Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

EverQuest II – US Server Merges Complete, Kingdom of Sky Rejected, and Other Tidbits

The server merge… or server consolidation… or whatever they ended up calling it… plans for EverQuest II, officially announced back in August, are now complete.  Nine of the low population servers have been consolidated into three.

As somebody who had characters spread across four servers, Crushbone, Guk, Freeport, and Stormhold, I can now say that… I still have characters spread over four servers.  They are now named Maj’dul, Halls of Fate, Skyfire, and Stormhold.

So no help for me on that front.

The old servers were grouped and merged as follows:

  • Butcherblock, Crushbone, and Oasis servers into Maj’Dul
  • Everfrost, Guk, and Unrest servers into Halls of Fate
  • Freeport, Nagafen, and Permafrost servers into Skyfire

The ever-popular Antonia Bayle server was left to its own devices, while the even more popular Time Locked Expansion Servers, Stormhold and Deathtoll, roll on as before.

Servers outside of the United States have not been touched as yet.  If you want an EverQuest II PvP server, your options now are Deathtoll and that Russian server… Harla Dar?

There is an official FAQ about the merges as well as a helpful why aren’t things working FAQ reproduced over at EQ2 Wire.

I suppose I can bask in the warm glow of each of the characters on those three servers having nine more titles to choose from.  It appears that I got three variations of titles for each of the three servers,  So my character Reynaldo from the Guk server can be “Of,” “Descendant of,” or “Native of” Guk… or Everfrost… or Unrest.  Not sure why he got all three, but there it is.  I think I’ll stick with the old school “of E’Ci” title to show my old Norrathian cred.

Also, Reynaldo has years old guild mail from Revelry & Honor in his mailbox.  Lots of it.  I should probably go delete that at some point.

Meanwhile, on both the Stormhold and Deathtoll nostalgia servers, the Kingdom of Sky unlock vote went down to defeat.  From the forums:

Hail Norrathians,

This is a quick update to let you know that the vote to unlock Kingdom of Sky did NOT pass on either Stormhold (PvE) or Deathtoll (PvP) in November 2015.

Don’t worry if you’re one of the players that was excited about Kingdom of Sky content, because the vote will become available again in 30-days.

So no floating islands in the sky this month.

All this... is for later...

All this… is for later…

I still think a vote every 30 days is too quick, but Daybreak seems keen not to let the EQII retro servers turn into a stale death march of boredom, as tends to happen on the EverQuest time locked servers after the first few expansion.

I was going to proudly report how I voted no on the unlock… and then I went and looked at my screen shot and… well… I guess I voted yes.

Official ballot

Official ballot

I am not sure why I did that.  It seems unlike me.  But hey, glad to see that I went down to defeat.  Go me!

EverQuest II also turned 11 years old this week.  Or maybe it was last week.  I see different dates in various places.  It was either the 4th or the 9th by most accounts, or maybe the 6th, but SOE celebrated it last year on the 10th.  I suppose that just symbolized what a long strange road and all of that.  To celebrate that, Daybreak has their 12 year veteran award all set.

On per account

On per account

I am so out of touch with the game that I have no idea what those tokens are for.

They had to roll out the 12 year reward because purchasing the first four expansions gave people a 90 day… um… boost… to their veteran status.  Don’t ask me why this seemed like a good idea or a needed incentive back then.

As it so happens today, Friday, November 13th, is my own 11 year anniversary with the game, having rolled in just after launch when the second round of servers were opened up to take overflow from the initial servers.  I wrote about all of that last year, so I won’t dredge it all up yet again.  You can read that tale here.

And, in what might be considered an ironic twist, my Daybreak All Access subscription expired yesterday.  I cancelled it at the start of the month because I hadn’t been playing on Stormhold as much as I thought I would.  I haven’t been playing any fantasy MMORPGs recently.  It is just odd that it should expire when it did.  What were the odds?  (1 in 30… so not that long of a shot actually.)

Finally, we stand on the edge of the first post-SOE expansion for EverQuest II, Tales of Thumbelina… ern… Trials of Terre Haute… no… wait… I’ve got this…  Terrors of Thalumbra!

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Smed-thulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Smed-thulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!

Set to come out next Tuesday, November 17th, Daybreak has decreed that there shall be double XP from whenever they said until the expansion launches… at which time you may resume grinding at the usual rate.  Time locked expansion servers are exempt from this because you wanted an authentic experience, right?  Nobody made you roll a character there!

And that is what seems to be going on in post-Cataclym Norrath this week.

A Year of Reavers

In putting together the usual month in review post for Saturday, I noticed that my first post about Reavers came up in October of 2014.  A quick check of our super secret section of the GSF forums shows the first posts on October 14 of last year, so I am a couple weeks late on the anniversary, though less than a week off from my post about our first op.

The Imperium holds itself and its many players together through a variety of special interest groups, or SIGs.  The Imperium is, in its way, a microcosm of EVE Online.  On the outside looking in, you may view The Imperium as a whole by your interaction with one of those groups.  MiniLuv, the high sec freighter ganking group… which turns a tidy profit through its actions… gets a lot of attention despite being a rather small group.  There are other combat groups like Space Violence, Top Goon, Black Ops, Bomberwaffe, and CapSwarm.

Groups have their symbols or logos

Groups have their symbols or logos

There are also groups that do wormhole ops, faction warfare, incursions, industry, shipping, escalations, and other such things.  Some are official, some just small ventures.  Some take all comers, while others have skill or ship restrictions or require somebody to vouch for you.  You can roll into Space Violence pretty easily, but they might want to check you out a bit for Corps Diplomatique, you don’t get into CapSwarm unless you have the skills and own the right hull, and for GIA they will want more than just a bit of skin off the nape of your neck.  Some love newbies and dilettantes, others want old hands and dedicated players.

While I try to err on the side of caution when writing about the inner workings of The Imperium, you could see all of this yourself (unless you’re Gevlon) by joining Karma Fleet.  There is a whole sub-forum devoted to recruiting people to these groups.

You do not have to join any of these groups to fly in The Imperium.  There are plenty of coalition-wide fleets, and some of the groups will ping for outsiders to bring up their numbers.  They are there to help you find something you like to do and other players to do that with.  And your alliance and corp will likely also have additional options for you.

I went through the first three years in the CFC/Imperium as just a non-affiliated line member, joining only CrapSwarm, the group for people with a capital ship (in my case an Archon) and minimal skills, but not yet skilled up to fly in CapSwarm.  I think I once got a ping about a move op for that.

Even not joining any of those groups, I did not lack things to do during that time, as this blog will attest.  Eventually though, I began to drift.  War time was always exciting, but between such conflicts ops could be dull.  I tend to prefer ops with a goal, something beyond sitting on a gate in an fast locking ship and popping strangers flying through.

And then came the Reavers.  Formed from the ashes of Freedom Squad, Reagalan’s US time zone “let’s go shoot things” group, it was announced by The Mittani during an internal State of the Goonion talk (and later revealed in an alliance update) and was to be headed up by Asher Elias.  It was put in place as a reaction to the changes coming with the Phoebe expansion, specifically jump fatigue.

I seem to recall the name Reavers being a placeholder, and a Firefly reference, and then nothing better came up, so it stuck.

Reavers forum bee

Reavers forum bee

In a null sec of far flung rental empires, the ability to bridge, jump, or otherwise move fleets rapidly across many light years was being curtailed.  In a war, a group with a large area to defend would have to commit to the front lines of any conflict.

In this situation, Reavers were to go deep into the enemy’s territory, far behind the front lines, and cause havoc by blowing up SBUs, reinforcing towers, siphoning mining operations, setting timers, disabling station services, snapping jump bridge connections, and generally making such a nusance of ourselves.  The enemy would thus be forced to decide between fighting on the front lines or putting out fires deep in their rear areas.

The Reavers themselves would arrive via wormholes, carrying all they needed in their Ishtars.  They would live in, and log out from, safe spots and refit via mobile depots.  They would, scout, hit targets of opportunity, set timers, call in coalition support for particularly juicy targets (like capital ship assembly arrays), but otherwise safe up, cloak up, and log off should the enemy show up in force.  Our existence was to be denied, we were never to speak in local, we were to be a rumor and a story to scare renters with when it was dark out.

And such was our modus operandi for a while, so long as the large rental empires remained.

Naturally, the stealthy nature of our group also made it difficult for me to write about.  Other EVE Online players do occasionally read my blog.  Even The Mittani was momentarily aware of this site at one point a few years back.  I couldn’t write after action reports, or what passes for such here, when it came to daily ops or our location or targets or such without compromising operational security.  Still, I summed things up occasionally, wrote about successes or battles after the fact, and generally kept some track of what we had been up to, trying to share out details sparingly or only after they had been revealed via other sources.

Of course, null sec changed over the last year.  The big rental empires shrank, then faded for the most part, remaining now just in the north east of null sec. (Maps from the usual source.)

October 14, 2014 and October 14, 2015 compared

October 14, 2014 and October 14, 2015 compared

And with that, the tactics of the Reavers changed.  We went from living in safes to holing up in NPC stations.  For two campaigns in Querious, we lived out of high sec space which, if nothing else, made resupply very easy.  We’ve gone from Ishtars to Tengus, with some special docrtines along the way, including an all to brief stint flying Ravens. (Reavans!)

Smart bombs activated

Ravens with smart bombs activated

We’ve gone from those deep behind enemy lines deployments where we avoided contact to cozying up next to somebody’s home,  hitting their stuff, and looking for fights… because there aren’t a lot of big empires left to hide in.  We have changed as null sec has changed over the year.

And, in that year I have felt like I have been a part of a special group.  I’ve made an effort to go on every Reaver op I can.  I have been out for every deployment.  I changed up my avatar to meet the jacket pal spec and even wore a rough copy at EVE Vegas.

Jacketpals unite

Jacket pals unite!

I might be the least well known Reaver inside the group.  I almost never speak on voice coms… to the point that Asher was surprised to learn at one point that I actually had a mic, I just never use it… but I still feel like I belong.  I have learned a lot along the way, got to do fun things, and felt like we had a mission in the coalition.

So here is my retrospective, all my Reaver posts from the first year of the group.

That is 27 posts that cover a good portion of the first year.  Going through all of that I noticed that I missed a few ops.  There was our past run at TEST and a Rokh op that had us in Fountain with Brave Newbies that I never got around to posting about.  But I have at least a timeline of sorts that shows where we started and what we have been up to.

As for what the Reavers will be doing a year from now in null sec, we shall see.

Nine is a Magic Number

Yes, I was testing you… it’s nine. And that’s a magic number

-Dewey Finn, School of Rock, misquoting Schoolhouse Rock

However the magic being referenced here is mostly a product of stubbornness or persistence or force of habit as opposed to anything that one would find amazing or entertaining.

Also, references to my childhood

Also, reference to my childhood

Yes, here we are again, another anniversary, the ninth time through this sort of post.  If I were married to the blog, something my wife might suggest was the case at times, Hallmark would be suggesting I buy it something of pottery or willow or perhaps leather if you prefer the modern view.  Instead all it is getting is words, just like every year.

But just to keep on the video game theme, WordPress.com even popped up an achievement for me at 17:05 UTC, which I guess is when I clicked the create button nine years back.


“Good blogging” is making something of an assumption there I suppose, but I appreciate the sentiment I guess.

Meanwhile, past runs through this sort of post for those who just need to know what came before.

I think I have settled down into a pretty regular pattern at this point.  I went well out of my way with some stats in the early years, in part because they were easy to derive with only a year or two of data to sift through.  Now I just present what is close to hand and hope for the best.

Base Statistics

An attempt to quantify what I have done here in the last twelve months.  The change over last years totals are noted in parentheses.

Days since launch: 3,287 (+365)
Posts total: 3,707 (+360)
Average posts per day: 1.13 (-0.02)
Comments: 25,558 (+2,346)
Average comments per post: 6.9 (+0.0)
Average comments per day: 7.8  (-0.1)
Spam comments: 1,277,992 (+104,525)
Average spam comments per day: 388.8 (-12.8)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 50 (-0.6)
Comments written by me: 2,994 or 11.7%
Images uploaded:  9,259 (+1244)
Space used by images: 2.1 GB of my 3 GB allocation (70%)

Eventually we’re going to need a bigger boat or something for all the picture I upload.

Further stats, summaries, a mildly off-the-rails semi-rant, and a forward looking statement are hidden below because I seem to be going on and on this year.  ~4,000 words after the cut for those interested in such things.

Continue reading

One Hundred and Forty Million Skill Points

Months pass and the skill points continue to add up until, suddenly, it is time for another milestone post.  The skill point milestone story so far:

The ongoing attempt to have it all on one character continues.  I keep telling myself there will come a point where I will switch over and start training an alt, Wilhelm having finally trained up all of the skills he could possibly need.

Still not there yet, that’s for sure.

 Spaceship Cmd   36,330,616 (42 of 71)*
 Gunnery         13,915,745 (36 of 39)
 Leadership      12,803,000 (14 of 14)*
 Missiles        10,572,290 (21 of 24)*
 Drones           9,884,163 (19 of 21)*
 Navigation       9,660,314 (13 of 13)*
 Armor            6,899,137 (14 of 14)
 Engineering      5,974,395 (14 of 14)*
 Shields          5,645,390 (11 of 12)*
 Resc Processing  4,569,908 (22 of 28)
 Science          4,408,426 (21 of 39)
 Trade            3,271,765 (9 of 14)
 Electronic Sys   2,900,285 (6 of 15)*
 Targeting        2,306,195 (8 of 8)*
 Scanning         2,045,230 (7 of 7)* 
 Neural Enhance.  1,770,275 (5 of 8)* 
 Subsystems       1,320,000 (10 of 20) 
 Rigging          1,312,395 (10 of 10)* 
 Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)* 
 Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12) 
 Corp Mgmt        1,108,784 (4 of 7) 
 Planet Mgmt        769,335 (5 of 5) 

 Total         ~140,000,000 (295 of 398)

My focus over the last 10 month or so has been to get my character able to be a booster, either on or off grid, for fleet ops.  That is why there has been a big boost in skill points under Leadership.

Damnation in a POS

Dreams of being an on-grid boost…

Last April, at the 120 million skill point mark, I sat at just over 2.4 million points in Leadership.  Now I am way up to 12.8 million skill points in that category.  I also trained up command ships for the on-grid boosting role in addition to already having all my Tengu skills up to 5 for off-grid boosting.  So I must be a totally excellent fleet booster and sign up for that role in every fleet possible, right?

Um, no.

I have yet to actually fly in the booster role for a number of reasons.  While I sort-of know how to fly the role, the only time they have been asking for boosters have been for important ops, and I’d like a practice run before an op is counting on me.  You also have to invest in the ship and some expensive implants up front and be in that clone with that ship handy and ready to go at the right location.  And, while command ships and on-grid boosting was still a thing when I started down this path, off-grid boost is now all there is.  You go to a safe spot, turn on your links, and keep hitting the directional scanner looking for probes, in case the enemy is trying to scan you down to kill you.  That sounds dull.  I like to be with the fleet so I can at least see what is going on.  Ever the tourist.

Having Wing Command trained up to 5 has helped out a few times at least.  There tends to be a need for that so fleets can be the full 255 pilots.

Otherwise I have spent my training time rounding out my skills, getting things that affect my ships up to level 5.  I got the two missing racial frigates, Minmatar and Gallente, up to level 5, so I can fly all the stealth bombers now.  I am currently training up the sensor compensation skills for each of the races, which explains why targeting got a boost in points this time around.  Targeting may be the first category where I have all the skills to 5, though it is admittedly a small category.

I do have quite a few skills at level 5 at this point.  My skill breakdown is now:

 Level 1  - 3
 Level 2  - 22
 Level 3  - 41
 Level 4  - 82
 Level 5  - 158

Meanwhile, I have been quite enjoying the fact that losing your pod is now pretty much a no-cost issue for me.  Aside from the potential fleet booster role and my training clone, my clones are all implant free, so there is no loss potential on that front.

I have a neural re-map coming up in June.  The last one I did I flattened out all my skills so that anything I trained would be equally fast… or slow.  This time around I think I will go back to being biased towards training ship and weapon skills at the expense of the social and leadership.  I am not sure I need to train into Fleet Command V, which would be all I have left under Leadership.

And then there is the final silly metric that I have been using throughout this series of posts, which is how long it would take me to train to fly a titan.  By the 130 million skill point post, simply flying one was down to two skills, so I changed that up to what it would take to fly a fully fit titan, specifically the Minmatar Ragnarok.

Free wheeling Ragnarok

Free wheeling Ragnarok

When I looked at that I was 130 days and 17 hours away from being able to lock myself away forever in a rusty, angular space coffin.  Super caps are like the Hotel California; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.  Not that I will ever opt for that.  I am not yet that much of a bitter vet.

I did not expect that number to change, but then I found I had actually trained a few of the of the skills.  Astrometrics 5 was a big one, though I don’t remember exactly why I trained it.  And then I trained up Jump Portal Generation to 4 so I could operate a black ops battleship, in case we needed one out on a Reavers op.  That seemed important after our misadventure with hot dropping.  Those two skills combined pushed the titan timeline more than 17 days, knocking the number down to 113 days and 12 hours.  The biggest skill in that is still Capital Ships 5, which is close to 70 on its own.

Anyway, my skill training online adventure continues.  The next stop will be 150 million skill points, which I ought to hit around the new year.

Twelve Years a Clone

EVE Online turns twelve years old today, which is a ripe old age for an MMO.  By the time a decade rolls by for a lot of games in the MMO genre they have often been superseded by a sequel (Guild Wars), have become niche interests for a nostalgic few (Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot), have been put into maintenance-only mode (Asheron’s Call), have become a small fan supported project to tinker with (Meridian 59, Saga of Ryzom), or have been just shut down outright (do I need a list?).

I remember a time when the idea of closing down an MMO seemed strange.  I’ve since been cured of that delusion.

And even many of those that have avoided completely falling off of the mainstream of MMOs for more than a decade feel their age.  EverQuest, which turned 16 back in March, is still a viable money maker for Daybreak, but it really feels old when you play.  Meanwhile, the big ten year anniversary plan for World of Warcraft, the undisputed leader of the MMO free world (or something), was to try to recapture 2007 by returning to Draenor.

Yeah, when you bring in a BILLION dollars of revenue annually, you tend to be shy about making radical changes to game play.  Even with all they have done the game still feels mostly like it did back in 2005 when I first started playing.  The details have changed, but the look and feel remains.

And then there is EVE Online, which still feels like it is finding its way to something, still bringing the game forward to what it should be, still making mistakes and then fixing them… though the fixing part is relatively new.  CCP itself views almost the first nine years of the game as the preliminaries to what they are trying to do now.

The Phases of CCP

The Phases of CCP – Mistakes made, but the jury is still out on lessons learned I think…

I wasn’t there for the early, early days of the game.  No beta, no crude early graphics for me.

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much, the UI though…

I first heard about EVE Online back when the first bloom of EverQuest II had faded and we faced the first great exodus from our guild.  People who left… and who bothered to leave a forwarding address… were mostly headed either off to World of Warcraft or back to EverQuest.  But one old TorilMUD player, whose name escapes me now, said he was off to a game called EVE Online.  That was the first time I had heard the game mentioned.  He said something about spaceships, but I never followed up on it.  I was still committed to EQII, the game having not hit its low point for me yet.

EVE Online did not come up again in my world until more than a year later, when I started listening to the VirginWorlds podcast.  Brent (who I just saw in EVE Online on Monday night, so he lives still and might even be MMO-ing as well) mentioned EVE Online and its unique nature, problems, and challenges frequently, as did Ryan and Gary from the Massively Online Gamer podcast. (And Ryan ended up working for CCP at one point, so we just keep closing the loop here.)

That talk got me to actually try the game, which looked like this when I started in August 2006.  Witness me foundering in the long gone tutorial of the day.  And then my first post-tutorial mission was “Worlds Collide!”  Not really viable in an Ibis.  But I persisted… for a while.

EVE as I found it

EVE as I found it… I meant to upload the one with the UI on…

The game didn’t stick for more than a few months.  I left… and then like so many EVE players, I came back and did something different.  Then I got bored with that and left again.  Then I came back and found something else.  What to do in EVE Online is a pretty open question.  There is a myriad of different paths and you can mix and match or alter any of them to fit your mood.

And the paths can be very different.  Rixx Javix and I both theoretically fly in harms way in potentially hostile space expecting to get shot at on the far side of every gate.  But his game is bizarro world different than mine.  For example, he goes on about warp core stabilizers all the time and those aren’t even a thing in my world, while my fear of warp disruption bubbles doesn’t play into his low sec view of the game.

Sometimes these different aspects of the game can be hilarious.  I have seen long time, hardcore null sec vets get nervous flying into empire space.  They don’t know the rules.  Being in high sec with all those damn neutrals makes a null vet very nervous.   Plus you can’t just shoot people without consequence.

And here, at the twelve year mark, long after most viable MMOs seem to have plateaued and hit a formula that keeps its core happy and subscribed… regular content heavy expansions, with more levels, more dungeons, more raids, more shiny things… CCP is proposing radical changes to the way things work in my part of space.

Going through a phase

Heading to Phase 2

I poured out twelve hundred words yesterday about how I have to pack up and move a bunch of crap across a couple regions because the updates coming next month are going to change how the world works in null sec.  If I had been writing about doing that much lifting and carrying in a game like WoW, I probably would have been annoyed.  But moving crap is part of EVE, as I said at the top of that post, and if you cannot accept that is part of what makes the game what it is… well, it might not be for you.

But beyond just accepting that as the way things are in New Eden, I am actually excited about what it portends.  When the next update drops, it will be a new world in null sec… a new, chaotic, probably broken, likely full of exploits new world… but a new world none the less, which will bring its own forms of excitement and comedy and bitching and drudgery.  CCP will be both praised and cursed, often in the same breath.  Then we’ll all figure it out, the most egregious problems will be addressed, and a new dynamic will be born.

EVE Online is a strange mix of the traditional MMO values, which is often heavy on nostalgia and incremental improvements and N+1 changes, and its own sort of chaotic ability to shake things up, piss people off, and still keep going.

So here we are at year twelve and CCP is still… well… figuring things out, for lack of a better phrase.  And, as happens on these occasions, CCP has some gifts for those currently subscribed, something that always makes a few people angry.

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain, then triggers them

The implants that CCP is giving out, which I won’t use because my ship will get blown up, I will get podded, and I will lose them, apparently crashed the market and I who needs another jacket… unless you’re some sort of space roleplay dress up freak.  Who is that over the top?  Hrmm… Amarr Victor I guess.

So happy twelfth birthday to New Eden.  Things have changed a lot over the years.

Rifter and Harpy in warp

More recent Rifter and Harpy hulls warping off

I look forward to seeing how the game continues to evolve.

Avoiding Guild Wars for a Decade

Guild Wars occupies a strange spot in my gaming history.

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words...

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words…

It came along ten years ago this week… something I only noticed when another bloggers mentioned the anniversary… at a point in time when the future of MMOs seemed golden.

EverQuest had brought a lot of players into the genre in a way that no MMO or proto-MMO before it had.  It confirmed that there was a bigger audience out there than was suspected, and that audience would pay to play.  Other games came on the scene like Dark Age of Camelot and Star Wars Galaxies that were clearly differentiated for EQ.  It seemed like we would have all sorts of unique choices when it came to MMOs going forward.

Meanwhile, EverQuest II and World of Warcraft had both launched the previous November (we hit my 10 year anniversary with WoW last month and I totally forgot) but, while WoW was clearly taking off, we were not yet at a point where “must make a WoW clone!!!” was the dominating developer thoughts.

The market was also small, at least when it came to the number of titles.  It felt like you could realistically know something about all the major titles on the market as well as those under development.  The whole VirginWorlds podcast era was predicated on the idea that you could talk about the MMO market segment in detail in a weekly one hour or less session and pretty much cover all they key players.

At the time I was just back into the MMO thing, having quit EQ and the genre back before Planes of Power launched.  As noted in the relevant anniversary post, Gaff got me to play EverQuest II at launch.

By the time Guild Wars launched in 2005 I had given WoW a try and wasn’t really thrilled, something I mentioned to a co-worker who had played EverQuest over lunch.  A surprising (to me) number of my co-workers ended up playing EverQuest.  This particular one had also burned out on EQ and was somewhat reluctant to get in on the subscription MMO level grind again.  It wasn’t that he hadn’t enjoyed some, or even most of his time in Norrath.  It was just that feeling you get when you’re too busy to use something you’re paying for.

He told me the game he had his eye on was Guild Wars.

He was keen on the MMO, or MMO-like, multi-player experience without the whole monthly fee.  Buy the box and you’re done, like a REAL video game.  That is what made it stand out among the so-called third generation MMOs. (And this ignores the whole Guild Wars isn’t an MMO thing, which I can’t even begin to address.  As with H1Z1, the company simply saying it isn’t an MMO doesn’t make it so.  The definition is both complex and situational in my mind, but there is also a certain amount of “quacks like a duck” in there as well.)

He was kind of our scout into this game.  He picked it up at launch and I would go by and ask him about it now and again.  He talked about the character models and the way cities were shared but that zones or content was all instanced and the skill system where you were limited to the number of active skills you had.

And the graphics.  He was effusive about the environment.  Most people with whom I have spoken to about the game over the years have praised that aspect.

At the time though I was fully committed to EQII, a game that had been changing and evolving… and breaking now and again… since launch.  Too much to keep up with there to start a new MMO-like game.

Then we all defected to WoW and the focus was on Azeroth.  Then I started EVE Online for a bit, then the blog started, then there was the instance group and so forth.  Somewhere in there I entered the VirginWorlds sphere of influence and would listen to Brent and sometimes co-host Brenden talk about other MMOs, which got me both more interested and more aware of the wider genre which, as noted above, seemed like a thing a single person could know about.

And Guild Wars was a common topic.  Brent and Brendan would talk about it, Van Hemlock was big on it, there were other former bloggers keen on the game, so it was always part of the mix.  Eventually I bought a copy.  I know this because the box is still sitting in my bookshelf.

MMO Boxes on my shelf

MMO Boxes on my shelf

At some point in the past I dumped a bunch of boxes but, for whatever reasons, I chose to keep these particular ones.  The EverQuest and the EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark CD jewel cases are on the far left, while the original EverQuest manual is next to A Theory of Fun on the right.

And you can see there isn’t just one, there are TWO Guild Wars boxes.

Yet I cannot recall ever really playing the game.

I remember taking a couple of runs at it.  I found exactly FOUR screen shots from Guild Wars after sifting though my hard drives that indicated that I made at least two characters, one male and one female, at some point.  I think that might have been after a podcast discussion where somebody was effusive about the female character models in the game.

Sexy or Sexualized?

Sexy or Sexualized?

I also recall at one point trying to get a group together in Guild Wars with Potshot and Ula during one of the hiatus periods of the WoW group.  I have a distinct memory of us in a small town with very pretty and detailed flowers… and being unable to jump over an ankle-high obstacle… but little else.  Something didn’t click because we clearly did not stick with it.  I did not even make a blog post about it.  I have literally written more about games I never played myself, like LEGO Universe, or games that never launched in the US, like KartRider, or games that never even existed, like Planet Michael, than about Guild Wars.  I have certainly written more about games the instance group has tried and dropped.  Runes of Magic has gotten many more words than Guild Wars, for example.

This might be my first Guild Wars post in more than eight and a half years.  And despite having been aware of the game since before launch, I have very little to say about it.

Meanwhile the landscape of the MMO market has changed.  The golden age ended, for me at least, with the crash of Warhammer Online, which killed the idea of being both popular and different from WoW. After that the tomb was sealed when the idea of another mass market subscription MMO, the now cringe-inducing idea of a WoW-beater, was laid to rest when Star Wars: The Old Republic went free to play.  Now we talk about niche games and funding and variations on business models and funding and fanciful ideas about developer independence and funding and cash shops and what went wrong back in the day and how it is all Blizzard’s fault.

And yet Guild Wars is still there, which is kind of amazing given the propensity NCsoft has for shutting down games that simply are not making enough money.  It has been overshadowed by Guild Wars 2 (which I can actually remember playing still!) and is never going to see any further expansions or content updates, yet it still abides.

Anyway, it has been ten years.  Happy anniversary!

Other places writing about Guild Wars at age ten:


LOTRO – The War of the Ring as an Eight Year Long Quagmire

Lord of the Rings Online officially went live eight years ago today.  I had been in the late beta, but made sure to note the first day that it was officially a going concern back in 2007.

Yahoo Headline 2007

Yahoo Headline 2007

Of course, one of the ongoing jokes about the game is how long it has take it to move through the story relative to how long the events in the books were reported to take.  Even allowed a generous spread of dates, say from when Gandalf warns Frodo to get out of the Shire (April 11, 3018 TA, or five months before Frodo gets off his ass and goes… hobbits…) through to when Sam Gamgee arrives back from the Grey Havens (October 6, 3021 TA) after Frodo and Bilbo depart Middle-earth, still only comes up to three and a half years.  The old LOTRO news site A Casual Stroll to Mordor came by its name honestly,

It wasn’t so bad at first.  The game only took about a year longer to get to The Mines of Moria than it took the fellowship to get through to the other side, though that still put the expansion out longer than it took to Frodo to throw down Sauron, celebrate with the new king, meander back to The Shire, fight the last battle, and start complaining about his PTSD.

But here we are, eight years in, and still in The Two Towers, with Minas Tirith still over the horizon.  I like to try to imagine the story playing out over a longer stretch, the war of the ring as an ongoing quagmire, though it requires both sides to move at a pretty lethargic pace.  Vast armies slow to form then lumbering about at a snails pace as Frodo… I don’t know what Frodo is up to.  He and Sam seem to have found something to do.

Anyway, Turbine’s vision of Middle-earth is still here to explore.  Things do not look promising, at least if you were holding out hope against hope of seeing Mount Doom or the gates of Mordor.  The look forward into 2015 seemed rather modest, and then we had all those tales of woe about Turbine itself leak.  But we are also unlikely to see as ambitious an attempt to recreate Middle-earth any time soon, so enjoy it while we have it.