Thursday, January 26, 2012

Watched Lately: Quick Look Road Show: SSX

  • If you haven't yet, you really should watch the Quick Look that Giant Bomb posted for the new SSX coming out at the end of February. Actually, let me help you with that.
  • I haven't been this excited about a game in years. It was actually thrilling to watching the producer fly down those mountains. From the tricks to the speed to the style, I could feel my anticipation building as the video went on.

  • When I've looked at screenshots or preview videos in the past, I was decidedly "meh" about the game. I wanted to like it, but nothing was coming together for me. That has all changed looking at the near-final product.

  • EA Canada seem to have really nailed a style with the game. It hits a tricky intersection of realism and exaggeration that is important for SSX. The interface looks clean and attractive, pulling up all kinds of data to propel you to the next event. I just hope that I can get enough friends playing that I have some challenges to go after.

  • In the meantime, I'm getting out my Xbox and playing a little SSX 3 to tide me over. See you on the snow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Played Lately: Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • This post is not meant to be ammunition in any arguments. It is not a sign or a data point. It just is.

  • I unsubscribed from Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was an easy decision. It has nothing to do with the game itself. I was enjoying my time on Ord Mantell, even though it took several sessions to even leave the planet. Having just arrived on Coruscant, I'm actually disappointed that I won't be returning.

  • I suppose that, if you were a terrible person, you could fault Bioware for not making a game that is so good that I would neglect my family and job. Hmm... I'll just leave that there.

  • Anyway, I'm out. Maybe I'll be back.

  • I really would like to get my ship back.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 23, 2012

News Filter: Guild Wars 2 Confirmed For 2012

  • With a tip of the hat to Hunter, the best source for GW2 info, Mike O'Brien, the President of ArenaNet, has announced that Guild Wars 2 is on track to release later this year. As well, the first beta test is complete and the next test are expanding in scope.

  • There could be no greater news. With the release of Guild Wars, ArenaNet showed that they are one of the few developers who could think outside of the box when it came to the problems inherant with EQ style MMOs. The industry obviously went a different way, but we were still left with an amazing game. And its sequel is sure to be as challenging as we've come to expect.

  • If nothing else, we can count on Guild Wars 2 to be thought-provoking. And discussion-provoking as well, I hope.

  • Now that I think about it, I'd better get back to my Farewell To Ascalon posts. I would be embarassing if I don't clear Pre-Searing before GW2 releases.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Random Shots: Just Now Getting Around To Raging At LotRO

  • It was inevitable. Once Lord of the Rings Online converted to free-to-play, it was only a matter of time before Turbine started selling gear in their cash shop. They say that they are filling a need for their customers due to a lack of low level gear in the auction house. Goldenstar from A Casual Stroll To Mordor tells us that there is no need to worry just yet. Heck, the worst part is that you can't Try It On to see how it looks on your character first.

  • Folks, the building is burning down around us and Turbine is trying to convince us that it's a nice way to keep our hands warm. There was a line, a line that everyone agreed was limit of what we wanted to see in a cash shop. After toeing the line pretty heavily with stat tomes and PvMP gear, Turbine has stepped boldly over and is telling us that we invited them to do so.

  • Let's examine their stated rationalization: a lack of good armor at low levels. In a free-to-play game, the obvious answer is to sell a solution. If a subscription game had the same problem, they would have to take the time to acutally fix the lower level content so that difficulty matches the available gear or they would update quest rewards and world drops to give better gear. This is exactly the nightmare scenario everyone imagines when a game goes free-to-play. Turbine has shown that they place their income above improving the gameplay experience for players.

  • Aw, forget it. There is no point in complaining because this is a lost cause. As Julian Murdock said on the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call this week, we're not just on a slippery slope, Turbine has strapped on the skis. Low level cash gear will lead to mid-level cash gear will lead to end game cash gear.

  • I'm not playing LotRO anymore, but please let me know when raid gear is available for sale. I'll make the popcorn and we can watch the drama together.

  • My apologies to Yeebo. It's hard to be a positive blogger some days.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Random Shots: If I Wanted To Play Multiplayer Games, I Would Make Some Friends

  • Earlier, Rob Zacny tweeted this Wired article by Jason Schreier. In it, Bioware heads Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk discuss how multiplayer be playing a greater role in their future singleplayer RPGs.

  • This is incredibly juvenile, but I'm going to do it anyway: LOL WUT?

  • When asked whether Bioware was moving away from singleplayer games, Muzyka responded that it depends on your definition of singleplayer.

  • Once again: WTF?

  • My definition of single-player gaming involves me not playing with any other people. At all. And that's pretty much it. If I have to deal with other people, that's not what I want from a single player game.

  • Zeschuk is quoted as saying that multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 makes the whole experience better.

  • One final time: -_-

  • No, no, no, no, no. Do not bolt your multiplayer mode onto my singleplayer game. And absolutely do not lock my singleplayer content behind your multiplayer idiocy. Sure, release your online shooter all you want. Trying to convince me that I'm the one who is wrong because I'm not eager for this new experience is downright offensive to me.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Random Shots: The Wrong People Are Making Sense

  • Here is a backhanded compliment for Keen and Syncaine: every once in a while, those two actually write something worth reading. Today was such a day. What makes this so auspicious is that they are both making an argument to which I am becoming more sympathetic.

  • Both have long bemoaned the downward spiral MMO development has followed ever since companies have started chasing the World of Warcraft audience. Both Keen and Syncaine, each in their own way, are shaking their fists at the shortsightedness of developers. Keen thinks that copycat MMOs have to launch fully featured or face comparison against their template game. Syncaine thinks that developers are spending too much time building content and not enough time providing tools for the player base to become the content.

  • When I find myself agreeing with two bloggers whom I often disagree with, and both on the same day, it is time to take notice.

  • There has to be a change. There can't be enough potential players in the world to sustain a new MMO releasing and converting to free-to-play every three to six months. Eventually even the free-to-play space will be saturated with WoW-alikes. Unless someone takes a chance and builds something different, something sustainable, MMO churn is all we will have. At least, until the whole system comes crashing down.

  • In a way, I'm hoping that Star Wars: The Old Republic burns out sooner rather than later just to hasten the eventual collapse. Until companies stop throwing so much money into copycat MMOs, there will be no room for innovation.

  • Maybe the collapse will take the genre out entirely. Maybe MMOs will go the way of the roguelike instead. If that is the future, then I will welcome it. If big companies can do it right, maybe we have to take the genre away from them and do it for ourselves.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

News Filter: WotC Wants Help Developing D&D 5th Edition

  • If you've been anywhere near a gaming site (or even The New York Times), you would know that Wizards of the Coast has announced that they have begun development on a fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Only this time, they want your help.

  • I would like to say that I have an opinion about all of this, but nothing all that strong comes to mind. I just don't have a horse in this race any more. I never even played third edition, much less fourth. I know the arguments and I understand where they are coming from, mechanically. If anything, I'm more interested in what is happening with the Old School Renaissance games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

  • If WotC came to me and asked what to do with D&D, I would suggest building the game modularly. At the core would be a stripped down game with an almost OD&D level of detail. Then you build on that foundation by adding more intricate systems, like tactical combat, for those who want an advanced game. D&D could be a game that handles all playstyles if it is presented correctly.

  • Again, I probably won't play a fifth edition. Unless maybe it is still around when my daughter gets older. But I will inevitably buy a copy, just to see how it turns out.

  • So how about you? What do you think WotC should do with the new edition?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random Shots: What I Didn't Play Yesterday

  • I was stuck at home yesterday while my car was in the shop (cracked radiator, for the curious). Having the entire day to myself, one would think that I would play a video game or two. Or three. There are so many. But I did not. Instead I worked around the house (recovering from Christmas) and watched Giant Bomb videos through YouTube on my Xbox. In honor of my complete and utter failure, here is a list of all of the game that I could have played, but didn't.

  • Saints Row: The Third - I actually finished the missions for this and need to write a post about it. But even with that done, there are all of the side activities and achievements to go after. SR3 may be the one Triple-A game that I want to complete. But that didn't happen on Monday.

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic - One would think that with an active subscription ticking down I would be more eager to play this game. Especially since I finally completed the Ord Mantell quests (Heroic zone and all) and shipped off to the fleet. But I didn't go anywhere near my computer yesterday.

  • World of Warcraft - That precluded me from playing WoW as well. I want to check out the new Darkmoon Faire and I'm in the middle of missing it for a second month running. But that wasn't enough to overcome my inertia.

  • All Zombies Must Die! - One of the videos I watched was for AZMD, a zombie apocalypse action RPG. It looked like so much fun that I almost downloaded it right then and there. But there were these other videos to watch, so....

  • NFL Blitz - Speaking of which, another video let me know that the new NFL Blitz was released on Xbox Live. I really enjoyed Blitz in the arcades back in the day, so I'd love to try this. Didn't though.

  • Mortal Kombat - And as long as we're talking about games that I want to buy but failed to, I want to see what is going on with the new MK. But even if it was available through Xbox Live, it was too much trouble to even look.

  • Trackmania 2: Canyon - I actually own this game and I like it quite a lot. It's the perfect pick-up-and-play racer. Every race is a twisting, turning sprint to the finish line. But even with such a low barrier of entry, I didn't find myself logging in.

  • Unity Of Command - Even though it is supposed to be an accessible wargame, I still need to learn how to play this game. In retrospect, it's pretty obvious why I didn't try this out.

  • So there you have it. At least I took down the tree and the lights, right?

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Watched Lately: Sherlock

  • My wife and I missed the first series of Sherlock when it was broadcast over a year, so we had to catch up with the DVD release. We devoured it in a weekend and it has quickly become one of our favorites. So when the opportunity came up to watch the first episode of the new series, we did not hesitate.

  • A Scandal In Belgravia picks up where the first series ended, with the standoff between Holmes and Moriarty. There has been some dismay with how it is resolved, but I didn't have any problem with it. It fits with Moriarty's character very well, I think.

  • But forget about the opening, the best part of this episode was the main antagonist. Lara Pulver as Irene Adler was a perfect match for Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes. She was smart, disarming, and completely enchanting. It is easy to buy that so many would fall under her sway.

  • The entire episode is so funny and so quick. You have to pay close attention because there are many twists and turns. I found myself laughing in glee at several points during the episode. However, the party scene was midway through the show was heartbreaking. Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are again perfect in their roles.

  • The return of Sherlock proves that the first series was not a fluke. This episode may be better than the ones that preceded it. And I can't wait to take in the rest. And then I want the DVD set because I want to watch A Scandal In Belgravia again.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

News Filter: X-Com Remake Coming From Firaxis

  • Twitter is all abuzz with the news this morning. Game Informer revealed the cover for its February 2012 issue featuring a remake of X-Com: UFO Defense. The new game, called XCOM: Enemy Unknown (a melding of the original and new titles), is being developed by superstar strategy developer Firaxis.

  • I am both shocked and surprised by the announcement. No one has ever been able to catch that lightning in a bottle again like that original game. Though, like Tesh, I'm eager to see how Xenonauts turns out. (He has more to say here.)

  • Oh, and if you are curious what all of the fuss is about, the original X-Com series is the daily deal on Steam. Grab it while it's cheap!

  • I'm starting to regret pulling the "X-Com" tags off of my blog. Who knew that we'd still be talking about this game in 2012?

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Played Lately: Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • It is hard for me to admit this, so please be kind. I have been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. And I like it.

  • Sure, the game plays fine and it loooks nice. But what really brought me in is the story. I rolled a Human Smuggler on the Krayt Dragon server where my brother and his Rift guild play. He looks like some hippie straight out of the '60s: too skinny, long hair, and too much facial hair. But what I've discovered over the last few days is that, while he talks about getting paid a lot, he will always do the right thing when it comes down to it. The dialogue choices feel like smoke and mirrors, with every path leading to the same place. But what I do get out of the equation is a character, which is not something I'm used to in an MMO.

  • Not that I've been playing it as an MMO. I made a comment on Twitter that if I turned off the nameplates, it would feel like a single player game. When Rowen from I Have Touched The Sky replied that he had already done so, I didn't look back. If I'm going to play it like a single player RPG, I might as well go all the way.

  • Lest I give the impression that the game is only okay, I have to say that throwing grenades is deeply satisfying. I earned the Thermal Charge skill at around level four or five, and it is my new favorite thing. I throw grenades on cooldown whenever I get the chance.

  • So as much as I tried to avoid it, Bioware sucked me in, at least for thirty days. Days when I should be wrapping up Saints Row: The Third. Nights when I should be catching up on my sleep, but instead spend my time trying to get my ship back.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

News Filter: The Firefly MMO That Was Never Coming Out Is Never Coming Out

  • By way of Bronte, we see that Massively is reporting the cancellation of the Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer MMOs and the shutdown of Multiverse, the company developing the MMO platform.

  • I know that this is supposed to be news. I even labeled it as such. But let's take a moment and really think about this for a moment.

  • Did anyone ever expect a Firefly MMO to see the light of day? I mean, an MMO that you would actually want to play?

  • Of course not. I feel bad for the employees. But let's not kid ourselves, this whole project was doomed from the start.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Random Shots: Things To Look Forward To In 2012

  • Every year I like to look forward to the games that we are expecting (or desperately hoping) to be released and make the predication required of a blogger. But as always, I'm not going to predict how well these games are going to do. Instead I'll guess my eventual reaction to the game. If you looked at my Top Five list for last year, you'll notice that only two of the six games mentioned were even on my radar. Knowing that, nothing is going to stop me from making a fool of myself again this year. On with the predictions.

  • SSX - I would like to call myself an SSX fan, but what I really am is a fan of SSX 3. I've looked at the screenshots, watched the videos, and listened to the developers. It looks good and it sounds right, but there is no way to know if it matches up until I get my hands on the game. My greedy, expectant hands.

    Prediction: SSX will announce another delay, but it will be a day one purchase no matter when it is released. I will enjoy the game quite a bit and make one trip through the campaign until I reach some event that my aging hands just can't get me past. It will a serious contender for my Top Five list anyway.

  • Diablo III & Torchlight II - Ah, the twins. There is no way to talk about one without acknowledging the other, no matter how divergent their courses may be. I'm looking forward to both games, but I fear that TL2 is destined to be eclipsed by its bigger, brighter brother.

    Prediction: Ready for the crazy? D3 will be released before TL2! Even so, I will finish Torchlight 2 first and it will end up on my Top Five next year.

  • Mass Effect 3 - I should have known that ME3 would not ship in 2011 no matter how many stars I wished upon. I'm waiting for it now, just waiting more cautiously due to the extra crap they are packing into it.

    Prediction: First day purchase of the standard edition. I will play and enjoy ME3 but I won't play any of the side games, like the multiplayer, even if some one were to ask me to. And at the back of my mind, I'll wonder if I got screwed out of enjoying the end of the trilogy because I didn't buy into their expanded vision of the game.

  • Guild Wars 2 - OH, JUST COME OUT ALREADY!

    Prediction: GW2 will be a special edition preorder and first day purchase for me. I will play as much as I can, but will have difficulty finding the time to do so, straight through the end of the year. But even then, it will be a Top Five game for me.

  • Bioshock Infinite - Although I'm not a fan of first person games and I never played Bioshock (it's sitting on my Steam account waiting for me to have any free time at all), I'm slow becoming more interested in this game. I think it has to do with all of the talk about how Elizabeth will be used, something I'd be willing to pay to witness.

    Prediction: Bioshock Infinite will be a later purchase, either on sale or used. I will play for a few levels, but eventually get frustrated with some bit of shooting that I can't get past.

  • Grand Theft Auto V - I enjoyed GTA IV a lot more than I expected to, so I have high hopes for Rockstar's next game. Especially since I was able to play all of the way through Red Dead Redemption without getting stuck on a lame mission.

    But I also discovered Saints Row: The Third in the meantime. I'm hoping that doesn't sour me on the experience.

    Prediction: I'll end up buying GTA V at a discount due to a gift card or rewards certificate. And I will play as far as the main campaign will let me, so long as I don't run into that one mission that I can't beat. But I won't play nearly as much of the side content as I did in SR3.

  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - Everyone says that Bethesda is the only company that is making that kind of game. They are right for the time being. Everything that I've read make me think that Reckoning will be a better, if narrower, version of The Elder Scrolls. And that has me fascinated.

    Prediction: When Reckoning comes out, I suspect that I'll have other games on my mind. But I will eventually pick it up once word of mouth spreads about how good the game is, despite its poor sales. And I will enjoy the parts of it I play before moving on to the next big thing.

  • XCOM - It's not quite "George Lucas raped my childhood", but I really don't get what these people are thinking. Of course, I still think that Fallout 3 was a bad game because they went the Bethesda style, so why would you trust me.

    Prediction: I won't buy this game, and it will be a poor performer, sales wise. Expect to read a lot of "I told you so" posts this year.

  • Bonus Blogger Predications!!!

  • MMO Gamer Chick - I have a feeling that MMOGC will be much too distracted to keep up her current blogging pace. But when she can write something, we'll hang on every word.

  • Blue Kae - Like MMOGC, Blue Kae will have his hands busy this year. But somewhere along the line he's also going to whip up the best batch of beer he's ever made. More blogging will naturally follow.

  • Jaye Dub - Jaye Dub will make a strong comeback this year, only this time as a hockey blogger.

  • Hunter - Hunter's Insight will come into its own this year when Guild Wars 2 releases. Assuming he doesn't explode from all of the work, it will be the blogging destination of the year.

  • Bronte - I might have counted Bronte out until his post from a few days ago. Now that he's following my lead and blogging whatever the hell he wants, I suspect that he's going to have a great year.

  • Tesh - Zomblobs! will be a surprisingly quirky and fun little experience for anyone lucky enough to play it this year.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.