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Five Bad EVE Online Ideas that will Never Die

EVE Online can be a divisive game.  People tend to love it or hate it, with the latter being the larger group if comment threads on gaming sites are any indication, though the largest group of all seems to be those who watch it from afar to be entertained.  And all three groups probably add up to fewer people that the active subscribed WoW population right now, though I suspect those numbers might have gotten a bit closer since the Shadowlands expansion.

And in such an environment, there are a wide range of ideas as to what the game should be, and everybody seems to have a plan that would improve the game and, naturally, boost player numbers because we all seem to believe that the majority of the universe shares our exact likes and dislikes and are shocked that these few outlier weirdos who see things differently from us seem to run all these games.  It is like some sort of conspiracy.

But there are a few ideas that seem to persist.  They pop back up again with a regularity that begins to grate if you’ve been around the community for a while.  Here are the ones I see that just won’t die the death they deserve.

1 – Walking in Stations

At the top of the list because CCP dabbled in this with Incarna. The company, after neglecting the core of EVE Online for a few years and plundering the efforts of the teams working on Dust 514 and World of Darkness, proudly launched what I heard one wag call “walking in a closet.”

Captain’s Quarters

I will admit that I was among those who thought the game needed avatar play when I started playing.  EVE Online has the curse of many vehicle games in that everybody is alone in the spaceship and you can’t wave or jump ceaselessly or dance on the mailbox in your underwear, which can give the game a sterile, impersonal feel.  Forza Horizon 5 has the same impersonal feel out in its shared world too.  Every car focused title does.  Are there people demanding “walking in Forza” as loudly as the walking in stations crowd does for EVE? (Seriously, are there?)

The problem here is that nothing in the core of the game is improved by having to walk around and I have yet to hear a suggestion from anybody that didn’t either make current functionality more awkward (e.g. you should have to walk to your agent in a station and speak to them face to face) or required CCP to essentially build a new game within EVE Online to accommodate avatar play.  That adds up to making things worse or development time spent away from the core of the game.

It has been made clear over the years that CCP struggles at times to keep up with the “flying in space” aspect of the game that is its core, so having them ignore that again for a multi-year stretch in order to build a feature of dubious value seems like a really bad business plan.

But people ask for this feature a couple of times a month on Reddit, though the request seems to rotate through the same small group of people.  And then there is Hilmar, who said they might bring it back at some point, which just cemented in my mind the fact that he might be head of the studio, but he has no clue about the game and just likes to say things that get attention.

Walking in stations is bad for EVE Online.  I will die on this hill.

2 – Dogfighter

This is the almost prototypical response from somebody who came to play EVE Online and happens to own a flight stick.  They go away disappointed that combat isn’t maneuver based, that they cannot used the tricks they developed playing X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter or whatever, often dropping by Reddit to announce their displeasure.  The reaction range between “this sucks” to long design documents about how the game should be rebuilt into a space flight sim.

But the core is always the same, that the combat is too simple, that you just press F1 and you’re done.

The first issue here is  the idea that every game must be built to meet their personal preferences.  If you want a space flight sim, I get that EVE Online isn’t for you.  But there are a lot of other options, so coming in and declaring that the game should be rewritten to meet your personal needs is a bit over the top don’t you think?  And that leaves aside the herculean effort that it would take to remake the game.  Get over yourself.

Second is that if you think combat in EVE Online is simple it is because you haven’t spent enough time with it.  Yes, you don’t have to get on somebody’s tail or calculate deflection in your head, but range and engagement envelopes and transversal and tracking and damage types and reload times and a host of other small details enter into each engagement.  That you are not thinking about this when you press F1 doesn’t mean it isn’t all in play, it is just likely to explain why your ship is a wreck and the other person has a fresh kill mark on his hull.

3 – Safe Space

There are a lot of flavors to this one, ranging from the idea that high sec should be completely safe (and sometimes that low sec should be like high sec is now) to being able to flag PvP on and off like you do in World of Warcraft to make yourself immune from all player attacks.

This seems to stem from people wanting to just be left alone to tinker with whatever space project they have going on.  And I get that.  It is a sandbox and some people want to play in their own corner where kicking over sand castles isn’t allowed.

The problem is that any safety will be exploited.  Any source of income that is unassailable will be overrun.  ISK per hour is a primary motivator for many, but the safety factor comes into it as well.

And you may ask who would even bother tracking down high sec alts, and I have an answer; all of us.  EVE Online has a rich history of wars in low or null sec finding their way into high sec.  In World War Bee there was a whole shadow war fought in and around Jita and Amarr with both sides trying to track down alts in NPC corps that were being used to ship supplies into the war zone.

So, leaving aside the usual argument about safety breaking the theme of the game, there are some more immediate ways in which it would break actual game play and the economy, and we don’t want to give CCP any more reason to go in and manipulate the in-game economy.  They are hamfisted enough going after imaginary problems, lets not make some real ones.

EVE Online is just a PvP game.  It has been since 2003 and that is the way it is going to be.  End of story, time to move on.

As an aside, I am always interested in how angry people get when another player blows up their ship, which glows white hot compare to the response to dying to an NPC.  I dream of an experiment where CCP mocks up a slightly different UI and tells an experimental audience that EVE is a single player game with advanced AI based on real world behavior in order to see if the anger is the same when your hauler gets blown up by a gang of suicide Catalysts if you believe them to be NPCs.

4 – Another Server

There are a few flavors of this one as well.  There are, of course, the people who just want a PvE server.  See above, plus I am not sure how sovereign null sec or faction warfare even work in the minds of those suggesting this, but there it is.

Others want EVE Classic.  They want to go back to the good old days, which correspond to the point in time when they were most enthusiastic about the game, or when some change in mechanics didn’t ruin things. (I still occasionally hear somebody angry about CCP adding in “warp to 0” as the thing that killed PvP, which was a change that happened in 2006 not long after I started playing.)  And, as somebody who is a big fan of the whole retro server idea, it is hard for me to not pine as well for some past fun.

The usual problems apply.  When would you set such a server?  What patch level?  What bug fixes do you retain and which are part of the flavor of the time?

But the enterprise will never get that far because CCP knows that two servers are not twice as good as one.  EVE Online needs a critical mass of players willing to take on the different roles in the ecosystem for it to function smoothly.  I am a bit sad I didn’t play at launch mostly because I wonder what the game was like with no established player market.  EVE can seem annoying because it feels like as soon as you decide what you want to do, you need to do six other things first to get ready.  But at least you don’t have to buy the blueprints for a hull, mine the ore, and build the ship.  The economy is the core lubricant that makes the game manageable.  Splitting the game into two servers threatens that.  The main fear for EVE is that someday the population will fall below a critical mass and the economy will fall into chaos.

So no second server will ever compete with Tranquility.

(And yes, I know there is a second server in mainland China.  But even now many players who used to play on that server are able to VPN into Tranquility to play with the rest of us.  In fact, one of the reason that the game turns in the concurrency numbers it still manages these days is because it has managed to attract many of the core players who fled the bad days of the Serenity server.)

5 – Better PvE

I am going to have to qualify this one because I don’t think any player, new or old, would have a real problem with something that led to a better PvE game in New Eden.  Better PvE isn’t a bad idea at its core.  But it is almost always expressed badly… and by badly, I mean people generally just demand better PvE and stop there, leaving what that even means to the interpretation of those hearing the demand.  Or, if they provide details, it generally describes much worse PvE.

Basically, it easy to say “better PvE,” but it is tough even describe it, much less make it happen.  What is better anyway?

Making it harder isn’t better.  If I’ve learned anything over the years, it is that players want PvE that is just difficult enough to give them a sense of accomplishment without any real risk of them failing.

You can make things like missions interesting for the first run.  But they don’t stay interesting after a few passed.  You can then make more missions… I think CCP has more than six thousand missions of various types in the game… but they tend to fall into a few simple categories.  In the end, PvE quickly becomes a solved problem.  You can add more missions, but is that really better PvE?

CCP has seemingly had some luck with randomizing PvE in Abyssal pockets.  The mechanic requires you to commit your ship before you know the foes and puts a 20 minute timer on the mission.  If you don’t make it in time you lose your ship and your pod.  But even with randomness, if it is still a 90% solved problem (fly a Gila) and they have had to make the rewards worthwhile to keep people running them.  All those muliplasmids to modify ship modules keep a lot of players going back to get the one that will give them the right MWD or stasis webifier or hardener for a fit they have in mind.

But I still find Abyssal pockets boring.  In the end it is the same thing over and over and some variation in foes barely qualifies as interesting unless I get a bad draw and die.  And then it is annoyingly expensive.

I have yet to hear a viable idea from anybody that would make PvE more interesting in New Eden.  But I think that says more about the nature of PvE in general than anything about us or CCP.  There might be an idea out there, and maybe it will find the right ear some day.  But for now, just saying “better PvE” isn’t very helpful and the suggestions that come with it generally involve making it harder or making people go through more hoops, neither of which really meet the “better” bar.

Honorable mentions

Those are my five.  But those are not the only ones that rattle around, so I have a few honorable mentions that I want to tack onto the end of this post.

Things Were Better When…

This is the person who doesn’t want a new server, they just want CCP to roll back to some past feature state that was “more fun” for very specific definitions of the term.  They want it in the current game, and it can be anything from removing “warp to 0” to going back to Dominion sovereignty to giving titans AOE doomsday weapons that can blow up a whole subcap fleet in another system through a cyno… again.

The problem is that, for the most part, much of what has changed over the years has been changed for a reason.  We bitch about Aegis sovereignty, but we bitched about Dominion sovereignty before that, and people certainly bitched about the tower/moon sovereignty system that came before Dominion.

In the end, even if CCP went back and changed the sov system back or removed warp to 0, it wouldn’t recreate the game and the fun times you were having back when they were a thing.  Dunk Dinkle likes to say “nostalgia is a trap.”  As somebody who likes to remember the good times, I take umbrage with that at times.  We can’t ignore the past because all we are is what the past has made us up until this very moment.  But when we gaze too far abroad with our rose colored glasses or think that doing something we did ten or fifteen years ago will do more than just rekindle some fond memories, then I have to agree with Dunk.  I want to be young again too, but removing “warp to 0” won’t get me there.

Subscriptions only

This is a specific subset of the “Things were better when…” crowd who would like to roll back skill injectors, PLEX, and free to play.  All of these are viewed as bad to various degrees… though we have had PLEX in the game for well over half the life of the game at this point.  The first big PLEX loss was back in late 2010.

This just isn’t going to happen.  It probably can’t happen and keep the game being developed at its current pace.  I have been down this path before, but to put it simply, the price of a subscription remains locked in 2003 while the price of everything else has gone up over the last 19 years.

Also, people playing EVE Online… that peaked in 2013, before either free to play or skill injectors showed up, so there is scant chance that going subscription only will end up in any scenario besides “EVE Online now makes much less money.”

Yes, I hate the cash shop mentality of MMOs.  I just want to pay my flat fee and play the game.  But the reality is most everything now has some sort of free option, so demanding cash up front just limits your options as a game.  That is just the reality of the market now.

Breaking up corps and alliances

This is the go to solution for people who don’t like null sec or who are trying to solve the “n+1” problem of sovereignty warfare.  Are null sec battles growing too large for the servers?  Are big null sec alliances keeping you and you five friends from holding space?  Then just put a cap on corp or alliance sizes!  That will put everybody on an even playing field!

The suggestion rarely include a number at which organizations should be capped, just that 30K Goons is too many Goons and we need to put a stop to that right now.  But that doesn’t really matter as there is no correct answer.

Let us say that CCP picks 1,000 as the cap for an alliance or corp or combination thereof.  What happens next?  Two things.

First, we go back to the bad old days when null sec groups were very selective of members.  I know there are some who long for those days, the era of the small, elite PvP groups holding vast areas of space.  But organizations like Brave, Pandemic Horde, or KarmaFleet, which have been highways into null sec for new players, they dry up and die.  Everything goes back to needing to justify why you get a spot in an alliance rather than one of the CEO’s alts.

Second, we find out it doesn’t change much.  Unless CCP also disallows standings, EVE Online players have shown that they can create meta organizations that exist outside of the structure of the game.  There is no in-game mechanism specifically for coalitions, yet they exist and have existed for as long as null sec has been a thing.

The limit just ends up turning the null sec clock back to 2011 or so when small groups ran big rental empires and formed coalitions to defend their holdings.  As we have seen elsewhere in the game, when CCP enforces scarcity, players change their behavior in predictable ways.  Well, predictable to most people besides CCP.

Banning people you don’t like

This seems to be the knee jerk reaction to many issues in EVE Online, that CCP just needs to ban more people.  Botters (which is anybody who repeats a game play loop in a game with a lot of repetitive game play loops), gankers, cheaters, scammers, exploiters, bumpers, whales, ratters, miners, Alpha clones, people with more than n accounts, scary wormhole people, under cutters, specific nationalities, play styles you don’t like, Goons… there was practically a “Ban Goons” subculture at one point in the game… and mean people in general. Basically, whatever is annoying you, CCP should just ban them.

Here’s the thing… somebody probably wants to ban you and whatever you are doing as well.  Also, CCP would like to stay in business and have a viable video game that pays the salaries and keeps the servers running and up to date.  While the EULA and terms of service give CCP the right to ban your ass for anything they want, becoming the game that bans people is a good way to become a game mentioned in the history of MMOs rather than in the current stable of running MMOs.

Player made SKINs

This comes up every time somebody posts a pretty JPEG of a ship they colored up themselves.  Somebody will see this and declare that CCP should allow players to make ship SKINs.  And, superficially, this seems like a good idea.  More SKINs in the store, the better, right?  And many of us like pretty SKINs… or at least SKINs with obnoxiously bright colors.  And CCP at least strongly implied that we would be able to make SKINs back in 2016.

This falls apart on a couple fronts.

For openers, being able to make what looks like a nice SKIN on you PC isn’t likely to be at all comparable to what it takes to make one usable in the game.  There are probably a dozen players out there with the skill, knowledge, and motivation to make decent SKINs, but they still don’t have the tools that the CCP art team has in order to make something usable by the game.  Those are, no doubt, in-house developed tools and not suitable for distribution outside of their environment.

Second, dealing with user made content is a lot more work than you think.  There is a reason that companies that try to leverage user made content either shut it down eventually (Cryptic, Daybreak) or just give up any attempts at moderation (Roblox).

The thought that comes up a lot is that CCP could just let the community vote on SKINs.  But have you met us?  Enough people would upvote penis SKINs to make this completely unviable.  Also, it assumes that SKINs are like mods, and that the whole thing could be treated like Steam’s Workshop, with little or no supervision.  This is completely wrong.

That brings me to the next issue, which is that SKINs are part of the game.  They are in the build, part of the client, and nothing at all like a player mod.  That means CCP would need to spend a lot of time vetting every submission, testing it thoroughly and examining it for hidden images, words, and penises, because once it is in the game it gets pushed out and placed on every system that has the game installed.

Which brings me to the final point on this, which is whether or not all the work would be worth it.  I don’t think it would.  The hubris in this is that players would automatically make cooler, more popular, better selling SKINs than the CCP art team.  The reality of user created content is that 99% of it is garbage.  Game mods and things like Steam Workshop let people experiment and get better, but that allows players to opt-in.  But putting something in the game that everybody will see, that is a step well beyond.

And, in the end, I am not sure more SKINs are better anyway.  The in-game store is already a pain to use… something it shares with online storefronts every where, which pretty much require you to know what you want because simply browsing is an awful experience… so fewer, high quality SKINs seems to be the reasonable plan that CCP is trying to follow.  It is probably no coincidence that the best SKINs are the ones on a few hulls while the ones that try to cover a whole faction or every ship in the game tend to be a bit “meh.” (The Biosecurity Responder SKINs are the exception there.)

Anyway, that is a lot of words.  I guess this could have been “Ten Bad EVE Online Ideas” rather than five, since I just kept on going with the honorable mentions.  But the first five are really “never go there” ideas that CCP might consider, while the latter five I think we’re pretty safe from.

And I didn’t even get into blockchain, crypto, and NFTs.  Those are bad ideas as well, but I am waiting for Pearl Abyss to tell CCP to do them before I jump back on that thread.

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.

PC Gamer Says EVE Online is #12

When my wife saw the cover of the September issue of PC Gamer magazine, which I am still getting thanks to the failure of The Official World of Warcraft Magazine (read about that trail of tears), she said she could see a blog post in the making.

She actually reads the blog and knows me better than I imagine.

You see, the cover was taken up with a giant graphic announcing that this issue included PC Gamer’s staff picks for the Top 100 PC Gamed of ALL TIME.

Really, Of All Time

Really, Of All Time

And as any long time reader knows, I love me a good list.  Or a bad list.  Or any sort of arbitrary ranking.

I love when a group decides to pull out some select number of items and declares them the best, most influential, or otherwise notable.  It says so much about the people who make the list, and about myself when I disagree with the choices.

And I always disagree with at least a few of the choices.  Whether it is games that defined the Apple II games or Ten Ton Hammer listing out the Top Ten PvP MMOs, I always find something to complain about.  Such lists are an argument waiting to happen, but in a fun way.  Viewed correctly, such a list at least makes you think and look for the reasoning.

Of course, the first pass through the list was to search for my chosen genre, MMORPGs.  The first thing my wife asked was, “Is World of Warcraft on the list?” followed quickly by, “And what about ‘Jacked up and good to go?'” a reference to the original StarCraft and probably how much I played it back in the day, given that she remembers it more than a decade down the road.

The first MMO on the list was EVE Online in 12th position, which is where the title of this post comes from.

The second was World of Warcraft, close behind in the 15th slot.  Not a bad showing for MMOs in the top 25% of the list I guess.  One fantasy based MMO and one science fiction, which also happen to be, perhaps not accidentally, the two big hold-outs in the subscription versus F2P struggle.

And after that… nothing.  That was it for MMOs.  No EverQuest, no Ultima Online.  The early champions of the genre were left out and nobody else was worthy.

Well, I suppose if you are going to make a list from PC games of ALL TIME and limit it to 100, prime candidates are bound to get left on the cutting room floor.

So I started browsing through the list, checking titles and dates to get something like the flavor of the list, to see if I could spot any sort of trend.

My initial gut reaction was that most of the games on the list were pretty recent in terms of PC games of ALL TIME.  There were some entries from the latter half of the 90s, with a special spot set aside for Doom and Secret of Monkey Island.  But those were the two oldest games on the list, and they stood out because their age.

I compare this to Time Magazine’s attempt at a Top 100 Video Games of All Time list, which wasn’t even limited to the PC, but included consoles and arcade games.  And in that they managed to find room for titles from the 70s and 80s.  But then they left Minecraft off the list.

My first reaction was that the staff was probably much younger than I…  a surprising number of people are these days… and that the prime formative period of their gaming psyche came about in the mid-to-late 90s.  They might never have played Seven Cities of Gold or the original Wasteland.

My second reaction was that perhaps we were working with different definitions.  For me “PC” means personal computer, and it a generalized thing that includes everything in my personal timeline from the Timex Sinclair 1000 to my current 64-bit Win7 box, and quite a few side paths along the way, including a series of Mac OS machines.

But to a lot of people, “PC” probably means Windows box, something that has been reinforced by both Apple and Microsoft in recent history.  So if I read “Top 100 PC Games” as “Top 100 Windows Games,” the list makes a little more sense.  In the timeline of Windows, the less said about things before 1990, the better.

In that context, I suppose the list makes more sense, as Windows games only start coming into their own with Windows 95, which brings us to the late 90s and blah blah blah.

Then again, I could be overthinking this… a common issue for me… and it might be that the team that did the list just thinks newer games are better.  That seemed to be the point of view with Complex Gaming and their Top 50 list, a list which put EVE Online in the #1 spot.  It certainly fits the “complex” side of the equation.

Ah well.

I would like to link to the list so that you could read it yourself, but it appears to be a print edition only feature.  It made for a dramatic cover that no doubt got a few people to pick up a copy.  And I am sure that they would not appreciate it if typed out the list myself.  But I will leave you with their top five games.

  1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  2. Mass Effect 2
  3. Half-Life 2
  4. Team Fortress 2
  5. Deus Ex

I suppose the first choice isn’t a huge surprise.  They justified it well and frankly liked it for all the right reasons; scope, freedom, mods, replayability.  The next three are probably not very controversial.  I haven’t touched any of the Mass Effect games, but you can hardly be any kind of a gamer and have not heard people going on about them.  I have played through Half-Life 2 and spent a bit of time with Team Fortress 2, but they are not really my thing. (And HL2 plus Garry’s Mod made for one of the best video game based comics ever.)

And then there is Deus Ex, which I really have no recollection of at all.  It was apparently quite a thing and I missed it completely.  But it came out when I was still absorbed with EverQuest the first time around, as well as Diablo II, StarCraft, and a few other games I would consider classics.  We can’t get them all.  There are only so many hours in the day.  Heck, just the other day a co-worker admitted to me that he had never seen The Wizard of Oz.  I am not sure our culture makes sense without having seen that.

Anyway, another list examined.  I await the next one.

20 Games that Defined the Apple II

A little video my friend Scott sent me.

Direct link to video.

The games shown are, in chronological order:

  1. Ultima I
  2. Castle Wolfenstein
  3. Wizardry
  4. Swashbuckler
  5. Choplifter
  6. Lode Runner
  7. Cavern Creatures
  8. King’s Quest
  9. Impossible Mission
  10. Karateka
  11. The Oregon Trail
  12. The Bard’s Tale
  13. Elite
  14. Might and Magic
  15. Pirates!
  16. California Games
  17. Maniac Mansion
  18. Wasteland
  19. Prince of Persia
  20. Battle Chess

Not a bad list.  A lot of the games on it were on multiple systems, so I think they more define computer games in the 1980s rather than the Apple II specifically.  But not bad.  I played most of them.

If I were making the list I would probably strike Battle Chess and California Games from the list, as they came so late in the the cycle.  Prince of Persia is a bit questionable for me as well, as I played it on the Mac much later on.  But Wasteland was the last Apple II game I ever bought, so that plays into it.  What defined Apple II games for me came much earlier in the life of the platform

Instead I would add Aztec and probably Autoduel.  I would also substitute in Epoch (which doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry) for Elite, Ultima III in for Ultima I (which I think was just a better, more popular game), and probably Seven Cities of Gold for one of the over-represented-on-the-list RPGs.  And I would have a strong desire to get F-15 Strike Eagle in there somewhere.  And Pinball Construction Set.  And Taipan! as well.

There is the problem with making such lists.  I can look at all those Apple II games and pull out quite a few great ones.

And, as a side note, Oregon Trail is one of the games in the video I never played.

At least not on the computer.

Instead, that was a game we played as a teacher driven role playing game when I was in 7th grade.  True to the spirit however, when people refer to playing the video game version it sounds exactly like our role play version.  As young boys, my friends and I all loaded up our wagon with guns and as much ammo as possible and most of us went on to die of dysentery.

Amazon.com Proves I Do Not Play Video Games

Or that I don’t play new games.  Or good games.

Or at least that I do not buy any new games.

Another list.  Still not done with that theme, not by a long shot.

This time around, The Amazon Games team at Amazon.com has created their Best of 2012 Video Games list.

I am going to copy it here, with the platforms they indicate, just because.

  1. Journey (PS3)
  2. Borderlands 2 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  4. Dishonored (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  5. Mass Effect 3 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  6. The Walking Dead (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  7. Halo 4 (Xbox)
  8. Darksiders II (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  9. Hotline Miami (PC)
  10. The Last Story (Wii)
  11. Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox, PS3, PS Vita, PC)
  12. Gravity Rush (PS Vita)
  13. Diablo III (PC)
  14. GuildWars 2 (PC)
  15. Sleeping Dogs (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  16. Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward (PS Vita, 3DS)
  17. Assassin’s Creed III (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  18. Max Payne 3 (Xbox, PS3, PC)
  19. Lumines: Electronic Symphony (PS Vita)
  20. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Xbox, PS3, PC)

So, looking up at that list, my first thought is that there are a pile of sequels and remakes up there.

Of course, remakes, reboots, and sequels are the staple of most entertainment industries.  We moan about video games slipping into that mode these days, and movies having been there for a while, but frankly it is the way of things.  Go look up how many movie adaptations there have been of The Wizard of Oz.  Video games just haven’t been around long enough for us to get used to remakes, but even Shakespeare was ripping off plots and retelling old stories 400 some odd years ago, so we had all better get used to it I suppose.  Your grand kids will be playing Wasteland 8 or some such I bet.

After that, I have to admit that I have only played two of the games on the list (Guild Wars 2 and Diablo III), and I only bought one of them (Diablo III), and since I got that one through subscribing to World of Warcraft for a year (annoying pain point unnecessarily referenced just because I hold a grudge), you could make the case that I did not even buy that.

And then, finally, I start to wonder if these are really the best games of 2012.  I probably watch too much Zero Punctuation (for example, Halo 4 review) and play too few such games to be able to make my own determination.

Oh, and it sucks to be the Wii about now, with one game on the list.  But even Nintendo says they have moved on from the Wii, having no more titles in the queue for it.  Screw you, little white box of joy, we’re on to bigger and better things!

So, the usual wrap up.  The list, legitimate ranking or crass attempt to get sales out of the titles with the highest margins?

Top Ten Themes from my iTunes Library

Apropos of nothing, I was looking for the theme from Doctor Who in my iTunes library, so typed “theme” into the search box.

I have had an iPod and iTunes for quite a while now, having picked one up once they made iTunes available for Windows.  That was something like 9 years ago.  I have collected quite a bit of music since then. (But I have only needed two iPods, my original 3rd generation iPod and a 3rd generation Nano that replaced it.)

Just the search term “theme” brought up 73 results.  And iTunes can sort them by how many times I have listened to them.  So my top ten themes are:

  • Theme of the Universe – EVE Online sound track
  • Firefly Main Theme – From the show Firefly
  • Woke Up This Morning (Soprano’s Theme) – From The Sopranos
  • Doctor Who Theme – The enduring music from Doctor Who
  • Peter Gunn Theme – From the Blues Brothers sound track
  • The Theme from Route 66 – From Route 66
  • Kamp Krusty Theme Song – From The Simpsons
  • For Pete’s Sake (Closing Theme) – From The Monkees
  • The Itchy & Scratcy & Poochie Show Theme – From The Simpsons
  • The James Bond Theme – From like 23 movies, alright?

All told I have 5601 tracks in iTunes, for a total of 13.4 days of play time, end to end.  And that does not include podcasts (919 items, 34 days) or audio books (610 items, 167 days).

The most played track is actually a tie between The Son of Flynn from the TRON: Legacy sound tack and Below the Asteroids from the EVE Online sound track.  The most played theme that doesn’t actually have the word “theme” in it is Greeback Boogie, which is the theme from Suits.

And in all of that, I actually have the Doctor Who theme not once, but twice.  But I apparently only listen to one of them.

Time Magazine Sounds Off On The Best Video Games

I still love lists, so I am going to keep talking about lists.

Last week we had a rather controversial list of the 50 Best PC Games of All Time.  EVE Online made the top spot there.

This week Time Magazine has a list of the All-TIME 100 Video Games, which includes consoles and arcade machines.

I have to say, it is much easier for me to get behind this list than last week’s list.

Some of the games you have to take in the context of their time, like Pong.

Others are just great regardless of when you set them.

This Castle is Timeless, Dammit!

Of course I had that screen shot sitting around.

Games I can totally support being on the list.

Honestly, there are too many good games on that list for me to call out.

Hunt the Wumpus!  I played freakin’ Hunt the Wumpus back in the day!

Okay, I’ll stop.

There are games on the list that I am not a big fan of.  But the only one I am dubious of is Leisure Suit Larry.  I always felt that people liked the idea of that game much more than they liked the game itself.  I think it is there by legend alone.  But that might just be me.

So how is this list?  Is this a better list than last week’s list?

It almost makes me wish I didn’t cancel my Time subscription last week.  Almost.

Complex Gaming Declares EVE Online Best PC Game of All Time

Complex Gaming has a list, and we all love lists!  Well, I love lists.

This list is a list of their Top 50 Best PC Games of All Time.

And their top pick on the list is EVE Online.

Stuff blows up in space!

I cannot imagine that will cause any controversy.

Actually, the whole list is pretty controversial to me and seems pretty heavily weighted towards more recent games.  I would argue about whether Civilization V should be on the list relative to past versions. (I prefer Civ II still, and I know there are Civ IV partisans out there.)  And should both Torchlight AND Torchlight II make the list?  And both StarCraft AND StarCraft II?  Really?

On the MMORPG front, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Star Wars the Old Republic and, of course, EVE Online make the cut.  No EverQuest and no Guild Wars 2 though.

And LEGO Star Wars III but not LEGO Star Wars – The Original Trilogy?  Heresy!

Ah well, such lists are pretty much designed to stir up controversy.  How do you pick 10, 20, or even 50 “bests” out of such a huge body of work without leaving something out?

Maybe I should work on my own list.

Wikio Say I’m Still Number 29

Again this month I was contacted by somebody at Wikio… though somebody different… and asked if I would like to post the early version of the gaming blog rankings.

Last month I was in 29th place.

This month I am still in 29th place.

Let’s hear it for consistency… or constancy… or something.

Anyway, here is the September list.

(Actually, they call it the October list, because they publish it in October, but it is based on data collected in September.  So I find September to be a more accurate description.)

  1. Kotaku
  2. Joystiq
  3. PlayStation.Blog
  4. Destructoid
  5. Siliconera
  6. Game|Life – Wired Blog
  7. GameSetWatch
  8. Massively
  9. Penny-Arcade
  10. IndieGames.com – The Weblog
  11. WOW Insider
  12. GiantBomb’s Site Mashup
  13. GamePolitics.com
  14. The Brainy Gamer
  15. PlayStation LifeStyle
  16. That VideoGame Blog
  17. Broken Toys
  18. Ian Bogost
  19. Jay is Games
  20. Dueling Analogs
  21. PS3 NEWS
  22. Fidgit
  23. Gamezebo
  24. Koku Gamer
  25. Tobold’s MMORPG Blog
  26. GayGamer.net
  27. Cinema Blend Games
  28. Kill Ten Rats
  29. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  30. Virtual Worlds News

Ranking made by Wikio

It looks like it is going to be a pretty static list month after month.

I couldn’t be bothered to actually compare the two lists to see if anybody changed positions.  That would take more effort than I am willing to invest.

I did notice was that The Koalition, who held the bottom spot last month, was replaced by Virtual World News this month.  My condolences to The Koalition.

Oh, and the GayGamer got in behind Tobold.  I’m sure there is deeper meaning in that.

So what do you think of this list?  Should I continue posting it every month, if I continue to make the top 30?  They only invite you to preview it if you are on the list.

Oh, and WoW Insider changed their name to WoW.com like a year ago.  Get with the times.

Wikio.com Top Video Game Blogs List for August 2010

Wikio.com (not to be confused with Wikia.com) is… well… a “Social Networking News” site, to quote the masthead.

They appear to be a blog aggregator of some sort ala Digg or the recently departed DailyRadar sites.  Owned by Yahoo at least at some point, Wikio plies the RSS feeds, reports stories, tracks traffic, and allows you to vote on articles.  And they make lists.

If I appear to be uncertain of my topic so far, it is because I had not heard of Wikio.com until this week when I got a note from somebody representing them telling me that my site had made their top blogs list for the month and would I like a sneak preview of the list.  This preview offered on the condition that I publish the list as a post here.

I have a long establish love of lists, so I agreed.

Of course, one of my first questions was, “How are these rankings compiled?”

And the site has an answer for that.  Wikio says:

The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs. Our algorithm accords a greater value to links from blogs placed higher up in the ranking.

A blog linking another blog is only counted once a month i.e. if blog A links to blog B 10 times in a given month, it is only counted as having linked to that blog once that month. The weight of any link decreases over time. Also, if a blog always links to the same blog, the weight of these links is decreased.

Only links found in RSS feeds are counted. Blogrolls are not taken into account.

Our rankings are updated on a monthly basis and also include Top Blogs for several categories: Technology, Politics, etc. New categories will be added on a regular basis.

So links in posts drive the list, but links from highly ranked sites add more weight.  Simple enough I suppose, at least as long as I don’t have to code it.

Unlike the dearly departed DailyRadar sites, Wikio does not break out video game topics.  DailyRadar had MMO Blips for just MMO related sites, and even WoW Blips for just WoW related posts.  But for Wikio, the video games list is for any video game related site.

And there are a lot of them out there.

So it seemed rather unlikely to me that this site would make any list that limited itself to a number of entries or say, three digits or less.

I did not, however, count on the power of small sample size and incestuous inter-linking!

Enough rambling… most of you have probably skipped past all this anyway… to the list!

  1. Kotaku
  2. Joystiq
  3. PlayStation.Blog
  4. Destructoid
  5. Siliconera
  6. Game|Life – Wired Blog
  7. GameSetWatch
  8. Massively
  9. WOW Insider
  10. IndieGames.com – The Weblog
  11. GamePolitics.com
  12. Penny-Arcade
  13. GiantBomb’s Site Mashup
  14. PlayStation LifeStyle
  15. The Brainy Gamer
  16. That VideoGame Blog
  17. Ian Bogost
  18. Broken Toys
  19. Dueling Analogs
  20. Jay is Games
  21. Fidgit
  22. Gamezebo
  23. Koku Gamer
  24. PS3 NEWS
  25. Kloonigames
  26. Tobold’s MMORPG Blog
  27. Cinema Blend Games
  28. Kill Ten Rats
  29. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  30. The Koalition

Ranking made by Wikio

There we go!  30 sites on the list and I made it to 29!

In your face Koalition!

I am not sure what this list actually means.

There are a few of serious gaming sites, like Kotaku, Joystiq, and GameSetWatch.

There are a couple of bigger commercial MMO focused sites, like Massively and WoW Insider. (They changed their name to WoW.com about a year ago, let’s keep up people!)

There is Penny Arcade, a force unto itself.

There are a couple of million+ page views per year blogs, like Tobold and Broken Toys.

And then there is me, down there at 29th place, and I have no idea how I crashed the party.

Wikio.com offers the usual ranking badge for your side bar (you can put your URL in to see where you stand), with a supplemental badge if you rank in one of their sub-categories.  For the main badge I am somewhere down around 3,100st place and I do not qualify for the gaming category despite being on the above list.  But the FAQ says that they only update the list once a month.

I’ll have to keep an eye on this site to see what all this really means.  And maybe soon I will qualify for that video games ranking badge.