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Real Job : Software Engineer
Favorite Author : G.K. Chesterton
Favorite Book : Starship Troopers
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Bioshock was really only the second real game I've purchased for my 360, the first being Gears of War. Most of the time I hop on for a few minutes to play some XBLA.

Soon after I purchased Bioshock I played through the first act and then quit. Why?

Achievements.

I'm afraid that if I leave the first act I won't be able to come back. And then I'd have to play the whole darn game through again to get those achievements. Which I'd never do, I usually don't play games through even once, let alone twice.

So, easy problem, right? Except that there's one other thing I hate ...

FAQs.

Yeah, I know I could go to gamefaqs and find out how to get all the achievements. But why? Why is downloading a text file off the internet an intrinsic part of pretty much every console game?

I know this one too -- because some people (lousy explorers) like finding all of this stuff on their own. That's great for you guys. But give the rest of us a chance? I'd even perform an annoying task in game for a map or something.

So, have lame achievements, FAQ-requiring or otherwise, ever made any of you quit a game?








Destructoid ran a front page story (link) about a "hint" in the Ratchet and Clank : Quest for Booty PSN title about a possible 2009 release for a new Ratchet and Clank game.

So, will we see a new Ratchet and Clank game in 2009? Of course. Of course we will. I'm not even sure why people were surprised, actually.

I like Insomniac not just because of their great games, but also their ability to crank out quality games with Madden-like consistency. They've released a game every fall since 2002.

2002 -- Ratchet & Clank
2003 -- R&C : Going Commando
2004 -- R&C : Up Your Arsenal
2005 -- Ratchet : Deadlocked
2006 -- Resistance : Fall of Man
2007 -- R&C Future : Tools of Destruction
2008 -- Resistance 2 (planned)
2009 -- (guess)

To release games so quickly it seems quite probable that Insomniac is working on multiple games at a time. In fact, we know that this is true lately, as Resistance 2 will come out in the fall, and Quest For Booty (downloadable game for PSN) came out this summer.

The downloadable thing might even become another fixture. 2008 will have a short PSN R&C game and Resistance 2. Why couldn't 2009 see a full R&C game and a short PSN Resistance game?

I'm happy that Insomniac has a little more variety to work with now. The later Ratchet/R&C releases on the PS2 weren't as good as the first two. I feel like Insomniac had gotten so sick of Ratchet and Clank that they felt the need to "experiment" with things that didn't need experimentation.

Best of all I'm finally getting a PS3 in 2009 so I'll be able to play the bleeding new R&C game when it comes out.








Lots of updates since the destructoid story ran (link). There isn't really a good central location for all the news that comes out, but I'll try to pass on all that I've seen.


Closed Beta Invites for Collector's Edition

Invites started going out yesterday, although all you can do now is download the client. This from James over at Mythic :

CE Pre-Orders are being invited in multiple waves, and the first wave has just hit the shore. The servers aren't up yet but you can prepare to join the WAAAGH by getting the client now!

Remember that CE invites are still subject to eligibility*, but everyone who pre-ordered the CE will get in for the Preview Weekend coming up soon!

We'll have more for you tomorrow, check back then same bat time, same bat channel.

So, that's more closed beta invites going out at around 5 PM today. Note that something is still not up yet (account center, or something?) so you can start downloading but not start playing.

*by eligibility I'm pretty sure he means that they don't invite people with really bad looking dxdiag files at the moment.

Preview Weekend

Mythic has announced a preview weekend for all pre-orders, not sure when this is happening.

NDA Drop, Open Beta

Mark Jacobs (Mythic CEO) hopes that it will happen this week (post from last week) :

7) Regarding the NDA lift, we hope to lift the NDA next week, one month before launch.

Why the wait? Well, they still had a few more fixes to add before they dropped the NDA :

I wish I could lift it right now but as I’ve said elsewhere, we need to take care of a three issues before the NDA is lifted. One has already been taken care of and I hope that by the end of next week, the other two will be taken care of as well. Once we lift the NDA I’ll go into more detail as to what the issues were and why I wanted to hold things up. The remaining two issues are not earth-shattering by any means but when I explain things, I hope you’ll understand why I wanted to wait another week.

Note that the "Open Beta" in WAR will be invite-only, the "open" just means that the NDA will be dropped.

Simultaneous Launch : NA, Europe, Oceania

Already mentioned in the destructoid story, but thought I'd bring it up again because I think it's cool. Mythic is not going to wait a long time before releasing in Europe (like Blizz did with WoW) and actually has real servers in Australia instead of West Coast US servers set to Australian time (which is what WoW had, last I checked).

Head Start

Collector's Edition pre-orders will get an extra day of "head start" over regular pre-orders. I'm pretty sure it will be 4 days (CE pre-order) and 3 days (regular pre-order), but that was something I saw on an ad, so who knows.

Blogger Guilds

If you'd like to hang out with some video game/WAR bloggers and play the game on a Core Server (PvP only in PvP zones) there's a guild called Casualties of War. I'm probably going to play with that guild.

If you'd like to hang out with some game/WAR bloggers and play the game on an Open Server (PvP in PvP and PvE zones) there's some information over at Keen and Graev's Blog.

My Blog

I have a WAR blog too, yeeha.

WAR is a WoW Clone!

I don't believe that, but I thought I would save some of you the time ;)

blockquotes

Every time I have to quote someone with italics a kitten dies.








I missed this article from two days ago, but there's a good preview of Dawn of War II over at IGN (link).

I'm not a huge fan of innovation in video games. I don't think it's bad, just dangerous. In a lot of ways, innovation is like a scorpion holding a gun loaded with a stick of dynamite. In many ways extremely awesome, in many ways extremely dangerous.

So I'm all about using existing mechanics in new ways. Mechanic X works really well in genre A. Will it work in genre B?

So I was pretty excited to see this :

The scene looks more like something from Diablo II than a real-time strategy game. The warboss even has a boss health meter visible at the screen's top and special attacks, like a shockwave move and a ground attack that lights up terrain in a line before a string of explosions triggered. The tactics of taking him down involve moving troops out of the way of his ground shockwave, steering clear of his melee attacks, and keeping a squad focused on clearing out the Ork rabble that keeps spawning. Once he is finally killed, he drops his gun, which is labeled as a "blue" item.

You'll find iconic boss fights in pretty much every genre of combat-related video games -- except the RTS. There might be a bigger, stronger enemy to kill at the end of the game, but they are generally more of the same, and the final battle rarely requires anything out of the ordinary.

So kudos to Relic for using a well-understood, fun mechanic in an entirely new way. I consider this "safe" innovation. You can add something new and fun to your game with perhaps a lot of effort but without a lot of risk.

And any game developers out there : I'm still waiting on my RPG that uses pinball as the conflict mechanic. It's entirely safe to do (since pinball is already fun) and it would be freaking awesome.








If you haven't already heard, Mythic announced some big news about Warhammer : Age of Reckoning today, and it's not good news.

They are going to use PunkBuster for cheat protection, which a lot of people are not hot on.

Additionally, of the 24 classes that were meant to be available, only 20 will be available at launch. Mythic said that they were just having problems with the concept of these four classes and just couldn't make them work.

Finally, of the six capitol cities that were meant to be available, only two will be available at launch. Mythic was having difficulties doing justice to all six capitol cities and decided to focus on only two for now.

So what does this all mean?

The Affect of the Announcement on Substance

The career changes will cause some mechanical changes in the game. Previously each race had a tank, a melee DPS char, a ranged DPS char, and a support class. Now two races are going to be missing their tanks and two races are going to be missing their melee DPS. Since the tiered battle system pits races against each other, there's a danger that races missing a career will suffer. Fortunately, characters can already go to the appropriate zones for any race, but it's not clear whether that will be enough to keep the racial balance. Hopefully Mythic will introduce some mechanic to encourage necessary classes to switch areas as needed.

As far as mitigation, we don't know what Mythic will do yet. The indication has been that those four classes didn't work so they were cut. It is possible that the cut classes or replacements could make their way into the game at a later date. However Mythic has also said clearly that the cut classes could be gone forever.

The removal of the capitol cities will affect the campaigns. The campaign takes place through series of zones that connect two opposing capitol cities (empire vs. chaos, dwarves vs. greenskins, high elves vs. dark elves) -- the goal being to advance to your enemies capitol city and "sack" it. Previously there were to be three campaigns, each of which could independently result in the capture of a capitol city. With the extra capitol cities removed, a realm (WAR-speak for faction) will need to win two of the three campaigns to sack the opposing capitol city.

To mitigate the loss of the four capitol cities (and indeed the reason they were cut) is so that extra effort could be made on the remaining capitol cities. They will have more quests and more areas. Honestly, I never liked having three (or four) capitol cities in WoW, so I think this is a step up. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for everyone else) Mythic has stated that the capitol cities will definitely find their way back into the game.

Also, PunkBuster. There are a lot of sceptics but Mythic has stated it will be removed if it doesn't work, and that it will not be used for automatic bans.

The affect of the Announcement on Sales

The change has upset a large number of people. The related thread on Warhammer Alliance (the most popular forum) is currently at 78 pages (the changes were announced this morning).

There are really three main categories of people that are upset -- some were hoping to play the classes that were cut, some people (especially role-players) are disappointed at the thought of losing "their" capitol city, and some people just think it's a sign of weakness.

So many people on the forums (and here) have stated that they will no longer buy the game. Other people think the changes are reasonable. So it's possible this could adversely affect sales at launch.

The long term effects

Word of mouth is really how MMOG's survive post-launch. Good ones, so far, last forever. If WAR is good, word of mouth will bring in subscribers and the cuts won't matter. If WAR is bad, word of mouth will doom it and the cuts won't matter. The real question is if WAR will survive at launch after this. I think it will.

The Bottom Line

As some wiser souls have pointed out, no serious MMORPG has ever been delivered with working versions of all promised features. WoW, notably, ditched the honor system shortly before launch, and then revamped it without including Dishonorable Kills for players. I rolled on a PvP server thinking I would eventually be protected from ganking but it was never to be.

It also says a lot about WAR and Mythic that this news is being released when we haven't even hit the guild beta (which comes before the open beta). Many times players find that the end game is unfinished when they get to the end game and find it unfinished (Age of Conan comes to mind).

Furthermore, throwing out bad mechanics is a trait of successful developers. Blizzard is notorious for this -- there are rumors that a previous version of Diablo 3 was thrown out because it didn't meet expectations. TF2 is another successful game that survived a lot of thrown-out content.

What doesn't kill WAR makes it stronger.

Linkage

the MMORPG.com post that broke the news
Massive thread on Warhammer Alliance forums about the change
Mark Jacob (Mythic General Manager) responds to concerns raised : one, two, three, four (dev post tracker)
Two Warhammer blogs I like, Waaugh and Book of Grudges, have a lot of coverage.








A moderator who was worked with the EU in Brussels and the EVE Player Council has said that the representatives of the former could learn something from the latter.

Eurogamer Post
NY Times Post

The moderator complimented the EVE Player Council on their professionalism, their expertise, and their enthusiasm. And I agree, they are to be commended.

But then he also said something that seems breathtakingly stupid :

They are not just fighting for their particular interests but seem to be very socially responsible in wanting to represent all the players of Eve. Perhaps some real-world politicians could learn from them.

Politicians represent the interests of their inhabitants because they have both the moral authority and moral responsibility (not to mention legal authority and responsibility) to do so.

If I say that I'm going to give the poor people of Africa 100 million dollars, I am being selfless and generous in helping people in need.

If I say that my country is going to give the poor people of Africa 100 million dollars, I am not being selfless or generous, because I am not personally giving anything. I am spending the money of the people I represent.

I'm not saying that governments should never be generous. But it should not be regarded as virtuous to disregard your own constituents for "the greater good".

I realize this is slightly NVGR, but I just know it's going to bug me when people talk up this moderator, when really he sounds like an idiot. So here's your gaming related news : I started a Warhammer Blog out on teh interwebs since I figured it would really bore everyone here.