2014 was certainly a year. I don't know what else can be said about the ups and downs at this point, but before we wave goodbye and/or give the finger to 2014, I've compiled some data based on the staff reviews once again. If you've been around for a few years, you know I used to do this kind of thing with achievement data and site traffic as well, but unfortunately those features are long gone. Will they return one day? We can only hope. So, despite the decline of the importance of reviews, I went ahead and put this together for the fourth year in a row. I already have the spreadsheet built, so I might as well use it for something, right?
Once again, I've paired this data with some of the best community artwork from throughout the year (plus one old one). The total number of reviews is less than before, but we did have the debut of two new reviewers on the site. But, first, credit where credit is due.
Here's a blast from the past. If you were around a few years ago (exactly three years ago to be clear), you may remember a secret collection of cards that were released through the Whiskey Media online store. It was a magical time. A time of big live live shows that were live, big red phones, and baby shaking. How one would obtain one of these cards was hotly debated at the time. Those who did qualify for a card received them in a direct email from one Dave Snider with the user's name emblazoned across the bottom. The real kicker was that it was entirely up to the user to share them with the rest of the community, so some of them were never seen.
Now that it's been a few years, Dave sent me a zip file of all of them. So, here they are in all their glory including the likes of Ryan, Norm, Vinny, Ethan, and the Big Red Phone.
And, yes. Luchadeer's last name is Williams. That's canon.
As of this writing, SOE Live 2014 is ongoing. While primarily watching streams for EverQuest Next info, I've found myself watching several of the panels for the original EverQuest. That combined with Dan's recent virginal forays into WoW have caused my nostalgia for EQ to flare up again (more so than usual). I've spent a considerable amount of time on the wiki here trying to document the game, but I feel like it'd be cool if there was a place to talk about it, share memories, and maybe find out some of us played on the same server way back when. I don't expect this post to be super popular, but we'll see.
A while back I wrote some blogs about specific memories. I should start doing that again.
Feel free to share any stories of your grand and/or nefarious adventures in Norrath below. And if you post your character(s) name, server, guild name, and when you played, I'll add it to the list. Who knows? Maybe we played together.
Three and a half years ago, I started writing a PAX Guide for Giant Bomb duders who wanted to get the best possible experience out of the Penny Arcade Expo. I went on updating it twice a year to the point where it’s basically been the same for the last couple editions. Well, it’s time to mix it up a little bit. If you’ve checked out a version of the guide in the past, you likely know that I’ve been through ten E3s, two Dragon*Cons, and what is about to be twelve PAXs. While I have quite a bit of personal experience in game-related shows, it’s thanks to help from a lot of y’all that I think we’ve got all the pertinent info nailed down. Hopefully, I can present it in a concise, helpful fashion.
The Washington State Convention Center is in a perfect location. Anything you could possibly want to see or do in Seattle is within walking distance (or maybe a short monorail ride). From the moment you get off your plane at SeaTac, you can walk to the Lightrail, pay a few bucks and ride all the way into downtown. At that point, you’re close to all the major hotels, the Pike Place Market, dozens of great places to eat, an arcade, a 5-minute monorail to the Seattle Center (Space Needle and museums), and, of course, the convention center.
Giant Bomb @ PAX
Your best bet to meet the Giant Bomb crew is probably the meet-up on Friday night, but if you missed out on signing up for that or you're just not a premium member, then these panels are going to be the next best chance. There's at least one panel every day of the show (except Monday...sort of) that features at least one member of the staff, so whether you have a 4-day badge or you're only able to attend one day this year, here's what you need to know.
Enforcers are a legion of volunteers that make PAX run efficiently. It would be a hot mess without them. In the old days, they would don the black. But, now that there are multiple versions of PAX, Prime Enforcers are coated in blue. If you need help with anything, just look for one of them. They’re never too far away. And if they ask you nicely to do something (like move out of an aisle/walkway), please do so.
Even if you don’t normally use Twitter, you should sign up just to follow these accounts while you’re at PAX. It’s the best and easiest way to get up-to-the-minute updates on what’s going on.
@pax_tourney - News on the dozens of tournaments going on upstairs.
@paxparties - An unofficial feed for the unofficial parties going on all weekend.
The Packing List
Here's what you need to bring with you especially if you're coming in from out of town.
Most places (including vendors in the expo hall) will take credit/debit cards, but it’s probably a good idea to carry a little cash just in case. And if you need to hit an ATM, do it early in the day as they sometimes run out of money later on.
Whatever your style of choice is, bring one. Don’t rely on getting a free bag at the show. They’re often cumbersome and there’s no guarantee you’ll find one anyway. Trust me…carrying a bunch of random stuff you pick up throughout the day is going to suck without a backpack. Make it at least a 10-slotter. If it has weight reduction, all the better.
Phone & Charger
Duh. You need your phone. But don’t be a dumb and forget your charger and/or wall plug. Pro Tip: Turn your brightness down as far as you can tolerate. Keeping up with your friends at night through texts and/or Twitter is gonna be tough if your phone dies by 2 PM.
Consider buying an external USB battery pack. It’s been a life saver for me the last couple years. Worth every penny. Plus, if you get an adapter, it'll keep your 3DS and/or Vita truckin' too.
Choose your weapon of choice…or dual wield! You will undoubtedly find some downtime (like waiting in line), and you will never be in a better place for local, handheld multiplayer. And then there’s StreetPassing. Oh…the StreetPassing. I see that green light flashing in my sleep.
There will be dispensers scattered around the buildings, but do yourself a favor and toss a little bottle in your bag and use it every time you play something.
If you can fit it in your luggage, this is a veteran move. You might get a cool poster at PAX. You might even get it signed by Todd Howard. Make sure you have a way to get it home without crushing it.
Yep. A trash bag. Just throw it in your luggage. Use it later for dirty clothes, which will keep your stank-ass, sweaty socks off of the cool stuff you bring back on the way home.
The Daily List
Here's a few things that you should do every day.
For the love of Bristlebane, please! It’s not difficult. You're probably paying an arm and a leg for that hotel room you got, so use those amenities.
Walking around for eighteen hours a day for four days requires fuel. It may sound crazy, but you might actually forget to eat and stay hydrated. There’s a ton of awesome places to grab food in downtown Seattle. Try to eat two actual meals a day and carry some snacks for in-between. Alternatively, you could attempt to live on doughnuts for four days. Just don’t get trapped by that Subway on the 4th floor. You’re better than that.
Time is precious at PAX, but you can’t go non-stop for 100+ hours. Try to get at least 5 or 6 hours a night.
Don’t spend all of your time in the convention center. Get out of there once in a while, get some air, grab some real food, see some of the city, etc.
There’s a special vibe that envelops PAX. If you’ve ever felt weird or strange about the nerdy things you love, know that you’ll never be in a place with more people that enjoy the same things that you do than you ever will be. So, be yourself. Talk to random people in lines. You’re going to have a blast. Welcome home.
The To-Do List
Now that you've got a checklist of what to bring and some daily advice, here's some tips on how to prepare.
Guidebook is the best, easiest way to keep up with all the official PAX info (schedule, maps, announcements, etc.) Plus, @coonce works there now, so you know it’s gotta be awesome.
The schedule is out now, so start making a list right now of the panels you may want to see and any potential games you want to play. Compare your list with your friends and get a rough idea of what you want to see and do. Inevitably, you’re going to have make some tough decisions as multiple things you’re interested in will overlap. Accept the fact now that you can’t see/do everything, but if you go in there with no plan at all, you’re going to be overwhelmed.
Plan a Backup
Shit happens. Panels get full faster than you thought. Lines get too long to be worth it. The game you wanted to play might actually just be a presentation. Try to have a backup whenever you can. If all else fails, just go spend some more time in…
Arguably the best part of PAX is the slew of indie games available. And, over the last couple years, the Indie Megabooth has established itself as a primary feature of PAX. It houses around 100 games from nearly as many developers and you could spend hours there. It’s also great because you can play a bunch of games without waiting too long. If you see an open station, play it! I don’t care what it is.
Escape the Expo
The expo hall is an amazing spectacle. No doubt about it. But, it's also a trap. Get the hell out of there and do some other stuff once in a while. PAX has so much to offer aside from the expo hall and you shouldn’t miss it. Head upstairs to the Classic Console and Console Freeplay rooms. Hunt down the Classic Arcade. Head down the street to the Tabletop arenas. You get the point. Go do stuff.
The To-Don’t List
A couple little words of warning from a PAX veteran. You'll thank me later.
We all love free stuff, but seriously…don’t be that guy. Don’t wait in line for 45 minutes to play a game you don’t care about just to get a shirt. And please don’t loiter around a headphone booth hoping to catch an inflatable hat. You will get free stuff without trying too hard, so don’t let SWAG ruin your PAX.
Okay, lines are unavoidable. If you want to do much of anything at PAX, you’re gonna wait in some lines. But, this is on the “don’t” list simply to help you make good decisions. Do you really need to wait in line for two hours to play Destiny when it will be out the next week? Think about it. Do you really want to wait in line for an hour to watch an Assassin’s Creed trailer that will be online Tuesday morning? Time is precious at PAX. Choose wisely.
The Optional List
Three PAX traditions that should not be ignored. Your interest will likely depend on who is involved, so take note.
The “Storytime” session is typically a great opening ceremony for PAX, especially for first-timers. But the Penny Arcade Q&A no longer immediately follows the keynote, so unless you're a fan of the speaker, it may not be worth it. This year’s speaker is Mikey Neumann from Gearbox Software.
On Friday and Sunday night, the Paramount Theatre will be rocking late into the night. Whether you know anything about the performers or not, the concerts are a great time especially if you don’t have any other late night plans. Friday’s lineup includes The Triforce Quartet, The Doubleclicks, and the legendary Paul & Storm. Sunday night, you can see 7bit Hero, Bit Brigade, and nerdcore icon MC Frontalot.
The Omegathon is an elimination tournament that takes place throughout the entire weekend between a couple dozen attendees who were randomly selected prior to the show. The final game is always kept a secret until the very end. It’s usually a great closing ceremony, but it totally depends on the game. I’ve seen some great ones like Vs. Excitebike, Ikaruga, Trials Evolution, and (inexplicably) a stuffed animal crane game. But, I’ve also seen some pure train wrecks like Spaceteam and Cornhole. So, I can’t recommend it as much as I used to, but it still has the potential to be awesome.
Well, that's all I've got. If you have any suggestions, comments, suggestions, or complaints, let me hear it. As always, hopefully this will help some people out and maybe I'll see some of you at PAX. Let me know if you spot my Mii in StreetPass too. I'll probably be the idiot who's most recently played game is Baseball for Game Boy. Anyway, it's gonna be a blast. Have fun. And...try not to throw any chairs.
Before the video games world gets back to "normal" on Monday, I wanted to share some numberless data based on the E3 trailers that we flooded the site (and Twitter feeds, sorry) with this past week. This was the third year I've been able to help with this (the second tag-teaming with Rorie), and I had a lot of fun doing it. It's kinda crazy/hectic especially on Monday and Tuesday trying to get stuff up in a timely manner with the press conferences going on, but then it slows down and I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday digging around for smaller/indie games to feature. The grand total ended up being 129 trailers. It was a bit higher, but some users pointed out that there were a few that we put up that had already been uploaded just prior to E3. Anyway, here's some Top 25 lists that you may find interesting.
Top 25 Most Viewed Trailers
This list is not totally fair because all but three of these trailers (No Man's Sky, Cuphead, Batman Arkham Knight) had a promo in the of the homepage. There's simply not enough space to give everyone a promo. There is/was a section for E3 trailers below the "river" of headlines, but obviously people are going to see those promos first before getting down to the bottom. Enough excuses though, here are the most viewed E3 trailers on Giant Bomb during E3.
And these are the trailers that generated the most discussion without a top front page promo. These trailers walked uphill in the snow both ways to get people talking. Well, they did all get a tweet though.
On the same day as the first thing I ever Kickstarted got released, I dumped money back into the system. If you have not heard, there’s a new MMO looking for your help via crowd funding. It’s called Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, which admittedly is a awfully generic name. It’s being developed by a (currently) small team led by Brad McQuaid, who is one of the three men that dreamed a dream called EverQuest and made it a reality.
“Oh, great…another EverQuest blog from Marino,” you’re saying. Well, sort of. It’s complicated.
Over the last decade, I’ve come to terms with the fact that no MMO will ever equal the sense of wonder, camaraderie, and discovery that EverQuest gave me. Between 2000 and 2004, I spent over 350 days of play time in the world of Norrath. It was the most fun I have ever had or probably ever will have in a game. While that’s somewhat depressing to say, after many years of attempting and failing to recapture the magic, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m okay with it. The fact that it’s not replicable makes my experiences in EQ that much more special. Part of the reason is that MMOs, even EQ itself, have moved on from EverQuest once was.
Now, here comes Brad McQuaid, his “Vision,” and Pantheon trying quite specifically to recapture that magic and fuck up my whole sense of closure. God dammit!
You see, “The Vision” was a hotly debated topic in the early days of EverQuest. When people would complain that something was too hard or didn’t make sense, the answer, whether it was a joke or not at the time, was always “it’s part of The Vision.” We probably didn’t realize it in the moment, but "The Vision" was a big part of what made the game so great and memorable. The tenets of Pantheon listed on their Kickstarter page will appear quite familiar to any EverQuest old-timers like myself. Visionary Realms makes it no secret that they’re trying to target a specific audience of MMO players that yearn for the days of true challenge. They know this game is not for everyone and it's not supposed to be.
I’ve said for years that MMOs have become too hand-holdy, for lack of a better word. I understand why; it only makes sense. Make things easier and bring in a bigger audience. But, at some point, it alienates much of that core audience that was there at the beginning of this whole thing. I want to be afraid to die at all times. I want to be punished for bad decisions, ill preparation, and sheer stupidity. I want to have to walk to most places. I don’t want a glowy line telling me exactly where to go the moment I start a quest. I don’t want to be max level two weeks after the game comes out. You get the idea. I went into way more detail about this stuff on a previous blog a couple years ago.
So, I should be super excited by this prospect, right? Well, I don’t know. I like where their heart is, but I’d be lying if I said I was 100% sure they can pull it off. First of all, their target for release is 2017. Is that even a real year? Right now, they are just ten dudes working on this thing part-time with apparently more waiting in the wings for funding. Their Kickstarter video is admittedly a bit hokey, and those stretch goals are quite absurd. But, you know what? Kickstarter is still a weird place anyway.
I’ll forever be grateful what that team at Verant accomplished with making EverQuest. Their work provided me literally thousands of hours of entertainment and friends (and enemies) that I still talk to thirteen years later. But, on the other hand, let’s not forget what happened the last time McQuaid went off and founded his own studio; Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. I don’t pretend to know all of what went wrong with that game during development or why exactly Microsoft bailed on them, but that game could’ve been special. I was in the beta from very early on. Instead of being special, it was mostly a hot mess from the get go. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been down this road before and been let down.
I think, if I can just be honest with myself, it might simply be too late for this type of game. EverQuest Next, the forthcoming revamp of the EQ franchise, explored the idea of “going old school” and that whole iteration of the game was scrapped in development a couple years ago in favor of what we’re getting now, which I’m cautiously optimistic about. SOE is trying some groundbreaking things with EQ Next, some of which are kind of scary for MMO veterans like myself. I even told this to Dave Georgeson and Omeed Dariani personally at PAX Prime 2013. But, I also told them that their enthusiasm and conviction in presenting these fundamental changes left me with a sense of hope and optimism. We may all be better off looking forward rather than backward at this point with MMOs. It also might be too late for successfully funding crazy game ideas that require upwards of $1 million. We’ll see. At the time of this writing, they're close to $100,000 of the $800,000 goal in just three days.
Despite my reservations (and better judgment?), as I said at the beginning, I did pledge some money towards the cause. Call it morbid curiosity or having more nostalgia than sense maybe. As much as I want to say I have let the dream die, I simply can’t ignore the fact that they’re targeting Pantheon right at people like me. I’m precisely the guy they’re talking about in their pitch. So, good luck, Visionary Realms. I’m willing to give you another shot.
If you want to learn more about Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen in detail and potentially give them your money, go check out their Kickstarter page.
2013 has been one hell of a year, you guys...on multiple levels. Before we say farewell and/or good riddance, let's take a look back at the games that were reviewed on Giant Bomb this year. Unfortunately, this is the only year-end data that I have to present to you this year. Maybe 2014 will be the return of achievement data or site data. We can only hope.
It was a relatively slow year for reviews on the site. There's probably multiple reasons for this including a pretty sizable drought prior to the release of the new consoles. Even so, we ended up averaging a little over one per week. Admittedly, there's not going to be a ton of analysis in the images that follow, but I hope you enjoy the pretty colors and some of the best community art from this year.
It's been about five years and three months since Giant Bomb fully launched, and it's no secret that I spend most of my time here on the wiki, whether that be working on it myself or moderating submissions. In those five years, we've built a database of 40,000+ games, 27,000+ characters, 106,000+ people, 5700+ objects, 4300+ locations, 8800+ companies, 7300+ concepts, and 130+ platforms. Yesterday, I passed somewhat of a milestone by creating my 2000th new page.
Now, to be honest, I don't actually know if it was my 2000th page for sure. The List feature on the site, while better than it was, is still kinda wonky. Looking through it now, there seem to be a few duplicates here and there for some reason, and a few pages that don't seem to show up in the list but do show up on that particular item's page. So...I dunno. But it says 2000, so I'm going to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite pages that I started.
Take note that many of these pages were filled out by other people. I may have just created the page to get it started. But, there's plenty of them where I did a lot of work on it as well. I did a blog like this a couple years ago when I hit 1000, so I'm going to reuse a few things from that to save time. Anyway, here's a bunch of red text...
You Always Remember Your First
The first thing I ever did on the wiki was add Hyrule as a location to the Link to the Past page, but the first page I ever created was for The Attack. The TI-99/4A was the first game system that I had, so there's a lot of nostalgia there. That's why my first project on the wiki was to fill out the the library of TI-99/4A games like this one, Blasto, Car Wars, and Chisholm Trail.
This was my first big page. I wasn't really sure there was a place for it on the site, but luckily Jeff gave me the go ahead to add it as a concept. Back in 1997, I received the first edition of PlayStation Underground because I had registered my PlayStation with one of those post cards that you get in the box with any new system. At the time, the idea of being able to play demos of games that weren't out yet and getting high quality video content was unheard of. The Internet was still fairly new, and you certainly weren't going to be downloading all this stuff like you can today. I had been teaching myself basic HTML at the time, so I decided to create a site about it. While in an AOL video game chat room trying to get people to check out my site, I got an IM from a guy claiming he worked on PlayStation Underground. Of course I didn't believe him, but when he sent me an email from a Sony domain, I couldn't argue with that. Turned out that he was the producer of the whole thing, Gary Barth. I kept working on the site, which became fairly popular with fans of the CD magazine thanks to inside information provided by Gary pertaining to what was coming in each next issue. When Gary found out that I lived in Georgia, he invited my friend Christopher and myself to E3 in Atlanta. I was only 16 at the time, so we were told that if anyone asked, to tell them that we had won a contest from Sony. The site pretty much ended in 2001 when the magazine stopped being produced, so I'm happy that some of the site's content found a new home here.
Electronic Entertainment Expo
When I ran the Underground site, I built a sub-site specifically for E3. I was able to attend the show for 10 years from 1997-2006, so I had a lot of documented info and thousands of photos from my old site, but I had to create a bunch more especially for the years I didn't attend. Trying to find documentation online for an event that happened in 1995 isn't easy. Despite not having been to the show in a while, E3 is still one of my favorite times of the year.
For over three years, the world of Norrath was pretty much my life. It sounds crazy now, and maybe a little sad, but I enjoyed just about every minute of it. I've come to terms with the fact that EverQuest is likely the most fun that I will ever have in any game for the rest of my life. Nothing will ever match that first MMO experience and sense of community in a virtual world. It's hard to convey to people that didn't play it at the time.
Out of the 2000 pages I've started, about 800 of them are EverQuest related. That's a lot of places, characters, and items, so I created a separate list for all that. But here's some of the highlights:
Norrath - The world in which EverQuest exists has a ton of lore and history behind it.
I've spent a considerable amount of time creating pages for all the zones in the original EverQuest. There's too many to list individually here, but you can easily see them all from these continent pages:
When you spend a ton of time trying to document everything that was at every E3 and PAX, you end up creating a lot of game pages. Some of them are pretty big named, exciting games while others are...not. But, we can't just make a Skyrim page and forget about Cheetah Girls now can we? What kind of database would we be if we did that?
Here's some of the pages I enjoyed making a page for.
Finding weird concepts to make pages for is probably one of my favorite things on the site. Deleting really dumb ones is also one of my favorite things on the site. Where do we draw the line? Come over to the Delete & Combine forum to find out. Here are some of my favorite ones I've started:
I end up making a bunch of company pages during PAX every year primarily because of the Indie Megabooth. There over 80 companies in it for PAX Prime 2013 and about half of those didn't have pages I think. There's nothing particularly special about those though, so here's a couple weird ones.
Moby Dick Studio - This page might should be deleted actually. I don't know. Kojima's weird.
Phantom Entertainment - Also maybe shouldn't be a page, but we have to document that lapboard somewhere, right?
I don't generally do a lot of work on credits. There's a few saints in our community that do though and they don't get the credit they deserve. Here's a few of my favorites that I've started:
Alan Drummer - I met him a couple times at E3. Most memorably he was the voice of "URNOTe" campaign for the original PlayStation.
Well, that's about it I guess. Thanks for checking it out. If you need any help with what should or shouldn't be a page on the site (or any other wiki-related question), feel free to contact me or one of the other moderators. There's a button/link over on the right side of the forums.
And if you're interested at all in skimming through all 2000+ pages I've started, there's a list for that.