Saturday, February 27, 2010


Going to South Lake Tahoe for the weekend. See you on Tuesday

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A finite MMO

Between reading Keen’s post on Monday and what Massively has posted about Final Fantasy XI I started thinking. Massively Multiplayer Online Games have always been about never ending content. What has drawn so many developing companies to the MMO market is that it has the potential to be an unending supply of revenue. Like Willy Wonka invented the Never Ending Gobstopper gaming developers invented the MMO. The thing that I have started wondering about though is what if a developer intended to end a game, like a single player game.

MMO games are notorious for having a “treading water” feel when you reach max level. The reason for this is the developers don’t want the game to end. Every piece of content added is always designed to be open ended so that they can continue to add on more at a later date and time. This means as a gamer, no matter how far you get in a game, you can never complete it. As such it is nearly impossible to tell one epic story, instead most MMOs focus on small short stories presented in various forms such as quests or expansions.

What if a developer did something new, something bold. What if at the release of a game they decided that they would only release a finite amount of content. The developers would be free to create a huge story arch spanning how every many expansions they feel are needed, for sake of argument let’s say 1 main game and 4 expansions… and let’s call them chapters.

A MMO with 5 chapters. The developers could take 6 or 7 years to tell these 5 chapters in their story. The key to every great story is it has to come to an end. With the developers having a defined goal they could better focus on the story and how to present it. The developers could have the entire story pre-written and story boarded before the first chapter ever launched. This would let the developers really focus on making each chapter great and they would already know how it ties into the next. It would allow for foreshadowing and all the great story telling features we see in movies, books and miniseries.

After the 5 chapters are completed the main developing team could move onto another project. Do not shut the servers down though. This is still a MMO after all. The game could continue to run as long as it had a large enough player base to support its upkeep. The small development team could release small content patches that would add side stories to the existing game and leave the main story unchanged. New players to the game could play through the game years later and if the chapters were designed right they would get to experience the vast majority of the story as it was originally written for the first time.

The developer could then move on to another project. They would have positive cash flow, a great game, and unlike every other MMO on the market it would have a beginning, middle, and end. It would have an epic story that each player felts as though they had contributed too. Then just like a miniseries on HBO they could make something new and just as amazing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lunch Break

I went home on Lunch and played some Aion while eating Pizza Bagel bites. I'm an adult who has the interests of a 12 year old, yea I know it's sad sometimes. It was fun though, I actually got almost a 1/2 of level in the 40 minutes I played. It's so refreshing to kill mobs and the mob be worth a sizable chunk of EXP, rather then all the EXP being in the quest reward.

I would love to see World of Warcraft up the EXP from all mobs by 50%. What I hate about the quests in WoW is I tend to avoid combat because it is inefficient. It takes longer to kill my way through an area then skirt around it, not only is it faster but the amount of EXP gained from the killing isn't worth the effort.

Choices are always good. I shouldn't be forced into questing and I think that is where I'm at with WoW. The Dungeons are coming only once every 20 minutes and I'm only getting about 1/6 of a level per clear. It's not worth the time put into them.

I hate questing and like I said grinding on boars isn't actually a viable path to 80 no matter what South Park tells you. I haven’t quit WoW but I haven’t played it since last Friday. I know I’m going to play during Cataclysm so it’s only a matter of time before I go back. I will probably wait a week or two then play until I’m out of rested EXP. That way I feel like my time and effort are properly rewarded.

A Social Experiment

One of the reasons I went back to World of Warcraft was everyone I knew played WoW, well almost everyone. The Social Gamer in me wanted to be with my friends and fit in with the 11.5 Million other people who comprise the WoW community. When it comes to MMOs World of Warcraft is the “in” crowd.

I made it, I was back in. I was relating to my friends in Ventrillo about WoW and while I wasn’t raiding with them the fact that I was playing permitted me to join in their conversations in a relevant manner. Then this last weekend I had my monthly Battle Assembly with the U.S. Army Reserves; where most of the people I know also play World of Warcraft.

As soon as some of my friends their found out I was playing again they started sharing stories about Icecrown Raids and Dungeons they had completed or what their DPS or Item Level was. None of this mattered to me as I was just a casual gamer leveling an alternate character up via Dungeon Finder.

Then it came my turn to tell about what I was doing. I told them about my transfer from a PvP Server on Bloodlust to one on Emberstorm and then back to a PvE Server on Bloodlust. It was interesting; as soon as I mentioned I had gone to a PvE server I was shunned. Two people both agreed I wasn’t “hardcore” enough for leveling on a PvP server and that I must not like to PvP.

I enjoy PvP, hell I’m the only one out of this group who has tried Darkfall, Mortal Online, and Warhammer Online. I don’t like being ganked by someone 10 levels higher than me. I tried to explain that dying from someone with 5000 DPS while on a 74 Warlock isn’t fun, there is no chance for me to win. It didn’t matter, I was then labeled as a PvE Care bear.

These people who appeared to be my friends suddenly looked down on me because I didn't choose their version of WoW. Suddenly I wasn't the "in" crowd anymore. Sure I got to stand in the circle but I was on the outside of it looking in.

All these different clicks and groups formed around MMOs really bother me. No one can accept a live and let live policy. If I don't like or play how someone else thinks I should they attempt to either degrade or shun me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aion Economy

I’m already delving back into the Aion Economy. I know the economy has had some drastic hardships since I’ve been gone from all the bots, farmers and a little snafu I heard about where NCSoft accidently mailed people millions of Kinah.

With all that being said I haven’t jumped feet first in just yet. I’m taking a census of prices for some crafting professions and the cost of the materials to figure out which is the healthiest to enter. I hadn’t planned on playing in the economy this time but the people I’m playing with all took professions and they all claim they can’t make a dime off them. The way my mind functions I have to prove them wrong and mock them afterwards.

I use to make 2 million Kinah a day or so when I was playing my Elyos Ranger just after launch. I’m not going to shoot that high, I’m going to work towards 500k Kinah a day. I figure in two weeks I should be able to sustain that amount of income with 20 minutes of crafting and brokering a day.

Quick Political Tangent

Why doesn’t Welfare and Food Stamps require people to take drug tests to receive them? If you are choosing to use illegal substances that are against the laws this government has established why are we assisting you?

Let the Government run medical program go through. However do not give service to those who fail a drug test. Anyone who is selected as a high risk patient and DOES NOT try to improve upon their health should be required to pay extra or have all services declined.

If my car insurance goes up for me getting a speeding ticket why shouldn’t my medical premiums go up for being morbidly obese? If I doing nothing to improve my health why should I expect free health care or cheap health care? It’s all about personal responsibility. If you have a legitimate medical disorder then you should still receive medical treatment and retain your normal premiums BUT you should still be required to try and lower your weight. If you suffer from heart disease or have family history of heart disease and you do nothing to help your heart you should pay more.

I say this because there is heart disease in my family. I am a HUGE candidate for that or cancer. Everyone in my family has either died of Heart Disease or Cancer in their late 50’s to early 60’s. (One Grandparent being the only exception after fighting 3 different types of cancer) I also have various family members who suffer from depression.

I have cut out nearly all red meat from my diet. I work out and I do a lot of internal things to reduce stress in my life and try to self analyze situations to prevent depression. I am trying to be the next exception to the rule in my family. However I don’t feel it’s fair that I am doing all of this and paying the same, if not more, for medical as the person who sits down to an all you can eat and gorges themselves 3 times a week.

This wasn’t really quick and I won’t post anything else political but I had to get that off my chest.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Level 8 Warrior... Aion

I made an Asmodian Warrior. I hate the look of the Asmo back hair... it looks like a nasty vag... nevermind. I just dislike it. I wouldn't mind if it was just a pony tail or something but the way it sprouts out of the upperback just bugs me. The Elyos only had a scarf and by level 10 you didn't even see it anymore. I'm hoping the same for my Asmo.

I made Eppe the Warrior, she is a girl. As of late I have preferred to make female toons, I think it just fits with my perferred avatar name though, being Epiny. Epiny was a female character from a very good series of books I read a few years back.

So far I like Aion, but I always did. The graphics are good but at the same time they aren't ground breaking. The quests are your typical kill 10 foozles and collect 10 woozles, the thing is I don't seem to mind as much because it is a different game.

I will see how this goes but I really think I'm developing a healthy trend right now. I may have just found my "casual" groove. I can play most MMOs for about a month to two months before tedium really starts to set in. This means that I could potentially keep 3 MMOs in permenant rotation and never feel complete burn out. After Aion gets old I'm planning on moving over to Warhammer Online.

Until then lets see how Aion fairs though, shall we?

PS I'm going to keep WoW active. I want to still do a few Daily Dungeons a week and I'm not completely burned out on the game yet.

Aion Round 2

I'm going to play some Aion in what little spare time I have... let's be honest I don't have any spare time. One of my buddies I'm in the Army with has been playing Aion and him and I try to play together. We have the same philosophy and playtimes so it has been working for the past year, it is also important to bond with your fellow soldiers, which is much more difficult when you only see them 2 days a month.

I'm still going to try and play WoW atleast twice a week. The game has just lost it's luster though. More on that later though.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pay to play... better?

My sister is a private music teacher. She teaches kids of all ages how to play instruments better, heck she is even teaching me to play the Guitar. People that play recreational sports often pay to go to camps to get better at Football, Soccer, Tennis, etc. All of these things don’t necessarily make them any more successful at life; they are just getting better at a hobby. (That .01% that goes on to be a professional doesn’t really count)

Considering how much time we spent in video games, pouring over strategies and theory crafting new ideas, how much would you pay to be better at World of Warcraft or whatever your respective video game is? Someone who spends 20 hours a week playing their video game of choice is just as enthralled with their hobby as the person who plays on a Soccer team once or twice a week. Wouldn’t it then be fair to assume it is socially acceptable to pay someone to teach you or coach you to play that video game better?

I only say this because one of my friends has recently done this. He found one of the best Warriors in WoW and paid him for an hour of his time. My friend is very pleased with the amount of performance and the tips he received from this lesson. As the 4 of us in Ventrillo continued to talk we all felt that is was a good idea and would consider doing the same, if nothing else to be told you are in fact playing your class to its highest potential.

One only has to look at the amount of traffic websites like WoW Head and Elitist Jerks gets every day to know people want to play better. You can only learn so much by reading it. My sister bought me a beginners Guitar book and after 2 weeks I thought I was doing better. She came by for a visit and showed me some pointers, pointers I never would have thought to ask about and she would have never mentioned if she didn’t see me play.

Considering how many people have tried to make money off of WoW I’m amazed I haven’t heard of more people charging for lessons. I don’t see how it would violate any EULA Blizzard has put in place. You aren’t selling items, only advice. When my guild was pushing Zul’Aman back during the Burning Crusade I was having a tough time improving my performance. I had surpassed everyone in my guild’s knowledge of a priest and I still felt like I was lacking. I really could have used a professional lesson back then, even if only an hour.

I've been found!

One of my real life friends stumbled across my blog when Tobold linked his blog to it. I honestly never thought anyone I knew in real life would stumble across this place, much less figure out they knew me.

I guess I could use a little more anonymity when posting huh? :)

Warhammer Online

Mythic seems to be setting a frantic pace in their attempts to revitalize Warhammer Online. After nearly a year and a half it seems Mythic is finally starting to do what their community is asking. Scenario’s are being revisted and altered based greatly on the feedback from the community. New weapons have been added as RvR rewards.

Over the past 9 months Mythic has also spent a lot of time rebuilding the graphics and the layout of all the Keeps in the Open RvR areas. It seems Mythic is finally doing what they should have done from day one, listen to their gamers. I think Mythic is another great example of a developer that lost sight of what they were trying to do. A lot of bloggers and gamers often said after the launch of WAR that Mythic must not have understood WHY Dark Age of Camelot was popular because they missed the mark with WAR. WAR could have simply been DAoC2 in a Games Workshop world and it would have seen more success than it did.

Mythic changed a proven formula in an attempt to improve upon it, admirable goal but it didn’t work out. I don’t know if Mythic is making the changes to WAR because of the restructured MMO department at EA or if they really have learned from their mistakes. It’s interesting when you think about it, during beta and shortly after launch Mythic seemed to make every wrong decision possible but now it’s the opposite.

One can’t help if it’s too little to late though. I really want to delve back into Warhammer Online but between playing World of Warcraft and the launch of StarCraft 2 Beta I just don’t know if I will have time.

Warhammer Online will definitely be on my back up list. As soon as I get bored with whatever I’m currently playing I’m going to try and jump back into Warhammer. I have a 40 Knight of the Blazing Sun, a 32 Black Orc and a 21 Orc Choppa.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hire WTF Guys

I was talking to a friend in Ventrillo the other night while playing Alien Versus Predator and was reminded of my long standing belief every game needs a WTF guy. Every developer and producer take note, hire one person who is not in the game development industry but is passionate about games. Have them sit in on meetings with the sole purpose of asking WTF are you thinking when you come up with arsine ideas.

You know why Blizzard is so good at making games? They have a WTF person, his name is Tigole. Blizzard plucked Tigole out of Legacy of Steel from EverQuest and had him help develop World of Warcraft. Tigole has now moved on to Blizzard’s new MMO project. For the record I knew OF Tigole before he was with Blizzard. My EQ guild had fairly good relations with LoS back in the day.

But Epiny you say, Blizzard’s games were great before World of Warcraft! I know but Blizzard North, the creator of Diablo, was a small development company who were all WTF guys. They were NEW to the gaming industry. Blizzard proper had some experience with the Lost Vikings but Blizzard struck gold with the Warcraft series before they had a chance to be corrupted by success. After the huge success of Warcraft and Diablo Blizzard only needed to add onto what they had already accomplished. They didn’t have to rebuild anything from the ground up, only make sequels.

Think about that; not counting the Lost Vikings Blizzard has only ever created 3 types games and only 3 IPs, intellectual properties. That actually isn’t very much. Think hard on how many other companies have only created and survived on two IPs. For those wondering the 3 types are RTS, Hack and Slash RPG and a MMO.

I think I’m losing focus, it happens on these wandering rants. Hire WTF guys. It isn’t hard to pick out who has solid logical ideas for game development in the gaming community. Tobold has posted many times different ideas for what would make game encounters more interesting. If you can handle the static to noise ratio you can even find good gems in random gaming forums.

I don’t think it boils down to any one thing why games have been coming out with obviously BAD game features. I do think a contributing factor is that the developers have been in the industry to long and are looking at games from a creator’s view rather than a gamer’s view.

It’s a long time joke any time I start working on a new construction project. Everyone who is labeled as an expert in their field sits down for the first meeting, looks at the project blue prints, and wonders WTF the engineer was thinking when they drew up the plans.

People who constantly create these games often become out of touch with what a good game really is.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I don't know what to write!!!

I have a half written article about Alien Versus Predator that has been sitting on my desktop for a week but honestly the game didn’t impress me enough to warrant the effort needed to finish it. The game isn’t bad, but it’s not amazing. I will probably pick it up when Steam has a 70% off sale or something.

I’m tired of harping on WoW. I mean I could probably blog about the ass hats in WoW until judgment day and never run out of content but it just gets repetitive and starts to feel like I’m whining.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sothink SWF Quicker

I've been playing with a Flash Editor called Sothink for a little over a week now. My first impression is that I'm probably in over my head, but that's how I like my programs. I haven't had the pleasure of playing with many Flash Editor's before so I'm not sure if this is standard but so far I really like the program.

It combines the proper amount of scripting with graphical user interface, GUI, to make editing nice. I haven't actually got any image maps to work properly yet but I can already tell that I'm beginning to understand the program better. I just have one error code in the script to fix and I should be making basic working image maps after that. All this so that my brother in law's website can look more professional. At a certain point I need to start charging people for my help with things in the Tech Field.

If I can get this programing working before the trial expires I'll probably buy it. If I buy it I'm going to look into a higher quality photo editor rather than just using Microsoft Paint, although I wont lie you can do a lot with that program for what it is.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I want to keep playing WoW, I’m not going to lie. The game is fun and I love playing my Warlock and my Priest. The problem is I get just as many bad groups as I do good groups. One would think they would offset one another to make me indifferent to the prospect of another group but it doesn’t. The lows of a bad group feel so much lower than the highs of a good group.

I’m probably going to keep playing WoW, but I’m keeping an eye out for other MMOs. I reinstalled Aion as a standby and if any of my friends pick up Warhammer Online again I’ll jump ship. I’m also watching Star Trek Online for a free trial, well not watching but waiting for someone to tell me there is one. The game looks like it would be at least interesting to try out.

I’m not a huge First Person Shooter fan so Mass Effect or Battlefield don’t interest me. I’ve considered getting a PS3 off of Craigslist just to play the new Final Fantasy when it comes out but that seems like a lot of money for 1 game. Which is ironic because more often than not I am willing to rebuild my PC for a game which costs the same if not more.

I should have some reviews of flash editing software by the end of the week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

30 Days of WoW

I looked back at my first post of when I went back to WoW and it has been almost 1 month to the day.

In hindsight I made a decent amount of progress in a month. I got my Warlock from level 57 to level 72, 15 levels. I was only two bubbles from 58 so I don't really consider it a full 15 levels, but 14 is still good.

Dungeon Finder was fun and it still could be. It gets WoW’s players to the dungeons faster and easier than ever. I personally believe WoW’s best content always has been its 5 man dungeons. They have always been well designed and fun.

MMOs have always provided every subscriber with a certain amount of anonymity. You get to create a false name and identity and take on that persona while playing a game without fear of people knowing who you really are. Everyone started with a clean slate and got to build reputation with their server community based on how they choose to behave within the confines of the game.

What Dungeon Finder has done is created an environment of anonymity for your Avatar rather than just you as an individual. The vast majority of people you group with through DF are not from your server, more often than not you have never met them before. In the words of Edward Norton in Fight Club they are “single serving friends”. The downfall of this is that by providing each player with a greater level of anonymity you remove any fears they would have of social repercussions from unsavory behavior.

This all boils back down to John Gabriel’s Internet Fuckwad Theory. When a gamer has no fear of punishment and a captive audience they will often act out in ways they normally wouldn’t. Again though, I tend to be harping on this subject so I’m trying to make this point clear, this is not Blizzard’s fault. You can’t blame the person who built the street because crazy people want to stand on it and shout obscenities.

Something to consider is that we have had cross server Battlegrounds for a few years now, and people are trying to compare Dungeon Finder to BGs. The problem with BGs is that there were no tangible items to fight over. It is impossible to ninja loot in a BG. Depending on the Battleground you could have anywhere from 10 to 40 people on your side, which given statics means you are bound to have some intelligent and helpful people to offset those who are “leeches”. The amount can vary and everyone has experienced losing a BG because people didn’t work together.

I think the old Horde cave camping in Alterac Valley is a great example of John Gabriel’s theory though. There was no accountability for people who decided to AFK in the cave and “leech” honor points off the backs of their fellow Horde friends.

Some people have said that Dungeon Finder breaks immersion in WoW and of course others have said that about Cross Server Battlegrounds for years. The feature it’s self isn’t what is breaking the immersion, or gaming experience for me, it’s the people using it. Both of these features give players the opportunity to be in John Gabriel’s words and Penny Arcade a “Total Fuckwad”.

So in closing no one or two game features Blizzard has implemented is ruining my gaming experience. It’s the people using these game features with negative intentions. Blizzard has given its players a forum in which they can act out in any way with limited to no accountability for their actions and still retain their anonymity.

I hope this is my last post on Blizzard for awhile, it feels like I’m beating a dead horse. I’m glad I did blog so much this last month. I don’t think I would have been able to really pinpoint my issue with WoW if I hadn’t. I would just be another anti-WoW person spouting off random un-insightful reasons for why it failed me.

I may or may not have a post ready come Monday morning. I don’t know what I’m going to play yet this weekend.

WoW... is it time for a break already?

I think it is time I took a break from WoW. I hate to do it because I want to play WoW... but it just isn't as enjoyable as it was a month ago. I don't think it's any lack of content or feature on Blizzard's part.

I'm on a server where I don't know anyone. I don't like most people I meet in groups, you know why already. I don't like questing and groups aren't coming fast enough anymore, even on Bloodlust, to sustain my level of enjoyment.

I would need constant groups with not even good people; I would be completely happy with average people. The community would need to change and the mindset of the people who play WoW to keep me entertained and subscribing.

I don't want to quit, because I really wanted to get my Warlock to 80 before Cataclysm comes out. I think taking a month or so off from the game may be a good idea though. We shall see, I'm considering of going back to either Warhammer Online or Aion.

Bleh - Rant

To be honest the PUG community in WoW has made me want to stop playing again. The lack of respect drives me nuts. People only care about themselves and it is making my gaming experience less enjoyable.

MMOs have always been built around the idea of working with other players, in fact older MMOs had people working together in large groups numbering in the hundereds just to kill a dragon. People stopped playing for and with their friends and started playing for themselves. I'm sure alot of gamers always wanted too but the way the older MMOs were designed it was very difficult to get away with being selfish.

EverQuest required you to work as a team or you wouldn't progress. If you ninja looted, were bad at your class, or just a rude person you would get black flagged by your server's community and would no longer get groups. This was back when the idea of a server transfer was unheard of, even when Sony did allow them your chacters transfered naked and penny less.

I don't think it's Blizzard's fault for desiging World of Warcraft in a way that allows the gamers to be selfish anti-social gamers. Nothing is stopping every person who subscribers to WoW from helping their server and community, they just choose not to. There are however no artifical barriers discouraging this from happening. So while Blizzard doesn't encourage this, they don't discourage it either.

World of Warcraft gives everyone of it's gamers a chance to be the stereotypical selfish only child who can't share and only cares about him or herself. I know not everyone in WoW acts this way and I'm sure there are some guilds out there who are very helpful, however the vast majority of the PUG community is not. The PUG community is the first thing a new player or a return customer experiences.

It's been a month now and I've done about 14 levels on my Warlock dealing with this pug communtiy. I am honestly considering canceling my WoW account, not because of any one game feature but because of the community that plays the game.

Sometimes I feel like a niche game is probably more my style but most of them implent high time sinks in order to keep the "riff raff" out. So I'm not sure what to do. I like WoW, I love running 5 mans in it. I just typically can't stand 2-3 people out of that group every time I run one.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

StarCraft 2 Beta starts this month

The average gamer is selfish

You know it’s interesting, I’ve learned a lot about the MMO community in the last month and I don’t think I like it. I have been playing a Warlock leveling up in Outlands and now Northrend using the Dungeon Finder feature. My goal is to hit level 80 on my Warlock by primarily doing dungeons, I’m currently level 72.

The more time I spend in dungeons the more I realize just how bad or lazy people are. I understand that at times DPS, damage per second, Meters can be misleading. The main reason I run one is to get an idea of how I’m improving. However if it weren’t for the DPS meters I wouldn’t realize how little DPS some people did.

I typically average 1200-1500 damage per second in a group, which is including my pet. 1200 on single pulls and 1500 on nice big AoE pulls. I know that as a Warlock I’m going to have some of the highest average DPS out of the other classes in my group. I’ve never considered myself to be cocky or flaunt my skill over others. The problem is lately there are people who consistently do less damage then my pet. Most people I group with tend to be in the 500-600 DPS range and my pet is normally doing about 450.

The last 3 times someone has done less damage then my pet by the first boss I have called them out on it. I never compare MY DPS to theirs; it is always them versus just my pet. These people always have an excuse too. One Death Knight said he was eating noodles so his DPS was low, a Paladin said he was mostly AFK and a druid said the same thing.

Why do these people enter a dungeon without the intent to at least try? It is partially because with the Dungeon Finder feature there is no accountability for poor performance. We aren’t on the same server so they can ninja loot, afk, or just be plain bad and there is little I can do about it. Now I don’t want to just blame Dungeon Finder for this, because it isn’t forcing these people to act this way, it is however enabling them too.

MMO gamers today seem very much more selfish than they were 10 years ago. I think that is the standard commentary on society in general now but I’m sure as everyone gets older they all feel that way. The players in World of Warcraft don’t care about anyone but themselves. They constantly use the “it’s my $15 I’ll do what I want” as an excuse. To me that doesn’t sit right. Yes these are games and you should have fun but whatever happened to taking pride in what you do? What happened to the consideration of others?

Just because it is your $15 and your life does not give you the right to ignore the feelings and happiness of others. That is called being selfish. I don’t care how you try and spin it; nothing gives you the right to be a lazy selfish prick if it is going to affect the gaming experience of someone else. When people start thinking of the community again over themselves then MMOs may just have a chance to turn back into what originally made them great, the community.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Got the Flu

It's hard to type with your head in the toilet so no post today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mortal Online - My thoughts

I’m done with Mortal Online, atleast for now. This game is far from ready for an Open Beta. I can accept that yes this is still in fact a beta and that Star Vault has a limited staff and budget. However they can’t expect me to think this game is going to drastically change between now and when ever their official launch is going to be, can they? An Open Beta is meant to advertise your game. The excuse “it’s still beta” holds little ground when it goes Open.

For all intents and purposes the game has launched to me. I received my hard copy of the game last week. It came in a very cool metal box; the only drawback was that the game on the disc was an older version of Mortal Online and didn’t work. I still had to go to their website and download then install the game via Torrent. If I have an actual copy of the game in my hand shouldn’t I consider it launched?

After four days I was finally able to down load and install Mortal Online by using a backdoor method that the developers disapprove of, whatever though it worked. After the game was finally installed I made a character and logged in.

The character creation screen was alright. Nothing to fancy, the typical sliders you see in most MMOs now days. The sliders themselves seemed to work in a…. well not really work. You don’t get a gradual change in appearances when you move the slider; it’s as sudden and drastic as just clicking next from a preset number of selections. An interesting feature MO has done is lineage, which allows you to pick what race each of your grandparents were so you can create alternate sub races. After 20 minutes I settled on a Veela which was actually really ugly, but everything I tried to make came out ugly.

I finally logged in as Eppy the male Veela. I was glad to see that Star Vault finally added clothes so my man parts weren’t hanging out for the world to see. There was no sound, which appears to be a common problem with people who have Realtek HD on their computers.

I got to mess with the UI and move around for a bit, well 30 seconds. Then I crashed to desk top with a gamenow error. Every time I log in now I get the same error after 30 seconds. I did get to see a few people walk around me before I crashed each time. That was over the weekend.

Last night I was able to log back in and after modifing some files I prevented the CTD from happening. The game lags alot, but it's an open beta which is typically a stress test so that I can let slide a little... plus the server is hosted in Europe. The character models are still ugly. The UI is very bad. I really hate to say it because I wanted to love Mortal Online but the game just isn't very good.

From what little I could tell about Mortal Online the graphics appear to be fairly dated. The character models are all ugly. I’m fine with not everyone being super models but they are just downright ugly, everyone looks like a hung over troll who lost a bar fight.

Mortal Online is going to be one of those games that is enjoyable to read about. It has a lot of very cool ideas and features, but in the end I just don’t think it is a very polished game. The early adopters of Mortal Online are going to have to sacrifice a lot of things just to play this game. I’m almost torn as to what I think is better, Darkfall or Mortal Online. I think Mortal Online has cooler features but it just feels like Darkfall was a more complete game at the time of its launch than Mortal is now.

Some people are going to see past the dated graphics and bugs and only see an innovative beautiful and fun game. I think those will be the minority of people who try this MMO out but they will be there. For me Mortal Online is not the game I thought it would be. I would rather go back to Darkfall than give Mortal Online another try.

Monday, February 8, 2010

WoW Math

I play World of Warcraft about 2 hours a night roughly 5 or 6 nights a week. That is probably a little high but lets go with 2 hours at 6 days for ease of math.

That means I play 48 hours a month at $15 a month. So I am paying about $0.31 an hour. In China where they actually pay by the hour it's 0.45 Yaun an hour, that is roughly $0.06 an hour.

I am paying $0.25 more an hour than people in China to play WoW. For $15 I could buy 107 Chinese Yaun which would translate into 238 gaming hours... nearly 5 months of playtime at my current rate and honestly I feel I play to much.

(check my math

Mortal Online Open Beta

Mortal Online is not ready for an Open Beta. The game is in now way shape or form ready for this phase which should be more or less a free trial phase for advertising purposes.

I'm still hoping to get some decent time before a write up but the lack of sound and constant crash to desktops makes it sort of difficult.

Random techy stuff

I’m currently studying for the CCNA Exam. I was supposed to be at a class today in Georgia taking the course but the Army decided not to send me. Instead they are sending people who don’t even know what the CCNA is, one guy thought he was going to a class for his CC+M…

I want my CCNA and I more or less need it. I’m also working with different Flash and Shockwave editors to implement that into my Brother in Laws website. I’m trying to give it a professional feel… well its fun to mess with these programs but that is my excuse. I’m on my second flash editor trial program and it feels a lot like Adobe or Photoshop. I don’t think it has the feature I want but I’ll keep trying. I want to place interactive images on the website.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Why is it some of my favorite posts are replys on Tobod's and Keen's blogs...

Warhammer 40K

I’m starting to like shorter posts. I don’t get lost in what I’m trying to say. We’ll see if this continues.

Massively had a post yesterday that Vigil will be releasing info on Warhammer 40K this year at E-3, yes that’s why I want to go. The great thing is the Warhammer 40K universe is one of the most in depth and intriguing universes created in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I think Vigil is going to have two major hurdles to overcome with their MMO.

The first is focus. They can’t encompass the entire galaxy at launch. They should focus on one sub sector and the small battle going on there. This would also permit them to restrict the amount of races needed at launch.

The second is vague, but it’s implementation. Warhammer 40K is a perfect game to be released with a FPS style view, but the average MMO fan doesn’t care for the FPS view. Vigil needs to take what WoW and other MMOs have done that flourished and build on it. This is often called polish. The game has to work and it has to have the popular MMO features the competition has.

Good luck Vigil Gaming and THQ, I’m hoping for the best but forgive me if I’m not too optimistic.

Mortal Online Update

It's still down loading. I was at 79% when I left for work this morning.

This is a major reason why I stopped trying to play during the beta a few months back. Every few days you had to download a new patcher and game file via torrent. I will say that it never took THIS long back then, but I hope it's because we are in Open Beta now and there are more people trying to do it.

This game takes alot of work just to play. It's almost like Dark Fall at this point, except Dark Fall was kind of exciting trying to buy it.

Lap Top Review

I returned the Lap Top on Wednesday. Part of me didn’t want to do it but in the end I just didn’t need it anymore and since it didn’t work properly there was no reason to try and fix it.

Windows 7 isn’t as user friendly as the commercials lead me to believe. I figured I could hope on and be surfing the web in 10 minutes, that didn’t happen. Microsoft is ironically trying to oversimplify their desktop which makes it more complicated. Windows 7 may work for someone who has never touched a computer before, but that person seems very unlikely to exist anymore.

The desktop was not laid out logically. It felt like Microsoft forced icons into place rather than letting the natural order of a desktop sort it’s self out. It is sort of hard to really explain but you either are aesthetically attracted to something or you aren’t, and I wasn’t. There was very little user customization or at least it was so difficult to figure out I never got around to it. You had a number of preset Desktops to pick from and a link to download new ones. You could modify the desktop background but it felt very rigid in what changes you could make.

The laptop itself was designed poorly. It was a 15” HP laptop with a full keyboard and number pad. The problem is that a full keyboard and number pad don’t fit. Your hands sit shifted off to the left so you aren’t centered on the screen when typing. The touch pad has a smooth metallic surface and the left and right mouse buttons transition into in a way so that you can’t tell by touch if you are on the pad or the buttons.

All this aside I wanted to keep the laptop. It had a Duel Core 2.5 Gig AMD processor, 1 Gig dedicated Video Card, 6 Gigs of Ram, 7200RPM 500 Gig Hard Drive. This laptop could have replaced my desktop. The hardware was amazing and you could tell it was fast when messing around on it.

I had to return it though. The Wireless driver didn’t work properly. It would appear there is a common issue with Microsoft 64bit systems that Wireless card drivers don’t work properly. It is an extremely weird issue too because the Wireless Card works, it just wont connect to certain Websites. I couldn’t connect to Amazon, Ebay, Facebook, or Microsoft however I could connect to the website I host on GoDaddy, but not the GoDaddy main site. A quick google search resulted in finding around 10,000 other posts with the same issue.
It had to go. The kicker is when I returned it to the Service Department at Fry’s Electronics they told me what I was describing was impossible. I challenged them to look into it and rather than deal with me I got a full refund rather then losing 15% to restocking. Before my return receipt was even printed they put a reduced price tag on the laptop and were getting it ready to go back out on the floor.

I will NEVER buy a computer from Fry’s again. I tried to help them and explain the issues with this laptop and they thought I was some computer illiterate moron.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Just full of posts today

I am considering putting ads on the blog. I don't actually want any money from this but I need a W-2 to prove I'm in the gaming industry to get access to E-3. It's to late to do it this year but I would like the option if I do.

If I do add advertising to the blog I think I'm going to set up a donation fund directly to the American Cancer Foundation. Maybe do a little good while we are at it, eh?

Mortal Online Warning

For those of you interested in Mortal Online I would suggest to wait. This game has potential, but it requires alot of effort by the user to get it to work right now. This game was never intended for the average gamer, remember that. It was built around the Hard Core gamers and as such a higher level of computer trouble shooting skills is expected of those trying to play it than normal.

Yes it is Open Beta and I'm not making excuses for that. I am saying that I think Mortal Online will probably always require alot more effort to keep running than your average MMO. I'm going to put some effort into getting it going. I think this game deserves a solid review.

DPS can carry a group too

I’m back on the Bloodlust Battle Group and getting groups again. I’ve now beat Utgarde Keep three times, two of those times getting me my daily Emblems. Utgarde Keep should be a relatively Dungeon to clear, yet it seems to be the other way around.

The pulls are set up in a way that you typically can pull 2-3 mobs and on the very rare occasion you must face 4. In the worst case scenario the tank should only have to be taking damage from two mobs at any given time because it is reasonable to assume there are two forms of CC in a group, be it Sheep or a DK off tank. The problem is no one uses CC. This creates a more difficult dungeon for the Tank and Healer trying to deal with more damage coming in over a shorter period of time. DPS typically only need to worry about killing things, thus a fairly simple job.

Now an interesting even occurred last night. I got in a group for Utgarde Keep again and I could tell right away this group probably wouldn’t make it past the first boss, however since I have my debuff timer I figured I may as well hang out until it wears off. That ended up being a good idea.

The group struggled the entire time. The healer, a priest, was running OOM after every pull and the tank’s health was doing the yo-yo thing that they all hate. Two of the DPS in our group, a DK and Rogue, were doing about 500 DPS. That left me. I typically push out around 850DPS and can control my agro but this group was having an issue. If we had more DPS spread out over 3 people we would reduce the amount of damage the tank is taking, and increase the mana pool reserves of our healer.

I took it upon myself to put in the extra effort and bring my DPS up to 1200. It took more effort than I typically care to give in a PUG Dungeon and it also puts me in a precarious position of almost always pulling agro. I had to chew up a lot of Soul Stones just to drop agro and stay alive.

The group was fun though, even if it felt like a 3 man. Our tank did her best to keep agro and the healer kept the tank, himself, and me alive. We made it all the way to the last boss, Ingvar the Plunderer. By the time we had reached him I had done over 52% of the damage for the total run and the other two DPS classes each had about 18%.

We pulled Ingvar and the DK and Rogue saw fit to die in the first 10 seconds. The Paladin made it to phase two where he died. I switched to demon form, put me pet on taunt and life tapped Ingvar. I did eventually die but not until I brought him down to 30%.
This isn’t a story about how great I am, I think I’m probably a mediocre Warlock who just plays with subpar people. This is to point out that Healers and Tanks aren’t the only ones who carry a group. One or two strong DPS classes can be as good as an over geared healing. The bottom line is killing the mobs before they kill you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mortal Online

I had almost forgotten about Mortal Online until I came home from work and found a package from Sweden on my desk. I just got the game from Star Vault and it comes in a nice metal box. I figured since I bought the game I may as well install it... though I am playing WoW while it installs.

If the game doesn't have any issues I will try it out, but I'm not interested enough anymore to fight hours of technical issues.

Soap Box

I’ve never seen a group of people more inclined to use labels than the blogging community. They then take those labels and try and morph the definitions into something that supports their ideal values of what makes a good game.

Labels and definitions aren’t the building blocks of a quality game. They are ways of defining the characteristics of the game so producers and developers can target their marketing better. You can’t claim that Halo is a FPS, First Person Shooter, and then in the same sentence claim that Dark Void isn’t because of the quality difference of the games.

We don’t get to choose which games are assigned to which genre category based on the quality of these games. The gaming community needs to understand that there will be bad games and good games that come from the same genre and we can’t alter the requirements of that genre to weed out the lesser games.

The purpose of genre is marketing, remember that, and hold on to that. No matter what the developers decide to label the game it will not ensure its success or failure. The entire purpose of labels is to help new customers find a game they may like based on similarities with other games. So everyone let’s step off our soap boxes together. Labels don’t define a game, they just help people get an idea of what to expect when shopping.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

From Bloodlust to Emberstorm and back again, a Warlocks Tale

Everyone comments on a game to game comparison. In Warhammer Online people often compared servers to servers due to population balance being such a huge factor in that game. Very seldom do you hear about server or Battlegroup discussion in WoW other then the offhand comment during the closing days of an Arena Season. For those that don’t know WoW has clustered servers together to enable cross server PvP for some time, these are called Battle Groups.

I was recently given, well not given because I paid, but I was able to experience two separate servers on two very different Battle Groups as the same character. My original server was on Frostwolf which resides on the Bloodlust Battle Group, often referred to as BG9. Bloodlust is home to the best Arena Teams in North America, arguably the world. With the ability to transfer from PvE to PvP and transfers only costing $25 all the servers on the Bloodlust Battle Group have been bursting at the seams for some time now. For anyone just starting to get into PvP this is not the place to be, because of that some of my friends transferred to the Emberstorm Battle Group because it was newer and not as competitive.

What does all this PvP talk have to do with someone leveling a now 70 Warlock through Dungeon Finder? Well that’s simple the Dungeon Finder pulls people from your Battle Group, which means the more populated your Battle Group the faster you will find a group via Dungeon Finder.

As soon as my friends playing on Emberstorm found out that I was playing again they began hitting me up to join them. I wanted to level a Warlock to 80 using Dungeon Finder though so I waited. On Thursday of last week I finally moved him over to their server on the Emberstorm Battle Group, and I immediately regretted it. You can probably already see where this is going.

The Bloodlust Battle Group has North American servers along with Oceanic Servers, this provides a great balance of round the clock players. Since Bloodlust is also the most popular place to play, everyone has alts on it. That means that on average when I was on Bloodlust before I would wait 5-10 minutes for a group, with the longest being 25 minute wait. I had logged in at 4:00AM PST one morning and got a group in 10 minutes. Bloodlust made Dungeon Finder fun because of the amount of people.

On to Emberstorm. The first night, last Thursday night, after the transfer was complete I queued up for Dungeon Finder. During prime time, 8:00PM PST, I was shocked to find out it was a 60 minute wait as DPS to get a group. I figured the count had to be off so I waited for awhile doing some quests, by the way I hate quests. After about 45 minutes I logged off and read.

I tried again Friday night, and to my dismay I got in a 45 minute wait. I did however join a group slightly sooner, though they had already completed half a dungeon. I was only able to find time for half a dungeon Friday night. Saturday I was at a friend’s playing poker so no gaming that night but Sunday didn’t improve. I wasn’t able to even get a group Sunday night. I would have transferred back Friday night but I didn’t want to spend 25 more dollars to go back where I came from and then transfer back to Emberstorm when I finally hit 80.

I was home sick yesterday. Too sick to work, just enough energy to play WoW, perfect. I logged in and was again greeted with a 45 minute queue. That was the last draw. I logged off and began researching servers. I knew I wanted to be on Bloodlust but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go straight back to my old server. You see I’ve always played on PvP servers and with the new ability to transfer from PvE to PvP it made sense to me to transfer to a PvE server on Bloodlust to prevent any chance of being ganked while leveling up.

After 20 minutes of looking I found my new home, Senjin. I paid my $25 and went and took a nap. I woke up two hours later, logged on, and was thrilled to be in a 15 minute wait for Dungeon Finder.

A lot of work and money went in to what should have been a no brainer. The more people, the easier it is to group. So if you are planning on making an alt may I suggest a PvE server on the Bloodlust Battle Group. You will get the benefit of the most populated group without the needless ganking. I think Blizzard should really just consider making all their servers into one huge super Battle Group.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Busy weekend, probably wont have a post today.