Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A New Work Begins...

I'm still working on those screenshots of HG:L to show you. I'm likely going to have to resize them, as even though they're just 3MB JPEGs Blogger doesn't seem to want to post them. But that's not why I'm posting.

I've been tinkering a lot with a new story idea, one that has similarities to the old manuscript I've been posting bits of in that they're both fantasy, and both deal with a young boy. This one's premise though, seems more solid... less iffy, if that is at all possible in a work of fantasy. It's more modernly set, and strays from typical conventions of the genre. I'm hoping to forge on with this as I rework the more traditional piece, and I was hoping a few of my readers wouldn't mind imparting their thoughts on this short 750 word Prologue.

It's fresh, as in I just hammered it out from an outline I wrote moments ago. So have at it.


The jet black cat played with its catch for a while after it stopped wriggling, as those of feline nature often do. It took delight in the hunt, the chase across the yard and in to bushes, and so too it took delight in the chipmunk’s final moments. This is not something to be taken aback by; it is just the nature of a beast and its prey. The cat was proud, and happy, as it should have been after such hard work. Once the little thing was caput, the cat aimed to share its success with its loving housekeepers. Not as food mind you, but to at least show them how diligent it had been in ridding their yard of such a pest.

Chipmunk grasped firmly in its jaw, the cat sauntered like an aged lion to where a boy sat playing cheerfully in the grass, toys strewn about him haphazardly. He was barely old enough to walk, with bright green eyes and curling orange locks lit up his face. The cat, though it owed more to the boy’s parents, took a certain liking to the littlest of the family. It knew the boy would find the kill satisfactory. The child was playing with some dandelions he had plucked from the lawn when the cat ceremoniously dropped the body of the chipmunk in his lap. The feline sat tall in the grass before the toddler, slowly wagging its tail as its friend examined the prize.

Dandelions still clutched tightly in his right hand, the boy picked up the dead creature in his left hand. He was not frightened as one might think a small child would be of such a thing. Rather, he was quite enthralled by the tiny brown-haired thing which he held. The boy’s mother was on the deck of their house, not ten feet from where he played. He knew that she would likely disapprove of their pet’s present to him, so he shifted to keep his back from her.

The child stared carefully at the chipmunk. His eyes traced the claw marks along its body, from tail clear to the base of the neck. He was not scared, but he still disliked seeing the animal dead in his hand. He much preferred to see animals like his cat, alive and happy. He focused hard on the numerous cuts and bite marks on the little rodent. Still holding the dandelions in his hand, he laid his index finger on largest of gashes and closed his eyes. Meanwhile the cat looked on. It saw the yellow petals in the boy’s hand begin to wilt and turn white. It saw the grass beneath the boy turn yellow and dry all around them. It watched as the cuts along the chipmunk’s body closed and the blood that stained its fur disappeared. The cat’s eyes grew wide, even for a cat, as the chest of its one dead prey began to rise with breath once more.

The chipmunk, just as shocked as its former killer, bounded out of the boy’s hand and onto a toy truck nearby. The boy opened his eyes and smiled at the tiny creature as it looked up at him. The rodent looked to the cat, whose eyes were still fixed firmly on the child, and then with a dart it was off across the lawn and back to its hole nestled safely under a bush. The seeds of the now dead dandelions blew away, and the boy watched as they were carried off by the wind.

“Colin! It’s time to go inside. Come on to mommy,” the boy’s mother beckoned from the porch, oblivious to what had just happened. Colin picked up what toys he could manage and slowly worked his unsure steps towards his loving parent.

The cat sat still, staring at the boy as he plodded up the few stairs of the wooden deck to the house. The mother called for it too, “Come on, Luna. Don’t want to lock you out.” She shook a bag of dry cat food, and Luna wondered if she realized how demeaning that was to her, what with her meal having just been taken away from her by a babe. It would be until supper was fed before the feline saw in her reflection a gray streak along the bridge of her nose that had not been there before. She would not be pleased. Colin was however, and he watched through the sliding glass door of his house, as across his back yard a chipmunk sat alive and happy, when just moments before it was dead and without feeling. It made him cheerful to know that he had done that. What a shame it is we seldom remember things from such a young age.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trick or Treat!

I want a treat, dammit. And I want it to be Hellgate... oh, what's this? A day early I can play, you say? Treat it is!

Servers opened around 6pm EST for beta participants, giving us time to reserve names, and even get started building our characters. Needless to say, I didn't come out of my office the rest of the night except for a Mountain Dew and some food. I managed to get way past the spot I got to in the beta, and I have to say... I'm really not quite getting why people say there's a lack of tilesets in this game. It's all dark, it's all bleak and urban... but it's hardly the same thing over and over. I'll take some screens of different areas later. But needless to say by the time I got to Picadilly Circus, into a Hellrift, and then into Hell itself... yeah, I was impressed with the scope. The game's no Crysis, but I'll be damned (pun intended) if it doesn't look pretty.

For now, take some solace in these screens of my level 11 Engineer... aptly named Bildo... or not. Nevermind, the screens won't post properly. Will try to get some tomorrow (31st still), maybe even video if I can swing it.


Here I sit, tired and undone...

Wishing I was home, playing Hellgate: London.

*beatnick snaps abound*


The Lasting Impression of Videogames

Over on, there’s a post mentioning how someone is making a call out to videogame enthusiasts to share with her how and why videogames are important to them. She has friends who are into gaming, but by and large she thinks they are a waste of time, and she honestly wants to know why we lot love them so much and spend so much time with them, talking about them, reading about them, and of course playing them. Here then, is my personal reasoning.

Videogames, and this is a heavily contended debate these days, are art. Maybe not in a traditional sense, like a book or painting, but certainly in the same breadth of scope as a film. There are producers, directors, writers, tech people, even actors in some cases. There are set designers (artists), wardrobe people (character artists), and so and so forth. All of these parts come together to make one wholly envisioned piece of electronic entertainment… just like a movie. We’ve even had our own Ctizen Kane in the form of a boy named Link saving the world with a horse and an ocarina. Like silent films to talkies to big budget digitally animated adventures, games have grown in terms of execution at an alarming rate.

But all of this is beside the point. In my book, what makes a game art is the fact that it shares one overarching characteristic with a book, an album, a painting, or a film: the mark it leaves on a person. Really now, I’m not being cryptic. Think about it. Just as we have favorite movies, or scenes, favorite books, favorite paintings… we have favorite games. There are games, just like movies, that make heavy impressions on our memories. I can still remember the first time I ever held a Nintendo controller.

I was five. It was in my neighbor’s parents’ bed room. My sister and her friend we playing Super Mario Bros. They let me try. I closed my eyes, hammered the A button, and ran to the right. I nearly finished the level by a shear stroke of luck. The next time I kept my eyes open. I wasn’t scared of it anymore. I was enthralled. Over my childhood, I played hundreds of games on everything from the NES to the Dreamcast as a teenager (yes, I’m young). Across those many systems there are dozens of gaming experiences I remember fondly. Playing my brother for an entire Saturday in NBA Jam on our SNES. Spending an entire Christmas vacation at my Dad’s holed up in the bedroom, playing Breath of Fire and Clayfighter.

I remember my first real RPG on an old Compaq Presario: Ultima VII – The Black gate. I remember how I had an entire virtual world at my disposal. I could be evil or good, I could rob from people in the night as they slept. I could sail the seas. I could lead my own life as a fantastic hero. In the Ocarina of Time, played over the course of 2 months stuck at home with a torn ACL as a high school freshman, I can still remember how great it felt to defeat Ganondorf and save Zelda. It felt so vindicating, to finally beat a game that has stumped me a dozen times over with its puzzles.

Those moments, just like a scene from Star Wars or When Harry Met Sally for a movie buff (I am one of those too), are ingrained forever in my schema. They make up a small part of my persona, just as any experience does. And just like a film, a book, a painting… I won’t forget them. It’s not that they’re important. Really, it’s not. Like any form of entertainment, we could all do without them. But the memories they shape, especially those rare times when my brother and I weren’t fighting, or when my Dad picked up a controller to try playing football on the Dreamcast… those memories wouldn’t exist without games. I’m repeating myself a lot I know, but like a good movie the games I’ve played have attributed to a lot of my fondest family memories. Is that weird? I’m sure I’m not alone. That’s why games are important to me. That’s why they matter.

They are art. They are entertainment. But most importantly, they’re a big part of my life. They don’t define me, by any sense of the word, but I can’t escape the feeling that I’d be a different person without having spent so much time lingering on them. Not better or worse… just different. And being that I like who I am… I wouldn’t change my love of games for the world.

Thanks Jeebus my wife’s a closet gamer. That makes the love affair with Mario easier.


Monday, October 29, 2007

WoW Test Realm: Battleground Dailies Given a Boost

So I was taking a gander at MMO-Champion the other day, when I noticed a new development on the WoW test server. Battleground Daily Quests are now giving about 4,000 honor per completion. I thought the 2,000 given out previously was a huge number, but this... it seems almost ridiculous.

I'm not going to complain, so long as gear costs don't increase exponentially because of it. Because with the possibility of getting an easy 4,000 honor a day comes the very sudden realization that my hunter might actually get a full set of armor for the first time in his 3 years of Azerothian life.

This past Friday night I worked my way up and over the 27,000 honor requirement needed to get my crossbow, and it was rough. I've grinded over 100 Alterac Valley matches over the past few weeks. The tedium was setting in. I was worried if I ever would get all the pieces of S1 gear like I wanted simply because I knew I was getting swiftly bored of grinding honor just like I used to grind Strat and Scholo. I don't dig constant repetition of content. I can handle repetitive gameplay, as long as the way it's fed to me comes in many different flavors and shapes and all that. But logging into WoW with this lust for Honor and spending 1-2 hours at a time in AV, losing more matches than we win... it gets old and I need to take a break from it.

These daily quests basically ensure, regardless of the fact that you need to win, that I can likely get the honor needed without "grinding" so much. One wonders how many raiders will cry out over this. First the Arena folks get "easy" gear (anyone who plays arenas knows just how much skill a good group can have), and now BG tools like me will get gear on par with Tier 5 for less "work" than it took them. I'm sorry, but I don't want to have to "work" for my rewards in games.

What I mean by this isn't that I want them to be free. I want to have to DO something to get them. I just don't want the investment needed to obtain a goal to become all about the work needed and not about the fun. It's the principle of leveling your 1st or even 2nd character. It's fun, but over time, on multiple characters... it can become like "work". As in, NOT fun. Seems to me like Blizzard's just trying to give everyone a piece of the fun. If Raiding is "work" for someone, maybe that someone should try to find the fun again.

Looking forward to my EZ-Epics. :)

EDIT: Too good to be true. The 4,000 is off by a factor of 10 says Drysc. Should be 400. The source?

Test Forums Thread

Bummer. 400 is about the equivalent of a win in AV, so it's certainly not a bad bonus. But it's a big drop from the overly hopeful 4,000 or even the earlier 2,000. Oh well, se la vi.

New Power Supply = Smooth and Zelda DS is fantastic.

So Saturday morning I decided to take a trip out to find myself a pwer supply to replace my aging one. I had called the guys at CompUSA and one of their people told me to bring in the tower and we'd try out PSUs until we found one that fit the odd Dell brackets that keep so many people from replacing parts in their Dells.

I get there, lug my tower into the store in the rain... and the douche-bag that was working the tech counter tells me that whoever told me we could find a PSU to replace mine was wrong, that you can't replace the PSU in a Dell. He was full of crap, even told me he didn't know much about PSUs (he didn't even know what I was talking about when I used this acronym), but he was certain that it wouldn't work.

I left the store pissed and went to Best Buy. I knoew Best Buy overcharges for their parts. But I was determined to prove the dork at CompUSA wrong. I made sure I could bring back the PSU if it didn't work, picked up a Dynex 400w ATX model, and was out the door. Once home, in a matter of about 15 minutes I had the thing hooked up, and my PC running like before, but without the lack of power. the Radeon x1650xt doesn't chug, my frame rates stay stable at 60 frames, and my iPod doesn't fudge with my system at all.

Yeah, CompUSA employees are morons in my area. Of that I'm certain. At least this one was. The guy who told me to bring it in was spot on. But the Tech Support guy, the guy whose job it is to fix things and solve tech problems... knows only the smell of his own sphincter with his head so far up his arse.

Now the question is this... do I keep the 75 dollar PSU (overpriced by about 20-30 bucks) or return it and order one off of Newegg for a more modest cost? I could probably even get a 500w one which would keep my PSU up to speed longer for 20 bucks less. But I almost don't want to go to the hassle now that I have one working and everything's peachy-keen. What do you guys think?

Thanks for all the advice over the weekend, really appreciate it. Besides PC fixing, I spent a lot of time playing Zelda on the DS and if anyone has a DS or a kid with one but you do not have this game, smack yourself on the face and run to the store. It's the first Zelda since Ocarina of Time to try something really unique and it's probably a better game than even Twilight Princess because of it. Must have for sure.

Lastly, today or tomorrow Hellgate's online servers should open up in order to give Pre-Order folks a head start, so that I'm looking forward to. This week has a lot of great releases, and me without funds to check em out. Gaming season is upon us, fellow geeks.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Power Supply It Is

So, thanks to OpenEdge1, I did get ATITools to help make sure my fan stayed on and kept my card cool. Hellgate ran like a dream. I played for a while, then logged off, started charging my iPod via the USB and went downstairs. Later that night, I decided it was time to run a couple of AVs before bed, only now my PC's frame rate was chugging again.

Temperature = Fine.
Fan = Fine
HDD = Defragged, Cleaned, 25GB of space left at the moment.

Yep, it seems it may be my power supply after all. The new card requires a 350w AT LEAST PSU. My PC runs on an old 250w one. Crap. Now, I talk to Dell they tell me that my motherboard is not intended to run higher than a 300w PSU, and upgrading could eff up my system.

Any validity to this statement? I want to upgrade, but not at such a risk. I'd rather lower the life of my video card and run on less power than lose my entire PC. It seems that as long as I don't charge my iPod while gaming, the system's fine and 250w can suffice. Should I just stick with what PSU I have and get a new PC next year around tax time? Or should I not listen to the yokel at Dell and get myself a nice 400-500w PSU that's compatible (I think these old Dells require ATX PSUs) and cross my fingers he's full of crap?


PotBS Pre-Order... Not Quite Yet.

As Tobold points out today over on his blog, I jumped the gun when I said pre-order boxes were on shelves. Should have done some checking myself before I claimed as such.
This is not the news that we wanted to bring you, but there’s been a hold up in the pre-order process. It turns out that the release of the preorder box is being delayed while the retailers and SOE finish processing all of the returns of Gods & Heroes preorder boxes. Obviously, the cancellation of Gods & Heroes after the preorder boxes were already in stores is a very unusual situation and it is taking a bit longer than expected to work out the kinks.

To give the retailers and SOE time to finish processing those returns, the PotBS preorder box is being delayed until the week of November 13th.

We’re really sorry for the confusion, but we’re fixing it and then we can get the boxes in your hands.

Our friends at SOE are also very sorry. This has been a difficult week for them as most are working remotely out of hotel rooms and friends’ houses safely away from the fires. Some are getting back into the office today, and with their help we were able to sort out the issues involved in the preorder delay.

Before the preorder release date, we’ll make sure we have all the information you need: when the boxes will be in stores, what stores you can find it in, and where you can order the preorder box online. These are the three big questions you’ve been asking on our forums, and now that not quite so many things are burning (!) we will be able to get you those answers in time for the release.

Just a couple more weeks and then we’ll be there. Land is in sight.
So there's that, then. Bummer, but really it just doesn't matter. Of course some folks will make a stink about it, crying the end of the world. But considering the game's not out for 3 more months, I don't see the difference a few weeks make.

Looking forward to picking up my pre-order when I pick up Mario Galaxy on November 13th then. Works for me!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Vow

I vow, from this point forward to ATTEMPT to not talk about any game that's more than 3 months away. Because, dear readers, every time I start writing, thinking, talking about one of said games I get my hopes up, my hype climbs, and I start forgetting that in the mean time I have plenty of good games to play out in the wild.

Games like Warhammer, Age of Conan, Spellborn... they're all so far away that if I start to get excited for them I'll just be asking for that same feeling of malcontent to come back that I was experiencing a few weeks ago. It's the Holidays very nearly here in the States, with many people believing they start with Holloween and don't stop until after New Years. From now until Christmas there's nothing but new games to try for the PC, the Wii, and the DS. If I had a 360, I'd not know what to do.

So, there we have it. In less than a week, I'll be playing Hellgate: London for keeps. Two weeks after that Super Mario Galaxy comes out. Zelda DS comes from Gamefly this week. The Witcher is still on my list of "To Get". Assassin's Creed is creeping up soon. And those are only what I can think of right at the moment. I'm a poor SOB with lots of school debt and a mortgage, so that's about the best I can hope for. And if you ask me that's plenty.

If you see me doing it, make a comment, tell me to shut up and go back to what I can play right now.


Continuing Adventures in Mythos and Hellgate... but what the hell is wrong with my video card?

I spent some more time in London and Uld (Mythos) late last night after watching more Carnivale: Season 2. If you haven't watched any of Carnivale... shame on you. Go rent the DVDs now. It's by far one of the most intriguing shows to have come to television in years, but didn't sustain ratings to last past 2 seasons. Just like Arrested Development... it seems the truly unique shows, nobody watches. I caught all of Season 1 of Carnivale on HBO when it aired, but got rid of cable shortly thereafter... hence I feel I in some way contributed to its failure. Anyway, it's brilliantly written and conceived show. Go watch it.

After a few episodes, I decided it was time to go loaf on my ass somewhere else so I booted up the PC. Logged into Hellgate, patched up the test center client, and logged into my Engineer for some Piccadilly Circus fun. Now, more often than not, my ATI Radeon x1560 XT (512MB AGP) does REALLY WELL with games. It's not top of the line, but even in Hellgate, or Oblivion, and other more taxing games I can get a steady 45 frames per second. However, every so often, I have a night like the one I experienced Wednesday.

That is to say, I can barely climb above 10 frames a second, usually hovering around 5. At first I thought it was my connection, but that was steady as could be. I tried Oblivion... and lo and behold, the same problem. Mythos, same thing. No amount of settings tweaking could help me. Even WoW had trouble chugging over 20 FPS, but it was the best running of the bunch, except in towns. It ran as low as 3FPS in towns. I just don't get it.

I've done everything I can to clean out my Hard Drive, it's fit as a fiddle PCWizard tells me. So I'm fairly confident something's up with my video card. All the latest drivers are installed, settings are even set to highest performance, and yet still I can't seem to get it to climb above the low end.

As I said, it's not always like this. Could it be overheating? I don't think so, as my PC is off all day until I get home, and Catalyst swears it's running at 68-71 degrees celcius. That's hot I know, but according to ATI and every other hardware site, that's normal for this card. It runs hot. What's weird, is these FPS dips don't happen all the time. It seems random. But when they do, that's it for my night. I can't play anything that requires quick key manipulation. WoW was about it, because it's at least playable at 20FPS.

If there's anyone out there who has this card, or similar problems, or greater knowledge than I on the subject (which I'm sure of), please comment and lend some advice. Because I'm tempted to swap back in my crappy ATI Radeon 9800 at times like this.

EDIT: One last thing, I've noticed that when this drop happens, the fan on the card's not running very much, nor is the PC fan. But when both kick in, and they kick in loudly, the frame rate rises temporarily to more suitable speeds. Sound like over-heating?

Anyway, thanks for reading. Had to rant there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Murmur: Friend, Countryman, Aid... Duke of Hell?

What lies ahead is relatively spoiler free concerning the game Hellgate: London, but the proposition I make about one of the main characters is not. If you'd rather not read my musings on what could easily be true, turn back. :)

Okay, so in Hellgate you're cast into the game with little more than your weapon and clothes as a lower-ranking member of the Templar's fight against the demon horde. The 1st thing you're greeted with is a Comlink contact from a chap named Murmur. Apparently, he's stranded outside of the protected Underground hubs, and needs your help getting back to safety and to check on a group of other Templar that seem to have been in a nasty fight.

But his being out in the open, without weapons, claiming to be so knowledgeable, and in general seeming a bit too informed has recently had me wondering whether or not there's more to him than meets the eye. Low and behold, as a fellow player pointed out, Wikipedia comes to the rescue:

In demonology, Murmur is a Great Duke and Earl of Hell, and has thirty legions of demons under his command. He teaches Philosophy, and can oblige the souls of the deceased to appear before the conjurer to answer every desired question. According to some authors [attribution needed] he also teaches music.

Murmur is depicted as a soldier riding a Vulture or a Griffin, and wearing a ducal crown. Two of his ministers go before him making the sound of trumpets. 'Murmur' in Latin means noise, whisper, murmur, and the sound of the trumpet.Some authors portray him simply as a vulture.

Yeah... looks like Mr. Murmur is more than just an ally. Makes me very curious to see where the story heads. In beta there are no cinematics, there's only the main story arc (denoted by purple !'s to let you know it's the main quest line) to tell you what you've gotten into. It's not very good, unless you read into it more. There are comic books, a novel series, and apparently a backlog of lore that Flagship is sitting on... it's just not in the game.

I get a 104 page Graphic Novel that's apparently all 4 issues of the prologue-esque comic series when I pick up my game on Wednesday the 31st. I'd rather not be forced to go hunting for my game's story, but I'll make due if I have to.

Anyway, went off on a tangent there. Yeah, Murmur. Definitely one to watch as the game rolls onward. Can't wait to see what happens in acts 4 and 5.

Pirates Pre-Order on Shelves and More Hellgate

I just wanted to make a quick post to point out that the Pre-Order boxes for Pirates of the Burning Sea went on shelves yesterday at game stores across the country. If you have even a passing interest in this game, I suggest you go drop the five bucks on it. Can't beat getting a 15 day head start, a CD soundtrack, game map, parrot pet, and a special weapon all for pre-ordering.

If you never get into beta, the 5 bucks will give you 15 days of playing to decide if you want to buy the game before it hits shelves on January 22nd. Really, there's no reason not to pre-order. As much as I'm enjoying WoW at the moment, this game is still teasing and taunting me from off the starboard bow... can't wait for January 7th (head start date).

Get out there and get the box!

Also, though I'm sure you lot are getting tired of me talking about Hellgate, I just have to write about my play-session last night. I played another of the two classes I'd barely experienced, the Summoner. The early levels with this class start out a bit less interesting than the others, as he doesn't have much fire-power, and his lone Fire Elemental minion is fairly week to boot. But by level 3 I had two elementals and one carnagor (tank pet)... and things began to get pretty damned fun. By level 7, I had 5 elemental pets, the carnagor, and an additional 10% fire damage added onto the fireballs my elementals hurled. Like the hokey ads for the US Army say, I was an army of one.

Equipment wise I was wielding a rocket pistol in my left hand which sends out small missles towards enemies that explode after a couple of seconds being lodged in their flesh, and in my right I had what they call a Focus Item, usable only by the Cabalist classes. It functions much like a pistol but seems to do some sort of magical damage as opposed to straight up physical. All I know is that it looked cool and killed things... that is if my minions didn't kill them first.

The Summoner is a wildly different class to play than the Guardian I played the night before, and even surprisingly different than the game's other pet class, the Engineer. The Engineer relies mainly on his own skills with guns to kill things while his pets are just there to help, while the Summoner's fire power IS his pets. That may sound boring, like playing a Summoner leaves you will little to do, but trust me it's anything but. There are enough monsters in levels once you're done with the beginner stages, that you'll always be kept on your toes, re-summoning elementals and downing what mobs you can while they work the rest. It's a very active class, more so than I was expecting.

That makes all 6 classes tested to around level 10 at least... and I still can't pick one. Looks like altism strikes again.

More later, folks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hellgate: London... continuing to work its way into my heart.

I read a lot of bad impressions about HGL during the day as I browse the forums of the beta. By and large a lot of people like it despite its faults (mainly the ones I mentioned in my review seem to be the concensus). But there are people complaining about the OPTIONAL paid content, thinking they should get all content that is made for the game after release for free... has that ever been the case for any game? Do people honestly think that box sales alone enable a company to run and continue to add to an online game? For Jeebus' sake, people...

Anyway, despite the vocal few who are displeased, I can't seem to pull myself away from the game, even as we head towards Beta shutdown this Friday. Awesomely enough, Kaiser, one of the devs at Flagship recently stated on the boards that the beta server will come back up close to the October 31st launch date and that beta players will be able to play to their hearts' content until they can upgrade their account to retail status, and that these beta server characters will stay on your account... for retail. Headstart = awesome. :)

The only catch is that the game is limited to the 1st three acts (about level 22) until you get your retail code entered. I can live with that.

Last night was pretty relaxed at home. My wife was playing World of Warcraft from about 530pm until 2am... yeah. She now knows the pull that online games have. Especially when everything's fresh and exciting. Hell, even nearly 3 years in I am still finding fun in WoW. For 15 bucks a month and the 90 bucks spent on boxes... I've had more hours of enjoyment than I've ever gotten out of any game. Money well spent, for the joy of unwinding.

Anyway, I played a class in Hellgate I haven't tried too much. I re-rolled myself a Guardian. And I think I might be enjoying it more than the Blademaster. Other commenters and bloggers have stated that they don't quite feel the connection with melee combat between your sword and the mobs, but I have to disagree. Maybe I'm easier pleased, but when I got a skill that allowed my Guardian to hunker down unmoving behind his shield to do an additional 60% damage, I sure got the feeling I was kicking the crap out of demons. I was wearing a helmet that often had a side-effect of letting off an AOE explosive effect. Combine that with about 10 demons around me, an aura that regens more health for each demon close to me... yeah, I was killing HARD and not taking much punishment for it.

The build will likely be garbage in PvP, because it requires me to remain stationary, but for PvE... it's a dream. Bosses that I have to kite around I just sit down behind my shield and go nuts on. They fear me. :)

Cheers all, and more to come later if I find something interesting to chat about.

Monday, October 22, 2007

WoW Patch 2.3 Keeps Giving: Battleground Daily Quests

Like I mentioned a bit ago, I've been playing a lot of Alterac Valley in order to start hording up honor for the Season 1 Arena rewards that are hitting the Honor System with Patch 2.3. I've been able to keep pace of at least 1,000 honor a night, sometimes 2-3,000 if I've got a lot of time to spare, and that has me sitting comfortably at over 20k honor as of this writing.

My goal is to not only have enough (27,000) for the Crossbow, but to also have at least enough for the Gladiator's Shoulders to go with it. I've got more than enough AV tokens, but the honor is always needed. Tokens are easy to come by, you end up getting more of them than you need in the search for honor points... but the honor itself can seem daunting to accrue for a person with little time most evenings.

I was worried I'd not meet my patch-day goal, until I saw on MMO-Champion that Battlegrounds are getting their own daily quests. Similar to the Heroic Dungeon dailies that are going in, each day a daily quest giver for the BGs will task you with winning one of the 4 Battlegrounds. If you do so, you'll be able to complete the quest for...

1.) 11g 99s
2.) 3 BG tokens of the chosen Battleground
3.) AND 2096 HONOR.

For a while it was unknown if the 2096 bonus honor was a bug or not, but apparently not. I think it's quite a lot of honor to give for little work, but consdering so many have barely time to do one BG, combined with the chances of winning... it doesn't seem to crazy. You can only do one a day, so basically this ensures that more BGs besides AV get played on non-holiday times, and that players with precious little time can work their way to a snazzy S1 item in a couple week's time.

The key is... you have to win. Everyone and their mother, Ally or Horde, knows that you can go 5-10 matches without a win of any BG in sight. So I don't think this Daily Quest will be that big of an issue. If anything, it'll promote playing other BGs, in the hopes that you can win it and get the bonus gold and honor.

Anyway, I'm stoked. There's a lot of needed honor to deck out in S1 gear, and I'm hoping to do it. It'll be the 1st time any MMO character of mine has been "geared", even if it's 2 sets behind the current. I'm very glad to see Blizzard continuing to work towards giving players like me something to do and strive for at the level cap, even if it revolves around dress-up.

Cheers, folks.

Hellgate: London - Something New and Old

The first thing I tell anyone when they ask about the weird mix of genres that is Hellgate: London, is to not expect a life-changing experience. I feel many people who are disheartened by the game when they try it were expecting something radically different from anything on the market... when in fact it is more of a mix of current successful action games, taking mechanics from both the FPS and the Action-RPG and blending them in a way that screams "I WANT TO SUCK HOURS AWAY FROM YOUR LIFE!"

It will not be for everyone. Many will hate the FPS-style controls placed into a Diablo-esque game. Some might be put off by the fact that the FPS controls offer respite for the less-skilled shooter, making things easier on them than they would be in say, Half-Life 2. But what I think is most striking about Hellgate: London is that it's this new amalgamation of genres... it creates a new one all by itself. HG:L is the world's first (at least to my knowledge) MMOFPSARPG. Say that 3 times fast.

Let me preface the rest of this review, as it will come off glowing, with some things that do honestly bug me about Hellgate: London.

1.) Coming from the main man behind Diablo 1 and 2, I have been expecting a very cinematic experience, with cutscenes, FMV, etc. But that's not there. The story is told in game, by text on NPCs. Whether this changes and we have some movies in the final cut is unknown (but guessing not), and I feel the game's potential is hurt by this. Being a fully-offline game as well as an MMO, the cinematical flare would go a long way towards making the offline game as fun as its forefathers in Diablo 1 and 2. As it is, the story's apparent, but it doesn't shine like it should. Or as I'd hoped.

2.) The tilesets used for levels are repetitive. This is a side-effect of being set in a post-apocalyptic London, combined with random-generation of levels... but it's not excuse. I'm sure there's plenty of things that can make the world we fight in interesting. It's been overrun by hell, for Jeebus' sake. Yet, it feels more like Detroit on any given day (I kid, I kid).

3.) The game's free for all to play onling with a completely option paid portion. Paying nets you lots more character slots, more storage, ongoing content additions, difficulty modes, etc. But I think they skimped a little on the non-subscribers. It bugs the heck out of me that free players only get 3 character slots. Even in Diablo 2 we got 6 slot (if I'm not mistaken).

So there's that, now let me clamor about the rest. We'll split it up 3 into general categories, I'll spew my thoughts on them, and if there are any questions I can answer them in the comments.


There's nothing about HG:L that's going to make your jaw drop the way Crysis or Assassin's Creed will, but it's certainly no slouch either. The character models are well done, the weapons and armor interestingly designed (swords of the mid-21st century are a lot cooler than your average cleaver), and the enemies are at once both alien and demonic. A few times during my first session I was caught off guard by a ground-spawning mob called a Felboar (not like WoW's Fel Boar), so much so that I actually jumped in my seat.

Indeed the only thing that really disappoints me about the game's visuals are the repititve level designs. They look good, and appropriately war-torn... but they can get old, fast. Luckily, Flagship says they're in the process of heavily redesigning the Acts of the game so that each chapter has a distinct visual feel, and that this patch will be ready shortly before launch for us to test and will be patched into the retail version on Day 1.

Lastly, I can see the graphics looking horrid on anything less than my ATI Radeon x1650. I wonder how they would look on my old Radeon 9800? I worry that Flagship should have gone the Blizzard way and toned down the visuals to still look good on modest systems. But whatever, at least it looks great on mine.


This is one of those areas that an FPS needs to get right, just like the action. It needs to be loud, brash, and tangible. I need to feel my gun shoot, my sword swing, the zombie die, and the demon howl. Luckily, Flagship hasn't failed here. Like it's smaller cousin Mythos, HG:L has some very nifty sound effects. Explosions sound great, guns don't just go "Pew Pew", and monsters make a satisfying "splorch" when you whack or rivet them. The music, while not necessarily the kind that sticks with you like the Mario or Zelda themes, does get the blood pumping. Especially when it kicks into high gear on a boss. Good stuff.


The visuals, the sound, the story... all of it amounts to nothing if the game's not fun. And for what faults I can find in Hellgate... I can't escape the simple truth that this is a fun game.

The controls are right out of a first-person shooter, but it can be played in 3rd-person if you'd prefer to gawk at your hero as you murder demons. WASD control the movement, the numerical hotkeys can contain your skills or potions/power-ups, and the left and right mouse buttons can handle either your left and right handed weapons or you can assign a skill to them if it floats your boat. Some are miffed that movement can't be reassigned to something else, and while I admit that seems lame, WASD movement is so broadly accepted I don't think it's too big of a deal. What I worry more about is the motion-sickness some folks get from FPS controlled games.

As you rove about London, helping the resistance (you're one of the Knights Templar it would seem) you collect loot, experience, and run frequent errands involving the random numerical slaying of zombies, the collection of certain items, or the destruction of bothersome boss-monsters. It's the tried and true Action-RPG game mechanic. You kill things, things drop shinies, you collect shinies, and get bigger and more powerful. It's kept millions enthralled with Diablo 2 for years now, and I don't see it changing here.

If that's not your type of game-experience, I don't think you'll like HG:L. The bulk of the fun relies on the action, mixed with a healthy dose of loot and and leveling. It will not take you 300 hours to hit max level, you won't spend ages exploring the world. It's an action-RPG, first and foremost. Some seem to mistake the fact that it's online and has an optional fee to mean it's a traditional DIKU-MMORPG. It's not. The OPTIONAL fee nets you more slots, more gameplay difficulties, and any new content the team patches in down the road.

Right off the bat on Day 1, subscribers will be privy to special Halloween content, including themed quests, one of which leads to an in-game pet called a ZomBot. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's good to see that on day 1 wishful subscribers will have something that their additional 10 bucks buy them. The real test will be to see how long it takes the folks at Flagship to keep a steady stream of content rolling. That is what I'd pay 10 dollars a month for. New quests, new dungeons, new classes. The themed events are nice, but I'd rather see something more substantial.

Lastly, let's talk about the classes. There are 3 "Factions", consisting of 2 classes each. The Hunter Faction is home to the Marksman and the Engineer. The Cabalist Faction has both the Evoker and the Summoner. And the Templar Faction involves the Guardian and the Blademaster. Here's the breakdown...


Marksman - Standard ranged class, with lots and lots of firepower and some handy skills involving grenades and whatnot.

Engineer - Also a ranged class, this guy relies more on his summoned robots to give him the upper hand.

Evoker - Your "mage" of Hellgate, the Evoker dabbles in the dark arts to use fire and other black magic against the minions of hell. He's a glass-cannon. But things end up dead before they reach him, so his defense are usually not a worry unless you get taken by surprise.

Summoner - Another type of caster, like the Engineer, the Summoner relies on his summoned minions along with spells of the dark arts to keep himself alive. Demons are his pets, and they certainly do the trick.

Guardian - This is the guy who runs into a pack of demons and swings his sword until they're dead, meanwhile bracing against their attacks with his shield. They can take a pounding, and still dish out a crap-ton of damage.

Blademaster - More finesse than might, the Blademaster uses several different attacks to kill his enemies before they can lay hands on him. This guy dual-wields two melee weapons at once and to great effect.


I've played each class during my time in beta, and while each Faction plays similarly, the classes are unique enough to stand on their own two feet. I specifically have a soft spot for the Blademaster and the Engineer. The only bad thing I have to complain about with the classes is that the skill-trees in comparison to Mythos' are a bit bland. There are a lot of things to put your 1 point per level in... but some of them just don't feel very "heroic". Maybe it's that they don't look cool? I don't know. But I just don't get the same sense of "Schweeeet..." when I get a new skill in Hellgate.

Luckily the bevy of weapons and modifications (like Gems from Diablo 2) make up for that. I could spend all day playing with the Modification tools you find in quest hubs. They let you swap in and out mods on your wepaons until you can get the perfect combination of additional damage, shield piercing, or whatever. You can even go to a station and pay money to add special ehancements to a non-enhanced weapon you think looks too cool to just sell off.

And really, without the fabulous loot system, without the randomized dungeons and boss-encounters... Hellgate wouldn't be as fun as it is. It's the treasure-hunting and the mob-squishing that make it a blast. And luckily, that's what it focuses on. I do hope skill-trees see more refinement. I hope the level-redesigns that are coming soon are as good as they sound. But even if they're not, I can see myself playing Hellgate: London for quite some time, checking in and shelling out 10 bucks whenever some big content update hits. It's the perfect companion game to a more traditional MMORPG. I often don't want the hassle of long travel times, and lots of run around. Sometimes, I just want to be able to boot a game up, whack some foozles and collect big shiny rewards. That my friends, is what Hellgate: London is all about.

It's not for everyone, but it's certainly for me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hellgate's Beta NDA has been Lifted...

And I'll have a write-up of my Beta experience as soon as I get the time. Busy as we're winding down the Friday here at work. And lots of homework to do this weekend while still finding time to AV it up and watch season 2 of Carnival... busy busy busy!

EDIT: Fresh out of invites for Mythos but I'll be trying to get my hands on some more really soon, so stay tuned!

Cheers folks!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Massive Mythos Beta Key Giveaway!

UPDATE: All invites have been claimed, but I will be posting again should I get my hands on some more, so keep your eyes peeled!

I got home from work tonight and checked my e-mail to find a pleasant surprise. The one and only Tiggs, Goddess of Ping0 hath attached 50 Mythos Beta Keys to my Mythos account, with only one order... to give them to you all. First come, first served basis. Simply leave me a comment with your email address in this format:

emailaccount at someplace dot com

By doing this you're fighting spammers of your own e-mail address, so I suggest you use that format. No catches, no hooks, no contests. Mythos is a wonderful game, and you all owe it to yourselves to give it a go and help Flagship and Ping0 stress those servers and shape the game.

So what are you waiting for?! Get commenting! I'm going to keep advertising this thing until all the keys are gone, so if you've got a friend or relative who wants one, let me know that too!

A Cavalcade of Things

First, let me start by giving warning to all Wii or PSP owners, don't rent, buy, steal, or come within one hundred miles of Alien Syndrome. Such a great pedigree of an action game from the 90s ruined by purely bad gameplay. Lots of great ideas in the little top-down sci-fi action RPG, but none of them are pulled off well. The combat is stale within 30 minutes of playing, the graphics would make the PSOne feel godly, and the level design is so mind-numbingly boring you'll have a hard time getting through the first stage. Even if the camera wonkiness was fixed, the graphics tuned up, and the combat livened by some sort of miracle, this one wouldn't be worth your time due to extremely generic level design.

And this boys and girls, is why I have a Gamefly account. To try games like this, instead of buying. I could see myself desperately buying it, in a fit of boredom... but being immediately sad I did once I got it home. It's simply subpar at best.

However, the prospect of a Sci-Fi Action-RPG is a welcome one. Luckily, there's not long to wait until a good one hits the shelves. Hellgate: London has gone gold and will be on shelves come Halloween. If you've not had the chance to play the beta, or want to see what the game plays like offline without a bunch of chitter chatter and ping, there's a demo available for download today sometime. Head over to Fileplanet and check it out later. I heartily recommend this game, as I've stated before. But I still suggest trying it yourself.

Now if only The Witcher (a new open-world RPG) would put out a demo for me to try, all would be right in the world.

On a personal gaming note, I spent about 2 hours in Alterac Valley last night, and crakced the 2,000 honor mark, for a total of about 11,000 points on Begud. 16k more until I'm ready for my Crossbow... I can't wait. I think the AV weekend is this week, so I'm very likely to hit that 27,000 total if I can get the free time needed. I'd like to have 38,250 by the time 2.3 goes live, truthfully. That would afford me both my crossbow, and the wicked Gladiator's Shoulders. I'm starting to piece together a solo-PVE set (with a lot of mana regen) and my PvP set, and those shoulders are about the best a lowly guy like me can do for PvP. Sorry, I'm ranting. Needless to say, I'm still having fun in WoW. Who knew?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Mythos Update

In between my new obsession with WoW's honor system, I've been spending some time in and out of the World of Uld (the place of action for Flagship Studios' Mythos). Until very recently, Uld was pretty simple and bare. The leveling was slow. The settings were boring. The mobs were "blah". And as fun as the gameplay was, the flare wasn't really there once you'd played for a few hours.

Then came this Monday's Zone 2 patch to the beta. The game's not covered by an NDA, because the developers want us testers to spread the good word, and so I shall. With this patch, Mythos has gone from "a very fun but bland Diablo clone" to "Diablo what?". I'm dead serious. I tend to exaggerate from time to time about my hopes for new games, and my internal hype engine can often go into overdrive. But bearing that in mind, after 2 days of dwelling on it, I think I can safely say that Mythos is on the path towards being the Diablo 2 replacer that many people have long hoped for.

Everything you know and love about D2 is in Mythos, and then some. The only thing I feel that's missing is a Horadric Cube and Deckard Cain, but if I wanted those I could just play Diablo... they're certainly not necessary for enjoyment, just pieces of Nostalgia I could see myself smiling at as they popped up in any other game... but I digress. Mythos, for all intents and purposes, adheres very closely to the Diablo/Roguelike model. But there are some key differences in my mind that take the formula for addiction from great to greater.

The 1st thing I noticed, going from one client to the new one were the skill trees. The developers had been teasing us while we waited for the new build with samples of the new skills and how the new trees would work, but man was I still surprised at how much more fun they'd become when I logged in Monday night.

Previously, the Trees were a mess both graphically, and functionally. Too many skills that weren't helpful, too many skills that were too deep into the tree, and too few points to spend in order to see the deeper parts of the trees because we were sort of soft level-capped around 15 or so. But not any more.

Now, each level (which comes much faster thanks to more experience from monsters and a plethora of quests that we'll get into further down) you get 2 skill points along with the customary 5 stat points. There are 3 separate skill trees for each class (Pyromancer, Gadgeteer, Bloodletter) which effectively transform each class into 3 more classes. Dozens of unique and viable builds seem possible, but for my part the first character I rolled up on this new build was a Bloodletter (melee class) and I went straight for the Red Hand path of skills.

The Red Hand is the minion-summoning tree for the Bloodletter. Other paths deal with DOTs and more direct melee skills, but the Red Hand tree is what I remember being the most fun, if underappreciated build before the patch so I wanted to see what it was like now... it did not disappoint.

One of the Red Hand's 1st skills available is the ability to summon Broodlings from the corpses of the dead, not unlike Skellies in D2. By level 5 I had 6 of my very own broodlings following me around and killing things before I even had a chance to act. Each skill level of the summon added attack rate to them, so they were just tearing through baddies. Totally felt like the early levels of a Necro, and man was it cool.

I added in an ability to mark an enemy in order to direct my darlings to attack them, and also something I wish I hadn't wasted a point on. I can't recall the name, but it send out little flaming darts in all directions, which proceeded to explode after 2 seconds or so. Great for when I'm surrounded by mobs maybe, but with the Broodlings it never happens, so I don't need the skill. I can imagine it being very supplemental for another build though.

The only downside I can see to the Red Hand build is that the intial health of broodlings is very light. They can be upgraded deeper into the tree, but at 1st they might seem to die pretty often, especially on bosses that hit so hard. And being that they ARE your offense, that can make for a painful experience. But, with your skill points, you should also be putting points into a side-bar, which as you put more into it it opens up more tiers of skills. When you get to the point where you can invest some skill points into upgrading health of your broodlings, I can't imagine the dying would be such a problem anymore.

I don't have anything to say on the other classes at the moment, as I've only tried the revisioned Redhand Bloodletter, but if the little guy is any indication I'm excited to try the others. I hear the Pyromancer's pets are just as awesome. Really, I feel like they've nailed some amazingly cool skills so far with Mythos, and that's one of the things that makes the game fun. You feel absurdly powerful by level 5, and it gets more and more intense as you go on, taking out enemy hordes by the dozen, blood flying everywhere. Very visceral, very swift, and very rewarding. The 3 Very's of a Proper Action-RPG.

So yeah, enough about skills. There's still more to talk about. The second thing that makes the game so improved over the last build is the new art assets. Previously we had nothing but bears, wolves, bandits, and bugs to fight... as soon as I started in on the game this time within 2 hours I'd faced a host of never seen baddies. Everything from giant tarantulas to zombie mages, to pale-skinned necromancers, and of course... wolves. :) Combine the much more interesting (if not commonly used) mobs with far better scenery and you've got a very visually pleasing experience, runnable on modest PCs no doubt. There are abandoned mining shafts, deep dank caves, old churches, lush forests, rainy grasslands, and so on and so forth. And each "dungeon" you go into is randomly generated, and so painstakingly detailed with set-pieces (bookshelves, animal carcasses, rock formations, rivers, pools, etc and so forth), that it doesn't feel nearly as contrived and repetitious as NCsoft's Dungeon Runners.

Your character's footsteps make pitter-patters, your broodlings growl and snarl, enemies moan in pain, fury, and death. The lightning flashes and thunder is heard. It's these little details that flesh out the game's setting, and add just that bit of life that's needed to make a setting believable. The art-style is cartoonish, in the vein of FATE if you know that game, but much darker, more brooding... and far bloodier. I haven't seen the "Zone 2" yet, but I understand it's a more desert-like setting, not unlike Diablo 2's Act 2 setting, and I'm sure one can assume that such a reference is intentional.

Oh and when talking about an Action-RPG, who can forget the loot. All the staples are there, green items, blue items, purple items, magical gems to insert into sockets, swords, guns, axes, maces, wands, staves, capes, helms, rings, necklaces, yada yada yada... the unending search for the next big weapon is present in Uld, and indeed welcome. Part of what makes Roguelikes so fun is the treasure hunting. Would we really have played so much Diablo 1 or 2 if there was half as much loot to be found? By about 2 hours into Mythos, I'd been decked out in fancy items, one of which is a comically sized 1-handed axe the size of my little cigar-smoking Gremlin. It shines with frost-damage and electricity and smites enemies in 1 hit more often than not... and all at level 7.

And lastly for now, let's talk quests. I'm not sure how much the overarching story will matter in Mythos, but it's there. You start the game by helping a local clergyman clear his church of baddies, and then you're sent to the 1st main hub, Stonehill. SH is the base of your adventures for the 1st 10-15 levels of your life at least, and during that time you'll find no shortage of quests and places to visit. Golden exclamations abound, and the Map-Maker is always willing to give you a new cave or cellar to hunt in provided you've got the coin. I'm still working my way to Zone 2, but so far I've not had a problem finding something to do in Uld. If anything the maximum quests limit of 5 is far too small for my tastes. I've got places to go and monsters to slay, people!

In all, Mythos has risen on my radar from a mildly fun but somewhat boring free-game, to something I'd willingly buy the box for at regular price... and it's not even remotely finished. The 3rd zone is forthcoming, crafting is being added, and more classes are apparently on the way. I am hooked. Gonna be tough to choose between AV and Uld tonight, that's certain.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WoW Patch 2.3 = Season 1 Arena Items for Honor

And I couldn't be happier. For those unfamiliar with WoW's Arena system, it's basically the PvP equivalent of High End Raids. The Arenas have seasons, which we're currently in season 2, that correspond to the most recent Raid Dungeon's Gear. This way both hardcore PvP and hardcore PvE players stay pretty on par with each other.

The Battlegrounds, completely separate from the Arena system, are like the PvP version of WoW's 5-man dungeons and Heroics. You compete in them, save up honor points, and spend said points like currency on decent but vastly inferior gear to that of Raiders and Arena teams.

To put the Honor Gear in comparison to Arena Gear, let's take the Crossbows from the Honor System and the Crossbow from the Season 1 set. I don't have access to Wiki right now, but the Honor System's ranged weapon (the GM Crossbow for level 70) runs at about 66 damage per second. I was dead set on this weapon before I learned of the Arena 1 items coming in Patch 2.3. The GM crossbow exceeds my current gun's DPS output by about 10. I need an upgrade badly, and the GM weapons are definitely that, even if they pale in comparison to the Arena and Raiding rewards.

But no more. Path 2.3 will allow me to get the Season 1 weapons to give me the upgrade I'm looking for. And to explain why I'm so stoked... the GM Crossbow has 66 dps or so... the S1 Gladiator's Crossbow has 82 damage per second. Compared to what I'm currently equipped with, that's nearly a 30dps increase. I am so excited for a little piece of virtual weaponry that it has me questioning my priorities.

The Season 1 Honor Prices and stats can be found on MMO-Champion right now, near the bottom of their 2.3 catalog post. Armor ranges from around 11,000 to 15,000 honor and 30 tokens of one or another Battleground, while weapons top out at 27,000 and 40 tokens for the big damage dealers like Two-Handers and my lovely Crossbow.

There are downsides though. I never trained in Crossbows. I will have to raise my skill from 0 to 350 before I get full potential out of it. Also, the crossbow's cost is easily 3 weeks of Battlegrounds for me at my current rate of 1-2 hours of honor gain a day. It's not a hassle really, it's just that I want the weapon as soon as possible so I'm hoping I've got 3 weeks before 2.3 hits the live servers. I want to march right up to the Honor vendor and get that weapon the day it goes live. Because it's going to take a lot of skilling up before I can head back to AV and work towards the rest of the Season 1 Armor... which looks so awesomely evil I can't wait to wear it.

Aye... it was a good time to return to WoW. Attainable epic gear for a casual player? Who knew they'd ever get around to it?

EDIT: This found on the VN... For all 5 S1 armor pieces, it'll be 65,250 honor, 50 AV Tokens, 50 AB Tokens, and 30 WSG Tokens. Weapons, as stated before will range from 8,000 honor and around 20 tokens for the 1-handers/wands to 27,000 and 40 tokens for the big 2-handers and my crossbow.

Man, this patch makes me a very happy dwarf. Here's hoping they don't boost those prices too much because the vocal minority cries foul once again. I'm just a lowly noob, without a lot of time... these rewards are the best I'll see until the next expansion. Please don't eff with what seems to be genius. :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Self Being Primary

I'm no Descartes. I won't claim to be a studious Philosopher, nor will I aim to prove that the following notion is anything more than a theory or opinion. This is simply the dictation of what it is I believe keeps me sane in this world. My wife recently shared with me a quote that went someting like, "Writing is only an excusable form of scizophrenia." I am certainly inclined to agree with that, seeing how much of my life I spend dreaming about worlds that exist only in my imagination and for purely my own benefit.

Regardless, it is in this exercise of psychosis that I find myself most comfortable. And what after all, is more important in one's life than the self? Not selfishness, not selfish acts, not even narcissism, but purely the idea that when all is said and done and world is laid to waste, all you have to stack the meaning of your life against is yourself and those things you have seen, done, known, experienced. Even if a parent claims that their child matters more than themselves, which I will not deny, this is simply because the child is an extension of one's self.

Loved ones, though more important than anything they may seem, are but reflections of our own desires, our wants, and our hopes for happiness. Again, it becomes apparent that we are creatures who must measure our meaning from the self, and all that it may include. Therefore, I am of the resolute opinion that the SELF is the foremost concern of anyone who seeks to find happiness, peace, or simply balance between all life's concerns.

How someone is supposed to come to this realization is beyond me. Every so often it is necessary to re-evaluate your life, of this I'm sure. Anyone who claims to never question their life, I must certainly ask if they're still breathing, if they still cry, if they still feel their stomach quiver at the sight of something nerve-racking. This process of giving one's self a report card may or may not come at regular intervals. A triggering event can begin the process prematurely, or delay it just as likely. Regardless, it is clear to me that taking part in such introspection is a necessary step towards attaining happiness. The struggle to find and keep happiness is never-ending, and indeed many may go a whole lifetime without even the slightest clue as to where to look.

Ignorance may be bliss, but I fancy myself the inquisitive type. I need to know. I need to question. I need to find answers. Every time I think I've found THE solution, more questions come up, and the cycle begins anew. It is nice to have the constants of my life, the anchors to keep me grounded. But I'll be damned if I am never satisfied with life, and I highly doubt I shall ever stop looking for more from life, more to me. I never want to stop growing, of this I'm certain.

Again, let me reiterate that this may be true for me and not at all for the next person, but then if you had no inclination to agree with me even in the slightest I assume you would have stopped reading many sentences ago. No, you remain here, reading these words because you might have had similar thoughts, or maybe these words are striking a chord within you. Whatever keeps you here, I appreciate you taking the time to read this babble.

The title of this blog insists that I occasionally ramble. More often than not, I go on and on about my hobbies, and that may be what you've come to expect. But I had to get something like this out in type. It's the best way to organize my thoughts. Thanks for reading if you have.

Chapter 3: What Comes Next

As always, any comments are welcomed and listened to. I still haven't begun editing the earlier chapters based on feedback, but I want to get the 4 I am confident in out there and hear criticism on them before I start editing and rewriting the rest. Muchas gracias, amigos.

What Comes Next

Shea rose from his bed of feathers early the next morning, having lain with his eyes open all night. This is what one tends to do when one’s parents are petrified like stones out in the kitchen. Without breakfast and without a change of clothes, the boy headed out the door as the sun rose through the trees and high into the cloudless sky. He had no desire to sit down and eat fruit in front of the motionless figures of his parents.

He sauntered along the streets, past the opening shops and wakening homes of families. An old, but lively shywoman, one whom he’d passed numerous times in his childhood, saw him walking with his eyes half-closed and as usual decided she had some advice to give him.

“You shouldn’t stay up so late, Shea,” she said, filling a large stone tub she used for her laundry. There was a strong sense of nagging in her voice, but Shea learned long ago that it was simply who she was.

“I know, Madam Malwether,” he replied, yawning as he spoke. “I just woke a bit too early.”

The chore-happy shywoman eyed him with suspicion, but again, she was only being herself. Shea waived with a sleepy smile and continued on his way. Soon he came upon a place he had only ever been once before with his father when he was very young. A great and climbing aisleway went up through the stump. Hundreds of shymen and women traversed the giant pathway, but moved like ants at work, swiftly and with purpose.

There seemed to be no room for him as he stood staring at the broad trail, and anxiety took over at the thought of being trampled by all those hurried folk. The path’s daily climbers called it the High Road, and however daunting a climb it seemed, the walkway was the only way to reach Shea’s destination. After a deep breath, he slid into the ocean of shymen and was carried away by the tide.

Up the ever-crowded paths he scurried, a face among many, different but unnoticed all the same. He fought off unknowing assailants, dodged merchants pushing carts of wares he could never afford, and slowly but surely made his way past the grand marketplace known as the Promenade of Goods. A detour to the place his father always spoke of would have to wait, and with more important matters to tend to, Shea settled for a passing glimpse through the moving legs of his fellow climbers.

Most of the High Road’s patrons made their exit back at the Promenade, and soon Shea was alone on the last leg of the climb. It appeared not many had a reason to visit the highest point in the Stump. At long last, he came to the Upper Eaves. Whatever weariness he felt from his nimble ascent swiftly disappeared when he saw the marvel that lay before him.

Everything he’d ever known about the Stump, aside from Harver and his iron shop, was plain and boring. All buildings were the same, and all people seemed to strive to be as ordinary as possible. But as he entered the Upper Eaves, Shea found that his opinion was misguided, and that there was nothing simple or ordinary about the shymen who lived closest to the clouds.

Mud and brick were not the only building material of the wealthy folk. Instead their homes were compiled of grass, petals, leaves, twigs, vines, gems, and a great many other things Shea had never seen used to make a house. There were quite a few less homes than on the bottom level, but each one in the Eaves was at least double the size of any down below. Large gardens made up the space between dwellings, gardens filled with fruits and flowers Shea had only read of in his dad’s books.
One house immediately caught Shea’s eye. It was nothing more than a giant acorn, with windows cut into the sides, and leaves as shutters. From the stem streamed a flow of smoke, thick and endless. In the garden, tall and overlooking the nutty house, there stood a mass of tangled vines and grass that looked remarkably like a squirrel.

As Shea gazed in wonder, a short, fat shyman with rosy cheeks, dressed in robes of blue silk, appeared in a window near the natural roof of the acorn. With a heavy and awkward pounce, he slid down the back of the squirrel-bush, flew from its leafy tail, and landed eye to eye with the awestruck red-haired boy.

“Never get tired of doing that,” said the stocky shyman, dusting off his rear, and laughing uproariously. He squinted his eyes at Shea. “Red hair? That’s a first. At least, I think it is. Don’t remember ever seeing anyone with red hair before… I did see an old shywoman with blue hair once, but she was just trying to cover up her gray with berry juice. Blue eyes, too? You’re a specimen then, aren’t you?”

Shea didn’t say a word. He felt his jaw drop as he watched the eccentric shyman make a few slight hand gestures and mutter under his breath. Vines and weeds in the garden began to writhe and wriggle, moving like snakes towards the giant acorn. They wrapped themselves up and around the pip, giving the home an authentic aged look.

“There,” he said. “Gives the place a more lived-in feel, I think. Just finished growing that big nut yesterday. It’s got three floors in it; the old one only had two. A shyman needs a place for his things, you know.”

“You’re a Nurturer?” Shea managed, but still held his gaze on the odd domicile.

“Yep,” the shyman said proudly, “and a bit of an artist, I like to think. That squirrel’s my work. Looks uncanny for being a plant, I’d say.” He looked at his new home with a critical eye. “Needs something else though. Maybe I could use the old nut as an add-on to the side…” He looked to Shea for an answer. “What d’ya think?”

The boy saw a smaller acorn lying on its side next to the newly erected building and tried to imagine the two somehow connected. “I guess you could…”

“Great!” clamored the Nurturer. “It’s settled! But all that can wait. What can I do for you, young lad?”

“My name’s Shea. Harver sent me…”

“Harver!” The artist’s eyes lit up. “How is the old squash-for-brains!”

“You know him?” asked Shea.

“Of course!” The Nurturer yelled, as if to make sure Shea was paying attention or that others who passed by would do so. “He’s my brother after all.”

“You’re Mercer, then?” Shea didn’t know what exactly he expected, but the loon who stood before him was the furthest thing from his mind.

“The one and only,” Mercer bowed. “At your service.” He turned and walked towards the door of his new home, and motioned for Shea to follow. “Come on then, Shea. A friend of my brother is a friend of mine.”

And so, with no real choice in the matter, Shea followed Mercer into the Acornium, as its owner would later come to call it.


The outside of the house was plain compared to the inside. He expected the hollowed acorn to be rather dull, but Shea was learning as of late not to be fooled by his expectations. Four large columns of polished wood rose high through the center of the three-floor building. A staircase clothed in green moss began at one side of the main room and kept to the wall as it made its way around and up the house. Plants for decoration were everywhere, and all seemed to resemble one animal or another. There was a turtle mushroom patch, a porcupine rosebush, and a clover rabbit to name a few. All were scaled down in size so not to take up too much space.

Shea was used to being barefoot, and used to feeling dirt beneath his toes, but like everything else in Mercer’s home, the floor was not commonplace. A woven carpet of cotton and silk, colored to resemble the night sky, stars and all, spanned the ground from wall to wall. At the center of the room, there lay a large, round, wooden table. Around the table sat four high-backed, cushioned chairs, facing one and other for conversation. Mercer flipped his robes behind him, plopped down in a chair, and invited Shea to take a seat in the one opposite him.

“So,” the Nurturer began, “what’s my goofy big brother sent you up here for? To buy some art? The Mossy-Mouse is on sale; I can’t seem to move those things down at the Promenade.”

Shea simply shook his head, still a little afraid to talk. He’d never met a real Nurturer, much less sat down in one’s home and had a chat.

“No? Is this about that fight him and I had last week? Tell the old rat that I’m sorry too. I know he doesn’t want to move up here with me, I was just offering.”

“It’s not that either,” he managed this time.

“Well,” Mercer scratched his chin, “you’ve got me then. What are you doing way up here?”

Shea pulled Harver’s letter from his shirt and handed it to the Nurturer.

“What’s this?” Mercer read the note, and as his eyes moved, his face went from joyous to solemn. When he finished reading, he looked up at Shea and said, “I had forgotten about all that. Been so busy with the house and all.”

“He said you’d be able to tell me more.”

Mercer sighed and snapped his fingers. A tall, muscular shyman, dressed in black robes, came down the stairs carrying a tray with mugs and a pitcher. He set the tray down, and Mercer dismissed him.

“Tea?” he offered.

“No thanks,” Shea replied. “Harver said he told you everything.”

"Yes," Mercer sipped a steaming mug of Elderoot tea. "I didn't believe him for the longest time. He showed it to me one night. Made me stay up to unhealthy hours and listen to the forest. I was getting fed up, ready to go home and sleep, you know? But then I heard what the old boy was talking about. A tree moaned, it actually cried out in pain, and fell to its death. It was then that he got me to believe in this whole Shadow thing. But even so, I kind of thought of it as some spook-tale, just a way for my older brother to scare me. I never truly did take him seriously. Now I know I should've."

“I heard a tree fall last night,” said Shea. “How come no one else hears them?”

“I’m sure they do, Shea. But I doubt they think anything of it other than ‘Oh, listen. A tree’s fallen.’ We’re simple people, boy. We don’t read too much into things.”

“But Harver did,” suddenly something occurred to Shea. “Is he a Nurturer too?”

“Yes… but in a different way. I can make plants and such move and bend like puppets. I can lift a tree from the ground and set it down somewhere else. What my brother does is nothing like that. He can’t grow things with his touch, and he can’t make the trees walk. His gift is the Earthspeak, the ancient language of our world. He can talk to the earth and all that is part of it. When the first tree fell, years ago, Harver heard its cries, its begging to be spared. He hears everything this forest says, and from root to leaf, all are afraid.”

Shea was silent for a minute. “What is it? What’s doing this? Harver mentioned something about a shadow. Do you know what he meant?”

“That’s just what we call it. I don’t really know what it is, exactly. I’m sure he has a better grasp on the topic though. Harver had this theory about the world… how did he put it?” Mercer shifted in his seat and sat forward. His voice became quieter and Shea had to lean in towards him. “Harver called it Nature’s Scale. Meaning that -- where there is up, there is down, night and day, rain and shine, life and death. There are two sides to everything.”

“What does that have to do with the trees dying?” Shea asked eagerly.

“I’m getting to that." Mercer sipped his tea again. “As I was saying… there was a time when Shymen didn’t exist. According to the First Books, when the Great Oak fell, we were born from its remains. It was this Shadow that fell the Great Oak. Harver believes that it was meant only to destroy the old tree, to be the death to its life. But when we were born from the Oak’s spirit, we upset the Scale.”

“But we’ve been here for ages,” said Shea, on the edge of his seat. This whole thing was like one of the stories he read late at night. “How come it didn’t just kill us after the Oak?”

“My brother believes that we are protected so long as we reside in the Stump. For years, the Shadow could not get to us. When night falls, we are all back inside these walls, unable to be harmed. As years went by, the Shadow grew greater, angrier. It began to tear down the other trees in the forest in its thirst for death. And as the life in the forest lessens, so does the spirit of the Great Oak.” Mercer’s face took on a grave expression. “It will not be long before these walls are rendered useless, and the Shadow comes for us all.”

“That explains my parents,” said Shea. “They just sit there like statues.”

“Indeed,” Mercer drained his mug. “They are the first.” The Nurturer was suddenly forlorn, his vigor gone, his face twisted in disbelief. “I can’t believe he was right!”

“But Harver said there was something I needed to do next. He said you would know what that is.”

“He did?” Mercer’s head tilted to the side like a confused puppy’s. “I’m sorry, Shea.”


“My, my memory’s… not what it used to be.”

“You mean you don’t know?”

Mercer shook his head. “I am sorry about your parents, really. But, he told me so much! Always rambled on he did. How can I be expected to remember all of it? There were other important things at the time!”

“More important than your life?”

“I didn’t think all this would actually happen! I mean, how could I know it would come to this?”

“You would’ve, had you listened to Harver.” Shea held his anger from going any further. He too, had once written Harver off as mad. “Well, now what?”

From a drawer under the table, Mercer withdrew a dusty old tome and laid it out between them.

“This is a map my brother and I made when we were younger. It’s old, but it’s a decent sketch of the area outside the Stump.” Mercer dusted the map and pointed to a small blue oval marked the Thinkwell. The small body of water was some distance from the bird’s eye drawing of the Stump, and between the two lay something marked Beazel’s Bog. “Harver and I used to always go here. It’s his favorite place. Says the voices are always calm around there. If he’s left the Stump, that’s where he’s at.”

“And I have to go there, because you forget what comes next.”

Mercer smiled apologetically. “But you’ll have to be careful of that swamp,” the Nurturer laid his finger on the bog. “I dunno if that old tortoise is still alive, but if he is, he won’t be fond of a little shyman cutting through his territory.”

“You’re not going with me?” Shea knew the answer but asked anyway. Again, Mercer simply smiled. “That’s just fine. I’m used to being alone by now.”

“Listen,” the Nurturer hurriedly changed the subject. “You said your parents have been touched by the Shadow, right? While you’re gone, I’ll stay down there with them. See if I can’t loosen them up a bit, get the green flowing in them again. You just head west, straight on through the Bog and keep going until you run smack dab into Mount Rise. Down around the base of the mountain is the Thinkwell. It’s like a summer stroll, really.”

Shea indulged his offer, knowing that Harver’s brother was most likely too much a coward to be any use in the wild anyway. “That would be great. It’s creepy with them just sitting at the kitchen table all day long.”

“Good,” Mercer clapped. It was obvious he was happy the boy didn’t ask him to go find Harver. “Then let’s get going.”


“Shea,” Mercer laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder as they both stood from the chairs, “if your parents are as you say, then it’s started. We have no time to waste.”

“Can I take the map with me?”

“No, you won’t need that silly old thing, it's hardly accurate. Just keep walking, make sure to go through old Beazel’s, and you’ll be fine. Now come on, we’ve got to get a move on.”

As the odd couple left the Acorn Hut, Shea looked over his shoulder to see Mercer’s large and dark browed servant watching them go from the staircase. Shea wished that a shyman of the servant’s size would be going with him, but knew that such luck would only be too good to be true.


The people on the ground level eyed the pair suspiciously as they walked to Shea’s home. It was not every day you could see a red-haired boy pacing along with a wealthy Nurturer clad in silken robes. Shea kept his head low, unused to the attention, but Mercer smiled and waived to those he saw gawking.

“My fame precedes me,” he said to Shea quietly.

“Or your ego,” replied the boy, even quieter.

Shea’s house was just as he left it, but then there was no one to make it otherwise. He didn’t bother warning Mercer about the parent-statues that lie within. Still, he was unsure of what new development he would find, and entered with caution. There could have been a servant of the Shadow, whatever that was, or there could have been some new statue of a person, someone who had come by to see his father and had unknowingly walked into peril. But it was neither of these things that the boy found. There was just the same silence that had been there the night before.

With haste, Mercer found his way around Shea’s home and began packing one of the boy’s knapsacks. Shea watched with interest and confusion as the Nurturer ran from room to room, grabbing food off the shelves and out of the cupboards, stuffing it into the pack without the slightest glance at Shea’s parents. He seemed indifferent to their frozen stares, as though he’d seen this sort of thing many times before.

Mercer then said something about “No time to waste” and Shea found himself being quickly corralled out of the home and down the streets of the Stump. Madam Malwether stared, but said nothing. Many people stared at his burdened back as he passed, but none said anything. Had any of them any idea as to what was happening? Was there anyone who felt afraid as he did? Or were they all like sheep waiting for the wolf, with Shea acting as their shepherd?

In less than a day, his parents had been petrified, he’d gone to the Upper Eaves and enlisted the help of a forgetful Nurturer, discovered his whole world was falling down about him, and now felt suddenly aware that the lives of every shyman, woman and child now rested squarely on his scrawny shoulders. A life that had been so mundane had become unbelievable in the blink of an eye.

They stopped just shy of the Gates. Mercer put his fat hands on Shea’s shoulders. “Keep walking west, find shelter at night, and be swift. I’ll see you soon.” The Nurturer turned and began to walk away, but Shea stopped him.

“Mercer,” he said, “why don’t we just tell them?”


“All of them. If they knew, maybe there’d be an easy way to prevent it. Or we could just leave, leave the Stump and the shadow. Leave all of it behind.”

The nurturer shook his head. “If we told one person, he or she would probably be calm and rational, just as you have been. Two people would probably be just dandy. But if you tell the masses that their death is near, that there is some unseen force beating at the door... everything rational flies out the window.”

Shea hung his head. He knew what Mercer said was true.

“Don’t be afraid, Shea,” the nurturer comforted. “Some paths are only big enough for one. But just because they are narrow, does not mean they come to a dead end. Go on now, be quick.”

Shea nodded, forced a hopeful smile, and was off walking as though it were nothing more than a stroll in the afternoon. He wished he had the map, but wishing is not as useful as doing so he just walked west like he’d been told, barely even turning to keep from running into obstacles. The great expanse of the wood opened as the Stump shrank into the distance behind him. All was quiet but the soft crunch of earth beneath his feet. It was as if every living thing in the forest had turned its attention on him, this tiny creature slowly making his way alone and quiet, away from the only home he’d ever known.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Alterac Valley: How Come No One Told Me?

I'm going to seem like a total dork when I say this to all the WoW vets out there, but I haven't played Alterac Valley since it was 1st put into the game. I hated it then. It was a slow crawl of a PvP game that most people focused on the PvE part of. Now admittedly, these days it's less about fighting each other and more about racing towards a finish line, but good god is it quick and worth the time invested.

In about an hour and a half worth of AV-ing, 3 or 4 matches, I had 1600 honor. I barely killed a horde. I ranked 3rd and 4th each time in the Alliance damage meters and we won all but one of the matches. I can't imagine how the honor would flow on an AV Sponsored Weekend. That goal of getting my GM gear (maybe soon Arena Season 1 gear?) is looking more and more achievable every day. I have 5 grand now, after about 4 days worth of BGs, and I haven't even been trying that hard. Give me a good open Saturday, and I'll get 10k in day. :)

The question is, do I go for the GM crossbow? Or do I try to find a casual Arena team that needs an undergeared hunter and save up for one of the awards there? I think I could be splitting my time up if I do that, but then again Arena matches only take a few minutes, so getting the minimum 10 won't be so hard. Bah, I can't even find people to group with on my server, what makes me think I'll find people to Arena with?

Maybe I'll start recruiting folks for the guild, and also start looking for people to Arena with that mirror my schedule and relaxed habits. That could work, even if it takes some time. In the in-between I'll keep hording up my honor. Rumor has it that when Season 3 hits, the S1 gear will be on sale for honor at 15k a piece. That really isn't too bad... and S1 gear, despite being outdated by then is a SIGNIFICANT upgrade for my wee little hunter.

I recently used the site Gankfest to compared my stats with other hunters... yeah. I am 14th on my server for Mana Regen, and that's the only time I rank. My AP isn't even over 1000 yet as a HUNTER. So I'm quite under-geared. Still, according to the AV damage meters, I'm able to do some pretty decent sustained DPS so I can hardly wait until I get a shiny new xbow in my hands to whomp things with.

And on a final WoW note for today, my friend Brendon recently re-subbed to WoW and is working on finally cracking his Pally to 60, where he'll buy the expansion if he makes it to that point. It's nice to have a RL friend back in the game, since the husband-wife team I mentioned before is MIA because of moving and whatnot lately. Makes the game a bit less lonely. Now, if only I can get him to just push that Pally into Ret-Spec and suck it up to 60 and 70, we'll be set.

Cheers and have a good weekend, peoples!

I'm off to see "Across the Universe" tonight, the new Beatles/60s era love story musical that is getting everything from raves to razzies. I'll probably report on it as soon as I formulate my own opiniones about it. I'm hoping for the best, as I love the director's previous work on Titus (the Shakespeare film with Anthony Hopkins, not the comedian sitcom).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How Do You Convince the Unwilling?

I am part of a 3 person guild in WoW. A husband-wife team, and myself. Before I left the game back in March there were about 6 people in the guild. We liked to keep it small. I want to keep it small still... just not so small. I'm 70 now, so is the wife, but the husband just as well may never get there as he's very much an altist.

I find myself craving 5-man dungeons, or at least people who are on often enough to pre-make some BG matches with, and I certainly don't want to leave these 2 people who have been with me in WoW since early 2006. I've already left a lot of friends behind when I chose to transfer servers when Dragonblight was up for transfers. These guys are part of the few who followed me and are still playing the game.

Pirates does not come out for 3 months. I am likely going to be playing WoW for that long. I don't want a huge commitment, but I want more people to play with. Only problem is... the hubby and wife don't seem to want to invite more folks. I don't blame them. We've seen our fair share of drama over the past 2 years. But I don't want tons of people. I just want a few that are on often enough to play with.

What's a dwarf to do?

Warhammer Devs Want You To Play Hellgate

From the Warhammer Online Dev Chat last night...

"Question: What game would your recommend playing untill Warhammer Online is released?

Josh Drescher: Hellgate. OH WAIT, you probably can't yet. Hellgate is so very good. Also, hungry Hungry Hippos.
Adam Gershowitz: shhh Josh NDA
Josh Drescher: I mean...uh..."

And so do I. Go pre-order, now. Every other MMO and its brother is getting delayed, Tabula Rasa is good but not worth your hard-earned cash... but Hellgate is bliss. It's not Diablo 3... it's Hellgate 1. And you need to play it. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Gods and Heroes On Indefinite Hold

By way of the Escapist, Co-Founder of Perpetual had this to say on the move:

"Loyal and faithful community members and Beta testers, thank you for your support, help, and understanding during the Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising development process.

The development team established some very lofty and ambitious goals when the initial work was started on Gods & Heroes. Recently, we took a step back to evaluate the competitive landscape, the game's current state, and the overall goals for our organization. And while we are truly proud of and pleased with what we have created in Gods & Heroes, we also realize that achieving the level of quality and polish that we are committed to will take a significant investment.

The Perpetual team is faced with a unique challenge of simultaneously developing both Gods & Heroes and Star Trek Online in addition to growing our Online Game Platform business. After assessing all of Perpetual's opportunities, we have made the decision to put the development of Gods & Heroes on indefinite hold.

I want to express my overwhelming gratitude to the community, engineers, designers, artists, animators, and the game services team for the support and effort that has gone into Gods & Heroes.

Moving forward, we're shifting our collective focus, resources and development efforts to Perpetual's Platform Services division and Star Trek Online, thereby ensuring that the game lives up to the high level of expectation set by the dedicated Star Trek fan base.

Again, I would personally like to thank all of the Gods & Heroes supporters who have been with us from the beginning. Hopefully, your continued support will be as valuable to our future endeavors as it was with Gods & Heroes..

Vade in pace,
Chris McKibbin"

Well, there goes one of the PvE games I was most looking forward to. It appears that the company is adjusting to developing their 2 MMOs, and funding themselves. They have new investors, and it looks like basically they were forced to choose between the games. And while GnH was all but bug-squashed and ready to go, which do you think stands a better chance at success in today's marketplace?

An entirely PvE game with pokemon like pet warriors, but no crafting, no PvP, no anything else.

Or a game based on one of the world's most beloved Sci Fi operas?

Yeah... one can easily see why Perpetual put GnH on hold. It's a shame, as it always is when you see new blood perish before it even gets into our mitts, but ultimately one hopes it'll prove a great choice for Perpetual. Out of the two games, STO is by far the more ambitious, and likely will be way more "stand-out" than a Roman WoW with Pocket Monsters.

I'm sad, as it was one of my most anticipated games a few months back, but having been in the beta, I can't say I'm surprised at the move either, if you catch my drift. It's just got to suck for all the people who worked on it for the past three years though, all that content, all those hours of work... flushed down the tubes.

Here's hoping it one day sees the light of day, new and improved. Good luck, PE. Make us proud with STO.

Flying Mounts Are Very Helpful

Here's a few shots of Pickles as I've taken to calling him. He's a handy dandy beast, and one that must have a strong back to bear carrying my fat dwarven arse. But let's leave my diet out of it. Just thought I'd show you some "Look Ma!" type pics from this past weekend when I got my little gryphon.

Next stop, Epic Nether Ray flying mount in oh... 2 months or so of questing, hehe. 5000 gold is a lot of time questing dailies and whatnot, and so is Exalted with the Skyguard. So it's either going to be this Nether Ray or a plain old Swift Gryphon. Whichever comes 1st, Exalted or 5000 gold. Wish me luck in attaining this goal before I set sail in January with PotBS.

Statistical Fact: 90% of any media form is crap.

I'm sort of typing from the hip here, because I feel like I've accidentally angered a friend and I'm writing this in response to that feeling. So bear with typos and whatnot, please.

WoW now has a Toyota Tacoma commercial. And it got Keen really sick to his stomach, and me really excited. Our two opinions? He’s worried that it means WoW’s getting too much exposure these days, and that it means there’ll be nothing but WoW-like games to come.

My opinion is that with or without the Toyota commercial, we are going to get a shit ton of WoW-like games. Before the Toyota commercial, it was the South Park episode. The game has 9 million subscribers. It ranks as the most successful MMO to date in US culture. OF COURSE PEOPLE WILL COPY IT. Regardless of any commecial. Just as wow copied EQ1’s model.

But, with all the success of wow, we’re seeing unprecedented spending on MMOs from investors and game developers. For every 5 wow-clones we will see over the next 10 years, we’ll see 2 or 3 new and exciting games. Because this is exactly how the fledgling videogame industry rose to being so successful over 20 years ago. It was dying before Mario and the NES hit store shelves, and when the little plumber started his hopping, gaming "arrived". Soon after plenty of imitators came, but plenty more new and unique games came to fruition, and here we are over 2 decades later, and gaming is doing things that many of us only ever dreamed of as youth.

Is there stagnation? Of course. Just as 90% of the film industry is crap, and 90% of literature is crap, so too is 90% of gaming. Diamonds are rare. Nothing will stop a flood of crap from being fed to us consumers, because when something sells its our countries nature to ride it hard until we stop buying it. The key is to knowing what’s crap and knowing what’s worth your cash. Not to mention, “worth” is relative. I’d never buy PS3 right now, because it’s just not “worth” it to me. But to some, it’s the be all end all... but that's beside the point.

I know why Keen's worried, and it's not that I don't have similar fears. But it's also not like I haven't gotten used to this cycle in our culture. This is how it works. Capitalism at its finest. Love it or hate it, we have to deal with it. Again, the trick is in weeding through it all.

Now if only I could get Keen to see this and not take offense when I said his viewpoint of the Toyota commercial was elitist.

Doh! Sometimes I type before I think. Sorry, Keen. :)