Friday, October 31, 2008

Warhammer Online - EA announces 800k sign ups, yet...

Decline is still evident.


We understand that Xfire is not an overall section of the population, but as I must continue to reiterate...it shows trends.

Looking at these numbers, it makes me wonder if the server trends are the same?

I know they launched with a ton of servers and have already discussed closing some down. Never a good sign, yet from my understanding, the fact that they will probably go from 50+ to 25+, still means there will be a lot of servers.

But, I have seen dissension among the blogger elite.

When one of your most staunchest supporters whines like a baby over issues like Heartless has, then it may be time to start finding out what is happening in the world of WAR.

Good luck Mythic!

Age of Conan - Patch 3.0...awesome at a price

Discussion is raging on Patch 3.0 in the forums.

Basically this patch took the combat system in AoC and made major changes. As well, new crafting recipes for armor was introduced, along with better alchemy potions.
Finally the PvP update, part two, was introduced. The consequence punishes those players who grief lower levels for fun.

But, even though these changes were huge, and well done, it seems the player base is still in an uproar.
But what would we expect?

Some issues though are reasonable, and prove that Funcom is still working through some kinks. But, have they lost their chance to recover?

Lets take the PvP system.

Basically a player who is 10 or more levels higher than another player cannot attack said player. Also, if a player is attacked multiple times by one player (example, if the system sees you attack one person 5 times in a row), you gain what is called "murder points".

Accumulate enough points and you become a criminal.

Seems that the PvP-RP server thinks this is the best thing since sliced bread. FFA servers do not..
Why?
They are gaming the system. By forming groups with level 20 players in their pack, and then when any AoE spell or off damage hits, it becomes an instant group point against the attacker, making them a griefer...i.e: here's your murder point.

Also, the system is in place to check for a player attacking first, but someone else described this scenario.
A level 61 attacked an 80. The 80 fought back, and as such, this does not count against the player. But, the 61 ran away. So, the 80 moved on. The 61 attacked again. The 80 reciprocated. The 61 ran away again. But appeared on the other side of the field. The 80 saw him, and attacked...
Oops.
"Heres your murder point"

Who would have thought a player would find a way to work AGAINST the system?

Well, Funcom also enhanced the recipes for Armor and Alchemy.
The loot tables though are still broken, and the drops are not coming for the Alchemy recipes.
The armor tables?
Oh, we decided to add 12 of the 24 new recipes right now.
Other 12 will be in the next huge patch which should arrive in another month or so.

Combat which has been modified had a majority of 4 step and 5 step combo's removed.
The reasons were straight forward.
The chances to land a strike after a long combo for PvP, was minimal, as the defender could move out of the way too quickly, or the player could preload so they killed in one shot. (Pre load was the ability to start the combo away from their target, and on the last hit of the combo move toward the target and hit for massive amounts of damage, as the last 3-4 strikes were all in the one strike.)

The new combos are a charm for PvP.

But, the PvE servers are in major complaint mode. Expected. Changes for PvP sake always riles up the PvE. And for good reason this time.
This was suppose to be a PvE patch this round, but it seems the new content is being held back for Patch 4. As well, the crafting is still broken, so no change there.
Combat just made some classes weaker, and some more powerful as is standard, to hopefully balance this out.
But, now PvE has become a simple affair. With regular mobs dying quickly and big boss mobs not going down hard at all.

And even simple things. Like Line of Sight occlusion is now turned off for bosses.
You as a player cannot hide behind objects to avoid boss attacks...they can hit your through walls and doors...
Cool.
Seems players exploited that before, so they HAD to turn it off.

Bosses uber powerful indeed.

Developers are damned if they, damned if they don't.
Time will only tell if Funcom made the right moves.

But, time is NOT on Funcoms side, thanks to waiting too long to get these changes out of the gate, and this may do more to rile the masses than satisfy the few.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Legend of the Seeker - MUST WATCH TV....

It has arrived. Check your local listings.

The team from Xena, Warrior Princess and Hercules with Kevin Sorbo returns. Sam Raimi is backing this project also.

This time they take a more serious approach to Fantasy and bring us Legend of the Seeker.
Based on the Terry Goodkind novel Sword of Truth, production is taking place in Peter Jackson's favorite filming spot...New Zealand.

Xena and Hercules were also filmed there as well.

And now is your chance to check it out.

Click this link for the first 10 minutes of the premiere.

Post your thoughts here. It looks gorgeous so far.
And finally a return to a syndicated TV series, which means a full 22 episode run.
As well, a Fantasy series, which has not been on TV since Xena left the airwaves in 2001.

MMO downfall...AoC and WAR

XFire time again kids...

"What does Xfire show us little ones?"

"It shows trends."

"That's right."

"And what trends do we see?"

"These two games are major downers...WTF!"

Age of Conan

Warhammer Online

The downward spiral of AoC and WAR continue. It seems no matter what is done, people still go back to the best crack on the streets...

WoW!

Look at the same chart for WoW and we see an upward trend...

World of Warcraft

Whaddya know.

My challenge is this. Can any MMO make a worthwhile competitor that can garner just 1 million scrips.

That is all I ask.

I will pay for 6 months time upfront for any game that can reach that milestone. If 1 million players stick it out, then it MUST be good.

And we are discussing Western MMO's here (no Lineage 2...sorry...been there, done it, did not like it)

I wonder what MMO can be up to that challenge?

Now, back to Fable 2. I just had a BABY@!...uh, my wife did that is...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fable 2 - What MMO's could learn - Part two

As I continue to play the addictively wonderful Fable 2, I see some things that Fable 2 does well. These lead to more observations on how the MMO could learn from a console game (and how it could work...)

The first is actually based on a post from Hudson on Curt Schilling's new MMO, Copernicus.

Quests

Schilling states...
"new ways to deliver quest info because no one reads the quest text anyway"

How true.

In Fable 2, when you near someone with a quest marker, they start talking to you, like in passing them down the street.
I have several bounty quests for example, that as I near a guard he says "How would ye like to make some money?"
Then along the top of my screen a "Hold A to accept" appears.
I can either...listen to his spiel or just accept it and move along.
And the sentences will adjust according to what I do. So, as soon as "Hold A..." appears, and I do this, he all of a sudden changes his tone...
"Excellent...here is where you can find them"
Then hands me a contract. With directions.
Done and ready to go...

Now, note, this could be done quickly in some scrolling text along the bottom of the screen or a box would pop up with the text for someone to read...(as we know voice talent can get expensive...ask Funcom when they gave up 60 levels of voiceovers...ugh.) ...

Keep it simple, stupid always seems to work. And for those who require more, or need lore, then you may go back and look at the logbook for the full text (think the Tome from WAR). No one should be forced to sit through long voiceovers or read tons of text anymore.

Another neat feature is "rumors". Every once in a while a pop up appears on screen, which notifies you if someone is looking for help on a quest. This helps eliminate an issue most players discuss as the "on rails" game mechanic. You know where to go, what to do.
Certainly this can happen after the fact once you played through...but, that initial game should not be forced too much.

I also think a lot of people dream of the sandbox mode also, but this does not always work. Oblivion as an MMO would not be fun, as you are forced to find where to go and what to do.

A little direction is needed, but never so much that this "rails" mechanic feels forced. A balance between the two modes of games would work.

Fable 2 understood this.

Ok, moving on.

Economy

I have discussed this before, but lets look back at this based on things that have happened while I have played.

The game does minor checks and will make adjustments to items based on purchasing and not purchasing. Selling comes into play as well.

Most MMO's economy is totally decided by the Dev and the player.
Dev's create static pricing to start. Then most of the "good" stuff becomes 100% player driven.

In Fable 2 it is a two way street. The system checks on various antics of the players in their purchasing trends. But, that is not all. It checks for workloads, and makes adjustments there based on your jobs. Sales of found goods also will play into the economy.

For example, I decided to do some massive Blacksmithing one time.
Within a 24 hour span, there was a drop in prices at all "Weapons" based stalls.

Next was Woodworking...Surprise, the furniture store had a sale.

I decided to purchase a bunch of veggies to eat to reduce my weight some (was getting fat on pies and meat...I will discuss that later...).
Seems a shortage hit vendors for produce.

I sold some excellent weapons one time to a vendor, and next thing I know, a major sale for weapons at that particular stall.

And lets not even discuss making money based on purchasing store fronts. Bars, Inns, food stalls, all making me cash. Even when I am offline.

A way this could work is the system does these checks on players. Then for those who wish to sell their goods, would do it through a stall, and can compete with other players for prices. Sales, markups, etc.
A players own personal AH.

Going back to the example I used from Guild Wars previously.
A database compiles sales and auctions from players in that game, and then vendors adjust their prices accordingly so that players either can sell directly to the vendor, or try their hand to get a few bucks more by auctioning it off.

Combine this with the stall theory above, and we would have a dynamic real world type economy on hand.

Appearance

The final discussion is something that a lot of gamers discuss ...especially in their MMO.

Looking unique.

Some games do a good job of offering a wide variety of options to create your character. In game is where it starts to fall apart.

Make a cool hairstyle in creation? Then you get goofy helmets to cover it (even though some are nice to allow you to turn off helms). Pick a certain outfit in creation and then watch it immediately be removed within minutes for new armor (looks at Tabula Rasa harshly).

There is only so much that can be done here. But, with Fable 2, we see the option to change hairstyles, beards, tattoo's, and more. Other things change in Fable 2 also (weight, muscle)...This is based on how you use weapons and how you eat...but I know this may be too much for an MMO to do.

The start of the game should either stick and you make slight adjustments as you play, or go the Spellborn route and allow FULL control of your visual from the start.

Then update items you selected. Basically play with the same look all the way if you wish.

I am interested in seeing how this is done in Spellborn.

But something else I wish to talk about is the "Death Penalty" adjustment to your looks.

Fable 2 implemented a non- issue death penalty, where you instantly get back up and get into the fight. No corpse runs (stupid), no rez points (gotta run back and hope the spawns did not happen), and no armor or weapon degrades.

Instead you degrade your appearance.

If you die, and did NOT have a resurrection potion (awesome idea), then when you get back up, you have scarring. It changes your appearance with facial or body scars of combat.

Really makes you think about taking those res potions (which are expensive btw) or else start to turn ugly.

I am pretty scarred in my face right now...by choice. I thought the concept was sound. The wife...always has a potion (of course she gets mad that EVERYONE loves her in the towns...told her to remove the makeup and the hot sexy outfit she is wearing...)

Anyways

We could take this to clothing or armor in the MMO realm also. Appearance just seems to be a side note...with all the shiny armor never getting dirty (except for Age of Conan where armor already has blood or dirt caked on certain pieces...cool idea). What if the armor got dinged or dirty. A reason to go buy new or repair your own.

Death penalties have been another issue of the genre, and is really not on topic here...but boy, the idea of quick revivals and back into combat and damaging your looks could be a fun way to promote a different death penalty..

_______________________________

These are just a few ideas I have gleaned from the way we play MMO's, and how maybe the genre needs a good swift kick in the rearview...

The players will of course still accept the cloning process I am sure, but I know some like myself are looking for some different ways the game can play.

All I know is it has been a while since a game has made me really think about the way I play RPG's. Fable 2 has progressed the genre quite a bit.

Of note, Fallout 3 released last night and officially today. I am interested in their playstyles also. From what I have read, Fallout 3 is less sandboxed than Oblivion, but keeps an open game for you.

Will see more of it this weekend when I pick it up. For now. back to gaming.

Any thoughts on these suggestions or ways you would like the genre to change?

Age of Conan - My cancellation = Patch 3.0

Whaddya know. I cancel my account yesterday and today is Patch 3.0...surprise.

I still have until the middle of November at least to see what has been done.

This is suppose to be a major change to PvE.
Content for upper levels, crafting changes and the revised combo system for combat.
Itemization has been mentioned as having a once over as well.

Discussion was being done on changes to how items also represent their numbers data. But, when I was on Testlive, I did not see those changes.

Finally this patch brings in the Consequences system.

On PvP servers now there are level limits for PvP, meaning if I am level 20, I better not go killing level 5's. Otherwise I get criminal points. It is my understanding that now a 10 level gap is present for PvP to be consensual. Meaning, if I am level 15, and you are level 10 or even 5, I can attack you if I wish.
These points when reaching a certain level turns you into a murderer and players may attack you without abandon.
Should prevent as much ganking as has been present (FFA does not mean annoy anyone trying to do any quests for example...yet many players took it upon themselves to do just that) and if anything sets up a precedent for RP on the servers with I am assured, certain players purposely turning into criminals.
A note for the criminal is they will be KoS for any city, and must resort to Bandit camps to renew supplies, etc. I am not sure how you remove these points either..
How this affects the access to the Auction system or mail or even storage, unknown.

Will hopefully find out more soon.

Now, my hopes are this convinces me otherwise to change back to subscriber, but I do not hold up hope.
I think the genre is just tired, and instead of burning out and hating all MMO's in the future, I should still take the break.

At least for another 15+ days, I will see what this does for gaming and the population of AoC.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MMORPG - Are Lifetime scrips good?

As we know, recently news arrived that Hellgate London is going to shut it's doors for good.

Pumping Irony had a post about this and I noted how Hellgate has who knows how many players burned with their "Lifetime" deal.

No refunds there.

Right now, only two games have offered these lifetime deals (that were commercially viable titles that is...not discussing any freebie or Korean MMO's).
Hellgate London and LOTRO.
Hellgate as we know is a failure.

But, is LOTRO any better in regards to quality? 200+k players think so.

In regards to this conundrum..Scott had this to say in comments...

I absolutely think Lifetime Memberships are valuable, though not without inherent risk.

For me, LOTRO ended up being my main game and the lifetime membership has already paid for itself. Mines of Moria has a feature list (on paper) that is more exciting to me than the lists of any other expansion or full game coming out in the near future as well, so now the personal value of that lifetime has increased.

But if people jumped on the Lifetime for LOTRO or Hellgate without trying the games, just on hype alone, then they were burned. Doubly so for Hellgate since it’s being canceled.

From a players point of view...what about the company?

Remember, for LOTRO, you had to pre-order or had bought the game day one to get the lifetime at their reduced price. You had 30 days to decide in as well...so, not a good window.

How would someone even know if they liked the game as no trial was available yet.

Then they did not offer it again until they started the lowering of the price for the game and scrips and must have seen sales diminishing.

I am sure the influx of cash helped Turbine immensely.

But, what happens to a company that does not continue to have a flow of cash?

These players instead prove to be a burden, as they continue to play with no income being offered to Turbine.

The lifetime is meant for that impulse player who feels that they may be getting a good deal paying forever for that game with just one price...

Yet, it did not do much for Hellgate...

We may never know how many players did this offer there and then got burned.

I still think trials are key. Then reduced pricing, but not lifetime.

I think lifetime scrips lead to less "quality" of content.

Turbine is forced to release content on a regular basis or upset customers..especially those who paid lifetime.

Book 14 (their last patch before MoM) proved to be quite buggy, and took quite a few months to release compared to previous patches and content updates.
Turbine discussed making UI changes and model updates for MoM when the expansion was first announced...yet all screenshots show the same middling UI and very skinny non-fed males and vapid females...

Imagine if people payed lifetimes for AoC, and the content output is what it is now? YUCK!

I think it hurts the company and the player in the end.

Think of it this way. You did not have to buy AoC, or WAR and could have waited for reviews or a trial.

The LOTRO deal was meant to be a one time offer for those willing to take the leap at launch.

Look how many of those people they spit on with that deal...by offering it again after 6 or so months.

But, this still begs the question. Can "lifetime" scrips be a good thing for an MMO?

Yes, we would pay for one if WoW offered one, or EQ2...i.e: established games.

But, how would this affect the game after the fact?

Weigh in folks..

All MMO's...Canceled...

Except for Guild Wars...ALWAYS FREE.

Until Spellborn releases, I see no reasons right now to pay for an MMO.

AoC's population has dwindled. The patch is still on hiatus. No other MMO makes me feel the need to come back.
And right now, I would usually get up in the mornings, play my MMO for an hour or so, then head to work.

Since Fable 2, this has changed to almost 2 hours of Fable in the mornings....and afternoons....and evenings...

Quality games equal more playtime. Period.

I also wanted to point out the story of my son and Fable 2.

He has played since I sold him his copy last week. He has beat the game twice already and is on his THIRD play through.

He bought my copy of Mass Effect Saturday (as he thought the gunplay was fun...), and the irritation finally kicked in for me. I asked him if he wanted it, and he could get it for 10 bucks (I bought it for 30).

He played it a total of 2 hours, and plans to sell it now.

And went back to his third time in Fable 2.

Amazing.

I will have to see if any game will keep me down the road.
For now, I see Spellborn and Aion on the horizon.
As well, maybe when the AoC patch comes through and I see what the verdict is...I may go back.

For now...I think taking a break is the better option than totally hating on MMO's.

I will continue to comment on any news items that look interesting. I also am still of the mind of looking at the genre as a whole, and finding out what is wrong with this market.

Cheers to you all...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fable 2 - New multiplayer changes outlook

At first this seemed to rub me the wrong way. The CO-OP is broken in a sense in Fable 2. Yet as I continue to play, it has really become ingenious to me.

I see how the world works and how each player inhabits that part of their world, and how they interact.

They also have done some creative bits for online play...

MMO's could learn a thing or two off of this simple implementation.

For example

When you run by someone in your world, as you near them you can hear them talking if they are chatting with other players..in so many words, just like running past a stranger on the street and hearing their conversation.

When you join THEIR world, you work for that player. You are paid gold AND XP...that's it.
You cannot take the uber item from that players world. But, the main player can trade you an item if they wish, that you may take back to YOUR world (note: done while in each others respective worlds, not while in henchman mode). Also, the "henchman" may change things in your world...flirt with your wife, kill your traders. But, a quick boot gets rid of the ganker. Don't you wish you could do that in YOUR MMO?

Variances occur to make some game sessions fresh. I may find a place in my world with a chest or something, but the other players world may be in a different place.

The sense of completion in an MMO is false. And Fable 2 drives it home big time.

I think this is an issue that is proving to be the rub for keeping players entertained in the MMO genre.
The monotony of current MMO's is causing a flux of players who either are not happy playing or are always waiting for the next "big game".

I have discussed this in the past and it is even more prevalent since playing Fable 2.
Somehow when something has been completed, your world has to make that completed item disappear.
This I believe would bring believability to the world we inhabit in the MMO.
We need something of a single player experience in our Massively Multiplayer world. We need to feel like we accomplish something.
Killing rats, getting that sword, that maybe 10 others have and you see them with it...these are not accomplishments.

A statue built based on my pose...that is cool. The economy changes based on how I make purchases...that is cool.

Let us use Fable 2 as a fine example of how the MMO genre could learn.
  • Each persons version of the world is their own - Somehow checks need to be put in place, and each person would have a simple database stored on their system that would check with the main servers to show what items have been completed and quests finished, mobs killed. A simple tick in a field to show when that Uber Sword was found by your hero.
  • Each world can be inhabited by multiples - When you come to my part of the world, all things will exists as part of my world. If you killed Boss Thugg and I have not, then when you come to my world...Thugg still exists. This promotes cooperative gameplay as maybe YOU have something to share with MY world to help me defeat Thugg.
  • Economy not static - Why should only players control that aspect? Fable 2 has an ever-changing system, including sales for certain items even....Guild Wars was one step in the right direction with this, as players were able to bypass Auctions and go straight to a vendor to buy or sell. Why must vendors be static, have the same goods and sell for the same price EVERYTIME.
  • Get a freakin' job! - I should have a way to earn money while not online ala EvE. I should be able to buy a shop or sell goods in a stall. And to get these items I should have a REAL job...make crafting a JOB like in real life. Cook food and SELL it at your shop. MAKE WEAPONS, and sell them at your stall.
  • Relationships - Why not? We seem to emote our way through trying to pick up other players (at least I have heard players do that...not me..well, ok, for some reason these hot chicks in AoC still won't accept my advances). Fable 2 offers this. It does not have to be so fleshed out (sorry...really kind of a pun), but at least another objective. Bioware games, Fable, Sims... have played with this, and look at their successes.
I could go on. Many have gone on. Many will continue to go on.

MMO's in general are broken in some way. Especially newer releases. Nothing coming on the horizon fixes that either (for now...SWTOR is the first to take a totally different approach).

So, we as players "make do" with what we have.

Whatever...

We should expect some progress in this genre.
Console games seem to be really making a difference.

Why can't the MMO.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Star Wars Old Republic - Fixing the MMO

A post over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun discusses how he feels that SWTOR may just be the ticket for a ton of MMO players..

Why?

Because it is not trying to be like MMO's?

"An MMO where you get NPC party members? Good grief, yes. A thousand times yes. I get the extra hands I require to tackle a stronger foe, but without them bitching and whining at me because I didn’t use my double-cloaking no-hit AOE poison buff at exactly the point they would have used it if they were playing on their own. See? SEE? Every single bugger in these games just wants the others in their parties to be the over-qualified AI companions that perform the tasks they don’t have time for. If you don’t play like they would have done it, you’ve failed them, you’ve let them down, you’ve spoiled their game. ... But if my party members are NPCs, they’ll do what they’re programmed to do, or when I tell them to do it. That’s great for any of the above frustrations I might experience. But more importantly, when I don’t do what they might want when they might demand it, they’re not going to storm off in a giant pissy huff and block me on IM."

Of course this has been done in Guild Wars, and Everquest is getting all hyped by the Tipa and Stargrace thanks to their henchman mechanic. And recently DDO has announced a henchman system.

Could it be the time of the MMO going solo?

The biggest argument for some people is "Why play an MMO solo?"...yet, as is explained at RP&S, that we instead get a never ending adventure game, but at the same time, if we wish to socialize...we can.

Let me take the Fable 2 co-op as an example.

I sold the game to my son based on a suggestion from Bildo.

My son has YET to put the game down...

Why?

He is totally playing online at ALL times...

He either joins others as their henchman, OR right now he is playing with one of his friends and they are running around in THEIR own worlds, while chatting to each other, and are located in the same place in THEIR worlds, and getting THEIR own items THEIR own XP and not having some idiot come along and trash their setting (how many times have you yelled at someone for stealing your mob or item for a quest).

This could be THE mechanic that so many others have missed.
Next to WoW, the second largest selling MMO has been Guild Wars with 3 million + boxes sold.

Why is this?

Could it be the control you have to either play with others or play alone..?

I can look back over my post and see all these Why's...but it has purpose.

Maybe this has been a key. Either party with others or party alone...we should have the option.

This may be the ticket to scrips also.

What do you think?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hellgate London - Pretend MMO's not so good

Hellgate:London closes the doors January 31st

R.I.P

Star Wars Old Republic - We will be different

“When World of Warcraft came out, everybody thought, ‘No, the market is only this big, because that’s as big as EverQuest was.’ Blizzard showed that it could be much larger. Our goal is to show that by bringing storytelling to the genre that we can attract an even wider audience. Plus, we have the benefit of this huge brand, which has done very, very well for nearly 30 years.”

LucasArts executive Tom Nichols

Who in their right mind says they ARE competing with World of Warcraft...

THAT is TOTALLY different.

Holy Crud!

Mass Effect - That "Sci-Fi" issue again

I have hit an impasse in regards to continuing in Mass Effect.
I played Viking last night and made some major progress, and Fable 2 has really hit home with me (even though a shout to Bildo as he suggested a deal for my son, and I worked it out with him, and he said he wanted to do the $40 deal. Now I have to get my own copy...ARGH).

But, I sat for a moment and stared at my Mass Effect as I debated putting it in. And instead decided on more Viking.

This always comes back to what it is about the Sci-Fi genre that really does not keep me enthralled.
And we are discussing hardcore Sci-Fi. Not weird Sci-Fi (like Bioshock which I am holding off on playing until I finish Viking).

KOTOR for example was a very good game...but I never finished it. Yet, Jade Empire I played twice. KOTOR 2 kept me for an hour, and then I was done.

In the MMO field, I could not keep up with Ryzom or EvE or SWG or even Tabula Rasa.

And when we think of the MMO genre...how many Sci-Fi games have been successful?

Maybe it is the fact it is an RPG. I LOVED Halo, Gears of War, which are also Sci-Fi. Yet, I am not inundated with techie talk...

Final Fantasy is a great series which strikes a balance between Sci and Fantasy. That I enjoy (Lost Odyssey is also awesome).

I may have to really think through the Mass Effect issue and make some decisions.

It is a really well done game, and makes you feel like a hero in that universe...but, will I feel like playing it again?

Only time will tell.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Viking - Killer Video of that other game that has me...

Entranced...
This game has really captured me.

And for a game that got oh so reviews, it has been a blast.

The game has some great long campaigns. Balance is worked out really well, with Campaign 1 teaching you the ins and outs, Campaign 2 doing a combination of stealth missions, training and gathering money, and I am now in Campaign 3, with huge battles taking over Castles..

Enjoy the vid..

Fable 2 - Comment Wars on CO-OP

In my first post on my disappointment in the CO-OP features of Fable 2, a fine gentleman by the name of Tim kindly announced to me in comments..

"Did you research the game at all? This has been pretty common knowledge for a while."

I have NOT known this to be the case, and pointed out several articles (with one being from Arstechinca, ) which Tim kindly proceeded to note ...

"you're using some obscure site as a reference"

(Arstechnica has a rough average of almost a million visitors a day...and has been in existence since 1998...pretty obscure indeed...)

But, was this the case....? Did I miss something?

Seems a whole thread of players were in the same boat as I...

And I quote the LIONHEAD Forums

"So, thanks for all the waiting for this cool game with this awesome feature. i hate to tell you but it blows......I dont accept your patch. take it back and give us what you promised. not some cheap knock off."

"THE COOP SUCKS!!!! Why can't my friends see my character!!!?!?!?!?! WTFFFF whats the point of trading items if you cant see what im wearing!?!?!?!?!"

"i am mortified! when lionhead said there will be a henchmen, i thought that meant on couch coop NOT xbox live!!!!!"

"If they were going to do co op they could have done it right"

So, guess a thread with 218 posts so far ALSO did not know this was common knowledge...

My, My...

(EDIT: Seems more data is coming forward about this issue...following data presented...)

This post states

Not to add fuel to the fire but...

http://community.lionhead.com/forums/thread/2859601.aspx

Under the Features list:

If you go into another persons game as a guest the look of the character will be based off of your character's look. If you don't have a character of your own you'll have a generic pre-determined look to your hero


And this little ditty

Video at Games Radar

Lovely stuff...

(EDIT: Again, as this is my favorite part...from a developer...)

"It's a complete different matter to shout so loud and say we're breaking promises left, right and centre because that is simply not true. It's a lot of balony, the feature is what it is, we decided to make it like that. Don't like it? Too bad. For every one person that's complaining there's twenty playing the game. I suggest you do that as well."

WoW...talk about attitude...geez.

Fable 2 - Cannot pry it out of my sons hands...

Now I need to decide if buying him a copy is worthwhile.

He has quite a few friends playing it right now, and the online co-op is actually fun for him.
But, I have been leery of him playing due to the fact that he goes through games like water.
And if he hits a snag, he gives up too easy.

Usually he waits to buy games with his allowance until they reach the 30 or 40 dollar mark (we have taught him frugal shopping quite well).

But, he has REALLY played for almost as many hours as I have.

Yet, he played another game of mine, Viking, up to Campaign 2 (3 Campaigns total), and has stopped.
I asked him if he wanted to play that game while I played Fable 2, and he decided to watch TV instead.
But, while he was playing, he always kept saying it was awesome (and it is...I SOOO love that game. I am on the final parts of Campaign 3...WooT)

But, I think this gives you an idea of how good a game Fable 2 is (especially for a young boy who LOVES FPS games on a regular basis...) if he wants to keep playing it...

The wife is still working on finishing Culdecept.
Yet, she stated that she wanted to watch me play Fable 2 tonight.
The reason for this is last night I played a little as she carved pumpkins for work.
She would look up once in a while and make suggestions or ask questions...

This is always a sign of interest on her part, as she is hard to please (for example, she wanted to put AoC on the back burner for now to finish the Culdecept game first)..

So this goes back to the original statement...do I buy my son his own copy, and have him work off the allowance?
I really want to teach him NOT to impulse shop is the real gist.

What would YOU do?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fable 2 - Diary

I strolled into Bower Village today.

The folk here were kind, and noted my skill of taking out the Bandit King.
Seems word travels fast.
Children even followed along as I told the tale of the 10...no make that 20 (really it was 50 men, but who was counting) thieves who lost their lives at my hand.

There was a Bard here.
He noted my renown, and wished to follow me. He seems to want to make songs about my heroics.

I knew I needed some food, but I needed to meet with the Oracle.
She was to be late, but suggested I gear up for my adventures ahead.

A sign proclaimed "Help Wanted" for the Blacksmith. I proceeded to hammer out metal for swords and weaponry. It was quite tricky, and I broke a few, but I gained some minor wealth.

I dined (but not too much, as I could feel my waistline increasing)

There is a lady strolling the streets in a smart black dress and wears a monocle with a charming top hat.
I believe this to be a desirable trait and proceeded to show her my muscular physique.
She has mentioned something about being rich.

Do I court for love ...or money?

Why is that gentleman eyeing me like that? He seems to be enamored with MY style. I guess anything is possible here in Albion.

I must be off, as I have decided to invest in a food cart, which will earn me gold, even when I (or my Xbox) is asleep.

G'day fellow travelers...

Commenting gets wide open..

Let the spam begin...

Anyways, based on a suggestion from Mystic Worlds about not wanting to create an account to comment, I felt that really, open commenting would just be better.
I expect a lot of anonymous crap, but it does open up a world of discussion...which I love...(contrary to previous posters attitudes noting otherwise...).

Try not to carry an attitude, and we will all get along fine.

I reserve the right to delete stupidity and ignorance.

Cookies and Brownies are welcome though...

Cheers

Fable 2 - So what IS the scoop on CO-OP

As was found out yesterday, CO-OP is not all that it seems in Fable 2.
It is not BAD. Just not as many believed...

Here is a brief explanation of how it works.

When a main player is logged in on the Xbox and wants a second player to join, they have several options.

Couch CO-OP and Live.

Couch CO-OP works in two ways.

Controller 2 start is pressed, and a second player may join immediately. Called the hop in nd play feature.
They get a percentage of gold that the main player will offer. They can buy weapons and pretty much involve themselves in the world of the main player.
Kill NPC's, flirt with the ladies, destroy property.
But, this player can only go so far from the main player. The camera keeps the 2 players in the scene and will only zoom out so far.

Once this second player leaves, that is it. They are not saved.

The other way is a profile login may be done for player two.

This second player can have a character they use on their account on THEIR Xbox, and associate this character with the henchman in player ones world.
This was the rub, as the player does not LOOK like they look on THEIR Xbox.

In so many words, you are just a faceless henchman still.

You get basic equipment, but supposedly stats match the second players profile. Not clothing or equipment...at least that we have seen yet.
Any gold that is earned as this henchman goes to the second players profile. In so many words, they still make money and earn it for their own character on THEIR Xbox.

Confusing?

Just to reiterate, a second player picks a generic avatar in player ones world. But, if they have a profile, and log that profile in, and then say...copy their save onto a memory stick, they can at least earn money for their save to take back with them.

The way I did this was to create my profile on the SAME Xbox, and then play that save on THAT one Xbox the same as the wife.

Now, here is where the other issue lies.

A while back (about a month or so) it was announced online CO-OP through Live would not make launch. As well, no demonstrations of the Live CO-OP had been presented.

So, assumptions were made.

If you look at Crackdown as an example, CO-OP is played with YOUR OWN avatars.
Whatever you looked like on YOUR Xbox is how you would look in CO-OP.

Two Worlds is another RPG with online multiplayer with one players world being open to another player. But, the secondary players avatar matched their originals in their saves.

Fable 2 released Live CO-OP in a Zero Day Patch. And this has proven to be the biggest strike against the game so far.
The Live CO-OP works the same as Couch CO-OP. The difference is other players show up as orbs in YOUR world. When you near that orb, you may trade or chat with that player.

That IS a cool feature.

What is not cool is if you invite them to your world, they must choose a generic avatar.

I pretty much see CO-OP as a bust, as who will want to give up THEIR original avatar for a generic in someone elses world?

What are your thoughts on this mechanic?

I know as a single player RPG, it is a fantastic game, with the first few hours filled with different events and options.
The dog as partner is truly better than I thought possible. You really think about it. You take care of it (if you are good...which I am...I am not much for playing evil) or chastise it.

And the ways to make money in the game is truly fun. No grind here folks.

But, CO-OP is a big disappointment, and I guess it just makes me wonder if another cool CO-OP game will be coming (Sacred 2? Maybe?)..

Anyways, back to playing....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fable 2 - CO-OP is a FLOP

What were they thinking?

Couch CO-OP, you must have the other player be a henchman. You cannot bring your own avatar in.

As well, I just read one re-review of the Online Xbox Live CO-OP


Also broken. The other player who comes to your world is forced to be a henchman..

What a screw up. It could have been the perfect couch co-op, or even online, but instead is just lame.

Lets hope they figure out that this is a major strike against the game.

I mean, who will come into my world as a henchman when they can play fully customized in their world.

But, so far it is an awesome single player game at least.

Just sad and disappointed.

Fable 2 - Out of that RPG rut

I did something tonight that I have not done in quite a while.

I lost track of time, wandered around, played with my little pup, dug up some treasure, got in some fights...

And realized I had yet to continue on the main quest...

(Also have 3 women, and 1 guy who REALLY like me and want some gifts...)

Fable 2 - 1 Hour in and ready to duo

Ok...about 1 hour in, goofing off and doing the tutorial, I am ready to do some duo fun.

As I have stated before, I have been DYING for a real on the couch old school RPG like Baldurs Gate and Legends of Norrath.
Looks like Fable 2 will foot that bill.
Basically you can create multiple accounts on the Xbox, for separate users, and then press the start button on the second controller. This allows anyone to hop in from their account.

So, right now the main account on the 360 is for the wife, and I created a secondary on the same system.
Once she is done with the tutorial, we will bring me in and each session will be us in one world to see how this affects the overall game.

Should be fascinating to see how this world will change with us both in it.

I have not told her about the Orgies yet though...(shhh...keep it secret)

More as we play...so later..

Fable 2 - I am leaving for the store...

And will put in some massive time tonight to get a feel for if they did things right this time.

The review consensus seems to say...Yes!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I can never WIN in that MMO

I put up a comment on MMOQuest for Stargrace's post..Random Bits

She states
"Tipa and I were talking about how EQ2 is “home base” for both of us. We may play other games, and I certainly do wander but when all is said and done we both end up back in EQ2 - and happily so. "

And I started to wonder if I had a home.

And then it struck me when I posted in her comments there.

I am use to the mentality that games are meant to be WON. They END. You have a goal.

And maybe this is the issue with MMO's in general. None ever have an ending per se...

They are an endless grind, just like life...

I happen to already have one of those. (Yes...I really do...)

And this is my concern. Maybe this is why one MMO has never been my "home" game. Many can keep my interest, yet, I have never gotten to end game of any MMO...

Except Guild Wars. And surprise...it has an END.

I can look my list of previous PC, Playstation, Xbox and 360 games that I have COMPLETED, and I feel I accomplished something.

Maybe this IS the problem with MMO's for many is that every day you come back and do the same things as before. Unique features will only pop up so many times, then you just rinse and repeat.

What goal am I achieving? Achievement systems seem to be going in place in some games, and that is a cool option...titles also. Items become goals. Housing and Guild Halls in some games.
Raids? Are these final goals? Nothing seems final about these options though.

I guess I am confused over when the RIGHT time is that I can say..I accomplished something in that game..

I can rarely say that for an MMO.

"I made it 8 months in that game" ...THAT is an achievement?

What is your main goal besides entertainment in an MMO?

I like to be entertained by movies...but they end.
TV Shows? They end each week...but, the serialization gives a finished effect...
Novels? End...until the next book...but, you accomplished something by reading that novel.

This is a strange ponderance and something that niggles at the back of my mind.

Have you thought about this?

Is the only reason we play to maybe socialize? Could we not do this in just another chat room?

Food for thought as I head to bed.

G'night

Warhammer Online - Amazing how many are done now

I have been quite shocked over the number of bloggers that are done with WAR.

So many issues of bloggers starting arguments with other bloggers about about how they felt that people should not knock WAR..It WAS innovative yet, others could not see it...

Yet, here we are at that 30 day mark, and people going back to WoW, EQ2, Vanguard...even LOTRO has had an upsurge of players..

And to even hit the bottom, people left WAR to go back to AoC.

From Tobold and Ogrebear. To Hudson asking what other games to play. Ardwulf has even decided to go back to EvE but is trying to find a reason to stay in WAR....

Seems the steam died out fast for this one.

I am sure it is a fun game for some...but, even the X-Fire curve is starting it's downward spiral.

It makes me wonder what it is that WAR did NOT have...what is that one thing that catches players of MMO's that did not work here?

It plays like WoW, looks similar to WoW, yet could not muster the drive that kept the WoW player type of mentality on board...

Why not share your insights...Did you stay, did you go? Are you contemplating playing another MMO WHILE playing WAR?

Should be good to hear..

Fable 2 - And what will tomorrow be like????

Via Gamebanshee for OXM magazine

The very first review of Lionhead Studios' Fable II is an exclusive for The Official Xbox Magazine.

Fable II really is everything Molyneux promised the first time around. It's funny, deep, emotional epic, and, yes, wildly charming. We're already eager for a second playthrough, and we're betting a lot of you will have exactly the same reaction.

9.5/10

Eurogamer

Fable II will charm you, thrill you, and leave you very, very happy. 10/10

Snappy Gamer

If you own a 360, you simply must own Fable II.
Rating:
★★★★★


Disappointing eh?

WHO AM I KIDDING...

OMG!

Age of Conan - The communication is key

And luckily the new Game Director knows this.

We as subscribers have been treated to another update and discussion on Patch 3.0, and the goodies involved.
A few are major standouts, and makes me truly excited..

1. PvP Update part II
This adds the criminal system which changes the dynamics of PvP overall.
Called the Consequence/Notoriety system, the player who decides to murder new players on a regular basis gain "Murder" points.

As Craig describes it
"If you take part in anti-social actions in PVP, picking on weaker foes and such you will find yourself accruing ‘murder points’ that will eventually mean the attitudes of NPCs in the world will change towards you"

Now, of course this could be detrimental and blocks a need that, for some reason, certain anti-social players partake in.

No access to major NPC's could ruin a players game.

Luckily they instead will be turning this into a new game of sorts, as these players will have access to "Bandit" camps with quests, rewards and vendors specific to this type of player.

The RP-PvP server could be a major hoot with this new addition.

2. Changes to Trade-skills
Also known as the PvE additions.

This expands a major section of the game that some players have had issues with..
Crafted goods and their need, and expansion of itemization.
‘Base’, ‘Culture’ and ‘City’ armors and weapons recipes will give weapon-smiths and armor-smiths many new pieces to craft.
The recipes for these items include new resources that Alchemists, Skinners, Weavers and Woodcutters will have to provide.
So now, working together with other player crafter's and gatherer's is encouraged and even necessary.

Craig discusses the reasoning for this (as if we did not know...)
"Listening to player feedback made it clear to us that especially the Alchemist profession had to get an overhaul in terms of the too high number of available alchemy recipes and needed resources to craft these sorts of items. With this update the number of alchemy resources has been reduced by about two thirds and existing recipes have been adjusted accordingly. This will make crafting for alchemists much more enjoyable and allows this profession to focus on crafting specific items and potions as an unnecessary high number of different recipes and resources made it hard to actually find what was needed."

This will be a major as the armor and items were a detriment based on their visual styles. The abundance of changes should add more uniquity to an already gorgeous world.

3. Combat Updates
Another major change.
As I have discussed in a previous post, a change to the speed, damage and overall feel to combat is taking place.
From melee to heals, this is almost an overhaul.

This is pretty soon in the game to be making such changes, but it does eliminate a major problem in the games higher levels, and specifically PvP.

The one-shot kill.

Craig expounds upon the reasons...
"Firstly the way how crowd control and immunities work has been adjusted. This change now will cause players to break stuns, fears, roots, snares and charms when they have lost a certain amount of health. This should give players a fair chance to withstand these spells and fight back."
"We have also received feedback that too many combos were too long to perform, where players felt that hitting directional keys was dominating the game-play more than it should. Reducing the number of steps on the longer combos should hopefully rectify this feeling."
"Obviously this move does affect the potential damage players do, and given that we also wanted to start addressing the effectiveness of healing in combat. We approached this by giving some classes utilities to make the healing of others less efficient. As a result, the Ranger, the Demonologist and the Herald of Xotli have all received healing debuff abilities. This is obviously an area that we will track closely and if additional changes are required it will be an area that continues to get tweaks and adjustments."

There is no doubt, these changes are major, and we kept seeing something said by Craig that really hits home.

"Player feedback"

The fact that they are willing to gather the feedback and rework issues with the game really shows the commitment Craig has toward the game.
As well, the forums are abuzz with these changes, meaning people ARE talking, and less "attacking" and spam posts are taking place.

This was a major issue in the forums, and for good reason.

Gautes ignorance of the player was detrimental to the overall success of this game.
It may never recover those original numbers, but I think Craig can make enough of a difference to bring back those who DID like the game, but hated the treatment of Funcom toward the ongoing development.

This is great stuff, and with new PvE content being tested, and other fixes for Massive Siege PvP, and more....the game is progressing to where it should have been at launch.

Good work on Craigs part.

I am back and digesting the news

And there were some doozies while I was gone.

Amazing stuff.

Fable 2 and Age of Conan had some interesting stuff come out...and right now these two games are top of my list.

As I can wrap my thoughts around these announcements, I will get my next blog post up..

/em is giddy with excitement

Friday, October 17, 2008

3 Day weekend - I'm outta here..


For some Halloween fun.
The family heads into the scary mazes and theme park rides until Midnight. Today and tomorrow for some excitement and well needed time off.
We also bought advance tickets with a free feast and advance tour of all the attractions today...

Everyone have a good weekend.

I also suggest, everyone check out Blip.fm. I am impressed over this service. The selection of tunes available to listen to and playlist creation to plug in some headphones at work for is the best.
I am finding some really cool stuff, plus I can share my musical tastes with others..

Cheers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

World of Warcraft - We giveth and taketh away

If anyone remembers...a couple of months or so ago, my account for WoW had been reactivated.
I blogged about this little issue...(gone in a Nuclear Explosion of Russian Proportions now...)
Unbeknownst to me, someone had logged into my account, and activated it with some credit card that did not exist in my list of cards.
I notified Blizzard of this, closed down the subscription and changed passwords, the whole 9 yards.

Blizzard never gave notice of the subscriber issues, but credited my characters gold (as one upper level had been stripped).

Today, I received this email after almost 2 months?.

"Greetings,

Access to the World of Warcraft account ****(my account)***, has been temporarily disabled due to a dispute filed against the account's past payments. This dispute was filed by the bank, credit card company, or financial institution associated with the payment on the account.

As a result of this dispute, funds paid on the account were withdrawn from Blizzard Entertainment in direct violation of the account's terms. This is known as a "chargeback."


Now, nothing is accesible on this account, as it has been terminated.

This is what I consider the best way to NEVER go back to WoW.

Thanks mysterious account hacker, I appreciate it.

Thanks Blizzard for being stupid about this, and not handling the situation as I asked for.

WoW-free and clean for 1 year and counting...WooT!

Game forums mirror our Political Race

Relmstein mentions how the one way communications of the forums for WAR seems to be a way to avoid sharing more than their talking points..
This got me thinking how so much like our current political race (and our past) that the forums match in how they are presented...

Mythic policy - No Forum - No Discussion - We will present only the data you need, but we can peep in on you and listen to your conversations anytime we wish

Equal to?

*REPUBLICAN*

Funcom Policy - Seems all of our dirty laundry is aired no matter how controversial or messy..even our sexual endeavors are not secret, as someone is going to spill the beans eventually...

Equal to?

*DEMOCRATS*

Do you have any "Policies" to share?

Age of Conan - Eurogamer review and Patch 3.0

This week, Eurogamer has decided to re-review Age of Conan after 4 months.
This confused me, as the norm that is discussed for games to get their kinks out is 6 months. At least this is the noted timeline from many sites and players as well as forum discussion (how many times were you told a new MMO needs "6 months" before it is ready...hate that statement!!)

Anyways, as you may guess the review is not good, but it is reasonable.

Some noted comments are...

"Funcom has consistently disappointed its players in terms of content delivery"

"Major overhauls were coming, we were told. Really soon - any day now, in fact. New zones, a new player-versus-player system, class updates"

Just a couple there...read the full review for more in depth analysis of the problems..and the good...

Yes, there is good.

This summation says it best, as it is how I feel.

"And yet... Despite all of this, Age of Conan remains, somehow, a compelling game. Its world is undeniably beautiful, albeit somewhat small and restrictive compared to many of its rivals'. The combat system is still hugely entertaining - fast, visceral and immediate, in a way which no other MMOG has quite managed - and some of the classes, like the Herald of Xotli and the Demonologist, are genuinely innovative hybrids that are great fun to play and master. Moreover, Conan's lore is appealing - his world a fascinating one to explore."

"Age of Conan remains one of the most innovative and interesting additions to the MMORPG family in recent years..."

Yet, time may have been a cruel mistress here.
Funcom had their priorities in the wrong place and let the game suffer for this.

But, this brings me to patch 3.0.
A lot of people are calling this the PvE patch.

With enhancements to how items and combat works (faster attacks, streamlined combos) with adjustments to crafting (new recipes and itemization features) and just yesterday the addition of level 55+ content called the Ymir Pass....

This patch packs a lot in...

And to see how Craig Morrison, the new game lead, is handling things, there are several notes to the communications...

First an article Q&A was posted about the crafting system here.

As well, the Testlive forums (which are only accessible to subscribers) is full of data kept out of the messy General forums. A full thread discussing the Ymir content and the Combo changes is quite informative with posts from the developers.

I am unsure of the stake that Gaute had in Funcom as a whole, but his mucking about with AoC cost subscribers big time. Delays and patching of issues which no on cared about proved to be detrimental to the game as a whole.

Luckily, since patch 2.0, the game has been running smooth at least. People are still playing as they must believe the same way I do or Eurogamer does.
This game tried to make a difference. And it shows in how you play and how the various mechanics work.

My thought is if Patch 3.0 can be out within the infamous 6 month window, then it could make the game even more worthwhile as a whole.

As Xfire shows, the playerbase has found a niche in Conan, and is holding steady.

Now, I am excited about this new content...lets get it to live as soon as possible people.

Cheers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blizzard needs your cash...

Seems a discussion on Ardwulfs blog yesterday (In Defense of Blizzard) led to some much heated debate over why anyone believes a company is "greedy" if they want to make money.

(EDIT: Looks like Blizzard is being VERY safe about this discussion. They made it QUITE clear now that Battle.net will at least not be a monthly...Good for them. I rest easier now...)

One commenter, Rao, from Gestalt Mind, had this to say

"I have never understood the gamer attitude of, “Oh my god! They want to charge us for that? Money-grubbing evil bastards!”

Gaming companies are just that… companies. They are there to make money. That is their reason for being, but gamers seem to take it so personally that the game companies want to make a living.

You don’t see Burger King adding a new sandwich to their menu and then fast food junkies all over the planet start getting all up in arms because Burger King charges for them, but yet gamers do this."

I started another long winded comment, and decided to bring it here...

@Rao
May I ask this? Does Burger King offer anything free? And then decide to charge you for it?
Lets say you buy a Burger, and the fries were free.
Then they decide one day that they must charge you for those fries.
How would you react?
Would you think "Oh poor Burger King must be hurting for money, and they must charge for those fries now...good for them"
or
"Burger King is declining in business, and they need our money..."

Yea...that is what it is like.

All I am saying is if they decide to "charge" for Battle.net, then they better offer a reason.
Look at HG:L. They had the game as a free service. Yet, if you paid for a monthly they added a ton of features to your game.
Now, back to the Burger King deal. Lets say they decide to charge for the fries...but originally they were a medium, and they switch it to a large, THEN charge.

This is how it is done.

Look at the ways Guild Wars monetized.

Extra Character slot - Charge
Unlock skills for PvP - Charge

Services are the way to monetize. Maybe THIS should have been the route. People want to feel they are getting something for their money.

If Battle.net is still a glorified chat room lobby to meet others or sell stuff...you can manage this through some other way (say X-Fire).

Now, Blizzard has mentioned charging for "customization" of your look.

THIS is the way to monetize.

As long as the only way to get that look is by fees and not something that is already offered in character creation...cool.
Also, the item you buy cannot be a drop either.

It sounds like everyone believes I think Blizzard should not be making money...far from it.

But, they need to be careful HOW they make it is all.

@Tipa
"Games companies are in the business to make money, and maybe monetizing b.net will finally drive all the b.net kiddies off to Xbox Live where they will be safely away from real gamers."

Ouch (we won't go into a study done that showed the average age of the Xbox 360 user is 35-44)..
But, to honestly think that "monetizing" gets rid of kids...uh, have you played WoW? I have found 14 and 15 year old kids in EQ2 with bad attitudes many a time.
This is far from the purpose of the monetizing, and to think such a thing is foolish.
This was just a silly attack on Xbox live users. And I agree that there are a ton of mouthy brats (my son included) on the service.
But, it sure will not drive away that kid that needs everything, which happen to be the ones who are the mouthiest.
It will just cement a more "elitist" attitude if anything.

The monetizing will just engender attitudes across the board. Blizzard is seen as a powerhouse right now, and so far is STILL not slowing down (this seems to be the argument of WHY Blizzard needs to charge) and if sales are any indication, WoW is still topping the charts even though WAR has taken the top spot for several weeks.

This is just greed at this point.

Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 will both sell like madness. They will earn funds which should help with Blizzards continued development of their next big MMO.

And believe me, THAT MMO will sell also. THIS will be their next cash cow.

Battle.net is just a slap in the face to the fans of these games. And fans are fickle.

Guess we will have to wait and see how this progresses. To me, Blizzard can have my cash for Diablo 3.

Battle.net will be off the table for me....

But of course, I see the removal of LAN play as the slap on the other cheek. And guess what...blind fanboys will also turn that cheek, no question asked...

Sorry...maybe I should feel sorry for poor Blizzard....

Whatever!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fantasy novels from overseas

Lately I have been on a foreign authors kick.
I still have some American/British authors and stories I am reading....

But, lately I have strayed into new territory, with several books.

Sergei Lukyanenko and the "Watch" series started me on this track.
A set of books set in modern times where certain individuals have magical powers, called the "Others". There destiny is set for them based on the decisions they make with these powers, and can belong to Good or Evil.
The "Others" can also be Vampires, Werewolves...etc.


Of course Good and Evil is not well defined here, and it leaves some decisions up to the readers.
There is of course a neutral group called the Inquisition, and they try to keep the sides in balance.
All "Others" must be registered, and must use their powers accordingly.

The writing is not prose like a lot of high end authors tend to go for (Tolkien, Donaldson, Goodkind to name a few...), but is instead more conversational.
Meaning the reader is caught up in the lives of the players instead of descriptive text going for paragraphs at a time.
A Russian author, I came upon the books after watching the movie, and loved the setting. Vampires, Werewolves, witches, etc. I found the text printed in English translation, and loved the style. I have actually put aside some books to read this work.
Now, that I am back to the basic American/English titles, I find them hard to swallow with their flourish of language.

By the way...the book is WAY different than the movies, and it is quite fun to watch the movie AND read the books, as each had different stories to tell.

I wanted to know this world and their peoples. The setting is in Russia, so the fact you are in this world, and the writing discusses varying facts that detail Russia, both before and after Communism...it is like a history lesson...without the lesson.
I FEEL like I am in Russia, and their old world ways.
I am enamored, and it made me go in search of more titles.

Thanks to a video game, the next book I read was based on the best selling PC game, The Witcher. the book is called Last Wish.
A little promo someone created for the novel with scenes from the game below.
Awesome.



A Polish author this time. Andrzej Sapkowski. This book is a collection of short stories which follow a timeline (very cool idea). Basically like one off adventures of this hero, an introduction to him, and what he is about.
The visual style is very good here, and again, it gives hints of the Old World as it may have existed, without a history lesson.

The characters all exists in a gray setting, meaning AGAIN, it is hard to discern Good and Evil. So few authors do this, and instead dilenate the lines of the Good and Evil. We know this guy is the hero, and this one the villian. Not so in these books.

Action abounds in these stories, and great characters. What is highly amusing is some of the characters may even be familiar.
Hints of Snow White and Prince Charming exists in these stories, which plays well with the fact that the main character seems to be dreaming of his past history while injured, and who is to say that he is not delusional...we are unsure.

The only issue here is the translation is off, and characters may change their attributes like a Duke becomes a Prince, then back to a Duke within one story..

But, the setting and characters make up for this.

A new novel is being translated, and hopefully this will be better.

So, now, having read these, I have been slightly spoiled, and would like to see if other authors or stories exists.

I will point out one which really caught my attention.

I found another Russian author, who seems to be QUITE controversial.

His name is Nick Perumov. I just found out he moved recently to North Carolina (my home state right now), so it perked my interest even more.

One book stands out, which is the only title I found in English.
It is a collaboration with another author, Allan Cole.
The name of the book is Lords of Terror.



Ready for this synopsis?
"What if a demonic cabal altered history to feed off a hatred that could never end?"
"The story starts in the 30th century. The Cold War of the 1950’s between Russia and the USA was restarted following the joint assassination of George Bush and Vladimir Putin at the 2004 Olympics, and has therefore been deepening for about a century."

Yup. Talk about a touchy subject. And the story gets wilder with machines being run by gremlins, a spacecraft with an alien race coming back to Earth, demons walking among us all.
Alternative Fantasy at its best.

Upon hearing this author was so controversial, I went in search of why, and found this little bit of history.



Perumov's "Elven Blade".
"Three hundred years have passed since the War of the Rings. The Dark Lord's fortress lies in ruins, peace and prosperty has not left the free lands of Middle-Earth. The last remnants of wizards and mighty kings have grown weak from abundances of luxury and turn a deaf ear to the powerful omens prophesizing great evil. Suspicious wanderers have been seen in the inns of Shire and in Folko the Hobbit's hands glows with an uneasy blue fire THE ELVEN BLADE."

You are reading that correctly. After reading the LOTR Trilogy, he did not want the story to end, so based on various texts and his own ability to recall the originals in great detail, he CONTINUED Tolkien's masterpiece. (lol)
Now, of course, there is no English translation of this story. Yet.
Seems this gentleman translates his own texts, so, hopefully this could be released..

I doubt it.

Anyways, I plan to continue going in search of these oddities. I am really hard pressed to read these days, and I am treating them just like my MMO's.

In need of change.

If it is unique, then I will be there.

Can you recall any Fantasy books that do not follow the norm, and try to be different? Let me know (ps: Not a Sci-Fi fan, unless it mixes Fantasy, like Nightwatch being set in today's world, but has Fantasy based creatures like Vampires, etc.)

Cheers.

Age of Conan - Stygia and the outer zone

Tetlana is proving to be a favorite of mine.

A level 30 Necromancer, this class is fun to play for several reasons.


Even though I have pets, they do NOT take aggro, and are there to enhance my DPS output only.

I must choose the correct pets based on their attack methods. From standard attacks to mana drains (and even a spellcaster I just gained at level 30), strategy is everything.

My own personal spells are dangerous, with quite a few AoE versions to allow maximum death to rain down from above.

Freezing and Unholy skills are her specialty.


It is appropriate that the Necro deals with death as she deals death to mobs on a massive scale.


So far I have toured the Khopshef Province, and have entered various locations plying my trade as the "Lady of Death".


People have stated that it is a good "solo" class, and they may be right.
But, this past weekend would have been the perfect time to have her in a group with my Dark Templar.

He is not doing so well.


I entered an Epic zone of Field of the Dead (basically a Raid like setting that all zones have...i.e: when you enter you have a choice to enter it Epic. You must have a party to live.).
We had a group of 4.
Myself, a Bear Shaman, a Barbarian and an Archer class.
One Boss proved to be the end of us though.

Not because he killed us, but instead based on the fact WE could not kill HIM.

His heal kept him right above our damage output, which was pitiful.
The only one doing damage was the Ranger, with some shots hitting close to 800 damage.
Myself, not even 200.
The Bear Shaman was able to keep us healed while dealing damage himself.
But, damage was not his job at that juncture.
The Barbarian..well, maybe he was NOT doing his job. He was going 2 handed, and not sneaking, and pulling aggro a lot of times. But, his output was better than mine.

The Dark Templar has just been an ongoing issue in Conan.

It seems this class just does not fit into any category...which is both good and bad.
Since the standards of tank and spank do not work the same in AoC compared to other MMO's, DPS is not it's place, yet, tanking also is not this classes strong suit, as no matter what I did (raised my taunt skills, heavy damage) I could not take aggro or keep it.

So, most people feel the class is overlooked...which it mostly is.

No recent fixes have been in this classes favor.

And thanks to it's "Vampiric" like attacks, the class is quite fun to play with a life tap that keeps you alive a lot longer than you normally would survive, but this is the issue.

You cannot kill anything, and nothing can hardly kill you.

With Patch 3.0, the combo reductions should speed up combat, yet a nerf is coming into play for the DT.
Bad news for an under achieving class to begin with.

Screams of "Delete the DT's" is already being tossed around on the Test forums.

The classes remind me of EQ2 with so many variations, and some being overlooked by players.
I guess this will be another "wait and see" situation.

But, for now, I think my focus will move to my Necro as when it comes to fun, this class is it.

I have started a Bear Shaman also, which should get me into more groups. More on that class later.

Ok...back to gaming...cheers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Supernatural - Plug time

Tell me you are watching it? Tell me that you have your eye on probably the best show of this seasons entries so far...

With Heroes taking a downturn. Stargates final season is on TV this year, Battlestar and Lost is not on for a while. And other shows are good (Fringe, and I am pleased, but not WOW) or not good (Terminator, just have not felt like watching it)

No, this year, a show pulls a rabbit out of it's hat and becomes something tremendous.
Great acting by two great looking stars, and a story that takes a turn and really makes you think of our world in many ways...

If you are not aware, Supernatural follows the story of two young men whose Mother and now Father have been taken away by those creepy things that go bump in the night.
They become "Demon Hunters".
What people may not realize is how the show is based on an RPG called Hunter: The Reckoning.

For Hunter the RPG it states:
"Humans go about their daily lives, with no recognition of the supernatural forces around them, or the evil that rises from it. However, people who witness a traumatic event involving this supernatural evil are given a "message" to act against it. This message is received from enigmatic beings known as the Messengers, Heralds or Patrons, who are agents of the universe's creative force, analogous to angels. Those who do not act after receiving the message are "Bystanders", who recognize the darkness for what it is but are powerless to do anything about it because they refused the means to do so. However, those that receive the message and choose to fight the darkness are called the "Imbued", and they are granted powers called "Edges" to fight against the evil. The Imbued are also called Hunters."

Most of this has not been seen in Supernatural which has run for 3 seasons, and is now within it's 4th stellar season with an unusual twist.
One of the boys is secretly being trained by a Demon to hone powers of telekinesis, mind reading, etc.
The other ...has received an Arch Angel who is guiding his choices.

Edges if you will.

Having played the game in the past, I see the little nods to the RPG within this show, and the fact the special effects are expanding and getting better, the twists and plot lines deepen through it all with an underlying story that keeps the threads together.
This show has really had a killer 4th season so far.

Check out the show on DVD if you can, and make sure to give it time. The 1st season was full of the monster of the week shows, like Scooby Doo for adults. The 2nd season started to flesh out the mythology much more, and the 4th season is the culmination of a show where the writers have a grasp of what to do to make their show work (looks at Heroes with a /sadface).

Part of the CW network...check it out if you are a horror movie buff who likes some meat in their story...and we are not talking just the two good looking boys!!

Later

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Age of Conan - Rodion, Weird Diversion

Just a little ditty today...maybe NSFW (some language and blurry bits..)

Yet, quite creative...enjoy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Age of Conan - Has found its niche

Well, I have been keeping an eye on this for a while, and it seems to finally evened out.


Xfire shows a steady play rate, and Age of Conan has finally found its location on their charts..
Sundays spike quite nicely and the weekdays seem pretty steady..

Guess the niche has been found, and time will only tell if the patches and the purported return free campaign coming next year will bring it back up.

But...return campaigns are not always good for some games...
Vanguard


Cheers...and have a fun gaming weekend.

Friday, October 10, 2008

8 Years almost over...

And

God is an Astronaut

Age of Conan - The "Armor" discussion

On a previous post, I was having a discussion with Zeebrat about armor in Age of Conan.
He had this to say...

However, no matter what you do, you're wearing mud or dirt covered clothes.

I did take a moment to point out these particular pieces I have found in my travels.

Amatheon

Tetlana

Ishtarii

The first is Medium Armor for my Dark Templar.
The second is for my Necromancer and is Cloth.
The Third is an arguable piece.
It is a light armor for a Herald of Xolti.

But, so far I have not been able to find those pieces again..

Not one minute after that, I received this story update from MMORPG.

New crafting dev discusses cultural armors.

Patch 3.0 is reworking crafting recipes to integrate what is called "Culture" specific armors from different regions in Hyborian lore.
These are not only wearable pieces, but based on Testlive notes will have "Social" pieces also.

Basically the game is filling up an area that I felt should have been Funcoms focus at first.
PvE and RP possibilities.

The developer states...
"With the introduction of the new crafting content, players will find that tradeskills as a whole has become more cognizant of Conan lore"

Zeebrat says AoC looks "real" and I agree. Maybe this is where differences in taste apply.

Some wish for a more stylized world, and some wish for more realism.

If anything each belong in their proper place.

There is no doubt Age of Conan captures the low fantasy setting appropriately. A gritty world full of danger.

WoW and WAR as examples capture their High Fantasy sides. Magical and colorful.

With the additions coming for the PvE side of things in AoC (new content, quests, voiceovers), I am excited that they are still working on the game, no matter the issues that came before.

Cheers.

When a game is TOO real

Ray Kurzweil, Futurist...now MMO Blogger.
(EDIT: Seems the linked article is incorrect, and I wish to thank the commenter who pointed this out. Seems the site I found the information on, Kotaku, was being sensationalistic..gotta love these game/news/blog sites. Any reference to Kurzweil is strictly in a blogger sense. All entries edited for content. )

Superstruct, discussed by Kurzweil, is an MMO simulation of what life may be like by the year 2019. You as a player create your profile of your "future" self, and then attempt to learn about five possible "Superthreats".

Here is a youtube video of what the thought is regarding these threats which are so real, as to make one wonder "Is this really a game"?



Also, linked there is this video of somone describing how to play..



The site states that the Institute for the Future will compile the data from the simulation, and when 10 years have passed, create a document of the data to present to Governments.

You as the player work with teams on which you deem the most important threat to tackle. You then write a story in collaboration to discuss how to handle this.

Quite a few stories already exists on the site.

The "game" is free (from what I can tell so far). The site is pretty convoluted, but if you are the type that likes to explore and spend time just reading various information, or looking at the structure and layout, there is a lot to see here.

Videos discussing each of the threats, an FAQ and more are all on the site to help you learn more about the game.

This definitely smacks of Pen and Paper RPG due to the need to "story-fy" your profile.
I am still investigating the site, but so far this is unique, and I for one like the idea of dealing with these issues.

I do have some problems due to how realistic of an approach it takes, and for games, I prefer realism in a fantasy world, not my real one. But, no one never said I was NOT adventurous...(A Voyeur too according to the Cops, I think that was the word they used...)

Give the site a gander, and let me know your thoughts.