Friday, October 12, 2018

A Quick Friday Read

I came across this recent post from Eurogamer about how BioWare completely changed the RPG genre with Baldur's Gate, and found it too good to not share. It's full of the "we had no idea what we were getting into" moments, along with how the game was so incredibly massive for its time. Nowadays, it'd be considered fairly small, but I remember playing the game and having to constantly swap out the 5 CDs that the game came with. I got used to hearing the very specific mechanical sound of the CD player that meant "Hey, I found something relevant", and when it requested a new CD I felt the urge to cheer.

Fun fact: Dynaheir (above) was
voiced by Jennifer Hale. Yes,
Jennifer "Fem Shep" Hale.
From baldursgate.wikia.com and
BG itself.

While I do think that BG2 improved upon everything that the original BG had, were it not for that first Baldur's Gate the entire RPG industry would be completely different, and likely dominated by Final Fantasy clones.

But for me, the best part was finding out the inspiration for Minsc and Boo, which while a bit more mundane than I expected I still found amusing.

From the baldursgate.wikia.com site,
as well as Baldur's Gate itself.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How Do They Keep Cheating the Reaper?

Age of Conan has another limited time server in place, this time with a PvP ruleset.

The Saga of Blood opened on September 27th and will run for a "limited time", with a battle royale slated for the end of the server's life for the people at the top of the PvP leaderboard.

How Funcom keeps AoC alive I've no idea, but AoC has outlasted both Marvel Heroes and Wildstar, and will likely outlast one or two other MMOs out there before finally bidding the MMO world adieu.

***

In other news, I've kept plugging away at the Elder Scrolls Online, and I've become very acquainted with respawning using soul gems as I've worked my way into Skyrim territory (playing as a Dark Elf). I think the dodging that I need to do isn't quite up to my skill set, given that my fingers ache after a long session these days.

I've not gotten down to "old man Redbeard" levels yet, but I can see that time approaching in the future. I do have to wonder, however, whether Blizz's changes to WoW to make the game easier to play have less to do with the price of entry and more to do with the aging of the player base.

Just a thought.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Fortnite's Big Break

You know that you've "made it" as a politician, celebrity, or sports figure if you're skewered on Saturday Night Live.

For the uninitiated, Saturday Night Live (or SNL) is on the US broadcast network NBC at 11:30 PM on Saturday nights and lasts until 1:00 AM Sunday morning. Yes, it's a live show, and it began in October 1975 and has been on television ever since. The cast is constantly evolving as people join the crew, stay for several years, and move on to do other things. Stars such as Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Amy Proehler, Will Ferrell, Sarah Silverman, and many others got their big break on SNL.

Well, I knew that Fortnite was big, but not SNL type big, until tonight. Guest Host Adam Driver is the "dad" in the Fortnite skit:


At least I've never been that bad in video games, but I can attest that my own dad would have been that bad.

Between myself and Ancient, I guess we've got the "old man" aspect of video games covered....

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As Sand Slips Through the Hourglass...

I knew this day would come, but it doesn't make the transition any easier.

One of the mini-Reds has reached 20.

Oh, she still games and does all sorts of other geeky things --she recently was one of the people who put together a D&D 5e gaming group among her band friends-- and I'm still really proud of her.

But she's no longer a mini-Red.

A mega-Red, perhaps.

Happy birthday, Kid:


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fun With MMOs: The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online is one of those MMOs that was built on an existing (and wildly popular) video game property. Unlike other well known properties turned into MMOs, The Elder Scrolls franchise is strictly a video game property, as opposed to the broader scope of the properties behind MMOs such as LOTRO, SWTOR, Neverwinter, etc., etc.

But that's not a bad thing. After all, the biggest MMO out there, WoW, is a video game property. As is Final Fantasy XIV, for that matter.*

The Elder Scrolls Online was developed by Zenimax and published by Bethesda, and after a reported seven years in development was released for PC on April 4th, 2014. In June 2015, ESO released for the PS4 and XBoxOne.

And I'll freely admit that when I first heard of ESO, my first thought was "Why?"
This never gets old.
From all over the internet, really.

After the WoW-killer failure of Rift and SWTOR** as well as the tremendous success of Skyrim, it seemed very foolish to tempt the MMO gods by creating a huge MMO for the Elder Scrolls franchise. Additionally, the release date in 2014 didn't really have the same buzz for ESO that another 2014 release, Wildstar, had. Wildstar was also getting a lot of press because it was moving in the direction of "old school MMO" in a way that most major MMOs had long abandoned, such as heavy grinds, really tough raid bosses, and tons and tons of attunement. When ESO was mentioned, one of the first items that you'd typically see was "oh, it's a subscription only game, just like Wildstar". Not exactly the sort of hype you want to see in an upcoming game.

However, the year is now 2018 and ESO is still adapting and thriving, while Wildstar is about to be shut down. ESO has moved into the buy-and-play model of GW2 with a cash shop and an optional subscription, and with that move along with several critical major updates the game is chugging along quite nicely. The developers at Zenimax must be doing something right, so it's time to login to The Elder Scrolls Online and find out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

...and Even More Contraction in MMO Space

For some reason, I've not been paying too much attention to some of the other MMOs that I've tried out, but while Rift Prime seems to be doing fairly well at the moment TERA has just completed a bunch of server merges.

The TERA merges went live yesterday, and in NA (at least) the PC version of TERA is down to one PvE and one PvP server each. Prior to the merge, if you logged in you could get a boost of 20 character slots to cover your stable of toons across the servers, but naturally I was unaware of that so I lost three toons (two of which were only L1, so it's not too bad).

So all of those "TERA is doing fine, much better than [insert MMO here]!" comments I've seen on other MMOs make me wonder whether that was just wishful thinking or whether TERA isn't even close to as popular as the MMO community thought it was.

From my perspective, it seems that the MMO shakedown that began with Marvel Heroes' shutdown is continuing, and even gathering a bit of steam.

Does that mean the MMO is becoming a genre of one (WoW) with a couple of hangers on? No, but I also believe that the MMO genre is retreating to a much smaller footprint in much the same way that a fad comes and goes. MOBAs are the new hotness, and in about 5-6 years they'll fade from view as well to be replaced by something else.

I don't think TERA is on life support, but it definitely isn't doing as well as it could be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

In Other News....

Although it was not as directly impactful to me as Wildstar shutting down, there was other MMO news last week: EVE Online developer CCP was sold to Pearl Abyss, the developer of Black Desert Online.

I found it somewhat amusing that the EVE Online fans --who play in a cutthroat open universe PvP game-- are looking askance at this buyout. After all, isn't a buyout perfectly in line with EVE Online's gameplay?