Archive for the ‘News’ Category.
Today marks the end of the seventh year of the blog. I say this every year, but it’s crazy to me that the blog is still around after so long. Of course just like last year, my posting has been sparse outside of Blaugust, so the blog is really barely around. I’m at the point now where it’s nice to have an outlet when I need one, but I don’t feel guilty when I look at the site and see it’s been four months since I wrote anything.
I’m not saying that I expect to fall silent until next year though. I’ve got a weekday reminder to write something set on my phone and that has worked more often than it hasn’t in September. My hope and my goal is to keep that up with two or more posts a week depending on what I’m doing and how much I have to say. If nothing else I expect to have regular KSP mission reports.
Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by to read or comment, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings.
I was dismayed yesterday morning when I popped into the STO Reddit while taking a work break and the top link was to a rumor about layoffs at PWE and Cryptic. I immediately checked Smirk’s Twitter to confirm it and then looked at the feeds for Laughing Trendy, Thomas the Cat, Tacofangs, and ZeroniusRex to see if they were affected too. According to Massively OP later in the day 18 people at Cryptic were laid off in total, PWE’s offices were apparently hit much harder.
Of course the arm chair developers came out of the wood work in the comments on most of the sites I looked at. I saw a great Tweet from Elijah, one of the hosts of Priority One Podcast, that summed up my response perfectly:
There were way too many people spouting off with opinions completely divorced from reality. I read several comments from people saying that Cryptic should never have let PWE buy them which shows complete ignorance of the history of the company. Atari sold Cryptic to PWE, Cryptic didn’t sell themselves. Regardless, if PWE hadn’t bought Cryptic then, they likely wouldn’t be around at all now.
I do understand the impulse to try and rationalize a reason though. Layoffs suck. Change is difficult, all the more so when the change is caused by an outside force. I known as I’ve experienced them myself twice and I’m a corporate software developer which is a much more stable industry than games development.
Regardless of the reasons, assigning blame doesn’t help people find jobs, and in my experience doesn’t make those who were let go or those who survived the cuts feel any better.
So I wanted to wish the vest of luck to Smirk, Positron and others now having to find new jobs, I hope they all land at places that they enjoy as much or more than their old one. Good luck also to those still at Cryptic, I hope that they’re not getting squeezed with more work to make up the difference.
In what feels like an annual event, Star Trek Online is getting a new Executive Producer. Stephen Ricossa, aka Salami Inferno, is taking over command from Stephen D’Angelo. Who took over after Daniel Stahl left, both times, who took over when Craig Zinkievich, the original EP, changed rolls within the company. From interviews I’ve heard Ricossa is a huge Trekkie, something he also mentions in his first EP post, and I’ve been a fan of the way he communicates with the player community in his former Lead Producer role. Hopefully that doesn’t change now that he’s in the big chair.
A good sign of that is he finished with a big teaser for the next big update:
With the launch of Season 10 Sector Space will be comprised of only three maps, with each one representing a quadrant that exists in STO.
Woot! This is something I’ve been wanting since the game launched. I’m a little apprehensive about the details as this will have to have a big impact on the chat and duty officer systems, but it will be so nice to be able to set a course and not have to worry about getting stopped at arbitrary walls within sector space. I’m also curious to see how exactly they split the sectors up into the three quadrants. Alpha and Beta quadrants have always been treated as one in Trek books/TV/movies.
Wow, I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for six years. I don’t stop to appreciate it much, but even though I don’t blog regularly in any sense of the word, I need to cut myself a little slack for maintaining a blog for six years, no matter how sporadically I post. And it’s definitely been sparse outside of Blaugust. Speaking of, I haven’t kept up with the “post every day” thing, but I hadn’t intended to anyway. I have been getting one or two in a week though which has been great. After looking at my archives, I don’t think I’ve been this motivated to post since 2011.
Anyway, I wanted to send out a big “Thank you!” to everyone who stops by to read and comment. Onward to year seven!
So it is actually true. Microsoft bought Mojang for $2.5 billion.
When I first heard the rumors, my first reaction was there was no way they were true. Then they persisted with no response from Mojang or Notch, and I began to think they could be afterall. With the official news today confirming the rumor removing all doubt, my first reaction was dread and the neither the Mojang post linked above nor this one from Phil Spencer at Xbox make me feel any better. Both are to PR crafted for me to take anything from them about what’s ahead for Minecraft, Let’s Plays, and modding.
To be fair, even if they had come out with specific promises and plans, I wouldn’t be feeling much different. As the saying goes, talk is cheap. I and a lot of other Minecraft players, modders, and YouTubers will be watching closely to see what Microsoft actually does with the property. I hope that given the amount of money involved and their prior relationship with Mojang that Microsoft has plans in mind, but I’ve worked for too many companies where management made odd decisions (almost always due to internal politics) to assume that Microsoft has a real plan until I see it in action.
Just to be clear, I don’t hate Microsoft and I don’t think they’re evil. Corporations are neither good nor evil. Public corporations like Microsoft exist solely to make money. Which makes me wonder though if Microsoft sees the YouTube and modding communities as a valuable enough part of Minecraft to adjust their policies to accommodate both groups.
The best thing I’ve read today about this was Notch’s note about the sale. From the Minecraft documentary and interviews I’ve seen, I fully believe that last part of this post:
It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.
I’m glad he found a way to get out on his own terms and I wish him all the best going forward.
P.S. This sums things up nicely:
Shadow Realms was announced at Gamescom and looks interesting but I have some concerns. I really like that they’re trying to bring computer RPGs back closer to their pen and paper roots. I think the idea of 4v1 PvP could work, but the execution is going to be tricky to get right. BioWare is hitting all of the right notes in their descriptions of the game at least, emphasizing episodic story content with fast-paced tactical combat and deep customization. It reminds me quite a bit of the Secret World, only fortunately there’s no mention so far of zombies, which I’m beyond sick of.
Initially I thought the hero classes were a bit too standard: warrior, assassin (thief in any MMO), wizard, cleric, ranger (nature pet class), warlock (demonic pet class). But after giving it more thought, I think it makes sense to help with the accessibility of the game. There’s room in that setup to innovate on the classic trinity without confusing prospective players. The Shadowlord class will be the big draw for people looking for something novel.
The producer letter from Dallas Dickinson promise transparency and changes based on player feedback and gameplay metrics. I was especially interested to see them directing people to a new subreddit /r/ShadowRealms. Using an open platform like that for the initial community is an odd contrast to the EA/Origins prompt that greeted me when I signed up for the alpha, which I assume means Origins will be the launcher for the game when it’s released.
I’m still a little skeptical about the game, but I really like this quote from the Lead Designer James Ohlen and I would love to see BioWare pull it off:
Shadow Realms isn’t just hearkening back to those early BioWare PC games—it’s finally bringing the magic of tabletop RPGs to the digital realm.
Day 13 of Blaugust
Cryptic and Perfect World formally announced the second expansion for Star Trek Online today, Delta Rising. I say formally because the initial announcement was made at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas last weekend, a video of which is linked in the announcement.
Voyager is not my favorite series, I found several of the characters either bland or annoying. That said, I was very impressed with Tim Russ’ reprising Tuvok for the Season 9 update so I was pleased that Garrett Wang is being brought on to voice Ensign Kim. Except he’s finally been promoted to Captain. Even cooler is Garrett only the first Voyager cast member to be announced, there’ll be more in the coming weeks. I’m really hope that Robert Picardo is figuratively waiting in the wings.
Game-wise the biggest feature, in my opinion, is the level cap increase from 50 to 60. I don’t think I’ve played any MMO that’s gone four years without a level cap bump. A new level cap means new story content which is sorely needed.
Cryptic is also adding a new post 50 infinite progression system as well as a new tier of starships. I’m skeptical about how infinite this new progression system will be. I imagine that either means it will be a massive grind to achieve anything or it will offer diminishing returns on improvement. The new tier of starships sound interesting as there’ll be something new with bridge officers among other hinted at features. Unfortunately with so little real information yet the forum warriors have already begun beating their war drums over concern that their current min/maxed Tier 5 ships suddenly won’t be as godlike as they are now.
Personally, I’m looking forward to more content regardless of any other changes. In the absence of a regular TV show, this is the Star Trek franchise for me.
Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations Day 7 of Blaugust
The next Dresden Files book is due out near the end of this month and I’m excited!
I’ve been following a group on Youtube for a while now that’s been working on a fan film. While it’s hard to tell from the snippets I’ve seen, overall it looks really well done. Even cooler is they’ve made a trailer for Skin Game, check it out.
Not only is my blog five years old now, one of my favorite gamebook publishers is too.
Tin Man Games is celebrating their fifth anniversary by releasing the eighth book in the Orlandes setting, Curse of the Assassin. Their gamebooks are available on both Android and iOS. They have music, illustrations, and handle all of the combat and inventory mechanics, which makes them great for places where you don’t want to break out a pad of paper and a pair of dice. If fantasy isn’t your thing they have a scifi/humor series called Infinite Universe (currently only one book) that I really enjoyed, plus a great Judge Dredd book called Countdown Sector 106.
Authors from Starbase UGC have teamed up to make a six part series on the level of Cryptic’s Featured Episode series. I can’t wait to check the first one out come October 1st, while I really enjoyed the Romulan expansion my favorite character will always be my first Federation one, Bryn, and I’m looking forward to have some appointment playtime like in the first years of STO when Cryptic was doing their features.
Check out their teaser trailer.