Web Log 4/23 — Too Much News edition

Wednesday? Seriously? All these MMO companies, at the same time, said, we’re gonna have some big news, and it’s gonna come out on a Wednesday?

What’d I do to them? Last night, I was going to do a new one panel comic, and then sit down and game for awhile. That little test I linked to yesterday that where they wanted to know how MMOs were destroying your life? I wanted to pencil in, want time to play MORE.

I was logging in just to change the privs on my house so my interior decorator, Brightknife (the Arasai being confused by Ettie in my last one panel comic) could do what she needed to do in Dina’s home… when I got asked to a VP raid. But my night’s plans had already been shattered by the Free Realms NDA dropping, and then, just before bed, KingsIsle put Wizard 101 player housing live on their test servers, now I see that Acclaim has officially launched The Chronicles of Spellborn in the non-central European world.

So, seriously. On a Wednesday?

Along with the official launch, Acclaim has given every current Spellborn subscriber two free weeks, and has introduced industry standard, credit card billing instead of the confusingly arcane subscription via Acclaim Coins. At $14.99/month, it’s on par with other similar games, and there are discounts for subscribing for three or six months at once.

The endless speculation over the new EverQuest server type will soon come to an end, and it looks like the 51/50 server is the current favorite. That’s the one where new characters start off at level 51 with 50 AAs. This news hasn’t come without a little bit of controversy.

On the EverQuest 2 side of Norrath, Live Update 52 news begins to trickle. First on the feature list: Player writable books. I wasn’t all that thrilled, personally, but Stargrace had some really cool suggestions for the new books, and Copra suggested a Norrath-wide scavenger hunt with books as clues.

Copra, by the way, is slowly realizing that the achievements in Achiever games are empty fun as he reconsiders the World of Warcraft end game. Cheer up. We all eventually move on from achiever-based gameplay.

Green Armadillo of Player vs Developer wonders if the time constraints of the final boss in WoW’s new end-game dungeon are just a blatant attempt by Blizzard to keep people playing longer. Back in EverQuest’s Planes of Power, the boss of the Plane of Water, Coirnav, would despawn for three days — for everyone on the server — if you didn’t beat him in 14 minutes. Underwater. And by beat him, I mean beat three mini bosses, and a LOT OF TRASH, and him himself :) Also, we had to swim uphill both ways. Now if WoW didn’t instance Uldaur so that a failure on Algalon meant nobody on the entire server could try him again for a week, THEN… well, then it would be as challenging as old EverQuest. Ahem.

Responding to people who grip that Darkfall is nothing more than a “paid beta”, Syncaine writes that ALL MMOs are paid betas, and in a state of continual flux as they expand, or they are stagnant and dying. Greg Dean of Real Life Comics offers up his own views on Darkfall.

SOE announced their SOE Player of the Year contest. Even though the contest bars non-US citizens, I’m going to have to ignore that rule because there really is no other choice for player of the year than Stargrace of MMO Quests. She is a tireless promoter of EverQuest, EverQuest 2 and Vanguard. Her adventures have inspired countless people to subscribe to and play SOE MMOs. She writes about SOE games for Beckett’s MMO Magazine, is in the front at every player or GM event, and a wonderful person besides. Dozens of people would come to the Fan Faire this year just to meet her, if she were to win the contest and be able to attend.

Lastly, Syp of Bio Break has a list of 15 observations he’s made about Lord of the Rings Online since returning to the game. Hey, I used to play that game… back before all these MMOs started spitting news!

Okay, that’s all for today, and guys, get some sleep, okay?

Web Log 4/22 — Earth Day edition

Day 2 of the Wizard 101 Name the Turtles contest! My site stats show that well over a THOUSAND wizards have come to this site to choose a name for the Marleybone turtle.

I think we all know the turtles are going to end up being named Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Master Splinter.

Soon-to-be-shuttered, PvP-centric MMO Shadowbane is Wizard 101’s ancestor in spirit. MMO Gamer has the story of how the Wizard 101 devs went from designing a no-holds-barred, kill-or-be-killed MMO to the kid friendly, brightly colored MMO of wands and wizards we play today.

Undoubtedly swayed by his deep and passionate love for turtles, Caliga of MMO Gamers tried Wizard 101, and came away with “it’s fun and addictive and it makes for a nice distraction from your more serious MMO.”

Razakius wonders why modern MMOs don’t have more social networking features, like Twitter integration, or an open API that would let you make a custom page for your character listing your accomplishments.

Ten Ton Hammer’s lengthy article on the history and impact of beta testing was a boulder thrown into the still waters of the MMO blogarena. New dad Syp at Bio Break has a more cynical take on betas. Moorgard from Mobhunter (and 38 Studios) puts a more positive spin on things with his recent experience with the soon-to-come-to-America MMO Aion, and some further insights into the ups and downs of betas.

Potshot takes the now infamous survey that asks you to detail for researchers exactly to what degree your pathological MMO addiction is ruining your life, and wonders how the questions would sound if they were about work, enjoying life, or wearing funny hats.

Beau at Spouse Aggro looks at how MMOs are catering to disabled players, especially in F2P MMO Mabinogi which has made special efforts to cater to all their players. Fascinating article, and very relevant to me as someone whose poor eyesight is making it impossible for me to do things I used to enjoy, like reading books or comics without having a very bright high contrast monitor displaying the text (which works fine, thankfully!)

You may soon be able to watch yourself be killed, stomped, decapitated, run through, torn apart, burned, diced, shredded, flayed, dismembered and cooked in Age of Conan, now that you can you put YOUR REAL face on your character. The opportunity to see a top heavy, nude woman with the face of a teenage boy? SIGN ME UP!

Spinks at Welcome to Spinksville wonders if any MMO could ever beat WoW at its own game (short answer: no) in 2 games that could be WoW-beaters. She does suggest that Free Realms and Diablo III could give the venerable gaming behemoth a run for its money.

Easy Peasy 1.1, the latest netbook remix of Ubuntu 8.04, was released a couple of days ago. I love my Asus Eee 900. I bought a gaming laptop (which I’m using right now to write this), but it was so heavy, hot and power-hungry that I never actually bring it anywhere. The Eee is what I should have bought to actually bring places, and now that I have it, it goes with my everywhere. The vanilla Ubuntu Linux I use on it isn’t that well-suited to a tiny screen and a trackpad. Easy Peasy is made for small netbooks, and best of all, it’s one of the many totally legit files you can download from The Pirate Bay. Which I did, legit. And much faster than downloading from the developer’s site!

Well, that brings us to the end of another daily web log! Tonight, I’m making a promise to myself to NOT play Free Realms and to play something I can actually WRITE ABOUT.

Web Log 4/21

As near as I can tell, nearly 900 people came to this blog yesterday just to name the Marleybone builder turtle in Wizard 101. That’s fantastic! There’s still a bunch of time left, and as long as the contest is going, there’s going to be a big button over there on the right leading to the post since, this being a blog, stuff scrolls off the front page almost immediately, and the Name the Turtles contest is already buried under THIS post, and a long, long comic about two hobbits discussing how cool a X Files MMO would totally be.

If you play Wizard 101 and haven’t yet suggested a name nor for just the Marleybone turtle, but ALL of them, well, click the button and get naming! :)

frstationaccess

In a shot heard ’round the Twitterverse, Free Realms dev Laralyn confirmed what I thought I’d heard before but now know for sure — all the “velvet rope” content in Free Realms that is reserved for members — many cool professions, quests, and minigames — will be available for no extra cost to Station Access members. Just when I was wondering if the $30/month was worth it just so I could make comics in EQ2, SOE brings me back.

Syncaine has another exciting story from the Darkfall trenches. I love reading about the epic battles in both Darkfall and Eve Online. The stories I read from Warhammer Online just don’t seem as gripping.

Todd Klein marvels at how far his screed against the Comic Sans MS font has gone since he wrote it. Who knew people cared so strongly about a font? Emily Steel of the Wall Street Journal digs even deeper with all you could ever want to know about the history of the font everyone loves to hate.

Indie game developer Cliff Harris is developing a game that will feed our ever-expanding need to see gloriously gratuitous space battles with a game called, appropriately, Gratuitous Space Battles. Day by day, he takes us through his development process and how he takes a game from concept to 60 fps, 200 unit strong, space battles.

Via io9, a MSNBC interview with the developers of the upcoming MMO, Star Trek Online. It’s like they hypnotized me, made me tell them everything I wanted to see in a Star Trek MMO, and then put it straight into the design document. I just hope they can pull this off.

Potshot is off exploring the hidden parts of the Eve Online universe with the newly discovered scanning technology. You never know what you’ll find at the far end of a wormhole, and even a Sleeper base surrounded by clouds of Fullerene can be a lucrative, if dangerous, surprise.

Saylah at Mystic Worlds respecs her Wizard 101 Balance wizard with Death as a secondary school and Ice as tertiary… which is pretty much exactly what I did when I respecced. Are we approaching the perfect killer training point build? We might be.

Speaking of Wizard 101, Damion at Zen of Design points to an article about a company that has developed semi-automated tools to monitor chats in kid oriented MMOs. Commenter Bryce points out that such monitoring software might make parents feel they don’t have to pay as much attention to what their kids are doing online.

Sente at A Ding World writes about the repercussions of Paragon Studios’ decision to allow the players to create their own missions in City of Heroes’ Architect system.

And that’s it for the Tuesday edition of Web Log!

Web log 4/20 — Special Contest Edition

I am SO EXCITED today! Last week, KingsIsle, developers of the wonderful MMO, Wizard 101, asked if I would be interested in participating in a little contest to help promote their new player housing. Players will be able to buy homes based on themes from each of the five worlds in game — Wizard City, Krokotopia, Marleybone, Moo Shu and Dragonspyre. The vendors for these homes are going to be industrious builder turtles, who will exchange piles of gold for the keys to your new home. The names of these turtles will be determined by the players, and the readers of West Karana who also play Wizard 101 will be naming the turtle for Marleybone, which is my personal favorite world.

I couldn’t be more thrilled! If my blog works correctly, you should see a post with the contest details appear magically at around 11AM EST. The contest will run for ten days, so you have plenty of time, but get your votes in early :) Everyone who chooses the eventual winning name gets a prize, and the first one to send in the name that eventually gets chosen gets something even cooler!

whatisawesome

Must be something in the air, because suddenly, everyone is talking about — FONTS. Yesterday, Todd Klein told us about the dangers of using Microsoft’s Comic Sans MS font face, today, Bryzon at Bryzon’s Blurbs points at some videos of cartoons translated to animated text, and science fiction problog io9 takes us through a baker’s dozen fonts for alien languages.

Words are GOOD. MBP over at Mind Bending Puzzles wonders if today’s kids could get excited about the sort of text adventures we all used to play in the 80s — and finds that they can!

Russian-American mathematician Tanya Khovanova examines how the major prizes in the field of mathematics are stacked against woman. Tanya’s blog is an inspiration and often quite a lot of fun besides.

Syp over at Bio Break, whose every post I love, has a theory why gamers just don’t pick a MMO and stick with it! Seven theories, in fact. Beau at Spouse Aggro wonders if it’s just because we’re really bored. TERMINALLY bored.

That’s it for today. Check back later and enter the W101 contest — turtle isn’t going to name itself!