Archive for May 2012
I’ll flat out say it: If you don’t pick up the HumbleBundle.com deal, you’re probably not even a gamer. Really, look at this list!
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Steam price: $19.99)
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP (Steam price $7.99)
LIMBO (Steam price $9.99)
Psychonauts (Steam price $9.99)
And if you pay more than the average…
Bastion (Steam price $14.99)
Do the math! That’s $62.95 worth of games.
Now, I can’t really speak for Amnesia, Superbrothers, or Bastion, but I have played Limbo and Psychonauts and I can guarantee that they are worth Whatever-price-you-want-to-pay-for-them! I don’t know if there is a minimum, but that means if you even donate $1, you get the top 4 games, but you shouldn’t only donate that as the money is going to good causes like Child’s Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If you pay more than the average, which is currently at $7.49 as of this writing and climbing quick with every purchase made, you also get Bastion, too, which looks pretty sweet.
Psychonauts: From a little known studio called “Double Fine Productions”. Oh, wait! They’re known by everybody!
Well, what are you waiting for! Go donate!
What a long strange trip it’s been. No, really, this month has been absolutely incredible.
The Newbie Blogger Initiative was essentially a month of tried and tested blogs promoting and sponsoring new and just-off-the-boat blogs, like Casual Aggro, all in the name of community, goodwill, and mutual interest. To call it a success is an understatement. My little part of the blogging universe has seen incredible numbers that still leave me gobsmacked. And I really have Syp to thank for all of it.
Without his initial support you, an awesome person who has taken the time to come and read my ramblings, would probably not have stopped by. However, I am certainly glad you have and I hope that you enjoy what you are reading. If you are, drop me a line! If you don’t, drop me a line, too, and let me know where I could use improvement.
If you have enjoyed my random insights into gaming today, you might also enjoy any of these fine blogs as well. This list is very comprehensive, but if one of them catches your interest, please give it a look. The author, karma, and I thank you.
New blogs to check out:
Sponsor advice posts:
- Stropp’s World: Being a blogger superstar, Just do it, The pros and cons of self-hosting
- StarShadow: Some blogging advice, Themes and widgets, Screenshots, Menus, categories and tags
- In An Age: Advice for new bloggers
- Tish Tosh Tesh: Who Am I?, Blogging is a social activity, For love or money,Thinking linking, Traditions
- Tastes Like Battle Chicken: Build your own boss, Week 2 challenge, A few words of wisdom, Week 4 challenge
- Tales of the Aggronaut: The Google Reader blogroll, Getting started, Be open-minded (unlike me)
- Wadstomp Gaming: The importance of social media, Submit a guest post, The best advertising payouts, Be sure to burn your blog to feedburner, Create your own voice
- Beau Hindman: General advice, Indie games and bloggers
- Games and Geekery: Why you should blog, Learning about blogging from perfect strangers
- Skycandy: Blogging wrong, blogging right
- Shards of Imagination: Choosing the subject of your blog
- MMO Compendium: Keeping up with the industry and bloggers
- Contains Moderate Peril: Some general guidance, Mind your language, Stats,Episode 61
- Lotro Fashion: Screenshots make your blog interesting
- High Latency Life: Finding your voice, You need a thick skin
- Scary Worlds: Mobile blogging, Creating a good title, Advice you don’t want to hear
- ETCmmo.com: General advice
- Nerdy Bookahs: Why do you want to blog?, Why haven’t you started your blog yet?
- World of Matticus: WordPress plugins, Finishing your blog setup, Making connections
- World’s End Tavern: General tips
- Parallel Context: The best advice
- Tremayne’s Law: Read Think Write Edit
- Jaded Alt: So you wanna be a blogger?, What’s in a name?, If you remember nothing else… write!
- Avatars of Steel: Curling up with a good blog
- Blog de la Burro: Why I started blogging, Some advice on blogging, Does traffic matter?, How to deal with writer’s block, What you should blog about, Are comments important?, Is it ever okay to rant?, How to get noticed
- Inventory Full: How the Bhagpuss came to be, Take a moment, Backing up your blog
- Gamerlady: Tips to start
- Just One MMOre: How to be consistent and make it painless and easy, One question high-traffic blogs ask
- Spinksville: Picture manipulation tools and copyright
- T.R. Red Skies: Quick tips, Objectivity, relating and heart
- Live Like a Nerd: WordPress plugins for bloggers
- I Have Touched the Sky: Avoid barriers to commenting on Blogger, Blogs lists and RSS
- Thade’s Hammer: Advice for the new bloggers
- Levelcapped: Tell me about yourself, None of my business
- Psychochild: What makes your blog special
- Bullet Points: The worst advice you’ll ever receive about blogging, You are your blog
- A Casual Stroll to Mordor: Learn how to podcast, Writing for the web
- Contains Moderate Peril: Episode 58, Fine-turning your blog
- A Green Mushroom: Blogging tips and hints
- Too Many Annas: Picking a name
- Grimnir’s Grudge: It feels good to be a blogger
- Gankalicious: Never tell the truth, Meeting interesting people, Who the hell reads this?
- Herding Cats: Creating a podcast on the cheap with WordPress
- Distilled Willpower: 8 blogging tips they won’t tell you
- Vicarious Experience: From there to here
- TL-DR: Protect your blog!, Tags and Categories
- Multiplaying: You should be blogging
- Blue Kae: Advice is a strong word
- Screaming Monkeys: Top five tips
- Caer Morrighan: Get started with WoW blogging
- Hawt Pants: New blogger advice
- Tiger Ears: Why I started blogging
- Berath’s Brain Burps: Sage words, How to get lots and lots of hits
- Just One More Unlock: Newbie blogger tips, Opportunity
- Hunter’s Insight: An idea is formed, What not to do
- ALT:ernative: Starting at the beginning, The first idea
- Epic Slant: Tips and links, Guest post
- MMOGC: 3 little things
- A Journey through the Mind: My 0.2 ISK
- Red Cow Rise: What and why to post, Blog setup and community building
- Epic Slant: Writer’s block
- Creeping…: So you think you can blog
- The Ancient Gaming Noob: Playing blogroll breadcrumbs
- Dragonchasers: How not to build an audience
- Welcome to Spinksville: What you should write and how to write it
- The Stories of O: Top 4 tips
- A Ding World: Blog posting
- The Wild Boar Inn: Blogging tips
- Professor Beej: Stop writing!
- Nomnom.info: 4 blogging tips
- Gamer BC: A solid foundation and a step forward
- Casual Is As Casual Does: Tips, tricks and who am I kidding
- Roll One Hundred: Managing screenshots
- Bullet Points: I refuse to call it a blogosphere
- KIASA: Good advice
- Pumping Irony: Before taking the plunge
- Life is a Mind-Bending Puzzle: Wrapping up advice all in one place
- Rikna’s Rants: The blog rings, By this keyboard I rule!, Guests and cross posts
- Sheep the Diamond: Advice from an old bull
That’s a serious list, right? I hope that in the coming weeks, I’ll be able to peruse all of them and then pass on some great stuff.
1 month down and hopefully many more to go.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m in a regular gaming group. I know, I know. Me. Why is this a surprise? Well, gaming has never been one of my big hobbies until recently. Sure, I played games and I was a fan, but I was never the “gaming group” kind of guy. Raiding? Nah. Never liked scheduling gaming. What made me switch, I guess, was Twitter. I started using Twitter a few months ago for the giveaways and prize opportunities you see from time to time and at the same time I started following a few of my favorite writers, game companies, bloggers and well… one thing led to another. Syp, a very prolific blogger and spearhead of the Newbie Blogger Initiative (of which I am a part of), posted a question if anyone wanted to form a Dungeons and Dragons Online gaming group. My first thought was… Nah. No way. Its not me. Despite this, though, I found myself saying “Yeah, sure!” and after the feeling of foreboding that formed in my stomach cleared and we started playing I started really having fun… and found out exactly how much all the MMO experience I have from other games is worth nothing in Dungeons and Dragons Online. Here are a few things of what makes DDO different.
The way characters are created and how they level up is completely different, and this is where I feel the most inexperienced. I created a Bard, which I assumed would stand in the back, play a little music, and essentially offer support. So how does it play? A Two-Handed Axe wielding damage dealer that gets up in your face! Every once in a while I’ll play a song or two to buff my group or daze some enemies, but really its all about going toe-to-toe and smacking baddies upside the head. This has confused me to no end.
Character Creation overall is very open. Every level you gain is a momentous occasion! So much so, that you don’t automatically level. The choices made during leveling are so important, it gives you as much time as you need to figure it out. Most other MMOs you visit your trainer and get new skills, but in DDO you have the ability to gain the abilities of other classes entirely. Say you start a rogue. Well, after a couple of levels you could switch it up and take the rest of your levels as a wizard. This could help to increase evasion in combat or help you with traps. Multi-classing seems to be a very popular thing to do in DDO as it helps create very customized builds.
Personally, although I love a lot of depth when it comes to character creation, I’m afraid of it becoming an illusion of choice. If you don’t pick the best options, then you can very easily break your character and make it so you become less effective at the high levels of the game. I guess I’ll find out, although if anyone experienced has advice about building Bards, I’d be happy to hear it.
I’ve got bad news… I think I dropped my keys…
Just like other games, beating up bad guys, opening chests (which might be trapped, by the way), and completing quests gets you loot. The loot, though, is just… different. Its hard to explain. Instead of getting gear with stats where the weapons you have are based on your class, loot is meant to simply complement your skills chosen during leveling. If you pick proficiency in swords, you can still wield a club, it just won’t do as much damage or your chance to hit won’t be as high as a sword, but the club might be better against some enemies. Armor can protect you, but it also makes you less dexterous or can make your spells fizzle. Boots, wrists, rings, helm, and cloak instead of offering armor and stats can give you a new spells to cast, or buff a skill, like “spot” or “listen”. So the way loot is given, confusion easily sets in when every item choice is not an obvious upgrade. Suddenly, I could wear a cloak that increases my Charisma, or wear a cloak that lets me cast “Mage Armor”. I right now have both… as I really can’t choose between them as I still don’t have a full grasp on what my character can do.
Traps and Puzzles
Picture this, you’re sneaking through a dungeon (because everyone can sneak, too… just maybe not as effectively as others) and your senses point you out to a trap ahead. A trap. Nothing obvious, like a spot of fire on the ground that you shouldn’t stand in, but a spot where spikes will come out of the ground and run you through. If you’re a rogue, you could try disarming it. If you have enough skill in “Jump”, you could jump past it and try to avoid the damage. Tricky. Or when you hit a lever, the floor gives out just like you’re Indiana Jones or something. This truly makes every dungeon feel a little more suspenseful. There could be a trap right in front of you, and if you don’t have the proper skills, you would never know until it hit you.
Then, the prize you seek is sitting on top of a pedestal surrounded by a bubble of magic. How do you get rid of it? By shifting floor panels on the ground until a beam of light hits the pedestal. A puzzle! Not a difficult puzzle, mind you, but a puzzle! A real puzzle! Now, I haven’t been playing it that long, but I really can’t wait to encounter some real mind-benders. Not going to cheat and use a guide, either. In my opinion, that just takes away the fun, but the more puzzles in the game the better.
Killing Monsters Does Not Give Experience
Unless the quest was to specifically kill a monster, experience is gained by completing quest objectives and you get no experience for killing monsters. This means that if you’re not the most hardy of characters, and killing the monster isn’t necessary, you could just sneak past them. Most times, they don’t even have loot on them. Unlike other games where you could pass a group of mobs, but doing so means missing out on their loot and experience, there is no penalty for skipping them. It becomes a tactical choice instead of mandatory or a punishment. This gives the feeling that every encounter is important, and gives many different ways to complete each quest.
The weekly DDO group watching the scene unfold below.
A Brave New World
Overall, all of this leads to one conclusion: I have no idea what I’m doing. I probably won’t for quite a while, either. The learning curve is pretty steep. With all of these points, even though some of them can be found in other games, like puzzles in Star Trek Online or situational loot like in Guild Wars, they really set Dungeons and Dragons Online apart. My main fear is somehow messing up my character with the really complex character system, but this is the way Dungeons and Dragons players like it.
Even though it’s totally out of character for me, I’m really glad that I’ve joined this weekly group. Not only are the guys I’m playing with awesome, but the game itself is growing on me week after week.
P.S. – For some good reading, check out some of the blogs by fellow weekly group members: Professor Beej, Psychochild’s Blog, Warrior Needs Time Badly, and Bio Break (although Syp hasn’t found time to play with us, despite starting the group in the first place. )
I love a good Steam sale. No, really, my collection is rather ridiculous. It was during one of these sales that I saw and picked up The Baconing, an indie title from Hothead Games. With a title like that, how could I not? It wasn’t until after I started playing it that I realized it was the third of a trilogy, where the first two were made by the legendary Ron Gilbert, creator of the Monkey Island series, which I also highly suggest picking up. Even without his genius, The Baconing is still a fun as heck game, and I’m now waiting for the first and second of the trilogy to go on sale so I can pick them up as well (C’mon Steam! Get on that!).
The 2D/3D effect is a killer art style.
After listening to the last STOked episode, I jumped into Star Trek Online and played a bit of the foundry. Personally, I love the Foundry. I haven’t created any missions myself (yet), but the creativity that other players come up with is amazing. The good stuff is a little tricky to find, though, so I mainly get my Foundry playlists from trusted sources, like StarbaseUGC, STOked, and finally Cryptic themselves. I’m glad that Cryptic has started promoting specific missions because then at least you know they are going to be good. For the record, I went in to play two missions specifically: ‘The Worst of Both Worlds’ and ‘Temple of Pah-Wraiths’, both made by Captain_Revo, and both are more than worth it.
Bajor never looked so… Borg-y.
Finally, I haven’t yet gone back into Lord of the Rings Online for the Spring Festival. I know, I know, I was just complaining about not having time for special events, but this one I will make. It’s on until June 11th, though, so I got plenty of time. I’m even considering starting a new character. I do like the Loremaster, but its not as up-close and personal as I prefer.
I consider myself a fairly decent poker player. I’ve played mostly Texas Hold-Em’ in friend’s basements, and also down at the tables in Atlantic City with the majority of times walking away with more than I started with. Poker teaches you, among other things, a lot about the sunk cost fallacy, or basically “the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it”. The key is getting a decent hand, and then pulling other players into a “sunk cost” trap while avoiding falling into it yourself. The sunk cost fallacy doesn’t just come into play in poker, but in life, too. Once you become invested, with time, money, and emotions in something, like say an MMO, it’s hard to detach yourself and think rationally about it.
However, we’re not just sheep. When a developer changes our game, we feel cheated, right? We feel that we’re paying for it, therefore we should decide what goes on with it! The changes they’re making are stupid! Any idiot can see that what they’re doing will RUIN the game! If this patch doesn’t change, I’m going to leave this stupid game and take my money elsewhere! – A post found after every set of patch notes released ever.
If a change is made in one of our favorite games, a game that we’ve invested a huge amount of time playing, and we don’t like it, instead of taking a look at what the game has changed to and either accepting it rationally or deciding to pass, we rarely make the right choice. I mean, these are MMOs! The whole point is that the game changes over time! I’ve seen time and again in forums and in the comment sections of articles a flat out lambasting of the subject matter or the author about why the game will fail because of a newly implemented feature and nobody will ever play it again.
Unnecessary. Really, its unnecessary. I’m not saying that criticism can’t be given to the developers about what players think should change, this is the whole reason why forums exist, but why does all the negativity and hostility have to go along with it?
How about the NEW ending?
If you can’t tell by now, I play Star Trek Online. When the game was released, the phrase “half-baked” was putting it mildly. The game was filled with bugs, had a very steep learning curve, and it seemed like you played the same five “random” missions over again. Eventually, the game went free-to-play and was bought up by Perfect World Entertainment. Believe it or not, this changed the game dramatically. Shocking, right? Lockboxes, time-gated content, multiple forms of currency, real money transactions, and huge grinds were brought along with it, something seen in pretty much every other Perfect World title.
Is it better? Is it worse? Arguments can be made for both causes, but the game is what it is. Its evolved far from the game that is was. This applies to every game out there: Take it for what it is, or leave it. I’m still a huge fan of Star Trek, and I will still play it and enjoy it. If you’re really that compelled to complain incessantly about how they are working on a new character model to go into the game’s store instead of a new endgame content, instead try to look at how much that really bothers you. If it bothers you to the point of rage quitting, then quit. Find some other form of entertainment that won’t make you turn red in the face at it’s mere mention.
We play these games to have fun. Plain and simple. If you’re not having fun, then why do you play at all?
Hey buddy! Cheer up!
The latest episode of STOked is not the most complimentary of the changes that have been made to Star Trek Online, and it shocked me. The whole reason why I joined the Star Trek Online community was because of STOked! It was because of Chris and Jeremy and the bottomless fountain of passion that they had for the game. They oozed excitement and wanted you to be excited with them. I read Massively because the passion is evident there, too, and I’ve stopped reading numerous other sites because they turned too negative, they lost the passion, they lost the fun.
Most changes that have been made to Star Trek Online since being bought by Perfect World have been to monetize and work in a formula of success that Perfect World has proven time and again with their other games. The developers may have their hands tied and may not have many choices when it comes to implementing these systems. Does it matter? I don’t think so.
What I see is a group of developers that have a huge amount of passion for their game, and they are doing everything in their power to not only abide by these rules, but also provide a product that is fun and they can be proud of.
The day that passion is gone will be the day that the game is no longer worth playing. With the developers that Cryptic has now, that day is nowhere in sight.
P.S. – I want to give a big ‘Thank you!’ to the always passionate Terilynn. She is always willing to lend a hand, and that’s an awesome quality to have.
Have you ever heard of a ‘Bag of Crap’ from Woot.com? A ‘Bag of Crap’ is an item that Woot sells for $8 and has 3 random items from their storeroom. Almost always, these items are going to be worth more than the $8 you pay for them, and getting your hands on one is exceptionally difficult. Over time, I’ve been able to grab 2 Bags of Crap. The first bag contained a paper mache mask, a piece of string, and an iRobot Roomba Floor Vacuum. The second one I opened? A nice red backpack, a car battery jumper, and an Egyptian cotton bathrobe. 100% worth what I paid for them. I’ve even heard of someone getting a 46″ HDTV in a ‘Bag of Crap’. A lockbox is a similar concept.
Lockboxes. They’re one of the new trends in online gaming today. Not to say they haven’t been around before, they’ve been very popular in MMOs all around the world for a long time, now. It has been only recently that they have started popping up in more popular MMOs like Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, City of Heroes, and the upcoming Guild Wars 2.
To those that have never heard of lockboxes before, the basic premise is a locked box that drops as loot from standard kills, but the only way to open the box is a key purchased from the game’s store with real money. The contents of the box can be anything from potions and crafting supplies all the way up to other store content like cosmetic items, experience boosts, mounts, or jackpot items that you can’t even get on the store.
They don’t look that cuddly…
As Syp said in Massively’s latest Perfect Ten column, lockboxes are gambling, plain and simple. This is true. At their heart, they are a trade of real money for a chance at bigger items. However, I really don’t think they’re that bad. If I’m willing to spend money on a ‘Bag of Crap’, I’m willing to give them a try. Note: I do like to gamble from time to time. I’ve lived close to Atlantic City all my life and know more than enough on how casinos rope you in. The psychology is fascinating, but that’s getting off topic.
I’ve never felt compelled to open a lockbox before, but for the sake of experimentation, I decided to give it a try.
Star Trek Online Experiment
The first thing I did was purchase 4 Master Keys for 400 Cryptic Points. I then opened my inventory and quickly realized I didn’t have a single lockbox. I just hadn’t looted one yet, so I got to grinding. I was only looking to pick up 4 boxes, and I realize I could’ve just purchased them on the Exchange, but I wanted to see how long it took and how often they dropped. The truth was, it took me about 3 hours to find all 4 lockboxes. This may not be normal, but I found the drop rate to be relatively low.
Of the 4 boxes I ended up opening, all standard quality boxes, here is the breakdown:
Box 1: Special Requisition Pack – Deflectors and Armor and 2 Lobi crystals. The Requisition Pack contained a Rare MK X Neutrino Deflector Array - After opening the first box, I was disappointed. 2 Lobi crystals, which on the Lobi store, the items I would purchase are in the 30 Lobi range (with the big ticket items in the 300 range). 2 Lobi crystals, and a Deflector that wasn’t even close to an upgrade. I sold off the deflector for about 30,000 Energy Credits and went on to the next box.
Box 2: 10,000 CXP Bonus Pool and 3 Lobi crystals. – Only 3 more crystals? Aren’t these numbers supposed to be up to 100 Lobi crystals? Anyway, the Lobi crystals are really only supposed to be used as a consolation prize. The big thing here is the 10,000 Bonus CXP Pool. CXP is the experience gained from Duty Officer assignments to use for Duty Officers. This items is essentially the same as “rest” experience in any other game, and it adds 20% bonus experience to any CXP gained. Since I’m still pretty low level as far as my Duty Officers go, this is a nice boost. Its certainly not necessary to play as it would come over time, this just helps to speed up the process. The Cryptic Store prices this at 640 CP, so 100 points isn’t a bad deal. However, I probably would’ve never purchased this to begin with.
Box 3: Special Requisition Pack – Gambling Device and 3 Lobi crystals. – 3 more crystals. Okay. The Gambling Device, however… now THATs an item. Looking into it, though, it looks potentially game breaking. The device when used gives Increased dodge, +10% to critical hit, and +10% to critical severity. The best tribble I had only gave a buff of +2.5% to all damage and a +2.5% buff to shields. +10% to crit is ridiculous! Its called a “Gambling” device but there really isn’t any gamble. If it “fails”, it fails for about a minute. When it succeeds, which is about 90% of the time, it lasts for an hour. As far as I can tell, it is also possible to use this in PvP, too, which is utterly not fair. You add a huge critical hit chance to those lucky enough to get the item from paying store points? I’m waiting for the nerf hammer on this one.
PvP Wrecking Ball
Box 4: 10,000 CXP Bonus Pool and 2 Lobi crystals. – Another 10,000 CXP boost. Nice. 2 more crystals, though. They seem to be really stingy on these crystals…
Overall, I netted 30,000 EC (a lot, but nothing significant), 20,000 CXP Pool (C-Store equivalent of 1,280 CP), a Gambling Device that is killer for ground combat, and 10 Lobi crystals which I can purchase absolutely nothing with.
Did I win the big prize of the Ferengi D’Kora ship? Nope. Am I disappointed? Well… No. The Energy Credits are not important, and just playing the game will get you a ton of credits (I’m right now sitting at 4,600,000 EC, which is nothing in comparison to some players). The 10 Lobi crystals are relatively pointless. In the Lobi store I’m looking at either the Mastiff pup follow pet, 30 Lobi, or a Ferengi whip, 15 Lobi, neither of which I could afford. I also can’t trade the Lobi on the exchange to make a few extra EC, so the Lobi right now are useless. The CXP Pool is not something I would normally buy, because of its large pricetag in the C-Store. I will definitely use it, however, so this is a plus. Finally, the Gambling Device is well worth the trouble, although as I said, I’m expecting a nerf soon.
So there you go. It certainly is no ‘Bag of Crap’, but I will enjoy what I gained, so I’m calling the experiment a success.
P.S. – Here is a bit of the math, for all you interested out there. It cost 400 CP to do this experiment. This is equal to 1 month of subscription stipend, or 122,400 dilithium (D) (at the current rate of 306 D/CP). 122,400 D, at the rate of hitting the 8k D cap/day would take 15.3 days to acquire. Note: I’ve tried, and I haven’t hit the D cap once. Thats a lot of grinding. 1 Master Key you could purchase on the Exchange for 1,149,000 EC. This would equal 39 of the deflectors I acquired from 1 of the boxes purchased. 4 Master Keys would be equal to 4,596,000 EC, or about 154 deflectors. Or… $5. $5 will buy you 500 Zen, a Perfect World currency, which is equal to 400 CP. So, in Star Trek Online terms… $5 = 400 CP = ~ 15.3 days of grinding dilithium. Star Trek Online is free to play, and I applaud those who play it completely free, but expect one hell of a grind. Mathed!
I’m currently working my way through the original Max Payne, and I’m loving it. Its exactly as I remember it. Gritty, raw, and with one of the best “bullet-time” iterations in any shooter. Although, at one point, I overheard a conversation between two guys warming up around a burning trashcan, and one said “It may be the end of the world as we know it, but I don’t feel fine.” Yeah, that definitely dated the game a bit.
Warning… these screenshots do have a little blood in them…
I made it up to and through the level where Max was slipped something and ended up in a nightmare, reliving past horrors. Not pictured in the last shot: the endless cries of his wife calling for help and his baby crying. If you haven’t played it and enjoy a little of the macabre, I highly suggest you pick it up, although really, I’d wait for a sale first. $9.99 is a little much for an 11 year old game.
P.S. – If you’re looking for great deals on games, I recently found SteamGameSales.com
. It shows all the discounted games across many different services, like Steam, Impulse, and a ton I’ve never heard of.
It wasn’t long ago that I wrote a post on how single player games are being treated more and more like MMO’s by the gaming community. Well, Blizzard has, with its latest offering, blurred the line between the single player game and MMO even further. Is Diablo 3 a single player game? Yes… and no. Is it an MMO? No… and yes. Here are some reasons showing the similarities of what can make Diablo 3 a new breed of MMO.
1) An auction house. First and foremost, Diablo 3 has an auction house. An auction house is a feature found in almost every MMO on the market. A place to barter, buy, and sell from other players, an auction house is essentially its own form of PvP. Buy low, sell high, corner the market on iron ore, etc. Diablo 3′s auction house takes a new twist by selling items with not just in-game funds, but also real money. Find an item you think would sell well for real money? Post it on the region’s auction house. If it sells, Blizzard takes a $1 off the top. If you then want to transfer the money to a PayPal account, Blizzard takes another 15% cut off of that. It’s a nice little racket Blizz has going there. Considering the drops in the game are randomized, if you play enough and find enough high quality items, you could potentially make Diablo 3 a side job! I wonder, though, how many people are going to claim any money made through the auction house on their taxes…
2) Public Play. When it comes to playing the game, you have a few options. You can play it solo, you can play it with friends, or you can set a “public” option and play with complete strangers. Playing with complete strangers is the cornerstone of the MMO. Sure, you eventually form guilds and then play with just your guild, but you usually find those guilds at first by playing with the random public, and Diablo 3 lets you do that.
3) Always On. You have to have an “Always On” internet connection attached to Blizzard’s servers to play Diablo 3. Blizzard recently just had the equivalent of “launch day blues” where on the day the game launched, it had multiple problems and the game’s server crashed. Usually, this wouldn’t be a huge deal for a single-player game, but for Diablo 3, it is. Certain features that Diablo uses, like the auction house or public areas lend credence to needing to always be connected to the internet and in this day and age, most of us ARE always connected to the internet. However, the internet isn’t always perfect. Comcast (or whoever your service provider is) could have some downtime, your router or modem could fail and you’d lose internet for hours or even days. Blizzard has essentially said “Too bad” to this, and demands all systems be connected at all times, just like an MMO. The difference is that an MMO’s primary content and focus is online play. A single-player game? Well… not so much. My good friend Tushar over at Technical Fowl has quite a bit to say on this matter, and you should check it out.
I’m 37, I’m not old!
4) Class Reveals. Diablo 3 has five distinct character classes: Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor, and Wizard. Nothing like choices to fit multiple styles of play. However, each individual class has had its own separate reveal. Now, this could be an indication of a new age of gaming, in which every little scrap of information about an upcoming game, MMO or not, is heavily consumed up to and well after a game’s release. However, this is a trait that has primarily settled in the MMO space. Guild Wars 2, for example, spent months dragging out their multiple character classes, with each reveal showing videos, ability breakdowns, and a ton of screenshots. I didn’t see Skyrim flaunting its Battlemage class or that the Rogue (my preferable Elder Scrolls class) was a class being brought back, but every class in Star Wars The Old Republic got its time in the spotlight, and this is something new for single-player games.
5) MMO News Sites Can’t Make Up Their Mind! Have you seen Massively, lately? They initially placed anything relating to Diablo 3 in a “Not So Massively” tag, relegating it just like any other games that are popular, have multiplayer components, but aren’t as massive as they could be. However, as it got closer and closer to launch, they almost dropped the tag entirely and started giving Diablo 3 just as much space as other MMOs, sometimes even giving it the “Free-To-Play” tag. Its absolutely true, Diablo 3 has no subscription whatsoever, but then again, neither does my copy of Ultima VII.
When all is said and done, the answer to whether Diablo 3 classifies as an MMO is really “No”. The ability to play completely solo with nobody else around, even if you still have to be connected to Blizzard’s servers, takes a big ‘M’ away. However, by adding features never really dreamed up in any other single-player game before, Blizzard is setting a new precedent, and like it or not, we may see new single player games released from here on out change as a result.
Lets just hope they keep the necessary online connection to a minimum.
One of the best things I love about MMOs are the in-game festivals. They, more than any other aspect of the game, say ‘Hey! THIS is what makes MMOs fun’. Sure, you have raiding, guilds, and chat, which you can’t find in single player games, but everything else in MMOs can generally be found elsewhere. Quests, yup. Bosses, yup. Lore filled worlds, yup. But its the in-game events that really stand out. You won’t find a Winter Festival in Mass Effect 3, or an Anniversary Celebration in Skyrim, or a Fruit Harvest Bonanza in Pacman, but you WILL find them in MMOs. And I can’t seem to keep up with a single one of them…
Guild Wars just celebrated another huge anniversary festival, the last one before Guild Wars 2 releases. I wasn’t able to get in game for even a small amount of time. Really, I have nobody to blame but myself on this one. I love Guild Wars, but I can’t stand my Paragon. Love the long range damage dealing and crowd control… but Pants! Pants! The class needs Pants! I couldn’t stand, after a while, the fact that I was essentially slaughtering enemies, bristling with spears, while wearing a mini-skirt! Freedom of movement, long distance running, I get it. But still… no matter how epic they make them look, I still feel a virtual breeze where there shouldn’t be one.
A bit chilly today, huh?
Lord of the Rings Online is wrapping up the celebration of it’s 5th year being open, and I was only able to make it in for one night… the last one. I still did a lot, collecting envelopes, setting off fireworks, riding my new Azure steed colored in silver and navy, picking up a map or two, but I certainly wasn’t able to take full advantage of the celebration. Even though they extended it! Ah well. Next time, LotRO, next time.
Dungeons and Dragons online also had a pirate-esque festival, where you explore an island and trounce the scurvy inhabitants to steal their hard earned treasures (wait… who is the real pirate here?). I got in for a night to try this out with my standing Tuesday night DDO group, and it was a lot of fun! As a recurring event, it will most likely be back again.
Finally, Star Trek Online, though not an anniversary like Guild Wars and LotRO, was having an event I’m the most disappointed on missing out on: The Second Foundry Challenge. Star Trek Online’s Foundry is an awesome tool that lets the players generate their own stories. Some are great, some are lame, some are downright exploits, but if you have the entire universe as your playground, having player made missions is a no-brainer. In an infinite universe, there are infinite stories. So how many of the entries was I able to play? One. Just one. It was pretty good, but again, I blame myself. My gaming ADD sometimes knows no bounds. However, a new Third Foundry Challenge is starting!! If you’ve ever wanted to tell a tale based in the Star Trek universe, the game is Free to Play, and you won’t find a better opportunity.
Hopefully, I’ll get around to actually playing it this time.
P.S – Also, Star Trek Online is currently having reruns of it’s Featured Episode series that will be going on until the end of the month, and I highly suggest you give them a try. Easily the best content I’ve played in an MMO to date.
This is a new segment I’m working on. Essentially, it’ll just be a quick update about what I, as a casual gamer, am currently playing. It won’t always be MMOs, and it won’t always be the latest and greatest game, but hopefully you get a kick out of it. I call it GameTime.
Well, last night I decided to throw in a game I haven’t played in ages, a game that is well in my Top 5 of shooters: Max Payne. The original. When I first rolled through Max Payne, it had already been out for a while, but the story and the grittiness just blew me away. To this day, the drug-fueled hallucination level is by far one of the most disturbing levels I’ve ever played in any game. Right behind Bioshock, Max Payne is my second favorite shooter of all time. I had some issues getting the sound to work right, as I was playing through Steam, but a quick Google search and sketchy download and I was good to go.
I stepped into Lord of the Rings Online the other night and it ended up being the last day of the 5th Anniversary celebration. I was shocked to see a whole bunch of gifts, including those for players who have been playing since the beginning. Apparantly, I’ve been playing LotRO for the past 5 years! Shocking, right? Maybe I should finally get a character to level 30… But as soon as I came on, even though I’ve been on a hiatus from LotRO, I was very warmly greeted by my guild like I was coming home. I really need to play LotRO more often. It really is one of the best MMOs out there.
Finally, as a last entry, I found myself playing lots of games on my new cell phone. I’ve never found myself to be a cell gamer, but since my new Lumia 900 Windows Phone has full integration into XBox Live, I find I’m playing more arcade style and other games on it just for that reason. Minesweeper, Sudoku, Assassin’s Creed, Fruit Ninja, Civilization Revolution, Sid Meier’s Pirates, and a bunch of other games. For a cell phone, thats a pretty great list. Now Windows Phone just needs a decent mobile MMO and I’ll be all set.
So what are YOU playing? Since you stopped by, drop a line in the comments letting me know, and as always, thanks for stopping by!