Archive for February, 2011

City of Heroes animal pack

February 24, 2011 Comments off

Yesterday the newest booster pack for City of Heroes, which is called the Animal Pack. As the name implies it includes a number of costume pieces (60+) for a couple of different animal types,  two new auras and a new sprint power – beast run. The latter supposedly have the same characteristics as Ninja Run (from an earlier booster pack), but is more about running on all four in this case.

Opinions seem to be the usual mix; people who think it is great and will buy it right away as well as people who think it is a waste of developer effort when there are more important things to spend time on (insert favourite/desired feature here). And then there is of course the crowd that says that everything was better in the old days when these things were included in the subscription fee and that they will never succumb to Paragon Studios’ greed (note that only get 40% of a Sparkle Pony in another game for this price).

Of these three groups I think both #1 and #2 are correct and hence the approach does make sense – #3 has to live with that. Group #1 are willingly paying for that extra effort that #2 would not want the developers to spend time on anyway. Thus the developers actually can spend this extra time that only the subscription might not cover (in theory). In practice I think these extra packs pay for more than the effort to make them – whether that goes into the pockets of some stock holders/investors and/or into the game is another question.

Personally I will pass on the Animal pack, I think. I just have not had the urge to create any animal characters, not in City of Heroes at least (I do like EQ2 ratongas though…).

Categories: City of Heroes

Things I did not do this weekend

February 20, 2011 Comments off

This Sunday I decided to write few short notes about things I do not do, instead of writing about the MMO gaming I did (that is saved for another post). So on to a list of things I did not do..

No Fir Bolg were hurt this weekend, honestly!

Play Wurm Online

I like the sandbox approach of Wurm, I really do. But I realized it will take me ages to accomplish things I want to do, plus for some tasks I would need somewhat long game sessions. This would mean sacrificing more play time in the other MMOs also and I am already stretching my time. So Wurm will have to go on hold for a while.

Play Istaria

I actually downloaded the game client and set up an account, while doing some other things on the computer – but no time yet to play the actual game. Will see if there will be time another weekend.

Avoid Earthrise

I actually logged in and tried to play, for a short bit. Masthead had a server maintenance break on February 17th that was said to last for about 8 hours. I logged in afterward that to see if I noticed any difference. I saw fewer people and same performance issues as before. Since I had logged off a bit out in the wilderness I had to fight my way back to some inhabited area, was not a fast process. I was attecked by another player though a bit closer to the northern camp, so I decided to just let him kill me – I was tired of struggling through mobs with horribly unresponsive controls. Resurrected in camp and logged off. Will wait until they actually provide some patch or anything else that will improve the game – there has been no updates so far since the release.

Read blog posts about Rift and World of Warcraft

I typically avoid pure World of Warcraft blog posts; be it people who are positive or negative about the game – I am not interested in either. Rift is also a game that I have started to avoid blog posts about. I am sure there are lots of intersting things to say about the game prior to its release. Personally I am more interested in seeing what the discussion will be some months/weeks after release – then I might start to look at posts again.

Complete Demonflame adventure pack

I started to play the Demonflame adventure pack in Champions Online for the first time. I like it and will write something more about it after completion.

Use the same graphics card all weekend

My Nvidia Geforce 9800 GTX+ had an identity crisis and a partial breakdown. It still displayed a picture, but was no longer recognized as an Nvidia device. After various attempts of jogging its identity back to normal I gave up and bought a new Nvidia card instead, a Geforce 560 Ti this time instead.

The Istaria surprise

February 16, 2011 3 comments

I browse through the RSS feed from Massively somewhat regularly and I was a bit surprised when I saw this entry, Istaria’s February patch brings a big batch of fixes. Surprised, because I realized this was the old game Horizons, a game I had no idea that it was still alive and kicking!

I had a brief period when I played Horizons; I think it was close after it launched; it was winter and it may have been the 2003/2004 winter, but my memory is a bit fuzzy here (old age and everything…;))

The game was pretty much killed for me then by their IP address restrictions – as a Swede I was not able to play with my MMO friends then, which were pretty much all of them in the US back then. So my visit in the game was quite short (some of us joined up in other games later).

Looking at how they describe the game Istaria today, it definitely sounds like something I would consider playing:

  • Open skill development
  • Cooperative play encouraged
  • Exploration encouraged
  • Most things are/can be crafted, housing and other things can be built.
  • Short game sessions very much viable

The game has a “free beer” option today, but it seems that it you are going to be a full-fledged customer, you will need to pay a subscription it seems. That is a bit of a disappointment, but it will still be put on my to-do list for games to try out. Not sure exactly when there will be time for that, but it is on my radar now anyway.


Categories: Istaria

Earthrise players get an extra free month

February 16, 2011 Comments off

Right after the first launch weekend Masthead Studios promised that they would give some extra game time to players that had registered by February 11th. On the 11th they got a bit more specific about the extra time they would give:

Today is Friday and as we promised it is time to announce the additional game time. Everyone who has registered their key by February 11th will receive additional 30 days of free play. Thank you one more time for the understanding and support for making Earthrise an enjoyable experience.

Atanas Atanasov – Earthrise Producer

30 days extra is pretty nice.  Of course, with the state the game has been in now in the beginning it is understandable that they give a fair share of game time. They are essentially buying themselves another month to fix things.

Categories: Earthrise

Earthrise uses TSIC for hosting

February 14, 2011 2 comments

One of the attributed reasons for the lack of performance for Earthrise at launch was that their original deal for hosting the game did not happen and that they had to run the game on their beta test servers. I do not know if that is true, but now it seems they have signed a deal with TeliaSonera International Carrier for hosting Earthrise for them.

TSIC has a good track record and have Blizzard+Activision as prominent customers, so presumably the situation should get better for the game. It does not say when this will take effect though.


Categories: Earthrise

The Incarnate Trials

February 10, 2011 Comments off

The City of Heroes’ February producer’s letter brings some details about the new things to come for the Incarnate system with Issue 20 – the Incarnate Trials. These trials are a new type of team-based content, a bit based on the new event system that was introduced in Issue 19. In terms of number of players involved in these trials, the content is close to what people call raids in some other MMOs – in City of Heroes those have been named leagues.

The league sizes are not fixed however; the two first ones introduced are set up for 8-16 players and 12-24 players respectively. To play in  those trials they are also introducing a system which seems similar to the Dungeon Finder (I think it is called so) in World of Warcraft – i.e. you or your team can queue up for a trial wherever one happens to be through the LFT interface and when there are enough people one is transported to an instance for the trial. Trials are designed to be completed  between 30 and 90 minutes.

It is not required for anyone wanting to advance their incarnate abilities to do the trials; they can still do regular content – it will just be slower. It sounds like a good mix of accessibility, somewhat causal-friendly and new content with some challenges.

Another post from Paragon Studios provides some more details about one of the trials, The Behavioral Adjustment Facility, of B.A.F. for short. Looks like it could be fun to try out.

Given that it is City of Heroes 7th birthday in about 2 months time, my guess is that this is the time when Issue 20 will be released and one can try out these trials for real. Good things to come!

Categories: City of Heroes

The Dream Machine

February 9, 2011 Comments off

In my line of work I tend to travel a fair amount during long periods – 4 to 5 days per week I am out of the country in some other part of Europe. This means staying at hotels without a lot of things one may take for granted at home.

It is in such environment I get to appreciate online features that does not really require me to have anything but a browser available for various things and that can work with a crappy hotel internet connection.

One such thing that I discovered recently is the adventure game The Dream Machine. It is a nice little point&click graphical adventure game with a unique style, since the graphics are actually made by clay and cardboard. It runs in Flash and saves your progress online after you have created an account. So you can log in and play it anywhere, as long as you have a browser that has Flash 8+ support.

The adventure consists of 5 chapters, of which 2 have been released so far. The first chapter is free, while the later chapters will cost a few euros each. So far I have played through the first chapter and liked it enough so that will get other chapters as well.

The developers (2 of them) write on their blog a bit why they choose this distribution model, which is quite ok with me. Interesting to see also is that they collect statistics about how people try to solve puzzles and how many solve different puzzles in the and thus adjust the game accordingly – provide better responses and options, changing difficulty of puzzles etc.

Not sure how much re-playability the game will have, but I was a fan of adventure games for a long time, before MMOs grabbed my attention. It is nice to get back into those games for a bit.

Earthrise launched

February 6, 2011 3 comments

February 4th was the launch day for Earthrise, but already a few days ahead it was possible to buy and download the game client. This worked quite well, smooth downloade followed by a patch later.

Come launch day, not everything went so smooth. My game key activated, but my special item key for buying before launch day did not activate. Looking at the forums, there seem to be a fair amount of people that had trouble with their keys and Earthrise support.

On to the game itself. Character creation is kind of ok, nothing spectacular, but enough so that not everyone looks alike – although with all the equipment added one does not see that much of the different characters… And the portrait in the character view on the screen does not look at all like the character itself, I guess there is just a generic picture there now.

At start the character is woken up in a facility (re-vesseled). There are some initial mission steps to get some armor equipped and then time to teleport out into the world. The character start on what seems to be an isolated island (seems to be a common theme for newbie zones in MMOs) and there are a couple of missions to get familiar with the different weapon types available.

Time to head to weapons training

Read more…

Categories: Earthrise

The Strike Pack is live

February 2, 2011 Comments off

The City of Heroes Strike Pack is now live. This is a smaller update in between issues, that opens up for further enhancements of the alpha slot for max level characters, including the ability to build rare and very rare incarnate alpha slot abilities. Acquiring the necessary pieces to make these rare and very rare abilities are then facilitated by the new weekly strike target.

The weekly strike target will grant a character double reward merits and bonus XP (if you are not max level) the first time it is run that week. For max level characters with the alpha slot unlocked it will also give a special component to create these new rare and very rare abilities.

The first strike target for this week is Stateman’s Task Force and Lord Recluse’s Strike Force. Despite having played the game for more than 4 years, I have actually never done either of these two task/strike forces. Probably a mix of often fairly short play sessions, plus that people in general have gravitated towards a few other task/stike forces that have been easier/quicker to do.

This approach do sound that Paragon Studios will introduce more incentives for people to vary their task/strike force choices a bit more – which I think is great.

Imperious Task force is a nice one, but I do not want to run that one 90% of the time I am in the mode for a task/strike force…

Categories: City of Heroes