Tag Archives: Google

Friday Bullet Points NOT About WoW Classic

I have been all about WoW Classic for a stretch now.  The run up to the launch, less than two weeks ago still, probably made that seem even longer.  But other things have been going on, a few of which I want to note in passing, which gets us to another Friday Bullet Points post.

  • Fallen Earth Falling

I had to dig around a bit to find anything here about Fallen Earth.  I have some very vague recollections in the back of my brain and some references in a post to playing in the beta just before the launch.  I also recall it going free to play at some point, but that happened to almost every MMO at some point between 2009 and now, didn’t it?

Since I paid so little attention to it over the years since then, you might have been able to convince me that it had already shut down.  But it hasn’t, though it is planning to.  The CEO put out a message in the forums that the state of the game was such that they plan to bring the game down come October 2, 2019.  There is hope that the downtime will allow the team to repair the game so as to bring it back at an unspecified future date.  We shall see if it returns from the dead or succumbs to the apocalypse.  Hell of a way to celebrate a decade online though.

  • LOTRO Legendary Carries On

Late last year my nostalgia obsession was the LOTRO Legendary, a fresh start experience from Standing Stone Games.  While very low effort when compared to WoW Classic, it too had queues, problems it had to patch, and ended up having to double its server count, though here it meant going from one to two servers.

A legend in its own something or other

I was enamored with it through the original content, but fell off the nostalgia wagon somewhere in the depths of Moria.  Not the first time that has happened to me.  But it carries on without me, having announced this week that the Rise of Isengard expansion has been unlocked on Anor and Ithil servers.

  • Homeworld 3 is Coming

In the pantheon of classic RTS games Homeworld and Homeworld 2 stand out as high points in the space based branch of the genre.  I never played either, but I swear every time half a dozen Naglfar’s undock in EVE Online somebody brings up the game as they look like a ship from it. (Some Nags shooting a Nyx for reference.)

In the everything old is new again way of video games these days, both titles have seen a remastered to bring them up to current standards.  But that isn’t enough.

Gearbox Publishing is working on Homeworld 3, which includes a crowdfunding campaign.  And, as down as I am on video game crowdfunding at this point, this looks to be of the better of the breed, being for a game that is mostly done… and which isn’t an MMO.  They asked for a dollar as a minimum and are now through the $600K mark.  It is basically a pre-order mechanism that lets you buy your way into possibly influencing the game some.  The game will ship and we’ll get a crack at it… and they haven’t announced it is an Epic Store exclusive or anything… this just allows you to get some special things early if you simply cannot contain yourself.  There is also an investment option if you care to drop $500 on the game and think it will do well.

There is also a trailer for the game up now as well.

  • Google Stadia is Coming to Fail

Google Stadia is still coming, being due out at some point in November, no doubt timed for the holiday shopping season.  It still isn’t for me, but the question is starting to become who is it really for?

Over at Gamasutra there is a blog post exploring that very question with the optimistic title Google Stadia Will Fail at Launch – Here is Why.  It brings up some of the initial questions about the service and then piles on a few more.  I suppose we’ll see when it launches.

  • EVE Echoes Alpha

Word is out that the alpha for the CCP/NetEase joint venture mobile game based on EVE Online has begun.  The progress toward alpha was announced early in August and it sounds like it kicked off on the 26th of last month.  Something else in the shade of WoW Classic.

From the sound of things, the functionality is quite limited, with docking and undocking, flying about, and simple combat being the focus of the test.

Image from a Reddit post about the alpha.

You have to create a solid foundation on which to build, so a simple start seems reasonable.  If you are interested in being part of the testing you can still sign up on the EVE Echoes site.

  • Origin Sells Out

Over at the Digital Antiquarian this week there is a post up about the acquisition of Origin Systems, the company founded by Richard “Lord British” Garriott, by Electronic Arts.

Rightly called Origin Sells Out, it is another in the line of tales I put under the heading of “The Madness of Lord British.”  He tried to work with EA, pulled out of that agreement, vilified EA for years, then sold the company to them for a boat load of cash.  The story covers the immediate impact of the sale, which wasn’t all bad, but which saw the Origin change and sets up for follow on posts about some titles that came out later.  Worth a read as a piece of video games history.

Friday Bullet Points – Comings and Goings

Another Friday and there are some bits of news wandering around the net that I want to mention, but really don’t want to get into a whole post about.  So off we go.

  • Google Stadia

Google’s game streaming subscription service, Google Stadia, got a November launch date.  Just in time for Christmas, as they say.

The Founder’s Edition will run you $129 to get in and $9.99 a month thereafter.  For that you get a controller, a dongle that hooks up to your TV, some “free” games thrown your way regularly, and support for up to 4K video.  A Standard Edition is listed, but won’t be available until next year.  The Standard Edition won’t have a monthly fee, but will only support up video up to 1080p.

There is a list of games that will be available at launch, though some items on the list are TBD.  You, of course, have to buy the games and those purchases are locked to Google’s platform.  But you can play them on your Google Pixel phone as well.

I have zero interest in this, so this might be the only time I mention it unless something goes horribly wrong or Google shuts it down.  But what are the odds of that?

  • Google Play Tightens Up

Meanwhile, in another department at Google, those in charge of the Google Play store have decided that maybe the whole “anything goes” strategy there isn’t working out. (Steam, are you listening?)  The Google Play Store policies are being revised and targets include hate speech and sexual content.  They are also requiring that titles with loot boxes disclose the odds of obtaining any particular item and they are instituting a minimum functionality metric for apps.  While sexuality and hate speech are squishy topics, not easily defined, posting odds and requiring that stuff works sound good to me.

  • Esports is a Money Pit

Kotaku has an article up reviewing esports and the companies that drive them.  For all the talk of audience numbers (which turn out to be wildly inflated, that headline about League of Legends out performing the SuperBowl was largely because Twitch had the stream on the front page and counted everybody who landed there for any amount of time as a viewer), it seems that esports, even for the biggest names like Riot and League of Legends, is a money losing proposition.  Expect more leagues to close down.

  • Millennials Buy More Games

SuperData Research released a free report which you can download at their site about consumer spending patterns on video games.  Or you can read a summary of it over at Venture Beat.   The big headline carrying the report is that millennials, who are now young adults with jobs and careers and such, spend more money on them than older generations.  Who would have guessed?  Millennials spend more and prefer mobile as a platform.

  • Baldur’s Gate III

There was some excitement as it was announced that a Baldur’s Gate III was in development. That got people a lot more worked up than I expect they ought to be.  The original Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II were classics developed by BioWare, but that was back at the turn of the century.  Remasters of both titles have been released on Steam, and somebody even did an additional expansion for the Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition remaster.

But all of that is more than a few steps away from some new team taking a crack at the franchise 20 years later.  This new game is likely to be very different… it might not have the isometric point of view… and maybe it should be.  But part of the reason it is getting announced now is because it will be on Google Stadia, which means it will have to support console controls, and I have not had a lot of good experiences with PC games that have their UI constrained by the need to be used solely with a controller.  I have the remasters.  If I want to relive the late 90s, I can do that just fine already.

  • Whatever That Blizzard Game Was

It slipped out that Blizzard cancelled an in-development FPS based on the StarCraft franchise in order to focus more on Diablo IV and Overwatch 2.

But rather than headlines about Overwatch 2 or Diablo IV confirmed, there was a bunch of wailing and gnashing of teeth about Blizzard and mindless pining for a game that never was.  Cancelling development on something in progress before it launches is a pretty normal thing in mature companies with multiple product lines.  Hell, it should be seen as a normal thing for Blizzard.  Remember Titan?  How far back was StarCraft: Ghost?

I think that this stems from companies in the gaming industry, small studio start-ups that have everything invested in a single title, being our mental image of how video games are made.  There are plenty of “ship or die” stories out there.  But that doesn’t apply to companies like Blizzard.  Meanwhile, if Blizzard doesn’t think the game is worth pursuing, pinning all your game play fantasies on it just because you like the idea of it sounds like a futile effort.  So if you’re doing that you should probably start a blog.

Minus Google Plus

At some point this morning Google Plus, Google’s ill fated attempt to take on Facebook, went away.

Not that we had not been warned.  The word went out last October that due to security issues and the cost of keeping the service up to date on that front, along with low usage, Google Plus would be shut down in August of 2019.  And then more security issues came up and they said screw it, it is coming down in April.

They knew enough to avoid April 1

The third part APIs went first, being removed early last month, at which posts from the blog stopped going there.  This wasn’t the first time they had stopped.  Google had broken that connection previously, and for a long stretch auto-posts were flagged as private.  I suspect that I lost any regular followers on the service when that happened a couple years back.  But in March they went down for good.

WP.com letting people know

Last night I took a look and saw that it was still listed on the Google front page.

The top six on April 1

This morning though it was gone, all of the other services having moved up a spot.

Top six on April 2

And so it goes.

As I note previously I did, up until the very end, check Google Plus almost daily, though for the last year at least it had been mostly the Richard Bartle feed.  Posts from his personal blog appeared there daily, even after the APIs were shut down.  He must have been putting the links up there manually.  And if I miss his posts I know where to find them in any case.

I am sure some will miss the service more, mostly because Google really pushed integration with Google Plus on every front.  If, for example, you took their advice and used Google Plus for comments on your blog… well, now all those comments are gone.  It is all gone.

Me… I’m not so hard hit.  This wasn’t like the blow of them shutting down Google Reader, something I am still pissed about more than five years later.  Just reading RSS feeds aside, it allowed you to build an outgoing feed that was the key to my live side bar feed.  I have been struggling ever since to find something that worked as reliably.  My current Rube Goldberg configuration mostly works, but is still down about half the time I check due to all the parts needing to be in exact sync the moment a request comes in.

The fate of Google Reader, another service they claimed had low usage… though its cancellation led to competing services being overwhelmed, proving one persons pittance can be anothers fortune I guess… made me reluctant to jump on Google Plus wholeheartedly.

And I am not alone.  Ars Technica has an article up about how the now long history of Google shutting down apps and services is hurting their brand.  How can you trust Google, how can you bring yourself to invest in their offerings, if they are more than likely to just yank the run out from under you.

I suppose the one success is GMail, which turned 15 years old yesterday.

Did they really launch on April 1?

But GMail has ads in it… Google used to parse your email in order to generate those ads, something is said it would stop doing, but how can an end user tell… so has a revenue stream of some sort.  So it is maybe safe from closure.  But does anything beyond that and search have revenue?

Anyway, another Google offering bites the dust.

Google Plus Ungood Securewise

Alternate Headline: Users unbellyfeel Google prolefeed, becomes unservice.

It is probably just me that saw the Newspeak potential in the demise of Google Plus.

That attempt at humor aside, the word has gone out from the Googleplex in Mountain View that Google Plus will be no more.  Or that the consumer version of the product will be no more following a 10 month wind down, meaning that it will be gone at some point in August of 2019.  Google says that the enterprise version of Google Plus will continue.  Color me surprised that there was such a thing or that any enterprise outside of Google actually uses it, but they say “many” do.  I guess it is likely better than whatever Microsoft is pushing lately.  It is certainly better than anything Cisco has on offer.

The reason given for the closure in the news headlines involves a security flaw that could have potentially exposed the data for over half a million accounts.  The data exposed was limited to optional items entered in your Google profile (which is semi-public to start with unless you lock it down) and Google says it has no evidence that the flaw had been exploited.  But data breaches make for more views, so you may find your local news source pitching this as a stolen data panic.

The real reason for the closure is a little less dramatic.

Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

Basically, so few people use Google Plus that it isn’t worth the effort needed to keep it secure.  They didn’t just say “low” usage but “very low” usage.  You’ll probably get no greater admission of failure than that.  If it has been popular they would have kept it open.  But now they have an excuse to shut it down.

Of course, part of me cheered at the news.  I am old, have a long memory, and have been prone at times to carry resentments long past their expiration dates, so I continue to see Google Plus as the reason that Google killed off the much loved and still missed (by me at least) Google Reader.  It has been more than five years since that happened and I am still annoyed by it and I still haven’t found a replacement that did all Google Reader did at its peak.  Some twisted logic in the back of my brain sees this as justice for the late idolized RSS reader.

But a bit of me is bemused by the change.  As it turns out, I actually check Google Plus pretty much daily.  There are a few people I follow there, including Richard Bartle, that make it worth the effort. The updates aren’t rapid, so it is something I check once or twice a day at most, but I do check it.

I also syndicate my blog feed there as well and get the occasional response, so there is life out there still.  But the activity isn’t anywhere close to what it was during the early days of the service, which in itself wasn’t that much compared to the competition, which is and always was Facebook.  Nobody is saying Google Plus influenced the last election or anything else.

So I suppose I will miss it.  And I know that it going away won’t magically bring back Google Reader, so my missing it will be genuine.  You can’t blame a company for shutting down a service that few use and which brings in no revenue.  The same goes for Google Reader as well.  And iGoogle.  And Google Insights.  And Orkut.  Man, what is it with me and dead Google products?

And so it goes.  We’ll see how it winds down between now and August.

Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead

There is a game you can play with Google… well, there are probably many, but this is one of them… where you enter the name of something, followed by “is” to see what pre-filled search suggestions come up.  These results are driven by what people have searched for previously.

As I was playing this game the other night instead of doing something important, I began to notice a trend in my searches.  It seemed like Google was declaring most everything dead.

Sure, sometimes that was apt.

GSAbeVigodais

Abe Vigoda, after being reported dead by mistake on multiple occasions over the years, does indeed now sleep with the fishes, having passed earlier this year.

And sometimes the result wasn’t so spot on:

GSObamais

I’m pretty sure somebody would have mentioned if he was dead… or a mack daddy.

I decided to see if that trend held for video games on my side bar.  First on the list was, of course, EVE Online:

GSEVEis

Given that “EVE is dying…” is practically an meme at this point, that wasn’t too surprising.

Likewise, EverQuest, at 17 years of age got a similar result:

GSEQis

At least it wasn’t both “dead” and “dying” I suppose.  Of course, that last item lead me to World of Warcraft:

GSWoWis

Three of those aren’t so good, “dead,” “dying,” and “boring.”  Even EVE Online didn’t get “boring” as a top result.  That lead to a series of other titles, all of which at least got dead as a result:

GSGW2is

GSLOTROis

GSRiftis

GSWildStaris

I had a whole run there where “dead” wasn’t just a result, but the top result.  Then I started branching out from MMOs:

GSSCis

GSTF2is

I finally hit a game where “dead” wasn’t the top result, though I am not sure that was a good thing:

GSStarCis

Even Minecraft got “dead” as a result, though at least it was in fourth position, which was practically an endorsement at this point:

GSMinecraftIs

Hey, “awesome” came before “dead!”

Landmark was odd, but I think it suffers from having a generic name:

GSLandmarkis

Still, I think “dead” might be in there just for it.

Then, finally, I hit a game that wasn’t dead:

GSLOLis

League of Legends is only “dying,” not “dead.”  Also, it is “gay,” which I think says more about the demographic that is searching for things about it.  Still, it is doing better than Heroes of the Storm:

GSHotSis

“Dead,” “dying,” “bad,” and “free!”

Then at last, I hit a search where “dead” wasn’t even a result:

GSHearthis

I’m not sure Hearthstone was really winning with that draw.  I mean sure, “dead” wasn’t on the list, but the rest was hardly an endorsement.

They see me bloggin’, they syndic-hatin’

Google is out there giving me the Luigi Death Stare on yet another front.

He means business...

He means business…

It is interesting to see how much Google affects traffic at my site, and how much changes they make at their end can cause that traffic to ebb and flow.  They change their rankings of results, they decide to cache images for Google image search rather than going to your site, they shut down things like Google Reader, all of that has had a noticeable impact on the number of page views here at The Ancient Gaming Noob.

Currently, the big variable in daily traffic is search engine related.  Unless somebody links in me a post on their own blog, the rest of my daily visitors are pretty regular, a lot of them coming from the much coveted (by those of us using WordPress) blogroll side bar widget that Blogger offers.

I love that feature.  It works.

While the static blogroll in my own side bar barely generates any traffic for other sites, that Blogger widget that shows you who has a fresh post up, that actually gets clicks.

So I was a little bemused when that wonderful widget stopped working last week.

It didn’t go away or completely break, it just seemed to stop picking up new post for me.

If you went to one of the sites that uses that sidebar widget… Blessing of Kings, Player Versus Developer, Greedy Goblin, Herding Cats… right now, as I am writing this on Saturday, August 2nd, it would tell you that my current post is the one from Wednesday, July 30th.

PvD_Sidebar

Basically, nothing new to see at TAGN, don’t bother clicking!  And that actually has an impact on page views.  The sites I mentioned actually send me some regular daily traffic.

Not that page views are the most important thing in the world.  But I like people to know I’m active at least!

Normally I would just blame this sort of thing on WordPress.  They like to break things, giving me a supply of site related fodder for my month in review posts.  Most people use the default RSS feed that WordPress provides.

Only I was not having a similar problem with Feedly and other, non-Blogger sites, like EVE Bloggers seemed to be having no problem at all picking up my latest posts.  And the feed itself looked okay.  So it was time to experiment.

I was able to enlist Bhagpuss and the blogroll at Inventory Full for this.

I have two RSS feeds for this site.  One is the default WordPress feed and another goes through FeedBurner, yet another Google company.  I was wondering if Google might be more inclined to find my updates if they were coming from FeedBurner.

And it looks like they are.  Go to Bhagpuss’ site and it shows my current post.  Probably this one at the moment.  All of which is double strange, since the FeedBurner feed is actually generated from the default WordPress feed.  But Google seems to like it when FeedBurner sends them updates.

So here is my plea to my fellow bloggers using that blogroll side bar widget:

Can you swap over and use my FeedBurner feed?  It is linked there and at the top of my side bar.

Thanks!

PS Occasionally somebody mentions that something is wrong with my feed, the it suddenly spew out a bunch of recent posts flagged as new again.  While WordPress controls that feed (so I cannot do much) you might try the FeedBurner feed as well to see if the problem goes away.

PPS I don’t have to explain the whole syndicating/syndic-hatin’, Rollin’ Dirty, Luigi death stare thing, do I?

 

 

And Sometimes Google Just Freaks Me Out…

I opened my browser to see a new Google doodle.  Something to do with cake.  So I moused over it to see what was being celebrated.

GoogleBDay

Wait, what?  I am today’s doodle?

And then I realized that I was logged in to Google and had no doubt entered a date of birth somewhere along the way.  This was up there just for me.

Well played Google, well played.