Archive for April, 2010

DA:O Round 2

April 28, 2010

It has been quite a while since Dragon Age: Origins first dropped. I will always have an interesting connection with this game because it is the first game that I really blogged about in any detail. That being said, I played through it at a breakneck pace so that I could finish it and give it a review in a timely manner. In retrospect this was a big mistake as I have been reluctant to get back into the game since then because I have some bad feelings kicking around in my head about that. Anyway, I have been giving EQ2 a bit of a break to catch my breath with it and I decided to finally get back into DA:O. Here are some things that I have experienced as of late.

  • The first time I played through, I used a warrior as my PC. After all this blog is named “The Meat Shield” and this was the game I was cutting my teeth on. This turned out to be a bad idea simply because I was playing through as a good character and that really left me with only one mage to use because Morrigan would just get ticked off at all of my righteous decisions. As you may have read elsewhere, this game is very difficult if you don’t have two spellcasters in your group. The second time through I made a mage and now between my PC and Morrigan (respecced of course) we mow through content. Much better!
  • There are a ton of Mods out there now. If you go to the BioWare community website, there are pages upon pages of mods! I believe half of them are pointless (i.e. nude mods or somesuch) but there are a few that seemed pretty neat. There are also a number of player made adventures though I admit I have not tried any. Of note there looks to be a project to port Baldur’s Gate II to the DA:O engine. I can’t even imagine the effort involved in that. I picked up this one that allows you to bash open a locked chest if you don’t have a lock picker along.

  • Besides the respec mod and the campsite storage chest mod, I found one that allows you to bring your dog along as a fifth character. It could be considered cheating I suppose. I always felt that I wanted to bring the puppy along in my first play through, but I never wanted to waste a character slot on him. Now I don’t have to! I am looking to drop Wynn (though having three mages is way cool even though a bit over powered) and Shale and pick up Oghren and Zevran. The golum is pretty neat, so I may change my mind and keep him.
  • The second time through so far is less rewarding as far as the story goes, but has been neat to see all the things I missed the first time through. I am currently keeping an eye on the game banshee walkthrough to help me find some things I missed when I just plowed through it before.

All-in-all I am finding it nice to relax and take this game slow. If I make it through a couple of rooms in a gaming session, that’s fine. I can pause right where I am and start up there when I load the game the next time. That is one thing I don’t miss about MMO’s.

-Pid

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On the Horizon

April 27, 2010

I read the latest edition of PC Gamer the other day and I found myself getting really excited about some new games that are on the horizon. I have had my eye on them for quite some time, but I guess the fact that they are almost here has gotten me thinking about them a lot more than I have in the past.

Anyway I am patiently waiting for Blizzard to finally declare Starcraft II “Done.” A lot of people are saying it is just Starcraft I with new graphics, but I can only assume that this is in reference to the multiplayer aspect of the game. I rarely play these games in multiplayer mode, but rather really enjoy spending an hour or two building up an impenetrable base and then sweeping out and wreaking destruction on the opponent all the while keeping an eye on the back story.

I am also chomping at the bit to get my hands on Mafia II when it releases. I could take or leave the GTA games, but the original Mafia was a really cool game because once again it had a great story. Am I getting predictable…is there a theme here? The concept in the sequel is pretty much the same as the original: Average Joe falls into work for the mob and then the game follows his story through to some form of completion. The original more or less was a video game that followed the story of Goodfellas. The original was set back in the 20’s-30’s complete with vintage cars and music. II appears to be a little more modern, but still looks to be a period piece.

I’m not sure if it is that I am a little bored with EQ2 at the moment (I think I hit it too hard in the beginning but do want to get back to it soon) or what, but I have even found myself logging some hours in MLB 2K10 and I even fired up DA:O today to work on progressing with my second play through. I am looking to play through as a mage with a propensity to be evil instead of the goody-two-shoes warrior that I played through originally.

So what games are you looking forward to? Are they MMO’s or some other genre?

-Pid

AOC Free From Play

April 27, 2010

Now this is an interesting concept even though it sounds like a new subscription model (FFP). Age of Conan released an update that will allow you to gain levels while you are not even playing the game! I am not quite sure what I think about that yet, but here is how this works. The game will give your account a pool of level-ups that you can apply to any of your characters that are at least level 30 or higher. It started with every account getting 4 “free” levels and then every four days, the account gets another level that you can distribute to any eligible character. Those are real time days, not days played or anything. The only requirements are an active account and a level 30 character.

Here is what I can see as the benefits of this system:

  • If you have a character or two that are max level you can do end game content with them while slowly building up an alt without slogging through the content again.
  • If you go on vacation, have a rough week at work, or your computer spontaneously decides it needs a vacation…you are actually getting some progress and not completely wasting that time or money.
  • People who just don’t generally have that much time can somewhat keep up with their friends that may have more free time.
  • If you are stuck in the doldrums of some level tier you can get a boost to help speed you through it!

On the other hand, I can see some caveats:

  • Is it fair to people who did the slogging themselves?
  • People might not learn to play their character well due to skipping through much of the content.
  • There is no undo button so if you regret skipping over content, there is nothing you can do about it.

Okay, so the drawbacks are not as many as the benefits, but in the  end if you don’t want to use them you don’t have to. I think it is an interesting idea and I will have to keep my ear to the ground to see if there is any fallout from it.

-Pid

Edit

Apparently Syp does not see this as a positive to MMORPG’s … that or he is just cranky today!

Scorpion the TOR Bounty Hunter

April 23, 2010

As mentioned at Bio Break, ITG, and Darth Hater there is a new video out containing a bunch of footage about combat in the upcoming BioWare MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was about 12:30 AM when I started watching it. I had just gotten home from work and I was scarfing down a Southwest Turkey Salad and I almost had to wipe ranch dressing off of my monitor when I saw the Bounty Hunter’s ability to grapple their opponent. The only thing that came to mind was “Get over here!” as made famous by Scorpion from Mortal Kombat!

I’m worried that if I play that class I will spend most of my night saying “cummere” and freaking my sleeping wife out! On the other hand it does look pretty cool.

The devs were explaining how combat animations were really great and if you were a force wielder you wouldn’t just look like you were swinging a sword back and forth all day. While it did look like the animations were more complex than just waving the light saber back and forth, they didn’t seem that much better than any other game…at least to me. The game as a whole does look pretty cool though and the interactions between characters looked pretty synced up. I’m not sure if the video was displaying PvP or PvE, but if the PvP animations work that well at release I will be rather impressed.

I must give props to the developers though, they have made quite an effort to make the non-force using classes look appealing to play. The trooper has this massive gun that I’m sure will be the brunt of many an off color comment, the smuggler or agent (not sure which) has a portable shield generator that they can crouch behind for cover, and the bounty hunter has missiles! Let’s see Masewindoo or Yoduh deflect a missile with his light saber!

-Pid

SOE Marketing Genius

April 22, 2010

Okay so maybe it is not genius, but it is pretty smart. A couple of days after announcing a new $5 for 3 days payment plan, they just so happen to have a bonus XP weekend. Coincidence? Probably not, but I would love to see just how many folk take advantage of this. Maybe SOE will publish the results…maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates will win the World Series…hey, it could happen! Well, if you are one of the 3 day EQ2 weekend warriors, maybe I’ll see you in Norrath this weekend.

-Pid

Interesting Emails From SOE

April 21, 2010

I received two interesting emails from SOE yesterday:

Email the First – Apparently SOE is starting a new pricing plan for Everquest 2 which will allow people with inactive accounts to pay five bucks to play for three consecutive days in any given thirty day period. So essentially if you get an itch to see what is new in EQ2 or want to catch a bonus XP weekend or maybe even two box a second account for a short duration (they actually are promoting two boxing in the email!) it’ll cost you a Lincoln.

I think this is a pretty neat idea and is generally good for both SOE (mo money) and players. I am glad to see MMO companies trying something new with pricing schemes. I think maybe having a pay per hour scheme would be a good alternative scheme to have as well. Possible pay $0.50 an hour up to $20 in a given month or something. That way paying $15 a month is a little discounted if you choose to use the flat rate model, but if you just play on weekends or something, you are not footing the whole $15 when you are really only using $6-7 of it.

Email the Second – This one is interesting…apparently EQ1 is allowing mercenaries in Raids now. For those not familiar with EQ1, the Seeds of Destruction expansion introduced mercenaries which essentially are computer controlled player characters. They came in two flavors, tank and healer, and cost a bit of game currency to rent their services. There was a bit of an outcry from the hard core players, but for the most part, they were well received by the player base. The mercenaries could pretty much be used in all content except for raids, but apparently that ban has been lifted and now you will probably find many raids that have a plethora of mercs in them in place of actual PC’s.

I have some mixed feelings about this, but I generally see this as a declining MMO trying to hold on to as much of a player base as it can for as long as it can before shutting down. Unlike some of the modern games, EQ1 had very large raid requirements for a lot of the content (something like 32 characters or more, I can’t remember). With the flagging population on the servers I can imagine getting that many folks together could be difficult for any guild. That is good, but at what point do you just come to grips with the fact that it is time to move on? I’m sure there will be people logging into EQ1 until they power down the servers forever, but at some point you would think SOE could spend the EQ1 resources on other areas. Time will tell what this new adaptation will do for the game. Heck, maybe if they start a $5 weekend for EQ1 I might check it out again.

-Pid

Edit:

Apparently I am a Johnny-come-lately to this topic…here are links to a few other articles…

Stylish Corpse

Stillwater

Bio Break

MMO Symposium

Spinksville

Tobold

Apparently I guy can’t sleep anymore without everyone else in the world writing about the same topic! LOL

Everquest 1: Losing its place

April 13, 2010

I’ve loved video games for as long as I can remember… original Nintendo, Gameboy, SEGA, SNES, N64, PS2, Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. I like a wide variety of games, but it seems that I find one, MAYBE two titles per console that I love and will play the ever loving crap out of them. With the NES it was Legend of Zelda. I’ve played it through probably 300 times by now (yes, I still play it). On SEGA it was NHL 92 (I think that was the year). On N64 it was Goldeneye 007 & Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  On Xbox and Wii my big games are Resident Evil 4 & 5 and Call of Duty: MW and MW2.

As I’ve said before, I find one or two games I really enjoy and I play every little thing about the game. More recently in my life, mainly due to being able to afford an actual gaming PC, I’ve started playing PC versions of games. About 3-4 years ago, I started in on a whole new type of game, one I’d never really paid any attention to; MMORPGs.

Everquest 1/Classic/Old (whatever you like to call it) was my first MMO, introduced to me by my brother. I was unsure how much I was going to like a game I had to pay for every month. As you can imagine, I tried it played a few different classes and races and VOILA, I was hooked. At this time I was working full-time for a major computer manufacturer, but I was working 3 or 4 twelve-hour shifts. So I had plenty of time to play EQ on my days off, and I did. I would spend hours and hours grinding out levels and AAs. I made a few good buddies in the game, two of which I still talk to. One of those good buddies is the main contributor of this blog.

I played EQ1 a ton; I had an account full of characters that differed in race, class, and deity orientation. In my opinion there were no other games on the PC for me to play, anytime I was playing a game it was EQ. After a few years I grew tired of the seemingly endless grinding, antiquated graphics, dated UI and the ever annoying lack of people willing to group with anyone outside their guild or friends list. Even with all of that considered I did, and still do, have a special place in my heart for EQ1. It’s my first MMO, the one that started it all for me, the game that showed me that I’ll be paying a recurring fee for a video game for the rest of my life. After toying around with a few MMOs that had me uninstalling them mere hours after their download, I went back to EQ until…..

About a year ago Pid and I started on an epic quest all our own: the search for the game that would replace EQ1 for us, for good. We stumbled upon DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) and enjoyed the fact that it was free and did not have the suck factor that most other free games did. After our DDO excitement fizzled, we eventually found our way back in the neighborhood of Sony Online’s Everquest franchise. This time, however, we were downloading a trial of Everquest 2. After just mere hours of playing, I think we both knew that we had found our replacement. After the trek of games we played through, it wasn’t too difficult to make the call. Everquest 1 sucked royally in many departments, all the other games we tried were barely entertaining but Everquest 2 pretty much improved on the game we liked initially.

A few months later, bringing us to present day, we’re still solely involved in EQ2. I’m enjoying the absolute crap out of the few hours a week I get to play. It gives me a chance to go away from real life for a few moments and I get every bit of gaming excitement out of it that Everquest 1 brought me. All things considered Everquest 1 still holds a special place in my heart, but its real estate is dwindling. Moral of the story: Even though it’s a bit dated, try out Everquest 2. If you don’t like it, try out Everquest 1, it’ll make you love the sequel.

I’m a Man on the Edge

April 9, 2010

Rather a mouse on the edge…of Tier 5 that is. I managed to hit Level 39 today before heading to work. It has been really slow going as of late, mostly due to my work schedule leaving me very little time, or energy to game. I have crammed in an hour here or there, but nothing too crazy.

I did manage to get a tricked out UI for the game from here. It has a few pretty cool features but the main reason I got it was that I wanted to be able to see all my experience bars at once. This is probably trivial, but how hard is it to program an XP bar that has six lines instead of two? Hell, I’d settle for 3 lines and sacrifice the fine tuning lines. Anyway, the first few times I logged in (in retrospect it was probably using different characters) the game really took a long time to load, but it seems to be working out well now. We shall see.

I am hoping to install windows 7 on my computer tomorrow. I finally got a 32 bit version after finding out my processor did not agree with 64 bit. That should make me happy even if it doesn’t make EQ2 work better.

-Pid