Grind vs Fun - The Guild Wars 2 Debate
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 June 2012, 3:12 pm
Having finished up a brief, but fruitful stint in Guild Wars 2, I wanted to review a few things I noted while playing. No doubt you will read many blog sites expounding upon combat, adventures, story. etc. I think I want to look at something that GW2 throws out the window.

How you play your MMO.

Something that you will never see in Guild Wars 2 is a full quest log. The flow of adventure as you move from one area to the next seems natural and endearing. You have the typical area in your UI where quests show up...but, you will always only have the MAIN persistent quest. Unlike most MMO's which have you go from place to place filling up your quest log, and trying to tackle them, GW2 will flash your screen where quests appear, and assign duties there. You will normally see a completion bar, and when it fills, you are done with that area. These usually fill up "hearts" and then reward Karma.

Again, you can read game sites, etc, to know more of how this works and what these naming conventions mean.

For myself and the family who MMO's, this felt organic. We just looked at our maps, and decided we should just run around, investigate the areas and let what come work its way to us naturally. Sometimes major events would happen, like in Rift, which would show up in your quest area, and you could see a major rush of people to get to that area. These were major situations, and eventually we would see many people dying.

Speaking of which, lets talk death. The unique system of trying to fight while fallen, and having other players help you back up is incredible. But, more than that, the fact people actually ENJOYED helping you back up...this really led to more "community" like situations. I mean, aren't you going to remember that person who helped you back up, as the fight raged on? But, as well, the reward system for doing this was a nice touch (get some XP, maybe some Karma....that was great).

GW2 is not easy. Period. So, expect to die a lot.

Seems most of the MMO's of late have held our hands way too long. I died more in GW2 than any other MMO of the last few years (and that was just over the weekend). And some of those deaths could have been prevented if I was better at my class. THAT speaks volumes of how the game will play out. The original Guild Wars was never a cake walk, and GW2 carries on that tradition.

Note my words: I could have prevented. The fact I do NOT need to rely on others to heal me, but at the same point, classes have skills that can offer "boons" to others around them with heals, defense, etc...this synergy was in effect so much as I played.

Finally, as we mention synergy, I want to talk about the guilds in Guild Wars 2. What a unique aspect of this game. All of your characters have the right to join the first guild you join...this was cool. BUT, you also did not have to join. The systems in place for upgrades to the guild was really neat. I did not have much time to play with it, but there seems to be a lot we can do, without being forced to be in groups together...everyone contributes. And in regards to groups, the whole "Stay in a party, even if logged out" was a god send. I could leave for a while, come back and log on with my family, and still be in the group with them. Awesome.

GW2 really takes a lot of conventions we're use to in MMO's and really shakes it up. Any hater who says GW2 is the same as any other MMO is just that...trolling for attention. There is just too much to enjoy here, where going back to the old way of MMO's will be hard. We will see when I attempt to go back to Rift after my vacation.

I know Guild Wars 2 may be a way off, but all I know is when it does launch, it will be a ways off before I leave that world.

Guild Wars 2 Site of the Day
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 May 2012, 2:09 pm
Just a quick post...

For those who played Guild Wars 1 and want to see what nostalgia Guild Wars 2 will share...check out this blog

Project Tyria

What happened to the world of Guild Wars 1 in the latest installment? Take a gander at these comparisons.


A Tale of Two Guild Sites..
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 May 2012, 8:56 am

It was the best of was even better times....and then it got REAL!

Barring my plagiaristic opener, times are awesome. Coming off a great opening experience in the Guild Wars 2 stress test, doing a bit of single player gaming, my job settling in, and progress moving forward on the two game guild setup for Simple Complexities, 2012 is looking up for the "Family who games" household.

As some of my fellow guildies from Rift may have noticed, I have started playing with new logos for the guild on our website at Guildlaunch. I am incorporating the two game logos into our banner. Both Rift and Guild Wars 2 are the games of choice going forward, and I cannot wait to join my old friends from Simple Complexities. So much so that this morning I logged into the "trial" version of my Rift account to goof off with my lowbie Defiant.

A return will soon be at hand.

As to the 2 game guild, I just wanted to update everyone on how the guild sites will work.

First up, I do NOT plan to take the current site and convert it to Guild Wars 2. There is too much data there for Rift. Plus, we need a way to separate the guilds from both games, for those who are not interested in GW2.

Thus, welcome to the new guildlaunch site at SimpleNComplex.

Next, as many may notice, I have started to play with our banner for the site. I already have the banner on our main Rift site updated. My ultimate goal is that the game the site is for will have a large logo of the main game, but the other game will be represented. So, looking at the current Rift site, I will make adjustments and have the Rift logo be LARGE and GW2 logo small. Then vice versa for the GW2 guild site.

As to Facebook, I plan to centralize posts there between BOTH games. Facebook will act as our centralized news source for both games. Twitter will also come into play...more on that soon.

As of this time, Gilraden is truly the main lead for the Rift faction of SC (thanks mate). I will be in charge of the GW2 faction. Gil really did a great job taking charge, and he has been in cohorts with several long time members. I appreciate all of their work.

So, on that note...I have a lot of work to do, so I better get to it. Cheers readers and Cheers fellow SC members...

Guild Wars 2 Slideshow
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 May 2012, 7:59 am
Hope you enjoy a few screens I caught while in Monday's stress test.

Testing my stress - Guild Wars 2
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 May 2012, 9:15 am
Yesterday was the Guild Wars 2 stress test. And stressing it was, to quote my inner Yoda.

There is no doubt that GW2 offers something special in gameplay. Right off the bat, you are thrown into learning movement, combat, talking, and more. That is...if you were not stuck at a load screen, dropping to desktop, etc.

But, as I noted, I would not let myself get worked up about testing GW2. If anything, it allowed me to see some of my Xbox 360 controls to mess around with. I need to do some more configuring, but overall, mapping worked per most of my MMO's.

I did not get far, but that is OK. My goal was to test settings, help Arenanet test the game...and of course, get that first look. Heck, within 15 minutes, I was in one zone and the music kicked up...and a wave of nostalgia hit. I got the biggest smile possible, and was overjoyed at remembering all I loved about my original launch days in GW1. They have totally grasped the feeling of the original game with the beautiful music.

One aspect that I truly enjoyed is how they gradually brought you new skills as you used you main skills. Another bit of true gaming fun was the fact that though I had a main goal in the game, as I walked around, events would show up, and off I went, all A.D.D as I tried to do each little quest. The "no streamlined questing" thing is perfect for how I want to play now. No more rigid, funneled questing.

I took some screenies, and will post those soon. Not a lot of them, but, as I said...load screen lockups, dropped connections and overall messing in settings all led to just a taste of what is in store....and it is good indeed.

PS: A true sign of what gaming will be like on launch is how the wife enjoys character creation...and let me just say, she is in love with it. We will be gaming our butts off when GW2 launches.

Now...when is that next beta event???

Beta tester...ugh
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 May 2012, 11:58 am
So, recently, I stepped into the shoes of "Beta Tester" again for a specific game I cannot mention. I was very excited to be doing this...


What happens when you just do not enjoy the game being tested? I really want to do my part and help them improve on this unique title...but, after 30 minutes, the pleasure of the title just did not....please.

This leads me back to Guild Wars 2 and why I have NOT done the beta test.

Will I be disappointed? (as you may have guessed, the game I am testing is NOT GW2)

So, this past weekend we finally purchased our Digital Collector's editions of GW2 (the whole family...which led to a very large one time purchase...). This means we CAN step into the world of GW2 come next beta event.

But, should we?

My son matter what. This will not bother me. Well, OK, it may. As he will be playing, I will not be able to avoid seeing the game in action. But, I have seen so many videos, write-ups and screenshots...that I feel I have been to Tyria. So, will his playing entice me, or make me force him away?

Should I login as well? And should we ALL login so we can test class aspects?

I really want that feeling of returning to the wonder of Guild Wars. It has been our best MMO experience ever. And GW2 I feel can match that with a new way of playing an MMO.

So, I sit and wonder after this failed experiment of beta testing, if I should even think of GW2 beta. I am assured of loving it, but I believe I should hold until launch, and thus moving past the disappointment of issues that could crop up.

Oh the pain...

I Did NOT Play The Guild Wars 2 Beta...
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 April 2012, 11:55 am
Because I really want to be surprised...and happy.

The complaints of "lag" and issues logging in let me know that I would NOT have been happy this past weekend. But, more than that, the feeling of awe and wonder in the game I have been waiting for could be mind numbingly awesome...

..............If I just wait...

So, I hope those who did take the time to log in enjoyed themselves. I did hear great stuff from those who did get in...and that is good news.

For me though, Guild Wars 2 is a sure thing. Why ruin the expectations by dealing with the issues...I am sure there is 5.9 million other players who can test the mess for me, and get it working top notch for MY early start.

So, this ones for you early adopters...fix the game please, and help ME enjoy myself to the fullest extent!

The Beta's Weekend - The Sub Dilemma
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 April 2012, 11:01 am
Over the past weekend I had a chance to goof off in both TERA and Diablo 3. Since I am making a concerted effort to get back to gaming, I figured new stuff would be the right way to go.

TERA was first up. Not a true typical MMO, but an MMO none the less.

The action combat was the selling point. It does deliver. I appreciated the ability to use my Xbox 360 controller (which had some minor weird mapping issues). I always use a piece of software called Xpadder to play all of my MMO's with the controller. To have it built in to the game was great.

Aiming could be a problem at times, as you need to watch a reticule on your screen. It would change from silver to gray (and become slightly thicker) to let you know the skill would work on the target.

Yea...silver to gray.

Some classes also felt sluggish because of this aiming feature. Any melee class became troublesome as you ran after mobs or avoided their attacks. I would then get confused as I was learning the odd mapping. (Some skills would be on a button, yet one would work with a trigger...etc. Just did not flow well).

But, eventually I got used to it. Made some adjustments and I was good to go.

After about 2 hours in, it was after my 5th or 6th fetch/kill 10x quest that I eventually lost interest. It just did not feel like enough to me for a sub. I also got this feeling that a "sub" based game may not be right for me anymore. What with my schedule, being so full with work and life, my gaming is minimal if existent at all.

This really hit home when I tried Diablo 3. I had my wife and son join along with me on this ride...and it was a win. We were struck by the simplicity; dropping in and playing an hour or so to have fun; the camaraderie as we discussed our drops together and did trades...and how we handled fights was great.

We argued a lot less than when we are in MMO mode. It seems the stress of getting stuff done in groups with others would cause more stress for all of us. The "you must tank or heal" attitudes always led to in home strife. Here, we only needed to rely on each other.

This started me thinking of our future game...Guild Wars 2...and how THAT has no sub as well. I then started discussing using what would have been our monthly fee for the "cash shop" as a stipend. As to grouping, thanks to the "no trinity" system of GW2 combat (which, btw, when you think of it...Diablo 3 is the same), it is believed that we can leave the stress of "who is healing...who is tanking" issues behind us.

This past weekends beta's were a real eye opener in the next phase of my gaming lifestyle. Guess I need to apologize to my Rift'ers of Simple Complexities, as at this time I do not expect to step back into that game.

What has been your outlook on the monthly sub versus free games (or buy the box, then play as you wish type of gaming)?

Guild Wars 2 - Take a "Free" ride...
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2012, 10:52 am
As of late I have been watching the stories of success in regards to the "Free to play" initiatives most MMO's have been taking. With Everquest, of all games, gaining an audience, it just seems foolish to not go this route now.

I know, I know...some people hate the idea of purchasing all of the little items to help their character grow. I do not have an issue with this. If anything, what this really boils down to is PvE vs PvP when it comes to the "Pay to win" descriptions we see thrown around.

So, looking at games which still have not gone the way of the Free, like Warhammer Online, makes me feel remorse for their losses (down to one server? WTF people....go FREE and be ready to turn back on those lost servers and get more players....and revenue again).

So, how is GW2 approaching this? I have not looked into it too much, but I always appreciated the "Buy once, free forever" style of game. Let me pay for expansions, addons, etc....but, one price for the box is awesome.

Lets review the Microtransaction system for GW2...

A great post here with some straight forward data. We see...

"In Guild Wars 2 we have three currencies: gold, karma, and gems. Gold is the common in-game currency. Karma, which players earn in-game but cannot trade, is used for unique rewards. And gems are the currency that’s bought and used to purchase microtransactions."

Interesting that just three variations of "money" will exist. One thing that started to get difficult in Rift was the currency system. It got out of control actually...with each event having a new currency item. Each raid tier started using new forms of was insane. GW2 seems nice and simple.

"MMO veterans will note the similarities of our system to EVE Online’s PLEX system. As in that case, our system takes gold trading out of the hands of real-money trading (RMT) companies and puts it directly in the hands of players."

Though I am personally not a fan of EVE, something always touted as a singular system of both discussion and derision has been the PLEX system. How do you feel about it?

This though is the best quote...

"If you want something, whether it’s an in-game item or a microtransaction, you ultimately have two ways to get it: you can play to earn gold or you can use money to buy gems. We think that’s important, because it lets more players participate on a level playing field, whether they use their free time or their disposable income to do it." 

A sore point all along has been players attitudes towards those who have all the time in the world, or all the cash in the world to do with as they wish. Well, now each type of player has the ability to purchase as they want. This will be important down the road towards leveling the playing field.

Of course, Massively has an article on the many pitfalls of such a system. Check that here...

Bots, RMT stealing, the infamous "Pay 2 win" terminology all play key roles in this system falling down.

Until we see it in action, we will not know how this will play out. The entry price and then no monthly fee though will attract a much larger audience than most MMO's, and I predict a large sell out of this game off the bat...all because of the single player game pricing scheme.

As to being free, to do what I want, any ole GW2, I couldn't be happier.

Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 April 2012, 12:52 pm
Working hard....trying to get all arranged to start blogging once again.

It has been a long, strange trip since last I posted here. I took off due to gaming becoming my central focus (which is quite funny, seeing I write about gaming).

Rift really took up all of my time.

I was in charge of the guild Simple Complexities, which became a haven for the casual MMO'er, Raider, PvP'er... We were quite strict about who joined, yet left our home open for anyone that was older, had a family, or a real life...

It really worked. I made some great new friends, who I miss dearly, and am ready to game with again.

It was at the end of 2011 that tragedy struck, as I lost my job. We were prepared, but knew cost cutting had to take effect. As well, my time became limited. I had to pull back on the leadership of SC, and due diligence found me work a month going in.

That really hit me hard though. The job was quite difficult. I had to be trained, I was on the road a lot...

And I still am quite busy, but I know what I am doing now, and my time is almost my own once again.

And it was with the pre-order call to Guild Wars 2, that I knew it was time to return.

For those who would like to know, you may remember, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease over a year ago. I am medicated, and life has been looking up. I will be going for my final test on that next month, and if it is clear, I can stop taking the meds.

So, overall, life is good...and with GW2 around the corner, and a gaggle of awesome people from SC ready to all get together again...I am excited once more to game.

I hope you will join me here on this little adventure.

The Return....
Posted by Tyrian Express [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 April 2012, 10:25 am
Soon, I will be back. I plan to change this site over to a complete Guild Wars 2 discussion.

Hope you all missed me...

If you didn't ...well, go look at some X-Fire charts, as I'm busy!

Moving out...
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 June 2011, 9:14 am
But, not moving on.

I wanted a way to micro-manage my thoughts, while still semi blogging. Seems my brain cannot work well with the thought of sitting down and having to write so many words to form thoughts I have, which fit within 140 characters on Twitter. Whether this is a concern of Graves Disease...or just my overall business in my life (Work, Family, RIFT!!!)

So, may I introduce my Posterous blog - Simple-N-Complex

A more fitting name could not be welcomed in respects to how I will post on the new site.

So, I will be looking to play with this for a while and see if I can continue to write, and keep my commentary within reach of my capabilities at this time...

Make sure to bookmark, and of course, follow me on Twitter at Elementalistly!


X-Fire Game: Raptr has left the building...
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 May 2011, 9:41 am
So it is, with glee, that I say goodbye today to Raptr.

Thanks to a new system in place this past week converting Raptr into a news style RSS feed service, data for games has been lost in the shuffle. But, as I said...happiness ensues. The numbers have been a thorn in my foot due to calculations showing oddities not matching the norm. Like when a game has anecdotal evidence, like free play time or trials and then having losses on Sunday, while Saturdays being higher in player counts; Raptr just fell apart.

So, using X-Fire's data, hopefully we can take time to discuss why games are changing in numbers. Better commentary on the state of the current MMO's should help us understand why the game is ranking where it is.

So, lets get to this weeks numbers. Previous rating comparisons are from 5/16/2011.

  1. Rift - 2835 ( 3325 ↓ )
  2. EvE Online - 2159 ( 2005  )
  3. Aion - 2039 ( 1988  )
  4. Lord of the Rings Online - 1623 ( 1800 ↓ )
  5. Age of Conan - 402 ( 287  )
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 288 ( 277  )
  7. Star Trek Online - 279 ( 327 ↓ )
  8. Champions Online - 182 ( 217 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 139 ( 133  )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 119 ( 112  )
  11. DC Universe - 32 ( 57 ↓ )
Lets start with our mover shaker award this week. 

Age of Conan takes a major jump and lands in the top 5 this week. Thanks to promotions about the movie tie ins, free account restoration for older players and the final piece of free to play coming down the pipe...AoC may just start to look good on the charts and become a winner.

Rift took a small plunge, but as has been happening...week by week Rift fluctuates. The numbers are still tops to make it our number 1 game.

EvE had some major movement in numbers this week. One report though is CCP is fighting a bot infestation, so not sure if the major jump is real. The fact they were at around 1900 last weekend is suspect. Still good to hold number 2.

Aion continues to climb. Patch 2.5 is here with the graphical upgrades, and reactivations were also key here. As a side note, I did get an email from Nvidia offering me a FREE copy of the game AND 15 days (odd, I know). So, not sure how many will try that offer.

Lord of the Rings Online has been showing some losses the last few X-Fire games, so not sure what is happening. Maybe the koolaid is wearing off? A recent update should have shown growth here, so it is confusing. Of course it could be a client issue, and the game runs like crap with X-Fire on...hard to say. I will continue to watch this one, as this has proven to be of interest.

Star Trek Online and Champions Online both fell. Wonder if this has anything to do with the news about Cryptic being flushed by Atari? We will continue to watch this and see if any repercussions are to be felt.

This weeks big loser is DC Universe. How SOE can even recover from the damage of their hacks is beyond me. I for example would never touch another of their products. But, people are odd...especially MMO players, so we will see if DCUO can recover.

It was a holiday weekend, but seems numbers did not move that much. Overall steadiness in most titles, but a few surprises as well.

Lest we forget...the elephant in the room, lets see how Blizzards monkey on everyones back is doing.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart May 30th - players  31,533 (33,787  )

That is a bit of a drop. Again, may be the weekend or is the behemoth finally showing signs? Hard to say. The fact growth was shown after the initial Rift launch, this may just be a holiday fluke.

Overall, our main games hold strong. Rift still rocking the new launch, Aion and Eve both growing and Age of Conan showing that it could still have life.

Can't wait to see how this all plays out over the summer.

Cheers for now.

The X-Fire Game: Trial (s) and Errors
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 May 2011, 10:57 am
What a great title for this weeks X-Fire game.

Trials due to Rift's push to be the best #2 MMO out there, and SOE's error and their progress to be the lowest dev on the totem pole.

The previous results we're comparing are from the weekend of 5/1/2011 - Lets see how the 2 weeks have changed.

  1. Rift - 3325 ( 2973  )
  2. EvE Online - 2005 ( 1928  )
  3. Aion - 1988 ( 1929  )
  4. Lord of the Rings Online - 1800 ( 1859 ↓ )
  5. Star Trek Online - 327 ( 345 ↓ )
  6. Age of Conan - 287 ( 280  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 277 ( 324 ↓ )
  8. Champions Online - 217 ( 235 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 133 ( 155 ↓ )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV -112 ( 122 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe -  57 ( 25  )
First off, nice job to Rift. The upswing this week is something most of the MMO's from the last few years have NOT been able to do. New content, new updates, new trials all add up to a game that is flourishing.

Looking at the graph for Rift, we can see the standard drop most MMO's experience. But, we also see a stabilization there. Then the upswing toward the end. Will see how this looks in two weeks.

Other games of note: EVE broke 2000. First time in a while. Aion over takes Lord of the Rings Online to become this weeks #3. Excitement must be building for Aion thanks to the paid transfer service and the upcoming patch 2.5 with major graphics enhancements and new content.

I really need to note here: Sub games are NOT dead, and Free to play, though a help to games suffering, is not the panacea of sub-dom some believe it to be. Just IMO.

Age of Conan has also moved up the charts. Major buzz is going on with this game, with the upcoming movie reboot, discussion of new land masses and overall satisfaction with the new engine changes. We will watch this one in the coming months.

SOE games are back, but of course, DC Universe still trails the bottom. But, note more players. I assume that free time is helping. Not going to help much when someones ID is stolen though. 

Overall quite a few games down this week.

  1. Rift -  2366 ( 2394  players
  2. EvE Online - 803 ( 1010  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 771 ( 766  )
  4. Aion - 418 ( 530 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 232 ( 192  )
  6. DC Universe - 182 ( 136  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 167 ( 173 ↓ )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV - 142 191  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 110 ( 96  )
  10. Age of Conan - 83 ( 89 ↓ )
  11. Warhammer Online - 56 86 ↓ )
What drives me nuts right off the bat...Raptr has Rift with MORE players on a Saturday (2426)...I mean, WTH? Raptr and reliability of stats is really starting to irritate me. But, I will still post them....just expect me to bitch about them EVERY time also.

Ah well, lets take a look at what else is happening.

As we can see, Raptr still plays "Opposites" day of X-Fire with their stats. EVE and Aion are both down, yet LOTRO is up. Of note, like Rift, Aion is UP on Saturday...just down on Sunday, which has not been par for course for ANY game.

Champions is up? LOL. And look at how many slots DC Universe moved up. Interesting bunch of users, these Raptr players.

The biggest travesty here is Age of Conan. All anecdotal evidence points to a rise in activity, yet in Raptr it still runs at the bottom of the pack, with even a LOSS this week. Raptr is just not telling the full story here.


Before I forget, lets take a look at Blizzard and their beast of an MMO.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart May 15th - players  33,787 (33,611 ↑ )

So, WoW is still on the rise back up. People just cannot let this game go, and it is truly sad to see no other game even has a chance.

Nuff' said here


So, some good numbers for several games, with Rift really showing it can hold on, and could be our number two game in MMO's for a while.

Raptr though is becoming suspect in tracking, and I am about ready to throw it out. It keeps having strikes against it in regards to how their numbers work. When games we know show anecdotal evidence of upswings, yet fall on Raptr...I have to question their systems. Time is ticking down for Raptr stats.

Until next time...Cheers.

Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 May 2011, 11:39 am
Continuing this series of articles on how Rift approaches aspects of gameplay compared to other MMO's. Today I am touching on content. What is it? Does Rift offer enough?

Like yesterday, I wanted to get an idea of what "content" means, so lets start with our Dictionary term. Note, this one is hard, as several terms could be used here...

"something that is contained: the contents of a box."

This first description is interesting, as it basically means ALL inclusion of items. If a box has a manual, a DVD, a map, etc...for an MMO, this is the boxes "contents". Does this work for what is IN the actual gameplay? What does content equal?

The BIG Twitter discussion of quite a few MMO heads had some variations on this topic.

Rowanblaze - "Yes I say "content" is the reason for doing something in-game. IOW, the story. Everything else is grind."

Adarel -"I think story is just one form of content though. The world is full of activities, all of which are content."

Ardwulf -"Even social tools can be content. Depends on the game."

Three different perspectives right off the bat. How does one player look at content as one item, yet another player requires differences in their game for it to equal "content"?

I had remarked how Rift had about as much content as WoW...after it's first expansion, which some would disagree with. Why is that? What MORE did WoW have at that time? A larger world? More "quests" and "dungeons"? I do not remember invasions on a regular basis in WoW. I do not remember Guild Leveling or Guild quests, shinies hunting...the list goes on.

But to me, this is a form of content.

If a player logs into the game, decides to shop on the Auction House, then will craft, then logs off....did they do content? Or did they do something else....features? mechanics?

Again, another perspective. What if the word meant something different...

How about we look at the meaning of "content" as another form of it's definition...

"satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else."

Here is where the game changer is. Is the player "content" with what the game offers. This I think describes our MMO's more than what the game gives you to do.

If there is not enough "content" (whats inside the box) then the player is not "content" (happy?). But, this is perspective. What one player will see as con-tent, another will not be cun-tent with.

Phentari stated "I dont know I think they are nuts, that means they ran out of new things to do including features"

"Features" was one word that was used to describe everything that had no "story" to it. Was it then that the player exhausted the "story" and the "features" would not make this player cun-tent?

A slippery slope here.

Lets use the latest news for Rift as our example of new "content" (according to Trion). A new event coming called "Spoils of War" prelude will be offering daily quests to gather various items to purchase unique items, etc.

Is that content?

"As the name implies, the Spoils of War is related to the River of Souls event. Telarans and the Ascended successfully overcame Alsbeth and her minions and now the rewards have arrived. The prelude offers players four new daily quests centered on the mysterious treasure-like items literally falling from the sky in some cases."

What is interesting here is it seems to be a standard "stuff to do" type of event, or features if you will...but also is a continuation of the story from the first big event Rift had, River of Souls. So, we have a story, but it is just "daily" questing to get items to get more items.


mythokia "Producers think they can get away with disguising dailies as new content."

Ouch, clearly mythokia thinks adding in dailies...even for a NOT new content.

Do we see the pattern? We can note that each player has their own opinion on what content is. Just look to that link about "Spoils" (and try not to burn your eyes out, thanks to the MMORPG readers commentary) and see what is being said...

"Just dumping a couple daily repeatable collection quests in the game you need to do a horrible amount of times and increasing the frequency of Rifts and call it a Live Event is not what I call original nor very attractive in my book.

Rift was great at launch. Very polished and fun to play for a short while.

But so far these so called live events just end up being nothing more than an ordinary boring grindfest!"


"It sure beats other games. You don't have to wait, sometimes years, for content."

Within the first few postings, we see two varying viewpoints.

So, is Rift lacking in content? Or is a specific player not "cun-tent" to play what is offered.

As I saw on twitter, there was not an end to the conversation, and so many roads were taken by various players. But, it is mans junk is another's treasure. To even think there is not enough content in specific MMO's...especially Rift, is subjective to each players outlook.

I will use my family of an example of how Rift is approached each day.

My wife is the one who does the daily "shinies" hunt and craft runs. My son will login and is working on leveling, and feels questing is where the game is at. Myself, I feel running zone wide invasions, rifts and dungeons are fun (but, I try to do a little of EVERYTHING).

We are CONTENT to play with the CONTENT as it is...and just see another patch with more to do as even more fun to be had.

If only others could do the same.

Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 May 2011, 9:38 am
After spending an awesome weekend running massive events in the various zones of Rift, I started to wonder about an issue. Several of us in the community (of bloggers) and, of course, the infamous "forums for haters" have had an ongoing discussion about Dynamics.

Does Rift really have dynamics?

I think mostly people are expecting something different from the actual word, and are not using it in proper context. Lets take a look at the word itself, and see where THAT leads us. If we head to, I find this little bit of information.

"pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action; vigorously active or forceful"

This is interesting. When we look upon the complaints of most, dynamics is suppose to harbor change. Nothing is indicating that "change" must take place. The actual meaning of the word describes Rift more readily, and shows just how dynamic the game can feel.

So, for something to be "dynamic" it is not that it has to change, or be UNIQUE or must be an effective action. When an EVENT takes place zone wide, this is "forceful" and needs "effective action" to take care of or else it causes issues in the zone. When invasions happen a player must become "vigorously active" to take care of it. I could go on and on (for example, thanks to mob density in Rift compared to most MMO's, there is more vigorous activity than most games).

The facts remain. Rift is a more dynamic MMO than we have normally dealt with.

So, how did the concept of dynamics come down to something affecting the world we play in and must equal change to happen? When we look upon the descriptions for Guild Wars 2, a game being touted for it's changing world dynamics, we see...

"Dynamic events evolve and cascade across the world in response to how you, the player, interact with them,"

So, somehow, Arenanets description looks to "evolving", but not "changing".

Yet, Guild Wars 2 is one of the games most people look to for "Dynamic" events, because somehow it can "change" how the world works. But, GW2 does not really say major or even minor change is the key. It is the ripple effect. Something happens that leads to another...thus causing the dynamic gameplay.

Rift does have the same effect. The "ripple" from an event leads to hubs being shut down, roads overrun, specific quest areas being inaccessible due to rifts. These may happen regularly and may even be the same event from yesterday...but, is still "dynamic" enough to cause the "ripple" effect.

So, what about "scipting". This was one argument I read that really led me here...

"Yeah, really? DYNAMIC.....where is the dynamism? Is it those mushrooms that randomly pops here and there spewing out scripted npcs? "

Can a movie not be dynamic? Is it because a movie has a script that it is not dynamic? I would beg to differ on this and would see how a movie can be vigorously active. One sequence may be a car chase....but another may appear later on that has a different aspect to it (example: Bourne Movies - thanks Matt!). Is this not dynamic because it is the same thing; a car chase?

We need to look over all of the MMO's released to this day and see...How dynamic have they been? And just how dynamic is Rift compared to them?

When a game makes me drop everything and run to defend a hub, take down a major colossi or forces me to make a decision about the area I am questing in due to being blocked by a rift or foothold...this feels dynamic, to me. If I must do something that is NOT scheduled, how can that not be dynamic?

So, maybe the next time you wonder what is dynamic about Rift, lets look to what "dynamic" really means....and then we can see that Rift is truly (and hopefully) the first in a line of dynamic MMO's.

X-Fire Game: The one week reprieve
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 May 2011, 10:10 am
So, I am back with another installment of our much loved (hated?) game of statistics (voodoo?) using our all time favorite (reviled?) tools...X-Fire and Raptr.

From this point, I will pull back reporting these to maybe every two weeks. This should allow us to see if any drastic changes are happening in the market...and lets me try and write a bit more "commentary" (arguments) on a regular basis.

Lets get started. First off, all data listed is from two weeks ago and will be versus this Sunday's numbers.

(KEY: Click the logos to understand what X-Fire or Raptr is. For the symbols...↓ Means the game had a loss; and the game is in green text, means it had more players. Thank you.)

  1. Rift - 2973 ( 3982  )
  2. EvE Online - 1928 ( 2017  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 1859 ( 1892  )
  4. Aion - 1929 ( 1878  )
  5. Star Trek Online - 345 ( 287  )
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 324 ( 326 ↓ )
  7. Age of Conan - 280 ( 245  )
  8. Champions Online - 235 ( ??  )
  9. Warhammer Online - 155 ( 130  )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 122 ( 131 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe -  25 ( 41 ↓ )
So, as we can see here, Rift still has not found the floor. What will it's actual ceiling be?

We could look at how drastic this loss is and do this little bit of fun...

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 18th - players  33,611 (32,822 ↑ )

And of course find out where most everyone went.

Rift does still have a large lead over the number 2 game, and with patch 1.2 coming in less than 2 weeks, I expect my next report to see some added player action.

The rise of players in other games were minimal (except for a few stand outs)...

Aion had a big jump. I could look at this as the bonus of "paid transfers". I also think accounts were activated over the weekend too (I got an email about it). So, this may most likely be temporary. Or is this a sign that the game may hold a few new subs?

Star Trek rocked some nice numbers, with a great leap, making it our #5 game on the chart.

Several; other small triumphs was Warhammer, who has been patching their screw ups recently, Champions client was fixed and is reporting again (last report, CO was broken and reporting ZERO players) and Age of Conan also seeing some numbers increasing.

A pretty good week for the games considered failures by a contingent of players.


  1. Rift -  2394 ( 2705  players
  2. EvE Online - 1010 ( 967  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 766 ( 751  )
  4. Aion - 530 ( 457  )
  5. Champions Online - 192 ( 225 ↓ )
  6. Final Fantasy XIV 191 ( 152  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 173 ( 159  )
  8. DC Universe - 136 ( 179 ↓ )
  9. Star Trek Online - 96 ( 101  )
  10. Age of Conan - 89 ( 94  )
  11. Warhammer Online - 86 ( 84  )
And as is normally the case, Raptr tells us a different story.

Rift's drop is not as harsh as for X-Fire. And if we look around we can see where some of these players are heading to.

Of course, Raptr is also BIZARRO world, where Final Fantasy XIV...probably the worst rated MMO in a long time, has a huge jump. Oddities indeed.

The one thing we can always count on here is our top 4 though. Rift, EvE, LOTRO and Aion seem to hardly budge from their respective slots. Rift as we can see here has over double what EvE is showing and EvE is almost doubling Aion's numbers.

I think we can safely say that players having such an abundance of MMO's have more places to go and play around in to try various new worlds.


Whats clear here is the hold World of Warcraft has over it's player base. Hard to pull players out and into other MMO's. With the news that most of the newer MMO's coming down the pipe, specifically Star Wars, a noted WoW killer, being too much like WoW...where does this leave the genre?

This report is pretty much a statement on the sad affairs of our market. We have quite a few good games here, but WoW truly holds sway over all of this domain, and could color the future of every MMO until someone decides "Lets give up".

For now, players need to accept that the genre has been built, thanks to WoW ingenuity (/snicker) and that all MMO's to come will try their best to mimic it until they get one that has all 7 years of content, can be 100% polished and ready at launch with a whole new endgame that no one can describe, but REALLY want to be meaningful.

I'm out...

Rift: The Rebuttal (or who mentioned "Jesus"?)
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 April 2011, 12:03 pm
Seems the discussion about my posting on Rift and why I am let down by the MMO community is making the rounds. My favorite remark in one post has been used several times, and I think we need some rebuttal here...

Rift: No, it’s not the “Jesus” game

If I may...myself, I have never noted Rift as the "Jesus" game. First, the remark makes no sense.

Jesus died....MMO's have not died (at least not yet)...Jesus was resurrected...uh, doesn't something have to die to be resurrected. Jesus is our savior (according to the Christians!)...

So, is it the savior part? Is Rift here to SAVE us?

It could be. But, only for those who are willing to help this market grow.

But, I digress on this point...maybe on another post? Lets get to the nitty gritty of this debate though.

Some of the commentary on this particular posting has a few concerns that I think we should look into. (Check out this link to Massively Multiverse for more on this story).

"Apparently, if I have loved WoW at any point in WoW’s history but haven’t fallen head-over-heels in love with Rift in the same fashion, then I should leave the MMO genre entirely because I am nothing more than a burnt out, jaded gamer who has simply played far too many MMOs in his day. Come to think of it, I am a burnt out and jaded gamer during these, my MMO twilight years….*snickers*…but that’s beside the point!"

Not entirely true. But, to instead look upon Rift as just "copying" WoW is where the main issue lies. If you cannot look at Rift with an open mind and either like it or leave it alone, is where it causes concern.

Again, I must refer to the infamous Metacritic rating by a standard user who felt the need to give Rift a ZERO ...and why?

"There is really nothing NEW here that hasn't been done before."

Fair enough. I have no issue with this. People will find a lot to not like in other MMO's. I can clearly point out EVERY issue with Lord of the Rings Online and why I feel this is an inadequately made game. But, I would never give it a ZERO, because it still has some things going for it, like a company who cares, a community who rocks. This would be a FAIR rating.

A lot of what I read about Rift is NOT fair. Again at Multiverse...

"There are only two things in Rift that are somewhat unique. The Invasions and the Soul system are the two features that should be touted by Rift fans everywhere."

So, the AOE looting, map transparencies, instant change loadouts for class skills between specs, hover over healing,...all the background workings that advance the way we play don't count because you can't see them?

This I think is the main issue in that Rift has advanced a lot of game mechanics that we normally do not think about (like the invasion mechanic...though not entirely new, used a different way here makes even quest hubs a danger zone... or how about the quick change soul specs, though mainly seen in Guild Wars, has the added option of being able to use it ANYWHERE).

Lets talk about the off-healing mechanic. What game has a smart heal system that looks at all players in a group and decides who needs the most healing when group heals take effect?

No, these are not innovative, because they are not TANGIBLE to the player. These are not NEW.

Multiverse goes on to say...

"As for the Soul System, it was probably the key ingredient that I enjoyed the most while playing Rift. It is a step in the right direction for MMOs, and I am more than happy to applaud Trion for its creation. But at the end of the day, it has two things working against it. First of all, that many souls will prove to be horribly difficult to balance over time, especially for PvP. I’m not sure if Trion will ever be able to get the balance right. Secondly, just like the talent system in WoW or EQ 2, certain flavor of the month builds will emerge and dominate as they always do, proving once and for all that we don’t really need a better class based system."

Good point. Yet, no one has done it yet. What MMO is 100% balanced and ready to play? What MMO does not get some type of balance change on a regular basis?

WoW is still not balanced to this day. Why should this be a strike? Instead it should be noted as ongoing development...because isn't that really what MMO's are about? A never-ending cycle of patching and balancing, content addition, etc.

What about a "better class based system"? As I discussed in my *Futura* post yesterday, only one of many MMO's releasing will have it. How will it work? And will the current MMO player of course find a way to ruin it?

Moving on...

"The bar has been raised and developers need to adjust their ambitions accordingly."

This one says it all. Who raised that bar? Who said that the genre MUST be 100% different to be a GOOD game? This is where the "jaded" gamer comes in.

My constant example is the "Halo/CoD" argument. Even though in different settings, they are basically the same play style, same gameplay...gun, run, don't get killed or be killed. THAT's IT. These games continue to thrive...yet, the MMO genre must make a whole new change.

Better yet, lets use our current market. LOTRO, EQ2, WAR, AoC (lets even go ahead and leave WoW out of this). What unique features does each of these games offer that the other does not? Out of all these, WAR is the most different of the lot. Tiered gameplay, Realm vs Realm....actual crafting that requires the player to really be involved...

Yet, it is one of the lowest populated games on that list. Can we blame the bugs? Maybe. But, DEDICATED players will look beyond this and wait for development to take place. Instead everyone gave up as the game was not READY yet.

Rift is ready though. Trion is committed to listening to their customer base. Talk about your concerns with the devs and support a growing game. But the outright slamming it for trying to appease a large audience who wants similarities to begin with (heck, look at all the posts on the forums for those who WANT the LFD know, what another game has), seems out of hand.

That has been my main issue all along. The growing need of a "jaded" MMO community who want things to be different from WoW, but cannot see it if it hit them in the face leads to bickering about a game that should be able to let itself grow.

Finally...and in line with what has been said...

"Rift offers little in the way of true advancement. And just because it does its job well, does not mean we should all conform to hailing it as the greatest MMO on the planet."

Again, as I have said before. The background technology, the emergent gameplay (even though it is something YOU do not like, does not mean it is not an advancement), the willingness to ask the player what they want and ADD it (that alone is the single most advanced feature, thanks to so many devs of other MMO's ignoring their playerbase), already is a step up.

Rift is NOT the greatest MMO. But, it is what other MMO developers and games should aspire to be. Great at launch, fully fleshed out and ready to play.

The bar has been Trion actually. It is not JUST about the gameplay and features, but about the company. If we as a playerbase decide that because the game has similarities to another game, it should not be supported, then maybe we need to accept that all future games will be like WAR and AoC.

As well, until proven to me otherwise, I do not believe players want a NEW experience anyways. Otherwise they would support titles who are trying to make changes to the genre (Age of Conan was a perfect example of a game that had skill be the single most important requirement...yet players cried until it was revamped 6 months later to be a standard MMO).

So, is this market the way it is because of WoW? Sure is. Is the playerbase largely responsible? Yes...

But, is Rift "Jesus"? No. But, it sure is a damn fine game, well made..and if you can just let go of your preconceived notions of WoW and the "been there, done that", you could enjoy it more.

Psalm 69!

Crystal Ball-ing: Futura MMO-itis
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 April 2011, 10:44 am
Some appreciated linkage took place yesterday on my post about Rift and the difficulties of the current MMO gamer to just let go of the WoW mentality. (Thanks Common Sense Gamer)

Reading through the comments on his post got me thinking...especially one specific posting.

SmakenDahed said: “Guys, what do you want?” Something different.

This got me, of course, looking at my Crystal Balls for our future in MMO land. Can the genre really offer enough change that everyone really wants? The major complaint is how Rift is so much like the old MMO's, why would anyone want to play it?

But, will the new generation be that different?

Lets take a gander while I do a reach around and look at our future in MMO's...

This one has my ire up. The spectating I have done on this game has so many looking to Bioware for their next gen relief. Can the supposed "story" pillar really offer the change in this genre the MMO player craves?

Hell, all I need to do is go to my previous post and look at comments to see how "story" will be to the standard (WoW) MMO player...

Allen said "MMOs are about the gameplay. That's what makes people pay money every month to play. People aren't going to shell out $15 a month for a story, no matter how good, once they've completed that story. The gameplay is the hook."

So, is that how you feel? Rift has a unique IP and original story, but according to this player...who cares? But, is it the fact that so many are attached to the Star Wars IP and the legendary story, that it will be the key to their enjoyment?

Even though discussion has been rampant on some unique gameplay styles, SWToR will still have various issues that have plagued our MMO's since WoW began. Talk is there will be dual faction RvR...uh, everyone complains that true factional RvR needs three to survive. Dual factioning equals imbalance. What about the standards? Kill 10x? Gonna be in at launch. Raids? Sure thing.

What is unique? How about the companions...oh crud, DDO and Guild Wars have these....

Ok, will graphics...oh, fudge...NVM.

Again, next gen? Where?

Why will Star Wars be your MMO nirvana?

Ok, this one is easy. Right off the bat, we have Funcom at the helm. Yes, Ragnar, the man who supposedly can do no wrong is in charge. BUT...two launches of an MMO, both gone horribly wrong...Can the third time be the charm?

This issue alone will most likely turn away a good bit of audience.

Right off the bat though, gameplay is unique in respect to no "levels" per se, but a skills based system. The setting is also unique (modern day instead of renfaire fun). So, where could it possibly go wrong?

First off, the main push is the "story"... Yep, another game that believes players want story. I know I do. Age of Conan was awesome in respects to that first 20 level run. Story was incredible. then they pulled it out from under our feet and the game fell on it's ass. It has since been polished up quite a bit, but is still a sore spot.

What about progress? We do not know much in that respect. Here is what the website says...

"The Secret World does not force you down a set path of progression. You are free to do anything you want at any time. If you ever get tired of doing missions or slaughtering demons, why not return to your secret society and perform tasks for them so you can rise up in their order? Do so, and you will unlock even more powers, weapons, and even unique uniforms. And, of course, untold secrets!"

Lets check our words...Tasks? QUESTS. Missions? DUNGEONS. Slaughtering? GRIND.

Did I get them all? As you can see, anyone can take any part of the "hype" a game developer builds and see that even our next gen games cannot escape the routines we have grown accustomed to.

Out of any game I will discuss today, Secret World has the most chance to offer a unique experience. The fact the developer is frowned upon and the mechanics still have that "similarity" will be hard for the game to escape the discussion that surrounds all MMO's.

Why this is on ANYONE's radar, is a mystery to me. With it's Aion like graphics, why does it appeal to the MMO gamer?


Ok, well, there is also action based combat, but still....Vindictus does that already.

So, what does it offer? Quests? yes....Raids?...yep, yep. Story....meh, who cares, right? Most likely a lot of text boxes based on the videos I have seen. Hey, WoW does that too.

So, the game engine is definitely next gen, using Unreal 3. But, this is another issue. The game will hardly run on the hardware most gamers use (especially with the complaints so many give Rift of FPS issues, yet a friend of mine runs on a laptop with built in graphics, adequately, ...)

No, what we have here is another Korean MMO. Though they are popular to a large audience of manga/anime lovers, the derision most of these games receive due to poor westernization and shoddy UI's, etc...all add up to another game that will be reamed on a regular basis...(again, looking at Aion as our example).


This one I saved for last.

Though still stuck in Fantasy tropes and using some standards, GW2 is set to try and change the MMO genre as we know it. No quest markers? No grind? No Holy Trinity of Tank/DPS/Heal?

What could possibly go wrong?

First is the requirement of "story". Guild Wars, the original, did this well. But, people were not that interested in this aspect. But, the game DID sell 6 million copies, so that built in audience who cares about the story will exist.

Even though there are no true "quest" markers or this feeling of "following the path", there is still a need to somehow notify players of what is happening, so some type of system will be used to say "Hey, come here and kill 10 of these...", etc.

But, guess what? Dungeons? Still there. Raids? Still exist. Those same features that EVERY MMO HAS is still in GW2. Also, PvP, which is notorious in the realm of balance hell, will of course lead to the inevitable nerf, which is the purview of the MMO complainer.

Guild Wars 2 should be my choice for most innovative here, and it will be huge. But, I can smell the rampant MMO player waiting in the wings to take each NEW element, and turn it on it's nose and make us believe it has all been done before.


Basically, our future, though bright, is fraught with the MMO burnout. That player who, jacked up so much on MMO gameplay, is crashing when it comes to the newest innovations in this market.

Though we have a list of games that each offer something to advance the genre...just like Rift did.. they will be frowned upon. I mean, if I can find the issues (and two of those games on that list are my most wanteds), what will prevent that burnout from doing the same?

Though Rift is a really great game, the player feels the need to attach themselves to the "similarities" and not let go. I feel each of these upcoming games, no matter how hyped our MMO player is, will offer that "same old" feeling.

My suggestion right now is that if Rift is too much like your old MMO to let that feeling of sameness go...then let MMO's go in general until one of these launch.

Maybe by then you will remember what you loved about MMO gaming.

Rift: This is where the MMO community let me down...
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 April 2011, 10:04 am
As I log in to my server now, though still quite busy, I can feel it.

It is somewhat emptier than it usually is.

The city still bustles with people during prime time hours. The guild fills up a bit late Saturday and mostly Sunday. But, the feeling that the game is emptier than it has been, is palpable.

I started to really think about this after reading the article...5 Reasons Rift is the New WoW.

His points are precise and spot on. Rift, though familiar, is as well, a very good game. Why it now is emptying out is beyond me...besides the fact that probably most who are leaving are MMO burn outs.

Lets look each point and see why I think the MMO community is starting to disappoint me and why there are those who just need to stop playing MMO's altogether.

1. Rift is a finished product.

"Unlike just about every MMO released in the last five years, Rift isn't half-assed or half-finished. The game has PvP, PvE, and a large diverse world for questing."

Which is true. Just most people wish to see it as EXACTLY like WoW. And to a degree it is. YET, there is so much that could make the game different if a player put in the effort. This I think is the main reason people leave.

WoW did not launch to such a glorious lead off. It took time to get there. The patience of todays player is ludicrous though. If it was a year into Rift's game and they had hit a roadblock of no new content, no fixes, no balancing...then I could see the players point. But, it's is barely two months in.

Effort, people...effort.

I will talk about this more later...

2. There's an endgame.

"Taking a page from WoW, there's a lot of loot to work for in Rift."

Loot. We love it, but then we sneer at it, thanks to so many factors.

Grind...Gear Scores...repeated dailies...just a few of the reasons people look at this factor as a letdown in most MMO's.

But, I try to figure out this elusive "endgame" nirvana that most MMO's supposedly do not offer that some players continue to ask for...and wonder "WTF do you want then?". I see the term "meaningful" endgame mentioned, but never explained. Do YOU want to tell me what you expect? What does that mean? Yet, I never see anyone flesh this out. Some throw out expectations of huge sieges and what not...but, really, expectations are set too high for what our current technology can do. It has been proven time and again.

This is why I think what players REALLY want....they can't have for another 10 or 15 years. So, for my own benefit, just quit playing MMO's for that amount of time and leave the forum punditry to those who still enjoy this genre.

Oh, and that effort thing I mentioned? Applies here as well....more soon.

3. The game isn't buggy.

"Bugs have killed off more than a few MMOs. Age of Conan and Warhammer were both decent MMOs and both of them were so fraught with bugs they brought about their own too early demise."

This is the one that kills me. Every time I see another "I'm right forumite" spout off verbal diarrhea stating "Rift will be just like WAR, and fail over" "I expect Rift to fall to as many subs as Age of Conan", I want to slap someone (and my Wife is STILL pissed about that to this day...sorry Hon, did it sting a little?).

I have yet to have ANYTHING in this game stop me from completing a quest or asking a GM for help. I expect they may be there...but, the consensus has been through my guild and a lot of people writing about Rift, that we have been playing a well made game. PERIOD.

This is huge. To this day, Age of Conan, Warhammer, heck...even EQ2, all have existing issues that I am FORCED to communicate with their tech support to help me out of a jam. This is ridiculous.

Rift is just a well made game, that will progress...if people would just shut up and play.

4.  There's a lot to do.

"Rift has something for everyone."

This one is important...and true. So much exists in Rift to keep you occupied. The problem is ...a lot of it existed in other games, thus this makes Rift an instant bore for those who have played MMO's to death.

This is why I think a lot of MMO players need to just leave this genre behind and go do something else for a while. Anyone crying they have nothing to do in Rift is either not looking, has no friends, or is done with MMO's in general.

Every time I log in, I instantly have plans, or at least can look at my roster of alts and is a good day for..."____" (you fill in the blank, as I already decided...and I can't make that decision for you.)

Now, if you will excuse me...I need to go take a break as I already thought of something else I want to do in Rift.


5.   Rift is the cure for your WoW ennui 

Rift doesn't suck. Rift rocks. It's addictive and fun. It's what an MMO should be. There's nothing fancy about, but what it does it does well. Rift is the excuse players have been waiting for, the excuse they needed to leave the comfort of WoW for something new."

Yes it does rock. But, the issue continues to be WoW. It is like saying Crack can be replaced with crocheting.

Whats funny is, that is what WoW is. Just like Crack. The problem is most MMO players have been "users" for so long, they cannot understand what it would mean to leave that behind. This is where that EFFORT really pays off. Put an effort into not thinking about WoW. Put an effort into not playing Rift like WoW. Make a concerted effort to try and work through the soul system, find what you have not found, play the game like you have not played before.

Laziness is my only assumption here.

EFFORT is what Trion put into Rift. Why not do the same?

The one way it shows the most effort is the lore.

For the first time in quite a while, we have a unique IP. A new story, a new world ...something that is NOT WoW's warcraftian world. Something not based on a released novel, movie, comic book, etc.

Yet, no one puts in the effort to look upon this aspect...and instead are banking all their chips on... you guessed it... another non-original IP (Star Wars: ToR will be our Saviour...blah, blah).

This is why movies like "Scream 4" (though still not "too bad", is still regurgitated material) are made, and sell quite well...while critical and well written movies like "Source Code" fall over.

The McDonald's consumptive world ruins our MMO's.

And for the first time, I want to just hang up my hat for my fellow players. I want to leave them behind because they let me down. They want pre-existing IP crapola on a stick, and want it to be unique and interesting.

It won't be though.

I guarantee we will be in the same boat come launch of SW:ToR. Players will complain about features that Star Wars has that are unique. Yet, the base will be full of players who will pry open the gem that is SW:ToR and note how "It is just like WoW".

And it will be.

No matter how good the story, no matter what unique aspects they add to the game...there will be that contingent that state.."It's like WoW".

Well, I will continue to log into another brilliant game, that will most likely be watered down in the hopes the masses will return. It has happened to so many good games who had great ideas, but due to the buggy nature of their release and the need to balance based on desk jockey programmers who want THEIR class and playstyle to be "meaningful", plummeted in subs and could never get back up.

Rift is a damn fine game...just no one will know it because WoW has already ruined their perception of what a good game is.

I feel let down by my fellow gamers.

Rift: Oh the troubles YOU have seen...
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2011, 11:43 am
"Nobody knows the whining I've seen..."

Yes, a spiritual to describe the dire nature of the current MMO market. Especially when it deals with a game I am really enjoying. I try my best to find the awful issues most seem to be experiencing as I read their blogs and forum posts of "Whaaa". I just can't do it.

Rift: Planes of Telara feels like a true world I can inhabit for a long time.

It has been a while since I have talked about my gaming habits, and Longasc was kind enough to remind me of what I am doing.

Playing an MMO I enjoy.

Though small, our guild of family and friends has been moving along at a decent pace. Most are in their low 40's, and we have already started to discuss endgame. The set grouping levels mechanic I have used in previous games has worked out well, though not as we planned. Instead of choosing specific days, we just noted levels and tried to play together when we could...but, hold up leveling until others arrived at that juncture.

As I continue to enjoy my travels in Telara, I note all sorts of little items that really help me enjoy this game above most.

When we journey together, finding the highest peaks and grabbing that snapshot for the memories is just one pleasure. The fact the game has so many of these "climbing" areas is a fun little side note in my overall trudge to max level. While climbing, finding little goodies like the "shinies" or more resources just adds to it.

Another measure I have taken to in Rift that I have not done much in previous games is avoiding that level grind by trying out different ways to play. Jumping into vent, chatting away while killing mobs for mats, dungeon runs with various group sizes and combinations (2 heals, 2 tanks, etc.), or straight rift running. 

Rift has opened this new playstyle and helps me through what most consider standard play.

One of the major complaints I keep reading is about mob density. Too much and it keeps you from getting to your objectives too many times. Is this the "easy mode" mentality of most players kicking in? Or is it this need to speed through and crush the roses (sniff those roses buddy or get a thorn in your....)?

I still have to wonder if it is because I avoided World of Warcraft that I can enjoy even the simplest things in my MMO of choice? Has WoW really ruined so many? 

As Tipa wrote at West Karana "I really like Rift, I do. But then, I really liked World of Warcraft, too. I was an absolute fanatic about that game for a long time. Thing is, I’ve DONE WoW. All I want from Rift is stuff I couldn’t do in WoW. "

Did this kill Rift's pleasure for so many?

Well, I will keep moving along. I have plans. Fun plans...BIG plans to enjoy every moment of a game that has really made every effort to try and be great.

They have succeeded for MY book.

Now, quit causing trouble and go play.

The rise and fall of western MMO civilization as we know It...
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 April 2011, 10:42 am
In a previous post, I had taken note of how the market for the MMO has changed. We cannot look back at how MMO launches use to be, and compare the genre today to that happier, simpler time.

Luckily, a comment from that post goes so far as to prove my point even further. (Props to Carson 63000 of Eldergoth, who had this to say...)

"Successful monthly sub games, like EverQuest, Ultima Online, Asheron's Call, Final Fantasy XI, Eve and WoW, do not steadily increase over the first month and then drop off as a proportion of players decide not to pay more to continue.

Successful monthly sub games have more new players coming in than they have players deciding not to continue. Successful monthly sub games have more players after a year than they did after a month.

I agree that Rift seems to be following the predictable curve set by virtually every MMO in the last five years. But this really isn't the only direction a game can go, and it's not one to aspire to, even if a bunch of box sales and a one month "churn and burn" is enough to pay for your development"

I think we can look upon his comment and really note the issue with this comment...

Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, Final Fantasy XI, Eve Online and WoW

1997, 1999, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004

What do we see here? Mainly, these are the launch dates for each of these games. Each MMO listed is 7 years of age or older. Why use games that were in a market dominated by RTS's, Diablo style RPG's or turn based roleplay (Final Fantasy) as a comparison of todays MMO market? If we look at these titles, each was a unique in the field; heck, console games were not even the norm at that time. If an MMO launched, it was something of interest.

Now, we have a world dominated by million sellers being straight console, FPS styled shooters and World of Warcraft or the "churn and burn" MMO, as he calls them.

All MMO's since WoW have not garnered any success beyond several hundred thousand subs, with EvE being the last on that list (besides WoW) to hold on and bring in more subs since launch (that we have any real data for).

No matter the situation, this genre is toasted thanks to WoW. Every MMO from this point on will be compared to WoW. Every game (MMO, I should say) that launches without as much product content as WoW has will be criticized and ostracized for not having WoW's gameplay...period.

Comparing this market now to the market of 7 years ago does not help any argument that "This MMO is fail" due to retention not being WoW sized. Name one MMO since WoW that has continued to grow and is bigger now, than it was at launch (without going free to play...*cough* LOTRO who did NOT expand further until they changed *cough*) and THEN we can talk.

Please note, we never touch on discussions of Asian grinders or Free to Plays, as we cannot get a real data read out of how many are true revenue generators, etc. We are strictly talking the western market and the syndrome of the launch of a AAA title.

For now, just like the console FPS shooters, the PC is flooded with so many MMO's still running or in development...I mean, head to and just look at their game list. So many to choose from AND many more to come.

Personally, I think any developer that launches an MMO now has several objectives.

First, lets sell the box. We make back our development costs and can continue to develop. Next, retain a good number of subs (as keeps being proven to us by low end games like Age of Conan, Warhammer Online or any other title in the last 5 years). 100k sounds good, but if you have more, why ....thats just peachy keen. Now, work your sales mojo, offer free trials, return trials, develop, fix, stabilize, add content....and hope that as players leave, others come in to replace the slack. If you get lucky, you could get out an expansion and then start the whole cycle again.

Now, as the player, you can, as I keep seeing on every blog, twitter or forum post...try to enjoy the market and games as they are and pray to whatever God, Gods or Spirit you follow that Star Wars: The Old Republic is that savior you hope it is.

Well, why shouldn't it many other IP based MMO's have been major successes in the last 5 years (/snark).

Truly, we need to understand that the words "WoW Killer" is just not a reality, and until something unique and awe inspiring happens in this genre, shaking the very foundation the MMO stands on, we need to look at each MMO release critically without the added..."Is it like WoW?".

If Halo, Gears of War, Crysis, Call of Duty...and...(damn, don't have enough fingers or toes to count the FPS's available) can all co-exist, why can't the MMO market live the same way.

X-Fire Game: Brought to you by the letters F-A-I-L
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 April 2011, 8:24 am
At least if you were to read all the commentary around the web about Event 2.0 in Rift.

This weekend took a bit of a dive for our beleaguered new game, as their special world event entered phase 2. This went to phase 3 and ended faster than a sitcom episode... yet no one was laughing. Disgruntled players abound across the blogosphere (NSFW posting)(Thats it?)(Queuetastic) and forums. Guess it really did depend on if you were there though, or queued to hell (I was in, and enjoyed it...but, it was short).

How much did this event affect numbers, and how did the weekend go overall for our other MMO's? Lets find out...

(KEY: Click the logos to understand what X-Fire or Raptr is. ↓ Means the game had a loss; and the game is in green text, means it had more players. Thank you.)

  1. Rift - 3982 ( 4317  )
  2. EvE Online - 2017 ( 2087  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 1892 ( 2042  )
  4. Aion -1878 ( 1961  )
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 326 ( 358 ↓ )
  6. Star Trek Online - 287 ( 324  )
  7. Age of Conan - 245 ( 274  )
  8. Champions Online - ?? ( 245 ↓ )
  9. Final Fantasy XIV - 131 ( 122  )
  10. Warhammer Online - 130 ( 163 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe - 41 ( 52 ↓ )
Looking at the chart, you get to see something I have seen before. A mass exodus of X-Fire players. Thats right, when we see loss across the board like this, we pretty much have people uninstalling X-Fire, and moving on. Now, sometimes this can also mean a change in season, like right now is Spring Break...thus less players.

Makes it hard to do our charts.

But, we can garner some things from how big the loss is. Rift DID have a big chunk taken out, but with so many players, this again is still not unexpected. The fact it was an event weekend with free trials though tells us that the normal playerbase IS shrinking. Again, expected (as I discussed in my article about decline). Until we see next week, we cannot comment on this...for now. Just know that Rift STILL has the largest population of players behind WoW, quite easily.

Looking at our normal top 5, we see no major drops for these games, so this mainly is a readjustment for the X-Fire playerbase. Again, it could take weeks or even a month before we see this rectify or stay down.

Champions Online must have updated the client again, as it was broken (this happened when it went free to play) and NO time or player pops are being noted.

Our big winner this week? FFXIV, who had a new patch over the past few days. Next week should tell us how Squeenix is doing and if the patch is fixing this mess of an MMO.

So, how do we know this big loss of numbers isn't all the MMO's sucking? Well, I usually will look at World of Warcraft and see how much loss we see there.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 17th - players   32,882 (34,755 )

Thats pretty big. And if it continues, well, we know X-Fire is in decline, and not our MMO's.

  1. Rift -  2705 ( 3176  players
  2. EvE Online - 967 ( 1006  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 751 ( 780 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 457 ( 496 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 225 ( 261 ↓ )
  6. DC Universe - 179 ( 214 ↓ )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 159 ( 140  )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV - 152 ( 122  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 101 ( 102  )
  10. Age of Conan - 94 ( 83  )
  11. Warhammer Online - 84 ( 71  )
Interesting. Another drop across the board. Spring Break in full swing?

The top 5 all had minor drops, except for Rift. The day after for The Event was kind of like the TV show of the same name (NBC Mondays, 9pm...but, don't look for it very long...cancellation is imminent). Dropping like a rock. Will continue to watch this and see if it stabilizes.

Surprises abound here though. DDO, Final Fantasy, AoC and WAR...all noted super failures, all having a rise on these charts. How odd. Again, as noted in my previous article on decline in the MMO market; players have such a wide choice now, that as long as these games continue to have audiences, they will stay open.

An interesting week. Several factors including loss of playerbase for the time tracking clients, Spring Break for schools...all equal lowered play times.

Rift really took a beating this week, and that is disappointing. The playerbase really has become jaded in regards to new MMO's thanks to so many years of flopped launches. No new game is given a chance. Of course Rift has a few strikes against it...familiar gameplay for those who are invested in the big momma MMO, security issues that is a product of a new tech savvy environment, and then shooting yourself in the foot with giving trials to players during a huge event.

I am unsure if it will recover. It will most likely be relegated to being another contender for the top 3 spot, and stabilize eventually.

For now, the X-Fire game is headed to the beach with numbers like these....time to go ogle some bikini clads until school is back in session.


Spectating Rift:Is that a decline in your pocket or...
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 April 2011, 10:05 am
So, reading a post on the MMORPG forum turned up this little ditty...

"XFire shows a 20% drop of played hours [on Rift] compared to the peak one month ago. So as predicted this latest "great" game is starting to lose ground.
How much you wanna bet that by next month it will be at 50% of peak?"

Why would you believe that? Unless you want it to be so.

It is almost like the players are ready to pounce at ANY bad news and turn it into the ultimate doom. Using any tool at their disposal, they can predict the closure of Rift within a years time. Sales? You bet (look at VGChartz...OH NOES, Rift only has sold less than 200k copies), X-Fire? Shard lists? You name it.

I would prefer to look at it differently.

Right now, the MMO market is flooded with good titles (and yes, some pretty bad ones), but the fact remains; you want to play an MMO, you have some choice now. Throw that stick, don't poke your eye out, and there...hit another MMO.

Of course, the overall "sales" or "success" situation is not helped by the elephant in the room (World of Warcraft) that has this horrible addiction issue for most players. When I hear that a person cannot leave WoW due to how much money and time they have invested into it, then will be hard to get this type of player to move on to a new title.

Why is it that a game is not allowed time to prosper and grow, and must be a huge success out of the gate. The market was never this way to begin with. Again, back to VGChartz and their WoW numbers. Note the steady decline of sales. Yet, it WAS persistent sales, but fell by volume week after week for it's 10 week first run.

But, then it happened. Word of mouth took the game to the next level. People wondered what the hubbub was about. What was this whole MMO "thang". The growth of WoW could be noted as the growth of the genre and not so much this one game.

Right now, Rift or ANY launch MMO will immediately be given to the WoW bear to eat, and players expect as much content, stability and playability as a six year old game. And we cannot change that mentality.

Really, is a 20% decline from a single gaming service like X-Fire indicative of the overall market share? The fact it is just one piece of the pie tells me no. Look at the Raptr numbers, which show a less than 10% loss. Look at the shard listings and see how a majority of servers are still at high...and even some queues.

Decline will really not be noted until we see merges or closure of servers.

But, can even servers being shut down announce the end of Rift? All we need to do is look at the anecdotal evidence to the contrary to see that Rift can stick around and have great success...if they just persist.

Lord of the Rings Online is our perfect example of a major success story. Indie style developer, went big time with LOTRO. But, if we would note LOTRO success, it was not hopping to begin with. When it launched in 2007, it did not get further than #24 on the X-Fire charts. By near the end of 2008 it was laying off staff and free to play was but a whispered secret that no one wanted their game to be. On launch, LOTRO only sold 172,000 copies in it's first quarter...THATS IT.

Yet, 4 years later, Turbine is lauded as a major progenitor of the Free to Play for Triple AAA products.

Now, if Rift was a major "wreck" of a game, then yes, I could clearly see them falling and tumbling. For that example, look to Age of Conan. This was the game everyone required to fail. Predictions were pasted all over the blogs, various websites,, heck, Kotaku actually SHUT THEM DOWN due to posting a fluff piece by a hater.

"Suckered in by the newbie zone, 700,000 souls subscribed. Faced with the rest of the game after level 20, they unsubscribed. It all lasted a bit over two months."

Using this criteria, AoC should have been long gone in Year One. Three years later, and still moving along with another MMO in development.

Aion is another "hated" MMO. Many a player wrote the game off as the biggest failure of it's year. YET, the game still pops into our top 5 of listed MMO's, and even has times where it spikes higher on X-Fire and Raptr, due to returning players. NCSoft financials list the game as stable...and if anything, was the game that gave them help in moving Guild Wars 2 forward and money for NCSofts next development title, Blade and Soul.

The MMO market, if anything, has become like the music market. More artists, more songs, equal more players vying for the kids dollars. Why can't all MMO's co-exist?

Play the game you like, but if anything, if you feel Rift is on the downward spiral, maybe it is you the player that is actually done with the genre?

Let me tell you about Dragon Age and Consoles...

X-Fire Game: Whats the numbers there, Kenneth?
Posted by Lowered Expectations [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 April 2011, 10:23 am
This past Sundays stats show just a glimmer in how our MMO's are progressing. Some major anomalies still exist though between what X-Fire says and how Raptr is tracking. Luckily, the combination of the two give us some great insight into how the various games are holding up.

Stay tuned, as I also look at progression of the Rift charts near the end. For now, lets see how our services are ranking the MMO's.

  1. Rift - 4317 ( 4493  )
  2. EvE Online - 2087 ( 1938  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 2042 ( 1959  )
  4. Aion -1961 ( 1919  )
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 358 ( 371 ↓ )
  6. Star Trek Online - 324 ( 318  )
  7. Age of Conan - 274 ( 281  )
  8. Champions Online - 245 ( 257 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 163 ( 168 ↓ )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 122 ( 119  )
  11. DC Universe - 52 ( 58 ↓ )
If we really look at this chart, we can clearly see what happened here. As people left Rift (in small amounts, mind you), they started to go back to their old MMO's. But, with such a small drop for Rift, I can only assume that like other BIG MMO's (you know the one), the numbers fluctuate as one leaves, another starts.

Rift is still rocking our charts with over double the number of players for the main MMO's we have been tracking. If I had to take a stab at numbers right now, I would put Rift at about 600 to 800k players (subs?). I do this strictly on how many players we have heard EVE Online has (WIKI notes 300k players back in 2009, and I have seen growth on the X-Fire charts, so that could be closer to 400k now). Now, lets say I used my infamous calc system I have discussed in the PAST, I could see Rift having roughly 930k players (4317 x 215.5). Close to the 1 million mark I keep noting as the "success point" that MMO's need to be considered a viable market. Using that same calc gives EVE 450k (right on my money prediction ...). So, wonder what they REALLY have?

I tell you what... I will save that for a new post later in the week...

Basically, EVE, LOTRO and Aion are all back up this week. Why leave an MMO you have invested so much time into if you were not bored in the first place...right? Rift is definitely for those who like their MMO kinda like the other guys...but, have been fed up with how those other games have been run. I can see, just by looking at this chart, that these 3 games will be around a long time (PS: And to all the Aion haters...sorry, but Aion IS a success story, no matter how much YOU hate it.)

Most of the usual low end MMO's took dips this week. FFXIV had a slight tweak upward though, and is back to the numbers it was showing before Japanaquake 2011. I am happy they at least are keeping this dedicated crowd. But, really; it's still free...why wouldn't they?

We have a new loser this week. DC Universe. I expected this. I also expect more SOE Free to Play action...especially for something that cost them so much...they really need to deliver here. These numbers are not cutting it. Hope the PS3 version is at least keeping people.

  1. Rift - 3176 ( 3448  players
  2. EvE Online - 1006 ( 945  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 780 ( 847 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 496 ( 525 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 261 ( 253  )
  6. DC Universe - 214 ( 191  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 140 ( 232  )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV - 122 ( 136  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 102 ( 114  )
  10. Age of Conan - 83 ( 123  )
  11. Warhammer Online - 71 ( 59  )
Lets just report this as we see it. Raptr really has no rhyme or, I am just gonna deliver their mess...LOL.

As we saw with X-Fire, EVE is back up...yet, LOTRO and Aion fall. Confusing indeed.

Champions is up? Yea. Weird. But, even weirder??? DC Universe cranking so high on these charts. I often wonder if the numbers from the PS3 mix in with these results. When I look at the PS3 says 6 players. LOL.

DDO had a very nasty drop here, and I plan to watch this and see if it continues. X-Fires drop was minor and was to be expected due to nothing event wise going on. Why DDO would drop so far on Raptr is a mystery.

Pretty much drops across the board here. So, X-Fire shows more risers this week, while Raptr shows droppers. Yet, last week X-Fire showed drops, and Raptr showed risers...

So confusing. One can only assume either demographics or region with these services. Wish I could get more data out of them to find out.

Now, this week, I want to take a trip down memory lane...and do the Rift charts from Riftideas ( I had used these previously while we watched how servers progressed through time. I decided to get some relative charts from various prime time Sunday's for both the EU and US markets.

Lets see how this went.

3/27 - Germany 8PM

4/3 - Germany 8PM

4/10 - Germany 9PM

So, note the progression of the EU servers (Right hand side) as we went through the weeks. The start had quite a few full (queued) servers on 3/27. As time went on, less servers were queued, but then we noted, no low servers. Finally at this week, we have mostly medium and high servers, with just one queued now.

Some comments had been made about tweaking server sizes. But, I also wonder if players moved around and joined alternate servers? Hard to say. The one thing we can see most is that no server is low now...and that is kind of cool.

3/27 - USA 8:30PM EST

4/3 - USA 9PM EST

4/10 - USA 9PM EST

We can note the decline of the servers as time progressed. Quite a few noted as highs went to mediums. But, some swapping took place (I can look and immediately see one medium going to high). players joining, while old players leave...about a two to one drop (two leave; one enters).

The most disturbing part is how fast the EU servers went from a few lows to mostly lows at this off peak schedule. Alarming changes...but, maybe not unprecedented.

Keeping most of these servers will be the key to how well Rift is doing. If all servers can stay up or at least most with minimal merges, then Rift will be rocking.

So, as we come to a close, I just want to throw in the final World of Warcraft chart from X-Fire. Maybe I might check back in on them on a monthly basis, but this final number will be it.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 10th - players  34,755 ( 34,325 )

Once you go crack, it makes you whack and then you go back. So, yes people....players decided that old graphics and gameplay that calls for dedication (et, al; addiction) keeps em coming back. Anecdotally, a guildie in Rift noted to me that their friend REALLY wants to try Rift...but, they have so much time and money invested into WoW, they just can't do it.

And yet, that persons dedication could be all wiped out by just one hack or drive failure. SCARY.

But, as expected. Rift HAS made a dent, but, WoW will hold the crown for a long time to come. When it comes to MMO's...there is WoW...then there are the other guys who combined STILL don't have enough players to outdo WoW (unless your an Asian grinder....and that is a whole other story).

Next contender please...

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