Friday, August 20, 2010

Wow ... it's been a long time since I posted last. And there's been a lot to talk about. Here goes:


Gaming drought has come and gone, and come and gone again since last time. I've played a lot of games since then and am currently back to somewhat of a drought, but not quite.


Here's an update on what I mentioned last post. I'm going to go point form for easier reading.
  • Bad Company 2: Pretty much abandoned this game, as I have no desire to gain the unlocks and the players in general are fucking morons. Inferno and I teamed up a little but he died, a LOT. I don't think he was getting to into it, but he was also experiencing a lot of lag from his wireless connection. Maybe when he gets his hardline installed we'll spark BC2 back up.
  • Shattered Horizon is DEAD. There is never more than 10-15 people playing SH any time I've logged in. And usually I get 2 rounds before people start leaving. Maybe once the hard copies come out in Europe there will be more people.
  • Red Dead Redemption: War and I got one ONE NIGHT of MP out of RDR. The MP is so utterly simplified compared to the SP that it's pathetic. It becomes either Deathmatch style games or grinding gang hideouts in co-op OVER AND OVER. Totally a let down. The SP was top notch, just the MP was boring.
  • GTA4 DLC: Bought and played through both The Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony. TBOGT was much better, IMO. TLAD was good for gunfights, but the story and characters were so generic it was super dull. TBOGT was more over the top and the characters were very believable. I never did any of the extra stuff in either cause it wasn't too interesting. Plot missions almost entirely.
  • Lord of the Rings Online: I haven't played this in months, probably from shortly after last post. I never got into my Captain, even after giving him a somewhat solid go. Mostly due to the fact that I was bored and lonely in LotRO. I didn't see Inferno at all, and no one from War Seekers was interested. There's barely any people in the lower zones, and even region chat is near dead unless you're in Bree. Also the upcoming F2P changes to LotRO have put me off putting in any time, for fear it will be all for nothing later on.

In new games I DLed a pirated copy of Starcraft 2, just so I could see the story and watch the cool cinematics. But to my dismay, there are only 4 cinematics, and I saw all but 1 before the game was even out. They use in-game cinematics more than anything, and they aren't anywhere near as interesting. Also the plot is thin, and not all that interesting.

Overall, I'd never purchase SC2, especially since it plays almost EXACTLY as SC1 which came out 12 years ago. And I was never interesting in SC1 that much when it came out, so SC2 doesn't do anything for me either. Dawn of War 1 and 2 are far better RTS games, IMO. World in Conflict is another RTS/RTT game that blows the standard SC RTS formula out of the water, IMO. Base building and resource gathering is fucking stupid timesinks. The fighting should be all I'm worried about, not boring, slow gameplay from 12 years ago.


I also picked up a bunch of XBox Live! Arcade games for my 360, and have played a bunch of them. The best one by far is Monday Night Combat. Kind of a 3rd person shooter mix of Team Fortress 2, DOTA and any tower defense game. It's really fun. And the humour in it is great. It's kind of like BloodBowl in it's delivery as well. Awesome fun. The online MP is lots of fun, but I'm not too sure it's worth the XBox Live! monthly cost at all. I might get a Live! gamecard to add some time to my account, but I doubt I'm ever going to subscribe to Live! Gold ever again, especially since I have to phone Microsoft to cancel the recurring subscription now. Used to be able to click an option on the Live! account page, but that's been disabled for all but US players. Fucking stupid.


In guild news, we're all split up now and it sucks.

A few people are in EQ2 now. I tried to play the trial again (for like the 5th time) but the game is SO BAD I just can't make myself play for more than a couple hours. The GFX are terrible, the animations are FUCKING BRUTAL, and the landscapes are utterly devoid of life, IMO. It's one of the worst MMOs I've ever played and I have no idea how people defend it. Sure, it probably has a lot of content, but the core gameplay and visuals are terrible. If they reskinned EQ2 and redid all the animations it would probably be really good. But it seems SOE developed the game engine first, the quests second, and the art and animations dead last. I always thought that LotRO animations were kinda bad, but EQ2 is so bad it makes LotRO seem like a dream.

War and Bel are still plugging away in Aion, which has the new 2.0 update apparently. Bel is saying it's like a new game, but since I got so burned by the game at the start and the utter grind in the higher levels, I'm totally not interested. Maybe if I have some gaming drought in the future and want to waste 15 bucks to see how it is, I'll resub. Also, there were major server mergers so now there are like 4-5 servers instead of 12 or something. Elyos are dominant on all but 1 so there's major QQ all around now. /facepalm @ NCSoft

A few people, not sure how many, are back in WAR, but I think they aren't that active. WAR doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and there's like 4 servers now, so the population is almost nil. My Chosen was cool and all, but the game wasn't near what I wanted, especially looking back at it now, and I bet it's still as buggy/laggy as hell.

Most of the guild is waiting on Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic, still. Since both are due sometime next year (possibly 2012, IMO), there's little reason to get hyped, at least as I see it. Aion burned us all so bad, we've become cynical towards MMOs for the most part.

War and I both tried out All Points Bulletin, and while we sung it's praises at the beginning, the rose coloured glasses soon came off and we found out how fucking repetitive it got. No one but 1 guildie picked it up, and now in recent news RealTime Worlds, the developer of APB, is going bankrupt, after wasting near $100 million on APB. It's going to be the new Tabula Rasa/SWG NGE MMO fiasco that everyone will point to and say, "Whatever you do, don't do what they did." Seriously bad news, especially since that $100 million could have been used to make so many good games otherwise.


And lastly in gaming news, I've started playing Champions Online. It was really a shot in the dark, since I had only heard bad things about CO, especially compared to City of Heroes. But since War and his wife were playing, I figured I'd try the demo on Steam and give it a shot. I have to say I've been happily surprised at CO and can actually see playing it for a decent amount of time. Sure I've been in CO long enough to see the flaws people have talked about, but the base game is sound, IMO.
  • Combat is thoroughly enjoyable, sometimes completely awesome at times.
  • YOU CAN THROW CARS! Yes! Finally a Superhero MMO that lets me do what I've always wanted since Freedom Force.
  • The graphics are top notch, especially compared to CoH, and the graphic novel look I was so hesitant about back when CO came out actually works very well, IMO.
  • The character creation is epic, better than CoH and STO, I think.
  • The open frameworks for characters mean no classes like CoH, which is something I ADORE, and takes me back to my SWG days.
  • The community is for the most part really awesome, and chats a bunch in /zone so I always have the semblance of people around me, a nice change from the loneliness of LotRO.
  • There are PvP instances, joinable from anywhere, and one of them has ZOMBIES! Yes!
  • And the levelling speed is much better than CoH, so I'm not grinding like hell just to get a level, even in the early teens. I think CO can be an MMO where I actually hit the level cap for once, something I haven't done since I hit the skill cap in SWG back in 2003!
All in all, CO has been a nice change of pace in MMOs for me, and kind of a throwback to my fun days in CoH, minus the bad stuff like grinding. If I could find a cool RP guild to join in CO I'd be set. War and his wife don't play anymore, I think, so there's no War Seekers to join up with. But since the CO community is rather good natured, I'm sure I could meet some cool people to RP with.


As for Farscape, I watched all of it, including the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries finale. It's become my favourite sci-fi show ever now. Crichton is by far my favourite character. He's so awesome. And Aeryn (Claudia Black) is so DAMN HOT it hurts. *droooool*

In other TV, most of my shows are over for the season, but True Blood is on. And it's getting good again, aside from the fallback to soft core porny scenes recently. Aside from that, the plot is getting really interesting. And Eric is by far my favourite character in True Blood. Viking Vampire from Sweden? Hell yes!


In tabletop, we had 1 intro session of Nihil's game, in which he got VERY annoyed with the one guy, and that's it. Pretty much no gaming in over 3 months. It fucking sucks.

I've done a bunch of work on my Mass Effect game, basically writing out the entire plot of the campaign and fleshing out the details of the first mission.

I've also picked up the Mutants and Masterminds books, based on the d20 system. Mostly because of Champions, and I've watched all my superhero movies over the last couple months. Though it's like DnD 3.5, it's different enough that I like it, especially for something like a Superhero game. I'm going to run it as a filler game, if I ever can, so that we have a fallback option if our main game is out for a night. Since it's d20, it's super easy to play and familiar enough for everyone that playing should be a painless affair.


And I haven't been keeping up with my reading, AT ALL. It sucks, but with all the games I've been playing and my odd schedule at work now, I just haven't had the time to get into them. Maybe in a month or so when things settle down.


That's it for now. See you next time!

The Rev.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Complain about the rain and you'll end up with a drought.

As the title suggests, I'm kind of in a gaming drought ATM. I had a few games to play, but it has quickly whittled down to 1.


Mass Effect 2 was a great game while it lasted. The main complaint I have is the stupid scanning mechanic for minerals. Had they just had minerals in the missions you had to get it would have been a lot better. The sense of exploration was missing in this one as there were only a scant number of exploration missions, and they were all quick affairs on tiny, though very atmospheric maps.

Mass Effect 2 did nail down the maps though. Every location feels different for the most part, there isn't the recycled feeling of ME1. And some of the maps have intense background shots.

The characters were interesting, though I found that the familiar faces from ME1 were my favourites. Maybe it's cause they are the most developed, and maybe it's because they are more good aligned. The mercenary style characters in ME2 are not all that interesting, really. I had no real connection with them, aside from Zaeed, who unfortunately doesn't have near enough screen time, as he's part of a DLC pack.

And I was a little annoyed at the major nerf to Biotics in ME2, as my character in ME1 was an Adept. But it did make the fights more challenging, instead of what they devolved to in the later stages of ME1: "Fire Singularity, watch enemies float around helplessly, kill them like fish in a barrel". Though Shockwave did become kind of cheap in a similar manner later on.

But all in all, ME2 was an epic sci-fi game. It got me all stoked to run a Mass Effect tabletop game using GURPS with the guys. I'll talk about that later.


As for Bad Company 2, I've kind of become disillusioned with it. Simply put, the playerbase has NO FUCKING IDEA how to play as a team, and it just irritates me to no end. When my team does nothing but snipe, or run around all solo, and we lose because of it, it maddens me. I simply don't have the will to submit myself to it anymore. I'd actually rather play CoD4, where it's fine if people do that.

Also, I doubt that Kofi will get a new PC anytime soon, as he's got a new car in mind, so he's out. Inferno would probably be interested, but our corresponding spare time is next to nil ATM, so there's no reason. And Warmachine from my guild hasn't played in weeks. Maybe for the same reasons as me. Maybe because it took him 1 day of lots of playtime to get all the Assault unlocks. Yeah ... super easy.

I think it took me one evening to get most of the Medic unlocks. And most of that was about 3 rounds with a really good squad. Compared to 2142, it's fucking simple.

Oh well, BC2 might be better later on, when the CoD style morons go play MW2's Stimulus Package expansion or the next best thing. Maybe then the remaining players will be true Battlefield fans.


Hopefully, the upcoming Firepower Pack for Shattered Horizon will coax some more people back to the game. SH is much more interesting, though I'm worried that the new weapons will unbalance the game a little. Even if it's a little unbalanced though, the better players, 3D fighting and space locale will keep me entertained.


In the guild, nothing new has come up at all. People are still checking in to see what everyone is playing, hoping that there's /something/ that could bring us all back together.

Guild Wars 2 has piqued a lot of our interests. Their design blogs are very interesting and give us hope that ArenaNet is working to make a great MMO.

Of course people are still waiting on The Old Republic. Though TOR isn't slated to be out until spring 2011, so we've got a long wait. Personally, I don't want to get all hyped up for it, as it will just let me down in the end if I do. I just want the game to be challenging, have interesting classes (namely the Imperial Agent!), and have an interesting enough story that I might want to play it again with an alt.

Bioware does seem to have one good design philosophy in mind that I like: Multiple heroes beating on one enemy is NOT heroic at all. They are going for the City of Heroes method of 1 hero vs. multiple enemy mobs. And that excites me. I would love it if TOR had CoX style combat, as it was some of the best combat I've had in an MMO. Adds weren't death, and when the fight was over, you felt like you kicked some ass for real. Sounds very cool. But again, trying to not get my hopes up.


One game that Warmachine and I are both looking at is Red Dead Redemption for the XBox 360. He's already pre-ordered it, but I will probably get it too. It looks to be Rockstar's version of GTA, but set in the Old West. The big feature that War and I like is the online multiplayer where you can just roam around the world together, or separately. It has deathmatch and other "traditional" multiplayer aspects, but the free roam part sounds the most cool. I will probably renew my Live! Gold account for 1 month at least so that War and I can team up a bit.

But, if it's anything like GTA4 online MP, I doubt it will hook me for too long. I figure that War and I can get some cool MP out of it for a month or so before the repetitive nature rears its ugly head, and we see how MMO-lite it is.

Hopefully the SP will be good enough on it's own to make the game worth it.


I /might/ get the two DLC packs for GTA4 before that though. This gaming drought has me looking hard for options, and /supposedly/, both DLC packs are good enough to be games on their own. I can get them via the Live! Marketplace and use 4GB of my 360's drive, or I can spend like $3-5 more and get them on a disc that uses no space. Hmmm ... I wonder which one I will get? DURR! Stupid MS online pricing.

The DLC for GTA4 can also get me into the mood for RDR, and get me used to the controller again. As well, I can lend it to Inferno or Nihil, who both own GTA4 as well.


Well, the gaming drought has also got me to play a LOT more Lord of the Rings Online too. I was playing somewhat with Inferno, but since his schedule and mine haven't worked out for a while, I've been playing solo. First I did some low level deeds to get my traits up higher, but earned no XP in the process, as they were all grey to me. I did get some XP from Shire quests for the Innocence trait, but it wasn't even 1/4th a level for 75 quests.

After fooling around with that for a long time, I've decided that I need to play my Captain solo instead, so that I can give the game a serious go. Only playing with Inferno means 1-2 nights a month, maybe, and there's no need to pay 15 bucks a month for that. That's almost as bad as my 2 years of XBox Live! for $120 (60/yr) with 4 times played online, all within the first month.

So, if I find I have enough fun playing my Captain solo, I'm going to stick with LotRO for a while. I might get a 3 month sub as it works out to the normal cost for 2. $9.99 / month is a lot better if I'm not playing a ton, than 15 bucks.

I might try and get into a guild in LotRO too, or see if any of the War Seekers are interested in joining me. Cause if I have some peeps to chat with while I solo, it's just that much more likely that I will stick around. Plus, I might be able to find some RPers that I like to RP with, and maybe for once get interested in fantasy RP. I've really found it hard in the past.


In TV I've been trying to keep up with my shows, but sometimes I forget. None of them are really gripping me that much right now, so it's hard to remember. Also when they keep having 1-2 week hiatuses all the fucking time.

Nihil did get me to give an old sci-fi show a chance though. He said that Farscape was the best sci-fi show ever, and it's his favourite. I watched a couple episodes on the Net, and I remembered seeing parts of the show years ago on TV, but it never caught my eye. Now after watching the first 6 episodes of season 1, I'm in. The sets and costumes aren't super high tech, but the characters are interesting and the show is engaging. I love Crichton, and even Rigel is getting interesting, especially for a puppet. Though all the puppets are Henson production ones, so they are top quality. Farscape is also helpful in giving me ideas for the Mass Effect game I want to run.

I want to watch more episodes, but at 4 seasons and 20+ shows per season, all 45+ mins in length, there's a lot to watch. Inferno also lent me Burn Notice and told me I HAVE to watch it, even though I was adamant I don't have the time.


In tabletop we've wrapped up Inferno's Cyberpunk game, and we all survived to our amazement. Best part was my character got a crotch rocket style motorcycle and that's something he'd most definitely want. Our one gaming buddy seemed a bit put off that we weren't playing all friendly near the end, but he has no clue how to play Cyberpunk. There's no "we share the loot equally" in Cyberpunk. It's usually a "You're lucky I don't shoot you and take your share of the loot" type of thing.

Since Nihil hasn't got completely prepared to run his Urban Fantasy game yet, we dove into a short session of Cthulhu run by Blake. But our one buddy I mentioned above also has no idea how to play a mystery game. He kept playing it like a game, not like his actual character would. It was very annoying to Nihil apparently.

Inferno, Nihil and I joked the other weekend how it would be awesome if we could ditch that guy and pick up another buddy of ours. But there's no easy way to do that, and he'd never leave willingly. He probably feels like it's "his group" too, even though it's been Inferno, Blake and myself for the vast majority of it. Nihil was around in the beginning too, it's just he didn't live here for the DnD years.

Nihil's game should hopefully be pretty cool, and I really like my character, even though I pretty much stole him from Shale in Dragon Age. He's also a mix of Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek, maybe a little of Arnie's Terminator from the movies as well. Pretty much he's a sentient stone golem, who's trying to figure out the world around him, and how "fleshies" think. That's his name for mortals. Kind of like HK-47 in Knights of the Old Republic. I even drew a picture of him, and used a pic of Hellboy as the outline, tracing a lot of the original. See? I'm stealing from everyone.


After trying to work out how I wanted to do my Mass Effect game, I started with the Star Wars d20 system. It has the epic, cinematic feel to the game and I wanted the players to feel like they were part of something bigger that themselves.

But after working out races, which I didn't like how they had to have negative modifiers to balance positive ones, I went on to classes. And there was when I quickly realized that converting d20 to Mass Effect was way too much work. Just trying to figure out what to give the classes for saving throw bonuses, and feats was mind boggling.

Then trying to figure out how Biotics should work, and if they were balanced vs. everyone else was just tedious. As soon as I wound up trying to playtest a combat scenario and realized how much math I'd have to check, I figured GURPS was the far better choice.

So I naturally went on the Steve Jackson website and checked the GURPS forums for a Mass Effect thread. Low and behold I found a 17+ page one, with lots of Biotics conversions, races, armour and guns already worked out. After looking at what other people had done, it was a few hours and I had all the races, weapons, and armour worked out. A couple more and Biotics was mostly done too, though it proved to be very costly in character points.

I've tried to get the guys interested in it, but since I'm the only one who's played Mass Effect 1, let alone 2, they didn't seem super keen. Our one gaming buddy, the powergamer one, did seem somewhat more interested when I talked to him after the session. He said he loves Sci-fi more than fantasy, so he's more like me. I think the rest of the group are more fantasy lovers than sci-fi fans.

One thing that is great about Mass Effect is all the lore that is already laid out from the two games, and it's all readily available from the web. The Mass Effect wikia is a great resource, and it allows the other guys to peruse the background story at any time. It also doesn't require me to type up much of anything, and it is somewhat simplified, as compared to something like Star Wars which has over 50 alien races in the Alien Anthology alone.

Star Wars doesn't work as a gaming setting unless everyone has a similar background knowledge of the world. I tried running a Star Wars game before and it ended up like Cyberpunk, but in Star Wars. And anytime I mentioned something like "rodian", "sullustan", "astromech droid", "Z-95 headhunter", "code cylinder" or whatnot, they all looked at me confused. Then I had to describe what it was, try and remember a movie appearance of the aforementioned thing, and continue. It was really jarring. If the group was all big Star Wars fans, I'd probably not have any issues.

Another big problem with Star Wars is that /everyone/ is going to want to be a Jedi, or Force user, so it just doesn't work out well.


And lastly, I have finally finished some more of the Gaunt's Ghosts books I have. I got the first book of the 4 part omnibook done, and I have to say it was a fucking good read. Really need to get reading more, but I have so many things I want to do, and it's not like they are going anywhere. They are especially good for when I have PC troubles, or have a gaming drought, like recently.


So there you have it. Another update. Hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading,
The Rev.

Friday, April 2, 2010

OMNOM! That's was good.

Well, consider my plate cleared for the moment. After the glut of gaming options a scant month ago, I'm now down to two games.


I'm going to try and streamline this so I don't ramble on like I normally do. Mostly cause I'm doing this rather late, and don't want to be typing forever.

First off, I /finally/ finished Dragon Age. This was in the most part due to a week's holidays I recently had, which gave me a lot of time to hammer out the end half of the game. Dragon Age was one of the best games I've played in a long time, with a few minor annoyances, but all in all it was great. Although, like most Bioware RPGS, it has the beginning, a totally open 2nd act where the bulk of the gameplay time comes from, and a tight and focused 3rd act and conclusion. I'm kind of getting bored of this type of RPG setup, as the game gives you all this wide open space to do whatever you want, then when you finally get back to the story, you're back on rails and stuck there.

I'd much rather have wider open acts that all have side stuff to do until right up to the end. Dragon Age was just like Fallout 3 and Oblivion for me. Spend countless hours doing everything I could find after the story is set, then get back to the main quest and finish the game off in a few hours. It's the side quests that make up the bulk of the time to finish the game. If I just did the main quest chain in rapid fire succession, I'm sure I could wrap the game in no time. Where's the fun in that?

Sure, games like Call of Duty 4 or Bad Company 2 have quick, epic singleplayer campaigns. But the games are sold for the multiplayer component first and foremost, games like Dragon Age have no multiplayer. They should be a better campaign design than simply designing the game to get players to replay it with a different characters. Sure, the origin stories in Dragon Age will be different, but I can bet the game is near the exact same with another character, so what's the point? I'd rather have a battle simulator that I could replay with different characters, so that I could see the other classes, try out different group setups, and use different tactics. Maybe have all the boss fights be replayable, or have free re-specs of characters. Borderlands actually has this, which I was unaware of until recently, and it is an awesome design.

For the cost of less than the money you get for vendoring a gun, you can completely re-spec your character. No worries about gimping yourself, nor about trying out different builds. You don't have to spend the countless hours replaying the game again, just to see how the end fight would be. Easy. Why can't RPGs be the same way?

Anyways, I went off on a tangent, exactly as I hoped not to, so I'll get back on track. Dragon Age = good. Replayability though, is not quite there I think. Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 were the same though, so I'm not sure it's just a Dragon Age thing.


Shattered Horizon has pretty much died now. It really took off after the free weekend, but since Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has come out, SH has gone to 1-2 populated servers in the evenings, one of which is usually in Europe. SH simply doesn't have enough for the CoD style FPS fans out there, where BC2 has it in spades.

Sorry SH, it was a good run. :(


Speaking of Bad Company 2, I finally picked it up, after beating Dragon Age, as Kofi already had it and I wanted an FPS to play since SH was dead. Unfortunately, Kofi's PC isn't up to snuff so we can't play together, but I've had fun playing on my own. Definitely not as fun as with Kofi, and the players of BC2 are most definitely not up to par compared to the BF2142 days.

Simply put, there is a very small minority (maybe 2-5%, IMO) of the BC2 players that actually know how to work as a team, or even in squads. CoD style FPSes are all about the individual player, not the team, so everyone does whatever they want. Back in 2142 players would actually work as a squad, and were usually complete strangers. Now in BC2, I can almost never even get a rez, or a healthkit, as every damn player is either Assault or a Recon (sniper). And god help you if the other team has even 1 squad that actually works as a team, cause then you're pretty much destined to lose. It's kind of saddening.

Hopefully though, Kofi will be able to upgrade his PC, as he said he's figured out he's got more money than he thought. Then we can actually work as a team. Kofi is /really good/ at working as a team, mostly cause his online gaming has pretty much been him and RL friends teaming up for YEARS. That's just how he games, and that's why they almost always win.

BC2 did have an awesome story, pretty standard fare, but coupled with the epic in-game combat, explosions, and destructible /everything/, it was a hell of a ride.

BC2 has taken over SH as my FPS game currently. It's also my filler game too, since it's "hop on and play", and doesn't require more than 15 mins or so per round.


My other game is Mass Effect 2. Yes, I finally opened the package and started playing the game. :P

I have noticed a few things so far that irk me, like the modified classes, no inventory, and reduced RPG aspects of the game. It feels more like a semi-TPS game now, like Gears of War, than the RPG I loved so much. The characters are still very cool and the story has me going, but so far, it's not hooked me like the first one, or anywhere near like Dragon Age did.

We'll see how it pans out, as I've only got a little into it so far. I'll update you on it when I've got some more hours in, or when I finish it. Whichever comes before my next update, I guess.


In guild news, pretty much everything has fizzled. Allods has lost almost all it's following, even the vocal Keen from Keen and Graev has put it aside for WoW (that's saying a lot). Star Trek Online is maybe played by 1 guildie, if that. Guild Wars seems to have been abandoned again, though any of us could rejoin later, so that's not a total loss. The few that were playing Global Agenda have left it, and all that's been talked about on the boards is chit chat and "what SP game are you playing?" type questions.

Hopefully something comes around to get us all back together again. Probably won't be until Star Wars: The Old Republic though. And that's like 1+ yrs at least. Sigh ...


Oh, in unexpected news I picked up a deal on Lord of the Rings Online the other day. They had a PAX East sale and had the base game + all expansions + 1 month of gametime for only $9.99! Since this can be applied to an existing account I simply couldn't resist. Even if it only grabs me for a month again, that's still less than if I had simply resubbed to my old account. And now I can try out all the expansion features as well. Double win!

Oh, and I'm sure Inferno will be super happy about it as well. Though his internet has been shit for a while so he doesn't play much. Should be resolved in the next month or so though. Cools. :D


In tabletop, we're /just/ wrapping up Inferno's Cyberpunk game. It's looking like we'll actually succeed even though I figured we'd TPK (Total Party Kill) on this last part. I actually got some bonus character points at the end of the session for great roleplaying and thinking on my feet. I have to say I did do a pretty bang up job. I figured my character was completely dead at one point, as I was alone vs. one NPC and my guy has shit for gun skills. Put it this way, he missed shooting a guy in the head at like 3 ft away. /facepalm. Yeah, he's the techie guy, not a combat character.

BUT ... due to his better than average Fast Talk skill and some quick thinking on my part, I got him out of a MAJOR jam with the NPC and the Police afterward. It was pretty effing sweet.

Up next on the agenda, and I'm totally stoked about this, is Nihil's Urban Fantasy game. He still hasn't typed up all the world info and stuff to email it to us, but we spent the one night making characters and running them by him as Blake had to cancel. I think Nihil is worried about how things might turn out, as he hasn't put concrete rules on character creation, also cause it's his first time GMing GURPS. He's GMed a lot of other games, plenty more XP (lol!) than me, but he's not 100% familiar with GURPS. I think I'm going to have to help him out a little, as I've GMed GURPS the most I think. Maybe Inferno has more XP with GMing GURPS, I dunno. Both of us are very good though, so Nihil should be fine. Blake is well informed on the system too.

Anyways, my character for his game is a Stone Golem. I pretty much ripped off Shale in Dragon Age initially, but I would really like to grow him into something more my own. I might throw some more Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation in him, as it's more what I was aiming at. More clueless non-human being than callous, uncaring machine creature. Shale is cool, but he's more of a non-good aligned creature than my guy is going to be. Especially since we're all supposed to be good types and we work for what is essentially a government organization to protect the people from the scary, supernatural shit they have no idea about. Very BPRD.

Oh, and my guy is called Jasperoid Slate. Both are types of metamorphic rock. I think it's kinda cool. Not sure if I'm going to go by "Jasper", or "Slate".

Hopefully it'll be fun, we'll see.


And TV has been pretty quiet, but that's not that unusual for this time of year (2 week hiatuses all the time).


That's about it. I'm sure something will come up soon enough.

Till then my friends!
The Rev.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Holy shit ... could I try and add more to my plate? I don't think it's overflowing enough.

It hasn't been that long but a lot has happened since last entry so I needed to share.


In the "too many games to play" category, I'm still behind the 8 ball. I finished Torchlight, which was pretty satisfying. It really doesn't end, as there is an "endless dungeon" with level scaled mobs, but the main plot is over so I had no desire to continue.

It was pretty awesome, though the difficulty once I hit the last few levels jumped astronomically and everything seemed to be able to 1-3 shot me. It was rather frustrating. I had to go "super cheese mode" and spam my AoE fireball arrow ability to just nuke everything. Lots of the time I did it from range when I couldn't even see the enemies cause of the fog of war.

The last boss fight was ridiculous as well. He took me a good 5-10 mins to beat, and I died at least a dozen times before I found a kind of cheap way to beat him. And then it was still a slog. Pretty cool boss though.

After finishing Torchlight I've moved on to Dragon Age, and for the most part I've been good, but lately I've been slipping again. Shattered Horizon had a free update and now there are 4 more maps (8 total). The new maps are awesome. I especially like the giant destroyed satellite dish and the huge mass driver. Both are epic. One new map is cool, but causes a lot of performance issues with people due to the lighting effects. Hopefully they find a way to optimize it.

Shattered Horizon has become an awesome filler game now, as it's easier to find a populated server, and rounds don't take that long. Plus, it's not nade/tube spam like CoD4, or effing chopper/airstrike spam. I hate that. A lot more tactics and skill in SH compared to CoD4.

I was thinking about getting Bayonetta for my 360, but I've decided against it, mostly due to financial reasons. I've been spending too much on gaming, and I need to reign it in a little. Aliens vs. Predator for PC is another game I was thinking about getting for the SP. But I might just try and pir8 it from a torrent instead. I know, I know ... it's bad. :(


As for Dragon Age, I've got a ways into it, but not as far as I'd hoped after the amount of time I've played. I think I'm just shy of 60 hrs and it doesn't feel like I'm anywhere near the end. Perhaps it's because I die a lot when fights go bad, especially on the Hard setting, so I end up playing the same thing over multiple times until I beat it. It's a total throwback to old school games, but I like that. New games are so fucking easy it's not fun, and they are over so quickly (I'm looking at YOU, CoD: MW series) that they aren't worth the effort. Even in a good game like Borderlands it got stupid easy near the end I was headshotting/insta-killing the enemies it became retarded.

Gimme old school games like X-COM: UFO Defense any day. You always felt like you were in danger and could lose your entire squad at any time in X-COM. That's what made it great. The actual fear of losing/dying. New games don't have that at all. Bioshock is a prime example, as the enemies don't even regain their health when you die, so all you do is rez in the chamber, run back and finish them off. Stupid ...

Anyways, DAO is really feeling like a mini-MMO to me, so it's pretty cool. I just wish it was MP like NWN2, so that I could duo with Inferno or something. The gameplay is effing sweet, and I love a lot of the abilities in it. I wish that DnD 3.5 was more like DAO, cause then I could see playing it more. Sadly, DnD 3.5 is pretty broken, IMO. More on that later.

So, now I'm trying to finish DAO, but it seems I can never find the urge to play it, as I know it's going to take me a few hours at least. And I always start playing games way too late in the evening so I don't want to stay up that late when I work in the morning. Thus, rounds of SH or internet surfing usually occur.

I have an unopened copy of Mass Effect 2 for my XBox 360 sitting on my TV stand too. I used XMas gift cards to get it, so I'm not worried about playing it yet. But, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 drops today and after watching the vids of it, Kofi and I are stoked. It looks like an awesome replacement for our old teamups in Battlefield 2142. Hopefully, this time with far less server issues and login problems.

Oh ... jesus. I totally forgot about all the MMO stuff, and the games with my guildies from Aion. Next section.


So, after Aion has left almost everyone from War Seekers down, and we're all looking for new games to play in the meantime (ie. while we wait for Star Wars: The Old Republic :P), we've been posting about stuff on our forums. This has led to people getting pulled in many different directions. Namely, me.

First, my one guildie mentioned Global Agenda. It's an FPS like game that mixes Team Fortress and Tribes with a sub fee part called Conquest. It's alliances (made of a bunch of agencies/guilds) at war with other alliances. And they take control of areas of the planet that are a hex map. It's kind of hard to summarize quickly, but suffice to say, it's like EVE PvP but in an FPS, and without the insane death penalty. Really cool sounding. Some players have said it's not ready for a sub fee (it's free right now while the devs tweak it), and it gets repetitive. But I'd kinda like another FPS, as I'm a BOOM! Headshot! nut, and I love games that are hop on and play. Also, it would be hella cool to team up with the guildies playing it.

Second, myself and 2 other guildies caught Allods Online through Keen and Graev's blog and were following it, as I mentioned last post. All seemed well up until the last stage of the Closed Beta. The company added a debuff upon death that stacks up to 4 times, and cripples your ability to fight even with 1 debuff. Then they made it last 50 MINUTES! at level 40, and is only removable with a Cash Shop (CS) item, Perfume, or by paying a lot of gold to an NPC. Also, the debuff applies during PvP. And Perfume gives you a huge HP buff. So they made it MANDATORY for PvP and most likely PvE.

THEN .... (WTF? there's MORE????) the publishers made the CS prices INSANE! Like 20 bucks for a bag that is 6 slots bigger. And $1.35 per hour of Perfume! Not to mention 6000 dollars for a max level rune for your gear. People went RABID.

Allods has lost all the following it had, and even though the publisher is talking about changing the CS prices this week, most people won't play it on principle now. Plus, the next patch coming from the Russian developers pushes the death debuff up to 2 HOURS at level 40.

Retarded ...

Third, we all discussed Star Trek Online at length, and most people decided it just wasn't something they were interested in. A few people picked it up, but I don't think they are still playing. Especially since Cryptic/Atari decided to try and pull a fast one on their subscribers.

They put the game up for 10 bucks off on the Atari site, plus added an ADDITIONAL 60 DAYS of playtime. Current players were OUTRAGED, as the game hasn't even hit it's first 30 and new buyers could get the game plus 90 days for less. Then Cryptic (or Atari, we really don't know) decided to try and cover the whole thing up by removing all posts to it, and changing their site. The people who did buy the game aren't getting the additional 60 days and CS reps tell them they are basically SOL. WTF? Cryptic/Atari have seemingly pulled an NGE, but with customer service instead. It's really going to hurt STO and their bottom line.

People think they did this as fiscal year end is at the end of the month, and they want to look good. Sadly, this will most likely have the exact opposite effect and almost kill STO.

And Last, after a bit of talking, myself and 2 of my guildies are giving Guild Wars a try. Though I think they are going to be a lot more hardcore than me, as I just don't have the time for GW, and I doubt I could keep up with their levelling pace anyways.


About the tabletop gaming, we've been playing Inferno's Cyberpunk game, using the GURPS system, for a few sessions now. I think it's been at least 5-6 as I've spent points and still have almost 19. But then I've been at every session and everyone else has missed at least one session.

The game has been cool, but our one gaming buddy is playing his random/impulsive self again and just getting into gunfights cause he's bored. It has REALLY annoyed the entire group so far, and the rest of us have discussed it at length. But it's cause he is really only familiar with the usual junior/high school DnD gaming sessions of, "There's bad guys. You kill them and take their stuff." He's not that into the mystery plot of the Cyberpunk game, and can't seem to keep his RPing in-line with his character. ie. he does things his character would most definitely NOT do.

Other than that, the game's been fun, and a very nice change of pace from standard fantasy trope. It seems the core 4 of us, Inferno, myself, Blake and Nihil (our other buddy), are all fed up with fantasy gaming in general and want to try out some new stuff. Nihil is thinking about GMing a fantasy/mystery game, similar to the Dresden Files novels. It would be kind of an urban fantasy game, with the PCs all being a part of a government agency, similar to the BPRD in Hellboy.

He hasn't specified anything though, but I'd really like to get a chance to play it. Nihil is really good at GMing, it's just he always runs out of steam/has RL issues/thinks he's doing it wrong, so games get abandoned. Hopefully, he can keep things going so we can try it a little. At least for a 6-10 session mini-campaign. I think I've been the only person in our group to GM consecutively for several months. My Warhammer fantasy game in GURPS was really fun, and the guys did seem to enjoy themselves a lot. Kinda makes me proud that one of our best gaming campaigns in recent years has been mine.

Blake has also expressed a desire to finish off our old Brightstone DnD 3.5 game, just to get some completion to the game. It was left off at a bad point so it would be nice to end it properly. And I really don't care about losing my characters anymore, so the next part which is supposedly a really deadly trap infested dungeon is fine by me.

Blake also wants to run a mini-campaign in a swashbuckling, pirate DnD gameworld. He was thinking about limiting the allowed material to the core 3 books too, so that we can avoid all the powergaming and "rules creep". He also thought of a Rifts style game, using the GURPS or BRP systems, would be cool too. Since Blake is a really good GM, and has had YEARS of GMing experience, I'm up for anything he runs. He's expressed interest in GMing a lot of different games, actually. Probably cause he's used to GMing a lot.


Another thing I've got on my agenda is more Warhammer 40k books. I picked up another 2 omnibuses, so I've got something like 3500 pages left to read again. I still haven't touched 2 of the omnis from the first batch.

Ooops ...


As for TV, I've got about 3 episodes of Smallville to watch still, and Legend of the Seeker and Big Bang Theory when they air. Also, I picked up the full series of Black Lagoon, an anime I DLed a few years back and liked, so I'm working my way through that too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Too many games ... and more stuff.

I seem to find myself in a quandary right now. I have so many good games I want to play, and more coming out soon/already released, that I can't play them all. I want to finish them, but it seems I can't devote enough time to any of them to progress very far. So I'm left with a bunch of games that are half finished, which I'll probably never play again. It's so damn frustrating.

The biggest issue that's come up is that I want to get Mass Effect 2, now that it's out, but I had to stop myself cause I still haven't finished Dragon Age. Yes, Dragon Age, the game that /everyone else/ has finished already, some more than once. And it's not like I don't really enjoy Dragon Age either, the times I have played usually wind up with me being up way too late and having to work in the morning. Perhaps that's it, I dunno. Maybe I'm subconsciously worried I will get too absorbed in any of my games that I keep myself from playing them, and end up spending my time reading blogs/forums on the Net or watching a movie.

Maybe also it's that when I do read a blog/forum, or watch a movie, it's a short/defined amount of time. I know if I watch a movie it will be over in 2 hrs so I can go do something else, or go to sleep. If I get gaming I lose track of time and end up being on the PC for longer than I wanted.

I do enjoy FPS games due to their short round length. I can frag a bunch and in a short time I've got my fix and can move on to something else. City of Heroes was nice when I played it cause I could hop on and do a couple missions in a half hour or so. It's not like I got a lot of a level in that time, but I could accomplish /something/. Playing Dragon Age I don't really like stopping until the story has progressed an chapter or so. Same when reading.

Guess I just wish that games would come in more small, defined "chunks" so I could game a little and feel like I did something, and not have to devote a few hours to gaming in a night. I never really liked instances in WoW, or any other MMO for that matter, as they all seemed to require at least a couple hours and I don't like being that restricted.

Maybe I'm just getting older and feel my time is more precious. Or maybe I just need to focus on one game at a time until completion, thus sparing me the hell of choosing which one to play. Though I do like having options, at least some quick options.


Also, I'm not sure I really want to play LotRO anymore. I know it hasn't even been a full month yet, but the game is just not attracting me enough to play it. And if I'm not playing it at least once a week, I'm not paying the subscription fee.

I know Inferno wants to duo with me more, as he's bugged me on more than one occasion. But I just don't have the stomach for gaming "marathons" as he likes to play. He can sit and play for 4-5 hrs /easy/, while I'm bored after a couple hours, and wind up theorycrafting stuff on the Net. Or reading forums.

I still don't understand him being so obsessive over MMOs, especially when he has /so many/ awesome games he hasn't played. He still hasn't played Half Life 2 for god's sake! Or FEAR 1! Or Fallout 3, or Assassin's Creed 1, or Batman: Arkham Asylum, or Mass Effect 1! The list goes on. About the only games he plays are real time/turn based strategy (he loves the Total War series, in all it's incarnations), or an MMO. Only if he's subbed to one, cause he says he feels the need to, since he's paying for it. Which is the stupidest reason I've ever heard. You don't feel the need to watch TV all the time cause you pay for it, or talk on your phone continuously cause you pay for it, so why should an MMO be different. Especially when you pay a hell of a lot less than the aforementioned two, and even less than normal since he's got the $9.99/mnth plan for LotRO. /facepalm


In Aion, I'm still not playing but it seems like more and more of the people in my legion have left due to burnout, so now there are the scant core people (most of the leaders) and all new people. Many of whom are from other legions that fell apart. Once people have seen how repetitive Aion can get in the post-35 levels, they tend to leave. And since the PvP in Aion seems pretty lacking, population and rewards wise, there's not really an endgame to speak of. Aside from grinding NPC guards or doing the Dredgion battleground instance /over and over again/.

I'm really glad that I left the game when I did, cause I think I'd want to shoot myself if I had stuck around. Especially if I had grinded to 50. Oh god ... that would have been hours/days of my life I'd never get back for sure.

I try to keep in touch a little on the legion forums though, cause the people are still a cool bunch. But since there's no real options on the horizon until Star Wars: The Old Republic launches sometime in 2011, I doubt I'll get to game with them soon.


One of the things I posted in the legion forums was about Star Trek Online, as I managed to snag an open beta key. Thank god for subbing to news and a fast email checking widget. I got one of the keys and eventually DLed the client. And after seeing the open beta, up to Lt. Commander 1 (level 11), I'm not going to play it anytime soon. It was a cool side adventure, but STO really needs some more polish, lag fixes/server stability, and a real /reason to grind/. Cause even though you do missions in STO, they are about as interesting as the random ones in City of Heroes. Only less fun cause they take a hell of a lot longer for less XP.

An in CoH, I could get cool powers and fly around and stuff. In STO I get some kind of weird sci-fi/Trek hybrid game, where nothing makes sense in a Trek setting. If the game was /real Trek/, there would be mostly humans crewing the ships (as Starfleet is like 98% humans), the uniforms would be standard, and everyone would use phaser pistols/rifles.

In STO, humans are an miniscule minority amongst players and NPCs. And people are using weird cannon disruptors and abilities like Gravity Well and Tectonic Shift and shit. Tachyon beam drains other ship's shields? I can scramble the enemies' sensors so they shoot each other? I can use my tricorder to AoE knockdown the enemies on the ground, also taking away their personal shields? WTF?!

It all reminds me far too much of Star Wars Galaxies, pre-CU/NGE. SWG was a cool game, but it was only Star Wars in name, with some settings and characters thrown in to appease the fanboys. It never played like true SW, nor was it true to the IP in gear/items. STO is /exactly the same/. It's just a sci-fi MMO with some Trek tidbits thrown in for colour.

The massive instancing is also not to my taste, as it leaves the gameworld feeling completely disconnected, and doesn't allow for completely random exploration. You can't just wander around on Vulcan, you have to be in an instance to go there. And then the mission areas are pretty small. Not cool at all for an IP that's all about exploring the unknown.

But my biggest gripe with the game is that it's sooooooooooo repetitive, even at the low levels. Almost every mission is "Oh no, Nausicaans/Klingons/Gorn/Orions are attacking these miners/scientists/freighters, we must stop them!" And then you fly/run around and kill the enemies, whilst stopping every so often to hit F to scan/activate/analyze some glowy object. That's the basis of the entire game.

The only cool parts in the 11 levels I played were the continuing story with a Vulcan ambassador being one of Species 8472, and the fleet actions, where you do a mini raid with other players. Though the fleet actions had bad aggro so the first person to get close got focused on my every enemy ship, often dying very rapidly. This would sometimes continue on to the next player.

The coolest part of the fleet actions was when I got my Science ship and could use Scramble Sensors on a blob of enemy ships to make them start killing each other. They never usually killed each other, but their lack of firing on any of my fleet made it super easy for us to focus fire on them instead and wipe them out quickly.

Pretty much I can see STO going the way of Tabula Rasa quite quickly. It probably won't shut down, as the Trek fanatics will support it, but I can see a huge drop in subscriptions after a month or two. There's nothing to do in STO, really. You can't even just visit most places as it starts an instance for everything.

Basically, it was cool to try STO and get some nice screenshots out of it, but I don't think I'll ever pay to play it.


I haven't mentioned it before, but I've also been beta testing another MMO, this one a free to play (f2p) model one. I never figured I'd try a f2p MMO, especially since most are so utterly terrible and grindy, but after reading a bunch about it on Keen and Graev's blog, I figured I should give it a shot. Also cause Dungeons and Dragons Online recently went to a f2p model and has been doing a hell of a lot better as a result, and I was somewhat impressed with DDO.

Allods Online is made by a Russian company, who's most recent NA game was Heroes of Might and Magic V, IIRC. I think I played III or IV, but this gave me some hope it wasn't going to be complete shit. I was really surprised.

Allods is actually really well done, and the amount of polish on it is rivalling Aion or WoW. Probably because it's been out in Russia for almost a year, IIRC, so like Aion, they've had a lot of time to work the kinks out. The CB here was mostly for localization.

Other than the somewhat harsh attribute system (f-ing up your attributes can completely GIMP you), and the overall WoW cartoon like graphics, I really like the game. The world is seemless, aside from usign things like teleporters/scrolls or the ships between allods (floating islands in a sea of magic). The combat system is a little rough at the low levels, but picks up quite well around level 9-10, and the game is designed around PVP!

That's got to be the biggest reason I have actually played the CB so far. I would like to see how the PvP works out, especially their end game, the Astral Ships. Astral Ships are crafted by the players (usually a guild of players), and crewed by multiple people. Kinda like people originally wanted STO to be. Each player mans a station, and there are spots for a lot of players per ship. When you venture out, you are flagged for PvP and can be attacked by anyone, IIRC, so same side ganking can occur. You use your ship to fight raid boss style mobs in the magic sea, or find undiscovered allods. If you land on one, it creates an instance for just your ship crew, and you can go explore the allod and find new monsters/etc. Apparently these mobs will have better loot, and be tougher of course, but the loot can be stolen out of your treasure room by other crews if they attack you while heading back to port.

Allods is a cool naval game/fantasy MMO that looks to make PvP a cool priority. I'm not exactly sure on how the item store will work, since most of the stuff I have seen won't garner them a ton of revenue, but it looks to be only cosmetic/helpful stuff, no game breaking gear or XP scrolls.

I haven't managed to get very far in Allods though, and the CB is ending in about a week. But, the OB will carry over to launch so I think I can try more then, especially since my CB character will be wiped, so there's not a ton of incentive to put a lot of work into levelling him.

Another thing that is nice about Allods is that since it's f2p, it doesn't matter how little I play it. It will never cost me a monthly fee. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.


That seems to be all of it. Until next time, kiddos.
The Rev.

Friday, January 15, 2010

LotRO, Dragon Age and more

Hey again. Since my departure from Aion I've had to find other games to keep me busy. Not that I played a ton of Aion, nor was it the only game I played, but it still was a large portion of my gaming time each week.

Since Inferno is still plugging away in Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO), I figured I would try and pick it up again. I really didn't leave it before because of any serious negative aspects, it was more because Inferno and I were duoing when we played and our playtimes stopped matching up. After playing Aion for 5 beta weekends, open beta and 3 months of live, LotRO is like a whole new game to me. It was amazing how much more immersive Middle Earth is compared to Atreia. There are no loading screens in LotRO, aside from buildings, and the view distance is huge. Zones are wide and open, so there's less of the "on the rails" feel of Aion.

I found it interesting that I spent a lot of my time after coming back to LotRO either, crafting or gathering crafting materials. Since I needed a refresher on the skills/UI, I decided to up my weaponsmithing skill on my Captain and took it easy. It was a completely different feel than Aion.

In Aion, everything felt like "rush, rush, rush", and the world felt so disconnected, especially since the zones had no real connection to each other. Travelling in Aion was always by teleportation/scroll when changing zones, so everything felt like it's own little space. I couldn't tell you how the zones lay out on a map, even though the in-game map shows it. There's no point to it, as /no one/ runs to the portal to change zones. You /always/ port between. It's just faster. And that was one of the problems in Aion. Everything is focused on doing things the fastest, most efficient way possible. ie. solo grinding.

LotRO, on the other hand, has so many actual roleplayers on my server, and a lot of players with maxed characters, that the people all take things slow and enjoy the ride. People are really helpful, and take the time to do things other than level. It's really nice. I actually met a couple of brand new players in the Barrow Downs and we went and did some small group content. I have stumbled into more than a couple RP events in Breeland, it's crazy. Aion never had any RP aside from ERP/emo/drama crap in Pandemonium.

My biggest problem with LotRO is that so far, it's been /waaaaay/ too easy. I've been trying to do all the old quests I had in my journal, but since they changed the level curve since I left last time, all my quests are 3-4 lvls below me. I would like to see the stories/lore that unfold in the quest arcs, but I don't think I can enjoy killing low level mobs for much longer. I'm going to have to go find a quest hub with level appropriate quests and stick to them instead. Only do the Book quests if they are lower lvl than me.

Another problem I have with LotRO is that I don't play anywhere near as much as I did in Aion, and since it's easy to level in comparison, people can outlevel me quickly. The two aforementioned new players are 7+ levels higher than me, and that was after a few days of me not playing. Since so much of LotRO is based on quests, grinding doesn't work to level, so teaming with them doesn't work.

Also, since Inferno is also playing, he's got on my case a little to team up with our old characters. He's got a lvl 40 Champion that he plays on his own, while our duo characters are lvl 25 and 26. We teamed up for a bit with my Captain and his Loremaster, as I thought that my Captain would be a better duo member. I can heal and buff, plus DPS a little, much more handy than just tanking on my Guardian. Especially since his Loremaster has little in the way of heals, mostly CC and DPS. But I think the best bet at this point is to stick with the Guardian to duo with him and keep my Captain to solo with. I don't want to have a Guardian to solo with if I feel like, and I doubt we'll get to team up that much.

I'm also amazed at how little I notice the poor quality graphics in LotRO (compared to Aion). Since the game has very pretty environments, and a very good sense of immersion I forget what I am looking at and get sucked in to the gameworld. I do notice some of the improvements Aion had are missing in LotRO, but that's more aesthetics than anything.

We'll see how LotRO goes though. I might just stick it out for a couple months, and leave to play other games. Even now I have other games that are taking up more time per week than an MMO. Not a good sign.


Another game I have been playing a LOT of is Shattered Horizon. It's an FPS in space so there is true 3D gameplay and some cool physics effects. The game is a lot more twitch and strategy compared to something like Call of Duty 4. CoD4 is all about complete chaos for the most part, and shit blowing up everywhere (nades, tubes, airstrikes, choppers, claymores, etc.). On the flipside, SH is about using strategy and flanking to outmaneuver your opponents and take control points (or just kill them :P). Since the maps are truely 3D, you get some awesome flanking going on.

Biggest gripe with SH is that it didn't get busy until it was $5 on Steam for a 1-day XMas sale. Now most of the players are noobs, so trying to get them to think outside of the "CoD4 box" is sometimes frustrating. But I have met a lot of cool players from before the game was busy. One actually added me to his Steam friends, mostly to join whatever server I'm on (I'm guessing). It's cool though, as the ones I've met are the top ranked players in the game. The one that friended me is #1! Pretty cool that they want to hang with the guy who's only slightly better than average. I'm much better with the tactics than with the actual twitch. I think my reflexes are getting worse with age. Not quite the FPS pro I once was (kinda :P).


Another game I've been playing is Torchlight. Since it was only 20 bucks on Steam, I figured WTH and got it. I also had the benefit of trying the demo and I really liked it. It's totally like Diablo I & II, and has a ton of polish on it. I really like it, but since it's SP only and the storyline is kinda weak, I really only get into it once and a while. Much better as a filler game, rather than a primary game.


The big game I got is Dragon Age: Origins. I was initially super hyped about the game (as it was supposedly the "spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate"), then after it was released and I read reviews of it (all positive, btw) I was a little skeptical. I don't really understand why I was, maybe perhaps it was because I was still playing Aion, and DA:O takes a lot of time to finish, plus is very addictive (according to many), so I was probably worried it would kill my desire to play Aion. Borderlands almost did that to me, but I finished it after 30+ hrs.

Since getting DA:O, I've played it a lot, then left it alone for like a week, and picked it back up here and there. Now that I've got a ways further into the story, and my party is really starting to develop, it's totally hooked me. I can get stuck thinking about it when I'm not playing. The dialogue is top notch, and the characters are interesting. Though I would like to have met the damn healer NPC by now, as Hard mode is punishing as Hell and a lack of true healing makes the fights pretty effing hairy.

I can totally see myself playing DA:O again, with a completely different class/race and party composition. It'd be nice to see the asshole side of conversations instead of the good side like I almost always end up playing.

DA:O is a nice blend of MMO/RPG and I think it works /really well/. The only thing that is missing is being able to co-op it, or play on private custom servers/worlds. We'll see how this goes. I'd kinda like to finish my first paythrough off soon-ish as there are some more cool games coming down the pipeline that I want to try out.

- Mass Effect 2 is out soon, so I want to see the continual story of Commander Shepard. I think I'll get it for 360 to enjoy the big screen, and continue my character from before.
- I'd still like to try Assassin's Creed 2 as well for 360. The first one was pretty cool.
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is due out in March and looks to be my own long awaited replacement for Battlefield 2142. It has dedicated server support for PC and lots of cool upgrades. Kofi and I are going to play this a lot, I just know it.
- Star Trek Online is due out in a month or so, and even though I know that it's not going to be all that shit hot, I want to try it out and see for myself. The ship combat might be enough to keep me around while they make the rest of the game shine.

I'm sure there are other games I'm missing, but suffice to say, I think I will have a busy gaming schedule ahead of me for the next few months.


I think that's it for now.
Later folks.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aion: Oh, what a shiny empty game

From the title, you can probably guess that my time with Aion is over. My sub still has a few days left, but even with the current double XP weekends, I can't get motivated to play. I'll login, look at some stuff on the Broker, check my active quests (or lack thereof), check LFG, and then logout.

At the point my Chanter is at, there's little/no solo quests available. What ones there are give minimal XP, and only contribute to about 1/4 of a level. Solo grinding 3/4ths of a level (~ 29.5 MILLION XP! at level 37) is not something I want to do. What does that leave me?

Group grinding in elite areas, over and over. Until I hit level 40 that is, so that I can grind in the Steel Rake instance /over and over again/. Which, by the way, is a 4-6 hour long instance. Ugh ...

After doing Fire Temple about a dozen times, I'd had enough of it. We must have killed the one mini-boss Rotan 10 times and he dropped no gear at all. Most times there wasn't even kinah. That's just crappy game design. At least for a Western audience.

Another issue with Aion is that my levelling has never been constant, nor have I kept up with guildies. So the ones I did match up with in FT, all out levelled me, or quit playing. So I've been stuck in a seeming level void in the guild, with either 40+'s doing Steel Rake (the core guildies, as I call them) and some low 30's and below (alts and new recruits). There are some near close guildies, who will probably catch me with the Double XP weekends, but we are missing the one key component of the group: a Tank. It seems that no one wants to play a Templar anymore. Our highest level Temp, one of the core guildies, stopped playing his Temp and switched to a Spiritmaster (mostly to play with his gf). The other Temps either have quit/disappeared, or are never online when I am. There is a complete lack of Temps in my level range, so even if we got guildies in a group, we're still PuG-ing for a Tank. And since Tanks are a key component in group content, winding up with a bad one (high chance when PuG-ing) can become a horrible experience.

Another major gripe I have with Aion is the PvP is crap, overall. I know I've talked about some of the great PvP on my blog already, but that was before, when the server was more populated, and I was still in the honeymoon phase. After seeing some more fort fights, and especially upper Abyss forts, I've decided that they are garbage. There's simply no reason to PvP in the Abyss. You're better off killing guard NPCs in the Abyss for your Abyss Points (AP) to get gear. And when people hit high rank, they stop going to the Abyss since one death will cost them tons of AP. It's a pretty stupid mechanic, really. In WAR there was no penalty for dying in PvP, so people PvPed all the time. In Aion, the Abyss has pretty much become a ghost town, as everyone is PvEing, or you see groups of 40-50's ganking solo 30's fighting Abyss mobs.

Rifting has become the same thing. All I see are over 40's rifting into Beluslan and Morheim and killing low levels PvEing. It's stupid. I'm okay with the occasional gank, mind you. But when all the bored 40+ players have nothing better to do but gank lower level players over and over, there's something wrong. WAR was much better for PVP in this regard, as PvE areas were safe, but the RvR lakes were tiered so higher tier'd players couldn't gank you. Plus WAR's system of bolstering lower level players to within 3 levels of the tier cap made running into a higher level opponent in the RvR lakes not an instant death.

Also, Aion is missing the PvP from level 1 that WAR has, as well as instanced battlegrounds (ala WoW and WAR) so that you can break up the monotony. All there is to do is grind crappy PvE over and over. Rifting isn't always viable (as it's random) and fort fights are only during scheduled times, as well as only random forts go vulnerable during these times. Many days nothing goes vulnerable. At least in WAR you could try for a fort at any time of day, as long as you had the manpower.

Aion also lacks real benefits to taking forts. The victors get some kinah every day, IIRC, as well as AP and medals to get Abyss gear. Your side gets access to the fort instance, really only good for some AP and XP (drops suck), and a minor reduction in NPC vendor costs. In WAR, your side got all kinds of bonuses for locking down a tier, as well as lots of XP/Renown/Influence for taking a fort. You could get a gold bag from the fort take, giving great gear, or max out your influence to get awesome influence gear. More Renown also led to Renown pts for abilites. There were /rewards/, unlike Aion's weird "let's PvP for some stupid reason, cause it's actually less rewards than just PvEing instead." /facepalm

I dunno, maybe I'm just bitter that Aion was touted as some great PvP game and has wound up as a crappy, grindy PvE game. I can simply look at a lot of my guildies overall kills, and most of them haven't broken 100. We had a Cleric who hadn't got any kills in 37 levels until we formed a guild group to fight off some rifting Elyos. That's pathetic. I have 400+ kills in 37 levels in comparison, and I haven't killed anyone in almost a month. I think I had the Mauler achievement in WAR (kill 100 players in PvP) by level 10.

Simply put, Aion's PvP is shit. There's the odd glimmer of fun in a sea of mediocrity. Kinda like EVE's PvP.

I'm really going to miss my guildies, as they were the reason I stuck with Aion so long. But it's only the core guildies that have really stuck with the game, everyone else has quit. War Seekers has become a guild of all new people (low levels) or displaced people from other guilds. It's not quite the same. I've had fun with some of the new people (on my alt) but I doubt they will stick around for long. The 35+ game is the make it or break it part of Aion. If you can adjust to the grind and enjoy it, you stick around. If you're like everyone else and want your games to be FUN, then you find something else to play.

So long Aion. If you get your shit together and decide to become less grind, more PvP gimme a call. But I doubt you'll do that. Korean developers and all. *points at Lineage 2*