Friday, August 31, 2007

Twas the best of times. twas the worst of times.

Things have been so crazy lately, I'm on my way out of Saratoga and on my way back one final time to Rochester and the RI of T. I am very nervous and anxious about this being my last quarter of being a college student, but I'll do my damnedest to make the best of it. Anyways on to games!


So my friend Jeff bought Bioshock last week and wow was it a whole lot better than I'd imagined. While I've only played four or five hours of the game so far, I've been impressed primarily by the graphics. Just wow, I'm amazed how just incredible the elemental effects(i.e. water, fire, etc...) are, Jeff started the game up and had no idea that he was actually controlling the character, he honestly believed we were still in a cut scene, it looked that good. But this is no one trick pony, the game setting and story add so much to the game. While most first person shooters are set in some post-industrial apocalypse, things are set in the 1950's with all of the period costumes and architecture, it really makes the game all the more creepy. The game play and combat systems are nothing new but that is not to say they are deficient in any way, in fact a lot of the powers are a ton of fun. So far I'm really loving it, it is up in the top 10 FPS games I've played.

Other than Bioshock, I've been playing a bit of EQ2, my Wizard, Chestone is level 26 and having fun questing around ButcherBlock Mountains. I've been having a lot of fun just exploring the world and the game, getting to understand which boat goes where and how travel works. I've almost made enough for the cheapest horse but it says I require a guild to be able to purchase at such a low level, we'll see about that as I'm looking to join a guild right now. Also I started playing LoN the other night and have found it pretty enjoyable. I'm a veteran of the CCG scene, having played everything from Magic:TG, and Overpower to the WoW CCG and Legend of the Five Rings, and a few others in there(like every Star Wars CCG). Anyways I enjoyed it, but I've never really been one to pay for cards only accessible online, so I am not entirely sure I buy into the whole thing. Now I don't know if it is better than old school EverQuest /gems(does anyone have an screenshot of this game?), but it is certainly a worthy waste of in game time.

I'm off to get packing, once I settle down I'll get back into the swing of things.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

News Redux

Well I've been really sick and generally unpleasant the past week and a half, so rather than research a new topic and post real content I'll just put in my two cents in on the events of the past week that I've missed out on.

  1. All the rage, of course is Bioshock

  2. I played the demo on the 360, it was fun, good, but not great. Nothing new feature wise, good shooter with a neat story and setting. Though some people seem to be jaded on all of buzz surrounding this super hyped game.

  3. Pay for Play Betas

  4. This has been coming for awhile now and I'm honestly not surprised. Other companies(i.e. Blizz and others) have been giving away keys to FilePlanet subscribers for years and that is essentially the same thing. It is sad that such an important part of the game development cycle has been turned into a marketing tool, but it has, and alpha is the new beta. But on the plus side, the game Hellgate:London looks awesome, though really isn't worth the price of the figurine.

  5. Legends of Norrath!

  6. With all of the hype and coverage of this mini-game you'd think it was the second coming. But its not, its an in-game CCG. Seriously people, it is fun and all but do we really need a write up on every single MMO blog? I am starting to think I'm the only person that isn't really excited about this.

  7. Vanguard - Game Update #2

  8. This looks to be the "getting up to speed" update, and it looks good, I wish I had an active VG subscription to check it out, alas I do not so I cannot speak directly to these changes. But after reading over the notes I'm really excited for what is to come with Vanguard, because deep down I'm a Vanboi, and I really want this game to succeed.

  9. SOE no longer publishing Gods and Heroes

  10. This is not surprising to me, the game does not look impressive and I have little faith it will really create a sustainable community/playerbase, now maybe I'm completely wrong but I just don't see much of a future for this game. It has some cute new concepts but just doesn't seem ready for the MMO public.

I don't think I missed anything, if so leave it in the comments. I finally got the chance to check out Stardust over the weekend and it was great, I really enjoyed it, very cute but a the same time fun for everyone, really reminded me of the Princess Bride. Anyways so that is it, I'll be back to posting in no time, I have a few good rants I can't wait to finish up.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sour on the End Game, sounds like it.

In my daily routine I scope out the blogs and news aggregators and came across this gem of angst. Now I know that I'm not exactly the first person to get a little ticked off about this article(here, and here). But I just have to have a little say in this as an ex-hardcore raider. As Julie pointed out, it(raiding) is all about the people. Well it is mostly, but its also about the loot, and the feeling of achievement.

When I think back to my EQ days, I have very fond memories of raiding the old Planes(Hate, Fear(oh how well I know you), and Sky), NToV, Ssra, etc... I rarely ever felt regret in having spent the time in the dungeons and preparing for them(i.e. grinding exp w/ guildies). And really let me say that grinding isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be, again with grinding as with raiding it is all about the people. My EQ experience left me with a positive impression of end game guilds, as did my DAoC experience but to a lesser extent. WoW on the other hand has seriously soured me to end game guilds as the guilds that I've raided MC, BWL, ZG, etc... were not nearly of the same caliber, both socially and with regard to in game skill. Again it is all about the people, it wasn't the game that got me ticked off at the end of the day, it was the people.

It goes without saying that Jeff Vogel either hasn't really played at the high end, or he has been soured to the end game by a bad guild experience or several. I fully admit that things such as loot disputes, and general guild drama contribute to some of the bad experiences(in fact drama is the reason I quit EQ to begin with), but these experiences are far overshadowed by the fun times I've had with people half way around the world, people that have had an impact on me and that I've had an impact on. I've been invited numerous times to visit guild members at their homes and taken a few up on this, and I've shared many very personal experiences with other gamers who I still talk to this day. And when I left the game, yes in fact people did wonder where I went and cared about my situation. Of course they moved on though, like any relationship or organization when one member is lost the others cope and move on. That shouldn't be seen as an uncaring move as Jeff seems to believe, but is the natural progression of social organizations. I was not simply a puzzle piece to be replaced, neither were the other members who left the game, but in a guild of 60+ people losing one member no matter how critical is usually not cause to fold the whole team.

So in short I'm very disappointed that Jeff Vogel would make such callous remarks about high end gamers. Yes there are bad apples, and with the advent of WoW and its 9 million subs, of course the number of jerks and terrible guilds will increase but that is no reason to write off the entire end game. Which to me is really the meat of the game, where you actually slay the dragons and participate in the epic battles, and along the way meet some great and not so great people. I for one do not regret my time at the high end and often wish I could make a return. And Jeff's assumption that high end gamers are those stereotypical gamers in their Mother's basement is so incredibly wrong I can't even imagine where this guy gets his information. I've played with everyone from house wives to business executives and everyone in between, with people from down the block to people around the world, so please Jeff stop reading the major media headlines and if you are going to comment on a large and very important part of the player base try it before you knock it.


P.S. I apologize for the lack of posting, but I've been under the weather and havn't really had the energy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

FanFaire Recap!

Yes, its true, though limited I did make an FanFaire appearance!

I have to say I only attended for one day, and half a day at that(curse you Vegas hangovers). But I was impressed, there was a much larger crowd than I was anticipating, and the setup SOE had was pretty snazzy, especially for the cost of admission which wasn't all that much for the event and panel list. So I only attended a few panels, they were held in very tiny rooms with chairs for about thirty people. It was a very personal experience, unlike DefCon whose talks were given in huge lecture rooms fit to hold hundreds. I wasn't able to hang around as much as I wanted to, mostly because of the hangover, but I chilled out in the vendor/game/etc.. area for a bit and wrote blog posts meeting a few people along the way.
The crowd was certainly a mix bag, spanning all ages and professions, with a few costumed folks running around. The panels though were great, very informative, and the speakers were very open to answering any questions. I really enjoyed the level of detail some of the questions received it really gave me an idea of how things happen behind the scenes and the relationship different departments have with each other. All in all, coming out of FanFaire I have a very positive view of SOE and their upcoming releases and cannot wait until next year(hopefully it will not conflict with DefCon as it did this year) where I will be able to attend without having to split my time, because although I did get quite a lot out of FanFaire, I feel like I really missed out on some good times and good people.

P.S. Sorry Cuppy for not getting in touch, my phone battery died the second day in Vegas and I forgot my charger at home(note to all travelers, don't leave your charger behind it will plague you throughout your vacation) .


Thursday, August 9, 2007


Seriously all gaming companies, we have so much news to filter through right now and I know I'm feeling overloaded. What with FanFaire and Blizzcon having just concluded there is just so much time in the day to rummage through the line of tabs I have open in FireFox.

Anyways, in my rummaging I came across an announcement from SOE about an upcoming MMO. Now I couldn't believe it when I first saw the story, with The Agency and Pirates of the Burning Sea(though not developed by SOE they are still pushing it) on the horizon along with the upcoming EQ and EQ2 expansions, not to mention the overhaul that is being done on Vanguard it seems a little like SOE is overextending themselves with so much in development. But after reading the announcement I believe that this is a move in a different direction not directly aimed at their current demographic. Ramayan 3392 A.D., looks to me like SOE is taking aim at the emerging tech-wonder India and attempting to tap that market and establish itself before any other firm. Maybe I'm completely wrong, but this makes more sense to me as they did not announce this at FanFaire as it is not really aimed at its current customer base. I am really interested in how this will turn out if I am correct as it is quite a risk to open up to a new market like this. Anyways if you have any other opinions I'd love to hear them so drop a comment.


YAFFP(Yet Another FanFaire Post): Vanguard

Note: This was after my limited appearance at this years FanFaire, just some notes I took and thoughts after the "Game Design" panel for Vanguard. I have to say I am really excited about all of the new developments in VG. Anyways I'll post my FF recap tomorrow, so as not to inundate you guys with posts.

Well I just got out of the Vanguard "Game Design" panel, it was very interesting. There are a ton of updates coming with regard to diplomacy that frankly make me want to reinstall. They are introducing diplomacy bosses who have incredibly long dialogs going up to 50 lines, the first diplomacy boss Eldor will have a huge loot table and be repeatable which will be interesting. There are many other diplo bosses in the works as well.
One thing I found particularly interesting is "Animacy" the future feature that will allow players to resurrect recently killed NPCs and engage in diplomacy with them. This sounds incredibly bad ass and the crowd seemed impressed, also mentioned is the possibility of newbies to follow around other groups and perform Animacy on their recently killed mobs, it will be interesting to see how they handle this and what possibilities it will present.

A quest designer went through basically the anatomy of a quest, and how from start to finish quests are designed, using the Unicorn mount quest as an example. This was quite interesting to see, but not wholly surprising in any way.

One of the reward(loot) creators was also demoing some new tier 5 weapons with new tints and other cool stuff. There were some awesome new items and armor sets that will be introduced in future updates, including a new direction w/ armor including "warcrafty" like pauldrens, though they don't get too nuts as WoW has.

I have to say if this game continues to improve as it has I can easily see switching as soon as I can get a beastly machine to play it on. What I see as a large part of the problem is that there is a lot of legacy material that the devs are working with, often the original designer no longer works there and they are having to deal with their problems and their design. I can see this being a huge problem for the first year for VG, and as EQ2 has seen, can plauge them in the future. But once this hurdle is mostly cleared I can see VG becoming a real feature complete, straight up awesome game. And I for one can't wait for it.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

FanFaire Post: Anatomy of an Update

Note: This post was written right after attending the "Anatomy of and Update" Panel at FanFaire 2007. I'll have a FanFaire recap soon(I know I'm late but you are already I'm sure inundated with "FanFaire Recap" posts, so check mine out later.

So I finally got to FanFaire after much delay, hit up the "Anatomy of an Update" EQ2 panel. Which was quite good, Scott Hartsman is just as nice and personable as people have said. The panel overall was informative and really gave an in detail idea of how the update cycle works and how the fallout is handled bugwise. The panel rooms are much smaller than I thought, though it does give the participants a very close/personal feeling. I tried to get into the "EQ2: Into the Future" panel but it was packed, fortunetly though they will be breaking the panel into three 45 minute sessions for those that could not attend the previous. So I am looking forward to that along with a VG panel on game design, after that though it seems like it is already over! I have to say I really wish FanFaire were a bit longer, as it is only two days and DefCon is three. I have to say though they content of the panels seems pretty impressive, and I wish I had the chance to just do FanFaire instead of having to split my time between the two.

One cool thing that came out of the "Anatomy of an Update" panel was the revelation that there will most likely be another zone added before RoK is released(I missed the RoK panel and for that I am quite sad). Which is great, Scott and the group also gave insight into how these zones are created and I was surprised as the words "quality of the content" came up, it really gave me the feeling that quality was paramount, if a particular zone did not meet the benchmarks it is scrapped and either dumped or redone entirely. This kind of embodies the new EQ2 attitude, where broken content doesn't make it, adopting Blizzard's "when its ready" stance on content(though I can't say they are even close to perfection with regard to that statement(especially with regard to high end raid bosses)).

Also the panel talked a bit about the new and for coming "persistent instances" and how they work in terms of saving an instance and players being booted from instances. Basically the big thing is that players in a raid can be spread out amongst physical boxes and if one box goes down only those players will be booted and the players on the other box will remain in the instance. Also with that the instance is hard saved every time a "noteable mob" is killed, which means if a crash occurs you will most likely have to re-clear trash, which isn't the end of the world except if you are currently engaging a boss and the whole thing blows up, that wouldn't be a fun night. But still it is a decent system for such a complex environment, I have yet to have any real experience in these new zones so I can't comment from personal experience about it but I can assume raid leaders can force a save, or that before you leave the zone it saves the current progress.

Anyways great talk, time to go walk around!


Thursday, August 2, 2007


Just got into Vegas airport and am waiting on some friends to arrive playing "spot the hacker/gamer" and it is pretty entertaining, there was an emo band on the flight with me, though they had right to be emo, it was coach and we were packed in like sardines, AND the movie was Spiderman 3 which I really didn't care for much at all(especially on these tiny ~12" screens that I believe were from the era of The Macarana. Anyways enough of that my friends are here, see you all at Fan Faire!


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Pushing GUs Like Weights

Now I hate being an echo chamber of a blog but I felt since I now play EverQuest2 that I should make a post and have my say. So GU 37 was released, here are the official notes, with commentary here, here, and here. Now I'm not going to go on about this because I'm new to the game and frankly a lot of issues addressed in this update don't overly concern me as a newbie. Though one thing I have to say the new furniture is fabulous, I just love it(check out pictures here, since I don't much like deeplinking).

One thing I am concerned about is vendor buyback and its effect on overall game immersion. It really seems to me that the ability to buy back the last ten items you sold to ANY vendor is a little ridiculous. Say I sold to Johnny McFriendly and we are good buddies, I have a positive faction with his people then sure I can see him selling me back things I might not have wanted to sell because we are buddies. Now if I were say selling to the Shady Swashbuckler(nostalgia kick!) and he is a unscrupulous character with whom I had rather poor relations, now I wouldn't expect him to sell me anything back at anything but an increased cost. The idea that this guy would hold my items and sell them back to me at the price that I purchased them seems ridiculous to me. Of course this is another move toward convenience over immersion, and another "Warcraft's done it" feature. This is fine and all as I'm sure I'll use the system and enjoy it, but I felt the need to get out a little bitching about immersion.

Anyways, time to go enjoy some GU37 goodness.

Edit: I didn't realize this at the time of writing but EQ2 has added in a "smart loot" system that frankly blows my mind. The mob intelligently drops epic/fabled loots based upon the inventory of the raid members. I had no idea this was going into the game and am dumbfounded that none has as far as I know introduced this system. A great discussion is going on over at FoH, so check it out.