Technically Alpha

I Need an Off Switch

There are times I absolutely hate that my wife can sleep through almost anything, and get to sleep so easily.  There is this thing she does that drives me insane, where right before sleep she winds up my brain by revealing some tidbit of knowledge that my mind takes the next hour and a half to digest before it allows me to go to sleep.  Over the week we have had a really sick cat, and are treating her for her hyperthyroidism with a cream that I have to rub into her ear twice daily.  She is getting better, but doing so very very slowly, so I had planned on calling the vet this morning to see if she needs to be seen again.  Moments before my wife went into her nightly coma, she dropped the bombshell that she is not sure that “Little Shit” has been peeing.

Not only did this wake me up, but I went into a full blown panic attack playing the “what if her kidneys are shutting down game”.  There was absolutely nothing I could do to calm down and I was up half the night literally… I finally laid down around 2:00 and drifted off to sleep about thirty minutes later when “little shit” decided to join us in bed.  Her constant purring I guess clamed me down, because she “seemed fine”.  This morning one crisis was adverted when I saw her pee in a place she isn’t supposed to, and another one started when she vomited and there were little red spots in the mixture that looked suspiciously like blood.  All the while I am envious of the fact that my wife can sleep on command, and I end up fighting incessantly to get the few hours a night I end up getting.  There was one night this week, that I thought was a “normal sleep” and my fitbit told me I had 32 periods of restlessness throughout the course of the evening.

Woah We’re Halfway There

I guess that is a bit misleading since dinging level 30 is by no means halfway to 60 effort wise… but it is at least numerically!  Once again I engaged in leveling my Night Elf Mage while hanging out with friends on mumble.  These are starting to feel a bit like impromptu podcasts, since we end up talking about the days gaming news and various sundry bits of geeky information.  We seem to talk about everything other than the game I happen to be playing at the moment I am streaming.  Originally my intent was to stream some Landmark last night, however the servers did not come back up until the wee hours in the morning.  I know this because I also streamed some of that during my panic attack state to try and calm the hell down.

All in all as much as I hate to admit it, I am starting to like playing a mage.  I am beginning to feel more useful in dungeons now that I have some semblance of an AOE in the form of Cone of Cold.  It is still not my preferred method of game play, but I am not absolutely disliking the experience of pushing this character to 60.  Yesterday the Godmother of Faff herself, @AlternativeChat posted about a new contest of sorts.  The idea is with all the boosting going on, to level your way to 90 proudly with purpose.  While I am fully in support of this notion, I am not sure if I qualify for it.

I currently have 6 90s, 2 85+, 2 70+, and my baby mage that my intent was to push to 60 and boost the rest of the way to 90.  I feel like I have experienced the leveling content in World of Warcraft more times than most players.  So I don’t really feel any shame in using my free boost to jump the character class I am least likely to play to the finish line.  However I do feel that most of the folks who have never had a 90, and are using their boost to get there are missing something in the process.  Some of the quests you have to struggle through along the way become a shared cultural experience.  As much as I hate the “poop” quests of Burning Crusade, I like that I did them and shared in the same frustration as other players.  Maybe that is an odd thing to say, but there are very few moments that all players have experienced.  Anyways… you should definitely check out the post that sparked this discussion.

Like There is No Tomorrow

Also on the docket of last nights streaming, I decided to take a break from the mage after dinging 30 and play some Wildstar.  In truth, once again I checked to see if the Landmark servers were back up yet… and since they were not, I opted to play the thing with the most current NDA drop.  I have to say there are certain aspects of the game that are growing on me.  The “soldier” archetype and the quests associated have definitely nailed my personal style of game play.  Namely… explore the world and kill everything that gets in my path.  Once again the “impromptu podcast” aspect of my streams continued as we discussed lots of gaming tidbits.  I have literally considered stripping the audio from these videos and stitch them together into a podcast.

This is what nights on mumble are usually like, as we discuss more than just what we happen to be playing at any given time.  I still am not really used to hearing my own voice yet, but I will get over that.  As far as Wildstar goes… I cover this in the video, but after this weekend the Beta is significantly changing.  Up until this point I have had essentially 24/7 access to the servers, and feel like I have generally squandered that by not playing.  Once this change occurs I am honestly not sure what kind of access I will have.  I know preordering gives you something, but I do not believe that we will keep fulltime access unless we have a 32+ character when the transition happens.  Additionally I think those players will be unable to progress past level 17.  The whole scenario is rather complicated, and I am not sure yet if I really grasp it.  As the thread says, the only sign of a successful compromise is that no one is happy.

No Sleep Til…  Landmark!

I had attempted to sleep for about thirty minutes, and then I realized that I was on the verge of going full blown panic attack… I opted to get up for a bit to try and calm myself with the dulcet tones of gaming.  Generally speaking in the past when I have needed to relax like this I would play Minecraft, and since Landmark is my new Minecraft…  I was thankful the servers were back online.  I figured while I was running around anyways, I might as well stream some of it.  I didn’t broadcast the fact I was doing so, because really I did not intend to be entertaining or talkative.  What the video does show however is the inside of my claim and my latest project… completely redoing the dungeon.  I have to admit at this point… it had been a few weeks since I had played Landmark.

Essentially I had gone high center on some of the crafting requirements.  In order for me to get better machines and better tools it involved absolutely silly amounts of Burled Wood farming.  For those of you who need a refresher, Burled Wood was a rare drop from almost any tree.  You originally needed 100 to make a single Burled Wood plank, and then most of these extremely high end crafting machines and tools required 50 or more of these planks.  This was one of the worst RNG grinds you could imagine.  I simply reached a point where I could not bring myself to chop down the number of trees that it would need to get the things crafted that I wanted crafted.

Thankfully in yesterdays patch they completely turned this mechanic up on end.  Now when chopping down trees they drop a single guaranteed “Heartwood” drop, with a rare chance of dropping more than one at a time.  These are now the items needed to craft machinery and tools, and Burled Wood has been relegated to a “lesser” and also more reliable drop crafting material off of certain trees.  What this means is if you need 27 Heartwood, you know that you will have to farm a maximum of 27 trees to craft that item.  Even if you need 90 Heartwood…  still having a fixed point that you have to farm is so much better than relying entirely on luck to get the drops you need to complete your projects.  Thank you so much for taking this one back to the drawing board.

Technically Alpha

Play 2014-03-14 00-40-29-95 Another very exciting thing happened yesterday…  I received an invite to the Heroes of the Storm technical alpha.  One of the more interesting tidbits about this, is that there is apparently no NDA.  We can blog about it, stream it… do whatever we want, with the caveat that we treat it like the alpha that it is.  I am perfectly fine with this notion because I have been looking forward to “HotS” as it is lovingly referred to… for some time.  Essentially Heroes seems to be set up to fix one of the problems I have with League of Legends.  I am all about team play, and when I am playing as a team I only really care about the end objective… our win.  When I play shooters I tend to be heavily objective and role based shooters that focus on the win condition and not individual player stats.

So much of the way game play works in League seems to be counter intuitive to playing as a team.  Progression is almost solely based on personal performance, not performance of the team.  One of the most frustrating mechanics I have experienced is that of “last hitting”, and this concept is entirely gone from Heroes of the Storm.  Granted I don’t have a lot of first hand experience with the game play… since I did not realize I even HAD access to the Alpha until about 1 am in the full force of my panic attack.  I think I made it about halfway through the tutorial before I made another futile attempt to sleep.  So far everything feels like I expect it to, and the tutorial character of Raynor was rather fun to play.  I look forward to cracking this open and experiencing the content for real over the weekend.  I hope to stream some of it, but with the last beta weekend going on in Elder Scrolls Online… not sure how much of that will actually happen.

Wildstar Impressions

The NDA Drop

WildStar64 2014-03-12 21-23-23-03 The big news from yesterday is that Wildstar dropped the NDA and announced an official launch date and that preorders start March 19th.  I have been in closed beta testing for quite some time now, and as a result have tried my best to maintain radio silence about the title.  I have occasionally referred to it as “that space game” when I absolutely needed to, but generally speaking it is just safer not to say anything at all.  Granted I have not played a ton of hours, in part because the game really doesn’t move me to play a ton of hours.  Every so often there is a game that just doesn’t feel “right” to me, and Wildstar falls into that category firmly.  Of note the other major release that also did was Guild Wars 2 and a few days ago I wrote about my feelings there.

For a long while I simply had trouble playing the game.  For whatever reason there was a specific graphical glitch that would cause my frame rate to absolutely tank.  So the game itself became extremely hard to play at 5 frames per second.  However the last several builds have fixed the issue and I have tried to poke my head in several times to continue to give it the old college try.  In part much like with Guild Wars 2, I keep wanting to try and figure out what everyone sees in this game that is so spectacular.  For a long while segments of my friends list have been completely devoted to it.  Combine that with the fact that a friend of mine now works for Carbine… and I really want to know what it is about this game that makes it special.

The Las Vegas Strip

WildStar64 2014-03-13 06-05-29-86 One of the things that distracts me about the game is just how “busy” it is.  The design ethic the Carbine has employed is one where something is going on in every possible corner of every screen.  So the above picture is on the Dominion starship, and while you can’t really get the full effect in a still frame, there is literally motion everywhere.  While this makes the game feel more dynamic and alive, it also makes the game feel a bit like the Las Vegas strip, with lights and sounds and motion everywhere.  While playing I get a sort of sensory overload most of the time.  This would be fine if this was just a city phenomena, but even when you are out in the world there are doodads and holograms floating about waiting to be clicked on.  The “more is more” design ethic almost gives me a headache at times.

The characters are well crafted, and the voice acting is at times extremely good… and even when it is not it is at least passable.  One of the weird disconnects is that the dialog the npcs are voicing, rarely syncs up with what is actually saying in the chat box.  So this adds a bit to the feeling of too much going on screen, since I have to watch the chat box and listen to the npc at the same time.  Additionally the UI feels like it needs a bit of work, namely in the minimap.  I find it hard to determine where I need to go to reach my next objective without constantly opening the main map.  There are symbols and indicators on the minimap, but it is simply not clear to me what they mean.  I have not really noticed something akin to an arrow off one side of the map to show me where the next quest I have highlighted is.

Confused Control Scheme

WildStar64 2014-03-12 21-33-30-45 The game employs a rather unique combat style, in that the game does not rely heavily on hard targets but instead involves a lot of cone and arc based attacks that fire in front of the character hitting everything in the path.  This in itself is really cool, but the experience while playing the game feels really odd to me.  I feel as though Wildstar really wanted to be an action combat MMO, but stopped just one step short of doing so.  For a long while I was using an addon that allowed you to toggle on permanent mouselook, and it drastically improved my enjoyment of the game.  I feel like the game overall would be more enjoyable if it had a control scheme more like Neverwinter or Elder Scrolls Online, where mouselook controls the view and primary attacks are on left and right mouse buttons with a targeting reticle in the center of the screen.

The combat itself feels too busy for the wow style movement interface.  Maybe this is not as evident with the games ranged classes, but as a melee class I feel like I am always working at cross purposes to get out of the big red “stupid” on the ground, while still trying to keep my attack facing at the right target at the right time.  Controlling the game makes me feel like I should have an extra pair of hands.  Last night when I streamed for a bit, I did not bother downloading the latest version of my mouselook addon, and it greatly diminished my enjoyment.  Since it is not likely that we will see an action combat interface this far from launch, it would be great if they simply added in the ability to turn on perma-mouselook by default instead of having to rely on a third party addon for it.

Extremely Content Dense

Last night I had all sorts of technical difficulties, so I ended up getting a late start.  As a result I did not stream for terribly long… and for whatever reason Twitch decided to stop recording 20 minutes into the stream.  However you can see enough footage to get a feel of the game.  I feel like I have been a “wet blanket” so far this morning, but I don’t really intend to be.  This is just one of the few MMOs that I was not immediately in love with… and like usual I keep trying to figure out why.  One of the big positives is that the game itself is EXTREMELY content dense.  While this gives the game the busy, almost migraine inducing characteristics… this also means there is a hell of a lot of stuff to do.  I was swimming through a lake at one point last night, and ended up engaging a lake race minigame similar to the one in Moonshade Highlands in Rift.

Similarly there are always “hold the line” type events out in the wild where you help the citizens of an area defend against baddies.  So the game itself is exceedingly rich and for 100%ers it will take you a long time to unlock all of the secrets in an area before moving on to the next.  Problem being, I have not been a “must get all the achievements” person for a really long time.  However I do find myself wanting to do the little combat challenges along the way as I unlock them.  In the video above I kill a single snail and find out that I need to kill a certain number within a time limit to get a bonus prize.  My goal from that point on became finding more snails so I could get the doodad.  The bonus prizes are never that good, but just the fact that I get to kill stuff with a purpose is enough for me to enjoy it.

Extremely Torn

WildStar64 2014-03-12 22-12-38-45 Right now I am completely up in the air as to whether or not I will play this game.  There are certain aspects I really like, and certain aspects that turn me completely off about it.  It is like a pair of ill fitting shoes, that look really cool… but no matter how many times you wear them they just don’t quite fit.  At this point I am not sure if I could honestly say what would need to change to make me love the game.  I plan to keep playing the beta off and on and seeing if I can reach a point where the game just feels like magic.  I think if I can ever reach the housing system, that may in fact be the hook for me.  I do love that as I am out and about in the world various housing things can drop.  The gameplay is not “un-fun” but it is not the type of thing that just drives me to play more and more of it.

Right now the biggest deterrent to playing is the price tag and the subscription that goes in tow.  I have no problem with a subscription model, in fact I tend to prefer them for a game I am really serious about.  The problem is, Wildstar is not a title I am extremely serious about.  Were it like Guild Wars 2 where I could pre-order my copy and play it at my leisure with no strings attached I would gladly do so and have my order in on day one.  However knowing that I have 30 days to decide if I like the game well enough to continue playing, means I really need to time playing the game in the first place during a time when I have a lull in other games.  The June launch date is likely too close to Elder Scrolls for me to really get into it seriously.  I think they are planning to pick up the people for whom ESO was not that great of an experience, and also grab the people who are tired of waiting on Warlords of Draenor to launch.

Wish Them Luck

WildStar64 2014-03-12 22-07-35-97 Ultimately I wish them the best of success.  I still stand by the statement that I have made multiple times that we need a lot more success in the MMO world in whatever form it comes.  Specifically we need more stable games that are not named “Warcraft”.  When a game launches, specially one with friends working on the staff…  I feel personally invested in its success.  I feel like they are launching at the best possible time this year.  I just hope they have enough time to set their hooks into players because Warlords of Draenor comes along and pulls people back into a new World of Warcraft adventure.  I feel like so many games are vying for the same pool of players that has not really gotten much larger over the years.  Someone is going to lose as a result of this, and my fear is this game is more likely than anything to pull players away from Rift than it is from WoW.

It’s Okay to Not Like Things

WoW Getting a Gatekeeper

Back in the beginning of January I crafted a post talking about how much I enjoyed The Gatekeeper encounter in The Secret World and how I felt it was a good thing to have in a game.  I extrapolated this further and said that World of Warcraft really needed a similar Gatekeeper mechanic.  At the time they had the proving grounds but they were universally ignored by players.  Based on a post from Watcher on the forums… it seems like Blizzard is thinking along these lines as well.  If I had to build a requirement for queuing for random heroics, I would have said that more than likely it would need Silver or better in the proving grounds in a specific role.  Turns out based on that post, it seems Blizzard was thinking the exact same thing.  Will this usher in a new area of better pugging?  Honestly I am not sure.

The biggest thing that I do like from the statement is that the requirement is apparently completely ignored with a prebuilt group.  This means you will still be able to carry your friends through the heroics to help gear them up.  Those friends will just have to meet the proving grounds on their own if they want to be turned loose out into the wild.  In the grand scheme of things this is just raising the bar on the heroics, but not really doing anything to fix the social causes for me not wanting to queue for them randomly.  Without a “social justice” system similar to that of League of Legends or Final Fantasy XIV people will still be as big of dicks as they are today.  It really is a catch 22…  folks complain that no tanks want to run randoms…  but when you do tank a random people generally treat you like shit.  I decided some time ago that it was a package of frustration I could deal without in my life.

Being Neighborly

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-22 10-08-41-17 I have slowed down greatly in my time spent in Landmark.  I am done with the bulk of the structural work on Belgarde Keep and now have begun some of the fine detail work.  In order to complete this I really need to finish upgrading all of my machines, and that means farming copious amounts of materials.  Namely mind numbingly farming burled wood.  Thankfully since I am on a forest island, I can pretty much just roam around in my “front yard” to find this, but it gets really boring at times.  As a result the bulk of my Landmark playtime is reserved for when I am watching netflix or something similar.  I’ve already begun joining the AoA channel like I talked about yesterday, but for the most part there has been nothing but radio silence.

Last night however I got to meet a person who was new to me.  Zarriya apparently is a longtime member of the Multiplaying community and friends with Zeli, so when she popped on we were both happy to have someone else to talk with as we built away.  Funny thing is, she was not on very long before she wanted to pop by my claim and see the work I had done.  It is wierd how this feels in a game like Landmark.  It almost feels like inviting someone over to your actual house.  I was a good ways off from my homestead so as I ventured back there she started on her way over as well.  This is one of the areas the game really needs improvement.  Firstly the friends list is not working, but even more so… we need an easier way to find each others claims.

I was impressed at how fast she found it off the /loc I gave her, because quite honestly… my brain does not function well on a coordinate grid system.  If I could do like EQ2 and set a waypoint to the coord I would be happy…. actually I don’t know if that is in game or not.  It just feels cool to have visitors in this game, since you have put so much work and effort into building your structures the way you want them.  Right now I am mostly working on the sub basement, which I intend to be a dungeon.  No proper keep can really go without one.  So to start I’ve built a series of equal sized cells.  Now I want to do some more open holding pens, but really to do that I need to gather up a lot of iron.  Still very much enjoying the game, but also really looking forward to having more systems in place.

It’s Okay to Not Like Things

A good friend of mine linked me this video yesterday and it seems relevant lately, with the whole force fed narrative of Wildstar vs Elder Scrolls.  While I like both of the authors of this article, the piece that MMORPG.com ran yesterday just feels like linkbait.  If you are a fan of the MMO genre and want more games to be developed…  we realistically need BOTH to succeed.  There have been so many big name MMO failures over recent years, and even if you do not play the game any longer.. it still hurts to see one close down.  The community is still reeling from the loss of Star Wars Galaxies, and similarly from City of Heroes. Both games had extremely vibrant and devoted communities, and both player bases are still trying to find a new home.

Similarly a certain segment of the population was being happily served by Warhammer Online, and Vanguard will have a similar player base abandoned when it closes down this year.  Losing ANY game is a horrible experience.  I will be honest… I like both Wildstar and The Elder Scrolls Online.  I think they are both interesting games.  The problem is I know for certain that I like one of them enough to pay a subscription fee, and the other one… I am not quite sure about.  As a huge supported of Elder Scrolls, it feels like around every corner is another person trying to… pardon the colloquialism “piss in my cheerios”.  So I do at times get defensive of ESO, because I think it is a really fun game.  That is not to say that that I don’t also begrudgingly enjoy Wildstar quite a bit.

Personally I would love to see both games do well and find their own little niche.  We need successful MMOs that are not named World of Warcraft.  If we don’t then this might be the last round of AAA MMOs we so for awhile, or at least ones that were designed without having a massive cash shop component in them from day one.  I still think the free to play MMO is alive and kicking, but the ones designed from day one to be free to play… feel money grubbing.  They feel like they want to nickel and dime you to death each time you play it.  SWTOR is one of those game I would love to be able to play periodically, but I just cannot stand playing it in their free to play mode.

I just wish I could get players past the tribalism of red versus blue.  I am a carebear at heart, and I just want us all to get along.  After all each of these games is a niche within a niche within a niche.  Gaming as a whole is still a relatively small community, and when we attack each other we only serve to alienate people who might be waiting in the wings considering joining in.  Right now the real decision if I play Wildstar will be based on launch timing.  Right now we have Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls coming out in March, and Elder Scrolls Online in April both of which I am deeply committed to.  I assume Warlords of Draenor will be a Christmas 2014 release since no word of the Friends and Family Alpha has leaked yet.  So if Wilstar releases during one of the lapses… I might give it a shot.

Not So Neighborly Bel

There is a bit of brutal irony in me talking about it feeling good to have a virtual neighborhood in Landmark.  We have lived in the same place for over sixteen years, and at this point we know exactly two neighbors.  I consider myself “on waving terms” with several more, but really we know the family to the south of us, and the family that has been mentioned so many times in other posts that previously lived across the street from us, but now lives about five houses down the block.  For the most part I like it this way.  While it may not come across as such in my posts, I am pretty deeply introverted, so after spending the day dealing with people… I just want to shut the doors and see no one by my wife until the next day.

The funny thing about it is… apparently I am known by my neighbors but not my wife.  In part this comes down to the fact that I get home about 4:30 when lots of other people are pulling into their houses, whereas my wife often times works late and doesn’t get home until 8ish some nights.  A few months back we had a few fires in our neighborhood.  Due to the extreme effect smoke has on me, my wife went out to investigate.  Upon meeting some of our neighbors they asked her if she was “new in the neighborhood”.  They apparently had never seen her and didn’t know she existed.  Maybe it is not normal to live somewhere as long as we have and not know the ins and outs of everyone in the neighborhood.  Thankfully the neighbor I write about so often… keeps track of everything going on and can keep us up to date on the intra-neighborhood politics.  For the most part where we live is a pretty quiet place made up of a mix of aging folks that bought the homes during the 80s, and working class families with young kids.

My brother in law used to have these massive impromptu block parties in his neighborhood, and while it was nice that he knew every single person…  it also felt fairly claustrophobic to me.  For me going to work each day and “acting normal” is extremely draining.  By the time I get home, I simply don’t want to have to care about the other people living around me.  Its awesome that they are there, and  are all relatively nice… but I don’t need to have any more people in my life that I have to interact with regularly.  I am more than happy to cocoon up on the couch with my laptop and a game and forget the people outside my door exist.  The irony is… that I end up playing multiplayer games.  I think the key there is that the interaction with other people is on my terms, and in the quantity that I desire when I desire it.  When someone rings our doorbell, or calls on the phone… it always feels like a horrible invasion of my personal space.  I guess I am just wired oddly.

What About Wildstar?

4.4.14

 

It as been roughly ten days since Zenimax announced the official PC/Mac release date of Elder Scrolls Online.  In doing so they either knowingly or unknowingly threw down the gauntlet to the other developers with their own tentative release dates.  The success and fail of an MMO has become so much more than whether or not it is a good game, but instead how distracted the gaming populous is at any given moment.  I remember a time in the not too distant past where major PC releases were truly few and far between.  However it currently seems like there is always something bigger looming on the near horizon.  Like it or not every single one of these releases is competing for the same relatively small pool of players, subscribers, and even money in general.

Yesterday Massively voted The Elder Scrolls Online… the MMO most likely to flop in the coming year.  While I personally think this is deeply cynical and maybe even more than a tiny bit inflammatory, I think more than anything it is short sighted.  Quite frankly the success and failure of Elder Scrolls Online has nothing to do with the PC gamer, and that is more than a tiny bit humbling.  We will no longer be the king makers for these online games.  With ESO and games like it, that torch is being passed from PC Gaming to the much larger pool of console gamers.  I have to say the console market is rabidly waiting for a new Elder Scrolls Experience, and especially a multiplayer one at that .  I think it might be a bitter pill to swallow to realize that the success and failure of these titles may very well be out of the hands of the “PC Gaming Master Race”.

3.25.14

 

Being the master tacticians that they are, yesterday Blizzard announced the release date for the Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls expansion.  With this they are releasing roughly four weeks ahead of Elder Scrolls Online, and as a result giving themselves plenty of time with the sole attention of the PC Gaming market.  Similarly however they are also hungrily eyeing the console market, and you can bet that they will be timing the release of the PS3/PS4/Xbox360/XBone release against the June release of Elder Scrolls Online to the next gen consoles.  I feel like a four week buffer is more than safe and should play well to the gamers that may not have the ability to purchase every title they want.  I know I am personally amped about this version of the game, because it fixes a lot of the loot problems I had with the initial release.  Additionally I am holding out hope beyond hope that they manage to roll in the console “controller” features as well.

There is no way to look at this release date as anything other than business strategy.  Elder Scrolls started this ball in motion, and now each game company will have to decide when the most opportune time is to deploy their own “forces” on the game board.  While the Diablo 3 demographic is not exactly the same as the Elder Scrolls demographic… there is more than enough overlap to have caused issues for either game.  As a result two major juggernauts have been placed on the “game board” and as a result the new year is less open than it was.  Now the launches of so many titles will have be strategized to figure out when the most opportune time to release will be.

Warlords of Draenor

warlords-of-draenor-1280x800

Since the title Blizzard announced was the release of Diablo 3 for the tail end of the first quarter, my assumption is that Warlord of Draenor was simply not close enough to ready to be able to launch against Elder Scrolls Online.  As a result I am guessing this means that WoD will be another last quarter of 2014 release much like a few other World of Warcraft expansion launches.  If this is the case that bookends the year up pretty nicely.  Diablo 3 first quarter, Elder Scrolls Online second quarter and Warlords of Draenor closing out the year.  You can already see the 2014 release calendar starting to tighten a bit and this will make it increasingly difficult for game companies to find a “clear window” to release against.  I personally thought I had written off the WoW franchise completely, but nostalgic can be a pain sometimes.

As a result I imagine there will be a lot of players that either intentionally or un-intentionally come back for the release of Warlords.  The lifespan of a WoW expansion rush seems to be roughly three months, so an end of the year release will also make the 2015 schedule some what slippery as well.  The problem is there are lots more pieces to be placed on the board.  Games like Titanfall and Destiny will also be chipping away at the pool of players that would h

ave normally played an MMO.  Additionally we still have EQ Landmark and EQ Next that have not committed to any release schedule and will likely be just as large of a force on the Calendar as the games that have already been confirmed.

What About Wildstar?

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I will be the first to admit… I am actually not that excited about Wildstar at all.  By all rights I should be, but for whatever reason there I have not followed it.  I do however have a lot of friends who have, and as a result I want it to be a success for their sake as much as anything else.  Up until this point we have heard a tentative “spring 2014” release.  As I have just outlined however the “spring” timeframe is extremely packed as it is.  Wildstar is in a really precarious place right now, and I do not envy them.  They are launching a new MMO, with a subscription model into a world that seems to have fallen out of love with subscriptions.  Additionally it is an unproven IP, and there are additional issues on selling a new player on “the vision” for this world.  Finally it is releasing against some really powerful forces.

The safe bet will be to release Wildstar in the July/August timeframe.  As much as I myself hate it, the players who are likely to leave a game will have done so by the time three months have passed.  July would be the beginning of a window where generally the “locusts”, a group I have been a member of so many times in the past… will have consumed what there is to consume with ESO and be looking for a new target to move to.  Plotting a course for this opening in the schedule seems like the safe choice for them.  However all it would take to make this more treacherous, is for the other pieces that are unplaced to fall into this window.  Releasing against EQ Landmark would be enough to make the fate of Wildstar uncertain, and we have yet to even discuss the potential for the upcoming and as of yet unnamed Rift expansion. 

My money is still on Wildstar penciling in a July release date, and EQ Next as a game being a spring of 2015 release.  I just don’t see Carbine being confident enough to release Wildstar without a good opening in the schedule.  They are in a much more tentative position than Zenimax, since the entirety of their fate rests upon the shoulders of the PC Gaming market.  Elder Scrolls Online could realistically release against another big game, since they will be gaining a bunch of “new to genre” players coming in from the console market.  Additionally they have a well established and well loved IP… and even if folks are not completely sold on the game… they are likely to at least dip their toes in the water for awhile.  I find myself caring far more about the people at the companies… than the companies and games themselves.  With several friends in the “industry” I honestly hope that they can stack the schedule in a way so that all of these titles fine at least limited success.  If we see another crop of relative failures, I think this year might be the last hurrah of the triple A MMO market.