Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Sunday Paper Editoral

Today, I have to work all day, so I'm not going to be able to come up with anything interesting to chat about, not that I ever do. But I thought, since a lot of other bloggers set aside Sunday for their readers to discuss whats on their mind I would do the same today. I doubt that I have enough readers, so I thought I would start everyone off with a little question to answer.

What is the worst design implemented in a game? Not just MMO's because I don't want this to turn into a giant slam session or who has the better MMO. I'm just curious as to how many people think that developers just miss it, bad graphics, poor game mechantics, strange story lines, etc. I see lots of games get poor scores in gaming magazines, and then later I'll play them and go, who thought this was bad. So, I thought I would give the gamers a chance to respond.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The problem with easy!

World of Warcraft spoils players and therefore makes playing other MMO's very difficult. Recently, I reactivated my LOTRO account. My reasoning for this was to have a place to escape from the World of Warcraft in an effort to prevent the all too common burn out. So, I play a little LOTRO with my Casualties of War buddies maybe once or twice a month.

The issue I am facing with LOTRO, which WoW is directly reponsible for, is that I am finding it difficult to do my questing. In WoW, I just grab a few quests then I let the little arrow, provided by my questhelper mod, guide me around till I reach the area where I need to complete the task set upon me by the quest. LOTRO has a built in quest assistant that is in beta, but it's not very helpful or it could just be me, who knows. Because of it's flaws, I'll have to inevitably read the actual quest, which is just foreign to me, n order to figure out where I need to go, but even that can be confusing because the main map doesn't show the names of all the small town like areas, even after you uncover them. This makes doing and turning in quests cumbersome to a person who is use to a mod leading him or her around by the nose.

I do enjoy LOTRO, but having to spend so much time trying to figure out where to go just to do a simple collection or talk to X quest is really annoying. Why can't games be more like WoW? Everyone says that LOTRO is just WoW with a different skin, but I just don't see it. Sure the game is beautiful, without requiring a top end system to see it. The sounds of wind blowing over the mountain tops, the babble of the brooks and waterfalls make the game come alive and add lots of fantastic atmosphere, but how good is that if there isn't some mod or in game helper dragging me around from place to place pushing me to complete quests so I can level up faster and get on with the job of End Game pursuits?

How can people be expected to enjoy a game, who's sole purpose is story line and intricate questing, if they can't figure out where to go next to kill mob X and collect Q? Even Warhammer Online had a system that would color areas of the map letting you know where to go. How hard is it these days for a game to make questing less complicated? Everyone knows that questing is the only way developers can justify XP, which is the sole vehicle that propels characters towards end game loot and glory. Why else would you play an MMO? For tradeskilling or story line? Come on, if that was the case, then LOTRO and EQ2 would be on top not WoW.

The Future of Gaming

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Update

I've updated my blog roll, which is something I've been meaning to do for a while now. Added a few from my Google reader like, Makkaio's, Werit's and Openedge1's blogs.

I have removed a few, including a blog that I've been following in one form or another over the last couple of years. Hudson's Hideout has been a favorite of mine for a while, but he has decided to move the blog, yet again, which will make the 4Th time since I started following him to yet another blog site, specific to his current passion and I honestly don't have the energy to chase after him. Hud moved so he could properly discuss all things related to Champions Online, which he is now in the beta. I am interested in the game, but don't feel the need to be drawn into all the hype just yet. I learned my lesson with Age of Conan and WAR. So, I'll wait this time.

I wish him the best of luck.

Anyway, the update is complete. I'll try to have more blog posts this week, if possible.

Blizzard, the Fifteen dollar Whore

World of Warcraft is now a very broken game.

I came to this conclusion when I discovered that no one spends any decent amount of time in the old world. I know someone that uses the Recruit A Friend program, which is Blizzard's form of mentoring, to help level up a friend and new player to WoW. The new recruit started 3 weeks ago, has played very sparsely and is already level 41. He has yet to do one instance, because he out levels them so quickly. Personally, I feel he is missing out on some of the best content in the game and all because Blizzard wants to sell boxes.

Players often complain that games don't have a way to help recruit friends into the game. Eq2 has the mentoring system, CoH has the side kick program, both of which don't increase the experience structure for the new player. It either brings the character's levels down or up to that of the other party member, making it more challenging and fun.

How can you enjoy anything if your whipping past it all at neck break speeds?

Speaking of break neck speeds, what's worse is you don't even have to travel by foot anymore? With the R.A.F program, the experienced player can port his new recruit around the globe to all the flight points in a matter of days. Where is the feeling of accomplishment there? I remember running all the way to Stonetalon just to get that alliance flight point for the first time. Sure it was a task to avoid mobs and horde, but it was also fun and something I was proud of doing. We even took a small team of people just incase the opportunity to gank appeared. Now, it's done in a few seconds, where is the sport in that?

Blizzard, doesn't want new players hanging out in their old, dusty world. They want them to purchase WoTLK and play in Northrend. These new players level quickly, get to end game, but lack the skills necessary to raid or do instances. They won't find a good fit. They'll get frustrated and leave the game, because they don't understand how it's all done.

I'm sure that I'm blowing that completely out of proportion, but how many times have people gotten into PuGs and found people lacking in the basic skills necessary to participate in the dungeon? Last night, I wanted to level up my enchanting, so I asked a paladin, who had run by me, if he wanted some free enchants. After finally being able to communicate this to him, he failed to understand how to put a bound item into a trade window for enchanting. After 5 minutes of trying to help him figure it out and him still failing, I gave up, ungrouped and continued my questing.

Was that an example of someone leveling too fast to understand the complexities of the game, or someone that leveled his character the E-Bay way? I have no clue, but either way, there is a gimped Paladin on the Darkspear server and heaven help the group that needs him to tank or heal.

I'm not against easy, but just laying down and letting players romp and stomp over old content is pretty sad. It says we have no respect for what our developers did in the early years, just have your way with us, because we need the box sales. Let us be your fifteen dollar whore.

The World Of Warcraft

"I got it bad, got it bad, got it bad, I'm hot for WoW"

Yes, I bastardized a very good Van Halen song for this post. I'm sorry, but it just seemed to pop into my head when I was driving home from work, trying to come up with a good blog post for this week. Sad to say, I still haven't come up with a good blog post for this week.

None the less, I'm going to talk about WoW, my addiction and my very bad case of Alt-itis.

Originally, when I started back playing WoW recent, I had decided to limit, (this part still makes me laugh), my playing to once maybe twice a week. The goal was to play with friends, get my Paladin, Oakley, up a few levels, hang with friends and just chill. We all agreed to keep it casual, play when we could and keep our characters in a specific level range so we would be able to keep together and Azeroth as one group. The problem was, as I started hanging out, I started to crave more of WoW, so I decided to work on a Death Knight, Paynel.

At first, I just wanted to play my Death Knight on the evenings I was bored and couldnt' find anything else interesting to watch on TV. Then I just wanted to level up his herbalism and inscriptions skills. Course, the more I played, the more I wanted back in the game. I got the Death Knight up to the same level as everyone else in our weekly group and decided that he would be a good alt incase I grew bored with my Paladin, which meant restricting my play time with him.

Thus began the merry go round of old unleveled toons, whom I had created a year or two back, but never had any great interst in leveling up, until now. I worked a little leveling love into my weekly play. I would work on one or two a week, slowly, getting them up a few levels till the double xp would expire. To date, I've managed to move my Shaman, Jindi, up from 24 to 28, my warlock, Moordryd, from 45 to 48 and my priest, Gwinaveer, from 27 to 36. As you can see my priest has slowly become my new favorite class, since she's getting a lot more loving these days. On a side note, Shadow Priests Rock! I also filled in my last character slot with a hunter, Sashax, who is now 20 and quickly becoming a very good chef and fisherman. Course, wink, wink, I only started leveling her up to play with our new guildies.

As you can see, I'm back full time in WoW and really enjoying it this time around. As I've stated before in a previous post, playing with friends, who don't pressure you to raid, or complain about how bad your gear is or hassle you about the way you play, makes a big difference. The game and Blizzard now have their grubby little meat hooks in me pretty strong, but I don't regret it. We have an influx of new players in our guild, Noobs. Fresh recruits for Blizzard to amaze and annoy.

I have to say, this time around the game is a lot more fun, even thought I'm pissed about how addictive the game has become. (insert FORCED SMILE here!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Good, the Bad, the Action Movie

Two things.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Star Trek: The Original Series. After some reluctance, I slowly grew to also enjoy the Next Generation as well, although I would routinely root for them killing off either Ryker or Wesley Crusher. I also enjoyed the movies, Wrath of Khan being the best of course, and the one with the Borg being the second best. I wanted to say all this because I am a fan.

So it is no surprise that I am very excited and looking forward to the new movie, which shows the early years of the crew, coming out on May 8Th. However, I have some concern.

Mostly the concern centers around facts introduced in the movie Wrath of Khan concerning Kirk's years at the Star Fleet Academy. Specifically, If they don't include the telling of Kirk's encounter with the Kobayashi Maru scenario during those early years, then I might just have to get up and walk out of the theater. This, as a fan, would be a grave injustice to the series and the movies that have proceeded and established this franchise. It would be like writing a Star Wars movie without any reference to Darth Vader or the Skywalker family.

Second, I'm also a fan of the X-Men comic, not much of a fan of the second and third X-Men movies, but they didn't completely suck, nor did they ruin the franchise. I was actually glad to see Cyclops get exploded, as it were, by Jean Grey. But, in the first movie, Cyclops clearly has never met Wolverine before he comes to the mansion and yet, he appears in the trailer for the Origins movie.

Obviously, it would make sense that Wolverine doesn't remember him, because of the amnesia, but how could Scott not know him? Yes, the trailer shows a young, possibly teenage Scott Summers and the trailer might be cut to hype the movie and the two might not even meet up, who knows. This doesn't concern me as much as the Star Trek issue, meaning, I'll not walk out, but as Desi use to say "Lucy, you got some explaining to do."

Told you I was an X-Men fan, scary ain't it?

But, you know me, I might just be over thinking both scenarios. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The 80's

Feeling a little nostalgic, I bring you these videos from the 80's.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Socially Retarded

I really don't like Ysharros, because every time I visit her site I end up kicking myself for not coming up with the great topics that she comes up with. Then, I end up writing these long in depth comments when I should have just posted them here and generate my own traffic.

While crafting my latest response to Ysh's recent thought provoking post, it occurred to me that today's MMO player has become quite possibly irreversibly, socially retarded. More to the point, that their social skills have become stunted, maybe even under developed. I'm not sure how this happened. I propose that maybe Blizzard had somehow contributed to this problem by dumbing down their MMO for consumption by the average or below average player. That they somehow have unleashed upon the gaming community a plethora of selfish brats that spend most of their time, being rude to other players, trying to one up their fellow player anyway they can and very possibly have lost all respect for their fellow gamers and think of them not as people, but as tools for them to use for their own profitable end game endeavors.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong and people have evolved over time into these heathens through real world experiences rather than virtual ones. Everybody is rude, pushy, and socially inapt and MMO's are just a reflection of what is happening in the real world. Maybe today's games introducing more soloable content and less dependency on grouping are creating a whole new breed of player that just doesn't understand how to behave around others. The idea of who has the shiniest armor, who gets to kill the mega boss at the end game, or who can out DPS their neighbor may be a result of the stunted, under developed socially inept player or it's also a contributing factor, who really knows.

There, I feel much better now. Coffee and a rant, who could ask for a better morning, right Ysh?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Honest Scrap Awards

I've been awarded or rather tagged by my fellow blogger and all around great gal, Ysharros, with the Honest Scrap Award.

This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.

Apparently the rules are as follows:
  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!
The great thing is my google reader is actually full of great blogs, sad thing is, I can only choose 7. Of Course, most of them have already been awarded, so if your following this particular MEME around the blogsphere you'll notice a trend. When it comes to telling you why I like these blogs it might be difficult, mainly because it's not unlike explaining why you like a book, the emotions, passion and insight gathered can't truly described, it's something the individual has to experience themselves. So, with that said, I give you my 7.

Stylish Corpse: Yes, I know, I shouldn't tag the person that tagged me, but, if I have to be honest, Ysh has one of the best discussion blogs out there. She is a bit cranky at times, well, a lot cranky at times, but that makes for a wonderful starting place for long interesting game

Pumping Irony: Scott was one of the first blogs I added to my reader. Discussions cover anything from DDO, LOTRO to Xbox 360 games. Always a very good and honest read. Besides he's a pretty good friend, so give his site a look.

The Ramblings of Jobildo: Can't remember how I ended up at Bill's site. It might have been a link from another blog, but again, a very fun site. Bill is a cartoonist for Ten Ton Hammer and also a fellow CoW along with Ysh. He covers WoW, WAR and a few other games.

Common Sense Gamer: Probably the first MMO blog I ever read and to this day I don't know how I got there, but Darren usually has lively discussions about MMO happenings and news. Most entries are short, but the discussions have been ledgendary at times which is probably why he hosts Shut Up We're Talking, a podcast dedicated to pulling topics from interesting blogs and well, discussing them with his round table of gamers.

Hudson's Hideout: Originally a WoW blog, that has slow migrated over to cover a varity of other topics such as blu-ray releases, comics, pro football and as well as other games. I can't really explain why I like Hud's blog, only to say that his mental demeanter at times keeps me coming back for more.

Thallian and Anton's MMO and...: Always a fun place to visit and read up on my anime and game developement. They discuss just about everything in the gaming community and have wonderful insight into all things anime. They are also working on creating their own game, which I look forward to playing sometime.

The Fickle Corebear: This site is actually a recent addition to my blog reader. Makkaio is a someone I discovered while crusing the CoW's Forum boards, under their blogger thread. If there is anyone who deservers to be awarded an honesty award it's Makkaio. You just have to read it to understand.

Ok, now the hard part.

  1. I own tons of games, but I've never once finished one. Sure, I've gotten to 70 in WoW, but does that really count as finishing a game?
  2. I would be completely lost without my wife, Angie.
  3. I like Musicals. Paint your wagon and Hello, Dolly are two of my favorite.
  4. I like to solo more than playing with friends, a habit I'm slowly trying to break.
  5. I'm a poser when it comes to cars, the economy, and politics. I know nothing, but I pretend I do.
  6. I'm a loud talker and don't know how to control it.
  7. I'm very bad at spelling and sentence structure and yet, I have a blog, go figure the irony there.
  8. The term speaking before you think was created to describe me.
  9. Starting projects isn't my problem, only finishing them.
  10. I've always wanted to be part of a MEME, but am always sad when I never get tagged and everyone else on my blog reader is, thank you YSH, your my new hero.
Well, that's it for me, I hope you all learned something valuable from my honesty.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Quest For Fun

Greetings Evil Doers or Loyal readers. I know it's been few days since I posted anything, but I have a very good reason, honest.

This weekend I've made the trek to Atlanta to play PC games with friends over a lan network. Sure, we could have all played online and saved a bunch of gas and money, but I prefer doing it old skool sometimes. I mean, hearing my friends over Teamspeak or Ventrilo isn't as much fun as seeing the looks of surprise and shame on their faces as I trash them from across the table in CTF match after CTF match. (Did I not mention this is a fantasy piece I'm working on for a magazine!)

Course at this point, since my arrival Thursday at midnight, sitting in a car for 5 hours, it would at least have been nice to have killed someone in a CTF match instead of watching one of my friend use his Jedi mind powers to trick all our non MMO friends into playing WoW. I can't really fault him, not with the RAF being what it is and our Wednesday static group can always use new blood. The guild has now gone from 7 players to 10, which will be nice once we teach all the noobs how to do instances and get them geared for Kara, but that's way down the road.

We actually have a name for our get togethers, GameFest. I know, it's cheesy, but it beats what we've called other get together's, like Hardware Fest, or what friday ended up being, Install and Patch everything Fest. When you don't keep your games updated, it makes it very hard to play with others who have spent the time to do so. We also found out that installing most Steam products tends to make people edgy a bit more than they should be and that not all games like being run on lans or dedicated servers. When I first started setting up, I thought I was at Hardware Fest because my machine refused to start, but eventually with some TLC it did.

We did manage to play a little bit of WoW, of course. You can't indoctrinate new disciples without at least showing them how good the water feels, especially when the baptism is going to cost them $15.00 a month. However, I don't have any more character slots, (Note to Blizzard, need to add one new slot per expansion, please.) so I just gave them encouragement and advise on the sidelines while I leveled up my 19th level Rogue. I did manage to play a few solo skirmishes in Red Alert 3 after I had gotten it installed and the mega patch downloaded. I'm looking forward to playing that this weekend with the rest of da crew.

To top off the first night of fun, a few of us did manage to get in a little Company of Heroes co-op. The first map we played was a good refresher course for me, seeing as how I've not played the game for 2 years and this map came with the game. The second map was a custom, downloaded map which I have entitled, "We hate you and want yo to play all night map". It started off as 4 humans verses 2 Hard and 2 Expert computer players, but about 10 minutes into the map, the only guy that knew the map well, got disconnected from the game and was replaced by a computer player. After that, the rest of us, struggled for 2 hours trying to capture more ground, but the game wasn't having any of it and when 2:30am arrived I was ready to call it a draw. Course, the sad thing is, it's 8am the next morning and here I am blogging. I'm a very sad geeky person, if truth be told.

After writing about the pitfalls of the first day, I almost reconsidered titling the blog entry, The Life Support, Part 3, but decided that even though PC gaming is a pain in the ass at times, with the set up, the patching, the drivers and so forth, the truth is that it's a fun adventure, especially if you do it with friends you haven't seen in a few years. In future postings, I'll try not to cast a dreary shadow over PC gaming as a whole and just hope that it remains, so I can have more weekends like this in the future.