A Diamond in the Rough.

•May 27, 2008 • 6 Comments

What makes a great MMO?  Polish?  A great launch? Different approach to an old idea?

These can be said of just about any type of game. 

But what makes an MMO great?  Is it the different race/class combinations?  Is it the questing and rewards? The way a character fights or cast spells?  Is it the graphic or maybe the sound effects and music?  Could the game bring something innovative to the genre that no other one has or maybe some thing that has been tried before but failed?

I bring all this up, because when I was thinking about my experiences in AoC, it occurred to me that this game was good, but not great.  The game lacks polish.  (Sorry to Darren and others that hate that term.)  Characters shouldn’t be disappearing into the ground, getting stuck on terrain or losing pets every time they zone in to or out of an instance.  Graphical glitches should be lower than what appears to be happening in this game.  My preception is that beta is where companies find these small problems and fix them before the game is released.  Worse case scenario the game gets released and a miracle patch is sent out to ease the pain.  Something as simple as your character getting suck on a rock or bush shouldn’t be happening the first week of release. Continue reading ‘A Diamond in the Rough.’

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And the winner is….

•May 26, 2008 • 2 Comments

Did you think it was going to be that easy? You expected me to just say AoC beats WoW hands down right? Well, not exactly!

Well, I’ve been playing Age of Conan since last Tuesday (release day). Due to my heavy raiding schedule in WoW, which is a wonderful excuse, since I’ve been struggling for so long to find a great guild and I’ve have finally found one. Because of this slight unexpected happiness, I haven’t been able to get past 20 yet, but I do have several at level 9 and one at level 18. Continue reading ‘And the winner is….’

How to unmake a good movie.

•May 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Like food, some movies shouldn’t be left out past their expiration dates. If left out there too long, they just go bad.

This movie is just plain awful. Truly, utterly, awful and  like food that goes bad, it smells. It’s ok to have a bad movie as a guilty pleasure, Armageddon is mine, but this movie is so unpleasing that you’ll have to flush twice to get rid of it.

The concept for the movie when it was originally written was probably a great one, then Lucas started adding his horrible dialog and it just got out of hand from there. Lucas just can’t write dialog. He just can’t and anyone that says he can is just some poor Star Wars Fanboy that thinks the paper under Lucas’s pen is sacred. Well, in this case its just putrid.

The franchise was at its best when the first movie was released. It was awesome. Everything was possible. Nothing in the movie was too outrageous. It was possible to accomplish all the things Indy did in the movie. I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief that far. It was a true action movie that had acting and heart. This time, not so much.

First, you have to can get past the terrible, phoned in acting. Its very evident that Mr. Ford just did it for the money. There is no excitement, no charisma to his character. He had his hand out and they just piled the money on. Look, the last Die Hard movie was a bit of a stretch, but its Oscar winning material compared to this crap, plus Bruce Willis spends most of the time laughing during the movie because even he knows its crap. Then you have the supporting cast, which with the dialog that Lucas wrote, didn’t have a chance.

Then you have to deal with the completely outrageous special effects action. I mean, I can think of some creative things to do in a movie, but sword fighting while straddling two moving vehicles, which, by the way, was done in one of the recent Star Wars movies, is just stupid. Especially since its been done before. Then there is the Tarzan act which, I’m not even going to get into.

Look, I’m no movie critic, but this movie is a must miss. Someone at the studio was passing out hits of acid the day this movie got screened, because it should be hidden away in a vault till some courageous adventurer comes and rescues it from Spielberg and Lucas or at least throws it on a fire. i would see Event Horizon or Sphere again before i saw this movie for free on a network.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to spend any money on this crappola, the boss man treated all of us, but for those that are worried about spending the money, go see Iron Man again, trust me. You will thank me later.

The Hills are alive…

•May 18, 2008 • 1 Comment

Quick post about the new music I’m listening to these days.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been going on a music buying spree. Normally, I listen to either talk radio or several podcasts on the way to and from work. But for some reason, I’ve been listening to more and more music, so I bought a few cd’s that I’d like to recommend.

First, I purchased, Death Cab for Cutie’s cd “Plans”. This one has been out for a while now, but since I have been absent from the music listening scene for about a year, it was an interesting purchase for me. All the songs are very dark and either about death or hopelessness. Normally, I wouldn’t be into this sort of genre, but for some reason the melodies just struck a cord with me. I pride myself on the fact that I can listen to just about anything, making this group a good addiction to my collection.

I then picked up, Snow Patrol’s CD Eyes Open. Another good album, if you can call them that these days. A bit more uplifting than Death Cab.  I’ve not had a chance to listen in depth to all the songs, but the ones I have listened to are awesome. Chasing Cars is my favorite so far, which makes sense cause its been on the charts and featured in Grey’s Anatomy, a show I regret I can’t get into. It took me a long while to figure out the show is named after a book. lol

I picked up some James Blunt. Due to it being over played on most radio stations and video shows, I got really annoyed with his first hit, “You’re Beautiful” . I actually like the parody that Weird Al did much better. But his second disc, “All The Lost Souls” is very good. The song that got me hooked was “Same Mistake“. All the songs pretty much sound the same except for maybe one or two, but its still I would still recommend it.

Now, after getting all of those discs, for some reason I just couldn’t stop buying stuff. lol So, I ended up getting Tristan Prettyman’s new CD, “Hello…X“. I haven’t gotten the chance to listen to the CD yet, as you can see above I have several new discs I need to get thru first. But I wanted to pick up her cd because I really do enjoy her song, “Madly“. Its a bit pop esq, which soots me just fine considering the other choices I’ve made recently. I’m a child of the 80’s so Pop is part of what I was raised on and its always good to listen to something lite and airy every now and then. We can’t listen to death metal all the time, where would the world be if we did?

If I had to place blame for my recent purchases, I would have to point my finger at two things, VH1 and Itunes. I have a habit of getting up on Saturday mornings and do a few early dailies on WoW. I’m on a Central time PVP server, so its always good to get up before the horde and do some questing on Taco Island, as I call it. So, to keep me company, I’ll set the television to VH1 and listen to “Jump Start”, which is usually followed the show “Fresh New Music“, which is a show featuring new artists, which is where I found Duffy, but thats another story. Then, after listening to something on either show that strikes a cord with me musically, I’ll hit the Itunes store and listen to a few more songs. If I like what I hear, I’ll take a look at the section that shows what other people have bought besides this artist. It is strange how people seem to have the same tastes.

I ended up finding Augustana this way. Another good purchase I made in the last couple of weeks. You can find some interesting things just surfing itunes.

Well, thats it for this week. I hope you find my musical choices interesting and will maybe give them a bit of a listen.

I’ll post more gaming news later today I hope. I waiting to see if there are any AoC reviews out. I’m still on the fence about this one. Its hard to make a decision, on one hand I have friends that are trying to talk me into it, and on the other, I see all the bad open beta reviews. But I want to wait and see how the released client works and behaves before I cross it off my list.

That’s one BIG, SCARY, bear.

•May 8, 2008 • 9 Comments

Everquest was, in my opinion, the first very, very successful MMO’s.  In it’s day, it was fondly referred to as EverCrack.  I remember sales people in stores tell customers they weren’t going to be able to sleep or eat with this game on their computers, it was so addictive.  But when the new breed of MMO came out, they weren’t called “EQ-like” or “EQ-Killers”.  They were just the next thing.  The New Generation of MMO’s.  The next stop on the evolutionary chain.  

When exactly in the gaming culture did World of Warcraft become the measuring stick?  I’m not saying it shouldn’t be the the candle we hold all other MMO’s up to, but when did this transformation happen?  I understand that having over 8 million customers is impressive, but I don’t hear people referring to other cable systems as being “Time Warner-like” or that  Dish network might be the “Direct TV-Killer”.

Now, everyone is comparing all other MMO’s to WoW.  LOTRO is “WoW” with a different interface, the questing in Vanguard is “WoW-like” and how about, Tabula Rasa has instancing similar to “WoW”.  It’s just strange that World of Warcraft is now an adjective, used to describe other MMO’s.  Even MMO’s that are coming out are being scrutinized as being possible “WoW-killers“.

Are we so caught up in the hype that is WoW that we now have to use it when talking about other games as well?  I’m just not sure when this started happening, but it seems a little strange.

 

 

The Replacement Killers!

•May 8, 2008 • 6 Comments

Is this the year that World of Warcraft and Bliz get knocked off the top?  Will AoC and WAR really pull enough people away from WoW to cripple it?  Or, will it pull people away from Tabula Rasa, Vanguard and EQ2 to finally put them on life support? 

When I read posts about the new MMO’s coming out this year, it always strikes me as funny that people try to guess if its the killer replacement for WoW, rather than considering how much the new MMO’s will impact the smaller. less populated games like LOTRO or Vanguard.

 Who are these replacement killers really gunning for? 

 Is it WoW they have in their cross hairs or is it someone else that’s going to get caught in the crossfire?

I, like many, have a subscription to WoW and another MMO, my new addiction currently is LOTRO by the way. If AoC does preform well once released, I’m not going to be able to pay for three games a month, so something has to give.  LOTRO is a very nice diversion, but I’m not about to stop playing WoW.  Why you ask? Because I have a kick ass 70 Mage, that frankly, I’ve spent too much freaking time on, to just turn my back and walk away.  (yes, I do know that you can keep your character on the server after you unsubscribe and until they do a server wipe, but you see it was just a metaphor.)

So, how many people with two subs are going to stop WoW to play AoC as opposed to their other alt game?  Hence, the problem.  A lot of people just assume there is going to be a mass canceling of WoW subs and I’m thinking that it will be the other games people start dumping first.  

There are some games that won’t get impacted too much, like EVE Online or even Tabula Rasa, only because they are different from the fantasy game settings.  People play those games to get away from fantasy world based games, if anything they will pick up AoC and try it for 30 days, then leave.

Players have to remember that what impacts WoW will also impact the other MMO’s as well when a new game appears, which could be devastating.  WoW has over 8 Million players, none can boast those numbers.  Blizzard could even stand to lose a few people when the “Killer Replacements” start to get released, especially on some of the more congested servers. Honestly, I would think that the impact on games like POTBS or Vanguard would result in a more subtle thinning of the slowly growing MMO herd, by causing servers to merge and others to possibly shut down.

The wonderful thing about WoW is that because of its cartoon graphics, it should be able to still compete with other games for years to come.  The only issue that I see would be if the new game designers find a better way to execute the end game aspect, then it would be over for WoW.  Until then, nothing is really going to damage the game.  Course, this is my opinion, but I’ve seen people who blog how bad WoW is and then not more than 6 months to a year later they jump back in. (You know who you are!)  The game must have some redeaming qualities, I mean, over 8 million people think its fun and easy to play, apparently they can’t all be wrong.

The problem is going to be all the collateral damage that the new games bring with them.  WoW might take a small hit, but the gun fire may damage a lot of smaller ones to the point where they might just have to come off of life support, and finally be allowed to die.

 

It’s Getting Better All the Time!

•May 6, 2008 • 6 Comments

Well that’s what the Beatles believed.  Right?

I believe they were right and here is why.

This week, I managed to get my mage into a very good guild.  To start with, I need to stress that I am not a leader type person, I’m a follower, so basically, followed the players that got the raw deal in my “Closing the Door” blog to the guild they had migrated too.  I have to say that so far, I’m very impressed.  They are very well organized, they have rules and information posted on their website that spells out just about everything you might expect to have a question about.  Ah, to be in the land of sanity and reason again.

 I also figured out a very scientific new test to see whether a guild might be a good fit for me.  Seeing as how I’m pretty picky about guilds and the people in them. 

First you have to login pretty early in the morning and hang out till just a few guild members are logged in, maybe 2 or 3.  Then say “hello” in guild chat.  If they say something right away, it means that they are pretty friendly, especially if its a monday morning.  Now if the chat goes beyond the cordial series of greetings and works up into an actually conversation, then you know you have a pretty decent group of people.  With this new guild, I had to break off the 30 minute conversation I was having so I wouldn’t be late for work. lol

Every time I would log in to my last guild be it morning noon or night, I would always say “hello” to the guild.  It usually took them around 20 minutes for someone to say hello back, and that’s if they even noticed.  Busy people with their own busy little lives.

Anyway, I feel that I have finally found a good guild. Currently, because I am a new member, I’m in a probationary period that will last two weeks.  During this time, I won’t be eligible for loot on any of the 25 man raids, unless no one wants anything.  But that doesn’t bother me, because they have a pretty decent loot system.

Instead of DKP, you have to get classified as “Hard Core”.  “Hard Core” status allows you rolls on loot first or you can pass.  To achieve this status, you have to get points by running raids.  So, if I run Kara, which is 1 point and then I run a 25 man raid, which is another 2 points, I will have 3 points for the week.  Three points gets me classified as “Hard Core” which means the next week, I get to roll on gear thats for my class. Once the “Hard Core” players decide if they want it or pass.  If they pass, then it goes down to the “Casual” players, then the Alts and last the guild newbies.  It seems like a pretty good and fair system.  It encourages weekly participation without making it a system where you can fall behind.  If I take a week off cause of work, I only have to work 1 week of raiding and I’m back to “Hard Core” status.  

The great thing about this system is it only applies to the 25 man raids,because all of the current 10 man raids are on farm status, so, If I run Karazhan, then I still get to roll normally if I need the gear. 

Speaking of Karazhan, I managed to run one last week with a bunch of players from my new guild, before I had actually joined and got all the way to Prince for the first time.  It was pretty sweet and we downed him on the first try.  I collected a bunch of Badges of Justice.   I also ended up with two new pieces of gear, Trial-Fire Trousers and Collar of the Aldor, which is my T4 head piece.  I then preceded to get them socketed and plastered with glyphs, so now I’m very broke. lol

It was really nice to find a group of players to hang out with, even if it was till the wee hours of a work week, that now happen to be my new guild mates.  Isn’t that extra special?   

I will say this, I was pretty lonely when I wasn’t in a guild.  Not sure why I felt that way, because in my old guild, I didn’t really have anyone that I hung out with or chatted with.  I still have friends outside of the guild that would be on and we would chat, but I guess there is something about seeing the guild chat race by as people are arguing or discussing the next raid that seems comforting.   Or it could be just me. lol

I’ve also managed to get in a little bit of CoD 4.  Its a very good first person shooter that I would highly recommend.  I think it’s better than the Battlefield series, but don’t tell Scott I said that. If you have a 8800 GT card it just looks fantastic.  The single player game had me before the credits even started at the beginning, but it was the multiplayer aspect that really captured my attention.  By far, it is probably the best part of the game due to its originality.  Its this kind of “outside the box” thinking that MMOs need to use when designing end game content.

When you start playing online, you get a bunch of generic kits, submachine gunner, demolitionist, sniper, etc.  As you participate, you gain experience.  This earned XP works towards raising your characters rank.  As you go up in rank, the game unlocks more weapon options and special abilities.  Ever wanted to be able to get in a last shot once you knew you were dead, now you can, its an ability you can earn. lol

Pick up the game, you will like it.

Thats about it for now.  Never fear, I am still playing LOTRO.  I’ve managed to get my little Lore Master to 14, and still having fun.  I managed to pick up the new fishing hobby and work that in when I can. A friend and I still managed to group up on the Landrovel server.  We play once a week so we don’t get burned out.  Somehow he managed to become leader of an almost extinct guild, but we aren’t actively recruiting till its needed.

He also managed to get a Minstrel up to 20 without dying. Course he did it without grouping with me, but once he does, he’ll really start to die. lol

Well, thats it for now. (Didn’t I say that already?)  I have another blog sitting in my draft box that I haven’t found the time to work on yet.  I have it pretty much written, just need to create some art for it.  For some reason, having a little picture at the top of the page seems to make my blogs look a bit better, even if they aren’t the best pics.  At the least it distracts from my bad grammar and spelling.  I had my wife read a blog of mine recently and she had to stop, because my bad sentence structure was driving her mad. lol  Well, if my new hero Stephen King can get away with it, why can’t I?