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Showing posts from June, 2007

Wastes of Licenses Past, Present, and Future

What the hell is it with game developers who have no idea about the power of a license? Off the top of my head, I can think of three games from past, present, and future that serve as prime examples here.

Past: Star Wars Galaxies

Here is a subscription-based game that tried to deviate from a license and ended up, tragically, losing most of its subscription base in order to correct for their mistake.

The Star Wars movie series is one of action, adventure, and with a certain feeling of childish delight over seeing revealed the wonders of life across the universe. Star Wars Galaxies was released as an economics game. The action and adventure aspects were weak with the combat being heavily underdeveloped at the time (something they would spend the majority of their post-release time fixing). The only working activities at the time of release were socializing mechanics and trade skill. There was a fair variety of land to explore and creatures to meet, the "world" aspect was…

The Better X-Com

I had work to do this Sunday, I really did, but I found my procrastination supercharged by UFO: Afterlight. Yes, I'm aware that Cenega also made UFO: Aftermath and UFO: Aftershock, and both games could use improvement. However, Afterlight has got me hooked.

Gamespot gives it a 6.5. Well, Bret Todd's Afterlight Review might be a bit biased because the poor sap also had to slog through and review Aftermath and Aftershock. Having to face the same game through three refinements is bound to be tough on one's objectivity. The average review score is closer to 7.5, and that's thanks mostly to the game's tendancy to crash occasionally.

Compared to X-Com, there's only one base to build and there's no mini-game involving shooting down UFOs. However, these are forgivable because Afterlight just builds on it from there. What we have here is a better X-Com - even the pausing-enabled real time combat plays out better than the turn-based mechanism. Only nostalgia …

Spheres and Missiles

Though it's not been all I've been playing lately, Odin Sphere continues to impress with genuine craftsmanship. This is evident not only in the art but also in the painstaking execution of the plot.

At about the 9 hours of play, I completed the boss battle that brought the Valkyrie to the end of her story. At that point it switches to a whole new character, level 1 and dirt poor, who has new combat moves and his own story to tell. I expected it to be cheap reuse of the same old content, such as I've seen in other games where you unlock new characters to play, but there's actually a fair amount of exclusive content created specifically for this character's story. Given this trend, I'm in for a total of five unique stories, each with a good deal of unique content included, and possibly five "end-game" stories that lead to some kind of conclusion.

More Odin Sphere gameplay, courtesy of GTtv and stolen posted by some helpful YouTuber.

My only gripe ab…

Escaping The Clones

Well, I genuinely tried to avoid just purchasing Odin Sphere. I stepped into the Gamestop hoping to find another game of relatively original game play with high production values. However, this proved to be a most difficult endeavor. There's just so many clones these days.

That said, my search was not entirely fruitless.

The early days: How many clones do you see here? And they pulled all this off with 64KB of RAM and a roughly 1 Mhz processor.

For the PC, I almost bought Mark Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, but I'm not so desperate to "stick it to the man" that I want to play a game about street tagging. There was no sign of Overlord or UFO:Afterlight, otherwise I might have picked one or the other up. Yes, UFO:Afterlight is basically an X-Com clone, but there hasn't been a good one of those since X-Com 2 or 3, over a decade ago. (Silent Storm, while excellent, was not open-ended.) Thus, I already owned and bored of all the good PC games …

Seeking Grout Cleaner for the Mind

Right now, I'm looking at the fact that I've been playing City of Heroes for months, and barely anything else, and asking certain questions. Questions like, "Do I have some kind of learning disability?"

After all, if Raph Koster's theory was right and the fun in games comes from learning, and there's nothing left to learn from City of Heroes, then what other explanation would explain why I've been playing this game for months that I had burned out from months ago? I had a goal, get level 50 in City of Heroes, and I met it. It's time to move on. After all, if a rolling stone gathers no moss, then I've one gnarly full-brain yeast infection.

Unfortunately, I'm looking for something new, so I can't just resubscribe to the well-polished wonder that is EverQuest 2. I can't even bring myself to finish the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Shivering Isles expansion, such is how dreadfully overplayed that game is for me now.

No, I'm looking f…

Freedom From Grandeur: Journey = Destination

Blog post #100, coincidentally, coincides with a momentous gaming event for me:

I... who have been played every popular MMORPG (and several unpopular ones) since EverQuest.
I... who has been subscribed on and off to City of Heroes since its release and have a Zealous Badge to prove that I've been subscribed for at least 15 months.
I... who has said that the grind of all MMORPGs is merely a thing of evil that detracts us from a fun.
I... have finally reached the maximum level in an MMORPG.

Now what?

It was Psi-Caster, my Illusion/Storm Controller, who had the honor of becoming my level 50 hero. It took me about 200 hours, the last 30ish being spent during double experience weekend. I frittered away several times as much time playing other characters. If MMORPGs can be seen as a personality test then I wonder what all that alting would say about me. That, and how I ended up with such an oddball hero as my 50.

As excited as I am to finally have slogged my way to the end of …

I Got Procrastination On My Procrastination

If there's one thing that's particularly dangerous to double-dip, it's procrastination. In this case, we start with my playing City of Heroes. Then I participate in the 3-4 hour Numina Task Force. I notice I only generated a quarter of a level during all that. On some subtle level, I panic. Before I know it, I'm hanging around the City of Heroes message boards with a side trip to YouTube. Tuesday evaporates. Procrastinating from procrastination - now that's a penultimate paste of time.


"What the heck are those?"

So, can I reach level 50 during the upcoming Double Experience Weekend? Lets assume a default rate of a quarter level every 3 hours - a level every 12 hours. Double experience makes that every 6 hours. Given 36 hours during the upcoming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, that's 6 levels. Not bad, but I'll still be 4 levels short of my goal.

Maybe not. Much like the mighty Arcanaville of the City of Heroes forums, I'm afraid I'…

Bored of the Rings

Well, it's official: Lord of the Rings Online hasn't totally dominated my attention. Though I've played the release state game exclusively lately, today I only made time for City of Heroes. I found those three hours in Cryptic's City of Heroes more thrilling than during the last three days I spent playing Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online.
Thus, I'm back to playing City of Heroes primarily, gearing up for the upcoming double experience weekend. Psi-Caster has crested the big four-oh, with only ten levels left until 50.

I think it's the pacing that drove me back to City of Heroes the most. Traveling and combat are much quicker and more exciting. Honestly, I can't see how the two games can even compare, and maybe this is LOTRO's saving grace: the two games shouldn't be compared, they're just too different, they suit different approaches to playing MMORPGs. An abstract comparison I can draw is that, LOTRO is much more similar to the tradi…

True Roles of the Fellowship

One of the lead perks of alt-i-tus for me is the class balance discussions. I just love to see the interplay of the various professions the developers have designed into the game. Today, I turn my roving eye to the classes of Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar.

The funny thing about this game is the developers tried to make the class roles really simple by boiling them down into a few words, for example, "Nuker." Nevermind how immersion-breaking that is: For whatever reason, these official roles are often inaccurate. Fortunately, a little research is all it takes to assemble an understanding closer to the truth.


Class: Burglar
Official Role: Debuffer
Actual Role: DPS, Crowd Control, Off-Tank, Stealth, Debuffer, Conjunction Starter
Summary: A powerful combatant who does so on his own terms.
Burglar Role Breakdown

DPS - Burglers often out-damage the Hunters or Champions in the group and can pull the aggro off even a talented Guardian - if they get a particularly good st…

Cresting Mount Doom

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar has, thus far, failed to hook to me. It is not a bad game, but I've already played the fantasy MMORPG genre to death. Turbine has done a fairly good job of rounding up some of the best features of popular MMORPGs, as well as introducing a few new features of their own, but the overall experience feels derivative.


About the only way this game could interest me is if it were exceptionally deep or visceral, and so far it has not been. Activatable power variety per class, being an important measure for MMORPG quality for me, is about on par with your average American-made MMORPG and no greater. The animations are good, and the classes distribute the skill sets a little differently from your standard Warrior/Mage/Thief/Cleric setup, but it's not quite a saving grace.

I haven't given up yet, and currently plan to continue to experiment with the various classes in LOTRO and see if I can find one that plays in an entertaining fashi…

Defunk'd: Alting Over, LOTRO Begins

Somehow, I've found the way through the murky depths of City of Heroes burnout that spawned my last Blog entry. In the intervening time, I've made two faithful decisions that helped improve my outlook.

Decision 1: In City of Heroes, I'm playing my current highest level character to 50, and the rest be damned.

The lucky hero is Psi-Caster, my level 38 Illusion/Storm Controller. As of today, make that level 39. From here on out the treadmill is straight, not curved, with the same amount of even-level minions defeated to grant me a level. A level a day should be achievable, and thus, I might be level 50 before the end of my vacation on June 17th. Double experience weekend helps there, too. I'm essentially home free.

Psi-Caster's major malfunction is he's a slow soloing experience, so here's a thought: group. Problem solved! That I'm actually capable of soloing when a group isn't around is nice, and his wide array of chaotic control methods is …

Insecurity in the Face of Entertainment

File this one under, "It's my Blog and I'll whine about my personal problems if I want to."

I'll at least do you the courtesy of allowing you to choose whether or not you want to read it.

In the face of this City of Heroes board post, we come to the true and honest fact behind my alt-a-holicism in games: I'm insecure. I won't make excuses - suffice to say, I've always been a bit insecure, to the point where one might start wondering if it's genetics or environment. I might be a little more insecure than usual lately because I've been on a two day funk caused perhaps by a caffeine crash further bolstered by allergies. I don't like doing much of anything, much less stick to a single character in City of Heroes.

In any case, my insecurities have undermined my goal of getting level 50 with any one hero nicely. For that matter, my insecurities have prevented me from reaching the later levels in any MMORPG. How does one overcome their nagging…