When I think fruit salad, I think of a mixed bag of stuff....but since I used that title already, I now feel the need to get metaphoric.
First up is a follow-up of the IP blocking issue brew-ha-ha over at Turbine. Turns out that they've removed the blocking of IPs for North America, so now customers can play on EU servers with their friends if they want to. However, they do recommend that you stay in your own region for the best play experience and service. Who are we kidding, it's only a matter of time before a group demands to have zero ping across the Atlantic..."We're paying customers damnit!!". Anyway, this will be good news for those who have friends in the EU.
I recently noted that I missed the LoTR end of beta event. Luckily, Fosef over at Gamebunny has been kind enough to give a brief summary of what happened that night. Makes me regret missing that event. Just as a note...that bluish dragon you see in the screen shots looks very much like the ones I had to kill in some PvE quests during my Monster Play stint.
Something interesting turned up at CuppyTalk yesterday. If you read her blog, she recently asked for schooling advice. Me being the high-tech geek Engineer that I am, gave my advice...buuuuut, a lead EQ2 programmer from SOE named Don also chimed in and gave her some great advice. That was very kind of Don to take the time to post this information. If you're interested in someday being a developer/programmer, go over there and read what he says. I'm sure Cuppy is geekin out over that post :)
Lastly, there is a huge article over at Gamasutra that goes into how to make MMOs more appealing to a mass audience. For those that just want a summary, you can find it once again over at Gamebunny. More appealing to the mass market? Hmmmmm....isn't that what WoW did??? One of the more amusing tidbits of the article reads:
"On the other side of the PC gaming coin, non-subscription retail games face increasingly grim prospects as customers turn to pirated software and parasitic games such as the aforementioned World of Warcraft, which more than one executive has blamed for slow PC game sales. And they appear to have a valid complaint: retail sales of PC games have fallen every year since 2001, while revenue from subscription fees has skyrocketed."
Ummmm...no. First, WoW didn't come into the market until 2004 so it can't account for anything PC sales wise before that. Second, according to NPD (gamepsot news source), game sales for 2001 broke records. 2002, sales where down but according to NPD, that was more due to console sales. 2003, it slumped. Fast forward to 2006 and reports are that the PC game industry is indeed quite healthy. True, down from 2004, but nothing I would describe as "grim prospects". The pirating of PC games and the link to sales is a load of crap...always has been a load of crap, always will be a load of crap. PC gamers are not turning to pirated games...period. If they are, its a very small group of people and I doubt it would even dent the bottom line. Jeesh. Most of the "decline" in sales have been from box stores like your EBs or Best Buys....the NPD numbers do not even account for digital distribution of PC games which is expected to double this year alone. So, once again the "PC gaming is dead" drum is being beaten...please stop it, thanks.
He is right though, consoles are on the rise and this worries me. I see the console gamer culture much like the WoW culture...translate, I don't like it very much. So yeah, it worries me to hear the words "MMO" and "console" used in the same sentence. True, it opens up the market and makes more money for game developers...but it also opens up the door for more asshats and battlenet kiddies in my games. I like them where they are...in the nice, controlled environment of WoW...where they can be studied. You get MMOs and console gamers together and they'll get out...and our hopes for an asshat cure from those studies will be lost.