Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gamestorming

Like brain storming, only related to gaming.

What if...at every X0 level (i.e. 10, 20, 30, etc) you were presented with the opportunity to take a snapshot of your Toon? And all their gear, Stats, enchants, etc, would be preserved, even though your Toon continues to level on to Cap.

Why might you do this? Or why should a game offer that feature?

What happens when you convince a friend to play? You & your buddies who've been playing for years are all at Cap, while your friend is a lowly Newbie. Oh sure, you can boost him through all the Instances, and power level his quests for him, but how much fun could that be, really? Your friend isn't playing the game, he's just got an Uber Bully of a friend destroying anything around him that poses a threat. Does he even learn how to play the game? What role his character should play in a group? Doubtful.

Now, what if you and several of your buddies could take snapshots of your Toons at 20, then when you convince another friend to start playing and it comes time for him to hit his first Instance, instead of him getting a boost through by your Uber Toon, he joins a party of his friends, all at level 20, and everyone is at just the right level for that Instance. Now he gets to experience the Instance with knowledgeable, but not overpowered friends, and he gets to actually play the game.

Instead what you get is a company with the mindset that the trip from 0-60/70/80 is just a chore, and they do everything they can to boost you to Cap themselves. XP/kill and XP/Quest gets jacked up. Toons at Cap get access to over-powered Hand-Me-Down gear to pass onto low level Alts. Even newly introduced Classes (only accessible to XPac players, mind you) get a speed boost, and start the game with the equivalent of 50-60 hours of leveling under the belts.

What does this tell you? Only that a company with such a game probably no longer cares for their low level content, and they're probably wondering how they can introduce the option to pay for a Capped character without breaking their game (or starting riots). And yet the workaround is simple. Anyone with a capped out Toon (and a copy of every expansion released to date) can just buy one. Oh, you don't have a capped out Toon? Better hurry up and level your Main to 80 then. Seriously, it doesn't take that long now. I mean we've tweaked the level grind so much that you practically gain a level every time you complete a Quest. What more do you want from us? It's either that, or more and more (& bigger & bigger) companies will begin offering paid-for power leveling services.

Seriously, who would you rather pay to have a Toon power leveled? Some dodgy company based in BFE (or God only knows where) who are more likely to get your Account banned during the weeks they have your Toon?

Or the gaming company themselves who just need to press a couple of buttons and Shazam! You've got a Capped Toon.

Yeah, if I was willing to pay for such a service, I know who I'd choose as well.

Of course me being me, I wouldn't be willing to do this, because regardless of what The Company (& its spokespersons might think), for me The Leveling is The Journey. I enjoy the grind to Cap because I can take my experiences and knowledge from previous trips and expand on them to facilitate my present and future journeys. Sure, it's blurring the line between Player Knowledge and Character Knowledge, but I don't care too much about that anyway. I might RP with my Toons sometimes, but it's not like I play on an RP server ;)

Penguins having a party

Maybe it's just me, but I don't get why this doesn't have a lot more hits...



As far as I'm concerned, the little clip here on my Blog doesn't do it justice. So if your bandwidth allows it, head over to the actual video on Youtube and hit the HD button to view it in it's full glory. It's something else.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MMOs defined

Get Fuzzy

It made me LOL ;)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Innovation in Gaming

First up, Ysharros has one of the best conversations going on over here. If you're interested in online gaming, for any reason, get over there. Lots of awesome dialog going on.

This weekend what I really wanted to do was play WoW, so I went online to set up another 10-day Trial Account. Except the link I have bookmarked didn't work, so I went to WoW's homepage and followed the links to the Trial Account creation page that way. But when I tried to create a Trial I was asked for an Activation Key, basically Blizzard wanted me to hit up a friend for a 10-day Trial key. I didn't have a Trial Key, and I certainly wasn't going to pay $1.99 for one.

It was a little frustrating because the webpage said I didn't need to input a Activation Key unless I wanted to upgrade to the full game, but it still had a field to input a Key, and when I didn't enter one it caused an error. So I visited the European site, created a Trial there without any problems until I tried to log in. WoW could probably tell I wasn't really in Europe, so it wasn't going to let me log in using a European Trial account. I wonder...how do Europeans go when visiting the States or Australia and they want to play a spot of WoW? Can they not log in, either?

More than a little frustrated I returned to the U.S/Pacific WoW page to give it one more shot. This time I managed to create a Trial account without being prompted for a non-existing Activation Key, and I rolled a Human Mage (my third favorite class, after the Hunter & Rogue, although Priests can be fun, too, if you don't care to be a PUG Healer). Around level 10 I was getting the urge to resubscribe, and was even mentally rolling my new race/class. I played for a bit more and around level 14 hit my first snag: the Defias. The first Defias Mobs were easy to bring down, even in pairs, but the second group you're asked to defeat contains Mages, like myself.

With the realization that I was playing a temporary toon, and with no access to the Auction House, I'd been selling pretty much everything that dropped (such as Linen Cloth) while forsaking any Trade Skills, such as First Aid.

When I encountered two Mages I wasn't too bad off. I'd set my Focus on one, cast my first Fireball, then Sheep my Focus before resuming the Fireballs on my original target. This gave me a leg up on my original target while ensuring I only faced one Mage. Except after the first Mage died I was low on health and still in combat, thus unable to eat or drink. Then Sheep wore off and the now less wooly but very irate Mage one-shot me.

I realized I needed First Aid, even as a Trial Toon. But to level First Aid I'd need Bandages, and to get Bandages I'd need Linen Cloth. I'd acquired plenty of Linen from the first group of Defias I'd killed...which I'd sold. So I'd need to go back and kill even more Defias to get the Linen I'd need to level First Aid and make enough Bandages to keep me alive while killing the Defias Mages.

And with that, I had an epiphany: If I resubscribed to WoW I'd have nothing to look forward to but an endless grind, killing thousands (or more) of Mobs.

NPC1: Hey there, Cap'n John. Them Foozles is a damn nuisance. They've eaten all the grass in my pasture, and now they're even eaten me cows! I need you to cut their numbers down a bit, so, get on out there and kill 10 Foozles for me.

NPC2: Nice work killing those Foozles for NPC1, Cap'n Foozle. Hee hee hee. I've got a job for you, too. I need 10 Foozle Horns, but they need to be Grade-A Foozle Horns, and not all Foozles is gonna drop Grade-A Horns, so you'll need to kill a lot more than just 10 Foozles to get the Horns I need. Well? What are you waiting for? Get out there and kill them Foozles!

NPC3: Well lookee here. If it isn't the Foozlenator himself. Haw haw! You're just the man I've been looking for. One of them damn Foozles stole my family heirloom! A near priceless, Golden Widget, and I want you to get it back. No! I don't know which one it was! All them damn Foozles look alike to me! Just get out there and kill Foozles until one of them drops me Golden Widget! There's a couple a slices of cheese in it for you. (Seriously, that link points to a real quest in WoW where you're asked to kill 20 Troggs, and your reward is 5 slices of cheese. You can tell the writers were feeling particularly creative that day, can't you?)

Kill, kill, kill.

What I want to know is...where's Harvest Moon: Online?

Where's the MMO that doesn't ask you to slaughter a gazillion Foozles just to level your Toon to some arbitrary number, just so you can join 4 or 9 or 24 other people for hours each night killing groups of Elite Foozles, and maybe have a shot at bringing down the Foozle King himself!

Where's the MMO that starts with you building a house somewhere, then "leveling" your Toon by working the land, or making clothes, or tools & farm implements, or stone & bricks, etc?

Where's the MMO that has one player grow and chop down trees, which he sells to another player to turn into lumber, which is sold to players to be turned into cabinets, tables & chairs, decorative window frames & doors, which are sold/used by yet more players to customize their in-game house to effect visible in-game changes that other players can see? (Phew! Take a breath!)

Where's the game that doesn't cater to the lowest common denominator and doesn't assume everyone is happy killing a gazillion Foozles?

Where's the innovation that took us from Space Invaders & Asteroids to Time Crisis & Street Fighter?

Everyone wants to build the next WoW, but they all seem to forget that without games like Ultima Online and Everquest (and without the old text-based DikuMUDs of yesteryear) there'd be no WoW.

Nobody wants to be someone else's stepping stone in the river of life, but without the stepping stones nobody can get to the other side.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

PC vs TV

I haven't completed Fable:TLC yet, but I did escape from prison (in the game!!!), and rescue my mother at the same time. That was a fun little scenario that had me replaying it when I tried to get creative. Eventually I followed the linear path the game wanted me to follow and I completed that scenario.

My W101 Necromancer is stuck in his mid-40s after doing the first couple of Dragonspyre quests.

I also restarted the GCN's Final Fantasy:Crystal Chronicles. It looks real pretty played via the Wii in progressive scan mode on a 50" plasma TV.

I haven't played Harvest Moon since getting the Wii, but it's been known to make my evening hours disappear, too.

What I have been doing is catching up on NCIS episodes, and the number of episodes on our DVR is down from maybe 15-20 (from two weeks ago) to just three. I still have (I think) 37 episodes to go, in order to be fully caught up.

There aren't many TV shows for which I'd consider buying the boxed sets but NCIS is one of those for which I'd be willing to do just that. I love the interaction between the characters, and it seems the actors are having a lot of fun with their roles. Either the writers are fething brilliant (actually, I think they are) or Bellasario gives his team a lot of creative license, because there have been quite a few times where I'd swear the actors improvised and added their own personal touch to the scene. Michael Weatherly seems to do this a lot, or perhaps he's just really captured the essence of DiNozzo.

I love the way the characters have evolved over time, too. McGee, while still the butt of many of DiNozzo's jokes, now stands up to his senior partner a lot more. In Stakeout (which I watched last night) DiNozzo sends McGee out for breakfast and he returns with DiNozzo's eggs, sunny side up.

"I wanted scrambled," whines DiNozzo. "This is the fourth time this week you've messed my order up."

"You want scrambled?" asks an indignant McGee. (Indignant? Where's apologetic McGee?) He walks over, grabs DiNozzo's tray of eggs, shakes it rapidly then slams it down. "Now they're scrambled!" He returns to the window to continue surveillance.

DiNozzo holds up McGee's foil-wrapped burrito. "I bet your burrito is exactly the way you want it," he says, then he throws the burrito and hits McGee in the back of the head with it.

McGee turns and glares at DiNozzo (a glaring McGee? o_O) who returns his stare. An unspoken "Let's do this!" passes between the two men and it's on, baby! MORTAL KOMBAT!!!

There is no way McGee would have stood up to DiNozzo like that in the first couple of seasons, and that character growth is part of what (IMO) makes NCIS such a great show. Maybe that's why I find myself sitting at my PC, unsure what to play, before finally turning on the TV.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shooting them should be legal

As I approached an intersection today the driver of a Ford Explorer waiting on the side street pulled onto the pedestrian crossing and either struck a cyclist, or scared him so badly he fell off his bike. If he did hit him it can't have been too hard because the cyclist got up, shook his fist at the driver, then climbed back on his bike and continued on his way.

I passed the intersection and the Explorer pulled out behind me, and because I wanted to make a right up ahead I moved over into his lane, about 50 metres in front of him. When I slowed down for the red light at the next intersection he made a move very typical of drivers of SUVs and other larger vehicles; He decided he didn't want to be behind my little Focus so he started to change lanes, except he forgot to do a head check. He was halfway into the next lane before he noticed the Scion next to him. I guess the Scion's driver was too busy avoiding being side swiped to use his horn, except in doing so he was letting the Explorer push him out of his lane into oncoming traffic. Fortunately for the Scion the light was red (with pedestrians crossing the road) so there was no oncoming traffic.

Incredibly, within the space of 30 seconds, I'd just witnessed the same driver almost cause two accidents, both because he was not cognizant of his surrounding traffic conditions. Some people really do not deserve their license.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yup, I've got this, too...

(Click to view sharper image)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Gamers' Fiction Podcast - Episode 2

If you're so inclined, the second episode of the Gamers' Fiction Podcast is now out. You can listen to our latest readings by following this link ;)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Screenshot Meme

Someone out there tagged me (I can't remember who) and as I really only took Screenshots for the World of Warcraft, and because there's still a few kicking around on my hard drive, what I'll actually do is throw up some of the (IMO) more amusing or interesting ones.

This is not Kwazimoto, and it's also not Cyboarg, although it is a Dwarf Hunter of mine with his pet Boar. I noticed while sitting down on this boat that my Pig forgot all about the concept of personal space, so I used that to my advantage and deliberately set up this shot. I'm sure those of you who play Horde think it's a considerable improvement ;)

The culmination of almost a year's in-game work saw a level 63 Kwazimoto finally acquire Rhok'delar. I killed all the Demons bar Klinfran while still a pre-BC 60, and almost gave up on him and Rhok, and then I performed the Kite of my life.

Just one level later I replaced the level 60 Epic Hunter Bow with a common Blue obtainable to any player (not just elite Hunters) bored enough to slaughter countless beasties.

One of the last 60 Epics I replaced was the Dragonstalker's Helm. It was proof that I'd been there when the dragon known as Onyxia had been defeated. With me is the real Cyboarg, who prompted quite a few players to send me complimentary whispers about my awesome pet :)

Just as a long-time Guildmate finished running my Gnome Warrior through Razorfen Downs a GM whispered me. He told me my Warrior's name was in violation of Blizzard's naming policy, that he was about to log me out, and that I'd have to rename my Warrior before I could play him again. Sure enough within seconds I was kicked out of the game, and when I tried to log back in on Knuttjob this is the screen I saw.

I found my fun in WoW where ever I could. In this shot, although it wasn't necessary for effective combat, I felt compelled to balance Knuttjob on the top rail of the fence as he fought his considerably taller skeletal foe.

I used to have a lot of fun in WoW with my niece. Often we'd play Hide & Seek where one of us would hide within a previously agreed upon area, then the other would try to find us. I discovered that by lying down in this particular corner, Zerka (as he'd later become known, after the forced name change) actually buried his head in the ground.

When my niece eventually found my upside down Gnome she felt compelled to nail him with a snowball.

Dismayed over the collapse of the Guild to which I'd belonged for over three years, I fled the Alliance and rolled Horde. One of my former Guildmates followed me and together we leveled up a Warrior and a Rogue. We stopped leveling (briefly) at 29 to engage in some semi-twinked PvP and this is the result of one of our matches. Of the two of us, my Guildie (& former Arena partner) was always the better player, so when this Match Summary popped up at the end of one (very) successful WSG match I knew I had to take a screenshot. The three players above me (Keeljah) were seriously Twinked out; Keelmeh, the player immediately below me, is my Guildie. Not only did I finish higher than Keelmeh but I was one of just two Horde players in that match who did not die.

When my old video card died I splurged and picked up a GeForce 8800GT, and one of the first things I did with it was boot up WoW and hit the "Max All Graphics" Macro. This Macro maxes out the graphics even more than allowed using the in-game Video Options silders. This was the "after" screenshot, and the FPS of 43.7 is down from 110.

That's all folks. I think I'm a little late jumping on this screenshot meme bandwagon, so I'm not going to tag anyone else because anyone who wanted to do it most likely has already.