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Technogameballogy

My views on the industry, current games, technology and everything else I want.

Author: Vindicoth

WAR puts the MM back into MMORPG.

Posted by Vindicoth Tuesday August 19 2008 at 3:57PM
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No, this game is not the messiah. No, you will not be happy if you only want to PvE. It will not dethrone WoW and the class that you wanted to play is not in the game (Hammerer, Choppa, Knight of the Blazing Sun, Blackguard).

What this game does do though, it does very well. Warhammer puts the Multi Massive back into the Online Role Playing Games. The moment you leave your newbie town and see 20 completely random people who may not even know each other, working together to complete a common goal, a smile will probably pop up on your face. When you enter a new zone and see that there are 2 Warbands nearby, one PvEing and one RvRing nearby you, each 10 minutes away, and you don't have to beg for an invite, you'll probably " Woah " in disbelief. When you enter your first Battle Camp and see the red swords crossed only minutes away, and the call for help in your local defense channel, you'll feel patriotic and want to defend your control points. When you take control of your first Hell Cannon and launch a barrage of green goo at your enemies in a first person shooter mode, you'll likely shit bricks. Simply put, you will basically be incapable of NOT finding a group.

Keep Sieges, Living Guilds, Open Parties, Public Quests. These are all key words you have all heard before, talked about in videos, rumored innovations that no one has quite seen yet outside of beta. These are all existing in the game. A Living Breathing guild system, that actually levels up with its members. Open parties where YOU look for THEM and join, not the other way around! (Unless you want of course). Public Quests which are continuously happening, allowing even the casual guy to spend 15 minutes for an epic piece of loot if he works hard enough, or hell even gets lucky enough!

The last generation of MMO's we have seen focus on making the game easier for casuals, but this was mostly achieved in a means that made playing your MMO, less Massive. Pick this up here, collect 20 of that there, grind these here. People wanted these things because they wanted to experience an MMO, but not have to put 30 hours a week into being somebody. People didn't want to PvP at low level on their first character, because they weren't leveling if they were!

In Warhammer you WANT to group. You want to RvR in the world, or do a scenario with your real life friends. You go out of your way to help other people with their Public Quests, even if you already have maximum influence for that area, because who knows? You might just be lucky and get the #1 Roll for a bag with a purple item in it you don't have. Maybe you just want the money?

Say what you want about the graphics, or how similar it is to WoW's. How DAoC is a failure in your eyes, or how Darkfall can do it better. I'll be playing Warhammer, enjoying all the hard work that Mythic has put into making this great game, with my friends and also making new ones in this new community experience.

By the way this thread can be opened up for a Q&A session if you want. I'm an Elder tester.

Age of Conan beta is over.. here are my thoughts.

Posted by Vindicoth Thursday May 15 2008 at 9:23PM
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Well I didn't get to play as much as I would have liked throughout the beta, and I only leveled 2 characters to 13 but I'll share my thoughts anyway.

Melee Combat System:

This is the biggest innovation this game makes to MMORPG's. Long gone are the days of sitting there auto attacking while you push mash ability buttons. While there was nothing wrong with the previous versions in past MMO's, this is definitely the next step forward.

Pro's of Combat:The pro's of this system are what make the combat enjoyable. You have to put thought into your attacks to get the most damage from your skills and your items. I feel though that the blocking system doesn't make that big of a difference in PvP. While in PvE you can see your enemies shields and they move them according to where your attacking, PvP is too fast paced right now to make any intelligent adjustments to your own shields unless you are only fighting 1v1, and even so you would have to be absorbing a lot information to do so effectively. Right now I can't see moving your own personal shields making a positive impact. I feel default protection on all sides will be the norm. Active blocking seems to work okay, but you have to anticipate way before the hit because of the lag time between the swing, and when
you actually pull up your shield. It worked very well on my Tempest of Set while I waited for my Heal over Time to tick up my health. I just held down active blocking. I foresee healers using this until a
tank can come pull aggro away.

Con's of Combat:
Gone are the days of you sitting there AFK while you whack on a boss. That's not a problem for me, and probably won't be a problem for some people, but for those of you out there *cough* WoW hunters *cough* that like to go AFK while you fight a boss or a mob with a lot of health, you will be disappointed. Other problems I ran into were animations being messed up while running forward. They just don't look natural at all. It is also very hard to pull off combo's on moving players in PvP. I found that I had to stop moving entirely, hit the combo button, continue running and try to get off the moves all while following the person. Since your weapon actually has to make physical contact with the player character or at least get pretty close, it may be hard to get off these combos.

Graphics:

First off let me start by listing the specs for my computer that ran this game.

Intel Quad Core Q6600 @ 3.4GHZ
2GB DDR2 Ram
eVGA 8800GT 512MB (G92)
Windows XP Pro 32bit
2x 320GB Seagate Barracuda's 7200.10's

First off, the graphics in this game can be very nice, but outside of Tortage I experienced very bad texture popping, low resolution textures that looked worse than EverQuest 1 and very finicky lighting that caused nearby buildings to change brightness randomly on and off as if I were hovering my mouse over them to select them like doors/chests in  World of Warcraft. The first day I played I experienced horrible loading times, horrible stuttering/stalling, and very low FPS all on High Settings. Now while I don't expect the best performance, I did spend a good amount of money on my PC back 6 months ago and I can play any game out there (except Crysis) on the highest settings and easily get 60-100+ FPS. I later found out that enabling Shader 3.0 and having Bloom on would cause a bunch of these problems, so I dropped down to Shader 2.0, turned off bloom and the general problems went away. I continued to have long loading times once I initially entered the game from the character select screen, but between towns and dungeons it wasn't that bad. There was one specific dungeon that took over 5 minutes to load and once I did load in I couldn't move around without the game stalling while loading textures and stuttering while turning around corners.As the beta went on I found performance generally increasing in Tortage, but once the Open Beta PvP event started I found performance dipping down into the low 30's upper 20's FPS even on medium settings with shadows turned to characters only. This problem isn't that wide spread as someone with the exact same spec experienced a bit higher FPS and even people with lower end computers had better performance. The problem isn't just mine as I have seen people with computers that cost $1000's of dollars more than mine have the same performance issues. I hope this is resolved in the retail client.

Character Customization:

Character customization seems pretty standard with a decent range of options. I would like to see more faces for each race, and more skin tones. Anyway here goes.First pick your gender, then your race, then finally your class. Then you take a pick from standard faces, some tattoos, your skin and eye color, and your hair. Some people would settle for that and call it a day and get ready to start, but if you're looking to further your customization you can click on the "Advanced " tabs to get a little more creative. From there though you can customize your characters body build. Theres a triangle from which you can move a slider around for proportions. At the top of the triangle is skinny, to the right is muscular, to the left is heavy. You can move the slider around in between all those to make any combo of stature you like. Also there is a height slider. From there you can even go more advanced and mess with your characters nose, eyebrows, and all sorts of neat little things that may or may not matter to you.

Class selection is pretty good as well. Each race only has so many classes it can be, and it seems that all Mage based classes are restricted to Stygians. There are 4 Archetypes. Soldier; which is your tank classes, Priest; which are your healers, Rogue; which are your melee and ranged DPS and Mage; which are your pure caster classes. Each Archetype has 3 sub-classes that you can choose from.

Soldiers have:
Guardians - The more defensive and lowest DPS of the 3 Soldier archetypes.
Dark Templar - Less defensive oriented than Guardian but has offensive spells and auras. Mid DPS
Conqueror - The highest DPS but the least defensive of the three. That doesn't mean they can't tank, they just do it differently. They have auras they utilize to boost various combat stats.

Priests have:
Priest of Mitra: The main healer, lowest dps.
Bear Shaman: Decent group healer, Melee DPS.
Tempest of Set: Heal over Time based healer it seems, and also caster DPS.

Not sure where the priest DPS classes rank in their respective sub archetypes.

Rogues have:
Barbarians: High AE DPS, multitude of weapons, low armor.
Assassin: High single target dps, can also hit multiple targets, mainly uses 1h weapons like swords and daggers (or just daggers). Also low armor.
Ranger: AE and Single target DPS, also ranged, they seem to be good at doing both types of damage, but not as effective as the other two becuase they're more specialized.

Mages have:
Necromancer: DoT based DPS class with pets. Pets range in strength and also how many you have is based on what strength pets you summon. It makes for interesting combos.
Demonologist: AE and Single target DPS class. Also has a pet but not in abundance like the Necro. It seems to cast spells also. Not sure what other abilities it possesses. Maybe group buffs?
Herald of Xotli: A Melee based mage class with low armor, high damage, and the ability to transform into a demon. While in demon form you have increased health, damage, and absorption of damage I believe. Plus you look cool.

Final thoughts:

I haven't touched on PvP at all because I feel I didn't get a good feel for it during the PvP weekend. You can also find more videos out there yourself better than I can explain. I feel the real PvP will be in the world PvP on the PvP servers and also in the Siege PvP. Overall I think the game has great potential. I feel it's success will be determined based on how well Funcom can stabilize performance and also keep a delicate balance of power between all classes. The last thing we need is everyone to be nerfed, but also we don't need crazy overpowered people running around. Balance is key and Funcom being a veteran of the MMO Genre should have a good idea what to expect out of players. The best sign of balance is when everyone is overpowered but you. I will be buying Age of Conan to see how the game progresses towards the high end portion of the game.

MMORPG Stagnation.. I'm in Limbo.

Posted by Vindicoth Thursday February 7 2008 at 3:05PM
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I think a lot of people like me are in this pool. Let me explain my background. I started playing MMORPGS back in 1998 (Yowsers, I was only 11 years old) and in 1999 I began playing EverQuest. This is where the real addiction happend, I played that until DAoC came about, then I played BOTH. I've been back and forth between EverQuest even to as late as Summer 2007. Anyway.. point is.. I played every Major MMORPG since 1999 on and off atleast for a few months, mostly EQ, DAoC, and WoW holding my interest.

I quit WoW sometime during the summer of 2007 and haven't looked back. I've played Pirates of the Burning Sea & Tabula Rasa and neither of those tickled my fancy. I've been waiting for Warhammer: Age of Reckoning since its announcement and also been keeping an eye on Age of Conan.

If you've noticed a pattern you're right.. with the exception of EQ, I'm drawn to PvP games. PvP is my crack, its my heroin, it gets me high. I get personal pleasure out of knowing the person on the other side of the screen has suffered a minor annoyance because I just destroyed their face. Now at this point some of you may be thinking, wow this guy is crazy, but trust me, I'm not alone. The thing is that feeling doesn't happen when I'm fighting newbs or anyone that doesn't pose an imminent threat to me. The lesser chance I have the more that adrenaline kicks in and the less control I have of the tremors of my hands. So I don't fall into that category of newb gankers and griefers, though I have been known to take over alliance boats and horde zeppelins on occasion just to have some fun.

You're probably saying " Well if you like PvP so much why don't you just play shooters? ". I do, and I own at shooters. The problem with shooters is I RARELY ever find a decent challenge. Lately I've occupied myself with Team Fortress 2 and Call of Duty 4, and sometimes Counter Strike Source but I played that for months and wore off that rush. I'd say that less than 5% of the people out there can run with me. Sound a little arrogant? Yeah.. but unfortunately its true, but I don't think I'm good enough to compete for money or do any of those stupid CAL or CPL matches. I have a core group of RL friends and they are the few that compete with me and when we go on a server we make it so uneven that people end up leaving.

Anyway..  since I don't have that MMORPG PvP fix lately I'm starting to get bored of my newly built bad ass PC. I'm just dying in anticipation of Warhammer RvR or Age of Conan border whatever they have that could end up being cool.

I'm pretty much just rambling but what I want to get to is there hasn't been any NEW and GOOD PvP games released since.. well World of Warcraft.. and some people still don't classify that as GOOD. While it wasn't ideal, I did have fun with it and thats what counts.

I NEED PVP! Please hurry up with WAR/AoC but don't hurry too much if its gonna impact the PvP too much! Thats all.

Why do I keep trying old MMO's?

Posted by Vindicoth Monday January 28 2008 at 3:30PM
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I've been finding myself doing a lot of this lately. I tend to find myself wondering how old MMO's i've played in the past are doing now.. and entirely forget why I quit them in the first place.. but then shortly remember afterwards.

I have tried going back to DAoC.. went back and leveled a Friar to 50 with 2 friends, we made it the entire way with only 3 people. Pretty quickly too, like less than a week.. but we get to 50 and try to do RvR and find it extremely boring.. how dissapointing that was.. I mean I liked the classes and skills and some of the things they added, but I found the lack of people in the frontiers disturbing and how little action there was reminded me of how much fun I had in WoW battlegrounds.

Then I tried going back to EverQuest 1.. I even *gulp* bought platinum. I mean 1,000,000 plat for 20 bucks was hard to resist. Thats all that game was to me anyway was a way for me to get high enough level to farm plat and twink out a character I've always wanted. I went back and tried the new newbie zone.. made some sick twinks.. but in the end it was still just single button press combat with long down time and lots and lots of grinding.

So I tried going back to WoW, this is the one that held me the longest. I went back to WoW several times and had a blast each time. I quit the first time for several months just before Dire Maul came out.. I had a level 60 warlock and was one of the top 5 Warlocks to hit level 60 on Argent Dawn. Anyways I quit because .. well my friends quit and I didnt want to play by myself. We came back after a bunch of changes had gone through, mainly battlegrounds and such, and we made a Druid and Warrior combo. We got to level 60 pretty quickly and quickly became one of the best 2 player combos on the server for our gear bracket. We played maybe 3 or 4 hours a day on the weekdays and sometimes 6-10 hours a day on the weekends. This was a short amount of time considering the last games I've played.


But we got bored of the same boring content.. and.. quit.. again.. and went on to try EverQuest 1 again.. with the same result.. ended up quitting again after buying plat and reaching about level 30..

A couple more months went by and we went back to WoW, this time 2 months before Burning Crusade came out.. got involved more into the raiding scene but casually, trying to gear up for BC. BC came out, we quickly got to level 70 and created our own guild to start raiding. We did good.. but started to feel burned out (being guild leaders is tedious)

We ended up quitting after beating Karazhan and not having much time for Arenas and BG's.
 Our true love still resides in PvP/RvR.

So why do we keep going back to MMO's? I have no desire to go back to any of them before but I do have a desire to try games like EverQuest 2 and some other older MMO's I never did, while waiting for the next best thing, Warhammer Online or Age of Conan.

How often do you go back to old MMO's? 

Revolutionary vs Evolutionary, why both are good.

Posted by Vindicoth Wednesday June 20 2007 at 11:23PM
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First off, I'd like to address the whole why a game must be Revolutionary to be next gen. Many new MMORPGS will be hitting the market within the year, and some are trying the Revolutionary approach, and some the Evolutionary approach. The two most hyped are probably Age of Conan and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning.

Age of Conan is going after the Revolutionary approach, trying new things with combat, spellcasting, graphics engine. It is going with realistic graphics, mature rating, and next gen technology.

 Utilizing Directx 10 as well as Directx 9, the game will have a longer life without having to upgrade the engine.

Age of Conan will be using what they call " Real Combat " engine. It is based on six directions of which you can use your weapon. First, you can hack down against the head. Second, you can slash diagonally down from the right, while the third is slashing the same way from the left. Fourth, you can thrust against the torso. Fifth, you can slash diagonally up from the left, and sixth, you can slash diagonally up from the right. The point here is that these directions lend themselves naturally to being strung together in combinations. These combos unlock additional damage and faster combat, if done well.

The game is trying to achieve the Revolutionary approach by innovating where other companies don't dare go.


Then there is Warhammer Online. Warhammer Online is going toward the Evolutionary approach. EA/Mythic is taking what they've learned from Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft and improving upon it.

I know using World of Warcraft in the same sentence as Warhammer Online is taboo around here, but listen for a moment.

EA/Mythic is taking the mechanics part of the game from WoW and improving, but not the graphics. While many people say that they have similar graphics, its actually quite wrong. They have similar art styles, but not the same type of graphics.

Warhammer Online is going for the click and attack using skills/spells approach. This is a very good system and has worked well for a long time, but they are also improving on it. Also by adding Collision Detection to the game for enemies, this allows strategy to be deployed by bigger, meatier players such as protecting them from charging enemies.

Warhammer's game engine is isn't uitlizing the newest technology, but isn't dated either. Warhammer will allow people across all computer spectrum's to play on decent settings without going to a crawl.


Now this brings me to my point. Even though the games are going for different approaches, there is no reason to say that one approach is better than the other. Thats like saying we shouldn't improve upon current existing CPU technology because it's not Revolutionary, but thats also like saying we shouldn't try to explore better technologies as well. In the end it comes down to implementation, you can have all the Revolutionary or Innovative stuff you want, but if it isn't implemented correctly, Evolutionary could prevail because it's a better foundation.

I applaud both companies for taking equal risk's. It's a risk to be Revolutionary as well as Evolutionary.

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