Thursday, March 31, 2011

News Filter: I Hear You Wanted A Demo For Rift

  • When I wrote my Played Lately post about Rift last week, there were a few comments from potential players waiting for a demo. A perfectly reasonable response, I believe. You don't want to invest the time and money in a game that you may not enjoy.

  • It seems like someone at Trion has been listening. This morning I received and email with the following message:
    RIFT is holding a special Allies of the Ascended event. As my chosen ally, you can use this code to join me during the dates below, free of charge! Heed my call, and together we shall battle the Blood Storm!

    Event Dates
    10am PDT April 1, 2011 through 10am PDT April 4, 2011

    Ally Code

    Visit for instructions on how to apply your Ally Code.

  • If you're curious about Rift but don't want to gamble on the box, now is the time. And with their first World Event going on, this is a great time to try it out.

  • If anyone also received a code that they want to share (each code is good for five people), go ahead and list it in the comments so that we can get them out into the world. And if you try a code and it goes dead, let me know so I can cross it out.

  • See you in Telara.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Random Shots: I Don't Understand Why People Do This

  • I did not get enough sleep last night, so I want to blame this on how tired I am. But I know that I wasn't the only one to see this, so I did not dream it.

  • I went out to lunch today. I overslept so I didn't have time to pack anything. Thankfully the building where I work shares a parking lot with several restauants. I didn't know where I would end up (I usually wait until I see which place has the shortest line) but everything is in the same direction anyway.

  • As I exited the building, I saw some guy going the same direction about fifty feet ahead. Usually I don't pay attention to anyone else since I'm usually listening to a podcast and keeping to myself. But this guy was jumping up and down. Constantly. The entire time we were walking, he was leaping around like a crazy man. Sometimes he would leap from side to side, sometimes backward. But mostly he had just decided he was going to jump all the way to lunch.

  • We both ended up at the same place (Chipotle). Since he was still ahead of me, he was in line first. But the entire time he was in line, he kept jumping in place. When it came his turn to order, instead of walking around the low wall that everyone else was waiting behind, this guy decides that he wants to leap it. So he's there jumping at the wall over and over again. Only, he can't make it so he's moving back and forth along this wall, jumping at it from different angles, as if he can find the one low point that will allow him to clear it instead of walking around like a sane person.

  • Everyone in the restaurant stared at him like he was crazy. I suspect that was the point of the exercise. This guy desperately wanted attention, no matter how stupid he looked. The unsettling thing is that, by the time I got my order and left, two other guys thought this was a good idea and joined in. So now there are three people jumping around this Chipotle, getting in everyone's way and drawing attention to themselves.

  • Is there something I'm missing here? Can someone explain to me what I missing about jumping everywhere?

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Played Lately: Rift

  • I am in no condition to string several words together at the moment. So instead, I will take full advantage of the bullet point format while discussing Rift, a game most of you are already playing but get to read about anyway. There will be no order to these bullets, I'm just firing them off as I think of them. Which is why I'm starting with...

  • The artifact system in this game is driving me mad. Absolutely bonkers. Everywhere I go, I am constantly swinging the camera around me looking for shinies on the ground. I'm glad they implimented this feature from EQ2 because it is a lot of fun. But I there are so many collections and I have completed so few of them that I'm going crazy. I've even started doing regular sweeps of Silverwood just to find those shinies. I have a standing trade agreement with my brother, which helps a lot, but so far I've only completed three collections, one of which is the tutorial you find in Sanctum. That seems a little extreme to me.

  • My brother who is also playing Rift (for the curious, he bought and start the game at launch, not during the headstart, so they are out there) ran by me one day in Sanctum to show off his new armor. There was a mix of gleefulness and incredulity in his voice when he asked me to take a look. Sure enough, his high elf warrior was dressed like a stripper. I can't begin to fathom why Trion would go this route. Too many adoloescent boys in the art department, I guess. Yeah, it's no Tera, but it was still jarring. And really, I am all for sexy in my games, but we don't have to resort to metal bikinis. Try a little harder, Trion.

  • So far, the rifts and various events have lived up to the hype. Especially in Silverwood where there are plenty of people around. I'm not sure what will happen in the midlevel zones, but it is always easy to get a group or raid and take on the invaders whenever something comes up. There are a couple events that I never saw actually finished, but that may have been just the time of day I was playing.

  • Everyone is complaining about the quests for some reason. Like Chris from Game By Night, I suspect that people are just sick of quests. Actually, the quests are just fine. They are certainly on the par with WoW's pre-Cataclysm questing. So Trion did not write bad quests, as seems to be the accepted wisdom. It's just that they did not innovate on a system that would have been perfectly acceptable a year or two ago. So lay off the hyperbole, folks.

  • The soul system is not as big a hit for me as it is for others because I am not big on experimentation. I'm having enough trouble figuring out how a single soul works (Elementalist, in this case), much less finding the right soul synergies, much less trying out different roles entirely. I did buy a second soul so that I could have a healing build, but I've barely figured out how Chloromancer healing even works. If I hadn't searched the Rift forums, I wouldn't have down that you're supposed to heal through attack spells. I guess I need to wait for Rift's equivalent of Elitist Jerks to come out so that I know what I'm doing.

  • I think my favorite thing in the game so far is the crafting. Everything I've crafted has felt useful, even if it's to break them down fuel my runecrafting. And since my brother has been feeding me all the cloth and runebreakable gear he can find, I spent several an evening standing in Sanctum, holding a baby in one hand while crafting with the other. Of course, now I'm crafting level 40 gear and I'm only level 23, but it is awesome that the game lets you get away with that. Plus, the baby loves to send new runes to her uncle.

  • I think, best of all, Rift has become that game my cursor naturally gravitates toward when I sit down at my computer. I don't have to find excuses to log in. Instead, I have to remind myself why I sat down in the first place to keep from logging out of habit. That is the sign that the game has me hooked.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Watched Lately: Fringe

  • Back when Fringe first started, my wife and I decided to try it. A J.J. Abrams take on The X-Files-style weirdness sounded like a good time. Unfortunately, we gave up after four or five episodes because the show failed to hook us. Of course, within a couple weeks we started hearing about how the show had suddenly become really good, but we couldn't go back. We had already missed too much. So after we burned through the most recent season of Supernatural, my wife picked up the first two seasons of Fringe on DVD so that we could see what we missed. We have not been disappointed.

  • Fringe is a classic slow burn. The show juggles so many concepts and plots that it needs time to lay the proper groundwork. The problem is that, no matter how much it is necessary, you end up hiding the best part of your show until everyone is ready for it. A few hours of set up would be fine in a book where that is a hundred pages or in a video game where that is the first couple of levels. For a television show, you are talking about several weeks before you get to the good stuff! That is why the show lost us until we could sit down with a full DVD season set and enjoy it as God intended.

  • (While I'm on the subject, I now believe that all episodic content is an abomination. Television, like comic books, are best enjoyed as a collection. I put up with them in small doses because I have no other choice.)

  • It helps to have the right frame of mind when watching a show like this. If you know what the creators are trying to accomplish, you will have a great chance to connect with the work. Despite all of the detective procedural trappings, Fringe is a mad scientist story like out of the old pulps. Actually, the show wears that distinction out in the open, but it is still nice to see such an old genre find its way back into today's fiction.

  • While all of the high minded plot stuff is the centerpiece of the show, it is great that the small details work as well. John Noble as the mad scientist, Walter Bishop, does an amazing job at portraying all of the conflicting emotions that Walter goes through. From imperious superiority to jovial glee to sad bewilderment, his complexity is a shining part of the show. As well, Joshua Jackson is great as his charmingly roguish son, Peter. If Star Wars were being cast today, he would be on my short list to reprise Harrison Ford's role.

  • After finishing the first season, we took a short break but are already on to the second. Once it got going, Fringe has been well worth the build up. As long as you can get over that initial bump, you won't want to stop either.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Read Lately: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

  • When my wife first suggested that I read The Hunger Games trilogy, I misunderstood her reason for doing so. I assumed that she thought I would enjoy the series, and I did to an extent. What I did not understand was that her true purpose for getting me to read it was so that I could validate her interpretation of the end of the trilogy. The fact that she patiently waited throughout the months it took me to finish the books is a testament to her saintliness.

  • The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where humanity has nearly been obliterated from the face of the earth. The nation of Panem is the last bastion of civilization, divided into twelve districts and controlled by the Capitol. While life in the districts is quite miserable, the Capitol is a lush, highly technological stronghold. The series draws its name from the gladitorial games run by the Capitol as punishment for the failed rebellion by the districts 75 years previously. Now two teens from each district are sent to the Hunger Games each year to fight to the death.

  • The world itself is fascinating as are many of the characters. The issue I have with the book is the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. Following her through the series is much like watching a feral cat. It actually makes her the least interesting character in the series.

  • I don't regret reading the books. I was genuinely hooked by the plot and I wanted to see what happened next. And Collins' writing was fluid and easily readible. But its flaws are substantial enough to sour the experience.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.