Saturday, 30 October 2010

I am a good guy, because the pointer says so

good-and-evil

fishChoices, we all like choices, especially when we are playing a game that lets us make decisions about the path the story takes. I have recently been playing Red Dead Redemption and have been loving it. But it has one annoyance that it, and a good many games where you play a role have. I am taking about the bar that tells you how good or evil you are, or in Red Dead’s case how infamous or honourable you are.

 

Now I certainly don’t object to being given choices to make between a good, the bad and maybe even the morally vague option. What I do object to is that when I choose to help someone, instead of  screwing them over, I get a bit nice pop up that tells me I am a nice guy and the marker on the good guy scale moves up.  I really don’t need any kind of meter to tell how much of a good guy (or indeed asshole) I am being. I am capable of making my own moral choices. This system is also inherently flawed because usually you can make up for doing one horrifically evil thing, by doing lots of little good things.wwwtotalvideogamescom_68236_infamous

 

Some games take this even further by rewarding the player for being particularly good or bad, Infamous being a prime example as there are powers you only get access to if you are really good or bad. Now I would much preferred to have to guess what NPC’s thought of me via there reactions and the way they deal with me. That's another thing that also makes no sense in a lot of these games, you do something bad, and nobody catches you doing it. But miraculously people know that it was you that blew up the kitten orphanage. Also the whole idea, as in Infamous and Fable, that you actually change appearance the more evil decisions you make is ridiculous. You never see on the news a picture of a murderer and he has horns.

dragon-age-originI suppose developers are still learning regarding the moral compasses and how best to use it. Dragon Age had a decent idea, in that you could guess are how good or bad you were being by which party NPC’s liked and disliked your choices. Though it then ruined it by giving each NPC a scale bar showing you exactly how liked you were.

I guess what I am saying is that in real life you don’t get a boost to your morality scale when you do a marathon for charity, or indeed it doesn’t go down if you stick up a convenience store. And if nobody’s knows about either then their treatment of you won’t change. I realise I am asking a lot from my games, but these are worlds I love and I want them to be perfect.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

LotRO EU Preview. Now with added waiting.

 

bree[6]

hexThe F2P patch is AWESOME everything works GREAT and I really like ALL of the UI improvements, yes, even the store. It adds a new level of flexibility for players with deep pockets, and for those with smaller pockets just ignore it.

The preview event is great and i cant wait for it to go onto the live servers, i would experience more of it but.. .damn those queues.

Capture

seriously… 408 minutes. seriously… i have to admit i do see the funny site. at the moment everyone is trying to test the game on one server and then it goes live (soon we hope) it will be on many servers and VIP’s will be queue jumping.

I do however feel very sorry for anyone who logs onto the game when it launches and sees queues like this.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Monday, 25 October 2010

LotRO F2P EU– WOOT!

f2p

hexThat’s right, it looks like we may see some LotRO f2p in Europe by the end of the week. the preview event starts today. TODAY, that’s right, I’m downloading the client now, then i can play straight away. strangely the even is only going to last until Wednesday, so assuming at all goes well there’s a reasonable chance we will see it go live on Monday (possibly even Thursday, ah optimism) 

All the information is HERE on the forum including a link to the client. be aware though you need to check your Codemasters Online gaming account se see if you’ll be able to log in. your looking for LotRO to appear twice, the second on is the F2P preview client. (see below)

 Capture

Also the preview client is a whole entire download of the game. That’s over 13 gig for a three day preview event. but to make up for a massive and almost pointless download you do get 500 points to spend when the game goes live.

See you all in the preview server Winking smile

Monday morning Global Agenda

3951143570_20b4eccd3f

hexI have two weeks off work, this is good. so today at half past seven i awoke (a little later than my alarm usually goes off)  and i Tumble outta bed And stumble to the kitchen Pour myself a cup of ambition Yawnin', stretchin', try to come to life Jump in the shower And the blood starts pumpin' (yes that was a Dolly Parton quote)

I then sat at my desk, my wife and daughter still sleeping soundly. I loaded Global agenda for the first time in an age to find it was broken and i some how i was missing a DLL file (physxcudart_20.dll) so after hunting that down i finally loaded into the game to find that there is also a new kiosk style loader for the game (as shown below) I’m not sure what use it really is but it makes the game feel a little more mature and more like what you usually find in an MMO (i know its a pointless thing but its kind of traditional.

Capture

You can click that image for a larger view.

As for the game, once i was in there where very few people in my district. I walked over to the Transport tubes to see that of the districts there was only a total of about 90 people playing over 6 instances. i know that this is probably not fantastically accurate as it wont count people in matches and those in the new desert area but its not allot of people.

The population aside the game seems much smoother than it did last time i logged in the load times are much better and there where no random crashes at all.

I could not however find a PvP match i queued for an age no nothing happened. maybe 8AM on a Monday is not the best time to PvP but nothing at all was a shock.

So, off to the desert i travelled (well, walked down a corridor to the exit) and was impressed to find that again there was very little loading, the desert feels much more alive now as the mob placement is much more natural as well as less robots which is nice.

Also the crafting and weapon modification system now makes sense, you just use the crafting station to add the upgrades. last time i logged in this just didn’t work at all

I’ll have to play for a little more but it seams that the game is slowly moving back in the right direction and the fun seams to be coming back.

I think i can see myself spending a few more hours in GA.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Organic marketing and greedy gamers.

Capture (3)

hexLadies and gentlemen, I have a dream. I dream of a day when some one will crate a pricing model that will work, a crazy dream that we can consume our entertainment in a more organic way that does not require us to give a crap about the developer because its no longer an issue we need worry about! let me digress and talk about other forms of communication and entertainment.

Telephone companies all have different prices and payments and networks and handsets but I can use my home telephone (A land line in the UK) and call a mobile telephone in Beijing or use my mobile phone to text a friend in Russia (I have no friends in these places but I am trying to make a point) so how the companies make money from connecting to different companies or devices does not cross my mind. I pay my bill and my phone works. I don’t even pay allot for it. its a fair price for the most part.

televisionThen there is television, I do not watch allot of television but i have one, and i have one of those DVB ‘Freeview’ Recorders that are popular over here in England and i use it to record the occasional programme that i am interested in or an entire season of south park as its shown then i can sit down and watch it at my leisure skipping any commercials as i go, this is not illegal, its a perfectly fine thing to do, granted those advertisers are getting ignored but its just not my problem. I pay my TV licence fee every year and buy the right to expect reasonable quality entertainment whenever i want it.

Now for the enigma or radio, I turn it on, i turn it off, i listen for traffic announcements in my car i pay pretty much nothing for it and often ignore it in favour of CD’s. how do they get funding? i just don’t care.

DVD-Video_bottom-sideThe Movie industry. I do not go to the cinema allot because i think its expensive but the movie industry has found a way to get my money or at least offer me its work as I can buy DVD’s of movies a few months old for literally £3 at Asda (Wal-Mart) if a movie is released on DVD and i really want it i can grab it for about £9 if i shop around.

Every industry has this more organic approach to its prices even the music industry is catching up by supporting digital purchasing and services like Spotify are bringing on demand music to a larger number of people for a better price than years gone by.

With all this in mind i can not see why as gamers we are constantly reminded by developers and publishers that it costs allot to make a game. shy should we care? it takes allot of money to make a movie but the cost of production is rarely more than a foot note in movie magazines. with games, especially MMO’s we are constantly reminded that people need our money. with item shops and subscriptions and the huge price of new release titles we can not avoid the plea from all involved to be aware of their need for our shiny coins.

I do not think that the games industry is charging too much in the traditional sense but i think they hare struggling to find a more organic way of charging us. at the moment they are using social proofing to make us want cosmetic items in item stores, the idea being that lots of people have a cool hat so we will want a cool hat too. and it works for the most part but we are still aware that we are shelling out cash for this stuff where are when i buy a movie i am aware that i want the movie while the cost is a footnote in my mind because of the way its marketed, organically. you see the cost of the movie is to advertised the movie is and when i want to see it i may stop and think that the cinema ticket is too much but when i see it in a store i want the movie and i get the movie. there are options open to me.

now, I’ll stop digressing and get back to my point. A new game comes out, i am aware of the £30 I need to spend, i am happy to spend that but they i have to give the game my credit card info so i can keep playing after the included 30 days is up, they don't wait 30 days to ask for it, i have to give it to them when i install the game. then at some point in my first month (and this is happening more and more) i will be shown an item shop where i can buy things, its not even subtly pointed to its opened and shown to me most the time.

while all this is happening there are constantly reports an articles on the web about the games financial success or failure and if its not looking good, if people don’t spend enough they may close the game forever so spend spend spend! but what if i spend too little and the game does close? all the money i DID spend will be lost for ever so i don’t want to spend any more.

Capture (2)This is stupid! I should not be this aware of the financial side of my entertainment. My point, and i have worked hard to make it a perfect hit is that its irrelevant how much we pay for any for of entertainment as long as we can pay it and forget about it, it its more than we want to pay there should be simple compromises and then no more worry. even the BBC understand this and have made totally free video games that granted are not fantastic but we are not once asked to wonder how they make money on this.

in my opinion this is the key to getting more people to play video games, make is cheaper and make it more friendly when it comes to any financial decision. do force people to part with credit card numbers and spam a price tag with every fun advertisement. just advertise your product and make it good.

DRMI could talk for hours about how the constant advertisements of xbox live (a service you already pay for) literally drove me away from the platform and how game piracy is a symptom of a sick industry that makes it more convenient to have a ‘fixed’ torrent than the hassle of making your legitimate version work properly but for now ill just leave it here. I do not pirate games, if they make silly DRM or over charge ill just not play it but i totally understand people who do get their games this way, on some level it makes sense.

Please don’t respond to this with explanations of how TV shows make money or how radio broadcasters charge because i do know this and that's not really my point. i want to know why as gamers we have to be so aware of the cost all the time and are asked to care so much about other people pirating that we get punished with harsh DRM. is it advertising errors on the developers part or the nature of us hard core gamers?

That just isn’t funny

 

you-not-funny

fishAs those of you who listen to our podcast will know, I have recently finished Deathspank. Deathspank is a cracking little game, which distinguishes itself by being genuinely laugh out loud funny. And it occurred to me for a media that is pretty much entirely about having fun, how little humour there actually is in games in general.

I mean when you look at other media like TV and films, they take comedy so muchdeathspank_boxart_wide more seriously. Whereas comedy games make up a pretty small section of the games made, with pretty much just Tell Tale games consistently funny games.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think that every game we play should constantly have jokes in them, however TV and film learnt a long time ago that humour can be used in even the most serious dramas to good effect. After all it is human nature to make light of the most dangerous and complex situations.

126_qjpreviewthI think this particularly applies to mmo’s, where even the more light hearted of the mmo’s, like WoW for instance, have the odd amusing item but nothing outright funny. Humm maybe that is one of the reasons I like Age of Conan, in the conversational quests there is usually an option to be an ass, which can be fairly funny, though far from laugh out loud.

I guess it must be pretty difficult to write an entire game that is consistently funny. Hell an entire sitcom series is only 7 or 8 hours of jokes, which is not that much really, considering that a full game (for instance a Tell Tale game like Monkey Island) is closer to 12 or 13 hours.

I guess what I am saying is that a fun thing like a game should try and be fun inTales_of_Monkey_Island_Logo every aspect and that a bit of humour can work well in pretty much every situation. I can see this improving as more and more games are using proper writers, and I have already seen small aspects of humour in games like God of War 3 and Bad Company 2. Is it too much to ask for a game that puts a smile on my face?

MakeMeLaugh

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Motivational of the week

 

Motivator

I actually made this one, it sums up the current vibe in my life at least.




Friday, 22 October 2010

I wanna be a hero

 

herosjourneyMarkSchwimmerMythoself

fishIf you have listened to our most recent podcast you will know that us bloggers have been playing Guild Wars. Now I have a fair amount of affection for Guild Wars, but it is not what you call a proper mmo, more a co-op role play game (really not a criticisms, as I still get have fun with my friends, a pretty important part of a mmo). However there is something that guild wars does, which is better than most mmo’s out there.

Okay if you read the title you have probably figured it out my point. Guild Wars guildwars logodoes a good job of making you feel like the hero, with it’s mission structure, where you even get cut scenes with your party in (if you are party leader you even get a talking part).  Now most mmos, at best, make you feel that you are a small part of a big world, but never the hero. The reason being that even if you are given an epic quest to kill ten rats (for instance) it is difficult to feel epic, when some other player is also killing the same rats.

So Guild Wars manages to make you feel like the hero way more that proper mmo’s, but to the detriment of a lot of features you take for granted in “proper” mmo’s. warhammer-online-age-of-reckoning-chaos-256x256Something like Warhammer Online deliberately goes the other way by making you feel like a small part of a war, which works well, and other games just provide you a game world and quests and don’t go out of the way to make you feel a hero. For instance in my mmo of choice Age of Conan, in which I am constantly doing heroic things, it never feels like the world hinges on my actions.

Maybe this is why i have always had a fondness of single player games. Pure wish fulfilment I guess, but I can be the super spy, the ultimate soldier and the sweeping general, and I can save the world (or occasionally destroy it). I would love to say I have a solution to this little problem but I don’t. I know in Guild Wars 2 your actions are supposed to have a more of an effect of the world, but you are still one player in many.

I suppose it is to much to hope for a game where i can run around saving the world and being the hero, but doing with with my friends at the same time. Sigh one can but dream.

Guild Wars and the sharpened pencil.

guildwarsbardcopy

hexI have again been playing Guild Wars with some little buddy’s I like to call ‘Team Quest Hard’ (they don’t like it when I call them that. I say it in my finest movie voice). Some thought about the game have popped into my head recently. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t play allot any more or because my gaming habits are more diverse than when I started originally but i will try and articulate my thoughts using words of the finest quality.

Guild Was is not an MMO, I only realised this the other day. The best way i can describe it is as a single player game that you can play with as many mates as you want to. That sounds strange but i have played guild wars alone with AI team mates and with full groups of friends and honestly its a great game and either way its lots of fun.

In my opinion guild wars is an anomaly in the gaming world. its a Co-op Role play game with persistent characters, not an MMO, not a single player game, not a traditional single player game as you have a group but its not squad based.

with all this in mine here are three reasons you should love Guild Wars, even all these years later…..

Its epic – I know that sounds like a fan-boy thing to say in every way you can think of i agree with you but its worth saying anyway. Everything about guild wars is EPIC with caps lock turned on, totally.

User_Ariel_Theius_Guild_Wars

Look at this picture (left) its epic, every character is epic, the way they are standing is epic. the game is epic! – Okay fan-boy moment over. the game is epic thought, you are the hero, the key to everything and through 4 entire story arch’s you get to be just as important and as you play thought you meet characters, real ones with personality and voices (thank you regular cut scenes) the plot makes you feel, well, epic.

How many MMO’s are there that actually make you feel like this? in LotRO you get to be a little person in the story of larger people and in WoW, well no one i know can tell me the plot to that game in less than a million words (that make little sense) but in guild wars i am he chosen one (depending on campaign) and hand picked by the gods to be the one to change the world (three times at least anyway)

Environment – again, this is a bias and fan driven post but the world crafted in guild wars has a read feel to it, granted I'm thinking ‘epic’ but the game does show you things that make you stop and just look at for a moment.

 Desktop Wallpaper · Gallery · Games  Guild WarsIn Prophecies we see lush  jungles and ice planes and desert wastelands, that’s every variation that we can think of when we have to list different places.

In Factions we see an urban maze and an eastern land of adventure that we imagine in legends. a little later in the game we see this magical forest that;s filled with strange wonders.

In Nightfall we see a swash buckling land of possibility and the struggles of a nation at war. as the game progresses we see an almost pre-historic desert with huge stones and planes of water with occasionally breaks for oasis’s. we even venture into a plane of torment where its dark and sinister in ways we never before imagined.

The unexpected  - the first time i played the game i was forever seeing unforgettable sights and talking to new NPC’s who want to give me quests of push me to the core plot of the game but then when ‘Eye of the North’ came out we met something new. the Asuran race. and the game took a new spin, with portals (star gates, i don’t care what they say, those are star gates) we get to see our would of fantasy take a sci-fi twist in a very subtle manor

Vekk_Guild_Wars_Hero_by_Think_Creative

Vekk was just one of these new people that we meet. he uses magical energy to power robots and in so many subtle ways the story of the Asuran is woven through him. we know they are an old and xenophobic race, its even hinted that they come from another plane of existence (possibly even aliens).

The point is here that Guild Wars is a twist it has so many strange and wonderful twists and turns that the unexpected in visual aspects, story and character depth is astounding.

One last thing – Guild Wars two will be out relatively soon and with lore as well thought out as it is in this game allot of the lore is going to be subtly built into it. so if you have never played guild wars but want guild wars 2 its worth playing it even just a little bit as a taste of things to come.

so, stop reading and go play it NOW.




Thursday, 21 October 2010

Minecraft Down?

mineCapture

hexAs you know, I am a pretty big Minecraft fan, so imagine my upset last night when the website was down. Because Minecraft’s multiplayer is accessed through the website (Mostly), the lack of website was something of a downer.

Notch (the Minecraft creator/developer/publisher) has posted this message on his blog

DDoS stands for “Distributed Denial of Service”. Denial of Service means you occupy certain resources for a long period of time, making other people not able to use them. A real world example would be running up to the cashier at a super market and paying in small coins, counting every single one really slowly, then finding out at the end you didn’t have enough in the first place.

The “Distributed” means it’s done from a lot of places at the same time, so it’s much harder to simply deny access to the clients that do that. Usually this is done via computers infected with trojans, so people participate in this without even knowing they’re doing it.

As to why minecraft.net is being targeted, I’m not sure.

While the guys hosting my server are looking into things, I’ll get back to coding.

The moral of this story is that if something is very good and lots of people like it, some muppet will ruin it.

anyway its all working now, i just thought i would share.




* raises arms to the sky* IT’S A SIGN!!!!

Fleata

A sign from the Gods I tell you…



Just got a twitters
LOTRO_Europe LOTRO-EU
The Lord of the Rings Online™ Europe Preview Event!http://bit.ly/coyY5E
LOTRO
Come and join in the European Preview Event for The Lord of the Rings Online Free-to-Play! If you'd like to participate, you can sign up at our Preview Sign-up page.
The preview event will start on Monday the 25th of October. Stress tests and events will be organized on the dedicated server of the preview event, in order to prepare the F2P version for all EU servers shortly thereafter.
The more players we will have to test the new content and F2P, the quicker our tests will be completed and we can then apply the F2P model on all our EU servers.
Don’t be shy and come sign-up!

Spread the word and maybe we can save LotRO EU




Raptr Forum Signature

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Calm Before The Cataclysm

Fleata

OO… Can I wait?



wow-cataclysm-logoAs Dec the 7th approaches, I’m getting more and more anxious. I was a HUGE WoW player, as I’ve said in blog posts of past, but I’ve been free of my WoW addiction for many months now. I’ve held off logging in and done well so far and have played many other games, some MMO’s some not. I’ve done my best not to think about WoW and have survived oooo about 12 months all in all with a small 3 day blip earlier in the year without logging in.

But, as Cata’s release date got announced and the 4.01 patch dropped, I’ve been getting the urge; the itch if you will and by goddess it needs scratching. I was hoping LOtRO might satisfy my WoW addiction, but as HexDSL and I have both said Codies have done an extremely good job of utterly destroying the LotRO EU servers and as I bought a LTA on LotRO i have no wish to move to the US servers. (I won’t say any more, it makes me too angry).

So I find myself looking again towards WoW and remembering the good ol’ times, mainly TBC (oh those times in Karazhan, how I miss you) as WOTLK wasn’t a scratch on TBC. I’m hoping that Cata can bring back some of those things that made TBC so fun and well.. hard. As many WoWers have lamented in the past WOTLK was EASY, too easy by far and well along with the lack of new content and the ease and speed you went thru the content that was released it was well boring and got boring fast.
lifecycle
I relented last week and downloaded the 4.01 patch, which essentially is all the changes bar the world and quest modifications. So all the class changes, spec/ build and glyph changes I think. patch notes are available at the usual website. I was however surprised at the speed of which it downloaded using the WoW downloader which is usually horrendously slow. It did well under 2 hours I think all in all for a 5.5Gb patch.
So now as LotRO in the UK is as dead as a doornail and Guild Wars 2 still…. heck 6 months away at best? I’m finding resisting the subscription to WoW harder to resist.

I have been playing Guild Wars 1 again and really finding it lacking compared to WoW. I know, I know HexDSL blasphemy, I know, but it lacks something for me that only WoW can satisfy. I got rather disillusioned with WoW before I stopped subbing for many reasons and that’s what I keep reminding myself of each time I feel like going back.

I found myself browsing the net for the cheapest I could get Cata for today and found it very difficult not to press the preorder button. Oh.. Jackofallgames have it for £16.99 cheapest I found.
In the end I resisted and bought an Apad from Amazon Instead.



I will try and hold out till Dec7th and buy it when its released and not before. I know I’ve definitely changed as a gamer and I do enjoy playing a range of games now, whereas before I was a dedicated WoW player and nothing else. I guess I’m just a little apprehensive that I might get back to that stage of 24/7 WoW obsessiveness. World of Warsmack isn’t just a smartass Tabloid Headline and know one knows that better than I. mmorpg-addict
I can’t help going YEY! every time I see and advert or Kotaku/ PC gamer post and get all excited about it. I watched the official trailer that was released yesterday and it looks AWESOME! I know I will buy it, its a given, how much will I get into it or not, has yet to be seen. You might say if its that bad stay away from it, and you probably would be right.

My name is Fleata and I’m a WoWaholic. You can take the person out of the MMORPG, but can you take the MMORPG out of the person?

Raptr Forum Signature

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Quest Hard Podcast – Accidental Guild Wars Episode.

QuestHardHello one and all to the slightly later than planned Quest Hard for this week (month, apparently). on this fun packed episode we talk allot about Guild Wars (by accident strangely) we also talk LotRO, AoC and Minecraft. if you want to know more then download and hit the play button because I’m not transcribing it.

Get that awesome MP3 – click HERE (or right click and save it)

Visit us over at: http://www.QuestHard.com
Our RSS is here:http://feeds.feedburner.com/QuestHard
Hex Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Hexdsl
Fish on Twitter: http://twitter.com/hangmansj0e

FEEBACK WANTED. Come visit our website… Please.