Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

No. I’d Rather Kill Rats.

In keeping with the anniversary theme of this year, and dipping once again into the Computer Gaming World archive.  I give you the ad that ran in the December 2004 issue, which hit news stands and mail boxes in November.

Computer Gaming World Issue 245 – December 2004

A two-page spread isn’t so bad.  Since I am working from a scan, ads spread across two pages don’t line up unless I leave an appropriate gap.  That is a decent screen shot to capture a bit of the game.  It feels like it is in Stranglethorn Vale maybe?  I’m sure somebody will know where it is set.  I’m not sure there is such a dragon there abouts, but maybe there was at one time.

The only fly in the ointment was that the ad was way back on pages 78-79.  That’s the back half of the magazine, the cheap seats.  Diablo II didn’t have to put up with anything that far back in the magazine.  That position placed it lower in precedence than the horrible Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude ad, another Vivendi title, which got the opening pages, and the IGE.com gold seller ad, which holds the back cover.

I suppose at least it was a few pages ahead of the Saga of Ryzom ad.

You might get a sense of how tentative the launch date for WoW actually was from this ad.  Placement of ad copy has to happen a couple months in advance.  So when this ad suggests that you sign up for the beta, it means that likely back in August or so they were really not feeling firm about November.

Again, as I have said in the past, CGW isn’t any sort of definitive measure.  It wasn’t the biggest video game magazine out there.  But it was scrappy and it jumped on big titles to sell copies.  And on the cover of that issue was EverQuest II.  You can see that cover, and download a .pdf of the whole thing, here.

Anyway, happy fifteenth anniversary to World of Warcraft!  I didn’t get around to playing until early March 2005.  When WoW launched I was with Jeff Green, wading into post-cataclysm Norrath wondering if the lighting that was EverQuest might strike twice.

Also, you can totally kill rats in Azeroth if you want.  Sure, that quest in the tram station just has you charm them, but with the implication that they were to be turned into kebabs, which I find to be something of a distinction without a difference.  And the fact that they went hard on the bear, boar, wolf quest kill quests doesn’t exactly represent a leap in the genre.

Where they really innovated was in the realm of poop and outhouse related quests.  Why don’t we have a trailer about that?  Where is my poop parade?

Oh, and today also marks the 25th anniversary since the launch of the Warcraft franchise.

Warcraft has been a thing for almost half my lifetime.

Two Hundred and Ten Million Skill Points

I thought I was done with these skill point progress posts.  I said at 200 million skill points that I probably had enough skills trained on my main and that I should start working up an alt because you become completely spoiled after a while by having every primary and secondary skill trained up to at least IV and usually V for any fit you want to fly.

And I stood by that for maybe seven months, turning off training on Wilhelm and running up skills on an alt I could leave behind in Delve for things like homeland defense fleets while otherwise deployed.

And then CCP added more ships to the game and my goal of being able to fly all the subcaps reared its head yet again and now I am another ten million skill points up on my main.

As I do with these posts, here is my skill point journey so far, broken out in ten million skill point increments.

And here is where I stand on skill point distribution.

Spaceship Cmd  70,558,541 (66 of 81)*
Gunnery        19,565,141 (36 of 52)*
Drones         17,036,708 (22 of 26)
Fleet Support  13,351,107 (14 of 15)*
Missiles       11,111,853 (22 of 26)
Navigation      9,660,314 (13 of 13)
Engineering     8,939,855 (15 of 15)*
Electronic Sys  8,159,689 (15 of 15)*
Scanning        7,168,000 (7 of 7)*
Armor           6,131,137 (13 of 13)
Shields         6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science         5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Resc Processing 4,756,183 (22 of 37)
Subsystems      4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Trade           3,821,020 (10 of 14)
Neural Enhance  3,810,275 (7 of 8)
Targeting       3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Rigging         1,944,630 (10 of 10)*
Planet Mgmt     1,612,315 (5 of 5)
Structure Mgmt  1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production      1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social          1,130,040 (5 of 9)
Corp Mgmt          24,000 (2 of 5)

~Total 210,477,704

Items with an asterisk changed from last time I checked in.

My skills broken out by levels.  Lots of level V skills now.

 Level 1 - 1
 Level 2 - 3
 Level 3 - 38
 Level 4 - 90
 Level 5 - 224

As usual, Spaceship Command got the bulk of the last ten million points, rising by about 7.5 million points since last check in.  The Triglavian menace drove quite a bit of that.  I can now fly all of the Triglavian ships from Damavik to Leshak, including the Tech II models in the middle.

A Damavik and a Vedmak in warp

A Damavik and a Vedmak

I’ve only flow the Damavik in combat so far, back when DBRB had his Triglavian roam, but I have a Leshak sitting in my hangar for structure shoot ops.

I just make a “bzzzzzzz” sound in my head when I see a Leshak burning something down

I also made sure I could fly the Monitor… not that I plan to be an FC, but just as a completionist skill.  I want to be able to fly ALL the subcaps dammit!

Likewise, the coming of the Triglavians and their new weapon systems meant that gunnery also got a boost in skill points.  I didn’t go tech II across the board there, just where I thought it might be required.  Again, Leshak is ready on that front.

In the other areas… I guess I tuned up a few skills to level V.  The only other one I remember clearly is Armor Rigging V, which I trained out of my reserve of unspent skill points, when I realized that my Guardian would go slightly faster if I had that trained.  We were on an op with Asher and listing out all the skills that might make ships go faster for the armor Ishtar doctrine we were flying and that was the only one I did not have maxed out.  I will spend skill points freely for a bit more speed.

That all got me pretty far along for the ten million skill point milestone, but I was still short.  So I trained up one silly skill.  I trained up Capital Ships V.  So, when it comes to the age old question… or at least as old as I have been writing this series of post… of how far I am from flying a titan, the answer is now “under two hours.”

It only took me a dozen years to get from about 168 days to under two hours.  That is real government project level efficiency there.

And now I am back to training up that alt.  He is nearly done with tech II logi skills.

EverQuest II at Fifteen and the Memories of What Could Have Been

I am sure I’ve told this tale before… probably several times… but playing EverQuest II back at launch was really a last minute decision for me.  Meclin… or Gaff… or Rarik…  or whatever I call him these days… Tim I guess… with whom I had played Sojourn/TorilMUD on and off for the previous decade, was suddenly taken with the idea of playing EverQuest II.

An ad for EQII from the August 2004 issue of Computer Gaming World

I hadn’t really been paying attention.  I’d stopped playing EverQuest for a variety of reasons, gave my account to a friend who still played and was doing some multi-boxing (they never changed the password, so I checked back on that account and found all my chars deleted), and basically played single player games or online match-based games like Delta Force and Battlefield 1942.  I knew some people who played EQ or DAoC, but I wasn’t interested.  I had neither the time nor the inclination.

TorilMUD revived itself, after having gone missing for a stretch, in early 2003 which got some of the people I knew back together.  I dove back into that and for one last stretch it became my main game.  But after getting to level cap and getting into a guild and doing zones regularly, word started to get around about EverQuest II.

There was a strong tie between TorilMUD and EQ, with TorilMUD having been the home of a number of EQ devs, including Brad McQuaid, and having served as the basic template for EQ.  A lot of early EQ, from classes to the death mechanics, were rooted in TorilMUD.

So with an new EverQuest coming, it was natural for people to be looking into it.  Not me however, I wasn’t feeling any sort of itch.  Tim though, he was listening to the reports on the new game.  He even passed me a write up somebody had done in beta.  He wanted to get in on the new game, and all the more so since he missed out on early EverQuest.  So a bunch of people from our guild… him and Chandigar and Pril and Oteb and a few others… got on board with playing EverQuest II at launch.

Or almost at launch.

We didn’t get there for the first round of servers.  But the team at SOE had a plan for launch that included bringing new servers online as the current ones filled up.  So we joined in with the launch of the Crushbone server on November 13, 2004, fifteen years ago today.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

We got in, got through the Isle of Refuge, made it to town, and eventually formed a guild the next day.

Our guild on Crushbone

The guild was a mix of TorilMUD players and some EverQuest players that included a friend of Tim’s.  We all joined together and became the Knights of the Cataclysm.

The EverQuest II lore is based on a cataclysm, the breaking of the moon that rained down debris on Norrath, sundered the lands, broke up continents, reworked the landscape, and basically provided a way to start from scratch to a certain extent.

The game, heir to EverQuest, the reigning champion of the fantasy MMORPG genre with more than 550K subscribers, was expected to carry on the tradition of the original.  The headline of the review by Jeff Green in CGW was The Once and Future King!

Unfortunately, cataclysm proved to be something of an apt metaphor for the game.  There was a lot wrong with it at launch.  For openers, the systems requirements were way too high, something that prevented much of the EQ base from even considering migrating to the new game.  And that migration was clearly central to the plan at SOE.

There were also a myriad of bad assumptions, bad features, and last minute changes… the game was already a year or so “late” so the need to launch seemed to be driving much of the process at that point… that hamstrung the game.

Some of it was self-inflicted.  There has long been the tale about how the EQII team felt they had to steer away from the original game and create their own lore.  Crafting, which had been its own class during the beta, because a sub-class for players, though retained the same advancement structure.  What it also retained was an overburden of complexity and interdependence between the professions.

Adventuring classes had the odd archetype system, where you chose fighter, rogue, cleric, or mage up front, then specialized at level 10, then again at level 20, at which point you were finally at your final class.  But there were really too many classes and too many races and not enough character slots (just 4).

Grouping was pretty much required if you wanted any sort of smooth ride while leveling.  Some zones were locked behind group quests, though only if you wanted to go there before a given level.  Afterwards you could just walk in.  And somebody at SOE had given too much ear to people complaining about twinking in the forums, so a lot of spells could only be cast on groups members, others had pitifully short duration, and some spells combined both.  Gone were the days of casting Spirit of the Wolf on grateful lowbies.

And then there were the core issues, like zones.  The market was moving towards the seamless world idea, but EQII still had you zoning.  And there wasn’t even the illusion of a single world as with EQ.  The place was chopped up into disconnected areas that you visited via a portal or a bell.  I am sure that some problems were solved with this approach, but it left the game feeling less like a world.

Add in the graphics, which were not bad if you had a rig that could display them, though the color scheme tended towards muddy, but when you did crank them up went a little too far into the uncanny valley when it came to characters, and the seeds of discontent had been sown.

Meanwhile the gaming market itself had changed.  When EverQuest launched in March of 1999 there were other MMORPGs, but they were pretty different.  Ultima Online had its isometric 3rd person perspective.  Meridian 59 was all about PvP.  When Asheron’s Call showed up it had a different advancement philosophy.  These were all distinctively different titles.

By late 2004 more games had appeared in the genre.  Dark Age of Camelot talked about being like EverQuest with PVP but without the “suck.”  There was already news coverage for other competing titles.  Guild Wars was in the offing.  Brad McQuaid had already left SOE with some of the original EverQuest crew and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was vying for the successor to Norrath title.  And, of course, there was that title from Blizzard that was getting lots of coverage.

And so the cataclysm metaphor seemed apt.

Not that it was all bad.  The game’s housing system, and how well integrated it was to the game, including a trade profession dedicated to building furniture, still stands apart from any other MMORPG I have played.  Its free form decorating and the ability to hang trophies from your adventures on your wall, as well as being your in-game store front, worked very well.

As a group, as a guild, we stayed mostly pretty dedicated to the game for almost a year.  But we were something of the exception rather than the rule.  People who did not feel at home in the new world often went back to EverQuest.

But in a couple of weeks after we first logged in World of Warcraft launched, and a lot of people who didn’t go back to EverQuest moved on to WoW instead.

SOE knew they were in trouble pretty quickly after WoW launched, and the game started changing to adapt.  We got little quills and books over quest givers, the EQII version of the big yellow exclamation mark and question mark in Azeroth.  Trade skills got revamped.  We got offline selling.  The emphasis on grouping being a requirement after level 20 or so was relaxed somewhat.  A lot of those group encounters in the Thundering Steppes were made solo encounters.  Buffs got saner timers.  Travel was tinkered with.

Meanwhile, the SOE mania with more content lest we all leave… EQ was well into its “two expansions a year” era… meant that an expansion popped up before some of us were at level cap.

Within a few months people started to fade away.  On guild coms people were pining for Vanguard, which they were now sure would be the real EQ successor.  I went off and tried WoW. came back for a while, then a large portion of the TorilMUD faction in our guild went to WoW together, settling on the Eldre’Thalas server where I still play some of the characters I rolled up back then.

And now here we are, fifteen years down the road, and the game is still there.

As their splash screen proudly declares… though that is the original EverQuest box art

It has been updated, changed, and re-arranged over the years often, but not always, improving the game.  It still gets a new expansion every year, which is a lot more than many games in the genre get.  People still pine for an alternate universe where WoW never launched, but I don’t think that would have made the game any more popular.  It was a mess at launch, but has matured over time, so that the game today plays differently than it did way back when… though there are too many damn skills still.

Oddly, I think the fact that the game has changed so much, mostly for the better, is one of the reasons that the whole progression server idea isn’t nearly as popular for EQII as it is for EQ.

In EQ the old locations mostly look about the same.  Okay, they updated Freeport, but Qeynos and Faydwer still look as crappy as they did back in 1999.  Even if the progression server isn’t a pure 1999 experience, you can squint your eyes and pretend and mostly feel the nostalgia burn.

But EQII?  How the hell does Daybreak even begin to simulate the chaos and dysfunction that was early EQII?  So much has changed that there is no going back to 2004.  There simply aren’t enough free resources at Daybreak to re-create the original game.

Fifteen Years of EverQuest II

Fifteen years ago EverQuest II went live.  I think the official date was some time yesterday, but like many things about the early history of the game, there are conflicting views.  Wikipedia puts the date as today. Holly too.  But others say yesterday. Either way, it was fifteen years old by the time this post went live.

As their splash screen proudly declares

My own fifteen year anniversary with the game doesn’t hit until Tuesday, at which point there will be a post about my experiences with the events of the time.  I came in with the second wave of servers, starting on the long since merged into memory Crushbone server.  SOE had a plan back then.  They were not going to have the same problems then did with the EverQuest launch five years before.

And they were correct on that point.  This game’s problems would be different.

There are celebrations, with a Dragon Attack event that runs until December 5th and the Heroes Festival, which goes until the 19th.  There is a news post about those with details.

There is also a 15th anniversary celebration bundle for sale.  When you’re free to play you always have to keep selling things.  It includes a number of goodies, including a birthday cake cutting picture you can hang in your house.

Celebrating 15 years

I haven’t decided if I am going to join in.  While I still have some enthusiasm for the game somewhere inside of me, it isn’t quite the same as EverQuest hitting 20 earlier this year.

Plus, if I am honest, I am still invested in WoW Classic at the moment, and WoW has its own 15 year anniversary coming up soon.

Still, I cannot let the date pass without notice.

Happy 15th Anniversary EverQuest II!

The Thirteenth Floor

Another year has come and gone and here we are at thirteen.

This car does not stop at that floor

Thirteen is an unlucky number to some, but it has always been a bit of a talisman in our family, something of an attraction rather than an aversion.  I went skydiving with a friend on Friday the 13th, picking that day specifically for the unlucky connotation.  In the end though, it is just a number, something that passes by fleetingly, unless you’re 13 years old.  I’ve never been more miserable in my life than when I was 13, an age that seemed to last forever.

Now my blog is thirteen.  I hope it isn’t as bad off as I was at that age.

For those new to the site… how did you end up here… this is an annual tradition.  If you’re a glutton for punishment, there are twelve past entries to review.

I used to do cute themes for this post.  Years five and six are probably the best efforts for that, while I think eight is where I get the most philosophical.  That is where I said I would stop blogging at the ten year mark.  But here I am.  There are days when I am just so very tired that I can barely crank out the 2,000 words that make up the core of the post like this.  Cute pictures and the philosophy of the internet just aren’t in me anymore.

But on we go, as we do every year, for a look behind the curtain at the numbers and such that inform about this blog.

Base Statistics

The same thing every year, looking at how the various needled moved over the last dozen months.

Days since launch: 4,748 (+365)
Posts total: 5,215 (+420)
Total Words: 3,967,279 (not including this post)
Average words per post: 761.18
Post Likes: 9,521
Average posts per day: 1.098 (+0.05)
Comments: 32,451 (+1,670)
Average comments per post: 6.22 (-0.20)
Average comments per day: 6.83 (-0.18)
Spam comments: 1,482,548 (+32,607)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 438 (+4)
Average spam comments per day: 312.24 (-18.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 45.6 (-1)
Comments written by me: 6,430 or 19.8%
Images uploaded: 14,575 (+1,432)
Space used by images: 603.7MB 1.2 GB of my 3 GB allocation (33%, up 100%)
Blog Followers: 1,701 (+209)
Twitter Followers: 743 (+14)
Tumblr Followers: 33 (+7)
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 7

Much more after the cut, if you feel like looking at a lot of charts, lists, and numbers.  Actual page view numbers are available.

Continue reading

Celebrate 16 Years of EVE Online by Logging in for 16 Days Straight

They promise it will be worth it.

Yes, that time of year has rolled around again and CCP is celebrating another EVE Online anniversary.  2019 makes it sweet 16 for the game.  That’s old enough to get a driver’s license where I live.  CCP has a dev blog up about how they will be celebrating this milestone.

Sixteen Years and I got a T-Shirt

There will be gifts.  But these gifts will be doled out as daily login rewards, so you will need to log in each account, every day, for sixteen days in order to collect them all.

I am not a fan of login rewards like this.  It strikes me as a rather transparent way to boost the monthly active user, the dreaded MAU at whose altar so many analysts worship, without necessarily doing anything to improve game play or to get a user to go beyond collecting their reward and logging off.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t log in every damn day all the same.  I’ll do that for some free stuff.  If you ring the rewards bell I do salivate.

And, as you may have noted, the event lasts for 18 days, so you can forget to login twice and still get all the goodies..  And what goodies will we get?  The dev blog says:

There’s all manner of gifts and rewards up for grabs including celebratory trinkets, faction ammunition, exclusive XVI anniversary SKINs, apparel and even a monocle, as well as Servant Sisters of EVE hulls, celebratory Permaband SKINs and clothing, along with fireworks and abyssal filaments.

That is quite a range.  I’ll go anywhere for SKINs, and SOE ship hulls are fan favorites.  I’d like another Astero or three.  I guess Permaband is featured as a ceremonial farewell and/or clearing out of virtual stock, since Permaband if effectively dead with the departure of CCP Guard.  I mean, who else is going to front for them?  CCP Falcon?

That is all cool, but I image that the real draw will be skill points.  The Dev Blog declares that this will be the largest skill point grant they have ever given away, with over a million skill points available if you log in all 16 days.

That is a lot of skill points.  Given that I used to rack up ten million skill points about every seven months, picking up a million in just 16 days is an accelerated pace.  That is about 2,600 skill points an hour.  You can optimize your attributes and plug in +5 implants to train faster than that (my skill point farming clone, back when I did that, rolled along at 2,700 sp/hr), but you have to keep to specific skill.  These skill points can be applied to any skill, plus you still have your normal, ongoing skill point accretion.

Of course, the usual caveat applies: To get all the goodies you must have an Omega level account.  Free to play Alpha accounts get some prizes, but to get the full haul you must be paying in cash or PLEX for an Omega account.

Naturally, on the events page there is a convenient link to the page that lets you upgrade to Omega.

So there it is.  If you want all your goodies make sure your launcher is up to date and ready to go so you can start logging in tomorrow.

Runes of Magic Turns Ten Today

It doesn’t seem like that long ago when I first started cursing the patcher for Runes of Magic, and now here we are at its tenth birthday.

Runes a Decade On

As the genre continues to age I guess we will continue to have these sorts of anniversary milestones for those games that continue to hang on.  All the more so, I suppose, with a company like Gamigo vacuuming up strays and keeping them online to milk revenue out of them while putting in as little effort as possible to keep them viable.

I don’t think I will be covering them all.

But Runes of Magic is a bit special, both because I actually played it for a while and because it was kind of a big deal back when it launched.

Back in 2009 there was still something of a divide between MMORPGs of the western, subscription sort and the free to play Asian imports.  Runes of Magic was going to bridge that gap, being more western in design… “western” really meant “like World of Warcraft” by then… and the Asian cash shop business model.  This was during a time when “free to play” was usually a post-launch salvage plan rather than a day one feature.

And even when Runes of Magic launched, that mostly applied to what one might call lesser tier games, like Asian imports and struggling titles such as Anarchy Online.  The rush to free to play wouldn’t begin in earnest until Turbine brought Dungeons & Dragons Online to that model, a plan only announced in June of that year, to becoming the poster child for the new found riches to be found there.

So, while there were some half-hearted cash shops popping up, Runes of Magic broke some new ground and/or became controversial by straight up selling things that just were not sold in reputable MMORPGs, like a horse.  You want a permanent horse, that will be $10 please.  That got bloggers typing away furiously. (You’re going to have to use the Wayback Machine if you follow the links on either of those posts.  So much link rot.)

More egregious, to me at least, was the whole bank space rental program.  You need more space to store your stuff?  Then you need to rent… not buy… more slots at the bank.  You could do that with the in-game currency, but you could always use the RMT currency as well.

People were also peeved that the game felt too WoW-like, as though people were not actively throwing tantrums about any deviation from the WoW model around then.  You needed to follow all of the Blizzard conventions and yet not be like WoW I guess.

Anyway, the game launched and has carried on ever since.  It got a reasonable following, though that is hard to judge from the outside.  And in a world where WoW is the benchmark, most MMORPG populations seem microscopic.

The game itself, after consolidating down to two servers, one for North America and one for Europe, made its way to Steam towards the end of last summer, where it has received mixed reviews.

Half were good I guess

Also, the release date listed there is wrong according to all the sources I’ve seen, including my own blog post marking the launch day.  It should be March 19, 2009.

A decade in, the game is what it is.  It looks and feels a bit out of date.  If you feel it copied WoW, then the version of WoW it copied was from 2007 or so.  But the negative reviews mostly take it to task for its business model and how things changed when the original publisher, Frogster, sold out to Gameforge.  Gameforge seems to work on more of the Gamigo model, keeping multiple games (they run TERA, Wizard 101 and a batch more) up and going while not being particularly focused on any given one.

The free to play business model always has that problem.  There is always the temptation to make buying from the cash shop a bit coercive or to reward buyers with power in order to boost sales.

As for the move from Frogster to Gameforge, that seemed to herald the end up serious content updates to the game.  Instead Runes of Magic settled into the semi-stasis of holiday events, cash shop specials, and other minor changes.

Still, the overall situation, being free to play in a stable of games like that, is probably the best hope for long term survival when it comes to lesser titles.  And they haven’t completely ignored Runes of Magic.  The shop gets new items and they have a series of anniversary events running now, including a free cosmetic gift set.

Assuming this is your look

I am not sure I’ll be able to find the time to go and visit the game, even with that outfit as an inducement.  As I will no doubt repeat at least a few more times, this month has been pulling me in too many directions already with nostalgia related events.  In that mix, Runes of Magic hitting ten years is somewhat down the list.

But I was back to visit in 2017, around the eighth anniversary, and somehow I doubt much has changed.  So if you want my impressions of the game from then, you can find them in the series of posts listed below.

Other than that, congrats to a game that has lasted a decade.