Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Top 5 Upcoming MMOs on JoBildo's Radar

Thanks to the inspiration of Darren, I've gone ahead and compiled a list of my top 5 upcoming MMOs. There are a lot of titles coming out over the next year or so, and more even beyond that horizon. It really is a good time to be addicted to these games, as soon our pool of possible fixes will widen greatly. At least, if they're any good it will.

Anyway, here's my Top 5 Most Wanted and why...

1.) Pirates of the Burning Sea - This is my number one for a plethora of reasons. I absolutely loved Sid Meier's Pirates, and I have every reason to believe this will be very much like it only vaster and MMO-ier. That alone makes the Pirate in me scream "Yargh!"

Combine the setting and time period with the stunning idea that someone's willing to try something brand new in the genre, and you've got me hooked. If it plays nearly as addictively as Sid's game does, I'll be there for a while indeed.

Lastly, it's likely going to be the 1st of my bunch to come out. Or so I hope, hence its position above number 2.

2.) Warhammer Online - I know, I've never really put forth the impression that I'm all that into PvP, and truth is as a rule I'm not a hardcore PvPer. But I do love me some PvP in a controlled sense, but still in the open world... enter a little thing of beauty called RvR.

The RvR system is the tip of the iceberg for my interest in this one. One of my main draws to WoW and all of Warcraft's universe is its striking similarity to the crude and over the top fantasy world of Warhammer. It's high fantasy with fart jokes and gore. Not to mention, the best dwarves ever are a product of this universe. My Engineer is practically begging for me to play him. To which I reply, "Tell EA Mythic to hurry up, and I will."

And lastly, WAR seems to be doing away with a lot of the banal things about the typical fantasy MMO. Some of the little annoyances like killing a bunch of bears to get to a trapped person who in turn... asks you to kill more bears. Attention to details like this has be waiting baited. I hope it's as good as the hype Paul Barnett lends it.

3.) Gods and Heroes - Roman Mythology + Pokemon = The Awesome. That's all I ned to say here. Okay, maybe not all.

But while I understand the game's going to be all about the PvE questing and the minion system at launch, I can't escape this feeling that it will be a blast to play. Stieg Hedlund is the lead developer behind this one, and Blizzard fans will recognize his name as one of the driving forces behind the crazy addictiveness of Diablo 2.

If he brings half of his talent for creating addiction in stat/strat-crazy players to this game's table, it could prove very fun for the min-maxxer in us all. I just hope the Minion System doesn't feel like more of a gimmick than a feature when all is said and done. You know, like it does in Guild Wars.

The Hero Camp articles across the web have me very optimistic though.

4.) Hellgate: London - I know it's not really an MMORPG. But there will be a subscription option for players who want to gain access to additional content that gets patched in later, as well as Auction Houses, Guilds, and whatnot. Flagship's not being too clear on the details about just how much content you'll be getting for your 10 bucks, but even if I don't pay the monthly fee, this one will be a wild ride for all us Hack and Slash fiends who are looking forward to the spiritual successor to Diablo 2. It is pretty much the whole team from D2 behind this one, after all.

Hellgate's style, premise, and online features all have me drooling for October 30th to come along. I'm even a little intrigued by the Hunter class, which is sort of an FPS type class, and I hate FPS games. If it doesn't require me to have actual skill, I'll be pretty pleased.

5.) Age of Conan - This used to be at the top of my list, but it's getting pushed off by others because, frankly, they're telling me more and I may have or may not have had experience with some of the above... ahem.

Even so, Conan's booze, boobs, and blood are all lingering back in my mind. The action-oriented combat system, the spellweaving, the town-building, the Bloodmoney PvP system... it all sounds like a dream come true on paper. But how it plays remains a mystery to me.

Another point against this one? It comes out October 30th as of right now... the same day as Hellgate: London. Unless something drastic happens, Conan will be shifted to the back burner for Flagship's game.


So there you have it. Those are the 5 main games on my radar right now. Not 10 like Darren, because many of his mentioned aren't on my interest-o-meter until I hear/see more about them. But this bunch has me eagerly awaiting the Fall and Winter. I'll be broke, and I'll likely go mad trying to choose which to play, but it's better to have many, than to have none.

Tabula Rasa - Press NDA Dropped

The Press-MDA has dropped for Tabula Rasa, and Michael of MMOGNation has laid out his thoughts for us.

I can't say much without breaking the NDA myself, since I'm not press like Michael. I can however say that I agree entirely with his assertions. So go read the article.

The part about subscription charges is right on the money from my viewpoint. Ugh... I still can't say more. My own full impressions will come as soon as they let me loose. So until then, read Michael's and enjoy.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Great Comeuppance of Rufus Meriwether

It's creative writing time, boys and girls. Read this if you're into torture, and let me know what you think. I don't think I'm going to develop this much further for the minute, as I've got something grander stewing in the old cabasa, but I wanted to share it... so here:


There’s little rhyme or reason to our lives. We all enjoy the idea that there may be some greater plan for us, but we have no proof of any such design. We are simply left to have faith and cross our fingers that when it ends, we’ll find out.

However, the moment we grasp the fact that we’re mere mammalian oddities, the sooner we can get on with the whole thing and enjoy our short stay here. But that doesn’t mean we’re all destined for average lives, with average occurrences, and average endings. In fact, I’m of the school of thought that we can each have very distinct control over the things we do and the moments that define who we are. All it takes is a little planning, and a little ingenuity. But for some… greatness and success are not an option. They are feisty, ravenous beasts thrust upon them without warning. A shackle they must bear for better or for worse.

Such is the life of Rufus Meriwether.

With the exception of his rather uncommon name, Rufus was as ordinary as a suicide at the Internal Revenue Service office building. He enjoyed his unpalatable domestic beer. He reveled in watching rerun episodes of canned family sitcoms. And most of all, though he would not admit it aloud, he rather liked the way he blended into society. He fancied the way his brown hair sat boringly upon his normally shaped skull, and the way his black-rimmed glasses only helped characterize him as an “Everyday Joe”.

He wore simple slacks, with simple brown loafers, and simple white shirts with monotonously-patterned ties to his ridiculously small cubicle desk job each day. He never dared to work overtime unless the rest of the office was tasked with doing so, and he called in sick only once in his thirteen years on the job due to the fact that being absent would only draw more attention to him. You see, Rufus was the type of person that would quickly un-capitalize his own name for fear of standing out, if only those pesky rules of grammar would let him remain decidedly insignificant.

A lesson taught to Rufus at a young age was that being anything more than commonplace was not something to be proud of. In the days of his youth he had been an entirely different person. He dreamt of far away places, drew personalized cartoons of his imaginations, and often found himself in the backyard envisioning tales of his fantastic travels and acting them out accordingly. Only one day, when young Rufus decided to attend elementary school dressed in his full adventuring garb (a wizard’s pointed hat, tower-shield made of plastic, and his father’s snow boots), he was greatly taunted and ribbed and ridiculed to the point of tears and ultimately he ran home to cast off his preposterous paraphernalia and huddle up in a corner of his room. It was from this point on that the grown-up Rufus of our story began to materialize.

There now, don’t you fell better knowing all that? So we have Rufus Meriweather, and he is an absolute bore. I suppose I could have just told you that and been done with the whole opening description thing, but then what fun would that be?

The tale of Rufus’ unwanted turn of greatness, fame, heroism and all of that begins with a rather loud thud. This is the sound Rufus’ apartment floor resounded with when his body hit the floor. Rufus, like so many of us so often do, spent the entire evening lying flat on his back on the sofa, staring at his television as if waiting for it to do something unique. When at last it was time for him to retire to the bedroom, Rufus was overwhelmed with a rush of blood to the head and ergo he passed out, falling to the ground like so many pounds of dull, uninteresting flesh.

Frustrations and Whatnot

What is one supposed to do when they get frustrated with their current game of choice? Am I really supposed to stop subscribing and come back with a fresh perspective in a few weeks or months? I'd love to, but honestly, there isn't much for me to play aside from the betas I'm in right now.

And maybe that's okay, because said betas are a blast. I may end up ruining that launch day awe and wonder, but I'm having so much fun right now, that I don't really care.

I'm typing all this because it's happened. I've become angered at LotRO in just under a year of playing. Never in beta did I get far enough to see a lack of soloable content, but I am seeing it in retail. At nearly 37, quests are starting to run dry, and I'm consistently doing things above my level just so I have something to do on my own.

I suppose this may not be a problem if my Kinship were a more active bunch, but we're all over the place in terms of when we play and for how long, so organizing anything is a chore.

It's not the gameplay that bothers me, that I still enjoy. It's the feeling that very soon I'll have to do nothing but kill mobs without a quest to make it small-goal oriented. And while killing in a duo or a group is a blast, solo it is not.

So someone, offer me an opinion. What would you do? Take a break or forge onward to the level 40 wall, and hope the Book 10 patch does for 40+ what Evendim sort of did for 33+?

Because right now, I'm thinking I'll just play the hell out of these betas. They're more fun than Middle-earth right now. Of that I'm certain.

When It Rains, It Pours

Yeah, so I managed to eek into another beta this weekend. I was on said game's forum, checking up on the development and community happenings, when I saw a thread titled: "1st 200 people to click get into beta!"

I figured it was a load of crap, but it had a lot of responses (6 pages or so) so I went in to see what the fuss was a about. It was real. The CM for the game was giving out 200 beta keys to the 1st 200 people to click a link. I clicked, and I was in.

I don't see anything in the NDA about not saying I'm in the beta, and the forums even let me use my beta character's name to post. But just in case, I won't say which one it is. A search around some of the upcoming games' forums will shed some light though, if you really want to know. Of course, I can't tell you anything about my experiences, but rest-assured that I will as soon as I'm allowed.

So, just when I was itching for something new to play, I get 3 games to go bug-hunting in. Life is grand. I can't wait to see how they all 3 shape up, and if all goes well, it'll be 3 more added to my collection of virtual worlds this fall.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A MEME for Me.

Tipa over at West Karana just tagged me for a new MEME. This one is unique. Post the list of links and quotes below, put a star next to those you like, and add your own quote and link to the bottom of the list.

The quote's content? Your tip on blogging and/or writing in general. That's the theme for this one. Afterwards, tag 5 more people you know that haven't contributed yet, and the circle continues...

So here we go:

1. Look, read, and learn. ***

2. Be EXCELLENT to each other. *

3. Don’t let money change ya! *

4. Always reply to your comments. *****

5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. *

6. Don’t give up - persistance is fertile. ***

7. Give link credit where credit is due. ****

8. Pictures say a thousand words and can usually add to any post.***

9. Keep writing, no matter what, and the quality will follow. ***

10. Stay out of your comfort zone. Take risks, don’t be afraid to look dumb.*

11. Keep to a schedule. People return to blogs when they know they will find something new.*

12. Write something, ANYTHING, everyday. The moment you slip into a no writing funk, it becomes very hard to get out of it.

Now time to tag a few people around me...

How about Keen and Graev, Heather of Errant Thoughts, Adele Caelia, Cameron Sorden, and Pixie Styx. Go team, go!

Another Slow Day...

Not much to report again, today.

I've got TONS I'd love to tell you all about the mystery game, but I can't... yet.

I promise that when this NDA drops, I'll divulge my feelings on the title.

Mythos on the other-hands is going nicely. It's got its own share of lag-issues (that is what the beta is for, to work such things out after all), and plenty of unfinished things, but I can't shake the feeling that it's just plain HnS fun.

Go to www.mythos.com and sign-up. They're ramping up invites now, so might as well try to get in. What have you got to lose?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not much to report today...

Darren at Common Sense Gamer has a nice discussion going on about Richard Gariott's words on how the MMO genre needs to evolve.

Personally, I've not seen enough of TR's systems to say, "Garriott's not full of shite." For all I know, this could just be PR for Tabula Rasa. But more so, I think it's just a greatly respected designer explaining that he's one of many who sees much more potential for MMOs than just dungeons and hotkeys.

On a personal gaming note, I tried the mystery beta for the 1st time last night. I obviously can't go into detail, but it may just be what I was hoping it would. I know, that's vague, but I had to let you guys know. For when the NDA is lifted on this one, I'll be writing up my thoughts justly.

Tonight? Probably some Mythos or LotRO. The mystery game is WAY too addictive right now and I have to take a step back to avoid getting sucked fully into the beta thinking it's a game and not a testing phase. Deep breaths... *hooooo*

There, all better.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Can Tell You About One Beta...

The e-mail said otherwise, but according to Max Schaefer himself via the official beta forums, they have indeed lifted the NDA on this one... I'm talking about Mythos, lads and lasses. Quite possibly the 1st free-to-play MMO I've ever played that doesn't suck. In fact, it's quite bloody fun.

Here then, are my very quick 1st impressions -

1.) It's like Dungeon Runners... except fun to play.

2.) The races are unique: Humans of course, but also Satyrs and Gremlins

3.) The classes are great: Bloodletter (dual-wielding warrior), Pyromancer (fire-based mage), and the Gadgeteer (gun-wielding ranged class).

4.) Buggy as it should be for a beta, but despite this... it's incredibly addictive and fun to play.

5.) This is the free game us western gamers have been waiting for. Roguelikes = Awesome.


I've got lots more to stew on, and there are a lot more details to go over, which I will as I play the game and report on my findings here. The classes are a lot more unusual that it seems above. Sufficed to say, the Bloodletter has a skill on his "Redhand" tree that gives a small chance to summon a minion of flesh from the dead body of an enemy when they are defeated. Yeah... it's as awesome as it sounds.

I can see why, after initial testing Flagship decided to devote a group of people to give this one proper attention. It's not just a server-testing client like it was meant to be, it's a riot. It's addictive. It's fun, moreover. It's the kind of game hack and slash fans will keep on their desktops forever because if all works out, Flagship will be updating it for months and years after it officially launches.

So there's one of the mystery betas. I'll give more detailed feedback on it after I spend more time with it. Tonight, I'm playing the other mystery game. Wish me luck. :)

100 Posts and I'm a Lucky Man

I've been blessed. By gaming gods, or by sheer luck. The past few weeks, I've been positively itching for something new to play. I've been with LotRO since August of 2006, and I've played, at some point or another, every other MMO on the bloody market. From free, to P2P, to microtransactions, I've tried them all, and found only a few enticing enough to stick with for my tastes.

You can imagine then, why I'm in a gaming doldrum. I just want something new to waste some time on.

So, I can today report to you as if you care that I got 2, not 1, but 2 beta invitations yesterday. I cannot tell you for what games they are, but rest assured I will and give my full impressions once the NDAs drop. Yes, that rules out Warhammer. I would be able to tell you if I got in to that one.

So for now, just take a bunch of guesses in your head as to why I'm such a lucky SOB, and I'll bring you news from both betas as soon as they drop their NDAs.

Man, this work day is going to drag...

PS - 100 posts, yay!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Importance of Being Different

But not too different.

I've stated similar things before on this blog (which is nearing 100 posts now, hurray me!), but I want to reiterate it. I do not think that the MMORPG genre is ready for anything too different from the norm. Refinement is still going on. Broadening of appeal is still occuring. Until 2004, the MMORPG was just a tiny portion of a much larger market. True enough, the industry buzzwords right now are MMORPG and Polish, often hand in hand. And therein lies the rub.

I've been given the chance to test many games over the past couple of years. Some have released, and some are still forthcoming. Out of them all, the only one I consider to be remotely worth playing is Lord of the Rings Online, and even I will attest that it has likely stuck too close to the traditional trappings of the genre. But in doing so it has drawn quite a few subscribers, most educated guesses are around 200k, and it that is not bad by any means. It's no 800 pound gorilla, but then, nothing will be for a while yet as most of us bloggers have theorized.

The other betas, which must remain nameless for now, are lacking at best. "But, Bildo, it's beta!" I know, folks, I know. But these games of which I'm speaking are edging closer and closer to release. It's not the content. It's not the polish I'm worried about. What bothers me about these games is how they're trying to recreate the UI. I can't go into more detail without running dangerously close to breaking the NDA, but suffice to say, I don't like these companies' take on the tried and true control scheme.

I'm all for shaking things up. I'm all for trying something new. I was my "circle's" earlier adopter of the Wii-mote. It's not that I'm against doing something unique. What I am against, is trying something unique, failing, and forging onward as if the difference is all that matters, not the quality.

What I'm saying in this long, rambling, arguably pointless post, is that the MMORPG has a basic interface that works. Don't fudge with its core. Fudge with its limbs. Tweak things. Play with ways to interact. But by Jeebus, if it doesn't seem to work, your beta testers are not playing your game, and most of your MMO-a-holic fans are telling you they're worried, it may be time to start rethinking your tactics.

PS: I'm sure that all the games I'm referring to could very well end up releasing, having dedicated fanbases, and thriving. In fact, I'm sure one of them at least will, based on its pedigree alone. But to me, it's busted. It's ineffective. It needs a great deal of fine-tuning before release, and I hope its makers know this.

I'm done ranting. Hope that made some sense.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's Done.

Just a quick post before I lose this thought.

I got lost in the Wizarding world of JK Rowling one last time this Sunday. No spoilers here, so read on. I read cover to cover the last book in the Harry Potter series. It was 2AM before I went to sleep. But it was worth it. The book was fantastic. The ending divine.

When I started reading Harry's tale I thought it would just be some hack's attempt at children's fantasy. I thought I wouldn't give into the fad that was sweeping the nation. I was wrong. Rowling's work is deep, many-layered, and altogether masterful. Now that's it's "over" I can hardly believe it is. I just hope that one day the author brings us back to the Wizarding world for some new adventure with some new character or one familiar. Because I can hardly bare never knowing more about that unknown place, muggle that I am.

It is an amazing place she's created, akin to Tolkien's Middle-earth or Lewis' Narnia. I know there is likely a sect of people who would rather never revisit Hogwart's. People who think these 7 books might be sullied by writing more. But for my part, I do hope she does. There's so much more to tell, or so I hope. And if one day she does write more on those things which I cannot comprehend, I'll be gladly lost again amidst the familiar confines of that great castle.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Grand Old Time In Middle-earth

If you'll remember, earlier this week I made a claim that I needed to stop thinking so much about whatever game I'm playing, try to stop harping on its faults, and instead focus on what it is that made me start playing it and having fun with it in the first place.

I did this last week when I was playing WoW. I know full well that the level cap is boredom incarnate for a player like me, but I love the leveling PvE in that game. So what did I do when I re-subbed, I let go, jumped back onto my Hunter and started questing. You know what? I had fun. I'll probably play quite a bit more before my one month is up.

So last night, with this success in mind, I logged into LotRO and pushed all worries out of my mind. I stopped thinking about the rumored solo-wall that comes later in the game. I stopped thinking of my group quests as a poison. I stopped focusing on the little things that bug me about the game and instead turned my attention to what drew me to Middle-earth in the first place: the world, the quests, and the lore.

It wasn't long before I suddenly exhaled... I was at peace with my gamer self. I was having that fabulous word... what do they call it? Oh yeah - FUN.

I found, in Evendim, just what Turbine said I was supposed to: a butt-load of soloable quests to do. I was having trouble getting them at 34, but at 35 a bunch more seemed to open up. I dropped a lot of lower level group quests I had never done and went on my way. Wanted posters all over the camp of Ost Forod offered me several more quests (these are hard to find, so press delete repeatedly in Ost Forod if you've no idea what I'm talking about). Nex thing I knew, for the 1st time since I was in my mid 20s I had over a dozen quests that weren't intended for groups.


But then something even more unexpected happened. I was in a goblin-infested set of ruins, south of Ost Forod when I met a chap named Flipsyde who was looking to kill a man named Andy and his dog, just as I was. We grouped up, cleared the bloody place of all goblins and boggarts (little swarming bastards that attack in groups but are easy to drop), and took out Andy and his ghastly dog with morale to spare.

On a side note, Hunters in LotRO are GODS of single-target DPS. It was amazing to watch really. Where my Champion is at home among a group of enemies dishing out AOE damage, the Hunter can often kill a single enemy in a few shots before it's even had a chance to reach its attacker. I actually had a viable reason to use my taunt this time to keep creatures off of him. The taunts in LotRO are great by the way, because an audio clip comes along with it. For my dwarf that ranges from a roaring yell, to several different dwarvish sayings, that made me smile each time he uttered them.

Moving on, it turned out that Mr. Flipsyde and I had a great deal of similar quests that needed doing, so we set out to see the country and clear it of all evil... which we did. Nothing could come close to stopping us. We worked from Canadiach crossing, to Rantost ruins, all the way up to the gates of Tirith Rhiw. We strode west to the Eavespires and met an Ent in the process, boom haroom. Before I kew it it was 9:30pm and I was level 36, well on my way to 37.

I. Had. Fun. This whole new outlook on gaming? It's working, by jove. I'm a new man/geek. This weekend my friend who coaxed me a while back into trying EQ2 again is going to use my LotRO buddy key and give it a shot with me. We've got a month or two at least before Pirates or Gods and Heroes come out. Why sit around waiting when there are plenty of good games to play in the meantime, even if they're not so shiny and new?

If I don't write anything else today, I'll see you lot next week. Hope you manage to have some moment of gaming clarvoyance yourselves.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Warhammer Info

Amidst my many daily work boredom searches, I found this site run by a very funny lad, who goes by the name Silex: WarhammerInfo. And, after perusing the site for many many government paid minutes... I've added another MMO to my most-wanted list.

I know, I know, what took me so long? This is the game everyone seems to be expecting to give WoW a real run for its money. It's this fact that made me skeptical. I've been enticed by it for a while, though, just not certain, and after reading about the RvR system, the public quests, the tactics system, the morale system... the Tome of Knowledge, I'm sold yet again.

It's the hype machine getting to me, sure. But I don't care. It's a great time to be an MMO gamer. If anyone says differently, they're nuts.

Go take a look at the site and read up. Even if you're not into PvP, Warhammer has something to offer you. I suggest reading up if you're of this mindset especially.

I'm a Pony-Owner!

That sounds odd, I realize this after the fact. But I'm too lazy to go erase the title, so deal with it for me.

The night before last I hit 35 thanks to my grand friend Talnithor. And last night, I did what is perhaps the most boring series of quests in LotRO. It's capped off with a fun one, but in my book they could have just used the last quest and skipped the previous three in the series.

You see, in LotRO leveling to 35 is not the only requirement to need to fulfill to attain your mount. You need 4 gold and 220 silver, and you also need to run a few errands for a horse-breeder north of Bree. By errands, I mean that in order to get your mount you need to first take a mount and run it south a few minutes to Bree's stables. Then you head back to the horse-breeder and run another out to Michel Delving. Then you head BACK to the horse-breeder and run one final one to Othrikar in the North Downs. It's not difficult, it's just boring. It's meant to "teach" you how to use your mount, as if running the same way you have been for 35 levels but from a higher vantage point needed 15-20 minutes of running on roads to sink in.

In all honesty the final quest in the chain is all I think is needed in order to "show your quality" and be allowed to purchase a mount. After ferrying all 3 horsies out to their respective stables, you then have to run the course around the horse-fields north of Bree in about 2 minutes. To make things more interesting, you have to go through each of the twelve checkpoints, not go through the water placed along the paths, and jump over obstacles while you're at it.

I was not familiar with the course, nor did I know that jumping from a high point would knock me off the horse, so I had to try the course 3 times. After those 3 long ass taxi runs, I just wanted my mount. I learned nothing about "riding a mount" from the 1st three delivery quests, but I learned plenty about what a mount can and cannot do from the race around the fields.

Oh well, I got my Bay pony and that's all that matters. It makes travelling a hell of a lot less tedious, though I still take the stables from zone to zone, as it's still more efficient and faster. The mount is simply very helpful in the fact that it makes heading from place to place within a zone much easier on the player. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that they should enable them for level 30 players or even level 20 players, maybe scaled down a bit in speed. One of the worst parts of LotRO for me is all the running, this mount makes it much easier to bear, and I wish I would have been privy to it sooner.

Now? It's time to head to Evendim and start doing some quests. That level 40-ish wall is still a ways off. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gods & Heroes Making Its Move...

Into my psyche.

I'm one of those people (READ: gamers) who always psyches himself up for what's on the horizon. More often than not I'm disappointed by my own hopes and dreams of what the newly released product should of been, instead of enjoying it for what it is. I think far to often, we as the "hardcore" gamers (those who read blogs, follow news, and in general spend far too much time checking websites) become jaded by being too close to our hobby. We read too much about it. We hear too much about it. We think too much about it.

I remember in the infant stages of my addiction to gaming, I played anything and everything. I wasn't a critic. I didn't dig deeper into what I wanted from my games. I played them and I enjoyed them. Heedless of bugs and graphics, and all of that cod that is now shoved into my head and I can't forget it.

So now, when I am eager for a new game, I usually become so with just a hint of cynicism. I want it, I'm excited for it, but I try not to expect too much. I capstone every positive thought about an upcoming game with "if they do it right."

So that in mind, after watching some video on Gods and Heroes Minion system, after watching an interview over at TTH with one of the producers... I'm sold. I'll buy it. You've got me. Diablo + Pokemon + Roman Myth = GOODNESS. I'm sure it will have its share of drawbacks for me. Lack of crafting and PvP at launch scream "bare bones", but I'm a sucker mainly for story, adventure, and lots of numbers to crunch for my character.

If it delivers on these things, maybe I can, if just for a moment, remember what it was like to be a kid without prejudice towards my games. Maybe I just need to start making an effort at that as a whole. Take things for face value, whether its your hobby or your real life, and learn to love what you have, not just what you wish you had.

Sorry, getting deep in here. I want Gods and Heroes. Chalk up two MMo purchases for me this Fall. Gods and Heroes and Pirates of the Burning Sea. Without having played them, I'm sold. Done deal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Couple of Homework Layouts

Here's a couple of JPGs from my 1st week in class. These are just two basic layout designs for a fictitious japanese restaurant. Feedback more than welcome. Which is your favorite and why, if you even like them? :)

The Tide is Rising...

As my pal Keen pointed out, the mass beta invitations over at Pirates of the Burning Sea have begun. Around 1,000 sent out with this new build, and more are going out as soon as they're sure their systems can handle the load.

I was not one of the lucky few, but I do have a key so I suppose it's just a matter of time. I really can't wait to get in there and see if Flying Labs words are worth the web they're printed on. I'm betting they are.

I've got this really good feeling about the game, but then again, I've been wrong before. I won't name names, but not every game I've been hyped about has been as good as I originally hoped. But with that knowledge I'm reserving some of my excitement for PotBS. This way, if it completely and utterly sucks, I won't be too upset.

I don't think it'll be an issue though... it's Pirates. How can they go wrong... oh wait, I forgot about the SNES game Skullduggery. Well this is different... it has to be.

You can send me my invite any day now, FLS. :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

HELP! I need somebody...

To tell me I'm doing the right thing.

Over the course of last week, I did the deadly deed. I bought a month's subscription to WoW. My main in LotRO is 34, and not having the desire for an alt as well as not having the desire to hit any sort of "wall", I figured it was as good a time as any to see what my in-laws were up to in Azeroth.

They've been playing the game since a couple of months after release, and are still happy with it. Ignorance of the end-game problems is bliss, my friends. Stay away from the boards, don't hang out around the blogs, and you'll never be upset with your game. I've got to start taking my own advice.

Anyway, so I logged back in for the 1st time in the middle part of last week. When I logged out after doing a couple of quests and catching up with some old friends, I hearthed my hunter back to Telaar in Nagrand and logged out. No big deal, right? Well, when I logged back in a day or two later, I was standing in front of the Telaar mailbox.

Odd, right? I didn't think anything of it at the time. I just went on my merry way, questing and chatting with my friends. It wasn't until I got back to the Inn much later that I realized why I had been parked in front of the mailbox. My account had been hacked. My 660+ gold had been stolen.

I wasn't too surprised. This had happened to me before, over a year and a half ago actually. I had a keylogger from a malicious UI mod on my PC back then, and someone used it to gain access to my account, take my characters, my gold, everything. He/she had even gone to the trouble to delete my characters. Luckily Blizzard saw there was something not right, restored my characters, and their items/gold and I was happily on my way.

The same thing happened this time. I contacted the GM staff, they checked the activity on my account, restored my gold and assured me that proper action had been taken against the hacker. I changed my password, checked my HDD for viruses and spyware and all of that. I don't use UI Mods anymore, so it was either dumb luck or the same guy who had hacked me before, cracking my ingenious idea of using the same password I had used when I was 1st hacked over a year prior.

Anyway, I was just happy to have my gold back. The whole reason I re-subbed for a month, aside from friends and family, was to maybe hit 70 at get my flying mount. Had Blizzard not returned my gold, I'd have been S.O.L. But then something stranger happened.

I logged in last night after a couple days' break, and found I had mail again. I expected gold-spam, or a Blizzard notice... anything but what I found. A character who shall remain nameless had sent me 665g and 5s. This is the exact amount Blizzard restored to my hunter earlier in the week. I checked my other characters that had been stolen from. Same thing. The exact amounts Blizzard had restored had been sent to me by this player.

No ifs ands or buts about it... the hacker had sent me this gold. I immediately opened a ticket to the GMs. An hour or so later they contacted me, and after explaining what had happened, even that Blizzard had already restored the gold to me, they said the money was mine to keep. I had no obligation to send it back. They were shocked I even reported it. I guess honesty doesn't happen too often on the internet, or something.

Anyway, over 700 gold was sent to me by this guy. It's no coincidence. This is the hacker that sent me this money. Is he trying to get me in trouble? Make it look like I bought gold or hacked his account? Because that won't work, methinks. Not after my talk with the GMs about the situation. Is he just feeling bad about his work? Is he regaining his faith? What is it?

More importantly, how long should I wait before I go get my epic ground mount that I've never been able to afford?

(Side Note: Harry Potter was good. Not great. Lots of crap cut from the book that didn't need t be. But it was still a good movie that sets up the 6th one nicely. Ending was way rushed though. Worth a matinee, but you're better off reading the book.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

One more thing...

Who wants to make 15 bucks for just surfing the web for 5 hours a month?

I surf for likely about 3-4 times that myself, and that 15 bucks could pay for my MMO addiction in the face of soon to be paid college costs.

Not to sound like a salesman, but it's called, "Agloco". It's entirely free. You don't have to "complete" any deals or any bullcrap like that. You just download the toolbar, and let it run ads at the very bottom of your screen while you surf the next.

The company gets paid to have users, and you get paid by the company. Up to 5 hours worth of personal surfing per month, and added hours for every person you refer.

So please, don't take my word for it, check it out at my referral link (you'd be helping me out here, and everyone loves to help a Bildo): www.agloco.com/r/BBFZ1302

You can also choose not to refer me, but just visiting the home page, but then I'd be a sad panda. It really is free. It's not spyware, and it costs you no more than 1/2 an inch of browser screen space. I've already gained about 1 dollar typing this for crying out loud. :) Hop to it and feel free to check it out yourself before signing up.

Okay, NOW have a good weekend. :)

Non-Gaming Related...

I start my 1st real in-depth Web Development class today. Over the course of 5 weeks of intensive online classes, I should become at least semi-competent in Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive. Cross your fingers for me. This is the 1st class that I only have a very remedial knowledge about the subject matter. I know a handful of tags for HTML, but Dreamweaver is a whole new beast. :)

Short of the initial anxiety, I'm stoked. If all goes well I should be able to craft my wife a photography website and a new site for our webcomic in just over a month. I can't believe this degree program is going by so fast... that's what you get with accelerated degrees. It's like NeoUComm (sp?) for Web Designers. Hard on the ole brain, but worth the pressure. I'll be done with 3 years of school in a little over one for the same cost.

I'll still owe a buttload back to student loans (the cost of a cheap house), but it will be worth it to work in a field I truly enjoy. I'll be sure to post my dummy sites as I work on them over the next few weeks. What work I can post, anyway.

Have a safe weekend, all. Don't let the man get you down. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

E3 Brings Me Warm Fuzzies Still...

I know it's a whole other beast than what it once was, but I'll be damned if I wasn't glued to my computer screen for a few hours last night digesting press conferences and watching new game trailers.

I'm not getting my 360 any time soon, but I'm still geeking over the Mass Effect trailer, the RE5 one, and drooling over new screens from Fable 2 because I'm a geek like that. Assassin's Creed looks buggy but still good. Bioshock will be fantastic, I've not got a single doubt left. It almost makes me glad I don't and won't have my 360 this fall... I'd be pulling out hair over what games to buy and what to pass on.

Then there's Nintendo's stuff. As is their new creedo... it's all very different. What more can I say? There's the Balance Board and WiiFit, sure to frustrate and depress self-conscious people across the globe when it drops. Mario Kart Wii looks like Mario Kart... and that's a damn good thing. Metroid looks as good as many 360 games coming out graphically, and the controls really do seem spot on. Super Smash Brothers Brawl drops in December, Mario Galaxy drops in November... it's gaming Nirvana.

No big shockers though, from any company. Sony injected some life into their ailing PS3, with some great trailers, and their price drop. Not to mention a smaller, quicker, better PSP (I doubt it'll help it conquer the DS, but it's a good step in the right direction).

And the event's just started. I can't wait to read and watch reports on all of the MMOs in line to release over the next 6-12 months. I'll say it again... it's a good time to be a gamer.

Now if only something I'm waiting for would come out now... I wouldn't be so bored.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

RMT = Why's It Feel So Dirty?

Cameron over at Random-Battle made a great post, and a brave one in today's MMO metaverse. He bought some in-game currency. I won't hate on him, because I'm honestly not against RMTs. I just wish that the company making the game would handle it a la EQ2, and not leave it up to Gold Sellers and Buyers to ruin our economy for those of us who won't or can't buy gold.

Anyway, Cam mentions that it makes him feel dirty. I'd have to agree. I've never done it, because it feels like a drug deal in the MMO world. I'd feel too seedy and not in a good way. Here's what I had to say on the issue:

"In MMOs, so much emphasis is put on the amount of money your character has, just as in real life, that it’s tempting to spend some hard earned RL cash to make your in-game character wealthy.

But ultimately, I realize that unless some item really enhances my gameplay, not just makes me look cool, then I’m better off just forgetting about it and not worrying.

This is the same thought process that led me to realize I don’t need to get my 360 ASAP just because this Fall has a crapload of games coming out. I can save for it, wait for prices to come down and get it when I can get it instead of making myself broke.

The point is, that it’s a great reflection of our culture when even in our recreational acitivities we put so much emphasis on money.

I wish we could all do without it… but it’s an evil we have to live with."

I couldn't have said it... wait, I did say it. Anyway, it sucks to me that we spend as much time worrying about money in our games as we do in real life. But without an economy (CoH) games often feel like they're missing something. Is it just an addiction to wealth we have as a people?

I just want to have fun, you know? I worry about my finances enough as a student with 90k in college debt. What can be done to alleviate the virtual money woes?

If Beta Is A Sign of Things to Come...

Then I'm a little worried.

I'm referring to this beta I'm in, and have been in since last year. I can't tell you the name, but let's just say that it hasn't been a very assuring beta so far. For the 1st 3 months I couldn't log in due to problems with the software, then when I could log in, a new patch came out that made me unable to log in again... and I'm not the only one.

This is one of the games I was looking forward to most back in 2006, and now due to these issues it's quickly fading off my radar. I was let in to test, but I can't even test due to the problems with the client. This is a game that was supposed to come out last year, mind you.

We'll see how things go in the next month or two, since they're supposed to be way on top of the issue keeping a lot of testers from testing, but compared to LoTRO's beta, the difference is night and day.

If beta is the time to get your hardcore fans, this game is not doing so well right now. I'm hoping they get the problems straightened out, because believe me when I say that on paper this is a game that actually tries something new.

Anyway, speaking of LotRO, I'm stuck at 34 hunting down solo quests. The stuff I have left in Evendim isn't doable solo, so I'm left hunting around the globe for stuff to do. I headed into the Trollshaws last night, but so far I've only found one quest... to hunt 10 boars. Yay. I'm thinking I'm going to need to back off on LotRO for a bit and let more content get patched in for my playstyle.

I mean, there's plenty of group quests... but that's not my style. I'll do them for the epic quests, but I'd prefer to be left to my own devices for leveling. It's how WoW, CoH, AA, EQ2, and all those games of recent memory have spoiled me. If you want to solo, you can. By all means, I can still in LotRO... if I feel like grinding out deeds. Again, not my cup of tea. Combat's not fun enough to grind with.

Oh well, I'll keep you posted on my progression. As it is right now, I'm playing a lot of Need for Speed: Carbon on the Wii and waiting for the above-mentioned beta to get fixed so I can devote some time to it. That, or one of the other betas I've applied for can let me in and let me go bug-hunting. I'm begging, I know. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Can You Ever Please the Middlecore?

Psychochild has a great series of post over on his blog, rounded off recently with the post "Defining the Middlecore".

His essential definition, and one I'm inclined to agree with for the most part, is that today's "middlecore" players (both console and PC) are those lads and lasses that were once the hardest of the hardcore in their youth and now due to real life commitments are cattled into playing under "casual" time constraints. The middlecore gamer still wants the hardcore games... just on a casual time schedule.

I say I agree with this, because this is what I am. It fits me perfectly. When I started playing MMOs I was in high school. I had a very lax part-time job and a girlfriend. Now I'm a graduate, I have a full-time job, a wife and all of that baggage. Suddenly I find myself with 2 hours or less to play most nights, and yet I'm still in the boat that I want a game that's deep and meaningful. I want something rewarding with plenty of details to dig into.

I own a Wii. I love the controller. I love playing tennis. But dammit if I see one more mini-game announced for that little white system I'm going to explode into tiny pieces of Bildo all over my house. So here I am, a longtime fan of Nintendo, still clinging to them and absolutely thrilled that their kicking ass in sales these days once more... but nothing in the very near future outside of Metroid Prime 3 holds any interest for me. Manhunt 2 did, but now that's not coming anytime soon either. The Wii is a casual gamer's haven. And every so often I love to sit down and play one of its games for a little while with a family member. But, a deep and compelling experience, thus far it's not.

So I can turn to my PC... if I have the power to run the games coming out there. There was a time when 2 gigs of RAM and an ATI x1650 would have been a beastly machine... that time was 3 months ago. The PC hardware race moves too fast for most people like me to afford to keep up with. So many times, unless I have money to shell out on a new card, new PC games aren't meant for me.

Thank God, then, for the MMO. And as much as I'm sad to say it... thank God for WoW. Had WoW not come along and shown developers that it's okay to make solo play viable; that it's okay to make leveling less of a pain, I'd be sitting at my desk every night wishing I had the time to play EQ1... then ultimately resigning to Peggle because I only have an hour to play for the rest of my life.

I guess what I'm getting at, albeit in the form of a long-winded rant, is that if you're anything like me, you're probably pretty confused as a gamer right now. The industry is going into a "casual" creedo phase... and while the notion of casual works for our busy schedules, the content of the games does not satisfy.

So what does it take to feed the "middlecore"? Because my stomach would like to know.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Scalable Content

Why aren't encounters always scalable? Every time I think about CoH's scalable dungeons, I wonder why there isn't another company utilizing a similar feature while making it better in an upcoming game. Say what you will about repetitive tilesets in CoH, one can't deny that there is a massive amount of flexibilty for playstyles in that game. Solo? Sure, it'll just be less experience and less loot for you. 2 people? twice the mobs, twice the xp, and the loot. And so on and so forth.

Then I think about a game like LotRO, where the higher you get in level, the less solo-able content you find, and I can't help but think that Middle-earth could use a few scalable dungeons for players to travel through when they can't find a solo quest. I'm 34 in LotRO now, and I'm forging onward. But in my quest log I have about 5 of 35 quests that are marked solo-able. It's enough to keep me pressing on, but I'm damned depressed at all the group quests I see. It's not that I hate grouping. It's that I PREFER solo-ing. Call me weird. It's just how I like to play. I like to play with myself... wait, er... um... moving on.

What I'm getting at is that all dungeons could be done this way. Even Onyxia in WoW could have a solo/small group scaled version. Where you don't directly face her, but you fight her offspring or something of that nature. Think of all the wasted Pre-BC raid content there is in WoW.

Hell, it's Monday and I'm hopped on Pepsi-Max, so maybe it's just me. But why is it so hard to make content that lets groups group an soloers solo? Diablo 2 did it. City of Heroes does it. What the hell is the hold-up?

New Strip over at Don't Panik

I won't always post that there's a new strip (though we do update every Sunday). But this one's gaming related, so it's worth mentioning here. :) Go take a look!

Regular update will be coming later today. Not much of an eventful weekend really. But who knows, I may get inspired. One can hope.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Player-Created Content

Tobold brought this up today, and just yesterday my gaming buddy and I were talking about it as well. We see the concept all over the forums, even hear it from the mouths of developers. But we haven't much proof of the concept except in the Ryzom Ring for "The Saga of Ryzom", a little played MMO that next to no one knows or cares about.

In our offline games, admittedly less prone to player-anarchy than in their online brethren, we see several games thriving for many years past their release due to player-created content. Neverwinter Nights and The Elder Scrolls come to mind. These games have such robust toolsets that are easy to learn and hard to master, that there are online communities devoted just to the creation of new content. These are games that have the magic 40 hour playtime, but their lifespans last much longer than one play-through due to the dedication of their fanbases.

Imagine then, an MMO that gave players with the imagination and devotion the chance to create their own missions. Create their own dungeons. Create their own bosses and items.

Of course
if an MMO were to use this there need to be a good chunk of people in line to filter content and make sure nothing objectionable or "cheatastic" got through. But if the toolset was built accordingly, this could be taken care of from the word go. If you give your players enough freedom to create this kind of content, you'd be surprised how far they can take it. Evidence of this is all over NWN, TES, and Titan Quest. Even more so with the Unreal series of FPS games. Mods are what make PC games more worth of that 50 dollar pricetag than their console counterparts.

Yet, as MMO gamers we pay the 50 dollar price, we pay 15 dollars a month, and we're happy with our every so often updates and paid expansions. But imagine the retention rate of the game that right from the launch has a robust toolset to craft dungeons with and share the creation with the masses. Imagine being part of that. Imagine a world that really does always have something new to try. No "Man, I can't wait for the patch to come" because if you want new content you need only make it yourself, or go searching for someone else's newest addition.

There are plenty of limitations I know that would need to be put in. Not to mention the time it would take to make a user-friendly world builder that anyone can use. But I truly believe the end result would be worth far more than the effort it takes to get there. The MMORPG as we know it could be altered by doing what every developer says they want to do... put the world in the players' hands.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

My 4th = Transformers Ruled and Titan Quest is Fun

Sorry for the no post on Wednesday. I'm trying to make daily posts, but a holiday often impedes that goal, so I beg your forgiveness.

You read that title right. Transformers ruled. It was the most genuine blockbuster fun I've had at the movies in a long time. Everything about it was hokey, geeky, and absurd... but damn was it fun to experience. I won't go into a rant about direction, acting, or any of that. There's no need. Just know that it's a wild ride, with great laughs, and amazing visuals. Michael Bay + Steven Spielberg = Great Freaking Action Movie. Go see it, for the kid in you.

On the gaming side of things I managed to accidentally hit level 32 in LotRO. I'm taking a couple day break (or so I tell myself) because I want to pace Begud a bit. Apparently there's some great new stuff coming in the August Chapter 10 update, for levels 35+, and I don't want to hit the level 40 solo-wall only to be bored while I wait.

So what did I do for my gaming fix? I picked up Titan Quest again and SoulSeekkor's TQDefiler. The result? A game that's way more fun than it was the 1st time through.

For those not familiar with it, Titan Quest is basically Diablo in ancient Greece, China, and Egypt. I've not bought the expansion yet, which also covers Hades. Anyway, I've been playing through it again with TQDefiler altering my play experience... in short, I've been cheating. I've increased the experience gain by a multiple of 5, increased the chance to get rares from chests, and increased the amount of skill points I get each level.

Does it unbalance the game? Of course. But does it making playing through dungeons that are static and don't change all over again way more exciting? Definitely. I'm not playing online, just by myself. So if you ask me, it's not cheating so much as making sure I get my money's worth.

I'm sure others would say differently, but eff 'em. I was once bored, but now I'm found. Was nerfed, but now I'm free.

Oh and one last thing... does anyone know how to play Anarchy Online? I'm trying out the free client, but hot-damn is it confusing for a newbie. Give me a hand, if you've got tips.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

One Flies Over...

Keen already touched on this over at his place, and he's none to happy about the idea. I can understand where he's coming from, but I have to disagree with the sentiment that this is not something the game needs.

You see, just today Turbine announced the mysterious new gameplay feature that will be coming in August to LotRO: Session Play. Obviously, as any sane person would, Keen is focusing on the fact that with this you'll be able to play as Chickens for a special goofy quest line, and some special items and deeds, even destiny points.

If this was something we were supposed to take seriously, as some massive new addition to a game that needs way more content in the 40-50 gap, I'd be miffed too. But it's not. It's merely a small part of a new feature. What Keen seems to have missed, and I'm sure many more will miss it, is that they also mention being able to play Trolls and Rangers too, presumably in the Ettenmoors. Now, if their part of the Session Play system is as fleshed out as the Chickens' seem to be, it'll be yet another thing to do at the level cap for those who are there already.

Will it be what those power gamers want (I'm not using that term derogatorily here)? Probably not. But there will likely be still more coming with the Book 10 patch besides Session Play with Chickens, Trolls, and Rangers. I'd count on plenty of new stuff, just like Evendim brought.

Then why focus on this bit of info with a press-release? Because, in all honesty, this is the kind of stuff the game's true intended audience cares about. Not Tolkien fanatics. Not power-gamers. I'm talking about the casual adult player, who likes to use LotRO for a game foremost, and a job lastly. Monster-play is a casual alternative to leveling, albeit with PvP. Crafting is the same. Music. Deeds. And now Chicken-play.

What I think a lot of people forget about MMORPGs is that they're not always just about levels and advancement. They started as more than that. They started as worlds. They started without exclamation point quests, and level caps. I for one, am glad that Turbine is remembering there's plenty of room in their game for more than just levels and dungeons and loot.

I look forward to the day I get to flap around like a hobbit with its head cut off. I hope more games remember that there are more than a few kinds of content to be made and appreciated.

(EDIT: This was not meant to be a dig at you, Keen. Just used your post as a frame of reference. I'm sure many players are wondering what the hell Turbine was thinking right along with you.)

Another EDIT: I don't normally pull material from the VN boards, mainly because I can post my thoughts there. But being at work I can't. This ties into this post about LotRO's content, so I thought I'd add it here. There's a few posters over on the the Vault that keep bringing up the fact that they have nothing to do at 50. Though often enough they're shot down by the numerous tales of what one can do at 50, if it doesn't involve dungeons or "true PvP" (whatever that is) they just continue to spout their hatred.

And yet, each time their points are proven wrong, they come back with more of the same argument, which is inevitably torn apart again. One such post, has Rathulfur addressing one of our regular "whiners" (I hate that term, but it really is the case). This, above all, is what anyone who wants to complain about LotRO's "not enough content" should read:

*Nameless person*, the problem is that your dire predictions came as no surprise to anyone but you.

From the very start, especially those of us who played in Beta, we already knew that the gameplay was repetitive, there was a lack of solo content at higher levels, and there's nothing to do at 50. We already knew this because: (a) Turbine told us as much, (b) other Beta players told us as much, having done it in Beta, and (c) that's typical for a newly-released MMORPG.

We had ample, fair warning that LotRO was being developed and targetted for Explorers/Socializers, not Achievers/Killers. Turbine repeatedly stated that they weren't catering to power-gamers that race to max level. They admitted that they couldn't possibly hope to keep up with the delivery of content at the fast pace that a MINORITY of players consume it. So they announced that they were planning to deliver content at their own pace, and in their own fashion. Those players willing to go along with that would not be disappointed. The game is officially only 2 months and 1 week old, and Turbine has ALREADY delivered one content update, and the next one is slated for release next month.

If anyone is a non-stop loop, it's you, *******. You keep coming here to repeat "the sky is falling!" and "see: I told you so!" over and over again. You and a couple of other players are not satisfied with either the SPEED or TYPE of content being delivered. Turbine isn't delivering what YOU want, when you want it, and because of that, you're disappointed. Hey, I can understand that, but there isn't anything to be done about it. It's not something that's going to change to suit you any time soon.

The rest of us are merely trying to point out the obvious conclusion. You have only two options: either (a) sit down, shut up, and take what's offered, or (b) move on to something else. I'm not saying that you cannot or should not voice your opinion, as long as it's constructive. But simply repeating "I told you so!" posts over and over again isn't valid opinion, and it isn't constructive.

If you're at max level with nothing to do, and you don't like the ALTERNATIVE (i.e., non-combat, non-advancement, non-leveling) content (e.g.: Deeds, Traits, Titles, chicken-ball, pub crawls, pipe-weed, fireworks, etc.), then all we are saying is: perhaps you don't really like LotRO. LotRO is about more than just hacking and slashing one's way to max level. LotRO is about more than just phat lewt. LotRO is about more than just ganking or zerging other players. LotRO is about more than just grinding out quests. LotRO is about more than just role-playing, pipe-smoking, beer-swilling, and chicken-chasing. LotRO is about more than just any ONE of those things, but it is about ALL of those things.

We're not disagreeing with you, or even accusing you of going too fast: we're simply pointing out that you need to adjust your expectations or move on. It's that simple.

Adjust your expectations or move on. Couldn't have put it better myself. Rathulfr is right. It may not be the end all/be all of MMOs, and it's certainly not for everyone. But man couldn't every MMO forum do without the people who seem to constantly whine and bitch instead of just moving on?

Auto Assault Runs Out of Gas

It's a sad day for AutoDuel and CarWars fans everywhere. Yesterday, NCsoft announced that it will be shutting the doors to their failed but underappreciated MMO, Auto Assault. The last day will be August 31st, and after that there will be no going back to Ground Zero.

My feelings on Auto Assault are a mixed bag, really. For a solid 3 months I played it religiously, from the day it came out. I was one of the few who pre-ordered and bought the 60 dollar collector's edition (great set of headphones in that). I had high hopes for the unique concept, despite worries of my own about its readiness for prime-time.

But remember that wall I talked about in LotRO? The one I'm worried of hitting around level 40 or so? Well it was much worse in the early days of Auto Assault. There actually was a time when you ran out of quests to do, several spaces actually. As any one of the 3 races. And this left you with little else to do but grind mobs to level up. The combat in the game was fun no doubt, but not that fun. I left the game at level 40 or so, came back when more content was supposed to be patched in to help out those level gaps, hit 58... and left for the last time.

The game, so fresh in concept had lost its appeal. Maybe it was the bugs. Maybe it was the desynch error. Maybe it was the lack of anything to look forward to when I did hit the level cap. Maybe it was just that the game was not very engaging for me, as I had once hoped.

But here I was, one of AA's earliest and most hopeful adopters... and I left for good not half a year after its launch. I should have guessed then that this day was not far off. The EU and US servers merged, the NetDevil team was moving on to a new unannounced project. NCsoft laid off a lot of employees (though they did state it wasn't related to AA's failure, this is hard to believe). The message boards never had more than about 20 people on them at one time. It was as though the game came out and no one cared but us few hundred people.

There are many things that went wrong for AA. But the most worrisome is that it was something different. It failed. How many more games with something new to offer will see the light of day before they can no longer find publishers? Leaving us with WoW and EQ for the rest of our gaming lives?

Hopefully Tabula Rasa, Conan, Spellborn, and the whole host of games coming out that are trying something different, do it better than AA and see more success. As a gamer, I'm praying for it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

I'd Rather Be Sailing...

My friend and fellow blogger, Keen has been feeling a little down these past 4 days. He's in the middle of what all of us gamers necessarily experience... a slump. Nothing to play, even though you have a wealth of games. Nothing's grabbing him.

And I'm right there with him. This Friday evening I pushed hard to finish my homework so that I could focus on LotRO and get some adventuring done... and yet I barely played the whole weekend. Why? I'm still having fun with the game, but why then don't I feel like playing it?

It's not the summer months by themselves I don't think. I got out of the house, spent some time in Cleveland, and had a cookout with family on Sunday. It's not like I'm couped up indoors all day. Then it hit me...

It's all these other games I'm dying to play. I'm still waiting for the tax amendment check to get my 360. I'm counting the days until the Pirates of the Burning Sea releases or lets me into the beta. I'm wondering if Gods and Heroes is indeed going to make the August scheduled release. I'm hoping sooner or later that Flagship will release Mythos to the masses, while I wait for October to come along and bring Hellgate: London. I'm wondering when Funcom is going to realize how awesome I am and send my a Conan beta key. Basically... it's the time of year for Game Expos and dreams of something new and shiny.

Don't even get me started on the 360 games coming out this fall. Everything from Mass Effect to GTAIV to Blue Dragon to Too Human. Nevermind that Halo rubbish everyone goes ga-ga over. Ugh, and then there's Super Mario Galaxy, Smash Brothers, Metroid Prime, and more on the Wii. FF: Crystal Chronicles, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and more on the DS. It's ridiculous how good the release list seems to be this late summer and fall into the holiday season.

And it's pissing me off.

I have nothing but perfectly fun games to play, many I've barely touched. I've still got to finish Zelda on the Wii, for Pete's sake. But I don't care. I just want something new. More importantly, I just want my frigate, my crew, and my rum. Could someone please tell Flying Lab I'm waiting?