Far Cry 3

Steampowered Sunday #3

I guess at this point Steampowered Sunday is a real thing now.  I have friends nudging me in certain directions towards games I have in my steam list that I have yet to play.  Today I intended to play one game, but wound up playing another as I didn’t really plan ahead and pre-emptively install it.  So instead I decided to choose a game I did install over the Christmas break but never got around to playing.  One of my good friends snagged Far Cry 3 from my Steam wish list and gifted it to me during the insane Christmas sale.  I had always heard really amazing things about the game, so it sounded like something I would enjoy.

Already Installed DirectX Checkbox

farcry3_d3d11 2014-01-26 11-22-38-48 Be warned today’s post is going to be far more about the frustrations of trying to play a game… than actually playing one.  I had installed Far Cry 3 beforehand, but never actually fired it up.  So of course when I went to launch the game I had to suffer through the usual steam bullshit that involves installing every driver and redistributable known to man.  You would think that by now steam would have figured out a way to set a machine level flag that says “we’ve made this sucker install directx over 10 times, surely we can take it easy on him now”.  On top of the normal bullshit… I had to deal with something I had never seen before  called UPlay.

I guess this means that I have never actually played a Ubisoft game on the PC, since this seems to be required to play any of them.  For starters it took a truly silly amount of time to download and install, and then it prompted me for a login.  Since I didn’t think I had an account, I stubbed out the normal “Belghast” login, only to be told that it already existed.  At this point I scratch my head because maybe at some point in the past I did in fact set up UPlay.  I notice there is a handy reset password option, so I went through the steps to reset it to my email address.

At no point did it say “dumbass you don’t have an account”, it just said it would be sending an email to reset my password.  I waited a truly silly amount of time, refreshing the email window, and apparently locked my account out in the process.  However no emails actually arrived even after scanning the bowels of my gmail account, and sifting through half a dozen broken english versions of “your battle.net account is being banned” phishing attempts.  Turns out I am guessing I really do not have a UPlay account, either that or it was somehow set up on the PS3 and seemingly irrelevant to my PC.  So either this happened or there really are more Belghasts out in the world, as a result I had to set up my account on an old username that used for years.

Gameplaying Time?

farcry3_d3d11 2014-01-26 11-05-32-65 So finally I am able to log into the game and launch it.  I am greeted by the usual cinematic that I ignore and keep pressing the escape key trying to skip out of as soon as possible.  It appears that I am a rich d-bag, and have equally rich and d-bag friends that are amped about spending my trust fund on an island vacation.   Apparently also at some point we think it is a great idea to skydive onto a pirate held island… because you know the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney never harmed us… so surely the real thing will just give us candy or something.  Color me surprised when we manage to get kidnapped and held for ransom so our equally rich and d-bag parents to pay.

At this point after spending the first hour of the morning trying to get into the game due to the frustration that is UPlay… I am wanting to slaughter everything in sight.  Just give me a gun, point me in the direction of a slaver and I will go Rambo on their asses and save the day.  Conveniently for me, every single bad guy in the game seems to be wearing the same red shirt and red hat… making it super handy for drawing crosshairs down on them.  I love it when bad guys shop at the same place, because I can’t be bothered to think before blowing them away.

But Wait… Stealth Time

farcry3_d3d11 2014-01-26 11-12-13-85 There are few things I hate more in the world, than having to sneak around and be stealthy in video games.  So when I finally get control of my character what do I get to do? Sneak around and avoid being seen as I play through a super on-rails cinematic.  This is one of the things that frustrates me the most about modern games… namely those that started their life originally as a console game.  They seem to relish the concept of making you play through a bunch of shit before actually letting you play the game.  If I have to follow a predetermined path, while doing a sequence of events that are unchangeable… it is a cinematic.  Letting me control my character as I go through the cinematic just makes it all the more unhinging.

For me the ideal intro to a game like this is the Elder Scrolls style…  you arrive as a prisoner, someone breaks out out and then bam you are on your merry way causing mayhem.  I guess the more I think about it…  Oblivion and Skyrim both had some pretty frustrating “follow the dumbass npc” sequences early on… but they felt brief enough and in both cases you got to diverge from the script heavily if you desired.  This on the other hand was sneaking about following a path set aside by your macho army brother… all the while you have nothing that you can really do other than throwing some rocks.  Man I am a badass at throwing rocks… let me tell you.

Can It Be Fun Time?

farcry3_d3d11 2014-01-26 11-15-15-67 So despite your best attempts at avoiding being seen… your dumbass brother runs right into the pistol of the big baddy that you met earlier in the cage.  So you get to play a fun game of trying to mash your space bar hard enough to keep your brother from bleeding out.  Guess what… he bleeds out regardless of how hard you play whack a mole with your keyboard.  In a strange turn of events… instead of just shooting you in the back like you would think the big ultimate bad guy would do….  he decides to release you out into the jungle.  So once again I am thinking to myself… man can I finally have control of my character?  Can I finally play this game and do shit at my own pace?  NOPE!!!

What you get to do now is have a weird sequence as you run through the jungle avoiding bears and helicopters flying over, flashing the tree line with spotlights and trying to shoot you.  During this odd sequence you are once again following a predetermined path, and you seem to be able to take damage but never actually die.  At one point it told me to bandage myself, which I did… but it really did not seem to have much to do with success or fail.  Eventually I followed the path, went out onto a rope bridge… I lost a fight with a helicopter and just like baby Moses got tossed into a river only to get found by a seemingly friendly stranger.

Thanks Three Dog

farcry3 2014-01-26 11-43-01-40 While he sounds absolutely nothing like him… this dude for some reason reminds me of Three Dog from Fallout 3.  So I completely missed his name, because in my head he will forever be Three Dog.  Basically he saved you because you have the heart of a warrior… which if funny because up until this point all your character has done is whine constantly about being in the jungle.  I seriously expected him to break out the Dante from Clerks “I’m not even supposed to be here today”.  Essentially he sets up the premise of the story.  The pirate slavers are taking over the island and these mystical tattoo warriors are fighting back.  Since you escaped the camp alive, you are going to be their great white hope to save the day.  You will learn powers that somehow show up on your tattoo because… magic reasons.

So at this point… I am finally starting to wonder if I get to play the game yet or not.  Three Dog gives you some cash and lets you go shopping for a weapon… which basically means you get to buy a pistol… because all you can afford is a pistol.  Now he sends you out into the jungle on a few missions… the first of them is to destroy a jammer on a near by radio tower.  All in all this goes pretty safely other than the fact there is a static spawn snake that just sits there are the base of the tower.  A bullet to the head and you are up the tower and mapping the world.  It seems that as you open up the towers you allow the vendors to get new and spiffier stuff.

Capture Objectives

farcry3 2014-01-26 12-08-27-41 Once the actual game started after wading through what felt like three hours of bullshit… it was pretty fun.  Essentially the game play is a lot like Just Cause 2, where you move around the map weakening the presence of the enemy forces in your area.  Unlike Just Cause however you actually capture the elements for your blue team.  Unlocking new stuff gives you new power-ups in the form of magical tattoo powers, and unlocks new weapons.  Additionally in each outpost you capture there is a mission board that gives you hunting and kill missions.  Hunting seems extremely important in the game as it allows you to upgrade your backpack… allowing you to carry more weapons and equipment.

The kill missions however seem extremely frustrating.  I took the first one, and like always I paid little attention to the mission introduction.  Look I am a big dumb monkey, give me a gun and point me in the direction of the enemies and I will destroy them.  I however rapidly failed the mission because guess what they wanted me to do…  that’s right sneak around and do some ninja stuff, using the nifty new takedown move that Three Dog just taught me.  I have a feeling that if this is the case… I will likely avoid these entirely because like I said before… stealth is not a thing that Belghasts do best.

Will It Blend?

farcry3 2014-01-26 12-10-21-89 All in all the game really is pretty fun, once they actually let you play it.  This game would have been so much better had they just created a simple reason for you to escape and let you pick up from the moment you get rescued by Three Dog without having to suffer through the horrible on-rails pseudo game play.  Hell I feel like it would have been better had your parachute just landed you in the middle of the native camp, and they simply told you that your family was captured.  Bam instant call to action, and instant adventure time.  If you can suffer through two hours of crap, then the game is pretty fun, or maybe you don’t dislike the modern on-rails psuedo-cinematic as much as I do.

In either case it is worth a play through, so long as you don’t end up paying much for the game.  This is definitely not going to be in the same league for me as Skyrim, Bioshock, Dishonored or even Just Cause 2.  However it is still pretty fun and I like the map control aspect of the gameplay.  I just wish there was more direct action early on that let me run amok and cause mayhem.  Granted you have to understand that I have not played Far Cry 2 either, I have only actually played the first one.  In that game you pretty much dropped straight into the action, and I was expecting the same from Far Cry 3.  I figured sooner or later I would give a review that I didn’t just absolutely gush over the game like I did about Hammerwatch and to a lesser extent Steamworld Dig.  I give Far Cry 3… 3 Mehs out of Meh.

Defense of Subscriptions

So it is neither morning nor Saturday when I sit down to write this.  I am about to cheat massively at my one post per day thing… primarily because tomorrow is going to be pure hell.  I have to get up and around early because I have a wedding to photograph for a friend.  I am completely terrified at this prospect but I figure I will make it through one way or another.  However with all the mess going on tomorrow I simply will not have time to do my leisurely two hour jaunt through blog post land that I normally do.  As a result I am writing up my post on Friday… and since I am impatient I am going ahead and publishing it today as well.

Defense of Subscriptions

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Over the last few days since the joint announcements that Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online will be subscription based, I have seen a lot of negativity floating around the blogosphere.  You have one camp claiming this is the revival of subscriptions, and a diametrically opposed camp claiming this is a fluke and long live the free to play revolution.  Personally I can see a place for both in the game industry and I feel like we will see lots of both in the future.  Subscriptions are not going anywhere… because quite simply put high quality games have high dollar amounts associated with them.

Most of the games we now think of today as heralds of the free to play “revolutions” started their lifespan as a full functioning subscription based game with a $60 box cost and a $15 a month subscription fee.  This is the case for the Turbine games (Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online), the Cryptic games (Star Trek Online, Champions Online), the Sony Online Entertainment games (Everquest, Everquest 2, Vanguard, etc) and the new darling of the free to play market… Rift.  Each and every one of them experienced a decently long period of selling boxes and racking up monthly service fees before ultimately converting over to some sort of a freemium model.

Purely Free to Play

I was brainstorming with my friends, and quite honestly we had a hard time listing off significant MMOs that have launched as free to play.  There is a whole string of poor quality Asian market games that are too long to ever mention.  The only game I can really think of that does not have a subscription fee or box cost associated with it is Neverwinter.  Dragon’s Prophet to some extent is in the same boat, but it is still technically in open beta… and was also an Asian market transplant with a good deal of the costs simply being regionalization.  Neverwinter is most definitely a sub par gaming experience, with a good deal of incident costs hidden into the system and at least for me… overall forgettable gameplay.

As far as buy the box we have Defiance and Guild Wars 2… both of which appear to either be struggling or at least having a good deal of growing pains.  Trion has recently set about a massive restructuring of the company that involved dissolving the offices that supported Defiance and pulling that staff into the main offices in Redwood.  Guild Wars 2 has also going through a series of changes trying to deliver content at a more frenetic pace to try and keep paying customers glued to the screens.  Additionally with each update comes a slew of items that can only be acquired by unlocking the in game loot boxes.

My main issue to date with the Defiance and GW2 experiences is that while they are rolling out regular episodic updates… they are essentially throw away experiences and are only available for a limited time.  Defiance is really too young to fully judge, but they are about to release their first real DLC pack.  It will be interesting to see just how much content that adds to the game.  Guild Wars 2 on the other hand, seems completely tied to the concept of an expiring series of “living story” events.  In neither case are they really expanding the game on a regular and permanent basis to add value to that initial box purchase.

Paying Initial Cost

Rich game worlds with hundreds of hours of content cost an extremely large amount of money to develop, produce, market and ultimately distribute.  While I was disappointed when Wildstar announced its model, because ultimately it meant the cost of entry was just too high for someone like me… that only casually had interest in the game in the first place… I fully understood the decision to have a subscription.  Box costs and subscription costs help pay off the excessive costs of game development.  It has been said multiple times that the average blockbuster game costs far more than the average blockbuster movie.  Additionally the development of the game is a much longer drawn out process that someone has to bankroll until it finally sees a profit.

Lets take Elder Scrolls Online for example and try and work through some hard numbers.  Please understand that I am creating a pure guesstimate based on what I was able to pull together from Google.  Zenimax Online studios is in the Baltimore Maryland area, so there are certain broad assumptions we can make based on average costs in that region.  According to Wikipedia they moved into their current offices in 2008, and based on the E3 PS4 presentation, Elder Scrolls Online is slotted for a first quarter of 2014 launch.  That means that Elder Scrolls Online will have in essence been in development for roughly six years at the time of launch.  Please understand I am trying to just pull together some rough figures, it might have entered development before that and potentially after that.

The Hard Costs

Over the course of those six years, if you figure an average of 100 employees made an average of $45,000 a year… you get $27,000,000 in salaries alone.  Some employees will make more, likely some employees will make less.. and over the course of those six years you would have had significantly fewer than 100 and likely now in pre-launch mode significantly more.  From google we can see that the average price of office space in the Baltimore Maryland area is around $17 a sqft.  For sake of coming up with a figure we are going to say their offices are likely around 30,000 sqft, so taking that over the course of the six years you have $3,060,000 in rent.  Factor in a leased digital internet line ($300/mo), water ($400/mo), electric ($1000/mo), and gas ($400/mo) you have a vague guesstimate of $151,200 in utilities over those six years.  Finally if you figure roughly $3000 in computer equipment for each employee, you are at roughly $300,000 not factoring in ANY servers at all.

So far in things I can quantify you are talking about a guesstimate of over 30 million dollars on only a very few factors.  There are so many factors that we just cannot come up with a number for.  For example it was said that Star Wars the Old Republic took roughly 200 million dollars to develop… and that a majority of that was voice acting time.  This is something I simply cannot come up with anything sort of an estimate on.  All the voice acting rates I found online were so widely varied that they were meaningless especially when you consider the names that folks are getting are the Steve Blum’s of the world that are sought after for damned near every gaming project on the planet.  I don’t really know how detailed the voice acting is for ESO, but every demo I have seen to date gives me the impression that the game is fully voiced… which would lead me to guess bare minimum 100 million on the hundreds of hours of voice talent.

I’ve heard before that it costs roughly 1/3 of the total cost to develop a game… the rest of the costs go into marketing and distribution.  So at this point we are already sitting at around 130 million not factoring any tool licensing costs, or server infrastructure and network costs.  If that represents only a third of the total costs of the project… no wonder games NEED to sell boxes and charge a subscription to break even… let along fund future development efforts.  Essentially a AAA game experience is really damned expensive.  If you figure a company receives at most half of the $60 box cost… it would take selling over 3.5 million boxes just to make up for 100 million of the cost.  The reason why that $15 a month is so important is they are getting the entire portion of it.

Someone Has to Pay

Ultimately if we want nice games… someone has to pay for it.  Either these huge gambles can be paid off in box costs and monthly subscriptions… or they can be financed on the backs of a handful of “whale” players.  But ultimately there is no such thing as a free ride.  Game development and game infrastructure have large fixed costs that simply cannot be justified away by a players desire to not spend a dime.  We have nice free to play experiences in essence because players that came before you… paid for the cost of going there first.  They helped to pay off the loans that these companies I am sure have to take out to bankroll this kind of protracted effort.

AAA game studios simply cannot afford to build games out of the goodness of their hearts.  They have to pay ultimately hundreds of people just like you and me to build and support the games.  These are not nameless faceless corporations… they are businesses just like the one you likely work for… with a human resources department, and social security tax deductions and payrolls to make.  This is a real job for someone, and we can’t expect them to get some beer and pizza and knock out a game in their free time.  Overall the game industry pays some pretty shitty wages as compared to the IT industry as a whole.  I know for a fact that I make well more than any of my friends that currently work in the industry… and have pretty much since my first job out of college.

It is almost expected that part of the benefits package for these folks is the fact that they “get” to make games for a living.  Thing is though… they had to gain their skills the same way all of us did, with lots of hard work and sweat equity and now they work in an industry with next to no job security… because it all hinges upon the whims of whether or not gamers like us ultimately purchase their product.  So ultimately… all of these things factored in… I have ZERO problem with the concept of buying a box and paying a monthly fee when it is something I am committed to.  My friends in the industry need to eat, and pay rent, and survive on a day to day basis just like I do.

Free to Play

The free to play model seems to work extremely well at financing the daily upkeep and expansion of an existing game.  I think it has been the savior of a lot of games that have filtered their way out of the popular consciousness and were no longer drawing in active subscribers.  It is awesome being able to fire up an account you haven’t played in years, and revisit old characters.  While you are there more than likely you will spend at least a little money on the game.  Essentially it is the model of “some money is better than no money”.  The thing is, like I said above each and every one of these games that we vaunt so highly as free to play successes all had their time of box sales, expansion sales, and monthly subscription fees to pay back the excessively expensive development costs.

Do I get frustrated when a game that I have purchased the box for… and paid multiple months worth of subscription fees goes to free to play?  Hell no… because while I might bitch and moan on a regular basis about various aspects of gaming… I LOVE the games I play.  Whatever helps a game I have cared about succeed is ultimately going to be good for me personally in the long run.  The games that reward me in some way for being there in the early days and helping pay off the huge debt a company brings with them after a game release…  I love those even more.  But I go into their free to play conversion knowing that ultimately they will be better off in the long run with incremental sales.

Additionally players who start at the beginning of an MMO will always have a tangible lead on players that start later, especially if the game converts to free to play.  You have a head start in the economy before it stratifies, likewise you understand the lay of the land and where to acquire the best stuff.  When Rift went free to play my account had so much stuff unlocked thanks to longevity of play that a starting player would not have had.  For the explorers you get the feeling of actually discovering things before they are common place and on every website.  So while you might have had to pay for the box and subscriptions, you are getting something for your trouble that no one will be able to take away from you.

The games that did not have a box fee and a subscription however have to claw their money out of you somehow.  So while I get annoyed at loot boxes and item purchases and artificial gates to my gameplay… they are just trying to survive however they can, because ultimately at launch they were millions and millions of dollars in the hole at day one.  I feel like launching as free to play is going to forever doom a game to jumping through coin slotted hoops as you play the game.  Rift right now is the best player experience but I feel like it is only that way because they had two years and an expansion of relative success to pay off and fund a fully functional staff during all that time.

Wrapping Up

So if in a few years time… The Elder Scrolls online… that I have used as an example all the way through this post… decides it is beneficial to it to go free to play.  I will greet the change with open arms, knowing that ultimately this is going to be the thing that keeps a game I hopefully will love healthy and open to the public.  Going to go ahead and wrap this up, and likely get it posted.  I hope you guys have a great weekend and that I can survive tomorrow.  Sorry for breaking my own rules and cheating a bit by double posting on a Friday… but expect that I will have a normal post on Sunday.

Crashing Castles

Good morning you happy people… and this time I actually mean it.  I am not sure what it was… the fact that I was completely exhausted by the end of the day, the hour or so I spent playing with friends… or the 15 minute walk I took before bedtime…  but something helped.  I went to bed around 9 pm and slept the entire night through without any panic attacks.  Probably some of the best sleep I have gotten in awhile.  So thank you all for the varied suggestions yesterday on the subject.

Crashing Castles

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One of the best side effects of the steam sale, is it is a great opportunity to get your friends hooked on amazing games when they get priced on the cheap.  I’ve been a huge fan of Castle Crashers for years, and used to play it with some friends on the Xbox 360.  When it was released on steam… I picked it up immediately because seriously…  it is worth buying on every platform you own.  Right now it is going for the absolutely bargain basement price of $4 as part of the daily sale… and should be up there for at least another 24 hours.

As a result I got recruited last night when Ashgar picked up multiple copies of the game and gifted it to anyone who didn’t already have one.  I have to say this was exactly the type of fun I had been needing.  For me, Ash and Tam it was much like coming back home to our side scrolling fighting game roots… and we all adapted pretty quickly.  Rae on the other hand, we could tell never really played that type of game… this compounded with the fact that she was playing with the keyboard…  made the evening frustrating for her.

On that note… I highly suggest you pick this title up especially if you hail from the era of Final Fight and Double Dragon.  But if you do so… I also highly suggest you have a gamepad to play it on.  This was designed to play with an Xbox 360 controller… and I feel it plays best when I use that.  It is completely playable on anything else however… but just remember all the tips and suggestions given in game… will be geared towards that specific controller.  It won’t say press heavy attack… it will say press Y.. so if you are using something else there had to be a bit of translation in your head.

Just as a note to anyone on my steam friends list.  I will almost never turn down an opportunity to play some castle crashers.  There is something about this game that is so pure and fun that it just takes me back to the days of feeding quarters to gauntlet or teenage mutant ninja turtles and playing with three other friends.  I really hope they create a sequel someday that is just as fun.  The only game that I might like more than this as far as side scrolling beatemups… is Guardian Heroes…  if it ever made its way to steam I would be immensely happy.  Speaking of which… I need to get some people together to play the D&D Shadows of Mystaria steam port.

Granite Falls

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Right now on my little warrior I am slowly making my way through the granite falls area.  Stonefield has always been one of my favorite areas in the zone, in part because it was the area shown in the original cinematic trailer for the game.  Additionally the town of Granite Falls is one of the prettiest in the game, and the falls themselves have always looked extremely epic.  Sooner or later I will end up having to buy the Granite Falls dimension so I can have my very own copy.

I am up to my favorite quest chain as well, involving the crypt near town.  Essentially giving me ANY quest chain involving undead and I will be happy.  I started working on this over lunch, and got about halfway through the sequence of quests before I got drafted for castle crashers last night.  My hope is that today I will push through the rest of Stonefield and move on to the Scarlet Gorge area.  I feel like this is an area that just does not get enough credit in the game.  I will have to play up another character when they have gone through with the redesign of the zone that is supposedly in the works.

Defying Reason

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Also over lunch yesterday I decided on a whim to boot up Defiance for a little bit.  I have an odd relationship with this game.  I like it mostly… but I just can’t seem to take playing it for very long.  I am happy to log in, kill a few rounds of mutants, maybe complete a quest… ride around in my dune buggy for a bit… and then log.  I figure it would be much more enjoyable if I was playing regularly with a large group of people, but solo I seem to have a very short attention span.

I guess overall I just don’t like shooters as much as I once did… and the whole behind the back shooter thing works well but feels just awkward enough to give me a low tolerance for it.  I really like the television show and the world, but so far I see little resemblance between the two other than having my very own “cat woman” telling me what to do.  I just wish that the story had been set in the St. Louis area that we are vaguely familiar with in the television show… instead of out in California.  Additionally since I am NOT from the California area and have never been… there just isn’t the same payoff as there is for other people.  I didn’t realize that Mount Tam was an actual place…  but I would have been able to pick up landmarks in Missouri.

Ultimately it is a good game… and it is pretty enjoyable…  but I have the same patience with it that I have for Borderlands 2.  I seem to be happiest when I play in spurts, unlike my friends that can literally play Borderlands 2 for hours and hours on end.  Defiance definitely scratches a similar itch for me…  and I finally found a weapon that I like.  Essentially it is a heavy energy machine gun thing… reminds me of shooting a BAR in the WW2 area shooters.  I can take down the baddies pretty successfully with it…  but I cringe at the thought of eventually out leveling it.  I have yet to find another weapon that I enjoy anywhere near as much as it.

I think this will continue to be one of those titles that I boot up every now and then… but never really dig too far below the surface.  Additionally the game feels very “un-social”, and very much single player.  I rarely if ever end up encountering other players when I play, and if I do they are usually buzzing around on their way to the next objective.  I am sure this changes as you get higher in the content, but I am still in the starter area essentially.  I could push through I am sure and get to the next area… but I figure why force myself when I seem to be enjoying little spurts of play here and there.

Wrapping Up

Well it is that time again… I need to wrap this up so I can get on with my morning and get into work.  Today is trash day, so I need to make sure that is out by the curb.  Additionally I really need to run some stuff by the cleaners.  If I don’t get a start on these things I will end up extremely late for work.  Right now I am essentially the boss, as mine is off on vacation… but it sets a bad example if I start slacking myself in the process.  I hope you all have a great day… and here is hoping that today will be relatively panic free.

Ten MMO Must Haves

This morning I got up roughly 15 minutes before the alarm went off… and decided to that rather than be groggy later… I would go ahead and get up and around.  Right now I am kind of questioning that decision, since the bed seems like a really amazing idea.  I had a really spastic yesterday as I never could really decide on a game to play.  Since Final Fantasy beta was closed by the time I got up and around I ended up cycling through Everquest, Rift, Vanguard, and Defiance never quite sticking in any of them.  As a result I don’t have much excitement to talk about… and I am nowhere near finished with my second part of How To Rift… so I am going off in a completely different direction.

Ten MMO Must Haves

Basically over the years I have noticed several features that I expect most MMOs to have, and when they are not there it greatly harms my enjoyment for the long run.  I keep cycling back to the ones that do have most of the list.  Granted this is in no way a complete list, as I am sure there are things I have omitted for the sake of a clean number, but these are definitely all things I would prefer to see in an upcoming title.  These are not necessarily in order of importance… but more the order in which I thought of them.

1 – Random Events

Nothing breaks up the monotony of questing and killing mobs like a random army invading the countryside.  I have always liked when random things happen in games, I even like random loot so long as it is not something I need to progress forwards.  In the post Rift MMO world, I feel like random things happening in your world is an absolute must have.  When it is missing, the game feels extremely stale to me.  When it is done well, you forget what you are doing and follow along the flow of what is happening in a specific zone.  This should be events chosen from a long list of potential ones… not the same event happening over and over like in Guild Wars 2.  Their implementation did not serve to make the world feel alive, but instead made it feel even more like a carnival ride resetting itself every so often.

2 – Passive Grouping

I should be able to help other players out, and they help me without having to worry about whether or not I tagged the mob first.  Grouping should be something you do to hang out with people, not something you feel obligated to do constantly just to get through game content.  I feel as though simply touching a mob should give me credit for whatever that mob is required for.  Rift and Guild Wars definitely do this extremely well… but when I go back to a game that does not have it… I become a kill stealing asshole.  I just forget that mob tagging is an actual thing that is still in games.  If you do not have passive mob tagging… you are bad and should feel bad.

3 – Puzzles and Collectibles

I have the tendencies in me to power level myself to the cap and then get bored feeling there is nothing left to do.  If your game has little puzzles and collectible bits it helps to make me stop and smell the roses.  I feel for other players this becomes a meta game all in itself.  These systems all seem relatively simple to implement, but it seems like there is a greater return on investment as far as gluing a player to your game.  Rift and GW2 both have amazing examples of puzzles, and EQ2 has probably the most extensive collection system I have seen in a game.  I greatly prefer there to be something for me to always be on the lookout for, that offers interesting gameplay and forces me to stop quest grinding.

4 – Moveable UI Elements

This one is huge to me.  Essentially I will if given the option set my UI to look the same from game to game.  I like certain windows in certain locations because it helps me not have to think about where things are.  When you play lots of different MMOs this becomes something extremely important.  Additionally I find myself setting up all my hotbars the same… 0 is the interrupt key, 7 is my combo point dump, 5 is charge/deathgrip, etc.  As a result I really hate your game when you force me to play with your idea of how the UI should look.  No matter how much research you have put into your UI, it is not ideal for everyone… and as a result you should never force players into your chosen UI design box.  Make the windows unlock able and moveable  either through the default UI like Rift or through Addons like WoW.

5 – Map with User Defined Waypoints

This is another big one for me.  Navigating your world should be easy for the players.  I should be able to open my map, click a point that I want to travel to and then get some kind of directions as to how to get there.  This can be as simple as an Icon on the edge of the mini-map showing you the direction of your destination, or as complex as some sort of golden path or arrow pointing the way.  Additionally it would be really amazing if your system allowed player defined permanent waypoints.  That way we could actively mark whenever we found something cool in your world.  TSW does an amazing job of this.. and I have tons of little markers scattered through all my maps pointing to nifty things I found.  This is definitely something all games should emulate.

6 – Sortable/Searchable Bank and Inventory

First off let me say.. that the concept of physical bags with limited storage is something no one should ever do again.  I greatly prefer one big inventory space because usually with that comes the ability to sort, filter, and search the contents of your inventory.  Rift does an interesting hybrid model, in that they still have physical bags, but they have a sort and search functionality that makes up for the fact of having to juggle multiple containers rather than just one.  Trying to find things in your bags should not be considered a meta game… and you should help players out so they have to spend as little time doing this as possible.  There have been times I have logged into EQ2… looked at the state of my bags and logged out immediately because I did not want to spend the next 30 minutes clearing them out.  That game is the worst case scenario… but I have had similar happen in many other games as well.  Make your inventory system help the player rather than hinder them.

7 – Sell All Junk Button

If your game drops junk items from mobs aka “Greys” and you do not have a sell all junk button… you are a horrible person and should be drug out into the street and shot.  Nothing is more frustrating than going through your inventory and having to manually sell a bunch of trash items that have no real purpose for existing other than to give you some cash.  Better yet, don’t even drop the trash items and give us additional gold instead.  I think the running theme of the last two should be that Inventory Maintenance is not a fun meta game.  No one enjoys it, and all it does is make the player feel like they have just completely wasted their time.  I am completely fine with getting additional cash in lieu of junk, but if you do have junk… for the love of god make a sell all crap button.

8 – AOE Looting

Thank you Rift for creating this construct… and thank you modern MMO developers for having the common sense to say “damn, why didn’t we have this” and adding it to your games.  Nothing is more annoying than trying to select that one corpse from a pile of corpses that still has loot on it.  My OCD will not let me go without searching all the bodies… it is like I knew that if I missed one… that would be the one that dropped some rare epic item.  Again this is a cousin of the whole inventory maintenance is not a fun meta game…  neither is looting.  Better yet… all corpse interactions should be AOE as well… where the hell is my AOE skinning.  The first company to give me AOE skinning, herbing, and mining of corpses… will be a god in my eyes.

9 – Full Character Appearance System

Now when I say this… I am not talking about Transmogrification.  I could go on an hour long rant about how horrible that system is and how it is a half assed version of the good appearance systems.  What I am talking about is additional sets of character doll slots that allow you to directly override the appearance of an item with another item.  Rift has probably the best implementation overall right now, since you can have something like 12 wardrobe slots with ready to switch to outfits on the fly.  The only gotcha there is due to their own constraints they had to implement a shitty “transmog” like system for doing the weapons.  Players should never have to run back to a vendor to change their appearance…  stop making them do busy work.  I would love to see developers emulate the way the system works in EQ2, because you can literally change your appearance to anything in the game… no class restrictions.

10 – Facial Hair

I had a few other items I considered putting on the list… but honestly to me personally this one has to be here.  If your game does not have the ability for me to give my character a nice beard, especially a moustache and goatee combo…  I will hate your character creator and likely not play your game.  I have no clue why this is so important to me… but it is.  Namely I have seen the lack of facial hair in the Asian MMOs… but I struggled to find a look I could stomach in Guild Wars 2 as well.  Additionally I cannot stand the “pretty boy” appearance that some games have…  but I won’t go into that right now.  Please for the love of god when you design your character creator… make Facial Hair a slider…  not something that is attached to another attribute like hairstyle.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it… my ten must haves for a modern MMO.  Like I said, I am sure that it is not a complete list at all… and as soon as I post this… I will think of another 10 things that should have been on the list.  These however are the things that immediately came to mind when being frustrated with MMOs that do not have them.  I would be curious to hear about what your list is, and whether or not I have hit your key frustration points.  I hope you all have a great day, and I hope I manage to stay fully conscious all day long since I got up so early.

Recursion Loop

I’m struggling a bit with the whole remaining vertical thing this morning.  I really did not get a good nights sleep, woke up several times.  However each time I managed to get back to sleep relatively easily since I had an army of cats trying to snuggle with me.  I find it odd that while there is one whole person missing from the bed…  they all decide that the best place to lay is on top of me.  After all these years, cat logic still completely evades me sometimes…  but then again so does most human logic.

Curious Bot

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I spent most of last night hanging out on the couch, fishing in Rift while trying to clear off the TV shows I had recorded from the DVR.  I had a rather large backlog and I was only 270 fishing so I knew I could do it for awhile.  In the process I managed to push up survival to 375 and I got fishing up to 305 so that now I can at least do the daily fishing quests for the area.  I spent roughly from 7pm until Midnight my time fishing away, the majority of which was off a bridge in the canal behind Tulan on Brevane.  I managed to pull up several nifty housing items so that part is still somewhat exciting for me.

The funny thing is… throughout the night I kept seeing the same player coming by and picking up all the normally non-aggro snapper hatchlings in the canal.  They would run a little path, spamming their AOE abilities… then finally stop and skin them all… pause and continue the route.  I tried to interact with the player but received no response.  When I logged out last night they were doing it… and now that I have logged in this morning from the above screenshot you can see they are still hard at work.  At this point it is obviously a bot, but a fairly advanced one from the looks of it.

The problem is… for whatever reason the petition system is borked.  I seem to have a completed ticket stuck in the queue from ages ago… that I cannot remove to replace it.  I would have gladly reported that Lisxande@Deepwood is a bot but unfortunately the system refuses to work for me.  What I have been doing in the meantime is reporting any issues like this as bug notes… since those will actually submit.  I doubt they will actually end up in the right place, but it makes me feel like I make at least doing something.  As a programmer… I have to give them some credit for scripting a rather complex process…  but it doesn’t make me not want to destroy them.

Recursion Loop

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Have you ever had one of those television shows that you are not really into anymore… but you have been watching for so long that you feel obligated to keep up?  That is precisely how I feel about the Anime Bleach these days.  I started watching it during the heady days of WoW raiding, and I was drawn to the interesting and massive cast of characters.  Additionally I thought the whole concept of a soul reaper was extremely cool.  However I realized something along the way somewhere, every single season of bleach is exactly the same.

Ultimately something strange will happen that puts someone or something in jeopardy.  Ichigo then discovers some new and dangerous threat that uses some strange and magical new powers.  He rushes into battle and gets his ass kicked by whatever this new threat is.  Then he spends the rest of the season learning some new even more powerful power from a mentor figure.  He finally confronts the baddest of the baddies using this new power…  and barely manages to defeat them… all because of his unbridled spirit energy.

The current season I am watching feels so rehashed.  There is a definite moment of “no wait… there is this one thing that is the most powerful thing in the world that we haven’t mentioned for seven seasons yet”.  I think to some extent I keep watching it, because the characters that are NOT Ichigo are still interesting to me.  The thing that kills me however is the first third of an episode ends up being essentially the last third of the previous one.  So it feels like there is so much building with very little payoff.

It is like that those ghost and super natural shows where it sounds like they find something… but they will never actually find evidence of anything at all.  I would love to have someone cut together an entire season of Bleach as one seamless show…  and trim out all the repeated content at the beginning of the show.  My fear is that after you cut out ALL the callbacks to other things…  you would end up taking a 13 hour episode down to like 4 hours.  The positive thing however is that I have officially watched down my queue of bleach, so I can comfortably let it stack up again.

Defiance

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Additionally last night while on my fishing binge, I decided to try and catch up on Defiance.  I really enjoyed the first few episodes of the show, but by the time I had watched episode three I started to lose interest.  I am not sure what it is about the show but I have for whatever reason not significantly imprinted on the characters yet.  As a whole the series reminds me of this odd mishmash of Firefly and Terra Nova…  but with High Elves and Cathar.  There are a handful of characters that I really like, mixed in with a bunch of other stuff I cannot bring myself to care about.

I keep thinking that if I watch it enough there will be this magical moment when all the sudden it becomes amazing and magical for me.  I’ve made it through I think episode 6 as of last night, but I felt myself fading in and out of paying attention…  so I am really not sure I caught enough of some of the episodes to fully understand what was going on.  It was I think during episode five that someone popped into Rift that I started up a conversation with.  I am going to try and chew through the rest of the episodes so that I can at least say I am caught up.  I feel like maybe since I am not really playing the game, I am not as committed to the universe.

I also feel like there has been a paradigm shift in science fiction.  There was a time, namely the 90s and some of the early 2000s that science fiction shows were a rarity on television.  Since something other than Star Trek was almost unheard of… you ended up watching whatever it was because there was literally nothing better on at the time.  So I feel like there are so many science fiction shows that we view through the rose colored lenses of nostalgia.  Today however the market is absolutely flooded with science fiction shows, and we have a lot more to choose from.  As a result I find myself being far more critical of a given show, because I know there are others out there that I could be watching instead.

I want to like Defiance as a brand… I want to like the video game and I want to like the television show.  I feel like I am watching in part to help support one of my favorite companies… Trion.  All of that said while both game and TV show sound like something I would like on paper…  the result of experiencing either has been lacking something for me.  I keep feeling like I just need to give both more time to grow on me, but I am wondering at what point I will decide that “nope, it is just not for me”.  As a consolation gift… I am at least immensely happy about having my title, pet and mount over in Rift as a result of the show.

Wrapping Up

Well I have pissed away an hour of time writing this long diatribe, and need to finish getting ready for work.  I hope you all have a great day ahead of you.  Mine will be stressful and frustrating as always I am sure, but hopefully I can actually get things knocked off my list that need to.  I am constantly thankful for the awesome team of people I have to work with, I just wish I had a bit more stability in “management direction”.  I am on this vision quest to finish leveling fishing, but I am hoping to finish it up tonight.

Computer Blues

Over the last few days I have been having what I term as “bad mental health” days.  I’ve been super stressed about various sundry things at work, and combine that with the fact that I just do not handle change well.  Every time my wife goes away during the summer for a conference, I go through this massive adjustment period.  So much of my life is intertwined with hers, that when she is gone… there is just a void.  I try my best to manage this “funk” but now and then it gets the better of me.  I am thankful that I have a lot of friends who are willing to cheer me up.

Computer Blues

It seems like over the last few days… my computers have been betraying me.  I have been having issues with my gaming laptop, where it is intermittently losing its power connection.  Fiddling with the cord brings back the connection for short periods of time, before going out.  I initially thought… this is likely a power supply issue so I did what I always do and went on amazon… found a replacement and got it shipped through prime.  I got the new power supply and it worked even worse.

After much research it seemed like the g73 model has had some issue with the power port getting lose itself.  After watching a few videos… I decided this was not something I wanted to undertake myself.  It involved pretty much a complete teardown of the laptop, de-soldering one port and soldering back in another.  I am essentially a software guy… I build my own PCs but that is mostly just assembling a bunch of parts that were designed to go together.  I have done soldering work before, but it was nothing I was ever extremely comfortable doing.

After digging around I found what appeared to be an extremely reputable guy here in my town that does this sort of thing.  He owns a “Nerds: We Can Fix That” franchise and as such is primarily a mobile pc repair truck, so we agreed to meet so that I could have him look over my laptop.  After doing various sundry tests his though process was that it really was a bad power supply.  After looking around he showed me a spot in the power connector one where of the prongs was most definitely crushed.  His suggestion was to find an original Asus power supply and try that.

After much digging I finally was able to get a real Asus power supply ordered… but unlike the speed I am used to with prime.. it wont be here until Thursday at the earliest.  As a result I am without my laptop and my ability to hang out downstairs while playing games.  I know I have blogged about this before… when I lost my Gateway FX laptop, but I never really appreciate how amazing that is… until I can’t do it.  After a long day it is so nice to just chill out on the couch with my laptop and half play games and half watch stuff off the DVR.  I am nervous however that this will not really be the issue, but I am willing to try it… and it is far less invasive than other possible solutions.

Another Betrayal

Last night I get home, and go upstairs to begin the evening ritual of playing something.  I get on mumble to talk to my friends… and in the middle of booting something up my gaming desktop locks up hard.  In fact at first I can’t seem to get it to boot…  which I later find that it is simply booting exceedingly slowly.  I go into diagnostic mode trying to figure out what exactly is wrong.  Everything seems to be operating as expected… voltage looks good… hard drive tests fine… memory tests fine.  So after much fiddling I am basically at square one as to what might have happened.

A lock up is common enough, but a lock up followed by not wanting to boot afterwards really floored me.  I am not talking windows booting… I am talking slow bios posting.  I am going to have to keep and eye on things, but last night switched from a gaming night… to a do maintenance on all the things night.  I went ahead and patched everything that could possibly be patched, updated all the drivers that could be updated… and did some registry maintenance.  Given my “bad mental health” state… having both machines down at the same time was a state I was almost unable to cope with.

I realize that these are all first world problems… and rather petty…  but having both machines potentially down at the same time sucked.  Luckily through all my fiddling whatever happened seems to be not happening now.  When a problem mysteriously goes away… it bothers the hell out of me though.  I am not sure what happened, have no log evidence of what caused the lockup/slow boot scenario and ultimately no evidence of what seems to have cleared it up.  My desktop is three to four years old at this point, so it might simply be aging hardware issues. 

Now that I think of it… it might be older than that…  I got it when we we were still raiding Wrath of the Lich King content in World of Warcraft.  It has been a trusty machine that has pretty much run anything I have thrown at it for several years.  It might in fact be time to upgrade…  but I would much rather do it on my own time than having a box just up and die on me.  Here is hoping that I have at least temporarily staved off whatever occurred.

Killing Psychos

I finally was able to get my machine in a state I was happy with around 9:30 last night.  At this point I got back onto mumble and decided to join some friends in Borderlands 2.  It was me playing Axton, Ash playing Zero and Rae playing a super bloodlust infused Maya.  Quite frankly the combination of Rae and I riding around in a vehicle together is probably a bad thing.  Especially when it comes to doing quests that have non-standard objectives.  There may or may not have been a few objectives we almost failed at… because we were both too busy shooting things to notice that was not the goal.

When the game first shipped for whatever reason I was not able to hook up with the crew playing it.  As a result I have pretty much only played single player borderlands 2 content.  Last night was an absolute blast, and having players to rez me…  really helped when I tried to play “tank” and bull rush a bunch of mobs.  I need to find some better weapons… because right now my assault rifle is a tap to fire model that seems to always need reloading at the wrong time.  I picked up an amazing sub machinegun last night, but it seems to go through bullets like water… and I am always scavenging to find more.

The combo of Axton/Maya/Zero seemed extremely formidable… but I think if you put ANY combination of different classes together you would have had the same results.  Looking forward to maybe getting back in tonight and finishing the quests we were doing.  Honestly I don’t really care if we even do quests…. I was just in the mood to roam around and kill things to satiate my “computer troubles” induced bloodlust.  Borderlands 2 is a really good game for that kind of mindless violence.  It is like the Saturday morning cartoon of death.

Rift Update

The other big thing going on today is the fact that it is the launch of the Rift Free to Play conversion.  It will be interesting seeing how this improves or damages the community.  My hope is that by lowering the barrier of entry it will be easier to get folks to try the game.  Additionally I am hoping for a path through the cash shop to pick up some dimension goodies… because quite frankly I have been way too poor thus far to really experience the dimension content properly.  In any case it will definitely be a massive change to the game… and as such interesting to watch unfold.

Additionally… it is really hard to type with a cat trying to balance on your arm.  I guess I should take that as a queue to wrap things up.  I hope you all have a great day, and that you are in a better mental place than I have been.  I think my body is betraying me as well.  This morning I am additionally having a “bad lung day” in that my asthma and allergies have decided to make my life hell.  Trying to decide if today will be a stay home and take breathing treatments all day occasion or not. 

Making Horrible Choices

This morning I sit here typing as a truly insane torrent of rain pours down on our house.  Apparently over night this massive storm system has blown in, and the deluge we are experiencing is the end result.  Luckily the “T” word has not been mentioned at all, just lots of rain and the potential for flash flooding.  Still instinctually I turned to channel 6 or on digital cable… 706 and have been watching it as I get ready this morning.  This is a reaction to weather that is just engrained in Oklahomans from a little age… and even though I rarely if ever watch the evening news…  when weather happens I am glued to it.

Unplanned Adventure

Yesterday I was just feeling absolutely horrible, and while I made it into work… by noon I was wishing I had not.  I was suffering from what I tend to term “giblet” problems… everything just felt all wrong.  So I took a half sick day, and went home after I got out of an important series of meetings.  When home I pretty much went to bed, or at least laid down.  I ended up falling asleep and sleeping roughly three hours, and when I woke up I was feeling a bit better.

I got up and around and checked email… remoted into work and did a few things.  At this point my wife who is on summer break tells me that one of her coordinators called, and as a result she would need to go back to school this evening to pick up a text book.  Summer School starts today, and she would no longer have access to her room to grab it.  At first I groggily agreed, thinking man that sucks for her…  then she informed me that she was wanting me to go with her.

I quickly saw my evening going to absolute crap before my eyes.  I already felt horrible, but the thought of having to leave the house and go off on a jaunt just felt almost unbearable.  To her credit, we had a stack of errands that needed running… and her thought process was that we could just do them on the way to or from the house.  The negative part however is that her school is 45 minutes away on the exact opposite end of Tulsa.  She said we would do it later, but as time ticked past…  I ended up insisting that we leave as not to wreck the entire night.

Making Horrible Choices

This timing and path we ended up taking was a bad call on my part all around.  We ended up venturing out into the tail end of rush hour and wading knee deep into bumper to bumper traffic.  It turns out there had been a wreck in the middle lane of 169 at 51st street, and as a result traffic was backed up past 11th street.  What should have been an hour and a half trip at most, ended up being a three and a half hour slog.  All the while I am fuming that I even have to be doing this in the first place.  My wife gets an unbelievable amount of credit for dealing with me last night at all.  We bickered back and forth during the whole trip, but it could have gotten so much worse.

I was very much an asshole about the whole ordeal.  I felt like crap, my migraines have been getting worse, work has been stressing me out… and adding on top of that was getting drug back into the world for something that didn’t really involve me.  Had I needed to run get something from work, I would have just run in by myself and gotten it, I didn’t understand why I needed to be tagging along in the process.  All of this snowballed together to turn me into a bundle of unfettered rage… or at least angry sulking.  I was an absolute bear to deal with all of last night, and I greatly apologize for it.  Her thought process made absolute sense, but she is the logical one… I tend to be the one driven by my passions.

Making everything worse was the fact that we were both pretty hungry at this point.  She had not had any lunch at all, and the combination of both of us lead to a pretty crappy car ride.  The one glowing silver lining is the fact that we got to eat at Ron’s.  For those not native to Tulsa, Ron’s is this awesome chain of hamburger joints.  They specialize in several things, including the sausage hamburger… but my absolute favorites are their hot and spicy chicken and cheese tots.  Figuring it would put both of us in a better mood that is exactly where we went, and at the end of all the frustration it was truly glorious.  I had way more calories than I would have liked, but enjoyed every bite of the buffalo flavored ambrosia.

Defiance

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Between waking up from my nap and after doing some work that had stacked up while sleeping, and our horrible jaunt out into the real world I sat around on our amazingly comfy sofa trying to get “ungroggy”.  As a result I decided to boot up defiance and give it a spin for a few.  I have been sitting on a copy for awhile thanks to my early alpha testing ways, but have not really spent much time playing the game.  Honestly I had created my engineer, and gotten him to the Earth Defense force base… and that was just about it.

Yesterday I decided to start working through the first few quests.  I remember thinking in alpha that this was really not “my game”.  While there are definitely elements I like about it, I am just not much of a shooter person any more… and in fantasy MMOs I very rarely if ever play a ranged class.  All of that said there is something undeniably enjoyable about the game.  It seems to tweak what ever section of my brain that loves the Fallout series.  I feel like in order to really tap into this I need to find myself a shotgun, since essentially I play every Fallout game wielding a Combat Shotgun, or whatever equivalent that game has.

I wandered around for a bit and managed to knock out one of the quests that was horribly bugged in early testing…  the whole rescue men that leads to recover supplies from the hospital mission.  During testing this ended up with essentially endless waves of mutants spawning on top of you until you could no longer keep up.  This time around, while there were a lot of mutants that spawned… they were definitely a finite number.  The gameplay feels better overall, the game less laggy and the controls more responsive.

I hope as I move further through the content that I will find myself caring about it a little more.  Having watched the television show, I find myself actually caring about the game world quite a bit more.  The only problem I have however is that the starting missions feel extremely uninspired.  The mutants you end up fighting, seem like the most generic possible mob you could end up fighting.  I don’t care that I am slaughtering them, they are completely meaningless…  to fall back on the Fallout analogy… I found myself caring more about killing mole rats and rad scorpions.

There are some neat random side effects that happen, like saving EREP forces from mutants.  The only problem is that this loses all sense of urgency when you realize that this spawns in exactly the same place on a pretty regular interval and almost every time you ATV through the area… those damned EREP soldiers have been captured again.  I have yet to encounter an Ark Fall, so I am hoping that those will really spice up the gameplay as I love Rifts.  All it all it feels like something that I will play every now and then… just like Guild Wars 2, and Neverwinter… but not a game I will likely ever get seriously into.

Reaches of Inner-Outer Space

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I will admit that likely a good chunk of my bitchiness earlier, was the fact that I figured I would have lost my chance to continue on in The Secret World.  That by the time I managed to get home and watching IM again… that the Elite Dungeon train would have long left the station.  I really enjoyed Monday night, and was looking forward to being able to roll around as a prebuilt team of five last night.  It turns out that my friends had for the most part been patiently waiting for me to show up.  So as soon as I got home and fired up my laptop, they were beckoning me to join them in game.  After the ball of frustration I had just experienced, I was in major need for venting it all into killing random bad things.

Much like last night we started running the next few elites all in an attempt to get Rae the achievement needed to unlock the gatekeeper fight.  As a result we burned through Hell Fallen and the Facility, making short work of both.  We decided to skip Hell Eternal since it is an extremely long dungeon, and make an attempt at the Slaughterhouse since it is comparatively short.  I am not sure what it was… either that the fight had changed since we were last in there… or the fact that we were probably getting tired at that point…  but for whatever reason we could not push through the NKL-107 encounter.

After doing some research, apparently there is a bug currently in place that causes some of the buffs from nightmare to bleed into the elite version.  This also happened to us in the past when they rolled out the nightmare version of The Ankh.  We went from being able to roll through that place without issue, to not being able to defeat the final boss at all.  It was the same kind of feeling we had with Slaughterhouse in the robot fight.  Ultimately we needed a more reliable purge, which was not something we really had at that moment.  Both myself and Rae had the ability to do a 33% of the time purge, but this was just not regular enough to keep the tank alive with the nightmare buffs.

It was still a really fun time, and the best part is that once we finish these last two elites… Rae should be geared enough to face the Gatekeeper and hopefully survive.  Granted getting past him was a mind numbingly frustrating experience as a DPS, so it might take her awhile to come up with that magic formula that allows her to defeat him.  The fact that she picked up her 100% purge should make the fight overall easier, since I did it with only my 33% of the time purge…  and it introduced a random element into my success.  I really look forward to trying Nightmares again, to see if we are any better equipped to handle them than we were before.

Wrapping Up

The other awesome thing that happened last night is that I finally connected with Rylacus and got his two characters invited to the Outcast Misfits in Rift.  I am sure he will appreciate having some “green spam” while he is leveling, and it will definitely be easier to determine if he is actually online… or just playing the scratchers.  It is still pouring down insanely outside… and I am not looking forward to making a wild dash out to my car.  However the hour is getting later, and I need to be getting on the road.  I hope you have a great day… and you also can admit when you are being an asshole… more gracefully than I did last night.

Awesome Trailers Revisted

Today my friend Liore posted a great run down of some of her favorite trailers of recent memory.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… so hopefully she will understand that I am completely latching onto the idea.  Honestly watching the trailers she singled out, made me start thinking about some of my favorite trailers, and once the idea set root in my brain it was going to happen.

What makes an awesome trailer?

There are so many ways to make a trailer stand out, it could have an amazing soundtrack and visual or just be extremely well directed and emotionally engaging.  There are trailers I love that pretty much fall into all categories.  A lot of the ones Liore singled out in her post, are ones I love too for various reasons, but I noticed my favorite kind of trailer was mostly absent in the list.

I love a trailer that sets up the world of the game, the eternal conflict, and just pumps me up to play the game.  I love when I watch a trailer and walk away feeling “hell yes, I want to play this now”.  It could be the soundtrack of the visuals, but if it can somehow tap into my inborn sense of bloodlust… it is a win in my book.  I especially love the trailers that set up the lore of the world, and give us a window into the game that we normally would not see otherwise.

DC Universe Online

 

This trailer will likely go down in history as one of my all time favorites.  When someone mentions a kick ass trailer, this one is always the first one I think of.  For starters, everything Blur Studios touches is amazing, but more importantly it sets up the storyline of the game in a brilliant way.  I have always loved the DC setting where the traditional heroes are thugs, and Luthor is the hero… and to set that up as the basis of the MMO made me only want to play it more.

Sadly for whatever reason the game itself never met the epic quality of the trailer.  It tried extremely hard, and in some aspects succeeded.  The little references, like Booster Gold commercializing everything really made it feel deeply rooted in the DC universe.  I will have to say that no matter what, this trailer got me to buy the game and play it.  I still boot it  up from time to time when the mood hits me.

Hellgate: London

 

FOR THE LIVING!!!!  God there is so much that is amazing about this trailer.  Also there is so much frustration that I have that this game did not succeed.  It had some amazing story behind it, and this trailer sets up everything you need to know about it.  This has it all, awesome heroes of both genders and all of them making extreme sacrifices to save the next generation.  Considering my last name is Temple… I may or may not also have an extreme thing for the Templars.  So much was right about this game, but it also had so many failings… namely its horrible network code.  There have been many times I have considered playing the Asian free to play version, but it would just feel odd.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

 

I feel kinda bad about this next pick.  I truly love the feel of this trailer, and the epic qualities especially when my personal favorite… Grimlock makes his appearance.  Why I feel bad is that I have never actually played this game, regardless of how amazing the trailer is.  Every time I watch this trailer, I keep thinking… why god can we not get a full length Transformers movie that looks like this… instead of the odd biomechanical Transfomers from the Michael Bay movies.  Everything about this trailer screams Transformers to me, and takes me back to a chunk of my childhood.

Mass Effect 2

 

While I love Mass Effect 3, and the trailer Liore posted made me want to go back and play the series from 1-3 all over again…  my favorite game in the series will always be 2.  This trailer makes me relive all the badassery that is ME2, and its great swat team like side missions.  This makes me want to load it up and slaughter legions of collectors.  Doesn’t hurt that I am a huge fan of Thane, and he is completely badass in the trailer.

Bioshock 2

 

I will always love the Bioshock franchise no matter what.  The first one still stands out as one of the most transformative gaming experiences I had up to that point.  As trailers go however, the launch trailer for Bioshock 2 is great.  I love the relationship between the Big Daddy and the Little Sisters, as someone who has always chosen to play a tank… and protect the squishy players of the world…  I can totally relate to the dynamic of the eternal protector.  Watching the video fires me up to play the game and wreak havoc on some splicers.

Fallout New Vegas

 

This trailer falls in the category of letting you in on something, that you normally would not be let in on just by playing the game.  While this scene is alluded to in the gameplay, you only know it exists by watching the teaser trailer.  Fallout has been and will likely always be one of my favorite series.  It means two things to me, huge wastelands to explore, and badass guys in armor.  This trailer teases the NCR Ranger in such a tantalizing way, that immediately I thought… man I have to get that armor in game.  I went from lusting after the Brotherhood Armor in the previous games, to making my goal in game to acquire the Ranger armor with those cool goggles.  War… War Never Changes.

Borderlands

 

As far as Borderlands goes, I will always prefer the original trailer.  I love the way it introduces each character and gives them a comic book style introduction frame.  The soundtrack to me has become so connected to this trailer, that when I hear the song on the radio all I can think of is playing Roland.  As badass as this trailer is however… it fails miserably at one thing… getting me to by the game.  When you watch the trailer, it just looks like another shooter, albeit an edgy and graphically interesting one.  All someone had to do was tell me the phrase “Diablo With Guns”… and I shifted into “take my money now” mode.  Problem is this was about 6 months after the initial release.

Warhammer Online

 

This is yet another jaw droppingly epic trailer from Blur Studio, and sadly also another trailer that is leaps and bounds better than the game itself deserves.  As a longtime fan of Warhammer, there were so many little geek out moments.  From the Squid Herder, to the Bright Wizard, to the Chaos Maurader…  the video just oozes lore.  The moment that just takes the cake however is when the Tzeentch Bringer of Change steps through the wall.  Yes…  I am definitely a Warhammer geek.  Like I said, I just wish the game was as good as this trailer.

Rift

 

I have gone back and forth on this trailer over the years.  At first I was not sure about it, but the longer it exists… and the longer I have played Rift.. the more I appreciate it.  There are so many little things about this video that make the Rift player in me geek out.  The number one subtle element is the way the crow flies into the scene, then becomes life touched at one point, and finally at the end a flame touched phoenix.  On top of this, I recognize the abilities they are using and could in theory guess the specs of the supposed characters that are shown.  My favorite moment however, is when the warrior visibly switches souls… something that really slickly explains what to expect about the game itself.  It does what I think it set out to do, introduce players to the setting… and as icing on the cake it uses a setting that actually exists in Stonefield.  So often in these videos, they are in completely made up settings… grounding the video in the actual game is just kick ass.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

 

Once again Blur Studios makes it into my list, this time with a series of three trailers that were released leading up to the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Return, Hope and Decieved each set up a segment of the storyline leading up to the game timeline itself.  In addition, each sets up the archetypal character for each class in the game, and fleshes out some back story.  Combined they make an epic story arc that I can watch over and over. 

I loved Star Wars: The Old Republic…  until I ran out of content, but every time I watch this sequence I get nostalgic about what might have been.  The game is still pretty solid, but sadly it is wrapped into one of the most egregious free to play models I have ever experienced.  I realize that Bioware in essence had to sell its soul to stay afloat and keep the game running, but I will always be wistful about the game that could have been.

Rage

 

This trailer does an amazing job of setting up the universe that Rage takes place in, and explaining how the world got to the point where it is today.  Everything about the trailer makes me want to play the game.  I have a certain measure of regret over this title.  It is one of the best single player experiences I have had in recent years, but also one of the absolute shortest.  If the game had roughly twice the content, it would have been a truly phenomenal game.  What is left is a great experience, and the trailer tells you everything you need to know to enjoy it.

Diablo 3

 

Like Liore said in her post, it would be inappropriate to have a list of trailers that did not include something from Blizzard.  While I probably would have also picked the Wrath of the Lich King trailer, I didn’t want to copy her pick.  Probably my favorite series from Blizzard as far as trailers go, is Diablo.  Each trailer is always so rich in storytelling, and the Diablo 3 one is no exception.  Sadly for me, this is another case of the trailer being better than the game. 

Actually I have to take a step back from that, and say that the actual game itself was really enjoyable and I liked the story quite a bit.  It just was over way too damned fast.  I essentially played the game until I had completed the content, and then have not really touched it since.  All of this does not change the fact that the game trailer is pretty amazing.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

 

I am a HUGE fan of all things Elder Scrolls, but this trailer just set the game up perfectly.  Patrick Stewart as Uriel Septim was such an amazing casting, and this trailer which also serves as the intro video to the game pumps me up every time I watch it.  All I want to do when I see this is get into the game and explore, and become the epic and heroic warrior I know I can become in an Elder Scrolls game.  It does what I am looking for in a trailer, introduces the setting and provides the urge to play.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Live Action)

 

I can remember the first time I saw this trailer, I was just amazed that they went to the amount of effort to create a big budget live action trailer.  This feels exactly like Skyrim, where the peasants run away the Dragonborn runs into the action, and draws down on the drake.  This trailer and later commercial is just such a perfect representation of how epic the game feels.  It really makes me wish there was an Elder Scrolls television show.

Elder Scrolls Online

 

This is the trailer that I am most pumped about right now, so I saved it for last.  This trailer was released to announce the opening of beta signups for Elder Scrolls Online.  There is just so much about this game that excites me, and I love the way little callouts are made to the various factions.  I have always identified with the Nords, and when they crawl out of the bowels of the fortress after slaying a bunch of undead werewolves… just makes shivers of happy run up and down my spine.  Don’t get me started on how awesome it is that the werewolves were undead in the first place…

I’ve heard plenty of snide comments saying that the trailer is all about the guy from Assassins Creed, but all I can see is a Breton Rogue.  I am a notorious carebear, but for whatever reason I am really looking forward to the RVR in this game.  The frontier in Dark Age of Camelot was just a cool place to be, there were so many things that were NOT keep raids that you could do.  It was just cool to go out there and feel confident enough to be able to hunt the really hard mobs that were out there.

The fact that Cyrodil sounds like essentially the Dark Age of Camelot frontiers, just sounds so amazing.  I mean this is Cyrodil, the setting that the ENTIRE 4th game was set in.  That is so much space, and I am really hoping there are so many amazing non pvp targets out there as well.  It will be so much fun going out there with a group of friends and seeing what all we can do.  This video just pumps me up for doing some RVR and exploring Cyrodil.

I Blame Liore

This post went on so much longer than I had intended it to, but there are just so many amazing trailers that I love.  Right now I want to play every single one of these games, but I think I will ultimately log into Rift and cause as much havoc as I can.  If you’ve made it this far, I really hope you have a great night and can get something knocked off your gaming bucket list.

A Whole New World

It is a relatively dreary day here in Oklahoma as the experiment rolls onwards.  I’ve been out into the world, gassed up my wife’s vehicle and picked up some breakfast for the two of us.  Lately on the weekends we have been going out and indulging our recent photography habit, but unless things clear up I don’t see that happening.  It rained most of the night, and still looks like the sky could open any minute so for now I am hanging out inside blogging.

The Wrong Leather

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Initially I had intended to get in some League of Legends last night, but within moments of logging into mumble Drathis announced that he had to leave and would be back later.  Knowing the normal schedule, Tam confirmed that he too would be leaving shortly to go dancing.  This left us with four players that could commit to playing, and instead of pushing it further I just decided I would pop into World of Warcraft and continue working on Lodin.  I really enjoy LoL, but it is really only a worthwhile endeavor for me, if I am hanging out with a full team of friends.

I picked up in the Jinyu village where I had left off the previous night and started going through the paces of questing.  It was around this time when my favorite Aussie turned Malaysian 3D Content artist popped by the voice server.  Banzai is coming off a big project for Nintendo, and as such finally starting to filter back out into society.  This is a normal pattern for him, he goes into crunch mode on some awesome new project… then pops his head up afterwards and mingles for awhile.

When I am talking, I tend not to be paying attention to what I am doing.  As a result I ended up happily indulging my bloodlust and skinning anything I could.  So after a few hours of talking about 70s and 80s “Giant Robot” anime… I noticed my bags were insanely full with Pandaria level leather.  Normally this would be a great thing… but unfortunately I leveled way faster through the cataclysm content than I had intended and neglected to level my leatherworking past 460.

I consulted my favorite farming guide and decided that I did not want to take the amount of time required to unlock the Molten Front content.  So as a result I was bound for Tol Barad.  It was around this time that Banzai filtered out off the channel…  damned time shift..  and silence fell.  Farming spiders over and over is pretty boring.  I managed to farm up about 70 savage leather before the boredom hit me.

Pandaria to Pandora

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My friend Warenwolf had been happily playing Borderlands 2 while I was off in pandaland farming up leather.  Every so often he would comment about some spiffy thing he got to drop.  I thought to myself… I like cool things dropping *sadface*.  The biggest problem with Borderlands 2, is that for whatever reason I never got synced up with my friends.  They are all out doing the mega super extended content, and I am still stuck at level 12 poking around doing lower level quests.  With the boredom setting in heavily, I decided I really should be over trying to catch up my Commando.

Borderlands has always been such a great concept, and the second one is so much richer than the first.  However wandering around killing mobs several levels lower than me wasn’t exactly a stellar cure for my boredom either.  I managed to knock out four quests, all of which involved wandering back through areas I had already beaten the bosses of.  At this point I need to do some research in how to skip ahead in the content to something that is actually challenging and fun.

I managed to hold out as I did most of a level and a half, but this is the type of game that was really made to be played as a group.  I will admit that my fetish for Jacobs weapons in all their steampunky goodness is still in place.  As you can see in the picture above, I spent most of my time with a single shot tommygun-esc Jacobs assault rifle.  However after an hour and a half I was still looking for something fun to occupy my night.

Difference a Spec Makes

2013-04-26_224721If you were following any of my tweets, you will know that I wound up over in Rift last night towards the end of the evening.  Based on the excitement of those tweets, it went extremely well.  While we are on the subject of tweets…  why the hell has no one else integrated a twitter client with their game?  Seriously this is one of the killer features Rift has going for it.  Rift truly is the king of the “WoW Clones”, and I mean that with the utmost respect… because they have essentially gone around and latched onto the best practices of everyone else in the  industry.

One of the things that always hits me, when I boot up Rift on my gaming machine is just how amazing the game looks.  The subtle features of the title are just gorgeous to look at.  Inevitably I hit /tweetpic and comment about this, and someone chimes in agreeing.  Again someone else needs to make a /tweetpic command… it is absolutely brilliant.  A few weeks back, I had been reading a blog post by Wilhelm on The Ancient Gaming Noob talking about how he was just having a hard time getting into Storm Legion.

This resonated pretty solidly with me, because from about 56 onwards it has been like pulling teeth to try and level.  The mob hit points increased at a rate that was far greater than either my dps or survival.  I had been leveling with somewhat of a forum sanctioned spec, that was supposedly the best survivability to dps ratio.  Even at that it was still taking me roughly half my life to chew through most even level mobs.  I really want to hit 60, and try some of the endgame content…  but essentially leveling through the higher content was pure torture for me.

In the same post, after I had chimed in another guy (pkudude99) came in behind me and posted a spec that folks should try.  This week Wilhelm made a new post talking about trying out the spec, and how successful it was.  After reading this, it had been in the back of my head to do the same and this present boredom was the perfect opportunity.  After about 30 minutes of respeccing, rebuilding macros, resituating hotbars…  I was off to Camp Cyclone in Morban.

I hopped on my white tiger and rode up to the first mob I encountered, a 58 Storm Legion trooper of some sort.  I charged into battle, and in within a few seconds I had torn the mob asunder and taken next to no damage.  In that moment, a game that had felt like an extremely soulless grind only an hour before had become a magical playground of bloodlust and dismemberment.  The spec was in fact amazing, and over the course of the evening I happily ping ponged back and forth between packs of mobs slaughtering them with a smile on my face.

I have mentioned that I have quite the bloodlust when playing a warrior right?  My happiest moments in games is when I am not paying attention at all to the objectives I am supposed to be completing, but instead just bouncing around the map killing everything that crosses my map.  This totally happened last night, and as the dust settled around my warriors feet I had somehow put on half a level and gotten three planar attunement levels.  I was a happy boy, but also noticed that it was almost midnight so I figured I should probably start winding down for the night.

Extremely long story short… if you are playing a Warrior like me, and found yourself losing a battle to the grind of Storm Legion…  I highly suggest you check out this spec.  Thank you Wilhelm and thank you PkuDude99 the author of the spec…  for pointing it out.

"Perfect Solo" updated for 2.1 Hotfix 7 changes

Slaying Saturday

It is day two of the experiment, and roughly an hour later I have another blog post about nothing.  Our hope was to be able to go out wandering today and take some photos, but looking out our window it looks extremely dark out there.  In fact I think I just heard thunder, so I am guessing that is off the menu.  I believe Neverwinter is now available for me to play, so I may indulge that for awhile.  Essentially I purchased the cheap package, to be able to get in and play the beta events out of curiosity.  Honestly if I could have refunded that purchase I likely would have.

I played just enough in beta to decide I didn’t really enjoy the game as much as I thought I would.  But now that I have access to it, it feels like a colossal waste not to at least try playing it again.  Maybe I will care more about my characters with they are not throwaways?  I honestly liked the Guardian fairly well, but the thing that kept getting on my nerves was the fact that forward momentum stopped as soon as you performed an action.  This just felt like a needless break in motion.  Ultimately I guess I was expecting it to control more like Skyrim, and less like SWTOR.

If you’ve made it this far… I hope you all have an amazing weekend.  Here is hoping to the skies clearing and us being able to get out and about.  Being about to get out on the weekends for some exercise and fresh air has been beneficial to my waistline.