2013 Crystal Ball Review

So I pondered what I was going to do last January about predictions. I decided that instead I would look at what I was looking forward to the most and least, and ask some questions that could only be answered a year later. That way I could come back a year later “with some wisdom and hindsight and laugh and make obscene hand gestures at myself for how dumb or idealistic I was.” It worked out way better than I could have thought. If you are still missing the point here, think of it this way. I buried a time capsule for my future self with a bunch of questions about the coming year, and now I get to reflect and pontificate on them. It is glorious.

So in the “looking forward to” section I had a couple of entries:

Hearing More About ArcheAge Online and Possible Release Dates

Sadly, we haven’t really heard anything more. An enterprising EU team (of Germans if I understand correctly) from Impact Community have made and kept up to date a skill calculator for the game in English, which is fantastic. You can use it here to build your class from the 120 possible combinations. Keep in mind that even if you have the same combination of skill trees as me, your picks will be different. For the curious, I plan on utilizing Devotion (healing), Finesse (Rogue-ish abilities), and Necromancy (pretty self-explanatory…). Which is the class known as…wait for it…the Writer.

The lack of news was a result of Trion finding its balance I think. Scott Hartsman leaving and then returning as the new head honcho bodes well for the company, but despite his protests to the contrary, I’m sure those waves within the company had a push-back effect on the game. I still hope for a 2014 launch, and I am of course signed up for Beta. I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this title, and I’m all but begging for more information. So if you are out there…pretty please.

Expanding My Tier 10 Garage

And expand I did. I collected all the tanks I originally set out to, except for the IS-7. The arrival of the Chinese line and the pressing needs of my previous clan for certain tier 10 tanks caused a shift in that final drive. Right now I am sitting about 50k from the Object 140, 150k from the IS-7, and 225k from the E-100. However, with Warplanes occupying almost all my PvP time these days, I’m just not sure how active I’m going to be over that way. We will see. I have to think that, in part, getting kicked to the curb by my former clan is at least part of my decline in tanks interest. I can say for sure that while I still enjoy the game, I am done with Clan Wars for the forseeable future.

Nostalgia: Vanguard

Here we come to the first bust of the year. I was really really looking forward to getting into Vanguard. I love the setting, and I love my character. I loved playing the game. I even went out and bought a card for a month’s sub. But the progression is just too damn slow. Its a snail’s pace and that is really discouraging. And beyond that, I died. A lot. Against even level or +1 content. Which forced me into lower level quests, which then lowered my progression that much more. My only hope now is that the max level character program is successful in EQ2 and is ported over to Vanguard. That’s a setting where I really don’t care what quests I’m doing, I just want to roam the world and explore. And I can’t do that with a 20 something character that keeps getting his ass handed to him by random wolves. And I’m a healer to boot.

Battlefield 3

This game really, really wound down for me this year. I still have a buddy who is hardcore into 4 right now, but I just can’t bring myself to it. I put the game on my Christmas list so I’m sure I will get in some time come the new year, but…the verve is gone, as I predicted. I think it was probably back around summer time when I last logged in, but I can’t remember for sure.

Star Trek Online

I finally got my Ambassador class! That was indeed the anniversary ship. I played my new Romulan to level 10, and then couldn’t decided which way to go. Most of the KDF content is unknown to me, but my gaming buddy I was leveling with wanted to go STO. So I did what anyone with indecision does…nothing. I quit playing. I come back occassionally and am always pleasently surprised with how good the game is. I play a storyline mission or two, and that satisfies me. And then of course, if there is a fun ship up for grabs or a new story to tackle, I’m in as well. But day to day play I am out. If I could find an active, friendly fleet that wasn’t comprised of 300 jerks, that would help, but other than starting my own fleet, which would be a pain to play catchup with at this point, I just don’t think I can find something that is a good fit for me.

And then there was my second category – questions I asked myself about the coming year. This is the best part. Are you ready?

Will the small indy developed sandboxes of Dawntide and Project Gorgon be revived?

No and yes, in that order. Dawntide lost funding and sometime last month or so, the website shut down completely. That one stings. Dawntide was *the* sandbox title in my book. It had lots of great things going for it, and I’m very discontent that the doors have closed for good. Project Gorgon, on the other hand, continues to poke and prod its way into development, which is about the best the team can hope for, given that its sort of a nights and weekends project while they put food on the table from elsewhere. If you’d like to log in and play around, feedback is appreciated. Just be aware that if the game warns you about something, its not kidding around. Turning yourself into a cow is a real possibility if you aren’t careful. And by cow, I mean cow. Literally.

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

Yep. TERA did that for me pretty hard. It wins the award here. I’m still playing and still having fun. You know why? Its the only MMO I can think of where I could turn off the UI and still play it. It wins the award for funnest combat and immersion in that sense. To a lesser extend, I enjoyed UWO, which has left the hands of NetMarble and ended up with…uh…OGPLanet. No, I have no idea who that is either. There is a good chance I go back and play that some more in the near future.

There are three others I played that did not suck me in though. The Old Republic was there when I needed an emotional crutch, and by all rights that should have launched me right back into the game. But the bad storylines for my main character were oppressive, and the content I was working through for a second time with my Sorcerer was boring. Which left me with an itch to go through on the light side as a Jedi. But I’m so sick of Tython that I was physically ill trying to play through it for what has to be the dozenth time. Until they allow character transfers and I can bring over my level 11 from another server (you know, before they announced that whole Legacy thing. Thanks again for that, jerkwards at Bioware), I’m not headed back.

I had a similar problem in The Secret World, where trying to get through the starting area for the umpteenth time just wore me out. If I can ever push through that starting map, I’ll be golden though, because there is nothing about the game I don’t like.

Last of the trifecta was LotRO. The summer home of my little group, once we all got stable internet again, it seemed like a good idea. I certainly had fun, and all three of us are fans of the IP. But between the crappy and buggy launcher that caused at least one of us problems *every week* when we logged in, and the fact that our healer was soloing the content while I as tank and our DPS person followed along behind them (Guitar Power in LotRO is OP!), it got old after awhile. So I played with the group, and enjoyed it, but it was far from sucking me in.

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

Well, Titan, no, not really. But Everquest 3, or Everquest Next as we now know it, was all the rage. And my personal opinion was…meh. Basically, from what I have seen…its not Everquest. In fact, if you had given me the pictures and watermarked it with Blizzard or Titan, I wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash at the deception. So…looks like I’ll be passing on that one.

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

Yes, but it took the death of a friend to bring me to it. Think about that for a moment. That’s how strong the emotional rejection of a game that has failed you can be.

And don’t even get me started about that failure of an expansion….

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

To its credit, Wildstar seems to be building steam as it goes along. I am still singularly unimpressed by what I see and read, and completely turned off by the graphics. The final nail in the coffin was learning that races and classes will be limited. Welcome back to MMO’s, a la 2004. Good job guys.


So there ya go, that was my Crystal Ball for 2013. Its been a bit of a wild ride. I’m looking forward to what 2014 has in store, and I have more questions and answers to go to. But I’ll leave those for another post.

Turns out, its not so F2P after all.

Yeah, I guess I didn’t understand that whole quest pack unlocking mechanic.  My brother tells me that without shelling out, everything in our level range becomes a grind alone.  Basically at this point, to continue playing Lord of the Rings Online, I would have to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-$20 dollars.  For the next half dozen levels – and then I’d have to shell out more.  Rinse and repeat. And if I were to start from scratch, I could play to level 20 or so, and then I would have to start paying just as I would if I kept my current characters.

Maybe I’m a bit jaded by EQ2X’s system and the way it parses things.  If I wanted to keep my character there – it would be a $35 flat fee.  If I elected to start from scratch, as I have, it will cost me nothing.  I know this is in some way apples to oranges.  But I don’t think quests are an optional component of the game these days, as much as I wish they were, or were at least reduced in quantity and magnified largely in quality.   Bag size, number of character or storage slots – thats helpful but not necessary.

I wish I had some great gameplay or design updates for you today, because I’m really in the moot to mash one out on the keyboard here.  Unfortunately, inspiration is lacking.  Anything you all out there want to discuss?

I spent the weekend on my wife’s uncle’s farm, which is nice for relaxing to an extent.  On the one hand, kids can be set loose to run free and not get into too much trouble , and there are a plethora of adults on hand to watch over them, so I got to nap a bit and read a bit.  On the other hand, cramming 30+ people under one roof, even if it is a big farmhouse, can get hectic and stressful at times, and game playing time is all but nonexistant.

So I basically logged in each night to take some turns in The Reincarnation, and  contribute what I could to the war effort, and last night I spent a few minutes playing with my Champions Online characters since the free week was almost over.  I also ducked into APB to find that reports of its demise were greatly exaggerated, but that they were also not doing anything to help themselves in that regard – some of the patch notes are head scratching to say the least.  It was an ugly throwback to the early days of Vanguard patch notes, where one could find patch after patch going by with no solution to game killing issues, while changes to the game that were not warranted were implemented to further fuzzify the mudification.

Tonight I’ll probably be back to Fallen Earth (its time to raid Oilville after a rather disappointing roam through the Junk Fortress) or EQ2X to push my Warlock higher up the chain and hopefully make a decision on what character number 2 will be.  And tomorrow we will start the grand journey of free LotRO – though I’m not sure how that will work since I have banks stuffed full of crap that I probably won’t have access to unless I pay up…

Even with all that, I still wanna buy a Station Pass.  How sad is that?  I’d like to play my main characters in EQ2 rather than starting over again, and I’d really like to roam the Star Wars universe a little more in Galaxies.

Mainly though I just want that weekly group going.  How about it?  Anyone want a regular, once a week group activity night in EQ2X or LotRO?

Another Birthday Come and Gone

Longtime readers of this blog may remember that last year was a banner year for birthdays in my house.  I got my new laptop and a host of great new games for the PC and for tabletop.

Happy Birthday to...me!

This year was…not as good.   My grandmother’s yearly alottment of cold hard cash has mostly been spent already, I (pre-)used it to buy APB.  While I have not regretted that decision, had I saved it and been able to plop down another PLEX this year, it would have helped my cash situation greatly.  My wife decided to let our kids shop for me this year (they are ages 7, 5, and 20 mos. currently) which was a blast for them but resulted in a hit or miss year for me.  Okay, I’ll be honest, mostly miss.  Star Wars Lightsaber Duels was the choice of my son, and while he has had a blast playing it, its a so-so game.  Especially since we have only one “nunchuk” which means we can’t actually duel each other.   Guess I know what the last bit of birthday money is going towards!  My daughter picked out Guitar Hero 5, which was completely left field.  I’m passably decent (I can play most all songs on medium), but I had no idea 5 was out, much less 4.  The last time I played I actually was playing 2 at a friends house, which was apparently forever ago in game time.  Still, I love them dearly, and it was fun to see how excited they were to give me the presents that they had picked out, and even more of a joy to spend some time playing those games with them.  Can a gaming father really ask for anything more than that?

Outside of that, my parents are adding in a few books from my Amazon wishlist, as are my inlaws.  So, a less exciting year around here as actual games go.  But I will say my brother wins the prize for best gift.  A signed artist’s proof of my favorite Keith Parkinson painting will be arriving at my house before too long.   The piece is called “Arcane Summons” and is just overall fantastic.  Too bad its primarily associated with Palladium (bleh).

I would also say that I have received some great gifts from the gaming industry as well. Everquest II and Lord of the Rings Online going free to play are both wonderful, and I will no doubt be spending alot of time in the coming year in both.  And the best “generic birthday wishes” from a gaming company came from the wonderful people at Reaper, whose forum message says more than the usual:

May your paint never dry out, may you avoid supergluing your fingers together,
and may you always roll natural 20s on this special day.

Indeed indeed.  In other news, we are now 10 days from my second blog-o-versary, and I’ve been pondering new goals.  I had two goals last year.  I made some progress on #2 before the project was scrapped from me struggling with the RL events of the year and my partner in crime struggling to get the website up and his own ingame time sinks.  Goal #1 sadly didn’t come to pass, but Tipa does’t do nearly as many daily blogrolls these days as she was when I concocted that goal a year ago.  I’ve been wondering what new goals I could come up with, but no ideas so far.  If you have some, let me know!

Why *am* I leaving?

So I’m taking the LotRO Exit Survey, b/c I was once a research guy and know how helpful that can be, and they give me these options for why I’m canceling my sub – I have to pick one and can pick up to three:

   There aren’t enough live events
  I’m unhappy with recent changes to the game
  I don’t like the Crafting system
  I don’t like the way combat works
  I don’t have enough character customization options (traits, deeds)
  There isn’t true player vs. player combat
  I can’t find a fellowship to complete group quests
  I can’t afford a monhtly subscription
  Classes are not balanced
  I’ve maxed my character and there’s nothing left for me to do
  My friends have left for other games
  There aren’t enough raids
  I don’t like monster play as PvP
  I don’t like the user interface
  There aren’t enough dungeons
  I had a customer service issue (in-game) that I couldn’t get resolved
  I can’t find enough solo quests
  I don’t want to pay a subscription fee
  I had a technical problem I could not get resolved
  Instance loot is unrewarding
  There aren’t enough options in character generation
  I just don’t have time to play
  I don’t like the character animations


Honestly though that its none of those, and I can’t fit what I want to say in the box they give you for “additional comments.”  And the larger realization is – I really don’t know why I’m leaving.  I don’t particularly hate LotRO for anything, and I don’t think they’ve really delivered a subpar product in any way, but…

I just don’t know.  I’m tempted to say the lore of the world, just as my first gut reaction.  I’m still playing EVE, and my brother is angling for Pirates of the Burning Sea (or maybe EQ2 as a concession to me).  Meh.

One intriguing thing came out of this.  One of the later questions was, what would make you come back?  And the only box I checked – micro transactions.  The truth is that I want to play about 5 games right now, and I’d be happy to give them all $5 a month for some restricted version of the game to fit my time needs and desires.  But I can’t, and so I have to pick one (okay, two).

And so I’m sorry LotRO, but as it turns out, I’m fickle, and this month, I’m moving elsewhere.