Author Archive: Isey

Tempting Tesh

C’mon Tesh, just try to fight it – you know you want to!

Bought Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition (66% off – or 10 bucks – for players who purchased an earlier version) and recalled how amazing turned based strategy games can be.

Which lead to me remember how perfect a MechWarrior game would be in that format.

Which lead me to much googling, and finding that linked site.

Chomping at the bit for this one – need to investigate a bit more but heat sinks, custom build outs, tonnage limits, and hex spaces are all in. They manage to take away the ~300 dice rolls per turn and its a match made in heaven.

Sweet, Sweet Naivety.

My son LOVES hockey. He is 7. He plays twice a week, been in weekend tournaments, and when he gets off the bus after school stays outside and shoots pucks at the net until we drag him in. It’s nice seeing him enjoy something so much at his age. It’s something that is easy to support. We’ve gone to several local Junior A games and he just went to his first NHL game this weekend. 20,000 cheering in a rink is awe-inspiring when you are young.

He is convinced he is going to make the NHL. Hockey has been something we have really enjoyed together.

At the last game, I realized something. When the jumbo-tron inevitably start running a ‘Make some noise’ segment (like the video above) and faux measures the crowd response until (usually) at some point the decibels increase to such a level that it explodes the screen – that is a common, 3-6x a night occurrence at these events.

I’ve never seen my son yell, scream, and cheer so loud – all the while staring at the jumbo-tron. And when they reached the peak, he was so proud that he was part of making that happen.

He thinks it is real.

It didn’t even cross my mind he would, but why shouldn’t he? I wish I would take more time to try and see the world through his eyes. Unfortunately, like Santa, the Easter Bunny (et al), just another thing on the list of ‘bound for disappointment someday’ that I am not looking forward to explaining.

This year the most powerful game I played, hands down, was TellTale Games the Walking Dead. I was emotionally invested. Sure, some of the quirky puzzles didn’t quite fit, but the game really fit the genre (I have read all the comics, and also watch the show for full disclaimer). About half way through the game, awe inspired, I ruined it for myself. I made a choice and afterwards I was so curious about what would have happened if I made a different choice.

I went to Google.

Regretted it since.

to be polite here. =)>

My first play through of TWD was me cheering at a zombi-fied jumbotron. It was exhilarating – I felt freedom and amazement! What characters! Great Plot! I am having impact on the game and world around me – and – what? Google says what? That my choices really have zero impact on the overall storyline? That no matter what I do, Pam leaves? and I get bit regardless of what choices I make? Santa ISNT REAL?!? Why are you telling me this!?

Yes, it was my own fault – I was already mapping what I was going to try and do on my second playthrough. I didn’t play again, and while there was a certain satisfaction in knowing I did my gut reaction and stuck with it for the entire game, I was sad that all I could really effect was how people thought of and perceived me in game (theirs and my word choices) and that the plot was out of my hands. I could only impact  my personality while getting there – I was getting there regardless.

One of those rare times where I would have rather not known.

2008, 184 Posts, 18 months of (mostly) silence, and missing you!

I can’t believe I started this blog in 2008. Yes, it only has 184 (often misguided) posts, and no, I haven’t really checked in in a year and a half. And yes, I do miss you.

‘You’ having two contexts, of course.

One, is writing. I think critically all the time for work, and write all the time for work – rarely for enjoyment. That was what I accomplished here. I had a ton of fun.

Two, is actually you. You who is no longer reading this, but used to. And who would comment, and challenge me, and link posts back.

While I still follow the community for the most part, I stopped participating. Not only, not participating (by not writing), but also, by not commenting. Not supporting the online community I was once part of.  Yes, I am feeling a bit old and tired and once again waxing nostalgia.

When I stumbled upon the news that EA’s CEO was retiring due to revenue issues and remembered that I lead a revolution (ahem) to stop buying EA products. It made me want to post. I thought I remembered making fun of him for being a terrible blogger, but that was some other EA dude. So, like many things that go as you age, I blame it on being a natural loss of general facilities.

So here I am writing, and it feels good. I played a lot of League of Legends on my own, ditched it because of the community. Played GW2 for a while, ditched it for lack of community. And oddly enough, against everything I ever fought for in computer games and posts here, I am a WoW subscriber again (albeit only a handful of hours a week). Why? Community. My friends are still there. Many never left.

Which circles back to blogging – for a few years I was tight with blogging, and regardless why or how I lost my desire to be a part of the community, I assure you it was me (not you). So I am back. I am not changing the title of the blog but the format will cover more about life in general with a gaming slant here and there – I am not on top of the gaming news, trends, or fads anymore. Good thing there is far more to life than gaming (and blogging about it).

Sad to see Wolfshead hasn’t blogged in a while and I think the whole blogging idea  wasn’t about expecting or implementing change in our online universes, but sharing ideas about how those might look someday.

So, going to poke around and say hi to you in your corners of the blog-o-verse, and stop by here once in a while to share stories and thoughts, when the need and if the desire arises. My therapist recommends it.

Nice to see you again.

 

Late to the Party – League of Legends

I have really been enjoying myself in League of Legends. It’s a pretty good PVP game, and one area in particular I think scales well in general (and a good lesson for other games) – the learning curve.

I did the tutorial(s), and jumped into Co-Op vs AI pretty quick for a bunch of levels. Here is where I learned the basics of the game, and familiarized myself with a few different champs (both playing, and against). Took me a while to get comfortable with the constant running away, but hey, it’s a feature!

Level 10 jumped into PVP and they were pretty basic matches – stay in your lane, push towers, clear your lane of towers, push base, win.

I am now only level 16, and sitting at a 36W-26L record. Not spectacular, I know – but it’s all part of the learning. As I progress, the game around me changes naturally as more advanced players are introduced and more advanced tactics. I’m sure somewhere around 20 random teams will start worrying about comps and junglers, but right now the game is advancing in difficulty (generally) as I am advancing in skill (generally). I don’t actually play to win as much as I play to learn. Seems the more I focus on the latter the more the former happens.

This pace, if the average player pays attention and is willing to adapt, is providing a good learning curve. I suspect as I push 30 the games will continue to change to more of what the lvl 30 ranked games look like – I have a long way to go, but looking forward to learning and getting there. While not a MMO, I am actually enjoying the journey.

I even bought some Riot Points (LoL is FTP) and all that really does is helps me to get to 30 faster, if I feel my skills are outpacing my advancement (which it did) and I find I enjoy challenging games more than RoFL stomps anyway.

I’m playing Morgana, who is classified as support – but feels more like ranged damage. I also already own Soraka (support), Taric (support), Amumu (tank) and Pantheon (Melee/Damage). Morgana is who I play the best (and most) but I’m told that it’s good to get good with a various amount of champions in case your team requires a role (at 16, no one seems to care about team comps – everyone just picks their favorite). So I’m twisting in different champs to get familiar and comfortable.

It’s free and worth picking up, just get to level 10 before you decide the gameplay sucks. First few games I really didn’t enjoy myself – but that is because I didn’t take the time to learn the expectations (didn’t watch a video, nada) – the team and strategy aspects really shines through once you get comfortable and a full grasp of what the point is.

Always seem to be late to the good parties. Fashionably late, of course.

 

Tuesday Ramblings.

I don’t post nearly as much when I am playing. One of those funny things – when I play a lot, I don’t post. When I’m not playing a lot, I post. With limited gaming/personal time, it just works out that way.

I am in, and there is, a SWTOR beta. That’s all I am allowed to say (NDA wise). No no, not sharing any impressions either way, just sharing what I am allowwed to share. And that’s it.

I have done a lot of beta tests at various stages, and the amusing part always is the disconnect between customer expectations based on released information, and what you see know when you are ‘in the know’ – hands on, so to speak. This observation is completely unrelated to my sentence prior, but is a pretty consistent and common theme in the beta tests (in general) I have participated in.

On a side note, I am somewhat shocked at the lack of World of Pandas/Pokemon rage. When I read the announcement I started going to some of my favourite blogging sites to enjoy reading pages upon pages of hate and anger. Perhaps it was because Blizz’s next step down wasn’t a surprise to anyone (anymore), or that bloggers just tend not to care about WoW anymore. If I missed any good posts on it, please link them.

I actually like the idea of the monk class (a personal favourite in EQ) but everything else is both unsurprising and uninspiring. I will tip my hat to Blizzard for fighting to the end, trying to break the standard-ish MMO growth curve and climb then slow decline. On a somewhat unrelated note, Zynga’s IPO is due soon. Not sure why that popped into my head when writing this section.

Best blogging post I read this week goes to the BBB, and it’s not even game related. JP sure has a way of tackling a polarizing topic in such a way to encourage thoughtfulness on the subject. While many may not agree with him, he hits the nail on the head, and it’s a brave post considering his normal subject matter. (It’s also a sad statement to qualify a post about human rights as being courageous – but you know what I mean. Right?)

Have a few posts I have been plugging away on in the background that I’ll get to this week. Time permitting, of course =)

I did say ramblings, after all.

I Hate Mila!

Mild mannered bloggers over at Are We New At This? and High Latency Life are tackling an important issue in blognation. Why all the hate on WoW? I mean, it has eleventy (.2) billion subscribers! Something must be going right over at ActiBlizzEnron. It is a curious (and good) question in many ways. Chris Cavelle tries to calm the masses and instead suggests we all enjoy some Mila instead.

Thing is, I hate Mila.

I mean, she was talented in that 70’s show, but her newer work in film has just been so much shallower.

I always have preferred red-heds to brunettes

I think she is losing weight, and I prefer curves to stick-women

The kids these days may like her, but I prefer a classier ladies – like Kate Beckinsale

Too much photo-shop

(See what I did there?)

All joking aside (and I really don’t dis-like Mila) and light-fun-poking at the topic – personal tastes leads to criticism – constructive or not. While I prefer to read opinions that are constructive, people are going to write what they feel like. WoW is held as the ‘standard’ in MMO’ing, love it or hate it. Their design decisions, as proven by the whole failed-wow-clone design cycle syndrome, has impacted the direction of the genre for many years. Current and Ex-players like to wax  their opinions on that impact, and the secret desire for every gamer to have every game “made just for me” ™.

Just like everyone critiques every speech, decision, and outfit worn by the POTUS due to the perceived impact it has on people’s lives, they do the same with things that impact their hobbies. Perhaps that isn’t an entirely relevant analogy, but you wouldn’t be able to guess the difference in importance reading some of those constructive criticisms (including some of my own.)

I played WoW for many years through the ups and downs, and had my fun with it. I’ll no doubt pop back in next expansion to see if it’s improved (for my tastes – important qualifier – I know many like it just as it is, even if sub numbers are shrinking). I think personally, I “hate” on WoW because the experience doesn’t work for me like it used to. And because I still secretly want to play it, I complain about it. So I can still be involved in the discussion somehow.

Of course, if you wade through the mass of WoW ‘bashing’, you’ll find some great gems in there that would indeed improve the game – and not just for whomever the author may be. You can see Blizz pushing for some (perhaps) real big changes (dissolving the holy trinity?) and adding features they swore up and down they never would do. Who knows, maybe Blizzard will Transmogrify their development. Will be fun to see. And bitch about. 🙂

Never fear my friends, I predict WoW complaining will drop to an all time low on December 20th.

 

Customer Service Win

After reading this great customer service example over at World of Shadow, I’m back thinking of my own CS purchase experiences in the gaming world. Of course, from there, I can’t help but continue to think, and discuss, why customer service basics don’t flow over into the gaming sphere.

In my first link above, the author purchased from Riot (a la League of Legends fame) and their internal records notified him that within the preset 2 week time frame of his purchase, the item he bought had a price reduction. They credited his account the difference.

In my second link, I bought a game off of Steam for $19.99, only to have it go on sale the next day for $1.99. I was politely told “too bad, so sad” (aka – pound salt) when I asked if it was possible to get a credit for the difference.

The author from the first link is already planning a second purchase from Riot for their good customer service. I haven’t bought anything from Steam since ( and almost a full year) and probably won’t again. Not because I’m that jaded of a buyer, but because there are other means to buy games, and I’d prefer to purchase through services that value me as a client.

Not that I’ll have much luck finding a retailer that rewards customer satisfaction. In the most basic of terms, customer satisfaction is the best predictor of future purchases. You would think the gaming world would get that by now – instead they seem intent that it is better to not get some money from many people, and get full price from people who do buy.

Some quick and easy ideas on how to retain customer satisfaction in gaming after the jump.

(more…)

Tell Me What You Want (What You Really, Really, Want)

I think MMO nostalgia makes us funny people. Just yesterday I was thinking about EQ and the amazing times had there with people I still consider ‘amazing’. Hell, I even went to my first ever guild message boards (circa 1999) after a 3 year hiatus to go say “hi” and see who was still kicking around and posting (long after the guild being retired). Funny enough there were people still poking their heads around there from time to time.

Of course, that led to a EQ1 trial download, and boy, is that game ever ugly. After dying to starter mobs a couple of times (yes, that’s right, starter mobs can kill you!) and running out of mana halfway through my second fight, I had to laugh at myself. This was the world that made me fall in love with MMO’s and the concept that gaming can reach a far greater audience than a saved game file on my hard drive. It had slightly less graphical appeal than minecraft. I lasted all of fifteen minutes before logging off, promising myself to actually give it a fair shot when I had more time, and left to go read some blogs.

My first MMO was EQ, then DAOC, then WoW. I played pretty much every MMO in between in either beta tests, short stints, or trials, but those three are the only three that captured my playtime for any significant period. All three are very different, of course, and are as reflective of a time period than anything to do with MMO.

What do we want from a MMO? Hard to figure that part out when I’m not even sure I know what *I* want. My off the cuff response to ‘what does Isey want from a MMO’ is pretty quick and easy to answer:

“A non-instanced, strategically paced, skill based, single world, sandbox style, relationship conducive, emotional driven fantasy world that I can enjoy in chunks of one hour (or less) two to three times a week (or when family/work time allows).”

Long answer, I love the thoughts behind this guy, and this guy, although it’s hard to envision how the three would combine into an actual playable game (and I could easily link another half dozen bloggers who write about games I would play).

Ok! Easy enough. Let’s get to work on that.. wait a minute.. does that really sound so good?

A lot of the systems and styles us fogeys keep discussing and clamoring for are things that have been already been dismissed in current and future game design as ‘quality of life’ improvements. As much as I say (and think), I want that 30 minute boat ride to Freeport, or having to speak in different languages to a complete stranger on that boat to improve my Erudite (15) language skill, it’s easy to remember fondly but harder to actually play that way again. That 30 minutes would be half (or all) of a current play session for me.

And, while I can sit here and write about the systems, styles, and innovations I want (or think I want) from a MMO, the systems themselves do not really matter. I want a MMO that can illicit the emotion of the games I used to love. And  I’m not sure that is entirely possible, but still remain hopeful.

What I do know is that in 10 years from now I probably won’t be searching down my old WoW guilds to see if anyone is still kicking around.

Keen and Graev Hacked

I read a lot of blogs, and while surfing K&G’s this morning turns out the ‘Devil Hacker’ hacked the website.

I’m curious if they had some post up picking on hackers or something, or just negatively reviewed a game they were playing and some fanboi took offence.

Conspiracy theorists: perhaps this is the beginning of targeted attacks on bloggers! Maybe there is a Clue type meta-game. “I suspect [Tesh], with the [DDOS attack], in the [Server Farm].

Bloggers beware.

Zombie Game : [insert verb or adjective here] Dead [insert verb or adjective here], etc.

Dead Island launched this week – a supposed cross between Fallout 3 and L4D. I haven’t purchased it yet (waiting for the sale) but very curious how this turns out.

When I started doing research on the game, I came accross this video:

Dead Island Trailer

Couple of initial thoughts on that.

1) Dead child (albeit Zombie child – although that isn’t really clear until watching the video) – kind of risky. At the same time, it really illicited emotions from me that game trailers typically don’t. The combination of the reverse frame sequence, soft music, and visuals was very effective of portraying the struggle and loss of life. Very impressive that way.

Still effective in the reverse of the reversed version:

Reverse of the Reverse Trailer

2) Being a big fan of the often mindless (did I say ‘often’ – meant ‘always!’) zombie genre, the video gave me hope that the game itself could be a well placed adult oriented adventure of survival and horror to really sharpen up the genre. See: Dead [Rising], [Left 4] Dead,

Initial reviews explain the trailer to be misleading in that regard, and the game is plagued with a few notable hiccups (my pet peeve from those reports: searchable items (luggage, garbage bins) that respawn after time, making ‘limited resources’ actually unlimited).

I’ll probably end up getting it at some point, will wait for a patch and some more reviews. Anyone have personal experience with this title?

 

PS – Bonus – the family in the video is actually in the game, so you can find their fate. (*spoilers on the video link*)

Family from Dead Island Trailer

 

World of Warcraft Tanky McTankertons

Last week Crabby McCraberton wrote a WoW Dev Blog on hotfixed changes to threat in World of Warcraft. Basically, they are removing (or working towards removing) threat as a variable in gameplay. They feel there are enough variables for tanks to worry about. This came on the heels of tank-bribery, CC changes and other mechanic adjustments to make tanking less stressful, and hopefully create an influx of tanks.

I always believed the whole idea of threat and tanking to be silly beyond reason, but understand there weren’t many other creative ideas in play to replace it. This of course sparked an article, and mostly-wow-type-level-of-discussion on Wowinsider.com on whether it was time to “kill” tanking.

I think it is, and have thought so for some time. Whether or not that is actually possible in WoW itself – or if the devs would actually be innovative and do that – is doubtful

My personal experience in MMO’s has mostly been as the healer. I had a natural affinity for it and the challenges that went along the responsibility of making up for players mistakes. On my 17th (or was that 18th?) return to WoW, and my solo nature of advancing my character after the advent of the dungeon finder tool, I decided to give tanking a shot. The insta queues for tanking and subsequent rewards for doing so actually work out wonderfully for a solo-MMO player – assuming that you have the requisite patience, modicum of “skill” required, and thick skin to enter the LFD. My playstyle (30 minutes here and there) meant I could log in, instantly get a group, accomplish something, and logoff. As a DPS toon, my first 30 minutes was spent waiting in the queue.

I came to really enjoy tanking. It fit my style and playtime, and I became pretty good at it. Problem for me was that I didn’t *love* the class I was playing (Paladin) so I levelled up my Druid and tried him tanking. Same result. Loved tanking, not the class. OK, will try levelling my warrior – sigh. Just don’t love the class! So while I spent a few months improving queue times for my DPS/healing friends, I couldn’t settle in on a class liked to tank with.

My favorite class in WoW, heck, even one of ‘all time’, is the Shaman. If I could ‘tank’ with my Shaman I would probably still be playing today. The class style and totems just really works for me.

That puts me firmly in the belief that if you give a player the option to play what class they want to play, and the way they want to play it, those holes may be finally plugged. Just sayin’.

I haven’t been following it closely,but my understanding is that GW2 won’t require the trinity and as such, may be worth picking up – if indeed there is a class choice that resonates with me.

 

 

Fun Police for Jedi

EA and Bioware are wrapping everything into their ‘hail mary pass’ launch of SWTOR (pardon the pun) to do everything imaginable (and then some) to recoup their eleventy billion dollar investment.

For those of you who don’t clicky links on blogs, they are releasing a PVP warzone based on a neutral planet where the good guys and the bad guys pause their intergalactic conflict (oh, that silly thing?) to partake in something loosely resembling football set in a fantasy world. Immersion breaking? Yes. Misguided? Probably. Downright silly? Uh-huh – if you are one of those Star Wars geeks who endear the IP.

But the real question is: will it be fun? Yes, probably. It sure looks that way. I just don’t think it belongs there, and is an aspect that totally negates the whole point of having a story based (brand new pillar, amirite?) MMO in the first place.

Next PVP warzone being released is on hoth and  involves both ice skates and a small round disk made from compressed wampa fat. DLC price of $10.

My hype meter is at an all time low for SWTOR.

 

Solution to the USA Debt Crisis

Take off, eh.

 

Yes, yes. Politics on a gaming blog is bad for business. However, I can’t resist!

In the mid 90’s Canada faced a very similar debt crisis – debt to GDP pushing 70%. Outrageous spending. Madness. The Federal Party at the time was the Liberal Party of Canada (I can already see my Republican American friends shuddering) and at that time Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and his Finance Minister Paul Martin, set a course to balance the books.

– Between 1995 – 1998 they cut Government spending by 14%

– For every ~$6  in expenditure cuts, they increased tax revenues by $1

– Unemployment dropped from 11.6%  in 1995 to just over 6% by 2007

– Canada ran a budget surplus every year from 1998 to 2007

– Marginal tax rates very similar on individuals (27% USA, 31% Canada)

– Corporate tax rates better in Canada (Federal/Provincial) ~26%  vs USA (Federal) 35% + State Corp tax of 0 – 4%

Here is the fun chart. Please remember that Canada’s economy is tied VERY closely to the USA one.

While both economies were hit hard by the recession, the fallout and the result of it all didn’t hit Canada nearly as hard. We are also leveling off the up curve really well.

I know it’s far more complicated than just posting fancy charts, etc. My point here is that a ‘socialist’ country that provides universal health care and other expensive social programs with similar/lower taxation than our close friends south of the border can clean up their mess, the USA should be able too to.

Of course, it depends on if the political system will allow it to. Good luck my friends, and please remember that your friends up north and other good chunks of the world have figured this out before. Call if you need help.

 

Feast or Famine

Going to a new blogging style. The exciting ‘when I can/feel like it’. When I blogged regularly I blogged pretty hard, 3+ posts a week, keeping on top of current events and all the “excitement”. I took an extended break once, and in the same breadth kept lurking and reading my favorites without posting. I haven’t posted since December and plan on making it more regular (without any firm commitments!)

Now I’ll just have the odd meal, enjoy the writing part, and keep blogging for no ulterior purpose but to enjoy myself on much needed breaks.

So, what have I been up to gaming wise?

a) I broke my EA holdout 10 months after it started while in a gaming funk, and bought Dragons Age 2 on sale. As reviewed by others I was a bit dissappointed when compared to the first.

b) Long after Cataclysm was released, I did my WoW dance once again, enjoyed it for what it is, then left when all I could do was done. Un-subbed prior to 4.1 with little interest returning. Maybe next expansion for a 3 month ride to remind myself why I unsubbed in the first place =)

c) Played more of Minecraft – although given up on creating something completely awesome, I am strip mining to hollow out under the world but making all resources renewable – anything I take from the ground I have to reuse above ground. Will someday end up with a rediculous cavern underground and floating islands in the sky. It’s definitely Zen grinding down blocks then finding uses for them elsewhere

d) Played Rift until level 15, quit, much for the same uninspiring reasons the current-gen MMO mechanics I often lament

e) Trialed AION for the free 20 levels, enjoyed myself a bit, not buying.

f) Less excited than ever about SWTOR and their marketing giganticnous of the title, and looking forward to not buying it on release while waiting for the reviews to pour in from trusted like minded bloggers. I still expect to play it someday as I am a fan of the DA/ME conversation wheel choices, but everything I have read about it from the CE backward has me in pure holdout mode.

Work wise we are expanding into Asian and South American countries, so that has been interesting and exciting. My family and I (odd to make the distinction, heh) are moving this week to a new home 7 hours away for work.

How have you been? =)

Lambs to The Slaughter

After reading the comments of SWTOR’s latest QA from Friday, I noticed a couple of things:

  • Seems to be a lot of MMO rookies following this closely
  • There will be major disappointment for those rookies

Some random ones, amid the rabid fanboyism:

Can you imagine a small smuggler ship entering in Coruscant atmosphere with two passengers(you and your companion) hidden in secret compartments?

and republic soldiers (another plays) searching for illegal stuffs in that ship?

Sorry, Poster 345. You can’t imagine it. The Quest designer can though, and rest assured with that cool move, you and 4 million other characters will get to experience it!

This game is being build at such a grand scale… something i’ve never seen before. The dev teams deserve a monthly fee. Just look at their work O_o
You can just stand in AWE, gazing upon it’s greatness.

I too hope you can jump from the highest skyscraper and just dive for a couple of minutes.

Sure, if it’s scripted!

I’m pretty sure the heroic flashpoints will be different than we’ve seen in other games. Instead of like in WoW where they’re the regular dungeons that are repeated, but are more difficult. In ToR, I see it being entire brand new flashpoints with end-game in mind. By this I mean that they will still focus on story, but in a different way, so that they are repeatable and don’t feel like you’re playing the same story over and over

Not commenting.

I don’t get why they don’t let any faction visit any planet. I would understand barring the starter planets cause of the PvP servers, but places like corusaunt. They keep saying they want to make it like in the movies and books, well darth zannah went to corusant to the jedi temple itself and she was not the only sith to ever visit the place. Bunch of bounty hunters go to the repulic capital also to find work

So the content is fresh when you decide to try a different side. I mean, why could players go to any planet they want? That’s what rails are for!

I’m a bit disappointed that their are multiple servers… I like the entire “One Server” where your name can be heard and known by all, and your choices effect the game as a whole, not just your server… By the way, I’ve been wondering, to what extend is this “Your choices make a difference in the game” go to? Do your choices only effect immediate characters, like the captain, or do you capture worlds, defeat leaders, etc that die once, and EVERYONE’s story is different…? I don’t doubt it’ll be a great game either way, but it would be cool if one player’s choices could effect another on the other side of the galaxy…

Dare to dream, random poster, dare to dream. World impact is left for single player games.

Now, I used to be guilty of the same hopes and dreams when new games were announced and discussed. Most gamers have an active imagination, which is handy to have when playing in fantasy worlds. Just skimming the contents there are going to be a lot of disappointed people. I do think TOR will be successful, but really – take WoW, skin it as star wars, add in voice overs, and that is the crux of what you are going to get. The core gameplay will still be on rails, repeatable content.

Still may be awesome, but the fantastical quotes made me sign in nostalgia.

The Sandbox Knows No Bounds

Interesting thread over on the Project Reality forums about putting together a Minecraft Tournament.

The PR community is a war inspired bunch, their hobby being tactical shooter games. A lot of the forum members are members of the military as well (although not exclusively) and in the Politics sub forum there is a lot of chatter on engagements around the world, discussions of various armies, etc.

With that in mind, I was a bit surprised to see the Minecraft tournament suggestion (yet equally delighted). The short premise being discussed: Two teams on a big Minecraft map, both sides get two hours to build whatever they want, and then they go to war. No respawns, either. One side wins, one is decimated.

I didn’t expect MC to be a hit with the gamers in that community, and here is yet another way to enjoy the game in a manner I didn’t think it would be used for. I am definitely signing up and I’ll let you know how it goes (if it goes down).

Goes to show, if you (let them) build it, they will come.

Avoiding Disasters

Including Cataclysm.

A part of me was actually hoping I would have interest to buy the expansion, and based off the generaly quietness of blognation I may be in the minority. Although, the things the bloggers have turned out seem to be a lot of ‘content is almost done, when is the next expansion’ fun little remarks.

Quoting our good friend Syp here, when talking about a game that has all the things our MMO’s don’t:

One Chance made me think a lot about the choices we make in MMOs, and how few of them are (a) permanent, (b) impactful, and (c) meaningful

Will change ‘few’ to ‘none’ (in game decisions, anyway. I suppose our choice of guild can contain all three).

I’ve been only playing Project Reality. It’s pure awesome.

Project Reality 0.95

I wrote a bit about Project Reality when 0.8 was released as it was my first experience with it. After my gaming break I recently rebooted up the franchise in it’s 0.95 version. This Battlefield 2 mod does so much right for my gaming style and in general, that I want to share, promote, hug it, and force all of my Call of Duty/bunny hopping/Medal of Honor/dolphin diving friends to play it. And appreciate it.

You won't survive long without friends.

A bit of history – the mod is created by Black Sand Studios, which is a group of FPS enthusiasts who decided to improve the realism level of  Battlefield 2 way back in 2004. They do a lot of modding of various titles but Project Reality is their flagship. It is one of those ‘labour of love’ projects, as the mod is free to the community.

In the most simplest of comparisons, PR is EQ if Call Of Duty is WoW. That’s not meant to scare you off – there isn’t progression in PR (it’s a 64 multiplayer map game) but strip down all the silly from what we get in new FPS titles, and all the fluff that detracts from the experience, and you have the most solid core gameplay for any FPS out there with depth, consequence, reward and decision making that is sadly absent in the FPS of 2010.

More PR goodness after the break.

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How Not to Blog

Sorry, Peter Moore, your “blog” is a pretty big embarrassment.

I was surfing EA sites to find anyplace to complain that they stopped their major sports title development for the PC. Yes, I have complained about it a couple times already. I really want to play some football.

1) Most of the comments on that blog post I redirected you to is spam. I mean, Askimet is free. It blocks hundreds to my site a week. Even if your blogging software doesn’t have a spam checker, hire someone for minimum wage to keep an eye on it.

2) The posts that aren’t spam, are your customers who seem infuriated that you suggested the game you are blogging about is a big hit – their impression is complete trash. While that may not be the case you should probably address their issues.

There is no excuse for that level of an executive to not keep the blog clean. If you don’t want to manage it, turn off commenting. If you want it to be a place where you can connect and engage your customers, do so. If you want to start selling Gucci, Coach, and Ed Hardy knockoffs just leave it as is.

There is so much lazy and so much wrong with it. I am embarrassed for Mr. Moore and the EA brand. And I already don’t support your products anymore. (25 days and counting!)

Film Fund

Fun thing about being ‘successful’ and making contacts – I was asked, and agreed to, sit on a board of directors for a film fund.

I just signed back the paperwork today. It sat on my desk for a week, and to be honest movies aren’t any more of my forte than games – I have a lot to learn about the industry. I know they asked me for both my track record of raising funds, and my growing contact list – not my movie expertise. I think it will be a great learning experience and that I can bring some business experience to the group. I am probably most excited to get on the inside of another industry and learn the ins and outs.

It is as simple as it sounds – a group that raises money from investment sources to make movies. We raise funds, and find good projects to apply them to.

Give me a year and I’ll figure out how to get the group to put some funds towards gaming. =)

Nodding Wistfully – RMT, Gold Farming, and Jared.

Nodding Wistfully is a newer post-type here that has little content, but refers to a fellow blogger’s content that I either agree with strongly, or think is a very worthwhile read. Yes, I’ve only done two of them so far, but plan on continuing them!

PlayNoEvil has a great annotated video interview posted up that is an interesting watch/read. I just noticed that it’s from end of October, and sadly I missed it up when it was posted. It’s an interview with a Gold broker for the secondary market in MMO’s.

While I think there are ample opportunities for developers to harness the income from the secondary market, and/or design better ways to slow the practice in their online theme parks, it’s good ‘other side’ perspective content to consume. It’s 40 minutes long, so at bare minimum just read the annotated portion.

Quick note on Vindictus and what they do to stop/stem hacked accounts – when you log in from a new IP address you can’t do anything negative to your character for a short time period. Can’t sell things, can’t destroy items, and can’t use the mailbox. I thought this was a pretty interesting, non-invasive way to slow down account theft. Figured that is worth mentioning along with the theme of the above post.

Premium Market Position

While our MMO companies battle for the mainstream dollar, I can’t help but wonder if any are forward thinking to the premium dollar customers – or if that market even exists in the gaming world. In the simplest of comparisons think Price Chopper vs Whole Foods. The first provides basic food at cut rate prices. The second provides food that is better for you but costs a lot more. The first tends to be less clean, more crowded, and more basic. The second is a better overall shopping experience, if you are willing to pay for it. Even looking at their websites you get the impression of the difference in quality and the markets both are trying to capture.

I drive a Lexus. I don’t say that in any snooty way, or think that makes me special by any means. In fact, it barely cost more than the GM I drove before it. My experience with domestic car makers over the years has been a major let down on such a major purchase, and after getting a $1500 bill to repair my windshield wipers on my 2006 GM, I had had enough. While the entry price for the GM was more manageable (and I was supporting the local factory as well), every time I went into scheduled service after the warranty had run out it cost me an additional $500 to the aforementioned $1500. Beyond frustrated I did my research and bought the Lexus. I now have bumper to bumper warranty for 200,000 km, a safer, more comfortable drive, and something that will hold it’s value much better. Back to my GM for a second – it cost me $38,000 and was a 2006 model (with 128,000 km driven – yes, I drive a TON for work), and when I went to trade it in this year the black book value was $2500 – $5500. Compare that to my brother’s Toyota, that he has had for 9 years, has 300,000 km on it – still holding a black book value of $16,000.

Oooh, shiny!

Last car point before back to gaming – I drove over a nail on the highway two weeks ago, and was awful nervous what it was going to cost me to replace that tire (Pirelli). When I took it into Lexus for service they informed me my tires were covered for 36 months, and I got the tire replaced for free. I was very happy with this – afterall, the tire didnt fail from the manufacturer, neither they or myself could have controlled how that nail ended up on the highway at the point I was bombing down the highway. That surprised value has created a definite customer loyalty and satisfaction I haven’t had in my lifetime of owning domestic vehicles.

The point of talking about grocery stores and cars is to illustrate the point that as a consumer I will pay for value. My wife will argue that I am actually ‘cheap’, although I argue I just hate throwing money away. Investing in something that holds extra value isn’t cheap to me, its sensisble consumerism.

Most industries work this way. There is always a more expensive version of whatever you own, and savvy companies capitalize on this through branding and value and make their profits on margin vs units sold. In the gaming sphere, am I alone in saying that I would pay more for a better experience?

Easy gaming examples – I would pay more for WoW for an adult only server with extra features (with housing, for example). The server would most likely be less populated which would allow for housing in the first place. Other features that would be worth paying for for me including removing mechanics that artificially elongate content (dungeon lockouts, dailies, etc) and additional customization options. Blizzard has those items flagged as things that don’t add value to their current subscriber base, so they don’t allocate their scarce resources to build on them. They may be fluffy examples, but I would pay more for them. There are better ways to build the premium product, but those are just off the cuff.

In a gaming world where companies are going the other way – where they are easing entry barriers and going Wal-Mart in design instead of Boutique, surely a company out there can recognize that by making a better game they can position themselves not as ‘niche’, but ‘premium’. It makes the most sense for an existing company to build on their existing success to test this market. Back to cars, Toyota owns Lexus. They have thier base affordable car for the ‘masses’ but have that premium option. They sell far more cars branded Toyota than Lexus, but Lexus is very profitiable – because they build up from their base models and offer more. It takes far less effort to enhance the basic offering as the guts and basics are already there.

Instead of not paying $15 a month right now for a shallow and basic gaming experience, I’m willing to pay more to get something better. I would be surprised if there isn’t a growing consumer base willing to do so – when I started gaming the monthly sub was a lot to swallow, but as I matured and became more gainfully employed games didn’t grow in the same way. I bet that many people who grew up in the MMO marketplace are in the same position as I am – and are ready to invest in a premium MMO if so designed.

Bioware’s New Game is Shattered Steel (probably).

A lot of speculation out there, but here’s a visual cue on why it is probably a remake of Shattered Steel.

Capture from the video

That’s not a building, its a cockpit

See those two, round black bulb things above his head (and to the left?) He’s not shooting out of a window, he’s shooting out of a cockpit.

Oh look at this high rez screen from ages ago.

Either a complete coincidence, or nifty stuff.

EA probably heard I have banned myself from their products, and this is their clever way to get me back. I love giant robots.

More Proof of the Decline of Western Civilization

Stolen directly from Gregg Easterbrook of Tuesday Morning Quarterback (TMQ). The Zubon of the football world (meant as a compliment). And yes, it is game related.

Not only did huge numbers of people buy the latest “Call of Duty” video game — which allows you to play the role of Richard Nixon killing zombies — but Jeep announced a Call of Duty edition of its Wrangler model, to be released next month. Jeep is owned by Chrysler, which received a $8 billion federal bailout. Please don’t tell me tax money is being forcibly removed from our pockets to subsidize a car themed for a video game.

Ha.