Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye 2016!

I think a lot of people will agree with the sentiment that happiness is viewing 2016 in the rear view mirror. I won't go on about real life; I think enough people outside gaming have already done so. Instead I'll take a quick look at gaming, or at least what has seeped into my awareness.

Surprisingly, EVE Online did not turn into a dumpster fire. The player base received big changes to EVE such as the selling of skill points and the introduction of a limited free-to-play (aka freemium) option, quite well. The possibility of citadel play I think is cautiously optimistic in null sec and w-space, although I'm not sure about high sec. The elimination of gambling in EVE was a major plus in my eyes from an anti-RMT standpoint, even though a gambling site with ties to illicit RMT did drive 2016's biggest political & military event, the Casino War (aka World War Bee).

In the gaming space outside EVE, governments began to take notice of skins gambling, cracking down on the betting surrounding Counter Strike: Global Operations. CCP's banning of gambling followed the industry trend, although CCP Seagull told Polygon the reason for banning sites like IWANTISK and Eve-Bet was that "unassailable wealth" breaks the game. Personally, I think CCP had multiple good reasons for banning gambling. The legal reasons for banning the practice take on more credibility if the rumors of a sale of CCP to a major game studio or technology company are more than a trial balloon.

Illicit (aka black market) RMT saw a resurgence in EVE during 2016. In that area, EVE is no different than any other game that introduces a free-to-play option or high value items that players are willing to play real life cash for. Humans avoiding the authorities to get a good deal has gone on since the dawn of history. All a game company can do is try to minimize the damage. I'll have more on the subject early in 2017.

Outside of EVE, I managed to get a character to the old level cap of 50 in Star Wars: The Old Republic. During 2017 I should try to get my character up to the current level cap of 65. Currently she's at 52. I have a tendency to roll female characters if I don't intend to play with others. SWTOR is kind of one of those games you can play solo. Besides, the mustaches on male characters look so cheesy and Jo Wyatt is a great voice actor.

In other games, I tried to play Black Desert Online, but fast action games with combos like in an arcade are not my cup of tea. I think I lasted 30 minutes. I bought the expansion for Guild Wars 2 but didn't get around to playing. I probably should in 2017.

The big shift in my game habits is virtual reality games. I purchased an Oculus Rift a few weeks ago and am having a blast. I probably should try to limit my playtime as playing the games is impacting the frequency of my blogging. Maybe once I finish EVE: Gunjack. I finished the second bonus map last night and have five more maps to play. After that I have to finish Lucky's Tale, or at least finish the second chapter. That game is a time sink, and I normally don't like platformers. Maybe I should avoid picking up the Touch controllers for the sake of my time and wallet.

In other news, I'll still keep an eye out on Star Citizen. I don't expect the game to emerge out of beta in 2017, but I'm sure some sort of drama will emerge. Star Citizen is the type of game I'd never play, but the business aspects have the potential to impact the gaming industry very negatively. At this point, I don't see much of an upside.

The year 2016 is probably most lamented for all the celebrity deaths over the past twelve months.  In the world of online gaming, we didn't lose that many compared to 2014 and 2015. I don't think many will miss City of Steam (which I briefly played) and the infamous Scarlet Blade. Asheron's Call 1 & 2, left behind when Turbine packed up Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online to Standing Stone Games and Daybreak, will close in January 2017. John Smedley dreams, in the forms of EverQuest Next and Hero's Song, died before the games launched.

In our virtual worlds, death rarely means a whole lot, but in 2016 it encroached into mine. EVE Twitch talk show host and former Eve Radio host BigCountry passed in November. I'm not sure what it is about EVE, but death seems to hit rather hard in the game. Perhaps the single shard nature amplifies the effect a person can have on the universe. More likely, smaller server sizes in other games just means we don't notice unless someone makes a video that goes viral.

The following video didn't go viral, but did appear on the final o7 Show of the year. Perhaps it fitting to end my final post of the year with a remembrance of those who didn't make it to see 2017.

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