Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just call me "Woody"

Before I get into the meaning of my blog title up there...and yes, I am drunk when I come up with these :) ...there is a review of Vanguard over at Gamespy that you should take a look at. A couple of predictable issues came up in the review: 1) player models, 2) performance. Although, the author of the review does seem to indicate that performance is improving as pre-order customers move out of the newbie areas. In a weird twist, Gamespy has not given Vanguard a score...bravo. Finally, a review site that understands the futility of giving MMOs review scores a day or so after launch. To be fair to Vanguard, I wouldn't give them a score until their first expansion. We'll see how long Gamespy lasts in this uncharacteristic venture.

So, I decided on my profession for my Fae Ranger: Woodworker, hence the blog title (I know what some of you were thinking...sickos). To tell you the truth, I am having more fun making furniture, maple boxes and chairs than any other profession I've taken up in MMOs to date. I hit level 17 without even blinking, and not once did I think "Ohhhh God....please kill me". I would level, get a new set of recipes and then go decorate my house with the new stuff I made. I have shelves, cabinets, a new bed, tables and chairs. How gay is that? I'm a fairy and I'm decorating my house....and its faaaabuloussss. If I'm not adventuring tonight, I'm plan to get to level 20 and make some more stuff. I'm definitely going to be making a crap load of boxes to sell on the market...start making me some money.

Again, the mystery of why I'm playing EQ2 instead of WoW eludes me. I mentioned this to my wife last night, and she says that it looks like I'm just tired of the loot stuff...and maybe she's right. There are people left and right, in guild and out, linking new loot constantly. I'm glad everyone is getting new stuff...jeese, we all know how long its been...buuuut, it's getting to the point were I just can't stand being in that kind of environment. Its kinda like having a good friend or neighbour getting a new TV one week, then a new car, then a new stereo, and each time he comes over to your door to show it to you personally. It gets old after a while. You like the guy and all, but at some point, you just stop answering the door when the guy drops by. I'm in EQ2 right now with a very supportive and friendly guild. I'm not getting loot links every 30 seconds and the main reason I'm there is because of the adventure of it all. I'll be back to WoW, no doubt about it...but I think I'll wait until that neighbour moves out before I do.

D out.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The slings and arrows....

It's odd, but I've really been having a very large EQ2 kick as of late. Its not odd because of EQ2 per say, but its odd because BC is staring me right in the face saying "You know you waaaaant it". I'm as confused as you are..with most of the MMO world playing the crap out of BC, I find myself drawn to EQ2.

I hit level 22 with my Fae Ranger doing Crushbone last night. Its kind of embarrassing, but I also learned something new as well. When I buy equipment, armor mostly, I look at stats...specifically Strength because that stat increases the damage I do. I follow the same procedure for my swords, jewelry and my bow. Two nights ago I got what I thought was a great bow. It was imbued, had +3 strength and it also made great coffee...but its firing delay was 7.0 seconds. Yikes. So, suffice to say, my ranger was...shooting...very...slowly. We were linking our equipment, and me thinking how smart I was, liked my +3 str imbued bow/coffee maker. A guildie said that maybe I should try the one he picked up which had a 2.4 second delay. Ohhhh boy what a difference. I was an arrow shooting machine gun. Never even knew that stat was there until I was told yesterday. Like I said embarrassing, but a good lesson to look at the whole picture when trying to equip your character.

Enough of that...on to something more laughable, like the specs for Vanguard. Here they are:

Required Specs:

Windows® 2000/XP
100% DirectX 9.0c compatible computer
100% DirectX 9.0c compatible keyboard or input device
Processor 2.4 GHz Intel processor or 2400+ or higher model AMD processor
512 MB RAM
Vertex and Pixel Shader 2.0 compatible hardware with 128MB of texture memory
100% DirectX compatible sound card
56K + Internet Connection
16X Speed DVD-ROM
20 Gigabytes Hard Drive Space

Recommended Specs:
Windows® 2000/XP/Vista
100% DirectX 9.0c compatible computer
100% DirectX 9.0c compatible keyboard or input device
Processor 3.0 GHz Intel or 3500+ AMD processor
Vertex and Pixel Shader 2.0 compatible hardware with 256MB of texture memory
DirectX compatible audio hardware
Broadband Internet Connection
16X Speed DVD-ROM
20 Gigabytes Hard Drive Space

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while now...and I think its time for me to bring it out in the open for my own sanity. Required or Min Recommended specs for a game, not just this one, are complete horse shit. It has always been horse shit and I hope to Buda that the insanity stops. I'm sure that most of you have played Vanguard...the majority have at least read the Beta Preview on this site and on others. Let me but it WILL NOT have a pleasurable Vanguard experience if your machine is at the "Required Specs" for this game. I would even venture to say that the "Required Specs" listed would not give you a pleasurable experience with any present day MMO...with exception to WoW.

Look at the Hard Drive Space. The Beta was 16-18 Gigs....I believe that the retail game is in the same ballpark (correct me if I'm wrong...please). The 512K RAM is laughable so I won't even go there. 56K modem??? Are you kidding me?If you're interested in the game at all, and I'm not saying you shouldn't be, the Recommended specs are the bare minimum you'll need to run this game.

I would love it, if the gaming industry would just do away with this kind of dubious spec definition. Its a simple question really...I want to know what machine I would need to run the game so that I get an average of 30 FPS (Frames Per Second). At 30 FPS, you get a great game experience for any title in any gendre. If they can set that kind of standard, then I would be a happy man. Until that day...buyer beware.

D out.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Turkey

So we've had the Wii for about a week now, and my 6 year old daughter is already a pro bowler.

For those that don't know, the Wii comes with some games called Wii Sports. On that disk is Golf, Boxing, Tennis, Baseball and Bowling. Its more of a tech demo than a real game...but what a tech demo. Just today, she bowled a 174...included with this score is this household's first turkey. For the bowling impaired, that means she got three strikes in a row. She is kicking our butts. A six year old!

The whole family is loving the Wii. We play it everyday after dinner. For any families out there with kids, forget the 360 or the PS3, the Wii is your system....go get one.

Since Super Bowl weekend is coming next weekend, I plan on getting Madden 2007 so that my friend and I can play during the breaks. Now if I can only find another Wii-mote.

D out.

To the beat of a different drumer

...or something like that.

You know what...I really haven't been playing that much WoW this past week. Most of my gaming time has been spent in the Mystery Beta or in EQ2. In EQ2, I got my Ranger up to level 18...just high enough to start grouping with the majority of the guild that I joined last week.

I think I know why I didn't log into WoW...I just can't keep up with everyone else. A lot of the people I group with are now level 67 or 68 and I'm still just 62.6. So they've moved on from most of the content that I need to hit. I think it's also a form of leveling protest on my part. I personally think the WoW community, not all...but most, are leveling waaay to fast. With some exceptions, the main goal of BC is to get to 70...thats it. No smelling the roses or just experiencing the game...its 70 or bust. Not playing and going into EQ2 or the Mystery Beta is my way of "sticking it to the man" there you go "man", you have been stuck.

D out.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mysteries of hair...

This is chalked up to the "amazing things 6 year olds say" department.

I was driving home with the girls after picking them up from daycare, and The Boo decided to start one of her conversations.


"Yes sweetie."

"You know whaaat?"


"When we eat hair, it goes into our tummy, into our brain and then out."

"Really...thats cool." girl is going to be a doctor one day.

D out

Age of Conan Delayed

Several sources are starting to report that Age of Conan has been delayed by 6 months to Oct 2007. Bad news for some, good news for others. There is the usual execu-speak regarding the delay, but for an ambitious game like this one they probably need to the extra time to implement what they've promised.

I admire that they've taken this step and not released an unfinished product. We all know what happens to MMOs that follow that route.

D out.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lord of Rings Online News

Hey Kids...some really cool news out for the coming MMO Lord of the Rings Online. Here's the link, but I'll put the highlights down for those of us who are lazy...

  • Special Membership Pricing: $9.99 monthly, $199 Lifetime
  • Open Beta Privileges: Early Access — Be among the first to play,
    Keep your character after launch.
  • In Game Items: Enchanted Cloak of Regeneration, Ring of Agility
If I'm reading this right, you'll be able to keep your beta character after the launch. As far as I know, this will be the first MMO to offer this in recent memory (please correct me if I'm wrong). The price is really good to, $9.99. Thats $6 cheaper than the other MMOs are charging right now.

Good news all around. I'll be there with bells on.

Oh, and I believe that the release date has been set to April 24th. Just enough time for me to "finish" BC.

D out.

The Generation gap

There has been lots of discussion regarding the "next generation" of MMOs. The discussion started, I believe with Brent's Virgin Worlds podcast #49. Other discussions ensued with others asking and posting what generation we're in now and what people want out of the "next generation".

My post here will hopefully be short and simple...there will even be monkeys. Everyone is using the wrong term in my in a "generation" implies a quantum leap in improvement in feature sets and gameplay over a short period of time. What we're looking at in terms of MMO development is evolution, in which good design and features of MMOs of the past are inherited by future MMOs. Just because an MMO is of the "3rd generation" does not imply that its any better than the second or first, because the term "generation" does not imply improvement....we only need to look to Utah for that (...I kid...I love you Utah). There are still many features that are in WoW that are from EQ...thats not a generational phenomena, its an evolutionary one.

So..if we're now looking at the evolution of MMOs, then we've got a valid baseline to start from. We can now start to look at the improvements that MMOs have made from past to present. We can look at what successful features have been kept since the days of EQ. We can look at what feature sets have succumbed to "natural selection" and have gone the way of the Dodo. How have the graphics evolved? How has gameplay evolved? How has the interaction with the player and the community evolved? How have the design tools changed and evolved? Theses are not questions you can answer if you frame it in terms of "generations". Evolution is slow and gradual..and thats what we're going to see over the next 10 years as MMO designers learn what works and what doesn't.

So, thats it. If you're looking for the next generation of MMOs, you won't find it. Clearly, MMOs have evolved since the old days of MUDs. Take a look at the pic below:

We can think of MUDs as the monkey dude on the left. EQ, UO, AC and Lineage as the next dude. EQ2, WoW etc are just when MMOs have started to stand upright. MMOs are not even close to the point where we take pointy sticks to things, or discover fire, or bonk women over the head and take them to their cave (ahhh...the good 'ol days).

If we look at the coming titles of 2007, none of them, zero, zilch are what you guys are expecting. Even in 2008, there is not going to be a quantum leap in gameplay or some secret sauce discovered last minute. However, if you look at the titles of 2007 and think in terms of slow and steady improvement, then its there.

D out

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WoWHammer Online...NOT!! Get it!? of my WoW kick for just a minute and lets move on to Warhammer Online.

Warcry has a nice interview with Assistant Producer Josh Drescher. Yes, the interviewer did ask about the similarities between WoW and Warhammer, a highly original question indeed, but more on that later.

A couple of points that I wanted to bring forward regarding this interview. First one is this:

WarCry Network:: A problem people have with most MMOs, including WoW, is that high end content often, despite their best efforts, requires huge time commitments. What are you doing to ensure players can experience epic content without wasting an epic amount of time?

Josh Drescher: First of all, you don't restrict the epic content to the highest end of the game. Players should feel like they're part of the war from the moment they first enter the world.

Second, you make success in the end-game reliant on how players everywhere else in the game are doing. Your actions and efforts from day one will have an impact on players in the highest levels of the game.

Third, you present an end-game experience that isn't overwhelmingly difficult to get to, but that requires a lot of effort and skill to master AND that is fun to take on repeatedly. Most players in WAR will have no problem getting to the highest tier of content in the game, taking part in city capture and defense and so forth. But that final tier of content is enormous in scale and complexity. The battlefront will be moving constantly, your homeland can come under siege at any time, your city can be burned to the ground.

I really hope that they're not just pulling my chain. One of WoW major disadvantages is the end game, at least it was in the "old world"...I can't say anything about how it will be with BC, but I for one will not be raiding a MC, or BWL type of instance 300 times just for 8 pieces of amour. What Warhammer has to do is keep the time to reward ratio constant through the whole gaming experience. Even if you do have to do a couple of dungeons over again, please make it compelling to do so. I'm here to play, not to work.

What would a Warhammer interview be like without the "Hey, some are saying this is just like WoW...blah blah blah" question. Please...for the love of baby Buda...stop. They've answered it time, and time, and time again. You know, it usually takes a dog about three whacks on the nose in order to get something through its thick little skull. Come on guys, be smarter than a dog. I'm sure the guys at Mythic are going to take a battle axe to the next "journalist" who asks them that question. Lets log their answer, take them for their word, move on and then nail them if they lied to us. Suffice to say, this game is shaping up to be one of The titles of 2007 (if it makes 2007). Just its implementation of RvR alone will be a great reason for those who find WoW lacking in certain areas.

Moving on, they also gave us some info on a coming open beta later this year. I suspect they are going to go the route of Fileplanet or Massive Magazine for open beta keep an eye out for that.

Back to my WoW kick. You're going to laugh at this one. So, I was talking to a very good friend of mine yesterday during work. He plays EQ2 almost exclusively...and rightly so, its a great game. He convinced me to move over to his server to join him, which I did. I created a Fae Ranger. We arranged to meet in EQ2 around 7:30pm EST last night. At about 7pm, I logged into WoW to level up my character and finish a quest that I was half way through...BIG mistake. One quest turned into two which turned into an instance run. 30 minutes turned into 3 hours. DOH! It's got its hooks in me....somebody get me an old priest and a young priest.

D out

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Second Coming

We all know its coming don't we. Blizzard has hinted in the past that most of their main game titles will be MMOs in the near future. This article gives more weight to that speculation...although, I'm sure we won't see another Blizz MMO for at least another 3-5 years.

I'm not sure if I'd ever be ready for the kind of impact another Blizzard MMO would have on the industry, or my sleep patterns. As I'm writing this, I'm going over in my head what would happen if Blizzard released, say, World of StarCraft. The seas won't boil and the sky won't bleed...but, wow...would that MMO also grab 8 million subscribers? Would they be the same subscribers, different subscribers...a mix maybe? If they released another MMO, and they will, and it's as successful as WoW, and it will be, that would give Blizzard anywhere in the range of 10-16 million subscriptions over two franchises. Thats giving them a monthly revenue of $250 million dollars at the top quarter of a billion! A month!! Could they hit those numbers? I don't really know, but it'll be fun to find out.

As for the impact on the industry of having a second Blizzard MMO, one of two things can happen: 1) it introduces even more people to MMOs and opens the market even more for other games, 2) it pulls a "Walmart" on us, dominating the market leaving very little room for anyone else. I honestly think that those that play WoW will play the next Blizz MMO, no question about it. I don't think Blizz will pick up or "steal" that many new subscriptions. At some point, we've got to hit the saturation point for the number of players willing to play an MMO...don't we? I think we're nearing that point, or we will be by the time they release their next MMO. According to, we've got around 15 million MMO subscriptions spread over 38-ish MMOs with Blizzard taking 53% of the market (I've added 2 million to the total shown in MMO charts to reflect the recent Blizzard number of 8 million subscribers). I don't think the market will go over 30 million subscribers and Blizzard's market share will stay constant at around 53-60%, even with two MMOs. The numbers work out...with 30 million total subscribers, Blizz taking 16 of those with two MMOs leaving 11 million spread over the others. Where did I get the 30 million number? Again, according to MMO chart, the rate of subscribers has hit a linear area of the curve adding an average of 2 million subscribers a year. If we're at 15 million now, it would take 8 years to double to 30 million. The growth curve just looks like it will stall, as all population curves usually do at some point. Of course, MMOs are now starting to get into the console market, at that point all bets are off as the characteristics of the curve will change due to the new market. So, I don't think an new MMO will introduce a large number of new players to the will draw on the already growing subscriber base which will cap at around 30 million.

Whew...playing with number predictions hurts my brain.

As for the "Walmart"-like market domination part of it, like I said, I think WoW will not go over 60% market share. But there is a side effect to Blizzard having two successful MMOs out there taking everyones gaming time. Thats right...the single player game market. There has been some concern that the presence of WoW has impacted sales of single player games...especially on the PC. Blizz has stated before that all of their titles going forward will concentrate in the MMO space. Are they seeing something we are not? As for the other MMOs...what will happen to them. Well, think of it this way...and yes, I'm going to do my Tiger analogy again. What would the golf world be like with TWO Tigers? Bloody insane for one thing. Now, instead of competing for 2nd, they're all competing for 3rd. My hope is that this will force everyone is going to bring their A-game to the table...which is good news for us. Maybe...just maybe, the introduction of a second MMO by Blizz will bring forth the much anticipated third gen MMO. We can only hope.

D out.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Yes...I have finally acquired a Wii. After all of my searching, my boss at work here was able to do the impossible and grab one for me. His cousin has been able to find four of them in the last two weeks...a monumental feat to be sure.

So, I plan to hook it up when I get home and play some Wii sports with my daughters. This is going to be a blast for the girls and I to play together. As the dad, its my job to "corrupt" them as much as possible, and I see no better way to do this then to get them into gaming.

BC is still going well. I'm 84% of the way through level 61. I know, I'm a very slow leveler, but this is by my design. Some of my faster leveling guild mates were asked in chat last night, "What are you going to do when you hit 70?"...the answer: "Grind". Classical.

The other games that I'm playing are still on the go. I'm still skilling up in Eve Online. I just finished all the training I needed to start Salvaging. I ready to start saving up for a Battleship. I've only got 8 million ISK to my name, so its going to be a long ride getting money through mission running. If anyone has any idea how to make more money, please let me know. My plan with this game is to stick with it until Revelations is done and then evaluate what to do from there.

Still dabbling, yes...dabbling in EQ2. I started on another server with a good friend of mine. I haven't had much time in EQ2 since BC came out, but we all knew that would happen. Honestly, I don't know how much I'll be getting into EQ2 this year. Lord of the Rings Online is hitting retail right about the time when I should be wrapping up BC...and I know I want to experience that game. EQ2 continues to be the game I want to play but is constantly pushed aside for other shiny things that get my attention.

D out.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The End of Raiding?

Well...lets get real, but its a catchy title.

So myself and my guild are progressing through BC and what do you think is the #1 topic on guild chat? Come on...guess, I'll wait right here. WRONG! It's not boobs. It's loot you perverted little buggers :) . It seems that every 4-5 lines in guild chat is someone linking a new green or blue item for everyone to look at. Ohhhhhh...shiny. Now, this is not the real news, because we all knew that there would be new loot for everyone to get. The news is that these guys are raiders with epic gear...replacing that stuff with greens and blues....within 2-3 days of BC release...(...crickets....).

The core raiding group in my guild must have collectively spent months in MC, BWL, ZG, AQ20, AQ40 and pvp just to get that stuff, and now its all irrelevant. It kinda calls into question the value of raiding...don't you think? This idea has been bounced around the community and what I'm writing now is not ground breaking stuff here...but to actually see it play out really makes it hit home. I'm equipped with epics as well, not "the best" epics, but almost everything that matters to me is purple. I'm having a really hard time absorbing the fact that we really have started all over again. As Lauren suggested, the big 'ol reset button has been pushed, but no one told me there would be an electric shock involved.

I'm really wondering what I'll be thinking at level 70. Will I want to spend the time and effort raiding knowing that Blizzard could do this again? I probably will hit the end game, but I think this whole knew reality will make me think twice about spending that much time to get a new carrot for my toon.

D out.

WoW BC Screenies

Well...I've hit level 61 with my Rogue and I've been having a blast so far doing it. Of course, there are people in my guild who are already level 66-67 and some in others who have already hit 70.

So far, the most memorable instance has been the Blood Furnace. There is a set of stairs in that zone that is just jaw dropping. Here are some screenshots of my adventures so far. Blizzard's art direction has changed a bit, you can see it in the instances. They seem to be going for more a more epic and grand feeling to the dungeons now. The instances are not long (1-2 hours), not boring or tedious to do. I'm starting to have a glimmer of hope for the end game at level 70+...please, please, please let it be true that the ridiculous grinding is gone.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Were we wrong to be so bloody negative?

All of us, well most of us, in the MMO blog-o-sphere where predicting bad things for the launch of BC. I'm not going to link to specific posts, most of you who read me read the others as well. I'm sure most of the readers here were thinking the same thing: "Run for the hills, BC is commin!!!" World of Warcast has episode 32 up for your listening pleasure, and they predict the same sort of things for the launch. Where we wrong to predict such doom? Are we that bitter, old and jaded to think that everything that can go wrong, will?

I don't think that we were completely off of our rockers when we predicted queues and server instability with the expansion...we've got a lot of history to pull that conclusion from. Historically, when an MMO releases an expansion, or even a patch, that usually translates to the server being down for a period of time. When the server is up, usually the game is not very playable. When WoW had the AQ gate event, server performance was just we do have previous history examples even from WoW itself.

Leading into the release of BC, we saw increasing queues and wait times to get into the game. Bloggers, podcasters and other players of WoW concluded that it can only get worse when BC goes live. It made sense at the time and it still makes sense now. It did happen, but not to the degree that was predicted.

So, where we right to even suggest all of this doom and gloom? I think we were. If anything, the negative buzz surrounding the launch did brace a lot of people for a very real possibility. As it stands right now the BC launch turned out to be that forgotten $20 bill you found in your back pocket...a nice, pleasant surprise.

D out.

Look at me, I win...and stuff that really matters

First and foremost, let me just say that I am enjoying the heck out of BC right now. We are all doing in WoW what we like doing...playing our toons and getting measurable progress out of doing so. For now, gone are the days of grinding out instances over, and over and over get the picture. I was talking to my brother yesterday and he expressed how happy he was to be actually getting exp again. I said the exact same thing while running Blood Furnace(is that the right name for it....??) with my guild. Like a nice French wine, I plan to savor this.

Speaking of the French. Their reputation for taking life slowly and enjoying the moment is apparently a bunch of BS. The first player to get to 70 has been announced. Well...congratulations, you just won an all expense trip to, ummmm, waiting till other people get to 70?? Really, what was the point of getting to 70 that fast? Just to say that you did? OK, you what. This mentality of "me first at all costs" is something I'll never understand and will probably always loath. It ranks right up there with people who line up at Best Buy and then sprint as fast as they can to a shiny electronic carrot when the doors open. Good little bunny, now, lets see what other tricks you can do. Well, enough of that then. Congrats Gullerbone for accomplishing something that means absolutely nothing.

I've mentioned before that the Vanguard devs are working like crazy to get the game in a somewhat playable state for release, and they're still going strong with almost a patch a day. The latest patch has a whole bunch of fixes in it. I admire their dedication to this game, and I really hope they get a good solid foundation for launch. If that foundation is not there, then Vanguard is not going to have a very good time recovering from the bad press that they will get from the community. Of course, I also said that WoW servers would not be stable at launch, so I'm not always on the ball with this stuff :)

Speaking of WoW servers. since last night or the night before. No noticeable lag either. Outstanding work. Sure, other MMOs have had smooth launches and other companies have had great recoveries from not so good launches...but none of them had to do a launch of this magnitude before. This is why I did not think it would go well. From a logistical and technical perspective, getting 8 million people through a launch of a new product is just begging for some hiccups here and there. If EQ2 had 8 million users, I just wonder if the EoF expansion would have been as smooth. The story here is not that WoW had a good launch, the story is that they did it with 8 million subscribers (give or take 1 million or so).

I got some great screenshots of my adventures. Plan to put them up here in the next couple of days.

D out.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


So...people are starting to post their first and/or second night of the BC expansion. Here is mine:

1) log in after getting home from the Sens game (yes, we won 5-2 bitches!!!)

2) logging in was ok as my character was parked in Winterspring. So it was a quick hearth to Kargath then a flight over to Swamp of Sorrows then ride to the Dark Portal from there. thing I forgot. When you install the expansion, it resets you to version I had to go to fileplanet to reinstall the 2.03 patch and the 2.0.3->2.0.5 patch.

3) I get the dark portal and enter...and I wait at the loading screen for 10 minutes. I exit myself to desktop, kill the WoW process and restart. I get in. I get into a series of quests that get me to Thralimar. I then loose connection to world server...DOH!

4) Log back in...start looking around Thralimar a bit. I lose connection to world server....DOUBLE DOH!

5) Its now midnight...I'm tired and I'm not in the mood to relog again. I close it up, I log into Eve to start another skill to train and I go to bed.

According to my guildmates and the forums, Gilneas has been going through lots of server disconnects since launch. One buddy of mine told me that he was trying to stay in instances in order to avoid the crashes. I'm not sure of the technical aspects of Blizzards servers, but I think they do separate world and instance servers...not sure though.

So, my first hour in BC was not much to write home about. The world is beautiful as always. The graphics look incredible and the framerate was awesome (Darren looks in Sigil's direction...again) . I really hope the server is stable tonight so that I can start playing and leveling again, which is what WoW is good at.

A note...and Tobold brought this up as well: I refuse to rush this. I don't want to get to 70 in 2 weeks. I refuse to allow myself to be rushed by the people around me, who act like a 400lb fat man gorging himself on hamburgers like he's never seen them before. I want to enjoy leveling in WoW again. I want to enjoy the story again. I want to be surprised again. I want to have fun in WoW again.

D out.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

WoW Website still

Haven't got my copies yet...they're still at EB. I justed checked the Blizzard website to see what the status of the game is and I am amazed to find that I can actually access the site....quite quickly I dare say. A quick look at the forums, again which loaded up quickly, have no mention of lag or any other real issues that I can see so far. Some posts of "Ding 61!" etc, and some install issues there..but, as of this post, the first 4 to 5 pages of the forums have nothing regarding login issues or server crashes.

The launch seems to be going better than I expected. Awesome...I love it when I'm wrong about this stuff. Looks like I may log in sooner than expected due to the seemingly good performance of the servers during launch. Wonder how the queues are?

Good job Blizzard.

D out.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Tiger Woods of MMOs

Here we are...on the eve of The Burning Crusade expansion for World of Warcraft and the hype is palatable. As I was reading though all of the news, blogs and everyone is talking about tomorrow, so hey, why can't I. Jeepers, even the MMO news is kinda slow.

So, I know that my copies of Burning Crusade are sitting at my local EB right now. I got the call yesterday. The EB left a message on my voice mail saying that my copy was in and that they would be open on Monday at midnight and Tuesday morning to pick it up. Are you kidding me? Midnight? Are there actually people who will pick this thing up at midnight at play it in the wee ours of Tuesday morning??? Yes...yes there are, and there are words for those people: Loons. Nutt Bars. Crazy Folk. Wackos. Didn't we learn anything from the console launches....anything at all?? Apparently not. Apparently, people will be lining up at midnight to get their copies...rush home, push Grandma out of the way, run upstairs, install the game and then write a lot of "Server down...WTF!!!" posts on the Blizzard forums. Funny as hell. I'll be the one in the corner with the popcorn, laughing my ass off.

Anyway...what I want to talk about it a somewhat unimpressive and obvious connection of what we're seeing in WoW to what we see in the world of golf. Tiger Woods turned Pro in August of 1996. His famous "Hello World" was truly heard around the world when about a year later he won his first major, The Masters. He has since won 54 PGA tour events, 12 Major wins among those. But Tiger did something else...he made golf a "real" sport. He made it cool. He made it so that you had to be in shape to win. No, you couldn't be downing the fries and beer at the clubhouse and still expect to compete. Everyone who thought they would never play golf suddenly become a fan of the game because of him. He made watching golf something to behold. The shots he would make, the putts, the chips. He has also made golf a very profitable business and you see it everywhere. People are buying clubs, balls, shirts, lessons, anything that will help them with their game. Given that so much money is now involved in golf tournaments now, suddenly, second place means a heck of a lot. Every other golfer is now working out on weights, hitting the gym, working on their shots just to get into second place.

Now, here's the connection. Replace Tiger Woods with WoW, and bring the context into the MMO world and what have you got? You've got the exact same phenomenon happening here. WoW has opened up the world of gaming to people who would have never have picked up a game before. Every MMO developer...well, almost every developer (Darren looks in Sigil's direction) sees how the game is to played because WoW is now driving 345 off the tee and getting the ball within a foot of the hole. Every developer wants to be in second place with their MMO because they know that they will not catch WoW in numbers...especially if Blizzard keeps the the one expansion per year promise. Now, granted, golf is as much an art as it is a sport. Its a game of inches. If you're off by an inch on your swing, the ball is in the trees, or the water or the backseat of somebodies car. In order to be successful in golf, you have to have a repeatable and predictable swing. Blizzard has got that swing. Their mistakes are some other company's best shots.

The MMO world is better off for WoW, no doubt, just as Tiger is good for golf. But everyone is asking and looking for the next Tiger just so that golf remains an exciting sport. We don't ever want to go "ho-hum" over Tiger's great shots. We, and he, want someone to match him, someone to push him. Big question of the day..of the year even: Who's going to match Blizzard shot for shot? Who is going to challenge Blizzard and get them to be a better gaming company then they already are?

D out.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Gods and Heroes CES video, Conan

Once again, Brent provides another stunning video of Gods and Heroes.

The fight scenes and animations look just great in this game. They will definitely provide a fresh new coat of paint on the current combat routine in today's MMOs. I'm not too excited about the minion system, because they're usually implemented in such a way that they become more a pain in the ass then anything else. I'm hoping this will NOT be the case because this game is up there on my list.

There is also CES impressions of Conan. Next to Lord of the Rings Online, I think this one will be one of the main ones to watch for 2007. The game is just looking very "right".

D out

Memorable MMO moments

I was just thinking on the way to work what my top memorable moments are from my MMO adventures so far...and I've come up with no particular order:

1. When I traveled through that "worm-hole" like travel system in AC2...nice cool factor.

2. When I met my first guild in EQ2. I was traveling to the griffin station near Qeynos when I saw a group of people all sitting in a circle. I thought it was a great display of organization...first time I've seen that kind of grouping in an MMO. I said hi, asked some questions, and the guild leader sent me to their web site. I applied, got accepted and I still have friends from that guild today...two years later.

3. In DDO. That same group of friends and I were going through a dungeon. I'm the Rogue, so I'm on point. Our, ahem, paladin (you know who you are) races out in front of me and triggers an event just as I detect a hidden area. This secret door opens and out comes this huge Troll...and I mean big. It scared the crap out of me....which was awesome. I think we wiped, but later came back prepared to kick his green ass.

4. My first epic in WoW. We just killed Sulfuron and I got my Rogue boob shoulders. I never thought I could look epic, sexy and cheap all at the same time.

5. The first time I entered Stomwind in WoW. Just as you entered the gates, that music played...and those statues of all those heroes. I think WoW hooked me at that moment.

There are others I'm sure...but those where the first ones to come to mind.

D out.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pickups and hickups

Did more of EQ2 last night...and yes, I got my alter for Solusek Ro. The fire imp is a nice compliment to my Wizzy. The quest was fun and had a good story to it. Still need to figure out how to get favor with him though.

Couple things I want to talk about. First are pickup groups. Ahhh...the good 'ol can be a pleasure or pain, like Russian Roulette except without the bullets. I've gone on two pick up groups in EQ2 in the last week, and each one has been lots of fun. Last night we hit some Giants (always fun), and the pickup group before that we hit RoV. Everyone knew their rolls, everyone was polite and funny. I've experienced many pickup groups in EQ2 and around 90% of them fell into this category. I walked out of most groups with good exp, good loot and a good feeling of my fellow man. I also found some good PUGs in the current Vanguard beta. question: Why do PUGs work in games like EQ, EQ2 or Vanguard, but not in games like CoH or...God help me...Wow?

I remember making a point not to get in PUGs in CoH because I usually had a good group turn up around 20% of the time. I usually left frustrated and generally unsatisfied with the lack of progress during grouping. In WoW, I don't do PUGs...ever, ever, ever. The experience is about the same as CoH was, but the good group percentage hovered around 10%. The quality of the PUG always seems to be proportional to the type of game you are playing. In general, the mixture of high fantasy and complexity of the game seem to bring together a stronger community. Open questions to me remain why WoW's community, and to some extent CoH's, seem to remain the worse. Why are PUGs in these games such a bad experience? Why do these games attract selfish people? And no, I don't think its just a numbers issue.

Tobold put up an article today regarding the possible fact that maybe might be a little too negative regarding the Beta Preview coverage for Vanguard. This did get me thinking, and a kinda "oh shit, was I too negative??" feeling came over me. I am kinda new to the whole blog-o-sphere thing...and the last thing I want to do is misinform people who do me the honor of reading my stuff. But, once I thought about it more, I think my preview was not really that negative. The previews that I read fell into two camps, a) its not ready, dear God, don't ship this b) its a great game with some flaws. I think I was an honest (a). I really do think its being rushed. Add to the this little statement I found this in the Vanguard forums from Brad McQuiad himself:

We all agree performance is #1 -- we expect to see about a 10% improvement by launch for low-mid level machines. There's only so much we can do in the time we have.

We don't want to rush things but like I said we have a solid launch date. People are crunching and working long hours but the financial reality is we need to lauch commercially, and soon.

I know that's not the answer you want to hear, nor I, but it is what it is and I've always been straight up with you guys. We will have a lot of work to do post-launch and the first couple of months post-launch will be just as busy as beta 5 with lots of patches, bug fixes, new feathres, etc. In that sense, things won't change.

I promise you we are doing the best we can with the time we have, even though we all, the players and Sigil wish we had more time, but like I said, there are financial realities. We are still I belive the 2nd most expensive MMOG to-date after WoW and that is something, despite the desire to have more time, I have to be grateful to both MSFT and SOE for.

Its very telling and kinda sad at the same time.

We also now have the launch date now. It's not going to be a fun first year for Vanguard, however, I know that it will get better with patches and expansions. I'm sure I will play this game in the future, but I refuse to go through another rough launch of an unfinished MMO again.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Vanguard Forums close

All I can say is, "thank God!!!". I find it very ironic that the discussion that follows kinda gives you an idea of why there should be no forums for MMOs

I don't like MMO forums. Sure, some of them are very helpful and full of very useful information such as leveling guides, character guides and important impressions of the game for new or potential players. What I don't like is the whining, the complaining and the general disrespect the majority of people show to one another for simply having a different opinion. Can you imagine if the real world was like a forum? Good Lord. I'd be able to scream, yell, swear and spit at every person who I think deserves it. OK...I'm not being exactly fair, I know. Most of the above impressions come from the cesspit that are the WoW forums. If there was any occasion for a Darwinian process to naturally select, that would be a good place to start.

I for one am hoping that this is a trend that the MMO industry will take in the future. Let the fan sites be the place for forums and the like. Let the MMO companies concentrate on what we want them to do more of...making great games.

D out.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Wizard of EQ2

When I started in EQ2 I started an Elf Wizard on the Guk server (named Beldarion if any of you want to say hi). Well, I've started playing him again and am having a very good time doing it. I just forget how to play a wizard. I'm usually use to sticking the pointy thing in the bad guy...its hard to suppress that instinct sometimes.

I've been back playing EQ2 for about a week now...nothing too heavy, maybe 2 hour sessions at a time. My other toon is a level 48 Swashy and I noticed something about my now 26 Wiz that just made my jaw drop. I hit harder with a 26 Wiz than my 48 Swashy. Last night, I hit a blue con mob for 1180 damage with my main fireball nuking spell. I have never seen a number like that, ever, with any of my Swashy hits. I think the highest I've seen him hit for is around 800. I must be doing something incredibly wrong with my Swashy, or incredibly right with my Wizard.

I have about 12 quests to finish up in TS before I head back to BB and start hitting the new content. Its really nice to be in TS though...kinda nostalgic for the 'ol place. As I was questing in TS, a group asked me to join them in RoV, which was a lot of 2 levels out of that run, plus a quest or two completed. I sometimes forget how fun this game is in a group and it makes me miss the 'ol gang who have moved on to other games....oh well. The Wiz is a level 19 Scholar, so I'd like to get him up to 20 tonight so that I can actually start using the stuff I'm farming out of TS and BB.

I think I'll be sticking around EQ2 for the next couple of weeks. I don't plan on logging into WoW anytime near the BC'll just be too crazy, and I'm just not in the mood. I'm using my wife as a guinea pig for this one. If she can log in and it's not nuts in there, then I'll get on sooner than I thought.

D out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

More Vanguard Beta Previews

More stuff from Van Hemlock (who has links to other previews, including your truly) and from Tobold. Brent also has an excellent Vanguard segment on show #47. The over consensus is that its a real diamond in the rough and it's certainly not ready for its Q1 2007 release date. Brent mentioned something quite fitting that Brendon ( told him...Brendon called the game "Funguard" because it guards the fun from you. Very apt description.

However, despite all of these negative Beta Previews in the Blog-o-sphere right now, everyone that I've read wants this game to succeed. We all want this game to get to where it needs to be. Like I mentioned before, we live in a post-WoW MMO world right now and there are design implementations that are now expected to be standard in the MMOs that we play:
  • Low barrier to entry.
  • Noticeable and fun character advancement.
  • Manageable death penalties.
  • Ease of world travel.
  • Multiple and fun alternatives to adventuring.
  • Fun and accessible end game for all players.
With the exception to the last point, it seems like Vanguard has very little of these. Part of me thinks they are doing this just to stick their finger in WoW's eye. It's kinda like that rebellious teenager who wants to dye their hair purple and pierce everything just to be different. Fine, dye your hair purple and pierce your toenails if you want, but jeese, put on a suit like everyone else when you come to the company party...please.

I do think Vanguard will get on its feet eventually within its first two years once it gets some patches and expansions...and I really do hope that is the case for game with this much potential.

D out.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A patch a day...

For anyone who is in the Vanguard beta, you may or may not have noticed. They've had a patch out every day since January 2. Thats quite an impressive pace they are keeping.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Vaguard Beta Impressions

According to this, the Vanguard NDA is now lifted...which means I can now talk about my beta experience, as limited as it may be. Be aware though, the maximum level that I got to with any character is level 10, so when I say limited experience, thats what I mean. So, take everything that I say here with that in mind.

I'm not going to give Vanguard any score what so ever. I will not do that for any game I preview or review here...especially for MMOs. I consider MMOs works in progress and they usually find their stride 2 years after they first any number I give is useless a this point.

My System:
AMD 64 3500+ Processor
nVidia 7900 GT Video card
1 Gb RAM (I know...I know..)

Now...onto our regular scheduled program.

First Impression - The Newbie Experience

I'll be honest, I wasn't too excited when I got the invite. I heard a lot of bad things about Vanguard from certain sources, but hey, I like to get my own opinion so I loaded it up. What I first saw was not good...the character creation screen. The characters models themselves look very wrong...especially when you start changing physical attributes. Its hard to explain, so let me give you an analogy. Remember when Bonzo the Clown takes those long skinny balloons and blows them up to make poodles...well thats the Vanguard character creation screen. It's like you're given a half filled balloon of a character and if you want to increase the chest or head size, the program blows more air into those areas without any consideration to proportion. It's just weird. I created a human-ish Rogue (who looked like a cross between Pee-Wee Herman and Cher) and entered the world and oh my Lord. The sound was skipping the screen turned black, and oh look, there's my character's head...there's his foot. I didn't measure it, but I had time to go to the bathroom and get a drink while I waited for it to load up....but hey, its beta.

After that, I killed 10 zombie farmers, hit level 2, turned off the game and didn't touch it for another week. I was that disappointed with it.

I went back a week later promising myself to really get an impression of this game. I reminded myself that this is just a beta and carried on. This time, I created a half elf Ranger...and the experience was noticeably better. I was able to get to level 10. I grouped with people and completed a lot of very interesting quests within the newbie area. I must say, once I got over the technical glitches, the newbie experience that I had was very similar to EQ2. So, this is what I recommend you set your expectations for the first 10 levels of your life in Vanguard...a very EQ2-like experience.

I then created a Necro next and was able to experience how two other aspects of the game where introduced to new players. Crafting and Diplomacy (I'll explain those two later on in their own sections)


Honestly, the graphics are nothing that I haven't seen before in EQ2...maybe a bit less than EQ2. Though, the graphics in Vanguard did seem a bit more drab and dark than in EQ2. The starter areas that I was in were either a dark forest, or a red desert-like area or a shore town in which its always raining. Because it was so dark everywhere, I didn't really find the landscape or the graphics that inspiring.

All of the monsters that I encountered were very well done and looked reasonably intimating, but anything that looked humanoid just looked and moved very oddly to my eyes. They looked stiff when they walked and they really didn't give me that organic feel. This goes back to the character creation comments that I had...all of the humanoids just look wrong.

Currently there are plenty (and I mean plenty) of graphical glitches and bugs in the game. I'm sure they'll be addressed with some patches.


The sound is really nothing to write home about. The music track is ok, but it really doesn't get me into the game


I leveled up to 6 in Artifacting in the game...and honestly, I don't really get the crafting system right now. It's much like EQ2 in the way that there are reaction and counter-reactions that you need to watch out for. The one thing that was really cool was cutting down a tree. Yes, to gather wood, you just don't find a log on the ground, you actually find a resource tree, cut it down, it falls (TIMBERRRR!!) and you loot the fallen tree. it's a nice cosmetic gameplay element.


Questing leads you very nicely through levels 1-10. I was lucky enough to find a very good group and we just shoot through them. The quests in that level range where really the kill 10 of this, get 5 of that variety.


This is an interesting 3rd dimension of game play that Sigil has introduced. Its essentially a card game that you play with an NPC as you try to win an argument or least, thats how I understand it. You're given these strategy cards that increase certain attributes of an argument. You set up 5 of your cards as your strategy and you play these cards as the discussion with the NPC progresses. The goal is to get more points than the NPC to the point where you win the argument. I know, its a bit of crappy explanation, and it is a bit more complex than that, but I hope you get the general idea.

The introduction and quests to diplomacy are very well done, so if I completely confused you, at least the game will set you straight.


For the first 10 levels, I got no sense of the world I was in. As far as I was concerned, I was just there doing quests. The Lore in this game and my place in it really eludes me as a new player.

The world is not really that inspiring at all. I didn't log in and get that, "wow, I wonder what's over that hill" type of feeling. Atmosphere is really missing from this game.

What the Future Holds

It's quite simple really, this game is not all. Don't get me wrong, it's got great potential, but it needs another 6-8 months of development and testing before Sigil even thinks about releasing it. The first 10-15 levels are crucial to getting that hook into a new player, and its just not there...not yet anyway.

What Sigil is looking at right now if they release as planned, and I've said this before, is what EQ2 experienced with their release in 2004...and that wasn't very pretty. Its up to them if they want to release, but I really wouldn't recommend it at this point. Sure, the game at level 50 might be better...I don't know, I didn't get to level 50. All I know is that if I had bought this game, I would have canceled my subscription within 1 month. I would have watched it for 2 years and probably get back into it after a couple of expansions and patches.

That's it for now. Beta 5 has started with the Fileplanet open beta offer to subscribers. I encourage everyone to take a look.

To Sigil, you guys really have a good game in there somewhere. If you really want to be successful and deliver a QUALITY product, then you need to delay the release date. It'll be good for you, good for the game, and good for players...bad for the fanboi's I guess.

D out.

Charting the path

This just makes me dizzy.

The linked chart is the raid attunement chart for the Burning Crusade. Yes, if you believe the data on the chart, you need to complete all of that in order to get into Mount Hyjal. Mount Hyjal is the Big Bad raiding content for BC. The chart also shows the requirements for the other raids as well.

Now, I'm not really going to pass judgment on this yet because it very well might be that this attunement will fall out naturally by just playing the BC content. If that's the case, bravo to Blizzard. It should take a lot of work to get into that instance, that I agree with and is just good game design. However, the player should always feel that they are moving forward towards that goal while still maintaining the feeling that they are playing a game, not working at a second job. Just looking at the chart, you see a lot of Revered rep requirements...and we all know how much fun getting that is.

This is Blizzard's big test as far as I'm concerned. Have they really learned the lessons from current 60+ game? If the rep doesn't accumulate naturally from quests and other meaningful tasks then the answer is no and I really do think that Blizzard will be in a bit of trouble. Don't misunderstand me, I don't think all 6 million people will cancel their accounts because they have to rep grind for 2 months. By "trouble" I mean that the experience of the BC expansion will be seriously shortened by those who are turned off by a grindy end game. Those that see this pattern might just move on to other things and if Blizzard takes another 2 years for their next expansion then this might be a problem.

Getting off of WoW now...Fileplanet now has an open beta for Vanguard for subscribers. If you're interested in checking this one out, I suggest that you do. We want to make sure that Sigil gets as much feedback as possible for this game...they need it.

D out.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Coming Crusade

Tobold has recently put up a series of posts in the last couple of days revolving around the same kind of theme, that theme being the outcome of the first couple of days of the BC release. He brings up some server distribution issues and also asks why we're in such a rush. I'm not going to rehash any of that because he gets the point across very nicely. He did get me thinking about how I'm going to handle the expansion.

We all know how crazy its going to be. Every rat and boar will be camped out for weeks when people start questing in Hellfire. I'm really not looking forward to that. I'm seriously considering not even installing the bugger for a week or two until everything has settled down. There really is no point to experiencing the virtual "door crasher sale" that will be the first two weeks of BC.

I can wait. If anything, this will give me more time with EQ2 and betas while people in WoW trample all over each other for rat tails and wolf hides.

D out.

Five Things About Me

Crap...I've been tagged.

This sound like fun, so I'll give it a go. I thought it would take me longer to come up with these...but they came to me quite quickly.

1. I was in Martial Arts since grade 8, so thats about 17 years-ish, give or take. I have one black belt in Kuk Sool Won (not active anymore). I currently have a brown belt in Goju Ryu. Studying this stuff has always been fun, but with two kids, work and other responsibilities this is becoming a hard hobby for me to maintain.

2. I was in Air Cadets in high school and I actually wanted to be a fighter pilot. I changed my mind in my senior year after I saw the crappy conditions our military had at that time.

3. My favorite book is Phantoms by Dean Koontz. Don't ask me why, but the book just freaked me out and thrilled me at the same time.

4. I love Colorado Springs. My wife and I went down there in 97 or 98 and I just loved the variation of the countryside. I saw my first set of mountains on that trip...I must have stared at them for an hour. Wow. The people there are very nice, if not a bit nutty...and boy do they know how to cook a steak.

5. I love to golf. Almost too much if you ask my wife. Every year, a group of friends and I go down to Manitoulin Island for a yearly guys-only golf trip. It always seems to be sunny there and for some reason I always shoot about 95 for some strange reason (I usually a below 90 golfer).

Since I'm new to this stuff...not too many people to tag. Maybe Wilhelm2451 if he hasn't already been tagged for this.

D out.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Try, Try again

I logged back into EQ2 last I said, I'm continually trying to make that game click for me simply because I want to. I did hit level 49 with my Swashy and got an adventure level out of it, so yay for me.

I think I know what the problem is with me and EQ2, its the fact that I really don't have a regular group in that game anymore. Most of the guys that I play MMOs with are having lots of fun in WoW, and I don't plan on really getting back to WoW until BC. I am in a very good guild. They are well organized and probably one of the older ones on the server that I play on. However, being an "older guild", they have a lot of level 70's so most of the members are in the raiding part of the game right now. So, I'm on my own watching guild chat stream by with stuff I really don't understand just yet. I think I've got three choices when it comes to EQ2: 1) cancel my account and move on, 2) level like a bastard to 70 so that I can raid with the rest of my guild, 3) find another guild or group of players to adventure with. If I really want to stick to EQ2, I think #3 is the best option. Of course, this whole EQ2 question of mine won't really matter in a couple of weeks anyway.

Oh, and before I sign off, I want to direct your attention to The Escapist. There is a Curt Schilling interview in there that everyone who is interested in MMOs will want to read. Of particular note was this little tidbit from Curt (bold added by me):

"You have to make a game that appeals across the market, across platforms, that has a low barrier of entry, that people will want to play."

"Low barrier of entry" seems to be the new buzzword for the industry now. It basically means that we need to make our game play as easy as WoW does to new players. He gets the current MMO picture, which is good to hear....unlike some developers we won't mention. "Across platforms" is also interesting because it implies that this game will be coming out on either the 360 or PS3 as well as the PC. Read the rest of the interview. No real details regarding the planned game, but lots a great insight into what angle they'll be taking.

D out.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gamebunny follow up... was a fake story. Ha ha...almost got me.

The hits of 2007

On the dying days of 2006, I posted my top picks of the big MMO releases for 2007. Just to refresh your memory, they were:
  • Vanguard
  • Age of Conan
  • Warhammer Online
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Gods and Heroes
  • Burning Crusade
I'm going to go into more detail and do a little bit of predicting for each of those titles. I think it will be fun for us to look back a year from now and see how close I was.


I think that Vanguard has a hard lesson to learn. The days of corpse runs and that "old school" feeling are over. That chapter in MMO history was closed in 2004. Guys, I'm sure that bell-bottom jeans where a great idea in the 1970's, but I don't think anyone really wants to go back to them. The developers seem to be stuck in that old nostalgia groove, and they need to get out if it if they want to be successful. You can already see them start to back track from their earlier hard-core statements...they see it coming, and they're scared.

They will experience the same type of launch pain that EQ2 went through when it was hit square in the head of the post -WoW MMO world. It will take them 2 years and as many expansions to dig themselves out of the hole that they made for themselves.

Age of Conan

This one does have the potential to do some good things for MMOs because of a) the combat control scheme and b) the world/lore. The graphics look very nice given the videos that have already been released. I think one of the highlights of this game will be how they approach classes that use magic. I don't know, having the possibility that your spell will backfire on you is appealing to me.

I really have no idea how this game will appeal to those who are no familiar to Conan. What's going to be the hook that gets people to play this game over all of the others that are coming out this year? My guess is that the combat will drag people in, but will it keep them?

Warhammer Online

I have maintained the idea that this one has the potential to rival and unseat WoW as the next big MMO, and I still think this will be the case. The people over at Mythic have plenty of experience to draw on with their past DAoC series. RvR, PvP and how it all interacts with the PvE experience is where this game will shine.

Essentially they are promising quite a bit with this title and I have a feeling that they are going to execute very nicely on most, if not all, of the features that they've promised. A year from now, this game will have at least half of WoWs numbers (2-3 million). This prediction, of course, assumes that WoW does nothing to evolve their game from its current grindy state.

Lord of the Rings

This one will be the PvE hit of me. We've seen previews of this game and everything points to Turbine being onto something with this title. What will make or break this game is how they build and expand on an already solid foundation. Will they bring in evil races? How will they go outside of Tolkein lore yet still stay true to the world he built? Being that this will be mainly a PvE title, how they build and expand the world will be a crucial element to growing and holding their player base.

LoTR Online must differentiate itself clearly from WoW, but also offer itself as a viable and fun alternative for burned out WoW players.

Gods and Heroes

So far, the only thing that makes this one look interesting is the fancy combat moves and the potential of beheading Medusa. I'm sorry, but when you're singing the same song, adding extra dance moves is not going to hide the tune. What will save this game from this obvious skin deep combat feature is the world in which it is placed. I want to be part of a world in which there are vengeful gods and monstrous titans...this is what makes games memorable, not that you do a triple lutz before you plunge your sword into a mob.

Game sounds cool, but I think they are focusing too much on fluff and that will only give them a rough start and questionable longevity.

Burning Crusade

By all accounts, WoW's first expansion is very well done. Thats great news because it's a long time coming. I think BC's only weakness will be that the content will be eaten up within 3 months. By that time, most will have hit 70 and will be facing the same end-game grind that they do now. This realization is lost on a lot of players and my theory is come Q2 or Q3 of 2007, we'll have a lot of WoW players hitting other options. I think EQ2, LoTR Online and Warhammer will be the benefactors of this.

That's it. May the tomato slinging begin :)

D out.


I saw this a couple of says ago over at Gamebunny. I didn't mention it before on this site because: a) the story they point to is about some drunk driver in Germany and b) I can't confirm it anywhere else. For now, until I get confirmation of this, it is in the "high rumor" category. It's been up on the Gamebunny site now for about 3-4 days now with no comments to the story.

This would be major news if Blizzard took this kind of pay model, and I don't think it would be a good sign of things to come. I really am not convinced that a player should pay real money for in game equipment which intrinsically have no value to begin with. Well, ok, they do have value if you look at the cost to develop that armor or sword, but I really don't think it comes close to the cost of running a server for a month.

With this model, a person can completely outfit their toon for around $80-100. Now thats fine for those people who have $80 to spend...but those who don't will be stuck with greens, according to that brief snippet from Gamebunny. Remember, everyone paid the same for the game in the first place. This brings up another interesting point. It is currently argued that those who have more time currently succeed at WoW, especially at the end-game. If this is true, this would shift the balance of power away from the typical "hard-core"gamer. If you believe the stereotypes, they have no money and live in mom's basement...they will not be happy. soon as I find out that this is indeed true, I'll let you know.

D out.