Archive for October, 2011

Breaking out of the server box

Had an interesting conversation today regarding The old Republic launch and how some of us have way too many guild offers on the table and ultimately it sucks. Right now, I have no less than 6 guild offers for The Old Republic launch, 3 are friends and family types, 2 are people I know over the Internet and relations and the last one would be a more serious type thing with raiding and some planning involved where I’ll probably end up spending most of my time.

What sucks so much about the whole situation is not so much that I have so many options but rather that I will be forced to make some hard choices about them. I know from experience that while at the beginning everything will be fine and dandy, over time and levels, people playstyles start to emerge and gamers being gamers, we’ll all start to drift away. Guilds will split over casual/hardcore debates, time schedule or just basic gaming interests and real life. Of the six guilds I’m being offered to be a part of, I don’t expect more than one or two to last.

Playing in silos

A big part of the problem comes from the fact that most MMOs force me to choose. For example, I cannot join the more serious guild and then take my character to help out once in a while when the friends guild needs it because they’re on a different server or faction. Right now in WoW I’m faced with this problem. My geared DK is Alliance and I would like to help my coworkers in their Horde guild who are just starting raiding this week. Eff doesn’t do T11 anymore and I’d be a perfect fit to help out but because of faction difference I have to level another character entirely just to play with friends.

If the goal of a MMO company is to keep me playing for as long as possible. Removing barriers to play with friends should be removed. It’s simply more fun to play with friends.  Right now, leveling a mage just to help out my coworkers once in a while is not great fun.

I understand the need for servers/factions/whathaveyou but like many other gamers I cannot be defined by a simple tag. I am not Morehnai, Raider of Eff the Ineffable all the time. Sometimes I’m Lhono, the casual horde mage, others I can be Mohr and play a few hours with my brother and other times I just want to do a few dungeons with my old Mug’thol buddies from back in BC.  I’d like it if Morehnai could help in all those situations and not have to start anew just to play with my friends.

Let’s open it up some

This is what I’d really like, that game companies would open up some to allow for this kind of gameplay. No matter how much we’ll try we’re always going to end up with scattered friendships all over the place. It’s impossible to have all our relations, all our friends on the same place in the same faction.

I’d like it if I’d have more options to overcome these barriers and play with friends. For example, if I team up with my brother to do some quests, let me cross over to his server, switch my race around and let me play with him for a few hours. I understand that for old games like WoW this can be complicated but I’d really like it if the new games could allow for this kind of temporary transfer to take place.

We all have our main way of playing these games but for those odd nights where we just want to be with the old friend coming back on that old server, give us tools to make it happen please. Chances are that if I’m allowed to play with my friends when I want to, I’ll play your game longer too.

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Heart of the Swarm Blizzcon trailer

This is turning into Starcraft 2 week but I’m way too excited about all of it to let it pass. For those who might have missed the Blizzcon trailer or if you’re just curious about what’s getting me so pumped, here’s the trailer they showed the last weekend.

I can’t wait for Heart of the Swarm to be released now!


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Batman: Arkham City review

I took some time to get to this review with all the happenings around me both in gaming (Blizzcon) and in real life but here it is! Two years ago I discovered Batman: Akham Asylum completely by chance. I was looking for a game while my PC was down, there were few releases and Arkham Asylum looked okay. I ended up discovering one of my favorite games of all time and Arkham Asylum turned out to be one of the biggest sleeper hits of 2009.

All of this to say that a lot of people including myself were really looking forward to the sequel, Arkham City. Is it a great game? Yes! Is it better than the original? Well… yes and no. Allow me to explain.

Much of the enjoyment of the original game came down to the originality of the game. Sure, adventure/exploration games had been done before but never quite so expertly mixed and it fitted the Batman lore perfectly. Arkham City was expertly designed and gave gamers one of the absolute best Batman experiences ever.

The second game is mind-blowing in design. Arkham city has got to be one of the better designed places I’ve seen in a video-game on par with the cities that Rockstar (LA noire, GTA) design for their games. It’s also very fidel to the Batman universe once more and delivers an authentic Batman experience. What I want to convey here is that both games are great games and solid purchases but whether you like more the first or the second game will actually come down to personal taste in comic book style.

Let me explain. Over the years many artists have written and drawn for Batman. Two style of stories have sort of emerged, one style presents a down to earth Batman who is more of a detective and less of a super hero and the second style is much more classic super hero fair.  Most Batman stories tend to fall in between the two extremes but personal, I prefer the grittier Batman. The first game, Arkham Asylum was very much in the vein of the first style and appealed more to me. Arkham city on the other hand goes much more toward the second style and presents a more comic book style story.

Both games are great, but you’ll probably prefer one over the other depending on your personal taste.

The collectible game!

One particular aspect I want to touch on is the insane quantity of hidden collectibles all over the place. There is literally a metric crapton of stuff to pick up and it can get quite overwhelming at first. In fact I recommend doing a normal play through first without trying to get everything and then come back once you have finished the main story to collect at your heart content. However if you don’t like collecting and finding hidden stuff in your games you will probably find Arkham City to be on the short side with the main story clocking at about 10 hours.

The list

The monkey loved
The whole package! Seriously, there’s little negative I can find on this game. While specific areas could use improvement, taken together, all the elements come together to make a truly great game.

The monkey would have loved:
More emphasis on the main storyline and a bit less collecting. It can get quite overwhelming at first.

The monkey didn’t care much about:
All the combat challenges modes. Trying to pull off a perfect combo in increasingly difficult combat situations can get old pretty fast.

All in all this game is a definitive must own title along with the first game. You’ll probably prefer one over the other but in the end both are great games!

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Looking for a bit of help at Sc2

With the new reveals of Heart of the Swarm announced last weekend my interest in Sc2 has been renewed again. To be honest it never did completly die off but I’ve been avoiding multiplayer for a while because it became really stressful. I’m not a bad player in the sense that I completed the game single player on hard and I do follow the pro matches to some degree but being able to complete in multiplayer has eluded me for the longest time.

The sad part in all of this is that I do enjoy a good game of multiplayer but getting roflstomped all the time is depressing. I do research, replays and all that but I keep feeling like I’m missing a key part I’m not seeing or maybe I’m just trying to do too much all. Whatever the reason is, I’m looking for someone to give me some pointers or someone who want to practice some with me.  Ladder games or AI games are not helping me a lot I feel.

So if you’re willing to play some with me or just want to give some tips feel free to leave them below or send me a mail.

PS: I play on the US servers

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Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria

This is not going to be a “I love Blizzard post”, at the same time I’ll try not to turn it into a “I hate Blizzard post”. This is my impressions on the news regarding the next expansion, Mists of Pandaria, and my thoughts. If you can’t stand to hear anything negative about Blizzard then feel free to skip this post. 

I took the whole weekend to think carefully about this post and move on from my initial nerd rage reaction. There’s a lot I want to talk about but sadly, a lot of it is pure conjecture so I’ll try to keep those ideas for another day. When all is said and done though, I feel MoP is simply not an expansion for me. Notice I did not say “a bad expansion”, but rather an expansion that wasn’t made with my gamer type in mind.

Not for me?

A friend of mine summed up nicely MoP during a conversation.

It’s the expansion for my Ex!

Since you probably don’t know the ex-girlfriend in question let me describe her quickly. She was the kind of wow-gamer in it for the social life. She loved collecting pets, doing mini games, getting achievements and just goofing around when she could. She did raid, but for the social side of raiding and the collecting part of it. She didn’t care much for difficult encounters or challenge. She wanted the rare pet at the end of the raid.

I’m not saying that’s a good or bad way to play the game. But it’s not my way to play. I picked up WoW at the beginning when it was a much different game that what it is today. She started playing at the end of BC and was in love with Wrath because she felt it was the perfect balance while I thought Wrath was too much casual for me.

For me, MoP is a step toward making the game cater to the more social/casual gamer audience which I realize I’m not really a part of.  The changes to talents, the mini pet fighting… all things I simply cannot see myself participate in. When I look at MoP I see a completely different game than the one I fell in love with back  in 2006.

How did we get there?

This is what has been bothering me this whole time…. why do it? Why change the game so much again and it took me a while to come up with a simple idea. It’s all theory of course so there’s no way to be sure that Blizzard thought along those lines but I love this theory simply because of its simplicity.

When was WoW peak of subscribers?  Back in Wrath of the Lich King
Does Cataclysm has more subscribers? No, it has less.
Then… If Wrath model was the most successful let’s go back to that model.

Simple as that. The more casual crowd Blizzard has been catering to in Wrath resulted in more money. So why not go that way again? It might the be the way I would like the game to progress but it’s hard for me to blame a company for wanting to choose a more profitable option.

I’d like to finish by saying that I’m not angry at Blizzard. Disappointed? Yes… absolutely… I feel the game I discovered back in 2006 is going away for good.  WoW 5.0 is simply not a game for me and in the end I’ll simply have to hope Sw:ToR or some other MMO will cater to my needs.

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