Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Turn on the Hype Faucet

Here comes a Star Trek Online "Preview". I often question the integrity of previews, they are always too positive or too negative, I have yet to read one that is ambivalent... Regardless, here is a very positive one on star Trek Online for your enjoyment:

click here for juicy details

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where Stargate Worlds is at, and my hopes for Star Trek Online

This link leads to an article that basically says that the Stargate Shooter is being developed and pushed out to help fund the Star Gate MMO. If you are desperately wanting the MMO to come out eventually, do them a favor and buy their shooter game. I'm not that desperate myself, nor that affluent,  so I will probably pass. (I have no idea how awesome the shooter in question is, as it has not released yet)

On a different note, Syp made some interesting comments about Star Trek Online. He's rather unsure if its going to feel enough like Star Trek at launch. Keep in mind before you read this that Syp hasn't played it in any form yet so everything he's thinking is conjecture based on marketing (which is usually not a reliable source of most kinds of information) Buuuut he may have a point about certain things, especially considering that most gamers just want to fight fight fight rather than talk talk talk, I find it unlikely that Star Trek Online will be featuring a lot of diplomacy, puzzles, and other things, outside its main plot arcs hand crafted by the developers. If there are enough of those plot arcs though, (I have no idea how many there are) I personally will never run out of them, that's for sure. I don't play enough to do that. (I'm still on book 13 of lotro, volume 1, and several parts of volume 2. for example)

Vanguard had diplomacy based on an interesting card game. Bioware looks to be going with well crafted pre-determined choices of what you get to say to NPC's for Star Wars the Old Republic Online. I am gonna bet that Star Trek goes in that direction mostly. That means that its a multiple choice quiz of "can you guess which one's the best answer?" This doesn't really make me feel like I AM that person, It more makes me feel like I am in a King's Quest game where the slightest wrong move results in death.

I'd like a sandman character as Tesh describes in his recent article. But since that isn't clearly implemented in any non single player MMO I know of I can't really expect it here where its obvious they have spent a bundle on graphics, physics(maybe), space battles, ground missions, and have even added a bridge to help us feel happier (and believe me everything added makes me more confident that it can succeed)

I am wondering if maybe we expect too much "finishedness" from games at launch. I haven't played an MMO at launch that felt finished, so I don't really expect it. Let them add more Klingon pvp stuff later, that's fine. I'm glad there are "neutral zones" and fringe areas of pvp death. There should be a freaking Klingon empire and Klingon side of the equation but its ok. I say try to think of it this way. A pve game with little to no pvp is still something you can play and its more Star Trek Online than you had before. It may not be perfect (and nothing made by man ever is) but something is better than nothing. Let them polish certain things more later, and so on, and add more puzzles and plot lines. I can live with that. I have to say I'm optimistic for the game as a whole, but maybe I will wait at launch for the first few "reporters" of good or bad news.\

*Update:  I just found a neat article describing a Star Trek online mission here: Sounds pretty neat! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Ignorance of the Masses

Sometimes I come across blog or especially main stream media articles that just blow me away with how out of touch with current technology/production standards the world as a whole is. This one here from MTV today is a gem in just the title:

'Final Fantasy XIV' Character Editor Allows Skintone And Breast Adjustment

 Sheesh... every MMO that has launched since 2004 has featured this. City of Heroes, Lotro, Champions, yadda yadda yadda.

Another example of this is of course the article I was reading today from the Portland Oregononian about the new Avatar movie and how it will "change the world".

Honestly it surprises me that bloggers never tire of this "change the world" stance. Technology doesn't "explode" in leaps and bounds, it is very incremental, almost boringly so. All advances in technology that I can think of took tons of trial and error, tons of less efficient version, and even if a movie launches that is really technologically advanced, it won't "change Hollywood forever" because firstly such movies are expensive to make and secondly the talent to produce them is likewise produced incrementally and currently is rarer than a jackalope in Times Square. (which incidentally had an all out snowball fight at 1 a.m. last night) To finish off my post, don't expect MMO's to "explode" in leaps and bounds either, most of what we're going to see is almost invisible incremental upgrades to our current ones and small step improvements to new ones. Things are going to get better, yes but its going to go so slow you'd best be focused on just having fun with what you have and not on what's shiny and coming next.

Merry Christmas! Thallian's Favorite Turn Based Games for PC

Merry Christmas everybody! and if you aren't christian, that's ok, I can still wish you a Merry Christmas, even if you don't care about it. And you can wish me a happy Hanukkah, Id, Kwanzaa, or just plain shopping season, whatever. No need for anyone to screen things or get offended like a silly person.

Anyways, that wasn't what I REALLY wanted to talk about, what I REALLY wanted to talk about was my favorite, most recommended turn based strategy PC games of all time. At least until 2009.

#1. Heroes of Might and Magic 3. This was a hard choice but I give the number one slot to heroes of might and magic three because it has a map editor and thus we spent the most time on it making our own fun maps and trying to beat each other or the computer on some crazy difficulty setting. It also has an underworld option (caves,s tunnels, underground cities) and great combat. The team who made this and the other might and Magic games are building Allods Online I hear.* Here's a screenshot from Gamespot or two just for your viewing pleasure. This game has limited city building, exploration, crazy hard tactical combat, and an actual campaign storyline to rival Blizzard's games.

*(Correction "Heroes 3 was not made by the Russian team behind Allods. It was not until Heroes 5 that the game development was shipped to Russia. Heroes 3 was developed by New World Computing, while Heroes V was developed by Nival Interactive." - thank you PDM!)

#2. Masters of Orion 2! The best sci fi game on PC I ever played also! (yes its very old and that's sort of a sad statement for Sci Fi but, well Kotor is almost as good but sadly not turn based strategy.
Masters of Orion Lets you pick or make your own race, it lets you set up any galaxy size you want, it randomly creates all the worlds, and it lets you customize your own ships, and play as long as you want and research "upgrades" ad infinitum. The battle were fantastic for its day, and are still fun today. There were new ideas introduced like "gyro destabilizers" and stellar converters. You could blow up planets and make the rubble into new ones, you can terraform and gaia-form. You can get attacked by random things including pirates and giant space monsters. This is way better than sim-city. You can build trade pacts, research pacts, pace treaties, alliances, or just declare war on everybody. Each of these decision greatly impacts your play.

I have to say though, the AI gets very predictable in the "diplomatic" part of the game, but its very unpredictable in the "build up" part of the game. Its hard to tell if the the computer is way ahead of you or behind you, until they strike! (Or you strike)

#3. Age of Wonders 1! This game does have a sequel with better graphics, as do the other two mentioned above, but I felt it was the better game out of the two. It allowed you to keep your units levels as you progressed through the campaign, and build new ones, and conquer cities, and cast neat spells, and yadda yadda. Not only that, it had a branching plot in which you could end up supporting anybody really, but not easily, and it changes the end of the game if you do. Has three floors of the world map too! above ground, below ground, and abyssal (see underdark, lower Moria, whatever)

#4 Worms World PARTY! Ok if you've played a worms game and was disappointed I forgive you. The 3D ones have all been disappointing for me also. But their 2D predecessors are not to be missed! I should go buy this game again since I lost my copy, but I'm broke, so it'll have to wait. This game is awesome for hot seat party time in any home, or college dorm. And who doesn't love blowing people with dynamite, super sheep, mortars, holy hand grenades, bouncing bananas, and "mail bombs" Not to mention all terrain, except the deadly water, is destructible.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

WoW. It's different.

WoW sent out a free week of playtime for people like me who haven't played in months and months.

During the 2 years I actually played, I was surprised how often the game's rules changed drastically. And this revisitation was no exception.

Among new features, now you can see upon simply mousing over an enemy whether you have a quest to kill them, or to obtain a dropped item from them.

They've added a new pvp battleground which makes use of vehicles and heavy artillery.

And here's the latest...a new patch released this week. Quest tracking is now built in to the map. But even more impressive is the Dungeon Finder newly incorporated into the game.

I know this is long, but I thought it was worth pointing out (The whole patch note is here):

Dungeon Finder

This feature has replaced the Looking For Group tool and provides all-new dungeon party creation functionality.

Players can join as individuals, as a full group, or a partial group to look for additional party members.

Groups using this tool will be able to teleport directly to the selected instance. Upon leaving the instance, players will be returned to their original location. If any party member needs to temporarily leave the instance for reagents or repairs, they will have the option to teleport back to the instance.

Players can choose the Random Dungeon option.

The Heroic Wrath of the Lich King Daily Random Dungeon option will award two Emblems of Frost no more than once a day.

The normal Wrath of the Lich King Daily Random Dungeon option will award two Emblems of Triumph no more than once a day.

Continuing to complete Wrath of the Lich King Heroic instances using the Daily Random Dungeon option will award players two additional Emblems of Triumph each time.

Daily Heroic and normal dungeon quests have been removed. These quests have been replaced with weekly raid quests (see the "Quests" section for details).

Level-appropriate rewards will be offered to players who choose the Random Dungeon option for pre-Wrath of the Lich King dungeons.

Players can be placed in a group for a random dungeon no more than once every 15 minutes.
Random Dungeon rewards will be placed in each player's inventory automatically upon completion of the dungeon (final boss killed). A pop-up notification will display any rewards earned through the Dungeon Finder.

Instead of choosing a random dungeon, players can also choose specific dungeons appropriate for their level range. Multiple instances can be selected at one time. The feature no longer limits the choice to look for only 3 dungeon groups at one time.

Pick-Up Groups

Cross-realm instances are now available and use an improved matchmaking system to assist players in looking for additional party members. As with Battlegrounds, the realms in each Battlegroup are connected.

As part of the matchmaking system, some of the more difficult dungeons will have a minimum gear requirement. Players also need to meet the requirements for dungeons that require attunement, such as keys or quests. If a player does not meet the requirements for a particular dungeon, a lock icon will be displayed next to that dungeon. Hovering over this icon will display the requirements which have not been met.

Only conjured items and loot dropped in a dungeon for which other party members are eligible can be traded between players from different realms.

A Vote Kick feature will be available in the event a member of a party is not performing to the expectations of the other members.

Players who leave the group prematurely are subject to a Deserter debuff preventing them from using the Dungeon Finder for 15 minutes.

If an existing group loses a member, the leader will be asked if he or she wants to continue the dungeon. Choosing to continue will automatically place the group back into the Dungeon Finder queue.

A Player will not be placed in a group with people on his or her Ignore list.

Players who take part in groups who have one or more members who have been matched with them randomly from within the Dungeon Finder will receive extra rewards, up to and including the coveted Perky Pug non-combat pet. The more random players with whom one groups, the faster the pet can be obtained.

The Need Before Greed loot system will be the unalterable default looting system for pick-up groups in the Dungeon Finder and has been updated.

Need Before Greed will now recognize gear appropriate for a class in three ways: the class must be able to equip the item, pure melee will be unable to roll on spell power items, and classes are limited to their dominant armor type (ex. paladins for plate). All items will still be available via Greed rolls as well as the new Disenchant option should no member be able to use the item.

Players will be able to roll on items with a required minimum level higher than a player's current level.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Problems with skirmishes

Maybe this should go into a bug report, but I wanted to discuss it here instead. Don't get me wrong, because I love skirmishes, and I'd rather have them, problems and all, than not have them.

Still, group size offensive skirmishes require a tank of some kind. I suppose I should of kind of sort of expected this but no, a heavy armor player is not ok, they require a serious tank with serious agro maintenance capabilities. period. No a beefed up soldier tank, or a whole army of beefed up soldier tanks will not work for long enough. This kind of makes them totally unfeasible for many group combinations and while it does make guardians more valuable, it negates the "popcorn" value of skirmishes. The bosses are just too hard. This is played at several levels below too. Group size ones are hard. Be warned.

Three man skirmishes do not require a tank. This leads you to believe the pattern will continue. I'm sure though that raid size skirmishes probably require two tanks at least, one for each group.

Solo skirmishes have too much of "more of the same" thing going on. More and more of the same enemies hurl themselves at you in an exercise in boredom. Playing with others mitigates this effect.

Easy solution, make the solo skirmishes more interesting, as the book chapters are for instance. (See book 7 for example or book 9) Oh wait they already did that one, nevermind...

Last problem, some classes have big problems with skirmishes. Burglars cannot sneak up on people with a companion giving them away, Hunters need lots of prep time between fights, and don't tank well, Tanks dont kill targets fast enough when you start pushing the envelope on difficulty. Yadda yadda yadda. Fortunately, skirmishes weren't meant to be the end all thingy anyways, but they work well all things considered.

I personally can't wait for a PvMP skirmish to arrive of some kind. The sooner the better.

More Dirty MMO Marketing Tricks Afoot

So Age Of Conan has decided to go Free To Play Forever... At least for the first 20 levels (i.e. the Tortage experience) which then begs the question, who are they copying? (Warhammer anyone?) But seriously folks, everyone knows already, if they were paying attention to the blogosphere, or anything at launch, that the Tortage experience is the best, most polished, addicting content in Age Of Conan at present, and its a rather poor trick is it not, to bait and switch people with high quality content and then make them pay for a disappointing surprise afterwards? C'mon... Now in WAR's case, its a good idea because the game DOES get better after the first 10 levels, sorta. Though I really started feeling the grind at 30, the murder-ball scenarios can only be done 20 times before you start to want some variety...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Info to go - Star Trek Online Character Creation

So, I like to provide links to things, for those of you who are too lazy (or in reality probably too busy playing games) to surf the web and find information yourselves. So Zam news just provided a neat bunch of screen shots and more importantly information about /Star Trek Online's Character Creation process. You can read it here: http://www.zam.com/story.html?story=20862

Volume 2, Book 7 Leaves of Lothlorien Thoughts

I really enjoyed running through book 7 for the first time yesterday! Since I was sick I got more game time in than I usually do so I took the chance to get better at skirmishes and run book 7. I recommend doing the first part of book 7 as soon as possible to get into Lothlorien since it is easy exp just for talking to people. The last part where you head back into Moria you should definitely take the time to get to lvl 60 before trying though. It was a significant challenge at certain points. I even downed a Caerog but that wasn't the hardest part for my minnie. My minnie hates it when getting beat on by three mobs, and there were certain places I had to use fear to delay the mobs and feign death and use fellowships heart and the works. Can't say it was a cake walk after all that.

Crawling through the creepy overgrown dungeon with all the unusual plants and then deeper all the corruption was really fun, and I also liked the part after where you explore a secret passage with a crazy powerful dwarf, though I don't understand why sometimes he wants to help you and others he just kicks back. He seems rather inconsistent. The plot part at the end was neat though and I'm gonna finish the rest this weekend. And yes, the loot is good, better than the earlier books armor wise anyways.

On the Internet, Nothing is secret.

Blizzard Hiring For Next-Gen Fantasy/Sci-Fi MMO
Someone apparently leaked that Blizzard's next MMO will be fantasy mixed with sci fi and a new IP. The only question remaining, is this really news? The Blizzard devs have been saying for years that they aren't going to remake WoW 2 or retread old territory so what does that leave them with? A Spacey MMO. Time will tell. Hopefully they do a good job. (Though they haven't failed at that yet, except with Starcraft Ghost which never launched)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Progress on our game, 3D Models with the other stuff

We made some progress today, largely due to my being sick and Anton being unemployed temporarily. Here's a screenshot of what we accomplished, a 3D model in our 3D world. Almost perfect size. Now I'm working on animations which I don't fully understand yet.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekend Skirmish Experience

This weekend I tried out a number of things including skirmishes and the new Book 2 (Volume 1) of Lotro. The first 4 chapters are fun though its interesting to see how much they changed the lone lands. All the levels are different and there's lvl 55 orc signature mobs in the tower hills, yaiks!

Me, my wife and her sister cleared most of the way with just us and a plucky captain who came outta nowhere. Then we tried to do Retake Weathertop, a 6 man instance. I have to say it is very doable 4 man but you can't be noobs, and my wife learned a lot as a healer, and my sister-in-law learned a lot as a burglar, but boy did we get creamed. WE got to the final boss and he mulched us. He's still too hard. I recommend finding 6 people (not 4) for this instance or playing it on the new solo mode. (unless your friends are total aces, all four of them)

Secondly I tried out skirmishes. The tutorial was ok. It was wasn't too hard. And I did Bruinen fords, four levels below me. (Yes I know that's easy mode, but I was busy watching a movie too, and my little warrior soldier needs more levels.) I had some difficulty healing everyone fast enough on the last boss, but I kept them all alive and we won. I like the new mount system in the game a lot, and I think its nice to be able to do something fun solo. Skirmishes definitely don't replace dungeons as experiences but they are a nice thing to do on the side, and I cna see some of them getting quite challenging. One thing I think I discovered, though I could be wrong, is that it appears that though there's lots of similarities between skirmish camps, the rewards differ greatly between them. If you are looking for lvl 30 rewards go to Thorins Gate. If you want lvl 60 ones go to 21st hall/Lothlorien. Maybe lvl 65 ones are only in Mirkwood, who knows?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Info to go - Skrimish Compendium

Someone put together a compendium of skirmishes, so Here it is for your reading pleasure

I thought the most interesting part was the Skirmish list so I'm reposting that here.

  • Siege of Gondamon: lvl30-65 (Defence)
  • Stand at Amon Sul: lvl35-65 (Defence) (Amon Sul is Weathertop really, for those not versed in lore)
  • Survival - Barrow Downs: lvl40-70 (Survival) (you are guaranteed to die on this one, its just a question of how long can you hold out? If you make it past 5 minutes you get a title, what happens after 8? 10?)
  • Thievery and Mischief: lvl45-65 (Offence) (this one actually sounds really fun for burglars)
  • Defence of the Prancing Pony: lvl50-65 (Defence)
  • Ford of Bruinen: lvl55-65 (Defence) (I've read that the boss fight here is quite difficult for some classes since you.. nah I won't spoil it for ya)
  • Strike Against Dannenglor: lvl60-70 (Offence) Must have completed Vol. II, Book 9, Chap 4 to unlock
  • Protectors of Thangulhad: lvl60-70 (Defence) Must have copmleted Vol. II, Book 9, Chap 14 to unlock
  • Breaching the Necromancer's Gate: lvl60-70 (Offence) Must have completed Vol. II, Book 9, Chap 15 to unlock
  • Assault on the Ringwraith's Lair: lvl60-70 (Offence) Must have completed Vol. II, Book 9, Chap 15 to unlock
  • The Battle in the Tower: lvl60-70 (Offence) Must have completed Vol. II, Book 9, Chap 18 to unlock
Apparently more than half the Skirmishes are GATED based on completion of Book 9 Chapters. I hope I can survivably get those chapters done. I have no idea how hard book 9 is yet, and my Minstrel, Rumples isn't exactly invincible. ;)

Better observation: I'm kind of glad they are making the book chapters more replayable and easier to get to by making the new ones skirmishes. Hopefully they can do this with some of the old ones as well. They are promising to add skirmishes with each book so if it seems a little lean at the moment, sit tight.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Star Trek Online info -- Genesis System

So Star Trek Online is going to have a new system of content generation called the Genesis system. (Alla Wrath of Khan) It will constantly generate "stuff" i.e. planets, missions, encounters, etc.. as you fly through space, so that you will genuinely be going some place that "no man has gone before". They also have used this same genesis system to build all their content but for their special "seasons" and "episodes" the artists and designers have hand tweaked the content and storyline some more of course.

Here it is from the interview:

"One thing I would say is truly Star Trek is the sense of exploration. Is that something you wanted to bring across?

Yeah, with exploration we knew "to boldly go where no man has gone before" is huge for Trek. We named our system the Genesis system, which is a set of software technology that allows us to create planets and systems, ground maps, interiors so that players will be able to continously explore and generate new content for themselves that no one else has seen before. This is a tool set that we use internally as we develop the game to expedite the process. You loose weeks of development time if you were just white boxing environments, just making sure that this is generally what we want to do and then you have a designer coming in and place the content and then an artist goes in and hand touches that.

By the time you have an end product a huge chunk of that was just initial set up. With the genesis system we can have a designer loosely describe a mission "I want a snow planet with a bunch of Klingons here and you have to go defeat this first group and then you'll go find five bombs that you have to disarm. Then the Genesis system will automatically put that together and then we can go in and hand craft that and do things that only humans can do. But since we've been working on our technology for so long we've kind of refined it and are making it better we are going to expose that to players so that they can just fly and that system will generate something new that you'll do and you'll have that limitless exploration. "

This strikes me as brilliant if it works well. City of Heroes already pioneered this with its randomized dungeons and bosses and stuff, and of course Diablo 2 as well. I can see it getting old fast though if it feels too generic or doesn't have enough variability or some such problem. Hopefully they make this a shining feature.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Compare and Contrast, Lotro and WoW community response to an expansion.


Lotro Forums

Just for a fun little contrast in the .. erm.. timbre.. between the two communities.

One is whiny and complaining all the time, the other is grateful and excited.

I don't give Turbine all the credit for this. Lord of the Rings as an IP naturally attracts a more mature (or geeky) audience than steampunk, goofball WoW does. However they (as developers) have been careful in their expansion process to avoid nullifying previous achievements and dungeons as much as possible, and have gained their communities respect and excitement for each new bit of content as a result. Only raising the level cap by 5 levels is a cheap trick that both are using but at least Turbine is trying to keep hard earned radiance gear relevant and continues to expand horizontally the whole time. (They recently revamped the Lone Lands, Book 2 doubled in size and Agamaur/Red Maid, the second dungeon was split into three dungeons; Incidentally, the previous book, book 8 revamped Bree land and Ered Luin quite significantly quest wise and the instances have changed too) WoW's expansion model has been lately to save all the good stuff for a once every 1.5 years or so expansion, which is too long for most subscribers to wait, so they play through it, unsub and then resub again once it gets in. One failing on Lotro's part this expansion has been the nullifying of previous legendary weapons. One major success has been Skirmishes. Hopefully they'll get it right in Rohan.

Just in case you missed it, there's another kid on the block today. Alganon launched today and here's an interview about it: http://www.zam.com/story.html?story=20741

and a huge picture too

300th Post! 500exp with Google Droid, you gain a level!

So this is our 300th post here at Thallian and Anton's Calooh Calay! We're on our way!

My boss got mugged at Oakland Coliseum BART station. Don't park there and especially don't go alone to your car at night. Anyways since they took his phone he got a new one, a Driod one, and I got to play with it this morning. Wee!

I think Droid is ok. Its a tiny bit unintuitive at first but then you figure out you gotta slide stuff around and double click and use the outer phone buttons and you are golden. It has GPS which works automatically with Google maps, and of course all the other Google apps. Scrolling and moving around feel good. It also has a bank of America online banking app, but not Wells Fargo or other ones yet it seems. But for an underdog phone its got plenty of games and apps it seems and is pretty user friendly and intuitive. I always root for the underdog it seems since I feel the top dog (Apple) and the second dog (Zune?) don't need it so there ya go. My two cents.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lesser Mentioned Immersion Breakers

Here's a couple of less thought of immersion breakers that people were sort of discussing on Tobold's blog today. And yes there is a trade-off here for each one.

1. Scalable Bosses/Dungeons/Loot: What, this is an immersion breaker? Yes. It reminds you that its just a game, and it doubly reminds you just how fake those pixels are, and it triply reminds you that you could just solo it or just play with your closest buddies. Personally I love this mechanic when done right but I've been thinking about it and the dungeon .. each dungeon that uses this, loses some "authenticity". It ceases to be a single dungeon and becomes something stricken with multiple personality disorder or something.

2. Drastically changing the leveling exp curve: What could be wrong with changing the exp curve to be more forgiving? Well if its a super evil one and you make it more gentle, maybe nothing. However Lotro's was already pretty well balanced with how long it should take you tog et through the content and they nerfed it, thus breaking crafting by making you have to grind it instead of naturally collect ingredients along the way. The amount of time spent in Tier 1 areas is blindlingly short, too short to advance to the next tier. (for example)

3. (Cuz I like the number 3) Stuff that happens and doesn't make sense. Bosses behaving cowardly for no reason? Check, see Lotro's rock boss in the three man waterworks. Treasure hordes you can't loot? Check see grand stair. Bottomless pits in a world where the lore doesn't allow it? Check. Any others I missed? :)

Good news, Mythos is rebooting

It sounds like RedBaena is relaunching Mythos after some work and "I'm sorry bout that let's try again"'s


This should be good. I heard lots of good things about the game from Keen and Graev and others so we'll see how it turns out this time.

Good blog articles

I found a couple of good articles on how to make permadeath workable, and  how to make epic persistent timelines in MMO's. Please read these if you are an MMO developer.



Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Sounds!

For those of you with weird senses of humor or who may be interested in making games like me,  I just found a valuable treasure to share, a repository of free sounds! Check it out!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

To all my readers in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for giving me lots of insightful comments and for all your blogs I've enjoyed reading all year. For those outside the US, thank you too, campaign for thanksgiving to be instantiated in your country too! (Canada has it after all)
Gobble gobble gobble!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lord of the Rings Online gets Chinese Government approval

Lotro just got in where WoW is getting locked out. This means little in terms of revenue but a lot in terms of subscribers. 2.2 million Chinese were playing the open beta, with a high activation rate. But anyways they jsut got approval from the Chinese government to operate in China, or rather CDC games did. From Reuters: "The company's outlook is also being clouded by a regulatory spat over its operation of blockbuster online game World of Warcraft (WoW), which has seen a key Chinese government regulator quash its application to run the game due to "gross violations" of regulations. [ID:nN02450107]" Under gross violations of regulations see "lack of censorship and too much freedom" for details.

I am personally amazed at how long it takes these MMO's to launch in other languages compared to console games but I guess there IS a lot of text in an MMO to translate, and some countries (see China) have huge legal flaming hoops to jump through so I can understand the hold-up there. Still.. why doesn't Russia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, etc.. all get it fairly fast is beyond me.

How to formulate an opinion.

Step 1: Learn about something. Read about it, both from the point of view of the people who love it, and the people who hate it. This applies to video games, critical writing, religion, politics, sports cars, whatever. Or if you are impatient, skip to step 2
Step 2: Interact with said thing. This involves playing the game in our case. It can involve a number of details such as
  1. Use the thing a little bit, and then when you find anything wrong, leave. The thing is obviously worthless and not worth your time.
  2. Use the thing a lot, whether you like it or not. Make mental notes of the things you don't like. If they stack up too high, see step 1. If the positives greatly outweigh the negatives, fall head over heels in love with said thing.
  3. Upon falling in love with said thing, play it for a long long time until you either run out of things to do with it. Then see step 1, and then step 5.
  4. Or upon falling in love with said thing, use it sparingly so that it will not get used up before it can renew itself, vary your efforts on a multitude of things (could be alts or different games in our case). Never fall out of love with it.
  5. After having tossed said thing out the window 6 to 12 months ago, go back, pick up the pieces, tape them together with duct tape, and try to fall in love with said thing again because you miss it so much. (Some succeed, most have a hard time though)
Step 3. Formulate your opinion, you really only have two options here, you can base your opinion on whether you are in love with said thing (subjective) or you can base your opinion on the thing's inherent merits without regard to how much you personally loved it (objective). Most people go with subjective decisions, and since we're often talking about games, who can blame them? Which one has more weight with others though? Its actually hard to say since everyone is different. I personally enjoy hearing everyone's opinions. even ones that go against my own. It keeps things rounded out and gives me a better perspective, even if it doesn't necessarily change my mind all the time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NDA dropped For Mirkwood

The NDA for mirkwood dropped today so we've gotten a flood of screen shots everywhere, a veritable flood of visual "info". I personally like this one which conveys little information but looks cool:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nintendo makes good on one promise- Wiiware demos available


Read there for more but I think the title says it all. Free demos of Wiiware games are now available so that you don't have to gamble for good games with your Wii points any longer.

The games they are demoing right now are Bit.Trip Beat, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord, NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits (I want to see this one), World of Goo and Pokémon Rumble

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Star Trek Online Minimum System Reqs and launch date

All right you trekkies... I know you're out there! This one's for you!

Star Trek Online will launch Feb 2 next year, in only 4 months. (If you believe that it won't be pushed back further I have some Bay Bridge stock to sell you..)

The minimum system reqs are

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2 / Windows Vista / Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit)
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8 Ghz or AMD Athlon X2 3800+
  • Memory: 1GB RAM
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7950 / ATI Radeon X1800 / Intel HD Graphics
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c Compatible Soundcard
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c or Higher
  • HDD: 8GB Free Disk Space
  • Network: Internet Broadband Connection Required
  • Disc: 6X DVD-ROM

Recommended System Configuration

  • OS: Windows XP SP2 / Windows Vista / Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit)
  • CPU: Intel E8400 Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 5600+
  • Memory: 2GB RAM+
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 / ATI Radeon HD 3850+
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c Compatible Soundcard
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c or Higher
  • HDD: 8GB Free Disk Space
  • Network: Internet Broadband Connection Required
  • Disc: 6X DVD-ROM
And just for the record. Never ever aim for the minimum on a graphics intensive game like this. Always aim high but affordable. I'm glad they are planning to support 64 bit since half the new systems coming out ARE 64 bit and 2 out of 3 of our home computers are now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Transparent Pngs!

Here's what I figured out today... transparency in pngs via 2D sprites and Embedded fonts, this one is Garamond. (As well as floating text) Next I'm gonna add a bubble and work on 3D sprites somehow.

What MMO's need more of

Too much time at the office? Yessir, that's right sir!

While I was sitting here pondering the way things have gone I got to thinking that MMO's in general have very little that is... unpredictable or exciting. I think Tabula Rasa tried to dice things up with drop ships and such and Aion with its portals for pvp. But that's not what I was thinking about. I'm talking about unpredictable and exciting events the likes of which are so varied and exciting that your event that happens to you may not ever happen to any of your friends. It'd be ok if say, it happened to one in a hundred people on the server, it'd still be rare enough that it'd be really exciting. Some of these could have special loot drops and some could be just for the excitement or terror of something fresh, new and (Gasp) unique. There is precious little in MMO's I would call "story-worthy". They should make more of it.

Maybe at some random time at night, a thief sneaks into a certain inn in some city and can be caught or might kill you while shopping or sleeping at an inn. Maybe there's a dog you can follow who digs up a rabbit hole if you give him a bone and the hole opens to a wonderland 'pocket' dungeon that few have ever seen? This kind of thing has sort of been done before, but I'd be more interested in an MMO if almost ALL the "agents" who give quests and interract with players moved around and had a daily routine, majora's mask style where not only the time of day dictated their life, but the day of the week too. Maybe so and so's only out shopping on Tuesday, and such and such is only patrolling the west bank Mon-Fri. Maybe the gatekeeper is only gone to get the new one for a half hour late at night and that gives you time to sneak in somewhere? Lots of potential things start to happen as soon as you make this simple design choice to make the world full of "pseudo living" npc's instead of "psuedo statue" ones like we have now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rhuidia update 0.0002

Ok So last night I worked on Rhuidia for about an hour and I got transparent sprites working! But it broke all my blocks into weird 3D geometry too.. so I'm not trying to figure out how to mix a proper sprite (with transparency) with my other 3D block objects. Fun fun fun! :) I'll probably be working on it regularly from now on. My play days have been moved to weekends.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blabbelon Five

There's a new kid in town on the voice chat front and it's Blabbelon. This may well devastate Ventrilo and TeamSpeak as we know them or it may just force them to copy its free, add funded business model. Or perhaps they will just be forced to offer better service. Anyways It allows you talk with lots of people at a higher quality level than ventrilo and do it for FREE.

Extra! Extra! read all about it! or here at Reuters for a more officialish one. Raiders Rejoice! Running a guild just got a whole lot cheaper.

What to expect in Lotro 2.0 (Links you may have missed)

So basically in my opinion, Riders of Rohan will be lotro 2.0 if they get mounted combat into the game and a new pvp system of some kind (pvmp skirmishes anyone?) (plz?)

But in the mean year that we have to wait, here's what's coming by this Christmas:

Mounts 2.0 Summary: Mounts will get the legwork they need to be more than an item in your inventory. They will be nameable, sometime they might have hitpoints*, but you can now open doors, interract with things and use certain skills and emotes on mounts. Considering how "mount centric" the battles in Lord of the rings were this is expected by the playerbase and future players.

Skirmishes! Summary: I like to call these pve battlegrounds.
If you want to read about skirmishes generally go here.
If you want to read about the story aspect of skirmishes, the the new siege of the prancing pony, go here
If you want to read about their new randomization and scaling aspects, and how they will come in solo, 3 man, 6 man or 12 man flavors, go here
If you want to read about the "soldiers" which is a pet which levels up and has traits but can only be used in skirmishes, go here
Lastly, if you just want the bottom line payout go here to learn about skirmish rewards

Now for my pvmp idea. Skirmishes could easily become excellent places for pvmp. Heck Alterac Valley in World of Warcraft is just a pvp skirmish! So its already been done! You could have both sides trying to accomplish goals and working against each other to succeed. And if they have to guard more than one way in and out, its a lot better. It breaks it up from being the same thing as the Ettenmoors blob versus blob fights. And it start each team with the same number (roughly) of people so that the fight is more fair. (see interesting) I can't see any downside. Monster Players could have their own goblin 'soldiers' too. That could be a lot of fun. And seriously, with Mounts 2.0, the Orc Monster players need warg mounts already. Why not let them ride warg players for a dual bonus? I can't see any reason why not....

*Correction: Mounts will have hitpoints and they will regenerate unless you get totaled and knocked off.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Back to work

Had a fun halloween, tried out Champions... uninstalled it cuz its not as good as City of Heroes, and then ran a dungeon with Anton (Great Barrows) and my little sister. Perfect place to be on Halloween. Here's an update of our game I got a sprite to stand up right and I'm messing with camera control and then I'll do sprite control.

(May as well get to work since it seems Anton is serious about this now, he keeps drawing good art for it anyways and I can't wait to put it to good use)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Life as a Dark Lord: Impressions So Far

So I finally got this game! Yay!

While My Life as a Dark Lord is a direct sequel to My Life as a King, gameplay is completely fresh and unique. Oh yeah, and that bit about playing as the "bad guy."

At the beginning of a stage, all you get is a tower with a staircase at the bottom and the big heart balloon that houses your dark crystal. You also have a certain number of points to spend (In the picture a blue heart at the upper-right that says "500" is your indicator).

Your goal is to protect your crystal from all the adventurers that come along. Use your points to add floors and summon monsters in them. Watch what types of adventurers are approaching, and you can plan the best way to fight them.

Melee beats Ranged beats Magical beats Melee. Pretty standard 3-way setup. But you have to add floors and monsters in real time. New adventurers approach 1, 2, or 3 at a time. You need to prepare floors that will be effective against them. You are awarded additional points for beating each adventurer, so you can continue to add to your tower as the stage progresses.

The chart on the left of the screen shows what types of floors and monsters you've placed, and which adventurers are attempting to climb your tower. Yellow indicates generic typed creatures/floors/adventurers. Blue is magic-type. Green is Ranged Type. And Red is Melee Type. The icons also empty as HP is depleted, so you can see how high an adventurer is getting and gauge whether he'll reach the top before your monsters can stop him. Hopefully you have enough resources to react if they can't!

So far, I feel like this game has engaged my critical thinking with each stage, as it continues to introduce new adventurers and offer me new types of floors and summons. Getting a feel for what type of defense is best against which adventurers takes some experimentation. The game is also humorous, as the Dark Princess tries in vain to be the most fearsome bad guy ever, but nobody will take her seriously. It is highly polished, with lots of dazzling effects and a great depth of detailed artwork drawn up in a charming style.

I've had nearly 2 hours of gameplay out of it so far. Very excited to keep playing!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In case you missed it... Lego Universe!

Here's a great preview and screenies of Lego Universe from 1up.com!


I am personally looking forward to this goofy game but I don't know if I'll be able to afford it...

addendum: Found another great post here:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Title decided for our Tactical RPG

Thallian and I have made lots of decisons about our game in the last few months.
We've given it a title: Reclaimers of Rhuidia

And Thallian recommends I use my more sophisticated character designs rather than the simplistic ones I've been showing in the past. Here are some sketches. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Current Gaming Trends

I'm actually really optimistic about current gaming trends. Developers are slowly learning that they need to do more than they have been. The old formula of "make the graphics and sound great and everyone will buy it" is starting to fade and developers are focusing more on the "heart and soul" of the game instead. There will always be junk games and niche games produced on the side but the great freight train of the mainstream of the industry is rolling forward and not backward. You can only improve the graphics for so long and eventually that ceases to be an option to wow people anyways. Then you have to work on more important things, like AI, story, character development, humor, and adventure.

Some things I don't personally like much is that every one of my favorite companies is starting to release games with nudity in them. I feel that porn denigrates women. It reduces our ability to appreciate them in appropriate times and places by making things that should be kept for bonding in marriage commonplace. It also exposes kids and teenagers to feelings that they have trouble dealing with and no defenses built up against. It weakens marital satisfaction by creating unrealistic expectations of spouses. Therefore I am saddened by some of my favorite game IP's going into the Nudie land, such as Dungeon Siege, Bioware's Dragon Age Origins (derived from Baldur's Gate, one of my favorite games) and of course certain MMOs (Age of Porn anyone?). I currently refuse to buy anything that has nudity or an M/R/NC17/X rating, (I haven't yet, honest, believe it or not) and I encourage you to do the same. "All it takes for evil to take over the world is for enough good people to do nothing" as the old saying goes. If enough consumers did this it'd send a stark message to the industry and Hollywood. Fortunately some companies like Turbine haven't gone this route yet but if they do I'll boycott them too.

That said I like where a lot of games are going. I'm happy about experiments in phasing (like WoW), scalability and accessibility (like Lotro's skirmishes), and other fun things going on. I like the new Sandbox games coming out and skill based games becoming more prevalent. There's a lot to look forward to soon. All of it hinges on the games being actually fun rather than having some zingy new feature, but all in all I'm optimistic.

In the MMO world I am currently interested in all of the new ones that launched, but I've mostly just been reading about them on your blogs instead of playing due to my limited time and money. I upgraded my subscription to Lotro to take advantage of the deal going on, cuz I want that goat darn it! And I have been doing lots of other random things. I played DnDOnline on Saturday with my wife's sorceress and got her to lvl 2. Levels are hard to come by in that game. The dungeons are very hard even on solo for a caster, but easy even on hard mode, for a melee fighter with lots of armor. Thanks to MBP for pointing out crowd control is possible with mesmerize type spells. I shall invest in those.

In Lotro I've been trying to get my jeweller some Galadhrim rep so he can churn out Lothlorien rep items for the kinship and friends. I also got my first radiance gear with Rumples and am still working on getting 2.5.5 group together and getting the rest of the dungeons' radiance gear. (I enjoyed my runs through Fil Gashan and Forges but got no gear, just exp and quests done)

In other news a lot of MMO's came out in September and some (Champions Online, Fallen Earth, Dawntide) I really wanted to play badly but have no time and even less money, thanks to paying 20 dollars to upgrade each of my Lotro lifetime subscriptions for the expansion. Still I look forward to learning more about them all, and Champions is on my list still if it survives that long. (Prolly in January now) Tonight I shall play with Anton in Neverwinter Nights on his world and this weekend who knows....(Prolly chore time :P)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

World of Goo offers pay what you want... I'm in!

As long as I can remember to, I'll buy that for a dollar! My goal is to buy it for somewhere between a penny and a buck.. And you should too kids. Goo is good for Yoo.

Theres a great article on the escapist about it here. Offer good till October 25th.

Not surprisingly, you make more money letting people pay whatever they want than you do forcing them to accept things on your own terms. But not always as Tobold pointed out and linked to us Camels and Rubber Duckies

I personally think these startegies are great for promos in a dry season, but if you did it initially then you are a fool. And if people know you're going to do it eventually, then it becomes less effective again because they will just wait until you crack so they can get the game cheap. I know I did that with DnDOnline.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lost Winds, winter of the Melodias

Occasionally something resembling higher quality releases on Wiiware. Lost Winds was one such thing although it was too short, I bought it and was very impressed with the graphics, sounds and controls. However the fun level was limited as I got stuck easy and frustration soon ensued. Perhaps they have made it more accessible this time, but anyways, in the new one you can switch between seasons at will which just makes the puzzles more complex, as you know if you ever played Link to the Past or Paper Mario Wii. Anyways for those who might love it, I just thought I'd give a heads up that the sequel released yesterday. One neat thing about the first one was the ability to blow flame around and out with your wind. I thought that was neat.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Eleventy First Birthday Anton!

Here's a special cake for a special friend, who helps me smile each day while I endure the drudgery of work. Here's to you Anton! Good on ya and thanks for all you bring to the blog! (Yes ok this might be a cop-out cuz I'm too cheap (i.e. see broke) to get you anything this year... would you like a spare license of an old rpg? NWN2? I have a one with your name on it...)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Someone awesome

I was reading around on a lot of blogs lately and I came across another blog that's jsut pure awesome. In case you missed it head on over to MMO tidbits. Great design advice and run-downs from an avid MMO gamer. Word.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Great RPG's that you probably missed or that Time Forgot

So I'm not interested in posting on all those RPG's you already know about. Yes Final Fantasy 2 was awesome, and so was Final Fantasy 3. No contest. Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana? Unparalleled. No, I'm going to post about games you might not have heard about in hopes that you will go investigate them. These are still fun and very worthwhile stories.

First up is the brightest gem of the bunch and the most often passed over by those who want a shiny package. It has a touching story, better jokes and narrative, and great puzzles nad gameplay, topped with decent although not stunning (usually) graphics. I give you Lufia 2! Yeah its ok if you never heard of it. But you've heard of it now and you should go check it out because this game is wonderful packed in wonderfulness. I particularly like the new characters added to the plot that you aren't expecting like Dekar who is beautifully oblivious to his everything (death, danger, destruction) except his own awesomeness. The improved "Old Cave" is also in this game which allows you to run a dungeon that changes each time and has changing treasures, but if you get any blue box treasures you get to keep those ones. You also start at level 1 each time you enter it, though you level a lot faster than you do in the normal game for some reason.

While I'm at it, I'll tentatively recommend Lufia 1, but only to those stalwart souls willing to play a much harder, older, much less ADD friendly game. The storyline is fantastic but the graphics totally suck. The music is pretty good at some places but annoying in others. The ending is very touching. For both games and they tie into each other well. Start with Lufia 2 as it is actually the prequel to Lufia 1 anyways story-wise.

Next on the list is Earthbound or EVO I can't decide so they are both next! EVO is about evolving into something better and eating everything that stands in your way. Eventually you get to the end and have to fight some nasty alien thing that is working with other aliens trying to do... something I have no idea so I can't ruin it for you. Then the Spirit of the Earth itself gives you a kiss and its happily ever after. Play the game. Its very inventive and fun whether you believe in evolution or not. You get to make your own dinosaur, and this came out eons before Spore I might add.

Earthbound is about a kid, and his girlfriend, and a geeky genius kid who has no relation to either of them initially, and a kung-fu kid who lives in an awesome city in the clouds. And a lot of very varied environments and the invasion of many aliens into each one. (Both overtly and covertly)
A very humorous British game and very creative. Not your typical run-of-the-mill game. Expect to be weirded out and amazed.

Secret of Evermore (and Final Fantasy 5 If you are brave)
Secret of Evermore is a very hard game. It says Squaresoft but it was developed by a U.S. company contractor. The dialogue, plot devices, gameplay, everything is very different, except the real time combat feels a bit like Secret of Mana. You use components to cast spells on your foes with alchemy. You are in a fictitious world called Evermore which grants each person in it their utmost desires, which can really be a problem when there's nothing to oppose them, so it generates its own evil to oppose them too. you have to find a way to destroy the world and get the normal people in it back to the real world. Your dog can change into a cave-dog or a toaster dog or a poodle or whatnot. Lots of fun.

Final Fantasy 5 I hesitantly recommend this one for you junkies out there but be warned, this final fantasy is actually hard and really really really long. and Really grindy. You WILL have to go "gain 10 levels by killing feral chocobos" before you're allowed to beat the next boss or whatever. Still the plot is unique and neat and involves an evil being who, as usual, wants to destroy everything but this time he wants to suck you into a dimensional vortex where the world you explored is all mish mashed up, pretty interesting and long final level.

Ok no more square games: next up is Tales of Phantasia. Side Scrolling, monster slashing, totally unconventional combat system for the time and good plot to boot. This wasn't released on the Game boy advance until 2006 so you can go pick it up in the used games store still I bet. Tales of Symphonia is a beautiful game for the Wii. I haven't tried the second one yet though so I can't recommend it. Anton hates the combat though I think or something about it. I and all my bros loved the combat but we hated the camera. (It's 4 player at the same time but the camera is always on the lead dude) It's always something right?

Fire Emblem (get the GameCube one, it has the best story) This game is turn based strategy where if anyone dies, they stay dead. That goes for your enemies too, none of this: "just kidding I wasn't really dead" crap we get from Squaresoft and Blizzard all the time.

The story is well done and changes a bit depending on who survives. Along with that you get some choices that influence the plot in your conversations in and outside battle.

If you want a farming sim/rpg go to Harvest Moon, though I didn't like the first one as much as later ones.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thallian's Favorites: 8-bit Finale (Nintendo version)

Ok so I covered Sega which had some great games but who preceded and exceeded them in the 8-bit arena? Nintendo! (Though I'd say Sega sorta won in the 16-bit arena in many aspects.)

Now I'm faced with an evil evil task. Picking my top 5 favorite normal Nintendo games EVAR. Hmmm.

Lets start from the very best one:

1. Final Fantasy! Yes I did go there. Sorry. This game was the bomb. And it recently on sale on the Wii for 500 wii points(5 bucks) The best things about this game? You could make your own party from four of ANY kind of class. You totally hose yourself, or slightly overpower yourself. The most balanced parties still had a hard time in some areas of the game though. I personally thought the "fighter fighter white mage black mage" was the best one, though also very boring in some regards. You need the black mage cuz some creatures cna only be hurt effectively by magic. you need the white mage to endure long dungeons and battles. And the Fighter is both a tank AND dps. Don't get me wrong, the black belt does have better dps and the thief is a waste of space until he class changes, so there are tempting options, and the red mage can help a lot instead of a fighter if you are a spell addict, buuuut. I still stand by my decision that this is the best class combo.

2. Star Tropics! Oh my goodness, short but super challenging, incredibly fun, and awesome storyline in which you save the universe from aliens. What's not to like? Plus it has puzzles, creative combat and was better than the first Zelda! Why wasn't there a sequel is what I'd like to know.... The music is freaking awesome btw.

3. Contra! No, no cheating.. I saw that. Dirty Konami and their easy cheat codes. Honestly. Is this game even possible to beat without cheating? I think not. Still its fun with the 32 extra lives cheat to see how many times you can get your friend killed by scrolling the screen too fast upwards and still manage to beat the game.

4. Battletoads! Pure funnny awesomesauce. This game rocks. Unfortunately no matter how good you are, you probably needed a game genie to provide something to beat the last tow levels because every time you run out of continues you have to start @ the beginning of the whole game again. And combat was pure inspiration in this first issue of the series. Very funny the whole way through, including the end.

5. Super Mario Bros 3! I have to give the prize to this game. It was a tough choice between this and Mario 1, which started it all for Miyamoto, or Zelda, which created its own genre of game. However, Mario Bros. 3 was the best of the Mario's in 8 bit and it shows. Suits and Flutes aside. you can choose which world and what order you want to do things, and you had items and an overworld and all kinds of neat new things in this Mario game, not mention catchier music and a funny ending. Genius. If I'm allowed to add two more though I'll add one Super Mario Bros because it got Miyamoto a permanent job and Zelda 1 cuz it was amazing too. Zelda 2 was too hard though. (Although beatable) I loved the white block secret where you could squat on a white block an fall into the background behind the stage. I also liked the giant fish who loves to come eat you whole. I also liked Bowsers kids being introduced and all their personalities and worlds and airships. Tons and tons of variety. The Tanooki suit is the bomb. Too bad it never came back later in other Marios, along with the hammer suit and the frog suit.

Anybody heard of Aion?

I must be behind the times, this came out 2 weeks ago.

Anyways, I thought this MMORPG looked phenomenal. The environments are gorgeous, and the characters appear anime-styled but texturally more tangible than many other games. Apparently uses the Cry 1 Engine. I'm not sure if it runs on my computer, but I'm sure dazzled by the trailers on this site:

What there is to look forward to this Christmas

I originally thought there was nothing exciting coming out this year for the Christmas rush. That was a foolish thought. Good games to look forward to on the Wii and PC front:

On Wii:

Wii Fit Plus Oct 4, 2009

A Boy and His Blob Oct 13, 2009

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes Oct 6, 2009

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Oct 13, 2009

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Nov 10, 2009

Harvest Moon: Animal Parade Nov 10, 2009

New Super Mario Bros. Wii Nov 15, 2009

Need for Speed: Nitro Nov 17, 2009

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Nov 17, 2009

and the day after Christmas inexplicably:
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers Dec 26, 2009

on the PC:

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes (PC)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Dragon Age: Origins
(Pete and others have done several screenshots and articles on this already, I won't be playing cuz its rated M and that's something I just don't do)

and for the bargain gamer who likes turn based strategy you should consider: Elven Legacy

..maybe it'd be good for my dad... Or maybe Wii Fit Plus....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Part 3: Thallian's Favorites of the 8-bit era :) (Sega section first)

OK so we are steadily marching forward in time here and we're now solidly in the bulk of the 80's and even possibly the early 90's (though I'm not sure)

The Atari was fun but eventually it died out and people thought the days of console gaming were over. Along comes Nintendo with Super Mario Bros. which incidentally also launched in Arcades (though it's such a long game I don't that was very appropriate for poor mothers if their kids were good at it and always got the one-ups.)

On top of that Nintendo's console is a smash hit with numerous titles and someone else tried to get in on a piece of the pie, namely Sega with their "Master System".
(Yes Sega, much later on lost the console wars but not until they had fostered some fabulous gems and even after they lost and allied themselves to their old enemy Nintendo they continues to make a mix of really fun (Monkey Ball) and really crappy (later Sonic titles))

So I'll start with Sega's top 5, in no particular order:

1. Altered Beast (2 player): Yes its an arcade port but its great because its a wonderful game and you don't have to pop quarters any more. You start out as a human each time you revive from death, and you have to gather power orbs from killing undead to become a werewolf and kick some serious butt. Simple idea, great gameplay and creativity.

2. Golden Axe (2 player): Similar to Altered Beast except you pick from one of three heroes and try to chop your way through the side scrolling levels without dying. Minimal Mario skills required. Massive axe and sword skills a must though.

3. Choplifter(1 player I think) You control a helicopter and are trying to save people running on the ground and at the same time destroy/or avoid enemy fire from all over the place. Very varied and fun levels.

4.Double Dragon (2 player on most systems)
This was not a Sega exclusive either but was an awesome game and a great complement to their system at the time. Sega had purposely take the "rugged rebel" look and attempted to make it their mantra after all. In Double Dragon, not only is there co-op, there's friendly fire! You can easily get into a fight with your partner and waste all his lives. In fact, the clincher at the final boss of the game is you defeat him and them fight your partner in a battle to the death for the girl. Little boys like me loved this game.

5. For the last entry several titles vied for entry such as R-type and Strider but I'll save Strider for the much better Genesis version, and give the prize to Rampage! (yes the one in the arcade again) Rampage was pure awesomesauce. You got to break down buildings and be King Kong or a Godzilla (Lizzy) If you aren't familiar with the title there is hope for you yet. There is a Rampage title out for the Wii for those who can't get enough and I've played it and it's decently fun to throw cars and destroy buildings in 3D.... or you could just find it in your local pizza parlor if you're lucky ;). (P.s. this game also has friendly fire if you play multiplayer)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Part 2: Greatest Atari Games EVAR

So I promised today I would continue the saga of recommended oldies and we march mercilessly on from DOS land to Atari!

Ah the Atari, in all its pixelated goodness. I remember having such good times with thee... no not like that ewww gross.. Anyways I am scrambling my brain here trying to even remember all our old Atari games I played back in the 80's. Air Sea Battle, Crash Em', Pitfall, and I'm trying to think what the very best ones were. Well Here's some of the best of the old classics:

1. Pitfall 2! This game was remarkably big for an Atari game. AND the monsters remembered where they were if you came back to their rooms. AND you could accidentally skip the item the beat the game and end up back at the beginning and have to run through the entire game again, thus going insane. How cool is that? A better review is here:
"The original Pitfall established a new standard for adventure games, but Pitfall II pushed the envelope even further. Heck, Pitfall 2 cartridges even include their own chip set! The result is expansive levels with varying scenery, high-resolution graphics, and first-rate audio. An incredibly catchy soundtrack plays throughout the game - probably the best music ever composed for the 2600. Pitfall II takes place mainly in deep, multi-tiered underground caverns, and there's a pool of water at the bottom which Pitfall Harry can actually swim though. A whole new collection of hazards includes monkeys, rats, frogs, bats, birds, scorpions, and electric eels. Unlike the first Pitfall, there are no "lives" and no timer - in fact, the game never really ends. Instead, there are scattered checkpoints, and losing a life sends you back to the last one (after deducting some points). Developer David Crane pulled out all the stops with this one. I only wish he had incorporated a much-needed "duck" move to avoid those pesky bats. Still, Pitfall II is a well-conceived adventure and a technical marvel. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic."

courtesy of http://videogamecritic.net

My favorite was the Andean Condors which swooped in occasionally and the crocodiles of course that you can walk on parts of.

2. Combat/TANKS! Incidentally There was recently a recreation of this game only with way better graphics on WiiPlay. So if you bought Wii play you have it already. Try it out if you haven't yet. My favorite thing to do in this game was to inexplicably move the trajectory of your bullet after you fire it by turning your cannon. Ahh the memories of blasting each other to pieces....

3. Air/Sea Battle: The most varied fun you can get on Atari IMO. I loved this game. You could attack planes of all shapes, sizes and speeds, or be a turret, or a depth charge dropper against submarines, or whatever. Tons of different modes to play. I wish modern games offered this kind of value proposition for fun. (Oh wait.. some do)

4. Have you noticed how colorful those Atari games are? Gotta love it! Next up is Crash Em! Man this game drove me nuts. The whole point is to avoid smashing your car into the bots and pick up dots for points. If you get all the dots you move to the next level. There is no end to the game. Period.

5. Frogger + Space Invaders (I can't choose, they're both great) Both of these games are legends, and both of them are insanely frustrating after a little while. I'll go with Frogger for the picture because Space Invaders was really a Arcade Port just like Pac Man, Galaga, etc...