[TV] Heebie Jeebies

I watched Castle yesterday and have to admit they did a good job of making a Halloween episode. They went with ghosts and demons but it was set up in such a way that you were laughing while the hairs on the back of your neck were standing up. Camera work was great, background music set the mood and the sounds were creepy.

“Apparition American,” classic Castle.

I don’t think TheWife will want to watch it because that sort of stuff really creeps her out even though it wasn’t really a ghost. I love it when they venture into the unknown. This one is right up there with the alien abduction episode.

I should add that I was thoroughly fooled into not knowing who it was, but I’ll openly admit I knew it wasn’t who they thought it was before they discovered who it was.

Confused?

Good.

[PS3] Batman: Arkham City

It was a cold, gray and drippey weekend and I was recovering from a cold so I decided to give Batman: Arkham City a try (once TheWife picked it up for me late Saturday afternoon). By the next day I had it beat.

It’s not a very long game if you focus mainly on the story missions and don’t deviate too much. I know I missed several things; 3/4 Riddler rooms, Zsasz’s last phone call, a bunch of trophies and Riddles. There was also mention of Deadshot and someone that was stealing the faces off of people but I didn’t get to follow up with those yet (I can still roam around the area even after beating the game).

I suspect there would have been more to the game if I could get the Catwoman DLC to actually DL and install but it didn’t work and it seemed to corrupt my game data (at least I tried this before actually starting the game).

Overall, lots of fun. It plays a lot like Batman: Arkham Asylum did only with a few different gadgets and I felt AA was longer than AC.

The Shark absolutely freaked me out. I think that whole section had me on edge.

Bosses I beat or defeated/interacted with? (Some spoiler information):

Two Face, Bane, Joker, Mr. Freeze, Mad Hatter, Clayface, Ra’s al Ghul, Hugo Strange, The Penguin, Solomon Grundy and Harley Quinn. I feel like I missing someone, but I think that’s a pretty decent list.

Of all the fights, it took me a bit to figure out Solomon Grundy but Clayface was one of the worst – for me.  Mr. Freeze was likely the hardest overall, mainly because it wasn’t a straight up fight and each time you got to beat on him he prevented you from using that method again.

I’ll likely poke around with it from time to time to see what I missed, but now that I’m feeling better, I’ve set it aside. It was definitely a good ‘rest and recover’ form of entertainment. I estimate about 12 hours was spent playing it (again, note that I did not do a lot of the side missions).

[WoW] Kung-fu Panda the MMO!

As usual, the upcoming expansion name is one of the worst kept secrets by Blizzard. It’s been awhile now that people knew the name was going to be “Mist of Pandaria” – it’s a running joke on shows like Legendary on Gamebreaker.tv and it had a lot of people scratching their heads.

Alright, so what are they giving you with that expansion which isn’t right around the corner (just think of how long ago it was that they revealed Diablo 3):

  • New talent system
  • Pandaren race
  • The region of Pandaria opens
  • New Monk hero class
  • Level cap raised to 90
  • Dungeon challenge mode
  • PVE Scenarios
  • Pet Battle System

I’d keep an eye on WoW Insider if you want to follow this.

From that list the coolest thing I see is the new Monk class. The Pandaren race is cute and fuzzy, I’m not afraid to call it like it is, but it’s a little too cute for my liking.

The rest mostly uninteresting.

Oh look, new expansion? Time to make your class different, so different that you’ll need to learn it all over again, assuming you don’t end up hating the changes they make.

Yay.

Does that sound like it lacks enthusiasm? Yes? Good. That’s what I was going for.

Please don’t tell the kids about this, I could so see my eight year old asking to resubscribe for this.

[TOR] Cosmetics

Courtesy of Georg Zoeller:

At this time, we do plan on having “racial” abilities, but they will be cosmetic in nature. Think of them as “social” abilities or actions that your character is able to do based on their species.

We wanted to give you something special for your character based on species, but we did not want it to influence your choice in the sense that you would feel “I have to be a Twi’lek Consular because they get +5 Willpower.”

So, active “racial” abilities are planned, but they won’t affect your combat gameplay in any way.

We’ll elaborate more in the future.

So that’s an interesting move and something I always fell into; chasing the better racial ability with less care for the look of the character. I didn’t always do that, but later in raiding I did so to squeeze out every little bit of potential in my characters. I was also a little irked that (me playing a DPS class) the offensive racial abilities were on the other faction.

On the other hand, I’m still not sure what races are playable so I’m not sure how much this will matter. All I hope is that I can be a Kel Dor… I’m thinking an evil version of Plo Koon might be cool.

Another bit of info comes from talk about the impact of Dark Side points on the appearance of your character (I’m guessing the opposite might be true). The more Dark Side points you have, the more nasty and wicked you’ll look. Again from Georg Zoeller:

Like ‘Hide head slot’ or ‘Unify colors to chestpiece,’ this is a game option, on by default, which can be toggled on a per character basis.

He not only confirms it, but notes there will be a toggle for it like the good old “hide helmet” or “unify colors to …. ” wait a second. I’ve not seen that toggle before?

“Unify colors to chestpiece”

It definitely sounds like a good idea to keep the character looking uniform if that’s what you’re going for! Or making it very dark themed, or light… what ever is on your chest slot.

Interesting.

[PC] I Found My Filler

I decided to finally finish Dragon Age: Origins and I’ll be using that as my filler game until Skyrim comes out. Oddly enough, I completed Dragon Age 2 but not the first one. Of course, the second one was far shorter and didn’t really have as much content as the original one.

I took a look a Oblivion, but I have completed that and wasn’t all that keen on playing through it again. I was already done with Sanctum which was much like Plants vs. Zombies in that it isn’t a game you play at length over a long period of time – it’s more like Minesweeper or Solitaire.

I was flipping through Steam pages looking at games but nothing stood out. I almost picked up Dead Island but I can’t really get into zombie killing games. I feel guilty for the senseless violence they focus on all too much and it bores me in a very short time. Generally the zombies are not all that challenging or different in much other than looks. Yeah, I get that there are quests and missions and it’s sort of like Borderlands. I just don’t like the content of it. You could have quests and missions just like Borderlands but have the content be Hello Kitty stuff and it wouldn’t do anything for me either.

I even briefly considered checking out Age of Conan which I didn’t really like much beyond level 20 and not much really before then either. The idea was neat, but meh.

So after all that reflection, I decided on DA:O with the excessive gore turned down (at least turned off the persistent blood). I went with a Dalish Elf Rogue (female) because I didn’t play a rouge before and thought it might be different. My previous characters that I played through about 50-60% of the game were Warrior types; one was sword and board while the other was dual wielding and failing horribly because of the heavy armor (he was always out of energy after using one or two of the abilities).

After playing it for a bit yesterday, I’m not sure I shouldn’t just play a Mage type… That’s the same sort of trap I fell into last time, I kept restarting and trying different characters and back stories. Ah well, I’ll knuckle down and see if I can’t get it done by November 11th.

 

[MC] I LOLed When I Saw This

I popped over to Minecraft.net to see if they had any more news about the features and release which is supposed to be coming in around Minecon when I saw this and couldn’t help but laugh:

All I’m going to say is that I recognize one of the names and faces on there…

[TOR] How to Handle Beta Feedback

I found this over on Darth Hater and thought it was an interesting way to handle beta feedback.

The use of heat maps, chat logs (to catch issues people talk about but don’t bother to /bug) and other various feedback items tagged for more immediate consumption makes good sense. Use of behavior analysis is neat along with the fog of war as an indicator for areas players generally miss.

I’m really stunned by the analytic techniques they’re using. I guess something good can come from all the targeted marketing algorithms and practices.

On the other hand… big brother is watching.

Q: How do you stop or catch leaks?

A: With all the data tracking we have we can see a single ability used at a single location for every player. If a leaked video shows a player wearing a certain piece of armor or doing donuts on a speeder in a certain zone we can find them very easily.

Eep.

EDIT: Link to Gamasutra coverage of the same information.

This sounds a lot better and as a tester, I have to go clean my pants now.

How does user feedback influence content creation for The Old Republic? How do you gather this data?

Testing and the use of data generated from testing has been an integral part of our workflow for more than a year now and has been critical for us in validating the game design, rooting out problems and improving the overall game.

Data is gathered via a broad set of methods, including automation, very high detail metrics about user interaction with the game, professional focus testing, in-game player feedback systems, private testing forums and direct contact with individual testers or entire groups via chat.

It’s possible for us to drill down into the game interactions of every single tester and correlate their feedback directly with issues encountered in-game. By using a several different data sources, we can eliminate a lot of the usual bias encountered in direct user feedback.

High detail user interaction metrics also help us analyze complex content issues, develop fixes and most importantly, validate the success of those fixes a few builds down the road. 

I’ve been begging my developers (I has developers) to put something like this in for awhile now. When given the ‘not enough time’ excuse I suggested it was already there (mostly) in the Undo stack – just allow us to see it or get a dump some how. This would greatly increase the value of less experienced testers supplying feedback (like interns or contractors new to the product).

They still didn’t do it… bastids.

[LU] Found Them!

I got to putter around in Lego Universe some last night and I admit I did see some subtle changes and a few bigger ones.

The zones are mostly the same though there are a lot more quests and daily type quests available now. All pretty simple, but still more than I remember there being which is a good thing because I found it pretty sparse.

The faction tokens drop more frequently now and they’ve added a new choice per faction. The Sentinel group has Knight, Samurai and Space Ranger while Paradox has Marauder (?), Sorcerer and Assassin options. I didn’t look at the other two factions.

I know they added a couple of zones with one being sort of like a capital city and the other(s?) being adventure areas which I haven’t seen yet. I did venture into the Nexus Tower which hosts the advanced sets for the factions and headquarters for each of the faction and the bank! A much needed mechanism.

With the added quests the XP rewards are better and there is a smoother progression to the game since quests and achievements are the only ways to get XP.

I don’t remember the social system too much but I think the one they have in place is improved though it still lacks an easy method of getting to your friend (at least I haven’t found one) that games like Wizard 101 have.

Both kids seem much happier with it.