Time Capsule 2015

So for those that haven’t read one of my previous capsules, or my opening thereof, here’s how this works. I record some of the things I’m looking forward to, some of my burning questions for the year ahead, and record my biggest nostalgia impulses. And then a year later, I see how they turned out. (Hint: sometimes not as great as I thought, sometimes, even better).

So here we go:

What I’m looking forward to in 2015

As others have pointed out, this is a down year for MMO’s. There are no real major launches that we know of, and nothing waiting on the back burner to amp up. So most of my anticipation is locked into games I’m playing in the here and now (and that’s not a bad thing!)

Maxing Out Marvel Heroes Online

I started last year with just a free hero (Hawkeye) and some time to kill, but the game was so good I put in enough quarters to buy out my two favorite Marvel characters: Moon Knight and Taskmaster. Moonie is…well, he’s a complicated character and its hard to get a good build on him. Taskmaster on the other hand, is a world of fun. I added Rogue over Christmas through the Steam sale. She is the quintessential utility character, something I thrive on. So I’d really like to get those guys maxed out, or at least to where I have all their fun abilities, including ultimates, unlocked.

Grats to Gazillion on raking in that Game of the Year award too. And they deserve it. All the other action RPG type games are built on PvP – but not this one. This one is built firmly on PvE, and that is what has made it such a nice secondary game for me. Drop in, drop an elbow on several hundred henchmen, and drop back out. Good times folks, good times.

Unleash the Tiger

The inscription in Russian reads:  "Pic Unrelated"
The inscription in Russian reads: “Pic Unrelated”

One of the seminal moments of the World of Tanks beta for me was, as week before the wipe and launch, unlocking the Tiger tank. My boyhood dream, come to life in a way that had never, in my opinion, been done right before. And then War Thunder comes along, and, in my opinion, they do it even better than WoT did. And I’m sitting 61,000 RP from unlocking that steal beast in WT. Well, maybe a little more than that, as I’ve elected to beef up my AA lineup a bit first. So call it 85k or so. Shouldn’t be too long, but unlocking it is not what I’m looking forward to – playing with it is. In WoT the Tiger was always a mediocre tank – the way they rank it, it falls into battles where its already poor mobility was combined with a new weakness – armor that couldn’t stop anything. It was….disappointing. I’m curious to see how it fares in WT. Will it live up to the image cast by my younger self, watching Kelly’s Heroes and drooling longingly?

More Jet Combat In World of Warplanes

I know that sounds weird, but, now that I have a couple of jets in my inventory, I’m really starting to like the way the game plays out around them. In War Thunder, at those levels, it appears a one second burst can shatter you jet beyond repair, but the mechanics in WoWp are more forgiving, and combined with the greater difficulty in maneuvering at those speeds…well, its a fun and fast paced challenge. I never thought I would be in that place, a year ago, I’d have said to take jets out all together. But I really do think the game is set up to handle them well, maybe even better than it handles the lower tier prop battles, which is already very good at building high paced furballs.

My Burning Questions For 2015

Speaking of WoWp…

Where will things stand a year from now? Will the game be improved, with greater numbers of players, or will it have dwindled south? Will it even still be around? Already some NA players have moved to the RU server, trading a rough delay for the ability to have a large population present. For me, my heartache would be in the loss of the game I love, but not in money invested. Warships will be coming soon and I know I will be invested in that as well, so any gold I have will find a happy new home there. But I genuinely love WoWp, and the thought of it disappearing on me…well, it would be a hard blow to take.

What will Elder Schools Unlimited Actually Look Like?

Screenshot_20150115_204737

They say that nothing will be restricted, but I’m calling baloney right now. XP gain will be choked back, without a doubt. Which means if my brother and I want to keep moving at the comfortable pace we are living at right now, we are going to have to stay subbed. Which means there are no real benefits for me to derive from the game. Yes, I know, the Crown Shoppe, or whatever they will call it, but…unless they are also lying about restrictions in the realms of fashion – I already change outfits and colors almost nightly – there is nothing more I could want to buy from the shop in terms of cosmetics. But if they are lying about that too, and the crafting content will also be restricted….well, then, again, I’m not better off than when I started. Honestly, it doesn’t really hurt my status quo, so there is nothing for me to be mad about. But as someone who is already loyally subbed, I stand to gain nothing in the switch it seems.

What MMO Closures will 2015 Bring Us?

It was this time last year when word came that Vanguard would be closed down for good….err “sunsetting” as they euphemize it. That made it the fifth MMO I’ve played to shutter its doors (EQOA, Shadowbane, CoX, SWG are the other four). So the thought is in my head as I write this: who is going down this year? Will it be the very original, but long suffering Pirates of the Burning Sea? They admit this is going to be a tenuous year for them revenue-wise in a recent letter, but if they can get in place the things they need, they can probably hold on for awhile longer. Sony has proven itself the harbinger of doom when it comes to closures in the last year – is there something else on their list to axe? Dragon’s Prophet maybe? Do any of the really old school games that have clung to life face an end in the next year? Dark Age of Camelot? Asheron’s Call?

Or…will this be a closure free year, which will seem to be, after the last couple of years, a rarity?

Where Will I Return To In 2015

Ah, the nostalgia lanes. Last year I enjoyed trips into retro-RPG lands. What about this year?

ArchAge Online

Given how passionate I was about this game early on…should I go back and try to rekindle some of that interest now? I mean, it is free to play, so if it doesn’t work out, no big deal. And I doubt I will ever get through enough of the content that PvP will be an issue. And in some sense, it woudn’t be a return since I never made it that far on the RU server. Still, an interesting possibility.

Dominions 4

I would love to do a nice, long (maybe playing just once a week) playthrough of a Dominions game and write up a narrative of the action. It would function in some ways like Syps Nostalgia Lane, though I really only have an interest in doing it for this game, which it would work well on I think. His Master of Orion playthrough in that format was a great read and a lot of fun.

Or….

Or will something not here jump up and catch my fancy, something like the recently resurfaced Uncharted Waters Online….

I must have ships on the brain. Anyway, here’s to 2015. May it surprise us in a good way.

Opening the 2014 Time Capsule

So, according to my notes, this is my second year doing this. Instead of predictions at the end of the year, at the beginning of the year I try to capture my hopes, dreams, and thoughts for the year in one space, and then go back and look at them the next year. This change was inspired by SWTOR after I realized how I went from gung-ho-on-fire for it to hating it in the course of a year. How quickly things change in the world of online gaming, right? So here is where I was 12 months ago, and my reflections now.

I Was Looking Forward To Four Things:

    World of Warplanes: Vought F7U Cutless

The Cutless was my favorite tier 10 at launch, and was supposed to be my first end game plane. Its defensive handling and speed made it a great choice. But I ran into two problems. One is that the Corsair line has been perpetually underpowered in the game. It is unrealistically nerfed in its speed and handling, and tends to be one of the worst choices to fly at tiers 7-8 (where the grind kicks in). So while I unlocked the tier 7, I never went beyond that. It sits in the hanger, gathering dust. The more serious problem though, was Warplanes population struggles. While things are better now, its still hard to find any sort of decent size match above tier 7, and anytime they do a special (like the one that has been going on the last month) its impossible to play anything other than the tiers directed (in this case, tier 4) because that is where everyone congregates. Its good for the overall health of the game to get people together, and there is no real need for a tier 10 yet, but still, it is frustrating. I have used free XP to unlock and upgrade the FJ-1 Fury, at tier 9, and one that is probably better suited for my play style than the Corsairs were.

    Elder Scrolls Mania

I think I spent just about half the year on subscription for Elder Scrolls Online. I continue to believe it to be a great MMO. But it is almost exclusively used by me for playtime with my brother, and the last two months have been nuts for both of us. We talked this week and are anxious to make a return to the game in the coming weeks. Part of my joy is the flexibility in playstyles. Its not unusual for me to have a different weapon and skill set equipped each night. Oh and the crafting…my word the crafting. I collect crafting styles like some people collect stamps. Or pets. Or achievements. Yeah, lets go with those.

    Playing Old RPG Franchises

I tried Wizardry 7. Oi. Character creation alone was crazy frustrating to me. So I figured maybe I went toooo far back in time, ya know? So I picked up Might and Magic 10 on sale, and it was a bust too. So I tried M&M7 again. Also a bust. The magic just wasn’t there. And that’s when I realized the problem wasn’t that I had gone too far back, but that I hadn’t gone far enough. So, I busted out some Might and Magic 2. Its still hard as hell, but at least my expectations are in line with reality. And I don’t have to deal with an inventory system from hell – Might and Magic 2 restricts every character to 12 items – six equipped and six in the backpack.

MM2

And character creation evokes the feeling of classic tabletop dice rolling for some reason.

...can't quite put my finger on why.
…can’t quite put my finger on why.

So, nostalgia enjoyed, thanks again NWC and Van Canegham for making a timeless classic!

    The Return of WoW

Yeah, not so much. Not sure why, but by the time release rolled around, any enthusiasm I felt was completely nonexistent. I couldn’t tell you why, as I’ve said before, I think WoW today is much improved from when I last played regularly (2007-2008), but apparently, for me, that ship has sailed.

I Had Three Burning Questions:

    What Will Come of Wildstar?

It came, it saw, it had some success. But I wondered if it would have some impact on the MMO landscape. And quite frankly, I don’t think it did. It certainly did not aim to be groundbreaking in style, graphics, or gameplay, but I think they did want to bring back some of that old subscription magic. And for me at least, they did not (though I would argue that, again *for me*, ESO did manage to do just that)

    Will ArchAge Be Arriving in 2014

This was bizarre. After months and months of dragging feet, Trion finally put their full wait behind this thing and shoved it right out the door, along with a hefty preorder price tag. The long wait time, sudden ramp up, and ridiculous pricing levels muted my enthusiasm. I had hoped that this would be the next big thing, but the mindless development enslavement to PvP and propensity for people to be jackasses (ie, gank helpless players), doomed this game to a dark corner. Oh, sorry, “niche market”, that’s the spin we want to put on it. Sad.

    How Will WarThunder’s Ground Game Hold Up Against World of Tanks?

Boy is this one the opposite of my other questions. Ground Forces is, for me, an unqualified success. I have all but abandoned World of Tanks in favor of what I see as superior graphics, superior gameplay, and superior dedication to historical sensibility. I had no idea this was coming but I’m the happier for it. And while the game still has its struggles at times, the plane/tank crossover in one client has actually siphoned flying time away from WoWp as well. This is a case in point for why I do these articles. I had no idea 12 months ago I would be this deep in WT.

I Had Two Places I Wanted To Return To:

    EVE Online

I played again, I loved the visuals all over again. And once again, I quit after a month, because…well, I was bored again. There has never been a prettier game with less to do for those who came looking for an MMORPG. I think EVE is probably best classified as an MMOPBG – massively multiplayer online persistent battle ground. Because for all its wonderful variety, at its heart its a one trick pony. Still – what is it that GMC says? Do one thing and do it well? Well that is EVE – they do one thing, and they do it so well that a decade later, nobody else has even come close.

    SWTOR

I’m glad I went back, because I learned something. I learned that the problem I had with TOR was not all the random side quests. It was the story quests themselves. The terrible face choices and the arbitrary light side/ dark side assignation drove me away more than the slow gameplay and group advancement did. So when the 12x XP event happened last December, I literally laughed. I can’t think of anything less enticing to me than to say “just come and play for the story.” I probably have a stash of cash now, and who knows, maybe one day I will go back and putz around again, but right now, I have lost any latent desire or nostalgia that was present.

***

So there ya go. I’m in a different place on War Thunder, Eve Online, ArchAge, and SWTOR than I was a year ago. Stay tuned for the 2015 time capsule coming in the next couple of days to a blog near you (ie, this one!)

Stable of Heroes

So Rowan has a nice post on character names, and it galvanized me to finally write a post I’ve been meaning to do for a long time (having the day off helps too). Like Rowan, I have a character name or two that I tend to reuse. Actually more than that. I have a host of them, each for a specific purpose, and most of them modeled off of Jungian archetypes.

So for example, I have a character named Erhlinger in many of my games. Ehrlinger is dark. Often a rebel, he (or at times, she) does not fit in with the culture he grew up in. He craves power, but for protection and security of self against the perception of a world that has declared war on him personally. There is opportunity for growth and learning and perhaps even a chance to play the hero, but it will take the impact of others around him and the shared experiences of that adventure. So how does that change from game to game?

Well, in Everquest, that’s my Erudite Shadowknight, in World of Warcraft, my Forsaken Rogue. So the specifics of race and background change from game to game and setting to setting, but some core part of the character remains. And that creative tension is sometimes nice. In Everquest, the character has access to some pretty strong magic. In Warcraft, not so much. How does that change the character and their outlook? And that’s just one example.

Ehrlinger the Erudite Warlock from EQ2, running to the rescue!
And then there is Ehrlinger the Erudite Warlock from EQ2, running to the rescue!

Its a lot of fun then, for me, to approach new games and newly created characters (one of the reasons I have altitis, obviously).

Its also one of the reasons I really enjoy a sandbox game. The truth is that even a really good writer could not give me a story as interesting or compelling as the ones that I am making up as I go with all that rattling around in my head. I need a good set of lore and a stage on which to play it all out.

Do I ever have “new” heroes? Yep, you betchya! Sometimes the game just calls for it, or I want to take a break from playing with my usual toys. And then, if those are fun and good enough, I add them into the stable of heroes to pull from again later. And then sometimes I break out an old favorite. Ehrlinger hasn’t made an appearance in a long time (and he is not the oldest in my stable). When ArcheAge releases, maybe I take him off the shelf, dust him off and play with him again. After all I wanted to do an Occultism/Shadowplay/Vitalism character there…so, consulting the table, that would make him a Doombringer. Well now…how about that? Looks like this time, Ehrlinger is not fighting a losing battle against the world, he is fighting a winning one.

So the rest of the stable? Well there are too many to really go through in a single blog post. But if there is interest, I could from time to time highlight a new hero and some of their various incarnations over the years.

Trion: Still Fumbling With Public Relations Four Years Later

Almost four years ago I got that the infamous email about the Rift Beta. The one that indicated that I had gotten into the Beta, but actually was just announcing that Beta was starting. Fast forward to ArcheAge, a game I want to be in so badly that I created a mail.ru account so I could play on the Russian server, but not quite so bad that I was willing to pay $150 for the Alpha test. And, so, fast forward to this new email 10 days ago, a week before the first Beta event:

ArcheAge Closed Beta starts next week – reserve your spot today!

That’s fairly normal. But since the cheapest Beta package is going for $50 (and honestly, as I’ve mentioned before, its a terrible deal value wise), which is more than I have paid for any MMO since I don’t know when, and since I already get to play it (albeit without understanding much of what is going on around me), that’s not happening. But, the email reminds me, you don’t have to buy in, people will be selected. I was probably one of the first people to sign up with Trion for information, and I’ve Alpha and Beta tested for them before, so I figured I probably had a good shot at the Beta. And sure enough, I got this email a few days later:

Closed Beta begins…right now

Yes….Closed Beta! It begins RIGHT NOW…oh…no. Yes, it begins RIGHT NOW. But NOT FOR ME. Because SURPRISE, WE STILL SUCK AT PUBLIC RELATIONS. Yeesh.

Look, I am not upset that I didn’t get in. I’ve seen more of the game than most. I just don’t like gettin’ my chain yanked. Twice. By the same company. And this time I’m sure there will be no Scott Hartsman riding in on a white horse to save the day.

Thinking Forward

So things have been slow around here. I was gone for two weeks, that was part of it. Part of it is that my growing congregation has had me hopping since January (we are getting near the point of needing to hire another staff person). Part of is is that I continue to spend most of my time in WoWp, which is of little interest to the wider world of MMO players.

Well, outside of testing time, most of which is under NDA. So, that doesn’t help either.

I have spend a little time here, because Trion is taking *way* too long...
I have spend a little time here, because Trion is taking *way* too long…

In an effort to get back on track a little, and ease back into the writing process, I’m going to do a series of brief posts called “Five for Friday.” It may be five thoughts, five arguments, five counterarguments, a list of five favorites, or five not so favorite things. Something along those general lines. And, it will be on Fridays (obviously), with the first one coming tomorrow (barring disastrous circumstances).

Hope you all are having fun in your respective game worlds. I know I have been enjoying mine.

Meanwhile, In Korea…

ArcheAge receives a level cap increase and a skill revamp. Here in America, we get…

An official game site that has not been updated in at least the last 13 months (that I’ve been checking), and that links to three fan sites, two of which are dead. Actually, I take that back, Trion did update their Beta website recently…to look exactly like the official site I linked above. Can you update to something over a year old? Is that really an update?

Here is a screen shot of the new website...that I originally uploaded 356 days ago.
Here is a screen shot of the new website…that I originally uploaded 356 days ago.

That third fan site is actually pretty good and strong, with a nice set of forums and updates as the sparse trickle of information comes. But a quick glance at the forums will tell you that most of them have given up and gone on to find ways to play in Korea (protip: not as easy or legal as you might think or hope – believe me, I’ve looked into it) or have given up on waiting at all.

I’m about in the same place myself. Even if ArcheAge is the only MMO ever with a “Writer” class.

Time Capsule 2014

I really liked the format last year and enjoyed coming back to it. So the concept will go on for another year, but with a new name to better reflect what I’m looking to do.

The truth is, this post is a time capsule. I mark this place to show where I was at in my thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires, and questions at the beginning of the year. That is what is fun for me. So there are basically three sections below. The first deals with my hopes and desires for the coming year – what I want to accomplish or would like to see come to pass. The second is staking out, in the grand blogging tradition, what games I will return to to try again or just to enjoy again. And the third is my list of burning questions – my musings and ponderings about what 2014 might hold.

The Crypt of Civilization, the world’s most ambitious time capsule, and one of the inspirations of this post.

What I Am Looking Forward To

The Vought F7U Cutless. I’ve played around on the WoWp test server with enough of the high tier aircraft to know that I was made for this plane. Originally the fastest of the tier 10 jets, that has been eclipsed by the new British line. But, unlike its real world counterpart, this plane handles like a dream. I have led a two plane chase column from one end of a high tier map to the other without getting shot down, because of its incredible pitch and roll rates. It also has decent firepower and a great climb rate, making it the perfect ending to a line that already has those traits going for it. I’m finishing up the F4F Wildcat right now, and then its on to the Corsair for a couple of tiers, before transitiong to the F6U Pirate, the only hiccup in the line. It follows a bit too closely to its real world counterpart. And quite frankly, its an odd choice – the line would more logically go through the F2H Banshee, a production aircraft, rather than the Pirate.

In any case, this is probably my first planned foray up the tech tree in WoWp, along with the Messerschmitt line culminating in the severely OP Me 262 mark 3. Because you can’t ignore the OP stuff in the world of PvP. You could also include in this that I am overall looking forward to a growing player base for WoWp.

Elder Scrolls Mania. I got Skyrim for Christmas and have been enjoying it – except for the random murders of important townsfolk that I have no power to stop, which apparently happens at random. And I got to try my hand at the ESO Beta, and while its under NDA, I think it would be okay for me to tell you that I went from being “meh” on it to being very excited for it. I am not excited about a subscription fee, but I honestly don’t see that lasting more than about six months time. How about you?

Playing Old RPG Franchises. I picked up Wizardry 6-8 from Steam over the holidays. I was a Might and Magic fan growing up and just didn’t have the money to follow both series. So I’ve always wanted to go back and try it out, and that is exactly what I intend to do – at the bargain basement price of $2.75, which I could have afforded even back then, had they been on sale that low! Speaking of Might and Magic, UBI continues to develop MMX: Legacy, and I will continue to watch and wait eagerly, thought I have not been ready yet to drop the $30 they want for early access and testing on Steam. I may not be able to contain myself much longer though. Speaking of which, my other holiday Steam purchase was Conquest of Elysium 3, by the same people that created Dominions 3 and most recently just released Dominions 4. It takes more of an RPG flavor than the grand strategic scale of Dominions, but there is no denying the connections between the two. Speaking of which, you can now also get Dom 3 for a mere $20 on Steam. I absolutely guarantee that this game is worth its original asking price of 3x that amount. I can also include the Agarest series on here, as hopefully Ghostlight makes more of them available on Steam. The game got a terrible rap for confusing combat and its supposedly heavy fan service. So far I’ve seen less fan service than your typical Bong movie, and the combat is quite excellent – thought if you jumped the tutorial because the game looked a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics, I can imagine you got your butt handed to you more than once. The game looks the same but the system is very, very different.

I could have included this in my “Return To” section below, but I tend to think of that as more in the realm of MMO’s.

The Return of WoW. I am excited about the possibilities of the new expansion (especially the base/home), and the inclusion of a max level character. I have actually been playing around on my free WoW account some over the holidays. It seems strange to say it in some ways, but I firmly believe that WoW is a better game now than it was when I left it 5 years ago. At this point, unless ESO just absolutely grabs me by the head and won’t let go, I intend to spend a few months in Azeroth towards the end of the year (assuming that is inded when it drops).

Burning Questions for 2014

What Will Come of Wildstar? I’m not sure it can be said loudly or clearly enough, but Wildstar wants to be the WoW killer. From the art style to the considered goals, to the planning of races and classes, the goal can’t be seen as anything other than an attempt to invade the fertile subscription lands that WoW occupies. Maybe its just me, but when I hear ESO talk subs, I think its just a placeholder to recoup costs. When I hear Wildstar say it (perhaps because of the announcement of its version of Plex/Kronos), I think they intend to stick with it. I can’t help but think they will fail. I have no ill will to the game really, though I do think its a major step backwards to limit your race/class combos, so I’m not looking to be right here in the vindictive sense, but I just can’t imagine what it is about this game that will make it a lasting presence on the MMO landscape. On the other hand, I felt the same way about Guild Wars 2…

Will ArcheAge Be Arriving in 2014? Its been out for a year over in Korea. Its in testing with players over in RU as we speak. Yet we have nothing more than a basic placeholder site and zero information about release dates or just about anything else with regards to a timeline here. I submitted a question for the Game On Podcast (about the PR machine) and Victor Barreiro seems to think that Hartman was encouraging, but I was disappointed with the overall lack of response, not just on my question but on the game overall. One the one hand, the game is ready – just translation issues remain. On the other hand, we can’t give any further information or dates or even a range of dates. If we can’t give a range of dates even on a PR buildup, I have to think the game is really far off. Any yet I can’t imagine that if all that is remaining is the final stage of localization, that it would be on hold for another full year. The bottom line here is that this is my next big game that I have great hopes for, and the sooner it gets here, whether that be to fulfill my expectations or dash them, the better I will be.

How Will WarThunder’s Gound Game Hold Up Against World of Tanks? WarThunder’s vision is ambitious. Put planes and tanks together on the same battlefield. I can’t think that this will be easy to implement or balance, let along do those two things while making it fun to play. So I’m curious to see how it plays out. WarThunder and WoWp are different enough that they draw their own individual crowds, but there is something about the ground game that will be interesting to watch play out. Maybe just because Wargaming has more to lose than Gaijin does. Then again, WoT is the WoW of the military battleground world. Their position is going to be tough enough to assail without the added design complications that Gaijin is imposing on itself.

Return To…

I’ve pondered this one a lot over the past few weeks. Initial thoughts included Age of Conan, Dark Age of Camelot, or Neverwinter Nights. But NWN still doesn’t have a class that really drives me to want to play the game. Conan I got as far as downloaded and taking my old character out for a test drive, but an hour later I was done. So done. Dark Age is an old title, but with the coming of Camelot Unchained, I thought it might be fun to play for a bit and do a compare contrast as the year brings more information. Still, it is dated and we may still be a ways from Camelot Unchained. Plus, as a divided market now intends – it is still a subscription game, and that means there is a barrier to entry there that other options don’t have.

In the end, I thought about what I wanted out of the experience. I said to myself that these will be long term, but part time efforts. I have main, “every night” kind of games, but I want games I can “marathon” in – play one or two nights a week, draw the experience out for a year and really enjoy it and not feel like I have to log in every night to keep the world turning. With that in mind, I settled in on two:

EVE Online. On a whim, because I loved the idea and what was inside, and boosted by Wilhelm‘s glowing review of it, I placed the EVE Second Decade Collector’s Edition on my Christmas Wish List. I honestly didn’t think I would get it, but…what the hell, it was Christmas, right? Well my parents spoiled me, and I absolutely love it. The Rifter looks great on my desk, and I’m super excited about the board game, which looks like fun. And the soundtrack and history book are absolutely worth the price alone. And the game itself is perfect for the drop in/drop out mentality now that I think about it. I’ve always been desperate to fill time in EVE – but the long time EVE players like Kirith Kodachi and even Wilhelm, don’t seem to be people who play it every day. Maybe my pacing has just been off. If nothing else, I always enjoy just flying in space. While there is a subscription barrier here as well, but I think its worth it given my past experience with the game.

SWTOR. I have decided after long consideration to hit the reset button on SWTOR. I never did get past the starter planets on the side of the Republic. I would love to see the other half of the galaxy. And the idea of just following the storyline, and filling in the blanks with the minigame, ducking the sometimes irritating side missions – which also cuts down on the overly long leveling cycle, particularly towards the end. And, free to play, very good if I’m burning my two sub limit on ESO and EVE.

I don’t like that SWTOR under-reached for their Galactic Starfighter expansion, I think it was dumb and yet another let down, on top of being blatant plagiarism. But while I think that, I’m more interested in blogging about my experience in the game, than spending more time shredding them for the move. In other words, it sucks for the MMO world but it benefits me, so I’m gonna roll with it.

Am I Done With MMO’s?

I was reading through the list of BioBreak’s poll: “What upcoming MMO’s are you dying to play?” I fully expected to be checking several boxes, but as I went through the list I realized the answer might be one he didn’t have on there.

None of the Above.

The list is underwhelming to me. TESO looks to be a group based dungeon crawler, instead of the sandbox experience we have all come to love in the series. And Syp is right when he ponders that maybe this was the wrong focus – instead maybe we should have gotten a new TES game with the ability to invite a few friends along for the ride (This was the impetus behind Two Worlds, which remains an under-appreciated game, if for not reason other than that alone).

I also skipped over all the games that are not MMORPG’s, but rather online shooters (Firefall, Valkyrie, DayZ). Not that I won’t come to enjoy them, but they are not MMO’s in my mind. I also dropped out a few others for the same reason. My enjoyable days in Shadowbane are the exception rather than the rule to my usual playstyle, so Camelot Unchained is not on the list. Pathfinder and WildStar are two games that are baffling to me – I have no idea why they are getting the attention and generating the excitement that they are. Maybe somebody needs to explain it to me? Same with EQN I suppose.

Transformers Universe gives me heartburn. We’ve been begging for the IP to be used in an MMO for years and instead all we’ve gotten is some MOBA PvP crap. Do people really think that Transformers nostalgists (who will spend any amount of money on old toys and cons) are also hardcore PvPer’s? Is there no limit to how out of touch a developer and investor can be?

The Repopulation gets a nod for its hardline sandbox design, but setting wise, I’m just not a fan. As Wilhelm has mentioned before, simulated sword fights are a little easier to make believe with than simulated gunfights where you know that one shot would normally do the trick.

ArcheAge is about the only thing on the list I’m interested in, and I know its at least another year off. So while I’m interested, I’m tempering it with patience and a dose of “wait and see” for how all that PvP is handled (does the judge, jury, jail system really work?) and what cultural translation issues are going to crop up.

Is this it for me?

Even Rift has not been as engaging this time around. Last time I couldn’t wait to log in, this time I do it, and enjoy it, and enjoy the company in it. But I have no burning desire to log in on an off night and do a few Rifts or dailies.

Shortcuts for TSW and EQ2 are also currently sitting on my desktop gathering dust.

Maybe I’m just not phased in right, maybe I’m not in the mood. Maybe Tanks has become that one game for me. Or maybe I’m just done with MMO’s. I don’t know.

Somewhere within me though, a voice says that I’m not done, and that I need to rediscover some of the fun that I was having before. I’m not quite sure how to do that, but I would like to. Maybe its time to experiment a bit and see what I come up with. Because if anything is going to generate some excitement from me, for the time being, its going to be something that’s already available.

Like Attracts Like: Trion Announces It Will Publish ArcheAge

Plato was right it seems.  I commented on a Jake Song interview about ArcheAge Online awhile back that they sounded like they had great plans and all their ducks in a row, and that it seemed remarkably similar to the way Trion operated.  And that that was a very good thing.

 

And today we learned that the ball has started rolling towards bringing us ArcheAge in the west – and that Trion will be the ones doing the rolling.

 

Don’t give me too much credit though.  I started my musings on a Western developer by deciding that Trion wouldn’t touch it, because of the similarities to Rift and development style.  Boy was I wrong, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier about a gaming mistake I’ve made than right now.

 

You can read further details here.   Including the interesting news that ArcheAge, like Vanguard, is using separate continents in the game world to divide art styles.  In other words, if you like the game but aren’t a fan of Manga….ArcheAge has a continent for you.

Peering Into The Crystal Ball For 2013

I’ve been pondering the new year a bit.  Predictions aren’t terribly fun (for me anyway).  Looking back to last year, I am still stunned at how quickly TOR crashed and burned, both within the gaming sphere and for me personally.  I was schlumping along with my rifle and my companion one day and the next day I just looked around and went…man, is this it?

 

Certainly doesn't *look* very epic...
Certainly doesn’t *look* very epic…

 

So I thought maybe instead, I would record everything I am looking forward to in the coming year.  Then I can come back next year with some wisdom and hindsight and laugh and make obscene hand gestures at myself for how dumb or idealistic I was.  I get to write the schtick that so many people seem to eat up, but nobody gets a face-full of pie but myself.  A win-win.

 

I Am Looking Forward To:

 

Hearing More About ArcheAge Online and Possible Release Dates

 

With Russian and American publishers confirmed (but not yet disclosed), we know this wide open sandbox title is headed our way.  We don’t yet know when, thought it’s debut in Korea occurred yesterday.  A few computer done translations of the website yielded no new information, other than there was a brief server outage today that players are being compensated for, and that there are several contests wrapping up and starting off.  And that they are offering, out of the gate, a 10 hour free trial.   That last is interesting – it is rare for new MMO’s to give away trials when they are so desperate for sales.  Its an indication of the game’s confidence level.

 

no place like home

 

For those who don’t know any thing about ArcheAge, you can read some of my previous posts on here.  The sandbox elements are what draws me.  The manga/eastern style is probably off-putting to some, but I enjoy the stylized, over-the-top caricatures that it brings with it.  (Nobody seems to get that the whole point of the style is self-depreciating, but that’s a rant for another time I suppose.)  In particular, the idea that your character is comprised of you choice of three of ten skillsets is quite welcome.  Imagine Rift, only you can combine any three souls from any of the classes.   Mostly though, everything about XL Games screams quality, polish and dedication (much like Trion as well I might add).  I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing more – and, hopefully, getting a chance to play it myself.

 

Expanding My Tier 10 Garage

 

I qualified for my free t-shirt by virtue of the fact that I knew from late in Beta that I was going to concentrate most of my time and energy on the American Heavy Tanks line, followed by the Russian Medium Tanks line.  So I already had a T30 in my garage when the changes went down to the US Heavies.  The end result was that my T30 became a tier 9 Tank Destroyer, I got a free copy of the T34 tier 8 premium, and I have the much-in-demand T110E5.  With the addition of tier 10 tanks for every category though, I have been working on getting that T30, along with my T-54 (tier 9 USSR Medium) up to the top of the stables as well.   I am very close.  The T-54 will be wrapped up in the next two weeks, and the T-30 will be done in the next month or so.  I’ve taken a good hard look at what two lines I want to work next, and decided to put my energy towards the two Russian Heavy lines, culminating in the IS-4 and IS-7.  I’ve been saving my Free XP for quite awhile, and I have enough to skip the miserable KV-4 and head directly to the underrated ST-1.   And the IS-3 is getting me XP like I would have never believed.  As much as I have enjoyed (and done fairly well with) US Heavies, the IS-3 fits like a glove.  I have an 85% win rate in it, and it doesn’t look like a First or Ace class Mastery badge is all that far off.

 

Top to Bottom, Left to Right:  T11oE5, T110E4, T-62A, IS-4, IS-7
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: T11oE5, T110E4, T-62A, IS-4, IS-7

 

In other words – in a year’s time, my garage of tier 10 tanks will have expanded from one – to five.  Already I’ve started the process of looking at potential Clans for Clan Wars, even as Wargaming announces that they will  be spending a significant amount of resources to expanding and polishing that portion of the end game.

 

And that’s not all.  I’m also halfway through tier 8 on US Mediums and German Heavies as well.  I could end the year with more than I bargained for.

 

Nostalgia:  Vanguard

 

One of the things that I really thought I wanted to do is take some time, perhaps one night a week, or one weekend a month, and visit some familiar places.   But the more I thought about all that I had played or recently played, the only one I really had a passion to go back and visit currently is Vanguard.  The Druid class in the game is one of my all time favorites in terms of gameplay.  And the world of Telon…well, it has the late, great Keith Parkinson’s fingerprints all over it.

 

I’m curious to see how the game has fared, what the leveling experience is like (I’m in the lower 20’s if I remember correctly), and if they finally fixed the stupid log in bug.  It was still active two years post-launch.   I generally get nostalgic for Vanguard this time of year.  It was at this time that I was playing it, and enjoying the seasonal flying mount (Randolph the Flying Reindeer, of course).  After a few months though, our little group lost its tank, and EVE beckoned with a free trial.

 

The odd thing about Vanguard, is that as I recall the interviews Brad McQuaid gave about the vision of the game, back in the day, at that time, I said: “No way would I ever play a game like that – too hardcore for me.”   Now though, I look beyond that to some of the things he wanted to implement, and think, wow, how sweet would that be?  Things like having the global chat channel only open to Psionicists, and not at 1st level, but as a later passive ability.   Or that Druids would have high end abilities to control the weather, able to force rain on the server itself.   And even some of those abilities that were implemented – like the Bard crafting its own songs as its slate of abilities – are a breath of fresh air in stale MMO diatribes everywhere.   Many of the things that Vanguard wanted to pull off – boats, housing, diplomacy, detailed crafting systems – are things that are surfacing also in ArcheAge.  Assuming we get it here in North America this year – doing a compare/contrast would be a fairly interesting exploration.

 

Battlefield 3

 

Don’t tell my regular Monday night gaming partners…but my interest in BF3 is waning quickly.  After a year of blazing good times in it, and after several expansions, I’m mostly frustrated these days.   I’m done with servers with 1500 spawn tickets, which invariably end with one team spawn camping the other for the last 500 kills.  And I’m just not all that interested in the latest expansion.  If it weren’t for some new maps to hopefully breath some fresh air into the game, I probably wouldn’t buy it at all.  I’ll be curious to see how long this lasts, and what the future brings.  It may be that Nostalgia night replaces Shooter night in the HZero household in 2013.

 

Star Trek Online

 

I haven’t logged in since before Christmas.  My guild, whom I was enjoying time with, had stalled out in the building process for our Starbase, and queued a bunch of projects that were dilithium only – and I don’t spend dilithium on things that I can use in game items and currency on.   So I had nothing to do really, other than grind my diplomacy level, and that got old after awhile.   I am watching  closely for the three year anniversay, in high hopes that the Ambasssador Class will finally make it into the game.  And for the release of whatever season finally allows us to use all these bridge officers I have stashed in every corner of my UI and inventory to crew the half dozen ships that are in dry dock right now.  The game is headed in the right direction for sure, but for right now, I’m just not as interested.   But I think its still one of my long term committments – so I’m curious to see how I feel about the game when it nears its four year anniversary!

 

Smaller Questions…

 

Will the small indy developed sandboxes of Dawntide and Project Gorgon be revived?  I’d like for them too…

Will some unexpected MMO suck me in this year, much as STO did last year?

Will we finally see some information on Titan or Everquest 3?

Is there any chance of me logging into TOR in 2013?

Will Wildstar be the unmitigated failure I think it will be?

 

Only time will tell.