Archive for June 9, 2010

Facepalm of the Day: “Spongebob Squarepants Shenanigans” or “Syp and Dub Will Appreciate This”

June 9, 2010 1 comment

My sentiments exactly Spongebob!

MTV Networks Asia announces plans for an MMOG based on the animated SpongeBob SquarePants series, of all things.


Categories: Facepalm of the Day

Chronicles of Bronte III: “Cross of Vengeance” or “Bronte, Initiate”

June 9, 2010 3 comments

Being a guild leader is serious business. I don’t say that lightly. I led a guild for nearly three years in World of Warcraft, and micro-managed quite literally every aspect of the daily operations as needed. This series of posts is dedicated to the memories and experiences of those years and dedicated to the crew I had the privilege of playing the game with.

Leading any group of individuals is a difficult task, especially when they come from diverse, distinct backgrounds, cultures and ethnic identities. This task is made all the more difficult by the fact that these individuals are paying (Blizzard – not you) to be on your team, they aren’t salaried in the same vein as traditional employees. Further, none of them are in the same physical location; they are spread out far and wide across the world, especially if you are playing on a European server. Suffice it to say that being a guild leader is one of the toughest endeavors I have had to undertake. The following is a small chapter of that story.


Cross of Vengeance: A (Very) Brief Introduction

Cross of Vengeance in the beginning was a strange beast. There were about 25 or so active players, which by today’s standards seems like the perfect amount, even over-abundant by some. But back in vanilla WoW, when you could raid the currently 5-man Stratholme instance with 40 players, having 25 players in the guild was embarrassing for a guild leader. The optimal number of players you wanted to have on hand was between 48-52 hardcore, dedicated players. Only with these numbers you could ensure that you had a strong raid forming every night, and you were making progress in the endgame instances.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

When I joined Cross of Vengeance, we only had a few members that were active on a daily basis. One of them was Milamber, who you might have seen posting here quite frequently, one of the oldest and most resilient members of CoV. I have known the kid for nearly six years now, and seen him mature into a smart young college student who with a wacky sense of humor and an inherent ability to get his priorities right. But again, I am digressing.

The officer core included some odd individuals. There was Scoota, the guild leader, Human Holy Paladin extraordinaire, not to be confused with Scooter, our warrior tank. There was the Gnome Rogue Woe, strange little fellow with a dark, dreary sense of humor and a knack for stabbing things without provocation. I can’t recall the number of Molten Core raids where the first hit was scored by Woe instead of a tank pulling the mob and getting its threat under control. Then there was Dieter, Night Elf Rogue, a DPS-addict who shared Woe’s penchant for evisceration.

And finally there was Richard, Human Retribution Paladin in a day and age when the term “DPS Paladin” was frowned upon, and widely considered an oxymoron. Even with such opposition to the viability of said spec in raid environments, Richard was the only individual who had us single-handedly convinced about the usefulness of a Retribution Paladin. But that is not what made Richard stand out from the crowd. Richard stood out from the crowd because he had a southern drawl, and a sense of humor that could put the likes of Demetri Martin and Ron White to shame. The sheer number of times Richard was able to crack us up, or make us spit out whichever beverage we were chugging at the moment, or a combination of both, is staggering. Suffice it to say Richard was a very funny man, and I have come across few who could maintain that level of humor regardless of personal circumstance or in-game situation.

Richard was also a very enthusiastic PvP’er, and one of the very first few individuals who attained the Grandmaster rank on Bloodhoof server. Him and his crew were the stuff of legends in the battlegrounds, particularly in Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch. Richard and his crew of rag-tag PvP’ers could shut down well-organized PvP teams. I have personally observed a pre-made from the Horde side converge on the Blacksmith in AB, realize Richard is leading the assault, tuck tails and flee back to their spawn-point graveyard, and sit out the rest of the match in hopes of better (or should I say worse) opposition.

Back to CoV. Most players had not even hit the level 60 cap, and there was a lot of general confusion regarding which specs were optimal for which classes in end-game raiding. There were no organized instance-runs, or PvP endeavors, but thankfully, Scoota never made us sit around in a circle in Stormwind and made us talk about what made our nuts itch that week!

CoV, in essence, was in its embryonic form.

52, Going on 60

I was hesitant to ask for anyone’s help when leveling. The only individual I really asked was Isrx, and he always made it a point to help me out, regardless of what he was inundated with. I rode through Un’Goro, Silithus, Winterspring, and the Plaguelands, plowing my way through the content with a unique range of defensive and offensive abilities the Paladin class had to offer, dramatically (and in some cases artificially) increasing my survivability and allowing me the luxury of negligible graveyard runs.

Isrx and I made a good team. He was able to dole out a lot of damage through his spells and used his pet to tank several mobs. Together we were able to tackle some of the toughest challenges in Azeroth, taking on multiple packs of mobs, or burning through the pregnant health bars of elite boss creatures. It didn’t take long for me to get through the last eight levels. I still remember riding through the Eastern Plaguelands, and discovering The Noxious Glade, a small achievement that netted me a mere 400 or so experience, but that was just the amount of experience I needed to reach level 60. Yes, I dinged the level cap not undertaking some heroic task of world-threatening proportions, I dinged the level cap on horseback, completely by accident, as unceremoniously as you can make it.

Hitting level 80 opened up a Pandora’s Box of opportunities for me. One one hand I was able to start research on a popular WoW site at the time, (anyone still use that?), to see which quests would get me better gear to start tackling some of the instance content. On the other hand, all end-game instances were now ripe for the taking and I could try getting in a group to experience primitive raiding in WoW.

It wasn’t long after hitting level 60 that Scoota messaged me, congratulating me on my recent achievement and asking me if I would like to accompany all the big boys on the guild’s first UBRS run, since we now had ten level 60 players on at the time. I agreed, excusing myself just briefly to train up new skills from my trusty Paladin Trainer in Ironforge.

Our first raid in UBRS was a massive disaster. It took us over three hours. We were still unable to kill the last boss, General Drakkinsath, and two guild members quit after the raid was over. Strangely, it was also the same raid that pushed me into the spotlight in CoV, and started the inevitable chain of events that would one day lead me to take on the reigns of the guild myself.

Next Chapter:

Chronicles of Bronte IV: “Upper Black Rock Spire” or “Bronte, Party Leader ”.

“Shush in Vent” or “A Short Essay for Entry Into Cataclysm Beta”

June 9, 2010 2 comments

For Kevin:

<Shush in Vent> was created recently, but the history of the members can be traced back to vanilla WoW. We are a closely-knit social fraternity of mature, casual players, and we have played together for over five years. Over the course of time, we have gotten to know one another in real life as well. Our career in WoW has included achieving server firsts, attaining old-school Grandmaster PvP titles and leading the server in the opening of the Ahn’Qiraj gates. There have also been times when we lay dormant for months. But at the end of the day, we have always kept track of each other.

Since we have known one another for so long, there is a natural level of trust and camaraderie. We don’t have ‘ranks’ in our guild. Everyone has full access to officer chat and the guild bank, and everyone is considered and treated on equal footing. Of course we step up to the plate as needed, such as leading in an instance or coordinating a PvP raid, but we are effectively a cohesive, collective conscience, multi-faceted in backgrounds and united in purpose and direction.

We have played WoW since launch, and almost all of us have participated in WoW betas before. We know how the beta system works and how crucial player feedback is to the development process. We would be absolutely delighted experience the content in Cataclysm and provide profuse feedback as needed.

“PC Action Games on the Decline” or “PC RPG Games on the Rise”

June 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I have been a PC gamer for as long as I can remember. Actually that is a lie, because prior to getting my Commodore 64 (you’re still in my thoughts baby, *sniff*), I was developing carpal tunnel using the Atari Joystick. But beyond those days, I have always been, and I suspect always will be, a PC gamer. Sure I play games on the the Xbox, and very infrequently on the PlayStation as well, but for me, the PC will always be the ultimate gaming machine.

More recently I have been pained to see a few disturbing trends in the gaming industry. The first of these trends is the rise of PC game piracy across the world. Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek, in an interview to IGN in 2008, claimed that for every copy of a PC game sold, 15-20 were pirated. A recent report from the Entertainment Software Association said that over 9.78 million games were successfully downloaded illegally during the month of December 2009 alone (and I am willing to bet that a large chunk of this was pirated copies of Modern Warfare 2). This trend has led to a decline in interest from developers who cannot justify the development costs against poor sales since most of the product is going to get pirated around the world anyway.

The second trend, that of controversial DRM, is a symptom of the first, and has resulted in a fairly strong (and mostly justified) backlash from the gamer community. That in turn, will have the inevitable side-effect of further alienating developers from making PC Games, comments from Blizzard’s Frank Pearce notwithstanding. Another trend is the inexplicable need to delay the PC version of games that were simultaneously developed for all platforms. The console versions, Xbox 360 being especially guilty of this trend, seems to be given preference, with the PC counterpart getting released a few days to several weeks later.

This decline in developers’ interest to invest in PC games would have an inevitable effect in the number of titles produced each year, or at least that is what I believe. And while my theory holds true in some genres (action games for instance), it is completely invalidated by the rise of RPG gaming on PC rigs. Kotaku, saddling up for the rabid excitement that will inevitably surround the around-the-corner E3 event, has released two lists of games that they think will take the cake in two categories: Action and RPG.

The first list, titled E3 2010 Preview: These Are the Big Action Games, We Think, can be found here. The contents of this list can be summarized in numbers, by platform, as follows:

  • DS (I)
  • PC (IIII)
  • Wii (IIII)
  • PSP (II)
  • Xbox 360 (IIII.IIII.III)
  • XBLA (I)
  • PSN (I)

It should be immediatly apparent that PC games seem to be the neglected bastard child of this batch, with the Xbox 360 and PS3 seeing nearly three times the number of action games as the PC. Perhaps some of this interest in console action games can be attributed to the blockbuster success of titles like Modern Warfare 2, sales of which broke records for the console version, and were dismal at best for the PC version.

The second list, titled E3 2010 Preview: These Are the Big RPGs, We Think, can be found here. The contents of this list can be summarized in numbers by platform as follows:

  • DS (III)
  • Wii (I)
  • Xbox 360 (IIII.IIII)
  • PSP (II)

The pattern clearly falls apart here. The personal computer sees an unprecedented amount of upcoming RPG titles, many of which it shares in development with its console counterparts, but all in all, it is clearly in the lead (although admittedly by a tiny margin). This identifies one very important trend in the video gaming industry as it relates to the PC: RPGs are on the rise and will continue to dominate PC development in the next few years to come.

I for one, cant wait.