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6:39 PM on 06.04.2012

E3: Ubisoft the Keeper of Secrets!

So first day of E3 is almost done, and after a bunch of "meh" moments and with Sony next on the line up, I doubt anything can top off Ubisoft's press conference today.

We have seen Microsoft's attempt to jump into the fray with Apple and Nintendo with more connectivity between devices (which sounds a bit streamlined and anti-homebrew to be honest) with an awesome Tomb raider trailer and gameplay demonstration. EA's major surprise was the announcement of UFC, which they managed to snag off THQ after a very disappointing attempt to compete with MMA (trust me I worked as QA for it lol), but otherwise very predictable (still got giddy with SimCity though).

Then came Ubisoft.

First off: No Mr.Caffeine! Yey! Instead we had to deal with the failed banter of Tobuscus and Aisha Tyler, which would have worked much better without Tobuscus to be honest but hey, we're here for the games.

Second: We got to see the first actual gameplay example of the Wii U with Rayman Legends, and it looks pretty awesome! The player controlling the tablet takes control of a fairy-like creature which interacts with the environment and helps setup combat combos, while the other players dish it out with the Wii-motes.
Up to 5 players can join the fun and it seems to really work as a game, and it's always nice to see a 2D platformer take the main stage like that.

But what really made it look awesome was the second level they previewed where the players ran frantically through the level while the tablet controller played some sort of beat game on the environment, unlocking extra glowy thingies (I can never remember the name for the "fairy coins" in Rayman lol) and dishing out damage to baddies as the players run along to the finish.

Third: Assassin's Creed 3.... WOW! The game looks gorgeous, from the environment, to the combat animations. The snow effect really caught my attention as the player moves slower depending on the thickness of the snow and has to move to higher ground to catch some speed. But through the gameplay we got to see a ton of new moves and jaw dropping cinematic kills which looked incredible and very fluid. They also confirmed that the game will span a total of 30 years... 30! That is HUGE! I was expecting this to be the beginning of Connor's trilogy but it seems it will go through the span of his whole life...

Still, Assassin's Creed 3 was the BEST gameplay demonstration so far at E3 and it will be extremely hard to top off.

And last but not least: WATCH DOGS!!! How the HELL did they keep this a secret?? Out of the blue and to finish it off, Ubisoft presents us with a fresh and new IP that looks like a crossover between GTA and the Hackers movie from back in the day (think low tech Matrix for those of you born in the 90's). It starts off with a short intro of how everyone leaves a massive digital footprint, that basically puts up everyones darkest secrets up into the open.

The gameplay showed off the protagonist using what seemed like a next gen mobile to hack through other mobiles, block communications and even identify people he walked by, revealing dirty secrets at the same time, and finally even setting all the street lights to green to cause a major collision. A gun fight ensued where we got a small demonstration of what seems like bullet time and cover mechanics which ran pretty smoothly. But another shocker... as the main protagonist captures his mark, the game suddenly moves on to ANOTHER playable character and it seems like the story will be shifting through a whole team of super hackers with questionable motives!

Seriously.. how did none of this leak out before the conference! I've seen and read people moaning about how there would be no surprises this year due to leaks... but Ubisoft proved us all wrong. I can't wait for this to release!

Farcry 3 was also show cased, but looked pretty standard, apart from being able to use random tigers as weapons (not a big shooter fan here so...) and Shootmania looked pretty meh... but still.

Assassin's Creed 3 and Watch Dogs! Ubisoft stole the show!   read


7:17 AM on 06.04.2012

Nintendo welcomes the hand drawn P*nis



Having recently watched Nintendo's pre-E3 presentation, I have to admit their social integration of games has gotten me quite excited. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it is a huge innovation as it has been done before, even Xbox has a full Facebook integration app (which doesn't work extremely well) and PS posts achievements on your timeline (spammy but works).

It's just nice to see Nintendo striding away from its cryptic and useless buddy code system and even creating their own platform and not jumping on to the Facebook train. It also seems to be very well categorized, by grouping players into different layers and stages of communication, not only differentiating them by game played, but also at different stages of the game and even providing general forums on which to discuss issues more in depth.

Having worked as a Community Coordinator and Social Media specialist, this aspect is very exciting for me as it opens new doors to social implementation and communication to and between players, I mean imagine being able to program specific events for a game and just posting a note before the level where it takes effect, or even warning of specific bugs and issues.

But also this makes huge red alarm bells start to ring...

When they first showed off the ability to hand-draw your responses, all I could picture in my mind were hand drawn p*nises... I mean let's face it, most of the population doesn't take the most politically correct and mature approach when directly socializing with strangers in game (yes Xbox Live... I'm looking at you). Sure, the general notion is that those filthy mouthed spammers are just twelve-year-olds trying to sound cool (which sadly is false most of the time), but what will happen when this occurs in a console that is generally perceived as aimed to younger segments of the population?

Nintendo has always worked that extra mile (sometimes extra 200 miles) to make sure that all their games are free of any sexual or over the top incorrect references (even by having specialists on double entendres test their games) and that was mainly the reason for their "buddy code system" on their consoles, to make sure that no offensive and unwanted information would reach minors.

So what is going to happen when Nintendo opens the flood gates and gives players the ability to hand draw offensive material? How strict will moderation be and what consequences will breaking the rules have? And most of all, is Nintendo prepared and ready to handle this in all languages and stages of the game?

I am still looking forward to see how well the system works for myself, but I have a nagging feeling this is going to get awkward real soon.   read


10:02 AM on 04.07.2012

Pirate Librarians: the unintentional role of online piracy.

Lately we've seen a plethora of sites that used to share/stream videos and various archives, go down or be shut down by the infamous S.O.P.A - P.I.P.A - A.C.T.A conglomerate. I'm not going to get into politics or strike up a banner for piracy, as that is subject to everyone's personal opinion and it's not what this blog is about.

I'm more concerned about the "unintentional" role these acts of piracy have come to fulfil in modern society, which I like to call "Pirate Librarians".



Since the dawn of history, humanity has taken upon itself to collect and preserve all forms of visual expression for future generations, such as books, paintings and films, so as to pass on previous acquired knowledge or prominent artistic expressions for future generations to learn from and enjoy. These actions were more prominent (and I'd like to say easy) when these goods were tangible and also more limited in quantity.

However we have now entered the age of the digital archives and the internet, which not only has increased by a thousand fold the amount and availability of visual content, but has also greatly decreased its longevity, as they all tend to disappear into memory (and availability) in the span of years or even months. From a personal point of view, who among us cannot say that they have uploaded some sort of content to a server or webpage which no longer exists?

But this is not only affecting the digital world, as it also affects books, movies and even our beloved videogames, as thousands of titles seem to disappear when they no longer seem profitable as they are no longer made available by their creators. Just try and find a working copy nowadays of Zork or the Simpsons beat'em up arcade through conventional methods and you will find yourself chasing after one holy grail and another to no avail.

Some might say "but I'm sure somebody has a copy of Zork stashed in their attic somewhere". I won't say they don't, but unfortunately, all those precious stashes of floppy disk games will no longer work, as the information was magnetically recorded, and that over time becomes unreadable as the strength of those magnetic fields dissipates.

So how do future generations gain access to those videogame gems? Thanks to roms and torrents mainly.

What online piracy has unintentionally done over time is gather an immense amount of visual content (again books, videos and videogames) and repeatedly made them available through various means and sources to the general public once more, becoming the unintentional librarians of the digital age.

How many libraries have copies of the great video game classics available to the public? I personally yet have to see one. And how will future historians be able to access the plethora of information shared and posted over the internet in the future? Unless they find a super server that somehow has an undegradable information storage unit I find that highly unlikely. They will be more prone to believe we all had super powers as the only tangible remains of our era will be those mint condition laminated comics stashed in someone's basement.

Until some sort of official service or group picks up the role of cataloguing and storing all this information for future generations, it will fall to online piracy to keep storing our virtual relics and making them available to the general public.   read


9:20 AM on 04.22.2010

The death of the "Arcade" gaming concept: Enter the gaming experience!

I just recently saw an interview Peter Molyneaux (Creator of Black and White and Fable among others) at IGN talking about some of the features that will be released in the upcoming Fable 3. A lot is going to change from previous instalments as the company has set itself a goal of reaching 500,000 copies sold, so it will have to target a much broader audience, moving from it's classic RPG setting to a more action adventure kind of feel. But that's not the point of this blog entry. What struck me was the use of the term "Arcade" game mechanics. That single concept has made me review the history of gaming in a whole different manner.

Let's back up to the birth of video games. Arcades (in all their different genres and forms) are truly the first video games to come into existence. But what is the true concept behind the arcades? A similarly repetitive form that increases in difficulty through a progression of levels. I mean think of your childhood, playing whatever arcade game you can think of. The whole emphasis of the game was to make it past all the different levels of difficulty, repeating time after time the same levels over and over till you finally managed to beat the game. The whole game was based on a continuous repetition of the same concept with slight variations and you'd have to rely on your reflexes, memory and skill to finish the game. This is what I would consider the core "Arcade" concept. For a more ideal setting let's just say we're talking of Space Invaders type game when we refer to the "Arcade" concept (low graphics, high repetition).

Slowly as the years passed the games have started to move further and further away from this basic "Arcade" concept to a more "gaming experience" orientated type of game (as in the feel of the game itself, the feeling and experience you have while playing a game). The graphics improved, more combinations of movements where introduced (or character skills) which made the game more engaging and enjoyful, improving the gaming experience users had while playing the game. Then suddenly the "credits" concept was torn away from the "Arcade" concept. Ok fine in the REAL Arcades (machine in a bar or arcade) they still existed since it was the way they made money out of it, but in the consoles it suddenly became obsolete. You could continue an indefinite number of times and some of the whole level repetition was removed. We suddenly started seeing concepts like saving a game, which were borrowed from the PC games (mostly graphical adventures) and where now a applied to console games. A lot of classic elements rapidly became obsolete such as High Scores and most games started introducing more and more complex story lines to go along with the levels to improve the "gaming experience". And suddenly a revolutionary concept hits the market: The Simulators. Levels and "Arcade" concepts are all thrown out and the game is fully based on the players' personal "gaming experience": they don't get points, don't pass levels, they just enjoy the ride.

The concept of "gaming experience" and enjoying the ride has slowly crept over to all forms of gaming, especially with the use of open worlds and sandbox concepts. Who can say they never just rode around Hyrule on Epona in "Ocarina of Time" just for the sheer joy of it? (yeah ok anybody who never played it, but if you haven't you should!) The general public has also opened up to gaming thanks to this, and proof of it is the smashing success of "The Sims" franchise. The game developers have seen it and since money moves the market all games have slowly evolved to a more "gaming experience" based philosophy with more or less success (Star Wars Galaxies anyone?). The rule now was not to make more detailed and intricate games with a gazillion options, but a more simplified and intuitive way of gaming that instead of challenging you takes you more for a ride.

In a natural way the gaming community divided itself into two opposed factions: The Hardcore gamers and the Casual gamers. The Hardcore gamers are more "Arcade" based: they enjoy games with a higher degree of repetition where they can hone their skills and deeper and more intricate layers of details which they have to slowly delve into to understand fully. The Casual gamers are more "gaming experience" oriented: they revel more in the graphical and submersion elements, enjoy the ride more and look for an entertaining experience instead of sitting down in front of a game trying to crack it down. (By these definitions I'm merely trying to introduce concepts and mean no ill to any of the factions per say.) But none of them are better gamers than others, they simply look for something different.

Take WoW for example. Hardcore gamers in WoW are Raiders, PvPers and even Power Levers. They enjoy the more "Arcade" aspects of the game: repetitive actions which allow them to hone their solo and group skills to achieve the "end game" aspects of the game, they aim to beat the game as in the old arcades. The vast majority of the rest of the game is more for Casual players (again not saying this in a negative way): it let's you explore environments, develop characters, meet other people and has more attainable and frequent milestones.

A lot of friction has appeared amongst the factions simply for an incorrect branding in my opinion. It would seem that the hardcore gamers are more dedicated and higher in the gaming hierarchy than the casual gamers just for the name. But this would be incorrect, as it is simply that they each choose to experience different parts of the game.... after all it IS simply a game.

But I digress... Games are evolving more into the " casual" and "gaming experience" end of the stick. But this is not just because the game distributors are money grubbing loving bastards (even if they are :P) but because it's the natural evolution of gaming. Remember the utopia at the end of the 80's and beginning of the 90's about the whole 3-D goggles thing with alternate realities? Well it's still here! What does that have to do with arcades and levels? The whole function of games is to pull us away from reality so we can relax and flee from our complicated lives for a while, and of course that need is going to push video games to a more immersive and virtual reality, a better "gaming experience". Sure there will still be a place for "Arcade" gamers, but even hardcore games are getting more intuitive with time (when was the last time you HAD to read the instructions before you started playing?).

Maybe it's just me but the whole idea of the "Arcade" concept becoming slowly obsolete both has me disturbed and excited about what things will come in the future. I mean rumours have it that Blizzard will be pulling out it's current raiding system from WoW which is it's core "Arcade" aspect, so what will the future have in store for us? Bioware's highly anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic is mainly based around story and narrative which is essentially part of the "gaming experience" concept. "Arcade" and "Gaming Experience" are not incompatible but we've seen full core "Arcade" games.... What will full core "Gaming Experience" games be like?   read


6:54 PM on 10.20.2009

New comic strip!



11:16 PM on 11.29.2008

Help keep Gaxonline.com alive!



From a gamer's community to another I bring a plea of help. Gaxonline.com has been an active gamer's community for a few years now, much like Dtoid but not as successful. It all started thaks to Gary Gannon, co-host of the now seemingly podfaded MOG podcast along with Ryan Verniere, and it offers the most common tools like blogging utilities (more user friendly than the Dtoid ones imho), a main news page with highlights from the most important gamer blogs out there, a chat window, forum, buddy system and what you'd except to find.

But since Mog podfaded it seems to be falling appart and with the releases of the various MMO expansions it seems to be dieing slowly. So I call out to you famed bloggers and all those that just wish to be heard to lend us a hand and help reactivate gaxonline.com even if it's just by reposting your blogs there or simply leaving your comments on the current blogs. You really have nothing to loose, it's ad free and you'll be able to access a greater audience. Plus your blog will remain on the main page longer since we don't have such an avalanche of posts as in Dtoid at the moment.

So give us a hand and come checkout gaxonline.com. You'll access a bigger audience and maybe make some friends in the process. Our doors are always open to newcomers!   read


10:36 PM on 11.25.2008

Gay Love L4D Style!

[embed]112732:16048[/embed]
I lol'd. Better yet I rofl'd!   read


9:56 AM on 11.19.2008

Back to the Ebayer: Hardcore Idiocy.


One day later and we're back with another LOTRO based blog, almost a diary now. Today we're going to be dwelling in a day full of cooking and unimaginable levels of stupidity.

So yesterday we left Joco sleeping confortably sleeping in his new house and dreaming of a picnic table full of food and a keg full of beer. Little did I know it was soon to become a nightmare. I didn't get to play much today since I had an appointment with the doctor, but I've covered more distance today than I did in the last 2 days (physical distance that is). They day started off pretty simple though, I left my home and went off to start crafting my picnic table. I checked the pies I needed and I noticed I needed a tier 4 skill one, so I had to complete my crafting quest. So I get on my pony and travel to Buckland. I chat to a little hobbit and I get my tier 4 skill level, he also gives me another quest to gain access to the superior oven. I accept it but decide to skip it for now since I basically need to run around the shire cooking stuff for people in every single inn. I check my list, see I don't need the superior oven to cook any pies, and run off back to the crafting area in Michel Delving to make my pies. I make the pies, notice I'm missing some mushrooms so I jump on to my farmer alt, grow a few, send the to Joco, and the pies are done. So I run back home, mix the pies with my picnic table and bench and Voila! I have a picnic table full of food in my front lawn. Pity I can't eat any of the food in the table cause it looks tasty.

After a while of admiring my new furniture I set off on my quest to craft my own Keg of Shire Brew. Here is where I prove what a brainless idiot I am. I had thought of postponing this for a few days since after calculating the price of the new recipees I needed both for myself and my farmer alt the price had risen over 200 silver, but after checking my mail and cashing in my sales from yesterday my wallet was now bulging with 800 silver so I decided to give it a go. First step is getting the hops and barely I need from my farmer, so I mail him 200 silver and switch to my alt. My alt runs to the superior farming fields (he's a master in his craft at lvl 7), buys the necessary recipees which cost around 120 silver and start growing crops. The hops one goes fine, first crop gives me a 2 fine bushels which give me more hops than I needed, so I buy ingredients for 1 field of barely and I start planting.... field one is a dud... I run back for ingredients, second field is a dud... I run back for ingredients, third field is a dud.... long story short I had to plant 6 fields for a miserable fine bushel of winter barley. So I run back to the mail, send one letter with the hops, and another with the barely and remaining 70s I had left. I skip back to Joco and dun dun duuuun... I only get the hops one. What the hell? Who the hell did I send the barely and cash to? I check back with the alt incase I sent it to him out of habit but his is empty. Fuck... I really need to start paying attention. I then realize I might have sent it to Joko (don't know who it is but it's how I normally spell it, changed it for RP reasons), so I write an apologetic letter asking for the contents back, even though I know that if that character exists I can kiss the cash goodbye. So after another 7 crops of barely (not 1, not 3, but yes 7, 13 crops in total to get my barely) I remail the barely typing my name letter by letter this time, and relog back to Joco.

Back in my main's shoes I open the mailbox, grab the barley with relief and run to the crafting area. I buy the ingredients to make the treated hops and mashed barely and press the create button. Nothing happens. I push it again. Nothing happens. And suddenly I notice a small red writing that reads "Requires Superior Oven". Damn, where will I find a superior oven? Well esteldin has superior workbenches and expert vendors so they're bound to have one there. So I grab a swift ride to bree and stop to buy some crafted yew which I needed for the keg. I stop by the crafting area (which is the best place to get resources at low prices) and there's only one guy there... wierd. So I ask "can you make crafted yew?" "Yeah" "How much for 2?" "1g" "you're kidding right?" "No" and he walks off... What the... 1 gold for 2 measly yews? I bet the AH has a better priced yew for sure. So I run off to the AH and buy 8 of them for 25 silver. I send a tell back to the guy and tell him "Just got 8 for 25s you should check your prices better." "I was making a joke" .... Some people are fucking hilarious... (not). After recovering from a hard session of not laughing my ass off I trot down to the stables and grab a swift ride to Esteldin for 35s (pricey as hell if you ask me) and go inside the crafting hall I find the oven, open my craft tab and press the button. Nothing happens, and I notice that the red writing is still there, so I sheepishly look up and see the letters hovering above the oven that state clear as day "OVEN". It's just a regular oven.... I just wasted 36 silver to get to a regular ov... *click* my brain suddenly turns and I remember that I haven't done the quest to access superior ovens yet! What the hell is wrong with me ?!?! And who's the wise guy who snuck into my room last night and gave me a full lobotomy while I slept? Cause that's the only rational explanation I can find for my stupidity today....

Soon enough i find myself running around every tavern in the shire and grabbing all the requests those lazy stupid hobbitses can't cook for themselves. Just before hitting the last pub I get a request for a kinsman who needs help with a couple of lowbie group quests and I figure out that it will do me good to give a helping hand to release that pent up rage that's bubbling and waiting to be released. So after a while and a bunch of orcs and bandits dead later I sit down calmly and start to carefully plan all the stuff I need to cook to avoid further mistakes. All quests considered this is the list I produced:

3 Pork Sausages
2 Vegetable Medleys
2 Salted beef delights
2 Shire rations
4 Marinated chicken cutlets
3 Spiced potatoes
1 Mushroom pie
3 Stuffed Cabbages
1 Spiced Apple pie
3 Complete hobbit breakfasts
2 Blueberry Muffins

Oh god... this is gonna take a while... *sigh* I make a cross reference list with all the ingredients I'll need (won't post it so I won't scare you) but I needed a total of 81 ingredients which included quite a bit of farming. Suddenly I look at the hour and notice it's 9:30. Oh crap the servers go down in half an hour for the Mines of Moria update! Fuck! I stumble for my port to Michel Delving button, run to a mailbox, send him 50s and I jump to my alt. On Jungo (my alt) I grab the cash and run as fast as his little legs will carry him to the fields and starts planting as fast and carefully as I can, double checking the ingredients list as I go, and manage to get all the ingredients I need in just under 20 mins (18 to be exact). I run back to the mail box, post all the ingredients to Joco (double checking I spell it with a C instead of a K every time). And jump back to my main. My heart is pounding like crazy and I have a feeling I'm not gonna make it. I grab everything and start running to the crafting area. As I go up the hill I notice something unnerving with the corner of my eyer. I look above the oven and with big huge letters I read "SUPERIOR OVEN". What?? You gotta be kidding me... I've been cooking for the past hours in a superior oven?? Idiot! Idiot! Id.. NO! No time for feeling stupid! I must bake as fast as the wind! Kung Fu style! I start baking and suddenly my button stops working again... "Requires Camp Fire" ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHH!!!! I finish the stuff I can bake there and start running towards the camp fire in Waymeet. Cook you brainless git! Cook! I check the time... 5 mins left. No time! No time! Last piece of cooking is done, 2 mins left. I start hoping my watch is running slow, I get on my mount and head for the first tavern. My heart is beating like crazy, I know it's stupid and sad but I love it when I get into things like that. Hit the tavern, throw the food at the hobbits face, quest complete, What? No exp? You ungrateful son of a... no time, No time! I run for the second pub and I have 1 min left. Suddenly the watch hits 10 pm... nothing happens... Maybe my watch is running slow WHAM! Big Orange letters appear "We are sorry but we will have to shut down the servers in approximatley 60 mins at 10:00 pm GMT. Servers will be available at 8:00 am GMT". I stop in my tracks in shock. Either I had a heart attack or my heart server just rebooted.... YOU BLARING IDIOT!! It was fucking GMT! You live in GMT+1!! Remember? No... of course you don't. A retarded mule with forks stuck in it's eyes would have a larger reasoning capacity than you. God I felt like a retard...

I resume my pace more calmly after accepting my postion as an ebayer and now recently discovered complete and utter retard, and deliver all my cooked goodies to slefish hobbits who don't deserve them... And after that I go back to the hobbit that started it all in Buckland. I get 1200exp for all my troubles.... pffff stingy little midget. Oh well at least I can use the superior oven now... Yeah the superior oven I thought was in esteldin but actually turned out to be the one I'd been using for the past 2 hours... Idiot... I go back sulking and make the finish touches to my Keg. I make a second one for my neighbour as a thank you gift for the Tundra Bear trophy she gave me yesterday (yes! I confirmed it's a she!) and who coincidentaly celebrated her 10 year wedding anniversary (and she's married to another officer in the guild who I spent all last night calling a she... irony?). So I head to my house with the idea in my head that if it turns out to be a just a stupid barrel in the middle of my room like the icon shows I'm actually going to blow my fucking brains out. In the end we have a happy ending. It's a proper Keg and all, sideways and with a pedestal, and to make things better I can get drunk with it! Yey! So it cheer myself up a bit, I get drunk with it a bit first (I've only managed to reach light headed state so far... I'll have to be more persistant tomorrow) and head off to the furniture shop to get myself a Tree, a dresser, a bookshelf, a sound track for my house, paint for the walls, and a haystack and wheelbarrow for the front lawn. Well the house looks a tad more decent now, I might have to pick up fishing just to hang something on the walls.

The orange letters boom throughout the server announcing we just have 30 mins left, so I port to Bree cause apparently there's a server shutdown party goin on in the statue, and yeah the place was packed! Here's a couple of screenies. First pretty non floaty names:
<p style="text-align: left;"><img src="http://api.ning.com/files/zpgulH5xg453bKoZLTLBtaaPt-t5OKVhJi1nE7BekWPz9DLLVVefo*VH2VwX0AuKKVjIZAIDwxBO1BxMrK9mZV5v9IfDN0Vr/ScreenShot00002.jpg" alt="" width="1152" height="864"/></p>

And second with floaty names, so you can understand the magnitude better:
<p style="text-align: left;"><img src="http://api.ning.com/files/zpgulH5xg44p9USlFSiKZd16*rlM0VdUB8qkgPbZOUyip96qSf9rp293YHhokjXLEkU3VaQgmg1Ml6CcXr*7SOC7MY3Qc4zD/ScreenShot00003.jpg" alt="" width="1152" height="864"/></p>

And tomorrow Mines of Moria hits Europe! I have the impression that Game isn't going to deliver (literally) and I'll have to spend the day sending angry emails. I wonder if I'll even get my preorder codes... *sigh*

But all in all... wierd day today, it could have been good if my idiocy hadn't interfered with it. But I got my keg! Bring on the party!   read


8:25 PM on 11.18.2008

Why W.A.R fails...


Well I finally cancelled my subscription to W.A.R. And it pains me to do so...The game had so much to offer and yet it delivered poorly in my opinion. Don't get me wrong. The game is incredibly stable, well designed, the classes are very well balanced and it has a lot to offer. Yet I feel the problem is how content is organized and made accessible to the general public, and the absence of a community in the game.

First let's have a look at what the game's main appeal is. The huge open PvP areas, castle and city sieges, which seem to call to massive online battles where you need to cooperate with other guilds to crush the forces of your opposing realm. That's what I payed to see and experience. Yet what do I get? Scenario grinding... Scenarios are good once in a while, since they offer the chance of battling against a balanced foe and don't last too long (god bless the timer). But after a while all you seem to do is scenarios and to top it off the same one, time after time. It gets so tedious. And the sad thing is that a lot of them have great game play mechanics, like the tier 1 scenario of the elves where the control points explode. That is probably one of my favourite ones. But what do scenarios end up doing? They simply negate the possibility of jumping into an RvR zone and finding constant ongoing control battles which would be much more appealing in my opinion.

Another problem is that the game lacks a sense of community. I don't really understand why though, it might be the lack of any official forums, even though the unofficial forums (war alliance for example) seem to act as official hubs. But this is a very serious problem for a game based in team efforts. On one side how can they expect to rally large armies into the RvR zones when all you seem to find are pugs ingame, and very few of them since most people just seem to spend the day grinding scenarios. The problem with a pug based community is that all classes in this game are designed to function in party, their roles are fixed and they need a balanced group around them to actually be able to shine. My main character for example in the game was a tank, and doing pug scenarios was incredibly frustrating. I found myself praying to actually land a group where the healer wasn't trying to act as a DPS class, since without a healer covering my back all I did was act as very quick meat shield till I got nuked a couple of times by an RDPS class. The only way of getting out of this situation was to find a well organized guild that did premades often, and you could say goodbye to that option if you weren't in the 31-40 lvl zone. The only viable pug class I found were actually the ranged DPS classes, as you could just sit in the back and nuke everything that moved, trying to gain as much exp and rep as possible. Not even healers were a viable class, as most classes were just too involved in trying to farm their own personal kills, so no one would think about looking back and defending the classes that kept you alive, hence the healers would end up going DPS and just healing themselves. This also reflects how deeply the "rock paper scissor" system is embedded into the archetype system. Classes are just too unflexible, even with the mastery system and even though each class has a different mechanic, it all falls down in the end in a "war of the archetype", each archetype would have it's main nemesis which you would have to steer clear of while you hunted down the archetype you were built to counter.

The PvE would also be hindered by this lack of community as even the party friendly PQ areas would be found barren most of the time. This could also be due to the fact of people favoring the alternative of grinding the easily marked solo quests. At first I really enjoyed the fact that you could basically solo any quest that didn't involve a PQ, but now I realize the flaw of the system. On one hand I think that having quests that make you stop in your tracks and start looking for other people around you to play with as a team would in the end enhance the game's community, at the cost of some time of maybe waiting around for a group. But once the group is made you'd have a chance to interact with other people, play your role in a team, and make connections. And the other side of the coin would be the easily marked quests. Again I was a fan of this system back in beta since you didn't have to think where you needed to move next as it was clearly stated in your map. But in the end this makes questing feel even more monotonous and hinders the exploration aspect of the game. Having such a large number of tome unlocks linked to exploration doesn't seem to have the desired motivational effects, and the game the way it's designed actually makes you choose between questing and moving or actually moving away from your designated objective areas just to find an unlock.

The loot system also seems to be broken and this affects the economy of the game, which still is non existant. Gear is just too easy to find in this game, and I found myself just slapping on any random gear I would find and moving on, not giving what stats I wanted a thought even, and if my gear was starting to get sloppy and I didn't get any through drops I wouldn't worry as I would always get a piece as a reward from a quest every 2 or 3 levels. Plus the epics and sets didn't offer that much a boost compared to the regular gear so I never found myself compelled to go to my nearest Auction House and see what they had to offer. And the crafting systems are just not worth the effort you put into them. Trying to maintain the best balance possible amongst classes, all the craft system has to offer are a set of small buffs which don't offer much of a difference overall. And if you also add that the filters in the AH for crafting materials have still not been implemented, the fact of leveling up your skill is not a gratifying experience enough to actually spend time with them, and they don't offer a significant bonus enough for them to be profitable. Anyways the only thing you need cash for in this game is for your mount (who's price is easy enough achieved just through regular leveling) and maybe to hold a keep for your guild, which doesn't seem to offer a big enough bonus to be worth the expense.

It hurts and stings me to admit that W.A.R is just not a great game, but it has loads of potential. It looks great and if you look at the big picture it seems like an awesome game that can take over the MMO market as there are not any mmos out there which blend PvP and PvE in endgame so skillfuly, yet the difference is in the small details which need a lot more polishing in this game for it to be worth my while.I trust mythic will be able to turn the tables in the upcoming months and I do not doubt I will return to give it another go, but the game "as is" is just not for me.   read


8:21 PM on 11.18.2008

Return of the Ebayer: Enter the nemesis! (Improv night)


Ok day 2 of my return to the world of LOTRO. Seems like a nice break from all that "frenchie not first" talk goin on, so heeere we go!

Well day 2 was a bit of a rollercoaster, most of it was on the upside but I found me new nemesis on the server and I thought I wouldn't find it till the third day at least! The day started pretty well, logged in at Esteldin, and went of to fight some hillmen, and I'll admit I got massacred quite a few times cause I just wouldn't take off the dps buff when I got stuck with 3 mobs. But oh well I've always been a tad suicidal when I know I can get healed, even when I'm the one doing the healing... Soon I was called in by a kinsman who wanted to go Troll bashin' and that seemed like a decent thing to do at the time. I ended up having a blast since we partied up with a crazy dwarf who never went out of character and was fucking hilarious. Pity I have such a shitty memory and can't credit his name cause he deserves it man. The funniest part would be when we all went to give in the quests at an elf camp nearby and they just kept on dishing out quests sending us to the same exact place to kill some more trolls, and he would let out a crazy manical laugh. Troll blood was about to be spilled again and he was definately enjoying it. We ended up killing around 120 trolls and then decided to give it a rest. So we all part our ways and I figure it's time for some RP at the prancing pony.

ENTER THE NEMESIS! Ok so I probably made a mountain out of a grain of sand with this but what can I say... the bitch pissed me off. So I enter the prancing pony and find a group of three of the race of men (trying not to say humans here lol) looking at the fire as if it were a TV (seriously why do so many people just stare into the fire in this game?) So I try to pull off the same routine as yesterday and try to score a few free beers since I still can't afford a whole stack, so I go in with my trademark "An ale for a tale" and a female named Carmelita (nice RP name btw) turns round and asks me in the thickest RP accent I've ever read (seriously really REALLY hard to understand, there were so many apostrophes between words I had to read it twice to understand it, can't imitate) "You're that guy that tells funny tales right? Make me laugh and I'll give you some beers". That really bolstered my morale "Wow the word is goin round cool" I thought, so I pulled out my notes and started on the drunken dwarves routine. But what do I get in the end? Half way through the tale they start to fucking snub me with emotes! They start yawning, emoting that they stare into the fire not even caring what the hobbit is saying, more shit. Seriously... how hard is to just SAY that "Hey dude we're not enjoying the tale, get lost." I can take that better than the snob attitude. So I stop the tale and ask "I'm sorry, am I boring you?" and the bitch starts saying to her friends with her slurry incomprehensible accent "Do you think I should pay the little git to shut up?" and they just keep on talking as if I weren't there talking the shit out of me. Man I was seriously pissed off but before I started spewing crap out of all my holes this guy came up said to calm down, he'd enjoyed the tale and he'd give me some ale. We got to talking and did a bit of RP and I managed to calm down. So after a while of surreal RPing with a mute elf that just sat on our table and bought us drinks all nite, I went out and did some auctioning checked my mail and ended up with 450s in my pocket, oh well at least not all was lost. Still I jotted some lines down to never forget my nemesis:

This is the tale of Carmelita the snob,
A burglar by trade that could bore a doorknob,
Some people are born with a tongue sharp and fit,
Yet when her mouth opens less words flow than spit.
Don't get me wrong, she was a burglar extraodinaire!
Steal the room clean of it and end full of hot air!
But her weapon of trade was not the most feared,
for she'd let out a yawn,
at noon or at dawn,
And the cheer would be everywhere cleared.

Aaanyway the rest of the day I spent leveling my jewelry (Artisan unlocked! woohoo!) questing around and even lending a hand to the lower levels in my guild (mainly a sign of good faith for when I need a hand with my book quests hehe), but had a pretty good time all in all. I even caught up with Laird HexDSL's toon (Lairdan), so that's another gaxxer I met ingame. Now it seems that not all of you are a figment of my imagination :P

After a while I decided to give the tavern another go. I went in and to my suprise the place was packed! Well not packed-packed but their were at least 20 people in there and compared to the usual 3-6 you see in there it was a suprise. So I hang my armor, and look around. I spot the guy I was with earlier sitting at a table and I go say hi. He was sitting with an elven female friend of his (why do humans always hook up with elves? so unoriginal... :P) and we started chatting. Then the guy tells her about the tale for an ale thingy and she wants to hear a tale. I was not up for the task of repeating the drunken dwarve routine after the earlier fiasco so I decide to try something new: Improv! So I ask her what kind of tale would she like to hear, and she says something about a Prince... Oh dear... and she wants pumpkins in it. So I started making silly rhymes and ended up telling the tale of Morton the Prince from Frogmorton, who was a smelly guy who taked care of pigs and a pumpkin patch and his parents (the kings) who lived in a castle were disgraced by him. So they go to an evil witch for a cure, they get a black bottle that don't know what it does, they chuck it at the kid in the palace and it turned into a bog, hence the birth of the frogmoore. The prince died happy and the king became crazy ole slappy. (All this much longer and rhymed of course) Lairdan even appeared for a spell but couldn't stay for the end. But the important thing is that the formula really worked. Improv was much more fun than writing something prehand and retyping it and it gives place for interaction with the audience. They can ask questions and you just answer in rhymes and adapt the story as you go. Ended up having a blast with it and I might just do improv from now on. After that, more quests!

So in the end it was a pretty decent day, found my new nemesis (REVENGE!!!), discovered the wonders of improv, made 500+ silver (only 500 left for a house!) and I dinged 36 just before I logged. The game's looking up! Who got the cookie this time?   read


9:33 AM on 11.18.2008

Back at LOTRO: Night of the Ebayer



Well after less pondering than I should have done I went back to LOTRO. Reinstalled my retail cd that was picking dust on my shelf. Installed 5 chapters that seemed to take FOREVER (left the MoM patch downloading while I slept since it wasn't necessary to play right now and it's unpacking as I write this), reactivated my old account and pre-ordered MoM... talk about a leap of faith.

First off let's pickup where I left LOTRO for the last time. It was the year 2007 and april had brought us a brand new MMO based on the Lord of the Rings. I ran out to buy the game and after scouring 3-4 shops I managed to grab a copy, ran home installed it and played the free month. What did I achieve? A lvl 35 minstrel named Joco (and a bunch of alts) who made a living in the Prancing Pony by telling odd job poems about the players he met around the game. I actually got veeeery closed to being banned for a mischievous tale about a snobby elven bard. (yes... I almost got banned for an RPing incident... hardcore! :P) I left the game around the time the first festival events were made with an Inn league member title for making a drunken run around the bars in the shire, a pie eating champion title, a few extra dance moves, and sore arms after playing a few rounds of ultra bugged chicken punting. Left the game cause I can't remember what caught my eye in the distance.

So now I'm back... and oh boy am I lost! I first logged into the shire and it all seemed pretty normal and recognizable, until I started looking through my character. My mail was empty of goodies (no suprise there) and my inventory and stash were full of trophies I needed to barter, probably due to name changes from the patches, and I had 600 silver. After that I had to read through all of my skills again since I couldn't remember what the hell each of those icons did. The first thing I noticed was that one of my aura songs I used as a perma buff (something like +fate and +will can't remember) now used 1 power per second. Darn... that sucks. Then suddenly I flipped through my character sheet and saw something that scared me... Rep! What the hell? I need to grind rep in this game too? Here is where I start pondering I need a reroll to take full profit of it's benefits, till I saw the horsie in the inventory and just couldn't be bothered any more. Plus I had some acquantance standings automatically in my rep bars which meant I had received an invisible rep buff when I was away so I thought... well that's not too bad.

So feeling like a fucking ebayer, I jumped on my chestnut pony and started running around the shire, with a mixture of anxiety and giddinness filling my heart, went to check out the hobbit's rep house and wasn't that much impressed so I decided not to give the rep incident another thought. So I go down hill and find a small quest giver (in the shire they're all small) and I discover yet another new addition: Housing! Well that seems like a fun and necessary addition to the game. I check out the prices and the low end houses don't seem to be too expensive, hmmm... 1 gold, I'm only missing 600 silver, I wonder how often I need to pay upkeep? I check out an empty house and they seem pretty nice, empty... but nice all the same. I guess this is where all my cash is going to end up in the near future.

So far it's going better than I expected, so my next stop is the skill trainer. After seeing expansions in other games I figure there's bound to be one or to new skills the game has implemented for my class so I summon the mount and run along. I open the trainer window and to my suprise there's a whole bunch of them! Wow... a dps boosting buff and area damage! niiiiiiice, I can also train people in instruments now, sweet, ooo bagpipes! Huh? Why can't I train in bagpipes, I got the level and it's only 25 silver... That's not right, so I open my character page and to my dismay I find myself with only 2 silver left. Oh goddamn. There goes my house fund...

I end up needing a drink and some friendly rping to make me feel better so I rummage through an old drawer and find 2 of my old RPing works: The tale of Ellriel Skillsong, the grumpy minstrel (the one I was almost banned for) and The tale of Thorkin and Orbin, the drunken dwarf twins (an old crowd pleaser). I'm guessing that could get some free drinks, so I keymap my keyboard to function as a piano for the lute and head off to the prancing pony. A sore ass from riding later I open the door, and even though it was quite late I find some people standing and chatting round the fire, something about a costume party so I guessed RPing was not lost. Hurray! I introduce myself to the group and offer my trademark Tale for an Ale service. They seem happy enough to accept. So they get confortable, I place my drunken dwarves tale before the keyboard and start typing away. It's all going smoothly, not too many typos from speed typing and a few laughs and smiles from their part, good their enjoying it, but half way through it I suddenly realize I'm missing half of the poem! Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap... think fast! /e starts shuffling through his notes. I need to buy me some time, I crack the drawer open and start shuffling through papers in real life. I apologize to the crowd and keep looking for the damn scrap of paper, but it seems to be lost. They say it's no biggy so I go for some improv, I kinda remembered how the story ended and the last rhyme from it all (even after a year... I was impressed with myself!) and it doesn't end that badly, the crowd cheers and claps and I get 17 beers, score!

Here's where the embarassing coincidence part starts, we start chatting a bit and I ask for the news around town. They seem a bit suprised by the question so I try to give them a push. I remember a post by Achazia (couldn't remember the name by the time) in Gax about a cool RP event where they made a huge concert with their ingame band. The only thing I could remember was the name of the band wich I thought were the shadows and so on, so I decide to give it a try and ask them about the concert, on one part curious to see if it had really had any impact on the game and on the other trying to look connected to the community. But what a coincidence! It was Achazia I was speaking to! (that'll show me to turn on the floating names) At this point I'm feeling like a complete tard, and probably get the impression they think I'm taking the piss out of them or am just a retarded fanboy wannabe or somethin. But it all stays pretty civil, and then she actually plays me a little song. And dayum! She IS good! (what can I say, I wasn't expecting it lol) The song ends and my jaw is basically resting on my desk by then. C'mon I play the lute using my keyboard and had no clue of what .ABC files were so I'm easily impressed. Still even with abc's the music is good. So in my drunken glee we say our goodbyes and we each part our different ways.

I walk out of the tavern and get ready to tryout my newly acquired (and terribly expensive) combat skills, when I bump into a recruiter from Serenity. The name rings a bell and I don't know if it's from other MMO's or the LOTRO launch days but they seem pretty eager to have me in their ranks so I join in (that reminds me I need to register in their forums lol). I make my way to north barrows where I have some lvl 30-32 quests (want to start easy on myself) and I activate the combat aura... LOL! The little dude starts making some wierd poses and it has an evil soundtrack to boot, I think I'm gonna like this. And I do! I'm really impressed with the DPS I can dishout now, with that cool sword DOT and aura effects I find myself ripping enemies appart and not having to heal myself in fights, which I realize could be problematic since the dps aura halves all my healing done, but still It's worth having an almost perma stun on my shout skill and a fast reload time. I'm impressed and it seems those 600 silver were well invested.

All in all I'm glad I came back to LOTRO, I got a lot of things to look up to and the community is as good as I remembered it to be. Now all I need is to figure out the economy, start making some cash, and empty my inventory so I can quest worry free. Thanks to Panda for the initial nudge and to Achazia for making it a good RPing night. Oh and sorry for the wall of text, if you manage to finish leave your adress and I'll mail you a cookie![img]   read


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