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I Am Losing My Head.

Part of it, literally.

At first I thought that was my dwarf’s brain. Turn out it is a mouth. I guess if it was a brain it would be much smaller. The point of this picture is – this is what I am staring at while gaming right now. I busted my little dwarven butt on a solo inf grind PQ to get a new hat. I was extatic. Finally, a shiny new helm! I get it, vendor my old one, and this is the graphic for it. Good news is I can turn off my helm graphic right? Well, yes and no. I can turn it off, but it seems it is only temporary. Anytime I zone, enter/leave a scenario, take a flight path – anything that puts a loading book up on my screen makes me look at this, and yes, I have to click it on and off to fix it.

Not an earth shattering graphic bug by any means, but this one is the one I am most angry about. I know that is silly, with all the major issues, but I have to stare at this character long-time, and having to open up my character screen and hide the inside of my head every 5-10 minutes is completely annoying. Wait, fix that, aggravating. I want to choke someone (volunteer?). See, we all have our choking point (haha) and among the major bugs just today I have encountered two minor ones that have me rant-bloggish – although I know they are both non game breaking in the bigger picture, they ruin MY experience. So frustration abounds. What is the other one? It’s a lot bigger, and an even bigger dissappointment. In the spirit of vote-off reality TV, it will be revealed after the break.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Didn’t write much over the weekend, we Canucks have our thanksgiving early. Spent the time with friends and family, and had a great time.  I have a ton of things to “complain” about with gaming and MMO’s but heck, it’s a holiday here so instead figured I would send thanks out to my online friends, past and present.

Thank you to developers who have created a great entertainment space, and given reason for us armchair bloggerbacks to comment (ie: bitch and moan) about your products. Remember, it’s only because we like them that we try (urge) to get you to improve.

Thank you to all the bloggers out there who have inspired me to take the time to enjoy blogging myself. I read a solid 10 different bloggers a day, and always try to add my comments and support where possible. I’ll get to updating my Blogroll soon, I promise!

Thank you to people who lead the guilds I play in – these games really are all about community and a good guild does indeed change the entire gaming experience regardless of bugs, oversights, and general annoyances.

Thank you Joe, for setting up the nuts and bolts of this blog for me. I am sure you regret it now, but hey, if that is your worst regret you have other issues. Heck, you have other issues regardless.

Thank you, to the lady that paid for my coffee this morning. It was a long lineup in the drive through and I saw 5 other cars not let you in the line even though you waited patiently. Who knew that a friendly wave through to a complete stranger would result in free coffee. I am going to try that at the lineup at the bar next time.

And a general happy thought to everyone who reads this – we can’t change the world over night. Not the gaming nor the real one. Treat strangers with respect and courtesy. Hold a door open for someone, help someone carry something heavy. Cut your senior neighbor’s lawn for the heck of it. Help that poor tank get through the final stage of the PQ even though you have max influence. Don’t vendor that nice shiny blue item, give it out randomly to someone who can use it. The world(s) is/are a strange place, and I find that every little thing you do unselfishly both online and in the real one makes both a better place for those who are a part of it. While you can do nice things, and rarely receive a thank you for it, someone out there will take notice someday, and buy you a coffee.

Gobble Gobble.

The 6 Wheeled Car

There is a six wheeled car – it is a sedan, four door. What if I told you it gets better gas mileage, is much safer to drive,  hell, it’s even cheaper than a boring old regular 4 wheeled car. Would you buy it? Probably not. Nobody wants to be the first, and 4 wheels have done just fine for the past 100 years. We are comfortable with our 4 wheels, it is socially acceptable to drive a ‘regular’ car, and everybody else makes their cars that way. Okay, you got me, there isn’t really a 6 wheel mass produced car on the market but I used the example to illustrate part of what sucks with MMO’s. MMO’s design what is comfortable – what we are used to – when a few simple changes could improve the whole process. The $14.99 subscription fee? It has nothing to do with recovering expenses, it is just what people are used to paying, so that is what they charge. The leveling curve standard – lots of little levels fast, some mid levels medium-slow, end levels stupidly slow – there is not really a good reason for it except that is what players are accustomed to.

I touched upon my dream leveling curve here and wanted to expand how using a flat hours per level system could innovate a part of the market. I use the term ‘innovate’ loosely – perhaps a better word is make your entire MMO world useful. Let me explain. Again, I will use WAR as my backdrop because it has the potential to take advantage of this type of system pretty much as is.

The power of a character is indicative of levels. For illustration purposes we are going to assume that ‘x’ level is representative of the power level of a character to one another – being a level 40 is 40x more powerful than a level 1 character. (In reality it is probably more, but let’s assume that 40 level 1’s could kill 1 level 40, 2 level 20’s can kill one level 40, etc. Again, that is a bit skewed towards the lower levels but that is the power curve I am looking for. Players want to level to become more powerful, it is the proverbial cheese to our little rat race, and that aspect is important to keep pure in any MMO. Although I complained about how the leveling curve escalates to rediculous levels in WAR I don’t care so much about the total time – just the time it takes between levels. If you want me to play 8 days to get to max level, fine, just give me the content and regular pieces of cheese along the way to keep me trucking.

As a PVP game that encourages varying levels to compete/participate with one another the ‘power’ of levels is a big difference maker. It is somewhat balanced with the bolster mechanic but this still doesn’t solve another beef of mine with MMO’s – wasted content. I have been working on my dwarf alt a lot lately and by god, the RVR lakes area in T1 of DvG are absolutely beautiful. Incredible design and I can imagine the fun and engaging battles that could happen on the mountainsides with great cover and backdrop for the perfect bloody battle – problem is, no one does it. Throughout beta, and now leveling a third character through, no one open RVR’s in this pairing. No clue why. Such a waste of a beautiful arena for gaming, and no doubt a lot of time and development costs as well. All MMO’s do this to some degree – they make their own content a big waste of time and money – something that is exasberated even more when expansions come out. The by-product of this is that they actually shorten the life of their games by extending the top power levels as it creates an extra layer of inaccessibility for the new player. Yes, it does make the long term player stick around a bit longer, but the new player finds himself either alone, or hopelessly outpowered, and in the end there is a low retention rate for new subs once a game has expanded it’s power content. (Go join EQ now, and see how much fun you have!)

I know I am dancing around a slew of different angles right now, but it all leads me to the same conclusion: The relative power curve between players needs to change. Make that adjustment, along with a flat leveling system, and all of a sudden the entire game world is a playground for EVERY player. Instead of having a level 40 40x more powerful than a level 1 character, change it to the power of 10 – meaning a level 40 character is only 4x more powerful than a level 1. If my level 40 Ironbreaker decides to go back into the T1 lakes, a good group of 4-5 destruction players can take you down. Want to try old quests you never got to finish? Sure, it is worth 1/4 of the XP, but there is still value. When the MMO decides to up the max level, the disparity is minor at best and new players coming into the game can still enjoy every aspect of it from day one, instead of day 124. Please note I am not saying take away the 40 levels – still have them, and the ability/gear curve to go along with it. Each player will still get their 40 ‘dings’.

Now we have adjusted to a flat leveling system, and a player-relative power curve, a few minor adjustments and the entire game world is now the playground for every player. No longer are you limited to a certain section for a limited amount of time. Scenarios – Open up all to everyone, but instead of player bodies as the per side cap, use levels. For example, have 280 levels per side. Your side might only have 10 players against 20 enemies – but the relative power is equal meaning it can still be a good fight. World objectives – Have them all, starting from T1, have more meaning. The bigger rewards and xp/renown gains are still in the upper tiers (relative to player level) but put an absolute importance on those T1 objectives – so lower level players are really contributing to the effort. One side may send a higher level strike team down to make sure they are captured, but a lower level rally can still, with numbers and skill, have a chance (instead of getting one shotted).

While this may seem like a major change I think it would be well accepted by the majority of the playerbase. There is nothing wrong with maximizing the enjoyment of a game from the outset of the game instead of worrying about how much time you need to spend to be “effective” in that game. This solves the outdated content issue all MMO’s face, maximizes development dollars, and if you do an expansion in lower level tiers everyone can enjoy it, regardless of what level you are. Of course, WAR will never go this way and I only used it as my backdrop (because of how it is designed) to illustrate how a flat leveling curve, and relative power adjustment, could make that next 6 wheeled car the thing of the future.

I was going to rehash these comments on Syncaine’s blog here, and Melf’s blog here, and Openedge’s blog here – the portion about relative power curves but keeping lots of levels – but instead took the lazy (er) route of just adding  pingback (s).

HELP ME, HELP uh ME? (Update #1/#2)

It seems my blog pages ‘formatting’ is taking on a life of it’s own. I am not sure where/how I borked it, but it seems to be a streaming and stemming problem that is getting worse. Anyone out there suggest a good, clean theme (that I can’t possibly break?)

Update: Going to be messing around with a few preset layouts from WP. The black background is starting to hurt my own eyes when I type/read articles/comments. I guess their is a reason most use white space – go figure! (I use black paper at home with a white marker, I promise).

Update #2: Found a nice simple layout, white backdrop, and set width. With the old layout I really liked the flexibile width, but it made formatting posts a bit of a pain in the buttocks. Would look good when I did it on my 22″ widescreen monitor, but look like garbage on a smaller square one. So now, sticking with the set width. I am replacing the graphic above (it was the default) although I rather like it so I will just be incorporating the site name into it. Let me know if you like this one better than the black background one, curious if it is nicer to read on for you too.

Talk to Me, Baby.

Due to the aforementioned level block I too decided to enjoy the good part of WAR by leveling an alt through T1 and T2. My Ironbreaker (quite possibly the worst kept secret on order – holy cow durability batman!) just started in T2, my second time around the circuit. The first time it was with preorder people and the scenarios were less painful than this time around.

I already covered the most basic strategies here, here, and yes, here.  Conclusion? People still need to do more research.

T2 scenarios are dead quiet, . Even for PUGS. Shameful, really, as the most basic of strategy and communication can make a big difference. TIP: Yes, BW, you can get a lot of Renown and XP fighting midfield and racking up big damage numbers all scenario. Guess what, you get double the bonus Renown and XP for winning. I know, I know, you want the big numbers to take a screenshot and post it at WHA to show how cool you are, but if you really want to min/max your time investment, AND grow that Epeen, here are the real winners in WAR scenarios.  Last 5 rounds I snuck in today, I felt like I was playing a single player game. I longed for attack/defend squad leader commands from BF2142 because I think chat is completely broken. Luckily, in ONE scenario, someone actually replied and tried to rally the troops on objective based, winning strategies to make the scenario even more fun. Yes scenarios are fun. Winning and having the same amount of fun is more fun. Try it sometime, you just might like being a winner. I know a lot of you (us) are not used to being called that.

Quick Scenario specific points:

Mourkain Temple: You don’t need the ball to win, true. You do need the ball to control WHERE the fight happens. When you don’t have the artifact, you fight beside your enemy’s spawn, meaning you will lose the war of attrition. When you have the artifact you fight by your own spawn meaning you win that war. At bare, bare minimum, fight in the middle so you aren’t forcing your team a 30 second runback on death (awarding your enemy the 5 second runback at the same time).

Stonetroll Crossing: You absoultely need to cap objectives to win. If you aren’t, the other team absolutely is, because they are smarter than you. If you stop to fight someone midfield allowing the pacifier-holder to run away you are an idiot are objective disadvantaged. You don’t have to kill the holder to reset the pacifier, just keep interrupting him from clicking – for one minute. Total. That includes travel time. If you can interrupt the holder for one minute you have effectively “won” the encounter – now get the pacifier first and cap something already.

Phoenix Gate: If an enemy is near your flag, damage them. They cannot pick up the flag if you do. Who cares if is almost dead. If you let them pick up your flag, you put your team at a disadvantage. Don’t let them. Hell, autoattack for all I care.

Quick Global points:

Communicate: If you have a flag/artifact/pacifier, tell your team where you are heading to so they can defend you.

Communicate: Outline a basic strategy before the start of the round. Even if only 3 people out of 12 listen, you still have a 40% higher chance of winning (official statistics, I promise you.)

Communicate: A lot of people have no clue what they are doing (obviously) and giving a quick rundown may actually teach them something and make them a better realm mate. They will thank you after for it so THEY don’t feel dumb for not knowing.

Communicate: Again, for those of you who missed it, it is /sc <text>

Quick Google search responses (I actually had google point a lot of people my way about the scenarios):

1) To cap a flag in Phoenix Gate, you do not run it over your own flag. Up the steps, behind your flag, is a big urn thing. Click on it while you have the flag.

2) The objective in Stonetroll Crossing is to get the pacifier, then click all three objectives near three groups of trolls (NW, NE, and S). You have 1 minute each time you activate one or they all reset. You DO get points for just clicking one, or two, of the three. If you get all three you get a LOT of points. The match will typically end if one side gets all 3 pacified 3 times.

3) The Mourkain Artifact gives bonus points if you actually kill stuff while holding it, yes. It also does an increasing DOT to the holder the longer they hold it. That means yes, you do have to heal them even when enemies aren’t around them.

4) Destruction does win Phoenix Gate. Read the Quick points above

5) No, I will not fear you.

The scenarios are so basic, and at their core level, very much fun. I am not a scenario expert but I do know that when people listen, and follow/execute the basic strategies I have listed both here and in previous posts – we win. In MMO’s my fun is based off of other players contributions and vice versa – that is why I always try to perform my class-specified role when I play scenarios so other people can have more fun too.

Quick last point:

If you see any player in a group all by themselves, when there is room in other groups, do not heal or help out that person – at all. They are taking away your RP’s and EXP for their own gain, a known exploit. Let them die a boring horrible death, and remember that person’s name and spread it throughout the land as a jerkoff. Anytime you put yourself ahead of everyone else participating in the same objective, I am sorry, but you are simply that. Note of caution: sometimes a person is left in their own group because of reserved spots and/or you actually get 13 people in a scenario instead of 12. Don’t blacklist or berate them for that. If there is a spot open in group, kindly let them know. If they refuse, refuse to acknowledge their existance in the scenario and let everyone in your server know they are a bastard leech.

Keeping Levelling on the Level

Please note these are all assumptions on the math based on my experiences.  I am even going to use handout materials.

This is what the leveling curve in WAR seems to be. Each level gets incremently longer. While you breeze through the first 10 levels, the levels as you push higher feel rediculously long. While it might take you 2 hours to get from level 22-23, it takes 4 to get from 23-24, and 7 to get from 24-25. Add to this, the issue that there is not enough content to push through those levels and many hit the leveling brick wall in WAR. I am sure a lot of players love the challenge – maybe I would too if the content kept up.

WAR leveling

This is what the leveling curve felt like in WoW. Yes, it was more hours per each level, but nothing major or as rediculous as in WAR. The increments were manageable and the difference from 20 to 21, and 21 to 22 flowed logically – more time, but not an exorbent amount of more time. It had a natural, fun feel to it. Not the painful, punishing feel from WAR.

This is how I would like to see leveling done. Equal increments for each level. You would definitely have to change the way your character starts (not just with 2 skills, start them with a fair handful of handy tools – picture level 8-10 skillset to start). While this is a major change to the landscape of how we level in MMO’s I believe it would make the leveling game more fun for everyone, and remove the brick wall and seemingly endless grinds we are all forced to deal with.

If MMO company wants a player to spend 8 days played to level their character to max rank, and have designed their game to be meaningful from level 1 to 40, why NOT have 4 hours per level of good old fashioned fun? I would trade that in a heartbeat for the 10 minutes to level the first 5 levels, then 20 hours to level 1 level later on. It rewards consistent play and the player will always know they have a new level waiting for them around the corner, instead of waiting for them around 2143 corners (all left turns too, at that). WoW took away the pain of leveling from EQ, WAR has put it back in – only it is cleverly disguised in the much later levels. In this day and age of MMO’s catering to the casual, why put the grind back in? A level leveling system would keep both camps happy – the hardcore get their levels the same way, but the casual can enjoy the ride as well.

‘NYUK OF THE LIVING DEAD

Just before launch I made a post about a few bothersome things we would face at launch. I just entered the T3 lands and figured I would review to see how things are going.

1) Gravitation to EvC – still an issue, as I found the T2 and T3 scenarios popping the most for me on my scenario nights (I fly around and queue all pairings)

2) Tanks have worked out as a problem as we discussed on the order side – the Order tanks aren’t as yummy as the Destro ones and they (again, in my experience and on my server) are typically outnumbered 2:1 tank wise with their counterparts. Good news is Mythic is going to pop those characters back in as soon as possible, as free content – no timeline, unfortunately.

3) Cross Pairing Scenario Queues – They are now in! I have been bugging them for the past 6 months in beta (as have others) and because of how quick they got this out, methinks they had the capability all along – and just wanted to see how things played out at release. Mythic I love you, at the bare minimum, for this alone.

4) Destro population imbalance – held true as well. No fix announced for this yet, but I am sure it is on the top of their minds as the whiney-whinertons are out in full force – as they should be. Everyone called this as would-be-happening and while I appreciate being cautious to see how it played out, let’s hope they already have a solution in the wings they are getting ready to launch it. Hopefully it is part [2] above, with the speed of part [3].

On a side note: this is the longest ‘between posts’ since I started the blog, and I apologize for that. I saw the good (bad?) end of a bottle of The Belvanie awaiting my red-eye flight home from a working weekend in Vancouver. Needless to say, two days later, I am still feeling the pain. I don’t recover quite as well as I used to. Once the cobwebs are all out and I am fully healed, I’ll be sure to grant more of my enlightened wisdom upon you all. [sarcasm alert]

On a second side note: Good to see OZ posting again at KTR. He may deny this to save face, but I became a guild member with Oz in EQ on the testserver in The Grove. He and his band of merry men/women showed me what a guild of like minded people can do to an online experience – turn a tag into a home. Sorry for the off topic pingback Oz, but I was wondering where you went. He covers a topic that as an older gamer I am faced with every day – time value. Go check it out. Just stay away from the scotch while you are reading it.

$0 DOWN, $199/MONTH 2.3% FINANCING

With the spammy-gold-spamertons all over WAR there is a lot of coverage in Blognation about RMT and what to do with it. I covered my thoughts on RMT here before, and to summarize – if games mechanics are made so poorly that I can only enjoy the game by buying gold then something needs to change. There are all sorts of arguments about it, from the MMO ‘morality’ (if you buy gold, you probably don’t walk little old ladies accross the street), to the upper class of gaming (people who can afford to buy gold have an unfair advantage – because you make more money in real life shouldn’t give you an advantage in a online world where all are created equal!) to [insert typical argument here]. What we need is some sort of solution. An obvious one, but one I haven’t seen or heard much about (I don’t read every blog and website out there, so sorry if it has) is the simplest one of all. Make gold bind on pickup. Eliminate it from the equation altogether. How can we eliminate gold changing hands, without eliminating item trading? Enter the lovely world of leasing.

UPDATE: Check out the BanHammer counter on the WAR herald – cute 🙂

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WHERE’S THE BEEF?

By “beef”, I mean “data”. This is a dream world post. I often dare to dream. Mythic is very proud of their meta data collection and hey, I would love them to throw some of that our way. Developers are always very protective of their data. Gamers are always very hungry to understand more. When I go to the server selection screen and see Order population: Low, Destruction Population: Medium – what exactly does that mean? Where is the magic line between low and medium? Is low 399 characters, and medium 400? Or does that mean there are 10 order and 900 Destruction? Why can’t we  know this?

MMO’s do a great job of collecting, displaying, and using data in every click, keyboard press, and number crunch. Send some of that love our way! MMO’s are a big time investment and I want to make decisions when choosing my server and class on hard data. I know, I know – “play what you like” – and I do, but hey, what if I like four different classes and want to play “what my realm would like”. Spit out the numbers for me : Order has 100 tanks between levels 1-10, 50 tanks between 11-20, and 1 tank between levels 21-30. I don’t see why it would hurt to tell us this. (Admittedly, this information is pretty useless at the launch of a game, but once you get a couple years in it can be very valuable for me as a gamer to make choices!)

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THE WARbert REPORT: STONETROLL CROSSING

Stonetroll Crossing is the T2 scenario for EvC. It is a murderball/flag capture mechanic with some fun twists. At the top of the spiralling mountain in the center of the map is a “pacifier”. You have to grab the pacifier, then travel to three troll groupings around the map and “pacify” the trolls – all within a set time period or the pacifier resets. The trolls aren’t just there for good looks though – they hurl rocks around the map causing an inconvenience along the way. For example, if you try to park a few people where the pacifier spawns while it is in control the trolls will toss some rocks at you and knock you off the mountain. This scenario does a lot of good, and ensures a level of back and forth gameplay that is missing in Phoenix Gate and Mourkain Temple.

Those of you in beta remember what Stonetroll Crossing used to be – a king of the hill scenario! The trolls were still there being a pain, but the whole purpose of the match in the old beta days was to hold the flag at the top of the hill which had a timer capture mechanic similar to Nordenwatch. Problem back then, was that the way the terrain is designed it was pretty much impossible to take the hill once it was captured – it was a ranged DPS nightmare and heavily favored meelee – the new way it works is much more player friendly.

Match typically goes like this: Both sides beeline for the pacifier and whichever gets it attempts to pacify the three troll groupings within the specified time. In my experiences having the pacifier isn’t any sort of guarantee with the side failing upwards of 50% of the time

People generally forget that: You have a short time frame to get to all three objectives. Slowing down the enemy pacifier is as effective as killing them outright.

The “oh – po0p” moment: Your team is spread out all over the place guessing which section the enemy will try and pacify next, they go to a different one for an easy cap

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THE WARbert REPORT: MOURKAIN TEMPLE

Mourkain Temple is a Tier 2 Scenario in the Dwarves vs Greenskin Pairing. The game is very simple: get, and hold onto, the Mourkain Artifact for as long as you can. You get points for holding onto the artifact and for killing enemies. The artifact holder gets bonus points for killing while holding it, and there are bonus points if you kill the artifact holder. If the artifact drops it stays on the ground where the person was killed for a short while.

Match typically goes like this: Both sides rush to the artifact. First one to get it rushes back to their own spawn area.

People generally forget that: The first side to get the artifact pretty much always wins. If a scenario queue pops up for Mourkain Temple, enter as fast as you can instead of grinding out a few more mobs. If you come into the game a second after it has started you have put your team at a severe disadvantage.

The “Aw $hit moment”: You don’t get the ball first

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THE WARbert REPORT: PHOENIX GATE

Over the next few days I am going to touch upon the three T2 scenarios and my experiences playing them. The core of the characters on the server I play on seem to be in this level range, so now is a good time to discuss how to win! My main character is a R18 RR14 Engineer, so will share the perspective in that regard. Keep in mind, the observations I have had are from my server only – I am very curious if other people are seeing the same things.

Phoneix Gate is the T2 scenario for the HEvDE pairing. It is your typical capture the flag scenario similar to Warsong Gulch from WoW – to capture the enemy’s flag your flag must not be in the hands of the enemy. The map is a good layout with a lot of space and ways to cross. The scenario also has siege weapons that come into play for both sides adding an interesting extra layer you need to be aware of. The siege weapons have longer range and do more damage than your typical attacks. You get points per player kill and per flag capture. The scenario is first to 500 points and between two competent teams that score is rarely reached – be prepared to be in there for the whole 15 minutes.

Match typically goes like this: Order sends a small team to capture the flag, and leaves the rest on defence. Destruction leaves a small team to defend their flag, and sends the rest on offence.

People generally forget that: ANY damage done stops a person from picking up a flag. DOTs and instant damage abilities are king here. A single person can keep 5 enemies from picking up the flag for a good period of time. Stick a DOT/AOE on and stay alive until reinforcements come. Stop people from picking up the flag at all costs, even if you are going to die. (I love seeing a MDPS about to kill a healer, walk in beside them, take the flag while the enemy is more focused on getting a kill.)

The ‘Aw sh*t’ moment: Your side is so focused on killing what is in front of you that you do not pan to keep your eye on the flag regularly, and someone sneaks in from the side and takes it. ALWAYS pan regularly to guard the flag or at least try to have the flag in your field of vision at all times when on defence.

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A MOMENT FOR CLARITY

Having discerned a clarity issue in my previous (and most “famous”, because of it) post, I figured I would add a moment of (attempted) clarity. As much as I am already tired of discussing the WAR EULA, and EULA’s in general perhaps I positioned myself into an unclear stance, I would like to correct that.

I didn’t even realize the EULA was annoying until it was reported at Broken Toys. (I am not going to link to it again, I am sure everyone reading this has read it. If not, it is in my previous post). At that point, I did do a “Hey, yeah, that IS kind of annoying. Wonder why that is”. I didn’t have a second thought about it until I was cruising my favorite Warhammer fan site and found a poll regarding it. It too, is linked in the previous entry. That poll shows that (currently) 42% of the particpants of the poll are so outraged at the inconvenience of the new EULA format that they would either a) Not buy the game, b)find it highly annoying and will play the game less, or c) will think twice before booting up the game. This was the part I was flabbergasted at. WAR will have a ton of balance issues (class/realm/server) and the game will turn itself upside down in year one with nerfs and buffs. That doesn’t worry anyone – what DOES worry them is having to spend the (now cliche) 5 seconds of their life to do it. They don’t care about the CONTENT of the EULA and what it may, or may not contain, but having to click it upon logging in each time is such an inconvenience the game is now a pile a junk and not as worth playing. That was the stem of my rant.

Now, some people read the rant and saw the links to blogsites reporting it and falsely (although understandably) assumed that was where my rant was aimed at. Here is the kicker – Of the 200+ page views that entry had, only 4 bothered to click the straw poll link which better illustrates where my rant was aimed at. I do admit now that was a  newbie blogger error and next time I will make that portion more clear – perhaps a direct quote or a better break down of the numbers – to make sure people understand that was where my source of frustration stemmed from. It wasn’t aimed at Scott or the people reporting that it was a minor inconvenience and trying to figure out the purpose of the change from existing MMO EULA’s. I assumed that when you put a link in as part of your argument people would click it. Lesson learned.

That misunderstanding lead to my now good friend Matt’s rant which lead to my retort rant and things, typically, spiralled out of control from a misunderstanding of communication. I suppose that is the challenge. When evaluating my blogging style I would consider it conversation blogging. I do not write as if I was submitting an essay or business report – I just ramble on with the thoughts currently in my head and put it out there. Other sites I visit are much more careful about the language and emphasis they use. I will try to mirror that in some regards; I like keeping it informal but at the same time can see what can happen without proper precaution. I am not an industry icon or professional analyst. I am just a guy who is in with the general gaming population who sees and hears what a lot of general gamers think and say. I take that and my own personal opinion and put it out there to check the pulse of what gamers are thinking (and feeling) and see what comes of it.

Hopefully that has cleared any confusion. *crosses fingers*.

STOP THE PRESSES!

Sharpen your pencils and get your stamps ready. It is time to contact your Congress-person, Member of Parliament, or Town Shaman. The greatest video gaming injustice of all time has been committed! We, as gamers with precious little time, cannot stand back and accept this atrocity. Who cares if there are other important things going on in the world, if we don’t stop this now life as we know it is about to end! FIGHT THE POWER!

Puhleeeease. I get a lot of redicule from family, friends, mild acquaintances and even complete strangers for being a gamer. This is the first time I have actually been embarrassed on behalf of the adult gaming community. It is definitely worthwhile to point out the EULA pops up everytime as a typical direction we will be seeing in online gaming, for sure – but the comments from people who have issue with 5 seconds of delay with their 3 hour mountain dew nourished play sessions illustrating this is an outrage of some sort is downright laughable. A straw poll shows ~40% of people who are unhappy with this decision may not buy the game or limit their play time because of this. Good riddance!

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AM I A SNOWFLAKE?

My experiences with my PC and gaming leads me to think I am unique. I don’t seem to have the problems that the “angry” online populace does. Visat 64? Runs like a charm. Never had a single install issue. I don’t understand all the hate. DRM? Never screwed up on my machine. I am very pro-DRM for that reason. After all, since I don’t have a problem then everyone else must be lying. If I go to a restaurant ten times, and get great service and food every time it automatically discounts anyone who hates the restaurant that went once. They are either mucho-whineros or just want a platform to be angry about. That is why I have a hard time believing all the Vista/DRM naysayers as people who are more interested in proving a point than recounting honest experiences. Now, I am not so closed minded as to believe that not only do I have the only perfect running PC in the world but also that my experiences indeed may be a minority and I am just one lucky sonofabitch. It is hard to discount your own experiences to believe in others.

With all that said, how was your Warhammer launch? Mine was as smooth as pie (or cake, if you tend to swing that way) and blognation seems awful slow the last couple days as people are playing the game, instead of commenting on it. My server was down for 2 minutes when I tried to login my first time (at exactly 12:01) – it was the first one on the list and I believe everyone spamming “Login” at 12:01 on the default server caused the boom. They got it right back up and not a hitch the rest of the day. No queue, no downtime, smooth gameplay, tons ‘o fun, all gravy. Some message boards tout this as undoutedly the champion of the history of all MMO launches (which it better be – Mythic had a lot of other launches to learn from!). I had one friend who mysteriously would disconnect every 30 minutes – but that was the only negative thing I heard. So how was YOUR launch experience? Is WAR a snowflake? Are you?

NYUK, NYUK, NYUK!

I know I am talking a lot about WARHAMMER ONLINE lately. A lot of good! It is launching soon much to my excitement, and heck, it is the talk of the town. I too live in that town so let’s get to more talking. Using Beta/Open Beta as a reference it is hard not to already notice some trends which will detract from the Warhammer experience. These trends have been visible throughout the beta process and while I hope new blood alone will reverse some of them we will have to deal with them after launch. Hopefully they are just fads instead of trends.

Nyuk #1) Gravitation towards Empire vs. Chaos: No pairing is as busy. EvC has the quickest Scenario pops and most open field RVR action. This part doesn’t make sense to me as all 3 pairings are very well done. People know this is always the busiest pairing so that is where they tend to go. Question is why? (Did I just answer that question?)

More ‘Nyuks’ after the break!

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DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?

Yeeah Booooy!

Back
Caught you lookin’ for the same thing
It’s a new thing check out this I bring
Uh Oh the roll below the level
‘Cause I’m livin’ low next to the bass C’mon
Turn up the radio
They claim that I’m a criminal
By now I wonder how
Some people never know
The enemy could be their friend guardian
I’m not a hooligan
I rock the party and
Clear all the madness, I’m not a racist
Preach to teach to all
‘Cause some they never had this
Number one, not born to run
About the gun…
I wasn’t licensed to have one
The minute they see me, fear me
I’m the epitome – a public enemy
Used, abused without clues
I refused to blow a fuse
They even had it on the news
Don’t believe the hype…

If you are with me after all that clicking (or just skipped the clicking to begin with) feel better about two things: 1 – I had 3x the number of links planned, and 2 – I am leading up to a point. Eventually. Working on it. Like most suburban middle class teenagers I love(d) rap music growing up. Public Enemy was my group of choice and on the playground with my other priveleged-at-birth friends we would get down with the gospel of one of the world’s most influential rap groups. Pre Flavour Flav sellout dating show, of course. Chuck D cannot be happy about that. I would have sent the S1W’s to take care of Sinceer before she spawned Candwhore – good thing FF took care of that on his own in good time.

MMO’s/PC games are all one big hype machine. Problem with this, among a million related things, that the same hype built up by marketing departments gets pretty much every major release off on the wrong track. Sure, they may result in large release numbers but you could easily argue that those same departments are also the cause of the downfall of the new release – even before the game hits the shelves. Let’s look at that, shall we? And please, don’t believe the hype. Don’t even create the hype to believe in in the first place.

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iBlog

Perhaps you may have noticed something different with this entry. Perhaps not, at least until you hit the end of a line. Much like full justification is gone noticeably so is my PC – I am writing this on my iPhone.

Waiting for a meeting to begin surfing apps I came accross the WordPress addin for my phone. Free download, why not, give it a whirl. So far I can tell you it is okay.

I am a purebread visual editor type. They invented WYSIWYG for me exclusively (I am not ashamed to admit) so thankfully you won’t have to stomach through any not-so-funny-or-interesting links throughout this post. I reviewed an existing post and the syntax required to embed a link over text isn’t my cup of tea – heck it looks so uncomfortable to type I would rather clip Joe’s toenails.

While I consider myself tech savvy I am yet a newer breed – TSL (tech savvy lazy). I get the odd gadget, put my own computer together and help my less fortunate friends with their porn injected spyware problems. I didn’t get an iPhone to be hip, or different, or bleeding edge I bought it to replace my Blackberry. About two years ago my BB and I parted ways in a most horrific fashion. I quit a job that had required travelling, and one day while walking down the street texting that same resignation note the BB slipped from my hands, hit the ground, and mysteriously ended up under my foot. Hey, things happen.

Now that I am travelling again I figured that instead if constantly telling people I would email them the next day (or worse) I bought an email capable phone. Figured I would try to be hip while doing so. [b]I have no idea if this will bold or not upon publish. Move along, nothing to see here.[/b]

I do prefer my iPhone over my BB but I definitely don’t like blogging on it. I am going to leave this post unmolested with it’s spelling, grammar, formatting (and content) vanillaness as a reminder to me on my otherwise clean site that mobile blogging is for professionals, and you (me) should not try this at home.

Or at least until a true WYSIWYG editor is available.

MOVE ALONG… NOTHING TO SEE HERE

In the spirit of disclosure, which seems to be a big topic today on blogs (and link to other blogs) I must admit I am a big fan of KTR. Look to the right on my huge list of blog-folk I have there. Kill Ten Rats is in the list. Right near the top! (Please, don’t get into semantics on how many are actually on my list to begin with. KTR is top two baby!) I was a very, very late bloomer in the blogoshphere (see? I don’t even know the hip word used for that sort of description) and it was one of the first I read regularly while planning my own blogomination.

Ethic made a post today that piqued my interest. Were the corporate overlords trying to sway my beloved ad free daily reading of choice? Were they being wined and dined? Were hookers involved? I wanted to comment – only to see that comments were locked. I planned to make a fun jab at my peers along the lines of ‘anything titled “Full Disclosure” shouldn’t be closed’ (haha, badum-ching, lol,  _insert other cliche here_) but the truth of the matter is I was very curious as to whether the article itself was prompted from within the authors, from the readership, or to keep the corporate virus at bay. Keep in mind it had absolutely no bearing on how I felt about the KTR guys, or the site – it was just that damn curiosity. What would prompt a post like that? Google had no answers! The post itself reminded me of a police scene with gigantic yellow caution ribbons criss-crossed over 6 city blocks and the army, air force, national guard, and local police surrounding it reminding people to move along because there is nothing to see. The fun part of that is with no ribbons highlighting the fact there is something to see people wouldn’t stop in the first place.

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PERCEPTION

With the Warhammer:Age of Reckoning Open Beta underway I am curious what the initial impression is from the typical (ie: people without a preconceived fanboy or doomsday view) gamer. As mentioned before, I am looking forward to it’s release. I also have to come clean and share that my perception perhaps isn’t a very fair one. I have been exposed to the game since sometime in Beta 2 (servers currently running 4.1) and as such my perception of the game isn’t from a fresh clean slate – it is from a much different viewpoint.

When you are invited into a beta you expect there to be problems – that is why you are there. Since it is just a beta you tend to roll with the problems and issues and playtest the game realizing that it is going to change an awful lot before it is released. Beta testers are also exposed to the improvement process. From my first beta build to the current point the game has improved immensely and since I experienced that change first hand it gives an optimism of what else is to come (something a new player just hopping into the game for the first time hasn’t experienced). Beta testers also have an in depth knowledge of gameplay mechanics, general knowledge of different class strengths and weaknesses, and a true feel for the game – all things a fresh new player hopping into the experience for the first time doesn’t have. Because of this your typical beta player already has an opinion on the game both in it’s present and future state.

New players have only been exposed to the opinions of those who have beta tested and may have already formed their opinions based on NDA lifted information. So, what I am most curious about today, if you just booted WAR for the first time and have kept an open mind before doing so, what is your perception on the game? More importantly, what did you honestly expect?

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SPOILERS

I like baseball. I like it for a lot of reasons. My beloved blue jays are 7 games over the .500 hundred mark for the first time in three years and are a very large miracle away from making the postseason. They are, however, playing the great role of spoiler for teams ahead of them in the standings. The past few series, they went 3-2 against Boston, 2-1 against the Yankees, and 3-0 against the Twins – all teams fighting for a playoff spot. While it is great to see the boys finally start playing to their potential it is heartbreaking as a fan to wonder why they didn’t to it about a month ago so instead of being the spoiler, they could be a contender. 5 of their last 7 series in the season are against teams who have a chance at the postseason, so maybe I can take a small victory by having them ruin someone else’s season. With 7 games left against Boston it could be a lot of fun to throw a wrench into Red Sox Nation.

I enjoy sports games and perennially play the EA sports titles. The biggest spoiler for me is 2K sports with their baseball exclusive licensing agreement with the MLB. While I own a console that 2K makes a ball game for I refuse to play it as they don’t make it on the platform I want to play it on – my PC. Since they have spoiled my baseball gaming (MVP 2005 I believe was the last licensed title for the PC) I refuse to purchase any of their titles for my other systems. I am sure they are feeling the heat from my almighty Canadian dollar. While none of this is new news it recently began to bother me again and for once I hope the Evil Axis of gaming does indeed overthrow the 2K Sports team.

Until that happens (or the license expires) I guess I will just have to spend time at real ballparks watching real ballgames, drinking real beer with real friends.

I Hate Playing With Myself

Obviously, that puts me in a minority with my gaming compatriots. After being taunted by Joe at Massive Crits for my lack of FPS content (even though I expressed my love for them publically here) I figured I would explain. I have been spoiled with online gaming forever. This sets up expectations for me that typically can’t be met in a single player game. Humans add a layer of complexity to any game you play along with them that can’t be scripted – extreme talent and extreme stupidity. Both change your style and manner of play depending on which you face. In the online gaming sphere usually it is both at the same time. Sometimes by the same player.

This limits my FPS exposure in gaming since most FPS’s have the online portion as a secondary part of their main campaign. Notable exceptions of course are the Battlefield series, which I play regularly, and the ever so popular Team Fortress 2 which while fun doesn’t completely suit my style. I only recently picked up Half Life 2 (the orange box) from Steam (admitting that probably lost me any shred of credibility I had left with you, my esteemed reader(s)) and to be honest I only bought it because I got hooked on the comic Concerned. While it is a good comic solo after playing HL2 it really shines. I stopped reading the comic until I played through the first few levels so I could get the punchlines better. Sad part is, I kept getting ahead in the comic over the game – not because the game isn’t good but that damn single player just doesn’t do it for me like it used to – so I kept hitting spots in the comic where I realized I haven’t been so had to keep booting up the game to catch up.

What I am really longing for is a great Co-op experience and a new zombie game (the world needs more zombies) which leaves me highly anticipating Valve’s upcoming title Left 4 Dead. Zombies don’t work in player vs player, as players do not know how to behave like zombies (in gaming – many have behaving like a zombie down to an art in real life). Something about the overwhelming odds against humanity versus an evil force (ie: most movies released the past 30 years) and working alongside other unlikely heroes for a common goal is just plain fun. While online play is always my choice, in this example playing against a person instead of AI usually ruins the experience instead of expanding it.

What is missing in L4D and the plethora of zombie mods is a sandbox factor. My dream FPS would have the mechanics of Project Reality which captures the shooting deviation and intensity of firing a gun pretty much perfectly. I don’t want to be Rambo while fighting zombies I want every shot to count. Here is how my dream zombie shooter plays out. I am going to use PR as the base, as I think it would be perfect for it with the quality and selection of the maps, the mechanics, the kits, and the existing gameplay modes which would translate nicely into zombie land.

The setting is simple. You are a member of a military unit (stop me if you have heard this one before) a regular grunt, perhaps with some special training for additional kit usage. You are deployed to an area of the world which has a zombie infestation. There are two game mods – “Rescue” (based off the Insurgency gameply in PR) and “Cleanout” based on AAS – Attack And Secure. In Rescue, you have your main base of operations and when certain criteria are met (X number of zombies killed, etc) a marker pops up on that map indicating where people are that need to be rescued. It is that simple. While the first portion of the game will be building defences (bunkers, firebases, barbed wire fences, Heavy Machine gun nests, etc) and defending the main spawn point for the troops, the second part is having squads go out and search for survivors and save them. Just like in PR, you can set forward bases and encampments. Save X number of civvies and you win. Have your army wiped out and you lose. The survivors are always there (as the weapon caches are in Insurgency) and the markers are just to help a team a long who is having a hard time finding them. The survivors will typically be in buildings or on roofs and have some minor defences built up keeping the zombies out – so we will have to add a timer as those defences won’t hold up forever. AAS mode has a series of capturable areas that must be taken in a specific order (ensuring that action is easy to be found) and there are always two points available for capture – which also means there are always two points that need to be defended. Zombies can overthrow any compound and push the army back. To win, capture and hold all points. Run out of tickets and you lose.

I would like to see a change in how the Zombies work. Typically you either have fast zombies, or slow zombies, and usually always stupid zombies. To build on the excitement and experience, there should be at least three type of zombies : The typical slow moving dumb ones (Dawn of the Dead), which there are a ton of, mix in a healthy dose of fast moving ones (28 days later), and have a few smarter ones – ones that take cover and still know how to use a gun – although not as effective as in their human state (Canadian Armed Forces). To make this fit in the storyline it is as simple as stating the longer a zombie is a zombie, the more they degrade to the slow/stupid state as their bodies break down. Mixing up zombie types would add a layer of fun to the game and force players to adjust tactics depending on what they are facing. Zombies would also have to have the capability to damage constructs and vehicles with their bare hands so tanks just cant roam around untouchable – of course it would be very limited damage but swarms could be effective against assets. In every map, there will be unlimited zombies but their spawn rate would be proportionate to the size of the map, the number of people in Co-op, and how many objectives are remaining. It would be a challenge to balance the feeling of dread but modders/programmers are very clever.

I could go on and on to make a fantastic zombie mod. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources or talents to mod, so I will continue to dream it up and see if my fairy princess (no, not you Velocityboy) arrives and grants me my wish. If you haven’t played PR before some of the above probably doesn’t make sense or sound as good to you as it should. If you have played PR you will know what I am talking about, and I am talking pure sweet FPS zombie on zombie sandbox action. If that doesn’t turn you on then something is wrong with you.

GET DOWN WITH R-M-T (yeah you know me!)

Obscure musical reference. Probably sad that I think that is obscure. Free comment post to whoever figures that one out first.

Real Money Transfers. The Yankees, Bill Gates, and Jack Thompson loathe of most MMO gamers. You will probably add my name to the loathing list when I tell you that with a few changes, the underground RMT model would actually be good for gaming. Whoa! was that a tomato you just threw at me? That’s okay, I’ll make a RMT sandwich with that, a slice of bacon, and two pieces of whole wheat bread.

With all the hubbub with the underground RMT world the sad truth is it is a market easily crushed – and while doing so, properly, could be a celebrated event for gamers. MMO’s are one colossal universal competition. My MMO is better than your MMO. My Guild is better than your guild. My toon is better than your toon. My Sword of Ultimate Truth is better than your Hammer of Justice. And so on. The problem with MMO’s is that to be the best (or simply just enjoy yourself) it isn’t solely about skill – it is about time. I guarantee you, if I could play <insert MMO of your choice> 40-50 hours a week compared to your 10-15 hours a week I will be “better” at it than you. (Divorced, probably overweight, and dealing with a bout of carpal tunnel to boot – but still, “better”). Couple the time issue with those same competition obsessed players willing to spend money on in game things to get even further ahead and the disparity widens. Enter RMT to save the day.

I bought gold in WoW once. Probably from a company that hijacked you and your guildmate’s account to provide me with that gold. I apologize for that. Honestly, I didn’t think I was hurting anyone and was actually supplying 10 year old kids with a much needed 30 cent an hour job to care for their 8 brothers and sisters. I felt dirty, like sneakily downloading porn while my wife knitted a sweater for her ailing grandmother but I did it, and it felt good.

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