Monday, February 21, 2005

Pre-Interlude of Suffering...

Long story short, told brother-in-law about blog. Brother-in-law got bright idea of running a blog--site since he's more of an IT-Web fanboi and we live in there-is-jack-shit-to-do ville. Since he's family, well, you know how it is. The new site will probably go through some new shiny within the next few weeks before we finally settle on a spread that I like for good. For now, I'm going to keep it real with the ghetto look and will continue updating there. I didn't want to announce the move until the site was done and after we updated to wp 1.5, but I noticed yesterday that Jeff Freeman's blog is being a bigger whore than Thottbot and found out the leet alpha blogging infoz and exploited that shit.

And yes, I apologize. I was just recently linked off several blogs and now I am moving ship, true pain in the fuckin ass, sorry guys. You can now link to me at Pitfalls. Yea, that url is borderline retarded. I'm keeping the name Pitfalls at the title of the blog, unfortunately, every url with pitfalls is fuckin taken. As for the url, (plaguelands) I couldn't think of anything better that wasn't taken or had the name gamer or nerfed in it, (bastards) but don't worry, I don't plan on dying or changing domains for a long while now. This will probably be my last update on blogspot, it really is an awesome, dumbed-down, service for true newbies like myself that are the blogging impaired.


Saturday, February 19, 2005

King Me! IGE buys out numerous VG "Axed" Affiliated Fansites

First let me just say, I'm not trying to be an anchor man. There are plenty of other blogs and sites that do a great job of focusing on dishing out the news, but I will comment on newsworthy topics from time to time. And you can also expect more game design ramblings, including game reviews and other shit later down the road as well.

This blog is a medium where I can ramble about anything I well fuckin please, since I wasn't deemed worthy enough to be a writer for one of the "other sites." Yea, that's right Anyuzer, the afk wanker of not taking the time to do a 5 minute update. All right, enough of the yada-yada-yada.

Want to make a quick buck and be paid to run a fansite gig on top of that? Better start working on those Tabula Rasa fansites while you can, and I'm dead serious. Looks like Jonathan Yantis & his IGE cronies are spreading even more love around. Recently the admin of Age of Vanguard posted a letter of what the opening icebreaker is like when you are approached with a "fansite-deal," no less by what some consider to be the genre's axis-of-evil.

Hello there, -

I am interested in purchasing your site for a LARGE sum of money. IGE has put aside four million dollars this year to purchase websites to build up our content network.

I saw and I think it could be a great edition. We could even work out a deal where we pay for the site and then give you a job running the site the way you do now. So nothing changes, you get to keep doing what you do now and make a ton of money doing it (or if you are tired of running it we can work something out on that front as well).

Also, do not worry about us plastering it with IGE ads because we treat this as a different business. We have several deals with publishers to be announced in the next few months so we would be putting up banners for them to promote their games across our network.

Please contact me and lets do some business.

Best Regards,
Jonathan O. Yantis
Chief Strategic Officer

Carnegie Hall Tower
25th Floor
152 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

Phone: (646) 202-0770
ICQ: 20292915
AIM: jonyantis

Holy shit, 4 million dollars for buying out different websites. Man, I could gather a small development team, lock ourselves up in a dark cave and make sweet sweet mmorpg love with that kind of cash. Think of what the developers that made Puzzle Pirates could of done with that extra budget. What a fuckin waste of money, I'm not sure how much cash Yantis & crew are offering these fansites, but I'm sure with those numbers, it's fairly decent. And yea, if you were wondering, that is his actual personal info for anyone that may want to give him a hearty hello or a FOAD! The two sites in question that have sold out are Age of Vanguard and the Okratas network. And honestly, I'll save you the links, nothing really worth checking out.

Okratas fuckin cracks me up most of all considering the admin (Garthilk) recently conducted an interview with Steve Sayler the President of IGE, which was fuckin plastered all over the internet including slashdot, because Garthilk asked "controversial" questions, like the infamous retarded monopology cheat analogy. The same goes for the admin at Age of Vanguard after they got the above letter, they went around on the VG forums, no matter what, we will never sell out speech, blah-blah. *snore*

Talk is cheap mother fuckers, once the offers are laid out on the table, it's the one doing the talking, now look at you! It's all fair game in love and war. Honestly, I don't give a fuck if these fansites sold out, I find it fuckin hillarious and hypocritical when someone goes out of their way, runs around all over different websites, posting why they are against IGE and all that they stand for, making IGE standout like they are the Anti-Christ and they are the holy warriors. And than, what do you know, not even a week later, fuckin sell out like a two dollar whore. Classic.

According to Cindy Bowens there are other affiliated sites Sigil is waiting to hear back from. I'm sure a few more will get swallowed up and in return 10 more shitty fansites will pop up, hoping they get bought or in the very least beta, when they should be thinking about future mmorpgs if they really want to make that dirty buck. Honestly, if I wasn't such a lazy son of a bitch, I would consider doing it, of course if it wasn't bought than I would look like a bigger jack ass than I do. And I would only want to rip off IGE, the same shit they do to pretty much every mmorpg developer out there.

Sigil has a lot of fansites as is, I really don't follow them, maybe a few of them on a bi-weekly basis and that's only for a quick browse or if something piqued my interest that is linked off the official forums. All these fansites piss me the fuck off because the game is still in alpha mega 0.5132 or some shit.

This is one reason why I really don't like fansites, biased mediums that are mainly ran by people that only care about scoring the phat lewtz (beta) and level their way up the ass-licking treadmill. Most fansite operators can't have a real opinion, if they see a flaw in the game, they view it as being negative and god forbid if they post what really is on their mind. Or even if they are posting about something good, they hype it up like it's the best thing since they touched their first boob. That is what really pisses me the fuck off about these fansites. WHO IS THE FUCKIN PR WHORE-MOUTHPIECE NOW BITCHES. Ah, I feel better. I needed to get that out of my system. Let me add, I am an ex-smoker and ranting is a good way to keep me from dying before I'm 30.

This is what Cindy Bowens, the official community manager for Sigil Games had to say in a post late this evening on their forums:

Hello all-

I unfortunately have some very sad news to announce. For the past two years, we have worked with you in building this community. One aspect of that was to develop a network of Vanguard Affiliated Fan Sites. The idea was to get to know the administrators of those sites now, before we launched Vanguard.

We have worked with the sites closely, and have gotten to know many of the operators very well, becoming good friends. I know I have enjoyed every minute in working with them, and believe it was worth the effort.

However, during the course of this week some things have changed. Over the past few days, many (if not all) of our Affiliates received offers to buy their sites from a third party that Sigil has no interest in dealing with. The offers, however, were quite high and some owners felt (understandably) that they could simply not refuse them.

One owner who was kind enough to let me use this quote, tearfully said to me over the phone: “I am sorry I am breaking my word to you. But I have a house with a leaky roof, a 15 year old car and I am trying to get through school. I had no choice.”

We can’t condemn anyone in a position like that and it saddens us to know that several of you were put into situations where you had to make that choice to begin with. We have sent e-mails to all of the affiliated sites – so far, two have decided to sell and three have not. The rest have yet to respond.

So while we await their response, here is ours:

The sites who have not sold are still listed as Affiliates. The sites that have not yet responded to us have been moved down to the “other sites” section where they will stay until we hear back.

The sites that have chosen to sell will be listed under Other Sites. They will no longer receive the benefits we offer only to Affiliates. We will continue only to affiliate with sites that adhere to our guidelines.In this case, specifically only those not associated with secondary item and currency sales.

Folks, we’re sorry more than you all can imagine that we have lost these sites. But we still believe in building a strong community that is owned by the community – not by us, or any other company. And rest assured, we will continue to do all we can to make sure that remains the case.

Anyway, I wouldn't feel bad if that was me selling out, alas, if I didn't talk mad shit about IGE, including conducting an interview with the damn President of IGE, trying to make him look like the Hitler of Virtual Worlds. It's not like Sigil is going to pay for your fuckin bills or these same people will still be running those fansites for free in another 10 years. And technically, it is a legit transaction, albeit, funded by dirty money.

The way Cindy comes across as being honorable and keeping the oath is a total crock of shit in my eyes. Who cares about being an affiliated site? No one will remember this shit in 3 months, it will be old news, just like that dirty whore Thottbot. Seriously, affiliated sites get more exclusive information and developer cock, wooptie-do. I would rather do something I enjoy (in this case, running a fansite) and make a living doing that, how's that for exclusive? I'll be watching Sigil's stance on IGE a lot more when E3 rolls around and see if they give exclusive screenshots or interviews to more corporate mediums like PC Gamer tha support IGE with advertisements. Heh, that would be something, Sigil could be the biggest sell outs in their own right and the biggest hyprocrits out of this whole IGE PR-Blitz!

Before I end for the night, I was able to ask Mr. Yantis a few questions over aim before he ran off to his castle of automons and monopoly money.

Pitfalls: Why doesn't IGE develop their own mmorpg? You have the funds, the userbase, and you could hire an army of developers fairly cheaper in Asia than what it would cost in the states.

JonYantis: We don't want to compete with publishers but instead work with them. So if we created our own MMORPG it would be competing.

(The Real Answer: We have no balls and I need a testicular transplant, we are blood sucking money mongering sons of bitches and will only rob developers and blackmail them into working with us).

Pitfalls: With all the buzz going around about the buy-outs, I was wondering if you have thought or even offered purchasing website.

JonYantis: We don't buy guild sites. FoH is an interesting read though. I know the guy who owns the domain (good guy by the way,I met him and real life and have spent many hours on the phone talking to him). Its not really his to sell. It is owned by lots of players (in their mindes) etc so its kind of unethical to buy it from under the guild so I don't even try.

(The real answer: Fuck yea, you think they gave me the title of Chief Strategy Officer for nothing. I'm king of the world!)

I recently posted on FoH asking if IGE had asked to buy their forums out. And what do you know, I didn't get a response, not surprised. Without a doubt, IGE is definitely becoming a commodity and trying to expand their actual legitimate business practices. I can't believe I'm saying they actually have legitimate business practices. It's going to be a loooooooong yeeeear, it seems IGE is getting more free advertisement than WoW and EQ2 combined these last few months.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Alexander Macris, CEO & President of Themis Group clears up IGE relations in a nonchalant way?

I'm not trying to spread gossip or anything, there is a concern I have, something I don't neceessarily understand and would rather post my thoughts here rather than over on the VG forums.

Isn't it odd for someone that is actually in the business per say to actually post on an official forum of another publisher that they are currently not in contract with? It seems quite odd, even if clearing your name publically in the thread. I'm actually taken back a bit, because I'm not sure how a developer might feel or if they would care at all. Maybe, Mr. Macris got permission beforehand or was tipped off originally.

Regardless, if Mr. Macris is a nice guy on the surface, I don't know him nor have I really researched the Themis Group that much, it does seem a bit unprofessional. Players are going to talk shit about you & company or question your ethics no matter what, especially if you are in the business, you just have to deal and bite your tongue or at the very least, if it's bothering you that bad, you could always respond in a private manner.

Either way, this is really funny coming from me, because I am a huge supporter of developer--player feedback on all sides, but when an official outside source gets involved on another developer's "official turf," I would think that it raises a few eyebrows, it did for me, even though I honestly don't mind it happening. This is also interesting considering how there has been some talk going around on several blogs about cross-medium developer communication. Maybe, I am suffering from paranoia and need to shut the fuck up. haha.

Here are the posts from the official Vanguard forums:

I am the president and chief executive office of Themis Group. I would like to respond to the post by Fozzik.Themis Group did work with IGE at the beginning of 2004. The relationship was terminated after approximately 60 days and they and we have not had business dealings since. We removed the PR and Client link relating to IGE because having them there created an impression of a relationship that did not exist.Fozzik, if I recall correctly, you and I spoke personally in IRC when you brought these theories up the first time by emailing Nevrax.

To add to what I said then: Neither Themis nor any of our affiliates has any relationship with IGE, nor have we almost a full year. Nor do any of our clients, to my knowledge, have a relationship with IGE; certainly, we have not brokered any deals between IGE and our clients. In fact, careful examination of IGE reveals they have most recently positioned themselves as a competitor of Themis in providing outsourced customer service for MMOGs to publishers. You can take that as evidence of what you will.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify this situation.

With kind regards,
Alexander Macris
CEO & President
Themis Group, Inc.

Quote:Originally Posted by Fozzik:

Garthilk, it's much worse. Keep checking... At the beginning of last year (late 2003-early 2004) two new MMORPG's were preparing to go into beta test. Both games had been in development for some time, but both were by startup-type companies who didn't have the clout to handle their own marketing/promotion. Both these companies decided to hire the Themis Group.

If you haven't heard of Themis Group, don't worry, I hadn't either. I was, however, following one of the aforementioned games rather closely, and was a part of their beta test. Themis group was handling CS, marketing, and publicity for one of the games, and completely handling the beta test for the other.

Themis Group was handling promotional beta slot giveaways for both companies, and deeply involved in the administration of both betas. At that exact same time, take a wild guess at who else Themis Group was representing. IGE.

After I discovered this, I shot off a few rather pointed emails to the developers of the game I was following, and a short time later I was in a chat room with several developers and the head guy from Themis Group. I was assured (the conversation was very polite) that Themis Group had concluded their business with IGE... and shortly after that all the press releases and all information about the Themis Group / IGE relationship was gone from the web (it is still possible to find some things with a little searching). This occurred within 24 hours of my initial emails to the game developers.

Draw your own conclusions, but a blind man in a dark room could see something funky was going on. I of course asked what the nature of Themis Group's relationship with IGE was... I was told that the deal included an NDA, and therefore couldn't be discussed. The "secondary market" for MMORPG's includes much more than just virtual property sales, although those businesses are what you might call the tip of the spear. Most of the money is there. A whole structure seems to be developing however, in an attempt to legitimatize and solidify the virtual property market. More and more people are smelling the money available, and without any ability to make games themselves they will latch on in whatever way possible.

It needs to be stopped. Who knows exactly how many hired "experts" it takes, or how many advertisements or PR deals, before a company like IGE really does become legitimate in the eyes of somebody that matters... like a judge.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Ultimate Cockblock: Nostalgic Days of 1 year Blizzard patches.

Well, what do you know, another fairly thorough Everquest 2 patch came out today. Is Smedley delivering on his promises? Nah, I would say that it looks like the EQ2 team is scrambling to get the game up to 3rd phase of beta and keep what customers they can from fleeing. This is only a good thing for them, but I am still bitter. You would be too, if you invested over 300 days played into Everquest alone.

If EQ2 does beat WoW in anything, it would definitely have to be in the patch department. There have been tons of patches that have come out for EQ2 in the last two months that have added, fixed, and even nerfed a lot of content. Granted, WoW is far more polished than EQ2, there is a lot of shit Blizzard could of fixed by now that really is inexcusable. And I'm not talking about those twice a week stealth changes er nerfs and than including them in the notes of the localization patch a month later to make yourself look like your doing something. Lets not forget that SOE has an actual PUBLIC beta test server that they almost patch on a daily basis, where as Blizzard uses, oh yea, that's right, they don't have one right now. Taking bets on how fucked up battlegrounds will be with their awesome QA! Come on now, put aside the polish here guys, battlegrounds is a whole different beast. It's like a whole fuckin game of its own, it's a huge undertaking and it's only obvious there will be problems.

Lets be honest, WoW is fucking up. I'm not surprised, I saw this same bull shit ever since first-phase alpha. Hell, we all saw this shit back in the glory days of Bill Roper and Diablo 2 and now it's deja-vu all over again. Instead of pushing themselves and setting smaller goals towards bi-weekly patches, Blizzard favors the bi-monthly route. I don't understand their logic really, why they would even have a developer that worked on a bit-torrent method of patching distribution that only encourages their playerbase to break the WoW eula because it's that fucked up. They are making millions of dollars in profit, and they actually have cross development on a mmorpg for another platform (Mac), but yet, Blizzard still can't manage to get some simple patches rolling out like the EQ2 team. Even Everquest-live had far better patching than WoW. And at least they were more communicative when patches would be delayed and with the overall scheduling. I miss the days of bitching about the patch, there was more things to bitch about, but now it's just straight up bitching about not having a patch! We have come a long way my friends.

My theory is:

They are busy with other shit like;

A. Counting their money.

B. Working on an Expansion so they can count even more money before the masses get bored.

C. There actually working on something else and rushing to get it implemented. (Battlegrounds)

D. Have newbie senior programmers that are scared and really have no idea what they are doing.

E. All of the above.

If you are thinking E, than I would think you're right. I'm sure it's a combination of all those things. I don't know if this will hurt them or not, because really when you think about it, those pussies that go around and say, "fuck you Blizzard, I'm cancelling my account and WoW is DOOMED!" These asshats were never really going to buy the game in the first place. Most of thsoe players are potential subs that had a low chance of staying subscribed to the game for more than 3 months anyway. Everyone and their grandma is buying WoW, the churn-over rate will definitely be high the first year. Where else are they going to go? Back to the SOE and NCsoft motherland of Utopia? It's not like there is a whole lot of other "mainstream" options out there that are even worth playing right now, especially if you have all ready fuckin played most of them.

If I could, I would switch the programmers, but leave everyone else. Imagine if WoW was getting the same amount of patches EQ2 is pushing out, they would really be tearing EQ2 a new hole. As FuckYou said on the FoH forums, "history is definitely made," the countdown for the second coming of Christ can be found here. The Wowzer is ticking Blizzard and you can't spin the bull shit nerfs as actual meaningful content changes.


No Love for the Smed: Anon Insider Speaks Out

Came across this gem over at n3rfed, nice job on the reporting Cosmik. Hardcore mother fucker is on the BALL, now change those craptastic colors where I don't feel like taking a shit everytime I see your blog and it will be happy times for everyone.

I'm not sure if our Anon friend even works for SOE, or did in the past, probably did or does in some capacity, sure as hell sounds like it, but I have to give them a lot of credit for actually writing this letter, even in anonymity they take a huge risk, you never know what narcs that might recognize you and turn your ass in. This only confirms my assumption that there are jaded developers that think Smedley is a complete and utter fuckwad.

One of my earlier responses to the Smed Memo:

"I wouldn't be surprised if you had some jaded developers that don't like working for you, but do anyway so they can keep on making a living, Good job."

Few quotes that really stoodout for me in the Anon response:

"So, when Smedley says “they keep us honest”, what he’s really saying is, “they are kicking our asses so badly that the Sony mothership is asking what the hell is going on, and my team is sending resumes to Blizzard.”

“I at least want to start this dialogue and stir the pot a little. We’re very interested in your ideas about where things go from here.”

Translation: “We have no clue what our creative vision is going to be (don’t we have a CCO named Koster around here somewhere?) and we might want to take the temperature of our users to dictate our direction… oh, that’s called design by committee, and policy-making by polls. Doesn’t that substitute for vision?”

Me 1, Developers 1, Smed 0.

And on a final note, I will leave you with something that I coined longed ago. A term, I recently shared on the VG forums when someone brought up the shitfest that was the Shadows of Luclin expansion. And that term is pulling a Smedley, a Smedley is when the playerbase goes ahead and does the testing on content that should of never been released and was pushed-out early because money corrupts the design process.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

The "Man" er Bitch.. Cries Wolf: John Smedley's, Dear Diary

"Oh Noez! Smed's royalties down for the first time in 4 years, penis envy of Rob Pardo and forget about the Christmas bonus this year! A jab at Brad McQuaid and much, much more." Check it out if you haven't, if you have all ready, keep on reading for my take on it all. And maybe, just maybe Smed might read this and actually get an unbiased opinion from someone that doesn't kiss his ass and tells it like it really is.

Instead of trying to be cool like a lot of the other bloggers and posting this early like it's breaking emergency news, being the true candy-ass that I am, I waited and actually read through almost 20 odd some pages of replies from the man's people, which I didn't learn any revolutinary ideas from, but it was nice to actually get an overall response on the feedback, which I will discuss towards the end as sort of post wrap-up and save you the time, the pain, and the tears of having to read it all for yourself.

First, I want to respond to a few things in the letter directly. If you don't want to read the tirade, even though it's a doozie, than skip below.

"Certainly some of those expansions were better than others, but I think our goal has always been the same… to entertain our players."

What's your personal goal Smedley? For fuck-sakes, if you really think your goal is to really entertain your playerbase, in a meaningful manner, you should step the fuck down. I would have to say a lot of the shit you put out is piss-poor entertainment. (this is a knock on the coporate dipshits that rush the development teams). You have
had your chance, time to retire and move on and let someone else have the reigns. You really don't deserve the right to be speaking for the real developers that work on these worlds, President of SOE or not.

"With the launch of EverQuest II, our goal was to refine EverQuest… to distill the things that made EverQuest great, but also to add its own flavor and gameplay style. I think it's fair to say we also needed to aim for a more casual gamer… and make the game appeal to people that may not have the same amount of time they had when EverQuest first came out. As a company we needed to also appeal to a wider base of people."

Refine Everquest, well you pretty much fuckin failed. You ruined the Everquest IP, level design is shit, the lore is shit, the game mechanics are shit, the itemization is shit, the whole game is pretty much shit. Fuck, give me a 25 million dollar budget, same time frame and all those development resources and I could of put out a much better product based on the Everquest IP using the same god damn game mechanics.

You wanted refinement and polish? No wonder your busy playing WoW. EQ2 is far from refined and it's your own fault for releasing early instead of having a longer beta process where that fuckin thing called refinement happens. Karma, mother fucker, you reap what you sow and YOU even fuckin knew how polished WoW was and what you would be going up against. Can you really be that surprised? You didn't even utilize a playerbase you could of trusted early-on as testers, the Everquest Guide Program. Bad move.

"Over the years, we've learned a lot. The biggest thing we've learned is that our players care very much about everything we do and the changes we make to their world. I can also assure you that our game teams really do care about the changes they make. Remember... YOU, our players, write our paychecks.

We've certainly made our share of mistakes over the years… but overall, we've tried to stay true to our primary goal of entertaining you.

That's our job description."

Once again we have more bullshit, I'm sorry cries and sucking up to the playerbase. You probably have 800,000 prior SOE customers that are jaded and never want to touch another SOE product again. I wouldn't be surprised if you had some jaded developers that don't like working for you, but do anyway so they can keep on making a living, Good job.

"Now what's been interesting from our perspective is what really serious competition is doing to the online gaming space. World of Warcraft has come on the scene and is doing awesome. Kudos to Blizzard on what I think is a spectacular game. I've played the heck out of it, and I love it (as have many people here at SOE). To a game developer, having another game developer play your game is the ultimate compliment… so to the folks at Blizzard we say "Nicely done".

But don't think for a second that we don't see WoW as both a great game AND Blizzard as serious competition.

Personally… I'm glad they are out there. They keep us honest. They keep us focused and they force us to play with our 'A' game. They've certainly opened some eyes in our company to styles of gameplay that are different than we would have come up with inside SOE. We need to be about larger scale mass-entertainment… because that's what online gaming is slowly becoming. Our games just need to be fun… and easy to get into.

In the United States there are around 2 Million paying online gamers (this is after WoW btw). That's up from 250,000 back before EverQuest was released... and I'm only counting the MMO's.. if you start to add in the Pogo's of the world we're probably talking about 3-4 Million online gamers... and I have no idea what scary numbers some of these online poker places are bringing in.

What this means is that making future online games is a big business that is going to be increasingly competitive. I think that's good for you, and good for us. It's going to insure great games get made… and I can tell you we're in this for the long haul."

And here you have it, this is where you show your true bean-counting ways. I really do appreciate it, it takes balls or just total stupidity, now everyone knows what your really all about. You don't care about these games or virtual worlds, you care about the money first. Everquest was a success in the first place because the developers cared about what they were doing and you didn't have them by the balls.

Your developers may still care about the projects they work on, but it's guys like you behind the wheel, that have really lost the true-vision. You're becoming the evil empire of virtual worlds, maybe that gives you a fuckin hardon, but you don't own every damn IP out there and I think WoW is stirring some shit up and it's only the beginning of the end for you Smed. Right now, the only thing really holding your foot in the door is the All-Access-Pass.

Next you will have the king of tolkien-esque virtual worlds entering the market, Vanguard. Better get some shit done on EQ2 fast, otherwise I don't see EQ2 gaining any new subs or resubs for that matter. You think a huge chunk of those players WoW brought into the genre will eventually play one of your games, not that many at all would even consider it because SOE's games are a shitty juxtapose with all the cards laid out on the table. Better hope NCSoft or Turbine doesn't follow in your footsteps and start their own All-In-One subscription plans.

I'll list a few points on why WoW is really beating everyone's ass, it's not revolutionary game ideas either mother fucker.

* They succeeded in doing what you said you were going to with Everquest 2 over a year ago.

* They brought an established fanbase, IP and converted it into the genre. There's no way you can compete with millions of Blizzard fans, if you try and beat them in subs game vs game, I hope you have an established IP that is more popular than the Warcraft universe! Everquest doesn't even come close, although it can be a really good one if used correctly, which it wasn't in it's reincarnation. Ironicially, Vanguard is really going to be the true-Everquest sequel.

* They work better as a team, there development team shows much more passion. This shows throughout the whole game world in the design. Their PUBLIC testing process, lasted for more than a year, which allowed for a lot of that polish. Shit takes time, Smed, you have to bite the bullet when developing these worlds.

"I hope they're also opening up the eyes of other MMO developers that the 'old school' probably won't cut it any more. I'm glad that we went in the direction we did with EQ II because had we stuck with making an even "harder core" game, I think bad things would have happened.

It's only obvious this is directed towards Brad & the vision at Sigil Games. Old-school is over generalized, how do you know hardcore wont cut it any more? Once again, you're judging how good these games are based on retention and subscription numbers. If you want to be ignorant and look at it that way, take a look at FFXI, more hardcore and solo unfriendly than any other game out there in the market and just so happens to be an all around a huge success number wise, and it also has huge pitfalls, especially in regards to the UI and community boundaries, it could be far more successful than what subs it has garnered to this day, while still retaining its hardcore elements.

I can understand now why Brad & company really left SOE, he wants to focus on making a good game--virtual world first and foremost. Whatever playstyles they target, I'm sure they will develop a much better product than SOE has and will be rewarded for that, even if they don't beat WoW in subs and I dobt they will considering they have a niche in the Asian market established all ready. If EQ2 was more casual-friendly, it may be better, because it woud actually be somewhat tolerable, but the game would still be shit and far from refined.

"Where are we going? What are we going to be doing to revolutionize this business? Well let me throw out just a few of the things we're thinking about here at SOE.

What if you could have families in MMO's? Virtual Children… What if your characters could have children and pass on the family name…

What if players could build fantastic dungeons that become part of the worlds we create with tools we give them? How would that work exactly?

I mention these things to be provocative. I want to make sure we're going to take what we do to the next level… and that's going to mean putting some next generation ideas out there and seeing the kinds of things you actually want… but I at least want to start this dialogue and stir the pot a little. We're very interested in your ideas about where things go from here."

First of all, I personally like the fact you're interested in hearing revolutionary ideas from the players. However, this is why you have paid developers and most of all Raph Koster. He's the most qualified person in this industry for designing revolutionary systems and fleshing out ideas.

Your examples do more harm than good, even if provocative, ultimately to the players, they just make you look like you really don't have any fuckin idea of what you're doing and give out a scare-tactic impression more than anything. You can't even get your current games--worlds done the way they should be, how the fuck do you expect to be revolutionary? If you really think that you can lead the way, you should jump in front of a moving bus.

What a lot of your marketing decisions have amounted to is de-evolution. You can't even accomplish evolution, until you show me that you can handle evolution, and not on paper either, than you can focus on some new revolutionary game mechanics and ideas. I'm all for revolution in this genre and innovations, but why jump to step 3 when you can't even get onto step 2, or won't allow your development teams to actually accomplsih step 2 for once?

Revolutionary mechanics and systems in this genre take far more time and refinement than what actual evolution requires. They are new systems, ideas, and concepts that need to be experimented with and combed over before making their niche or foray into the mass-market.

Awhile back, I came up with 10 rules (only) on what I think makes a succesfful mmorpg. The premise is basic common sense from a hardcore player.

1. The vision must stay in focus.

2. A development team that knows how to work in a cohesive environment and function like a well molded clan.

3. There must be meaningful content for all levels of play.

4. All classes need to have a defined role and bring something "benefecial" to all playstyles in the game.

5. Events need to be ran on a regular basis that shape and change the story of the world.

6. Quality of content is far superior than Quantity.

7. Pacing of progression is very important. There must be objectives that players can complete in 1-2-3 hour time frames in solo, group, and raid situations.

8. Developer and playerbase communication -- relations is very integral to the whole process. These worlds are not just games,
they are communities and the leaders need to communicate. EQ2 does do a better job of this than other virtual worlds.

9. Developers must actually play the game on a continual basis. (I mean really play it, not this bull shit of playing every other game out there looking for new ideas or they can't hack playing the game becasue they understand it all ready and feel it's wasting their time).

10. Making money is not the #1 objective. Making a fun game--world is, if this is accomplished the players will gladly open up their pocket-books.

10 is your personal biggest problem.

All right, enough roasting, Smed doesn't even deserve all that vast knowledge. Time for a recap on some of the player feedback. First of all, the one thing that I really noticed about these replies, is that the general impression the EQ2 playerbase is far more mature and intelligent than the wow playerbase.

Some of the most things players want in Everquest 2 or in future mmorpgs.

Dynamics, general dynamics in the game-world, this is a given.

* Specifically, a dynamic weather system is the most required system I saw, nor is it by far a new idea. This would be revolutionary in itself, if implemented correctly.

Top Requested

* More solo content. I'm not really going to debate this, but this was probably first on the list.

* Advanced player housing--cities was probably the second if not first most requested system.

* PvP was top 3 on the list, players want SOME form of PvP in their playing experience.

* The ability to sit in chairs and laydown in beds. This is common sense, even WoW does this. The fact SOE decided not too include this, is basically like having the chance to fuck the prom queen and blowing it because you have to be at home before midnight.

* Character customization, particularly with armor and a variety of items. Lots of complaints on how everyone looks the same and has the same items.

* There were more requests for a game based off some of the systems in UO and SWG. Add those systems in with a general tolkien-fantasy world and you will have a success. However, it looks like Vanguard will be borrowing the premise of some of these systems. SWG's spawning system, advanced trade--harvesting system and some concepts from UO as well. There were not a lot of requests for older EQ concepts and systems.

Honorable Mentions

* Humor, something EQ2 is sorely lacking.

* Level--World Design sucks.

* There were about a dozen requsets for an implementation of built-in voice chat.

* More skills, less levels.

* Improved NPC AI.

* Bazaar system is shit and needs to be changed.

* Classes are far too watered down and not distinct enough.

* Voice-Overs suck and are annoying.

* Players want games within the virtual-world.

* Better lore and storylines.

* Some new type of combat.

* Eliminate real-life cash for items sales. (Unrealistic)

* Bring back massive raids. (Ala EQ1) Amusing, considering all the requests for solo content.

Overall, most of the feedback doesn't even revolve around revolutionary ideas. Just constructive criticism from the players that want SOE to focus on fixing what they have implemented (huge outburst from artisans) and adjust that content accordingly while adding solo content instead of even thinking about "the revolutionary future." I can just see it now, "I can't join the group because I can't find a baby sitter for my son, damn why did I sleep with that barmaid." GG!


Saturday, February 05, 2005

About Pitfalls

Blogging 101.

Ramblings of an agoraphobic about game design, mmorpg's, the genre and everything inbetween with some other shit thrown into the mix. If no one reads it, that's fine, in a year I can always look back and see how far I've gotten to nowhere.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Holy Fuckballs! An update

Yea, I've been lazy, posting on other websites, because it's not like any of you jizz monkies read this fine site of mine. I figured I would make an update for myself, YEA, ME BABY ME, fuck y'all. I must admit, I like updating my site, because I can shine and show everyone my true immaturity. I post on official game forum-websites quite a bit, you know the ones that actually have rules. The man is keeping me down with them fuckin rules. I feel like a corporate fuckwad with some stick up my ass. So, it feels good to blow a load here and shoot the shit, get back down to my roots. Anyhow, enough blabber... Without further ado, Pitfalls presents:


Edit: Finally, I got this rewritten, it was better the first time around, but shit happens.

I saw this and had to snag it, can you believe this shit? Not only do the Korean gamers get laid for being hardcore, they get all the cool catch phrases too. How would you like going home after a kick ass nite of pvp at the local pc baang (net cafe) and having your girlfriend, that thinks you're the mutha fuckin king, give up her punani, screaming you are the wowzer while you hit it? I'm sure that shit is fairly common for your typical hardcore gamer considering how huge the gaming scene is overseas.

Where to start, lets see.... Well, what has everyone else covered that I should cover 5 days later. Because, that's how I work, last minute, my boys do all the reporting, and than I chime in with my thoughts, the best of both worlds. In the spirit of the Wowzer and warrior protest, I will cover some thougts on protests in virtual worlds.

Yea, you know those protests where people get together for a cause. Like those losers that stand outside in front of the white House, thinking they can actually make a difference. And guess how many of those losers actually do make a difference, not many, only the ones like Michael Moore that get to hand pick other losers he can use in his movies to make a buck off of. The thing is, in a virtual world, every player can make a difference when protesting, the players do have some control, players have that greater chance of getting the attention of the lawmakers of said world. Imagine a crowd of a few thousand blocking White House traffic for hours on end and all the drivers in the DC area forced to drive at 5 mph because of that small crowd, crash and burn mother fucker, or better known in virtual worlds as LAG. And something of this scale, the crashing of the world, is much easier to organize online than it would be in the real world.

These virtual protests have actually been happening for years now, maybe even decades. Back in the day as they say, when I was still flogging the dolphin to JC Penney ads and playing Mario 3 on the Nintendo. Even as far back when UO was king, there were player protests. I always wondered if any protests happened in Muds, so if you happen to be reading this and know of any that did. By all means, share it with me, because I want to get an idea of how far players have been bitching about virtual worlds on a massive scale. The only evidence that I have found is here, it's pretty damn old school.

I love protests, it really shows how much people care about the game they play. Even if the shit is negative tension towards the developers. If, I was a developer, I would be happy if players were protesting in my game. Think about this shit, seriously, really fuckin think about it. The recent WoW warrior protest serving the purpose to get the attention of the developers is a perfect example. The cries and pleas of hundreds if not thousands of gamers wanting to be answered all at once. The rabid fanbois talking for days in-game, on forums or even in real life about how they were pissed the fuck off at Blizzard and couldn't wait for this protest to prove that they mean business. Some of those people probably went as far as cancelling real life plans they might of had, lying to real life friends and family members to hide their shame of protesting in a video game. And some of you were there, don't you fuckin lie, just watching it happen, because hell that shit is interesting in a virtual world that some of us care more about than we actually realize. Hell, Deja fuckin Vu. I wasn't even at that protest, I was probably sleeping or trolling some random forum like I normally do, but here I am writing about it. If you still haven't read what happened with the WoW warrior protest, slacking bastard, and want to see what went down from a few gamers that were actually there, there's no better place, than our boys at Cesspit and AFK Gamer. Thanks guys and awesome reporting.

Lets take a look at one of the older protests in Everquest and what players were upset about a few years ago. Oh my, what do we have
here. The same shit the fanbois in WoW were protesting about, the warrior class. Man, there must be a whole fuck ton of warriors out there with some serious sand in their vaginas across the mmorpg spectrum. That's just one of the more massive player protests that happened in Everquest. Lets see here... Ah, here we go.

Another well known protest that wasn't on a massive scale, or even held in-game for that matter, but actually held some clout was the one by the most famous player to this day in mmorpg history, Guild Leader of Fires of Wankage, er Heaven, Furor Planesdefiler. Some of you might remember when he gave SOE an ultimatum (no link) to fix Plane of Time in X days or they would leave Everquest and turn their site into a WoW fansite. Well, in the end, that's pretty much what happened, a few months after the deadline he posted it was over. FoH packed it up, a lot of people were extremely happy about this, but at the same time SOE ultimately lost. How did they lose? They lost out on a ton of publicity for Everquest after FoH switched over taking a huge following with them. Currently there really are no more FoH's left in EQ that a ton of people (including people that don't even play mmorpgs anymore) flock too.

The amusing thing about this, is that Blizzard picked up Furor as a game designer. Love him or hate him, this is a good move because the man knows his shit. If you don't agree, that's fine, you are ignorant and I sound like an ass kisser so we both lose! Even, Brad McQuaid said he would of offered Furor a job at Sigil Games if he knew was looking to get into the industry. And too those developers that say, if the players don't like it they can leave our virtual world, guess what in that case they did and SOE fuckin lost out big.

Back on topic, how about another SOE Game, where the developers pretty much fucked up on how they handled customer's relations during last years swg credit duping proest. Thankfully, Jeff Freeman and Raph Koster handled the communication more clearly soon after on numerous blogs and forums. SWG probably has more protests than any other game, but on a lesser scale that aren't widely publicized outside of their own community.

Some of the player protests in SWG I find to be a bit more humurous than what I've seen in other games. Probably because you have a lot of Star Wars Geeks playing and I'm more of a Lord of the Rings nerd and naked gnomes have more style. I really almost feel bad for the SWG developers, I really do. The beautiful thing with a game like SWG is players can actually crash the server much easier than another mmorpg, which is why they rather whine in game rather than on the forums. What were the developers thinking when making a game labeled mmorpg. (Massively Multiplayer, hello?), but if you come together for a protest our game can't handle the load and since you're going to crash the server we will ban your puny playing ass. Nice Move! Sadly, that's bullshit, I can't blame the developers for that and neither should you. It's actually because of some server infrastructure shit, honestly, not much the SWG devs can do about that.

I do have to give SOE some credit, in some cases they have responded by bending over backwards and holding all-paid-expenses trips to their offices in California, better known as player summits. Where they hand pick players or "leaders" in the player community that can discuss their concerns with the developers face to face. In a response like this, ultimately the players do win, because they made an impact and their voices have been heard, but the company wins as well, even more so than the players do, which I will get to in a minute. Yes, we're almost done, keep reading...

So, the point is, these protests have been happening for a long ass time now and in many other different virtual worlds other than the ones I mentioned. Now, the thing about these virtual protests is that some fucking reaction needs too happen, be it crashing the server, a GM responding, etc. If nothing happens at all, the players efforts have failed and they look more stupid, especially among their peers.

Now, the developers need to use these protests to their benefit, and I mean benefit as on a whole other level. Force these player protests too happen in your virtual world. Make sure one class is fucked up and rotate them out after each protest happens and the dust settles a few months later. Let the players think they are actually contributing to their class or whatever they happen to be bitching about. It could even be an encounter, EQ used this tactic as well. If your game is good enough, players will keep playing and this will pay off in the long run. Man, I'm an evil son of a bitch now that I really think about it. People love bitching, and when people come together for the sole purpose of bitching it promotes community interdependencies on a massive scale.

A perfect example of this player bitching would be Everquest, where the classes to this day are still unbalanced and fucked up. And yet its retention rate for subs alone was at least 400k for 4 years and still going strong.

Now, look at a game like EQ2, where the classes are TOO balanced. Players are not going to be protesting and asking for the classes to be unbalanced, they may whine and complain, but it's illogical to have a protest in-game over that, so a large base of players will quit since the game may be lacking in other areas as well that are not worth protesting, because there harder to change (World Design) or some of those players may of actually gotten interested in other virtual worlds in due parts thanks to their protests.

On another note, about the subs for EQ2; I don't care if the recent press release says EQ2 has 310k subscribers, for all we know that could be a load of shit. That could be very well be the, lets play our SOE trump card, the SOE-All-Access-Pass, but not mention how many of those 310,000 subscribers come from that.

Now, think about the player summits SOE has had on several occassions. It benefits SOE by giving them wide spread publicity across many mediums, some that are not even specifically EQ related at all. If they had to actually pay for that kind of publicity in the real world it would cost them much more than handpicking a few leaders of the playerbase and flying them out and giving them a bunch of freebies... Food for thought.

Ok, now back to WoW and the results from their recent player protest. I applaud the resposne from Blizzard and how they handled their later protest. Temporary-suspensions, claiming zone disruption, this was a smart move and than later I was even more shocked when the players, warriors in particular got what they wanted, some answers. I haven't seen this level of developer feedback on a particular class in a long time. Kalgan, gets mad props for doing this as it probably took him hours to reply to all this shit. If you would like to check out his response, it's quite long, Abalieno has covered it very well, here is part one and part two. And as you can see, Kalgan shoots down player generalizations and assumptions left and right, there is a reason why this man is being paid and the rest of us are fodder, paying to play.

And with all that finally said, my fellow gamers, you are the WoWzer.