Monday, September 27, 2010

Minecraft

Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft

Yes, I'm playing Minecraft.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

4 Civ IV Annoyances Fixed 5 ways in Civ V

I've had a few days to play around with the Civilization V demo now and I've found a few of the annoyances of Civ IV removed.

1. Religion. Religion was just an annoyance in Civ IV for most players and of benefit only to the hardcore. Religion added more onto an already bloated management screen for a player's cities. Conceptually solid, but not much fun in practice.

1. Civ 5 fixes this by simply removing religion in favor of a revamped Social Policies skill tree familiar to anyone that has played an RPG in the last decade.

2. Stacked units. Some Civ fans love stacked units and others hate them. I'm firmly in the hate category. It made it impossible to strategically plan a war as a player's stack or stacks could never sufficiently defend a landmass. Choke-points and bottlenecks were non-existent. Not to mention the headache that it was to manage stacked units.

2. Civ V features one unit per tile gameplay.

3. Too many units. It was amazing how many units that could be built in Civ IV. Micro-management of these forces of war was never-ending, leading to long turn times.

3. Civ V dials the total number of units way down making each unit far more important as they occupy a hex all by themselves. Also some resources are strategic in nature and limit the number of troops of a certain type a Civ can field. For example: a Civ with one iron resource can only have one iron-based unit.

4. Squares.

4. I really didn't realize squares bothered me until I played Civ V with it's magnificent hexes. Then I thought about all of the best board games I play: Settlers of Catan, Battle Lore, etc. They all have hex boards!

5. Finally, Civ V puts the smackdown on a lot of other annoyances by simply having a better UI; one that is clear and easy to understand on almost every single screen.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Civ5 Demo has me covered

Just a quick note during the busiest work weeks of my life to say that the Civilization V demo is all I need right now.  It's amazing how much it offers for the price of FREE.

Get your own copy of the demo via Steam.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This is WHY Free 2 Play works, quote from Pirates of the Burning Seas team

Just a quick quote drop here. Pirates of the Burning Seas is going Free 2 Play and their lead developer explains a little bit why in this article at Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
RPS: Firstly, the obvious. Why free to play? Why now?

Declan O’Connell: Subscription-access greatly limits the potential player-base of a game. You’re making money off of every player who is willing to pay $15 a month, but you don’t get those players who would play if it was $10 or $5 a month, or those who would pay piecemeal for things that grab their interest. You also only make $15 per account for which your hardcore players can find a use, when they might pay even more for extra features. That’s the money end.
STOP!



Read no further. That is why F2P works as a business model. It removes the barrier to entry and allows players to participate at any investment level. Proper game design can then go a long way to encouraging players to spend more at the same time making sure players that don't spend as much don't feel left out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MUST WATCH: A Game of Thrones HBO teaser trailer and more

The A Game of Thrones series being produced for HBO is in full swing and today we get a pair of teaser trailers.  This looks amazing already and I can't wait for the series to hit!



Monday, September 13, 2010

Arsenal of WAR goes live

Just a quick note to help promote a fellow blogger's new project.  Werit's Arsenal of WAR (that'd be WAR as in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning) website has launched.  Blurb:
When playing Warhammer Online, it is important to know what tools you have at your disposal. The Arsenal of WAR is a new item database to help you find the right piece of armor or weapon for your character. There are other item db's out there, but I wanted the Arsenal to be easy and up to date. Read on for the details.

Features:

* Over 8,200 items in the database
* A simple and quick interface
* Easy commenting, no need to register
* Search by name or by stat
* Links generated for each item from the WAR community
* Updated regularly, includes scenario weapons and the new sovereign armor sets

Monday, September 06, 2010

Dissecting Firefall's Gameplay Video

Red 5 Studios has finally come out of their hole to reveal the MMOG project they have been working on.  Titled Firefall, we got our first look at it this past week via this gameplay video.



There is no commentary with the video, so I wanted to take a few minutes to dissect it and throw around a couple of comments I have.

00:29 - We meet the two characters we will be following around the entire video. The second character has a visual effect of what can be assumed to be a continuous heal-over-time ability. Little blue plus signs swirl around the character. Visual queues seen by all instead of only textual and/or UI elements is a must in any modern game. Sadly, we've seen many MMOs where this is sacrificed for performance.

1:01 - Jumping! Jumping higher with jet packs! Jumping higher with jet packs and shooting! Hook, line, and sinker.

1:11 - The main character places a beacon to call down a Thumper which spends the next few minutes mining for minerals.

1:12 through 4:27 - Phew, that was a long boring three minutes. Wave after wave of enemy that looked and acted the same. This sort of repetitive combat that annoys players who are given guns and jet packs.

I really hope that this was more than just a quest and is actually Firefall's form of resource gathering. Locate a pocket of minerals, call down a Thumper, protect it while it gathers, let it shoot back off into space, and when you are back at base you can collect the minerals for crafting or selling or whatever they may be used for (fuel possibly as we'll see next).

4:31 - Seriously, loot with purple lettering!? I hate having loot spray out all over the place, especially when it makes no damn sense. Crystals and armor from bugs? Disappointed.

4:44 through 7:17 - Oh fuck yes, transport ship! The trip we take to the bastion of Dredge is quite amazing. We get a glimpse of an absolutely stunning open world. My main question, is this on rails or can players pilot the ship anywhere they want to go? Disappointing if this is only World of Warcraft's flight paths, but with space ships. Well maybe not too disappointing if they can be called in to pick a player up anywhere in the world! Lots of potential.

5:09 - Before moving forward, were those player-controlled ground vehicles I spied? They don't seem to be taking any preset path, so here's hoping they are player vehicles!

8:04 through 8:35 - Dredge: looks cool, seems dull. Standard MMO city, vendors and a bar. None of the NPCs really seem to be moving around at all. The place seems as boring as the cities from Borderlands.

8:36 through 9:36 - But right as it seems to be boring all hell breaks loose as Dredge comes under attack. This felt like a very organic fight. Obviously it is set to replay itself out on a regular basis, but this was cool enough that I wouldn't mind multiple run-throughs. Populate the entire world with events such as this and it's a promising feature.

9:37 - Alert, giant fucking robot attacking.

10:09 - Just as we are getting a taste for the ground combat, the character jumps into a turret and starts laying waste to the enemy. Next, the turret turns on the giant robot and we finish the video wondering what the outcome was.

Overall, I really enjoyed the video and I feel the game has potential. I understand the blog'o'sphere's concerns about it being Free 2 Play (F2P), but there is overwhelming evidence (from DDO to Allods Online to Battlefield: Heroes) that F2P works. Not to mention the evidence showing that the subscription model is faltering (WAR, LotRO/DDO dumping it). My advice to those glancing past Firefall already because it will be F2P: play it first.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Bioware please tell me you are not serious; another SW:ToR video

Another day, another Star Wars: The Old Republic video:



Each new video that we get seems to be a 50/50 split of awesome and total crap. This video is no different. The dialogue is good. The characters look awesome (maybe a bit too spiky, but I can deal with that). However, the combat is so fucking terrible that I seriously hope its a joke from Bioware and that they are going to reveal a new combat system video at some point.

Not only is the combat terrible in this video (as it is in all videos for SW:ToR), but I have a couple other points to hit up:

1. When they reveal "the dungeon", we can see a bunch of static groups of enemies standing still waiting to be pulled. In other MMOs, this would be called "trash pulls". I would have no problem with this if Bioware wasn't trying to sell this as "epic" and "exciting" combat. I can't remember the last time I was excited by sitting in a dungeon pulling group after group of enemies.

2. The obvious "go here, do this, get X prize" quest structure. With all the talent and money Bioware is putting into this, I was hoping they were going to come up with something a little more interesting. I don't think we've seen a single quest or event video for SW:ToR that didn't have the same stale quest structure.

I was willing to give Bioware some credit due to their past games, but my patience has eroded.  I'm going to start getting very angry about SW:ToR unless Bioware gets their act together and either admits their combat isn't as exciting and epic as they label it or starts showing me how exciting and epic it can be.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

My son turned one and other things I did in August 2010: What I'm Playing/What I'm Paying

August was the month that my son turned one year old. It amazes me how fast time flies with children. It feels like only yesterday when I was welcoming "the dude" (as we call him) into the world. He can walk (run), talk (ask repeatedly for mom), and sleep (for short periods).

It's been a long first year to be honest. Our son has only slept through the night a handful of the time. He fought acid reflux, viral infections, and ear infections for the entirety of his first year. His birthday present was a trip into surgery for tubes in his ears (which helped finally get rid of months-long ear infections). It is kind of amazing to think my wife and I have gone almost an entire year without more than a few hours of sleep per night.

So, as I look at my /Played time for August, it echos my entire year: I play the same number of hours per month as I used to play in a single weekend (day even). However, he is a cool kid; pictures to prove it:




I have embedded the new What I'm Playing/What I'm Paying spreadsheet for June below. The overall spreadsheet (includes previous months) can be found here.




Game of the Month

NONE. I chased my son around all month instead :)


/Played

Bioshock

I finally got around to beating Bioshock. The setting is absolutely stunning with an amazing story. I am unsure why I didn't get into it the first go around. I elected to save all of the little girls, so was greeted with the "happy ending". I hit up youtube for the "not-happy ending" and was like "meh". When Bioshock 2 goes on sale for under $10, I am all over it.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

It's Battlefield and a great game. I put a good amount of time this month into unlocking all the weapons. Now I am working towards getting Bronze Stars (25 kills) with each weapon. Also, working on my spreadsheet each month, I realize I need to play this game A LOT more to justify its initial cost.

Left 4 Dead 2

The parrot on my shoulder says: "...working on my spreadsheet each month, I realize I need to play this game A LOT more to justify its initial cost." I love the Bridge finale for "The Parish" campaign. It's everything I want in the zombie apocalypse.

Freedom Force

For $1.87 I didn't expect much from the game. After about an hour of play though, I'm bored with ot. I thought it would move faster (being a Super Hero game and all), but I'm finding it to have a glacial pace and it feels constrained. I will give it a better shot at some point. Any tips?


/Paid

Total spent this Month: $0.00
My Value Rating: n/a

I made no gaming purchases in August.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Oh, Fuck You Mythic and those dirty Skaven too

Warhammer Online is getting a three-stage "RvR" pack as outlined in this letter on the main site.  Skaven, realm rank increases, and magic, fucking magic (ok maybe no more magic is being added, but it sounded good).

My initial reaction: cool. 

My reaction after reading the entire letter and thinking on it a while: fuck Mythic.

The first issue I want to bring up:
WAR is not going Free 2 Play: We’re not considering this option right now.
Just by the mere fact that they mention this (first thing they mention interestingly enough) I am convinced they've recieved a ton of feedback requesting a Free 2 Play model for WAR.  That they are NOT considering at this point is indicative to me that WAR is doomed within the dark dungeons of EA.  There is plenty of evidence out there showing that Free 2 Play models can be successful after subscriptions failed the first go around.

So instead of a F2P model, WAR is going to split it's RvR pack into three seperate purchases.  Splendid!
Additionally, we will continue to offer that buffet of services by offering the entire RVR pack purchasable in three segments.
Next, we have some talk about the lessons they learned from Dark Ages of Camelot:
We are increasing the RR Cap to 100: This goes hand in hand with a rework of the Renown Ability system. Our goal is to make the Renown Ability system less restrictive, more customizable and closer, in spirit, to the RA system from Dark Age of Camelot. In the past ten years, we’ve learned a lot of lessons from DAoC, and we’re taking our inspiration from this. At the same time, we’ll be easing some of the grind from 1-80. RR 100 will be a challenge, but we will take responsibility for making sure that the power gap between lower RR’s and the higher RR players isn’t an insurmountable obstacle to overcome.
Read that again:
In the past ten years, we’ve learned a lot of lessons from DAoC,
No, I don't think you are understanding what they are saying:
In the past ten years, we’ve learned a lot of lessons from DAoC,
FUCK. YOU. MYTHIC. What honestly did you learn from DAoC? That waiting until years after to release to fix fundamental problems is a disastrous idea? Honestly, had Mythic learned anything from DAoC, WAR would not have suffered the embarrassment that it did at launch. Sorry Mythic, you ignored what was learned from the development and lifetime of DAoC and its too fucking late to go back and try to fool us into thinking you did.

I'm done. Finished.
Bye.
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