Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Random Shots: Bouncing Between Games

  • As has been the norm, it is an odd time for gaming in the Anjin household. There are several games I could be playing, but no will to dedicate myself to just one. So like a rubber ball, I've been bouncing from one game to the next.

  • Guild Wars 2 - Gaming time in GW2 has slowed quite a bit since launch. Not from lack of interest, but from too much else to do. When they flipped the switch on discovery from the bank, I spend so much time running through as many possibilities as I could find. But since I'm still only in Kessex Hills, there is quite a bit of adventuring ahead of me.

  • Torchlight 2 - Of all my games, TL2 has occupied me the most. I loved Torchlight in a way that makes me want to spell "love" with way too many O's. TL2 has been everything I love about that game and more. I love the side quests. And the vingettes in the zones. And the one phase beast portal I found was bonkers. I was used to everything being the same from the first game and I'm constantly surprised whenever Runic pulls off something super creative. So good.

  • World of Warcraft - Yes, I played WoW last night. No, I did not cave and buy Mists of Pandaria. I spent the entire night in Nagrand, working on my perma-TBC character. I was surprised to find that the elite mobs had been converted to quest-target mobs instead. Even poor Durn the Hungerer, the saddest of all the gronn. No time for pity when there are blue quest rewards ont he line, though. I don't know when I'll see Pandaria. I doubt I'll roll a panda since I never tried a worgen or goblin either. But I do have a something to spend my time on, even if it is six year old content.

  • So what has kept you occupied? Playing old favorites or discovering something new?

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Random Shots: The Music That Sold Me An N64

  • In 1996, I somehow found myself in grad school at UCLA. A good friend of mine from high school was also attending, so we ended up rooming together. This guy was a genuine, no questions about it, Nintendo fanboy. To each their own. For instance, I'll be buying the new Xbox as soon as I can, but have never bought a Playstation unless it was used and approaching the end of its life cycle.

  • So that summer between terms, he bought a Ninentdo 64 and what is arguably its best game, Super Mario 64. I was enthralled. Platforming in 3D (from back when that meant something different) was finally down right and I loved it.

  • My favorite level in Super Mario 64 was, without any hesitation, Jolly Roger Bay. The level involves swimming around an underwater stage wherein, at one point, you lift a sunked ship from the ocean floor. The best part of the stage, though, is the music.

  • I remember turning the game on, jumping into the world, and then letting the music play. Even now it brings back memories of a simpler time. If only all game music was so evocative. When we went our separate ways (a story for another day), he took his system and I needed my own. And that's how I ended up with an N64.

  • A few years ago, I found this remix that is ridiculously amazing. Enjoy!

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

News Filter: No Torchlight MMO And That's Okay

  • Via Polygon (who got it from, Travis Baldree from Runic Games stated in their recent Reddit AMA that there is no longer a Torchlight MMO on the horizon. And you know what? I'm perfectly okay with that.

  • Travis makes a lot of sense when he says that the landscape has changed. Since they worked on Mythos, they've now delivered two games, both single and multiplayer now, for exceptionally reasonable prices, I'm not sure what more an MMO would bring to the table. And as they say a little bit further down the thread, Runic would like to work on something that's not another Torchlight.

  • While they figure what they want to play, I'm going to dig into TL2 (Thanks, Blue Kae!) and not worry about what else they have up their sleeves for some time.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Random Shots: Trying To Be Good

  • Circumstances change with frightening regularity. I am not always quick to notice such changes, so occasionaly I find myself reacting to a situation I did not realize was creeping up on me. Without going into any details, I find myself needing to cut back on video game purchases at exactly the worst time in the game release calendar. Here are just a few games coming out that will have to go on my wish list:

  • Borderlands 2 - I absolutely adored Borderlands. I normally hate shooters, so I initially very hesitant. But somewhere between the art style, the humor, and the pure thrill of shooting crazy guns, I found myself playing the game through to completion. So once the second game was announced, I knew I would be ready for more. At least, I will someday.

  • Torchlight 2 - There may be no better Diablo-like ARPG than Torchlight. And its definitely in the top 5 Dark Alliance-style ARPGs. As soon as I heard that TL2 was being made, I wanted to play it immediately. But even at twenty dollars, this will have to be more than an impulse buy.

  • Mists Of Panderia - I can't believe that I'm not going to be in WoW at the launch of the new expansion, but that's were my life finds me. I wish that I was more excited about the game, but even having open access for the last year didn't see me playing that much.

  • Lucky for me, Guild Wars 2 is sure to keep me busy for months. But if one or two of these show up under the Christmas tree, I would not be disappointed.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 14, 2012

News Filter: The 2012 Windhammer Prize

  • If you've followed the blog for a while, you might know that I'm a fan of gamebooks like the classic Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf as well as the more recent Fabled Lands and DestinyQuest series. I mean, they are games and books. At the same time!

  • Since I fancy myself a bit of a writer as well, I've also tried to write a gamebook or two in my time. So when I discovered the Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to write something, finish it, and put it in front of a bunch of people. So I started to write a 100 section book called Academy of Magic: The First Term to submit for the competition. In 2010.

  • That did not work out so well, so I finally got my act together and submitted for 2012. The voting has opened today. I really should have submitted last year. There are 22 entries this year instead of the prior year's eight. But my main goal was to enter, so I'm glad to have done so.

  • The Windhammer Prize always has a great collection of short gamebooks every year and you should check it out. I'm not asking for you to vote for me. There is likely to be a few books that you enjoy. Do give it a try and have an adventure!

  • Before I go, I wanted to thank Blue Kae and Yeebo for their help with testing. I couldn't have do it without you guys.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Played Lately: Guild Wars 2

  • When I logged in last night, there was just a single heart left in Queensdale. It was located in the middle of the Godslost Swamp, a subzone I'd accidently run into and immediately died in a week ago. My first goal was to track down the skill point, which seemed to be down under the water.

  • That's when I saw the statues. And then the name of the challenge. I was floating in the ruins of the Temple of the Ages! On one side were statues of Dwayna and Kormir (who must have been added some time after the end of Guild Wars). In all honesty, I was a little choked up by the experience.

  • And overlooking the skill challenge, is Grenth, Lord of the Underworld. I could not find the statues for Balthazar, Lyssa, or Melandru. Nor could I kneel in front of the statues. Maybe we don't have favor currently. (Yes, I really tried.) Not that I needed access to the Underworld, since it was popping up all around me.

  • The swamp's heart is completed by killing Underworld creatures and closing portals. I thought it was just going to be a bunch of shades until I was jumped by an aatxe. Those things will murder you dead in GW, so I didn't expect to see one out in the open here. That beast just above is actually a Veteran Aatxe, a fact I was not aware of until I turned my HUD back on. What a terrible time to try for a screenshot!

  • The swamp held the last checkpoint, heart, skill challenge, vista, and point of interest for the zone. I reached 100% completion at the portal to Kessex Hills. Hearing about how great the zone completion rewards are, I eagerly kicked the treasure chest only to find a matched set of green pistols (that I cannot use), a large stack of copper ore (I'm a cook/leatherworker), and a few transmutation stones (yay). I'm sure a future alt will be very happy with all of these rewards.

  • Anyway, Kessex Hills, here I come!

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Random Shots: Two Items, Unrelated

  • Players rally to save City of Heroes - Ardwulf has been doing a yeoman's work today, linking and discussing the efforts by players of City of Heroes to save their game. I certainly applaud their efforts, but I won't have more to say unless they are successful.

  • Amazon announces next round of Kindles - The Verge has a huge round up of the Kindle announcements. I'm glad that Amazon isn't giving up the fight. I enjoy my Kindle Fire and use it just about every day. But unless the app situation improves, I don't see much of a reason to upgrade.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Random Shots: Nitpicking Guild Wars 2

  • As much as one enjoys any game (and oh dear, do I love Guild Wars 2), there will always be something you can find that is not quite right. No, I'm not talking about account hacking, overflow servers, and the like. I'm talking about the little things. And these are little, so don't take this as some massive critique of the game. It's just that, should someone at ArenaNet look at this post and decide to fix a few of these, I wouldn't mind at all.

  • Adjustable UI - Currently I'm playing a ranger. (And only a ranger. I want to hold off on alts for as long as possible.) One of the major class features of the ranger is your pet companion. That's cool and all, but the pet bar is completely borked. The icons are stacked on top of one another, so I can't really control it properly. It looks like they are crammed into too small of a space. So I, the intrepid go-getter that I am, looked through the options to find out how to adjust the UI. Only I can't find one. Maybe I'm overlooking it, but I don't think so. Considering how flexible the modification was in Guild Wars, I'm quite surprised that didn't carry over.

  • Crafting from collection - I really love crafting. I love that I can deposit crafting material into the collection from anywhere in the world. I love that I can access my bank and collection from any crafting station. What I don't love is that I have to manually extract items from your collection to your inventory for use with crafting. It's a minor thing, but is the perfect quality of life improvement I would love to see.

  • Underwater preparedness - It wasn't immediate, but it did not take too long for me to find myself underwater, using completely unfamiliar skills. And with a completely inadequate weapon. GW2 doesn't really remind you that you need to be upgrading your aquatic weapons alongside your regular weapons lest you fall woefully behind once you hit the water. An extra hint might be helpful.

  • Gem prices are too high - What else can I say. Gem prices are higher than I would ever pay. ArenaNet does the thing where it costs one dollar to buy 80 gems just like Microsoft. But then they take it a step further and charge everything based on a hundreds and quarters thereof. It's a great way to obscure how much things really cost. (Everything on Xbox is in multiples of eighty, so the math there is still easy.) But anyone with a calculator can see that prices are too high. I'm hoping that ANet follows SOE's lead and Gem discounts. Since the digital deluxe in available for gems, I don't really see that happening. But until that time, I don't have any extra money to through at what is, in all honesty, a deserving game.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Played Lately: Guild Wars 2

  • My chores were minimal Thursday night (and I really needed a break since I wasn't feeling especially great about myself), so I sunk into Guild Wars 2 for a time. I'd been stuck in Divinity's Reach for long enough, so I felt the call of the wilderness. And all of those little icons in said wilderness.
  • One thing that I didn't expect, even though I fully should have because I did Guild Wars quite a lot and they did the same thing there, was all of the optional paths, hidden nooks, and landscape just for the sake of having something cool to see. On the west edge of Queensdale, there is a long ravine that leads between the northern and southern halves of the back, patroled by several ettins. There is not reason for it to be there except that it's cool. So of course I fought my way up and back, killing and gathering all the while. And I swam to a waterfall, I ran into Kessex Hills, and I got killed in a swamp that was too high of a level for me. Just for the fun of it.

  • By that time I had leveled enough to return to my personal story. Of course the clandestine meeting (right in the center of Divinity's Reach!) was an extended ambush. Freaking White Mantle again! Hilarious that they've become cultists in the intervening centuries. It's a good thing they came in waves instead of all at once or I never would have survived.
    As an aside: I really miss the Mursaat. I hope GW2 delves into the history of the world more. Between the Mursaat, the Seers, and the Forsaken, there have some neat little bits of lore.
  • The next step in the story was rated three levels higher, so it was back to adverturing again. I fought bunch of centaurs, skritt, a server reset, and escorted a flock of pygmy moas to find my way to Beetletun. I can't believe how huge this world feels. And I'm just in the starter zone. I love running around and just running into stuff. Unfortunately I'm so used to other games that I forget that downleveling means I have to treat every enemy seriously.

  • And then it was two o'clock in the morning.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.