Tag Archives: RuneScape

Adrift: My 2017 MMO Outlook

As I noted in my ten year anniversary post, my own outlook as an MMORPG gamer has changed over the last decade.  I came to blogging in a time when the genre was growing and ambitions seemed unlimited.  We would get a continuous stream of newer and shinier things as MMOs expanded into new territory and conquered the world.

Now I feel like Estragon, nodding off as we wait for the promised future that never arrives.  To my mind somebody could do an easy parody of the song Little Boxes to describe the state of the genre.

There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all poor copies of WoW
And they all look just the same.

Stoking the embers of enthusiasm is difficult.  It isn’t so much “no new worlds to conquer” as “no new worlds worth giving a damn about” these days.  Differentiation seems like variations of the same over used tropes and standards.

Also, not done with the "Little Boxes" theme... picture by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Also, not done with the “Little Boxes” theme… picture by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

And yet I persist, sitting here at the end of the year, looking into the mists of 2017 and wondering if he will come.  Is there something out there that might spark the imagination and rekindle the enthusiasm for virtual worlds I felt back in 2006?  Or will I be sitting here a year from now writing about how, once again, I mostly played EVE Online and Minecraft while alternating between World of Warcraft and EverQuest II for my fantasy fix?

What is even an option for 2017?

Well, EverQuest Next is out, having been cancelled earlier this year after the traditional SOE “months of silence” indicator that it just wasn’t going to happen.  But I wasn’t even optimistic enough to put that on the list last year.

Blizzard isn’t going to do any more MMOs… not that I am sure we would want them to… but that is out.  And then there is the perennial list of “maybe this year…” titles like Star Citizen that probably won’t be anything more than tech demos and pre-release “don’t you dare criticize me!” tiny tastes of past promises.

Still, there are MMOs that may come out in 2017.  Time to fake some enthusiasm.  Plus there was a nice list over at Massively OP from which I plan to crib.   There are even some titles in which I am invested, allowing for a variety of definitions for the word “invested.”  So here are a DOZEN titles that I am going to throw out there as possibilities for me in 2017.  That is more options than any previous list ever!  Go me.

1 – Project: Gorgon

  • Gut Reaction: Why doesn’t this have a Wikipedia page yet?
  • Rationalization: I’ve paid for it, my peeks in have shown it developing nicely, it could be a thing!
  • Chance: 100% if it hits Steam or otherwise goes live.

2 – Albion Online

  • Gut Reaction: You woke me for this?
  • Rationalization:  Feels like the 2017 version of either ArcheAge or Black Desert Online
  • Chance: There would have to be some very special feature I overlooked.

3 – MapleStory 2

  • Gut Reaction: Ummm… Canada? Pancakes?
  • Rationalization:  Not quite sure how side-scroller and 3D fit together.
  • Chance: It isn’t impossible. I went and tried RuneQuest and was impressed, why not this?

4 – Star Citizen

  • Gut Reaction: Confusion as to how this made the list after what I wrote above
  • Rationalization:  I’m in for $30, but I have no interest in testing something that probably isn’t ready to be called “Alpha” in my book.
  • Chance: I mean, if it “shipped” for any rational definition of the word, I’d be in… but that ain’t happening in 2017.  I just want you to know that I am up for it if it somehow did.

5 – Camelot Unchained

  • Gut Reaction: slipping enthusiasm
  • Rationalization:  I probably like this game more in theory than I will in reality.
  • Chance: I am in from the Kickstarter, so I will play at some point, but nothing has really sparked my enthusiasm. Also, seems likely to miss 2017.

6 – SkySaga: Infinite Isles

  • Gut Reaction: *glassy stare*
  • Rationalization:  My Minecraft itch is already filled by Minecraft
  • Chance: Not sure that islands floating in the sky is really something I am missing, so very low

7 – Lost Ark

  • Gut Reaction: Raiders of the?
  • Rationalization:  A clicky action MMORPG might be an idea!  And at least it has a placeholder for a Wikipedia page.
  • Chance: Given that Diablo III is going to try to eke out another year at least with seasons, nostalgia, and a new class, it might be worth a try.  30% chance if it goes live, higher if it is on Steam and goes on sale.

8 – Sea of Thieves

  • Gut Reaction: Pirates!
  • Rationalization:  The urge to play with tall ships and cutlasses balanced with memories of Pirates of the Burning Sea… which were not all bad, but I also never went back and played it again either.
  • Chance: Dampened by the cross platform aspect, as the Windows version will likely have the horrible console interface. If I could find a compelling feature though, it might have a shot.  Oh, and it would have to ship.

9 – RuneScape

  • Gut Reaction: Didn’t I make an account for that at Thanksgiving?
  • Rationalization:  I did play a couple hours of it already and it did have a flavor and charm of its own.  The old grand dad of F2P titles, it has a huge following for some reason.
  • Chance:  It also had a somewhat odd control scheme, and the fact that I am only now recalling that I played it probably doesn’t bode well.  But it has at least fucking shipped already!  That raises the odds dramatically!

10 – Shroud of the Avatar: Unnecessary Secondary Title

  • Gut Reaction: Hey, didn’t I pay for this already?
  • Rationalization:  I am in with the Kickstarter, I have it up in Steam where it updates weekly, and I tried it a couple of times in 2015 when it was pretty rough.  Also, it was on last year’s list.
  • Chance: I’m in if they hit a “done” milestone, which seems semi-likely.  I’m just not sure what the game is about now.  2013 was a while back.

11 – Life is Feudal

  • Gut Reaction: Hrmmm… but that name…
  • Rationalization:  I long ignored it based on the name alone, but it does have some interesting ideas.
  • Chance:  Maybe… long-shot, but if it went live… I keep using different euphemisms for what is essentially “actually end-customer ready” I might be up for it.

12 – Pantheon: Saga of Heroes

  • Gut Reaction: Why Brad, why?
  • Rationalization:  Part of me wants to believe that 1999 can be recreated.  Maybe he can get Smed over to help now that he is at loose ends and really get the 1999 party rockin!
  • Chance: You know, if something ships… I’ll probably buy-in and play.  But despite the long demo videos, I am not convinced yet that something will ever ship… and 2017 seems like an extreme long-shot if it does.

So there are dozen MMO-esque games that I am going to lay out there and semi-sort-of commit to looking into if it doesn’t take too much time away from Minecraft, EVE Online, and EQII / WoW.

Which on that list do you think I should prioritize should the opportunity arise? (i.e. should it actually ship if it isn’t there already?)  Here is a Poll (which you may not see if you have an AdBlocker running):

Naturally I left the “other” option open, you can use that or add other options in the comments if my list is missing a key title for 2017.

And, of course, if you want to see how this sort of post has played out in the past, you can check out attempts from past years:

  • 2016 – I played none from the list, but most didn’t ship
  • 2015 – literally nothing I listed went live
  • 2014 – I played Warlords of Draenor, which was a gimme really
  • 2012 – Actually tried most of the items on the list
  • 2011 – Tried 3 out of 5 eventually, but then The Agency was on the list
  • 2007 LOTRO (shipped!)
  • 2007 Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising (Didn’t ship)

RuneScape Embraces Nostalgia

RuneScape, a popular (200 million accounts created is their claim to fame metric) browser-based fantasy MMORPG, has decided to farm the nostalgia sector by opening up servers aimed at those who want to relive RuneScape’s past.

Officially called “Old School RuneScape,” the setting will be August 2007 version of RuneScape.

RuneScape

Jagex, the game’s developer, has taken an interesting approach to bringing these servers to the community.  They have a poll up to gauge how much interest there is in the servers, with more interest by the player base yielding more focus by the studio itself.

The poll approaches 250K

The poll approaches 250K

Omali has some condensed details over at MMO Fallout about what happens at given result levels. (There is an update to go along with the final results.)  There is also an official FAQ up about the servers.

Interesting to me is that by default… with the likely poll results… is that people interested in playing the classic version of this free-to-play game will have to pay for a subscription.  That seems right to me.  I don’t think people looking to relive a “classic” experience do so because it might be cheaper.

Certainly I did not run off an play on the Emerald Dream server in order to dodge the WoW subscription price, and I doubt Keen or SynCaine were so influenced with the Ultima Online Forever.

And that is how SOE has handled things with the Fippy Darkpaw server in the post free to play EverQuest world, making it available only to subscribers.

So RuneScape joins the rather short list of MMOs offering official “old school” versions of their game.  I only know of two others.  There is SOE with its EverQuest progression servers and Mythic with its past classic Dark Age of Camelot server (and its never to see the light of day Origin server).

And while there will always be arguments about what point in time is the “best” and whether such a server should be stuck in time or move forward, I think this sort of exercise is a good way to reach out and revive interest in your game with a big chunk of your current and former player base.

Of course, this sort of things probably works with some games better than others.  World of Warcraft is an obvious target.  Few expansions and slow improvement over time gives it a series of identifiable eras.  EVE Online, on the other hand… their whole single server approach pretty much precludes such a nostalgia path… plus who wants to go back to the days before “jump to zero?”

What MMOs would you like to see embrace nostalgia?  Or does that even have any appeal for you?

Wednesday Morning Trends

Ubisoft Finds a New Rationalization for Free to Play

From The Register, Ubisoft says more than 90% of PC gamers pirate their game, so they might as well go down the free to play path.

Money quote from CEO Yves Guillemot:

“It’s around a 93 to 95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage as free-to-play”

I still find it hard to believe that 90% of gamers pirate their games, and people who spout such numbers rarely go into detail on how they arrived at them, so color me skeptical.

Riders of Rohan Delay

Casual Stroll to Mordor reports that the launch of the Lord of the Rings Online expansion Riders of Rohan will be moved back from September 5th to October 15th.  I expect conspiracy theorists everywhere to proclaim that this delay was to get out from under the weight of the Guild Wars 2 launch the way they declared the Mist of Panderia launch date to be a defensive move against the game.

Chalk another one up to the might of Guild Wars 2?

Your Virtual Currency Has Expired!

Massively Multiplayer Fallout brings up a topic from the RuneScape forums.  Apparently somebody discovered a statement in Jagex’s terms of service that indicates that RuneCoins, the RuneScape virtual currency, can expire.

Jagex responded, indicating that the terms were correct, but that they had never, to this point, had to expire any RuneCoins.  The actual shelf life of RuneCoins was left unstated.

Of course, this makes me wonder when companies like SOE, which seemed to be picking up bad habits from its free to play neighbors, or UbiSoft, which just seems to hate its customers pirates people in general, will jump on this potentially lucrative idea.

And then there is how local law applies.  In my own jurisdiction, companies cannot expire things like gift cards.  Where does virtual currency fit in that equation?

Bonus Trend: Windows 8

After watching this, I foresee another Windows Vista level PR fiasco looming.

If Microsoft needs to learn something from Apple, it is how to produce software that doesn’t make people angry.

Apple drops OS updates more often that Microsoft, charges for them, and people tend to be interested to indifferent.  Microsoft drops a huge OS update every few years and manages to make people run around screaming like their hair is on fire more often than not.

And don’t get me started on how much I loathe every corporate mandated Microsoft Office upgrade.  In my mind, MS Word was perfected with version 5.1a about 20 years ago.  Everything since has been… uh… Windows dressing?

[Credit to Derek Smart for finding that video, but his Twitter account is locked down so I can’t even link to the tweet.]

The Drop in WoW Subscribers Means Changes All Over…

Rather than the usual round of WoW phishing attempts, I have seen a batch of these lately…

Greetings!

It has come to our attention that you are trying to sell your personal RuneScape account(s).
As you may not be aware of, this conflicts with the EULA and Terms of Agreement.
If this proves to be true, your account can and will be disabled…

All with the same message, the same badly disguised bogus URL, and all delivered to the same email address that gets all my WoW phishing attempts.  (Which, of course, is NOT the email address I use for WoW or Battle.net.)

No doubt handiwork of the same trolls.

Of course, I’ve never played RuneScape, so this is even less worrying that WoW phishing.  Oh no, an account I never had in the first place is in danger of being banned!

RuneQuest, Yes, RuneScape, No

Meanwhile, in the same batch of email, I received a note from Perfect World Entertainment, makers of… nothing I can recall ever playing.  I guess they are publishing Torchlight now, which I have played.  But I did not buy it from them.  Still, at some point I created an account there, I just cannot remember why.  It certainly wasn’t for Rusty Hearts and a discount gamepad.

That email said:

You are receiving this email because your account may have been accessed without your authorization. We have changed your account’s password and are requiring you to change your password before you can log back into our games. Please go here to reset your password:

And there was a URL below on which you were invited to click.  Only this one looked legitimate.  I still didn’t click on it, going rather directly to the Perfect World site and resetting my password via the interface they provide there.

I wonder if Perfect World has some sort of incident or if this was just another, slightly more clever phishing attempt.

How about for you?  Any rise in non-WoW related phishing attempts at your end?

Were you getting that many WoW related ones in the first place?  At one point I was getting one or two a day.

The Fortitude of Older Games

Last Friday Massively had a post up about the Nielsen ratings for PC video games for January through October of 2008.  The post itself pointed to a Kotaku article that listed out the top ten games for that period with statistical rankings.

They were (sans details):

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Call of Duty 4
  3. Halo: Combat Evolved
  4. The Sims
  5. The Sims 2
  6. RuneScape
  7. Diablo II
  8. Team Fortress 2
  9. Counter-Strike
  10. Counter-Strike Source

The point of the articles seemed to be to remind us that we play a lot of World of Warcraft.  Massively did note that there was a massive title on the list besides WoW, namely RuneScape, but otherwise the list seemed to reinforce what we all suspected.  As one commentor put it:

How every you not need to read this crap to known that World of Warcraft was the most played game of 2008! base on the sale numbers alone!

You tell ’em!

But for me, the amazing/amusing part of the list was Diablo II.

Eight years after release, and seven years after the last expansion,  it makes it to the list.

Yes, Diablo II got a nostalgia boost this year when Blizzard finally got around to announcing Diablo III, but that alone does not account for the popularity of the title.  After all, if you go look at the X-Fire statistics every month, you will see Diablo II listed under “Top 10 Other.”

But then, a good chunk of this list is older games.  The Sims, Counter-Strike, and Halo are all PC titles over five years old.  Even The Sims 2 is four years old, making it as old as… well… World of Warcraft or the current version of RuneScape.

When it comes down to it, only Call of Duty 4 and Team Fortress 2 are really “new” games, and even they are based off older titles.

What does it mean?

Do new games just suck?  Is Nielsen fundamentally flawed?  Is PC gaming not dead, but just not done with the stuff it already has?