Saturday, November 27, 2010

Challenge? What Challenge?

  Deathwing says, "I'll give you a challenge."

In the year since I last played World of Warcraft there are only a handful (I think 2) new 5-man dungeons.  5-mans are my favorite since they can be run quickly but still take skill and thought.  Raiding is too time intensive for me, so 5-mans are perfect bite sized chunks of group activity.  I always liked the cooperation and challenge it took to get through 5-man dungeons.

Imagine my surprise to resubscribe and find that the challenge is gone.  Everyone is so over-geared for the old dungeons that they just blast through.  One of the tanks in a group the other night said, "Ugh, we've already taken 10 minutes, hurry it up guys."  I couldn't believe it!  These used to take a slow, measured, thoughtful approach and were run in about 30-45 minutes.  Now 10 minutes is a long time?  I guess when the dps can just AOE everything to death then the whole run goes a lot faster, but I think it's less fun then it used to be.

One thing I'm loving about running random heroics is the dungeon finder.  Where has this been all of my WoW career?  I can't believe how much more efficient it is at finding groups then I used to be.  Instantly teleporting my character into and out of dungeons is a major plus as well.  I really hope Blizzard ends up patching in a raid finder, that would just make my day.  Such a huge chunk of time raiding is spent in the organization stage that if a raid finder was created I might actually have time to run some raids.

I'll run a few more random heroics with my 80 druid for old time's sake and to build up some justice points, but the fast-paced, no thought dungeons are wearing thin.  I'm much more excited for December 7th when no one will be over-geared for the new Cataclysm dungeons.  People will actually have to think and talk to one another again, and I think that would be great.

Until then, I'm going to have fun with my brand new level 4 Paladin!  I can't wait to explore the 1-60 leveling game that's been completely redone.  Also, I rolled this character with my brother so we can play together, which makes the whole experience more enjoyable.  I'm sure that will tide me over until Cataclysm's release in a few weeks.  That and League of Legends.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WoW Time Investment Breakdown

 Image by Spacemancer

I've rejoined the World of Warcraft.  I haven't played a lot yet, but I've gotten my feet wet with all the Cataclysm happenings taking place in the world.  I thought it would be interesting to look at my current breakdown of time spent doing various activities since I resubscribed.

Character Maintenance - 3 hours
I did a lot of sorting my inventory, setting up some auctions, figuring out my gear, setting up my talents and glyphs, and generally getting reacquainted with my characters.  It wasn't exactly fun, but it was interesting.

Cataclysm Quests and Atmosphere - 3 hours 
I did all the shattering quests I could get my hands on from the questgiver in Orgrimmar.  These were a lot of fun.  I really enjoy questing and interesting storylines in my MMOs and this had both.  Besides that, I was just taking in some of the atmosphere and tension from the shaking world, the attacks on our cities, and the general sense of unease.  It has me very excited for the shattering.

Cataclysm One Boss Dungeons - 2 hours
I ran each of the 4 one boss dungeons.  They were a nice break from questing and they were my first experience with the group finder.  The group finder is awesome.  Being able to do my thing and go questing while the game finds a group on my behalf brings me great joy.  I think I'm going to be doing a lot more dungeon runs then I used to.

Heroic 5-Man Wrath Dungeons - 2 hours
I ran a few of the 5-man heroic dungeons and I'm sad to say that nothing is new.  I've been away for a year and they remain the same, although I guess we get a new currency instead of tokens.  That's not a big change.  They're still solid dungeons, but I've run them all more times then I can remember.  I want to explore new dungeons and have new experiences instead.

The word on the street (or on MMO blogs at any rate) is that the shattering is happening today.  I'm off to see what they've patched in with the Tuesday update.  Hopefully it's awesome!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Settling into Winter with Some Games

I've been busy lately, so while I've been gaming I haven't has as much opportunity to write about my thoughts and experiences.  I wanted to do a quick update on what I'm playing and what I've beaten lately.


I beat Fable III a few days after it came out.  If you were a fan of Fable 2 then Fable III will provide you with some more fun.  There is little in the way of sweeping changes or improvements over the last entry in the series, but there is some solid hack and slash adventure waiting for those interested.  I think in the long run my wife will get more play time out of this game then I will.

For an explorer like me, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is shaping up to be well worth it's price.  With a myriad of missions, collectibles, and objectives I feel that I'll be having fun with the single player campaign for quiet some time.  So far it's a great entry into the series and I can see myself playing until I complete every achievement.  I love the series that much.

From everything I've heard, the multiplayer is supposed to be fantastic and unlike anything else currently on the market.  I hope to dive into that this weekend and report back with my findings.

I've gotten the chance to jump into a few SC2 games lately, but not as often as I did a few months back.  It's still a great game, I just don't have large chunks of time to devote to it.  Instead, I've been watching a lot of high level commentary and matches which are really interesting.

The day[9] daily is my favorite part of the SC2 metagame.  Day[9] discusses strategy, becoming a better gamer, and making time for fun in your play.  If you want to see some unique and funny matches make sure to check out day[9]'s series called Funday Monday.

In which our hero, Meat Boy, platforms like a pro.  This is a hardcore game in a vein that I haven't experienced since childhood.  Remember those days of memorizing levels on your NES because you kept dying in the same spot over and over?  That's what this game is like, but in an amazing way.  If you like a platforming challenge, Super Meat Boy is the best $15 you can spend right now.

My favorite part is the replay after each level completion.  All of your attempts are combined into a super replay where you watch every death happen at the same time while your one final Meat Boy makes it to the level goal.  So fun.

I have written at length about League of Legends already, but it's still occupying the majority of my gaming time.  It's the type of game that I want to play at the moment.  It's a free-to-play, challenging, skill-based, multiplayer, competitive, non-FPS, with an advancement system and loads of customization.  I keep coming back to this League of Legends day after day.  I love this game.

I recently went back and started working on my saved game again.  I think I'm about two thirds of the way done with the main quest. The problem I'm running into with DA:O is that I'm a completionist and an explorer, so I keep wandering off to do every side quest I find.  I explore every room of every dungeon and want to complete the dialog tree with every NPC I meet.  In a game as sprawling as DA:O that takes a lot of time.  I think I have 40 hours invested already.  I really want to beat this one by the time Dragon Age 2 comes out in the spring.

I officially resubscribed and bought the digital copy of Cataclysm.  I'm currently in the process of getting my characters prepared and switching servers so that I'm ready when Cataclysm releases on December 7th.  I still haven't played much, I'm mostly just doing housekeeping with my account.  Expect to hear more from me about WoW once Cataclysm hits.

That's where all of my gaming hours have been going.  I wanted to write a few more reviews and impressions about my current stock of games, but life has just been too busy.  I'm hoping to get more writing time over the upcoming holiday season.  In the meantime I'd love to hear about what's currently on your gaming menu.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Child's Play 2010

Child's Play charity just opened up their site for 2010.  Child's Play is an amazing charity that gives video games and video game systems to childrens' hospitals and childrens' wards of hospitals.  There have been a lot of happy kids thanks to the contributions of the gaming community since the charity started.  Gaming can help kids through very challenging stays in the hospital.  It lifts spirits, makes kids happy, and keeps them thinking positive.  I plan to write a longer post about Child's Play in December, since people always seem to be in a giving mood during that month, but I highly suggest taking a look at their site and seeing what they're all about.

If you're a gamer this is a great chance to show the world that gaming can be positive.  Hop over to the site to find out more about Child's Play.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Reading: MMO of Choice Edition

I have MMOs on my mind this week.  Here are some good posts on the subject.

This video reminded me of why I love language.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Server Situation

I'm anticipating a return to World of Warcraft shortly.  I have that MMO itch and WoW is the most appealing to me at the moment.  Peer pressure and the looming expansion are helping to steer me that way.  But, I'm running into a problem.

All of my friends are scattered across WoW servers.  The first server I played on, Alleria, no longer has any of my friends on it.  Bonechewer, the server with my level 80 main, now has none of my friends on it either.  My brother and a group of our friends are playing on Marudin and my other main chunk of friends is playing on Dragonmaw.  Besides those, I also have a few friends here or there playing on servers without anyone else I know.

If I make a return to WoW and actually want to play with my friends, which I do, then I'm going to have to do a server transfer.  I'd like to get that out of the way before the expansion lands.  I'd also like to transfer to a server where my friends are still playing Horde so that I don't have to pay for a faction change too.

This is the main reason I haven't resubscribed to WoW yet.  I need to make up my mind about what to do with my main and who to play with.  Right now I really wish that I could do 5-man dungeons with any of my friends regardless of which server they are on.  We are closer then ever to that ability with RealID and the dungeon finder, I just wish it existed in-game at the moment.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

WoW on the Mind

I've been sick for the past week and haven't had much of a chance for gaming but I did get a chance to read a few books.  One of them was The Shattering, which is all about the events in WoW leading up to the Cataclysm.  It really got me excited to play the game again.

I think at this point it's inevitable that I'll resubscribe for at least a few months.  I looked at my WoW account today and saw that I haven't played in about a year, but I don't feel like I've been missing out on anything.

I have a level 80 that's done almost every quest in Northrend and beaten Naxx a few times.  I never got into hardcore raiding because I hated the time investment and I don't plan on picking it up ever.  I always liked doing random 5-man dungeons, but I quit before they launched the dungeon finder.  I do regret that.

I think I'll start back up in the next week or two, try out some of the newer Wrath content, enjoy some 5-mans, and get my main ready for Cataclysm.  WoW sounds like fun to me at the moment, which is something I haven't been able to say in at least a year.  I bet I'll be unsubscribed by February, but that's just a guess.  As long as I'm having fun with the game it doesn't matter.

Anyway, Cataclysm hype and the lack of interesting MMOs have consorted to make me, once again, interested in WoW.  Don't be surprised if you see some more posts on the subject.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Coffee Table Problem

 This Living Room is Not Kinect Friendly

Oh Kinect... I had high hopes when I first saw you, but now they've been smashed upon the rocks of reality.

You see, there's a little issue I like to call the coffee table problem.  For Kinect to detect the user it must be seven feet away from them.  Sounds good in theory, but in reality most people don't have that kind of space in their living room and, if they do, there's a high probability of the seven foot mark being exactly where the coffee table sits.  Just look at some of the sample living rooms via Joystiq.

Kinect won't work if it can't detect a person's whole body, so the coffee table poses a problem.  Some living rooms without coffee tables don't even have the space required to play.  It sounds like a minor issue, but when you think about sitting down to relax and play a game do you really imagine yourself moving furniture?  I don't.  It's extremely annoying.

With my coffee table sitting in the sweet spot for Kinect I'm even less inclined to pick one up.  Maybe down the line when the games become more refined I'll change my mind, but for the moment it's simply not worth the hassle and money for me to purchase one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Will Kinect Learn From the Wii?

Xbox 360 Kinect launches tomorrow and I have to say I'm not completely impressed with the launch game lineup.  When I first saw the Kinect technology I couldn't help but imagine how amazing it's games could be.  With launch day just around the corner I'm already disheartened with some of the games presented to the public.

It seems like the two types of games that will be dominating the system will be mini-game collections and work out games.  There are some other offerings like Kinectimals and Dance Central that look to make a unique impression with their gameplay, but most games look like they could be Wii games ported over to a new system.

The thing I'm most worried about is the land of shovelware that the Wii has become.  I can't even look at most of the releases because they're so awful, unless they have Mario in the title.  What are the chances of the Kinect succumbing to the same fate?  I truly hope that doesn't happen.

Itsa Me! The Cash Cow!

One thing that's going to be in Microsoft's favor is the prevalence of Xbox Live Arcade.  It has become a widely accepted part of the Xbox experience and there are some great gems in the lineup.  Most XBLA games are in the five to fifteen dollar range too, which only helps make them more palatable.  If they start releasing XBLA Kinect games they could have a booming business on their hands, but I don't see fifty dollar mini-game collections as a sustainable business model for the system.

Feel free to sound off on the Kinect in the comments.  I'd really like to know if anyone is planning on picking up the Kinect, and which part you're most excited about.  I might have my misgivings, but I really do hope the Kinect turns out to be awesome after all is said and done.