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Archive for January, 2011

“People I Hate in WoW” or “People I Love in WoW”

January 29, 2011 3 comments

The first screenshot is of an alliance player who joined the instance for one item off of the first boss, and then left without warning.

The second screenshot is of a horde player helping me in the most unlikely manner. His gestures helped figure out the quest’s gimmick.

You can figure out for yourself who I hate and who I love.

“Tore Telara a New Rift” or “Superheroes Squabble” or “Battlestar Galactica: In-browser”

January 28, 2011 4 comments

RIFT

The new Rift trailer kicks a lot of (rift) ass. The battle between the Ascendants comes full circle, birds get caught on fire, and it is revealed that if you have giant tusks, you can kick some serious ass! Seriously though, it is the most ambitious trailer for Rift to date and although my work schedule not permitted me to play at all, I was really glad to hear they were expanding the beta window to Saturday. That implies I can squeeze in a few hours and hopefully get a good idea of what Rift is all about. I will have a full write-up over the weekend, as soon as I figure out whether the NDA is in effect because there seems to be conflicting information on this. (Perhaps you can answer this one Scott?)

Let me also say that I was very pleasantly surprised that a representative from Trion Worlds actually responded to my ill-advised gripe about installation and launch problems I had with Rift. Not only that, he actually offered to help and look into the matter. I don’t quite know what I like / dislike about Rift just yet, but I have to say, they’ve got mad customer service skills yo!

Watch the new trailer embedded below:

Superheroes Squabble

DCUO launched mid-January. The game seems to be doing fairly well, considering new servers are being added to the game days into the launch. Champions Online also went F2P, and I don’t think anyone has any confusions about their decision to announce a launch date right around the launch of DCUO. I am going to try my hands at Champions Online again. I have had my reservations with the game, but it has been out nearly a year and a half now, and I am hoping most of the bugs have been filtered out by now. And if Patrick’s post is any indication, the launch went a lot smoother than the disaster we faced on the original launch day back in September 2009. The option to play F2P is also quite welcoming, despite the fact that Massively.com doesn’t think the locked archetypes are a true representation of what the game may have to offer. If you want to know anything and everything about the revamped title, you can read Massively’s write-up here.

Will I try DCUO? Not yet. I’ll give it a few more months. The initial response is, admittedly, enticing. But I don’t want to get burnt again by spending my heard-earned doubloons on a sub-par game because I got sold on the hype.

Battlestar Galactica: In-browser

While we are on the subject of trailers, the folks over at Big Point have released an in-game trailer, crafted from 100% in-game footage, and now with more Vitamin C! I have to admit, despite my initial reservations about a Farmville-esque botched attempt at re-creating the fantastic universe, I am a little surprised at how detailed, graphically rich, and accurate an in-browser game can look these days. Am I confused? Did they decide to go with a full-blown 3D engine and I missed that memo? Or are those graphics a little ridiculous for an in-browser game?

I haven’t yet, but I will sure as hell sign-up for the beta now! Take a look:

“Gaming Updates” or “Fable 3, WoW: Cataclysm and RIFT Beta”

January 26, 2011 9 comments

Fable III

I can’t play this title any more. I have had a blast playing Molyneux’s latest title, but to a point.

Relationship Quests: I discovered that nearly every NPC in the game had a unique name (though not a unique personality) and several factors determined whether they loved or despised me. This revelation led to figuring out how every single NPC had quests for you, provided you improve your relationship level with them. This was exciting, but also incredibly anal, time-consuming and repetitive. I think it is a great idea, and it breathes new life into the concept of a living, breathing world, but the repetitive nature greatly detracts from the concept. After a few relationship quests, I was just tired of the whole thing, especially after having the dog dig through the 16th random dig site for a small piece of who-gives-a-shit-anymore.

Weapon Leveling: Halfway through the game I found how the weapon upgrade system worked. I was excited. I picked up Briar’s_Blaster, and went about finishing the three objectives required for improving the weapon (earn 10,000 gold from jobs, kill 150 men, complete 30 quests). When the gun wad finally fully upgraded, I realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do next, or where in the storylines had I misplaced myself. Mind you, this wasn’t a “that was so awesome, I completely forgot about the story” moment. This was more of a “all that work for a lousy +12 damage, and now I don’t even know where I was” moment.

Collection Mini-game: Of course the icing on the cake was the collection mini-games. You had to find and shoot 50 gnomes scattered all over the world, in addition to silver keys, the highly elusive gold keys and corresponding chests. Then there were the Demon Doors with their own criteria, as well as rare flowers, and all those damn books. Having collected nearly 70% in each category stated above, I realized I had been spending all of my in-game time collecting these items and getting aggravated when I couldn’t locate something in a particular area, instead of pursuing the ultimate goal: having fun!

I love Fable 3, and I have had a blast with what I have done so far. It will remain as one of the very few games that I actually enjoyed to a point, but never actually finished, thus going against my completionist nature. But I am done with it, now and forever, and I am OK with that.

WoW

Cataclysm has been a blast so far. There are a million things to do, and with all the changes to the game, I continue to find new things in the UI that I had not seen or experienced before. Juet yesterday I realized that you could see a ton of information about guildies via the drop down menu button in the top right corner of the guild management window. Who knew?! You did? Well then, go have a cookie.

Professions: My cooking is at 525, but that wasn’t difficult to do because I can fish for hours on end when I am catching up on my weekly shows. The caught fish simultaneously raised my fishing to 525, and cooking it took my cooking to 525 as well. I tried my hands at Archeology, but after getting the raptor mount try as I might, I just cannot bring myself to do it any more. It is just… exhausting. I dropped Alchemy as a profession halfway through Wrath of the Lich King, and picked up Blasksmithing. It is now stuck somewhere in the mid-hundreds, and feeling utterly neglected. I should probably do something about that. My enchanting is now finally at 500, and although that is a ways to go yet, I am sure I will get there by the week’s end.

Auction House Master: I am back to playing the auction house. I have been back at WoW for merely two weeks and have already added closed to 50K to my coffers. You might think that is exceptional, but it really isn’t. I don;t normally bag that much gold in such a short amount of time. The prices for reagents and goods in Cataclysm have, let’s just say, skyrocketed past the Cathedral’s steeples in Stormwind. Just the other day I saw Maelstrom Crystals go from 1K a pop to 7K a pop (thanks to the alchemy nerf!). I also discovered the joy of a wonderful new mod called Trade Skill Master. It is too complex to explain here, suffice it to say it is bloody brilliant, and you should look into it on Curse or WoWInterface.

End-game Content: Uh, I haven’t done any yet. Honestly I haven’t even completed all the normal instances, let alone the heroic ones. Part of the reason is because I have only so many gaming hours in a day. But part of it is because, well, I am scared. Everyone in Cataclysm keeps talking about how hard dungeons are in Cataclysm. Hell Ghostcrawler himself admitted that dungeons were hard, yo. I keep meaning to try heroics, but my timings are so much different from everyone else in my core group of WoW friends that it rarely, if ever, works out. My goal is to complete every dungeon on normal, and every dungeon on heroic by this week’s end. Next week I will will start working on Glory of the Cataclysmic Hero.

RIFT

So I finally got in the beta. Sort of. It took two days to download because the download rates, despite a kickass connection, were abysmal. When the game finally downloaded, patched, updated (rinse repeat the last two a few times), it wouldn’t launch. It kept givingme some error about how servers were not available. When the game finally launched, I kept crashing at the character creation loading screen.

This morning, when I was finally able to re-create a Guardian Dwarf Warrior and enter the game, the game crashed again. Too disgusted to try again, I shut it down and punched a kitten in the face. I made up the last part, but I was a little too frustrated to try it again for a while. I know this is the beta, and there will be some inherent issues, and I should be more understanding. I will be eventually. Just not now, after struggling with the game for two straight days.

“Jack Bauden” or “The Earthinator”

January 25, 2011 1 comment

Wow is full of pop-culture references. I remember in vanilla WoW when I accidentally figured out who Muigin and Larion in Un’Goro crater were referring to. Cataclysm added a metric ton of new references to this list, and took the reference game to a whole new level. Although there were many memorable moments leveling from 80-85, to moments in particular stand out.

The first was a quest in Stormwind where Matthias Shaw, leader of the SI:7 asks you to locate and liberate one missing Jack Bauden. Now as a die-hard fan of 24, the moment I received this quest, I knew it was a reference to 24. Lo and behold, when I finally find Bauden, this is what he says to me: “I am SI:7 Agent Jack Bauden. This is the longest day of my life.”

Click to enlarge

 

I used to love Strong Bad at one point (still do!) I can’t remember the last time I saw it, but I have very fond memories of the Poopsmith and Strong Mad. One character particularly sticks out in memory, and that was TROGGDORRRR THE BURRRNNINATORRRR! So when I came across this NPC in Deepholm, I nearly feel off my chair laughing. Well done Blizzard! Well done indeed!

Click to enlarge

 

“Postcards from Azeroth” or “The (New) Adventures of Bronte”

January 25, 2011 2 comments

“Se7en Favorite Gaming Moments in 2010″ or “Yes I Know This Post is Late, Shut Up!”

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Note: I know this post is very late, but hey, I started putting it together about two weeks back and constantly got sidetracked. The following are some gaming moments in 2010 that had me sit back and just marvel at the developers for putting together such incredible set-pieces.

Mass Effect 2 – The Ending Sequence

Despite a lackluster final-boss (what the hell was that all about anyway?), the ending of Mass Effect 2 was one of the greatest moments crafted in any game ever made. Granted the final cut-scene had zero input from the player, but you could see all of your actions over the course of the game reflected in that sequence. The fate of your teammates, crew-mates, and even your own survival would be revealed in a cut-scene that was crafted out of the very choices you made throughout the game. The final cacophony that leads to Shepard’s breathtaking leap of faith was the icing on the cake. Topped with a stellar musical score and superb dialogue, the ending of Mass Effect 2 continues to live on in memory as one of the most powerful video game endings in history. I had goosebumps!

World of Warcraft – Killing the Lich King

Nearly eight years in the making, the final blow to the Lich King was a triumphant moment in 2010. Even since his betrayal at Stratholme, and subsequent departure from humanity, every Warcraft fan prayed for the day when we would stand toe-to-toe with the arch-villain and sink in his fine-honed blades. Now I didn’t get to experience the moment on my main character, and I wasn’t there for the three week struggle against the fight that led to the eventual kill, but the moment was nevertheless cathartic. We had killed Arthas, and all was right with the world.

Little did we know…

StarCraft II – Fight To The Death

StarCraft II had very intelligent missions. I don’t think I have ever played a pure RTS where I never felt like I was playing an RTS. Allow me to explain. StarCraft II, for all intents and purposes, is a true RTS. You collect resources. You build a base. You pump units. You annihilate the other side. However, despite the fact that you do this in nearly all missions, each mission felt different and played out in a distinctly different tone. In each mission there is some gimmick or some additional obstacle that you must overcome to advance, and the RTS underpinnings are silently turning in the background, almost as if you aren’t even playing an RTS. When the truth of the matter is that you are playing an RTS all along! Do you see? Oh forget it! One of the most memorable moments in 2010 was a Protoss mission.

SPOILER START.

This is the final Protoss mission, a vision of the near-future where all intelligent life in the universe is being systematically annihilated. The Protoss make their last stand, with the Zerg pouring into a massive base from all directions. Your job as a player however, is not to win. Your job is to lose. You need to hold out the assault for some time, but eventually it will overwhelm you no matter how you do it, and then you need to fight till the last Protoss is alive, including the most iconic figureheads of the enigmatic race. The winning condition, you see, is to fight till the last Protoss and this eventually lose the base. That is awesome. I had a blast in that mission, and I had adrenaline pumping through my veins as I tried strenuously, albeit foolhardily, to stand my ground. Well done Blizzard, well done indeed!

SPOILER END.

Red Dead Redemption – Rescue my Wife

Red Dead Redemption was a jewel in the gaming line-up of 2010.

I am riding on my horse down the dirt-path carved into the terrain by frequent travelers. I am minding my own business, on my way to meet a new contact who goes by the name of Irish. I am contemplating if I should just fast-travel to the location; in retrospect, I am glad I didn’t exercise that option. You’ll see why in just a second. Suddenly, I hear someone in the distance say:

“Please sir, would you help me? They’ve taken my wife!”

I pause, wondering if this was a mission marker that I missed on my map. The rider who has sought my help turns up as a blue circle on my mini-map. As I contemplate my response to this stranger’s query, he simply takes off in one direction, eager to get to his wife. As the blue circle grows distant, I get a message on my screen suggesting I follow the rider. I think a second longer and decide to follow the poor guy, and see what this random encounter has in store for me.

The man rides at top speed down bushy knolls and grass highlands for a little bit, and then he stops short of a posse of hooligans. His wife sits atop a horse, with a noose around her neck. Before I can even so much as gauge the situation, a firefight breaks out. I take out my trusty Winchester Repeater, and over the next few seconds, gun down the three perpetrators.

Then I realize I was too slow. They have already killed the husband, who lays crumpled next to his dead horse. I look over at the wife. The shooting has scared off the horse atop which she sat, and she is hanging from the tree branch. I panic. I run over to her increasingly limp body, but even as I am closing the distance I get a message on-screen that says matter-of-factly: “The victim has died.”

I am utterly devastated. Had I been a few seconds faster, both in the decision to follow the man and in the shootout, I could have saved their lives. I know they are digital beings in an artificial world, but the sense of loss is still palpable.

I came across this encounter a second and then a third time. The second time I ignored it altogether, because it was late and I just wanted to finish one last story mission before calling it a night. The third time I immediately followed the man, this time to a different location, with the kidnappers using a cart as cover, and the wife already hanging. I managed to save the husband, but the wife perished. The husband collapsed at the hanging, limp body of his wife and wailed.

A few things to remember:

  • The mission was completely optional
  • If you chose to take on the quest, you simply followed the husband, there was no mission log to keep track of the mission, and no prompt saying that you were now on this mission. In fact, you could abandon course at any point and just go your way if you so chose.
  • There were multiple outcomes: you could save both husband and wife; you could save just the wife; you could save just the husband
  • In any of the scenarios above, you weren’t penalized for failing (unless you take into account being emotionally penalized); if you failed, that family was dead, you were responsible for it, and there was nothing you could do to change that

A living breathing world indeed.

Lord of the Rings Online – The Joy of Deeds

In 2010, I also returned to LOTRO, after a brief stint with the original beta and a briefer stint with the live game. The game seems to be much more streamlined and the option to play for free is extremely tempting. After finishing the starter area for elves, I was questing near a lake when something popped up on my screen: “New Deed Unlocked”, it said. I was confused. Since I had not played the game in so long, I had no idea what they were talking about. When I looked it up, I realized how that tied into Turbine Points, and how much I actually enjoyed the idea of pursuing deeds to not only earn rewards, but also Turbine points for the store. As I have mentioned on a few occasions, I have a penchant for completing every last objective, title, achievement and knick-knack a game throws my way, so the discovery of deeds was a very joyous moment for me.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – My First Kill Streak


The third major installment in the series featured several improvements over the previous iteration, the most significant of which was offensive combat. Instead of sitting there with the block button pressed, you could actually attack offensively at will, and killing an opponent allowed you to unlock chain-killing enemies in rapid succession. When I first came across this ability, I couldn’t figure it out. The in-game prompt, and even websites where other people had posted their frustrations with the mechanic, suggested that I press LS to kill the next victim. I took me a whole week to realize that “press L2″ does not equal “press L2 down”. You simply had to swivel the stick in direction of the opponent you wanted take out next, preferably close by, and then execute. The first time I accidentally figured this out was during a rescue mission where you engage a large army of guards to buy Catarina Sforza some time to get away. That first kill streak was orgasmic, because once I figured it out, I took out over 30 guards in a series of quick, fluid and outright sexy maneuvers without having to play defensively.

Alan Wake – The First Miniboss

Alan Wake was not on my top list for games in 2010, mostly because the game became too formulaic with its gimmicks after the first hour or two. That being said, it had some truly eerie and at times downright creepy moments. One of these moments was the final ‘boss fight’ at the end of Chapter One. This was the being that zipped around at a frightening speed, only to stop a mere few feet from you, when your eyes haven’t even adjusted to the sudden change in momentum, and attack! That was a terrifying encounter, and set the mood for several of the following hours of gameplay. Aside from Dead Space, that is the only game to date that truly shivers me timbers!

That’s my list, what were your favorite gaming moments in 2010?

Se7en Tidbits: “Words of Advice” or “Actually It’s 9ine Tidbits”

January 18, 2011 2 comments

You don’t need to be over a hundred years old to be able to pass on words of wisdom. Advice comes in all forms, and it exists all around us. We just have to look in the right places, and if we’re lucky, sometimes good advice at the right time can make all the difference.

  • Frank explains the importance of having many opinions online. But then again he likes cat brides, so take his advice at your own risk! [Overly Positive]
Categories: Se7en Tidbits

“Basic Raiding Tactics” or “The Simplicity of WoW Raiding”

January 17, 2011 1 comment

Via, MMO-Champion. I thought this was pretty well put together!

Click to enlarge.

Categories: Raiding/Instancing

“Hey Syp!” or “Syp, Lookie Here!”

January 17, 2011 21 comments

Hello S-to-the-yp. So I have been posting comments on your blog, but lately they have stopped showing up. I think I might be caught in your spam filter. Could you look into that for me pretty please?

P.S. while we’re at it, I seem to be having the same problem with:

P.P.S. it seems the problem lies with ALL WordPress blogs. No other platforms have plugged me as a spammer.

Categories: Bronte

Thought of the Day: “Delayed Boss Battles” or “Rift Lovers Pay Attention”

January 14, 2011 3 comments

RIFT has rifts; cool idea, seemingly impressive execution: elementals will pour on from dynamically generated rifts and destroy anything they can find in their path.

Here is a thought. What if:

  1. The elite units coming out of these portals got increasingly powerful the longer they went unchecked
  2. The longer you wait to take the elites down (thus allowing them to become more powerful and tougher to take down), the better rewards you get
  3. (optional) If they are separated from the elemental plane for too long, they eventually begin to lose their power (so we don’t get infinitely powerful enemies)

The point being what if the player base was in a competition to see who would let the Rift survive the longest to reap better rewards, instead of bum-rushing the elementals every time there was a rift opening up in an area?

Categories: Rift, Thought of the Day

“Trifecta of Tribulations” or “Healers Ain’t Gods”

January 13, 2011 5 comments

“I think the novelty has worn off, and I’ve started encountering the usual array of wankers, pillocks, idiots and dickbags.”

Tamarind summarizes Cataclysm pugs, that’s the spirit, Righteous Orbs

Sounds about right.

My first pug was all polite and “Hey did you try out this new thing in Cataclysm?! It’s awesome!” and “Don’t worry, everyone is new at this!”

The second pug, a mere week later, first blamed the healer (that’d be me); I got pissed and broke out Recount which resulted in the tank being exposed as an oblivious baboon; who then called out the lackluster DPS, and said if the healer was good enough, nothing else matters; and ragequit after the next wipe.

Why did I come back to this?

Categories: Bronte, Pugs, Quote of the Day

“I’m an Idiot” or “Expanding the Blogroll”

January 12, 2011 1 comment

Being the idiot that I am, I realized today that I have added quite a few blogs to my reader, but never actually got artound to adding them to my website blogroll. My apologies for that! If you have a blog that I have commented on, or one that has my website on it and would like me to reciprocate, or just have a blog that you think I should read, please do let me know in the comments below. The following are some of the blogs that I read on a near-daily basis:

Categories: Bronte

“Why I Hate Not Being in Rift Beta” or “So Many MMOs, So Little Time”

January 12, 2011 4 comments

Unlike some other folks, I am not happy that I didn’t get into the Rift beta. It also doesn’t help that everyone and their mother is in it!

While I agree with Syp in that betas really tend to ruin (or at the very least dilute) launch day experiences (I am going through that with Cataclysm at the moment – everything is new, except I experienced it all in beta four months ago), I am increasingly aware of how little time I have on my hands these days. I have a blooming career, I got engaged recently, and I am writing for both this blog and a local magazine. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

So keeping that in mind, it would be very beneficial to be able to experience betas of an upcoming MMO, both because I am very good at providing constructive feedback, and because it will clarify for me whether of not I want to invest in the title when the final (hopefully polished) title launches. And this applies to every beta out there, not just Rift.

Which side of the fence do you lean on? Would you rather get in the beta? Or avoid it for the launch day experience altogether?

Categories: Beta, Rift

Weekly MMO Crockpot: “APB, RIFT, WoW” or “LOTRO, GW2, and a Very Secret World”

January 11, 2011 6 comments

Every once in a while I accumulate too many things in my reader that I want to talk about, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Most often I just end up deleting those things after a week or so, and other times, I just mash them together in a crockpot and put up this post. Now granted this isn’t a weekly segment by any definition, but it helps me square away a plethora of information that I think is important enough to share.

APB Closed Beta Information

APB was a great, ambitious project gone horribly awry. Mere months after launch it was shut down due to a wide range of issues and acquired by GamersFirst. The game will now ship as an F2P MMO titled APB Reloaded. A twitter post last week claimed that closed beta could begin as early as February. You can sign up here. I avoided this title because of… well… I suppose you could call it intuition, or sixth sense. Some prefer to call it lessons learned from open beta! I played the game for a few level pre-launch, and I knew right there and then that it needed some serious re-tweaking. Milamber tried it, I don’t think he’s too happy about the eventual outcome. That’s a good amount of money down Realtime Worlds’ bankrupt gullet!

CEO Bjorn Book-Larsson, in his latest blog post claims that nearly 20,000 people have signed up for the beta, and they expect to leverage the input from 6,000 to 8,000 players during the first round. Bad news for fans/players of the original title though: nothing will carry over from the original game, even if you had the highest level character. Sorry! Here’s to hoping the second time around will be met with boast-worthy success.

RIFT Launch Date and Design Principles

Rift will launch on March 1, 2011. WoW. I did not expect that. Given that they are just going through their closed betas, I honestly expected the game not to launch any point before the summer. I guess they are a lot more ready than I imagined. More accurately, they believe that they are a lot more ready than I imagined. So Rift hits in March. Will it be the next WoW-kil- oh forget it!

There are countless unwritten rules for creating an MMO world that successful designs in past games have impressed upon the entire industry. No monsters on the roads; never stop the player from questing or doing what he plans to do; group content should always be separate from solo content. While I will acknowledge that these sorts of rules of thumb are the guidelines that we designers live by, challenging them is where we have found a lot of success in RIFT.”

- Will Cook, Trion Worlds’ content designer for Rift (RIFT?), RIFT challenges unwritten rules of the genre in a new dev diary, Massively.com

1. We like it when you surprise us. We don’t it when you surprise us with something that we can’t even wrap our heads around.

2. Is it Rift or RIFT? And wasn’t it Planes of Telara at some point? Or Excalibur Tractor or something?

What the WoW?

In shocking news of the week (not really though), Cataclysm sold 4.7 million units in one month. That is ridiculous. But also curious. If WoW has 12 million players worldwide, does that mean 7.3 million people were simply not impressed enough by the game to actually buy the expansion? 60% of the alleged WoW base never actually bought the expansion. Is it me, or is that just a little strange?

Either way, nearly 5 million active WoW players in Cataclysm is impressive as hell, especially when you consider Cryptic was ecstatic over 200,000 players in Star Trek Online.

Second, as is the case with all systems in WoW, the Dungeon Finder tool was met with resounding success and was one of my favorite additions to the game. It seems Blizzard isn’t hanging up the old towel, and is at it again to further improve the dungeon finder tool.

“Groups could benefit if they knew they didn’t wipe because the healer didn’t manage mana well enough, but because the DPS wasn’t high enough, or boss adds weren’t properly rounded up, etc.”

- Zarhym, Dungeon queue should be performance-based

Now that is smart. Educating the player why their group failed will go a long way to alleviate the tensions in pugs. As someone who has played a Holy Paladin for over six years, I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I heard this. That is fantastic, let’s finalize that and put it on live servers ASAP!

Three Times the LOTRO

Turbine tripled their revenue by going with the Free-to-Play model in Lord of the Rings Online. You hear that Afrasiabi? *sigh*

Make Love, Not Guild Wars

10 years of Guild Wars have passed if you include the development of the title as well. The team has come a long way, and some of their most glorious and touching moments are highlighted in this short and sweet video that goes over the last 10 years.

The Secret World, as Forced Upon us by Ragnar Tornquist

I hate you Ragnar. Months of wait for some but of information My face lights up when I see the title mentioned in my feed reader. And what do I get? EA will be co-publishing The Secret World. That’s it. You suck Ragnar, you suck.

It does take one red flag though. EA has previously published The Sims Online, Motor City Online, Earth and Beyond and Hellgate: London. Do you know how many of those were successful? I’m nervous now.

Thought of the Day: “Is One Month Enough?” or “Another Argument for F2P”

January 10, 2011 2 comments

Two things have happened in the last few years of MMO gaming.

  1. All the (relatively) younger gamers, myself included, have grown up to pursue full-fledged, and thankfully meaningful careers. As such time is in short supply.The average MMO gamer is in the mid-to-late-twenties.
  2. MMOs have evolved with increasingly complex systems. Just look at the list of UI windows and keyboard shortcuts in LOTRO or WoW. With complexity comes a learning curve. With a learning curve comes an investment of time.

So here’s the thought: Is a single month of playtime really enough to get a good hang of what the game may be like? Or is it an anachronistic concept in this day and age?

Categories: F2P, Thought of the Day

“Looking Forward” or “2011 is a Good Year to be a Gamer”

January 10, 2011 2 comments

General

In general, 2011 is shaping up to be an amazing year for gamers, especially MMO players. The MMO industry is continuing to grow at an exponential rate and it seems every time to blink, a new MMO has popped up somewhere. 2011 will be no exception, with several well-hyped AAA titles shipping throughout the course of the year.

2011 is also exciting because F2P will continue to grow. With Turbine announcing that their revenues tripled once they decided to go F2P, it goes to show that high-end MMOs (excluding industry-giant World of Warcraft because let’s face it – that is a category in of itself) can make bank by relying on F2P models. I don’t know about you, but given the limited number of hours I have in a day, I don’t know if ‘first free month’ is an appropriate amount of time to adequately experience the title enough. F2P can solve that. If I don’t have the unnecessary pressure to play the game as much as I can in the first month, and given you have done the good job, yeah, I’ll engage n micro-transactions and play your title. 2011 should see several others switch to the F2P model, and that is music to my ears.

Most importantly, I am just glad to be back with and playing with my merry band of vagabonds that I have been playing with for the last several years. It makes the whole thing worth my while, irrespective of all other drawbacks or shortcomings.

MMO Titles

I’m Batman!

There will be a few superhero MMOs out this year. DC Universe Online will be launching in just a few days. I was initially quite excited about this title, but then Champions Online came around and ruined the whole sub-genre for me, and now I have my guard up. I think I will see how the player base reacts to this title before I invest in it. Speaking of Champions Online, the F2P version of the cel-shaded-superhero-simulator is also going to go live this year. Again, despite my issues with the title, and on a larger scale the studio, F2P is a very enticing option, and I was genuinely interested in coming to the game and trying it out for myself. That is until I came across this article from Massively.com, and now I am not so sure again. The archetypes seem a bit off, and being restricted to only so many options for so long doesn’t exactly float my boat. Being able to mix-and-match powers was one of the high points for Champions Online; I don’t understand why they wouldn’t let F2P players experience it fully. It was one of the few things they got right.

No one can hear you screaming in space

Eve Online has left a gaping hole in my heart. I love the game, and I have tried my hands at everything in-game from null-sec farming to high-stakes trading and even some pirating here and there. But the true heart of the game is high-end null-sec fleet PvP, and that is something I didn’t had neither the stomach nor the time for. Fortunately in 2011 a few space simulators will also be launching. The first of these is Jumpgate Evolution, a game I am personally quite excited about because of its rich premise and frankly because I was a diehard fan of the original game. The second is Black Prophecy, and although in all honesty I am not as well versed in all that BP has to offer, it sure sounds nifty.

Star Wars: The Old Debate

Of course no upcoming 2011 MMO list would be complete without the mention of everyone’s favorite (punching bag), Star Wars: The Old Republic. Cyberspace is abuzz with information and opinions about SW:TOR, and the hype generated by the fan-base, the developer and the critics is reaching deafening proportions. Not to mention that this is a colossal IP and nearly no venture in the long-running space opera ever comes close to the fans’ expectations. Hell, 1Up’s Kat Bailey says the title may already be too late. But you have to remember that the title is being developed by industry giant BioWare. Not only are they notorious for over-hyping a title and then miraculously meeting expectations, they have already produced two award-winning RPGs set in the Star Wars Universe: Knight of the Old Republic and its inevitable but equally good sequel. My thoughts: screw the critics, I can’t wait!

Villagers get the shaft

Two titles in 2011 promise to feature worlds that react and morph based on player action (or inaction for that matter.). Rift plans to accomplish this by, wait for it, rifts. Elemental invasions from another dimensions can pour into otherwise peaceful idyllic landscapes, altering terrain and wreaking havoc on the local population. In Guild Wars 2, the developers plan on doing this by introducing monsters that do what they intend. If you get a quest that says goblins may attack the village, and you chose to do nothing, barbaric hordes of goblins will flood the village and take out the local population, and the villagers get the shaft yet again. Rift already has a release date of March 1, 2011. I would be surprised if Guild Wars 2 was delayed past 2011.

The (Super) Secret World (Shhhh)

I have to admit, Ragnar Tornquist is one tight-lipped son-of-a-gun. To say that the morsels that comes out of The Secret World camp are tiny and infrequent would be kind saying “I’ve heard of three of four people who play WoW”. Jesus man, share some details already. We know the game has three factions. We know their names. We know the starting locations. We have solved all puzzles in the forums. We have watched the zombie CCTV footage four million times. It is time to give us something new. Please! No? Well screw you! I don’t want to play it anyway! No I was kidding, I didn’t mean it. I was upset and it just came out. I’m sorry, please come back!

Massively Multiplayer Stabby Stab Stab?

Assassin’s Creed Online? Say it is so!

Other Titles

In addition to MMOs there are so many titles out there that I am excited about in 2011. Here is a short list:

  • Brink
  • Bulletstorm
  • Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution
  • Diablo III
  • Dragon Age II
  • Gears of War 3
  • Homefront
  • I Am Alive
  • Lara Croft
  • Max Payne 3
  • Portal 2
  • Rage
  • StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • The Witcher II
Categories: Bronte

Funny of the Day: “Supa Troopas” or “Get Yo Game Face On!”

January 7, 2011 1 comment

Is it just me or do the troopas put on their game faces with comedic abruptness in the final panel?

Categories: Comic

Facepalm of the Day: “Chinese Aion Player Breaks World Record in…” or “…Wait What?!”

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

“A few days after Aion 2.0 launched the open beta in China, we got a player who reached level 56 while the level cap of Aion 2.0 is set on 55.”

Aion 2.0(CN) Player Reached Level 56 and Broke A WTF Record, MMO Site

Categories: Aion, Facepalm of the Day

“My First Quest in Cataclysm” or “Green > Purple”

January 5, 2011 4 comments

Yes I am back to WoW. I had to. When you play for five years with kids like these, you aren’t left with a lot of choice.

It took a lot longer to get back into the game than I expected. The UI restructuring alone took well over four hours, and you will see it in the screenshot below. I also had to redo my talents, which took a while because I decided to level as a Holy Paladin (shocking I know), learned the new talents, including the faster flying (I can now fly at 409% travel speed, factoring in Crusader Aura and 10% speed increase from guild talents), cleared out my inventory, learned the new mastery for all of my professions and picked up Archeology. I even did the cooking and fishing dailies.

I leveled extensively on my sea horse in Cataclysm, so in the interesting of a varied starting experience, I decided to go with Hyjal. My very first quest was “The Earth Rises”, the completion of which rewarded the Scalded Rockscale Shoulderpads. And I promptly replaced my epic shoulders from Wrath of the Lich King.

Now granted I didn’t raid much beyond half of Ulduar, but come on man, first quest, first green? *sigh*

Click to enlarge

“Personal Reflections 2010″ or “Gaming Reflections 2010″

January 5, 2011 5 comments

This post is late again, and the scheduled year-enders for January 3rd and 4th are combined, but I felt it was important that I take a look back, so here it is!

Personal Reflections

2010 was a very tumultuous year for me personally. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you will see in a moment. My point is that the year was a roller coaster ride, and I can’t recall many day when I felt at peace, or relaxed; something was always afoot.

  • This was also the only year for as long as I can remember that I didn’t take a vacation or even an extended break from work.
  • I have also been sick quite a few times this year, more often than years prior, which has me concerned about my personal health.
  • I also got engaged this year to one of the smartest women I have ever met in my life.
  • I switched jobs and got out from under the clutches of the most megalomaniac, egotistical, fiend of an employer imaginable.
  • I joined a new organization, and so far, despite the long hours and the hectic nature of the job, I am having a blast, and I couldn’t be happier.
  • The new job also doubled my salary down to the last penny, so that’s a nice added fringe benefit as well.
  • I also bought my first brand new car, and that gives you a feeling of accomplishment like none other I have experienced so far.

Gaming Reflections

You can see a list of my favorite games from 2010 here. 2010 was a stellar year for gaming, so many titles and so little time.

  • My blog went through some odd ups and downs. I started the blog in October 2009, but due to the draconian policies at my prior organization, I had to shut it down. I started it back up again in March 2010, under the impression that the situation had been amicably resolved. I stopped again in late July/early August because of further issues and joined a new company around the same time. I had to stay away from blogging to ensure my dues weren’t screwed with. In October 2010 the dues cleared, and I was merrily blogging again. So far so good.
  • Massively also named this blog as one of the blogs to watch in 2011. It is 2011. You are watching. Bravo!
  • I played a wide variety of MMOs, my favorite genre of gaming. I played Wrath of the Lich King, but eventually got jaded and left.
  • I played LOTRO, it has been streamlined and the starting experience, although still lacking, is better than what it used to be. It’s also F2P, so you can’t go wrong with that, and the F2P model has innate completionist elements which I thoroughly enjoy.
  • I also dabbled in Darkfall, and got my ass handed to me on multiple occasions. It is a tough as nails game, and not very forgiving.
  • I played Perpetuum for nearly a week or so, thanks to a free trial code, courtesy of River. It is Eve Online in spirit, and falls terrible short in execution. Couple that with their latest achievement, 15,000 months of sold game time, and you’ve got a very odd, very niche title that could swing either way.
  • World of Tanks was another. Man that game takes some getting used to, there seems to be a lot of … waiting.
  • Outside the MMO world I discovered a penchant (and skill) for driving games with Split/Second.
  • I tried my hand at Super Street Fighter IV because of the constant bickering of a few friends; realized that I absolutely sucked at the fighting genre, and quit promptly after.
  • There was Lara Croft, a disappointment at the end of the day, but some of the puzzles were genuinely entertaining.
  • Machinarium elevated the bar for flash-based puzzle games to an unprecedented level. If you haven’t tried this one yet, get into it now.
  • I played a ton of shooters in 2010: Medal of Honor, Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Metro 2033, to name a few.
  • As well as some solid RPGs (and hybrids), Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age (I know it released in 2009, but I finished it sometime in March 2010), and Mafia II (I know I included this in this category, not sure where else).
  • And then there was the jewel in my gaming for 2010: Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. Solid singleplayer campaign, solid multiplayer. Blizzard has one aspect of RTS gaming down: If it isn’t broken don’t fix it; and perfect what you have before you dabble outside of the comfort zone.

If I were to use just one word to describe 2010, it would be: Bananas. 2010 was Bananas. Hopefully 2011 will calm the fuck down, especially since I will be turning 30 this year. Sheesh!

Categories: Bronte
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