Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm Talking Games, Also!

I've joined a secret coalition of bloggers destine to bring gaming information and opinions to the masses, or at least to each other.

Oh, apparently it isn't very secret anymore. Well, no one really reads my blog so I guess the secret will be safe for a while anyway.

I'm Talking Games is the brain child or the finger of blame, however you want to see it, of br3ntbr0, formally of A Wall of Text, and Genda, The Grouchy Gamer and founder of Casualties of War. Others have joined the squad, including the controversial, Jobildo and a new blogger, to me at least, Kaldeem.

If your looking for more info and opinions on games from very detailed and opinionated bloggers then be sure to set your readers to I'm Talking Games.

Don't worry, I'll still be posting here about World of Warcraft and other things that interest my fancy.

Oh, btw as a side note, last night was my wife's birthday, no ages please. For some crazy reason, her favorite place to eat is Cracker Barrel, so after work we did some shopping and headed to our local restaurant. Well, we sat down and I took a gander at the people at the next table. I had to do a double take actually, because the group to my left included a man that looked just like Reverend Jesse Jackson. On my second look, the man caught me looking, smiled, extended a fist for the congratulatory Obama Fist bump and said hello to me and my wife.

As it turns out, that was in fact, the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Apparently, he was speaking at a local college and decided he needed a fix of home cooked food, which by the way included Greens, one of my favorite meals. Unfortunately, we didn't have a camera, but if we did I'd be hesitant to even take his picture because he was trying to have a low key meal with friends and possibly family.

I have been very lucky. I've already met, Ret. General Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State, Alexander Haig and Iran Contra and Fox News commentator, Oli North, but I don't brag about that last one too much. I also met the lead singer of the 80's rock group, Survivor, but I don't even remember his name.

Now if I can only get Jessica Alba to come hang out with me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Guild Hall

Well, as mention some time back, I decided that the only way I was going to progress any further in WoW with my Tankadin, was to find a decent raiding guild. My first attempt at this endeavor failed terribly, so I went back to my old friends only guild to hang out and figure out what my next plan of advancement would be.

As stated in a previous post, I got invited, by someone I had met in game, to come raiding with his guild. Sure, I was a PuG, but I'd always had fun doing dungeons and such with this fellow, so I figured, I'd give raiding a try. It was a great success. Everyone liked my gear and was impressed that I had managed to get a good bit of it from badges and heroic dungeon crawls. They invited me full time into their guild. I accept after chatting with my friends and making sure that the new guild didn't raid on the night my friends and I would be hanging out together. One thing I learned from the previous experience, don't turn you back on friends, or burn any bridges. Because when you run away from home, you might end up coming back to stay when things get rough.

The new guild had not issues with me taking Wednesday night to hang with friends, as long as I didn't run any 25 man content, which, as I think I stated before, we are very very far from doing. So, I said yes and became a member of Tsunami on the Darkspear server.

Now, so far things have been, well, fantastic. I did some research, by watching videos on, for the raids we had planned, mostly 25 man Trial of the crusader and 25 man Onyxia. I made sure everyone of importance understood that it would be a learning curve for me, only because I hadn't seen the fights in person. Videos and strategies are fine, but if you've never been in a fight, you really don't know how you will react till your there. I just wanted them to know that I would probably screw up or be slow doing things required of me, but that if they were patient, I'd get it learned and we should excel from that point forward.

They did explain as much as they could, and with the assistance of the guild's main tank, a very nice Death Knight, I managed to get pretty far. We got most of the 25 man ToC done in one night and the next raid night we did 25 man Onyxia with out so much as a wipe. We then traveled into 10 man Ulduuar so we could get badges and gear for some who had just leveled up their alts. I've also son, 10 man Onyxia and 10 man Trial of Crusader and finished them as well. The loot system for the guild is via council. Now some would argue that a loot council is a bad thing, and normally, I would agree. Basically, a number of officer see what the loot items are, then they ask those who can use the item to link their current item to see if the gear is worth replacing. If so, they will either award it directly to the person needing the upgrade the most or make them roll for the item if its a upgrade for both.

The problem arises when people, who have played together for a very long time, tend to reward items to friends over strangers in the guild. Or in some odd cases if a friend of someone they dislike needs the item they'll reward it to someone else just to spite them. This does happen. Emotions can run high when it comes to the all mighty purple item that everyone must covet.

But in the case of this particular guild, they reward the item to the person who needs the item the most, because they understand that if they as a group want to advance, their members must have the right gear to do so. Since most of the tanks in the guild currently have fantastic gear, because they've been raiding end game content much longer than I have, they graciously pass on the gear so that I can upgrade and become a better guild tank. What this means is I've been getting really wonderful loot. I've gotten probably 4 or 5 pieces since I stated raiding with them 2 weeks ago. They aren't stingy with the gear at all.

Another great thing is they don't chastise people too harshly for making a mistake. The guild leader has been known to call out people who do start passing the blame around when a boss fight fails or things just don't go well and the raid wipes. The atmosphere is very casual, but yet business like. You have to be on your game, but if you make a mistake, no one remembers that, they only applaud you when things are done right. I've made mistakes I'm sure, but they are quicker to point out when I do something right as opposed to most other guilds I've raiding with who won't explain the fights and start yelling at you if you do something wrong. How can people expect others to stay in a guild very long when they have an off day and people are yelling at them? Its a game, not work or life threatening. There is no need to beat people up for making a mistake that they are pretty well aware of in the first place, because they made it. I'm sure they aren't jumping up and down, proud of themselves for wiping an entire raid of 25 people. Instead they probably feel bad and don't need any further pressure from a bunch of know it all's who just want someone to point the finger at and yell. It doesn't bolster any extra self confidence to do it right the second time, I can tell you.

Anyway, I'm having a blast. They are a super bunch of people who are more interested in finishing a dungeon for the bragging rights as opposed to getting tons of loot and badges for themselves. They just want to have fun and be competitive, which I greatly appreciate.

The problem is all this raiding and fun is making me miss a lot of sleep, especially since Borderlands has come out and I'm spending a lot of much needed sleep time playing it late into the morning hours.

Well, I'll speak more on this other great game in another post.

Look, if your unhappy with your current guild and think that all raiding guilds are the same, well don't. They aren't all the same and I'm sure you'll find a great fit eventually as well. Course, it took me 2 years of looking to finally find one that I'm hoping will last longer than the 2 years it took to find them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's Alive

Ok, I've been slack, in my defense, I have been so busy at work..... and playing Borderlands and Raiding in WoW. All of which I hope to chat about this weekend.

Don't give up on the dwarf.

On some good news. A friend got his WoW account hacked (not the good news) and with the diligence of some friends and guildies, the brought to the attention of an online GM, the account was quickly banned, to prevent the destruction of all my bud's hard work. It was on a weekend, so he had to wait till Monday to speak with Blizzard. After two days of talks, they returned the account back to him and was able to return all the stolen gear and the items taken from the guild bank.

Now, I know people complain about Blizzard and mainly about customer service, but I have to say, that no matter what horror stories others have had, I commend Blizzard's CS with quickly responding to the problem and the fast return of my friend's account and all his gear. I also want to remind people that play, beware of websites and mods that could potentially constant Keyloggers. Also, if you see odd behavior from a friends account, contact him directly to make sure it is him, if not, then make sure you bring it to the attention of guild officers, so they can limit guild bank access and put in a ticket to Blizzard. People say that GM's will not do anything from a ticket, but I have first hand proof that the best way to help your friend is to chat with an in game GM. At the least, he will be aware of the issue, especially if they person has stolen the account happens to be on.

I would also recommend getting one of Blizzard's authenticator. It is a hassle, but it will save you time and money later and it's only 7 dollars.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jonas Sees In Color

I've mentioned that I work for a audio visual rental staging company. I work on the staging side. Basically, we provide audio visual equipment for large corporations who want to reach out and chat with their employees or share holders, you know those 1000 people intimate conversations. As a co worker describes it, "It's a rock and roll show without the band"

Well, yesterday, we set up lights and sound for a band, Jonas Sees in Color. We've been providing gear for their live shows for some time, but being on the video side of things, I've really not been involved. They are a bunch of really nice people, who helped us set up the entire rig and will probably be there this morning when we set up the sound. Not to famous to get their hands dirty, which was nice. Actually, after chatting with a few of them yesterday, I think that no matter what, they will stay humble and always remember the people that helped get them to the top.

The reason for all this fanfare is they recently got a record deal and are having a CD release party (at Greene street in Greensboro, NC, Friday October 9th around 9pm) to thank all their fans, which is pretty cool.

So if your looking for something to do in North Carolina tonight, come have a listen.

Oh, they did a video of our lighting guy, Jim Caddy, which I'm also going to share with you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The FacePalm

I got a chance to do 25 man Trials of the Crusader, which is a very interesting raid. I hooked up with a healing buddy, Bigrichard, and his guild, Tsunami. Right now, its very late or rather early in the morning and I have work. But I did want to say, Wow!! What a difference in raiding style between the last few raiding guilds I've interacted with, Conclusion and Anubis. This guild looks promising, but I'll get more into that and their style of play in another post.

Let me just say that not all raiding guilds produce horrid people that would be better suited for working at the clinic of arguments. For those rude people, I'd recommend the crunchy frog. Still, I'm pretty happy with my progress and even though I've only stuck my head in the instance once, I managed to perform admirably, if I do say so myself.

Again, I'll relay more on this matter later.

It only proves the adage, Always look on the bright side of life.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Sunday Review

I had the opportunity to view two very different shows, one on the big screen and one on the little screen. I've decided that both needed to be talked up or rather about, so here is my review of these two different pieces of media. Again, remember, I talk out my arse sometimes, so you may or may not agree with portions of this Sunday review, meaning, please read with an open mind.


First, I'd like to say that Zombieland is one of the best zombie movies I have ever seen and if you don't go out and see this movie you are doing yourself and your funny bone a disservice. The movie from the start is just great. The main characters are just trying to make sense of what has happened to the world, mainly that everyone has become an undead flesh eating zombie and they seem to be on the preferred menu, but it is done in a "Bob Hope/Bing Crosby" style inspired road trip. Lots of great humor and wonderful cameo, which I won't give away, and lots of rules to live by, my favorite is rule #4 by the way, which a lot of people in zombie movies fail to understand, especially the cheerleaders. Also, it lets the geek be the hero, Mountain Dew Code Red and World Of Warcraft FTW!

The movie does have a good portion of zombie killing, maiming and destruction, so for those who love violence and grossness, there is a lot for you to enjoy. Funny thing, I couldn't remember what the rating for this movie was, especially when me and Mrs. Oakstout took our seat and looked among our fellow patrons and noticed a large percentage where kids under the age of 18 with adults. Trust me, this movie is full of violence, adult language and lots of visuals not suitable for the younger audience. It is also, as I just happened to look, rated R. Now I understand why kids are the way they are, with parents taking them to movies such as this, it doesn't surprise me at all.

On my scale the movie gets a B+ and will definitely be on my to buy list once its out on the market. It might actually edge out Inglorious Bastards for my movie of the year, still the year isn't over yet.

Just remember, nut up or shut up!

Stargate Universe

I am or rather was a huge fan of the original Stargate SG1 series, but to be honest, it had to grow on me. The first time I watched SG1, there was a bald African American with a gold tattoo on his forehead, being all serious, and I said to myself, this can't ever work. But, persistence from a co worker that the show was actually decent got me to record a few episodes, which eventually got me completely hooked. Richard Dean Anderson was the heart, sole and main reason that show survived as long as it did, which is saying a lot, because in the later seasons where he was absent, the writers spent a lot of time pulling stories out of their collective asses. I ended not even watching most of the last season because after killing off the Goa'uld or at least making them a none threat to earth, they had to come up with an even sillier villain for the series called the Ori, which was very absurd, but that is my opinion. Eventually, the ended the series without really coming wrapping up that whole story arc. I believe there is a direct to video movie, which fixes that problem, but I stopped watching it before all that so I'm not sure. What a way to kill a fantastic series. Anyway, lets continue.

Before the demise of SG1, they spun off the show and created Stargate Atlantis, which was decent for the first season or two, then it started spiraling out of control when the viewer was informed that the Wraith, the main bad guys on the show, were actually a mutation between a human and a space slug, to be honest, I never really like their villain at all. The Genii seemed a much better villain, but these people don't like their shows to be humanoid vs. humanoid. I actually liked the episodes when they were more like Star Trek episodes. Go to planet, get in trouble, help people on planet, leave. I never thought there needed to be an overall subversive plot in the background, but then what do I know.

So, I eventually stopped watching Atlantis because it just got too out of control, even though there was a lot of great actors on the show, like the doctor, Carson Beckett, who they killed off and Rodney McKay, still my favorite.

So that gets me to Stargate Universe and this past Friday's two hour premiere.

I have to say, I watched it expecting it to, well, suck. They, those who create content for the Stargate franchise, haven't managed to do anything really creative, in my mind, since the first few season of the original. I don't mind strange and exciting stories, but come on, they have to have stories less contrived than the ones in the last few seasons of Atlantis or SG1.

But in truth, I was thoroughly entertained by this new Stargate show. The people they introduced seem rather ordinary, but who are for the most part, pretty broken as humans go, with personal issues, problems and lots of baggage that I'm sure will come out into the light and make for lots of interesting story lines. No one knows what is going to happen to them or where their next adventure will be, which gives it the Star Trek style feel that I do enjoy. They aren't in control and that is a great way to start off an adventure. I don't want to say too much about the show, it isn't perfect, but it is worth watching at least a few times, because I think it could be a winner.

I've added it to my recorder list and I'm hoping for the best. I do want to enjoy this one because with so few great Science fiction shows on the air, Fringe is horrible by the way and Heroes is so gawd awful these days, I'm hoping for the best this time.


Friday, October 2, 2009

What ARRRRRR ya doing?

Well, I'm still playing World of Warcraft. Still chugging along slowly with Oakley, my tankadin. By slowly I mean I'm at end game looking for something exciting to do. Luckily, there are all these holiday events coming up in the next few months, starting with Brewfest, that will keep me entertained. I've also managed to get 50 riding mounts in the game, which nets me a very nice albino drake for free. Also got all my starting alliance faction to exalted, which nets me the title of Diplomat. So I am keeping some what busy.

As posted earlier this week, I'm back in a friends only guild trying to convenience them that recruitment is what will keep the rest of the crowd interested so we can do 10 man content on a regular bases. But, like me, the rest of my friends are stubborn and lean towards procrastination on matters concerning the guild and figuring out what to do next. Course, I can't complain too much, I could be proactive and step up the movement of recruiting more, but since I'm just like them, which is why we all work together well, it's going to be hard to get motivated towards that endeavor.

I also picked up Champions Online. I still play it off and on during the week. I try to get in a level every time I play, which isn't hard since the game is pretty broken as it is. What I mean is, I can solo things that are 3 to 4 levels higher than me and since the content is designed for specific level ranges, eventually, I will, as everyone keeps telling me, run out of quests to help me level which will mean endless grinding off mobs that don't relinquish much in the way of XP.

This concerns me, but I like the concept of the game, the art work , the graphics and the way my character performs his attacks and super powers, its just really, really cool looking and I am still having a blast. I will say that since I'm using an Xbox 360 controller and not mashing buttons on a hotbar repeatedly, I think I'll get way more enjoyment out of the grinding process. Even now, I'll just try and kill everything in the zone I'm questing just to see how cool my character looks while doing it. Oh, and he looks pretty awesome by the way.

There are aspects of the game that are severally damaged, but I'm hoping the free content patch they are providing in October will help with a lot of that issue. They do seem to patch a lot every week and there are some who are still in there hoping for the best. I should be annoyed that I'm paying to beta test an MMO and normally that would be an issue for me, but I just like the look and feel of this game even if it is broken. There are some who complain about the "Rubber Band Questing" or the collection questing or the go here get this questing. What I gather from all that is, its the same style questing we've been dealing with since Everquest came out, right? Those are the tried and true mechanics of all MMO's on the market right now, with maybe the exception of a few independent games like Fallen Earth and EvE, which I've never had the privilege to play.

Ive picked up Uncharted for the PS3 since I hear its a very good game and Uncharted 2, which is slated to come out very soon, is even better. I managed to finish the story mode for The Beatles Rock Band. It was very nice and I hope to go back through learning all of it on the plastic drums the second time around. I do still play a few games on the on the Xbox 360 like Mass Effect, which I picked up on the cheap recently. I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I like Mass Effect, but I knew it would be full of dialog trees, which aren't my favorite type of game, but the story is very intriguing so I thought I would stick with it a while.

While at my local gamestop, I reserved Borderlands for the Xbox 360. I did this because Scott and Aaron wanted to play some 4 person co-op and were very nice to include me. I've got no expectations about my contribution to the co op portion of the game, because I suck at FPS games on the console, but it was nice to get asked.

Finally, my last piece of gaming info. I did pick up Scribblenauts and I have to say, I'm not as impressed with the game as I thought I would be. The concept is really cool, but moving objects around in the world and getting them to work the way you intend them to work is very haphazard. I can't go into the specifics of the game mechanics, but let me just say, it looked cool in the demos and on paper, but it isn't as cool as one would suspect when your actually doing it. If I was to rate the game, I'd have to go with an 7 or 8 out of 10, rather than what the reviews I keep saying. But this is my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt.

I think that about covers what I've been playing. I do hope to be getting Batman Arkham Asylum for the PS3 and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for the DS at some later date, just not sure when. If so, I'll do a review.

If your looking for a good podcast about console or portable gaming, I would recommend the Player One Podcast. I have to say, not only is it very informative but it is freaking hilarious to listen too. It's a weekly podcast that is usually available by Monday.

Wow, two pictures and an embedded video this time. I'm really getting the hang of this blogging media.

Blog Roll

I've made a few changes to the blog roll.

I've deleted a few, bloggers who have fallen off the grid or stopped posting anything that interests me, and I've added one crazy mofo, Scarybooster. Check out his site when you get a chance, lots of good info about Aion, Fallen Earth and Champions online.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cave Drawing

To Pillage, To Plunder, To Raid

The MMO Gods hate me!

Let me explain quickly. Last Saturday I joined a pretty nice raiding guild called Conclusion. Little did I know that it would be the end of my current aspirations to become a full time raider. I managed to raid with them Saturday night, 25 man ToC, which was pretty cool. Having no previous experience in that particular instance, I think I did pretty good as an off tank.

So, I log off, because I have to do some work on Sunday. I log in late Sunday evening and everything seems pretty cool. People are hanging out. I put my name on a few raids for the upcoming week, do some inventory and quest clearing then log off. I felt pretty good about the new guild, everyone was fun to hang with, got a few tanking pointers, people seemed to be having fun together, no issues. I had to take a few quick snips from my friends in our old guild, but since they weren't seriously thinking about recruiting people to help us raid and I wanted to raid, I figured they would understand.

So, I don't get to log back in till Tuesday night because of my work schedule, but that's cool, cause there are no raids till Wednesday and I didn't sign up for any until Thursday. But, as soon as I log in, I get messages from a few people. One of them is asking me if I am going to join UO. I check who sent me the tell and it's an officer of Conclusion, except he is no longer in Conclusion. Apparently, in my brief appearance in the guild, some of the officers got fed up with the casualness of the guild leader and left taking over half the guild with them and forcing the guild leader to shut down the guild completely. So, after figuring out all this, I discovered that my friend, the person that got me into the guild in the first place had also jumped ship, I decided to leave Conclusion and join up with Underoath or UO.

But, I didn't feel right about it for some reason. Sure, the officers probably had a pretty good reason to leave since the guild leader wasn't supporting their efforts to get the guild into full raid swing again. They definitely had the right to leave and create their own guild, one that would serve their purpose and get them the gear they desired, but I'm not big on guild drama and if they did it once, who's to say they won't cause problems again or problems won't arise again. So after thinking it through, I decided my place was back with my bud's in Noobs. I had to apologize for my leaving and beg for forgiveness, but they understood and welcomed me back.

I do long for the day that I can raid and do 25 man content again. Hopefully, the Noobs will start recruiting and we'll get some additional help to see that dream come true, if not, I might try to get in on a few PuGs, although I'm sure they will be disappointing and full of know it all jerks who love to criticize rather than help people out.

Although my stay in Conclusion was brief, I do have hope that there are some guilds out there that really value the player rather than the gear that player will help them get. One of the hosts of the Banstick Podcast tweeted to me earlier:

"I don't think that there will be any loyalties until Blizzard encourages guild teamwork and goals with a system."
A honest statement, I just hope Blizzard is listening.