Expectations and Resolutions for 2013


In January 2012, I’d resolved to post directly to the blog more and edit less. I had an especially bad habit of leaving posts to languish in my drafts folder for months and then deleting them because they weren’t topical anymore. While I did get better about editing, I didn’t post straight to the blog much at all. So I’m renewing the same resolution to be more brave about my posting in the coming year. At least that’s going to be my excuse for any typos people point out.

Upcoming Games

There are a few MMOs that I’m anticipating:

  • City of Steam
  • Defiance
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Neverwinter

City of Steam is my novelty game. It’s a steampunk setting with a F2P model using a browser client. I missed a few chances to play in the closed beta, so I can’t say anything about how it plays. I’m a little concerned that they’re relying on just the setting to differentiate the game from other MMOs instead of trying to refine and improve the genre standard mechanics, but that’s based on superficial research on my part.

I’m pulling for Defiance partly because it’s by Trion. I’ve continued to be a fan of how Trion’s developed Rift even after I wasn’t actively subscribing to it (although I did resubscribe when the Storm Legion expansion was announced), and I’d like to see them continue to succeed. The other reason I’m hoping it does well is there’s a real dearth of science-fiction MMOs and I’m hoping this one doesn’t suffer the same fate as Tabula Rasa. I really don’t think that’s likely, considering how invested both Trion and SyFy are in the game and tie-in television series.

Elder Scrolls Online is my dark horse game. I was originally pretty pessimistic about the game’s chances, but my opinion has since become more optimistic based on developer interviews. Of course talk is cheap so who knows if ESO will fly or fall, but I’m hoping that it does well just so I can explore Tamriel more widely than I’ve been able to do in Skyrim.

Of all of the upcoming MMOs, Neverwinter is the only one that I’m genuinely excited for. Prior to going to GenCon this summer, this game was in the I’ll-play-it-when-it-comes-out category but I was really impressed with out beautiful the demo was. The environments were detailed and interesting, and the animations were fluid. The gameplay itself was very action oriented, and reminded me slightly of Torchlight and Gauntlet. Add all that to a supercharged version of the Foundry software that’s currently in Star Trek Online, and I’m not only excited to play the game Cryptic is making but also see what kinds of modules players build. There’ve been some really excellent missions done in STO and I hope that Neverwinter will inspire the same amount of creativity in it’s players.


Outside of those few new games, this year is going to be all about the backlog. Anyone want to take bets on how long that lasts?


Champions Online has been making a lot of changes and I really want to roll up a brand new hero to see what’s changed with the game since 2011. I know there’s lots of new powers and custom pieces, plus they recently added vehicles, and have just started hinting a some big new content releases.

Lord of the Rings Online has the whole Riders of Rohan expansion that I’ve not touched yet, plus I still have about a third of the Rise of Isengard expansion to finish.

Rift has had a huge amount of new content added, I just need to sit down and force myself to rebuild all of the roles that’ve been reset on my Mage.


Even though I completed Dishonored, I was working on replaying a few missions with full stealth/zero kills. I’d also still like to do a second playthrough as more of an assassin than a ghost, but I’m going to bump that down to the bottom of my list for the year.

I’d only gotten through about a third of A Game of Dwarves before I was distracted by some other game.

I haven’t played that last three DLCs for Mass Effect 3.

I never got back to Skyrim last year like I intended, not to mention there’s been one major DLC released for the PC with another one announced.

I’ve barely gotten into Torchlight 2.

I loved the demo for XCOM enough to preorder the game, but I haven’t launched it since it released. I played Dishonored first since I wanted to make sure I finished that, and got distracted before I could even start XCOM.

Plus from my Steam there’s Orcs Must Die 1 & 2, Legend of Grimrock, Anno 2070, SPAZ, and the Back to the Future series all of which barely makes a dent. I also have a few Kickstarter backed games that are in or nearing the beta stages that I want to contribute playtime to like Castle Story, Timber and Stone, and the Banner Saga multiplayer.

Other Hobbies and My 2013 Resolution

Outside of games, I also have some more Star Trek ship models to assemble and paint, plus my long suffering Nanowrimo novel from 2010 that I still want to finish.

Having so little free time with so many demands is the core of what I want to work on this year. I’ve been in the habit of surfing along with my moods and interests and just spending time on games and projects as my id dictated. While there’s not really anything bad about going with the flow like that, it hasn’t been good for finishing projects. So this year I’m actually making lists of games and other projects I want to finish and sorting them in the order I want to tackle them with the intention of focusing on one at a time. I’ve already had some success at that, since that’s basically how I’ve finished all three Mass Effect games, Red Dead Redemption, and Dishonored. My problems nearly always stem from trying to multi-task between games and other hobbies.

Wish me luck.

Very impressive, Trion.

While I was a disappointed in Rift’s PvP news (totally because of my own uninformed assumptions), I’m excited about today’s announcement of the Storm Legion expansion. Specifically the part where they mention 10 more levels, one new soul for each Calling, and tripling the size of the map.

Despite my best intentions, I always lose interest in a game once I hit level cap. There are a few games where I continue on, Star Trek Online is one of the few where I continue to play for content, both Cryptic-made and  Foundry. Back in January, I was sure I wouldn’t be returning to Telara, but now I imagine I’ll be spending a bit more time there when this expansion releases. I have to hand it to Trion, they really do an amazing job of releasing content. They make all of the other studios look lazy by comparison.

New Rift PvP is not what I was expecting.

When I first heard the news that Trion was adding three faction PvP, my assumption was that they were adding a third faction to the game à la Dark Age of Camelot. The reality is quite a bit different. I’m disappointed, but it’s really my own fault. I think it’s because of the recent Elder Scrolls Online news combined with Trion’s reputation for putting out insanely large and rapid content updates. The silver lining though, is now I’m not as tempted to resubscribe to Rift.

Basically, they’re adding a new PvP map based on Stillmoor where you join up with one of three factions. Each faction comes from an alternate version of Telara, and each has a different philosophy of the purpose of Ascended. It’s a three-way battle over control points between the Ram (believing the Ascended should rule), the Lion (see the Ascended as protectors), and the Raven (think the Ascended should ascend further). It actually does sound interesting, but it’s not enough of a draw for me to go back to the game at the moment.

Looking Forward to 2012


Before I get into what games I’m looking forward to, I wanted to mention some personal and blog related things. My wife and I are expecting our second little Kae to show up sometime in June. I’m sure that’s going to kill any time I have to play MMOs for a few months. I really dislike logging into an MMO, when I don’t know if I’m going to get pulled away at a second’s notice. When my son was born, I focused mostly on single player games, since I could pause it and go do father things without worrying about ruining anyone else’s game.

Not playing MMOs will either mean that this blog goes silent for a few months, or you’ll see tons of posts as I’ll have lots of time to read, think, and write.


Last year, I tried an experiment with posting consistently on week days. I wasn’t perfect about it, but I did well enough to consider it a success. I stopped doing that mid-summer though once it started to take the fun out of writing. I don’t regret doing it though as I developed some good habits and even got to the point where I started to feel antsy if I hadn’t written anything by the end of the day. Kind of like those healthy people who talk about missing the gym. I guess anyway, I’ve never felt that.

Anyway, this year I’m trying a new experiment. I write a lot from my phone and from work, basically anytime that I get an urge to put pixels on a screen. Most of the time though, those posts go into the draft folder and never emerge. I always intend to edit and publish them that night, yet rarely ever do. So this year, I’m going to try skipping the editing stage as much as possible. After all, if there are any really stupid grammar or spelling mistakes, I’m going to be much more motivated to fix them if the article is public, and this way I’ll not have any regrets about not getting an opinion or idea out in a timely fashion.

So now you know, if the blog stays empty it’s just because I have no ideas and not because I’m a lazy self-editor. Finally, let’s talk about some games.


This is the first year in a while, that I’m not really looking forward to much. Mass Effect 3 is basically my whole list for the year.

I believe this is a good thing though, because my backlog of unfinished, never played, and never installed games is getting embarrassingly massive. I still haven’t gone back to Skyrim and finished my first play through. I have the last DLC for Mass Effect 2 to finish. I’ve barely touched Minecraft since the 1.0 release in November. Then there’s my Steam library, let’s just not even start on that.

So while there’s not much new I’m looking forward to, I’m still excited for single-player and offline gaming this year.



While I do still have an active subscription, I’m not planning on renewing it in April. As I mentioned in my 2001 review, I had a ton of fun with the game, but between feeling so behind with all of the content updates and most of my friends playing other MMOs, I have no interest in going back.

Champions Online

I fully expect to keep playing in Millennium City off and on as Cryptic adds new story missions and new power sets. Honestly, I’ve already started eyeing the launcher as they’ve added some cool new costume options recently as well as the Earth and Wind power sets. The cool thing about this game is I have no expectations for the coming year, so I’ll enjoy whatever comes.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’m playing a ton of TOR right now. I have a Jedi Knight Guardian in the mid 40’s (level cap is 50) and am nearing the end of the story missions. This means I’ll hit the mythical end-game soon. Generally when I do that, I start an alt and lose interest in repeating content after a few days. This is followed by moving on to another game. With TOR, I’m hoping that having some fresh class missions will be enough to keep me interested and get a second character to 50. We’ll see if BioWare manages a first in my gaming history.

Interestingly, I’m already feeling like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of TOR, so if I do end up cancelling my subscription, I’m not going to feel bad about it. I suppose that because the game really has felt like playing KotOR 3.

Looking at the rest of the year, I hope to still be playing in June but I kind of doubt it given my history at level cap. Obviously once the baby get’s here, all bets are off.

Lord of the Rings Online

After taking most of the year off and then getting in a solid month, LotRO has been on hold since November. First it was Skyrim and then it was TOR keeping me from playing. Eventually, I’ll return to Middle-Earth and resume my hunter Brynulf’s journey into the Gap of Rohan. It may well be the fall, but it seems like I always go back to LotRO eventually, and that makes me happy.

Star Trek Online

After an extremely rough year, I really hope that STO turns things around. The F2P launch is happening (today actually), and the long awaited Featured Episode Series Four is coming as part of the second anniversary of the game.

Past February, I want to see a permanent Executive Producer hired and I really want to see the monthly Engineering Reports and Ask Cryptics restarted. I know there have been a few new hires since the PWE acquisition, but I’d like to see the team continue to grow, and start seeing that investment payoff in more regular updates of new features and new story missions. If we get to December and have seen Featured Episode Series 4, 5, and 6, I’ll be very happy. If not three FE’s (which D’Angelo doesn’t think is likely), then I want to see more single mission story content added.

One thing I do want to clarify though, I’m not at all disappointed or upset with the Star Trek development team at Cryptic. I think they’ve done as much as possible given some pretty difficult situations over the last six months (if not longer).

Looking Back at 2011


Last January, I wan’t looking forward to much on the Xbox. In fact, there were just two games: Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Akham City. Unfortunately Mass Effect 3 was delayed, but Akham City more than made up for that. The game had everything I loved about the first Batman game but added improvements, and even though I’ve finished the game, I still pop it into my console occasionally to beat on some thugs.

Outside of Arkham City, my Xbox didn’t get much playtime, which I guess is why it decided to red-ring on me in December. I had hoped by waiting through the first few manufacturing runs and getting an Elite, that I had dogged all of the overheating problems with Microsoft’s console. I was wrong. The repair process was relatively painless: go online and submit a repair request, print out a label, box and ship it out. I just wish it hadn’t cost me $99.


The PC had a few more titles I was excited about: Minecraft, Portal 2, Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2 – Retribution (could the title be any longer?), and Warhammer 40k: Space Marine. Well okay, Minecraft was a bit of a cheat since it was pretty much already released. Portal 2 was as good as I hoped it would be, and I got to have some extra fun by playing through the co-op version with MMOGamerChickDoW Retribution I’ve barely touched. I really really loved the original Dawn of War games, but the shift in focus from base building to boss battles has soured me a bit on the franchise. Space Marine made up for my disappointment in Retribution though, the game was over the top gory fun. Some people may try to tell you that using a chainsword on an Ork get’s old, but they’re lying to you.

Unlike with Xbox, this last year also had two big surprises for me on the PC platform. First there was the colossal disappointment of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This was a game I was not anticipating in the slightest, but ended up buying because of the wave of good press and excitement from friends. Unfortunately, I only put five hours into it before running headlong into a boss battle geared for the exact opposite type of character that I was playing. I realize I’m in the minority opinion on this game, but I still strongly believe that you don’t build a game around choice and then take it away during the central moments of the game.

The second big surprise happened in exactly the same way, but with opposite results. Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim was another game that I wasn’t anticipating at all. Like DXHR, I hadn’t played any of the earlier games in the series, and even though the screenshots looked good and I thought I might like it, I was wary of letting myself get sucked along with the ground again. In the end, I did end up going ahead and getting it, and I’m so glad I did. Skyrim has been a Minecraft-like experience for me (which is ironic given the legal battle between the companies). Just like I got sucked completely into Minecraft last year and played nothing else for months, my gaming time was wholly subsumed by Skyrim. Today, I’ve put 117 hours into just one single-player game. One hundred and seventeen hours. That is incredible, considering a good single-player game usually lasts me no more than 40 (like Red Dead Redemption or Arkham City). But even more incredible is that after more than a hundred hours, I’m not even halfway through the main story line.

PC was much more exciting this year than I thought it would be. I’m not sure that 2012 will be though, but I’ll save that for later.



Trion had the perfect situation this year. From January to November, they had the only new major MMO title. I think they capitalized in it very well too. They’ve been continually releasing new content and making tuning changes. Honestly if anything, I think Trion’s proved it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. They’ve been updating the game so much, that when I came back after a month away, it felt like I’d been gone for six months or more.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

BioWare ended up releasing much later in the year than I expected. This ended up being a good thing both because they had more time to get things right, but also because they managed to get through the hype backlash I was expecting before release (or even beta). There’s not too much more I can say about TOR as far as 2011 goes beyond I got in at launch, had no problems, have seen no queues, and am immensely enjoying the Jedi Knight story line.

Champions Online

Champions has been a fun game to hop into of f and on over the year, especially the few times I’ve gotten to play with Scott. The game had a successful F2P launch and has released some good story content with their first Comic Series and a third Adventure Pack. While I haven’t had that original love of the game rekindle, I’m sure I’ll continue to login anytime I get an urge to play superheroes.

Lord of the Rings Online

Last year, I was feeling pretty down on LotRO. The F2P conversion caused an explosion of gold store buttons in the interface that just got under my skin. My disinterest continued for most of the year, including well into the development cycle for Rise of Isengard. It wasn’t until I saw a developer diary with some video about the making of Orthanc for the game, that I had any interest in returning to Middle-Earth.

Once I got back in the game, I was motivated enough to finish Volume 2 of the Epic Quests, get caught up on Volume 3 in Enedwaith, and charge on towards Isengard. I didn’t make it to level cap before Skyrim started dominating my playtime, but I was really happy with the new work Turbine has done on the game and I’ve finally trained myself to not see the store buttons.

Star Trek Online

And lastly, we come to the MMO that I’ve had both the most and least fun with during 2011.

The game started out very well. We had an anniversary event, an excellent renovation of Earth Spacedock, and then a third Featured Episode Series, Cloaked Intentions. The Series 3 was the best one so far and featured great missions, fun voice work, and the music from Amok Time.

Unfortunately, that was the high point of the year. We did get the Foundry followed by a good revamp of ground combat in Season Four, but we also got Atari selling Cryptic, Dan Stahl leaving the Executive Producer role, Free-to-Pay announced, and no new story missions.

Whether it was Dan leaving, the change in ownership from Atari to Perfect World, or the announced F2P transition, the high level of communication and transparency that I loved in 2010 has vanished. The last Engineering Report was released in August, with no word about if or when it’s coming back. The last Ask Cryptic was in September. Granted, the temporary Executive Producer Stephen D’Angelo did write a lot of blogs during the F2P development, but I found them pretty thin on details.

Overall, it’s been a disappointing year for me in STO. I guess I have to have at least one MMO to be down on at the end of every year.

Back in the saddle again.

Despite my best intentions, I didn’t log into Rift until Thursday evening. It turned out to be excellent timing though since I noticed a guildie was standing next to me when my Mage, Kae, appeared in Meridian. One with a familiar name. A quick check of the guild roster confirmed it was my good friend MMO GamerChick. What are the odds that the first time I log into Rift in weeks that I’m standing next to someone I know.

Any-who, GC and I chatted a bit and she ran me through the cake quest before heading off to bed. I spent the rest of the hour I played restoring my PvE Stormcaller/Elementalist/Dominator role back together. My other two roles (Healer and PvP) were reset as well, but I didn’t bother with them. I want to research Chloromancers before I rebuild my healing role, and I was never really happy with my PvP role so I don’t mind just starting from scratch.

I also checked in on my alts. My Warrior and Rogue were fine but my Cleric was reset as well. Fortunately a reset at level 18 is much easier to deal with than it is at 50 and i quickly had my Shaman/Inquisitor/Warden back up to speed.

So now that my characters are playable it’s time to see the world. With the XP boosts available until the end of the month, I don’t want to spend too much time with Kae, but he’s my main and I want to make sure that any limited time titles or pets that I get, I get for him.

So this weekend I hope to revisit my favorite places in Telara with Kae before exercising my alts and getting some levels on each of them. All three are around 18. I find it easier to switch between classes if I’m always in the same general area. Between rested XP and the half-iversay event bonuses maybe I can get them all up to 28?

Feel free to leave me any suggestions for things to see and do.

Too much of a good thing?

I was very impressed with the speed and quality with which Trion updated Rift for the first several months after it launched. World events, new types of rifts, and even a cosmetic system were all added much faster than I expected or hoped. Now that I’m contemplating logging in after a couple of months off, I’m starting to see the negative side of Trion’s incredible productivity.

In the past, when LotRO was newer and development on the game was more active, I could take six months off and still get back up to speed quickly on the changes. After only two months in Rift, I feel like I’m treading in some deep water. There’s new dungeons, tons of class changes, and my roles have all been reset.

I guess it is possible to have too much of a good thing, but it beats the alternative.

Vistas of Telara: Droughtlands

I didn’t start doing panoramic screenshots until after I’d finished questing in the Droughtlands. A story quest I was following sent me back to Harlan’s Lament, though and I took the opportunity to get a nice shot of Lantern Hook and Shimmersand’s Flatyard.

(click on the image for a full-size version)

Grab Bag

Today was an oddly busy news day for a Friday.

Champions Online

I’ve been wondering for weeks now if Poz was still running the Champions Team over at Cryptic. He hadn’t posted on the forums in weeks and the level of communication from the team had really deteriorated. So, I wasn’t surprised by this announcement that Poz hitting the pause button. The thing that’s odd about the news is it’s half written like Poz is on vacation and half like he’s left the company. Rob Overmeyer is taking over, which is also not a surprise since he did the excellent follow-up Ask Cryptic for April.

Besides the (possibly temporary) change in management, Cryptic also posted a new Costumes and Concepts page. The Champions team is going to use this page to give players a peak at upcoming costume designs and get feedback. I really like this idea and hope they keep it up to date. Costumes are a major part of the superhero genre, and the more Cryptic can add to the game the better. Plus. it opens more lines of communication between the development team and the players, and I’m all for increased communication.

Star Trek Online

The other half of Cryptic’s been busy too.

The Breen Featured Episode rerun is underway and offers players who missed out the first time a chance to get the Breen Bridge Officer. The team’s also added a new equipment set, so player’s who’ve already been through the FE have some incentive to go back. I really like the idea of reruns while we’re waiting on Season 4 to come out, of course I’d like new FE’s better but this will help pass the time a bit.

Besides the reruns, Cryptic released a massive Ask Cryptic for May. Fifty good questions and nice detailed answers by Executive Producer Dan Stahl. Here’s some of the highlights, although you should still go read it yourself:

  • Some big new Borg-related coming, including a revamp similar to what the Romulans got.
  • Rare particle traces are getting their own icons. I know this sounds minor, but when I return to Spacedock and I have a row of rare traces in my inventory, it is so slow to hover over each to figure out which one stacks where.
  • Season 5 will focus on End Game and Fleets.
  • Featured Episode series 4 doesn’t have a release date yet. Stahl is talking like they want to make sure they’re setup for a consistent FE schedule with two weeks between each before series 4 comes out.
  • Despite the possible delay in FE4, Dan said, “The next”content release may not be a feature episode, but something bigger.” So maybe we’ll may see some type of expansion similar to the Season 2: Ancient Enemies?

One other thing I wanted to mention. It feels like the team has a big content change coming related to the Borg. Stahl mentioned that they were getting a graphical and mechanic overall like the Romulans got in FE3. He also mentioned that the Undine would be back but not before the Borg “make their move” which he hinted could happen before FE4. Lastly, Stahl answered a question about the Gorn Rebellion by mentioning it depends on whether or not their homeworld get’s assimilated.

I also feel like I should mention that Cryptic announced the winning design for the Enterprise-F. Apparently there was some voting done by the community a while back and the fan-favorite isn’t even on the Runners Up list. This of course has resulted in a fifty (when I wrote this) page thread full of nerd rage, trolling, and pleas for sanity. I don’t recommend reading them, except to check out Stahl’s follow up posts herehere, and here. Personally, I like the winning design more than the one some of the community is upset about.


Finally, I wanted to highlight a post on the forums by Producer Scott Hartsman regarding character names on RP servers. I generally don’t look at the Rift forums outside of the dev tracker, so I’m not informed at all on the “excitement” Scott’s referring to. I’m inferring from his post though, that there’s been some kind of drama over character names. Which doesn’t surprise me much. Were the server not marked as RP in the launcher, I’d have no idea based on the high number of immersion jarring character names I see running around. I try to keep an open mind about it, but I’m pleased to see Trion talking about clarifying what the naming policy is on RP servers. I’ll be even more pleased (and a little shocked) if they’re enforced.