Monthly Archive: September 2008

‘NYUK OF THE LIVING DEAD

Just before launch I made a post about a few bothersome things we would face at launch. I just entered the T3 lands and figured I would review to see how things are going.

1) Gravitation to EvC – still an issue, as I found the T2 and T3 scenarios popping the most for me on my scenario nights (I fly around and queue all pairings)

2) Tanks have worked out as a problem as we discussed on the order side – the Order tanks aren’t as yummy as the Destro ones and they (again, in my experience and on my server) are typically outnumbered 2:1 tank wise with their counterparts. Good news is Mythic is going to pop those characters back in as soon as possible, as free content – no timeline, unfortunately.

3) Cross Pairing Scenario Queues – They are now in! I have been bugging them for the past 6 months in beta (as have others) and because of how quick they got this out, methinks they had the capability all along – and just wanted to see how things played out at release. Mythic I love you, at the bare minimum, for this alone.

4) Destro population imbalance – held true as well. No fix announced for this yet, but I am sure it is on the top of their minds as the whiney-whinertons are out in full force – as they should be. Everyone called this as would-be-happening and while I appreciate being cautious to see how it played out, let’s hope they already have a solution in the wings they are getting ready to launch it. Hopefully it is part [2] above, with the speed of part [3].

On a side note: this is the longest ‘between posts’ since I started the blog, and I apologize for that. I saw the good (bad?) end of a bottle of The Belvanie awaiting my red-eye flight home from a working weekend in Vancouver. Needless to say, two days later, I am still feeling the pain. I don’t recover quite as well as I used to. Once the cobwebs are all out and I am fully healed, I’ll be sure to grant more of my enlightened wisdom upon you all. [sarcasm alert]

On a second side note: Good to see OZ posting again at KTR. He may deny this to save face, but I became a guild member with Oz in EQ on the testserver in The Grove. He and his band of merry men/women showed me what a guild of like minded people can do to an online experience – turn a tag into a home. Sorry for the off topic pingback Oz, but I was wondering where you went. He covers a topic that as an older gamer I am faced with every day – time value. Go check it out. Just stay away from the scotch while you are reading it.

$0 DOWN, $199/MONTH 2.3% FINANCING

With the spammy-gold-spamertons all over WAR there is a lot of coverage in Blognation about RMT and what to do with it. I covered my thoughts on RMT here before, and to summarize – if games mechanics are made so poorly that I can only enjoy the game by buying gold then something needs to change. There are all sorts of arguments about it, from the MMO ‘morality’ (if you buy gold, you probably don’t walk little old ladies accross the street), to the upper class of gaming (people who can afford to buy gold have an unfair advantage – because you make more money in real life shouldn’t give you an advantage in a online world where all are created equal!) to [insert typical argument here]. What we need is some sort of solution. An obvious one, but one I haven’t seen or heard much about (I don’t read every blog and website out there, so sorry if it has) is the simplest one of all. Make gold bind on pickup. Eliminate it from the equation altogether. How can we eliminate gold changing hands, without eliminating item trading? Enter the lovely world of leasing.

UPDATE: Check out the BanHammer counter on the WAR herald – cute 🙂

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WHERE’S THE BEEF?

By “beef”, I mean “data”. This is a dream world post. I often dare to dream. Mythic is very proud of their meta data collection and hey, I would love them to throw some of that our way. Developers are always very protective of their data. Gamers are always very hungry to understand more. When I go to the server selection screen and see Order population: Low, Destruction Population: Medium – what exactly does that mean? Where is the magic line between low and medium? Is low 399 characters, and medium 400? Or does that mean there are 10 order and 900 Destruction? Why can’t we  know this?

MMO’s do a great job of collecting, displaying, and using data in every click, keyboard press, and number crunch. Send some of that love our way! MMO’s are a big time investment and I want to make decisions when choosing my server and class on hard data. I know, I know – “play what you like” – and I do, but hey, what if I like four different classes and want to play “what my realm would like”. Spit out the numbers for me : Order has 100 tanks between levels 1-10, 50 tanks between 11-20, and 1 tank between levels 21-30. I don’t see why it would hurt to tell us this. (Admittedly, this information is pretty useless at the launch of a game, but once you get a couple years in it can be very valuable for me as a gamer to make choices!)

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THE WARbert REPORT: STONETROLL CROSSING

Stonetroll Crossing is the T2 scenario for EvC. It is a murderball/flag capture mechanic with some fun twists. At the top of the spiralling mountain in the center of the map is a “pacifier”. You have to grab the pacifier, then travel to three troll groupings around the map and “pacify” the trolls – all within a set time period or the pacifier resets. The trolls aren’t just there for good looks though – they hurl rocks around the map causing an inconvenience along the way. For example, if you try to park a few people where the pacifier spawns while it is in control the trolls will toss some rocks at you and knock you off the mountain. This scenario does a lot of good, and ensures a level of back and forth gameplay that is missing in Phoenix Gate and Mourkain Temple.

Those of you in beta remember what Stonetroll Crossing used to be – a king of the hill scenario! The trolls were still there being a pain, but the whole purpose of the match in the old beta days was to hold the flag at the top of the hill which had a timer capture mechanic similar to Nordenwatch. Problem back then, was that the way the terrain is designed it was pretty much impossible to take the hill once it was captured – it was a ranged DPS nightmare and heavily favored meelee – the new way it works is much more player friendly.

Match typically goes like this: Both sides beeline for the pacifier and whichever gets it attempts to pacify the three troll groupings within the specified time. In my experiences having the pacifier isn’t any sort of guarantee with the side failing upwards of 50% of the time

People generally forget that: You have a short time frame to get to all three objectives. Slowing down the enemy pacifier is as effective as killing them outright.

The “oh – po0p” moment: Your team is spread out all over the place guessing which section the enemy will try and pacify next, they go to a different one for an easy cap

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THE WARbert REPORT: MOURKAIN TEMPLE

Mourkain Temple is a Tier 2 Scenario in the Dwarves vs Greenskin Pairing. The game is very simple: get, and hold onto, the Mourkain Artifact for as long as you can. You get points for holding onto the artifact and for killing enemies. The artifact holder gets bonus points for killing while holding it, and there are bonus points if you kill the artifact holder. If the artifact drops it stays on the ground where the person was killed for a short while.

Match typically goes like this: Both sides rush to the artifact. First one to get it rushes back to their own spawn area.

People generally forget that: The first side to get the artifact pretty much always wins. If a scenario queue pops up for Mourkain Temple, enter as fast as you can instead of grinding out a few more mobs. If you come into the game a second after it has started you have put your team at a severe disadvantage.

The “Aw $hit moment”: You don’t get the ball first

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THE WARbert REPORT: PHOENIX GATE

Over the next few days I am going to touch upon the three T2 scenarios and my experiences playing them. The core of the characters on the server I play on seem to be in this level range, so now is a good time to discuss how to win! My main character is a R18 RR14 Engineer, so will share the perspective in that regard. Keep in mind, the observations I have had are from my server only – I am very curious if other people are seeing the same things.

Phoneix Gate is the T2 scenario for the HEvDE pairing. It is your typical capture the flag scenario similar to Warsong Gulch from WoW – to capture the enemy’s flag your flag must not be in the hands of the enemy. The map is a good layout with a lot of space and ways to cross. The scenario also has siege weapons that come into play for both sides adding an interesting extra layer you need to be aware of. The siege weapons have longer range and do more damage than your typical attacks. You get points per player kill and per flag capture. The scenario is first to 500 points and between two competent teams that score is rarely reached – be prepared to be in there for the whole 15 minutes.

Match typically goes like this: Order sends a small team to capture the flag, and leaves the rest on defence. Destruction leaves a small team to defend their flag, and sends the rest on offence.

People generally forget that: ANY damage done stops a person from picking up a flag. DOTs and instant damage abilities are king here. A single person can keep 5 enemies from picking up the flag for a good period of time. Stick a DOT/AOE on and stay alive until reinforcements come. Stop people from picking up the flag at all costs, even if you are going to die. (I love seeing a MDPS about to kill a healer, walk in beside them, take the flag while the enemy is more focused on getting a kill.)

The ‘Aw sh*t’ moment: Your side is so focused on killing what is in front of you that you do not pan to keep your eye on the flag regularly, and someone sneaks in from the side and takes it. ALWAYS pan regularly to guard the flag or at least try to have the flag in your field of vision at all times when on defence.

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A MOMENT FOR CLARITY

Having discerned a clarity issue in my previous (and most “famous”, because of it) post, I figured I would add a moment of (attempted) clarity. As much as I am already tired of discussing the WAR EULA, and EULA’s in general perhaps I positioned myself into an unclear stance, I would like to correct that.

I didn’t even realize the EULA was annoying until it was reported at Broken Toys. (I am not going to link to it again, I am sure everyone reading this has read it. If not, it is in my previous post). At that point, I did do a “Hey, yeah, that IS kind of annoying. Wonder why that is”. I didn’t have a second thought about it until I was cruising my favorite Warhammer fan site and found a poll regarding it. It too, is linked in the previous entry. That poll shows that (currently) 42% of the particpants of the poll are so outraged at the inconvenience of the new EULA format that they would either a) Not buy the game, b)find it highly annoying and will play the game less, or c) will think twice before booting up the game. This was the part I was flabbergasted at. WAR will have a ton of balance issues (class/realm/server) and the game will turn itself upside down in year one with nerfs and buffs. That doesn’t worry anyone – what DOES worry them is having to spend the (now cliche) 5 seconds of their life to do it. They don’t care about the CONTENT of the EULA and what it may, or may not contain, but having to click it upon logging in each time is such an inconvenience the game is now a pile a junk and not as worth playing. That was the stem of my rant.

Now, some people read the rant and saw the links to blogsites reporting it and falsely (although understandably) assumed that was where my rant was aimed at. Here is the kicker – Of the 200+ page views that entry had, only 4 bothered to click the straw poll link which better illustrates where my rant was aimed at. I do admit now that was a  newbie blogger error and next time I will make that portion more clear – perhaps a direct quote or a better break down of the numbers – to make sure people understand that was where my source of frustration stemmed from. It wasn’t aimed at Scott or the people reporting that it was a minor inconvenience and trying to figure out the purpose of the change from existing MMO EULA’s. I assumed that when you put a link in as part of your argument people would click it. Lesson learned.

That misunderstanding lead to my now good friend Matt’s rant which lead to my retort rant and things, typically, spiralled out of control from a misunderstanding of communication. I suppose that is the challenge. When evaluating my blogging style I would consider it conversation blogging. I do not write as if I was submitting an essay or business report – I just ramble on with the thoughts currently in my head and put it out there. Other sites I visit are much more careful about the language and emphasis they use. I will try to mirror that in some regards; I like keeping it informal but at the same time can see what can happen without proper precaution. I am not an industry icon or professional analyst. I am just a guy who is in with the general gaming population who sees and hears what a lot of general gamers think and say. I take that and my own personal opinion and put it out there to check the pulse of what gamers are thinking (and feeling) and see what comes of it.

Hopefully that has cleared any confusion. *crosses fingers*.

Stop The Presses!

Sharpen your pencils and get your stamps ready. It is time to contact your Congress-person, Member of Parliament, or Town Shaman. The greatest video gaming injustice of all time has been committed! We, as gamers with precious little time, cannot stand back and accept this atrocity. Who cares if there are other important things going on in the world, if we don’t stop this now life as we know it is about to end! FIGHT THE POWER!

Puhleeeease. I get a lot of redicule from family, friends, mild acquaintances and even complete strangers for being a gamer. This is the first time I have actually been embarrassed on behalf of the adult gaming community. It is definitely worthwhile to point out the EULA pops up everytime as a typical direction we will be seeing in online gaming, for sure – but the comments from people who have issue with 5 seconds of delay with their 3 hour mountain dew nourished play sessions illustrating this is an outrage of some sort is downright laughable. A straw poll shows ~40% of people who are unhappy with this decision may not buy the game or limit their play time because of this. Good riddance!

MMO companies are getting sued like crazy. Sometimes they are losing. It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better and an obvious argument in court is “I didn’t understand/read it”. Honestly, who really does? The EULA/CoC should require you to hire legal representation to fully understand your rights. I am not kidding. The document is written for courts by lawyers and doesn’t contain much in terms for the layman. In documents such as that, a simple misuse of the word “the” can crumble the legitimacy of it. End users are not supposed to understand it – they are only supposed to sign off on it. Be thankful that you don’t have to check a box at the end of each line. Be thankful that you do not have to hire legal counsel to review it before agreeing to it – because eventually one of these big companies are going to lose a big law suit and then you will have to – or some other drastic, stupid measure. Take the 5 seconds, powerscroll down, click a check box, click accept, and go play.

My favorite complaint amongst the comments is the person who said it was sooo annoying to have to click it again after every crash to desktop, and they may not play anymore because of the annoyance. That is right. They weren’t complaining that the game was crashing to desktop – hey, thats no big deal, its just a game afterall – but they are considering quitting because it takes them an extra 5 seconds to log back in. Think about that for a moment. With all the real issues with our MMO games, the industry, and gaming in general it is really sad that 5 seconds is the big word of the day. Maybe even the week. I think we, as gamers, need more important issues to complain about. Someone bring back Jack Thompson, please?

I was having a picnic with my mom and dad when I was 10. The three of us sat on a blanket in a nice park eating a nice meal and ma and pa popped a bottle of wine. A police officer came by and told them to put it away. Suposedly there is some sort of law that there is no drinking in public. My dad (who is a cop) explained to me then that laws are made for the lowest common denominator of the population. My parents were not hurting anyone by sipping a nice glass of wine, but the three winos at the other end of the park who would drink themselves into oblivion, puke all over the kids playground and crap in their own pants were. That is just an example of why a stupid law has to pass to make it fair for everyone. The EULA is very similar. For most of us, who are not going to hack accounts, farm gold, exploit the game, or sell our accounts the EULA and CoC will never apply to us. However, there is a lowest common denominator in the gaming population. Taking our 5 seconds to agree to that will help curb their impact.

*UPDATE* : A reasonable voice sounds off here along with some moderate, human-like insight. Seems like the CoC checkbox is being removed.

*UPDATE #2* : Remember that lowest common denominator we talked about? In case you were wondering “What Would Matt Do” I have it for you: Miss the point.

I am not mad at Lum the Mad Scott Jennings. I am a fan of his blog and find it is a good place for critical, constructive thought and discussion on gaming and other general issues. My rant above wasn’t aimed at Scott, it was aimed at the 30+ pages of Matt-types freaking out on forums how this is a make break issue and they may not buy it because of it. Because the 5 seconds is so crucial. Yes, as stated below in my comment replies the Mythic EULA definitely needs work – but 5 seconds isn’t a big deal. Anyway, a few key counterpoints to Matt’s miscomprehension

“You have know idea what you are clicking, so shut the fuck…” – Obviously the sarcasm was lost on Matt. Albeit, find me one single person who reads the EULA everytime they have to (whether it be upon install, patch, or every time you launch) and congratulations – you have found a liar. The only reason a person would read the EULA every time is if a) they want to break it, b) general interest for a class/hobbyist, or c) are a lawyer and are looking to write one for their company, or for case law. The point is they purposely design the EULA so the average gamer doesn’t want to read it. They could make it much simpler to read, in layman’s terms so the typical gamer could understand it. They don’t want you to waste your time reading it and THEY just want you to sign off on it.

“No other MMO has to do it for legal reasons…” – This is a new ball game. Surely Mythic learned from their previous game? Perhaps EA has a lawyer or two with a little bit of experience in EULA’s? Really, Matt is suggesting that they aren’t required at all. Hurry up and let them know that so they can save millions in legal costs – and then lose it all when some idiot sues. Bold prediction: Blizzard will change the way their EULA works, as will future companies. The more suits they get against them – and the more they have to sue people, the more the kinks in the EULA become apparent when applied in a court of law. I am sure Mythic is onto something – why would they inconvenience their users for no reason? (hint: they don’t hate you. You buy their games.) Electronic EULA’s are going to evolve with each iteration. They will get worse, and less convenient, with each iteration.

“Be thankful that you do not have to hire legal counsel to review it..” – I even said that was stupid, if you read the next line. That too, dripping in sarcasm, was missed. It was an example of how bad it can get. Clicking each line (will probably happen soon) to the extreme of having to hire a lawyer. It was an extreme illustration. Sigh.

“Remember, friends, it’s all right to call a spade a spade. Even if you’re fanboi. As a matter of fact, it’s perfectly all right to call out dumb features AND to still like the game. Crazy.” – Here I actually agree with him. I didn’t say you couldn’t, anywhere. My point was that when 5 seconds becomes a make or break it point over a game purchase MORESO than the actual game itself then we have lost focus on what is important in gaming. If we are drastically annoyed by 5 seconds out of our lives, then we need to re-evaluate. I agreed with Scott that discussing “why” is important as it is pointing to future, even less friendly, trends we are going to see – but if the 5 second inconvenience is ruining your day so much it is making you angry, then you definitely need a new hobby. NOTE: I did not say mildly annoyed. I said angry. Scott was mildly annoyed. A lot of commenters/board posters were downright furious.

Matt even takes a shot at the name of the site (akin to a ‘yo momma joke) and the irony is definitely not lost – “I has pc” is a spoof name on the board trolling, tinfoil hat wearing, bottom feeding, nerd raging segment his post so aptly represents (see what I did thar? AMIRITE?). Perhaps I should drop a few f-bombs for emphasis. What Matt SHOULD do is approach the issue the way he says he WOULD do at the end of his article.

Am I a Snowflake?

My experiences with my PC and gaming leads me to think I am unique. I don’t seem to have the problems that the “angry” online populace does. Visat 64? Runs like a charm. Never had a single install issue. I don’t understand all the hate. DRM? Never screwed up on my machine. I am very pro-DRM for that reason. After all, since I don’t have a problem then everyone else must be lying. If I go to a restaurant ten times, and get great service and food every time it automatically discounts anyone who hates the restaurant that went once. They are either mucho-whineros or just want a platform to be angry about. That is why I have a hard time believing all the Vista/DRM naysayers as people who are more interested in proving a point than recounting honest experiences. Now, I am not so closed minded as to believe that not only do I have the only perfect running PC in the world but also that my experiences indeed may be a minority and I am just one lucky sonofabitch. It is hard to discount your own experiences to believe in others.

With all that said, how was your Warhammer launch? Mine was as smooth as pie (or cake, if you tend to swing that way) and blognation seems awful slow the last couple days as people are playing the game, instead of commenting on it. My server was down for 2 minutes when I tried to login my first time (at exactly 12:01) – it was the first one on the list and I believe everyone spamming “Login” at 12:01 on the default server caused the boom. They got it right back up and not a hitch the rest of the day. No queue, no downtime, smooth gameplay, tons ‘o fun, all gravy. Some message boards tout this as undoutedly the champion of the history of all MMO launches (which it better be – Mythic had a lot of other launches to learn from!). I had one friend who mysteriously would disconnect every 30 minutes – but that was the only negative thing I heard. So how was YOUR launch experience? Is WAR a snowflake? Are you?

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk!

I know I am talking a lot about WARHAMMER ONLINE lately. A lot of good! It is launching soon much to my excitement, and heck, it is the talk of the town. I too live in that town so let’s get to more talking. Using Beta/Open Beta as a reference it is hard not to already notice some trends which will detract from the Warhammer experience. These trends have been visible throughout the beta process and while I hope new blood alone will reverse some of them we will have to deal with them after launch. Hopefully they are just fads instead of trends.

Nyuk #1) Gravitation towards Empire vs. Chaos: No pairing is as busy. EvC has the quickest Scenario pops and most open field RVR action. This part doesn’t make sense to me as all 3 pairings are very well done. People know this is always the busiest pairing so that is where they tend to go. Question is why? (Did I just answer that question?)

More ‘Nyuks’ after the break!

Nyuk #2) Lack of Tank class for Empire/Dark Elf: The lack of a tank class for the Empire has shown to be problematic. In Nordenwatch (the EvC scenario) Chaos has a self served holy trinity +1 – Tank, Healer, Melee DPS and Ranged DPS where Empire is missing two of those –  no pure Healer (Warrior Priest is a solid healer, but have to be on the front lines making them easily focus fired and done away with without a true pure healer behind them) and no Tank. This problem is sometimes alleviated by people who realize Nyuk #1 above and you get the odd Sword Master or Iron Breaker in the EvC. When you don’t it is disasterous – especially facing a side able to field a complete group that compliments all roles. In my Nordenwatch scenarios (I have ran well over 50 the past 3 days) I can tell you who is going to win by checking the roster for each side before the match starts. If Order has zero tanks, its over. If Destro has zero Zealots, its over. If both sides have a mix of both it is a damn fun match ahead. (side note – if Order has 10 BW’s it is generally over as well)

Nyuk #3) No cross pairing scenarios: I covered the reasons here in the comments. This initiative alone could alleviate both N1 and N2 combined. Hint: I think this is essential for this game.

Nyuk #4) Destruction Population Imbalance: If things stay true to both numerous online votes and what is actually represented in OB Order looks to be 1.2-1.5 to 1 underdogs. May not seem like a big deal, but dealing with multiple thousands per server those numbers add up. I have heard a lot of arguments how those polls are not representative of the actual player base but polls are done for a reason – an indication. In WoW those same ratios hold true on PVP servers (but not PVE) so it will be interesting how those numbers pass over to RvR. There are a lot of possible reasons for this but honestly I believe the BIG one is how cool those bad guys look. Take James Blunt, put him in a wig and a dress you have the Sword Master. Take Lou Ferrigno, paint him green (if only it had been done before), chip out an extra tooth or two and you have a Black Orc.

We all know where Nyuk comes from. It seems like a stooge move to me to not realize how obvious the first three are and not have them addressed before launch (like, weeks ago). A small beef of mine is how a lot of developers expect the player base to solve thier problems and inefficiencies (see: mods, etc.) I know the Mythic crew expects a lot more people to cross pairings but if it hasn’t materialized significantly this late in the game, why should we expect it to surface at all? The Class cuts, and to a lesser extent the Cities cut will impact this game in less obvious ways than we have seen already. (Cities especially at endgame – wait until you get there to understand. Class cuts moreso immediately, as all 4 Nyuks above are related to the Class cuts to varying degrees.) I still think the quality of the game far outshines these issues but someday we’ll find it, the nyuk-less connection, the lover, the dreamer, and me.

Can you think of anything else that feels Nyuk-ish that makes you worry 3 days from Head Start Launch??

Do You Know What Time it Is?

Yeeah Booooy!

Back
Caught you lookin’ for the same thing
It’s a new thing check out this I bring
Uh Oh the roll below the level
‘Cause I’m livin’ low next to the bass C’mon
Turn up the radio
They claim that I’m a criminal
By now I wonder how
Some people never know
The enemy could be their friend guardian
I’m not a hooligan
I rock the party and
Clear all the madness, I’m not a racist
Preach to teach to all
‘Cause some they never had this
Number one, not born to run
About the gun…
I wasn’t licensed to have one
The minute they see me, fear me
I’m the epitome – a public enemy
Used, abused without clues
I refused to blow a fuse
They even had it on the news
Don’t believe the hype…

If you are with me after all that clicking (or just skipped the clicking to begin with) feel better about two things: 1 – I had 3x the number of links planned, and 2 – I am leading up to a point. Eventually. Working on it. Like most suburban middle class teenagers I love(d) rap music growing up. Public Enemy was my group of choice and on the playground with my other priveleged-at-birth friends we would get down with the gospel of one of the world’s most influential rap groups. Pre Flavour Flav sellout dating show, of course. Chuck D cannot be happy about that. I would have sent the S1W’s to take care of Sinceer before she spawned Candwhore – good thing FF took care of that on his own in good time.

MMO’s/PC games are all one big hype machine. Problem with this, among a million related things, that the same hype built up by marketing departments gets pretty much every major release off on the wrong track. Sure, they may result in large release numbers but you could easily argue that those same departments are also the cause of the downfall of the new release – even before the game hits the shelves. Let’s look at that, shall we? And please, don’t believe the hype. Don’t even create the hype to believe in in the first place.

My dream MMO/PC game release is very simple. Make a game. All of the money you would spend hyping it two/three years before release goes towards making the best game possible. That’s right, zero market penetration. When the game is a couple months from release start marketing the hell out of it. At that point to release you actually know the content of your own game and can convey semi-realistic expectations. I say ‘semi-realistic’ because we all know Marketing is still going to make it out to more than it is. The problem with the current Hype Machine is that years before a gamer will get his hands on a game they already have formed an opinion on what that game is, how it will play, and how it would be better if the programmers would make the game the way they would want it. And that is where new games fail.

Marketing a game before you know what features will be included creates expectations. Not regular old expectations but the most dangerous kind – unrealistic ones. All the time, energy, and most importantly, money spent trying to curb those company/consumer created expectations as release nears ends up being wasted expense in the long run. Typical consumer hears about game. Gets excited about it. Follows its development. Posts on boards. Reads dev blogs. Creates unrealistic expectations. Game arrives launch day and consumer is dissappointed (regardless of how good the game really is – because of the marketing cycle that parallelled the development cycle). Plays for a bit. Cancels subscription. Bitter towards the brand.

AoC was a pretty good game. So was Titan Quest. Problem is they couldn’t live up to their own hype. In this fervent market of mass overhype developers are condemning their games to failure before they even launch. Take AoC, remove all the pre-hype, allow the game to launch with lower numbers and build a fan base based on it’s true merits instead of dissapointing 400K of the 800K who bought the game at launch because YOU put it in their heads the game was more than it really was. In the long term the revenues will follow.

Marketing is Public Enemy #1.

iBlog

Perhaps you may have noticed something different with this entry. Perhaps not, at least until you hit the end of a line. Much like full justification is gone noticeably so is my PC – I am writing this on my iPhone.

Waiting for a meeting to begin surfing apps I came accross the WordPress addin for my phone. Free download, why not, give it a whirl. So far I can tell you it is okay.

I am a purebread visual editor type. They invented WYSIWYG for me exclusively (I am not ashamed to admit) so thankfully you won’t have to stomach through any not-so-funny-or-interesting links throughout this post. I reviewed an existing post and the syntax required to embed a link over text isn’t my cup of tea – heck it looks so uncomfortable to type I would rather clip Joe’s toenails.

While I consider myself tech savvy I am yet a newer breed – TSL (tech savvy lazy). I get the odd gadget, put my own computer together and help my less fortunate friends with their porn injected spyware problems. I didn’t get an iPhone to be hip, or different, or bleeding edge I bought it to replace my Blackberry. About two years ago my BB and I parted ways in a most horrific fashion. I quit a job that had required travelling, and one day while walking down the street texting that same resignation note the BB slipped from my hands, hit the ground, and mysteriously ended up under my foot. Hey, things happen.

Now that I am travelling again I figured that instead if constantly telling people I would email them the next day (or worse) I bought an email capable phone. Figured I would try to be hip while doing so. [b]I have no idea if this will bold or not upon publish. Move along, nothing to see here.[/b]

I do prefer my iPhone over my BB but I definitely don’t like blogging on it. I am going to leave this post unmolested with it’s spelling, grammar, formatting (and content) vanillaness as a reminder to me on my otherwise clean site that mobile blogging is for professionals, and you (me) should not try this at home.

Or at least until a true WYSIWYG editor is available.

Move Along – Nothing to See Here

In the spirit of disclosure, which seems to be a big topic today on blogs (and link to other blogs) I must admit I am a big fan of KTR. Look to the right on my huge list of blog-folk I have there. Kill Ten Rats is in the list. Right near the top! (Please, don’t get into semantics on how many are actually on my list to begin with. KTR is top two baby!) I was a very, very late bloomer in the blogoshphere (see? I don’t even know the hip word used for that sort of description) and it was one of the first I read regularly while planning my own blogomination.

Ethic made a post today that piqued my interest. Were the corporate overlords trying to sway my beloved ad free daily reading of choice? Were they being wined and dined? Were hookers involved? I wanted to comment – only to see that comments were locked. I planned to make a fun jab at my peers along the lines of ‘anything titled “Full Disclosure” shouldn’t be closed’ (haha, badum-ching, lol,  _insert other cliche here_) but the truth of the matter is I was very curious as to whether the article itself was prompted from within the authors, from the readership, or to keep the corporate virus at bay. Keep in mind it had absolutely no bearing on how I felt about the KTR guys, or the site – it was just that damn curiosity. What would prompt a post like that? Google had no answers! The post itself reminded me of a police scene with gigantic yellow caution ribbons criss-crossed over 6 city blocks and the army, air force, national guard, and local police surrounding it reminding people to move along because there is nothing to see. The fun part of that is with no ribbons highlighting the fact there is something to see people wouldn’t stop in the first place.

Armed with the deductive powers of Nancy Drew, I had surmised that Ethic must have been getting some offers and was tired  of receiving them – so figured he would stop others from trying the same. [ed. note -am I right? huh? Shameless attempt to get Eth to post here – you can have my WoW account if you do!]  It seems a choice was made based on a personal set of values to not accept the gifts, and to make sure people knew it. Like most choices made on moral ground it is open to scrutiny from those who have a different set. A little free account doesn’t measure up to much. Either does a little bit of weed. While I respect his choice to not accept anything free from any company he may (or may not) post a public opinion about I tend to lean on a bit of a different side – that I would prefer he take an account (if he hadn’t planned on buying it himself), give it a whirl, and let us know what his honest thoughts were about it. Like this guy, (who also covered this topic much better than I) who I also read, I read because I respect his opinion regardless of whether I agree with it or not. And I am pretty sure any regular reader of any particular blog would be able to call BS if the author suddenly tried to pull wool over everyone’s eyes for the almighty dollar. Reading comments on the other blogs who have covered this some people take it as very serious news, and a very scary tinfoil hat slope of danger one should not tread upon. Would you rather have the information from a marketing department, or a source you trust?

I guess the fun part of the entire thing is how one small post can balloon into a giant blogcentric code red. Whose blog can you trust* nowadays?

*note – this article was NOT brought to you by EA Mythic, makers of Warhammer Online : Age of Reckoning.

Perception

With the Warhammer:Age of Reckoning Open Beta underway I am curious what the initial impression is from the typical (ie: people without a preconceived fanboy or doomsday view) gamer. As mentioned before, I am looking forward to it’s release. I also have to come clean and share that my perception perhaps isn’t a very fair one. I have been exposed to the game since sometime in Beta 2 (servers currently running 4.1) and as such my perception of the game isn’t from a fresh clean slate – it is from a much different viewpoint.

When you are invited into a beta you expect there to be problems – that is why you are there. Since it is just a beta you tend to roll with the problems and issues and playtest the game realizing that it is going to change an awful lot before it is released. Beta testers are also exposed to the improvement process. From my first beta build to the current point the game has improved immensely and since I experienced that change first hand it gives an optimism of what else is to come (something a new player just hopping into the game for the first time hasn’t experienced). Beta testers also have an in depth knowledge of gameplay mechanics, general knowledge of different class strengths and weaknesses, and a true feel for the game – all things a fresh new player hopping into the experience for the first time doesn’t have. Because of this your typical beta player already has an opinion on the game both in it’s present and future state.

New players have only been exposed to the opinions of those who have beta tested and may have already formed their opinions based on NDA lifted information. So, what I am most curious about today, if you just booted WAR for the first time and have kept an open mind before doing so, what is your perception on the game? More importantly, what did you honestly expect?

With each new MMO released we old crotchety gamers always face disappointment. Yet another Fantasy MMO. Just the same as [insert existing MMO here] with a few extra fluff items, the same old release bugs, yadda yadda yadda. Being critical of the design and release process is important as it should garner improvement with each new release. By now, surely we should be wearing virtual reality goggles and LARP’ing are way (alone in our rooms, of course) through the MMO grind. Every single game genre has improved this way. First Person Shooters have evolved tremendously. RTS games have a completely different mechanic and gameplay than in the old days. No, I am not oozing sarcasm here, honestly. Our forms of entertainment in their most base form, from movies, to music, to gaming genres really haven’t changed one bit – yet we expect some sort of miracle innovation with each new release. Crysis is not really different from the original Doom. Sins of a Solar Empire is not really all that different from Command and Conquer. World of Warcraft is not all that different from Everquest. Of course you can point to graphical improvements and other things that are different but at the core of it all we are playing the exact same games today as we did 10 years ago with a few extra mouse buttons to click and prettier scenery to watch while doing so. Welcome to the entertainment business.

Movies haven’t evolved at their core. At this stage in our entertainment evolution surely the audience should be immersed in a virtual reality setting as part of the movie, not just zombies staring at the screen. The entertainment industry finds what works and rides it as long as they can. Guess what – MMO’s are core entertainment now, not an underground economy of geeks and visionaries and new titles are going to cater to the core audience. Regular folk who have a comfort level with how these games present themselves, how the UI works, what a quest is – these mechanics won’t change unless the core audience changes. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. We spent so many years hoping to be mainstream so better games would be produced that we could enjoy. Look at where that has taken us.

I think I have lost my bite with new releases now since I pretty much know what to expect and have lowered my expectations of gaming in general – so much so, that as long as the game is fun I may play it. I don’t let myself get disappointed expecting true innovation. On the micro level, I still want to know your thoughts on Warhammer. On the macro level I would love to know your perception of the MMO and entertainment industries as a whole and what you really expect.

Spoilers

I like baseball. I like it for a lot of reasons. My beloved blue jays are 7 games over the .500 hundred mark for the first time in three years and are a very large miracle away from making the postseason. They are, however, playing the great role of spoiler for teams ahead of them in the standings. The past few series, they went 3-2 against Boston, 2-1 against the Yankees, and 3-0 against the Twins – all teams fighting for a playoff spot. While it is great to see the boys finally start playing to their potential it is heartbreaking as a fan to wonder why they didn’t to it about a month ago so instead of being the spoiler, they could be a contender. 5 of their last 7 series in the season are against teams who have a chance at the postseason, so maybe I can take a small victory by having them ruin someone else’s season. With 7 games left against Boston it could be a lot of fun to throw a wrench into Red Sox Nation.

I enjoy sports games and perennially play the EA sports titles. The biggest spoiler for me is 2K sports with their baseball exclusive licensing agreement with the MLB. While I own a console that 2K makes a ball game for I refuse to play it as they don’t make it on the platform I want to play it on – my PC. Since they have spoiled my baseball gaming (MVP 2005 I believe was the last licensed title for the PC) I refuse to purchase any of their titles for my other systems. I am sure they are feeling the heat from my almighty Canadian dollar. While none of this is new news it recently began to bother me again and for once I hope the Evil Axis of gaming does indeed overthrow the 2K Sports team.

Until that happens (or the license expires) I guess I will just have to spend time at real ballparks watching real ballgames, drinking real beer with real friends.

I Hate Playing With Myself

Obviously, that puts me in a minority with my gaming compatriots. After being taunted by Joe at Massive Crits for my lack of FPS content (even though I expressed my love for them publically here) I figured I would explain. I have been spoiled with online gaming forever. This sets up expectations for me that typically can’t be met in a single player game. Humans add a layer of complexity to any game you play along with them that can’t be scripted – extreme talent and extreme stupidity. Both change your style and manner of play depending on which you face. In the online gaming sphere usually it is both at the same time. Sometimes by the same player.

This limits my FPS exposure in gaming since most FPS’s have the online portion as a secondary part of their main campaign. Notable exceptions of course are the Battlefield series, which I play regularly, and the ever so popular Team Fortress 2 which while fun doesn’t completely suit my style. I only recently picked up Half Life 2 (the orange box) from Steam (admitting that probably lost me any shred of credibility I had left with you, my esteemed reader(s)) and to be honest I only bought it because I got hooked on the comic Concerned. While it is a good comic solo after playing HL2 it really shines. I stopped reading the comic until I played through the first few levels so I could get the punchlines better. Sad part is, I kept getting ahead in the comic over the game – not because the game isn’t good but that damn single player just doesn’t do it for me like it used to – so I kept hitting spots in the comic where I realized I haven’t been so had to keep booting up the game to catch up.

What I am really longing for is a great Co-op experience and a new zombie game (the world needs more zombies) which leaves me highly anticipating Valve’s upcoming title Left 4 Dead. Zombies don’t work in player vs player, as players do not know how to behave like zombies (in gaming – many have behaving like a zombie down to an art in real life). Something about the overwhelming odds against humanity versus an evil force (ie: most movies released the past 30 years) and working alongside other unlikely heroes for a common goal is just plain fun. While online play is always my choice, in this example playing against a person instead of AI usually ruins the experience instead of expanding it.

What is missing in L4D and the plethora of zombie mods is a sandbox factor. My dream FPS would have the mechanics of Project Reality which captures the shooting deviation and intensity of firing a gun pretty much perfectly. I don’t want to be Rambo while fighting zombies I want every shot to count. Here is how my dream zombie shooter plays out. I am going to use PR as the base, as I think it would be perfect for it with the quality and selection of the maps, the mechanics, the kits, and the existing gameplay modes which would translate nicely into zombie land.

The setting is simple. You are a member of a military unit (stop me if you have heard this one before) a regular grunt, perhaps with some special training for additional kit usage. You are deployed to an area of the world which has a zombie infestation. There are two game mods – “Rescue” (based off the Insurgency gameply in PR) and “Cleanout” based on AAS – Attack And Secure. In Rescue, you have your main base of operations and when certain criteria are met (X number of zombies killed, etc) a marker pops up on that map indicating where people are that need to be rescued. It is that simple. While the first portion of the game will be building defences (bunkers, firebases, barbed wire fences, Heavy Machine gun nests, etc) and defending the main spawn point for the troops, the second part is having squads go out and search for survivors and save them. Just like in PR, you can set forward bases and encampments. Save X number of civvies and you win. Have your army wiped out and you lose. The survivors are always there (as the weapon caches are in Insurgency) and the markers are just to help a team a long who is having a hard time finding them. The survivors will typically be in buildings or on roofs and have some minor defences built up keeping the zombies out – so we will have to add a timer as those defences won’t hold up forever. AAS mode has a series of capturable areas that must be taken in a specific order (ensuring that action is easy to be found) and there are always two points available for capture – which also means there are always two points that need to be defended. Zombies can overthrow any compound and push the army back. To win, capture and hold all points. Run out of tickets and you lose.

I would like to see a change in how the Zombies work. Typically you either have fast zombies, or slow zombies, and usually always stupid zombies. To build on the excitement and experience, there should be at least three type of zombies : The typical slow moving dumb ones (Dawn of the Dead), which there are a ton of, mix in a healthy dose of fast moving ones (28 days later), and have a few smarter ones – ones that take cover and still know how to use a gun – although not as effective as in their human state (Canadian Armed Forces). To make this fit in the storyline it is as simple as stating the longer a zombie is a zombie, the more they degrade to the slow/stupid state as their bodies break down. Mixing up zombie types would add a layer of fun to the game and force players to adjust tactics depending on what they are facing. Zombies would also have to have the capability to damage constructs and vehicles with their bare hands so tanks just cant roam around untouchable – of course it would be very limited damage but swarms could be effective against assets. In every map, there will be unlimited zombies but their spawn rate would be proportionate to the size of the map, the number of people in Co-op, and how many objectives are remaining. It would be a challenge to balance the feeling of dread but modders/programmers are very clever.

I could go on and on to make a fantastic zombie mod. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources or talents to mod, so I will continue to dream it up and see if my fairy princess (no, not you Velocityboy) arrives and grants me my wish. If you haven’t played PR before some of the above probably doesn’t make sense or sound as good to you as it should. If you have played PR you will know what I am talking about, and I am talking pure sweet FPS zombie on zombie sandbox action. If that doesn’t turn you on then something is wrong with you.

Get Down with RMT (yeah you know me!)

Obscure musical reference. Probably sad that I think that is obscure. Free comment post to whoever figures that one out first.

Real Money Transfers. The Yankees, Bill Gates, and Jack Thompson loathe of most MMO gamers. You will probably add my name to the loathing list when I tell you that with a few changes, the underground RMT model would actually be good for gaming. Whoa! was that a tomato you just threw at me? That’s okay, I’ll make a RMT sandwich with that, a slice of bacon, and two pieces of whole wheat bread.

With all the hubbub with the underground RMT world the sad truth is it is a market easily crushed – and while doing so, properly, could be a celebrated event for gamers. MMO’s are one colossal universal competition. My MMO is better than your MMO. My Guild is better than your guild. My toon is better than your toon. My Sword of Ultimate Truth is better than your Hammer of Justice. And so on. The problem with MMO’s is that to be the best (or simply just enjoy yourself) it isn’t solely about skill – it is about time. I guarantee you, if I could play 40-50 hours a week compared to your 10-15 hours a week I will be “better” at it than you. (Divorced, probably overweight, and dealing with a bout of carpal tunnel to boot – but still, “better”). Couple the time issue with those same competition obsessed players willing to spend money on in game things to get even further ahead and the disparity widens. Enter RMT to save the day.

I bought gold in WoW once. Probably from a company that hijacked you and your guild-mate’s account to provide me with that gold. I apologize for that. Honestly, I didn’t think I was hurting anyone and was actually supplying 10 year old kids with a much needed 30 cent an hour job to care for their 8 brothers and sisters. I felt dirty, like sneakily downloading porn while my wife knitted a sweater for her ailing grandmother but I did it, and it felt good.

To be fair, I did it before I really knew the ramifications, or even that it was “illegal”. I was falling behind in my gaming time, and instead of spending hours a week farming junk to make gold by making and selling different junk, I really just wanted to enjoy the game by actually playing the game, not doing my second job in it. Back then, it was dirt cheap. $99.00 for 3000 gold. Considering what I typically charge my clients per hour, I was actually making money by spending that little amount for something that would take me 30 hours in game – and spending those 30 hours making real money. It went to good use, and many a guild/server mate enjoyed the benefit of my newfound cash flow. The 3 months I was able to stretch out that purchase was the best three months I spent in game, because I could do things I actually wanted to do, instead of being forced to to do menial tasks. By the time it was gone I started looking at making another purchase – that is when I did a lot of soul and google searching and realized what exactly I was buying. Hacked accounts were increasing, and I realized it was teh bad. I  took my little skeleton, put it deep in the closet, and never spoke of it again. Until now.

Since “time” is the ultimate qualifier for both your ability to enjoy, and in some parts excel, in any given MMO the playing field needs to be levelled. The best way to do that, while crushing the whole account hack/sweat shop issue, is for MMO companies to sell their own gold. To set the price simply scour the internet for what illegal companies are selling it for (it’s not like they are hiding) and cut that price in half. If they drop, so do you. Make it so it is entirely impossible for them to profit from it. Why would anyone buy gold from an “illegal” source and not be guaranteed of it’s delivery when they can get it from a reputable dealer? It would destroy the gold selling aspect of the underground RMT economy, and make your average gamer quite happy. If I was an MMO company I would do just that – however, I would balance it off with a lower monthly subscription fee. $10 a month (plus my set aside $5 a month for my gold) and hey, I am way ahead of where I am now.

On this argument some take the high road, saying they wouldn’t purchase or play a game that does this.  I find it ironic that people would rather pretend the “company” is doing “everything they can” to stop the real issue and turn a blind eye to the problem citing moral reasons instead of fighting this head on in the only true easy and simple mechasim to finally put it to rest. You are still playing that game, right now, knowing this junk is going on behind the scenes – let’s bring it out into the open.

The other way to fix this problem is to remove the parts of MMO’s that aren’t fun (such as grinding for gold) so you don’t have to worry about the gold in the first place. Somehow I don’t think that would fly with the MMO’er, as I think we all secretly hate ourselves. MMO’s have become more life like indeed – in real life, we work our 50 hours a week to be able to have fun. In MMO’s, we actually have to work in game before we can have fun in that game. Our fantasy worlds have less rewarding work than our real ones!

I’m off to self-loathe about that one for a bit. Anyone care to join me?

Chrome

No, not this – but this. Google released it’s beta of a web browser yesterday. It is, as reported, very minimalist. Page load times are very fast, and whether you love or hate google, it is definitely worth downloading to give it a shot. So far, everything I have tried with it has worked just peachy.

Will spend some more time today trying to break it (that is what betas are for, afterall) but my first impression is very simple. If this simple app can do everything IE/Safari/FFox can do, and faster and cleaner, what the hell is running in the background in our current browsers?

Nice cartoon here, explaining a bit.

Edit: Check out these sections of the Chrome End User Licence Agreement

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non- exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

 11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

17.1 Some of the Services are supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions. These advertisements may be targeted to the content of information stored on the Services, queries made through the Services or other information.

Scary, Scary stuff. The language is every open ended in 11.1 and 11.2.

Corrosion

My 3 year old son is in his “why?” phase. I knew this day would come, and have spent the past three years preparing for it. I refuse to give in and tell him “because I said so”, or “stop saying that”, and have mentally prepared myself for when he goes off on the “why?” chain. I break down each question to a more micro level until it borders rediculous. A typical exchange between the two of us goes something like this:

  • HIM: Dad, why are those two people kissing?
  • ME: Because they love each other.
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: Because they met, either at a bar or a wedding or something along those lines, were both completely bored out of their minds, maybe had a bit too much to drink, and became interested in one another enough to get to know each other better
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: Probably because most people in society define themselves by the partner they choose
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: Humans have a natural instinct to preserve the species through reproduction, regardless of how overpopulated we have made the world
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: At our core, we are just made up billions of cells that each perform a specific function, who a long, long time ago decided to hook up with billions of other little cells that performed a different function. Forming these little cell communities it was learned that more could be accomplished including the most important thing of all: survival. Now, when one set of billions of little cells happens upon another set of billions of little cells who has traits that seems to increase that chance of survivability even further there is a mutual attraction to ensure survival of the fittest. Strength in numbers, afterall, sonny-boy.
  • HIM: Oh. I see. Do you love Mommy?
  • ME: Why, yes I do
  • HIM: Why?
  • ME: …

[note: I really should insert something very clever here, such as she is my sould mate, or at bare minimum how she puts up with my often questionable hygiene practices – however the exchange was shared for a specific purpose, not to gain brownie points with my wife. Besides, the brownie point market is cornered by Prada, and I do not want to hedge in on their specialty.]

I know where he gets it, because I am always as interested in the “why?” as I am the fact. When Zubon made the comment that MMO’s compete for his dollars (and as such he has less leniency for post-beta product expectations) I wanted to understand better why I have much more leniency. To do that, I went back and revisited my MMO history and when, and why, I moved from MMO to MMO. Doing this will hopefully shed some light why there always seems to be two camps when it comes to MMO “issues”, so perhaps we can better define these camps – but more importantly, answer “why?”

Why does a new and shiny MMO corrode into old and dull? My first traditional MMO was Everquest – a game that I beta tested. I played EQ from release through the Shadows of Luclin expansion. My experience in EQ was a bit different than most, as I solely played on the testserver (through the item wipe – yay!). Back in the day EQ was magical, and the community I became a part of there was rediculously strong – part because it was the first 3D mmo for a lot of people but also because of the nature of the testserver. While I still make the odd post on my old guild’s website, the posts are typically months in between (but still fun to see people connecting). I still really enjoyed EQ when I left, but time limitations and always falling behind my in game friends was frustrating. Add to that, many people moving on to DAOC, the population dwindled as my time became more valuable, and it was time for me to visit new shores.

I joined DAOC about a year after release, and because of my past positive experience on the EQ testserver rolled up on Pendragon (which was also where some of my guildmates in EQ had gone for the same reason). Shiny and new still wasn’t quite as exciting as when EQ first launched (you never forget your first, right? What was her name again?) and toiled in guild leadership for the first time, in the Pendragon guild ‘Legends’, which was the leader of the Midgard alliance. Many years and RvR battles later and stomaching through the Trials of Atlantis expansion (after the developer inspired destruction of the Pendragon population), the game wasn’t fun for me anymore. My lone Shadowblade without the benefit of his Left Axe anymore, standing at the Emain Macha milegate waiting for something – anything – to kill or die to began talking to himself which surely wasn’t healthy. My co-gm and steadfast friend, Loremon, had left long ago to a new World (of Warcraft). Bile, my shadowblade parter extraordinaire no longer stood with me at the milegate as he was off getting some sort of real job, and Mehlan and his puppy were off driving a motorbike somewhere. Torrential was still around, but he was already planning for his funeral, and the blue color of alliance chat became less about defeating our enemies and more about how much ToA ruined DAOC, or even worse, how possible it was to solo or two man a keep – since that was all that was on the server at the time. While Loremon was resolute on having me join him in WoW, I was never quite ready when he asked. I finally was.

World of Warcraft, again, about a year after launch, was okay. The world didn’t WOW me like the previous two (pardon the pun?) and it was so simple comparatively to my previous two major MMO’s I almost felt my intelligence was insulted at first. It took me a while to shine up to WoW and the busier I became in my professional life, the more I appreciated it as it really worked for my schedule. I rolled a hunter a first (before I knew that everyone was already a hunter, and that no one needed – or wanted one – tagging around for anything back in those days) got to max level in a guild that Loremon was in – and then realized there was nothing for me to do. About that time, Loremon left (damn you!) and while I was with a good group of people, because of the solo nature of WoW I didn’t really know any of them. Everyone solo’d up to max level than began to figure out what to do in a group. There were no true bonds made, and I was ready to hang it up. I started reading boards, and learned how important (and rare) Druids were at the time – Innervate was one of the most important skills in the game back then and I decided to roll a druid, get to max level, and see the other part of what made WoW supposedly special – the end game raiding. The casual and bond-less guild I was a part of fell apart, and I made my trek solo again (not surprisingly), got to where I wanted to be, and began searching for a guild. My needs in a guild were a bit different now, being, uh, old – and I was very specific on what I wanted. The first time I posted on the WoW server boards “Level 60 druid, looking for guild” I received 20 replies the first day. Druids were indeed in demand, and for the first time in my WoW experience, I felt semi important. I joined the Grey Rangers, and it was a perfect fit. Not a bleeding end game content guild but a “hey, there are actually people like me playing in this game” guild. People mattered, families mattered, and the game and progress mattered – but the latter was third on the list. The leadership of that guild had it figured out real nice, and pretty much instantly after I joined that guild WoW turned out to be a good game. Funny how that happens. BC expansion was on the horizon, and the guild changed – we had recruited so many people and different camps had formed on in game expectations (to fill out a 40 man raiding roster) and at that time a small group of people decided they wanted something different when the expansion came with the new reduced raid size. Ascension was born, I somehow greased enough palms to be voted in as it’s Guild Master, and after a rough start and a lot of organizing and hard work with a ton of help from a lot of amazing people, we hit a great raiding stride – suddenly WoW was an AWESOME game. After being a GM for what seemed like a very long time (although much shorter in reality) 18 months into the expansion my professional life became rediculously busy, and while I didn’t have the time to do my GM job properly I somehow made it work – but inside I knew my time was coming. I had no excitement for the WOTLK announced expansion, the idea of levelling again the same old way, to get the same old loot rewards to face the same old raid bosses with maybe a twist or two to mechanics had zero interest for me. The people still did (do) but I couldn’t justify playing a scheduled 15 hours a week anymore with a young family, work overwhelming me, and additional responsibilities in game, so I stepped down, and let my subscription run out.

I did toy with a few other MMO’s during the WoW phase, notably DDO and LOTR but neither did it for me. I beta tested over 15 titles from 1998 to current, but the aforementioned titles are the only games I truely played.

My little personal history lesson has showed me one thing – I leave games when I am ready to, regardless of what is out there on the market. Perhaps that is why I have a lot of leniency for new games coming out of beta and going live, because I am not looking for the new game to “beat” my current experience, rather, I am looking for a new experience – one that fits my current personal, professional, and entertainment needs. My question to you, my esteemed readership (of 5?), is what makes you leave your current titles for new ones?

Why?