Gaming Devs Gone Stupid

Awhile ago I wrote that I hoped for the best with Dan Stahl no longer at the helm over at STO. Turns out my hope was misplaced.

STO announced last week that they would be removing Exploration from the game permanently, and shifting any and all active gameplay tasks related to it into the (passive) duty officer system.

Literally every screenshot I have ever uploaded here comes from Exploration clusters and missions.
Literally every screenshot I have ever uploaded here comes from Exploration clusters and missions.

Want to explore strange new worlds? Hell no. You think this is Star Trek or something?

Have a roleplaying group and want to run a random mission together as the basis of your roleplay? Hell no.

Only have a half hour to kill, but want to enjoy some time in STO? Hell no.

The crazy thing is that they are not replacing this source of content. Their only suggestion is to play player-made Foundry missions. But those are an hour or more of gameplay, and someone else is writing the story for you.

Even crazier is the reason – new players might be turned off by this content. Um, 1) there are very few new players coming in at this point. 2) New players are pointed expressly to the storyline missions and new group content. And in a slightly related 3) Nobody is complaining about the extra content. Nobody.

Why, oh why, would you remove content from the game (without a replacement)? Content that people enjoy and that nobody is complaining about? Content that is in no way unbalancing to the rest of progression or anything else?

This is strike two for STO (strike one being the continuing addition of ridiculous Transformers battleships). At strike two, we are at the point where you get no more of my money.

The only thing I can say at this point is thank God I didn’t buy a lifetime sub!

Failcom is Alive and Well: No Secret World For Me (Update 7/9)

ETA:  As noted in the comments, Funcom eventually extended the grace period to a full week, a move I very much applaud, and also have dropped several notes to the community to assure them they are working on the glitch I encountered.  So perhaps Failcom has learned well from its past mistakes after all!


While TSW’s launch has, for most, been a pretty solid affair (no server drops, mostly minor glitches), I seem to have had a serious run of what could be termed bad luck.

It all started a couple of days after launch with an odd glitch.  First my chat box went down.  I couldn’t type in group chat.  I finally realized that the game had unsubbed me from the group channel, an odd “option” in and of itself.   But not long after that, the entire chat box went down.  No Say, no Tell, no General.  Nothing.  After some back and forth via text with my brother and another friend – we realized that not only could I not chat, the game did not believe my character existed.  I could send and receive group invites, but that was about it.  Try to add me to your friends list?  Nope, character doesn’t exist.  Try to “Meet me” – zone in to where the group was.  Nope, doesn’t exist (I could still zone to you, not that it matter).

I sent out a support ticket, but an hour later, with no response and time getting late, I logged off.  I checked every day after that – no response.  I did check the forums and saw a Dev post that this was a “known problem” and that they were working on it and hoped to have it fixed “in the next update or two.”  Awesome.   So I started another character, but…I was pretty set on what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t keen on duplicating missions I had literally just done the previous day.

Cue phase two of the disaster: Amazon.

You see, I opted not to pay for release day shipping, because I’ve never had a problem with it .  But my copy of TSW just, as of about 15 minutes ago, started the long journey from a warehouse in the bowels of Amazon’s digital empire to my doorstep.   It won’t be here until the middle of next week.

Meanwhile, Funcom has decided that the grace period for getting your copy of the game would apparently be 48 hours.  Because I am, as of right now, locked out of my account.   Now, allow me to be frank:  that is utter bullshit.  I have never been a part of a launch (and I have seen more than my fair share at this point) that did not give a week for a grace period.  Add onto that that one of the grace period days was a national holiday, where there was no shipping going on, and you have a royal fail.

You can get the game right (and I think they did), but the game is only half the battle.  I had hoped that some things had changed, but I guess not.  We are still dealing with the same old Failcom.



So, we are (finally) getting an announcement about and comprehensive FAQ regarding Beta Testing weekends…


a)  After one has already happened

b) After you’ve decided to put them on indefinite hiatus

c) After you reveal (inadvertently?) that you don’t patch the client but require clean installs with every update


and, for good measure, after you…


d) Admit that the first one was a failure


Two thumbs up Bioware.  You have really outdone yourselves this time.  I haven’t seen anyone do this awesome a hack job on themselves since Alganon imploded in a disturbingly catastrophic manner.  For a company that swears up and down that they dead set against giving bad or incorrect information and releasing a quality product, you are doing a great job at failing the former and making people twitchingly nervous about the latter.


I was going to insert an epic fail demotivator, but I couldn’t find one epic enough.


Meanwhile, in the TOR forums…

Stephen Reid and George Zoellner desperately try *** to put out the torches and Force Push the pitchforks in another direction.  The only question you need to ask yourself is why this is necessary in the first place.  If you don’t know the answer by now, you’ll probably need to pass through a few more MMO releases before it clicks.

Launch or GTFO!


You know what I just realized today (besides the fact that Bioware desperately needs more time)?  The last day of Spring in 2011 is June 21st.  That’s a Tuesday.  You know what happen’s on Tuesdays don’t you?  MMO’s get released.  Wonder if that’s a coincidence.

In any case, Bioware has somewhere between 9 weeks and 23 weeks to put this game in your hands, or they will join the fail parade I posted above.  And if they join the fail parade I posted above, the entire MMO world will go BOOM.

Zee end iz nigh.


Tick-tock EA/Bioware/Mythic…tick…tock…

*** ETA:  Those of you who clicked that link later rather than sooner got solid proof of Bioware’s Noobness.  We give a fluff Friday update containing nothing of substance – and then in the middle of a 500 comment thread we drop a *huge* piece of information that the community would have given their right pinky to have access to.  Followed by another update in another random thread that is also pretty big.  Believe it or not, this may be a good thing.  Its indication that BW is blundering through this process without a clue, instead of keeping us in the dark on purpose.  Either way though, it could still lead to the conclusion hinted at in this post…

Another Friday, Another SWTOR Fluff Update

ETA: Scroll down to the bottom to see what a Dev had to say on the forums about the complaints like mine.

Can there be any doubt at this point that the game will be delayed from its Spring release date, despite quotes from GDC (that I’m too tired this morning to track down)?

Another Friday has come, and SWTOR releases official updates/information every Friday.  As of August/September, things had picked up considerably – good, solid game information came regularly interspersed with fluff updates like Fan Fridays.  This was fitting and normal if a Spring launch was to be achieved.   But the wheels came off that bus last month.  Since the release of the Smuggler advanced class information, we have received *no* game related information.  That’s right, three, count them, three weeks have gone by without any significant updates from the Developers about the game. 

Despite the fact that we are only about four months from what would typically be the Open Beta for a major release.  It makes you wonder if they really don’t have anything to share or they are just willfully stubborn about letting information out.  Let’s imagine the conversation in the weekly meeting about what to release on Friday (the humor I’m going for comes across clearer if you picture the people below as random Office characters or perhaps the cast of a Mel Brooks film):

Boss:  Alright, settle down people.  Lets talk next about what we are releasing for our Friday update.   Community people, whats the word on the street:

CSR: Well, people are getting restless.  Its been a month since our last class information release, and people are wagering heavily on what class will be next.  Others are curious about the Legacy system, or want to know more details about crafting.  And there’s always the PvP crowd wanting to know about things in the game for them.

Boss:  Well, we have alot to choose from!  We’re only five months from launch, we have five classes left – Can we drop info on…Bounty Hunter?  I mean all we have to do is show them a few pictures of the ship, the concept art from the primary companion, and give a little information on the sub classes.  We don’t have to give them detailed trees yet like we did with the Smuggler.  We can do that right?

Dev: No.

Boss: Trooper?  Imperial Agent?

Devs:  No.

Boss: …Okay, well how about a Timeline update?

CSR: Um, we just did that last week boss, we’re working on the next one, but…

Boss:  …Okay, no problem.  Webcomics?

CSR: Done with both of them already.

Boss: Oh.  Uh…ooh, locations.  Give them a planet!

Random Dev:  We pulled that out two weeks ago sir.

Boss:  Holy Toasted Vader people.  We’ve got to give them *something!*

CSR: Fan Friday?

Boss: …

CSR:  No, it’ll be great, I can pull some fan art again, and we can have [Artist] show off some of his concept art…

Artist:  Hell no.

CSR: …or he could draw a new one from…an in game screenshot.  Screenshot – nothing has to be moving or working for that right?

Dev:  We could probably do that.  And we have all this leftover lore that we haven’t hit them with yet from that junkload of writers we hired.  I could part with…say 8 paragraphs I guess.

Boss:  Great, so its all settled then.  They can’t complain right?  I mean they are getting *two* updates.  That outta hold them for another week.

Seriously though, the bottom line is simple – a lack of actual game updates creates a fear of a pushback, or worse, a Vanguard style flameout that will be crushing to anyone who has devoted a decent amount of time to following this game.  Why is it that nothing is done to address this fear?

ETA: One of the official BW peeps dropped into the complaint thread forming about the update and the lack of crunch information.  He said:

As we’ve always said, when things are at a quality level where we are ready to reveal them, we will. We never want to promise something that we aren’t ready to commit to.

This of course, quieted no fears, and in fact, instilled a host of new ones.  Does this mean that Bioware does not have five of the eight classes, three of the six ships, around 75% of the companion characters, the PvP systems, crafting, and around 75% of the planets at quality level?   If so, Fall 2011 here we come…

Narrowing The Field

Well my brother is now back at home, and the both of us of course signed up for the two free weeks of game time for Fallen Earth, because, well…we’re not picky.  We’ll play anything that’s free.  Well any MMO that’s free.  Unless its on Facebook I guess.  But I digress…

We started out with the same difficulty we had last time.  There are just so many choices in Fallen Earth, its hard to know what direction to move your character in.  After some reflection from my last time in the game, I had decided that I didn’t want to wait for crossbows to turn into rifles or BB guns to turn into real guns.  I wanted to do melee, and since I harvest like an hard case from Hoarders, I had to do crafting too.

Hey buddy, why the long face? Do you need a new sword too?

Enter one of the new things that has been added to Fallen Earth – character templates.  Not only for basic archetypes of characters, but to emulate the six factions in the game as well.  When they did that, they covered just about all the bases.  Even more ingenious – the templates are set up to use about 90% of you AP – leaving you a little reserve to customize your character.  This one change alone has improved the game by leaps and bounds.   I would love to see this model of character development put to use elsewhere.  It has helped us too to know who should craft what and when.  With the welcome addition of airsoft rifles, I have abandoned pistols altogether.  I went from carrying 6 weapons, unsure of what to do, to carrying 2 weapons that I am pleased to use (ok, well, plus grenades, but…).

With that little trauma out of the way, we have set about deciding to explore a little more of the world.    The world itself is still a nice change of pace, and certainly a little prettier than I remember it being before.  I did not check to see what my settings are on though, I may be able to bump it up and make it even nicer.  We’re currently in Clinton Farms so I can finish up a few quests to catch up to his level, but I think other areas are in store.  One other thing about the world – though the uneven distribution of resources is a pain sometimes, I think ultimately it will make for a nice dynamic economy and trading system.  Especially now that they have increased the spawn and drop rate of those harvestables.   Which is good because I need a new sword badly.

In particular right now, we need to explore how to lay hands on more skills.  I have only one melee skill, and the time on it is such that I get to use it once in any given combat.  Add to that fact that combat itself is rather clunky – or at least just inelegant, and I worry about the long term.  Course, since I primarily seem to enjoy gathering the components to craft, maybe it shouldn’t worry me all tha much.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the evening was seeing some people from a guild/clan call the Holnist Militia.  Presumable these are fans of the postapocalyptic movie The Postman, directed by/produced by/starring Kevin Costner.  While not a good movie, the post-apoc (PA) genre has few entries and some hardcore fans.  In the film, the Holnist Militia are badasses of the highest order, a solid paramilitary organization.

But my brother and I didn’t start with the failed film.  We started with the novel the film was (really, really) loosely based off of, by David Brin.  The novel won some awards and is excellent stuff.   But alot of the characters, groups, and actions aren’t the same.  Which led to the following comment from my brother.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you do your homework when selecting a guild or clan name.

You Need Help

From this month’s new Alganon Newsletter:

Our character creation system has also received a major upgrade. Players will now be guided through an on-screen wizard to aid in the creation of new characters. This new system provides plenty of descriptions to aid you in making decisions during the creation process.


Dear Alganon,

Unless your huge overhaul has included releasing all those other classes and races you promised, and not just the basic four classes and two races in the game now,  I’m not sure how much “help” and “description” people need to figure it all out.  Thanks.  PS – I still can’t launch the game, even with your new patches. 

~ Hzero

Welcome to the New and Improved Alganon Character Creaction System.

Race:  If you’d like to play a good but arrogant race, pick race 1.  If you’d like to play an evil and misunderstood race, pick race 2.  Congratulations, you are finished selecting your race.

Class:  If you’d like to play a tank, pick class 1.  If you’d like to play a healer, pick class 2.  If you’d like to play dps, pick class 3.  If you’d like to solo, pick class 4.  Congratulations, you are finished selecting your class.

Family:  If you’d like to explore, pick family 1.  If you’d like to PVP, pick family 2.  If you’d like to raid, pick family 3.  If you’d like to socialize, pick family 4.   If you’d like to craft, pick family 5.  Congratulations, you finished selecting your family.

Wow! That was difficult!  We are pleased to have been able to bring you this new system to help guide you through the enormous and complicated task we set before you.  Enjoy the game!