Showing posts from June, 2010

DDO Day 1: Re-entering the World

Last night I did as promised and re-entered a MMO.  Dungeons and Dragons Online was my game of choice and I ended up making this badass. He's a Monk so watch your face... it might get punched. As you can see, he's a Monk and I managed to get him to level 2 last night.  Level 2 is actually an accomplishment since DDO only has a total of 20 levels.  Last time I tried DDO I would only play with my brother, I didn't do a single quest or dungeon by myself.  This time is no different and you can check out his impressions over at Lost In Neurons .  Last time we played until about level 6, so a lot of this content is familiar since we ran it once already. This time I rolled a Monk instead of a Ranger (which is what I played before).  The best part about being a Monk is that I get to punch things - lots of things - right in the face.  POW!  It just makes me feel like a badass.  My brother, on the other hand, rolled a Rogue because sensing, detecting, stealth, disarming traps,

The Allure of MMOs

What is the pull of an MMO over a traditional RPG?  The stories are weaker or lacking entirely.  There's a huge grind to get from the beginning of the game to the end.  At the end of an MMO everyone works for hours on end to increase stats ever-so-slightly.  If PvP is worldwide then all the experienced players gank the noobs.  All of our achievements can look lackluster as soon as a new expansion comes out.  Groups can take hours to find.  Certain content is locked out except for one time each week when we can attempt it.  Other players can treat us like shit.  And for all this we pay subscription fees or dole out our money to microtransactions. Despite all of that, I want to play an MMO.  I've been burned out on MMOs since about a year ago when I canceled my WoW subscription.  I dabbled in a few that released this year but none of them held my attention for longer then the first month trial.  I know I was burned out and to an extent I might still be, but I miss the sense o

The Problem with Motion Controls

Everyone is amazed by the new technology coming out of E3.  The Kinect and the Move are really pushing the body as an input device in place of a traditional controller.  But, what if a controller would make the game better?   What do you think about that, flailing Kinect lady? We are in the gimmick stage right now as far as software goes.  The technology, as presented to us, has yet to be refined and mastered.  High quality products usually start being released about a year and a half into a new console's lifespan.  I'm expecting a similar timeline with the Kinect and Move. One of the reasons everything is so gimmicky is because none of us have any kind of context for this type of game.  Someone jumps and their on-screen avatar jumps too.  Yay!  Amazing!  Oh My God!  It Works!  Ok... now what?  Does that make for a good game?  Does the appeal of flailing around last for longer than 10 minutes?  I really can't say.  No one, not even the press, has had much hands on ti

PSA: Mass Effect 2 for $27

Today on Amazon they have Mass Effect 2 for 27 dollars.  If you haven't picked up the game this is a great excuse to do so.  Follow the link for savings!

StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Pick a Race

Each race in StarCraft 2 has its own quirks and unique playstyle.  Because of this, it's important to find the right race for you.  After a lot of play you may eventually be comfortable playing with all three races, but to start off it's much easier to simply concentrate on learning one race really well until you are more comfortable with StarCraft 2. No race is "better" than any other race in StarCraft 2 but each race does play differently.  Nothing is overpowered because all three races are balanced against one another.  Lets dive in and discuss the three different racial options players have to choose from. Terran Terran are as close to human as you can get in StarCraft 2.  If you like to defend or have a tendency to turtle your forces , then the Terran may be your race of choice.  They have a strong emphasis on mechanical units and the future progression of modern day technology. Marines, tanks, rifles, snipers, stealth technology and nukes are all repr

Update on Replays

I just updated my StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide post on watching replays to improve skills.  I wanted to highlight one specific webcast by Day[9].  He's a top tier American player and he is full of StarCraft and StarCraft 2 knowledge.  His Day[9] TV webcast 121 covers a huge amount of small tips that add up to the difference between top tier play and being just below it.  He analyzes a silver and gold league game of StarCraft 2 and points out many of the small things that can make a world of difference.  I'm going to stop writing now and just let you see the video .

Nintendo 3DS

Wow.  This was my favorite announcement to come out of E3 .  With a 3D screen that doesn't need glasses and a hardware upgrade making this as powerful - if not more powerful - than the N64, I can't wait to get my hands on this thing. Want to know what really sold me on the 3DS?  This screenshot from Joystiq . 3D Starfox 64.  That's all I needed to buy a 3DS.  In some ways I'm an easy sell.  On top of it are Kingdom Hearts, Super Street Fighter IV 3D, Mario Kart, Paper Mario, Pilotwings Resort, and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  By far the best Zelda game ever made is coming to the 3DS.  Where do I pay and when can I hold one?  I bet my wife will want one too when she finds out that we can kick each others' asses in 3D while playing Super Street Fighter IV.  And those are only a few of the games that have been announced for the system. I still can't get over the fact that they're doing 3D without glasses.  I wonder how much more traction 3D TVs wou

Achievements Via Demos

An interesting development this morning for achievement hunters.  With the release of the Crackdown 2 demo on Xbox Live it was announced that any achievements you complete while playing the demo will automatically unlock as soon as you play the real game. This is a really interesting hook that hasn't been tried before.  If they allow people to have fun with their demo and already attempt the achievements everyone will be more likely to buy their game.  Not only do achievements add more goals for the player to complete, which adds re-playability to the demo, but once someone has invested large amounts of time in the process of attaining an achievement they will want to permanently keep the achievement, which is just more incentive to buy the game. Keep in mind that this won't work on everyone.  Some players don't care about achievements or gamerscore.  And if the demo is bad, then it doesn't matter how many points will carry over, because no one will want to buy

Sunday Reading: Links Are Fun Edition

It's time, once again, for some Sunday reading.  I haven't written a Sunday reading post for a few weeks, but I saved up some links that are particularly insightful. Church of Pangoria has some interesting thoughts on the questing conventions that we all take for granted.  He has some great ideas about minor tweaks to questing in MMOs that could improve the experience substantially. I have two articles from Kill Ten Rats for you.  The first is about balancing the new quest system in Guild Wars 2.  It's a solid analysis of the problems that might happen because of public/organic quests that GW2 aims to have. The second is about how niche the MMO market truly is.  He has some great advice that developers should keep in mind while creating MMOs. This last link is my favorite.  It discusses how to win with a marginal advantage in competitive gaming.  It applies to everything from Mancala to Chess to StarCraft.  Thanks to Systemic Babble for drawing my attention to th

Fight the Summer Slump with Flash Games

 The summer slump is in full effect... or affect.  I never know.  Anyway, with more than a month until I get to play StarCraft 2 again I've been turning to other sources of entertainment.  I always have a book I'm reading, a series I'm watching, and a game I'm playing.  I've been contemplating whether I should start up an MMO again, but for the moment I'm happy with free flash games . If you don't already know, I love tower defense games.  They are easy to pick up and play even for a non-gamer.  Most of them don't require a huge time investment either.  Bloons TD 3 has always been one of my favorite tower defense games and I just discovered that Bloons TD 4 has been released!  That's been holding my attention for the better part of a week and I'm still highly amused by it.  Unlike other tower defense games where monsters and enemies try to reach the end of the level, Bloons TD has balloons that need popping.  The pop sound attained with eve

Hands Off with New Technology

The hardest part of this E3 was not being able to get my hands on all the new technology .  Without a framework in mind for how these new peripherals play I have no way to know if any of the Kinect or Move games are worth paying attention too.  I can hope that flailing in front of a camera will make for good games but I won't know until I actually give the games a try. At least in the past if I saw a preview of gameplay I could contextualize it in my head.  I could make a decent guess about the way the game would play on a standard controller.  Now that's been thrown out the window. It isn't just the motion sensing technology either.  The same thing goes for 3D.  Everyone seemed to be showing off 3D but I've been watching the videos and news on a 2D monitor.  Not only am I not seeing their previews in 3D, but I can guarantee I won't spend the thousands of dollars necessary to set up 3D in my household.  It isn't worth the cost, especially with the stupid 3D

E3 Day 2 Catch-Up

I didn't have a chance to keep up with E3 news yesterday so I caught up this morning.  Playstation Move falls somewhere between the Kinect and the Wiimote.  It has potential but it's another thing I'm filing under wait and see.  The 3DS sounds awesome, but until I get one in my hands how am I supposed to judge it?  I really can't.  Although, I am excited to see a 3D screen without having to stupid 3D glasses.  Zelda looks like Zelda... nothing new there.  I think I was most excited by the Portal 2 teaser trailer.  I'm hoping that some hands on impressions of SWTOR emerge today.

E3 Ubisoft and EA Press Conferences

Much less impressed by the EA and Ubisoft press conferences than I was by the Microsoft one. EA showed off a bunch of shooters.  Same old same old.  Bulletstorm at least had a gimick: kicking enemies away and pulling enemies close.  It looked like different kills awarded different points.  Whatever, it might be fun... maybe.  EA also showed off mixed martial arts stuff which holds zero interest for me.  Madden goes in that category too.  Sports are not my thing.  There was nothing really impressive about the EA conference except for the new Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer.  It had no info on the gameplay but it got me excited for the game.  Again, I'm letting my Star Wars fanboyness shine through.  At least I'll admit it. Ubisoft has me interested in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood.  I liked AC1 and loved AC2.  It looks to be the story of AC2's main character many years later once he has an entire brotherhood of assassins working together.  I also think Rome is a g

E3 Microsoft Press Conference Thoughts

I've always wanted to go to E3, but since I'm not a professional game journalist I'll have to make do with blogs and livestreams of events as they happen this week.  I spent the morning watching the Microsoft press conference online and was impressed with the Natal which is now called the Kinect. The cameras see everything... everything. Control over my console without a controller?  Yes, please.  I hope the voice command pause/play works for all types of media and not just when in the Zune store.  I stream videos stored on my PC hard drive to my 360 almost every day.  If I can control those with my voice or hand motions I'll be very happy.  If the functionality is confined to only a few applications within the 360 I'll be sorely disappointed.  Time will tell. Video chatting via Xbox is pretty cool.  The camera automatically following me as I move around the room is pretty creepy.  So there's some balance I guess. They kicked off the press conference wi

My First Guest Post

My guest post is up on Professor Beej's blog!  This is the first guest post I've written and I'm excited to be featured on another person's site.  Beej is one of my favorite bloggers and I jumped at the chance to write something for his blog.  Hop over and take a look at my post on fragmentation of media !

E3 Ramp Up

E3 kicks off Tuesday which is always interesting.  Expect a deluge of information on all things gaming to start on Monday.  I'll probably do a lot of news posts next week because of E3 so be prepared for that.  In anticipation of the event a lot of companies are leaking information and trailers to hype up their games early.  I just ran across this The Force Unleashed II trailer and felt that I should share it. I love Star Wars.  I'm a geek, but I'm not afraid to admit it.  I love the expanded universe books and I've probably tried every Star Wars game out there.  I thought The Force Unleashed was a good game with a lot of great ideas that could become an amazing game if given more development time or a sequel.  I hope my prediction comes true.

Turning to the Virtual World for Advancement

From Zero to Hero Real life advancement isn't all it's cracked up to be.  It doesn't exist the way it used to.  Companies have no loyalty to their employees and our generation will constantly be switching jobs and the companies until we retire.  We can't expect a company to take care of us the way our parents could. The other day Tobold wrote "In my opinion games are for entertainment, not to "work" towards some virtual achievement."   I respectfully disagree.  I think we are turning more and more to virtual worlds for our sense of advancement because it's so hard to find in the real world.  Advancement in the real world no longer has a defined path.  Staying with one company for an entire lifetime of work isn't an option any more.  Real world advancement isn't a straight path up.  We move horizontally between jobs or get titles and responsibilities without a pay increase.  Promotions are hard to come by.  The path to advancement

StarCraft 2 Release is Nearing

July 27th is slowly getting closer.  With the end of the first public beta phase I'm going through StarCraft 2 withdrawal.  It's why the reality of the summer slump finally hit me.  Last night the first StarCraft 2 ad played on national TV.  Expect to see more of a media push in the coming months.  I'm assuming StarCraft 2 is going to have a huge launch and I hope all the best for blizzard.  The 30 second spot is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

The Summer Slump

The summer slump of game releases is here in force.  The only game I'm looking forward to this summer is StarCraft 2.  Nothing else coming out looks to be worthy of a purchase.   The palm tree is StarCraft 2 in the wasteland of summer releases So, what should I do with my free gaming time this summer?  Well, fallback games are always an option.  My 2 fallback games at the moment - Team Fortress 2 and Modern Warfare 2 - are still extremely fun.  I plan on wasting some summer hours on Kongregate playing through flash games that I haven't tried yet.  I love how much free content is on that site. I'm also contemplating starting up a MMO again.  I haven't been hooked on one since about this time last year.  The summer slump seems to encourage me to pick up a new - or old - MMO most summers.  Despite what I wrote the other day, I may still check out LotRO before it goes free to play.  I suppose going back to WoW is always another option.  I haven't logged in since

PSA: Team Fortress 2 Weekend Deals

Team Fortress 2 is one of my favorite games.  I especially love it when I run out of other things to play.  It's a great fallback game to have on hand.  With the launch of TF2 on Mac this weekend Valve is offering a free play weekend or - better yet - you can pick up the full game for only $10.  This is a game worth way more than 10 bucks.  If you don't already have it, now is the time to grab a copy of your very own.

Jumping Into the Action

I just realized how often a game drags me through a long and boring tutorial before getting into the action.  After renting so many Gamefly games lately and playing through at least their first hour I've determined that I hate introductions and tutorials in most games.  Developers, you need to get better at showing the player why we should love your game within the first few minutes. This is something that AAA developers can learn from flash and indie games .  You only have a few minutes to grab my attention.  After that I'm not going to play your game if I'm bored.  Don't waste time setting up an epic story.  Don't save interesting gameplay until later.  Don't limit me to an extremely linear tutorial.  Give me the game and let me test out the fun in it. In flash games I'm immediately thrown into the action.  I can figure out if I like a game within seconds.  With many console games I have to sit through the opening credits, opening video showing the

Generating Discussion

I really like it when people comment on my posts, especially if I can respond and get a conversation going in the comments section.  I realized that the way I had my comments settings was probably stopping some people from posting comments when they actually wanted to. In the hope of generating more discussion I have removed some of the restrictions from commenting on my blog.  You should no longer need an account to post comments and I have comment moderation turned off so that posted comments will show up immediately.  The only thing still in place is the image/word verification so that I don't get spammed from automated web-crawling programs. Feel free to let me know if you like or dislike this change.

Mini Review Monday

After experiencing a little writing burnout from the blogathon last month I think I'm ready to get back to it.  Since I didn't post much last week I thought I'd do a couple quick mini-reviews based on my recent virtual endeavors.   Trine is a Standout Among Indie Games I've Played Recently Trine A delightfully original indie game .The game involves controlling three characters that can switch in and out of the action at any time.  I love using a combination of their unique skills to overcome puzzles and challenges.  Each character plays differently but they all complement one another.  Swinging as the thief, brawling as the warrior, and manipulating objects as the wizard are all fun in their own right.  Spend a few minutes with the free demo .  You won't regret it. StarCraft 2 Beta The beta is coming to a close tonight and I'm so sad to see it go.  It's been my main fallback game and I've been sacrificing my time on the altar of StarCraf

LotRO Goes F2P

The big news today is the announcement that Lord of the Rings Online is going to be free to play.  There has already been a ton of coverage on the subject so I'm not going to rehash all the details or what other people have said.  Instead, I just want to come out and say that this is all my fault. I'm their target audience.  I've been secretly holding out for this day for a while.  I've been extremely interested in LotRO but never felt like paying the monthly subscription fee.  I knew that Turbine had huge success with DDO switching to the F2P model and I figured it was only a matter of time until LotRO did the same. So, it's all my fault.  Me and people like me at any rate.  Sorry lifetime subscribers, my bad.

StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Use Your Resources

Resources, by themselves, don't do anything .  You have to spend resources to get any kind of benefit from them.  With minerals and vespene gas you can create the buildings and units you need to win in StarCraft 2.  This seems like common knowledge, but stick with me. How often are you playing a game where you have over 300 minerals or vespene - unspent - sitting in your HUD?  Probably a lot of the time especially if you're still starting out.  If you watch professional replays they almost never have more than 300 resources sitting unused.  These are players that sometimes bring in 1500 minerals per minute but they still manage to find places to invest those resources.   Way too many resources.  Spend, spend, spend! I can't overstate how much you need to spend your resources.  Learn the places that you can dump resources quickly if you have too many.  If you ever hit 1000 minerals or 1000 gas you know that you aren't keeping up with spending.  Your overall goal s