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City of Heroes – Issue 23: Where Shadows Lie, is live

May 31, 2012 Comments off

Today Paragon Studios released the new City of Heroes update – Issue 23: Where Shadows Lie.

This one seems to contain a little bit of everything – except new powersets. There is a new zone, Night Ward with various missions and new enemies. There are new trials and task forces as well (Magisterium trial, Penny Yin task force), a new Signature Story Arc and a bunch of new costume pieces and various quality-of-life improvements. There is also a new incarnate slot, Hybrid.

So far I have only looked at a few things:

  • Peeked around in Night Ward
  • Ran through the Penny Yin task force
  • Picked up a few new costume pieces, including the Mecha armor pieces.

In a few days when there has been a bit more time with the update I may write something more about it; this is it for now.

Categories: City of Heroes

Leaving the Empire

May 31, 2012 2 comments

A few days ago I decided to cancel my subscription for Star Wars: The Old Republic. The game had many good points, but in the end I did not enjoy it as much as the other MMOs I have been playing. Thus it was time to cancel the subscription, for now.

SWTOR ended up being almost a repetition of my experience with Rift. I jumped into the game some time after it launched and it had a few bits and pieces that I loved and enjoyed quite much. However, there was also a few things that ended up being tedious and boring, plus there was not that much character progress to look forward to, in my view.

There was simply too much trash mob killing for my taste to get anywhere, eating up a lot of time from the more fun parts. Some fights were certainly fun and overall I liked the abilities of my Sith Sorcerer. However, I cannot say that I felt that the character became more powerful and stronger really. Besides that I could control more enemies at a time with whirlwind after a while, I can not say that noted much increase in power. Thus I did not feel that I had much to look forward to from a character development perspective.

The class story part was very good and also some of the other missions were also good and enjoyable. And then there was the rest. I ended up skipping more and more missions as I played.

The crafting part was simple and linear and easy to do. A convenient side track, but one you need to keep in sync with your leveling. Would have liked a more independent approach here.

SWTOR lasted about 6 weeks for me, which is actually pretty much the same amount of time as I played Rift, and also LOTRO a few years back. All of them had some great areas and were very polished experiences, but also some annoyances that dropped them close to the bottom of my which-MMO-should-I-play-tonight list.

I am quite sure I will return to SWTOR; but when that will happen I do not know. There were still many fun moments though. I would still recommend people to try it out, if they have not done that already.

NBI: Wrapping up the month – hip hip hooray for all the blogs

May 31, 2012 2 comments

So we have reach the end of the month and also the end of the Newbie Blogger Initiative (NBI). I am quite amazed by the number of new blogs popping up as well as the number of sponsor blogs that contributed!

Excellent work done by Syp here!

The final post from the NBI is posted by Syp here and the content also included here below. Enjoy!

This is it! The final NBI link-love list that I’ll be putting out this month. I promised NBI participants and interested onlookers that I’d be compiling all of the new (and newish/undiscovered) blogs that have emerged this month, as well as all of the terrific advice that seasoned bloggers gave. Here we go!

New blogs to check out:

Sponsor advice posts:

Categories: MMO Games, NBI

Back to Conan

May 27, 2012 2 comments

A bit over a week ago I decided to take Age of Conan for a spin, this time as a “free” player. There were some good points and bad points, in the end my free period lasted pretty much one week. However, I am still playing Age of Conan.

Whimsical Conan

The decision to try out Age of Conan again was pretty much on a whim. Given that I like what they are doing with The Secret World I simply thought maybe there are some things to like about Age of Conan as well nowadays. I played Age of Conan at launch for a bit and then also a second time, I think maybe 2-3 years ago – I do not remember to be honest. A few things may have happened in that time.

When I logged on to my Funcom Anarchy/Conan account I also noticed I had a few Funcom points there, probably left from my latest excursion into Anarchy Online. So there was a bit of cash in case I needed to buy something.

Back when I played Age of Conan I never got particularly far – 3 characters around level 30-32 and another one who was in Tortage, pretty much. Logging back into the game I noticed that two of them had numbers appended to their names. Presumably this was from an earlier server merge. However, I did not find an option to change the names of these characters – besides the option to pay 1200 Funcom points for the privilege… No thanks!

I am not running around with a character with a numbered name and I will not pay for a rename unless I am absolutely sure I want to continue playing that character – which is not the case. So Instead I decided to the available unlocked character slots for a new character.

Gateway to Khitai

Starting out

Being kind of in the spirit of The Secret World still, I picked Demonologist for class. There was an option to play as a Khitan which was new to me. Then I remember that this must be from the Rise of The Godslayer expension for the game. Never bought that, so the Khitai option was not available. The expansion was available from the shop for pretty much the same amount as I had in Funcom points, so I decided to pick up the expansion.

This may not have been the wisest move. As it turns out, for a low level free player there is not much to gain from buying the expansion, except being able to create a character from Khitai. For the other parts you either already have access to it, or have to be a premium player (i.e. subscriber) to get access to features from it.

Playing through Tortage jogged some memories, but I also realised I had forgotten much as well. It was not until I had left Tortage that I realized that I had feat points that I could put into talent trees, for example…

One of the Tortage Night-time missions had a bug (a key NPC did not spawn) and I got stuck – re-tried the mission a few times, with the same result. It took quite a while for me to (re-)discover that you could skip a mission if you wanted. After skipping through that the rest of them worked smooth.

Tortage was pretty much as I remembered it, both good and bad points. This probably has not changed much.

Free player annoyances

The single most annoying part with playing as a “free” player is the lack of inventory space. Without any bags one has 12 slots available (24 as a premium player) and that was far too small. Inventory filled up in no-time and I had not enough money to buy a bag from a vendor to alleviate the pain a bit.

I started to look at the in-game shop, but the bag prices there were quite steep in my opinion, at least as a player to is in the position to just try the game out for a bit. I am not quite sure if a bag would be available for just one character or for all characters – if you are an altoholic the bag prices might be more ok – if they are available for all characters. But it was not clear to me what it was.

In general I felt that a lot of the items in the item store cost quite a bit of money. As a “free” player I would think both once and twice before buying anything really – it was a bit too high I think to just try out most of if and see what you got. Probably works out better for experienced players who knows more what they want to pick.

Another annoyance was the gold seller spams in the chat channels. While this is not an exclusive annoyance to “free” players it was still an annoyance nonetheless. It gets less annoying by adding the spammers to the ignore list, but that is not enough to avoid them completely.

The good stuff

Despite the lack of inventory space and some bugs/issues, I quite enjoyed playing the Demonologist, although the demon pet was not much of use except to provide a bit of buffing. But combat was pretty fun, although I realized later that the combo combat mechanics that I remembered from my previous playtime is not something the Demonologist uses.

And the music – that is just stellar. I love the music. It is the kind of music that could raise a kill ten rats mission to a semi-epic battle against mutant rodent monsters. Which perhaps will be needed.

After Tortage my Demonologist went to Gateway To Khitai to continue the 20+ experience.  While I am not particularly keen  on the quest hub approach to doing missions, this is quite common in many MMOs that I do not usually play and Age of Conan is no exception. Pick a bunch of missions and off you go. At least here the missions were thematically the same, all about assisting the people of a caravan that had been hit by local bandits.

A good thing here was that there was not a lot of running back and forth in missions, which I remember a few of in Tortage as well as some post-Tortage areas from my earlier AoC days. But here it seemed better designed and a few levels were gained quickly. So far I like the zone.

I wanted to try out the combo combat again, so I also decided to create another character – this time a Barbarian. Neither Barbarian nor the Demonologist were classes I had played before so it was fun to try out something I knew I had not played before.

This was also the first time I played any of the Rogue classes in Age of Conan, which means that I got a partially new story line to follow in Tortage as well – this was also good. Playing the Barbarian is quite fun and it feels dirty and sweaty, sort of. Which is precisely what it should feel like.

The somewhat raw tone in the dialogue also helps emphasize that this is brutal time and area that this is happening in. No pie-eating contests, farmers too lazy to pick up some crop etc. And no elves. The last one is quite a big plus in my book.

Back to Tortage

The end of the free period

After about a week as a free player I gave in and subscribed to the game. What helped making that decision was that there was a special offer as part of the 4th anniversary celebrations that gave some extra items in addition to a reduced subscription fee – including a big bag for all characters.

I signed up for the 3 month offering. The price was not too bad, I got some extra stuff and 3 month period to try a few alts and some of the premium features – should be enough to decide what to play with if I do not extend the subscription. More character slots for alts, as well as revisiting some old characters. So by the end of the summer we will see what happens then.

By that time I hopefully understand a bit more also of all the abbreviations people use in the chat channels when they are (I guess at least…) looking for teams for something

Categories: Age of Conan

More Secret World – Hell Raised

May 27, 2012 Comments off

Gamespot has a new video showing some gameplay from the first of the instanced team missions in Hell. Looks like it can be pretty ok – I liked that it is a bit more than just monster spank and that it does not have much of trash mobs apparently.

Also, I liked the voice parts that were in the clip. This is one instance that will be accessible in a later beta weekend, supposedly.

Categories: The Secret World

Funcom financial report – delays The Secret World launch

May 26, 2012 Comments off

Funcom has released a financial report for the first quarter of 2012 with a presentation. A key piece of information is that they have moved the launch date for The Secret World by two weeks, to July 3rd (June 29th for those that have early access). This is also announced on the TSW web site, along with some details about two additional beta weekends.

The launch delay is due to “market reasons”, which I think can mean just about anything that may have  a positive impact on the game sales. I don’t mind waiting another two weeks personally. It is the second time they change the launch date for the game, 2 months the first time and now 2 more weeks. I think it is positive to see that launch dates are not set entirely in stone and that they allow to give themselves a bit more time. Is that enough? Only time will tell.

The report also states that beta sign-ups have been higher than for Age of Conan. Also logins, played time and repeated visits have been higher than for Age of Conan.

They seem to have calculated on two scenarios for the financial outcome of the launch:

  • Target scenario
    30% better sales than Age of Conan in the first year – which seem to amount to about 1.3 million copies. Also better retention where they estimate almost 500K will remain subscribers. In addition to this the calculate on additional sales amounting to 35% of subscription revenue from the in-game store.
  • Age of Conan scenario
    Essentially this is roughly the same numbers as Age of Conan had when they launched – sold 1 million copies in the first year, estimate 280K subscribers remains, which is slightly higher than for Age of Conan.

I really like the game, but I doubt though that they will get close to 500K subscribers. Not because they will screw up, but simply because I think most subscription-based new MMO launches will have difficulties with that today. Even if they do a pretty decent launch I think the numbers will be closer to the Age of Conan scenario numbers simply because the market is different now than it was four years ago when Age of Conan launched.

Age of Conan and future MMOs

The financial report also covers the current revenue for Age of Conan, which has dropped significantly. They point to that this was due to the launch of a major competitor in the 4th quarter of 2011. So that would most likely mean SWTOR.  Revenue had dropped to less than half of what it was 6 months earlier.
It would be interesting to see if there had been similar dips for other MMOs of if others may have done better – if so, which ones did better then?

The financial report also mentions that Funcom has another “large scale MMO” in concept stage at the moment, plus another “free-to-play MMO” in development. In this context, Bloodline Champions is considered a “free-to-play MMO”, so that might be a bit different from what others may consider an MMO.

Interesting though is that the game direction for these future MMOs points to player-driven content and community engagement, as well as multi-platform engagement.

I think multi-platform engagement may include various mobile devices primarily – part of the game experience may be accessible from a mobile device. It will be interesting to see what approach they will take to player-driven content; I am happy that they point in that direction for future games.

But that probably will be some time before anything is told to the general public. Right now the focus is on the launch of The Secret World in a bit over a month.

Categories: The Secret World

The Secret World combat and abilities

May 22, 2012 1 comment

Just noticed that there has been a video at Gamespot which covers combat and abilities in The Secret World for almost two weeks.

It is a pretty neat video and talks about combat abilities and creating different builds with synergies.

More Secret World impressions

May 20, 2012 2 comments

The second beta weekend for The Secret World is ongoing at the moment. With a bit more time with the game there are a few more impressions to add from my previous post, as well as looking a bit more at the skill system (ehh, abilities system) of the game.

First of all, a few people in the TSW forums were a bit disappointed with the content, or perhaps rather that there was not enough new content compared to the previous weekend. The added content were pretty much what they had described in the announcement of the 2nd beta weekend. However, many people (including myself) had hoped there were more content included beyond what was explicitly mentioned, e.g. more portions of the skill/ability wheel unlocked. This was not the case though.

Personally I mainly missed the lack of more advanced skills in the skill wheel – the skill and crafting systems are some thing one will learn and master over a long time, while story and environment content is not something I would want to spoil too much of at this stage.

That being said, I did pick up a couple of missions and completed them and started to look at some more. But I also ran around a bit just exploring the area. There are many places to just explore and see if there is something interesting – I did find a few things, although some things I will perhaps not have use for – yet.

Some of the new missions provided were from Ms Radcliffe and Harrison Blake, working for the Orochi Group. They are just hilarious to listen to when they talk about the situation (the occult outbreak) and their work related to Condition 17…zombies.

The northern part of the area contains some of the tougher enemies it seems, with some pretty fairly fun enemies. I enjoyed fighting quite a bit – with a bit of practice I got better at using a combination of the skills/abilities that I had picked, chaos magic and fist weapons. Possibly a combination of a bit better gear but I think also a bit better in using the skills and have a decent combination of skills helped. Some of the enemies I could not take down before, at least not with some consumables to help, were now possible to defeat without too much trouble.

A big bad boy

So with that lets go a bit more into these progression systems.
Read more…

Categories: The Secret World

NBI: Blog posting

May 17, 2012 19 comments

The Newbie Blogger Initiative is in full swing this month, so I thought I would provide a few suggestions and advice on writing blog posts. As I cannot claim to be a particularly successful blogger (no fame and glory), this is also a mix of things that I do as well as things that I do not do – at least not regularly.

  • Schedule your blog writing, not your blog posting
    Unless you write for a living, chances are that  you may not be able to write blog posts at a regular, frequent interval and provide good content. Better then to schedule times for when you sit down and write blog posts. If you do not allocate time in advance, chances are you might not write anything – “no time right now”.
    Once you are happy with a blog post, then you can publish it.
    It may take 1 session, 2 sessions, 5 sessions – eventually you will have written something you are happy with.
  • Avoid walls of text
    Make it easy for your reader to read your text – people will generally read it through a browser on a computer, or perhaps a tablet or a mobile phone. Reasonably small paragraphs with some space in between will help.
    New readers might also just decide to ignore your post, too much effort to figure out if it is worthwhile to read for them.

A picture says more than a thousand words – they can also help to divide up long texts and be used as an attention-grabber

  • In the first paragraph, write a summary and introduction to what your blog post is about
    This is a technique that is used in newspaper articles, to capture interested readers and/or get part of the message across for those that are simply browsing.
    A lot of people will be reading blogs through an RSS/ATOM reader or stumble upon blog posts through search engines. Without something to draw their interest, they might just consider skipping it if they are not a regular reader.
  • Use a spell checker
    Bad spelling and grammar can diminish the general experience of your post. This is in particular something to have in mind if you do not write in your native language. Not that native speakers are immune to bad spelling and grammar, but we who post blogs in other languages than our own may still be at a slight disadvantage here.
    Regardless of what language you write in, chances are that you may be blind to the mistakes you make because your mind sees what you intended and not what you have written.
  • When you have written your blog post, go back and update the first introduction/summary paragraph
    If you have used the previous suggestion with a summary in the beginning, go back and rewrite it when you are done with your blog post. Chances are that what you ended up writing is not entirely what you initially thought you would write. Plus you might have thought of a much better way to describe it at this point.
  • When you have finished writing the blog post, do not click Publish immediately
    If you are like me you have ended up spending more time writing the post than you have planned for, it is late in the evening/night or you have to rush to do something else. Not a good time to publish it, especially if you are forcing or squeezing out the last parts. Chances are that you have forgotten something you wanted to include, some phrases will look weird, you have made spelling mistakes etc. In most cases it does not have to be published right now.
    Relax a little bit, perhaps do something else and then read the post again.
    If you are still happy with it, then publish it.

Personally I have been consistently bad at scheduling my blog writing time – the few times I have done that it has worked out well, I think. I am a bit too quick to publish something I have written also, especially after a (too) long writing session. For me, most of the hits I get on the blog come from search engines, but I have no idea how often or how many of these may continue to read what I write beyond what initially got them here.

Categories: General, MMO Games, NBI

The Secret World – beta weekend #2

May 14, 2012 1 comment

Over in The Secret World forums Funcom has posted an announcement for the next Beta Weekend, called Kingsmouth Calling, Part Two. Not sure if the characters from the previous beta weekend will still be there, or if they wipe everything. Since they call it part two I guess the characters will remain. I would love to continue exploring, but on the other hand I do not want to play too much before the launch either. Below is a quote from the announement:

The Secret World Beta Weekend #2, titled “Kingsmouth Calling, Part Two” begins on Friday May 18th at 9am PDT (16:00 GMT / noon EDT) and lasts until Sunday May 20th at 11.59pm PDT (Monday May 21st, 06:59 GMT / 2.59am EDT).

If you have pre-ordered The Secret World previously you automatically have access to this Beta Weekend as well. We have also teamed up with several profiled European sites this week and these will be giving away keys for this Beta Weekend specifically. These sites are:

These sites will be bringing their giveaway live throughout the week so keep checking in on them.

In this Beta Weekend event, players must return to Kingsmouth as an initiate of the Templars and investigate the myths and mysteries of the town and its surrounding areas. In addition to all the content of the previous Beta Weekend, in this event you get to meet more of the brave and resourceful holdouts in Kingsmouth to learn their stories and pursue the many new missions they have for you.

Several characters, storylines and missions have been added since the previous Beta Weekend.
You can head over to the scrapyard and talk to Edgar. Apart from his two mean dogs, Tango and Cash, Edgar hasn’t seen many friendly faces lately. Not only has the scrap he has collected over the years come alive, and risen as powerful golems, but he is also neck deep in zombies. Edgar could really use your help to rid himself of some barrels of highly flammable gasoline – and some zombies.

Over at the airport the veteran mechanic Ellis Hill is holding out against an onslaught of Draug from the sea. These corrupted and ancient creatures are getting bolder and bolder, but seem to be weary of light. Though Ellis is handy with a gun, he could really use some assistance getting the generator going again.

The enigmatic and powerful Orochi Corporation is keeping a watchful eye on the dark happenings in Kingsmouth. Two of their representatives, Ann Radcliffe and Harrison Blake, are getting quite frustrated with their orders to just observe and not intervene.

They are in need of someone with special powers to investigate what lies behind the rising darkness, but perhaps it is smart to do a little investigation into Orochi itself as well?

The mysteries of Kingsmouth are yours to unravel.

Categories: The Secret World