What if they made a game you couldn’t play?

Not really sure how good a business model that would be.

The Wait

I wasn’t sure the loader program was working yesterday, the start, I believe, of the free-to-play ArcheAge.  Glyph just sat there, appearing to be doing nothing.  But when I went to close it, it asked “Are you sure you want to cancel the patch?”  Ummm, no.  You’re patching?

So I let it run all night, and tonight I was going to check it out again.  Oh, about 5pm or so I fired it up and found the queue.  I was 3,700, give or take a few hundred, next in line to join the server.  They were all red, and I’ll be damned if I change lines for the same story everywhere.

It’s 11pm now and at least we’re less than 1,000.  Still, at 668, and more than an hour wait, still, I don’t think it’s going to be happening.

Not really sure what Trion was thinking.  Surely they had some small clue from all the advance packs they’ve sold.  I read that the headstart servers were already filled with player housing.  Which, of course, doesn’t apply to me.

Apparently being able to log in doesn’t apply to me either.

If this works for them, sound business.

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ArcheAge, a Neverland

I kind of knew what I was getting into, but it became very jarring after playing 10 levels over ArcheAge’s Open Beta weekend.

I knew the character models would be “asian.”  But, aside from the occasional use of some gray haired NPCs, and some other anomolies, every NPC (and every Nuian) was a youthful 16-18 year old.  Farmer Grady, Maid Jenny, Mayor Bob.  I think the cad who attempted to become king by trying to solve the palace maze (or something like that) had a moustache painted on his upper lip with shoe polish.  This is the utopia from Logan’s Run. Nobody is old, everyone is beautiful, and everyone is removed from society at age 21.  Military officers, farmers, respected academia types.  The officer on the beach organizing the defenses should have been home doing homework and studying for her exams.

Except for the two fat guys in the level 10 area.  They were easily 3-times standard size, with round heads and triple chins.  “Steven” and “Austin.”  They didn’t have quests, didn’t appear to have anything to say.  Some weird, bizarro world homage to the Six Million Dollar Man?  WWE?  Texas?

Playwise, the world based mobs stood around, waited to be killed.  From a PvE standpoint there was nothing new.  And the bouncing health bars everywhere, certainly plenty old.  At one point I was in a compound taken over by brigands looking for their leader.  I ran all over the site looking for him, but didn’t see him.  I gave up killing these mobs and just stood there, surrounded by red names and player characters.  My target eventually appeared out of thin air.  And I finally got to take him down.  With no interference from any of his minions surrounding us in their dozens.

The overall graphics were okay.  Not stellar.  Not fresh.  They were okay enough for me to bother getting to level 10.  (The wife didn’t care for them at all. And she loved Guild Wars, buying every expansion.)

To test other waters, I also created a Firran.  I passed on the afro, but picked what I thought were decent enough looking dreadlocks.  I pretty much logged him out as soon as I spoke with the first quest giver.  She was a pale, ashen skinned, Firran, big eyes, with a ashen color dreadlock cap on her head.  Nah.  The Uncanny Valley claims another victim.

Transport wise, horses came early enough, didn’t look half bad.  I was very pleasantly surprised with the row boat.  It actually worked like you’d expect a row boat would.  Not bad.

Doing meaningful things, though, cost “labor points.”  Mining ore, chopping trees, … probably much more besides.  Not sure if I’d get enough of these labor points to do what I want if I’m just free-to-play.  And filing a bot report costs labor points.  (Really?)  I think free-to-play, you’ll earn a point a minute while logged in, up to a certain cap.  Paying patrons earn double whether logged in or not, and have a higher(?) cap.  Seems like crass monetization to me.  (But I understand they’ve got families to feed too.)

I did see some amusing things in this Open Beta.  Despite lasting only 4 days, with a complete wipe afterwards, I saw a group of 5 Trailblazers with cargo boxes on their backs heading through the newbie town to the docks.  Apparently on a cargo delivery mission overseas.    Another Trailblazer was winching her catamaran out of the water, up a hill, and into town.  Some strong arms on that one.

The disparity between a “common” player like me, dressed in newb gear, and the “patrons” who’ve paid their way into some alpha/beta level, with their glowing armors, catamarans, gliders, riding elks… There’s going to be haves and have-nots.  They could have provided the haves with Rings of the Special Snowflake, with a 5% boost, but instead they’ve issued Finery of the Fashion Gods, maybe with no boost, except to self-esteem in beautiful society.

Eh.  Who knows if this will stay on my harddrive.  It’s free.  It’s got some new things.  It’s not making me race to delete it off the harddrive like EQII has done several times now.

But I do feel my time is better spent getting to Honored with the Kilaxi on my Blacksmith so I can craft some better weapons in preparation for WoD.  (Where they’ll, no doubt, be replaced instantly with the first quest reward out the door.)  (Or leveling a Mage, or Monk, or Warlock, or etc., in heirlooms who’s leapfrogging through old content.  There is fun to be had in familiar, near-mindless, but satisfying anyway, progression to the next shiny.)

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Next Big Thing Tourist

Wildstar is merging all servers onto two new megaservers.  I liked the game, really liked the graphic style.  Especially the “manmade” look of all the natural elements on Nexus.  That nothing was randomly natural, but crafted by a higher power.  How the trees and grass and hills all came up “procedurally” with very clear patterns.  But I didn’t like it enough to keep subbing.  Server merge portends free-to-play at some point?

TESO we did resub to.  It had appeared, over a couple of play sessions, that the “playing in a party” thing was worked out.  But last night, logging on, the wife found herself in a different instance than me and had to port to me.  Luckily I was already at the waystation.  And during on of the quests, as we passed “into” and “out of” some temples, at one point she disappeared.  So I was partnered with a white floating V.  We could still kill the exact some mobs, so what was the point of putting her in a seperate instance from me?  Especially doing so mid-session???  I’m really wanting to move on from the volcanic ashland that is the Dunmer starting area.  I think (at level 13) we’re just about able to leave.

Landmark I’m still enjoying.  They added PvP and while I’ve picked up each weapon, I’ve not engaged in any PvP.  Nor do I plan to.  Ever.  That’s not why I’m “playing” Landmark.  I joined it to see how EverQuest: Next was shaping up, and it’s a fun diversion building things.  I’ve found it to be a “genre agnostic” free-for-all mishmash with, apparently, a focus now on arena building, with two-button combat options further “streamlining” things.  It also tells me EverQuest: Next is a long ways away.  There’s some neat things down the road yet for Landmark that will make EQ:N “next gen” as they say, but if it’s down the road for Landmark, it’s even further for EQ:Next.  And they’d do EQ:Next a disservice not pursuing those things.  On the other hand, if combat in Landmark is what combat in EQ:Next will be like, then expect a mouse-button driven two-ability (per weapon) combat system that some traditionalists will not care for.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.  I don’t follow a lot of gamer bloggers anymore, so when one I still track picks up a game and finds it interesting, I take note.  I downloaded the “free to try” benchmark program and it says my machine can easily handle the maximum effects.  It’s got nice looking character models, but of the almost too-nice “Asian” look.  Which doesn’t bother me much.  It’s the cutesy race they each seem to have to have that bothers me.  It’s a subscription, which I’d be borderline on, but paying to see those Lalafell’s every day?  I can’t do it.

And I hated the Lopp’s in Wildstar.  The Aurin were borderline, the Chua crossed it, but the Lopps…  I wonder if it’s just not me and the wife, but one explanation of Wildstar’s less than stellar performance so far?

That leaves, for now, of the contenders for my time that I’d consider viable, and where I’d put some time in, ArcheAge.  It’s being brought to us in the West by Trion, of Rift fame, and Rift wasn’t badly handled I don’t think.  I’m not still playing, but that’s not to say it was bad.  If ArcheAge can keep some of the “goodness” of Rift, it won’t be bad.  Yes, it’s Asian, so I’m aware of the Firran.  And I think they’ve changed the Firran to be more human, and less stylized.  (I don’t actually mind stylized.)  From the sounds of it there’s a lot of sandbox activities.  (And also from what I’ve heard, lot’s of “traditional” MMORPG elements too.)  If free-to-play isn’t severly handicapped versus premium paying-to-play, and I can find a guild that tolerates short vist tourists, I am definitely going to check it out.  And it’ll be interesting to see how “caustic” this rumored PvP only world is.

That’s what I’m aware of with regards to the Next Big Things.  Either they weren’t, haven’t become them yet, and/or include things I’ll never get over.

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Five 90s

So far, pre-Warlords of Draenor I’ve got 5 90s.

Cenotaph and Sunstriker I soloed through on my own.

Msaker and Greenclaw I partnered with my wife’s Droonda and Itarilda and we quested our Horde and Alliance couples to 90.

Outrageous and Ombria were mid 50’s characters that we were playing, and we picked professions we wanted to have maxed, and then took advantage of the free boost to 90 once they hit 60. (You had to be 60 to get to 90 WITH max level crafting. Boosting a less than 60 character would mean leveling it to 600 on your own.)

Now we can take a little break and progress a little more with TESO.

And for a change of pace we have another level 85 couple ready to start Pandaria.

(I’m thinking WoW Expansions are too few and far between!)

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A Battle.net Queue??

“It’s a busy day for Battle.net! To help everyone log in, you’ve been placed in a queue.”

What in blazes is a queue?

I haven’t seen one of those in many, many years!

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Wasn’t even trying (too hard).

A while back the wife and I had an Undead couple.  She was a Shadow Priest, me a Mage.  We were both level 27.  We ran into a monster in Hillsbrad called Yetimus the Yetilord.  We didn’t stand a chance.  I figured we needed a tank.  So my Mage was deleted and replaced with a Warlock.  My wife’s Shadow Priest was sidelined a spell.

I’d been playing this Warlock off and on around his rested xp status.  He’s got heirloom chest, shoulders, trinkets, and staff.  Our two-person guild is Level 9 and we get some xp boost there too.  (He shares the heirlooms with an Alliance mage I created.)

Yesterday afternoon I started him out in the Sepulcher, he was level 16 or 17, and rested.  All the quests he was doing were green to him, but I kept at them following the story through the zone.  Before dinner I’d managed to get all the storyline complete, including the death, and resurrection, of Sylvanus, and quests were yellow again.

After Junior was put in bed it was off to Hillsbrad.  The wife joined me.  And as any of her spells were winding up, it turned out I’d already killed the mob.  She managed to help in 1 in 10 since I was killing stuff so fast.  Going at a burning pace, before long, *I* dinged level 27 (again) and we set out to find Yetimus and put an end to his reign of obstinance.

Between the mile high boots, the 50% health hits, we didn’t last long (again).

Droonda came out and helped him, and Cenotaph came out and helped her, and voila, quest completed.

Kind of wierd, spending an afternoon getting 10 levels, and then unable to complete an at-level quest.

Fun times.

(And you can’t believe all the rares I run into nowadays in these less populated zones.)

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Why all the One-Monthers? (And where’s the next Ten-Yearer?)

The last post was based on something I saw over on The Ancient Gaming Noob asking (ALT:ernative survey request) about our (almost!) first ten years in World of Warcraft.

Before I headed overseas a couple of times I’d been playing Neverwinter Nights on AOL with their GEOS (GeoWorks) DOS interface.  Overseas I kissed online gaming goodbye.  When I got back the new generation of games were out.  EQI was available, but seemed “old school” at the time.  I really wanted to play Star Wars Galaxies, but it wouldn’t play on my laptop.  I picked up Lineage II when it released.  That got me back into an online MMORPG.  And later that fall, when EQII came out, I was seriously considering jumping to that ship.  And then World of Warcraft appeared.  With my experience in Warcraft (Humans and Orcs, etc.) it was a great match, and so WoW it was.

Now, nearly ten years later, and 10+ for Lineage II and EQ I, those two, as well as EQII *and* World of Warcraft, are still “going strong.”

Since picking up World of Warcraft in December 2004, I have also played EQII (dabbled on a character in my wife’s account), Lord of the Rings Online (made it to Rohan), Warhammer Online (Collector’s Edition feeling a little like a mistake even as I left the store with it, me being unfaithful to World of Warcraft and all), Rift , Guild Wars 2, (the wife spent some time in GW1), Neverwinter (I got out of the city), Elder Scrolls Online, and most recently Wildstar.

The wife’s been with me in each one.  Sometimes I take a lead in getting us into the game (WoW, Warhammer, Rift, Wildstar), or she does (LotRO, GW2, TESO, Neverwinter).

None of them were bad games.  Each offered something that got me willing to suscribe (WoW, LotRO, Warhammer, Rift, Wildstar) or to otherwise invest a bit of time(Neverwinter).  Graphics mostly.  But setting too.  And gameplay mechanics.

Lord of the Rings Online was a soft start for me.  The wife stuck with it and got me back into it as well.  The “free-to-play” model is bogus, because subbing is really the only way to access areas in which to quest.  We took our couple all the way to Rohan.  Riding mounts, nice costume pieces, etc..  Beautiful scenery, and okay graphics, didn’t manage to keep us for ten years.  A good number though, as we subbed, unsubbed, resubbed, and now unsubbed.

Rift grabbed me with the incredible graphics.  Gameplay seemed standard enough.  The storylines between the two factions oddly asymmetrical.  The “Rockridge” desert graphics are my favorite in any game so far.  We actually unsubbed from WoW for a bit while we played this.  We got to nearly max level, and pre-expansion, got to the final zone.  We toured it, revealing the map, and then logged off for the last time.  That last zone, with the mobs standing around … dang if it didn’t feel like I suddenly realized the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes!

TESO had nice graphics, but finally I wearied of the dark undertones.  And the bots were crazy.  Even grouping was fubared, to put it kindly.  We even tried the PvP, the main selling point, and she and I could not link up in the same instance.  The game refused to allow us to play together.  We agreed to unsub after a month.  She’s talking about resubbing, but not yet.

Wildstar has great graphics, a fun setting, interesting mechanics, but my wife didn’t like the graphics as much, thinking WoW’s were crisper.  And while I was fine with the jumping around fighting style, my wife wasn’t moving as fast.  In a game requiring you to get out of the fire on every fight, and only getting more and more challenging, crispy bits were on the horizon.  She wasn’t enthralled, so we’re unsubbing after getting our first mounts.  (As apparently most the rest of the blogoshpere is too).

The time factor has a lot to do with it.  We didn’t have a child to look after when we started all this ten years ago.  Now we do.  We’ve got 2 hours, tops, a night, to play.  That doesn’t allow a lot of different titles, not really.  So the game needs to be fun, deliver that fun in bite size pieces, and if it’s an old friend we know, even better.

Our one sub right now is our Ten-Yearer, World of Warcraft.

On the side, she’s seeing the new content in Neverwinter, and I’m messing around with voxels in Landmark.

Maybe we need a new Ten-Yearer when the current Ten-Yearer goes away.  (A sentiment I undoubtedly share with anyone whose been in Lineage II, EQII, etc., for ten or more years.)  But until it does, I’ll keep looking, wanting the “next big thing” but fine with the current “big thing.”  (And it doesn’t hurt that my current “big thing” is huge.)

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