Monday, January 28, 2008

Hmm ...

Seems EVE didn't take me very long to get bored with. I cancelled my account today, but I still have 2 weeks left. Luckily, I re-activated during the promo for old subscribers, so it only cost me $9.99 for the month.

Basically, it's come back to doing the same things over and over again, and where I can go from here. Level 4 missions aren't very challenging, and I can mostly solo them all, so doing them in a duo with Kofi just slows down my ISK/hr. Though the duo salvaging/looting is a lot faster, which is nice. But I think I've done all the level 4 missions now, so there's nothing new there.

As for other things in EVE, I really don't have any goals for ships I want to get. Especially since all they will do is allow me to do more level 4 missions. Kofi keeps talking about level 5's, but he doesn't seem to understand that they are less efficient for ISK/hour, require motherships or larger vessels, and are all in low-sec, so the risk of dying to player pirates is quite high. I also don't care about level 5's as they will simply be bigger versions of level 4 missions. Just increase the NPC ship sizes and possibly throw in a few more. The NPCs don't change, just their ship sizes.

It's not like most other MMOs where you start facing mobs that are totally new after a while. CoX is a great example of that. Hellions and Skulls aren't like the CoT nor the Tsoo, the Tsoo aren't like the Devouring Earth, etc. You feel a real sense of accomplishment and more powerful when you start facing new, tougher mobs. And you can go back and stomp those old, weaker mobs. EVE isn't quite like that, as all the NPCs can be fought throughout the game. You can still be fighting the same frigate NPCs in a level 4 mission as you fought in level 1s. The only difference is that in a level 4, there are bigger ships there as well.

Plus, in EVE, once you get a good tank and know the damage resistances/vulnerabilities of the NPCs, you can school them all the time. It's only when you do something stupid like grab aggro from an entire pocket or fit the wrong tank do you run into trouble.

But the biggest reason for me cancelling was because I watched some Warhammer Online videos on YouTube, and realized how much I miss the avatar portion of an MMO. Being a ship in EVE just doesn't do it for me, unfortunately. At least Earth and Beyond had the ability to zoom down and see your character in the cockpit. It just gave you that sense that if you wanted to see your character, you could. EVE doesn't have that. Plus I find it completely immersion breaking. I cannot see the galaxy of EVE as a world, it's simply a game, and that doesn't interest me in the slightest.

About the only thing that might keep me playing is the Red vs. Blue corp war that some players cooked up. They made two corps, named one "Red." and the other "Blue." and mutually declared war. Now they allow anyone to join, try to keep the sides equal in number and just PVP with each other. Most of the time it's in cheap frigs and cruisers with all cheap gear. But they can have fun PVPing, and not have to worry about the politics and time requirements of 0.0 warfare.

Sounds like it could be fun. I might roll up an alt and join them to see. That way I can test it out, and not worry about not being able to rejoin my noob corp. I like some of the people I know there, and they are generally nice.


As for Warhammer Online (WAR), I was impressed with the graphics, but I didn't get to see much of the gameplay, and the bits I did see look very "whack-a-mole". I don't know if I can stand that kind of gameplay anymore. At least I'm not alone in my gaming troubles though. Our roomie downstairs is feeling the same way too. He wishes he had an MMO to play too, as they aren't something you can beat in less than a week. He played Asheron's Call way back when, and WoW around the time I did (2 years ago+). We've both run out of SP games to play, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of new ones coming out for a few months.

I think the only one in the near future I want to play is GTA 4. And that's like March or April. Boo ....

I might just have to try out some trials/demos for games and see if I can find something to pass the time for a while. That, or maybe there's a good NWN2 persistent-world server out there that I can play on. One with RPing and stuff. Could be something new to try.


We'll see. But for now, I need to go to sleep. Work tomorrow.

Later folks,
The Rev.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hey again, figured since I'm bored and need something to do, I'd write up a post.


So, I've been kind of bored lately, especially since I've finished all the really good SP games I have. I still have quite a few games I can play right now. Far more than I'd need, but they don't seem to draw me in that much anymore. Even after re-subscribing to EVE I haven't really played it that much, just a mission here or there.

Let me give you a list of the games I have right now, just to put this into perspective:
- Crysis
- NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer
- Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich
- FEAR: Perseus Mandate
- Skate

Those are just the games I have that I haven't finished the SP parts of. I still have EVE for online play with my friend Kofi, Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat for LAN MP with my roomies, and my one roomie still has all those other games I haven't played. Like Timeshift, Kane & Lynch, etc.

But I keep finding myself not playing any of them. Skate is about the only game I seem drawn to, and that's simply because I can just do the Freeskate mode and go skateboarding around the city. I loved skating in junior high, so I'm a sucker for skating games. And it's a lot better than the Tony Hawk series of games IMO, as it requires some finesse not simply button combos/mashing. It has a much steeper learning curve than the TH games, but when you pull off a sweet trick in Skate you get a better feeling of accomplishment. And the replay editor is fucking sweeeeet. I love being able to edit my replays to change camera angles, video filters, speed, etc. It's pretty amazing.

Skate has a fun MP component to it, but the best parts are all XBox Live stuff, of course. On Live you can team up with someone else and just go skate, which I think is the coolest feature. The skate battles are okay, but there's only so much you can do with them. And it doesn't give people the freedom to learn the controls, so everyone you play with pretty much needs to make their own skater and do the tutorials. But enough of Skate.

As for my other games, they are fun, but they just don't get me excited to play. Call of Duty 4 was awesome after a point, and really got me hooked, but it was over in less than 8 hours. Playing over the LAN with my roomies is hella fun, and the unlocks and promotions add that RPG element to it that makes me want to play more. Kind of like Battlefield 2142 and their unlocks. It adds a slight grind to it, like an MMO, but with less tedium. You're going to run around and kill the other players anyway in a Deathmatch, you might as well get rewarded for it. I think that's a better way to make Achievement-based gameplay than the MMO model. It seems people are getting sick of MMOs now, as WoW has saturated the market and exposed MMOs to almost everyone.

Speaking of the MMO market, it looks like it's not going as well as some of the Developers/Publishers hoped. I think they were all banking on the WoW model bringing in billions of dollars, but the sad fact is that most of the new MMOs are failing, or performing far below expectations. Tabula Rasa is a good example, in fact. Richard Garriot, the lead Dev and creator of Ultima Online, and his team spent /millions/ making Tabula Rasa and so far it's subscriptions are below most other MMOs like Lord of the Rings Online, City of Heroes, etc. TR might just bankrupt NCSoft. or at least make a huge dent in their wallets. I know that many shareholders weren't happy with Garriot or his brother (the CEO of NCSoft America), and wanted them fired for wasting so much money on TR.

Fury was another MMO that came out a while back, and it looks to become a free to play (f2p) game with a RL money for items market, or it will simply be shut down. Pirates of the Burning Sea wasn't received too well in it's open beta, and most people don't seem interested. They also have many bugs and features missing, like TR was at launch. Vanguard was supposed to be the next huge hit and it tanked completely due to all the bugs. The developers Sigil don't even exist anymore, and the game continues to survive on life support (ie. SOE's All Access Pass). Auto Assault was cancelled last August, Star Trek Online looks like it will become vapourware as Perpetual Entertainment lost the rights and is being sued by their PR company, and Warhammer Online and Age of Conan keep getting delayed. MMOs don't seem to be growing like the speculators had said, and many people are becoming sick of WoW. I think it's subscriber numbers are actually going down now.

Basically, it looks like the MMO market has hit that critical mass point where there's too many games, many of which are shoddy/unfinished, and people are more hesitant to play them. There was a similar event back in the 80's when there were scores of Atari and Colecovision games, so many that were made like shit that people just stopped buying them, and many companies went bankrupt. One infamous game (which I actually have in a box somewhere) was E.T. for the Atari 2600. It was slightly based off the movie but most of it made no sense, the manual was incoherent and didn't really tell you how the game worked, and it seemed impossible to finish, let alone play. Apparently the guy who made it was rushed and hadn't even seen the whole movie, so he made the game on hearsay and trailers. It was freaking terrible. Let's just hope that it doesn't come to a crash point. I don't want to see and end to MMO gaming, I'd just like to see a shift towards more virtual worlds and finished products.


So, if I've been bored, what the hell have I been doing?

Mostly, I've been thinking about Dungeons and Dragons. o.O

I guess it's because we're getting into more RP with our group, my character is actually fun to play (mechanics and RP wise), and we've been able to play every week for a while. Tabletop is so much fun when it's good that I could see doing it more often than we do now. Except that puts a huge strain on the GM, especially for DnD as everything has to be pre-made to account for XP, CRs, gear, etc. Not like my Aliens game for GURPS where I just create new enemies on the fly and dole out character points each session.

I've also found myself getting into DnD more because for some reason I've developed a "powergamer" personality. My gnome ninja is a perfect example, as is my secondary Cleric character. Both are designed with a background story and all, but also built with the rules in mind and how to best use those rules to my advantage. My tabletop group was quite surprised at how powerful my Ninja is, especially since he disabled a Drow Cleric and took her out almost all on his own. My Cleric is the same way, but he's never been used yet, as the secondary characters are basically shelved at this point. Once the Super-Campaign™ is done, we'll probably go back to them as a backup game, or shift over to something else entirely.


Hmm ... I'd better stop here. I really don't know what the hell I just wrote. It kind of just all came out at once. Hence the rambling, incoherent nature of it all.

Sorry about that,
The Rev.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Figured it was time for an entry even though it's only been a couple weeks. Mostly because some things have come up that I needed to talk about.


In most recent news (ie. what has just happened a few hours ago), my tabletop gaming group finally got together to start our Epic Campaign™. This was good for a couple reasons. For starters, we've got another player so now our party actually has a true fighter type for being the meatshield. And what's great is the guy is a very nice guy, and he can actually roleplay his character. Even though he had about 20 mins to roll the guy up. He said his former group was far more beer, laughing and combat. Not so much on the in-character stuff and roleplay.

The next good thing was our one player is back to GMing, and he does such a better job than the last guy. He actually speaks in-character, and has more out of combat stuff going on. And he's brought in some political intrigue and stuff to mix things up. It's really fun. And a hell of a mess for our characters. Fuck knows how the hell we're getting ourselves out of this mess.

Another nice thing was I finally got to ditch my sub-par human rogue, Cedric, in favour of a totally new character. Since the party still needs a trapsmith/locksmith/sneaky type I went with the Ninja class. Originally I was going to use an Elf, but after a search of the DnD forums, I found out about the Whisper Gnome. And man ... are they fucking sweet when it comes to rogue type characters. Darkvision, DEX bonuses, great skill bonuses (Hide, Move Silently, Listen, Spot), +1 AC, and some spell-like abilities once/day. It's amazing how good they are. The only negatives are their STR and CHA penalties, crappier damage (smaller weapons), and less carrying capacity. But since I rolled fucking awesome for my stats the STR and CHA penalties are negligible, the inability to wear armour as a Ninja makes the lower carrying capacity not so problematic, and the extra damage from my Sudden Strike makes up for the lower damage.

The only big drawback of the whole ordeal is that I have slightly less skillpoints and I can't do extra damage when flanking. Both are from the Ninja class. But I can turn invisible, jump 15 feet in the blink of an eye, climb up sheer walls and later on I can turn ethereal like a ghost. Overall it's sweet.

The one kind of crappy thing tonight was that my roomie Inferno was so bagged he ended up falling asleep on the floor while we were playing. So we just made him go to bed, and I ran his character for a while. It's something we're considering so that we can actually advance our campaign and eventually finish it. If someone is missing, we have other people play them, and they just don't get any XP for that session. Then we can fill them in next time. It's a rule that Inferno and I followed with an old gaming group we had and it worked out quite well. But then again, in that group we almost always had everyone there. This group seems a lot more problematic when it comes to scheduling.

But at least it seems like we'll be getting together again this coming Sunday. Should be fun if everyone's there. Can't wait.


In gaming news, I recently finished Crackdown for my 360. My friend and co-worker Kofi got it for me for XMas. I got him Super Mario Galaxy in return. It was a really great game, but near the end it kind of lost it's magic. The last city are (one of three) only took me one night to beat, as I already had max skills in almost everything so there was no need to do anything but wipe out the bosses. And at that point it was rush into the complex, find the boss and nuke them with about 4 rockets from my rocket launcher. It was stupid. All of them died so easily. It was the process of getting to them that was actually challenging.

I might play it co-op with my one friend, who incidentally is our tabletop GM right now. But that would require me to purchase a Gold subscription to XBox Live, and I don't think I'll get enough out of it to justify the $60 a year cost. I have no MP games I want to play on XBox Live so paying for it seems silly.

Also, I've got to the point where my 360 is running out of games. I checked to see what other games I haven't played (that I actually want to play) and I can't really see any to get. Gears of War looks okay, but my roomie has the PC version off the Net for me, so that seems kind of stupid. After playing the Darkness, I really don't like the FPS style games with the controller, especially when I have the superior (IMO) mouse+keyboard combination at my disposal. I have no desire to play Halo or any of it's versions at all, especially considering that it's supposedly a weak SP game. MP shines but I don't really want to listen to 12 year olds call me "fag" all day.

GTA 4 doesn't come out until late March or something so there's no need waiting for that. And I can't really think of anything else to get. I really enjoy the non-FPS games on my 360. FPS on the PC, and action/arcade games on the 360. Seems like the best combination.


So, I need more PC games then, right?

But the problem is that there's a lack of them right now, as XMas has passed and all the good ones come out before, then usually nothing until near summer (when kids are out of school). Most of the PC games I was thinking about getting I've either played already and given up on, finished, changed my mind about, or I'm only vaguely interested in playing.

Games like STALKER, Call of Duty 4, Gears of War, World in Conflict, Hitman: Blood Money, TimeShift, Kane and Lynch and FEAR: Perseus Mandate. All are a part of the list of games that I've thought about and ended up not getting/finishing. And the thing is that they are the vast majority of the games that came out recently.

I think the major problem is that I've gone back to regular SP gaming, and the very real problem is that SP games just don't last for any real amount of time, especially when I'm playing them. Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect were the only two I've played recently that actually took me a significant amount of time to finish. And I beat them both within the span of a month. Most of the other games I've finished have taken me far less time.

About the only game I can think of that I'd actually like to play, and that might take me a decent time to finish is the expansion to Neverwinter Nights 2 (NWN2). But I don't know how long that is, and the first one was kind of annoying in a few of it's elements. Mostly the UI and the camera.

But it is set in DnD, and it is supposed to be very good (ie. better than NWN2 which I thought had a good story and awesome NPC interactions). So maybe I'll pick that up this week. We'll see.


Which brings me back to the problem that has plagued me for what seems like an eternity. Okay ... it's only been a year or so, but it still seems like forever.

And that problem is: MMO gaming.

See, I think one of the major reasons I'm attracted to MMOs is that they are almost always a huge world to explore. There's things to see and do, so my inner Explorer (ie. MMO gamer type) is satisfied. Mass Effect had this but it was limited a lot by other constraints.

Secondly, MMOs give me a huge progression to follow, so that I don't just blow through the game and stop playing it. There's no way I can play an MMO and finish it in a couple weeks. This is a good thing and a bad thing, technically. There is the grinding and all that bad stuff, but there's no discernible "end" to the game, even when you hit the level cap (which, incidentally, I've /never done/ in any MMO I've ever played). I did max out my skills in SWG as a Master Commando/Smuggler/Medic, but that was different as I could still go exploring, craft stuff, and change up my career at any time to try something new. And SWG was probably my best time in an MMO ever so I don't really see anything as a bad thing from that. It was my first MMO and will always be my most treasured experiences.

CoX did have the best RPing I've ever done, some of the funniest IC/OOC moments, and I made the best in-game friends I've ever had there as well.

Which brings up my last major reason to play MMOs. That is, the friends I make when I'm playing. After playing MMOs for so many years as the primary games I've played (ie. 4+ years), it's really hard to play SP games again sometimes. I can't share the funny things that happen in-game, the cool moments, or the "by the skin of my teeth" moments either. "Gaming in a virtual community" is truly one of the best advances in gaming I can think of. Graphics have always got better, games have always got more complex, but not until MMOs and the invention of so much online multiplay has gaming become a social event. I truly didn't think of myself as a social gamer, and definitely not a social MMO player, but after my experiences with CoX especially, I've come to realize how much of a social gaming butterfly I am. Especially since I am so shy in RL.


So, what does all this MMO talk mean, you ask? It's simple.

I think I need to play an MMO again. At least for the simple reason as I don't have enough SP games to go around, and it'll give me my needed gaming socialization.

I'm sure you're laughing at me now, especially since I've dissed MMOs so much recently and swore them off. So go ahead ... laugh it up.

But the real problem is that I don't have an MMO that I'd really like to play. And that's even more of a bummer. About the only thing I can think of is EVE (possibly LotRO), and that's for the simple reason that it's sandboxy, and there's no way to hit max level, ever.

Plus, Kofi is still playing it, and if I want I can set a skill to train for two weeks or something and go play a game on my 360. I'm sure it would still piss him off if I did it, but I'd have the choice and still not fall behind. Maybe monetary wise, but that's easily fixed in a couple days of missioning. And another reason is I'd eventually like to get into some PvP in EVE. Even if it's me, Kofi and our buddy ganking some lone pirate in low-sec. I don't want to gank a miner or some other carebear, but if we did something like set a trap for some greedy fucker and popped them for it, I'd have no problems with it. Do the crime, do the time.

Maybe I could get Kofi to join the EVE University corp with me. They always have war targets, so we could get into some PvP pretty easy I'd bet. Just would have to fly something we could afford to lose. Like cheaply fitted cruisers or something.


Other than that, I can't think of anything right now. But that's a good thing as it's like 12:30am and I'm sleepy.

G'Night all,
The Rev.