Tag Archives: Black Desert Online

September in Review

The Site

The site turned twelve, something about which I went on at length in a post mid-way through the month.

The official notification

It was also the month that saw the most likes in a single day on the site.

Such an achievement

I don’t know why.  I never know why.

It was also a month for some big news, acquisitions, closures, and new expansions.  All of that, plus the usual residual interest in the site after Blaugust, drove things to a pretty decent month when it came to page views.  It still isn’t 2012, but it was a very respectable month by 2018 standards.

Finally, for the third month running, the most viewed posts does not include a single post written during the month.  It isn’t unusual for older posts to become search engine favorites, but I have yet to figure out why some of those posts, making their third appearance on the list, are popular.

One Year Ago

The blog turned eleven and so I brought out an elf.

I was talking about a typewriter.  The first typewriter I used.  I still have it.

Raptr announced that they would be shutting down at the end of the month.

GuildWars 2 launched their Path of Fire expansion.

Pokemon Gold & Silver were made available via the 3DS Virtual Console.

Crimson Leaf Games announced MegaWars – Dawn of the Third Age.

I took a look at Daybreak 30 months into is existence.  And, as I did that, we got the bad news that EQ2 Wire was shutting down after covering the game for nine years.  Then Daybreak announced that the Fippy Darkpaw server would be merged with the Vulak server… probably a few years too late to make any difference.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a heads up as to the coming Lifeblood expansion, complete with trailer.  Last I checked the site was still up, but running pretty much unattended.

I was running on about meaningful PvE progression in New Eden and going on about return on time invested and content on demand.

In space I was doing the Alpha Strikes event while the August MER showed that deploying to Hakonen cost the Imperium in mining and ratting revenue.

Then came the Warzone Extraction event to celebrate the non-VR version of the soon to be in maintenance mode EVE: Valkyrie.  It was a tough event by EVE Online PvE standards and I am sure it killed some newbies.

But the big EVE Online news of the month was The Judge betraying Circle of Two, selling their Keepstar to the Imperium (who later sold it to TEST) and the camp in 68FT-6 as alliance members tried to escape from their former home.  GigX was banned and CO2 seemed doomed.  It was one of those “Only in EVE” sort of events.

Andrew Groen was planning some EVE Online history lectures via a new podcast.  That only lasted five episodes before he went back to writing books on EVE Online history.

In a bullet points post I noted the passing of the EVE Gate site, that CCP cancelled their deal with Nexon for Japanese EVE Online support, that Ultima Online was talking about free to play, and that Daybreak wasn’t going to be handing out any more free content in Norrath for the foreseeable future.

And finally Chris Roberts was unironically talking about developer optimism in an interview.

Five Years Ago

We heard that Warhammer Online was slated to shut down in December.

We also got the official word that Blizzard would be killing the auction house in Diablo III.

SOE was getting over some of their Station Cash screw ups.

In general I wasn’t too excited about the expansion outlook on the MMO scene.

In EVE Online the Rubicon expansion went live.  Our corp had a little drama as Gaff plotted to overthrow our CEO and created a new corp, Black Sheep Down.  As is usual, he was good for the intrigue, but once he became El Supremo, he got bored and stopped playing.  Happens after every coup… and there have been a few.  We went from being literally the worst corp in TNT to… erm… well, that didn’t change I guess.  We did run out to low sec for a fight and I put my alt in the corp to bolster our numbers because there was a minimum height requirement or something.

In general we were finishing up our deployment in Delve cleaning up after the TEST collapse and I hit 110 million skill points.  Also, there was the war between evebloggers.com and evebloggers.net.

The instance group, in a hint as to where we were headed, ran a series of WoW dungeon knock-offs in Neverwinter.

And it was time for the usual bout of autumnal nostalgia.  This time I returned to Azeroth, which made me ask the question, when is it nostalgia anyway?  My daughter and I and a friend had a plan to roll up some new characters on a new server.  Whatever it was, it felt like home.

And, finally, I covered the great resurrection exploit in TorilMUD.

Ten Years Ago

Warhammer Online went live, first with the head start and then for everybody.

As we saw with other MMOs, there were issues coordinating with friends about which server to choose, leading to yet another gripe post about the whole sharded existence we have had to put up with in MMOS.  I did wonder if the EverQuest II mechanism of multiple versions of a given zone might be worth it to get everybody on a single server.

The instance group was into WAR (after escaping from Durnhold Keep), though as a group we have some parameters that we had to work within.  And the battlegrounds in WAR were not playing out well.  And the type of quests that were in PvE led to some talk about which goal was worse.

In Warhammer itself, war were declared on gold sellers and Mythic was being very demonstrative about it.  Of course, it did not appear to stem tells from gold seller bots that seemed to sit active for days.

went on about those tips you see on the loading screen of many MMOs, spurred by a couple less than helpful tips in WAR.

In EVE Online I hit a major ISK milestone.  But I was building up ISK because I had my eye on a freighter.

The Empyrean Age 1.1 update was upon us, which included 2 changes designed to reduce the scourge of suicide ganking.  And nobody ever complained about that again.

Meanwhile CCP was offering up battleships for sale… model battleship for real cash, not ISK.

But the most important EVE Online event was probably Yahtzee Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation review of EVE Online Much shoe-on-head wearing and talk about tactical logistics reconfiguration ensued.

In EverQuest II, the Living Legacy promotion was ending.

I was wondering why there wasn’t a World of Warcraft animated series yet.  I think that might have been better than the movie we got.

LEGO Batman showed up.

And, finally, the site hit the two year mark.

Fifteen Years Ago

Valve released the first version of Steam, mostly to replace the World Opponent Network they bought from Sierra.

SOE released the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion for EverQuest, bringing instanced small group content to the game.  Their ads specifically mentioned the new “dungeon crawl” experience.

Twenty Years Ago

Pokemon Red & Blue for the Nintendo GameBoy and GameBoy Color launched in North America.

Delta Force launched in the US.  I have written about it and voxels and the coming of 3D accelerated video cards in the past.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  2. Extra Credits – Picking at the Lockbox Thing Some More
  3. Do You Wear the Mask or does the Mask Wear You?
  4. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  5. Winter Movie League – Denouement
  6. SuperData and the Rise of Fortnite
  7. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  8. Rift Prime Time
  9. Spring Movie League – Wrinkle in the Mix
  10. Honest Game Trailers – Animal Crossing
  11. The Road to CSM13
  12. February in Review

Search Terms of the Month

are there any games as good as everquest
[No]

everquest franchise dead?
[Also no]

minecraft complaints
[It is so blocky to start with…]

minecraft how to make warm ocean
[Declare it the toddler pool]

how to hand in madness within wow
[I think most of the madness is outside of WoW]

Spam Comment of the Month

Yes! Finally something about facebook advertising.
[I nearly approved this just for irony’s sake]

Black Desert Online

Since Pearl Abyss was set to buy CCP I thought I would take a look at the game that people keep putting forth as a cash shop pay-to-win horror show.  I haven’t done much past the tutorial so far, but it does have its own look and feel.  It ain’t WoW, which isn’t a bad thing.  We’ll see if I end up playing enough of it to be able to make a post.

EVE Online

The war in the north has come to and end with a peace agreement signed earlier this month that came into effect yesterday.  We will be packing up and leaving the north for a month and won’t pester GotG for at least six months.  That will make for a quiet October as people get home and pick up mining and ratting again to make some money.  That will make some time for other things, since I haven’t ratted or mined or done PI in a year at this point.  Maybe I’ll watch some TV.

EverQuest II

This came out of nowhere… or out of the thin yet cooling air of autumn.  Anyway, suddenly I was keen to go and play in Norrath towards the end of the month.  And I did.  And I continue to do so.  We shall see.

Pokemon Go

I finally caught a Lapras, so I can take that off the list finally.  In two years I only ran into one once, and it ran away after the first throw.  This month Niantic changed the Pokemon mix back to favor first generation and now I’ve caught five.  Still, it was an exciting moment when I caught that first one.

It was also the month of many friends.  One of the special research tasks required you to add three new friends.  After struggling for a bit and only finding one, I posted my friend code on Twitter and got more than a dozen in a short time.  I deleted the tweet after a while as it was a bit too successful.  Now I have 19 friends to find gifts for, most of whom are from Japan.  That is probably more friends than I have in real life.  But it is kind of neat as each gift has a picture that goes with it, so I’ve seen some new places… and the 7-11 logo.  There must be a Pokestop at every 7-11 in Japan or something.

Level: 33 (+0)
Pokedex status: 339 (+4) caught, 357 (+3) seen
Pokemon I want: Dragonite… Dratini are so rare where I live
Current buddy: Wailmer

World of Warcraft

My efforts in Azeroth sort of petered out over the course of the month.  I went from daily logins during Darkmoon Faire to basically logging in for a bit each weekend to get a little further along with my main on Kul Tiras, who is still just level 117 at this point.  This is sort of how non-addicts play video games I hear.  Admittedly, this slackening of attention might not have been entirely out of boredom with the game as during this period of time my wife and I also binge-watched the first three seasons of Better Call Saul and the first season of Castle Rock and most of the first season of Handmaid’s Tale, and some of that show on Hulu with Hugh Laurie, as well as knocking out season five of Bojack Horseman with my daughter and getting through season three of Archer and the first few episodes of season 2 of Ozark on my own.

That is actually a lot of television.

So perhaps WoW isn’t wholly to blame.  I just spent a lot of time on the couch rather than in front of my computer.

Coming Up

BlizzCon is actually on November 2nd which, while not next month, is close enough that I am sure we’ll be hearing more news and speculation as to what Blizzard might be showing.

I expect some more news from Daybreak.  We got the title of the coming EverQuest II expansion, but no details.  In addition, there is still an EverQuest expansion that they ought to be talking about.

In EVE Online things will probably be somewhat quiet.  The war in the north is over for now and we have committed to taking a month off.

There is also EVE Vegas coming up mid-month.  I will be attending again.  I will actually be speaking.  But don’t worry, I am only talking about blogging, so you won’t be missing anything if you’re not there.

Market Saturation and the Cash Shop

In which I prove I can be both cranky and cynical at the same time.

I seem to have two standard sort of Friday posts.  One is a set of succinct bullet points.  The other is a rambling wall of words that never quite gets to a real conclusion.  This is Friday post is the latter.  You have been warned.

So the topic du jour lately has been Black Something Online.  I honestly cannot remember as I write this, and I have probably read the name five dozen times over the last two weeks.  So I suppose you can add “jaded” to the my blogging super powers.  (The missing word is “Desert,” but I had to tab out and look Feedly to find it.  Black Desert Online.  I kept wanting to write Black Diamond Online.)

Anyway, since it is free to play, the cash shop became an issue… once everybody was done gushing about the character creator at least… though there is some contention as to what the actual issue is.  Is it that the cash shop is too expensive or that people are too cheap or that the whole thing lacks ethics or what?

I think only Bhagpuss has spent much time talking about actual game play, and even he seemed to be tiring a bit.

But game play isn’t where I want to go.  I want to join in on the cash shop fun.

Random internet picture captures the morality...

Random internet picture captures the morality…

I have my own view on cash shops and free to play, which I generally sum up as tired resignation.  They are the reality of the MMORPG market today.  What started as an attempt to by troubled titles like Anarchy Online, Silk Road Online, and eventually Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online, to grab some sort of competitive advantage over their monthly  subscription based rivals quickly became the default method of operation.

Remember back during the pre-launch hype around Warhammer Online when Mark Jacobs said he was considering charging MORE than the then industry standard $14.99 a month for the game’s subscription?  Those not caught up in the hype dismissed the idea while even those who were looking forward to the game seemed to think that Mark had better have something pretty fucking special up his sleeve in order to go that route.

He didn’t and that whole idea sank quietly into the swamp, foreshadowing the story of the game itself.

But that is sort of how things are today.  If somebody comes along and says they want to launch a fantasy MMORPG with a $14.99 a month subscription as the only option, you would be right to dismiss that as crazy talk.  The Edler Scrolls Online and WildStar certainly got schooled on that front, both admitting defeat in under a year.

Only three games seem to be good enough for that route, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, World of Warcraft, and EVE Online.  Basically, the new champion of the fanatsy MMO experience, the old favorite, and the odd-ball that doesn’t fit nicely into the genre.  And the latter two have the WoW Token and PLEX, so you can play for free so long as you can get somebody else to pay.

As a business model the “monthly subscription only” idea is nearly extinct.

But now the cash shop is the market default.  Free is no long a competitive advantage, it is now a requirement to even sit at the table.  Everybody is free.  Everybody has a cash shop.  And most MMORPGs seem to be able to eke out some sort of livelihood in that market… which is a problem in and of itself.

MMOs don’t die very easily.  They linger on and on.  They don’t necessarily attract new players or grow, but they figure out how to hold onto their core players and get them to cough up enough money to keep the servers on and development going.  EverQuest and EverQuest II still have expansions for their core base.  Star Wars: The Old Republic has gotten past hot bars and seems to be doing okay selling content… and the forcing people to subscribe to access it. (But a new Star Wars movie probably helped a lot as well.)  Hey man, whatever you have to do.  DDO still have levels to add and new classes to sell.  LOTRO has… erm… let me think about that… no more expansions… no more Euro data center… oh, yeah, Tolkien!

But the market has grown, there are a lot more MMOs out there than back in 2004 when WoW and EQII launched.  Go look at the list of games that launched back in 2004.  It feels like ancient history.  Battlefield: Vietnam! Half-Life 2!  Halo 2!  Katamari Damancy!  Pokemon FireRed & LeafGreen… on the GameBoy Advance!

Imagine a market when you wanted to launch a new shooter but people wouldn’t stop playing something that went live 12 years ago?  And not just a few cranky hold outs on old hardware who couldn’t run your game even if they wanted to, but the mainstream of your market.  This is sort of what SWTOR launched into and for all of its faults, it was in large part fighting for market share of an audience that tends to stay fairly loyal to their favored game for years.

We’ve heard and dismissed past estimates of how big the potential MMO market is.  People thought it was 100,000 players big or 500,000 or a million or five million or whatever.  Those estimates turned out to be far too low.  But there was an effective upper limit out there somewhere, a hard stop where the genre simply ran out of players willing to commit the time and effort that MMOs demand.  I don’t know how big that number is, but it feels like it has stopped growing and may even have begun to shrink.

This was another Mark Jabobs thing, that the MMO market was going to be bigger than anybody thought… which was true enough.  But maybe not as true as he hoped, as he has gone from ironically saying “MMOs are a niche market” to making a niche title because the market isn’t all that big after all.

So in a genre where there are only so many people who will even hear about any new MMO coming out (MMOs are no longer news unless EVE Online has another big space battle or WoW launches an expansion), a subset of which would be willing to commit the time that an MMO requires, and where a good number of those players are already in a long term relationship with their favored MMO, any new title shows up has a steep hill to climb for success.

I am therefore not surprised that any new MMO that comes along goes straight for the cash shop antics that piss a lot of people off.  Any MMO that launches eventually has to buy into the trifecta of annoyance with over-priced items (to harvest whales), lock boxes or random card packs (to prey on those with poor self control), and constant reminders about the cash shop and sales and what is new and hot (to cajole the rest of us to buy and keep buying) because that is what it takes to survive and they don’t yet have the luxury of a core audience that would buy things like expansions.

What does surprise me is that anybody thinks they can wander into the MMO market with a game that is a rehash of WoW (2004)… which itself was just a rehash of EQ (1999)… with a few cosmetic differences (as I noted, most of the non-cash shop things I have seen about BDO has been about character models) and some slightly different game play (which is true to anybody besides the connoisseur) and expect market success.  It boggles the mind.

Of course, there is no doubt a message in the fact that the last few attempts have been Asian imports warmed over for the western market.  Nobody who has to pay salaries in US Dollars or Euros seems interested in going there from scratch.  (And just on cue, EverQuest Next has been cancelled.  More on that in another post.)

The right move seems to be to go niche, stay small, and build a following around a specific vision, as with Shroud of the Avatar, Project: Gorgon, Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, or Star Citizen…  and then maybe gouge the whales on the real estate or spaceship market.  Even Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen and its plan to farm the failed mechanics of the past seems to be a better plan in today’s MMO market than going for a release with broad appeal.

Of course, we have yet to see any of those titles… aside from Project: Gorgon, which may be the smallest of the lot… actually deliver on their vision in any substantial way yet.  We shall see if that ends up being a good path forward when… and if… those titles reach a salable product state.

So that was about a twelve hundred word stream of consciousness ramble.  But at least I linked out to a few people.  Hi blog neighbors!

I suppose I need a point of some sort to sum up now.  Let me see… here are a few.  Pick one you like.

(There is an oh-so-clever poll below this, which sometimes gets eaten by AdBlock, in case you don’t see it.)


I look forward to a few angry comments about completely tangential items that I brought up briefly along the way.  Early guesses include “BDO isn’t like WoW,” “LOTRO is doing great,” “Game X has changed/will change everything,” and something about Star Citizen.

Now when is WoW Legion going to ship?