Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Five: Best Things About Civilization V

  • Ah, Civilization V. I haven't enjoyed any of the previously games as much as I have this version. There is just so much great stuff to enjoy. So here's my Top Five list of my favorite things in the game. Like all of my Top Five posts, this is not objective. It's just meant to highlight things that I enjoy about the game.

  • The Advisors - Civ V comes with a two hundred thirty-two page manual. You don't really need it. If you've ever played a Civ game before, the advisors in the game will give you enough information to walk you through your first moments of the game. (This is not to say you should forget the manual entirely. Once you're familiar with the game, its a great way to dig into the rules.)

    At this point, I'm comfortable enough that I'm ready to turn off the tutorial popups. But the advisors do so much more. You can consult your advisors at any point, scrolling through their advice on various aspects of your empire. It's an excellent way to make sense of what you should be doing in the game if you're not sure. When then the Military Advisor tells you that your army is too small, you should believe him. Trust me.

    But even if you ignore all of that, the best thing the advisors do is point out what would be your optimum choices for construction and technology. I may end up going my own way, but I'll always look at what the advisors suggest before making my decision. It's a subtle, but effective way to nudge an unsure player in the right direction.

  • Tactical Combat - The combat in Civ V is everything that I hoped it would be. You can't just smash huge stacks of units against one another and hope that you roll better than they do. Now you have to pay attention to what type of units you're fighting, positioning your army well, and take advantage of opportunities to press the attack and recover. And most of all, it rewards you for playing patiently. More than once I've charged ahead only to find a unit cut off and destroyed. I have so much fun fighting that I'm always tempted to try for a domination victory.

  • City-States and Resources - I know that resources were in the earlier game, but they have been a revelation in this one. Between having to scramble for resources and deciding whether to support or destroy various city-states, the game is much more than straight-up conquer-the-world simulator. If anything, they have gone a long way toward emphasising political consideration in the game.

  • The User Interface - I adore the interface for this game. It can be very easy to be overwhelmed in other games, but Civ V hits the mark for me perfectly. Just looking at the screen gives you a broad overview of your empire. But just underneath everything, you can find heaps of information if you need. I spend a crazy amount of time reviewing the tooltips to see exactly how my happiness and other resources are being gained and spent.

    Of all things, I'm especially impressed with how the Next Turn button is used. In other games, that button is minimized so that you don't accidently hit it when you shouldn't. In Civ V, they not only make it huge, but they use it to remind you of what you need to before continuing. Between that and all the alerts that scroll down the right side of the screen, I know everything that I should be aware of during my turn.

  • Natural Wonders - Were these in earlier games? I don't know but I love them. Civ has always focused on the wonders of human endevour. Adding wonders from the natural world has made exploration that much more rewarding. I hold that a future expansion adds a few options because I think this is one of the neatest little features in the game.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Unexplored Worlds: Village of Valkenburn Rumors Table

  • If the players ask people about local news, roll 1d6 for to generate a random rumor. Add 0 to the roll if the person is a criminal, beggar, or person of low social standing. Add 4 if the rumor comes from a tradesperson or person of similar social standing. Add 8 if the rumor comes from a person of noble blood.

    1. Old Mad Whitters claims that there are huge rats living in tunnels under the city and that some of them walk on two legs and wield weapons. No one believes his story, however.

    2. Everyone knows that the baron keeps a small fortune in gems hidden in his home. No one has successfully robbed the estate because it is guarded by armed men and trained dogs.

    3. A local man who recently died was found without a copper bit in his house. Rumor has it that he always feared being robbed so he buried all is wealth in the woods outside of town.

    4. The abbot of the nearby monastery has been contacting poor parents to offer to school their children. He has even offered to pay some parents who would lose income from their children.

    5. The local schoolmistress, Etha Greenwood, has been complaining about children have not been coming around for classes, both poor and rich. If she does not get enough student, she will have to move on to another village.

    6. People in town have been whispering about fairies capering in the woods outside of town. All of Valkenburn once belonged to a fey nobleman who was driven off by iron-wielding men. People fear that the fairies may be back to reclaim their homes.

    7. A traveling fortune teller disturbed several hornet's nests in town. She told one man that he would be dead before the season was out. One woman was told that her current suitor was about to propose, but it would not be to her. Her fortunes where so dire that no one else dared to consult her and she had to move on rather quickly.

    8. The nearby monastery has been ordering an unusual amount of goods in preparation for a big celebration. Since there are no local holidays upcoming, no one is sure what they intend to celebrate.

    9. A retired swordsman has taken up residence at the local inn. He won't talk about where he has fought or what he has done, but his experience is written in the lines on his face.

    10. Ever since the new tutor came to town, the noble families have been removing their children from Etha Greenwood's school in favor of his services.

    11. Two noble families, the Consevlys and Ompions, are close to bloodshed over a secret exposed by a passing fortune-teller. While the families are keeping the secret to themselves, everyone assumes in has to do with the Consevlys' eldest son, Michel, and that his true father is Bleaux Ompion.

    12. Several well-to-do families have received invitations to a party at the nearby monastery, each written and signed by the abbot himself. He promises a celebration unlike an witness in modern history.

    13. The baron has been discretely making inquired to various families for help with a problem that is magical in nature. Since wizards are few and far between, no one has been able to help him. But if the party has any knowledge of the arcane arts, they may find that the baron is very eager for any assistance.

    14. The new tutor in town, Master Allan Svergin, previously taught children of the royal family before the wanderlust took him. He is taking on students to help pay for his travels.

  • The veracity of these rumors are left to the discretion of the referee.

  • Unexplored Worlds is my attempt to design an RPG campaign in the open. Since I have not rolled a d20 in anger in many years, this is my way to keep playing without actually playing. All posts are written to be system-agnostic, so please use whatever keeps your interest in your own games. Just let me know how it goes!

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Played Lately: Sid Meier's Civilization V

  • I took the night off from Civilization V for two reasons. First, I wanted to write a blog post about how much I enjoyed my first game for all you kind people while I could remember the good stuff. Second, I knew if I started a new game, I would be up until 3 AM again. I can still pull that off on a weekday, but it's getting harder as I get older.

  • That was Wednesday. On Thursday, I jumped back in for another round. Instead of the default settings I chose to play on a medium sized map with eight civilizations and on the Warlord difficulty. I figured that moving from very easy to easy would still be okay. The random civ selection handed me the Ottomans. They have a couple of nice midgame units as well as the ability to randomly convert barbarian naval units, but I wasn't planning my game around their abilities. Instead my goal was to see if I could win the game through a cultural victory.

  • My starting area seemed excellently defensible. My southern border was entirely coastal except for a long peninsula where the city-state of Warsaw was located. With only the northern frontier open, I figured that I could hunker down with a small empire and work toward generating as much culture as possible. As least, that's how I started.

  • Just about the time that I discovered iron, the other civs started to knock off various city-states. I wasn't generating enough money to make any allies like I had in my first game, so I had no stake in their wars. But then I remembered that liberating a city-state converts it to a permanent ally. And since many of the city-states generate culture, I somehow convinced myself that I should build a small army to free potential allies.

  • That's how I ended up in wars against the Russians, the Romans, and the French, the three largest military powers in the game. I was able to free two different cities through superior tactics. The AI doesn't always know when to retreat and recover. But they do know when to press the attack. Eventually my units were overcome and my allies fell. My saving grace was that I was campaigning on a different continents, so none of my opponents felt the need to sail over and kick my butt.

  • When my aspirations of military adventure crushed, I went back to advancing my culture as well as possible. My only problem was that I didn't do anything else. I was just waiting, building up my cities, tinkering with great artists, ignoring the rest of the game. When I saw the armies of my northern neighbor amass on my border, I knew that I made a tragic mistake.

  • I switched all of my cities over to producing armies, but it was too late and my empire was not capable of pushing out much production that fast. My northern most city was destroyed almost immediately. My western city, the one I built to capitalize on the recently discovered oil fields, fell just as fast. Then all attention fell on my capital. The Songhai began their siege and it looked grim. But finally, I produced two units of Infanty, the armies that won my first game for me. I struck back and destroyed a number of the opposing units, but it was not meant to be. My meager counterattack failed and the capital fell. I was left with a single city.

  • But what a city it is. Located at the northern end of that peninsula, there is only a single hex that leads to its walls. In order to get around it, the Songhai had to embark in transport ships and sail down the coast. However the guns of my city were powerful enough to sink the entire unit while it was in the water. The waters along those coasts were littered with the wreckage of destroyed vessels and drowned men. I held out just long enough to build another infantry unit and, amazingly enough, a Great General arrived. With their army in tatters, the Songhai fled from the battlefield and I took back my much depleted capital.

  • And then it was three in the morning. I stopped there, but I did save and I will be going back to the game. I'm not sure I will eek out a victory now, but I'm not going down without a fight. Here are a few lesson I learned while my cities where burning.

    1. Focus - The combat is seductive in this game. But if you're not going for a military victory, seeking out fights is a waste of time. I got distracted by the other victory conditions and did not focus on building my culture as I set out to do originally. And even worse, I squandered my cultural upgrades to bolster my interactions with the city-states, something I ended up having to abandon entirely. All those points are wasted now because I did not stick to my plan.

    2. Defend Yourself - Just because you're not going to conquer the world doesn't mean you can just ignore your armies. The other civilizations aren't going to let an easy target sit unplucked if you leave yourself exposed. I should have at least garrisoned my cities so that I wouldn't be frantically scrambling to build a army.

    3. Don't Give Up - Once I saw the armies on my border, I just knew it was all over for me. Another day, I might have turned the game off assuming that I would never survive the onslaught. But I didn't give up. I wanted to see it through and I'm glad I did. Otherwise I would never have seen the heroic defense of my last city or see my opponent driven from the battlefield. I may be crushed within a few turns when I load my save, but it will have been worth it.

  • Learn from my mistakes so that you can make all new ones of your own. It's still a fun game and I'm looking forward to seeing if the Ottomans can recover their former glory.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Played Lately: Sid Meier's Civilization V

  • It was not a sure thing that I was going to buy Sid Meier's Civilization V. It looked beautiful and the articles were interesting, but I have a love/hate relationship with the series. Mostly hate. I first played Civ back with the very first iteration. I was fascinated by the sprawl of history at your fingertips. But I was also frustrated by what felt like odd design choices. It never felt to me like the game was quite matching up with history. Or maybe that it couldn't. I tried Civ II and III, fell in love with Colonization for some reason, and even played Civilization IV. A couple times. It never clicked. They never compared to those wonderfully creative titles by SimTex, Master of Orion and Master of Magic.

  • But after reading about the new features of the game (especially how lead designer Jon Shafer was borrowing from Panzer General when updating the combat) I know I would have to try it out. Just 24 hours before the game launched, I prepurchased and preloaded it, ready to try it all over again. I'm happy I did.

  • Just before it was time to leave for work, I decided to launch the game, just to see how it looked on my computer. I started with the default options, ending up with Montezuma of the Aztec, and built my first city. When I next looked at the clock, it was fifteen minutes after when I should have left for work and I had to race to avoid being late.

  • Since it was my first game, I didn't have any idea what strategy I should follow. Instead of figuring that out, I did a little of everything. That meant building a few military units and any building that looked good to me. For a long while, it felt like I was just going along with the game without any purpose. But then the Japanese settled a new city just to the west of my empire. I couldn't have that so I immediately went to war and began my siege of the newly settled city of Osaka.

  • A centuries long siege, as it turned out at that time scale, because evidently this was exactly what Oda Nobunaga was waiting for. His own military units marched in to defend before I could take the city and decimated my forces. To save face, I had to strike back. But the stalemate went on for several turns because, for one reason of another, I could not bring enough force to bear on the city to take it. Eventually though, it fell to my Aztec warriors and joined my empire.

  • I had enough of war for a while, so I started to explore the rest of the continent. Then when my scientists developed iron working, I discovered that there was a major deposit of iron on the far side of the Japanese. In order to secure those resources, I raced my remaining army around his borders along the southern coast and established a settlement right on his back door.

  • At about this time, the Americans were becoming pretty belligerent so I mobilized my armies again and started besieging their cities. They put up a good fight, but I couldn't let them recover and hound my people. I wiped them out and then, for good measure, finished the job on the Japanese.

  • At this point I had the continent all to myself, except for a few city-states. I knew there were three other civilizations out in the world, so I started exploring the rest of the world. On the other continent I discovered the Indians, the Iroquois, and the Ottomans. Instead of trying to destroy these new empires, I tried making treaties with them. Of the three, only Gandhi turned me down (if you can believe), so I knew he would be the next to go. I spent many turns roaming the continent, meeting with various city-states, and paying them heavily to secure alliances. Then the most amazing thing happened.

  • When I declared war on the Indians, the other empires and all of my city-state allies declared along side me. A huge general war broke out on the continent. I only had a few units in the mix, but it was chaos all around. It was the most amazing thing to see the entire world rise up and fight my war for me. In the middle of all the fighting, I developed the technology necessary to upgrade my riflemen into a modern infantry. At that point, I knew the game was mine. After finishing off the Indians, I made a pair of decapitating strikes against the two remaining capitals. As my civilization was the only one holding its historical capital, I won by dominating the world.

  • And then it was three in the morning and I had to get to bed. While the game can feel a little dry, I think this is the exact Civilization that I have been waiting for. The combat is amazing. I would never tried to do something like this in one of the earlier games. Fighting always seemed like a waste of time before. Here, it's a necessary part of your national strategy. Civ IV was the pinnacle of Sid Meier's original design, but it's it was so fiddly and dense that I could not get my head around it. By moving the series is a new direction, they have built an amazing new game that feels like the original without slavishly copying it. I'm looking forward to playing again soon. Hopefully on the weekend when I don't have to be up in time for work the next day.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Played Lately: League of Legends

  • Although I've never been a huge fan of competitive online game (mostly because I hate being killed and ridiculed repeatedly), I occasionally drop into an online game just because I like the underlying game enough that it overcomes the lack of a single player option. One of thost games is League of Legends. When I wrote about it earlier this year, I had just started playing the game. A lot has changed about the game in the meantime, but a lot is exactly as I wrote about it before. Both of those contradictary statements are very good things.

  • Since my last LoL post, Riot Games added a second game map, the 3v3 Twisted Treeline. I love its dark forest look as well as how quickly the game evolves. With only two lanes that approach at the middle, there is a lot of opportunity of individual glory as well as surprise full team ganking. Evidently Riot is releasing a third map, the Magma Chamber for 5v5 matches, that goes the other direction by preventing a lot of crossover between the lanes.

  • One other nice addition since the last post is a wide number of new heroes and additional skins that have become available. Even my Janna finally got some attention. Of course, I haven't bought it yet since I've been spending all my time with a new hero, Miss Fortune. Shooting people with paired flintlock pistols is a lot of fun, even if I die too often. But I'm still learning, still winning as many games as I lose, and still having enjoying myself.

  • I'm never going to be that great of a player. I'm having fun and that's all I'm looking for. But when I saw these videos of the WCG North American Championship games, I was thoroughly impressed. It's almost like they are playing an entire different game. It reminds me of watching the Guild Wars championship matches. It's thrilling to watch people play at such a high level, even if I don't aspire to those heights. The world championship is going on in Los Angeles on October 2. If I didn't have other obligations, I would be there in a heartbeat to cheer them on.

  • Amusingly enough, Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an article up about LoL. If you're interested in a good overview of the game, you should take a look. And if you want to have a little PvP fun, maybe you should try it yourself.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

News Filter: APB Implodes

  • By way of Kill Ten Rats, the new comes that APB has finally met its destiny.

  • I don't have a lot to say about the game. I tried it out on my current toaster and found it wanting. Evidently there was fun to be had, but only a few people managed to find it.

  • The game is running for free until they turn off the servers. So if you want one last chance to see it, or if you're just morbidly curious, now is the time to check it out.

  • I wonder if they deployed the 1.4.2 Patch before they shut down.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

News Filter: Cameron Sorden Returns To Blogging

  • This news may be of limited utility for most people, but I was pretty surprised and happy to discover it. Cameron Sorden, previously known for his Random Battle blog (now defunct) and his Player Vs. Everything series on Massively, has returned to the blogging community. His new blog, Digital Life, started just a few days ago, but has already found a place on my blog reader.

  • If you've missed his writing as much as I have, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Thanks to Karen from the Shut Up We're Talking podcast for telling us the good news.

  • Now we just need Michael Zenke to return to the fold and all would be right with the world.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Played Lately: Recettear

  • After reading Tipa's write up about Recettear, I knew I would have to play this game. As soon as it became available, I ran over to Steam and immediately preordered it. Sounded way to awesome not to support. I've only played through the first day of the game (League of Legends monopolized my weekend), so I haven't seen to much of the game.

  • But if I had any doubts about the game, this image wiped them all out:

  • It was a good thing I wasn't drinking anything or I would have spit it all over my monitor. Any game that is cheeky enough to reference the intro to Dragon Quest III is a winner in my book.

  • That's all I have to same about the game for now. I'm looking forward to playing more. For more info from people you have played the game for more than a few minutes, head over to West Karana and MMOQuests.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Played Lately: Champions Online

  • Here are the five costumes I've made in Champions Online for my character, Arcfire. She's is actually based on a character I played in the Champions role-playing game back in high school. Although I've been carrying the concept around with me for long time, I did not want to remake the costume I envisioned back then. It was (to be charitable) very '80s.

    Enough with the history. Gaze now upon the horrors I wrought from Cryptic's character creator.

  • Original - When I rolled up my first character in the open beta, this was the costume I designed. I wanted something that said "Fire!" while maintaining a superheroic look. While I wasn't happy with may of the chest choices, I decided to go with the full tights with an appropriate design. I'm pretty happy with the look and I'm only tweaked it a little in the year since I made it.

  • Dark - Every superhero goes through a dark phase. Spider-Man went through the black costume thing. Batman never came out of his phase. Arcfire needed a new look as well. This is the same costume, but with all the yellow stripped out and replaced with black. It's not very original, but I think it works. Currently I only wear this when traveling to Vibora Bay. Something about that city make me want to blend into the darkness.

  • Underwater - When I finally arrived in Lemuria, I knew I had to replace my costume. There was no way a micro-miniskirt was going to work under the ocean. Again, this is based on the original costume, but with matching tights for her legs, and without the cape. One of my favorite things about Lemuria is that, by setting it underwater, you have to opportunity to customize your look to fit the environment. Arcfire doesn't wear a breathing apparatus because her magical origin allows her to breath underwater just fine.

  • Warrior - For this costume, I was inspired by some of the battle armor designs that Wonder Woman has worn over the years. I like the idea that a hero would have a special costume for taking on the biggest challenges. I haven't actually used this in game. I'm saving it for the endgame lairs, if I ever take the time to do some.

  • The New Look - Even with the micro-mini, I felt that Arcfire's costume was a little bit vanilla. So when the new options became available in the Summer Update, I knew I had to update my look. I made two changes to the costume. First, I swapped out her tights for something a little more daring. And I also went for a shorter cape. I'm not sure why, but the long cape didn't look right with the new look. Like most of the rest of the costumes, I kept the gloves and boots because I'm just so happy with them.

  • And there you have it. I never thought I'd need that many costumes, but I can't help myself. Have fun and play safe, everyone.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Unexplored Worlds: Room 1J - No Encounter

  • This is a thirty foot by thirty foot room with polished stone walls, ceiling and floor. The room can be entered from the east and west through ten foot openings in the center of their respective walls. While the eastern entrance is built directly into the hall beyond, the western entrance is nothing by a large hole broken or blasted through wall. The damage is so ancient that there is no way to determine whether the hole was created from inside the room or from the outside.

  • In years past, this room was used as a store room by an eccentric innkeeper whose basement lead to the staircase in room 1L. He primarily stored additional cooking and maintenance goods as well as items that he filched from his guests. The inn is long since gone, but the remnants of his stored goods still litter the room.

  • Strewn about the floor a splinters of wood and shards of pottery. With a little effort, the players should surmise that fragments come from wooden boxes, barrels, and clay jars that were smashed open so that someone could get into their contents. Nothing remains of to indicate what the items might have been.

  • In the northeast corner of the room, a family of small rats has made a nest under the debris. If the players spend an extended period searching the room or if the nest is disturbed specifically, the rats will become agitated and loudly flee from the room.

  • At the center of the room, all of the debris in a two foot circle has been cleared away. In the middle of the cleared space sits a jawless, human skull. The skull itself is quite ordinary. The players will detect no traps and no magic upon it. Underneath the skull, the players will find four silver coins.

  • As the room sits at the only junction between the western and eastern sections of the level, any traffic between the two sections must pass through here. There is a ten percent greater chance of random encounters occurring if the players linger in the room. If a random encounter occurs, there is a 50/50 chance of the encounter being drawn from either side of the level.

  • Unexplored Worlds is my attempt to design an RPG campaign in the open. Since I have not rolled a d20 in anger in many years, this is my way to keep playing without actually playing. All posts are written to be system-agnostic, so please use whatever keeps your interest in your own games. Just let me know how it goes!

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Top Five: More Things To Do Before The Cataclysm

  • NOTE: This is a follow up to a prior post, Top Five: Things To Do Before The Cataclysm. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already.

  • Complete the Test of Faith quest series - This quest is only available to Horde characters, so you Alliance faithful know what you have to do. This quest chain involves a long trip through Azerothian lore, including a trip to the library in Scarlet Monastery. Blizzard may find other ways to teach new players about the Dragon Aspects and the Scourge. But they won't be able to replicate the very first memorable quest in the chain: a leap of faith into Thousand Needles. With the impending flood, the same jump wouldn't be quite as harrowing.

  • Complete the Battle for the Undercity quest - For some reason, Blizzard thinks they have to reset the state of the entire world when Cataclysm hits instead of letting history pass as players quest through the game. The most unfortunate side effect of this decision is the removal of the Battle for the Undercity. The immediate followup to the disastrous assault on the Wrathgate, players have the opportunity to assist Thrall and Sylvanas Windrunner or Varian Wynne and Jaine Proudmore as they attempt to purge the Undercity of Grand Apothecary Putress' and Varimathras' terrorist forces. But since the lore would be contradictory to the new status quo, Blizzard is pulling one of the iconic quests from WotLK out of the game.

  • Raid Zul'Gurub - One of the more fascinating casualties of the Cataclysm will be the conversion of Zul'Gurub from a 20-player raid into a level 30 to 35 questing zone. I can't claim that ZG was unique. See if this sounds familiar: trolls lust for power, start calling upon various evil beings, go crazy, begin sacrificing folks. You're right, that's every troll zone in the game. But ZG has a great charm, looks good, and has a boss that you can fish up from a river with Mudskunk lures. That spells fun in my tome.

  • View the intro movies for each race - Currently when you start new character, the game plays a flyby of your starter zone to introduce you to the story of your chosen race. However when Cataclysm rolls out, Blizzard is replacing the flyovers to reflect the new state of the world. If you want to witness the originals as they were meant to be watched, you might spend time rolling up temporary characters to see the original movies before they disappear into the bowels of YouTube forever.

  • Try out the opposite faction - While you are watching those intro movies, you might consider trying out a character on the opposite faction. If you have only ever played from one side or the other, this will be the last chance to see how the other side from level one before it all changes. To push it too hard because things will probably be changing for the better soon. But it will be too bad if you take the time to tour the lowbie lands now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Played Lately: Everquest II Extended

  • I'm having trouble starting this blog post, so I'm doing things a little different. I want to tell everyone about Everquest 2 Extended, because I am enjoying the game. However I just don't feel like thinking all much. So, here's a brain dump of everything going on.

  • Five things I like about EQ2X

    1. New Halas is very good. At various points, I tried the newbie isles (can't remember the real name), Kelethin, and Gorowyn. I stuck with Gorowyn for a couple characters because it was the most polished, but New Halas is great. I'm enjoying the story and the quest flow. I'm not sure why multiple levels of quests are bundled together, but I haven't seen any difficulty problems, even with the different levels listed. (Um, have I really tried to play this game that many times? Wow.) I also think it's cool that there is a back door into New Halas if you want to skip all the questing zones. Bravo, SOE.

    2. I finally found the right class. After trying a something (from the Isle of the Trial, way too long ago), a swashbuckler, a warden, and a wizard, I decided to try out the inquisitor this time. Holy moly, that is class good. Nice ranged spells, excellent melee options (even is the right melee weapon for my stats is a staff), plate armor, and the occasional heal all add up to a class that does just about everything. I'm sure it helps that I finally figured out Heroic Opportunities. That only took several years, but it has helped the fights go faster.

    3. For some reason, SOE fixes the AA slider to divert fifty percent of all combat and quest experience to alternate advancement experience. Green Armadillo already has a post up about this and offers much greater analysis than I'm going to. But I will say that I actually like the idea. I was hoping to play with the slider myself, but 50/50 feels right to me. I am rather lost where to use all of them (I'm up to 32 AAs after the double experience weekend) but I've enjoyed trying things out.

    4. This is stupid, but I really like the armor available in the New Halas starting zone. Much better than just about anything else I've seen in the game. Will it look strange if I'm wearing that as appearance armor all the way to level 80?

    5. The double experience weekend was a real winner for me. I ended up at level 22 Inquistor, 21 Armorer, and 32 AAs. And there is still one quest hub between me and New Halas. I can't believe I did enough crafting to specialize. Crazy.

  • Three things I don't like about EQ2X

    1. I feel like a serious leech on my guild. There are enough things in the game that I want that require guild membership, so I have to be in a guild. But at the same time, I don't really know anyone in the guild, I'm seriously introverted, and I'm going to solo my way through the game anyway. The guild was up to level 16 before I started seeing status items drop, so I haven't been able to contribute at all. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute to the guild eventually, but it all feels like an extra line on my nameplate right now.

    2. The membership nags are getting a little old. It's easy to skip past them, but really, folks. I'm not paying $15 a month for a sub-par subscription just to make them go away.

    3. I'm still not sold on the payment model. SOE got ten dollars out of me because the silver membership seemed fine with me. But unless something really interesting arrives on the Station Cash store, they won't get another cent from me.

  • That's it. Go forth and game!

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Played Lately: Champions Online

  • Last week was the one year anniversary for Champions Online. Cryptic celebrated by throwing a party right in the middle of the newly redesigned Renaissance Center. It all started with a huge cake.

  • That's Arcfire in the foreground modeling her new costume. This is a lot closer to what I was hoping for when I first started playing a year ago. Huh. Even with that big damn cake in the background, it's a little hard to believe the game has been out a full year. There was a perk for blowing out the candle on top of the cake, as well as one for collecting anniversary gifts and one for throwing anniversary water balloons at other heroes. Hooray for silly fun achievements.

  • I love the new costume options. I didn't buy anything from the C-Store during the anniversay sale, but that doesn't mean I won't buy anything in the future. The option to model C-Store costumes in the tailor is a genius move. I'd me more likely to buy a set when I see how it fits on my character.

  • All around Ren Center, the floating billboards were changed to anniversary messages. I flew around to take screenshots of them all, as if I didn't want to forget them. But for your sake, I will only subject you to one.

  • On Monday, the last day of the celebration, Doctor Destroyer robot army invaded Millennium City again, recalling the prelaunch party from last year. The enemy forces were much larger this time around, but then everyone had a much great handle on how to play their characters. Funny thing, I helped fight off the waves of enemies long after I had earned all of the available perks. I was having so much fun playing with all of the heroes around me. I didn't chat with anyone and I didn't group up, but there was something cool about a bunch of people all working toward a goal, even if there wasn't an epic drop at the end.

  • Of course, that's all over now. If you feel left out, why don't you hop in-game and see the sights for yourself? Have fun wherever your adventures take you.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Random Shots: In The Throes Of Self-Reflection

  • It has been a while since I last blogged. It's been an inhospitable week for gaming, but I forge on ahead anyway. This will be another random status update of a post. So if that bores you, hit "Mark As Read" and move on.

  • My primary gaming habit continues to be Dragon Quest IX. I have changed classes on one of my characters so many times that she has over a hundred levels spread over five classes. I just can't stop exploring and looking for new ways to improve my team. I did finally figure out how to connect the game to my WiFi, so I have been enjoying all the additional item unlocks. But between hunting mini-medals, gathering additional alchemy items, and diving into the treasure maps, I've almost stopped pushing forward on the main story line. In a funny way, I'm as distracted by all the extras as I normally am in an MMO. And I still love it!

  • I loaned my brother my copy of Dead Rising a few years ago, so I never finished the game. It was a lot of fun, but kind of hard. That may be the reason I wasn't paying any attention to Dead Rising 2. But after watching Giant Bomb's Quick Look of Case Zero, I'm really interested in trying it out. Five dollars seems just fine for this prologue game.

  • Speaking of videos, playMassive has a three part video of the Guild Wars 2 presentation with footage captured directly from the game. Since the video essentially recreates the press briefing from Gamescom, you get to see everything the attendees did from the comfort of your desk chair. Assuming you have a comfortable chair. You spend so much time in it, you don't want to be cheap, do you? Anyway, the video is pure awesome and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on GW2.

  • I guess I should say something about Duke Nukem Forever actually coming out. I'll go with "It's about damn time." I haven't been waiting for this game for as long as I waited for a Champions computer game, but I have been waiting. Duke Nukem 3D was my favorite of the old school shooters. And it was the only game where I actually tried out the level editor. Not that I have the patience to finish anything, but I did like it a lot. And I looking forward to what this very, very old new game holds.

  • I'm kind of curious about all the reviews I've been seeing about Metroid: Other M. I recently watched the Giant Bomb Quick Look about the game and came away quite interested. I even briefly considered stuffing fiscal responsibility down the garbage disposal and buying a Wii just so I could try it. But even with Brad Shoemaker explaining how much he was enjoying the new Metroid, you could hear Jeff Gerstmann's disapproval about the direction the game took. A lot of reviews sound like Jeff, which makes me wonder. There has been a lot of talk on recent podcasts (like Shut Up We're Talking) about expectations and how they can get in the way of people enjoying new games. I wonder if reviewers are carrying too much of what they think a Metroid game should be that they can't look at this game the game way a new player might.

  • So, Elemental: War Of Magic came out. Some people wrote bad things about it. Some people jumped to the defense of the publisher, Stardock. Then Stardock admits that they screwed up. Funny, that.

  • Xbox Live is raising the price of its Gold subscription by ten dollars a year. I've had a Gold account for seven years now, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've played online. I just don't like it. But I might have let me subscription run if they hadn't announced the price increase. I guess I should thank Microsoft for getting me off my ass so that I can cancel the damn thing.

  • Before I go, I really need to point out these two videos (the trailer and preview) of Bastion, a game I hadn't heard of until a couple days ago. The art style looks unique. But the thing that grabbed me was the super-cool dynamic narration. I don't know who that guy is, but I'd play the game just to listen to him narrate my adventures. Crazy awesome stuff.

  • Finally while I'm throwing every damn thing in the world into this post, you really should go read "A Parents Guide to MMO Gaming" on West Karana. I'm not sure where that came from, but Tipa knocked that one out of the park.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.