Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

A Modern MMO without “Thottbot”?

Even back in 1999 when I first started playing Asheron’s Call ( several months after release) there was a website around that was there to post all of the monthly patch info with all the quest walkthroughs and other new additions to the game. It was a life-saver, it really was. Without that website, it was nearly impossible to find consistent, helpful information in a timely manner when trying to do the quests. It could be done, but it was simply a question of conveniece. You and your guildmates could take several hours trying to do it yourselves, or you could have the whole thing completed in a half an hour with the reward in your pack. Though I never played EQ, it sounds like Allakhazam was the same way (which has expanded since then.) Today we still have Allakhazam, Thottbot, WowHead, etc. that answer virtually every question we have, whether it’s from the actual information they give or the comments posted by players. With this in mind, I guess the question that I’m asking is two-fold:

Are there any players who choose not to use any of this information, and does this add to the immersion and role-playing aspects of the game at all?

I think for me its a question of whether it’s there or not. I love the idea of asking players for help on how to complete a quest, but this also means that a player has to be willing to help me out with an answer. Also, I don’t want to feel like an annoyance or a burden to my friends or guildmates if I need information they have (and likewise, I could see myself being annoyed after answering too many questions.) That said, if I can pop out to a website and get the information in 30 seconds, then I’m going to do that.

Is there a way to actually create a game that would require the aid of other players in gaining information that couldn’t simply be put on a website for all to see? Continuing this line of though, would players be willing to play with a system like this or would they get too frustrated that they couldn’t always find a walkthrough or coordinates or the name of the vendor they need instantly?

Like the last question, it’s something that’s difficult to answer if you aren’t presented with both options. There are times when I can’t find the answer I need and I become frustrated, yet there are times when this lack of a direct answer seems like a nice challenge. This largely depends on my mood, as well as how long it takes me to find the solution.

What do you think? Would you be willing to play a game where answers were more secretive, held closely to the chest? Is this ever going to be possible again?

~Kanthalos

Anarchy Online Graphics Update

I just watched a video of the new Anarchy Online graphics engine. I must say it’s rather impressive, fairly equivalent to EQ2. In any case, if this was a video of a new game coming out, I wouldn’t think twice about whether the graphics were up to par with other games coming out soon. My only real question is how they could afford to do this with a free-to-play game, running only on in-game advertisements. Also, are they planning on starting to charge players for the game or are they going to stick with advertising? If enough players come back, they might be kicking themselves by not charging. Then again, perhaps fewer players would come back or some players might leave if they did start charging for a subscription. Furthermore, players of the game now might not be able to play with the new graphics engine, which could cause quite a stir. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

~Kanthalos

Unreal Tournament 3 and More

Well, I didn’t heed the advice given to me to try the Orange Box. Now I’m kicking myself.

/start rant
I went to Best Buy on Saturday, and picked up a copy of Unreal Tournament 3. I got home, hoping for a smooth installation, but that wasn’t meant to be. I think my CD-ROM drive is beginning to crap out, because I tried installing it four times before I decided to give up, thinking there was a problem with the disc. I took it back for an exchange, only to realize that it was now getting stuck at a different point in the installation. Just before I was about to give up entirely I decided that I would use an external hard drive on my second computer to transfer all of the files onto, then transfer them onto my main computer and install it that way. After dealing with a few other minor complications with this, I finally got it up and running!

More problems ensued, however, which again, were probably due to my 2 1/2 year-old computer. After getting it going, it looked like complete garbage. I opened up the graphics options and saw that the resolution default was actually lower than 800 x 600, so I kicked that up to 1024 x 768. It looked better, but still terrible. I kick all of the options up as high as they could go. I knew this would drop the fps to a terrible rate, but I wanted to at least see how it looked. Still, the ground and certain spots on walls were oversaturated and even the things that weren’t still looked sub-par. This leads me to my statement of the day: If you are making a game for a top-of-the-line computer, at least offer some sort of option so that decent computers can run it and have it look at least as good as something that came out nine years ago (yes, Unreal Tournament 1 looks better than Unreal Tournament 3 does.) Yes, I might have to change some settings on my graphics card, but I should be able to use the options in game to make it look better than it does. All of the components of my computer at least meet the recommended settings on the box, so why can’t I make it look good without doing an incredible amount of fiddling that isn’t even a part of the options that are built into the game? I don’t think I should. I’ve never had to before, so why should I start now. If games still look terrible on the recommended settings, maybe you should increase the specifications given on the box so customers aren’t miffed when they realize it looks like the original DOOM when they bought it three days ago. /end rant

I haven’t played it enough to judge the gameplay, but I’m not sure that I’ll get the chance. I might have to end up giving it to my brother though, as his computer could run it flawlessly. I might just have to find another title to fill that void, which will likely be HL2. While I haven’t checked the specs, it has been out for quite a while, so I figure my computer will be able to run it without too much difficulty. Besides, I really want to give Portal a shot since I’ve read such good reviews about it.

Other gaming news:

I beat Super Mario Galaxy! Well, sort of. You only have to get the first 60 stars before the credits roll, but there are 60 more stars to gain, so I still have a ways to go. This is definitely the best title on the Wii, and I’m very pleased to have it. I’m not going to rush through it, just play a few levels at a time every so often as they only take about 5-10 minutes each, and eventually I’ll get through them all.

I also got Mercury Meltdown Revolution, which in my estimation is a mix between those labyrinth box games (you use the two knobs on the sides to tilt the board and move the ball through the maze) and marble madness. It’s a little fun, but also very short (hence the $20 price tag.) This is another game that is fun to hop into for a quick few levels, but not the best for a 4-5 hour stint.

On the World of Warcraft front, Anaktoria and I left our guild to rejoin some of the members of our pre-BC guild (they basically split in half and relations between the two are, well… not the greatest.) We had heard some things about the other guild that we didn’t really like, and while they are more successful in terms of raiding, our guild has downed four new bosses in just over a week since we’ve joined (by no means are the two related 🙂 ) so I’m convinced that we are in the right guild for us. I haven’t felt better about raiding and my guild in a long time, and it’s a great feeling.

So there is a recap of everything that’s been going on with me on the gaming front over the past couple weeks. I’m sure I’ll have more to offer soon, as I’m just starting to jump back into the blogosphere now that the holidays are behind us for the time being.

Back soon.

~Kanthalos

P.S. Another game that I was really looking forward to when I spotted it was Puzzle Quest for the Wii. I hadn’t tried it yet and I was really hoping to read some excellent reviews, but that wasn’t the case. I’m sure I’ll pick this up eventually, but while money is a bit tight, I’m going to hold off.

Starting Slowly

Well, it’s been a while since I was posting heavily, but I’m really trying to get back into the groove of things.  Currently, I can’t really come up with much to talk about, though I have a feeling things will pick up in the MMO world quite soon.  I’m still playing WoW frequently and I’m looking for a new FPS since I haven’t played one in quite a while.  Unreal Tournament 3 looks like the one I’ll be going with, as I loved the original and it’s gotten pretty strong reviews.  I’d love any comments or feedback on this if anyone is willing to share.