Stick and move

Rift is the first game I have seen in, well, ever, that I think has an actual shot at competing with WoW for a PvE MMO place of recognition.

I mean that with all subtleties and intricacies you can think of if you look at it through the light of the current treadmill MMO genre design.

Will talk more on it later.

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00:00:30:00 and counting

I have 30 minutes left to go home.

It’s not often that I find myself chomping at the bit to get out of the office. No, wait, that’s TOTALLY a lie. I’m ALWAYS chomping at the bit to leave this God-forsaken hell-hole that passes for an office. HOWEVER – it’s not often that I’m also a total space cadet toward the end of the day, and edge my door to near fully closed, leaving but a sliver of hallway light into my room, granting me virtual complete privacy. Said privacy is even more complete thanks to the holidays and me being one of two people in my wing of the office.

I now have 27 minutes left to go home.

I’m partially jazzed to get out of here because the Rifts third beta started today, and I’m wanting to give it a try. I’ve read it this elsewhere, but as a game, this things didn’t really seem to be heavily on my radar. I was mostly disinterested with it, as at first glom it appeared to be little more than a petrified WoW rehash. Yet, I have to admit, the level of reported polish has me intrigued, and beta test numbre trois being focused on the PvP aspects of the game, well, it seemed like a good chance for me to give it a go.

I don’t have any real expectations, or knowledge even, going into this testing phase. I’ve been mostly ambivalent to this games production, so there’s no strength of motivation for me in terms of comparison. I’m hoping that makes me a relatively good candidate for testing. The cynic in me says, “Ha! Testing? Hog-wash! This is just another developers pre-release, selective hype distribution, you silly naiveté!”. The cynic in me is oddly mild with his language. And while my inner cynic may be right, others have also said that Trion Worlds has actually made considerable improvements between testing phases, and seems to be related to feedback from the events.

There are now 20 minutes on the clock till my freedom.

So, I’m left wondering, what is this development studio like? I know it has industry people from a slew of games from Lord of the Rings Online to Warhammer (including Adam Gershowitz, whom I and a large host of the SW community was less than gentle about calling out for blunders). So, with a diverse pool of talent like that, what do those different waters bring together? Also, their site claims ingenuity and innovation in the standard location that calls for commercial buzzwords, but players have said that many systems feel “just” iterative, and not ground breaking.

Iteration isn’t a bad thing though. Iteration can mean refinement, polish, and completion. Building up from an already laid foundation is easier than laying one yourself. More than just using the ideas from elsewhere, the concepts used to implement them can be seen in action and evolved from, so there is less process in making it, and more time spent making it right. That’s the heart of iteration and design. You might say design IS iteration.

Fifteen (15) minutes are all that remain, slowly ticking out the seconds till I put on my coat, and leave.

So, with a development studio that is hopefully focusing on iteration, and have the experience working on all those various systems from different projects, will the genre finally see an incredibly polished game at launch? Despite what many say now, Warhammer was a fairly well polished game upon release. Servers stayed up almost the whole time, the dreaded word “rollbacks” were never uttered since the game started, and the client itself was mostly stable at first. But even then, the game had bugs that were frustratingly huge to some players, and many look back now, and declare anathema on the game for what they perceived as unforgivable broken-ness. So will Trion be the game to break that mold? A year from now, will people look back and say – “RIFT was incredible at launch. I’m not playing it now because it just wasn’t a good fit for me”, or something similar?

The genre as a whole has needed something like that for a long time. I think that we as players have been conditioned to accept substandard products and releases from development studios for a long time. I just don’t know if that’s because we’re too demanding for release schedules, or because it’s just impossible to TRULY do all the ironing necessary with a limited test population and play hours. Having 250 people play the game for 5 hours a day, for five days 6,250 play hours. Compare that to 50,000 people playing a game for 3 hours a day, for 5 days straight (750,000 play hours). The difference is monumental, and bound to find more problems. Perhaps the testing cycle needs to be opened up for pre-release betas. I think it was Mark Jacobs that said (paraphrased), “The more time spent in beta testing the better a game will be…”, and I think it may be as simple as having gamers rampage through your world for a while and break shit left and right.

In any matter, I now have four minutes left to post this, close down my computer and get out of here. Have a good night one and all!

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

It’s the holidays so my writing will be incredibly sparse this last week of the year 2010, in large part because I’ll be drowning my sorrow over the continual lack of a flying car I was promised as a child.  That said, the gaming I am getting in has been a dash of EVE, a good helping of LoL, and a smattering of WAR. In WAR, I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend buy me a server transfer, and you can now find me playing my Shadow Warrior on Karak-Norn, under the name “Serprise Sechs”, sporting my newly-dyed Tron-colored outfit. Gorfang hasn’t been left behind entirely, I still have my Knight there, and there’s even that Blackguard gathering dust…

Lastly, this week, I have the PvP Rifts beta to look forward to, and am interested in seeing how all of that pans out. There has been oodles of chatter about this game all over the relevant gaming blogs. You can’t throw a pebble without hitting someone writing about this newest to come MMO. I know it has a lot of developers involved that have come from a LOT of development studios, and I’m interested to see what all those different gaming philosophies will produce, and if they can compete with the existing market in the polish department. I could talk about predictions on this game, and what I think in general of the game as a relative outsider till the cows come how, but I won’t. Because I am an outsider. After this week, I’ll see about giving you first-hand impressions instead of third-hand heresay.

In any event, I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and a joyous New Year to come.

Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down

All is quiet right now in the Warhammer verse. Holidays are hours from hitting us full in the face, and people are taking their ease with family and friends. Harsh criticisms from detractors come off as half-hearted attempts to maintain the status-quo, while the ever devoted fans continue to support and love the game. When you love something, like Mal says, you know what the problems are before they are apparent, and you know where it can keep going.

The scene the quote for this blog post comes from always makes me think of calm waters, and peaceful sailing after a rough patch of weather. For some reason, that is inexplicable to me, I feel that way about WAR. WAR just had their release of the first RvR pack, and after a month of people playing around in it, people are having mixed reactions to it, and there seems to have been an uptick in goodbye posts across forums. Yet, I don’t feel concerned or worried over the health of the game in the slightest. Maybe it’s because when I play, I never want for action or things to do. Despite what may be going on in the meta-gaming reality of Warhammer, the actual existence and play experience of the this MMO is improving and continues to be enjoyable. That acknowledgement is sometimes hard to keep in mind when reading through the gathering location of filed complaints (the forums).

So, I hope to be continuing to enjoy Warhammer in the months to come, in one form or another.

I do not support it

Sorry, but no.

I do not care about how much flack I catch from this, but the request is off base. In the history of WAR, only a handful of careers have actually gotten focused love patches. Guess which ones they were? If you guessed the AM/Shaman pair, you would have guessed correctly. The Shaman, as a career, is in no way shape or form, in a rough place. It’s a VERY strong career, with oodles of utility to make up for it’s slightly less potent healing. Putting any highly focused attention on the career before the many others that still need it would be a disservice the game, namely the Engineer/Magus/Swordmaster.

Props to Nob for trying to organize something to support an issue he is passionate about, but looking at the overall health of the game, shamans don’t need focused attention. This “campaign” comes off as little more than one giant QQ fest, and I won’t get started on the “give the gobbos some love” when there is no intention of including Squig Herders in the movement.

I can haz?

Your space station?

Apparently so. I logged onto EVE the other night, and my corp was chattier than usual, and being chatty about a recent heist they had pulled off. It turns out, that they were able to commandeer another corporations Control Tower. What does a corporation do when they suddenly have a load of hot goods on their hands? That’s right – sell it anonymously. Preferably back to the people you stole it from. To the tune of half a billion isk.

The corp I’m in is a very small one, with a usual 3 to 4 players doing their thing online at any given time. It’s great to see a game where small groups can still accomplish big tasks with planning and skill. It also means less people to split the profits with!

Ahh… sandbox.

In case you were wondering

Skeetk has about 1,560,000 hitpoints.

  • Yes, I was bored.
  • No, I couldn’t sleep.
  • Yes, it took a long time (hour and a half).
  • No, I did not do any of the others.
  • Yes, my obsessive need to KNOW sometimes is too much for my own good.

Follow the break for the image.

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Instill Fear v Heaven’s Fury

(Reminder to tell Rancid to see if he can work a way to link directly to abilities on his wardrobe instead of to an ability list page)

Both are close range, AoE staggers.

Both last 9 seconds.

One is a baseline Morale 3 that does 1200 damage as well, the other, a speccable ability that does a couple hundred damage at best.

What do you think of them as they relate to each other? Balanced? Appropriately placed?

Incursion Proceeding

Yesterday, players of EVE found the skill points for their learning skills completely refunded. I had pushed the date of this even happening to the back of my mind, and so when I was checking my Capsuleer app on my iPhone yesterday afternoon, I had a mini-freakout when I was reported 2 million SP short. A handful of quick breaths later, and my memory caught up to my hysteria and throttled it soundly for being so excitable. I was left with a decision after that though: where to spend my point?

Being already heavily trained in Caldari ships, and missiles in general, I’ve been putting an eye towards flying a Manticore in the future for sneaky stealth-bombing fun. However, with Incursion’s release, there was a significant increase in the performance of rockets on the whole, and the Hawk was given an overhaul in tandem to it. Well, this seemed like a good opportunity to prepare to fly both of those ships. The base skill to fly them had already been achieved, and so, I had the last two levels for their specialization skills to polish off (Covert-ops and Assault Ships respectively). Finishing the learning of each of these is a great way to maximize the bonuses of the ship without all the hassle of waiting around for them.

I’m looking to the Hawk as a potentially strong PvP solo ganking ship. Rockets can pack a heck of a punch (especially now), and while it’s not as fast as it’s Rifter counterparts, it still has some decent speed on it. All of this is purely just theory on my end so far, but the potential is there, and I’m curious to see where this particular train of focus drops me off at. In the meantime, I’m doing missions, earning isk, and trying to be active with my corporation, and learning new things every day. As much as I’ve played this game, I still feel like there are a lot of areas where I still have things to learn and that will have a significant impact on how I play or percieve the game.

Back in the Saddle

"Bringing sexy back." "Where did it go?"

I’m a bit rusty here, with having been too busy to give any attention to my writing of late, so I’m just going to jump right into the saddle and take this thing for a ride. All climax and no foreplay style.

I left my guild this last week.

The final straw on the back of the camel was a disagreement before a 6v6 they had set up, and then how they requested I spec to complement. The situation just exemplified the entire outlook they had started to take on how to approach the game, and combat. Where their playstyle was taking them one way, mine was another way. The gaming philosophy is one that I disagree with, and won’t participate in. It’s one that can work, and I hope it will for them, but I don’t think it’s the best, nor do I find it enjoyable. I don’t hold any animosity or anything towards them, but I highly doubt any reconciliation or a return to their ranks until they change how they play.

I’ve been playing less and less of late, thanks in large part to my finals, but also thanks to a smattering of EVE, and also out of just a general lack of desire to do ANY MMO gaming. MMOs in general are starting to dull on me. However, the recent solo-ishness of my gameplay has brought me to some really fun and entertaining scenarios, and has reminded a bit more of self-reliance in-game play, but also, brought some of the silly, ridiculous FUN back to the game for me.

Over the weekend I had one of the top five most humorous instances in my WAR career. I was playing as a melee spec for shits and giggles, and at one point entered a Blood of the Black Cairn scenario, that had four marauders. As I was running around doing my hit and run, bob and weave, in and out multi-range attack style of the SW, I noticed the marauders were REALLY starting to give me some love. At one point, I had three purple tentacle beams all converging on my back as I exited the fray (oh why didn’t I PrintScreen!?). Then I saw “Disrupt” then another “Disrupt” and a smile started to grow on my face, but it stopped short, as my character then went flying through the air in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go.

Can’t win them all.