Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

[Xbox] I’m a Dragonslayer. Yay.

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Misc

I’m not usually one for console gaming. I mean, not these days. Sure, when I was younger I had a NES, SNES, N64, PS2, and even a Gameboy (don’t hate). I snagged an XBox 360 when my first kiddo was born. It was mainly to help pass the nights while the wifey took her rests.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my 360. I’m jaded though. I’m used to the expansive worlds of the MMORPG. Or playing an FPS on a keyboard and mouse. I just don’t think you can top those. The 360 comes close. Pretty damn close. And at the peak of that mountain reaching for the PC heavens is Skyrim.

I’d never heard of Skyrim until it came out. The world was aflutter with this new game. I caught a bit of the excitement until I read “Elder Scrolls” which immediately threw me back to “Oblivion”. To put Oblivion in perspective, I have 60 achievement points in Oblivion. I also have 60 points in “Fable Coin Golf” for the Windows Phone 7. Yeah, I hated Oblivion. I’ve blocked out so much of it, that I don’t even know why I hated it. All I remember going was “really? Seriously? Fuck this, I’m out.”

So, when I heard Skyrim was the next in line, I said “fuck this, I’m out and I’m saving $60 this time.” That wasn’t meant to be, though. A friend managed to talk me into getting it. How he did that, I don’t know. He’s not even in the same Time Zone as me, but he managed to get me to spend $60 on a game I was dead set against buying.

I’m glad he did. Skyrim was a good game. Was it flawless? Hell no. The game managed to lock up my system five times over the past two and a half weeks. Typing that out, I realize that I’ve put 47 hours into a game in two and a half weeks. That certainly means they did something right.  I think the entire internet has lauded everything that Skyrim did right.  It was a gorgeous, deep game that kept you on the edge of your seats as the plot evolved.  I don’t need to waste your time reading that stuff again.

SPOILERS

I’m a little bit disheartened though.  The main quest line was fun, but entirely too short.  I felt that I did more work in Riften trying to kill Mercer than I did in trying to kill Alduin.  It was engaging, sure.  I think they just flat out ran out of story.  For that, I’m cranky.  While I realize that the story has to end sometime, I didn’t expect it to end so abruptly.  I went into the end-fight in Sovngarde wholly expecting a “Whoa shit!” moment and for the plot to take a drastic turn.  When Alduin died, I was pretty irked.  “That’s it?” was my first though.  There was more “Oh snap!” when the Circle ended up being werewolves.

END SPOILERS

I think that had I known the entire main story-arc could be completed so easily, I wouldn’t have worked on it nearly as much as I did.  I completed Whiterun, Riften and a good chunk of Markarth, bought two houses, fully furnished one of them and have a pretty good chunk of cash to go play around with.

That said, I can’t help but feel a bit jaded.  Now that I know the game has been completed, why am I going to run around Skyrim and help other people?  I wish I had the perseverance to get all the achievements in the game, as none sound completely ridiculous.  I just don’t see that happening.

 

 

What’s your Favorite Beta Flavor?

Posted: September 6, 2011 in Misc

I’m in a handful of beta tests right now.  Suffice to say, they are ALL drastically different.  I can’t speak to any details about the games though, as I’m under pretty hefty NDAs and I don’t wanna get my ass sued.  Also, I’m not a total douche log.

For Game X, beta feels… rough.  There’s features that aren’t implemented and the fundamental core concepts seem like they’re relatively unfinished.  Release seems like it will be a good ways out.

For Game Y, beta feels like I’m actually playing the product.  All the fundamental systems work, and the gameplay is smooth and refined.  I’d probably go out and pay for this product right now as it is.  Release could be just around the corner, for all I know.

So, which is more fun to play?  The average gamer out there would answer in about half a second.  And hell, if you were just talking about fun-factor, it would be pretty easy.  You’d want to play the beta that felt more like a game.  You want entertainment.  You want a sense of accomplishment.  You want to know you advanced.  You want to know what you’re getting into, without having to buy the game.

But, as a developer, which would I rather play?  Which is more fulfilling?  That’s hard.  I don’t know that you can fairly ask that question, as everyone might have a different Ideological View of what Beta should be.  Should it allow the tester to be influential in how the future of the game is going to progress, and which direction the developer chooses?  Should it simply be a validation for the path that the developer has already chosen? Or should it be somewhere in the middle?   It’s a pretty murky question, if you ask me.

Let’s tackle the first type of Beta:  The Grassroots Beta, as I’ll call it.  In the Grassroots Beta, the developer comes to the fight without armor on.  They open themselves up, they say “Hey, we have an idea, and want to know if you like it.  We’ll get it to function as well as we can, but we’re open to the idea of changing it, if you think it’ll be a good idea.”  There’s a whole smattering of feel-good in this.  On the plus side, you have an instantly accessible developer who comes off genuine and admits they don’t have all the answers.  They’re big on collaboration and want to see the genre progress.  In a Grassroots Beta, you, the beta tester, feel like you are almost part of the staff.  That’s a somewhat dangerous sense of empowerment, as I’ll flip the coin.

With so much influence at the ground-level, it can be tough as a developer to keep the final goal, or product.*  Rancid might have a great idea about how crafting should work, but maybe down the road, that severely interferes with how the auction house system works.  The player, after all, is just the customer.  And while they may pay your bills, the customer is not always right.  In fact they’re probably wrong.  It happens.  That’s life.  At some point, the developer needs to rely on the fact that they are the developer and know what is best.  They see the big picture.  They know the end-product’s goals.

Moving on to the other type of Beta: Dubbed (by someone else) The Marketing Beta.  The Marketing Beta is where the dev team comes to the players and really just needs some fine-tuning.  They’ve come to the conclusion (valid or invalid) about how the game is going to work, and they’ve developed to an end-product.  This is a boon to the beta tester, as they see the full intent of the game.  They know where it is headed and they can more accurately respond to questions about the game.  It’s easy to comment on the minutia, when you can see the whole picture.

Therein-lies the drawback.  With so much work being already put into the game, you’re not going to alter the face of the game as a beta tester.  It’s pretty well-established already, and you’re there to validate or invalidate the direction the developer has taken.  Whether or not your validation is taken to heart is, of course, up to that developer.  Suffice to say, based on history, very rarely does the developer drastically alter the course of the game once it has made it to a Marketing Beta phase.  It could happen, sure.  There’s a metric crap-ton of issues though, with changing so much once it’s been brought into this level of public exposure.

So where would you like to help?  What’s your favorite flavor of Beta?  Do you like the Grassroots Beta, where you feel like you are a significant influence on the future of the game?  Or do you like the Marketing Beta, where you have a pretty good idea of what the game is going to ship like, and get to have a special “try before you buy” session?

 

*And that’s an intentional use of the word, as every gamer at heart needs to realize that video games are products for sale, for consumption and for monetary gain.  Every developer out there doesn’t suspend their need for four walls and three squares a day just because they like video games.  They are giving up a job in more mundane fields to do what they love, but they still need to eat, yo.

No lies here.  I’ve been incredibly busy at work, which is when I usually keep tabs on all the games of the world.  I actually do work too, but most of the time I’m waiting on requirements and I get to peruse the interwebs and all their glory.

I just managed to get around to reading the crafting FAQ.  There’s so much win in there, I can’t put into words just how excited I am to try Prime.  I’ll try though!

1.  1,000 points to max a crafting skill.  It was all to easy to get 300 points in WoW or 280 or whatever in Rift.  Having 1,000 points necessary means it’s going to take some time.  That leads to a more manageable economy as every Tom, Dick and Harry won’t be out there filling the AH with useless wares.  I’m all for competition, but sorting through pages of useless crap is annoying.

2.   Maxing secondary crafts at 200.  This reminds me a lot of DAoC before the “accessibility patches” that took the fun out of crafting.  With only 200 points, you’ll be able to bump your lowbies up a bit, but you won’t be able to be self-sufficient in every aspect.  You’ll have to spend quite a few hours to get to 1,000 in every craft (see why I like #1?)

3.  Considering crafting hubs.  I love this idea.  The sadistic part of me really wants some of those hubs to be PvP enabled.  I remember crafting in a keep in DAoC and get wtf ganked in the middle of an order.  What a pain.

4.  Crafting skill gains depend on combat skill.  This is really going to help stave off the lowbie crafting twinks.  I don’t mind those twinks really, but this will get people out doing PvP, which I love more.

5.  Biotech.  I’ve already mentioned that I love the idea of armor augments.  With the decay of items, this profession seems like it will be in high demand.

6.  Espionage System – Stealing trade secrets sounds pretty sweet.  I look forward to ganking some sweet recipes and then murdering the person I stole them from.

Needless to say, I really want to give this a try. Mix this system with a fully-realized open-world PvP system and I’m in love.  I cannot wait for this game to come out.

[BURNS EYES] The New Kotaku

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Misc

I know it may seem stupid to make a blog entry dedicated to a news site, but if you’ve been to the new Gawker.com and Kotaku.com, you’ll likely be feeling some of the rage I’m feeling right now.

The biggest draw for Kotaku was that  it was a Gaming news site.  I always hit the site first from an RSS link, read the article, and then hit the title link to get back to the homepage.  From there, I could scroll up and down to find a story that interested me.

They took that and punched it in the face, much how the front page continues to punch me in the face.  All that exists on the homepage is a main story and three of the latest stories.  This is fine if you’re not interesting in reading a bunch, but since this is a game site, it seems counter intuitive to limit the amount of information visible to the user on the main page.  There’s a reason that our task bars and desktops have simple titles for items.  It’s an index of sorts (probably why they called it INDEX.HTML originally) and you can navigate from there.

The entire look makes me feel claustrophobic.  I want to scroll down to see more headlines, but I can’t.  Add in the fact that the right “list” of items doesn’t scroll with you, and you’re really starting to irk me.  Having to page through stories to find something worth reading is NOT intuitive.  Magazines don’t do it.  Normal news sites don’t do it.  Why is Kotaku doing it?  Is it hip and trendy?  Is it meant to be read on a iPad or something?  I don’t need another reason to hate Apple, guys.

In short, head on over to Kotaku and wave goodbye.  I’ll be reading via RSS now, and cutting off any advertising revenue they may have gotten through me.  My clicks are precious, fellas.  Pass that on up to whatever nutfucker thought a purely AJAX driven news site would be Epic Win.  It’s just crap.

[Betas] Am I Missing the Boat?

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Misc, Web

Edit: I missed APB.  Holy smokes.

What’s up with the MMO Community and Beta Amnesia?  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, odds are you have it too.  It seems that every time a new game is up for Beta, the world takes notice.  People start sipping the Kool-Aid of concept art and testifying and re-preaching the developers’ posts as gospel while the rest of us sit in a stupor of wonder and amazement.  “Is this really going to be the next best MMO???”  “My friend Drizztdj is in the beta and he loves the game.” “Oh man, I need to get in that beta, it sounds awesome.”

Why do people continue to get so excited without taking into consideration the string of MMO failures over the past three years?  It’s not an auspicious trend, people.  Hey, let’s shake the dust off the past three years and see where we’ve come from:

Age of Conan – May 08

Age of Conan was ALL the rage in 2007 and 2008.  Holy shit folks, a beautiful game that shows boobies.  This MUST be the game that ends all games.  It has a unique combat system that’s sure to entice and absolutely no content beyond level 50.  Walk. Don’t run through this one, Drizz.

Warhammer Online – Sept 08

From the makers of DAoC….a game that is nothing like DAoC.  A hybrid between DAoC and WoW that picks up the shiny interface of WoW, the Gear-drive progression of WoW and the raids of WoW.  I’m not sure why it’s called a hybrid, if it didn’t pick up anything from DAoC.  At any rate, you can get to level 40 faster than you can get a server transfer.  Something about losing 68 of your 100 servers within six months, and 23 more over the next eight months.  If the server population scales appropriately, with the 750,000 subscribers touted at launch spread across 100 servers, that’s 7,500 players per server.  With that same player to server ratio, you’re looking at about 67,500 subs.  Not sure anyone would agree there’s 7,500 people on the servers, save maybe Badlands.

Champions Online

Champions did some really neat things.  Cell-shading for the graphics is probably the best look in an MMO I’ve seen.  I just love the feel of it.  It felt like this game was a bit of a rip from City of Heroes, which is still going strong.  I’m not sure what Cryptic was thinking though, with only releasing five areas for the entire game.  By comparison, WAR has 16 (including Land of the Dead).  It shouldn’t have been a shocker that after two years in the wild, CO went Free 2 Play.  That’s not necessarily a kiss of death by any means, but anytime you have to rearrange your business model, things likely aren’t going how you planned.

Fallen Earth

I’m glad someone did a post-apocalyptic MMO.  There’s a metric crap-ton you can do with the premise that life is changed as we know it.  It’s a pity that Icarus did a crap job developing it.  From the get-go bugs were rampant and the overall experience was lack-luster.  Hell, I couldn’t even stomach the beta, and I have a HUGE tolerance for buggy games.  I managed to live through Shadowbane before it got the axe.

Aion

This game was released in Korea long before it was released in the US.  Touted as not being “overly grindish” in order to cater to the grind-intolerant North American audience, it took about four hours of actually playing the game in order to realize that “overly grindish” statement was horseshit.  Sure, it wasn’t Lineage 2, but then again…most games aren’t (thank God).  Once you managed to swallow that load of crap, you had to deal with bots and farmers.  Oh were these bad.  They were SO bad, NCsoft was considering putting in a resource-farming debuff that could only be removed by validating againt a CAPTCHA.  Really.  I’m not sure if it went in, since I booked it out of there.  Something about not being able to log in for hours due to players setting up the ever-lasting Private Store and going to bed.

Star Trek Online

I actually didn’t read anything about STO.  I hate the ST universe as a whole and wish it would just go away.  If that doesn’t please you, you can go beam a fist into you…nevermind.

All Points Bulletin

This writeup is likely longer than the life of this game.  It sounded neat on paper, but was offline faster than Mastercard.com. There aint’ much that hasn’t been said about this game.  Poof, there it went.

Final Fantasy XIV

Trying to play off the success (if you’ll call it that) of FFXI, FFXIV released just earlier this year.  FF14 did for the MMO world what FF13 did for the Console RPG world.  It punched it in the nuts and took its money.  That’s the feeling you get from FF14.  With a Metacritic score lower than Mary Kate and Ashley, it isn’t a shocker that Square Enix apologized multiple times for the rubbish people paid for.  The shocker is that they feel so bad, they won’t be charging people to play it.  That’s some deep pockets, Square.  Your game is in the tank, so you might as well squeeze customers where you can.  I mean, that’s what all the others above are doing.

This all sounds a lot more bitter than I intended.  Maybe I’m bitter.  I don’t think I am, though.  If anything, a burden has been lifted off my chest and I’m playing a game now that I’m having fun with.

But the question remains…with all the craptacular MMO releases in the past, why do people still get so overly excited about a new MMO?  Do they really think it is going to “win” the internet and the MMO genre and redefine life as we know it?  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

I for one am off this boat.

Merry Christmas!

Posted: December 25, 2010 in Misc

Just wanted to wish everyone reading this a Merry Christmas.  I hope you both have a great day and if you’re on vacation…hope you have some good game time.

May your Zergs be small, may your numbers be purple, and may your bags be Gold.

[WARdrobe] Builder Updates

Posted: December 12, 2010 in Misc

I figured I might as well wrap up the functionality of the Renown Builder this weekend.  It wasn’t “too” much more work.  I’ve also wrapped up a couple extra issues:

  • Career Builder: Renown Abilities should no longer show up in the “Core” section.
  • Career Builder: You’ll now have a digest of your current spec available in the “Summary” textbox below.  It’s ready for copy/paste into a forum post. 🙂

Now for the list of changes to the Renown Builder.  These are mostly “finishing touches”, but here they are :

  • It’ll now check to ensure you don’t go over 100 points.
  • If you select an active ability, it’ll set the min-rank to 20 for you.
  • Added the total stats to the Stats row (thanks for the idea, Syrioq)
  • Will show how many points you’ve spent
  • Added a Text-box summary that you can use to paste into the forums.

There ya have it.  Check it out and let me know what you like, love or hate.