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

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