Thursday, January 14, 2010

Team Fortress 2 - Contribute!

Calling all creators- apparently TF2 is letting you craft your own items, hats, avatars, and other goodies to "immortaliz[e] you in the Team Fortress 2 pantheon forever while keeping our jobs safe."

Crowdsourced stuff from a major community like TF2 is bound to have some successes, and it shows Valve's still committed to revitalizing a game many have said has left its prime months ago. Hell, half the people I know who play this game are art majors, and they alone have created enough out-of-game related art to fill half a book.

I fear for Valve's servers once they open this floodgate.

Posted via web from Kuri's posterous

Continue Reading Team Fortress 2 - Contribute!

Grats GC!

I don't usually call this stuff out on my blog, but this deserves a shout-out.

Rotface has been a real thorn in our side since last week on both 10 and 25-man, and we finally nailed him in both modes. Now to work on Putricide (with a scant 10 attempts)!

Posted via web from Kuri's posterous

Continue Reading Grats GC!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Everquest Gets an Epic Documentary

I was meaning to post this a while back, but better late than never. Actually, the way it is now, it acts as a slick post-mortem to the EverQuest convention where this documentary was aired! Slick, huh?

So finally, here's a guy covering Everquest who isn't dressed up as an elf or dwarf in chainmail- not that there's anything wrong with those obsessed fans covering these types of things. Come to think of it, they'd probably make the best documentary since they live the MMO life in- and out-of-game... but I digress.

So a one-time developer and present-day TV and videogame producer by the name of Jason Hall put together a series of never-before-seen interviews with the original EverQuest team. You may also know him as the Founder/CEO of Monolith Productions (think F.E.A.R., The Matrix Online... okay, probably best to stop there). He's now tackling reality shows.

Regardless of your feelings about a producer covering a once-titanic MMO or the MMO genre in general, it's great to finally get a true insider look into the MMO companies behind the game. This documentary shows a mixture of things: MMO addict developers giving insight to the passion that formed the game, twists along the way that could've kept this genre from ever taking off, some unexpected "by-products" of EverQuest (WoW players will appreciate the nod), and more. If you have any feelings towards MMO games whatsoever, this should at least frame the industry that's made it as far as it has today.

Sadly, the convention this video aired at just finished yesterday so the full video isn't up yet. Feel free to torrent scan (I will) and catch the full product when it's up. Anything that has confetti, women popping out of cakes, and sparkles has an automatic "win" factor of 10.

Check after the break for the trailer.

Continue Reading Everquest Gets an Epic Documentary

Monday, June 08, 2009

Mountain Dew Game Fuel: WoW Edition

On the heels of last year's summer Halo 3-themed Game Fuel line (and their election-style compeititon between 3 new berry fusion flavors two years ago), Mountain Dew is testing your faction loyalty with 2 types of World of Warcraft drinks. Alliance will have a wild fruit flavor, and Horde will be citrus cherry (think Baja Blast and Livewire/Code Red).

These drinks have been very elusive, but after recently moving to Chicago I found each of these stocked at a local CVS. Nobody else I know has their hands on these yet, so they might be releasing their new flavors in phases in key locations. Makes sense if they're ramping up production over the summer.

They're also doing something akin to their (now-ancient) 'Every 10 Minutes' campaign on their Game Fuel website, and you can win random WoW-related swag, PC peripherals, an Alienware laptop... or even a trip to Blizzcon. Sign up, click things for points, and enter for a chance to win every 5 minutes (if you place points in each item- not recommended). Down the road, no matter how many tokens you do or don't acquire, you'll be awarded a cute robot mini-pet, so make sure you don't get shafted by picking Horde if you'd really like a blue pet.

I won't even try to pick sides to say which one tastes better, or if the Halo variety outdid what's out now. What I will say is you should at least try it, since supporting new flavors will ensure at some point down the road they will have a whole line-up of good flavors.

And now, a picture of my loot.

Continue Reading Mountain Dew Game Fuel: WoW Edition

Sunday, June 07, 2009

5 Things in 5 (Well, 8) Minutes - Podcast 001

You might've wondered where I've been. Well, turns out making a podcast is a little more involved than I previously thought! And even after the podcast was made, there's still the matter of offering the media. Well, good news is... finally, those obstacles are gone.

5 Things in 5 Minutes is the new podcast theme for this blog. Once every few days (podcast update frequency to be announced at a later date), I'll be uploading this as a quick non-text recap of important news of the week. There's much more than 5 things going on at any given time, but these are the 5 most interesting to me. Oh, the power.

Included with the podcast will be "show notes" to provide additional context to the show. If something feels glazed-over in the podcast, check the notes- you'll find plenty of resources to deepen your understanding.

Show Notes for Episode 001:

Left 4 Dead 2 (Soon?)
Parodying the community reaction for L4D2's unexpectedly-early release, we have these two videos. Epic music and ominous tones? Check and check. 2.0 is (Maybe?) Free!
Why go in detail when you can see my update here?

The Big 3 Makes Motion Controllers Now, Not Cars

PSP Go is Go!
More specs than you can shake a stick at. Click here for community (well, IGN editors') impressions.

EA Thinks Protesting is Marketing
Viral marketing hits E3. News at 11.

Hope you enjoyed the first episode, and be sure to tune in next time. I might even get a better microphone.

Continue Reading 5 Things in 5 (Well, 8) Minutes - Podcast 001

Saturday, June 06, 2009

CONFIRMED: 2.0 to Be Free

You wonder why Blizzard didn't release this from the first announcements of Starcraft II and Diablo 3, but late's better than never.

According to Activision-Blizzard's annual conference call, and now a post on the official forums, 2.0 will be free to those purchasing Starcraft 2. This comes as good news to people frettting they'll have to fork over $50 for the base game and complement it with an XBOX Live subscription.

However, if you look closely at the wording, you'll notice Blue poster Karune only specifically mentions SC2. Yes, it's the SC2 forum on Yes, he's primarily speaking to the SC2-interested audiences. No, I didn't get the opportuniy to sit in on the Activision-Blizzard conference call to hear Mike Morhaime specifically define what the service covers. But there's some important factors to consider... after the break.

World of Warcraft, which will be included in the new 2.0 integration, already has a $15/mo subscription fee attached, so including Bnet2.0 should be a no-brainer. SC2 was recently announced as a trilogy, so assuming a $50+ price tag on each game, they're netting $150+ total from each dedicated customer over the lifespan of SC2. Diablo, the only intellectual property still in the air, is only planned (at this stage) to be a single-game iteration, so this game might be up for a 2.0 access fee, or worse, a subscription model. However, the Diablo community has come to expect free online play from the previous 2 games... but meeting profit estimates tend to trump histortical trends. This is just the cynic in me talking, though.

If you dig enough, you'll even find tidbits that older games will not be supported (although this isn't cited anywhere specifically). This means they'll be stuck on the old iteration until they're taken offline. It makes sense since the new is being built around a whole new infrastructure (clan management, event planning, game achievements, etc.), but it's sad to see if you're playing a retro game there's a chance your friends won't see you on.

Overall, it's good to see Blizzard's moving towards a "free" model for 2.0. But this all might be dependent on how much revenue they can generate from each IP individually over the long-term to support the service. Keep your ears tuned, especially in August during Blizzcon, to see how this situation evolves. Better yet, come to my blog, since I'll actually be attending (liveblog attempt incoming?!).

Continue Reading CONFIRMED: 2.0 to Be Free

Friday, June 05, 2009

E3 Winds Down

So, the truncated E3 is down from 5 days to 4 since it shrunk in 2007, which means it's officially over and we have all the news updates to skim over and analyze from the previous week.  I saw a suprising amount of journalists lamenting over the short period since there were so many games to test, but too long of lines to get to them all.

Rather than try to be one of those blogging androids that covers all of E3 from all sides (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, independent hardware developers... and all the games being showcased), I will take the more humanistic approach and cover the highlights of the event.  Best thing is, since I'm not liveblogging the content, I can provide insight with the power of hindsight.

Not saying it wouldn't have been fun liveblogging the event, but that's what Twitter's for nowadays.  I'd also prefer to be at the presentations.  So we'll save those crazy antics for the day I get a press pass.

Now that you know my stance on the subject, keep your eyes peeled in the following weeks for updates on all the E3 announcements and their impact on how you'll be playing your consoles going forward.

Continue Reading E3 Winds Down

Star Wars Galaxies: A Nostalgic Retrospective

Hey, blog!  Long time no see.  Been doing well while I've been gone?  Aw, you even kept this place how I left it.

Now if you don't mind, I'll be taking over again.

To jump back into this whole blogging thing, I felt an MMO-related story would be appropriate.  So what better to kick off with than my old stompin' grounds of 5 years passed, Star Wars Galaxies?

I stumbled across a great compendium to learn about Star Wars Galaxies, where it goes over the game's pre-launch, initial reception, progressive (and regressive) updates, eventual downfall, and present condition.  It's really summarized quite well, and is available after the break.

I, personally, left the game right before player housing and vehicles were implemented and the Jedi unlocking system was 4/5ths-released to the public.  In short, I was really not playing all that long, although it did consume at least 4 months of my teenage life.  I can still remember my old guild (the name of said guild, not so much) and things like entire staked-out fields of windmills to generate resources to build our first guild city, invasions of Republic guild cities, duels with players much more powerful than myself, tromps across vast planets, and constantly not understading what I was doing.

Some things in the videos are spot-on:
  • There was (and apparently still is) very little direction given in the game.
  • The New Game Experience patch utterly destroyed the community by releasing Jedi as a readily-available class, when it was a smash-keyboard-and-win kind of class.  That and the whole talent/combat revamp.  From all accounts it was an unwelcome shellshock.
  • The 34 classes provided depth but, as the game expanded, was ultimately a barrier for new entrants.
  • The game's scale is indeed the most ambitious of all games released to date to capture the feel and immersion of the Star Wars world.

But one small quibble- the "new Star Wars MMO that is nothing but rumors" is in fact no longer a rumor- it's confirmed Bioware is working on The Old Republic, as evidenced by their theatrical trailer and accompanying footage.

The mighty may have fallen, but in their place arise great things.  This kind of evolution is what keeps me excited about the MMO genre.

Continue Reading Star Wars Galaxies: A Nostalgic Retrospective

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

World of Warcraft: 3.0.3's Largest Nerf

You might be wondering- what's the big deal about a broom?

Well, for those of us who have been playing World of Warcraft for the last half a month, there was an event called Hallow's End that integrated candy, tricks, and loot into 15 days of festive fun, traveling, and boss-slaying. One of the unsung champions of this event was none other than the Magic Broom.

What this little guy did was nix the usual 3-second cast time to mount. There were major implications due to this in multiple areas- you saw every PVPer sporting this guy since you could pop on a 100% speed mount immediately upon leaving combat. Advantages are even better for Rogues and the Night Elf class, who sport Vanish and Shadowmeld to immediately leave combat. I presume it's a similar situation for Hunters with Feign Death.

In PVE, suddenly grinding low-level quests and monsters weren't as big of a hassle. Usually monsters are spaced 20-30 yards apart, and the run time wasted during a typical quest could be upwards of 5 minutes. Assuming it takes 15 minutes to do a quest with some traveling, that's 33% of your time spent running monster to monster! This cut that downtime to 1 minute or less, and it was suddenly fun to chain-quest again.

I think Blizzard realizes the benefits this item brought, but its effect in PVP probably made it overpowered. I don't see anything wrong with having no cast time on mounts- it makes for a twitchier game- and I'd gladly take it back. It's a drag that the game feels it needs to waste time just to waste time by re-implementing the cast time to mount. I say be done with it and make every mount casting time-free.

Your customers who like spending their time playing, not casting and standing still, will thank you.

(In other news, I hope Blizzard finally fixed the achievement "A Simple Re-Quest". I'd like to enter a Battleground again without having to worry about it wiping the number!)

Continue Reading World of Warcraft: 3.0.3's Largest Nerf