2012 Predictions

I will now get the highest score of any MMO pundit making predictions. Ready? “It will not go live in 2012.” Whatever we’re talking about, I’m predicting that it will slip into 2013, or later, or just never ship. The game, the expansion, whatever: not in 2012. I’m going to lose a few points, since something will ship in 2012, but I don’t see how anyone can beat my accuracy rate here.

: Zubon

Inexact Parallels

LotRO goes F2P. I think, “The game is about to get a huge funding infusion.”

EQ2 goes F2P. I think, “I always meant to try that, but I would hate to jump onto a sinking ship, and it looks like SOE wants to milk the last dollars from a dying game.”

This is even before considering their differing price shop models. I cannot promise that it is a fair pair of reactions, but I do not think I am in the minority in my estimation of whether each game is headed up or down.

: Zubon

How’s Fallen Earth Going?

On another point of inquiry, are folks still excited and rocking in the wasteland? There was chatter for months after it came out, and it sounded like everyone was really enjoying it, but that was when I was transitioning into my non-MMO year and I did not pick it up. I don’t hear nearly as much these days, though I know some CoWs are still active.

The comments are yours. Feel free to pimp and recruit.

(I have also been curious about EQ2 lately; I don’t know if the “no cover charge” announcement makes me more likely or more leery.)

: Zubon

Free to Play Future

First it was Dungeons and Dragons Online. Then it was the Lord of the Rings Online. And now we know Everquest and Everquest 2 will be going down the path of free-to-play as well. It was a massive money maker for DDO and promises to be a huge money maker for both Lotro and EQ2. But how free is free to play? If you want to reach max-level, create a guild, or complete the main quests, you’re going to need to drop down some cash in these games. Both Lotro and EQ2 are putting hard maximums on the amount of gold a free player can acquire and both are restricting classes. In EQ2, if you win the roll for some rare armor, you best reach for your Visa card so that you can upgrade your account and be allowed to wear it. It seems to be part of the business model to create a game where you eventually feel forced to pay cash in order to participate in end-game.

DDO has set the stage with a potentially lucrative business model that encourages players to play free until they are hooked enough to spend massive amounts of money, but it’s only the beginning. All the MMORPG companies will be watching these two titles to gauge their success, including SOE. If both these titles are a financial success, expect to see all of SOE’s other titles, as well as the rest of the MMO market, follow the trend.

Oz Trail of Trials, Part 4 – The Role of Trials

On my last review, on Everquest 2, there were some very valid comments from players of the game today. They made the point that the trial is not all there is to the game, and that I did not experience many aspects that make the game worthwhile. It’s safe to assume that were I to review any game that has been out for over 6 months that I would get people who whole-heartedly support the game and find issue with any negativity. They are not wrong, and yet, neither am I, the reviewer. We all look at games differently, and this is the beauty of a trial – it lets you see if that fit is “right”. However, that said, the trial must be the best show of the game’s mechanics possible. If not, your potential subscribers will have a bad experience and go elsewhere.

Let’s get meta.

Continue reading Oz Trail of Trials, Part 4 – The Role of Trials

Trail of Trials, Part 3 – Norranthain Nostalgia

For part 3 of my trial adventure, I went to a place I never thought I would go back to – Everquest. I have a bit of a history with Everquest, and swore I’d never give them another dime. After playing EQ2, that oath has not changed, but I did somewhat enjoy my visit to the parallel world of my former stomping grounds.

Now, in fairness, EQ2 is a dated game. It was released in 2004, so comparing it apples to apples to a game like STO is unfair at best. That said however, as the game continues to live in today’s date; my comparison will have to take into consideration that the other games exist. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the review.

Continue reading Trail of Trials, Part 3 – Norranthain Nostalgia

The Quiet Before the sTORm


You may not know me, but I go by the name Ethic. I used to play MMOs and write about them here. Somewhere along the line, I found myself with just enough time to play games for a few hours a week with nothing much to say afterwards. Same old same old, know what I mean? Thankfully, some other folks keep things going around here when I’m not feeling “wordy”.

Over the years, I have seen my interests flit about from here to there and back. TV has taken up more of my free time with Lost, Fringe, 24, Castle, Big Bang Theory, Justified and my Farscape complete series DVDs. There are some really enjoyable TV shows out there lately. After I get caught up with my shows on the DVR, I turn my attention to the PC.

Continue reading The Quiet Before the sTORm

As Real As Real

From our friends at Terra Nova:

Our first paper on the economics of EQII is now out in the current issue of the journal New Media & Society. … We think the paper is notable because it is the first instance (as far as we know) of published, peer-reviewed, basic economic tests using actual large-scale data from a virtual world. No estimates, no samples, no bootstrapping–just all of the data, period. …

First, the virtual world we studied appears to behave in the way a real economy does. The people there are as rational (or irrational) as we are offline. As a result, there are price indexes, an inflation rate, etc. … A natural experiment occurred in which a new server came online, and its economic indicators quickly approached and matched those of the existing ones. This suggests the powerful role of code in shaping and directing human behaviors in the aggregate. …

In political economy, we would phrase this last point as “institutions matter.” If you had not heard, a research group was given pretty much what it says there: all of the data. I look forward to seeing what else they draw from it.

: Zubon

The Dangers of Self-Insertion

Quite a few writers and artists have abused the fourth wall by putting themselves in their works. By sheer mass, the majority must be fanfic writers. Some use veiled substitutes for themselves or idealized versions (see Atlas Shrugged and Twilight), but others go right ahead and dive in. The wisest have done so in works under their exclusive control.

There is no way that Statesman “is” Jack Emmert in this sense. That was his handle and a role he played occasionally, and it can be unfortunate to put something you think of as your character under someone else’s control, but few people think they are killing Jack Emmert by proxy in the Lord Recluse Strike Force. Are Guards Black and Moor closer to the (now) 38 Studios employees? I really don’t know that they have any background, just a reference someone mentioned to me.

I mention this because Chris Sims, your friend and mine, points out the odd case of Grant Morrison. He wrote himself into an Animal Man comic, which means that he is an official, in-continuity DC character. (One can argue about whether DC can claim copyright on his person or likeness, make action figures, etc. This is not my point today.) Another writer took advantage of this and used Grant Morrison as a villain in his comic, killing him off quickly.

: Zubon

As of now, Kill Ten Rats is the only place on record in the entire universe (well, Google) as using the phrase “see Atlas Shrugged or Twilight.” It takes a rare sagacity to put those words together.

Giveaway: EQ or EQ2 In-Game Items – CLOSED

I have two codes from my recent issue of Beckett Massive Online Gamer magazine that may be used in Everquest for an “Aqua Goblin Familiar” or in EverQuest II for a “Nagafen at Rest”. It looks like the codes are good for either item.

I don’t play EverQuest or EverQuest II so these codes are burning a hole in my virtual pocket. If you are interested in getting one of these codes, reply to this post with something about your EQ or EQ2 adventures. The most interesting (or funny … or ANY) two responses, chosen by me, will be awarded a code. I will give the codes away tomorrow so get cracking. If nobody enters, I will burn the codes slowly and painfully until they have left this mortal realm forever. The choice is yours.

– Ethic