Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


One thing you can say about the last year or so: it hasn't been kind to the MMO genre.  Star Wars: The Old Republic started the trend, which has continued with troubles around Lord of the Rings Online and Guild Wars 2 and Rift, and the collapse of Kingdoms of Amalur before it could get launched properly.  Smaller MMOs have also been struggling a bit.  So it hasn't exactly been a friendly environment in which to launch an MMO lately.  Hell, it can be argued that the last year has put a damper on MMO development in general.

Certainly, Bungee is off working on Destiny, but that's been pushed to 2014.  Chris Roberts is still sending weekly updates on Star Citizen, but that won't be out this year either.  Which leaves only the small possibility that Neverwinter or The Elder Scrolls Online will be launched before the year is out.  The former is moving into open beta, the latter into closed beta.  As we roll closer to E3, it's likely that we're going to hear a lot about both titles.

Neither of these games is any danger whatsoever to EVE Online.

Now obviously, the latter game is the one I'm more excited about.  The initial ESO trailer did very little for me.  As a matter of fact, my initial reaction to it was "are you going to have any Elder Scrolls in your Elder Scrolls game?"  But during the roll-up to E3 we're seeing more interviews with Bethesda Softworks developers and producers, and more game-play footage.  And I'm pleased to say that the new stuff is getting the atmosphere a lot closer to the games I remember.

Will it be any good?  It has the chance.  That said, it's looking more and more like we're going to get another World of Warcraft or GW2 clone, which is a shame.  Four- and 24-character instances, a theme park opening story, and the other information being revealed this week makes me... well, it makes me sad.  I knew that ESO wasn't going to be an open world sandbox style game like EVE... there have never been any promises made by Bethesda that anything like that was on the horizon.  Still, Tamriel has always felt so open to me anyway that I think I was projecting more of my hopes onto it than would ever be reality.

Given my commitments right now, it's probably for the best that I haven't been selected for the closed beta so far.

And beyond that, there's a reason it hasn't appeared in the list of upcoming MMOs I want to play off to the right yet.  I've played a couple of WoW clones already, and I've got very little interest in starting another.  And I can't believe I just said that about an Elder Scrolls game of all things.  I've been an ES fan all the way back to Daggerfall.

Still, the new game-play videos do look pretty damn nice, and it's particularly nice to see a lot of the old races, environments, and special effects back in a big way.  In much the same way that SWTOR was sold as "The Old Republic three, four, and five", I might have to devote a few hours to this one just to immerse myself in this world that I've been playing in for... wow... almost 20 years now.  Yeah, I think I owe the guys at Bethesda that much.

But there's a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm, if you know what I mean...  Anyone else feeling this?  Or is this game even on your radar?


  1. In all honesty, I've lost all interest in WoW clones. I've always played Bethesda's games for open world and the ability to take off in a random direction and spend hours traveling there. What I've seen of Elder Scrolls Online simply didn't move me.

  2. Yeah I have to agree with you about ESO simply because it won't improve anything.

    I've been a fan of the Elder Scrolls games since Arena (showing my age now :P) and so far each game has surpassed its predecessor by adding better gameplay in an innovative way; like Skyrim did with getting rid of 'classes' and allowing play styles to evolve organically rather than the game saying "You can't do that because I said so!".

    I also remember reading about Skyrim when it first come out with the devs saying that they would NEVER make a multiplayer version because it doesn't fit well with their game and most often multiplayer is completely immersion breaking; especially MMO games.

    Personally I think ESO will most likely bomb - its strength comes from a well known title, but it didn't help SW:TOR do well and so they can't assume that all the fans of Skyrim will play this (and stick around) because the game experience won't even be close.

    I played SW:TOR when that was first released as I am a big fan of the star wars universe; but even that they simply took the grind from WoW and adding voice overs onto the quests - most of the quests themselves were boring and mundane and having some voice over guy really trying to sell you a fetch quest or kill quest is really annoying; especially when you KNOW that is going to be the same old thing you've done before, and yet still didn't care the first time you were asked to save some NPC's virtual crops or whatever.

    I guess that is where EVE differs in one simple fact: Motivation. In EVE you set your own goals and your own way of achieving them, and because they are your own goals you have much more desire to see them fulfilled. Most 'themepark MMOs' have some 'big bad NPC' guy hanging over the game to make you feel like your working towards something; but its still just an artificial goal and becomes comical when you start adding expansions on (like warcraft; the first bad guy was the lich king, then its some dude in outland, and then its some dragon) so which guy is it? And why should I care? During play I don't seem to be adversely affected by them so why should I care?

  3. I feel almost exactly the same as you. As a Daggerfall veteran of the series I will try it; but after many years of WoW and its clones that type of game just doesn't move me anymore.
    But hope dies last and maybe Bethesda takes the hint of last years "mmo-successes" and makes TESO more open world and less themepark ...
    Though hope seems to be in intensive care.

  4. The only MMO in development I'm paying any attention to is Pathfinder Online by Goblinworks. It's going to be a sandbox world with theme-park dungeons, much like EVE, including its economy. Thankfully, through the weekly dev blogs, we can see that the designers are tackling many of the issues that plague EVE's PvP, such as griefing and the character power curve.

    If this wasn't squarely a fantasy game, I'd be worried for EVE.

    1. D&D: what tanks Pathfinder Online for me.

  5. theres only one other game im excited about - starbound - http://playstarbound.com/

  6. I plan to give it a go. I'm enjoying Neverwinter's "open beta" a lot more than I expected to, and while I only ever played Morrowind in the Elder Scrolls series, I have enough nostalgia for it that I'm willing to try out the MMO version of the world, even if I never got into Oblivion or Skyrim.

  7. Neverwinter is out already. It's "open beta" but otherwise completely functional.

    I burned out after a week of playing it, it's crap.

  8. *cough* *cough*

    *Points to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn*

    *cough* *cough*

    Easy to overlook... Only developed by one of Japans leading game studios, published by Sony Online Entertainment, and has one of the strongest IP's in the gaming industry. It also comes out on August 27th, so is a big title coming out this year... Oh, and it's the first "real" MMORPG to be released on the PS3, and comes complete with cross-platform servers. As well as the ability to pay a single subscription, and play on both platforms.

    Also, I've been involved with it since beta phase 2, and can say that it's actually really good. So much so that I've actually pre-ordered it, which is something I've never done for a game before (*gulp*). Much better than Neverwinter online, which I'm currently playing too.

    Just thought I'd bring that to your attention.

    1. Interesting, I was just seeing that email that came around for the launch of FFXIV. I'm to be honest, hesistant, I bought the original thinking it was going to be as good as FFXI, but well, we all know what happened.

      I applied to Beta, but no luck yet. Did they fix the quest system? What about the Synthesis?!

    2. After the complete flop that the initial version of Final Fantasy XIV was, a lot of people are not going to give the title a second chance.

    3. Yup, both aspects have been totally reinvented... To be honest, just about everything has been remade from the ground up.

      Have a watch of - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ufd0lKUVAQQ - It's nearly 2 hours long, but if you skip through it you'll get a feel for all the new/remade systems.

      If you bought the original FFXIV, then you can just pay £8 to try it out for a month, without having to purchase a box copy for £20.

  9. Swtor has many good ideas and it is actually a nice wow-clone to play up until max level. But for the hype it got, it is a sore disappointment.

    Guild Wars 2 is a very fresh game with lots of innovative ideas and good quality, but an Eve-style sandbox game it is not.

    The Elder Scrolls Online is on my watch list, sure, though on peripherally. I am reserving opinion on it until there's more info. And an Eve-style sandbox game it is not.

    Overall, Eve is in its very own category. There have been some few titles in Eve's genre but they haven't been very impressive. Very few companies are even interested in making a game like that. It's much easier to make a theme park game. Certainly if you are looking for an alternative to Eve, forget about the big names by big companies.

    The one I am watching is http://www.therepopulation.com/. No idea what will really come out of that yet, but it is an Eve-style sandbox game and sounds fairly interesting.

  10. "Star Wars: The Old Republic started the trend, which has continued with troubles around Lord of the Rings Online and Guild Wars 2 and Rift, and the collapse of Kingdoms of Amalur before it could get launched properly."

    What trend did SWTOR start that then continued to the other titles mentioned? Is it just general bad news on the MMO front, in which case I think it pre-dates SWTOR, or do you have something more specific in mind?

    1. imo, it started back with Age of Conan and WAR

  11. Off Topic query and comment:

    Can I/we bring up CSM & related stuff here? or do you have a preferred method for playerbase contact other than your blog?

    There are some issues with probing in Odyssey that I really want to hear your feedback on.

    JIC you are ok with this here, the changes to probing:

    1. removal of the Deep Space Probe (bad)

    Over all nerf of probes/probing thru:
    a. probes cannot be 'lost' to timer or by warping/jumping; IE probes are now 'magic';

    b. due to 'a' probable negative (and un-needed) backlash on market;

    c. no option to use probes the old way. IE changes are too invasive; Example: cannot launch just one probe unless you unload and load just one;

    Comments? (if I don't see any in a week or so I will not do this again).

  12. I am admittedly not at all invested in the Elder Scrolls games, so when I saw the video you linked, I thought, "oh, look, another epic fantasy MMO. Why would I prefer this to Guild Wars 2?"

    That said--and ironically, considering the sheer number of attempts at this--epic fantasy is poorly suited to MMOs for exactly the reason that Lee stated. The genre requires a Huge Existential Threat that is overcome by the Sole Savior of Everyone, with optional 5-man band. That's a ham-fisted enough plot line to be difficult to pull off in a single-player game, or any other medium for that matter. When you and 3,000 other people are the Sole Savior of Everyone all at once, and the game has to keep serving up new Huge Existential Threats, the whole thing rapidly descends into (literary and colloquial) absurdity. From 30,000 feet, WoW is a Beckett play.

    One of the things that saves EVE is the player created content, to some extent, but there's a stark limit to the nature and the amount of content that EVE players can create, and they have no lasting impact on the world unless CCP deems it so (the statue in Jita). In a sense, it's just a different kind of absurdity. So what I think saves EVE is that you aren't special; not to the plot, and not relative to other people. Other characters are not engaged in the same Massively Parallel Single Player Game that you are, saving the same world from the same threat at more or less the same time. They are in the world with you. There is a plot, there are threats, and there should be in order for the EVE universe to feel like a universe of trillions rather than a small town. But the whole game is not built around those things.

    I'm feeling pretty good about CCP's direction right now, so don't take this as "EVE is dying," because that's crap: If I were their Executive Producer, I'd be trying to find ways to let players leave a lasting, or even permanent, mark on the world. It would be possible for other players to go all Carthago delenda est and do their utmost to wipe that mark out, but it wouldn't be nearly as easy as it is now. That's a hard problem to solve, but on a 10 year development arc I think it's perfectly feasible. Because if there's one thing that clearly distinguishes EVE from the other sci-fi and sandbox games coming out, it's the ability to really go big.

  13. Guess I'm a bitter gaming vet: No game is on my radar, in particular not MMOs (one at a time is enough for me). If something comes out and gets decent reviews, I might consider it, but until then I have plenty of other things to keep me occupied.

  14. M'eh. SW:ToR was oversold by BioWare and rushed out the door by EA. More than enough blame to go around. I followed the game, and debated on the forums, back when common opinion was that there would be no classes, no defined roles, and free-form character development. None of it occurred, of course, and mostly because it would be impossible to build. The only way a sandbox seems to work is if it attracts players interested in the meta-game, the economic game, or the purely social aspects. Or mindless griefers, they seem to love the model. It will never provide an environment for people who want to kick-back and have a good, challenging adventure.

    The bigger problem with ESO will be making the reactive combat system work in an MMO. Imagine trying to synchronize the block-attack choices of players with 50 or 100 of them in the same map area. If I see a good, non-staged, capture of combat in a busy space I'll think about giving it a try.

  15. The problem is over the past 5-6 years companies have been flooding the market with cheap MMOs seeking to get some of that market share that was defined as the "WoW Market".

    This has produced so many junk games that us the players have had to buy and unsub over and over again all lured but big name game companies or shiny co-writers like Lucas Arts or other famous titles… Halo Online…haha

    The problem is none of these games were very different and us the gamers have been looking for new anything. the companies scooped up every Dev they could on the market - locked them in the office and told them to create a MMO asap. This killed creativity and set the stage for the last 5 years of copy/paste MMOs. Resulting in huge losses for the companies and far less investment in ANOTHER MMO title that’s actually different and new.

    Look at all the now free to play MMOs out there now. The actual income generated is from pay to win die-hards out there who are too invested to leave and that income is probably just softening the losses from dev costs.

    So with the over populated market and financial losses endured from the flood, we have low investment from big companies. This creates "indy" games to grow and set the stage for something truly new and awesome to be expected in the next 5 years for the industry.

    I think the next great thing will be an MMO that combines many of the popular themes/elements from the last 10 years of successful MMOs, and to me that is all about the players shaping the game PLUS an awesome subscription program that give players flexibility and opportunity to pay as much or as little as they want.

    Player run everything is going to be the key going forward. Its so much more natural and engrossing when all your actions can make an impact in the game. And that freedom really makes you want to play and keep on playing as you get your kicks doing whatever you feel like doing.

  16. I was very excited about SWTOR, but so badly disapointed. Unless the horrible delay-ghost hits, 2014 will be great. In addition to Star Citizen we should have Elite Dangerous:

    Glad I backed both and secured early access so the wait may be a little bit shorter :o)

  17. I stopped playing guild wars 2 and every other mmo since finding Eve last year. When I can't slip a knife between the ribs of the player standing next to me simply because the game mechanics won't let me it doesn't make sense. I hate the god like nature of CONCORD, but Eve's always on PvP has spoiled me. That said, a lot of Eve is plain broken or long in the tooth. If Star Citizen doesn't go carebear then I have high hopes for it. I'm even an early backer on kickstarter for it.

  18. Any word on the sequel to Elite: Frontiers comming out? I still look foundly at old memories of playing Elite on my old Commodore 64 & later Elite Frontiers Newtonian physics allowing such things as slingshot manuvers. It'd be tuf though to do with a single shard

    1. http://elitedangerous.tumblr.com

  19. "I knew that ESO wasn't going to be an open world sandbox style game like EVE... there have never been any promises made by Bethesda that anything like that was on the horizon."
    This is why I have no interest in ESO at all. I know I'm only 1 fish in a huge sea, but I let them know on their facebook page that they missed a great opportunity to make the world really alive, with guilds and shops run by players and other kinds of mechanics. (I also let them know if they kept bleeding mechanics between ES and FO series, I'd only have need to buy one of them, but that's not on topic.)

  20. You give DF:UW a shot Jester? I think you played DF1 a bit right?

    ESO is going to be a complete mess btw. Won't be worse than SW:TOR (because that's nearly impossible), but it will just be another blah game dragging down a respectable IP.

  21. I'm honestly surprised Camelot Unchained isn't at least on your radar. Huge RvR emphasis. Mostly open world with a lot of sandbox features. Not trying to be the next WoW, but rather just carve out a niche.

    It seems like something a lot of EVE players would like, if you were looking for a fantasy style EVE.

    Granted, its not coming out this year, but it was kickstarted and the lead creator is very open and vocal about its development. I'm hugely hopeful, since I played DAoC before I played EVE.


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