Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It seems Nevrax's bankruptcy issues haven't gone away. In fact they got worse. The company has gone into receivership.

Basically, they're looking to be bought by another company, who will then decide what to do with the game. I'm betting they just take the game engine and sell it, or sell off the server hardware or something. The new buyers might try and change Ryzom to attract more customers, but in the end it'll just end up like Horizons. No one will be playing and they'll still have assloads of problems.

It's too bad. Ryzom had a nice take on an MMO, even though it had some major shortcomings. Even if they changed the game a lot, I doubt I'd ever play it again. It was cool at first cause things were different, but after a while it really sank in that the game was exceedingly low on content. Grinding mobs is not content. And I don't care how much an RPer tirades about RPing being content, I still don't believe an MMO should get away with not having quests, dungeons, raids, player cities, or what have you. If it's a sandbox, give us some freaking tools, don't just plop us in the sand with nothing to work with.


I've been playing a lot of NWN 2. I even fiddled with the toolset some more. It's waaaay more complex compared to the first NWN toolset, at least when it comes to terrain. It took me quite a while, and some reading up on the lengthy help page to figure out how to simply alter the terrain. After I fool around with it some more, I should be able to create at least a half-assed area. In the old version I could make a town in around 15 minutes. Now just the landscape could take /hours/.

The NPC henchmen in NWN2 are quite interesting as well. They keep fighting with each other and insulting one another. So far, the dwarf fighter is the only one I can really stand. At least he's straight up and seems to have my back. The other henchmen don't seem like they could be the most trustworthy. Plus, they all want me to do things aside from my main objective. The tiefling chick is really becoming an annoyance. She's getting a little to "uppity" for my tastes. Especially considering that I saved her ass in the beginning and gave her equipment as she had nothing to use.

I'm also finding that I need to play my character more Chaotic. I've been playing as the fairly good guy and that's okay, as my alignment is Chaotic Good. But I've been doing things too Lawful, and if I slip to Neutral Good I won't be able to level up as a Warlock any further. Sooooo .... I started demanding money from people, taking bribes, breaking the law, etc. I think my alignment is a little more secure now. I don't know what the NPC henchmen are feeling, but I do know the one sorcerer chick doesn't like me at all. It doesn't matter anyway, as my Warlock is far better as a caster than her, and I don't need two casters. With the max party of 4 I really could use a Cleric instead of my current Druid. She's pretty useless ATM. Except for the Call Lightning spell. That one rocks.


Hmmmm .... as for other news, Heroes and Smallville were both good this week. Heroes was much better of course, but Smallville was good too.

My tabletop group has started our GURPS Vikings game, and I think we're slowly winning the non-GURPS players over. The system is very math heavy, and there's rules for everything, but it's soooooo diverse. You can make whatever character you want, and it's much more realistic than DnD for example. Plus, our GURPS games always focus more on the RP than the combat. Combat in GURPS is /always/ dangerous, so fighting isn't necessarily the best option.

Our session on Sunday was really fun. Hopefully we can get together semi-regularly this winter. Over the summer it's been iffy at best.

Can't think of anything else.
Till next time.
*signing off*

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Been a while since I posted, but there's not all that much to tell.


First off, I'm currently engrossed in Neverwinter Nights 2. At first I really didn't like the game, as it's a lot less polished than the first NWN. The interface is fairly ugly, the icons for items and spells suck ass, and the camera can be a bitch at times.

BUT ...

There's sooooo many more variables for roleplaying in the original campaign (OC) compared to NWN 1. You can have more than 1 NPC henchman, they talk about stuff when cutscenes happen, you can have conversations with them, and you have to gain favour with them to advance their stories. I've already had problems with the crazy dwarf fighter guy, as he's always looking to fight people and bust some heads. Not kill everyone, just beat the crap outta them. He's still Neutral Good, mind you. And the tiefling rogue chick seems to be catty about the female elf druid who just recently joined the party. Sometimes it's hard to balance who to please.

There's also so many dialog options, much moreso than the in NWN 1, that you can actually RP your alignment a lot better. There's all the Bluff, Intimidate, Lie options, etc. I think I'm going to have some problems if my alignment shifts at all, since my Warlock character has to be Chaotic and/or Evil.

And onto that, I'm loving the Warlock. I made one for the tabletop DnD game my friends and I were playing, but he was only lvl 3 so he seemed very weak AND very "Johnny one-spell". The NWN 2 version has some of the Invocations, but others are modified and/or missing, but overall the game version is actually way better. If resting was actually enforced as it is in tabletop, no one would bother playing a sorcerer or a mage in NWN2. Especially at the low levels, you'd run out of spells in no time. My warlock just keeps standing there spamming Eldritch Blast, while the dwarf fucking butchers the enemies. The thief is pretty piss-poor for melee, as you have to control her to get the sneak attacks, and the druid is useless IMO. But the Warlock has some great Invocations, and they last for 24 game hours too. Stuff like +4 Dex/+4 Tumble, +CHA bonus to all saves, and the kicker:

Flee the Scene
- +1 attack/round, +50% movement speed, +1 to hit, and +1 AC to EVERYONE in your party for 60 SECONDS (10 rounds) !!

And when it wears off, just cast it again. Fucking ridiculous, I know.

Anyway, it's been pretty fun, and the graphics are very nice. A little sluggish, but nice. I haven't had time to fiddle with the toolset much, so I can't really talk about that. Though it is more like an SDK (software development kit) than like the easy to use tileset one with NWN 1.


I also picked up the full version of GTA San Andreas, as I was working off a cracked copy, and I lost it when I had to format and re-install. Thing that sucks though is it's vers. 2 of the game, so my old savegames are incompatible with it. I have to start all over again. I could get the copied DVD from my friend again, as it wouldn't be much of a problem, but I think I'll redo it anyway. Now I know how the game works, and I can up my skills a bit more before jumping too far into the missions. It took me a long time in the old savegames to get my Driving skill to a decent level. Now I can boost it up early on and just breeze through the missions.


Speaking of driving, I picked up a copy of Need For Speed: Most Wanted as well, cause Kofi has it. It's pretty cool, and the police chases are fucking exhilarating. It sucks that you have to unlock stuff by beating the better "Blacklist" street racers, but it does work to give the game a level of progression.

It's pretty fun, though I haven't played it all that much as NWN 2 has me pretty occupied.


I also saw some /very cool/ screenshots and a video of the new graphics for EVE Online. Their new ship models and texturing are fucking nice. Plus all the things they are planning for their incremental updates named "Kali", look very nice, and add some of the things that the game's been missing. The first addition is called "Revelations I" and should be out soon. The one thing that looked nice off the bat was they are nerfing what was called "Insta-bookmarks", as they are a major source of lag in the game.

Essentially, the Insta is a bookmark placed /behind/ or /inside/ a stargate or station so that when someone has to "Warp within 15km" (the closest distance allowed), they appear right on top of the gate/station and can dock or warp instantaneously. Now, the lag comes from the database calls required for the Instas. Plus, some assholes were copying bookmarks during fleet engagements just so they could lag out the node, and make the fight unplayable for both sides. CCP (the makers of EVE) are going to wipe all the bookmarks near gates, stations and other celestial objects (moons, stars) I believe, and put a hard cap on how many bookmarks a player can have.

It all sounds good to me, as they are replacing this with the option to "Warp to 0km" for both gates and stations. Now players will be able to get around much more easily and safely, and won't have to worry about either spending inordinate amounts of time making their own Instas, or paying millions of ISK (credits) for a set of them for one region.

On top of that, CCP is adding hidden stuff in every system (I believe it's every system) for players to find and explore. Hidden asteroid fields, secret NPC pirate bases, etc. And some of them will be linked, so you might find one pirate base that leads to another, which in turn leads to another. And it's all going to be random. The secret stuff will change every so often, so you never know what might be out there.

It finally gives people a good reason to go exploring. Love it.

They are also adding the ability to salvage from wrecked ships, which will yield components that can be made into regular modules, or used to reverse engineer Tech 2 items. Hopefully, their Reverse Engineering (or Invention or whatever it's called) will allow people to get a hold of Tech 2 stuff for cheaper, as it's currently some of the most ridiculously expensive shit.

Kofi is playing it again, but I think that's because the Burning Crusade isn't out yet. I know once it's released he'll be WoWing it up to the max again, and he'll probably keep trying to get me to play. Guess it's understandable, really. WoW was his first MMO, so obviously he's got a lot of attachment to it. SWG was like that for me at the beginning. I still remember some of the fun my guildies and I had on planets like Dathomir and Endor. EVentually the game went downhill, and the people I knew left, but for a while it was a great game. I guess I liked the sandbox nature of it all, and the exploration. Player cities were probably the biggest thing for me, but they didn't turn out as good as they could have been.


I guess it's back to the games for me. Now, I just have to decide which one.....

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Well, it didn't take very long for me to re-install XP and get everything updated. My main machine has all the programs re-installed on it as well. I only re-installed the games I've been currently playing, as some of the games on the machine before I hadn't played in months.

Anyway, now I've found I have no games to play anymore again. Oblivion was pissing me off with it's stupid levelling/difficulty scheme. My Paladin-type warrior was about lvl 12 or so, so when I went to start doing the main quest in Kvatch (a city), I ended up having to fight 8 or so creatures. And not like simple demons or something. There were lots of fire-tossing Fire Atronachs (sp?) and a whack of Clannfears. Suffice to say it wasn't very fucking easy. Then one of the other parts of the quest make you team with an NPC to open the castle gate. He was somewhat holding his own, until that is, we stepped outside the tunnels ....

And into about 9 enemies. He dropped like a sack of potatoes. And I was stuck trying to fight creatures that must have a near immunity to normal weapons. With all the magic weapons being limited use ones, I kept using up all the charges and getting raped. After a couple /hours/ of attempting this one quest over and over, I simply looked up the cheats online. At that point I was done with the stupid system, and I simply wanted to see how the story unfolded/ended.

Luckily I did cheat, as once the gate is open and you go fight in the castle, I had to fight a Daedroth. Think giant crocodile man. Yeah ... fucking ridiculously strong and lots of HPs. I also just checked and all the oblivion creatures, which you seem to fight all the time in the main quest, have Reflect Damage. So they cause about 15-20% of the melee damage you inflict back on yourself. No wonder I was getting my ass kicked. I also had very limited Healing, Potions and Scrolls (at least useful ones) cause all the magical stuff costs tons of coin.

It seems like if you go "straight up fighter type", like I did, you're fucked. You /must/ have some magical damage stuff to even influence some of the enemies. I did have a couple weak Destruction spells, but doing 5 pts of Fire to enemies that have 200 HPs is kinda slow. And without increasing your Intelligence, your Mana stays the same. But all the better spells cost more Mana. It basically makes Mages the only ones who can use all the spells above beginner ones.

Anyway, so I cheated. I don't really care, as the character I /was/ having the most fun playing was customized to level the slowest. All his Primary skills were things devoted to combat, and he only used 3. So he was level 2 after about /20 hrs of play/. I'm also glad I cheated, as one of the main quests (at least an optional bit, tied to the main quest) has you doing the /same damn thing, 7 different times/. I'm not lying. You have to go to the other cities and get them to send you help. But they all have their own problems. Or more precisely, they all have the same problem. They're all being besieged by Oblivion gates. So you have to go into the gate, fight your way to a tower and get to the top, grab a stone, and it closes the gate. The only thing different is the layout of the Oblivion map. But they are random, so you could actually do the same map 7 times. Though the odds would be quite small.

This actually took me the longest out of the main quest. All 10 hours of it. That's right. I played the game for 20 hours before I even did the main quest. And once the main quest is done, there's no real incentive to do all the small side ones. It's so freaking epic, that a "help me my son is missing" type quest is fucking beneath you. It's much like Freelancer's main story. You end up with so much stuff by the end, that all that's left seems hollow in comparison.

And what's worse, you could do the main quest right off the bat. People have, and finished it in record time, as well as they've finished winding up at level 5. Doesn't really make sense, especially compared to Morrowind, where you had to be a certain level to advance the main quest, giving people a reason to do the side quests. As well, in Morrowind, there was parts of the world that were dangerous from the beginning. Not dungeons initially crawling with rats and Mudcrabs, then later on littered with Vampires and Dread Zombies. There's no consistency, no sense of accomplishment when everything gets tougher with you. You wind up getting jumped my Trolls on the roadways, instead of regular bandits with their cheap weapons/armour.

I dunno. I'm just ranting. But it does irk me a little, as it seems they "dumbed down" the game for the XBox audience. I don't care if they want to port a game to multiple systems. Just don't change the mechanics of the game for all the users, just so it's easier (or more accessible) to some of them.


Onto other news:

Heroes has been fucking great. I watched the last episode the other night, and I'm amazed at how the writers keep bringing up new stuff. You seem to find out something new and interesting every episode. And it's not something that's seen coming from a mile away either.

I also watched the recent episode of Smallville the other day too, and after watching Heroes, my love for Smallville is waning. I hate to say it, but they have been getting a little too campy in the last few episodes. Oliver Queen/The Green Arrow is a cool character though, and I'm glad they added him in this season. But the last episode had Bow-Wow in it. Fucking Bow-Wow.

Ugh ...


So back on the original topic, before I got sidetracked with my Oblivion rant.

I've found myself short on games again. At least, for the last week or so. I can't make myself play Call of Duty any further, as the bugs have drove me insane, and have rendered some of my savegames unable to finish. I lied the game at first, but over the span of the British missions, it's become more of a James Bond/Super Spy/Return to Castle Wolfenstein type of game than a war game. There's missions where you have to single-handedly wipe out a dam /full of Nazis/ to get to the bottom and lay some explosives. Then ... you have to go back up to the top, killing another shitload of Nazis. It's stupid, and completely unrealistic for a WWII game.

I was thinking about getting Call of Duty 2, but with my turnoff for the first one, I doubt I will.

I've been playing FEAR as per usual, but it seems like there's fewer people playing now, and the Friendly-Fire on servers are normally empty. Plus, during my playtimes, there's barely any servers with a decent ping for me to play on. They're all in Europe or some dumb place.

I've played a few rounds of Zombie Mod for Counterstrike: Source, but without my friend Kofi, or his buddies, it gets pretty dull quick.

I've played the odd bit of CoX, but as before, it's not all that engaging. Even though the combat is fairly fun, the repetitive nature of the missions is totally boring.


Speaking of an MMO, this brings me to my next topic:

I watched a video of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the MMO being developed by two guys from the old EQ, Jeff Butler and Brad McQuaid. Now I never played EQ, and I can barely stand EQ2, so I don't really hold these guys in high regard, as some people might.

Now, in the video they give you a basic tour of the gameworld and talk about how things work, and some of their features. One of the biggest things you'll notice, right off the bat, is that both of them (Brad moreso than Jeff) sound like they're either half-asleep, or stoned. Brad's voice is like that really dull professor in Ferris Bueller's Day off (played by Ben Stein). You know the one ... "Bueller...Bueller....Bueller.....Bueller...."

You get the idea.

So, these guys give you a truly epic (-ly boring) tour of the game, and tell you about all it's wonderful (-ly dull) features. There are some cool aspects of it, but after taking one look at the combat video, there's /no fucking way/ I could ever get into it. It's more boring than EQ2 was when I played the trial. Killing what looked like one skeleton warrior took like over a minute for a /group/. There's no way that's fun.

Also in the video they seemed to be trying to convince you (the viewer) that the game is more solo and team friendly, and doesn't require large raid groups and tons of time. It almost seemed like they were desperate to prove themselves. They must be seeing more of the negative word of mouth on the Net that I've seen for quite some time. People just don't want the old school EQ days back. They want the "feeling of the old school EQ days", but they don't want the exact same thing over again. Even people I know that played EQ, or still play it, don't want the same thing. Jeff and Brad just don't seem to be moving forward in their thinking. More like sideways. They're taking all the ideas that they liked in EQ and improving them. But not really changing anything.

MMOs, and games in general, need to evolve, or they risk being left behind. All of the numerous people I know who played WoW (except for a couple) have quit. What does that say? The Burning Crusade might bring some of them back for a short while, but from what I've heard/read, it's simply more of the /exact same things/ from 1-60 in WoW, just repeated for another 10 levels, and some smaller raids added in. Still raids, with the same endless requirements to play countless times for a single epic drop, just less people.

WoW and the EQ clones are going to suffer a bust soon, IMO. It's like the economy here, where I live. Oil is huge, and the demand for workers has given the economy a huge boost. Thus, everything is getting more expensive. But the growth can't continue like this, there has to be a levelling off, or even a fall. The same thing is going to happen to MMOs. The ones that keep doing the EQ copy are going to fail, and the new ones, with fresh ideas will flourish. Now I don't think all of the EQ ones will fail, nor all of the non-standard ones will boom, but it will be more of a general trend. I do think that MMOs will have a drop in overall subscriptions across the board, as a lot of people, for whom WoW was their first MMO, will realize in short order that MMOs are simply timesinks. Plain and simple. These people will long for their fucking lives back, and quit MMOs entirely. Online gaming will still be big, but until MMOs can move from the "time invested = character power" to some other method, regular people will abstain. I can't count how many people I've read about who've quit MMOs (WoW especially) cause it was requiring too much time, and they had RL responsibilities to take care of.

Okay .... these last couple of paragraphs are probably completely confusing, but I'm sure you can get my general point.


Back to how I'm short on games:

I need to get the San Andreas DVD from my friend Inferno again, as it was deleted with the re-install of XP. I might just buy it, as it's a good game, and I want to support Rockstar for their hard work. I've played ~25 hrs of San Andreas and I'm still not done. Not many other games can boast that.

I also tried the demo for Need For Speed: Most Wanted, as Kofi was talking about it (he has the full game). It's actually pretty fun, and tremendously thrilling, especially when you've got 7-8 cop cars after you, trying to take you off the road. There's even a slowmo ability that helps when getting away from the cops, as well as a Nitrous booster in your car. I tend to use the nitrous moreso than the slowmo. It helps you get that extra distance from the cops in hard situations.

Anyway, Most Wanted is only 20 bucks so I'll probably get it, as I'm sure I'll get my money's worth out of it.

I'm torn if I want to get Dark Messiah or not. It's got some great reviews, and some really bad reviews. Usually the game reviewers are near to each other. For this game it's night and day. Plus, I heard that it can be buggy, and after my experiences with Call of Duty, I'm very wary of playing possibly buggy games.

Also, I'm thinking about getting Neverwinter Nights 2, as I have the first one, and the two expansions. I liked the first one, mostly the Shadows of Undrentide expansion, so I figured the second game should be a no-brainer. But there was the 5/10 review on 1UP.com, which later got pulled, that cast some doubts. But unlike Dark Messiah, the rest of the reviewers seem to give NWN 2 a very good grade. Tycho from Penny Arcade said it did run slow, on his beast of a machine too, so that might be an issue. It would be cool to play it multiplayer online though. I doubt it would run on my second machine, I'd most likely need another copy, and my friend Inferno can't run it on his own PC, so my ability to play it with him is almost nonexistent. We played the first game, and the expansions cooperatively, so I was hoping to recapture that enjoyment with the second game.

Perhaps I could find people online to play it with, with set days to play on, etc. I doubt any of them would want to set their schedule around mine, so there's little hope there too.



Okay, I think that's enough. I've been typing for like an hour or something stupid, and I should be going off to bed.

The Rev.