Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

5 January, 2012

Out with the old year
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:13 AM

So, another year has left its marks upon us, leaving in a huff and leaving a new year behind as revenge. Seems appropriate to take a look at the year that was and the year that will be.

What happened with Psychochild?

2011 was an interesting year for me professionally. Storybricks started in earnest for me. We were able to develop a prototype, take it to Gen Con, show it off at PAX, do a whole lot of demos and great interviews with various bloggers. Honestly, doing those demos and interviews was probably the high point of my year, being able to chat with some of the various bloggers in person after reading them for so long. But, we managed to land funding to continue developing Storybricks! This year we’ll see some fruit from that effort. I’m genuinely very excited about Storybricks both as a developer looking to do interesting things, and as a player wanting to see MMOs move forward.

On a more personal level, the year was pretty good. At least, it was a big upgrade from “shut down my business after my cat died” crapfest that was 2009. (At least I can kinda poke fun at it now a few years later.) Honestly, I’ve buried myself into work so much it’s not left much room for much else. Especially with travel and the holidays the past few months, I’ve not had much time to myself. You might notice my posting frequency wasn’t that great the past few months. I do worry that I might be investing a bit too much of myself in Storybricks, though; not only has my blog posting fallen off, so has my Google+ posting, and my fantasy stories (sorry both of you that read that site). I tend to do that, though, commit myself 110% to something. It’s one reason why I knew I couldn’t develop Meridian 59 on the side while doing other work.

What did Psychochild play?

My MMO poison of choice remains DDO. The regular group is still working through every quest in Elite on our mains, and some of us have started another group on another server with someone else that was part of the Massively guild back in the day. Plus all my solo characters sprinkled on different servers. So, yeah, I’m still heavily invested and having fun. Also, I didn’t spend any money this last year; I still had points left over and given that our regular group ears a LOT of favor by doing all Elite level quests, I’ve gotten a lot more points, too. DDO fits me well, even if I’m not always thrilled with the directions they’re going.

I played a fair amount of Skyrim when I was last at the Namaste fort. It was the XBox 360 version, which meant less “WTFcrash?” bugs, but a lot more loading times. Had fun, but don’t particularly miss it after leaving. As I said before, I’ll get the Game of the Year edition later and play it with all the fun mods. :)

The indie bundles and Steam sales increased my game collection a LOT. Games of particular note: Terraria, Aquaria, The Binding of Isaac, Dungeons of Dredmor, and Space Pirates and Zombies (S.P.A.Z.). Not that every indie game is terrific; I just couldn’t get into Revenge of the Titans and Frozen Synapse. On the AAA game front, Dave Toulouse also gave me a gift of Mass Effect 2 during Christmas (after I bought myself Mass Effect on deep sale), so I have some games to play in the near future, too.

More recently on the MMO front I bought the latest expansion to EQ2 in order to check out the dungeon maker feature they released. Useful to take a look at these types of things to compare what we’re planning for Storybricks. My Twitter-sized review so far? Not that impressed, really. I’m having some trouble getting back into the game, too (getting a bunch of mostly “accidental” levels because I wanted to try out the dungeon builder stuff during double xp days didn’t help, really). EQ2 also makes the mistake of posting when you picked up a quest. Some of the quests were acquired back in 2006, meaning it’s been a LONG while since I played. A bunch of mechanics revamps means I’m not exactly sure what state my character is in at this point. So, it’s unlikely I’ll pick EQ2 back up in the long term, despite my obsession with the game back in the day.

All this is on top of the numerous Flash games I dabble in. It truly is an occupational hazard.

What happened with the blog?

I know some of you are data nerds out there, so here’s a bit of info titillation.

I guess you people like my blathering, because you keep visiting. According to AWStats, I had about 70,000 unique visitors last year. I served over a quarter million views and had nearly 1.25 million “hits” to use the old-fashioned term. In general, the last three months were my busiest, which is kinda funny given that its when my posting was the lowest.

Top five referring sites:

Yeah, even after being closed down for half a year, the Pink Pigtail Inn still drives a lot of traffic my way. (I know she’s not going to start MMO blogging again, but I sure do miss the site.)

The #2 search term was “psychochild”. #1, you ask? “blood elf porn“, of course! #3 is “elf porn” and #4 is “blood elf sex”. Guess I know what site topic #2 should be if this whole MMO development thing doesn’t quite work out, eh? ;)

What about MMOs as a whole?

My feelings about MMOs last year might be summed up as “more of the same”. While free to play firmly established itself in the industry, it’s hardly a revelation to me. I wasn’t terribly fussed with any of the new free-to-play games. World of Tanks wasn’t quite my cup of tea, even though it sounds like some people really loved it.

The game that nobody could shut up about, Star Wars: The Old Republic, arrived on the scene right at the end of the year. Early reports are gushing, but my gut says we’ll see some problems as the content won’t feel quite as replayable as other games. It might have an effect on WoW, where people who waited for SW:tOR get an itch for WoW again. We’ll see if it’s eventual declaration of success spells weal or woe for the MMO industry as a whole. Some people are crowing about it, saying that it proves subscription-based MMOs aren’t completely dead; I say that’s true if you’re willing to spend Hollywood movie budgets on the game, which is not something many companies are willing or able to do.

Meanwhile, most people seem to be ignoring quality indie MMOs like Star Corsairs. This has me potentially worried about Storybricks… what if we make an innovative product and nobody shows up to play?

What of the coming year?

I tend to shy away from predictions for a few reasons: many other people do them (and with more panache), and if I could predict the future I’d exploit it myself before sharing it with the rest of you lot! ;P But, I’ll say what I’m anticipating.

Professionally, I expect (and sincerely hope) I’ll be super-busy with Storybricks stuff. The February release will be a huge make-or-break time for us; it’ll not only show if we can get people excited about the tool, but also be an indicator for future investors if we’re worth putting more money into.

Personally, I hope to take care of myself better this year. I’m getting well past the age I can abuse myself and still pretend I can live forever. I’d also like to continue some of my personal work, particularly the Restless Deep stories (even if nobody else reads them).

Game-wise, I have plenty of games to play. Dave has said I need to play Mass Effect 1 and 2 so I can play ME3 at the same time as him this year. Not sure if the cheap bastard in me will be able to pay full price for a game after so many cheap sales.

On the blog? Well, hopefully I’ll find time to keep posting. Perhaps a bit more frequently than the last few months. :)

What about you? Is the new year treating you well? Anything I should focus on more?


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11 Comments »

  1. It was great getting to meet you and chat about Storybricks last year, wish you guys all the very best with that. SWTOR (which I think is getting the gushing reviews from some quarters because the single player game is surprisingly and genuinely fun, compared to most other MMOs) does make me wonder what sort of romance type subplots you could work up with a more Storybricks-like companion AI.

    Comment by Spinks — 5 January, 2012 @ 1:59 AM

  2. Good luck with the new year my friend! And may Storybricks continue to be your guiding light, especially with the secured funding now!

    Looking forward to your rants in 2012!

    Comment by Bronte — 5 January, 2012 @ 3:32 AM

  3. I use the link from Player Versus Developer, as the listing there updates to let me know when something new is posted (along with the post title), so I find that more useful than a personal bookmark for those sites that don’t post frequently.

    Comment by Indy — 5 January, 2012 @ 7:06 AM

  4. Blood elf porn for you too? And I thought that was just my cross to bear.

    Star Corsairs… I actually tried that based on your interview. I am afraid it didn’t really stick with me though.

    Good luck in the new year!

    Comment by Wilhelm Arcturus — 5 January, 2012 @ 9:10 AM

  5. Spinks wrote:
    It was great getting to meet you and chat about Storybricks last year….

    Ah! I forgot to mention that I was able to meet up with Spinks and the guys from Killed in a Smiling Accident in person last year. Spinks is just as clever in person as she is on her blog, and Melmoth and Zoso are twice as funny looking! :)

    Indy wrote:
    I use the link from Player Versus Developer….

    Yeah, I figured that’s where some of the traffic comes from. PPI had a good blog roll along the side that updated with when people posted as well. I just use an RSS reader these days.

    Wilhelm Arcturus wrote:
    Blood elf porn for you too? And I thought that was just my cross to bear.

    Nope. That’s what we get for listening to Tobold, I guess. :)

    Star Corsairs… I actually tried that based on your interview. I am afraid it didn’t really stick with me though.

    At least you tried it. That seems an insurmountable hurdle for some people. :/

    Have fun, all!

    Comment by Psychochild — 5 January, 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  6. Like Indy, I use my blogroll widget as an improvised RSS reader. It had never occurred to me that this has the effect of inflating my importance as a traffic source in the eyes of sites that I link to, and knowing this certainly doesn’t motivate me to change my ways. :)

    Comment by Green Armadillo — 5 January, 2012 @ 4:52 PM

  7. My oddly famous blogroll widget

    [...] Psychochild’s year-end wrap-up named me as the number three traffic source to his site.  It didn’t occur to me that I [...]

    Pingback by Player Versus Developer — 5 January, 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  8. Happy New Year from me as well!

    Interestingly I am also finally going to really play Mass Effect 1 and 2. Got ME2 as a present and ME1 on Steam Sale. I already owned it, but the game CDs were 300km away and it cost almost nothing so here we go. Maybe I will get the charm this time, ME2 also seems to have inspired SWTOR’s story cinematics a lot. That might also be interesting for you from a design perspective.

    I really liked SPAZ and despite trying hard (I actually love this kind of gameplay) I totally couldn’t get into Frozen Synapse, which pissed me off as people always told me how cool it is. That was quite irritating, but it just didn’t work out for me either. I still have an extra Steam code for Frozen Synapse if anyone is interested.

    I find it interesting and somewhat embarrassing how SWTOR completely supplanted WoW, while basically being a Bioware RPG with multiplayer tacked on top. Even more solo/duo than WoW. Mass Effect 3 will have a “coop” online mode, and I wonder if not rather this is what people want as opposed to meeting “strangers” online and forming or “having to form” a group with them. People seem to team up when it is “inevitable”, that’s my impression after reading the countless SWTOR related blog postings. Let’s see if it will stay top dog and blogger talk for as long as WoW. It totally stole Skyrim’s thunder for sure already. All talk about Fus Ro Dah got blown away by Bioware’s 3 choice cutscenes.

    The question for you as designer of Storybricks is indeed if WoW players will ever play anything else but WoW/SWTOR, even if you try damn hard. I don’t think anyone wants to live from the pennies of WoW tourists who travel around in their boredom phase, who can’t wait for other games to go F2P before they go home to WoW and leave the money where their mouth is. SWTOR’s approach is highly expensive one-shot content, an abomination of a MMO designed by single player game designers. This approach is not viable for Indies or smaller companies and it isn’t good for the genre, but nobody can ignore that people voted with their feet.

    Comment by Longasc — 6 January, 2012 @ 1:41 AM

  9. Belated Happy New Year to you!

    I clicked through the link but Star Corsairs appears to be a space combat/trading game and I have negative interest in those. Something about the very sight of a spaceship makes me want to go somewhere, anywhere else fast.

    Shame you haven’t been re-bitten by the EQ2 bug. I have, and badly. The Age of Discovery expansion is without doubt the best expansion the game has ever had. It’s like a catalyst that turns playing any already-existing part of EQ2 into a whole new MMO and a very, very good one too. Genius!

    Comment by bhagpuss — 6 January, 2012 @ 7:01 AM

  10. Mass Effect 3 will have a “coop” online mode, and I wonder if not rather this is what people want as opposed to meeting “strangers” online and forming or “having to form” a group with them

    Funny as it’s exactly what I told Brian a few weeks ago. I’ve been hesitating to get SWtOR as while I’m sure I would enjoy the single-player experience with dialogs and all I really don’t see myself pay a subscription for this as I currently have no interest to get into an MMO. If it would have been a single-player with online coop then I’d be busy playing it currently instead of writing this. But I guess they really don’t need me to make money so I’ll just wait for ME3.

    Comment by Dave Toulouse — 6 January, 2012 @ 8:37 AM

  11. A look back, a look forward

    [...] it's been a year of ups and downs. Looking back at my post from last year, I didn't follow up much on my goals. My writing has been delayed as I've been working on [...]

    Pingback by Psychochild's Blog — 7 January, 2013 @ 2:13 PM

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