Thursday, 30 December 2010

Register

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hexThe register is a wonderful thing in school they call the register (that irritating list of names) in the morning to see who is at school that day. Recently i have been absent aside from my mates covering for me and shouting “here” in muffled voices.

The reason I have been away is that I have been focusing on the festivities of Christmas and new year as watching 80’s movies with my daughter (woot, schools out!)

I assure you I am not Blog-faded or blogged-dry I’m just focusing on other things for a few weeks. If anything with my time away from video gaming I have become more aware of the parallels in Hollywood and gaming (don’t you think we need a gamers equivalent of Hollywood?) and have some thoughts I would like to share over the next week or so (yes some of those thoughts are embodied in the Tron movies.)

Also, while I am on the topic, Tron Legacy is awesome, i mean it, its made of over 9000% win! – if you have not seen it GO AND WATCH IT NOW!

for now I leave you with the greatest number in history 241543903 (Google image that bad mother)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

I am the Hero

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fishI was pondering why I was enjoying Cataclysm when the basic game structure hasn’t changed significantly (though it has been polished to a blinding shine). I think I have figured out why I have fallen back into it.

Well I wrote a blog a while ago about how it was difficult for mmo’s to make the player feel like a hero. Well Cataclysm makes a damn good stab at this and for a good chunk of the time succeeds. Each area seems to have been redesigned to have a plot line running through it and you are the hero that changes everything.

wow-cataclysmNow this is where Blizzard’s new phasing technology come in, as you do get to genuinely get to change thing, as when you go back to an area it has altered. This has been used to a great narrative advantage, to make you the hero. For instance there are a battlefield where I defeated enemies on, when I went back all the enemies had gone. You are the one is responsible and more importantly the bad guys that you defeated 3 minutes ago haven’t respawned waiting for someone else to kill them.

It is a little weird, for many WoW used to be about the end game, now I am somewhat fearful of getting to max level. I have this great epic story where I am the saviour, spy and superhero, and I don’t want it to end at level 85.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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fishYeah I know it is as cheesy as hell but I am sat here on Christmas day waiting for MAG to patch, so I can use my shiny new Playstation Move with it (see I am a hard-core gamer). So I thought I would wish our handful, erm millions of loyal readers a very happy holidays and hope you get all the gaming goodies you could ever hope for.mag-only-possible-on-ps3

PS sorry if this makes no sense I may be a little tipsy.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

WoW AoC’s levelling isn’t smooth

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fishI have been playing a fair bit of Wow and this evening I felt I have been neglecting Age of Conan. So I boot it up and tried to continue where I left off. Now I have a confession to make. Last time I played Conan I used my accrued offline levels to bump my necromancer from level 65 to 67.

AgeOfConan_LogoNow the reason I did this is because simply put, there were no quests at all that were for my level, and I was getting frustrated. So this evening I finished up the quests that I had for my level (with only 1 death) and handed them in, to again get a bunch of quests that are too high for my level.

Heh I wouldn’t say I rage quit, more frustrated quit. There is a lot I like about Conan and I was hoping that Rise of the Godslayer would have gotten rid of the big content gaps that it had previously suffered, but I guess not. Now I awow-cataclysmm the type of gamer who when he plays an mmo, actually enjoys the questing (when it is done well). Now a lot of Age of Conan’s quests are great, humourous, violent and gritty, there just appears to be not enough of them.

This is in stark contrast to the new levelling in WoW, the quests are also great (though not really gritty) but there are plenty of them and they smoothly move you form one area to the next. So while I am very fond of Age of Conan, do I preserve and desperately do the odd quests I find, or do I pop another couple of levels onto my character and see what happens, because frankly the former seems a little bit like hard work.

Monday, 20 December 2010

EA Removing options

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hexElectronic Arts have been a consistent pain in gamers arses for some time now. Remember that whole Spore thing? then there was the mess about ownership rights with the EA online store, then the fuss made about Mirrors edge piracy. the fiasco is as old as EA them selves.

So when EA release a new expansion for one of my favourite First Person shooters I was thrilled to see it on steam, then less thrilled to read the that it is only viable for those who own BC2 steam version

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Not a problem, i simply decided to buy a box copy… problem, they are not selling box copies so for the first time every i may have to use the terrible EA online store that has a reputation for being well.. shite.

strangely i am so reticent to use the EA store that i am holding back on buying the game in hopes that BC2 goes on sale next week (in the big Christmas steam sale). think about that i would rather re-buy a game from steam than use the EA service.. this is not the attitude gamers should have towards a publisher!

I wonder how many extra copies on steam will be sold just so people can avoid EA like i want to. is this a good thing for sales of a bad thing for the state for EA’s business?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Special offers?

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hex
I saw today that the LotRO store is offering extra points, so when you purchase some in game store points, you get more than you pay for. a few days ago they had items discounted at something like 30% off. this got me thinking…


With special offers in our Free To Try games (Free to play, unlimited trial.. blah blah blah) should we do reserve our money waiting for these offers or is it best to spend as you want or need to?

Often with matters out side of game i will not buy a graphics card because i think its going to ‘go down’ soon and i often hold back my money with the Steam service because i just know there is a sale coming soon.
I am just wondering if this is a frugal tip for In-Game-Stores or just a tight gamer at work? – is there a difference?

My point is that it is both difficult as a consumer deciding when to spend cash as well as for a developer/publisher, are good sales best to get customers or an evenly low price that never changes?
Just one more thing to worry about while gaming… great ;P

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Are you a mmoger?

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fishAs I have previously mentioned I am back in WoW with a new character, and have been going through for the most part brand new quests. Now I suspect I am a little different from a lot of other players, in that I read the quest text in full when accepting a quest. This has paid great dividend in WoW as a lot of the new quests are genuinely funny, with a few even causing me to literally “lol”.

It got me thinking that if a player never reads any quest text and just picks it up and goes to the point that the quest helper says (which I turned off) , and starts murdering everything that is there, are they really in any way role playing. Now I will be honest that despite having characters in mmo’s on role play servers I have yet to properly role play with others, however I still like to have an idea as to why my character is running around, mashing it up.

You certainly wouldn’t play a single player role play game and cut out all the text. I imagine that something like Dragon Age and Balder’s Gate would be a lot quicker to finish if you just skipped the text and went straight into the action, but that, I fear, dragon_age_delaywould be missing the point significantly.

Of course a lot of the blame for this problem can be laid fairly strongly at the feet of mmo makers. I think things have improved a lot (hell blizzard went back and rewrote most of their old world quests, that should tell you something), but there is still a lot to be done. I guess I am of the believe that you should get everything out of a game that is on offer, and just skipping quest text you are missing out. I think that is still one of the things I like about Age of Conan, that all its quests are conversations, complete with a choice of responses, makes you more attached to your character. Should be interesting to see what people do when The Old Republic launches, as that will apparently have 100% voice acting.

I guess it just disappoints me a little bit that you have these amazing and beautifully crafted stories, and a lot of people just ignore them.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The One True Cast - The Grand Order of the Mad Badger

OTC LOGO

Welcome one and all to the newest and greatest episode of the One True Cast, this week Panda Panda and his ever faithful sidekick Mr HexDSL talk with great excitement about the official OTC LotRO kinship as well as the upcoming patch and the joys of reputation farming.

Listen Now: http://www.mevio.com/episode/259992/the-grand-order-of-the-mad-badger

RSS: http://www.mevio.com/feeds/the-one-true-cast.xml 

Twitter Panda

Twitter HexDSL

Comments welcome

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Quest Hard Audio Blog –Where’s that button?

QuestHard

This week in the Quest Hard audio blog (that’s just a podcast really) We talk about the highs and lows of Steams world domination, the new WoW content, some LotRO thoughts and our mutual ignorance of OnLive. this and much, much more in this fun packed show.

I must apologise about the quality of the show this week as Hex’s audio is much louder than Mr Fish for some strange reason. this only became apparent in editing and there was little we where able to do to correct it. will be fixed next episode i promise.

Get us over at: http://www.QuestHard.com
Our RSS is here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/QuestHard
Get an MP3 Here: http://m.podshow.com/media/25548/episodes/259794/questhard-259794-12-04-2010.mp3

Hex Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Hexdsl
Fish on Twitter: http://twitter.com/hangmansj0e

Jumping.

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hexFor many reasons this week I have been playing games on my phone more than usual (usually in bed while not being able to sleep) and i have noticed something about Android games. here is my massive unravelling of a thought… there’s an obsession that developers have with jumping. no, really, to list just a few games about jumping (the best ones, all available form the Market) Doodle Jump, Abduction 1 & 2, Hyper Jump, Impossible game).

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Most of these games have the same control system, your Alien, Cow, Imp jump and you tilt your device to make him/her/it move side to side collecting power ups when possible. (with the exception of the Impossible game, that's a one button masterpiece)

screenthe reason that i thought it worth mentioning is that i have brought a few of these games even though in principle they are the exact same game. i have to wonder is this is a microcosm of the First Person Shooter genre of gaming, if you try to explain what an FPS is to a none games you may use this sentence “you take role of a person and see out of his eyes, then you shoot stuff and navigate to a goal with the use of guns, grenades and occasionally interact with the environment to solve small puzzles” to make the distinction between games you find your self in the end admitting that its just setting.

The same can be said about MMO’s or racing games, in the end we are playing the same game with a new skin but this is not a bad thing. The first game i can remember getting really addicted to was ‘X-Com: Enemy unknown’ (AKA UFO – alien defence, or something like that) the strategizing skills i learned in that game where transferable to Other RTS games and then when i discovered DOOM the skills i learned about reaction and awareness of environment helped me in all games that i played after it.

Now I;'’m not saying that these skills are of any real use to you but my point is about genres not education. i wonder if these Jumping games have become so popular because they are another knew Genre that was only made possible with the invention of the accelerometer and soon enough we will begin to see real deviations of this theme and begin to see some games using this mechanic as a basis for a more robust game.

what is also interesting is that these games are simply not viable on the PC or home console and have a home exclusively on mobile devices. is this just the first genre created by this platform? 

i hope that we soon see some of the lessons learned about simplicity move over to the PC. in the end a simple control system (like tilting) can still be attached to a great game.

Quest Hard is in WoW

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Quest like you mean it!!

As Cataclysm is less than a week a way now. I have created a guild in World or Warcraft for those wishing to level and see the new world and experience the new quest, areas, races, and eventually raids with good mature and well, down right daft other players Smile
On Steamwheedle Cartel EU RP server its not up and running. Altho its on a RP server, RP is not essential for the guild, so come and  join us and enjoy the new world that is Azeroth.
We do have a 10 man Vent server up and running and soon a website to go along with it. Whisper me in game (Towani) my gnome fairy (priest) or send me an in game mail/ or get me on twitter/ raptr
All are welcome from newb to rerolled Veteran.
See you there. FOR THE HORDE…. I mean er.. Alliance!!!!

Raptr Forum Signature

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

So is it a brave new World, of Warcraft?

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fishAs you may know, the cataclysm has hit WoW (even though the expansion hasn’t been release yet). What this essentially means is that the World, the quests, the levelling curve and character progression have all changed, or so Blizzard claim. So I created a new character on a new server to see how true this holds.

Now the character I chose is a paladin, because I had tried a paladin ages ago and did not enjoy it at all. I guess it was a test of sorts, could Blizzards many tweaks make me like a class I didn’t enjoy. Well it turns out in this case they could. MMO’s are always about rewarding players for levelling, and in this Blizzard finally seemed to have got it spot on. Giving you cool abilities earlier on and making your character feel powerful and useful within only a few levels.

I should also point out that the way the quests lead you from one quest hub to the next is 105623_f260brilliant, though after all the practice Blizzard have had it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The other thing that really surprised me is that every single quest I picked up was just right for my level, none that were either too easy or too difficult.

I have got to say Blizzard have done a great job of polishing up the old world of Azeroth, it looks great and varied. Some areas seem to be more changed than others, but they all look good. Those of you have been reading my blogs for a while may have noticed that there is a distinct possibility of a but, and you are right.

I am enjoying it, but have I fallen in love with it again? Humm I am not so sure. At level 27 we got to a new quest hub, to find that all the quests we picked up were exactly the same as before. Ok perhaps completing them was a bit smoother  but that is not the point. Also I became rather aggravated when we failed a escort quest, when we were him with a huge lag spike (generally ping is not ben an issue). I am going to try and see all the content before making a definite decision to stick with it. I intend to create a horde goblin when the expansion is out, as I have never really played horde, so it should be a lot fresher. It might be that I expected exceptional and just got excellent, I shouldn’t be disappointed, but I am a little.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Choice Sucks

 

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fishWell it is the third day of the Steam Sales and I have already spend £8 pound on 10 games (the indie packs have been pretty awesome so far). And I got thinking about a conversation that I had with Hex about our younger gaming days. Back in the days when there weren’t 3 or 4 games released every week for every platform. Back when you had a game and you made it last because it might be a very good while before you could afford (or were given, oh how I looked forward to birthdays and Christmas) a new game.

Now that the games industry truly is an industry, there are dozens of publishers and hundreds of developers pushing out games on platforms as diverse as mobile phones and high end PC’s. It would seem that it is not just me that is thinking this, as you can see here.

Am I annoyed that I have all these great games to play? Ok no I am not, I am annoyed that in the last 2 to 3 years I wouldn’t get into double figures the number of games I have finished, and yet the good games keep coming. Now as I have said before, if I am not eating (ok sometimes while eating), sleeping, working or blogging, then I am gaming.

quake-live-betaThings are getting even worse for me when mmo’s like LOTRO and shooters like Quake are offering me gaming for free. Actually that's another point, multiplayer has now been shunted onto everything. So back in the good old days you could finish a game and then be done, now that is no longer an option. Take Red Dead Redemption for instance, I have finished that but haven’t even had a chance to touch the multiplayer, because I extended the game further with Undead Nightmare DLC (I am red-dead-redemption-undead-nightmarea sucker for zombies).

So having multiplayer and DLC for your great game is a fine idea and you could happily play one game for months, even years, if the damn games companies didn’t keep putting out games I really wanted to play.

I think that while more and more of us are gaming now, which is a great thing, but as more people put more money into gaming, the more games publishers will put games out. Maybe this is why we are seeing so many developers closing. There are too many games and while they are competing for a lot of consumer money, the vast majority of gamers can’t afford/won’t buy 3-4 games a month.

imagesGames like WoW and Call of Duty are statistical blips, but publishers are still seeing how much money they make and believe that it is possible to make as much money. I can see it reaching a saturation point where there are so many games being release and many just aren’t selling. That would be a shame but I think that is the way it is going.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Android gaming.

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hexI have had an android device now for some time and i have as yet found very few games for it that are good. let me quantify that first, my android device is a phone not a tablet and i imagine tablets are better for games. my device is a Samsung Galaxy Portal (called a Spica in the US) i have rooted it and am running a custom ‘turbo’ compiler so i have a darn fast device that can install all apps to an SD card, so space has not help back my need for gaming.

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So here are is a a quick roundup of the games that i have found that are worth checking out. all of these have been installed to my device from the Google marketplace so you should have no problem finding them.

Mobile MMO!

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Pocket legends is a true MMO for your phone, it looks a little like WoW and is at the moment in Beta (open and free to play) on my modified device it runs just about playable but i should imagine that on the faster android devices it is more fun and on a larger screen i should think it would be a great time waster but unfortunately its not much of a ‘real’ game and i can not imagine any WoW or LotRO players giving up their main game for it. saying that though it is in beta and as features are added (maybe even a PC client) i can see it improving with age.

Graphically speaking its very nice and have a definite WoW inspired look but for a low power device this woks well. the control system is a simple touch to move/loot/attack and the menu does a good job of not being overly intrusive to play. the game  runs well over 3g and wifi but is no fun at al over slower wireless connections.

Tower defence

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Robodefence is a very simple single player tower defence game where the aim is to stop robots getting in your base (very PvZ) you earn coin for kills and that coin buys you more turrets of differing class that can all be upgraded. the thing that makes this game outstanding is that after every match you can use points you earn to unlock better starting equipment as well as more advanced units for later in the match.

this game comes as both free (Lite) and paid versions, the paid version has many more options and levels. the full version is only $2.99 and its well worth it but struggles with custom firmware.

Pew pew pew

Screenshot of Radiant

Radiant is a wonderful take on space invaders and it gets round graphical limitations by being a game made up of neon outlines  (I’m explaining that badly) its a simple shoot the bad guys game with power ups (progression through available weapons) its a long game compared to many of its type and has a pretty basic but well done story, there are  lite, regular and HD version’s on the market. the regular is $1.90 and worth every but of it, i would suggest looking at the HD version for larger screen devices (such as the Galaxy S)

Aliens, Farm animals and flying platforms?

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Abduction 2 is a great game where you use your phones magical movement sensors to guide an athletic jumping cow up a ladder of floating platforms to chase aliens who have abducted his farmyard brethren . yes i am serious and its excellent. the original game is free (barring a short story mode for a small fee) but the sequel propels what started as a bit of fun into the realms of serious fun with unlocks and  challenges, also there are hats.

that’s all folks.

there are other great games on the market (such as City Jump) but most are iPhone ports and flash games, there are few quality games that are Android exclusives, i would recommend the great site AppBrain for browsing the market as their rating system is very good as well as more reliable the the built in one.

AppBrain Best Android Apps

for anyone who does not know AppBrain is a website and phone app that lets you browse the market as well as queue up installations from your PC. its also a must have application/link for any serious android user.

as for android as a gaming platform? – i think its some way off being really worthwhile and until there is a unified minimum specification for our devices game developers will struggle. i think once the Samsung tablet really hits (a year after its release I’m guessing, when it becomes financially viable) the Ipad will dominate in this area but even Apple are having a tough time making it into a serious gaming device.

I hope this has been informative and useful to at least some of you.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Why do we blog?

 

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fishThis is something I have been wanting to articulate for a while, but haven’t been sure how to do so. I have been wondering why myself and my fellow bloggers, erm blog. So I am gonna try and explain why I blog, and then maybe speculate why others do.

So why do I blog? Unfortunately I don’t really have an answer for you. I have always loved gaming and have always had way too many opinions about it. However until recently I have never felt the need to write them down and publish them on the internet. I think the reason for this are twofold. One is that my spare time is fairly precious to me, and I would rather spend it gaming then writing about gaming.

The other reason ties a bit more into why we blog. Even if I have an amazing, novel, awesome idea, chances are someone has already put  a piece up on the internet saying the same thing, and probably doing it better than I could. I am a firm believer in that if you can think it/it can be done, then it is already on the internet.

So what changed, why did I start blogging. Well I have always enjoyed writing and as I said I am not exactly short on opinions. If I am being honest, I would say I was actually a little envious of my BFF Hex, who was already blogging. It just seemed like a cool think to do. So now I am doing it I like it, it feels like spewing my mind into a keyboard, it is fun and humm refreshing I guess is images (4)a good word for it.

My reasons for not blogging have not gone away, to the point where I actively sit down and make myself blog (my internet is down right now, otherwise I would be playing AoC). I just don’t worry about them anymore. I think my blogs are for me and anyone else who reads them is a bonus.

So why do I think people blog? I think some people do it because they feel the need to spread their ideas. They want the world to know what they think. I think some people blog because they love to write, and gaming (for instance, could be anything) is as good a topic as any, I am pretty sure that Hex falls into this category, though I am sure he would disagree. And finally there are, I believe, a few bloggers out there who want to become famous/get a job out of blogging. There is no shame in that and if they succeed fair play to them.

Now the question I am asking myself is that now I have started blogging, do I want to continue? Yeah I do, I love the almost confessional feeling blogging has. Heh I think it might just be good for my mental well being.

Though I do think Hank has a point.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Steam is making pc game retail sales evaporate?

 

Steam Logo

fishRecently Steam has come under a bit of flack from a couple of UK retail chains, stating that Steam is killing the PC retail market. Now I have a great deal of fondness for Steam, but this doesn’t stop me from seeing the flaws. And I believe one of the retail markets primary issues is that even if you go into their shop and buy a Steam game (for instance Supreme Commander 2), that when the person gets home to play it, they have to create a Steam account. It is a bit like buying a game in a shop, only being told that to play it you have to go into the rival, cooler game shop that is next to your house.

Now I can see there point, however there are two game shops in my local town (about 2ish miles post-118674-1267382566from where I live) Gamestation and Game. Gamestations section of PC games is laughable and Games is a bit better, but not by much. Oh I should also point out that both stores are owned by the same company. So even if I did want to buy a retail disc copy, I usually can’t find the game I would want in the shops anyway.

I think these retail chains, who I think it is safe to say over the last few years have been fairly unconcerned about the pc market, have suddenly woken up to the fact that there is still money to be made off it, especially in digital sales. Now I believe at this time Steam has somewhere in the region of 80% of all digital games sales. So “Monopoly” the retailers cry, only there are half a dozen other services for digital downloads (impulse, Direct2Drive etc). The reason so many people use Steam is the same reason any other really good service gets used a lot, it is really good.

It is also in the last week that Microsoft have re-launched their Games for Windows Marketplace, apparently now with a similar number of games on it to Steam. Microsoft are going to have to work really hard to compete with Steam (and have some ridiculously cheap games) as Games for Windows has engendered a great deal of ill will in the PC community.

Games-for-Windows-MarketplaceNow I find it hard to sympathise with the retail chains that have lost the pc market business, as they have taken no steps at all to save it. However there is the one thing that bothers me about Steam and the slow death of the retail market. That the number of new PC gamers is going to slowly dry up. As you don’t see pc games in shops, they rarely pop up in mainstream media and I don’t see much being done to get to the none pc gaming public on the internet. Damn is it a strange fear to be an old man stuck with very few pc games to play, because only old men like me know they exist?

NB I am not quite an old man yet.