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Showing posts from November, 2006

Issue 8 Alt-A-Holicism

I had a plan A. I would get Nanites (my Spines/Dark Armor Scrapper) or Psi-Caster (my Illusion/Kinetics Controller) to level 50 before Issue 8 came out so I could start over with a Kheldian and enjoy the new content. Unfortunately, thanks to my taking a month off to play Phantasy Star Universe and Neverwinter Nights (and about 3 days of EQ2) I'm afraid I've failed in that goal. Issue 8 has arrived and my highest level character is level 34, just 16 short of my goal.

Fortunately, I also had a Plan B, which went like this: In the event I don't have level 50 by the time Issue 8 is released, start a Blaster. The rationale was that I liked having a few control powers but didn't much like the lack of damage on the Controller. A Blaster sounded like a pretty good compromise. On another level, a Blaster is a bit like a bit like a more challenging but powerful Scrapper: Swap out the powers that give the Scrapper durability (essentially a margin of error) and turn it into …

EverQuest vs. City of Heroes (Combat)

My experiments with EverQuest 2 have drawn to a close. Despite it being a pretty solid game, it has not hooked me in the way MMORPGs are supposed to in order to keep them siphoning money on a monthly basis. Like some kind of entertaining but nonetheless parasitic lamprey.

Thus, I decided to drop actual cash into the sucking maw of yet another fish in the sea, and resubscribed to City of Heroes. Core impressions of the gameplay follow.

So far, I'm enjoying being reintroduced to City of Heroes, and I've partly my new video card to blame for breathing new life into this game. Despite the age of City of Heroes, City of Villains' release tweaked the engine in such a way that it had a lot of filters and whatnot that made the game very awkward on my older system. Now, the game runs nice and fluid at nearly maximum settings. Another nice thing about this game is I can alt-tab out of it without crashing it, something that EQ2 can't seem to do for me... but that's pro…

Tweaking Norrath: Finding the Fun

As I've elaborated extensively in my last entry [edit: which has been removed because extensive elaboration of games is an unproductive focus] I've been having a hard time getting back into EverQuest 2. It's not that I hate the game - I actually had a pretty friendly relationship with it up until recently. So it's unfortunate that here I've resubscribed to EverQuest 2, partly for the very reason as to document it on my shiny new game blog, only to find myself running into a brick wall of apparent burnout that may drive me out just as quickly.

Then it hit me: Maybe I'm going at this all wrong.

Finding the fun missing in EverQuest 2 has been my effort this Thanksgiving weekend, albeit it has been one of mixed results. It's sort of hard to enjoy the "massively multiplayer" when half the players are totally inaccessible due to a recent expansion, after all. But I have undergone several efforts to justify the $15 of my wallet's soul I willing…

Antonican Isolation Trauma

My romance with Neverwinter Nights 2 and Phantasy Star Universe has come to an end. Thus, I fled with open-arms to a familiar flame, EverQuest 2, and started a subscription yesterday.

I canceled my subscription already.

Why? Because most of the player base is off on vacation in Feydwer via the new Echoes of Faydwer expansion. I don't have that expansion and so the active players at my level range are cut randomly between 33% - 66% of being in EoF versus not. MMORPGs make or break themselves on their grouping opportunities - without which, they're just RPGs (usually crappy ones). Echoes of Faydwer is yet another expansion just pushes EverQuest 2, often a game with too much terrain and too little players, further past the breaking point.

Unpacking my bags in Norrath

After much intensive debate about whether I want to subscribe to EverQuest 2 or City of Heroes, I eventually decided EverQuest 2 it was. I suspect that the main tiebreaker was simply because I've no EverQuest 2 entries on this blog yet. So far, it's looking like I may have chosen poorly.

I'm not sure how I pulled it off, but I spent somewhere between 2 to 3 hours just trying to figure out which of my preexisting characters to pick up. The main contenders were a level 27 Ratonga Swashbuckler Armorcrafter, a level 27 Erudite Illusionist Sage, and a level 20 Half-Elf Monk Woodworker. The Monk was soon weeded out when I remembered my complaint with having too much abilities dedicated to attacks instead of more of a variety of effects.

This left the Swashbuckler and Illusionist, who were pretty much tied in terms of time investment and quest completion. I waffled between those two a lot before deciding that the Illusionist was simply a more effective choice - if I can play…

Gaming Inertia Lost: NWN2, PSU

There comes a certain time when a dedicated gamer has to admit he's miserable with what he's playing. In about a month I'm afraid that time has come for Neverwinter Nights 2 and Phantasy Star Universe. I lost inertia, thanks to my video card getting replaced by a hot new one that left me buzzing between old games and seeing how much quicker they run and which ones crap out due to what I assume is a power supply problem. Now that the inertia has died down and proven stubborn to remobilize, I'm both in a pretty good position to ream these games with negatively biased impressions and hurting for something to do... so here we are.

I might have been more excited about Neverwinter Nights 2 if I had not played it before it came out. I'm talking about all the D20 Bioware RPGs, from Baldur's Gate to Knights of the Old Republic. They all involve the same game with slightly difference balances: a D20 core where the best min/maxer wins and the rest of us keep reloadin…

The Warranty Is Your Friend

While confronting the main boss at the end of Act 1 of Neverwinter Nights 2, I made some steady progress in Neverwinter Nights 2, confronting the main boss at the end of Act 1, or at least what I interpreted as such. After the fourth reload, it had turned out to be a very tough fight. So tough, it seems, that it broke my video card.

Figuring it was probably overheating to cause such nasty 3D artifacts, I shut down my computer before the whole thing melted. When I brought it up again 10 minutes later, I discovered the surefire evidence of Video RAM damage: streaks across the plain text screen of the CMOS startup. Windows booted readily enough, but with corruption on plain 2D textures and absolutely fubar'd 3D geometry in NWN2. It was time to face facts: My Radeon All In Wonder 9800 Pro had seen its last boot cycle. Incredible, I don't even overclock my hardware and it breaks.

I had picked up the 9800 Pro in February of 2005, so a one-year warranty wouldn't have done m…

Two RPGs and an old-fashioned Adventure Game

Today, I talk about Neverwinter Nights 2, Phantasy Star Universe Online, and Sam & Max Episode 1: Culture Shock.

Neverwinter Nights 2

I've started playing Neverwinter Nights 2 but, up until recently, it's run like crap. It turns out that XFire was to blame for robbing me of some 20 frames per second. and now that I've regained quite a few frames per second, it plays less like crap and more like an upgrade of the original Neverwinter Nights. Kinda makes me wonder why I let this obtrusive thing sit in my systray - is generating a list of games I've been playing lately really worth all this?

As for Neverwinter Nights 2 itself, the best thing I can say about it is that the single player campaign is both longer and more interesting than in the original Neverwinter Nights. Only after about 15 hours of play did I finally manage to unlock access to the Blacklake District, and the characters are interesting in the typical Bioware sort of way. In other words, they each h…

Mixed Drink Contentment

One game is bound to get boring sooner or later. The premise of Raph Koster's book, A Theory of Fun, offered a good explanation as to why: The brain completely learns what the game has to offer and then the game becomes too easy and boring. However, I've found a couple ways to compensate for this natural process. First, there's actively focusing on paying attention more, which directly combats the brain's natural tendacy to ignore things once it figures they've been learned. Second, and this is what this blog entry is spurred from, there's the diversifying the game load between two or more games.

There's certain ups and downs to playing multiple games at once. Trying to play too many games at once, I've decided, is overkill. I really can't properly appreciate several games when I'm switching between them. Hard working game developers have put thousands of hours of their lives into making this the game, I ought to slow down and find what t…