December 26, 2007
I think I qualify for the title of “Earliest family ripping open presents on Christmas Day.” What an awesome day though!
5 AM, my son woke up too fast, and when that happens he generally tends to be sad. So my husband brought him into our room, and right behind him is our daughter, who heard the noise and decided to take advantage of the limited time offer of sleeping in mom and dad’s bed.
So there we are, all four of us snuggled in bed, and I’m lying there waiting for the other shoe to drop. Nothing! They forgot what day it is! I get to sleep in a little more! Yay!
That lasted about 2 minutes, and then both of them got up to speed on the whole deal. It was cute to hear my not-quite-two-year-old son breathlessly gasp, “Presents!,” when he realized that it was, indeed, Christmas morning.
I have several favorite Christmas moments, because this is really the first year that both kids are old enough to “get it,” more or less:
- Watching my son play with his new GeoTrax train set. All morning. All afternoon. And if we didn’t have to go to a family get together later in the day, I don’t doubt that he would have continued to play with it all evening too. Santa really delivered!
- Watching my daughter hold her new stuffed elephant. This was a funny story, because she had been asking Santa for a guitar book any time she saw him, but right at the last minute, as we were making out a card for him to put with the cookies, she stated she also wanted a stuffed elephant like the one in her brother’s crib.
Last minute shopping really stinks! Anyway, Santa did deliver, but the elephant was slightly different from her brother’s. She still loved it, and it’s tucked in her bed with her right now. PHEW!
- Setting up the nativity scene with my kids. They’re both still a little young to get the whole story of Jesus’ birth, but I showed my daughter the little wooden manger, and she wanted me to set it up in her room, so I arranged it on her toy box. I sat with the kids and tried to tell a very basic story of Christmas. Next thing I know, my daughter hands out the Three Kings, so that we’re each one of them, walking up to give the gifts. I’m getting all happy and proud, and then I see my son backing up his ice cream truck towards the manger. It seems Jesus wanted Rocky Road. After that, the animals from the manger apparently decided to run away, and it was up to Lightning McQueen to track them down and bring them back. Maybe this version is from the Testament To Be Named Later.
- Hearing my daughter, later that day at the grocery story, ask me if we could buy some sippy cups for the new baby that’s coming. What’s even funnier is that I didn’t put the two and two together till a few days later!
- Reading The Snowy Day – over,and over, and over. Then, going outside to make tracks, smack snow covered trees, and make snow angels, in the first snow of the year. Of course, our first foray outside was not without tears. My son was opposed to putting on snowpants, boots, and mittens. He also refused to set foot in the snow that day, so I carried him the entire time. Luckily, the next day, he was fine, although he cried when it was time to go inside for lunch. Can’t. win.
On another note, I got to be on Darren’s latest episode of Shut up We’re Talking, and I had a blast. We had some great discussions, and I got to meet Troy from the Wife Aggro Podcast, and Mark from Channel Massive. I wish we had talked longer! Gonna have to have my people talk to Darren’s people and set up another episode.
I also got to be on the latest episode of The Maelstrom Podcast, and got to be part of history, as they crammed 9 people into one skype call. It was supposed to be a recording for EQual Perspectives, but about 30 minutes in, Troy got a call from one of the Maelstrom guys, and next thing I know, my screen is full of new names and instructions on how to use audacity and how to ftp. Again, it was great to chat with others in the blog and podcast world. Thanks especially to Adam from Troll on Fire, who helped me out with newbie recording questions and who, it turns, out, is another New Englander!
Anyway, I can’t believe this year is almost over. I hope it’s been as good to everyone who reads this as it has to me. I’ve had a blast with my guildmates this past year – I’m looking forward to more adventures.
Rest easy Santa, you deserve it!
Posted by jayernh under Archive | Comments (1)
December 22, 2007
I’ve only been back into EQ2 for a short time, but last weeks revelation about a guild, Unhallowed Triad/Unholy Trinity, on the Test Server being transferred to a live one was quite a surprise to return to.
Here is the background. Long story short, a guild that was closely tied to SoE development was given the privelege of moving from test to live, which is unprecedented and generally considered against transfer policy.
What’s the big deal? In an age of instanced zones, it’s not like it would affect anyone’s play or opportunity to progress. The only consequence, really, is that this guild will always have a symbolic asterisk next to their names any time someone evaluates their accomplishments in game. That’s not a big deal at all.
But it is a big deal, because if there’s one thing about MMOs, it’s that justice is often denied, and players as a result, have become very sensitive to any signs of unfair treatment or rules being broken. In MMOs, there are tons and tons of rules that have been coded and established. And the combination of learning from the past, and more sophisticated technology, has allowed for even more rules to be put in place. Anyone who thinks back to the early days of EQ, for example, would probably recoil in horror at some of the things that players were able to get away with. Kill stealing wizzies who were ganking mobs from entire groups, players who were able to loot items off corpses when given consent, and of course, who can forget Fansy the bard.
One of the best known threads among the Prexus community is one called “Twinks with dragon loot.” The original poster was bemoaning the fact that he saw a character with no last name, geared up in dragon loot, and he thought it was ridiculous that someone’s low level twink was able to get gear that most high level players hadn’t gotten yet. It became famous because the character actually was a high level player who just decided not to add a surname, but the point stands that players want to feel like they are in a virtual world that is generally fair and just.
Today, games do a much better job of keeping things social, but not to the point that the asshats of the world can ruin someone’s gaming experience. It’s not 100% foolproof though, and often, when we see an offense or an injustice, there is never any reckoning or atonement. How many times have you been trained by someone? How many times have you seen the perpetrator get punished for it? Even when someone is punished for breaking the rules, it’s usually long after, and you almost never actually learn that fact. When the guild Ebonlore, for example, got disbanded in Vanguard, with several banned accounts, the reaction from the players was more of “why did it take so long?!” rather than “good job!”
This particular issue with the EQ2 test guild is made more complicated by the fact that it involves developers. To some extent, when you look at the concept of a virtual world, those who create it are, for lack of a better description, virtual gods. They are the creators, they set things in motion, and from time to time, they tweak and interject to ensure that things run smoothly. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing fellow players break the rules, but we expect that those who actually make the rules will at least follow them.
Frankly, I think the reaction from Sony Management was lacking, given the issue. This response in particular was probably not the best choice of words:
There has been quite a bit of discussion recently about something we were doing to show kindness to some valued members of our testing community who have been working diligently to improve EverQuest II for the last three years.
What we did was take a group of characters from the test server, scrub them by hand of all test gear, and any ‘privileged’ equipment, titles, etc, and grant their wish to continue to play as a group of friends, on a live server.
Had we been aware that being a little extra kind to these folks would cause such an uproar, there is no doubt we would not have taken this step. However, due to the current situation, I find myself apologizing to you for allowing this situation to occur.
We are in the process now of removing the characters that we copied to the live servers. Obviously, we overstepped the bounds of kindness in attempting to thank these people for their efforts in testing, and we are working to rectify this situation before the end of the day today.
Bruce “Froech” Ferguson
Senior Producer, EverQuest II
The apology above reminds me, just a teenie bit, of Mattel apologizing to China for a recent toy recall. After all, how dare anyone point out that Chinese factories break rules, dunk kids toys in lead paint, sell poisoned dog food, and ship out recycled chop sticks! And how dare the players point out that copying over an entire guild from test to live is breaking the rules!
Bottom line is, this is a case where those in charge should have known better. If they wanted to copy a guild off the test server, fine. But be upfront about it, and be consistent. Offer a one time, limited opportunity to anyone on test, for example. Consider even a one time transfer to everyone, for a limited time, so that those who have been complaining about overcrowded, lagged out servers can have a more enjoyable experience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with developers wanting to show kindness to players, and in general, I think developers and community managers do a fantastic job of that. But this was an act of favoritism, done under the rug. That’s just not acceptable.
Posted by jayernh under Archive,Everquest II | Comments (4)
December 15, 2007
I *HAD* to get a reindeer! When I read that they had put in a flying reindeer mount named Randolph, my first though was….
……….my son is a developer for Vanguard! The reason why I say that is because both Vanguard and my son are looking at a flying, red-nosed reindeer, and getting the name wrong. It’s Rudolph! Not Randolph, and not Pluto, as my almost-two-year-old son insists. At this point, I know he’s not confused, he’s just pushing my buttons when he runs up to me, points to the reindeer, and says, “Look, Mommy, Pluto!” But I digress…
I love holiday events! Troy and I had a little debate about this on our last podcast, because he sorta feels like it would have been better to keep the focus on fixing the game, instead of diverting manpower to setting up this in game event. While I see his point, I feel like the Festival of Glorian is important, precisely because the community has patiently played through many roadbumps and issues in the game for the past year. They deserve a breather. They deserve some fun details. And in game events are the type of detail that I hope to see more of.
If you haven’t seen it, the in game items are gorgeous. By the time I logged in, Andaraiel had already decked out our guild hall with a beautiful Christma…er, Glorian tree, as well as several neat presents. I got a nice wreath later, as well as a smaller tree that I stuck by the fireplace. Maybe more than one tree will mean extra presents. Vanguard has always excelled at “the look,” and they delivered once again with the decorations.
Of course, Update 3 isn’t just about presents! Ancient Port Warehouse went live, and despite some issues with high ping rates when the shards reached a certain number of people, things went smoothly. I’m really happy they went with the idea of shards for this raid zone. You can argue about the purity of uninstanced content all day long, but the reality is that Vanguard is top heavy with guilds that have been ready to raid for months. Having just one location for APW on a given server would have meant meltdown. It’s great to see that guilds can enjoy the challenge of the content, rather than the disastrous effects of overcrowding, lack of content, training, KS’ing, and all those other fun things that can occur. Besides, it’s not really instancing in the true definition of the word anyway. Smartly done, and something I had hoped for long ago.
This Update also added optimizations to Khal, as well as a new setting called character occlusion. I checked out Khal, and it looks great. There was a real improvement in performance too, which is a nice sign of things to come down the road.
Anyway, I’m off to do a flyover with my new friend! Happy Holidays!
Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard General | Comments (2)