Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Mage (100th Post)

Well, I have a paladin, druid, hunter and a really low level mage. Now, I like my mage, but I always think that they are better than they really are. They really don't have enough health to stand up to anyone in a melee fight. They do have the power to kill people from afar but then they really have to rest after they kill anyone because of the large mana requirements of all their spells. I wish I could have all these guys up at 70, but I really don't have the time. I work all the time and I wish I didn't so much. I have worked constantly since two wednesdays ago. Wednesday through saturday, monday through friday, then i went to tahoe with my family until today. Now, this is a vacation but I like my house and I like my room and I miss it. I have all this stuff for a good reason, which is to use it. There was internet up at tahoe but it was slow and only available from the window sill of my room. There was the Hyatt across the street and I didn't want to go over there just to play World of Warcraft. I will also be working from wednesday to saturday it looks like. This bums me out a little bit. We are returning home a little early, which I am all for. I do want some off days though. I want to just sit around and play World of Warcraft. I also want to play through the new Team Fortress 2 achievements and test out all the new heavy weapons, which one of them seems to be a sandwich to regain health when you do not have a medic around. This is a good thing to put in there, allowing heavies to be a class that is good to play when you do not necessarily have a medic on your team.

I think that heavies are a class that really insights terror into the other team. When I as a soldier round to corner and see that ugly russian heavy visage, I turn and run right away. There is no way that I can take him on. I can take him if i get the element of surprise on him, because I can get at least 2 rockets at him before he can even start shooting me. The sandwich will not be in any way replacement to a medic. I am assuming that the sandwich is a single use thing that must be switched to use. This would stop the damage output from the heavy by a significant amount, first to stop firing, switch to it, use it, and then switch back to the minigun and start firing again. So this sandwich will probably just be a out of combat use thing that you use after a fight. Also, the new five maps will have to be played so that I can get use to them. I still think Goldrush is a thing of beauty along with Dustbowl and Badlands. I hope that the new payload map is as genius and fun as Goldrush. I do admit that I have not really played a lot of Fastlane and that other new one. Also, arena mode will be able to bring the strategy of Counter-Strike Source to Team Fortress. As it is now, there might be game plans, but they are only general strategies. There are no things that people do that are incredibly specific like in Source.

Speaking of Source, I have sorta taken it up on my free time. It's an incredible game. It's fast, intense and complex. My favorite map is definitely Dust2. It's evenly balanced, and small, allowing for quick transversals of the map. The thing that really makes me mad is when I die very quickly and don't even kill anyone, or even hurt anyone. That is one thing that Halo really hooked people on, is the ease of killing people randomly and not dying easily. You can throw a grenade and, if there are any people around at all, you can probably kill one. But, Halo also made it so that you could take a grenade and not die. It was the game for people who were new to shooters and it hooked them in for other ones. I do not particularly like Halo anymore, but I have many fond memories playing it with all my friends. It also hooked me in for games like Gears of War and Counter Strike.

This furthers my belief that what you like now is primarily a product of where you were. I first played Halo at Chris Clark's house and I was really bad at it. But I liked it and kept playing and got way better, eventually becoming the best of all my friends. I then learned about the video gaming center The Matrix. We went down there and use to pay $5 an hour to play the games on their high end computers. I use to play Counter Strike and Battlefield 1942. I eventually got Counter Strike on my home computer and played there and stopped going to The Matrix for I could play all their games. I then played Halo 2 a lot after it came out. I think the success of Halo 2 rested on the ease of play online and the fact that no other games for the Xbox came out at that time. There were games like Half Life 2 and Counter-Strike Source, but I didn't have the money to do computer games then. After Halo 2, came Gears of War, then Halo 3. I liked Gears a lot more than I liked Halo 3 I think because Gears was so different and a departure from the traditional run and gun gaming. But then, I started playing more and more computer games on my brother's computer, which reigned supreme over my eMachine piece of garbage. One day, I bought the orange box and played Team Fortress 2. That game was truly amazing and I remember the day I knew I would play it forever. I bought a BFC can of monster on a friday afternoon and played until 3am. That was last October. And I am still playing it. I did take a break from it for a couple months and right now am not playing it a lot, with WoW taking up most of my time. But I am not expecting to quit any time in the near future. There really isn't game on the horizon that has me very excited. I am very on board with World of Warcraft, its upcoming expansion, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike Source and Starcraft 2. Okay I lied, Starcraft 2 has me excited.

What does worry me is if World of Warcraft will get boring. The grind is pretty common in virtually all forms of WoW. Even with my level 70, I am still needing to grind rep in order to get those patterns. With Wrath coming out, all the factions that we grinded o so hard to get up will become useless because new factions will come out. Argent Dawn is not going to all of a sudden become useful again. If they do, they are rewarding old players and not encouraging new players to come in. That is the same reason that the Sha'tar will not be useful in Wrath. I think that World of Warcraft will end at level 100. By that time, levels 1-90 will be a breeze. It will fly and it will only demand about a quest or two a zone to level up. I also think that either 80-90 or 90-100 expansion will be the emerald dream. Maybe, in a bold move, Blizzard will make the Emerald Dream expansion a 80-100 expansion. Also, I think a very interesting idea would be that if you could start a character at level 60. All characters that went through the all 100 levels will be "true" level 100s but you can do it.That would allow people who want to play a chance to only have to level 40 times. That would devastate the old world and would make getting an instance group together for anything but 60+ instances impossible without prior planning. One thing that would also not surprise me is if Blizzard made every instance available in Heroic mode. If Razorfen Downs was a 80 instance, I might be encouraged to go do it. That is the only reason I am doing things like The Botanica and Ramparts. I might be able to experience Blackfathom Deeps and Maruadan and Dire Maul. Also, it would not surprise me if they tuned down Upper Blackrock Spire and Molten Core and other old raids and even Burning Crusade raids to 5-mans and made it a heroic. If Blizzard did those things, it might breathe old life back into a dead world.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

on the road blog

now now now, what is there to do? well, i could write. but of course, what is there to write about?


Now, I usually right about things that are philosophical in nature, usually trends in video games that I see as troubling. But, I have exhausted tings to talk about for now, so I'm going to be a little more shallow and World of Warcraft related.

As previously stated in this blog, I have a level 70 Paladin, who happens to be Holy Speced (Healer) Paladin named Akoris. I do have about 20-21 days of play time on him and I still have a lot to do. I play him continuously because I need to do things that I can do without raiding. Namely, getting badges for my good plate healer belt, but I was able to pickup a blue healer belt for about 70g today on the AH. I'm also going for the best healing trinket in the game. I have a badge trinket that is very good and my other is just a philosopher's stone, making it better than my running trinket. I do miss my Nifty Stopwatch. It made getting away from a lethal fight a lot better. But, I need to craft my healing trinket, from alchemy. I did pay about 700g to level that up to 375, which is the max level. Now I have to get to revered with Sha'tar. I did recently get to honored with them and that allowed me to purchase the Heroic key for the Tempest Keep instance wings. Then, I have to make an alchemist's stone with the recipe I can purchase with the revered reputation. That will take a lot of money to do, but it will give me +15 to all stats, which will help. After that, I have to gain exalted with Shattered Sun Offensive, which I'm at about half way to. Exalted will get me the Redeemers Alchemist's Stone recipe, which will give me +115 to healing and mana potions become 40% more effective. It will also give me a good neck item that gives some pretty bonus healing. Then, I have some raiding to do to get some gear. I need a new chest piece, gloves, wrist and shoulders. My chest, gloves and shoulders are good because they are epics and have good stats, but they are PvP pieces of gear and are not for raiding. My gloves and pants are cloth and don't give enough armor, but will do because they are PvE pieces. 

That is stuff I have to do. That is a lot to do. I have a 36 Druid from my server Kil' Jaeden that I transfered to Kul Tiras. I went balance spec because I was bored with feral. I do like it actually. I heard that Moonkin form is pretty good, so I am excited about that. But, I don't want to play him when I have so much more to do on Akoris. I feel like I am not doing him justice or something. I feel I need to have someone good before I work on someone else. I also have a 21 hunter that I would to play some more of but I run into the same dilemma that I do with the druid. I get on them and realize that I have more to do with Akoris. I also immediately realize why I loved Akoris and why I played him all the way to 70. I really loved Paladins and I loved him so much that I played him constantly all the way to 67.  

Friday, August 15, 2008

Use what now?

I wish I played the drums. The drum set I use for Rock Band is used constantly and I am really getting good at it. But real drums are loud, noisy and you can't pack them away under your bed. Games today seem to like to add elements to add realism to our games. We first concentrated on graphics, then sound and now we are moving to the next sense of touch. The consumer doesn't know it, but they want to be a Guitar Hero, so Harmonix makes a game where you can play a plastic guitar and be good with no calluses and, if desired, no sound. This really isn't all that new except everyone with an PlayStation can buy it. Arcades have had race car, ski-do, snow mobile and pod racer simulations for a long while now. But now, we can set up our band in the living room. Then Harmonix broke new ground and made plastic, fake drums, which included real replicas of drum sticks.

Nintendo had tapped into this market now. Wii is an entire console based around touch and motion realism. Bowling, baseball, tennis and golf are games included with it and of course have the corresponding motions to go along with it. Then Wii fit game out, complete with a yoga mat and all. Let's run over the fake plastic stuff we have now: PS2 guitars, XBox 360 guitars, drums and microphone, and Wii mat, gun, racket and bat. And I don't really have a huge closet or anything.

That's all good because at least we can use them in future games, right? Apparently not. Guitar Hero 4, who is jumping the fake band boat, has announced it will have drums and microphone included. Of course, the Rock band drums won't work because the GH4 drums have a totally different layout. Rock Band 2 is also designing a new layout for it's drums, rendering it previous version a useless piece of earth polluting garbage. It is comforting that Harmonix recognizes this and it offering all Rock Band 1 songs as free downloadable content so that you can really throw away or long term store your fake drum set. Wouldn't both companies sell more game copies if they standardized the designs?

This trend might be a good thing. It does really make us feel like we are playing the drums and can help us feel as though we are playing tennis or at yoga class. But, as it is, because of multiple companies in the market competing, everyone will make their peripherals game unique and only for one generation will they be usable. If Company A stays with one design, Company B will innovate and they will get more sales revenue and the publishing company of Company A will yank the cord from Company A and those nice game designers will be out of a job. If my complaint is that all this junk takes too much space, Wii is really catering to me, for the controller and the num-chuck really have multiple uses. I think that this whole peripheral war was instigated by the government in an effort to get video game nerds out of apartment and into houses with bigger closets and garages. That might stimulate this housing market.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Depth of Interest

I know what it means to play a game for a long time. I currently have at least 634 hours of Wold o Warcraft. That's a lot of game time. On my character Akoris, my level 70 Paladin has about 20 Days of playing time. That is 480 hours of playing. It really says something about the game when it can hold interest for that long. But why do games strive to hold our interest for such a long time? For a game like WoW, there is a monetary incentive for it: the longer people play, the more subscription fees they collect. Yet that isn't the case with a game like Oblivion, which an entirely offline, single player game. There were times when Donkey Kong, a 2D platformer, was the pinnacle of gaming, being fun and easy to pick up.

Why do we strive for depth in our games? It isn't about just shooting people over and over and over. People enjoy novelty in games, which is why Geometry Wars can be fun. It is certainly different to fly around shooting shapes. Yet, that doesn't remain fun. The game eventually introduces different modes in the game, different guns and more shapes and more enemies. Yet that game looses it fun after a while because it is always the same. That is where WoW gets its fun. There is always more. More areas, more spells, more levels, more dungeons, more fights, more gear and more quests. Is this truly fun,. or is all this new stuff just renewed novelty? Is depth just renewed novelty? Just an effort to give us new stuff all the time? Maybe depth is just an excuse to not come up with something fun, just give us so much that we think what we do is fun. We are constantly impressed by all the new stuff that we are getting that we fail to realize that what we did wasn't fun. 

Depth might be good for players who really want to play and for people who are veterans to the game, but does it stop some players from playing? WoW is about to release the new expansion pack Wrath of the Lich King which raises the level cap to 80. 80! That is quite a milestone. For players at the current level cap of 70, that is only 10 more levels. But to a newbie, that is 80 levels. Blizzard did cut the experience required to get from 20-60, a process that seemed to have been largely ignored by the game's designers which is evident is the amount of ingenuity put in. But that is still a long ways to go and a lot of things to do. Is the amount of depth in a game like WoW a good thing or would it scare off new players? Team Fortress 2 is running into this problem. It gave players unlockables which rewarded players for laying well. But, all these new weapons and perks give them an unfair advantage over their lesser experienced counterparts. Could these barriers to entry be a reason that a game like Counterstrike:Source is so successful? It is still being played in record numbers today, with thousands of servers still up and tournaments being held around the globe. The money system in that game allows players to buy better guns, but that resets after every game. Pros and novices start out with the exact same amount of money in the beginning. Will Team Fortress 2 still be as popular 4 years from now? Or will these new unlockables keep piling up so much that new people will not want to start playing and experienced players will stop playing because things stop being new.

Monday, August 04, 2008

just awesome

Murder Suspect Too Busy Playing Guitar Hero To Notice Impending Arrest

My LAN party

I went to another AG LAN Saturday. Pretty good LAN. I played a remarkable amount of World of Warcraft for a LAN party. I played a lot of Team Fortress 2 as well. I punched out a lot more BonK members as a Heavy than I should have, namely 3. Sorry, I'm sorta blogged out for now. Read my post below to know why.

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Team Fortress 2

The Good Story

I like science and programming. That is the reason I applied to college under that particular major. However, one part about me wants to be a writer. Now, I'm not talking about Stephen King or John Gresham or JK Rowling or Fyodar Dostoevsky. I'm was thinking more along the lines of a magazine writer for PC Gamer or EGM. The reason I didn't want to try and go to college for that specific career in mind is because I know how hard it would be to get that job. People stay at magazines for a while and they don't hire a lot of people. So, therefore being a software engineer would be a much more lucrative choise, as computer development is listed as on the most rapidily growing fields of work.

Working at a video game or computer related magazine would be an amazing chance because it would combine some of my favorite passions: video games and writing. I do like to write, but really only opinion pieces, ones that I have a chance to be funny or witty or what have you. I do fancy myself a person who is relativly persecptive and is funny so putting my speech into writing would not be that hard to do, especially on things I know a lot about. This is one of the reasons I started this blog. It is a place where I can write about video games and a place to practice writing. I don't really write anything of real importance here, mostly about what I have been playing and what is cool about it and what have you. I have heard that blogging promotes blogging and the more you do it, the more you want to. I also posed the question, is blogging about one or two sentences or is it about fully fleshed out ideas that read like Magazine articles.

Now, getting to my point. If blogs are about realized and interpreted ideas, what does one write about? I could come and complain that the reason I don't do the former is because there is nothing to write about. But that is clearly not true for the folks over at PC Gamer do it every month. So, maybe the key to being a good writer is finding those things to talk about. That stories and articles are the ones that no one has really thought about. If everyone has already realized why things are the way they are, we would be stuck thinking "That sky is blue". Instead, the truly writers are the ones out there pushing the bounds of human thought, thinking that the true meaning of exsistence is to be nice to each other and make humanity have a nice day. So, if I really want to be a writer I should find things to write about that are things that no one else has though about. I also suppose that sort of thinking is what makes is possible to get 5s on the English AP test.