Online Gaming Teams…

Frostheim has two really interesting posts over on Warcraft Hunter’s Union (blog post 1 and blog post 2) which talk about casual raiding and how it doesn’t need to happen within a guild, instead you can keep your raid life and guild life separate. Or rather, he explains how you could possible do that.

I see it as an extension of having a set dungeon delving group, only it’s bigger and requires a little more dedication, organization and preparation.

I thought I’d share.

WoW, 5 Years!

I have to admit, I both regret and don’t regret not picking up WoW from the start and sticking with it. I regret it because I missed a lot of content and I could have several filled out characters available for play (and likely not have to worry so much about coin). While nothing is stopping me from going back and doing this content now (and I have done some of it), it just isn’t the same because everyone outlevels it. I end up seeing the content instead of really experiencing it.

Part of that is missing the fun, new content feeling. I can only imagine what running Dire Maul or Stratholme or Scholomance was like. I had some fun going through some of the dungeons/instances that were level appropriate when I restarted on Rexxar as Lannister, and that was definitely a lot of fun. But a lot of the other content, instances from TBC and WotLK, seemed to be ‘done’ already and old hat.

Instead I put my money on EQ2, and it was fun for awhile, but it didn’t last – not for me at least. I ended up hopping to other games and giving WoW a shot and then hopping away as some friends were dissatisfied with it but in the end, I’m playing WoW now.

I don’t regret it entirely, because I did have a lot of fun in those other games even if it was just for a short time. But I can’t help wondering what it would be like if I started with WoW and stuck with it.

Congratulations, Blizzard, on 5 years of World of Warcraft!

Lego Indiana Jones 2 – PS3

I picked this up for the boys on Thursday and gave it to them on Friday. I then played it most of Saturday morning and Sunday morning with the LittleBigOgre.

I have several complaints.

Much like Lego Batman there are points where aspects of the game stop responding like they should. In Lego Batman this happened with the mission selectors and the computers for buying upgrades and extras. In Lego Indiana Jones 2 this seems to happen in the menu from the Start button. I’ve also seen it lock up at certain points and required restarting the PS3, which only happened in Lego Batman the one time.

They added in a new feature of allowing the screen to split so your two players aren’t stuck being in the same area. This has good intentions but it fails in their implementation. You see, if you’re close but just far enough off screen, it cuts the screen but doesn’t center the cut part on your player so you could end up not being able to see your character much. It will also spin around on a central axis if you find yourself below the player that was below you, swinging the split point around. Same deal if it’s side by side. This makes it a pain to track what’s going on in your panel because your panel is moving.

While I’m on the subject of blocked view, this game is bad for that. There are points in the game were you might have your entire view blocked by something like a palm tree, which is frustrating.

Another issue I ran into was on one of the replay levels (these are different, but I’ll get to that) where you have to bounce from trampoline to trampoline. This type of gameplay is painful and one of the main reasons I avoid console games. I would bounce along and get to the third to last trampoline where I discover the area for the ‘super bounce’ appeared to be smaller. You see, to make the jumps you have to bounce on the trampoline and time double pressing the jump. Each of the trampolines got slightly farther apart meaning it got harder to jump to the next one without jumping from the very edge of the trampoline. Anyway, the third from last trampoline had a ‘non-bounce’ area there. I could only get the double jump from the very middle of that trampoline and I’d always fall short.

I know, I’m an idiot, I should just use a female character because they jump really well in Lego Indiana Jones, right? Wrong. Well, they do jump well but they’re not available for the replay.

That gets me to the replay mode of the levels. Every level plays in story mode and in replay mode. This is standard for the Lego series of games. What isn’t standard is that when you’re playing Story Mode you have access to everything you need, there is no need to come back through as a different character to get all the secrets and extras.

But what about Replay Mode?!

Replay Mode is a shortened version of the level where you need two specific character types to beat the level. It’ll tell you when you pop into the level which ones you need. In the case of the trampoline level, the characters you needed were both men. Oh, and you cannot cycle between people, what you go in with is what you have access to. The sole purpose of Replay Mode is to jump through the hoops needed to get the Treasure Chest (or Artifact as it was called in Lego Indiana Jones).

Indiana Jones 2 deviates from the typical Lego games you might have seen. You have more hubs centered around the movies except the Crystal Skull which appears to have about three (it might be four) parts which means it has three or four hubs. You have to play around in these hubs to unlock some of the levels, the characters and the extras. When you beat a level, you get access to a character – usually an enemy – but only after you beat them up several times in the hub area and after you buy them. If you don’t buy them or can’t afford them, they remain hostile. You unlock extras and non-hostile characters buy finding red, green and blue bricks scattered about. You also unlock characters by succeeding at some timed vehicle courses – these are annoying at best. There are also bonus levels which reward you with treasure chests (you also get treasure chests as the reward for the Replay Mode of the Story levels).

I can’t help but feel there was some failure in planning because collecting all the treasure chests in some hubs are harder simply because of the cost involved with the characters required. Raiders of the Lost Ark hub, for example, requires you spend 500,000 Lego bits for Belloc with the Staff of Ra (silly part is you can get Indy who had a Staff of Ra on the level but doesn’t have one while in the hub) while other hubs don’t have that hefty price to complete them.

I suppose I should expand on the fact that you play through Raiders of the Lost Ark again. It’s not the same as the previous one, instead it’s different parts of the movie and I can’t help but feel like each level is much shorter than what they were in the first Lego Indiana Jones.

They also adding in a targeting mechanism, but like you have with Lego Batman’s Batarang. I don’t mind this addition, it makes sense and they made good use of it so far.

Another addition is vehicle levels where the sole purpose is to drive around in a vehicle and destroy enemy vehicles by colliding with them. There are powerups for speed, jumping and shooting (in some levels). You need to be certain vehicles to beat other vehicles. The controls are somewhat iffy and this is one of the areas you really feel the pain of the split screen and have your view point blocked a lot. These can be fun, though they’re really repetitive and there have been occasions where my vehicle blew up and it didn’t respawn anywhere nearby. In fact, I spent one level running around on foot looking for a vehicle. Some you can hop into and boot the bad guy out, others are parked out of the way. It’s an interesting gameplay mode, but I prefer the longer levels you found in previous Lego games over zipping around the same map over and over. (Think Empire Strikes back level where you have to destroy eight probes, then six walkers and four probes, etc. now imagine having two of those levels per ‘hub’… I might be exaggerating but it felt like there was way too many of those types of levels.)

All in all, it’s a little frustrating and annoying as well with scattered moments of amusement but it also feels way too short. Bottom line is that I am not too pleased with this game.

Diagnosis?

I have been having… urges lately. No, not those kinds of urges, those are normal.

Sort of whimsical and fruitless ones.

The one thing they all have in common is that they’re about spending money for little gain. Some things that pop into my head are paying for WoW services (race changes), buying up music, buying other video games (Borderlands, Left 4 Dead 2 and Modern Warefare 2 was another one – shooting things seems to be a theme) and looking for books to read.

I’m wondering if it is guilt that people were let go recently, unsatisfying work, worry over the wife not talking to her mom (and guilt that I’m happy the mother in law hasn’t been around much), boredom or overtiredness, unhappiness or another sign of mid-life crisis? (I did have an urge get get a Mustang recently.)

Combination of all of the above?

Die Paladin Scum!

I hate Paladins now.

Want to know why?

They hurt me too much in PVP.

I did a fair bit of PVPing over the weekend, okay so it was almost all on Sunday. I think I took in over 30k Honor in about four (or five) Eye of the Storm runs, one Warsong Gulch run and two battles in Wintergrasp (lost one and won the second). I lost track of the kills but it was near two hundred.

Why did I PVP?

Well, an old friend (Frank/Kaldonar) was back and he wasn’t comfortable healing in a Heroic so we ended up PVPing. He was dirt poor too, his son has been playing on the account and managed to drain his 6000 gold really fast. The specs he has seemed a little old too since Nourish seems to be the way to go for Druid healing. I gave him 50 gold (which meant he now had more gold than I did) to adjust his spec and do repairs and off we went.

Kaldonar won’t be raiding since most of the raids happen too late in the evenings but he said he’ll pop on from time to time to play his Warlock and Druid here and there. He really likes the Warlock.

Still, it was a lot of fun. I forgot how much fun PVP can be with friends. I guess I need to build a PVP set. I might hold off until Patch 3.3 because everything will be dropping Emblems of Triumph (which I don’t need unless I get a trophy from the 25 man ToC raid) and there is some good PVP gear you can get with that. Yes, that means I was PVPing with T9 or better raid gear and yes, I know that Resilience really makes a difference – I have a PVP set on my Paladin and he’s a God when he’s PVPing with it on.

Back to hating on Paladins. *grin*

They are sickeningly strong and durable. I get that they’re the “rock”, I’m (as a Hunter) the “scissors” and most other things are “paper” so they’re supposed to be able to kill me. Supposed to be… I did run into several that couldn’t hehe.

Other “rock” type classes to my “scissors” Hunter are the Warrior and Deathknight. I think the Deathknight is almost as bad as the Paladin, but not quite. Warriors are hit and miss. If they’re played well, they’ll mow me down before I get too much of a chance to do anything. The stun on the end of their Charge ability is rough. DKs hurt with the damn Death Grip and all the other crap they can do.

Toe to toe against anything else and I’ll mow through them. In fact, I’ve destroyed clothies really fast several times. Spider pet root and I burn them down before they get a chance to dismount.

In other WoW stuff, I have my Mage up to 58 (finally) so she is entering TBC area. I spent some time yesterday farming Hellfire Ramparts as Lannister and got her some greens that were huge upgrades for her (she has the PVE Heirloom shoulders, chest, staff and spell power/mana trinket already). Ramparts goes really fast with a level 80 Retribution Paladin mowing through everything. I think each run took about 15 minutes, if that. I ran through there with Smaken (level 80 Marksman Hunter) and got him the wolf pet with all the extras on it (spiked neck, glowing eyes, saddle, bedroll, etc.). It definitely took longer with Smaken and there was a risk if I was overly bad with threat (which I was because I didn’t have a tank pet out hehe).

Another reason to nerf Paladins! But only after I’m done farming stuff with him, k? Thanks!

Yes, I’m kidding. I don’t mind the classes as they are. One on one I should die to Warriors, Paladins and Deathknights – sometimes I don’t, sometimes I do. Often having one more person there is enough to turn the tide of that fight. I can kill just about everything else unless a Rogue or (Feral) Druid gets the drop on me, and even then, it can be really close.