August 19, 2011

tWildstar More Interesting Than Star Wars: The Old Republic, both still have boring videos

Wildstar was announced at Gamescom this week.  Today an eight minute gameplay video was released and IT WAS BORING.  But don't let me make that decision for you, watch the video below.



I was brought this video by this post on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (RPS).  The first comment fits directly in with my thoughts and even though Wildstar's footage was boring, it was not nearly as boring as the SW:ToR footage we saw from Gamescom.


RF says: 08/19/2011 at 17:20

Looks like a pretty traditional MMO with some next gen elements.
Like dodging.
And making bear men explode.

Yeah, I think I’ll be getting this. This game is what SW:TOR wants to be but is not.


To back up my thoughts, the one and only RPS regular, Jim Rossignol, chimed in the same idea.


Jim Rossignol says: 08/19/2011 at 17:28

I am more interested in this than SW:TOR.


Screenshot for context/posterity.





July 22, 2010

Guild Wars 2 Will Fail Test



There are plenty of examples that sequels do not work in the MMO market.  Ultima Online 2 was the original victim of what I like to call the terrible 2s.  Asheron's Call 2 shutdown on December 30, 2005 while the original Asheron's Call still thrives to this day.  AC2 never matched the original and in my opinion was actually a pretty good game.  The list continues with Everquest 2 which never matched the original Everquest and was thoroughly trumped by the monster that is World of Warcraft.

Everquest 2, out of all the 2s, should have been a right to print money.  Everquest was the undisupted champion of the early graphical MMOGs and Everquest 2 was the expected front runner of the "next generation".  How terribly wrong that general consensus was.  World of Warcraft taught everyone that the Everquest "idea" was wrong and that Everquest never was "right".

This all sets a stage where upon the new 2 in the neighberhood, Guild Wars 2 (GW2), is set to fail.

If being a 2 wasn't bad enough for GW2, it is also "a high fantasy world with multiple races" (like my new tagline?).  GW2 will have to compete with the Everquest 2 slaying World of Warcraft and it's record-breaking expansions.  Star Wars: The Old Republic will also be major competition for GW2 as they are the top two upcoming AAA titles in the MMO market.  Not to mention the plethora of free 2 play offerings that are quickly eating into the AAA marketplace. 

There are other concerns as well.  GW2 is doing away with the holy trinity by removing the dedicated healer from group play, softening the blow of death by allowing second chances after a characters health is depleted, and moving towards a more action inspired combat system.  All of these may be equally positive things, but they are all "different" enough to cause concern in a genre that is averse to change.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to doom and gloom all of the upcoming MMOGs.  Specific to Guild Wars 2, come back tomorrow for the reasons why Guild Wars 2 will succeed.  Honestly, Guild Wars 2 is looking to be the only AAA competition coming any time soon.

June 12, 2010

Steam Sale Success for The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

The game of the year edition of The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion went on sale this weekend via Steam for $8.50.  It's a steal of a deal and I couldn't resist picking up a copy for myself.  

There is always a question of how successful these fire sales on Steam are.  To provide some anecdotal evidence to their success, I present the previous 7-days of game-play tracking via Raptr for Oblivion.

As can be seen, there is a pretty good spike following the start of the sale this weekend.

While hours played are not easily equated to sales, and factoring in the sales price, it is tough to determine what revenue this generates for the game developer.  However, a cursory glance tells us there are plenty of players playing the game and that has to warm the heart of any developer!

June 11, 2010

May 2010: What I'm Playing/What I'm Paying

And we're caught back up. May 2010, the month I lived out of a hotel, but still only managed to put in 15 hours of gaming.

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




Game of the Month

TorchlightTorchlight
Cost: $9.99
Played: 14 hrs
3-words: Hack, slash, win!







Torchlight is a shining example of how to make a game.  Developed on budget, by a small and dedicated team, it delivers everything one would want in a Diablo-clone.  There are monsters, loot, and random dungeons galore. 

I spent 14 hours hacking away at the game.  I came to close to beating it while seated in my hotel room, but the end boss did not fall until I returned home in June.  Even with the end boss downed, there is so much more to accomplish.  There is a never ending dungeon in the game, so a character can level forever (I assume).  Or if it fancies a player, they can retire a veteran character and start a powered-up new character with the retired's equipment.

The combat is smooth and clean.  The various classes and abilities are simple to use and graphically brilliant.  The monsters can get repetitive, but when players are killing hundreds of them per level, its an acceptable mark against the game. 

I highly recommend Torchlight and it can often be found on sale for anywhere between $4.99 and $9.99.

/Played


Civilization 4

I originally planned to put some time into a new Civ4 game during May, but Torchlight quickly won out.  I'm not sure, but I think I may have burned myself out on Civ4 after only ~30 hours.

/Paid

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

I made no gaming purchases in May.

April 2010: What I Played/What I Paid

As promised over a month ago, I am finally catching up on my What I'm Playing/What I'm Paying post (subbing d's for ing's, past tense and all that).

April, as a month in gaming for Heartless_, was as exciting as watching the Detroit Lions play a random High School football team. 

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




Game of the Month

BioShockCost: $13.39 (Steam Holiday Sale)
Played: 2 hours
3-words: Better price = $13.37








Don't let the total playtime fool you.  I liked Bioshock, but between a bugged out Big Daddy and failed game save backup forcing me to restart twice, I just didn't make any progress.  By the time I turned around, April was over and I was scheduled to be out of town most of May.  My poor laptop just couldn't manage Bioshock reliably enough to provide a good play experience.  I've shelved the game for completion and commentary at a later date.

Upcoming Game of the Month  for May: Torchlight (because it runs like a dream on my laptop!)

/Played

Allods Online

I stuck in an hour playtime with my Melee Healer in Allods Online in April.  I still enjoy the game and wish I could dedicate more time to it.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

I continued my enjoyment of BFBC2 in April playing a few games.


/Paid

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

I made no gaming purchases during April.

June 8, 2010

Duels of the Planeswalkers to release on PC via Steam June 15th

Just a quick note.  Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers appears to be hitting Steam on June 15th according to this tweet from Elaine Chase



It can be pre-ordered here.

June 2, 2010

SOE + Star Wars + MMO = Star Wars in Free Realms?

After the NGE debacle, no one could have imagined that SOE would be allowed to create another Star Wars MMOG. We were wrong; we were very, very wrong. SOE has announced a new game, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, coming fall 2010.

However, SOE seems to have learned a lesson with the success of Free Realms: casual and micro-transaction supported games can work. Visit their website or watch the video below and it is immediately noticeable that the game is not aimed at the hardcore or even core MMO gamers.

It will be interesting to see how this is received and whether the MMO blog'o'sphere will start writing the obituary for SOE's core franchises like Everquest.



P.S. Unlike many others, I liked the Clone Wars animated movie.

May 30, 2010

Thank You Posts On Developer Boards Are Rare and to be Commended

While sifting through dozens of complaints and suggestion threads at the official forums for Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers I came across a rare find on any game developers forums: a thank you post. Not only was the poster saying thanks, but also providing valuable feedback. For this, I commend the poster. Below is a sample of what was posted:
First of all, thank you for making M:TG Duels of the Planeswalkers. This game really brought back the joy of M:TG for me and my friends.

What we love about it:
  • (Xbox specific) The friend chatter while playing the game (even being 1800 miles apart)
  • Being able to play again, without investing a lot of money and time rebuilding digital collections
  • Ease of logging in, picking a deck and getting playing
  • The smoothness of the game; in my opinion overall it runs very well
  • The decks being relatively balanced against each other
  • Every player, for the most part, has access to the exact same pool of cards

May 29, 2010

5 Years of Blogging

Five wonderful and insightful years ago I started this blog.  I had planned a larger post talking about the "future", but like this five year milestone time has gone by faster than I could ever had imagined.  Five years ago I was single and without a care in the world outside of whether my Internet connection worked at home.  Today, I'm married, a father, a belated college graduate, and newly promoted at a company I would never have imagined working for.  Change, as they say, comes whether we wish it or not.

Yet, one thing has remained constant over the past five years: this blog and my gaming.  In retrospect there are a lot of things  I would have done differently, but looking back there isn't a single thing I would want changed. 

Without rambling any further (the kid has gotta be put to bed at some point), I present to you a repost of my first post.



The date: 29 May, 2005. The time: 20:24 or 8:24 PM EST for those of you in the civilian world.

This blog has officially started. It has been a process of thought pulling at my mind for a while. I play these games we call MMORPGs, but I don't even know if "play" is the correct word to describe it anymore. I live and breath these games. They are more than an escape from my mediocre life. Fun is no longer the driving factor. Social interaction with like minded nerds and geeks; people whom live through their in game characters as though it was version 2.0 of themselves.

I don't want to hear these gamers speak in foreign Orcish or Elvish tongues. I want them to speak English and call me newb, l33t, or dude. I want role playing that is a real person, embodying a real in-game character. I don't want to know how much you can pretend. I want to see who, what, and how you can do things in game with the class, race, or skills you have chosen in our game of choice.

Ah, the game of choice! Room for debate among the flooded market of MMORPGs and the denizens that inhabit them. From baseless flame fests on the far reaches of the most bizarre gaming message boards; to developer's beloved Customer Feedback Forms. Well known to players that have ever hit cancel on a B-rate MMORPG subscription.

That is what brings us here. The game of choice, or should I say games of choice! After all, it is entirely possible to enjoy the splendor of more than a single MMO at a time. While you risk the chance of losing that significant other, the admiration of your pet, and standing in your real life social circle, you obtain the chance to be the darling of your online world of choice.

Whether its a heroic conquest, a diabolic scheme, or simply a comical battle cry; overnight stardom is possible!

So friends, let us journey down this road. Unafraid of the naysayers! Fearful of the sun that will burn our skin! And most of all, damn proud of what we choose to do with our free time. We are the many, the proud, the MMO gamer!

May 26, 2010

Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers coming to PC via Steam

From Tobold's blog:
... Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers will be released via Steam to the PC. While DOTP is in a way a "Magic light" game, I am nevertheless highly interested in this.
Like Tobold, I am a long time MtG fan and former hardcore player. However, the days where I have the time to build and maintain competitive decks are gone. What I've needed to spark my interest in MtG again is a more casual approach that is PC based.  That is exactly what DotP delivers. I plan on giving it a try in June.

May 18, 2010

Frozen Synapse is Fucking Brilliant

Since my son was born I've tried to cut back on my cussing.  Generally, I reserve using the F bomb in post titles for only momentous occasions (like Spore's DRM debacle).  Today however, I will gladly drop it in praise of Frozen Synapse, a game you need to see to understand.



Frozen Synapse fell into my email box as part of their "buy 1, get 1 free for a friend" campaign.  I had originally became interested in the game in part because of this Rock, Paper, Shotgun post.  Now that I've had some time with the game I have only one thing to say: this game is bloody brilliant. 

The basic premise is that players take turns moving soldiers around a battlefield. The catch is that its simultaneous turn-based: both players make their moves and then let the actions play out at the same time. This allows the game to be played over long periods of time or quickly in succession. Player A can make their move and submit it to the server whether Player B is online or not. Player B is free to return and make their move whenever they are free.

Once both players set their action (known as the planning stage) the outcome is played out. Various game modes determine the win conditions. Some are to destroy the enemy; while other modes focus on rescuing hostages or defending/attacking zones on the map.

As can be seen in the video above, the game is simplistic in it's graphical approach. This allows it to run on almost any set of hardware. My aging laptop that can barely play Torchlight in netbook mode can steam right through a match of Synapse.

My only gripe currently is the poor performance of the central server. However, that is due to over-popularity of the beta. Sometime this week a new server should be in place to help the issue.

This game is brilliant and I recommend it to anyone interested in the video. Oh, and just search Youtube for gameplay videos as beta testers can instantly upload games after they've been completed from the in-game menu. Pretty snazzy stuff.

May 15, 2010

Lifehacker has impeccable timing

Lifehacker is one of my favorite websites.  Not because of the great writers, but because of their timing.  Everytime I need something, Lifehacker finds out and posts something useful.  I swear they are spying on me.  First it was a detailed Thunderbird tweak guide, then Dropbox hacks, both published within days of my installs of both.  The list goes on.

The newest example is a post today about GameSave Manager, a tool that backs up saved game files for over 400+ games. It was not a month ago that I gave up playing Bioshock after losing my save files during a reformat of Windows 7.  This was after already restarting the game one time because of poor planning.  Oh, and I was making backups the old fashioned way, but the one day the backup failed is the day I decided to reformat!

Also, recently I lost several hours of progress in my save game for Mass Effect.  After that incident, I implemented my backup scheme for saved games by syncing the folders to Dropbox.  That way I have saved files on all the computers I connect to Dropbox with.  It works wonders for Civilization 4 games since I am usually manually saving them. 

However, it is annoying to have to add other games by hand to my backup scheme.  Even more so when it takes five minutes on Bing to find out where the actual saved game is stored in Windows 7.  GameSave Manager takes care of all the prep work and then makes it easy to restore from the backups it makes.


Lifehacker, again, saves the day.  <3