Thursday 24 February 2011

For Durt - saw this and took a photo :)

The Elder Scrolls Skyrim trailer is out and OMG

Yeah it looks awesome.

Can't wait :)

And yeah, RIFT launch very soon :)

Tuesday 22 February 2011

SQUIG FRENZY! The video!

The last time I had talked to Durtbocks about this he told me that him and the video were not talking... Thankfully it turns out the man had some inspiration and it is with great pleasure I present to you the Squig Frenzy video :)

Be warned, it features a little Squig porn and foul words.

The soul system concept is the future of MMOs, or it should be.

RIFT’s soul system is something I strongly believe all MMO developers should be looking at and considering the implications of. While balance may prove an issue (when does it not), this appears to me to be counter-balanced by the incredible flexibility it provides, both in making a character play how you want and in being able to take what on traditional MMO paper would be unworkable groups.

A quick (LOL) explanation for those unfamiliar with the system…

There are 4 classes, the instantly recognisable quartet of Warrior, Rogue, Mage and Cleric. Each of these classes has 8 souls they can choose from, not including the pvp soul and more to come in the future. A soul is kind of like a talent or mastery tree from other games, but with the addition of the more points you spend in it, the more base line abilities of that soul become active, that’s in addition to the abilities you choose to spec from the talent tree. It’s a bit like a tree with roots that get bigger as you grow the branches above.

A character gains access to all of those souls, but can only have 3 active at any one point in time and as per normal you have a limited number of points to spend. How you combine the souls is completely up to you and whilst the game gives some example recommendations of souls that combine well, we’ve discovered in testing that there are far more perfectly viable combinations. In fact with a bit of thought you can essentially design the character to play however you want.

For example let’s briefly look at Cleric souls.

Cabalist - A ranged DPS with lots of channelled abilities and powerful AoE, death magic style.
Druid – A pet class. The Druid himself is primarily melee based but has some heals and some ranged abilities. Pets can heal and DPS.
Inquisitor - Another ranged death magic DPS but more focussed on single target damage, crowd control and has some decent life drain type abilities.
Justicar - Melee Healer and with certain specs and buffs active it’s also a tank.
Purifier - Healer, magic based and built around lots of absorb shields and cleansing flames.
Sentinel - The classic single target and group magic heal class. Holy light, all that jazz.
Shaman - Pure melee DPS, self heals and lots of lightning. It’s all about the crits…
Warden – A heal over time style healer, themed around water. Lots of instant spells, rather like a resto druid in WoW.

Note that all of the healer souls do also have nukes, it’s just not focussed around them. Also all the melee souls bring with them a passive buff that makes your magical ranged abilities also count towards your melee… which means you can mix these all up however you like and make all sorts of interesting combinations.

Want a melee DPS backed up by a pet and some basic healing?

How about a melee based healer that has the option to backline heal when needed?

A ranged DPS that in emergencies can pull out a big hammer to smack things in the face?

A tank that can heal.

Ok you tosser, a melee class, with instant nukes, that can cleanse, heal and shield itself? Oh, and rez.

I spent a lot of time this weekend playing as a healer using a Warden/Sentinel/Druid combination. It worked really well, the heals were excellent and I had little problem keeping my group up and when I felt like it I could either nuke things or hit them in the face with my monstrous hammer. And I had a fairie pet called Gok fluttering around looking camp. So I was using three souls that technically don’t go together and still worked wonderfully. Did some duelling with it too, didn’t lose once :P

Now combine all of this with what RIFT calls “roles”. Roles are preset soul combinations that you can switch between when your character is out of combat. Eventually (they cost gold to buy) you can have up to four different roles and you can of course respect those too. So for example as a Cleric you could have roles set up for tank, main healer, MDPS and RDPS. You can then switch to what’s required.

By making the most of this flexibility we were doing dungeons with a group that consisted of 1 warrior, 1 mage and 3 Rogues. We just switched our souls around to be focussed this:

Warrior - Paladin (tank)
Mage - Chloromancer (healer)
Rogue - Bard (healer)
Rogue - Assassin (DPS)
Rogue - Assassin (DPS)

Both the healers were sort of off healers or hybrid DPS, but combined it worked perfectly and we had no problems with the instances we did (well apart from the one we went in 3 or 4 levels early…). Also at one point we needed an off tank, so I just switched the Rogue I was using to my Riftstalker role and I was a tank.

The absolute key point that all of this adds up to I think is an important one for developers to take on board. It meant that we, as a group of friends that want to play together, have a viable group set up regardless of what class we pick on launch day. The holy trinity of tank/healer/DPS (or dirty quartet with support added) is still there, but it is now less of a ball ache when your guild tanks aren’t online.

We can do a sodding dungeon with 5 rogues! Uhm like woah? It might even be possible with 5 Mages with lots of Chloromancers and a Necromancer’s pet tank… I think the only one that isn’t possible is 5 warriors, but hey, can’t have everything. :P

More games should do this.

Monday 21 February 2011

Guildie willdie stuffie wuff

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this post, but I felt like talking about guilds a little. So if I ramble, you have my humble apologies.

First off as you may have heard, my guild Kill Frenzy is quitting WAR and transferring to RIFT. Yeah, I know I said we’d run factions in both and yeah I know that was predicted to fail, but we have done that sort of thing before without any real issues. The difference this time is quite suddenly pretty much everyone decided that WAR has just gone too far towards PvGear, has become too grindy, changed too much and they wanted to play RIFT instead. Not necessarily because we see RIFT as God’s gift to gaming (it isn’t), but more because WAR isn’t right at the moment and RIFT is a change of scenery. A change of scenery that runs extremely well and isn’t ridden with bugs… Obviously my little borderline rage quit didn’t help and I can only apologise for that, but shit happens, sorry lads and lasses.

One of the guys that that joined KF in WAR made a comment about every guild he’s been in eventually folding or being absorbed. We’ve pointed out that’s not what is happening here, the guild remains, just the game changes. And I suppose those are all the options for any MMO guild. They will have to at some point either:

  1. Move to a different game.
  2. Disband totally.
  3. Be absorbed.
MMOs don’t have unlimited lifespans, at some point they will come to an end and whilst at the moment those stalwart veterans of MMOing like Ultima Online and Everquest are still around, they won’t always be and are most definitely too stale or dated for a lot of gamers. So every guild that played those or any other MMO will at some point have to choose one of those options and that’s before you take in any other factors that impact a guild’s status. Assuming you can keep your guild together, you either evolve or die. Hmmm, an online community going through Darwin’s evolution via the mediums of pixels and voice comms. Trippy.

So with help from fellow KFers we’re about to drag ourselves through the primordial soup of another MMO launch. Delicate, fraught with issues and potentially an evolutionary dead end, oooh the drama! I reckon we’ll be fine, again. Fingers crossed :D

The Saga Of Biôrn

Discovered this great animated short film today

The Saga Of Biôrn

You just can't beat a good viking :)

Thursday 17 February 2011

If you could make an old MMO a modern classic

If you could revamp and re-release any MMO from before World of Warcraft, what would it be and why?

So we’re talking about the likes of Ultima Online, Everquest, Asheron’s Call, Anarchy Online, etc; those foundation games that developed the concepts we take for granted in modern MMORPGs. Imagine one of them getting the chance to have an up to date game engine, fancy graphics, a polished UI, the works…

My initial thought was (shock horror) Ultima Online. I first played UO sometime around 1997/8, in its relatively early days and I bloody loved it. It was a wild and dangerous game world where you just never knew what would happen and because of the ability to kill and loot other players, it was a game where the server community really mattered. It developed its own self policing community, with guilds built around murdering scum, or those defending against them and even trade guilds. There’s a lot of old UO in EVE.

Alas I just don’t think original UO can be recreated with the very different overall MMO community we have today. It was too harsh, too risky, far too broad in scope and just isn’t easily accessible enough. Plus the purple pixel obsessed gamer of today wouldn’t understand the era of UO I would want to return to, since their motive for playing wouldn’t be there. Yet the main reason I’m not picking UO is perhaps an odd one; it’s the game I have the most epic tales and awesome memories from. I don’t fancy tarnishing those memories watching some ADHD epeen retard jumping around everywhere spamming chat about WoW.

As such my regular readers will no doubt have guessed what game I’m going for…


It’s still a good game today, not without issues, but they are mainly due to its age and there is still just so much that is so bloody right about it. If DAoC’s graphics were updated and, most importantly, it had a major UI overhaul (as in every department), then I think it could step up and deliver the goods.

The oft talked about three faction RvR system works perfectly. The population auto balances itself as under populated factions battle the common enemy and every fight has a level of wonderful uncertainty. It also provides a smorgasbord of characters to choose from, it is an alt-o-holics wet dream.

The gameworld has a great feeling of being alive and is incredibly atmospheric. This is down to a combination of the varied and well executed racial themes, the art design, the sound effects, the bloody huge scale of it all and the proper day/night and weather systems. Fighting battles in the pouring rain as thunder rumbles around you… just glorious…

Whilst the RvR system is less “jump in and play” friendly than WAR’s, the DAoC campaign itself is far, FAR, FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR superior. I used to bang on about how WAR needed to work on having an epic campaign, rather than the ping pong one we’ve got and I stand by that. Yet all those years ago DAoC had it nailed. Taking keeps was a big deal and certainly in the old days, stealing a Fortress relic was a proper achievement. Then there are the details of fights themselves, the destructible walls, siege towers, properly mobile siege weapons, the truly massive frontier zones to fight in and so on.

It would be easy to wax lyrical about Darkness Falls… The classic PvP/E dungeon gets all the hype, it was (and still is) great, yet that takes away from all the other solid PvE that so often has a risk of PvP. All the frontier zones had PvE elements; I’d go so far as to say DAoC combined PvP and PvE seamlessly.

I could go on for ages about DAoC, hell I’ve posted enough about it since I started this blog. The thing is though I genuinely think it would succeed; a modern version of DAoC would have so many of us dropping everything to play it. Of course a fully realised DAoC2 would be the ultimate dream, but I reckon there is awesomeness to be found in just taking the original game and sorting out a posh up to date version. A fresh server to start from scratch on, with all the UI mod cons the modern MMO gamer expects and graphics to make me weep with joy. Yes please, DAoC revamped… That’s the one for me.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

WAR patch notes for 1.4.1 are out

Mythic's first draft before changes after PTS anyway. You can find them here. Reading them now....

Mini update... read them. Hmmmm.

Armour changes are fine, welcome even, but it still doesn't address the hidden levels nonsense or the ridiculous stats and procs. Not bold enough and it will fall way too short of what needs to be done. Sorry guys, nice attempt, but you need to go much further. Oh and if you're in Tier 2-3, if this goes live I'm sorry guys, really sorry...

Healer changes look ok to me, but Zealot and Shaman are the two I know best. Not sure about the DoK stuff really.

Scenario changes. Meh, whatever. Scens will continue to be a steamroll session for whichever side has the highest RR premade :P

Skaven changes... quite good I think. Packmaster looks like a reasonable healer now.

All the other stuff isn't making me want to comment either way really.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Kill Frenzy - Inglourious Reterds

A crack Kill Frenzy commando unit spend the evening in the woods with a flagrant disregard for basic health and safety.

War is hell.

Oh and it includes the sound of KF vent, so a few naughty words and so on..

Watch in HD here:

My fave moment captured on there was when Pvt. Khalie says "I don't know what an artillery strike is going to acheive though, the entire compound is already on fire..."


BTW if you're familiar with Arma2 you may notice the sound, particle, smoke and fire effects are rather enhanced. We're using a selection of most excellent add ons:


The dopplar effects the sound mods add are incredible.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Goodbye WAR, I'm out

I didn’t play WAR in any great length this weekend, got a few hours in here and there, but all it did was wind me up. For some reason (more so than ever before) the problems we all know about were just really in my face, repeatedly and with little respite. The highlight (or lowlight) of the misery was seeing my Scourge hit a RR90+ BW for 53, critting him for 136 and not going any higher than those numbers (he didn’t have any fancy morales on or anything…), which was amusingly terrible since I had been hitting the lowbie one next to him for 600-1k. Shortly after this I was then practically instant killed by a Slayer who hit me with 13 damaging effects, in two seconds. LOL

Mythic are going to be doing something about this, but who knows if it will be enough? It needs hitting with some seriously big changes, which I do think will happen, but not quickly enough. I honestly do not understand why the abortion that 1.4 has developed into wasn’t addressed urgently already and certainly it’s beyond me why it wasn’t done BEFORE the launch of Rift. Waiting to fix things until after loads of us have become incredibly annoyed, packed full of emo-rage and subsequently changed games seems to be a wee bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

All told, rather frustrating and not much fun. So that’s that, I’m done with playing WAR now until Mythic fix it, assuming of course that Rift hasn’t pulled me in beyond redemption. I was planning on playing WAR and RIFT, but with the game getting worse and worse every day as another person with lots of spare time dings, there seems little point. Real life dictates that I can’t play 24/7 to farm a character up to 90+ to catch up, plus I don’t want to and I resent the game forcing me in that direction. I’ve always played different alts and with a bit of careful gear tinkering I've always done fine and been able to compete even at very low RRs. The fact that the game doesn’t allow that anymore and also utterly gimped my higher RR toons, has taken a lot of WAR’s charm away for me.

Basically this has all confirmed the considerations of my WAR future that I had posted about recently. I’ll log in for some guild admin stuff, but I don’t think I’ll be playing WAR again for a good while. Rift beta next week, followed by the actual launch... In the meantime I’ll be playing Arma 2 and Bloodbowl LE with my friends and guildies.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Ahh the glory years

Nothing to do with gaming. Just well into this tune at the moment and the video is a reminder of the glory years before getting like old and stuff. The vid is a little journey through the old rave culture so bit sweary in places, if you're overly sensitive and/or lived in a rose coloured innocent world through the 90s just don't bother :P

Monday 7 February 2011

RIFT beta weekend, WAR and me... again

I’m sure people won’t be shocked to hear that I spent the weekend playing the RIFT beta. It seems like pretty much every other gamer I know did too. And it was, once again, abso-bloody-lutely great. The PvE was entertaining throughout, the PvP dramatic and enjoyable and the world itself was a pleasure to be in. This is one great looking game and my initial concerns about the art direction have been completely washed away.

For a game that is essentially not doing much new I’ve been surprised at quite how RIFT feels like a breath of fresh air, particularly once you get above level 15 or so and things really start to kick off. I think that fresh sensation is down to 3 main things.

Rifts and Invasions
With Rifts appearing anywhere at any point and then spawning invasions that rampage across the zones, they add a random element to MMORPG gaming that has been missing for a good while. You can be doing your questing, PvP roaming or whatever, everything is normal MMO fare and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and you’ve suddenly got an entirely new situation to deal with. Rifts and Invasions add a level of uncertainty and break up the standard predictable gameplay that we’ve got used to in MMOs. People are actually grouping up with strangers to deal with stuff.

A major zone wide by the forces of Death in Freemarch

I think since Warcraft that MMO PvE gaming has been incredibly dumbed down, when talking about the open world experience that is. It’s always predictable and straightforward. No matter what you’re doing you know what will happen. If you ever repeat a quest on an alt it will be identical to the time before. Not necessarily so with RIFT. If playing on a PvP server (obviously you should be :P ) not only do you as normal have enemy players to be on guard for, but you (and they) must also be ready for attack from Rifts and Invasions. And the different Rift factions will also fight each other and the mobs in the zone. So what may start as a standard PvE moment can be transformed into a 3, 4 or even 5 way fight. It really can be wonderfully chaotic.

This in turn also applies just as much to openworld PvP, you’re fighting enemy players, but who knows what nastiness might happen. It is a very aggressive game in that regard. I’ve said it before but people should always remember that DAoC is a PvP/PvE hybrid. Whenever you’re doing PvP, there is PvE around you and for a lot of the game there is the same in reverse. DAoC is NOT a PvP or PvE game, it is not a RvR game, it is ALL of those combined. Which is something Mythic need to think about with the new purely RvR focus in WAR. Go take a long hard look at DAoC and understand the myriad of reasons why we hold that game is such high esteem.

Trion have gone and done a Blizzard special
Just like Blizzard did with World of Warcraft they’ve looked at the features in other MMOs, stolen the good ones or those with potential and then improved them or at least ensured they work. Other than the soul system, RIFT does not do much that is completely new. It’s comfortably familiar and not particularly innovative, I suppose you could say like almost every MMO released since 1999 it’s just Everquest again.

Yet it still feels fresh because everything just seems to work and work well too. From the crafting that is actually worth doing, to the WAR style Warfronts, to the wide variety of ways you can gear up and so on. For example; Rifts and Invasions are a hybrid of the public quests from WAR and Tabula Rasa’s dynamic battlefields. They’ve evolved the concepts and actually made something decent. It’s not a new idea; it’s just this time it works.

It's like applying the concepts in Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do to an MMO :P

I’m pissed off and a bit jaded
There’s no escaping the purely personal impact of WAR’s recent changes. It’s seriously pissed me off because it is just not the same game anymore. It can be redeemed, but until Mythic get rid of the ridiculous level 41-43 boost, the increased stat caps and insane stats on the RR90-100 armour I can only consider WAR’s PvP as totally broken. It has all gone too far. People claim you can level 40-80 in a week and still maintain a real life, but they are either liars or have absolutely no perception of how much they actually play. Of course the people running round instant killing people don’t see any issues, everyone else is just a whiner :P And regardless of getting to 80, it’s still gone to crap when you look at the difference between 80 and 90+.

Plus the super zergy campaign we see with double 4+ star keeps is just not much fun. I did ask in the Mythic live Q&A prior to 1.4 if keeps would degrade if the supply lines from BOs was not maintained, Mythic seemed surprised at the question and said no.

I did a tomb the other day, Tomb of the Moon I believe is the name; a one room, one boss and just 2 adds PvE instance. The adds bugged three times with the auras not appearing (yes we all has gfx set corectly) and then on the fourth time as we entered the instance, our DoK was for some reason put into a different instance to the rest of us. We gave up. A one room, one boss PvE instance should not be bugged like that. I've done 3 dungeons in RIFT so far and they have all been flawless, in a beta test, flawless.

Unfortunately pretty much everyone I know is feeling the same way about WAR.

So while I really like RIFT, I am also aware that I am incredibly disappointed with where WAR is right now and that can make anything different feel refreshing. Particularly if that other game is incredibly polished, runs well and has interesting new things to look at…  Yet maybe RIFT isn't as good as it seems? I'm obviously biased by how annoyed at WAR I am. Objectivity doesn't mix well with irritation.

Now it may well turn out that long term RIFT isn’t for me, perhaps invasions will get old, or the end game and PvP won’t live up to expectations. Who can tell? But I am starting to think that I will be taking more of a break from WAR than originally planned while I give RIFT a good shot. I’ll still be keeping my WAR account active, writing about the game and will mooch about on it a bit, but once RIFT comes out I doubt I will be playing WAR on anywhere near such a regular basis. At least for a month or two anyway, after that, who knows? It really depends on Mythic and what they do, or don’t do. Perhaps RIFT will just be a nice distraction while my frustrations with WAR simmer down and Mythic do a phoenix from the flames. Or perhaps not, we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to get properly started in RIFT. BTW I decided on class. I'm going Rogue and will be mainly messing around with a Riftstalker... I'll post why I've been captivated by that particular soul another time.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel or a false dawn?

Mykiel had a trip to Mythic’s office today and got to talk with WAR’s developer about the future of WAR. You can read his post here. Unfortunately he’s had to sign an NDA and hasn’t actually got anything he can tell us other than the vague “I was really surprised with what I heard” and “Good Stuff is coming”. Yeah, I know, we’ve all heard it before and been let down hard. FAR too many false dawns in the past, but even so let’s not write it off for now. He's not on their payroll so he's got to be at least a little bit confident in what they've told him.

Mykiel also informs us that we’ll hear the news in the next couple of weeks, which with the imminent release of RIFT is about all the time Mythic have left if they want to retain the subscriptions of what looks to be a large number of their current players. Unless of course Rift has serious issues, which isn’t looking overly likely but you can never be sure, but even then there is absolutely no guarantee people would return to WAR. Mythic need to provide incentive and make the game attractive again.

It’s important to remember that people do want to be happy with WAR, it’s a game we’ve put time and effort into, it has a great IP and it’s always had so much (mainly unreached) potential. We’ve been playing it for 2 years after all, hopeing... I would say it remains redeemable too, that is if Mythic have the backing and balls to do so. It sounds like over the next couple of weeks we’ll find out if they have.

Today I am mostly...

...listening to Devotchka

and eating..

Wednesday 2 February 2011

RIFT - starting faction

The next beta event for RIFT kicks off tomorrow and I’m in looking forward to it, but at the same time I’m hesitant about playing too much. Just a case of not wanting to overplay it during beta really, when obviously I’ll be repeating the content once the game launches. Well, probably anyway. My choice of starting faction is not so set in stone right now, as we’re very wary of ending up on the overpopulated faction.

From the betas and forum polls it looks like that will be Defiant, which is a shame because that was the faction I liked the visuals for, but I think you need to be pragmatic about these things and choose what will provide the best long term gameplay experience. If like us you’ve got a heavy interest in PvP, then obviously it makes sense to pick the side that is the underdog so you get the quickest warfront (scenario) pops and have more opportunities for sneaky git open world PvP entertainment. It must be nice for the pure PvE types who don't have to worry about any of this, because it really is quite an important choice, unless re-rolling is something you have the time and inclination to do. We have considered doing that if required, but it's a pain in the arse so a bit of a last resort really.

So as much as I like the look of the Defiant stuff, I’ll glady going with Guardians if that continues to look the better option. Though I must say the Guardian starter areas do look great, their city of Sanctum is rather posh and they have very cool looking mounts at level 20 (not as good as the Defiant level 40 mounts mind you…). Hmmm, not really a hardship, yet for some (strange I know) reason I struggle with how the dwarves have stupidly large hands. It's distracting and kinda disturbing in a screwed up way.

Anyway, whatever we go with, I just want to get started now.

A mixture of WAR news for you good folks…

Firstly Andy Belford has left Bioware Mythic for a new opportunity elsewhere. As he puts it on Twitter:

Jumping on the go west mentality...I'm no longer with BioWare Mythic. I'm moving closer to the family and have a great new opportunity.
Thanks to the WAR and DAOC communities for the last 2+ years. Thank to Mythic for all of the amazing opportunities. I'll forever be grateful.

The WAR community over the years has had a lot to say about Andy, alas mainly ill informed bollocks to be honest. Probably thanks to him being the main voice of Mythic and people forgetting the old expression “don’t shoot the messenger”. Andy was the community manager, not general manager, lead developer, etc and would have guidelines and restrictions to work within.

Having actually met Andy in real life I can safely say he genuinely cared about the game and it’s players, can handle a drink and of most importantly is a really sound bloke. I’ve got a lot of time for Andy and I’m sure the WAR community will be worse off without him around. So good luck with whatever it is you’ve got racked up old boy, I’ll see ya in the pub ASAP :D


In other news, the DoK/WP changes are up for discussion here:

I must admit I’m not familiar enough with the workings off the class to know how good these changes are. Reckon I need to look at them while logged in with my DoK to get my head round them. I’ll leave proper feedback though to people that seriously play the careers.

[edit ] Forgot to say.. If you are interested in the DoK/WP changes and have any constructive feedback, please, please post in that thread. I don't know if you've noticed but recently Mythic developers are properly replying and discussing player's feedback and idea. The amended healer changes I mentioned the other day are based directly on player suggestions and feedback. So get involved if you give a toss. [/edit ]

About Me

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