Author Archive: Isey

The Prodigal Son Returns. Or Something. (Hint: It’s Something)

Fisdib reappeared in Ak’Anon on a quiet winter’s day. It was a momentus occasion! I was exhilarated! I was excited to visit memory lane! I was excited to experience the changes!

I was lost.

Of course, now there is a map function (which is VERY handy) but I completely forgot how big Ak’Anon was. Within minutes, things started feeling familiar. I remembered things, recognized NPC’s, areas.. it was like going back for your high school reunion. No one looked as good as I had remembered, and felt like I was tripping over my own feet often, but it was just as I had remembered it. I’m going to spare you the screenshots. They do look terrible.

I went outside and while Bhagpuss had mentioned they had redone Steamfont Mountains but it still seemed familiar. The big gully to the left (where a rat first killed me) – the kobold camps over yonder. I killed a few skeletons to get my bearings and logged off. I don’t know how to inspect items that I loot to see if they are upgrades! Annoying that a mouse hover only lists its name. Anyway, I’ll sort it out. Racing to level four to get my pet (assuming they still come at level 4…) and random thoughts!

  • 4 levels for spell upgrades – I can’t remember ever having to wait that long for anything in current MMO land – I feel like I am being punished. [note sarcasm]
  • I am afraid to go anywhere in the zone at level 3. I mean, I don’t know what is out there and where it is (and isn’t) safe. I am looking forward to exploring once I get a pet I can sacrifice.
  • I feel like I am getting a LOT more loot in a starter zone than the ‘good old days’ – is that true?
  • My guild still exists (I know this because my main is still in it) yet no one has logged in in a long time – still fun to see the tag though!
  • Quick easy entry to Plane of Knowledge right outside the city. Definitely don’t remember that =)

This will be a fun distraction while I wait for EQN:L closed beta and will be fun to line up experiences with memories – especially to learn how the game has changed versus how I remember it. I am really excited to kill me some minotaurs in that mino cave though, and relive the long, winding trek to Qeynos by foot from the zone. It’s like a pilgrimage for me. There is probably an easy port somewhere but not for this Gnome. I want to time the sucker.

Nostalgia just feels good sometimes. In short, controlled bursts.

Quick update here – I had started this post, didn’t finish, but kept playing. So now instead of making a whole new post I am just going to add some additional thoughts here at the bottom. So this is PART 2!

I am disappointed they took away all challenge at the early levels. Sure, fighting a higher con enemy should be tough but they took away linked mobs! So now do I not only have a mercenary to help ease the pain (which is nice as a solo player facing EQ) but unlinking mobs that OBVIOUSLY should be linked? I got to 4 and my smorgasbord of spells. I was excited! Now I could split the kobold camps with my pet and I even have a mercenary tank to also protect me. I remember this part always being a challenge in old EQ, but was looking forward to a challenge. MMO starting lands are challenge-less. Completely devoid So I was excited to actually have to fight hard on something.

I carefully clear the Kobolds around the camp, the solo ones around the trees and I get ready for the 3 pull around the fire. I have it planned out that I’ll send the merc on one, the pet on another, and I’ll take one straight up and should be able to get them down with enough spacing that subsequent pulls are easy. The pet and the Merc will hold the extra aggro and aren’t strong enough to kill them – and I will drop one by one. Splitting tough camps is an art form! The mobs con yellow but with three of us (me and two pets) I feel I can handle it. I cast burn and am about to send in the pet and merc when I notice it – the other two don’t come. I sit beside the fire killing the 7 kobolds (3 by the fire, 4 in tents) one by one, as they all just watch from two feet away.

And I feel un-immersed. bah. Disappointed even.

Look, I get it. They made it easier because of the entry level roadblocks to new players in an MMO world devoid of challenge (but full of achievements). The fact that they are still around and expanding after all these years is amazing – and the fact that I left as a regular player in the early 2000s probably means I shouldn’t complain. It did take away the enjoyment I was having of reintroducing myself to the game, and that is a fair observation.

Tigers, stripes, all that. Out the window!

 

 

My Influential 15

One of my favorite blogs to visit is The Ancient Gaming Noob (TAGN) and he recently posted an Influential 15  list – started by another blogger and other sites are also playing along. The parts I read indicated not too many rules, but just do not overthink it – only take 15 minutes, and list them out.

This sounds like fun. I am going in chronological order!

Mario Bros (arcade) (1985)

I spent most of my allowance money playing this game with two of my best friends at the local bowling alley. It was close enough to our school that we could run there at lunch breaks, and always went right after school as well – but just for 20 minutes before racing home. This introduced me to the side scrolling platform [honorable mentions: Ghost and Goblins, Castlevania, Bionic Commando]

Hardball (c64) (1987)

Two teams – the red, power hitting team and the blue, speedy team. That was it in this baseball game. My brother and I played for hours at home – nice to not have to be at the arcade. (I always got stuck with the blue team). [Honorable mention: Madden (I still buy it every few years]

Police Quest (PC) (1987)

My first foray into the Sierra games series (King’s quest, Space Quest, etc.) and it was always a weekend event at one of my friend’s houses who had it. I think it took us 6 months to complete, since we only had limited weekend time (we mostly played outside – kids those days!)[honorable mention – Maniac Mansion]

Street Fighter (Arcade, SNES) (1987)

Another arcade favorite the one on one bragging rights was a blast. Learning the combos, fighting friends (and arcade enemies) for the right to stay on the machine for the next challenger… flipping a coin for the left or right hand side. All sorts of home field advantages. [Honorable mention: Mortal Combat]

Star control 2 (PC) (1992)

Exploration, adventure, discovery. Space. Has anyone come close since? I am avoiding throwing my money at Star Citizen yet watching it closely. That is a completely separate blog post. [Honorable Mention: Wing Commander. If only for the space.]

Doom (PC) (1993)

We had huge contests at university with Doom – inter dorm rivalries. My philosophy class suffered fiercely. I made a philosophical argument about augmented reality to the prof and he BFG’d me. University was so cool. [Honorable mention: Half Life]

NHL 94 (SEGA) (1993)

Oh Sega hockey, with the one move that would score 100% of the time.. that was up to you do defend properly. Both ends of the rink, there was that ONE move. Yet it was still awesome. Plus bleeding heads.

X com (PC) (1994)

Turn based mastery. This is on many ‘best of ever” lists, so not going to explain its full awesome-ness. Many have explained it better than I ever could. Xcom is the perfect example of a game you loved but refuse to play it again. I have it through steam. It sucked to relive it – but awesome the first time around. We are not conditioned to accept failing the first X missions before we have a chance. (see what I did there?) [Honorable mention – Civ 1 – bit of a stretch, but very turn based]

Baldur’s Gate (PC) (1998)

I had played a lot of Pen and Paper games and this one reminded me the most of them. I hadn’t played a lot of D&D at the time  and this was my first real foray and experience into that. I don’t even remember if I won or what happened in the game – I just remember the hours spent hunched in the darkness… in amazement. Just one more encounter. One more.

Rainbow Six (PC) (1998)

The AI could be buggy as hell when you were planning your rescues, but this was an AMAZING shooter – one shot and you are dead, get caught/spotted and the hostages are dead. Great premise and superbly executed at the time. You could do many missions in many different ways and had the choice of your own path. The planning and thinking part was as exciting for me as the executions. And oh yes, permadeath! [Honorable mention: Counter Strike]

Everquest (PC) (1999)

The MMO game changer that has spawned 100 clones, for better or for worse (often better, jaded vets may argue worse. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It was awesome and really kickstarted the genre.) It has ruined MMOs for me since, but that is also because of the testserver play environment (hint: community). The rose colored glasses often adorned!

Sims (PC) (2000)

Sims the original was the first game that I could get my girlfriends to play. And my non-gaming roommates. It was the first time I realized games could be for everyone. Then I invented the Wii. (or should have, at least). All that being said, I am pretty sure the things my girlfriend at the time did to the Sims (or tried to do) made me realize that maybe she wasn’t the one. Sicko. May have saved my life.

Dark Age of Camelot (PC) (2001)

My second MMO I played the heck out of and my first real PVP experience was also amazing. I also played on the testserver (Pendragon) and the strength of the community there really improved the overall experience. Sadly, game developers have learned that test servers make bad for the quick hitting types of testing they want with enough sample size, and they don’t really exist anymore. The lesson they should have learned is that smaller, more dedicated communities make for stronger ties. Another post. DAOC taught me to embrace PVP and how humans always beat AI on experience – always.

World of Warcraft (PC) (2004)

What to say? The most successful MMO ever made took an inaccessible genre and made it easy for everyone to participate. While I have spent my fair share of time arguing WoW has hurt the MMO space in many ways, you cannot argue against its influence. I still go back every expansion, do the theme park rides, /hug and /hi to my friends still playing, and then out again.  I think the next MMO Blizzard makes is going to say a lot about what they have learned from WoW. I’m intrigued.

Battlefield 2142 (PC) (2006)

The multiplayer FPS I judge all other FPSs against. It was great. It was better than great – it was awesome. The kits, the vehicles, everything. COD always felt too twitchy and gamey in comparison (even the DICE successors did) and I started playing more strategic, slower paced shooters afterwards. BF2142 was just the perfect balance for *me*. [Honorable Mention: Project Reality]

That’s It!

There is my list! Crazy, and a *bit* sad that the most recent game launch on my list is 8 years old already, but influence is influence. As I re-read this there were a few I wanted to add (RTS such as Warcraft -or- Command & Conquer) but I decided to keep it pure – the ones that spoke to me first. I’m sure as I read through other’s lists I’ll have many an “aha!” moment. I hope mine brought along some positive smiles and memories!

EQN Landmark – 4 Extra Closed Beta Keys

First off – check out these amazing player creations already – amazing work by EQN:L Trailblazers! Imagine a sandbox world filled with those….

Alpha is ending, and while I haven’t been playing as much (here comes the wipe!) I definitely will be rebuilding and trying again when Beta starts.

Here is the good news – as a Trailblazer, I have FOUR unlimited access beta keys to give away (that I will have around March 26th). If you are interested in one, post in the comments below, I’ll randomize them off and email them to the email address (that I can only see) in the comments section – or figure out how to get them too you without sharing your info with the world =)

Simply post why you want one – although your answer will have no bearing on receiving. Will be a random draw -curious if I even get four people Tesh? you interested? =)

 

What Is In a Name?

One of my first AHA! (and simply HA!) moments with Everquest was in their Guide program and how the EQ name filter worked.

The name filter was manual. Every guide on at the time would get a popup box asking if the proposed name was suitable – and guides simply clicked “yes” or “no”. This lead to some pretty hilarious interactions as you might guess, as people try to “beat” the name filter.

  • “GiantShlong” [no]
  • “BigSchlong” [no]
  • “Big5chlong” [no]
  • “BigSchlOng” [no]
  • “LittleDong” [yes]

Kidding on the last one, although that would had been a frustrating outcome for a guy trying to explain his manhood size via a pixelated avatar. Eventually, the guy would choose “Mehlan” or something such as that and get the big “yes”.

This was a little bit like Whack-a-mole as you only had X number of seconds (10 I think?) to say yes or no. If you missed the 10 seconds it was an automatic yes, and if you said no, it went into an automatic deny filter for future dong-size-exlaimers (and such.) So in essence we were building a name filter one click at a time. This wander down memory lane leads me to contemplate further on names – my in game names in particular.

My very first EQ character was Fisdib – complements of the name generator. The memories I have with Fisdib defined to me, what an online world was. Mystery, intrigue, learning, exploration – oh, the exploration. Hell, I remember in EQ beta being the first gnome people in Qeynos ever saw. It wasn’t easy to cross continents back then. Fisdib died when the beta ended – I was accepted into the EQ Guide program and recreated a gnome, Stalbik, to be the avatar supporting EQ gamers and EQ brass. It was a lot of fun.

When I gave up guiding I couldn’t just be a regular player and was drawn to supporting EQ through the test server. Zraka was another name creator (so good back then!) and I settled in strong on Trolls but wanted to tank.

Braack was born. My EQ main. Last name was torn between BigMacAttack or Baacaarat. Wisers head prevailed and I went with the latter. I also went with Braack in WoW as my first character. Other names I have used often in my MMO career is Briike (an alt, just a play on Braack) Bleyzn (several games – DAOC and EQ to WoW – last name Saddle (I know, hipster creative!))

Most of my WoW raiding career was as Couchon (Pig en Francais) which fit a shapeshifting elf somehow. Of course, my American friends just called me Couch, and Ottoman, and other furniture items. I was a guildleader as Couchon and that is what I am best known as in good old WoW. After moving druid-dom to alt status, Isey was my Enhance/Healing Shaman and my class of choice. I also love tanking on my Pally – but only 5 mans. Sad – I don’t even remember my Paladin’s name! (and not resubbing to find out for you).

Poivre, (Pepper en francais) is my typical handle on FPS games. Seargeant Pepper. No one ever gets that. I am too old.

As the games change and the people I play with and around change I still tend to stick to the same names – and its often fun when you get a whisper “are you Braack from EQ?” -or- “Are you Couchon from WoW?” often followed by CHEERS and I am [insert name] from [insert game]  – and its great, in this global community, to run into people that way. That is like saying “Oh, I have a cousin in China. Do you know them?”

I’m curious if other people stick to same naming conventions and/or have their favorites they stick with. How do you approach your handles in games?

[off to EQ testserver to recreate Fisdib..]

 

 

The Pain and Suffering of EQ (Happy Birthday!)

Makes it memorable for us old MMOers. The dying breed. Consider this story from the EQ boards:

Unrest was and might still be one of my very favorite places in the entire game.  I had SO much fun there back in the day that even when I should have been far, far away I was still in the basement grinding lt.blues because I just didn’t want to leave.  My Rogue became “Uber” for the first time there with his bloodstained mantle, tunic, Dwarven Work Boots and Jagged Band.  I made good friends there, several of whom I keep in touch with to this very day although they haven’t played in years.  It was a true bonding experience.  No PoK or Nexus in those days.  We had to walk all the way from Qeynos to Freeport dodging Giants and Bandits and all manner of Griffs and other nasty things.  We trod through Highpass and then, after racing past the Orcs and Gnolls, we emerged into the dreaded Kithicor,  Everyone died but my rogue who dragged his friends corpses to the commonlands ZL where they looted and we continued on our way.  Then on to Freeport, boats, islands, more boats, into Butcherblock, Dagnor’s Cauldron with more nasty things to dodge and then, at long last, the Estate of Unrest.  Just getting there was epic in and of it’s self.  It took us all friday night after work, and most of saturday and sunday as well.  We bound at the entrance and stayed there.  We started the trek in single digits and emerged as mighty twenty somethings.  To this day the entire journey to and final departure from the Estate of Unrest colors the glass through which I see the game of Everquest.

Mack

Most EQ players have those stories. I won’t rehash mine (but parts of it is linked in the post below from the good old days!) but needless to say everyone who recalls what was good about EQ recalls something challenging, unavoidable, or painful – and how they overcame it with friends and/or random strangers. Community of course is the word, and not the same kind we are building these days. And that is also ok, because our sense of community with Facebook and Global connections has also changed. Uphill both ways, so to speak.

I am a terrible boyfriend of EQ. The last time I remembered to wish her Happy Birthday was in 2009. Regardless, she will always love me back as long as I log in. And she doesn’t even want presents anymore, just attention. So once again, on her birthday, and say thank you to how EQ shaped my life (online – and a bit otherwise too) and glad she is still out there being her.

I’ll visit soon.

Quote of The Century

I try not to blog about politics (so polarizing!) on a video game blog, but still, this is the best quote EVER and completely encompasses all that is wrong with politics.

“disparaging statements about one’s opponent (whether true, mostly true, mostly not true, or entirely fantastic) are cornerstones of American democracy.”

It gets better, albeit comical (the first part, I assure you, they mean!)

After all, he asks, “where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners…who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America”, while “Republicans [are] assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation.”

Sadly, it is to quash an Ohio law that prohibits politicians from lying, and of course, people are taking it to court because lying is part of the first amendment.

Too bad none of the constitution worries about the truth.

Original source.

 

Askimet Showing Cracks?

Askimet has been a great, free, spam stopper on this blog since I started it in 2008. In fact, it has stopped 62,479 comments from being spam. (which is ~62x the REAL comments I have received!)

Lately I am squashing spam comments that are sneaking through – and I have rarely ever had to do that. Is anyone else noticing this as a trend, or am I just going through a string of bad luck?

I’m very thankful and mostly just curious if there is something else I should be doing.

 

 

Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To Kill Evil..

.. I started having fun in Diablo three.

There are three clear reasons (ironically!)

1) The 50%+ EXP boost. I gained more levels (in one day) then I did in all my prior hours of play sessions when the game first launched. With a game that scales with levels.. who cares how slow you gain? This meant I received new skills faster and had a nice pace to improving (and having fun).

2) Loot is fixed. The 2.01 patch took away what was arguable the worst inventory management system created for a loot piñata style game. My prior playthroughs I had to constantly return to town to see what was worth keeping from the piles of loot I had (and unified storage). I get it- they MADE it that way so you could sell/buy and do real money transactions. We all know that failed and they removed it, but you could tell when it launched they were gating the thing that made Diablo 1 and 2 awesome in the first place. Finding cool loot. I got a legendary on my first day playing (something I didn’t get in a month of playing when it launched)

3) IT feels better. Things are smoother (always on is still on.. *blargh*) but the game just runs better and it makes for a better gaming experience.

I find it amazing that when games are made with the gamers in mind (instead of monetization) how they instantly become better.

 

Dry Spells and Random Stuffs

This happens to me often with gaming – I hit dry spells.

This occurs when life gets too busy and/or games get a bit dry for me. Thankfully, right now I am in the former – just busy. This, in turn, makes blogging more challenging because if you aren’t playing then there’s not much to talk about. And if you do have time you would rather be playing instead of writing about it.

We call these, “first world problems”.

I’m 25 rubicite away from the final crafting upgrade in EQN:L and its probably a solid 3 hour burn/zengrind. Excitedly, there is a patch on Thursday that promises new biomes – SNOW! I love the outdoors and my favorite backdrop is a lake, but also love winter sports/shenanigans so hey, I’ll take a frozen lake and snow. This raises a couple quick conundrums.

One is that I like my claim, and where I am. There is a ton to do with it and we are only a couple patches away from claim expansions which makes it a whole new world for building. My good friend Mehlan has joined the game and claimed beside me so logging in now I find him there, waddling away, so I can say hi and hang out. So for those two reasons alone, not moving.

The second is hopefully they have meaningful seasons – has any game? I don’t recall. Why can’t I have my lakeside cottage.. and winter wonderland for half the time? Something tells me to add that to the “captain obvious yet awesome” list of what would make the same-old MMO the new-awesome MMO. (See: combat mechanics, leveling mechanics, endgame content, equipment issues . etc.)

Oh, EQN:L tip if you are feeling lonesome, /join general (chat) – people are connecting there and always a stream of chatter. Makes the nights fly by.

I’m starting to wonder if I really am done entirely with World of Warcraft – usually I play out the expansion to the end but the daily grind of the uh, daily grind quests of MoP had me leaving early in the expansion. Now I feel less connected to WoW than ever and I wonder if that slide means the end and no Warlords of Draenor for me. My friends still play and I miss their chatter (and envy their dedication).

I didn’t get far in Diablo III – level 20 I think? Before I realized this game wasn’t as fun as the first two. The potion chugging loot-fest just got boring fast. I heard there have been some nice changes so I may check it out again. I did pay for it, after all. Something tells me I may like the Crusader class but there better be a trial or something – not shelling out more for a game that didn’t capture me in the first place.

Speaking of games I didn’t finish/start, GW2. Level 37 was my breaking point. I read a lot of bloggers who love it but I now feel I am so far behind the story that I missed out on the game. Is that the danger of too many updates?

I was >< that close to becoming a LOTRO blog for a while and even queued up the Warden (after much bitching about it) but alas, right now its EQN:L or bust. And bust it is.

Again, the worries and problems of a modern day adult gamer. Too much to do, not as much time to do it. Somehow manage to blog about it though.

Corporate Governance

This sat in drafts and I never got around to finishing it. Now the info is really outdated, but still – wanted to talk about companies that make games really briefly.

First, we have this nice reminder of EA being voted worst company to work for (again)

Then, we have FUNCOM being raided for suspected wrongdoings

Add in a whole bunch of short-term stock thinking, churn and burn/crunchtime production mentality and man, I can’t help but think:

Is it really a surprise we get crappy games?

Then I read this gem from over at Valve – their awesome employee handbook

And this – the Bteam website

Is Corporate (North) America ready for an epic showdown? Is it all coming to a head as hard working humans reject that they need to be taken advantage of to earn a living?

Can we have purpose AND profits?

(side note: go read Tony Hsieh – Delivering Happiness)

Hopes and Dreams and Tools

Could EQN:L lead to a full blown platform to make our own games? While I don’t think so, I like to be positive and for a change think “why not”.

Very blue ocean thinking but take Landmark, add in Story Bricks, and an item editor\creator and quest builder and voilà – you have many tools to make custom MMOs. From my understanding not much programming is needed. The world building tools alone in EQN:L have proven that even I could build simple town assets or landscapes that players could traverse. Programmers are making the tools better all the time, lets make them great, add some scripting and unleash the collective MMOspace’s imagination.

I‘d bet we’d finally start seeing the games we want.

The best FPS I have played was community created with Project Reality (by Black Sand Studios) who have literally spent YEARS working for free, in a community across the globe in partnership. Graphics, scripting, game modes – everything!They have produced the best paced, most realistic shooter on a 10 year old engine. Rumor has it this effort will lead to a standalone title – I wish them the best and hope it happens. It has won many modding awards. Imagine if they had even better tools than were available for that old game (Battlefield 2)

Take MMO/World Building tools, and unleash them to the world. You know collectively gamers would come up with something incredible. The landscapes some alpha players have created in EQN:L rival those in published games I have played. Human beings have a desire for art, sharing, and collaboration – all things needed to create a true next gen MMO. Many would share their talents just to get creative license and experience on a project – which could lead to bigger and better things.

We crowdsource funding, why not crowdsource talent? Zooppa does this for companies. Instead of getting one solid idea from an advertising company that has been institutionalized, throw it out to the passionate creators on the planet. Put in an incentive, and watch the magic unleash. The proliferation of cheap HD cameras, computers, and editing software has pushed this renaissance – the tools. Are we really that far off?

Heck, we can build immersive, amazing games on 24 hour contests imagine what we could do with months or years. I believe all of us have a game – or part of a game – to share. Together we could make that a reality – if we only had the tools.

How could a publisher benefit? Many ways. Way back in 2008 I was arguing for different revenue models that could be beneficial for both player and developer. Licensing, % of sales, buying and selling of the creative content itself – EQN:L is building a model to support this already. Picture it on a bigger, grander scale.

Having a glass is half full kind of thought train here. I’ll return to regularly scheduled pessimism shortly.

 

I Still Can’t Build

.. but I am having a lot of fun trying. Some shots of my “progress”

A hole you say? Yes. I was able to craft dynamite and threw 10 sticks (one by one) in a single spot. Explosives could end up being a lot of fun in this game. They need to tune it so its more random on the explosions – its  pretty perfect cylinder down.

Starting to take shape. I ended up taking out the bottom one and moving it up more to top of the mountain. Still not really a dragon’s head, but obviously something with a mouth (obvious, right? RIGHT?)

Distressing and aging rock will be an art form. I did mention my art ability…

The fire doesn’t show well. I did fire nostrils and the fire in his throat is actually from the fireplace in the house. Except I can’t get a picture of either from front on right now (will need to build scaffolding..) its the angle of everything.

I am just putting this in for the lighting/shadows effects. They are really well done.

I am no where near getting this done or near some really, really amazing pieces of works that pros are pulling out in Alpha but its fun and I feel like I am learning the tools, and getting better. I farmed out most of the top end stations and items in the game so its kind of “hurry up and wait”. All you can do is build and harvest. Soon, they’ll add water, and underground caverns (etc.) which will then really bring the game to life.

I’ll stop posting pictures unless I really get it together – go check out some amazing ones. It has been fun seeing other’s create and learn to create as well and I’ll start posting less on pictures and more on gameplay, looking ahead, etc.

Soft Posts

I have been travelling for work the past couple of weeks (and doing so until this weekend) so I haven’t been working on my masterpiece (*cough cough*) in EQN:Landmark. And I am missing the game.

My travel PC is a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and as I have mentioned in the recent past, I love the unit. Its awesome on planes, the battery life is amazing, and I have adopted the pen input to take over what I would have used to have used my mouse for. It’s a great machine. Bit pricey, but huge fan.

Problem? Integrated graphics. The stats on a MS Pro 2 are actually pretty beefy:

Surface Pro 2

Technical Specifications

  • Software
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Exterior
  • Dimensions: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 in
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Casing: VaporMg
  • Color: Dark Titanium
  • Physical buttons: Volume, Power
  • Storage* & Memory
  • 64/128GB     256/512GB
  • ————————–
  • 4GB RAM      8GB RAM
  • Display
  • Screen: 10.6 inch ClearType Full HD Display
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (widescreen)
  • Touch: 10-point multi-touch
  • Durable display
  • CPU & Wireless
  • 4th generation Intel® Core i5 Processor
  • TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology

I am not telling you all of this because I get a cut – I am actually telling you about it because by all accounts, this game should play EQN: Landmark but it doesn’t – some texture issue that everything above ground (props) render nicely, and I get great FPS but the VOXELS textures all come up black – so hard/impossible to build, impossible to mine/collect (anything but trees).

I am SUPER excited for when they fix this (they say they are) because I am looking forward to drawing my building items. The pen input and EQN:L should be a nice match made in heaven.

The building bug has hit me and it reminds me of a story we use in our business discussions.

Three bricklayers are all working on a site. A man walks up and asks the first one:

“What are you doing?”

He answers “laying bricks”

He asks the second man – “What are YOU doing?”

He answers “building a wall”

He approaches the third man, who is working with a big smile on his face – “And what are you doing?”

He responds

“I am building a cathedral”

Go build cathedrals. Its all about perspective.

Measuring The Same Thing Two Ways

Interesting observation as I was travelling through the USA and watching Olympic coverage.

Canada counts good medals as the ultimate qualifier (odd considering their demeanor) for medal standings. Most gold medals is first, if tied use silver as a tie breaker and then bronze as the “rubber match”.

A country with just 15 gold medals is better than a country with 14 gold, 10 silver, 4 bronze.

USA evaluates by number of total medals. Each is worth the same. If you have 40 bronze you are better than a country with 39 gold.

Guess which country had the most of what last Olympics in Vancouver.

They should talk it out and come to a fair compromise – 3 points for a gold, 2 points for a silver, 1 for a bronze. I’m sure whoever would “win” under that setup would agree to that!

Neither will and the debate continues. Canada will claim whoever has the most gold medals  is the Country who won the Olympics and the USA will claim most medals is. That will probably stay the same unless the USA gets the most gold medals (they have used this argument in Summer Olympics) or Canada actually becomes a sporting dominance outside of hockey.

Information is only useful when used properly. That “properly” is hard to define. How about “when used without prejudice or dishonest intent without personal or representative regard”

Think also – anytime a politician uses data/stats.

(hopefully I get to play video games again so my thoughts can stay more focused)

A House Isn’t A Home (without a Dragon’s Head)

I haven’t been building much but have been playing with the outside of my home. The inside is the intricate work that I don’t have a natural eye for (and there aren’t that many “props” in game yet).

Outsides are dramatic. People can see them from miles away. Your outside is likely to make people decide if they want to see inside. I really don’t care about any of that – I am just trying to learn the tools. With that said, here are some pics!

This is the front entrance. Bit of a rocky path to get there. That design is built in as part of the tools (and it is very popular right now – there aren’t many “ornate” ones)

This is the view of my crafting terrace. There is actually a path down through my main room and through the mountain to get there.

This is the beginning of my Dragon’s head that will protrude out the side of my mountain. Eventually the mouth will be a second entrance to my house (And to the crafting area). Plans are to have smoking nostrils (torches), glowing eyes (light stone) and a fiery throat (fireplace). We’ll see how it goes. Again, ZERO artistic ability, but curious how much I can fake it using the tools.

For example, the bottom part of the jaw I made a flat, elongated trapezoid using line and select tools, then added triangles and angled corners rotated and different sides (to be jagged), and then the smoothing tools to take away too much jaggedness (still needs more smoothing.) I then copied the bottom jaw, and rotated it (see the blue arrows? and placed it away. Now I just need to build out below the jaw and above the jaw and meld it into the side of my mountain. Lots of work to do.

Also, I am currently building it in dirt. Everyone has lots of dirt. After it is done you can “paint” it with stone or other materials to match up.

Couple final shots:

This is the view from on top of my chimney. I put in 4 torches for faux smoke. I see I have a new neighbor… building into the mountain across the way. The box you see is my current “claim area” and restricts where I can build. I haven’t figured out how to turn it off for screenshots yet.

Here is the view down from my chimney. Again, the scale and detail of this game is amazing (that is the top of my dragon’s head, for reference)

Last but not least there is where I am in case you wanted to go check it out. It is on COURAGE server, Ledge zone (which is a tier 2 zone). Feel free to stop by and use the crafting stations.

I HAS HOUSE

It’s not pretty. I have zero artistic or architectural ability. I do have patience, however.

I got the LINE tool (which is quite the grind) which requires tier 3  crafting stations. This makes roofs easy to make. Basically its great for slopes, ramps, etc. So, armed with all(?) of the tools in game currently, let’s build. here is how she looks so far.

That view is from the back. The left side is a chimney (complete with fire) and the little left side ramp is a basement carve out through the mountain where I put all of my crafting stations. The engine is really good for when you extend anything into the existing geometry, it fits it in really nice.

This is a picture of the inside:

That’s a fireplace with copper around it. Yes, it does look warped – I was messing around and testing the shape tool. The game does right angles so well (and so much) I wanted it to look old and weathered. Lots of work to do in that regard. There are prefab chairs, carved table, and iron pitcher (full of beer, I promise you.) The wall pattern is standard stone, and the floor is “granite”. I am going to do some mantle work (etc.)

My place has no windows, and I’m sorting out how I want the door to look. Once I sort that I’ll get better pictures. I really just planned on teasing you this far.

Oh, the bottom HOTBAR?

In order: My Gold Axe Veridium Mining Pick, Shape Tool, Add Tool, Delete Tool, Smooth Tool, Line Tool, Paint Tool, and Heal Tool.

This last view may give a better idea of how high the plot actually is. That brown rectangle dangling in midair is a sifting tool that just decided to stay there. Again, this is chimney/crafting patio side from almost on the ground (still up a hill, definitely not sea level!

As much as I love my mountain top, when water finally makes it into the game I’ll be building lakeside. Always been my dream.

3:10 Train to Ledge (Tier 2)

I have a couple of paths I run in my normal “day to day” in EQN: Landmark. There is a sweet, sweet area I found ripe with multiple ores I require for progression, and a hidden forest which is needed for every tool and crafting station (in unfair abundance right now, although they are patching that down as I type this to 60% of current). What is fun about this is seeing other people’s creations coming to life. Land claims are non instances (although specific islands are) so you see things grow in real time.

I have started to leave my outskirts location (there is a centralized teleporter to go to other islands/Tiers) because I have requirements that are in higher tiered areas. Currently in Alpha resources are split on Tier islands based on what level you are creating items for. In the future all resources will be on each island, but for now it is easy to sort out where you need to go.

This makes me have to leave my “neighborhood” and venture to the teleporter. Wow, have things changed! It is like going to your home town after 10 years and learning they got a McDonald’s, Walt-Mart and Target while you were gone.

Where I am going with this : I hope they don’t put in instant travel. If they do, the creating part (which is the main part) will probably be missed in game. Horses? Sure. Just not instantly. Stop and smell the giant castles.

(here’s one randomly I ran across)

and here is how players have changed the landscape. (squint)

I have a house now too! (next post =)

Love Thy Neighbor

Well, now that I see Bhagpuss is playing testing I need to go claim beside him! Then I can love him and squeeze him and call him George. No, I wouldn’t be THAT annoying. I also won’t link to his updates every day =)

That silly thought was inspired by meeting two of my neighbors – one at the foot of my mountain (ok, not my mountain.. but im on the peak!) and one accross the canyon…

The bottom neighbor is from the UK AND plays similar times to me. We are constantly running into each other. Sometimes a small chat, other times just a wave as we pass each other. Sometimes we use each other’s crafting stations depending on who has what ready.

(Edit: I wrote this a couple of days ago. I logged in today and my neighbor was gone. Land unclaimed – maybe I do smell, or maybe they went to the new shiny server that has lots of sweet claimable spots left….)

Since it is a non-instanced world this starts begging the questions if neighbors have disputes or simply dislike each other there could be some issues. You can block people from coming on your claim but I am curious what tools they will end up having available.  Not to focus on the negative, the link above to Bhagpuss has a good community story – and I am even MORE excited to see what collaboration tools SOE provides.

That ledge way off in the distance is mine. Well, the ledge is gone (voxels aren’t saving properly) but I own the top of the mountain. I’m thinking art deco chic cottage. Whatever that means. Some random Landmark thoughts:

  • build your tools first. Its not as fun until you get the tools! you can’t build nearly as well or with as many options.
  • it is a grind. You have to grind out mats to make the equipment to craft the tools to grind out mats to make the new equipment to craft the new tools to grind out mats to make the even newer equipment to craft the even newer tools to grind out mats….
  • Things break/get lost/don’t work/stop working all the time. It is Alpha. Have the right attitude or it becomes not fun really quick.
  • Lots of things aren’t working – but the fun is on full bore =)

I am 30 burled logs (if you are in alpha, you are pulling your hair right now) from the LINE tool which helps you slope (think roof?) from what I have read. Once I have that, I am going to stop grinding and start building my cabin in the woods.

Alpha Dog

Combine an Alpha test of a highly anticipated title with a $100 entry fee and what do you get?

What do you think you will get?

A lot of whiners. I am going to keep the cut and pastes to a zero because it is an internal alpha boards (even though there is no NDA there is still a forum confidentiality agreement) but as you would suspect, a lot of people are complaining that they paid $100  and they can’t play.

I also paid to play alpha test but since I have done over 21 beta/alpha tests (I really need to update this list) and I didn’t have to pay for them, I know what to expect.

The other players testers should know that too. To SOE’s credit, they are gladly giving back refunds to get rid of the riff-raff. Kudos for them to recognize they have zero chances of making day one whiners and complainers happy during an alpha process that will have continual changes, bugs, and probably multiple wipes. Get rid of them now instead of later, the noise they make will drown out any significant contributions.

I am not even going to complain at that Queue – SOE has been great in communicating saying hey, we are throttling hard because we have been crashing. Seems there are 10s of thousands willing to pay to test. I have no problem with this considering how many millions are given to games and game creators that may never get past drawing board phase so take my money and relieve me of my boredom in the digitalverse.

All this being said, at least I have lots of new subject matter to cover on the blog. I have played two hours. It is nice to be excited about something again.

Nice to be excited about SOE again.

Everquest Next: Landmark Alpha Launches

Founder’s Pack

I have never been much of a blog to cover the latest news, but this was in my inbox bright and early this morning. I am really close to pulling the trigger on it – I am interested in building, and the pace just might be my style.

Of course, I miss the old days of getting invited to betas and alphas for free, but hey, I’m bored and looking for something new.

Anyone who reads here in?

 

Reroll and Random Thoughts

After the grand level of 8 on my “Return of the Warden” project I rerolled to an Elf. I was reminded early in the Man-questing campaign that I was mortal by Elondrialle (sp) and I said screw that!

No, no, no and not because I secretly yearn for Legolazz leetness or anything either. My LOTRO main (back when I paid for it) was a Hobbit, and going through the Man campaign I started remembering the quests and storyline – I had played a champ as well. Dwarf was out (can’t be a Warden) so Elf was left. So, I became immortal and rerolled.

Some other LOTRO observations:

  • I can use coins to warp to quest areas faster (mithril I think?) so the FTP elements are starting to rear their ugly head…
  • I am still only using in game resources and man, after so many years there is a LOT to learn. I love the complexity of MMO’s but forgot how much you really had to study, google, read, and spreadsheet out to be optimal in a MMO. Even sub ones. Can’t simplicity be just as beautiful and engaging?
  • The daily login prize is giving me food, drink, and clothes.
  • The animations/graphics/movement/flow are better than I remember them. They probably haven’t been updated but pretty smooth.
  • I love the non-stylized world. Feels gritty, foreboding, and yet appropriately beautiful.
  • I see about 1 person a login session at best – which is cool, but feels very single player-ish

Some related thoughts:

  • I have been stopping to smell the roses a lot more in LOTRO than other MMO’s. Not because its closing down anytime soon but because I am in no rush! I have no goals in LOTRO but to experience the game. No raiding guild waiting for me to fill a spot, no friends to quest with (I am on Gladden if you get bored *cough cough*) and no plan or agenda. Just playing.
  • I have been looking at things in a different lens also – someone actually created this stuff! When I see a nice piece of map layout or a specific troll-turned-stone and sun is shining on it – well placed, I take a look, soak it in, and appreciate that someone thought to put that there and built it.

That last point is my final thought of my blogging week – the people behind the games. I really appreciate the talents and efforts who create the worlds we play in. That probably deserves its own post (and I’m sure I’ll write it in the future).

Remakes

In MAY 2009 I wrote a post about Remakes.

In it, I listed my three favorite old games I wish would be remade – this was on the heels of Mike Tyson’s Punchout being relaunched which I bought for the Wii, and played all the way to the champ himself.

This is why it is fun reading your old posts sometimes!

#1 – X-COM – Remade 2012

I *still* haven’t played the remake. I read a lot about it, and want to make the time – I’m sure it’ll go on sale on Steam at some point. Dropped the ball on my favorite game of all time. (To be fair, I did rebuy the original on Steam, but man, its hard to play. That’s a whole separate, future post.)

#2 Star Control 2 – Fan Remade 2012

Haven’t played this either. I am a terrible fan. To be fair, I just googled it to see if anything had been made of SC2 and lo and behold. I’ll be trying this soon. I’m really pumped for it =)

#3 Privateer – Coming soon!

Ok, not *exactly* but Star Citizen can be spiritual successor. 37 Million in “fundraising”? Holy $H^T! Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into another rockstar computer CEO shenanigans.

While I have a lot of excitement for these titles, is it also a Hollywood-esque issue that new, creative ideas for blockbuster games are getting thin, and rehashing the greats of old is the way to go?

Feel

I have a bunch of items in LOTRO that are flagged as non-junk – supposedly I can turn them in and get daily rewards for doing so. (tattered hides.. battered hilts..) unfortunately for me, I am only using in game resources to learn my way around LOTRO. No websites, nada. So, learning that these can be turned in from a fellow player, I decided to embark on looking for WHERE to turn them in.

Sometimes, being lost gives you neat experiences. I was in Archtet, the starting town (still) and as I am looking around I see a woman arrive in a balcony window. She just sits there. I try interacting (nothing) and then she walks away.

I tried to get into the building to go meet her. Who put her there? What function does she serve? I can’t enter that building, and I can’t interact with her, but it was just a nice add in to make the world feel more alive. Well done.

My standards sure have dropped to be amazed these days.

Over Rewarding

I get something nice just for logging in everyday in LOTRO. I got a pair of gloves yesterday that were literally 10x better than the ones I was wearing.

I mean, I know people want little wins.. but instant success is many steps past deferred success and does absolutely nothing for anyone. I could almost justify a logging in reward if:

  • you had to group with someone for 10+ minutes to get it (enhancing community/grouping)
  • had to complete x number of quests (living, breathing world – I have only seen two other actual players so far in LOTRO)
  • you got a free gift for buying something in the LOTRO store (supporting development/costs)

As it stands now, I just have to log in, click the present on the corner of my screen, get my reward, and log out. Once a day. It doesn’t do anything really for anyone.

Of course, unless LOTRO is going to start marketing how many millions of players LOG IN everyday