Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WoW Cataclysm...Tricked me to play again, ha

With a free 7-days of WoW offer in my mailbox, I ended up connecting with work friends and did in fact re-subscribe after 2 years of avoiding it to save money.

Anyways, Cataclysm is here...Half of Stormwind is gone and there's a Tauren settlement squeezed into the back of Orgrimmar. It's definitely a new world! Dalaran in Northrend no longer has portals to the other parts of the world. A few mages were making a killing in gold offereing portals, I happy traded 5 gold to go see the changes in Stormwind.

I'm currently focusing on a new character, now level 13, a blood elf named Alida on Azjol-Nerub, along with two work friends, we're going to play through the early content and see what's new!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Playing RPG's with your kids

A few weeks back I started my son on Zelda games. He watched me play through the 2nd quest of Zelda, then I even got him to play for an evening on his own.

Soon when we were outside, he just wanted to run around and pretend to fight Ganon with his toy sword. Random things outdoors became secret passages, and monsters were everywhere, just swing around your toy weapon.

I decided next to get him Zelda: A Link to the Past (Super NES Zelda), one of my all-time favorites, and closer to the original Zelda than any other since. He watched me play through that game the 2 weeks that followed.

We finished Zelda: A Link to the Past, and I had to find what we could play next. On a visit to a used game store I found Gameboy Advance-Gamecube connector cables at a great price. I had Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles in my collection, but hadn't really played it much. To play 2-4 players, you have to have the connector cables.

So I brought those home on Saturday, and my son and I finally played a 2-player rpg together for the first time. This was a pretty amazing experience.

He has just enough experience with games now, that if I tell him a few times to go left and point my hand, he can usually go the way I ask. I can even tell him to follow my character on the screen and he does pretty good with that, too.

Playing with my 3-year-old boy is also an amazingly challenging and satisfying game experience...He has enough coordination to walk and fight, while I handle Cure and Life Spells to keep him running. We walked through the first level of the game, and I hardly used any attack powers period.

It's pretty exciting to see a little baby grow three years, and finally become a playmate sophisticated enough to play games that even I enjoy right alongside me.

When we get to the boss (He knows alllll about bosses now), he gets excited, and sometimes jumps and screams. The frantic fighting that ensues is rather intense for both of us, and at the end, I get a big hug and an "I love you, daddy." True gamer father-son bonding right there.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

WoW for a week

I just got an email from Blizzard, inviting me to play 7 days of WoW before Cataclysm comes out...I'm actually excited about this because I was only recently in another lull of missing WoW but not having spending money available for additional games. Yay for free game time!

It seems like a really good marketing ploy to hand out free game time to people whose accounts have been inactive for long periods of time. Smart thinking, Blizzard...I'm somewhat tempted to keep playing, though I would need spending money again...we'll see!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lesson in Big Bang Development

Warning: the below content is astonishingly obvious stuff that could change the video game industry but just won't unless they gain a truly amazing perception of the obvious.

Here's a software development lesson for you that I thought up while stuck in traffic on the way home today: There are two ways to develop software. Big Bang, and Pay As You Go.

Big Bang involves coding a bunch of stuff and then testing i to see if it works. If it doesn't work, you try and figure out what went wrong, someplace back on line 546 or perhaps line 1234 of your code. Shoot, now I need to change the combination on my luggage... This can apply to coding but it also applies to politics, (making bills for healthcare that are too large for anybody to understand), music (Beethoven wrote and rewrote his works line by line I'm sure) and anything else created that's worthwhile.

Pay As You Go involves lots more testing, testing every step of the way. Seasoned good developers do this all the time. I am sure that, in the code sense, developers in every company do this because its the only way to get done in a reasonable amount of time because if something goes wrong, you know exactly where it is because you JUST wrote it.

Where am I going with this thought? Why is this significant if everyone already does it? Well the thing is, NOBODY does this with testing with consumers (except for perhaps Minecraft which has let everyone buy its alpha product) Now there have been (ahem.. lame. ahem...) reasons for this over the years. But most of it boils down to being steeped in tradition and coddled in safety. Video game companies sell things in huge installments because they want good reviews from the content locusts. If they sold them in small, incremental chunks and adapted to customer feedback, kind of like a service, it would make a lot more sense. (Here comes my tinfoil hat) You would see a lot more success and better funner games in the MMO sphere and a lot less plunking out of what people don't want. Untested, stale, grindy content. I call for a revolution in making games, a common sense revolution. Unless we want most of our MMO's to be like fireworks. Bright for an instant then burn out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Finally Beat the Second Quest!

I don't remember if I beat the second quest in Zelda 1 when I was a kid. I probably did, but I'm not certain.

I bought the Virtual Console version 4 years ago, when Wii was brand new and there were only 5 NES titles to download. Since I've been playing it infrequently, the first quest of Zelda took about a year and a half to complete.

Last week, I was still on level 4 of the second quest. But I played it early last week, and my 3-year-old started to take interest. His favorite things to do were to spin around and fall down when I died, wave his toy sword at the screen whenever a monster was on it, and talk endlessly about secret passages.

It dawned on me too that secret passages are so much more fun when there's one in every single screen of a game, and why don't more games hide an endless array of them like this old, tried-and-true classic? It seems like the newer Zelda games even only give you a few boulders here and there, clearly marked, spaced by vast regions that do little more than ensure that the area takes a little longer to traverse.

After beating the second quest, another fun thing happened...I got my 3-year-old to start up his own game. For the last week he's been cheerleading my playing, but upon starting his own game, he built up from not knowing even how to walk up, down, left, or right, to actually walking around while hitting the sword button and watching the screen all at once in 45 minutes...And he's never played a game that long before (unless you count dancing to Beatles Rock Band). I'm excited to see where this kid goes now that his attention span and skill is finally developed enough to handle Zelda.