Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's been just over a month, so let's get with the regularly scheduled update™!

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MMO News:

Inferno and I have cancelled our LotRO accounts and both haven't touched the game in a while. We weren't really playing it, so it wasn't a big loss.

CoX actually kept me interested for a while this time. I almost played the entire 45 days of my reactivation. The double XP weekend really helped me get past the mid-late teen blues, when the game really gets grindy. I even got interested in my character, and wrote up a big bio and stuff. But ultimately, it all came down to fellow players again.

My old SG mates never chat in the OOC channel, or at least don't when I'm around. I never see the people I used to chat with the most, and I didn't get to RP at all. Even the fairly busy SG I thought about joining (I snuck into their OOC channel), ended up being kind of quiet in the end. They also had some rules I wasn't too sure of. Things like uniforms, with specific colours. Plus, the more structured, military feel of the SG didn't really feel like my character. It could be cool, I dunno. If I end up bored again, and try out CoX, I might give them a serious try.

As for EVE, I wanted to try the 14 day "come back special" promotion, but the fine print forgot to mention how long your account has to be expired. So I couldn't take advantage of it. But I ended up re-subbing anyways, as I was in a Sci-Fi mood (see further down).

I started doing some more of the Exploration content in EVE, just for something different. It's a lot more chance based, and the payoffs are variable (a little too much, IMO), but it's a lot easier for me to do, time-wise. If I have some time to kill I can go search for a hidden site, and while I'm searching (ie. waiting for the probes to analyze) I can chat, go grab a snack, etc. There's a lot more freedom than the level 4 missions. If I had something like Angels Extravaganza as a mission, it takes somewhere near 3 hours to kill the NPCs, and loot/salvage the wrecks. It's quite epic.

It gives you a pretty regular payout (bounties and agent rewards wise), so it's a lot more dependable for making credits. It also gives you standing bonuses, which help open more agents up and lower taxes for refining, but the time sink is pretty big.

I also moved from my regular missioning system, which I've been at for a long while now, as I noticed that it was getting a lot more crowded recently. All I seem to see undocking/docking and flying to gates are multiples of the uber mission running ship, the Caldari Navy Raven. Another noticeable effect of the higher population is the lag has actually become a bit of a problem.

But the real kicker was that ninja-salvagers have moved into the system. For those who don't know, ninja-salvager is a profession in EVE where players use scan probes to find other players doing missions (killing NPCs). They then warp into these mission pockets and begin "stealing" the salvage from the NPC shipwrecks. Now, they aren't technically stealing, as salvage has been declared "free for all" by the developers, but a lot of the mission runners feel it is.

Personally, I think it's a valid tactic. But that doesn't mean I want to have them in my mission pocket stealing my salvage. Some of the missions drop salvage that's more valuable then the bounties and agent rewards combined.

So, I decided to do what I had been contemplating for a very long time .... move to the far side of the EVE galaxy. I'm now in a backwater system in the lowest populated region of space. And it is glorious! There's maybe 5 people in most systems, some have 10 or more, and still others have NONE! There's absolutely no lag whatsoever, and the system I am going to make my home (eventually), has a sweet level 4 agent in it with the highest possible quality (it effects payouts, etc.).

Now all I have to do is grind a little and get myself high enough standings to use that agent. It seemed like I had a hard road ahead of me at first. But after a few missions, I don't think it will actually take that long.

Another benefit of the area I am in, is that there's seemingly no one looking for Exploration sites. The Caldari area was normally wiped clean pretty quick, so now I will have a much easier time finding sites to do when I just want to take it easy.

Kofi, my co-worker, has actually expressed interest in getting a mining barge now. He and I are thinking of teaming up, so that if I find any hidden asteroids, he can mine them out, and I can haul the ore for him. The hidden stuff is pretty sweet, and would help a lot for making ammo and whatever else we might need.

And the biggest bonus to EVE is that a long time acquaintance of mine, from my NPC corp, invited me to "her" private chat channel, where a lot of our former corp mates hang out. Many have moved on to their own little corps, big corps, or even 0.0 space ones. But we've all got the Science and Trade Institute as our starter corp in common. It was nice as the people aren't complete n00bs, so they won't barrage me with idiotic questions, and the chat is generally mature. Sometimes the NPC corp chat is like Barrens chat in WoW. And if you don't know what that is, count yourself lucky.

So EVE is actually keeping me a little entertained for once. Perhaps I'll actually stick around for more than a month or two.

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TV:

I DLed the 4 seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise as I was a big fan of the first two seasons, and I wanted to see the episodes I missed. I've been watching a lot of them, as it's been crazy hot here lately, so it's hard to do much else.

I really don't mind the opening song, and I was actually starting to like it. But for some stupid reason they altered it for the 3rd and 4th season and it's sounds retarded.

Aside from that, it's been really cool to watch, and it has got me into a MAJOR sci-fi mood lately. Hence the EVE, and other stuff I'll mention later. I haven't finished the series yet, but I'm about 1/2 way through the 4th season. The 3rd season really wasn't the best, and I can see why it started to lose viewers. They took it away from the "tried and true" Star Trek system of one-shot episodes with a little bit of continuing storylines. And they went a little too overboard with the time-travel and "temporal cold war" shit.

The 4th season seems like it's back to the basics again, and I'm enjoying it much more. Don't really want it to end, but c'est la vie.

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Videogames:

Okay, I went stupid a little, and got a few games a while ago, and now it's biting me in the ass. I have no time to play them all, especially with the Enterprise watching and bits of EVE playing.

First, I purchased Dawn of War and the two expansions, Winter Assault and Dark Crusade. I got it cause Kofi bought it, and it was dirt cheap on Steam. It's a Warhammer 40k RTS but with slightly different systems. There are squads of units instead of single ones, and you can reinforce the squad while they are out doing stuff. You also don't have traditional resource gathering like other RTSes, instead you have to control and upgrade Control Points and Relics. They give you requisition that you use to get more units and upgrade them. You still build a traditional base and all, it's just you don't have the standard resource collection units.

I really like the game, and love the 40k style. The chainsaw-swords of the Marines, the war cry of the Orcs, etc. They are all priceless. And the animations for kills are bloody as hell. I love the bodies littering the battlefields. Kofi and I just play vs the AI, as he's a much better RTS player than me, and we want to remain friends. :P We've got pretty good at beating the AI, and actually managed a 2 vs. 2 on Hard. Some of the armies are just overpowered though, so we tend to not use them, and keep the AI from using them. Overall, it's been hella fun, and we are eagerly anticipating the sequel, Dawn of War 2.

Second I got Guild Wars and it's one expansion, Factions, in a boxed set for cheap. I really kind of wish I hadn't now, as I don't think I'll really keep playing it. It seems like I /need/ a group to play, at least with the character I have. And for some reason I can't seem to find the NPC henchmen to accompany me. The graphics are good, but not stellar like I seemed to remember them. And the missions aren't all that interesting.

It's not a huge concern anyways. It was cheap, and it costs me nothing monthly, so it can sit there all it wants.

The third game I got was World In Conflict. This has taken over Dawn of War's spot as the MP game that Kofi and I play. It's also an RTS, but not traditional either. You don't build bases at all, and have points for units that get airdropped in. And when the units die, you slowly get back the points they are worth. If the units manage to survive a while and rack up kills, they actually get better. It's pretty cool.

The best part though is the Tactical Aids. You get TA points for capturing/fortifying strategic points and for kills as well. The TA points can be used for anything from Aerial Recon, to Air dropped units, to artillery strikes, napalm strikes, and even up to tactical nukes. Yes ... NUKES!

It's really fucking sweet, actually. The Tactical Aids blow the shit outta the landscape and make the game that much more enjoyable. The graphics are amazing, and the sounds are great too. Being able to hide infantry in the forest and buildings, and being able to zoom down to see them shooting out of the windows and stuff is awesome. And this is just the MP part.

I've played a bit of the SP part of the game, and it's epic. The mission briefing cutscenes are voiced by Alec Baldwin, and the storyline is actually really cool. It's based on the same premise as the movie "Red Dawn", and written by a guy who co-wrote some novels with Tom Clancy. I'm really enjoying it, but sadly, it seems I have little time to devote to playing the SP. I've only done a mission here and there. Never more than one at a time.

It will eventually get done though. And I'm sure it will rock. The intro gives me goosebumps too. Just like Battlefield 2142 used to do. Love it.

As I mentioned before, Inferno and I were contemplating playing the campaign of NWN2 together. I actually got him to do it, and we've managed to get some of the first act done. We haven't been able to play it much, but at least we have something else instead of LotRO.

I also DLed the PC version of Gears of War to play co-op with Inferno if he wants. I'm not sure I really like the controls and all, but it's a shooter we can both play. We both enjoy blowing off some steam in FPS games. Should be cool too.

I still have some SP games kicking around as well, but I doubt I'll ever get back to them. They didn't manage to keep me hooked, so I doubt they will bring me back.

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As for Inferno, he's got heavily into Bloodlines, and is almost finished the game. It seems like he's had some rough spots though, as his character is more the social vampire, and mine was simply a thug. The game is far more focused on combat near the end than a normal Vampire the Masquerade tabletop game would be, so I think he's a little gimped. But I'm sure he'll pull through and beat it. Hopefully it doesn't stay unfinished like Kane and Lynch and Jade Empire are for him. He's pretty much given up trying to beat either one of those.

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In tabletop, we've barely had any sessions this summer. Far fewer than the last summer, and when we have got together, it's been for DnD. >:(

I actually mentioned to Inferno that I'd rather not play DnD with our group at all, and wait until our old gaming buddy moves back here to get a good group together. He was just like Inferno, me and our one buddy who normally GMs (which I will now on call "Blake" for clarity sake). The four of us had an awesome Cyberpunk game going a few years back, and we all seem to have the same ideas about gaming. Blake and I have had conversations about Narrativist vs. Gamist styles of RPG games before, and we are on the same page in that we enjoy the Narrativist style more. It's more about the characters, the plot, and RPing to us that it is about mechanics and leveling up or whatnot.

Inferno and I are thinking we should get the two of us, Blake and our other buddy together (when he moves back) and have a GURPS gaming group. And just leave the other 4 people we game with to play DnD on their own. I'm sure Blake wouldn't want to exclude them, and would still play DnD with them, but I really wouldn't care. They aren't the same style of gamers as us, and they /all/ seem to only want to play DnD. Three of the 4 of them are starting up DnD campaigns. The only reason the 4th isn't is it's because that's the girl gamer, and she has no idea how to GM. The one guy's cousin is starting some other DnD game as well that a bunch of them are playing. The lot of them are just retarded for this archaic, meaningless game system. It's fucking stupid and just annoys me to no end.

Mainly because I have great campaigns for GURPS that I seem to get one session starting, and then they get left my the wayside when we go back to DnD. Months down the road we might continue my game for a session, only to leave it for DnD again. I really have lost any interest in GMing when all my games are broken up into single sessions, months apart. I can't get any momentum going to get the players involved, and I lose track of details and ideas I had to continue the game.

About the only game I'd be willing to GM at any point is the Werewolf game I ran for Inferno and Blake. I really like the storyteller rules system for the World of Darkness, and Blake and Inferno are both good at actually "playing" their characters, rather than just using them as a bunch of stats.

I was supposed to GM my GURPS Space game tonight, but I was tired when I woke up this morning, and just thought "fuck it". They're not going to appreciate what I'm trying to do, and we're just going to leave the game for DnD next time anyways. I'm also not looking forward to any of the next sessions as they are ALL going to be DnD.

Here's a breakdown of the DnD games these idiots have going:

Blake:
- two games, based on a party split in two (not bad, but he uses published adventures, so they tend to feel out of place), he has taken over this one from a previous GM that moved away
- one game based on a Maritime setting (pirates, ships, etc.) (might be cool, but is still DnD)

The others:
- one post-apocalyptic game, where the "good races" are the outsiders, and orcs, demons, undead are the powers that be (sounds cool, but the GM makes everything combat related and almost kills the entire party off each time)
- Undermountain (one guy's cousin, using a published adventure. Undermountain is a epic dungeon crawl, so chance of RP is slim to none. Better off playing Diablo.)
- the Underdark (never seen this one in action, fortunately. GM is all over the place as a player, so who knows how he GMs)
- some published adventure (same GM as Underdark, who knows how this will be)

I really think we need to break up our group at this point. Any game that has all of us as players/GM becomes almost impossible to continue as we're relying on /seven/ of us to get together at the same time. We used to have enough trouble with 4 people.

Perhaps if our buddy moves back here we can break the group up into DnD and non-DnD people, and go our separate ways. I'm sure there will be some dismay over it, but they have to face the facts that we simply have become too big of a group to handle. And personally, I don't want to GM a game with 6 players. It becomes stupid to try and keep things balanced and keep everyone involved.

But enough of tabletop, it's melting my brain.

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That seems about it for now. Sorry for the MASSIVE post, but I had a lot to say this time.

Hopefully next time it won't be so verbose. ;)
The Rev.

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