Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guild Wars - The Myths Discussion

Since I started talking about Guild Wars again, I see Twitter is a Twutter (erm...Flutter) with other conversations about this old game.
Almost as old as EQ2 and WoW, it seems to hold up quite well in retrospect (visually as appealing if not moreso than EQ2 and makes WoW look like it is being run on my calculator).

But, I think a lot of people still have qualms or concerns over various aspects of the game and have never tried it because of those concerns. I hope to crack some of those here (or at least allay such fears...) and clear the air on some points.

1. Only 20 levels
This one is pretty prevalent, as most people think that "if it does not have 40-80 levels", then the game ends pretty fast.
This is nonsense actually.
Thanks to an endgame that actually is far more compelling and has an actual reason for existing (and not the usual "raid" kind), the 20 levels are not a concern.
To give an example, in Prophecies, the levels are considerably slower, but it is because you are put through an engaging storyline that does not need "levels" to make you feel like you must grind.
And that is the keyword...GRIND. The actual leveling and playing of the PvE does not require a grind.
The other campaigns seem to flow faster (with Factions being very quick...within several days and Nightfall maybe a week at most), you get to the heart of the game much quicker.
Also, of note, if you do not like the PvE play, and want PvP...then guess what, no need to level at all, and you go directly to the PvP gameplay. But, PvE allows you to do a special part of the game called "Capturing Skills". Check out a wiki for more on that, as we are not here to discuss the finer points.

2. Old game, No population
This is probably so far from the truth, that it is laughable.
Now, depending on which campaign you go into (I keep mentioning this word, as GW is broken up into "Chapters" called Campaigns...again, wiki is your friend, if you must know more) you could find a smaller pop.
But, this game is FAR from empty. The servers are broken into districts, and so many exist.
Want to know how busy the game is? Just change (yes, you can do that...) to District 1 in any campaign, and see the loads of people in the important cities.
We hit major lag in the city on our first load, as so many people need to be adjusted for, it is crazy. Suffice to say, so many are running missions and forming groups...and if you do NOT like grouping...hey, GW has that covered also (thanks to Heroes and Henchmen).
Also, GW is one of the few games that still holds top spots on Xfire after so many years, as people just keep playing and playing. And why wouldn't you, as it is free after the box sale.

3. Kiddies Dancing
Yes, I actually saw someone give this as a reason not to play.
And why shouldn't the kiddies dance? Free to play after purchase, meet new people, hang out in town and NEVER adventure.
But, c'mon, do some research. There is a mature guild that plays in GW heavily. There are many adults who play the game. Really, there are so many kids in other MMO's that using this as an excuse is sad.
Do a little more investigation. We did a simple "Looking for mature players" in general chat, and so many replies hit is quite a busy game, that there are more than enough players of all ages to have fun with.

4. No Jumping
All I ask is you go outside your house, and as soon as you leave, just keep jumping as you walk along. Better yet... tell me how many times in a day YOU need to jump while living normal life.
Now, just focus very carefully in your other MMO. Try not to jump for jump's sake. Now, play for two hours. How many times did you NEED to jump in THAT MMO?
My chances of NEEDING to jump is maybe once or twice in a two hour play session...AT MOST. Sometimes not at all.

I never miss jumping in Guild Wars.

These are just a few of the issues people have. There are others, which all are ridiculous, but I say there is NO REASON not to try Guild Wars and have some fun. It may not be what you are use to in your MMO...but, isn't that the best part?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guild Wars - Back in the game...

This past weekend was truly monumental for several reasons.

First up, TV viewing rocked.

We have been watching a BBC Drama called "Being Human" which is back for a second season. This show does not disappoint. It is almost an hour in length (as a comparison, normal American TV is usually 40-45 minutes at most), and it captivates you the whole time.
The storyline is not your standard run of the mill either. And it is about Werewolves, Ghosts and Vampires. So, how do they do it? They treat the characters as more realistic. For example one woman has been changed into a werewolf, and instead of the whole "I feel power" bit, and enjoying the capabilities, we instead see how the relationship of the woman and her boyfriend who changed her starts to fall apart as she cannot comprehend what has happened to her.
Also, this weekend was the launch of Spartacus on Starz (is this their first drama series? Can anyone verify that?). This show is also a doozy thanks to Sam Raimi in the production team along with the rest of his Xena, Hercules writers, etc...
Their claim to fame is using the stop motion action of 300 (slow mo and complete stops as well) for the fight sequences along with painted visuals that look like a computer RPG game at times. The blood is red, rich, splashy and visually dynamic (if you like that sort of thing, which we as a whole LOVE it when heads fly or body limbs are sliced off).
This pastiche causes an almost comic book effect for some sequences, and really was truly a better production than most Sam Raimi pieces have been (see the mentioned Hercules, Xena and The Legend of the Seeker). Acting was a sight better as well. We even get the return of Lucy, I am game (especially with the greco-roman setting, which is one of my favorite periods).

This weekend was also movie night (Saturdays official!!) with this weeks feature being the Steampunk animated flavored "9".
Well done, and thanks again to some oversight of production by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (who did the work on Nightwatch, Daywatch and Wanted), visually appealing and a cool storyline (though could have been fleshed out more...). much of this extra stuff getting in the way when the title of my post is the major story of the weekend. Thanks to the prodding of my son who was ready to join us again for some gaming, we all took a vote and chose Guild Wars as the next game in our list to play together.

Myself and the wife have played the game on and off since launch (almost 5 years ago?) and every time we have a blast. But, it is difficult to go back to a game when you are itching for something new. Our son who had not experienced the game though pushed us on and we finally logged in Sunday, and was delighted.
Our son is still getting to grips over a system that is totally different than most MMO's (no jumping??). The locked down skill bar system and on rails style gameplay is unique, but also seems to be quite fun so far for us...and a good time waster here and there. At least until Funcom gets it's act together (2012?).

Anyways, as we progress, maybe I will finally have something to discuss again, thanks to being in a [semi] MMO. So far my son has given a "Thumbs Up".

More on the gaming front soon, and hopefully everyone is having a blast in their game of choice...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If I was playing an MMO...

...I would have more to write about.

And this is true. It seems that whenever I start to play a single player game (RPG, Action, etc..) my posting habits seem to diminish.

Why is that?

My guess leads to the "problems" of these games...laying blame on issues or concerns... whether it is gameplay, developers, name it, MMO's have them in spades. Yet, while playing Single Player games, I just do not feel the need to discuss it.
During my Age of Conan stint, I had discussions of changes, developer screw ups and what not. When I was playing EQ2, I could discuss the world, etc.. which as I can see discussion has to do with community, the worlds we play in when in an MMO and the overall social aspects.

Currently my game time is filled with Dragon Age, Divinity 2, and even played The Witcher (but, I did load up Guild never knows how that will go...son has shown an interest)...but, overall, MMO land has really been a downer. So, I have no need to discuss guilds, the world, or anything that most people could just read in a review anyways.

Take today for example.

I decided to go check how good Age of Conan has been doing on Xfire, and saw it had dropped to #83. Truly the lowest spot it has been yet AND 30 spots down from last week.
Guess people are tired of waiting for updates....and I can see why. It has been months since the last update, and there is really not much new to do. But, the family is holding on to time cards for when new patches they better get on that road quick. The game is failing dismally.

I have not closed up shop yet in the blogging world, but no MMO means nothing to rant or rave about. Guess I better hope something happens very soon.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Divinity 2 - Fini`

And so it comes to an end. 40+ hours of gameplay, and I have come to the conclusion of Divinity 2.

Was it worth it? Yes. Even with the horrid ending that if you watch Japanese movies or Anime and know how they end, then welcome to the end of Div 2.
I do not wish to give away anymore at this point. But, I do want to talk for a moment on Div 2 and a few other news tidbits.

First off, what compelled me most about Divinity 2? The variety of things I needed to do was one factor. The non-hand holding and difficulty also helped.

I really enjoy games that make me feel like it is life or death, but I have a way to survive if I keep on my toes. For example, the ending fight in Div 2 was truly outrageous, but was survivable if you learned some tricks to stay alive. That is key to an action game for me.
The non-hand holding is a far cry from most of our MMO's (except LOTRO, where the obtuse questing just becomes frustrating). But, I think MMO's need to have that feature due to the size and scope of those games. Divinity 2 with the open world to explore mechanic, where the world is finite?...that helps give me a sense of adventure (adventurer?) yet completion as well.

The variety of things to do really got crazy. The enchanting of armor, charms you could apply, crafting of potions, and even controlling your own pet that you built (a necromantic skill) really just made it crazy deciding how to build, rebuild, shape and setup my character.
Variety was also key to your own classing. YOU controlled what you wished to do ...from heals, to tanking, DPS and defense, summoning, ranger attributes...and more.

The game was not easy, and I finally had reached a point in one puzzle that I needed to look it up...and THAT was it. All the other puzzles had enough of a learn curve to make it hard to do, but possible. That difficulty factor if you will is what was key to my fun. Same for fights, with tricky ways to complete some of these (boss fights mainly), but not impossible.

I like that.

There is no doubt there were gaping holes in plot, bugs to deal with, as seems to be par for course now for all software titles. But, they were not enough to make me stop.

That is the sign of fun to me.

And patches are still being developed, that it could warrant a second play through to find some things I missed along the way (I had to leave one zone with 3 locked chests I could never open...wonder how to get into those?).
It was an awesome time, and I felt that nostalgia I felt from The Witcher, Fable 2, etc.

It was just plain gaming fun.

Now, before I leave, just some news of note.

First off, the "Family who MMO's together" has been on hiatus. Thanks to several issues with EQ2 that caused us to lose interest, we just never logged back in. This to me felt like a bad sign.
We never stopped playing Age of Conan with the concerns there. Why? Because we at least could continue to play and have fun.
When EQ2 had multiple days of "unannounced" downtimes during the holiday period (where we really like to play a lot), this caused quite a stir.
We lost our son to the Xbox, and I started playing single player games. My wife lost interest due to the multiple issues she had (loss of claimable items, no rewards for a special quest and of course the outage that blocked her one time, after my son and myself got in...), and as she stated, the game "disappointed" her. She just was not happy about logging in again.

I feel that way when people or things let me down as well.

So, we wait. For what, we are not sure.

Age of Conan is of course our game of choice. But, Funcom is TRULY quite slow when it comes to development, and STILL no patch, no fixes...nothing for several months. This just keeps the game on our "wish it was better list".
We have time cards ready to go, and will most likely start again after patch 1.06. But, when that will hit, we do not know.
The news today though is the first step for "merges" are taking place. This also comes with a doozy of a side note: Anyone who has not played for the last 7 months and has a character level 21 or under...will be due for deletion.
This also makes me wonder just how bad things will be after merge? Loss of items, characters...CITIES?

A nailbiter there.

Well, that is enough rambling for now. As a final little goodbye, I wish to let everyone know I went back to Dragon Age and I am giving it another shot. The chattiness was getting to me, and I started to lose interest. But, now with Divinity 2 done, and no other MMO ready to go, lets see how it feels now.
I played about two hours this morning and had that is a start eh?

Later folks.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Divinity 2 - Dragon Age what? title is QUITE bold, but hear me out.

Unequivocally... I truly LOVE Divinity 2 ...way more than Dragon Age.

There I said it. It is done. Fanboys and Girls may stop here...or read on...

There is no gut wrenching story of love, hate, loss, or even pushy politics (though you DO create some of your own). There is just one goal in Divinity 2. Fun RPG goodness wrapped up into a button smashing, stats controlling, gear swapping, sandbox open world of fun.

Now, do not get me wrong. You have a goal. Think of it like Oblivion in the respect that you have one central story to complete, but you do not have a linear path there, and you do not have a time basis to complete it in (my over 30 hours of addiction can relate to that).
You complete various bits and pieces in the game world as you reach it. You find a dungeon, go in, and do it. You run around the world and activate NPC's as you get near them, then you can complete their quest at that time, or go do another dungeon or etc, etc. It ends up being various random events strung along in the large world map that you get to play in as you get there.

Again, the events are things that can be triggered by a central quest, or just happens as you move through the world. But, once you are done, eventually you can finish a piece of the world, and complete the stories for that zone...then you move on.

Basically, I could twist this around all day, and try to explain it. But, I won't. The underlying theme to me as I did each of these quests or activated NPC's or turned in quests and moved on; these things made one purpose clear...

I wanted to keep going.

What would they hit me with next? Like a good novel, if I wanted to continue reading instead of turning out the light and going to bed, there was a winning formula within those pages. Within this code (that is somewhat large) is a slew of little issues and bugs that would pop up, that most likely would make me quit out, and not boot it back up....if the game sucked. It did not. It does not, as I am STILL playing, and can see the potential for more here.

Ok, ok...this is not your normal review. I could sit here and tell you the in's and out's of gameplay. I could describe features like total control of your stats as you level. You are classless, thus you make your own class, which with my hybrid of Mage, Ranger and Warrior as the example, is so much cooler than the standards of most RPG's or MMO's.
I could go on about the fact that the game is NOT easy (though it may seem so at first), as the mobs become more prevalent and plentiful. More powerful as well. Or that finding the areas you need to go to (thanks to no "leading by the hand" mapping) can prove to be a pain, yet also a delight as you discover new little areas.
I could discuss the interweaving of humor, story, interesting plot twists (wait, I am a Dragon Slayer, yet I have the spirit of a Dragon within me?) or the fact that I take the story at my pace. I can investigate all the little nooks and crannies to find more goodies (, how am I suppose to get that key they hid up on that shelf? And why is it that I have found 6 chests within this one zone that do not have keys there a secret to opening them?)...

Nope, I won't ...for now. BUT...I will leave you with this little video that pretty much gives you an idea of how much fun the developers were having with this game.

Cheers...oh, and I am PLAY some more.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Divinity 2 - Media Blowout

Well, I finally pulled my head up from my screen to take a moment to give you all a post.

As you know, I got a bit lucky and got my copy of Divinity 2 early. Well, thanks to a slower week at work, and some days off, I have been pummeling that disc and playing the hell out of this title.

I am truly addicted.

Anyways, I want to write a bit more on this, and what makes this game work for me as a fun RPG and the type of game I have been wanting since Witcher almost 2 years ago... from my perspective. But, for now, how about some pics and videos instead.

First up, a page of Screenshots over at Xfire. There is no in game screenshot function..but, thanks to Xfires tools, I was able to grab some for you. Hope you enjoy the gallery.

Divinity 2 Gallery

I have posted several videos there also. I just started using Xfire for this purpose, and had forgotten to load the sound, a few are quiet. But, here is an example of one video that quickly shows an idea of how the "puzzles" work in the game. The lead up to this is one hallway in the dungeon I was in was blocked, so I had to go another way. I reach the end of this hall, and find the following puzzle.


Here is another quick combat video. This shows the quick pause and target system, along with my hybrid make up of Ranger, Wizard and Melee.

Hopefully I will have more to show you soon. There is a LOT in this game that we are not even scratching, from your own tower (think of it like housing), basic crafting, demon making and more.

Cheers and Happy 2010!