Archive for December, 2011

Embarking on a journey long overdue

December 31, 2011 Comments off

Ever since I started playing MMOs over 10 years ago, that has been almost the only game type I have played. Outside of MMOs I cannot really label myself a gamer, since I rarely play other computer games – although from time to time there has been a bit of playtime on Playstation consoles.

Except for a little bit of play time with The Dream Machine, I have not played any point & click adventure games for perhaps 15-20 years – at least not what I rememeber. A long time ago I bought The Longest Journey and Dreamfall through Steam when there was a sale, but I never got around to play those games except just start them up, pretty much.

But now I have finally decided to jump into it and have started with The Longest Journey. So far I think it is  a very nice game, good dialogue and the puzzles seems ok. It is a bit of a warm-up period for me, since it was ages since I played any of these and I have not really played any of these on a PC before. Back in the days when I played those I was using a few Amiga computers.

The Longest Journey is a game that seems to be about 12 years old from what I can tell and shows on the resolution for the graphics – 640×480 is not exactly hi-res. But I think it is doing quite well with what it got though and the interface works fine for me.

While I suppose the stories will not have much to do with each other it stills feels like this will be a good way spend some time before there will be time for The Secret World. So far I am a little bit into Chapter 2 and I am loving it.

Categories: Adventure Games

Community in teams

December 30, 2011 Comments off

I recently read a post on Massively commenting on the state of tools for finding teams in the Star Wars: The Old Republic and advantages and disadvantages with the current approach and what for example World of Warcraft uses. There have been a lot of comments there, mainly arguing for or against a tool like the Dungeon Finder in World of Warcraft.

I have not played WoW in 5+ years and I know very little of the details of SW:TOR, but it seems to me that the arguments were somewhat missing the core issue here. It should not be a discussion only about whether Dungeon Finder-type tool is needed or not, but rather about how a game in general supports team play and encourages community building. These may not necessarily happen at the same time all the time, but is of course an good opportunity for it to happen.

The main issue here with combining these I think lies with games that adopted a level-gated, holy-trinity-oriented, play-content-in-developer-mandated-order design. I do not know if this is the case with SW:TOR, but if a game has these elements then the game design hardly has considered it important to have community building and team play happen at the same time.

Community building is not only about forming guilds or similar constellations either – it is about how people in general interact with each other in the game, at any time. A single tool will not change that part completely, although it can adjust the balance.

It seems to me that World of Warcraft is a game that for a long time has encouraged gated communities over general community building, plus an emphasis on gated content or at least segregated content. The Dungeon Finder tool seems to me that it was a a way to try to work around community building issues, but only through addressing a smaller and easier problem than the core issue.

I think ArenaNet gets it whan it comes to general community building for their Guild Wars 2 title – at least from what they communicate they seem to have been giving this a lot of thought. Funcom maybe gets it for their next title – not quite sure yet about them for The Secret World. Paragon Studios seem to understand it, but sometimes perhaps only on a subconscious level and learning from mistakes.

The Massively post raised my curiousity a bit where Bioware stands here? Is there an overall pattern to be seen around community building in the game design of SW:TOR? It is not obvious from the general talk about the four pillars for their game what that pattern would be:  progressionexplorationcombat, and story. Admittedly, I have not looked much into the game yet so it might be obvious for those with a bit more insight here. But the four pillars mentioned are not elements that are specific for MMO-type games – it can be applied to any RPG-style game.

A final Rikti Mothership Raid

December 18, 2011 Comments off

Today was the last Rikti Mothership Raid on Defiant that was lead by Searing Empress. The Sunday evening mothership raids has been a regular activity for a long time  and most of the times Searing Empress has been thee to lead them and done an excellent job with that.

The mothership raid event is a pretty straightforward activity, but it is still something that takes effort to lead and Searing Empress had it nailed down great to get it running well with both new people and veterans.

The reason for this being the last raid was that Searing is a server switch, to play on a more densly populated one than Defiant. Good luck on the new server Searing Empress!

Categories: City of Heroes

Freedom Phalanx death revealed (spoilers)

December 13, 2011 Comments off

Today Paragon Studios announced in a post titled  A Death Revealed… who in the Freedom Phalanx will die in the running Signature Story Arc, Who Will Die (and now also posted on the web site itself). This will happen in part 5, out of 7 parts of the whole story – this part will be released in January. This has caused a lot of discussion in the forums – ranging from “you have destroyed the story by revealing it now” to “about time” and also some speculation on what is going to happen.

Read more…

Categories: City of Heroes

Titan Weapons powerset now available

December 8, 2011 2 comments

Today I got a mail from Paragon Studios that the Titan Weapons powerset was available in the game.

Titan Weapons is a melee powerset with oversized weapons essentially – big swords, hammers, axes and a few other things one can swing. Oversized weapons are hardly anything new – most Asian MMOs have most of their weapons quite large. However, in these games these weapons are handled like their weight is no more than that of a pocket knife in many cases.

For Titan Weapons the game puts a bit more emphasis on that these are really heavy things, through the Momentum mechanic. When you start a fight you initially do not have any momentum and the attack starts off quite slow. But once the attack succeeds you have gained momentum and for the next few seconds the attacks go faster. After than one loses momentum aand have to get momentum back with a slow animation attack.

Thus for many of the powers that are part of the Titan Weapons powerset there are two different animations – one slow and one fast. Many of the attacks are also AoE (area of effect) attacks – thus one can hit a number of targets with each attack. Even one of the two first attacks available at level 1 is an AoE attack.

The powerset can be used with Brute, Scrapper and Tanker archetypes. I created a brute character and played for a couple of levels. It was pretty fun and I get another brute character to consider for leveling up. Below is a small snapshot I took from the gameplay to show the brute at level 5, where 3 Titan Weapon attacks had been picked up (at level 1, 2 and 4).

Titan Weapons is a paid for powerset and costs 800 Paragon Points. There is also an extra weapon set in the store that can be picked up that provides a few additional weapon set options, for 0 Paragon points (i.e. free).

Additionally, there was a post recently also on the City of Heroes website from Phil “Synapse” Zeleski, the lead powerset designer, talking a bit abut Titan Weapons. A worthwhile read if you would be interested in trying out the powerset.

Categories: City of Heroes

Issue 21.5: Media Blitz is live

December 6, 2011 Comments off

City of Heroes has on average had about 3 content updates per year, called issues. In the past year though they have also started to release smaller content updates in between the issues – this has primarily been for the Incarnate content, for those with max level characters and with VIP accounts.

Today the latest of these in-between-issues updates was released, called Media Blitz. This is essentially two more Incarnate Trials (Incarnate Trial is a kind of raid for those of you with fantasy MMO focus) and a couple of more Incarnate abilities for the existing Incarnate slots (Incarnate abilities are essentially über powers/attacks/buffs/debuffs/pets that you can swap and switch anytime, if you want and have built them).

More Incarnate-flavoured content is definitely needed, as one can only gain XP and drops to unlock and get stuff for most of these slots though these trials. Before this update there were in total 4 Incarnate Trials. Unfortunately all of these trials are big-teams type of content, typically either 8-16 persons or 12-24 persons required. The Media Blitz content is no exception here.

While I think the trials are quite fun and enjoyable, it is not enough of them to provide for people who want to progress their max level characters. Normal content sort of gets trivialized if you run content where the incarnate abilities are still enabled, at least in combination where people also have slotted up their powers with the inventiuon enhancements.

Task Forces with content that used to be tough when they were introduced originally are merely slight speedbumps today if you have a bunch of geared up and incarnate characters on the team.

I would not mind seeing something similar to Guild Wars Hard Mode for some regular content to complement the incarnate trials. Possibly a bit easier/quicker than only creating entirely new content and would allow for a bit more variation.

I do not want to sound too negative though, I am looking forward to try out the new trials!

Categories: City of Heroes