First a little housekeeping… I’m still occasionally posting here, but mostly I’m posting at I’m Talkin’ Games. OK, that’s done.. Now to business.
I don’t usually call out other bloggers because usually they have their opinions, which everyone knows is like a part of the body, and they are entitled to that opinion. My standard for reading a blog is that there is a shred of objectivity to the posting there. Sure we all have our favorites and I tend to write mostly about what I am playing at the moment. Right now that is WOW, but it’s been variously EQ2, EVE, AoC, Vanguard, and even TF2. There have been others but you get the point. Other than on the fan site that I started (which was sanctioned by the studio and clearly labeled as such), I’ve never really advocated a game and tried to stick to posting about what I like or dislike about it or my sometimes inexplicable behavior around it.
I’ve noted that a lot of others stick to that same ethos. There is currently one blogger that stands out, and that is Syncaine over at Hardcore Casual. Hardcore Casual has been on my blogroll for a long time. I remember enjoying reading it back in the day, and even looked up to it as a successful blog. Recently though a trend has emerged over there. In short, it appears that Syncaine should change the name of the blog to Hardcore Apologist.
So you may have noticed that my posting has slowed down here a little bit. That’s because I’ve joined Br3ntbr0 over at I’m Talkin’ Games! or ITG!
I’m excited to join a multi-author blog. Some of my favorite blogs (I’m looking at you, KTR) are multi-author and I’m hoping that some day we can get the quality and consistency they get. We’ve got a couple of newer bloggers to the circle I usually run in, along with old friends Oakstout and JoBildo contributing.
I’m going to keep this blog open, because I know that there are going to be things I want to say here. Please set your readers and feeds to http://imtalkingames.com as well. I’d love to see you all over there too. We’ve got some exciting things planned there. I’ll let you head over there and see for yourself.
So it’s baseball playoff time, and I’m enjoying a game on TV when I get an email. It’s from SOE. They want to make sure that I know they are closing about half of their SWG servers. Yeah, OK, I know that. And they want me to know a couple other things. To quote;
In accordance with the server closure date, the Free Character Transfer service has been extended through October 15. 2009. Between September 15, 2009 and October 15, 2009 at 4:59 PM PT all characters on the affected servers are eligible for a one way, one time Free Character Transfer* to any of the remaining thirteen (13) Star Wars Galaxies servers.
Cool! Free character transfers! That’s always good, especially when the server you are on may be one of the soon-to-be-obsolete variety. Duh. But there is more;
After October 15, 2009 at 5:00 PM PT, any characters and their associated items and structures remaining on the identified servers being closed will no longer be accessible on your Star Wars Galaxies or Station Access account.
Ouch. OK, no longer accessible? You mean deleted, right?
But wait! There’s more! And this is the really good part!
To access the Free Character Transfer Service, you must login to Star Wars Galaxies with the character you would like to transfer. You will be notified that your character qualifies for the free character transfer service opportunity when you login. Eligible characters may also enter “/freects” to begin the transfer process. Only one character may be transferred at a time. Please read and respond carefully to each question and answer entry you type. All Character Transfers are considered final and cannot be reversed.
This means that there is no way to transfer your characters if you are currently unsubscribed. I say currently because the nature of MMO subscriptions is that people come and go, then come back again. Tarkheena and I have resubbed to SWG three separate times.
It always starts like this. Hot New Game that everyone wants to play. Lots of people buy the box. First month is getting to know the game. It sure is pretty/authentic/fun. All your friends are playing it. You might have broken down and bought it yourself. It’s a lot like EQ/WOW/Lineage and you wonder if it’s different enough to make you want to play. You unsubscribe from your All Time Favorite game. You say some hurtful things about it as you leave.
Now it’s a month or two later and you are starting to notice your Hot New Game has a few warts. It’s still the Shiny though, and you try to ignore them.
Then it starts.
First, it’s a couple of blog posts or a tweet. Um, it’s not as cool as we though. A couple of people defect and go back to their All Time Favorite. ATF takes them back because it always does, and in a month or three their account goes inactive and they try not to think about it any more.
Then there is a small swelling of people saying that the emperor has no clothes. They are pointing out legitimate concerns with the game. Some of these people are the ones who should love the game, it’s purported target audience. Yet they begin to second-guess the game and where it’s going. This is where Aion is right now. Some of the people whose opinion I respect that should be the target audience are starting to slough off the game’s subscription roles.
All of us love our games (I assume you do too, and that is why you are here) and most of us want exciting new games to come along. We want them fun, we want them nuanced, we want them polised. Oh, and we want them right damn now. Why does it take so long to develop a game anyway? While I suspect that most of us have ideas why games take so long, I think that most of us don’t really think about some realities that govern whether a game is polished (seemingly a large yardstick for measuring the success of a game), fun, and attractive to us. I don’t think most of us have any idea of the scope of these games or the resources required to develop or operate and manage them.
During AGDC this week during 2 separate events Blizzard Entertainment shared what they think makes them unique in this regard.
The first, a Gamasutra interview with Blizzard lead content designer Kevin Martens is relatively simple: Iteration. Taking something and playing and testing it over and over. Tweaking it and playing and testing it over and over again. I suspect that many of us would expect that this is the essence of “polish”. How can something be polished without lots of testing and lots of adjustments from what you found while testing? Of course all of this iteration costs money, so that excludes some studios who may be operating on a shoestring or are under time-pressure to release a game. It’s also clear that this is why Blizzard takes so bloodly long to get anything out.
I’ve been a fan of Gary and Ryan from MMOG nation for a while. I used to listen to their podcast back when theirs was just about the only podcast out there about MMO’s. Gary Gannon, the Gary from the aforementioned team has been semi-retired from podcasting and community in general for about a year or so.
He’s returned in a big new way with his new site GameBreakr. The new site is a combination of news, ultra-brief reviews, and something a little more experimental, Gary’s live video podcasts. At AGDC, he’s launching the site with the help from the folks over at Vivox. He’s also peppering in a lot of social networking components with his presence on Facebook and Twitter as well. It’s a little more of a 360 degree approach to an online presence than is being done elsewhere.
The tag line on the blog is “Video Game Talk You Can Trust – with Gary Gannon” The scope of the podcasts will be everything gaming from Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, and PC gaming. I’d encourage you guys to go over to the site and check it out and click the “Game Breakr Live” tab at the top to see the live podcasts during AGDC with people from the industry, and check back each day to see what he’s got going. I’ll be following this new experiment and see how it develops. It’s cool to see someone take a little more complete approach to the community.