Friday, December 31, 2010

The best in gaming for 2010

Just a simple list of my favorite games over the past year. I think I’ve already done one but it doesn’t hurt to do another one.

Favorite MMO: World of Warcraft
That really shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s the only one that is polished and no matter how old it may be the classes are just fun to play and the 5 man content is always a blast.

Favorite FPS: Modern Warfare 2
I’m not a huge First Person Shooter person but let’s face it, MW2 is a good game. I haven’t gotten Black Ops yet and I’m not sure if I will, but MW2 was a good game for what it wanted to be. I had hoped it was a more tactical shooter, ala Rainbow Six, but because I hoped it was something it wasn’t doesn’t mean it was a bad game.

Favorite RTS: StarCraft 2
Really, there was any doubt? By far the best done Real Time Strategy game I’ve ever played. I wish I wasn’t having so much fun in WoW so I could play it more.

Favorite Mobile Game: Angry Birds
It’s simple, but amazing. You shoot birds with a slingshot at pigs. It has helped me kill so much time I can’t thank it enough.

Favorite Facebook Game: Castle Age
I can’t believe I’m listing Facebook games but I have to, I’ve been playing Castle Age for probably 7 months or more now. It’s just a fun time sink.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A BIG brick wall.

My wall; I have found and hit my wall yet again. I seem to have a wall when playing World of Warcraft that shows its ugly head whenever I reach outlands. The problem this time is that I love my class and the game, but I want to skip Outlands as a whole. My skinning is already high enough to gather in Northrend and my Mining isn’t far behind.

In actuality I’ve found a new love for my Druid, tanking almost feels like playing an Enchanter in EverQuest. For me to attach such a lofty comparison really says a lot about that class. I played a Warrior alt at 70 during The Burning Crusade and never truly cared for it. I had so many abilities I always seemed to have trouble knowing what to use and when in order to keep threat on all the mobs during a large pull, no such issues with my druid. I seem to have threat more or less figured out so now I get to happily switch from one mob to the next ensuring the casters take no damage. (screw those pesky overzealous melee DPS) I feel like I’m doing crowd control… well in reality I am.

I think I’m a decent tank, but I’m sure everyone thinks they are decent at their class they play. Coming from primarily a healer background though I have a very good sense of healing awareness and how/when they will pull threat. I’ve always know that playing a variety of classes and roles in WoW will always make you a better player overall but I think it is really starting to show now. So all of this boils down to that I think a tanking Druid is my calling.

Back to the wall, simply put I’m tired of leveling. I did dungeons and quest for the last 60 levels, primarily quests. I hate questing in Outlands, and since it didn’t get revamped with The Shattering, there is no reason too. Thus I will be dungeon farming. It just isn’t going fast enough though. I think it is probably going to take me 2 or 3 weeks to fight my way to 70. I have Gran Turismo 5 so it has been calling to me any time the grind its… well grindy.

A Team... Daddy Team?

The other night in guild chat the discussion of potential start times for raids came up. I have played WoW with the same guild for 4 years now and we have always started raids around 5:30PM PST sometimes 6:00PM. My kids don’t go to bed until 7:00PM and I decided long ago I wouldn’t play video games while they were a work, that rule has changed a bit, but I refuse to commit to a raid while my kids are awake.

So the discussion went on for about a minute when I realized that 4 people were pushing for a post 7:00PM start time. The reason? They have kids too. In the last 12 months more and more of my friends have gotten engaged, married or had kids; they are growing up. I chimed in immediately. Our guild is planning on only running 10 man content, so having 5 people committing to a later start time was a lot. The single people wanted to start at 5:30, with good reason. The content is still hard and we have a few people that live in the Midwest and two people who live on the East Coast, starting earlier allows us to run later.

As it stands I think raids will end up starting at 6:00 but we nearly have enough Dads to start a Daddy group. So our guild may very well end up running 2 raid groups a week… not the A Team and the B Team, but the parents and the non parents. My guild is finally catching up to my life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now listen here younglings!

I’m a first generation MMO player. What that means is that I played MMOs when they first came out so I consider myself one of the founding fathers of the MMO community. Be the current MMO gaming community a good thing or a bad thing, I in a way helped to shape it. Everyone likes to think they are special or important, and while I know that isn’t the case most the time, it is nice to think that out of the first hundred thousand people to play EverQuest, I was one of them. That would probably equate to less than 1% of the current MMO market, but everything had to start somewhere. When I first started playing EverQuest I was 17 years old and only going to school for 3 hours a day for my senior year in High School, time was in abundance. Today things are much different, I’m an adult and a parent.

I’ve had the honor of already experiencing every phase of a gaming play schedule and I’m not even 30 yet. I have played for 18 hours a day for weeks on end and I have played for less than 4 hours a week for periods of time… even months where I simply couldn’t play games. I believe I have a unique outlook on the differences in the social obligations and requirements for every range of casual to hardcore gamer.

I feel like that old man now when I hear people claim to be in a “Hardcore” guild. I’m that old grandpa telling his grandkids that he used to walk up hill 5 miles in snow to get to school. While I know that isn’t the case, the feeling is still the same. You aren’t Hardcore by my standards. Games today are not nearly as time consuming or logistically difficult as they were back in my day, yes I said it “my day” deal with it. I don’t want to go off on a tangent about how easy you younglings have it, that isn’t the point. I will just say that to raid at a high level in EverQuest took exponentially more time and planning than it does in World of Warcraft today.

I’ve also had the misfortune of having my gaming time cut to a few hours a week in the past. When you realize that it is costing you more per minute to play a MMO than it would to go to the movies, because of a limited play time, you know you’ve reached the peak of casual MMO gaming. It’s difficult to accomplish anything and coming from a super hardcore background it was a bit of an ego check. While I did enjoy my time playing it took some time to learn to appreciate the game for what I was able to do with it, a lot of time actually. I had to come to terms with not being able to raid and that I would forever be that “noob” I once looked down upon.

What does all this mean? Well I think it explains why I’m so “middle of the road” on various MMO topics. I’ve experienced both sides of the coin in many different MMOs. I can truly see the other person’s perspective because I have lived it. I also think that over the next 10 years we will see more and more gamers having to come to terms with what I already have, that is assuming they want to function in society. You can’t play video games 8 to 10 hours a day and still maintain a healthy social life outside of virtual space, a love life, and a career. Don’t get me wrong, my online friends ARE my friends. I am as close to them as I am anyone and I would never be so ignorant to say those relationships aren’t real. What I am saying is that you must have relationships outside of virtual space if you are to succeed and function at the rest of your life.

The gaming community and blogging sphere are going to slowly learn this over the next few years, at least the vocal minority will. I think Blizzard already realizes that the vast majority of their player base is on some sort of limited play schedule, thus they have made the end game more approachable for everyone. Right now I’m just one voice in a sea of bloggers shouting their opinions. I was a first generation MMO blogger and I will be playing them for many generations to come.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Proactive Game Development

While Blizzard normally has the golden touch with everything they do; I have always felt they have lacked in one aspect of game development. That aspect is accurately predicting the community’s reaction to game changes and how it affects their games as a whole, specifically World of Warcraft. Now I’m not going to say Blizzard has no understanding of what drives their gamers, but it often feels like their decisions are made on a reactionary basis rather than a proactive one.

Before I go any further I want to tip my hat to Blizzard on two game features that they accurately predicted the outcome of, Dungeon Finder and Achievements. The Dungeon Finder was designed with the intent to get people in dungeons and groups faster, thus resulting in a more social experience. It succeeded. Granted Dungeon Finder has its draw backs but overall the predicted outcome matched the actual community reaction. The second kudos for Blizzard would be Achievements. Not since the gear grind has there been a better system to keep people playing when they have nothing else to actively do. These are the two obvious game changes Blizzard has made where they accurately predicted how their community would react to them.

Now while Blizzard may have accurately guessed how their community would react to both of these features, even the creation of these features was in a way reactionary themselves. For years people have had idle time on their hands in a MMO and for years people have tried to find ways to fill those gaps. In EverQuest we use to take a 5 man group and attempt to clear old raid content just for the challenge. Even in WoW we would do classic raid dungeons well into The Burning Crusade expansion just to see something different. Other games and gaming communities have had achievement systems for years now; one just has to look at Xbox Live or Steam to see how popular they are. In a way this was a reactionary decision by Blizzard to add these features.

Blizzard isn’t the only developer who suffers from a lack of understanding of what their consumers really want. To be fair though a lot of people who play video games don’t know what they want until it is presented to them. Mythic created Warhammer Online and assumed they had created the next great thing. The problem… well one of the problems… that WAR had was that the development team didn’t predict how the mass market would react to game features. The result was unbalanced armies and instant scenario grinding, which was a major death blow to the entire game. I have a major fear that Star Wars the Old Republic will fall victim to this with their 4th Pillar.

It isn’t hard to understand how gamers are going to react to features and changes as long as you are willing to set your own preferences aside. Your community is one massive entity. They are extremely susceptible to peer pressure and will always fall victim to the land slide effect. As a small portion of your community discovers one thing is better, easier, faster, or more efficient than the rest will soon discover that and they will all flock to it. Ignore why your community tells you they play your game and look at how they really react to it. They can claim they want an open sandbox world, but while playing if they just follow your leveling progression from one quest hub to another you can assume that they don’t want just any sandbox world. They want one that is easy to access and easy to follow.

In college I took a few Sociology and Psychology classes, actually my first major was Cultural Anthropology, and it is very easy to manipulate a group of people to achieve your desired outcome. Talking to the group, or community in a video games case, doesn’t typically result in accurate information because people lie. Watching their reactions is the only accurate source of information. The MMO community has been around for over 10 years now and the video game community for nearly 30 years. There is enough existing data and market trends to predict how communities will react without asking them, as long as you know the signs to look for.

In my very first Sociology class when I was in High School we did an experiment. We gathered up about 100 seniors and had them all go out and buy the same cheap pair of pants. The hypothesis was that the lower class men would see all the seniors wearing them and do the same. Guess what, it worked. After 30 days we had found out that approximately 40% of the lower class men had gone out and purchased the pants. We didn’t ask them if they would, we knew based on cultural precedence that they would copy the people they thought were “cool”.

The point is that developers aren’t predicting what the community really wants. They are making a game they think the community wants based on their feedback and not market trends. The developers are valuing their own preferences over what is already successful. Something Agent Kay said in Men in Black has always stuck with me; “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” You have to treat your community as one entity who will almost always take the path of least resistance.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm writing again.

I don't mean blogging either. I mean I'm actually starting to write fiction again. It has been years since I have written anything and the process to start is a bit daunting. I want to go into this project with as much preperation and thought as possible in the hopes that it will see me through those dry spells.

My greatest inspiration has always been trailers and the backs of book jackets. The reason is you get just enough information about the story to let your imagination continue it. So I've been kicking around a few ideas lately and I think I finally have one that I'm ready to jump on.

My belief is that if I can create a story I enjoy then I should be able to get it on paper. Getting the ideas on paper is key, I can always revise it into a more readable piece later.

Friday, December 24, 2010


That is all. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Questing King Again

What has happened before… will happen again… and it has. Questing from level 1-60 is now faster than using Dungeon Finder and grinding out levels there. The balance of power has shifted back to single player content while you level. That doesn’t mean dungeon experience has been reduced, if anything with the way the dungeons are now streamlined it is better; it is just that questing rewards exp much MUCH faster.

I sort of suspected this a few days ago. A couple friends who hate using Dungeon Finder pre Outlands leveled up by quests only and have since reached level 60. Granted they play more than me but I don’t think they play enough to justify doubling my level in half the time it took me to get there.

So last night, like I do every night, I queued up as Tank for a dungeon and got a one instantly. It was an amazing group too, on the first pull the Priest said “pull 5 mobs and come back here” I replied with “you understand Bear tanks have bad AE threat at this level”. I pulled 5 mobs, and we destroyed them. The entire run went that way. The group was so good that we stuck together for 3 more instance, actually clearing past the “finish” point in one where we were rewarded the Exp and bag of helpful goods. I got about 1 1/2 levels.

I was a little tired and stressed from the chain pulling and constant race for threat, so I decided to head out to try some quests. With in 1 hour I got 3 levels, got my skinning up another 50 points and my mining up 20. I don’t want to say this is the same for everyone but I think that unless you really love dungeon grinding you should just level by questing. I didn’t use any guides or walkthroughs. I went to one of the boards in all the capital cities and picked one of the two zones it recommended. Nothing at all special.

In another 3 months I think this will be common knowledge and more people will quest than don’t. As it stands though the questing zones are very empty considering most have been completely redone. I was sure there would be more people trying out the new old world, but I guess they are focusing on their level 85 characters and preparing them for 10/25 man content.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What to look for in 2011!? Lets see how I do.

Diablo 3 WILL launch or heaven help me there will be hell to pay. Based on a long series of alpha numeric algorithms my chimp slaves have been running it is likely that Diablo 3 will launch late summer early fall of next year, 2011.

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm will probably… launch at the very end of 2011 maybe Spring of 2012.

Star Wars the Old Republic will launch around June or July of 2011. It will sell 1.2 million copies then 3 months after launch it will stabilize at 500k subs. A solid number but not nearly what they hoped for.

Borderlands 2 will be announced, and the world will rejoice.

Sony and Microsoft will… NOT announce their next generation consoles yet. That will happen in 2012. With the Move and Kinect just coming out they are going to try and sell as many of the current systems as possible.

Nintendo WILL announce their next generation console. It will have a motion capture eye like the Kinect.

Another Call of Duty will be announced, perhaps launched and will again sell 5 million copies to fat kids dressed like soldiers.

Blizzard will confirm everything I’ve said about their new MMO Titan… because I’m amazing.

The Warhammer 40K MMO will be delayed until 2012. I will get very excited about it then be completely let down.

The WoW movie will have a trailer at Blizzcon which will be the cause the world’s biggest simultaneous nerdgasim. On second thought I don't think this will happen until 2012.

10 guesses... I bet I get 7 right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The mediocrity is killing me

I’ve known that I’m a little bit of an “Elitist” when it comes to MMOs and video games in general. Back in EverQuest I was the Enchanter Class Leader, an officer, and had a chair on the loot council in one of the biggest raiding guilds. I understand not everyone is equally good at MMOs though, and in a way I’ve forced myself to accept that. I will accept someone who doesn’t know how to do something, as long as they show the potential to learn it. In all honesty compared to most random people I’ve met in MMOs I think that is very considerate of me. I know I’m an elitist though and I still, to this day, position myself into roles where I can be an elitist. I play support classes because they are typically in high demand allowing you to be a prima donna elitist.

Like I said I played an Enchanter in EQ. When I first started playing World of Warcraft I made a Holy Priest and I had a Resto Shaman alt; now I’m making a Druid to tank with. I put myself in positions where I have the ability to be elitist and I think the throngs of mediocre gamers are starting to drag me down. As a tank I rely on the competence of the rest of the group in order to properly execute my job, more so than as a healer. While someone who just does low damage often times won’t get in my way, someone who is over zealous will often times cause extra work and result in me making a mistake… which then leads to the group dying.

I’ve been throwing tantrums in Ventrilo this past week over the groups I’ve been in. One DPS after another keeps focusing down the off target or attacking before I ever get to the mob. I ask them to stop, sometimes they do sometimes they criticize my tanking abilities. I’m okay with low DPS, as a Feral Druid I’m typically top 2 for the group. What I tend to blow up about is when the DPS completely disregards the Healer and the Tank. I’ve started kicking DPS, even if they are high, or just leaving the group if it is too early to kick someone. This only really occurs when I’m playing a tank, because it only matters to me when I’m tanking.

When I leveled a Warlock I would just assist or AE everything down until I pulled agro, then I’d cut it back a bit. I didn’t really have to pay attention and it was very easy. Healing as a Holy Priest or a Resto Shaman isn’t much harder… actually I think it is easier. All I have to do is follow the tank and keep everyone alive. Mobs are a none issue to me. I don’t get frustrated unless a DPS is being a major dill hole, in which case I would kick him… but as a tank I can’t take it. Maybe I need thicker skin if I’m going to play a tank. To be honest though the insults don’t bother me because I often leave a bad group without ever saying a word.

I just can’t stand people who don’t try when I try so hard. I play WoW to have fun, which means actually playing the game. I don’t play it when I’m not having fun out of some sense of obligation. So when I get stuck in a group with people who don’t try, and I try so hard, I get mad. I get mad at having to carry the group and knowing that they don’t really care about me or anyone else in the group.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What I’m up to?

Well I’m back to World of Warcraft and loving it… for the most part. I have a bone to pick but I can’t properly put my thoughts into words yet, so that will wait. Prior to the launch of Cataclysm I made a Draeni Shaman with the intent of being Enhancement at max level. The dungeon finder takes some time to locate a group as a DPS character though so I ended up leveling mainly as Resto, which isn’t bad. Actually healing is very easy. Currently my Shaman is level 67 but I’ve stopped playing her.

When Cataclysm came out I spec’d my Priest into Shadow and started doing some quests. While I normally hate Shadow I found it to be… not bad. I didn’t love it but it wasn’t horrible. I just wasn’t enjoying playing my Priest though. I had also made a Worgen Druid named Team Jacob… with some X’s thrown in here and there to make it look really stupid. The thing is I fell in love with tanking as Feral. I’ve abandoned my other two characters to start leveling my Druid now. I haven’t had much time to play lately so he is only level 36 but I really do love the Druid class. I think it will also fit with my play schedule, as a Druid can be any archetype in the game it will allow me to get into guild raids easier… as I can fill in any spot.

Other games? Not many. I am hoping to get Gran Turismo 5 for Christmas. I’ve been playing Castle Age on Facebook, but I’m not sure that counts. I’ve also been playing Angry Birds on my iPod Touch.

Friday, December 17, 2010


What is Titan? Really I don’t think it takes up that much time to say what Titan will be. Titan will be a MMOFPS with the intellectual property being inspired (aka loosely copied) from Halo.

Why? Halo redefined First Person Shooters as much as Duke Nukem did. People said you couldn’t make a good FPS on a console and they proved them wrong. The IP has spanned several sequels and a prequel. With the top one day sales of a video game being topped by Call of Duty, a FPS game, it is a solid assumption that there is a very large and very healthy FPS market.

Why not a Starcraft MMO? Anything taken from any of their very popular existing works and made into a MMO threatens to cannibalize World of Warcraft. Starcraft is essentially Warcraft in space so a MMO based on Starcraft would just be WoW in space and would receive a lot of critical feedback based solely on that. As it stands now Starcraft is praised as the best RTS game of all time and WoW is praised as the best MMO of all time, there seems to be little reason to try and cross those lines.

The final catch, which I don’t think most people will realize until Blizzard waves it in front of their faces, is that Titan will be heavily tied into a Social Networking site. With the rise of Facebook and Zynga games it is a market Blizzard would be stupid to not try and enter.

I could be completely wrong though. For awhile I had considered a post apocalyptic MMO like Fallout or Borderlands. The reason I’ve written those off is that a post apocalyptic game would attract a smaller market than Sci-Fi.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What does the future hold for Video Games?

What is the future of gaming? Considering any aspect of your life it is always better to look into the future than focus on the present. I could comment on what Blizzard has done with WoW or how Call of Duty is redefining first person shooters, but that is today. What about next year, or say in five years from now. Obviously to make any sort of educated guess about the future one must first consider the past and present.

I think we are going to slowly see a blending of the genres. As each new game comes out they are going to “borrow” a feature from another extremely popular game in a different genre. You can already see it today with Call of Duty having levels and different guns, much like items in a RPG. What does this mean for the gamers? Well it will probably be a good thing in all honesty. Developers have been sticking to a rigid feature list for their genre for so long we are… were beginning to stagnant in game innovation. It’s easier to copy a winning formula than write your own. As the genres merge we should, hopefully, see the best features from each style of game rise to the top. Imagine taking the best features… or game mechanics… from your favorite fighting game, action game, and first person shooter game then combining them in a logical, and fun, manner.

Here is the catch though. You can’t just say, “Hey Bob! Lets add combos like in Killer Instinct to our Sci-Fi shooter then let them dress up in pink dresses to get the girls on board.” (Bob just seems like a good designer name) That won’t work. You must adhere to some sort of logical cohesion prior to arbitrarily assigning game features. This is where game designers of TODAY are failing. They see a good idea and they try to take it. Rather than figuring out why said feature works they simply copy it and when it fails blame it on something else. You can’t copy part of an equation and still expect it to work.

This is why certain game developers are continuing to prosper and grow while others barely get a start. They understand that every part of the equation is equally important. You can in fact reach the same desired goal of having pink dresses in a game without necessarily having pink dresses. Understanding the psychology behind the decisions and why they work is key. I’m honestly shocked more developers don’t employ sociologist and psychologist to assist with game development.

It will take us at least 5 years but in that time we will see more and more games sharing key features. We will see more bloggers and video game websites struggle to define new games. The older gamers, including me, will be irate at having lost our way… but in the end games will get better. They will get better or people won’t buy them.

That being said the need for genre specific games won’t go away. The player base will diminish and any game that isn’t a homogenized cross genre game will be labeled “niche” regardless of the amount of success.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blizzard masters another's idea again

Good old Tobold writes what I think again:

You know I thought about this a few days ago and then Tobold goes and makes a post about it. Blizzard has this amazing ability to take any good idea and implement it faster and better than a game that started claiming the idea as their great new innovation. It happened with Warhammer Online’s queue for PvP anywhere/achievements and now it’s the 4th Pillar. This is why WoW will not be toppled by any one game, but it can only hoped to be chipped away at slowly… or perhaps replaced by this so called “Titan”.

Another fun thing about Blizzard is how they can destroy the blogging communities’ sense of self. Look at Keen for example. He has been one of the louder advocates for EQ/UO/DAoC open world style games. He then comes out a week after Cataclysm and says the Goblin starter quest, which is extremely linear, is the best quests in any game ever.

Blizzard creates a Dungeon Finder which makes it EASIER to play with other gamers and Tobold’s own readers say that WoW is just a single player online game now. WoW is much easier to play and group with other people now. In Vanilla WoW getting in raids was hard and most raiding guilds were elitist… but also the gate keepers to all the raiding content. Even now people are starting to PUG the new raiding content and PUG raids were a very common thing in WotLK. Being a part of the MMO is easier now than it was 4 years ago, yet people claim WoW is a single player online game.

The community is dead? Blizzard creates a Guild system which encourages you to stay in one guild, rather than hopping from guild to guild. Since the raid content isn’t the driving force for keeping guilds together they created other means to do it. Some of the higher level guild rewards are pretty cool.

The hypocrisy of the blogging community amazes me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I'm up too

So what have I been up to? I stopped playing Final Fantasy 14, the game was just to buggy. The controls, classes, and combat were fine in my opinion… when they worked. I don’t hold a grudge against Square Enix though; they just aren’t my favorite developer anymore. For a long time Square was my Golden Goose.

I went back to World of Warcraft. It just made sense since I was going to Blizzcon. I’m having a lot of fun in WoW now but I think I’m starting to hit a wall. I’m level 48 and the dungeons are just so boring. I know once I get 58 and the Outlands it gets better but I’m having a hard time making that sprint for those 10 levels.

I have also been playing a handful of StarCraft 2 games a week. I’m really bad now. I know what I’m supposed to do but my fingers just don’t move confidently to where they need to. It’s frustrating to know what you want and need to do and not being able to physically carry it out. I’m sure if I started playing more it would all come back in a week or so but I just don’t want to commit the time right now.

One of my friends isn’t interested in WoW until the expansion and doesn’t have a lot of new games so we decided to start up new characters in Bordlerlands. I’m a Soldier and he is a Tank. I forgot how simple and fun the game was. We are probably going to play 2-3 times a week… maybe less.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Final Fantasy... not a review

Final Fantasy is getting no shortage of coverage from me. If I was only as famous as Tobold it would matter… Anyways here is where I stand. I found a “patch”, it’s a patch not a hack, that changes how the mouse pointer operates. When you use the stock game interface the mouse has some sort of software lag; not sure of the technical specifics behind it. The bottom line is the mouse pointer is very sluggish and unresponsive. This patch lets your computer hardware take over the mouse pointer operation thus resulting in near perfect mouse control.

The controls for Final Fantasy are… unnatural. I won’t call them bad because I don’t think they are necessarily bad. The controls feel very logical for a console game but considering we are on a PC that has been a point of contention for most gamers trying out Final Fantasy XIV. I guess I’m more forgiving than most. When I first logged on to FFXIV and heard how hard the controls were I didn’t look at it as a handicap, I looked at it as a challenge. I spent 30 minutes messing around with the controls, moving my character, navigating the menus, and checking hotkeys. After the 30 minutes I could control my character well enough to do anything I needed to do.

It’s strange, everyone keeps rattling their blogger cages screaming for something that isn’t a WoW Clone and when they get a new UI that takes some time to learn they scream that the system isn’t intuitive. As a long time MMO gamer, not willing to call myself old yet, I can’t help but notice the similiarties between this and when I went from EverQuest to World of Warcraft. The controls were foreign, unnatural, and yet I learned them. Yes FFXIV’s controls may not be an evolutionary step forward in UI design but that doesn’t mean it’s a step backwards either.

My point of contention with FFXIV… lag. I’m not sure if it’s my computer or the server I’m trying to connect to. I honestly feel it’s both. My computer did fairly poorly on Square Enix’s benchmark test. I can’t turn the graphics up very high without destroying my frame rate and causing a lot of screen tearing… the more I think about it the more I think the majority of my issues are from my computer. I’m not sure if I can handle anything more than the starting areas… and honestly I can’t really handle those at the moment. I know my computer needs an update, the processor is 4 years old and it wasn’t top of the line when I bought it. I’m short on funds right now though and can’t afford the $500 or so it would take for an upgrade.

Write your own Quest Contest!

I had a cool idea, write your own quest. So if anyone is reading this lets have some fun. Write your own quest, or quest chain. It can be as detailed as you want. Try to have a little story to it and maybe some quest dialog. I’ll post mine tomorrow.

The winner will be a featured post... so I mean that's worth trying for right?...RIGHT!?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Popular means good... the end.

You know the more I think about it the more I can't help but think there is a slight fallacy to the argument that just because it's popular doesn't mean it's good. It's often used to describe some aspect or overall ideology of a MMO.

I say that if something is popular, then it is good. The only caveat being you may not like it. For example I don’t like World of Warcraft that much but it’s widely popular around the world. I prefer the Warhammer Online. Does this mean that everyone who likes WoW is somehow only caught up in viral marketing of its popularity or do they genuinely think WoW is a good game? Well more than likely compared to the competition they feel WoW is the best game for them. For one reason or another… or one feature or another WoW offers them something they think is “good”. Me on the other hand I don’t think those features are good. However that doesn’t mean WoW isn’t good.

I think a great example (note not an analogy) is the Sundance Movie Festival. A lot of great movies come out of there that barely make enough to cover the cost of production. The reason is that a lot of people don’t want “those” types of movies. They don’t want something artsy or extremely surreal and thoughtful. They want simple escapism.

I think that is where the misconception occurs. People think that because WoW is popular and simple it is only popular due to viral marketing. While that may be a portion of the case it remains popular by retaining those subscriptions. That means every gamer that plays feels that WoW is BETTER than every other MMO on the market because they remain with WoW for one reason or another. Sure they may make excuses why they still play WoW but in the end they still play WoW.

What does that mean? WoW is popular because it’s good to the most people. Warhammer Online is good to a much smaller group of people.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Schadenfreude and the delusional gamer

I’m perpetually in the middle ground. Very rarely do I get so caught up in my opinion or beliefs that I can’t on some small level understand someone else’s opposing beliefs. The problem where I do experience this sort of fanaticism is when I am confronted with incidents of schadenfreude. I understand some games won’t be good. The combat can be unresponsive, sure that could be game breaking for you. The User Interface could be unintuitive, again reasonable to complain about. You don’t like the graphics, the classes, the IP, what have you? I’m fine with that.

What I’m not okay with is hating a game for being something different. Just because it’s made in the East doesn’t automatically doom it to failure in the category of “Asian grinder”. When Warhammer Online was in beta our guild was talking about it. Two members who had not played the beta kept posting in the Warhammer thread that the game would suck and that it was a WoW Clone. I constantly edited out the vulgarity and had to constantly send them messages. It was okay to not like the game, but you can’t say it sucks without trying it. You can see the graphics are unappealing or the IP doesn’t interest you, but you can’t comment on game play if you never played it. I was called fascist for it. I thought it was fair. The fact that they hated Warhammer Online so much drove me to greater heights of defending it. It actually led to my denial of how bad… buggy the game was. (For the record it was a good game with an unfathomable amount of bugs)

This brings us to the present. I’ve been very on the fence with Final Fantasy 14. I’ve done my best not to get excited about it. I’ve heard many bad things from friends who have been in beta. However on a Facebook thread, all my gaming friends have a group, someone start posting about how bad it would be because it was an “Asian grinder”. He hasn’t even played it yet. This led me to ALMOST reply back defending the game… wait I think I will…

Okay back. I didn’t defend the game but defended grinders. That’s what gets me though; because this game isn’t what they are use to its automatically black listed. It’s a Final Fantasy game, there is going to be some form of grinding. No scratch that, it’s a MMO that hasn’t been our for 5+ years, it has to have grinding.

People look at World of Warcraft today and think, leveling is so fast and smooth every MMO should be like this. They seem to overlook the fact that WoW has been out for 5 years and everyone has already experienced that early content. That’s why Blizzard is about to revamp all of the pre-50 content. World of Warcraft has a lot of content at all levels. It has had 5 years of release to aquire this content. They can afford to speed people through low levels without worrying about people getting bored. New MMOs can’t do that. Imagine if Vanilla WoW had the leveling speed it does today. Imagine the complaints people would have had about the lack of content or the ease of it. The only reason people don’t complain that leveling is to easy in WoW is because they have other things to do.

I’m smart enough not to blame Blizzard for this. It’s the gamers who are making the judgments. I really think that either the mentality of these people needs to change or they will never find another TRUE MMO enjoyable. They will only find happiness in short instant action games. WoW is great at letting the casual gamer with no time do something. However that has caused the WoW gamer to forget what a MMO starts out like. They don’t remember the grind. They don’t remember the bugs. The only know the now.

This seems off topic from what I meant to write about. Bottom line is I can’t stand people who want things to fail because they are different. I can’t stand people who don’t keep an open mind. I think FF14 is going to suck but I’m still going to try it. Not because I blog, I don’t write nearly enough to be called a blogger, but because I’m a gamer who loves MMOs.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

FF14 Honeymoon... is it worth it?

I’ve wanted to blog lately, which is nice, but I’ve actually been busy. Oddly enough my free time at home is very limited so unless work is slow I don’t blog. Work is normally slow, as I work in the IT field, so it often leaves me time to blog and do school work. (I’m taking online courses for a BA)

I’ve been starting to follow Final Fantasy XIV more. I always had half an eye on it and an ear out for when it would launch and if it had an open beta. Well it does. The problem is no one can seem to get in the beta, so I’m waiting in line like everyone else. No big deal though, this post isn’t a bitch fest.

What I started thinking about, and what got me excited about FF14, is the Honeymoon Phase. With every MMO you start to play there is this brief moment of awe during the first few weeks. It is often called the Honeymoon Phase because like in a relationship, you ignore all the negatives and just enjoy the wondrous newness. (Side note I was watching the History of Sex last night on History and the Honeymoon wasn’t always as fondly regarded as it is today)

No matter how bad a game, well almost, the Honeymoon Phase still exists. It’s the explorer in us. We get to discover the new UI, how to control your character, interact with people. You get to explore a new starting city and combat system and more often than not you get to fight new kinds of monsters… or rodents. The only MMO that I did not play for at least a month was EVE, and that was partially because it was a free trial and that it was simply too complicated to ever reach the Honeymoon Phase.

So the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I should just preorder FF14. I currently haven’t preordered it for a few reasons. One being I’m still playing StarCraft 2 every night, another is my computer failed the bench mark test; the biggest though is I haven’t heard anything good about it from friends in the beta. However I got to thinking, if I know I will have a Honeymoon with it, I may as well pick it up.

Now the cost benefit analysis. FF14 will cost $49.99 to buy, so roughly $54 after taxes. 1 Monthly fee at roughly $15 will get me 2 months of play time. So for $70 I can play for 60 days, that is $35 a month or roughly $1.16 a day. I average a 3 hour play time 7 days a week so that turns into $0.38 an hour. Realistically I would probably get tired of it by the end of October but then re-subscribe next year.

In a little over a week I’m going to be in a class for 30 days for the Military. I’m going to stay at my Mom’s so I don’t have to drive 1 ½ hours every day and I’m planning on taking my computer. We will see how bored I get with SC2 while I’m there. Right now I think it’s 50/50 on me buying FF14 but time will tell.

Friday, August 27, 2010


So Square Enix decided to make a feature to encourage people to play the various classes available. In Final Fantasy 14 your character has 4 classes he/she can switch between. So if your group needs a melee dps/tank of some sort you can be one, switch to a healer or switch to a trade profession.

It's actually a very good idea. The bad idea comes at forcing people... no punishing people for not playing all 4 classes. SE has created a feature that results in reduced EXP after a certain amount of playtime UNLESS you change classes. This is an example of using the stick and not the carrot to entice your consumers.

It's a horrible idea. Right now if you play over 8 hours in one week your EXP starts to drop for that class. One of my friends said it best, that even if it was 8 hours a day I would feel cheated. I've honestly heard nothing good about Final Fantasy 14 from my friends in the beta. The only positive thing has been "it's Final Fantasy" and I don't know if that is going to be enough.

I was really excited about Final Fantasy 14. I missed the boat on Final Fantasy 11 so I was really excited to play a MMO made by Square Enix. I can't say for sure that I wont buy it, but it is looking more and more like I wont. I have numerous reasons not to buy FF14 and none to buy it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oh how I want Grey Knight socks...

I really really want to say something about the Warhammer 40K MMO, I just don’t know what. The Imperium of Man was just announced as a playable race. That wasn’t really an announcement as much as telling us what we already knew. You can’t really have a 40K MMO without the ever blundering human race inciting war across the galaxy simply by the very existence.

I’m trying to keep it off my radar, in the hopes that it turns out good. For some reason I never pay attention to WoW news and Blizzard keeps turning out good expansions but any time I watch any other MMO, be it expansion, patch, or release they turn out like crap. I guess I’m like the baseball fan who wears the same socks during the World Series; pointless superstition but hey… you never know.

Other than that I expect to pick up Final Fantasy 14 when it comes up and Cataclysm when it comes out. I should also get some time next month to *fingers crossed* beat Final Fantasy 13. I've also had an off and on thing with Warhammer Online the past few months. Right now it's off... if FF14 doesn't work out it will be on again soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gaming Value

Oh Penny Arcade, thank you for giving me something to talk about. Recently Penny Arcade posted a comic comparing buying a used video game to pirating one. Whether that is an accurate comparison or not isn’t what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about value.

When Modern Warfare 2 came out I didn’t buy the game. It wasn’t because of the lack of dedicated servers or the controversial Airport level. It was because I didn’t think I would play the game enough to pay $60 for it. The game has approximately 10 hours of single player game play and I’m not a huge first person shooter guy so I would only play it online a limited amount. Over a 3 year period I’m sure I would have got $60 worth of entertainment out of it, but why pay $60 if I wasn’t going to get that enjoyment relatively soon. I wanted an entertainment value return sooner than 3 years.

You know what I did? I waited until Steam had Modern Warfare 2 on sale for $40 then bought it. To me that was a fair price for getting the game relatively close to release for the amount of play I assumed I would get out of it. Since then I’ve played the single player for about 4 hours, no I haven’t beat it, and about 12 hours of online. That comes out to about $3.75 an hour so far… still not really worth it. That’s okay though, I have the game and I can play it in the future if I get the urge, and I’m sure I will. The great thing is that it will never get MORE expensive to play. If I never played MW2 again it would cap at $3.75 an hour but every time I play from here on out it always goes down.

StarCraft 2 is in the same boat for a lot of people. StarCraft 2 has approximately 20 hours of game play at a casual pace. I can understand that at $60 20 hours seems like a rip off, but it has an online feature just like Modern Warfare 2. So then it could offer an unlimited amount of playtime… for free. No extra cost. So assuming you NEVER played StarCraft 2 online you are at approximately $3.00 an hour of game play. If you play any online games, or replay any levels, the cost starts to drop.

I’m a huge StarCraft 2 fan. I played StarCraft at launch and Brood Wars from day 1 of its release. To me buying StarCraft 2 was a no brainer. A lot of hoop-la has been made about voting with your wallet over the past few years, and I did just that with StarCraft 2; I bought the Collector’s Edition. I bought the CE because I love StarCraft 2 and Blizzard and I wanted to support one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time. I paid $100 for it, so assuming I didn’t play any online I am at $5.00 an hour. Guess what though? I’ve played StarCraft 2 through on single player twice now and I’m on my third time. I play online nearly every night with my friends. I would estimate I’m at over 40 hours of online play. To me StarCraft 2 was worth it.

However I can completely understand that if you don’t care for StarCraft 2 the way I do. Maybe you feel about it the way I feel about Modern Warfare 2. The game could be fun, but you wouldn’t play it enough to justify the full price. I fully support you in this. However what I don’t support is your claim that these games don’t offer enough game play to justify the price tag. $60 is the standard for video games, when I was a kid we paid nearly $80 for Rampage on my Nintendo. Just because you do not like all the features offered in these games does not mean they aren’t available.

Consumers need to learn that there is a difference between what a product offers and what you want it to offer. I think a major hurtle the gaming industry is facing right now is that every consumer wants every product to be targeted at them, and the internet being what it is gives every consumer an open microphone set on HIGH to yell that at the developers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Clone Wars - Parent Perspective

I don’t want to say most gamers are this, or most gamers are that. However what I can confidently say is that most bloggers and the readers of blogs relating to video games are very computer savvy and well informed on video games. There are over 300 million people in the USA alone and the reigning MMO champion has peaked at 11 million subscribers, and it is assumed another 10-15 million are spread out over other online games. That leaves a total of 275 million people in the USA who don’t play online games.

The current trend by major development companies is to fight over these 25 million customers by making games with already well established features. The problem is that they are entering a very competitive market place that has more or less been dominated by one company for the last 5 years, that being Blizzard. I ask, why fighter over the same customers when you could just make new ones?

If a company were to tap into an un-established gaming market they could establish a foot hold and create new revenue for their company without having to cannibalize an already existing market. I think of all companies Sony understands the need for creating new markets more than anyone. Sure Blizzard may be the king of refinement when it comes to games, but I dare say Sony is the king of customer progression.

In 1999 Sony created EverQuest which proved there was a market for a persistent online game, dubbed Massively Multiplayer Game or MMO. Later Sony created Free Realms one of the first “Free to play” MMOs accepted as a viable success in the ever flooding MMO market. Sony Online Entertainment has always tried to find new customers, rather than just fighting over the existing ones.

The Clone Wars is the next step in that ideology. While The Clone Wars may claim to be designed for “everyone” in mind it is based off a cartoon whose primary demographic are 6-12 year old kids. For the most part this is an “untapped” market in the Online Gaming sphere. Sony is setting out again to prove they can create a market.

My daughter is 6 years old and she just started 1st Grade. She is a huge fan of The Clone Wars cartoon on Cartoon Network, along with all of her friends. I’m fairly young for being a parent, I’m only 29. To me computers and video games are as common as watching a movie. However most of the children in my daughter’s class have parents much older than me. Most of them are still learning how to use a computer. Video games, and especially computer games, can be daunting. I’ve talked more than one of her class mate’s parents through removing a virus or clearing out spyware. I’m more or less their “geek squad” now.

While these parents may not be computer savvy, their kids already are. Starting last year in Kindergarten the kids were in a computer lab at school learning how to type, mouse, and handle the computer basics. Most of my daughter’s class mates are very good at playing games on Nickelodeon and Disney websites. Some of them play Harry Potter on the Nintendo Wii or play Educational games on their Leap Frog Leapster. All of these games are very approachable and were designed around the idea that a child could play them and a parent who was unfamiliar with the technology would feel comfortable operating it. The Clone Wars is just the next step up the stairs for them…

The vast majority of the parents in my daughter’s class are in their late 30’s to early 40’s. They were preteens and teenagers when the first Star Wars came out. Star Wars is a cultural icon to them and something they are very familiar with. By SOE using that IP as a jumping point they have already established a connection with these children’s parents. The fact that you don’t have to install a game on your computer plays into most parents’ fear of virus’s or complicated software. The game is played through your web browser after a small application install, increasing the comfort level.

SOE has gone out of their way to create a game that parents can relate to, Star Wars, and feel comfortable setting up. The simple games allow even young kids to participate, my 2 year old son manager to play a few games, and the controlling of an avatar lets children play dress up with their virtual character.

I can see myself, and other parents, permitting our children to spend a portion of their allowance on this game if they wanted to buy frivolous items such as clothes or furniture for their apartment. SOE has done it again by creating a new market group.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Decisions, Decisions…

I’m currently torn between two video games, those being StarCraft 2 and Warhammer Online. Both games appeal to me in different ways and I know enough about my gaming habits to know that only one can win. I’ve never been able to really balance playing 2 video games at once.

On the one hand I have StarCraft 2. I started playing the StarCraft series when it first launched back in… what 1998? The StarCraft series has always appealed to my competitive nature. Back during StarCraft Brood Wars I use to play in 2v2 Tournaments hosted by IGN. The overall sweeping strategies of the game never clicked well enough with me to be to competitive in the 1v1 scene. Now that has sort of changed.

During the last 3 months of Beta I’ve found myself getting better and to the point where if I applied myself a little more, and actually sought out practice partners, I think I could make a splash in some of the smaller tournaments. The general strategies just seem so straight forward now I’m mainly just working on my mechanics. With 20-30 hours a week I’m fairly confident I could start placing in tournaments, the minor ones nothing major. However I love to play with my friends and most of them just want to do 2v2s or 3v3s. I would prefer to just do round robin 1v1s all night and talk to one another in Skype while we play.

So then I have Warhammer Online. I’ve played this game off and on since closed beta. A friend gave me his Beta account early on so I got to see how poorly development was handled of this game from day one. I love WAR though. The game is fun, the classes are fun, the world is interesting and PvP is dynamic. WAR’s only downfall now is the lack of players. If Warhammer Online could pull another 100-200k subs out of somewhere this game would have the power to continue to grow. Right now I feel it’s in a holding pattern that will soon dwindle away.

All that aside the game really is fun. I have always loved MMOs and MMOs that are about more than JUST gear are my favorite. WAR isn’t just about gear, it’s about Renown Rank. Gear IS important, but renown is more so. The way WAR is designed people don’t seclude themselves into tight knit groups running the same dungeons over and over again. The player base is forced into the open world and must work together in order to progress. No isolationism allowed! WAR is a game I can see myself being enveloped in. I’m playing with 2 real life friends at the moment but I know if I found a good friendly guild I could stay in WAR for a year or longer.

The Horizon… In 1 ½ months Final Fantasy 14 comes out. I fully intend to play it. For the last 7 months there hasn’t been any decent online games. Now I’m stuck between 2 and a 3rd down the road.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ahh to blog.

Believe it or not I’ve written at least one post a week since the last one. It’s just that by the time I’m done writing them they feel like I’m just trying to talk about how great I am. Honestly I think this post may go the same way… (If it does you’ll never know though huh!?)

Tobold posted something about being ashamed of being a gamer. With the whole Real ID debacle that went down recently I can understand the misinterpretation of a large portion of the community. I have never been ashamed of being a gamer in my life. To me being ashamed of something means I regret doing it. I never have. I love video games; I love everything they have brought me in my life. I understand that the good things and the bad things have all brought me to where I am today and I like where I am today. I am a productive member of society with a full time job, military reservist, wife, kids, pets and I own multiple pieces of property. Why should I be ashamed?

However I have a very good friend who I play video games with. He is the same age as me and we met through the Military. He lives with his parents and has no job other than our reservist pay. Guess what? He isn’t ashamed either. He is happy. Isn’t being happy the point? He loves everything that video games have done for him and accepts everything they have taken away. Everyone in our Unit knows we play video games and often times when we are in the field we have a Wii and Xbox 360 with us.

I don’t think ashamed or even embarrassed are accurate descriptions of my… or our feelings towards how we present our gaming hobby to society in general. I know that no one in my military unit will judge me based on the fact that I play video games. We are in a technical field so in fact many do play, and those that don’t seemly write it off as a none issue.

Enter the civilian world, the free market. Here I keep my gaming as much as secret as possible. The people who do the hiring and firing aren’t of our generation. They don’t understand video games beyond what Facebook is providing them with or what CNN reports on… which more often than not isn’t a good story on us. When people apply for a job at my work now I’m the first one to see their resume, and I google everyone. If I were to see some Real ID posts come up from that person I would probably put their resume in the back of the pack assuming I didn’t throw it out all together. We don’t need to hire gamers, even though I am one. (I understand the hypocrisy there)

I want to choose who knows I play video games and who doesn’t. That should remain my choice and not the video game company.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 2.0 2.0 is disappointing. I’m not going to beat around the bush. B.Net 2.0 isn’t bad or broken for that matter, it just isn’t anything special. The Blizzard and StarCraft 2 fanbase was told that SC2 was being delayed due to the new features being put into which would become 2.0. The result is uninspiring.

I really don’t know what to say about other than that. The interface is very cumbersome and difficult to navigate. All the menu’s lag when transitioning from one to another. It is difficult to connect with friends unless you either have them on your Facebook account or Email Address, gone is the day of simply knowing a friend’s handle. There is no online support for watching replays with friends.

There is no LAN support, so when I deploy to Afghanistan I won’t be able to play multiplayer with my fellow soldiers. Chat rooms are delayed until a “future patch” which could be who knows how long. Blizzard is usually really good about giving their customers what they want but in this instance it feels like they are missing the point.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Warhammer 40K MMO

I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve been wanting to, but I haven’t had the energy or motivation to write anything. This post may be a bit incongruent due to the hiatus and being out of practice.

Warhammer 40K Dark Millennium has finally been announced… officially. I’ve known about the 40K MMO for almost 2 years now and have been checking the Vigil Gaming website at least once a month. This year at E3 a trailer and some info was released, though I find it hard to believe that the ONE interview and the ONE trailer is the only info I can find on the game thus far. This is basically what I hope they do base on what I know thus far, which isn’t much.
From what I can see the control is much like Gears of War, which is what my friends and I were hoping for. An over the shoulder shooter style control just fits so perfectly for a RPG that employs a lot of shooter style combat. If that is correct, good job!

I really hope they learned from Warhammer Online. The problem with WAR is that they didn’t do a Rock, Paper, Scissors style of balance… they did a Rock vs Scissors. What I mean by that is based on class balance and realm population each realm takes a turn being the Rock smashing Scissors and thus each realm takes a turn being the losing Scissors. The losing realm gets disheartened and typically stops fighting back and thus those that do stay and fight lose more. With a Rock, Paper, Scissors overall balance you always have a chance at beating someone. Now something to understand is that this is primarily important in a PvP centric game. You always have to have the ability to win or your players will stop playing.

However if you go for a more PvE centric game, ala WoW or SW:TOR you can have two races/realms/sides and have it not matter as much. With a PvE game the overall PvP conflicts are usually strictly controlled and thus easier to balance. That being said, I would prefer a combination of the two. I would like for 40K to be a mixture of both. I want 3 sides to play in this MMO but I want it to be PvE centric with a lot of PvP support.

PvE games are finically more successful. I want this game to succeed. I have also learned from WAR that while I like PvP it gets old and is more difficult to keep fresh than PvE content.

That’s all for today. Good to be back.

Friday, April 9, 2010

SC2 - What I'm working on

Every day that I’m at work I watch Livestreams of StarCraft 2 beta and replays on YouTube. I have a note pad and I’ve been taking notes. At this point I’d much rather be in the Gold League to practice but it is what it is, for some reason I manage to hang on near the bottom of my Platinum League.

So far I’ve come up with my 3 major weakest aspects of gameplay that I need to overcome.

1 – I don’t macro well enough. I need to constantly be spending my money and creating units while teching. I can’t just say, pay attention and be automatically better. I need to plan ahead to prevent stock piling of minerals while doing something else. I think that is my major macro issue is I don’t know what to do until I should have already done it. If I can get my game awareness to increase by 45-60 seconds of doing what I need to do prior to now I think I will be in a much better position.

2 – Don’t be too aggressive. This is a major reason why I wasn’t good at Brood Wars. I’m still of the mindset that I must kill their army to win, which isn’t the case. I’ve been learning two different variations on why I’m too aggressive. I don’t tend to get much base defense and when I attack I go all in. I’ve been learning to harass more and leave something to defend the counter.

3 – I learned this from HD Starcraft on Youtube. It is more of an overall mindset but I think it is a general idea of how to win any SC game. Harass, contain, expand. You don’t have to beat the other players, as most games don’t end with you killing off every one of your enemies units. You have to make them quit. By destroying their economy, then containing them to their main base you can expand and create a huge economic advantage. This basically smoothers them until they give up due to a lack of units.

Sure I’m still learning basic strategies, build orders, and counters; but I think an overall understanding of how games are won will be just as useful in beating my opponents and in turn getting better.

PS Sorry for no video. I’m going out of town tomorrow and will be at a buddy’s place watching the UFC fight tomorrow night. I won’t get to play much SC2 until Sunday. I will “try” to get a decent 2v2 I did up. I got destroyed but we still won.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

StarCraft 2 and blogging

I have been getting away from blogging. It just hasn’t been in me. Video games should be fun, or you should stop and blogging should be the same. It felt like blogging was a chore more than an outlet for my opinions. I was trying to keep up a post a day which given my fairly hectic life was a bit much. I did it for a decent amount of time though, so I need to be happy with that.

I’m going to blog my StarCraft 2 beta experiences. This is entirely for me. The reason I have decided to do this is because I learned a lot about what I want in a MMO from blogging my time in WoW. It enables me to go back and read how I felt about the game at an earlier point. I think that is a valuable asset and can prevent the long dreaded nostalgia people tend to use as a scapegoat for positive previous game designs.

As it stands I love StarCraft 2. It feels like StarCraft: Brood Wars but with positive improvements. The unit AI has been greatly improved and I think playing the basic game is a lot easier. The units have enough good AI to facilitate menial micro tasks such as splitting up among your minerals in an efficient and timely manner. They changed some unit hotkeys and macro commands so that you can control unit production and allocation easier too. It’s been said that a great game is one that is easy to learn and hard to master, so far that has proven the case for SC2.

I’m currently not very good at it though. This isn’t to say I suck. I placed in the Platinum League, though I wish I would have thrown a placement game now and ended in the Gold League. Since being the Platinum League I’ve gone about 7-10 with a total score of 12-10 since they count your placement games as total games played. I guess that isn’t bad, but I have higher expectations of myself than this. Three of my friends are in Beta with me and given certain living situations and roommates with certain Beta Keys there are up to 6 people who can play on some of these accounts at any time. So we typically 2v2 against each other when everyone is on.

What I’ve found is that they are MUCH better than I am. I know where I’m weak, I just can’t seem to overcome my gamers block in game. After about 40-50 supply and my first assault I don’t know what to do. I typically lose a lot of troops on my first push and then I get countered with nothing to fight back. I have tried waiting to counter myself and it always seems like my enemies can re-mass units faster than I can. Practice, practice, practice… That is what I need. I’ve been watching LiveFeeds from Team Liquid and 4 or 5 SC2 channels on Youtube. I know a lot of what I’m supposed to do, I just need to implement it.

If I get better that is all that really matters. I’m not a pro gamer and I’ve never been the best among my friends. I’ve always been competitive and good, but never the top. This is going to take some patience and practice to break through this wall I’m hitting so I can improve.

Monday, April 5, 2010

StarCraft 2... I has it

I'm in the mood to post because of StarCraft 2. When Blizzard said the game was ready for launch last November they weren't lying. Other than some on going balance issues, which are minor unless you play Protoss, the game is ready for launch now.

The new is cool but since we are in Beta I can't tell if they don't have all the features implemented yet or if they are simply not going to be there. The biggest red flag for me is no chat room so far. I think that was a huge part of the original B.Net community and I think Blizzard would be very unwise to leave it out. I'm hoping it's just not implemented in the Beta yet, there are currently alot of buttons on the Menu that you can't access yet. I will look into it more later.

SC2 it's self is exactly what you would want SC2 to be. It takes everything that worked in SC and just builds on it, this is why Blizzard is the king. My only bitch thus far is the game is really dependent on counters. You have to know which units are good against what enemy units and be willing to completely change your strategy and army makeup at the drop of a hat. It isn't bad because of how much the battles change, and if you don't change you will lose, but I don't like that certain units just have NO chance against their counter.

I've currently played around 50 games since Friday night. I just started on the Ladder and I'm 7-1. I was ranked 12th in my Platinum league when I logged, which doesn't mean I really good just everyone else is really bad.

As far as playable beta's go and fun factor. SC2 gets a 5/5. I've played it until 1-2AM Friday and Saturday night and after succumbing to exhaustion I went to bed around 10:30 last night only to wake up at 3AM wanting to play. I'm sucked in, just as bad as the first time I played SC or SC:BW.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taking a break

I've hit the wall with MMOs. I bought a PS3 and I've been playing FF13 along with Pokemon on my Nintendo DS. I don't feel like blogging about those games. I'm not sure why, maybe it is because they are personal since they are all single player. I'm watching StarCraft 2 very closely so I'll probably blog about that once I get to play. Until then peace out.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I would love to post but I hurt my hand. I can barely hold my mouse much less type... already cramping. More to come next week.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Found one... 45 minutes from here on at a Best Buy on the Delta near Sacramento Ca. They have it on hold for me for 2 hours.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Winning isn't everything

With every game or sport where your opponent is just one other person there is always an equal number of winners as there are losers. Your odds of winning are just as good as your odds of losing, and those odds are equal to your opponents.

In say the game of Scrabble there can be up to four people playing and only one winner. That means your odds of winning are 25% but your odds of losing are 75%, thus it is more likely you will lose than win. If winning games were the major driving factor in playing them wouldn’t a game with odds in your favor be more appropriate? Now sure you could have a much larger vocabulary than your 3 opponents so that gives you an advantage, but then why are they playing? If they know they are going to lose due to an intellectual superiority difference why bother ever sitting down to play?

The reason is that simply winning the game shouldn’t be what makes the game fun. A term often used in war and political circles is that “the end does not justify the means”. You shouldn’t have to make sacrifices to fun simply to win; when the game stops being fun then it is time to quit in my opinion.

I don’t like blaming things on age or generation but I think people are being brought up to believe that everyone is a winner, and that isn’t the case. Everyone can’t win, there can only ever be 1 winner for a given game, bracket, or race. What needs to be emphasized is that participating should be fun, and that enjoyment should be your primary goal. Winning is fun, but like we’ve established there are always more losers than winners so you can’t count on always winning.

I ran track in High School. I was by no means a fast runner; I was slow by comparison to my team mates. I think I may have gotten a 2nd once in 3 years of running track but I doubt I even did that well. Why would I continue to do running events at track meets if I knew I was going to lose? Simple, I enjoyed it. I liked the feeling after each run; I liked how my body felt. Most of my friends that I hung out with in High School ran track with me so I got to socialize with them. Sure there was always the pipe dream that maybe I could win an event, but I knew it would take something more than I was willing to give to do it. I was bad at a sport and I continued to do it because it was fun.

The same applies to me and Chess. I love Chess but I never get to play and as such I’m not very good. Even if I did play more often I probably wouldn’t improve that much. I like the game and will play anyone even knowing I may lose. I just like the thought and strategy that goes into playing it.

Sure someone could read this and think; hey you’re a big loser just quit. That isn’t the point. The point is that participation should be fun. We as a society should teach people that not everyone can win but you should always try and you should enjoy the process and experience of participating. Winners get trophies, money, or maybe just bragging rights but if you were playing for the true enjoyment of the game that shouldn’t affect your self esteem. At the most it should drive you to try harder and beat them next time and if you can’t beat them remember, there are always more losers than winners so play to have fun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Losing is fun

I typically avoid metaphors or analogies but I think this is going to have to be another one of those exceptions. The reason is this revelation about video games came from doing something completely unrelated to video games, so rather than manipulate that into video game relevance I’m going to speak straight and then apply the parts that fit later.

On Sunday I got ride in my friends race car at some off road races. I ride with him a lot, but it is still just as fun as the first time. When I was in High School I built a truck to race off road and I did that until I was 21. I ended up rolling the truck and going to the hospital and I just didn’t have the money to put it back together at the time. I love racing, and it got me thinking.

Any sport or game where you compete against someone there is always a winner and a loser. The more people that participate the more losers you invariably have, because there can only ever be one winner and an indefinite amount of losers. We lost this weekend, but I still had just as much fun as when we win.

My favorite race of all time was one I didn’t even win. I was 19 years old racing against guys that were 10-15 years older than me and had helped me build my race truck. For the first 6 laps of the race I was in 2nd place with less than a car length between myself and the truck in first place. The truck in 3rd place was on my bumper and the truck in 4th place was on his. We did this in the dirt, off jumps, for 6 laps straight and going into the 7th lap I made a mistake. I dropped back to 3rd place and continued to follow the crowd. Everyone was going high, low, trying everything we knew to get around one another and you simply couldn’t pass unless someone made a mistake. I finished that race with a 3rd place and to this day it was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car or race truck.

So I was thinking about other sports where I lost but still had fun. I love soccer (football) and I have tried to continue playing it ever since getting out of school. I was playing on a Co-ed Indoor team for a few years before I moved to where I am now. Our team’s very first session together we made it to the finals, I didn’t even know everyone’s name but we worked together so well that we dominated the playoffs and made it to the championship game. We lost that game, but it was one of the funniest football games I’ve ever played. After nearly an hour of regular play and two overtimes the game was tied 2-2 so we went to a shoot out. We lost the shoot out 3-2, yet I still remember the game fondly.

Sports, games, races… they are supposed to be fun regardless of winning or losing. Why is it that I can lose at any of these and still have a great time, but in a video game it isn’t fun unless I win. This is actually a rhetorical question because I think I know the answer, but I want to hear you opinions. I can’t fully put it in words yet and that may take a day or two but why is it that I can lose at a sport and still have more fun than winning yet that same feeling doesn’t apply to a video game?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Playstation 3

Last Monday it would have been a no brainer, I'm buying a Playstation 3. Today it isn't so easy.

I know I'm fickle when it comes to gaming, especially console gaming. I have an extremely short attention span when it comes to sitting in front of my TV. I have the extra cash to go buy the PS3 right now. I was looking at the game lists and there are a few games I would like to play, namely Final Fantasy 13. The problem is I'm currently happy with my gaming situation.

I'm enjoying Pokemon and I was looking forward to playing some World of Warcraft tonight because my Warlock is getting higher level dungeons he hasn't done before. I've been watching Battlestar Gallactica while doing both of these and it seems that if I bought a PS3 it would turn into a paper weight faster than... well an actual paper weight.

It would still be a Blu-Ray player though which I'm sure would get use. Granted we don't own any Blu-Ray movies but it seems like now is the time to make the transistion to Blu-Ray.

I honestly don't know what I'm going to do. I think when I got for my lunch break is when I'll figure it out. If I go south on the Freeway then I'm going to Best Buy, if I go any other direction then it's no Playstation for atleast today.

Fast Update

I was out of town all weekend so I didn’t have time to pre-write much and I have a lot of catch up to do at work this morning. I may have a post this afternoon but I will definitely have one for tomorrow. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes things fun, and I’ll get more into that later.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What to blog about?

Anyone have any suggestions? I’m thinking about focusing on game development and design again. I think that area really allows my mind to wander and delve into games and game theory. I’m in Los Angeles for the weekend but I’ll be back and posting by Monday.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Going to do it!

About 2 months ago some friends relocated their business from one office strip to another. Being the only one who knows anything about networking and telephones, so I normally do all their IT work for them. I actually like doing it because it is nice having a break from the political BS I deal with at my normal job. We drink beer and eat pizza while I work, I love it.

Well enough of the boring I finally got paid for it. My friend and I actually forgot that he didn’t pay me so the check was sitting in their office for the last month and a half. I had forgotten about this paycheck so everything I had planned to spend it on has since then been paid off or long forgotten.

So what to do with it? Well I’m going to finally buy a Playstation 3 and Final Fantasy 13. I’m going out of town this weekend so I won’t get around to it until Monday or so. I’m really excited to finally have a Blu-Ray player and a console other than my Nintendo Wii.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MMO subscriptions

I did some math yesterday and I’m not sure why. Right now World of Warcraft is still estimated to have about 11 million subscribers. It is also estimated that WoW makes up 62% of the MMO market. I’ve seen these numbers quoted many times on the internet and while we know how reliable internet percentages can be I have no real reason to doubt them, they seem ball park figure accurate.

So at 11,000,000 subscribers and knowing that is 62% that means every 177,419.4 people make up only 1%. Now while this may not seem like a very big revelation at first consider this… most MMOs are only citing at best 300,000 subscribers a month, or 1.7% of the total market.

To make life easy and give everyone the benefit of the doubt let’s pretend it’s an even 2%. At best it would take 14 other MMOs with at least 300,000 subs a month to round out the number to our estimated total which is 17,741,935 people playing MMOs every month. Let’s be honest, the average MMO has far less than 300,000 subs.

What can we take from this? WoW is the exception to the rule of success in the MMO market and not the rule. We don’t know if these numbers can be repeated, I’m sure they can. The thing to take away from this is that a MMO should shoot for 300,000 subscribers, no more.

Don’t try and take on World of Warcraft because you will fail. There is absolutely zero chance to take down the King… for now. As time goes on the King will grow older and weaker and be an easier target but consider this, Blizzard is more than likely going to announce the name of their Prince and heir to these 11 million subscribers this year. So unless you are Blizzard, take your 300k and consider it a victory.

Diablo 2

I bought Diablo 2 over the weekend, not because I've never played it but because I didn't have a CD Key. I've actually played Diablo 2 longer than nearly anyone. You see I was in the closed beta with a thousand other people before the game was released. I had a closed Beta CD at one point that has since been destroyed... not my fault I'm still upset about it.

So there are three reasons I bought Diablo 2 again, this will be my 4th time buying it. The first reason is I want to have every Blizzard game tied to my account in case they show favortism for Beta selections based on how many Blizzard products you own. If I was Blizzard I would reward the loyal.

The second is everyone says vote with your wallet. Well I love Blizzard's games and I am a huge fan of how they make them. I may only play Diablo 2 one or two times more but I want Blizzard to know I support them and buying their games is the only way I can really show that.

The final reason and easily the most important. My name is in the credits. I wanted to take some screen shots and rub it in my friends faces. So now on my Facebook account they will find 3 screen shots of the Diablo 2 credits. One at the start of the credits, one that shows The Ring of a Thousand and one with my name circled.

Pokémon update

I’m about 5 hours into Pokémon Soul Silver. The game plays exactly like it did 10 years ago, which is a good thing. I’m having a blast so far. I started the game with a Totodile (water type) named Never and he evolved into Croconaw at level 18. Never is now sitting at level 21 and is doing well.

About 45 minutes into the game I found a sheep looking Pokémon, it looked funny so I decided to make it my back up Pokémon. It turns out that Pokémon was a Marcep which is an electric type Pokémon, very strong against grass type which is what the 2nd Gym is. My Marcep named McSheepen evolved to a Flaaffy at level 16 and is now sitting at level 20. He single handedly beat the 2nd Gym.

At the start of the game you are given an egg. My egg hatched into a Togepi who I named Omelet. I am trying to level him up just because right now but I’ve never cared for Togepis. He doesn’t have very reliable attacks and I just don’t like the look of him. I know I need a 3rd Pokémon just to cement in my chances no matter what I get thrown up against so I suppose Omelet will do until I find something better.

So far I’m having a blast with Pokémon. I have my kids helping me do battles by telling them which color button to push. I doubt I’m gonna catch them all, but I’m hoping to at least get all the badges.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I choose you NEVER!

I picked up Pokemon Soul Silver yesterday for my Nintendo DS. I use to love Pokemon games on my old Game Boy and they are some of the best RPGs you can find, which is sad in a way. I hadn’t even considered getting a game for my DS because I haven’t bought anything for it since I was in Kuwait on my way home from Iraq. That was until Keen mentioned it. It seemed like the perfect time to expand my DS collection.

I’m heading to Los Angeles this weekend for a family emergency but that should give me a solid amount of time to play. I’m looking forward to spending time with my little Poke’ trainer Epiny and his Pokemon Never.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Life is interesting…

Not too long ago I went out to teach someone how to install and commission a satellite for some remote monitoring equipment we use. This was about the same time California was getting dumped on with rain storms but we were lucky enough to not have rain on the day of the install. Everyone makes fun of California for over reacting when it rains here, and it’s true we do. However consider this; we don’t have the infrastructure to support more than an inch of rain at any given time. It happens maybe once or twice a year so it’s just not fiscally wise to build anything with heavy rain in mind, so when we do get that one or two days of heavy rain a year everything suffers.

I say that because the satellite we installed was on the top of what is often called a green belt. It is sort of a no man’s land between two backyards. There was a fence to open it and it was 30 feet wide or so. I drove my truck up the hill in four wheel drive then my friend followed me who I was training in his box Van. The Van got stuck. He tried a total of two times and I tried once but it wouldn’t go up the hill. We tried pushing it with the truck and still nothing.
The grass was soft and muddy, so we loaded everything into my truck and I made it up the hill.

We more or less gave this area a lawn job, but I didn’t think much of it because I thought my company owned it. In 6 months time grass would grow back over and no one would notice. The problem, we didn’t own it. Apparently it was private property and no one told us in advance. Now I have a meeting about it and my boss, his boss, another boss… lots of bosses are calling us telling us we shouldn’t have done it. Well you know what, hind sight is 20/20. Sitting here looking back we shouldn’t have done it, but at the time it seemed like the right decision. They are telling us we should have just packed up and gone home, on a perfectly sunny day, and done the install another day.

I’m not worried about losing my job over this I just don’t like making mistakes, any kind. I feel bad about it but I don’t feel we deserve the kind of brow beating myself and my co-worker have been getting all day. Guess what, my company can easily afford to fix this. Fix it and leave me alone.

So hindsight is 20/20. The problem is management like to pretend that they would have made the same decision prior to the incident.

StarCraft 2

I’m currently subscribed to StarCraftLegacy on You Tube. They are posting about 2-3 matches a week and as a huge fan of StarCraft I’ve been watching them. I have noticed a few things from the videos though.

First off the game looks to play a lot like the original StarCraft, which is good. Real Time Strategies didn’t need much improvement over what we were using 10 years ago. The overall way we handle units and the majority of the controls were spot on and perfected during Warcraft Orcs vs Humans. I’m excited about that. There seem to be some small and good improvements but all of this is based on only watching the replays.

The second thing I noticed is the attack animations. One of my friends has been complaining about it on Steam for 2 weeks and I hadn’t paid much heed to it until these past few days. If you watch any of the matches closely you will some a lot of the units have very plain combat animations. For instance watching the Terrain unit the “Thor” attack in the matches was very disappointing. It basically stood there and gun fire just streaked from it. It had no recoil motion or change in stance when it shot. The Siege Tanks from SC1 had more combat animation.

This is just a small compliant, but I want it noted before I play the game or it goes live. Over all the graphics look good and the game looks fun. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and try it out.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weekend Shopping List

My goal is to try and pickup Diablo 2 by the end of the weekend. I just need to find time to get to Best Buy... or maybe Game Stop. The problem with Game Stop is the same reason I don't like to go into comic stores anymore. The people who work their know so much about their product it is almost intimidating. It feels as though they look down on me for not liking what they like when they try and strike up a casual conversation.

I've also been considering getting a steering wheel and pedals for the PC. I love racing games but they are so much more fun with a good wheel and pedal. I haven't ever really tried to play racing games on a PC but I know it would be unbearable with just a keyboard.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Wall, again

I'm still hitting the wall. I'm trying to convince myself Dungeons and Dragons Online is fun enough to keep me entertained but it isn't. I don't even want to say the game isn't fun, because it actually is I'm just not invested in it.

I logged into Aion tonight because a friend told me it was bonus EXP. I managed to hit 20 on my Templar but again the wall jumped up in front of me... not to mention failing to obtain a quest item 4 times because it took to long for my wings to open due to lag.

On the bright side I found my CD Key to Galactic Civilization and that is installing as I type this. That is good for one night a month of entertainment... maybe more. I almost bought X-Com UFO Defense off Steam tonight too, it was only 4.99, if not for Galactic Civ I would have.

This is the time I usually start painting my miniutres again but that doesn't even seem appealing. Right now really is a sad time for PC gamers, there isn't alot to play outside of the FPS market.

Would you?

All these questions pertain to World of Warcraft and Blizzard.

Would you pay money to start any class/character at level 55?

Would you pay money to have an epic mount?

Would you pay money to have bonus exp?

Would you pay money to never have to enchant gear again?

Would you pay money to be max level with full epics?

Now on Facebook

Lets see how this works out.

Search Epiny Burvelle or you can join Sprites are Fun

Redid some stuff

Under Tobold's advice I'm setting up a Faux Internet background to keep my personal information off my blog and other gaming sites. I know I can't stop it 100% but atleast making it harder gives me peace of mind.

Not being obligated to play

Void brought up a good point yesterday. With Dungeons and Dragons Online I don’t feel obligated to play… well sort of. It is a MMO and I still have that mindset that I must focus on only one MMO to make significant progress or I’m just a n00b. I’m trying to get out of that mindset though.

This week I have ran a World of Warcraft random Wrath Instance 3 nights straight in order to get the emblems. Since I am only running one instance a night I am not using up all of my rested experience, so I get the illusion of making a lot of progress on my character for a limited amount of time and effort. WoW feels rewarding; which is good because the game also feels boring to me so I need the ‘ carrot’ to outweigh the distain of playing the game.

Why play at all still? That is easy, I feel obligated too for two reasons. First is I’m not stupid, I know I’m going to go back to WoW at some point and I’m going to wish I had played during this off period to get EXP and emblems. It is like when I did dailies religiously during The Burning Crusade, I hated it with every ounce of my being but I understood the necessity of it. The second is I’m still paying $15 a month for WoW. It is a waste of money to not play. The nice thing is I don’t actually hate playing WoW, I’m just bored with it because of its age and my lack of overall progress.

I however don’t feel obligated to play Dungeons and Dragons Online. The game is free, so if I don’t play I don’t lose out on anything. I doubt I’m going to play DDO for an extended period of time so I’m not worried about falling behind and since the game is free I don’t feel the fiscal pull to play. DDO is more of a filler between subscription based MMOs, don’t get me wrong though I wouldn’t have a problem making DDO my full time MMO if it turns out to interest me enough.

Not being obligated to play has made DDO that much more relaxing. I can walk away from a half finished quest to do something and for some reason it doesn’t bother me. In WoW it was always, after I’m done with this. DDO is freeing in a way and it isn’t per say anything Turbine programmed in, it is the way of thinking of the gamer. I look forward to playing, but as soon as I hit a boring spot I do something else until I’m ready to tackle it. It is very liberating.

Right now I look forward to playing DDO but I don’t see myself playing it in another month. I hope I’m wrong though, I want to love DDO but there is just so much confusion early on in the game it is hard. You can tell DDO was built around the idea that experienced Pen and Paper D&D fans would be playing it. The problem is I only played P&P D&D once and I had to have help on every decision because I didn’t understand the game. Dungeons and Dragons biggest down fall is that it is over complicated due to its focused target marketing of existing D&D fans.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dungeons and Dragon Update

Quick update. Sorry for the lack of posts I’ve been in San Jose teaching people to install Satellite Dishes for a remote monitoring system we use.

I’m level 2 Rank 2 in Dungeons and Dragons Online. From what I gather there are some 5 or 6 ranks per level, like mini levels and 20 over all levels in the game. So compared to other MMOs I think I’m around a level 8-15 range depending on what MMO you compare it too.

I’m playing a Female Human Bard named Epiny Burvelle who is focused on Crowd Control songs, healing, and her weapon of choice is duel Rapiers. The combat is very fun, screw that it is the most fun low level MMO combat EVER. The end, check please, it’s that good.

The sad thing is it is very simple, left mouse button is your primary attack. You get a few abilities that are on cool down that can be mapped to your hot bar; they don’t cost anything to use just cool down timer. You get ‘feats’ which seems to be what defines your class. As a Bard my feats are so far all songs and I only have 2 songs so far. Feats have a set number of uses per day I think or until you rest at a ritual stone or something. I don’t honestly know the name and I think googling this stuff right now would take away from the genuine love of the game. The two songs I have so far can either do an Area Effect Mesmerize or I can do a group buff song. I also have a heal spell which uses mana. There is a defensive stance that allows you to block and dodge but I don’t use that much.

So at level 2.2 I have 1 primary attack, 2 offensive abilities on cool down with no other cost, 2 ‘feats’ that can be used up to 3 times per day/rest and 1 spell that uses mana. That is a total of 6 abilities ranging from constant spamable to only a limited amount of times per game day. The combat so far is hectic and I’m sure I look like a total n00b circle strafing NPCs while I whack at them but it really is refreshingly fun and engaging. This is the type of combat a Sci-Fi MMO should use.

All and all DDO is a good game with at the very least note worthy features. Every person who considers themselves a well rounded MMO gamer should try this game, if nothing else to get a feel for the combat and how the Dungeon Master works.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons Online

You know I had hit a wall lately on what to play. I had tried nearly every MMO I have subscribed to in the last 5 years and none of them seemed to interest me. Rather than spend money on another MMO that I may potentially not like I decided to focus on some free trials. The two finalists were EVE and Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO). DDO won.

When I got home from work I immediately began down loading and installing DDO. It took roughly 1 ½ hours from start to finish before I was able to login, which was perfect because my gaming time doesn’t start until after my children go to bed. Dungeons and Dragons has always been about player’s freedoms. I wanted to create a character I really wanted to play with and not just a min/maxed class that would get groups easy and fit some predefined holy trinity group make up. Thus I created Epiny Burvelle the Female Human Bard who focused on controlling enemies and buffing allies.

The character creation was par for the course. You had 4 races that were free to pick from and 2 that you could pay to play as. I choose a free one. You could pick from numerous hairstyles, noses, mouths, eyes, etc. There weren’t sliders but enough options to make a distinct and personal character. The graphics weren’t amazing considering the game runs on DirectX 10 but they were decent, probably average for the current MMO out.

Once the game starts you are given your first quest which in turn acts as a tutorial for the game. I actually think the entire first city is just one big tutorial but seeing as I’m not out of it yet I can’t say for sure. After picking my weapon, I choose a Rapier, and learning how to use it I set off to my first dungeon. This is after all Dungeons and Dragons, I would expect there to be a lot of Dungeons.

The Dungeon starts out with a voice over, and after doing 3 now I think it’s standard that they have one. The voice over is sort of cool because it gives you the feeling that there is a Dungeon Master telling the story and interacting with you like when you played the Pen and Paper version. It made me smile just to know that Turbine had tried to stay true to the D&D roots.

The combat is very fun. It is much faster paced already then WoW or WAR is at maxed level, though I think it is probably just me swinging frantically. The left mouse key acts as your attack button, so like a FPS style game you wade in and attack things with 1 button. You do have abilities though; I started out with 3 abilities, 2 songs and a spell. The songs shared the same resource or cool down, I’m not entirely sure how they work yet and the spell used a mana bar. I had a buff song, a mesmerize song, and a heal spell. The combat reminded me a lot of Never Winter Nights but then again it has been ages since I’ve played that game. The combat is straight forward and fun, I think that is going to be a major draw to me. In all honestly it felt like a single player game the way the User Interface worked. It wasn’t bad it was just different. I’m so use to all my multiplayer games acting one way I never considered playing a MMO using single player FPS-hybrid controls. They worked and they worked well.

It isn’t all cotton candy and gumballs though. The game is overwhelming. Like anything related to Dungeons and Dragons there is a lot of depth to it and it is overwhelming when you first start to play. I could definitely see a new MMO player being turned off from this game in the first 30 minutes. I’m willing to learn about this game though because it is the first time I have been genuinely looking forward to playing a MMO since WAR first launched.

I also realized something while playing. I was trying to be a blogger who played video games. That isn’t who I am. I’m a gamer who happens to blog. Writing is an outlet for my gaming, not the reason for it. I think I lost sight there recently. Thanks to the few of you who hung with me.