Thursday, 20 December 2012

Planetside 2 performance improvements

Just a very quick update... Only game I play these days is Planetside 2. It's still awesome and getting better. Of particular note, SOE have made huge improvements for performance.

My PC is very basic by modern standards:

Q6600 processor
6gb RAM
Nvidia GTX260 graphics card
Windows 7 (64)

Back in beta I had horrible performance until I upgraded to windows 7, after which it was good, but I was having to run on low settings. Thanks to regular patches and good work from SOE (shocking I know...), I am now playing on medium settings and the game is running fine and looks rather pretty :) Happy Boots is happy.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Player made awesome Planetside 2 video

This is great :)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Planetside 2 - gameplay experience

TLDR version - It's very good and much more interesting than the other uninspiring game you are probably playing.

If you’ve seen any of my related tweets then you’ll already know that I’m a fan and have been more than a little impressed by Planetside 2. It has been spectacularly good fun, though that’s not to say it will suit everyone. This is an MMOFPS, not so much an MMORPG (though that can be debated) and there is no PvE at all. Like traditional online FPS games, Planetside 2 is decent when playing solo, but comes alive when played in a group. However thanks to Planetside 2’s campaign system, 3 factions and huge scale, when coordinating with the players on your faction the game comes alive in a monstrously awesome way.. Being a PvP based MMO, that may have seemed like a rather obvious thing to say, but the reality of MMOs is not everyone plays with other people and some folks do treat these games like a single player one with a chat room. With Planetside 2 if you were to dip in to it purely from a solo perspective, then it’s likely to feel a bit harsh, certainly chaotic and much of the awesome is likely to be missed. The ebb and flow of Planetside 2’s campaign and any strategy or tactics being employed will be invisible if people just hit instant action, look for red names to shoot, don’t get involved and never actually work with their allies.

However, the first time you join up with other players for a defence or a coordinated attack on an enemy held facility… Oh my. It’s spectacular and one of my all time favourite PvP MMO experiences. I’ll talk about the campaign, classes, combat, etc another time, because for now I wanted to give you an example of what it actually feels like to play Planetside 2 when you properly take part in groups and cooperate with your allied players. What follows is a (badly written) retelling of a rumble we started not so long ago.  

Logging in with my Vanu character, I spawned at the main Vanu warpgate and joined a group of players who were setting up with a Galaxy transport (large troop carrying VTOL aircraft) to attack a Terran held base (I forget which, sorry). The gunner positions were already taken and as such I would be a passenger for this trip, but from the chat it seemed like we had an organised bunch of chaps running the show, so I was hopeful for some fun. Shortly after, the Galaxy was fully loaded and we set off. It’s VTOL engines roaring to life as the Galaxy lurched upwards, made a smooth banking turn and accelerated in the direction of our target enemy facility. Looking around outside I noticed a couple of Scythe interceptors sweep in to formation alongside us, apparently providing a prearranged escort… Needless to say, this looked proper classy. I equipped my Pimp Hat of Atmospheric Awesomness+2.  

It was a tense yet fairly uneventful journey, our gunners and escorts only had to deal with one or two enemy aircraft and within a few minutes our target was in sight.  As we reached the enemy territory things started to get a bit trickier. The Galaxy was taking damage, mainly from AA below us. For a moment it was looking pretty damn dodgy and I was worried I’d be a helpless passenger plummeting to a fiery death in a blazing Galaxy. Thankfully the fighter escorts managed to draw enough attention to allow our pilot to make it down and land safely on the edge of the enemy base. It was a pretty defensible position he’d nabbed, there was practically no way enemy vehicles could get to us and there was a mountain to our rear providing some natural cover from being flanked. We all disembarked and started moving in to clear the enemy buildings. Meanwhile the Galaxy was deployed as a spawn point to give us a forward base for changing equipment and for our (inevitable) casualties to respawn . The Terrans were actively defending and we had a proper infantry battle on our hands, gunfire coming from defenders in multiple directions. There was much  pewing, THWAPOWS! and so on. Initially we pushed the Terrans back a decent way from the Galaxy and for a few moments it looked like it might be over quick, but this was one rapidly escalating engagement. Not only did more and more Vanu spawn at the Galaxy, but absolutely shit loads of Terrans arrived to defend their facility.  

It went bat shit crazy. There were lines of Vanu all over the place firing up at the Terrans who were in turn lined along the building’s roofs and windows returning fire. It was a charnel house of pixel death and it went on for ages with both sides going back and forth, gaining and losing ground. I don’t know the numbers, but this was a seriously large scrap and in bloody close quarters. And it just kept getting bigger. Other Galaxies came swooping down and deployed troops into the fight, a couple of them also squeezed in to deploy as spawns. The Terran numbers kept increasing and I was cackling with glee as it got more and more insane. It’s hard to explain quite how awesome that fight was. There was just so much atmosphere to it. Using the localised voice chat you’d hear players calling for medics or ammo, shouting warnings, calling for fire to be put down on this or that building, yelling about being flanked and so on. The air was full of tracer fire and explosions, and everything was… loud.  

And then it went a whole other level of big bada boom. As night started to fall the Terrans decided enough was enough and a whole bloody squadron of Liberators (each a 3 crew bomber) was sent in to clear us out. We discovered this the hard way from; “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” Explosions everywhere… lots of dead Vanu. Ouch. The Terran infantry pushed forward, our Galaxy spawns got destroyed and suddenly our attack was decimated. I respawned at an outpost we’d captured nearby and ran back with my team, but then as we crested a hillside overlooking the Terran facility we skidded to a halt, stood still and watched, genuinely open-mouthed. Someone in chat summed it up with 4 letters. OMFG. All the Liberators (numbers = lots…) were hovering over the facility and spam bombing everything to buggery. Spam bombing… at night time for extra dramatic lighting effects, resulting in a fireworks display I’ve not seen the likes of since Apocalypse Now. It was incredible to watch and a classic gaming memory.  

But it didn’t end there. The Vanu weren’t going to take this shit, oh no. The infamous Vanu Magrider Army (and friends) turned up. The Magrider is the Vanu’s main battle tank, it has 2 crew and looks very much like the 40k Eldar Falcon grav tank. I can’t speak for other servers, but on mine you’ll often see the Vanu using them in seriously large numbers. Double figures of Magriders, supported by Lightning tanks and Sunderer transports, all streaming towards the Terrans. Which would have been easy prey for the Liberators if it wasn’t for the Scythe interceptors streaking across the sky to attack the slow, clumsy Liberator bombers. Planes were falling out of the sky, tanks were laying the smack down, infantry were running between it all and shit was blowing up everywhere.  

And then the New Conglomerate arrived, in heavy tanks and Sunderer troop transports. Lots of them. As Harold Bishop would say “ah…”. So we now had a complicated and bloody massive 3 way fight. Drama! What had started with one galaxy full of 12 infantry had escalated into a massive battle with seemingly hundreds of players and the group I had joined at random was the spark that had started it all. It was a little mind blowing really, as much as pixels can be anyway.  

Of course this doesn’t happen all the time nonstop and there are most certainly moments where things get a little bitty as you’re in-between more purposeful engagements, but something like the above happens most nights when I’ve played for more than a few minutes. And you don’t even have to be in one of the big raid type platoons, you just need to get involved and pay attention to what’s going on. My friend Veno and I are often grouped just the two of us crewing  a Magrider, but we still end up part of the Magrider Army and inevitably get drawn into all sorts of other situations. There’s already been so many epic tales to tell and it’s merely beta. Also it must be recognised that these kind of events can happen in any PvP orientated game, I could tell similar tales from WAR, DAoC or the old days in Ultima, but the difference with Planetside is how incredibly fluid it all is, how regular these fights are, the scale of it all, the intense visual and audio drama and how smooth the performance is throughout. My FPS stayed at around the 20-30 mark throughout all of this, even on my rather basic PC. No sign of a fortress defence Powerpoint presentation here… To be honest, how well this game performs with VAST  numbers of players and total bloody carnage should embarrass pretty much every other MMO developer, unless it’s due to melee or something beyond my ken, they are all doing it wrong.  

Another specific point I wanted to mention that adds to all of this is the bases themselves. They are huge, complex, involving and most importantly; relevant. The objectives you have to capture (or in some cases optionally destroy) are spread around the base and in certain rooms or areas, but there’s none of the typical MMO nonsense where most other buildings are just a box with a texture wrapped round it, instead these are buildings you will be fighting in, under and on top off. Everything and everywhere is a potential route to take, defend or hide in. This makes them much more atmospheric and entertaining to battle over. The only downside is there’s no destructible terrain, but then that would probably present too many issues in a game like this and for once I don’t mind.  

So as a PvP experience, right now I would say Planetside 2 is right up there with the best. I honestly can’t fault it without being unreasonable and overly picky. That’s not to say there aren’t things I will criticise, as there are, but they’re not enough to detract from the game as an unrivalled dynamic PvP experience. OK except maybe EVE, but they’re doing such totally different things that I just don’t think you can compare the two. ;)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Hillsborough and why you should care

This is mainly for those in the UK, but really it's something anyone should consider.

It doesn't matter if you're interested or not in football, Liverpool Football Club or even politics. If you've any brain cells at all then you should still be interested in Hillsborough and the events of today. This was the government finally admitting that they, along with the police and media, lied, cheated and doctored evidence to blame innocent people (and their dead kids!) to cover up their own failures. 

Most conspiracy theories are a load of bollocks that manipulative people use to sell books and bullshit, but as today proves, sometimes conspiracies are real. Sometimes the people we put into power lie in the most horrible ways. If their job or political ambitions are at risk then regardless of the truth, they will lie and tell grieving parents that a horrific tradgedy was their dead children's own fault. And then they will refuse them compensation or help, all whilst watching their own police officers get a truck load of cash.

If that doesn't bother you, if you don't care, then you have serious moral issues.

For those that don't know what this is all about, please read this article.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Planetside 2 NDA lifted... Post 1 - Performance

OK so as the title says, Planetside 2's NDA is no more and I can now talk about the game. I'll be making a few posts about Planetside 2, but this first one is about client performance.

When I first started playing PS2 I had big concerns. The game itself seemed spot on, but it ran like shit for me and would quite often become unplayable slideshow style. Sometimes I'd be just about able to take part in small infantry fights with FPS of about 10 and very laggy player movement, but soon as the battles got more than small it just became horrible beyond words. Also it was completely impossible to fly any aircraft at all, suffering from a bad case of Powerpoint presentation. Now since I can run pretty much anything else on at least medium graphics, don't have performance issues and I can't afford to upgrade... this was a worry. So I talked with other folks on the beta and whilst they weren't immune to performance issues, they didn't have problems like I did. We went through our different PC specs and I worked out what my problem was; RAM and Windows version.

I started off with:

Q6600 (overclocked to 3.2ghz)
4gb RAM (limited to 3.25gb because of my operating system)
Windows Vista (32bit)

I then installed a 64 bit version of windows and upped my RAM to 6gb. Changing it to:

Q6600 (overclocked to 3.2ghz)
6gb RAM
Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit)

So a very minor upgrade and one that really just brings me up to basic standards...

The performance increase was monumental. First thing I did was jump into a Scythe fighter plane and discovered it was now absolutely fine to fly! Then I got into to some proper battles and all was well. FPS is hugely improved and the teleporting enemy player lag is completely gone. Happy Boots was happy. :) Since then SOE have made continual improvements to the game's performance and I have to say their work has been extremely impressive. My FPS varies between 15 and 60 depending on situation, with 15 being very unusual, most of the time in large scale battles I'm running at around 30 FPS which is perfectly fine for a low end system like mine. I was in a battle earlier that was mind-blowing in scale, there was masses of tanks, swarms of infantry and a sky packed with dueling aircraft. Contrails from jets covered the air like a ADHD kid scribbling after too much Sunny D, bombs exploded left right and center, tracer fire and just bat shit crazy sci-fi warfare could be seen all around. Yet the game ran perfectly.

I can quite honestly say I have never seen performance like this in any other large scale PvP MMO. Perhaps its because by the nature of the game people are just more spread out than in melee based games like WAR, DAoC, GW2, etc. Perhaps its something to do with the differences developers face between traditional lock target MMORPG spam 157 ability buttons combat and that which we see in a MMOFPS, but then Planetside 1 often ran like poo and I'm only guessing. So I don't know and nor do I care. What I do know is  Planetside 2 is looking hugely promising for people with low end systems like mine.

Oh and the game itself is bloody awesome, but we'll get to that later.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Hello again

Sooooo, Guild Wars 2 is about to launch. It will be a huge deal at launch, obviously, and I think it will do well after for a good while too. Not exactly a shocking statement I know, since no sub fee should by default ensure so. Of course like most of ya'll, also I know plenty of folks getting all excited about it. However I'm well and truly back to not bothering with it at all. I just don't have the time, I'm in 3 betas that I'm very keen on and I tend to dabble with those when I have time for gaming. So little point in spending £50 on a game I won't play at all.

Situation remains as it was... Only games on my eventual horizon are free to play anyway, Planetside 2 and Mechwarrior Online. There's still nothing else inspiring me, that I can talk about yet anyway ;) Well I say that, I will dabble with others, but don't let that count as me giving two turds about them. For example.......

Star Wars (SWTOR) is going free to play. Yeah, good move. I enjoyed it whilst I leveled through it and thought it was pretty good, as a single player game... It lacked interest and most importantly motivation to continue as a multiplayer game, so a sub fee was always going to become an annoyance. When it turns F2P then I will reinstall and dabble a bit, but can't see me spending any money on it. Sure plenty of folks will though, at least if BioWare are clever with their cash shop and don't make it too aggressive a sell, if you get what I mean.

Oh and Vanguard has gone F2P I believe. I've never played it, but I might try it out of curiosity. I'm not expecting much.

All this prompts a question... Why the fuck is WAR not going F2P? Seriously.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Planetside 2 beta next week

Yup, it's been confirmed by John Smedley ‏on twitter:


Whilst I don't do much in the way of gaming these days, I will be finding time to get a good chunk of Planetside 2 in. Oh yes. First beta I've actually been excited about in a looooooong time.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Games and TV

Still not playing any MMOs. In fact I'm still not gaming a huge amount anyway, but when I do I've just been on a Football Manager 2012 and Skyrim. I do kinda want to play an MMO, but there's just nothing interesting enough to warrant a sub fee and I'm not that inspired with any of the current F2P games. Sure, a sub fee isn't a huge amount to spend, but I know right now I wouldn't play any of my existing MMO accounts for more time and enjoyment than I would get out of the 3 pints of beer or whatever for the same cost. 

The Secret World did tempt me a little, but at £40? No way would I play it enough to bother with that cost. Personally I think £40 is a total fucking piss take for a game with a sub fee AND a cash shop. BOLLOCKS TO THAT! Though even if it was less, I just don't think I would play it enough and certainly I would drop it like a sack of wet turds the moment either the Planetside 2 or Mechwarrior Online betas start.

So there you go, not much to say on MMOs right now. I'm just waiting still...

In other news... I've been catching up on TV shows I didn't watch for some stupid reason before. Rome was not bad, historical artistic licence wasn't toooooooooo bad. And yeah, yeah I'm stupidly late to the party, but Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes were amazing. The British versions of course, I got warned about the US remake of Life on Mars and just have to say christ on a bloody bike! The US makes some great TV, but they really know how to screw up iconic TV shows from other countries. Just watch the originals in everything, actually that's generally a good rule in life.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Friday, 8 June 2012

Soooooooo games

I've been busy and stuff. Only game I've played recently is Football Manager 2012. I have however kept half an eye on MMO news and community reactions, which basically went as expected, with reactions going kinda like this...

The Secret World, hmmph, meh, Funcom up to the usual.
Oh what's this? New Planetside 2 video?


Planetside 2
Planetside 2
Planetside 2
Planetside 2
Planetside 2
But GW2!
Planetside 2
Planetside 2
Planetside 2
Planetside 2
Planetside 2
Planetside 2

There you go, a month's MMO news in one post.

Oh and in case you aint seen it yet, check out this most glorious of concepts for Mechwarrior Online gaming:

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Random this may seem, at least for those that don't know me so well... One of my all time fave players at LFC has moved elsewhere. Bloke had a work ethic like nobody else.

I saw this image on Red and White Kop. Says it all

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Planetside 2 - Night Ops video

The only PvP MMO I give two turds about right now.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Since I get accused of hating on GW2...

...I shall now demonstrate the difference between my previous honest, unbiased and balanced opinion on a game I've actually said I would most likely buy and what would happen if I let myself go a little with a proper hate post.

Guild Wars 2 is a stupid little kids game for all the retards that continue to blindly accept the horse shit gameplay inherent in MMOs these days. Kill 20 rats, now kill 20 not rats, now collect 10 cock rings, oh but it's different to other games because you didn't have to talk to a guy with a question mark over his head. Yeah.... it's dynamic, because it auto starts sometimes when you're not there. Sorry, that's pushing the definition of dynamic in this context. It's no more dynamic than my central heating pre-programmed schedule. It's barely any different to WAR's public quests, amazing as they were.

It has art design that is mostly aimed slightly above Harry fucking Potter, yeah, those kids books you think it's cool for adults to read. Wake up you dong, they're not, they are kids books, for kids. See what Arenanet think of you? They think you're 8 years old. However it also steps quite happily into My Little Pony too with it's cutesy pixie spunk bubble gnome race and smattering of cartoony colour pallet shite. They think you're 8 years old and a girl.

Best PvP EVAR! Scenarios, battlegrounds, whatever..... exactly the same as every sodding game since WoW rubber stamped the format of instanced PvP. Boring. Every class is ranged and range is king. Were they trying to make a shooter? Are they trying to compete with Planetside 2 already? WTF? How shite is that? They can't even properly balance melee against ranged, so they give everyone ranged options. And they didn't even have the bottle to make proper factions, it's servers... yeah, great. What a load of character packed in.. brilliant. Whole WvWvW scene will die within 6 months due to apathy, it's natural dullness, lack of soul and the release of games with proper factions. Wank. Actually no it won't. because of no sub fee and most of the game's population not being old enough to own a credit card, I guess they can't go elsewhere anyway. Unless they can convince daddy to pay their sub fee for a proper game.

Guild Wars 2, AKA a dull, flat and soulless experience for 8 year old girls. Anyone hyping this game is an idiot.

Now that would be a bit more of a hate post. I could do better, but I just knocked this out in 10mins, so that's all you get. See the difference?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Memories of WAR 1

Thanks to Valdel for linking this classic video from the old days in WAR. Much of the joke will be lost on those not from Hirn/Norn.

Dreddz responds to accusations of aura abuse

Monday, 30 April 2012

A quick Guild Wars 2 beta review

OK I got a few hours in over a range of characters and unlike some I don't give two turds about developer promises and hype train bollocks.

Decent enough to distract from the generic fantasy by numbers art design. It's as if the basic art style was thought up by an 8 year old, but then the layout and structural stuff was designed by a grown up. Same as WoW was really. Thankfully this adds up to me being able to stomach it. Also I was quite impressed by the cities and their (false) sense of scale.

Reasonable, but potentially very good if it really is as un-optimised as claimed.

Many interesting and fairly diverse classes to play with. But to be honest low level stuff means bugger all and you can't tell dick about them until end game. I liked the Warrior the most, shock horror I know.

Combat System
Fast, a bit floaty at times, but encourages movement which is a good thing. It feels like Wrath of Heroes with more buttons. I'm not entirely sold on how abilities and weapon skills are distributed, but I think really I need to get much further through the levels than dabbling in a beta weekend allows. Potential issues with ranged being too easy in PvP.

Solid enough, not as dynamic as RIFT's, not as dull as most everything else. It's still kill 10 rats, pick up 10 apples crap, but it's masked fairly well and you can get a nice sense of exploring the zones.

PvP Scenarios
Same as every other game. Other than the stat, ability and gear bolster for all levels (making everyone 80 and in PvP gear), I would say "Move along, nothing to see here".

WvWvW (RvR, open world PvP)
Lacks flavour because of the lack of true factions, but didn't matter too much because it was fun. Not done much with keeps, etc, I was just roaming and fighting with a group. I liked it. Was like old school DAoC in some ways. Lots of good systems built around this too, so much potential there.

Is it the second coming of MMO Baby Jesus?

Will I buy it?
Yes. Though I still plan on dropping everything for Planetside 2.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Potentially interesting indie game "M3CH"

Had a nice email today from "a new independent studio made up of ex industry guys" letting me know about their upcoming mech combat game "M3CH".

Initially they're going for an iOS release and then potentially looking at a Steam launch. The game is currently in alpha and there's not a huge amount of info yet, but it's sure as hell got some sweet concept art going on.

There's looooooooads more concept art here. And further info and an in-game video can be found here. I reckon this is one to keep an eye on, certainly for the big robot smush up lovers among us... Plus it's always good to support the indies.

Friday, 13 April 2012

For example

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Where my Bootae go?

OK so I should really post about my sudden silence. I find myself brimming with motivation at the moment, but these motivations have nothing to do with gaming and as such I've just not had anything to post about. My wife and I separated, resulting in a financial mess and all the more important difficulties that arise with a family breakup when there's kids involved. I had kind of expected this would mean I would end up burying myself in gaming, but actually it's been the complete opposite and I simply have little spare time or inclination for games. Strangely it was a couple of weeks before I even noticed I hadn't played anything. Though in the grand scheme of things over the last month or so, that was one of the smallest revelations.

Now, whilst I could write quite an interesting post on some of these things, particularly on certain aspects of relationships and the connection to our online personal support networks, it wouldn't be vey classy of me and would be somewhat insensitive. Also whilst you may suspect from my vagueness that I blame gaming for my marriage explosion (albeit a very slow motion explosion), lets be clear that this is not the case at all. There is a difference between a cause and a (debatable) symptom.

So what then for this blog?

Hmmmm. To be honest I'm not quite sure. I do like the outlet that blogging provides me and there have been some pretty cool things that have happened because of this blog, but life at the moment isn't so conducive to writing all the time.

I am still interested in games, I did play some GTA and Skyrim this week for example and I have kept an eye on the MMO news, but I doubt I will be anywhere near the regular gamer I was. Which to be fair was already less than most MMO players, despite what you may have thought. I suspect that I will be a lot more picky with what I play in future, the days of trying out everything are gone.

I might play Guild Wars 2, but I'm not sure. There is a good chance I will just wait for Planetside 2 and Mechwarrior Online. Also I have a backlog of single player games to clear... All of which doesn't suggest a huge amount of source material...

Probably I shall just write stuff as the whim takes me, but most likely not anywhere near as prolifically as before. There's also a chance I may go on all sorts of tangents, be it my rediscovered love of breakbeats and funky old tunes, my current obsession with cooking, Liverpool football club, or the latest oriental tea that takes me to my Zen place :P

Basically, I dunno. Life is a lot of fun right now. Straight after everything going to crap, a lot of cool and interesting things happened. So my apologies for the lack of posting and my future randomness, but I'm having a good time, so meh! ;)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Stuff I've been doing

OK sorry for slow posting, it was D Day in the whole epic life changing malarkey so had other priorities :P For now here's just a brief catch up on gaming stuff...

I went on to Warhammer Online again a little bit. Credit where credits due, it was better than that first night from my recent post. Yet everything I said still stands true. It was better because I stayed grouped all night, remained in the one zone that had fighting in, didn't do many scenarios and crucially because I stayed on my highest RR character all night. Don't get me wrong, I maybe banging on about the gear/RR issues (and they are pivotal to gaining/retaining new subscribers), but the list of issues with WAR is very long.

Yet despite me knowing it's probably beyond salvage, for some strange reason I still hold an inkling of hope for WAR's future. I honestly can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe I'm should drink less.

In other news... I've just got into a very interesting Alpha test, though not sure about the NDA yet. Will confirm and comment if possible ASAP. The big surprise however has been Neverwinter Nights 2. I'm not sure who had the idea, but a bunch of my KF cronies and I have been playing multiplayer campaigns on NWN2 and it's been great fun. Pure PvE, yet a pleasant distraction.

On the PvP front other than a little WAR, it's just been Tribes: Ascend for me lately. Still enjoying that. Plus I'm going to be trying out a persistent world PvP mod for Mount & Blade: Warband. I'm hearing very good things about the mod in question. Info on that once I've actually played it of course.

Oh and I forgot to say, since I had a few comments on this blog and some interesting messages sent to me elsewhere... I will expand on that idea from my previous post about how to make stats and progression work in a competitive MMO. Soon.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Return to WAR no.3

Earlier this week I activated my 2 weeks free return to WAR. I was bored and a little curious to see how things were these days. First impressions were not great….

ORvR lakes were far quieter than when I used to play. Sure there was some action and I did have a little fun and got a few kills, but the lower population was pretty evident. It’s a shame it took so long for the forts to get sorted out, because today there are quite simply not enough players for them to be of any interest. WAR is most certainly not everywhere.

Also obvious was the gear gap. The relation between Renown Rank differences and time to kill is absolutely horrific and unchanged from when most of us quit before. As an occasional WAR forum lurker, it is amusing to see people constantly bragging of player skill when they are all so carried by gear. Though I guess it’s hard for people to be objective when they’re so close to something, especially when it’s giving them huge bonuses. Anyway, I tried out a few of my characters that have a range of renown ranks and the difference between them is frankly ridiculous.

I will log on at least a few more times to get a more complete picture of the state of ORvR on Karak Norn and perhaps it will prove to have just been an off night.

Scenarios were horrible. I knew it would be bad, I’d seen people talking about it being nothing but RR90-100 premades these days and yeah, they were right. This is of course fine when it’s premade vs premade and if gear is less relevant, but alas WAR is neither of those things. As such the scenario scene will be an unpleasant experience for the majority of returning or new players in Tier 4. Epeen bollocks about L2P and people deserving their power because of time played is just naïve nonsense, that kind of thinking does nothing to retain (let alone gain) subscribers. Which is evidenced by the situation WAR finds itself in.

So far this 3rd return to WAR hasn’t done much to change my opinion of where the game is right now. There are things in the pipeline to address the balance problems, but I’m not convinced they will be enough and even if they are I doubt they will arrive soon enough to do much. The fundamental issues with WAR (aside from the factions) is that it is no longer a competitive game. An RvR game has to be competitive or it will alienate new potential subscribers.

If I could have my way with WAR I would:
  • Remove all stats gains from items and make armour cosmetic only.
  • Give characters a stat pool to distribute amongst their various stats, so players can still customise their play style, but wouldn’t gain more stats through farming gear or playing more than others.
  • Renown rank would unlock the armour options and would also have new abilities linked to it. Sideways progression giving options, not stat power gain.

This is of course too brave and probably impossible to do anyway because of effectively redesigning so much stuff. It would however work and would result in a competitive game where player skill and organisation would be the defining factor in your results.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Game IPs, Warhammer 40k, fiction and stuff

OK, this post is a bit of a mental stroll, so we'll see where it goes....

For some of us the theme and intellectual property a game uses is important. It could be something long established like Conan or something specifically created for the game like Mass Effect, but for those of us that care about such things we will want it to be of good quality and to fit with certain personal preferences. We want the game's atmosphere to envelop us and be a pleasant distraction, rather than a constant nagging irritation. A favourite IP well represented can cover a multitude of developer sins.

Myself, I get irritated by three things in particular.

First off there's the everyone's a hero crap. It's amazing how the NPC villages have populations that are lower than even the smallest guild of player controlled "heroes". It's just bloody silly. Plus if 90% of the people in these worlds are us heroes, well... damn we must be shit, because evil just keeps on happening. Now this isn't necessarily the IP at fault here, but it is part of how that IP is presented. It changes what could be a living, breathing world into a bit of a farce and something that just feels a bit weak.

Cutesy stuff like World of Warcraft does my head in with it's comedy gnomes and horrifically half-hearted "we're not evil really" faction. I loathe how meh the Horde are. That said, I do recognise that WoW is aimed at an incredibly broad market and whilst I don't like the way it looks or it's hokey lore, there's no way I can argue against it's popularity. Mass market = mass money.

Which also applies to that other hideousness that makes me to hurl over my monitor; the generic eastern style yawn fest. You know the ones, TERA/Aion, etc with their eastern-style-big-eyes/hair-angel-winged-cyber-emo-punk-goth-anthropomorphic-badger-people-bollocks. Invariably this is accompanied by lazy, generic and just plain dull storylines. It's fantasy by numbers, but it has broad appeal based purely on the aesthetic and it sells to those that do like those themes over other elements. Just like Final Fantasy MCMII and so on.

So whilst I don't like those style of settings, art styles and themes, and yes I can happily slag them off for hours, I'm also sure that their fans can do the same for the things I like. Plus whilst at first it may not seem it, my taste is actually a bit more niche. I like my gameworlds dark, mysterious and threatening. Warhammer and Battletech being prime examples of this; they're fantasy/sci-fi worlds that are gritty and in the fiction are populated by unpleasant, devious bastards. Sure they do have nods to humour here and there, but they're grounded in pure nastiness. However the bit that I really like are the small details, the things that flesh out these fantasy worlds and make them approach feasibility and this is where I realise I'm buggered.

Take Warhammer 40k for example and the upcoming Dark Millennium Online game. Warhammer 40,000 is my favourite setting of any IP in any format and I've made no secret of the fact that I'm looking forward to DMO. As such you might think it's my dream MMORPG in the making. But nope, you'd be wrong. It's all Space Marines, Eldar Aspect Warriors, Titans, big explosions, epic battles and total carnage, which in many ways is great, but actually I think it devalues the mythos attached to Spacemarines to have a bazillion players using one. I would much prefer to see something like Necromunda get made into an MMORPG.

Necromunda is a 40k game that is set within the bowels of a GIANT hive city, it's about gangs of street scum, criminals and those trying to enforce the law in the festering arse of the Imperium. It might not have Spacemarines or Tyranid Hive Tyrants, but we don't need them. Those things are meant to be rare anyway, so make them rare, make them special. I want a taste of the worlds that the Eisenhorn books deliver, worlds that are more than just battlefields for the latest spacemarine yawn-fest. Give me a window into what it's like to live in the Imperium with it's oppressive and violent atmosphere. I don't want to be a hero, I want to claw my way out of the crap and forge my own path, be that hero or villain. I want to be scared of Imperial law. I want to run from the Adeptus Arbrites.  I want to see the shops, homes and workplaces. I want to hear the conversations of people that aren't genetically engineered superhumans. And then I want it to go bat shit crazy as our gangs kick off. I want a sandbox, gang warfare, multi-faction PvP based game in a giant 40k hive world.

Problem is, it's just too niche a desire. Nothing like this will ever get made because it wouldn't have that mass appeal. In my head this idea is dripping with atmosphere and has immense multi-faction PvP potential, but that  just doesn't matter, because most people want their Spacemarine. Which is a shame, because as I mentioned before, books like the Eisenhorn trilogy show you that there's so much more flavour if you focus on the small details and give the reader a bit more chance to sink into your fantasy world. It doesn't have to be all explosions and shouting AVENGE ME BROTHER! every 5 seconds. I'd like to see some games that reflect that.

OK so this post started off about IPs in general and different tastes and then ended up with my ideal way of presenting my favourite IP, which won't ever happen. Bit of an odd post, but there you go.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Mechwarrior Online - In game footage

Lots of excellent news for mechwarrior/battletech fans recently. MWO is very much being made as a simulator and looking to be extremely familiar to those of us with mech history. Much of what's on view or being said may not appear to be that much of a big deal to those who haven't played these games before, but believe me, it is all good so far. All very promising for another MW game with great depth and flexibility. I'll talk more about this when I'm not half cut from a night in the pub.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

New Warhammer Online website is live

Took a while, but it's finally here and looks fairly good. Most importantly it's actually up to date! Hopefully Mythic will keep on their toes with it and that will help stem off some of the "dropped game" perception within the general MMO community. A little bit anyway. Hopefully 1.4.6 can arrive sooner than the normal patch cycle and we might get a little bit of positivity going. Maybe anyway :P

Planetside 2 gameplay videos

OK so some lovely person has put loads of vids on youtube from the Planetside 2 presentation at GDC. Lots of in-game footage and explanations.

These videos may explain why it's Planetside 2 I'm looking forward to far more than Guild Wars 2...

Vehicle pad and flight video with accelerated day/night schedule

Direct link

Outdoor battles, all sorts of carnage


Tanks, infantry, Galaxy transport :) , customising inventory, etc, etc


Campaign map, more infantry stuff, base capture, stats, guilds, etc.


Ground stuff, not much action in it but shows the style of some buildings, etc.


Some nice screenies here too.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A mixture of hope and apathy

At the moment I’m kind of adrift on an uninspiring sea of MMORPGs. There’s no siren call strong enough to tempt me into paying a subscription fee, I’m just not finding anything particularly alluring. Too much of the same old same old I suppose. So instead I’m just fiddling about with single player and F2P stuff, whilst I wait for one of the more interesting online games on the horizon.

As always I am tempted to return to EVE, but also as always, it’s just not life style friendly enough for me and my regular AFKing. Alas, I can’t see me being able to play EVE the way I would like to anytime soon. Though it’s probably a positive thing that real life prevents me from doing so, as I know EVE can devour you like a Sarlacc with the munchies. For now I’m mainly playing Star Trek Online. Just nipping on for an hour here and there to play through episodes or missions and set my next batch of Duty Officer assignments running. It’s free to play, quite engaging and I’ve always had a soft spot for STO. That said, the game won’t ever be my long term MMO love affair, but is more of a regular casual flirtation, perhaps with the occasional tongue. Flashing eyes across the office, the odd late night drinking session, but not quite worth a divorce.

Oh, I've downloaded RIFT again and will dick about the free 1-20 bit. Not logged in yet.
The only other online game I’m playing at the moment is Tribes: Ascend. It’s free to play, the cash shop is not essential and most importantly, it’s fun. This reimagining of the classic Tribes 1 and 2 is getting better and better and I recommend people try it out. Just be warned that it is not like your normal online shooters. It’s MUCH faster and you have to learn to lead your shots a lot more than normal. It’s all about predicting people’s movement and it can take some getting used to. Anyway, it’s a good game and recommended.

At some point soon I will be making use of my 2 weeks free in both WAR and DAoC, but I doubt very much I would subscribe to either in the near future. Obviously I’m a fan of both games, or at least what they once were, it’s just that WAR would really need to do quite a lot to make up for the Wrath of Heroes disappointment. The less said about that the better. Actually, as I write this I’m changing my mind slightly regarding DAoC. There is a bit more chance that DAoC could persuade me to take up a month’s subscription. It did grab me last year, surprising me how well so many things still played and looked. I swear if that game had a decent UI update it could see a reasonable resurgence.

Aside from those retro distractions, for me it’s all about the upcoming games; Planetside 2 and Mechwarrior Online. There’s a load more Planetside 2 news appeared in the last couple of days, which I’ll gather up and post about soon. Mechwarrior is continuing to drip feed news at a slow steady rate, though we’re still waiting to see some in-game footage. I hear we may see something soon however. Mechwarrior isn’t a MMO of course, but this blog is about stuff that interest me, so meh whatever. Oh and Hawken looks great. Me like mechs.

Elsewhere, I’m not totally writing off Funcom’s “The Secret World”, yet I don’t find myself particularly caring about it either way. To be honest I’m not quite sure why. Despite my many misgivings regarding Funcom, I do like what they try to do and certainly TSW has many features that tick my boxes. My apathy confuses me slightly. If I don’t get on the beta then I doubt I will try it until well after launch.

And on the subject of apathy… If for a moment I take off my Hat of Trolling+3, yes Guild Wars 2 has much potential and does look like some serious PvP goodness. That doesn’t change the fact that it will never be a game I get excited about and I still find it hard to motivate myself to write about it, but it’s certainly one I would like to see realise its PvP potential. Obviously Kill Frenzy and I will try it out.

Hopefully sometime soon we’ll start to get more news on Dark Millennium Online and World of Darkness. Both games are perceived as being on rather rough seas, what with the challenges faced by THQ and CCP, but I guess we just have to wait and see what news arrives. I still have high hopes for both games, purely due to their settings. Actually that’s not true. I have some confidence in CCP to deliver something interesting and hopefully sandboxy. Plus THQ have some excellent 40k games in their stable, so we know they’ll do the 40k universe credit when it comes to atmosphere at least.

I think that’s it for major MMOs of interest to me, can’t think of anything else. There are a few small games I have an eye on, but they’ll get posts of their own at some point. Oh and for the record, Diablo 3 I’m indifferent to and World of Warcraft Panda bear stuff just doesn’t work for me. Sorry Blizzard, as if you care lol :D

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

SWTOR 1.2 patch trailer

And basically it's lots of cool little things that are standard fare in many other games.

New raid and a warzone too, so that's some proper new content.

I hear that there is a redesign of Ilum happening. Alas I suspect that will be doomed to failure because of SWTOR's fundamental problems with it's two factions. Ilum itself can of course be dramatically improved, but I just can't see how they can fix the monumental faction imbalance and suddenly have loads of people wanting to play the boy scout republic dullness. Even if they put faction based population caps (instead of the ri-cock-ulous zone based one they implemented before), that will just mean many folks from the overpopulated side end up PvEing the PvP zone.

Anyway, it's perhaps foolish for me to focus on the PvP issues of SWTOR. It is after all designed primarily as  a PvE experience and on that front the 1.2 patch is looking reasonable I guess. It's not quite at the level of RIFT's content updates, but it should be enough to keep people interested.

Trion release a 2011 review + looking to 2012 video

And it's worth a look.

I was planning on checking out RIFT again at some point this year, it's just such a well made game and I do like the way Trion do things. No doubt will be a temporary dabble when I do though.

Monday, 5 March 2012

In between my F2P dabblings I have been Minecrafting

Not exactly OMG amazing or anything, but it takes a lot of gathering materials and some careful building when you're doing it all with vanilla survival mode. Lots of perilous balancing on things... And damn I had some bastard Creeper moments to deal with...

Click me and I get bigger.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Saturday, 3 March 2012

STO - Cryptic looking at adding a third faction and maybe a fourth

Dan Stahl, Cryptic's Executive Producer for Star Trek Online, has posted up the latest Ask Cryptic article where he replies to a range of player submitted questions. Despite there being a lot of the "promising but non-committal" answers that game developers tend to give, it is well worth a read and gives a bit of insight into future plans. Certainly Dan is promising a focus on adding new content, but the quotes I'm most interested in are these:

Q: (WazzaG) When will we see a Romulan Faction? I always read answers along the lines of “when the KDF has more content.” When will they have enough content so you can then launch a Romulan faction?
Dstahl: This is the number one long-term question on my mind and something I’m working directly with Jack (Cryptic’s CEO) and Perfect World to address. While I can’t give you a date, one of my goals in returning to Star Trek Online is to address this very issue.

Q: (KeithCrimson) When do we get to play as a Cardassian?
Dstahl: We’ve been holding off on having playable Cardassians and Romulans for the time being as we envision having a complete faction devoted to these races. That is the only reason we haven’t added them as playable species in the game yet. They are reserved for future expansions. That said, depending on what our timeline is for future expansions, we haven’t ruled out the possibility of having a few Cardassians or Romulans appear in Fed/Kdf ranks. So this is very TBD still.

OK so clearly it's not going to happen anytime soon, but it does sound like it will happen. Particularly the Romulans if that's the number one thing on their minds right now. Now, bare in mind STO is not a RvR game and as such a third faction would not turn it into DAoC in space, but aside from the obvious PvE additions and masses of new content, it would open up more PvP options. Plus it would sure make a lot of people very happy and be one hell of a news headline for the game. New factions are big media hype news, Romulan ships look cool, things that look cool and have media hype will attract players. And that's without considering the attraction for Trekkies.

STO has exploded in popularity since it went F2P, on a couple of occasions I've even had to queue to log in (not for long thankfully) and from what I see in game it looks like their cash shop is very successful. Everything in the cash shop can be earned without paying real money, since you can convert in-game currency "dilithium" into Cryptic Points to spend in the store, but that takes time to earn and it's pretty clear people are putting money in to get stuff quickly. Which is all good for STO and only increases the likelihood of Cryptic being able to introduce major expansions.

This is purely a personal opinion, but I suspect we will see an announcement of a playable Romulan expansion for STO being made around the Summer of 2012. Followed by a series of episodes related to it over the following months, then see it going into beta on tribble in December and going live Jan/Feb 2013. He says, speculating hopelessly :P

Thursday, 1 March 2012

WAR dev on a right question roll

Keaven is on a mission it seems. Another dev discussion post and this one has yet more sensible ideas to suggest.

Wanted to start a new thread to consolidate discussions on gameplay enhancements/updates for things not necessarily part of the campaign, and not dealing with scenarios. Some things that fall into this category are...

  • PvE Gear Revitalization
  • Addition of new gear pieces to close RvR Gear Gap
  • PQ / Lair / Dungeon Revitalization
  • Talisman Charges/Refill mechanic

This won’t necessarily be for any one patch in particular, but will help focus our efforts over the next few patch cycles.

Uhm wow? Potentially more gear gap fixes, making PvE content relevant again and a change to the bugged yet flawed concept of talisman charges.

2 days in a row with talk from Mythic that I am liking. Keep it up chaps!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Mythic show some promise for patch 1.4.6

Whilst I'm not currently playing WAR and haven't for quite some time, I do still keep an eye on the game. Most often with a touch of frustration and gamer depression, but today that changes a little bit with Keaven Freeman's post about plans for the 1.6 patch. It is essentially a bug fix patch, which in itself isn't very exciting and of course I would love to see a big content patch, yet there are a few tweaks being considered for 1.4.6 plans that have the potential to make WAR a better and more balanced game.

Change Tier 4 lakes to bolster to 45
It may seem that WAR has a max character level of 40, but actually there are "hidden levels" that a character goes up as they hit certain high renown ranks. I've never bothered to properly learn the maths of why, but basically it's to do with making high end equipment stat increases scale correctly. Unfortunately it was just another part of making WAR become less about player ability and shifting the emphasis too far towards renown rank and gear. Of course if people look at it selfishly (and naively if they want the game to succeed) they'll think they should one shot everyone because they put the time in to get renown rank 100 and all the associated gear, but actually this model of progression is very harmful for a PvP focused game. It does nothing to entice new players to stick around (or old players to return), when they know it will be a frustrating experience as most current players have a massive advantage. So any steps towards making WAR more balanced and, crucially, more enjoyable for new players hitting Tier 4 is in my book a very good move.

Change scenarios to bracket by RR (renown rank) rather than CR (character rank; or level)
Same again really. It stops people getting auto facerolled by other players equipment, but it also stops people  (at times justifiably) complain that they lost because it was so and so and he's RR100 and uber. AND it stops people (also, at times justifiably) blaming their losses on the lowbies they were stuck with. It should make for a much more competitive scenario scene.

Player-damagable Keep/Fortress doors
Hmmm. Everyone hitting the doors wasn't always great. However it was sodding worse when 1.4 arrived and all too often we ended up not having anything to do at keep sieges. Mixed in with possible changes to oil damage and this could get quite interesting.

There's loads of other things they're looking at fixing or tweaking in 1.4.6, but for me these are the things that have actually managed to catch my attention. Not big flashy changes, but changes that could make the WAR a bit more competitive again and improve the game as an experience.

Its looking like I will save my 2 weeks free return until 1.4.6 arrives.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mechwarrior Online - First trailer

And we have the first trailer :D

update... grrr their embed code is knackered :(

No shock that they went for the Atlas. It is one of the iconic inner sphere mechs.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

MWO - The Commando

This week sees the announcement of yet another mech in Mechwarrior Online's starting line up: The Commando. It's an interesting choice of mech; very humanoid (for want of a better word...) in it's appearance and proportions. Actually I'd say the original designs look a bit more like it should be a Transformer.
Thanks to for this classic image

Once again Piranha have slapped the original in the face with their Legendary Sword of Modernisation+3. We see a new design that holds true to its roots whilst looking perfectly acceptable by 2012 standards. I'm liking this quite a lot.

Gameplay wise the Commando is classified as a light mech. Actually you could say very light, at a mere 25 tons. Fast, maneuverable and with short range weaponry, we're talking about a scouting mech that should excel in urban or dense terrain. In previous Mechwarrior games there has been a lot of people that go straight for the huge assault mechs every time, they just can't see past big guns. Those people miss out on some of the most entertaining gameplay and they nearly always suck. With MWO putting even more emphasis on scouting, information warfare and synergy between weight classes, I'm expecting this mech to be one of the most exciting to play.

Monday, 20 February 2012

I'm not subbed to anything...

...and I really don't care, because soon Mass Effect 3 will be here.

I love these games. Are they my all time favourite single player RPG series? Whilst I am a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls, it's only Mass Effect that I've played through completely multiple times. So yeah, I think they probably are. Can't wait!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Bootae makes a Guild Wars 2 post that is not totally full of bile and loathing

OK so as everyone knows, I am hugely cynical about Guild Wars 2. I played the first game and I think it's hugely over-rated, despite what it's rabid fanbois say. Which actually is probably why so many GW2 fans are quick to say "but yeah GW2 is a totally different game!!!".

However, this blog post from the GW2 devs about PvP has gone a long way to increase my level of /care. I've now upgraded my interest from utterly indifferent to moderately intrigued. Which is quite a feat considering the game's WoW crowd pleasing, clown vomit, childish, emo and horribly generic art style. I bet there's a blindfolded busty angel somewhere.

The screenshot below however did not make me hurl.

This one does though...

And don't get me started on this shite.

Anyway, I must admit, that's an impressive list of PvP, RvR (or WvWvW?) features and if it doesn't turn out to be mainly dev speak or just plain broken, then I might actually be persuaded to ignore the cutesy crap.

SWTOR - Goodbye and thanks for all the fish

I have cancelled my SWTOR sub. Yeah, I know I recently said I wouldn't be just yet, but meh... It turns out my original prediction of "It will probably keep me entertained for a month or two" was correct. So really it’s no big surprise that I’ve called it a day, but I shall now have a TLDR style ramble about why I've lost interest:

Firstly all the things that my "a game of two halves" post talked about. Getting to 50 was great and was possibly the best PvE levelling experience to date, but once at 50 it all just reverts to standard MMO farming and the entertainment provided by the storyline progression is gone. This was always a concern for me and was one of the reasons I suspected I would only get a couple of months out of SWTOR. Now that I’ve hit 50 and the storylines are all done… Well, I’m just not interested in repetitive daily missions and PvE instance farming to boost some stats by a few percent. I can sometimes be a little more motivated if the gear upgrades looks good, but the end game armour sets for my Sith Inquisitor are some of the worst art design yet seen in a MMO.

So knowing the PvE farm wasn’t for me, I went into SWTOR thinking the one thing that might keep me entertained, at least a little bit longer, would be the PvP and the Ilum open world campaign zone. If Ilum was even close to being as good as WAR’s Praag zone used to be, then I could easily have subbed for a while just for that. Unfortunately it's not good, in fact it's utterly shite. Everyone from Mythic who worked on SWTOR should be feeling a bit embarrassed. They didn't learn a single thing from WAR and actually launched a RvR zone that quite simply does not work and takes massive backward steps in RvR design. The much lauded walkers and artillery seen in videos of the zone are nothing more than stationery graphical fluff that do NOTHING and essentially the zone’s objectives are nothing more than flags to click on. A bit like WAR’s objectives but without the guards, resource carriers, etc, or the end result of a keep to attack… Basically, it’s a beautiful looking zone without anything of any interest to do.

The only purpose of the Ilum zone seems to be to complete the daily mission, which funnels everyone to the central objective and makes a mockery of about 95% of the landscape. However, worse than that, this is with a game engine that cannot cope with more than a handful of players in the zone. SWTOR’s performance is TERRIBLE in Ilum. As a result of this combined with the huge faction imbalance, Ilum is often completely empty. Of course it does have moments of activity, but that tends to be 5 Republic players veruse 30 Imperials… Which leads me neatly to my next big issue; factions and balance.

Come on, you didn’t think I’m going to miss a chance to rag on yet more 2 faction stupidity? :D SWTOR could easily have had 3 factions, those being: Imperial, Republic and Hutts. Classes for Imperial and republic are easy to do obviously, but so are the Hutts and their criminal organisations. Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, Slavers and all manner of scumbags could and should have been a third faction. This would have given the game much more of a chance to succeed on the PvP front and would have provided a very interesting different look at the Star Wars universe. However, Bioware went with the easy route, did a Warcraft and 2 factions it is. This could have been ok, after all PvE is the game’s main focus, yet they totally screwed up on making the Republic desirable to play.

All of the Empire classes are linked immediately to cool characters; Darth Vader, Darth Maul, The Emperor and Boba Fett. Whereas the Republic only have; Han Solo and the clone trooper (which sure aint no Stormtrooper and spends the first 15 levels walking round in a shirt that looks like it comes from An Officer and a Gentleman). The problem with the Jedi classes is they don’t naturally link to the interesting version of Obi-wan from the proper Star Wars films, instead they’ve been tainted by the hideous prequel films. They’ve been turned into uninteresting, wet, simpering idealists that hang around with Jar Jar fucking Binks and don’t have the sense to ram their lightsaber up his arse. The prequels made Jedi Knights boring. That’s unavoidable, the prequels did what they did, but Bioware could have made them more interesting with better alien options. In fact more than anything the Republic faction should have had some kind of tough guy class with playable Wookies as an option, something to give the faction a bit more oomph and bad-ass appeal. Instead we are left with an incredibly dull, uninspiring and desperately unpopulated faction. The effect on PvE is limited, but it totally screws over openworld and instanced PvP.

Having the Huttball warzone (instanced PvP scenario/battleground) allow same faction versus matches is a good idea. A good idea that falls apart when that is all you get. As an Empire player I am so bored of Huttball. I AM SO BLOODY BORED OF HUTBALL!!! I like the other warzones, but they just don’t happen much. SWTOR PvP is boring, simple as that.

So I’m at level 50. I’ve got fully purpled up gear. I’ve got my purple glowing lightsaber. I’ve got enough PvP gear and skill to compete comfortably. I’ve cleared all the PvE instances except one. I’ve run out of storylines and have no further progression possible except for slight stat improvements with hideous looking armour. There’s no openworld PvP and the RvR zone is broken beyond repair. Basically, I’ve got nothing interesting left to do, except play something else.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the game at all and actually I would honestly still recommend people play SWTOR. But exactly as many of us have been saying throughout its development, play SWTOR with the expectation of a Bioware single player game. Albeit one that has about a month’s worth of multiplayer PvE to complete once you’re max level. Do not expect a long term PvE or PvP subscription love affair, just go out there enjoy it’s excellent levelling experience and be ready to move on.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Films to keep an eye on

You probably know of this already or have heard me nattering about them, but anyway there's new trailers out in the last few days.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Iron Sky

Sunday, 12 February 2012

TERA, pretty, but horribly dull

I could talk about all the normal issues Korean games have when ported over to the west and the many things I'm hearing from folks on the beta, but I'll save us all some time. This screenshot says it all:
click to enlarge and check the chat...
Can't remember where I saw this screenie the other day, so credit to whoever it was that took it. Update: Thanks Werit, it was in this thread over at Keen & Graev.

Of course if I get a beta invite then I will try it, just to satisfy curiosity, but I have absolutely zero hope for this game.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Rick rolled by a book

Dunno if this is old news, I'd not seen it myself... A mate just linked this:

Monday, 6 February 2012

Hawken - closed beta application

It's no shame if you're not familiar with Hawken, it's a game in development by a small indie developer called Adhesive Games. It's mech game, which we as you may know is a style I like, but as you'll see in the video below, this game is looking to have some serious potential. Graphically alone this is looking a wee bit more posh than the most indie games...

HD video link here.

Also here's a vid that shows some desert combat and shows off the UI rather well.

So if you're interested in some multiplayer mech mayhem and supporting indie games, get yourself over to their closed beta sign up page.

Official site

Friday, 3 February 2012

SWTOR - A game of two halves

One of the issues that Bioware needs to deal with for SWTOR is that it is effectively 2 very different games. Firstly there’s the level process which is very much the traditional Bioware RPG, that being; fairly repetitive (but reasonably good fun) game play, which is beautifully masked by excellent story writing and an involving plot that you want to play through. Alas (and perhaps predictably) after you’ve finished that, you’ll find yourself automatically placed into the second game, which is the standard MMORPG instance farming and repetition with no real progression aside from stats and to a point, your characters appearance. The storyline is over, now kill those mobs, move out of the fire on the floor, interrupt that attack and repeat.

Now this is quite normal in MMORPGs ever since WoW cemented the modern standard. You level through quests and their storylines, then when you hit max level you then do the same dungeons over and over again until a new one is added later on. Critical I may sound, but clearly the system has proven popular, despite it’s fairly sterile and workhouse like nature. So this “levelling and end-game as two separate games” thing does hold subscribers and perhaps you could say “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. However, with SWTOR the difference between the two is far more pronounced than what we’ve seen before and it’s a lot more likely that once you’ve finished the first game, you might not be so keen on what you’re left with.

Bioware have put so much emphasis and effort into the storylines, it makes levelling a much more enjoyable process and it really does feel similar to Dragon Age and the like. Unfortunately this means when you hit end-game in SWTOR, it’s with a considerable and very noticeable BUMP. You’re dumped into “just another MMORPG” and the same old repetition we see in most other games. There is very little reason to choose to do that repetition in SWTOR instead of other games. Bioware’s primary selling point, the story, becomes completely and utterly irrelevant. I now know what happens with Darth Malgus, I don’t need to watch the same cut scenes over and over again. Doing so is not fun and it adds nothing of any merit. You might as well play RIFT or WoW, as they have the same end-game but are FAR more fleshed out when it comes to features and functionality. No light-sabres of course, but no chance of Jar Jar Binks either…

A friend of mine, who has now quit SWTOR, was expecting the game to have regular storyline content added. As in monthly updates at the least and not just a dungeon that is cleared in 1 hour. He was expecting them to have new quests, companions, etc and to see the whole plot and storyline progressing at a pace that could distract from the standard MMORPG instance farm. But instead he got daily quests and dungeons, again. To be honest this is actually not an unreasonable expectation on his behalf. Bioware has the pedigree and they’ve certainly had the cash to do this, so I would suggest that they could and should have had masses of storyline prepared and ready to be drip fed into the game post launch.

This could all be rectified, though I doubt it will. It’s more likely that we’ll just see a wide range of good, but generic post launch MMO updates. The basic features (by modern standards) that are missing will get added (guild banks, dual spec, etc) and we’ll see new instances for PvE and PvP added. The big issue there is how it will compare with what other games are offering for their end-game players. It’s not like RIFT will stop adding features to let SWTOR catch up…

Thursday, 2 February 2012

STO dings 2

Happy birthday STO :)

The event is now live and you've got just a few days to get the new fancy ships for free. Details here.

And just noticed they've got a coming soon trailer out. I'm not trekkie enough to know what all that is, but it has lasers/phasers and stuff :P

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

MWO - role warfare, hmmm yum

Piranha have posted up Dev Blog 3 "Role Warfare". It's well worth a read and gives a great insight into the tactical possibilities that Mechwarrior Online is aiming for. Particularly when you put it alongside the info from Dev Blog 2 "Information Warfare". In many ways it sounds similar to how scouting works in World of Tanks, just expanded a lot, which to be honest was exactly how it worked in MW3-4, if you played in proper premades. So when you think about the "thinking mans shooter-simulator" nature of Mechwarrior games, it would suggest that if Piranha do manage to put their ideas into play... Well, we just might see a game with an unrivaled focus on teamwork, tactical play, information sharing and of course player skill and experience.

Of course it's early days and it would be unwise to make statements of assured success (oh haaaaai GW2 :P ). So far all we have is the (excellent) concept art, the game engine concept video that prompted the whole thing and a lot of good and reassuring ideas from devs. However, as anyone that's been around gaming for a while will know... devs say a lot of stuff. Delivering them is a whole other kettle of fish.

Regardless, this is currently no1 in my MUST-PLAY-NOW!! list for 2012.

HD link

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Taking my foot off the SWTOR pedal a bit

I've not quit SWTOR and don't currently plan to, but I realised recently that I have been playing a lot less. Perhaps this happened a little subconsciously, as there's been no real thought to it, it just kinda slowed down and I got distracted. My main is fully purpled out, I can compete well in PvP, I've cleared all the hardmode instances I've been in, cleared the Eternity Vault raid (though I'm not much of a dungeon farmer anyway) and Ilum remains a total load of bollocks. Also as an Empire player the warzone we normally end up with is Huttball, which is getting very old, particularly when wins so often don't register on the daily mission. Really I just want Ilum to improve, as that's theoretically providing the type of gameplay I really like (as per DAoC, WAR, etc) but I have serious doubts there.

I have started a proper alt, a Bounty Hunter Mercenary, but I'm not diving full on in to it just yet and not getting that MUST PLAY NOW itch. That said, I have also got a load of major stuff going on in real life which is souring my mood somewhat and as such everything seems a bit shit. Perhaps the fact that I'm mainly spending my gaming time in games where I can be building things, rather than see them destroyed, is fairly telling.

Which leads me to mention the Kill Frenzy Minecraft server has been reset with all the lastest patches and I've found myself heinously addicted... again. When not exploring and fighting stuff, I'm building a multiple tower, sky garden, thing... As everyone knows it is a magnificent game and an incredible time sink, pus I'm a real sucker for exploring and marveling at the cubist beauty of its randomly generated terrain.

Anyway, as I alluded to above, I'm not done with SWTOR yet, but I have run out of pressing targets and am now at the point where normally openworld PvP / campaign RvR would take over. Which unfortunately are SWTOR's weakest points.

Friday, 27 January 2012

STO - 2nd anniversary rewards are a bit good

So normally games give you a load of old tosh for their anniversary rewards. A cloak, title or something else decidedly zzzzzzzzz. Sure there's been some decent veteran rewards in games, as in a reward for being subscribed for a certain amount of time; mounts black dye tubs (ahh fond memories), etc. Yet anniversary rewards received just for being logged in at that particular time are usually, well, a bit rubbish.

STO however is slapping that idea down and delivering some properly useful and rather substantial rewards. Everyone that plays during the 4 days from 2nd February can get a quest line that rewards them with proper all new design end game starships! You have to be at least level 5 to get the mission (or level 21 for Klingon, but Klingon chars start at higher level anyway) and then you'll have the ship as an inventory reward ready to activate when you get to Vice Admiral.

Odyssey Class Starship
Bortas Class Starship
Some details of the event can be found here. Klingon ship info here and Federation here.

If you've not played STO before it's probably worth installing, getting to level 5, getting the ship when the event is on and then if you ever decide to play it properly you'll have that waiting. Since it's free and all.

PS: After this event I would expect that these ships will only be available through the cash shop...

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Probably just a Superbowl advert with that date, but oh if only it was the real deal..

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

MWO - Another mech revealed and it makes for a good comparison

And it's the Centurion; a 50 ton medium mech that typical has a rather mixed array of weapons. Medium Lasers, LRMs (Long range missiles) and a big old AC10 (Auto-cannon projectile weapon). Though with the Mechwarrior games typically immense customisation options and the many variants within the lore itself, the standard weapon load out probably won't mean a great deal. Whatever happens, this should be a reasonably quick and quite potent medium mech. This could be my new Uziel ;)

This particular mech is a really good example of how Piranha's concept artist is bring the old designs smack up to date. If you look at the original it's a very flimsy looking thing that when viewed with a modern eye... well it just doesn't seem even vaguely feasible.
Thanks to for the classic old image btw.

Whereas the new version is much more convincing. Fleshed out, chunkier and just a whole lot meaner looking, this new Centurion looks like a proper war machine that might actually be able to take some punishment. 

That's the thing with bringing battletech designs up to date, the old stuff just looks so flimsy. This of course is not helped by the concept of walking tanks in itself being ridiculous, certainly for bipedal ones. Weapon impacts, kinetic energy and gravity don't lend themselves well to the idea, but then it is make believe. ;) As mechwarrior has a gritter, more "real world" feel than most mecha-style-gundam-cock, I imagine it's quite a challenge for an artist to make it look cool but not leave the common-sense side of your brain screaming DUMBTARDED!

So far I think Piranha are doing a cracking job. Everything is sounding promising for MWO, early days of course, but I do like what I am seeing.

Official Centurion announcement

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

You underestimate the power of the Bark Side

Not seen this on telly over here yet.. Clearly Volkswagen love their Star Wars right now.

Friday, 20 January 2012

STO is now F2P

OK so I am a few days late announcing this, but I forgot, sorry :P

I would say that of all the free to play games out there these days, it's Star Trek Online that gives you the most content for free. Seriously folks this game pretty much throws everything at you for free and is very reasonable in what it expects people to pay for. It's also, in my mind anyway, the most improved since launch MMORPG probably ever.

As a free download this is one of the easiest recommendations I've been able to make.

Official site:

Thursday, 19 January 2012

SWTOR 1.1 patch is not the PvP disaster people think it is

I say that for two main reasons:

1) It made players start fighting and doing actual PvP.
Sure it was a horrible clusterfuck of spawn camping badly tested crap. Yes it was horrible for those being spawn camped with no way out except to quit the game. And yes it demonstrated that the game simply can not handle lots of players in one area, but despite this we did actually see players fighting each other. Players doing PvP in the main PvP zone instead of standing around mostly AFK not even playing the game (not quite the point of a "game" eh?), whilst a few folks take turns to click the objective stuff and auto-complete the AFKers daily missions for them. So in that respect it is progress and is a step in the right direction. Albeit a step that led to Bioware immediately tripping over and faceplanting in a bloody mess hard on Ilum's frozen rocks.

But the main thing people will remember from yesterday was the lag. Oh... My... God... The... Lag.... In fact it lagged just as badly as the early days of WAR fortress battles, but was so worse because the number of players present in those bases on Illum was clearly far lower than we used to see in WAR. Plus SWTOR doesn't even have the excuse of collision detection complications. What Bioware need to immediately realise from this1.1 lesson is that Ilum and SWTOR will NEVER work as large scale zerg Realm vs Realm combat, that is unless they do something absolutely revolutionary with their game engine and servers. Really they need to ensure that future changes work towards making it about lots of small scale fighting all over the zone.

Not large scale combat in a small area, but instead it should be large scale combat over a large area..

Bioware's former Mythic employees should understand this, if they don't then I would question if they actually worked on WAR or just sat around smoking fags, drinking tequila and fiddling with their funky bits.

2) The major development screw ups for PvP were already made long ago. 
Yup. SWTOR was already up to it's neck in PvP problems, that is if you want anything other than arena e-sport. Firstly you can not make a balanced faction based PvP campaign with just 2 sides. It has never worked in anything and the only successful PvP campaigns are in games with 3 or more factions, be those game defined factions (DAoC) or player created ones (EVE, UO). Two faction PvP populations will decline over time as they turn into farcical alt-character switching nonsense and people get either sick of being zerged or bored of the lack of an actual campaign of any meaning.

Sure with instanced PvP you can get away with it to a point, but as the insane amount of Hutballs demonstrate, you'll either have to fight your own faction or wait a long time for those instances to pop.

Then we have PvP specific stats, in SWTOR's case "Expertise". It's always a stupid idea as it heightens vertical progression, lessens the impact of player skill and means new players (AKA new customers) join in PvP and get utterly steamrolled by those of us in fancy armour. Armour that, thanks to the expertise stat, boosts our damage against players AND reduces the damage they do, essentially doubling the percentage increase in it's effectiveness. PvP needs progression to have incentives that will appeal to a wide player base, but that doesn't mean progression has to be at the detriment of game balance and neither should it serve to alienate new players. Subtle stat gain, new abilities, different appearances and a myriad of other rewards can easily be implemented and will provide more than enough incentive. It does however require developers to think for themselves and not just dump a PvP stat on "cos that's what you do for PvP init".

Finally and as already discussed, the game just can't handle lots of players in one small area. Ilum must be redirected to spread the players across the zone and encourage them to fight all over the place. Otherwise it will always be a complete failure of a RvR zone. Which would be a tragic shame because it's a beautifully designed zone in many ways and has massive potential. But as any WAR veteran knows, waiting on potential is a right bitch.

So in summary, it was of course a bad patch and will be remembered for it's many problems, but it did at least kick off some actual PvP and perhaps more importantly highlighted some major issues that MUST be addressed if Ilum is to ever have a chance of succeeding. We just have to see if Bioware realise this.

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