EQNext : Do You Hear the Ratonga Squeak?

Ratonga in EQNext

Defiance TV show will be on iTunes

Trion’s upcoming MMOFPS, Defiance, will be launching twinned with its very own television show. Alas, not all of us have access to the SyFy channel (I can’t take them seriously since they did that to their name), so may have been contemplating “other” means of viewing the Defiance show.

However, as I just learned from a tweet by Defiance writer Clark Perry, it turns out that it will be coming out on iTunes. I’d have preferred Netflix to avoid having to pay an extra charge, but iTunes will do. I asked him if he new how much the cost per episode would be, and he guessed $1.99, but we’ll need to wait and see to be sure.

There’s a 15 minute pilot preview and a “making of” documentary available for free.

I’m planning on playing the daylights out of Defiance, so I’m glad I’ll have a simple way to keep up with the show. I think its going to be fascinating to see how well (or badly) running an MMO alongside a parallel television production will work. If it goes to plan, I could see it becoming a standard methodology.

The Jigsaw of Lord British – What lies beyond the gate?

The timer over at “Lord British Presents” continues to tick down (causing me no end of excitement), but our noble leader has not been idle.

We now know that the announcement relates to his “Ultimate RPG”. I suspect that’s intended as a name as close to “Ultima” as possible, rather that a claim that it will be the last RPG ever made. Let’s hope so, at any rate.

The Ultimate RPG facebook page has been releasing pieces of a map, but a map of what? At first sight, it looks like a fairly generic RPG sort of map. Hardly something that would excite us in itself. The importance of it then must lie in the details of what it shows. Is there something there that a Britannian might recognise?

Sosaria, later named Britannia, has morphed and shifted many times over the years, so looking for any exact matches is probably going to be an exercise in futility.

Ultimate RPG Jigsaw

The third piece is the most instantly recognisable to me. On the northern edge of the map is a settlement that looks an awful lot like Skara Brae, seat of Spirituality, the island town which sat off Britannia’s western coast. On the coast itself was a smaller settlement from whence the ferry would scurry back and forth. With it being on the edge of the map, there is no way to tell if it is truly an island or not.

The first piece is trickier, but the small settlement in a lake makes me think of Castle British, which would make the hint of further buildings to the South-East the tip of the City of Compassion, Britain. The Serpent Spine mountains are a little closer than usual, but within wiggley topography parameters. It looks like there is a dungeon entrance in the SW corner. If it is one of the original eight, then I would suspect it of being Despise, though further South than it used to be.

Regarding the 2nd jigsaw piece, I have nothing. There is a tower, and an awful lot of lava. It’s the sort of tower that might make a fine home for Mondain or one cut from the same cloth, but it does not remind me of any particular place.

The thing is, I’m not sure whether Ultimate RPG could even use a map based on Britannia, given that Electronic Arts has control of the original Ultima games. My guesses above could very well be similar to watching clouds on a lazy afternoon, seeing all manner of dragons and giants within their ever-changing forms.

Still, it’s fun to guess! You can share your thoughts in the comments below, if you’ve got any ideas!

In which my liege doth call, and I do not tarry to answer.

There is but one man which Arkenor of Britain calleth “Liege”. He who called out across Britannia for virtue to be sought above all else, and ushered in an age of peace and learning. There were those who sought to bring us low. The Shadowlords. Blackthorne the usurper. The Guardian in all his guile. But none proved equal to the good people of Britannia, strengthened by our dedication to the Virtues, lead by our wise monarch, Lord British.

Now our Lord calls out once more. I know not to what ends, but it is a call I have never refused. I shall wend my way to that special spot, down the lane beneath my house, where the Moongate shall be waiting. Whither shall it take me? It matters not, for adventure and injustice may be found throughout creation, and I go willingly where I am needed.

But not yet. The time is not *quite* right. When our lonely moon is in just the right place, then, and only then, shall the Moongate open.


There is but one clue. This picture:

A Moongate?

By mine eyes it is a stone circle of kind betwixt I hath stepped so many times, but eyes may deceive. I shall prepare for all eventualities. Runestones must be polished and recharged, and my sword sharpened. I had best also reconfigure my old power armour and plasma-rifle, for the paradigm of our destination is unknown.

The Raven see. The Raven saw. And in the corn he sayeth “Cah!”.
We ,too, shall watch, and see. Here.

On Leadership

If I was the leader of a political party, or the leader of anything at all, and I heard “general non-specific allegations” of serious misconduct about a member, they would not remain general and non-specific for very long. They would either become very specific indeed, and dealt with accordingly, or they would be disproven. Those are the only two acceptable results.

While my current ire is directed against Nick Clegg, leader of the UK Liberal Democrats, for his attempts to weasel out of responsibility for what Lord Rennard has been getting up to under his leadership, it’s something we’ve been seeing recently in every part of society, from the well-paid chairmen of global banks, to the leaders of the Catholic Church. When evil-doing is going on within the organisation that you supposedly lead, you don’t get to shirk that by saying “That is an ecumenical matter”.

We’re all part of various organisations or groups, be it as employees, industry representatives, or guildmembers. Our first responsibility is for our own actions, of course, for those are the only one we have complete control over. However, to the extent that we have any agency in the matter, the actions of the groups we are part of reflect directly upon us.

This is one reason why I very seldom join MMO guilds these days. It has become increasingly difficult to find gaming guilds which do not tolerate some degree of bigotry against some group or another. While there are often perfectly nice people even in the worst of guilds, I am unable to perform the necessary ethical gymnastics to stay part of such a guild while still believing my hands to be clean. If nothing else, the presence of hateful behaviour can have a poisonous effect upon the soul. Manners of thinking can be as contagious as any bacteria, particularly when they are supercharged by the opiate of group-belonging, and it is a matter of self-preservation to not bathe yourself in the thoughts of those who hold bigoted ideas in those conditions.

While it is nice to think that it might be possible to stop hateful behaviour within a guild once it has become established, in practise it is almost impossible. The existing members have already come to accept it, and a new member who complains is far more likely to be told to get a sense of humour than to achieve anything useful. No, the only way I have ever seen succeed is for the guild to start off with no tolerance for bigotry, and then for it to guard against it ever-on. And guard you must, for it is all too easy, especially if you care about growing, for new members to start to try to push the boundaries, and for it to be tolerated for fear of causing trouble or driving them out. Once the cancer has found a hold, it will grow roots and metastatise, and you end up with just one more casually misogynistic guild. At that point the only real option is for the non-bigots to leave and try again with a freshly made guild.

Being a leader is not about being popular all the time. It’s about standing up for the ideals of your organisation, whether it is popular or not, and sometimes this will mean that you have to tell a member that they need to stop what they’re doing. Nick Clegg and the other leaders I mentioned earlier have failed because they did not take responsibility for the actions of their members. Turning a blind eye is never leadership, whether you’re a bishop, a managing editor, a pro-gamer team leader, or a guildmaster.

SOE increases prices for European customers.

I received the following email yesterday. SOE is increasing European prices for a variety of currencies, claiming currency fluctuations.

I am not convinced. Seeing as my podcast co-host, Petter, is Swedish, let’s see how he’ll be treated under the new pricing. A month of an SOE game will now cost 130 Swedish Krona. According to current exchange rates, that’s £13.03 in UK money, or $20.31 in US dollars. The same digital product costs $14.99 in the US. To the naked eye this looks like nothing more than price-gouging. The Swedes were already paying far more than either the Americans or British.

The monthly pricing (before tax) for the named countries will now be as follows:

Denmark : $19.72
Euros: $17.38
Sweden: $20.31
United Kingdom: $14.06 (Yes, we’re actually cheaper than the US, before tax.)
Norway: $19.72
Switzerland: $17.37

We’re going to be talking about this on The Three MMOsketeers tomorrow, so I’d love to know what everyone thinks.

As a result of Sony Online Entertainment LLC’s ongoing commitment to our players to review global pricing and remain in line with exchange rate fluctuations, it is necessary for us to make adjustments to Membership pricing as outlined below.

In addition to Membership pricing, some Station Cash® prices will also be adjusted.

We are writing to notify you that these price changes will take effect on March 14th, 2013.

We truly appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Sony Online Entertainment LLC


Danish Krone (kr)
Current Price New Price
1 month 97.00 110.00
3 month 255.00 285.00
6 month 432.00 480.00
12 month 756.00 780.00
Euro (€)
Current Price New Price
1 month 12.99 12.99
3 month 34.47 35.97
6 month 59.94 59.94
12 month 95.88 95.88
British Pound (£)
Current Price New Price
1 month 8.99 8.99
3 month 22.47 25.17
6 month 38.94 46.14
12 month 71.88 77.88
Norwegian Kroner (kr)
Current Price New Price
1 month 100.00 110.00
3 month 264.00 300.00
6 month 462.00 510.00
12 month 792.00 780.00
Swedish Krona (kr)
Current Price New Price
1 month 115.00 130.00
3 month 306.00 360.00
6 month 546.00 600.00
12 month 876.00 960.00
Swiss Franc (CHF)
Current Price New Price
1 month 15.99 15.99
3 month 41.97 44.97
6 month 71.94 71.94
12 month 119.88 119.88

Neverwinter: A Drizzle of Drizzts. The Heroes of the North Founder’s Pack.

When I first saw this video, I thought it was satire, or some sort of very early April Fool joke. But no, it is quite genuine, in all its cheesy infomercial glory. Your friends will be SO JEALOUS when they see you’ve decided to buy the Heroes of the North pack!

Only Heroes of the North will receive exclusive access to the MENZOBERRANZAN RENEGADE.

a unique playable race armed with the “Faerie Fire” racial ability and tattoo cosmetic option. Like the legendary ranger Drizzt Do’Urden, explore the realm of Faerûn as a Drow exiled from the Dark Elf stronghold of Menzoberranzan, City of Intrigue.

Oh my giddy aunt, I don’t know where to start! Since the dawn of MMOs it has been apparent that, if you give your players the ability to look like a dark elf, or even if you don’t, at least 10% of your world’s population will consist of Drizzts. A drizzle of Drizzts. Here, Cryptic have cleverly harnessed that primal desire, packaged it up with a panther pet (of course!), an armoured spider mount (If Drizzt didn’t own one of those, we can be sure he wanted one) and other gubbins, and will sell you the whole thing for $199.

$199.99, but don’t worry! The VALUE of all the items in the pack is $549. Quite a bargain, as long as you forget that that $549 is a completely arbitrary amount that has been scribbled on a sticker, then stuck on the side of the items. At least the hefty pricetag should keep Drizzts mercifully rare.

This, I guess, is what you do when you really want the big early lumps of cash from selling lifetime subs, but your game is starting F2P, rather than turning F2P. That’s certainly far more honest and ethical than switching out what Lifetimers get 6 months after launch.

Buying the Heroes of the North pack also appears to be the only way of getting into the first beta. This is unfortunate, because I would strongly advise anybody within hearing range that they should try an MMO before they drop two Benjamins on it. It may well be worth it, but I’m not one for high-stakes gambling.

There is a lesser Founder’s pack, The Guardian of Neverwinter, which is going for $59.99. For those who have managed to resist the siren call of becoming a Drizzt, it’s probably a more reasonable option. You can see the full line-up of pre-order offerings at Cryptic’s official site.

Then again, as Neverwinter is going to be F2P, do I really need a Founder’s Pack at all? While I’m happy to spend money on games I like, I could just wait for it to launch, or better yet, for it to invite me into a beta that I do not have to pay to be in.

Addendum: True story. In Ultima Online, where more than one person could have the same name, I was (briefly) in a guild with two Drizzts and three Gandalfs. This guild only had about a dozen members. I was neither a Drizzt or a Gandalf, I hasten to add. These days, players must instead resort to ever more outlandish spellings of their hero’s name.