Posts tagged ‘mmo’

Firefly Online

FFO_bgrdFirefly Online (FFO) was announced over a year ago at 2013′s San Diego Comic Con. I watched the teaser video and got excited. Then I saw in the video description that is was a “multi-user, social online role-playing game that will initially be available for smartphones and tablets” and got depressed. I’ve kept a hopeful eye on it anyway, and over time the direction of the game seems to have changed dramatically. Or it could just be that someone really screwed up the original PR for the game.

IMG_20130723_132123One of the reasons why I kept an eye on the project, aside from sheer contrariness and masochism, was that QMx was listed as working on the project with Spark Plug Games. Quantum Mechanix has made a lot of really nice Firefly merchandise including the Serenity Little Damn Heroes Maquette that I have on my shelf. This gave me a little hope that the game would at least look good and be true to the series.

A game play article posted near the end of 2013 specifically called out the social tag as well as clarified that the game would be available on desktops, both of which helped allay my initial fears. Based on an article about persistent play, it actually looks like the mobile platforms will be for a limited subset of the game features. If the actually game works like the article outlines, it will actually be pretty nice and something that myself and many other players have been wanting for Star Trek Online’s Duty Officer system. It would be great to be able to manage Doff assignments from my phone rather than having to wait until I can log into the full game.

With the Big Damn Heroes announcement earlier this summer, I’m getting cautiously excited about the game. Spark Plug Games has already gotten voice work recorded by Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Ron Glass, and Sean Maher. At the time of posting Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, and Summer Glau were scheduled to come in. And Gina Torres is still getting the timing worked out. I really hadn’t expected SPG to get that kind of support for the game. It’s also interesting from a timeline that Ron and Alan are doing voicework.

The release date has been pushed back two quarters from summer 2014 (which is nearly over anyway) to spring 2015, so I’ll have a while longer to wait and see if my initial skepticism was warranted. I have to say though that I like that the release was pushed back. It says a lot about Spark Plug, QMx and Fox that they were willing to invest several more months into the project rather than just release with what they had and fix it afterwards. Not every development studio gets that kind of support.

Day 22 of Blaugust

Perks of being a Fleet Admiral

The Path to Level 60 in Star Trek Online

Cryptic released the first of many, I assume, dev blogs regarding the Delta Rising expansion. This one deals with raising the level cap from to 60 from 50, Admiral to Fleet Admiral ranks. Before I get into it, I just wanted to mention how much I’ve enjoyed the LCARs formatting they’ve added to most of the blogs recently. It’s the small touches like this that add so much to the game experience.

A new Specialization Tree system is going to be added, with captains awarded 1 point per level after 50. This doesn’t stop at level 60 but continues to award points every time enough skill points are accumulated that you would have earned another level. So theoretically you’ll eventually be able to max out all your Specialization Trees. The blog doesn’t say what the curve looks like for skill points per level or if the curve flattens out after 60, nor are there any specifics on the Specializations yet.

I’m think the Specializations sound interesting. I like that Skill Points will stop converting to Expertise. I believe I have about 5 million points of that unused by now (after checking I actually have 6.1 million), so it’s not like Expertise is in demand once you get your Bridge Officers’ skills figured out. There’s not enough detail here yet though to get excited about.

Jasyla’s Gaming Questionaire, Part Two

With STO news out of the way, here’s questions 11-21 from Cannot Be Tamed:

11. Describe your perfect video game.

Highly customizable character, great story, smart dialog, combat and puzzles that gradually get tougher and prepare you for the challenges that follow.

12. What video game character do have you have a crush on?

Tali’Zorah

13. What game has the best music?

My favorite game soundtrack, at least recently, has been the one for Planetary Annihilation from Uber.

14. Most memorable moment in a game:

There’s more I’m sure, but the first one that popped into my head was wandering into the Lone Lands in the Lord of the Rings Online and seeing Weathertop for the first time.

15. Scariest moment in a game:

Nothing comes to mind, I don’t play horror games though.

16. Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:

Mordin’s final scene in Mass Effect 3.

17. What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?

That’s what blogrolls are for! :)

18. What’s the last game you finished?

I think it was Dishonored. Since I play a lot of MMOs and Minecraft, I really can’t finish many of the games I spend time on.

19. What future releases are you most excited about?

Star Crawlers and Last Life are two games that I backed on Kickstarter that I’m excited to see come out (and hopefully do well). BioWare’s new Shadow Realms looks interesting but there’s hardly enough known yet to warrant excitement.

If I could pick any game that’s been announced as in development and have it magically done and released tomorrow, I’d go for the next Mass Effect game that’s in the works. Looking at my answers today and yesterday I apparently have Mass Effect on the brain, no clue as to why that is.

20. Do you identify as a gamer?

Absolutely. I’ve taken some crap about that in the past, normally from co-workers saying it seems like a waste of time, more than once they’ve said this after talking about watching football all weekend on the couch.

21. Why do you play video games?

The same reasons why I read books: entertainment, escapism, and mental stimulation.

Day 20 of Blaugust

Starships and Capes

Astrometrics Report

Cryptic released a little more background on the Delta Rising expansion. It looks like the content will focus on the volume of space from the Nekrit Expanse towards the Alpha Quadrant. Very few of the species in Voyager are ones I’m interested in except for the Voth which we’ve already seen. But the article touches on the Borg Cooperative, which is from the Voyager episode Unity, which I’d totally forgotten about. I’ll definitely be interested in seeing how they’ve gotten on in the last 30-something years.

Silver Hunter Returns?

I was surprised to see a big article on Champions Online on Massively today. It looks like they’re making a big content update in September. The new areas sound interesting. The new mission arc I’m curious about but in the past their arcs have always seemed to have frustrating vertical difficulty curves near the tail end (at least for a non-min/maxed hero playing solo).

Cryptic’s Champions team is also taking a page from their old City of Heroes incarnation with a new archetype that only unlocks once a player gets a max level character, just like the Kheldian Peacebringer and Warshade classes from CoH. I’m pretty skeptical of how well that will go over. The strength of Champions, to me anyway, over City of Heroes was that I wasn’t limited to a specific set of powers. Or at least not as long as I was subscribing, and I bought a lifetime sub way back so for me that’s a permanent feature of the game.

Regardless of how well the new archetype goes over, I hope the new content gives the game a boost. I’d love an excuse to dust of the Silver Hunter and return to Millennium City for a while.

Day 12 of Blaugust

Delta Quadrant Bound

05311098887bcda9712b9209e89c445d1407361503Cryptic and Perfect World formally announced the second expansion for Star Trek Online today, Delta Rising. I say formally because the initial announcement was made at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas last weekend, a video of which is linked in the announcement.

Voyager is not my favorite series, I found several of the characters either bland or annoying. That said, I was very impressed with Tim Russ’ reprising Tuvok for the Season 9 update so I was pleased that Garrett Wang is being brought on to voice Ensign Kim. Except he’s finally been promoted to Captain. Even cooler is Garrett only the first Voyager cast member to be announced, there’ll be  more in the coming weeks. I’m really hope that Robert Picardo is figuratively waiting in the wings.

Game-wise the biggest feature, in my opinion, is the level cap increase from 50 to 60. I don’t think I’ve played any MMO that’s gone four years without a level cap bump. A new level cap means new story content which is sorely needed.

Cryptic is also adding a new post 50 infinite progression system as well as a new tier of starships. I’m skeptical about how infinite this new progression system will be. I imagine that either means it will be a massive grind to achieve anything or it will offer diminishing returns on improvement. The new tier of starships sound interesting as there’ll be something new with bridge officers among other hinted at features. Unfortunately with so little real information yet the forum warriors have already begun beating their war drums over concern that their current min/maxed Tier 5 ships suddenly won’t be as godlike as they are now.

Personally, I’m looking forward to more content regardless of any other changes. In the absence of a regular TV show, this is the Star Trek franchise for me.

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations Day 7 of Blaugust

Feature Episode series comes to the STO Foundry

Authors from Starbase UGC have teamed up to make a six part series on the level of Cryptic’s Featured Episode series. I can’t wait to check the first one out come October 1st, while I really enjoyed the Romulan expansion my favorite character will always be my first Federation one, Bryn, and I’m looking forward to have some appointment playtime like in the first years of STO when Cryptic was doing their features.

Check out their teaser trailer.

Defiance the Game

I’ve been playing a ton of Defiance lately. It’s fun. You should try it out.

You want more detail? Okay fine.

It’s an interesting combination of shooter and MMO. I think it’s geared more towards MMO players than shooter fans though. If you’re a hard core Gears of Halo Duty fan, I imagine you’ll find Defiance too shallow. The only shooters I’ve ever played and enjoyed much were the Mass Effects and Red Dead Redemption, and Defiance has a fair amount in common with both.

Like those games, Defiance relies on story to get you through the single player campaign. The twist for Defiance is there are other people playing their single player campaigns around you, which is nice when there’s another player or two around to help with a trio of super mutants popping out of a chopper and shooting grenades everywhere. Unlike most other MMOs, there’s no kill stealing or ninja looting to deal with so it’s like Guild Wars 2 where passersby are more likely to help out than hinder you.

Despite there being other players about though, the game is kind of lonely. The chat window is a tiny box in the bottom right and I’m usually so focused on what’s going on in the game world that I never notice it on the rare occasions someone does say something. I imagine that’s why voice chat is built into the game, especially given it was intended for consoles as well. I disabled that after the first day though. I assume it works better on console platforms where it’s the norm, but PC players are used to push-to-talk systems and I was hearing a lot of keyboard and mouse clicking rather than actual chatting. It definitely could’ve been worse though.

Arkfalls will be familiar to anyone who’s played Rift or Warhammer. They are basically the same mechanic as Rift Invasions or Public Quests. I think they are more fun in Defiance. It just works better in a gun-focused game where everyone is highly mobile and there’s no holy trinity baggage.

Vehicles are surprisingly one of the most of parts of the game for me. First, it never stops being funny to crunch a hellbug or clip a 99er as I’m speeding down the road. Second, the boost mechanic and lack of falling damage make hills an absolute joy. There are some racing challenges in the game that are fun and occasionally frustrating, but definitely worth trying.

My major complaint with the game is the UI. EVE is notorious for theirs and rightfully so. It’s complicated but once you learn it its just awkward. Defiance’s UI is awkward in the way most UIs designed for console and ported to PC are. It’s not as complicated as EVE’s, but it isn’t simple.

For example, you begin the game with two loadouts. If you equip a weapon on either one then it’s no longer available to sell, which makes sense. Unfortunately there’s no way to see which loadout has the gun equipped without checking them all. Not a huge deal but it is cumbersome when trying to organize twenty some weapons across three loadouts. I also finally figured out last night why the modifications screen wouldn’t always let me add mod slots to items. That option only appears if the weapon isn’t equipped on any loadouts. Adding a slot takes ten minutes, so I can see why they did it, but I would rather they just allow me to unequip it from the mod window directly.

The UI has also had quite a few bugs. It took half a dozen tries the other day for MMOGC to get a clan invite to send to me. Even then my clan screen didn’t register that I was in one until I logged in later that evening. A few times my friends list has been blank on logging in, and there was a substantial rollback the other night.

Support seems to be on the ball at least. I had bought some Bits, which is what they call the store currency, and picked up a +15 slot inventory upgrade which i unfortunately lost when i logged in after the rollback. My Bit balance was the same as after the purchase though. I got a response to my support email within 24 hours and got the Bits refunded so I could repurchase the inventory upgrade. So all in all, not a bad deal.

Defiance is fun, if a little rough in places. I don’t think Trion has been a successful with this launch as they were with Rift. But Rift didn’t release simultaneously on three platforms. I can’t make any guarantees about it’s long term viability but if you’ve followed my gaming habits at all you’ll know that’s generally not a concern of mine. Besides, there’s no subscription so I can take a break whenever and jump in anytime I feel like hunting an Arkfall.

If you are a casual fan of shooters and enjoyed the Rift Invasions in Rift then I think you’ll have a blast in Defiance. If you’re a hardcore Call of Halo Warfare Gears, don’t waste your money.

Expectations and Resolutions for 2013

Writing

In January 2012, I’d resolved to post directly to the blog more and edit less. I had an especially bad habit of leaving posts to languish in my drafts folder for months and then deleting them because they weren’t topical anymore. While I did get better about editing, I didn’t post straight to the blog much at all. So I’m renewing the same resolution to be more brave about my posting in the coming year. At least that’s going to be my excuse for any typos people point out.

Upcoming Games

There are a few MMOs that I’m anticipating:

  • City of Steam
  • Defiance
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Neverwinter

City of Steam is my novelty game. It’s a steampunk setting with a F2P model using a browser client. I missed a few chances to play in the closed beta, so I can’t say anything about how it plays. I’m a little concerned that they’re relying on just the setting to differentiate the game from other MMOs instead of trying to refine and improve the genre standard mechanics, but that’s based on superficial research on my part.

I’m pulling for Defiance partly because it’s by Trion. I’ve continued to be a fan of how Trion’s developed Rift even after I wasn’t actively subscribing to it (although I did resubscribe when the Storm Legion expansion was announced), and I’d like to see them continue to succeed. The other reason I’m hoping it does well is there’s a real dearth of science-fiction MMOs and I’m hoping this one doesn’t suffer the same fate as Tabula Rasa. I really don’t think that’s likely, considering how invested both Trion and SyFy are in the game and tie-in television series.

Elder Scrolls Online is my dark horse game. I was originally pretty pessimistic about the game’s chances, but my opinion has since become more optimistic based on developer interviews. Of course talk is cheap so who knows if ESO will fly or fall, but I’m hoping that it does well just so I can explore Tamriel more widely than I’ve been able to do in Skyrim.

Of all of the upcoming MMOs, Neverwinter is the only one that I’m genuinely excited for. Prior to going to GenCon this summer, this game was in the I’ll-play-it-when-it-comes-out category but I was really impressed with out beautiful the demo was. The environments were detailed and interesting, and the animations were fluid. The gameplay itself was very action oriented, and reminded me slightly of Torchlight and Gauntlet. Add all that to a supercharged version of the Foundry software that’s currently in Star Trek Online, and I’m not only excited to play the game Cryptic is making but also see what kinds of modules players build. There’ve been some really excellent missions done in STO and I hope that Neverwinter will inspire the same amount of creativity in it’s players.

Backlog

Outside of those few new games, this year is going to be all about the backlog. Anyone want to take bets on how long that lasts?

MMOs

Champions Online has been making a lot of changes and I really want to roll up a brand new hero to see what’s changed with the game since 2011. I know there’s lots of new powers and custom pieces, plus they recently added vehicles, and have just started hinting a some big new content releases.

Lord of the Rings Online has the whole Riders of Rohan expansion that I’ve not touched yet, plus I still have about a third of the Rise of Isengard expansion to finish.

Rift has had a huge amount of new content added, I just need to sit down and force myself to rebuild all of the roles that’ve been reset on my Mage.

Single-player

Even though I completed Dishonored, I was working on replaying a few missions with full stealth/zero kills. I’d also still like to do a second playthrough as more of an assassin than a ghost, but I’m going to bump that down to the bottom of my list for the year.

I’d only gotten through about a third of A Game of Dwarves before I was distracted by some other game.

I haven’t played that last three DLCs for Mass Effect 3.

I never got back to Skyrim last year like I intended, not to mention there’s been one major DLC released for the PC with another one announced.

I’ve barely gotten into Torchlight 2.

I loved the demo for XCOM enough to preorder the game, but I haven’t launched it since it released. I played Dishonored first since I wanted to make sure I finished that, and got distracted before I could even start XCOM.

Plus from my Steam there’s Orcs Must Die 1 & 2, Legend of Grimrock, Anno 2070, SPAZ, and the Back to the Future series all of which barely makes a dent. I also have a few Kickstarter backed games that are in or nearing the beta stages that I want to contribute playtime to like Castle Story, Timber and Stone, and the Banner Saga multiplayer.

Other Hobbies and My 2013 Resolution

Outside of games, I also have some more Star Trek ship models to assemble and paint, plus my long suffering Nanowrimo novel from 2010 that I still want to finish.

Having so little free time with so many demands is the core of what I want to work on this year. I’ve been in the habit of surfing along with my moods and interests and just spending time on games and projects as my id dictated. While there’s not really anything bad about going with the flow like that, it hasn’t been good for finishing projects. So this year I’m actually making lists of games and other projects I want to finish and sorting them in the order I want to tackle them with the intention of focusing on one at a time. I’ve already had some success at that, since that’s basically how I’ve finished all three Mass Effect games, Red Dead Redemption, and Dishonored. My problems nearly always stem from trying to multi-task between games and other hobbies.

Wish me luck.

2012

What a year! In the past I’ve done an annual review of what I played and how well my expectations from January matched up with reality in December, and I’ve been working on exactly that for this year but feels too long and hasn’t been very interesting to write so I can imagine how much fun it would be to read. None. Instead, I wanted to cover some of the highs and lows for the year on the blog.

Not Games

For my non-gaming life, the birth of my second son, Thing Two, was definitely the high point of the year, more specifically the fact that he’s a good sleeper was regularly sleeping three to four hours a night from the second night he came home. Thing One didn’t sleep like that until he could roll over which he didn’t do until he was nine months old. That was a long nine months for both my wife and I and I’m so grateful that we got an easier baby for the second time through the newborn experience.

The biggest non-game disappointment to me for the year has been my blog. I’ve hit dry patches before but this year was the first time that I had a lull where I actually considered quitting  I got to December and realized I hadn’t posted in two months and had stopped reading probably three quarters of the MMO blogs in my RSS. Reading some year ends posts though has motivated me to work on my own, which has re-energized me to keep up with the blog for another year.

New Games

My favorite new games for the year in no particular order were:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Dishonored
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Knights of Pen and Paper
  • A Game of Dwarves

Mass Effect 3 was surprisingly controversial for it’s ending, even though I liked it personally I seem to be in the minority. Instead I expected the multiplayer to be the thing everyone hated, yet I’m still spending time in it. I absolutely never expected to be playing ME3 multiplayer once I’d finished the story let alone months later.

Dishonored was a fun combination of branching-linear story with sandbox stealth and combat. I’d never played any of the Thief or Hitman games, so this was really my first exposure to the stealth genre. I really enjoyed the steam-punk style world as well as the the story, characters, and voice acting. The combat and stealth mechanics were tons of fun too, and I’m hoping to see a sequel or some more weighty DLC announced this year.

Guild Wars 2 turned out to be more fun than I hoped. The original Guild Wars never enticed me to explore in the world, not because of a lack of jumping but because of all of the invisible walls in the game. GW2 enthusiastically promotes exploring with all of the hidden vistas and puzzles. I generally dislike platformers, yet I’ve spend several hours on jumping puzzles in GW2.

Knights of Pen and Paper is one of the first mobile games I’ve spent a lot of time playing on my phone. In fact this year has seen a bit of an explosion in good games. In 2011 I maybe had five or six games on my phone that I would kill some time on occasionally, wheres in 2012 I had more than twenty games installed on my phone and fix or six I was spending a few hours a week on.

A Game of Dwarves didn’t get reviewed well on the few critic sites I read, but I’ve still enjoyed it a lot. The quests and dialog are full of puns and twists on fantasy tropes. The game mechanics are a fun combination of Minecraft and Dunegon Keeper. It’s not an open sandbox like Minecraft but it does scratch some of the same itches in having your dwarves explore a level and build a base.

Old Games

I had originally figured on going back and finishing a lot of the games I’d started in 2011 but gotten distracted from, Skyrim being the chief one on the list. That was when I expected to be on an enforced MMO fast. So since I was mostly able to spend my nights how I wanted, I ended up playing whatever my current obsession was. Initially that was SWTOR, then it was STO, then GW2, then STO again. Rift, Champions, and LotRO spent all year on my to-play list but I never found the motivation to spend more than an hour or two in any of them. Of everything I’ve played this year that was released pre-2012, STO’s been my favorite.

Star Trek Online had a really rough 2011. The acquisition by Perfect World, F2P transition, lots and lots and lots of drama, and nearly no content. Really things could only get better in 2012, and happily I think they did. Dan Stahl returned as the Executive Producer, Cryptic’s STO team doubled in size, and they had two very well received Season releases. It wasn’t a perfect year of course, I’d like to have seen more than one new Featured Episode series for instance, and there was still quite a bit of drama, but it was definitely not the year of hell that 2011 was.

Middle-Earth travel plans delayed slightly.

The Riders of Rohan expansion snuck up on me.

Despite reading dozens of articles and seeing lots of mentions on Twitter, I didn’t actually realize how close the launch was until Sunday night. I was catching up on my news and saw the goodie bag reminder from Goldenstar, so I logged in to reopen my home and do some preparation on my main and a couple of alts.

I had planned to log in last night to behind my adventures among the Horse-lords, but it was taking so long to patch the expansion (wish there had been a pre-patch available) that I decided to play some Dishonored while I waited. The next thing I know it’s 1 am.

When Rise of Isengard launched, I ended up making only a brief trip to Dunland where I did a little sightseeing and then headed back to Mirkwood and Dunland to finish the Epic Story quests that I’d skipped. It was nice being in Mirkwood and Enedwaith which were fairly quiet while the launch crowds were in Dunland.

My current plan is to do pretty much the same thing with Rohan. During my last period of LotRO focus, I’d gotten to the border between Dunland and Isengard before being distracted by Skyrim, and I’d like to avoid opening gaps in my Epic Story quests on my main character (who’s the only one above level 30). There’s a decent chance though, that I’ll have so much fun with mounted combat that I won’t want to head back.

Besides the mounted combat, I’m really looking forward to seeing Turbine’s open tapping implementation and how well it works compare to what I’ve gotten used to in Guild Wars 2. I hope that it is so well received that Turbine applies it to old zones as well, even though I realize that’s a massive amount of work. ArenaNet’s design has led to a very cooperative and mostly friendly community, at least in my experience, and I would love to see that same spirit brought to Tolkien’s world as well.

Star Trek Online’s September State of the Game

Despite Guild Wars 2 dominating my gaming time lately, I have been popping into STO every couple of days to check in on the fleet and setup some duty officer assignments. I’ve also been keeping track of updates and news including the recent September State of the Game.

Aside from the usual talk about the successes of Season 6 and plans moving forward, the following quote was what stuck with me the most.

We’ve been very lucky to land some great talent from 38 Studios and Paragon Studios.

I know a lot of people haven’t been happy with Perfect World and STO’s move to free-to-play, which I think can be summed up with the word lockboxes, but it does seem to be working for Cryptic. Their team has grown quite a bit this year, it’s actually doubled if I remember right from an interview I listened to, and seeing that Cryptic’s been able to pick up some developers who unfortunately lost their jobs when other studios were shutdown seems like a good thing all around.

I guess I wasn’t too far off in February after all.