Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rift: 30 Days and 30 Nights

And so we come to a milestone as the final days of the first 30 of free play for Rift: Plane of Telara ends.

I wanted to take a moment and discuss why I will continue to keep my subscription to Rift.

I could do the whole rundown most review sites do. But, hey, they have already done all this. What I want to give you is how I have been playing and what I feel as I play. So, my language may be too familiar with Rift, and could turn away some readers. Hope you can follow along as this stream of consciousness only happens to me in a blue moon now!!

First off, I have made sure to try each calling (general class) in the game. I have a Mage, Warrior, Cleric, Rogue. I then attempted to fit those characters into my playstyle of being the Healer. Thanks to the "Family who MMO's", I have built up this persona of being main heals, or having classes who heal. From Reaver/Paladin for Warrior, Bard in the Rogue calling, Chloromancer in Mage and of course Sentinel/Warden in Cleric...they all work. This was a great experiment, and led me to enjoying the "Soul" system of Rift.

This was my first clue I would stick this out. All classes have proven to be enjoyable, thus having four alts really helps create an environment for me to play in and stay interested. I have my main grouping class with my Cleric, my alt who hunts and resources (Rogue solo Bard is just plain fun), and my damager...Chloro with Warlock and DOT's is fantastic, and will eventually play with groups. The only class that trails the others in likability is the Warrior calling. But, that is ok, as I have never really been much of a Warrior player.

So, with classes playing a major role in my happiness, what then about the game experience.

The tutorial areas really are not entertaining. Once through and I am good. But, to get each calling out of that zone was truly difficult. The game suffers in this way of forcing this tutorial area on you. Of course, each calling got I could run through and be done in less than an hour. But I could not enjoy the little things the game offers (searching for books, collectibles, etc), as I wanted to leave that beginning.

Once I am out, then the true playing begins.

Questing in Rift is too standardized. Lets get that straight. Do not get me wrong...there are quite a few fun little quests, but a majority of the time I keep thinking "Been there, done that". Thus, as I played, I started to avoid this requirement. I would start chasing Rifts as much as possible. I would drop green or gray quests. But, I tried my best to at least head to the area where questing was taking place, and play how I wanted. If a quest was completed, then awesome.

When I started in Rift, the quests were the main goal, as it seemed this is what we always do in our MMO's. Luckily, Rift offered a way out, by metagaming outside that norm..searching for "sparklies" (those little artifacts), spelunking and mountain climbing and a sense of wandering and exploring led to a new way to play. Yes, I may not level as fast, but of course, when I am ready to ding, I will just go back, finish a quest or two and do some turn ins.

Honestly, the Rifts are where the fun is at for me though. When I played in Warhammer Online, I attempted all of the Public Quests, and that to me was more fun than the standard form of "kill me those rats boy-ee". The Rift's are fun in certain aspects of figuring out how to approach them. Some had certain ways to finish them quickly, while others were a race to find the mobs and get done before the timer expired. Almost like a mini-game within the game. And of course, getting to the Rifts was its own mini-game.

My Bard is currently in his 30's, and has been working his way through Scarlet Gorge and Scarwood Reach. I love the way these zones look (I guess I should finally add at this time..I am Guardian BTW). KillTenRats notes "Still, I am thankful to go. Scarlet Gorge seems like an experiment gone wrong...I have to say, the zone feels poorly designed for a mid-level zone." I could not disagree more. But, maybe it has to do with being able to do the "quest avoidance" that I have been working on. I keep my Bard at rested XP through his adventures. I then work my way through various mines, mountains and resources along the way. I create this little adventure for myself as I travel in search of new areas to explore. Of course, invasions and Rifts are not as plentiful, and this could be KTR's issue. I do miss them.

My Cleric, also in his 30's works with a small group in this zone, and we will do the basic quests, and they are done quickly and efficiently. This could be how Rift was meant to be played. Trion made every effort to build in a social tool like the Public Groups. Thus, I feel when Rift is played with others, it works much better than solo'ing through quests...which can become a bore. This team also works on dungeons and invasions if there, but we do not Rift chase. This group is all about heading to endgame.

My Cleric has hit the dungeons for each zone. Realm of the Fae, Darkening Deeps, Foul Cascade. Each have the basics of dungeons that we expect. Luckily, they are not easy. They have proven to be a challenge with how to avoid patrols, boss fights....and thats what we enjoy in our MMO's...right?

Basically, you can see that I am not deterred by the "same ole, same ole" that most people attribute to Rift. Maybe it is because I have strayed so much from that norm in my MMO stable (just never really got into World of Warcraft...and there you have it; the mention of the game most everyone mentions...just did it to get a rise out of ya).

Overall, Rift is a good stable game, and plays well.

Combat feels like it connects, mobs are not pushovers, spawn rates are quick and traveling is dangerous. Many a time I need to catch my breath as I have swamped through massive amounts of critters and humanoids, cutting a swathe through their entrails as I look to get to my next point. Some have complained about the spawn rates or their proximity to each other. I say too bad. Suck it up, as danger should be the criteria for my play world.

Crafting feels useful (finally, an MMO that gets it) yet, not exciting. Creating mats and repetitious creation of the items to level is annoying. Luckily, gathering is it's own mini quest for materials needed, collecting shinies while doing this is its own amusing past time.

Guilds add a special reason to complete objectives in game, as you will add special bonuses to various items. Combat, crafting, Rifting all can be enhanced due to "perks". But, honestly, the PvE based leveling of the guilds is slow and cumbersome, while PvP'ing is fast...and for a straight PvE guild, that gets annoying. But, when you are as casual as we are in our guild, we are not that worried about it. (But, hey, it could be improved Trion).

I like these features about Rift.

Do not get me wrong, Rift is not without it's faults (the latest being a massive lag spike weekend...but, come to find out was a router issue in Texas). But, that is not much in the way of problems, and has not taken me out of the game due to concerns of questing or broken gameplay. If anything, I can play on a regular basis without a hiccup, and enjoy each login.

Rift feels like a game I want to get to endgame with. Trion is making a major effort to keep this game intact and running great. It runs well on my hardware. It looks beautiful. Updates come fast and quick. Bugginess is minimal or non-existent at times. The new content after 30 days is a boon. How can that be a bad thing? Oh yes, the inevitable nerf, which I had hoped would not happen. But, at the same time, buffs are going in. We will see how that goes. But, at least I can say...I hope they can keep this momentum.

I guess if we need to complain, it is to the fact that the "cloned" feeling we get is there. The game is familiar to our standard MMO, but is helped with a great system of non-structure. Busy work and off the beaten path adventuring lends a hand in making the game fun. Add more fluff, like cosmetic changes, housing, achievements, and you will have a happy, busy household like mine still playing.

Thus, dedication by a great developer, awesome gameplay styles, great combat, and gorgeous looking graphics have all led to me sticking it out for the next six months. Really, what else could I be doing? Playing those other games with their low populations? Buggy gameplay and broken systems? Or the game with no name?

Lets see how this goes instead, eh?


Monday, March 28, 2011

X-Fire Game: Solo Edition - Rift

With this past weekend being the crucial last weekend for the "30 day window" in Rift, I am dedicating this post to a very fun MMO.

Does everyone else think it is as fun?

First up, lets go ahead and preview the X-Fire and Raptr stats for Rift and do some comparisons to launch

  1. Rift -  4730 ( 4968 - LAUNCH )
The X-Fire data is actually from one week past launch...but, due to the broken stats reading, we missed the first day. How accurate this may be, I am unsure. But, I at least wanted some good comparison data.


  1. Rift -  3430 ( 3856 - LAUNCH )
The Raptr numbers are from the first Sunday of launch. This was to be it's 2nd busiest day, as the following week hit upward of 4000 players.

So, what do we see so far? The basic trend for most MMO's. The slow drop off from the players who found either Rift was not their game, or other concerns which have popped up (from security issues to the infamous "nerf after pay" patch).

But, when we look at this, we do note a VERY good retention rate as well. These numbers look pretty good, and if it can hold this spot after the 30 days are reached, then we will have a successful MMO.

Just to give a reference point, I looked back to find a previous top 5 X-Fire game and see how their numbers were...Warhammer Online.


Launched in September of 2008, note the trend of the game as time progressed. The downward spiral was quite extreme. This is what we do NOT want to see in Rift. If you do, then we can add Rift to the pile of games that includes Age of Conan, WAR, and other non-starters that WoW eats for breakfast. (As another note on this little chart. See how many players there are? This gives an idea of how many people USE to use X-Fire in the past. Launch numbers had WAR at 12,000+ players per day back in 2008. So, not only did WAR fall, X-Fire has also lost a lot of users).

Moving on, I wanted to show how trends have been looking in Rift. Here are several views of the X-Fire and Raptr data.

This is the chart for Raptr. You can see the overall Metacritic score and how many hours have been played. But, what we want to see is the 7 day outlook scaling for time played. Big spikes are of course the weekend. But, note how there is a drop off. To be expected. The next 7 days will fix that...unless this falls even more, as players leave after the 30 days. What we WANT to see is this even out, and not drop massively.

Since we did not have complete data for Rift for X-Fire, there was a mass upsweep when they fixed how the X-Fire client read the games played hours. At that point though, we do see a steady view. I have noted in the past that Raptr seems weird to me at times, and can fluctuate freely, while X-Fire seems to hold steadier (unless there is an outage of the game or of course, players leave the game noted). 

Both of these will be good reference come next weekend.

Moving on...if you remember, we also were tracking a new site that had images of shard status. The chart gave us a single eyes view of how all servers were doing in specific time periods. Here are the final reports from Riftideas/Shardwatch.

This first chart is Sunday March 27th at 8PM in Germany. We have six servers with queues. But, we also have two at low. This is interesting, as we NEVER see low on the weekends on the US servers. So, this is an oddity.

Lets compare the first image I had for Germany and Shardwatch.

This was taken on March 13th. 7PM German time. Notice a difference? Right off the bat, no lows. Twelve queued servers also. Dang it was busy. Drop off of course IS to be expected, so, overall it was not massive. But, I see EU servers being the first to merge here.

Moving on to the US of A.

So, right off the bat, we see two things. Only one queued server. March 27th at 8:30 EST. I worry about this, as I had noted my own issues on Twitter this morning. Massive lag spikes leading to either DC's or being stuck not moving or anything...yet everything else around you was moving normally (characters, quest updates, etc.). Very Bizarre. That could lead to lowered servers.....maybe. Next, if we look at the EU servers, the number of low servers is quite large still.

What the heck, lets look at the older chart and see just how bad it makes this past weekend look.

Need I say more? Six queued servers down to one? This could be changes to queue sizes or population sizes...we do not know which. Again.....drop off is to be expected, but there is no way Rift can compete with World of Warcraft when we see charts like this. I would prefer they hold on to the number two position at least...

We have a lot of data here. Most of it shows the common trend in most launched MMO's in the Age of WoW. 

Hard to keep players when a polished, long running title still exists.

Eventually most of these MMO's will syphon off players from WoW, but at what cost? This is not a cheap business...and I can only hope the box sales held up for Trion. With the normal issues that surround MMO's from security and gold sellers, lag and engine issues, broken quests and what not...Trion is a bit ahead in getting it fixed. Just is it good enough to keep them afloat?

BTW, here is your final Moment of Zen to help you understand what is happening with Rift.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart March 27th - 34,976 players (36,248 )

Yea....that feels good to see.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The X-Fire Game: Charts for March 20th

Not much to say as we get this weeks numbers underway.

The only thing I can note is that Final Fantasy XIV will be hurting pretty bad due to a shutdown that took place this past week because of the Japanese disaster. Rift has been smacked this past week with a pretty nasty authentication and hacking bug which could affect numbers as well. Otherwise, good weather and several major sport events on TV may also have some effect on gaming time.

Lets get started then and see the results...

  1. Rift -  49124968  )
  2. EvE Online -  1988 ( 2090 ↓ )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online  1977 ( 2003 ↓ )
  4. Aion -  1948 ( 1995 ↓ )
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Online -  401 ( 415 ↓ )
  6. Star Trek Online - 304 ( 350 ↓ )
  7. Champions Online -  304 ( 349 ↓ )
  8. Age of Conan -  275 ( 297  )
  9. Warhammer Online -  164 ( 178 ↓ )
  10. DC Universe - 75 ( 100 ↓ )
  11. Final Fantasy XIV -  0 ( <28> 129 ↓ )
I think this chart deserves a quote I read on the Rift forums which explains how much people will enjoy Rift...

"There seems to only be two kinds of people that don't like Rift.
Those that think it is too much like WoW
And those that think it is not enough like WoW.
Everyone else loves it =D"

I think we can see how that is still holding up as we wind down into the final week of the free 30 days for Rift. Numbers are still high (though down a touch), and when I look at the Shard population charts, the servers still hit queues during peak play times. Like I said, one more week and we should then be able to see how successful Rift is in retention.

As I noted at the beginning, typical of warmer weather and event driven weekends...EVERYONE was down a bit. This always happens. As a matter of fact, all the numbers were so minimally impacted, there is nothing much to say here.

Of course, looking at FFXIV, we can see what happens when you shut off ALL game access. I kept their last week numbers and then the numbers from last full operations. This way come next week, hopefully servers will be back and we can note any major impact (I have not read any reports yet of when we may see the servers come back yet as well.)

  1. Rift - 37644015  players
  2. EvE Online - 958 ( 1092  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 949 ( 918  )
  4. Aion - 532 ( 535 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 285 ( 293 ↓ )
  6. DC Universe - 212 ( 203  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 296 ( 258  )
  8. Star Trek Online - 113 ( 100   )
  9. Age of Conan - 89 ( 99  )
  10. Warhammer Online - 6785  )
  11. Final Fantasy XIV 0 ( <35>178  )
Raptr likes to play with my charts in a most "sucky" way (yea, thats official chart lingo...EAT IT). It is bizarre how the numbers go up and down for games in a way that makes following games difficult. I can only assume either new players jump into Raptr or the average player who uses Raptr jumps from game to game...hard to say.

Lets see what took place this weekend.

Rift takes a bizarre dive here. While X-Fire shows a minimal drop, which is perfectly normal...Raptr says "screw it" and has a downward spiral, that would normally look ugly. I will see how next week fares. But, like I said...Raptr is bizarro land in stats.

As an example of Bizarro, LOTRO has a spike. Uh...why? No major event, or anything happening to explain it (especially when most games were down).  Or how about DDO and DCUO being up? How weird. And even Star Trek Online shows a minor boost. Raptr is just all over the map. least shows Zero. Never know...

Ok, on to our game of the week special. As noted previously, our game is World of Warcraft until the 30 day free time is up for Rift. How did they fare yesterday?

WoW = Xfire 36248 (36510 ↓)

Still going down? Not a lot, but a bit of a small nudge that makes me wonder how WoW will fare after the 30 days are up.

The downward move has been consistent, and it could be a sign, or just a blip. Still tracking and reporting how this pans out.

And thus, another week. This time around, we see the effects of better weather and sporting events on TV, etc having an effect on our games.

I am still leery about Raptr as a tracking service. Today really stands out to me, as the bizarre turn of numbers has me questioning the results. Why would games that should be looking downward or at least stable be spiking like they are? As to Rift, it could be a client versus client issue. Raptr could be giving issues for people running it? Hard to say. I mean, I expect drops...but, when X-Fire shows the gradual change, while Raptr has a bizarre loss...It seems weird.

I will keep an eye on it.

Anyways, that is it for today. Stay tuned, as next week the wrecking ball called "30 days are up" will be hitting. How much of Rift will be left standing?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rift - Entitlement? Service? or Nightmare.

As part of this continued stream of thought on Rift, I wish to take up another part of the puzzle with todays MMO market and the player.


As we noted yesterday (and believe me, reading forums can get pretty nasty in regards to this issue), hackings are taking place as quick as you can read these words. Trion has taken it upon themselves to add a special in game tool to help alleviate concerns.

The "coin lock" will be a way that the game client itself will snoop on where you log in from on a regular basis. If your login then takes place from another region or IP range, it will lock down any selling of gear, trade of monies, etc. You can buy as much as you just cannot sell anything until you unlock the account through a code sent by email.

Service. That is the key word here. I am unaware of any developer offering a tool such as this in any other MMO. The only other MMO developer that even comes close to offering any sort of special security measure is Blizzard. And that you have to PAY FOR.

So, how does the community feel?

"Coin Lock only makes it so that once your chars are logged into the game, they cannot lose money, gear or contents of your bag. It does not change that fact that these people can log into your accounts on both the web and the game, up to the character screen and potentially cause damage." (Coin Lock doesn't change the fact that you can still be hacked)

"everyone i know has been hacked and tis gettign to the point there more people trying tog et there stuff back then are playing this game due to hackors and gold farmers . this game needs a good security system it lacks one now hardcore about everyone i know including me has been hacked and this aint even been live a month it will fix alot of hacking and your company can sell them and i will gladly buy one and can also sell a app for this for the phones and etc cause this is something that needs fixed before anything else whats point of playing a game if everyday you or one ur friends has everything taken alot people i know quit over this alone and it shoulda never hapened in first place" (Please make a authenticator for this game)

Though valid points, the issue is this feeling of entitlement. But, the hacking is not the only issue in regards to this feeling that Trion "owes" them.

With forum titles like...

"Trion we demand feedback from You regarding major issues."
"Any information out there on up coming fixes?"
"same ******** with every faction game"

And many more.

This must be Trions Nightmare.

But, this leads to the final part of this conversation.


What is expected of an MMO developer. We pay each month for various "services". What SHOULD we expect from our MMO of choice developers?

What is too soon? What should be happening now? Do we as players demand too much?

Initially Rift started with regular rolling restarts and patching. The complaints came in heavy. "Why are they doing this every day?" Now Trion has pulled back on the regular patching, restarts...and now people demand to know what is being fixed.

When you purchase a single player game, how much do you demand from the developer? Do you expect your game to be down for patches all the time? Is it because we pay monthly for these games that we expect more?

If you could wish for a specific time frame for concerns, what would you ask? 1 week? 10 days? 30 days?

Right now, we as an MMO community need to decide what is really expected. When the next set of launches come, what will we be bitching about when The Secret World hits. What will be our concerns over Star Wars: The Old Republic? Will Arenanet keep our stuff secure in Guild Wars 2 or will we be in the same boat as the GW original players...that when we lose our stuff, it is gone. PERMANENTLY.

We are entitled to have certain things when we pay these developers for our monthly fee. We just need to decide how much is too much and how much is just enough.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rift - Entertainment? Service? or Nightmare REDUX

Previously I had written about being hacked in my MMO of choice, Guild Wars. It was a devastating blow due to how the issue was handled, and the outcome (which was "too bad buddy, you get nothing back"). It made me feel like I did not want to ever touch the game again...

I felt violated, like a rape victim.

Read more on that story...HERE.

In case you have not paid attention to the forums for Rift, the outcome has been a mess. It seems that many a player has been hacked, and of course all of them cannot understand why. We can look through and see how people seem to be very careful with their PC's, and have all sorts of adware, spyware and virus scanners running.

So, how could they be affected?

Is Trion at fault here? Has their database been compromised? This is hard to say...and of course, Trion will be the last to tell us such.

Lets take a clear look at what some issues may be, and learn how to protect ourselves from mayhem... (after my abject lesson, this stuff came in handy).

The most obvious seems to have been done by these users who were hacked. Installed a program to log combat data, or some mapping system to find nodes...etc, etc. Of course, these players think they are safe as they use all sorts of tools to watch for trouble. To me, this also screams going overboard. A really good virus scanner ran monthly with full scans and daily with quick scans (takes about 1-2 minutes of your time) is the best protection. I currently use Avast which has a small memory footprint, and is free. I have used it, and found many a problem, especially visiting certain websites. Want to run a malware tool? Cool...but, it is just a bit too much. Just use other safety protocols and you can run a cleaner system.

Websites...ah yes. There are so many no-no's here, that I just cannot begin to share the misery. I do not care just how good that site may be in sharing information on the game...looking for the secrets of those shinies and achievements, playing with builds on Zams Soul Builder....but, guess what? These sites leave cookies, that are suspicious and have been flagged by Avast as bad. I cannot find one to blame.

All I know is IF you must use these sites, here are several tips to help.

If the site requires a user name, pass or email...well, please don't use your Rift login data. After visiting said sites, why not be safe and run a quick scan with your virus protection (malware tool..whatever) before logging into Rift or the Rift account management. Finally, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave a web browser running in the background when playing. You just cannot do this anymore. Flash ads with scripting tools and cross server access leads to hidden keyloggers watching you.

Paranoid? Yes. But, you will be too when you lose 5 years of goods, and a company refuses to restore those items.

Now, how about that email account? This has been a sore issue with me. Using an email address as your login is the suck. I feel this was a mistake from Blizzard and Trion. We as a society fall into "habits". We also like familiarity. So, we will use the same email address we always use and the same passwords (remembering gets hard...especially as you get older).

Straight up...use a new and unique email address. Use gmail as the preference. Whatever you do, just be unique. Speaking of unique, passwords, should be bizarre. Do not use the name of anything (people, objects, etc)...use upper and lower case letters and include numbers (at least two numbers). AND make sure it does not exist ANYWHERE ELSE. Write this down and live with the fact that you must have more information that you are use to.

Finally, any forums you need to use...just stick to the basics. Use your original email, but please make sure this email is not the one for game logins.

If you follow these for real (not saying "Hey, I didn't visit any websites....but ZAM") should be good to go. If you get hacked after that, then we will know who the culprit is. The company will have to accept their issues and man up.

Luckily, Trion is taking some measures with the new coin lock system, which sets your client to a region. If they see you login from another region, your coin and gear get locked. You cannot sell anything, send any money or items through mail and armor cannot be removed...etc. You can buy, just not sell or give away cash in any manner, until you type in a code sent to your account email address; you know, the unique one you made just for the game?

This is an impressive step being taken by an MMO developer, and I hope this works.

So, did I miss anything? Why not tell me about your experiences of being hacked.

Just stay safe, put some rubber on it (unique passwords), slather some disinfectant (new emails)...and all will be good and toasty (uh, ok...hope not).


Monday, March 14, 2011

The X-Fire Game: SUB-stantial data for Rifting

I am going to state this now.

Rift will prove to be a MMO that can at least compete in this market without all of the issues exhibited by the previous years offerings.

All indications are leaning toward customer satisfaction (except for a few concerns, which as they appear, are squashed immediately) and at least a major amount of servers sticking around after the 30 day mark.

I have quite a few reams of data here, so lets get to the numbers...shall we?

  1. Rift - 4968 ( OB 3962 ↑ )
  2. EvE Online - 2090 ( 2073  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online 2003 ( 2108 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 1995 ( 2047 ↓ )
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Online -  415 ( 448 ↓ )
  6. Star Trek Online - 350 ( 427 ↓ )
  7. Champions Online - 349 ( 424 ↓ )
  8. Age of Conan - 297 ( 253  )
  9. Warhammer Online - 178 ( 163  )
  10. DC Universe - 100 ( 141 ↓ )
  11. Final Fantasy XIV - 28 ( 129 ↓ )
Still a small tumble going on with a few games. To be expected.

It is quite clear that Rift has some great numbers, and they are not falling yet. I kept the Open Beta numbers as comparison this week, as previous X-Fire stats were still not tracking Rift data properly. Luckily, the issue has been fixed, and we can start getting a better compare for the coming months. But, it is pretty clear that having a higher set of numbers for launch compared to an open beta says a lot. Time will tell if this holds though.

Lord of the Rings and Aion both have continued to see a drop. But, EvE Online was back up this week and taking back the number two spot.

Star Trek and Champions both fell this week, but still show up well here.

Shocking was the two big launch fail titles...Age of Conan and Warhammer Online... having some upward trending. AoC had a major update this past week and WAR also had a new patch. Whether this placebo will wear off...only time will tell.

Now, please don't look at FFXIV badly here. Due to the disaster in Japan this past weekend, the servers felt major upheavals which have affected overall stats. I will keep an eye on this, and lets hope it is not a permanent down. (UPDATE: As no one understands the wording of my "permanent down" I mean the numbers for players...not the servers themselves. I know they have a planned outage, but seems not everyone understands what I am saying here. I hope that AFTER the servers are back online that these numbers will go up. But, based on the fact that this particular game is not doing well, I expect this to be a hard hit, and may stay down quite a bit).

As to the big drop for DC Universe? Yea, I expected that. I have stated many times that the Fantasy genre owns the MMO world, and superhero games just do not have the staying power of elves, dwarves and magic. I hope another game...say The Secret World...can finally push this genre into other realms of enjoyment.

  1. Rift - 4015 ( 3856 ↑ players
  2. EvE Online - 1092 ( 1006  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 918 ( 993 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 535 ( 508  )
  5. Champions Online - 293 ( 485 ↓ )
  6. DC Universe - 203 ( 338 ↓ )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 258 ( 285  )
  8. Star Trek Online - 100 ( 171   )
  9. Age of Conan - 99 ( 84  )
  10. Warhammer Online - 85 ( 65  )
  11. Final Fantasy XIV 35178  )
Rift still holding out for #1. As well, adding a few players in the process. Continuing to impress here.

Standard MMO fare falling. LOTRO, DDO feeling the squeeze. Yet, Aion shows an upward swing.

Champions tumbles, DC Universe drops. Both took major falls. Star Trek also felt the bruises of getting slapped around.

Age of Conan and WAR both exhibit the Vicodin high associated with new patches. Now, can the players keep popping the pills?

And of course, my prayers with the people of Japan, and sadness for the FFXIV fall.

As announced last week, World of Warcraft is our game of the week for the next 30 days of Rift-mania. Lets see how WoW charted.

WoW = Xfire  36510 ( 36972 players ↓ )

WoW continued to tumble. Now, we must note that due to the Japan disaster, the shock-waves could be felt in WoW as well. So, whether this is Rift oriented...hard to say. We will continue to watch these numbers and see if next week fixes the problems.

As a final add here, I wanted to report on the new "charts" system for Rift I am tracking (you can read about this more...HERE).

As I have noted from previous X-Fire games...Sunday is the busiest day of the week for MMO's. So, here are yesterdays charts for Rift.

German schedule - 7PM

USA EST schedule 7:45 PM

I tried to grab the charts when I could (hey, I was playing Rift, DAMMIT)...but, I think we have a pretty clear picture of how things are looking here.

Germany's prime time really shows some full servers and quite a few high's as well. ZERO lows here. And looking at those charts and seeing that none of the US servers are low either, really says a lot.
When we switch to US based servers and schedules, we still have 6 servers with queues, a majority are at high, and there are even medium servers with no lows...things are looking good.

Now, this will be the last set of these charts I will post until after the 30 days are up. I want to see how many servers stay at least semi-full or even queue'd after that time limit.

Whew...lots going on here. I am really excited for the next few months of charts and X-Fire/Raptr data. Stay tuned, as this roller-coaster has just started.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Rift: Charting a course for success

Thanks to the fine work of some bloke who has tons of time...we now have a semi-population tracker for Rift.

You can view the main chart here (SOURCE).

I am adding this post for posterity sake, so we may begin to watch how the game progresses and what happens to the servers as time rolls on.

Of course, the main SUCK of this chart is that they have "powerlevel" and gold seller ads. I will attempt to block these as I snapshot them for posting. times...I can avoid them with an F5 refresh.

Anyways, I am taking this first snapshot to get the EU listing. Later tonight I will add the US shard listings.

You can click the image to get a larger view. Note that each server is color coded to represent how full the server is.

First off, we can already see that some of the PvP servers are quite low at this time of day in the US (and several in the EU also). But, at the same time, the EU had queues on PvP servers. Really telling how fickle PvP can be at times.

The best part of the image though is just how many servers in the US are at medium at mid-day. Impressive. I expect that to change though...downward. By how much will be the true way of telling how well Rift is doing though by the end of the 30 day free time.

I will update again later with the US primetime schedule. For now, enjoy a look at Rift servers at a glance.

UPDATE: Evening chart around 8:30 EST

Note...quite a few servers with queues or high on the US side. I am also impressed with so many being at medium also. 

Next set will be on Sunday, considered the busiest day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The X-Fire Game: A "Tear" in the Stats

This week, even though I have some initial stats, they are not truly complete. Like a "rip" in the fabric of the statistics plane of existence.

X-Fire finally fixed their tracking bug for an extent. It seems there are still TOO MANY missing clients from their database. Using Raptr as a source...Raptr feeds data into X-Fire. Yet, Raptrs numbers are almost TRIPLE what X-Fire is.

That is not right.

So, I want to be able to keep track until X-Fire picks up more clients. So, just note this weeks #'s will be off for them. Raptr looks good though.

Lets get this started. (Note, the comparison numbers are from two weeks ago from Rift OB time. This will be a good comparison to see how purchase is viewed versus an open beta).

  1. Lord of the Rings Online - 2108 ( 2493 ↓ )
  2. EvE Online -  2073 ( 2263 ↓ )
  3. Aion - 2047 ( 2339 ↓ )
  4. Rift - (Launch 1150 (OB 3962))
  5. Star Trek Online -  427 ( 450 ↓ )
  6. Champions Online -  424 ( 722 ↓ )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 448 ( 443  )
  8. Age of Conan -  253 ( 292  )
  9. DC Universe - 141 ( 265 ↓ )
  10. Warhammer Online - 163 ( 168 ↓ )
  11. Final Fantasy XIV - 129 ( 139 ↓ )
Need we say more. A veritable across the board loss for most games. Several took it on the chin harder than I thought...while others just languished. And one major surprise.

Lets start with the Rift discrepancy. First off, how can the numbers be half? Like I stated previously, the clients location had been changed for launch. But, then you ask (or foolishly say)..."Well, that is all that bought the game"...where I reply "NO!"

There are more servers for one. there are more FULL servers than Open Beta also. Even this Sunday, my personal server which has not had a queue, had a queue on Sunday.

So, needless to say, those numbers are bogus until the client recognition is fixed.

Now, look at LOTRO and Aion as two games who got hit hard. Now, gaze upon those numbers knowing that the "previous" numbers were Rift Open Beta weekend numbers. Double ouch. Lets go back in time to the weekend after the Super Bowl (SOURCE). LOTRO had 2597 players and Aion had 2458. Now, we can see just how extreme these two MMO's were hit.

EvE also took it down a notch...just not as bad.

But, wow, look at Champions Online. As the Free to Play phenom starts to die down, the numbers are getting lower. Are they still going to drop?

One shocker is that WAR hardly moved. It is down, but not by much. Same for AoC.

This weeks winner is definitely DDO. They seem to be weathering the Rift effect. Congrats to Turbine as always.

Overall, this is a really good comparison to see how most MMO's were hurt after Rift "launched". Trion has to be happy with the purchase mania!

  1. Rift - 3856 (365 ↑ )
  2. EvE Online -  1006 ( 1219  ) players
  3. Lord of the Rings Online -  993 ( 995 ↓ )
  4. Aion - 508 ( 606 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online -  485 ( 539 ↓ )
  6. DC Universe -  338 ( 630 ↓ )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online -  285 ( 337  )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV -  178 ( 160  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 171 ( 157   )
  10. Age of Conan -   84 ( 140 ↓ )
  11. Warhammer Online -   65 ( 95 ↓ )
Raptr's tracking is working much better in this situation. Rift is recognized and some of their data feeds to X-Fire.

As continues to be the case...Raptr always has some oddballs when it comes to play time being up versus down. But, we can definitely see the Rift effect now.

While X-Fire was tracking high for Open Beta and Rift, Raptr always had very low numbers. Not this go round. Each weekend has been pumping out almost 4000 players in Raptr. Rift has become number one with a bullet here. Tripling on our previous #1...Rift is rocking.

Can it hold up?

Oddities abound here. Like DDO taking a big dive here...opposite of X-Fire. FFXIV is actually up during this time.

And look at DC Universe, who is finally feeling the 30 day crunch. Talk about falling down hard. Age of Conan also took it down quite a bit here. And as always (and with much lower numbers to boot), WAR tails.


There we have it. The Rift effect is being felt still. But, time will tell.

I will say this much. I expect Rift to hold up after the thirty day window, as the game is good. Not anything "new" per se, but offers something we have not seen in years. A great launch with a game that has no major game breaking bugs. Content is stable, and people are taking their time and enjoying the view.

Enjoy the numbers and cheers.

UPDATE: By special request, we will be watching numbers on X-Fire for World of Warcraft for a couple of weeks to see if the Rift effect is causing any concerns. So, this weeks SPECIAL game is...

WoW = Xfire (36972 players)

CYA next week.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spectator Sports: The "Rift" dent

Well, Friday health improves, and with that, some fun little commentary on how Rift is progressing.

Yea, yea...we can read it on the blogs, in the forums, or playing the game. Success you say? Sure, people can state it as such. But, what we need are some measuring tools. Not only is talk been above the norm for Rift, with the smattering or "Queue QQ" and "WoW Wannabe" blather, but overall the sense of happiness is more alive within the blogosphere and forums, than most previous launches from the last several years.

"It’s bringing to my mind the age old question of “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Well, to be honest, I know if I’d hated Rift, felt no connection to the game at all and didn’t feel it was worth money, I probably would have uninstalled after beta testing and never looked back. Time and money are too important to waste on something you don’t like.
But as I recall, I did like Rift,"

"I’m trying not to go on and on about Rift; in fact I have decided to hardly mention it at all. It’s one thing if it’s a game few people play, but that’s not Rift’s problem.
Just wanted to share this screenshot of my Bard/Ranger/Assassin taking down the boss of an earth rift in the Stonefields. Yummy."

This is pretty typical across the board, with the usual suspects calling fail (Keen and Graev). But, looking to Twitter, the Forums and across the blogosphere, the consensus is more of a "like" for Rift than some of our previous launches like Age of Conan, Aion or Warhammer Online (with that final one having a massive battle over love versus hate....with hate finally winning).

Talk is of people who see what Trion did. Making a stable polished game that people can play if they are bored with their other title or need new environs. For myself, I had been on break from the standard DIKU MMO and coming fresh to Rift feels fresh for me. I have fallen into my patterns, and I am enjoying myself very much.

But, lets talk REAL visual success. Lets take a gander at what a GOOD game launch can do.

First off, Raptr numbers have been pretty impressive. I hope to see next weeks X-Fire game in full swing. Until then lets see how Rift sits as of today...
3149 players were playing Rift...ON A THURSDAY! Just to give a comparison, our normal #1 game for Raptr, EvE Online on a Sunday rakes in about 1200+ players. So, over double that. Todays numbers for EvE? 1035 players.

How about also looking at Raptrs REVIEW page for Rift. You can see a fair consensus there of people who are for the most part happy or accepting of Rift's sameness.

For X-Fire, an issue (as always seems to be the case, due to support being pretty bad for X-Fire right now), is preventing the game from being recognized. A patch has gone out though, and my hopes are that by Sunday, all clients should be recognized and we can do the game come Monday.

But, lets look at what I call the "Dent".

Please take a close look at the drop near the end of that chart. Can you guess what game this is?

That is World of Warcraft.

Now, note, you can see another "dip" in that chart, from earlier last month when a patch was applied and they had some major downtime. But, for the most part it would climb back up almost immediately. This time the "dent" stuck. What day is that huge dip? March 1st - Rift Launch Day.
I will watch this chart again on Monday and see if this is just an anomaly or if we have a REAL WoW denter in Rift.

Who else felt the heat?
Again, the same thing. A noted outage from last month struck LOTRO over the weekend (and also for Rift betas)...But, the huge dent near the end, thanks to Rift launch.

EvE Online
This one I did NOT expect. Eve took a dive also. I expect it will go back up....but, the pain was felt even in Space!

This includes the marker showing the day of the drop. March 1st took a chunk from Aion as well.

Now, of course time will tell how well Rift has done say in 3 - 6 months. Progress on stability, fixes and thinking of new content needs to be paramount to Rift's success.

I personally feel Rift COULD be the first million subber game, if they keep their cool, work on the games strong points and hold on tight to their player base they have created. I know I am a 6 monther subber (and I rarely do that for MMO's). So, the formula is there...lets see what you got Trion. And Good job!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

HIATUS - Illness got me down

Being a little personal for the moment...

It has been a while since I have posted. I have been under the weather due to being diagnosed with Graves Disease. I do not think the disease is the cause of my "under the weather" I was not even aware of the problem. I did not have many of the symptoms...or if I did I just notched it up to getting "older". If anything, the medicine I am taking for the issue has made me feel blah even more.

Four weeks into being on medication and I get a severe cold. Now, not flu per least that I was aware of. But, the doctor called it as sinusitis...meaning just a bunch of crud build up, that makes you feel crappy. I am on an antibiotic for it.

Now, of course, it should be over by now (going on 7 days)...but, back to my disease...or should I say the medicine itself... is what hurts. I am not generating enough white blood cells to smack it hard. While I was not on the medicine, one of the side effects of Graves is a TON of white blood many that they start attacking muscle and bone structure as they have nothing to attack otherwise (thus it has been a while since I have been sick with anything like this cold). Now, it feels like an eternity to get rid of a silly cold.

I miss feeling "good", and thus, I have not had it in me to write anything until today. Overall though, my focus is off. I want to write about how the Rift launch is going, what I perceive in it's success at this time, and of course chat about those idiots who feel they deserve the world from an MMO developer.

But, I can't muster the feeling to wrap up my thoughts cohesively. Basically, what you are reading now is just train of, I can share what has been happening.

According to the Doctors, I EVENTUALLY will feel better, as the disease was "supposedly" destroying me...yet, I wish I felt like I did the day before my it was SO MUCH BETTER.

Guess time will tell. For now, bear with me, as I WILL get back to the game and writing some of that scathing commentary that keeps the kids happy...

You've been warned...