Saturday, June 28, 2008

Smart or a strike out?

I am a fan of The Instance, which is hosted by Scott Johnson of My Extra life and Randy Deluxe. Several weeks ago, they picked up a third host, not just anyone, but a true blue celebrity, Curt "Bloody Sock" Schilling, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. I find this an extremely interesting development.

Mr. Schilling is currently working on developing an MMO of his own through the company he founded, 38 Studios. He has hired author R.A Salvatore, artist Todd McFarlane and several of Sony's EQ2 development team. Expectations are high considering the amount of top quality people they have started to acquire, not unlike drafting a world series team.

Now, you can add co host to one of the most popular World of Warcraft podcast to his resume. I find this every interesting. This also wasn't a slow transition, one episode he was being interviewed, which is logical since he dropped EQ2 for the much easier to play WoW, then, boom, the next episode he was in the co host chair.

Once he was in the chair, he slowly started working around to asking questions of the listeners and specifically of the other hosts.

Questions like "What parts of WoW do you like and why"? "What types of quests are your favorite?" What is your most favorite dungeon in WoW ?" "What is your favorite class and why?". Questions that someone developing their own game might ask of players of a game they will most likely be competing against. I'm just suggesting that Curt maybe a lot more cleaver than the average ball player.

He now has access, throught The Instance, to a large WoW audience. He is able to get information about their likes and dislikes. He can then take this information, head back to his developement team and provide ideas on how to compete with WoW. With the other hosts of the show on board, he'll have good playtesters when the time comes to put his yet to be named game into beta.

Now, I might be completely off track. I do like a good conspiracy theory. Or we could be talking about a really smart guy. Listen for yourself and tell me.

Hell Unfreezes!

For some time, there had been some speculation as to what Blizzard would reveal at the Worldwide Invitational this week in Paris, France. Well the wait is finally over. After posting several nondescript splash screens, the secret ended at approximately 12:18 p.m. on June 28th.

It's now official, DIABLO III is on its way. The site offers an introduction trailer and a very comprehensive in game video that just makes my mouth water for this game. The game graphics are impressive. Although the diablo environment has been interactive to some extent, this time it can also help you in defeating creatures. I've not seen a game this innovative in a long time, Spore being the exception. lol

This will be a must have title for me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not Sporing at all!

Spore is the new simulation game being introduced by Maxis. This is how Wikipedia describes the game,

It allows a player to control the evolution of a species from its beginnings as a unicellular organism, through development as an intelligent and social creature, to interstellar exploration as a space faring culture. It has drawn wide attention for its massive scope, and its use of open-ended game play and procedural generation.

The full game hasn't been released yet, but the Creature Creator part of the game has and its pretty awesome. It allows you to create your own little creature, by adding different body parts and resizing them to what ever body you choose. This little trial of the game is limited on how many different parts and how much you can actually add to the creatures body, but it's still lots of fun. I'm hoping the full version will be as in depth as CoH character creator, which in my book is among the best out there.

The only controversial issue with this game, so far, is that you'll need online authorization to activate the game. I don't see a problem with this, there are already lots of popular games that use this system, such as Valve's Steam, which I find more intrusive. Besides the internet is pretty much everywhere and if they didn't require an internet connection, you would probably have to keep up with the disk to play. They will not be using the SecuROM's 10-day periodic re-authentication as originally thought. You can find more information here.

Once you create your creature, you can have it dance around, reproduce and do all kinds of interesting animation. There is also the option to take pictures of your creature or make a movie, which you can upload to the web. So far I've only taken a few pictures.

This is Boogie, my first attempted at a creature.

My second attempt wasn't that great, but it was still fun. You can also modify the body color, give it spots or stripes. Again, lots of fun.

There is an option to spawn three little babies that look just like it.

So far this game has me hooked. I could spend hours just creating creatures. lol It reminds me a lot of the original Black & White game, which I never finished but enjoyed a bunch. I like games that think outside the box and provide the gamer with something different. I can see this game being anything but boring.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Common Sense Developers

Recently, Darren over at Common Sense Gamer shared his feelings about the continued concern, even today, about the now famous debacle that was the SWG NGE.  SOE's John Smedley has repeated apologized for the poor implementation of the changes to the game and felt that it was definitely a misstep as far as creating a successful MMO.

The problem with the NGE, from a person that is only reading about it and never played the game, is that it pretty much overhauled the whole game.  It dumbed down the skill system and changed the way combat was done.  But these in of themselves are not bad, its just they all happened at the same time in the same patch.  The game went from being played one way to being a completely different game the next.

My point of bringing this all up is that MMO's get changed all the time.  I think SOE's mistake was to do it all at once, where it became apparent.  The players could actually see all the changes at once and had something to complain about.  I say this because, WoW keeps changing all the time, but in slower increments.

Since release, they have hit just about every class with a nerf bat that most of them are spitting up foam on a regular bases now, gutted a good portion of the honor system, made the xp race to 60 a lot easier and now in the coming patch, you'll be able to get a riding mount at 30 instead of 40.  For the most part they keep dumbing down the game in a slow but steady pace to get new players in and to make the process of making alts more appealing to those waiting for new content.  But these are in fact pretty significant changes, but if taken in small doses, they become more transparent and tend to lull the player into thinking nothing is really happening.  If these all happened at one time, I'm sure people would be shouting foul or yelling, "Remember the NGE, the NGE" on forums and blogs all over the place.

So, I think the NGE experience is happening in all MMO's albeit a little smoother and slower than in SWG.  I just think the shock of it coming all at once is what freaked a lot of players out and the bad press from that kept a lot of new players from getting in the game.  

Thats one humble players opinon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Comics aren't easy!

This is my third attempt at a comic character. The problem is, I don't know how to draw hands. lol I will have to add them in later, when I figure out what my characters are going to do with their hands.

My style isn't very unique. I'm pretty sure I'm stealing my style from someone else, but for now, I'm going to go for it. If anyone has any ideas on how to draw hands, feet and other below the neck body parts, let me know. lol

And yes, I've not given up on blogging about gaming yet. I've been having too much fun with this little project, besides, I picked up Photoshop Elements 6 today, so I had to make sure it worked. I really wish that particular program wasn't so expensive, but I guess people have to go broke for their craft. Not that I've got a craft to be broke from. lol

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

That's Not FUNNY!

Ok, this is my first attempt at taking one of my many doodles and posting it online.
I have yet to master the art of Photoshop, but I am learning.

Its all a work in progress. One day I hope to have the normal comic panels and speech balloons, but that may take some time.

Never Meaning No harm....

I am back!

Last week I was away working in Music City. That would be Nashville, TN for all you non country music lovin folks out there, or Canadians. I had a crappy time while I was there. I felt bad and was having all this mysterious pain stuff happening, but lucky for me it wasn't bad enough to kill me, so you'll have to keep reading more of my desparate attention getting slop. Sorry.

I will say this for Nashville.....I don't get it! Let me start off by saying that I like country music. I like all kinds of music, and when I say I don't get it, I just don't see what the big hoopla is.

I will say that I probably didn't experience the full on force of Nashville. What I did experience was a small section of down town, where the world famous bar, Tootsies's Orchid Lounge is located. Course I think Tootsies only true claim to fame is that it is exactly 4o steps away from the backdoor of the Ryman Auditorium, which was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 - 1974 and where after their Opry performance, many would step on over to Tootsies and party till the early morning hours. A lot of people, including Willie Nelson got their start at Tootsies.

It like other bars in that area are filled with people listening to music till wee hours of the morning. Most of these people are drunk and having a grand old time, whooping and a hollering. Apparently all of them, course not those throwing up in the street, are having a great time. I like all kinds of music, but after experiencing this atmosphere for about and hour, it occurred to me that I just didn't get it. I mean, it was nice and all, but it was hard for me to imagine that this little area is the heart of country music. I guess when you have that many drunk people in one place, it helps cultivate music. Apparently I lacked the musical taste and drunken swagger necessary to understand this. Don't think me a prude by no means, I love to get my drink on, but I just didn't get the whole, this is Music City, the capital of country music.

I did get to see the Cooter's museum/over priced Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia store. That's me in the red shirt up at the top with my boss Devin in his now famous pink General Lee hat. I will say that being a block away from the liquor store probably helps them pull in people, because you would really have to be a rabid Duke's of Hazzard fan or drunk to even step in the place. It was pretty Cheesy and I was tempted to buy a shirt, but then I wouldn't have been able to buy the bottle of wine which helped me block out the visit there.

So thats what I did last week.

I did manage to play a little bit of WoW since arriving back home on Saturday. I finally defrosted my level 67 Dwarf Warrior and started and started the slow climb to 70. I figure having an extra 70 around will help when I start breaking in my Death Knight at the end of the year. That is if Blizzard doesn't pull a Houdini on us and change the release date till early next year.

Nothing more exciting to say right now. I do have a few ideas for future blogs, but nothing I can motivate myself to working on right now. After being away from the keyboard for a week, it has always been difficult for me to get back in the grove of playing, let alone raid. I know a lot of people are so hooked they jump right on the second they get back in the house, but I have to pace myself to get back into it the so called Grind of daily playing. I do hope this week I'll be able to work myself slowly out of this slight slump and do some raiding this weekend.

In the mean time, hang in there. I should have some interesting posts this week. Nothing to controversial, but still, you never know what a dwarf can think up.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Step 1: Admit your Addiction

I'm an addict!

Particularly, I am addicted to WoW.  I just thought I would finally come clean, hopeful that this will in the end set me free of my addiction.

To start with, let me clarify things a bit.  Basically, when I say I'm addicted, what I mean is, it's hard to get interested in another MMO, when I know that I can fall back to the wonderful entrancing-ness that is WoW.  

It's a drug that I just can't kick. 

Point in fact.  

I really like AoC.  The game has issues, but nothing that would really prevent me from playing it.  When I do play it, it is a lot of fun doing fatalities and kicking the crap out of PvPers.  But even knowing how much fun I will have while playing, its still a challenge for me to even get motivated to log in.

Where as, logging into WoW is second nature to me now.  It's like breathing out and breathing in.  Maybe, I've just grown accustom to its look, accustom to the play style, accustom to the game.  (Ok, so I like My Fair Lady!)

This was also the problem when I was started City of Heroes and LOTRO.  Both games captured my attention for a brief periods of time, but I just couldn't devote the time, because I was too busy logging back into WoW every chance I got.  They just didn't grab me the way WoW does.  Both those games did execute certain things correctly.  For instance,  City of Heroes has THE best character creation out there and  LOTRO has some of the best PvE quests and story emerson that are out there today.  But it just wasn't enough to get me coming back again and again.  Not like WoW. 

I am not giving up on AoC.  When I do log in, I have a great time, but its not a WoW time.  I'm hoping with all the news thats surfacing about WAR on the Massively site, it will be the game to capture my attention.  The problem is, WOTLK will be out around the same time, or shortly after and if WAR doesn't deliver on all cylinders, then its going to be spinning its wheels, losing people back to WoW.

Is it possible that I've just become a WoW drug zombie?  I log in, do some busy work, like run some dailies, do a few battle grounds, maybe even kill some time farming motes, then just log out.  The whole time, I feel I'm doing something of substance, but in fact, I'm doing a bunch of nothing.  I don't get anything out of it, but it still seems to fulfill my MMO needs.
Maybe it's peer pressure?  I've managed to find a great guild that raids two maybe three times a week.  I'm starting to get the gear I need to progress.  They are a great bunch of people, very friendly and helpful.  All my friends play, so I can easily keep up with what they have been up too.

I know the game is good, but its not spectacular, but yet, I'm compelled to log in and play, for no other reason than compulsion.  Maybe the game has hypnotized me into thinking its the only game I should be playing?  Maybe the new 2.4 patch code is effecting me in ways I've only read about in books or seen on really bad Sci-Fi Channel movies.

I really want to give other games a try.  But until WoW does something to really screw up or changes its addictive properties, I think I'm stuck playing.

Maybe WAR will be the methadone to help me break my WoW habit.

Just Pick out a Purse!

I know, the site keeps changing format and color. I can't seem to decide on anything in particular. I hope to get this finished soon.

Thanks for sticking with me during this time of uncertainly.

Also, any bloggers out there know how I can acquire stats on my blog site please let me know. Apparently, Googles Blogger doesn't have built in web stats like wordpress. Any suggestions will be helpful.

Monday, June 2, 2008

SHUT UP, We're trying to raid!

End game is complicated, its messy and in some cases it hurts.

Basically, to do any of the major raid instances, you need the right kind of gear.  Well, this gear isn't just laying around and there are many ways it can be earned via battle grounds, heroic instances or crafting.  None of this is easy.  Lots of time and gold has to be spent to acquire the much coveted gear to even start the raiding process. 

Now, after the appropriate gear is acquired, a player can start on their first raid, which current is one of the 10 man raid instances, most likely Karazhan.  Now we are progressing.  But what is to be had through this so called progression.  Well, more gear of course.  Gear comes through obtaining badges, reputation or normal boss drops.  

Once this has been done, and you've acquired the right type of gear, you would progress to the next phase, which would be, the 25 man raid, like Mount Hyjal or Black Temple.  But why, well so you can get more improved gear. This is end game progression boiled down to its basics.  I would like to believe that people are there to experience the challenge of the hard boss fights or to see the cool instance design.  But the truth is, end game is really about gear.

But what if...

What if the goal wasn't to have the purple gear but to achieve something else in the game?  Would people play it if you eliminated the materialistic aspect of end game?  Would this make people want to raid even more?

People complain about how they hate end game, but they don't offer up any optional solutions.  We are, at our very core, materialistic.  We just are.   We play these games so our characters can acquire things, whether its, PvP honor, great gear or just a crap load of money.  And if anything, we live through our characters in these games, right?

And because of this, we know that nothing comes to us without a price.  Basically, you have to work to get the great gear.  My problem is people saying, I hate this game or that game because of end game raiding and thats just plain crazy.  Its all the same, no matter how you slice it.  I have not played an mmo yet that didn't require some type of hard, time consuming work to obtain anything.  Its the price you pay to play the game.

My suggestion, basically, is to get over it.