Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

What Do You Listen To?

Tipa gave me this idea with her latest post about music, and I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the bands/artists that I listen to that are either slightly obscure/older/completely awesome (in no particular order.) Sorry, Tipa, but I am going to have to steal a few 🙂 I only put up videos for a few of them, and a few are actually just still images because I thought the videos were stupid or they had the best sound quality. In any case, I hope you like them and I encourage you to check out the rest if you haven’t heard of them. I would love to know what some of our fellow bloggers listen to as well.

1. Zero 7 (Electronic’esque)
2. The Shins (60’s sound)
3. Blur (Brit Rock)
4. Travis (Brit Rock)
5. Joshua Radin (think Simon and Garfunkel)

6. Jamie Cullum – Twentysomething

7. Camera Obscura – If Looks Could Kill
8. Silverchair (Rock)

9. Jellyfish – New Mistake

10. The Gabe Dixon Band – Five More Hours

11. Sonata Arctica – Victoria’s Secret
12. Dream Theater (Prog Rock, or Fantasy Metal as I like to call it)
13. Nightwish (Fantasy Metal)
14. The Hush Sound (Indie Rock)
15. The Decemberists (Indie Rock)

16. Dishwalla – Angels and Devils
17. Muse (If you don’t know/like Muse, you probably need to get your head checked 😉 )

18. Nickel Creek – The Lighthouse’s Tale
19. Oscar Peterson (Jazz)
20. The Postal Service (Electronic)
21. Psapp (Electronic’esque)
22. Splender (Rock)
23. Spoon (Rock)

24. Steadman – Wave Goodbye
25. Vertical Horizon (Rock)
26. A Tribe Called Quest (Good, Old-School Rap/Hip-Hop 🙂 )

27. Amos Lee – Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight
28. Ben Folds (Just Plain Awesome)
29. Bond (Techno-Classical?)
30. The 88 (Rock)



Thoughts on the Success of WAR

I was reading Thallian’s most recent posts about what people can expect to find in WAR and how long they can expect to play the game. While I think WAR warrants a slightly better outlook that Thallian is willing to suggest, I do think there is one key element that WAR needs more than any other in order to be truly successful. Tobold has hit on this subject, too, and it only really hit me how important it is recently, which is getting the average PvE player to get involved in the RvR conflict WAR is centering itself around. Yes, there is going to be PvE content that has been freshened up and I have no doubt that it will be enjoyable, but (thankfully) they aren’t making yet another game that focuses almost entirely on raiding and PvE content at the level cap. They are expecting players to get involved in the conflict presented to them. I am like many other players in that I primarily enjoy playing my MMOs with a heavy PvE slant, choosing to participate in PvP only when I’m bored or when it offers the best method of character progression. I don’t want this to be true anymore. I think players deserve more than that now. I think that without having a true sense of loyalty and a desire to protect what’s yours, then a game will never feel like more than just another game. If you can get the players to have a sense of pride in defending their cities, allies, and homeland, then you’ve created a far richer and more fulfilling world for the players to be a part of. This, more than anything else, is what will keep players invested in a game.

While I still want to enjoy all of the PvE content WAR is going to offer, I want to feel like when I compete in RvR battles I am actually making a difference. I know there are going to be instanced battles in WAR, and that’s fine, but what I really want is open-world RvR with tangible consequences, not a battlefield that is wiped clean every 15 minutes. I know there are hundreds of other factors that will determine whether this game will be a success, but in terms of longevity, this is the main key. As for bugs, questing, grouping, instancing, balance, etc., they will need to be up to snuff, too. I really, really hope that Mythic is up to the task, because I don’t think they can comprehend just how many hearts they are going to break if their game fails.


More Free Time For EQ2

I just received this e-mail from SOE:

For a limited time only, all inactive (in good standing) EQ players can start building a new legacy in the world of EQII for FREE until Sept. 30, 2008! New adventures and new experiences await the legends who choose to fight. A whole new world full of nostalgic EQ zones, lore and creatures are open for exploration. Journey through Norrath with breathtaking graphics and amazing gameplay mechanics all built from your hardcore heritage.

The quest continues:

Free Game Play
All inactive former trial and EQ subscription accounts (in good standing) have been activated to enable free EverQuest II gameplay between Aug. 4, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2008.
Free Rise of Kunark All-In-One Pack
Access the latest content and keep a complimentary digital copy of this compilation edition if and when you convert to a paid monthly subscription for EQII.
Discount Coupon
Receive $5.00 (or local currency equivalent) off the purchase of the next EQII expansion (scheduled for release Fall 2008) if you convert to a paid monthly subscription by Oct. 13, 2008 and purchase the expansion through the Station Store by Dec. 21, 2008.
Unique Bundle of In-Game Items
Available for all new legends.

  • Available Upon Log In:
    • Outdoor Pet Drake – Receive a Lava Drake for your evil character and a Fae Drake for your good character
    • Pouch of the Prodigal – 12 slot bag
    • XP Potion Pack – Three-pack of potions to jump-start your advancement
  • Granted Upon Purchase and Release of the next EQII Expansion Pack:
    • Cloak of the Void – A specially-designed cloak created exclusively for the upcoming expansion
Player Events
Celebrate all summer long with the community.

  • Participate in several scheduled pre-launch in-game events leading into the next expansion pack.
  • Access content from robust game updates, many offering new zones.
Legends of Norrath™
Free game client, starter pack and access to competitive prize tournaments.
Contests & Promotional Offers
Opportunity to participate in events to earn EQII merchandise, a free copy of the upcoming EverQuest II expansion pack, a beta invitation and in-game items.

Get Started Now
To download EverQuest II, click here for the installer. The download may be quite large and take a significant time.

They sure are trying to get players back into EQ2. I’m sure this is all related to the future releases of WAR and WotLK, and while I understand their desire to get more players back into the game, I don’t think this is the way to do it. Back when the Living Legacy promotion first occurred, I wrote that in order for players to come back to the game, there have to be significant changes made to the game itself, otherwise, no amount of free time in the world is going win them back. I went back to my wizard for approximately two hours before realizing exactly why I quit originally.

  • I felt like I was viewing a game with cataracts because everything was blurry since my computer can’t handle it.
  • I didn’t feel like any of the quests were interesting enough to pursue.
  • I didn’t enjoy the zones that I had to play through to continue on.
  • I didn’t feel like my class was unique enough to feel compelled to play.

There are several other reasons, but those are the biggest. While I might hop in yet again to try to power through this part of the game (20-25) that I really just don’t enjoy (though I’ve stated before that I don’t think players should ever have to do that,) I just don’t think it’s going to happen. I commend SOE for really trying to get players back in the game, but it seems pretty evident that EQ2 is never truly going to be the game for me no matter how much free play time they send my way.


Thoughts on Grouping

Syncaine just wrote a post regarding his hope that WAR, through it’s open group and public quest system, will make grouping a more viable and enjoyable form of leveling. He states that WoW has created a mentality within players that has made us jaded when it comes to PuGs, and I certainly believe this to be true. There is simply too much that can go wrong when it comes to PuGs that make players extremely weary to try. I’m going to focus on two inter-connected problems with PuGs that I believe make up their biggest flaws.

Risk vs. Reward

I’m using the term risk here very loosely. The risk I’m speaking of is mostly referring to the potential for wasted time. Say you find three other people looking to run Slave Pens. All you need is a healer, so you tell them you’ll wait until they find a healer and then head to Coilfang Reservoir. “Sweet, we just found a healer!” they tell you. You make your way over there from killing eels for a quest. Just as you resurface inside, you ask the question you hope the leader has already asked, yet secretly know they haven’t. “(insert name here), you can heal for us, right?” Several seconds pass before he says, “I’m prot specced, but I’ll be able to heal fine.” Now is where it gets interesting, because there are so many potential options and outcomes. I won’t bore you with all of them because I’m sure you’ve been down this road like I have dozens of times. The point is, almost without exception, you will end up wasting an unnecessary amount of time and likely get nothing to show for it, or you’ll cut your losses and head back to the eels. With so much potential for failure and the possibility that you won’t get any gear and only a fraction of the xp for soloing, is it really worth taking the chance?

Rewards of soloing vs. grouping

Whether it’s in an instance or just working on a quest, many games today offer no xp boost for grouping. In Asheron’s Call, eight players in a group could earn 33% of the total xp which created a huge incentive to group. While leveling was a bit stale in AC and xp wouldn’t need to be that high in games today (due to their quest-based nature,) there still should be some increase when grouping is involved. It’s almost as if developers see grouping for additional xp as an exploit. While I can understand the prevention of power-leveling by reducing the xp earned by much lower level character, why should even-level players be penalized for playing together? This just doesn’t seem right to me. When I’m grouping I don’t want to have to think about whether they are a burden or not. I’d much rather focus on enjoying my time with them and playing the game. With that said, If I can solo a quest with ease, why should I cut out some of my xp by bringing another player along? I truly wish this was not the case, though.

In games that are built around social interaction, why would developers make it more lucrative to play by yourself than with other people? I think it’s a case of players wanting more solo content because grouping was too forced before, but now developers have gone so far to the other end of the spectrum that they’ve actually taken nearly all of the incentive out of grouping, even penalizing it. If you want to group anyway, you just have to understand that you are going to be penalized for it a good deal of the time because developers are afraid you will level too fast with extra xp from grouping. Yes, instances require that you have other players to help you, but when the chance is so great (I’d go so far as to say that 30-50% of all PuGs are failures in some form or another) that you won’t get the gear (which I addressed here) you want and you won’t get hardly any xp (when compared to soloing,) why not simply put grouping off until it is absolutely necessary? I know I do, and I think it sucks.

While I certainly hope that WAR will help to change this mentality, I think it will be hard to unlearn everything that WoW and other MMOs have taught us about grouping. If the rewards don’t balance with the potential for wasted or unpleasant time spent with others, then nothing will have changed. Since player skill level and maturity are things that can be as different as night and day, it’s tough to always know whether a raid/mission/quest/instance are going to be successful before it starts, so players are naturally going to be skeptical. Only time will tell whether grouping, and more specifically pugging, will once again be revitalized as the chosen method of leveling as opposed to that dreaded thing we all must face at one point or another.


P.S. WAR open beta in just over a week, I can’t wait!!

WotLK Release Date Prediction = Faux

While I can understand that my WotLK release date post has become by far my most popular, it actually turned out to be untrue. Mike Morhaime recently said that we can expect a Q4 release. This means that technically it could be October, but this is extremely unlikely for two very obvious reasons. First is the fact that WAR is set somewhere between September 15-25th, and I don’t even think Blizzard wants to compete so directly with WAR, which is quite possibly the most anticipated MMO ever. The second reason I doubt it will be October is Blizzard’s notoriety for continuously pushing release dates back.

I think it’s pretty safe to give this a release date between late November and early December. By releasing post-WAR, they really have nothing to lose at this point by waiting an extra couple months to clean things up and expand/enhance the new features (which are few in my opinion.) It goes without saying, however, that they would have been in a much healthier position releasing before WAR, but Blizzard is never going to rush something out the door until they are motivated to work faster via a drop in subscription numbers. Regardless of the fact that WoW has millions more subscribers than any other AAA MMO, they still don’t want to see those numbers fall. Only time will tell if Blizzard’s “it’s ready when it’s ready” mentality can still satisfy 11 million subscribers. For the sake of the entire MMO industry, I hope it can’t.