Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The One True Cast – Bree Cast?

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Its True, your not going insane, that logo above does signify the epic return of the Bad Panda HexDSL Tag team of pod-win. The One True Cast is Back!

This Episode is the return to form for the One True cast with the new pricing model explained really slow for the tem billion people on the forums who don’t ‘get it’ as well as a chat about the item shop, the future of the game, our static group and all sorts of other wonderful things LotRO related.

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Level me not.

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hex I do not usually do this but I had a thought about progression in games and can’t help but share some of my misguided thoughts.

Character creation and progression
Making a new character in games should be personal and deep, it should also matter, most games let you generate a character and really other than the name and class all other choices are pointless. So in my imaginary MMO I want creation to matter, so it should be more than a cosmetic choice.

Creation should be a series of questions and answers, some with hidden meaning and depth, the player should have to get into the mind set of the character, almost think how he wants his character to think then, based on the choices a character is born. No classes or professions but people, and then, what you choose to do with that character slowly crafts a recognisable class via play.

When you answer you creation questions you are building an affinity for certain tasks just like when a person is a talented doctor even though they have the same training as all the other doctors you character would be better at some tasks because of an affinity for them

Imagine raising a new character and your choices leave you with options to learn healing skills, but then you get experiences that give you DPS skills. Nothing is ever blocked off to you but the more you specialise in one field the less effective you are in others, for instance you can’t be a soldier and a healer, but you can be a soldier with field medicine skills. You can’t be a wizard who uses a sword but you can me sorcerer with a dagger. Balance and specialisations not professions.

My reason for feeling like this is because in real life people are more than classes, I once knew a pianist who liked to sew, I knew a gardener who liked to race cars and I’m a gamer who loves to write. Why then are we content just being a Tank or a Healer?

Levelling up.
Let’s not bother, let’s measure your characters progression through unlocked abilities, and then let those abilities level but not the character. You will always have the same health points and manna, but your skills change, like in real life. Just because I am good at making fajitas it does not mean that I am suddenly gifted with bigger muscles. Level based progression does not make sense but levelling skills do, maybe I can make toast better than my dog, I would have a higher level toast making skill.

Death.
It’s always a bit of an issue in a game, how do you keep playing after death? Easy, let’s not let characters die. If they loose too much health they get ‘recalled’ a lot like City of heroes’ lore states. Think of it as a magical ‘thing’ for whatever reason it makes your character recall to a set location before death.

When you get ‘recalled’ you don’t have more health than when you died you have the same amount and have to go heal up before questing on. Let’s add this to the sore of the game. The reason everyone wants you to help them (quests) is because you and a few other special people have this almost immortality where as other people would just risk doom. This way you could use death as a proper piece of law and not just whitewashed over it like most games. There is even a change for endgame quests or areas where there is ways to gamble with permadeath. Imagine an option to take a quest that leads you into a cave where the protective magic does not work and you simply must not time or forever be doomed….

Imagine a mechanic where you did die and there was a whole ‘afterlife’ based area to explore to win back your soul and body? So many options jut by making death part of the lore.

End game
In a game with no level’s end game is an interesting thing, maybe you have progressed to the maximum extent on one skill line, maybe you can earn proficiency in other skills now you are a master, but as everyone is the same level you can do this with your friends, they would not be as effective as you and your ubber skill but they would have the same hit points and manna so there is less challenge in using your skills to ‘buff; them a little but after all your skills are massive now! (see? using progression as a mechanic for a buddy system)

Now there would be PvP and because of our death mechanic there could even be permadeath PvP Arena (outside the range of your protection against death). You can play with a new character or risk using a skilled character who has been around for a bit to gain advantage, but if he dies your back to square one.

Raiding. Raiding in a game with no levels would be interesting too, and with the way the skills would be balanced you could raid at any level there is not XP so your effectiveness would be based on the skill pool you have available and your reward could be a new skill. Maybe the only way to progress skills would be to kill raid bosses. You have to have some way to increase your skill effectiveness why not use raiding?

Anyway this was a little babble based on my thoughts about ways of doing different things. I hope its food for thought.




Monday, 30 August 2010

There is no such thing as free to play.

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hex Free to play games are not real, the term its self is flawed because it implies something for nothing (okay Spellborn was free but that all went wrong). After an hour reading the CodeMasters LotRO forums I have to vent, I really need to vent my frustration.

At the moment people who play LotRO pay £8.99 a month, that’s all you get, you pay the money and your login works, nothing else at all. Any expansions have to be brought separate from that £8.99.

As of the 8th of September they can have the original game for free, granted it’s a little cut down if you want to play for free; but subscribe £8.99 a month (same as now) and you get the full experience (same as now) AND 500TP (Tubine points)  to spend in the store every month.

When it goes free to play your getting MORE than you do now for £8.99! This seems simple to me, I have no issues with it. It’s easy to understand. Why are there people of the forums (who already pay a sub, I know this because their account works on the forum) moaning about what free players miss out on. AGH! If your already paying for the game very little will change, and all those changes are for the better.

If it helps think of the Free to Play portion of the game as a demo, a taster then if you really like it you got to give some money to the nice people at CodeMasters/Turbine, so that they can buy food for their family’s and come to the office every day to make MORE content that you get FOR FREE as a subscriber!

Who do people think that because you can play a version of the game for free that all of a sudden that £8.99 a month you get is ‘robbery’ (yes, that word WAS used on the forums more than once). Do you want them to give everyone who ever had an account a life time sub for the inconvenience of them trying to improve the game?

Lets be honest, the game has been about for some time now, Guild wars 2, TOR, and many more games in the future will be pulling subscribers away from LotRO but with this new price structure they will have guaranteed the games future for many dedicated players. It’s going to be accessible for very little money for lots of casual players, this means there will ALWAYS be some one to play with, even after Blizzard take over the internet.

Why are people so stupid? ‘Free to play ‘is really ‘Free to try, cheap to start getting serious then a little more money to play as a main game’ that’s allot of text for an advert so they sue ‘F2P’ in stead. Nothing is free if its good, it maybe cheap or fair priced but never free.

Sorry for that, rant over.




Oh WoW the Blizzard is over

fish As you probably know I used to play quite a bit of World of Warcraft, however I quit about 18 months ago. Now it was always my intention to head back to it when Cataclysm was release, largely because I have a great deal of affection for the characters I played, the game world and also a lot of the people I met playing the game.

wow-cataclysm However having been playing Age of Conan and loving it and playing LOTRO and liking it (I am beginning to like it now, but that is for another blog). And looking at all the mmo’s coming out in the next 6 to 12 months, I am not sure that WoW is going to get a look in. I think this is especially true now I am playing LOTRO, because even though I am liking it now, it is still a lot like WoW. I am wondering what people opinions are, when you can play LOTRO for free with the odd payment here or there, or go back to WoW spend another £20 on the expansion.

lotro_moria_logo I personally know a lot of WoW players that have stopped playing because Cataclysm is on the horizon, and because WoW is so gear focussed there is no point playing if in 6 months everything changes again. This, I think, is also largely Blizzards fault, because when they launched the last big raid, Ice Crown Citadel, they basically said there would be no more major new content, and this was about 4 or 5 months ago if memory serves. It has always staggered me that you get so little new content from Blizzard, in proportion to the amount of money it makes.

This is a brave prediction but I think that Blizzard are expecting to get all the lostactivision_blizzard_mockuplogo players of the last 2 years back with Cataclysm and I believe that they are going to be disappointed. I think other games, like LOTRO, like DCUO, like Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic are going to get a lot of these potential players, after all in my opinion the World of Warcraft game that I loved no longer exists.

I would love you opinions, especially from any lapsed WoW players. This is an exciting year for mmoer’s (is that even a term?) and I think WoW’s days of being the daddy are over.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

To Alt is human.

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hex MMO’s are great aren't they? we get to take on the role of a new character in a new world and explore, adventure and change the face of the world. This is great and usually I do this by playing one character until i feel like I have experienced it all, i have never been an end game junkie but have always been a slow leveller so it has never mattered.

I have developed a new play style recently though, recently i have loved to play those Alts (alternative character's, as in, not my main) i have done this in both Guild Wars where i have created a new elementals to play from the start and in Lord of the Rings Online where i have created a Guardian and a Hunter.

for the last few years of MMOing i have not seen the appear of Alting as i have always felt that my focus would be best spent making a single character ‘legendary’ but now i am older and more jaded i can see the light. with a new character it can be like a new game, new UI components to look at and play with, new ways of doing things, and a whole experience that is new.

In many ways i think of its as ‘different flavour crisps’ they are all potato snacks but some taste like chicken while others taste like onions. different but the same, not better or worse just different.

I one problem with Alting is that it gets expensive as i am splitting my time between characters i never have chance to craft or farm or generally make money the way i did when i had just the one character. maybe different classes are actually there to add content in this way on purpose. mmorpg

I wonder if a new character would rekindle my love of Global agenda (now its soul has been patched out of it)

how many times have you played and MMO and not liked it after just one character? maybe a different class would have changed your mind totally.

anyway im going to enjoy an Alt now, maybe one day one of these will be my new main after all is the main the one you play the most or the one you like the best?




Saturday, 28 August 2010

Doctor Who Game: TARDIS

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hex TARDIS, it stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. but since the BBC resurrected the franchise its been on stupid room with too many buttons and a preoccupation with the colour brown. in the older episodes there was always a sense of scale in the TARDIS, even though you hardly ever saw the extra rooms you knew they where there, the TARDIS was their home not just a space van that the band travel from gig to gig in.

After that opening rant you can probably guess how thrilled i was when i saw the new doctor who adventure game is called TARDIS. I downloaded it in a rush and woke my daughter up to play it with me. we sat for the usual two hours that these games last, then she got bored and went over to her friends house. this has left me at the last few minuets of the game, i have not finished it (will do when she gets in, don’t want to have to repeat content in such a short game)

2capture The interesting point in that story above is that we played for two hours and she got bored, then left. because the last two games have held her attention for their duration with ease. this new one didn’t and i can see why, it recycles puzzled from the first two with a massive increase in difficulty level.  i found myself scratching my head at the ‘connect the wires’ puzzle for a good five minuets, and although not a massive challenge for a logical adult player this was well out of the grasp of my five year old daughter. i am not against a diffictuly increase in any game but this one is aimed as the younger or at least less experienced gamers.

game-city-of-the-daleks-tardisThis minor change in difficulty i could have shrugged off, but then there was another recycled puzzle, yes, the one where you have to use your mouse to drag something out of a maze without touching the sides (sorry could not get screen shot) this time you have to move two objects through the maze to ‘homes’ but here’s the kick in the teeth, if you do the first one and screw up on the second one the puzzle resets. i have a steady hand and a great mouse (Saitek GM-3200DPI Laser mouse, but that’s not relevant) i had to try the puzzle five times while my bored daughter was asking ‘where’s the monsters?’

There is a new type of puzzle in this game though, a quiz! its a doctor who general knowledge quiz, its quite difficult but al the answers can be found by reading the information pop-up's on bits of tat found about the TARDIS. yeah…. the popup thingy's, they reference the old series of doctor who (you know, from the 60’s and 70’s when the show was good) for me it was no challenge as i have memorised every fact and figure from every episode of the show ever made before the reboot (GEEK, I know but I was brought up on this), my daughter has the newer showed in memory at all times too…. no I'm exaggerating, it asks about the third doctors flute and Peter Davidson's love of cricket. but my point is, a QUIZ? what chance to new fans have here? and as most the audience of this game are between 10 and 17 what are the chance of them actually stopping to READ the pop ups as they appear? NONE!

Now, the TARDIS its self, you get to see two rooms, the Control room and the Drawing room (they reference the distance in-between but you don’t get to play it.

The Control Room feels smaller than it does on the TV show and there is less of that ‘clutter’ that we love. but still, its interesting to look at and a very well done. then, you got up the stairs and magically you appear in the drawing room (about half a mile away they say) where there is lots of books and trinkets from the shows history as well as a fire place (strange, but fits really well into the scene, reminds me of the episode ‘girl in the fire place’)

You have to go between these two rooms collecting things and assembling them (puzzles) but as there are only two rooms its not that hard to find what your looking for, as usual there are some GREAT but small cut scenes that make up the plot.

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The game is weaker than the last episode but better than the first one. it’s very short as well, something they have tried to hide by making harder puzzles. my criticism of the first game was that you don't do very much actual ‘playing’ of it, the second one fixed this totally i really felt engaged but this one is back to the downfalls of the first, it feels like a menu that you use to go from puzzle to puzzle with cut scene to break it up.

when the last episode came out i felt hopeful that they where going from strength to strength but now I’m wondering if episode two was a lucky strike. 

pouzzle agent when i played the first and second episodes i was reminded of monkey island style adventure experiences this one reminded me of Puzzle Agent (a great game by the way) without the skill of storytelling that that has.

In the end its a weak experience and less than i hoped for, with one more episode to come i wonder if i will look back to this ‘season’ as the start of the BBC’s newest medium or an entertaining experiment.




Thursday, 26 August 2010

LotRO Tips for new players.

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hex With all this free to play hype I’ll bet your thinking about jumping into LotRO some time soon. I know some friends of mine have either returned to the game and others have picked it up fresh. One of the things I have noticed is the sense of culture shock with certain aspects of the game not acting how they expect.

With this in mind here are my LotRO tips for new players.

Performance.
The game is not as intensive as you may think and allot of the problems people have are with Direct X 10 this is a massive FPS sink and although making shadows and flames look very nice it does little else of benefit, turn it off if you think its hitting your machine too hard.

If your machine is quite old the there is one option that will help you out a great deal. Turn off ‘post processing’ this will result in blue and uninviting water but you will get a massive boost in frames per second.

If the game runs okay until you get into a group (or a town) then try the ‘Crowd Quality; slide bar, this will allow you to change the quality of large groups, even on my powerful quad core system the game slows down in large groups, so if you turn the slide bar all the way down it will allow the game to automatically lower the character model quality as needed to maintain frame rates.

Want to view your Frames Per-Second? Use CTRL+F to toggle them on or off. Also if its in an irritating place (or anything else on the screen) use CTRL+# to  toggle the UI editing options, in this mode you can move almost anything on the screen to where you want it.

If it’s any help I can confirm that this game runs flawlessly both windowed and full screen on windows 7 - 64Bit.

Menu, Audio and interface
The interface of the game as stated above can be moved quite a lot with the CTRL+# command push it once to turn the edit options on and again to turn off.

If you look in options (UI then Miscellaneous) you can turn off a little box that shows your connection status, it actually says ‘show latency and connection information’ or something similar. The ‘loot all’ toggle is also in this portion of the menu.

Also occasionally you will notice that when in group there is a little green symbol above players portraits, this means that their ‘in-game voice chat’ is turned on, you can find this in audio options and its not turned on by default it works by push to talk (Z as default key I think) and quality can vary massively according to the connection of those using it. Usually I use Skype because it’s better quality and does not impact game performance in any way. You can use Skype and the in game chat at the same time; this does not appear to impact performance.

Some times when in fellowships you will see a round target appear on the screen just above your skill bar. When you click it you will have a choice of coloured disks. This is not explained very well by the game but it is a fellowship wide ability that you have activated by working as a team (not really sure how exactly)

There are various combinations depending on group size that will make different things happen. If you look at your character sheet (C key) and check ‘fellowship’ you will see a list of all discovered combinations. At low levels if everyone just gets in melee range and hits red you will be happy with the violent outcome I’m sure. Unless you need ‘heath’ then everyone hit green. There is more skill involved with larger groups though to talk it out before you go into battle.

Class choice.
Try every class, and remember they all come into their own about level 30 (or 40 in the case of Loremaster’s) if you don’t enjoy the game at the start it may mean your playing a class you don’t enjoy, or a race, starting areas can make a big difference to player experience and in my opinion Bree Land or the shire are the best by far.

Money.
Where’s my wallet? That’s one of the ones I hear allot. New players can never figure out how much money that they have, hit ‘C’ to view the character sheet, its below your feet. Also, 1000 (yes a thousand) silver makes one Gold. A Gold piece is worth A LOT and few things sell for this much money.

Making money at low levels is best done by using whatever harvesting skill you have acquired (Crafting) to get full stacks of wood or ore (or veggies for some of you) and sell this on the auction (south Bree, a little hammer on your map strangely) house unprocessed and processed (for various needs) these will always sell well can cost you very little to create. Look at other peoples auctions for the same product and figure out the current prices for what you want to sell, a fair buy out price will make you money faster than some making people bid.

Also killing boars just out side of the northern exit to Bree will provide you with some great trash loot as well as hides to sell. Boars really are your best friend at any level. Go crazy and kill them real good. They will make you some cash.

Also, when harvesting don’t stick to one type, get everything you can. This increases the respawn rates. There are cleaver people who did the maths on this a while back, trust me, empty every ‘node’ you can, it give’s better results for everyone, same for killing boars, kill all the other animals in the area. There was an article a while back on the forums about ‘extinction’ happening if you over farm the same mob it all woks because of the limit to percentage of spawns allowed per mob.

Remember to save money too, don’t be too tempted with armour at low level as quest rewards are actually really good but when you get to level 35 (maybe lower now) and want to buy that horse you will need 4 gold.

Don’t waste money on a house until you have a horse. There is not point using that port back to your neighbourhood if you have to run all the way back to where you cam from. Getting about cheap is very important or you WILL run out of cash fast.

Also if you can get a house in the same neighbourhood as your kinship hall DO IT you get a fairly substantial reward in the form of discount from vendors in the neighbourhood. Its well worth fast travelling back to your home then using the merchants locally to pay for repairs at the end of a nights play. This will save you money.

Also when at the merchant at your home district bulk buy travel rations. It’s well worth it to have lots of them. Makes your life easier (you consume on every time you fast travel)

Loot.
Everything in the game as a use. Every piece of loot it useful to some one for something so if you get a stack for stuff you don’t want, check its not worth anything on the auction house before you sell it to a merchant.

When in a group the default loot mode is ‘roll/pass’ I like this as its very fair but if you do want to change it the fellowship leader needs to right click on his own portrait and select ‘loot type’ there are many different modes, including the WoW standard of ‘need/greed’

I hope that this quick overview of things I thought you should know is of help to some of you.




Confused about the LotRO free to play/ VIP bonuses?

Fleata

 

What does VIP get you? and how do you become a premium member?


Free-to-Play opens up more choices and options so you can play your way. When LOTRO Free-to-Play is available, you can download the game for free and start playing without a subscription or even a credit card.

Anyone can join the game for free as a Free player when LOTRO Free-to-Play is available. You will automatically be upgraded from Free player to Premium player status with your first purchase of Turbine Points in the LOTRO Store.lotrofree1

And for a monthly fee, LOTRO's VIP program offers the best value and the most options for players who like the convenience of having unlimited access to all of LOTRO's game content and features. If you are already a subscriber, just maintain your active subscription to be automatically upgraded to VIP!

To make things simple:

Free to play : Pay nothing ever
Premium: Pay once at any point
VIP: Pay a subscription each month or pay for a lifetime one off payment.

Here is a link to the LotRO chart for the benefits of each “Tier” of subscription

http://www.lotro.com/betasignup/vipchart.html

Am I lovin’ LOTRO?

fish I have recently been playing a fair amount of Lord of the Rings Online, and have just got to level 20. So in view of fairness, and Hex gave his thoughts on the first 20 levels of my mmo of choice, Age of Conan, I would do the same.

LOTRO does quite a lot of things I like, the primary one is the deed system. Essentially you get titles and character ability/buffs for completing challenges, like so many kills or using a skill a lot. This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about in my achievement blog. You get a genuine sense of being rewarded for, Hangfridwell grinding seems like a harsh word but that's what it is. Oh it also has the best facial hair of any game, see my character to the right.

The world is attractive and runs well on most pc’s, is very well realised, the quests are well written and all the class choices seem well balanced. That is another things I like, because there is no player versus player in the game, all the classes feel a bit over powered. This is a great thing, as some mmo’s don’t seem to understand that playing a game should make you feel powerful.

They also treat the source material with a great deal of respect, you can believe you are running around a world that is not too dissimilar to the one that Tolkien imagined. The quests for the most part time nicely into the the books, as it is set about the same time as The Fellowship of the Ring book is.

I think you would have to be an idiot to not sense that there is a “but” coming, and here it is, but I just don’t love it. In fact I am pretty much indifferent to it. I am going to continue to play it on and off, especially as Hex and my other half are playing, but I wouldn’t want to spend money on it.

I think ultimately my problem is that it is very similar to mostly every other mmo’s. I think it will do very well when it goes free to play. The reason being that most free to play mmo games are a lot like, well lets be honest, WoW, but poorly implement and realised. However LOTRO is a lot like WoW but very well implemented and realised. My issue is that I played a lot of WoW in the past and don’t have any interest in playing WoW, and therefore don’t want to particularly play LOTRO.

lotro_moria_logoNow Hex assures me that the game really comes into it own at level 30, so I am  going to give it a fair crack. I feel a little bit bad criticising a game for being good, and the above is purely my point of view, please don’t let it put you off trying it, especially if you like the source material.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Game Music

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hex[8][5]When I am playing a game I like turn off the music. It’s pretty much standard procedure for me, load game, turn off music. This is not because I hate sound but it’s because I like to listen to my own music in the background. Some times when grinding I will listen to audio documentaries or podcasts but mostly its Rush albums.

As an MMO gamer you would think that this type of music would ‘blow’ my immersion but it does not. In fact with out the ultra relaxing travel music that most MMO’s give up I find that I stay interested and engaged longer.

What irritates me however is having to minimise the game to mess with the audio controls, pick new tracks or whatever else.

Do you think that MMO’s as standard should give us the ability at least to access media in game in the same was an x-box does?  Anyway, its food for thought that I thought I would share.

It’s sure nice to be back.

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hex[8][5] I re-subscribed to LotRO knowing that everything is changing on the 8th of September. I have se subscribed for three reasons, and they are as follows

1)    I really wanted to play. All the publicity and hype surrounding the change over ahs made me want to take a look again and rekindle my love of the game. I only ever left because I never had time to play and I had burned out on the game quite massively,


2)    I want to be active when the change over occurs so that I bet to be a VIP) subscriber from day one. Its going to be an interesting few days and I want be part of it as I have loved this game for a long time.


3)    If I am giving them money there is less chance they will loose my characters – I know, optimistic, but I really want to keep my characters as I really do have fond memories of them.

I loaded the game mast night and felt warm glow as I saw ‘Lairdan Hex’ Loremaster. I went down the list smiling to myself as I looked on at my characters all different and entertaining each with a little back story I wrote a long time ago.

I loaded my Loremaster and appeared in the 21st hall (Moria) as usual it was laggy and packed with people but I was happy to see it. I my old goat and ran around looking at things in Direct X 10 glory, watching those flames flicker and shadows dance. I had forgotten just how haunting Moria can be.

I then checked my wallet and noticed 4 and a half Gold rolling about in it, I map travelled back to Bree and took a ride to the housing area. After all when it all changes over on the 8th houses may get more expensive and I have not had once in a ages. I had been waiting for a small property in the same neighbourhood as my Kinship.

That reminded me, my Kinship, where was they? I sent out a regional message ‘is there anyone from the legendary kinship or Serenity about this fine evening?’ silence fell, then a little beep alerted me ‘Yes, how can we help you’ a short conversation later and I was back in the Kinship. I felt like I was in the game for real again.

There was a single house available in the same neighbourhood as the Kinship house. I snapped it up and rode my horse proudly to my new property. I took my old house items out of storage and soon enough I had a cosy little home complete with welcome mat and garden gnome. It was a good day so far.

I the sat in the field outside of Bree re-spending points on my legendary items (including the mighty ‘Hobbit Poker’ sword) as there had been a change in my break I had all the points refunded. It was relaxing, the music was subtle in the background and players kept dashing past on various quests and adventures. The kinship chat was rolling up my screen.

It was getting late (well, 10PM but had work the next day) so took a look down my skill list remembering what each one does and how it works in combat. Then I called my animals one by one, it was great to be back. No doubt.

Tonight I play with the Quest-Hard guys (Mr Fish and Lady Fleata) with my low level Guardian. I’m enjoying the game again, its great to be back. Let’s just hope when the pricing model change over happens that nothing is broken. Let’s hope it costs me no more than the £8.99 subscription to play it.

For anyone who is on the fence. Bet back to this game when it goes free. It’s fun and strange and intriguing and most of all it’s going to be cheap to play. We hope.

Now I am back will my other games suffer? I can see vanguard getting shelved for a while and guild wars taking a back seat again but AoC needs more attention still.

Look out for The return of a LotRO cast with Panda any myself as well as a static group

Maybe sequels are the future like it or not.

fish A couple of weeks back I posted a blog about my, disappointment, regarding the sequels being made, specially by high profile developers. So it was with a little upsetting when Bioshock Infinite was announced by Irrational Games, despite them teasing that the game would be a new idea.

 Final-Fantasy-Logo-main_Full However having looked into Bioshock Infinite a bit more, it seems that this game is going to be, well largely different, as you can see from the below trailer. This got me thinking that maybe this is the way developers are going to have to be heading in the future. Hell I am playing Final Fantasy 13 at the moment and Square Enix have been putting out sequels for years. And with every Final Fantasy game we get new characters, locations and stories, even the combat doesn’t stay exactly the same. It is telling that one of the big mmo launches this year, Final Fantasy, is the 13th sequel.

So I guess in this games saturated, recession suffering times, we can only hope that developers try to create and invent within the set universes, or even go so far as using the same name and entirely different world, as in Bioshock infinite.

Other retail markets have been working off name recognition for years, and it is a little concerning that a big developer/publisher feel that they need to keep the originality1name, even from a high profile team. I imagine that because AAA games now cost so much time and money to produce, that if it doesn’t sell a lot of copies, it won't cover the costs.

I am still force to wonder if over the next 10 –15 years if we are going to get 3-4  more Bioshock “whatever's”. I shouldn’t really complain if the games continue to be good, and other media like movies have been recycling ideas for years, and this doesn’t stop good and interesting films being made. If anything this give the nod to the smaller teams developing for the arcade/pc indie scene, to be the ones that create and push the idea’s out there.

Monday, 23 August 2010

We can’t trust them you know.

world-of-warcraft

hex[8] A long time ago I played World of Warcraft for a few months. I played the original content and picked up the Burning Crusades (so I could play one of those purple alien looking things, a race beginning with a ‘D’ if I remember correctly) anyway, I did not fall in love with the game and after two months of so I left the game, returning only once on a reactivation scroll for 10 days, again it never stuck with me.

email_scam_phisherman

So, you can imagine my surprise over the last few weeks when I receive e-mails from blizzard regarding my account and how I am selling it to another user. I am a pretty paranoid user so I ignored the mails but after receiving more and more I have gone to the Blizzard web site and obtained a contact E-mail address from there. I have then written short e-mail confirming that I have not made any action on my account since changing to a battlenet IT mast march.

The response thanked me for contacting them and then went on to say that people where trying to steal my long dormant account and the e-mails even if clearly showing a blizzard e-mail address could not be trusted. Even if the mails had the names of blizzard employees at the bottom, even if they looked in every way like a blizzard e-mail with nothing strange about them they should not be trusted.

I rubbed my chin and wondered how regular users of the service manage to tell the difference. I am an experienced and paranoid user with more security than some banks (Barclays, I am looking at you!) but even I could not tell the difference between this official e-mail land the spoof one I had received last week.

This makes me worry. If in the future there is a blizzard MMO that I DO want to play can I trust that my credit card details are really safe? Can I play Star Craft 2 without getting my account stolen?

Is it just too much of a risk to try and play blizzard games? I can see that the naughty people who generate these scams target WoW because they have a higher chance of getting a ‘hit’ because most gamers have at some point created a WoW account but this is far too rampant that even Blizzard can not find a way to show you the difference. Pretty soon I will start getting WoW scams by post through my letter box?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The wait is almost over.

 

bree[6]

hex 8th of September. That’s when I will be back in Lord of the Rings Online. we have a date for the re-launch into free to play. its strange how this has rekindled my interest in a game that i left over a year ago. I’m not sure if its my perception of this a fresh start or a just that this has given me an excuse to get back to the game. either way i am looking forwards to logging in and seeing my Lore-masters smiling bearded face.

Strangely I am even planning on re-subscribing on the first of the month to make sure i am VIP from day one. this is very much like all those people who subscribed to the new Sony PS3 pay service to ‘get the free stuff’ i know, borderline silly for 8 days of play.

i can’t help but wonder if LotRO will cost more or less money to play once this transition happens. i have a feeling that for existing characters who already have mounts and gold in the bank that it wont be much difference but for new characters its going to be quite a Cheque that needs writing. never mind. i have a few characters ready to role.

As for the new players that will come to the game, how will this new pricing model effect their early experiences? at what level will they need to get the credit card out? i would hope that they could get to at least level 30 (where most characters really begin to diversify) before they start to feel the need to spend. otherwise we will have allot of players leaving before they fall in love with the experience.

I also wonder if the re-launch will make a substantial splash with the none MMO obsessed masses or will it go unnoticed by many?




Quest Hard #6 'Legend of the Horse Cannon'

 

questhardlogo
No horses were harmed in the making of this episode. we talk in great depth about Age of Empire the MMO-ish version, Bilzzard’s epic lawsuit we also discuss the possible closure of Earth Eternal and how Hex does not care about Duke Nukem forever, there is also yet another tear shed for Spellborn.


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Woot finished the game, reward me with a pointless achievement

fish I was playing Age of Conan and was quite enjoying myself, when I realise that it doesn’t have any achievements, and you know what, that is absolutely fine by me. I have to confess I am not really a fan of achievements (or trophy’s or whatever else they call themselves). Now I am sure a few of you are thinking I am about to go off on one about them ruining game immersion, which they do, but I am not that pretentious (though I am not far off). No my issue isachievement-unlocked that they are pointless and completely unneeded.

There is nothing wrong with having challenges in your game, giving things for players to do. I just don’t see how rewarding a player for completing a game with a completely arbitrary number or trophy is rewarding them at all. The way I see it if you want to reward players for doing something cool in your game, give them an actual proper in game reward.

Now there are already a fair number of developers who agree with me on this, hell even Blizzard are smart enough to agree with me. In WoW if your really put effort into there achievements, you can get rewards like titles, pets and mounts. However Blizzard are still stuck in rut of insisting on tying numbers to achievements. 8217315053581226

Though Blizzard, and Valve with Team Fortress 2 and their many unlockable hats, have shown that even in multiplayer games you can reward players when they reach certain milestones. In single player games I think you can take this even further, Resident Evil 5 has one of my favourite rewards. If you finish the game, it lets you turn on infinite ammo for the next play through, and if you manage to finish the game in less than 5 hours total, you get an infinite ammo rocket launcher. See that is the kind of reward that sounds brilliant. It is completely overpowered and silly, but you have already finished the game once, so it is not like it is ruining if for you. These are the kind of rewards that games should give, not a little pop up box that says “finished the game”.

Half_Life_2_Crowbar_and_Lambda_by_SgtHK Imagine how cool it would be if you could replay Half-life 2 (SPOILER WARNING) after finishing it with the powered-up gravity gun from the end (if you haven’t played Half-life 2, do it now). And with multiplayer games wouldn’t it be much cooler to get a selection of character skins unlocked when you reach a milestone, hell wouldn’t it be cool if people can tell you are a bad ass just by the way you look.

Essentially what i am saying is reward players with cool stuff when they achieve something in your game, and developer shouldn’t just rely on the crappy achievement system to do that, though if you don’t want to put achievements in at all that's cool to. After all a game should stand of fall on it’s own merits.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Sauron gives Arthas the Evil Eye


Fleata LotRO vs Warcraft

Well in my opinion, the game is definitely a significant competitor to World of Warcraft, even more so when it goes free to play. It has that much potential and is graphically astounding to boot, stick it on Ultra High graphics and you’ll be drooling. In all honesty the game of Lord of the Rings Online is for the most part World of Warcraft. For example, mounts, interface, configuration, instances. But this doesn't deter you from trying it out, because the game itself is promising and has an epic story behind it with a veritable feast of characters, story lines to follow, nooks and crannies to find and the all important monsters to fight. Not only that, but the development and content still to be created.

One feature that does strike you as very similar as in World of Warcraft is how WOW2people level in Lord of the Rings, the levelling in this is based on questing, yawn. Don’t get dis-heartened tho. Too often, MMORPGs  base their levelling on killing lots and lots of monsters for your level. While, questing in LotRO is just as important for people to continue further into the game as it is with any other, there are hundreds of quests from each city, but on top of this is the Epic Storyline within the multitude of other quests to do.
It's not just one story tho its broken down, bite-size into many chapters from story we all know, involving the character we all love; I met strider at the Prancing Pony in Bree and Farmer Maggot just across from the Brandywine Bridge..
There's a array of things to do: instances, solo-able missions and normal/ epic missions. Each type are enjoyable and have goals well worth trying for.
Not to mention the rewards you get for complete Deeds, which also give bonus to players.

My favourite in World of Warcraft was doing instances, I’ve not had a chance to do a major 5 man instance in LotRO yet, but I am looking forward to what LotRo has to offer. In LotRO, I have read its very different to World or Warcraft, in that as you proceed thru the instance, you have action and tense moments when you run in trying to complete a complex quest with a party that you have to work well together to succeed, not just about killing bosses and moving on to the next. No co-ordination and you're basically gone. How this really differs to World of Warcraft I have yet to experience.

Breelands
From viewing the map when I was playing in the small bit I have done in Bree-Land it is vast, immense even. It’s not just one huge map that you would look at normally, instead it’s set out from city to land to countries. Honestly, it is the biggest map I've ever seen, I wonder what new features will appear in future to fill up them spaces...
This is just one section of the huge map of middle earth>


The graphics and looks of the game are absolutely amazing. In World of Warcraft, most people recognise the game as too cartoony and this can be said for maybe LotRO too but not from my stand point, the graphics are more akin to Guild Wars than the cartoony World of Warcraft. You get the full detail and realism without seeing any cartoony effect on it but in my opinion, that's fine.

The interface of the game isn't too confusing or hard to get to grips with, it's well laid out and you can customise the skill bars UI scale to fit your needs, and if you have played World of Warcraft again it’s very very similar. And I am told very soon you will be seeing LotRO addons as you would see at Curse.com for World of Warcraft.


LotRO2 The game is heavily concentrated on the original book itself, but that's what makes the game so exciting. Experiencing new challenges and chapters and interacting with the main story characters.
Well, you may think that this game requires you to be a big fan of LOTR. But to me it isn't. Just from this game, you will practically get to know the whole story but in a slower and exciting way of achieving it.

I will be paying for this game in near future for the VIP service when it goes free to play on Sept 10th, just so I can experience the full outcome that it will bring to the MMORPG genre and I know it will be fantastic.

You say Orcs, I say Uruk-Hai, you say Gnomes, I say Hobbits. Until the Big Black Dragon sings.

Fleata
Being in WoW has been great. All the friends and people I've met and talked to, all the guilds I've been in and fun I've had. It’s been a blast. But, again I've cancelled my subscription and may come back to see how they implement Cataclysm.
WOW
After my 10 month or so break; I moved servers and factions to Bronzebeard – Horde and spent some cash to transfer my mains to there, its all fallen apart again after 2 months or so.

Expansion time comes around and the population decreases by 80% and no one wants to raid. Same ol’ same ol. We saw it happen just before WOTLK and its happening again as before, now with CATA. The guild I'm in has decided to temporarily freeze itself and no longer raid, which is a crying shame as it’s a great guild and raids well when they do do raids.


byebyewow
SO for the time being I've turned my MMO attentions so LOTRO, a game I tried a little while ago with the Elf story, which I got bored with in a couple of days. But now I'm trying the Human Lore-Master class and enjoying it a lot more. I guess the patches and re-workings of various quest givers and stables has helped this significantly.


LOTRO1
So with LOTRO triple pack in the bag that’s LORTO + Mines of Moria + Seige of Mirkwood I’m off to catch me a sexy Aragorn.. er.. cough… I mean evil Sauron… cough.. maybe… ooo maybe Legolas.. Decisions, decisions. :) What is a girl to do?
byebyewow1
More to come on first impressions and the first steps on the road to Mordor…