Friday, October 30, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 (Double Friday Post)

I downloaded the Left 4 Dead 2 Demo last night. It didn't work. I updated my drivers and reinstalled and nothing. I wasn't about to wipe Steam just for a demo... even if that Demo is Left 4 Dead 2. I didn't feel like fighting it anymore.

So I ended up playing Aion all night, which was fun. I got to do another run through The Training Grounds which is a level 25-30 instance in the Abyss.

Short Friday post

I have done 2 levels in the Abyss now. It feels a lot like Dark Age of Camelot Frontier’s. The experience points are very good and you also gain Abyss Points which can be used to be gear. You also have the consistent fear of being ganked, which I have been a few times. Not every time I get attacked do I lose though. Sometimes I’m able to fight them off and kill them and other times I am able to run away.

I know I’m only 2 levels into the Abyss but so far it’s very fun. The risk versus reward is there to make me want to be in the Abyss regardless of wanting to PvP. The other nice factor is that if I get to frustrated there I can always head back to the normal PvE area’s where the chances of being ganked are MUCH smaller.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Everyone is prejudice against other MMO's

I’m going to vent. I have only written two sentences and I already know this post is going to turn into a QQ post. Never the less it has to be done. Last night I was in Ventrillo with all my friends that I have been gaming with since High School. Two of us in the channel play Aion and the other 4 play World of Warcraft.

As our nightly routine one of them asks how Aion is going, and I always explain what I’m doing and what is good or bad about it. Typically I’m always heaping praise on Aion though. Last night I told them I was enjoying crafting and making Kinah and one of my friends started making fun of my reasons for it.

First off he couldn’t understand WHY I wanted to make money. He didn’t grasp the idea that making ALOT of money in a game could be fun in its self. I told him a half truth and explained that I wanted a steady income set up before I actually needed one, which is partially true. I don’t want to wait until I need Kinah to try and make some. It would be too hard to invest Kinah at that point, so better to do it while it’s mainly trivial.

That was a semi acceptable answer by their standards… then I told them I also had fun crafting. Rather than asking me why crafting was fun they began to berate the game play and slow grind of the exp. I was told that the reason I liked crafting was because it was easier than leveling. Then one of my friends began to tell me how Aion was “failing” because all of his friends had already quit it. That didn’t make sense to me though because there were two of us in Vent who have been playing Aion for weeks and still enjoy it. I told them that a lot of people in the guild hadn’t got many levels over the weekend was due to a large portion of them rerolling to healers to help the guild and some PvP in the Abyss that took place.

I was told again that Aion was simply too grindy and it wasn’t going to last. How can people tell me a game is too grindy? They even went so far as to say the leveling was slower in Aion than EverQuest… really? How can any MMO veteran say that without bursting into flames? EQ literally took a YEAR on average to reach level 60.

I know my friends didn’t mean to offend me, but this goes to show the mindset of a lot of gamers. They immediately sought to find the bad in Aion, rather than the good.

At the end of our conversation I told them, as I do everytime they ask, that Aion will not steal players from World of Warcraft. It is however a place to go once you are done with WoW. Sure some people will go back when Blizzard releases new content, but I don’t think in the amount that most gamers expect.

The bottom line is Aion is arguably the highest quality MMO to be released SINCE World of Warcraft. Aion will truly be the test of whether or not another MMO can make a profit with A+ quality control.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spreadsheets, calculators, and pocket protectors OH MY!

The last few days of Aion have been spent in the Sanctum running back and forth between my Warehouse (bank) the Broker (Auction House) and the crafting vendors. I'm far more addicted to making Kinah than I thought.

It has gotten so bad that I finally sat down Sunday night and made a spread sheet adding up the production cost of each potion I can currently make and the average going rate for those potions on the Broker. I now spend about 30 minutes a night doing Broker and Trade Skill related chores. The nice thing is that the amount of Kinah I’m making from this 30 minutes far exceeds the amount of Kinah I make in 3 or 4 hours of grinding.

I’m currently selling 3 types of potions, I’m going to do a cost benefit analysis tonight and decide if I want to pick up a 4th potion type. There are a few reasons for me selling more than one type of potion, and I want to explain them here

Supply: All of the items I make are subject to the amount of materials I can obtain to create them. They each consist of 3 items. One item is sold from a NPC so that supply and cost never changes. The second is sold from players on the Broker and is common and cheap thus I would consider it low demand. The last is the main ingredient, Fresh Lumesia, which can sky rocket in price if you are not careful.

So if I were only making 1 type of potion then when I start buying ingredients in bulk I would drive the demand up. With the new average price for Fresh Lumesia being so high all new listings would only undercut the current ones by a small margin. It then would take about 24 hours of undercutting for prices to come back down to my acceptable range and the market to reset it's self.

By spreading my purchases out from buying three types of ingredients rather than just one I retain the same amount of profit per potion while keeping the cost of my materials down. This helps me keep from driving my own prices up, and thus putting me out of business. I’m competing against the “I farmed it so it’s free people” here so remember that.

Market Presence: In Aion each character can only has 10 broker slots. The point of this is to keep people from flooding a market and driving out the competition, but also raises an interesting thought of opportunity cost per slot. Now this is good for me more than you think. I WANT to drive away my competition by having a strong market presence. Given that I only have 10 slots that would seem like a handicap but in fact it only makes it easier on me.

Most people are only listing with 1 character. So I only have to compete against 10 broker slots per competitor. I don’t know if all my competitors are the same person with 3 different characters that just happen to have random names or if they really are 3 random people. I have identified only 1 name as a consistent market presence though which leads me to believe they aren't trying to take over the market.

How this benefits me? I have decided that with a little up front time and effort, to level alts up. All my alts have similar spelt names. The point of that is so when I list items all of my competition KNOWS they are competing against 1 person, regardless of how many characters I have. I’m trying to do market intimidation.

The morons and slackers won’t take the time to level up a second character for the sole purpose of selling items. At the most they will have an abandoned alt who theyuse to help sell “extra” stuff. Now I’m sure a few other people will take on my strategy, but there are always more slackers than goblins in any MMO.

Conclusion: I’m currently pulling in 300,000 Kinah a listing from Alchemy with less than 30 minutes worth of work per listing. 15 of those 30 minutes are typically spent combing materials which thankfully I can queue up then go read, shower, brush, or do whatever. I do 2 listings a day, once in the morning and once in the evenings assuming materials are available.

Fun math! That translates into approximately 10,000 Kinah a minute. Thanks to Gevlon @

I have applied most of what I have read there to Aion and it seems to be working.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kill the Soap Box

Other bloggers annoy me. Most seem to be caught up in their own little world where their opinion is the only right one. Now I understand that blogs are often times a place for people to stand on a soap box and shout their opinions… but what does it accomplish?

My favorite discussions to date have been with people of opposing views knowledgeable about the topic but open minded enough to consider other options. These people are very hard to come by. It’s the old thought process that if we are given the same information and you come to a different conclusion than I do, you must be stupid.

That’s not always the case though. People value different things. I hate to reference politics but I am a very liberal person, so as being of voting age in the USA you would think I would typically vote Democrat. Well you would be wrong, the things I value MOST are the things that Republicans tend to side with. So while I agree with more Democratic policies the ones that are most important to me are better fought for by the Republicans.

What does this matter? People are all biased. Everyone has their own agenda they are trying to bring to fruition. It is very rare that you get two people of opposing views in a room who will hear one another out and actually consider the others views.

This is the same in the video game industry, more specifically the MMO industry. If we both like MMO’s and have played the same ones, you MUST like the same one as I do or something is wrong with YOU. The fans of different MMO’s need to understand that compromise will make for a better gaming future then fanboy forum trolling.

Bloggers are just as bad though. We need to take away soap boxes and start sitting at round tables to discuss the pros and cons of games or we are doomed to keep making the same mistakes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Random Update

I currently am playing Aion. I have a 25 Ranger if you haven’t noticed from my posts. In between work, Aion, and blogging I have been reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. I’m about 300 pages into book 3, really good series that is going to be on HBO starting next year.

I’m have also pre-purchased Mortal Online and have played in the early beta a little. I have ALSO purchased Left 4 Dead 2 and will be doing some reviews on that shortly after launch. I have considered picking up a Playstation 3 but I just don’t see myself playing it enough to justify the $300 price tag.

If anyone is reading this what are you playing?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Aion 1-25 Final Thoughts

When it’s all said and done I don’t know how to review Aion, however I’m sure I’m still in the “Honey Moon” phase. I haven’t hit a wall yet and while I know I’m half way through the levels I still have a lot of exp to earn before I’m level 50. If a friend would ask me about Aion, I think this is what I would say.

If you are playing World of Warcraft and enjoying it, don’t play Aion. You won’t like it. The game has a lot more grind by WoW standards and is a lot like WoW in the way it plays so you won’t be moving on to something very different. If you currently enjoy World of Warcraft Aion will more than likely not appeal to you.

If you are burnt out on World of Warcraft and want another MMO to play, give Aion a try. Come in with an open mind and remember it’s not going to be WoW but it will have a lot of similarities… which ALL MMO’s share.

If you enjoyed EverQuest back in the day, I really think you will find Aion to be a second home. It’s everything I loved about EverQuest with the technological advances that every MMO since has discovered. I only play 1-2 hours a night and I feel as though I’m playing enough to still make progress.

All in all I am very pleased with Aion. I think it’s a good game and feel it will only grow from here. I really hope NCSoft can show that Blizzard isn’t the only company who can make a quality MMO. I don’t expect Aion to meet WoW’s subscriber numbers but I do think it will rival its quality of craftsmanship.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aion 1 -25 Part 2

I creep ever closer to 25. This is a continuation of yesterdays post.

Combat: Combat versus regular monsters in Aion is fairly typical to most MMOs. You have a task/action/ability bar that you can bind keys to or click on with your mouse. Certain abilities will allow you to chain another ability immediately after it; for example a certain arrow shot will allow me to follow that ability up with a rapid arrow shot. Other than that there isn’t much difference from Aion combat than there is from EverQuest 2, World of Warcraft or Warhammer Online. If you have played one you have played them all.

Difficulty: I would say over all Aion seems to be on a medium difficulty setting. Over all the game isn’t difficult but depending on what level of monsters you are fighting dictates the level of difficulty. It’s not that the higher level monsters have better tactics; they just hit hard and have more hit points.

It’s one of my biggest complaints about MMO’s and really RPGs in general. If you increase the amount of damage a monster does and increase the amount of hit points he has… then increase our stats equally you haven’t changed the game at all. It’s just inflation. If something hits me for 10% of my health it doesn’t matter if that 10% is 50 damage or 500 damage because it’s still only 10%. Anyone who has ever played a MMO before will find Aion very inviting with enough difficulty to keep you entertained.

Questing: I hate quests. These tasks that game developers present us with as an excuse to kill 10 Foozles are not quests, they are chores. I haven’t done a real quest since I did my Necromancer’s epic quest in EverQuest, just chores. The bright side is Aion doesn’t focus on quests. Don’t get me wrong they are there at every point of the game but they are not the only method for leveling.

In World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online the fastest way to earn experience was to solo quest. In Aion the fastest way to level is by killing monsters. Nearly every quest that has sent me out to kill 10 Flubbergasts has ended being that those 10 Flubbergasts were worth more exp than the quest turn in… drastically more. Once that realization is made you find yourself killing any and everything you come across. The quests tend to guide you to the appropriate area for your level but the heart and soul of leveling in Aion is by killing things… be it solo or in a group.

Interface: The interface is wonky… but it’s only wonky because it’s new. I really wish NCSoft had stolen a page from Mythic and made the default User Interface completely customizable. The UI isn’t bad but it doesn’t feel natural. You can move some windows around but not all of them. The default hotkeys leaves a little to be desired and you can feel that the games interface was heavily influenced by Eastern MMO’s rather than the Western ones. I’m really just nitpicking though because at this level of the game it works fine. I’m sure with more Western feedback we will see the UI shape into something we can all love.

Graphics: This one will be short. The game feels like a Final Fantasy cut scene. It has a very strong Anime feel to it. The graphics are amazingly done though and complement the environment and feel that NCSoft seems to have been going for. I will say again though that a lot of the detail is lost because for the sake of efficiency you operate most of the time with your view as far away from your character as possible to increase your range of vision.

This concludes Part 2. Tomorrow will be my summary.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Aion 1-25 Part 1

Works been busy. I was about to hit 24 last night when I got a call that some equipment went down. So I had to pack up and drive an hour to meet AT&T to try and fix the issue. However since I’m SOOO close to 24 I’m going to start part 1 of my 1-25 Aion review.

Character Creation: Aion offers a huge variety in character customization. There are some 40 faces to pick from for each sex and then you have sliders to adjust nearly every feature on the face and body. The sliders allow you to move eyes, noise, forehead, chin, feet, arms and it allows you to resize all of these features too. Now the first time you create a character it seems a bit overwhelming and feels as though you have endless possibilities.

The problem is that once you log into the game all that pain staking detail you put into your character goes unnoticed. Every view puts your character so far away from the screen that they are the size of a Polly pocket in standard armor. The countless options in the character creation screen are simply put; pointless. You can’t tell one slider adjust from the next once you start playing the game. That doesn’t mean it should be removed, it obviously doesn’t hurt to have it in place. I just don’t think it’s something we should praise too highly.

Starting Area: I’ve leveled three characters to level 10 now, two Rangers and a Cleric. The starting area is typical for most MMO’s. It isn’t too difficult but it still gives you enough of a challenge to be enjoyable. The quests flow smoothly and the help guide is amazing, they have little windows to show you where hotkeys are by default. The story line for you ascension is well done and there are quite a few cut scenes along the way. The only real down side is that once you’ve done it once, you’ve done it all. Each class has the same quests and the same story line. There isn’t much replay ability here.

Crafting: I started crafting early. I wanted to try and get a jump on the majority of the playerbase who would be focusing on leveling rather than trade skills. It has worked for the most part. I’m currently at 200 Alchemy and I’ve been able to make money using that trade skill every day. You have Work Orders that are quests for your profession. I really don’t want to go into to much detail about it, just check my crafting post.

The major issue is the economy more so than the trade skills. More often than not the materials to make a given item cost more than the product you make from them. The best way I’ve found to make a profit is buy the materials early in the morning. Everyone posts their materials as they go to bed so if you are up late or up early buy the cheap materials. You then have two options. You can either sit on them and relist them in the afternoon or craft an item and sell the item. I do both. I purchase in bulk every morning and turn the majority of those into potions. I sell potions for 2.5 times what it costs me to make them. In the evenings I relist some of those extra materials back onto the market and make 75% more than what I paid for them. The reason I don’t focus on one or the other is I am trying not to flood the market, plus you are limited on how many items/stacks you can sell at a broker.

This concludes Part 1.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fast Update

Sorry for not posting yesterday, I just didn't feel compelled to write about anything.

Aion update: I'm now half way through 23. I only spent an hour last night playing and some of that was just wandering aimlessly. My Alchemy is now at 200. I blew most of my money to get the 3rd level of training so I haven't had much Kinah to invest in leveling it. I'm also anticipating a 80k Kinah money sink at 25 for my abilities. The game is still fun but I think I'm developing a blister on my mouse finger from all the jump shotting.

Song of Ice and Fire: I finished Clash of Kings yesterday and started A Storm of Swords. The series is still going strong and George Martin is doing a good job of me not guessing who is going to live or die. Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow are my favorite characters so far.

I look forward to posting something more in depth tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turning a profit

I hadn't planned on posting today but here it is.

A few nights ago I set my mind to make some money in Aion. I had about 50k Kinah to my name. I was going to cut myself short and attempt to flip nearly all of that money through wise investments. Go big or go home.

I shot over to the Broker to see what the going rate was for some of the potions I could sell. The highest level of instant healing potion seemed to have the least amount of competition with the highest possible margin of profit per potion. I looked up the ingredients and proceeded to purchase them off the Broker… or what I thought was them.

The down side is when you type in Elemental Stone and sort by lowest price, Lesser Elemental Stone comes first. Without thinking I spent 30k Kinah on Lesser Elemental Stones when I needed the normal version. After reaching the trade skill area is when it dawned on me.

So back to the Broker, I would have my Kinah profit if it killed me. I put my Lesser Elemental Stones up for sale and bought the correct items, in a much smaller quantity as I now only had 20k Kinah left to make my profit.

Back at the tradeskill tables I created 90 potions. Traveled yet again back to the Broker and began putting them up for sale. Another sad realization came, you are limited to how much you can list at one time. I made a mental note to level an alt to 10 so I would have additional auctioning power.

I logged and went to bed. I woke up in the morning to a great surprise. I had nearly 55k Kinah from selling my potions and another 24k Kinah from selling the Lesser Elemental Stones. I turned around and reinvested all of that money back into the market. This time I found items with a higher ingredient cost but also solder for a much higher profit margin.

When I came home from work that night I was greeted with 150k Kinah. In less than 20 hours I went from 20k Kinah (after my mistaken purchase) up to 150k Kinah. This is all thanks to Gevlon’s blog and how to operate in a MMO economy. Since my few days dominating the low level potion market prices have dropped below to the cost the materials to make the potions. Lucky for me I have already gone back to leveling my trade skill beyond this current market. By next week I should have destroyed another potion market by driving prices down due to my goblin like undercutting skills. Crafting and playing the market seems to be more fun than leveling these days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have Military Training today and tomorrow. No post today but I have one for tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Aion… not so polished?

With every new game that comes out you are always stricken with a sense of awe. It’s often called the Honey Moon stage, everything is perfect and wonderful and the game will never be better than it is right now. I’ve learned to love the Honey Moon stage and appreciate it for it what is.

I’m not sure how long the Honey Moon stage lasts; when I got married I only had a 4 day Honey Moon so I guess my E-Honey Moon has been far longer. (Unless I do hours played, then it’s probably far shorter) While I don’t think I’m officially out of the Honey Moon phase I think I’m at a stage where I can be realistic about a game, this one being Aion.

Before I’m willing to go any farther Aion is still fun for me. I don’t want this to sound more like blind Honey Moon fanboyism but my love for Aion really does appear to be more than a one month stand. It reminds me of my first girlfriend in so many ways, EverQuest.

That being said I do believe the polish myself and others have heaped on Aion is not fully earned. Compared to Warhammer Online it’s surely polished but as soon as I hold it up next to World of Warcraft it starts to seem less perfect. Aion has done far more things right and well than any other MMO since World of Warcraft has launched, that I can say without pause or preface.

Aion does however have a few noticeable issues, and 5 minutes on the forums will lead you to find out they aren’t isolated incidents. I will only be covering two issues here because they have actually affected me and are full fledged technical problems.

I can not for the life of me log onto the Aion official Website or Forums. I get an error saying that my login and password are incorrect. After going through the FAQ and 3 levels of support Customer Service has instructed me to delete my cookies. I did this at step one, thanks though NCSoft. I asked about this on my guild forums and was told that at one point even the NCSoft staff had issues logging into their site. (unconfirmed) I know this is not an issue with my PC or web browser. I use Microsoft IE at work and Firefox at home on two different computers with the same issue. I know this isn’t an in game issue, but your website is the first impression most people will have of your game.

My other issue, which seems to be far more common, can only be described as “rubber banding”. I will be kiting some NPC and as I run away I will occasionally warp back a few feet. If I’m running while a mob casts an ability on me, as soon as the ability lands I fly back to where I was at when the NPC started casting the ability. I’ve heard different rumors that this is caused by DSL connections (I have Cable) or from duel processors. It feels more like the client (my computer) communicating with the server properly.

I have a few other nitpicking issues but I’m going to save those for another day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Aion Update

I'm half way through 20. I've held off on moving to a new area because I want to finish off some group quests I have. So I have been focusing on crafting and farming while shouting 20 Ranger LFG Krall.

If tonight doesn't yield a group I'm just going to give up and move else where. I'm planning on doing a full Aion review when I hit 25. I figure since that's the half way point it would be a good time to reflect over the first half of the game. I'm planning on doing a 2 part post. Look for it early next week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crafting in Aion

I recently hit 20 on my Ranger in Aion… and I had considered writing about my experience from level 10 through 20 today but instead I want to write about crafting.

In all honesty I have had a secret passion for crafting since EverQuest. I had an enchanter with maxed Jewel Crafting and Cooking. In EverQuest 2 I spent many hours leveling up my cooking their too. In World of Warcraft I leveled Herbalism and Tailoring to max. In Warhammer Online I leveled Talisman Making and Apothecary to max. For some odd reason I tend to enjoy the idea of crafting in MMO games.

Crafting is a great way to get into the games economy on a consistent basis. You don’t have to wait for rare item drops to sell on an Auction House. You can spend a little time and always have something that should make you a profit. The problem is most games don’t go about making a crafting system for what most gamers intend to use it for.

In EverQuest Jewel Crafting enabled you to make the best rings in the game for a very long time. It lasted 2 expansions before being obsolete. Crafting was rather simple; combine the materials in some sort of container and you created an item. Since EverQuest MMO developers have tried to make crafting into its own mini game. In EverQuest 2 you had abilities to hit to counter possible failed crafting attempts. In Warhammer Online you had virtually endless possibilities of ingredients to combine into countless random items.

All of these crafting systems lacked 2 major factors. First they tried to make crafting fun. Now while I’m not opposed to making anything more fun in a MMO I believe one of the beauties of crafting in a MMO has always been the down time. I don’t like crafting systems that take as much work as killing a mob. To me it should be a relaxing mechanic within the game. I prefer systems that allow minimal concentration on my part to level up my crafting. That enables me to read, surf the internet, read blogs, or study up on quests I am planning on doing all while still accomplishing tasks within the game.

Second is that leveling up crafting is often a money sink where you can’t sell any of the crafted items until you max it out. You spend hours farming mats or shopping on the Auction House just to buy mats to create a worthless item, and in the name of a few skill points.

Aion has fixed both of these issues for me. In Aion I can queue up as many items as I want to craft, hit craft, and it will make that set amount without any more input from me. This allows me to do other things while crafting. I’ve been able to look up quests, research gear, and deal with guild issues all while still playing a portion of the game, crafting.

It is also fairly inexpensive thanks to Work Orders. Work Orders are essentially quests for your trade skill. The NPC tells you to make 8, 10, or 12 of whatever item and all the material can be bought from a nearby vendor. After completing the Work Order you earn some exp, Kinah (think gold) and a prize. The prize is often times a material for a craftable item to sell or a design to make something else new. While Work Orders don’t let me directly participate in Aion’s economy it still however rewards my work with some gold and design patterns so that I can craft items to sell.

I would be a much higher level in Aion if I wasn’t addicted to crafting, but I am. I spend every Kinah I can save on it. I’m leveling Alchemy in the hopes that it will net me the most income long term. I’m currently 139/199 and I believe the max in 450. I have a ways to go and I suspect it will cost quite a few million Kinah to get there. I only hope to make it back in time.

Aion’s crafting gets a 8/10 from me. It doesn’t try to over complicate anything and while being grindy, it doesn’t tie you down to the game while leveling it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And they rejoiced... and it was good.

When I was in Iraq we didn't get many TV stations. We had the Armed Forces Network which pretty much picked what we watched. I was lucky though, they often ran G4 Attack of the Show marathons.

When I got back I had G4 for all of 2 weeks before my cable company, Comcast, decided to make it a premium channel. Two weeks ago I bought a HD TV and along with it upgraded my cable service to include HD channels... along with those channels I got G4 back. Oh how I missed thee. It's one of the channels that speaks to me more than any other.

A Game of Thrones

Let’s see how to begin. Well when I was in Elementary school my school district in their infinite wisdom decided to put me in trial reading programs for my first 4 years. So in Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade I had a different method for learning reading. That being said I was illiterate until half way through 3rd grade. That may not sound bad but consider this, my 5 year old daughter in Kindergarten can already read better than I could in 2nd grade.

So as you can imagine I was never a big reader. I picked up a few of the nerd must reads over the years. Lord of the Rings namely and a few others. About 2 years ago I stumbled across the Horus Heresy and blew through all those books. Now I’m currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. I finished A Game of Thrones about a week ago.

I typically like to wait a few days after finishing a book before reading anything to have time to digest it. With that lull being done I also feel that it’s as good of time as any to write a review.

George R.R. Martin has a unique chapter style with these books. Each chapter is from the perspective of one of the main characters and no two consecutive chapters are the same character, though all the characters typically repeat in other chapters. It took about 100 pages to get use to that but then it felt natural. George R.R. Martin’s excellent writing style and interesting story telling floated me through that adjusting period easily.

A Game of Thrones is an interesting book in its self. I’m going to try and not give anything away but the majority of the book has subtle magic hints, with the primary focus being on your typical lords and knights struggling over control of the kingdom. The entire time I read the book I was nervous… it was interesting. At any time in this book you truly believe anyone can die. No matter how important someone may seem to be to the overall story line, they can die… and sometimes do. Entertainment media often struggles to find an attachment method between the viewer/reader and the main characters because it is nearly always assumed the good will triumph over evil. If I never care, nor fear, for the main characters lives I won’t be as engaged in the story as I otherwise would be.

A Game of Thrones is an excellent book. It does what most movies and book can’t do. It makes you fear for the main characters lives. That is a crucial point in making this book so good. Another key feature is that even the so called bad guys have redeeming qualities. One of the “bad guys” slowly grew to be one of my favorite characters in the book.

I have now started the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. It is thus far just as good and I look forward to seeing what George R.R. Martin has in store for me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zombie Fest!

Yesterday was Zombie-fest for me. I managed to squeeze in some time and scurry off the the local movie theater and watch Zombie Land. Great movie btw. Then I preordered two copies of Left 4 Dead 2. Now in a way I could leave this post at that and be happy, but then that wouldn’t be a very good post would it?

My only complaint about Left 4 Dead 2 is this should be an expansion, free or paid, not a full game. When Left 4 Dead first came out everyone assumed we would be getting piles and piles of map packs like Counter Strike and Team Fortress 2. Sadly we got none for 8 months. Valve finally released 2 of the campaign levels for Multiplayer and added a few new, yet short stages. It was disappointing.

Why then am I buying two Left 4 Dead 2 games? Well first I promised one of my soldiers if I didn’t deploy I would buy him the game. He is a full time student and thus broke all the time and couldn’t afford L4D before. Second, it will still be the best game for the next 4 months. Left 4 Dead gave me nights upon nights of entertainment. I’m looking forward to being in Ventrillo with 4 to 8 friends killing each other and zombies. I’m as much a zombie nut as I am a MMO nut.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Critics are WoW Fanboys

I understand the irony of one critic calling another critic a fanboy. Up until recently I believed that most bloggers I read and critics on website like tried to be as impartial as possible to new games with regards to our reigning MMO champion, World of Warcraft (aka WoW). After playing Aion for 10 levels I can already see how mistaken I was.

Over the past 3 months two things has been said about Aion. One is that it is polished, and another is that it is a WoW clone. Let start with polish; Aion is most defiantly polished. The game runs better than any MMO at launch I have ever played and rivals the current build of WoW in stability. Coming from 6 months of Warhammer directly into Aion is like night and day. Aion had been developed with A+ quality control. Enough about what we already knew though.

Is Aion a WoW clone? Maybe if the only MMO you have ever played is World of Warcraft. On the surface Aion feels a lot like WoW, but then one could say it feels like every contemporary MMO. (EQ2, DAoC, WAR, LotR and yes WoW) However I’ve always prided myself on trying as many MMO’s as possible, I am a MMO fanboy after all.

I can say with all my heart, Aion is not a WoW clone. If you believe Aion is a WoW clone then every MMO that has been made including the ones before WoW’s release are WoW clones. Personally that seems absurd. I don’t want to compare Aion to any game, but for every feature that looks like it has come from WoW I have found 10 that came from EverQuest 2.

I think World of Warcraft's impact on MMO gaming has surpassed what any expected. Along with its great success come great downfalls. Every game from here on out will be compared directly to WoW… even if another MMO would be a better comparison

Thursday, October 1, 2009

MMO Segregation

Lately more and more bloggers and media sites have been trying to define and categorize the MMORPG genre. In a way I can understand. The desire to understand the types of games we love could potentially lead to a better understanding of making better games. However the more I think about it, the more I can’t help but wonder… what’s in a name?

Shakespeare once wrote “"What's in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other name would smell as sweet." This is a common phrase and I think it holds more ground here, in the hot bed of MMO defining discussions than in some places I’ve read it. No matter what World of Warcraft, Aion, or Warhammer Online are labeled as, they are still games that people enjoy to play. This new found zeal of the gaming community to accurately label the MMO genre seems misplaced.

I can’t help but think back to the ongoing Hardcore gamer versus Casual gamer debates that have been going on since the dawn of MMO gaming. Do we really need to define ourselves, our games, or our play style to make a game more enjoyable. Isn’t simply being “fun” enough anymore? I can’t help but wonder that with labels comes the segregation of games into genres. Do World of Warcraft and Darkfall really need to be in separate categories for either to be successful? In the words of Rodney King “can we all get along?”