Seen in May

Jeff Freeman discusses pricing models and ponders gaming one-night-stands.

Brian “Psychochild” Green (I think he legally changed his name to that, complete with quotes, since I never see him called anything else. I forgot to check his license at IMGDC) spoke of the early stages of MMO development. This one is good enough to come back to single time, but I’m telling you now so that you can read it a few times before we discuss it. (via)

Alex Taldren suggests that Princess Peach should get a job.

Alex also suggested that MMO Gamers are lazy and not really gamers.

Should this t-shirt remind me of Scott Jennings?

Saylah at Mystic Worlds discusses We We Solo in MMOs. (Okay, that was April, but I read it in May.)

How about (the apparently nearly most influential person in the MMO world) Scott Hartsman on being organizationally broken? Bonus chance to hate on Dell, if you like. I have commented previously on an outsider’s view of organizational failures in MMOs.

“The Midnight Squad” trailer from City of Heroes is pretty good. I have some editing disputes, but their call. The other one for Issue 12 is less entertaining, but it has some fun with costumes in the crowd. If you missed the magic and Rikti connection in Issue 10, this is a good time to hit that part of the story again.

Many people reviewed Age of Conan. Many many many, too many for me to remember whose I’ve seen. Here are Ethic, Saylah, Keen and Graev, ferv0r, and pretty much all of Tobold and Bildo’s sites for late May. Need a leveling flowchart? Jalum’s review that I linked earlier is probably non-relevant, especially since the miracle patch(es) seems to have miracled pretty well (by varying accounts). I hear a strange mix of “great launch,” “meh, yet another WoW clone with 5% difference,” and “game-breaking bugs and exploits” (to say nothign of the early launch).

Are you reading Ding!? Also pre-May (February), but I think it is a recent addition to our blogroll. WoW-themed webcomic from Scott Kurtz.

Another new friend on our blogroll: The Battered Shield. He has some interesting stuff to say.

Ending off-topic, Greg forms words to list 100 Must-See Movies.

: Zubon

Age of Conan – After a Week

I’ve been playing AoC for about a week now and I’d like to share some additional early impressions.

Character Slots

The game gives you eight character slots regardless of server. Therefore, if your slots are full and you want to play on a different server, you must delete a character on the old server to make an open slot. This really doesn’t bother me as I feel eight slots is plenty. Really, if I had eight slots per server I would probably have to create name holder characters on each server. I can’t do it in AoC, so I don’t have to. I like that.

Continue reading Age of Conan – After a Week

Hyboria Raids Middle Earth

Creeps’ numbers on our server are down. That is, in Player versus Monster Player play, we have fewer monsters. This makes sense: these are the Killers, and Age of Conan is designed for them, while the freeps are the folks who have done 50 levels of PvE. This will presumably repeat when WAR launches. This hurts when the creeps’ main advantage is having more bodies. The creeps can only hope for a PvE grindfest to arise and deplete their foes’ numbers.

: Zubon

Age of Conan – Early Impressions

I got my hands on a copy of Age of Conan a lot earlier than I had planned on buying my own, so I went ahead and installed it. The following are my first impressions from playing through the very first area on my way towards the town of Tortage. You’ll have to excuse the scattershot topic jumping.

It seems all the male faces are portraying the “less than a full deck” look. I had to play a female instead because of that. Really, are nipples *that* important to the game? One of the first cut scenes used a generic character to represent mine, that bothered me. Can we get some *more* splash screens to click past during log in? Where is the log out option so I can switch characters? I don’t want to exit the game and then log in again. I found a helmet and put it on, did not like it so I chose the “don’t show helmet” option and it took off my hair too (update: I’m told this bug was actually the result of changing into and out of the demon form – I did both around the same time). I crashed at log out most of the time and once when I tried to get a screenshot. I don’t really have any opinions on the user interface. It didn’t get in the way of me doing what I needed to do, so I guess that is good enough for now.

The scenery is lush and amazing (keep in mind this was just in the single player area so far). The male characters run funny. I had a few of those bloody critical kill blows but the only way I could tell is because blood splashed on my screen. My character blocked the view of the big moves. Combat is fun so far, a little different – but nothing amazing about it. It makes you pay more attention, which is good. The world (again, intro solo area impressions only) makes me feel walled in, restricted to certain areas. Does not feel like a seamless world, which is an important thing for the explorer in me. The hints might be helpful but I went out of my way to get them off the screen and did not read them.

Class choices seem very interesting. I tried a Herald of Xotli and a Ranger. The Herald of Xotli could turn into a demon, which is always a cool thing. When I was the Ranger I needed to switch from bow to sword frequently. The key to do that is “Shift + R”. G15 keyboard to the rescue. The sound your character makes when you find something is silly. “Aha!”. I found a broken bottle on the beach, picked it up, and used it as a weapon – cool. I seemed to level up really fast.

It looks like the launch was quite solid and I’m impressed. If you like Conan, this appears to be a big win. There is a lot more to the game I’d like to discover and so I will continue to play it as my second game for now. Congratulations to Funcom for fixing the multitudes of problems I was hearing about from beta testers. I will post more as I get time to play.

– Ethic

Age of Conan Launched

According to Funcom, the collector’s edition of Age of Conan has sold out completely and 700,000 regular boxes have been shipped to retail store shelves worldwide.

Since there is a Best Buy store next door, please talk amongst yourselves while I run over and get a status check.

I’m back! They had 19 copies on the shelf in the normal video game area – second shelf from the bottom. They also had a special table set up with another 15 copies. Interestingly, there was also 4 copies of the collector’s edition available to purchase on that table. I guess they aren’t all sold out after all.

Looks like a pretty good presentation for Funcom, but will they sell? Time will tell.

– Ethic

Wait and See

I will not play Age of Conan or Warhammer Online on launch day. I am taking a wait and see attitude on new games. Prove to me you are worth playing and I will play. Blind faith and hope are not rewarded.

There is no rush. A good game will be around for many years. The longer you wait, the more content gets added. A lot of folks are getting worked up about Age of Conan’s early access program. They have a limited number of slots and they can’t handle more, because they are not prepared. You do not want to be a part of that. Besides, what is the rush? Seriously, it’s not that important.


– Ethic

Jalum reviews Conan

No, you don’t know who Jalum is. He’s an old friend from Asheron’s Call, one of the big PvPers on Morningthaw from back in the day. He tried out the Age of Conan “beta after it has gone gold.” He was not pleased.

While I don’t think we’ve been Flagshipped, we’ve definitely been Vanguarded.

The very first thing is that you will need a Crysis capable system to play this game as you see it in the nice videos and screenshots. My friend has a Crysis capable system and he says the game is gorgeous. I don’t, and it looks like [oh yeah, there is some harsh language in his comments].

So there are level 20 guards in this city. You can attack them, and they will kill you. This is not necessarily a problem by itself. However, combine that with the fact that there are quests that spawn hostile NPCs in the city who attack you AND the fact that all melee attacks are little AoE attacks and we have a problem. … a drunk pirate jumps my friend, and in defending himself, he clips a wandering guard with one of his swings. After my friend rezzes, we head off to do our first quest together.

I trust his opinion on PvP games, but this one died for him long before PvP became an issue. You can check out the full thing here.

: Zubon

New MMO malaise

I wish I could get really excited about one of the new MMO’s coming out.

Warhammer seems to be the biggest hype machine right now, but for all the neat-sounding gameplay offerings, I just don’t like the visual feel. It seems kind of lifeless to me, a bit like Everquest 2. Like the buildings are made of cardboard, and the players are painted wooden mannequins. Reminds me a bit of Everquest 2. WO’s gameplay may turn out fantastic, but I just don’t know that it’s a world where I’d actually enjoy spending time.

Conan looks much nicer to me, but I’m kind of iffy about the whole barbaric blood-and-guts vibe. The Conan universe is never something that I’ve felt drawn to in book or movie form, and my impression of the game isn’t feeling that different so far.

Like Conan, The Chronicles of Spellborn has some really beautiful imagery; that looks like a world I think I’d like to spend some time in! Unfortunately I don’t have much faith that it’s going to be a solid product. For example, their website doesn’t clearly explain how TCoS will differentiate itself in a way to make me want to spend dozens or hundreds of hours with it. Instead they spend time explaining to me that resistance rank zero to rank +5 is an exponential curve divided in 64 points, which may be a perfectly good design decision , but is just a tad more detailed than I’m really looking for. And if they can’t don’t even have a sense for what I, as a consumer, want to see from their website, I’m not too optimistic they’re going to have a good sense for what I want to see from their world.

So I’m waiting to see what 38 Studios and BioWare have up their sleeves, and keeping my fingers crossed.

– James