Krones over at Pitfalls (plaguelands.com) is shaping up to be one of the most vital voices among those who play MMOGs and complain about them. While there’s been any number of comments about Sony Online’s new exchange system, I’m hereby putting them all on notice. Outdo this.
Krones takes particular aim at SOE’s assertions that there’s a “$200 million after-market” for the trading of in-game items and characters for real-life money, and also that EQ and EQ2 players would obviously not object to the service being adminstered by the same people who make the game (as opposed to agencies like IGE or their subsidiary PlayerAuctions, who don’t run the games but will gladly leech the idiot players for all they’re worth.)
In his article, Krones points out that EQ2 Producer Scott Hartsman couldn’t answer where the $200 million figure came from, SOE’s in-game questionnaire on the subject is busted. Newly-appointed EQ community manager Brenlo is totally sidestepping any attempt to argue the morality of the situation, while EQ2 CM Moorgard, hired straight from fansite land, is at least willing to acknowledge that some players might think the whole deal is shady. He even got comments from IGE’s own Jon Yantis about how doomed EQ2 is.
Long read, but worth it.
I probably ate my last Subway sandwich yesterday. I say probably, because I’m caught up in the sort of silly resolution that most people reserve for killing pedophiles and children’s show characters. It’ll pass, much like the sandwich did this morning.
For as long as I’ve been aware of Subway, one of the big reasons to go was the Subway Club Cards. Buy a sandwich, and get a stamp or two. Get eight stamps, and get a free six-inch sandwich with purchase of a nasty battery-acid soda drink. I’d used a full card two weeks prior, so I picked up a new card. The girl behind the counter waited until I’d paid for my order to point to the wall where the stamp dispenser used to be, and declare that they “don’t do stamps anymore.” Apparently this promotion ended April 16, and if I’d bothered to read the fine print on the cards themselves, I’d know this.
Why then, I wondered aloud, was there a stack of blank Subway Club cards a quarter-inch high on the counter?
Oh, she and her management drone co-worker who had more chin than forehead, that’s for people who haven’t finished with the “tickets.” Tickets I took as slang for “stamps,” but I wasn’t going to leave these people with the idea that I wanted to have a conversation with them. Apparently there are people out there in the world with undeclared Subway stamps but haven’t put them on cards, so those cards are still needed.
Today I’m enjoying a cheeseburger and side of onion rings from a place called Billy Bob’s Burgers. It got featured in the newspaper as a local business. They buy their ground beef in bulk from local butchers and make their own patties. They gave me my order in a plain brown paper bag with “CB” and “OR” written on it with a Sharpie. The burger came wrapped in semi-transparent wax paper.
Finally picked this up last night, long after everyone else had already got it, I guess. Reminds me a lot of Battlefield Vietnam insofar as it’s a very effective anti-war war game. War is hell, and this isn’t much fun.
It’s a first-person shooter, but you can’t play it like a regular FPS — you’re a squad leader, so you have to order your fire teams to provide suppressive fire to make the Nazi bastards stop shooting at you. Lots of yelling in two languages, very responsive environment and weapons that frustrate the living crap out of you. Unfortunately, there’s no real AI to speak of, so it’s just one predictable script after another.
I knew going in that they were going for gritty realism, and hey, the VFW endorsed this game. But just like so many old soldiers didn’t want to see movies like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, they’re not likely to want to take up video games just for a reminder of what Real War [tm] was like.
I dunno, I might finish it, or I might not. Maybe I’ll get in a game with Fragdolls, who are more or less paid to enjoy it.
Just saw these guys on MTV. As in, I rolled out of bed 30 minutes ago, and MTV was actually playing a video, so that was novel enough to give it a watch.
Southern hip-hop backed by punk rock. And their first single, “Suburb Thuggin,” is about annoying wigger assholes.
OK, it’s not that great a song, but damn that chorus is catchy.
Tiberius announced what I’d hoped he would, sometime — Ultima V: Lazarus will not be released next month as planned. “Hoped” is probably a better word than “planned,” but anyway. It’s a game project, and games are late. In particular, games are late when they’re put together by volunteer labor.
In more particular, volunteer labor is needed to help finish up the dialogue portion of development — which is sort of my department, but I’m not the only one. Tiberius found it necessary to point out that Lazarus will have “over 270″ NPCs — which is roughly twice as many as the original game, to say nothing of the writing standards in place for them.
I’m in this for the long haul, which hopefully won’t be much longer. But if anyone wants to lend a hand with the last bunch of NPCs, send Tiberius e-mail. Ask me questions if you want, too.
Psychonauts is the first game by Tim Schafer since he started his own studio and left LucasArts. Majesco is starting to look really smart among publishers these days, for backing what can rightly be called an old-school adventure game packaged as a new-school platform hero adventure.
Edit: Here’s an amusing interview with Majesco CEO Carl Yankowski trying to explain (rather well) his business and plug his products to talking-head business-TV wonks that have no idea about games.
“I heard you explain Advent Rising as a love-story shooting game (laughter) … y’know, some would ask, uh… OK, you were a guy who ran a company making all these useful devices for people and now you’re running a company that’s corrupting the youth of America.” Ha ha, jerk.
Continue reading Psychonauts demo…
But that’s not the point. As Ubiq admitted, this is an issue that’s gone round and round in circles among MMOG thinkers for years. Wasn’t long ago that MMOG projects were touting it as a draw to the game — the first incarnation of Middle Earth Online was going to have it, as was Dark Zion, which nobody should be forced to recall. Now permanent character death has taken up residence with realistic environmental consequence and fetapults and the Pizza Kitchen among other topics that some people might bring up at parties if they aren’t expecting to get laid.
Sure seems like everything worth saying about MMOGs has been said, which probably means that isn’t true, and that it’s just time for some other wonk to think up something new to talk about. Lum’s Other Half might have found it in the-player-is-not-an-avatar idea, though that’s one that’s also been around for a while, which probably means it’ll die on the vine.
Unless, of course, someone wants to make it part of a game. Then it might really be worth talking about, instead of linking to what other people are writing as if it makes what I’m writing any more relevant.
So it seems Ashen Temper is throwing out the pretense of his personal site being personal, and opening it up to other random ranters, some of whose nicks I recognize from old-old Shadowbane days. This is a model that the WTFMen have used for a while, but it seems Dr. Twister got going, and after a month, ran out of easy topics to blab about.
Not that long ago, I had hoped to get paid for writing on the Web — not for this site, certainly, but when ad banners and skyscrapers were new and wonderful things, it all seemed plausible. Now in the age of blogs, however, setups like Gawker and Weblogs Inc. are paying writers, now called “bloggers,” to encapsulate their thoughts and cultivate an audience, then get paid for that.
Online Journalism Review has an article about this, and how some online magazines like Salon are paying flat rates and not making their writers be concerned with an audience (seems like every other article about Salon is about them flirting with bankruptcy, though), while others, like About.com are sticking to a pay-by-view systems to “encourage” writers to always be concerned with the size of their audiences.
This site has no traffic system to speak of, and for that I am glad. Same reason I didn’t want to deal with having my own message board (which like the blog software, someone else would have to set up and maintain for me) — I just don’t want to deal with it. It’s liberating to have at least one outlet in my life that I want to plug into, that isn’t about money.
Some money would be nice, though.
Newsarama has a preview of the new “professionally” produced City of Heroes comic book. Professionally, as in it’s written, drawn and published by people who write, draw and publish other comic books for a living. (Well, OK, Mark Waid writes other comics for a living, and David Nakayama won a contest to get the pencils gig. But Top Cow and Image are professionals, dammit.)
“Good guys always win in the end. Endings are happy. We always live to fight again.”
An anonymous one, that people don’t know is by me. Or I should keep a diary that no one else can read, or start scribbling on little pieces of paper that I can then run through a shredder.
A bunch of stuff is happening to and around me, all at once. While I’m trying to suspend expectation and to not take the mess so seriously, the stuff I’d like to talk about here would be Very Awkward, certainly jeopardizing any chance for a good resolution to the mess I’m in.
It’s just making me feel like a bigger loser than I normally do. I’m hoping this wasn’t anyone else’s intention.