The Obsolete Gamer Show: Greg Street (Riot Games), Lead Designer of League of Legends


Greg Street joins us on the show and as current lead game designer for Riot Games and their mega hit, League of Legends and his former position as lead systems designer of Blizzard’s mega hit, World of Warcraft you might think we will be talking a lot about games, well you’d be wrong. We’re talking cruises!

Greg is going to be one of several high-profile guests on the upcoming, GaCuCon Game Cruise convention and event being held in Miami on January 26th thru 30th 2017. Hosted by the Miami based, Game Trep team and Make Games Miami, it’s the first of its kind so we wanted to get Greg’s thoughts on conventions, interacting with fans and being stuck on a boat with nowhere to run.

Don’t worry we asked a few gaming related questions too.

You can check on more on the GaCuCon and even book tickets for the cruise on the link below.

https://www.gacucon.com/

You don’t get the show #14: Genital Removal, Risque IOUs and Black Friday Stories


We have Ubisoft removing female genitalia from Watch Dogs 2, DOAX3 DLC featuring tear away swimsuits, a Chinese online student loan company that uses nude pics as IOU’s and a whole lot more in a packed pre-Thanksgiving pre-Black Friday show.

You don’t get the show #12: Mistakes were made


J.A. and Randy tackle the fallout over the Hello Games tweet stating that No Man’s Sky was a mistake and how there needs to be a filter to keep people from making problems for themselves between their brain and their keyboards. J.A. update us on his World of Warcraft addition and Randy tells us about the wonders of anesthesia.

You don’t get the show #11: The W.O.W crack is Back!


J.A. gives into his World of Warcraft addition and surrenders to the crack and Randy takes pride in helping to bring him back into the fold. The show is taken over by W.O.W. talk and how things have changed not only in the game but the players as we have both aged since we have last played.

You don’t get the show 1: We’re like school on Saturday…no class


Brand new show we open by finding out just how long it takes for Ignacio to use the bathroom before our recordings and it’s all downhill from there.

J.A. talks about the lady in League of Legends who was totally down with a three-way with him and his girlfriend sight unseen because “Love don’t got no eyes.”

We also learn that you can find real legitimate gameplay video on sexy sites which not only confused J.A. but wait till you hear why he was on those sexy sites to begin with.

Now the show isn’t complete without “normal” gaming news so the guys talked about Blizzards meeting with Nostalrius the group behind the WOW legacy servers.

You can check out their official website.

We also answered questions from our Facebook Group page.

So not bad for a first show of what is pretty much the anti-Obsolete Gamer Show and if you like it please comment, upvote and visit all our links and stuff including following us on our Twitter page.

And if you really like us we are on Patreon so you can send us your hard earned dollars so we can finally get Ignacio a bedroom organizer.

And if you didn’t like it or got offended, you don’t get the show.

Siege Breakers Sessions #2: Black Friday Madness

steam-black-friday

The Siege Breakers Sessions podcast returns post-Thanksgiving with our round up of what the gang did during our holiday including all the Black Friday purchases we made from all the choices from Steam to Greenman Gaming.

We got derailed for a moment as J.A. was asked to talk about some of the horrible tech support experiences he had during his time working in phone support.

From there we moved into more League of Legend talk were the discussion quickly turned to the need or lack of need for a surrender button and that far too many games have been turned around after someone has called for the team to give up.

The EA hate returned in some form as J.A. admitted to purchasing the premium edition of Battlefield 4 during Black Friday while Magnolia has sword off all EA purchases even the next Mass Effect to Mighty D’s surprise.

Guild Wars 2 make a topic appearance due to Mighty D’s mentioning missing out on the beginning of World of Warcraft.

Finally Magnolia filled us in on the changes we can expect with DirectX 12 and how we will get better performance from out CPU’s which will mean better gameplay and longevity for newer and older systems using the Windows 10 platform.

Warning: The Siege Breakers Sessions Podcast is NSFW and and contains adult language, seriously if you get easily offended stay out.

You can find our podcasts at the following locations:

ITunes

Stitcher

iPodder

Player FM

Digital Podcast

Pod Directory

DOTA 2: A Game for Crazy People?

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I played my first game of Dota 2 a week ago at the time of this writing, and am currently sitting on 34 hours logged. This is with two days spent out of town, away from my computer. 34 hours in 5 days, then. For a week, my computer has been little more than a Dota 2 delivery vessel. I am a man obsessed. Consumed, even. I dream of sick ganks and clutch ults. The distinctive sound of a stack of gold dropping, a reward for a last-hit, or the choir heralding my hero’s return to the battlefield, echo in my brain even as I write this. Any experienced Dota player will tell you that 34 hours is but a pittance, that I cannot even begin to plumb the depths of the game, much less attempt to relay them to you, the reader, but I feel I have no choice but to try. This is the first of hopefully several pieces journaling my descent into the madness that is Dota 2.

DOTA 2: A Game for Crazy People?

First, the absolute basics: Dota 2 is the “sequel” to Defense of the Ancients, or DotA, a free mod for Blizzard’s Warcraft 3. The original DotA is possibly the most-played mod in history, and is still actively supported. It spawned an entire genre pretty much single-handedly, the genre now known as MOBAs, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas; a  descriptor so vague as to be meaningless, but nevertheless the one we seem to have settled on. In MOBAs, two teams of 5 players face off in an enormous map. Their home bases are in the bottom-left and top-right corners of the map, and the map has three “lanes” running along the top, bottom, and middle. Each team automatically spawns minions, or “creeps,” periodically, which march unthinking down the lanes attacking whatever they see. The goal of each team is to break down the other’s defensive towers and ultimately to destroy the opponent’s Ancient, sitting in the middle of their base. Players gain gold and experience from killing creeps and other players, which are used to level up and buy equipment.

Dota 2

The main thing to understand about Dota 2, and the overarching theme of any discussion of it, is that it is fucking crazy. It is a mutant, an aberration of game design. Its mechanics seem to have been half-designed, half stumbled-upon, and never revised. In some ways, it is the essence of an RPG experience. You pick a character, grind low level mobs (“farm creeps” in Dota 2 parlance), and level up and load them out until you are an unstoppable force. Rather than take place over 40 hours or 40 days, the entire experience can be had in 40 minutes, and it turns out it is still massively satisfying. In other ways, it is totally unique, even alien. Sometimes, you want to attack your own creeps, so as to “deny” your opponents the full XP and gold from their death. Other times, you want to sit back and abstain from attacking anything at all, so as not to push the front line forward into enemy territory, where they have the defensive advantage. The game is loaded to the gills with idiosyncrasies large and small.

Dota 2

Dota 2’s title may suggest that it is a sequel, but in reality it is essentially a port of the original DotA into the Source engine. The Warcraft 3 engine had some particular quirks and features that DotA inherited by necessity, and they have been largely carried over into the new game. A new player may wonder, rightly, what the point of a full day/night cycle is. At night, units have shorter visibility, and there is one hero who is underpowered by day and reaches his full potential by night. A new player might wonder why, if you pull neutral creeps away from their camps for a crucial few seconds, exact replicas of those creeps spawn in their camp, leaving you with two identical sets of creeps to farm? These are minor features, arguably a bug in the latter case, borne of the Warcraft 3 engine. One might think that they might be streamlined or cleaned up. But no. “Streamlined” is not an adjective one should ever apply to Dota 2 under any circumstances.

Dota 2

This game has an info-density that would put any MMO to shame, and to be competent at the game you better be ready to absorb all that information, fast. At the time of this writing, there are 101 playable heroes, out of a planned 110, each with 4 abilities (unless they have 5 or 6!). Some of these may be active abilities, things like spells or techniques, while others are passive, meaning they are really more just a character attribute. Learning your own hero is feasible over the course of one match, but without some knowledge of your teammates’ and enemies’ heroes, you may be in for some unpleasant surprises, like being struck by lightning literally out of nowhere. Or perhaps a ghost pirate ship will come barreling out of the woods next to you and run you over. All’s fair in love and Dota.

Dota 2

These heroes are categorized by roles. Some of these roles are familiar to anyone who has played any kind of RPG, such as “durables,” a.k.a. tanks, or “nukers.” Some are completely unique to Dota, such as “carries,” who start the game underpowered and must be protected by other heroes, but grow in such a way that by the end of the game they are unstoppable. There are 15 (ish – it’s fuzzy and with lots of overlap) of these roles, and a hero may fill any number of them.

Dota 2

In addition to all of this are the items. There are dozens and dozens of items, which can have some fairly substantial effects on your character’s abilities. With the right loadout, you can even nudge a hero into a role they may not be primarily suited for, as befits your team composition. Items can only be bought at the shop in your team’s home base. Unless you go to one of the “secret shops” strewn about the map which have a separate inventory of items that can only be bought there. Don’t worry if you can’t get over there, though, because each team can also have a “courier,” a separate character that can ferry items from any shop to your character. You should coordinate with your teammates though, as each team’s courier can be controlled by anyone on the team at any time, (or killed by an enemy because, whatever! Dota!) and you don’t want any confusion.

Dota 2

So yeah, this game is fucking crazy. To their credit, Valve is trying their damnedest to lower the barrier to entry and improve the experience of new players. By far the most successful of these, for me, has been the game’s integrated guide system, which highlights the abilities you should be developing, in order, as well as presenting you with the items you should be focusing on for your hero. This has helped immensely, as the stress of having to learn what these scads of items do can be temporarily put aside while you focus on the already ludicrously daunting task of simply learning who these characters are, what they are capable of, and just what the hell is going on at any given time.  Make no mistake though, you will still need several tabs of Dota 2 wikis open at the start of every match to try to piece together what you are facing.

Dota 2

Even then, Dota 2 can be frustrating in a way that most other games would take great pains to prevent. Half of my games have ended with a character (usually for the opposing team) seeming so completely overpowered that I feel like they must have found some sort of exploit, that this cannot possibly be the way this game is meant to play out. But no, no, that’s just how Dota 2 is. There is also the ever-present threat of verbal abuse by your teammates. Dota 2 is a team game more than any other I’ve ever played, and if one member is noticeably worse than the others (or worse, drops from the game), the entire team will suffer dramatically for it. This genre is notorious for promoting discord amongst teammates, and Dota 2 is unfortunately no exception. Bring a friend, or four.

Dota 2

So why, then, am I doing this? Why am I submitting myself to the incomprehensible heroes, inexplicable random deaths and interminable abuse? It’s hard to know for sure what makes Dota 2 so compelling. I think partly it’s what I suggest above, that it can provide the satisfaction of a good RPG in microcosm, as over the course of one match your character grows from a fragile, defenseless creature to a fearsome force of nature. It is game as power fantasy, but this one makes you work for it, every time.

Dota 2

Beyond that, though, is the simple satisfaction that mastery of a complex system can give you. I, like many gamers I suspect, need to understand my games, to master their mechanics and bend them to my will. This, then, is perhaps the largest, most complex, most seemingly indomitable system ever conceived within the realm of videogames, and thus my greatest challenge. At 34 hours in, I have barely reached the point where I understand what is happening most of the time; where I am able to follow conversation between and maybe even play with those who are far more experienced and skilled than myself. Just getting to this point, overcoming the brick wall of confusion and frustration and negative feedback to arrive here, at basic competence, is already one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had. The game’s runaway success may seem inscrutable given its absurd complexity, but having played it for just a week now, it seems unnatural that it is not the biggest game in the world already.

Dota 2

My previous experience falling deep down a gaming rabbit hole was with Starcraft II. Starcraft II, like Dota 2, is a game of almost limitless depth. It is also the exact opposite of Dota 2 in virtually every other way. Starcraft II often gets compared to chess. It may be asymmetrical, with three distinct factions with different fundamental mechanics, but Blizzard takes great care to keep things balanced, to make sure that every unit plays a core, elemental role in the overall game system, in pursuit of the perfectly balanced competitive experience.

Dota 2

If Starcraft II is a modern day chess, honed by game design masters, then Dota 2 is Cowboys and Indians, being played by a gaggle of eight year old boys, arguing over who missed whom and who is secretly wearing a bullet proof vest. If Starcraft is about a relatively small number of units and mechanics interacting endlessly to create new situations, Dota 2 is about implementing literally every idea that anyone connected to the game has ever had, in the hopes that if every hero is completely overpowered, it will all come out in the wash. The result is an experience that is at once sprawling, messy, disheartening, unpredictable, organic, empowering, and above all completely, endlessly, fascinating.

The Gamers of Origin PC

Team Origin

The Gamers of Origin PC

One of the questions I was often asked during my time at Alienware was, are you guys really gamers and do you play games at work. I can tell you originally pretty much everyone at Alienware were gamers, just check out our interview with co-founder Alex Aguila and our gamer profile for Nelson Gonzalez., you can also check out our interview with Arthur Lewis. When I started back in 2001 most of us were avid gamers and would often have Lan parties at HQ or meet up to play games.

In our editorial where we asked, do you have to be a gamer to be in the industry? My opinion was that you do not need everyone in the company to be a gamer, but it does matter to have key people who at least understand the culture. When we talked with Origin PC not long after their launch it was clear the management understood games and gaming culture. It is also clear they are all gamers check out the gamer profile for CEO, Kevin Wasielewski and COO, Hector Penton. If you need more proof perhaps we can show a picture of their arcade games cabinets and Mr. Penton’s wall of PC game boxes.

In the meantime, here are some gamer profiles from Origin PC team members and if you want to game with Origin PC you can find them on Raptr and on Steam.

final fantasy 7

Name: Erika Mckinster

Gaming background: Final Fantasy series, Goldeneye, DOOM, Quake, Halo, Mass effect Trilogy, World of Warcraft, Diablo trilogy; too many to name!

Favorite classic game: Final Fantasy 7

Favorite modern game: Mass Effect

What are you playing now? Torchlight 2 & Borderlands 2

quake 1

Name: Fabian Santiesteban

Gaming background: As a child I was an avid gamer from the Atari 2600 while working my way up to the Sega Genesis to the PC’s of today.

Favorite classic game: Quake – Quake may be the most influential game of all time. Not the best game, not the most innovative, but the most influential. Nothing beats a god old fashion First Person Shooter.

Favorite modern game: MMORPG – My gaming preference roles have changed. Today I am a big fan of EVE Online – Age of Conan and The Secret World.

What are you playing now? I am currently playing Diablo 3 and looking to level up my toon to 60 so I can start my paragon levels. I am looking forward to the incoming patch that will give you the opportunity to group up to 8 players which will make it much more interesting.

mists-of-pandaria-world-of-warcraft

Name: Daniel Ovalle

Gaming background: I’ve built my own computers since I was 18 and was immersed into hardcore gaming while working at Alienware.

Favorite classic game: Quake

Favorite modern game: Too many to name.

What are you playing now? World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, SWTOR, Civ5, Guild Wars 2, Diablo3

counter-strike

Name: Jorge Percival

Gaming background: First ever encounter with gaming was an Atari 2600 that my parents had, though I was very young they tell me I wouldn’t let go of it. After that I can happily say I owned most consoles to date mostly for exclusive tittles. The fall of 1993 was when I really began paying attention to PC games when my uncle purchased DOOM for his PC, I was completely hooked on that game. Consoles introduced me to gaming the PC has kept me here.

Favorite classic game: My favorite classic game will always be Counter strike (pre source days) this was my real introduction to competitive gaming and the first game I truly took serious. I followed all the pro’s and tournaments I would fully engulf myself in the scene and what was going on during those days. Quake comes a close second.

Favorite modern game: My favorite modern game……….. would definitely have to be League of Legends, this game shows how great gameplay is still at the heart of a good game. We all love graphics but the game needs to have good mechanics and gameplay to continue to grow past its release. I am also a huge fan of RIOT as a developer they do great job of interacting with their community and are supporting the e-sports push here in the states.

What are you playing now? Right now I have lowered the amount of games that I play at a time (mostly due to League of Legends lol). League of Legends, Torchlight II, Borderlands 2. Those would be my top 3 in that order.

Quake 2 - Rocket Arena 2

Name: Tony Berry AKA Miztic1

Gaming background: Started gaming on C64/Atari 800XL then moved to the NES and all other consoles where I got hooked on gaming and once I got my first PC I discovered Wolfenstein 3D then eventually Doom and Quake 1 and those sent me over the edge of the gaming abyss.

Favorite classic game: Tossup between Quake 2: Rocket Arena 2 and Ultima Online. Consoles would be Legend of Zelda on NES.

Favorite modern game: This is a tough one, I would have to say WoW

What are you playing now? WoW, Diablo 3, torchlight and league of legends.

destruction derby

Name: Alvaro Masis in game (Propane)

Gaming background: Have been playing games since Lode Runner and have played on multiple platforms favorite PC by far

Favorite classic game: Favorite classic game would be destruction derby for the Commodore 64

Favorite modern game: Eve Online

What are you playing now? Guild Wars 2, Eve Online, Torch Light 2

Diablo III: Release Date

World of Warcraft subscriptions dropping, hey, look over here, Diablo III is coming out and we have a real date this time. You can pre-order Diablo 3 now on Battlenet for the official release date of May 15, 2012.

diablo-3-announcement

So what do we expect to get with this release date? Well, what we know is that it must have been rushed, which is weird since it has been so long. However, features such as a PVP mode and the Mystic artisan will not be available at release and will be patched in later.

Is every game that is to come out now will just be patched to be finished?

So are you excited yet?

Is Blizzard getting Desperate?

Does this make anyone want to go back? Can you see the crying now from the diehards on the boards mad because 80’s are being given out like samples at Costco.~J.A. Laraque

Is Blizzard getting Desperate?

So we see Star Wars is trying to pad their numbers by having a Free Trial Weekend, but before that Blizzard tried handing out the goodies like your ex trying to give up the booty to get you back. Now, we know World of Warcraft is dropping subscribers like Netflix before their reversal, but it gets even worse.

The wow whore give-a-way

We already know 600 employees are getting the boot, which is like the writing on the wall in blood and now WoW is giving out the goods. If you come back you will not only get a flying mount so you can sit in your major city with 20 other fools running around on it. But if you bring back a sucker, I mean friend with you get a free level 80 character, a free upgrade to a Cataclysm-enabled account that allows access to all of the game’s current content and 7 days of free play time.

Does this make anyone want to go back? Can you see the crying now from the diehards on the boards mad because 80’s are being given out like samples at Costco. It is kind of strange to see two big companies with two big mmo’s both begging for attention. I guess if we are really bored and a glutton for punishment we can really clean up.

Nah, I rather play Men of War.

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. ~J.A. Laraque

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

When you get above age 30 a lot is changing and a lot of has to do with what you believe you should be doing and the direction you should be going. For many gamers there comes a time where they decide if gaming in part of their lifestyle or something they did in their youth and now it becomes something they need to leave behind. For those who continue gaming it will always be different, not only because we are older with different responsibilities, but because many who we used to game with will have moved on.

mmo cafe

When talking about MMO’s many people talk about Everquest and the early days of World of Warcraft the way a man might talk about his college days. You remember a time when you were free and could do what you want and it was celebrated as well as expected. Now, you have to “grow up” and “be an adult” and the fun times as you knew them are over. This is not to mean that there will not be fun times ahead, but that it will never be like it was before and depending on the person this may make them feel that anything that comes next just could never live up to the old and really for the most part, it cannot.

Everquest Friends

So when you talk about that 48-hour camp in the Efreeti room was it that the time spent killing the same placeholder over and over was so much fun or that it was the time in your life that it happened more fun than now. With many of the new MMO’s being released the idea is the teenager with tons of time on his hand in the past now has work, marriage, kids and so on to deal with and cannot spend time playing 12 hours a day. Of course, there is also the people used to having everything handed to them to consider as well.

If you associate, your fun days with a MMO and now those fun days are over then it will be almost impossible to get that happy feeling back no matter what a game does. You could make an exact copy of a game, but now its 10 years later and maybe that awesome boyfriend lost his job and does not do what he used to or your sexy girlfriend is pregnant and angry. So you load up an MMO and hope to have those fun filled nights you had fighting twin emperors and you just cannot find it and you blame the game.

World of Warcraft Guild

I have always said it is the people who make the game so if you played with great friends in EQ then most likely many of those friends have moved on. Now, you have to try and make new friends or gather the few you have left in a new game, but you cannot bring that magic back. This does not remove responsibility from the game makers. Many MMO’s are just lazy and they rather copy and play it safe than innovate. However, many of the arguments comparing the old to the new are the same we do with movies or television shows. The glasses are rosy and the memories seem so much better than the present or the future.

Perhaps this is the reason MMO’s can be played alone more now than in the past. The EQ and even vanilla WOW generation is much older. Can most of you who raided in EQ find 40 good people to raid and play with day after day, week after week. Can you find 25 or even 15 and if so is it just as fun being with them in the game regardless of the game?

Wow guild

Many who find games like Star Wars, The Old Republic fun are not just fanboi’s. I have found people who like to solo like the game. Many who did not have big guilds in EQ or Wow like the game and those who have retained a good core of gamer friends like it because they get together and enjoy each other’s company in the game first and the actual game second.

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. In between game time, you would hang out, talk with your friends and interact with the gaming community. Now, you have many more responsibilities and less time.

thunderboss

So for many when a new MMO is announced, especially if you have not played an MMO in a while and have friends interested in giving it a try. You end up putting more than hopes of a good game on the product. People hope it will rekindle that fire, bring friends back together, improve your life and games by themselves cannot do that. There are documented reports that leaving an MMO can end relationships, friendships and even marriages so it is understandable that people think an MMO might create what it can also destroy.

We still have to make sure MMO makers do a good job, and create and maintain the game they promised. However, we should also realize you cannot relive Woodstock, and for many games our “Woodstock” was EQ or WOW.

MMO Rewrite

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it. ~J.A. Laraque

MMO Rewrite

I think it might be time to rethink the MMO model. Just as many people get older and make adjustments to their lifestyle the same has to be done with MMO’s and it’s not just graphics or even just game mechanics. The change has to come based on how the community has grown and changed and adjusted to these types of games.

mmo boxes

Let’s look at Everquest, a game many people look back on with rose colored glasses. Most people never did more than a few quests in vanilla EQ. You would run out and start killing rats, bats and beetles, but because it was new and different it was fun, and many accepted it for what it was.

People claimed there was a better community in the past and it was true because it was so hard to level and groups meant everything so you were forced to play nice where today you can dump and find groups so fast many will not tolerate even one death much less wipe after wipe like was the norm in Everquest.

Everquest

People look at Star Wars the Old Republic and complain because you can solo to 50 and the companion system makes the game more like a single player game. However, even in early World of Warcraft most people could solo to 50 and sure there were zones that needed a group, but it was not a requirement and a good number of people were denied groups for level 45-50 zones due to their class or other factors.

Turning back to Everquest, people forget that grouping was more about locking down a spawn than the fact that you really loved to group. In Lower Guk your group would camp one room and if it had a drop like the Flowing Black Sash there would be a rotation. You would be in the same group for hours because if you left good luck getting back in.

Everquest 2

So where did the change start? First, it began when people realized some classes could kite in EQ like Druids or Wizard. In games like City of Heroes, we saw people really begin to only group to finish their mission and then they would quit. When World of Warcraft went from 40-man to 25-man raids and the birth of the clicks occurred grouping took another hit because people were forced to do pugs and then the idea of pubs became so repugnant that if anything went wrong people would leave in a second.

In Everquest 2’s early days, groups would share Exp debt when someone died, so if you made a mistake the whole group might disband. All this, along with the increasing drama on message board forums, and more and more people joining the world of MMO has led to its decay.

City of Heroes

Originally a “server first” meant something, but soon it became a job with people working in teams to reach max level first. The idea of eating through content was considered a virtue as everyone wanted to be first and honestly, many learned back in the days of EQ that it was the first guilds to encounter new content that were the ones to find bugs and exploits and reap gains from them before they were removed, fixed or nerfed.

Then the great expansion came and MMO’s started popping up overnight and just like 3D movies we realized many should not have been made. We were already paying $15 for one MMO, who in their right mind would pay two or three of them. Free to play was enviable, but it also had flaws due to things like having the richest person gain an advantage or companies charging for the smallest things just to nickel and dime you to death.

Players saw games close for the first time and companies abandon their player base by offering little or no new content or support. The insert game here killer became a running joke and it was expected that any game to come out was doomed to fail because either it was not enough like game X or too much like it.

World of Warcraft

Finally, we all got older. The teenager is now in college, the young man now has a wife and kids and the basement dweller has a full time job. Want to know another effect of having a casual friendly game, when they are done with it they are less likely to move on to another and more likely to just stop gaming altogether.

There has been a lot of heat on Star Wars and they deserve a lot of it, but we as gamers need to realize that MMO’s need a rewrite. There will never be an Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot or World of Warcraft experience again. Even those who were the ten-year-old gamers will not experience games the way we did because the times are different and because of this MMO’s need to adjust just as our expectations of them should.

My prediction, games will get smaller not larger. Remember the, it’s time to slay the dragon commercial for EQ? Sure, it was made fun of, but there was something important there. It was about 5 or 6 friends coming together in a game. I believe that is our future. The large raids and guilds of 200 plus members are over. MMO’s will become games where you can solo and then call a few friends to do larger content.

star-wars-the-old-republic

Also, MMO’s have to drop the monthly fee. Remember EQ 2 and their 5-dollar content updates? It was a complete joke at the time, but I see that as the future. No monthly fee, weekly bug fixes, maintenance and patches, but every few months you buy a chapter consisting of new quests and zones for a small fee with one big paid expansion per year.

This allows gamers to switch between MMO’s , but still provides enough revenue to keep games going. If companies keep looking to have 20 million subscribers, they will continue to fall short. We have all grown and changed and its time MMO’s followed suit.

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it.

Otherwise, we will just jump from bandwagon to bandwagon waiting for the would-be giant to tumble and laugh as it falls right on top of us.

A little game called HuttBall

[youtube id=”UgHCYaN_V3Q” width=”633″ height=”356″]

The thing about games like theses is you can easily believe the goal is to kill people and sadly like many Battlegrounds in World of Warcraft people only care about their kill count.~J.A. Laraque

A little game called HuttBall

So this is not so much a full guide as it is a small explanation of one of the PVP battle zones in Star Wars the Old Republic. Hutt ball is kind of like Rugby with guns and light sabers. The overall goal is to take the ball that spawns in the center of the arena to the enemies end. This sounds simple enough except the enemy team can do anything to stop you.

huttball

The thing about games like theses is you can easily believe the goal is to kill people and sadly like many Battlegrounds in World of Warcraft people only care about their kill count. The arena has two main hazards that can be used to your advantage. One is several fire burners than are on a timer and if you get caught on top of one when they go off you are as good as dead. The second are two acid pits that when you fall in them kill your pretty quickly. Also, when you fall inside them you walk slowly so the chances of you getting out are slim.

Huttball_fire

Looking at the arena there are various platforms that can lead to the enemy goal line and many ways you can get knocked off pretty much guaranteeing you won’t score. This is where knockback abilities come in. Almost every class in SWTOR has some form of knockback and this can be used to knock you into fire, acid or off the platform.

Another very useful tool is stuns or things to slow you down. First off, everyone can sprint when not in combat so when fighting you walk slower. Pretty much all classes can slow you down or stop you in your tracks with an ability. Stopping or slowing an enemy can be used for people holding the ball and for those going after the person with the ball. To combat this you can pass the ball to people.

Unfortunately, most people don’t pass or even know you can. Passing is done by clicking the pass button and then moving the icon over to where you want to pass it. Keep in mind if the person moves or is killed then the ball falls and respawns in the center. An enemy player can also intercept the pass.

Huttball_arena

Passing is great if your team is split between defending the ball carrier and moving ahead in case the ball carrier gets trapped or slowed or caught in something. The winning teams learn to pass to the right people at the right time and when done right can mean a quick win.

There are a ton of different strategies to this game, however, most people just run around killing with only a few really trying to score or defend. Perhaps there is because the game is still new or because like in W.O.W some people really just suck at anything besides pressing a button to kill someone.

Overall, the game is fun with a good team and if you go in as a guild or with friends it can really be fun if you another good team. The best part is there are no ties, if the score is tied whoever has the ball when time expires wins.

Just one tiny part of Old Republic that makes it a really great MMO.

Ten Questions: Matt Barton

Matt Barton is one of the smartest and most interesting people you can find online discussing, loving and showing off old & new games. Now, although you should preferably get to know him via his work on Matt Chat, the Amrchair Arcade and some rather impressive books, reading the following interview should be both enlightening and considered as an appetizer.
dungeons and desktops dragon-1
1. Matt, care to introduce yourself to the merry retro loving lot that are the Gnomeslair.com & Obsolete Gamer readers?

I’m Matt Barton, host of Matt Chat, a weekly YouTube show dedicated to classic games. I’m also co-founder of Armchair Arcade and author of Dungeons & Desktops and Vintage Games (co-authored with my friend and colleague Bill Loguidice). I’m also an assistant (soon to be associate) professor of English at St. Cloud State University, where I teach classes in writing, rhetoric, and new media.

2. And what would you say some of your favourite games are? Any particular love for a genre or a gaming machine?

My favorite genres are adventure games, role-playing games, and strategy games. Some of my favorites include Baldur’s Gate, Pool of Radiance, World of Warcraft, Civilization, and the Nancy Drew series of adventure games. I have many consoles, but my favorite gaming device is the PC. Going further back, I will always be an Amiga and Commodore fan at heart.

3. So, Armchair Arcade, how would you describe the site and what’s the story behind it?

We were friends on a forum dedicated to Shane R. Monroe’s Retrogaming Radio show. We talked about putting together an online magazine, and eventually set it up. For awhile we focused on “issues” and tried to make it look like a retromag. We were amazed by how much attention it got, frequently mentioned on Slashdot and many other sites (even Slate and the Discovery Channel). Eventually, though, we morphed into a blog format and started selling our features to other sites (especially Gamasutra). Now we use AA as our home base for communicating to fans and fellow retrogamers, talking about our latest projects, and so on.

4. Same question on the incredibly well produced Matt Chat episodes… How did you decide to start a video show on retro games, and what would you say is this little something that makes Matt Chat unique (for, believe me, it is unique)? By the way, love that gaming wall you got in the background.

Matt Chat has come a long, long way in a short time. When I first started, it was just me and a webcam trying to hawk my books. The production quality was terrible! But I wanted to learn more about videos because Bill and I are producing a feature documentary for Lux Digital Pictures (Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution). I figured I needed more experience with videos to really handle a project like that, so I kept learning and experimenting, trying to refine my techniques. If you notice, I usually try to put in one more technique or one more refinement per episode, so I’m always learning something new.

I don’t think Matt Chat is unique. There are many, many other YouTubers out there doing similar shows. For instance, ianwilson1978 does great work on the Sega Genesis and Marlin Lee covers a variety of games. I guess one thing that makes my show special is that I feature games from all platforms, especially covering PC and computer titles that the others miss. Most other shows are dedicated to consoles, especially Nintendo classics. I figure those games already get enough love, so I try to cover ground that is not covered by the other shows–such as Dungeons of Daggorath for the Tandy CoCo, Tunnels of Doom for the TI-99/4A, or even the PLATO platform. I also feature interviews with classic developers, such as John Romero and Al Lowe. I’ll soon release my interview with Chris Avellone.

5. Really, is it tough producing something of this quality on a weekly basis?

It can be. Sometimes my editing program (Sony Vegas Platinum) crashes so much during rendering that I’m tempted to just give up. I would really love a better setup! The other big problem is capturing footage from games, especially old Windows games. Even with fraps, virtualdub, and the rest, it can be a nightmare sometimes capturing decent footage.

Other than these purely technical problems, though, it’s not hard at all. I can easily come up with things to say, and I like researching the games anyway. I also enjoy inserting inside jokes and humor, and interacting with the fans is a real joy.

6. How about your books? They are two on games and one on Wikis, correct? Do you feel gamers actually bother reading?

I think most gamers are highly intelligent; at least the ones I talk to. I know plenty of professors and graduate students who are serious gamers. But, of course, there are many who never pick up a book. That is sad, of course, since I couldn’t imagine living life without good books to read. It’s really important to read good books, not just newspapers and such. You can always tell when you’re talking to an avid reader, because he or she will be more knowledgeable on a broader range of topics–plus, I think it makes you more articulate and, frankly, intelligent. I had a friend who read War and Peace just for fun, but he told me later he felt more intelligent after reading it. Some people laugh at comics and graphic novels, but they are actually much more sophisticated now than they used to be. You could certainly learn a thing or two from Moore‘s work.

There’s really no excuse for being ignorant. So read!

7. Now, let’s focus a bit on the rather epic Dungeons and Desktops. Why CRPGs? Could you briefly describe the book? Has it sold to your expectations? Did you enjoy writing it?

It’s pretty much what it says; the history of computer role-playing games. I tried to talk about every important or even remotely influential game in the book, describing what makes them fun and how they fit into the grand history of the genre. I tried to show connections across eras and styles, so you could get a sense of the diversity. Someone may have heard of Baldur’s Gate, for instance, but be unaware of Planescape: Torment, Pool of Radiance, or Eye of the Beholder. I meet people who may know all about Zelda and Final Fantasy, but have never heard of Ultima or Lord British. That bothered me, so I thought it was time to write a book on the topic.

The book has sold well. Of course, something like this won’t be a bestseller. But I wrote this book for people like us, not the mainstream. By “us,” of course, I’m talking about people who love games like Wizardry and Fallout and enjoy nothing more than talking and thinking about them.

8. Should we expect more books from you? Maybe even a new project or collaboration?

Almost certainly, though it’s very hard to find publishers interested in game books. I have been dying to write a book on adventure games similar to D&D, but no takers so far. Bill and I have been talking about a book on the Atari 2600, and I’ve got one on virtual worlds that needs development. We will probably also write a book based on our documentary.

9. And now for something that interests me quite a bit on a personal level. How did you really manage to -effortlessly, it seems- combine an academic career with all this quality work on computer and video games?

In a sense gaming is my job. A professor is expected to research as well as teach, and game studies is an important part of new media. I’m presenting on aspects of gaming at two national conferences later this year (Computers and Writing, Rhetoric Society of America). People tend to think of “English” strictly as literature and grammar, but it’s far more than that! There are many of us studying games as well as other technologies like wikis and social networking. All of these things involve communication and rhetoric.

10. Finally, have you thought about actually creating a game yourself?

I have, though I’m not satisfied with the results! But a few years ago I taught myself C++ out of some books and made a simple adventure game, which I entered into the Interactive Fiction contest. I was shocked that it was 28th in the 12th annual interactive fiction competition. At any rate, it was fun learning C++, and I’d love to try something more ambitious one day.

Khan’s Corner: First Impressions of Dominion


For those who don’t know what League of Legends is, Google it. I’m not here to be your fucking Wikipedia! What I am here for is to let you know my godly absolute and factual opinion on League of Legends new game mode, Dominion.

What is Dominion?

For those that played WoW (and don’t pretend you didn’t) it is basically Arathi Basin with minion waves and a fog of war in the center of the map. There are five points in the map and you must claim them, defend them, and reclaim them in order to secure the fought over resources for your team as you slowly dwindle away the enemy team’s nexus HP bar. Sounds pretty wizard doesn’t it? Well it is! It is pretty damn wizard.

What’s the big deal, Mr. Khan? Why is everyone getting so excited about a new game mode?

What’s the big de… WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? The release and implementation of Dominion is pushing the Defense of the Ancients style of game play to new heights. The addition of new game modes in the genre known as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) adds more to the static play style which is associated with these kinds of games. No longer will HoN, DoTA, and LoL fight over which game has better laning! Now the games will have to put forth some innovation to compete which will really help this genre grow.

Who cares about new modes and innovation? Gear of War 3 is out!

Don’t care about innovation? You don’t care for change? How would you like if Gears of War played like Doom 1, huh? Would you like if after years upon years of FPS games coming out there weren’t any new game modes? Zombie Assaults? Horde modes? Capture the Flag? Secure Points? You’d rather your FPS just be fucking Free-for-All death matches? Look reader, before you open your fucking mouth again, I suggest you think twice unless you enjoy sounding like an insipid dickfart.

Now that we’ve got a little backstory done on what Dominion is, let’s get into what I think about Dominion. I know, I know! This is the best part of the article.

Dominion is amazing for many reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I see the flaws but there are so many pros that outweigh the cons of this game mode. The normal MOBA game mode match lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to well over an hour. The amount of time needed to sink into a match of Summoner’s Rift can be daunting. What if your mom wants you to pick up your room? What if your baby woke up and is covered in shit? What if someone drives their car through your house and you have to deal with the aftermath! In all of these cases, gaming takes the higher priority but if for some reason you feel compelled to leave the match, you can be reported as a leaver which is a bannable offense! You really have to make sure there is plenty of time in your schedule to get through an entire match without being penalized.

Swain is going fuck someone in the butt

Dominion matches normally take anywhere from 15-20 minutes and trust me on this, the miniscule amount of time it takes to do a dominion match doesn’t take away from the full on hardcore Annie on Timbers action. Why is it so quick? As long as one team has three points covered and kills some enemies here and there, the nexus HP bar goes down. There is constantly something to do and that bar will go down. There is no way only 2 points will be constantly controlled while a third point remains neutral. People fight over resources in games and in real life. It’s an inherent reaction to go running to establish superiority and murder those who would claim stake over your land.

The style of this mode is a twist on the Arathi Basin concept in World of Warcraft. Before any of you nerds flip the fuck out and says “ACTUALLY ARATHI BASIN COPIED ( insert game here)” , I am using AB as an example because it the most relatable reference I can make to the masses. Fuck, you guys are dicks. Anyway, back to the matter at hand! Like AB, you run point to point claiming resource nodes for your team increasing the amount of HP you drain from the enemy Nexus. There are minions in between each node charging towards each other. You don’t have to kill minions in this mode but it is smart to do once in a awhile because minions capture nodes exponentially faster than a player. It’s also nice to have fodder between you and an enemy who skill shots. You can see anything going on anywhere in the map from the main roads to the nodes. The only areas engulfed in the fog of war are the enemy spawn point and the center of the map which houses a variety of buffs, such as a temporary speed increase and health packs.

Screw you Twisted Fate and Annie. Dis be mah node!

Riot is a genius company, let me tell you! I expected there to be an issue with fools who try to top the kill charts and forget about the objectives to win the game. A lot of people just feel an unexplainable bloodlust to chase down an enemy Singed instead of forcing him to run so you can capture his resource node. What Riot implemented to make people realize there is more to this mode than skull fucking your enemy was add an in-game ranking system which lets you know how well you are doing compared to the rest of your team. It takes into consideration your defending kills, your capturing of nodes, and slaying of enemies. This allows your team to get their heads out of their ass if they want to get that MVP rank and not look like a total scrub.

The time frame and familiar objective style factors into something fantastic for the community and popularity of the game as well. It opens up accessibility to players who haven’t taken the leap into the MOBA genre. Yes, League of Legends is free to play but the stress and unforgiving nature that comes from the classic game mode is for many new or casual players nerve-wracking. With the nostalgic Arathi Basin-esque flow and the manageable 15-20 game time it makes the plunge so much easier. Let’s throw in some similes so you bitches understand. Pre-Dominion: League Of Legends is like jumping into the water at the beach. It’s pretty awesome and a lot of fun but your eyes burn from the salt and holy shit would it suck if a jellyfish stung you! Post-Dominion: League of Legends is like going into a hot tub and there are two chicks DTF. The kind of chicks who would put their finger in your ass if you asked them to. Fuck! Dominion is awesome!

If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, there isn’t a better time than now. With Dominion being a fast paced, enjoyable, and forgiving game mode for novice and veteran players alike this is the time to get into the MOBA genre. Join millions upon millions of players in this quickly blossoming and wallet friendly gaming. See you in the Crystal Scar, Summoners.

We are too hard on Cosplayers

When I was at Blizzcon and had a great time meeting people from all over the country and the world. While there I also met some people who dressed up in various costumes from Blizzards games such as, World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. Some of the people there were dressed up for the costume contest Blizzard held, but others just dressed up for fun.

Often Cosplayers get far too bad of a rep. Most of the time these people just want to have fun and step out of their daily life temporality into a world where they have had many hours of enjoyment. I understand that some Cosplayers take it too far. I personally have seen people dress up in places that were inappropriate.

However, I have found that this is a small minority of people. On the other hand, much of the attacks against Cosplayers come from how the person looks in their costume. I have seen some posts that showed a character like Sakura from the anime Naruto. She is a petite fifteen year old ninja, but the person dressing up as her is a three hundred pound middle aged man.

I get it, it’s like when you go to a nude beach and the only nude people are over the age of sixty-five, not a good time.  Much of the scorn against Cosplayers comes from those who think they are much too cool for games or anime or comic books. Some of these people have no problem dressing up in the worst looking clothes to head to a club and wait in line for hours to get in, but that is cool, right?

The bottom line is if people want to go to a Star Trek convention with Spock ears then they should be able to without ridicule. As long as it kept within the confines of the convention or party or festival, for me at least, it’s completely acceptable. Now furries on the other hand…

Subscription MMO’s soon to be a thing of the past?

DDO Free-to-play

Is the writing on the wall that paying monthly for MMO’s is soon to be a thing of the past? When some of us started playing text based adventures the idea of paying by the minute for internet service was acceptable, but soon unlimited plans became the way of the land and everyone had to jump on board. Fast forward to the early days of Everquest, when the decision was made to raise the price of their monthly subscription. The player base revolted saying EQ would be done for if this move was made, but as how addiction works, we continued playing.

Perhaps that was a turning point, when these companies knew they could push their customers just far enough if their game was good/addictive enough to keep people from quitting. We learned with games such as Asheron’s Call 2, that if a game sucks people will run away, but we also learned that if a game is good enough one could make money without being number one.

When World of Warcraft exploded the common wisdom was that no other company would dethrone Blizzard anytime soon, but they could offer an alternative, just enough to make a profit. We saw a boom of new MMO’s show up with many I am sure you have never heard of. However, many of these MMO’s were turning a profit, enough to keep going and the industry thought things would level off.

guild-wars

When Guild Wars dumped the idea of monthly subscriptions, many people laughed at the idea. Even after the early failure of Everquest 2, most MMO’s were doing fine even in the large shadow cast by World of Warcraft. Not everyone was laughing because not only was Guild Wars a good game, but there was not a model that could be used that had already been used with many Asian MMO’s.

When we first saw a MMO go free-to-play it was thought that it meant a game was failing and in many cases that was true. Games like Age of Conan saw a mass exodus, but it was still salvageable so going free-to-play made sense. The same happened with Lord of the Rings, less players, but worth keeping up.

When Sony Online Entertainment launched the Everquest 2 free-to-play it became more common place to offer a subscription service alongside a free-to-play where you could sell additional perks and services. Not only did that extra revenue work for the free-to-play side, but for the subscription side as well.

Now seeing MMO’s go free-to-play alongside a subscription service is a normal occurrence. If the game is older, like City of Heroes it may bring in new blood. If the game is newer, like DC Universe Online it may give a dying game some new life. In SOE’s case if nothing else, they can convince their subscribers to go All Access to help pad their subscription numbers.

aoc_free-to-play

Even the MMO superpower World of Warcraft has seen its numbers drop sharply and not just people who stop logging in but keep their account active. Blizzard has been losing subscribers by the boatload and they are not just waiting for the next expansion, they want a new game. On the horizon, we have Old Republic. While it looks as if this game will be a hit so did DCUO.

There are many gamers from the early EQ days that consider themselves retired from MMO’s for a variety of reasons. Some of the newer gamers are burned out and they experienced an over saturation of MMO’s some good, some not so good, but the key was there were too many to subscribe to. Now many people are getting used to the free-to-play model and with W.O.W. perhaps beginning its slide down, the field may open up. Not to one dominate MMO, but a widening choice were you don’t have to slap down $50 plus $14.99 just to see if it makes it past the first month or not.

Studies show that if you charge ten bucks for a 15-episode television show, it may or may not sell well, but if you offer each episode for 99 cents, you will end up making more money in the long run. If you play a game for free and a one-time fee of five bucks gets you that new mount you will feel more inclined to buy it. American’s have run into debt because we don’t realize a three dollar cup of coffee three times a week is four hundred and sixty-eight dollars a year.

everquest 2 free to play

Only time will tell how free-to-play will change the MMO landscape. For those of us who can enjoy a game and walk away it may become a great opportunity to experience many new games. For those that have to have it all, it may start up a new debate about MMO addiction and how people go broke by purchasing a two-dollar sword here and a ten-dollar name change there. Think it cannot happen, look for the headlines on Second Life where people pay two hundred bucks a month for a virtual condo. Kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t think of this sooner.

 

J.A. Cares: Trial Addiction

casey_anthony_fight
Street Fighter auditions were held at the Casey Anthony trial this year.

I did not know that I had a contract that states I have to help someone at least once a year. Hell, I did not know I had a contract. Oh well.

Jane Abby from Pendleton OH writes:

Dear J.A.

My 36-year old sister is addicted to the Casey Anthony trial. I feel for the whole thing, but my sister use to go out and do things. Now, all she does is sit watching the Orlando feed of the trial, 24-hours a day. How can anyone do such a thing? Help me!

My thoughts exactly, Jane, the CA trial has no boss loot and the faction you get cannot be used outside of Orlando and really, unless you are hitting a theme park or dying, why the hell would you be in Orlando?

Check this out Jane, perhaps your sister could go be a bouncer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-kTqQME-aI[/youtube]

I haven’t seen ladies this riled up since the great Bed, Bath and Beyond super sale of 2009. It’s like the O.J. trial all over again except NBC said black isn’t in this year so they went with an all-white cast.

Perhaps your sister can practice flipping off the D.A. and earn time in jail and a fine:

Seriously, who does the hand in the face bird flip off (yes, that’s what it’s called) past 9th grade. If the guy went with the nose picker reverse bird flip with a tuck I would have given him a 9.9.

Listen Jane, you need to just hack your sister’s television and show here a Law and Order episode. I mean I thought all trials lasted ten minutes max until I was arrested myself. Man I was pissed, I kept waiting for the commercial break so I could get the hell out of there and it never came.

Oh, right, your sister. Yeah, there is nothing I can do for her except get her to play World of Warcraft at the same time. Did you know it’s free to play until level 20?

 

World of Warcraft: Free till level 20

World-of-WarCraft-Cataclysm

It looks as if the wave of lowering prices in MMO’s continues. Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft will be replacing its 14-day trial with a free-to-play of sorts until you reach level 20.

Here is part of their statement:

“We’ve removed the previous 10- and 14-day trial time restrictions, and players who are interested in trying out World of Warcraft can now play the base game for free up to a maximum character level of 20, including draenei and blood elf characters—all they need is a Battle.net account and an Internet connection,” Blizzard explained in a statement. If you ran through a previous 14-day trial, you can go back to your character and continue to play from the point you left the game if you’d like, but the level cap will be set at 20.

This is a kin to giving you a taste of crack for free, but then comes the kicker, the new lower price.

Blizzard goes on to say:

…players will be able to get both the original World of Warcraft and the game’s first expansion set, The Burning Crusade, for only $19.99 as part of the new digital Battle Chest now available in the online Blizzard Store. In addition, anyone who owns the original World of Warcraft, regardless of when they purchased the game, will automatically be able to access all of the content and features from The Burning Crusade expansion at no additional cost.

So they pull you in with a free taste and then hit you with a low cost. I wonder if there is a specific reason for this move besides forcing other companies to compete with their prices. We already learned Sony Online Entertainment is lowering their subscription rates and with more and more MMO’s heading to free-to-play it looks like the online gaming world is changing.

Now the question is, is it changing for the better?

 

Cryptic Studio Has Moved On But Have Their Games?: Star Trek Edition


For those of you eagerly waiting for this review after the sudden ending of the previous portion of this two-part article, I apologize. I wasn’t having problems with time or just pure laziness. No, I had problems with how to word my feelings towards Star Trek Online and how best to give an honest review without completely belittling the game. I know, I know. You’re used to that kind of response from me but I decided to be a bit more delicate with how I explain the faults and pluses of STO.

So here goes…

It is laughable to think that Cryptic Studios thinks of STO as an MMORPG. While all the big boys in the room strut their stuff with content, gameplay, character growth, and easily defined instructions, Star Trek Online stumbles and fumbles around the room like a drunk teenage girl at a frat party. At the end of the night, the only ones with a grin on their faces are the real MMOs while STO is dabbing off semen from its face with wet naps.


Wow… I feel uncomfortable reading this. I’m going to just-

What could possess me to attack Star Trek Online in such an unrelenting manner? Is it because I could barely give the game a shot beyond level 4? Yes, it is! I got to level 11 in FF XIV and that game is the equivalent of dining on Indian food , beautiful to look at but horrible to digest. I have never been unable to hit at least level 10 in an MMORPG but Star Trek Online managed to prove me wrong.

That sounds horrible, Mr. Khan! Why was it so god awful?

That’s an easy question to answer, Little Timmy. The game’s initial tutorial manages to be not only fast paced but slow at the same time. There’s a ton of jargon thrown around that doesn’t make sense to begin with and there isn’t much of an explanation as to what any of it means. All I got from the tutorial was that I could shoot lasers and photon torpedoes when I’m in my ship and when I’m on a ground mission I can shoot laser beams and “backstab” the enemy when I attack from their blindside. There really isn’t a clear definition in the beginning what role your class plays or what kind of ships you are able to command. I was certain I was limited to Science Ships since I chose the Scientist profession but I later found out from a friend that I could pilot any ship. Oh, that’s fucking fantastic to know.


For those of you who enjoy looking at your character and face stomping the enemy while adoring how badass you made your Vulcan or Custom Alien, sorry to disappoint but the game is lacking in ground missions and you are spending most of your time viewing the ass tail of your ship. How engrossing! Yes, you can customize your ship but the differences aren’t that vast aside from size. The ship customization is as in-depth as the shape variations presented in a Lego Kit. Everything is a block except some are half a blocks! Whoop-dee-fucking-doo!

From a game with such an absorbing avatar customization, it’s a shame that you spend your time running slow naval circles around enemy space bandits. As far as I could grasp the tactic was to go half speed and adjust your acceleration and deceleration to complete this amazingly slow circle strafe around your enemy to knock out their shields and ass fuck them with photon torpedoes. Combat got repetitive quickly.

The game’s missions were probably the most bland I’ve ever seen in an MMO post 2006. “What was that, Ensign? There’s no one in the quadrant? I guess everything is… Oh my god! Space Bandits out of fucking nowhere!” That was as in depth as the missions got at level 4. They didn’t want to showcase more early on maybe because there wasn’t anything left to show.

The ground missions were probably the worst part about leveling. I should be excited to see my captain running about shooting bitches in the face and parachuting off planet sized drills like in the movie, right? Too bad! I was limited to picking up resources on a planet and randomly getting jumped by “Unknown villain #3” and then transporting back to the ship. Oh wait, I forgot. There were more options. I was able to go to a mining site to speak with a couple of diggers to see how they felt about their jobs and report back to their manager. Yup! They called in the space fleets special forces to settle a dispute about a broken holodeck in the break room.

"Come on, Team! Lets pick up some rocks!"

Now, I understand I have been harsh on the game and there is a reason for that. If STO were a free to play MMORPG, I would dress it with every accolade known in the universe. A free to play space RPG? Sign me up! Let me have fleeting moments of fun!

Unfortunately, the game isn’t F2P. It’s Pay to Play and it’s $15 a fucking month. This game has a huge pair of balls to even consider charging people. Cryptic was fortunate enough that people even purchased fucking the game. It has the depth of a game developed for a smart phone.

STO lacks the environment, quests, gameplay, and depth of games like World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and even City of Heroes. Quite a bold statement coming from a level 4 Lieutenant, right? That’s why I’m not saying for people to keep away from this game. Play it if you like, it’s your money. I personally don’t see the justification of this game being $15 a month. You’d probably find more fun in Runescape for a cheaper price.

Perfect Worlds purchased this title when they acquired Cryptic Studios. What potential they see in this hunk of shit I will never know. The game is an MMO-abomination and is better served on a free to play model or simply a box sale model like Guild Wars. Then and maybe then it would be worth the time it takes to patch and login. Until that unlikely day comes about, STO will remain uninstalled and far, far away from my computer.

Cosplay: Cataclysm in my Pants

Thank you for calling 1-800-Fappathon, we are not in the office right now. We are currently at E3 2011 getting fresh pictures for our next Fappathon Cosplay. Please enjoy these World of Warcraft pictures in the meantime and leave a message after the tone.

 

 

Behavior Links


No, I’m not writing about an indie game called Behavior Links or a freshly unveiled game at E3. Today, I’m going to take a step away from the controller and/or keyboard to talk about a little bit about a charitable organization.

Oh shit, guys! He’s going to ask us for money!

We here at Obsoletegamer rarely ask anything from our readers. We gift you with wonderful reviews, nostalgic time warps, and editorials that cause unprecedented levels of butt hurt. In return, you continue to come back and show your loyalty. True enough, however, I am asking for a donation. It doesn’t have to be monetary but what I really want is simply a donation of your time. I would like, if any of you are capable, to donate simply out of the goodness in your hearts. I don’t, however, want people to blindly donate to a cause they don’t understand.

Behavior Links is a charitable organization that assists families with special needs children with a wide range of services ranging from therapeutic services for children and their families, educating and training families in other countries, and lowering the costs of services that many families with special needs members struggle with everyday.

Still with me?

Excellent! You don’t have to donate money to help them if you don’t have the flow to assist but how hard is it to spread the word to someone who does? You can also help by searching the internet with GoodSearch.com. And the cheapest method is to volunteer! I know some of you must be acne ridden left-wing extremists! Volunteering is a great way to show your support while being hip and cool with your PETA friends!

If I haven’t convinced you yet, think back to all the memorable moments special needs children have been there for us. From shaking your hands in the hallway with a smile that goes ear to ear and never letting go to the tear jerking episodes of Glee that involved Sue Sylvester’s sister. I’m sure you can muster up sort of experience that will open up your hearts.

If you’re in Miami on June 10th, at 7:30 PM a ‘Music-Art-Culture‘ Night even will be held to enjoy some live musical entertainment, art exhibitions, and auctions. Want a plasma TV or a Disney package? Who the fuck doesn’t?! Quit playing the auction house in WoW and come try it out IRL!

We apologize from deviating from the norm here but this is a great cause to help out a group of great people.

Thank you all and if you somehow missed the link in the article…

http://www.behaviorlinks.org/waystohelp.html

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Pre-E3 2011

E3-2011

This week we had a full house as we went over some of the things we are looking forward to at this year’s E3. We began first with a few news items that were posted on our Facebook page. One of the news items talked about married men divorcing their wives to play World of Warcraft and the other was about Chinese prisoners being forced to play World of Warcraft, we felt marriage, prison and W.O.W. went together perfectly.

We then talked about the rumor that Nintendo is going to announce the Wii 2 at E3 2011 and that it will include a Blu-ray player and be faster than the Playstation 3. We all could see how good Zelda, Kirby and Metroid would look on the new system. We also talked about Sony apologizing to their fans and perhaps giving us something else to talk about. We also spent a hot minute bashing Call of Duty 3.

All in all a great show and we were happy to have Paul and Mark with us. Next week we will be at E3 2011 in L.A. so look for our full E3 2011 podcast coming soon.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: The Pre-E3 2011 Show

Or have a listen on our official OGS page and let us know what you think.

Or download our podcast from Itunes

EQ2 Has The Worst Players On Erf!


Everquest 2, you know I love you girl, but these fools that be playin’ you… damn girl. You are littered with them! Horrible, atrocious, vomit inducing players run amok on the fair lands of Norrath like ticks sucking on, well, their own suck!

Oh boy, here we go! Another biased opinion about a game and the one isolated event that brands an entire community. Go back to WoW, fag! Lolololololol

Shut up, baby doll. Daddy’s talking.

I have played many, many MMORPGs. The kind of person who would rather play solo than mingle with the masses is not how one would describe this guy right here, the Great Umar Khan. Nope. I like to get involved with the community. I like to remember names, experiences, and how well I match with certain people in a team based environment. 1999, fellas! No yearlong breaks from the genre. I’ve slutted my way into many a community with my impeccable social and gaming skills.

You come off as an asshole!

Bollocks, I say!

Back on topic, of all the games I’ve played, loved, and also “hit it and quit it”; Everquest 2 has some of the worst players in any MMORPG. Despite my feelings for EQ2, her only flaw in my eyes are the ones who entertain themselves on a daily basis with her company.

Warcraft has the worst players, you homo!

Quiet, you anti-Semite!

That doesn’t even-

Someone mentioned my name!

I’m not saying that all players in EQ2 are bad. Every game has bad players but EQ2’s players are in a league of their own. Bertoxxulous really outdid himself with his latest plague of stupid and unskillfulness that has infected the playerbase.

 

As a troubadour, should I be out DPSing the wizards? If your answer is a yes with a hint of implied inquiry in the tone then you should understand the absurd level of shock I had leveling my flamboyant bard on the Permafrost server. More often than none was I the top DPS of the group or only outdone by a Shadow Knight tank. Very few came close to my numbers unless I was in the rare group where someone wasn’t busy watching their kids.

House wives, why are they even allowed to be playing EQ2? Shouldn’t they be busy playing Sims and Farmville? They have no place in trying to understand parses and pie charts from ACT. They can barely grasp how a Chocolate Cow in Farmville produces Chocolate Milk. Here’s a hint. IT’S A FUCKING CHOCOLATE COW!

The skillfulness to push buttons in a certain order isn’t even as mind blowing as the level of stupidity that sums up the vastly growing amount of total shit tanks in the level 70 range. How stupid can they be? One occasion I remember better than the others would be of the tank I kept asking to repair. We were at The Estate of Unrest and this gallivanting Berserker of worldly renown (/sarcasm off) had destroyed armor. I don’t know if its because he tried to tank while using a 2handed weapon despite our pleads for mercy or his claims that he could tank Bugaboo notwithstanding numerous attempts ending with the monstrous haunt face planting our tank into an early grave but this underdeveloped Neanderthal stood out like a golden ring at the bottom of a clear riverbed. We were all in the voice chat channel and finally his slack jawed Midwest accent began to wear thin on my patience. Stupidity spewed forth from his mouth like shit from my asshole after eating at Chipotle. How he managed to even understand how to set up his headset astounds me to this day.

“Hey dude, your armor is broken. Go repair. We’ll wait for you.”

“WAH!”

“Multiple pieces are 0%. You can’t tank like that especially when you’re using a two-hander.”

“WAH!”

“Because your durability has gone down the drain. Just go repair. I’ll go with you. I can teleport us back.”

“WAH can’t I tank with a Two-Hander if my armor is broken? I don’t get WAH!”

“Are you fucking with me right now?”

I’m cutting the reiterated blabbering short but to sum it up, I eventually convinced him to go repair after 5-6 minutes.

God, this editorial is getting long and I hope you’re still with me because there is more!

The community in EQ2 believes it to be okay for people to go AFK during a dungeon crawl. I can’t even count with the fingers on my hands and toes on my feet how many times we had an AFK leecher in our group. If it’s a guy, there might be someone bringing up the occasional “lol is this guy coming back?” But Lord forbid if it’s a fucking woman, though! She will AFK the entire session or return right before the boss. She’ll join the fucking group and then say “Hey guys, I’m cooking dinner at the same time. Give me a second.” That second turns to minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, and days into eons! An exaggeration? Perhaps! But a bitch shouldn’t join a fucking group if she has something else to do! “Oh hey guys! What are we doing? Crushbone? Okay I’ll be the healer. By the way, I gotta drive to the corner market for a second! Don’t kick me :)”

Fuck! There are just so many other instances where this category of shit has happened to me in only EQ2 but I don’t think I can get into all of them with my trademark long winded bantering! Fuck it all to hell!

I know I could easily deny myself of these experiences if I only made my own group and wrote off some of these people with my own iron fist ruling. Trust me, I have! I don’t take shit when I’m group leader. I don’t like having my time wasted while someone is eating shit in real life. This is my break before real life kicks in and you’re ruining those precious few hours I have. There are just sometimes where it’s easier to join an already forming group than taking the reins into your own hands.

Some of you may not agree. You might feel that my little experiences are biased and that I must hate women, that I’m a fat virgin. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong. And maybe, just maybe, you’re a cum dumpster too! If that’s the case, EQ2 is the game for you.

The Alienware M11x r2 Review

Alienware M11x r2

Let me start by saying this review is more for the casual gamer meaning it will not be filled with charts and graphs and a ton of numbers that most would not understand. There are a ton of super technical reviews on the Alienware M11x r2 that provide every benchmark number and rating score you will ever need, this, is for the rest of us.

Why purchase a gaming laptop?

For the causal gamer one might wonder why you need a gaming laptop. My answer would be that you don’t, but the great thing about gaming laptops is they have the power for everything else you would need to do so why not have the ability to play games as well?

Far too often, we as computer shoppers select a low cost laptop to save money knowing we want one that we will not have to replace within a year and one we secretly wish we could play games on. Perhaps paying $1500 plus for a gaming laptop would not be for us, but at $1000 you are not too far away from laptops you find even on sites like Tech Bargains.

If you know you like to game and especially if you like MMO’s then having the ability to pull out a gaming laptop and play those games anywhere is well worth the price.

Alienware M11x r2

Price

Most reviews do not start with the price, but this is not like most reviews. The M11x can be purchased starting at $1000 on the Alienware website. At the price you can get more than enough to run most of the games a causal gamer would playing including FPS, RTS and MMO games.

The Outside

Do looks matter? Sure, they do just ask Apple, the Alienware M11x does look sleek, like a stealth bomber. The all black styling of the laptop goes well with almost any décor and let’s face it, it looks good either at home or out in public. I have had a number of people comment on the system specifically the neon-like light coming from all over it.

Speaking of lighting there are several zones of the computer that light up from the keyboard to the grills on the front and the little Alienware heads. The great this is using a program built in called Alienware FX, you can change all the colors to what suits you and you can even mix and match them for a funky clown look if you wish.

Outside Details

Let us go into some specifics about the outside. First off, the laptop weights about 4.4 pounds and while that may seem heavy to some in the day of the iPad it is still pretty light. There are three USB 2.0 ports, to connect things like mice, a HDMI and Display Port to connect a monitor, FireWire and a headphone jack for audio privacy. There is also a place for a special Kensington lock, which you buy separately so you can lock your laptop to a desk or somewhere else it cannot be stolen from.

Alienware M11x r2

The Inside

As said, there can be debates on which processor works best with this program or that game, but for the purpose of this review we will keep it simple. For the$1000 version of the M11x you get the Intel Core i5 1.4GHz processor. From what I have found using it, it does the job for the games I play and the programs I use, but I will go into that shortly.

Next you have the memory which at that price you receive 4GB’s. If you really get into gaming big time and you want the newest game on the highest setting then people will tell you to go with an 8GB or higher system. I personally do not have that on my desktop and do fine and with 4GB you have more than enough RAM for most any task you will be doing gaming or otherwise.

As for hard drive space, that decision is made based on how much you store and install. At the $1000 price, you get 320GB’s, which is a lot of space. Considering you have a desktop at home, you most likely do not need all this space.  Even if you do not and the laptop is your sole computer, unless you install every game and have a music and video collection out of this world then you should be fine. However, Alienware offers more hard drive options that offer more space.

Video is of course very important not only because of games, but everything visual on your system. Here it can get tricky because there are desktops and even some laptops that offer dual video cards in SLI and all kinds of options. The video card on the $1000 system is the NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M and I have found it works great for the games I play and for watching video in high def.

The rest

There are other things of note that come with the M11x like its wireless network card, which is necessary for gaming on the go. The system also has a standard network port to plug it in at home, the office, and school or where have you. The operating system is Windows 7 home premium 64-bit, which I have used on my desktop for quite some time. I personally think this is the third best O/S behind Win 95 SE and Win XP, so you should not have any trouble here.

Alienware M11x r2

Usage

This is what matters, but it is also, where it depends on what you do. First off, let us talk battery life, with the 8-cell battery under normal usage I have found you get a little over 5 hours of battery life, but if you are playing games, it will be less than that.

As for gaming itself, I tried the Alienware M11x in the game World of Warcraft in its native resolution of 1366×768 and was able to run the game with full graphical features with no issues even in heavy populated zones. Perhaps the key is the smaller screen, which is 11.6 inches, which can seem small when you have a user interface with a ton of icons, but I found I was able to get used to it.

In a game like Everquest 2 that uses more CPU power, I also received good frame rates even in open zones. Now I was not able to max everything out in EQ2 specially the shadows, but I was able to crank up the texture models and general graphics to make the game look great and playable even in a raid.

Other games I have played include Fallout 3, which ran fine, a number of Steam games and emulators since I am a classic gamer. I also played StarCraft 2, which ran fine. I also run various programs like Ventrilo for communication and Digsby, which is an all in one instant messaging client. I also run Firefox with four or more windows open at the same time to check websites and information, all while playing a game usually in windowed mode.

As for sound, it sounds much better than your normal laptop, but we have to be honest that even though it has internal Hi-Def 5.1 audio it does not match what you get out of a good pair of PC speakers. What I found that worked for me was the volume does get high which was an issue on other laptops. Music and games as well as movies will sound good coming out of the M11x and even in a loud room, the speakers are loud enough so you can hear it from the highs to the lows, bass and treble.

The keyboard feels good and types well even when you are slamming the keys crying for a heal. I never liked the touchpad, but this one is built well and does not easily activate when the heel of my hand brushes against it, still, I perfect a USB or wireless mouse.

As for warranty, you receive a 1-year plan, which provides hardware support, and of course phone tech support. I cannot say much here because I have not had a need to use it yet.

Overall

I personally like this system, I am sure there are things that could be better, but for most of us this system will perfectly fit your need for work, school and gaming. The laptop itself feels sturdy and well build and the cool look is a nice touch, but most important is the price and how it performance and it does both well.

I you have questions on the m11x r2 from Alienware leave a comment and I will answer them.

 

The MMO Separation of Church and State

It’s been awhile, loyal readers. Yes, I know I’ve been away from awhile and even though some may not care, I am here. I will allow you a moment to shuffle towards your nearest box of tissues to clean up the mess your mayonnaise blaster just shot off.

Ready now? Good.

With that embarrassing mishap behind us, let me indulge with you a story of days past. Yes, the story will again involve MMORPGs as the major focus point but do not worry; I will stray from this tired path in the future.

Years ago, back in 2006 when some of our readers were still teething and dropping goat pebbles in their diapers, there was an archaic game known as World of Warcraft. I’m not sure if many of you have heard of it. The game is incredibly underground with a miniscule population.

In those golden days, PvP wasn’t about fighting another player for hours. It wasn’t about outlasting foes. It was like how PvP was in almost every other game in existence, including FPS. Fights were quick and fast paced. It wasn’t about every player being Batman and trying to pull off as much bullshit as possible. It was about an Enhancement Shaman with Windfury WTF raping their way to victory. It was about the Mage hiding in the back charging up a Pyroblast combo. It was about a rogue hiding and doing what rogues do best, assassinate.

For some reason or another, they decided that fights shouldn’t be so quick and involve such a maelstrom of destruction. Thus, resilence was born; a stat aside from PvE defenses where player damage could be mitigated. What were the reasons for this? Was it the ocean of tears from people that were getting taken out by one person? Could it have been the advantages a raid gear character had against hardcore PvPers? Was it so that Arenas weren’t filled with full DPS team ready to leave craters in the wake of their wrath?

All of those reasons are sound and legit. The one that I felt holds the most truth is the fact that raid geared PvE’ers were capable of casually going to PvP and whirlwinding their way to victory. It is for this reason alone that I believe there was a separation between PvE and PvP.

What is the purpose of this division? Why is that PvP’ers and PvE’ers must separate from one another? Why couldn’t there be one stat system that to keep things united?

I understand that PvE’ers are able to acquire gear through a lot of coordination and time and I also understand that PvP matches tend be much shorter than a raid encounter. It wouldn’t be just in rewarding them with equal gear as that would anger the carebear community.

Resilence only seemed to make sense for Arenas since you generally wanted to last longer in that kind of scenario and it is because of that where I believe Arena gear is the only stat difference that should be available. Mass PvP shouldn’t have this kind of separation.

Raiders can still raid to get their gear but there could’ve been a more inventive way to reward PvP players. Battlegrounds could have been divided by tiers of difficulty and/or objectives rather than how they are now. The first tier battleground could be the PvP mirror of a heroic where during the battle, mediocre gear drops off of fallen enemy players and whenever a tower was taken down or whichever of the multiple objectives in that match is achieved, a loot roll comes up for players with random loot and of course whenever each objective is completed they are rewarded tokens to use as currency to purchase gear as well. Essentially, it the same mechanic as a heroic instead it is applied to a PvP scenario.

The next tier could have a much more difficult objective to complete which would take a bit more coordination on the player’s part and so on. This style of loot progression would allow both PvE and PvP gear to be interchangeable. How come dungeons with new mechanics and situations are constantly added but battlegrounds have remained the same?

What’s sad about this situation is that since World of Warcraft is the staple of a success in the MMO genre, every game is coinciding with this stat system in their games even when it doesn’t make sense. Resilence always appeared to be an arena stat but was quickly pushed into every PvP scenario. Now games like DCUO have toughness instead of defense and Rift has whatever the hell they use. I think it’s toughness versus defense as well but I don’t give a shit. Games where these mechanics are applied don’t even make sense yet they seem to be adopting the format regardless. It causes the PvP experience to force someone in the PvE realm to start from the beginning again and vice versa.

Don’t these companies think player’s have already enough of this whole “starting over” situation every time a new expansion comes out and they have to grind new factions and gear? This shit isn’t needed. Stop pitting people into these situations and allow PvP and PvE to be interchangeable and not some form of morbid segregation.

That’s end of that rant but…

A quick note to other MMORPG companies out there,

Stop copying World of Warcraft and start being creative. This genre is becoming like the FPS genre where 90% of the games out there want to be Call of Duty and all we get are the same fucking things over and over again. Stop sticking to this format and start getting a creative team together. One day, Blizzard is going to become like Apple and sue you for copying their shit over and over again.

And before one of you asshole readers say, “WoW isn’t original. It copied EQ, and EQ copied UO, and UO copied Meridian, and Meridian copied—“ Just shut the fuck up. I don’t give a fuck who copied who. Each of those games was vastly different from one another and even the mechanics that were taken from either of those games have evolved from each generation and iteration. Fuck!

Rift Q and A

Rift Logo

Unless you have been underground or on another planet you have undoubtedly heard of the latest MMO that is taking gamers by storm. Rift launched a few weeks ago offering gamers massive dynamic battles, the ability to build your own class and a Pvp combat system unlike any other. A lot of the Obsolete Game staff have been playing this game and slowing down our productivity, but it is totally worth it. We recently had a chance to talk with Scott Hartsman, Executive Producer for Rift about the game and the future of MMO’s.

Will you offer end game content at the time of release and if so can you tell us a bit about it?

Scott Hartsman: These days a game can’t be called AAA unless it has both advancement content as well as a healthy end-game.  The trick is finding the right balance between time spent leveling up and everything that comes later.

Once you turn level 50, there’s two new group instances waiting for you, then two tiers of expert modes for all the instances in the game to date (11 instances) which unlock new bosses and areas and advance the instance’s story.

There are also level 50 zone events in the high level zones (and more will be added constantly).  Initially, one 20-player raid instance has been released (with more coming over time).  There are crafting recipes to continue to collect.  Artifact collections to continue completing.  Achievements to obtain.  Rare crafting recipes to be discovered. Then there’s the level 50 PvP warfront (The Battle for Port Scion), the PvP Prestige leveling system, and so on.

What is your plan for rolling out content patches big or small?

Scott Hartsman: A week after launch, we released the first four of the 10 man raid rift encounters.

Our major update schedule (approximately every 4-8 weeks) contains new zone events, full world events that last for days, new encounters, entire new types of content, as well as entirely new zones and instances, and of course constant feature addition and refinement.

We’re doing our best to make sure that there’s always a good reason to come back and see what’s new.

Are you afraid of cookie cutter builds that can end up plaguing the game?

Scott Hartsman: We’re always keeping an eye on it, but so far it’s not a big concern.  Different builds have different strengths and the spread we’re seeing is very encouraging.  Our system is built more around the idea of bringing the player, not bringing the perfect spec.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 1

When creating a MMO even if you have the lore and a vision in place there must be some things you look to add, take away or modify from other MMO’s or games, was that the case with members of the Rift team and if so can you tell us about that?

Scott Hartsman: For us it was mostly about making sure we had enough ways to express the story beyond having interminable walls of text.  Our event content became a great way to introduce notable characters and give them a personality.  We did evaluate our use of voice toward the end, and added enough to give the characters flavor, without over-voicing everything.

What kind of PvP mechanics do they have in mind for servers where the population is unbalanced and a faction needs a leg up to compete?

Scott Hartsman: Our PvP isn’t really about having to have perfect population balance at the shard level.  If we get into more mechanics that do require balance in the shared world, we do have a few ideas for ways we’d go about combating that. 🙂

Your ads mention that the players “are not in Azeroth” anymore. Beyond that, what are some of the differences someone may find in a game like Telara environment-wise?

Scott Hartsman: In terms of the environment, the biggest, most obvious evolution is the world full of event content of all sizes.

“Events” in our system range from a single NPC doing something out of the ordinary, to public events like Rifts and Invasions aimed at solo and group players, to massive full zone and world events where hundreds of people are teaming up in multiple raids to defend the world.

It brings a level of excitement and urgency that I’d be hard pressed to compare to what’s around in any other MMO.  The dynamic events are the main idea – The static content and quests are the backdrop where the events take place.  Flipping the idea of game content around like that takes a bit of time for some people to wrap their heads around, but once they do, they tend to have a hard time imagining going back to a game where they’re not always happening.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 2

For a startup company, you guys are pulling out the big guns in regards to advertising. Not many MMO companies take this approach. What made you decide to televise commercials for the game?

Scott Hartsman: We genuinely believe that we have a pretty great game here.  Throughout all of our betas (through game metrics, retention, polling, you name it), we learned that people thought so as well.

All of our tests proved that the more people who tried it, the more people who walked away with a positive impression of it.  Not all games work out like that.  When you do see it happen, you double-down the bet. Expanding the awareness of RIFT via TV is one small part of that.

What are some of the mechanics that you feel make Telara stand out on its own in a sea of new MMOs?

Scott Hartsman: The biggest one that people encounter within their first seconds of landing in Rift is the soul system.

You choose your Calling right off the bat, then you have multiple souls to play with within the first few minutes of the game.  We’re finding that this ability to customize yourself and collect up to 9 souls currently, across 4 specs, is turning into one of the biggest systems attractions in the game, as some people frequently do nothing but play with creating new builds for themselves.

Most importantly, more groups form much more easily.  When more people can heal or tank or provide support if they choose to, but don’t feel they’re forced to all the time, it’s great for the overall grouping environment.

How much focus will you put on hardcore players giving feedback on what should be changed within Rift, will the community as a whole have a say on what changes may come about?

Scott Hartsman: Hardcore players tend to spot the more subtle flaws in any system, as they’re the ones who spend as much time analyzing games as the designers themselves, and a fresh perspective from smart people can be a great source of new enlightenment.  The hardcore folks also tend to be the first to experience anything, so they tend to spot issues before anyone else.

Other than that, there’s no difference between the way hardcore or casual feedback is treated.  We have more avenues to be reached than any other MMO that I’m aware of, and we pay attention to all of it as best as we can.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 3

From what we’ve heard, Rift is turning out to be one of the most polished MMORPGs to release in a while. How do you feel about some games out there that decide to release early riddled with bugs? Do you feel it is a slap to the face of the players?

Scott Hartsman: Not at all – As a player myself, I get as angry as the next guy when I’ve paid for something and it’s either not stable or not finished, but I also sympathize with the teams of developers whom I can easily imagine watching their game launch, wishing they had more months to polish or finish it.   No one ever sets out to make a bad game.  When it happens, it tends to be a function of having bitten off more work scope than the budget will allow, or more than is technically possible to ship.

A lot of the lore seems a bit more in favor of making the Defiant seem like not only the rebels but also the heroes. Do you feel this could lead to a large population imbalance as one faction seems more intriguing than the other?

Scott Hartsman: Interesting – What we’re seeing is that the Defiant are being treated as the rebels, and the Guardians are being treated as the heroes.  (Even though heroic Defiant and rebellious Guardians do exist both in the lore and in game.)

It’s led to a level of balance that’s even surprised us (the ratio was within +/- 0.1% the last time I checked a week or so ago).

What RPG’s and MMO’s did you and members of the Rift team play?

Scott Hartsman: We have a pretty huge team (120+), with tastes all across the board, and the vast majority of us are gamers ourselves.  I’d say the challenge would be more about finding RPGs and MMOs that people hadn’t played.

Rift - Gamplay Screenshot 4

Do you guys at some point want to include an in-game marketplace for vanity items akin to Sony’s Marketplace in EQ2?

Scott Hartsman: Right now, we’re 100% focused on making the Rift that is out there as good as it can possibly be via constant content and feature updates.   New types of in-game store functionality isn’t something that’s really on our radar for the moment.   If enough people like the idea, it could be something we talk about in the future.

The only store-type conversations we’ve had lately have been around working out a path to hardware authentication devices, and other merch like hats and t-shirts.  T-shirts and sweatshirts?  Now THOSE we get a lot of requests for.  🙂

You can check out all the information on Rift on their Official Website and picture up the game here.

 

Could Blizzard’s Next MMO Titan really be a Halo MMO?

Let me preface this article with a warning.  Everything I am about to post could be considered rumor or coincidence but that doesn’t mean it is not true.  Ever since Blizzard’s Product Slate was leaked and showed the name “Titan” with an anticipated release in Q4 of 2013, people have been speculating about this new game.  We already know that Blizzard is officially working on a new “secret MMO” project.

Blizzard Game List

First, let me give you some insider information that I received over a year ago from someone inside the gaming industry.  This person does not work for Blizzard but does have a career position at a major gaming company.  This person told me three things that he knew about the game that he learned from friends inside Blizzard.

1.  It will be an FPS based MMO (at minimum in part).

2.  It will most likely be set in space.

3.  The design has a “cyber-punkish” feel.

First, I know what you are thinking.  WTF is “cyber-punkish?”  I know, I thought the same thing and honestly it could mean an infinite number of things.  However, this information could be useful in the conspiracy theory which I will explain below.  Let me also point out that this information is definitely second hand to me so take the above with a grain of salt.

The Conspiracy!  Is Blizzard’s new MMO ‘Titan’ really Halo MMO?

 

Ok, let me go through the slew of coincidences that we have.

1.  The original Halo MMO that was being designed by Ensemble Studios was code named ‘Titan.’  Also, Ghostcrawler (Blizzard Game Developer) happened to be a former employee of said company.  Blizzard’s secret MMO is titled ‘Titan.’  Coincidence? Maybe.

2.  In February 2007, an episode of 30 Rock entitled Hardball aired and in the credits it said, “Promotional Consideration Furnished by Blizzard Entertainment.”  What makes this interesting is that no Blizzard products were featured.  No Warcraft.  No Starcraft.  No Diablo.  No World of Warcraft.  However, Halo was featured in the show!  So Blizzard was advertising for Halo in 2007?  This was right before word got out that Blizzard was working on a brand new MMO and they started hiring “Science-Fiction Texture Artists.”  Coincidence? Maybe.

3.  As we know Bungie and Activision (now Activision-Blizzard) are in a 10 year partnership and some terms of the agreement were not disclosed.  Coincidence? Maybe.

4.  Jeff Kaplan, a Blizzard employee was quoted as saying “All of those combined” to the following question in an MTV Multiplayer Interview:  Will the next Blizzard MMO be “sci-fi, near-future, post-apocalyptic, or historical?”  Now, all of the above would definitely apply to Halo.  Coincidence? Maybe

 

Taken one at a time, these are just mere coincidences.  However, combine them all and you have a legitimate conspiracy on your hands!  So?  Are all of these mere coincidences? Is Blizzard planting these seeds to troll everyone?  Or maybe, just maybe, the secret is out and Blizzard’s new MMO is a Halo MMO!  All I know is, what my insider friend told me matches all the conspiracies listed and goes hand in hand with a potential Halo MMO.  For now, only those in Activision-Blizzard (and maybe Bungie) know the truth, but we are free to speculate.

Titan Halo

I want to give credit to GBTV and CrossEyedGamer for their investigative reporting which I made use of in this article.  Keep up the good work guys.

Cataclysm: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Logo

Without a doubt, Cataclysm was another home run hit for the power gaming company Blizzard.  Selling a stunning 3.3 million copies (including pre-sales) on the first day and 4.7 million by the end of the first month (including pre-sales) was not as shocking as some seemed to say it was.  The most popular and played MMORPG of all time is going to have extremely high sales figures especially since Blizzard added in pre-sale digital downloads for the first time ever.  The apparent controversy surrounding these numbers is unwarranted.  Pre-sales are part of any game release and Blizzard is fully entitled to count them towards first day sales in my opinion.  And let’s be honest, does it matter? No, over 5 million people have already purchased Cataclysm and that number is sure to grow.  A better question would be, Will Cataclysm peak over 12 million subscriptions like its predecessors? or has the game peaked overall? and how long until it fades into gaming oblivion?  Sorry, that won’t be covered in this article but expect me to tackle the topic in the future.

The Good.

As you know, Blizzard has been catering to the casual gamer more and more.  Why? Simple, money.  Blizzard does not want to lose clients because they feel the game is too hard or too time consuming.  Just go to through the account cancellation process and you will see many different prompts that seem to ask why you are quitting and many are tailored towards the casual gamer.  Now, I know we are in “The Good” category but let me say that this “casual” policy has both positive and negative effects on the game and it’s players as I will discuss throughout the whole article.

Blizzard wanted to make raiding simpler and thus they have designed everything so that you don’t need a full 25 man raid to compete.  You can gather 9 friends and compete on an equal plain with everyone else in the world.  I personally love this move because it allows you to play with more of your close friends if you so choose.  This reduces the amount of pugs you have to get and usually reduces the severity of the headache you will suffer during a failing raid.  Of course, Blizzard is not naive and to appease the more hardcore gamers, they designed it so you get more loot proportionate to your raid size in 25mans compared to 10mans.  Even though that feels like a “lame” fix, it was probably the best Blizzard could do considering they put 10 and 25 mans on the same pedestal.  Either way, the casual gamers rejoiced in this change and overall, it has had a positive impact.  As for the “pride”  factor between major guilds competing at the top level for world firsts, 25mans still seem to be the cream of the crop but even the best of the best have been switching to 10mans for certain encounters!  All the major content has been completed and here is how it played out among the world’s elite.

Top 10 PvE WoW Guilds

Leveling is finally enjoyable!  You heard me right.  I for one am not a fan of leveling and never have been especially in World of Warcraft but the leveling redesign has even changed my mind.  Don’t get me wrong,  I am not going out and leveling alts for the hell of it but I am also not dreading the boring, monotonous grind that was leveling.  The overhaul to the zones and quests has streamlined the process.  Moreover, the changes to spells have given you diversity at the lower levels.  I did not enjoy spamming just one or two buttons to level as it felt like I could fall asleep while doing it.  Now, it feels like I can actually take some pleasure in leveling.  While this was something that wasn’t necessary to change, it was a very positive overhaul.  Of course, you could say that the change was specifically designed to help the casual gamer level easier, faster and with more joy!  Blizzard is sneakier than you might imagine.

Finally, let us talk about the servers.  They were great.  Illidan, one of the most popular WoW servers, where I leveled to 85 was completely stable.  No major lag spikes, no crashes and no downtime.  Moreover, the servers came up on time.  Blizzard wanted to ensure that Cataclysm was launched without a hitch and they nailed it home.  As for server queues, they were terrible early on but everyone expected that so I don’t need to harp on it very much.

The Bad.

With great power comes great responsibility.  Oh wait, this isn’t Spiderman, its WoW: Cataclysm.  How about…With great homogenization, comes great laziness.  I am definitely not one to favor the complete homogenization of classes that seems to be happening with more and more frequency.  While I like the idea that buffs are being spread around to more classes on paper, I hate it in reality.  I know Blizzard would like 5man and 10man dungeons and raids to have a majority of the game buffs but I think that is a bad idea.  One of the inevitable drawbacks of having less people in a group or raid is the reduction of potential buffs.  Thus, players need to design their groups accordingly.  At the rate Blizzard is going, in two expansions, my 10man is just going to be 10 paladins with every buff in the game dominating every encounter.  Yes, I am laying it on a little thick but it is for good reason.  Let us look at some of the homogenization we have seen with Cataclysm.

First, buffs are being spread around to more classes.  Second,  bloodlust/heroism is now usable by three classes.  Honestly, having bloodlust/heroism on just one class was probably not the greatest idea but I don’t think that bloodlust/heroism is a well-designed mechanic anyway.  I know that it is a great part of Warcraft lore but I think it could have been implemented differently because it has been insanely powerful since it went live.  On a good note, Blizzard did finally decide to remove it from arenas.  Third, it seems that every melee has a spammable interrupt.  Why do I dislike this?  Mainly because the classes that didn’t have them before didn’t have them for a reason and now that they do, they seem overly useful in both PvE and PvP.  Either way, I think that Blizzard could use some of that infinite pool of money they have to diversify the game more instead of homogenize it.  Once again, it all comes back to the positive and negative effects of the “casual” gamer syndrome.

For me, five man dungeons and heroics on my main were extremely simple.  I almost always ran with a pre-made 5man so we just queued up and destroyed whatever we got.  However, this was not the case for many people, especially those trying to gear alts.  First, if you are not a tank or a healer, have fun waiting in a 30minute queue to do one heroic.  Second, if you are a tank or a healer, make sure you abuse the system by selling queue pops all day in trade chat.  While this is now fixed, it was way too late.  Third, how is it that if you solo queue you always seem to get the absolute worst players in the world in your group?  Not only do they have gear that is terrible but they have no idea how to do any of the fights.  I can’t really blame Blizzard on that one but I sure can vent some minor frustration.  Overall, I like the simplicity in the fact that you can just queue from anywhere in the world at anytime, but if you are running solo, there is a strong change that you will just be wasting an hour of your time.

World of Warcraft Dungeon Queue Time

I will keep my dislike of the PvP situation short as I plan on doing a full write-up of it in the near future but it has to be mentioned briefly.  I don’t know if I would say that arenas have hit a low point because I thought they were pretty bad when you could kill someone inside of one GCD in WotLK but they are not prospering by any means.  Of course, you will always have people complaining that their class is too underpowered but when top players are re-rolling because they just know their class it too weak to compete at the top level, then something is probably wrong.  For the first time ever, mages seem to be underpowered unless you like jumping around spamming ice lance all day!  Maybe underpowered isn’t the write word, but they do seem to have a nice big target on their back.  Melee teams seem to run a train on them all day and since all the healers have dispel and frost armor is not nearly as useful as it was, they appear to be in a dire situation.

While I think they might deserve it considering how strong they have been in the past, their situation just highlights the fact that with Blizzard’s homogenized design is leading to negative impacts in PvP.  Now, I don’t think Blizzard cares much about the PvP scene anyway but that doesn’t mean that it should be the way it is now.  I personally think that HP is actually too high in many cases but it may be a result of the new completely underpowered healing debuffs.  I always thought 50% healing reduction was too much but with classes having this much HP, I think 10% is too low.  Blizzard really needs to overhaul the whole PvP system if they ever want to truly fix it.  HPS and self-healing (DK, Ret Pally, etc) are also way to high for my taste.  Anyway, more on this in a future article.  For now, just know that PvP, specifically arenas appear to be in a not so good state.

The Ugly.

I am still not a fan of the games graphics even after this overhaul.  While I know that the original game platform is getting older, it doesn’t change my opinion.  I don’t think the graphics are bad enough to hurt anything in the game but I don’t find them particularly breath taking either.  Will Blizzard create a completely new engine for their cash cow?  Unlikely but they could if they really wanted to.  However, it is more likely that instead of creating a new engine for WoW, they would just put a new project together to start design WoW 2 (if they haven’t already).

Looks like the same game to me.

It also feels like the identity of some of the old servers has been lost.  With all the new players coming in over the years and all the transfers, something about the old nostalgia seems to have faded.  While this is not a result of Cataclysm, I feel that is something that can be mentioned in this section.  If you played vanilla and are still playing today, you probably know what I mean.  It was nice early on when you thought you knew a lot of people and possibly had some clout on the server but now, the game seems to be moving at a pace that removes this.  The best way to put it is to say that the identity of the servers seem to have faded into a blur of inconsequence.

Finally, I will end on another topic that Blizzard has no control over.  The Elitist Jerks (EJ) forums also have a negative impact on the game, specifically, on new players.  When you are in a pug or just see “go to EJ” spammed in trade chat when someone asks a question, you have to get annoyed.  Instead of actually learning something in the game or asking someone who might know, you are directed to a website that tells you how to play and spec your class.  So much for the subtleties that you notice after playing your main for a long time.  So much for actually learning a class and enjoying that process.   Long gone are the days where there was some mystery or secrecy to playing WoW.  To clarify, EJ can work wonders for those who have been playing the game for a long time and understand it’s nuances.  However, if you are new to the game or a class, you skip the basic learning process and just learn the “perfect rotation” instead.  Who cares that you died in fire or didn’t shield or didn’t misdirect or didn’t do 1 of 100 different things that are more useful than just spamming damage.  The sad fact is, WoW has turned into a numbers games on many levels and I understand why it has, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

Conclusion

Cataclysm is fun at first but the sheen of a new game is quickly replaced by the same old car smell from before.  What made WoW good in the past is the same that makes WoW good now.  The social atmosphere and friends you make along the way still entrap players.  For many people, the time you log in game is controlled by the social structures: when you do your dailies, when you are raiding, etc.  The bonds of friendship people form which result in teams and guilds being formed push the never ending cycle that is a beast  of game known as World of Warcraft.  If you enjoyed the repetitive cycle that WoW presented in past whether it be through raiding, PvP or any one of the other things Blizzard created, then you will surely find joy in Cataclysm and play it as you had played all the other WoW expansions in the past.  However, if you were looking for something brand new that would make your eyes pop and your pearly white teeth show,  then unfortunately, you will have to keep looking as Cataclysm is simply a new name, not a new face.

Alliance versus Horde: The PVP Debate

Alliance_vs__Horde_by_Dawnchaser

Being a long time player of MMO’s since the Ultima days I pretty much grew up through my late teens playing these types of games. I can easily tell the different in not only my playstyle, but also my dedication to games, as I got older. While there was talk of kids versus adults in Everquest, it was nothing compared to the debate that rages on in World of Warcraft. This may be new to no one, but there really is little difference between the horde and the alliance when it comes to Player versus Player.

I for a very long time played Alliance and I have played in a ton of battlegrounds and have heard the calls from angry players about how bad the alliance is and that it is full of children. By now, we know that calling people children is like calling someone Hitler; it has been over used and really does not mean anything anymore. However, in all the screaming and nerd rage there is truth to many of the complaints, but the problem is on both sides.

I admit when I began playing on the horde side I expected to win many more BG’s and truth be told I do win more, but that does not mean the same mistakes happen on both sides. Let us look at some of the complaints and break them down.

Alliance does not follow instructions

Not following instructions

Alliance: Sadly, this is true, but the reasons go far beyond it being that they are kids. While it is true that more kids began playing alliance it is just as true that older people and people new to MMO’s also play alliance. Much of the time the reason instructions are not followed is many of the people are new to the BG and really do not know how to ask for help. The second reason is when someone screams calling you a noob and that you should die in a fire you really do not want to ask for instructions.

Horde: On the horde side you have children who believe the horde are bad and bad to them equals bad ass so you have just as many kids wanting to be the “pretty alliance” as you do that want to be the “evil” horde. Second players that are more experienced will go horde, this can be good and bad because sometimes they think they are too good or they think they should lead. What happens is everyone has an opinion and the fight over it and because of that instructions are never fully followed, but in the end more people tend to follow than on the ally side and so that is one reason for more wins.

Alliance gives up

Surrendering_kahjiit_vampire_by_katuysha

Alliance: I have found this to be true in some cases. Most of the time if the alliance really gave a strong push, say in Arathi Basin and the horde pushed back taking the lead from them I have found many will give up. Again, I think this is because of people who do not know the game and mixed in are some who just want easy wins. Age does play into this because often a child wants everything handed to him or her and if they try and look like they will fail, they give up. The result is everyone else suffers including those who are not experienced in BG’s.

Horde: I see less giving up on the horde side and a lot of the time it is due to the fact that the horde are used to winning and believe they can pull victory from the jaws of defeat. This can also work against them because some are so used to winning that if they think they will lose they want to quit and lose quickly so they can move on to another BG. In addition, many horde players almost border on role-play with how they believe the horde should not ever give up just because they are horde.

Alliance cares about HK’s and KB’s

Honor kills in World of Warcraft

Alliance: If the battle group loses a lot and they are used to it many alliance players admit they go for honor kills and killing blows over the win. Alliance will also work on getting achievements that do not require a win. When the allies are used to losing they just go for “fun” and sometimes that just keeps a losing streak going.

Horde: The horde weakness comes in when a player takes a kill seriously. Most of the complaints I hear are about a specific player who is either hard to kill, over powered or killing the same person over and over. I have also found if you offend a horde by doing a gesture when you kill them or heaven forbid using that flag of ownership, you can goat the horde player and sometimes even fellow team members into forgetting the goal of winning the game in order to get payback on a player.

Alliance do not gear properly

PVE gear in PVP

Alliance: Unfortunately, I have found this to be true especially in the lower levels. Many alliance players see PVP as an option where horde sees it as important as PVE. When you add in the younger and inexperienced players, you end up with many alliance players going into BG’s with PVE gear and finding themselves going up against a PVP geared opponent.

Horde: You will always find some people who do not gear up, but many of the horde know that since they win more BG’s then they lose they have extra honor points to spend and they do gear themselves. In the end, this helps the horde more adding to more wins and more gear.

The Turning Point

World of Warcraft PVP motivational poster

There is much more I could go into, but let us hit the key point. Many of the horde players are experienced in MMO’s and specifically PVP, once it was established that horde wins PVP the PVP’ers went horde and so it made them stronger. The point about kids versus adults does not come into play however because horde can be just as vulgar and obnoxious as any alliance, but these guys even if not children are man-children ranging from age 15 to 35. The bottom line is experience and if a young, older or inexperienced alliance player does not really care about PVP, they already start off at a disadvantage.

The horde side fights in the roads in AB, rush Van in AV with towers still up. The horde also ignores healers and tries to kill the tank and they care about the flag more than the bases in EOTS. The horde can leave the flag carrier along in WG and kill players instead of DEMO’s in SOTA and so on and so on. I have just found I end up with those who need to win more on the horde than the alliance side and that’s why I have more honor points than I can spend.

DCUO: Qualms With The Game And A Plea For Fixes

Bat Family DCUO screenshot
Bat Family DCUO screenshot

DCUO: Qualms With The Game And A Plea For Fixes

This is a copy/pasta of a post I made on the DCUO official forums.

I am writing this in hopes that SOE sees this and takes the time to actually start some sort of plan to save their latest MMO DC Universe Online. I am not calling in the apocalypse of this game but I am simply stating that right now it has been poisoned by bugs. I have played many MMORPGs and since World of Warcraft’s release there haven’t been many AAA MMO launches. Many games falter in their idea to cash in on the WoW craze and create clones and other games try mechanics that just seem to fall flat because they failed to fix game breaking bugs before release. I don’t have much faith in many of the MMO’s coming out in 2011 but I did feel and still do feel that DCUO was going to be the one to stand with the greatest potential.

Lawl? Did u not hear of Star Wars TOR, newb?

Okay, fellow forum readers. Yes I’ve heard of Star Wars but I do not have high hopes for that game as I generally don’t see things with rose tinted glasses. But this is besides the point. I don’t want to banter SOE with “IM GUNNA QUIT AND GO TO ” bull. I don’t want to put out an angry, unproductive statement out that does nothing but sound like another QQ fest. I want to state what I think they need to fix in order to prevent this game to going into a crippling decline.

People in my guild r already leaving, newb! Dis gaem is a failure.

I understand that people are leaving but people always leave MMO’s in their first month. It’s a common thing to see a mass exodus of people leave one game, talk highly of the new toy, and then pinch a loaf all over that toy, and go back to another game that presents the same grind or what not. That isn’t a great argument at this point as it is a common thing amongst MMO gamers.

Now that I have the generic forum responses out of the way, let me get into my issues with the game and why they are stunting to its growth.

League Chat Breaking

Never have I played a game where a chat is broken. Shout is never broken, yet somehow, some way, League chat breaks. How are groups of people supposed to connect to enjoy the game together? No one plays an MMO to play it in solidarity for everlasting months. The thing that keeps people playing is 1) Yes, content, but we’ll get into that later and 2) the ability to form bonds with fellow server mates for an enjoyable experience.

Those of you who have spent time with guildies or leaguers and just goofed off racing around cities, griefing someone as a group, or just doing something pointless can attest to the good times that can be had with friends and clansmen. Even without additional content, good friends can make a game last awhile, probably not as long as a game with constant content, but they’ll last longer than the average solo king player.

League Chat breaking over and over seems like an easy bug to fix as most MMO’s don’t seem to screw up their chat systems. This is the first time I’ve ever witnessed this kind of issue in anything ever. Without League chat, what’s the point of a League? How can people communicate or introduce themselves to one another? No bonds are made thus no establishment is set into the game’s community causing a rift of players to either leave to where they came from or hold out until the next MMO that will save them.

Queues Breaking

I can see how this is an issue that can take awhile to resolve but it should have been resolved early on towards the end of beta. Some sort of contingency plan should have been brought up to fix the issue if queuing loads being too dramatically hectic is causing them to shatter. If it isn’t the load of players using the queuing system that is breaking it, then what is it? What is so difficult to fix that it has taken two weeks for someone to still not figure out?

A lot of games have a ton of levels for you to grind through so it takes awhile for major sums of their player base to hit the endgame cap. DCUO makes you super right away by making hitting 30  a quick and easy thing to do. This is mostly because most of the content is for level 30 characters. That is great but when most of this content is governed by the queue system, well that is where the main focal point of the game’s design seems to get blinded.

How is a game that promotes fast leveling and quick end game experience supposed to last when their main method of entering these adventures is blocked by a queue system that breaks too often. PvP queues, Duo queues, Alert queues, all broken. The only queue that seems to work is The Vault and that is completely aside from anything else as it just teleports you to a single player map.

But OP! You can run to Arkham, Containment Facilities, and many more!

That’s true, poster. You could run to those instances. I, for one, have been. I refuse to allow a broken queue to stop me but when I can’t do my duos or get into certain instances, I feel like I’m being cheated. I’m not saying that SOE owes me Marks of Triumph (though, that’d be pretty nice.) but I do feel like I’m paying $15 a month to be blocked out of content I was able to play earlier in the week.

Watchtower Crashes

This bug personally hasn’t affected me but I can see where the issue can bother some people. In WoW, when Eastern Kingdoms or Kalimdor crashed, you couldn’t get on your character in that continent. However, there was another continent always available for both factions.

When Watchtower is down, you’re locking out a good chunk of one faction while the other isn’t hindered at all. This is an increasingly difficult issue because if queues aren’t working, and Watchtower is down, so goes your cross city travel system.

Bugs I Can Deal WIth For Now

There are certain bugs I can handle right now because there are work arounds for them, but that doesn’t mean to ignore them.

I can deal with the platform in Star Labs arena being exploited by flying enemies contesting the node from underneath since I’m a pro and took grounding abilities.

I can deal with the loot bug at the end of an alert where if I hit L before seeing the “overall data” chart  I won’t get to roll on the item. I already know to wait but I can see where a ton of people would be having an issue over this. (Protip: Leave the instance and you can still hit need out of the alert and the item will go to you and show up in your bag.)

You Sound Mad, Bro! Do You Like Anything About This Game?

Yes, I like this game and unlike many people I have faith in SOE. I know EQ2 was a pile of garbage but they really turned that game around. If it released maybe 2-3 years ago instead of 6 it could have been a contender, it could have been a somebody! They dish out content in that game constantly and it’s great to see a company throwing resources into a dying game like that (though they probably wouldn’t admit EQ2 is suffering.).

Of the MMO’s I’ve played at release, this game is pretty solid and enjoyable. I know they’ll keep pushing out content because they understand how big DC is right now with Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, the upcoming Green Lantern,  the role DC heroes play in children’s media, the announcement of the new Superman flick, and the success of Smallville.

The combat system isn’t something you find in any MMORPG to date and it works out for the action packed fluidity of the comic book genre. I never thought the class system in this game would work because class systems tend to fail in most Super Hero MMO attempts but I think this is probably one of the best implementations out there and I have no issues with the balance of paper, rock, scissors. I enjoy the three class trinity synergy and the ability for anyone to DPS.

The excitement of being able to fight side by side with notable characters, heroes and villains alike, adds to the feel of the game. The voice work is grand and I hope they can keep it up, unlike in EQ2 where they stopped their voice acting in newer installments of content. With Time Warner having some role over the development of this game, though, and their ability to profit from it as well, I can see the voice acting remaining relevant  if the game remains a standing contender in the current 2011 MMO battle.

So as you can see, I am satisfied with the game. I am still hyped up and enjoying everything I possibly can right now with DCUO. It’s fresh, different, and exciting especially with friends. I would like to keep it that way.

I know that SOE is planning a huge update of content in February but please do try to fix the bugs as well first or simultaneously. Additional content is useless with a dwindling player base.

 

The Daily Vid: DC Universe Online – End Game

DC Universe Online logo
DC Universe Online logo

Chris Cao, game director for DC Universe Online takes us through some of the endgame content in the superhero MMO. Starting off we have an attack on Arkham Asylum which is a raid zone where you group up with many other heroes against Mr. Freeze and his creations as he tries to destroy all the boilers in Arkham in order to freeze the entire place.

The end game starts when you reach max level and in DCUO that level is currently 30. Throughout the game you have alerts given to you by members of the Justice League or Legion of Doom (Secret Society) these alerts can be accessed via your user interface and you can select the alerts which puts you in a queue to join with other players. It works similar to the dungeon finder system in world of Warcraft.

As you level you gain access to more alerts and they don’t stop at level 30. Ace Chemicals has been taken over by T.O. Morrow who you fight against while you are leveling. You discover that he has taken the Joker’s toxin and used it to power tons of robots inside of the plant.

Another raid zone is Kahndaq, a land ruled by magic so it is no wonder that Black Adam would use its power to try to resurrect his wife. Unfortunately, he screwed it up and now the waters of Kahndaq turn the dead into the undead. In the end, you will not only have to go up against Faust but a super energized Black Adam as well.

The last raid zone in the video is the Batcave. Brainiac is trying to take over all the technology in the Batcave so you can guess what that means for earth considering it is mostly his tech that the Justice League uses. Heroes will have to fight all the way through the Batcave to Brainiac himself for the final showdown.

So there you have it, there  will be much more to do once you reach level 30 in DCUO and I am sure there is much more coming down the pipe and as soon as we hear about it so will you.

DC Universe Online: The Good, The Bad and the Future

DC Universe Online logo
DC Universe Online logo

So much of my time has been spent playing my Superman hating hero, Lineage in DC Universe online, but I had to take a moment to give my opinion on the game. While I had been looking forward to this game since its announcement it was seeing so many of my friends playing it that made me finally decide to buy it instead of waiting a few more weeks. I do not regret my decision, but there are pressing issues and long-term questions about this MMO.

The Good

I remember playing City of Heroes and thinking about how cool it was to make my own hero from scratch. Unfortunately, issues such are repetitive missions, level grinds and lack of custom powers quickly turned my love to loathing. With DCUO, I decided not to read all the developers notes or message boards. I wanted to come into this game like a child who received it on day one and make my decision of whether it was good or not based on firsthand experience not what is “coming soon”.

  • Character Design – Sure, it may not be as in-depth as City of Heroes is, but it is a great start. You cannot only make a completely original hero, but if you wish, you can pretty much copy any hero from DC, Marvel and beyond.
  • Power Layout – You have your two primary powers, but you also can choose from Iconic Powers that give you abilities such as Superman’s heat vision or Batman’s batarangs. This allows you to really customize your character whether you are a min/max’er or a concept creator.
  • Into the Fire – What I mean by this is you do not start of fighting purse-snatchers. From the beginning, you are going up against the big names from Scarecrow to Bizarro and everything in between. This makes you feel like a hero not some jerk in a mask.
  • Heroic TeamUp – From the start of the game you team up with well-known DC superheroes and this continues throughout the game. For those that though they only give you missions from police stations and the watchtower are wrong. Sure, often the heroes do not do much, but still fighting alongside them is very cool and I know there is much more to come.
  • Similar but different – Sure, most missions have you go to a location take out a bunch of bad guys and then rinse and repeat. However, there is enough variety in not only the locations and bad guys, but the story layout and endgame (mission wise not complete game wise) to keep you interested and wanting to play more.
  • Dungeon Tile sets – This was one of my biggest issues with City of Heroes, check out my report on it. When I say Dungeon, I mean an instance where only you or your team can enter. In COH it was always an office or a warehouse and sometimes a science lab, but with DCUO every instance is unique even if it is an abandoned warehouse. It makes the game seem much larger than it is and it keeps it from getting boring which is a very good thing.
  • Easy to Play, Easy to Level – There is some risk, but no more than what you will find in World of Warcraft and believe it or not this works for this type of game. You can get your butt kicked, but if you learn your role and play correctly, you can solo or group and succeed. In addition, you can level at a good pace, which COH should have learned does not mean you will quit once you max out. If there is more to do and added gameplay such as PVP, end game instances and other content you will continue to play or role a new character.
  • Voiceover and Cut scenes – They work in MMO’s and DC has given us fans of the Batman, Superman and Justice League cartoons a great gift with their voiceover work. Sure, some of the random voiceover gets repetitive, but the mission voiceover and voices from names we know makes it win win. The cut scenes just make you feel like you are part of the story and they look awesome to boot.

Now there are more good things I can say, but let us move on to the bad.

The Bad

One must always keep in mind that no MMO is going to start out perfect. There will be issues in any game you play and it will take time for the developers to not only fix the bugs, but also tailor the game in a way more people will deem favorable. Many people are spoiled because of games like World of Warcraft that while it still has its issues has been polished after years of patches and expansions. The key is seeing what will happen once the changes are made and if you like it now it will only get better.

Launch Bugs

Here are some of the most annoying issues at the moment.

  • Losing audio after a cut scene – For some people after finishing a mission arc and getting the cool cut scene they lose audio and only a complete restart of the game fixes this.
  • Vanishing Weapon – Sometimes when entering an instance, upgrading, or changing your main weapon even once you equip it the weapon does not take effect. The good news is all you need to do is un-equip and reequip to fix this.
  • Disappearing Power Layout – This one is weird because I am not sure what causes it. Sometimes your power layout, which is the number 1 through 8 keys where you can use your powers sometimes  disappears from the UI. Now you can still use the powers it is just that you cannot see them. Strangely, it will fix itself on its own randomly.
  • Windowed Mode No Save – You can select Windowed mode, but if you log out and log back in it does not save your preference.
  • Alt Tab Crash – Some people say they crash or lose audio when alt tabbing out to their desktop.

Playability

Here are some complaints about general gameplay. Keep in mind much of this is caused by people being used to what they can do in World of Warcraft.

  • Alt Tab Issue – In some cases, Alt Tabbing out to your desktop can cause issues including loss of sound or even a game crash. In addition to those issues if you select windowed mode you still have to alt tab out to use your desktop unlike World of Warcraft where once you are in windowed mode you can seamlessly switch between desktop and the game.
  • Chat and Social Issues – It will take time to get use to different chat interfaces, but with DCUO having to type in commands for inviting people to group, adding friends or joining a guild would be better if one could use their mouse to click within the UI.

Nit Picking

Some of these are good points and others would make Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons proud.

  • In PVP level 30’s greifing low levels – Welcome to PVP servers in MMO’s
  • Blurring of textures in the distance – The word is this is because the game was made for the PS3 and the PC together so while you can up the settings on your PC there will be limitations.
  • Random Bad guys/Good Guys saying the same thing repeatedly – Even with 50 million spent on the game each mob cannot have its own voice.
  • Sharing credit for a kill or having a kill stolen – You take the good with the bad. If you hit Funhouse three times and got the kill even though he would have stomped you into the ground then you have to accept that someone will steal the civilian you were supposed to save.
  • Mission repetitiveness – Welcome to gaming. Think about the best comic book you have ever read, in the end you still have random fights and a mystery and a boss fight. This is how much of gaming works and in an MMO it is a staple.
  • Gold Selling Spam – Welcome to MMO’s ignore and report feature coming soon.

There are more bugs and issues, but my too long didn’t read alarm is going off.

The Future

I have personally seen a lot of launches and some have stood the test of time and many have fallen hard to the bottom of the MMO well. The key to a MMO is not only the launch, but also how fast they can fix issue before the masses leave for another game.

Keys to DCUO’s survival

  • Bug Fixes – It may seem like a no brainer, but bugs can kill it for some people faster than others. Perhaps a PC or MMO vet will expect launch issues, but many ten year olds wont. SOE has to fix these quick or they may see a mass exodus.
  • Content – Since the level cap is 30 and you can reach that quickly the key is giving people a lot to do once 30 to keep playing just in case they don’t want to re-roll. Content at 30 does not have to mean end game. You can add missions and other thing to do that are not necessarily an end game raid, but it has to be fresh and fun and sooner than later.
  • End Game – There has to be big massive raids and fights that you would just not see during your normal missions. It is not always about loot, but about feeling you are on the forefront of the game fighting the big fight and not continuing on like a foot solider. Many people play these games to be the big shot and the end game is the big game.
  • Level Cap increase – It is going to come either way, but the key is knowing when to allow players to move on to that next level or ten as it were. You cannot just add levels for nothing, there must be a reason and all the added powers, gear and content to go with it.
  • Overall Story Arc – You have to keep the overall story going and going in a manner that makes sense and is fun to the player. Sure, we may love fighting against Bane with Batman, but we want to see Brainiac get his brain bashed or have him achieve a small victory that keeps the war going, either is good.
  • PVP – PVP can make or break a game because PVP can effect PVE and in the case of DCUO, PPV can extend the life of a game for those who rush to max level. While it is true the majority of people will PVE it is best not to ignore the PVP player or you might find some of your most loyal subscribers going elsewhere.
  • Intangibles – This includes everything from discovery quests and world events to special offers and give-a-ways. You can never over promote and if you keep your fans interest inside and outside of the game you will have a winner on your hands.

So much more

There is a ton more to say on the subject of DCUO, but for now I will continue playing and asking questions and hopefully get some answers from the developers. If you are thinking about getting this game, try it out. The game has buddy passes so you can try it before you buy it, but I think you will end up buying it. If you already are playing, stick with it, I have faith good things will continue to unfold and your voices will be heard.

I’ll see you in game.

The Daily Vid: Lineage tours The Watchtower

Batman Nightwing and Robin from DC Universe Online
Batman Nightwing and Robin from DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online was released this past week, this MMO allows you to create your own superheroes and fight alongside some of DC’s greatest heroes including, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. So far, the game still has some bugs to work out, but to this veteran MMO player the game plays very well and is a lot of fun.

Honestly, do yourself a favor and play on the PVP servers for a bit, I play on the Public Enemies server. In the PVP worlds, you can fight against villains at anytime and any level. The good thing is even if they are level 30 a team of level 10’s can take them out. I admit it is the most fun I have had in a PVP match since very early World of Warcraft.

As for the video, I had just finished my starting missions, which included escaping from a Brainiac ship with Superman’s help. My next mission was stopping Gorilla Grodd with the assistance of, The Flash from turning the citizens of Metropolis into apes. The Queen Bee was my next mission after that, she got stung, and now I enter The Watchtower to take a tour and get my next mission.

This game has the potential to be very good with a few fixes and changes. I will be bringing you a more detailed report with more in-game videos in the next future as well as questions answers by the DCUO dev team, so, if you have questions leave them as comments and I will try to get them answered.

Alienware & Verizon take gaming on the road

The Alienware M11x at the Verizon booth at CES 2011
The Alienware M11x at the Verizon booth at CES 2011

At CES 2011 I had a chance to check out the Alienware M11x notebook that will soon allow you to take Verizon’s 4G network along for the ride. I ran into Raymond at the Verizon booth while he was playing Need for Speed Hot Pursuit on the M11x connected to a large flat panel monitor. You can take a listen to my interview on the M11x from E3 2010.

E3 – Alienware M11x

The Alienware M11x laptop won a best in show award at last year’s CES. Since then the system has undergone some upgrading including imbedding Verizon’s 4G LTE into the laptop. The goal here is for the ultimate gaming experience on the go. When I tested the M11x it did have the power to play pretty much any game out there at decent settings and with the addition of 4G they just might have a winner on their hands. Just imagine all you World of Warcraft addicts being able to do dungeon runs with no lag or bad frame rates from anywhere. It’s a night security watchman’s dream system.

So what can you expect? The word is the Verizon network will support anywhere from 5 to 12 MB download speeds. For those that do not know this is faster than many people get in their own homes even with high-speed internet. In productivity terms this means you can play an online game, run Ventrilo and even ALT TAB out to look up information without slowdown and bandwidth to spare.

Currently all this is in beta and Alienware hopes to have the system ready to go later this year. We will keep you updated on its progress and bring you more once it is released. You can listen to my interview with Ray from Alienware below.

CES – Alienware and Verizon

Music of Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness

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Music of Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness

The music to Warcraft 2 was as inpiring as MIDI music got. It made the complete Warcraft 2 RTS experience addicting even more as its constant high tempo medieval classical war-like style kept you concentrated and engaged in the ongoing human versus orc war!

WarCraft 2 Tides of Darkness cover
WarCraft 2 Tides of Darkness cover

The way I see history is although there were some minor games with RTS elements in the past the games that made it popular in order were Dune 2, Warcraft, Warcraft 2, Command & Conquer, and lastly Starcraft. Yes, there’s many games that came after them but those were the ones that set the bar for everybody else to try to copy.

The Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness Soundtrack is so aggressive and so well written that it keep you playing and focused because every single song is great. Not just good, but totally great! I even use this music when I’m busy doing something and I need to be motivated, such as sometimes writing articles for this website. ;]

Now yes, today World of Warcraft became the dominant MMO but way before that Warcraft 2 became one of the top games to play in the mid to late 90s. I played it on a 486 and I can tell you that the DOS version ran a hell of a lot faster than the Windows 3.1 version ever did. It was stable as hell too! These, of course, were the days that required you to configure your PC’s sound card if you ever wanted to hear anything. Still, this is one of those days that actually made it worth it to have a CD-ROM because you could hear CD audio tracks for the music of games such as this one and Mechwarrior 2 as well.

As far as the Warcraft universe and this game goes, I have always favored the Orc (Horde) faction. What did piss me off is that I actually had bought this game and as I read the manual I got so into helping out the Horde that when I got to a mission where I had to kill the Ogre Mage that was the narrator in the manual, it broke my heart! I was rooting for him to be the absolute leader of the Horde!

Zug Zug! Listen up, you humie!

MMO’s Coming Out In 2011 Are Already Behind The Curve

2011 sure seemed like a year that would be promising us some exciting upcoming titles in the MMORPG world. With Star Wars: The Old Republic, Rifts of Telara, and DC Universe Online it appeared at first glance that there finally would be some promising games out there which fought back against the monster known as World of Warcraft. I, for one, was in this crowd of believers looking forward to something fresh and a chance to move onto to greener fields.

Rift MMO plant
Rift MMO plant

Unfortunately, from my time playing the beta for some of these games and then also playing World of Warcraft’s latest expansion Cataclysm, I have to say that World of Warcraft has trumped the genre yet again.

But Umar, how can you say that? Those games are in beta and things always change!

Yeah, okay. People said that about Final Fantasy XIV, Age Of Conan, Warhammer Online, and Champions Online. Where are they now? Age of Conan is struggling to show some respectable numbers while being considered another tally of fuck ups by Funcom, discussions about putting FFXIV on a free to play model are on the table with Square-Enix already boasting a whopping 2 million active characters (look closely at the bolded word), Mythic is essentially dissolving with employee blogs ranting about the horribly typical EA experience they are suffering from (WAR really needs a F2P model if it’s going to stand up ever again), and Champions is already on a F2P market and is shitting bricks from the upcoming DC title.

Beta did not change those games. They have remained garbage and will never be something worth a purchase.

It’s time to take off those rosy glasses of hope and look at reality for a minute. Nothing has come to close to taking a slice of this market no matter how much you whine.
For the longest time, you’d hear me complaining about World of Warcraft and its flaws and its lack of this and that, but those were the days of Burning Crusade. The game has progressed leaps and bounds from release. I honestly have no qualms about it. What were the typical issues people had with WoW?
It’s too easy, Umar!

Okay, you nerdy Sephiroth cosplaying queer. Have you played Cataclysm? A PUG can barely clear a heroic now if most of the people you group with have downs. Oh, and don’t say “The WoW community is filled with bad players.” That’s easy to say. Most people I know that say that and then either play WoW or another MMO with me are usually just as bad as any other idiot I could PUG with.

WoW’s graphics are out of date!

Yeah, they are but it works with their art style. You need things to look pretty to have fun? Plants VS Zombies wasn’t enjoyable? Mario Kart isn’t fun? Let’s go play something pretty like Final Fantasy XIV. I’m sure that’ll be a great experience. Or let’s play Age of Conan where even the most high end computers at the time were struggling to display some of the graphics. Graphics shouldn’t be on the top of your list for playability as opposed to the actual style of the game.

I think you’re stupid and gay, Umar! Star Wars is going to be awesome!

Thanks, asshole. Enjoy Star Wars then. I’m not telling people to not play it as much as I’m saying that future upcoming MMORPGs are already behind what Cataclysm has presented. Star Wars will have what? Epic dialogue and a story? That is fantastic. Cataclysm already makes your character feel like they were part of a story, maybe not on the scale of Star Wars with all the cinematics, camera angles, and voice acting, but they did make your character more involved in the storyline.

Bioware already claimed that they won’t have much endgame and that they encourage people to roll alts to see the story from a different perspective. This is a “Choose your destiny” book in virtual form. All you’re getting is a story and not many innovative mechanics. They barely ever talk about actual gameplay and mechanics as much as they talk about the story portion of the game and the classes. “Hey guys we’ve got spaceships and Jedi! Cool shit, huh?” This is a niche game and once your story is over that’s it. Bioware isn’t known for making difficult games that require strategy and skill. Putting Mass Effect 2 on harder difficulties just meant you took more damage. Wowzers!

Rifts of Telara has already thrown in the towel by conceding the fact their game is more like Vanilla WoW than WoW in its current state. Vanilla WoW was one of the most raw and broken starts to an MMO. Gamers today are crying for innovation and polish. Not a throwback to olden times. Rifts is going to be what Vanguard was to Everquest 1. An old school reincarnation that will fall flat in the present.

The only game I think that can even grab a slice of the MMO market is DCUO. I’m not talking about a game that will take subs from World of Warcraft but a game that can fill that super hero niche that Champions failed to quench. City of Heroes is already too old school and bland even with all their amazing patches. DCUO has that opportunity to grab the market from those games and even pull in more people who cream to “Smallville” and “The Dark Knight”. It isn’t competing against the elephant in the room but against the carrion dogs roaming about.

If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. You can think what you want and I can still think you’re a bag of dicks. What am I saying is going to come to true because my word is not only correct but absolute. These MMOs will fall flat with the exception of DCUO if Sony actually markets a game this time. Time will allow you to see the truth and your bottled-up, unbridled nerd pride will nourish me when you fail to accept my prophecy.

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

I grew up playing a ton of board games, card games, and pen-and-paper RPG games but for many years now I’ve been sick of playing them and have favored video games ever since multiplayer and playing online against other people became abundant.

Battletech Box
Battletech Box

Well, even before then back in the days of hotseat (hotseat is multiple players playing on the same system at the same physical location), especially on my Commodore 64 and Amiga, as well as my friends’ NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES consoles, I would rather play a good balanced video game than deal with the arguments and drama that playing traditional games came with.

Now I love board games, card games, and RPGs but the problem I found throughout the years is that most people you play with will cheat at every opportunity or they don’t really know the rules of the game or they create their own house rules that sometimes make the game have nothing to do with the original game.

I grew up playing Monopoly, Sorry, Talisman, Battletech, Hero Quest, Munchkin, Guillotine, Chez Geek, Magic the Gathering, Jihad (the Vampire the Masquerade card game), Dungeons and Dragons (every version; AD&D every version as well), Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, and Vampire: The Masquerade. I’ve played more but those are the ones that easily pop into my head right now. I remember playing Battletech at a game store called Gamesters here in Miami with my friend Tom Birmingham and it was us two against two other players. The other players would do shit like waste time then make their guys move twice and fire twice. Even with their cheating, we decimated them.

Munchkin Card Game
Munchkin Card Game

For card games, especially Munchkin, there would be so many arguments that one time my friends stayed up all night playing the game and they decided to wake me up at 5 AM asking me to make a rule judgement. The conversation went something like this:

Friend 1: “Yeah we wanted to know how to interpret the Loaded Die card…”
Me: “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You know I’m going to kick you guys each in the balls the next time I see you.”
Friend 2: “I told you not to wake him up because of the game.”
Friend 1: “Shh… Anyways, we want to know if you can counter a Loaded Die card with another Loaded Die card.”
Me: “Yes, now please fuck off and never call me again not even if there’s an emergency. And yes, I will cock/cunt kick you all next time I see you. Good night.”

Vampire The Masquerade book
Vampire The Masquerade book

For pen and paper RPGs people would cheat on their die rolls just so their character would always do well. What’s the point of doing something if there is no penalty? How about playing a game where your character can actually die? What would be the point of real life if no bad things happened? Another problem that I found is that almost nobody knew how to actually role-play anything other than being a combat monster useless fucking character that killed everything that the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) had spent hours designing. I always think of the D&D sketch by the Dead Ale Wives when I think of RPGs. For that I’d rather go play Diablo, at least that’s the point of that game!

Anyways, I grew tired of people ruining games for me so even as a kiddo I knew that unless the controller was broken in hotseat or somebody was using a bot online, video games would solve all that shit by preventing arguments from happening. Whereas on a traditional game you have to enterpret the rules and logic, in a video game everything is happening much faster (no need for die rolls other than internally within the program) and everything is more fluid. Whereas before playing something like Battletech, a battle would take 4 hours of real life time, that would translate into a 5-10 minute match in an RTS game.

Spy vs Spy on the c64
Spy vs Spy on the c64

The logic is simple and it’s even more obvious to me these days as I grow older than video games will continue to propagate even more and those old games will just continue to die. Now yes, I do agree that they should continue to exist. What are you going to do when a natural disaster happens and there’s no power? They’re great for that. Sometimes they’re great for parties so that at least you can play something with a non-gamer.

Auto Assault Box
Auto Assault Box

Now I’m not encouraging people to play an MMO unless it’s something like Auto Assault or Mechwarrior (two dead games) or PlanetSide (still around but almost nobody plays it) where skill and strategy mean something but more something along the lines as playing Starcraft or any favorite FPS game or anything else for that matter, so long as it’s not a gear based shitty game.. Just be careful with the online cheaters that will employ bots to win like a little bitch!

Another problem that traditional games have versus computer games, especially pen and paper RPGs is that they would take up so much time that it essentially became a ritual that you would have to dedicate time for each week. Think of it as the dedication a WoWhead gives their guild for raiding and other stuff in that game, except instead of clicking on World of Warcraft from any computer to connect you have to go to their house, buy food and drinks, and then drive home (usually really late that night or the next morning). It was even worse as a kid because of parents imposing curfews but I guess that doesn’t matter these days since parenting has gone to shit. =P With online gaming these days, you literally can play any game 24 hours a day and find people willing to play with you. You can’t beat that (although that does create problems like gaming addicts and more but that’s another topic for discussion)

Ur Quan Masters Battle
Ur Quan Masters Battle

I’d rather play a video game against a friend where it’s much harder to cheat than play a traditional game that could potentially ruin a friendship. I’ve seen some of my friends get into a permanent feud both over traditional games as well as video games but not as much for video games. Anyways, I’ll take something like a hotseat game of Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters) over a shitty game of Monopoly! However, just because I love video games that doesn’t mean that I won’t join you for a quick board game or card game or RPG session either!

Things you do in MMOs you wouldn’t do otherwise

mmorpg demotivational poster
mmorpg demotivational poster

Things you do in MMOs you wouldn’t do otherwise

We are all gamers here and we know there are a lot of things gamers do in their lives that “normal” or non-gamers don’t or wouldn’t do like camping outside of a Gamestop or EB Games for Halo. However, when you toss in the MMO world there are some things that even your most sunless gamer wouldn’t do.

Leave Ventrilo on all night

I may be wrong and maybe one of you Count strike or FPS ninja’s will correct me, but leaving Ventrilo on all night listening to people talk about any old thing seems so MMO. I admit I have done this while writing or working on something. It is worse when you forgot to turn Ventrilo off an in the middle of the night some dickbag screams into the channel. One time I heard a guy talking with his girlfriend for hours about how he can split his time between, work, school, sex and World of Warcraft. I found it funny he didn’t say “girlfriend” or “relationship” instead he said sex.

How many of you have listened in on a raid that you weren’t on? I have to tell you I doubt you listen in to a FPS Vent channel when not playing, that is totally MMO.

Sit staring at the ground in a game for 12+ hours

This goes back to the days of Everquest when you would have to find some item or another on the ground and since it was a random spawn and anyone could ninja it from you. There was no choice but to sit there staring at the ground with your finger on the mouse button as if you were playing family feud. The worst was when you thought your item spawned and it turned out to be some graphic glitch or when you had to go to the bathroom fearing it would spawn while you were gone.

Turn down a woman

No, I don’t mean telling your girlfriend to watch another season of Sex in the City while you make your final push toward level 85. I am talking about rejecting any female in a MMO that you haven’t verified is really a woman. Unfortunately too many gamers have made playing a girl character look bad by doing awful things to get in groups, guilds and just begging for gold or loot. Now in games like World of Warcraft you just can’t trust a woman and for the most part will stay away unless boobage is confirmed.

Spent more time dancing in game than out

In City of Heroes one of the things to do was to make a level 1 character in the craziest costume you could and hang in the center of Atlas Park and dance. Dancing became so popular in COH that they created clubs where people could dance, but strangely they were hardly used. I guess when your superhero can pull a boom box from thin air on command who needs a club. If your girl ever wants to go dancing you can get her a copy and take her to Pocket D.

Understand Economics

You have student loans, credit card debt and no savings and yet in the MMO world you are Bill Gates. Sure, there are some in RPG land that overspend and can’t afford that damn new flying mount requirement, but for most of us we know how to make and spend money. Not only can we control our personal finances in game, but we can also control the auction house knowing when to sell, when not to sell and when to be an undercutting asshat. Remember when your teacher taught you about supply and demand, of course you don’t, but you’re using it now, congrats.

In which world are you better?

The world of MMO’s has defiantly had an impact on us all for better and for worse. There are tons of things we do in MMO’s that we never did in life or other games before. So how about you, what have you done?

Games for Girls?

Do you really want to see a new achievement every time your girl finds a lost black sheep? If you are one of those guys stupid enough to share your Facebook account with your girl you are gonna look like a complete and total loser.~J.A. Laraque

Games for Girls?

You might wonder why I added the question mark at the end and the reason is because I am not sure if these games are really the ones girls enjoy and play the most, but after doing some research it appears many girl games put these games on their top list.

games 4 girls

So here is how this is going to work. You will get three first takes from me. The first take is the general take on the game. The second take is the positive friendly take and finally the third take is the evil chauvinistic take. Enjoy

The Sims

General: The Sims allows gamers to control their in-game avatar and pretty much everything around them including the house and everything inside it. This game is like taking care of a pet, but the pet is human. The Sim’s offers tons of gameplay options, add-on’s and simple yet interesting fun.

The Nice: The Sims is perfect for women to show their creative side. Let’s face it, 9 times out of 10 a girls is better at creating and running a home than a guy and they have that maternal instinct and strength of will to take care of the Sim.

The Evil: This is the perfect training vessel for future domestic servitude. The only problem with the Sims is she might think you will actually buy all the crap she fills her virtual house with. Perhaps dating sites should have a built in Sim’s game because depending on how the house and the SIm she created is presented could tell you a lot about the woman and her crazy factor. This game is also good because it keeps you busy while you play manly games like Gears of War.

Farmville

General: The Facebook game where you run a farm. You can plant all types of crops and build your farm up to be pretty big. There is also a social aspect where you can trade food and supplies and there are tons of little gifts and events through the year.

The Nice: This is a pretty good intro game if your girl has never played games and strangely enough it can make your World of Warcraft quests seem a lot less stupid when she is collecting dough to bake a pie. The social aspect is great as she can share her achievements with friends and the game runs on almost any PC.

The Evil: Do you really want to see a new achievement every time your girl finds a lost black sheep? If you are one of those guys stupid enough to share your Facebook account with your girl you are gonna look like a complete and total loser. Also, think of all the real chores she could be doing around the house instead of on a virtual farm and finally, 7 out of 10 Farmville players can barely cook in real life, down home indeed!

Dance Dance Revolution

General: Before Rock Band or Guitar Hero there was DDR, the game where you have to dance (or step) to the beat to achieve points. This game is fun in a group and can serve as a good workout as well. All you need is a little room and a love for music and you’re set.

The Nice: Forget Wii Fit at least with DDR you can have some interesting music while shaking it to the beat. Just imagine the love of your life shaking it on the dance floor just for you. This is a great game to team up together and have some fun before you show off your skills to your friends.

The Evil: If you combine bad J-Pop with the lack of rhythm your girl has you are in for a world of hurt. You will be forced to watch the painful display of your woman flailing around the living room knocking things over only to have to tell her she did well. Honestly, the thing to do is bypass all this and get her that sexy stripper pole workout thing. At least with that you can YouTube it and become an internet star.

Mario Kart

General: Go Cart racing at its finest. Mario Kart puts the character of Super Mario Bros. behind the wheel where you can race across a ton of different lands from the Mario universe. The gameplay is fun and the tracks are beautifully designed. This is a great game for all ages and skill types.

The Nice: Mario Kart is the kind of game that will little practice you can become good at it and it is designed to give you friendly competition. Girls will like the Mario world and the cute characters like the princess and Yoshi and will get into the gameplay that offers a scalable challenge without being harsh on first timers.

The Evil: Remember how bad your girl played Super Mario Bros.? How she would contort her whole body when trying to turn or jump the character. Do you really want to put another woman behind the wheel and worst yet she will want you to play. Now the question is do you own her in the game and sleep on the couch or let her win and listen to her playful ribbing for the next 20 years. What if she beats you fair and square, what then, you know murder is illegal right?

World of Warcraft

General: The ultimate MMO. You can create a character from a list of races and classes and play in an immense world of fantasy. Not only will you have tons of things to do, but tons of people to do it with. World of Warcraft can be almost anything you want from a challenging experience to a social outlet where you cook and search for treasure. Seriously, everyone is playing this.

The Nice: Sure it may take some time to get her started in the World of Warcraft if she was never before a gamer, but it can be worth it. If you are a fan of the game then the best thing is to have the person you love spending time with you loving something else you like spending time with. Plus, most girls pick support classes and are notorious for finishing all the quests and events so that can come in very handy for you and maybe even your guild.

The Evil: Do you really want to be a teacher? Honestly, you are looking at three outcomes. One, she will never get the game right and make you look bad and bother you all the time to help her. Two, she will quit out of frustration and hate you for it, but she won’t dump you, oh no, she will force you to quit the game. Third, she becomes too good at the game and it takes over her life even more than it does yours. Her holy priest is picked over your hunter in the guild you helped to create and so she is turning you down for sex so she can finish all the holiday quests. See, this is why you live alone as long as humanly possible.

Do you see what I did there?

All joking aside there will always be games that appeal to one segment of the populous over the other, but is there really such a thing as a girl’s game anymore? I have seen and know many women of various ages that enjoy all games from the Farmville’s to the Call of Duties. Boys will most likely dominate gaming for the foreseeable future, but in that sea of testosterone you will find gamer girls doing the same thing we do, kicking ass and getting our asses kicked.

Ask Kayhynn: Week 2, A Bit Late, But Not Short

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Developers Talk
World of Warcraft Cataclysm Developers Talk

Seeing as World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was released Dec. 7 and most readers and question submitters know I’m a WoW player, I received a number of WoW: Cataclysm related questions which I decided to put together for this week’s Q&A. Questions answered include what were major changes to the game, what do I love/hate about the game, new character experience and more.

Article Source: http://www.eogamer.com/node/189

Motivation Monday: Bad video game movies

bad video game movies demotivational poster
bad video game movies demotivational poster

Motivation Monday: Bad video game movies

Let’s just be honest with something, when it comes to nerds and geeks and gamers trying to agree on something is as hard as getting a Senate bill passed. It really does not matter what the question is from which Star Wars movie was the best or who has the best gaming console, you will find an argument and a ton of varied answers.

However, Hollywood is to blame for this as well. Far too often you have a video game or even comic book story for that matter that with a little tweaking and good market research can be turned into a hit. Sure, you won’t satisfy everyone, but a least people won’t hate your film. I believe the problem occurs when the suits in tinsel town decide to make a video game movie for those who never heard of the game or even worse when they just take a name and wrap it around a star thinking name power will win the day alone. As a fan of Star Trek I knew long time ago that you start out with a film for the fans and then tweak it for the general audience not the other way around.

It is almost impossible to make a video game movie everyone will love, but if you give it your best and at least honor the source material and not toss in pulp culture crap or a flavor of the month actor you will get more cheers then rotten tomatoes.  But we are not here for the good, we are here for the bad and there are way too many to choose from.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

I remember reading comic book forums about how they hated Kristin Kreuk so much in Smallville and then I heard she was going to play Chun Li and almost died. There was a lot wrong with this movie even if they somehow was able to create the real Chun Li and put her in it, but with Kreuk it was doomed to die a slow painful death.

Dungeons and Dragons

How in the holy hell do you ruin a D&D movie? I mean you take some adventure looking actors, toss in magic, sword fighting a dungeon and a dragon and you win. It’s like finally getting alone time with the girl of your dreams and you ask her to make you a sandwich. Don’t blame Marlon Waynes for this one, they told him to act like that.

Wing Commander

This is another movie that could have been so good and it even had some good cast members but when you have a bad script there is not much you can do. You know you are in a bad place when the cut scenes from the game look better and tell a better story than the movie.

Double Dragon

It’s like Saved by the Bell Double Dragon style, how can you go wrong? This movie suffers from the fate many video games and even comic book movies do and that is adding in too much to the story. The writers could have tailored a simple save the girl story and with good acting and choreography it could have done well, but they go all Golden Child or Mortal Kombat the series on us and ruin it.

Super Mario Bros.

What did I just say about adding too much to a story? You know honestly, I believe if they were to somehow stay true to the Mario Bros. story that people would respect that as abstract and weird of a movie that would be, or maybe not. You know how sometimes taking something that is not real and adapting it to real life can be fun like Enchanted? Well, this is the other side of that coin where you have bad plastic enemies, animated Dinosaurs and jump boots. This is the ninth level of hell; this is the Super Mario Bros. movie.

Not even worth the download

We know Hollywood is blind, deaf and stupid, the Superman movies tells us all we need to know. The problem isn’t the game it is the people and mostly people who know nothing of the game or the gamers who love them. There are a few good video game movies out there, but it could be some time before we get our Dark Knight for video game movies. Perhaps the Halo or World of Warcraft movies, nah.

Are game reviews valid?

Are game reviews valid? by Honorabili

You might read a game review and be enticed to go buy or play a game but is a review really valid? How long did the reviewer play the game? Does it take into account replayability and updates over the life of the game?

The Quality Triangle
The Quality Triangle

I’ve written a bunch of game reviews but I often find myself with the dilemma of when I sit down and think about how effective the review really is. One of the reasons I created Obsolete Gamer is so that I can honestly review games in a reasonable and realistic manner. It’s really really hard to play a game that hasn’t come out yet or has just come out and play it like a crackhead non-stop to try to simulate having played it over a series of days and weeks. The problem with even doing that is that the game will still be new to me within a week timeframe as opposed to the game having been around in my collection for months. One would be more excited about a new game rather than an old one, unless it’s a really old game that was your favorite and you haven’t played in a while and you just found it because you lost it for some reason.

Planet Side cover
Planet Side cover

This question might not just apply to games but to maybe some movies or things like electronics and cars as well. Most reviews that just get mass produced will say this thing is “the next best thing since sliced bread and you must have it!” but they don’t take into account that for instance a car might have a defect that you will only see after owning it for a year or a game will get ruined by the 5th patch because they changed something that fucked up game balance and it will make people flee playing a game like a sinking ship. This especially happens for MMOs which are changing all the time. PlanetSide comes to mind, which a ton of my friends used to play when it was really, really popular. Your best bet it to read a game review by somebody that has the same tastes as you or to read a review written recently about an old game (like what we write here often, ahem).

A problem I have sometimes running Obsolete Gamer is that some reviews I’ve written, in order to keep them valid, I have to go back and play a game and update the review. One game that does this a lot to me is Nation Red, which updates like at least once a month, with new content added ALL THE TIME! I keep track of this for Obsolete Gamer but many sites will just pump out an article and just file it forever in its archives, never ever updating it again. In my book that makes those reviews useless. If you haven’t already checked out our game reviews do so in this section of the website.

Civilization 5 Crash
Civilization 5 Crash

So what’s the point of reviews? I see many as pieces of writing intended to get the reader to buy or play a game. Many get used to hype up the expectations of the potential and existing fanbase to a game or product. Some are genuinely written to try to warn people to stay away from a particularly poorly made game that would just be a waste of time and money for the player. Sure, I’ve played some games that have gotten bad reviews and found them somewhat more pleasant than this horrible picture the media painted for me. For example, I gave Elemental War of Magic a fair chance and actually it was sad that I enjoyed it more than Civilization 5, a game I had pre-ordered for $50 and now hate with a passion. The media crucified Elemental War of Magic because of its many bugs and shortcomings and yes even Stardock admits screwing up and it resulting as a flop but the difference here is that Elemental War of Magic got patched to the point where it’s very much enjoyable now but it still has a bad reputation as opposed to Civilization 5, which is PRAISED to be the strategy game of the year, although in my and in the eyes of every true Civilization game fan, it’s the biggest pile of shit ever made with the Civilization name. The game is months old and still has most of the bugs and missing features I mentioned in my early review of the game. It’s disappointing especially when they are still selling this turd for so much money. If you want to see this rage, visit the Facebook Civilization Page to join in on the fight!

Psychonauts Box, groovy huh?
Psychonauts Box, groovy huh?

This kind of hypocrisy has been around for many years, and not just in the gaming industry. Whatever has the biggest budget will get hyped up and up and some stuff that does deserve attention will sink into obscurity. Let’s look at small games though because it’s easy for people to say that Call of Duty or Halo or World of Warcraft are the best games EVER but let’s look at small games to see where the industry nailed it and where it dropped the ball. The industry rightly praised Plants vs Zombies and Trine and rightly so but it dropped the ball when it came to a classic gem like Psychonauts. You might say “Yeah, Psychonauts got famous later as a cult classic” but seriously, the people who made it needed the money from the game when it came out, not 4-6 years later! Most people pirated Psychonauts or bought it on Steam for $2 when they had its sale or even from Good Old Games. Think about how many people might have been laid off because the game didn’t do well when it was fresh.

Games are sort of like cars in the economic sense: they degrade in value over time. The money they make for the developer the most is earned when they are new and fresh. When they are on sale because they flopped or they’re old is marginal. The money the developer gets from ebgames or some other place selling you a used copy is NOTHING. I’m not saying go out there and buy every game because I do believe some stuff should have never come out and is not even worth downloading a pirated copy (a topic for another article), but if you do LOVE a game, whether you played it a friends house, got a demo, or are playing a warez copy, do try to buy it to pay back the creators and people whose life was spent writing that game. The economy is a democracy in the sense that you vote with your wallet. If you like the games made by certain authors and programmers and studios, keep them in business. Don’t you want your friends to do well?

Odium, a game few have played with like no reviews
Odium, a game few have played with like no reviews

I’m getting sidetracked, so going back to reviews, if you can’t find a good review for a game or a review at all, do a little research instead. See if there are people who posted information on forums regarding the quality of a game. Some stuff might be too new and small for people to review or it might be just really really BAD. Sometimes that’s a way to tell but sometimes the game might just be a lost gem that you have found. Give games a chance and don’t always go with what the mass media wants you to play. I don’t know how busy your life is, but try to not let people make a decision for you. This also doesn’t apply to just games as well but life as a whole. Discover something you will like. Try out a new genre if you’re bored of gaming in general or go out and do something else to get a new perspective. This might keep you from burning out on something.

Who knows what may happen? You might just find a game that becomes a new favorite of yours and you might end up like us writing reviews on them yourselves and websites like this one or maybe this one as well. ;] Just make sure that you honestly share your opinion on a game… To yourself be true and to others as well, if you can. Save people the aggravation of buying a lemon!

Ranting Saturday: Underwater Quests. Why?

phinny
phinny

It has come to my attention that developers seem to find sending my character underwater as something fun and innovative. MMORPG’s have always had underwater minions and some even had underwater dungeons (Kedge Keep in EQ) but never did much to improve the enjoyability of an aquatic adventure aside from adding spells that allow you breathe infinitely while submerged. For some sick reason, MMO’s strive to have at least one underwater level and riddle your adventure with random underwater quests.

Why?

Why the fuck would you WANT to send me underwater? What is in that NPC’s mind where he found it absolutely acceptable to ask a completely random stranger to swim to the bottom of a fucking lake to kill some monsters. I don’t want to kill Murlocs unless they’re on the fucking coastline. I don’t want to navigate at a 50% movement reduction speed through the lost ruins of some ancient tribe. I don’t care about Atlantis. If I did, I wouldn’t be playing video games. I’d be a goddamn Mythbuster.

It adds a certain degree of whimsical wonder to the game!

My ass it does! I don’t see Willy Wonka’s factory underwater. What is whimsical about aqua goblins aside from the fact they fucking root you underwater and make you shit bricks are forced to narrowly avoid drowning.

Doesn’t the lack of air and danger make it more exciting?

No, it doesn’t. In fact, I spend most of my time bobbing my head in and out of the water’s surface just to make sure my character is breathing. Then, I hover over the quest mob and swim down, slap them around, collect my item, and swim back to the top. Who the hell remains underwater without a buff? No one, that’s who!

I think you’re being completely unfair.

I think you’re being a complete cunt! This isn’t Echo the Fucking Dolphin Online. I don’t want to go underwater unless it leads to a cave with fucking air in it. I’m not looking to kill sharks. Don’t the NPC’s have a Navy? Let them deal with it or give me a boat to go spear hunting with a bucket of chum. Don’t send me in there with my heavy ass armor and a sword to fight a shark! What are they thinking? “Oh hey, here’s a scuba mask. I’m sure this is sufficient to fight a shark. Go get em, tiger!”

Guys, please! Stop making me go underwater! It’s not just that it’s a horrid change of pace but I’m terrified of the water. I don’t like it and I never will. And because I specifically don’t like it, it means no one else should either. So please, please! Get rid of these quests. Stop sending me underwater. Stop making me collect kelp. It isn’t worth the danger!

The Interview: Peter Brauer: Second Skin

Second Skin wallpaper
Second Skin wallpaper

Second Skin

With World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion recently released there is no doubt you know someone who is an avid player. Perhaps you know someone who played a lot of Everquest in the past or someone who plays a lot to today’s MMO’s. Pretty much if you bring up MMO’s people will either be into them and have reasonably good things to say or they will talk about how bad it is, how it takes up to much time and can destroy your life.

On our Obsolete Gamer show about MMO’s we talked with a number of our friends and fans about playing these games and the effect on their lives. We were especially happy to speak with Sairys who was featured in the documentary Second Skin along with her guild The Syndicate.

Second skin takes us into the world of MMO’s as they follow various people and couples in their daily lives and shows us how MMO’s can have a positive and negative effect on the people and those closest to them. On December 8th Second Skin had its United States TV premier on Current TV.

Obsolete Gamer was able to talk with Peter Brauer producer of Second Skin about the film.

What made you want to create the film second skin?

Peter Brauer: Juan Carlos, Victor, and I were looking for a feature documentary subject at the time.  We are all gamers.  Victor and Juan had a friend who was a teacher by day and the mayor of a large town in Star Wars Galaxies by night.  He was devoted enough to run home during his lunch breaks to play.  His devotion to the game was affecting his relationships, and they saw rich stories happening in the games.  When they told me about their friend, I had just read Ogre to Slay, Outsource to the Chinese.  I told them about it, and we knew we were onto something big.  We researched if there were other MMO docs, and when we found none we started researching in earnest.

What was the process for selecting people to interview and profile?

Peter Brauer: We started out by driving to the GLS conference in Madison WI where we interviewed many experts, including Edward Castronova and Nick Yee.  On the way we interviewed Liz Wooley who I had contacted for an interview.  At her home we met Dan B chance, who re-contacted us after he left her home.  After cutting a short fund raising reel, we realized we needed to film stories happening in the present and posted a casting call.  With the help of Nick Yee that got reposted to Kotaku, and we got a lot of responses.  Among them was Andy Belford, who invited us into him home and introduced us to his friends in Ft. Wayne.  After filming them for a week we knew we had some thing.  Victor found Heather through a comment on the blog Terranova.  She invited us to film her first meeting with Kevin, and we spent the last of our first round of money filming it.  Once met our central characters, we knew we had fantastic people to follow.

How did you connect with the guild, The Syndicate?

Peter Brauer: Dragons (Sean) contacted us based on our casting call.  He sent us a list of 10 reasons to check out his guild.  Juan filmed in DC at one of their regional meet ups and met Sean.  Then he invited us to their LAN party in Ohio, where we meet a lot more of the guild.  Finally Victor and I got to film their annual convention in SF where we met Syndicate members from around the world.  They were incredibly generous and welcoming.  They hosted a screening of Second Skin at their next annual convention which we all attended.  I really can’t thank them enough for appearing in the film.

How much were you unable to show due to time, length ect?

Peter Brauer: We shot over 400 hours of tape. I think it was 700 pages transcribed.  Honestly Juan had to cut countless characters and interviews to fit everything in 93 minutes.  We shot Nexius Fatale extensively to cover Second LIfe, but realized there just wasn’t enough room in the film.  Nex is only in the film briefly at the beginning in front of the Subway, but we are still friends with him in NYC.  There are too many people to name, who we need to thank for sharing their stories with us.  So basically we couldn’t include most of what we shot.

Do you think showing the addictive side to MMO just adds to the negative stereotype considering there are so many gamers who play MMO and never become addicted?

Peter Brauer: We set out to draw a broad and accurate picture of MMO gaming, and therefore had to show the addictive side.  Though it isn’t that common, it does affect a lot of people.  When I started making the film I got my first WOW account.  I had been in avoiding it, because I was trying to focus on filmmaking.

I started playing 13-15 hours a day, and didn’t do much else for a month or two.  I had to seriously check my playing to start making the film.  I don’t regret the time I spent playing, because I reconnected with a childhood friend who had moved to California.  I just had to find the right balance between gaming and working.   MMOs can affect player lives differently depending on how they play.  We tried hard to show people who played positively.

The friendship and fun that the guys in Ft Wayne got from gaming was and still is an very positive part of all their lives.  The leadership and cooperation that Syndicate members learn is also incredible.  The freedom Andrew Monkelban gets from gaming cannot be understated.  But ultimately if a player isn’t balancing the game with their life correctly, they can be brought down by avoiding their troubles in excess.  I hope people can watch Second Skin and see both sides, but a movie about MMO’s without covering addiction would not be complete.

As for the relationships formed by those who play MMO’s what would you say are the differences between those and what would be considered a “traditional” relationship?

Peter Brauer: I see no difference in online relationships and traditional ones.  Kevin and Heather were truly in love with each other before they met IRL.  That did not change when they met.  People can form relationships through nearly any form of communication.  The games are actually a great proving ground for friendship, because you are constantly put in situations where you have to trust and depend on each other.  I would say some friendships online are short lived, and the long term ones normally require meeting in person.  However, I don’t think it’s essential.  I saw time and time again people who gave and received real life support in MMOs.  The friendships people form online have contributed positively to countless lives.

What was your opinion of the friendship and family dynamic of those who play MMO and those in guilds such as The Syndicate?

Peter Brauer: There was an interview we shot with a father and son who played in the Syndicate that we couldn’t include for lack of time.  I wish we could have, because I have never seen a 14 year old boy who was closer with his father.  The games gave the son a place to show his leadership and expertise to his father.  While the dad was the boss about real world things like school work, in the game the son got to boss his dad around.  It made their relationship one of equals and very adult.  When I was 14 I couldn’t have dreamed of relating to my father in this way.  WOW gave them a place to be true equals and ultimately best friends.  We met several other families who gamed together in this way with very positive results.

What was the overall reception to the film?

Peter Brauer: The reception blew us away.  We when first premiered at SXSW we got a lot of attention at the festival and on the web.  The first day our trailer went online 45K people watched it.  180k people watched our premier on Hulu in one week last year.  It was truly an honor to reach so many people.  As for personal reactions, we have encountered just about every response.  Gamers have approached us to thank us for portraying them so honestly.  Other gamers have railed against us for showing too much addictive play.  Parents of gamers have thanked me profusely for helping them understand their children.  The diversity of responses to our film is one of the things I am proudest of.  I think all the different responses to the film are a testament to Juan’s even handed editing of the material.

Did you receive comments or e-mails from fans or companies that stood out?

Peter Brauer: We had one fan see our movie opening night in Portland.  He was a big time gamer and was disappointed that the theater wasn’t packed.  He contacted me that night and offered to personally print up fliers to canvas the city for us.  He told all his friends, contacted bloggers he knew, and attended every screening that week to drum up support.  I am still blown away by his dedication and generosity.  I am so thankful that our movie has touched so many people.  Not every comment is positive for sure.  But at least we have gotten some amazing responses. 

Do you plan to create another documentary within the subject of MMO’s?

Peter Brauer: Right now I am not working on any MMO docs.  Though we will probably re-release our DVD in the future and might add a lot of the material we had to leave out.  After Second Skin Juan, Victor and I got to make several short docs for VBS.TV called the oral history of gaming.  Juan and I got to meet and hang out with my long time idol/hero Sid Meier to make this: http://www.motherboard.tv/2010/4/14/oral-history-of-gaming-game-godfather-sid-meier-and-the-48-hour-game We also made these others about Richard Garriot, Ralph Baer, and Eric Zimmerman http://www.vbs.tv/watch/motherboard/richard-garriott http://www.vbs.tv/watch/motherboard/eric-zimmerman http://www.vbs.tv/watch/motherboard/ralph-baer-and-his-all-purpose-boxes They were a lot of fun to make, and I even got Ralph Baer to sign my childhood Pocket Simon which he invented.

You can purchase the DVD of Second Skin on the Official Website.

Commercial Wars: War of the Sword and Shield

zelda sword and shield
zelda sword and shield

In the age of World of Warcraft the sword and shield still dominates when it comes to roleplaying. Even when you look at a game like Final Fantasy that takes advantage of both modern technology and magic, the sword and shield are still present in one form or another. From my old pen and paper D&D days to playing games like Neverwinter Nights and Dungeon Siege there is something about those type of games that keeps the fans playing.

As anyone knows there are tons of video games that feature not only the sword and shield, but magic, the bow and arrow and a medieval theme that makes us want to load up Lord of the Rings for a 15-hour marathon session. Let’s take a look at some commercials that try to capture that theme to draw you into the game world and hopefully make a sale.

Crystalis: Nintendo

This is classic adventure production at its finest.  You can breakdown the commercial and see how it was done using the technology they had at the time. First you have the hero which you want to look right as far as the costume and weapons. Second you have a basic forest-like landscape, but you blur the backgrounds to give it some mystery and pipe in some shots of what the hero is after. Then you add the destination in the far distance and a shot of the hero approaching the enemy.

Sure, the monster looks cheesy now, but at the time that was pretty good. The special effects were very nice for the time and overall made for a good commercial.

Zelda: Gameboy Color

This is animated but it is done very well for a short spot starting with the pan around and then into the Gameboy screen with the snow falling into the background leading to a shot of Link rushing in on his horse. Believe me, thirty second spots are hard because you have a little less than that to capture the audience and let them know what you are offering.

In this case you kind of expect people to know of Zelda, but still the challenge is there. You get a scene of what the game deals with. Link is searching for something and there will be challenges along the way. This may be simple compared to what we see today, but it was well put together and executed into a fun to watch commercial.

Golden Axe 2: Japanese

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Short and sweet, what is cooler than a Japanese guy dressed in armor wielding a giant sword? Well, alright, ninja’s and pirates, but still this was pretty cool. Honestly, the costume looks good, the sword looked real and we saw just enough before the in-game video to appreciate it without going overboard.

We get to see some cool shots from the actual game and then boom we have our warrior cleaving us in two with that sword again before the Sega logo.

Dragonfire: Atari 2600


Okay, so he does not have a sword or a shield, but when you have a talking dragon (especially with a voice like his) you have to profile it. Now while I do not understand why a medieval dragon is in some futuristic looking room caressing a game cartridge, I do think it is funny that the prince sneaks in like a thief to snatch it.

Not only does the costume of the dragon look plastic, but even the prince looks like he is wearing the princesses sleep suit. You do have to give them credit for zooming in on the stickman graphic of the game though.

Time for Ale

Alight, so we got a look at a few video game commercials featuring the sword and shield. Now you vote which did it best.

[poll id=”14″]