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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Name Game

Well, I've been seeing Frogloks popping, or should I say hopping, up everywhere in Norrath these days. I mean seriously, I can't believe how many Frogloks there are and I don't even think they're unlocked server-wide on my server yet. IPYM has a description and link to a video of what is apparently the first server wide unlocking if you are interested.

With the release of the Froggies into our fair world the floodgates have also opened to a deluge of corny frog pun names.

But, hey, when you're staring at the character creation screen sometimes you draw a blank.

So, I figured I would point you to some resources. Having trouble coming up with a fitting name for that new alt? You can try
either one of these fantasy name generators to give you some ideas. It can be fun to punch up a random name and then try to imagine the backstory.

For my characters I sometimes like to delve into mythology and play off of the names I find there. You can try Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, Arthurian or any other mythos for inspiration. Here is
a link to some names from mythology.

As for what not to do I'd stay away from characters in fantasy novels and movies, okay Legolas?


You can also check out this
thread of funny names from the official forums.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Beach Me

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Okay, a short holiday post today (Memorial Day here in the US and I believe a bank holiday in the UK as well) as I head to the beach.

Hmm, is there a beach or island oriented zone in any MMO? I mean, I know the Feerott is equatorial but it's more jungle than beach. Perhaps a zone with a bunch of small islands reachable by outrigger canoe and maybe with lore of a modified
cargo cult mythology?

Anyway, my original point to this post was to let you in on some more E3 reports. I know, I know, you would think I pointed to enough of that already. However, SOE recently
linked to some coverage and I noticed two I missed: Caster's Realm and EQ2 Interface (a useful site I mentioned previously). So check them out if you want more Desert of Flames impressions.

By the way, there was a news item I really liked on Friday on
EQ2 Vault. Can you guess which one it was?

Friday, May 27, 2005

Massively Multiplayer Mouse

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Have you been waiting for an MMO that’s more hardcore than any of the others? One that promises sex and violence at every turn? Well, have I got the game for you.

Yes, take a terrifying journey into the seediest of worlds where perversion is everywhere and death is commonplace. That's right -
Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom.

I've been playing this game in brief spurts for the last few days. I actually figured Disney would do a decent job. But this game is so horrible Walt Disney is probably shuddering in his cryogenic burial capsule located deep within the bowels of Main Street USA.

The first thing that stands out is that communication is the biggest challenge in this game. I found everything I typed being bounced by the word filter and I wasn't even saying anything improper. Heck, even the word "filter" was filtered. So were words like, "gameplay," "steak," and "woman."

I was honestly confused until I questioned a GM - I'm sorry I mean "cast member." She informed me that they are actually "whitelisting" as opposed to "blacklisting" words. What that means is that instead of having a list of forbidden words they have a list of allowable words and all other words are forbidden. I completely understand why they are doing this (it's a game for children after all) but it will make forming a sentence very difficult until they add more words. Also if kids misspell words they will be filtered. Hmm...maybe this is a valid educational tool to counteract the l33tspeak movement.

Anyway, what really bothers me is the awful gameplay. Most zones are bugged. The only actual minigame I was able to play was the dull Safari game in Adventureland. And I was unable to access the rewards I earned from that. You are also told to look for hidden Mickey ears as you travel the gameworld and photograph them. The problem is, several of the ones I found are impossible to photograph due to their placement near the edge of the screen and the thickness of the camera window frame. Okay, I know it's only in beta but even for a beta the quality is low. There's just nothing to do.

The good news? It's free. And it's probably still better than
Mourning.

Because I like to be fair, I'll log on again in a few weeks and see if things are improved. If so, I'll update.

While we’re on the Disney topic, have you ever wondered what the people who dress up as Mickey, Goofy or Minnie are like when the costumes come off? Well, according to
this article they like to get high and hook up. And sometimes that's while they're still in costume. You can check out this underground video of Disney employees doing rather un-Disney-like things. (via Gridskipper)

Friday Humor: EQII Sitcoms

Well, the recent news that guild halls are rumored to be on the way (it's towards the end of this linkfest post) had me wondering. How about a sitcom based around life in a guild hall?

Let's try to imagine what that would be like as I rip off a couple of my favorite sitcoms...

Cheers Qeynosians!
The setting – a guild hall which is furnished like a tavern. The bartender is Samai, a handsome wood elf. Gorm, an ogre, walks in.

Customers: GORM!

Samai: What’s new Gorm?

Gorm: Gnolls, Samai, they’ve taken over my stomach. They’re demanding ale.

Samai slides him an ale.

Samai: So, rough day Gorm?

Gorm: It’s a world of ebon leggings, Samai, and I’m wearing threadbare pants.

Claivan, a gnoll seated next to Gorm, chirps in.

Claivan: Funny you mention ebon Gormy. The Tae-Ew or Cazic-Thulians if you will are a notoriously lazy and drunk bunch who only mine when they are out of beer. Thus, they obviously called Ebon No-Beer which eventually got shortened to Nobe. Of course, when humans came to the Feerrott they not knowing, as I do, that the Tae-Ew language is read right to left, read Nobe backwards as Ebon!

Diana (a high elf): I don’t think that’s right. Samai, what are you doing?

Samai: And then I remove your bodice and rub my strong hands over your – oops, sorry mistell!

Diana: Sam!

And scene…

Or how about everyone's favorite Qeynosian, Jerai Rhynefeld?

Rhynefeld

Gorge, a balding dwarf enters the guild hall where Jerai is sitting on the couch with Eraine.

Gorge: Hey guys, check it out.

He slides the Mask of the Deceiver over his face and morphs into a handsome dark elf.

Eraine: Uh, yeah whatever Gorge.

Jerai: So what’s the deal with Griffons anyway? In Antonica they let you ride them and in TS they attack you! I mean seriously if they follow you into Antonica will they go from biting you to flying you around-

Eraine: Anyway, how was your date with that girl I set you up with, Gorge?

Gorge: Hmm…okay I guess. The thing is, she’s a dwarf.

Jerai: Wait, let me get this straight. You, Gorge, are refusing to date someone because they’re a dwarf?

Gorge: Well, yeah, I can do better.

Eraine (screaming): But you’re a dwarf, Gorge! You’re a dwarf!

Gorge (smirking): No, I was a dwarf.

Eraine: I don’t like this mask and I don’t like what it’s doing to you. And here’s what I’m going to do about it!

She grabs the mask and flings it out the window. Gorge turns back into a dwarf.

Scene 2

Gorge comes running into the guild hall where Jerai is sitting. Kraymir, the wacky troll is searching the guild vault for food.

Gorge: Jerai, Jerai if someone sends you a tell you have to answer, “Vandelay Raiding Guild!”

Jerai: What are you talking about Gorge?

Gorge: I’m trying to get into this high-end raiding guild to impress a woman and I said I was in Vandelay Raiding Guild and that the leader was at this guild hall.

Jerai: And what exactly is your position in my raiding guild?


Gorge: I’m a Raid Officer.

Jerai: Humph, Raid Officer. I don’t think so.

Gorge: Just say Vandelay Raiding Guild! I have to go adjust my market board prices.

Gorge goes into the other room.

Kraymir: Hey Jerai, some wacko’s sending me a tell! Something about Vandelay Raiding? Do you have anymore owlbear steaks?

Gorge (shouting): Say Vandelay Raiding Guild! Vandelay Raiding Guild!

Kraymir: No, sorry buddy, never heard of it! What’s that Gorge?

Gorge, in his haste to return, accidentally puts his clothes up for sale. He runs back into the room half-naked and falls over a chair. Jerai looks down at him condescendingly.

Jerai: And you want to be my Raid Officer…

Fin

Okay, maybe that was one of those things that sounds funnier in my head.


Hmm, if you read this far take a link to a techno remix of the whole Leroy thing and we'll call it, uh, even.

Cotton Candy Please!

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Just a reminder, the Carnival of Gamers I mentioned earlier is now in full swing so swallow your fear of clowns and take a look.

Those brave enough to enter will find links to posts from twenty different gaming bloggers (which is weird because I thought we didn't even exist).

Nice to see that both Krones' and Cosmik's Station Exchange rants are there. If you haven't heard my views on that topic you can check them out here and here.

Thanks to buttonmashing.com for doing a nice job hosting this wild event.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

It Still Ain't Easy Being Green

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Well, it was back on St. Patrick's Day when I first wrote about the Frogloks. That was followed up on the day before Tax Day (in the US at least) with my Froggy Flambe post when it was revealed that Frogloks were not actually in the game yet. This revelation or, as Adventuring with Ark termed it, "Guk-Gate," raised the ire of many players. So here we are on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend (again in the US) and I'm still talking about these blasted amphibians.

At this point I don't care if Frogloks have the power to bend space and time to their will merely by hopping. But, they're coming anyway so if you're still interested I've assembled some of the current Froglok info.

Suleman discusses the Froglok happenings
in this thread, stating that there will be quests, a raid and live events involved in the unlocking (though the live events are more for fun). The quest to unlock the Frogloks for yourself is for group players in the low 20's (or solo players in the high 20's). To unlock them for the server will require raiding. The quests can be picked up in Castleveiw or West Freeport.

I mentioned in
this post that the SOE Worlds magazine discussed Cazic-Thule in conjunction with the Frogloks (I'm guessing for the raid portion).

You can check out the Froglok
starting stats here. They're fairly well rounded.

Forums poster HanktheDwarf has some
screenshots of the Froggies up, presumably from Test.

Moorgard
explains why the Froglok quest is available to the evil denizens of Freeport. He also does a pretty hilarious rendition of a typical forums poster: "I begged Higby and Rizzo to do it so I didn't have to see 50 threads popping up tomorrow saying "I want to play all evil characters EXCEPT the one slot I saved for a froglok. But because the quest is only in Qeynos, I can't do that. WHY DO YOU HATE ME SOE?!?!?!?!" It's funny because it's true. He's just missing the title for the post - I suggest either "Reasons Why I Am LEAVING!" or "Say Goodbye to My Subscription SOE!" Even though I bashed Moorgard once (only because he ranked on blogging) I always enjoy his writing and I have to hand it to him for giving an honest, funny and non PR-speak response here. Here's another recent Moorgard reply I liked. By the way, that post mentions there will be an option to use the Soga character models (thanks Dave).

SOE is featuring Froglok lore: they have two parts of a Froglok tale up already
starting here. So, if you can handle the excitement of pulse-pounding dialogue like, "if I see thy dolly, I will bring it to thee once my shift is over" then check it out.

Most importantly, I found out
what kind of frog I am.


I'm a Red Eyed Tree Frog!

Why did I take that test? Because the internet is a strange and magical place. Also, I'm an idiot.

Finally, to keep up the tradition of my last two Froglok posts, I will end things with a corny frog joke:

A beautiful princess was having a picnic by herself near the waterfall in Oakmyst Forest. A little frog hopped right onto her picnic blanket.

"Hello, Princess!" he croaked. "Bring me home and place me on your pillow and I will turn into a handsome Prince by morning!"

The Princess shrugged. What else could she do? She stuck the frog in her picnic basket and headed back to the castle. That night she placed the frog on her pillow and went to sleep.

That morning there was a handsome man laying next to her in bed!

Do you believe that story?

Neither did her mother.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Shards

I've already spent too much time today agonizing over pictures of ponies (I finally bought a tier 2 horse) so I'm just going toss a bunch of links at you. Here goes:

Remember, when I said
Transfer Me? Uh yeah, on second thought you better not.

Those of you who read my article on dueling yesterday were probably thinking - Okay, Aggro, that's all well and good but where are the reports of what actual duels on the test server are like? Well, I don't blame you but I searched the official forums and came up empty. Luckily, new blogger
Quylein the Mage did some better legwork managing to track down this report from the Scout's Sanctuary.

In any case, the /duel command
will not be part of Live Update 9 which I kind of warned might happen in yesterday's post. Live Update 9 is itself pushed back a day.

Oh, did I say on Monday it was the end of E3? Well, maybe just a little more:

E3 "awards" for MMORPG's were announced by
MMORPG.com. To be honest, I don't know who the judges were for this feature or what their qualifications are. But anyway, dark horse Hero's Journey took best game and EQII cleaned up the expansion category with Desert of Flames. Before you get too excited, they were really only competing against the expansions to DAoC and Anarchy Online.

This post from the Stratics forum has a screenshot of the EQII East high elf model. I guess goofy hair translates into all cultures. Also the EQ2 Stratics main page has a preview of the expansion up. The Arena PvP looks like it will have a gallery for observers. Also, trophies and ranks will be attained by successful arena combatants.

Blackguard does a nice job writing up his E3 experiences
in this thread. He also attempts to lure the ladies into attending FanFaire by saying, "If you are extremely lucky, we may be able to convince Moorgard, Smed, and Gallenite to go up to the mic and belt out some karaoke."

I directed you to
EQ2 Vault's E3 page on Monday but I'd like to point out that they now have a really detailed look at Station Exchange up now. As usual, my therapist's orders prevent me from any further discussion of Station Exchange.

They also have another
look at the expansion available. Noteworthy: Guild Halls. Yes, Guild Halls. "The guild halls will be purchased much in the way that homes are purchased." Now that makes me happy. Not as happy as my new horse makes me but definitely happy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Duel Me

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My knowledge of dueling is mostly gleaned from the Simpsons episode in which Homer challenges a Southern colonel to a duel and ends up creating a tomato-tobacco hybrid called a Tomacco. But maybe it's time I dusted off my dueling gloves and brushed up on my pistol skills.

According to the
update notes for the test server, the duel is on.

Of course the forums are firing at full force. The most common complaints fall into two categories:

The pro-PvP camp is upset because you get full death penalties if you die in a duel.

The anti-PvP camp is upset because people will spam you with unwanted /duel invites.


You can try this thread or this one or this one if you are so inclined.

I say let's wait and see how it all turns out. First of all, it's only on the Test Server for now. They might decide to not even implement it.

Moreover, dueling was in Everquest since the beginning and it's my understanding that it did not have a detrimental effect on PvE gameplay. I can't guarantee it but I'm willing to bet the devs implement a block all duel invites option. Give them a little time.


As for the death penalty issue, I'm not crazy about it (perhaps a minimum coin wager based on level instead?) but I'm willing to see how it pans out. Moorgard addresses the death penalty issue here. It is unclear at this point whether there is a surrender feature which might, in part, solve the problem.

And remember, the main PvP will be the arena combat in the expansion.

Right now I'm laughing picturing my friends and I dueling each other online. I think it will be fun. If it does turn out to be annoying believe me I'll be the first to let you know and blast SOE for it.

And hey, dueling has a tradition: Vice-President Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Some people even duel their spouse -
here is a description of a medieval duel between a man and a woman.

So give dueling a chance. If you disagree just find me online and challenge me to a duel. Aha, got you there! Now if I can just figure out how to grow a Tomacco...

Monday, May 23, 2005

E3 Endnotes

As the media types shake off their hangovers and take a break from sorting their swag E3 reports continue to trickle in.

I'd first like to direct you to an informative look at the expansion
over at EQII Vault. In addition to mentioning some stuff I've already covered, there are some new points:

As hinted earlier, the "griffon ride" of the expansion will be a flying carpet.

The PvP system sounds fun so far with a variety of games, a matching system that allows you to set up games and join games in progress and npc's that cheer for you if you win.

I sort of scoffed at the new voice emotes but apparently there will be phrases such as "Heal me!" which might be helpful in combat. I hope they have one for me that says, "I overnuked yet again and have aggro...sorry!" Perhaps they will add a "Hey, baby, nice breastplate - want to cyber?" for aspiring followers of
Ceciliantas.

"Sometimes, there will be times when you have to jump from wall to wall to accomplish a quest or task, which should prove interesting." Or annoying, I'm not sure yet. As someone who regularly falls down that hole in CT as well as taking the occasional spill down the Zek elevator shaft I'm not sure I'm coordinated enough to pull the whole wall jumping thing off.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the article is this quote: "I also found out that SOE will likely introduce PvP servers further down the road but was given no timeframe." Wow, watch out for the firestorm on the forums when people get wind of that.

OGaming also has a
lengthy preview up. It adds to my fear of clumsiness by stating that there will be "the ability to shimmy from rope to rope while hanging on." You have fallen and taken 8,494 points of damage.

OGaming also
covers the Station Exchange system which will apparently utilize the in-game mailbox system and require Paypal. I quoted the pricing system earlier but this version is a little more detailed so I am quoting it as well: "When placing an item or character up for auction, SOE will charge a non-returnable fee of $1.00 for listings, and will take a 10% cut from each item that is sold. If an item does not meet the reserve that has been placed, the 10% will not be taken out, and a seller is given the option to take the item back and place it back on the character, or to try again, for an additional $1.00 listing fee."

With all the focus on the expansion it's easy to forget it's unloved sibling, the Splitpaw Saga adventure pack. With that in mind, here's a
link to a Gamespot look. It mentions the scalability of mobs and loot as well as the use of movable objects. Splitpaw is apparently the leader of a "group of secretive gnolls." If there's anything I hate more than a gnoll, it's a secretive gnoll.

It's worth noting that the expansion will not only have raid and solo content but will also have group content. This should go without saying but some forum members were concerned about a quote in the
Gamespot preview I linked earlier. Scott Hartsman clarified in this thread.

Come to Gaze
has a first hand E3 report up. He was unimpressed with Vanguard.

Finally, some more glamour shots of the SOE booth can be found here and here.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Carnivale

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Okay, I've been reading on all the cool blogs about this Carnival of Gamers thing.

Personally, carnivals remind me of scary clowns and paying dollar after dollar in an attempt to win a goldfish in a ziplock bag which promptly died. Mommy, why is the goldfish sleeping? Why? Why? Oops, sorry...

Anyway, this carnival is a place for gaming blogs to submit links and all get together and dance or something like that. Now, Foton says it's a "showcase of the best and brightest in game blog posts" so that leaves me out right there. But on the off chance that there's a second rate Carnival of Dullards coming to town I figured I would submit a link.

So, to completely copy N3rfed, I'm asking you to pick which of my recent (and by recent I mean since I started) posts you like best.

Personally, my favorite two posts are either
this one or this one. But then I remember that Krones wrote those on Pitfalls and I didn't so I guess I can't submit them. Yeah, unfortunately it has to be one of mine.

So please contribute to this blogger back-slapping fiesta and pick a favorite post!

Friday Humor: Quest for a Laugh

Well, I've been too busy reading E3 news this week to dig up any real humor, so you're going to have to make do with something unintentionally funny.

Our target -
The Quest for Antonia.

Yes, I'm aware I've
covered this before. But, ah, now the official site, much like a Death Star, is fully operational!

First off, what exactly is our noble Queen doing with the absurd hand gestures in the repeating video
on the main page? Swatting a fly, having a seizure, or tripping out on "moonflowers?"

But what I really want to focus on are the contestants. Or rather, the wondrous things they have to say about becoming the Queen of Qey. You can
click here to view the finalists but you have to sign in with a Station ID to vote, see the larger pictures and read why they want to be the real life version of Antonia.

So, let's take a gander at the gems coming from the mouths of Smed's stable of lovelies (remember none of the spelling/grammar mistakes are mine - I'm quoting):

This
demure girl informs us "I was Playmate of the Year 2004..." Well, I hear Queen Antonia also had a history of porn in her college days so this is a good match.

This
heroine says, "Beacuse what women would not want to become a Heroine. you always see men being the heros in this workd today, why not be a real life heroine and show the worls that women are just as powerful as any hero can be." Yes, and women can use spellcheck just like men I hear.

This
woman (who also quotes Bob Dylan) relates that, "I want to be the manifestation of Antonia, because she is the persona of me. " Ah, I see. Wait, no I don't.

This
multi-talented lady tells us, "I think I have the sex appeal and class to pull it off. I not only model, but act, so I believe I could take on the persona of the character. " Wow, what can't she do? Oh yeah, the class thing. Guessing that was a bit of a stretch...

This
modest woman humbly informs us that "We both have exquisite beauty..." Don't be so insecure!

This
contestant lets us know that, "I believe that i have good bone structure on my face as Antonia."

This
woman gives us a version of the ever-popular world peace answer, "I truly love traveling to other countries to do humanitarian work (I will be in Kyrgyzstan in July She has a natural gift to inspire her people..." Say hello to this contestant if you're in Kyrgyzstan in July!

This
talkative lady says, "I'm going to Massage Therapy school next quarter, I'm not a stripper, I don't do drugs, I'm not married and I don't have children." Uh, congratulations?

"Blade" fills us in, "I had never herd about this exciting competition up until today! One my friend sent me the link and said this is so you!! And it actually really flls like it's a pretty good match!! ;) My name is Anna, but alot of people call me "Blade" from being one of the Swedish gladiators in the TV-show with the same name!" A lot of people call me "Blade" as well but that's because I'm half-vampire.

I hope
this woman is being funny: "Thank you for your time and consideration and oh i also want world peace .=) " I hope.

This contestant says, "I would like to be Antonia so i can know what it might feel to have super powers." Umm, I don't think you actually get super powers if you win.

Right now the playmate is winning, which is just sad. Seriously.

There are a few contestants who claim to actually play EQII. I gave the ones I believed a few extra points in the voting.


Visit the site yourself and let me know what you think.

Lights, Camera, Desert!

Well, a really long video (around seven minutes) of the Desert of Flames expansion is up over at Gamespot. It's worth a watch - fairly entertaining and surprisingly funny at points. It's hard to tell much about gameplay from videos such as this of course.

The climbing feature looked really good, though I still find it hard to get too excited about that. There is a representation of the battle arena and people transforming into arena champions.

I wouldn't get too over enthused about all the cool looking flying carpets. I believe the flying carpets will just be the griffons of this zone. It is a fantastic idea but remember how cool the griffons seemed the first time you used them? Remember how cool they seemed the three hundred and forty-second time you used then? Like I said though, still a fantastic idea.

Based on everything I've heard about the expansion, I'm looking forward to it. The problem is I wonder how long I am going to be doing so. September is a long way away. Now, don't get me wrong, I think there is a good deal of high level content in this game. I'm still in the midst of it. But enough to keep people interested for more than three months? Will the Splitpaw adventure pack help? Only time will tell...


Edit: Blackguard has an E3 report up on the forums. Also Brenlo posted some photos of Blackguard and Gallenite at E3.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

EQ2 E3 2

Well, SOE has apparently decided the E3 media coverage is not enough. So they are now reduced to interviewing themselves. E3 interviews with Chris Cao, Moorgard and Scott Hartsman are up on the EQII Players news page. No great revelations but an enjoyable read. But just who is the mysterious interviewer asking the questions? An intern? Another dev? Smed himself?

Also, that
demo video over at EQII Vault is working now. It's hard to get a real feel for gameplay changes from the video but it does show off the two dragons they have been hyping.

EQII Vault has some very
nice pictures of the E3 floor which show the SOE booth (medieval look), booth girl (sorry but whoever the other person is in the picture is actually better looking), and banner (pretty nice). Wow, someone is even actually playing Planetside! Oh wait, he's an SOE employee. I enjoyed these pictures - they give the feeling of being at E3 without the crowds and lack of air conditioning.

Other MMO news:

Kotaku has a look at D&D Online. Pretty cool idea: they were giving away beta slots to groups who could beat the demo dungeon. I'm still not sold on the puzzle aspect.

Joystiq reports on Tabula Rasa the MMO with shooter and rpg elements.

N3rfed has the links to the Vanguard news.

I will edit this post later if I see anything else of interest before I log onto EQII for a DFC run.

EQ2 E3

As E3 rages on I have some EQII links to share:

First up is a report on the expansion by Gamespot. What's interesting is the news that the PvP in the expansion will feature "alternate game modes like capture the flag, hold the line, and seek and destroy... and SOE hints at some kind of custom game mode creation as well." Nice. They also mention that the creatures you can use in the Arena will drop from named mobs and have the properties of said mobs. The "arena champions" you have the option to use (yes you can also play as yourself too) will have special abilities like "a speedy goblin that will apparently be good in CTF games." All in all, if this is implemented well it could be a lot of fun.

Next, we have some screenshots, take your pick of EQ2 Warcry or Gamespy. They look pretty nice. I like the use of strong colors in the desert scenery and the bazaar. Plus you can't go wrong with monkeys (note the flying carpet in the background of that shot). I was hoping to see some striking new armor models but I guess I'll have to wait on that. I'm really hoping new armor models are part of the expansion though.

Moving on, EQ2 Vault is updated to say that they have a demo clip of the expansion available. However, I have been unable to download it. Perhaps you will have better luck.

I enjoyed this real first-hand report from an actual player on the EQII forums. He reports on the SOE booth: "I got a chance to go by the SOE booth, and I was exteremly surprised to see a very large castle like structure with a number of TV monitors on the front showing a loop video of a number of their games (EQ, EQ2, SWG etc). There was a door to a lounge type area in side and folks pretty much weren't allowed in.. /shrug Most of the other MMPORG booths had folks you could talk to right next to their games. We got a chance to chat with folks from NCSoft and Mythic. (Imperitor looks pretty neat)." The poster's impression of the expansion seems positive and he states that the devs say that "the PVP is a hoot to play."

There is another report of the expansion at EQ2 Warcry which states that "Blackguard and Moorgard put on a great presentation."

Moving away from the expansion, EQ2 Stratics reports on EQ2 East which will soon be launched in Korea. What I found interesting is that EQ2 East will include "some quests with themes based on Korean mythology." Sounds like SOE is making that extra effort to try to tap into the tremendous Korean MMO market. Still no news on whether non-EQ2 East players will have the option to use the EQ2 East character models as I discussed previously.

Well, that's all the EQII news I have for now but here are three quick Mythic hits:

They have the license to do a Warhammer fantasy MMO.

There is a video of Imperator. It's actually someone playing and discussing the game not a trailer.

Finally, there is some news on the DAoC expansion front.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

E3 Me

Here are some brief E3 bits related to the MMORPG world:

There is an E3 trailer up for Rome: Gods and Heroes over at Fileplanet. Of course, since it's at Fileplanet you have to sign up, wait, see ads, etc. I really like they way they portray the Roman scenery but beyond that it's hard to really tell much from these trailers. Gods and Heroes is notable for pushing squad based combat elements.

Over at IGN, there is an article concerning the E3 demo of Dungeons & Dragons Online. Nothing really of interest except that it seems xp comes from finishing quests and objectives rather than combat. So, if you can find another way to complete a certain objective you get the same xp. There is also mention of logic puzzles in the dungeons. I'm not sure how this will translate to the MMORPG genre. I do like the idea of taverns as places to lfg and the idea of shared quests.

What's notable in WoW land is the absence of news, specifically the absence of the rumored expansion pack.

Here are some new screenshots at Gamespot for the Lord of the Rings Online. Also at Gamespot is a trailer for City of Villains which I thought was pretty enjoyable.

As for EQII news, there's this IGN article on the expansion pack. Honestly, it's just a rehash of the press release though. It does note that you can fight other players directly as well as fighting each other with the creatures you've collected. That's something I noted previously but there still seems to be some confusion about on the forums.

Joystiq has an in-depth look at the Station Exchange system which Sony is apparently proudly displaying at E3. The article gives kudo's to the interface, saying, "Sony has clearly invested in a streamlined interface. It’s so clean and easy to use that he could have completed the entire operation in under a minute." The article also lists some fees: "Players will pay $1.00 to list coin or items and $10.00 to list characters. Hear that sound? It’s Sony’s cash drawer ringing. When an auction is completed, Sony skims 10% off of the proceeds of the sale before sending money to players’ PayPal accounts." The whole Station Exchange thing still really brings me down but I promised (for my own sanity) that I would lay off commenting on it any more.

Okay enough E3 for me for today, time to play some EQII.

Vanguard Vanguard Vanguard

Well, I've been seeing a lot of Vanguard stuff lately so I thought I'd give you a quick round-up.

I linked yesterday to a Gamespot early look at the E3 demo and IGN has a preview up as well.

But, as written over at N3rfed, "And when you've got a reporter who has obviously done the hard work with his research and makes an early comment such as...

'Instanced zones are a relatively new thing in the world of the MMO.'

...you know you're in for hard-hitting coverage."

Relatively new blog I Pwn3d Your Mom recently took a look at the world and races of Vanguard.

Finally, Krones recently posted an in-depth and entertaining update on Vanguard over at Pitfalls.

As for me, I go back and forth on Vanguard. I think I'll have to really hear how it plays since it is relying more on execution than innovation. So far I like what I have heard. My biggest fear is how their connection with Microsoft will play out. Vanguard has been rumored to be an XBox 360 launch title, although that rumor has been somewhat squished. I do see it coming out on the XBox 360 sooner or later though. And I'm not sure if that's a good thing. Microsoft is really pushing the micro-transactions virtual marketplace of the 360. Will they push that on Vanguard? McQuaid says no. Will Microsoft pressure them to release Vanguard before it is ready if the XBox 360 sales are lagging? And do you really want to play a supposedly hard-core old-school MMORPG with XBox 360 users? Or am I just being prejudiced towards console owners and a horrible person?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

E - What?

Yes, there's some excitement in the air as "industry" types descend on LA for the promise of booth babes, free hot-dogs and game demos at the E3 convention. I was thinking of attempting to write something amusing about E3 but Kevin "Fragmaster" Bowen has saved me the trouble with this article on Something Awful. I highly recommend it - funny stuff. Be sure to check out not only the hilarious pictures and writing but the link to the mp3 of Frags' version of an E3 conversation.

Moorgard also had
something to say about E3, which he is attending, in his (it's not a blog!!!) blog Moorhunter.

Moving from SOE employees to Mythic employees, Lum will be attending and had
this to say.

Now, if you're anything like me, the news you most want to hear from E3 is more news about the EQII expansion and other upcoming MMORPG news. However, at an E3 at which the major focus is the three big next-gen consoles (PS3, XBox 360, and Nintendo Revolution) most of the reports coming out of E3 are understandably console oriented.

If you are interested in how Sony, SOE's parent company is doing, you can check out the specs for the PS3
over at Kotaku. I'm no expert on consoles but it seems to blow the XBox 360 away not only in terms of processing power but with support for up to seven wireless controllers using bluetooth and the ability to use the Blu-ray disc format. It does have a weird looking controller though.

The MMORPG news is currently limited but I expect plenty to reach us a bit later in the week.

For now here is what we know:

SOE will be at E3 in force, showing demos of not only the EQII expansion but of their
upcoming PSP games. Also, Moorgard will be wearing new shoes while Blackguard may or may not have new shoes.

A demo of the upcoming MMORPG Dark and Light
is planned for tomorrow. Dark and Light will have no zones or separate servers - all players will be in the same "world."

NCsoft will be featuring a
varied lineup: Auto Assault (a car battle MMO), Guild Wars (which you probably know about already), Tabula Rasa (a first-person shooter MMO with RPG elements) and City of Villains (the expansion to City of Heroes). NCSoft also recently released this cool new website for City of Villains.

Mythic will be
demonstrating a fully playable version of Imperator. On the Imperator official site, you will also find a webcam which will show the Imperator E3 booth live starting tomorrow. If that's not cool enough, the Mythic crew will be posting E3 photos on this photoblog. Nice job Mythic.

If Brad McQuaid has recovered from his attack of logorrhea, Sigil (under the Microsoft umbrella) will be showing Vanguard.

As for non-MMORPG games I will personally be following, I would have to say Civ IV and Heroes of Might and Magic V spark my interest. How about you?

I will be sure to update with more MMORPG-centric news as it arises.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Good Worlds

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Well, my face lit up when I saw the SOE Worlds magazine (you can read my look at the preview issue here) in my mail box. Mostly out of malevolent glee I must admit - as much as I love playing EQII it's fun to poke holes in SOE's marketing attempts.

I sat down with a bunch of yellow stickies ready to notate the humorous or badly written items so I could comment on then. But then, something extraordinary happened. After around page 10 or so, my yellow stickies were forgotten. SOE was surprising me. This magazine is actually good. Yes, good.

Now, I'm not saying you should rush out and sign up for Station Pass. But if you get it for free it's worth reading and an enjoyable way to pass a half hour. There were no great revelations or gameplay insights (although I did quote the useful example of the guild status/patron formula to someone later that night in-game). But, it is an enjoyable read.

The article on the expansion was quite intriguing and caused me to look forward to it even more. The zones sound fun, the lore is good and the graphics look nice. One thing that I question is that they are really emphasizing factions in this expansion (there are different factions in the city of Maj'Dul - merchants, warriors, thieves and even, gasp, lawyers). I hope they implement this better than in the regular game because faction standing has had zero impact on my character through 48 levels. I'm not saying it won't work in the expansion, I just hope it has a bigger factor on gameplay.

The PvP section focuses solely on the Pokemon aspect (training arena creatures to fight for you). It actually sounds quite entertaining - you can trade characters you've leveled up thus making some extra gold as an "arena trainer." However, if you read this article you might think that you can only fight in the arena with these creatures and not as yourself. However, that's not true: "You can choose to fight as yourself or take on the form of one of many creatures and fight as it would. Better yet, if you are challenged by a player who is a higher level than you, just take the form of a creature that matches your challenger's level and now you've got a fair fight.... In addition to the vast selection of monsters to choose from, there will be numerous scenarios for players to take part in, such as standard one-on-one competition, massive 'Carnage' free-for-all battles, and 'Relic Wars', just to name a few." That quote is from a Sony
newsletter (sorry some links are down). Thanks to Torran for that quote which I missed.

I'm not going to cover every article but here's a quick rundown. The article on guild status is helpful as I mentioned earlier. The World's Eye View mentions guilds and players by name which is nice for those who enjoy a little fame. The scrying stones article is quite informative (I didn't realize different locations in the same zone could yield a better chance of good results) even if it is largely ignored in-game (hint: have even a slight chance of scrying for really nice rare items and a lot more players will do it). The lore article about Hasten Bootstrutter is kind of fun and well written. The Frogloks article is also informative in terms of lore (sounds like the quest to unlock them centers around CT). The best of the non-EQII articles is actually the one on SOE's PSP game, Untold Legends. It gives a lot of tips and information regarding side quests. Even the article with recipes for real life food was basic but okay.

Like I said, a surprisingly good job. But, I still have some nitpicks that I thought were amusing:

The fact that they printed a letter questioning their objectivity due to the fact that they are an "official" magazine bothers me. The response says that they are here "without a gag order" and have not yet "wanted to print something we weren't allowed to talk about." When I see an article bashing the SWG combat changes or the
Everquest price raise then I'll believe it. I understand this is an official SOE magazine and I have no problem with that. But don't try to pretend you are hard-hitting journalists. Do your jobs without crowing about your objectivity.

The picture of FanFaire is scary and uninviting. Seriously, they could have used a much more appealing shot there.

The article on the Everquest book, "Rogue's Hour," troubles me because they interview R.A. Salvatore, who "presents" the book rather than the actual author. Moreover, as I've stated before, it has really bad reviews on Amazon.

This quote under the chart which shows the percentage of players who play each race (yeah, Dark Elves rule - shocker) is pretty funny: "For the mathematicians out there, the list adds up to 102% due to rounding error, not because we can't add." Guys, there are ways to incorporate rounding error into charts like this (try decimals for one) and there are also better way to phrase your inability to do so.

I could do without Brenlo's defense of the EQ server mergers.

Oh, and if you are a PlanetSide subscriber you only get one article. What's worse, the article covers a cool sounding PvE concept that did not make it into the game. Wow, you want to torture the PlanetSide subscribers some more? You give them one article and it's about things they can't have.

But, these are just nitpicks. All in all a worthy effort with above average writing. Oh, one more thing.
Allakhazam is featured in the fansite spotlight section. A worthy choice, they've been around a while and do good work, even if their quest database for EQII doesn't measure up to some other more commercial sites. But just a suggestion, why not feature a site that has a ton of humorous and insightful comment and is completely without ads or membership fees. Just off the top of my head, hmmm, I don't know - here's a suggestion.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Transfer Me

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Yes, character transfer service is now available for EQII players. If you have the funds that is.

At a cost of $50 for changing a character to another server and $50 for changing a character to another account ($100 if you do both), you don't want to be hopping from server to server like a drunken froglok.

Now, this seems expensive to me, but it's no surprise as EQ character transfer services are rather pricy as well. So, I'm sure the debate has been raised before but it is a valid one. I can't imagine that there isn't a relatively simple system in place to handle character transfers, but I'm sure SOE would say it brings about customer service complaints and issues which eat into profitability.

Still, forum poster Tollian in
this thread on the official forums brings up an old quote from Smed, who says, "Would you believe we've generated over $1 million in revenue simply from moving characters?" I googled this quote and it seems to come from this Business 2.0 article. However, only the first page is free so I wasn't able to verify the quote. (I'll do a lot of things for my readers, but subscribing to Business 2.0 isn't one of them.)

In any case, the article is a fun bit of nostalgia discussing Smed as he "strolls around observing his fellow citizens." It even includes a quote from Brad McQuaid saying that Star Wars Galaxies "will blow the market open like a supernova." On a related topic, if you are a Brad McQuaid fan, you might want to read the quite lengthy discussion of SOE Brad recently launched into on the Vanguard forums (via Pitfalls). He seems to like EQII.

But, back to the transfer service, it's one of those services that, when you really need it, you're glad it's available, regardless of price. Here's a suggestion for more easy money - a fee to change your character's last name. I'm sure quite a few people would pay for this. Did SOE ever offer this service in EQ? I was careful about mine but I'm betting some people screwed up. I'm sure this would cut down on SOE's precious customer service time as well.

Also worthy of note is that it doesn't look like the majority of your EQII Players stats will transfer with you. That's rather poor. The whole EQII Players stats service could be a lot better and more functional in my opinion but that's another story.

The funniest thing for me from the transfer service post is this quote: "The EverQuest II community is growing on a daily basis." Is that in some kind of bizzaro SOE alternate universe in which they are the
market leader? Well, I don't know what the basis of this claim is and it's not what I've been hearing but as a player I hope it's true.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday Humor: Pirates, Fantasies, The Best Laid Plans

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I am probably the last gaming blog on all the "internets" to post this link but it's really hilarious so I'm jumping on the bandwagon. It's a bunch of WOW players talking to a GM in pirate-speak. So, yarr, here it be, lubbers. It really is funny.

To make up for my lateness with this one, here's a link to a McSweeney's article entitled "
Pirate Riddles for Sophisticates."

Moving from pirates to, well, porn, up next is the (probably not safe for work) website called
Geek Fantasies. This has to be a parody or an elaborate joke. On the site you will find videos of scantily clad women fulfilling such geek fantasies as playing D&D, quoting Monty Python and opening a "mint condition" Optimus Prime toy. There is no actual nudity thus far though there sure is cheesy 70's style music. The fact that there is no member page is what leads me to believe this is intended to be humorous. Plus the fact that it's so damn funny.

By the way ladies, there is no saving throw for magic missile (though I guess there is spell resistance). Ah, well.

Friday Humor bonus: A friend just alerted me to a WOW video which, like Geek Fantasies, seems too funny not to be staged. But I am no WOW expert - let me know what you think.

Try downloading the video:
here or here. It starts off slow so be patient. Ah, just noticed that AFK Gamer posted about this video yesterday. I'm a bit behind the times, maties.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Let the Music Play

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Just a few days ago I wrote, "The new voice emotes will give me more of a reason to play with the game sound down and Winamp sound up." But perhaps I will no longer have a need to lag myself by running extra progams.

Yes,
Live Update 9 (part of which is currently on Test) will allow you to listen to custom music while playing EQII. I know some people will say this feature should have been available from day one but I'm just glad it's on the way.

I don't want to beat up on the people who created the original EQII music. It's good. I remember being impressed the first time I heard the drums in Blackburrow and the soaring tunes of Antonica. It just gets repetitive. Especially for those of us who play a great deal, custom music will be a welcome change. An ingame mp3 player would be great, but this system will satisfy me for now.

I know some people listen to music on their iPods or PSP's while playing, but then you lose out on other game sounds.

If you're looking for some ideas on what music to listen to during an EQII session you can check out
this thread from the official forums.

Forum member Jowana did put together a well received music pack based on Lineage II music but
due to copyright issues it was removed from the official forums. However, it does appear to be available elsewhere. (edit: Sorry, the actual download link appears to be down).

Edit: While we're on a musical note, Van Hemlock has a review of the online EQ2 radio show up on his site.

I personally like to listen to orchestral or new age type music when playing, with some occasional indy rock mixed it.

As for how you get your music that's a bit beyond my ken. I will mention that downloading songs from Kazaa is both illegal and a good way to get a lot of viruses. Yahoo recently unveiled a
music rental service to compete with Napster's. It is reasonably priced at $4.99 to $6.99 a month (based on whether you buy a monthly or annual subscription). More info here. There's also iTunes if you like to own your music and don't mind spending some cash. If you like to live on the edge, you can try AllOfMP3, a Russian based site which offers outrageously cheap downloads (in the neighborhood of pennies per song). But the legality of this site is very questionable so I can't really reccommend it. Of course, there are plenty of free programs available that will let you burn your existing CD collection into mp3 files.

Speaking of music, if you haven't yet seen
this a capella rendition of Nintendo themes which has been floating around now is your chance to check it out.

Another feature of the next Live Update which I will mention briefly is the introduction of solo guild writs for levels 45 and up. Hopefully this will turn out to be a useful way to pass the time (in addition to tradeskilling or harvesting) while waiting for guild groups to assemble.

There is also this news from the Update notes: "It no longer rains underwater."

There's a joke to be made there I'm sure but you're on your own. I have to go organize my music collection.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

No Mourning for Mourning

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Way back when I blasted Mourning for threatening to sue my favorite website.

So, it's nice to see that after a development phase filled with
unending drama Mourning has gone "live" in disastrous fashion.

They are known for utilizing the concept of perma-death in their game but what we're seeing here is the perma-death of the game itself.

It's apparently so much fun that they already wiped the forums. Luckily, Flashman over at
Game Memes has a nice screen capture in which one of the moderators tells people to "run from the game." That's always a good sign.

There are also some deleted posts from the Mourning forums at
this link. My favorite quote from Egomancer is "And yes, you will pay to play a game that still should be in an alpha/beta stage. It should never get to this but this was our limit of competence..." Oh wow, that's great. Wouldn't want you to overreach your limit of competence. To be fair I don't know for sure if that's a valid quote as it is not in the official forums (which they wiped).

In the
comments section over at Kill Ten Rats, Krones notes that the price has gone from $30 preorder to $20 now. Another encouraging item. In the same comments section Azeroth notes that they have actually censored the word "fraud" on the Mourning forums. Wonderful.

Here's a
thread at MMORPG.COM taking bets on how long it takes to Mourning shuts down. Here's another thread with a 1/10 review. Yes, 1 is the lowest.

But read the
Mourning forums (what's left of them) and make your own decision. Thrill to the tales of people who never got access to the game they paid for. Wonder in awe at the tales of the quest, crafting and fame system not being implemented. And how massive is it? How does 30 people sound?

Here's a fun quote from Egomancer I found in the official forums "1. we decided to offer this 19.95$ price for the serial because the users that preodered complained that the game does not worth a full 40$-50$ price. So we made it. Now the same people are complaining that we dropped the prices. Note that the people that preordered are the only ones that have the game CD. Consder it a collecion object. And please decide what do you want? Full price or not" (spelling and grammar mistakes his not mine)

Wow, these guys really seem to have their act together! Sign me up! And if anyone wants to sell me one of those collector's item game CD's the sky is the limit!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Lore in the Desert

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Yes, I know E3 didn't even start yet but I already have some Desert of Flames news for you.

Scott Hartsman, Senior EQII Producer was kind enough to e-mail me regarding the lore behind the expansion pack's PvP system.

"Maj`Dul (and the surrounding area in DoF) is what happens to the Desert of Ro when you leave the Dervish Cutthroats unchecked for five hundred years, as they attempt to form their own take on a "civilized" society.

Given their past, the methods by which the inhabiting factions pass laws invariably took a turn toward the violent, as they've evolved a system where disputes and challenges over matters of law are settled not by lengthy debate, but rather with immediate conflicts by proxy."

Who can blame those Dervish Cutthroats? If you've ever sat through a long-winded political debate on C-Span or watched a tiresome legal argument on Court TV you may have wished such matters were instead decided by bloody combat or at least by
an inflatable sumo wrestling match.

When I first read about the Arena combat in the press release I thought of the gladiators of ancient Rome. But, such fights were held as mere spectacles for entertainment, rather than to settle legal disputes. No, the Expansion Pack PvP is more akin to the Nordic Holmgang.

The Holmgang was a way for fierce Norsemen to settle property disputes and other legal matters. Literally meaning "to travel to a small island," a fight was held on a piece of cloth or hide. Much like the mention of "proxies" in Scott's quote, a person who was clearly not a warrior was permitted to have a friend who was skilled in the arts of combat stand for him.

Duels, by sword or later by pistol, were a more modern version of the Holmgang. For a time, such duels were even known as "judicial combat," because it was widely believed that God would ensure the person in the right emerged victorious.

I appreciate that SOE took the time to come up with some fairly intriguing lore rather than simply saying, "Here's an Arena, fight in it!" I look forward to seeing what other "innovations" the Dervish Cutthroats came up with during their 500 years of growth in the desert.

Scott also stated that there would be group PvP, which I is why I edited my earlier post. I know some people I play with were really hoping for this so I am happy to hear it.

EQII Expansion: Desert of Pokemon

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Again, I know I'm a little late on this one. But, last week SOE announced the upcoming expansion, Desert of Flames, and the upcoming adventure pack, the Splitpaw Saga. You can read the press release here.

Here is the PvP quote: "Players of all classes can collect new creatures and pit them against each other in special arenas in the newly discovered city of Maj’Dul. Rather than watching the battle from the sidelines, players become the champion, slinging spells and wielding weapons in a variety of combat scenarios. Player characters can also take their chances against these fearsome creatures, or even challenge other players in battles for fame and glory."

Very confusing. Is this going to be Neopets or Pokemon? Do we
gotta ' catch em all? Hold on, I have to consult my Pokedex, I mean EQdex. Snorlax, I mean Smedlax, I choose you! Cheap marketing ploys activate!

But then they say you can fight with your regular character, though I have a feeling it will be something odd only because they have been so enigmatic about the whole thing. It doesn't seem like there will be group PvP which is too bad. Edit: I believe I was incorrect in my initial assumption and group PvP will be included. This should be a lot of fun as I have a lot of confidence in my usual group of compatriots and I am really looking forward to testing our mettle against others. I actually don't mind a little Pokemon action either, I just think it's odd.

The desert setting for the expansion should be nice. Yes, it does sound like
Vanguard's Qualia but it's just a natural extension of the fantasy setting. The Splitpaw setting of gnolls in caves is less appealing.

The new voice emotes will give me more of a reason to play with the game sound down and Winamp sound up.

The guild vaults will be nice but I really hope guild housing is also included as this is one of the most common complaints I hear.

I like the idea of scalability of mob levels mentioned in the Splitpaw section - COH has scalable instanced zones and it works great. Am I wrong to think all instanced dungeons should have this feature? If anyone knows of any negatives feel free to set me straight. I mean if they are going to be instanced anyway - why not have them scale to your party?

I really don't get the big focus on climbing up walls and moving crates. It's fine I guess, but this isn't Tomb Raider. I haven't noticed anyone gushing about the breakable walls they implemented in the Vampire pack. And I can only imagine the pathing problems this will create for mobs.

The expansion will move the level cap to 60, a much needed boost, as the level 50's (of which I am nearly one) are getting impatient. But I fear it won't be long before people are stuck at 60 for a good amount of time.

All in all, I think the expansion is timely and fairly priced. The adventure pack sounds good if you get it for free with Station Pass, but they did raise the non-Station Pass price a few dollars to $7.99.

In any event I am looking forward to hearing more news and bringing it to you when I do. I expect some reports will soon emanate from the cloud of champagne and cocaine that surrounds E3 so I'll be watching carefully.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Quest for Respectability

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Before I went on vacation, I had some articles prewritten for all you faithful readers, but I was nervous. What if SOE decided to pull another Station Exchange, /pizza or some other ridiculous stunt? I decided to call Smed up on my imaginary-mind-phone (patent pending):

"Hello, there," Imaginary Smed answered. "I'm just bathing in a tub filled with gold pieces - they have my face imprinted on my them!"

"That's nice," I said. "Listen, I need a favor. I'm going to be away for a week so I need you to not do anything that will bring ridicule to SOE and alienate the people who actually like playing EQII."

"Hehe," he giggled. "No promises. Excuse me a second - I said dress up like a high elf not a half elf damn it! Sorry what where you saying?"

"Now come on, Smed," I begged. "You are the '
market leader' (heh) after all - can't you just focus on the game for a week?"

He chortled and hung up. Sigh.

And so, stopping in to check my e-mail at an internet cafe last week, I spotted a bunch of hardcore gamers laughing at a website. I cringed, hearing something about Sony, World of Warcraft and desperation. And what burned across my innocent retinas:

THE QUEST FOR ANTONIA

Great.

Now, since I'm really late with this you might want to check out the nice posts already written on
Pitfalls or N3rfed which were more timely and quite funny.

Still here? Okay I have a few things to say.

Now, I know SOE is getting pounded by WOW. In fact, when I was there, I noticed WOW selling like absolute hotcakes in Ireland. It was the number one selling PC game in both stores I popped into and EQII was nowhere to be found. I did my part for SOE by moving a few EQII boxes into the WOW section. Anyway, I understand why they are pulling out the PR stunts. But is this really going to attract a lot of long-term players?

The first thing that struck me is that this is obviously a sex sells technique. That's fine but what's weird is that EQII is a somewhat un-sexy game. The women I speak to in-game have long complained to me about the unflattering style of clothing on the women characters. If you've seen the tube pants on the mages you'll know what I mean. This
forums post discusses very briefly what I'm talking about.

Heather Graham does the voice for Queen Antonia so it's going to be a tough sell to get me to picture someone else. I alway think of her as Queen Heather actually.

I think if they wanted to really make this a fun contest they should have limited it to people who actually play EQII. As I've
said before, there are attractive people who play this game. It also would have been nice if they held the contest at FanFaire or some other EQII event. (Speaking of which - is anyone going to FanFaire? I'm still considering it. E-mail me if you are.)

This contest is in conjunction with Stuff magazine which has always cracked me up. Most of the articles and pictures are all about being a "red-blooded" macho guy. See for example their wordy article entitled "
Little Black Book." But then you look at the fashion section and you see clothes no macho guy would ever wear. Take a look for yourself. I've always thought this was a funny dichotomy.

Now, no offence, but the people that usually enter contests like this are amateur strippers who have implants in their implants. Is this the kind of Everquest world we want
baby Firiona to grow up in? I mean what's next - SOE co-branding with a porn site to feature hot hot forbidden wood elf on dark elf action? Or maybe Station Exchange X - a system which allows cybering for gold under the watchful eye of SOE for a small commission on each transaction? Paging Ceciliantas.

The prizes are a modeling contract with SOE, a pictorial in Stuff, a subscription to Stuff (woohoo) and an EQII Collector's Edition game. Well, I'm sure the winner will be so excited about getting her hands on that greatest of prizes - a Collector's Edition Everquest II game!

"You just won the Quest for Antonia! Are you going to go out and party and go wild in Vegas to celebrate?"

"No way, I need to install this Collector's Edition Game. I get the j-boots and baby dragon pet!"

The rules state that the winner will be decided based on:

"0-55 points: natural likeness to the fictional game character Antonia Bayle from EverQuest II.

0-45 points: "star power" including spokesperson ability and charisma."

Wouldn't it be cool if they threw in 0-25 points based on ability to kite mobs or hold aggro? I wonder if "star power" includes the willingness to give lap dances to SOE employees.

Hmm, when they are deciding the natural likeness portion, can they use the picture of Queen Antonia at the top of my post (taken by official forums member Itazzy during the Plague)? I'm sure most of the contestants have a definite familiarity with that maneuver already.

All that said, it's just a PR gimmick and it should be kind of fun to follow. I just wish SOE didn't always seem so desperate. If I was in charge of their marketing strategy, I would seek to portray EQII as the more complex, mature game you graduate to after playing WOW (even if that's not true). I would focus on appealing to people interested in actual gameplay. I would hope this would draw in the ex-WOW players who wanted a serious game experience.

Then I would hold a huge contest to see who could dress their cat up to look the most like Lucan D'Lere.

Edit: Wondering how the "Quest" is turning out? See here.