I’ll say this…

May 21, 2008

Mood: Happy.
Music: Nothing at the moment.
Game: Rock Band (360), Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (360), Team Fortress 2 (PC), MMO Beta (PC), Warhammer 40K (Tabletop), Age of Conan (PC)
Book: Orks Codex, Warhammer 40k
Watching: Nothing.
Weather: Warm, Sunny.

Taking a cab down the Viaduct alongside the harbor at night with the windows open ain’t exactly like driving down the FDR with the windows open…but it’s become pretty close for me.


How NOT to launch an MMO

May 16, 2008

Mood: Still pretty happy.
Music: Wave of Mutilation, The Pixies.
Game: Rock Band (360), Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (360), Team Fortress 2 (PC), MMO Beta (PC), Warhammer 40K (Tabletop), Age of Conan (PC)
Book: Orks Codex, Warhammer 40k
Watching: Nothing.
Weather: Warm, Sunny.

So, last week, Funcom ran an Open Beta for Age of Conan.

Frankly, the game isn’t even close to ready for prime time. Crashes, horrific lag, and all sorts of bugs and quirks (NPCs that lock in place or won’t talk or you can’t kill locking you inside an instance…)

But wait…there’s more. At the end of the beta period, they advanced everyone to level 20, placed them in a free-for-all PvP server, and let them go for a day or so. Literally the second you ended up outside a town, you were killed. You couldn’t talk to any quest givers, because if you turned your back, or locked yourself up in dialogue with an NPC, someone would kill you.

In addition to this, it came out that the list of servers was posted on a Gold Farming website before they were announced to the public.

The guys I game with were largely so pissed at the state of the game and the overall experience that most of them decided not to play it after all.

Now, this right here is exactly what I’ve been saying: If it isn’t ready, don’t launch the fucking thing.

The guys I game with have limited gaming time, and if they perceive, even for a minute, that they’d be wasting their valuable time with a game that was annoying or frustrating, they’ll just skip it. And I strongly believe that once they’ve made their minds up on a game, they’re extremely unlikely to revisit that opinion.

Not because they’re stubborn (although they are…) it’s just that there’s ALWAYS a new game coming out. Why go back to an old game?

And MMOs are notorious for being difficult to deal with once there’s a stable, mature population on a server. The economy is locked already, the early zones are usually unpopulated, or populated with people on their third or fourth character, and they usually don’t have the desire to deal with new people/players.

So, I’ve pre-ordered it…and actually, I’m looking forward to dealing with the game at my own pace on a PvE server. I’m still looking forward to the game…but I think I’m a little less excited now that my friends largely won’t be playing. Which is unfortunate. I honestly feel like I’ll end up playing a lot by myself…which isn’t really all that unusual since I’ve moved to the west coast. I miss playing with a regular group of guys, but I suppose between time zone differences and other factors, it just works that way sometimes.

My brain’s already set to: “Looking forward to six months of beta?”

When Geeks Get Old.

May 8, 2008

Mood: Pleased.
Music: Dani California, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Game: Rock Band (360), Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (360), Team Fortress 2 (PC), MMO Beta (PC), Warhammer 40K (Tabletop), Age of Conan Beta (PC)
Book: Warhammer 40K Rulebook, 5 Ed. (Beta.)
Watching: Nothing.
Weather: Cool, Cloudy.

Yesterday, I received the MagnaVisor that I had ordered from Amazon.

I’ve picked up Warhammer 40K as a hobby. The fellas at work play it, and it really plays neatly into the things I find enjoyable: social gaming, strategy, miniatures (especially the modelling and painting aspect), and the whole planning aspect, from army building to model acquisition to painting…THEN playing.

Anyway, I started by borrowing a few Codices from the fellas at work. A Codex is an army-specific rulebook…there’s one for each army, and there are over a dozen armies, I believe…but I didn’t really want to play an army that other people were playing. So, after reading about a few of the armies, I’d decided on the Orks.(WAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!!!) The Orks are great. They’re all about running headlong into the other army and chopping them into little bits. They don’t have much in the way of armor, so they’re almost always all offense…and, on top of that, because they’re fundamentally insane, their own equipment occasionally fails and kills them instead. I figured comedy is really my style of play…so I went with the Orks.

I played around with building an army. Basically, there are rules governing how an army can be put together. Each unit is worth a certain number of points, and how they’re outfitted affects their point total, and you must have at least one of this kind of unit, but not more than this many of that unit, and so on. But given the number of types of units, and all the options, there’s a lot of ways to build an army.

Lots of people sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and scribble notes and totals and so on. But that wouldn’t be me, now would it.

As it turns out, there’s this really excellent piece of software called Army Builder. I figured before I dropped cash on models I might or might not need, a great investment would be a tool that helps me figure out what I wanted to do from an army perspective, then pick up the units I needed. Turns out that Army Builder was far more useful than I had planned. Aside from helping me build armies and such, it basically gave me all the options and warned me when I was doing something illegal. I could mix and match pieces and units and options, all while watching the point totals, and keeping me legal from a rules perpective. It’s a really clever piece of software. Then, when I was done building, I could print out my army list, and it listed all the units, along with all of their abilities and which books and pages I could find the rules about the specific abilities. For a beginner, all that stuff is key.

Having built my army virtually, I went to a Games Workshop store and dropped some (understatement) money on a bunch of Ork models, some modelling tools and supplies, and a bunch of paint and such.

I proceeded to build the models and figures when I realized I couldn’t see. Like really couldn’t get my eyes to focus on the stuff I was working on. I’ve since realized that I’ve been basically looking at everything within two feet in a blur. I literally cannot focus my eyes on anything inside 18″. My monitors have been getting bigger, and further away from me. I don’t really look at my keyboard when I type any more. Yes, when I read, I find that I’m holding the book further away from me than I used to. But now when I was working with small plastic pieces and knives and glue, I realized that I couldn’t see what I was doing. My work was sloppy and I wasn’t too happy about it.

I’ve always been farsighted. Always. But, with some effort, I could always focus on things about 8 or 9 inches away. I can’t do that any more. I definitely need glasses now. So I’m making an appointment with an optometrist…but I had all these models and miniatures I wanted to work on. Now.

So I ordered the MagnaVisor. Yes, it’s hugely geeky. But I got it yesterday, and last night, after dinner, I grabbed the visor, a freshly primed miniature, and my paints and brushes. Two and a half hours later, I had a painted miniature…and it’s REALLY good. The visor made it so I could see things ridiculously clearly…and my hands are still plenty steady as it turns out. I’m really pleased with the way it came out. I’ll post a picture of it tonight.

So, while I still need glasses, the visor was an awesome purchase, and I’m excited to get my army all painted and on the front lines!