Friday, September 24, 2021

A Rambling Post About Twitter, New World, Sable, Japanese Breakfast, Posthumanism, Digital Feeds, Steam Sales And Pre-Orders, In Which I Push Declarative Post-Titling To Its Inevitable And Unsustainable Conclusion

This morning I have a few things rattling around inside my head that wouldn't make full posts. Or perhaps I should say ought not to be allowed to make full posts. There's not much doubt I could get a couple of thousand words out of any of them if I set my mind to it but just because you can doesn't mean you should.

If I was on Twitter I could just craft several delicious micro-posts and send them winging into the twittersphere to charm and delight, because that's how Twitter works, isn't it? I am on Twitter, as it happens, but I have never tweeted. Or have I? Let's see... 

Ok, that's quite disturbing. Twitter logs me in automatically even though I haven't knowingly used the service for over ten years. Where is it holding the information that allows it to recognize me without a login or password, I wonder? I never let anything do that, not even stuff I use every day.

I have tweeted five times, all in 2010, all auto-generated from Fallen London, which at that time required Twitter to play. I literally made my Twitter account to play it and that is all I ever used it for. 

I have one follower, a good friend of mine from a long time back. I'm following him too but I have not the least clue how that would have happened. I haven't seen or spoken to him for more than fifteen years. 

Other than that, apart from Failbetter Games, makers of Fallen London, who I had to follow to make the game work, the only other person I'm following is, for some inexplicable reason, Scott Hartsman. Maybe he played Fallen London. He seems like the kind of person who might have done.

It does occasionally occur to me to start using Twitter but I also seem to have set up my Twitter profile using some variant of my real name so if that ever happens it's not going to be on that account. I do appear to be @bhagpuss, though. That would be okay, I guess.

Seem to have strayed from the point a little, don't we? Not sure why I'm including anyone else in that. Share the responsibility, share the blame, eh?

As I was saying, I have a few odds and ends to mention and it's Friday so I thought I might steal Wilhelm's "Friday Bullet Points" idea and run through this and that. Except they're going to bleed into one another a little too much for bullet points, which is a shame, because I like bullet points. And now I've rambled so much I've forgotten what most of them were, anyway. 

It'll come back to me, I'm sure. I'll go and make myself a coffee. Get my thoughts in order. I knew I should have made some notes.

Right, New World! That was one of the things I was going to talk about. I had the email opposite from Amazon this morning.

A few things occurred to me in the light of Belghast's thoughts on the imminent arrival of Amazon Games big new thing/hail mary pass/nine day wonder (delete as applicable), along with the comments of a couple of people in the thread there, an earlier post by Syp about his launch plans and an apparently unrelated post by Tipa at Chasing Dings, which I read this morning.

Firstly, I'm weirdly unexcited by, even detached from this indisputibly major launch, even though there are plenty of reasons I should be super-keen. It's by far the biggest new AAA mmorpg to come along in years. I was in the first alpha, what, three years ago now and loved it. I pre-ordered at the earliest opportunity in 2019. Even though the game has changed almost out of recognition since then, I thoroughly enjoyed the two later betas, last summer and this spring. There's no doubt I want to play New World. I'm just not very excited about it.

I think it's something similar to the Valheim situation and, looking further back, Project Gorgon. I've already expended all the energy on getting excited about these games that I have to spare. They aren't "new" games any more, even though none of them has in fact launched yet. They're games that were "new" six months, three years, five years ago but they're still acting as though they just arrived and it doesn't quite feel real, somehow.

New World is in the better position in that it never had any kind of early access or non-wipe open beta phase. It is a proper launch following a series of proper alphas and betas as we would have understood the process ten or fifteen years ago. And yet it still feels like New World has been around a longish time because that's how we've been trained to feel about these things now.

What I really want, I realized recently, is for New World to have launched, to be running, to have become just another live game, one I can dip in and out of when the fancy takes me. I don't want to invest any special emotional effort or project any particular wishes or hopes onto it. I just want it to be there.

Think we should roll on Sitara? Yeah, maybe not.
I was considering the choice of servers, all 177 of them. It's really not that many to choose from, of course. Clearly I won't be playing on the Australian or South American ones, so that takes it down to 140. I try to avoid playing on EU servers where possible, which knocks out another sixty-four and given a choice of US locations I'd always go East Coast, meaning I really only have to choose from fifty or so names. 

Still a lot. I need to look at that website Bel linked that warns where the streamers are going, then pick somewhere else. I like a low-pop server if I can find one. I quite like the sound of Frislandia but my favorite would be Morrow, which makes me think of the great Gray Morrow.

I was interested to see that Bel had cancelled his Amazon pre-order in favor of buying the game directly through Steam. I wonder if that makes a difference since Amazon are apparently going to email Steam keys as the standard means of access anyway. I guess it depends a) how much you trust Amazon to send things out promptly and b) whether you care how soon you can get online.

As to a) I have had nothing but exemplary service from Amazon for a decade and a half but also as to b) on this particular occasion I'd be fine with getting my key a few hours or even a few days late. I'm not crazy keen to begin  with and even if I was, avoiding the initial feeding frenzy would probably be in my best interests. Letting the hordes move through the first couple of starter areas and then follow along at leisure seems like a good plan.

What I'd really like would be an option to buy a physical box and wait for it to drop through my letter box next week. As I mentioned in a comment to Tipa on the post linked above, I have a DVD case for Guild Wars 2's  Heart of Thorns sitting on a shelf in the bookcase to my right, even though the expansion was only ever available in digital form.

All the case contains is a piece of paper with a code on it. I could have gotten that code added directly to my account by clicking a box online but I chose to pre-order it from Amazon just to get that empty case. I would do that for all the games I'm actively interested in if I had the choice because I like to see the cases displayed in my room so I can handle them occasionally and feel some kind of tactile, physical connection.

As far as I can remember, Heart of Thorns was the last time I was able to do any of that. I was reading the other day how Gen Z buy more vinyl than Millennials. I think the death of physical media may have been overstated. Were not posthuman quite yet. We might have to wait for the singularity before people stop feeling the need to nest.

Conversely, and flipping round to touch Twitter if only tangentially, I do appreciate the speed and range of digital communication. Time was I'd have to wait 'til Thursday to get my fix of music news. These days I get it the same day, possibly the same hour, the journalists do.


I recently subscribed to (by which I mean added to Feedly, not payed money for) two additional music sources. I was getting the feeling Pitchfork was missing stuff here and there so I added Stereogum and my teenage mentor, NME.

What I didn't realize was that the 21st century digital NME is hard into gaming, too. I am now getting more gaming news from there than most of my gaming bookmarks. It's very odd but also very welcome, not least because the news items are short, concise and gloriously free of snark. 

Since NME used to be the very fountainhead of snark and also pretension that's a big reminder to me of how the world's changed. I do like me some snark and I live for pretension but it's nice to have the facts plain, no chaser, once in a while. 

Having all three sources in my feed might be a little too much, though. Some days I can't get though them all before a whole stack more have arrived. I mostly just scan the headlines. They tell me all I want to know about most things and give me that heady, fake feeling of not being out of touch with the world. The bits that matter, anyway.

I most likely will keep all of them. Naturally a lot of the news duplicates but you can never be sure which will focus on what. Pitchfork, for example, even though they don't carry a lot of gaming news, was the first to tell me Japanese Breakfast did the full soundtrack to Sable.

I wrote about Sable a while back and I've had it in my Steam wishlist ever since. Today, the same day I got the New World pre-order warning, I also got this (on the right) from Steam.

So there's another game I'm not going to buy. I want to play it but do I want to pay  twenty pounds for the chance? Probably not. Not because I don't think it's worth that much but because I don't need a new game right this moment. Too much going on already. 

Knowing the soundtrack is by someone I'd buy an album by and also knowing what a good game (I loved the demo) makes me considerably more likely to buy it eventually. It's like buying a game and album all in one. Bargain! And an even bigger bargain when it goes on sale.

I guess I am turning into one of those people who waits for things to go on Steam sale before they buy. Is that personal growth or just my standards slipping? Hard to say. 

So far this year, though, five of my wishlisted games have become available and I haven't bought one of them. And yet I'm going through with my pre-order of New World despite my aforementioned apathy.

This is why companies do pre-orders, you know. Lock in the excitement before it fades then trust to a combination of laziness, lack of attention and an uncomfortable sense of commitment to carry those sales through to the end.

It works, too.


  1. Log on to Twitter and make your account public so we can DRAW YOU IN....

  2. I enjoy Twitter. It helps me focus my thoughts and be succinct about what I want to say. While that has its downsides, I can easily get off track and lose my train of thought when I'm making a free-form comment or reply. (I also curate who I follow carefully and am quite willing to mute or not follow back folks who are annoying.)

    I'm 'meh' about New World. I want to see if it has a big player base in a month, in 3 months. There's been so many MMOs that people have been super excited about launching only to crash and burn that I just can't get enthusiastic about another one. I hope it does well enough for those that enjoy it. I just wonder if the era of the big MMO launch where the MMO has serious staying power and popularity is behind us?

    1. I think the high-profile failures tend to obscure the successes, of which there have been plenty. I guess it depends what your bar is for "success", though. I wonder if there isn't still an "if it isn't as big as WoW it doesn't count" mentality even after all these years.

      New World, though, is the biggest AAA mmorpg launch form a Western publisher for really quite a long time. I'd have to look it up, given my terrible memory, but ESO feels like the last one before this. Also, oddly, the most similar. If NW does as well as ESO I would certainly call it a success.

    2. Depends, can we count Crowfall as a big MMO launch? It was certainly one of the great white hopes of Western MMO gaming at one point, although it then languished far too long in development and seems to have gone horribly quiet post-launch.

      And I'd agree, if New World ends up with the sort of following ESO (or Guild Wars 2) have then I'd say it's a success. Unlikely to eat WoW and FFXIV's lunch, but quite capable of snatching some morsels off their mixed starter platter.

    3. I would have said Crowfall was only ever an AA game, not AAA. And now it's out I'd say it's failed to prove itself even at that level. It's not going to be another Albion Online let alone another ESO.

    4. There's definitely some truth in the "compared to Wow" mentality, at for me. At least, compared to Wow-as-it-was. I hope to see an MMO that draws in a big crowd, especially a crowd of folks who've never played an MMO before. Having an infusion of fresh faces (and keeping them!) is good for the genre. We could use a breakout hit that reaches outside the current player base. As it is, it often feels like there is this population who takes an 'MMO vacation' in each new MMO as it comes out for a month or so and then heads back to their home MMO, leaving a mess in the vacation areas.

      I think I need more coffee this morning. Being a skeptic, if not out-right cynic is a bit much first thing. :)

  3. These days, at least for gaming news, I think Massively OP is the fountainhead of snark - or at least their WoW coverage has been even before the current unpleasantness blew up. Not sure where to go for the pretension - actually, the comments section on Massively OP tends to have that covered too.

    1. Heh! My problem with MOP is that the snark is hilarious when it's about some game or company I don't like or respect but intensely irritating when it's aimed at something I care about. It's also relentless. Some light and shade would be nice.

      In terms of web journalism in general, unlike the glory days of print journalism in Smash Hits or Crash, there's too often very little warmth behind the jibes. The need to grab attention fast is all too apparent whereas the much slower pace of the physical production and distribution process put that focus much further back.

      Without affection behind the snark it can get hard to take, especially in such industrial quantity. I don't remember the old Massively being quite as vicious as MOP is now, probably because of how it was funded, but that might just be my memory adding a mellow filter.

  4. Good-natured snark can be a sign of affection. The MOP variety - it's bundled in with a lot of one-sided reporting, editorialising, confusing personal opinion with incontrovertible fact, viewing with alarm and imputing of the worst possible motives, and is anything but affectionate.

    Massively-as-was definitely wasn't as bad. I suspect it's partly down to playing to their gallery of active commenters, many of whom have a distinct "it's hip to be cynical" attitude, and partly an editorial decision to give some of their columnists free reign to indulge their personal vendettas and crusades. Also, they're a written word site trying to compete for attention with YouTubers and streamers howling spittle-flecked outrage into their microphones.

  5. First the EQ mobile clickbait, now this... I don't know how you feel about your current experiment with titles, but I'm loving these. I mean, I'll read your posts regardless of title, but stuff like this feels like a little extra treat.

    On the subject of Twitter, I just wanted to mention that you can simply change the name on your current account, you wouldn't have to make a new one.

    1. I'm in that liberated phase with the titles, where it feels like I've just been released from house arrest or school just finished. I imagine it'll calm down soon enough.

      It's kind of strange you can change your name on Twitter (Nimgimli explaisn just how to do it below). You'd think maintaining a consistent identity would be important to Twitter. I guess they still know who everyone is, though.

      Also, if Twitter is the platform and tweets are the content, what are the users called? Twitterers? Tweeters? Can't say I've ever heard a term used at all.

    2. We are all proud Twits, of course.

  6. I have no idea what you would -make- of my Twitter (I mostly post FFXIV pictures or whatever I'm playing nowadays and retweet the furries around me) but I would probably follow you there.

    1. Thanks! The whole posting pictures thing is enticing. I occasionally think about doing something along those lines. Now I have more time to spare maybe I'll actually do something about it.

  7. RE: Twitter. You can change where you have a variant of your real name. Just go to and change the name to Bhagpuss and you're golden as far as that goes.

    It's really weird that you didn't have to log in. Every time I clear my browser cache/cookies I need to log in fresh.

    If I didn't have twitter I'd never "talk" to anyone other than 2 co-workers who IM me about work stuff. It's my only conduit to other carbon-based life.

    1. I thought it was very odd. I do click on links to tweets and I visit Twitter occasionally in the way I visit any website, to look stuff up, but I haven't "logged in" for years. I actually couldn't find my log-in details when I looked for them the other day. I bet it's some Gogle thing. Google does its best to keep you lgoged in everywhere if you don't stay on top of it.

      Thanks for the tip on name-changing. I will definitely do that.


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