Looking Back at 2010

December is done and 2010 along with it. Seems like a lot of people are happy to see 2010 go, but the last twelve months of gaming here in Kae-land have been pretty good.

New MMOs in 2010

There were four MMOs scheduled or rumored for 2010 that I was keeping an eye one.

Star Trek Online

The game launched on time and pretty smoothly. At least smoothly enough that I don’t remember encountering any problems eleven months later, unlike Anarchy Online’s launch which I still rememberyears later.

The game had a larger flood of launch players than I expected, but it seemed like that initial wave passed through pretty quickly. Say what you will about Cryptic, but I do like their single world architecture. Not only do you not have to play the server-coordination game with your friends, but there’s also no drama over server queues or merges.

For such a new game, not quite a year old yet, STO has made a lot of improvements. Cryptic has added a diplomacy system (months before I expected them to), several new sectors of content, revamped the crafting system (twice, although more work needs to be done on it), updated sector space, done two month’s worth of weekly episodes, and done an excellent job of following through on their promises of transparency with their Engineering Reports. They’re also close to releasing a user-generated content system, the Foundry.

Of course, Cryptic has caused a lot of drama and made a lot of mistakes this year as well, but I have to give them credit for their responsiveness. The Star Trek team has been especially good at gathering community feedback and then acting on it. Daniel Stahl has done an excellent job since taking over as Executive Producer, and I’m very optimistic about the future of the game.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Even with all the new information this year, my expectations haven’t changed much.

I like the emphasis on story. Going fully voiced will be an interesting experiment to see how players react and the impact on adding content. I’m sure I’ll buy this even if I don’t subscribe past the first month just to see for myself how Bioware did. Besides the original Knights of the Old Republic was one of my favorite games on the first Xbox.

One thing has changed though, I’ve been surprised about how poorly Bioware has managed the hype for the game this year. In 2009 they’d been doing an excellent job of keeping people excited for the game without letting community expectations get unreasonable. I can’t say the same about Bioware for 2010. It seems to me like the backlash I was expecting to follow the game’s launch has already started.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

My expectations for Cataclysm were set at “wait and see.” That was where they stayed right up until the expansion launched. Despite my general lack of enthusiasm, I did end up buying it. I blame Twitter.

I played through the Dwarven starting zone again (up to level 11) to see what the old world was like now and came away pretty disappointed. It was different, but it was just streamlined a bit and not the Azeroth shattering new experience I expected.

I also started a Worgen Mage and I’m about halfway (just judging by levels) through their starter area as well. I have to say, it’s fun so far but it’s not living up to the hype. That’s the tricky part of this. There’s a lot of hyperbole out there about how amazing Cataclysm is and how fantastic the new zones are, and I don’t think that the game lives up to it’s reputation.

Who knows, maybe I’ll change my tune once I finish the starter area. December just hasn’t been a good month for me to spend enough time with any MMOs.

DC Universe Online

DCUO was supposed to release in November, but SOE pushed it to the beginning of 2011. I think this was smart for two reasons: Cataclysm was scheduled for December (duh) and they listened to the feedback from their beta testers (something more developers should do).

I said back in January that I would wait until I’d had a chance to beta the game and make a decision close to launch of whether or not I’d play it. Well both of those things have happened, and I’ve decided to give it a pass. The reasons for that decision deserves a more in-depth treatment than I want to go into just now, so let me just say that there’s nothing that DCUO does for me that I can’t already get from playing either Champions Online or Arkham Asylum.

Old MMOs

At the start of 2010, there were three MMOs that I was playing regularly and/or subscribing to: Lord of the Rings Online, EVE Online, and Champions Online. (I’m thinking of making a New Years Resolution soon to boycott the use of the word Online in MMO titles.)

Lord of the Rings Online

Whew, what a year it’s been for LotRO and Turbine. It started out as my favorite MMO. I was (and still am) in a great Kinship (which it still is) and was having lot’s of fun in the game. Then came June 4th and the Free-to-Play bombshell. I was completely blindsided by the announcement. Maybe it’s because I played on Landroval, which was always one of the most populated servers, but I had never considered the possibility that Turbine would go the DDO-route for the game. Eventually, after the shock wore off and I was able to look at the details, it really didn’t seem like the F2P change would have a huge impact on my playing experience.

Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be quite correct. My minute to minute playing experience is mostly the same as it ever was, and I’m not paying any more to play the game than I was before, but the level of store integration into the UI really started to get to me. Between the alert that shows up anytime I do something that earns Turbine Points and all of the little gold buttons that link to the store (of which there are three on the crafting panel alone), I’ve found that my interest in logging in and playing as dwindled down to nearly nothing.

EVE Online

I was doubtful that I would still be subscribed to EVE by the end of the year. I did end up stopping the subscription on my second account, and would have canceled my primary except that it renewed before I got around to it. That’s not totally a bad thing as I’ve continued to train skills (towards no particular goal) and I’ll get a chance to try out the new character portrait generator when it comes out. Regardless though, I’m definitely letting the account lapse in March when the current six month cycle is up.

Champions Online

My plans to have this be my other primary game besides LotRO turned out to be true until I go my first hero to max level in March. After that, I played with some alts and returned for the Serpent Lantern Adventure Pack, but my playtime has dwindled down quite a bit this year. I have to be in a certain (rare) mood to enjoy re-experiencing content, so once I’ve been through the game once my playtime almost always declines (which is true for me in all MMOs).

Console Games

Mass Effect 2 was my favorite console game of the year. Great story, great graphics, and much improved combat over the previous game.

Red Dead Redemption was my second favorite console game, and one I almost missed. I hadn’t paid any attention to it at all until Scott from Pumping Irony asked me if I was getting it. I’m glad he did, because it turned out to be a really good game and the first Rockstar game I’ve ever finished.

Star Wars: Force Unleashed wasn’t new but I’d skipped it on release because of poor reviews. I ended up picking it up after news that a sequel was going to be release, and it turned out to be surprisingly good. So good, actually, that I was able to add it to my very small list of completed games. Ironically, based on several trusted sources, it seems like the sequel is a stinker. That’s too bad, but at least it got me to buy the first one.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions turned out to be a disappointment. The game was way more linear than I wanted it to be and has ended up in my limbo games stack. These are games stacked up next to my 360 that I feel I should finish but probably won’t.

Fable 3 was also a disappointment and will likely be joining Shattered Dimensions in limbo soon. It’s really too bad considering how much I loved playing Fable 2.

PC Games

Minecraft! Minecraft! Minecraft!

I’ve played and enjoyed a lot of PC games this year, most of them acquired via Steam sales, but the stand-out PC game for the year for me has been Minecraft.

I’m still surprised by how much I enjoy this game. I’m usually a shallow gamer. Good game-play is important of course, but no more so to me than the good graphics. Generally when a sequel to a game comes out I stop playing the older version, even if I don’t enjoy the new version as much, because it just looks better. What can I say.

If you qualify as a Crafter or Explorer personality type, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you do end up liking it, come check out the multi-player servers I’m running.

Kirith Kodachi Presents

Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah, by Kirith Kodachi, is one of my favorite EVE blogs. Back on October, Kirith started doing Fiction Fridays where every week he posted a chapter of a series he’d been writing about the origins of his EVE character. The first series is called No Choice and tells how Kirith started on the path to becoming a Capsuleer (an EVE player character). The second series, which is still in progress and up to Chapter 9, covers Kirith’s experiences in the Caldari Navy. Both series are very well written, and worth checking out even of you’re not an EVE player.

Looking Forward to 2010

If the release schedules and expectations hold, 2010 will be an interesting year. There are the two huge science-fiction IP’s coming via Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic, Blizzard is doing something of a reboot of the Warcraft world, and the DC/SOE juggernaut is expected as well. SWTOR is also interesting since it marks Bioware’s entry into the MMO genre, and I’m very very interested to see how well they are able to bring a focus on story over to a massively multi-player environment.

My biggest concern for 2010 is a repeat of the Warhammer effect on SWTOR.  Warranted or not there seem to be a lot of players who are expecting SWTOR to revolutionize MMOs, kill WoW, and possibly cure cancer. I hope I’m wrong, but I think that most of the gamers disappointed with 2009 will also be disappointed with 2010.

So here are my bullet points for the coming year. (more…)

Looking Back at 2009

I think 2009 was a good year for games, even MMOs. Sure WoW is still on top, Warhammer continues to struggle, there’s not been any revolutionizing innovation in the MMO genre, but I don’t really care about any of that. All of the games I started the year playing (EVE and LoTRO) I still enjoy, and I found a new game (Champions) that I like an expect to be playing through the whole of 2010. (more…)

2009 Q4 – Followup

Back in October I posted my goals for the remainder of the year. The short version was:

  1. Have a Drake in EVE for my main Blue Kae, Gallente Jack-of-all-trades.
  2. Max level hero in Champions.
  3. Finish Volume 1 of the epic quests in LoTRO on my main, Brynulf.

How did I do?


Blue Kae has the skills and certificates to fly a Drake, but not the money.  He has 4 million ISK in his wallet, and the current market price for a Drake in Sinq Laison starts at 25 million ISK. That’s not counting insurance and fittings. To be honest though, I’d completely forgotten that I’d set this goal until I started this article so I’m happy that my skills are met. I’ve been in skill training only mode for the last few months, although I did do a bit of mining recently.


This is another goal that I forgot I set for myself. Max level in Champions right now is 40, and my main hero, the Silver Hunter, is at 32. He’d probably actually be 40 by now if I hadn’t started two alts in November: the Ant (level 12) and Deadaim (level 17). Still, I’m not disappointed about missing this goal. I’m still enjoying the game and I’m sure that Silver Hunter will get to 40 soon™.


So I didn’t hit this goal either (which make me 0 for 3), but I got so close. Volume One has fifteen books in it and I’m on Book Fifteen which has twelve chapters. Want to guess what chapter I’m on? Yup, Chapter Twelve. To be completely honest, though, that’s much farther than I expected to be. I was only on Book Ten at mid-December. I happened to volunteer to help some kinmates out with an instance, which turned out to be part of Book Ten (but past where I was). After that instance, the kin group helped me get up to the same chapter and then we continued on to finish Book 10, then 11, then 12, all the way up to 15. So a big thanks to for all the help to Phebe, Telebrethil, Kelmric, Lylariel, and Daevin. I should actually finish Volume 1 this weekend, we have a kin fellowship planned for tonight so I may get to check this goal off only two days late.

So while I was 0% on my goals for the last three months of the year, I did have a great time gaming. I made more progress in LoTRO than I truly expected, and I’ve joined a great kinship (more on that later).

2009 Q4

My plans for the remainder of the year are to continue with Champions, Lord of the Rings Online, and Eve as my primary games.  Which ones I play will depend on what I’m looking for out of a given session.

Eve is my pickup and drop game.  I can take 30 minutes and do a mission, or I can do a little mining as a background task while I catchup on podcasts.

LoTRO is the one game I’ve ever made to max level.  Despite that, I’ve not finished either Volume 1 or 2 of the epic quests, which is my current goal for hunter Brynulf of Dale.

Champions is my new experiences game.  Of the three games I imagine I’ll be playing this one the most, for how long I’m not sure, but at least through the end of the year before I take a break.  Taking a break is fine too, since it and LoTRO are lifetime subscriptions so I don’t feel that pressure to get my month’s worth.

It will have been a good MMO year if I can finish it with: a Drake in Eve, having completed Volume 1 in LoTRO, and a max level hero in Champions.

Places I’ve Been

I have been compelled by Kirith Kodachi to post a map of my travels within EVE.  Unfortunately I’ve only explored a small fraction of the EVE universe. Full Map I was in EVE University briefly where I spent a short amount of time up on Korsiki. EVE University But most/all of my time is spent in the Sinq Laison region with some occasional trips through Essence and Every Shore. Home Like Kirith points out, once you have a base of operations setup you don’t normally stray far.  I don’t mind traveling, but I like to keep my assets organized and limited to a few stations.  This makes moving a pretty large undertaking.

I have a jumpclone and a shuttle setup for some day when I want to do a little sight-seeing maybe I’ll have to plan for that soon.


I’ve been enjoying EVE a lot.  Being a sandbox MMO, you really have to come up with your own goals in order to have fun, so it makes a nice complement to a more standard MMO like LoTRO (ignoring the whole scifi vs fantasy argument).

CCP does a great job keeping the game fresh and adding enhancements and fixing issues.  Case in point, I’ve been impressed with the scanning update in the Apocrypha release.  It is 1000 times more usable now that it was before.  I have scanned down a wormhole, and I did pop through briefly, but I’m not equiped to deal with sleepers and given that I’m still in an NPC corp I probably won’t be for quite some time.  The other new feature is the new player experience.  I am planning to create an alt and try out, but I’m holding off until I get DOW2 finished.

My only complaint with the Apocrypha rollout was getting it.  When I launched the EVE client, the patcher didn’t update.  The client wouldn’t login because it recognized an invalid build number.  I had to spend about an hour on the forums to find the manual download links for two patches.  I understand that problems happen, but there’s no excuse that the new patch links weren’t listed on the patching page.

Time Flies

Wow, has it been a month since I posted last?


While I have been finding some time to play, I haven’t had time to organize my thoughts enough to write anything.  Work has been especially crazy the last few weeks.  So, after working and spending time with my wife and son, I have just enough time to play some EVE or some LoTRO or some DOW2 before heading off to dreamland.

Dawn of War 2 is good.  I’m nearly finished with the single player campaign, and I’ve played a few multi-player matches against the CPU.  My concern about boss battles was totally misplaced, which I’m glad about.  I’m going to put together a more detailed review after I finish the single player campaign and try a few more multi-player matches, so stay tuned.

LoTRO is still fun.  I’m working my way through the rest of the current Volume 2 Books.  I’m currently on Book 4 and stuck on a fellowship quest.  Between trying to find a uninterrupted hour or two I can devote to playing and getting a pickup fellowship together, I might be stuck for a while.  Fortunately I’m not in any kind of rush, one of the best things about having a lifetime subscription is I don’t fret about not playing.

I’ve actually been spending most of my time playing EVE Online.  Mining and mission running are both excellent activities when I can only guarantee myself 20-30 minute blocks of play time.  If I’m not on baby duty, I know I can pickup a mission, finish it, and salvage it in a 10-15 minute play session.  I use a Vexor fitted with railguns and drones to steamroll through frigates.  If I can’t guarantee an uninterrupted play session, I’ll get out my Procurer mining barge and head out to the belts of Mirilene or some of the other nearby systems.  I can jetcan mine and relax without worrying about having to leave my keyboard for short stretches of time.

I do occasionally do level 2 missions, but I like minimizing my risks by taking a higher level ship than intended.  Towards that end, I’m training up my Battlecruiser skills and planning to get into a Brutix.  Including all of the support skills I’ve planned, I have about 30 days of training remaining.  I’m not in a hurry, though because I only have about 7 mil in my wallet and the cheapest Brutix I could find near my home was 21 mil.  The important thing with EVE is to have goals.

New Year Update

Nearly midway through January and I’ve barely posted.  Hmmmm. I have some articles I’m working on, but they aren’t ready yet, so let me just leave you with a quick rundown of what I’ve been playing:

  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Fallout 3
  • World of Goo
  • Fable 2
  • EVE Online

My EVE time has been solely limited to training since the end of December.  I had been doing a bit of mining both as a way to replenish my wallet and since its pretty easy to do when I’m busy with the baby.

Fable 2 has sat on the shelve since my initial run through.  I had started two more play-throughs intending to try out the other two endings, but no more progress on that (similar to my KoTOR and Mass Effect plans in the past).  I did pop in recently on my original character and buy up some more real estate with the funds he’d been saving up.

World of Goo is an awesome game. I highly recommend it if you haven’t already tried it, and for pity’s sake please buy it.  It’s not that expensive and its produced by a tiny developer.  If you don’t like DRM, this is a way to both vote with your wallet and have some fun.

My main two games since Christmas have been Fallout 3 and Lord of the Rings Online.  I had been playing Moria quite a bit up until the holidays, but took a week off from MMO’s to dig into Fallout 3 while I was on vacation.  It’s a good game although very empty, which I suppose is part of the point.  My only problem with this game is it reminds me of why I so rarely play shooters.

So since coming back to work on the 2nd, I’ve moved back to my primary game of the last six months.  I’ve advanced to level 56 with my hunter and am really enjoying my time with Moria.  My only disappointment so far with the game is how small of an area of Lothlórien is accessible.  I did a fun run from the Twenty-first Hall through Durin’s Way t o the First Hall and then out the eastern gate.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much to do east of the Misty Mountains yet.

So that’s been my gaming time for the year to date (really including time since mid-December).  Please stay tuned, there’s more comign shortly.