Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Changing the Game

Missing content seems to be a big issue on the GuildWars 2 forums lately with all the "temporary" content that comes and goes so some people are angry that they have to actually make time to play the game or miss out (this is actually common in many MMORPGs). Some have suggested being able to "replay" missed content which is ok I guess, but GW2 doesn't seem designed in lore or in practicallity to handle that so well unlike Mabinogi which caters for it splendidly for main arcs, however even there there are hot-time events and most things only also run for two weeks. Someone likened the experience to watching Game of Thrones, but missing an episode which was then destroyed forever because it is temporary content. My counter was this:

"I can just imagine Rickon Stark (youngest of Eddard’s kids) being annoyed that he can’t take part in the final part of the Baratheon rebellion against the Targaryens because he hadn’t made his character yet when those events took place and now argues with the old gods and the new to make a time loop so that that battle can continue to happen, along side the day to day life at King’s Landing, the numerous weddings, and the battle of the Blackwater at the same time so he can take part in all of them, knowing that no matter what he does it won’t change the outcome but he doesn’t care. At least this way he gets to experience it. Reading about it or being told about it afterwards isn’t good enough you see. He has to live it."

That's the sort of the logic that people who want replayable content to follow, and in some cases it simply just doesn't work. Then ofcourse there's the content which no one would replay anyway - I'm specifically talking about their latest release involving a solo enemy dungeon where instead of being able to use all those skills the rest of the game was encouraging you to get better at, you need to pickup an "everyman" tool to defeat him with gimmicks regardless of who your character is. When you alter the game in such a way, it should always be "more fun" than the standard. The Super Adventure Box did it. Hell even Bloodrayne did it in one level instead of slicing and draining everyone dead she was in a nazi-mecha (though the video poster disagrees with it being "fun"). :P

To be fair, there's not a lot Bloodrayne can't do.

One thing GW2 and Mabinogi have going for them though is that they clearly state what and when content is going to appear/vanish. As a contrast Age of Conan celebrated it's fifth year anniversary by having five days of giant bosses attacking random parts of the world. They didn't say where or when. I logged in to see if I could find them and the short answer was nope. I wouldn't have even known I missed anything if they didn't put the announcement up. Did it matter in the overall scheme of things? Not really.

Meanwhile in Neverwinter, where most of my time is spent creating my campaign in the foundry (only like 5% done >.<), my character just logs in for the shortest amounts of time to pray and send his mercs on missions. Both of those actually generate a bit of XP and some coin which I find interesting, given that I'm not actually "playing" the game. Ofcourse I was slightly surprised then to learn that I had out levelled some instanced quests that I was waiting on my guild to do, and could no longer participate in them. Odd given that all the foundry quests can already adjust to party level that their main content doesn't but it isn't really a big deal though because I like the thought that my dude's too busy to handle every little problem that occurs and that he wisely lets others take care of garbage that's unworthy of his time. If only more people viewed their MMORPGs the same way, maybe there'd be less complaints about missing content.

As a last bit of wisdom/common-sense: Real life > In Game. There's no amount of MMORPG gold, exp, monster slaying glory that can compete with experiences in real life. Just remember that kiddos! ;)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Eurovision 2013

A musical post for a change! One of the guilty pleasures I have is watching this Eurovision stuff because most of the time the performances are just silly or flat. For the benefit of those who do not get it in their countries I've put numerous links in this post to give you a taste! This year wasn't as crazy as in the past as there were no Latvian pirates, singing demons, lucky Moldovans, or dancing ukranian alien crossdressers to leave us running scared but at least they did have a giant, a mellow Thor, Dracula, Asterix and leggy dames who wanted to either marry you or feed you their love. Still a fun watch, and as usual my favoured one to win didn't (I always pick the silly ones so Dracula or Asterix for me! :P) - leaving Only Tears which is a far cry from the Fairytale which was one of the more deserving winners in my book.

I guess I know what's in his flask now!

Not part of Eurovision but another song stuck in my head at the moment is Space Oddity version sung by astronaut Chris Hadfield (which is far superior to the original not just because of the setting) and going with the musical theme I guess it's ok to say that I'm trying to learn A Thousand Years now too (sans the Twilight parts). :P

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Simple Cure for Hiccups

Something off tangent today, and probably something other people already know but that I only learned recently thanks to my lovely wife. This certainly works for me when I have hiccups - hope it helps someone out there too!

Step 1: Hold Breath
Step 2: Drink Water while Holding Breath.

That's it, hiccups cured in the time it takes to pour yourself a glass of water and drink it. :)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Neverwinter: The Pull of Dungeons and Dragons

Finally got around to trying out Neverwinter Online last week and promptly trained up my dude to level 20 in short order. This was partially because I was helping my other brother level as well, and because I wanted to reach level 15 which is the unlock point for the Foundry (player quest editor), but more on that later. The game is heavy on combat and plays a lot like a mixture of Guildwars 2 and Diablo 3 with graphics level somewhere inbetween the two.

You can have parties of 5 (ala GW2) and each have an active companion NPC (bringing it up to 10) one of whom you get for free at level 16. Enemies special attacks are indicated by red warning markers on the ground which you can actively dodge if you have enough stamina (again ala GW2), and the number of combat skills you will have will out number the few usable slots available meaning you'll need to pick before getting into combat (a lot like D3). There's no real free roaming travel but instead instanced zones of interest where adventures take place.

There are a TON of currency items which I don't particularly like, but at least this time you get a free bag to contain them all unlike GW2. Apart from gold you have grindable seals, cash shop currency and god coins which you literally have to pray (in game) everyday for. Each day you miss a prayer, you lose some of them. Ofcourse all of them buy wierd and wonderful things not necessarily shared by the other. It's picturesque and is rather fun to play, though making a decent looking character can be kinda challenging.

There's a reason it's a silhouette.

What really hooked me though is the Foundry. Here players can create their OWN quests and campaigns which can be published for the rest of the online community to play (after it passes the playtester moderation I would assume). They are accessed through job boards or via Harper NPCs in the main game responsible for handing out quests in each particular region which I think is pretty cool.

The creation tools are VERY simple and easy to use, making the old Neverwinter Nights editor looks like complex programming too. However with that ease comes quite a bit of restriction, some due to abusers and some simply because. For example enemies and loot are autoscaled to the people playing it, which is pretty handy until you want to throw in something obscenely strong or drop a specific helmet. Also given its nature the quests you can create are pretty linear and not as free flowing as the ones you could make in NWN, at least not without a bit of work. Obviously it's nowhere close to the freedom of a table top environment.

Hasn't stopped me though! Well, it has kinda. I've stopped playing the ingame adventures to start making one of my own - I'll let you know how it goes! :D

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Blood Dragon - Tasty Retro Goodness!

I've never played FarCry 3 though I've been meaning to - however since I'm very stingy with the moneys I instead went for its cheaper throwback version called Blood Dragon and man is it a blast to play! It takes place in a post apocalyptic future where everything is neon (even the wildlife, because neon = future) and when you have mission objectives like "punch the nuclear reactor", you understand what type of game it is. Michael Beihn does a great job voicing the numerous one liners as the protagonist and there are a ton of places I was laughing my ass off while trying to complete objectives. The old school, lacking in animation cutscenes and questionable plot work well too for those of us who remember the old games that used that and the soundtrack really fits into the theme. The gameplay itself however is not old school at all, it is a polished and well-performing modern first person shooter with many sidequests to keep yourself busy for a few hours.

They shoot lasers out of their eyes!

It isn't perfect though - in my case it didn't like my graphics card meaning every 10 or so minutes it would crash out to desktop. This isn't too bad since you can save the game in most parts... EXCEPT when doing main story missions which uses the checkpoint system (and all checkpoints are wiped on reboot). My usual tactics of being sneaky had to go out the window to compensate for this, meaning I had to rambo my way through each as fast as possible. This brings me to my second problem, and maybe one that's only a problem for me: it's too easy. I was playing on the hardest mode, ramboing through everything (cover? what's cover?) and died maybe 3 times in the whole game. Then again what kind of 80's action movie didn't have an overpowered protagonist anyway? :P

Even with all the sidequests it is a pretty short game, but still definitely worth it for the low price - and I highly recommend trying it out!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Deal Breaker: Melted Alliance

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

And so with a large and quite badly planned explosion that resulted in multiple casualties of dredge, flame legion, and all of their captives, ArenaNet's "Flame & Frost" chapter of the Living Story drew to a close, leaving us with some ugly gauntlets, a few questions, and a pretty resounding "meh". The finale was a large underground weapons facility which sounds fun, except you can only go in with 5 people since it is a dungeon instance and comes complete with the trapings of numerous overpowered baddies and random traps. Also, all the trouble the molten crew took with getting captives was simply so they could mine stuff and eventually have ridiculous weapons tested on them. The silly bad guys didn't know what happens when you squish or burn someone apparently. Still it was ok, and was not as annoying as getting into and through Arah to shoot a lame (literally) dragon. My favourite bad guy was also in there - the dredge weapons tester miniboss. Why? Because he is funny, doesn't kill outright and when he showed up personally dies in one hit. In fact I think he is the only "standard" mob in the whole place with everything else being veterans or better. Kinda sad that of all the things, HE was the main highlight for me after all those months.

Though the bosses were entertaining too, in a dodge or die kinda way.

As everyone suspected there's a puppeteer pulling their strings (a female one at that), still in the shadows. We'll probably run into her later in the next story arc in Southsun Cove. Would be cool if it was Riel though. With the Super Adventure Box now closed and undergoing "upgrades" it seems I have little reason to hang around here again. Maybe I shouldn't be so negative on ANet's quest building team and try find out just how hard it is to make one on my own. Apparently that's one of the features of this other MMO called Neverwinter...

Monday, 6 May 2013

Eight Pages of Doom

Thanks to Nodwick (specifically the Full Frontal Nerdity webcomic [02 May 2013]) I was introduced to the strange and unsettling game called Slender: The Eight Pages. It's premise is pretty simple, collect 8 pages in some dark foggy woods and don't get caught by the only other thing in that area while doing so.

Easy controls, limited zone, you'd think it would be easy - except the pages spawn in different places each round and your stalker, the Slender Man, is very very sneaky and doesn't "move" in the natural way. In fact, he doesn't move at all if you are looking at him - he just drives you insane when you do. It's rare for a game to be able to scare me so well, but this is one of those cases where a simple game just works and does it's job spectacularly. It's free too so I highly recommend trying it out for yourself!

He's coming to get you.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Old Sewers: New Trials

Part of the journals from Wizardry Online! You can view the rest here!

While Selenka has been working hard on her cartography project, the big guy and I got a mission from Zermu Terlu to take out something called Abadon within the Old Sewers. More importantly, the beauty in black was reportedly sighted down there giving Caanon all the more reason to charge in to find her and her posse. Turns out the "Old Sewers" ARE the Caligrase Sewers, just with more paths opened up thanks to another survey team. Gone are the zombies and bandits; instead now we have a Blue Feather cult training grounds, the Balboa family - a demihuman group of refugees, and deeper in cursed coins and terrible insects.

Unfortunately now the path further in is blocked by some giant imp, the possessed and deformed body of a baby sacrificed by the Blue Feather cultists no doubt. Caanon is not quite sure how we'll get past that thing as of yet.

Back at Illfalo Port, a wizard from the Ministry of Magic has found an unstable portal to some testing grounds of their own. I went in with three porkul-pickers: Quark Wolind, Macu Meng and Raven Daydream to face the challenge rooms of ever increasing difficulty. Unfortunately we only got half way (I think) through the whole thing but it was still a good boost to both soul and gold funds. Lastly it seems Winter2 Silence has been busy causing chaos in town. It seems even other criminals are wary of her since she hunts everyone outside the Temple of Oblivion - it sounds like she's almost unstoppable. Makes me wonder how many other high powered individuals exist that I just haven't heard about.

As an aside, found something quite interesting in the town library too.

I'm as surprised as these two!