Friday, February 27, 2009

Darkfall Gets Trumped By WoW!

If you have been reading the latest from the pillar of the anti-UO community, you will have noticed that Darkfall has been having some issues with their launch and login servers...

Well, WoW in an attempt to regain our attention has been having their own login server isssues all afternoon. This must be some sort of sympathy for the new guy on the block from WoW.

Good job Blizzard! You can never be out done!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Freakazoids, Robots, Please Report To The Dance Floor...

Mydnightstar, my warlock is finally level 80. First thing to do was run a 5 man in Naxx and see what the hell is going on with this gear in PvP.

My warlock's gear is Season 2 PvP gear I believe was handed down from the arenas after a couple of seasons past. It is safe to say that I am no longer geared well for PvP. I don't know how bad it really is, but I don't see as many other warlocks wearing S2 gear as I did before in the battlegrounds.

I am getting pwned pretty hard in PvP right now, but I found some epic gear for this toon in Wintergrasp. I didn't realize previously how important this zone would become and it is obvious what happened to all the people in the older battlegrounds. Wintergrasp has badges and stuff you can get from being the winning team when the battles occur about every 2.5 hours. Once you win you have access to all of the cities resources which includes high-end vendors and a raid dungeon which I am sure is loaded with phat lewt and other things. I haven't been in there yet to find out.

My DK is still doing pretty good in PvP with nothing but my superior items I aquired from quests. I hear a lot of grumbling about how they will be nerfed in patch 3.1, but I don't know how it will actually play out.

Warlocks as of right now are not seeing much love. I don't think mages are either. I can disrupt people and once in awhile kill them, but most of the time, they just obliterate my arse once they become aware that I am right in their face.

Playing the Horde side of PvP has helped me greatly in understanding what it takes to win. While Alliance is very much a "defense" minded group, Horde is more about using force to just overthrow everything. Even at the cost of not leaving a soul at a base, the horde will just go in mass and powerdrive everything. They call it Zerging, I call it ganking, whatever you like to call it, this works most of the time.

Leading me to my funny story of the day. Last night I was playing Warsong just for fun as my warlock. I jump on my horse, ride out to the Horde base and get to their flag room. I wait. I wait for someone of a "tank" nature to come get this damn flag but no one was coming. So I thought, "What would the Horde do?". I picked that sucker up and started running. Now, I had a few dots show up on my screen of people wanting to help me, and I was very excited since I never pick up that flag for any reason being a clothy and all. But, they all vanished after a few moments and I was on my own for most of the trip. I get to the Alliance side of the zone, and run down the long main hallway to victory. I get into the flag room, and there are a couple of Hordies, so I turn back around and run towards the exit to the roof. I get into a slight battle there, I fear them and then I made my b-line to the flag platform.

Ten feet to go, I got obliterated. Well now I am excited because I almost made it. So, I try again. However, the Hordies now know I am a crazy warlock without shame enough to know I shouldn't carry that flag and they destroy me on site. On my way back to the Horde flag room, someone says "Hey Mr. Warlock, don't pick up the flag especially if you are wearing level 70 PvP gear plz". To which I responded "Oh, I am sorry, I didn't see YOU picking up anything". All was quiet as I headed out to the Horde flag room to see they had our flag about to be capped for the second time. There was a small battle going on in the room so I started to fire on the flag carrier and wham! The Hordie was dead and I got an achivement called "Save The Day". It is not an easy one to get based on all the requirements of "kill the enemy who is carrying your flag in the opposing team's flag room while the opposing team's flag is at their base, within their control." Pretty cool eh? I thought so.

Anyway, we lost the battle, but I know the guy that talked crap to me about my gear was at least put in his place over the fact that I got that acheivement, and I had the balls to carry that flag to victory no matter what the cost.

In other news, Darkfall finally released after not releasing because of an issue with pre-orders. If you would like to see why I probably won't be playing this one, and if you really like to have your IQ drop, then please watch this...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rollin With The Homies...

Well, not too busy lately. I have my DK parked for a few while I work the Warlock to 80 now. I find it difficult to be super motivated because I just did all of these quests once, and you know that is like WORK. So, I am almost to the home stretch at the last few bars of level 76. I can't wait to get cold weather flying.

I was reading this post by Jeremy Preacher where he was quoted as saying "Someone asked me “So what would you do if you had a forum with 5 million active posters?” and my immediate answer was “Shut it down.”"

I can only say that if you are able to get any good information from them, then give the community reps a big pat on the back. I have never ran any official forums, but I have run my own that eventually grew so large I had to get help from people to keep up with all of the noise. I eventually grew tired of reading my own forum, and when I finally left for awhile, they took the forum over and moved somewhere else.

I am glad that they did, because between all of the one liners and all the trolls, and sarcasm, I was hardly even able to discern between good information and bad. There were some smart cookies out there, but being smart and trying to keep the people on topic and not just talking out of their colletive arses became a problem I could not handle anymore.

I think the forums should be for information, not for complaining about what class got nerfed by what or just general trolling. If you can have that with a large number of posters, then you are doing something I never could. I salute you if ya do!

I always wanted BV to be the place the devs could come to get useful information and of course have some fun, but it never really worked out that way. The audio side of the site was much more controlled because it was just me and a few friends doing the talking, but when you let the general masses join you, then things can tend to get out of hand, and they do.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Yea, I Still Role Play!

While reading some really ancient posts I made, I realized that I was once part of a really big role playing community. I used to talk to those folks that would be more of the type to stay in character and I even eventually took over an intire role playing town called Grimoire. It was a PvP based communtiy, but we tended to stay in character and have tournaments each week and had a good time.

I still do that in WoW, but not exactly like I did then. The guild I am in now on a "regular" server, doesn't really get the whole RP concept. They like to "level"... All they do is level. We don't even have enough 80's to raid or do anything really fun. For the most part when we do all of that, we have to go ask the big guilds if we can tag along.

My guildies all believe my characters are me in real life. Mostly that is because no matter what they ask me, I will always answer the question from the character's perspective. When I am a Warlock, I will answer as a Warlock, as a DK, etc. I don't really want them to know the me behind the keyboard because then they don't judge me as a real person. I want them to play the game with me because I am good at what I do and because I am fun, and crazy. They all think I must be a killer in real life because I am like the only one in the guild that goes to the Battle Grounds constantly. I am always telling them to come kill Hordies, or Allies with me, and they just can't believe how forward and talkitive I am.

We don't thee and thou much anymore, but the concept stays the same. I started a character on an RP server the other day. I wanted to see how big of a difference there was between the two servers. Who knows, I might like playing there.

I have also started a cardinal on a PvP server. I have been looking around to see where all my old jack ass "friends" are playing so I can go and see what they are doing.

Well, I will let you know what I find out.

Episode II, Clone Wars, Rise Of The Ranters, Again!

Deja Vu? One Decade ago this happened...

In 1999 Battle Vortex was a quiet little web site much like it is today. Well, it was until I interviewed Raph Koster about Ultima Online, but basically, there were people that knew it existed, but not a lot of interest from the MMO community at the time. Lum's site was picking up speed because he was pissed off and making comments about the industry and UO. Snarky, smart, yet funny. I started to get some momentum rolling on the community side, and started a war with the general masses. Between LTM, BV, Vulpine, The Choosen, many devolpers, and many others, some really wonderful magic happened.

The thing I see happening is that we are getting passionate again. Other ranters are coming out, new faces, same old problems with the games, same old wants and desires. The only difference is this time, we have a decade of experience to throw in their faces! The players may have changed, but the message remains the same. It is time for a change!

Lately I have been reading a lot. I have even started to go "outside the box" and read other people besides Lum, and all of the developer pages I frequent. Everyone seems to be afraid now like we were of OSI back in the day. Even back then, eventually the industry and the gamers got together and started to make things go in a different direction. This time the war won't be about PK's, this time it will be about the other problems and ideas we have been plagued with for the last 10 years that didn't get fixed yet. We want our games to be better, and one day we shall have it!

So, I was browsing last night, for no other reason then I wanted to see if there was anything fresh out there related to my own small area of webspace, Battle Vortex. Well, I was not suprised that there is not much new, but I did find this "Way Back Machine" thingy and I laughed my self into a lather. Of course, I bookmarked the link on my other damn computer, so I will get it later. Anyway, the funny parts to me were that my commentary was much the same as it is today. I play the game and point out all of the stuff that I like or don't like and tell stories of how I got myself killed.

I found the first ever "Adrick Leaves UO" post... Oh man, it made me laugh because that guy quit gaming at least a dozen times before he got sucked into the Matrix of the Empire. I wish I had been as cool as Lum to be able to keep all my archives and port them from new system, to new system, but I suppose I will just have to live with the way back systems and old archive sites out there for pieces of my work.

What I am getting at is that there was a time when the players, and even developers alike wanted things to be different. They won some, the lost some, but it all starts with someone standing up and saying that something needs to happen here! I see that happening again, all over the place. It is a comfortable, yet disturbing time right now, and I hope that we will prevail once again!

Arthas, your vitural arse is going down! Again!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Doesn't Kill Us, Only Makes Us Stronger...

As I was saying in the last post, the problem seems to be the Corporate MMO Companies that are the problem here. They hire large to launch, then cut jobs as the numbers fall off.

I am no stranger to being laid off. I did at least get 14 years at one job, and a nice big 401K at the end, but in the end, it was just that. The end.

Lum describes it in his own way here, but it is the same no matter where you work. You lose your job, it sucks. End of story.

I mean, people ask why I don't go back to what I loved for so long, and I say because with what I am doing now, the only person that can fire me is myself. I may have to look for different places to pedal my warez from time to time, but in general I am in charge, and I can do what I need to do for my market, and my wallet. If I fail, it is not because of anyone but myself. I like that, and hate it at the same time.

Game designers are no different. From people like Derek Smart, Anthony Castoro, Raph Koster, and so many others, have are out there to make their own mark on the gaming industry without the help of the big corporate wheel. You can do it too, if you have the right mindset and the right tools. If you don't, you should start paying attention to others like those I mentioned above. They were all once like you.

So, I am always sorry to hear that the gears have moved once again and folks have had to make changes they may or may not have been expecting. The best thing for folks in any industry that relies on customer numbers and revenue is to always make sure you have your foot in another door.

It is a subject that is hard for me to talk about simply because I have been there. I know how bad it sucks, and how much you gave of your soul before being utterly decimated and launched into the vast, cold, space of not having that job anymore. But we must press on. We must endure. What doesn't kill us, only makes us stronger.

For those of you still hanging in there. Your companies are ruthless, they don't love anything but the bottom line. Maybe some day we can make them understand just how wrong it was to let us all go.

Anyway, until next time...

Once More Into The Breach!

I know, I don't like to put up a lot of linkage like I used to, but I will tell you there is a strange fimilar air among the bloggers and ranters out there.

WoW is over 4 years old (released November 2004). They are getting sick of it, but like UO, it just won't go away. What will be the next thing everyone is going to try and stick with for years? I bet a lot of investment folks and executives wish they could put their finger on that answer.

Sure, EQ came out, and put UO in its place as far as demonstrating to the world that PvP unchecked is BAD! Even with that, UO never went away, because those of us who stayed around knew that UO offered so much more in other areas than EQ ever would. Plus we were all filthy rich and had houses, so what the hell would we leave for right?

There has been a couple of different posts that Lum aka Scott Jennings has pulled off the Net and placed into his own PvP arena. Probably because that is "safer" then putting a response on the other persons site. I am going to follow the master's lead and do a little waxing of my own in my safe haven.

I am sorry if these thoughts may seem like a burst of wild berries, but I am not a journalist. I am a crazy gamer with a lot to say in the vocal minority.

First off, there are many different ways to look at these particular style games, but most of the current complaints seem to be about WoW. The biggest MMO of them all because of what? My guess is that WoW, took EQ and the clones by storm for one main reason. The same reason I didn't quit at level 27 like I did in EQ. They took away grinding and replaced it with questing that worked, and had a lot of it. Not to mention that Warcraft already had a few previous versions to base the game on, and already had a following.

But, lets look at why we (I) play MMO's. I like to play them because no matter how you slice it, there are other people. I like to talk, and hey, there are other people to talk with. So, it is a giant chat room with icons that move. I also like to go do things either by myself or with other people.

Trembling Hand (TH) thinks you should encourage grouping. I am not a fan of this at all. I prefer to play as much as I want, when I want and if it happens to include other people then great. If not, I want and require that I do it alone. EQ didn't do a great job of letting you solo, but WoW did. WoW did an even better job of this in WoLK because they even let you get cool items without being a dungeon diver. Kudos to WoW! The guild I am in currently is loaded with people of this same mindset, and I don't think they would like it if you tried to take that away. All MMO's should allow you to play solo as well as in a group. WoW's chat and group interface also made it easier to find other people when needed and that helps. People also seem to be more willing to go out and play together when they can get their hands on the phat lewts as well.

(TH) mentioned travel time and grinding. Well, I believe WoW has the grinding down because you don't have to slam a million monsters like we did in EQ. Sometimes the questing for 8 to 9 hours to get a single level can also be mind-numbing. Most of the time, they move us around the map, and that is great. Sometimes they make us see the same quest giver so many times you want to punch them, and the developers in the head.

Travel time in WoW really needs to be addressed. Some of the places you have to fly to takes in upwards of 15 minutes. That is unacceptable! If you can go on a boat to another continent in less then a minute, then why does it take 15 to fly on a really fast mount from one end of the continent to the other? I am really dissapointed.

There are also other issues like making us jump from Northrend, back to the old lands to auction or whatever, then have no way to get back to Northrend, but a hearth stone, or use the boat/zeppelin, and then fly all the way back to where we were. It keeps us kind of bound up and not willing to travel or save our hearthstones to any other zone but the logical one in Dalaran. That's where all the portals are, so yea, we are gonna hearth there. There is also no portal from Shat to Dalaran which I think should also be addressed.

TH wants smarter combat and smarter mobs. I think Lum's answer to these were pretty accurate. Fact is, the people that play these games love the fact they can almost always predict what will happen. It is all about training themselves to do a job and do it well. If you are a Tank, you "hold aggro" if you are DPS, you shoot everything like mad, if you are a healer, you keep everyone alive. They love it, and I don't think most people really and truely want more of a job then they have keeping the group from wiping then they do now. Fact is, when you are in a large raid or group, sometimes you are going to die. If it was your fault, you are going to feel bad and of course be told how bad you suck, and people don't want that. If it was truely harder, then people wouldn't do it.

TH doesn't like classes and levels, but you know what? Have you heard the expression "DING"? Well, the vast majority of people out there love that phrase. When you tell your guild you just got a ding, you get praise and woots and it is a wonderful feeling. I don't think they are going to take that away. Even in EQ, everyone loved the Ding and I think it is here to stay.

Classes? I don't care if it has classes or not. Even if they don't have them, people are still going to crate something similar to a class, and whatever works the best in PvP or PvE, will be the only non-class class that everyone chooses.

TH had a very good point about developers talking with the players. Hey, they used to, but the unwashed masses tore them apart until they all crawled back into their cubicals and pulled the shades. No one wants to hear that their hard work sucks, or that their ideas suck. Lum is right in his response. Believe me, my own friends that I used to do my audio show with don't even like to talk to me for fear I might divulge some info I am not supposed to. I don't even do that kind of ranting or reporting anymore, but they are scared.

Lum mentioned in some of his responses how the teams are under constant pressure from the executives and the folks writing the checks. Yea, you are going to get that, but at the same time, I felt like Lum was making an excuse as to why a game might suck. There is no excuse, and if we can't get the developers to listen, then maybe we have been barking up the wrong tree.

Because it sounds to me like the games aren't broken, the GAMING COMPANIES ARE BROKEN! Maybe it is time we address that issue, then all the games will be great right? The MMO market is more flakey then me doing Karaoke shows out in the sticks. I mean these poor designers change jobs like a pair of sweat socks. Nothing is safe, nothing can be spoken against the machine, and you are never sure if your project will even be alive in the morning. There is no job stability working in the gaming industry. The only thing you can hope for is that there are new companies coming up. Many of the developers and sometimes the executives have a place to go because of them, or they start their own company.

I have more, but I need to take a nap. Thanks for reading, all two of you!

What Just Happened? That Was Cool!

Hey, I play WoW. I am sure there are a lot of other games out there, but I have this thing about getting into a game and playing the heck out of it until I get bored. In the case of UO, I played that for 4 years before getting bored, and hated every other game I tried after it. I may have been at the end of a very long, strange and wonderful journey that I just couldn't let go of, but my time had come for a break.

I was in the computer industry for over 14 years, so I do look at games through the programmer's eye. I love to see what new things that can do with code and I love seeing the texture and bitmaps, and how it all works together. It just amazes me sometimes, how far these games have come. I have done everything from networks, to database programming, to technical support, and anything inbetween.

Even though I am not an official gaming professional, I have been hanging around some of the very best of these professionals for several years, and know things a normal gamer should never know. *Evil Grin* I have even spawned a couple gaming professionals and inspired a few others to make their mark on the industry, and that's got to be worth something.

I watch and read, and even though I wasn't playing anything, I still read what the "gaming industry" people have to say. Mostly MMO people, and folks that I either spoke to in an interview or talked with while I was doing some beta time on this game or that. I still pay attention and respect those folks from the gaming industry that made an impact one way or another. I have missed some gaming experiences by not playing all that time, but I have still kept abreast of what the industry as a whole is up to. Lately things have started to heat up.

Back when UO was the big game on the block and EQ came to knock them off their platform of power, the war was on even then. We wanted something better then UO, but not EQ. Well nowdays the fight has turned to WoW, and we want something better but not made by Blizzard. Anyone who watches the top selling video games on the market today can tell ya, Blizzard seems to have conquered "fun". Well almost.

There are still many things Blizz has left to do to their game to completely conquer fun and all of its qualities. I have yet to discover all of them as I am limited to playing what I like to think is fun. But of these, I can still point out where things may need some adjustment. I do frequently in my updates point out areas of confusion or frustration for myself. Knowing I am a "professional gamer" of sorts, I feel a regular person would find those things mind numbingly frustrating.

One thing that I am a firm believer in these days, is if you are a player of MMO games, don't buy the thing off the shelf when it comes out. Had I played WoW when it was new, I probably would have thrown it next to EQ on the shelf and gave up gaming forever. I have seen way too many bad launches, way too many problems, and way too many bugs come flying out of the brand new MMO. I for one, am glad that I waited to play WoW.

Blizz hasn't had a good patch day since the expansion, and 3.0.8 was no exception.

Speaking of patches, this week Blizz only performed rolling restarts instead of turing off the AI messages in the dungeons. Yes, they still have the AI messages on in dungeons in Northrend. You get to see when the monster is mad at you, or is changing target, etc. Really cool stuff! Obviously left over from the last patch were everything was crashing, and they turned on "Debug" mode in the instances to see what the hell was going on. Doing a rolling restart keeps us few that don't just take Tuesdays off and do something else, ya know, playing the game which is nice. We might forget how bad the previous Tuesday was, err not.

Another thing that bothering me is that there is no "tool tip" when creating a new character for Death Knights. I started another DK on different server just for fun, and I couldn't find it for awhile because no tool tip lit up to say Death Knight when I rolled over the button. Comon guys! Details! Not really that big of a thing, but it makes me think "Lazy" or "Tacky" when I see the worlds biggest production game skipping something so simple.

I also noticed that, and I haven't confirmed this one, but there is a seasonal quest going on called "Lunar Festival" where you can get a bunch of acheivements for collecting these coins etc. Well, the primary location for this festival is in Moonglade. I don't know what that place represents for the game, but my Horde character has a flight path directly to Moonglade. I wouldn't have realized this otherwise, but since I am also playing an Alliance character, I wanted to go to Moonglade with them as well. No flight path for the Ally... Well, no biggie, because my Warlock hasn't been every single place on the map, so I fly close to Moonglade, and ride the horse on in. I get to the place, ride around, get my clothes I wanted, and locate the flight path. I click on the chick, she says "You are not a Druid!"... I blink, try again, sure enough, I am not a druid. I looked around to see if there is another flight path, but there is not. So, what I think this means is Blizz let DK's have that flight path even though they are not supposed to. Because, a DK is not a Druid! The only thing I haven't checked is if the flight master for the DK is in fact the very same one I was talking to with my Warlock, but I am 99% sure I found a malfunction there.

This is probably me, but as a level 74-75 you get to do quests in a place called Dragonblight. Well, once you get towards the end of the zone, you do a bunch of quests leading up to part of the Lich King storyline. Once you have reached this point, you fly to a part of the zone where the story takes place and you get to watch a short movie about what is going on, just before the place phases into it's final form. I have done the quests for both sides now, and I can say that I really enjoyed the Horde side of these events.

On the Horde side, the battle happens, you come back, and there is an exclamation mark there letting you know there is more to the story. You do the Alliance side and you are left two screens away from where the battle happened and if it wasn't for the fact that I knew there was a quest giver there, I would have not went in there to go see if I was missing something. So, how many people are not seeing this on Alliance? Well, any of them without YouTube I suppose.

The second half of this ending is that you have to report to the King or Thrall that someone has passed. Now on the Horde side, the Scourge and a bunch of bosses from the Outlands have taken over an entire capital city called Undercity. Thrall is just a mess, but he is gonna go in there and take it back. So, even though you don't really even have to participate in this battle, you get a first hand look at the story and the Horde is just so intense when they fight. At the end, you are like, "What just happened? That was cool!".

On the Alliance side, the King totally ignores the fact that the Scorge just killed his soldier. The King is mad at the Horde, even though the Horde just fought by his guys side and lost as well. I was confused. So, they send you to talk to Thrall, and then Thrall tells us that Undercity was taken blah, blah. The King is like, this is our chance to kill Horde, blah blah. I am thinking, like why don't we help them get their city back, but NOOOO! Okay, so we go into the Undercity sewer, and fight some Horde bosses or something and the battles are just completely lame. The whole time this Ally chick keeps saying, "I hate to resort to violence", over and over and over. I wanted to strangle her myself! What is she thinking? That's why the King went over there was to resort to violence!

So, at the end of either version, the Horde and Alliance run into each other, and start to fight. Someone ports the Alliance characters back to Stormwind, and the Horde discuss what just happened for a second, then take themselves back to Org.

I don't know, but they need a tougher design team on that Alliance side, and please make something interesting for those guys to watch where they are not such sissies.

All I know is that the Alliance side of the story made me feel like the 80's pop-star King had some serious issues he needs to address. Is there a therapy class available for the King? I hope so...