January 2011

A Sad Day For The MMO Industry

Yogurting has closed its doors.

(disclaimer: this video has literally nothing to do with Yogurting)

This happened some time ago. But I just found out when I saw a facebook game called Yogurtistan. Yogurtistan is JUST LIKE Yogurting except:

– it’s on Facebook
– it’s from Turkey
– it’s nothing like Yogurting

But other then that, exactly the same. Which is good, because the world needs more Yogurting.



(By the way, the actual gameplay of Yogurting apparently involved Japanese schools and eggplants.)

Second Life Killer Killed

Well, you be the judge on if that may be a bit strong: Blue Mars, which until today was positioning itself as a Second Life-style virtual world with better graphics and less rampaging genitalia, announced that they were ‘refocusing’ on their iOS-based clients and halting work on their PC version.

The first versions of Blue Mars Mobile will be an extension to the PC client but over time, the mobile version will absorb many of the features found in the PC version. With our focus now clearly on mobile, updates to the PC version of the software will likely be restricted to bug fixes for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, we will no longer charge our current City Developers for the monthly city hosting service. The servers will remain online, city updates and uploads will continue, and shop and residence rentals will still function but technical support for the user client will no longer be offered.

Given the inherent limits of iOS as a virtual world platform (touch screens not being terribly efficient for moving around 3D spaces, and virtual keyboards being painful to use for communicating) it’s pretty easy to see this as good news for Linden Lab, whose primary competition remaining now appears to be third-party open source servers using the Second Life client.

More on this here from New World Notes, whose writer, W. James Au, was until recently a consultant and writer for Blue Mars’ developer.

Discuss: Who will save the cat people now?

The War Against Runes Of Magic

DATELINE: January 11, 2011. The following image is posted to the German home page of Frogster’s “Runes of Magic”, one of the most popular free-to-play MMOs with over 4 million users.

The image was quickly removed, and the Frogster community team posted the following to their forum (along with the pic):

Liebe Runes of Magic Spieler,

wie viele von euch bemerkt haben, wurde einer unserer Frösche schmerzhaft von einem Auto angefahren. Ihr müsst euch keine Sorgen machen, von diesem Frosch abgesehen waren alle angeschnallt.

Er wurde sofort auf die Rettungsstation gebracht und hüpft auch schon wieder.

Hier eine kleine Aufnahme seines momentanen Zustandes:

Eure Accounts sind von dem Unfall nicht betroffen. Es gab einen unbefugten Zugriff auf unser Content Management System. Betroffen sind damit nur die Zugänge der maßgeblich an der Webseitengestaltung Beteiligten, insbesondere also dem Community Management Team.

Die Straße zu dem Unfallort ist vorerst gesperrt worden, wir wünschen dem Frosch eine gute Besserung.

Euer Runes of Magic Team

(Bad machine-assisted translation:)

Dear Runes of Magic players:

As many of you have noticed, one of our frogs was painfully hit by a car. You have nothing to worry about, apart from this frog everyone is fine.

He was immediately taken to the medical station and now jumps again.

Here is a small review of his current condition:

Your accounts are not affected by the accident. There was an unauthorized access to our content management system. The only parties affected were ones working with the website design, ie in particular the Community Management Team.

The road to the accident site has been blocked for the time being, we want the frog to have a good recovery.

Your Runes of Magic Team

DATELINE: Several hours later, Runes of Magic official forums (click for full size image:)

The post concludes with a long list of usernames and passwords for the forum.

DATELINE: January 13, 2011. The Runes of Magic community team responds, a bit more seriously.

An anonymous attacker has threatened to release log-in data unless his terms are met. He is demanding that forum communication practices and technical aspects of Runes of Magic operation be changed. To support his claim, the attacker has already posted the log-in details of approx. 2,100 accounts to the forum. To protect the affected players, the posts in question were naturally removed immediately and secured as evidence. The attack constitutes a serious criminal offence, and we immediately informed the German State Office of Criminal Investigation and pressed charges.

It is important to note that the data released was outdated log-in data from 2007, long before our comprehensive password reset initiative. Nevertheless, we immediately blocked the relevant accounts (account management, forum, and game access) of the affected players for their protection. Accounts changed by you after the password reset have not been affected thus far.

We promptly assembled a task force and are of course making every effort to get to the bottom of this incident. We are utilising every means at our disposal to minimise the damage and to prevent such threats in the future. We have already implemented additional security measures today. As soon as all the necessary steps have been taken with regard to operational and criminal processes, we will inform you of further developments on this matter.

This incident is very distressing to all of us. It is targeted not only at Frogster as a company, but also at Runes of Magic as a virtual biosphere and at you as players. We are always open to constructive suggestions. However, giving your opinion on blackmail and extortion is surely not the correct approach.

DATELINE: Today. The hacker, calling himself “cptz3r0”, uploads an Anonymous-style video to Youtube with new threats.

Right now we have more than 3 Million and 5 hundred thousand accounts. 5 hundred thousand of them are already hacked and verified. Your other Games like Bounty Bay Online and Tera are affected too. So you better dont mess with us. Take this serious. Change your mind. Become a valued member of the community and stop abusing them.

After two weeks we will coming back.

For any MMO, this is, in terms of security, the worst case scenario.

Discuss: Implications?

What’s The Worst That Can Happen?

In Reid's defense, no one involved in the development of Rift is likely to be shot into space this year.

David Reid, marketing VP at Trion, on Rift’s new finger-in-the-eye advertising campaign targeting World of Warcraft:

If you’re an MMO gamer, Azeroth might as well be Kansas.

Reid in 2008:

I hope that for folks who are fans of these giant triple-A games, these big investments in the MMO space with high production quality, there should be no confusion: this is good news for that game. We are going to get back to doing this all day, every day, in a world class way. The lighter side of the business, the free-to-plays and things like that, those are great businesses, but there will be other companies who will be delivering that form. It won’t be NCsoft so much, going forward.

Reid in 2011:

In my mind, you see a lot of big publishers that have retreated from the subscription model and have gone away from the AAA business and approached the genre like a free-to-play casual, but they aren’t the business that harnesses the gamer with a capital G.

So there you go: David Reid, strictly for the Gs.

Anytime you make a campaign, you want to appeal to your core audience, but if you’re not annoying or confusing someone you don’t have a very good campaign!

To be fair, David Reid is well on his way to building a successful marketing career based on being annoying and confusing.

(Obligatory disclaimers: I’ve been quoted being annoyed and confused at David Reid before and currently work where he used to cancel my projects.)

Discuss: Your turn to be annoying and confusing here.

With Me, It’s Really Only Two Moves Ahead

As some of you know, I have interests in gaming that go beyond the killing of orcs for their pants. Earlier this week I filled in on the well-respected “Three Moves Ahead” wargaming podcast discussing the new monster “War In The East” wargame from 2by3 Games. Hopefully the podcast survived with its well-respected status intact!

If you want to hear my incredidorky voice, tune in here!

Discuss: Then, heckle me here.

Pushing Counters

Somewhat relevant: how hard-core wargames actively alienate potential customers through having painful UI.

Imagine this scenario. You are the Supreme Allied Commander for Allied forces in Europe during World War II. You walk into your office and your aide-de-camp says “Good morning, General Eisenhower. Your general staff awaits you in the conference rooom to discuss Operation Overlord.”

“Excellent. I’ll be right there.”

“One moment, sir. Before that, you should be aware that Fox company of the 506th has run out of condoms in their survival kits.”

“Uh, well, get them replacement kits.”

“Very good sir. Also, a truck was destroyed in the Ardennes. Should I requisition a replacement?”


“I’ll get right on it. A number of toothbrushes have gone missing in a training camp in North Carolina. How many staff sergeants would you like to assign to investigate the crime?”

At this point, in real life, Eisenhower would court-martial his aide-de-camp for being a Nazi spy.

There is important information, and there is unimportant information.