So this is my list. My end-of-2012 list. I am devoting the 26th Perfect Ten of 2012 to the top 10 moments in MMO gaming and blogging. It was a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and looking back, I don't think I could've predicted half of the major events that happened in this industry. That's what I like about this gig: It keeps me on my toes.
There were a lot of regrettable outcomes from the 38 Studios debacle this year. Good people losing their jobs was the most tragic, of course, but the fact that the devs would never get to see their game launch -- and we would never play it -- was significant as well. It galls me that Project Copernicus looked as though it got within striking distance of launching, and every new fact that we learned about the game or screenshot we saw made me think, "I really wish I could've played this."
What could have been drives me a little bit mad in this regard, and there were several times this year that I had to force myself to stop thinking about the potential that this title had.
2. Seeing my daughter as an NPC in Guild Wars 2.
There's a longer version of this story that you can read on my blog, but here's the short version: I met ArenaNet President Mike O'Brien at a fan gathering a few years back. He didn't really know who I was (who could blame him?), but when I half-jokingly suggested that my baby daughter had a cool name that would be great for Guild Wars 2, he passed it along to the story team and made it happen.
It took a couple of years to finally see the end result, but the truth is that if you encounter a certain Sylvari in the personal storyline, she's a nod to a certain fan's daughter. In a few years when she's old enough to understand, I'm going to enjoy showing her in-game doppleganger to her.
3. Interviewing John Smedley about EQMac.
When the news that SOE would be axing the ancient EverQuest Macintosh version came down the pipe, I channeled some of the players' woes into a couple of columns and asked for an interview with the studio about it. This turned into a phone call with Smed, which was memorable in that he told me how he decided to reverse that decision. It's not every day that I get to have a frank chat with the head of a big MMO studio, and I took full advantage of it by asking every and any question that was on my mind.
It was also memorable in that Smedley kept mentioning secret news and projects that he and the publicist who was also on the line had to repeatedly tell me not to spill. Dude, I hate getting handed big news and then told to zip it.
In the months leading up to The Secret World's release, I was slightly interested in it, but I was vastly distracted by a certain other late-year launch to really jump on board the hype train. TSW was a game that I checked out because I thought it would fill a couple of weeks of gameplay, and instead it totally knocked my boots off with a stunningly innovative game. Storytelling, character building, setting, scares -- it all was so unexpected for me. I delight in being pleasantly surprised, and never so much as with this game.
I'll shut up. I've gushed about it enough already.
5. Starting up Jukebox Heroes.
I've always had a huge love for video game music but never really thought to tackle it from an MMO perspective until this year. After wheedling my boss to let me write a column about in-game music, I found myself helming something that (as far as I know) hasn't really been done before: a column about MMO music.
It's not the most popular column on this site, but I live for the incredibly encouraging comments that some of you have left thanking me and the site for finding music important enough to cover. I have years of material planned, and I hope that you check Jukebox Heroes out if you haven't already.
6. Dealing with City of Heroes' closure.
Everyone has a first MMO love, and I think that eventually, we all have a first MMO heartbreak. I'm not talking about burnout so much as the day when a studio finally closes down a game you loved (versus one of the "other" titles out there). This happened in 2012 as NCsoft sent City of Heroes packing. City of Heroes was quite near and dear to me, and I cheered the effort to save it as much as anyone else. I think you'll hear a lot of echoes of the emotions I had in a Soapbox I wrote.
I really hate to see good things end, even if it's "just" a superhero video game.
It's weird: I've gone from a gamer who happened to listen to Massively's podcast to a staff member who occasionally guested on the show to one of the two people who put it together every week. Back in February, Bree took over Rubi's spot as co-host and began a new era of the podcast. It wasn't the easiest thing, as some of you didn't like the change or my weird voice or Bree's silly songs. But it's been incredibly rewarding because for all that I write about MMOs every week, it's lovely to just sit back and talk about them with another gamer and writer.
Bree and I have our differences and similarities, and all of those have meshed together over time to make a pretty darn good podcast (in my opinion). Recording it is the highlight of my Mondays, and I couldn't ask for a better co-host. [Ed.: Rightbackatcha, Olivetti.]
8. Feeling pleasantly overwhelmed with gaming options in the fall.
It's like some mathematical equation that's woven into the fabric of the universe: The less time I have to play games, the more exciting prospects make themselves known. So by the time I was welcoming my third child into the world this fall, there was a deluge of stuff to play. New games. New expansions. Huge new patches. If I gamed as a full-time job, I don't even think I could keep up with it all.
And you know what? That's a great problem to have. I remember in the past there were moments when I was utterly bored and bereft of attractive MMO options. 2012 was a huge year for new stuff in this genre, no doubt about it, and we all got to reap the juicy rewards.
It doesn't happen often, but when a huge breaking story hits our newsroom and I'm on shift, I have to go into overdrive to get that puppy out and now. I wasn't given much of a heads-up before the story that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to go free-to-play, but when it happened I had less than 10 minutes to throw something together and get it on the site. That may seem like an eternity, but there's a lot more than just slamming words down into a text box here. So I was formatting, cross-linking, trying to pull the pertinent facts and quotes, and all the while I had about four people chanting, "Go! Now! Go! Now!" at me.
So out of all of the stories that I've handled this year, this was probably the most adrenaline-charged one. And it even got a few comments -- imagine that.
10. Playing Dark Age of Camelot for Choose My Adventure.
Unlike some of the folks on staff, I haven't made a career out of doing CMAs. It's mostly a time thing, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about you guys saddling me with a cruddy title that I'd have to play and hate for six weeks. But I figured that I needed to do it at least once, so earlier this year I did a run of the series and had DAoC chosen for me.
It was a growing experience. I'm not a huge PvP guy, so that was a stretch, and handling a much older MMO was certainly interesting. There was a lot of frustration on my part during it, but some elation as well. In the end, I don't regret spending some time in that game or having you guys egg me on.
So that's it: my most memorable MMO moments from 2012. Hopefully 2013 can top that!
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.