Monday, March 30, 2009

Huxley looks pretty cool

So you all probably got to see this by way of email or GDC page surfing .. but if not, then I encourage you to check it out here:

This game looks like fun and though I can see it getting old very fast unless they add more depth to it, its certainly not dull right now.

Word to the Wise

"Better" as in "wow is better because it has more subs", or "Darkfall is better because it has more freedom and better impact pvp" is a relative term. So are "good", "best", "worst","stupid", and so on. In a world alone, none of these terms have any meaning. And even in our world where we have so much to compare things to, we often misuse them. To say WoW sells more copies because it is a "better game" could be true and not true at the same time, depending on what the "better" things is that you are talking about. Wow does arguable have many fun and "better" attributes. It is also a dinosaur compared to other games in other areas. So does darkfall. It looks like its keep captures and freedom are top of the charts right now. It's pve though sounds like its lacking in intelligence, though, granted almost all games are lacking in intelligent mobs.

I often term Artifical Intelligence as being relativistic and I often state that its real name should be Artificial Stupidity (another relative term) because the AI programmed into games compared to the AI professors and their graduate students have cooked up is woefully inept. When this progress will ever leave academia though is anyone's guess. Usually things dont get trasnalted over unless some company buys the finished product or steals some of the graduate students.

Tangent aside. Please be more careful about using "great" and "best" and so on fellow bloggers. Be more specific. Say instead "great pvp" or "best pwnage" or whatever but don't just say "wow does better because it is better" Perhaps WoW only does better because the layman likes its art and ease of use, who knows? Its really hard to say off the bat or even with detailed research. even Blizzard themselves claim they don't know what makes its secret sauce. the stupidest argument though is "11 million people can't be wrong" Marketers like to use this one to get people to gang bang. But yes, they can be wrong and they often are. Numbers do not make people right, no matter how high they climb.

P.s. I'm not a relativist, but I know lots of them. ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Im slipping..

There's an RPG with farming and other more rpg normal elements (story, adventure, etc) apparently that came out and got good rating from critics on the Wii. .. a weeek ago.
Obviously I am letting this wedding business get the best of me! Well in case you like Harvest Moon, or rune Factory you might want to check out this new wii game which launched last week, Rune Factory Frontier!

I included a couple screenshots from the japanese version to appease the visual folks like myself out there. but rest assured it is in english if you buy it here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Life as a Dark Lord!!!

Here it is! At GDC today, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Dark Lord was announced. Muaa-ha-haa! Finally my chance to use monsters to protect my evil-ish dark crystal from pesky adventurers! On WiiWare, sometime Q4 this year, I'm stoaked.

OnLive, well, is live :P

In the news today, a new streaming game service will come on line later this year. You will be able to play games running on other pc's in a "cloud computing environment". Yay! Well, at least somebody has finally showed up to put some competition into the Blue Ocean downloading games market. This might have some unusual effects and might make reinvigorate the overpriced and over complex PC market for the mainstream consumer. We shall see.

In case you are a layman and very confused about what I'm talking about here, the proposed service would let you boot up your laptop and use it more like a television and less like a computer, I.e. just for display rather than processing the whole game. A Server would process all the math and stuff for you and then send you the pretty pictures in response to your strokes. The servers would be run by a pay service (i.e.OnLive) If this REALLY takes off, then it will put away the need for UBER™ gaming rigs and instead people will use something with a nice monitor and OK video card (to support HD) instead of the dual or triple video card and crazy powerful processors that cost a fortune from Alienware.

The Chronicles About Spellborn

Well, Tobold and Melmoth have pretty much made up my mind for me, though in all honesty I DID try and download and get the game working but the European version came in two pieces that wouldn't un-rar and I didnt have it in me to sit and try and download it again a different way. Basically it sounds like Spellborn is either too difficult or too much of MOTSC (More of the Same Crap)

Still I hear it has neat, beautiful environments, but someday these companies are gonna wake up and learn that neat environments are made by artists but true fun games are made by people who appreciate fun (and they might be artists too). Don't make an un-fun game. Make it fun and play-test it till it rubs you raw. Make sure the first places are smooth and bugless. Then make sure the later areas are smooth and bugless. Then release it. End of story. Is this so hard?

Add frills and extra stuff and more content a month AFTER its released and the first few inevitable patches come out fixing things you couldnt have anticipated. Content is the enemy. Fun is your friend. Make that game fun first, not big first, then expand from there, with more fun, not just with beautiful spaces. Oh and one more thing. Fun is not doing the same thing all the time. Fun varies itself constantly in subtle ways (or sometimes big ways)

Monday, March 23, 2009

7 Habits and MMORPG's

Something that just occurred to me over the weekend...

Massively Multiplayer Online Video Games are fun, and probably most players have used the term "addictive" whether in truth or with some degree of jest. We have all heard the stories of people whose real life has been robbed by the games.

We can all think of many reasons for this. To name a few: MMORPG's have an endless number of activities/quests to do, people don't want to give up their characters which they have invested days' worth of playtime into, people grow familiar with their game's world and grow a fondness for it, and friendships made online could potentially be lost by leaving the game. But I wish to make an interesting connection with a principle taught by Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

My mom taught a class at a community college on 7 Habits/Time Management, so I grew up with this stuff. One important lesson is given about Time Management involving a chart into which all activities can be categorized.

Time Management---Urgent---Not Urgent

Important ------------------1-----------2-------

Not Important------------3------------4------

Explanation of Chart: It's composed of four "Quadrants," and it helps us classify our activities.
Quadrant 1-Important, Urgent
Quadrant 2-Important, Not Urgent
Quadrant 3-Not Important, Urgent
Quadrant 4-Not Important, Not Urgent

Experts recommend spending most of our time in Quadrant 2. This means we should spend our time planning, preparing, building family relationships, learning, and preventing problems.

Why not quadrant 1? Quadrant 1 is important, right? Well, Quadrant 1 represents Crises, Pressing Problems, and Deadlines. Wouldn't it be better to Prevent those things from turning into last-minute issues? Thus, quadrant 2 is preferred.

How am I relating this to MMORPG's? We must admit that single-player video games fall under Quadrant 4. Sure, it's okay to spend a little time here, we all need some relaxation and hobby-time. But here's the interesting part...When you take video games into the online realm, the game suddenly becomes Quadrant 3. Now you have friends who are asking you to join for a dungeon or a raid, and events arise that must be played during a certain week or they might be missed.

This ties into why MMO's can be so much more addictive than other games. They give Urgency to an otherwise laid-back gaming experience. But I'm not here to criticise people--I just thought it was an interesting connection. As long as we are responsible about our time, it's okay to lose ourselves in fun now and then. Just remember, it might be a little harder to do when that game makes you feel like you have to play it NOW.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thallian's Favorites: Baldur's Gate 2

Ok excuse me for posting about a "mostly" single player game but this game deserves notice. Why? Because its elaborate, well-written, complex, and funny. Not only that the battle situations are all fairly unique and offer significant room for creative utilization of classes and skills to almost no restriction. Want to beat the game with just one guy of any class? Go for it. Want to do it with all rogues? Fine. There will be certain rare things you can and can't do but most of it you can and even the challenging things you can usually do. The only thing you absolutely have to have a party for is a demi-lich, though you can summon Valhalla warriors to get imprisoned for you if you want also. If you're clever with traps and you're a bounty hunter you migth even be able to kill a dragon alone. (Or if you are a powerful mage, magic missile is bad news bears once you lower their magic resistance) (And there's only two demi lich's in the game and they are both optional though one is definitely worth assembling and killing for his super powerful ring of regeneration)

Baldur's Gate 2 shows what happens when fun and the player experience and plot are put at priority 1 instead of budget and so on by a large experienced company (Black Isle/Obsidian now)

The game is rife with npc's who have more fun, character, sass, intelligence, interaction, and endings, than any lukewarm bioware game that has been released since. You can play the game as Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Super Evil and have a TOTALLY different experience. If you are super evil then the law comes after you constantly and they mean business but killing them gets you even more exp and powerful items. Reputation is hard to make go up but easy easy to make go down. Just start killing civilians, its as simple as that. Neutral results in a unique game also as the neutral characters like you more, and it has its own unique romance and plot line. I haven't yet experimented with that one to the full degree but I've beaten the game on evil and good and I of course like good better but I respect how much detail and care went into the evil line, since it is counter to your usual half baked stuff, much better than KOTOR 2's lousy evil ending. Actually KOTOR just made we wish Black Isle had never been broken into two companies. It lacked a certain something but it attempted many good things.

Anyways back to Baldur's gate 2. So The graphics aren't totally amazing but they aren't that bad either. You can control a party of 6, there IS collision detection and you can set up barricades to protect your more vulnerable friends. You can actually make friends or enemies with your subordinates, and they might go nuts or do other things if they make friends within the group and that other person dies or you insult that person or whatever. Drama drama, but it makes for a rich, more realistic experience never again even attempted by any company to this level. Area's change based on what you accomplish, stuff happens. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, your lover can get turned to stone, turned into a vampire, marry you, have a kid, or get blown into chunky kiblits by a fatty Shadow Dragon unless you hide in a cloud of obscurity produced by a magic stone.

My favorite place might have been Underdark or Watcher's Keep with all its puzzles and deadly deadly battles, but its hard to pin it down, Illithids were definitely my least favorite enemies as they had a chance to kill you instantly by sucking out your brains. Not a game for wimps. Definitely a game for you if you like challenge and plot. Can be played with friends online via Gamespy's service just fine.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

D&D Version 4!

Very old news--But since World of Warcraft is my usual RPG these days, I haven't taken much time for Pen & Paper RPG's lately.

On Tuesday I happened to wander into a game store and ended up buying the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition starter game set.

As a game developer myself, I am very pleased with a lot of the tips on building adventures which are included in the DM booklet. For 17$, if anyone has had a yearning to go back and play Pen & Paper games like you may have as a kid, I recommend this new edition. This version uses tiles that can be rearranged to create innumberable different types of rooms to encounter enemies and obstacles in.

I particularly enjoyed a section I just read about creating diversified areas, and the different ways you can spice up gameplay by creating interesting rooms. There's also a section that outlines monster roles (ie DPS, Tank, Healer...Only this book has descriptions of a few others that have opened my eyes a bit.

Ah, good ol' D&D!

Mega levels and IE8 mess to deal with

Ok so good news it my kin finally started raiding a couple weeks ago and this week I led them through to Zurm for the first time. (Yes I know the rift was added ages ago and you who have been playing Lotro already know it back to front, but my kin is new to it so there)
Anyways we got cleaned out by the first troll and keeper adds on Zurm the first time, the secone time we lost a couple people who werent paying attention but did pretty well until the second pull and then lost too many people and had a long fight against the mobs but we beat them (amazingly and barely) Still it was a victory that was shorlived as Zurm at 1/3 health summons and EVEN BIGGER force to swat you down. Therefore you have to have more intelligence and less bad behavior in your kin/raid and people need to survive until the last pull adn get rid of pale folk fast so that you can survive it and beat the boss. Nevertheless it was exciting and fun to be learning this on our own instead of under someone's boot. (I.E. working with another kin who knew the ropes)

I also levelled.. a lot, due to exp curve changes in book 7. Other than that I haven't noticed any differences though I'm sure I will.
In other news, at work I have to deal with the following headaches: IE8 launched today, and it will "solve" many things by making things standards complaint which is good in the long term and very headachy for web developers in the shrot term. Here is someone who alreayd explained it better:

And here is a list of websites you will have to run in "compliance" mode to run properly

Friday, March 13, 2009

The wait for Lothlorien is almost over

Lothlorien launches next Tuesday, thus says Sapience.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Anton's Weekly (Yearly) Sketch

This isn't even recent, but if I showed you what I've been drawing recently, I'd have to kill you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hourglass of Eternity Quest

Time Travel in WoW?
I just did this great quest, and I figure lots of you don't play WoW, so I wanted to share what happens, since I had so much fun playing this part.

Spoiler ahead, for those who still plan to play Wrath of the Lich King...

Northrend has the very best quests I've ever done. Here I was asked to protect the Hourglass of Eternity...Suddenly my future, level 80 self appeared to help me fight!

As we battled to protect the relic, I noticed she was still wearing the same armor I was wearing...

"Farewell Aleeda. Keep us alive. And get some better equipment!"

Fun little quest.

Cute quote from the forums

A fellow name Banaticus had this on his callsign: "As a level 1 burglar, Bilbo got a pony when he joined those high level dwarves doing the Smaug The Dragon raid. Those powerlevelers probably invited him solely so he could trigger fellowship attacks for them."

I want a pony! No? How bout a puppy then?? Or a goat :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Map of waterworks has come up with a number of maps over the years and this ones really nice

it maps the waterworks of Moria, which if you didn't know is where the Watcher lives and a number of other nasty end-game critters and dungeons.

Here is a list of the maps they've created for lotro btw:

some other good ones being the great barrows, garth agarwen, and goblin town

Monday, March 9, 2009

The 12 man Moria raid has been pushed back

Here's a quote to prove I wasn't a liar when I said way back that they were going to do a (real)raid in book 7. Apparently they were but they changed the release date.

"No one is saying that we are not ever going to do 24-man raids. We just don't have any immediate plans for them. We want to make sure that we are giving you the most content possible with the most variety. The future could bring more 24-mans, but it is not in the "forseeable future" as was posted in the dev chat.

Also, I just want to say, that while I know you guys are disappointed with the push of the 6-boss raid until Book 8, we have a pretty agressive schedule ahead of us, and we have a lot of plans for the coming year. Stay tuned, be patient, and it will hopefully be awesome! " -Amlug


I love multi-boss raids when they are done right and accessible to most people. I hate them when they are too hard for the best players unless they have perfect gear and third party software add-ons or if they go on too long (I'm looking at you Molten Core, Lucifron-decursive) Anyways the first one Turbine did that was with a manageable number is still challenging and fun (the rift) I can't wiat to see the second, though I hope they make the first two bosses easier, and the ramp up in difficulty more gradual so players don't get discouraged right away if they don't make the skill check. What do you guys think? What's the best way to design a raid? Hard bosses at the beginning or kind of random placement, or perhaps a chamber where you can go on different paths once you have beaten the previous ones (it could save it as a deed or something)

Friday, March 6, 2009

I had to try, too.

I am Sporkman, hear me roar!

I'm too hungry to ignore!

Now go here to make your own!

New Player Experience, my Two Bits

There that link is just so you know what this is about. So I am kinda mostly very excited about the fact that they are revamping the beginning of the game to be less of a fun sponge and more like a story that you play through without lots of running back and forth and crap. I also like that they have changed the exp curve of the game and added improvements to all of Ered Luin and Bree land, Its fine that they didn't touch the shire other than making you walk faster when you are carrying pies and mail, good changes all around. I have a little sad spot in my heart because I have already tried to get so many friends to play this game and only the ones who get past the newbie drudgery to the first few books adn dungeons really stick around. I am happy because whne I play this with my fiancee it will be from the beginning and it will be after book 7 has come out so I'll have new stuff to see as well as her, to whom it is all new.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Boy and his Blob

I remember this game!

A Boy and his Blob! You feed the Blob jelly beans and he changes into stuff! You have to fight evil aliens! I really like the idea of platforming on a bouncy ball and exploring neat and weird terrains. It looks like some talented artists are working on a new version of it for Wii, and its darn cute, but also looks like fun , hmmm. Maybe I'll ask for it for Christmas. Anyways, here's the source and also if you want a link to a fun boy and his blob remix!

What a load of bollocks!

In case you're bored, here's a list of fun things to say in British English and what they mean:

I've always wanted a jolly good list like this and now I have it, so I thought, maybe everyone else wanted a list like this too! So anyways check it out, its positively spiffing:)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009