Wednesday, December 19, 2007

From last entry:

In gaming news, I've pretty much stopped using my PC for gaming /entirely/.

Yeah ... seriously.

Yeah ... not so much now. And I'll give you one reason:


Holy fucking hell, is it fun.


The Rev.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It seems my monthly update will be a little early this time, but I doubt I'll have any time between now and New Years to update you all. Thus, on with the show.


In gaming news, I've pretty much stopped using my PC for gaming /entirely/.

Yeah ... seriously.

Since I bought my 360, I've played about 1 hour of FEAR: Perseus Mandate total. Actually, two 30 minute chunks. That's about all of it I could handle. After playing /really good/ people online, the AI is total shit, and the game feels weak. I have had a couple "holy shit!" moments, but those were from the scary parts of the SP game. I really couldn't stand playing it for very long, and usually died after getting cocky cause I was so bored.

I stopped played Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich altogether as well. I really didn't feel like continuing the game, as it was getting a little too tedious. And some of the missions where I was /required/ to take certain members of the team pissed me off. They were total pansies and kept getting their asses handed to them. I could take any of my equal point value custom characters and almost solo the damn level. Talk about gimped characters.

The worst are the heroes from the WWII era. They are all normal humans, as Energy X wasn't around back then, according to the story. So their abilities suck ass, and are mostly useless. Give me the regular heroes from the present any day. El Diablo can just fireball the enemies, while the fucking stupid TriColour french bitch can't hit them and then Berserks after taking damage and half kills the rest of my team.

Fuck! Hate that French bitch. So useless. I tried killing her off all the time so I didn't have to worry about the collateral damage.

Far Cry has been shelved entirely as well. I really don't enjoy the story at all, and the difficulty seems askew. It's especially apparent with the shit-ass checkpoint save system. I fucking hate that. And it's not even a console game or a port of a console game. Fucking archaic.


In 360 news, I finished Assassin's Creed, and it was awesome. The end fights were /ridiculously hard/, and didn't seem at all in keeping with the "assassin" part of the game. Fight 30 guards, all at once? Sure! That's what assassin's are good for, didn't you know?

The story was good though, but a little confusing at the very end part. But I really enjoyed the sandbox world to explore and the all the badass animations and stuff. Altair just moves like a badass, it's awesome. There were times when I murdered a whole whack of guards and just slowly strolled through the streets, watching the commoners scream and flee in terror from me. It was like being Darth Vader or something. So wicked.

I also picked up Mass Effect the day I figured I would finish AC. I was right that I would finish AC that day, and I'm so glad I got Mass Effect. There was a time about 1/4 to 1/3rd of the way in, that I was /very/ pissed at the game, and was bad mouthing it/threatening to quit/etc. But it was all a factor of difficulty in the side quests.

I had started exploring random systems and fighting pirates/etc. But that content is not designed to scale to your level. It's set a specific level, so I was woefully outclassed by the NPCs. After going back to the main missions for a while, gearing/levelling up and stuff, those same side missions were fucking simple. I loved going back to the one place and Pwning those bitch NPCs. Yes, I said "Pwning". Noob.

The game was so good near the end it was amazing. I truly got that sense that I was in an epic sci-fi movie, fighting the crazy bad guy intent on taking over the galaxy. Some parts were mind blowing.

And the best part was that it had that sandbox style in a way, so I got to satisfy my inner Explorer and roam all over the galaxy. Plus, it was a lot more Third Person Shooter (TPS) than RPG in the combat. I figured since Bioware made KOTOR, and Mass Effect was similar, that the combat would be the same turn based shtick. I was so wrong, and I'm glad. The TPS combat was a lot more fun, and I got even more immersed in the game.

So immersed in fact, that I ended up spending something like 36 1/2 hours playing it.

But ... I did do /every side mission/ that I could find. And I explored every system I could. I know I missed a couple missions cause I couldn't hack the computers I found, but that's okay. I really don't think I'll play it through again even though I said I would, just to do those missions. Maybe if I'm really bored or something.


So, now with ME and AC finished, I need to get some more 360 games. I was thinking about getting Crackdown or maybe the Darkness (as I've got a lot of the comics). It's funny cause I mentioned this to Kofi today, and he's like:

"Okay, it's a surprise ... but don't buy Crackdown."

Heh. What an idiot. Now I have to figure out what to get him for XMas. Fucker. And I'm /horrible/ at figuring out what to buy /anyone/. I bet I couldn't even figure out what to buy my roomie/best friend Inferno, and we've been friends for like a decade.

My friend from CoX, who I will refer to as Janus, also has a 360, so we've been communicating via the XBox Live messaging. He's much more into Rock Band and Guitar Hero 3 and stuff, so when I asked him for advice on a new game (but not either of those), he gave me one of his usual useless, one line responses. Fucker.

Maybe I'll get Kofi a belated XMas gift, like the Concord t-shirt from EVE Online.And maybe a poster or something. Hmmm ....


As for Kofi, he still talks to me about what he's doing in EVE, and adds me to the equation for some reason. He'll be like,

"Yeah, I think I'll go with a and kit it out for shield boosting. That way I can help boost your shields while [our other friend] does DPS. You know ... if you resubscribe or something."

Fucker. Keeps trying to get me playing EVE again. Doesn't he know that me and MMOs is a bad combination?


As for XMas, I still haven't got /any gifts yet/, as most guys are. But I do only need to get 1 big present, then a whack of stocking stuffers (ie. gift cards) for everyone else. Some small gifts for my nieces/nephew, but they're kids, so finding something that suits the moment is fine. They'll ignore it in a month or two anyways.


And as for tabletop gaming, we finally finished the giant Keep TPK adventure, and surprisingly enough, no one died and became a shadow. I really think the guy DMing wanted someone to die, as he kept asking me and the other guy who were both near dead if we wanted to do anything instead of our cowering in the back of the group.

Though in the aftermath of the adventure, the Keep that our characters were so nicely building up, and NPCs that some of us were fleshing out, have been fucked. We lost like 90% of the Keep's population. Something like 60 NPCs. It's really pissed me and Inferno off, as all the hard work we did is all gone.

I've written up my character's response in emails to the other guys (as the one guy did) and basically I think this has become the door for him to leave the group and allow me to introduce a new character. I've really become unhappy with my thief, and I wanted to play something with more cool abilities than a straight Rogue. All they get is Sneak Attack and Evasion/Uncanny Dodge. Two of which never apply in the games we run. So he's basically become a Trapfinder/Locksmith, essentially. Fucking sucks.

So, I've rolled up a Elf Ninja instead, and made him more well-rounded in terms of gear and abilities. My rogue had some insanely shitty feats and sub-par gear so I wanted to fix that. I guess I could retcon my Rogue if I had to, but I'd rather start fresh with a new character anyways. It gives me time to write up a backstory, and flesh him out /before/ I actually have to play him. My rogue was never more than stats from day one. I tried writing up some backstory and stuff, but it fizzled out in-game.


Anyways, it's been a long entry, so I'll catch you all later.

The Rev.

Friday, November 23, 2007

That time of the month again, so here goes:


In MMO-Land, I still haven't played anything. Or to be more precise, I haven't payed for anything I've played in the last two months.

I never did get Tabula Rasa, and I'm glad about it. It still is MMO-Lite™, even after a few patches. And the biggest problem I have with it (the lack of interesting/diverse skills) is still there. They really need to flesh out the Logos powers and/or diversify the weapons more. Everything is still too homogenous, that you really don't feel any different than anyone else, and it leads to a real lack of a role to play, solo or in groups. When everyone plays the same, and looks the same, there's really no diversity or individuality.

Once they seriously beef up the later stages of the game, and tweak the content they have, it /might/ be worth a subscription. But not until then. And even at that point, I don't know if it'd be worth more than a couple months of enjoyment.

As for old MMOs, I haven't played EVE nor CoX since September or whenever it was when I quit last. Not much of an urge to play either of them. EVE draws me a little more, but once I remember the boring grinds and the realtime skill training, it falls back even with CoX.

In Beta news, I got into the Stress test of Pirates of the Burning Sea, and I was rather impressed with what they have accomplished. Especially since the avatar content is only months old, as they added it in after hearing people weren't all too interested in being "just ships", a la EVE Online. The avatar content does make the game all the more immersive compared to EVE. And the fact that you can zoom down to see your avatar on the ship while in combat, gives it that special edge over EVE.

/But/, the grind is apparent, at least to me, and I'm not all too interested in running completely instanced content, like DDO. The towns are shared, but each mission is instanced, and even conflicts in the open sea are instanced. I don't really like that, as it ruins the immersion for me. CoX was better for it as you had the shared zones to see other people, and bump into others while street sweeping. But PotBS is nothing more than Guild Wars, technically. And I've never been a big fan of GW either.

The character customization is top notch though, as is the fact you can customize your ship. Almost on par with CoX, but not quite. Didn't see too many people who looked exactly the same, except for the tools who all made Johnny Depp/Capt. Jack Sparrow ripoff characters. Fucking lame.


MMOs really haven't been all to appealing to me for a while now, and with /absolutely nothing/ on the horizon to intrigue me (Age of Conan and Warhammer both look like utter bores), I think my MMO hat will be hung up for a good long while.

It's okay though, as my one roomie has tons of PC games for me. He's the pirate king when it comes to DLing movies/TV/games off the Net, so he's got a whack of games for me to play. He got Crysis, Call of Duty 4, Timeshift, FEAR: Perseus Mandate and Gears of War all within a couple weeks. I've only got a copy of FEAR so far, but that's okay, as I haven't even finished Freedom Force vs The Third Reich. I got 3/4 of the way through, but now it's lost it's charm, and it's really become rather easy, as I already know how to min/max characters to make them nigh-unkillable.

My recreation of Live-Wire, even though he's less points than the old one, is just as tough, just less able to dish the pain. And a lot slower. I really should have waited a while and recruited him when I had the points to up his Speed. He runs like a turtle.

I also know I can defeat all the villains one handed with him as I made it through 20 waves of enemies in the Danger Room with him. Including all the boss enemies.

I might go back and wrap it up, just to see the story, or I might just simply make a new version of Live-Wire worth 3 times the points (as I have them to recruit heroes), and use him to one handedly destroy the enemies.


Also, I've been using my PC very little as of late, as I just bought a XBox 360 earlier this week, just so I could play Assassin's Creed, and later on, Mass Effect. I've actually really enjoyed AC so far, though it's repetitiveness is starting to show. But that's okay as it's stylish as hell, superbly animated, beautiful visuals, and most importantly, a sandboxy world I can explore.

I wish more games would go the route of Assassin's Creed, Oblivion/Morrowind, and Grand Theft Auto. Sandbox worlds are so much more immersive, so much more fun, and entirely more engaging. When I play linear level based games, I start to see the "game" much more than the world I am playing in. I start to view the game as an outsider. I feel less like I'm playing the game, and more like I'm cataloging its flaws and shortsightedness. It's like when I played Bioshock, and immediately saw how it is a copy of System Shock 2. It stopped being fun, and became simply some game that I was playing. I started to look at it in 3rd person, like I wasn't even playing it. More like I was watching someone else playing it, and I was critiquing how bad it was. Kinda fucked up, ain't it?

But AC has been fun, and I've tried to keep from burning myself out with it, so I only allow myself a few hours a day to play it. Two to three at most. That way it's always refreshing, and I can prolong my enjoyment, so it's not done and over with too fast, like Episodes 1 and 2 of Half-Life. Portal was the same as well. All three were so damn good, but so damn short. It hurts.

Can't wait to play Mass Effect, and later on, I think I'll get the Darkness too. I loved the comic books (I have #1-16 or so of the originals), so it looks like a fun game. And I know it's a 360 only title. So I can't just wait for the PC version to come out.


In tabletop news, I actually ran the first part of an official Werewolf module from White Wolf for a few of my friends. We used the pre-made characters and everything. But I have to say, it was one of my worst GMing sessions ever. I really didn't know the rules, the combat, the setting, nor the module. It was done more on a whim, so I had little time to prepare. Needless to say, I don't think I'll really go back to GMing it.

Cause I much rather GM my Aliens game, as I've actually been able to run it a couple times, and advance the plot a little more. The first few sessions haven't really done much as it all happened in the span of one game day, but the last two have let me make things /much more interesting/. Giant spider whale sounding things that are virtually unkillable, crazy bio suit army dudes who try to kill everything (including the PCs), invisible mutant people, and an unknown alien creature that can eat people's brains and mimic their voices/memories. All nicely fucked up things to keep the PCs and the players guessing/second guessing and on their toes. Just the way I like it.

As for the DnD game, the one guy has started the Keep fight adventure (one he's been planning for ages). We've all referred to it jokingly as the TPK, as in Total Party Kill, but the simple fact is that it's most likely going to end up that way. The guy doesn't know how to properly scale things with the encounter level, and has us facing 20-30 shadows. Each one is a Challenge Rating of 3, which by are average party level of 8-9 is really weak. But the fact that there are so many makes it something like a CR of 12-13. Which by the DnD system means you either run away, or die. Simple as that.

And the stupidest part is that the guy is running this adventure so we could get more XP to be better prepared for the Super-Long-Campaign™. But we have to fucking /survive/ to play the SLC you idiot! Gah!

Hence I'm hoping he kills us off completely, so we can either stick with my Aliens game, jump back to Inferno's Vikings game, hop to our other buddy's one of many campaigns in the works, or start a regular fantasy GURPS game. I've thought of some ideas for one, but nothing concrete yet. I'd much rather just convert my old world into 4th Edition instead and use something there. I like my not so Tolkien-esque orcs, elves, etc. compared to the standard ones. Dark elves that are like the Elder Scrolls ones? Fucking A!


But anyway, I've ranted to too long already. Thanks for listening. And remember to tune your dial to 104.5, the Rev's all jibberish, all non-stop rants, all day!

Thanks for calling, and see you next time.
The Rev.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Seems like this "posting once a month" has become my new standard. Oh well, I guess it gives me more stuff to talk about.


In MMO-Land, I still haven't played anything for a while. And I still haven't gone back to EVE.


Sorry ... just had to get that out of my system. Anyways, CoX has tempted me a little with the upcoming Issue 11 and the new powersets for Scrappers. That, and the new hairstyles and weapon customization. Buuuuuut ... it's really only been about a month since I stopped playing. The grind is still fresh in my mind. Maybe later.

As for EVE, it's still boring, and hasn't tempted me /at all/ this time. Hooray.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but I've been in the Tabula Rasa Beta test since June or July. I've seen some major balance changes in those few months, and the game has swung back and forth between "easy as pie" and "brutally challenging" too many times. They really need to implement smaller "tweaks" than the broad sweeping changes they have in the past.

As for the game, it's actually rather fun, but in a simpler way than most MMOs. I'd call it MMO-Lite™. But it's still interesting enough for a lot of casual players to enjoy it, IMO. The gameplay is fast enough and has a decent amount of tactics involved so that it's not "Whack-A-Mole" combat. But there are some other things that need developing before it can really be considered feature complete. The later content is broken or missing, and the end game content is completely unimplemented. They have the stuff on the drawing board, but none of it has even seen the light of day yet. Looks like they'll need a few months (about 5-6 IMO) before the game has all the features it needs to compete with other MMOs like WoW, etc.

I've contemplated picking it up when it launches, but I think I'll wait and see how it goes before diving in. There's too many things they have in store that could create more of the major balancing issues of the past. I don't really feel like playing during the balancing period. Going from one extreme to the next isn't all that fun.


As for other Betas, I got into the Hellgate: London beta just the other day, which ironically enough was two days before the singleplayer demo was released, and the NDA was lifted.

I can't say much for HGL, not because I haven't played it, but because it's that bad. There's nothing really redeeming about the game that I can think of, except maybe that the armour/gear doesn't look half bad.

The amount of negative things I could ramble on about is staggering, and I don't really feel like typing them all out right now. I'm sure you don't feel like reading them either. Suffice to say, the game is buggy, boring, the graphics are pretty uninspiring, and the combat is just plain /bad/. There was a thread on the Beta forums that describe the game to a "T", IMO:

"Hellgate: London - A Frankenstein of a Game"

Suffice to say, I /won't/ be purchasing HGL anytime soon, or ever, most likely. My one roomie who gets cracked versions of /everything/ said he wouldn't even DLed it. He said the only way he might play it would be if someone handed him a disc with the cracked version on it. And then it would be for a couple hours, at most. A very telling statement, for sure.

Also, the fact that they will still charge a fee for access to the ongoing content, yet have in-game ads similar to BF2142 is appalling. As well, I read that they have a spyware type of program that reads your browsing info and uses it to tailor the ads, as well as send the info to "interested third parties". Whoever they might be.

It's become a deal breaker for a lot of people, apparently. At least the players are lucky it's come to light before the game was released.


I know I ranted a lot about Bioshock last entry, and I'm sorry for that. I have a bit to talk about now, but I won't get too into it, I assure you all.

I finished Bioshock some time ago, playing over a long weekend I had off. 21 some odd hours later I finished it, finally relieved that I never had to play it again. That's pretty sad for an FPS game, especially when I'm the one playing it. The game never felt like fun, it simply felt like a timesink. I was always forced to go do something else before I could progress the story some more.

And the enemies weren't tough at all. Except for the Big Daddies, I was usually full on all my ammo/health/stims after the fights. I managed to hack /every single thing/ I could. I got every plasmid and tonic in the game, and I fully researched all the enemies. I know some people said they've played the game more than once, but I don't see why. When you're not restricted to what you can do, there's no real point to playing it again, is there?

I know there's lots of people out there who really liked Bioshock, and I'm glad for them. I just wish they could have all enjoyed System Shock 2 before playing Bioshock. Then maybe they would understand where I'm coming from, and how Bioshock is good, but not as good as SS2. It's just prettier.

As for other games I talked about:

- haven't touched Far Cry since the last time I posted. Don't know if I'll ever be able to get into it. Sucks.
- World in Conflict is another one I haven't touched. I never got the full game either. Don't know if I will or not.


As for upcoming games, I've watched more videos of Crysis and it looks awesome. Not just the visuals, but the gameplay. I'm just hoping I can run it half decent. My machine is rather good, but it sounds like Crysis eats the best PCs out there for breakfast.

Another game that's got me /super excited/ is Assassin's Creed. I've watched almost all the videos I could find on the Net, and the game looks like something I could /really/ enjoy. It's funny that almost everyone I know hasn't heard about it at all. And it's hilarious when I've shown them the videos. Cause they are all blown away by it, and as excited as I am. It's awesome.

I've played some new demos recently too. Call of Duty 4 looks the most promising, and will be something I /definitely/ pick up. Unreal Tournament 3 is pretty boring, IMO. They don't even have the cool Assault maps that everyone loved from UT2004(2003?). Just mindless fragging, and overhyped visuals. When you're running around at top speed constantly shooting, who has time to look at the visuals?


Another new game I picked up was the Orange Box from Valve. I've only played Half-Life 2 so Episodes 1 and 2 looked cool. Portal had me hooked after I watched the videos on the net a long time ago. And Team Fortress 2 sounded cool, plus Kofi and his buddies were telling me I should get it so we could all play together.

I got it. It rocks. Simple as that.

Valve has a prefect eye for UI, gameplay and all that. They know how to make good games, that are polished, feature complete and fun. I played a lot of TF2 with Kofi before they officially released it, and it's a lot of fun. But I don't find it quite as fun as FEAR. It's good, just not something I really find myself playing that much. Once and a while, sure. But not everyday.

Episode 1 was the next one I played, and it was lots of fun all the way through. Really enjoyed it, even though it was only 5 hours or so.

Portal BLEW MY FUCKING MIND! It's the best game I've played in /years/. Tons of fun, lots of nice intellectual challenges, and a superbly witty story. The end credit song is the best ever. The challenge maps are wickedly hard, and lots of fun to try and beat.

I've yet to start playing Episode 2, but my roomie has already finished it, so he's been bugging me to play it so we can talk about it. Can't wait.


I also found a torrent of Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich on the Net as well. Been looking for that game for ages. I truly enjoyed the first one, so I have been really looking forward to this one. And I can say so far, I haven't been disappointed.

The graphics are better, the missions are a bit more challenging, and they altered the powers a bit, so that things weren't as easy to min/max. Last time I had a guy who was basically invulnerable to a lot of damage types. This time he'd be so many points that I wouldn't even be able to recruit him.

I did make a new version of my Brute character from the last one, Live-Wire. I love him. His voice is soooo funny, and he's tough as nails. Not so good with certain enemies, and really weak against some, but still a combat brute. I just wish I could have made a character in CoX like him. The closest thing is a INV/SS Tanker or the Brute version. But neither of those has the same feel as Live-Wire. Plus, there's no cars to throw around, nor any light poles to rip down and beat villians with. Love it.


As for tabletop, we pretty much haven't played at all in a long time. There was one one-shot game we played with Call of Chthulu, but that was just to show us how the game worked. I liked it, but the other guys were more "Kick in the Door" types, so the slow mystery nature of Chthulu just didn't seem to mesh with their playstyles.

I've picked up those new World of Darkness books I mentioned before. I got them online for about 60 dollars, for /three books/. That's almost unheard of for gaming books. Really good deal. I might never get to use them, but I don't care. They are really cool, beautifully illustrated, and can be excellent source material if I need them for another game.

In our DnD game, the one guy is going to run a HUGE campaign based off of 3-4 published campaigns he has. It looks like a multi-month long campaign, but I have no problems with that. We might finally get into some /actual/ roleplaying, and maybe play in character a little. I've been trying to get into character with my thief but it's been exceedingly difficult to say the least. I've written up a backstory finally, and given him some goals to achieve, in the hope it would help me. They haven't been brought into play yet, so it really hasn't helped.

But I found a cool drawing someone did of Gambit from the X-Men on the DeviantArt website. So I printed it off, traced it a little, and then modified the stuff I needed to make it look like my character. The end product looks really cool, IMO. And has already helped me get a better handle on playing him. Also, the videos of Assassin's Creed have got me thinking some more, and given me a mental image of what his armour/clothing looks like. Since my thief wears this magical robe we found over his armour, and the main character Altair from Assassin's Creed wears a similar outfit, I figured that my thief looks like Altair. Different colours, and slightly different in some respects, but overall they are similar. That's helped a little too.

My roomie Inferno and I have been hoping that we'd move away from the DnD 3.5 to GURPS, but it seems that with our main campaign becoming a DnD one, we're kind of screwed. Oh well, if we all get killed later on (as we almost always do in DnD), we can just shift over to a different game entirely.

Maybe I can run some of my Aliens game or start up the Werewolf one instead. Get the guys away from the Hack 'n Slash and into some serious roleplaying.


This has been a HUGE entry and I'm sorry for that. But feel good about it. You probably won't have to read another one for over a month.

The Rev.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's been a while since I posted again. Not as long as last time, but quite a bit has happened since then, so I figured I'd let you all in.


In MMO-Land, I'm not playing anything ATM. I still have a couple days on my EVE and CoX subscriptions, but I won't be playing them, that's for sure. I haven't touched CoX in ... I dunno how long. It's fun for the first little while, but then I hit the wall of sameness and grind and I give up. I've seen it all before, and there's no real powersets that interest me anymore. Perhaps the levels from 12-20 are the worst, as the only thing worth having in those is my travel power at 14, and Stamina at 20.

As for EVE, once I got my battleship all twinked out with high end mods and Tech level 2 stuff, including rigs, it's become utterly boring. Level 4 missions that used to be almost death are simply a matter of time and ammo. I don't even need my friend Kofi to tank for me anymore. I can tank and do DPS at the same time. It's slower cause I'm kitted out more for resistances, but it's still nothing to sneeze at.

My next goal for EVE was to train to fly another races' battleship, and kit one out with all nice stuff. It's more useful vs. certain mobs' damage types. But even my Raven is pretty tough against them. I've got all the skills needed, and some higher than required, but I have no inclination to get the ship. I don't want to have to play to earn then credits. Cause it's mindlessly boring, and utterly time consuming. Needless to say, I won't be going back anytime soon.

That is unless I have no other choice. Ugh ... I hate video game developers right now. They all suck.

As for how I mentioned Lord of the Rings Online a couple post back, I actually tried the 7 day trial the other week. And I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. It still seems to be missing something, but at least it's fresh and something I haven't played for months already. I was considering picking it up a while back, but other things have made me hold off on that. Possibly I'm worried that I won't really enjoy it, and it'll be a waste of time, but I think that's just my pessimistic tendencies coming out.


In SP games, my one roomie DLed a cracked version of Bioshock and gave me a copy. We were both worried about the SecuROM copy protection included on the hard copy, so we held off buying it. I might eventually get it via STEAM, as there is only the STEAM copy protection that way, but I'm not sure. Even though I was really into it for the one day I played it (almost the entire day), I don't know if I want to continue playing it. It's not what I expected, and not really what I'm into playing right now.

Let me break down why it's not engaging right now:

Since the game is supposed to be the "spiritual successor" to System Shock 2 (a brilliantly fun and frightening RPG/FPS game), I expected as much from Bioshock as I got from SS2. But sadly, the console nature of Bioshock is all too apparent. The RPG elements are at best deemed "lite", or close to nonexistent in some cases. SS2 had all the RPG elements most traditional RPGs have: equipment, inventory, stats, character progression, and most importantly, a cool story.

Bioshock has the cool story, though not as engaging thus far as I've seen. But it's very limited in all the other RPG elements. There's no true inventory. You can't pick up bandages to use for later when you're hurt. You use them right away, even if you're at full health. The only thing you can keep is guns, ammo types, med kits, and EVE stims (ie. Mana stims). You have no real equipment. No cool gun scope, armour, tools, etc., to make things more interesting. There are a few items, but nothing substantial.

Stats? There are none in Bioshock. At all.

Character progression? Hmmm ... so far, the only thing seems to be what Plasmids you buy with the limited ADAM you get. But that's more like equipment. And they are interchangeable at specific stations in the maps, so you can always go back and re-equip that plasmid you need later on. Call me old fashioned, but I think you should be stuck with whatever ones you pick, and it's permanent. That way, playing through the game a second time could actually be interesting.

Other things have irked me. The simplistic interface for one. Opening a crate/corpse/etc. and picking stuff up is the same key, so accidentally grabbing the bandages I don't need is an all too common occurrence. The story is cool, but there has been a couple "holes" in the plot so far already. And some of the plot devices, ie. the radio and recordings you find, just don't fit the setting at all. That is, the 1960s. In SS2 you would be contacted via cybernetic uplink by the doctor trying to help you, and find lots of cool/creepy emails lying around that you could listen to. But it made sense in the context. A futuristic setting.

In Bioshock there are all these big tape recorders lying around for some reason, with people's messages/notes on them. It's a little anachronistic. It's also a direct ripoff of SS2.

And that's probably what my biggest complaint is with Bioshock. It's simply SS2, stripped of a lot of the good stuff, in a different setting. The hacking aspect is the same, a minigame to take over the cameras and turrets. Just in Bioshock it's a little pipe game and in SS2 it was something like minesweeper IIRC. The Splicers in Bioshock are just like the enemies in SS2. Creepy, weird, and come at you with no real sense of self-preservation. The recordings and radio are like the emails in SS2. The Plasmids are like Psi powers in SS2, but instead of being optional, they are /required/.

Basically, Bioshock feels like a console port of SS2, in a different setting with better graphics. Nothing more. Nothing new, nor innovative.

It seems pretty weak IMO.


As for other games, I got the demo for Quake Wars: Enemy Territory from my roomie too. But suffice to say, it's a cheap ripoff of Battlefield 2/2142, but with Quake stuff and a ridiculously fast pace for what supposed to be a tactical game. There aren't any tactics, just zerging.

/Really/ fucking lame IMO.

I also bought Far Cry for cheap the other day, just for something else to play. I had been meaning to get it for a while but neglected to. I kind of wished I hadn't got it now. It's not that great, really. The two major sticking points I have already are the checkpoint only savegame feature (almost spells death by itself, IMO) and the difficulty of the game. I don't know if I'm supposed to sneak through the maps, or not. Cause when I go in "guns blazing" I get overwhelmed. The enemies aren't stupid, and the amount of firepower they bring to bear on you is crazy.

But if I try to sneak, I miss most of the enemies entirely, so I get bored. That, or I fuck up at one point and have a shitload of them come running, from in front and behind. I don't know what to do. I'm seriously thinking I should just DL a walkthrough or something. Maybe it'll give me some tips. It's that, or I either give up playing, or cheat to the ending. Neither of which sound appealing.


Even though Kofi is all pumped about World in Conflict being out (as of today), I'm very underwhelmed. After playing the MP demo for /hours/, the game is basically dead to me now. I think we've put in something like 24 hours already (as it tracks your time played), so I really don't have much enthusiasm left. Without a concrete reason for playing (ie. some kind of character development/unlock system), I don't feel compelled to play it. FEAR is a pure FPS, plain and simple. Nothing but fragging, left and right. No unlocks, no stats. But it's TONS of fun for the hour or so I play it. But it's not something I can play for extended periods of time. Same thing when it comes to WIC. But the lack of twitch (ie. adrenaline pumping gameplay) in WIC makes it harder for me to enjoy.

I was supposed to play it with him today, but I didn't feel like it. I know he'll bug me about it tomorrow at work, but I don't care. He's got the other guys from Teamspeak to play it with. I don't need to be there. Plus, they seem to enjoy it waaaay more than me. So he should be out of people to play with anytime soon.


Today was mostly a day of DVD watching, instead of playing WIC with Kofi. He lent me Deadwood season 3, so I started watching that. Only something like 8 episodes worth. Nothing big.

I also watched a couple episodes of Space: Above and Beyond with my roomie Inferno today too. I picked up the series the other week, and I've only watched the episodes when the two of us can watch at the same time. Inferno has never seen the show so I don't want to accidentally spoil it for him or anything. Our other roomie has seen it before, and actually remembers it far better than I do.

As I mentioned, I looked into getting the entire 4 seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise. That is, until I saw the price. It's over 120 bucks per season. And the 4 season boxed set is still like 450 bucks. I liked the show, but nowhere near enough to shell out that kind of cash. Even for one season.

I also need to watch Rome season 1, Dead Like Me season 1 and Carnivale season 1. There's too many good shows that got cancelled that I need to watch. It seems like my next few weeks will be full of excellent TV via DVDs.


Which will be good, as I found out that our tabletop group won't be getting together at all for the rest of this month at least. It sucks.

I've been all pumped about playing /something, anything/ that I really am bummed now. I recently found a torrent of all the new World of Darkness books by White Wolf, and DLed it. I kind of like the new versions of Vampire and Werewolf, though some of the changes seem pretty radical. I never played Mage, so I have nothing to compare it to.

Though Inferno, who played the original Werewolf and /really/ enjoyed it, says he doesn't like some of the changes in the new version. He's kind of a brute gamer, and almost always makes a combat orientated character, so he doesn't like how they tweaked the combat and made it a lot more dangerous. Especially for werewolves.

I might still be able to get him to play it, but I'm sure he'll just try to make a different version of his old werewolf character, and be a combat brute. It would be funny though, because I could probably fuck him up pretty good as the GM, as he wouldn't be able to just stand there and "take it" like his old werewolf character did.

The whole Vampire interest came from Inferno trying to play old games of mine on the shit PC I gave him. It keeps locking up for almost /every game/, so we were looking for other things for him to play. Though Civilization III does seem to work for the most part, so it's kept him occupied for a while.

I tried playing Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines again on my PC, as a different type of vampire this time, but it's not variable enough to warrant a complete play through. I was a combat brute last time, so this time I tried the social vampire. But so much is reliant on combat, times when you have no choice to fight, that a combat weak character is not that much fun to play. And I remember all of the quests already. All it took was a few hours of gameplay, and I can remember the whole thing. Not very interesting anymore, of course.


But, it's getting late and I work tomorrow, so this is goodbye for now.
Cheers folks,
The Rev.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I haven't posted here in a LONG time. And for that, I'm sorry.

Figured since I don't have time for a full post, I'd do a general briefing of what's new.

#1. Still playing EVE and CoX
I've said before that I was done with EVE, and gone back. I know that the game isn't really what I want, and probably will never be, but for now it's something to play. I've got in a couple beta tests of MMOs I was anticipating, and that's just made me sad. They aren't anything like I'd hoped, and I don't foresee either one being something I'd buy and/or play for any length of time. The one might be cool for the first free month, but after that it would be iffy.

I've probably stuck around in EVE for this long cause my co-worker/friend Kofi is still playing it. And we actually team up and do stuff once and a while. That is, the few times I actually play are when we team up. Otherwise I barely play the game at all. I was actually just considering cancelling my account a few minutes ago. Since I got to Battleships, there's not a lot left for me in the game, aside from the PvP aspects which basically /require/ me to join a PC corporation and move to low-sec/hostile space. Meh.

As for CoX, it's also become a game to play whenever, just for something to do. There are more people online for me to talk to now though, so that is cool. But I can't seem to get past the low teens in levels. The grind starts to set in and I've seen all the low end stuff before (many times, at that), so I get bored. Plus I haven't really got into any of my characters at all. Perhaps because my old one Dex was so cool, it's hard to compare. I've also considered cancelling my CoX account, but at least I find the character creation and combat thoroughly enjoying.

#2. New games
I recently DLed the demo for World In Conflict. It's an RTS game, but instead of the usual resource gathering/base building, it has control points to take and reinforcements are based on your performance, not resources. Also the tactical aids are really cool. Stuff like napalm strikes, air dropped tanks, radar scans, nukes, laser guided bombs, etc. All of them are really nice. And they are also gained through your performance. Kill more enemies, and you get more points.

The multiplayer part of the demo is what has me hooked though. Playing Russians vs. Americans is really cool, and instead of everyone being their own team, it's 8 vs. 8. Usually 2 people per team in each of the 4 roles: Support, Infantry, Armour, and Air. You need to work together to fight the enemy, cause one role isn't good vs certain others.

I have played a lot of the demo, but I'm still not very good, as my RTS background is limited (mostly Starcraft, way back when). But there have been a few times when I've been one of the better players on my team. Never like when I play FPSes though. With those I'm normally the top/2nd best on my team, and in the top 3 on the server.

Bioshock also has me intrigued. Aside from the copy protection, which is somewhat of a rootkit (ie. BAD), it looks good, though I'm not sure how long the gameplay is. I read on Penny Arcade that Tycho is already done it, and it only came out last week. Might wait to see if my one roomie gets a cracked version off the Net first.

#3. Books, Tabletop and Movies
My one roomie, the guy I've referred to as "Inferno" in past entries, has given me a lot of sci-fi novels to read. I've been interested in reading some cyberpunk stuff, cause of the one MMO I'm beta testing, and cause my tabletop friend and I were discussing Cyberpunk. One of the books is a Shadowrun one, and though the cyberpunk references have got me interested, the magic aspect just seems silly to me. They are two genres I think should never be combined, but it will be interesting to see how the story turns out.

In tabletop news, we haven't been able to play for months now, at least before I moved in the beginning of July. I think it was one session at my old place, and before that was eons (Ok, maybe March ). We've tried a couple times to get a gaming session going, but with my one friend having a baby, and everyone working out of town in the summer, it's been impossible. We might play this weekend, but I'm not holding my breath. If we do though, I'm hoping my one friend will run his introduction adventure into Cthulhu. None of us, aside from him, have played it. But what he tells me it's more mystery based, with a lot of looking for clues and solving the mystery than the usual combat heavy games we've played. And I'm all for that, but I think the other guys might not be. Bummer.

As for movies/TV, I watched the 2nd season of Deadwood that my friend lent me and I was hooked. Now I need to watch the 3rd season. It sucks that it got cancelled after the 3rd season though. I know it's going to piss me off and leave me on a cliffhanger, but it's soooo good I can't resist. I also watched An Inconvenient Truth and was blown away. Man, the proof that Gore shows you is pretty hard to argue against. Makes you wake up a little and realize just what kind of a situation we're heading towards.

I also watched Ghost in the Shell for the first time. Soo good. Love it. Made me want to play a cyborg in CoX. I made one, but I'm not sure I like him that much. When I think cyborgs, I think Cyberpunk, and when I think Cyberpunk, I think GUNS. Not superpowers, not fireballs, not radiation. GUNS. It's too bad the only gun based powerset on CoH is crap. And shooting people isn't really "heroic", per se.

I also want to get Space: Above and Beyond, and maybe the entire series of Star Trek: Enterprise. I really liked Enterprise and wished I hadn't missed so many episodes. There's some other movies I want to get, so I guess I should dig out my HMV gift cards and go get them. I think I have like 80 bucks worth too, so there's no real reason I shouldn't.

#4. Teh InterNEts!
We finally figured out what the hell the fucking problem was with our internet. Whenever we would use it, usually when more than one of us was using it at one time, the modem would either reboot, or the router would stop responding. We couldn't figure out what the hell the problem was. We rebooted the router, changed its firmware/settings, tried using only one computer at a time (still rebooted the modem). Finally we figured we'd better call our cable company.

I sent them an email and they told me it sounded like we had a bad connection, and we should get a tech guy out to inspect the lines for us. So I went snooping around and asked my roomie (the guy who owns the house) where the cables were, and if we had a splitter, etc. He showed me and I found the splitter. Then when I traced it back to the cable, I found the one wire had a big ass kink in it. Like someone (fucking idiot!) had caught it in a door. So the cable probably was either broke inside, or half snapped off. So I got out the cable I stole from my old place, changed them, and voila! The internets work again.

Fuck that was annoying. Almost as annoying was trying to explain how a cable shouldn't be closed in a door and bent like that. Only problem is the guy who owns the house doesn't want to put holes in the wall to run the cable, so we're stuck running it under doors and along floors.


So that's it. I guess this wasn't really a brief summary at all. Oh well, you get all the details instead. Hope you enjoyed.

Until next time,
The Rev.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Back and forth, back and forth.


EVE has lost me again. My RL friend Kofi is still interested in it, and my co-worker Satan is playing, but I just can't get back into it, despite what I said last post.

Aside from the bit about Trading and the handy little app I found, it's got worse overall. Missions in EVE aren't anywhere near fun for me anymore, the few people I knew in my noob corp aren't on when I am (cause I'm back on days at work), and the lag seems worse than before. Even though I'm in a region of space that's only mildly populated, it's still slow to load some stuff.

I even sent an email to Kofi how I'm quitting EVE /again/. But this time it's different. Satan said he'll probably quit too, for good this time most likely, as he's now done almost everything possible that a single player can accomplish. He's got the best battleship he can get, the best mining ship, TONS of money (almost 10x what I have), and has done almost all the missions in the game. Really, there's not much left for him that he hasn't already seen. Aside from 0.0 space and PvP, but that's not really his playstyle. He's much more of a PvE player.

As for me, I feel the same, it's just that I have a much lower tolerance for grinding than Satan has. I could get a battleship and do level 4 missions, but that requires me to grind level 3 missions to get enough ISK to buy, insure and equip the thing. So, something like 150 million ISK altogether. Right now, I have 65 million. There's no way I'm going to grind for months for just a battleship, especially one I could never afford to lose.

In other areas, I've mostly trained my skills up to level 4s, and thus don't have much else to look forward to. Level 5 skills only give a 2%-5% boost (most times) and take anywhere from a week minimum, to over 30 days to train. Not worth it at all, IMO.

I know I said I was looking forward to their next patch, but I'm not anymore. After doing missions again, I can't see how doing them cooperatively with Kofi is going to make them any less tedious or repetitive. The exploration part might be interesting, but looking at the way CCP has done their PvE content in the past, it's not going to be anything spectacular. They really have no idea how to make decent PvE content at all. It's quite ridiculous how EVE won the Best PvE award in's reader's choice awards. EVE fanbois making multiple accounts to pad the votes FTL.

So, with EVE going to be out of the picture soon enough (the 24th), what am I going to keep myself busy with? (Not like EVE was keeping me busy, mind you. I'd played about 5 hours in the last week, tops. )


Another note is that I finally fixed my second PC (it was the motherboard as I thought), and my RL friend Inferno couldn't be happier. He was over and played FEAR for a few hours at least. Meanwhile I was having issues with my PC, as the stupid IRQ settings got fucked up again. I fixed it the next day by disabling the on-board ethernet, and putting in a PCI one I had kicking around.

I also got a new set of headphones, some Zalman Theatre 6 Surround Sound ones. Yes, I said surround sound headphones. How does that work, exactly? They have 6 speakers in them.

No, seriously.

They're pretty cool, as I can actually hear things in surround sound. I watched Serenity on DVD the other night, just to see how they sounded, and I was so amazed I watched the entire movie. Stayed up waaay too late, of course.

I tried them in FEAR, but they sound kind of odd for some reason. Almost muffled in a way. Perhaps it's the way EAX and FEAR work, as GTA San Andreas was fine. The thunder in the rainstorms in San Andreas is hella cool too.

I need to boot up BF2142 to see how they work with it. Apparently it's got true surround sound or something, as there was a pamphlet in the box about it. I might be able to actually turn on voice communication too, and not crash to desktop. Maybe then, I'll get invites to, and be accepted to, squads more often. Even though the radial comm menu in BF2142 is really good, it doesn't cover everything. Voice comms give you the extra edge.


Back to my gaming:

As EVE is out, I've come to the conclusion that I don't have much at all in terms of gaming choices right now. EVE was acting as a kind of filler, and with it going, it's taking some stuff with it.

I tried the EQ2 trial the other day too, as I was looking for a new MMO (just for something truly "new" that I could play and explore), but it only lasted me about 6 hours before I uninstalled it. I've tried the EQ2 trial now three times, and each time it's failed to hook me in. The first time it was marred by technical difficulties, but these last two times there were none at all. The base gameplay just wasn't interesting enough.

The Burning Crusade and WoW is out, for sure, as I can't stand that game anymore. It's still a good PvE centered/gear grinding MMO, but it has /nothing/ to keep me interested. And almost everything else to drive me away.

City of Heroes is okay every once and a while, but I find if I try to play it for extended periods, or multiple days in a row, I get bored fast. And since there's only Scrappers that I really enjoy playing, I'm /very limited/ in my choice of new characters. Plus, I played the best single target scrapper in the game already, DM/Regen, so it's spoiled the rest of them. My new Claws/Regen is cool, but without the -ACC that DM has, I'm dying a /lot/ more, and fights are far harder than I'm used to. Slower too.

Claws has the "cool factor" but it's very weak DPS wise, and a lot of LT and Boss mobs are resistant to it. They take much longer.

But not quite as long as my Rad/Rad Defender though. I really want to play him, and see the later powers. But solo he's like a snail. Claws is godlike compared to him. So that leaves teaming with him. But so many of the CoX playerbase are /idiots/ that I can barely stand to team with him. And they always rush, rush, rush, so there's very little to absolutely zero interaction. Almost as if they were NPCs. If I get him into my old supergroup I might be okay, as I can team up with my SG mates. But that all depends on their levels, and such. He wouldn't be much use as a sidekick, as his Enhancements aren't very good, and he's not fully slotted, so that leaves Reverse Sidekicking and teaming at my level range. RSKing is only good for the higher level person if they just want to RP and earn some Influence. I think it burns off XP debt too, but at double the rate. After that it turns to pure Inf gain. I'm not sure if anyone in my old SG needs that, as they are mostly higher level characters. Hopefully there's some alts in there around my range.


Okay, away from CoX, and back to the problem at hand. What to do about my gaming needs.

My singleplayer games are completely worn out. San Andreas isn't interesting other than to fuck around in. Need for Speed Most Wanted is pretty much dead to me, as it's too repetitive, and the later races are stupid hard. FEAR is /always good/, but only for short stints. Never more than an hour at a time. X3 never hooked me in the first place. It has some great features, but some really bad ways of implementing them. Especially the UI. Plus, it's already started to feel like a grinding game, and I've barely put 5-6 hours into it.

Let's see, what else?

Battlefield 2142 isn't all that appealing anymore either, as I stated before. Maybe if I can get Kofi to play it some more, it'll regain it's appeal. But as an FPS it loses points, especially when I have FEAR as an alternative. The only thing left is Neverwinter Nights 2, but I've already finished that once. And it's exceedingly linear. So there's literally no reason to replay it again, aside from getting another character to level 19-20. And that doesn't appeal to me at all. If the toolset was a bit simpler to use, like NWN 1's toolset, I'd fiddle with it and maybe make some of my own modules. Or play other people's. But because it's a lot harder to use, there's a lot fewer people using it to make modules, and most of them have gone back to NWN 1.

And that's it. All the SP/non-MMO games I have.

I've been thinking about getting some games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich, FEAR Extraction Point, Hitman Blood Money, Dark Messiah, etc. But none of them get me excited at all. FF vs. TTR might, but it's so old I can't find it in the city, and it has Starforce copy protection (a horrible copy protection company that's been blacklisted by gamers worldwide). I can't even really think of a good game that I'm looking forward to.

Let me try: (maybe this will give me some hope for the future. I really need it )
  • Spore (coming out in 2008 )
  • Bioshock (worried about how Bethesda fucked up Oblivion and how that same might happen with this)
  • Left4Dead (looks awesome, especially the fact that it's CO-OP multiplay. No idea when it comes out )
  • Hellgate: London (could be good, but looks a little too Diablo-esque)
  • Crysis (looks amazing, will probably need a new compy to play it)
  • Grand Theft Auto 4 (no idea on release date, again)
  • Tabula Rasa (still on the fence, could be good, could be mindlessly boring)
That's it. That's all I could think of, and find on the Net. Most of these games have no "fixed" release date, they're all still in development. And that sucks. Cause it means I'm going to most likely be bored out of my fucking skull for a long time, until some of these games come out.

Boooo ....

The only thing I can think of to "stem the tide", is to get Lord of the Rings Online. It was a decent game, and I enjoyed some of it. And I figure it could keep me occupied for a month or two. That's a month or two less time waiting for the games I truly want to play. But that might also be a bad idea. Who knows what playing LotRO could do to me. I might get even /more/ bored, or it might make me like I was when I played WoW. Don't want to go there again.


That's it, I guess. I suppose I should go off and play some games, but I don't think I will. Maybe I'll just make some food, watch TV, or pop another DVD into my computer and listen to it in SURROUND SOUND with my headphones.

Later all,
The Rev.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I know it hasn't been a month since my last entry , but I had to write some stuff here. It just helps me clear my head a little.


First off, I found this nifty little program for EVE Online the other day. So I resubscribed and booted the game up.

"Wait ... did he just say he's playing EVE Online /again/?"
"Fuck, this guy is back and forth so much I can't keep track!"

Shut up you two.

Anyways, the program runs in the background and takes the data you export from the EVE Market window, and calculates trading runs for you. You input your ship's cargohold capacity, and available money, and it does the rest. Even figures out security status and everything. So you don't jump into dangerous territory and get blown up.

I used it a bunch in the last couple days and I've made 12 million credits. All fairly quickly, and without needing to worry about lag, losing my ship, looting/salvaging wrecks, or finishing my mission quickly enough that I get the bonus credits and my loot cans don't de-spawn.

It's been great. It's finally given me back what I used to have in EVE. A casual way to make money, that I can do whenever I want, and can leave the computer at a moment's notice. The Level 3 missions I was running before weren't like that at all. Lag was a MAJOR issue. Then there was the fact that you never knew what mission you would get, so it could be a nice 20 minute one, or a 3 hour epic. Add to that the time to loot and salvage the wrecks. It wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't a penalty for turning down a mission offer. But you can only turn down 1 mission every 4 hours. So you're pretty much stuck with whatever you get.

Now, with my Trading, I can go get a drink if I want, go to the bathroom, logoff, etc. There's no requirement for me to play for a certain amount of time. I /really/ like that. A lot. Having that much freedom in an MMO is one of the things I think most MMOs lack. CoX is the only other MMO I've played with the same low time requirements. For example, the other day I logged on CoH for a half hour before work, and I managed to complete 2 missions for my contacts. I don't think you can do that in most MMOs at all.

In another story, still about EVE, there's been /more/ allegations of developer/GM misconduct by staff at CCP. I can't believe these guys. They can't keep a tight reign on their staff to save their lives. I won't describe all the details here, but I did find it interesting that a former Blizzard employee wrote a letter (ie. forum post) to CCP about how he finds the companies' differences in business practices ridiculous.

Here's an excerpt of the post:

As an ex-Blizzard employee, I am flabbergasted at the extent to which developer presence contaminates the player pool. With WoW there wasn't a line between our player accounts and our personal accounts- there was a wall, a moat, a spike-filled trench, and electrified barbed wire. You so much as tried to enter a developer command into the console, you'd be kicked from the server, your account would be flagged, and unless you had a really damn good reason for attempting to bring developer capabilities into the game your ass was fired. You told no one anything about the game behind the curtain, you never told anyone in-game that you even worked for the company, or your ass was fired. The impetus for crossing that line in eve is entirely beyond me.

And don't start for a second with "We need to see how things work." Rubbish. You've got one of the most robust test servers known to MMOs, you've got ridiculously fluid interaction from your player base (At least from the bottom-up) and if nothing else you could have internal servers to try things on. Having anyone with even the possibility of developer powers in the public server is nothing short of madness. Having powers above and beyond normal players, or having access to information beyond the average player, is akin to putting water in chocolate- a single drop can cause a whole batch to seize and it's ruined just like that.

"But what about GMs?" you ask. Fair enough, they need certain powers to set things right. But they should only ever exist in the game when no other option presents itself. They should be invisible, intangible, a last resort for a coding malfunction or dispute that requires GM omniscience to solve. They should not be people but a service, identifiable only to the point that they can be held accountable for their actions. If you tried to log in as a GM account anywhere but at Blizzard's GM center, hell, if you even hinted that you had a GM account, you'd be canned so fast your head would spin. That CCP would willingly and intentionally contaminate the public player base with what amounts to demi-gods with varying degrees of moral fortitude just boggles my mind.

That speaks volumes I think. The people at CCP haven't made the line between developer and player clear enough. They need to make all their Dev/GM enabled accounts flagged as so, and visible to all the players, and only make them available from work. The staff can have their own personal accounts to play on their off time, but cannot use them from the office. Plus, they need to have a system to track /every move/ the GM accounts make. Maybe even track the employees' personal accounts as well. When the game is all about competition with other players, the temptation of cheating becomes all too real.

I'm just enjoying my time in EVE right now, trading and seeing the sights. I'm really just waiting till they release the next patch, as it has a whole whack of stuff I've been waiting for. Co-op missions, revamped exploration, etc.

Hopefully it doesn't take them forever to get the bugs worked out.


Heroes was awesome last week. I'm sad that I won't be able to see the next episodes for some months. But at least they left the show at an ending, of sorts. They gave a glimpse that more is still to come, but this "chapter" of the story is done. I like that. The shit that Smallville pulls each season just pisses me off. Apparently, my old friend, who now lives over 800+ km away (500+ miles), loves comic books and used to be a huge fan of the show, can't stand to watch it anymore. I'm starting to agree with him. There's only been a handful of episodes that have been truly great this last season, IMO. The good ones are getting too few.

Maybe next season will get better. But I'm not holding my breath. Fucking Bizarro ....


In the tabletop front, my friends and I got to play last week. I truly glad we did. The amount of crazy shit that happened was awesome, and most of the session wasn't even any dice rolls or combat. I think we were really getting the one guy who's very "Hack 'n Slash" into playing in character. It was great.

I also need to work on my space campaign a lot, I'm coming to realize. I don't have anything really started, and I found out my other friend wants to run Cyberpunk again, using the GURPS system. He's going to run it on one of the technologically driven planets in the space game. So, if I get my parts written up, we can play GURPS all the time, and only use DnD as a fallback game. We'll have Space Marines, Cyberpunk, my Space game, Aliens/Post-Apocalypse, and Vikings. I'm sure the other guys might be bummed, but I'm sure they'll get over it.

I think I might even do some write ups this afternoon. Or maybe tomorrow, I dunno. I'm such a procrastinator when there's no real deadline.


In other gaming news, I tried playing Battlefield 2142 the other day, but I just can't get into it anymore. It's weird, cause I can play FEAR all the time and be fine. I think cause Kofi (my co-worker, who I play BF2142 with) and I haven't played it together in almost 2 months, it's lost it's magic. I've got all the Recon and Support unlocks, and the Assault and Engineer ones just don't interest me in the slightest. Maybe the Medic tree of Assault, but I'm going to grind out 3 more ranks to get them all. Besides, I'm one of the /worst medics ever/. I'm usually the first one killed. How the fuck am I supposed to heal/resuscitate people when I'm already dead?

The glitchy nature of the game, and the complete shit design of the EA matchmaking service also piss me off. Having to refresh the /entire server list/ every time I try and join a server and find it full is a fucking huge pain in the ass. Why they didn't make it check if the server was full first, and then give a pop-up message if so, instead of trying to load the server and map, fail, then kick back to the server list is beyond me. They definitely have never taken a course on efficient program design. Or at least they don't remember anything from it. I sure do from when I took it.

As for FEAR, I still love it. I can't believe how much fun I can have with it. And it's so simple, and shallow. Yet satisfying to the extreme. I think I would have get a lot more into Planetside if the game wasn't so exceedingly laggy and glitchy. Fighting a huge battle with tanks, planes and everything to take over entire planets sounds awesome.


In personal news, it seems like my dad and I won't be able to get in the hiking trip we wanted this year. We were going to go hike Mt. Temple, a 11,000 ft mountain in the Rockies, before the bear season hits and they close that part of the park. But he's busy with his work, I'm overworked at my work and low on the list for getting holidays, and I have to move soon too. Maybe we can find something else to do later on in August.

Or maybe I'll have to go on a trip without him. It won't be the same though. It's always been something we've done together, I've never gone on a trip without him. I don't know what it's going to be like when he gets too old to hike anymore. I probably won't even go at that point.


Now, I think it's time for some gaming. I've been wasting this day off sleeping, eating and doing other mindless things. That just won't do.

See y'all later,
The Rev.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Okay, it's been over a month since I've wrote anything here. Really, not that much has changed, but I figured an update was needed anyway.


First off, the transition from graveyard shifts back to days is over, and I've found that things are much better now. I can sleep better, and don't need as much sleep to feel rested. On graveyards I could sleep for 10 hours or more, and still be tired. On days, I can sleep 6-8 hours and feel rested. I never feel tired until later in the evening when I'm at home.

Also, seeing the sun every day, at least for the walks to and from work, is something I really missed. I also can have breaks outside at work, so I can be in the sun even more. I'm sure that's all the sun a person should really have in a day, to avoid skin cancer and all. It's nice though. I think it's also had an affect on my moods and such, as I feel a lot more energized and happy. I probably had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) from all the time on graveyards.

About the only things at work that aren't as good are: 1) The pay, 2) The hectic pace. I was getting $2 more an hour on graveyards, so that's actually a lot of money I lose each week. But I'm not hurting for cash right now, so it's not a big deal. The hectic pace of days is quite a change though. There have been numerous times when I have gone without a break for a few hours, or days when I didn't get some. But it hasn't really been that bad. Mostly I hate it when I get called away from my work, when I'm trying to get something done.

Oh yeah, another bummer about working days is that I only see Satan, my co-worker, a hour or so, a few times a week at best. It gets hard trying to talk to him about video games in 10-15 minutes. There's a lot of stuff to catch up on.


Which brings me to my next points. The news in the world of the Rev. I'll try and be brief, for your sakes.

#1. Vanguard is bought by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and Sigil fires all it's staff

This one was something I had seen coming for a while. Vanguard had been in the worst state ever since it's launch, and things weren't getting any better. SOE had bought EQ from Brad McQuaid before. It was safe to assume they'd try to get Vanguard too.

The stories about the inner workings of Sigil during the development are insane. It sounds as though they had /no idea/ how to make an MMO, how to manage a team of developers, or even how to show up to work. Apparently Brad hadn't been in the office since Dec 2006. And he was absent during the impromptu meeting of all the staff in the parking lot when they were told they were fired. Not what you'd expect from the CEO, is it? I just feel sorry for the people at Sigil who are now out of a job cause the managers had no idea what they were doing.

#2. EVE Online

The guys over at CCP have talked about what's next for EVE, and some of it sounds kind of exciting. But I'm getting too cynical for EVE, it seems. CCP promises all these cool features, and then only delivers half of them (at best), after ten times as long as they say it should take, and it's all bugged to hell anyways.

It's rather apparent that EVE doesn't have what I want in an MMO, nor a game for that matter. I truly play MMOs for the PvE, and socialization. PvP is an afterthought. I don't hate it, mind you. But I want it to be /optional/, fun, easy to get into, and not overly unbalanced. EVE PvP is time consuming, over too fast, not optional at all, and not really all that fun. Plus it has the biggest death penalty of any MMO I've played.

Basically, until EVE has /loads/ more PvE content, I'm exceedingly hesitant to play it again. Either more PvE content, or consensual Factional Combat. But I think that's going to take forever, or will /never/ see the light of day.

Also, Kofi (my co-worker) has talked about playing EVE again. Satan is playing it right now too. But Kofi wants to "pwn it up" with the two of us. He's still all "anti-gaming with internet strangers". He just doesn't get that EVE is /never/ going to be like he wants it to be. Basically, like WoW is. Battlegrounds for PvP, Instances for PvE with your friends. I hope he sees the light at some point.

#3. Tabletop gaming

Ever since my last entry, I've played exactly /one/ session of DnD. And that one was maybe, 3 hours long. It's sucked cause I've wanted to get a chance to play my Warlock. The other guys are busy with work (out of town), and my friend Inferno is working graveyards, so it's really hard to find any time.

I almost need a different group to game with, but I don't know anyone off hand.

#4. Renting

My landlord is selling the house, and is in the midst of some minor touch ups to make the place look better. After he cleans up some of the crap in the backyard, and gets the upstairs painted and such, he's going to list the house. I'm hoping he lists it near the end of the month, so I can have all of June to move. I techn ically don't need to be out until the end of July, but I'd like some breathing room in that department.

Which brings me to my other point: "Where the heck I'm going to live in this freaking town with its ridiculous 0.7% vacancy rate?"

Luckily, I've found a solution, in case I can't find somewhere to live. My friend Inferno owns a house in town, and has an extra bedroom he can rent me. Our one friend lives downstairs too, but he's got almost a entire suite to himself (minus the kitchen).

I've looked for places to rent, but there's sweet fuck all near my current place, which is only a few blocks from work. I live near work cause I don't have a car, and it makes it cheaper to live. No gas, insurance or car payments to worry about. Mass transit isn't really an option for me, as the system here is shitty, and I work odd hours so getting to/from work could be problematic. I have shifts that start at 6am, and others that can end at 11:30pm, so some buses aren't running or run only sporadically at those hours.

Anyway, I've found a couple places, and am still waiting to see what they are like, but the unfortunate truth is that they are a /lot/ more expensive than what I am paying right now. The best I found is smaller, and costs at least $100 more per month. It's just as close to work as here, so it's not all that bad. I have to see it tomorrow.

But if that doesn't pan out, I'll move into Inferno's place. When I mentioned it to him on the phone today, he didn't seem surprised, worried, upset, or anything. He's bugged me to move in a couple times, but I have always said no, as I was (and still am) worried it would adversely affect our friendship. We'll have to talk about that first, as I've been friends with him for almost a decade now, and I don't want to ruin that. Plus, he's only got a spare room, not an entire suite, and I have a /lot of crap/, so we need to figure things out.

We're going to look at what we can do tomorrow afternoon, for space, where to put stuff, etc. I'm sure I could fit all my bedroom stuff in his spare room, plus my desk (currently in my living room), so that's not a problem. The big problem is my living room furniture, and the stuff I have in storage in the closet. He does have a car port/garage in his basement that he doesn't use, so I could probably put my crap in there. But where to put my couch and such?

We'll have to figure it all out. The biggest reason for moving in there would be he would only charge me like $400 / month, /tops/. Compared to right now, that would save me $250 a month in living costs. If I had to pay for gas and insurance, I'm sure it wouldn't be more than that. Even if it was, it would still be less than the places I've seen, and the bonus would be I would have a car!

Now onto the car bit. I told him I would need a car, cause the old beater I have ('83 Buick Park Avenue) is just that. An old beater. It hasn't been driven in /years/, is horrible on gas, and is rusted to shit on the back panels. I couldn't even get it to start the other day to move it out of the way for my landlord. Suffice to say, it's not something I can rely on to get me to work.

So I told him I'd need a car, and he told me our mutual friend (I'll call her "J"), is still trying to sell her car. One that I was interested in buying a while ago, but didn't have the money for. J works out of town a bunch, so she doesn't have the time to sell it, hence why she still has it. And she is asking a price that's totally reasonable too. Plus, she's taken care of it, so I won't have to worry about it falling apart. I have more than enough money saved up to buy it too. Recently, I thought about getting the same car, albeit a brand new one.

Seems like things are looking my way for a change.

#5. Heroes/Smallville

Okay, #4 was waaay too long. This one will be brief, I promise.

Smallville was the season finale last night. It was okay, but there were too many "characters are dead/alive? we don't know" moments in it. And it's of course, "To Be Continued ..." for next season. I fucking hate that soo much. Plus, they introduced "Bizarro Superman". All I can say is, what the hell?

It seemed cool, but yet stupid all at the same time. I dunno, the show is losing it, that's for sure.

As for Heroes, its season finale is 2 hours away, and I can't wait. It's so much more enjoyable than Smallville. Drama, more realistic stories, none of the "villain of the week" that seems to plague Smallville. Plus, I really like Peter Petrelli in it. He's cool, yet vulnerable at the same time, and never seems to flinch from his mission. Kind of like Hiro, my other favourite character.

#6. Other MMO stuff

I'm still playing CoH, which has amazed me completely. I was sure I would throw in the towel after a week or so, for sure. Just like all the other times I came back. But this time I've stuck around. Probably cause there's people to talk to now. It's crazy actually. There's usually at least 2 other people online when I am. Sometimes there's up to 6-7! It's a major change compared to when I quit last time. I used to never see anyone. Maybe one person for a half hour, tops. I've also kept my playtime to only when I get the urge. Not to login every day like I used to. Sometimes I want to login every day, other times it's only for an hour or so, just for a quick fix. But that's okay. It gives me what I want. I'mn sure once I get my characters all ironed out, RPing will be another thing I can enjoy when I want.

Another reason I've kept playing is that I've tried some new powersets and ATs. I've also come up with completely new characters, going through countless revisions to find the right ones. I started with a Dark/Dark scrapper, meant to be a corpse, reanimated to fight the undead. But I scrapped him (pardon the pun), as he wasn't all that interesting to RP, and I had a hard time playing him, ICly and gameplay wise.

I made up an Ice/NRG Blaster and figured out his background and personality in no time. It was one of the easiest characters I've come up with. Not too sure about him though, as Ice holds no mysteries for me. But he's still fun to play. I've yet to RP him at all, but I know I'd be a snap. I'm sure some others would hate me though. He's a bit abrasive, that's for sure.

The other characters have been redesigned I don't know how many times. I changed their powersets, backgrounds, looks. Everything. But now I like how they feel, and what's more important, I like how they play. One is a Rad/Rad Defender. I've played the reverse on a Corruptor to about level 14, so I know the terrain. He has been modified to fit into the place the Undead guy was going to take. All my characters are linked in some way, so I changed the story a bit and came up with the Rad guy. He'll be a much better fit ICly, and more interesting to RP with.

The last guy is a Claws/Regen Scrapper, and he's been modified to be like an old tabletop character I made. I knew exactly how the tabletop guy was, before any mechanics were involved, so it's easy for me to work with him. RPing him might be a bit tricky, as he's modeled after the same character I made my old scrapper Dex from. So I don't want to fall into the trap of just playing a Dex clone. But his background is totally different than Dex, it's just that his attitude is similar. We'll see how it goes.

I've been checking up on LotRO as well, as it's now quite popular, especially with the casual players. That, and one of my CoH guildies is playing it. I still don't really see the appeal, but I guess it's the whole "Lord of the Rings" part. I was never a fan of the books, and hadn't read them, until I saw the Fellowship. I still wouldn't say I am a big fan of the books, but I did enjoy the trilogy /a lot/. How the MMO fares will be something interesting to see. It just seemed to me to be "too friendly" for casuals, and too much like WoW, but missing some of the things that WoW had that made it cool.

I've even given the thought to trying the EQ2 trial again. This time, I'd like to see it with the SOGA models. The SOGA models are the ones from the Asian release, and are downloadable for everyone else. You can even pick and choose which ones you want to use, which is nice. The difference between the two types of models is huge, IMO. The SOGA ones are a bit anime-inspired, but they are far more interesting to look at. Plus, the fact that they aren't completely realistic, reduces the Uncanny Valley aspect so that it's looks good, but doesn't seem as fake. I'm not sure if the trial can use the SOGA models or not, so I'll have to check around.


I can't think of anything else to say. That's a good thing though, looking at the size of this entry.

See you all later.
The Rev.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Okay, you might have liked the summary part of the last entry, but this time I'm just going to ramble.
So be warned.


First off, currently I'm completely engrossed in something unexpected.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5

Actually, to be more precise, I'm engrossed in one thing: Character customization. And it's due to one simple fact: I have waaaaay too many DnD 3.5 books on PDF. I had quite a few before, but after re-installing Limewire the other day and going on a "gaming books in PDF" download spree, I have something like 25-30!

All the extra books, on top of the core books (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual), just add way too many options to the mix. There are a crazy amount of starting classes and prestige classes to pick from, not to mention the new feats, spells, magic items and such.

You see, the reason I'm so engrossed is that my weekly tabletop group is still playing DnD 3.5, as our GURPS GM has too much on his plate at the moment. That's fine, but I still feel the class/level system of D20 is too rigid. With only the core books, it's rather difficult for me to make a character I like, and that feels like it's my own. Not like every other character of the same class.

So ... I endeavored to find more choices, so I could make a character I could truly like. Unlike my only other character, Cedric, my Human Rogue. See, the other guys all have two characters to play. As we have different people taking turns GMing, one of the required characters might be missing for an adventure, as the GM's characters aren't allowed in a adventure he runs. So people have made different characters, so that we have a good mix of the usual types: Fighter, Healer, Magic User and Thief. We've also tried to keep our characters different enough so that no two people have the same style of character. Our two fighters are a Dwarf Barbarian, and a Human Female Fighter. Even though they are the same style of Fighter (two handed weapons), the characters are radically different. Our Healers have been different too: A Druid (who died), a pure Cleric (replaced Druid), a Thief/Cleric (backup healer), and a Bard (backup as well). All four are different as well.

So, back to the matter at hand: creating my second character. I had figured since we were low on magic user types, my next character should be a Wizard or a Sorcerer. But the extra books I had before introduced some other Magic classes that sounded appealing. The Warlock, for example. Unlike all the other Magic types in DnD, the Warlock doesn't prepare spells, nor is he limited to a certain number of spells per day. He is only limited to a small handful of spell-like abilities, but can use them /as much as he wants/. That is what I found interesting. If the party was in a prolonged fight/chase/whatever, and were running low on spells, the Warlock would be unaffected. Plus, I liked the sound of the class itself, and it's slightly evil bend.

The only thing was, I had played a Warlock once already, and found it to be unsatisfying. At least, with the group of characters we had at the time. But after looking at the different classes, and all the new ones, the Warlock still seemed like the most interesting. Plus, it's pretty much pure ranged DPS, so that's always a plus with me. Love the Damage dealing classes.

But, the one hurdle I've found, after /trying/ to peruse the seemingly endless amount of books I have on PDF, is that the Warlock has a lot of limited choices when it comes to preferred races, as well as Feats. As for the Races, there are none in the core books that have a Charisma bonus and are non-level adjusted (CHA is the Warlock's prime attribute). That is, all the ones I could find that have CHA bonuses are also ones that count as one level or more. So I'd have to sacrifice a level to get a better CHA attribute.

There is a way to remove the level adjustment after gaining some XP, and we've allowed it in our game (the one guy's Paladin did this), but it still leaves the end character lower level than I could start him as. All of our characters are at least level 5 or more, so if we make new characters, they start at 5. With the buying off the level adjustment, my character would wind up at about level 4.5, and technically still be the same as it was before (when counted as level 5), but that would leave him with lower everything. I would get more XP, as it's based on level, but my character would be slightly weaker.

So, all this rambling and this is the short of it: I'm torn between what I should do, and how to do it. A Human is the easiest choice for Race, as there's no level adjustment, more skill points/level, and an extra feat. But the one race I found in the Planar Handbook looks really cool, and I already figured out how to play the character. It's a Mephling, a weaker form of a Mephit. Mephits are creatures from the Elemental Planes, and have abilities that reflect their home plane. Fire, Earth, Air and Water are the planes, and types of Mephits. But Mephits have high level adjustments, so the people at Wizards of the Coast came up with Mephlings. They are like "stunted" Mephits. They have some of the abilities, but nearly all of them. And the one I like is the Air Mephling. Mostly cause they have Flying to start with. It's not great flight, as it's only 10 ft/round, and their land move is 30ft. But it does have Perfect Maneuverability, so they can hover, move up/down/backwards at the same speed. And one of my goals with the Warlock was to get the Fell Flight ability at level 5. So the Mephling can free me up to take something else.

Problem though, is that the Mephling isn't all that great otherwise. They have a breath weapon that deals about as much damage as a longsword, and can only be used once/day. -> Meh. They have a bonus to Charisma and Dexterity, so their Armour Class is higher and the Warlock's spells are harder to resist. But they have a penalty to Intelligence, so I get a lot fewer skill points than the Human. They are Small sized, so they get a bonus to Armour Class, a bonus to Hide and a bonus to Hit. But they also use smaller weapons (less damage) and can only carry 2/3rd as much.


Gah! I just got sidetracked /again/ looking at the PDFs. Dammit, it's frustrating. At least if this was GURPS I could simply think of a character idea/flavour and just make him. No fuss, no huge worries about what race to pick or whatever. Plus, I know GURPS like the back of my hand, whereas with DnD, I'm mostly lost, aside from the base mechanics.

Okay. I'm going to try and avoid looking at anything else until I finish this entry.

Basically, the amount of choices, combined with the major restrictions, and my lack of knowledge of the books has turned what should be a fairly easy exercise into a nightmare. I've /never/ spent this much time on creating a character in my life. Even when I made characters for systems I had no clue how to play (read: Werewolf: The Apocalypse).

So frustrated.


Onto other things.

I mentioned the Lord of the Rings Online Open Beta the last time, and I thought I should give some follow up to it. I played quite a bit over the span of a week and a half or so. It wasn't really that much time, totalled up, as it's very easy to level in LotRO. I think I had 8-9 hours on my level 12 (almost 13) Champion. And that's with getting lost for a least a half hour, looking for some stupid barrow mound.

Anyways, I think the newness of the game has worn off, and my jaded outlook has come back. Really, after I look at it, there's nothing new about it at all. That's not really a negative, as WoW wasn't anything revolutionary either. But like Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO), also from Turbine, I found that I liked the visuals and minor features of the game, /a lot more/ than the actual gameplay itself. LotRO is a very nice world to look at, and they did an awesome job on the visuals, considering the low requirements. And it has a lot of cool features, like the LFG panel, Titles, tooltip compare info (vs. equipped weapons/armour/etc.), starting with 5 inventory bags, etc. But the core combat gameplay is not very interesting at all. I find it rather mindless, and not very challenging at all. Only when I'm facing more than one mob, a named mob, or a much higher level mob does it get dicey. And the fact that I have so few abilities, even at level 12, is a letdown. You'd figure that you'd unlock a fair number and they'd get better with levels. But most of the abilities are rather dull, and they have /long recharges/.

If you remember how I feel about waiting to attack in CoX, you can guess how I feel in LotRO.

Other things bother me about the game too. The ability to get around is /really expensive/. To take the pony in the dwarf lands from the main town (starter area) to the second town, is 12 silver! That was over 10% of my money at level 12, and I had held off training some skills cause they cost 10s each and I wanted to know if I needed them. I could have run back to finish the quest, but it takes like 15-20 minutes. In that time I could have a quest done and be 20% towards my next level. It's stupid. All the items on the vendors are ridiculously overpriced as well, and they aren't even anything special. Usually you can get a better item from a quest in no time, so why spend the coin?

There are a few other things that irk me, but mostly I just don't see myself playing it. Right now I could be playing the game, as the Open Beta is still on, but I really have no desire to. I can't really explain it. The game just doesn't interest me.

Oh well. No harm, no foul I guess. It's not like I had to pay to find that out. Just like Vanguard, I got to make up my mind for free. I like that.


As for gaming in general, it's odd for me to say, but I haven't played much of anything, for over a /week/!

I know, I know, it's odd. Especially for me, but since I switched back to day shifts, I've barely touched my computer for anything other than email, surfing the Web, and looking at PDFs (*grrrr* ). At first it was because I was still fucked up from switching my sleep schedule over, so it was hard to stay awake and concentrate on video games. But then it just somehow changed over to coming home from work, watching some TV shows (like the Star Treks, Stargate, and CSI), having dinner, and just fiddling around before going to sleep. It's weird.

And I don't really miss the games that much either, which is /even weirder/. I'm sure that it's just a phase or something. Like I'm subconsciously giving myself some rest from games, so when I play them again they are enjoyable once more. Or something like that. Or maybe it's cause I don't really have any games that engage me right now. Nothing I have gets me excited to play, not even my FPS games.

Or maybe it's cause that now that I'm on day shifts, work is much more hectic, and much more social than night shifts. So when I come home, I'm tired and just want to relax. Games are too much work, or something.

I dunno, I'm just speculating. I'm sure your guess is as good as mine.


That's about it for this edition. It's time for me to sleep now anyways.

G'night all.
The Rev.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

I'm going to try something new this time. I'll list a summary of what I'm going to talk about first. Then you can choose whether or not you want to read it. It should keep you from having to wade through my somewhat lengthy posts.

1. EVE Online
2. Closed Beta of the Chronicles of Spellborn
3. Open Beta of Lord of the Rings Online
4. Random personal stuff



So, my account for EVE has expired and I kind of forgot it was, so I didn't get a chance to set a month long skill to train. Oh well ... I think I had something like Battlecruiser set to train to level 4, so it's not all bad. I guess it really doesn't matter as I'm not sure if I'll ever go back.

I think this time the combination of knowing that the EVE Devs cheat, and that the saying "the fun is right around the corner" doesn't apply to EVE will keep me from resubscribing. It's /always the same/. The level 1 missions I ran are exactly the same as the level 3's, except they were much faster (lvl 3s take /forever/), there were usually fewer ships and of course, the ships were smaller. I actually think I had /more fun/ doing the low level missions, just cause they required you to pay more attention. My level 3's ended up being: 1) activate shield hardeners, 2) warp to mission, 3) shoot NPCs till they die, and if need be 4) fly to next area of mission, repeat from step 3). I never needed to manage my velocity, or account for transversal velocity/tracking speed, etc. It was almost something you could do semi-AFK. Not my idea of fun.

On another note, there was a big Alliance battle in EVE over a Capital ship class shipyards the other week. The defending alliances were Band of Brothers (BoB) and their hired mercs (called "the Alliance") vs. their enemies, almost /all the other 0.0 space Alliances/ (called "the Coalition").

Anyways, the Coalition was told to take out the shipyard and never turn back, as their was a rumour that a Titan was under construction. Titans are the biggest ships in EVE and insanely hard to kill. There is about 3-4 in the whole game. So the Alliance had a bunch of ships on defence, and the Coalition was ready to attack. So what does a CCP Dev do? He artificially limits the number of ships allowed into the system, in order to keep the sector (server cluster) from crashing. But, what happens is the Coalition capital ships jump in and get pummeled as they have no support. The Coalition did manage to take out the shipyard, but at heavy losses. The Alliance didn't get too badly beaten up.

My gripe is the limit the Dev/GM put on the system. It was artificial, and cost the Coalition a lot of ships. Plus, the fact that apparently the heads of BoB knew about the limit is another biggie. BoB has /always/ been claimed to be the buddies of the Devs, and recent Dev corruption has even proven that. The Devs have characters in the Alliance, and high ranking ones at that. In a game where it's all about competing with the other players (PvP), having people on one side be Devs isn't really fair. They have first hand knowledge of the inner workings of the game, and the power to "cheat". How is that a level playing field?

It just pisses me off to no end. Like hackers in a FPS. At least on a FPS server people can vote kick/ban the cheaters. How do you do that to the person who makes the game?



I got an email the other day saying I got into the Closed Beta of the Chronicles of Spellborn (TCoS, or simply Spellborn). It's funny cause I've pretty much ignored the game for months, as there was not much about it for the longest time, and they don't seem any closer to release.

After playing it, I can understand why. And even though my expectations had fallen quite a bit before trying it, it's still disappointed me. I'm not sure if saying that is breaking the NDA, so I won't go into specifics. But I will say this: I doubt I will even give it a second look. It simply not anywhere near what I was expecting. But then again, I don't know what I was really expecting, as they were doing all kinds of new things. Like manual targeting, skill focus vs. items, etc. Maybe that's why it's let me down.

Who knows what will happen to TCoS. It's scheduled for release in Europe this summer, I believe. But they haven't announced a North American release yet. And I can maybe see why. Perhaps they aren't able to find a publisher here that is willing to put up money for such a different MMO. Different is risky, and since MMOs cost so much, publishers are much less likely to agree to pay for something they might lose money on.



So I was disappointed with TCoS. Granted it is Closed Beta so things can change, but it didn't look good. Then I tried the Open Beta for Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO). My expectations weren't high, they were actually slightly low, as I had heard mostly bad stuff about it. The screenshots had looked nice, but I thought Vanguard had some nice ones too (not all, but some), and look what a pile of shit that turned out to be.

So I loaded up LotRO, and tried it out. What did I find?
Polish. Lots of polish.

I haven't been so amazed at the amount of polish in an MMO since I played WoW way back when. And that was 6 months after WoW launched, so the servers were stable. LotRO is very well done, and has a lot of nice features that I've seen so far. Most MMOs are usually bug ridden messes on release, and take a couple months to get fixed.

There are a few things that I don't like, and it's /very obvious/ that Turbine simply used the Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) engine. It's not that using DDO's engine is inherently bad. It's just that the graphics aren't crazy good either. But the art direction is very well done. It's like night and day compared to Vanguard. I've found myself standing around looking at the world more than a couple times. Sure, it doesn't have near the draw distance as Vanguard, but it's also not all fucking bumpmaps like Vanguard. I /hated/ that. /Everything/ in Vanguard is reflective because of all the bumpmapping. People, armour, the ground, rocks, etc. It's fucking ridiculous.

But anyways, back to LotRO. I really like a lot of things. I think they have the right amount of style, and realism in the game. Stuff like the animations, while not "over the top" are still very fluid, and light years ahead of the shit I saw in Vanguard. Some people said that WoW's animations are better than LotRO, but I'd have to disagree. WoW's are "over the top", but it works with their cartoony art style. LotRO is much more a balance of cinematic and realistic.

The world also feels a lot more alive, at least in the cities, as the NPCs are animated, and some of them move around. Others have little lines they say if a player is near. It makes the world that much more immersive, and engaging. Comparing it with Vanguard again, it's night and day.

Other things I like are the combat. It's very easy to grasp, and has a nice learning curve. The classes are kind of nice too, as they are fairly simplified, and have roles that are easy to define. They even say in the description when you pick your class what they do, ie. Tank, Melee DPS, Nuker, Crowd Control, Healing, Debuffing. And they are slightly different than most MMOs. In a regular MMO the roles are usually the same:

Warrior = Tank
Mage = Nuker
Priest = Healing
Thief = Melee DPS
Ranger = Ranged DPS

They usually mix some hybrid classes in there, but they do the same kinds of stuff. In LotRO, the roles are slightly different. I put the recognizable type of class in brackets.

Burglar (thief) = Debuffer
Captain (warrior) = Buffer/Pets
Champion (warrior) = Melee DPS/AoE
Guardian (warrior) = Tank
Hunter (ranger) = Nuker
Lore-master (??, mage maybe) = Crowd Control/Pets
Minstrel (bard, maybe) = Healing

For starters, the biggest differences I noticed is the lack of a true "Mage" class, and the fact that the thief style class isn't the Melee DPS role. The Burglar still gets the usual "bonus dmg while in stealth or from behind", but they actually have abilities that are group related. Like openings that allow his teammates to do more dmg, or activate specials. As for the Mage issue, the Lore-master and Minstrel aren't really using Magic, per se. The whole idea for the healing aspect of a Minstrel is that your character doesn't have Hit Points, but instead Morale. So the minstrel basically keeps up people's morale so they can fight longer.

I think it's a cool idea, as I've always hated the Hit Point aspect of games like DnD, where a high level fighter can just "stand there and take it" when someone hits them with a sword/axe. Even wearing no armour. It's pretty stupid. At least the Star Wars tabletop game (based on D20, same as DnD 3.5) had Vitality points and Wound Points. Vitality was your character's ability to "roll with the punches" or "duck just enough to dodge that blaster bolt". But once Vitality was out your character was tired and it went to Wound points. Which was actual injury. Plus, critical hits always went straight to Wound points, so it made crits /exceedingly nasty/. Kind of like GURPS critical hits.

Back to LotRO again. So the Minstrel uses something different, yet they still have "Light attacks" or something like that. It's weird. As for the Lore-master, they use bits of knowledge to confound their foes and such. But basically, they still use Magic in a sense. Just not the overt stuff like throwing a fireball. Besides, they aren't Nukers, and Fireballs tend to fall into that category.

I also like the instanced quests, that are completely designed around your character. It makes you feel like you are actually important in the game. A nice change of pace every once and a while to separate the quest grinding with all the other players. One of the other things I love are the emotes. The /smoke emote is very nice as it's looping, so your character stands there, a pipe in hand, smoke rising from it, and puffs on it once and while. The /drink and /eat also have little props too. The mood emotes even change your character's facial expression, until you set it to another mood. With the emotes, I could actually see myself RPing in LotRO. It's a little better than WoW in that department.

There are a lot of other cool features. Like the fear effects when you see scary things like Snow Trolls and Black Riders. The voice overs are well done too. The fact that you /start/ with 5 bags of inventory space, something I hated about WoW (always running out of room in my pack). Other neat things are: Traits, Deeds, Titles, Crafting, Monster Play, the UI, etc. There are a lot of things I could list.

I know it sounds like there isn't anything wrong with LotRO, at least as I've described it. But there is. The quests are pretty generic, but they do seem (at least at the low levels) to be somewhat tied into a ongoing story. A story that seems to unfold as you level up and go to new areas. The sounds are also on the weak side, especially the music. They don't have the rights to use the music from the movies (as they only have the rights to what's in the books), so there isn't any really grand music in different areas. As well, the combat sounds are a little weak, like the DDO ones were. I'm figuring that they re-used a bunch of them. The class abilities seem to be a bit on the low side as well. Unlike WoW which gives most classes a /lot/ of abilities/spells. But still more than say CoX, where you have almost none until the much later levels.

I think my biggest worry with LotRO right now is the levelling speed. And the amount of content. After seeing what Turbine did with DDO, I'm not sure what's in store for LotRO. It seems quite packed with content right now, but I played a Champion to almost level 9 in a few hours. The Open Beta cap is level 15. The total game cap is 50, I think. Is it going to be like DDO, where people hit the cap within /one week/? Or a month? I don't really want to get a MMO if it's only going to entertain me for one month. Even WoW, with it's easy levelling, took me a few months to get bored of. And I never even got to level 60 in it. Another thing is the crafting. I'm not sure how useful it is, and aside from combat, it's the only thing to do.

Guess I'm going to have to give it some more time, and see how the levelling is in the early teens. Perhaps it levels off from there, and is slower. Seems kind of odd that I'm advocating a slower levelling pace, but it's simply cause I want it to feel like I actually accomplished something when I level. If it's so easy it takes an hour, it cheapens the whole experience.

But enough of LotRO. I still have another point to talk about.



My day shifts start on Monday, so I'm a bit freaked out by that. Haven't had to work days in like 2 years, and thus my customer service skills are a bit rusty. I also need to watch my language. I'm so used to being able to curse all the time, I end up doing it and not even noticing. Luckily I'm not around kids.

Since my tabletop group is back to DnD 3.5, I've made it my mission to get more involved with my character, start speaking in the "active voice", not the passive, and try and get the guys more into a ongoing plot of some kind, and away from these one-shot, completely random adventures. The current GM, a guy I've played GURPS with for a while now, is trying to get the guys more into a storyline. But the one guy is very much a "Kick in the Door" type of player. All he wants is combat, and looting the enemies. Character development is something he seems to either be not used to, or perhaps he really doesn't like it. It was good this week though as the one guy, who's been missing for a couple months at least cause of work and his kids, was there. He's very good at using the "active voice", ie. speaking in character. The GM does it most of the time, but not always.

It's funny cause my friend (the current GM) said that my Aliens/Post Apocalyptic/Horror game has been the best blended game we've played. As it's had an engaging ongoing story, character development, but has yet still retained the cinematic action scenes (ie. Kick in the Door style combat). I'm pretty good at using the active voice too. Looking back, I don't think I used the passive voice much at all. It just comes natural when I GM it, I guess.

Kind of cool to be complimented on it, actually. My first time GMing was soooo bad, that it made me really want to get better at it. I also remember one game where I made tons of notes and figured out a bunch of ways the players could complete the adventure, along with what would happen, etc. And then they completely took a different path and I was fucked. It really made me better at coming up with stuff on the spot. Simply because I had to.

Anyways enough of tabletop talk. I think I've rambled on far too long this time.
Sorry about that. I hope the summary at the top helped you skip over any parts that you'd normally not want to read.

The Rev.