December 31, 2007

2008, The First Few Minutes

Guess what, our dog hates fireworks. Happy New Year from the East Coast.

2008, The First Few Minutes

Guess what, our dog hates fireworks. Happy New Year from the East Coast.

Tag: 2008 Predictions for 2008

I am going to try something here, in the manor of chain-blogging. I'm not sure if that is what it is called, but here's the idea: I will make some predictions for 2008 and then pass it on to another person. That person will then make up the next set of predictions before passing it on. The goal? 2008 predictions by the end of all the tagging.

The rules are simple: no limit on the number of predictions per person, tagged bloggers can elect to pass, and links to the before and after predictions in relation to the current blogger. I will try my best to tally the score and see how many we get.

Scorecard:

Me - 10
Grimwell - 11

Total = 21

My Predictions:

1. 2008 will be a year of announcements for MMOs. 38 studios, Bioware, Zenimax, Red 5, and many other studios will all announce their MMO projects. Some will come out of left field, while others will just confirm current rumors.

2. 2008 will be a year of launches for delayed games. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Age of Conan, and Pirates of the Burning Sea will all finally launch. WAR will be the only big success in the group.

3. 2008 will NOT be a year for micro-transaction or RMT based games. RMT and micro-transactions will take another hit as WAR launches and proves the monthly subscription model is still king of the hill for revenue. RMT and micro-transactions will turn a profit, but only in accounting terms. The model will barely break-even in economic terms.

4. 2008 will be a year of web-games. Already popular web-games will continue to grow. New web-games will launch. None of them will challenge the revenue generation of monthly subscription or box sale titles. All will be susceptible to any sort of web 2.0 wrinkles.

5. 2008 will not be a good year for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). SOE is closing out 2007 in grand fashion: developer scandals, buyout rumors, and reportedly falling subscriptions. Two of which, the buyout and falling subscriptions, have been denied repeatedly. Tack this onto SOE's shift in revenue models and 2008 doesn't look pretty. Grimwell, I await your response :)

6. 2008 will be a Dark year. Dark Age of Camelot will feel increasing pressure this year as WAR launches and replaces the Realm vs. Realm gameplay model with a newer and fresher version.

7. 2008 will be a Cold year. Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft's second expansion, will launch late in the year. It will be successful, but will fall short of the success of The Burning Crusade. China will not see the expansion until 2009.

8. 2008 will be a year of MMO podcasting. MMO podcasting has picked up over the last couple of years, but 2008 will bring it into the limelight as more commercially driven entities enter the market. Unfortunately, popularity will remain in the hands of the "weekend warriors", not the commercially driven podcasts.

9. 2008 will be a year of lawyering. From the RIAA chasing grandmas with MP3s to IGE's potential criminal investigation, 2008 will be an unprecedented year for lawyers entering the online-circus. Expect to see some major court cases develop over the year, but don't expect them to finish before the year is out.

10. 2008 will not be a good year for Gax-Online. This is a personal pick. The dog and pony show holding up Gax-Online will finally realize they have become what they've always chastised, sending them into a cataclysmic tailspin. Or, they'll sell out the second someone offers them half a donut and a cup'o'joe.

Tag: Grimwell, Ethic at Kill Ten Rats, and Tobold. Oh, and Mr. Freeman.

Tag: 2008 Predictions for 2008

I am going to try something here, in the manor of chain-blogging. I'm not sure if that is what it is called, but here's the idea: I will make some predictions for 2008 and then pass it on to another person. That person will then make up the next set of predictions before passing it on. The goal? 2008 predictions by the end of all the tagging.

The rules are simple: no limit on the number of predictions per person, tagged bloggers can elect to pass, and links to the before and after predictions in relation to the current blogger. I will try my best to tally the score and see how many we get.

Scorecard:

Me - 10
Grimwell - 11

Total = 21

My Predictions:

1. 2008 will be a year of announcements for MMOs. 38 studios, Bioware, Zenimax, Red 5, and many other studios will all announce their MMO projects. Some will come out of left field, while others will just confirm current rumors.

2. 2008 will be a year of launches for delayed games. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Age of Conan, and Pirates of the Burning Sea will all finally launch. WAR will be the only big success in the group.

3. 2008 will NOT be a year for micro-transaction or RMT based games. RMT and micro-transactions will take another hit as WAR launches and proves the monthly subscription model is still king of the hill for revenue. RMT and micro-transactions will turn a profit, but only in accounting terms. The model will barely break-even in economic terms.

4. 2008 will be a year of web-games. Already popular web-games will continue to grow. New web-games will launch. None of them will challenge the revenue generation of monthly subscription or box sale titles. All will be susceptible to any sort of web 2.0 wrinkles.

5. 2008 will not be a good year for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). SOE is closing out 2007 in grand fashion: developer scandals, buyout rumors, and reportedly falling subscriptions. Two of which, the buyout and falling subscriptions, have been denied repeatedly. Tack this onto SOE's shift in revenue models and 2008 doesn't look pretty. Grimwell, I await your response :)

6. 2008 will be a Dark year. Dark Age of Camelot will feel increasing pressure this year as WAR launches and replaces the Realm vs. Realm gameplay model with a newer and fresher version.

7. 2008 will be a Cold year. Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft's second expansion, will launch late in the year. It will be successful, but will fall short of the success of The Burning Crusade. China will not see the expansion until 2009.

8. 2008 will be a year of MMO podcasting. MMO podcasting has picked up over the last couple of years, but 2008 will bring it into the limelight as more commercially driven entities enter the market. Unfortunately, popularity will remain in the hands of the "weekend warriors", not the commercially driven podcasts.

9. 2008 will be a year of lawyering. From the RIAA chasing grandmas with MP3s to IGE's potential criminal investigation, 2008 will be an unprecedented year for lawyers entering the online-circus. Expect to see some major court cases develop over the year, but don't expect them to finish before the year is out.

10. 2008 will not be a good year for Gax-Online. This is a personal pick. The dog and pony show holding up Gax-Online will finally realize they have become what they've always chastised, sending them into a cataclysmic tailspin. Or, they'll sell out the second someone offers them half a donut and a cup'o'joe.

Tag: Grimwell, Ethic at Kill Ten Rats, and Tobold. Oh, and Mr. Freeman.

December 30, 2007

Some Team Fortress 2 Ownage

I've had some good luck playing Team Fortress 2 since I was kicked off one of my favorite servers the other night. On my new servers of choice I am quickly becoming known as "that guy", because I play very upfront on a server that likes to play "lets set up a camp and farm these newbs". As these screenshots show, my play style usually prevails.

TF2

TF2

A couple notes:

1. I prefer to play on 32 player servers for the map ctf_2fort. It provides more action and prevents a lot of the quick wins from occurring. On the other maps, I prefer to stick to 24 player servers. ctf_2fort is the only map that I feel comfortably holds 32 players.

2. Instant-spawn sure beats waiting twenty seconds between deaths, but it sort of defeats the purpose of capture-the-point maps.

3. I try to mix up the classes I play. I usually run as a medic for a few minutes to start a match and get a feel for where people are playing. I then focus on playing an engineer offensively, which can really piss people off, while mixing in a few rounds as the other classes.

Some Team Fortress 2 Ownage

I've had some good luck playing Team Fortress 2 since I was kicked off one of my favorite servers the other night. On my new servers of choice I am quickly becoming known as "that guy", because I play very upfront on a server that likes to play "lets set up a camp and farm these newbs". As these screenshots show, my play style usually prevails.

TF2

TF2

A couple notes:

1. I prefer to play on 32 player servers for the map ctf_2fort. It provides more action and prevents a lot of the quick wins from occurring. On the other maps, I prefer to stick to 24 player servers. ctf_2fort is the only map that I feel comfortably holds 32 players.

2. Instant-spawn sure beats waiting twenty seconds between deaths, but it sort of defeats the purpose of capture-the-point maps.

3. I try to mix up the classes I play. I usually run as a medic for a few minutes to start a match and get a feel for where people are playing. I then focus on playing an engineer offensively, which can really piss people off, while mixing in a few rounds as the other classes.

December 27, 2007

Kicked?

It amazes me what can get a player kicked off a gaming server in Team Fortress 2. However, the situation that ended my Team Fortress 2 night early, will never amaze me.

I play on a server run by a "gaming community" fairly regularly and the rules are simple: no cussing or abusive language, no bashing "community" members, and no firing through the starting gates. I have no problem with these and never will, but I decided to break one of them anyways. I called this "gaming community" out for the bunch of unskilled noobs that they are.

Honestly, I was having the worst round of my Team Fortress 2 career, but that was a byproduct of what was really happening on the server. The situation was simple. The "gaming community" had all of their regular members join the same side, team up, and destroy the opponent.

Not so bad right? It is their server, their time, and they have a right to play together. I can go play elsewhere. Yes, I agree.

But, when I called them out for stacking the teams and that it is sad that their "gaming community" would stack teams against random public players, I was kicked. No cuss words, no dirty language, just a straight out call to balance the teams.

To me, a split would have been obvious and may actually show someone that my "gaming community" can do more than just steamroll a random group of players. 10 out of 12 (12 on each team) players were community members on one team. That is easily enough to win every round within seconds without even trying. It is a simple "run to point A, then to point B" (on a capture the point map). However, it is also enough to divide equally amongst the two teams and provide a fair game.

But, fuck everything I just said. I am just whining. Bitching up my latest storm. Fuck me for thinking that sportsmanship has a place in a competitive game.

Kicked?

It amazes me what can get a player kicked off a gaming server in Team Fortress 2. However, the situation that ended my Team Fortress 2 night early, will never amaze me.

I play on a server run by a "gaming community" fairly regularly and the rules are simple: no cussing or abusive language, no bashing "community" members, and no firing through the starting gates. I have no problem with these and never will, but I decided to break one of them anyways. I called this "gaming community" out for the bunch of unskilled noobs that they are.

Honestly, I was having the worst round of my Team Fortress 2 career, but that was a byproduct of what was really happening on the server. The situation was simple. The "gaming community" had all of their regular members join the same side, team up, and destroy the opponent.

Not so bad right? It is their server, their time, and they have a right to play together. I can go play elsewhere. Yes, I agree.

But, when I called them out for stacking the teams and that it is sad that their "gaming community" would stack teams against random public players, I was kicked. No cuss words, no dirty language, just a straight out call to balance the teams.

To me, a split would have been obvious and may actually show someone that my "gaming community" can do more than just steamroll a random group of players. 10 out of 12 (12 on each team) players were community members on one team. That is easily enough to win every round within seconds without even trying. It is a simple "run to point A, then to point B" (on a capture the point map). However, it is also enough to divide equally amongst the two teams and provide a fair game.

But, fuck everything I just said. I am just whining. Bitching up my latest storm. Fuck me for thinking that sportsmanship has a place in a competitive game.

December 23, 2007

Why Is It So Hard To Believe?

Is it really that hard to believe that SOE could possibly have been sold to an Indian gaming company? I am going to present some ideas that should make people think twice about SOE's denial.

Prior mergers and moves:


1. EA scooped up Bioware out of nowhere.

2. Blizzard and Activision merged out of the blue.

3. Mythic denied any buyouts. A month later they became EA Mythic.

4. SOE and Sigil repeatedly denied Vanguard being bought out, before SOE promptly bought the rights to Vanguard.

Items of note in the current SOE buyout rumors:

1. Smedley first denied the buyout by posting on a 3rd-party site, EQ2flames. No, he did not choose his own blog, the official EQ2 website, or filter the information through his community managers. Nope, he posted a denial on the most prolific Everquest 2 rumor-mongering website on the net.

2. The parent company of SOE, Sony Pictures, has been all but quiet on the matter so far. A denial from them would put this to rest quickly. Is it so hard to believe that Sony Pictures may have tried to keep this under wraps until after the holidays?

3. The "rumor" post was spread across several reliable, multi-national news agencies. Also, it spread quickly through several financial-related outlets.

4. SOE hired a former IGE bigwig to head up international relations. He just so happened to have recently visited India. Of course, this lends credibility to the idea that SOE may be working on a deal in India, not necessarily being sold.

5. The reported sales price of $300 million is questionable if the reported revenue of SOE is $150 million yearly. However, this wouldn't be the first case of an online-based company being bought for significantly more or less than their current revenue value.

6. Lastly, if the recent report on MMORPG subscriptions holds any weight, most of SOE's online games have been bleeding subscriptions.


Yes, I like to stir the pot.

Why Is It So Hard To Believe?

Is it really that hard to believe that SOE could possibly have been sold to an Indian gaming company? I am going to present some ideas that should make people think twice about SOE's denial.

Prior mergers and moves:


1. EA scooped up Bioware out of nowhere.

2. Blizzard and Activision merged out of the blue.

3. Mythic denied any buyouts. A month later they became EA Mythic.

4. SOE and Sigil repeatedly denied Vanguard being bought out, before SOE promptly bought the rights to Vanguard.

Items of note in the current SOE buyout rumors:

1. Smedley first denied the buyout by posting on a 3rd-party site, EQ2flames. No, he did not choose his own blog, the official EQ2 website, or filter the information through his community managers. Nope, he posted a denial on the most prolific Everquest 2 rumor-mongering website on the net.

2. The parent company of SOE, Sony Pictures, has been all but quiet on the matter so far. A denial from them would put this to rest quickly. Is it so hard to believe that Sony Pictures may have tried to keep this under wraps until after the holidays?

3. The "rumor" post was spread across several reliable, multi-national news agencies. Also, it spread quickly through several financial-related outlets.

4. SOE hired a former IGE bigwig to head up international relations. He just so happened to have recently visited India. Of course, this lends credibility to the idea that SOE may be working on a deal in India, not necessarily being sold.

5. The reported sales price of $300 million is questionable if the reported revenue of SOE is $150 million yearly. However, this wouldn't be the first case of an online-based company being bought for significantly more or less than their current revenue value.

6. Lastly, if the recent report on MMORPG subscriptions holds any weight, most of SOE's online games have been bleeding subscriptions.


Yes, I like to stir the pot.

December 22, 2007

Breaking: SOE bought out?

Having done a fair share of research for my Economics courses, via The Economic Times website, I was quite surprised to see news about Sony Online Entertainment pop up (via Virgin Worlds).

Apparantly, Zapak Digital entertainment, an India-based online gaming company, is set to buy out Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) for around $300 million.
This acquisition is in line with the future plans of Zapak Digital, which is planning to enter the gaming space in China by early next year. “This makes perfect sense for us, as around 80% of content in the gaming industry is manufactured internationally. Buying out Sony, will not only give us access but also expand our reach in the global market,” said a senior Zapak Official.
Now, lets all put on our tinfoil hats for this next quote.
The major expenses in the gaming industry is on content and marketing, and Zapak aims to reduce the cost of publishing a game by buying out those studios and relocating them to India
If that reads correctly, SOE may be moved to India? Now wouldn't that be a Christmas gift for all involved!

UPDATE: John Smedley, as always, denies everything.
This story is completely false. We aren't for sale

No idea who made this up. We are in discussions with various companies in India about bringing our games to this growing market but that's it. We aren't for sale.

Smed

Breaking: SOE bought out?

Having done a fair share of research for my Economics courses, via The Economic Times website, I was quite surprised to see news about Sony Online Entertainment pop up (via Virgin Worlds).

Apparantly, Zapak Digital entertainment, an India-based online gaming company, is set to buy out Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) for around $300 million.
This acquisition is in line with the future plans of Zapak Digital, which is planning to enter the gaming space in China by early next year. “This makes perfect sense for us, as around 80% of content in the gaming industry is manufactured internationally. Buying out Sony, will not only give us access but also expand our reach in the global market,” said a senior Zapak Official.
Now, lets all put on our tinfoil hats for this next quote.
The major expenses in the gaming industry is on content and marketing, and Zapak aims to reduce the cost of publishing a game by buying out those studios and relocating them to India
If that reads correctly, SOE may be moved to India? Now wouldn't that be a Christmas gift for all involved!

UPDATE: John Smedley, as always, denies everything.
This story is completely false. We aren't for sale

No idea who made this up. We are in discussions with various companies in India about bringing our games to this growing market but that's it. We aren't for sale.

Smed

December 21, 2007

That Perfect Gift

Getting that perfect gift for a significant other is hard. Really hard. However, when that gift is found, and a little effort is put into kicking it up a notch, the feeling is awesome.

No, I won't share who this gift is for or what it is (they can wait until Christmas), but rest assured I feel like I just scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl.

That Perfect Gift

Getting that perfect gift for a significant other is hard. Really hard. However, when that gift is found, and a little effort is put into kicking it up a notch, the feeling is awesome.

No, I won't share who this gift is for or what it is (they can wait until Christmas), but rest assured I feel like I just scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl.

December 20, 2007

Going Gordon Freeman

Dear Criminals,

Going Gordon Freeman

Dear Criminals,

My Top 10 MMOs

Via F13. (read the rules if you are going to post your own top 10). Now onto my list, with some explanations following each choice.

1. World of Warcraft - Millions, yes millions, of subscribers. Penetration into non-gaming media on a large scale. To me, there is no argument against WoW being #1.
2. Ultima Online - Developed before there was a real market, didn't copy anyone, and remains a unique experience. Oh, and player housing!
3. Star Wars Galaxies - Included for POTENTIAL. This was billed as the first game with the POTENTIAL to attract a million players. Sadly, it proved there are no sure things in this market.
4. Guild Wars - First mainstream title to go completely against the grain of the subscription model. Proved that it can be done, but more importantly, it can be sustained in the long run.
5. Dark Age of Camelot - Showed that timing and smooth launches are equitable to success in the market. Plus, DAoC proved that the little guy can get it done with a smart plan.
6. WWII Online - MMOFPS? Yes.
7. EVE Online - Another POTENTIAL inclusion. The game itself isn't spectacular, but the design behind it is begging to be turned into something great.
8. Lord of the Rings Online - I compare LotRO directly to Star Wars Galaxies. There are no sure things, even when the developers play it extremely safe. Lower than expected, only because THERE IS NO FUCKING MAGIC IN LORD OF THE RINGS TURBINE!
9. Everquest - Only mentioned for being brave enough to bring 3D graphics into the genre.
10. MUD 1 - The literal "birth of online gaming" can not go unmentioned.

My Top 10 MMOs

Via F13. (read the rules if you are going to post your own top 10). Now onto my list, with some explanations following each choice.

1. World of Warcraft - Millions, yes millions, of subscribers. Penetration into non-gaming media on a large scale. To me, there is no argument against WoW being #1.
2. Ultima Online - Developed before there was a real market, didn't copy anyone, and remains a unique experience. Oh, and player housing!
3. Star Wars Galaxies - Included for POTENTIAL. This was billed as the first game with the POTENTIAL to attract a million players. Sadly, it proved there are no sure things in this market.
4. Guild Wars - First mainstream title to go completely against the grain of the subscription model. Proved that it can be done, but more importantly, it can be sustained in the long run.
5. Dark Age of Camelot - Showed that timing and smooth launches are equitable to success in the market. Plus, DAoC proved that the little guy can get it done with a smart plan.
6. WWII Online - MMOFPS? Yes.
7. EVE Online - Another POTENTIAL inclusion. The game itself isn't spectacular, but the design behind it is begging to be turned into something great.
8. Lord of the Rings Online - I compare LotRO directly to Star Wars Galaxies. There are no sure things, even when the developers play it extremely safe. Lower than expected, only because THERE IS NO FUCKING MAGIC IN LORD OF THE RINGS TURBINE!
9. Everquest - Only mentioned for being brave enough to bring 3D graphics into the genre.
10. MUD 1 - The literal "birth of online gaming" can not go unmentioned.

December 18, 2007

Not Forever Away

The development team behind Duke Nukem Forever, the poster child for vapourware, will supposedly be releasing a teaser trailer tomorrow.
Developer 3D Realms has publically stated on their official forums that a teaser video for Duke Nukem Forever (in development since 1997) is expected to release tomorrow.

As series co-creator George Broussard put it, "After seeing the teaser we thought it was something we should share with all of you and while it's just a teaser, rest assured more is coming." He went on, "Tomorrow, Wednesday the 19th, around noon CST, we will release the first teaser trailer from Duke Nukem Forever."
And all I have to say to that is: I've got balls of steel.

UPDATE: They were serious.

Not Forever Away

The development team behind Duke Nukem Forever, the poster child for vapourware, will supposedly be releasing a teaser trailer tomorrow.
Developer 3D Realms has publically stated on their official forums that a teaser video for Duke Nukem Forever (in development since 1997) is expected to release tomorrow.

As series co-creator George Broussard put it, "After seeing the teaser we thought it was something we should share with all of you and while it's just a teaser, rest assured more is coming." He went on, "Tomorrow, Wednesday the 19th, around noon CST, we will release the first teaser trailer from Duke Nukem Forever."
And all I have to say to that is: I've got balls of steel.

UPDATE: They were serious.

December 17, 2007

StarTrek.com Shuts Down

I'm a Star Wars fan, but I've enjoyed my fair share of Trek over the years. Unfortunately the glory days of Trek are gone and CBS has deemed the StarTrek.com website unworthy.
Goodbye from the STARTREK.COM Team

Sadly, we must report that CBS Interactive organization is being restructured, and the production team that brings you the STARTREK.COM site has been eliminated. Effective immediately.

We don't know the ultimate fate of this site, which has served millions of Star Trek fans for the last thirteen years.

If you have comments, please send them to editor @ startrek.com - we hope someone at CBS will read them.

Thank you for your loyal fandom over the years. It has been a pleasure to serve you.
Oh well, I never actually visited the site. However, in the day and age of EVERYTHING.COM, I find it weird to be talking about a major Sci-Fi .com shutting it's doors. Honestly, can it be that hard to make StarTrek.com into a profitable venture?

StarTrek.com Shuts Down

I'm a Star Wars fan, but I've enjoyed my fair share of Trek over the years. Unfortunately the glory days of Trek are gone and CBS has deemed the StarTrek.com website unworthy.
Goodbye from the STARTREK.COM Team

Sadly, we must report that CBS Interactive organization is being restructured, and the production team that brings you the STARTREK.COM site has been eliminated. Effective immediately.

We don't know the ultimate fate of this site, which has served millions of Star Trek fans for the last thirteen years.

If you have comments, please send them to editor @ startrek.com - we hope someone at CBS will read them.

Thank you for your loyal fandom over the years. It has been a pleasure to serve you.
Oh well, I never actually visited the site. However, in the day and age of EVERYTHING.COM, I find it weird to be talking about a major Sci-Fi .com shutting it's doors. Honestly, can it be that hard to make StarTrek.com into a profitable venture?

I Could, but I'm Tired

It simply isn't worth the effort. SOE caught red-handed.

Yes, I'm letting this one pass by.

I Could, but I'm Tired

It simply isn't worth the effort. SOE caught red-handed.

Yes, I'm letting this one pass by.

December 16, 2007

Perfect Day

The Green Bay Packers won.
The Dallas Cowboys lost.

Oh, and I received my grades for the Fall semester. Another perfect 4.0. Once again, for the sports fans, that is a 4.0 cumulative GPA over four semesters.

The best part of this 4.0 is my Micro-Economics grade, which was hovering towards a high B, low A at the end of the semester. I needed a near-perfect score on my final exam to come away with an A overall. Fortunately, I owned the test like a fat chick on a twinkie.

Perfect Day

The Green Bay Packers won.
The Dallas Cowboys lost.

Oh, and I received my grades for the Fall semester. Another perfect 4.0. Once again, for the sports fans, that is a 4.0 cumulative GPA over four semesters.

The best part of this 4.0 is my Micro-Economics grade, which was hovering towards a high B, low A at the end of the semester. I needed a near-perfect score on my final exam to come away with an A overall. Fortunately, I owned the test like a fat chick on a twinkie.

December 14, 2007

Another Mythos Update

Mythos has just pushed another great update out the beta door.
FEATURES
* Guilds have been added! Speak to the Guildmaster in Tulin's Hope to start one at a cost of 5 Gold.

* Hardcore Mode has been added, for extra challenge! In Hardcore, when you die - your character is gone forever, so be careful!

* Elite Mode has been added. In Elite mode, monsters are faster, more aggressive, and tougher. Champions appear more often. You can only sell items for half of regular price.

- Note that Elite and Hardcore players cannot party or trade with players who do not match their setup, to preserve the economies of these different play styles.

* Re-specs are now allowed (although not in Hardcore or Elite mode) - speak to a Skillmaster in Stonehill or Tulin's hope. Re-specs are free from level 1 through 5, and above that, cost starts at 1 Gold and increases from there. There is a maximum of 3 re-specs beyond level 5

* Quests are now Trackable - check them in your log to view them onscreen at all times

* Maximum Questlog size increased to 8 quests.

* Hardware Mouse Cursors! This should make mouse response lightning fast. Hooray!

* Achievements system has been added - complete goals to earn equippable achievements that give you extra bonuses! Unlock a new achievement slot every 10 levels

* Emotes - there is an emote button above the chat pane that will show you the options

* Zivia's Puzzle Box!

* Party Finder – post your party and description and meet some new friends! You can also post yourself as looking for group to the list.

* Ignore List is now account-based and actually saves.
There is a bunch of other, smaller improvements as well.

Speaking of hardcore, Grimwell has started a Hardcore Challenge. Now, as mentioned in my comments on his site, I will probably be starting a hardcore adventure in World of Warcraft. However, with this update to Mythos, I am probably going to shift my plan of attack. I would much rather be part of a real hardcore mode than a self-policed hardcore mode. Plus, I want to get some more Mythos time under my belt!

Another Mythos Update

Mythos has just pushed another great update out the beta door.
FEATURES
* Guilds have been added! Speak to the Guildmaster in Tulin's Hope to start one at a cost of 5 Gold.

* Hardcore Mode has been added, for extra challenge! In Hardcore, when you die - your character is gone forever, so be careful!

* Elite Mode has been added. In Elite mode, monsters are faster, more aggressive, and tougher. Champions appear more often. You can only sell items for half of regular price.

- Note that Elite and Hardcore players cannot party or trade with players who do not match their setup, to preserve the economies of these different play styles.

* Re-specs are now allowed (although not in Hardcore or Elite mode) - speak to a Skillmaster in Stonehill or Tulin's hope. Re-specs are free from level 1 through 5, and above that, cost starts at 1 Gold and increases from there. There is a maximum of 3 re-specs beyond level 5

* Quests are now Trackable - check them in your log to view them onscreen at all times

* Maximum Questlog size increased to 8 quests.

* Hardware Mouse Cursors! This should make mouse response lightning fast. Hooray!

* Achievements system has been added - complete goals to earn equippable achievements that give you extra bonuses! Unlock a new achievement slot every 10 levels

* Emotes - there is an emote button above the chat pane that will show you the options

* Zivia's Puzzle Box!

* Party Finder – post your party and description and meet some new friends! You can also post yourself as looking for group to the list.

* Ignore List is now account-based and actually saves.
There is a bunch of other, smaller improvements as well.

Speaking of hardcore, Grimwell has started a Hardcore Challenge. Now, as mentioned in my comments on his site, I will probably be starting a hardcore adventure in World of Warcraft. However, with this update to Mythos, I am probably going to shift my plan of attack. I would much rather be part of a real hardcore mode than a self-policed hardcore mode. Plus, I want to get some more Mythos time under my belt!

December 12, 2007

CCP Tries To Explain Themselves: Fails

Dr. Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson, EVE Online Software Group's director, has a lengthy post trying to explain the Best Bug Ever.
Shortly after releasing EVE Online: Trinity at 22:04 GMT on Wednesday, 5 December, we started receiving reports that the Classic to Premium graphics content upgrade was causing problems to players by deleting the file C:\boot.ini, which is a Windows system startup file. In some cases the computer was not able to recover on the next startup and would not start until the file had been fixed. In this dev blog I want to tell you how this happened.
He goes on to answer a few questions.
Why doesn't Windows protect its system startup files?
That's a good question, one that I have asked myself in these last few days and wish I knew the answer. But of course I'm not going to blame Microsoft for our mistake. Windows doesn't protect those files and therefore software developers must take care not to touch them. We should have been more careful.
I have to take offense to this answer. The question that needed to be asked: why was a file named the same as a critical Windows system file knowing full-well that EVE Online (like most games) will be played and PATCHED on an account with administrative privileges?

This could of been Linux and an fstab file with the same outcome; a PC that doesn't boot correctly. It baffles me that someone this high up in the company would even attempt to answer this question and state "I'm not going to blame Microsoft". I'm sorry, Dr. Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson, but it sure sounds like you are saying part of the blame goes to Microsoft.

Of course the answer to why the file was named boot.ini:
The answer is really "legacy"; it has been like that since 2001 when the file was introduced on the server and later migrated over to the client in 2002, so this file has been with us for over 6 years. We are reviewing all filenames and changing the name of any file that conflicts with Windows.
Or as I like to call it: lazy-assedness.

Reading through the comments, many EVE Online players are giving CCP props for full disclosure. Unfortunately, CCP really doesn't have a choice at this point in EVE Online's life with all the other drama that has swirled around the game.

The entire post details a breakdown of the most basic principals that guide any software project, from a Hello World! to Google. And I can't believe they DON'T have a single machine setup in their testing environment that mirrors what someone would be using at home (Windows XP installed on a single drive, game being played and patched on an administrator account).

All told, in the end, 215 users seem to have been affected. That is 215 too many.

CCP Tries To Explain Themselves: Fails

Dr. Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson, EVE Online Software Group's director, has a lengthy post trying to explain the Best Bug Ever.
Shortly after releasing EVE Online: Trinity at 22:04 GMT on Wednesday, 5 December, we started receiving reports that the Classic to Premium graphics content upgrade was causing problems to players by deleting the file C:\boot.ini, which is a Windows system startup file. In some cases the computer was not able to recover on the next startup and would not start until the file had been fixed. In this dev blog I want to tell you how this happened.
He goes on to answer a few questions.
Why doesn't Windows protect its system startup files?
That's a good question, one that I have asked myself in these last few days and wish I knew the answer. But of course I'm not going to blame Microsoft for our mistake. Windows doesn't protect those files and therefore software developers must take care not to touch them. We should have been more careful.
I have to take offense to this answer. The question that needed to be asked: why was a file named the same as a critical Windows system file knowing full-well that EVE Online (like most games) will be played and PATCHED on an account with administrative privileges?

This could of been Linux and an fstab file with the same outcome; a PC that doesn't boot correctly. It baffles me that someone this high up in the company would even attempt to answer this question and state "I'm not going to blame Microsoft". I'm sorry, Dr. Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson, but it sure sounds like you are saying part of the blame goes to Microsoft.

Of course the answer to why the file was named boot.ini:
The answer is really "legacy"; it has been like that since 2001 when the file was introduced on the server and later migrated over to the client in 2002, so this file has been with us for over 6 years. We are reviewing all filenames and changing the name of any file that conflicts with Windows.
Or as I like to call it: lazy-assedness.

Reading through the comments, many EVE Online players are giving CCP props for full disclosure. Unfortunately, CCP really doesn't have a choice at this point in EVE Online's life with all the other drama that has swirled around the game.

The entire post details a breakdown of the most basic principals that guide any software project, from a Hello World! to Google. And I can't believe they DON'T have a single machine setup in their testing environment that mirrors what someone would be using at home (Windows XP installed on a single drive, game being played and patched on an administrator account).

All told, in the end, 215 users seem to have been affected. That is 215 too many.

Exams Are Done

I have finished my last exam for the semester. I can now play games again. I know everyone is dieing to know if I kept my 4.0 GPA, but I won't know until sometime later this month. It will be close, but Micro-Economics may have played the role of spoiler.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not always perfect.

Exams Are Done

I have finished my last exam for the semester. I can now play games again. I know everyone is dieing to know if I kept my 4.0 GPA, but I won't know until sometime later this month. It will be close, but Micro-Economics may have played the role of spoiler.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not always perfect.

December 10, 2007

500,000

The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) beta sign-up counter reached the half-million mark today and with the talk lately of "beta invites as an advertisement" I wanted to make sure one of 2008's most anticipated titles doesn't get left out of the mix.

However, unlike the Lord of the Rings Online 1,000,000 beta invites, WAR only tracks actual sign-ups, not "e-mail addresses we have in a database somewhere".

Don't get me wrong, the counter is a pure marketing move on EA Mythic's part, but it is the sort of marketing that is somewhat truthful. WAR has a huge following already and EA Mythic has no need to bolster the hype by "stretching" the numbers.

The question that remains, is how many testers are in the beta currently, and how many more will be let in when the beta restarts in late December? Age of Conan recently dropped the bomb that they had invited 10,000 players, out of 100,000+ sign-ups, but as this article questions: how many are actually online and playing? Those are the numbers many of us would actually care about.

500,000

The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) beta sign-up counter reached the half-million mark today and with the talk lately of "beta invites as an advertisement" I wanted to make sure one of 2008's most anticipated titles doesn't get left out of the mix.

However, unlike the Lord of the Rings Online 1,000,000 beta invites, WAR only tracks actual sign-ups, not "e-mail addresses we have in a database somewhere".

Don't get me wrong, the counter is a pure marketing move on EA Mythic's part, but it is the sort of marketing that is somewhat truthful. WAR has a huge following already and EA Mythic has no need to bolster the hype by "stretching" the numbers.

The question that remains, is how many testers are in the beta currently, and how many more will be let in when the beta restarts in late December? Age of Conan recently dropped the bomb that they had invited 10,000 players, out of 100,000+ sign-ups, but as this article questions: how many are actually online and playing? Those are the numbers many of us would actually care about.

December 8, 2007

OMG Parenting

Recently, Dr. Phil attacked the problem of MMORPG addiction in teenagers. Surprisingly, he hits the nail on the head to solve the problem. Instead of blaming the game, he correctly points out that the parents need to control the situation and their child.
Dr. Phil is baffled. "Four hours a day? It's ridiculous!" he says. "Mom, you've got to step up and shut this down. Once she's at a point where she can play the game instead of being absorbed in the game, then perhaps, she can attempt to go back to it."
Holding parents responsible for what they let their children do is great and all, but the really important question I want to ask is: does this mean the mainstream media is shifting away from the "blame the games" mentality?

OMG Parenting

Recently, Dr. Phil attacked the problem of MMORPG addiction in teenagers. Surprisingly, he hits the nail on the head to solve the problem. Instead of blaming the game, he correctly points out that the parents need to control the situation and their child.
Dr. Phil is baffled. "Four hours a day? It's ridiculous!" he says. "Mom, you've got to step up and shut this down. Once she's at a point where she can play the game instead of being absorbed in the game, then perhaps, she can attempt to go back to it."
Holding parents responsible for what they let their children do is great and all, but the really important question I want to ask is: does this mean the mainstream media is shifting away from the "blame the games" mentality?

December 7, 2007

My Head Hurts

This is about the most random blog post I've ever found. So random, that it makes my head hurt, but in a good way. And it all starts with a time machine:
So I invented a time machine in the year 1962, and I went back in time to kill this guy that caused the world to end in 1984.

And I was just about to take my shot when this second Time Traveller Guy suddenly showed up on the roof next to me and asked me to stop.

My Head Hurts

This is about the most random blog post I've ever found. So random, that it makes my head hurt, but in a good way. And it all starts with a time machine:
So I invented a time machine in the year 1962, and I went back in time to kill this guy that caused the world to end in 1984.

And I was just about to take my shot when this second Time Traveller Guy suddenly showed up on the roof next to me and asked me to stop.

December 6, 2007

Tabula Rasa: Why all the delays?

If anyone plays Tabula Rasa and wonders where their subscription payment goes, this video may just hold the key. Or maybe it will help us understand why Tabula Rasa was delayed so long. Either way, opening a beer will never be the same.



What do you expect from someone who requires that their name comes before a game's title? All we need is for Mr. Garriott to show up on MTV to show off his crib...

...oh snap!

Tabula Rasa: Why all the delays?

If anyone plays Tabula Rasa and wonders where their subscription payment goes, this video may just hold the key. Or maybe it will help us understand why Tabula Rasa was delayed so long. Either way, opening a beer will never be the same.



What do you expect from someone who requires that their name comes before a game's title? All we need is for Mr. Garriott to show up on MTV to show off his crib...

...oh snap!

Best Bug Ever

The latest EVE Online patch seems to have come with a wonderful side effect for Windows XP users.
After a large number of PCs stopped working following installation of the new Trinity patch for Eve Online, developers CCP were able to confirm that the patch deletes the boot.ini file from Windows XP machines. What this means is that XP users who downloaded and applied the patch within the first few hours (the patch has now been taken down) cannot reboot their PC.
This, along with other FUBAR moments from CCP, really speaks to a poor quality assurance process and a lacking sense that any of the management at CCP has control over the EVE Online project.

Secondly, I don't understand how there are not safeguards in place to prevent such a disaster from going live? The split-second a programmer typed "delete boot.ini", warning bells should have gone off that the code needed to be triple-checked for accuracy. More cowbell maybe?

Fortunately, the problem is easily fixed for the tech savvy. However, knowing that the most addicted EVE players were probably the first to download and install the patch, I have to wonder how many of them ran out to the nearest PC hardware store to start swapping out parts. Actually, I LOL in real life just thinking about that, because at one point in my life I may have done the same thing.

Best Bug Ever

The latest EVE Online patch seems to have come with a wonderful side effect for Windows XP users.
After a large number of PCs stopped working following installation of the new Trinity patch for Eve Online, developers CCP were able to confirm that the patch deletes the boot.ini file from Windows XP machines. What this means is that XP users who downloaded and applied the patch within the first few hours (the patch has now been taken down) cannot reboot their PC.
This, along with other FUBAR moments from CCP, really speaks to a poor quality assurance process and a lacking sense that any of the management at CCP has control over the EVE Online project.

Secondly, I don't understand how there are not safeguards in place to prevent such a disaster from going live? The split-second a programmer typed "delete boot.ini", warning bells should have gone off that the code needed to be triple-checked for accuracy. More cowbell maybe?

Fortunately, the problem is easily fixed for the tech savvy. However, knowing that the most addicted EVE players were probably the first to download and install the patch, I have to wonder how many of them ran out to the nearest PC hardware store to start swapping out parts. Actually, I LOL in real life just thinking about that, because at one point in my life I may have done the same thing.

December 4, 2007

Passing On Pirates

I am officially passing on the Pirates of the Burning Seas beta. I have recieved an invite to beta and was graciously asked to participate in a fairly significant manner as either the PvP or Economic representative on the official Boarding Party, a collection of player advocates that helps promote the game and funnel community issues to the developers. Unfortunately, I have final exams incoming followed by a marathon of work to get done if I want to actually enjoy my time off over the holiday break.

From all accounts, with the NDA being dropped, Pirates of the Burning Sea is shaping up to be a good, but lacking overall game. The consensus seems to be: avatar combat and leveling sucks, PvP and the economy are sweet, and the British are over-powered. Pretty much what I expected out of the game.

It is a bit disconcerting that the game has been delayed a long time due Flying Lab's decision to finish their implementation of avatar combat. Originally, the game was planned to be ship based only, with the ability to move an avatar through the port towns. However, that all changed and now there seems to be a fairly grindy, land-based aspect to the game that I've yet to read a good thing about.

In the end, PotBS is the wrong game, at the wrong time for me. Had it released already, I would no doubt be playing it. But now, I have my sights set on Warhammer Online. In the interim, World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, and Call of Duty 4 should hold me over until I get my chance at WAR.

Passing On Pirates

I am officially passing on the Pirates of the Burning Seas beta. I have recieved an invite to beta and was graciously asked to participate in a fairly significant manner as either the PvP or Economic representative on the official Boarding Party, a collection of player advocates that helps promote the game and funnel community issues to the developers. Unfortunately, I have final exams incoming followed by a marathon of work to get done if I want to actually enjoy my time off over the holiday break.

From all accounts, with the NDA being dropped, Pirates of the Burning Sea is shaping up to be a good, but lacking overall game. The consensus seems to be: avatar combat and leveling sucks, PvP and the economy are sweet, and the British are over-powered. Pretty much what I expected out of the game.

It is a bit disconcerting that the game has been delayed a long time due Flying Lab's decision to finish their implementation of avatar combat. Originally, the game was planned to be ship based only, with the ability to move an avatar through the port towns. However, that all changed and now there seems to be a fairly grindy, land-based aspect to the game that I've yet to read a good thing about.

In the end, PotBS is the wrong game, at the wrong time for me. Had it released already, I would no doubt be playing it. But now, I have my sights set on Warhammer Online. In the interim, World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, and Call of Duty 4 should hold me over until I get my chance at WAR.

December 3, 2007

Blizzard and Activision Merge

Big news today: Blizzard and Activision Announce Merger.
Activision and Blizzard have said they will form "the world's most profitable games business" in a deal worth $18.8bn
This could mean a lot, but most likely this is just an "on paper" company. I am guessing that each company will stay seperate and produce their own titles in the same manor as they have been doing. Some resources will be brought together, but I can't see any major changes out of this.

Blizzard and Activision Merge

Big news today: Blizzard and Activision Announce Merger.
Activision and Blizzard have said they will form "the world's most profitable games business" in a deal worth $18.8bn
This could mean a lot, but most likely this is just an "on paper" company. I am guessing that each company will stay seperate and produce their own titles in the same manor as they have been doing. Some resources will be brought together, but I can't see any major changes out of this.

November 30, 2007

Damn

If, before last night's Packers vs Cowboys game, someone told me that Brett Favre was going to have a career-worst passer rating and not finish the game, I would of laughed until every last cow in Wisconsin came strolling through my front door. Ouch, I better get the barn ready.

Sparing comments and excuses for the Packers poor performance last night, I want to touch on what Brett Favre has meant to me as a Packers fan. Brett Favre has been the quarterback for Green Bay for almost as long as I have watched them play. Sure, I was old enough to remember and I saw some of the other quarterbacks before Favre, but my "fan memory" doesn't seem to kick in until Brett Favre.

To me, watching a Green Bay Packers game, is watching a Brett Favre game. That is an experience I hope every NFL fan gets to experience with their favorite team at some point. Even after two interceptions, some horrible decisions, and a lackluster start, I didn't think Favre wouldn't be finishing the game. However, the injury to his throwing elbow ended up knocking him out of the game

Now, if someone told me that, with several key defensive injuries and NO BRETT FAVRE, that the Packers would of turned a potential blowout into a close game, I would of laughed as well. However, that is exactly the show Green Bay put on last night. Sure, there was a lot of sloppy play on defense and offense, but Green Bay is a young team and truly facing its first really big game. I expected this sort of play.

What I did not expect, was Green Bay to tighten up and play well down the stretch. Even in a loss, they told the Cowboys that they better play a hell of a lot better next time, because it is doubtful the Packers are going to be sitting three of their best players (KGB, Woodson, and Favre).

Oh, and it's doubtful the referees will bail them out and gift wrap the game next time these two teams meet. I hate to get into arguments about referees in the NFL, because I think they do a good job, but last night was a bit disappointing for one reason. On two crucial plays, one at the beginning of the game and the other at the end, one referee CALLED THE PLAYS CORRECTLY only to be overridden by another referee that SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN INVOLVED IN THE CALL!

Anyways, good teams don't let games come down to two or three plays and the Packers will need to clean up the sloppy play if they wish to make a statement at the end of this year.

Damn

If, before last night's Packers vs Cowboys game, someone told me that Brett Favre was going to have a career-worst passer rating and not finish the game, I would of laughed until every last cow in Wisconsin came strolling through my front door. Ouch, I better get the barn ready.

Sparing comments and excuses for the Packers poor performance last night, I want to touch on what Brett Favre has meant to me as a Packers fan. Brett Favre has been the quarterback for Green Bay for almost as long as I have watched them play. Sure, I was old enough to remember and I saw some of the other quarterbacks before Favre, but my "fan memory" doesn't seem to kick in until Brett Favre.

To me, watching a Green Bay Packers game, is watching a Brett Favre game. That is an experience I hope every NFL fan gets to experience with their favorite team at some point. Even after two interceptions, some horrible decisions, and a lackluster start, I didn't think Favre wouldn't be finishing the game. However, the injury to his throwing elbow ended up knocking him out of the game

Now, if someone told me that, with several key defensive injuries and NO BRETT FAVRE, that the Packers would of turned a potential blowout into a close game, I would of laughed as well. However, that is exactly the show Green Bay put on last night. Sure, there was a lot of sloppy play on defense and offense, but Green Bay is a young team and truly facing its first really big game. I expected this sort of play.

What I did not expect, was Green Bay to tighten up and play well down the stretch. Even in a loss, they told the Cowboys that they better play a hell of a lot better next time, because it is doubtful the Packers are going to be sitting three of their best players (KGB, Woodson, and Favre).

Oh, and it's doubtful the referees will bail them out and gift wrap the game next time these two teams meet. I hate to get into arguments about referees in the NFL, because I think they do a good job, but last night was a bit disappointing for one reason. On two crucial plays, one at the beginning of the game and the other at the end, one referee CALLED THE PLAYS CORRECTLY only to be overridden by another referee that SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN INVOLVED IN THE CALL!

Anyways, good teams don't let games come down to two or three plays and the Packers will need to clean up the sloppy play if they wish to make a statement at the end of this year.

November 29, 2007

My wife owned me, or was it Mass Effect?

Last night, while watching TV with my wife, a commercial for Mass Effect came on. Midway through the commercial, I remarked; "Oooh, another game I need to get."

A moment after my lips closed, a female in the commercial spoke: "Reqeust denied." With that, my wife looked over at me and smiled. We both busted out laughing.

My wife and I are fairly well off on the money train, but new game purchases are always a touchy subject. With my recent glut of purchases (Call of Duty 4, Dark Age of Camelot resub, The Orange Box), and the need to pay up for some more World of Warcraft time, this "request" was only a joke. Yet, the joke seemed to be on me.

Ah well, fate is a bitch sometimes.

NOTE: I don't own an Xbox 360 and really don't have plans to get Mass Effect. So, honey, if you are reading this, CALM DOWN :) I'll be home for dinner later.

My wife owned me, or was it Mass Effect?

Last night, while watching TV with my wife, a commercial for Mass Effect came on. Midway through the commercial, I remarked; "Oooh, another game I need to get."

A moment after my lips closed, a female in the commercial spoke: "Reqeust denied." With that, my wife looked over at me and smiled. We both busted out laughing.

My wife and I are fairly well off on the money train, but new game purchases are always a touchy subject. With my recent glut of purchases (Call of Duty 4, Dark Age of Camelot resub, The Orange Box), and the need to pay up for some more World of Warcraft time, this "request" was only a joke. Yet, the joke seemed to be on me.

Ah well, fate is a bitch sometimes.

NOTE: I don't own an Xbox 360 and really don't have plans to get Mass Effect. So, honey, if you are reading this, CALM DOWN :) I'll be home for dinner later.

November 27, 2007

More Arena Cheating

World of Warcraft is set to enter Arena Season 3 after today's downtime. With the new season comes new, rank-restricted arena gear and a personal ranking system, both of which are meant to fight rampant arena "exploitation" from the first two seasons. Sadly, the new season also brings new cheats.

Win trading, the process by which top teams farm another high ranking team, seems to be the new flavor and pretty much cements the high ranking of the team involved. It is easily disguised as normal play and only in the worst cases is it probable that the teams will get caught.

Fortunately, Blizzard seems to be on the case. However, this gives me no faith in the arena system as a viable end-game activity. Before win trading, it was top teams selling spots for gold. The point is, if it isn't one thing, it'll be another and that is enough evidence to me that Blizzard has failed on yet another PvP system. Like the Honor System, it will only be a matter of time before the current arena system is scrapped and replaced.

In my eyes, there are a couple things that would have contained these arena problems to simply arenas and not the entire game. First off, arena gear should of been restricted to use only inside arenas or become severely less powerful outside of arenas. If certain trinkets and out-of-arena gear were going to be restricted inside arenas, it only makes sense that arena gear could have been restricted outside of the arena.

It is a bad sign when the arena rewards are referred to as "welfare epics". Sadly, the epic arena gear turned out to be superior to a lot of raid level gear and quickly became the easiest way to gear up for end game raiding content.

I am not averse to easy to attain epic gear. However, I am against any system that becomes the "path of least resistance" for the opposite aspect of the game. PvP arenas became the preferred method for PvE players, and in my book, that is bad design. I know there is a lot that can be argued over raid loot affecting PvP, but I don't want to get into that aspect. I stand firmly on the concept of separate PvP and PvE reward systems.

Secondly, the arenas should have been about prestige, renown, and good ole' bragging rights. This entails rewards such as special titles, unique mounts, displayable trophies, etc. Arenas should have never gotten involved with rewarding epic gear, because it immediately dashes the illusion of fair play. When teams enter an arena, it should be the group build, player skill, and strategy that determines the winner, not fucking gear (most likely earned through questionable means).

Gear level, in arenas, should always be equal and that would have been easily accomplished through arena-restricted gear. Unfortunately, the system can not be changed and it would be unthinkable for Blizzard to remove all the gear already attained by players. The only hope is a change with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

In the end, this s just another set of reasons why there is no rush for me to get to 70. Arena's are not competitive, will never be, and are no longer my goal. Battlegrounds, which have always been objective-based, provide a better challenge and allow every class and level of player to participate in a meaningful way.

Now, if Blizzard would just put the same effort into Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Eye of the Storm, that they put into Alterac Valley, the battlegrounds would be golden!

More Arena Cheating

World of Warcraft is set to enter Arena Season 3 after today's downtime. With the new season comes new, rank-restricted arena gear and a personal ranking system, both of which are meant to fight rampant arena "exploitation" from the first two seasons. Sadly, the new season also brings new cheats.

Win trading, the process by which top teams farm another high ranking team, seems to be the new flavor and pretty much cements the high ranking of the team involved. It is easily disguised as normal play and only in the worst cases is it probable that the teams will get caught.

Fortunately, Blizzard seems to be on the case. However, this gives me no faith in the arena system as a viable end-game activity. Before win trading, it was top teams selling spots for gold. The point is, if it isn't one thing, it'll be another and that is enough evidence to me that Blizzard has failed on yet another PvP system. Like the Honor System, it will only be a matter of time before the current arena system is scrapped and replaced.

In my eyes, there are a couple things that would have contained these arena problems to simply arenas and not the entire game. First off, arena gear should of been restricted to use only inside arenas or become severely less powerful outside of arenas. If certain trinkets and out-of-arena gear were going to be restricted inside arenas, it only makes sense that arena gear could have been restricted outside of the arena.

It is a bad sign when the arena rewards are referred to as "welfare epics". Sadly, the epic arena gear turned out to be superior to a lot of raid level gear and quickly became the easiest way to gear up for end game raiding content.

I am not averse to easy to attain epic gear. However, I am against any system that becomes the "path of least resistance" for the opposite aspect of the game. PvP arenas became the preferred method for PvE players, and in my book, that is bad design. I know there is a lot that can be argued over raid loot affecting PvP, but I don't want to get into that aspect. I stand firmly on the concept of separate PvP and PvE reward systems.

Secondly, the arenas should have been about prestige, renown, and good ole' bragging rights. This entails rewards such as special titles, unique mounts, displayable trophies, etc. Arenas should have never gotten involved with rewarding epic gear, because it immediately dashes the illusion of fair play. When teams enter an arena, it should be the group build, player skill, and strategy that determines the winner, not fucking gear (most likely earned through questionable means).

Gear level, in arenas, should always be equal and that would have been easily accomplished through arena-restricted gear. Unfortunately, the system can not be changed and it would be unthinkable for Blizzard to remove all the gear already attained by players. The only hope is a change with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

In the end, this s just another set of reasons why there is no rush for me to get to 70. Arena's are not competitive, will never be, and are no longer my goal. Battlegrounds, which have always been objective-based, provide a better challenge and allow every class and level of player to participate in a meaningful way.

Now, if Blizzard would just put the same effort into Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Eye of the Storm, that they put into Alterac Valley, the battlegrounds would be golden!

November 20, 2007

I'm a Shaman

Hello, I'm Heartless and I'm a Shaman. I'm a conduit of the ancient forces of nature. You are no doubt wondering, "Hey Heartless, how do I hurl bolts of lightning?". Simple, get World of Warcraft dog. You can be anyone you want. I'm Heartless and I'm a Shaman. What's your game?

Now just replace Heartless with William Shatner, throw in some WoW footage, and you would no doubt have a pretty kick ass commercial. Don't worry, Blizzard is way ahead of you.

Oh, and the debate is settled. It is pronounced sh"ah"man, not sh"ay"man. Owned, by Captain Kirk no less.

I'm a Shaman

Hello, I'm Heartless and I'm a Shaman. I'm a conduit of the ancient forces of nature. You are no doubt wondering, "Hey Heartless, how do I hurl bolts of lightning?". Simple, get World of Warcraft dog. You can be anyone you want. I'm Heartless and I'm a Shaman. What's your game?

Now just replace Heartless with William Shatner, throw in some WoW footage, and you would no doubt have a pretty kick ass commercial. Don't worry, Blizzard is way ahead of you.

Oh, and the debate is settled. It is pronounced sh"ah"man, not sh"ay"man. Owned, by Captain Kirk no less.

November 19, 2007

Numb3rs

0 - Number of active days left on my Dark Age of Camelot subscription.

1 - The average number of walls a bullet goes through before killing me in Call of Duty 4.

2 - Number of kills I achieved in my first Call of Duty 4 multi-player match. Sadly, I also suffered 32 deaths.

3 - Number of days until my birthday, Thanksgiving, and the next Green Bay Packers game.

20 - Number of deaths I suffer on average in a CoD4 match.

47 - Number of kills I average in an a CoD4 match.

50 - Number of Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley tokens I need in able to purchase arena season one gear for my Shaman in WoW when season three starts later this month.

70 - The level I need to reach in WoW before I can use arena season one gear. I'm currently level 66.

2,637 - Number of points I've scored in Team Fortress 2.

65,250 - The amount of honor needed to attain an entire set of season one arena armor for my Shaman in World of Warcraft.

Numb3rs

0 - Number of active days left on my Dark Age of Camelot subscription.

1 - The average number of walls a bullet goes through before killing me in Call of Duty 4.

2 - Number of kills I achieved in my first Call of Duty 4 multi-player match. Sadly, I also suffered 32 deaths.

3 - Number of days until my birthday, Thanksgiving, and the next Green Bay Packers game.

20 - Number of deaths I suffer on average in a CoD4 match.

47 - Number of kills I average in an a CoD4 match.

50 - Number of Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley tokens I need in able to purchase arena season one gear for my Shaman in WoW when season three starts later this month.

70 - The level I need to reach in WoW before I can use arena season one gear. I'm currently level 66.

2,637 - Number of points I've scored in Team Fortress 2.

65,250 - The amount of honor needed to attain an entire set of season one arena armor for my Shaman in World of Warcraft.

November 16, 2007

Showdown: World of Warcraft vs. Dark Age of Camelot

William requested that I discuss some of things that made me turn away from Dark Age of Camelot and return to World of Warcraft. However, I want to stress that I did not quit DAoC because of WoW's new 2.3 patch. I quit DAoC because of real life time restraints. I just so happen to have access to my WoW account for the time being and play it casually (very casually).

I want to start this showdown with the one thing I strongly feel that DAoC has cornered the market on, something that WoW has struggled with: PvP. In DAoC, PvP is called Realm vs Realm (RvR). That is a term that can only be found in a Mythic game. Seriously, they trademarked the term.

Semantics aside, RvR is DAoC's form of PvP. RvR pits three realms of players against each other for control of castles and relics. Frontiers are the zones where the castles and relics are located. Open PvP can occur anywhere in the frontiers and there is no shortage of castles and towers to fight over. Both the castles and relics can be captured by opposing forces. This gives real weight to RvR, both for the individual and the entire realm.

WoW on the other hand, focuses on instanced PvP battlegrounds and more recently arenas, both of which have little impact on anything other than the players involved. Since launch, Blizzard has tried several different approaches towards their PvP systems and through numerous rebuilds and tweaks, PvP has simply become a secondary issue taking a backseat to the more popular PvE side of things. That is OK, because WoW's PvE is great and Blizzard should focus on it while letting players bash in each other's heads every once and a while.

The distinguishing trait between the two games PvP, is that DAoC has focused on providing that RvR experience to every single level of play. There are now level-restricted battlegrounds and dungeons for every level range in the game. Players can level from start to finish doing only RvR battlegrounds or dungeons. DAoC knew what people enjoyed and highlighted it. Their only fault is a side-tracked PvE themed expansion that became the bane of DAoC RvR enthusiasts everywhere. Fortunately, Mythic learned their lesson and were able to set the wheels in motion to keep the game afloat.

WoW has tried desperately to fix their PvP, and after dozens of changes the system is still fairly focused on just doing instanced PvP as fast and as often as humanly possible for epic gear. WoW's PvP is still enjoyable, but it holds no weight and is nothing more than a "my l33t sauce is hotter than your l33t sauce". With that said, Blizzard has started tossing around more open world, objective based PvP that shows promise. DAoC does PvP right, with meaning and reason behind it. Hopefully, Mythic will showcase this in their next title: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

With the PvP topic discussed, I will throw down a bullet list of what WoW has done so much better than DAoC, and then we can discuss them.
  • WoW's UI, both in modifiability and out-of-the-box functionality.
  • WoW's control scheme is unmatched in the MMORPG industry and should be the starting point for any game. I can not stress how important this is.
  • WoW's quest system trumps the shambled mess that is DAoC's quest system.
  • Leveling is actually faster in DAoC these days, but WoW does it with style and without the grind.
There are some other bells and whistles, but those are the four things that have drawn my back into WoW time after time after time. Oh, and sexy elves.

Showdown: World of Warcraft vs. Dark Age of Camelot

William requested that I discuss some of things that made me turn away from Dark Age of Camelot and return to World of Warcraft. However, I want to stress that I did not quit DAoC because of WoW's new 2.3 patch. I quit DAoC because of real life time restraints. I just so happen to have access to my WoW account for the time being and play it casually (very casually).

I want to start this showdown with the one thing I strongly feel that DAoC has cornered the market on, something that WoW has struggled with: PvP. In DAoC, PvP is called Realm vs Realm (RvR). That is a term that can only be found in a Mythic game. Seriously, they trademarked the term.

Semantics aside, RvR is DAoC's form of PvP. RvR pits three realms of players against each other for control of castles and relics. Frontiers are the zones where the castles and relics are located. Open PvP can occur anywhere in the frontiers and there is no shortage of castles and towers to fight over. Both the castles and relics can be captured by opposing forces. This gives real weight to RvR, both for the individual and the entire realm.

WoW on the other hand, focuses on instanced PvP battlegrounds and more recently arenas, both of which have little impact on anything other than the players involved. Since launch, Blizzard has tried several different approaches towards their PvP systems and through numerous rebuilds and tweaks, PvP has simply become a secondary issue taking a backseat to the more popular PvE side of things. That is OK, because WoW's PvE is great and Blizzard should focus on it while letting players bash in each other's heads every once and a while.

The distinguishing trait between the two games PvP, is that DAoC has focused on providing that RvR experience to every single level of play. There are now level-restricted battlegrounds and dungeons for every level range in the game. Players can level from start to finish doing only RvR battlegrounds or dungeons. DAoC knew what people enjoyed and highlighted it. Their only fault is a side-tracked PvE themed expansion that became the bane of DAoC RvR enthusiasts everywhere. Fortunately, Mythic learned their lesson and were able to set the wheels in motion to keep the game afloat.

WoW has tried desperately to fix their PvP, and after dozens of changes the system is still fairly focused on just doing instanced PvP as fast and as often as humanly possible for epic gear. WoW's PvP is still enjoyable, but it holds no weight and is nothing more than a "my l33t sauce is hotter than your l33t sauce". With that said, Blizzard has started tossing around more open world, objective based PvP that shows promise. DAoC does PvP right, with meaning and reason behind it. Hopefully, Mythic will showcase this in their next title: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

With the PvP topic discussed, I will throw down a bullet list of what WoW has done so much better than DAoC, and then we can discuss them.
  • WoW's UI, both in modifiability and out-of-the-box functionality.
  • WoW's control scheme is unmatched in the MMORPG industry and should be the starting point for any game. I can not stress how important this is.
  • WoW's quest system trumps the shambled mess that is DAoC's quest system.
  • Leveling is actually faster in DAoC these days, but WoW does it with style and without the grind.
There are some other bells and whistles, but those are the four things that have drawn my back into WoW time after time after time. Oh, and sexy elves.

November 15, 2007

The Return Is Over

I chose a really bad time to get nostalgic about Dark Age of Camelot. Between real life and kick ass new games like Call of Duty 4, I have very little time to dedicate to an MMORPG. Especially one that is six years old and fairly set in it's ways.

I enjoyed the thirty or so hours I put into the game over the last month, but I ended up at the same conclusion I did a few years ago: the genre needs to improve. The genre has grown up and new games do some very basic things very well. Things that DAoC has not improved on over the last six years.

World of Warcraft's controls have honestly spoiled me and I can not seem to adjust backwards to the heavy-handed systems of DAoC. Also, the flexibility of WoW's UI mods trumps any of the custom UI packages available for DAoC. There are tons of other items that I've grown used to and playing DAoC again just made me wish for WoW. There is so much to be said for the little things that WoW managed to get right.

But I don't want to make this a WoW is better than DAoC post. DAoC was the game back in the day and I do not regret the three years I invested into it. In my humble opinion, Realm vs. Realm is still an amazing concept and extremely well implemented throughout DAoC. It is just sad to know that the rest of the game aged like rotten cheese.

Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

The Return Is Over

I chose a really bad time to get nostalgic about Dark Age of Camelot. Between real life and kick ass new games like Call of Duty 4, I have very little time to dedicate to an MMORPG. Especially one that is six years old and fairly set in it's ways.

I enjoyed the thirty or so hours I put into the game over the last month, but I ended up at the same conclusion I did a few years ago: the genre needs to improve. The genre has grown up and new games do some very basic things very well. Things that DAoC has not improved on over the last six years.

World of Warcraft's controls have honestly spoiled me and I can not seem to adjust backwards to the heavy-handed systems of DAoC. Also, the flexibility of WoW's UI mods trumps any of the custom UI packages available for DAoC. There are tons of other items that I've grown used to and playing DAoC again just made me wish for WoW. There is so much to be said for the little things that WoW managed to get right.

But I don't want to make this a WoW is better than DAoC post. DAoC was the game back in the day and I do not regret the three years I invested into it. In my humble opinion, Realm vs. Realm is still an amazing concept and extremely well implemented throughout DAoC. It is just sad to know that the rest of the game aged like rotten cheese.

Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

November 13, 2007

Digital Distribution Woes

Digital distribution is the the future for gaming. Ten years from now, players won't go to a store to buy their games, they will just download them. The process will be simple, clean, and help to cut the rising cost of games.

Unfortunately, if the Call of Duty 4 launch via Steam is any indication, digital distribution has a long ways to go. The Steam launch has been littered with show-stopping bugs and regional pricing differences, not to mention being launched nearly a week after the box versions hit store shelves. All of this for a game that has Game of the Year written all over it, and that is saying a lot in a period seeing the launch of a ton of AAA games.

The first issue with the Steam launch, as mentioned, was the fact that it was released a week later than the box version. While this is fine for players like myself, who had no plans to jump in at launch, it is a sore spot for many players that have become fond of Steam and other digital distribution solutions.

Tagged onto the week delay, the actual decryption files didn't get released on Steam until midday on Nov 12th (the release date). Most Steam users had expected a 12:01 AM launch, but it was not to be, and many angry gamers spent several hours waiting for the game to be released. Is it a bit much to expect midnight launches via Steam? Maybe, but Valve has shown the ability to do it with their major titles, and I see no reason why that can't carry it over for third-party titles.

The next issue with the launch made me glad to be an American, because the game only cost me $49.95 + tax. Unfortunately, Europeans were stuck with a $69.95 price tag, which did not include VAT. In total, Call of Duty 4 costs almost $80 for Europeans. Again, for a game that has been in stores for $49.95 and that they were getting a week late. There has been no explanation from Activision, the game's publisher, as to the price hike for Europeans using Steam.

NOTE: Prices on Steam are set by the publisher, not Valve.

Thirdly, once the game did become available, a plethora of bugs infested the launch. Pre-loading, the process of downloading the digital game files prior to launch, ended up short for a ton of players. Personally, my download finished 320 Mb short. So, instead of launching right into the game, many players were forced to validate their installation files and download a large portion of the game.

On top of this, there have been many other ugly bugs that have reared their head since the 12th. I will write up a more in-depth post later with details on how I fixed several of them, along with links to appropriate support articles. Needless to say, there are a lot of issues. Issues, that were not present in the boxed version.

With all of this said, the game in question is still probably one of the best games to launch this year. The single-player is short, but no one will be arguing that it isn't the most intense six hours of your gaming life. Yes, it is that damn good. On top of the wonderful single-player, the multi-player is set to challenge Halo 3, if not destroy it in terms of player minutes per month. On Xfire, CoD4 single-player and multi-player combined, are already challenging World of Warcraft as the most played game. Of course, that figure is not counting the players playing via Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Call of Duty 4 is huge and it just barely missed the boat in regards to digital distribution.

Digital Distribution Woes

Digital distribution is the the future for gaming. Ten years from now, players won't go to a store to buy their games, they will just download them. The process will be simple, clean, and help to cut the rising cost of games.

Unfortunately, if the Call of Duty 4 launch via Steam is any indication, digital distribution has a long ways to go. The Steam launch has been littered with show-stopping bugs and regional pricing differences, not to mention being launched nearly a week after the box versions hit store shelves. All of this for a game that has Game of the Year written all over it, and that is saying a lot in a period seeing the launch of a ton of AAA games.

The first issue with the Steam launch, as mentioned, was the fact that it was released a week later than the box version. While this is fine for players like myself, who had no plans to jump in at launch, it is a sore spot for many players that have become fond of Steam and other digital distribution solutions.

Tagged onto the week delay, the actual decryption files didn't get released on Steam until midday on Nov 12th (the release date). Most Steam users had expected a 12:01 AM launch, but it was not to be, and many angry gamers spent several hours waiting for the game to be released. Is it a bit much to expect midnight launches via Steam? Maybe, but Valve has shown the ability to do it with their major titles, and I see no reason why that can't carry it over for third-party titles.

The next issue with the launch made me glad to be an American, because the game only cost me $49.95 + tax. Unfortunately, Europeans were stuck with a $69.95 price tag, which did not include VAT. In total, Call of Duty 4 costs almost $80 for Europeans. Again, for a game that has been in stores for $49.95 and that they were getting a week late. There has been no explanation from Activision, the game's publisher, as to the price hike for Europeans using Steam.

NOTE: Prices on Steam are set by the publisher, not Valve.

Thirdly, once the game did become available, a plethora of bugs infested the launch. Pre-loading, the process of downloading the digital game files prior to launch, ended up short for a ton of players. Personally, my download finished 320 Mb short. So, instead of launching right into the game, many players were forced to validate their installation files and download a large portion of the game.

On top of this, there have been many other ugly bugs that have reared their head since the 12th. I will write up a more in-depth post later with details on how I fixed several of them, along with links to appropriate support articles. Needless to say, there are a lot of issues. Issues, that were not present in the boxed version.

With all of this said, the game in question is still probably one of the best games to launch this year. The single-player is short, but no one will be arguing that it isn't the most intense six hours of your gaming life. Yes, it is that damn good. On top of the wonderful single-player, the multi-player is set to challenge Halo 3, if not destroy it in terms of player minutes per month. On Xfire, CoD4 single-player and multi-player combined, are already challenging World of Warcraft as the most played game. Of course, that figure is not counting the players playing via Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Call of Duty 4 is huge, but it missed the boat in regards to digital distribution.