Friday, 30 December 2011

MWO - Mech no5 revealed

The Catapult, one of the absolute classic Battletech mechs, gets brought BANG up to date with it's redesign for Mechwarrior Online.
click to enlarge

I've always liked the style of the Catapult, but it was one that I was a little doubtful on how good it would look today, as much of the older Battletech artwork has dated very badly. Thankfully and once again, I'm very impressed with how Piranha are making the old mech designs relevant.

Can't wait to see some in-game screenshots!

For reference here's how the Catapult looked in Mechwarrior 4, screenie thanks to gamespot.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Holidays and stuff

Yeah sorry, I've not been posting due to Christmas holiday mentalness and stuff. Normal posting shall resume shortly, quite a lot to talk about with SWTOR obviously, but also WAR, MWO, DMO and other games.

Back soon :) Oh and Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and so on and so forth.

In the meantime, Durtbocks just posted this on the KF shoutbox

 :) lol

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

WAR Producer update

Whilst most of us are SWTORing away, there's still life in the old WAR dog and James Casey has posted a Producer update over on the official WAR forums. Should be some more developer discussion posts going up soon too. Whilst we may bemoan delays with 1.4.5, it is a sensible reason to delay putting the patch on the PTS for sure and I'm sure people would prefer to test something not totally FUBAR.

Now I shall return to sticking lightsabers up Jawa arse.

For those averse to link clicking, I've copy pasted the info below:

Greetings all

With the holidays looming, I wanted to give you a quick update on where we stand for our latest patch and what to expect over the next few weeks.

The goal going towards the holidays was to finalize the1.4.5 patch enough to get it on PTS for testing purposes before we left for break. We wanted to have a week or so and then leave it up.

Unfortunately, we had some technical issues on our internal test server that serves as the testing environment between our development servers and the live environment where PTS resides. Given the amount of time that it took to resolve those issues, it pushed back on the testing that is required there before we can push it up to PTS.

With time running out before the holidays are upon us, I’d rather not just cram in that testing and throw it untested to the wolves with no one here over the break we have next week. I’d rather be able to respond and get fixes up in a timely manner to your testing.

That’s the ‘bad news’. The ‘good news’ is that we’re still going to give you something for the break. Actually we’ll be doing three things.

First, we’ll post a dev discussion with the bulk of the Relic/Fortress information from the patch notes in a digest format for you guys to give some feedback over our break so we can respond to it immediately when we get back.

Second, we’ll be pushing up our scenario changes (minus Grovod Caverns) for the next patch early, as in this week! That means you’ll get fresh new scenarios as well as the much anticipated 6v6 Gates of Ekrund and Caledor Woods.

Finally, even though we have Keg End running until the new year, I’m going to throw up some holiday bonuses through the new year as well.

I know it’s not getting to play with the latest and greatest on PTS, but it does mean you can get some great rewards, try out a new rotation of scenarios, and get to chime in on the new changes so that when we get back from break we’ll have tons of feedback and then you can see it in action.

I apologize that it was delayed some, but we want it to be a great PTS and patch.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

James Casey

The new scenario rotation and bonuses will go up tomorrow! The dev discussion will go up soon as well.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Nar Shaddaa - How rude!!

When my little KF group first arrived in SWTOR's Nar Shaddaa we were immediately struck by the impressive skyline. However this was quickly followed by many lols; partly because we were surprised Bioware didn't notice, but mainly because we're childish twats.

To be fair, I'm regularly called a lot worse.

Friday, 16 December 2011

SWTOR 2 days later

Ahoy me hearties! Since I've been playing SWTOR for a couple of days now, it's time for a few words on SWTOR client and server performance in comparison with beta, identified bugs and whatever other random thoughts pop in there...

Client performance was pretty good prior to launch and I'm pleased to report it has improved further. I'm running on high settings and get a more than comfortable 30-60 frames per second, only occasionally dipping to around 25 when I'm a particularly manic situation. There are still moments of that memory leak style problem where the game starts chugging and stuttering, but this has only happened twice so far and a reboot cleared everything and sorted everything out. Seriously though I must stress this is a minor gripe and I am extremely happy with how the game runs.

BTW to make those fps numbers mean more, my PC spec is a mere:
Q6600 processor
4gb RAM
GTX260 graphics card
Vista 32 (yes I know.. :P )

The servers have been very stable, I've hardly had any issues other than things getting a little spikey now and again, but compared with other MMO launches it has been very good indeed. Connections to the servers are pretty solid, lag hasn't been much of an issue for me, but obviously since I recently recommended people try out WTFast Lagkiller IF they have problems with lag, I figured I should report my results from the SWTOR live servers. Without Lagkiller running I have a latency fluctuating between 46 and 87ms (which is quite reasonable), but with it on my ping lowers a little and the range stabilises to between 35 and 52ms. So not a monumental change or an urgent requirement in my case, but I'll continue with it as it makes a huge difference for my connection to Star Trek Online (Yes I am still dabbling with that and plan to continue) and since I play SWTOR on a PvP server obviously a slightly smoother connection is nothing to complain about.

There has clearly been a fair bit of work put into how smooth things are with the storyline conversations when grouped and I've hardly had any issues. In fact there's a general sensation that almost everything has been smoothed out and given a little glean of polish, it's hard to list exactly what has changed, it just feels smooth and effortless if that makes sense.

The only real bugs and annoyance I've encountered has been with the guild system. The rosters are broken, randomly listing different amounts of people from one moment to the next. For example at one point last night I know we had 24 people in the guild total and 15 people online, yet the roster listed 2 people, when I checked the show offline box it went up to 5. When i then tried sorting the list by name it went up to 7 people... Five minutes later it showed us as having 3 people. This is a right pain in the arse as I can't set people's guild ranks up because I can't see them in the bloody roster! :P Also officer and member notes do not show up at all for anyone, regardless of changing settings or not. Unfortunately Bioware have done what every developer seems to do when launching an MMORPG and left the guild functionality until last. It's very basic and quite broken. However, with guild capital ships on the way and the promise of other stuff, I'm expecting this to get dramatically improved and to be honest if the only serious bugs are to do with the guild roster, well... that's not too shabby!

So all told it's looking very good. I shall amend my previous "worst MMO launch ever" statement to be:

"The worst organised MMO pre-launch ever, but so far one of the best technically and a joy to play once you're in."

I could also use the word smooth a few more times. Smooth smooth smoothy smooth.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

If you make a forum post threatening Bioware with legal action over early game access...

...then you must be an utter twat.

That is all.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Almost there! (lol as if somebody hasn't already used that for a post title)


So for some folks it starts tomorrow! I say "some folks" because due to the bizarre staggered launch nonsense (nonsense for customers, but probably great for Bioware's log-in server stability...) nobody actually has a clue when they'll get to play and won't until they get an email sent at the time their access begins! Personally, thanks to this utter bollocks and the date mix up, I honestly see SWTOR by default as having the worst MMO launch in history, regardless of how great anything else might turn out to be. Sorry for the negative vibe there, but I expect clarity with any product or service that I have paid for and so should you. Don't accept it as ok just because you're excited for the game, it's total bollocks and there's simply no excuse for it, since as customers it's just not our problem. :P

Anyway, mini rant over and on to what is just a very brief post! 

SWTOR must be the most anticipated MMORPG launch since World of Warcraft, I can't think of anything that's compared on the hype factor or had such monumental development costs. Yet we've heard claims of WoW killer so many times before... Seriously, could SWTOR really be the game that rivals World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers? Or will it be just another brief blip on Blizzard's radar, a blip soon to be annihilated with one wu shu style kick from a Panda's bamboo bloated paws?

I suspect it will be somewhere in the middle. The Star Wars IP has a big enough draw to keep a lot of people happy and SWTOR is a much more "friendly to the masses" game than Star Wars Galaxies is (soon to be was). But for SWTOR to rival WoW I think it really needs to steal players in bulk from the WoW player base itself, as I'm just not convinced it's different enough from WoW to pull everyone else in from all the other MMORPGs out there and make us all want to stay. I'm not saying SWTOR is a wow clone, but I'm not convinced it's different enough to be the MMO messiah. 

However I remain confident in having a cracking few months ramming lightsabers up jedi arses. And really that's all that matters; having some fun until you get bored. And actually when it comes to deciding if I enjoy the game or not, well... I don't give 2 turds if it competes with WoW. I just want to have a laugh.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

SWTOR, MWO and X news.

The big news right now is Bioware have announced that SWTOR's early access has been pushed forward to starting from the 13th December (depending on when you pre-ordered). However, it's also come out that there will NOT be a grace period for people to enter their codes after the official main launch day. It's a little concerning how much of a shambles they appear to be with dates, since they've been saying the 15th for a while now and they did also say that there would be a grace period. They also haven't updated all their images and posts, which means sometimes they have things saying 5 and 7 days headstart on the SAME PAGE. Bioware don't appear to be the most organised company in that department, or at least that's how it looks...

Also not having a grace period when your game is launching over the Christmas period (helloooo delayed postal services!) is to be honest completely and utterly retarded. From a purely selfish point of view, I don't care, the early access is all that matters to me, but loads of people are raging and some will not get their game until very late. So basically Bioware are choosing to inconvenience some players and generate a load of bad press for no real reason. Sure, they're probably trying to stop people doing the old "cancel pre-order but play headstart" trick, but seriously... All told it's just a silly thing to do by Bioware.

In other news, Mechwarrior Online's latest blog post details how their Community Warfare will work. Basically this is a galaxy scale campaign system that links to the battles we fight in, our results change who controls the Inner Sphere's vast array of systems. Also Mercenary Corporations (player guilds) can attack and claim planets, which sounds quite intriguing:

"Mercenary Corporations can bid and fight for occupation rights of border worlds throughout the Inner Sphere. Merc Corps must bid on a planet’s occupation rights via a system of contracts generated by the game.

A match or series of matches are set up between the defending Merc Corp and the challenger. The victor is determined from the results of each match, and takes control of the planet. They are rewarded with an immediate contract payout, and will continue to earn rewards while they occupy the planet."

Of course this could all work out a bit like a glorified dynamic map on a website, but we'll see. Putting my general cynicism at everything ever aside, it does sound quite promising.

Elsewhere, Egosoft have announced the imminent (as in just weeks) launch of X3: Albion Prelude. With X: Rebirth coming out next year, I don't think anyone was expecting Egosoft to release another X3 standalone expansion beforehand, so I'm more than a little surprised. Fair play to them I say, a nice surprise and they're even giving it away free to certain customers and discounted to others.

"For owners of the X Superbox, X3: Albion Prelude will be available as a free download on Steam, while for owners of X3: Terran Conflict it will be available at the 'add-on' price of €9.99. For players new to the series, X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude will be available for purchase as a bundle. Time your purchase right and you could enjoy substantial discounts in the Steam holiday sale too!"

So us X3 fans are proper sorted until the release of the lovely looking X: Rebirth.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

3 posts in one day? Doctor Who demands it!

Yeah well the BBC have just released a 1min 31 second prequel to the Christmas special for Doctor Who. Which is worth a 3rd post in my book :)

CCP sure know how to make trailers

The trailer for EVE Online's 15th expansion: Crucible. Yes you read right, 15th!

I would recommend watching it in HD, but whatever you do crank the sound up.

Damn them. I want to resub now.

Tribes: Ascend

I'm on the closed beta, but thankfully there's no NDA :) So here's my mini review/preview/thing.. However I've been beaten to it and there are a few comprehensive previews out there already, so I'll embed one from youtube below as well.

I like it a lot. It's just like the old Tribes game and that is exactly what we would have hoped for, as the original is a classic that was way ahead of its time. Gameplay is exceptionally fast because you can move at insane speeds, using a technique known as skiing where you use downwards motion to skim across the ground and then combine this with your jet pack to go hurtling through the sky. I must say that it is an absolute joy just to move around in this game, the devs talk about "freedom of movement" and yeah, they've totally nailed it.

Most of the weapons have travel time to account for with their munitions, some being direct fire and others working like the classic mortar / grenade launcher style. This means you must learn to instinctively calculate lead time for your shots to have a chance of hitting those fast moving enemies. When it comes to a shooter being a game of "skill", Tribes remains unrivaled.

Tribes has always been built around Capture the Flag and Tribes: Ascend is no different. The maps work perfectly and features with bases and defenses that are actually worth something in game; the turrets are nasty... These bases also include equipment terminals and pads for summoning vehicles you can drive like tanks, bikes and a jet fighter. There are various classes in the games which change your weapon and equipment load outs, however you have to unlock these classes with XP or by buying them from the cashshop. Yes, Tribes: Ascend is going to be F2P with a cash shop and supposedly progress from beta is NOT going to be wiped at launch...

Though note this isn't a pay for power thing, it's very much pay for options that you can still earn without spending money. For example the Soldier, one of 2 starter classes that everyone gets, comes with the legendary Spinfusor. Which makes me go :) :) :) The Spinfusor is the iconic Tribes gun and once mastered is absolutely lethal. However it will take a LOT of time to unlock the other classes, but personally that doesn't bother me. If I choose to play the game totally free then I should be prepared for it to take time, otherwise nobody would use the cash shop, the developers would never make any money and F2P as a concept would fail.

Graphics are mostly good, but sometimes do look a bit basic compared with the latest flashy shooters. Yet I think that's mainly because the game needs very humped and often extremely fake feeling terrain to make the most of Tribes unique player movement. And to be honest you're flying about at such speed that really you quickly stop noticing.However it must be said that if you expect BF3 graphics and that's the most important thing for you, be warned that this is a game built primarily around gameplay and as such the graphics support that, not the other way around. IMHO this is a good thing.

I would definitely recommend people give Tribes: Ascend a try, it's shaping up to be a great game, but I would say if you've not played Tribes before then you must be prepared to get your arse kicked.

Finally, if you want to see a lot more game footage and a more comprehensive review, watch this chap's video below.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

SWTOR vs WoW: Battle of the Bears?

The upcoming World of Warcraft expansion “Mists of Pandaria” is undoubtedly Blizzard’s reaction to Star Wars: The Old Republic and yes, I know that is not exactly a controversial thing to say. Whilst there are games in the latter stages of development that will most likely be quite big players on the MMORPG scene (for example Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World), SWTOR is the only serious contender for the Warcraft crown. Regardless of any personal attachment and hype for those games within the MMO community, they just don’t have anywhere near the same uber-media-hype-punch that the combination of Star Wars, Bioware and a monstrous advertising campaign does out in the real world. So presumably Blizzard felt the need to do something big, something that would retain current players, lure in new ones and tempt back those they lose to SWTOR. Their oh so cunning plan was as you know, playable Panda Bears.

 Now grizzled (jaded?) MMORPG veterans like you and I may think that is about as interesting as Vogon poetry, but that doesn’t matter. It probably won’t draw that many people back from SWTOR, yet Mists of Pandaria will still make them a load of money, draw in lots of new younger players and captivate the super casual vast majority that don’t really recognise the existence of games outside of WoW anyway. All despite the fact it’s super childish Panda bloody bear nonsense, that is themed more around a kids cartoon than it is old warcraft lore (warcraft lore… lol) and Blizzard are basically saying they think their players have the mentality and interests of an 8 year old child.

I can safely say that as I have a daughter of the appropriate age who loves the Kung Fu Panda movies and she thinks it’s an awesome idea and now wants a WoW account.

Normally she plays Club Penguin.

However it got me wondering, how would it work if the roles were reversed? Imagine you’ve been playing SWTOR a while, but oh noes! A big competitor is about to launch and might steal people away! So Bioware hatch their oh so cunning plan to keep you all subbed… Playable Ewok expansion! Cutesy little teddy bears with spears! Ahh bless, look they fall over a lot and make cute noises. :)

Now, would you feel excited or a little patronised?

My money is on the latter, though perhaps if Sith had Jawas it wouldn't be so bad. :P

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Lag problems

Lag in games is a pain in the arse. Nobody likes to ragequit because of a bad connection to game servers, but most of us have (or will) at some point. Dying due to lag gets old fast and there's nothing worse than losing in PvP because some players seem to do everything that extra bit faster. Plus nobody wants to be that annoying git in the raid that always lags into mobs... yeah you know the type ;)

MMORPG launches in particular suffer from extreme lag due to everyone being in the same zones at the same time and loads of players competing to kill those mobs... And you know what the SWTOR launch on 20-DEC-2011 is going to be like! Of course that's just the extra stress at launch, yet many people suffer with bad latency at all times. A common problem these days is the way ISPs use traffic shaping, which (amongst things) is categorising the data travelling over your connection and priotising it how they see fit. Unfortunately this can mean your ISP totally shafts your connection to MMO servers, despite everything else like websites seeming fine. For example there were the problems myself and other Virgin Media users had with World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online earlier this year.

If you want a bit of an advantage and a solution for the above problems then it is well worth downloading WTFast Lagkiller for free right now and seeing if that sorts things out for you. The app picks the fastest route from your computer to the game server using PingCraft's advanced global server network and can prevent ISP traffic shaping causing problems, basically the end result is that it greatly improves your responsiveness in the game. For example I have had it down to a 9ms ping!

In the past I've had severe lag problems in games, like World of Warcraft when I played on the EU Doomhammer server, or laghammer as we used to call it and as someone that has been a hardcore raider and PvPer I sure as hell know the frustration caused by lag. So if you want a SWTOR lag fix, or improved responsiveness for almost any other MMORPG then I would definitely recommend giving WTFast a shot. You should instantly notice a difference. And if you think I'm just trying to sell a placebo or blag you, well it has a free trial so you've got nothing to lose. Follow this link to try it out.

Oh and it supports ALL games that are TCP based, which thankfully is pretty much every MMORPG, so it works for WoW, RIFT, Aion, EVE, Star Trek Online and more.

Friday, 2 December 2011

MWO - Cockpit view concept art

Now bare in mind that the plan is for MWO players to primarily play using the in cockpit view (exterior view is not currently in the game, but is being considered) and I think you'll be encouraged by how potentially cool this looks. It's also worth noting that the current plan is for the various dials, screens and so on to actually work and be useful, rather than just gimmicky fluff like in most games with a leaning towards simulation. Click on the images to expand.

Every mech cockpit is expected to be different, and this is likely to mean some more restrictive in view than others, which in itself will provide an interesting difference in how easy some mechs are to pilot over others. A slightly different element to the "class" balancing act developers have to deal with eh?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

TOR Nexus

Werit, that admirable servant of the WAR community, has also heard the siren call of SWTOR. Typically the guy has got busy with the fizzy and cooked up a useful website for gamers with an interest in SWTOR. In his words:

"Lately, I've been having trouble keeping up with all the the Star Wars: The Old Republic news and content being generated by the community. I needed a better (and quicker) way of dealing with them, so the TOR Nexus was born.

What is it? The TOR Nexus is basically an aggregator, but takes in a bunch of different sources. Currently, it looks for TOR content at a number of blogs, fansites, BioWare, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Live Streams. My goal for the project is to keep it simple, quick and useful."

You can find the TOR Nexus at and you can find his full post explaining the plan on his blog which you should have bookmarked already ;)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

My SWTOR weekend

I could just recycle one of my old posts about SWTOR, as it was indeed pretty much what I expected, but that would be lazy and to be honest there were a few small surprises both good and bad, so a new post it is. BTW I've had a limited time slot to write this in, so apologies in advance for any ropey grammar, etc... ;)

Firstly let’s get the bad out of the way….

It was a little buggier than I had hoped. Not like some horribad Funcom style bugfest and yes of course I do expect a MMO in beta to be buggy, but I have high expectations of Bioware and in reality last weekend wasn’t a beta test. The game will barely change between now and its launch in a few weeks and to rely on the usual “BUT ITS BETA!!!11” excuse would be a bit weak. It was however a genuine stress test and that may account for some of the problems, particularly with the regular crashes when logging out which I know many folks experienced.

There were some problems that felt like what we gamers (rightly or wrongly) call memory leaks, where the game starts hogging memory and chugs along painfully. This didn’t happen often but each time it did would eventually lead to a crash when starting a NPC conversation. It wasn’t regular enough to really annoy me, apart from where it crashed right at the end of the entire Esseles instance and lost all my progress…grrr! Though I’m fairly confident it will get dealt with around launch.

The other bugs were fairly minor; getting stuck on scenery, lots of sound problems in the Huttball PvP scenario (which appear to be related to the match commentary), the occasional NPC clutching an invisible weapon and a range of other little odds and sodds

My favourite bug was where for some reason a NPC (the Panthro like dude from the Trooper starting storyline) had been shrunk in size… Full of attitude he walked into the room and started ranting, to which my initial thought was roughly LOL LOL WTF?? since the poor dude was half the height of my shoes and through what must have been force levitation powers was standing directly over a hole in the grated floor (he was that small yes). This made for a bizarrely comical cut-scene as my character struggled to maintain eye contact with a 6 inch high and rather angry officer cat man Panthro beast cat man thing…

I must stress however that I’m not concerned about bugs at all; I saw these bugs over a serious amount of gametime and compared with most MMOs at this stage I think it’s safe to say SWTOR is in very good nick, it’s just not at the same glorious level that RIFT was. I suspect the quality of RIFT’s beta will remain unsurpassed for some time.

There were some lag issues and really they should be expected in a stress test, so are not something to complain about at all, but worth acknowledging. If the test does its job then these lag issues should be eliminated for launch.

The game oozes quality and attention to detail, which does have the side effect of any drops in quality stand out and are perhaps more noticeable than they should be. For example the first thing you’ll see when logging in with a Twilek Jedi is that the sword strapped to his back clips straight through his dangly head bits in a BIG way and I immediately questioned how this not noticed by Bioware when they've been so diligent elsewhere? Then there’s things like how the bind stone type devices didn’t appear to be explained and actually I didn’t even realise they existed until after I had left the first planet. They’re just not noticeable enough. Probably small things really, but well, you notice.

One thing that did annoy me no end is for some strange reason there are various keybinds related to sound that are set to use the CTRL key with one of the standard WASD movement keys, so if like many people you use CTRL for your vent push to talk or for ability binds, you’ll keep turning off your sound off. Unfortunately not all of those sound related keybinds are available in the command listing and as such can not be changed. Sure, I could just rebind my push to talk or whatever, but I’ve never had to before with any other MMO and to be honest there’s no reason why we even need to turn off ambient sound with a keybind…

And now the good stuff.

The game looks fantastic. I really didn't think I would be that sold on the cartoony style, but Bioware have really nailed it with the artwork. SWTOR is packed with true Star Wars atmosphere and the sense of scale is spot on. Some areas are of course more impressive than others, but there was nothing that I thought was poor and plenty that I thought was very impressive. I marked out totally when I walked my Bounty Hunter out of the building she first spawned in and witnessed the Hutt goodness. I only dabbled briefly with the Bounty Hunter as I wanted to save the Sith Empire stuff until launch, so most of my time was spent with the boy scout Jedi lickers, which worked out quite well as it meant I got to see Coruscant. It wasn't instantly as impressive as I hoped, but the more I explored the better and better it got. Huge potential for expansion there too.

Combat was standard MMO fare, nothing new here at all, though everything worked well and was quite fun to play. Obviously everyone has their preferred play styles and that makes any comments on the classes fairly subjective. I tried out the following classes into the teens:
  • Jedi Knight (Guardian)
  • Jedi Counselor (Shadow)
  • Trooper (Vanguard)
I like melee classes best in general, so obviously I preferred the Jedi. Nothing wrong with the Trooper mind you and I will be playing it's mirror (Bounty Hunter) as my first alt. Classes are exact mirrors between the factions just with different spell effects, which is fine with me. To be honest there's little point saying much else about the combat, if you've played any of the EQ style MMOs then you already know how it works.

The big sell for SWTOR has always been the voice overs and more storyline focused quests. And yes it does make for a huge improvement and I did actually pay attention to the quest stories for once. Also the roll off for who gets to answer dialogue when grouped made for much comedy on vent with some of us more psychotic than others. However don't be thinking your choices mean anything, because they most often don't. The quest storylines are regularly on rails (much like in Dragon Age) and really your choices only determine your light/dark side points (which effects your character, not the world iself). That said, it was still fun and better than what we normally get, you just  need to accept and enjoy the roller coaster ride for what it is.

I do however wonder about replay-ability within the same faction, because aside from your main class storylines all the quests I saw were identical when played with a different class. On top of this I'm not convinced I'll want to go through all those voice overs again and again. That applies to repeating dungeons as well as leveling alts. It strikes me that I will have a really enjoyable time leveling my first Sith character, I'm just not entirely sure how great repeating things will be.

The UI needs a LOT more customisation options, scaling in particular, but aside from that I thought it was clean, efficient, easy to use and very Star Warsy. I liked it.

PvP... I did quite a lot of PvP, though this was all warzones (scenarios/battlegrounds/whateeeeeeever) and as result I have no idea how  the open world stuff will work out. The warzones were variations on the standard capture the flag or control point systems we've seen elsewhere and I thought they looked great and worked very well. There was, as always, some people grumbling about CC (crowd control), however they to be frank are a bunch of whiney little bitches that just dont want anything stopping them spamming killy buttons. Most of each classes CC doesn't work at all in PvP (abilities flagged to stun lesser opponents, etc) and I didn't find the amount that did to be too much at all. Having no CC makes games mindless DPS spam, whereas too much makes it purely who CC firsts wins, personally I think SWTOR is looking promising on this front. However, remember I only played characters into the teens, so who knows if it goes to shite later on.

In general my viewpoint on the game hasn't changed. I'm really looking forward to it and will be playing it heavily. I still have little interest in dungeon farming and raiding, so once I hit the end game the question of how long term I continue to play depends entirely on how engaging the PvP is. I'm not expecting miracles there at all, but am open to having my mind changed and haven't ruled out the possibility. At present though I am still expecting a fun ride with SWTOR up to the point where I burn out, which should be perfectly timed to move on to Mechwarrior Online and Planetside 2.

Latest SWTOR beta client will be patched for headstart & launch

That's the client from this weekend just gone. So that's cool.

I'll post thoughts about the SWTOR beta later on.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Well spank my arse and call me Charlie! WAR stuff

OK there's not much here that is actually new news, it's just confirmation of rough dates and things we knew were being considered for the forts, but there are confirmations of patch content and regardless it's good to finally see Mythic talking about something other than WoH.

So if you want some WAR stuff to read check out the interviews with Mykiel at Stratics and Werit at his blog.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pew Pew Classics

You might think that the iconic gaming sound effects of 2012 will be the pew pew of blasters and the crackling hum of lightsabers, For many folks you’d no doubt be right, but for me no bloody way. Like any self respecting 30 something I like a good bit of Star Wars action, but personally 2012 is all about the return of the SCHHHHAAAAPEW!!!
That isn’t some combat caption from the Batman TV show, oh no; this glorious uber-pew is the distinctive sound of a Particle Projector Cannon (PPC) mashing shit up with ionised particles of death. You could say it’s the BFG of Battletech. So whilst the announcement of Mechwarrior Online brought back many excellent gaming memories, for some reason at the forefront of them is the sound of the PPC. When thinking about mechs for some reason I just can’t get it out of my head… SCHHHHAAAAPEW!!! That’s a credit to the people that did the sound effects I think. So often with games we talk about graphics, gameplay and the music, but it’s good to remember the sound effects are a huge part of the gaming experience and sometimes are just as classic as anything else.
So what are your classic sounds from games?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Latest Mech in the lineup revealed

Another Battlemech has been announced for Mechwarrior Online. The Dragon, a heavy class mech that generally specialises in long range combat. The announcement and a bit of lore fluff can be found here.

So the list so far is:

  • Atlas
  • Dragon
  • Hunchback
  • Jenner
I must say that I am totally loving the art for these new versions of classic mechs. A lot of the old battletech art looks very dated, but this new stuff looks very current indeed.

Skyrim, MMOs and dead eyes.

This is a really good post I saw linked on G+ today: I do not wish for an Elder Scrolls MMO. Go have a read, once you're done here. ;)

I compared the atmosphere and sense of place that Skyrim has with MMOs recently, but I too wouldn't want to see Bethseda make the next Elder Scrolls game as an MMO, they're too good at making single player games and we still need to have quality single player games. What I would like to see is some MMO developers be a bit more influenced by games like Skyrim and less by the long standing traditions of firmly rooted spawn camps merely existing to service questing and/or grinding. As really all we get in the vast majority of games are worlds that quickly start to feel sterile and lifeless with their soulless automaton mobs and overall static nature. I'd just like something that wee bit more alive. Which is considerably easier for me to type than for some poor sod to make reality of course, but there you go.
OK this screenie is not an example of anything except pretty, but meh, I like pretty.

One of the reasons I was quite enamored with RIFT was it almost did this, well, ok "almost" is a bit much... lets just say it at least it tried a little bit. The rifts added a nice random and chaotic element to things, but unfortunately that was still overlayed on the standard essentially static game world and actually the impact of the rifts was lacking at level 50. I know when SWTOR arrives it will also be the same and once the nice new glow from all those sabers wears off I'll probably notice the game staring at me with sinister dead eyes.
Lots of undead eyes in Skyrim.

Though as I've said many times before regarding SWTOR, I am looking forward to it, but thanks to my slightly jaded/tired (or perhaps experienced?) state I'm not super hyped or anything. It will be the same again and that's no bad thing, it just is what it is.

To be honest though whilst I'm a bit tired of the status quo, that doesn't mean developers should do much different to the WoW winning forumla. It still sells after all. Perhaps I'm just experiencing the symptoms of having played too many MMOs since Ultima. It's no coincidence that the true faction based RvR games (DAoC & WAR) were the ones that held my attention the longest, as I think that higher level and complexity of player interaction in those games distracts from how sterile I often find the PvE side of MMOs to be.

Ah well, bring on Planetside 2 :)

Monday, 21 November 2011

No WAR Boots?

A few folks have asked me now that I've quit WAR and not returned for a while, am I now done with blogging about it?

The answer is a mixed yes and no. I can only write stuff about WAR if there are things to talk about, but unfortunately right now there is nothing but negatives to say.  Despite the forts supposedly being imminent, there's no news, no talk of the future and barely any sign of Mythic. The forums have descended to an all time low and are now quite probably the most depressing MMO forums I have ever had the misfortune to read. And with no attempts at damage control from Mythic, well... I don't know if Bioware Mythic realise this, but for an outsider things with WAR look beyond terrible. It looks like WAR has been dropped for WoH, which at the blogger meeting where we were first shown WoH is exactly what I said to Carrie would be everyone's concern if they didn't play it right and give WAR players reasons to feel otherwise.

They didn't play it right. Far from it in fact and now WAR looks totally fucked. It might not be, they might have stuff up their sleeves, but it looks and is perceived as being totally FUBAR. This is not me as someone that's quit having a whinge, this is the reality of the hugely negative light WAR is now seen in by almost everyone.

To change that Bioware Mythic need to actually do something. Unfortunately for WAR I think they believe Wrath of Heroes is the answer to everything, however as anyone not too close to the two games can see, it really isn't.

Since I have no interest in WoH, that leaves me with precious little to talk about regarding WAR. :(

Friday, 18 November 2011

Mechwarrior Online, what we know so far

  • It's scheduled to release summer 2012
  • It's F2P with cashshop, etc.
  • The plan is to avoid Pay2win and make it Pay4Options (we'll see... but I have hope).
  • MWO is being made using the Crytek engine.
  • It is not an MMO and you do not play within a persistent world.
  • It will be instanced battles you take part in like the old MMO games, but with a bit more of a scenario/battleground twist.

  • It does have a persistent campaign system that your battles will influence.
  • There is a focus on "information war" and making lighter mechs very important.
  • Old Mechwarrior games had very open terrain, MWO will move away from this into much denser and tactically important terrain. Bye bye circle strafing.
  • Gameplay will be sticking as close as possible to the tabletop game and will be a shooter-simulator again.
  • It is primarily being designed to play from within the cockpit, though how to add external views without it being a dodgy advantage are being considered.
  • The cockpits will have working and useful instrumentation, scanners, etc that provider information beyond the neural UI link thingy.
  • The game is being set in the year 3049. In Battletech terms this is just before the Clan invasion and means the game will (initially at least) be focused on the Inner Sphere. However going forward the Clans and other major events will feature in a big way.

  • Players will be able to level their pilot and gain skills of some form (I suspect like the specialisations in Mech Commander).
  • Players will be able to form Mercenary Corps (guilds).
  • This is a PvP game but they are looking into adding some form of PvE too.
  • Piranha (the developers) are aiming for bi-weekly content patches. Yes you heard that right... New content every 2 weeks... I'll be amazed if that actually happens, but it's a positive thing for them to be aiming for.

There's a fair bit of other info out there too, but those are the key points for now.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Star Trek Online F2P launch date

Latest dev blog delivers the date of 17-JAN-2012. Interesting timing, being roughly a month after the SWTOR release. It could work quite well for those players that burn out fast with SWTOR and as F2P there's no downside to trying it out, though to be honest I just can't see it becoming a big player or even denting SWTOR's sub numbers. Too many folks wrote the game off already.

I'll definitely return and dabble with it. Despite it's many faults, I've always liked STO. It's a game with a nice atmosphere and the missions are fun, it just struggles to hold my sub long as I'm not huge into repeating PvE experiences over and over. As F2P though I'll gladly enjoy the freedom of playing it whenever I feel like a change.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A bit more Skyrimming

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you must have heard all about the release of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The internet is absolutely smothered with reviews, articles, posts and tweets about this hugely anticipated game and I’m sure you will have already seen the great acclaim it’s (deservedly) getting. So I’m not going to bother writing a proper review and will just ramble a little bit, as I feel I would be remiss in my duties were I not to at least say something about it.
It’s bloody brilliant. I’ve carefully removed my rose tinted spectacles about past games of legend and I’m steering clear of the immense stupidity of trying to be cool NME style with their “slag it off cos it’s popular” bollocks. As a result I think it is safe to say that this is the best RPG of all time, one of the best games of any format ever and is certainly the new benchmark in creating a truly organic feeling gameworld. Normally one could assume these would be bold fanboi style claims, yet this time round they’re really not. Skyrim is an exceptional game and one of the best I have ever played.
However, that does not mean everyone will like it. People that like games of little depth or just want constant mob spam gun waving action of BLLLAAARRGHHH!!! may well not get on with Skyrim. That’s not a criticism of their gameplay desires, but it should be recognised that Skyrim is a massive true RPG and as such takes time and effort to play. I’m absolutely loving it and have put almost all other gaming on hold (our KF Bloodbowl league is the only exception).
What I’ve found interesting from my MMO skewed view is just how much Skyrim highlights the abject failure of recent MMOs to create a living, breathing gameworld that aren’t just graphics with sterile feeling spawn points. When it comes to creating a world with an immersive atmosphere, where it actually feels that bit more alive, Skyrim has absolutely nailed it. Nailed it hard... HARD! With a huge bloody hammer wielded by a very angry Viking. It’s so good that despite the game having horse drawn coaches that can take you to towns you’ve not been to before, I’ve actually not used one once. I prefer walking and in fact I’ve not even rode a horse yet. Seriously, I have walked for bloody miles and it was fun. Walking… fun? Unusual I know, but it’s actually enjoyable just travelling through Skyrim’s vast landscape. And there’s a damned good chance that you’ll be having a bit of adventure on the way.
I don’t think there’s any one thing that I could say is the reason the world feels so much more real, it’s more a combination of many factors; the dynamic weather, the way mobs interact with each other, the scale of everything, the way the land has been hand crafted, etc. In theory you could take all of the things that make Skyrim’s world feel so alive and put it into an MMO, but you’d immediately hit big problems when Gandullf and NoobRaper turn up spamming /dance macros and farming mobs faster than they can respawn. To be honest it’s probably unfair to compare a single player game with a multiplayer one, they have very different problems to deal with and I imagine the developers have different goals, but as a player that doesn’t really matter, it’s not my problem. As RPG gaming experiences they are comparable and that difference in immersion and quality stands out like a sore thumb.
Skyrim is easily my game of the year; in just a few days I’ve had more “O M G that looks amaaaaaaaaaaazing” moments and unscripted scenes of epic drama than I have in months of other games. I’m already considering how I’ll replay it totally differently (sneaky murdering rogue style next!) when I’ve finished the game, which judging by the size of the thing I imagine will be sometime in 2013…

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Like most people

I am busy Skyrimming.

If you're not, you should be.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Planetside 2 videos

Latest is this one showing off some New Conglomerate designs.

Then there's also a vid for the Terran Republic. I'm liking the look of that heavy assault armour.

Should be a vid for the Vanu Sovereignty soon I guess.

ALERT! Steam hacked

Here's the info:

"Dear Steam Users and Steam Forum Users,

Our Steam forums were defaced on the evening of Sunday, November 6. We began investigating and found that the intrusion goes beyond the Steam forums.

We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums. This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating.

We don’t have evidence of credit card misuse at this time. Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely.

While we only know of a few forum accounts that have been compromised, all forum users will be required to change their passwords the next time they login. If you have used your Steam forum password on other accounts you should change those passwords as well.

We do not know of any compromised Steam accounts, so we are not planning to force a change of Steam account passwords (which are separate from forum passwords). However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change that as well, especially if it is the same as your Steam forum account password.

We will reopen the forums as soon as we can.

I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

NO need to panic, but definately change your passwords and keep an eye on your credit card statements.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

My 2012 online gaming schedule

For me 2012 starts with Star Wars: The Old Republic. I think I’ll be playing that for probably 3 months, which will be enough time to get max level, clear the majority of end game content & storylines (aside from raids which I officially CBA with) and have provided ample opportunity to become bored with its generic instanced PvP and what I presume will be lame arsed gank-wank open-world PvP. If I stick with it longer depends almost entirely on how the open-world PvP turns out. As you can tell, I’m expecting very little, but if it’s good then this could dramatically extend the lifespan of SWTOR for me. I find that possibility extremely unlikely.

After SWTOR I’ll be at a loose end for a few months and most likely this will be when I catch up on my previous games. A month in Star Trek Online is definitely on the cards, as is a brief visit to RIFT and then I expect it will be either DAoC or WAR. However if WAR does actually have some new content or sees some of the changes I’ve always wanted (larger RvR lakes, real new classes, etc), then I will return to WAR for a more significant visit. If WAR ever gets serious development again then I would be back straight away, unfortunately with its skeleton crew that looks extremely unlikely. Such a waste, shame on you Bioware, shame on you.

Summer time arrives and it’s Mechwarrior Online, for the rest of the year… If the game lives up to even half of my expectation levels then I could well be playing this extremely long term. Which means playing it alongside whatever else I’m looking at and since I’ve often said how I get bored quickly of instanced PvP, well, that should give you some indication of how highly I rate Mechwarrior games. That said, I am assuming it’s going to be instanced match making stuff from what’s been said so far, which really is the only way I can see it working without going for something extremely bold that I just can’t see any company having the balls to do. So it sounds like it’s going to be instanced PvP within a persistent world campaign system. If it means I get a decent mechwarrior game then that’s more than fine with me.

As for the rest of the year, I'll no doubt be sticking with MWO, but there are a couple of other games that will also see some Bootae action, but I don’t yet know when they’re due. Planetside 2 fits in here somewhere and has the potential to have a major impact on my and Kill Frenzy’s long term gaming plans. Then there’s Dust 514, which as a PS3 game will have limited impact for me in some ways, but as a potentially landmark title in a MASSIVE way it’s something I simply have to be involved with.

That’s it for me until Dark Millenium Online in 2013. I am of course aware that my damned curiosity may lure me into trying out Secret World and Guild Wars 2, but I have no current desire to play either. Plus with that lot mentioned above, single player games and limited gaming time, I’m not convinced I’ll be able to get much more in.

How’s your schedule looking?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A classic bit of Mech to tickle your memory

Classic MW4 into :)

And here's the trailer from a while back for the game that has turned into Mechwarrior Online

It's all just Everquest with extra sprinkles

I’ve heard a few folks recently talking about the end of traditional MMORPGs, sometimes with some fairly dramatic terms used describing the death of the genre and the imminent demise of its Warcraft overlord. There’s probably quite a bit of overstatement going on there, well actually there’s no probably about it, MMORPGs are not going to die out anytime soon, but I think it would be more than fair to say that the genre has stagnated in quite a big way. The current lack of imagination (effectively game development by numbers) means that all the games coming out are still just Everquest with sprinkles on top. They might look different, be available in a range of flavours and some might even have a flake chocolate bar stuck on top, but essentially they’re all just bloody ice-cream again and again and again.
The only goal is to upgrade your equipment. Sure, you could perhaps claim it’s the achievements of beating bosses and dungeons, but if that was true then having beaten the boss once you wouldn’t repeat it over and over, after all people don’t often play through single player games more than once. Players are only repeating dungeons whilst they need upgrades from them, it’s not like these dungeons are better than single player experiences and the most fun thing ever... So like it or not, the whole point of the game is that upgrading of equipment. To do this you will collect 10 missing socks, kill 10 rats, go up levels, farm the basic dungeons, get raid ready, start raiding and then raid, raid, raid until all upgrades are done. By which time an expansion arrives to raise the equipment bar and you’ll repeat the process.
That in itself is fine, we’ve had a good time over the last 14 years of MMORPG gaming and I’m not saying that the concept of the games has been flawed or anything. It’s just that I’m now seeing many veteran gamers burning out on games far earlier than before. Once you’ve seen all the new scenery, mastered playing your choice of class and done a good chunk of the instanced dungeon experience, things start to get a bit meh a whole lot faster. Can you really be bothered to go through the hours of grinding raid content to get to the final event? A final event that is only a temporary finale anyway, since an expansion will arrive and cancel out all your past effort. And you’ve done all of this before in EQ, WoW, AoC, Aion, EQ2, RIFT, etc, etc. Better surely to move on to the next game and go through the process with new scenery and things to learn, then move on to yet another game once this one gets dull.
We used to stay loyally subbed to one MMORPG for years, but now I feel that this stagnation is nudging us more towards being game world tourists. The theme-park moniker for games like WoW, RIFT, etc has become all to true. They are turning into somewhere we go on holiday to, have a great time, but then we leave and go somewhere else. I’m expecting SWTOR and GW2 to have roughly a 3-6 month lifespan for most people, after which people will start to succumb to that nagging sensation of déjà vue. We’ve been here before… it’s all the same… disappointment kicks in and back to Warcraft (most people’s first MMO) they go. I think this is one of the major reasons so many people end up going back to the comfortable familiarity of WoW, it’s not because of some incredible difference in quality, it’s simply because people move on expecting new stuff, but the new games are not actually new. They’re just WoW reskinned, or Everquest with extra sprinkles.
So you’ve got the WoW hooked people only dipping into other games for a holiday and then returning disappointedly to WoW, or you’ve got us veteran types totally bored of WoW that just move from game to game looking for Eldorado, but ultimately we’re  just stuck in a never ending coach tour of virtual worlds.
Of course when it comes to the amount of time subbed to a game there are exceptions for everyone, when a game has an IP that is special to us for example, but there are no games coming that we’ll ALL be playing long term because of the “game” itself. Folks can talk about WoW beaters all they like, but I just can’t see anything reaching and most importantly maintaining those kind of sub levels until something offers genuinely different motivations to play. Right now, no matter how people try and hype up SWTOR, GW2, etc, there is nothing on the horizon that isn’t just bloody Everquest again.
Note I’m talking about MMORPGs, not MMOs or arena games, as those are a whole other kettle of fish :D

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Oh hellllllllloooooooo! Mechwarrior Online

I've just been provided with a massive e-boner from a tweet by  who spotted this baby.

I am a huge fan of the Mechwarrior games, particularly Mechwarrior 4 and I've spent many, maaaany hours pew pewing lasers in it's multiplayer awesome. Seriously, it's one of my joint all time fave online PvP games (alongside XwA, UO and DAoC). I can't wait to have a go on it.

Official site here:
PC Gamer article about it here.

Happy Bootae is happy.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Saw this Chaos Terminator at London Comic Con today

I think he was meant to be Horus, it doesn't quite show up on the photo I took but the red lights didn't quite glow like eyes when you saw them in the flesh, instead they lit his face up from the side just like some of the paintings of Horus. Also he had the eye and all that on the shoulders :)

Also this doesn't quite demonstrate how big the costume was, you could see this bugger from miles away as he stomped about :D

Friday, 28 October 2011

Wrath of Heroes - NDA gone, so some words

OK here's my take on Wrath of Heroes...

It's exactly as Mythic said: fast, furious and fun. But what they didn't say is it's not aimed at a gamer like me or probably you if you're reading my blog. It's a shallow game that requires no real thought or planning, as there is no real depth or character development in WoH, it's just a drop straight in and play thing with barely anything else to care about. That's not necessarily a bad thing, many folks will see that as a huge benefit, but for me after the initial new toys phase wore off it became a little dull as an overall experience and I have no motivation to log back in. Which meant I just couldn't be arsed with the last few beta events, so I've not tried out the latest heroes and maps added and as such can't pass judgement on those fine details and the current state of balance between the heroes.

The core game itself is just instanced scenarios, which according to Bioware Mythic are "the best bit of WAR", which is obviously complete bollocks as WAR's scenarios are nothing but the standard instanced stuff from PvE MMOs with bolted on PvP. Wrath of Heroes has no relation to WAR's real character and defining feature; open world RvR. So a better statement would be "we took the best bit of WoW".

Harsh? Maybe. True? Definitely.

They have however made the excellent improvement of having 3 teams and that does make for much more dynamic and interesting gameplay, particularly when in a match with multiple premade groups. Apparently this was learnt from DAoC, though really we know this was learnt from WAR and almost everyone that played it over the last few years saying why the hell did you not learn from DAoC? :P

However Warhammer lore fans should note that it is 3 teams and NOT 3 factions, so you will get Chaos, Orcs, Elves and Dwarves all on the same team. A bit shite, but really I don't think they had much choice, as restricting it into proper factions would make it harder to balance and would present problems for a game that requires 3 equalled numbered teams for it to function. Whilst ORvR campaigns work very well with 3 factions of varying population, alas instanced PvP is not very flexible in that regard. So gameplay wins over style, theme and atmosphere. If that's a good or bad thing is totally down to individual preference.

Visually the game looks better than some screenshots suggest and it runs extremely well, though I do think some of the characters are a bit dull and they look like the most basic of their WAR equivalents. That is possibly contributing to the excellent performance, which was impressive and if so is certainly justified.

The heroes only have 5 abilities, which does make gameplay rather shallow, but I think the key here is it's 5 per character and with so many characters to play you can mix it up to keep things fresh. I personally enjoyed playing the Skaven Gutter Runner the most, closely followed by the Black Orc and Marauder.

So we have a fun game, that runs very well, but is just not  ticking my boxes. I quite liked it, I just don't care about it. It is NOT an MMO in any way or form and I like MMOs, arena games leave me a little cold. WoH is an ok game and will do reasonably well, but it is not good enough to stop me being disappointed, disenchanted and irritated by the whole situation with this and WAR. If as suggested it will benefit WAR, with more than just jpegs on Facebook teasing people, then I wish it well.

The problem is I just don't believe it will. Mainly because the timing is all off, with 2012 being all about SWTOR, GW2 and even WoW's panda bear bollocks. WoH doesn't compete with those games, but WAR does and I simply can not see how it will find a time slot, let alone the content required, to force itself back in to people's gaming schedules. Unless of course something really drastic happens and unfortunately that is extremely unlikely.

Which I shall say again just doesn't matter for WoH, it's going for a whole other audience and I'm not included.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The MMO I most look forward to is... (fairly obvious)

There's not a huge amount coming out in MMO land to excite me over the next year. SWTOR I'm keen on, but not hyped for as such, Guild War 2 (as people are probably tired of hearing me say) I don't care about, Secret World I have low expectations for, WoW and it's expansion are sooooooo 3 years ago, Prime BFD is a gamble and other than that, it's only Planetside 2 I've got real hopes for.

2013 however is a different kettle of fish entirely. Dark Millennium Online is the game I'm expecting to be my next true MMO obsession. Regardless of anything to do with the whole MMO bit and the many concerns I have about how this will work out, it has 3 massive selling points for me:

  1. It's Warhammer.
  2. It's made by people that know how to translate Warhammer into excellent computer games.
  3. Its set in the 40k universe, which is my favourite setting of all Gameworkshop's gaming pantheon of awesome.

Nothing else matters.

Yeah I know, supposedly they're making the same stupid mistake as Mythic did with WAR and only going with 2 factions (so by default world PvP will suck), but whilst I'm able to be pretty objective, critical and overly picky with most games, I'm more than willing to ignore that epic cock up just for the chance to run around shouting DEATH TO THE FALSE EMPEROR! or PURGE THE HERETIC! and not look like a total fruit loop.

A whole sodding year away... Damn it.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

RIFT return

I'm not entirely sure why I reactivated my RIFT account. All the things that disappointed me about the game are still there (Rifts not being as dynamic as I hoped at 50 and being very much a standard themepark MMO) and I'm still not interested in raiding. For the record I used to be a big raider, but raiding for me is just no longer lifestyle friendly. Not meaning to sneer, but it's for kids and those without regular interruptions in real life and my going AFK every 30mins would just annoy everyone and make for a shite experience all round.

The PvP is ok, standard scenario/warfront/battleground fare and typically lame gank wank out in the zones. I must say the PvP was horrible until I had a full set of the Prestige rank 2 armour, after which it got a lot less painful. It's still far too gear orientated, but it's not as bad as something like WoW in that respect. Or how WAR was directly after 1.4 with it's RR90+ auto-win feature (admittedly that is way better now).

The single/duo player chronicle raid dungeons are pretty cool. I'm only in basic tier 1-2 gear so soloing them takes a bit of effort, but was quite an entertaining challenge. Which I've now done, so not hugely fussed about repeating it, though I'm not yet totally turned off the idea. It's a good feature as it lets me see content I wouldn't normally get to look at without raiding 4 nights a week. Sure, the rewards are decidedly meh, but then that seems only fair all things considered.

It's all quite average really and normally I would regret reactivating, however in this case I don't. I'm enjoying messing around with different soul combinations and visually RIFT remains as sweet as ever, so for this month at least it's providing a little extra entertainment. After that, who knows?

I'd still happily recommend RIFT to people. Of course it's very much a PvE game with PvP bolted on, but it's very very good at what it does. And to be fair, there's not much on the horizon that offers anything different.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Love you to much to leave, don't like you enough to stay

Over the weekend I was chatting to some guildies in RIFT (yeah I’ve reactivated for a little bit, more on that another time) about all the different MMORPGs we’d played. After listing what I could remember of my ridiculous list of games played (more a badge of shame than honour…), one of them asked me; “What made you leave all those games?”

I gave a fairly brief answer, something about getting bored, but really it’s a pretty good question and deserves a tad more thought for a better answer. So after a little pondering, I think there are probably 3 main reasons; boredom, disappointment and distractions.

Almost everyone gets bored of a game eventually. Even with those games you really fall for and bury yourself in for years, eventually they all just wear a bit thin. This was the main reason I quit WoW, sure there’s lots of other things about WoW that I wasn’t so keen on, but the main thing was simply being bored of raiding, dailies and the entire game-world. Boredom was also a big contributor to my quitting WAR, mixed in with a reasonable chunk of disappointment. However, let’s not forget that some games are just plain boring by design, oh hello Lineage you horrible pile of wank.

Disappointment is, by a country mile, the most common reason for quitting games. Over the years there have been sooooooooo many promises by so many MMOs (and their player community hype lords) and nearly all of them simply don’t deliver or have fundamental flaws that ruin the whole experience. Or they’re just buggy piles of shit. For example: Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and Neocron. There are also those games that have enough good stuff to stick with for months or even years, but then mistakes are made and the developers ruin the game or for whatever reason it just starts moving in the wrong direction. Star Wars Galaxies, WAR and Ultima Online being the prime examples of that situation.

Then there’s the constant itch, the distraction of other games be they new or that one you’ve been meaning to try out for ages. Of course most of them will lead to disappointment, but hey for now LOOK AT THAT GREENER GRASS!!! For me this is rarely the only reason for quitting a game, but it is often a contributing factor. The first time I quit WAR probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for RIFT and its beautifully slick beta.

Actually there is a 4th reason for dropping a game. Sometimes real life stuff just makes online gaming unfeasible, which was the main reason I quit DAoC, but that’s a bit more of a random unpredictable thing.

So if I was to list a few of the well known big players from my MMO past and why I quit them, it would look something like this:

Ultima Online: disappointment, distractions
Asheron’s Call: disappointment
Everquest: disappointment, boredom
Lineage: disappointment, boredom and more boredom
Anarchy Online: disappointment
City of Heroes: boredom
Aion: disappointment, boredom (and I got the game free…)
Planetside: distractions
Neocron: disappointment
Champions Online: boredom
Lord of the Rings Online: disappointment
Star Trek Online: disappointment, boredom
EVE: distractions, disappointment, real life
RIFT: disappointment
Dark Age of Camelot: real life…
World of Warcraft: boredom
WAR: boredom, disappointment

That’s why I’ve quit games anyway.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The greatest speech ever made: Gamer edition

I can't remember who linked me this earlier, sorry, but good job whoever it was.

I should of course mention the big WoW news and Diablo deal

Personally I don't really care about it, I got tired of WoW a long time ago and even though I've sampled each expansion since and kind of hoped they would spark the magic back, I've always got bored within 48 hours and regretted the purchase. So I expect to skip this latest one, though I know my daughter will want to play the panda bears and will hassle me to get it. She's 9 years old, which is clearly the market they're going for with the panda bears and Pokemon pets nonsense.

As ever with a Blizzard product, I'm expecting it to be extremely well made and hugely popular... which is not exactly a shock statement.

Oh and apparently there's something about Diablo 3 being free if you buy a 12 month subscription to World of Warcraft. Not sure if that's worth anybody considering or not because of my own bias against both games. As previously stated I'm long tired of WoW, but (and I know this is contentious) I consider Diablo to be one of the most overrated games of all time. I think because I played a lot of Gauntlet in around 1985 and other than the loot whoring and modern visuals, I don't really see the difference. If you look at some of the early previews of Diablo 3 strategy its pretty simple and doesn't seem to be much different than the previous editions. I remember people banging on and on about Diablo 1 and 2, but both times when I tried them I was like "er... is that it?"

A bit like Starcraft really, I think that's so hugely overrated it's bloody ridiculous. Solid, polished and it plays well sure, but it's no more than a distinctly average RTS with nothing special whatsoever, other than it's own hype that everyone laps up.

Blizzard are the absolute masters of repackaging other people's games and somehow blagging everyone to think it's God's gift to gaming. I have to say fair play to them really, they really know how to pull everyone's strings. They're like Kaiser Sose's more reputable and less evil twin, but for games... Uhm... yeah...

Anyway, no shock at all they've announced this just as the SWTOR marketing machine starts ramping up towards launch. Not sure if a release date has been mentioned for WoW MoP, but I would guess at February for the biggest Blizzard style fuck-SWTOR-right-up-the-arse factor.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The 2nd coming of MMORPG it is not

I posted this on the KF forums and actually figured as everyone is stating the obvious about SWTOR, I would do some more of it and post it here too:

OK just a little post about SWTOR as I think we need to be careful people don’t expect the 2nd coming of MMO Baby Jesus. Many of us are looking forward to playing SWTOR, I know I am, but it’s important with this one to not set your hopes to high, as it will just lead to frustration and rage quitting. Do not get on board the hype train.

Key points about SWTOR:

  • It is a PvE game with PvP bolted on, just like WoW, RIFT, etc.
  • The PvP is almost completely standard EQ/WoW clone fare.
  • It does have contested planets on PvP servers, but this is misleading as they are not RvR lakes, they are just PvE zones with PvP flags on and a few extra PvP objectives, they are not the focus of the game.
  • If you plan on playing SWTOR primarily for PvP then you will quit shortly after hitting max level, if not before.
  • It is a standard gear progression based game again like WoW, RIFT, etc, so Gear > everything.
  • As such it is NOT a replacement for proper PvP centric games like WAR, DAoC or EVE.
  • The PvE is more story driven and the quest lines are considerably better done than normal, but it is still just: Collect that and kill 10 of those.
  • There is absolutely nothing revolutionary about SWTOR, unless you count everything having voice-overs, which you shouldn’t.

What it does have going for it is:

  • It is extremely well made and polished.
  • It will be a standard, but fun to play PvE game.
  • Bioware are investing heavily in supporting the game and further development after launch.
  • Supposedly it will run on a Sinclair Spectrum 48k.
  • Star Wars.
  • Lightsabers.
  • Droids.
  • Force Choke.
  • Twi’lek sluts.

Keep that in mind and you’ll enjoy it, but get too wrapped up in OMFG!!11 ITS AMAZING!!!111!! and you’re in for a brief burst of “ooh shiney” followed by “mehhhhh” /unsub.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Gaming press reveal SWTOR beta experience, TLDR no shit Sherlock

Various websites, the usual gaming ones, did their big reveal on experiences from an early beta test of republic characters in SWTOR. I would link them, but frankly I can't be arsed because nobody had anything interesting to say and it was all a bit sodding obvious. In summary:

  • It's very well made.
  • It has lots of story stuff which if you like that is cool,but if you don't it isn't.
  • Aside from the story stuff it doesn't really do anything different to the standard EQ-WoW MMORPG template.
  • It has companion characters that are more than just pets.
  • It has crafting that your companions do for you.
  • If you are expecting something revolutionary and different you will be disappointed
  • If you only expect a well made but fairly standard MMORPG then you might like it.

None of this will be news if you've even vaguely followed SWTOR's development.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The thing with people is they'll buy bloody anything

For example the latest fitness regime of awesome...


Surely this is a windup, people can't be that dumbtarded... can they? Christ on a bike I really hope this is true, like reaaaaaaaaaally hope.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Punching Ewoks in the prostate and an idea from WAR

OK so here’s a conundrum… I like playing on PvP servers in faction based MMO games. PvE servers annoy the turd outta me and I much prefer the tension a full PvP server provides, but I also loathe the retarded sub-humans from the “pwned u gay!!111 cult of twats that infest every PvP server. You know the ones, those mouthy pricks that bring 5 mates to gank lowbie soloers, but then get all shitty when we respond to help and wipe the floor with them since they can’t cope with even odds. Particularly rude and shitty it seems, if you retaliate by following them across the server and farming them in total silence non-stop for 2 hours as we used to do when helping people in RIFT. :D Anyway, it’s a medical fact that they’re all prize wankers in real life, every single one. They should all be dumped on Pitcairn Island and crossbred with syphilitic goats.
Now, because I tend to level quite fast and play with mates it’s not actually a big problem for me personally, but over the years of gaming I have regularly had to go help lower level people who’re getting shafted. I’ve known many good friends that for whatever reason level slower than most of us and because of that they end up being constantly ganked by high levels in lowbie zones. This has led to decent people quitting games because they just can’t be arsed with the hassle. So the whole thing does just irritate me, it’s a shitty situation created by lazy development when it comes to combining PvP with the levelling process. Plus, I don’t spend my time with Jeremy Kyle reject chav scum in real life and I’d rather  not share my virtual oxygen with the internet equivalent either.
So you might think I would be better off on those rare beasts; the PvP/RP server, with theoretically a more stylish and classy atmosphere. Alas no. At the same time whilst I’ve got nothing against roleplayers, I can’t really be arsed with it and my characters will often have stupid names, so a PvP/RP server isn’t really an option. Plus I gather those servers generally are no better.
Where then should I play?
I honestly don’t know anymore. Of course I could do PvE, but seriously, PvE servers infuriate me. The moment I see a member of the opposing faction farming mobs next to me, but I don’t have the option of attacking them, pfffft, all immersion and atmosphere is killed instantly. I don’t necessarily want to always attack them, but I least what us to both have the option of doing so. Imagine playing SWTOR… you’re there with your big bad super evil Sith Warrior punching Ewoks in the prostate and generally being evil, but then you’re only able to watch as Loke Skyyywalker merrily kills Imperial soldiers right next to you and then skips off singing about unicorns and flowers. For me that situation would make the game feel very sterile. I don’t particularly want to be role-playing and so on, but I do want a bit of the sensation that puts the RPG in MMORPG.
And this is where I think WAR got it very, very right, yet a little bit wrong. WAR’s tier system splits the game-world into 4 level bandings. I’ve gone blank on what it is since it got updated but it’s roughly 1-12, 13-27, 28-39 and then 40, albeit with a little cross over between bandings where you can access both tiers. Now, if you enter a PvP flagged area of a zone that your character is too high for… BWOCK! The game turns you into a chicken, with all the power and survivability a chicken has. This is brilliant in that it allows players to do their XP thing without max level players turning up en mass to gank the poor lowbies, yet still allows for that tension and combat between people of relevant levels. So yes you can of course still be ganked by people within your level banding, but that’s fine, the only advantage they might have is numbers and that is something you can sort out just by grouping or calling for help. It stops a few pricks driving people away from the server and allows for a more competitive and fair PvP environment. It also allows for meaningful XP gain from PvP.
Where WAR got it wrong with the tiers is quite a big subject, but the main ones are that it was too restrictive on the overall content available at higher levels and it also meant at times certain tiers would be very quiet if the latest wave of players had moved past it, which in a population reliant game like WAR, that’s a problem. Yet regardless of those issues, the actual core concept of putting bandings onto zones to ensure fairer PvP is sound. It’s just the application of that concept that needs work, which I think is quite simple really…
Have the game’s zones split into bandings and if a player enters a zone they are too high for the game automatically scales their level and stats down to match the relevant level banding. Use preset stat levels for each class that are just under what would be the maximum amounts attainable for someone properly within that banding (a slight disadvantage to account for their wider range of abilities). Gear, etc would be irrelevant for a high level player in lower zones, so that if they want to go play with the lowbies then they can and the game automatically levels the playing field.
I think this adaption the Tier system from WAR could make for a much better PvP experience throughout the levelling experience and could reap further benefits at max level by extending the value and lifetime of earlier content. Sure, it won’t stop twats being twats, some folks will never take a fight on if the odds are even vaguely fair, but it would at least give people a bit more of a fighting chance. Which as these are games and meant to be fun, surely that’s no bad thing?
PS: This in could also benefit the PvE content in those zones as if done correctly it would stay relevant and not be something high levels just blast people through. Dungeons for example could actually be kept worthwhile through token rewards that scale to your natural level, giving them relevance no matter your level and who you choose to group with. As well as not having to gimp lowbies XP when grouping with their high level mates.
What do you reckon?

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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.