Web log 4/19

Welcome to the Sunday Web Log!

When’s the new EverQuest server coming? The rumor mill has it that the 51/50 server — new characters start off at level 51 with 50 AAs — is in the bag. Others assume that SOE will be opening a new progression server, and have reactivated their accounts in order to start over. As near as I can tell, nothing has been announced yet, but it seems likely that we’ll be able to play on the new server, whatever kind it is, in June. Oh, and EQ players? You voted two frogs in as Mr. and Miss Norrath of 2009? I mean, grats to Kannak and Molleah but … frogs?

Thanks for the shout out, Starsong. Some of my most enjoyable times in an MMO in the past year were in Wizard 101… meeting Dr Katzenstein in his lab, or doing Kensington with Suri and Thomas… so much fun! Glad you and your family are enjoying the game! Stop by tomorrow for some special Wizard 101 goodness :)

Psyq from Dalayan Diaries shows how Shards of Dalaya is keeping up with City of Heroes (and Vanguard, too, right?) by adding “Adventuring Bands“. Like the CoH leveling pact, those in an Adventuring Band share experience with each other, online or off, so that everyone levels at the same rate no matter how much, or little, someone plays. Cool idea!

Speaking of City of Heroes, the developers handed the keys to the design studio to the players, and in ONE DAY, the players created more content for the game than the developers had been able to do in the previous five years. And the vast majority of the adventures use custom-created opponents. Sure, a lot of those adventures aren’t the best, but I have played several of them, and some are REALLY GOOD. Plus, aren’t you more likely to stick with a game that has something you made in it? Good move on the part of Paragon Studios, and that’s ANOTHER feature I’d like to see in more MMOs.

Green Armadillo has just gone from level 1 to 50 in EverQuest II and writes about his experience in Player vs Developer. His verdict? He strongly recommends “EQ2 to players who enjoy solo PVE content who are looking for a change of pace”.

It’s been a week for new EQ2 players to admit that the game has really made incredible progress since its launch. Ysharros of Stylish Corpse shows how the game has transformed from drab and colorless to a stylish world drenched in color. And she hasn’t even been to Maj’Dul yet!

Todd Klein over at Todd’s Blog explains how the Microsoft Windows Comic Sans font is EVIL. He’s a pro letterer, and explains how this last vestige of the ill-fated Microsoft Bob project came to be and bemoans the millions of amateur comic makers (me included, alas) who think this is what comic lettering looks like. I went right to Blambot.com and made amends by buying one of their REAL comic fonts, which I try out in the panel at the bottom of this post. That’s Blambot Classic, and I’ll probably pick up Blambot Casual as well, because I prefer having lower case letters, I think. Blambot Classic can use much smaller point sizes and remain readable, though… it’s 8 point type in the panel.

Syp at Bio Break finds out how Free Realms can be the gateway drug to a MMO addiction when he lures his wife to the Bright Side.

Suzina of Kill Ten Rats liked MMOs better back when they were called MUDs and you knew everyone in the game. While I’m not sure her call for servers small enough that you can get to know everyone is really a good idea in this modern age, giving players the tools to form a strong community is vital to the “worldy” feeling in an MMO. If not very small communities, then at least really great hangouts as Spinks of Spinksville suggests.

That’s all for today, but if you’re a Pokemon fan like the lady below, why not visit her in Marleybone and talk to her about YOUR favorite Pokemon?

Marleybone Pokemon
Me, I liked Charmander better.

Web Log 4/18

Interested in playing a little game called Free Realms? They’re letting ANYONE in. They let ME in, right? If you haven’t gotten a key, and want to try out the Next Big Thing, head on over to http://www.freerealms.com/index.vm?cid=1054126 and sign up, first thousand get in (via @freerealms). Odds not good enough for you? USA Today has 20 thousand keys to give away (via Grimwell). Why exactly can’t we talk about this game? This sounds so much like an OPEN beta.

The Beatles: Rock Band is offering membership in an exclusive fan club if you pre-order their US$249.99 Limited Edition Bundle, with perhaps two mikes for vocal harmonizing. Which would be cool, but … $249.99? Well, at least it isn’t $250.00. (via @samhouston)

Syp over at Bio Break doesn’t like Elves much. But elves are AWESOME! Read through Tolkein’s “The Silmarillion” sometime.

Iluvatar: Hi, elves! We’re going to make you immortal, you have a magical language — no wait, TWO magical languages, have a connection with nature, are the best fighters, can put an arrow through a gnat’s eye from three leagues away, can walk on top of snow, move silently, make trees sentient, and … oh, hi Man! Gifts? Lessee… your lives will be nasty, brutish and, oh yes, SHORT. Mortality is My gift to you! Now run along!

Elf: Hey, you gave MAN something! You like him better than me!

Iluvatar: Oh! Here’s the ability to craft magical rings, capture the light of stars in gems, make magical ships that can sail straight out of the mortal world, the ability to write better poetry and songs than anyone else, make cities out of trees, heal the sick, ride faster than anyone, and vanish when threatened.

Elf: Still kinda mad at you for giving Man mortality.

Iluvatar: Oh, okay. If you ever want it really bad, you can become mortal, too.

Stingite over at The Friendly Necromancer is feeling a little masochistic and has found the perfect solution in Wizard 101 Central’s PvP Tournaments. Props to the organizers for putting some incentive into Wizard 101’s dueling arenas, and next time? Earthquake!

Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer wonders why SOE has decided to compete with an entire crafting profession, Carpenters, with its new RMT furniture. A very valid concern — there are master carpenters on every server who have a great deal of fame (and make a great deal of coin) by decorating people’s homes and guild halls. But if they can’t even offer the very best items — sold for real cash in the Station Marketplace — then what’s their purpose? EQ2 is one of the very few MMOs that offer such freedom in decorating. Tampering with that is NOT a good move on SOE’s part.

Today is Velociraptor Awareness Day, because people should watch out before exploring power stations or cafeterias — there could be raptors! Warning — following that link will reactivate your Facebook account. It happened to me, and that’s a little scarier than mere raptors. Via XKCD, of course.

It’s not hard to make the kind of MMO people really want. Make full time, all the time, everywhere PvP, allow the players to make their own cities and rule the world, raid, capture and destroy other cities, and if you can’t take it, go back to your happy fun carebear world, EverQuest tourist? EverQuest? Yup, Shadowbane was EverQuest’s Darkfall, the game that was going to give players what they REALLY wanted — the threat of constant death. Shadowbane’s long and troubled history comes to an end May 1. EverQuest, for the record, is still going strong. When I played Dark Age of Camelot, Shadowbane was going to be the answer for all the failings in DAoC’s RvR. You couldn’t go out to Emain Mecha without hearing how SB would do it better. Now DAoC has a sequel (Warhammer Online) and… Shadowbane is closing. Do people REALLY want 100% all the time PvP?

Stargrace has figured out how to level a character in EverQuest II with 200% Adventure Experience for free! Well, for a month, anyway, using a new account with Recruit a Friend to essentially powerlevel an existing account, which has enough prior 80s on it to give a substantial boost to adventure xp for all characters. It’s pretty complicated, it’s better if she explains it :)

Happy Saturday!

Weblog 4/17

Play Wizard 101? Want a rare treasure card? Calamity Boompants will be on the Pixie realm, in Area 1, between 2 and 2:30 PM CST with cards the likes of which you won’t often see. Just, you know, don’t be standing behind her when her Boompants have a Calamity…

It’s hard to go anywhere on the web these days without running into some breathless enthusiasm for Twitter. CNN and Ashton Kutcher squared off to see who could get a million followers first. Today, talk show host Oprah Winfrey will have Ashton Kutcher on her show and Twitter live, on the air. Thousands of Twits are spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to use Twitter to extract money from you, the casual Twitter user. Why is Twitter suddenly more in the news than Facebook or MySpace (anyone remember MySpace?)

The founders of copyright infringement enablers Pirate Bay were found guilty in Sweden of copyright infringement and will each spend a year in jail and repay 30 million krone (about 3.6 million USD). Co-defendant Peter Sunde said they found out the verdict late last night, and tweeted, “It used to be only movies, now even verdicts are out before the official release.”

MMORPG.com is giving away 100 one month Spellborn subscriptions as well as some random other bits of computer hardware. So if trying to figure out Acclaim’s bizarre payment plans has kept you away from the game, why not try for a chance to play it on MMORPG’s nickel?

Ever play SimCity and wonder why there wasn’t a way to play your city with and against the cities of other players? City XL will let you do just that. It’s Sim City set on a planet covered with hundreds of player-run, photo-realistic cities. Massively is running a promotion which might help get you into the closed beta, while even normally reticent, but snarky, problog Rock, Paper, Shotgun is getting hit with the hype.

That’s all I got.