Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Played Lately: Warhammer Online

  • Syncaine over at Hardcore Casual had a great post up about Public Quests in Warhammer Online. For those of you who are allergic to hyperlinks (there's drugs for that, you know), Mr. Impact PVP tells us that Public Quests should be viewed as the evolution of group quests and as such they are quite a success.
  • As much as I hate to admit it, Syncaine has brought me around on this. I was getting ready to whine and carry on about how PQs didn't live up to my outrageously high expectation. I might also have offered some half-baked suggestions to fix them by dynamically scaling the encounters based on local populations. But that would have all been missing the point. I never did group quests in WoW. I'm an avid solo player so group quests were an annoyance to me. In WAR, I love public quests and I go out of my way to participate when I can and I have a lot of fun. They're the same thing, but WAR has changed the way I play the game. That is 100% better than before so I'm going to stop complaining.
  • In other news, Mythic has decided to make me look like a fool by hiding their patches from me by calling them Hot Fixes. I burn with a rage that only Khaine can fathom. Also, a deep, deep shame.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Played Lately: Warhammer Online

  • As they've done for their prior game, the folks over at Mythic have put up their first grab bag for Warhammer Online. As well we have our first patch notes for the live game. I have a few notes of my own, but since Mythic won't let me on their web servers, I'm posting them here.
  • The grab bag is half "Duh!" and half kind of interesting, though I'm loathe to admit it. The questions about Master versus Game Accounts are the kinds of things that belong in a technical FAQ buried somewhere in a text file, not the opening questions in the very first Q&A. The question about how guild ranks improve is at least a little more enlightening, pointing out that inactive characters don't actually hurt anything. I guess the inquisitor (Doesn't that sound like an Empire class?) thought this might be a Brad McQuaid style hardcore game instead of something fun. We also get a little more info about the rested experience system. Essentially it is WoW Plus +1, like a lot of this game. Building a better mousetrap... err... MMO isn't a bad thing if you like that sort of thing.
  • The last half is a Q&A within the Q&A about the capital cities and how city ranks work. Evidently, you can increase your capital's rank via questing (something I've already experienced) and controlling the top tier RvR zones (which I'm not even close to.) I also discovered that sieging the opponent's city will reduce their rank. That is a very cool mechanic and definitely encourages you to attempt a defense of your capital to avoid big losses like that. It also assures that newcomers and perpetual leveling slowpokes (like, ahem, myself) will get to see the cities in many states from slum-ridden to potentially awesome.
  • The patch notes are certainly an odd collection of fixes. I am of three minds about it. Either 1) Warhammer is in such great shape that there was very little that needed to be patched, 2) Mythic decided to knock out the easiest fixes first and is leaving the doozies for a later date, or, 3) Mythic writes really bad patch notes. In this crazy, mixed up world we live in, I wouldn't be surprised if it is a combination of all three, but only someone as smart as Jeff Goldblum could perceive it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Played Lately: Warhammer Online

  • Just like most of the MMO blog community, I have jumped into the bright, shining city on the hill that is Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. I was hesitant at first, avoiding most of hype. But I could not help but follow when many bloggers gave their impressions of the beta test and how much everyone (almost) seemed to enjoy it. With so much discussion about how great the game was, it was hard not to get caught up in the fervor.
  • I made the decision to try the game at about the very last minute. I bought the preorder box and ran home to start downloading the beta client, both from Fileplanet and via BitTorrent, hoping that I could get into the head start. With my luck being what it is, the Fileplanet download was half filled with junk files. However the other half was good enough to drop into the torrent folder where I concentrated my effort on just those remaining parts. It took over three days to get the client down and installed, so I only had one evening to play before the official launch. But that one evening was enough to hook me.
  • To date, I have rolled a Witch Elf and a Witch Hunter based on how cool the characters looked. This was my plan since I first read about the game. (I know I said I tried to avoid the hype, but it just gets under your skin!) What I didn't know is that these classes are actually one of the mirrors pairs between the Order and Destruction sides. They play just differently enough to make them unique. Also the questing experience is really different, storywise, for each. But they are similar enough that I won't be able to keep from rolling one or two alts, probably an Archmage and a Sorceress.
  • I've spent a lot of time on each character questing as I'm a carebear at heart, even in an explicitly PvP game. I'm especially curious about the epic quest lines available early in each zone. Both my characters are moving into the Tier 2 content and it looks as though those quests have no end in sight. It's been interesting seeing at least one MMO quest that's more than just a simple "Kill ten rats and you're done" story.
  • I've also been spending plenty of time in the public quests and RvR scenarios, though I'll be talking about those more later. For now though, I've been enjoying my time in WAR a lot more than I anticipated. With the impending release of Wrath of the Lich King, I will have some hard choices to make about where to spend my time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Played Lately: Rock Band & Rock Band 2

  • Although I haven't written about it at all, I have become absolutely smitten with Rock Band and, now, Rock Band 2. For the longest time I looked at the smallish plastic guitars with a combination of disdain and a little bit of fear. Disdain that I would lower myself to playing with such a silly toy and fear that I might suck if I did try. After lowering myself and also sucking, I find that it is a lot of fun.
  • Playing Rock Band is a lot like playing Whack-a-Mole with two hands, one to aim the mallet and the other to whack. What elevates the game is how elaboratly the developers disguised this simple premise. Primarily, you could not play so silly a game without the music. Well, you could but the whole thing would be sadly mechanical and not much fun. But with the music added in, it is a huge reward for timely button pushing. You feel pretty bad missing a note in one of your favorite songs. Then with all the rock star presentation and a great selection of songs, it's easy to get lost in the experience.
  • The best part of all this is that it makes you an active participant to the music. This is not to kid myself that strumming a plastic guitar instead of a real one makes me a musician. However, I have found a greater appreciation for the individual parts that make up a song. It's really a different experience to turn music from something you put on in the background while you're blogging or, I don't know, grinding MOBs, into something you have to pay close attention to. How can that be a bad thing for music?
  • And speaking of the music, the first game has a nearly impeccable collection of favorite tracks. There are a few clunkers, but there are several more that I hadn't heard before and rather enjoy. The fact that you can use all those songs and the downloaded songs in Rock Band 2, even in the tour mode, made me grin when I discovered it. I'm not deep into the second game yet so I don't know if the selection gets any better, but the ratio of good-to-bad songs isn't as high so far.
  • Oh and if someone from Harmonix happens to run across this blog, can you please add an option to either rate songs or tag songs as favorite? I would love to sort my songs based on how much I like them. Having to scroll though a really long list to get to Dani California can get old.