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“Black Prophecy Beta Keys” or “Only 4,456 Left at the Time of This Post”

March 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Go here. Make an account if you don’t already. Get your beta key. They have given away over 500 keys in what seems like 15 minutes. So hurry please! Hope you get it!

Categories: Beta, Black Prophecy

“Quit Opening Rifts in My Heart!” or “The Perfect MMO Formula?”

February 4, 2011 3 comments

Apologies for the unintended hiatus, a lot was happening at work and I had literally no time to myself. I promised a quick review of Rift beta 4, and here it is.

Trion Worlds, quite possibly has figured out the ideal way to make an MMO: perfect and improve existing systems and norms without delving too much into new, experimental and risky ideas. This is the essence of Rift, it looks, feels and even plays like the most popular of MMOs, but incredibly polished, detailed and well-thought out. And if the above isn’t making much sense, just know this: Rift is an incredible amount of fun, without departing too significantly from core MMO ideologies.

I had a chance to play Rift Beta, albeit briefly, this weekend. I had some initial hiccups, notably the download rates and then connectivity issues, and blogging about said issues even incurred the wrath of an irate commenter. What set the tone for the following play session was a comment posted by a member of the development team over at Trion World, profusely apologizing and offering his help in whatever manner possible. The beta also got extended by a day, and I finally got a chance to play it on Friday night.

Rift is very simple at first glance, with a hidden level of complexity and depth beneath the seemingly innocuous surface. There are two factions of powerful beings, Guardians and Deviants, the chosen ones if you will, that represents the light and dark side respectively. Although the juxtaposition is not quite as black and white and more of a matter of perspective. I gravitate towards lawful good, so naturally I went with the Guardian faction, and the only race choice available was dwarfs. (Yes I know there are others, but as a life-long dwarf player, the other races practically don’t exist for me.) I also chose a class from four separate classes, and I went with a warrior. The final character was named Bronte, and looked remarkably like the stubby dwarf I have had playing WoW, I took a deep breath, and plunged into the world of Telara.

Nearly three hours later, way past the time I was planning on trying out Rift. I had to peel myself away because some of us have that called a job, that requires you to be well-slept and partially functional when you’re at it!

The UI is very familiar. The character, target portraits, the minimap, the action bar, the chatbox were nestled in comfortable, familiar positions. It looks like WoW, it feels like LOTRO, it plays like Aion, and I have a momentary sense of trepidation as the flaming wagon of countless WoW clones, most notably the Alganon wreck, flashes before my eyes. Gingerly I take my first steps and take my first steps. The quest log is familiar. I get my first weapon and open the character portrait to equip it. The character window feels familiar. I find a collectible book, and right clicking it simply files it away, and I can’t figure out how to access it, but it’s a nifty ittle mechanism for driving the lore.

And then I am asked to pick my specialization. This is when I realize that only four classes is extremely misleading. There are multiple sub-roles within each class and each one of these has it’s own detailed soul tree (more on this later). I went with a Riftblade Warlord, and the resulting combination, though initially confusing to wrap my head around, was astounding. Combat is fresh, furious, responsive and fluid. My only gripe is that it feels too easy. I am taking on multiple mobs at my level and wiping the floor with them, while my health is negligibly dented.

The whole experience seems very on-rails, and I don’t mean that in the negative sense. The first few quests had me kill a few mobs and collect some items. By the time I had finished doing that, I looked up and saw myself at the next quest hub, practically 10 feet from where I was supposed to the turn in the quest to Borrin Gamult at Thantic’s Fountain. I haven’t played the game enough to know if this is the exception or the rule, but it happened more than once, and that, to say the least was impressive. I was gently and subtly guided from mini-quest hub to mini-quest hub, and I didn’t even realize it.

I was also pleased with the sheer volume of options and tweaks you could make. The UI, is completely customizable, much like in LOTRO. Some of the most time-saving and useful little shortcuts are present, such as auto-loot and a quest tracker, and the options menu is well populated with little snippets for perfectly customizing your player experience. There are some other little things that I found useful. Pressing the ‘v’ key, for instance, flips the camera 180 without turning your character around: a handy tool if you really want to see the terrifying monstrosity that is hunting you down! The graphics look gorgeous, I experienced some lag, but that could be simply because I refused to play at anything below the ultra settings to enjoy the world of Telara in all it’s digitally rendered glory.

I called it a night when I reached level 6, which I know is very low, and I didn’t even get to experience the major selling point of the title: the rifts themselves. But I have an invitation to beta 5, and I will be sure expand on my experiences in the world of Telara. But all in all, I (surprisingly) had a blast, and look forward to get in some more playtime this weekend.

Categories: Beta, Rift

“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

Se7en Reasons to Try World of Tanks Beta: “You, Sir, Are a Freaking Tank” or “Lots of MMO, Little Bit of RPG-FPS-RTS-Simulator”

November 19, 2010 5 comments

First of all, I haven’t played the beta yet, so don’t be confused if anything I say makes it seem like I have had a lot of experience with the game. Second, if you are itching to try out a new title, especially one with such an interesting spin on your run-of-the-mill Orc/Human/Space Marine MMOs, perhaps World of Tanks is for you. More importantly, you can try out the game in it’s closed beta stage for free right now. Go here at the official website, and just enter your email address. I got my beta invite within an hour, maybe you will get equally lucky.

The beta is downloading right now, although I am getting abysmal (Hi Matthew!) download rates. As soon as I get in, I will put up a brief overview of what the game feels and plays like.

In the meantime, here is a short list of some of the reasons you should try out World of Tanks:

One: It’s free (for now!)

The game is in closed beta. That means the developers are testing out the game with literally hundreds of thousands of players online and you can be one of the fortunate few to get in on the action and see if the title is eventually worth investing into. You can register for a closed beta invite here.

Two: You sir, are a tank!

Your avatar isn’t an axe-wielding orc, or a dime-a-dozen human, or some fancy spacecraft for mining and other boring activities. You, sir, are a tank! 20 tons of iron and steel topped with a bigass gun. Rock on!

Actually, technically you are five tanks, because you can store that many in your hanger! And that is just to start off with. You can eventually purchase more hangers for your own fleet of tanks!

Three: And there are a lot of you!

World of Tanks offers over 150 different types of tanks to choose from, broken into four categories:

  • There is the light tank, capable of quickly out-flanking the opponents, and excellent for reconaissance
  • Then you can pilot the all-purpose, weather-resistant (I think) medium tanks
  • Not to mention the heavy tanks that you can use to carve up your opponents
  • And finally we have the sniper division with the long-range howitzer tanks

Four: MMO-RPG-RTS-FPS-Simulator

While this may sound suspiciously like marketing lingo, the developers of World of Tanks, to their credit, don’t necessarily restrict themselves to a specific genre or category of video games.

  • The simulator part is self-evident.
  • The tank itself isn’t just a giant heap of metal on wheels, it can be upgraded, improved and refitted to serve the situation at hand.
  • The core of the game is essentially hardcore tank-on-tank action.
  • And finally, unless you use clever strategy to out-think your enemy, brute force will almost never get you the upper hand.

I’m sold!

Five: Massive, Multiplayer, Online!

This part is a little exaggerated. While you can theoretically play with hundreds of thousands of players in the game, a single skirmish will only feature up to 60 tanks on varied battlefields at the same time. Then again, if you think about it, the most popular MMO in the world has 40 as it’s largest raid size. So 60 doesn’t sound so bad. Not to mention the fact that you are a freaking tank. Imagine how big you are (your tank avatar that is, you perv). Now multiply that by 60. There you go!

Six: Quick, Furious Combat!

Call me impatient, but part of the reason I get burnt out on WoW was because every large event takes too long to get into and get out of. An average raid lasts 2-4 hours. A PvP session (arenas excluded) takes 30 minutes to an hour. Enter World of Tanks. Your average battles range from 5-15 minutes tops. If at the end of 15 minutes tanks from both sides are present on the battle field and neither side’s base has been demolished, the game will be a tie, but it won’t trudge on indefinitly.

Short version: You won’t have to hunt down the flag carrier forever!

Se7en: Plethora of Features

  • Your tanks have machine guns for infantry.
  • There is a camouflage system implemented in the game.
  • The game will automatically place you in equal teams to ensure no one side is overwhelmingly powerful, thus mixing tank drivers from different starter nations…
  • … but the game also supports nation-on-nation warfare.
  • Maps are, on average, 1 square kilometer a piece.
  • Buildings can be used as cover; you can perforate a wall and fire through it while simultaneously protecting your tank from enemy fire.
  • Tanks will have crews; crew skills will determine tank performance.
  • There is an in-game economy for tank parts and upgrades between players.

That was more like fourteen reasons right there. Still need convincing? Here is a detailed FAQ.

Blast away!

Categories: Beta, Preview, World of Tanks

Thought of the Day: “Oxymorons” or “World of Tanks Didn’t Think This Through”

November 18, 2010 1 comment

So here are two questions:

1. How is a “tank”, “light”?

2. How do you hit “500,000 active players” in a “closed beta”?

Categories: Beta, Bronte, World of Tanks

Quote of the Day: “Griefed by NPCs” or “Dawntide is Srsbsns!”

June 28, 2010 2 comments

Martin Anward, CEO of developer Working as Intended was asked how harsh the death penalty was in Dawntide. He said you resurrect at a graveyard, but your items need to be recovered from your body. His response included a statement that made me pause, and I mean literally pause and re-read the sentence:

“Looting corpses depends entirely on the area of the game you’re in. Inside national territories, players cannot loot each others’ corpses, though there’s nothing preventing a monster from helping itself to some of your treasure after you die.”

Dawntide, my friends, is srsbsns!

Weekly MMO/RPG Crockpot: “Mummies, Super Heroes, Jedi and Revamping Jumpgate” or “BioWare Bonanza, Trine Sequeled and Dungeon Siege 3”

June 12, 2010 1 comment

That’s MMO slash RPG, not MMORPG. Every week all the random bits and pieces of news that I come across regarding my favorite MMOs and RPGs (or at least the ones that have piqued my curiosity) start piling up in the ‘temporary’ section of my bookmarks toolbar. This is an attempt to clean up my bookmarks.

The following is a quick list if you want to skip to something in particular:

MMOs

  • DC Universe Online Videos
  • Dawntide Beta
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic Dialogue Choices
  • The Mummy Online
  • Jumpgate Evolution Revamped
  • End of Nations Trailer
  • Lord of the Rings Online goes F2P

RPGs

  • Dungeon Siege 3
  • Mass Effect 2: Overlord DLC
  • Fallout: New Vegas Pre-order Bonuses
  • Trine 2!
  • Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 at E3

Here we go!

MMOs

DC Universe Online Videos

The developers of DC Universe Online, recently announced to be set free upon the masses in November, released more videos this week than BioWare, and that is quite a feat to accomplish. To start off, we got the DC Universe Online – Inside the Studio – Episode 5 this week, which addresses some key questions about the upcoming MMO, such as, can players create kid heroes in the DC Universe, e.g.: Teen Titans. Not exactly my cup of tea, if you know what I mean, but the video is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

Next up we have a short video misleadingly titled “Life on the Streets”, where the game’s creative director Jens Andersen walks us through the “super speed” power and how it plays out in both traveling through the world, scaling walls and combat. It’s very short, barely under a minute (if you take out the time for the logos etc.), and doesn’t really tell us much of anything. Worth a look, especially if you are a Jay Garrick fan! I thought “Life on the Streets” would be about the living, breathing world. Guess I was wrong!

Finally, we have “The Suicide Slums Travelogue” trailer. It has to do with The Suicide Slums, and it is in trailer format. How apt. Chris Cao, game director, walks us through the ghetto of Metropolis, that location in every major city in the world that the so-called “civilized folk” dare not trespass.  There are a few threads of storyline and lore as it pertains to this section of the city, along with some fairly obvious information such as “villains can use the slums’ shadows to hide, whereas heroes can come to the slums to fight crime.” No shit. Trailer is below, it’s two minutes long, enjoy!

Dawntide Beta

This is old news at this stage, considering Eliot Lefebvre already posted about it well over two weeks back. But I caught wind of it just now, so I am going to talk about it. If you have a problem with it, go read another blog you pansy! (Yes I am having a weird day.) On May 31st, that would be exactly two weeks ago, the game went into open beta.

Dawntide stands out from the crowd because its central premise promises the creation of towns, cities, societies, cultures and the whole world of Dawntide based solely on player input. This concept is very intriguing to me, and I have yet to come across a game where player interaction shapes the world categorically. A small example would be the manner in which the Wintergrasp battle is fought in Wrath of the Lich King. One team defends the fort, whereas the other assaults is with siege vehicles, trying to take down the walls which will allow them entry into the inner sanctum. Once the final wall to the fortress itself has been breached, the game is over. The tower cap also works, especially if your faction far out numbers the enemy.

Battles of this scale and scope occur all over WAR, I am sure, as towns are captured and bases razed, but as Eliot points out, “PvP” is far too often regarded synonymous with “sandbox”. I hope Dawntide focuses on player input through social interaction and world questing to shape its lands, and not how hard can you stab the next guy. Whether it actually happens remains to be seen.

I will be trying out the Dawntide open beta with in the week, and post more thoughts here.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Dialogue Choices

BioWare has long touted story and character development as the fourth pillar in MMOs as one of its major strengths. Well that is until Derek Smart came along, and left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Way to go douchebag.

Anyway, in a prior developer walk-through, BioWare explained how their NPC dialogue options were deep, engaging and laden with all manners of choice. These choices, they have now revealed, go beyond the cookie-cutter good and evil, and also delve into the flirty, whimsical, or purely cosmetic to accommodate for a greater set of play-styles and personalities. What I find really cool about the whole affair is that the dialogue options will vary for each class, allowing specific responses that may be tailored to reflect the class and lore. In addition, when grouped, multiple players will be able interact with the conversation, advancing the structured and segmented dialogue tree.

We already know SW:TOR has over 50 novels worth of dialogue and story written for it, and more is being added every day, and that every NPC in the game is fully voice-acted. So this comes as an added benefit, and one that I am really looking forward to.

Here is a quick poll, and your participation is kindly requested.

The Mummy Online

Branden Fraser is to mummies what Francis, Louis, Zoey and Bill are to zombies.  With three movies shot on the premise of ancient mummies, and a spin-off starting he who dares you to smell what the rock is cooking, I suppose it was only a matter of time before there was an MMO spin-off. The game will be set in the 1930’s and feature both player versus environment and player versus player opportunities.

Universal’s Bill Kispert had this to say:

“The Mummy franchise is chock full of exotic settings, supernatural enemies, exciting quests, and over the top action. It is ripe with gameplay possibilities, and we look forward to extending our relationship with Bigpoint to bring the world of The Mummy to life for gamers.”

There you have it, as generic a launch statement as it gets which can be summed up as follows: “We think this is a cool idea, you should too.” For the record, unless I see something groundbreaking, and despite my affinity for mummies, this is likely the last time I will post about this title!

You can find more about the game at it’s official website.

Jumpgate Evolution Revamped

I am a huge fan of the Jumpgate series, so it always pains me to see the game go through so many delays. In fact, next month will mark a full year since the original estimated release date of July 2009. With deafening silence from the developer for the last several weeks, fans of the series were finally given a questionable ray of light. Executive Producer Lance Robertson wrote a detailed forum post on the game’s development.

So what is with all the delays? Apparently the development team has scrapped most of the gameplay elements in the game and replaced them completely with a new vision for what the game should act and play like. Good news I suppose, considering it will always be better to have a game revamped and restructured prior to release and not after (*cough* Alganon *cough*). This does, however, imply that the game will be inevitably delayed even further.

*sigh*

End of Nations Trailer

Here is a novel concept: an MMORTS. Developer Petroglyph has been working on this game for a while, and there was an interview I came across on Bitmob that shed some much-needed light on the title. Petroglyph’s Mike Legg, alongwith the core of Petroglyph, has been working on the RTS genre tracing back to Westwood’s genre-defining Command and Conquer series, and even as far back as Dune 2.

In true E3 fashion, and in order to create some hype for the title, a launch title was revealed. The title itself sets up the storyline of the game, but does not give actual gameplay footage or indication of what to expect. Good watch for the lore and background buff, terrible watch for the anyone looking for massive armies wreaking havoc on the battlefield. I fall squarely in the former category, so I thoroughly enjoyed the trailer, lack of in-game footage notwithstanding.

Lord of the Rings Online goes F2P

This is likely the biggest news in this bunch, but it has been covered to death by Rubi Bayer over at Massively, so head on over to get all the juicy details. They also sat with the development team over at Turbine for an in-depth interview.

RPGs

Dungeon Siege 3

Dungeon Siege holds a special place in my heart, and that is because I absolutely loved the first one, and absolutely detested the second one. The first one needs to be put on a pedestal with a Parabolic Aluminized Reflector spotlight above it, whereas the second one needs to be fed to a pack of wild dogs, pissed upon, and buried six feet under. The first was a work of art, set in a unique world filled with mystery and twitch-based combat, whereas the second was a piece of crap so vile I couldn’t bear to get past the first few hours without throwing up. The first… well… you get the idea.

Anyway, DS3’s developers released some screenshots from the game that look suspiciously like artwork. You be the judge.

Mass Effect 2: Overlord DLC

In three days, that is June 15, 2010, the Mass Effect 2 universe will see it’s latest DLC addition in the form of Overlord. The DLC features a rogue AI and Commander Shepard’s race against time (why is always against time?) to stop it. The DLC will feature five missions set on the same planet, interspersed with more driving in the Hammerhead.

Shepard’s latest exploit will cost you a whopping 560 points, which is approximately $7. Pricey? You betcha! Worth it? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

Fallout: New Vegas Pre-order Bonuses

Walmart, Best Buy, GameStop, Amazon and Steam are all offering some extensive lists of exclusive content if you decide to line their pockets with your hard-earned doubloons. Here is a full list:

The Classic Pack, available when you pre-order through GameStop, contains:

  • Armored Vault 13 Suit – Extensively patched up and dotted with piecemeal armor, this outfit is an homage to the classic ending of the original Fallout.
  • Vault 13 Canteen – This handy device is useful for staving off dehydration and providing a small amount of healing in the Mojave Wasteland.
  • Weathered 10mm Pistol – A well-worn 10mm pistol that packs an extra punch despite its modest size.
  • 5 Stimpaks – Food and water are good for long-term healing, but when the fighting is fierce, Stimpaks help keep Wastelanders upright.

The Tribal Pack, available when you pre-order through Amazon, contains:

  • Tribal Raiding Armor – Pieced together from scraps of armor, this outfit provides protection without impacting mobility.
  • Broad Machete – This heavy-bladed melee weapon does high damage against limbs and can quickly deal out a flurry of attacks.
  • 5 Bleak Venom doses – Useful on any Melee Weapon, Bleak Venom makes short work of most living targets.
  • 10 Throwing Spears – If you would like to silently pin an enemy’s head to a wall, Throwing Spears are the way to do it.

The Caravan Pack, available when you pre-order through Steam and Walmart, contains:

  • Lightweight Leather Armor – This hand-modified suit of leather armor reduces its overall weight without impacting its ability to protect.
  • Sturdy Caravan Shotgun – Despite its rough appearance, this Caravan Shotgun will reliably fire 20 gauge shells until the Brahmin come home.
  • 4 Repair Kits – Useful for repairing any outfit or weapon, Repair Kits are a valuable tool for any caravaner.
  • Binoculars – The Mojave Wasteland is a dangerous place, but with these trusty Binoculars you’ll be able to spot trouble coming.

The Mercenary Pack, available when you pre-order through Best Buy, contains:

  • Lightweight Metal Armor – Modified for long-range travel, this Metal Armor sacrifices some protection for mobility and overall weight.
  • Mercenary’s Grenade Rifle – Though similar to other 40mm Grenade Rifles in the Mojave Wasteland, this model has a faster reload cycle.
  • 3 Super Stimpaks – When you absolutely, positively, need to keep your blood inside your body, Super Stimpaks fix you up in no time.
  • 3 Doctors Bags – Mercenaries and broken limbs go together like Iguana-on-a-Stick and Nuka Cola. Thankfully, these Doctors Bags take a bit of sting out of the inevitable crushed skull.

I personally like the Mercenary Pack, but considering there is no best Buy within, well, a few countries of my geographical location, I suppose my doubloons are only good enough for Steam’s Caravan Pack.

Trine 2!

Trine was a fantastic platformer. It was innovative, varied and presented you with a plethora of challenges that tested both your wits and your ability to pay attention to your surroundings. Despite the obvious solution, the game actually allowed you multiple solutions to almost every puzzle situation, which is why it stood out from the crowd.

Trine 2 has now been announced. That is all I have to report now. I will post more as more is (inevitably) uncovered at E3, but this title has my undivided attention. I just hope it isn’t like the Dungeon Siege sequel.

Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 2 at E3

Take a look at the following floor plan from E3 2010, courtesy of Kotaku. There really isn’t any additional information, but I am siure more will surface as E3 marches on.

“APB Beta Keys” or “20,000 Keys Still Left!” Pt. II

June 11, 2010 1 comment

Today marks the launch of the brand spankin’ new PCGamer website: http://www.pcgamer.com. And in honor of this launch, the site is giving out not one, not two, but 20,000 beta keys for APB. All you have to do is head on over to the website, and make register!

Hurry while supplies still last!

Here’s the official word:

“The first 20,000 people to register at PCGamer.com will receive a key to the city for Realtime World’s forthcoming cops and robbers game, APB. By registering, gamers will get the chance to grab give away trial keys, free MMO items, and access to PC Gamer hosted events.”

Why are you still here? GO REGISTER!!

Categories: APB, Beta

“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.

“APB Beta Keys” or “1,899 Keys Still Left!”

May 9, 2010 8 comments

EDIT (June 11, 2010): Those keys ran out months ago fellas. But you can find some more here.

Head on over to Eurogamer if you want your APB Beta key. Hurry! They are running out fast!

http://gamers.eurogamer.net/giveaways.php?id=87022

Categories: APB, Beta