Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Played Lately: Torchlight

  • Even with all of the new titles available (LA Noire, Duke Nukem Forever) as well as the old standbys (World of Warcraft, Champions Online), I have been spending most of my time playing Torchlight. I love the game so much that I've bought it a total of three times (one on PC, one on XBLA, and one as a gift). This last month, I dedicated what little gaming time I had to beating the game on my Xbox.

  • Where the PC version is an improved version of Diablo, the XBLA version feels more like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. And that's a good thing because (like Diablo style games) there hasn't been a good BGDA style game for years. In some ways I prefer it to the clickfest. Torchlight feels like it could have been designed for a console.

  • For my new character I decided to try something different and rolled a Vanquisher. That's a joke because I only ever play Vanquishers. I often tell myself that I want to play one of the other classes, but I always (three times now) roll a Vanquisher. I just love the shooty classes in Diablo-style games.

  • It only took a few weeks of intermittent play, but I eventually reached the lowest levels and defeated Ordrak (for a second time). My intention is to continue delving the Shadow Vault (the infinite dungeon that opens after the story is over) so that I can max my character and earn the final achievement. However work has intervened and I haven't been back to the game since. But when the sun goes down and everyone else is asleep, I can't help but think I could sneak in a little more dungeon delving.

  • Just because I'm having so much fun on the 360 does not mean that I'm skipping the PC release of Torchlight II. Nothing is coming between me and more Torchlight goodness.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 24, 2011

News Filter: The Twin Suns Set Over Tatooine

  • Thanks to Stargrace (via Twitter) for the news that Star Wars Galaxies will come down as of December 15, 2011. Over at Massively, there is a short interview with John Smedley to explain the reasons, go over some particulars, and discuss the game's long run.

  • Any day an MMO closes is a sad one for the entire community, even one as divisive as SWG. One of the conceits of MMOs is that these are virtual worlds, whether they are sandboxes or theme parks. Because of that, there is some expectation, no matter how mistaken, that these worlds will exist forever. When a game closes, we are forced to consider the finite nature of any game that we have invested in. It is not comfortable.

  • My time in SWG was exceptionally limited. I downloaded the trial one time. I think I even completed the tutorial and made it to Tatooine before I gave up on the game forever. I've never been a Star Wars fan, not even before the prequels, so the game did not especially speak to me. Nonetheless, I hate when any game that people are enjoying closes forever.

  • I had friend that I met through World of Warcraft whose preferred game was The Matrix Online. We lost track of one another over time, but my mind immediately went back to him when I heard the news that MxO as shutting down. A lot of games have closed down that I haven't been personally invested in, but the time will come. Will ArenaNet finally bring the Guild Wars to an end? Will the World of Warcraft some day stop spinning?

  • Best wishes to everyone who make SWG their virtual home. Take lots of screenshots.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

News Filter: CCP Does Cash Shops Wrong

  • The $10 horse, the $20 bag, the $25 sparkle pony. Just mentioning them bring up memories of flame wars and eternal forum threads. Vanity item stores have run amuck in MMO games. CCP has decided to blow them all away with a $60 monocle.
    Check my math on this: a 60-day time code is thirty-five dollars US. That converts to two PLEX. Each PLEX is 3,500 AUR. That give you $0.005 per AUR. With the monocle priced at 12,000 AUR, that converts to US$60, right?

  • Stuff, as they say, has hit the fan. The EVE forums are the obvious place to watch the faithful melt down. But don't overlook the comments thread on Massively for an extra helping anxiety.

  • Venerable EVE blogger Kirith Kodachi opines that CCP set the prices to prevent a run on PLEXs. Maybe, but only time will tell.

  • I'm not in a hurry to give CCP any extra money, so the prices aren't a personal affront. But were I a serious capsuleer, I would find these prices insane. As I have said in the past, I want to support the games that I play. I actually bought customer packs in Champions Online before I got the monthly stipend. With stupidly high prices like this, game companies tell me that whatever I can afford is not good enough for them because there are plenty of others who will pay anyway and they are worth more.

  • There are two schools of thought about MMO cash shops. They could follow the Wal-Mart model and price their goods so that everyone can buy them. Or they could be the Rodeo Drive boutique and sell only to those who want to display their wealth with vanity items. Almost exclusively, MMOs have followed the second option. I'm sure there are economic models that show they will get the greatest returns by doing so. But there are many who wish that these cash shops were open to more people.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Played Lately: Champions Online

  • It has been a while since I spent any time in Champions Online. Maybe just after the game went free to play. Thus, there has been a lot to catch up on.

  • I've been spending my monthly Atari Point stipend on costume bits that catch my eye. But this month, Cryptic released the new travel power, Phoenix Flight, which is perfect for my main, Arcfire. It is just a reskin of the standard Flight power, much like my prior Fire Flight. But how can you pass up giant flaming wings?

  • Once I had my powers reset, I finally checked out the most recent Adventure Pack, Resistance. This mission sees your hero traveling to Multifaria, an alternate dimension akin to DC Comics' Earth-Three. There are some neat analogues to the main Champions universe that are fun for lore nerds like myself. The mission starts off in a standard fashion, reminding me of Serpent Lantern quite a bit. But then it takes a number of twists and turns, both with the story and the gameplay that were very interesting to me. I hate to give everything away (actually, don't look at that screenshot if you want to avoid spoilers), but Cryptic makes use of temporary power swaps to change up gameplay in interesting ways. And the ending ties up some long running stories and sets up some interesting threads for future adventures. Wow, that was really vague, but only because I want you to discover it for yourself.

  • Then the next day, Cryptic released the first issue of their first Comic Series, Aftershock. Interesting enough (at least to me), this mission is a follow up to Serpent Lantern. So if you haven't played that adventure pack (and you care about continuity at all), you might want to play through Serpent Lantern first. The mission is very fast, starting with a quick investigation, followed by hunting down some bad guys.

  • The highlight of the mission is the defending a base that you just cleared from waves of VIPER soldiers. There are various turret defenses that you can startup and control directly if you want. At higher difficulty levels, that may be required, but I let them fire automatically while I flew from squad to squad, taking the baddies out. The final fight against Ripper was very straight forward and the mission finished with a cut scene setting up the next issue. It was fun, if very fast, and I'm looking forward to this coming Wednesday. See you all in Millennium City!

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.