Gutted.

Man…I have to be honest, the SOE apocalypse is gut wrenching to watch. I’ve read through the Vanguard closing thread on the forums, and that was some of the most painful shit I’ve ever read. Yes, there are one or two people being assholes, but even with them, they can’t quite get it right because it hurts too much.

The Reddit AMA that happened today is even worse. Think its bad when adults lose their virtual homes? Try reading from the 14 year old girl who has just heard the news. Smed says he will get it worse than everyone though:

Two questions from my 9yo daughter about Free Realms closing down: “Do you think if we played Free Realms more they won’t shut it down?” and “Why?”

[–]j_smedley[S] 30 points 3 hours ago

First off – I have to go home after this and tell my 12 year old daughter Rose that her favorite game is going away. I assure everyone out there that I will catch more grief from her than anyone else. She easily plays the game 20 hours a week (ok stop judging me other gaming parents.. it’s a friendly game for kids). It makes me really sad to shut down FR, but the truth is we need our resources elsewhere right now.

And with that one answer, Smed set virtual fire to the other games. The speculation was already pointed in the direction of EQN, and that all but confirmed it. Now the mob is not only mad that their home is getting shuttered, but any hopes Sony might have had about reeling them in elsewhere just got axed. EQN is going to have a long and bumpy road to success, if it gets there at all.

Perhaps the most amazing thing that came out of all of this was the almost-white-knight-charge of Brad McQuaid, who immediately dropped everything and offered to buy back the IP and the game. The answer:

bradwhiteknight

Damn that was ballsy of him though. I hadn’t planned on giving to the Pantheon kickstarter, but I think I’m going to have to do so now, just as a gesture of thanks for making the effort.

Of course, all of this is just a bit two faced, and I admit that. Its been a good six months since I’ve logged into Vanguard, and it never really grabbed me the way I thought it would last year. The progression was just too damn slow. So on the one hand, I am a contributor to the shut down. I should have put more money and time into the game than I did. And why should I be upset that Vanguard is going under when I was such a lukewarm follower of it? Fair points I guess, but still…

It hurts. And unlike Warhammer and some of the other shutdown titles, where a day or two of nostalgia has been enough, I’m going to have to fire up Fraps and make this exit count.

Because I do love Telon and the vision and the game. I love that this is the last great achievement of Keith Parkinson before his passing. I love that this game had the balls to do things that no other game after it has even dared to attempt. And also, like all of us at some point in life (I suspect), we can fall just as in love with someone or something based on what we hoped it might be as we would based on something that was already what we wanted it to be.

Bleh.

The New Online Dating RPG…

I was on Facebook today and saw an advert for what looked to be a Facebook RPG game that was a little more…complicated (read: interesting) than the standard Facebook casual game fare, that rests mostly on your still in Bugging Friends with a specialization in Multi-Level Marketing.

So I clicked the link for Wings of Destiny (A NEW FACEBOOK RPG! – read the tagline) with a picture of a full on character screen with what appeared to be stats and inventory (which is what got my attention in the first place).    After clicking “no” to the inevitable – “O hi guyz, can we has your information?” question, I was taken to the game’s main page.  Where I saw this:

lolwut

 

Yes..fight hordes of demons, use your vast powers for good, find you soul mate!  I tell you, its only a matter of time before we see MATCH.COM: THE RPG in development.  Probably by SOE.  Those guys will try anything once.

Quote of the Week

This time of the year really heats up for me, vocationally, so I apologize for the lack of posts.  I still have another post on Project Gorgon to pop out, and some other things floating around, but they will just have to wait.  For now though, I got  a chuckle from bhagpuss‘ comment on TAGN’s latest EQ2 nostalgia offering:

 

One thing you could never accuse SoE of is consistency, which is almost top of the list of why they’re my favorite MMO developers.

 

I thoroughly agree with SOE’s inability to handle any sort of consistency, but I’m not sure that is quite what endures me to them.  I suppose its the almost puppy-like sense of enthusiasm and the way in which the entire group seems to consist of “FIRE, AIM, READY” people, which is very much part and parcel to my personality as well.

EQOA Is Closing Its Doors

First I got the email, and then I went immediately to see what Stonee had to say.  I agree with most everything he has to say.  I do commend SOE for giving us the rest of the month free.  I’m on the road until Friday, but you bet your boots I will be firing up the PS2 this weekend.

 

My first thought is wondering if there is a way I can rig the TV to take some screenshots.  There are so many places and things I want to capture before the place goes into the dark void of internet land.  (Wonder if they are wiping the servers or if  they might be willing to sell them…probably not, copyright info and all that jazz.)   Anyone have ideas on that?

 

Anyway, there is some grief there, but I’m holding it at bay with the simple thought that this game lived far beyond where I thought it would.  And that I had literally years to play the game and never did.  But then I hear the distinctive sound effects of the game (which I will be recording no doubt) and it shakes me a little.  The opening music, the confirmation “bloop” and so on.

 

And…I’m already wondering where I should be when the lights go dim.  For some reason it seems important to decide where to park my character when the game ends.  My old guild all jumped their characters into the volcano outside Klik’anon.  But I chose long ago to eschew that tradition.

 

Qeynos Prison seems appropriate symbolically – my characters trapped in bits and pieces, like Moriarty on the holodeck.   And because I spent so much time grinding there.  But then Highbourne cavernous secret cabal area under the main city was one of my main haunts.   And of course Darvar Manor was the social hub of the game when I was playing.  Or maybe I end where it all begin, the gleaming towers of Fayspire.

 

Anyway, I have some  time to decide.  If anyone wants to join me at the end, that would be neat.  The game deserves more of an ending than a few lonely old veterans solo at their favorites haunts, that’s for sure.

 

When I started the game, I chose Ferran’s Hope server, simply because the name appealed to me.  And perhaps that’s what hurts the most right now.  When the servers shut down, hope is gone.  I will never ago set foot in the land of Norrath as it existed 500 years before Everquest.

 

But perhaps its also a chance to explore what is, to me, the “future” Norrath, as it exists *in* Everquest.    Maybe hope is not gone after all.

 

Anyway, that’s enough for tonight, I’m getting all sappy.   I’m sure I’ll have another post on it later.

Great Posts…something or other

I lost count.  And I’m too lazy to look.

Anyway, I was checking out The Ancient Gaming Noobs 2011 MMO hindsight post and followed the linkage to BioBreak’s “Six Steps SOE Needs To Take…OR ELSE” post.  And it was really good.  And so I recommend it to you and I have a few comments.

My first comment is that on Syp’s list, it looks like SOE has already taken steps towards two of them.  # 3 (Do F2P right) is apparently on the horizon, as every indication is that Vanguard will finally go F2P in the coming year – and with new content to boot.  But the key here is that they seem to be ramping up into it rather than doing it yesterday.  And I think it will be a great move.  Vanguard still looks very pretty, and at this point, is now playable on many, many, many more systems than it was playable on when it was launched…what, almost 5 years ago?  And there is a host of untapped content there.  Not to mention some of the conventions that we now expect (healers who melee to heal) are ones that Vanguard helped pioneer.  Plus, flying mounts are already in the game.  And #4 on the list (Keep experimenting with EQ) is also a go, with EQ getting its new expansion and an overhaul of the UI to bring it into (almost) modern paradigms.  Speaking of which – that may be one thing that gets *me* to try EQ again.  I’ve romped around in the original Norrath a grand total of two months, despite many months of Station Passes over the years, mainly because I had difficulty doing anything other than wandering around, killing the occasional rabbit (it could be said that this is not far from the original game’s content…).

My second comment is that, while I wholly agree with #5 (Acquire an Existing Franchise), I’m not sure what they have to choose from.  To plug a favorite here, ArchAge is still looking for a North American publisher…but do you want to acquire a triple A fantasy MMO when that is what you are currently developing yourself?  Should SOE buy out the troubled EVE Online (at least then crazy changes to the game would be less unexpected, right)?  The Repopulation, when you are almost done with PlanetSide 2? What other options are there?

My final comment is that I wholly disagree with #6 (Corner the Kids Market).  My son is six, and has played the tar out of Clone Wars Adventures.  And do you know what he is eyeballing now?  The Old Republic.  I had to fight him for playing time on the Beta Weekend.  Yeah, I know, I thought that was too young myself, until I remembered that at age seven, I was comfortably ensconced in my dad’s swivel chair, at his desk, “engaging in tactical level combat on the Russian Front.”   The problem is that IP’s are static, for the most part, but kids are dynamic – that is, they grow up.

What SOE really needs is to pioneer an intermediate step between Free Realms and WoW.  I know we all think WoW is simple – and it is – but that is knowledge earned after many years of MMO inundation that our kids don’t have.  I played a lot of tactical combat, and it was fun, but to be blunt, I sucked at the game.  The only time I ever won was when I used the editing button to swap my stack of 9 T-26‘s for a stack of 9 IS-3‘s…in a mid-war campaign.  For the curious, yes, my dad was pissed…and he still almost won.

 

Seems legit.

 

So what if instead we looked at something even more simple.  Something without using a full set of multiple toolbars.  Something where the entire game could be played with just the mouse and WASD.   My son is doing fine in starter areas because he can right click to use the base attack – but after a few levels, everything falls apart because he has to leave WASD to find 1-whatever, and then jump back again.  Left click = talk or attack depending on the mobs status.  Right click is your block (tanks) or special move (heal).  Both buttons at once charges your special meter, or is a third attack?  Leave out the “W” and make “S” for forward movement.  Adopt Guild War’s paradigm of only 20 levels, with each expansion being a self contained storyline.

In any case, cool stuff.  H/T to Bio Break / Syp.

Coming Soon To a Blog Near You

IE, Here.

Yeah, my brother returns from parts abroad this weekend, and we have plans to start touring Rift together.  We had also planned to return to Pirates of the Burning Sea, cash in hand but alas….that may be awhile in coming!  SOE looks down for the count right now.

I’m not really sure what to make of things these days.  I don’t feel quite done with this site, but I just don’t have a whole lot to say either.  Strange to think that 6 months ago I was riding the twin buzz of Rift and TOR. 

I think I’m just at a point where I need to thin out my commitments some.  Until then, and until Sony gets its junk together, you can pretty much just find me in World of Tanks.  Driving one of these…

Last Gasp for SWG, PotBS?

Is it just coincidence that Star Wars: Galaxies and Pirates of the Burning Sea are both offering up a full month of free time right now?  Or is something else lurking behind the emails sitting in my inbox offering me more free time than Sony is usually want to give for teaser sessions?

Is this SW:G final stand?

SWG is, overtly, rolling out some new PvP content that they want people on board for – but all the extra items and goodies they are offering with the free time highlight player housing – something more of an investment (and PvE nature) than PvP is.  In other words, they want the full spectrum of players on board.  Free play lasts until March 1st.

PotBS is highlighting their server merges (down to 2 from 5).  Trust me, I know from first hand experience how desperate the player base was for this.  My mid 20’s privateer regularly got invited to fleet battles with 40-50th level players, because they couldn’t fill their quota, and one more ship, even a small one, might be enough to tip the balance.  Interestingly, there is no word in the email of economy changes and updates, which are the core of whats wrong in Pirates.  Free play lasts until March 5th there.

On the one hand, this makes sense.  For those disappointed with Star Trek Online, and there are some, they need a fix.  Offering them a SWG, with its similiar high profile IP makes sense, as does offering up Pirates, a game that admitedly, offers game mechanics very similar to that offered on STO.  Covering this month gives them a chance to hook the disaffected, and perhaps those disaffected will stick around and bring in some of those that will not stay around past the free month of STO.

Beneath the surface though, lies the fiscal reality of Sony.  Sony is only just now getting back onto its feet after a year of losing money.   Giving a free month now means they can track how many people will stick around past the free time for the last month of their fiscal year, which ends March 31st.  If the free time doesn’t boost numbers by a certain amount – will that mean that they get chopped?

For me personally, I’m not sure a return to Pirates is in order.  The underlying frustration with the economy is not solved by more players – at least, not in the short term.  The only way to acquire ships abover level 25 or so is to join one of the pre-existing guilds, and even finding new ships below that is dicey.  Meaning that playing anything other than a pirate (with their ability to capture vessels) is frustrating.  With a larger player base things might turn over (it takes *alot* of players to build a ship, especially the high level ones), but not unless those players are sticking around long enough to build their economic empires.

Star Wars, on the other hand, is intriguing.  I really only stopped playing SWG because I wanted to participate in the launch of WAR, and I’d really like to give it another shot.  Crafting and economics were fun, space combat was good.  Population was – sparse and irritating.  But I’m sure the server mergers have helped.  I seem to remember somewhere though that since I didn’t transfer the characters, I’m going to have to start from scratch.  Only one way to find out…

Check your Station Account!

Those wacky SOE guys are at it again, giving away free playing time and not telling anyone. 

I was trying to get set up for the debut of the 51/50 server today, and postponed my Station Access Pass purchase when I realized I had a few more days of free Vanguard, along with a free month of Star Wars and two free weeks of Everquest II.

The catch for me is still how to work Everquest. I have an account and most of the expansions unlocked, but apparently no longer have the disc!  So I can’t install it on my computer.  Does that mean I have to rebuy the game from SOE in addition to reactivating my account?  I wanted to try the Epic play and support this little experiment, but I hate to rebuy something I technically already own.  Any tips?

Vanguard Fail or Genius?

So I hear that Vanguard is offering up free time, and that no one seems to have known about it.  I know I had no idea, and I’ve been logged into my SOE account quite recently for PotBS (which I spent most of the weekend playing, sorry EVE fans!).   So I check my email – nothing there, and nothing in the spam folder.  My email is connected to my account and verified, but I still got nothing.  I check the Vanguard forums…nothing.  I check the update notes.  No, nothing there either but some rather interesting changes.

So I figure this is failure on a high level for SOE, which is not all that unusual.  But then I think some more.  Maybe the goal, with the ripples from the closure of Matrix Online, is to get a clear measure of players who really want to be in Vanguard.  Should they close it?  If they offer free time under the table, who is watching?  And who will come back?  And what will they say about the level cap being raised, the changes to combat and the class and racial skills?

In other words, what kind of buzz can Vanguard generate as a baseline, grassroots movement.  So far, given the number of blogs suddenly talking Vanguard again, I’m guessing that if that was the goal, it was success.

Whether or not that was the intention though…whew, I’m doubting it.  But maybe that’s just because I’m jaded at this point.