World of Warlaughs I Guild Wars Contest Announced I What About EverQuest II? I MMO Exchange Rates I Short Stories I Media Place I Readers Speak I Freakin' Hot Rena Tanaka Picture of the Week
Issue #49 Lifestream October 2, 2005

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When Eric "Easy E" Emerson went home for a weekend off this past Friday, he was expecting to see family, revisit sentimental locations, and take a joyride on his motorcycle. What he didn't expect was for this to be the last time he'd ever do those things. In the very early, still dark hours of Saturday morning, Eric rode his motorcycle through an intersection, not stopping, because his path didn't have a sign or red light. A drunk driver traveling perpendicular to Eric's path also failed to stop, even though there certainly was a stop sign for his street.

Eric was a friend of mine. Through much negotiation and persuading, I convinced him to join me as staff on While there, he demonstrated grand amounts of diligence and a commitment to excellence most journalists only hope to obtain. For the better part of this year, we were a pretty sweet duo, before I backed off of writing and he shouldered twice the load. That said, I hope to match his work ethic when I return to active writing for RPG Land again.

Here's an appropriate link to MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They seem to be the premiere anti-DUI organization. I didn't link to the Bikers Against Drunk Driving because while he owned a motorcycle, Eric wasn't really a "biker" per se.

Hard as it may be, I'm not going to let his death prevent a column's posting or alter its mood. I know that as a fellow game journalist, he'd be friggin' pissed if I got all mopey for a whole column. So this one goes out to you, bud.

 World of Warlaughs
"He came through and the thing was all like 'bam' and we were all like 'whoa.'"

You may have read in our news about the plague that swept through World of Warcraft. If not, and you'd like to know what's up, by all means, click the red link in the previous sentence. Sorry if you thought a summary was coming. Pfft.

Since the news has already been reported, that means I can cut right to the best part of anything involving the internet: the idiots. Here's what boardies the web over have said about World of Warcraft's own Black Death.

"This is way to similar to EQ2's plague to be a coincidence. The conspiracy theory back then was that SoE was payed by shady government branches to experiment on biological warfare and the spreading of diceases, MMO worlds seems extremely well suited for such a test. And now in WoW as well? Is this even true? Are we all unwilling/willing test subjects?"

"[someone with the plague] came through and the thing was all like 'bam' and we were all like 'whoa.'"

"just a way 4 the bli$$ard to cop out of posting more content. they can act like theyre spending time fixing this bug while no body realizes no new content or buggy stupid new content is the only thing."

Now that we're all dumber for having read those, let's watch this sweet video: it's pretty funny.

Now on with the column...

 Guild Wars Contest Announced

An NCsoft press release was recently sent out of Bellvue, Washington, a town that has been totally Heath'd once in the past. Missions aside, this news was about the "Guild Wars World Championship." Sponsored by publisher NCsoft and developer ArenaNet, the event will start this weekend, ultimately leading to a big fiasco with teams from America, Europe, and Korea competing in the Guild Wars World Championship Finals during the week of the Taipei Game Show, being February 16–20 of next year in Taipei, Taiwan. Can you imagine like, requesting days off of work for that? "Yeah hey, I need Feb 16-20 off, cause I'm going to Taiwan." "Oh, going to take some tours and things? Honeymoon? What's up?" "Well, I'm in this game competition...." Heh.

The inaugural season began Saturday, October 1, as ArenaNet resets the Guild Wars ladder at midnight Pacific Daylight Time. The ladder season will last three months, and will lead to playoffs among top-ranked guilds in three regions: America, Europe, and Korea. Two eight-player teams from each region will then qualify to compete in Taipei for the Guild Wars world champion title in February. Teams from Taiwan and Japan will also compete in exhibition matches with the world finalists.

"Players have been clamoring for a tournament ever since we launched Guild Wars in April," said ArenaNet Co-founder Jeff Strain. "This sort of global competition has been in our plans from the start, and since the emphasis in Guild Wars is on player skill, the game is perfectly suited for tournament play."

 What About EverQuest II?

Straight from the Official site:
Treasure Chest!
Sometimes it's hard to find the buried treasures contained within the EverQuest II forums. The Treasure Chest highlights useful, insightful, or entertaining posts that you may want to check out. Get your treasure maps and shovels ready--we're about to discover a Treasure Chest!

  • Vendolis has revised his and Lady's excellent slash commands guide to include the latest additions.
  • The Friday Knights took a journey to Zek, the Orcish Wastes the old way--by embarking on a quest. Neame details their journey.
  • Arcanya continues to update the Ultimate EverQuest II Checklist. Check it out!
  • There are some exciting changes coming up to stealth and invisibility in Live Update #14. Blackguard explains.
  • Moorgard discusses the utility of the Guardian class in groups with the Fighter community.

  •  MMO Exchange Rates

    RPGamer forumer "Watcher" pointed me to an interesting article on CNET. Article author Daniel Terdiman states, "...according to two of the leading experts in the economies of these virtual worlds, getting a fair price in the exchange of real dollars for fantasy coins can be a crapshoot." The article describes the difficult task of finding a real-life exchange rate for virtual coins. GameUSD says it's got the figures as accurate as anyone. They don't claim perfection, but do say the general info they provide is legit.

    Tianmin Zhu, GameUSD's head researcher, said his research was done primarily by aggregating those sites that sell in-game currency for real cash. The problem there is that a game's server plays a big part in how much something costs. The charts on GameUSD show general trends in the game, but do not account for specific servers. Additionally, most developers won't release data on their economies, so the direct authority with all data on transfers and such can't be reached. CNET quotes Sony Online Entertainment's Sam Lewis as saying, "To a certain extent, we don't keep that data, because it isn't important to us. Our goal is to make a fun game." Maybe this is kind of funny, considering SOE busted out that "Exchange Station" in June, but I guess that was just for EverQuest II.

    Quoting CNET again here, "...Hunter, who is a co-editor of Terra Nova, the leading Web site about virtual economies, and Ed Castronova, another Terra Nova co-editor and a professor at Indiana University, think the task of figuring out the real exchange rates is currently too complex for GameUSD to calculate with any high degree of accuracy. 'There are simply too many different marketplaces for the gold pieces and other currencies,' they said."

    Castronova also believe that these micro economies will eventually be so big, real governments will have to step in and create some regulations. He predicts, "Cyberspace nations that are issuing these currencies are going to be under legal obligation to report sales and volumes and transactions, because in worlds where those currencies can be freely liquidated into dollars, there are clear tax implications."

    Sources: CNET | GameUSD

     Short Stories

    The Developer Diary of Turbine's Chris Pierson has been posted on the Lord of the Rings Online site. He starts out, "Hi. My name's Chris, which is confusing, since it seems like there are about a billion designers named Chris at Turbine." To see what this Chris has to say that the others haven't said yet, go here. There are some delicious screenshots there, too.


    Mythic has announced that all future expansions will be available to subscribers via digital downloads. That kinda sucks for me, because I like having the neat boxes on display, but I suppose it saves time in the long run. Catacombs is available for a $19.99 activation fee, and Darkness Rising will soon be as well. A bundle containing both expansions will be available for $29.99, a $10 savings for subscribers. Darkness Rising will also be included, along with the original game and all expansions released to date, in the new Dark Age of Camelot: Epic Edition to be released at retail this month for $39.99.


    PlayOnline tells FFXI players: "In October's version update, a new type of item will be introduced that will give a bonus to the amount of experience or limit points earned. These items will provide a bonus until a set period of time has passed or certain conditions are met." All the details are here. And let us not forget about the announcement of Blue Mages coming to the game in the next expansion. Check out pictures of this highly-anticipated job class and other shots on our recent media update.

     Media Place

    I can't very well post screens if I don't have any submissions :(

      Readers Speak

    Speaking of the Blue Mage...

    Blue Christmas

    Hi Heath, did you hear about the blue mages in Final Fantasy XI?

    I've been holding off on getting into FFXI for a long time now. Over the last couple months the updates and things have made my wanting grow (like the increased EXP for lower levels, I hate grinding too much.) This blue mage addition has pushed me over the edge. I'll be asking for this game for Christmas this year and the new expansion pack too.

    What do you think of the blue mages, Heath?


    I think the Black Mages are one of my favorite bands as of late. Their version of Matoya's Cave is just awesome. Oh wait, you said BLUE Mages. Sorry 'bout the mix-up.

    I'm glad to see any new class come into any new MMO, since that's how I roll. In the case of FFXI, players are zapped down to Level 1 when they switch jobs, so a new one is a good tool for restoring balance to the community. I haven't played the game in a while, but I might re-up just to check things out when the expansion is released. You know...see how things are.

    Cortney Stone is far more in-the-know on FFXI stuff than I am, so I also brought her in to comment.


    My concern is how Blue Mages will fit into the party setup. We have tanks, healers, refreshers, and damage dealers. Will Blue Mage play a role similar to BRD in which they buff/debuff/regen/refresh? Or will they be more of an afterthought to a party?

    Also, Blue Mages must learn their skills by having an enemy use the skill on them. This means that they will have to be attacked, and since Blue Mages do not seem to be a tank class, they won't (or shouldn't be) attacked in a party setup. The solution is to either make them viable for soloing, or to have them learn abilities by seeing them. For example, they see a Pugil use Screwdriver on their PLD in a party, and they are suddenly able to use Screwdriver as well.

    In order for Blue Mage to succeed as a class, it must bring something to the table in a party situation and/or enable a player to solo effectively. Otherwise, we will see many Blue Mages bored and LFP in Jeuno all the time. However, if Blue Mage serves the same role in a party as, say, Red Mage -- the healer/debuffer/refresher -- it must provide a unique way of playing that differs from RDM and goes beyond skills with different names. It cannot be just like leveling RDM all over again, only you're using the Spider Web ability with slow effect instead of casting the spell Slow.

    Adding another job should not be just like adding another timesink. It should be adding something that enhances the way the game is played. It should be a fun and challenging way to do things, not just doing the same old things with different animations and a shiny new costume.

     Log Out

    And thus, this is my next-to-last issue of MMORPGamer. Next week ends my RPGamer career, as I'll be going back full-time to the site I broke out with.

    It's too bad it had to go this way though. I had all kinds of fun ideas for the column. Well, whoever takes over, you can count on me contributing letters and an occasional screenshot, for sure. =)

    With a new author will most defnitely come a new spin. So here's an idea for the letters portion: send things you'd like to see implimented by the new guy/girl. On top of that, say what you've liked and disliked about how I did things. Be brutal! Honesty is the only way we can fix anything here, so say whatever's on your mind. Review me, even. Do what you will.

    -...That's messed up, but I'll never forget what we've been though, and Easy, Heath Hindman is still with you

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