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Archive for November, 2010

Thought of the Day: “Wouldn’t it Have Been Easier” or “Gondria’s Gone”

November 11, 2010 2 comments

Wow Insider reports on Stormrage (US) server’s <Circle of Blame>. The guild found the ultra-rare spectral cat Gondria in Zul’Drak and in an effort to ensure its survivability, protected it against accidental killings and Alliance harassment. What is truly spectacular about this feat is that they did this for seven hours, finally kiting the kitty to Grizzly Hills for the guild hunter to log on and train the unique beast as a pet.

So here’s a thought. Couldn’t you have just trained the bastard on a hunter alt, and released when the other hunter logged on several hours later? Or am I missing something here?!

Categories: Thought of the Day

“Hardcore vs. Casual” or “Losing Ain’t Much Fun”

November 11, 2010 2 comments

Slightly out of context, but made me laugh out loud! Read the whole post, it’s a good take on what is Hardcore and what is Casual in Riv’s world.:

“I like to win. I don’t play Monopoly going, gee whiz I hope I lose, and just have fun!”

Chris Cavelle, Hardcore Mentality, with Casual Sensibility, A High Latency Life

Categories: Quote of the Day

MMO Crock-Pot: “$335,000 is a Small Price to Pay” or “‘Who You Gonna Call?’ ‘Authenticators!'”

November 10, 2010 1 comment

The MMO World is abuzz with a whole bunch of news.

Entropia Universe: $335,000 Sale of Virtual Items

Via Kotaku. It seems that every time this niche MMO makes the news, some rich guy has bought (or sold) hundreds of millions of dollars worth of virtual property. Jon Jacobs, the same guy who made headlines last year by purchasing a virtual space station for $300,000, has now broken that record by making a sale of his own.

Another player, John Foma Kalun, purchased $335,000 worth of cirtual property from Jon Jacobs in a single transaction. The virtual estate includes a mall, a stadium, a club and a number of bio domes.

World of Warcraft: Race Change on Launch Date

World of Warcraft will allow people to change races to Worgen or Goblins pretty much on launch date, which is kind of crazy. That means that the server-first worgen and goblin dings would not take a few weeks as players plod through the lower level content, it could very well be the first level 85 ding!

World of Warcraft: Dial Authenticator

Only available to U.S. accounts for now (shocking really!), you can now dial a toll-free number to authenticate your account in addition to the mobile phone authenticator, and the physical Battle.net authenticator.

“Who you gonna call?!”

“AUTHENTICATORS!”

Sorry about that.

TERA: Screenshots and Info

TERA is an upcoming fantasy MMO from En Masse Entertainment is shaping up to be quite the visual experience. Doling out small portions of information with painstakingly methodical patience and deliberation, En Masse has revealed the achievement system in the game, as well shed some additional light on a race (the dragon-descended Amani) and a class (Lancer, not by Mitsubishi). You can read more here, or ogle at the screenshots below.

Lord of the Rings Online: Tradeskill revamp

The latest dev diary explains the upcoming changes, especially to the UI and efficiency of the tradeskill window. The Farmer profession has also undergone some considerable changes and tweaks to enhance gameplay, such as common seed ingredients for certain Expert Farmer recipies. Some other minor changes have also been made to most other professions. You can read the full list of changes in the 3-page dev diary right here.

Click to enlarge.

 

“Dealing With the End of the World” or “Four Weeks to Cataclysmic Events”

November 9, 2010 1 comment

This was bound to happen. We are exactly four weeks, unless my math is off, and it usually isn’t, from the release of Cataclysm (EDIT: thanks for the confirmation, Tobold!) The blogosphere is abuzz with opinions regarding the end of Wrath and the pending beginning of Cataclysm.

A lot of things are now happening in the player-base simultaneously.

The End of End-Game Raiding

First and foremost is the boredom, either brought about because your guild has been farming endgame for a while now, and there is literally nothing left for you to do anymore. Or because they never got to end-game, and they are so close to “greens that are better than purples” that they see no point in raiding. In any case, fewer and fewer people are motivated to engage in end-game raiding, especially if the primary motivation is loot, because said loot will be obsolete in less than a month.

The Lazy Subscribers

Another is a sense of lethargy for some players, regardless of their endgame persuasion, they are just tired of the existing grind and just need something new. This group includes players like me, who, for one reason or another, just cannot bring themselves to play another few months leading up to the sparkly new content that will once again spark their interest. I let my subscription run out about two months prior, not because I had conquered all content, or because there was nothing left to do. I got tired of two things. First, the inability to raid with my friends because my geographical location is nine hours ahead of EST. Second, because despite my love for WoW, I find myself increasingly aware of the endless grind for better gear. Once you make it to level 80, the only way forward, especially in PvP is to farm more loot. Whatever the case, I won’t be back before Cataclysm.

The Overzealous Overachievers

This is a special band of individuals who go into hyperdrive mode when an expansion nears. They have neat little lists of all the things they want to accomplish before the new content hits, especially if the new contents changes or removes some of the older contents. The list items range from normal (explore all the kingdoms) to completely luck-based (obtain a raptor mount from Zul’Gurub) to the utterly insane (Complete LoreMaster when you never even touched one of the two vanilla continents). These are the people that (probably) spend the most amount of time in the pre-expansion hit world.

The Biggest PvPenis

And finally, PvP explodes as more and more players are logging on primarily through force of habit, only to realize they haven’t much to do online, and then join the BG queue to fill that void in their hearts known as pre-expansion blues.

Opinions Abound!

Everyone is talking about the expansion in one context or another it seems.

Syncaine has a post up about the differences he sees between Ultima Online and World of Warcraft, the most prominent of which, it seems to him, is the tendency for WoW to “prevent bad things from happening to players”. In the interest of partiality, it should be said Syncaine’s opinions notwithstanding, he hasn’t played WoW in quite some time. I remember the older days of vanilla WoW, when everything was blatant and well-pronounced grind, and while I understand where Syncaine is coming from, I would much rather prefer the, uh, I suppose hand-holding for the lack of a better word, than corehounds that spawned every 18 minutes, and running UBRS 40 times to get your guild keyed for Onyxia.

Spinks wonders whether the WoW formula will eventually cater only to the ultra (turbo?) hardcore raiders, and more people will continue to dip briefly into F2P titles before something else half-interesting comes out, endlessly repeating that cycle. I do agree with this point to an extent, but I think it needs to be refined a little. I don’t think people get tired of raiding, or WoW would have died out in 2005. I think people get tired of raiding the same content, a phenomenon to which Blizzard has consistently responded with new content patches introducing new instances and/or expansions.

Psychochild, as usual, has an incredibly well-thought out post about the problem he sees with the MMO industry today. Although his list is comprised of some very broad concepts, what resonated with me a lot more was Wolfsheads comment underneath the post. He says:

“You’ve made some great points! For me, the big culprit is unambitious and risk averse game designers — they create the rules and they set the agenda. The buck has to stop with them. They are the slippery pied pipers that the players follow via a steady diet of rewards and incentivized gameplay.

People are simply experiencing MMO fatigue. I believe MMO bloggers are just echoing the dissatisfaction of the MMO community in this regard. This is a complex subject and there are many forces at work which are contributing to the general malaise out there. Just as the Roman Empire fell due to many reasons, so too are MMOs in decline for many reasons. Here are a few off the top of my head:

1) Lack of Choice – Where are the quality niche MMOs? How is it we live in a 500 channel universe for television but we only have a few AAA+ MMOs to choose from? Obviously, good MMOs cost a heck of a lot of money to create. We’ll have to wait this one out while the costs to produce MMOs comes down much like what happened to the music business where anyone with a computer can produce a studio quality album.

2) Lack of Innovation – Players are bored with essentially the same content (dressed up as “new” expansions) being offered to them. There’s a reason why most TV series — even good ones — don’t last more than a few years. There’s a reason we don’t use cell phones that are 10 years old too. Unless you are selling toilet paper, every business must innovate to stay alive.

3) Lack of Player Freedom – MMOs have morphed into big budget single-player video games with Hollywood cinematics that have more in common with Zelda and God of War than Ultima Online and EverQuest. Players must stay on the rails. The story always ends the same. No deviation. Also, where is the dynamic world we were promised years ago?

4) The Rise of Demographics and Metrics and Based Design – MMOs are now designed to appeal to the widest possible demographic. While this is good for the bottom line and there are some good things about this, there are also a lot of negatives such as dumbed-down gameplay, welfare epics, etc.

5) Convenience Based Design that Panders to Time-Starved, Short Attention Span Gamers – This is all about money and related to #4 above. Instead of the player conforming to the virtual world, now the virtual world must conform to the player. The result is solo friendly MMOs. Travel is almost instantaneous and rendered pretty much meaningless via portals and dungeon finder tools. Loot means nothing as well as it basically grows on trees in most MMOs.

6) The Death of Community – Thanks to solo friendly MMOs, people barely chat anymore and why would they? Community and playing online with other people was one of the big selling points of MMOs years ago, now it’s just a marketing ploy. What community is left is dominated by vulgar jokes and general idiocy on the Trade Channel.”

I particular like point # 5, that convenience-based design which panders to time-starved, short-attention-span-gam- have I talked about Larisa’s post yet?

Larisa, being Larisa, instead offers a list of reasons why WoW is still one of the greatest things to happen to gamers and nerds (a double-whammy category that I am a proud member of, as is, I am certain, Larisa) worldwide. A lot of her points are personal, unique experiences, but then again, that is what online gaming is all about: experiencing the same world through the lens of the people we interact in it with, and through the lens of our own distinct backgrounds, ideologies and experiences.

Comics: “These Warriors Are Special!” or “Really Dumb Charades!”

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

 

 

Categories: Comic

“Syp Sees Insane People” or “Madhouse, Redefined”

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Syp found this gem yesterday, and it is freaking me out. Gaia Online, to date, has the creepiest, strangest and craziest marketing campaign I have ever seen.

Taking his post a tad further, I just scoured the main page, and built a montage of all the creepy avatars, there crazy inexplicable costumes, and their coked-out-of their-minds one-liners.

I mean really, WOW.

Categories: Gaia Online

“Bringing Civilization to Azeroth” or “Bringing Azeroth to Civilization”

November 6, 2010 2 comments

Via WoW.com, I came across this pretty cool depiction of ‘vanilla wow’ Azeroth. Forum-goer Maze over at Civilization Fanatics has created a map for the ever-popular turn-based strategy game of the hexagonal movement persuasion. The detail is quite amazing, especially if you consider what a limited amount of textures and options he had to work with. But the result is staggeringly impressive, with detail oozing from every re-created zone.

Even more impressive is that Maze has created two versions of this map, a smaller one and a larger one, depending on how fat you wish for your game to end. Check out the gallery below for some images of his creation.

“Holy Crap the New Beyond Black Mesa Trailer is Here” or “Just Watch the Damn Thing!”

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: Beyond Black Mesa, Teasers

“Why Medal of Honor is Unrealistic?” or “Headshotting the Noob”

November 5, 2010 1 comment

I am not an American. But that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize the brave men and women who fight for their liberties and countrymen against an enemy so entrenched in the ancient ways of warfare, no civilization has ever been able to subdue them. The War on Terror is a messy, horrid affair. It is bloody, there are casualties and ultimate sacrifices are made on a daily basis.

When I picked up Medal of Honor, and perused through the marketing lingo with such bold catch phrases as “realistic military shooter” and “play today’s war firsthand”, I was intrigued. The original Medal of Honor landed you, in Saving Private Ryan style, on the beaches of Normandy. It was a terrifying affair, and one that permanently imprints you with the utmost sense of respect for the insanity, the violence and the sacrifices the Greatest Generation had to go through to topple the Third Reich. My expectations, understandably, were quite high for this latest installment.

Instead I got a bunch of bearded jocks who trash talked their foes, fought an unrelenting enemy without so much as breaking a sweat, walked around in plain sight without getting spotted, reigned death upon their adversaries while jamming to heavy metal, and proclaimed themselves the “not the hammer, but the razor edge that will decide the war”.

The troops that stormed the beach on D-Day seemed like a band of brothers, patriots till the end, fighting for what’s right. This new game made those respectable soldiers seem like a bunch of dicks who got some new cool toys to play with and they genuinely took pleasure in wiping out the enemy. My point is that the new installment, in its pursuit to be a cool,  “trendy” military shooter, instead came off as a lame attempt at capturing the war through Michael Bay’s lens with an equally abysmal cast of forgettable and fake characters.

The reboot sucked, and the final nail in the coffin, in all likelihood, will be in three days, when Call of Duty: Black Ops launches, and headshots MoH like the fucking noob it is.

Quote of the Day: “Consequential PvP” or “The Sad Truth”

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

The sad truth is that when there are no consequences for bad behaviour, people often behave badly. There have been no consequences in PvP for a long while, and maybe it is time there should be.

Rohan, Leechers and Automatic Group CreationBlessings of Kings

 

“Nine Toes” or “9 Circles of Hell”

November 4, 2010 1 comment

Well this was interesting. Most of the search terms people use to get here make sense, such as “cataclysm zone maps” or “borderlands vs wow”.

Some are just.. odd. Here is a short list:

  • 9 Circles of Hell
  • Nine Toes
  • mass effect 2 imagesize:1920×1080 (hello specificity!)
  • captain caveman
  • greedy goblin (this is a Google fail, if people searching for Gevlon are getting redirected here)

 

 

 

Categories: Bronte

“Compromised Quality Conundrum” or “Conniving Quotes Controversy”

November 4, 2010 1 comment

I have very fond memories of landing on the beaches of Normandy and being utterly stupefied at the D-Day realism portrayed by the original medal of Honor game. I finished the 2010 version recently. To put it mildly, it was less than stellar. To put it moderately, it sucked big bags of donkey balls. To be harsh, I would rather watch paint dry while gouging my eyeballs out with plastic sporks.  The AI was horrendous, the scripted events were a nuisance that interfered with in-game mechanics, too often the control was wrenched away from you, the story hung on by a thread in its half-hearted attempt at cohesion and immersion, and practically every mission seemed to be ripped directly from Call of Duty. There were a few moments of (at times scripted) brilliance, that helped me trudge on, but all in all the title was a disappointment, and left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Yesterday I came across this interview on Eurogamer, and it made me a tad angrier. Here are two direct quotes for your perusal:

Quote 1:

“What I can say is the game didn’t meet our quality expectations. In order to be successful in that space, we’re going to have to have a game that is really, really strong.”
EA Games’ Patrick Soderlund to Eurogamer

Quote 2:

“The game is better than today’s reviews are indicating.”
EA Games’ Patrick Soderlund to Eurogamer (yes, the same interview)

Here’s a question: if you yourself know your game did not meet quality expectations, why release it?

Here’s another question: if you did release it, and it was met with less than stellar reviews, why continue to claim, in the same breath no less, that the game was better than the reviews it received? You know you screwed up, you even admit to it. Just don’t go backtracking to save some face. If you were challenging a singular review, you could blame it on a difference of opinion or perhaps reviewer bias. But thee overall experience has been quite disappointing, myself included, and considering that it didn’t meet your own internal quality standards, why on earth would it receive favorable reviews upon release?

Bear in mind, however, that this doesn’t mean the game did poorly. On the contrary, Medal of Honor sold two million copies in just two weeks post-launch.

Categories: Review

“Dragon Age: Cohesion” or “A Short Wishlist”

November 4, 2010 2 comments

Dragon Age: Origins was a great game. It took me 106 hours and some change to complete the game, and it was an exhilarating experience. Sure I had some problems with the game, but all things said and done it was a terrific gaming experience, epic in scope, terrifying even in its conclusion, and bold in execution.

Dragon Age 2 launches March 8, 2011, and by the looks of it, not only does it already address several of the issues players had with the game, it also improves on existing systems to further streamline the overall experience.

Dave Hinkle of Joystiq had a chance recently to sit down with BioWare and try out some of the systems, and what he reported on seems to have a lot of potential. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here is a quick summary:

  • There is a central narrative that recounts the series of events
  • The narrative is broken up into several self-contained ‘acts’; this helps track the sheer volume of quests you have, and never allows the game to boggle you with too many
  • The classes are much more distinct, for instance, the rogue in the first game was a jack of most trades, master of none
  • Your previous decisions will get imported and have an impact on the world
  • Several old characters will return, including Flemeth and Morrigan
  • Graphically, all three version will look relatively the same, but closer to the PC version in the first installment; the graphical overhaul is extensive and everything looks a lot better
  • The dialogue system will give visual clues to indicate the tone of a particular option

Horny

The above, more or less, covers my wish-list. The self-contained act system, what BioWare refers to as the ‘frame narrative’, is sigh of relief. I recall at one stage mid-game I had so many quests in my log that I couldn’t figure out what to start and where to finish. If I didn’t play for a day, it took me a good half hour to sort out what I was working on, and make my way there. In short, it was a nightmare and clunky quest log didn’t particularly help either.

There are, however, a few exceptions that have not been addressed. These things really irked me the last time around, and I sincerely hope they get fixed this time:

  • The dungeon crawls sucked.For the love of god guys, I understand the need to build dungeons in an RPG, but they don’t need to span the length and breadth of Satan’s colon. The dungeon romps were unforgiving in the first installment, and I sincerely hope BioWare either breaks up the crawls, or streamlines them to give the player a break in the middle. For anyone who has played the game, two crawls particular standout for me. The first was on-route to the Urn of Sacred Ashes. The second, *shudder*, was the romp through The Fade. God that was long. And complicated. And long.
  • Storage and Respec. These two issues will fixed via later patches in the first game, but during the first play-through, it was a huge pain to constantly balance everything that you needed to carry and everything that you needed to store. The limited inventory space ensured that you were constantly selling things, even items that you would need later, simply because there was no room left. Much as I loved most of my characters, one gripe I had was about the unforgiving nature of the respec system. If you picked up a skill, you were stuck with it for the rest of the game, even if realize post execution that it was the most useless ability in the game.
  • And finally BioWare, please hire a jumping animator. It will introduce new moves and gameplay mechanisms to the game, and allow the characters to experience gravity like Sir Isaac Newton would want!

Only four months to go. Two if you count the Facebook tie-in. Can’t wait!

They Said Whaaaat?: “Successful MMO Subscribers” or “Raising the White Flag”

November 3, 2010 3 comments

“You’re skating up hill if you don’t offer a free-to-play option. You’re skating up against World of Warcraft and theoretically SWTOR. That’s your competition. And unless you think your games are as good or better than those – because you also have to overcome their reputation – it’s going to be highly unlikely a large number of people, meaning 200,000-plus, are going to be willing to subscribe to your game.”

Cryptic Studios head Jack Emmert to Eurogamer, via Keen and Graev.

“Honesty is the Best Review Policy” or “Too Many Games on my Plate”

November 2, 2010 6 comments

I have a metric ton of video games to play through right now. I just finished Medal of Honor, but that doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment, since the single player portion lasted all of five hours and some change. That and it wasn’t as epic, except for select, spectacularly scripted events, as that certain other video game the name of which I quite forget right now.

Then there is Red Dead Redemption, of which I have played the beginning 7-8 hours twice now, and the only way to continue playing is to do it again. The first time my ROM was corrupted. When that got fixed, my hard drive crashed, killing all save data. So now I can either forget Red Dead Redemption, and just enjoy the Zombie goodness in Undead Nightmare DLC, or start over. Again. I haven’t made up my mind about that yet.

Then there is Enslaved, Halo: Reach (not particularity impressed so far honestly), Plants vs. Zombies (sheer brilliance), Mafia II, Vanquish and Fallout: New Vegas.

And before I can even think of finishing any of these, we already have Fable III, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II and Call of Duty: Black Ops out. *sigh*

Muhahahaha indeed!

Being an addict though, despite my massive backlog of titles, I couldn’t help but indulge myself in some reviews to see which of the three new releases mentioned above were worth investing in. The one that intrigued me most was Fable III, partly because the title has managed to generate a lot of hype around it, partly because it features some of the greatest voice talent cast, and partly because a diseased part of me hopes and begs and prays each day that Peter Molyneux would release something that actually lives up to the incredible amount of hype he manages to generate around his games. The reviews I came across ranged from “mildly mediocre” to “stupendously superb”, and the range of opinions was so wide and disparate, that I couldn’t make up my mind about buying the title.

That is till I came across Michael Abbott’s review of the game over at The Brainy Gamer. In recent memory, that is probably the most comprehensive, honest and unbiased review I have read about a video game. Granted it is only for the first few hours, but I for one will be monitoring Abbot’s progress and feedback on the game to see if it improves or degenerates. Abbott, if you’re reading this, you alone have the power now to make Mr. Molyneux another $59.99. Rock on!

Keen on the other end, is quite happy with his first ten minutes in the game.

Quote of the Day: “Sarcasm Masked” or “A Very ‘Clever’ Use of Quotations”

November 1, 2010 1 comment

The company making 500m in profit a year can’t figure out how to get a couple hundred people fighting in one area (it’s technically impossible, yo), while a ‘niche’ game just had a little issue with 3100 players in one area. Actually 3100 is just about the max concurrent users said 500m profit company can support on one server, across hundreds of instances and all that. That ‘niche’ game sets the record for total number of players on one server just about every month.

Only one is really ‘accessible’ though. Rainbows for that.

Syncaine, Technology from the future