Returning to Warhammer Online:

It's been two weeks since I started my journey back to my most-enjoyed MMO, so I feel another update is due.

A problem I have with pretty much any game which allows you to dictate the class you play as is that I want to try them all. Warhammer Online has proved to be no different. At the moment I'm playing three characters each of a different MMO archetype. A Black Orc (which is a defensive tanking class), a Choppa (melee DPS), and a Shaman (healer).

At this moment I've just realized that all three of these are Orc classes....

I say they are "Orc classes" because each race has it's own set of classes, which is nice when compared to something like WoW, which has the same small handful spread amongst all it's races. There ends up being 24 classes total, although that number is basically cut in half due to each class having a mirror class on the other faction. Either way, they all feel distinct, even the ones that are basically the same.

I've gotten these three characters into Tier 2, which is when the open world RvR really takes off and introduces the taking of Keeps. However, a lot has changed in my time away from the game. There used to be boss encounters within the Keeps themselves, a Keep Lord and a few other NPCs that you'd have to kill to take the Keep, in addition to holding off the enemy players. Sadly, Keep Lords are a thing of the past and now after the initial struggle of ramming down the door, once you're in you're in.

This leaves it up to the players themselves to defend their Keep, and this occasionally leads to massive battles and pushes with what feels like hundreds of players all fighting for control of this building. When you're victorious, it feels great. When you get denied or if they take your Keep, you feel you've let your faction down. It's something I haven't experienced in many games and I'm surprised the sense of accomplishment these massive fights can bring.

I'm also surprised at how much the community for this game is still so alive. Before I came back I had thought, like many of you probably do, that this game was pretty much dead. Even in the middle Tiers there are plenty of players all getting together and taking down Keep after Keep, which is good news to me since I'm almost out of T2 with one of my characters.

TL,DR: I'm still really enjoying this game, and the community is very much alive.


Returning to Warhammer Online: This is still a game.

I decided to return to Warhammer Online after a significant absence to see how things were holding up. I haven't had this game on my computer in almost 2 years, so I've forgotten pretty much everything about it, other than I really liked it.

After a few hours I'm remembering why I was so into it when it came out.

I recovered my account and was surprised to find 6 characters waiting for me, making me feel bad that I left them to collect virtual dust for so long. The top leveled characters were a Dwarf engineer by the name of Dougar, and an axe-wielding Orc, Gra. Both were level 18, which meant nothing to me because I have no idea what the level cap for this game is/was. I loaded up the Dwarf to find.....a lot of shit I didn't know. I'm assuming the game has had some kind of massive changes, because 3 popups came up to tell me that my various stats/abilities/UI had been reset.

I figured it'd be a bit less overwhelming to start up a new character so I could remember what everything was.

I made a Zealot, which is the healer of the Chaos...race? They're corrupted humans, I'm guessing, since they have a lot of blue and purple fire and crazy ravens everywhere. I start busting around in the starter area and it all starts coming back to me.

Turns out, you right click on things to kill them, then click them again to get money.

Once I got that down I loaded up my higher level Orc character and found myself in a mass of other players, all running together and communicating, organizing, and taking down objectives. I had also forgotten about the whole RvR thing, which is basically standard territory capture on a massive scale. Hundreds of players communicating which objective to go to next, where reinforcements were coming from, and all seeming to have a really fun time.

It was an experience I had almost completely forgotten about, and it's not something I've seen in any other game (especially an MMO).

I'll make another post once I've gotten a bit more comfortable with the controls and mechanics of everything.

If any of you Giant Bomb folks play or feel like dusting off Warhammer and joining me on this MMO rediscovery, feel free.


Picking up the Hammer: A Return to WAR

It is currently Tuesday, June 7th, 3:45 am on the east cost, I am listening to the first bombcast of E3 2011, and I am downloading the Warhammer Online client for the second time.

WAR is one of the few games I've followed extensively throughout it's development. I was in the beta, I played on launch day, and I had a hell of a lot of fun with it. It was an MMO I really enjoyed, which was a first for me. But life continued to happen and a few months later I didn't play it enough to justify spending the money, so I let the account go silent and did other things such as going to college, satisfying women sexually, and building my career with internships and all that fun shit.

Classes are out for summer and I find myself with some downtime on my hands. I still get Warhammer online news letters periodically and I figure while I have the time I'll pay my old MMO friend a visit and see how things are going almost 3 years after launch.

If any of you find folks still play WAR, or have some fond memories and feel like taking the plunge one more time, let me know. I'll be chronicling my return in this series of blogs.

Fuck....I stayed up late for this E3 Bombcast.....


Travels on the Creep Highway (3): Transitioning

In the last few days I have been chronicling my experience with jumping back into Starcraft II after a months long lapse in play, exclusively playing Zerg in order to learn the race I have had the most difficulty playing as. As I have played the Zerg I have learned a lot about how they function, when is the right time to build drones as opposed to make units, and the importance of expanding early and often.  
I have also learned that I really dislike playing as Zerg. No, this is not just because I have lost every match as Zerg since starting this experiment. I've actually had a fair amount fun learning the basics of low-level Zerg play as I get re-acclimated into the mechanics of SCII. It's just....not for me. I give any skillful Zerg player my deepest respects, but the style of play Zerg requires isn't one I feel like I could do at any high level, even if I did stick with it. I need to find a style I can be comfortable with so I'll stick with it and get better. This originated from my desire to relearn SCII so I could become better at it, not take the fun out of playing it.
So, since playing games is supposed to be fun (and I'm enjoying tracking my progress with these posts, both as a motivator and a thing to keep myself occupied in my remaining weeks off) rather than exclusively playing as Zerg I'm going to transition this into a general "Relearning Starcraft" blog.  
I'll be focusing on trying to find styles and strategies which I can take and make my own, trying to stay away from super-popular low-level builds (standard 4-Gate pushes, rushing MMM, etc) to keep things interesting. I'll still be open to taking any advice, tips, builds you want me to try, anything like that. One thing I've learned from playing (and watching copious amounts of Day[9] casts) is that going into a match with a general plan and goals will help me to focus on those things and more directly improve my game, so that's what I'll try to do with these posts: state my plan and goals per match, review my actions and learn how to improve and add variation.
Also, if anyone wants to do some sparring matches, my ID is DrStoked, 659 on the US server.
With that all said and out of the way, here's my plans for my upcoming games: 
I want to try and focus on a zealot and high templar heavy army with a splash of sentries. It's something I've never really tried, I can't even recall a time where I got High Templar in any real capacity. When I used to play Protoss I pretty much did one of two things: rush Void Rays or do a standard Stalker-Zealot-Colossus build without much variation. It was effective, to be sure, but I've seen some pretty interesting results using this mix of units that I'd like to try out. 
If anyone has any advice, ideas for other builds to try, or if you want to test your might against my still-floundering SCII play, post below. 
Keep it classy.


Travels on the Creep Highway (2): Mo Minerals, Mo Problems

This is a blog following my experience with coming back to Starcraft II after a semester's-long absence and diving headfirst into my least-played race, the Zerg
original post

Today I'm going to talk about my first three matches and what I've been able to take away from them, hopefully being the first steps on the path to Zerg mastery (or at least, Zerg adequacy). I'll start by just giving a brief overview of each match, then go into the common trends between them which I feel are the first hurdles I must learn to jump in Zerg play.
Match one placed me against a Protoss on Jungle Basin. I attempted to go a fairly standard 15 Hatch, 14 Pool into Roaches. It's something I've seen Dimaga do recently and it seemed like as good a place as any to start, since he is a straight baller. The Protoss went a standard 3 Gate Robo, pushing with 3 Zealots, a small number of Stalkers and one Immortal for good measure. He pushed, I didn't have enough units, I lost.
Match two was against a Zerg on Jungle Basin (a map I had never played before today, btw). I stuck with the same attempted build as the previous match. My opponent went for a 14 Pool and went in when he had about 20 lings, just as my first handful of roaches finished. Held off the first wave, I tried to make lings to hold them off, but this of course didn't work and I lost. 
Third match, another Zerg, but on Blistering Sands this time. I decided to change the build up: 13 Hatch, 14 Pool going for ling speed and banelings. This actually gave a bit of an advantage when he sent a dozen or so lings to my base and I held it off with ease. I went in for a counter attack, again to surprising success. I crippled his economy, taking out all but 10 of his drones while I was still on 2 bases (with absolutely horrible saturation, but that's a point to make in a bit). He then went all in and made nothing but roaches, sending them right to my base. He ended up winning this game because I supply blocked myself and his roaches overran me.
These three matches were pretty terrible, all things considered (the last one being respectable until my fumble at the end) but they showed the first major hole in my Zerg play: Larva management. I have been doing for an early-expend play, so drones are essential. However, I continually find myself with hundreds of minerals banked and not knowing how to spend it. Do I build more drones? Do I get a Roach Warren or tech to Lair? What about a third expansion or an in-base Hatch? In each match there was a moment of noticing how high my minerals were and fumbling to spend it. When I played Terran the answer to this problem is "Well, build more barracks so you can build more units and spend that money" or "hey, do a push and expand". I find myself making units either too slowly or too rapidly, either situation leading to a lost game. But in the time I'm fumbling with ideas, my larva build up and my opponent catches me with my pants down and I'm done.
Another hole I noticed is that I was making units at times which could have lent themselves greatly to a little harassment, but I didn't act until it was too late. In each game there was a window where if I had pushed out I could have done some serious damage. Learning the timings for Zerg is another thing I'm going to have to get a feel for (unless they start letting Zerg 4-Gate. Then I'm gold)

Here's what I'm thinking for my next round of matches: Holding off on the expansion, using my units, and making sure every larvae is spend wisely. Maybe try some 1-base Roach and expand as I push out like I was used to doing.
I'll do another post tomorrow after I play another round of matches and see if I've learned anything from today. Let me know if you guys have any tips, advice, or if you want to hit me up for a match.
TL;DR: I'm still bad at Zerg, but I'm starting to see why and hopefully can get better.
Keep it classy, y'all. I'll be creepin' it up till next time.

My Travels Down the Creep Highway: Learning Zerg (1)

I have been playing Starcraft II off and on since beta and it's one of those games I really want to be good at. 
More importantly, it's a game I feel i CAN be good at through practice. At the top of my game I was in Platinum and fairly confident in my skills, not Korea-good, but respectable. However, for the last few months I've been up at school where a busy schedule and shitty internet has limited my time with SCII to....well, none since the summer. My skills have deteriorated, my league fallen into silver and my skills fallen into memory. I still watch my favorite casters, but haven't had the time to invest to get back into the game. But I'm off for winter break for the next few weeks and want to get back into the game I have been watching from afar for the last few months. 
During beta I mained Protoss and I gradually became pretty proficient with Terran post-launch. However, for this re-learning of Starcraft I'm going to try something different.
That's right. I'm going Zerg, bitches.
Zerg has always been my favorite race to watch in pro matches, both aesthetically and strategically. The way that race works is super interesting to me, despite the fact that I've never really played it much at all (mostly due to the fact that anytime I tried I felt overwhelmed and just went back to my comfortable Terran or Protoss).
So for the next few weeks I'm going to be playing a lot of SCII, exclusively as Zerg. I'll chronicle each match, what went wrong, what went right, and what I've learned from it on each new entry. 
If anyone has any tips, comments, advice, or wants to join me on this creep-laced journey, post 'em below.
Also, if anyone wants to go for a sparring match to test your mettle against my furious Zerg, I'd be more than up for it.


Left 4 Dead 2: Great zombie game, or the greatest zombie game?

When the first left 4 dead came out I remember playing it on XBOX Live with a couple of friends of mine almost everyday after school for about a month or so. Between vs mode and going through the campaign stuff it was a great time for a while. Then we moved on to other games and I never really played it since.  
Left 4 Dead 2 came out. I was interested but never got around to picking it up until a few weeks ago when it was 7 bucks on steam, in celebration of porting the game to OSX (which is my only computing option currently). So I was stoked and bought it, only to realize I had to upgrade my macbook to run Snow Leopard in order to run it.  
Well, I finally got around to getting an upgrade disk and after installing that I downloaded l4d2 to see if shooting zombies was still fun. 
Turns out it's way more fun than I remember and I've been playing it every chance I've had for the last 2 days. 
I know this is a bit late to the party, but goddamn this is a great game. Icing zombies with both guns and melee weapons is incredibly satisfying, the atmosphere is perfect for getting that classic "oh fuck, it's zombies" feel, and the team itself is growing on me. 
We all remember Brad calling it in his review, and I finally know why that was. This is the best zombie game that I have ever played, both in terms of the gameplay itself and it's ability to create that mood. You know, the mood you get when you're really into a zombie movie, wanting to just reach into the screen and grab a shotgun to finish off the guy who was bitten (he's just gonna turn anyway).  
That feeling of excitement and adrenaline when the tank is on it's way, or when some asshole sets off a car alarm, or when a hunter pounces on you out of nowhere and you catch yourself jumping out of your chair a bit. Playing this with the lights off, a cold drink nearby and my good headphones on has been some of the most fun I've had gaming in a while.
So now that we're a little over a year past its initial launch, how do you guys feel? Is this still the definitive zombie gaming experience, or did you feel it came too late in the zombie craze and you wrote it off as just another zombie game? Or has something else captured the zombie-killing experience better?
Also, if anyone wants to play, just add Dr. Stoked on steam. 


Accepting the Masses

Having grown up with games almost constantly being a part of my life, I feel as if I hold the hobby a bit close to the heart. For as long as I can remember I have been playing games. From my first life in Super Mario Bros. on some Christmas morning of my youth to pumping quarters into a MKII machine at a local skating rink, to earlier this morning where I was playing my friend in Super Street Fighter IV over the internet. 
Clearly, things have come a long way, even in the last 20 years. This has been made really apparent by the release of Blops
I was chatting with my 15-year-old cousin on Facebook earlier today, just saying hi or whatever. She is....well, she is what a typical 15-year-old girl is in America these days: meaning she is entirely submerged in whatever mainstream bullshit is popular these days. So I was really surprised when she told me she had been playing Black Ops all day yesterday.  
She doesn't play games.  
Yet she plays Black Ops, and for some reason this genuinely bothered me. 
It seems anytime anything from our little subculture (God, I hate that term) goes mainstream, I get put off by it. But why? 
Maybe it's because of the whole Activision thing, maybe it's because I've fallen to the "Cool Kid Syndrome" where anything people like I refuse to accept, or maybe it's just from growing up where if you played games all day you were a loser, and now the head cheerleader is headshotting fools in Headquarters and posting "jus p0wned n000bs in CoD. weeeeeeeeerd biatchs" on Facebook (this is not far from an exact quote, heartbreaking as it is).  
I feel very hypocritical in that I'm sure Black Ops is a great game, and I'm planning on picking it up with my next paycheck, but I can't shake this sense of... not wanting to become a part of that side of gaming. The same as the 12-year-old kids on Halo spouting racial slurs and the idiots fighting over which console is better than the other.  
But I will, because I want to play good games, even if it has to be with the other, more obnoxious side of the hobby.  

Tl,DR: People suck, but putting on good music and kicking back in your comfy chair to shoot fools is always a good time.