Cheap attack on Vanguard

From a comment I wrote on Anyuzer’s boards:

I share the same opinion that the Microsoft dude posted on the Vanguard website, basically that both WoW and EQ2 will be fun for awhile, but ultimately they are both uninspiring and offer no advancements to the genre. The fact that Vanguard is being critical of these two games in such a confident manner gives me hope

Being critical, in particular with those arguments, is DAMN easy. Suggesting interesting and possible solutions, instead, is hard.

Vanguard tells you it has the solution, but it doesn’t tell you what is this solution. Being confident is one of the recurring qualities of vaporware.

It’s having doubts that makes your game stronger.

The complete self-consciousness they are trying to demonstrate is just a sign of a pimped up ego, full of gas.

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Where is the community?

EDIT: added a third comment.

Two posts I’ve written on Q23 boards. Discussing the old days and how/why the community changed and isn’t anymore strong and useful as before:

Yes, after the transformation from Waterthread to F13 the community splitted, mostly between Corpnews and F13. Neither of them is an extremely active place since the focus on games has been gradually lost. So there’s still a community but without a shared passion and interest anymore.

F13 seems to have slightly different plans but it’s again, imho, just another sign of a lack of a purpose. I’ve commented about this here (it will be moved here with another copy here).

I feel like I’m the only one left who really miss the old attitude.

Other places I read are Grimwell and Anyuzer, both the homepage and the forums. Another new extremely interesting writer is Cosmik. So good that at a point I was convinced it was Lum under a fake identity (and I still have some doubts).

In the last few days I also managed to discover some old drama if someone is curious (here or here) and (here or here). Perhaps I’ll find some time to write more on my personal conclusion about what I re-discovered. Peoples think that it’s about the past and it has less than zero relevance, while I think it is extremely interesting and useful to understand many aspects of the current situation (about mmorpgs in general).

In a couple of posts from this old thread there’s one of the two reasons (the other is Lum) about why the community didn’t hold:

I always came here to read critical points of view on MMORPGs. When the devs and serious gamers come out and talk candidly about the direction and design of their games, thats a pretty unique thing that is hard to find anywhere. Anywhere else its heavily moderated and managed by professional PR people who are deathly scared they might piss someone off. With the latest changes, the best part of these forums die.


The days of developers saying anything that hasn’t gone through the PR sieve are pretty much gone anyway.

The community didn’t hold because all of the core members with interesting shit to say were either hired by MMORPG developers or burned out on MMORPGs. Really there are only so many bunnies you can bash. It’s a lot of bunnies, quiter a bit more than an outsider might reasonably expect, but it is a finite number. When the last bunny fell, two groups remained; on the left fudgepackers like eldin, snowspinner, schild, etc, who did their damndest to profit off a huge truckload of buggywhips when everybody else was cruising in automobiles (f13) and on the right the remains of the in-joke crowd, noble but bored and boring (corpnews)

So anyway, the burned-out ones basically recycled in-jokes for a year or so, then when that got old many migrated to different pastures, like this one. Not that the level of chatter is any better, really, but the in-jokes are different.

I think your definitions are correct, Corpnews has that even on the forum rules:

In general, the only points where a reply of less than one line quoting a post of longer than one line are acceptabe are “Psycho.”, and these must only be used by those who know and acknowledge the true power and meaning of the phrase.

use of the “die in a car fire” brand of replies is restricted.

But I don’t agree on the reasons why the community didn’t hold. As I hinted above I have defined two general factors, both equally important and my starting point was one of J.’s comments:

If the demand for someone holding a mirror up to the gaming industry is so great, someone ought to be able to do it, besides him.

1- Lum was a “special” writer. He was and is talented in a way that cannot be simply copied or inherited. It was important how he wrote and not really what he wrote. “What” is something you can study and learn to reproduce but “how” he wrote was his special quality. This is all about Lum and has *nothing* to do with the industry or the mmorpg genre.

2- The relationship between devs and the community. Or as GBob says: “forcing game companies to engage the player base in a real dialog”. The presence of devs is the other missing half. With the time even the most open game companies like Mythic have learnt to retreat and barricate in the ivory tower (follow the link for a full immersion in the past). Their first principle is that the community is the enemy. Avoid any concession.

Those two reasons prevent the community to be strong today and the same two reasons worked together, back in the days, to build that community that now has no sense. One was a complementary to the other.

Just a related update I find extremely interesting. This is what Lum is writing on his blog:

I think the “secret” to that most people missed was that I thought the vast majority of this stuff was, well. Funny. I took it seriously, but not too seriously. It was a fine line. I mean, in the end, we’re talking about Dungeons and Dragons, people.

And it’s exactly one of my recurring thoughts. Even if I dream about trying for myself to write better, I always know I cannot because my english sucks. But even with a proper english I know that I wouldn’t be able to write so well as he does for a simpler reason: my sense of humor tends to suck too.

Then there’s the auto autoirony and the capacity to not take yourself and the other things too seriously and dramatically.

And this fits perfectly with something that Blaze wrote a pair of weeks ago:

Lum, is a good writer and can make people feel what he is saying. He is also a heck of a comedian when he puts his mind to it.

(btw, he quoted me, only the first line belongs to J. – I claim back my poor english…)

It’s again *how* we write, not *what*.
And when I personally think about whether I can contribute or not I simply realize that I cannot solve that point by myself. So I just hope someone else picks up the challenge.

At least I know that I suck at this. Perhaps without much autoirony, but self-conscious for sure.

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SirBruce’s EQ2

From a post he wrote on F13:

You guys are playing a different game. The game servers are stable? They’re down all the time. Lagtonica still isn’t fixed. The quests are stable? I’ve got about 3 quests that are currently broken, plus numerous others that need adjustment. Spawns in dungeons are still messed up, solo mobs are missing left and right, there are placeholder names on many of the higher-level continents which have only barely been tested at this point. This doesn’t even address the numerous other bugs in the game, plus areas where the design needs to be revamped (quest system, outdoor maps), and they haven’t even introduced the character customizability system yet.

And then once you’ve done all that, if you’re smart you’d still let it run for another month to test your QA procedures (which have failed almost every patch released so far), your CS procedures (which are demonstrably lacking at this point), your system maintenance and DB procedures (again, F on this so far), and spend time optimizing for performance.



F13 tries a mutation

Nothing. It seems that they want to add two rotating banners (dangerous weapons they are), one to the front page, one to the forum. These ad banners will be sold under strange rules:

These ads won’t be sold to just anyone. Our main criteria is that companies which are fans of the site and which garners attention from the site will be the main focus of the banners. If SOE or NCSoft want to purchase ad space, so be it.

The money they’ll gather will be used to finance “official” trips to E3 and GDC and, if there’s more, they’ll buy more games to review on the front page. No mention of the costs to maintain the site.

My opinion? I have nothing against finding a way to support a site so I won’t be one of those screaming “sellout” (Oh wait, I did?). As a personal preference and as an user I don’t like the banners, in particular when they are on a forum. They are useless and make a page run slower, plus they ruin the layout. They are ugly simply from an aesthetic point of view. F13 has a simple, sleek style that I like a lot and a banner will disrupt this quality. So it’s not about the money.

Another point is that I’m not interested when they review and discuss non-MMORPG games. I went there because of the old Wathertread and I still read the front page and the forums because I share with them a passion and an interest. This doesn’t mean that the place should be completely focused but it’s still a matter of identity: what’s the primary purpose of the site? I completely accept the possibility to remove the filters and discuss everything, from hardware to politics. But that happened inside a community with a strong identity. The passion about mmorpgs. What happened? Time goes on, the community changes, the focus is gradually lost and we are mostly upset and also bored by the current status of the industry. We lost too many times a direction (as: someone who leads and a direction about where to go) and, instead of rediscovering what was good, they tried to find a new way.

The questions asked in this thread are still the questions to be answered. My impression is that the community lost its purpose. The situation is upside-down. The purpose was the reason why the community was formed (around Lum), now the community lost the purpose (and Lum) but is trying hard to find a new excuse to survive. I don’t know. I arrived late and I still have a passion and interest for mmorpgs even if I feel often frustrated, disappointed and yes, also bored. I miss what we had before and it’s still what I’m searching for.

I’m probably the only one still giving more importance to that interest than being part of the community. And it’s not like I’m proud of it.

But the question is still there even for them, if they want to change they’ll have to consider why and how. I know the answers when it comes to my own site. I know that you’ll never see a banner here and I know that I’ll never ask for a donation. Instead I’d gladly welcome others and offer what I have available, like I tried with Coke and D One. Because my aim is about forming the interest. I want to read what Coke and D One have to say. Gathering instead of shattering.

I find what Haemish wrote rather weak. Too many apologies, too defensive. Probably about something that hasn’t fully convinced even himself. But let’s say that they really find someone willingly to pay to advertize a product on their page (which won’t be easy) what will happen then? This is the real conflic of interest. What is shown in the ad banners is what the community writes about, and the words aren’t supposed to be “kind”. Haemish hints the fact that they’ll select who will be able to buy the space and this makes the conflict of interest even stronger, like a partnership. It’s obvious that this will have an influence, even if they are determined to demonstrate the opposite. You get paid and your attitude toward someone giving you money will definitely change. The line is between having this partnership within the community itself or with the subject of your rants. From a side Haemish doesn’t want to beg for money, but from the other he accepts the idea of asking a company to give them money so that they can throw shit at their products. Even worst if they this partnership is selected and approved, creating an “F13 brand” and a quality stamp: “F13 quality assurance”.

Now I’ll take a completely new direction and say that all this can be good. This could force them to have a more positive attitude, to be more careful about what they say and to point out the problems with more respect towards the developers. I don’t really care if the money will finish to affect the mood of an article and I think the result will be more useful both for them and the game companies. I believe that the conflict of interest is a good thing. In fact it’s *because* we fought against it that the community is now without a purpose.

In the meantime everyone who has something to say has its own little corner of the internet to do so, like I’m doing here. Perhaps in the future there will be again the need to gather all this and reform a community with a specific purpose.

Let me know when it happens.

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Drupal 4.5.0 is released!

Drupal 4.5.0 is out

Time to work on the new site. This one is currently powered by Drupal 4.4.2, the previous official release, now it’s time to upgrade and try to destroy my own little corner of the internet.

I also worked these days to replace the old MovableType archive (currently here) with a brand new engine: WordPress. The same Lum’s using on his blog.

I checked WordPress a few months ago but the whole category system was missing, now not only they have implemented it, but it also supports multiple categories (like Durpal). A definite improvement over MovableType even if there are other glitches and limitations (for example try to go to Lum’s site and click on the “general” category, your browser will flip out…). Right now I only worked to rebuild the structure and port over all the posts and it’s going well. I plan to build a completely different and “light” template for the WordPress version of this site. Current progress can be followed here.

Instead experiments with the new Drupal engine will be located here.

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