I was having a particularly bad day yesterday when some old friends from Stratics invited me to join a Google Hangout to celebrate the Richard Garriot’s Kickstarter Shroud of the Avatar reaching its final goals.
I’ve been following Shroud of the Avatar news closely because frankly if you are a fan of MMOs and not excited about the prospect of the spiritual successor to UO than you are either bad (and should feel bad) or you joined the MMO scene in the post World of Warcraft era (I’m not mad at you). In a world with a lack of sandbox MMOs and the excitement of the kickstarter model for gaming (which I promise some day I will blog about) this game has the potential to kick off a revolution of a new more “core gamer” type of experience. A real return our roots.
So there I was talking to Richard Garriot (we’ve met a few times in the past during various media functions) and having a blast. When what happens? Oh just “we are going to get Tracy Hickman on the line”. I started to shake a little.
There are two things that make up the core of the leisure time of my life: video games (and the industry meta) and reading. So there I was talking to gaming god Richard Garriot and if that wasn’t enough along comes the author who got me reading for fun for the first time. I cannot even fully convey Tracy’s influence on my life. His Dragonlance novels were responsible for getting me in to Fantasy and really defined the type of gamer and reader I’d become. If it wasn’t for the writing of Tracy Hickman I likely wouldn’t today play MTG, be in to fantasy MMOs, or many other of my favourite nerdy pursuits.
Being able to thank Tracy face to face (over a series of tubes) for opening doors in to some of the best parts of my life will go down as a memory I hope to never forget.
Here’s the video of the hangout, hopefully I didn’t do anything embarrassing:
My friend Jim is trying to get an MMO blog going with a few of us.Â My plan for contributing to the site is to cover more Wonk / Business angles on topics that are being debated in the community.Â My first article up is about the never ending ZOMG WILL WARHAMMER ONLINE DETHRONE World of Warcraft debate and how it needs a serious reality check; but that doesn’t mean you should count it out.
One has to start any debate on World of Warcraftâs success with a clarification of that success.If you start out on the premise that WoW is a game with 10 million subscribers all paying 14.99 a month you are working with bad information right from the start.There are 10 million people playing WoW but Blizzard makes very little from about 80% of those people; they are in Asia where alternative business models prevail and revenue generation is not on par with North American, European and Oceanic markets.We pay 15 dollars a month while in China they pay about 5 cents an hour.This on top of the fact that Blizzard doesnât actually manage WoW in China so there is money coming off the top there as well.
PC Gamer is collecting the top 100 games of all time from its readers – you can check out the site here.
Here is my top 10:
* Ultima Online
My first and best MMO experience – started a life long love affair with virtual worlds and MMOs
* It Came from the Desert
A little known title but one of the best games of the post sierra adventure game world
* Everquest 2
The first MMO where I reached and actively participated in end game. I will never forget EQ2 and I believe it is the clear winner of the third generation
My gateway drug to sports games. I remember playing the NHL series on a sega for the first time – I was sold and had a reason to buy consoles for many generations to come
* Battlefield 2142
I still don’t get why this game didn’t take off like other FPSs. IMO this is the best battlefield title.
* Star Wars: Galaxies
This game came dangerously close to recreating the Ultima Online experience. The SOE team was brave enough to take on the sandbox game format but was not brave enough to stand by it. I’m still waiting for another studio to take a shot at a true sandbox experience.
* Final Fantasy XI
I haven’t put nearly the time into this game that I wish I had. I believe that this is the best end game out there but the community and the developers got in the way of making it accessible
Civilization requires no introduction – I remember playing this in Keith’s basement; probably one of the first games I played on the PC (as opposed to the amiga)
I don’t know if this qualifies for a top PC game as I played it on the Amiga 500 – but again, Sim City requires no introduction.
* Team Fortress 2
The newest title on the list. The team at Valve has managed to create a very accessible and very FUN experience. I’ll be falling back on TF2 for years to come.
One of World of Warcraft premier raid guilds, Death and Taxes has disbanded.Â These guys always seemed a bit of an oddity to me as far as raid guilds go; they seemed to be a group of guys (and gals) in it for the right reasons: to have fun, enjoy the game with a group of friends, etc.
They’ve now broken up and one of the guild’s leaders has made a post over on their forums that illustrates better then anything I’ve ever seen before the importance of never losing your way as a guild.Â It is very important as guild leadership to know what your group of people is about and what you want to accomplish as a guild.Â Even if you aren’t one of those “formal” guilds that has a charter – I’d highly recommend a mission statement.Â It’s such a shame to see a guild who’s worked so hard on progression just evaporate.
Progress doesn’t happen all in 1 night, but apparently some people that we had here didn’t understand that. They thought bosses just fell over the first night because of the tag over their head, and the most important thing was how much damage they could do at all times. Newsflash – it doesn’t work like that. It’s pretty ironic that the first people to jump ship when progress wasn’t going fast enough, were the same ones jerking off in the 5man, and holding up the raid on the first day. Progress takes time, and world firsts don’t fall from the sky, they’re the result of a lot of hard work, and effort. The reputation of this guild was built on the backs of a lot of hard work and dedication from EVERYONE. The guild was bigger than any of us, and we knew it.
Once upon a time we had pride. Pride in our guild, pride in ourselves, pride in what we’d done. Pride is showing up and giving your best effort, ESPECIALLY when you don’t want to be there, because your guildmates deserve that. We didn’t always get world firsts, it’s impossible to always be first, that’s just not how the game works, but we showed up every day, EARLY and busted our asses, and we were proud of what we accomplished, be it world first or world 1000th. We didn’t whine or complain about our fucking groups, or worry about loot. We killed bosses. Period. We gave our best effort because those around us deserved it, because the guild deserved it. We had pride about what we had done, not what those before us had done. But we also didn’t have false pride. Once upon a time when people couldn’t or didn’t want to keep up the raiding schedule, they had the guts and decency to let the rest of us know. Now they slink off into the night without even a word.
My quest to find solo friendly games has led me to two places.Â To cover my MMO needs I’ve followed Jim, Evan and the boys into Lord of the Rings Online.Â I’ve really come to enjoy the storyline gameplay and playing through the central storyline quests with a static group has been a lot of fun.Â Our plan is to get together a few days a week and work together on the main storyline quests and do side quests, crafting, etc on the off nights.Â The game offers a lot as a casual game with many great virtual world elements.Â One of the coolest things I’ve ever done in an MMO was playing music in front of the prancing pony the other night.Â LOTRO allows you to play music in the game using various instruments.Â Its just a really cool example of how Turbine makes LOTRO more then just a game.Â If anyone is looking to try the game out check us out on the Firefoot server – we’ve got a guild setup and everything…
My other casual-post-baby poison is a facebook game – PackRat.Â Evan convinced me to install this (as a rule I avoid all things facebook outside of basic communicationÂ as a rule) and I’ve been having a blast ever since.Â The game is really simple – You steal, buy and craft collectible cards and try and come up with full collections.
Outside of gaming I’ve been busy with work and getting atvtrailfind.com ready for release.Â I’m hoping to have the site done this weekend!
Over on F13 they started a thread trying to put together a top 10 MMO of all time list using contributer feed back… my contribution post:
This is partly based on played time (75%) and the rest based on impact/potential/contribution…
1. Everquest 2
2. Ultima Online
3. Star Wars Galaxies (pre nge – cu was not the worst thing in the world to me)
4. Final Fantasy XI
6. Asheron’s Call 2
8. World of Warcraft
9. Anarchy Online
10. World War 2 Online
Everquest 2 is number one on my list essentially because of the sheer amount of time I’ve played it and the doors the game opened for me.Â I’ve been playing multiplayer RPGs since I ran a BBS in the late 80s but with EQ2 I enjoyed the ride to the end levels so much and for the first time did raiding and explored everything end game had to offer, just a great game – tonnes of content and has that vital MMO driver of the sense of evolution and going concern.
UO is number two on my list for the same reason it appears in the top 2 or 3 on most people’s list – it was my first real love affair with this genre.Â The feeling of an open ended world where you could live the adventure you wanted to live and create the content you wanted to create was amazing.Â I also developed many lasting friendships in this game and really started to realize that the internet had a lot to offer as a social tool.
SWG – Pre Cu.Â UO 1.5 in space.Â Jump to light speed also brought on some entertaining space combat to add into the mix with the already existing interesting classes, social features (housing, towns, etc), deep crafting and sometimes enjoyable adventuring experience.
FFXI.Â I’ve gotta say for me this is the best group-based-raid-end-game focused MMO.Â Yes forced grouping sucks when you actually want to just get in and out but if you have the time to give this game it will give you countless hours of entertainment.
Everquest.Â Probably one of the MMOs I played the least (being a big UO loyalist got in the way of my falling for this game at release) on my list.Â But I don’t think you have a credible top-MMO list without Everquest appearing in your top 5.Â The game set the gold-standard for all that followed and the industry has been trying to make a better EQ ever since.
AC2.Â Heralded as the first third-gen MMO and later as a huge failure by most this game always holds a special place in my heart.Â Every time I’m feeling burnout in whatever MMO I’m currently playing I say “geez, I wish I could fire up AC2 right now”.Â There was something about the game to me.Â Yes the world was sparsely populated and at times it just felt plain empty but the /music system, the prospect of watching and helping to slowly rebuild the world, the vault system, etc it was just great.Â This was also the first game I worked with friends to play together through the levels and I think it was all the better experience for that…
Vanguard – I think we’ll wake up one day two years from now and find this list in the top 5 of many people.Â I think there is still hope here and that the game in its current form is a solid base to build a great lasting experience on.
World of Warcraft.Â I’ve got quite a bit of time /played in the game but I’ve never made it to end game.Â I’ve gotten really close but then just lose interest.Â I don’t know what it is but WoW just does not click with me.Â That aside – I realize the contribution this game has made to the genre and I’ve had some great people join my various guilds where WoW was their entry point into the genre.Â I think everyone in this industry needs to thank the WoW team for opening the doors and needs to get to work on innovations that will begin to chip away at their market share (and for the love of god stop trying to make WoW 2.0)
Anarchy Online. Two years ago this was a top 5 for me.Â The sci-fi setting was fairly ground breaking for an MMO and despite its launch (ahh June of 2001, AO and WW2O, that was an epic month to be involved in this genre) the game had a lot of fun to offer and tried desperately to bridge the feature gap between UO and EQ offering level tread-mill based game play while trying to include social features like housing, non combat, etc.Â I have many fond memories of the game and still login from time to time as a froob.
World War 2 Online.Â The final slot on the list goes to a game that is a survivor.Â This game had a terrible launch (free gameplay for the first many moons anyone?) and had an engine that made the baby jesus weep.Â Despite all of that the game offers a thrilling game play experience when you can manage to find people to shoot at.Â In the last few years the team has done a really good job of adding in features to focus the combat and get people into the same place so many of the games cons have been addressed.Â Despite the game’s small community there are still some epic battles and there is nothing quite like hiding in a building hoping to god that those Germans keep on moving after you spent an hour sneaking behind enemy lines to make that key control point capture.
The coolest waste of my time spent on Flickr today was without question playing with geotagging. Geotagging photos basically means adding some meta data that gives the Long/Lat location on the planet where the picture was taken. I went and added locations for all the photos I’ve taken since the spring. It was actually really dang cool going through everything and googling locations, etc where the photos were taken. I highly recommend anyone who has some recent vacation photos to go back and do some geotagging on them. Was a great trip down memory lane!!!
My blog over at GamersInfo.net has been updated with details of my FFXIing from levels 20 to 30.
Level 30 is probably one of the biggest milestones in FFXI. At level 30 you can start working through more and more of the back story content and most importantly you can begin to unlock the advanced classes in the game!
The journey from level 20 to 30 is usually pretty quick with a small questing break in the middle. The XP comes fast and people are really learning how to play their jobs. The journey to 30 this time around was pretty enjoyable as flew through the levels and we met quite a few awesome people along the way. We even met one guy (Norcross on the Fairy server) who I now only see when I am died – he’s bloody cursed.