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HB Draug's blog

1:12 AM on 08.15.2009

Unfounded concerns over Bioware's Star Wars MMO

Star Wars: The Old Republic.

So the-powers-at-be have finally brought about another trip into Star Wars universe via the MMO route. Or have they?

Though this may have quelled a portion of the sundry voices that have salivated over the potential of another good Star Wars MMO following Galaxies (pre-holocron), I have yet to be moved.

It is not that I am particularly concerned with Bioware's aptitude in churning out another amazing gaming experience, it is more or less the fact that I am not convinced it is wholly a MMO. It sure as hell doesn't look like one. I am all about individual story driven experience, and though I know it can be done with depth whilst entwining multiple PCs(See: D&D), it seems a tad silly to be designing a MMO overly centered around it. I can hear the potential smugness behind my own comment, so let me elaborate.

Good MMO's have a hefty balance of player based interaction and options for individual playgrounds. A lot of your playing experience in these environments is tailored in respects to social interactions and events that randomly take place– this should be especially true and expected in a game that's going to be faction conflicts.

Star Wars: Galaxies held such promise in this department, yet it devolved into utter shit due to ineptitude to keep it afloat. To simplify the matter: the user based content and economy far outweighed what the devs where pumping into their extremely buggy game. Consequently, it folded like a house of cards as they crippled the economy by introducing a Jedi-grind. Imagine dangling a delicious carrot in front of the player, obtainable usually after non-scenically ruining your character by grinding a bunch of unwanted skill sets. The simultaneous influx of everybody abandoning their well-established roles within the world, sapped people's will to play. In an almost completely player driven world, it makes the sting exponentially larger and it spelled death for SWG.

It is amazing to me that after all these years... Given how buggy as hell the game really was, how unintuitive it was to a MMO newbie, and the complete lack of quest driven goals to speak of– it should be baffling that I constantly run into conversations pronouncing its "profound awesomeness". But this isn't the case. The community is what made the game.

I hold no inkling that The Old Republic will be anything like Star Wars: Galaxies. I would hope that it wasn't. The trailers just do not meet my expectations of what I was hoping. Something along the lines of Warhammer Online in terms of faction based pvp and combat, but without all the balancing and large-scale pvp issues.

It is also a bit dangerous that they have yet to reveal a Jedi or Sith class, yet they clearly have shown these as playable via videos. I am of the mind that they're going to make the mistake of having Jedi's and Sith be off on their own level– that they're going to further divide the factions into The Sith Empire, The Sith Order, The Jedi Order and The Galactic Republic. I cringe at this thought; the inevitable mistake of putting emphasis on certain classes– making them more meaningful/powerful.

Here's hoping Bioware doesn't make just another mission-based single player experience with a multiplayer hub attached. Screw a damn companion system. I want real players, not everyone tagging along with AI buddies and plowing through instances endeavors– what is this, Guild Wars?

Here's hoping that the "revolutionary" take on fully voicing their game doesn't get monotonous or hinder enjoyment in anyway.

Here's hoping that another opportunity to implement thriving rivalry and constant warfare in a faction based game isn't squandered away by developmental mishaps.

Regardless, I'm sure Bioware knows what they're doing– and I will wait with overt anticipation for the panels to reveal details at PAX that wish wash away all my doubts.   read

7:56 PM on 08.06.2009

Rambling Discourse @ Overt Gamers

I don't know how you do it.. with your fancy t-shirt and colorful hats advertising this game and that console. It's bat-shit crazy and I commend you on your bravery.

Seriously though, is anyone else embarrassed by signifying themselves as a gamer professionally? I'm not talking about donning some game-related garb to high school.

I sat in my resplendent summer college course, my mind slowly being chipped away at a rehashed lecture. The person sitting beside me leaned in, squinting at my laptop's screen, and inquired, "Is that DoTA?" ( )

Well, no it wasn't. It was Heroes of Newerth– a Defense of The Ancients clone made possible by the good old folks behind the Savage series, S2 Gaming (shameless plug #2).

But I literally blanched; I hadn't realized anyone had been watching me browse screenshots, reading up in preparation for some game time coming my way that evening. A conversation sprung, undulated into a lengthy discussion about games past and present. Fairly enjoyable, I will admit, but at first I had been flustered. My initial reaction was to slam my notebook shut and raspberry, like any self-respecting wanker. I felt robbed of my secrecy. I had been exposed, but it wasn't like I was looking at porn. Well, actually... maybe it was– in some ways.

But now that I think about it, I have been relatively surreptitious about my fondness of video games. Why? Is it a fear of association with those who frequently don gaming garb or have tattooed sleeves decorated with the Triforce, companion cube or a squashed goomba or two?

If it is, that's strange as spend most of my time in the company of good friends who ARE those people. I cannot be THAT ashamed of my heritage– I play D&D god damn it. Every Saturday night I am clack-clacking some dice in hopes of natural 20's, or I am *gasp* DMing it up. That shit has become an abhorrent practice within this culture– people disrespect the great, old RPG grandfather. The table top concept of having a character and "leveling that bitch up" has fallen under the going too far category for surprisingly quite a bit of people. The vast majority of my gaming cohorts ridicule the hell out of me, without even attempting a game.

(Which by the way– there is probably a surmise right about now that I am overweight, covered ache grease, utterly socially inept and wear full-framed black glasses. Well, you got me on one:

I am totally socially inept when I have a face full of delicious apple.)

Curious.. Generating a search for "What does a D&D player looks like" brought up:

But back to the question at hand: How overt is the average twenty-something gamer of their lifestyle?

I find myself rarely ever talking about the fact that I play games when I'm at college, yet I'll be the first to admit a distinct fascination with comics and fantasy novels. In hindsight, this is probably a terrible, terrible mistake. Kind of the opposite of what you would want to do.

I just cannot help but feel that although gaming has been on the rise in popularity, some of the wrong aspects of things are getting the lime-light while other things are falling behind. To say I feel degraded when I strike a conversation with the average, casual gamer my age is a bit harsh... but when I slide in a reference to gaming and get a guttural, belligerent report about Call of Duty 4 or something about the Halo series, I cannot help but cringe.

Oh C'thulhu, what in the hell am I even babbling about? I'm guessing that certifies me as a miserable cock. But this is why PAX and conventions are so awesome to me, I don't have to hide shit.   read

10:34 AM on 08.06.2009

Calamitous Anticipations: PAX to the forefront!

It is almost that time of year again. Time for me to trim out a good two days of the first week of my fall semester, board a flight to Seattle, and enjoy the festivities of gaming geekdom with a twist of bonding and princess bondage:

Ahhh... PAX. In my mind, not only do you represent the culmination of all that is right about my beloved gaming lifestyle– you do it with certain finesse. If PAX was a person, I'd let them be the big spoon. And we would spoon naked.

Where else can my compatriots and I sample the delectable delicacies not fit for mortal eyes?

Or sample copious amounts of hell-forged Top Pot donuts, all whilst looking perfectly intellectual?

For those who have no notion what PAX is or have no inkling of coming out this yet, I implore you to come.

Last year was my first and the experience was a blast. I had the opportunity to meet several members of a close-knit sect of people I've played side by side(virtually) with for over half-a-decade. It was a pleasant experience to say the least. The panels and exhibitions were fantastic. There was free swag pretty much for all. The simplicity and no-nonsensical bullshit make it easily one of the best expos I have ever been to. Trust me– they've declared that PAX is a celebration more than anything... it is rightfully so. Three days of bliss, in which there is always something to do (concerts, tournies, freeplay, naked boogaloo dancing), located snugly in the downtown area of one of the most beautiful and cleanest major cities I've ever had the fortune of passing through.

I can only hope next year's East Coast PAX is equally as clean-cut and successful as its counterpart, as it'll be less taxing on my wallet.

P.S.: My only gripe was the incessant BO produced by some of the more 'hardcore' attendees. Please remember to shower before attending PAX. I sometimes get carried away in my midnight gaming forays as well, but let us not make others suffer.   read

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