Tag Archives: Awkward Metaphors

Another Steam Winter Sale Fades Away

One last poke at 2015… for now.

I always want to use water vapor as a metaphor when I write about Steam.  As it turns out however, water vapor is relatively untapped as a source of humor, though Wikipedia assures me that as much as 80% of electrical generation involves steam in some form or another.  Also, autoclaves.

So the best I can manage is something about dissipation or condensation… which I think both accurately describe some aspects of the just past (should be done before this posts) Steam Winter Sale.

Through 10am on January 4th, which is today...

Through 10am on January 4th, which is today…

The dissipation aspect was the nature of the sale itself.  As I previously noted, gone were the daily deals, flash sales, and other usual methods to get us all to stare at the Steam Store wondering if we should buy now or delay.  Everything that was going on discount was at the same price throughout the sale.

That took a bit of the edge off of things for sure.  One could ponder one’s wishlist at leisure and decide if the price was right… though I must admit that my own wishlist is sort of a video game purgatory, where games are sent to linger in an uncertain state, neither purchased nor ignored, for years at a stretch.

Then there was condensation, an opposite action in order to give focus.  In this case, the usual holiday card game required you to go through three recommendation queues each day in order to earn the cards.  Just the sort of minimal OCD sort of activity that works for me.  I went through every day, earning 39 cards, which I guess means that the sale was 13 days long… or maybe I missed a day.

Cards obtained

Cards obtained… and there was no tomorrow when I got this message…

I actually got enough cards to complete the set for once, which allowed me to craft a badge of some sort… not sure what that did, but it got me to level 9 in Steam levels.  I actually badgered Gaff to trade me the one card I needed and, after he finally consented, got that card in the next set of draws.

The queues themselves… which is a feature that showed up like a year ago… I think… are made up of 12 games that Steam thinks you might like based on your past purchasing behavior.  I had run through a couple queues back when they first launched the idea, but haven’t really looked at them since.   And then they became part of this event and I looked at a minimum of 39 of them… more I think, since at least one day I did an extra one, and then I did an extra one yesterday because I suddenly couldn’t remember how many games were in one.  And I went through them with moderate care, not just ripping through them to get my treat at the end.  So, by the last day I had looked at a lot of games.

Some Stats Steam Has on Me

Some Stats Steam Has on Me

I did add some to my wishlist… I think I had 20 games there to start with, though I took a few off as I added more… so maybe 20 games added total.   And, of course, I flagged more than a few as “not interested,” all of which left me with a few observations.

-Jesus there are a lot of games on Steam!  Somebody probably has an absolute number (Google says “more than 6,000”), but there is a difference between a number and actually wading through a few hundred.

-We still need to master the whole online interface for shopping.  Sure, there are more than 6,000 games on Steam, but you only ever see maybe a dozen at a time on the front page and devs are so inconsistent with descriptions that search likely won’t find everything you might want to see.

-How many Call of Duty titles has Activision made at this point?

-You buy one freakin’ Amine themed game (Valkyria Chronicles) and Steam feels the need to show you every other one it can find.

-Flagging something “Not Interested” seems to only impact that particular title.  Flagging half a dozen Anime themed games seemed to do nothing to abate the flow of them through my queue.

-Likewise, flagging something “Not Interested” when it is part of a series of games doesn’t seem to have any impact on being offered other games in the series.

-Removing something from your wishlist though, that makes that particular title appearing in your next queue pretty much a lock.

-There are way too many games out there, judging by description alone, that were made by grabbing 2-4 words from this list and running with it:

  • Sandbox
  • Survival
  • Shooter
  • Roguelike
  • Builder
  • RTS
  • Simulation
  • RPG
  • Story-drive
  • SciFi
  • 2D/3D
  • Platformer
  • Unique
  • Adventure

-There seemed to be a correlation between how dubious/low reviewed/indy a given title was and how much their description leaned on the 2-4 words they chose from that list.  Quality titles (subjective observation) don’t seem to go with those words in their description, all the more so since Steam has tags for that sort of thing.  (Also, remember when Steam tags were the end of the universe?)

-On the flip side, I only saw this used in a description once, and more is the pity; “retrofuturism.”  That is a word worthy of your game’s description.

-There are a load of space sim games out there.  Seriously, if you’re preaching that people must support Star Citizen because there are not enough space sims out there, you just aren’t looking very hard.  Okay, yes, nothing out there is aiming as high as Star Citizen, but there are a lot of niche titles on Steam that would likely tickle some aspect of your space sim needs until Chris Roberts finishes his magnum opus.

-There aren’t very many cowboy games.  Or at least there were not any in my queues.

And how well did all of that wading through queues work out for Steam?

If they were looking to get some money from me, not very well.  I ended up buying no new titles during the sale.

Which does not mean I did not add a new title to my library.  In one of my queues was a game called Endless Sky that I almost flipped past until the words “Escape Velocity” jumped out of its description.

Escape Velocity was a game from Ambrosia Software that I played the hell out of back in the 90s.  That was a long time ago on an operating system far, far away.  That triggered a moment of nostalgia, which I almost let pass… until I saw that Endless Sky was free.

I am not sure how “free” for a game with no add on sales is working for Steam, but I grabbed it and invested a few hours into it over the weekend.  While it is a work in progress, it does feel like the Escape Velocity.

So out of all of those daily queues, that was my big score: a free game based on a game I played about 20 years ago.

I am not sure that is the retrofuturism you were looking for.

Was there anything else worth getting during the sale?  Anything that couldn’t wait until summer?  And did Steam’s holiday queue magic work on you?

EverQuest II Tears of Veeshan Expansion Launches Quietly

Quietly is relative term in this case.  I am sure that if EverQuest II is your main game you were fully aware of what was going on with the game, including the Tears of Veeshan expansion that launched this week.

EQ2ToV_450px

But as something of an outsider to the SOE line of games these days… I am playing nothing from SOE at the moment… it seemed a bit quiet to me.

EverQuest II seems to be falling into the “Jan Brady” role in the EverQuest franchise family.  EverQuest, the older sibling, has already done most everything already, and when somebody wants to talk about the “good old days” or “classic MMOs,” EverQuest is the clear go-to title.

And how can EQII compete?

Tears of Veeshan is the 10th EQII expansion?  EQ launched its 10th expansion 8 years ago and already pushed out expansion number 20 this year.  And EQ even co-opts stuff that makes EQII unique, like housing.  You can just hear the sibling argument in your mind as EQII cries, “But housing was MY thing!  Why couldn’t you just let me have that for myself?”

Meanwhile, all attention is on the new baby, EverQuest Next.  Everybody loves that cute little tyke.

So there is EQII in the middle, “Hi everybody, I launched a new expansion!  Hello?”

As I said, I am not paying close attention to SOE games these days, not the way I would if I were playing them.  But I do watch the news.  I have EQ2 Wire in my RSS feed, which covers just about everything you need to know.  I was right there when SOE announced the straight to level 85 option and loosened up some of the restrictions on the free game.  Still I felt like I knew nothing about this expansion, though expansion excitement seemed to be low in a lot of places this year, which is odd.  Expansions are, in part, about re-igniting passion in your followers and giving people a reason to return to your game.  Look at BlizzCon and the Warlords of Draenor announcements.  Not everybody loved what was announced, but by the end of the weekend everybody seemed to have an opinion on what Blizz had on tap.   Yeah, not a fair comparison, orders of magnitude and such. But I still wasn’t sure what was Tears of Veeshan bringing to the table after SOE Live.

Now I do.

And a lot of what was in the expansion does seem a bit mundane when listed out.  Feldon has the meat of the details, but the overview is kind of a yawn for an outsider.

  • New Dragon based Alternate Advancement tree
  • Alternate Advancement point cap raised to 340
  • A new overland area, Vesspyr
  • More quests of all shapes and sizes
  • 9 new dungeons
  • 2 new raid zone
  • More trade skill stuff
  • A new equipment tier for PvP
  • New Guild Hall options

Nothing there is going to make somebody think, “Ah, I must go play EverQuest II!”  There is substance there.  EQTraders has a big post up about just the crafting updates with the expansion.

Oh, and one more thing.  I left one item off the list.  It probably wasn’t that important, as it only made it as the 5th bullet item on SOE’s feature list for the game. SOE added a new class to the game.

Wait, what?  A Channeler class was added?

That seems like huge news for the game.  Why wasn’t this the headline?  Everything else almost drops to the level of trivia when you add that to the list.

I have long bitched and moaned about the fact that SOE launched EQII with 24 classes, which I felt was too many and really limited their expansion options, since “add a new class” is a clear go-to option for these sorts of things, a way to experience the game afresh, a way to get old hands at the game to re-roll and play through the older content again (and thus slowing down their consumption of the new content I suppose), or at least a way to sell more instant level 85 options.

And so, in the nine years of EverQuest II, they have only ever added one class to the game, the Beastlord… which, like so much else, was borrowed from Marcia… I mean EverQuest.

Anyway, to the outsider like me, this seems like the lead item, the big news, something that the EQII team should be talking up.  How will this change the game?  How will this make me want to re-roll?  What makes this class unique and the thing to have?  And maybe they are talking that up.  Maybe I just can’t hear them over the noise of the new baby and the ongoing nostalgia for the older sibling.

Being the middle child can be tough.