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Laptop used temporarily

August 11, 2008 Comments off

A few days ago my regular computer broke down completely. There had been some warning signs; DVD drive had stopped working, only some USB ports were working, sometimes it reported fan speed as too low (although another restart “fixed” that).

Since it is starting to get a bit old anyway I have ordered a new one, but it takes a bit of time to get the pieces I want, so I am playing on my Vaio laptop instead when I play.

While I have generally not had any problems playing most games on high graphics settings, the laptop experience has been been significantly different.The laptop has an GeForce 8400M GT graphics processor, not really aimed for gaming, but reasonably modern I guess.

Guild Wars: Plays nicely on high settings

City of Heroes/Villains: Looks good, but not particularly smooth on high settings – at least on villain side.

Tabula Rasa: Autoconfig settings sets graphics quality to low and uses the wrong resolution, looks like crap. Changing to the proper resolution improves things a bit, but I cannot change settings above low. Looks quite ugly, but plays smooth.

From a play experience perspective it is obvious which game will be mainly played while I use the laptop – Guild Wars.

To boldly go where Cryptic is going

August 11, 2008 1 comment

Cryptic has released a gameplay trailer and a webcast from their presentation at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.

Pretty interesting material. While I cannot say I am a huge Star Trek fan (or pyjamas SciFi in general) I do enjoy watching TV episodes from time to time.

It seems that combat may be a significant part of the game, although perhaps not the dominating activity – which is good. But most likely more prevalent than in some of the TV series; the PvP aspect of the game will be between Klingon Empire and Starfleet, with more factions coming later. But the game will not be a PvP focused game, which makes good sense.

Neither will it be a level-based game or any “traditional” (read fantasy-oriented) classes/professions, but there will be specialisations for the captains/commanders – and everyone will command their own ships.

I am not surprised that they are not aiming for high end machines, that casual play times should be fine and that it should be playable by “children of all ages”. Cryptic is one game company that gets that part I think. And I guess the parents for the most adorable person asking questions in the webcast are happy also 🙂

Since I play a fair amount of Guild Wars nowadays some of the elements described of selecting and recruiting your crew and gaining information on explorations sounded at least in concept similar to Guold Wars skill managment. Especially since the crew you select to bring on missions may be important for the outcome. That is certainly a welcome aspect of the game.

Diplomacy do not seem to be in the game yet, but considered – they were still discussing how to translate that into game play. Trading seems it will be a significant part of the game also, with conflicts around resources. Main focus for conflicts will not be resolved through combat as I understood it, which is inline with Star Trek in general.

In addition to be given missions from central command there will also be events; one event that was indicated was Borg invasions – which also was part of the game trailer. This sounds a bit like the Rikti invasions in City of Heroes/Villains, remains to be seen how that turns out.

Their preference is to get everyone to play in the same single universe and they can support that from a technological perspective, but no promises are made in that regard.

If I heard it correctly, there is a /demo_record command (or similar function) in the game, which I am quite happy to hear. I have used it fairly often in City of Heroes/Villains and it is a great function to record in-game play.

They have a planned date for when the gamer will be ready, but not public. They did say “less than 3 years” though. Jack Emmert pointed out that this is less time than it takes for many previous MMOs and that part of that due to their toolset. While this is certainly a big deal from a development perspective I think that this is only to be expected from decent game companies.

Make your first MMO – lots lessons learned from mistakes and better understanding of what is involved. Second MMO – refine the toolset and way of working, take the time to make it right. Third MMO – start to reap the benefits from what has been made before.

This seems that this is the case for Cryptic here. Similarly this is what may be the case for Funcom and their Secret World MMO. Other game companies with a number of titles behind their belts (SOE, NCSoft, Turbine etc) – I am not so sure. But that is a whole other topic.

Right now I am just curious to see how Star Trek Online evolves. But as I said, I am not a huge Star Trek fan so I do not have that much opinion on how it should be. I am more interested in how they will solve their design challenges.

Categories: Star Trek Online

The power of blood

August 9, 2008 5 comments

Last few days has again been mainly a bit of Guild Wars play. My assasin picked his secondary profession (Ritualist) and started to head into the main story, which seems to be plagued with some gory issues, perhaps by a local branch of the Umbrella corporation?

Locals turned bad aside, the Canthian countryside is definitely quite beautiful in the game and certainly a nice touch to the oriental theme. It does make me think of some train rides in Japan and Korea, which also provided stunning views from time to time, in a similar vein.

Most of the exploration has still been in Elona though, where my necromancer has picked up a few more skill points, helped some Sunspear collegues back to Istan and got acquainted with some centaurs, the Veldrunners.

Before running into the four-legged fellows though a number of other quests was picked up though in the areas, one which included receiving a Signet of Capture. While I knew that getting new skills in the game could involve killing certain boss enemies, I had not checked the exact procedure. So this quest was an interesting revelation.

My first steps here was of course just to run out and kill some local boss enemies in the area. But neither of these were necromancers or mesmers (my secondary profession), so the skill list turned up empty. Obviously a bit more planning is needed.

Forward in time again and I am helping releasing the Veldrunner fellows from the Kournans in the Kodonur Crossroads mission. The bonus part of that mission is to take out some cruel taskmasters (bosses) and to my suprise it turned out that one of them (taskmaster Vanahk) was a fellow necro! He was not happy to see a collegue though and the usual beat-them-up procedure ensued. Not bringing the signet of capture presented a dilemma here. But since you can replay missions I completed the mission first, picked up the signet as a skill and then jumped back in and played the mission again.

Second time was much quicker, now knowing where to find things and what to expect. Mr Vanahk was still in a grumpy mode, but after some persuation I could use the signet and this time I got a list with a few skills to pick from!

One of them did stand out a bit and this was apprently an elite skill. Again I had not checked details on elite skills until now, but that should probably be the preference, so I picked that one of course.

So now I got my first elite skill, which is Blood is Power. It gives a short but good boost of energy regeneration to team compadres and taking a fair chunk of my helth in the process. Probably not an everyday use skill, but since energy is a problem sometimes this should come in handy in some situations.

Categories: Guild Wars

The Kournan connection

August 4, 2008 Comments off

Continuing my adventures in Kourna with the Sunspear Santuary as a base, my necromancer hit level 20 tonight after doing the command post quests. So now the leveling part is done and the game can start 😉

Checking with the /age command it took a bit more than 17 hours to get here, which actually was faster than my first escape from Tortage in Age of Conan, for a newbie experience comparision.

In general I am not too concerned about levels in these games (despite what one might think due to the blog name) and hitting the max this fast was definitely helpful in de-emphasizing any importance, but rather emphasizing my skill and attribute builds more.

I am playing around with my party size and composition also to find some decent compromise here. A number of the regular mobs work fine to deal with, but boss mobs seems a bit troublesome with a too small team to take down due to health recovery. Not sure how useful the illusion henchman is in that regard.

It is quite nice though to have a list of various “I must try that” and “hmm, what if I…” items to play around with in addition to follow the storyline and associated quests. Certainly not a situation I have had at any max level before or to much extent after a number of levels in many MMORPGs. I like it.

Categories: Guild Wars

From Istan with love

August 3, 2008 2 comments

My explorations of Elona, Canthia and Tyria have continued; the bulk of the time has been in Istan, the islands outside the mainland that are part of Elona, i.e. Guild Wards Nightfall.

Last Tuesday included a visit to the Tuesday Noob Club and embarking on a journey to the title of survivor, which will be interesting to see how that works out. Of my other characters I did get to level 12 in the best case before dying, but there was never a plan there to capture that title. I think a dedicated effort with a few people playing together makes it both more fun and more plausible – the heroes and henchmen one might pick up are not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.

Most of the time has been spent with my Dervish and my Necromancer. While I started with the Dervish, the necromancer is starting to become the favourite. Draining health and energy from enemies, putting various hexes on them and on top of that conjuring up minions from dead enemies to fight for you, that does work out quite nicely.

The dervish is also fun though, but pretty much needs to have auto-attack running and when energy is high enough use an appropriate skill. I am in general not a fan of auto-attack in any game and typically not a pure melee fighter, so it remains to be seen how far the dervish will go.

A good thing playing is that there is hardly any “kill ten rats” or “collect ten rat tails” types of quests, the background stories are often a bit better than falling back on such basic quest objectives. But it does have a couple of quest series which sends you repeatedly to the same area after coming back from the previous mission, which can be a bit annoying, at least after the second run.

After participating in some disturbing events in the main story line, my Istanians left the “newbie” area of Istan and have now embarked on adventures on the Elonan mainland, more specifically in Kourna. From the mainly lush vegetation of Istan this part of the land is more dry and rocky. While they have not reached level 20 yet, that is pretty much only one level away.

There has been a lot of new things to learn, which of course is part of the fun. Reaching the level cap soon will be interesting, since up to now gaining levels have helped dealing with enemies in a way. At least in the later part of Istan my level has been part of helping me deal with the enemies, similar to more traditional level-based games. After this the focus should be more on the different skills chosen, which will make it more interesting I think.

Categories: Guild Wars