Friday, June 29, 2007

Everyone's doing it...

Thanks to my fellow bloggers for pointing this little guy out to me.

Parents, keep your kids off my blog if you know what's good for them.

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Maybe Jack Thompson will come ban me, now. Or the ESRB. Apparently I say ass a lot, and said kill once. I'm a BAAAAD man.

Juicy Tidbits from LotRO Euro Dev-Chat

Turbine's devs took some time out to give the Euros some answers last night. I'll go through and highlight a few of the juicy bits. There's quite a lot of good stuff coming down the pipe it seems. Questions are in bold, the answers are italicized.

Hi, I have a very important question here! I realise it will be a future expansion/cotnent update, but is anything special planned for helm's deep, with it being a pivotal battle in the books, and a major part of the overall story?

Helm's Deep is a pivotal battle of that there is no doubt. Rest
assured that when we get there we will do our best to make the experience unique and awe-inspiring. Tens and I have bgeun to talk about how we can bring many of the large battles that exist throughout the war of the ring to the Online version of the game and we will be exploring these options as we move forward with development.

As with any type of development like this, it will take time, so we are not ready to commit to any hard dates, but we are thinking about this for the future.

This was the 1st question of the night, and it right away made me suddenly go, "I'm starting to wish I would have gotten the lifetime sub..." Helm's Deep, both in movie form and the novels is one of the most riveting and intense battles I've ever had the delight to be entertained by. I just hope they are indeed able to do it justice. Onto the next question...

When will the next large Region be released, e.g. Rohan/Gondor?

Hey there TRicKey! we've got some exciting plans coming up for the next year and beyond. We've just launched Evendim, our first major landscape addition. You can expect to see some new additions to the landscape in the fall (though not on the scale of Evendim) and a new region following that a couple of updates later.

I can't go into specifics just yet, as we are still in the stages of planning but we are very interested in continuing to expand out landscape.

Well, looks like Turbine's promise to keep new goodies coming is true. I wonder when in the fall we can expect the new stuff? I read in the Steefel interview over on CVG that they'll be opening more of Annuminas in the next update... Oh! Here's some housing tidbits put together for your reading pleasure. It's coming... and soon!

I would like to know how the player housing will be made. Do you have to build the house? And will there be new professions to do so?

Hi Chanelle! You won't have to build the house, but you'll be able to purchase it - and decorate it too!

at first I would like to thank you for this great game and the great experience we all have with it. Now the question will we get kith-housing too and what will it be like?

Hey Bronnwart. We are currently hoping to bring Kinship Houses online along with our Housing System in the fall.

If all goes well, you should see them then.

When will the Housing system released?
Just kidding
* LOTRO_Patience smacks Tens.
Don't listen to him.
* LOTRO_Patience mutters something about "devs" under her breath.
Housing is for Book 11 in the autumn.

That's some good news right there. :) I want a house in Middle-earth so bad it's killing me... literally, my doctor says that if I don't have one by January I'll likely croak. Thank God this patch is schedule for Autumn. :) Here's some goodies about Monster Play in the next Update, Chapter 10.

Question: What improvements to monster play have there been thought up for future content?

Enhancements to monster play are ever evolving. In the next update, you will see the inclusion of trolls on the monster side of the battle and rangers on the player side of the battle. The losing side will have the ability to get these elite units into the field and in early testing we have found that people are really enjoying the trolls and rangers.

Add to that some major changes to the dynamic nature of the Ettenmoors and you will hopefully soon see a nice improvement to things for the monster faction and a little more dread cralwing into the hearts of Freeps everywhere.

I just mentioned this over on Keen and Graev's blog. The system, from the sounds of it, is just like the one in place in City of Heroes. When one side is losing badly, they get help in the form of strong NPCs. I can't wait to see it in action. Should help the Monsters that always find themselves getting whooped despite their numbers.

I mentioned a few posts back that there was supposed to be some new gameplay in Chapter 10... here's a hint:

ive read on the forum about the new gameplay additiona in book 10. Is there any other information on that?

I think if we said anything more than we have already that response would be most fowl. Rhidden gets the nod for that line, not me.
But... it'll be really egg-citing.

Chicken-breeding? Kick the chicken? Cock-fights? Or what? Whatever it is, it doesn't sound that exciting for my tastes... I'm a Vegan. :P

And lastly for this highlight reel, my favorite part...

Is there anything likely to help the people who don't have enough time to find groups, or "gods forbid", enjoy soloing, to get through the xp wastelands that is the 45-50 zone?

From a content standpoint, our next two updates are focused on getting more 40+ solo content into the game, we hear you. :-)

Huzzah! Now I hope it takes me a bit to get to 40-ish and that the next update is out before I do. :)

There's plenty more in there too, for you all to read. Things like fishing still being made and that it WILL come, campfires being usable for cooking, crafters will be able to make decorations for the houses, more bank storage space, metalsmiths will be able to make a field repair item to repair on the go, and so on and so forth.

The more I experience of Turbine, the more I think they really listen to their playerbase's wants. Consider me impressed, and fully won-over as a customer if their promises are held.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Uh-oh, LotRO is Just Like Any Other MMO!

As Tobold has pointed out recently, apparently the higher-end levels of my current game, LotRO are just like any other MMO. That is to say, there's a fair amount of grinding at the level cap.

Who'd have thunk it?

Come on people. It's just now going into it's 3rd full month. What MMO has EVER had a greatly developed elder game in it's 3rd month of existence? Hell what MMO has EVER had a greatly developed elder game, period?

I can't think of one game that has ever been able to nail the gameplay at the max level. A few have come close. EQ's AA points. DAoC's RvR. But ultimately, the best way for a game to stay fresh is new quests and content, and yes more levels. With these, usually in the form of expansions, you don't feel stuck at a wall anymore, you don't feel like grinding mobs or dungeons or PvP is your only recourse, and you go along your merry way leveling once more... and then you hit the wall again and complain about what sucks and the cycle continues forever.

GET OVER IT. I'm not just saying this because I'm a fan of LotRO. I realize the game has its own share of faults. Hell I'm an early adopter of Auto Assault too, and even with its faults, I still love the core of the game. But as players of these MMOs we have to realize that the task of creating a game that meaningfully and fulfilling GOES ON FOREVER is a nigh unthinkable task. And yet we will certainly bitch and moan when X developer is incapable of creating Y content for Z players fast enough.

My advice? Stop complaining. Offer your suggestions tastefully to the development team via the forums, and take a break if you're dissatisfied with the game at the level cap. I know what it's like to hit that wall. We all do. But theorycrafting will only get us, the players, so far. What's a better idea is to find something else to waste time on, like a new game or a new class, or something that involves the dreaded outdoors or physical activity.

I'll stop ranting.

My point is, that until code writes itself, we're always going to be faced with these walls in MMOs. Learn to live with them or find a new hobby. Because it's probably going to be a while before a company nails the "end" of the game. It's fact we must live with and leave the poor horse alone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Level 30 and a Horse's Ass

As I had hoped I was able to log onto LotRO for about an hour or so last night, enough time to clean up a few old group quests and hit level 30. It's happening a lot faster than I expected, the leveling. Without even really trying, I've been raising a couple levels each week, I'm guessing because of the rest experience. I'm not complaining though. It's very likely that the rest experience is the only thing keeping me from having to grind a few levels here or there.

There's still a lot of solo content, but it's getting dwarfed by group quests right now... it's sort of like the late 40s gap one runs into in WoW with solo quests. Only in WoW you can travel all over, and while it's time consuming, you still can find solo quests to push you to Ungoro Crater and Western Plaguelands level. I'm hoping the same is true of LotRO right now. That once I push into Evendim in a level or two, I'll be greeting with enough to get me into my 40s at least, and hopefully by then it'll be Update number 2 with more content for the 40-50 bracket.

Time will tell.

But anyway, back to the matter at hand. I hit 30, ponied it back to Bree and got me a new skill. Can't recall the name right now, but it's a 30 minute cooldown heal, that converts half of my power into morale. Certainly will come handy in dire situations. But the 30 minutes seems a bit excessive since in LotRO 30 minutes is about 60 fights or so if you're in a hostile area (30 seconds-ish per fight depending on the strength and number of the mobs).

I shouldn't really complain though. The fact that I even got a heal at level 20 that I can use every 30 seconds, plus one at 30 that I can use every 30 minutes, is such a nice feature that I should be thankful, and I am. Turbine went out of there way to make most classes soloable, even giving them all some form of combat heal or another. It's very nice.

Anyway, after getting the skill I received the level 30 Champion quest, which had me head back into Ost Guruth in the Lone-Lands to talk to a fellow champion there. It seems the orcs holding Ost Cyrn really pissed the guy off, and now he's put it to me (and him also) to go there and whoop the crap out of them, and reap the glory.

What I dug about this quest? Private solo-instance.

What I undug? So short it made me cry.

Here's the run-down of what happened. We "ported" to the base of the Ost Cyrn stairs, fought our way through some easy green and light blue orcs, took a rest at the top, fought more easy orcs, and then fought a dark blue signature, and a white signature. The last fight would have been tough if the NPC guy wasn't there to help me, but for the most part it was an absolute walk in the park.

Cool for the theatrics, but lame compared to the search and destroy quest at level 15. My only wish is that there were more solo instances available for repeating. I could do the lower levels ones from the epic quest line now, but aside from trash loot, there's little to no reason. I'd like to have a few solo instances, as EQ2 has, that could be repeated just for the fun and experience of it, even if only once a day.

There's something very fun about instanced scripted encounters, and EQ2 was smart enough to capitalize on this for the solo-ers, and I think LotRO's guys can see that too. I mean, in EQ2 they were so popular people were spending all their time in them, apart from the real world, just leveling up through the dungeons. I'm not saying I want that. A once a day or every 2 day lockout is fine with me, but being able to go into a private encounter like that is one of the best aspects of LotRO. I'd love to see them do more with it than just dungeons and epic chapter quests.

Anywho, below you'll see some pics of me in action last night, as well as the titular horse's ass. It's a damn fine ass... er sunset, I must say.

Getting ready to kick some orc booty. Need to smoke before the battle sometimes, you know?

Maybe he won't realize I just stabbed him in the back? I mean, if he would just stay out of my way, it wouldn't be a problem... stupid humans.

And they say there's no magic in LotRO. How do you explain the laser-beams then?

What Mosal Ruk didn't know is that he was fighting naked. Apparently that's not safe, as he quickly found out when my axe gave him a 2nd and 3rd buttcrack.

Lastly, some Palomino ass for all you furries out there. All kidding aside, I love the skies in LotRO. They're soooo purdy.

New Colors, Yay!

The black and white photo looked a little out of sorts, so I changed the color scheme to a cooler shade of blues. Let me know what you think. I like it better, myself.

Oh and I hit 30 last night in LotRO. Report on that achievement is forthcoming. With pretty pictures of a horse's ass and the ass that rides it, to boot.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bildo's a Model!

My wife is currently enrolled in a B&W photography class and forced me to be one of her subjects the other night. I expected horrid results. Instead, this has got to be one of the best pictures of me I've ever seen... it actually makes me look... you know... not bad. :)

Pays to have a good photographer as a wife. I added the pic to the nav-bar, so people can picture my revolting visage while they read my ramblings. I was going to upload a full-size one, but then you run the risk of getting a face-full of Bildo. And that's not so good.

Couple Bits of LotRO Expansion Info

There's a couple of teensy bits of info on the next two game updates flying around. 1st and the more distant (before the end of the year, hopefully) is Moria. Word is, it's the next full area to come into the game, and hopefully will make in time for New Years. There's little info on it, just that it's the next full-fledged "zone" coming to LotRO.

For a more immediate update, we have CVG's little article on Book 10, an update scheduled for the Fall (likely early fall, by my guess).

Apparently with the next update there'll be some sort of new gameplay type... lord knows what that means. Could mean anything from Faction grinding to "crafting raids" some of the developers have mentioned in the past. Maybe some form of new quest-type?

Who knows... aside from Turbine. We'll probably hear more in the next month or two, maybe less. So keep those eyes open and pointed on the VAULT.

EDIT: Phantom of the MMO over on the VN boards pointed out that it could very well be what many of us have asked for for a while: fishing. If so, it had better help cooking. I'd actually do my cooking if I didn't have to buy all the ingredients all the time (I'm a tinker).

Getting a little bit scared...

Okay, so I've nearly hit level 30 in LotRO as of last night. I'm actually less than 1,000 experience away from doing so. But, as the topic says, I are skeered. I have over 30 quests in my log, and of all of them, about 5 are solo-able according to the descriptions.

That's 25+ of my quests marked as group. Now, I had never reached this far into the game in beta, even during my 7+ months of testing. I was religiously an early content tester due to the wipes and getting married, school, and whatnot. So I took reports of solo-able content dipping off around 30 with a grain of salt. I thought people were just being "people". Now, I'm there, where they were... and I see why they were so worried.

I've yet to dip into Evendim, and I've still got some solo-able content to finish in the North Downs, but as a primarily solo-style player, I'm very scared that Evendim won't be enough to keep me moving brisquely without grinding on some mobs. I guess I will have a chance to work on those deeds after all, if I do hit a wall. That's one bright spot.

In other news, I tried out a Warlock in EQ2 last night... holy crap what a nuker. I'm only level 7 sure, but if the general trend of this class keeps up, the Warlock of EQ2 has got to be one of the most potent damage dealers in any game I've played. They were low-level enemies sure, but mobs were dropping often with one hit from concussive blast.

I can certainly see grinding with a Warlock to do some money-gaining and leveling as a viable playstyle. Not to mention being able to complete quests way faster than my Necromancer or Defiler were. I expected a jump in damage... but I guess not quite so much. My friend and I were rolling each time one bolt of concussive strike insta-killed an enemy.

The downside? My month sub of EQ2 is up in a couple weeks. Then I'll have to choose whether or not to spend 15 bucks on another month where I'll only be playing 1 or 2 nights a week at best... why did it have to be such a good game? WHY!!??

Flying Lab Inks a Deal with SOE

Developers of the upcoming MMO, "Pirates of the Burning Sea" have inked a deal with Sony Online Entertainment both parties have announced today ( - has the details).

How's that for typical reporter jargon?

Basically what's happening is that FL has at long last signed the deal that will bring the game to our PCs and get us playing. I know, I know, a lot of people would have you believe that SOE is the tortured spawn of Satan, but truth be told there's no better deal for the life of the game that we could have hoped for.

SOE will be handling the launcher, the retail distribution, billing, and advertising. Nothing with the actual way the game is played or works. That's specifically outlined in the deal. Sony's handling just the business end, in other words.

And what FL gets is a top-notch Online Games company to champion their title to the masses. With Sony's money and help, FL will be able to reach more people, do more with the game, and market it better than they ever could themselves.

I know the stigma about SOE, stemming directly from people who still hold hatred for the SWG debacle, but I don't care. To me that's just sour grapes a lot of people hold on the account of Sony when the order was really placed for the NGE by Lucasarts. In my eyes, Sony's not done anything to deserve the stink people give them.

So I, for one, am glad to see one of my most anticipated games get themselves a publisher... now open the floodgates and let me in, already.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not Leaving the Vault...

I thought I was. I thought that when I stepped down from the ASM position, I was to be banished. But I'm happy to report that Loktofeit has let me stay on to do what I can during the school months over the course of the next year. I may run an event here or there when I can, I'll be doing the Topic of the Week still, as well as weekly Kinship Crier e-mails, but that's all I'm obligated to keep up with on a weekly basis, and that makes me happy. Because any more than that would likely drive me nuts at this point.

So there ya go. Not "leaving" the Vault, just going into the shadows a bit more, basically continuing what I've been doing the past month.

Yay! That makes me less glum. :)

Interview with Meghan "Patience" Rodberg Up!

Head on over to the Vault to check out my "exclusive" up-close interview with Patience, the Community Manager of LotRO. Click the LINK!

Patience has got to be one of the nicest people I've ever dealt with from any MMO. She's one of those amazing few CMs who actually cares about her relationship with the community and goes out of her way to read PMs, e-mails, and whatnot. So do yourself a favor and go read up!

The Riches in LotRO and a Salute to the Vault

Not much to report really from the weekend. I've still yet to dig into the content in Evendim, as I'm more intent on finishing up the soloable content in the North Downs and Lone-Lands first. Every time I finish one quest a new one pops up, and not only that but apparently there's one more quest hub in Lone-Lands that I hadn't been to yet, involving Earth-Kin or something along those lines. So I'm off to there tonight to see what I can dig up.

There's one thing I've noticed in LotRO though lately, as to how I play it now compared to how I played it before. I don't seem to really care about the Deeds all that much. I used to actually specificaly go out and work on them, but now as I get higher into the levels, the kill-deeds requirements are more and more insane. I suppose they're meant for something to work on solo when you're at the level cap, and for that I thank Turbine. But where before I would see myself completing deeds as I went along without a problem, now I actually have to make a concerted effort at them or they'll just pass by unattained.

I still get the quest related ones, but some of the best traits are the kill or exploration types. So I'm going to have to come finish them sooner or later in order to be the best Champ I can be. Right now though, I'm more intent on leveling up and exploring the world. I'll come back to do the deeds I want later on, I figure.

On a more optimistic note: I'm now less than one gold away from my mount cost. And I've still got 6 levels to gain. It pays to ignore crafting and fight that urge to buy at the AH. It pays really, really well. Just the other day, I put up a decent 2 handed axe without a buyout and the bids climbed to over 500 silver for a mid-20s item. Made my day.

I'm missing out on my jewellry making for now, but I'm more concerned about the mount I'll be needing in a few levels. I figure I'll make sure I have the 4+ gold 1st and then start spending the necessary money and time to raise myself as a Tinker.

I'm getting plenty of good quest baubles as it is for now.

And one last note. As the folks at the Vault already know, tomorrow is my last day of work on LotRO Vault. I started back in December, guns blazing, spirits high, and ready to take on the world... then I graduated college, re-enrolled with a new major... and swiftly got my ass handed to me by responsibilities. So it's with a heavy heart that I'm taking my leave from the Vault, and I do wish all those guys well. I'm still Kin'd with them and I have a great relationship with everyone there, so who knows, I may be able to contribute still once in a while as a volunteer.

But for now, school has to take precedence, and so it goes. At least now, I'll have a wee bit more time to play LotRO and report on my adventures here while I'm bored at the full-time job.

That's what blogs are for, right?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Don't Panik Strip!

Every Sunday from here on out the wife and I will be posing new strips over on our joint-blog, "Don't Panik" ( So head on over to the SITE for deep commentary on pirates versus ninjas, dogs, and urination... all in 4 simple panels!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Videogames = Art. Censorship need not apply.

I was going to reply to Trinity's post on the whole Rockstar-Manhunt 2 debacle going on right now but for some reason I can't get my work connection to let me. So I'll paste my response here.

You see this week's been yet another rough one for Rockstar and Take-Two as another one of their games is going under heavy fire from ratings boards and pre-emptive reaction parents. Subsequently, due to several European countries banning the game before release, and Nintendo and Sony blocking the release of it in the US because of the AO rating the game is set to receive, Take-Two and Rockstar have decided to delay the game to decide the next course of action (likely altering the code to make it less violent).

Anyway, here's what I had to say on the whole thing but couldn't post on

To be perfectly fair, Trin, Take-Two and Rockstar don't want the games marketed towards kids. They're fine with a Mature rating which requires all stores to check and make sure the person buying the item is over the age of 17. I'm all for ratings on games as they're necessary for parents who actually care what their kids play and are exposed to (too many don't).

But what's going on here is merely the ratings board taking a shot at Rockstar. Right now, on my Wii, I've been playing Scarface. There are more f-bombs, limb dismemberments by way of chainsaw, and blood spatters from bullet wounds to the groin and face, not to mention that the entire game has you pushing cocain... and yet it receives a Mature rating only. It's by far one of the worst games along the lines of graphic material that has ever come out... and it's released and not made a deal over.

But yet Rockstar, whose games apparently cause children to do bad things (sarcasm) gets picked on with every game release by Jack Thompson and other absolute morons who have no clue what they're talking about.

Manhunt one was violent, but it had a story to follow and plenty of reasoning behind the killing. It was like a psychological along the lines of SAW. Manhunt 2 has even more of a story, with you trying to escape a government testing facility by any means possible to see your family again... even if it means killing everything in your path as an experimental pharmaceutical messes with your head (which was part of the government testing). It's a thriller movie in game form.

What I'm getting at, is that the content in this game can be no worse than movies like GrindHouse, Kill Bill, Hostel, or any other horror movie. The ratings are supposed to be there to guide parents to making informed decisions, not limiting the artists who make the games because some close-minded people see graphical violence and immediately think of Harris and Klebold.

Every form of art has to go through this sort of wretched blame placed on it for the downfall of society. Jazz, then Rock and Roll, then Metal, now videogames. I just hope people come around and realize that what affects our children is our responsibility not that of the people making games.

Simply said, if you don't want your child being exposed to it, do your homework and pay attention. Don't go blaming a videogame company, or a rockband, or an author, or a film maker for the inadequacies in one's self (not directed at you at all, but being such a liberal these topics set me off).

You see, no matter what you want to say about the content of the game, the fact of the matter is that they fall under the same rights as any other form of art. AO rating or Mature rating, it shouldn't matter. Let the company release the damn game. I'm all for the rating system in terms of helping it inform parents about their purchases, but please for the sake of my mentality refrain from using the system as a form of "blacklisting" or censorship.

People amaze me. They really do.

EDIT: As an amendment, I'd also like to point out that neither Nintendo of Sony allow AO games to be published on their systems, so the ESRB rating effectively disallows the distribution of Manhunt 2. If for one second you think the ESRB didn't realize this, you're out of your gord. Say what you will about violent games, or whether or not you think Manhunt's premise is viable as art or entertainment as opposed to saddism... the fact still remains that should be released as per the rights of the game-makers. But unless they change the content now or win an appeal, it won't be.

Getting Drunk in the Shire

My dwarf got sloshed last night. Begud Firestone of the Lonely Mountain cannot hold his liquor. Let me explain.

It's Summer Festival time in Middle-Earth (LotRO, duh), and that means a few things: fireworks, pipeweed, dancing, and of course... lots of beer. There are several very cool quests related to the festival in each of the races' starting zones: Fairgrounds in Bree, Inn in Thorin's Hall, Duillond for the Elves, and the Party Tree in Hobbiton for the wee folk. Each one of these zones has a dancing quest that plays like a simple game of "Simon says", after which you earn that starting race's special dance e-mote. For instance, after doing the Elven dance quest in Duillond, I was able to perform a special balletic dance by typing /dance_elf. These special e-motes are well worth the price of time and using the swift travel options to hop from starting city to starting city. I don't want to post screens of the dance, because they're better seen in action... especially the Hobbit one.

There's also a quest to gather fireworks from each of the festival centers and turn them in which wields a very nice (but only one time use) firework. It's really a waste of time to be honest. I would recommend against it unless they change the firework to endless use.

Then of course for all those farmers and smokers, there are these sort of scavenger hunts for items that when completed yield several special pipeweed seeds and some pipeweed for smoking. Worth the time if you're into that sort of thing.

Lastly... there's the Tavern Crawl. Basically what you're tasked with, beginning at the tents by the Party Tree, is drinking your way around the Shire... Speedy Gonzales style.

You have to drink 6 beers in one minute's time at the Party Tree, then run all the way to Brockenborings' Inn, drink 6 more before 5 minutes runs out, then run all the way south and east to Stock and drink 6 more before 5 minutes runs out, and you're off again to Frogmorton to the west in under 3 minutes including another 6 beers, and then to Hobbiton for 6 more, and lastly to Michel Delving for 6 more... it was here in MD, that I failed. I was so drunk that I couldn't see straight to find the guy hiding in the back room at the Bird 'n Baby Inn. I'll be attempting it again tonight, because the reward for completion is one of the best titles ever: "Tavern League Member". I will not stop until I am a member.

Anyway, I've pasted some screens from the run below. You can see from them just how messed up your little character can get.

This was after the 1st two runs. Things were starting to get a bit hazy.

The Green Dragon Inn in Bywater, I don't remember it being part of the run, but I was a little under the weather by then as you can see.

Inside the Green Dragon... I guess I was there? It was getting very hard to grab the mugs as you can see.

Believe it or not, this was with the camera centered on my character. Apparently my camera man was feeling the effects too by then.

This last one was in Michel Delving. You may be able to tell by the statue in the background, but by this point my drunken status effect said "Seek a Minstrel Immediately!" so I'm a bit foggy on the subject.

So that was my night in the Shire. I didn't get the title... but after some tylenol and pepto-bismol I'll be back out there to try again this weekend. Rehab? Not this dwarf, I don't quit that easy. :) Here's a pretty shot of Duillond to help your eyes get back to normal vision after those drunken shots.

Pirates of the Burning Sea - PvP awesomeness?

In all my anticipation I've been grinding around the internet looking for any and all info on the game. And what better place that the game's website itself? A very helpful PR person (thank you, Theresa) pointed me to this dev journal on the subject of PvP in PotBS. There dozens upon dozens of things to learn from this one article, so make sure to take the time to read it. It really enlightened me on the subject, and I'm amazed that I had not read it before. I'm not the world's biggest PvP fanatic, but I like to take part from time to time, and what's more I like it when the game lets me choose when I want to... as PotBS is going to.

Let's pick out a few gems from the journal and talk about them, shall we?

There are several "status" types any port in the seas can be under. From normal (non-pvp) to contention (full-pvp, any nation can attack any other nation). At 1st glance I was worried that the whole game world would ultimately be put under PvP mode then, leaving my chicken-poop arse to run with my tail between my legs my whole sea-life. Thankfully this isn't the case. From the journal...

A given nation can only push three ports into Piracy at a time. Therefore, there can only be at most 12 hotspots in the open sea at any given time. Unrest points also decay each pulse. The current decay rate in the beta is 600 -> 0 points in 24 hours. In order for the state to change the points have to decay past a buffer (100 points in the beta). For example, a port enters Piracy when 500 points are hit, but won’t leave Piracy until the points decay down below 400 points.

The next threshold is for the “Civil Unrest” state (this is a brand new state not yet in beta, but the limit will be 700 points). Once a port hits this state a second inner PvP hotspot is set up around the port. A player entering this hotspot will be in full PvP, meaning any nation can attack any other nation.

The aforementioned points are attained by sinking NPC ships near a port. As in, if you're near a French port, sinking French ships will add unrest points for that port. The owning nation of that port, the French could fight this "unrest" by sinking opposing nations' ships outside their port.

Without getting into too much detail (if you want that, read the article over there as they deserve your patronage!), what this system ends up doing is creating an ever-shifting world of warfare on the open seas. When you log off there might be naval battles in one port, but when you log on next they'll likely be elsewhere... or maybe they'll be owned by pirates because they've taken over the port. But ports are never owned permanently. Through the "Victory System", every so often a nation will accrue enough "victory points" through battling other nations and treaties will be signed and all ports will be returned to their original owners. Here's how that works...

The Server Victory System

This system is the most recent addition to the to the PvP system and, in my opinion, the most exciting. The motivation for the system had to do with the concern of port ownership becoming lopsided. If one nation was really powerful and owned most of the ports it could become frustrating for the other nations. Resetting the state of all the ports would fix lopsidedness, but would be an arbitrary GM decision. However, if we had a game system in place the reset could itself become a game mechanic.

The current server victory system is an attempt to be this game mechanic. The basic goal of each nation is to earn 300 “Victory Points.” Because of initial port imbalances each nation has 20 default points except France which starts with 0 default points. Every week the mission server checks to see if a nation has hit this goal yet (two week delay right after a reset). The nation with the highest point total above the 300 point threshold is declared the victor of the Caribbean and each member of the winning nation is given a “Letter of Marque.” The letters can be turned in for various awesome rewards with special NPCs in the capital cities. Then for 24 hours there is a lock on unrest and all landmark battles are canceled. After that 24 hour period, a treaty notification is sent to the server and all ports are set back to their default owners and all victory points are reset. Finally, the two lowest scoring nations receive a 20 and 10 victory point bonus in the next round. The current victory status of each nation is displayed in the server victory dialog along with a recent history of relevant major game events.

See, my main worry about PotBS was that Pirates would rule the seas and the Brits, French, and Spanish would be vastly outnumbered. Now, that may still end up being the case, but with the above mentioned system, it's only a matter of time in just about any case before treaties are signed and the whole mess gets sorted out. So your port got taken over? That's no big deal. Keep fighting, try to take over another port, and see what happens.

I especially like the part that says the losing nations will have bonus points on the next round. So even if Pirates or Brits end up clobbering the other nations most times, after so many rounds, the other nations could win even thanks to the helping hand of bonus points. Imagine if the poor Alliance had a similar feature in WoW, maybe they wouldn't whine so much (I kid, I kid). And what's more if you'll be getting these letters of marque for being the victorious nation of the Caribbean, which you'll be able to exhange for swag! Yay, swag!

There's plenty more to take from this thing, including the landmark battle system and what happens when pirates capture ports, and in all it seems like one of the most ambitious and well thought out PvP systems ever put forth. I, for one, cannot wait to see it in action. Is it mass invite time yet? Because I'm getting antsy. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Two Games Enter, One Game Leaves

God I loved "Beyond Thunderdome". I don't care what critics and Road Warrior lovers say. Anyway...

I'm still testing the waters of Everquest 2, while forging onward in LotRO with my Champion, Begud (Silverlode server, look me up). The games, for all intents and purposes... are pretty damn similar. In a post WoW MMO world, that doesn't shock me. What shocks me is that I actually want to play them both.

One would think that after 5 years of fantasy online games, I'd be sick to death and not want to log into either. But I'm a sucker for elves and dwarves and whatnot. The main differences for me in my enjoyment of both games are thus:

- LotRO has the lore and the setting I love, coupled with ease of solo-play and plenty of extras to keep me entertained. Also they've got a great young community going. I also love my Champion. He's likely the only class in the game I like, but I <3 him a LOT. His damage happy efforts alone could keep me coming back to whack foozles.

- EQ2 on the other hand doesn't interest me from a setting standpoint, at all. I wasn't into EQ1, so the story of Norrath doesn't really matter to me the way Tolkien's world does. In fact, I doubt any game's settng will stack up to LotRO's for me. But that's besides the point. What does keep me hankering to log into EQ2 is the sheer amount of things one can do. Meaningful crafting, swift leveling, plenty of collection quests, guild leveling, etc and so on and so forth. It's a big bunch of quality content to experience. Oh yeah, and the people in EQ2 are a great bunch just like LotRO.

In short, they're both great. But the main difference is the Lore in LotRO, and the amount of content in EQ2. I'm not sure what my decision will be when I have to choose one next month, but right now I'm leaning towards LotRO. The fun of being there as Middle-Earth opens up and not trying to "catch up" to the expansion in EQ2 is pulling me in that direction.

We shall see. This is Master Blaster, reporting for Bildo's Blog. :)

EDIT: Let's not even get into the fact that Pirates and Gods and Heroes are due out in a couple months. I'm an MMO addict, I'd be lying if I said those two weren't looming over my head this whole time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Domain for Don't Panik!

As I just got done posting over on the strip's blog, the wife and I splurged the 10 dollars and bought the domain name,!

Aside from setting a set schedule of every Sunday for a new strip, not much else is new there. Just make sure you keep supporting us, ya bastadds. :) I kid, I kid.

We'll be trying to get a new site altogether up in the next few months, so stay tuned and keep reading!

Crafting Needs More Crafting

Darren over at Common Sense Gamer has sparked more conversation on a new topic. This time it's on crafting in an MMO. I've posted my thoughts on the issue there, but I liked em so much, I thought I'd repost them here. Let me know what you think.

I think the IDEA of crafting is great. It just needs as much attention as dungeons and combat get, is all. It needs to be made more dynamic and more interesting. Let’s back pedal a bit 1st.

I was playing LotRO the other day, and I’m also playing EQ2 on and off right now. Both have similar systems in just about every way. But one thing, and it’s about harvesting, that stood out to me in LotRO’s crafting was that no matter what I harvest I get something back. No failing to mine something. No failing to gather wood. No failing at all really when it comes to harvesting. Then I played EQ2, and often times you don’t get squat from what you’re harvesting.

My point with this is that there are lots of little things that can be done to make the current crafting game better. Things like the afforementioned gathering fix. Or say that you could name your crafted gear (with filters of course) so that you could make it unique and truly your own. Right now, most of what one makes in a game can be made by just about anyone, making you feel about as “cool” as line manufacturer. But give one the option to name their shiny sword the way they see fit, and suddenly you can put a little character into it.

Going one step further, give a broad range of options for the look of a crafted item. The better someone’s skill at crafting an item, the more options they can choose from for the looks of the item. They could change the hilt, the shape of the blade, or whatnot. More ways to make a crafter feel like they’re actually “crafting” the item would be superb.

And going in a gameplay direction, why not put a little skill into the action of making something? Instead of just a click and point window-based procedure, why not put a little gameplay into it.

My proposition would be to make it somewhat of a rhythm game. Timing the beat of your smith’s hammer with an onscreen display. Harder rhythms for harder items. Special items could be made when a player nails the beats perfectly, with added stats persay. When sewing a robe, the same interface could be used, or even mixing potions. Suddenly what was once a very non-interactive “activity”, becomes a very interactive game. That *gasp* can take a small bit of skill to be good at, not just diligence in harvesting or buying mats.

Those are just a few of my ideas. What have you to say?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pirates Are Coming...

I was reading and re-reading the developer letter to the community from Flying Lab Software about the pushed-back release date of Pirates of the Burning Sea. In essence, the part of the letter that had me reading over and over was the fact that the beta phase is set to blow up and add a bunch more people at the end of June, as in... this month.

Many of you probably know by now I like Pirates. Pirates > Ninjas. I love the history, the style, the boats, the mystique... the rampant dunkeness. It was a grand ole time. Being down in the Keys, or being in Beaufort N.C. just reminded me of a time long since gone. I'm really looking forward to giving Flying Lab's game a try. Hopefully it'll live up to my expectations.

So be on the lookout, no pun intended, for an invite over the next couple weeks. One of the more intriguing MMOs to come out in a good while is ramping up towards "GOLD". Here's hoping those guys can pull it off.

For everything you ever need to know about the game until we can actually play it, go HERE.

Kendricke's On To Something...

You lot have to read one of his more recent posts called, "Mine Items Are My Life".

In a nutshell, it's an item and equipment system that could very well go a long way towards getting rid of our "wear-it-till-we-out-level-it" system. I hope someone making these games sees it and thinks long and hard on it.

People love to level, and I think they'd love to "level" their weapons as they use them and make them more powerful, tie themselves to a favorite sword or shield, like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, or a Jedi and his lightsaber.

Take a look and tell me the idea doesn't sound awesome.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm Torn

Not like that Natalie Imbrugilaiaighaha lady either.

It's hard, when I have time to worry about it, for me to decide which of 2 games to play now. I'm ejoying EQ2 as much as I'm enjoying LotRO. My friend signed up for EQ2 and is absolutely loving it, as am I, but I also still want to see and do SO much in LotRO.

If I had tons of free time I wouldn't feel so stuck. I don't plan on leaving either, but it's quite hard to choose when I sit down at my desk these days. Do I want to play my little Ratonga or do I want to play my dual-wielding dwarf? Do I want to go into a world and get the lead out with some old-fashioned grinding and questing? Or do I want to go see my favorite fantasy world and take part in the story... while grinding and questing. Do I want magic, or lore? Do I want MonsterPlay or PvE? It's like each game has a bunch of aspects I'd like to see in the other.

I was complaining just back at the end of 2006, and even more recently before LotRO came out, to my friend and wife about how I hated WoW and wanted something new to waste my leisure time with. A new MMO was what I wanted. Now I have two I like equally.

Crap. I told you guys this was going to be a dumb decision, signing up for EQ2. I just didn't realize how dumb.

Friday, June 15, 2007

That Same Old Debate - RAIDING

Darren over at Common Sense Gamer has a nice little rant up. Kendricke, Oakstout, Pixey Styx, and Cameron Sorden all chime in the comments as to what a solution to Raiding for non-raiders and all those age old questsions could be. Great read, all of it, and you should check it out, too.

There's not much I can say that hasn't been said either. Except this:

Why must there be better rewards for any one type of player in these games? The 1st company to find the way to put in equal rewards for equal difficulty across all playstyles will be lauded as the single-best developer of the MMO in history. It may never happen though. It'd be like finding a way to get all those bastards in the Middle-East (ourselves as Americans included) to shut the hell up, put down the C-4 and get on with what's more important in life. Like I said... not happening soon.

Anyway. Read the article and its comments. It's good stuff. Keep up the great blogging, Darren.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Revelation of Playstyle

Last night, while smashing the crap out of wargs, barghests, and wights in Fornost and the surrounding area I came to a sudden realization.

You know those Bartle tests? The MMO-Personality tests that help you categorize why you play these infernal games? If you're clueless as to what I'm talking about, click dis linky. When you've taken the Bartle test, come back and read the rest. :)

Anyway, I always used to think I was ESAK (Explorer, Socializer, Acheiver, Killer). But that's just what I wanted myself to be I think. In the Bartle questionaires, I always answered the answers that I felt were more in-line of my idealized version of my playstyle. I was lying to myself, and it was having an effect on my enjoyment of these games.

You see, whenever I play an MMO, there are 2 things I'm primarily focused on: Killing things, and completing quests. Those are the activities I like to do the most in an online game. I have to face that. And I accept that... I just never realized it before last night.

I used to think I enjoyed hanging out with others online a lot more than I actually do (I like to chat and occasionally group up, but for the most part I'm a solo-er), and that I love to explore the worlds and get lost in them (I do, but it's not a reason for me to actually play MMOs). I do like these aspects of online games, indeed if I didn't I'd just stick to offline action games.

It's just that primarily, what I'm in Azeroth, Norrath, Middle-earth or whatever online world for is to kill baddies (and sometimes players), gain levels and accomplish other goals.

It's the same way at work for me. Give me a quota or a deadline, and I'll work my ass off. Give me a stack of papers and tell me to "take my time" and I'll spend my days writing long blog posts *wink*. That's my explanation for the "Achiever" side of me anyway. I like to have goals, and there are so many in these games, that's why I keep coming back for more.

The "Killer" part of me sits slightly above the "Acheiver". I can't help it. I like battle. I play melee damage dealers in most games... for this very reason. It's as close to real fights as I can get without picking a brawl in a bar or signing up for Karate class at the local gym. I like the fights, even if they're just button-mashing exercises. What's the primary means of accomplishing the goals in an online game? That's right... killing. Now you see my point.

I do like to explore. I do like to socialize. I'm guild chatterbox most days, and I love to group when the mood does strike me. But more than anyting... I like killing, and I like completing goals.

When a game doesn't satisfy one of the primary urges of my gameplay, I tend to lose interest and leave said game. I did with WoW because the goals were way out of my reach and/or were unattainable because of my playstyle (I loathe raiding and rep grinds). I was finding myself at odds with LotRO because I was playing it for all the wrong reasons. Now, I know what I want from it and those days I do log in, I know I'll have a much better time knowing what I'm there to do.

I feel liberated by this discovery. I can stop trying to figure out what a game wants from me, and instead focus on the important parts... fun. :)

The Downfall of WoW - Sure...

It's always fun to talk about that 800 pound gorilla, and Wearfannypacks has a nice write-up of the "Nevergonnahappenatleastnotforawhileyet" discussion of the downfall of WoW.

The whole poignant thing can be read here.

Just a tip of the hat to a new blogger added to my blogroll. Good stuff, WFP. Keep it up. :)

Patch Day and No Screens... I Beg Your Forgiveness

So I did get to sit down and play some LotRO last night, like I had hoped. I just never actually got into Evendim to see the new places and creatures. 2 hours of playing... and I didn't even go see the new stuff. I know, I know... I have nerves of steel. It was tempting, but I had plenty of quests to do in the North Downs, and plenty of Kinnies to help me off the Oathbreaker Captain in northern Fornost, so I was not displeased with how I spent my night at all.

Things were smooth as silk too. I'm not sure how performance in Evendim was, but the game itself didn't have any of those hiccoughs that are so often tied to patch days. So congrats to Turbine on a great 1st patch. :)

There were many changes to the UI though, Evendim aside. I also had taken close to a dozen screens of them to show you guys today... but they're missing. They didn't go into my Lord of the Rings Online documents folder, so consider me clueless as to what happened to them. I'll just give you the low-down.

1.) Real-time clock on the radar
2.) New organization of the Deed Log
3.) New hot-bar effects that make traking your skill-usage much easier.
4.) No more floaty names over the selected enemy's head unless you want them there.
5.) New Raid/Fellowship target markers.

Those are just some of what stood out to me. The UI basically got an overhaul. It still looks fundamentally the same, but it's functionality has increased a ton. Tonight, if all goes well, I hope to actually venture a bit into Evendim itself, and if I can sort out those screenshot issues, I'll bring screens and adventures to you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oh, and One More Thing Today...

I nearly forgot to tell you all (all what, 3 of you?) that I got some time to play Grenado Espada... er, Sword of the New World over the weekend. Let me 1st say... "Holy horrid translation, Batman!" But it's beta, and they're working on it, so I won't hold it against them yet.

I was very confused by all the people with !'s over their heads, and just what it was I was supposed to be doing, so after following some of the tutorials (as best I could) and making my 3-person group, I went out of the 1st city and just started whacking things.

The combat, at the very least is brisque and fun, especially when controlling 3 people simultaneously. It's almost like an MMO RTS hybrid, and for that it scores bonus points. But if the company handling it wants it to succeed, they need to work and work HARD on the localization before releasing it. As it is now, people will pick it up and put it down straight away. It's just too confusing to play without proper translation and tutorials.

But give it some time and if they do it right, SotNW could be a very cool game when all is said and done.

Not ruh-roh... Ratonga!

Yesterday, I made mention that I was getting tempted to take a one month trip to Azeroth again and last night I decided to see if it was more than just an old addiction nipping at my veins again. I logged onto my father in law's account and quickly discovered that I have just plain had enough of WoW. So, phew.

But my evening didn't stop there. I messed around in the beta I'm in which received a new patch (coming along quite nicely, and I can't wait to tell you guys what it is), but I still had this itch to try something new last night. After perusing my favorite blogs, I made a potentially stupid but currently exciting move... I bought one month's time in Everquest 2. I say it's potentially stupid, because I'm still deep in LotRO and the 1st content upgrade hits today.

But I'm an impulse subscription buyer, and the itch overcame me.

At 1st, I dreaded that I had made a mistake. You see, the whole point of me trying EQ2 again was that I wanted to play in Neriak, as I heard it was free. But at the time I also thought it was Arasai (dark faeries) only, and when I 1st logged in and found I couldn't select the Arasai as a race without owning Echoes of Faydwer, I nearly pooped my pants. But before I did (thank god) I proceeded onward with the character creation of a Ratonga (always a place in my heart for rat humanoids) and saw that I indeed could play in Neriak without EoF. I just had to download it 1st. So about 20 minutes later I relogged in and made my Ratonga Berserker, Phee.

Holy crap have they improved EQ2 over the past 2.5 years. I mean, I know they had actually. I was on the fence about getting EoF back in February but ultimately decided not to because of LotRO and my work on the Vault. But playing it last night, I realized again just how far the game has come. If it had launched like it is now... WoW might have had some stiff competition. Needless to say, I definitely think EQ2 is the better of the two games these days, but part of that could be my tiring of WoW as a whole.

Anyway, Phee leveled up to 8 at an alarming rate. The new Darklight Woods (right?) are really more put together than the massive starting cities of Qeynos and Freeport. I remember 1st logging into EQ2 back in 2005 before a lot of the reformations had been done and absolutely loving the scope of the cities but hating how boring it was compared to the log in and go action of WoW. I'm not saying I want instant-gratification, but when you 1st start a game, even an MMO, it needs to get you into the mix fast or risk losing your interest. At least that's my belief. It's why WoW worked so well, why LotRO's opening vignettes do, and now why Kelethin and Neriak do.

However after level 8 (about 1 hour's time) I just wasn't that into my Berserker. Perhaps it was too much like my Champion in LotRO that it just wasn't striking a cord with me. So I camped to the character select and made another little Ratonga. This time a Defiler named Phord (I promise I won't give him the surname Prefect if I make it that far). This guy suited me much better. It's a nice change of pace from my usual melee classes. His buffs, heals, poisions, etc make for interesting visuals as well as easy solo-ing, even if it's not as quick to kill things as the Berserker. The added survivability is worth it.

In all, I had a great 1st night in Neriak, and I look forward to playing again later this week. I'm not sure how long term my time in EQ2 will be, but for now I'm sure I'll get my 15 bucks worth, and probably meet a few friends from the blogosphere in the process. And that's what counts. :)

On a couple of side notes, if anyone here knows of any good EQ2 reading material for a newbie, please leave me a comment with the links. I'd love to read up on the game, and the old manual just won't cut it at this point.

And lastly, tonight is Shores of Evendim night in LotRO. If I can log into Middle-earth tonight, I'll bring you all reports of the new additions tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


So my friend here at work started playing WoW again recently... and for the strangest reason my itch is coming back. I think I may sign-up too... oh dear god, what's wrong with me?

Oh and to go along with my Godfather impressions from yesterday, here's a new comic from the wife and I over on DPComics:

Yes, that's what I look like... in cartoon world. But a pretty accurate depiction of her an I, so stay tuned to that blog for more strips each week, if you're into that sort of thing. :)

Overlord = Pikmin + EVIL GREMLINS

As Cuppycake pointed out, the PC demo of Codemasters' "Overlord" is available through Fileplanet, or if you have an Xbox 360 you can download it there as well. I sat down with it last night before bed, and I was definitely impressed, if not entirely floored to go pick it up on launch day.

The premise of Overlord is as the title of this post suggests: Pikmin meet Evil Gremlins with a dose of medieval flare and dark humor. Rest assured it's a killer combination. With visuals that harken back to Fable's art-style, and gameplay that in some points outdoes Miyamoto's Gamecube creation, it's hard to find anything not to like about Overlord.

The background story, which doesn't seem too necessary except for to give you purpose, is that you are brought back from the dead to become the "new" Overlord. Apparently, years ago 7 heroes took your predecessor out and have since become overzealous rulers themselves. It's your job to bring the hurting upon them and put fear back into the countryside. At least, that's what I've gathered in my brief time with the game combined with the info available on the net. It's no masterpiece in videogame story telling, but I don't think that's the intention. The focus is quite plainly on the humorous antics of your minions.

Like Pikmin, they serve to do all your bidding. Pillaging, looting, killing, whatever you want them to accomplish as long as you have enough of them to do the deed. What's also cool about the minion system is that they don't require very much micro-managing from what I've played. You send them towards something and they're generally going to know what to do, whether it's knock down a wall, push aside a rock, or kill the fat halflings that are in your way.

What's intriguing about the combat in Overlord, and something I'd like to play to learn more about, is that some creatures, hostile ones it seems, have dark life force, while others (like sheep) have light life force. The light kind seems capable of gaining you more minions like the seeds from Pikmin, while I'm not sure what the dark kind does, as I didn't get a chance to play through all of the demo last night. Another cool feature is that whatever your minions find while breaking and killing things, they're likely to pick it up and use it... even if it has no real use. An example being a pumpkin patch I ravaged. After the veggies were destroyed a number of my minions used the pieces of the pumpkins as helmets, making them seem like little brown-skinned gremlin trick-or-treaters.

In all, it's definitely a cool take on the Pikmin formula, and a game I'll be looking out for on the 360 when I get mine. I have a feeling it controls much better on that system than the PC. Something about the layout and mouse-look on the PC version just seemed awkward and loose.

Regardless, give the demo a try. It's worth a look for sure.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm a Wiseguy

I said they were coming, and so here they are - my impressions of "The Godfather: Blackhand Edition" for the Wii.

I, like many of my fellow hardcore gamer Wii owners, have been having a hard time finding a reason to turn on the Wii for a few months now. With developers having been caught with their pants down concerning the success and momentum of the little console that could, most of what's coming out during the summer months of the Wii's life is recycled garbage. But every so often during these horrid transition months while developers ready the big guns for the fall shopping season we get some gems.

Recently there was SSX Blur from EA, a rehash of previous games in the series, which was difficult but satisfying to learn and shred with. And now, EA's come out just a couple months ago with a Wii-ified version of "The Godfather". I was skeptic at 1st, but I finally gave in last week during a fit of boredom and went to my local EB to pick it up. Boy am I glad I took the chance.

While it's graphics aren't necessarily anything to right home about, the intended feel of the game is spot on. It's dark and bleak like the movies, no sunshine and beaches in this GTA-esque game. It's bricks, mortar,dirt, trash, and sharp suits. Essentially, it's 1940s New York and it serves its purpose, even if the venues aren't memorable.

Sound is memorable though. From the guns, to the breaking glass, the shattering boxes, or the spurting blood, the sound in Godfather will make you cringe with violent glee. The screams of pedestrians caught in the cross-fire also add to the hilarity that ensues when caught up in a mob war.

Gameplay-wise, it's very much a GTA-clone, as we've seen so many of since GTA 3 made it big. But it's definitely one of the better ones. The story of the game, that of a young mobster (you) on the rise to becoming Don of NYC during the events of the 1st GF movie, is mission-based with top-notch cutscenes fleshing out the narrative. The only 2 actors it seems missing from the game are Brando (dead as dirt), and Pacino (tied into Scarface and hence absent here). Brando you can't even notice being gone, as his face is in the game and the impersonator doing his voice is right on key. But Pacino's Michael Corleone is sorely missed. Luckily his scenes aren't as plentiful as Clemenza, the Don, and Sonny's are in the earlier portions of the game, so you will likely overlook them.

Aside from the story-based missions, there's really only a few other things to do in Godfather... but oh, are they fun and addictive. The primary side-task is that of taking over other shops around NYC to raise the Family's income, and thereby also raising your own. Depending on how many shops and rackets you have on your payroll, you get a sum of money at the end of every week. The more shops and rackets, the more money you get to toss at cops, spend on clothes, or whatever... capiche?

But let me back up a bit. You see you can't just walk into a store, threaten the owner and then be on your merry way. It's not always that simple. Sometimes you have to get rough with them, sometimes you have to break some of their merchandise... or their bones. Oh and you also have to do away with any opposing family enforcers who happen to be there. So you'd better bring that Tommy Gun or you might just get iced in the process. And once you've "persuaded" the owner to pay you, often times they'll open the back door showing you that there's a racket (illegal business) ready for the taking as well. More gunshots and blood-spurting ensue, and if you're lucky when it's over you'll be even richer.

If you're a fan of money, power, and 100% completion rates on your games, this one will take you some time. I've got about 20 under my power right now, and there's still dozens more to get. So though the story might only take you 20 hours or so, the rest of your job's not done when the curtain drops.

The other main task for you to complete outside of the story is that of Contract Hits. These are an absolute blast just like the businesses. Talk to a guy, get the kill order, go to it. But the key is, each hit has a different way you're aiming to accomplish it, whether that be sneaking up behind him while he's distracted (by a hooker) and garroting him, or making him bleed it out by shooting his knee, then shoulder, and finally the head. It's brutal and unforgiving, and I love it. Makes you feel every inch of a mobster without actually having to look over your back all the time.

I don't envy the real life Mafia, but damned if it hasn't been made glamorous looking by the press, and "The Godfather" for the Wii delivers an authentic representation of the film and the glorified facets of being part of the Mob. Go pick it up for the PS3, the Xbox 360, or better yet, the Wii. It's worth the 50 bucks in my book.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Still Bored, Still Busy

Just wanted to check in here to say hi to those of you who stop by now and again. I've been busy as hell with work and school, so I've had little chance to play LoTRO or much of anything else. I did pick up Godfather for the Wii though, and if you're jonesing for a good GTA type game on the Wii, pick it up... or Scarface which hits this week as well. I'll write up some more in-depth impressions of it later, if I have the time.

For now, I'm just trying to get a hold of the real-life stuff and get it to slow down so I can enjoy LotRO's 1st update which hits on Wednesday. Hell, it doesn't matter too much though. Due to the rapid pace of life right now, I'm not quite high enough to deal with it yet. :) Need to be in the 30s I'm hearing to get use out of the new zone and I'm still putzing at 25.

Oh yeah, and I'm still waiting on that damned government check so I can get my 360 and let it gather dust... but at least I'll have one.

Catch you all later, and I promise to start blogging more this week. I'm hoping things with work and classes slow down now, but that's not entirely up to me.

Thanks for sticking with me! And don't forget to check tomorrow night for the newest strip.