IMMD

 

That’s the first time I’ve laughed out loud at game text in a loooong time.  Not entirely sure, but I I think it could be a subtle jab at WoW (Warhammer 40k developers – take note!).  I haven’t logged on in two days now, both from feeling ucky and from losing my brother to The Guild 2.

Hopefully I can manage to get in tonight.  I’d love to do some of that Iron Man stuff in the new EQ2X…

Game (and Health) Updates

Well, its been a pretty miserable week.  I have discovered that shingles carries with it a host of unknown reactions.  I’ve experienced pain, true, and not to the level that some have I know.  But I’ve also had odd things happen – random long term repeated muscle spasms, burning sensations in random places, sweating on the side with the rash but not on the side without, numbness, restlessness, and trouble concentrating.

So between trying to get  the bare minmum done to keep my job afloat, sleeping alot, and taking alot of meds, I haven’t had a whole lot of lucid, pain free time.  But I did manage to log a decent number of hours last week, mostly playing with my brother as he rediscovers the world of Fallen Earth.

Wolverines!

I managed to pack in five levels, along with my first real sword, first real gun, and first real horse, all crafted by yours truly.  All quite satisfying.  But Fallen Earth itself, while fun and at times quite beautiful, is basically in a state of permanent beta.  The first time I pulled the trigger on my shiny new revolver – nothing happened.  Sometimes my character randomly holsters his weapons and tries to go fisticuffs on a mob.  I activated a clone mutation buff and ended up trailing sparkles for the next half hour.  And the lack of information, while at times exciting, can also be frustrating.  I finally, after completing four of the sector one towns, broke down and bought the only weapon crafting book I was missing.  Only to get it in the next town.  So I sold it for a pittance with storage space at a premium.  Only to discover a short while later that you can turn in sets of books you are not using for XP.  Oi.

In between, I logged some time in the new Free to Play version of Everquest 2.   I am terribly excited about it and fully intend to ride that horse till its dead.  I will probably also pay for a silver membership at some point.  I have some station cash from buying the last EQ2 expansion, and I hadn’t really found anything to use it on, and it would be nice to lift some of those restrictions.  I have found the renewed starter areas to be well done – kudos especially on reducing the annoying factor in the Fey starting area from an 11 to about a 2.

And as for EVE?  Well my sub lapsed halfway through the week, and I haven’t renewed it yet because I knew I wouldn’t be logging on during the week.  But I do plan to set that puppy up again.  I had just finished PI training, so its time to move back to the corporate stomping grounds with a satchel full of Amarr Starship Datacores and start grinding missions again.

Meanwhile, I continue to be intrigued by all of your great posts.  I will in the next day or so try to add in a few more blog links – there are some of you that have been active here that I havent added yet, and I need to do so.   And my health continues to be day to day.  I woke up this morning in a hell of a lot of pain, took alot of ibuprofen and went back to sleep – only to wake up an hour later in more pain that I started with.

Rest assured I will be doing some limited posting this week, and hope to return full bore next week.  So many games, so little time…

EQ2 Watch

Well sitting at home sick does allow one some extra play time.   One of the things I’ve been doing is keeping an eye out for the beta release of EQ2 F2P client.  Originally targetted for an August 17th release date, things look like they’ve been held up abit.  Along with that was a delay in the release of GU57.  Now that the GU57 release notes are out, its easy to see why*:

  •  
    • More classes are now neutral:
    • Neutral: Troubador, Dirge, Ranger, Assassin, Templar, Inquisitor, Fury, Warden, Coercer, Illusionist, Wizard, Warlock, Bruiser, Monk, Guardian, and Berserker
    • When you start a new character you will have Apprentice spells. This spell tier along with Journeyman will have a beginner level of FX in both size and quantity. Later when you acquire Adept or Expert versions of the spells the level of FX will increase. Finally when you acquire Master and Grandmaster versions of the spells you will experience the full FX force of that spell.
    • All classes have had certain key abilities removed – they will no longer receive them automatically

You and I both know what provoked these changes.  F2P does, will, and will continue to have an effect on the non-F2P version of EQ2.  The move to additional neutral classes is fine I think.  The future of Norrath was a little too…black and white for my tastes anyway.  The past of Norrath (EQOA, my original stomping grounds) was a little more muddied and I think this helps move the lore back in that direction.   The changes in spell FX and graphics is probably fine as well.  As EQ2 gets older and older, its going to need more and more facelifts.  And this will help with that, while also driving a little incentive to pay for upgrades on the free program.

But the last group is where I draw the line.  One of the absolutely great things about EQ2 is the ability to “stay in the field” – not losing people in a group session (or solo for that matter) to have to return to town to buy abilities – and – this is my fear – to remove those abilities from the F2P version unless one is willing to shell out a little more cash.  Those abilities?  Primarily Taunts.  That key mechanic that makes groups function.   And Intercept – another primary group mechanic.

Secondary to that is my own particular beef with the current trend in the evolution of EQ2.  Note the following changes that I imagine many players skipped right over or perhaps even applauded:

  •  
    • The Guardian ability “Shield Bash” is now “Bash” and no longer requires a shield.
    • Priests will no longer receive the spell “Summon Food and Water.”
    • Summoners: “Aqueous Stone” is now “Aqueous Soul” and no longer summons an item that grants water breathing. It now simply casts water breathing on the target.
    • “Hunker Down” no longer snares the caster.
    • “Wall of Rage” no longer snares the caster
    • The Berserker ability “Body Check” no longer requires a shield.
    • All versions of Will of the Heavens can now be cast while the monk is feared.
    • “Heroic Dash” no longer requires a shield or symbol to be equipped.
    • “Hateful Slam” no longer requires a shield or symbol to be equipped.
    • Mages will no longer gain “Bind Sight” automatically. It is now a fun spell and can be bought from the class trainers.

Ladies and gentlemen, all of those changes can be filed under one category:  loss of roleplaying opportunities.  Loss of fluff.  Sacrifice for the sake of mechanics and only mechanics.  I will always lament those, and I will always rage against them.  They will cause the death of your game.  Laugh all you want to.  EQ2 is at its heart an MMORPG.  And many of the players come not for the MMO, but for the RPG.

Its hard to put into words but a game needs have a certain amount of…synergy.  Synergy between the crunch and the fluff.  Between the mechanics and the lore.  Dissociate the two and problems begin to crop up.  You game loses its “soul” or it becomes difficult (or boring) to play.

The solution?  Those second set of changes should not have just been “removed” or had the fluff removed.   Instead they needed to be retooled to make them effective in (all the) way(s) they were originally intended to be.  If the beneficial effects granted by a spell or skill were not balanced well enough against the disadvantage of a self root – then fix the balance.  Don’t throw the the baby out with the bathwater.

That being said, there is something to balance out my disappointment.  Its a salve that doesn’t fix the problem but that does ease the pain a bit.

  •  
    • Weapon appearance slots are no longer restricted to being the same wield style of your equipped weapons.
    • Appearance slots are no longer restricted to levels 20 and higher.

As always, since we are simple consumers, and in the word of MMO’s, just a small group among thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, we take the good with bad.  At least, if we can’t get a synergistic EQ2, we can have the next best thing:  one we can mold a bit in our image, and that’s free to boot.

* I got my personalized invitation to the launch of EQ2X at 9:20pm CST this evening after posting this in the morning.  Dang I’m good.

Should Vanguard Go F2P?

This started as a comments discussion on The Ancient Gaming Noob’s page about EQ2’s move to F2P, and is quickly expanding.  And my general rule is: your blog, you get the last word.  Its a reasonable assumption, and I think Wilhelm made his points well.  But I want to continue to expand my thoughts on the subject.  And here, I get the last word! Bwahaha!

@HZ – But you’re missing the point. That there is little in the way of downside is nice, but there is no real pay off likely for investing in Vanguard. And without a pay off, what is the point?

Do you really believe that if Vanguard went to this new model, that it would attract enough new players to not only pay for all the work and additional overhead, but would also make a profit on top of that.

…Vanguard, like a lot of games, has a small, loyal following, but it is never going to have more than that. Be happy that SOE keeps it alive at all.

…The game is not poised for success, lacking only in customers. It is a basket case and, having gone back to play it again in April, it still feels about like it did on day one.*

I don’t really care at this point whether or not Sony keeps it or tosses it, because I’m not a subscriber, and I won’t be unless something changes.  Not that I hate Vanguard (there’s few, okay, maybe no MMO’s that I just plain hate) but its not worth $15 a month – primarily because of the lack of playerbase.  This was, as I see it, the same problem that DDO faced before it went F2P.

Basically the quote above makes three assumptions to reach its conclusion.  We’ll take them one at a time:

Assumption #1:  Transitioning Vanguard to F2P requires a significant investment of time, money, and energy.

I believe this is a false assumption.  What resources are needed to make Vanguard F2P?  We can be reasonably certain that Sony did not decide to make the jump to F2P for EQ2 until they saw the success of DDO.  And DDO’s success was not certain until signaled by Turbines willingness to move LotRO to F2P.  That move came less than two months ago – and EQ2 F2P is already up and running as an Alpha, with Beta coming in 3 weeks time.  If Sony can roll out an entire reboot of EQ2 in that time period, there can be no real argument for what little work would need to go into Vanguard.  Even with far less developers supporting it!

Assumption #2:  Sony would only undertake this venture if it guarenteed profitability for Vanguard

The game is on the ropes, and we all know that.  Current players on the official forums have noted that the game has even less developer support than Matrix Online did before they axed it.  It looks like there may soon be a server merge down to one server, etc.  But Sony – well, say what you will about them, they have a long history of keeping games afloat long after their profitability has passed as a gift to gamers.  A good example would be EQOA.  The PS2 variant of Everquest that I cut my MMO teeth on in 2003 is still up, running, and live.  You cannot in any way convince me that there are enough people there for the game to be profitable, yet it trudges onwards.  So what does Sony have to lose in Vanguard by making a change?  Is it somehow possible that Vanguard would make *less* money if it went F2P?  I can’t imagine that it would.  And even if it did – Sony is already losing money on it, so, what’s the big deal?

Assumption #3:  Vanguard is still only a half-completed game, without the polish and content of DDO

Whew.  I’m not sure what to do with this one.  It was buggy at times when I last played, which was GU #4, but that was over two years ago, and even then, it wasn’t buggy enough that I cancelled my sub because of it, and I CTD more often in EVE than I ever did in Vanguard…

As for content – the one thing I never lacked for in Vanguard was content.  Our little group of three actually was divided for awhile on what content we should be tackling because we had so many choices.  Some of the dungeons, in particular the outdoors one for level ~15 on Qalia, was magnificent.  And you already have prebuilt avenues for revenue in the game – player owned housing, player owned boats, flying mounts, etc.  Each continent is really self contained for quests, etc.  So you could even limit the game that way as well.

So I cannot in any way characterize the game as a basket case.  It works, it works well, and its fun to play and gorgeous to look at.  Furthermore, I can’t imagine that DDO was “poised for success” when it went F2P.  The complaints about DDO were numerous and serious enough that its one of the only major MMO’s that I’ve never tried even on a trial basis!  Amazing isn’t it how those complaints were reduced in light of opening the gates for free play?  We can easily blow downsides out of proportion when we can’t find ways to work around them or live with them – and that can only happen if you are playing the game.  With Vanguards content and player options, I would think there would be enough upside there to entice players into at trying it – not unlike many people’s feelings about DDO when it made this transition.

Bottom Line:  I don’t buy into the assumptions.

I think there are some reasons why Sony decided not to go F2P with Vanguard – probably biggest among them being whatever Live Gamers contract they had for the Exchange in Vanguard.  Perhaps they are still thinking that the games hardware requirements are too steep to intice a large audience.  This may have some truth to it, but I think the game’s requirements are no longer as steep as they once were, given the advances in graphics and core processors in the last couple of years.   But I could still respect that as a legitimate concern in the process.

I think another reason is that Sony didn’t feel like they needed to test the waters, because they felt Turbine had already done this for them.  So they went ahead and jumped in the deep end of the F2P pool.  That may come back to haunt them later on.  Ultimately though I think that this is an issue of corporate shortsightedness.  There is nothing to be lost really by making Vanguard F2P, but they don’t think they will lose anything from EQ2 either.  That too, may be problematic.  Why?

From my viewpoint this is kind of a loss for Sony.  Their flagship game, that I have spent over $100 on this year just made a move that will insure that I don’t spend any money on it next year.  While their game that I would enjoy shelling out for a silver membership + some cash shop upgrades continues to remain out of reach.  The loss for Sony is our gain though, for the time being.  I fully intend to play the heck out of a free EQ2 this fall.  And who knows, maybe if  successful, it will entice them to open up Vanguard as well.

* TAGN is one of my favorite bloggers.  I’ve used his comments as a jumping off point for this post, but I have respect for him and do not intend this as a personal attack.

Christmas in July

Yeah all that snow in Halas made the people at Sony want to give us Christmas early.  Because Everquest II is going F2P.   The tl;dr version is that they are basically relaunching EQ2 as a free game.  Initially you will have access only to four races and eight classes (and two character slots), and will have access to content only up to the expansion before the current one.  However, as with any F2P game, all of that is upgradeable for a few bucks here and there.  The MMO watchword of customizing your character has truly advanced into one of customizing your game.

Found via the Green Tree Gazette (.com of course)

For me, it fits the bill.  I just about got down on my knees and wept for joy.  The restrictions imposed will keep hardcore players running on their servers, but for fun past time, casual players like me, I can play with little or no shell out.  Pardon me again while I go jump for joy and count my blessings.

Also, to be fair, this news came to me as a gift from the ever watchful gaze of the Stylish Corpse.

Welcome to Halas

So I’ve been waiting for Halas to drop (ok I’ve been waiting for Tyrannis to drop too, but not much I can do on planets when I’m dodging t2 war fleets), and I even saved one class to play around with in that time.  I stumbled across the Mystic’s AAs and the ability to dual spec their spells to also function (apparently on a shared timeer) as melee strikes as well.  Genius.  Why haven’t they done that with the defiler as well?  It would make the Shaman overclass much more viable as a whole I think.

Anyway, so I fired up my Woof Elf Mystic, and the name I’ve been squatting on since I resubbed for her – Ghosthawk (an homage to the last Shaman I played – on a WoW RP server).

Not as cold as it looks.

So here’s my rundown of the new starting area thus far:

The Good

The new area is easy to navigate, making questing easy.  And the quests are interesting and have the proper RP fluff nod to good characters, with some nice conversation choices for those who aren’t quite feeling the love.  The starting armor sets are fantastic, themed to look great, and that is a great draw for even older characters.  I saw plenty of high levels mentored down to try out the new areas and collect a great new set of appearence armor (and that excellent 36 slot bank box).  The starter crafting quest is great and useful as well – a nice speed boost and good introduction to see if crafting is something you may want to do.  The story unfolds nicely and the quests move you along at a decent clip.   Overall, there are some nice  things going on here.

The Bad

The nice things going on though, are accompanied by a number of great frustrations.  Some of these will be fixed over time – the spawn rate for fish harvesting is atrocious, to the point of having to stand around waiting for several minutes to wait on one to spawn so you can gather the 3 sunfish needed for the harvesting tutorial quest (speaking of – again with the forcing you to do things you may not want to do – collect 3 of everything, seriously?).   I have a feeling they will also look long and hard at the mob levels, though part of that could be the anemic dps of the Mystic – not helped by the fact that you still have a very weak weapon ten levels in.  My quest reward mace to match the armor has pretty much the same dps as the starter spear.  I thumbed through the old Trial Isle drops and rewards I had stashed in my bank and actually put some of it to use – that should tell you somthing.

The Tilt

One thing I don’t like, but that I acknowledge is merely a matter of taste – I don’t like that you won’t get to New Halas until level 20.  I just don’t, sorry.  The big cities are part of the wonder and draw of these games, and having my way to one blocked until I run a gauntlet of starter quests is just two stepts backwards in my opinion.  At least put in the option to skip over there, as there was in the Trial Isles, or put in an option to slide that way at level 10, as the Timorous Deep area does.

Overall – not bad.  There’s alot there to like.  But I would stop short of calling it the best starter area, and I will snicker at the next dev who says they put everything they learned from earlier starter area failures to use.  You missed a spot or two.  Sorry.

The Gorowyn Myth Revisited

So I went back to Timorous Deep last night from Butcherblock to snoop around and see if I had missed anything.  Turns out I had.  I found a quest from a guy overlooking the backside of the beach and a quest on the docks to take me to Butcherblock.  Both were level 20 quests though.  So I kept digging.

I did find a little.  I hadn’t done any of the city bounty kill quests, and so I was able to earn some status for my guild finally.  And in doing so I stumbled across a well/underwater system that will, I think, yield additional pylons.  But first I’m gonna have to level my crafting and put together a few Totem’s of the Otter.  Useful item to have that thing is.  And while doing gorilla kills I got some panther skin thing that unlocked another quest line. 

So there probably is enough there to get you to level twenty, you just have to be a bit creative.  And that is another of my problems with Timorous Deep.  You have to get super creative with some of the quests.  Take the final Haoaera kill quest.  Just how exactly does one get up there to take him down?  He’s too far back on the cliff to get an angle for ranged weapons or spells.  There is no back route (I know, I wasted 15 minutes climbing mountains all of the island trying to find one).  You *can* get up there, but its takes a bit of platforming ability and good guesswork for find the clipping spots on the hills to duck, dodge, crawl, and jump from crevice to crevice to get up there.   And for me all that was happening after I’d told the supreme enchilada that I wouldn’t kill any more of them.  Honest.  (Okay, well, who are we kidding, I’m playing a Brigand and they paid me, so, whatever).

I need a Totem of the Super Jump

And so I’m sticking with my original assessment.  The bottom line is that I don’t find Timorous Deep to be any easier, smoother, or more rewarding than the original starter areas.  It is better than Kelethin, but anything is better than hearing that little girl and all those faeries whining.

I realize this may start a small blog war with Ysharros.  But its a risk I’m willing to take.  It’ll be like the nervousness of the July Crisis.  (-:  Besides, if the MMO gods didn’t want us all to have differing opinions, they wouldn’t have given us all our own blogs.

The Gorowyn Myth

Brenlo: Well when I said that, I had been drinking . . . Seriously though, we plan to only allow new characters to start in the newer player areas. Timorous, Greater Fay, Darklight and Soon Halas. The new player experience in Qeynos and Freeport are just not up to snuff anymore and do not provide as solid an experience when you enter the game for the first time.

I think the entirety of the Dev team had been drinking (emphasis mine btw).  Clearly they enjoy their dev chats, if nothing else.  But they are also drinking their own koolaid, which is never a good sign for people in leadership positions.

As someone who just went through the Gorowyn experience for the first time, I can tell you – its not any better than the Colony starting areas for Qeynos and Freeport.  In fact, it may just be worse.  And early reports of how New Halas works are terribly confidence lifting either.   Here’s a few of the common reasons I’ve heard that Gorowyn is superior to The Colony as a starting area:

Better equipment.

Okay, well, this one is true, particularly along the lines of DPS.  Whatever revamp of lower level items they did awhile back didn’t really do a whole lot for the Colonies, where they can’t even bother to give you a full matching suit of armor.

Gorowyn has class specific rewards.

No actually, it doesn’t.  It does often gives gear based on archetypes, which may or may not help you.  Along the way, it also double dips rewards and more often that not gives rewards *below* the level of the quest done.  Level 15 quests offer level 12 gear for instance.  At one point, I turned in two quests from the same geographical area and my rewards on both were a choice between a helmet and a wrist slot item.  Both the helmets boosted agility, and both the bracelets boosted wisdom.  One quests bracelet and helmet were better than the other, despite the gear being the same level.  And my Brigand didn’t need a whole lot of wisdom gear, if you know what I’m saying.  There were more rewards alright, but they weren’t there for my class and were redundent as hell.

Gorowyn has an overarching storyline.

Sure it does.  If you complete the quests in the right order.  To do that means that in Mok Rent, at level 11-12, you have to fight your way past level 17 mobs to complete a level 12 quest.  If you’re thinking you might do the other quest line first and come back to that one, as I did, you will find yourself in the odd position of having to kill off bird-men after the supreme commander has told you to lay off of them.  It also means that as one quest giver is getting increasingly bloodthirsty, another is backing off.  I also had to fight a duel with a Sarnak mad that we had stopped attacking the birdmen – before we had stopped attacking the birdmen. 

One line of quests on the beach has you run up and down the same hill 3-4 times.  The story reason is because the supreme commander has not given permission for the sub commander to kill a pirate captain.  Which is odd since two levels before that, a lone Sarnak scout had me kill a pirate captain on the other side of the beach.  Without any orders from any commander at all.

Is there a storyline?  Yes, there is.  Is it better than the Colony/Neighborhood quest lines?  No, not really.

Gorowyn takes you to level 20.

Actually, it only takes you to level 19, which is hella frustrating.  I had to fly to Butcherblock to ding 20.  And that was with my finding the obscure quests hidden in the Timorous Deep zone – the extra intact artifact, the acting as a peace negotiator on the beach, the killing of the Sarnak in the duel, etc.  If you aren’t into reading the fluff, or don’t have someone guiding you through the zone, you could easily fall short of even the 19 mark.

The crafting tutorial is better.

I don’t even know what to say to this.  I skipped it with my second character.  It saves you about 12 silver in books, and gets you to tradeskill 9.  But it makes you create a wide variety of items that will be of absolutely no use to you, that you can only sell for the cost of the fuels you bought to make them.  Suck it up, pay the silver (which you will get back in one quest over in Butcherblock) and spend the levels crafting equipment that you will use.  Or stuff for your room, like I did.  Since crafting works the same no matter what your crafting, having a player craft one of everything is rather daft don’t you think?

Gorowyn gives you a smoother transition into regular content.

This one makes me hopping mad.  It does no such thing.  You know what happens when you finish the starter quests in Gorowyn?  Absolutely nothing.  Not a damn thing.  No quest giver suggesting which zone you shoud head too, no travel funnel to get you to the next rung in the leveling timeline.  Do I use the carpet?  Go to Butcherblock?  Freeport?  I’ve played the game before, and *I* had a moment of panic when I finished the area, because I had literally been cut free in the big world with zero direction.

Say what you will about the colony, but that never happens in those quest lines.  You may get sidetracked in the big city or lost in the catacombs, but there is always an NPC to tell you where to head to next in the chain of quests.

Devs, you may think you are doing yourselves a favor by giving players less choices…but history says thats never a good thing.  You wanna revamp the Colonies, or even offer new ones?  Go for it.  You want to remake Qeynos/Freeport as end game content?  Good luck with that.

And for what its worth – I’ll put up with a tutorial that has no story, crappy rewards, and choppy progression, if that’s the price I have to pay to not hear a little girls crying and  ultra-violet-hued fairies squeeking at me.

Go With What You Know

That has been my theme in MMO land this week.

I know, not too long ago I was wanting to try something new.  And truth be told, I did.  It’s like when you mom says you can’t say you don’t like a new food until you try it.  Well I tried the beets and I don’t like them, thank you very much.

We'll have none of that here Mr. Cleese. Move along...

In EQ2, I had started out thinking I would head a different path.  I started out splitting time the two RP servers where I had new guild homes at.  On one, the gravitation was to a good character, and a Wood Elf Guardian has been my main there.  I enjoyed it right up until I got into some real – ie, non starter content, at which point I found out two things – 1) it doesn’t actually tank very well, and 2) it has anemic DPS.  I haven’t deleted him, but still…

One the other RP server, I decided to play evil characters to get the whole – Gorowyn experience, which I hadn’t tried before.  Turns out the “its a better starting experience/area” line is mostly myth, but I’ll get to that in another post.  I tried it first time through with a Fury.  It solos and it can heal for groups – what’s not to like right?  And I do like it, but…I dunno.  Maybe its just because I feel like as a healer, I should be healing someone.  Otherwise I feel, incomplete somehow.  (-:

So, basically, I’m playing a Brigand on one server and I’m waiting for New Halas on the other so I can start a new character there.  Because, even though my highest level character overall is a Necromancer, my Brigand alt was the one I always had the most fun with.  And if you aren’t having fun playing, why are you paying the money, right?

Awesome shot via eve-wiki.net

In EVE Online, I realized the unstable null sec situation would eventually catch up with me, and lo, if you have been keeping up with the posts over at the Ninveah, then you know this is true.  Added to that was me plotting the path to jump-capable ships, in particular my original goal of being a carrier pilot.  But truth be told, the idea of having to have someone else playing with me, or getting a second account, to be able to move my ship anywhere, is just a bit too much for me.   With that in mind, I decided that it was time to enter the frontier of business and industry.  My skill queue is currently pointed to Mining Barge V, with an eye towards that juicy Orca, which can double as an all-in-one carry all should I decide to leave and strike out for an alternate destination elsewhere in space.

Now, if I could just find some time to actually play…

‘Round the Blogosphere

Okay, well not the entire thing, but the little corners of it that I frequent, there’s several hot topics to write about right now.  I enjoy listening to Colin Cowherd in the mornings, and he does his “spanning the globe” – hitting several hot topics in a short window.  So, I decided today, since I was behind as usual, I would do the same.

Everquest II Passport Plan

Yes, its measely.  $5 for one weekend of play a month, and only one weekend of play a month.  That being said here, I think the expectation is that this will open the floodgates.  MMO companies have held too long to the “industry standard” scared to do something else or something new.  EQ2 has opened the door with a low ball offer.  Someone else will give us a better one.  And then someone else, and so on, until one day we wake up with a decent deal.   Don’t believe me?  Remember that STO survey that Cryptic sent out – the one that gave you some store points?  One of the questions on there was about “what was the subscription worth,” and the choices were $10, $15, and $20.   Nobody asks that question unless they are testing the waters for a pricing change.  Imagine a family plan – $10 per sub for multiple accounts, or say, $15 for the main sub and $5 for each additional account.  Its coming, and I’m happy about it.  My problem is not that I can’t find a good MMO, its that we have lots of them and I can’t afford to play them all.

Turbine gets Warnered

My first question is why?  Turbine’s angle is interesting, and pretty simple – they pulled the “get rich quick” lever.   But why does Warner want Turbine?  The basic answer would be “to make a game for us.”  And so the real question I have here is – what game does Warner want Turbine to make for them?  Warner owns the rights to a slew of franchises, and I quickly saw some that would be interesting, and yet, entirely silly:  Police Academy,  Ocean’s Eleven, National Lampoon, Free Willy.

But then I looked at the rest of the list, and I was in awe.  Warner has the potential to put together a lineup of MMO’s the likes of which would bring even Sony down to its knees – and indeed, that might be part of the play in here.  Here’s just a few of the franchises that Warner owns:

Harry Potter (OMG – Fanboys and girls everywhere are wetting their pants at the thought)

DC Comics (Wanna bet Sony’s deal on this gets yanked pronto?)

Looney Tunes (Could compete with Free Realms and Club Penguin)

Terminator (Can you smell the PvP action?)

Add those in to Lord of the Rings and you have a solid line up of MMO’s waiting to happen.  And that’s not including the ones on that list from Warner that make for intriguing options beyond the obvious ones – TMNT, Mortal Kombat, The Last Starfighter, Willy Wonka, Wizard of Oz, Nightmare/Friday the 13th/Texas Chainsaw.   And that list does not include the franchises that Warner has deep ties to and relationships with, including:  Sesame Street, Pokemon, and Watership Down.  Sony should be very nervous right now people.  Very nervous.

EVE Blog Banter #Something.

And for kicks, here’s my unofficial entry to the following question:  What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?

I’ll answer a question with a question:  what is the percentage of female players in EVE?  Is it lower than the industry standard?  Higher?  What the hell is Incarna?

The answers to those shape my answer.  If EVE is ahead of the pack when it  comes to attracting female gamers, then it should just keep on trucking, because something is working.  If its behind the pack, then there’s a few ideas I could offer.   One of those would be to let some female artists and designers redesign the ship models, or design new ones.  They couldn’t do all the models I know, because its a time consuming process.  But you could do several.   Then hand pick a team of famous female comic artists, graphic designers, game pros, and maybe even celebrities.   Then promote the heck out of it, market it, get it in the news.  More than anything, this lets women know you are serious about letting them impact the game.  Heck, tie the ships into the Koman foundation and sell them as a charity event.  I have no data to back this up, but I think the think that would most encourage female gamers would be to give them tangible, high-visibility evidence that EVE is not a “man’s world.”  Allowing a group of all female designers to tinker with your game is one way to do that.