Friday 30 December 2011

MWO - Mech no5 revealed

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Holidays and stuff

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

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

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

 :) lol

Wednesday 21 December 2011

WAR Producer update

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

Now I shall return to sticking lightsabers up Jawa arse.

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

Greetings all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

James Casey

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

Sunday 18 December 2011

Nar Shaddaa - How rude!!

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

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

Friday 16 December 2011

SWTOR 2 days later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 14 December 2011

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

...then you must be an utter twat.

That is all.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 8 December 2011

SWTOR, MWO and X news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 6 December 2011

3 posts in one day? Doctor Who demands it!

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

CCP sure know how to make trailers

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

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

Damn them. I want to resub now.

Tribes: Ascend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 4 December 2011

SWTOR vs WoW: Battle of the Bears?

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

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

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

Normally she plays Club Penguin.

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

Now, would you feel excited or a little patronised?

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

Saturday 3 December 2011

Lag problems

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 2 December 2011

MWO - Cockpit view concept art

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

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

About Me

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