Thursday, 31 March 2011

Single player, multi player muse.



hex (2)As some one with very little time to play good chunks of games i find that MMO’s are perfect for a half hour stint, i can log into just about any MMO and wonder about in a city area or harvest wood or even do a little PvP then log out, some times I log into Multiplayer FPS games because i only have an hour and don;t want to get into any depth with my gaming, this habit has resulted in my ‘missing’ some fairly large single player title…

For instance i have never played Dragon Age (one or two) and fallout has also passed me buy, i have recently decided  to jump a little more into the single player crop, what to start with?

I think Dragon Age is an obvious start and i i will also get back to finishing Every  Tomb Raider game (again for most of them) i wonder however how The Old Republic (that little Star Wars MMO you have have heard of) will stand up to my drop in – drop out habits when it comes out as i get the same vibe off it as i do any other epic RPG, i also wonder if the heavily single player like game style will serve to attract or repulse gamers.

With that said i have noticed a stark parallel between the story sequences that we have seen for the game and the ‘raid’ video’s in some ways it even looks like two very similar but separate games.

Anyway, this was just a musing and i will update you as to how i fair in my quest to ‘regain the love’ for single player titles.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I am a hero, you can tell from the number



fishI had an idea for a mmo that had no character levels, that was inspired by Rift. Now in my opinion Rift is severely let down by its dull quests and lack of narrative. Now I have recently played through Mass Effect 2 again, and in that game there is levelling up but it is ancillary at best. I kept playing because I wanted to know what happens next, not for any other reason.

So my grand scheme for an mmo is to scrap levels, and give skills and stat rewards as part of the narrative story. So you can have a decent length story were you get to play a hero. And when you finally hit the end of this sweeping narrative, you get your final skill upgrades and that is when you hit the endgame.

imagesNow I can understand that people like levels but I am beginning to think they are yet another crutch that mmo’s (and their players) have become far to reliant on. With my plan hopefully people will enjoy the story and not be focussed on their next level. In fact it should give people focus on completing the story. I mean how much more enticing is a new aoe skill for defeating a boss, than an helm that is a little better than the one you are wearing.

I personally think this would be a step in the right direction for mmo’s, especially if the mission’s and writing are creative and interesting (unlike Rift’s). I don’t know if it is just me but I sort of believe that there is something inherently childish about the levelling system, like somehow the bigger the number the larger you digital star-wars-the-old-republic-20090330101854383_640wmanhood is.

I realise this is a pipe dream and all the upcoming mmo’s have stuck firmly to the levelling constraint, but I will cling to a pipe dream. On the plus side it has given me hope for The Old Republic, because if rift had had quest of Bioware’s calibre, I would probably be happily playing Rift right this second.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Should the numbers be known?


hex (2)I’m playing quite a bit of Lord of the Rings Online at the moment, I love the server i am on (EN-RP - Laurelin) but some times i play on the Gilrain or Snowbourn servers, not for very long really just so i can see how busy the starting area’s are in comparison to my server of choice. I do this mostly because player numbers can make or break a gaming experience. imagine if i where playing my server of choice where there was no one to group with but just a single server away was a full and vibrant player community.

Sure, eventually Codemasters would server merge or something else magical and unexplainable to give me a change to find a group but for ages i would play alone.

All this makes me think that maybe server population should be something that we are allowed to monitor as a player base, I know its none of our business but surely a guide to the current activity scaled form one to ten (busy to darn empty) would give us a chance to do a character transfer when needed.

This is one of the reason that i like the current method that newer MMO’s have of letting everyone play on a single server with magical shards and such like that let you skip from one to another to find your buddies. i also wonder if this technology could be retrofitted to older MMO’s after all LotRO now has multiple layers that prevent over population, this works much better than the old Debuff (see image below) even if it did cause some trauma for role players.


So, as players should be be told the status of our beloved server or is it too much information for us? would the result of openness be one really over populated server or an even split? i for one, would love to find out.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The One True Cast – Doing it Alone.


This week Hex Goes it alone for the first time in a very short podcast letting everyone know where we are with the game and the show, asking anyone out there if they want to come in for a few episodes at least or drop a segment into the show so he doesn’t feel so lonely.

The OTC will be back next week in more solid format. Thanks for downloading.

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Monday, 21 March 2011

Yes to love, no to hate


fish[4]_thumb[1]I have been trying to get into playing Rift (i didn't buy it, i won it strangely) and it just isn't sticking in my brain. Now I am not going to talk about Rift, more the odd things you see online in games and on websites. I am talking about the way players feel the need to defend their choice of mmo.

I think we have all been on our favourite mmo and sooner our later someone points out a flaw in it, our more likely compares it to another mmo and we all jump to the defence. Now I have tried a fair number off mmo's and in the case of Rift and LOTRO I couldn't get past their flaws/things I didn't like to enjoy them enough to play large amounts. However I certainly would never insult anyone because they enjoy a polished and fully formed mmo.

By the same account I have been playing a lot of DCUO, and have been enjoying it immensely, but I can totally understand why people wouldn't take to it. I guess maybe I have had some bad experiences but running around in Rift I can't be the only one who had seen the likes of " This game is so much better than WoW, WoW players are morons".

My point is that mmo players should share their passions but all the rampant fanboy rubbish gets mmo players is the appearance of being the most geeky and uptight faction of gaming. Gaming has enough image problems as it is.

So share your mmo loves and the next time you see someone spouting off in a chat channel, do us all a favour and ignore him.

Heroes, villains and GFWL

hexMicrosoft have been making games for about 20 years now, in fact one of the most memorable games from my youth was a Microsoft product, i remember the day that i stuck my windows 95 CD into my CD-ROM (lol… CD’s.. so retro) and was finally brave enough to click the much covenanted ‘browse’ button. when i say the folder marked ‘Hover’ and realised that this was a game, a 3d game in fact i squealed with delight.

splashscreenMicrosoft Hover was a capture the flag game using Hover Crafts and terrible AI opponent's but compared to every other game at the time it actually stood up as something a little different and once i informed my school friends about this find we soon all became addicted to a quality but simple gaming experience that in some way was the foundation for my PC gaming passion.

It had a few things going for it. It was simple to get working (click the executable file, no real installing to speak of) it ran on pretty much anything and it had some simple but entertaining gameplay. in many ways these are the same things people like about Minecraft or those horrible Facebook games (saying that, Dungeon Overlord is the bomb)

skii remember the Microsoft game ‘SkiFree’ being another wonderfully entertaining experience. that one didn’t even have any graphics, it was a collection of icons that you interacted with as you fell with just enough grace to make it look like you where skiing.

I have no ill feeling towards Microsoft, none at all really and i know they have the potential to make games that literally last decades so why do they misunderstand the PC audience so badly? why are they continually trying to milk our wallets and change the way we do things?

We Don’t want Games For Windows Live, we already have Steam and Raptr and a plethora of other social gaming tools that we love. there isn’t even a stand alone application for GFWL, we have to load games to make it work.

Some times we buy games on Steam a service we LOVE and they have to log into GFWL once our game is loaded… that's really stupid. If you want us to use GFWL we want a stand alone client that works properly, instant and pain free login (no down time) and cross platform partying… this is the minimum we want but now there is this video that have been on PC Gamer’s website and Kotaku showing us your vision of PC gaming…

Stupid… so stupid.

We don’t want this, STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THE WAY WE PLAY.  If you can’t be bothered to do the job properly don’t bother at all, I’m sure valve can manage just fine without you

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Charity and Red Noses.

I dressed as a lady for charity.. here’s my proof






i know thats not gaming related but none the less its still something interesting that happened, and i think i got some XP in the form of donations for red nose day Smile

Do we really need GPS in an MMO


fish[4]_thumb[1]Whilst looking for images for my last blog on Google image search (i hope that isn't some sort of blogger secret I have just given away), I spotted lots of images for levelling guides for World of Warcraft. I have been aware of these guides on and off and have never really given them any consideration, however this time they really annoyed me.

I think it  is because I love questing and these guides take what is the best thing about WoW, or indeed most mmos, the questing, and turn it from a game, into a function. If you need a guide to complete/enjoy a game, then the game has failed you. Maybe this is a rather simplistic point of view, but should any game these days imagesreally require a guide of any kind. Hell I don't know about you but it is rare that I even look at a manual (not like when I was young and you pretty much had to read it).

I know that there will always people who want to rush ahead, because that think the good stuff is in the end game. However I believe that if you don't enjoy the world and the levelling, then go play/do something more fun.

Ok rant over, what do you think? Am I right or am I just being a little naive about the nature of mmo's.

NB If you are following a guide, then you might as well just play the below.


Friday, 18 March 2011

Quest Hard Podcast – Schedule?


The Quest Hard Podcast is the official Podcast of the Quest Hard Blog ( HexDSL and his faithful companion Mr Fish (aka Hangman) discuss MMO (Mostly) and general gaming news of the last few weeks (since our last show to be honest) and we give our honest thoughts on the state of the Gaming world with a mostly PC bias view point.

this week we talk Rift, LotRO, some news about games that maybe aimed at perverts (see Milo) as well as our love of Prey (woot! prey 2) our distrust of the Transformers MMO (some thoughts about the BGS MMO) and how the think that no one cares that Fin Fan servers are line for obvious reasons.

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

It is not likely I will go back into the cold



fish[4]_thumb[1]As a recent Wow quitter (for the second time), I was talking with my lovely other half the Lady Fleata, who has also quit wow (for the fourth time I believe). We got talking as to what Blizzard would have to do to make us come back.

Interestingly the answer we both came up with was largely monetary. The were aspects of the game we both still liked, however we where no longer willing to pay on a monthly basis  for a game that seems to have essentially become a graphical interface for the dungeon finder. I think even if they took active steps to reduce the dungeon grind, I don't think I would be enticed back, because as far as I could tell all there was DungeonFinderScreenafter the dungeon grind, was raid grind.

Now in an ideal world (of warcraft) Blizzard would make the game free to play and we could occasionally pop on and say hello. Hell even some sort of lifetime subscription might be tempting, however I assume that Blizzard/Activison are making way too much money for that.

So that side is there anything else Blizzard could do to bring me back into the fold. Just one thing springs to mind, new content by the shed load. I am talking new quests, new dailies, new activities, new dungeons and new areas to explore. And I am talking about month in, month out. Blizzard make more than enough money to put 200 people on new content alone.  Is that being unfair? Well frankly I don't care, it is Blizzard that lost a subscriber, not me losing a game.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

I think you would have to get up very early to beat the Dawn



fish[4]_thumb[1]Anybody who has listened to our podcast (shame on you if you haven't), will know that I am quite a big fan of Dawn of War 2, of which I have just finished  the first sequal, Chaos Rising (yes I know I am behind with the times). I thought perhaps I should offer thoughts on why I like Dawn of War games.

You see I recently played a Starcraft 2 trial, of which I was very impressed with and disappointed with at the same time. The reason for this is that Blizzard seem to have500x_starcraft_ii_2 taken the same rts they made 10 years ago, and have simply tweaked and polished the hell out of it. So Starcraft, much like Warcraft, is essentially unchanged, and all that has been amended and changed is more a matter of balancing, tweaking and fixing than any real innovation (bear in mine I have only played a few hours).

Now the first Dawn of War game was a fairly traditional, if very good, rts, so it was a pretty big risk for Relic (and their publishers THQ) for them to maker big changes to the sequel. However a big change is what they made. They made it a tactical squad based game, and then put in talent trees to unlock abilities and loot drops. What they, in my opinion very successfully, did was blend together a traditional rts with the loot drops from diablo and rpg aspects. At the same time they cut out the base building and resource management the is the usual bread and  butter of rts's.

109150starcraft2Now I get that some people like the base /resource gathering malarkey, but I guess this goes back to my recent, unofficial, podcast, it feels a lot like grinding to me. Even my other favourite rts, supreme commander 2, is wise enough to cut out a lot of the usual resource collecting rubbish. So when I played Starcraft 2 I couldn't help but be disappointed when I had to set up engineers (space peons) to collect crystals (space gold) and carry it back to my space base (erm base). So that would be unchanged in 10 years then?

Starcraft is a hugely popular game and is very polished, however I haven't been enticed to buy it, having played a fair amount of Warcraft 3, there doesn't seem any point. I would much rather play a game were I can get straight into the action, which Dawn of War lets me do without making me jump through hoops (or to be negative,  grind stuff), but still allows me to make choices that affects my game.
dow2 2009-06-06 11-56-33-76


hexToday an old Friend (one Mr Colin Brown) posted a link to a news report about Japan’s current problems on Face book, i was glad i was not the only person that was thinking about the people in Japan but I didn’t click the Like button because it sends the wrong message, i commented though.

I’m a gamer, a wana’ be writer, a farther and a husband among countless other identities that people and society place on me I am above all else a member of the tribe we call humanity. As a human my thought are with those in Japan and I am deeply frustrated that I can not help in any way.

As a Gamer and an 80’s geek I am continually told that when bad things happen Superman or Batman or even Gordon Freeman will be there help out and make things better but this is no comic book this is real life and something terrible has happened (earthquake) then more happened (Tsunami) then even more (nuclear reactor problems) and as I sat at work today I kept checking the news wanting to see something better some glimpse of good news for the Japanese people but none came and now, the rest of the world will come together and send a aid but still I sit at home like everyone else I know wishing that more could be done.

I’m not sure i have a point but this was a disaster and it was so far away for most of us but we all care and we will give to the aid charity's and talk about this for some time but we are powerless to help in any real way and this saddens me. But in the end we care and that’s all we can do.

Why did i write this post? because i couldn’t do anything else, I’m sorry Japan and i wish i could do something.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

29 hours later And still Rifting.


hexAccording to Raptr’s rather weak stat tracking (X-fires is much better) i have played 29hours of the new MMO Rift. As i never played in beta this is all since the head start. So, I’m Level 18, I have earned my PvP ‘Soul’ and have just changed my subscription to three monthly, not because i am confident that i will want to commit for this length of time but because if in 20 something days i am still playing i don’t want to have missed out on the founders pricing. 

as it is, Rift is a rock solid monster smooth game. its had by far the smoothest launch i have ever heard of. there is literally NOTHING wrong with this game, and apparently there IS end game content already. I’m no fan boy as my heart still belongs to LotRO but damn, this is the first MMO i have ever known to be finished BEFORE its launched.


The only gripe people are having is the server login queues, I’m sure however that Trion aren’t upset about this as they have literally too many customers. the queues are not as bad as the fist few days but still i wait about 15 minuets to log in if i want to play at ‘peak’ times’ an irritation but hardly a deal breaker.

2011-03-02_00003The community so far is quiet but helpful, no one has randomly asked for a duel or spammed the word ‘n00b’ into chat and because of the public grouping system its rare that i find myself alone when i really need the help.

All in all its a quality release i am however puzzled as to why the more professional MMO news agencies have not covered this how they covered the foul up launches like AoC and others, in an industry where there are rarely success stories i find it strange that they still insist on promoting failure's and ignoring happy gamers.

2011-03-02_00012In the end its still down to Rift’s story to make me pay for that 3 month subscription as the game play is still excellent, if it does then for the first time in my MMO playing career i will be subscribing to two games at the same time. something i said i would never do. 


(Click any picture in this post for full size view)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Quest Hard Podcast– A Rambling Fish.


This week on Quest hard we have a portion of a conversation between HexDSL and Hangman (AKA Mr Fish) , its important to be aware that Mr Fish had no idea that he was being recorded so the cast is both raw and unstructured but honest thoughts about MMO’s and his reasons for quitting WoW and not playing Rift.

its a change compared to our usual style and not a new format just a one off. but i do hope that you enjoy it (feedback very welcome)

You can get us as usual on the Blog where you will find ALL out contact details.

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I Marvel at what DC have done with their Universe


fish[4]_thumb[1]So I, like so many people  do when they quit WoW,  have jumped ship to another mmo straight away. Instead of going for the current flavour of the month, Rift, I decided that DC Universe Online was far more enticing.

I have always been a fairly big comic fan, though I don't buy as many as I used to, and I have always had a fondness for the DC world. Having recently tried Champions Online again and still found it lacking (though certainly better than the first time I tried it), the thought of running around Gotham and Metropolis was very exciting.

So does it hold up my hopes, especially as I certainly seem to be remarkably unforgiving 2011-03-05_00003to pretty much every mmo I have played lately. I think for DCUO what really separates it from the pack is its combat. It is the first, though probably not the last, of what you could call an action mmo. While you do have skills you activate by pressing number keys (6 abilities at any one time), that is only half the combat. The other half is activated by mouse clicks, for example left click to melee attack, right click to shoot. It takes this idea  further by activating special moves with mouse button combinations. In the case of my character tapping right mouse, then holding right mouse button down sees him dive backwards firing both pistols, john woo style. Now maybe I am just shallow but this mechanic makes combat a hell of a lot more fun, and even if there are missions to go take out 10 mobs (which they are) combat is so fast, fluid and  fun it doesn't really matter.

2011-03-05_00002As far as the world is concerned it seems to be made up of the two cities, Gotham and Metropolis and a base to act as a hub (the JLA watchtower for the heroes), and a bunch of instances areas. The cities are large, good looking and fit into the DC mythos very well, heh, it took a few hours to realise that, brilliantly, it is always dark in Gotham and always sunny in Metropolis.

So far the quests haver made good use of DC's rich history, as I have teamed up with Nightwing and Batwoman, rescued Supergirl and defeated Bane, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn and Doctor Psycho. Each series of quests seem to end in an instanced area which leads to a big fight with the villain in question, which are varied and fun. This also gives 2011-03-05_00001each play session a very natural conclusion. On one particular note the voice acting, of which there is a lot, seems uniformly excellent, as you quite often have bats and supes talking directly to your character.

I have only got to level 15 so far but have enjoyed all of it. There seems to be a great deal to do in this game, but none of it seems to be essential. It appears to be a game that doesn't want  to rush you and I love that. It also appears to be a game that has not included anything the isn’t fun, there is no crafting, no auction house and even getting about is fun with the travel powers. Will I like it long term? I dunno but I do know there is a lot to do in this world and I am having a ball.