Friday, August 31, 2012

News Filter: City Of Heroes To Close

  • Via Polygon, word comes that NCSoft's City Of Heroes, the first superhero MMO, is targeted for closure.

  • In some ways, it is not surprising. COH was old school in the vein of Everquest. It has modernized much over time. But at its core, it is a game that reacted to the earlier generation of MMOs, unable to take clues from World of Warcraft. That's going to be plus is some people's minds, but it undoubtably limits the scope of people who would be interested in the game.

  • Of course, I speak from a perspective of someone who hasn't played the game in several years. I was never able to fit into the game when I did try. Then once Champions Online was released, there was no reason for me to ever go back.

  • It's sad to see any game close, especially one with such a towering heritage in the MMO genre. I hope there is a hacker out there perfecting their private server so that we don't loose the game to oblivion.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Random Shots: Still Talking About Guild Wars 2

  • I played for all of a half hour last night, so I'm making this a Random Shots instead of a Played Lately post. But it's still going to be all about Guild Wars 2. Things aren't that different around here.
  • When I woke up yesterday, I saw that Rowan wants to quit blogging. He shouldn't, and most likely won't, but I can't blame him for feeling that way. There is nothing like a new MMO to bring out the worst in the blogging community. It's Haters versus Fanboys in the streets since GW2 came out. If you haven't already, though most of you have looking at the comments, go show the guy some love.

  • I was in game long enough to make my way to Claypool. Once there, I engaged in a shield training exercise to complete the town's heart. And I did a little more cooking. I'm thinking of buying one of every common ingredient just to have more discovery options. That's going to get expensive, though. I can't say I wasn't warned.
  • Tobold makes a great point about the technical problems with the game. They seem to only be affecting people who actually like to play with other people. Solo players like myself have been largely unaffected. I feel kind of guilty about that. My antisocial tendencies are being rewarded. Knowing ANet, it won't last forever.

  • I just changed my password to a crazy long phrase. Something I can remember, but at least it is unique and should give the dictionary hackers fits. Be safe out there.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Played Lately: Guild Wars 2

  • I did not have much time to play, but I couldn't help but explore more of Queensdale last night. As I neared an incomplete heart, I saw an icon that I didn't recognize. It turned out to be Assistant Chef Victor looking for skale eggs. As soon as I talked to him, an event began and people started to gather. It was it was amusing to me how fast other players were drawn to a new event. And when we finished, he sold me a recipe for Eggs Beetletun. A food recipe with bonus to Magic Find? I've never seen such a thing in an MMO. Amazing.

  • One thing that I appreciate about the game so far, as I did with Guild Wars, is that the game respects your time. This is not a unique thought; it came up on the Gamers With Jobs podcast as well. I love that crafting recipes multiple times accelerates the completion rate. I love that I can teleport just about everywhere. I love that I can access my bank right from the crafting station.

  • Just a quick hit today. Have a great time in game.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Played Lately: Guild Wars 2

  • After I got done writing my last post about Guild Wars 2, I remembered all of the things that I forgot to mention. Since that post was already too long, here is everything I missed:

  • Launch issues - Just about every game has them. Ardwulf gave a personal view of how it affected him. I did not have any issues outside of an instance change disconnection until I ran into an extended loading screen last night. I count myself extremely fortunate considering what some people have been through.

  • Overflow servers - I've also run into constant overflow servers. Every time I change zones, I get a popup telling me I'm in overflow. Then a couple minutes later they tell me the regular zone is ready. It is completely silly. But since I've only been playing solo, it's not as infuriating as to those who are playing with friends. Also, can someone tell me why the overflow server is always more crowded than the main server?

  • Personal story - I've been enjoying the personal story line quite a bit. I just hit a quest a couple levels above me, so I have to go out and level again. It's funny just how much it feels like a Guild Wars story. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised since it's still ANet, but I was.

  • Vanity guild - Just as in the first game, I made a new guild as soon as I could. So The Brotherhood Of Stone is currently a one person guild on Fort Aspenwood. It is entirely a vanity guild made to support me, myself, and I. However, if you want to wear the [tBoS] tag, just let me know. I'm Anjin.5086.

  • Naming conventions - Considering how many things carry over from the old game, I'm surprised that the convention of taking a first name and a surname did not continue. I couldn't give it up because that is part of the Guild Wars experience for me. But it is alien to me to see so many people falling back into the bog standard MMO mononym. Embrace your creativity!

  • That Reddit thread - Speaking of naming conventions, I'm super glad to seen that ANet is taking their enforcement responsibilities seriously and stepping on any bit of naming or chat idiocy that gets reports. So if you see something out of line, report it! The other thing this thread highlighted is the amount of account theft already in progress. I turned off chat as soon as I started the game, so I can't tell you if gold spam is a problem. Even with heavy policing, ArenaNet has to look into two factor authentication as soon as possible.

  • I have not played very much since that first night. I've been working on the personal story since a lot of it is centered on Divinity Reach at the moment. However I'm itching to get back into the world and adventure again. I love being overwhelmed with so much to do!

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Played Lately: Guild Wars 2

  • For some reason, everything leading up to Guild Wars 2 gave me the impression that I would not enjoy the game. Even playing in the beta test left me cold. I don't know if it was the level of hype or personal issues, but I was not looking forward to the game launching, except that maybe people would finally shut up about it. Oh, how wrong was I?
  • While I've read any number of blog posts for people trying to decide with races and classes to play. For me, it was no choice at all. As in Guild Wars, I would be playing a human ranger. I knew my first character would be a descendant of my GW character. And I really have wanted to see what happened to the humans after I saved the world several times, even killing a god in the process. Evidently, that kind of thing doesn't last for long. One day I'll probably try a sylvari or norn, but I'll stick with humanity for now.
  • My short time playing the beta did not prepare me for exactly how much fun it would be exploring this world. Since I'm unconstrained by the quest chain, I feel to say "I'd like to see what is over here" and just take off. And that's an entirely valid way to play! I found myself in an underground complex in the middle of Queensdale for which I was a little underleveled. But there was an event going on that I could take on and there were harvesting nodes to clean out. There was no reason for me to be there, but there was every reason to look around. I'm rather stunned how great it feels to be unshackled from the WoW model.

  • It was great seeing crowds of people everywhere. And it was even better that I enjoyed having them around. Since I am an inveterate soloer, I usually hate having people around killing my mobs and clicking my items. But since whatever they are doing can only help me during events and there is plenty to do while filling hearts (Is there an official term for that? Filling hearts sounds so dumb.), I've never been angry to have other people around me. Of course, it would stupid to base my opinion on the crowds in the newbie zone during these early days. Hopefully the dynamic side of the events work just as well when the population thins out.
  • For all the time I spent adventuring, I spent equally as much time exploring Divinity's Reach. That city is amazing. It seems like everything that WAR's cities wanted to be, but couldn't pull off. I loved wandering throughout that vast urban area and taking in the sights. There is so much to see. And there is so much potential to fill out the city. I spent a few hours just running around and looking at stuff. And, of course, seeking out all of the vista spots. What a great concept! I just about wore out my Print Screen key this weekend. I'm sure that I'm not the only one posting that exact screenshot today.
  • Two other things to touch on. I love having a seperate set of town clothes to wear when I'm not adventuring. Please comment if I'm wrong, but it sounds like additional outfits will primarily be available in the gem shop. If so, good job, ANet. You can take my money now. Also, I picked cooking as my first crafting profession despite the warns of how expensive it can be. I played around with the discovery for a while before I remembered that I had more items available in my collections. Then I discovered grilled mushrooms and hamburgers. There are hamburgers in Guild Wars 2, folks. I don't think I've ever been happier with a crafting system in my life. (Aside: I am never going to look up recipes on the wiki [should it ever work again]. I had way too much fun playing with the discovery system.)

  • So that's where I am now. My play time was limited due to real like circumstances. But you can bet that I will be in Guild Wars 2 for a long time to come. I could not be happier to be so wrong about a game.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Random Shots: Why Copernicus?

  • Vagabond is one of my favorite new voices to come out of the NBI (Go check him out.) So when he recently asked the question "Why should I care about Copernicus?" I had to take notice. I'm not aware of anyone else who writes about the game with any frequency, I figure I should actually answer.

  • You probably shouldn't. There is no game coming at the end of this hype cycle. Vagabond points out that with new games coming out (like City of Steam), there is no reason to follow a game that won't ever exist. And he is right. But I'm not in this for entirely rational reasons.

  • I've identified three reasons why I continue to blog about Copernicus:

    • Archeology - Because the game is destined to never come out, I enjoy digging up whatever data I can. Like an archeologist piecing together the shards of a shattered urn, I am gathering the pieces of a shattered game. What I end up with will only be a pale reflection of the original, but I enjoy learning as much as I can.

    • Contrariness - There is another part of me that is holding onto it out of dogged stubborness. This subject fascinates me and I'll be damned if I'm not going to write about just because I happen to be the only one who cares. I blogged about Champions Online long after is was no longer fashionable to do so. As was said many times during NBI, I am blogging for myself. If just one other person is interested in the subject, if somewhere down the line they can use this blog as a resource to find out about the game, that would be cool. But mostly I'm leaving these notes because I want to record it for myself.

    • Mourning - Finally, there is a part of me that is profoundly sad that the game imploded so spectacularly. People poured their energy, their dreams, and their lives into the project and there is nothing to show for it. I'm not sad because I won't be able to play the game, I'm sad because they won't get to see their game played. So these posts become an extended vigil for an idea that died.
  • There you go. I promise to always include the name Copernicus in any posts about the game. So feel free to skip them when they come across your RSS reader. Or maybe, if you are curious, peek inside because maybe I'll have found something pretty cool.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

News Filter: New Copernicus Fly-Through Videos

  • By way of Patrick Klepek of Giant Bomb, Youtube user "stduquette" has uploaded three video fly-throughs from Project Copernicus. I can't embed them here, so you should head over to Youtube and watch them yourself.

  • The way they are named, labeled (City Crew) and dated, these look like presentation videos to show off how the team working on Amalur's cities is progressing. There are two videos showing off the gothic city of Jottunhessen, dated September 2011 and December 2011, and one for Valiance (the city in front of the dam) dated May 2012.

  • The more this stuff comes out, the more I'm bummed out that I'll never get to explore that world for myself.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Played Lately: Champions Online

  • In Jayedub's July roundup, he wrote something that caught my attention:
  • [...] and I've actually played some Champions Online and really enjoyed that as well. I haven't played CO since the f2p conversion, and boy has it changed since then. It's good, it's fun and I think I am going to be playing more of it again!
  • It has been a long time since I played CO. More than a year? Yikes. So I updated the client and jumped into the game. Jaye was right! I can't believe how much has changed.

  • I almost didn't recognize it. They changed the title screen, the loading screen, messed with the UI, and threw a huge intro for the latest patch up on the screen. It was overwhelming, but everything looked great. As I am want to do, I immediately backed out to the title screen and rolled a new character.
  • Aside: I've always heard that people in superhero games tend to accumulate alts like crazy. Since I like to devote my time to one main character, I tend not to branch out into alts unless I've been in a game for a long, long time (e.g. Guild Wars, World of Warcraft). I have eight different superheroes of various levels now. I may need help.
  • I was amused to find that Cryptic has streamlined the tutorial (which I never ever skip). They blocked off a section of zone where a couple of frivolous quests once appeared. And they removed Kinetik from his trap. It was much quicker to move through the zone and get to back to Millennium City. And that's when I discovered how much they have updated Renaissance Center and Westside (again!).

  • It's crazy to me that I've been away from the game for so long that I have trouble recognizing it. Everything is still familiar; it's still hot keys and powers and costumes. But the details have changed enough that it feels like discovering a new game. That has been a very pleasant surprise.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

News Filter: WOW MOP TLR

  • The World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria trailer is out. You've probably watched it, but I really like embedding videos now.
  • Opinions are mixed, as I've come to expect from the internet. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I like having actually Horde and Alliance characters in the video again. I love that it evokes a sense of mystery about the world. And I love that it returns to the whimsy that has always been a hallmark of the game. If the trailer tells me anything, it's "This is going to be fun."

  • Since I love Top Five lists, here are the WoW trailers from my most to least favorite:

    • World of Warcraft - The first is still the best. It introduced the world, the characters, and the conflict cleanly and clearly.

    • The Burning Crusade - Following in the footsteps of the first, TBC's trailer sticks with the character focus while giving a hi

    • Mists of Pandaria - See above. It feels like a natural continuation of the first two trailers.

    • Cataclysm - Like the WotLK trailer, this is more about telling a story than introducing a world. But it pretty cool seeing Azeroth messed up like that.

    • Wrath of the Lich King - Definitely the worst of the trailers. It is beautiful from a technical perspective. But it takes the focus away from the characters and the world and places instead on the big Blizzard story instead. No thank you.

  • What did you think of the new trailer? Which one was your favorite?

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Random Shots: Girlfriend Mode

  • Guess what? I've acually played some MMOs over the last few days. I even want to write about them. But no, I'm here writing about sexism again. Because that never gets old. Nevertheless...

  • So what's the story? Gearbox gave a studio tour to Eurogamer (and other media outlets, presumably) to talk about Borderlands 2, and the pre-order bonus class, the Mechromancer. During the interview, designer John Hemingway referred to the character's Best Friends Forever skill tree as "girlfriend mode". Since the article broke, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford went on the attack, but that didn't do much more than fan the flames.

  • I am a little reticent to blast this man with the full force of the Internet Hate Machine for a comment made out of turn. I really wish there was more context for the two word quoted that freaked everyone out. But considering that author Wesley Yin-Poole has always come across as a straight shooter, I doubt that illumination would paint the phrase in any better light. Because even if he didn't mean it a deragatory way, that's where he ended up at the end of the day.

  • Folks, we can't use language that implies an entire gender (or race, or sexual orientation, et al.) is somehow lesser just because of how they are born. It is demeaning to them and it is demeaning to us because we perpetuate this stupidity. I would love if my wife or daughter saw me playing this and wanted to join in. How belittled would they feel if I put the game on "girlfriend mode" for them. Sure, that's not what they call it in the game, but it's out there now. They can't take it back.

  • I would much rather be playing Borderlands 2 than writing about it. I've actually stopped reading anything because I want to go in fresh. This isn't going to keep me from buying and playing the game. But I really hope that Gearbox owns up, says it will do better, and really does so.

  • P.S. If you are curious about how to stamp out sexism, take a look over here. Someone is doing it right.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

News Filter: Rift Announces An Announcement

  • I normally wouldn't take the time to write about something like this, but I am constantly amused by the hype cycle of video games. This is a prime example. From my email today:
  • That's right, Trion is announcing that there will be an announcement of the new Mage soul for their upcoming expansion. The probability of three more announcements and announcements of said announcements is very high.

  • Thanks for the invite, Trion. But how about you just launch the expansion? That's all anyone cares about anyway.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

News Filter: Vanguard Is Free-To-Play, GO GO GO

  • From Massively, we receive notice that the free-to-play rollout for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes has slipped out a week early. So if you were planning to check out the game once those pesky subscription fees went away, now it your chance.

  • I tried out Vanguard a couple of years back during a free trial, but it didn't really hook me at the time. I was never, ever, going to pay money just to give it a second chance. The move to free-to-play is exactly what I've been waiting for, ever since John Smedley teased it a couple of years back.

  • Are you going to try out Vanguard? Because really, what else are you going to do until Guild Wars 2 comes out?

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Random Shots: The Sign To Move On

  • MMO Gamer Chick had an interesting post up Wednesday that struck a nerve with me. In it, she reveals that she likely won't continue to play Star Wars: The Old Republic for much longer now that it is going free to play. I also prefer the subscription model, and I think for a similar reason.

  • The pressure of a monthly subscription forces me to get the best use out of my gaming time. If I pay for a month and then fritter it away, I've wasted $15 dollars for no good reason. There is freedom in knowing that I have access to the entire game for my fifteen dollars, even if it is only for a month.

  • But as soon as the game goes free-to-play, that pressure goes away. There is no incentive to use my time wisely if I'm not spending money, so I don't play at all. Oddly enough, I discovered something similar with my lifetime subscription to Champions Online. Once I got the value out the purchase, I drifted right away from the game.

  • I don't really need to bring out my old prejudices again the Free To Play model. Especially when Wilhelm is already doing such a great job throwing up the caution flag. But that's always going to be in the back of my mind as well.

  • I'll have more thoughts about the WoW Annual Pass in a couple months, so stay tuned. But until then, I'll stick with my subscriptions, thank you very much.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

News Filter: For 3 August 2012

  • While I could milk these for several posts, I thought I'd try something different today.

  • EA Sues Zynga For Copying Its Paper During The Test - As Lum, er, Scott Jennings says, everyone knows that Zynga loves to appropriate ideas for their games by copying them directly from other games. They barely even try to hide the fact. But since they usually go after indie, no one has tried to fight back. Until they went at an EA game. Does this mean that we have to go back to liking EA again? I'm so confused. Also, eff Zynga.

  • Developers Vs. Journalists: Fight! - Jason Schreier, who has the unfortunate burden of aspiring to real journalism while writing for a site as poorly regarded as Kotaku, wrote an editorial asked developers and publisher to be less tight lipped about their games. Because talking to the press is good for you. Except when they are misquoting you to get more hits. Jerry Holkins weighed into the frey in his usual manner. And Schreier followed up with various (other) responses that he received. I don't blame Schreier for wanting more open communication, it's not going to happen just by saying "Trust us." That has to be earned.

  • WoW Sheds SWTOR's Entire Subscriber Base, Refuses To Blink - In the most recent earnings call, Activision announced that Blizzard lost 1.1 million subscribers in the last quarter. That is an entire MMO, folks. I'm not ready to worry yet, but don't think we're going to see Blizzard announcing record breaking subscription numbers again.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Played Lately: Rift

  • About a week back, I cancelled my subscription for Rift. I think it has a few days left, but I'm not sure I have anything to accomplish in that time. I resubbed two months ago when Trion's first expansion, Storm Legion was launched announced. (Edit: Thanks, Anon.)

  • I didn't want to move any of my characters off of their current server, so I rolled a new cleric on a new server. I quickly played through the tutorial, marveled about the changes, charged into the first zone, and did a little fishing. Unfortunately, after a while, I just stopped. And now I need to stop paying for it if I'm not going to play.

  • Upon reflection, I want to like Rift more than I actually do. I think it has a lot going for it. I love that the game continues to receive substantial updates. I have a lot of respect for what Scott Hartsman and the team at Trion have done and continue to do for the game. It's just not for me.

  • I hope it's for someone, though, because I really want them to succeed.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.