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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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