Thursday, August 30, 2007

1st Strip with the Tablet!

Normally, I'd post this only at Murphy Comics, but I want some feedback from my blogging pals. I'm totally going to be continuing to experiment this this little beauty, so don't be surprised if the look and the feel of the strips changes from week to week.

So far, I'm absolutely loving the luxuries afforded by this tablet. And yes it's supposed to look different. Now that I have the tablet, I can safely use techniques I was too scared to use before for fear of not being able to erase ink and whatnot.

What do you all think?

Fark of the Day

Nothing exciting to post today, as I played the hell out of MP3 and plan to do so tonight as well... so here's a fun FARK for you.

A Fistful of Funny/Gross

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

I've only had 2 hours in MP3, and as a generally non-fan of the FPS genre, I think that's long enough for me to say that this 3rd and final installment in the Metroid Prime saga is not only the best game I've played on my Wii, but also tangible proof that first-person shooters can work on this little console and its gadget... and work beautifully.

Let me preface this early review by saying that even if you're not a fan of FPS games, or the Metroid Prime series, you should at the very least rent this title. In general, I suck at FPS games. Or at least I think I do. I always manage well enough, so maybe I just suck at competitive FPS games... regardless, don't let the First-Person perspective and the gun-for-an-arm thing throw you... Metroid Prime 3, like its predecessors, has just as much in common with Zelda as it does Doom. It's a wonderful blend of the shooter and adventure genres.

I liked the 1st MP a lot, but at one point became so frustrated with the fight against the Omega Pirate, that I traded the game in and never regretted it. I barely ever touched the sequel, as I was too enthralled with WoW at the time. But this one takes the cake. The beautiful way Retro has blended genres, combined with the precision and interactivity of the Wii-mote make for one hell of an awesome adventure, that shouldn't be missed by anyone who owns a Wii and wishes the system had more "real" meaty games.

The controls work nearly flawlessly. At 1st you're tossed into the game using the standard control method, which feels about the same as say, Red Steel or Elebits in its responsiveness. That is to say, it's slow. It's clunky, there's a large bounding box you'll need to navigate before you begin to turn, and you'll wish it was quicker to react to your movements. And it can be. Simply go into the options and set the controls to "Advanced" and be prepared to experience the best console-FPS controls to date. Precision second only to the mouse, but immersion second to none thanks to the wii-mote and nunchuk being used like the actual arms of Samus Aran. It's simply the closest I've felt to being a character in a game, bar none.

The graphics, obviously not on par with the 360 or PS3, do however show just how little other parties are pushing the Wii's abilities. Retro's very familiar with the suped up Gamecube hardware, and it shows. The games runs at an always steady 60fps (or as close as my naked eye can tell) or 30fps. Though most reporters with debuggers say it's 60 constantly and I believe them. The artistry of the landscape is at once familiar from other titles, and then altogether something new. There's a less claustrophobic feel, perhaps thanks to the added horsepower of the Wii, and environments seem much more epic because of the scope.

The music is fittingly electronic, and the sounds are ambient but nothing you haven't heard in the 1st two games. The big addition to the sounds though, is that of voice acting for seemingly every character but Samus (maybe she's related to Link?). And to top that little story-driving aspect off... it's well done. VERY much so. Not like what one might be used to with Capcom's Resident Evil series, or any series for that matter.

The fact that there are other bounty hunters, and military people and that they have personalities that can come through with their voices adds a lot to the overall cinematic feel of the game. There is certainly more focus on the story through scenes, and less focus on obtaining it through scanning objects in this title. Though there's still plenty to be gained from using that scanning visor. All these little things combined, really flesh out the feeling that you're part of a story, and not just a nameless bounty hunter that can become a ball at will.

I'll not ramble on too much more, as it's getting late at work and I've still got work to do. Just know that a non-shooter game person loves the title and recommends it. You won't be sorry if you try it. Unless you hate fun. :)

Cheers, you lot.

PS- Heather I swear I'm working on that MEME you tagged me with. It'll pop up on here eventually.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Wacom Tablet Has Arrived!

I'm not grand artist, but I love doodling, and here for your viewing is my 1st ever Wacom sketch. I call him... "Trollman". He's a beauty, I'd say... mainly because as I sketched him and fussed around with the tablet's abilities, I saw just how much control over detail this thing gives me. This weekend hopefully, will be the 1st Don't Panik strip inked on the tablet.

I love this thing. Oh! And reports on the awesomeness that is Metroid Prime 3 will come tomorrow from work. Click the image to get a better look at this guy.

Mario Strikers Charged and Metroid Prime 3

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday. I forgot to tell you lot that my wife and I's 1st wedding anniversary was this past weekend, and so we took Monday off from work and I touched my PC only once or twice to check my e-mail and whatnot.

Anyway, for my gift the missus bought me Mario Strikers Charged on Thursday and I'm picking up Metroid Prime 3 tonight after work (I love my wife!). Mario Strikers, more than any game I've had on the Wii so far, is thoroughly engrossing. I'm talking addiction nigh on carpel tunnel inducing.

I played it for 2 hours last night before bed, lost 4 out of 12 games, and checked my fair share of cartoon athletes... and I'm sitting here now at work thinking I need to go home and take on Diddy Kong again for that damn Crystal Cup. It's that fun. I haven't even tried the online play yet. It's just a great pick up and get your manic soccer on game. It's by no means a simulation. It's way over the top. There are giant Mario's, farting Warios, Hammer Bros., glowing balls, multi-shots, spike-shells to take out your opponents with... it's totally hopped up on that undeniable charm I like to call: "Nintendo Crack". Go check it out, if you have a Wii.

Prime is tonight, as it just shipped yesterday. Reviews are along the top of the chain so far, with the always Nintendo hateful Gamespot coming in at the "low" end with an 8.5. Then again, maybe it's me who's biased. I friggin' love Nintendo like a good fanboy should, and they rarely do wrong (except that whole N64 and Virtual Boy thing). I've always liked the Metroid Prime series. But number 1 was insanely difficult in latter stages, hence I never completed it out of frustration. Two I never really played as I got knee deep into MMOs and it sort of passed by on my radar. But 3 by all accounts is supposed to be the proof that FPS controls will work on the Wii, and apparently the difficulty has been toned down enough that I shouldn't end up in psychiatric rehab after pounding my head against one of the bosses a dozen or more times.

On the comic strip side of things, my Wacom Tablet has been ordered and it's well on its way to my house right now, should be here today. In all, it's like Christmas at the Murphy residence. If only Pirates would set a release date and Warhammer would let me into its beta, I'd be a fulfilled gamer. :)

My friend code for Mario Strikers will come later, for those who are interested in whooping my ass over the net.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Warhammer Online = WoW without the Suck?

Kevin of The Server is Down recently got some hands on time with Warhammer: Age of Reckoning at GenCon, and his review is glowing while not containing all the hype of Paul Barnett's speeches. As much as I love that guy's personality, I know he's purely in selling mode, and not giving the nitty-gritty. So it's always great to read actual people's impressions from hands-on with the game.

Overall, Kevin's write up, and many of the write-ups from GenCon give me this distinct impression that Warhammer just might be WoW without the "suck". Let me explain.

It's no doubt known by now to my readers that I have a love/hate relationship with WoW. I love the game's art, the music, the combat, the story, the leveling, even the wretchedly imbalanced Battlegrounds. But for all of that, the insistance on Raiding being the overarching feature of the elder game makes me want to puke. Were it not for love of my hunter and the prospect of getting some decent PvP gear I never could afford before, I'd not be back to playing the game right now. The reliance on Raiding, the same type of Raiding that drove out a lot of players from old EQ1, boggles my mind. Everyone, but Blizzard themselves, seems to know that very few people really progress in the raiding game, and far more love leveling content and the casual pace of the Battlegrounds and 5-mans.

But alas, I'm getting off track here. This isn't a post about what's wrong with WoW. That's been done many times and doesn't need to be done by me again. This is a post about WAR, and why it might one-up WoW in my book.

When I first started reading up on WoW, I read of siege battles, of war between the Alliance and the Horde, of lots of fighting and lots of tension, all with a mix of good, healthy, PvE thrown in. I was shocked to find at release no real PvP game, and even more shocked to find that when BGs were introduced they were but "games", and had no real standing in the world. No siege weapons, no capturable graveyards and control points. No real war. Just skirmishes and games of tag between factions.

So Warhammer, from the makers of Dark Age of Camelot comes along and tells me all the things that Blizzard told me... only I know from Mythic's past that they can do it. They can present a world at war and have me believe I'm a part of it. They can make a game that makes the player feel for his comrades and want to defend the realm with them. They were doing it while WoW was still in conceptual stages.

Is it possible then, that when Warhammer hits next year that WoW will forever be off of my radar? Is it possible that in Warhammer I could find the "war" I was looking forward to in Warcraft? I think it is. Even with "scenarios" (like WoW's BGs) you have each of them playing into your Realms status in the ongoing war. There are PvP objectives in every zone. There are capturable capital cities. There's looting your enemy's corpse (without actually taking anything from the other player, huzzah!). There's going to be a real war going on in Warhammer. It's going to be ingrained from rank 1 to 40, and not just be something to do when you're capped at the max rank (level).

There will be raids. There will be dungeons. But primarily, what will matter, will not be how many DKP points you have, but how much you care for your brethren... and how well you kill your enemy, and how often you bathe in their blood.

This excites me, if you couldn't tell. Pirates this Fall. Greenskins next year.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Okay... WTF?

The Cow Says... "Moo-Moo"?

Gotta love what this friggin' world considers news worthy.

Pirates of the Burning Sea - 10,000 Beta Invites Done

Misha of the PotBS community has this tidbit to share yesterday...

"Somewhere I think I promised that I would announce when the last of the 10k invites went out. I sent them out last night. We're not done inviting people by any means but that goal we had of getting 10,000 invites out, we have achieved. FYI."

Thanks again to the PirateSpyglass.

So the major ramp up of the closed beta is complete, a release date should be coming soon... and that means Open Beta can't be far around the corner. Can this game actually be getting close to release?

God, I hope so. I want the NDA to drop so we can talk about it and read about it more from the mouths of all the testers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pirates Release Date... Almost Time For One.

I, if you couldn't tell, have been waiting like crazy for Pirates of the Burning Sea. Rusty, in response to rumor that the release has been pushed back, had this to say...

"I'm saying that I'm not saying until I'm telling you the day that it's going to be released, with no possibility of change."


"Sorry, I'd like to, but until we get the EU distribution nailed down, I'm not talking about dates. On the other hand, I will finish the dev log that discusses what's going on that I promised oh...last week. :-("

So there you go. With any luck we'll know a final date soon. And I can stop biting my nails... or bite them all the harder. Thanks to the PirateSpyglass for this bit of news. Dev trackers are awesome. :)

Back in "That" Game and LotRO Post-Mortem Thoughts

I did resub to WoW. I felt dirty doing it, and tried to cancel in time to not get charged, but ultimately the credit card processing doohickey won and I resigned to try it.

I found out, it's not so bad after over 6 months off. All my old gripes with the game seemed vanished. The Honor system is a LOT less of a grind now, as Arenas are where the real "competitive" PvP is at. I'm fine with that. I'll work towards my awesome Grand Marshal gear and be happy, thanks. :)

I'm nearly 67 already, after one solid night of questing, which in and of itself was refreshing. Being able to solo quest is a godsend. I spent a solid month in LotRO feeling like I was ramming my head into a wall and making a teeny bit of progress per hour. So it was nice to log in and see my quest log filled with doable quests and things to hunt down. That's not to say I didn't have stuff to do in LotRO, it's just that stuff in LotRO required a group that I didn't have and/or couldn't find.

So I'm back in Azeroth at least for now. Still eagerly awaiting Pirates, and thinking about rolling a character in LotRO on my father in law's account (lifetime sub that he doesn't use) and playing with my buddy Keen on his server to see if a group of friends might help me get over some of the frustrations. At least this way I can stay subbed to WoW as a backup. I make a point to never pay for 2 subs at once. I hardly have time for one game lately, much less 2 so why pay for them both?

Anyway, it's times like these I'm glad my FIL is a gamer packrat. He buys tons of stuff, plays it maybe once or twice, and never touches it again. LotRO he got on pre-launch release, played so far to level 10, and hasn't touched it since early July. He's just a collector of games, not much a player.

Good for me, I guess. I get the runoffs. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm Not As Tough As Frodo.

I can't do it alone. And that means, I likely won't do it at all. I'm talking about leveling to 50 in LotRO, and enjoying some Monster Play as a Freep once I get there. I, apparently, am not meant to reach my main goal in this game.

Let me preface this by saying, "I love LotRO." As a game, it's wonderful. The world is intricately detailed. The story is extremely well-written. And many of the game's features are things a lot of MMOs don't have for years after launch. Even Housing is coming later this fall. But with all of the positives, for me, comes one big overwhelming negative.

It's not a solo-friendly game in the later levels. Not really at all.

I have 35 quests in my log right now. Some of which, after last night, are reputation grind quests which don't give XP, but at least they're goals to reach for. Out of the 35 quests, there are I believe 9 which are marked solo. Out of those 9, I am able to complete 6 by my self. The other 3 are very inappropriately marked. 1 of the 3 is gray con to me now, and I still have trouble solo-ing it. If I want to keep dying until I get lucky, I might be able to complete it and get the 500 out of 73,000 xp I need to reach level 38.

What I'm saying, is that the higher you level in LotRO, and the farther you travel from home, the more important it becomes to have a group. This is all well and good for a good number of players out there. But not me. I am AFK a lot. I often play in 20 minute spurts. I also, above all else, prefer to solo my PvE, and group mainly for dungeons and of course PvP. LotRO then, is a great game for me until the mid 30s, but not so much thereafter.

The Evendim patch, and now Book 10 have helped a bit, but I still have this weighing feeling that I'm a black guy at a clan rally. That soloers need not apply. Perhaps if I had more friends and a more active Kinship on my server I'd be fine. Then I'd be able to complete the masses of group quests I have. But that's simply not the case. And so, I feel like my time in Middle-earth is up for now.

I'll be losing my Founder's status and all, but ultimately... and you've no idea how much this pains me to say, World of Warcraft is still the best game on the market for a player like me. Good god, I almost vomited.

I swore back in February when I left WoW to focus on LotRO, that I'd probably never return to WoW. I swore that LotRO was the game for me for a good long while. But ultimately, I decided not to go lifetime membership, and eventually I discovered that there's no real place in Middle-earth for Begud Firestone of the Lonely Mountain. Not yet, anyway. Maybe one day, I'll find it more appealing. I've no doubt I'll return in a fit of boredom like I so often do with EQ2. But I'm sad to say that my main stay in LotRO is done.

I got my money's worth. I played the heck out of the game since release. But now, I'm just left with the feeling that I should have let myself play more in Beta, so I could have seen how rough around the edges the mid-high level game really is. Because I would have saved my money until later on, when I wouldn't have felt like I needed a break after 5 months of playing.

Good luck with the Ring, Frodo. I'll be camping in Evendim with my Ranger homies for a few months at least. If you need anything, just send me a mail with some COD for my services.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Book 10 Is UP

The servers for LotRO are back up, and the patch is ready to be played.

It looks like tonight and the next few days will determine if I stay in Middle-earth or head back to WoW until Pirates hits the shelves.

I'm not really sure which I'm rooting for. WoW still has 4 solid levels left for me, that at my pace could take awhile, followed by some PvP to get some of the Honor Rewards I was never able to before.

But LotRO has my heart. I love that world. The solo-ability of the game just went so far down hill that I lost the will to log on. I hope the new Public Dungeons and Reputation system are enough to get me to 50 where I can dig into Monster Play. Because that's all I really want to do...

Wish me luck.

5 Mythos Beta Keys To Give Away!

Many of us Mythos testers were recently given 5 beta keys to give away to friends and family and whatnot. And since my local buddies already have their keys, I've got nothing to do with the 5 Flagship gave me. So who wants em?

All you have to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address and I'll send it your way. The 1st five to do so get the keys. Use the format of "anyguy at someplace dot com" to avoid spam.

Cheers folks. More posting to come later.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I got nothin...

Nuff said. Here's a few old comic strips to tide you over. Click the thumbs to enlarge. You can also find these over at Don't Panik, which is soon to be made over. I'm thinking I'll combine my blog here with the new comic site. As much as I like the Ramblings of a Bildo, I like the tag "Don't Panik!" more. Cheers, folks. Hope you enjoy these.

PS: My hair has changed 3 times in these strips. I like the 3rd version best, as it matches me in real life these days. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Selling Beta Keys: Addendum

I made a post about the selling of beta keys over on the VN boards last night, the Warhammer section, because I know Richard Duffek (community coordinator for WAR) hangs out there from time to time.

Sure enough my post elicited a couple of responses. I can't link the thread right now, because I'm at work and can't get to the VN boards, but the responses in a nutshell where this...
"We know about, and we're all over it. Selling the keys and buing them is against the NDA, and we ban those keys that we can have enough evidence on and we also are wary of when an account with a key starts suddenly appearing on a different IP adress everyday, or when the IP address changes too frequently to be someone going from place to place. We investigate situations like these and we deal with them as swiftly as possible."
Basically, something like that. So it appears my own "tattling" was in vain, because they're likely already all over the people I've reported. But I'm not going to stop looking for more jerks to rain on. Of course my post has a few lovely people calling me a brown-noser, but what kind of gaming forum would it be without a few flamers.

Truth is, I've been in nearly a dozen betas since I began getting really passionate about MMOs. I love the testing process. I often enjoy the beta of a game more than I enjoy the release version, because the process and fun of being part of the development process is that much more engaging.

There are games I've beta tested, hated, but kept testing just to do my part. So it bugs the ever-loving crap out of me when I see people abusing the privilege of beta testing for their own profit. It fries my egg. It jubilees my cherry. It percolates my coffee.

I also know what it's like to not get selected to be part of something you so desperately desire to be a part of. I auditioned for Family Matters several times, but kept getting turned away because I was "too black" (I kid, I kid). My point is, there are some really enthusiastic people out there who would love to be a part of making Warhammer, or any game for that matter that's in beta, and yet they sit on the sidelines waiting for an invite while these dorks get in.

I know there are more important things to worry about. I have a full enough plate as it is myself in real life. But I'm passionate about games the same way I'm passionate about any art form. I hate to see this crap, and so I'm going to try to do something about it.

Cheers, folks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Selling Beta Keys = Dumbasses

Real Poor Dot Com

With the recent announcement from Richard Duffek about how they want to crack down on the breaking of the NDA and people selling accounts for real life money, I decided today to go looking for dumbasses that get the privilege of being a beta tester for WAR and instead try to make a quick buck by selling their key.

I've taken a liking to reporting people I find at the above-mentioned site (horrible place where characters are bought and sold more often than ebay, though apparently it has its fair share of scammers too). When I find one, I send an e-mail to the beta center with a corresponding link.

I'm not much for "tattling", but when there's a game, any game, that people are dying to be a part of the testing process for, and there are jerks like these people getting keys and selling them, I feel it's my duty as a geek to report them and hope they get banned.

Join me in the cause, won't you? Who knows, maybe we'll even get to take the offenders' place in the beta. One can dream.

I want to tell you something!

But I can't. I've been playing a lot of one of my mystery betas lately. A lot more than I expected I would. It's safe to say I'm loving the game, for a multitude of reasons. It's so good, I almost don't care that it's beta and nothing I do in it will be there in the next few months. I often can't find bugs. It's likely caused by the fact that I'm having too much fun playing, which to me is a good sign that the game is almost ready to go.

It was this way for me with LotRO, too. I just wished I would have played into the higher levels with that one, to make sure I wouldn't hit the wall I have in it. So guess what I'm doing in this beta? Just that. I'm playing a character I normally don't think I would, because the last thing I want to do is see it all with the one I do plan to play on release. But oddly, I'm loving this character. I thought I'd hate it. But I'm starting to think you can't really go wrong with your choice of character in this game.

Ugh... this is all propbably very vague to you guys, since I can't go into specifics or name the game even. But I will be divulging more info as soon as I am allowed. Let's just put it this way. It has me putting down real, released versions of games, just for the chance to play the beta. That's a good sign, if you ask me.

More posting to come later, if something strikes me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

LotRO Book 10: Coming August 20th

In one week's time, we'll see if Book 10 is enough to keep me going on LotRO. I haven't played in 2 weeks now, in an effort to make sure I don't grow to hate the game. Level 35+ for a solo-preferred quester is a nightmare in LotRO. No 2 ways about it. But Book 10 is supposed to introduce some more quests for levels 38+, and a whole new reputation quest system to help solo-ers get some gear and have a reason to grind those deeds aside from the teensy tiny bits of upgrades that are the traits.

I guess I'll log into LotRO for the 1st time in a while tonight, and see if I still get frustrated trying to quest in Evendim. I hope not. I want to get to 50 for the eventual Moria expansion. :(

Maybe it's possible I just am starting to dislike the Champion and need to try an alt, but I really don't want to stop LotRO so far in... lots of time invested in the game from late Alpha tests all the way up until now. Our Kinship, the Vault staff one, is small and so sporadic in our playtimes that we're hardly ever on together. Is it just that I need a more standard playgroup to quest with, in order to get all these group quests done? Because I know there's more to this game than leveling, but I can't seem to have fun unless I'm making progression towards a goal, and my only goal is to keep seeing new quests and new places. I'm not into crafting, and I'm too low for Monster Play yet.

Save me Frodo!

Guild Wars: Nightfall... should I?

Good Monday to you all. I trust your weekends were as fun and relaxing as my own. Had some friends over on Saturday, played some EQ2 and betas on Sunday, and watched Hot Fuzz (HILARIOUS!). In all it was a good weekend.

Of note though, and I come to you all for advice, is that I tried to play Guild Wars: Prophecies once more. When I say tried, I mean that I've had the original campaign now for over a year, and never once played a character past level 11. I was, when I originally got the game, still addicted to WoW. And each time I've tried playing it through since I've been too busy with some other game, most recently LotRO. I just haven't had the desire to actually ever see it through to the end.

But now, in my waiting for Pirates of the Burning Sea, I'm playing EQ2 but still find myself wanting something else aside from Norrath to game with. No MMOs out there right now really excite me enough to put the time in playing them just to have it negated by PotBS when it hits. But Guild Wars is always free. It's always there and waiting to be played. So what am I waiting for?

Well, I don't like Prophecies that much. I've played bits of Nightfall from the 10 day trial that was given to existing GW players, and I enjoyed it a great deal more. It seemed much more open to solo-play, and in general like the developers had done a lot of things better with that campaign than they had with Prophecies: their 1st go-round.

But is it really worth it? It's still $50 in most stores, and I'm worried it'll just get shelved along with Prophecies due to lack of true interest. I want to enjoy it, but I'm not sure I will. Is it solo-friendly? Do the Heroes matter more than the annoying minions? Because I want to like it. I want to get into it and get some stuff to carry over to Guild Wars 2 eventually, and pick up Eye of the North and enjoy that this winter as well. But I've yet to really get hooked by Guild Wars: Prophecies... is Nightfall all that different?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Saw this Coming: Conan Delayed


Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures has been delayed until march 25, 2008. Really, in the MMO genre, this isn't a shocker. Especially after E3 previews were less than ecstatic this year. Not bad, just probably not what Funcom wanted to hear. Or maybe the beta tests are revealing a lot of problems with the server architecture. Or maybe, they just wanted that extra time to polish the game, as is probably the wisest idea. Or maybe it's all about the 360 version and making sure the two coincide. I can't read the link and find out the press-speak Funcom is using, so if one of my readers would enlighten me, that'd be great. I'm stuck at work and it's filtering Funcom's site out.

Anyway, I'm just actually kind of glad it's delayed. This fall already there are at least 3 online games I'm dying for, Conan was the 4th: PotBS, Gods & Heroes, and Hellgate (though the last is offline as well). On top of those, there are a handful of must haves coming out (finally) for the Wii, like Super Smash Brothers: Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy, even MySims.

So Conan getting pushed back to the end of Q1 next year is a little aggravating, but more so it's relieving. Now my only worry about Conan's appeal to me is how it will ultimately stack up against a certain other MMO coming out in Q1 2008... Warhammer.

But who cares, that's next year. Give me my pirates already.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Keen and Graev's Podcast: Episode 1!

Alright, I lied. I really didn't have anything good to write about today. I've been obsessed with site design and not gaming too much this week, and there's not much to talk about that hasn't been said already. I wish the NDA would drop on one of the betas... that'd at least give me one or two posts of material.

Still, the exercise of this blog is to write something every day, so I shall forge on. Forgive me if it gets stale now and again between hot topics. :)

Anyway, stale as I am right now, it's as good a time as any to pimp my pals' new podcast. Go give a listen to these two brothers' adventures in gaming, or as I like to call them: The Geek Chronicles.


MySQL and PHP Databases...

Anyone know anything about them and want to give me a tutorial on how to integrate one into Dreamweaver so I can have a database for Don't Panik? Because, while I'm learning plenty about Dreamweaver and CSS as the time flies by, databases are just a bit out of my league. Drop me a comment if you've any leads on how I can get started.

Muchas gracias, peoples. Regular post to come later, probably. Not sure what to write on just yet.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Anticipation of Pirating Reaching a Fever-pitch

I'm playing and thoroughly enjoying my time with Golden Spoon in Everquest 2. I'm level 20, I'm a level 12 craftsman even. But then, tell me why I can't stop thinking about Pirates of the Burning Sea?

Keen brought up a good point about today's modern fantasy MMO. It's been done to death. Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this, and the post was more about Keen's own burnout on the typical EQ-like MMO, than it was about the statement that most of us vets have known for a while now.

But I mention it because I think it's the reason I can't stop thinking about PotBS.

For once, outside of EvE Online and maybe a small handful of others, comes an MMORPG that isn't just a new take on the old games.

There's player-created (by this I mean 3D modeled) ships, player-created flags and sails. There's a robust character creation system that supposedly rivals City of Heroes' with a Piratey twist. There's the entire Carribean along with 80(!) ports to visit and get drunk at (or so I hope, it's not a pirate game if I can't drink rum). There are supposedly 1,000+ missions for each nation, 4,000 in total. They run the gamut from the mystical to the political, to the "I-just-lost-my-leg-and-now-walk-on-a-piece-of-wood".

Then there's the player-run economy. This isn't player-run like most games would sell you. Everything, and I mean everything, of any real value will come from you and your fellow players. But apparently, you won't be sitting in front of your PC watching a little action bar go by, clicking and repeating ad nauseum. You'll have access to a total of ten plots of land to make your own work-stations. You don't do the work, you're the manager. What kind of captain would you be, if you were doing all the grunt stuff? Materials and whatnot are supposed to gather in realtime, more like an RTS game than an MMO. And from these goods you can craft things as small as sabres for your avatar, or as large as frigates for your entire crew.

Last, but not least, there's the PvP. I can't do this one justice in my words. The guys at the site describe it the best. Go read some of the devlogs to get familiar with it all. In short, it's open PvP, but not without protection. As a player, you'll never have to PvP another player, but the world and its ports will forever be changing hands. Only 12 or 16 out of the 80 can be in contention at one time. So no worries if you're more of a PvE type. You'll always have at least 64 ports to play around in, run your economy, and do missions from.

Oh and one more thing... you're the Captain of your own ship, your own crew. Your own destiny. This ain't no amusement park. This is the Caribbean. And it's ripe for the picking.

I sure hope we get a release date soon, because my sea legs are getting restless.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

New Don't Panik Layout

I'm in the process of slowly designing a full fledged site for Don't Panik to go along with our new domain name over there. Mainly, because it gives me a good excuse to play with Dreamweaver and get more familiar with CSS and all that good stuff. You guys want to give me your input?

Melmoth and Hollow

A blogger stumbled upon via Keen and Graev's site, Melmoth has written a very good post about the rapid growth and possible decline of MMOs. If they stay on the WoW path of loot/rinse/repeat, he may be right. So, if you're one into discussion and prediction and in general coherent though... go read it. It's beckoning. Click the linke below.

He's been added to the list. Good stuff, Melmoth. Keep it up, friend.

Expansions = Level Cap Raise ?

This is the topic of the week over on the LotRO Vault, but being as many of my fellow bloggers might not be perusing the boards there, I wanted to repost it here to get your thoughts.

The recent WoW expansion news is what triggered this question, so fire away. Not just as it pertains to Middle-earth and LotRO, but all MMOs in general. Here's the topic in full...


I've been thinking a lot about something lately. Okay, so that's alittle vague. What I mean is I've been thinking a lot about using alevel cap rise as a way to keep your players paying. Personally, Ithink this is a cop-out, a bunk idea that many companies will turn towhen they can't think of a better way to keep people interested.

It's not always a bad idea, I don't mean that either. But it seems alot of games will toss an extra ten levels onto the game just to giveplayers a false sense of progression. Sometimes it may be called for.I see why it was done in the Outlands, in order to level the playingfield. But I'm not sure why it's being done twice. I'm not sure whyit's being done a 3rd time in Everquest 2, and why it seems like thebest way to go for developers when creating an expansion pack.Certainly simply raising the level cap is not the only way to retainplayers... is it?

I expect that our level cap in Middle-earth will rise, likely as we workout way east and south. We can't expect to take on the Dark Lord'svilest armies at the same strength we are able to take on the rabbletossed out into Eriador can we? But when will a level cap happen? Whenwill it be called for? When will it not seem like just a ploy to keepus playing?

So this week's topic, here she is: When is it okay to raise the levelcap, and when is it not okay?

Monday, August 6, 2007

I... like... crafting?

What the hell?!

I've never liked crafting. Never. To me it's never been as fun as going out and slaying monsters, questing, and in general being an adventuring type. On top of that, crafting always seemed pointless when compared to the items you can get simply by questing and exploring. But not in EQ2... not at all.

I realize I'm late to the party. I realize that many of my fellow bloggers have known about the steadily increasing goodness that is EQ2 for months or years now. So I ask them to forgive me. Forgive my addiction to lesser fantasy MMOs. Forgive me for not seeing the light. EQ2 is king among the Fantasy MMOs available right now. This much, I know decree as fact. All it took was to finally be ready to really play it and to see that they've managed to make the one thing most MMOs can't convince me is fun... just that.

I'm not sure I'm in for the long haul or not though. Despite how much fun I'm having with it, I'm very eagerly awaiting the release of Pirates of the Burning Sea this fall and Warhammer Online early in 2008. So, for my attention, EQ2 has some stiff competition. But one thing's for certain now. If the afforementioned games coming out this fall and winter end up sucking, it's not WoW I'll be going back to, or even LotRO. I've been bitten by the Norrathian bug. It'll be there I retreat to if all else fails.

I only wish I would have found out how fun the game's become over its 2+ years a little sooner.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Fun and Expensive Weekend

I went to the Dublin Ohio Irish Festival this weekend. Much fun. Bands, Ren-Faire folk, lots of beer, lots of gear, lots of me fellow Micks. Wife and I spent way more money than we meant to, but it was worth it. I got myself a very nice handmade tweed newsboy hat and a messenger bag out of the deal.

Black 47, Seven Nations, The Prodigals, and Flogging Molly were all there. We got frickin' tired as all get out around 6:30 or so, so we missed the whole point we went down there: the bands. Teaches us to go so early in 85 degree weather, drinking pints like they were water.

But 'tis okay. I've seen them before, and I'll see them next time.

Sunday came and I played the hell out of Everquest 2. Level 19 already, and even a 12 in tradeskilling. I never like crafting, but this system's starting to grow on me. More on that Monday.

In the vein of Darren from TCSG...

-B Out

(Yeah, that doesn't work for me too well. You can keep it, Darren.)

Friday, August 3, 2007

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King - Official Now

Yep, they just announced it at Blizzcon. The German spoilers are right.

- Northrend
- 10 new levels
- New profession: Inscription
- Siege Weapons and whatnot in PvP
- 1 (yes just 1) Hero Class: The Deathknight

In short? It's the Freezing Jihad, like Tobold guessed months ago. By this, I mean it's almost the same pedigree as TBC, and unless all the games I'm looking forward to suck, I won't be in line for this one on release day. Especially without new content for the lower levels. No thanks.

Color me disappointed, but Blizzard's just playing it safe. Nothing new there.

It's Settled, I'm a Necromancer.

Yay for finally picking a main to forge onward with!

It's odd. I almost always gravitate towards melee classes in MMOs. But for some reason none of them really interested me. My second favorite class in most games is any with a pet. I tried a pure caster in the Warlock, but I just wasn't liking it. They're truly "glass-cannons". I like to be able to take a hit or two, or at least divert some attention somehow from me... hence the Necromancer.

My spider-buddy does an ample job of keeping the enemies' eyes off of me, while I stand back and pound away with DOTs and whatnot. I like it. Hit level 14 with the little Ratonga last night and got Seething Rot - Master II, so things drop even faster for me now. The damage output isn't on par with the Warlock, but it's close enough for me not to care. I still feel like I'm killing swiftly enough.

My friend, the one who tried to get me started in EQ2 a month or so ago, came back into the game as well, and mentored down from 22 to help me along. It's a blast. He's getting 90% less experience, but he's able to do some quests he never did, and I'm catching up to him at an alarming rate. I'm nearly 15 and I went from 13 to there in just about an hour of questing with him.

It's my first experience with any form of mentoring system, and I have to say... why the hell doesn't every game do it? I've seen it in CoH/V and EQ2, but nowhere else so far. I know for a fact that if they'd have allowed it in WoW I'd still be playing with some of my real life friends who picked up on the game late there. At the point they started playing in Azeroth, I'd leveled so many characters up, I wasn't about to do it againg. But to take my level 60 or whatever and scale him down to go help my friends, I would have killed for that. It would have been far more fun than just powering them through the Deadmines or Stockades again. I'd actually be able to quest with them, but still feel a bit more powerful than I was when I was at that level.

So why don't more games have a mentoring system? What is so bad about it?

Anyway, I'm having a riot in EQ2 for now. But I'm hoping still that we get a release date for PotBS this weekend out of SOE's FanFaire. I'm really itching to let my inner Captain loose.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

I'm A Necromancer... no wait, a Warlock! No wait...

The same thing that always plagues me when I'm subbed to Everquest 2 is at it again. I can't decide on a class to stick with and play exclusively. Maybe that's just it. Maybe I don't have to. Maybe, as seems so apparent by the constant load of low level players in Darklight Woods, people love alting in EQ2 and the game is trying to tell me to emrace it as well?

Could this be?

Bah, regardless of this conundrum. I had fun last night for a couple of hours' break from homework playing my Warlock and my Necromancer. The Necro's 13 and the meatshield that is his spider is really helpful for keep me alive. Meanwhile the Warlock is super squishy, but deals such potent damage that I'm sure he'll have no real problems soloing either, unless I charge into a fray of mobs of course.

I'm liking it. I liked it last time I subbed. I liked it the time before that. But maybe this time I'll actually buy a second consecutive month. That is, of course, unless I'm a Pirate by the time month two comes along. Then we may have a problem.

Oh, and a shout-out (hahah, I'm so hip) to my new guild, Golden Spoon, I just met them last night, but thus far they're very friendly, helpful, and chatty. I like it!

More from Neriak as the days go on.

Oh, and one last thing: I turned moderation on for my comments, thanks to a few spam posts. So if you don't see a post immediately, fret not. I'll get to approving it when I can next log in and check.

Oh, and one more last thing... what does everyone think of Smedley's new game announcement coming tomorrow from SOE, and of the next WoW expansion rumors? Me? I'm betting we'll be disappointed on both fronts, but I hope I'm wrong.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Once More Into Neriak

I've decided it's time I took at least a couple of weeks' break from LotRO. I found myself getting too frustrated by the higher levels' focus on fellowship content (I can't help that I prefer to solo-quest most nights), and before I absolutely started to hate the game I decided it was time to step away and take a breather. Book 10's Update is due out this month, with a bunch of cool new additions including Turbine's take on the Reputation Grind. Hopefully the repeatable quests for rep and rewards will help me slog through the high 30s and into the level cap. Until then, I'm off to Neriak once more.

I had to redownload EQ2 last night, as it's much faster than installing from my old 10-disc set. Then came patching up to the most current client... 3 hours later it was done. And I was off to bed.

So reports from my 1st night back will come tomorrow or the day after. I feel like now that I'm truly ready for a break from LotRO I should end up enjoying EQ2 more. We shall see. I've yet to decide if I'll forge onward with a Warlock, a Necromancer, or a more "Me" type class like a Berserker, Assassin, or a Brigand. Melee's up my alley, but it might be nice to try a caster for real.

Basically, I'm trying to find something to keep me from playing the betas too much. They're REALLY good. I can't wait to shout to the interweb just how fun I find them. They remind me when I 1st started beta testing LotRO, just how addictive the gameplay is for both titles. I hope they end up as polished as LotRO was at launch, because if they do they'll likely have successes on their hands.

I just don't want to spend too much time leveling up my characters in them because it's beta. They'll just be deleted anyway. I purposefully made characters I think I won't play in release, and try to focus on bug-reporting and system testing... but dammit, they're too good.

So wish me luck in Neriak tonight. Cross your fingers for me that it sticks, at least for a few weeks.

Iron William Rackham

That be my pirate name, lads and lasses. Learn it and don't misplace it.

My pirate name is:

Iron William Rackham

lat A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Can you tell I'm getting psyched for PotBS?