Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Predictions for 2009

1. The economy will not "collapse", but it isn't going to get better until the governments of the world leave it to the free market to correct itself.

2. The weak economy will encourage smaller, fiscally responsible game development projects. This will lead to a bunch of interesting stuff coming out in the MMO space, whether technically massively multiplayer or not is yet to be seen.

3. Even with number 2, subscription based MMOs will still be king of the revenue stream at the end of 2009. Thank World of Warcraft for giving MMO developers false hope everywhere.

4. World of Warcraft will not get a new expansion, but something will be announced. It will focus more on new hero classes, the Alliance vs Horde conflict, and high end raiding.

5. WAR will still be around by the end of 2009, but who remains around to develop it may be drastically different.

6. More MMOs will close their doors. The true sign of doom will be when SOE starts closing down some of its B-team living painfully on Station Pass.

7. Speaking of SOE. The doom and gloom continues as SOE continues to push RMT practices on its non-RMT games.

8. An MMO project will come out of left field this year and surprise us all. Scott Jennings may or may not be involved, but he’ll blog about it regardless.

9. The world will end if Diablo III and Starcraft II are both launched in 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wrong!

Its that time of year where we all pull up our predictions for the past year and see how WRONG we were.

1. 2008 will be a year of announcements for MMOs. 38 studios, Bioware, Zenimax, Red 5, and many other studios will all announce their MMO projects. Some will come out of left field, while others will just confirm current rumors.


Alright, we know about Star Wars: The Old Republic from Bioware. That's about it.

2. 2008 will be a year of launches for delayed games. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Age of Conan, and Pirates of the Burning Sea will all finally launch. WAR will be the only big success in the group.


I got one correct at least. All three games launched, but the jury is out on whether WAR will be a success post-launch.

3. 2008 will NOT be a year for micro-transaction or RMT based games. RMT and micro-transactions will take another hit as WAR launches and proves the monthly subscription model is still king of the hill for revenue. RMT and micro-transactions will turn a profit, but only in accounting terms. The model will barely break-even in economic terms.


Not really sure where to place this one. I was right that RMT/micro-transactions still don't bring in a ton of revenue, but on the other hand, the games are fairly successful numbers wise. Wizards 101 launched this year with the micro-transaction model and is doing quite well. SOE is still forcing Everquest 1 & 2 players to be guinea pigs for the RMT model. Maple Story still has more players than World of Warcraft. So, financially great? No. Successful? Yes.

4. 2008 will be a year of web-games. Already popular web-games will continue to grow. New web-games will launch. None of them will challenge the revenue generation of monthly subscription or box sale titles. All will be susceptible to any sort of web 2.0 wrinkles.


Some big web games are out there from years prior, but nothing blockbuster this year. Maybe this will change in 2009 with Quake Live or whenever Metaplace roles out.

5. 2008 will not be a good year for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). SOE is closing out 2007 in grand fashion: developer scandals, buyout rumors, and reportedly falling subscriptions. Two of which, the buyout and falling subscriptions, have been denied repeatedly. Tack this onto SOE's shift in revenue models and 2008 doesn't look pretty. Grimwell, I await your response :)


SOE didn't fold, but it isn't apparent how well they did. Personally, any company that sanctions RMT in their previously not-RMT games is showing signs of desperation. I'll give myself a pass on this one.

6. 2008 will be a Dark year. Dark Age of Camelot will feel increasing pressure this year as WAR launches and replaces the Realm vs. Realm gameplay model with a newer and fresher version.


DAoC took a huge hit when WAR launched, but it looks like many players are back in DAoC, happily bashing each other's heads in. DAoC Origins is still in the works, showing that DAoC still has life left. However, Mythic is awfully quiet about Origins lately.

7. 2008 will be a Cold year. Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft's second expansion, will launch late in the year. It will be successful, but will fall short of the success of The Burning Crusade. China will not see the expansion until 2009.


I was wrong. It appears the Internets still loves World of Warcraft; Wrath of the Lich King breaking all sorts of sales records. The reviews so far are favorable and WotLK has lead to an increase to 11.5 million players. WoW will never cease to amaze me.

8. 2008 will be a year of MMO podcasting. MMO podcasting has picked up over the last couple of years, but 2008 will bring it into the limelight as more commercially driven entities enter the market. Unfortunately, popularity will remain in the hands of the "weekend warriors", not the commercially driven podcasts.


MMO Podcasting has taken off. Good MMO Podcasts are a dime-a-dozen and that's a good thing.

9. 2008 will be a year of lawyering. From the RIAA chasing grandmas with MP3s to IGE's potential criminal investigation, 2008 will be an unprecedented year for lawyers entering the online-circus. Expect to see some major court cases develop over the year, but don't expect them to finish before the year is out.


Actually, the big news of 2008 is that the RIAA has decided to stop suing their customers out of existence, instead favoring working with ISPs to block the sources of pirated materials.

10. 2008 will not be a good year for Gax-Online. This is a personal pick. The dog and pony show holding up Gax-Online will finally realize they have become what they've always chastised, sending them into a cataclysmic tailspin. Or, they'll sell out the second someone offers them half a donut and a cup'o'joe.


I don't care enough to bother looking to see if this disaster of a website is still running. The only people I know that were using the website, are no longer doing so and that is a WIN in my book.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

LOLcat Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Massively: Kicking WAR in the Balls since '08

Massively is at it again, kicking Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning in the nards.
In a recent article on Gamasutra, Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz discussed EA's disappointing performance of late, blaming the software giant's "inability to develop hit core-gamer console titles". This has led to him significantly lowering his estimates for their 2009 earnings. The analyst's reportings are fairly doom-and-gloom, but he did mention A New Hope for the company: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

EA acquired BioWare, the developers of SWTOR, back in October last year. Creutz is of the belief that EA has really messed up their console campaign this generation, and SWTOR could be the "best chance" they have to increase profitability -- that is, if it can hold its own against the reigning champ World of Warcraft. We have faith that BioWare will be able to bring out a quality MMO, and you couldn't ask for a better IP. It really all depends on how well the title will have to do to be of any use to EA -- obviously better than Warhammer Online, which did not even earn a mention in the analyst's report.
Well, not sure I can really blame Massively for including that info, but I still hold true that Massively is full of crap reporters. Get to the news, fuck the commentary on hard news, that's what comments are for.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Update: Epic Fail Mythic and Three Things to Keep Me Interested

Back in October, I had a rough time with Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR). I wanted to take some time to give an update to my two damning posts.

First, an update to Epic Fail Mythic. To start off, I have moved on to Tier 4 and transferred my characters from Averheim to Badlands.

On a good note, lairs are now re-itemized and most lair bosses drop some pretty phat loots. I have only done a couple of lairs since the changes and the loot was very rewarding for the difficulty of the encounters. Along with update lair loot, a lot of armor sets received updates and are now actually justifiable to use over random green gear.

AOE farm groups are a normal occurrence and dominate the field with a plethora of overpowered AOE crowd control skills. Compounding this issue are the massive zergs of players running around in Tier 4, ensuring every battle is a lesson in frustration instead of fun. Even with slight nerfs and fixes to the core AOE farm abilities, they are still overpowered. Mythic must remove these from the game completely or risk losing more players because of them.

Apothecary is still laughably bad, but since multiple server transfers have lead to a higher population on Badlands, basic crafting components are readily available making it a little less painful.

To end on a good note, RvR outside of scenarios rewards a lot better experience now and is almost viable as a leveling strategy. Combined with boosted leveling speed in Tier 3 and 4, Mythic may just save WAR as an RvR game.

Three Things to Keep Me Interested was the title of my second anger-filled post.

1. As stated above, magnet abilities such as Electromagnet or Chaotic Rift must be removed from the game or people will continue to quit. Electromagnet and Rift are AOE versions, but it is increasing becoming obvious that the single target versions such as the White Lion's fetch will need to be removed as well. They do not belong in this game.

2. The open-world RvR zones have received an update. Small grind meters, known as Open RvR Influence, have been added to encourage players to venture out and kill each other in open-world zones for epic shinnies. Unfortunately, Mythic still refuses to add anything meaningful to keep players engaged and active in the open-world RvR zones. The "live event quests" are a start, but are passive activities at best. Mythic needs to add real, meaningful, and active content to these zones.

3. Scenarios are still a source of grind. Mythic slowed down the worst scenarios, but they are still an issue. They still reward far too much experience for damage/healing instead of winning, a fatal flaw that will continue to make me question whether Mythic spent enough time thinking out the grand scheme of RvR in WAR. Fortunately, open-RvR rewards are significantly better and offer a viable side-attraction to scenarios.

Mythic is doing well with updates, but unfortunately it does show that WAR needed a few more months in the cooker. And don't let this post fool you, WAR's #1 problem is still end-game performance. It is still completely UNPLAYABLE, but Mythic is getting closer to a resolution. Then they might be able to move onto making the actual end-game combat something players can enjoy.

PS. Mythic, come Jan 20th, I am still canceling. WAR is far from a good game in it's current state.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The OLD Republic

Bioware has released the first gameplay video for Star Wars: The Old Republic, but unfortunately they say one thing and show another.

The developer interviews in the video talk about exciting, action-packed combat. Thirty seconds later, actual combat is shown from the game. Characters stand still, spam some abilities, hit some air, all while their intended target stands there and takes it; flailing limbs included.

I'm sorry Bioware, but for a first, this video sucks. Give us something that will make us believe this game won't just be a Star Wars wrapper over the cliche that is MMO combat. The OLD republic indeed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Anyone Honestly Surprised?

Imagine that, big-time exploiters ousted in EVE Online.
CCP Games has uncovered an exploit in Eve Online that survived in the game for 4 years and may have had a massive impact on the game and game economy. The exploit allowed player owned stations (POS) to generate massive amounts of resources without much work (basically, the game would automatically fill the station's storage silos overnight).
It just goes to show that no amount of economists or player councils can stop the scum of the MMO universe. I was kind of amazed that EVE escaped the massive player-banking scam not too long ago and I suspect the same will happen here. EVE players are just too blinded to realize CCP is the MMO equivalent of the Illinois government.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not A Good Time For Failing MMOs

Tabula Rasa is going the way of the dodo. Age of Conan may be following as well: Age of Conan Servers To Merge, Funcom Sees Layoffs.
Two ominous signs have come recently for Age of Conan fans; developer Funcom went through a round of layoffs, and they announced plans to merge some of the game's servers in order to maintain a "healthy" population. Despite this, Funcom has maintained that development will continue for both the PC version and the upcoming Xbox 360 version of the game, confident that Age of Conan won't follow Tabula Rasa into oblivion. A writer at Vox ex Machina doesn't share that view, pointing to several of the game's flaws as reasons why it didn't maintain the popularity it enjoyed at launch.

Tough economic times call for tough measures, but a little voice in the back of my head keeps telling me these games probably wouldn't survive even in the best of economic times. I wonder which game will be next...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Left 4 Dead: Boomer Tips and Tricks

I have started playing Left 4 Dead, Valve's new slaughter-the-zombie-hordes co-op shooter. It is a terrifyingly fun game to blow a few minutes on, whether playing against or alongside other players. The more I play, the more I feel like I am not using the Infected (zombies) classes very well, so I went in search of some tips.

I found a very detailed thread on the Boomer class over on the official Steam forums. I have saved a copy below:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sorry About the AFK

Sorry everyone about the silence lately here on this blog. I'm guessing most of my Constant Readers know the reasons why I am so quiet lately. Have no fear though, I have a big post coming up and I think the Internets will absolutely love it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Off the Mark

Mark Jacobs outlined upcoming changes to Warhammer Online's open RvR game play. However, Mark simply missed the mark in regards to the true root of the problems plaguing WAR.

The first thing Mark needed to address in his outline was the performance issue. None of the features listed will mean a damn thing if the zones don't stop crashing and players can actually COMPLETE the end game objectives. Every single resource Mythic has needs to be focused on resolving this issue. I posted this thought on the VN WAR message boards, but the thread was locked. However, the last reply before the lock intrigued me.
So basically you want, the combat and career team, the web development team, the quest team, the gui team, and all the other various teams that work on WAR to sit around and look over the client/server/dba engineer teams shoulder while they work on performance?
Yes, every single development team needs to review their respective systems and determine what can be done to improve the performance of WAR. Without resolving this single issue, WAR will not survive long enough to see the other changes into fruition.

The second thing Mark needed to address was the fact that victory is impossible to achieve when enemy warcamps are placed within spitting distance of each other. Victory is important in a game designed around sieging an enemy city. Victory can not be had when the enemies are back on the battlefield seconds after being defeated. Stating that they are actively going to make it easier to get to the fight shows a fundamental flaw and a leaning towards an instant gratification strategy.

It's a double whammy. Mythic wants to encourage more people to get into open RvR and make it easier for them to get there, but they don't want to admit that their game's technical performance is not up to par. Yes, Mythic is probably working hard on resolving the performance glitches, but they need to shut up and admit the problem exists and dedicate every single resource to slaying the beast. Beating around the bush just pisses players off and we're leaving in droves because of it.

Mythic, WAR is UNPLAYABLE in it's current state. New features can not fix bad performance.

With that said, I'm glad they at least are planning new features and should they actually fix the performance problem, WAR will be a much better game. I just don't see the performance issue getting fixed any time soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Guild o' the Week!

I hear these guys are really cool.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Did something big happen today?

I can't help but feel I've missed something big happening today. Oh well, couldn't of been that important.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

History

Congrats to Obama. He won a fair fight.

Obama won because he wasn't the standard politician. All I ask is that governs fairly and honestly towards his campaign promises, or he will become just another politician. That is the last thing America needs.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Book Thoughts: Elantris


Title: Elantris
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (May 30, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: A one volume epic fantasy worth reading.

I have to admit the only reason I picked up Elantris was due to the announcement that Brandon Sanderson would be writing the twelfth, and final, book in the Wheel of Time series. Along with favorable reviews, and the fact that the story begins and ends in a single book, really sold it to me as a book worth reading to get a measure of Sanderson’s abilities.

The main point to understand about Elantris is that it is an epic fantasy tale wrapped up in under a thousand pages. It covers the gambit as far as epic fantasy goes. There is the hero, the villain, the princess, a story, and most of all, the fantastical world.

Elantris, located in the nation of Arelon, is more than the title of the book, it is the name of a magical city that ten years prior stopped being magical. Outside of Elantris is the smaller, non-magical city of Kae, newly revitalized in the wake of the downfall of Elantris and now the center of Arelon’s monarchy.

Elantris serves as a prison, housing those unfortunate enough to be afflicted by the magic that once made the city and the Elantrians great. The book begins as Raoden, the prince of Arelon, becomes afflicted with this magic and is cast into the crumbling city of Elantris. The story excels from that point forwad. Every chapter spent in Elantris is well worth the reader’s time.

Outside of Elantris, two other points of view are followed: Raoden’s widowed-before-the-wedding wife, Sarene, and Hrathen, priest sent to convert the non-believers of Arelon. While Raoden struggles within Elantris, Sarene and Hrathen battle politically in the city of Kae.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters involving Raoden and the overall story line of the book. However, the chapters involving Sarene and Hrathen take a while to become enjoyable. Sarene is just too much of a stereotypical feminist, while Hrathen is the obvious conflicted bad guy. I did enjoy Hrathen overall, but the most interesting aspect of Hrathen was his back-story which I would not have minded more of.

Fortunately, towards the end of the book, the three characters become entwined together in the chapters and the pace picks up significantly. The plot spins down quickly and an expected, but well-executed, ending unfolds.

Overall, the book serves its purpose as a one-book epic fantasy tale. More back story on Hrathen would have been nice and the pacing could have been smoother. It was refreshing to read a book without having to worry about the next book in the series. Elantris tells a great story that begins and ends within a thousand pages. Quite a feat in an otherwise bloated fantasy genre, especially for an author tagged with the responsibility to conclude one of the most bloated epic fantasy series out there.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Witching Night

Happy Witching Night! Hope everyone had fun. Unfortunately, I didn't get to participate in any of the RvR Public Quests, but I did win a roll on a mask drop!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Three Things to Keep Me Interested

In my previous post, I gave Mythic three months to get WAR straightened out. Now, I want to list the three things that MUST change in order for me to stick with WAR and not, sadly, go back to WoW.

1. Magus/Engineer "magnet" abilities removed from the game completely or limited to a single target only.

2. Open-world RvR zones populated with PvE content such as PQs and normal quest hubs.

3. Experience and renown gain reworked in scenarios. Scenarios should reward based on wins and losses ONLY, not upon how much damage or how many kills a player nets. Scenarios are fun, but due to how rewards are doled out, only the fastest-played and most-kills scenarios get played. This has to change.

Mythic already has a start on #2 with their upcoming Halloween event, but I am not impressed by their plans to have the Public Quests in open-world RvR zones respawn once every few hours instead of after two minutes like EVERY OTHER PQ IN THE GAME.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Epic Fail Mythic

Warhammer is getting on my nerves. A great game wasted by so many small, annoying bugs and inconsistencies that I won't argue with anyone who is leaving the game because of them.

This morning was a perfect example of how WAR can be a HORRIBLE MMO to play.

1. Morning kicks off with some Tier 3 scenarios. Not bad until an AOE farm group shows up and starts winning every single one 500 to 0, and on a Sunday morning, they are the only group playing.

2. Guild group forms up and heads off to take some Tier 3 objectives. No destruction show up to defend or attack back. Thanks, I'll take my free renown.

3. Guild group goes off to a lair to see if its open. It is, and we head in, but the Hero owns our group.

4. We put out a call and formed a larger warband to go back into the lair.

5. While waiting on players to form up for the lair, we do a PQ at Grimbeard station. An hour of grinding 125 slowly spawning NPCs and the damn PQ drops only green bags. Not a single item that any of us will actually use. Some because the item is too high level, others because it is absolute crap compared to the E-Z mode gear we have from renown ranks.

6. After finishing the PQ we head back to the lair, wait a few minutes for bio breaks and the like.

7. We dominate the Hero in the lair. NO LOOT DROPS.

8. So we head back to retake objectives that were taken. No destruction defending. We take the objective easily. We jam up the door to the building with the flag. Destruction shows up with just over a full group. Chaos Magus up front who magnet pulls our entire warband out of the building into a nice little pile... AOE... and our entire warband wiped out in the time it takes to kill one player.

9. I figure I can do some apothecary to up my potion supply. Unfortunately, water drops slowly and rarely, and two are required to make every potion. On top of that, my skill and materials are too high, so all the potions I make are too high level for me to use. Plus, the potions strength is WEAKER than what I was making 100 skill points ago.

10. For all this trouble, I gained approximately 20,000 experience, 2,000 renown, and 5 apothecary skill points. That is four hours of play approximately. I could of gotten that in twenty minutes from scenarios.

Mythic, I subscribed for three months. This is my formal notification that I am done after that three months unless drastic changs are made to class balance, RvR zones, and the thousand other small bugs plaguing this game.

A True RvR Zone

I died a little bit inside when I thought about posting this, but I just have to do it.

Wingergrasp, a true RvR zone.

Sadly it is not found in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Wintergrasp will be part of World of Warcraft's upcoming expansion: Wrath of the Lich King. The notes on Wintergrasp are the things I expected out of WAR's RvR areas, but sadly have not found.

Now, just because Blizzard is beating Mythic at their own game with a single zone, does not mean WoW is suddenly a RvR game. Wintergrasp will suffer the same fate in WoW that other open world PvP objectives have suffered: Wintergrasp will not be worth anyone's time compared to battleground or arena grinding.

So, Blizzard gets a +1 for open world PvP, but a -1 for letting instanced content dominate open world content. Mythic, take notes, learn, and come December; patch 1.1 better do SOMETHING to open RvR zones other than giving more experience per kill. Give us a fucking reason to be there other than the keeps.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vote for One of Two Choices

Vote 1 for:























Vote 2 for:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Thoughts: Black Powder War (Temeraire, Book 3)


Title: Black Powder War
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History
Publisher: Del Rey (May 30, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: If you weren't sure after Book 2, don't continue. Worth reading if you've enjoyed the series.

I'm very conflicted about the third book in the Temeraire series. With a title such as Black Powder War, I thought I may finally see some dragons put to use in the massive battles of the Napoleonic era. Unfortunately, whether it be ship, sickness, cargo duty, or weather, dragons sit on the sidelines.

Once again, the strength of the book is Novik's ability to place dragons admirably into the time period. The way they operate in the military and society makes absolute sense. The difference between various countries and their dragons is well detailed and refreshing.

However, past the melding of dragons into the military and society of the time period, there isn't much to this book. Our hero and his dragon are on their way back from China (a far more interesting country in this alternate universe). They receive urgent news to detour and pick up some dragon eggs purchased from the government of Turkey. Some traveling ensues, blah, blah, blah.

Actually, there is only one thing that saved this book for me: Tharkay. Tharkay is by far the most interesting character in the book (maybe even the series) and is first introduced as a messenger delivering the orders that would eventually spur the journey into Istanbul, Turkey. Tharkay is a classic rogue character, remaining a mystery until the end of the book.

Unfortunately, the truth of Tharkay is wasted on a horribly trivial "save the day for people we don't even care about" ending. The entire end of the book is a let down. At least in Throne of Jade, the long painful journey lead up to a wonderful climatic ending. Not so in Black Powder War. I was absolutely bored by the scenario that ended up playing out, almost angered at the way Tharkay was brought back into the storyline.

Overall, the book reads as well as the first two, but is about as engaging as the paragraph noted on the back of the book. The story isn't what kept me reading through this series. It was the dragons, how they lived, and how people lived with them. However, by the third book I guess I expected some sort of story to conclude. Nothing concluded, and a true good vs. evil plot line just began to emerge. Unfortunately, not enough of one to spur me on to the next book in the series.

My honest opinion: this series is best finished at the end of Throne of Jade.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Warhammer in Decline?

Warhammer launched well. 750,000 people well. However, since that fateful announcement, various numbers have started to trickle in showing WAR may not be doing so well keeping those 750,000 logged in.

First off, Blizzard is spouting off:
While a number of World of Warcraft users dropped the widely popular MMO to play EA's recently released Warhammer Online, more than half of those gamers have already returned to Blizzard's market-leader.
Hmmmm... the market-leader downplaying the success of a competitor. Maybe we'll just throw this away.

Next, the ever-faithful Xfire provides a nice history track that shows WAR total play times declining among Xfire users. While not hard evidence that WAR may be in decline, Xfire declines were an early indicator during Age of Conan's post-launch collapse. However, some people will always try and use Xfire stats to make some noise.
The decline continues. Whether people like it or not. You can make unfounded claims all you want that Xfire is not representative but until someone cab provide empirical evidence Xfire isn't representative you're just waving your fanboi pom poms in the air.

I want WAR to succeed and I am worried about the trend line that continues its steady decline.

What is it going to take to turn this thing around?

- Scenarios have effectively destroyed open world RvR.
- The "magnet" abilities are destroying what RvR is happening.
- What meager open world RvR manages to survive the anemic number of open RvR players and magnet idiocy ends up being not worth it due to the inferior rewards for such activities.

WARHAMMER IS DYING A SLOW DEATH BECAUSE THE CENTRAL ACTIVITY AROUND WHICH WAR HAS BEEN DESIGNED, I.E. "WAR", IS NOT HAPPENING!
My take?

WAR is in decline. Why? Because it is not the game MANY players expected, on both sides of the fence. WAR is a good game, just not the best game in any category. WAR is destined for a core audience that enjoys the Realm vs Realm. No one will be sticking around for the other parts (partly because everyone is in Scenarios and therefore nothing else gets touched, but thats for another blog post).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fail: Altdorf Falls on Averheim

I have been quiet for some time around here. My free time has been limited and I've chosen to spend it playing WAR. I have the basis for several blog posts regarding WAR's launch laid out in my head. I just haven't gotten to them. However, a situation on my server, Averheim, has prompted this post.

Altdorf, Order's capital city, fell into Contested at the hands of a 3 AM Sunday morning Destruction raid. In a matter of hours, Order went from sitting pretty, to completely annihilated. A feat yet to be accomplished anywhere in WAR. Sure, some other servers exploited there ways to Altdorf earlier in the week, but none had pushed to the King.

Now, Emperor Karl Franz did not fall to the Destruction zerg, but that isn't the point. The fact is, Mark Jacobs had just gotten done stating it was far too early for Altdorf to get thrown into a contested state. Mark Jacobs, as all MMO developers, underestimated the player base and was horribly wrong. There isn't an MMO out there that has proven the MMO player base wrong. Hardcore players ALWAYS finish first and ALWAYS push the end game months ahead of schedule.

I could talk about conspiracy theories as to how Destruction exploited their way through Tier 4. I could argue population imbalances until the cows come home. I could pretend I don't care, because I'm still Rank 22 on my Ironbreaker, which is a long way from being able to participate in the defense of Altdorf.

The fact is, Destruction on Averheim is down-right organized and efficient. The Alliance of guilds that took part in the attempt should be commended. It was well planned and well executed, and from all accounts, it was a damn bit easier than even they had thought. Kudos to them.

My brain hurts thinking about how easily this occurred. The majority of the attackers were not Rank 40, were definitely not geared up, and are still learning the game. Mythic should be flat out embarrassed that a group like this was able to zerg roll an entire server at 3 AM on a Sunday morning.

Saddest part, the free month isn't even up. What was originally planned to have taken a year, has occurred in weeks. Mythic is racing against the clock now. Good luck Mythic.

Fortunately, Mythic saved this from being an Epic fail. WAR's end game at least worked. Sorry Age of Conan, the Epic Fail crown is still yours to behold.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blizthic

Rarely do I agree with Syncaine, but I can't help but laugh along with him on his recent post: Blizzard’s new focus for WoW, just as soon as Mythic finishes it.

PS. Sorry for my silence as of late, will hopefully get some time to post some WAR-related goodies soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Here. We. Go.

Now the Fun Begins is the title of Jack Thompson's e-mail announcing his official disbarment from practicing law in Florida.
In a four-page written order, the Florida Supreme Court today affirmed a referee's recommendation to permanently disbar controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson.

The action, which takes effect in 30 days, means that Thompson will no longer be licensed to practice law and may not apply for reinstatement. Ever.
And after reading the article, all I saw in my head was the Joker in The Dark Knight going "Here. We. Go.".

For some reason, I don't think this is the last we'll be hearing from Mr. Thompson. He just won't have the legal clout to back his idiocy up any longer. Essentially, he becomes like the rest of us on the Internet, no laws to hold his vitriol back. Not that he followed any laws in the first place.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Thoughts: Throne of Jade (Temeraire, Book 2)


Title: Throne of Jade
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History
Publisher: Del Rey (April 25, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: Good read for those interested, but slow pacing in the middle.

The phrase, “it’s all about the journey” perfectly describes Throne of Jade, book 2 in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. The book chronicles the journey to the far off lands of China by the dragon Tremeraire, his crew, and his Captain; Will Laurence. Once again, Novik does a wonderful job of weaving dragons into a period of history best known for ships, soldiers, and war. As in the first book, the strength of Throne of Jade lies in the detail of dragon interactions within society and the military, boosted by the fact that this book partly takes place in a very different Chinese society.

Unfortunately, getting to the immense and interesting nation of China takes some time and by the end of the book China feels wholly unexplored. While I do appreciate a more detailed account of the journey to China, via a sea-faring dragon carrier, I can’t help but admit I was longing for Novik’s “and a few weeks later” approach of the first book. There are definite flat spots in both action and pacing, with a tacked-on-feeling action sequence at the beginning of the book.

Fortunately, the plot is solid and ties together in the end. This makes up for the boring reading in the middle. It took me a while to get through that middle, but I feel rewarded for sticking it out. Throne of Jade introduces a wonderful new enemy into the mix outside of Britain’s current nemesis of Napolean and France.

The next book in the series, Black Powder War, picks up shortly after where Throne of Jade leaves off and I am ready to see it through to conclusion. If there is any sign of a good book, it is in the Throne of Jade’s ability to intrigue me enough to pick up and read the next in the series, just as book 1 brought me to Throne of Jade.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Warhammer, I

Heartles - Badlands - Ironbreaker

Bring it bitches.

Yes, I know there is an s missing. Stupid server transfers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Age of Commenting

Half of reading is comprehension. A certain member of the MMO blogosphere is confusing MMOs with politics, where 30 second sound-bites are all that matter. Sadly, that is the trend on the Internet we seem to be posting in as MMO bloggers. Anything posted past a good Bartlism is considered a wall of text. Every blogger wants to write a wall of text, but not many of them want to actually read one. Those of us that do, usually leave a comment and form the core of the MMO blogosphere. Those that don’t read, quote the part that caught their attention for two seconds and proclaim that the sky is falling.

This comes full circle when one religious commenter, with too much free-time, collects a few quotes, takes them out of context, and tries to make a point. All while going ‘nah nah nah. I can’t hear you’. Not having learned their lesson, they do it again. Before we know it, several bloggers are flooded by this one insignificant commenter who has no purpose other than to quote Bartlisms and go “HA! Gotch ya!”. Of course, they couldn’t have anything until they make an actual point, but that doesn’t stop them.

There is no victory to be had against ignorance and bias. The best we can do is point at them, laugh, and then slap a /ignore on them until they are blue in the face from holding their breath. Eventually they will pass out.

Without further ado, Openedge, /point /laugh /ignore

Monday, September 15, 2008

Head Starts DO NOT Work

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has "soft launched" a head start program for Collector's Edition pre-order players. Unfortunately, the server selection for the head start was very small in scope. To no one's surprise, the servers filled up fast and the complaints came rolling in. Unfortunately for Mythic, it has quickly passed the point of just adding servers to fix the problem.

Many of the head start players have entire guilds following in their wake. Head start servers are going to be near impossible to play at launch with the crush of players attempting to hook up with their guilds. Queue times will be hours long at the start.

Mythic screwed up. There was no reason for them to narrow the server selection for head start. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that restricting server selection for head start players would severely over populate them. It is a sad day when players already up and running on the head start servers have to actively debate if they should just treat the head start as another open beta period, with little chance they will actually play their current character for the long term.

Mythic has been great throughout the development of WAR. I have no fucking clue why launch has shown their ass. I guess it had to happen at some point.

The lesson should be learned: head starts DO NOT WORK for MMOs.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Job Going Well

My new job has been going well. I understand the WAN side of computer networking a lot more and that is just after a few days on the job.

Unfortunately, I have no time to do anything else and with the WAR launch coming up soon, I'm a bit bummed out about that. However, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Monday, September 08, 2008

New Job Incoming

I begin my new job tomorrow. Its a pay increase, but a downgrade in fun. No more forums, IRC, instant messaging, or web surfing during work hours. Just work. Oh well, thus is part of the quest for more foozles.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Favre Average, Man"genius" an Idiot

The New York Jets took home a win today against the Miami Dolphins.

I normally don't get to watch many games outside of the Green Bay Packers games, but I managed to catch today's Jets/Dolphins game. The one overriding thought I had the entire game was that the Jets head coach, Eric Mangini who is known as Man"genius", made some very suspect coaching calls. Not to mention, having made the call not to carry a second place-kicker on the roster.

Between not passing on a 3rd down at the end of the game, not carrying that second kicker, and a timeout that saved the Dolphins from getting a delay of game penalty within the last minute of the game, I have to say Mangini failed as a coach.

Honestly, the Jets should of lost the game due to the coaching blunders. What's funny, is that many people expected Favre to be the one losing games by having a Brett moment. However, here the Jets sit, with Favre to thank for a win and some doubts about the coach guiding the team.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Five Minutes with Preview Weekend +

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) has opened the floodgates once again for another Preview Weekend. This time around Mythic has gotten creative and chosen a catchy title: Preview Weekend +.

I had the chance to log in for a few minutes before heading into work and I have to admit I was absolutely stunned by the progress that Mythic has made on WAR. The game was already good to begin with, but Mythic has gone and kicked it up a notch.

First and foremost, the NPC AI and pathing issues are fixed. Everything worked great and only once did I run into an NPC that seemed a bit flaky. Even then, it was not the "deer in headlights" look of the past Preview Weekend.

Again, the starter areas were flooded with hundreds of players and once again, I had absolutely no latency or graphical lag.

Next on the hit list was combat responsiveness. Mythic did not disappoint. The cast bar is fixed. The UI responsiveness is fixed. The 0.3 second slop timer that was added works perfectly. Overall, combat in WAR is where it needs to be.

So far, no crash to desktops and no one stating that they were having any.

Overall, every single Con from my original Preview Weekend Pro/Con list has been tackled. The only one not tackled was the Shadow Warrior hotbar reset, which was just a misunderstanding on my part on how the Shadow Warrior stances worked.

For informational purposes, the Preview Weekend + is running on WAR Patch 4.1 . I am playing on Chrace as Heartless the Bright Wizard.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Suddenly Brett Favre Appears


I'm a sucker for anything Favre related!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Wall

I dug a big hole, put up a wall, and laid a bunch of stones down this past weekend.

Oh, and I get to pee in a cup tomorrow, since I didn't accomplish that goal today.

Just figured I would share.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Click It or Ticket

Wilhelm doesn't believe he should have to read the fucking manual.
To that I can only ask, how well does RTFM work as an answer in your world? Because it doesn’t fare so well in mine, so RTFVM isn’t going to fly. (V is for virtual for those who are still in shock after following that link and finding out what the F stood for.)
Now, he does have a somewhat valid point. Games, especially MMORPGs, can't abandon new players to simply learn from a manual. There needs to be something there the moment a player logs into the game to direct them in the right direction.

I think Wilhelm has some valid criticisms of WAR. The game does drop in new players disoriented from their starting quests (a bug maybe?). Yellow dots on the map are confusing.

However, the question I have is whether or not a player that refuses to read the manual when presented with a problem has any right to complain? I can't walk into court and say "But your honor, I didn't bother to find out whether or not I needed to wear a seat belt in South Carolina!" and expect to walk away without a ticket. I can argue that the state didn't put up enough signs. I can complain that the signs are hard to read.

There are valid arguments on both sides here. At some point the state can't be blamed, after all there are signs at the state border, on the highway at various intervals, and continuing television commercials telling drivers to Click It or Ticket. However, if these items are not in place, I have a valid argument (but I am still not absolved of being guilty).

For Wilhelm, he feels that Mythic has not reasonably planted enough signs or aired enough commercials. I'm not quite sure what he expected though. There is no evidence he has these complaints about other games he has played, and he seems to have adjusted over the years he has played them. Actually, he mentions that WAR simplifies a lot of things into a single tome of knowledge (an example directly compared to EVE's hundreds of screens).

There are other leanings in his post that show he didn't even really try. For example: he heard somewhere that Public Quests > sliced bread. In his experience, he didn't really get them. To quote:
This is supposed to encourage community and cooperation. It does so about as well as WoW battlegrounds do, from my own limited observations. Everybody ran about in a mad rush at each stage with no plan or order. However, the “everybody” was enough people that we defeated each stage and nobody died.
There in lies the problem, he didn't adjust. He felt it was a WoW battleground and evidenced by his own post, played like it was one. It didn't seem he tried to learn about open groups, even with the giant pop up when entering the area, which are all over the place in Public Quests. He didn't bother to click his Tome of Knowledge unlock to figure out what the quest was about. He failed to notice the constant stream of +influence messages and quest pop ups detailing his progress in that area which would net him rewards. Worst of all, he just assumed everyone else was in it for themselves.

Wilhelm didn't seem to really try. He missed the forest for the trees. He ran around in WAR as though it was WoW. Bartle was right, he has played WAR before, it was WoW.

Repost Movie Thoughts: Serenity

I am cutting and pasting some thoughts I posted on my old reviews blog. Serenity, the movie, is up first.

Having never seen the Firefly TV series that inspired the movie Serenity, I had no expectations or knowledge of the lore behind the film. Therefore, it really wasn't on my radar as a "must see" movie. It is rare for me to miss a major Sci-Fi movie during its theatrical release, but Serenity didn't gain steam until after it hit theaters. Still, I am disappointed I missed this one in theaters.

I did not go to Blockbuster looking for Serenity, but when I saw it on the shelf I knew I had to rent it. Not that I hadn't meant to see it, but it just really hadn’t been on my mind. Fortunately, I did rent it and will now be exercising a bit more determination in getting the Firefly DVDs.

Overall, I found the acting to be a mix of good, OK, and so-so. There are spots of brilliance and there are spots of mediocre. The dialogue is strong throughout the movie, but sometimes the delivery is just not convincing which is a bit disappointing in a movie so heavily involved with the characters. Most of these flat spots hit during roaring battles or other special effects scenes.

The good news: the acting does not kill the movie in any spots! The acting is solid. I knew none of the actors by name and even after watching it I doubt I will remember any by name. As I said the acting is solid all the way through, but no one really stands out. This helps the movie, because one overpowering actor could have really disrupted the balance in a movie with a very this is our crew sentiment.

Next, we have the special effects which can make or break any Sci-Fi movie. Serenity definitely doesn't disappoint! The entire movie is a visual feast and most of the time the effects blend amazingly well with the live action. As with most Sci-Fi, there are scenes that just don't fit, uncanny valley and all.

What really makes up for the lows in special effects and acting is the rock solid story. Having no idea how it ties into Firefly, I only know that I want more. While I wouldn't place this as one of the best Sci-Fi plots ever, it definitely ranks up there as one of the best in recent times. Recent, as in the fact it wasn't written thirty years ago and just recently was made into a movie.

I recommend this movie to everyone that has any interest in Sci-Fi. Go out and buy the DVD because the movie is damn close to making enough profit for them to go out and make part 2 and maybe even part 3! I am more than glad to add another movie to my collection!.

My final question: is it just me or is Mr. Universe the same actor that was driving the car full of potheads in Super Troopers?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Those Worried About the Game Side of Spore

Spore will be a culmination of years of real time strategy games, simulation games, and a plethora of game technologies. It will be a game that finally puts the package together. However, in that attempt, Spore has lost some players that are wondering where the "game" in Spore will be. Look no further than the following video highlighting the civilization phase of Spore.

Oi

Dwarf Badge- Prima Games Warhammer Online Class Quiz

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WAR Delayed, L4D Gold

Oops, screwed up the title.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) has gone gold.
Mythic Entertainment today announced that the highly-anticipated MMORPG, Warhammer® Online: Age of Reckoning™ (WAR), has gone gold and will open its servers on September 18, 2008 at an MSRP of $49.99 in North America.

“We’ve done our best to create the next great MMORPG experience, but it’s the fans that will bring our world to life,” said Mark Jacobs, vice president at EA and general manager of Mythic Entertainment. “The Day of Reckoning approaches and it’s going to be glorious! It’s time to go to WAR.”
Left 4 Dead (L4D), Valve's co-op zombie shooting masterpiece, has been delayed so the launch can coincide with Half-Life's 10th anniversary.
Well the date has been changed again, and now Valve's highly anticipated co-op survival horror has different release dates for North America and Europe. Left 4 Dead 411 made a request to Valve for definite confirmation, and Doug Lombardi responded, "Nov 18 in the States. Nov 21 in Europe (US retailers do 'new release Tues' and the EU does that on Friday)."

The new release date still ties in with Half-Life's anniversary, as the game was originally launched on November 18, 1998.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I had a WAR Weekend , My Rabbit Had a Beauty Day

The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) Preview Weekend has come and gone. It was so grand that I spent Sunday giving our pet rabbit a beauty day instead of playing. No, it wasn’t because the game wasn’t playable. It was because WAR is fun, no matter how little or how much time you spend in game. Actually, I had a metric ton of fun, but that doesn’t mean the game was perfect. Far from it, but I learned a very valuable lesson: having fun in a game trumps many flaws.

My desktop machine specs:

Video card: MSI 9600 GT OC
CPU: Intel Q6600 @ 2.6 GHz (that’s a quad core btw)
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Operating system: Windows XP Pro x64

Pros and Cons

I am going to break this down into a Pros and Cons list, as that will be the easiest way to get my thoughts down.

Pros
  • The game performs absolutely flawlessly on my machine. No FPS or graphical issues at all during the weekend.
  • Lag was a non-factor. Lag that was encountered was minor and rarely persisted more than a minute.
  • Massive RvR battles were absolutely awesome, both in performance and fun. Even with 100+ players on screen, the game ran fine and was 100% playable.
  • Combat was slower paced, allowing for longer life expectancy. This goes a long way towards making the RvR a lot of fun, as players rarely die the second someone touches them.
  • Battle-ranking evens out the playing field in RvR and makes low-level RvR enjoyable.
  • The ability to queue for scenarios anywhere in the zone supports the RvR and PvE progression idea.
  • Also, being able to form cross-zone parties and queue for any scenario in any zone a party member is in helps alleviate pointless travel.
  • Open grouping ensures that players can easily find others to play with.
  • Public quest system takes questing to another level, provides some reasoning for the world, and offers great socialization opportunities.
  • Quest objectives are outlined on the map. At first I didn’t like it, but I now prefer it over using spoiler websites.
  • Easily accessible travel to other racial pairings, warcamps, and capital cities. Hopefully this stays intact for launch, but I can understand if Mythic restricts it a bit.
  • Tome of Knowledge is impossible to “preview” as it is immense. I was absolutely blown away by the few things I took time to browse through.
  • Easily customizable UI out of the box.
  • Guild tools are just fucking awesome. Guilds and what they can do will be the centerpiece of WAR.
  • Crafting is fast, fun, and easily funded. It focuses on consumable items which I used a lot. I made over a hundred potions and used every single one by the end of the weekend. I bought most of the basic supplies up front and scavenged the rest from dead enemies in RvR.
Cons
  • Crash to desktop problems for many people. Personally, I only crashed twice in about ten hours of play.
  • Combat responsiveness needs work. Hard to tell what skill is being used, if it can be used, and many other perceptual errors that make combat feel sluggish.
  • Better visual feedback needed for the player and the casting bar needs to be reworked.
  • Spell effects were hit or miss. Sometimes I saw them, sometimes I didn’t, for both team mates and enemies. I was hit a lot in RvR by stuff I never saw.
  • Scrolling combat text failed. It was off center, small, and often didn’t work.
  • Default chat window filter needs to be reworked. There was far too much spam that should be in the combat window by default that makes it hard to keep up with conversations.
  • There was a gear imbalance when higher tier gear is able to be used in the level tier below where it is acquired. For example: Tier 2 renown rank 6 gear with level 18 stats in Tier 1 (levels 1-11).
  • Healing felt very overpowering in the lower levels. Playing DPS classes, I felt it was impossible to kill any healer without the assistance of two, three, or more players.
  • Tanks were always the top damage dealers in RvR. Not because of DPS, but because they never died and therefore always were doing damage.
  • Class specific issue: Shadow Warrior hotbars often reset, making it impossible to use my current stance-specific abilities.
Conclusion

I have no conclusion. The game is absolutely fun, but needs work. I will be in at Open Beta and the Head Start. I am glad that I chose to play a tank at launch. This game isn’t going to be perfect, but it is going to be fun and that is exactly what I’ve been expecting.

Update: 5 Sept, 2008 - Preview Weekend + addressed many of these Cons.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Team Fortress 2 Guest Pass Available

I have been awarded one 3-day guest pass for Team Fortress 2. Whoever I give the pass to will receive a free copy of Team Fortress 2 that they can play for three days, no strings attached. The only requirement will be that the person receiving the pass will need to have a Steam account or be willing to create one (its free!).

All I ask is that you plan to use those three days wisely and if you end up liking the game, spend a few extra dollars to pick up a copy. It is by far the best FPS game I've played in years.

If you are interested please leave a comment and an e-mail address. I will make a decision on Monday the 25th (to give all the WAR Preview Weekend players time to respond).

Jumping Sharks, a Colloquialism Examination

It often amazes me how things come in pairs on the Internet. Today is no exception.

Shark, Jumped, a post from Grouchy Gamer, is a great example of properly using the colloquialism, jumping the shark.

Warhammer Online: The MMO that jumps the shark, from Brent of Virgin Worlds, would be the opposite; a how-not-to-use the jumping the shark colloquialism.

First, let’s examine the full meaning of jumping the shark:
Jumping the shark is a colloquialism used by U.S. TV critics and fans to denote that point in a TV show or movie series' history where the plot veers off into ridiculous story lines or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations, undergoing too many changes to retain the original appeal of the series. Shows that have "jumped the shark" are typically deemed to have passed their peak as after this point critical fans can point to a noticeable decline in the show's overall quality.
As mentioned, Grouchy Gamer (aka Genda), hits the nail on the head. Blizzard’s recent addition of a motorcycle as a mount in the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft is a fine example of jumping the shark. The motorcycle is completely out of place, even in the pop-culture-phenomenon that is WoW.

Fans critical of WoW will be able to look back and point to this very item as the possible downturn of quality in WoW, just as Genda has. Especially in the soon-to-launch-face of WoW's potentially stiffest competition yet, WAR. History will be the ultimate judge, but the concept of Blizzard jumping the shark is at least there.

The concept is not there with Brent’s ramblings on Virgin Worlds. Brent spends the better part of two pages explaining how Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) is one giant plateau of MMO game play. According to Brent, WAR brings nothing new, other than Public Quests. In his eyes that means Mythic jumped the shark with WAR.

When confronted on the idea that he may be missing the point of jumping the shark, Brent offers no defense. Darren of Common Sense Gamer gets involved, but fails as epically as Brent in understanding the colloquialism. Neither can point to any change that WAR is bringing that is equivalent to “The Hog” of WotLK. Actually, both seem to agree that WAR will succeed and in the process of succeeding will bring a great new feature to the MMO genre with Public Quests.

Brent is just tired of the current MMOs and he is waiting for something fresh and new, different from the games that have come before. His burn out does not mean WAR jumped the shark and it is obvious to me he wanted nothing more than a flashy headline.

There is a war of words in the comments where I try to get Brent and Darren to understand jumping the shark, or to at least get Brent to inform us what he defines as jumping the shark. Brent and Darren offer nothing more than attacks. According to them, I just don’t understand.

Maybe I don’t understand. I’ll let everyone that wants to comment here tell me which of the above articles properly uses jumping the shark.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

WAR Isn't Fun

"I’ve already played Warhammer. It was called World of Warcraft." - Richard Bartle
Bartle was right, he did play WAR already, and it was WoW. Just like Bartle, many players will try to play WAR as they do WoW and then wonder why they aren’t playing WoW or state they are sick of playing WoW. That’s fine. No one can force them to change their mind on how to play MMOs.

Unfortunately, Bartle gave validation to many “WAR is just WoW” viewpoints. However, many seem to have missed the part where Dr. Bartle admitted that he played a lot of WoW and had fun doing so. So, if he already played WAR, and it was WoW, then WAR is probably going to be fun to some degree. Bartle was simply burned out.

This brings me to a post at Virgin Worlds where Brent asserts that WAR just isn’t fun. Sadly, Brent uses Dr. Bartle’s quote to defend his position. That doesn’t add up, as WAR has to be fun by Bartle's assertion. Brent's view shows the effect that Bartle’s ill-fated quote has had on those looking for evidence to indict WAR as a failure.

I don’t dislike Brent and I’m not going to start throwing hypocrisy around again. I want to look into why Brent views WAR as a foregone failure. It starts in the recent Virgin Worlds Podcast #127, where Brent spends a lot of time talking about the “next generation” of MMOs and how games coming out currently are “last generation, nothing new to see here, move along please”.

It is evident that Brent is not interested in the current generation of MMO games and it is unlikely he would view any of them as “fun”. I wish Brent would just come out and say that, instead of looking for validation to prop up his opinion in misguided quotes and propaganda.

Unfortunately, Brent makes the argument that Sony Online Entertainment has a slew of upcoming next generation games, while reporting from a SOE-sponsored fan-faire. That absolutely dumbfounds me, because SOE has absolutely no games on tap that we haven’t seen versions of before.

Free Realms is an online world filled with mini-games that runs on micro-transactions.

The Agency is an online, class-based and multi-player shooter with persistent world aspects.

DC Universe Online is a super hero MMO that focuses on action and offers a peak at physics based game play.

None of the listed games offers anything new other than the fact that SOE is putting huge development dollars into them. Puzzle Pirates, released in 2003, does the online game world filled with mini-games and customizable avatars already. Doom, released in 1993, not only invented the first person shooter genre, but took it online as well. Planetside, another SOE game that happens to be a persistent online shooter, has been around since 2003. City of Heroes, a super hero MMO, has been around since 2004. Physics-based games have been all-the-rage for the last few years.

It is absolutely SOE fanboy-ish to argue any of them are next generation. I’m sorry, but that invalidates Brent’s criticism of WAR. Brent likes SOE and despises WAR. He is entitled to that opinion, but he needs to stick to it as an opinion, not try and use it as evidence that WAR "is just another WoW" and therefore will fail.

The gaming industry has shown a complete lack of ability to innovate quickly. Change occurs slowly, over time, from release to release. There is never going to be a mainstream game that suddenly changes the playing field in terms of players and mechanics. Some games, such as WoW, will storm in and take over a genre, but not through innovation.

The next generation is going to come slowly over time and those waiting for it will never find it. Every time they look at a new game, they will see something from the last game and claim that they are going to “sit this one out” in anticipation of the next generation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

WARGASM!

The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) NDA has been lifted. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Unfortunately, I have an important meeting to attend in five minutes.

Team Fortress 2 Arenas: Fight to the Death

The incoming Wargasm is not the only gaming news of importance today. Valve is hard at work supporting Team Fortress 2 (TF2), new game mode included.
TF2 Arena keeps the class diversity of Team Fortress 2 while focusing goals around combat between two teams. Where other game modes lean towards a broad overall strategy for the team over a number of lives, Arena concentrates on the specific tactical choices the teams make in a single fight.

Arena features smaller maps that play out in shorter periods of time. The round ends once one team has no players left in the arena, or when the central capture point has unlocked and been captured. Rounds tend to be very fast and highly competitive, with an emphasis on your team’s class makeup and your plan to counter the opposing team’s class choices. Arena mode is great for smaller matches of three vs. three players, while still comfortably supporting huge knockdown twelve-on-twelve brawls.
This is a feature that I've already seen take shape on Custom Map servers, specifically for fans of the Spy class in TF2.

The Spy class in TF2 is a source of both love and hate. One second a Spy is destroying everything known to be awesome, the next they are randomly eating dirt. For a long while, after the Pyro blitz, playing a Spy was simply suicide. With the Pyro push receding, the life of a Spy has returned to normal sappin' and stabbin'.

However, it is still a high-stress, often maddening experience to play a Spy on a regular basis. Current TF2 maps are too large to effectively stealth into place. Hallways are too crowded to bypass enemy players. Chokepoints are easily spammed making travel to the enemy backside impossible.

Most of these complaints will now be silenced in Arena mode. Fewer players, smaller maps, and a focus on class cohesion and teamwork will result in a new era of Spy gameplay.

I focused on the Spy, but it is only one of many classes in TF2 that will benefit from Arenas. This will actually be a very interesting game mode for all classes. Engineers will be critical against Scout rushes. Pyros will be critical against Spies. The list goes on and on.

One worry that I have is that I feel there is still no true paper to the rock that is the Demoman. Coupled with a Medic, Demomen are absolutely deadly in TF2. Demomen can be killed, but they are by far the top choice for good players and can easily dominate with a good Medic in tow.

Another worry is that critical hits could ruin the day in small skirmish game play that will be found in the arena maps. One critical rocket from a Soldier and it could be lights out for half a team. On the positive side of critical hits, this may make the Kritzkrieg upgrade for Medics a bit more popular.

The Heavy update gets more interesting by the day. I just hope it comes out before I am knee-deep in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Anyone Actually Using Road-To-War.com?

Is anyone out there actually using Road-To-War? Mythic really hasn't pushed the website yet and the beta banner across top doesn't inspire me to really care that much yet.

My old account seems to be gone now, along with all the gold. I'm not even quite sure where to go and get information regarding the Road-To-War site currently. There is only a spattering of information spread across various Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) message boards.

Oh well, if the website is officially rolling now, which I am not sure about, I have included a poll for visitors to vote on that will earn my Road-To-War account some gold to throw around in the epic state vs. state battles.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Movie Thoughts: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I am a Star Wars fan. I am not a blind Star Wars fan and refuse to blindly love the movies. I watch them, because I love the universe behind them. Any glimpse into that universe will get some of my money, but not always my praise. The Phantom Menace started out good, but fell down in the end. Attack of the Clones was full of action, but not much else. Revenge of the Sith made me smile, but only did the end finally make me feel like the actors were earning their paychecks.

My biggest problem with the prequels was the character of Anakin Skywalker. Weakly written and horribly acted lead to a big gaping whole in all three prequels. When Anakin finally rose up as Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith and screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOO!", I screamed "YES, Anakins gone." This brings me to my thoughts on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and unfortunately the lackluster Anakin rears his ugly head.

Fortunately, the movie is completely computer animated, so no Hayden Christensen was needed. Unfortunately, the character of Anakin still feels stiff and forced through the entire movie. Good thing there is enough action and comedy to save Clone Wars from a failure. The graphics are cartoony, but believable against vivid backgrounds and settings. The important note here is that the movie is consistent and easily fits into the epic Star Wars movie saga.

Also, the move to complete computer graphics opened the door for much better action sequences. I don't want to spoil the movie, but one scene has our heroes scaling vertically up a cliff face while fighting the never ending droid army. It was believable and did not once feel faked for the sake of a live actor. That single scene absolutely convinced me this was the right move for the Star Wars franchise.

Overall, the movie was fun, albeit aimed at a younger audience. The general aim helped me forgive some plot shortfalls and out of place comedy. The movie was a general mix of the classic Star Wars we all love and the new age Star Wars that is hard to enjoy even as a fan. I highly recommend a viewing for any Star Wars fan, especially those with children.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beta Leaks Gone?

Word on the street is that the popular Beta Leaks website is officially down. Good riddance, maybe now a true beta leaking website can take its place, where actual information is leaked instead of weighted opinions.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ask Not



Just a reminder that Casualties of WAR is still recruiting!

More Beta Leaks

As I sit staring into cyberspace, waiting for the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) NDA to drop, I can't help but notice that there are more beta leaks than you can shake a discriminatory finger at. Some of them are in reference to official press outlets that have been given the OK to start talking, while others are just old-fashioned beta leaks from testers that can't keep their mouths shut.

However, unlike the beta leaks of a few months ago, almost every single one is positive. Minus Brent's "beta-breaking" over at Virgin Worlds, which I am either misunderstanding or he truly has lost his mind. Vacation will do him good.

My name seems to keep cropping up as the sole proprietor of all that is WAR's fanaticism, comments at the above link are no exception. Not sure how it has come to that, considering I've leveled my fair share of criticism towards Mythic over the past three years. Maybe it's because I'm fair and give props to Mythic for tackling almost every single complaint leveled against WAR by testers and cynics alike.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fact Checking Mission

Ok, I'll bite. Channel Massive doesn't like me. They've said as much in their recent Blog-O-Steria portion of their 53rd podcast (1:18 approximately). Normally, I would just laugh the trolling attempt off, but this one is so full of misinformation and lies that I can't sit idly by. It's time for some fact checking.

I would like to start out by thanking them for crowning me Warhammer Online's #1 fanboy. It is an honor. However, I would like to point out that I do not in fact watch the Internet like a hawk and jump in to comment first on any WAR related story. Fact is, I have been a member of Virgin Worlds since Brent launched the site, so it only makes sense that I may be the first commenter on their blog posts from time to time.

Next on the ticket is the idea that Mythic has over-hyped WAR. Yes, Paul Barnett is a well spoken gent. Yes, Mythic has employed a plethora of common Internet tools to market WAR. Yes, I have been using the same Internet as everyone else. However, I've paid attention to WAR for more than just the two years it has been in the limelight. I understand how those that have followed WAR for only a couple years may have missed the grass roots origins of Mythic's marketing success.

I am also accused of blaming everything on WoW. I find it fairly ignorant that anyone would dismiss the effect that WoW has had on the MMO market and genre. Would WAR be hyped as much as it is if there wasn't a significantly increased market due to WoW's success? Even Age of Conan benefited from WoW and enjoyed moderate success because it was "different than WoW". No, WoW can't be blamed for everything, but it can't be thrown away as though it has done nothing.

The next argument is the big one: the idea that Mythic promised six cities and twenty-four classes for WAR's launch. I challenge anyone to find a Mythic representative promising anything. No one will, but there will be plenty of "this is what we have planned" and "if it isn't working, it will be chucked" comments. This, of course, is the same sort of language that Blizzard used originally when they defrayed criticism after announcing that hero classes would not be in at WoW's launch.

According to Channel Massive, I just pulled the whole "Hero classes at WoW's launch" out of my ass. Channel Massive went as far as self-editing what I assume to be a fun-filled comment, that "WoW's hero classes were just a...". Let me fill it in for them: "a planned feature for launch."
We stated that we planned to have Hero Classes in at launch during earlier beta. Plans change. There was never a "promise". Around launch, we stated that we planned to release Hero Classes as soon as we could. Plans change.

There was never a "promise".

Hero Classes are not planned for the expansion, to my knowledge.

They are actively in development.

We plan to add them into the game when they're done.

That's not a promise.

Plans change. We give you future information when we can, but we do not "promise" these things -- the fact that such plans become "promises" in the eyes of many is the reason we don't give you a great deal of future plans. I've stated our current plan. Take it for what it is. :) - Caydiem
Facts are such a bitch.

This brings me back to my main argument about WARs announced changes. The industry has been here before and the player base has erupted over planned features being cut from a AAA title during beta. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one that remembered; the only one level-headed enough to use WoW's hero classes as a historical sample of how to treat the WAR situation. The reaction for both situations was the same. The general community was outraged, because they falsely held planned features as promises. I understand it is tough to be fair and balanced in a genre that is built on passion. Unfortunately for Channel Massive, the Internet never forgets.

Look, I'm not angry. I could have easily left this at "eat shit and die", leaving the Channel Massive folks to their ignorance. However, all I've asked from the beginning of this mess was for bloggers, podcasters, and commenters to use facts, not misinformation, to form an opinion. It is alright to have an opinion that Mythic is delivering less than anticipated with WAR, but don't for a second disgrace those of us that have taken the time and energy to get the facts before opening our mouths.

I'm glad that Channel Massive did get something right at the end of the show. There is no way in hell they could possibly be right.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Warhammer's #1 Fanboy

I would like to thank the folks over at Channel Massive for voting me WAR's number 1 fanboy in episode #53. Its towards the end, 1 hour 18 minutes approximately.

For those not prepared, some people don't like me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Karl Franz Wants Your Head



I've been trying to put my spare time to good use, so I did some photo chopping for the guild I helped form.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Win, Lose

Jets win.

Packers lose.

I wish Brett Favre the best of luck in his trade to the New York Jets. All Favre has to do is show up to lift the Jets' spirits, win a few games to win the fans, and it will be considered a successful trade.

The Packers have to win, not just the regular season, but in the playoffs. I won't say they need a Super Bowl appearance to justify the trade, but anything less than an NFC Championship appearance and its a losing trade. The pressure is on the Packers now.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

September 18th

The day that will live in infamy, September 18th, will mark the launch of the next big thing, also known as Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

Also, from the looks of things, Mythic is maintaining the status quo as far as monthly fees. $14.99 per month or a bit less if you pay for three or six month packages ahead of time.

The announcement has me somewhat reinvigorated to stay away from any MMO that I may want to run back to while I wait. I may be burned out on action, but I think I can find something productive to do with my time until launch.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It All Makes Sense: Brett Favre Owns Mythic Entertainment

Wish I could claim credit for this: I'm convinced Brett Favre owns EA/Mythic.
Think about it...

Packer fans have been waiting months for news on Brett Favre.
WAR fans have been waiting months for news on WAR.

The packers announce a news conference yesterday, and packers fans are still waiting today to hear this news.
Mythic announces news is coming yesterday, today we are still waiting for this news.

Football season is closing in.
WAR release date is closing in.

Brett can't make up his mind about retiring.
Mythic wasn't sure if they wanted 6 cities or 2.

Conflicting stories about Brett from Brett and the Packers.
WAR has an NDA.

Brett Favre is on the cover of every EA football game.

Is all this a coinscidence? I think not.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Road to WAR

The battle lines have been drawn, the objectives decided, and now all you have to do is walk your pansy ass over that hill and down the Road to WAR!

When you get there, don't forget to mention that heartlessgamer [at] gmail.com sent you.

Caution, there may be Casualties along the way.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Action Burn Out

Well, my plan of action is failing. I tried to make it to the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning launch without having to resort back to playing an MMO.

Call of Duty 4, Day of Defeat: Source, and Team Fortress 2 have kept me busy, but not busy enough. I am bored in most of them and it directly affects my performance, which was not great to begin with. My twitch FPS days are well past me now.

Oh, and Spore isn't here yet.

In reality there is only one MMO I would even consider and that is World of Warcraft. We'll have to see how I warm up to the idea over the next few days. I am not really sure I want to.

Maybe I'll just read some books instead. Yes, my wife would like to hear that.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gamestop Pre-order Details for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

First, Gamestop e-mailed a release date and server-up time announcement for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
“Please Note: Servers will not go live until 10:00am EST on 9/18/08.”
Now, they've emailed details about a pre-order deal that gets players into the thought-to-be only for collector's edition orders Head Start event.
Reserve Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and receive:

Open Beta Access: Be one of the first players to experience the glory of battle and the thrill of WAR! Open Beta will run from September 3, 2008 at 10am EST until September 12, 2008 at 10am EST. The Open Beta will level capped and content restricted.

Live Game Head Start: Reserve customers will get a 3-day head start on the battlefields of WAR. The Live Game Head Start begins on September 15, 2008 at 10am EST.

Bonus In-Game Items: Equip your characters for the journey to the frontlines with Rittenbach’s Portable Camp and Sentinel’s Amber Band.

Universal Fighting System Battle Deck: The Emperor Karl Franz and Tchar’zanek, dread Champion of Tzeentch, go head-to-head in this exclusive collectible card game deck from Fantasy Flight Games.

ONLINE/IN-STORE PICKUP CUSTOMERS: You will receive a code for the bonus items. Please provide a valid email address at time of purchase.

STORE CUSTOMERS: All bonus items will be available in store at time of reservation. Items available in store week of August 4. Please call ahead to confirm availability.
August 4th shall be very interesting.

Oh, and a card game? Interesting, I thought that was SOE's thing. Oh well.

Word of the Day: Hypocrisy

It would be a sin if Mythic charged players, in the form of a paid expansion, for the four cities and classes removed recently from beta.

It would be a sin if Blizzard charged players, in the form of a paid expansion, for hero classes that have been talked about since beta.

See what I did there? Which statement can be found circulating the MMO blogosphere currently?

Sadly, the MMO blogsphere is in a state of hypocrisy. Loud mouths are shouting off left and right that it would be absolute heresy for Mythic to charge for items perceived to be cut from beta. However, no one, aside from myself, is talking about Blizzard charging for an expansion that will introduce the first epic hero class to World of Warcraft (WoW), something discussed since WoW's beta.

I recently listened to the Shut Up We're Talking (SUWT) #30 podcast where the hosts used some very choice words about the idea that Mythic could charge for the extra classes and cities later in an expansion. Yet, in the same show, the hosts discussed how other, older MMOs need to add "carrots on a stick" to their expansions to actively promote players to buy them and therefore continue playing.

Not to mention, they discuss how MMOs need to be careful to ensure expansions don't become treadmills, continually wiping the previous accomplishments of players out. Yet, the idea that Mythic has the exact content to create a horizontal expansion, which would add to the game without taking away, that they would charge players for is absolutely preposterous to the show hosts.

To all of the SUWT hosts:
"Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins."- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Anyways, moving on. Fortunately, for the WAR faithful, Mythic has come out and stated that they do not intend to release the content in a paid expansion.
Folks,

I would be very, very angry, how’s that?

Now as to my reasoning. First, during the development process of most creative ventures, things get cut and changed. That happens in games, books, films, television, etc. Secondly, for examples, things such as scenes that are cut from a movie are then are put into a “Director’s Cut” or “Special Edition” etc. I don’t think that it is wrong for a filmmaker to cut things out of his/her own film in order to make the film great and then offer them on a special DVD. Now, I wish they would put them on the same DVD as the original film is on but I have no real problem with the practice. While some people may disagree, it is a widespread practice and one that I don’t have any problem with morally, ethically, etc. Making a game, especially an MMO, is no different in that respect. We cut out things, change things, etc. during a development process and when the development process is three years long, well, even more can get cut and changed. However:

We have been talking about these classes and the cities for quite a while. And while I absolutely believe that we have the right, if we so choose, from every ethical, moral and legal perspective to cut them out totally or put them in the game in a paid expansion, that doesn’t mean that we should do that. We’ve always tried to hold ourselves to a higher standard. No, we’re not perfect, yes we make mistakes and yes, yes, yes we are also a business but just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should do something. In this case, what we want to do and what we will try our best to do is to make sure that if/when we bring back those classes and these cities (sorry for the if, don’t read more into it, just being careful) that players will not have to buy them from us as part of a paid expansion but rather just part of the content updates that we did so well for DAoC.

And that’s why I would be very angry because we tried to do something and for some reason(s) we couldn’t make it happen. And that always pisses me off…

Mark
But let me guess, Mark Jacobs just left the door open for Mythic to commit the sin. That's fine. I'm not a hypocrite and have no issues paying for an expansion that would feature the content perceived to be cut from WAR, just as I would have no problem buying Wrath of the Lich King to play the first Hero Class.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Massively Overrated

One quote is all it took to tip my anger against Massively.com:
"With recent news of other games opting to release "on time" with minimal content, we can't help but scratch our heads at this type of situation. It's been asked a million times before, but we'll ask it again: would you rather have a partial game released now, or a complete game released later?"
Other games being specifically Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. They can call me a raging fanboy, and probably will. I am sick of this constant belief that WAR is somehow releasing an unfinished game because some people had promises magically transplanted into their brain.

I think it is due time that I give up reading Massively. Between the gratuitous self-linking and biased news sniping, I would begin to believe Massively a professional news organization.

I apologize to the better Massively.com posters, who take care to post actual news in news postings, not biased snipes based on uneducated guesswork.

Oh, and I'm not the only one. Keen found a pretty wonderful stinker on Massively as well.
“WAR strikes me as WoW mechanics wrapped in different lore plus a couple of new features. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Clearly Blizzard got a lot right with WoW, but it doesn’t do much for those of us looking for that “new” experience again.”
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