Jumping into the pool of a variety of MMORPGs to see what they're like & thoughts

I will update this as I go but figured as I'm going back to see some of these MMOs either new to steam or ones I've been in before briefly. As someone who's been playing games & some interest in the structure of these games to see what works & what doesn't work, this is a bit of an experiment to see which ones might appeal to others on GiantBomb & which ones might just not be worth the time.

Wizardry Online

Mage elf in tutorial area of Wizardry Online
Mage elf in tutorial area of Wizardry Online

I'm not a big fan of Japanese RPGs as they all seem to funnel down the same narrow path of what characters might look like or some of the specific mechanical issues but figured this might be interesting with the idea of permadeath in an MMO format called Wizardry Online.

For me the permadeath happened not in the game but with how unwelcoming this MMO is. It seems to have the same format as something thrown together like Phantasy Star Online where it's hub areas will deal with selling goods, repairs, meeting up with a party then going to the dungeon. Once out of the tutorial area I'm glad this was a free game because of the following: the music in the game was about to put me to sleep, the dialogue text speed (as there's no speech on npcs) is slower than watching ice melt in a freezer underwater somewhere in a Siberian lake and the freezer has a nuclear reactor powering it.

The game is free on steam so might grab other people but for me it was an MMO without much fun presented to want to see more. Mage combat gives you a fire arrow & poison cloud to start which is okay to start until things run at you or low on mana then you just have to start stabbing with your weapon. I went with the mage as most MMOs I've seen the fighters are usually the most simple to use & went with the mage to see how it might be more complex classes go but the camping/inn to recover some of your health/mana will take this to a crawl of a pacing that other fantasy MMOs will at least have more progress to it or at least what I like in other MMOs where you are going to see other people in the same maps so if you suddenly need help you can ask or try to do things on your own. Taskbar is quite an odd one as it has a few actions in it like the fire arrow or poison cloud, attack but the the whole upper section of the taskbar is nothing but emotes which is just showing how odd this one feels to me in the design of it.

Granted there were some amusing moments, hitting f12 to take a screenshot because my steam is set to that & really don't use f12, in Wizardry Online this hides the UI & for me also takes screenshots. So it was amusing to take a screenshot & have everything vanish & not find a way back with escape or any other button. Best though is watching one of the painfully written & slow cinematic bits of the npcs explaining the wanted system (where a player stealing or doing bad things in town can be hunted by other players) but during the cinematic one npc said to another to hold down the left shift button. That was priceless but aside from being able to change classes in town giving you a little flexibility, think this is one to avoid unless you want to see some JRPG other than Final Fantasy to see what they do.

While my time in Wizardry Online was rather short to get much of a look at it, between what I saw & one of the two reviews out there on this game ( gamespot review of Wizardry Online ), where it goes into some of the later game stuff of where you might run into criminal happy players killing off other new players or just the rotten idea of paying real money to try to maybe revive your character once you've been defeated just turns me off of this.


Life in the wasteland of Fallen Earth
Life in the wasteland of Fallen Earth

Fallen Earth

Unlike Wizardry Online, this I've played a bit more of Fallen Earth a while back & now that it's up on steam, dived back in over the weekend to see a little more of it. With the new pc & the game running on fairly high settings, it looks pretty good & lot better than some other MMOs with the lighting/texture quality.

Now a fallout themed world where the players are clones & you just have use all your wits to survive sounds good, and for Fallen Earth it's not bad start. While you can go into first person mode & use a scoped rifle, this helps some with the combat but what doesn't help much at all is the idea that you can crouch or go prone with firearms. Once you take one shot at someone that does damage, they most often run to you so best to leave the scoped view & keep firing. There is a melee combat ability but once you press middle mouse button or tab to go to the combat mode, it's a little more tricky to get accurate hits but it's possible.

With this being a complete wasteland, you have to go through crafting trainers to figure out how to build most of your gear which leads to a bit of a carrying nightmare. Once you get all the tool kits for almost a dozen crafting skills (replacing physical crafting stations in the world you have to visit to make things), and just about everything you find tends to be labeled with crafting material, it just adds up as you are not only dealing with a backpack with a certain number of slots but also a weight limit. Good thing that your bank has unlimited weight limits but certain slot issues. There is some variety in what all you can make from melee weapons, guns, armor, medicine, food/drink so you are left with a lot of choices to go through. The main issue for me with it is that fairly early on you do get a horse so you're not having to walk everywhere, problem is that without the available knowledge on feeding the horse, you will find the horse effectively stalls out leaving you to walk for most of the way so the horse aside from running from town to town is not all that great. There are cars & atvs later but I just didn't get to them yet but it'd seem better repairing some tech or refueling it over the horse. Overall for a free MMO, this one isn't bad once you go through the tutorial & get used to some of the controls.


Big change for me with Saints Row series

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Normally I go with in the SR series or any game with a character choice as the badass femme fatale for a lead character when creating a character. In honor of Ryan Davis, went in & made what I think is a decent likeness of Ryan in SR3 on the pc. If there's an import character from SR3 or if not I'll go with this for SR4 to put him in as the lead to see what kind of fun can be had in that game once I get it.

Putting giant bomb, taswell & maybe can search for my name in the SR3 bank of character uploads to find it though I think I switched it to male voice 1 after the upload (was playing with other voices before to figure out what would fit best).

One of many tributes to RTD, cheers Ryan wherever you are & hope you're having fun wherever it is.

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thoughts on Sim City Social

After trying out a bunch of mostly Zynga stuff recently on the social realm of games, I was actually surprised by how well someone else is handling & improving the format of the social town/farm game-thing. Sure both the Farmville/Castleville/ect. & Sim City Social have the introductory quests to get you to filling out the game world, stuff to buy with in game money or real money as well as inviting friends. What I find that aside from capturing a good feel to making a simple Sim City game is that the rather new & different features thrown in with the number of interactions you can do on each type of location (performing a general action & upgrades or quest related actions for chances at collectibles used in upgrades), taking your money/materials made in the game and converting them to the other type but also instead of limiting your actions with friends the game has a ton of good or evil interactions done with friends and these are limited only by the energy pool (and you get separate collectible items & fame from visiting friends over your own city). It's rather interesting that you can build up a friendship or a rivalry with friends & all you can do with the game so while waiting on the new Sim City game (as well as trying out something else other than Zynga games), it's free & recommended to at least look at a bit more to those that are interested as they seem to be on the right track with this social game.

edit-yes while I think it's slightly better than other social games it is just that & will try to make sure ti only spams my page as much as possible


Revisiting Star Trek Online (season5/free to play)

Well got an itch to go back to revisit this after the rather lackluster space combat in Star Wars the Old Republic & stopped playing Star Trek Online a few months after launch for other things going on (with a few characters on each side getting about half way through the ranks). I was excessively surprised to see a lot of these changes in the latest update to the game & putting this blog together of some of the newer things for others like me who are curious to see some of the new things going on from a perspective of one of the average people playing it. Now as I've missed a lot of content additions since the launch of the game, some of this might not be that new but interesting to see.

  • Starting off with the Ship interiors, yes they've added some additions to the ship. You don't seem to get full roam of the ship but there's usually 3 decks to visit: the bridge with ready room, engineering & a middle deck with a few rooms for the crew (galley & observation room). There are trophies & ships you can put in these areas to make them more customizable (seen below with both the Federation & Klingon sides). Klingon (3rd image) shows off the trophy ship mounted on the wall & along with the trophy from winning a recent mission ending with a bat'leth tournament.
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  • And speaking of the Klingon's there's a bit more there finally & still wanting to start another character from the beginning to see more of how this side now starts off along with stuff added to the Federation home world of Earth. Some historical quests/information that you can get by wandering around here along with daily quests. Plus more use of the holodecks.
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  • Duty officers are similar to the system setup in Star Wars the Old Republic of sending crew off on specific missions to collect things. A rather recent change from the look of it is that many missions now have an additional reward going to an assortment of skills (ie. diplomacy, espionage, colonization, ect.) to unlock different things from uniforms, titles, abilities, missions & more. Now the duty officers related missions are going to be a mixed bunch as they change from sector to sector, some have a higher cost than others including the possibility of the crew you're sending off dying in the process. Don't worry as you can always get a mission in this menu to get more duty officers but you probably lose the progress made with the ones that died, good thing that most have not a lot of threat on them. These duty officer missions give a bit more to each of the duty officer category skills along with other rewards but the catch is that the missions have a critical success, success & failure conditions tied to them so depending on the duty officers you have, you can get better or worse results depending on who you pick (which hopefully the images show this well enough) as their skills will show the overall percentage of the possible outcome. Duty officers also have slight perks to normal space or ground combat, with dozens of duty officers to pick from there's quite a lot of variety to pick from.
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  • Crafting & resources. Well the crafting materials are about the same as the launch though I vaguely remember there being much of a crafting system setup in the launch. Though now when you find a resource, matching the wave pattern will reap better rewards though if you mess it up you will still get something. And with the proper materials & some plans you can make uncommon/rare loot or how about a horta?
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  • C-store has some interesting in-game items including a ton of outfits, pets & other things like more character slots, extra inventory & other things. Fairly standard for a Cryptic game but now with the daily missions or duty officer missions you can get dilithium for converting to in-game currency to do more than just paying a microtransaction in addition to possible subscription. Also found out that with many of the dress/casual uniforms locked away behind a microtransaction to unlock it on all characters on the account that my Federation character has a casual outfit that cannot seem to be rebuilt with what's there now so those going back to the game like I did might want to stay away from playing around with the tailoring feature too much.
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  • Not shown in here & briefly looked at are the community made missions, which to me can go really good or really bad though it seems the rewards are more xp & skill points than anything else to keep people from just making easy missions to farm resources.

Hope this is informative & happy travels in space with whatever franchise/game you pick.

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Thoughts after Gearbox Community Day/DN Forever realease party

First off I'm glad for once at being in the D/FW area for things like Quakecon & now this event from Gearbox. The Gearbox Community day did seem thrown together rather quickly esp. with E3 being done with a day or two beforehand so there were some people at the event who just came back from E3 not too long ago but met some interesting people in line while waiting. Thankfully the Gearbox crew did delay the panels & other things going on so the sudden wait outside didn't screw everyone over once they got in. The Community Day events had panels on the various Gearbox Software games (Borderlands, Brothers in Arms, Aliens Colonial Marines & now Duke Nukem Forever), panels were short yet informative as the developers told tons of info as well as handling questions though each game/franchise had only about an hour. It was interesting to hear more about Borderlands & seeing some fans showing up dressed up as Moxxie & Lilith along with CJ dressed up as one of the psycho midgets and the lucky couple who are going to get married later this year thanks to the proposal presented by Claptrap. The Brothers in Arms focused on the over the top tall tale spawned challenge from Ubisoft (Furious 4) which looks insanely fun while hearing more about original franchise not coming to an end. Aliens Colonial Marines looks good so far but it's too early to know more about it. 
I found that Randy Pitchford to have quite a contagious amount of enthusiasm for the game industry & it was quite enjoyable to just listen to hear more thoughts & other things from him. Glad to see that the humor glimpsed at from some of the PR videos done with Randy in it (like the one from the delay of DNF in May) is quite genuine as his candid speaking on many of the panels was funny as well as informative. If I'm going to be stuck in NE Texas for  awhile I'd really want to work for Gearbox now as the environment & crew there seem quite enjoyable to work with.
The Duke Nukem Forever panel, which I hope was taped & going up online soon, had some incredible moments of it as the team there talked some about the history of the development as well as some of the many challenges to overcome. Also John St. John was there & it was great to hear his voice as well as some of the people on the panel talking about some of their favorite moments from the new & old games. 
As for the release party, initial music from the band doing the music in DNF as well as the girls from Coyote Ugly (who did a lot of burlesque themed pieces) were quite entertaining. Loved hearing the main theme from DN3D (might also be in DNF) played by the opening band though I was sad to see that they weren't on stage that long after finally getting inside. Primary reason for the sadness was mostly due to the next two groups being rather lackluster. Crystal Method might make some good music in a recording booth & have that music working great in movies or driving games, but seeing them live was boring & unimpressive. They didn't do much for interacting with the crowd as there were the pair of them pretty much manning an elaborate DJ booth & trading off who was at the controls. Maybe I'm used to going to a concert to see musicians play their music live, good example is when one of the Crystal Method team putting on a hoddie & turning a knob on the DJ station, that's it. Frankly they could have prerecorded all the music beforehand as it's impossible to tell when they were done with one song, messed up on a song or anything else. Crystal Method were pretty much like any other DJ I've seen at a club, just standing around playing with the controls for hours. Lastly (amid being intermixed with fun moments with Randy Pitchford or a couple more songs from the girls of Coyote Ugly), was DJ Jazzy Jeff, yes him. While I don't have any interest in rap & hip/hop, again seeing the same issue of someone standing up on stage flipping between songs in such a blended way that messing up a song or sticking on one song is quite impossible at least had one better thing going for it, the man on the microphone (Skillz), who at least proved to me that he at least knew that while up on a stage for an event like this to interact with the crowd & showing some interest in the crowd of people near the stage and using this to get them more immersed in the music playing. 
PS-hate the camera in my phone & slightly kicking myself for deciding to not take the small digital camera (as the waiver had big text on not taking photos for some of the event as they will just go after you legally for $100k), had I know it was only two moments in the Community Day I would have at least brought the camera aside from the cheapy on my phone to get some decent pics.


Impressions/TwoWorlds2 tips

After playing through the first one & a bulk of the second one (as I rented it I've had to learn a lot through gameplay alone) so here's some tips for the people new to this generic yet ambitious action-rpg. It's like Oblivion with a bit more depth & open world crazy jank (mostly seen so far where things will follow you a limited distance & run back to attack again or forget you, creatures spawning on trees or other high spots to shoot at, things stuck in the world making them easy targets, ect.). I guess after playing through as much as I've done, I'm surprised on the amount of depth to it all between the whole world, the crazy crafting system of upgrading a simple weapon into being crazy dangerous, limitless alchemy system so while the game is a bit silly at times or generic, it is entertaining in many places & better than many other RPGs that hit that middle ground of not being awesome yet not hopelessly broken. So give it a try & if so the things below might save you some time on figuring things out.

  • Firstly, the rogue kinda sucks in this game sad to say. Regardless of the armor set you tend to use, max out the lockpicking as 99.3% of the containers in the game are locked. Archery is useful occasionally in the early parts of the game but overall I stuck with a mix of 70% summoning mage & 30% melee.  Trying to steal from people is the worst minigame I've seen in a while that after maxing out the skill I still can't quite get the handle on. Granted not seeing too many people distracted in the game so best to just sink those points in various magic/melee/crafting/general skills. You get the trap setting ability near the end of chapter1 & haven't found much use for it. If going for the achievement though, you should have some blade traps on you that you can use at rank1 along with some mummies nearby. Just set the trap, let the mummies run into the trap setting it off & collect while running around the room. Takes a little while but after that I just sell off most of the traps I find.
  • Better summoning elements: power (giant scorpion), stone (stone golem), decay (death knight-favorite for me), poison (skeleton warrior-also favorite). The main reason I picked these is I tend to like necromancy for wizards in other games & tends to work well. Here these summoned creatures will either block just about anything getting to you due to sheer size or with the skeletons/knights will just pummel whatever senseless leaving you to shoot at with homing magic bolts.
  • About halfway through I tend to bounce one element bolt (no ricochet or spray btw as it takes up too much mana) & one poison bolt. Putting enough into willpower will get the regen up high enough that it's not hard to constantly shoot magic bolts at something for a while then take a break by resummoning things to get a steady stream of damage. A bulk of what I've run into so far isn't immune to poison and then it tends to be able to be hit with fire/shock/cold okay. 
  • Upgrading spells, this is not really explained well for me so it took a while to realize that I could open the spell & add the element or main factor (homing bolt/summon/trap/ect.) multiple times to ramp up the effect. 
  • Early on the armor you find from merchants is pretty costly, best to just break everything down in it's components & pick a few things to upgrade through metallurgy (another skill to max out). If you go online for the bonus items (like the dragon armor or the legion axe) in the password section herewhich won't screw up achievements unlike the codes above). Also if you decide to use the password bonus items, be sure to wait to enter them in once you get the first place you can stay & store your things as you can't really use them in the tutorial section and will just take up room on inventory.  
  • Music, yes it's like guitar hero on a track highway. Plus there's multiple instruments to go with & found one quest that requires to play a bit of music in them. Well this is a crazy mechanic, maybe because I started with the drum to see what it was going to do in the game which was easy to do with it's slow & steady rate. Try another instrument & OMG it gets crazy (using the triggers & bumpers on the controller for the 4 different notes), you can somehow get money from this but I tend to find musicians out on their own or it's the middle of night when nobody is around. It's easier making money by breaking open locks or selling off the stuff you find.
  • Feel free to go crazy with potion making & crafting weapons, sometimes you will get skill points for killing a set number of monsters but also for crafting potions & improving your gear so go nuts with it as I've not found a way yet to determine when you will get those skill points but there's a few skills which make the game a bit easier to deal with.
  • Lockpicking can get the attention of the guards in the game if you are in town & trying to get into a house, or if in a building & picking a lock with someone nearby you will get a stern reminder of what you're doing or in a few cases where they didn't record the dialogue, a stern look. Crazy though if the person can't see you, is far enough away, if you pick the lock then they show up you can still loot the container without them being a problem. Contrary to this, if you see a potion or skill book out in the open you can pick it up without any problem either. 
  • On skillbooks, if selling the extra ones you find, once you get the home in hatmandor there's a vendor a few steps from the front door that buys them for about 1k each in the currency of the game (it's a silly thing I can't remember but it's the easiest vendor to find that does buy them for a good price). Buying them, as they are your special skills in the game, aside from buying one early on (necromancy) the rest have all been fairly easy to find & spread out so as they tend to cost a lot early on it's best to save the money for other things (as the house is quite a lot of money to buy but there's tons of locked containers full of loot inside to sell off or break down for raw components). So buy the house early on once you get there. 
  • Outside the slum area of Hatmandor is a person I met earlier on in the game who is building up something in the game & needing money. Investing in whatever he needs will give you lots more money later as well as special armor & other things, by this time too I didn't really have much use for money so had enough to spare. Most of the money I have lately goes to either buying lockpicks or magic/modifier cards as everything else I tend to find out in the wild from enemies or chests.
  • Way to get farther in the game early on (just beware though as when you die in the game it's time to load something up & in some areas, I spent a while in some spots with summoning the undead army on one guy & shooting them with poison/fire which took a damn long time). From one of the guild quests you go into a home to beat up a bunch of things in a basement (believe they are angry tough fish humanoids), but killing them will give you an ingredient in alchemy for making water walking potions. From the starting island if you ignore the one large island with the solitary castle/tower (close to that small island) & looking at the map you can effectively get to the Asian themed island in chapter2 (which is the other large island northwest of the prime landmass where most of the starting adventure is going on with chapter1). You can probably find a path to a shoreline from the chapter1 island to the chapter2 island quicker but as I wasn't sure what to expect I wound up taking the long route & after running through some of the other small islands, there's really not much anywhere else I've found so far aside from the chapter1 island & the chapter2 island to at least find vendors/teleporters & safe havens. Note on chapter2 island, the town is on the lower west side of the island, you can see the roads on the unexplored map decently enough to shoot for that, the rest of the island is pretty wild with higher level things in it.
  • Melee: as I progressed more to this from magic if one on one against something that probably won't kill me that easily plus it took less time than shooting it as the undead army after a while was more of a wall & less killing force. If you make enough healing potions, you can generally take on quite a lot with either two-handed weapon maxed up with metallurgy or one sword/axe & one mace (both 1-handed). If you put enough into the ability to knock things down & critical attacks, you can take out a lot of the enemies in the game. Just be prepared to keep on hand a good 2-handed axe/sword & a mace, same with one handed things. So far I've lots track of the skeletons I've run into in some tombs & other places. So the mace works well here against them, just look at the icons under the names to see what not to use against what you're fighting. Sometimes it's a little experimentation on finding out what does more damage. When fighting the cats especially along with some other wild animals they tend to run off & run back to attack. Best to just block then hit as they are running to you. Melee I'm finally getting figured out though it seems to take forever as you or they will be blocking quite a lot so best to just keep swinging & use special attacks. 
Might add more to this as I keep going through this game & hope it helps whoever reads it as there's lots in this game but there's plenty that's not really designed well (or explained well). Experiment with the potions, spells & weapons and as long as you don't set your expectations too high, there's a decent amount of gameplay in this.
Edit-After burning through the game (single player), here's some final tips:
  • Sorry can't give any tips on finding the boat to get to act2 island, did find the boat on the act2 island but never used it by that time I had teleporters (natural or personal) going to each island so the boat seemed silly to use more of it but it's a neat thing to have in a game like this.
  • Funniest thing in the game is that there's some quests, like killing cyclopes on the beach, where if you use lots of stone golem summoned creatures to put a wall between you & them. While fighting on the beach the cyclops was up on a rock on the shore, the stone golems were hitting it & either knocked it a few steps back or the cyclops took a few steps back. Once it fell in the deeper water, the thing which is 20' tall, couldn't swim & died instantly. Saved me a lot of time fighting the cyclopes when they never learned to swim.

  • For the end I'll not spoil it but in the game you find a lot of mummies, who's brains are part in an alchemy formula for resurrection potions, this along with a good stock of potions (healing, mana, resistances) might be enough to finish the single player but you might also need to make use of the black knight's sword (2-handed from a quest blatantly copying the 3rd Indiana Jones film) & the 2-handed mace thing from the 2nd in command of the emperor (can't miss it but it's quite good). I mainly offer this info as you will get to the end fight & you will be unable to save anytime during it so if you get killed you will have start the whole thing over. Also not quite sure how anyone specializing in magic or archery can get through the last fight as there's not a lot of room to move. GLHB!

free ms points on XBL Marketplace in Feb 2011

Not sure if it's part of some reward program or hey look at what we're doing thingy. While I enjoy getting free MS points from Microsoft, have to say I was puzzled with it being only 80. Having nothing else in the bank to put it towards, I found that after the initial idea of putting it in the apparently dead Game Room or trying to figure out the gamer pics at that price range, I find that the idea of getting something for the avatar is probably more sensible as well as hell of easier to search through. Glad I went with that pick as I found that despite all the UK themed items being slightly higher than other things in the same catagory (glaring at the hat catagory mostly where some festive hats from around the world were 80 points until I looked at the ones I liked to find them to be 160). So anyone else in this boat I can at least assure you, go to the xbox site & you should be able to find some variety in the shirts & hats as well as a few props if stuck with just 80 MS points.


A Brumalian Wish for the holidays

"A Brumalian Wish"
by  H.P. Lovecraft 

From the damnable shadows of madness,
From the corpse-ridden hollow of Weir,
Comes a horrible message of gladness,
And a ghost-guided poem of cheer -
And a gloom-spouting pupil of Poe sends the pleasantest wish of the year! 

May the ghouls of the neighboring regions,
And the curséd necrophagous things,
Lay aside their dark habits in legions,
For the bliss that Brumalia brings -
And may Druids innum’rable bless thee, as they dance on the moor’s fairy-rings! 

So, Galba, may pleasures attend thee
Thro’ all thy bright glorious days;
May the world and the mighty commend thee,
And the cosmos resound with thy praise -
And may all future ages be brilliant with the light of thine intellect’s rays!    


Interesting moments seen in Fallout Vegas

Will be updating this as playing it, with the perk of the wild west taken things should get rather bizarre.  
*on way to a town for fixing the bot companion, ran into some wandering traders going the same way. Started to follow them until running into a conflict of NCR & the Legion fighting it out. Looted the losers since I was neutral/friendly with both sides, sold just about all of the legion stuff (who lost) to the wandering merchants. Then a short time later the 1 mercenary with the wandering traders was killed by a wild dog, looted & sold that person's stuff also. Then the wandering traders died at the hands of the legion still wandering around so after looting those corpses I was quite well off at least for a level6 wanderer.