Something To It…

Darren is doing an “I told you so” indirectly, because it was more Brent telling us so… which he does link to. I do admit, he did post shortly after that he did feel that WAR wasn’t the next MMO messiah but I can’t find that so no linking to it.

Regardless, there was a comment in that post that is likely truer than more people realize or want to admit. Wanna play spot the comment?

Oops, did I do that?

And no, I’m not agreeing that Darren is a “fairy princess”…

My subscription to WAR runs out on the 14th… it had some really fun moments, CoW folks were great but after some of my posts I got thinking and RVR that few (enemy) people get involved in doesn’t really justify me spending time leveling up a character through content I’m not really enjoying. I’m probably better off playing a FPS.

I’m currently playing Fallout 3, I’ll likely pick up Mass Effect when I’m done with that and I do have a subscription going to WoW again (as a mangina Undead Mage named Msdemeanor) since I have some real life friends in the area that are playing on Firetree server. I also have a Hunter on there that I’m working up slowly and checking out some of the Hunter/pet changes.

I haven’t logged into WoW since Tuesday when I got Fallout 3 which might be saying something about Zubon’s comment.

I Survived Fallout 3…

I managed to get it installed and I played it for about two hours. I probably wouldn’t have stopped but I died in game and turned to check the clock.

How did I die if I’m so awesome? Well, a guy with a flame thrower really messed me up and I backed into a hole that was in the overpass I was standing on.

Falling damage is in.

Like I said, I only got to play for about two hours so I haven’t gotten very far. What I’ve seen so far was a lot like Oblivion in the sense of graphics and interactions. Dialog trees are there as is voice acting – really, this should be a staple now – including some voice acting by one of my favorite actors, Liam Neeson who plays your dad.

The character creation has a built in tutorial for moving around and using some of the combat features. You start off being born where you pick your gender. You then pick your ‘future’ appearence by viewing a device that generates an image of what you will look like based on your genetic make up. Your mother then dies and you’re carted away.

Light/glow transition to one year later. You learn to walk, interact with things, pick up things and even pick your stats by using a book that is on the floor. The book explains your attributes page by page and allows you to spend points on each page. At the end of the book, there is a complete list of the attributes where you can finish making adjustments.

This isn’t like Oblivion. Some of the stats sound the same, but the scale is smaller. I don’t believe they’re tied to skill caps. Honestly, I suspect this system would be familiar to Fallout 1 and 2 players, which I am not (unfortunately).

You then follow your dad out of the room and down to a halle.

Light/glow transition and you’re now nine (I think it is?  maybe 10.. cut me some slack, I played it once for two hours!) and it’s your birthday. First thing you’re given is your Pip-boy 3000. It’s a computer device that sits on your arm. This is your access to everything. Press TAB to view it or press and hold TAB to have it turn on a light for you. You can pick Apparel, Data, Misc and a few other options which all have their own options as well.

This is the stage where you fiddle with that. You also go around the room collecting things from people for your birthday. You also get to know some of the characters that live in Vault 101. Your dad’s gift is the best. He takes you down to the reactor level (where Jonas is waiting for you – he helped make the gift) and you dad gives you a BB gun (rifle).

Yup, this is where you learn to equip things and do some shooting. There are some practice targets and even a Radroach appears for you to kill. They got into the VATS system and given a quick explaination of how that works. It’s kind of neat.

A bit more on the game’s underlying system being different from Oblivion. You do not gain skills by using them so you also do not gain levels by raising a bunch of your primary skills. You do pick skills (later) and get to pick a Perk (think Feats from D&D or KOTOR; they give you bonuses to certain things) and you can increase them by points when you level. You level by gaining XP. So far, I’ve seen XP mainly from killing stuff but I suspect it comes from completing objectives/missions/quests and for discovering areas.

Back to character creation… you get another light/glow transition after you’re done messing around with the BB gun – this zips you up to age 16, I think. You’re now in your dad’s office (he’s a doctor) and trying to fake being sick to avoid a test: G.O.A.T. I can’t remember what it is, but it’s a series of multiple choice questions that direct you towards a ‘profession’. I’m not sure if this is really a class or just a matter of preset skill primaries. I ended up with “Chaplain” and was presented with the skill lists where I could reassign the primaries (they tend to be in rank 30 instead of 15ish like the others).

Oh, I also didn’t RTFM… sue me. Most games can be played without reading it. I barely had enough quiet time to install the game let alone read something. I think I’ll restart when I get a chance. I’ll probably go with Repair, Light Pistols and maybe Speech or Science. I went with Melee, Big Guns and I can’t remember the last item. Repair seems pretty important because most things you find are in rough shape and, like in Oblivion, the more damaged the item, the less effective it is (i.e. damage rating goes down, armor rating goes down, value goes down and the cost to fix it goes up).

Once that is all done, you get another light/glow transition and I think you’re now 19. Your dad has left the Vault and the guy in charge has lost his mind. He killed Jonas who helped your dad and now he’s looking for you. His daughter warns you and gives you gun which she suggests you don’t use unless necessary.

It’s a gun in a game… it’s ALWAYS necessary.

I collect a few things nearby and step out into the hall. It seems the radroaches have been breeding over the years and they’ve come out to attack. You squish some of these on the way out. There are a bunch of other things you can do and you witness but I’m not going to completely spoil it for you.

Let me tell you that it is quite neat when you do get outside.

I explored the nearby buildings, made some cash, went to Megaton, talked to people there, found a hireling that I was too good for him to follow – he says as much and there is an on screen note saying that my karma was too high for him to follow me. I picked up a few missions and advanced the one where I’m looking for my father.

Some neat information comes out and I really found myself immersed. One thing really struck a chord with me. Is my guy really naive and was he brainwashed by people in the vault? It’s something they comes up soon and leaves you wondering if it’s true of if the guy is just saying it to manipulate you.

I ventured out and explored a little. I discovered some Raiders set up camp in a nearby (ruined) school. There were some more up on the overpass you see to the north and west when you come out of the vault (that’s to your left) and that’s where I plummeted to my death.

There are a few things I didn’t touch on, like ‘Rads’ which is a rating of how much radiation you’ve been exposed to. If it gets too high you will die and most things seem to have ‘Rads’ attached, even food and water which you need to use to get HPs back. I’m not sure if resting reduces ‘Rads’ or not, I didn’t rest in game heh.

The VATS system seems neat, it appears to take cover into account so be careful using it when the enemy has cover. I’m not sure if it works with melee weapons, I honestly didn’t think to try it since I thought it was aimed at ranged weapons. It works by pausing the game and giving you a look at your target (you can switch to a different target) divided up into sections (like torso, head, legs, arm, and other parts for non-humanoids) with percentages showing how easy it is to hit them there. You then spend action points to fire at specific areas. I believe the costs are less for the places that are easier to hit but I’m not sure. You can click on the same place several times or different spots. It’s a neat system.

Firing weapons feels like a FPS for targeting but actually being a RPG, you don’t always hit the mark since it is skill based. It’s going to take a bit to get used to.

Very cool game so far.

Nuclear Explosion Incoming…

… because I picked up Fallout 3. I’m eagerly awaiting my time with it after I watched a few of the narrated gameplay videos.

I ended up getting the lunchbox version (collector’s edition) simply because it didn’t look like they had a regular PC version.

I won’t touch a console version of a shooter game… it just feels wrong playing without a mouse and keyboard. Opinions will be coming sometime this week.

Two Years Ago…

I started blogging. (EDIT: Okay, I had this queued up then forgot to post it on the 25th which was actually the two year marker…)

It wasn’t to change the world, make a point or any sort of lofty goal, it was simply for somewhere to get some thoughts out of my head. Originally, it was supposed to be an unfiltered brain dump – which likely would have offended many – but I didn’t feel that really represented me well. Instead it became a place to dump other thoughts or complain. Really, that’s what a lot of this is… complaining or venting or ranting.

Oh, an example of an unfiltered brain dump?

I was on the bus the other day when I could hear someone’s music playing.. over top of my own. I looked around to see who was blasting their music and the only person with headphones on was a blind guy.

My first thought?

“Wow, he’s fucked.”

Why? Well, he’s blind and soon to be deaf too.

That one is more on the light side of things. The truth is, I’m not in a position to ‘brain dump’ stuff when I get the good ones. By the time I get home or to a computer, I get dazzled by the latest game icon and end up clicking that instead.

I’m Poor…

I just dropped over 1k on Jiujitsu lessons for the Little Ogres. Fortunately, that covers 6 months for both of them and it does include a discount.

Okay, so I’m not really poor, it’s just a fair bit of money to drop on the kids when we’re not sure how they’re going to behave. You see, they’ve both done some sports activites before with varied success.

The Big Little Ogre was in Soccer and did really well, but he wanted to try Gymnastics out so we let him try that when Soccer was done. He enjoyed the first term of lessons but when he went back for the next term he was doing all the same stuff for being in the same age group. That didn’t sit well with him so he started flopping around and being a little pain in the ass. Not to the point of being a detriment to the class, but he wasn’t trying and I could see that. We put him back into Soccer but he’s not really enjoying it.

The Little Little Ogre was in Gymnastics, but it was a parent and child class. He did okay, but didn’t really last the whole class. We put him in Soccer and he seems to like it up until it’s time for the scrimmage. He just turned three in September and he doesn’t understand that he has to run and chase the ball.

Oh they both did swimming lessons, but we found they weren’t doing well in those because of the lack of one on one attention. The ‘teacher’ (really, I swear some of them were 13) would be responsible for 5-6 kids in the water and be trying to teach them things like floating, holding their breath, ducking under water. They’d wait to work on the things they needed to do to ‘pass’ in the last two courses or so which just about ensures most kids fail. We found they both did a lot better with us showing them how to swim than some poor teenager who is just doing a job.

So we figured we’d let them try martial arts out. It worked for me and hopefully it will keep them interested, active and having some fun.

Automating Interviews…

The major part of my job is automating tests and, sometimes, tasks so people are freed up to do more exploratory testing. Another part of my job is doing interviews for intern positions (and actual positions).  That’s what I was doing from 10am until 2:30pm yesterday.

Interviews.

With interns.

Don’t get  me wrong, these were some pretty smart kids. It’s just that some of them were pretty socially inept. One kid sounded sort of like Beavis and another one sounded quite ill. At least I hope he was ill because he wasn’t sounding right. The majority of them were first year students, most haven’t even gotten through a semester yet. Of course, there is that they remind me that I’m getting old.

Little shits.

After a few of them I started losing track of which questions I had asked and what spiels I had given (i.e. what the intern would be doing). It was much the same. I asked the same questions and gave them an opportunity to ask some questions of their own – most of which were the same.

That got me thinking… one of the main identifiers of something that should be automated is that it is repeated a lot. With that in mind, I think I might automate the interviewing process. Pre-record questions, record the the answers given and even pre-record the answers to questions interns commonly ask. Almost like a lot of the support systems large companies have in place.

Of course, that’s completely inhuman (which creates an sense that this place isn’t a fun place to work for) and there are limitations on things a living interviewer might be able to answer or follow up on.

Ah well, I guess somethings shouldn’t be automated.

Do My Job For Me…

Okay, not my real job but my job as DM.

The recently dead player will be coming into the game by magicial means and he’ll be bringing with him a magical banner (thank you WAR and 4e Vault of Items). What I want people to do is design the banner effects.

The banner is from a long lost Dragonmarked House which possessed the Mark of Death (yes, I went there). This House’s abilities focus on Death and Undeath. I’m torn about what I want to make it do…

Fill in some blanks for me by using some of the spells listed here.

When carried it creates an effect on allies around it as per a _____________(a) spell. This is a constant effect. When it is carried by someone that possesses the Mark of Death (requires Least Dragonmark or better), it also creates an effect of _____________(b).

When it is planted, as a standard action, it creates an effect of _____________(c) for as long as it remains planted. If planted by someone with a Mark of Death, _____________(d) also comes into effect. It takes an standard action to pull up the banner.

While planted, someone with the Mark of Death can also call forth _____________(e) once per day by expending a use of the Mark (requires Least Dragonmark or better) – they must be within touch range of the banner. Once per week they can expend the use of their Mark (requires Lesser Dragonmark or better) to create _____________(f).

If the banner is destroyed, a _____________(g) is unleashed on all those within range.

Here’s an example:

(a) Bless, (b) Desecrate, (c) Prayer, (d) Unhallow, (e) Inflict Moderate Wounds, Mass, (f) Animate Dead, (g) Wail of the Banshee which was about what I was looking at…

Submissions end by Wednesday. No prize for winners… did you honestly think I’d have a prize when I’m too lazy to do this bit of design work for myself?

Coming Out Soon…

Just curious about what games readers might be looking forward to that should be out soon.

My list is as follows:
1. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2
2. Dragon Age
3. Diablo 3

Okay so #3 might not be ‘soon’ but I think it’s something I’m looking forward to. The game play is a break from what I’ve typically been doing since it should be more of a mindless click fest.

There is a Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion coming out, but I’ve not had any luck getting back into NWN2 even though I have Mask of the Betrayer. I still have to make my way out of the starting area for that expansion.

Far Cry 2? Might be a good one. Then there is the Call of Duty (World at War) expansion… I had a blast with Call of Duty 4.

Whew… I Almost…

… went ahead and tried out LOTRO. I know, I’m waaaay behind the times. I went looking for a trial, just to see what it’s like since Scott seems quite content with it. Fortunately, Turbine has disabled their trial period pending the release of Mines of Moria.

And I won’t buy this game without a trial to ensure it will work fine (unlike DDO).

I also almost picked up a year subscription to D&D Insider. It is reasonably priced if you buy for a year, it’s about the price of any PC Game. However, I’m not sure how that would work out for a number of reasons.

1. How good are the tools?
2. How much time do I have to sink into playing around with it?
3. My D&D group hasn’t bought into 4e so I won’t get added benefit from that.
4. Today was the first day all week where I was able to sit down and play WAR so will I even have time for it?

I’m also wondering if I should fire up WoW again and fiddle around with a Rogue, Mage, Shaman or Paladin. I’m not sure where that is coming from because I’ve no desire to go through TBC again or any of the earlier content yet again. I suspect Blizzard implanted subliminal messages in their sound effects and musical scores. Okay, I don’t really suspect that… but it did come out of the blue.

I’ve even considered giving Vanguard another look since I did enjoy most of it, I just found it leveled to fast to really explore and enjoy a lot of the dungeon content. Maybe I’ll mess around with the trial isle thing. I can just see myself end up playing the Cleric again, getting into raiding and getting burned out or bored of it all.

Which brings me to WAR… two of players in my D&D group commented that I seem to dislike WAR from all the complaining I do about it. That’s an interesting observation that I’ve been reflecting on.

Do I dislike WAR?

I dislike the lack of dungeon content – I’m talking EQ1 style dungeon content where there are always dungeons available. Zipping down into Mount Gunbad was neat and I do like that they’re open dungeons and allow you to go in with a large group/warband because they have PQs inside, but I miss the frequency of them in the game world. Caves/mines/tombs/etc. that take 20 minutes to explore solo, just don’t do it for me.

I dislike the lack of depth to the PVE content. It’s all very solo friendly so I find myself doing it alone even in spite of the fact that there are almost always good guild players to group with. The PVE content seems very directed and witht he built in location spoiler, it is sort of easy. Yeah, I could hop over to another faction (which I may have to do because I’m running out of content on the Avelorn side of things).

I dislike that the scenarios all seem to be the same ones popping. I’m also noticing that the bolstering of rank doesn’t really help that much. If you’re in the bottom half of the tier, you’re still going to get creamed while you’ll feel pretty godly at the upper end of the tier. To me, this just screams for a need to drop bolstering in the Scenarios and divide the tiers in half.

I do like the idea of PQs but I don’t see a lot of people on when I can be on* (more on that bit later) so it ends up being a grind to max out influence for the Chapter without ever actually completing the second step of it.

Open RVR is the best aspect of the game by far. It’s fun, the gameplay is variant, especially when it isn’t taking unguarded keeps. Right now it’s the main thing I look forward to, it’s just too bad there are all these levels in the way of getting to the point where the playing field is even and everyone can participate.

Is that a “the game starts at max level” thought? Ducks and hides from Ysharros Naw, I think its the same underlying hatred for the level mechanic and everything that it comes with.

Really, I enjoy the aspects of playing with others and trying to take keeps, defend keeps, grabbing objectives and having open field fights. It’s really too bad the whole level thing is there.

*Back to the point about time. Last week I spent more time at work than I did getting sleep. It was pretty rough and a big part of it is that the fun part of WAR – open RVR – seems to get happening late in the evening and run until midnight or later. That really hurts because I lose track of time easily and sometimes find myself going to bed around 2am only to get up at 5:30am.

Looking at the things that I like from WAR, it almost seems I’d be better off messing around with FPS games or something. The problem is, I don’t get that sort of feeling from the FPS games.

I’m sticking with WAR for awhile longer.