The Mayans Invaded and All I Got Was This Lousy Bug

I had a long post written as an intro to The Secret World, which I picked up as a gaming present for myself this past December (and because Amazon had it marked down to $15), but since that was covered already, I figured I’d write about the recent event TSW had. Considering the impact on the game, it’s well worth a post.

As you may be aware, assuming you have spoken to at least other upright mammal in the past month, the Mayan calendar recently finished a cycle. This cycle lasted nearly 6000 years. Of course, any logical person would point out that due to the many changes to both calendar and timekeeping methods over the years, pinning an exact date out on a 6000 year old calendar would be inaccurate, as well as pointing out that every other cycle on the Mayan calendar repeats, but why get in the way of a good panic? In any case, a rather poor movie and any number of disaster speculations have been made about the end of the world that was supposed to happen in December of 2012. If you’re still reading this, it didn’t happen. However, TSW is a game allegedly set in the shadows of our own world – almost a “what went wrong” version, if you will. If any game out currently had a perfect real-world setup for an in-game event, this is it. And the folks at Funcom knew it. Unfortunately, Casey was at the bat.
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A good Glitch

A few days ago, a fairly entertaining little F2P game launched, Glitch. This game has a dev team like one of those interesting dev teams that made me take a deeper look at Rift, so I of course had to check the game out. With a Flikr co-founder and the creator of the wildly fun Katamari on board, it was bound to be fun to look at, if nothing else, I thought.
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Why we DING! – Part 2: Explaining the need

See, it’s been quite a while since I last wrote, but it does help to illustrate at least one element on the importance of The Ding – timeliness. If the ding takes too long, it is worthless or at the very best vague and confusing. Previously I tried to explain where the phrase came from, but this time I’d like to try explaining why it is important, and why we as gamers need the ding to keep us playing.
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Why we DING! – Part 1: A Short History

The kobold sniffed the air. Did it smell an intruder, its small brain wondered, but before it could begin to process this information, glowing green vines appeared at its feet. With a howl it took off after the elf already running off into the distance. As it chased the speeding elf, its feet hampered by the snaring vines, the elf tossed swarms of stinging bees and smoldering embers at it. Finally, the kobold could take no more and fell over, lifeless. A short distance away, the elf happily told his friends “Ding!”

These days, every level in every MMORPG is a celebration. This celebration began in the days of EQ, when leveling up truly was an epic situation. Unleveling, the “Gnid”, was also frequent in these days, but I’ll talk of that in part 2. Because you took so long to level, anywhere from several days to weeks, a level was a major event. People would shout to the zone their happiness, and you’d get some cheers and jeers back. It didn’t matter, because you finally leveled! The sound that this leveling made was iconic. I used to have it as my new mail sound. (I was really into EQ though – I had the “quest completed” tone as my computer shut down sound at work.) The sound was your only notification that something glorious had happened, and thus leveling became known as “dinging”.
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In Line At Disney World

As I sit waiting for the server to come back from what seems to be the daily or so Rift downtime, I really hope the latest queue-avoiding trick is being fixed. It’s a rather blatant code error that I’m not going to explain, as each time someone explains it in public chat there are even more people doing it. However, people use it to avoid the queues, going AFK for multiple hours, such as their jobs, and come home and instantly get in. It’s annoying for those of us who have to wait in the queue, although even playing on the much-maligned Faeblight, I don’t find them that bad. Last night I logged in to a proposed 90 minute queue, but I got in in just over 30 minutes. Today I logged in twice, both times with no queue, in the morning and early afternoon. I’ve seen the queues going down every day, and expect as the “Race for 50” pack finishes and logs out in boredom, and the afk exploiters get booted, it will simply be a full server.

To me, the queues are good, in that they throttle the people coming in to a (barely) reasonable level, and except for the second day, I’ve never had to wait for over an hour. I’ve waited that long at Disneyworld to go on a 37 second ride. I just login to the queue and go get other stuff done.

Shoot The Messenger

I know who has the toughest job at Trion now. Not the poor sap who has to balance 38 souls so that one doesn’t become so far ahead/behind another that no one rolls it (see recent Rogue rebalancing). No, it’s the server admin who 30 minutes ago had to walk up to Scott Hartsman in the middle of what was a textbook launch (queues are going to happen) and tell them that the servers were having issues and that they had to bring them all down.

Think they drew straws?

Ps – They’re back up, go play!

Rift PvP: You’re Not in…Oh You Know

As I am planning on playing when the game goes live, I have purposely avoided taking my character out of the first area, so as to have as much new as possible. As I’ve ground up a rogue, mage, cleric, and warrior to mid-20’s or higher, and done almost every tradeskill skill to at least 100, that means what I have left to sample is the PvP game in Rift. In a surprising twist, I’ve found that I am amazingly good at it, although I know I am bad at it. It’s just so many people have not realized that Rift is not the same as WoW, despite the familiar feel. In the past, I’ve gone out of my way to avoid the direct comparison, but after several days of playing, I cannot figure out a better way to do so.

I’ve played a lot of Black Garden, Rift’s “Capture the Flag” variant, and Valley of the Codex, which is Rift’s resource capture variant. These are both similar to WoW’s versions, but still distinctly different, which makes it very depressing when someone uses WoW’s tactics on them. Because you will lose. Badly. I was going to go into a detailed explanation of the zones, but that makes for a boring and possibly ranty post. Instead, I’m going to briefly talk about raiding the other side which is crazy fun.
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(Super)Men in Tights

Less than a week ago, I was forwarded a 10-day key for DCUO since I apparently mentioned that I’d not tried it. Having no new content in LoTRO to play with, I figured I’d give it a try. I posted about my first night’s comments, but I would be remiss if I did not post beyond that, because I feel it left an unfair sheen on the game, especially since no one else here has given it a review. I seem to be the beta/trial guinea pig. Maybe I should apply for hazard pay.

Anyway, I’ll get into my usual wordy, detailed review in a bit, but a quick summary for the skim readers: It’s a fun game. It’s the lovechild of World of Warcraft and City of Heroes. Actually, that’s not really true, but that’s a lie you can understand (/hattip Discworld). DCUO is faster paced than CoX, yet allows you to have the same type of fun that CoX does with being super. My main complaint is that it is a very fast burn – I hit max level on day 4 of my 10 day pass.

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Fun-damentally Flawed

You know it’s going to be a bad PvP match when you see all the opposing players have the same guild tag over their head. Many guilds, mine included, enjoy group PvP, yet very few games support it natively. Group PvP is fun in that you have now taken the game to a completely different strategic level, on top of whatever landscape/npc/event challenges the developers have built into the zone/event/area. I’ve been in one or two truly epic guild vs guild battles.

I know as a pick-up PvP player, getting repeatedly beat into the ground is not fun. I don’t mean because I need to “learn2pvp carebear”, but because the other team is well versed in each other’s strategies, abilities, and works well as a team while I am trying to figure out if my teammates can find the attack button. At least, I would hope that the other team is not enjoying it. Bullying usually stops being fun around third grade.

The Eyes Have It

Last night a friend sent me a 10-day pass to DCUO so I downloaded and played it briefly this morning. After what seemed like a 15 minute introduction movie, and several other movies, I struggled through the character creation process. I found it to be somewhat unforgiving. When it came to the selection of custom powers/uniform or copy a DC character, I clicked Luthor out of randomness, then the others. For some reason, DCUO really wanted me to be Luthor, as my “Superman” model was still green and purple and bald. It took about 10 minutes to undo the changes, and then the first item I looted overwrote what I was wearing. Lego Universe has this same thing, which is very annoying. Why even give me the option to select custom boots, gloves, chest, etc, if it will be overwritten by any gear I wear? In any case, I made it through the very long intro (which did a good job of explaining the controls), and found I really hated the permanent mouselook model it apparently is on. If there’s a way to turn this off, it’s not in the Control menu, so please let me know.

I just barely made it out of the intro scenes when I had to log out, but one thing stuck with me, probably because it was constantly on the screen – why does Luthor’s “bad eye” keep switching? In the “current time” he has a lens covering an injured right eye, and in the “bleak future” he has no left eye at all, and a healthy right eye. Art error?

Also, I found it slighty humorous that DCUO’s entire story is based on the “time traveler trying to prevent apocalyptic future” story theme, which of course is the basis for the Defiant faction in Rift (and any number of sci-fi stories).