Tag Archives: I could make a little list

SOE and Its MMORPGs

This started as just me attempting to see if I could list out all the MMORPGs that spent time under the SOE banner.  Then I started adding in some details and soon I had wasted my usual allotted writing time working on this, so it became a blog post.  Perhaps it will be something of historical interest at some point.  Anyway, I guess I am carrying on with Daybreak week here, because you know I’ll have another related post tomorrow.

For this list I have stayed with what I would consider “worldly” MMORPGs that SOE developed or published, not venturing into some of the other online games they did early on, such as Tanarus, Infantry, or Cosmic Rift, any of the collectible card games, or other games that were just published under their name without any real involvement, such as Payday.

That left me with the following list of titles in something like chronological order.

EverQuest

EverQuest

  • Launch Date: March 16, 1999
  • Current Status: Still Going
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

The original SOE MMORPG, the crown jewels, the foundation upon which everything else was built.  John Smedley gets Brad McQuaid, Jeff Butler, and a few other people to make a graphical version of Toril MUD.  Most popular of the “big three” early MMORPGs, which also included Ultima Online and Asheron’s Call.   Gave SOE the impetus to try to make more such games and Edward Castronova something to study for a few years.  Slated to get its 22nd expansion this fall.

Sovereign

  • Launch Date: Announced July 28, 1999
  • Current Status: Cancelled February 11, 2003
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info
Sovereign on display

Sovereign on display

Jenks brought this up in the comments after the post went live, so I am adding it after the fact.  Before The Agency and EverQuest Next, there was Sovereign, the MMORTS that never was. (Screen shot borrowed from Matthew Cox.  More screen shots are available on his site.)  There are bits and pieces about the game still bobbing about amongst the flotsam and jetsam of the internet, but I’ll let Chairmen Smed set the expectations:

We pushed the envelope of massively multiplayer gaming with 989 Studios’ EverQuest and created an entirely new set of expectations for the fantasy role player. Building on what we’ve learned and applying it to a strategy game will result in an incredible new product. Sovereign is this product, ”

-John Smedley, President and CEO of Verant Interactive.

EverQuest Online Adventures

  • Launch Date: February 11, 2003
  • Current Status: Closed March 29, 2012
  • Platform: PlayStation 2
  • Info

EverQuest moved to the PlayStation 2. (“Sony’s Cash Machine” according to CNN.)  The fact that it lasted through until 2012 speaks to the longevity of the PlayStation 2 platform and the one-time tendency for MMORPG players to settle down in a game for a long stay.

PlanetSide

  • Launch Date: May 20, 2003
  • Current Status: Still going… sort of…
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

SOE attempts to make a first person shooter MMO and mostly succeeds.  Blighted over the years by hacks, aim bots, and company neglect, it lives on today in something of an undead state, shambling around but largely ignored, because Smed was sentimental about the game and refused to close it.  I expect it will get shut down when somebody figures out where Smed hid the last server.

Star Wars Galaxies

  • Launch Date: June 26, 2003
  • Current Status: Closed December 15, 2011
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

A controversial game.  Some people loved it and swear to this day that it had the best crafting or housing or classes or whatever.  Others look at it and saw only the problems that plagued it, which included overly complex crafting, ugly trailer park stretches of indistinguishable player housing, and the whole Jedi issue.  Famously the focus of the New Game Enhancements in November 2005 (ordered directly by Lucas Arts or Smed depending on who you listen to) which either made the game more manageable or destroyed everything that was good about it.  It is the subject of thousands of reflective editorials.  Closed down (again, on the orders of Lucas Arts at the request of EA or by Smed) so as not to compete with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

EverQuest Macintosh Edition

  • Launch Date: July 2003
  • Current Status: Closed November 18, 2013
  • Platform: Mac OS
  • Info

EverQuest on the Mac, called out on its own because it had its own client, its own server, and had a very different trajectory than the game from which it was spawned.  Launched with the expansions through The Planes of Power, it never got another expansion.  Long ignored by SOE, it became the home of the “classic” EverQuest experience, with home brew instructions available on how to make the Windows client run on the Mac server.  When EverQuest went free to play, the Mac version was simply made free, since SOE still did not want to invest any time or effort into the game.  That lasted from early 2012 until late 2013, when the game was finally shut down.

EverQuest II

  • Launch Date: November 8, 2004
  • Current Status: Still Going
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

The Prince Charles to EverQuest’s Queen Elizabeth II, often better informed or more progressive yet still doomed to live forever in the shadow of its parent on a small island that used to rule half the known world.  EQII has always had a funny path to walk, needing to keep some affinity for old Norrath while trying to distinguish itself at the same time.  After a decade, 12 expansions, and 4 adventure packs, I think it is safe to call it a success or sorts, with its own dedicated following.  It has also had to live long in the shadow of WoW, which is probably the ascendant new world in that initial analogy.   Was two games for a while, when the EverQuest II Extended free to play trial was going, but that was merged back into the main game line.

The Matrix Online

  • Launch Date: March 22, 2005
  • Current Status: Closed July 31, 2009
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

The first of the misfit MMOs for SOE, and another in the long line of troubled titles.  Launched by Sega, the game had problems, but SOE took it over in August 2005 and revamped it.  A strange game, and one I found dissatisfying when I tried it.  Perhaps best summed up by Ben Kuchera when he wrote, “The Matrix Online offered a weirdly meta experience, as real people created virtual players to go online in a virtual world pretending to be a virtual world.”

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

  • Launch Date: January 30, 2007
  • Current Status: Closed July 31, 2014
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

The next on the island of misfit MMOs, the way, way over ambitious brain child of Brad McQuaid was supposed to be launched by Microsoft.  That agreement fell through, so Brad cut a deal with his old pals at SOE to publish the game.  The launch was so bad… the game was essentially broken, while going live within a week of World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade expansion helped bury any news about it… that in something of an anti-Victor Kiam move, SOE ended up buying the company.  A hero for saving the game for its few fans, SOE spent a lot of time simply fixing it.  After running hot and cold on the game for years, SOE finally converted it to a free to play title in August 2012… and then closed it when it still didn’t make any money after the initial conversion enthusiasm died.

The Agency

  • Launch Date: Never launched, originally announced July 11, 2007
  • Current Status: Still a legend told around the campfire, but died on March 31, 2011
  • Platform: Imagination
  • Info

In something of a foreshadowing event for EverQuest Next, SOE showed demos of The Agency at a couple of Fanfests and even sounded like they had a launch date in mind at one point. (Brenlo nearly slipped and said it on one of the SOE podcasts.)  Then there was a horrible Facebook game launched as The Agency: Covert Ops. to tide us over while development continues.  But the spy shooter MMORPG never made an appearance, finally being laid to rest on March 31, 2011.

Pirates of the Burning Sea

  • Launch Date: January 22, 2008
  • Current Status: Left SOE January 31, 2013
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

SOE using its expertise to go into the MMORPG publishing business.  In this case, the Flying Labs Caribbean ships and pirates game.  Ship to ship combat was pretty neat, but everything else was poor by comparison.  Eventually the game left SOE and is now run by Portalus Games.

Free Realms

  • Launch Date: April 28, 2009
  • Current Status: Closed March 31, 2014
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 3, Mac OS
  • Info

SOE was going to burst onto the free to play scene with a dedicated free title… a free title for the whole family.  Amusing to me was the fact that it took a year longer to get it out on PlayStation 3 than Mac OS.  Like most online games, it garnered a small but dedicated following.  However Smed seemed to think it was more trouble than it was worth.  After the shut down announcement Smed said, “No more kids games.  Kids don’t spend well and it’s very difficult to run a kids game.  Turns out Kids do mean stuff to each other a lot.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Adventures

  • Launch Date: September 15, 2010
  • Current Status: Closed March 31, 2014
  • Platform: Web launched Windows and Mac OS client
  • Info

Considered by me to be the bone that Lucas Arts threw SOE when they were told they would have to close down Star Wars Galaxies, this mini-game focused online encounter is getting to the far edge of what I might consider an MMORPG.  There was a lobby as opposed to a world, but you could still interact with other people.  It was from a period when every show on Cartoon Network got a web launched MMO like this.  Still, it got 10 million registered accounts.  Thrown out with the bloodbath of 2014.

EverQuest Next

  • Launch Date: Announced August 2010
  • Current Status: The dream was over on March 11, 2016
  • Platform: Windows and PlayStation 4
  • Info

I, and a bunch of other people, just wrote a lot of words about this.  (Words and links here)  Years after saying that MMORPG sequels were a bad idea, SOE decided it needed to carry on the world of Norrath in a new way.  Every fan of EverQuest then proceeded to project their dreams on this title.  It was The Agency all over again, only on steroid enhanced expectations.  I still think the name was a bad idea.

DC Universe Online

  • Launch Date: January 11, 2011
  • Current Status: Still Going
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, coming to XBox One
  • Info

SOE’s entry into the super hero market.  Started as a subscription game, which got Smed to make statement about regarding what subscribers should expect from such a business model, expectations which were not met.  Later converted to free to play.  Alleged to be an economically viable title on PlayStation, causing Daybreak to want to move this five year old title over to XBox.  Not my cup of tea, but super heroes never were… and the console focused control scheme on the Windows client made it even less enjoyable for me.

PlanetSide 2

  • Launch Date: November 20, 2012
  • Current Status: Still Going
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Info

Smed’s pet project, PlanetSide redone.  Has, at times, suffered from the same neglect and hacking issues as the original.  A troublesome title when it comes to revenue (“really struggling” was the quote, also “China“), since you can shoot people for free, and the pay to win options that people might spend money on don’t grant enough advantage.  Not sure that this will be on the train to an XBox One port.

Wizardry Online

  • Launch Date: January 30, 2013
  • Current Status: Closed July 31, 2014
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

SOE decides to see if it can make any headway with an Asian import game.  Wizardry Online at least had some name recognition in the West because of its roots in the old game on the Apple II.  However, the game’s lineage changed a lot since the early 80s, having turned decidedly… well… Asian in flavor since then.  Fails to grab a big enough audience to survive.

Landmark

  • Launch Date: Announced August 2013, set to launch Spring 2016
  • Current Status: Early Access
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

Originally a tool that was to be used to create EverQuest Next, it was weaponized and made into its own product.  Something of Minecraft with higher resolution graphics, I am still not sure what niche it will really fill.  More on that here.  Will not be free to play.

Dragon’s Prophet

  • Launch Date: September 23, 2013
  • Current Status: Closed November 16, 2015 (US only)
  • Platform: Windows
  • Info

After grabbing Wizardry Online, somebody at SOE apparently felt they needed for another title from Asia, only this time without any name recognition to carry it along.  Its main claim to fame was being from the same developer who made Runes of Magic.  I completely missed its launch and barely noticed when it closed down.  Still available in Europe where a different company published it.

H1Z1

  • Launch Date: Announced April 2014
  • Current Status: Split into two games
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Info

The original… and I use that word a bit ironically… zombie genre game idea from SOE.   Built off of the PlanetSide 2 platform, sold a million copies in Early Access.  Was slated to be a free to play game… until it sold well in Early Access.  No longer a single title.

H1Z1 – Just Survive

  • Launch Date: Announced February 8, 2016
  • Current Status: Early Access
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Info

The spirit of the original, the small world co-op MMORPG (despite what Smed said) vision of the game.  Has its moments.  Currently no launch date has been announced, is clearly in the back seat relative to its sibling King of the Kill.

H1Z1 – King of the Kill

  • Launch Date: Announced February 8, 2016, slated to launch Summer 2016
  • Current Status: Early Access
  • Platform: Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Info

The arena death match vision of H1Z1, with clear esports aspirations.  This is Daybreak looking for something they can grab a headline with.  Also, no longer free to play.  Daybreak will continue to collect $20 if you care to give it a try.

So that is the list, 22 games of various sorts.  I decided that the title of this post had to be SOE and not Daybreak because everything here was started before the Daybreak era began a little over a year ago.

From that list, Daybreak has the following to work with:

  1. EverQuest
  2. EverQuest II
  3. PlanetSide
  4. DC Universe Online
  5. PlanetSide 2
  6. Landmark
  7. H1Z1: Just Survive
  8. H1Z1: King of the Kill

And of those, only half are on the Daybreak All Access plan… though the other half are either in Early Access or free.

Daybreak All Access - March 2016

Daybreak All Access – March 2016

So that is the Daybreak lineup.  I suppose the real test of what Columbus Nova Prime has planned for the company will be if we ever see another new title.  A new title would mean plans for the future, while none would seem to indicate that the plan is just to milk the old SOE cow until it is dry.

MMOs on the List of Most Important PC Games

Earlier this week, over at PC Gamer, which I think still actually has a print magazine version, publishes a list of what they felt were The 50 most important PC games of all time.

PCGamerLogo

And, if you know me, you know I love a good list like that.  Those are discussion starters without equal, and I bring them up pretty much whenever I find them.  I’ve even written about a PC Gamer list in the past, when they were writing about the 100 Greatest Games of All Time, (they do that article every year, here is the 2015 version) that being a distinct and separate category from the 50 most important.

The most important games are the ones we could not imagine not having existed in the genre, that inspired people, or that changed the market.

Wisely, PC Gamer decided to not stack rank the lot of them, choosing to list them out chronologically, kicking off with Space War! from 1962, the first thing that actually looks like what we think of when we say “video game.” (I even wrote a bit about Space War! at one point.)

Of course, this being me, I went storming into the article shouting, “Where are the MMOs?  Show me that online massively multiplayer goodness!”

And I was not disappointed.  MMO titles that made the cut were:

  • Ultima Online 1997
  • EverQuest 1999
  • EVE Online 2003
  • Second Life 2003
  • World of Warcraft 2004

Yes, I am admitting Second Life to the fraternity of MMOs I recognize, and not just to pad the list.  It was a thing in its day, even if Massively totally over-covered it for a bit.  I have even played it a few times.

So that is five MMOs on the list… by which I mean persistent world online games in the mold we all know and grudgingly tolerate while complaining about incessantly… or 10% of the list.  Not bad for a genre.

I suppose it says something the “important MMO” era is pretty much 1997-2004.  Has everything after that been simply refinements and derivatives of what has gone before?

Of course, limiting themselves to 50 games meant that anybody is going to find omissions that they feel are important.  Even the editors had to make an Honorable Mentions list because there was no doubt a large number of titles that were so close.

On the MMO front, I am a little disappointed that MUD1 or anything from the 1980s online era was neglected.  Maybe MegaWars III wasn’t that influential, but what about Air WarriorBut the list does feel a little heavy on the more recent end of things, probably a result of the relative youth of some of the contributors and the general feeling we tend to have that nothing is more important than right now.

Still, there are some good games whose presence on the list surprised me, like Starsiege: TribesFor a fleeting moment of time that was the best online shooter ever.  I played the hell out of that

Ultima IV is on the list, which is interesting because I think you have to have at least ONE Lord British game on the list, but which one?  I suppose Ultima IV was a turning point in the series, but I was always a big fan of Ultima III.  I’m shallow like that.  Also, I had that Ultima III editor, so made my own version of the game.

I find it somewhat odd that DotA is on the list by itself as opposed to being paired up with Warcraft III, since then you could have gotten in a side mention about how much Warcraft III influenced WoW.  Ah well.

And, of course, a lot of the list includes the games you would expect… probably demand… should be included; Wizardry, Pinball Construction Set, Civilization, League of Legends, Quake, Tomb Raider, Diablo, Half-Life, SimCity, The Sims, Minecraft, they are all there.

Yes, of course Doom is on the list...

Yes, of course Doom is on the list…

But I still look back at that list of five MMOs and wonder, is that the legacy of the genre?

1986 in Movies

The XKCD New Years cartoon was one of those “make you feel old” entries that pointed out a few things that were turning 10 or 20 years old in 2016.  Pokemon, for example, will turn 20 this February.

For no particular reason I was sitting in bed this morning thinking about this and decided to look up on Wikipedia the movies that were released in 1986.  What titles would I remember from way back then?  What is turning 30 this year?

Before we were resisting capitalism

Before we were resisting capitalism

Then I started looking down the list and found what a prodigious year it was for the cinema.  Films I remember from that year, and sort of what I remember off the top of my head, include:

9½ Weeks – Probably the last Mickey Rourke looked good.  Had a girlfriend who really, really liked this movie.

52 Pick-Up – About a sex tape and named after a childhood card game/trick/prank

About Last Night… – Rob Lowe BEFORE the sex tape!

The Adventures of Milo and Otis – I am surprised that this is from 1986.  I think I found this when looking for a movie my daughter could watch when she was about 4. (From this list.)

Aliens – The action sequel to the suspense/horror original.  Saw this with Skronk and some friends at a theater in Fairfield.  Literally ashamed I do not own this on DVD or BluRay.

An American Tail – Animated immigrant mice.

At Close Range – I don’t think I ever saw this, but I remember Roger Ebert’s review of it, which is pretty much the same thing 30 years down the road I suppose.

Back to School – Rodney Dangerfield at the peak of his movie career.

Behind Enemy Lines – A knock-off of Rambo II.

Big Trouble in Little China – Kurt Russel cult classic. You probably either love it or hate it.

Blue Velvet – The beginning of the Pabst Blue Ribbon revival thanks to the well dressed man.

Brighton Beach Memoirs – Neil Simon on being young Neil Simon.

Captain EO – Became a ride at Disneyland.

Children of a Lesser God – Film Adaptation of the Broadway play.  Trailer voice over was that guy who does all the art house films.

The Clan of the Cave Bear – Film adaptation of the book with Daryl Hannah in animal skins.

Clockwise – Not very popular, but pretty much a primer on the John Cleese writing style. (Came from this list.)

Club ParadiseProof that Robin Williams alone cannot carry a film… or was that Popeye?  Michael Caine was in there too, but I think he was in half of these films somewhere.

Cobra – Stallone as unshaven bad boy cop in a cool car.  You’re the disease, I’m the cure… I think that was the Roger Ebert review.

The Color of Money – Trying to remake The Hustler and nearly succeeding.

Crocodile Dundee – ‘stralia!  Made my daughter watch this decades later.  That’s not a knife and all that. (From this list.)

The Decline of the American Empire – Went to see this with some friends based solely on the title.  Turns out it was a metaphor.  Not at all what we were expecting.  French-Canadian relationship angst. (From this list.)

The Delta Force – Chuck Norris; sand rails and dirt bikes taking out tanks by jumping over them.  Became the basis, along with Top Secret, for a Goon propaganda film about Ev0ke.

Down and Out in Beverly Hills – Nick Nolte, but no Eddie Murphy and not a cop.

Down by Law – I have no memory of this other than my friend Bill started saying, “Down by law!” a lot.

F/X – Special effects were getting so big that there was a movie about a special effect guy.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Holy crap, is this really going to be 30 this year?

The Fly – Jeff Goldblum’s face comes off!  Also, Eeeeewwwwww!!!

The Golden Child – Eddie Murphy bomb (at least in the reviews), he should have gone to Beverly Hills with Nick Nolte.

The Great Mouse Detective – A big year for animated mice.

Gung Ho – Japanese and Americans teaming up to build cars.  Only real draw was to see if Gedde Watanabe would reprise his “Automobeeeeeeel!” quote from Sixteen Candles.

Hannah and Her Sisters – Woody Allen during the Mia Farrow years, with Micheal Caine.  Angst.

Heartbreak Ridge – Clint Eastwood takes Grenada.  Basically a vehicle to retell that story of the guy who used a pay phone to call in an airstrike.

Highlander – The film that sold a million duster coats and spawned as many bad Sean Connery imitations .  I remember laughing at it then.

The Hitcher – Best hitchhiker film ever!  Scared the crap out of every woman I knew, a couple of whom literally angry at me for recommending it.  Scared the crap out of me too.

Hoosiers – About basketball players… in Indiana… yeah… Gene Hackman.

Howard the Duck – A Marvel film so bad they they didn’t even reference it until Guardians of the Galaxy.

Labyrinth – David Bowie teenage angst metaphor fantasy adventure thing.

Little Shop of Horrors – The remake.  In color.  Steve Martin.  There was a Mac OS extension that would play the line “Feed me!” whenever you inserted a floppy disk.  That sound sample came from this.

Luxo, Jr. – The first Pixar short.  Pretty sure I don’t remember it from 1986, but I remember it.

Manhunter – A of the stories from the Hannibal Leckor series, before Silence of the Lambs introduced us to fava beans.  Remade as Red Dragon, which was the name of the book.  Once tried to rent it, but picked up THE Manhunter instead, a bad dubbed horror film from Brazil.

Maximum Overdrive – Emilio Estevez being chased by angry animated vehicles.  From the mind of Stephen King.

The Money Pit – Tom Hanks film about a house that costs a lot of money.  Can’t recall if he has one of his trademark pisses in this or not.

The Mosquito Coast – Harrison Ford as the anti-Indiana Jones.  Makes ice in the topics, which you would think people would appreciate.

Off Beat – Judge Rheinhold gets mistaken for a cop and doesn’t just say, “Sorry, no, it was just dress up.”  Also, something about roller skates.

One Crazy Summer – Bobcat Golthwaite is hilarious, we should put him in a movie!

Peggy Sue Got Married – Kathleen Turner goes back in time to make a mint by inventing pantyhose.  Or maybe it was just a metaphor.

Pirates – I would say “worst pirate movie ever,” but then Yellowbeard springs to mind.

Platoon – Because Charlie Sheen got first choice.  Go to war, get stoned, feel bad about all we did. Catharsis or something.

Poltergeist II: The Other Side – The real curse from the original was being damned into making a seuqel.  Never saw it.

Pretty in Pink – Molly Ringwald vehicle because Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club rocked.  Wasn’t quite the same.

Running Scared – Undercover cop car joke, Cubs jersey… oh, and Billy Crystal as a cop.

Ruthless People – We could not get enough Danny DeVito and Judge Rheinhold back then.  Also, Bette Midler.

Salvador – We’re very concerned about press freedoms in Central America.

Stand by Me – Lord, is this 30 years old too?

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – Even number, so decent film… for the series.  The Enterprise goes to 20th century SF to talk to whales because some space probe demands it.  Scotty talks to a Mac mouse because those are so new and crazy!

¡Three Amigos! – Proof that just putting three comedians in a film won’t make it a hit, if we allow that Chevy Chase might be a comedian.

Top Gun – Most homoerotic film about Navy fighter pilots ever.  A film so pro-Navy that they felt buying an ad to run before the movie on VHS rentals would be redundant.  Would watch again.

Wise Guys – What we had to put up with between The Godfather and Goodfellas.

That is what, more than 50 movies from 1986 of which I have some recollection?  That seems like a lot of movies from a given year to remember something about.  Yes, looking at the titles did help spark some memory, and yes that happened to be a year when I was probably in the prime of my movie going days, though I will say that I don’t remember them all because I saw them in 1986 in the theater.  The advent of the VCR and video rentals put a lot of them in front of me after they left the big screen.

Anyway, that was my trip down memory lane this morning.  And I didn’t even go into Stellar Emperor or Stellar Warrior, online video games I was playing in 1986.

MMO Activity Chart for 2015

Inspired by Belghast’s chart (and Liore did one as well) I thought I might put together a little chart about what I played this year.

2015 MMO Gaming Chart

2015 MMO Gaming Chart

You will note that there are no single player games on the list.  I don’t actually spend that much time playing what one might call the traditional, non-networked, video games, as my five year Raptr list would certainly attest.  I do play other games, but not to the extent that I do MMOs.  So while I played some Defense Grid 2 and Elite: Dangerous, and a few other titles, the time spent on those was nowhere near the time spent with games on the chart.

Likewise, I supposed I could list iOS games I played on the iPad.  But those are almost a different context of gaming.  I pop in and spend a couple minutes with DragonVale or Candy Crush Saga or Neko Atsume when sitting on the couch or in bed before I turn out the lights.  It isn’t really the same.  Those are like little snacks when we’re talking about full meals.  MMOs are the full meal around here.

So, now that we have narrowed it down, what did I play?

Well, EVE Online is no surprise.  It is the only MMO I played consistently throughout 2015.  And I wasn’t just docked up doing the skill training thing.  One of the reasons I liked to get on a kill mail now and again is that it shows I have been undocked and active.  So you can see my chart from 2015 for New Eden.

2015 Kills and Losses

2015 Kills and Losses

In a lot of ways kill mails are deceptive or misleading.  As I noted in the past, a positive kill ratio is the norm, since you get counted on every kill mail you assisted on, but losses are only when you blow up.  But they do show you’ve been undocked and doing stuff.

World of Warcraft was good for the first half of the year, until the garrison blues got me.  I came back for a bit in November by buying a WoW Token with some gold, but all I did was garrison stuff to earn back the money I spent on the WoW Token.  It is cool that you can log into the game and reactivate with gold.

WoW Tokens are up in price

WoW Tokens are up in price

I just wasn’t that interested in coming back to play.

Minecraft took over in June and has rolled out through the end of the year.  As a game, it is very project oriented, as sandboxes will be.  When I have something I want to build, I can spend hours playing.  But when I am done, I don’t log in so much.

There were brief runs with EverQuest and EverQuest II, largely due to the nostalgia server thing.   Then I played a bit of Diablo III, while lately I have been dabbling in Lord of the Rings Online.

So that was my year in MMOs.

Of course I’ve done charts before, they just tended to be of a bigger scale.

The Genres

My favored genres over the years

Did anybody else do a chart this year?  It seems so:

Five Years of Raptr Tracking

I hit my five year anniversary with Raptr this week.  It is today actually.

RaptrLogo

Raptr, for those who do not know, is a gamer social network, an instant messenger client, a streaming platform, an advertising venture, a producer of gaming statistics, and a client that will track your video game play time.  Founded by Dennis “Thresh” Fong, it is essentially the second coming of Xfire, which was also founded by Dennis “Thresh” Fong and later sold Viacom.  Thresh is a matter of legend in some gaming circles, as the Wikipedia bio I linked will attest.  I used to be an avid reader of his old site, Firing Squad.

I also used to use Xfire back in the day and picked up Raptr five years back to track my game play time to see what I was really doing on that front.

I rarely use any of the other Raptr features.  Occasionally Potshot will send me an IM via the Raptr client, since we both use it, and I will occasionally log into a game when Raptr announces that a friend has just logged in.  I also used to be quite fond of the individual stats and summaries they used to offer.  Their individual yearly review was quite nice, but they stopped doing that a couple of years back.

Which means that I mostly leave it installed to track my game time.  To mark this five year anniversary I thought I would lay out the top 20 games that Raptr has tracked me playing.

So here we have the list, with the top 20 presented in order to the percentage of the total hours tracked.  So it is Rank, Percentage, Game, and (Raptr ranking/rep), the last being how I stack up in hours played versus the community. (details here)  Basically, Elite puts me in the top 10% of the community for hours played (plus achievements earned in some cases) for that game.

The ranking/rep chart

The ranking/rep chart

The list:

  1. 26.50%World of Warcraft (Elite)
  2. 18.12%EVE Online (Elite)
  3. 8.60%Rift (Elite)
  4. 7.28%EverQuest II (Elite*)
  5. 6.86%Minecraft (Elite)
  6. 6.24%Lord of the Rings Online (Elite)
  7. 5.10%World of Tanks (Elite)
  8. 4.86%Civilization V (Elite)
  9. 2.99%EverQuest (Hardcore)
  10. 1.65%Need for Speed: World (Elite)
  11. 1.46%Diablo III (Hardcore)
  12. 1.07%Defense Grid (Elite)
  13. 0.82%War Thunder (Hardcore)
  14. 0.76%Guild Wars 2 (Dedicated)
  15. 0.53%Empires & Allies (Hardcore)
  16. 0.44%Age of Empires II Age of Kings (Elite)
  17. 0.33%Path of Exile (Dedicated)
  18. 0.29%Neverwinter (Dedicated)
  19. 0.29%Total War: Rome II (Dedicated)
  20. 0.21%Torchlight II (Dedicated)

I suppose the top two are no surprise.  Or maybe they are to some readers.  To me they are not.  Years of playing WoW with a regular group bears out this number, even through the Cataclysm expansion.  And if anything, the EVE Online percentage is probably low.  Raptr has problems tracking it some days, so it should probably be much closer to the WoW number.

Then we get into the strange zone.

That Rift is number three ought to strike you as odd.  It benefits from Raptr tracking it accurately and all of my play time with the game, including when the instance group went to Telara, being within the five year tracking window.  So despite the fact that I didn’t start playing until nearly nine months after it launched and stopped not too long after the first expansion, it still represents a pretty good chunk of the last five years of play time.

Likewise, the ranking of EverQuest II is largely determined by the time frame measured.  If it had been a 12 year window, it probably would have been the top title.  A three year window would have seen it far down the list.  But within this five year time frame came EverQuest II Extended and a revival of my interest in the game for a bit.  And, just a side not, EQII and EQIIE are tracked as different games on Raptr, so that is the combined hours for both games. (I would be “Elite” if they were lumped together, hence the asterisk.  Otherwise I am “Hardcore” for EQII and “Elite” for EQIIE.)

And then there is Minecraft, which I started playing in June of this year and yet is in the number five spot for five years of game play.  Clearly that hooked me.  It even beat out Lord of the Rings Online, which I have played “seriously” a couple of times in the last five years.  Had I guessed at the ranking, I would have put LOTRO further up the list.

There was a time when I played a lot of World of Tanks and when Civilization V was a regular thing for me.  Then we are finally out of the all elite category.

EverQuest is a game from a bygone age. I spend more time posting about it than playing it I am sure.  I played all I could play of Need for Speed: World, and then it was closed down.

Diablo III and Defense Grid aren’t bad numbers for essentially single player games.  I feel like I have played more Diablo III than that.  Meanwhile, I am elite for Defense Grid because it only had so much content and I didn’t feel like chasing every single achievement. (Just most of them.)

War Thunder I ebb and flow on.  I reinstalled it last month and played it a bit.

The numbers reported for Guild Wars 2 though are completely bogus.  Raptr counts time spent in the launcher patching as game time.  It does that with EverQuest sometimes too, so that percentage is inflated as well.  But the GW2 number is mostly installing and patching the game.

Empires & Allies, a Zynga Facebook game, and the most embarrassing item on the list.  At least it wasn’t FarmVille.

And then we’re down below one half of one percent.  You can see which of the heirs to Diablo II I ended up playing the most along with a couple other titles, including a single MMORPG.

So there it is, five years of video game play time summed up.

Now the question is, what to do with Raptr.  Even a year back I was pondering if keeping it around was worth the CPU cycles.  It hasn’t given me a personal statistics report since my 2013 play time summary.  I suppose adding data to the Raptr pool helps generate their monthly stats for their own blog, though their relevance to the broader gaming world is pretty tenuous.  League of Legends, which tops the Raptr list, is not being played twelve times as much as Minecraft, as their October stats might lead you to believe.  Raptr represents a self-selected group of gamers that trend to the more hard core and much more to PvP, just like its predecessor, Xfire.

And the gamer social network aspect… well, I am still not sure if there is any real value in such a thing, given all of the other avenues for gamers to connect.

So does Raptr have any value?

To All The Ships I’ve Flown Before…

BattleClinic.com, which you may know from their involvement with the EVE Mon utility, has been undergoing a serious revamp of their site.  It has been under way for a while now.  I got a note from them months back asking if they could use screen shots from EVE Online Pictures, to which I answered in the affirmative.

But the big site changes have finally been revealed… which I didn’t notice until Rixx Javix did a post about a new feature, ships used.

I actually think that the “ships used” information was in the old version of the site.  Something in the back of my brain believes that it was there.  But it wasn’t as accessible and I do not think it showed as much detail.  Or maybe I am totally wrong.  Memory.

And technically it is not ships you’ve flow, just ships you were flying that were involved in combat where they appeared on a kill mail, either having contributed to a kill or having been the victim.  I’d like to see a stat on which ships I have spent the most time flying in space, especially since I fly in the “space priest” logistics role a lot of the time.  But a list is a list and any long time reader knows I love me a list.

So what ships have I been flying while whoring on kill mails by pressing F1 in CFC blob fleets since December 2011?  Here are the top 10, plus one.

1. Drake – 395 kills / 12 losses

Oh my trusty old Drake.  I have half a dozen of them sitting around still in various null sec stations just waiting for my old favorite ship to return to its place in the sun.

Me and my lag causing friends at 319-3D

Unleash the Drake-en!

It was a fortuitous set of circumstances that made Drake Fleet a prime CFC doctrine shortly after I arrived in null sec.  I couldn’t shoot guns or lasers for shit, but I have max shield and missiles skills and Battlecruiser V when it came time for Drake Fleet.

Those were happy times.  Null sec combat was all new to me and scooting about the battlefield in a swarm of MWD Drakes like a school of fish, Scimitars weaving around us while we spewed missiles and dodged foes was a real highlight in my career.  The first big fleet engagement where I kind of knew what was going on was in a Drake at EWN-2U back in 2012.  Time dilation was a new thing back then.

2. Megathron – 166 Kills / 2 Losses

Mainstay of the war in Fountain, the primay weapon of Baltec Fleet, one of the two doctrines that got rolled up once we found that the doctrines we started the war with were not working out.  This was the ship I flew into some of the more memorable fights of the war, including Z9PP-H, 3WE-KY, and 6VDT-H.

The "How To" of Baltec Fleet

The “How To” of Baltec Fleet

The Megathron hasn’t seen as much action since Fountain.  First it was replaced by the Dominix to exploit drone assist, then the Apocalypse came along and the Megathron was phased out.  Still, the ship was immortalized in the Boat’s Oddity video, and I bet Baltec1 is still flying one in every fleet no matter what the actual doctrine.  Never not Mega.

3. Harpy – 143 Kills / 2 Losses

Harpy fleet has been an ongoing frigate doctrine in the CFC for a while.  I tend to resist flying frigates.  It used to be a matter of not wanting to lose a 40 million ISK clone in a 20 million ISK ship, but now CCP has fixed that.  But I found Harpy roams to be enjoyable.

EVE Online Curse Deployment

A Harpy down in Curse

The doctrine started when we were deployed on and off to Curse.  I probably have more Harpies sitting around in hangars than any other ship besides the Drake.  I need to go on more Harpy fleets.

4. Apocalypse – 93 Kills / 1 Loss

After drone assist was scaled back from “game breaking” to merely “overwhelming” we moved back to the Baltec Fleet doctrine.  However, while you could still fly Megathrons, we were all encouraged to pick up an Apocalypse.  I did not need more than a small push in that direction.  I had been training up lasers in the hope that one day they would be useful, so once I wrapped that up I immediately moved into the Apoc.  I wanted to shoot colored beams of light dammit!

Long range beams

Apocs with lasers hot

I used to carry every damn crystal type I could find and I pretty quickly became “that guy” in Baltec fleet firing a different color laser from everybody else (I am pretty sure the red beams in that picture above is me) or multiple colors because what the hell.  Red and green on Christmas, mustard and ketchup because I was eating a hamburger.  I had a good time with that.  The doctrine has since fallen into disuse, but I still have a couple Apocs, and a large supply of crystals, sitting around.

5. Ishtar – 64 Kills / 0 Losses

Drones are still pretty strong, so Ishtars and Dominixes are back in fashion, to the point that the game is mockingly called Ishtars Online some nights of the week.  This is also a Reaver doctrine fit, which is where I have flown it.  Most of my kills are towers, though there was that carrier we got at the end of our first deployment.  Due to a general shortage of logi pilots, I only flew the Ishtar on that one deployment, swapping out for a Basilisk since then.

6. Caracal – 39 Kills / 6 Losses

There have been a number of tries to get a good Caracal doctrine going from time to time.  I always join in because they aren’t too expensive and I have all the skills.  Caracals were a doctrine at the start of the war in Fountain and we lost them in droves until we stopped using them.  I think I have lost every single one I ever owned in null.

7. Dominix – 27 Kills / 1 Loss

The post Fountain doctrine with drone assist.  I was in something of a slack period when Domis were the main thing.  I went on a few ops with a Domi, but it isn’t really a special ship to me.  Or it wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the fact that I am on six titan kill mails with a Domi from the fight at B-R5RB.  I still have that particular neut fit Domi, still parked in the station in that system with a jump clone should I ever wish to retrieve it.  A pity that N3 owns the system again.  I have a Basilisk stranded out there as well.

8. Hurricane – 25 Kills / 1 Loss

One of the ships I bought early on when I was trying to be a good soldier and follow orders to have one ship for every doctrine on hand at all times or some such.  It was a “Digi-cane,” which belonged to a doctrine that was already out by the time I bought it.  I used to use in for Homeland Defense ops and I flew it to BWF-ZZ in a Boat fleet that bagged a dozen Raiden capital ships.  I think I have an “insta-cane” in a hangar somewhere, which I bought seconds before they got nerfed.

9. Maelstrom – 21 Kills / 0 Losses

This was the prime doctrine when I joined the CFC, just before Drake Fleet showed up.  Big, slow to move, slow to align, and slow to shoot, the key to the doctrine was to have everybody fire at once to cause an overwhelming spike in damage that would blow the hostile ship off the field with a single volley.

10. Scimitar – 18 Kills / 2 Losses

Given how many times I have flow logi, I am actually surprised to see that I have only lost two Scimitars.  I guess a debt is owed to our logi anchors who appear to have kept us out of the line of fire and aligned to get the hell out of Dodge when things go wrong.  Plus it is a swift ship.  And, as you can see, even a space priest isn’t above loading a couple of combat drones in order to whore on kills.

Special Mention – Basilisk – 13 Kills / 3 Losses

The ship in 11th place and the one I have been flying for the most part for the last six months.  Ugly and awkward in that way that only Caldari ships can manage, it is once again proof that logi isn’t above carrying a combat drone or two in order to get a few hits in.  I don’t mind playing logi.  It is what I mostly do these days.  But I like to get something on the kill board at least once a month just some my corp knows I’m still alive.  Lord knows I barely talk to them and I almost never fly with them, so I try to keep up my end by paying my monthly dues, getting a few kills, and clicking on participation links.

Cap chaining in Immensea... Caroline's Star visible

It is all about the Basi… and cap chaining

So that is the list, my top 10+1.  Of course, the kills and losses are in no way an indicator of any capability on my own part.  Even a scrub like me can keep a “green” kill board because of the way kills and losses are counted.

And, of course, this is just the BattleClinic accounting of my ships and kills.  My totals at ZKillboard and EVE-Kill are different, though I do wonder why my BattleClinic totals are as far off as they are from the other two.  ZKillboard and EVE-Kill differ by a mere dozen kills while BattleClinic is a good 20% shy of those total.

Quote of the Day – Is H1Z1 an MMO or Not?

I look at H1Z1 not as an MMO at all. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with MMOs. It’s a session based persistent online game.

John Smedley, Twitter

So H1Z1 has been a thing… at least an early access thing… for almost a week now and, as I have noted, it has gotten a variety of reactions.  Whether you believe early access is a good thing or not, H1Z1 is out there, the latest MMO from SOE.

The night is dark, I think I'll go to bed

And, of course, will IT survive?

Only there is that Smed quote from Twitter.  This was in reaction to a story posted over at Massively, More Boredom than Terror, that describes Syp’s venture into H1Z1 on a PvE server.

Putting together the full series of tweets from Smed, they read out:

Watching [Massively’s] story about how H1Z1 is boring and seeing other commentary along the same lines from people playing PVE.  Makes me realize just how stratified the online gaming industry is. Not a bad thing at all. just interesting. Basically the review is from the perspective of an MMO vet coming into it. The comments are identical to stuff we heard from our own company.

My perspective is different – new kinds of experiences with comparisons to current MMO experiences mean people are looking at it through a different lens then we made it. All still valid points of view though and can’t disagree with them.

I look at H1Z1 not as an MMO at all. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with MMOs. It’s a session based persistent online game.  session based because lots of people play until they die. It’s an easy stopping point.  anyways… just a bit of rambling about it, but I find the experience an MMO vet has coming in to H1Z1 (or Day Z for that matter)

I will say that at least Smed didn’t go for the cheap “It’s a PvP game” shot like so many comments over at Massively did.  SOE provides PvE servers and the team has, in Smed’s words, “…really have gone out of our way to make sure PVE players will be happy” so the idea of “not playing it right” can be discounted.

But how about the idea of not looking at it right?

That does bring us back to the age old question of “what’s an MMO anyway?”  I know what I mean when I use the term… when I write it, it is almost always short hand for persistent world, progression based, multiplayer, online, servers and shards, role playing game.  I also usually mean “fantasy” as well, but there is EVE Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic out there, so maybe I should stop thinking that automatically.

But what I mean when I say it clearly carries little weight, as the term gets used for games like War Thunder and World of Tanks and League of Legends, and probably quite a few more games that would not, in any way, meet my own personal definition.

On the flip side, H1Z1 does seem to press most of my MMO buttons.  You have a character, a persistent world, the whole shards concept with many parallel realms, a form of progression… it is equipment based progression, but that is hardly a new thing… and there is the whole multiplayer aspect.  Common mechanics we find in MMOs, quests and raids and auction houses, are missing, but so what?  Common isn’t the same as required, while the hardcore nature… gotta eat and drink or you’re gonna die… doesn’t disqualify it.

In the “quacks like a duck” view of the world, H1Z1 seems like an MMO to me.  Also, SOE calls it an MMO right there on the SOE main page, thus planting the seed rather firmly.

H1Z1 is a zombie survival MMO set in a post-apocalyptic world where thousands of players must strategically align with friends and against enemies in order to survive the worldwide infection.

And then there is the description on the H1Z1 site itself:

Tell me about H1Z1 please...

Tell me about H1Z1 please…

And “sandbox” is a common subset of MMOs, at least for purposes of argument most days.

Of course, you might say that marketing needed to call it something, and they call everything else at SOE an MMO… except of course, they do not.

They manage to avoid the term, at least on the SOE main page, with Landmark and with H1Z1’s antecedent, PlanetSide 2…. and also with EverQuest and EverQuest II, which are clearly examples of the MMO genre.  Maybe marketing was just lazy.  After all, they also say that EverQuest is the “online game that started it all!”  Though, to be fair, they don’t really define “all.”  However, you get the possible implication swimming in that vagueness, don’t you Ultima Online and Meridian 59 vets?

But I digress.

The usage of the shorthand term MMO could also just be the lens through which we… me, Syp, SOE marketing… are seeing things as well.  The human brain loves to categorize things.  It was a key survival instinct out on the African savannah and remains so in many modern situations, like crossing a busy street in a big city. (Hint: Cabs are predators.)  But it doesn’t always help in situations that are more nuanced… or even when recognizing which situations might be more nuanced.

I know the idea of an MMO is more nuanced than the industry treats it.  A lot of things seem to get that label more because of marketing than any deep thinking on genres and classifications.

But even with that, H1Z1 still feels more like an MMO than any other option.

Is H1Z1 an MMO?  Is it something else?

Are we too fixated on MMOs to be able to tell?  Is Smed to close to be able to see beyond the details?