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Spouse Aggro!

I blog at www.spouseaggro.com, write for www.ablegamers.com, run www.mmovoices.ning.com and post all over the net. HOWDY!

Author: beauturkey

Still waffling on which land is my favorite.

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday June 30 2009 at 11:23AM
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Vanguard has beautiful landscapes, for sure.

Are they a little empty at times? Yes. But there is enough to explore that you find plenty to do on any of the three land-masses. Ruins, wandering monsters, little caves poked in the side of hills here and there. I have walked/rode/sailed pretty much over all the landscapes, even within some areas that I had no business going into (thankfully I don't do perma-death anymore.)

And as I move along, I still can't decide which land I like best, which land makes me feel at home the best.

I enjoy Thestra for it's trees, and the fact that it feels the closest to something I am familiar with, and so feels a little more "modern", if that makes sense. I have seen lands that look like Thestra in real life, in the forests of Virginia or the mountains of Tennessee. I like the snow-covered area the best, and especially enjoy the area of the giants. I spent many levels there, and many days of just running around looking at the massive columns and architecture.

thestra

But then, there is the place I was born: Kojan. Now, let's be honest. All that Asian architecture and kung-fu grip stuff is NOT my bag, baby. At first I thought "Oh my God, they are going to make me go play around with elves and wanna-be Bruce Lee NPC's!" But, I gave it a while. I let it soak in. Not only is Kojan probably the most diverse area, but all of that variety comes in the smallest package.

I went from Elf cities to great mountains to beautiful magical floating towns. It's all there, and let's you get a real feeling for the HEIGHT of Vanguard, more than the SIZE. I love the area now, and after playing my Goblin monk (especially in her wicked starting quests) I really enjoy the whole "kung-fu" vibe. It's nice to see something different in a MMO, and it really does make you feel as though your character is growing very powerful as you level.

Kojan is perfect for exploring on a flying mount, something I rarely did with Rikoo. Not only was he afraid of heights, but I didn't allow myself to use flying mounts during "Immersion" play. I flew around like a kite on my goblin, and loved what I saw:

wildgrowth

Qalia is the "desert" land-mass. Like all the land masses, you have to spend some time in it to really get a feel of what the developers were going for. Everything seems connected together: you go from the starting area down a GIANT hill to Khal, the major city in the land. ( I remember seeing Khal for the first time, from the edge of the newbie starting city, and was blown away at how it looked. ) Then you move on from there to QA Riverbank, and on from there. Even if you do not follow quest-lines that send you to certain areas, the flow of the lands is enough to always guarantee that you will find something cool.

qalia

So, I cannot decide. I am bad at decisions, anyway, but especially when around the corner is something else shiny.

A few gripes, though:

1) Passing through invisible server lines is STILL an issue. They are aware of it, but I know that it is just not high on the priority list. On a boat, it is even more annoying.

2) All the land masses are linked together only using giant teleport gates. Technically, Vanguard is NOT seamless, it's just that the 3 major zones are GIANT.

3) The public ferry system is still broken. It has been talked about in so many ways and so many times, that I am still not clear on if they have been fixed or not. I know for a fact that the question of the ferries has been answered (Hell, answered on my show probably) but my memory is short. Either way, I want them back. New players or players that play like me would LOVE to have those boats back. Traveling by boat is one of the biggest joys of the game.

I am leaning towards Thestra, but then I travel to the other lands and fall in live with them all over again.

Honestly, though, that's not a bad position to be in.

Beau

A community timeline for games you simply MUST TRY.

Posted by beauturkey Sunday June 28 2009 at 9:37AM
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Out of curiousity, I decided to sit down to write a very basic time-line that shows my involvement in two of my favorite games' communities: Ryzom and Vanguard. People have asked some questions in the past about what happened where, so for them I want to finally answer some of those questions.

First of all, let me readily admit that I prefer smaller communities over large ones. The reasons should be obvious, and have something to do with the fact that I want people to hear me. I have a huge ego and need constant stroking of that ego or I will just die. Die.

Seriously, I would rather be a slightly-larger-than-tiny fish in a tiny pond rather than a tiny fish in a huge pond.

First of all, to Ryzom. You must go get this trial (21 days of free, unrestricted play) and give it a whirl. It will make you question why in the Hell more MMO's feel SO DEAD. Ryzom is based on a living planet, with all items being crafted (that also rot...ALL items) and with MOB A.I./ weather systems that include migration, seasonal changes and many other wicked cool things. http://www.ryzom.com/en/

banner_14

Here is a basic time-line of my involvement there. Remember that this was something like three years ago, and although most of the old 'casts are still on here, I am re-organizing them. (HERE is the first Ryzom podcast! HOW CUTE! The rest of them can be found on spouseaggro.com in the categories.)

1) Start to play the game, love it. Love my funny hair style.

2) Decide to start a Ryzom podcast. My wife laughs (which is funny being that she has a much larger podcast now.)

3) Start to cover the game, and love doing it. Get a crazy German co-host named Mad Sam. He rules. He is actually a lot like my future co-host Luper, in the way that he is really good at playing certain parts of the game, and likes role-play.

4) Things start to get weird. Players start to "accuse" me of being for the Karavan, one of the two factions in the game. The guild I was in at the time leaned towards Karavan.

5) People got more serious about me being "Karavan." I told them I wasn't, I was neutral, and did not care to partake in religions, especially make-believe ones.

6) This is where it gets a little fuzzy, and would need more research. Around this time the game started to have it's infamous financial troubles.

7) I decided to stop doing the podcast because things got WAY too serious for a videogame, and because the game was in a state of flux. I moved on to many other games, as always.

Ryzom is now in the best state it's ever been in, and more solid than ever. I think that these new developers are (some of them) from the original team that worked on the game. Try it out, and you will see what I mean when I say that they really have an eye for originality.

vannue4

Next up, Vanguard. Bear in mind that during all of this time I am blogging, playing every game out there and playing in bands. I always have a lot on my plate, so adding another podcast was a little iffy.

1) Start by adding segments to the "Voyages of Vanguard" podcast, as well as the EQ2 podcast, both hosted by the fantastic Troy and Karen.

2) Eventually, both podcasts started to fade, and I asked Troy if he would like me to take over VoV. He said yes.

3) I started it, and had fun, but missed a co-host. Luper messaged me asking if she could help.

4) Luper works out fantastically, but again, I am paired with someone that knows WAY more than me, and plays the game enough to have 15 level 50'S!

5) I decide to run with the "schtick", her being the straight man and me being the pie-thrower. It works, until most of the questions we start to get for the dev's involve raiding, high-end crafting, raiding, high-level grouping, raiding, class fixes and raiding. There were quite a few non-"high level" questions, but during dev interviews/discussion, these high-end questions always came back up.

6) I would like to point out that this is all due to the fantastic dev team, and mainly Ellyra. She was, and still is, the best community manager I have ever dealt with. She was responsive, funny, and did what she would tell you she would do. Before her, I thought all community managers were these slow-responders, these mysterious beings that MIGHT get back to you. Then I just message her and she responds, and that's where it started. I did nothing special, only she did. This is why I tell the community to ASK, in a nice way, and be patient. Get involved, and the response will come. Since her, community managers have continue to be elusive and mysterious. Busy, probably, but more than likely they are just aware of my loudmouth.

7) At one point, I wanted to do an interview solely for the purpose of asking "creative" based questions, to get to the bottom of the creative process in the gaming industry. I love that stuff, as do (hopefully) many of you. I told Luper I wanted to ask about the developers gaming habits and creative process, and she indicated that no one would be interested in that. She was right, for the most part, and players that are not interested in that stuff are still around. In example, here is a comment left on Brad McQuaid's blog:

"I don't really care what kind of music you like, what your favorite color is or how many times a day you light a candle, put some music on and step into the bathroom for some alone time. Talk bout Vanguard, or what you'll be doing next.  Save this 'New Dream Theater' stuff for people who care about you as human. To us you are just a thing that will deliver us a game."

These are the people that are the reason I hate gaming communities sometimes.

8) I realize that the podcast is getting into areas I don't care to talk about, so I start to think of branching off into other games, or to make a strong point for talking about the non-high-end stuff in Vanguard. I feel bad for Luper, being that she really knows her stuff. I am an airhead, and she deserved a co-host that cared about the high end. Still, she is a great over-all co-host, role-player and friend. Plus, boys (and some girls) like listening to her voice.

9) Luper gets hired in San Diego. While she says she might have time to do the podcast, I didn't want to bother her with my little project. I did think that she should have taken over doing a VG podcast, but her job situation might not let her. No, she did not go to Larper Camp. Yet.

10) I decide to use Lupers absence as a chance to finally do a podcast like I wanted, one about anything I wish, game-wise. And here we are.

Granted, this whole time I am keeping a blog, playing with my bands and doing art. I wish I could settle on one project, but my mind doesn't work that way. Even my very sentences can sometimes meander between thoughts, so you can imagine what my hobby life must be like. Essentially, I want to be able to go as fast as I can.

Now, as to Vanguard and it's future: it is, as was in the past, NOT GOING ANYWHERE. At Fan Faire it was talked about MxO having 1200 subs. VG has more. As long as we can stay above that number, it is believed that we are safe. That is the reason I try to get the word out about the game. My job is not to whine about bugs, I report them and move on. I don't whine about SOE, that's like whining about some foreign dictator or the electric company. I am simply someone that wants you to play the games I like.

Vanguard is also in the best state it's ever been in. While you are trying Ryzom, go try Vanguard as well. Despite what you have heard about the size of the game, the trial is a quick 2 gig download, and the rest will download over night should you decide to sub.

I am not going to discuss why some games do better than others. I think it is a variety of factors, but mostly due to being the right game, released the right way, at the right time.

The point is that these games ARE fantastic, now,  and should be played. If you like MMO's, and have not tried them, try them now. Trust me. I would very interested in hearing anyone's comments on what they thought, and why the game worked/didn't work for them.

Any other questions, email me.

And thanks for reading.

Beau Turkey



Join me for my Live Blog tonight!

Posted by beauturkey Saturday June 27 2009 at 8:41AM
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 I will be discussing "Lower Levels: do they mean something?"

 7PM Central.

 Join in the chat at the "show page" which can be found in the menu. Enjoy! 

 http://www.spouseaggro.com

 Beau

 

 

My man on da ground talks new SWG stuff! Live from Fan Faire!

Posted by beauturkey Friday June 26 2009 at 5:13PM
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http://www.spouseaggro.com

 Any questions, Twitter me at spouseaggro!

 Thanks to mmorpg.com for not taking down my links! :)

 

 

Beau

Streaming live from Fan Faire in one hour!

Posted by beauturkey Friday June 26 2009 at 5:08PM
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 Starting with the Vanguard Panel..followed by who knows what? Then on to tomorrow!

 http://www.spouseaggro.com

 

 Beau

 

 

Streaming Live from fan Faire!

Posted by beauturkey Friday June 26 2009 at 1:06PM
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 If I can arrange it in time A( i had to mess with settings a whole bunch) I will stream some of the Vanguard panels, and hopefully others, live from my website!

 http://www.spouseaggro.com

 

 Beau

 

Oh, these forgotten people.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday June 25 2009 at 10:37PM
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There's something funny about playing these MMO's. Something strange in the way you just log in with a name and password and you can instantly text, video and voice chat with people from all over the world.

It never ceases to amaze me.

And the more people I meet, the more I like meeting people. On the day of my death I hope to have my funeral (well, the spreading of my ashes) beamed across screens all over the galaxy, directly into the virtual living rooms of friends from afar. But, I do have a confession.

I don't remember all my friends. Well, I should say that I do not remember everyone that I have met.

ryzomtower1
Before!

Most human beings don't remember everyone they meet, either. But I am talking about the people that I have met through the last 10 years of gaming, and even though that's a Helluva lot of people, you would think I would remember more of them. But I don't. Granted, there are fantastic people I have met and still consider good friends, and still have relationships with. But once in a while I will get a small sense of deja-vu, or a bit of nostalgia for some reason (a commercial? a segment of music?) and I will suddenly remember someone that I had met, or some place I had virtually been.

The other day I suddenly remembered, in vivid detail, playing the game Earth and Beyond. Trying to remember what I remembered at this moment is hard, and in fact it feels like it does when you wake up from a dream that only moments before you were ALIVE in, one of those dreams that you could have never woke up from again, and would have never known. But, when you wake up, the details fade so fast that all you can remember is that you just did something very cool and very real.

I can still almost see the ship I flew, but mainly I remember the steering, the flipping over and dog fighting. If I am not mistaken, this wasn' t so long ago and the graphics could not have been that great. Here, let me google something real fast. Here we go:

Hmm, cool...doesn't look so bad after all. And looks like it shut down in '04. 6 years ago. I also have strong memories of flying on a planet..shooting at mobs? But I also remember meeting someone that showed me the ropes. We must have talked quite a bit, but now I can't even remember their name.

And I remember Shadowbane, which seemed like forever ago.

You would click to run I thought, and I would always rotate my camera around in a paranoid fashion. Of all the time I put into that game, I can only remember running by buildings on fire and thinking that it was kind of silly looking.

Also, sometime during our stint with City of Heroes (we still play it off and on), I remember a woman that favored the ice/fire tank and, although she started out very cool, later turned into one of these players that constantly reminds you that either she thinks you should THIS or that you should be doing THAT. I just couldn't stand her, and we stopped hanging around her pretty quickly after she changed into some kind of MMO know-it-all.

Strange, how many people I have possibly met in just the last 10 years.

And I remember the first time I tried Ryzom. Not only could my PC not handle it, but it looked damn awful, too. I mean, WINDMILLS? But now I know how pretty the game is and how incredible the community is. There are players in that community that I have now played with for 2 and a half years. And recently, during this Tower Live Event, I have made even more friends. They are generally the most mature community I have ever met, besides the community inside the Vanguard game.

After!
After!

While I know for a fact that I will not remember them all, there are so many in that community that will always be frozen in my mind as 2 inch tall digital people. Some of them I have never seen a picture of, and I have this very distinct picture of them inside my head.

And they have shown me during this last event that they can work together so wonderfully..a dozen or so of us hung out until that tower was built, talking and goofing off until it popped into existence. I had to go to the store and walk the dogs, and they stayed. It was nice.

Anyway, think back to some of your old guilds. I bet if you relax and let your mind unfold some of those old memories you might be surprised at who you have forgotten.

Beau

Station Launcher: A lesson in teasing.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday June 25 2009 at 11:10AM
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I exist in a world of images, sounds, smells...all spinning through my head at a million miles per hour. A while ago I decided to get comfortable with admitting that I feel this way all the time, after deciding that it wasn't some kind of A.D.D. or other "disorder. It is just who I am and how I feel. Frankly, I like all the energy I have but I wonder how much of it blocks me from getting anything done. It really is a struggle to organize my projects sometimes, but this blog and the podcasts really help.

So, things get by me, is what I am trying to say. I might not read, in depth, a page of patch notes, but I will skim off what I need and break it down in small bits. The worst thing about a lot of comments, for example, is that each one needs to be read and thought about. Frankly, all this text gives me such a headache that I can only read a small amount before I die. Just die.

Notice the nice, soft colors of the text here on Spouse Aggro. That's due to my wonderful wife and co-host, Leala. She knows that something like MMORPG.com's HORRIBLE black and white theme is not only hard on the eyes but on the taste as well.

Anyway, to the point: I recieved, heard about or caught whiff of (I can't remember which) tale of the new Station Launcher finally arriving with voice. Great! I thought, but soon after realized that, even though it was claiming to be "out of beta," the Station launcher is far, far from perfect.

Let's quote from the official forums:

"

Sometimes our updates didn’t work right the first time, but you were diligent in telling us about it. And we’d work to get it right. We think we’re getting closer to delivering that “right” experience, but we’re not about to stop.  As always, please keep talking to us and leave your constructive feedback in the forums.  It’s the only way we will continue to improve and evolve Station Launcher.


To get this version of Station Launcher, you will need to run the update installer. It will update your existing shortcuts and preserve your current settings and preferences.

Below is a list of the changes that are available in Station Launcher 1.1.0.  Enjoy!


-dan


--

Dan Kinney

Senior Director of Platform Client Applications "

 

Ok then, I downloaded the update file and got to work. I restarted the machine, just to make sure everything gets reset to the newer settings. When I come back, there are TWO Station Launcher shortcuts! Does it not say RIGHT THERE that it will "...update your existing shortcuts and preserve your current settings and preferences"?



laucnh2



It didn't update my shortcuts!


Ok, ok, I know...usually it is something I am doing..adding it to the wrong folder or something. I will triple-check (already double checked) to see if it was me. Point being, he says right there to download the update. You would think that the update woul, you know, LOOK FOR THE DAMN THING ALREADY. But nope. In fact, let's say I wanted to play Vanguard, I went ahead and clicked on the NEW shortcut for the NEW AND IMPROVED launcher. Here's what I got:

 


 

launch3

 


 

That's right, the game was being downloaded all over again? OR it was downloading the Isle of Dawn...something like that? I have no idea. Does this mean I have two existing copies of the game? Does this mean this game has taken up 30 or 40 gigs of space? I have been playing all along, using the old launcher, and this new one couldn't have looked for that game folder? Now, watch this...I click on the OLD launcher shortcut, and here's what I get:

 


launch4

 


 

There ya go. A game, ready to launch, updated and all. So what in the Hell is the "new and improved" version doing looking for updates? Instead of just downloading a "new version" from a link somewhere, why couldn't I just update this "old version?" And what happened to "storing my preferences?" You mean to tell me that it can store all my preferences (what the Hell that means) but cannot FIND THE GAMES THAT ALREADY EXIST?


Silly, silly Launcher. I wish to Dog I were in Vegas right now so I can go find the dude that is making this thing and ask them: "Why? Just why doesn't it work like most of your games do?"

 

I will bet, no, I will PROMISE that he would start the response off with: "So..."


 

Just a guess.


Anyway, I hope I can figure it out. I normally do. I end up having to launch from OLD launchers, the launchers that come with the game, instead of using the Station Launcher. Doen't get me started on SWG, though, with it's constant incompatibilities with the launcher. Oh well.


Anyway, so there ya go...the new and improved Station Launcher. It gives you voice, access to your in-game friends, information about your subs and account....

 

...but can't locate your games.


 

Any suggestion? Remember the first part of the post.


 

 

Beau

 


EDIT: Looks like I might have to manually point the Launcher to my games. I will try this.


 

Darkfall's "surprise", What side of the fence I'm on, and outdoor cats.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday June 24 2009 at 9:31PM
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1) Darkfall: No one should be surprised that the Darkfall developer(s?) have hit you up for more money. I don't care if they are charging you for the North American server, transfers or just because they are poor. I don't care if they are charging you because they are just greedy. Here's the rub: in the world of independent games (and a good deal of the time in the Big Leagues) stuff like this happens.

It's 50 bucks. 50. Ask your parents for a loan.

darkfall_logo

The dev's have already given you a game that, despite all gripes about it, has done more for "meaningful PVP" then most games. All games. Well, not EVE, unless you add on a cash shop. They need your cash. Pay it or leave it. But please, for the love of all things hardcore, don't do what thousands of others have done for many independent games: whine and bitch WHILE you play the game. Just leave it. Come back to it after a while, see how the changes are going. Don't give it, and the forums, that air of a rotting, festering player-base that seems to just HATE it's own game. Isn't that weird? People treat games like they would a significant other that, deep down, they wish would just go away?

Look at how I did it: I played it, had some fun and then stopped having fun. I walked away without saying anymore. The game isn't my cup of tea, but I will try it again after it gets fleshed out some more. I don't WANT it to close down.

Either pony up the petty cash to play this game you say you love or move on. Despite "evidence," I seriously doubt that the developer (s?) are/is a crook.  I know it's fun to think he is, but hopefully the adults out there know that the dev is just a guy that wanted to make a FPS that allows cursing. But, making games is hard. And making games costs money.

Just pay it, or the game will go away. Then all you will have left to gripe about is how the game failed. And that's just boring. And welcome to the world of separate publishers, expensive servers and independent games.

2) Who do I support: I have been called a fan-boy (fanboi?) a million times, a brown-noser at least several thousand. Usually, the people saying it have no idea that my "loyalties" have never lay with one game, or with one community. I have always played a million games, but twice now have been deeply involved with specific communities.

So, do I normally side with the developers or with the community?

The developers, hands down. I always do. Even if they are wrong. Even if they are mean, and say mean things and do mean things like nerf classes. I do it because we, as the consumer, always have the upper hand. We alone control, especially in the MMO market, what succeeds and what does not. With that kind of power comes the ability to simply walk away from a game that does not satisfy you, and into the digital arms of another. Trust me, there are a million MMO's out there...surely you can find at least a few more that you will find fun. If not, I would hate to see your music collection.

3) Loose cats: If anyone wants to try, they can convince me that letting your cat outside, off leash, out of your yard and without a collar on is somehow normal, decent, smart or responsible. There is no way it is, period. While I think your cat WOULD be happier on it's own in the wilds of your neighborhood, I also think that scraping your cats brains off the side-walk because you wanted him to "feel free to come and go" is something you asked for by letting your cat loose. (Sorry, Internetz, I meant LOSE.)

Have a good one, guys, and be sure to send me suggestions for weird games to play on the stream!

Beau Turkey

BeauTurkey TV, streaming today at 1:30 PM, central time USA.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday June 24 2009 at 9:43AM
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http://www.spouseaggro.com

 Watch as I pwn stuff, and let me know if you want to see a particular game being played.

 

 Beau

 

 

Sorry, Darkfall is not "sandbox."

Posted by beauturkey Monday June 22 2009 at 10:23PM
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I guess I should just learn to let things go, but I am bad at it.

One of my pet peeves is not only over-using but allowing certain terms to become part of your vocabulary without actually defining what those words mean. For example, the word "n***er" of "f*g." Just words, yes, but define them and how you use them and understand their possible effects on someone besides your group of buddies.

Now, not to be overly dramatic, and I am in no way comparing using hip Interweb lingo to using racist and homophobic terms, but I am connecting the two in their unoriginality and misuse.

So, the point of the blog: "sandbox." A good deal of the gaming media and multiple spheres (blogs/podcasts) as well as players love to use the terms "hardcore" and "sandbox", as though they are some kind of assurance of either deep challenge or fascinating complexity. I will not get to hardcore on this post, but I have visited that one many times already.

But with sandbox, I am always entertained by players who seem to think that a game that allows many choices is somehow a "sandbox."

"Sandbox" is a good term only to describe something with very limited choices. A box of a material that requires a liquid to hold shape is not something that lends to unlimited imaginings, unless the player is a 5 year old. Yes, I understand the metaphor, but we are all old enough to read this blog, so let's lose (sorry, Interwebz, I meant LOOSE) that tired, immature example.

The term should be, simply,  "..a game of choices.." as in "..a game of (many) choices.." or "...a game of (very few) choices..". I don't care if a wiki somewhere defines "sandbox" as a game that allows you to play the game in many ways, or however it defines the word sandbox.

F*** the wiki, please.

What players are trying to say (no matter how the word has been defined) when they call a game "sandbox" is that the game has many options, and that the game allows that player to play in many, many ways. Not that the game allows many choices just within the physical boundaries of the game, which might be what is "given" as part of the current definition.

At least, that's what I HOPE the players are trying to say, otherwise they are using the term to say "..this game has about as many choices as a pile of sand."

So, a game should be bragged about, not for having a few choices, but for having a large sum total of choices, many things to do and many ways to do those things. And I say "brag" because most players seem to use the term "sandbox" like they do "hardcore": to make it seem as though the game they are playing somehow requires a deeper type of thinking.

Just a side note, an immersive game does not necessarily mean it has many choices, so let's leave "Immersion" out of it, for now.

Think of a blank room with a blender, a light switch and a couch.

There are the players that would prefer to nap, prefer to blend or prefer to switch. Maybe the game allows you to do all of those on one character, and maybe only one of those on one character. Just because the game allows you to do them all does not mean that the game has the limitless choices of a "sandbox." (Allowing for sandbox to mean "limitless choices" for now.) Allowing a player to do all those things just means that the game is giving you a few choices, because there are only a few things to do.

Now, if the game allowed you to make not only those choices, but choices that saved you time (a cash shop, for example) or choices that allowed you to do those things in different ways (turning on the blender with your feet, for example) then that would be closer to a true "game of (many) choices." One reason I play like I do is that I enjoy looking at the different ways to do the same things that every one else is doing (for example, making up a trading route in Vanguard when there is no "official" route, using only limited forms of chat that are "realistic" like local chat or in-game "letters" instead of the "magic world chat box" of normal MMO's. ) I like to take any game and use my imagination to turn it into the ultimate game with (many) choices.

But, in reality, most players want to follow the rules placed on them by the game. (Ironically, 99 percent of MMO's have no "rules," just areas of the game that are encouraged, but whatever.) So, to them, the game should be measured by the total number of actual in-game mechanics and systems. A sum total of all the "things to do."

So, add up the "things to do" in your "sandbox" game. Seriously, take a piece of paper and write 'em down.

Of all the games I have played, Mabinogi has probably the most systems in any game I have come across. In other words, it is closer to any "sandbox" than any game out there. But, I might be getting ahead of myself, and thinking of the first game off the top of my head.

Ryzom has a few things to do, but one character can do them all. Still, the sum total of things to do (we are not counting role-play) is low.

Vanguard has a great deal of things to do, and the characters are rich in race choice and in abilities. Every character is an everyman, and can do a little bit of everything. Many choices, and many ways to do them.

Darkfall, the point of this post, has very few choices. Very few. Granted, I am aware that Darkfall was designed to be a massive battle pvp-game that does it well, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it has one of the smallest lists of things to do. Even with my "Immersion Project" pumping some life into the game, the community (a potential game asset) is loud-mouthed enough to just ruin it. Also, the landscape is dead and bland. Pretty, but bland.

No housing: something to do.

No flying: something to do.

Nothing to explore: something to do.(Technically, my opinion, but something that is backed up by players. The game has nothing to explore but more landscape. While this could be wrong for some players, this is mostly agreed upon by the players I have talked to, my only source of information that I can rely on.)

No real death penalty: Higher level players that have played longer confirm this. Losing items means nothing, 90 percent of the time. No fear of death is a loss of something to do: being afraid. Tension can elevate a boring situation into a fantastic one.

Even EVE, with it's limited things to do (having many ways to do those things does not mean the actual number is high) has more things to do than Darkfall, thus seeming more "sandbox."

Let's stop using cheesy terms like "sandbox" and "hard-core" because they don't really apply to what they are being applied to. Just call it what it is or is not: .."a game of ______ choices." Darkfall is a great Mass PvP game, like EVE without the fun stuff that most players do (most EVE players do not PvP regularly) but that does not make Darkfall a "game of many choices."

Now, if I can just convince people to stop using the term "fail."

Beau Turkey

Thank you, where ever you are.

Posted by beauturkey Sunday June 21 2009 at 10:48PM
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Building the Towers in Ryzom is going very good. We are all surprised at how fast some are getting built, and looking forward to seeing them stand! Now, if we can all figure out what they are for we would be set. Many theories are out there, but most seem to point to new Outposts or extra defense against a Kitin invasion.

In case you have no idea what the Hell I am talking about, I am talking about a live event in Ryzom that will end up spanning weeks. We have been tasked with building extra defenses by digging certain materials and delivering packages of those materials from camp to camp.

Anyway, I logged in today bound and determined to actually contribute. I managed to avoid delivering the packages because some of the camps are in areas that are just too deadly. So I decided to dig. I'm not the best digger, but luckily I am good enough to dig what we need. But how would I know where to find the materials I needed? Well, I remembered the first two spots (but didn't mark them on my map) from a previous nights digging session with friends and also remembered that the last spot was somewhere in another area (that I missed, but knew the general area). Upon traveling to that area I started to look for where to dig, and frankly I had no idea how to find them.

Luckily one of Ryzoms very friendly players helped me out. I wasn't even asking for a volunteer, just asking some basic questions about the Towers, when she came to me and showed me where the last mats were. (Thank you Lomilmalia!) She even explained some to me about digging, and I knew right then that I should have picked it up over two years ago. Digging is kind of a mini-game, but also a crap shoot, an investigation and an expedition. It's originality reminds me of Vanguards diplomacy system.

So, I found out some information from her, organically. That means I used in-game resources for the information, preferably speech. I don't like just going to a website and gathering the information without even trying first. I am always surprised at a raider or hard-core crafters' dis-like for a cash shop because it is a "cheat," yet most raiders and hard-core ANYONE frequent sites that essentially give you nothing but cheats!

But she found out that information from someone else, more than likely. Or, at least, some of it. Before that, the person she learned it from learned it from someone else, and down the line it goes. Until, of course, we get to the first guy or girl that figured it out.

Another raider example: they are often proud of conquering a certain mob in a dungeon, yet most hard-core raiders require (and I mean require) a potential fellow raider to visit a site to "read up" on a raid. But look back in time: see that? That's the very first player to discover that without any one's help. And that's the player I want to thank. That's the one that did it them self and then started to pass the information on to others. Why? Because they were very helpful, just like Lomilmalia. Often, I don't want the information, but usually I don't mind as long as it is delivered in, at least partially, an organic way. Don't just send me away to a site and tell me to meet you at the dungeon. Take me in and show me the ropes.

That's what that first player did.

I've nothing wrong with anyone choosing to go to the website just to look something up. Hell, we've all done it in a pinch, and some of us do it before we even attempt the activity. But think about that guy that made that site, or that lady that first passed on that strategy. Maybe give 'em a buck or two, tell them thanks in some public way..send 'em some gold or dappers. Those are the players that many players would be lost without.

Beau Turkey

We're all in this together?

Posted by beauturkey Saturday June 20 2009 at 10:59PM
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Alright, I just got home from watching the new Star Trek flick. Yeh, a little late to the party, but I already hate theaters enough and REALLY hate having to go to packed shows. It's just weird, all these people claiming their little spaces with their loved ones, cuddling up with their favorite sweater in place of a blanket, staying in the conversation with the rest of their circle through their cell phones.

It's like everyone is in their own little private living room, but they are not. They sitting next to me with their loudmouth kids easting stinky pickles. PICKLES! WHO buys those pickles at a move theater??

Anyway, the movie was grand, but I won't go into details because this isn't a Star Trek review. For some reason I get REALLY into actiony flicks and scary parts more than when I was younger. I mean, I will grip the damn armrest while gritting my teeth. I'm glad I can enjoy excitement so much.

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But what do I really like about the idea behind Star Trek? The idea of sticking it out, together. Of pooling our resources so that we might survive. Of giving it your all, even in a society that money has no meaning in anymore.

That's why my favorite all time thing to do in any MMO is attend a live event. And I mean world changing events, like the giant demons showing up outside of Orgrimmar, the Kitin Patrols kicking up in Ryzom, or even holiday events that everyone participates in.

Most MMO's seem to exist only to serve not individuals, but small groups of individuals, which is the same thing. 1 person locked up in an instance is the same as 20 people locked up in an instance. But when something happens that effects the entire game, everyone pokes their heads out, takes a look around...chips in. Levels mean nothing, because even lower levels or lesser experienced players can either take part directly or help out those that can.

Why don't more MMO's HAVE live events? Why? They are what MMOs are all about.

Picture this, set in a game that none of us have played yet, and pretend it is set on a desolate planet that we are just trying to survive on: One day we all come out of our pods to see that a giant blue orb has settled in low orbit in the sky. It hums with power, but with no explanation. Slowly, players are fed clues as to what it is, but it stays there for a week or two, doing nothing.

Slowly, the Orb changes to a red color, and over days starts to make threatening sounds, pulsing with danger.

Could you imagine the stir in the community? Even if this game had instances, every single player would be talking to other players and would be trying to figure out what the hell the thing was. It would be gripping.

Look at the real life example of this: we are all just driving along when suddenly an accident happens. I saw one the other day, as a matter of fact, and it was a bad one. A car literally FLIPPED over. Suddenly every human on that block was outside, many ran to the crash to see if they could help. Some did it so fast that it was as though they reacted by some backwards instinct, going TO the noise instead of AWAY from it.

Three minutes earlier we were all in our little world inside the bigger world, not noticing anyone else. Minutes later we are talking to strangers, asking "Can I help?" or "What did you see?"

I want more of that (not accidents though.) More of the stuff that brings us together, and less of locking ourselves into instanced worlds within worlds. Right now in Ryzom there is a live event going on in which all of the communities must build their set of 6 towers in order to stop the threat of an invasion.

The developers have set up a website to track the progress of the servers, and inside those lists you can see how each race is doing, too. A good-natured competition has fired up to see which race will "win," but we all know that whomever gets to their goal first will quickly just run to the other lands to help with the remaining towers.

Why? Because something outside of ourselves (the players) has threatened us. And even though we don't get along all the time, we will still defend the sum of our kind. Not only have I been trying to help in my meager ways, but I have been checking the status page 15 times a day. A simple live event seems to have re-ignited a community for a several-year-old game.

I hope we can all pull it off.

And I hope to see more Live Events drag players out of their worlds within worlds.

Beau Turkey

Dear Darkfall: It's not you, it's me.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday June 18 2009 at 10:19PM
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I know it hasn't been long. What...2 weeks? 3? But let me just explain.

Sit down. No, not there. That chair's broken.

Ok, look. I still think you're really Immersive, and graphically you are much better than I thought you would be. Pretty, actually.

But you're just not the right game for me. You're all about getting together with several of your friends and going after other groups of friends. You know, like a game of paint-ball. I enjoy those kinds of things once in a blue moon, but generally my off-time from real life doesn't involve so much...you know..running.

 (LEFT OUT THE SCREENIE OF THE CHAT..YOU CAN SEE IT ON MY WEBSITE.)

In my real life I walk about 2 hours a day. I bike to work, do housework and yardwork. I clean up pee and poo at work, then come home to do the same with my animals. The last thing I want to do is to come home and run around, looking for not only something to shoot, but trying to avoid being shot. Let's be honest, though, as soon as I saw how equipment and loot has no value, even that fear turned into boredom.

So yeh, you're into partying and large groups of men getting together. That's fine. I like sports, sometimes, even when half of the sport is one big commercial for products I never buy. Also, I understand that you're an MMO, and by definition MMO's are meant to be played in large groups.

But that's not my bag, baby. Even though there are some really cool people that play you, I can rarely find them.

 (LEFT OUT THE SCREENIE OF THE CHAT..YOU CAN SEE IT ON MY WEBSITE.)

I'm a dork..I like to look at virtual sunsets and talk to people, and all of that I like to punctuate with the occasional bouts of serious adventure. I guess I look at all that action as anything in life: boring if done too much. So, I'm a little protective of my adventure, I use it sparingly. I know that it would only be a matter of time before my (normal) human brain grows accustomed to it and looks elsewhere for excitement.

But there's another problem: there's no other adventure in you. No mobs but the occasional bear, no birds in the sky. When I look at Ryzom I see a game FULL of life, entire herds of animals all moving with the seasons. But you only offer me horrible chat (I had to even turn off local chat) with the occasional player trying to jump in my arrows path (happened twice today) along with the promise of a possible clan (sometime possibly) in my future. But no RP, whatsoever. I looked..the three possibilities long gone.

I just don't have the energy to try and start my own thing. I'm already doing that in several other games. Maybe if this was another time and place...

Anyway, good luck. I think you have a lot to offer a player that is looking for what you offer.

Also, I kinda' sorta' think you're as boring as Hell.

Ok, well, I gotta' get to the movies. Yeh, I'm meeting Ryzom, Vanguard and a handful of weird Asian MMO's. Nah, I think it's better you stay here. Well, I mean leave. Hey! I heard that whats-his-name was looking for you. Yeh..there ya go..give him a call:

chiznat5

Beau Turkey

BeauTurkeyTV: Streaming my gamin' today at 1:30 PM Central time!

Posted by beauturkey Thursday June 18 2009 at 10:29AM
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http://www.ustream.tv/channel/beauturkeytv

 I will be streaming all sorts of stuff, so don't be surprised if you see some weird games.

 Darkfall, too. Tell your mom.

 

 Beau

 

 

 

I will be streaming my gaming all day...

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday June 16 2009 at 1:54PM
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 So join me..or you, er...you know what I mean.

 http://www.ustream.tv/channel/beauturkeytv

 EDIT: I will be streaming the Ryzom caravan all tonight. Enjoy!

 Beau

The Ryzom Ring scenarios and XP Gain.

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday June 16 2009 at 11:16AM
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Well I got a message from Ryzom player Xarae telling me to go check out her scenario in the Ryzom Ring. The Ryzom Ring is a fantastic set of tools that allows a player to create their own missions and role-play events to be played by other players. City of Heroes has received a lot of buzz lately for it's Mission Architect system, but Ryzom had them beat by about 2 years.

Unlike the Mission Architect, the Ryzom Ring has barely been touched by players AND designers, for many reasons. There are still some bugs in the system, and it's not the easiest system to work easily, but overall it works really well. The proof? The mission made by Xarae was fantastic, and even had multiple endings that I can go back and see.

I have always been in the camp that thinks that SOME KIND of rewards or XP should be able to be given out for playing these missions. Something...ANYTHING. (I am aware that actual rewards would be hard to implement, being that the Ring is cross-server.) While someone like me really enjoys the role-play aspect of it, I should think that most players don't give much of a poo about another player's abilities to tell a story. They want something out of their time, and that's fine.

ryzring

I think, though, that most players have more of a fear of players unfairly grinding XP than a fear of role-playing. The worst thing you can do to a player is to tell them that another player might be able to gain levels faster than him/her, or that another player has some kind of "upper hand." I don't want to get too far into why I get so mad at players worrying so much about OTHER players, but let's just say that this kind of attitude fuels anger towards cool systems like cash shops (they're "unfair") or XP being handed out in the Ryzom Ring ("..players will grind XP.")

Let's get to a list:

1) Players will grind XP if it is allowed in the Ring: No, they won't, with simple stop-blocks and rules. You could place a simple timer on the event, making the XP gain not worth waiting for a lock-out timer to go away. You can do the mission once a day, or just ONCE. After all, it is basically a part of a story. You could also simply make the XP gain dependent on how long the mission takes, so that a player cannot gain the XP for just going inside the mission and killing the boss. Again, these are just simple ideas off the top of my head that could simply help discourage (or make impossible) players "abusing" the system by gaining too much XP too fast.

2) Who CARES if they grind XP?: This is a concern for many players, which I get, but the other option is to have what is happening now (players ignore the Ring.) Again, letting the few bad apples ruin the whole bunch. Do what City of Heroes is doing and kick the heck outta' those that exploit. If they can do it in City of Heroes, they can do it in a community that is much, much smaller like Ryzom. And even if some fall through the cracks and gain some fast XP, then let it be. I have had this argument a million times and don't want to start it again here, but there is a fine line between players grinding in a way that is "wrong" and players that grind EVERY SINGLE DAY. Ryzom is FILLED with a grind..we all know this. It's a lovely game with amazing things and new things being done to it, but there is no way to gain levels other than killing things, crafting things, digging things..over and over and over. No missions (although there are lower level ones now) means this game is a "grind" to gain levels already.

Point being that we are punishing the Ryzom Ring and it's potential because of fear of players that might gain XP faster than normal. As though getting a group together, going out in the wilds and killing the same things over and over is any more nuanced or noble. More fun? Yes, to me, but I can't tell others how to have their fun. And yes, going out into the wilds with a group is what the game IS about, so a simple fix encouraging players to group in the Ring would be the same thing.

Look, we all want to have players in the world, grouping up and leveling. But let's be really honest here: there would be nothing wrong with allowing players to create a section of the world that the same thing can be done, but with the stamp of their own creativity. I know about the fears of players no longer playing IN the actual game, out in the world, or of players that only make missions for themselves and their friends. But right now in game you need a group, usually a group of friends/guildies, and you go out and grind for hours. Most players exist in an "instance" called a friends/guild list right now.

Now, I know there are plenty of other issues that prevent the Ring from working properly. I also know that there are other things that can be done to encourage the use of the Ring, like fixing all possible bugs and allowing scenarios to be ran while the creator is offline. But if CoH can do it, and have it be a creative tool for players to make thier own content with, then so can Ryzom.

I just hope we get past the fear of "grinding XP" (as though everyone can sit for hours JUST grinding, and couldn't refuse the chance to do so) so that we can start adding rewards/XP to the Ring. It needs to be used more, players like Xarae and her fantastic mission need to be seen.

Go log in and play her mission, help her test it and try to see all the endings. She is in-game, usually, and would happy to answer any questions.

Beau Turkey

Old men cry a lot.

Posted by beauturkey Monday June 15 2009 at 10:08PM
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This is hardly a scientific find (although there have been studies done) but I have noticed that as the men I know grow older, they grow more emotional. I think the better thing to say would be that men grow more nostalgic, more apt to shed a tear over old stories and songs. Women, on the other hand, become more aloof, less emotional or more practical.

Again, this is not scientific...just based on personal observation and a few little finds here and there.

Perhaps men hold back more emotion, or used to, than women and as they grow older they are less likely to hold back the emotion due to failing bodies and minds? Women, on the other hand, do away with so much sentimentality and go for a more practical approach to life, and being that women generally live longer than men, maybe women find themselves going at it more alone than earlier in their lives? (Of course, I am not talking about same-sex couples...or am I? Ugh...who knows. )

st-tng_sarek

This brings me to why I decided to write this blog: Star Trek, the Next Generation. I just watched one of my favorite episodes in which Spocks father Sarek is showing signs of suffering with the Vulcan equivalent of Alzheimer's disease. To balance out the effects of the disease, Captain Picard must be all mind-melded on so that Sarek can "borrow" the captain's more steady nature. It works, and the Vulcan performs his duty negotiating with an alien species.

There is a great scene of emotional outpouring from Picard, and in the end of the show the best lines are given:

Sarek: I will take my leave of you, captain. I do not think we shall meet again.

Captain: I hope you're wrong, Ambassador.

Sarek: We shall always retain the best part of the other...inside.

Captain: I believe I have the better part of that bargain, Ambassador. Peace, and long life.

Sarek: Live long and prosper.

The whole thing about that is the line: "I do not think we shall meet again." That means forever, for all time. That is the part of life that we all fear: the final and lasting end. Perhaps as we grow older we grow more conscious about that, and we either grow more accustomed to it, become more fearful of it or just ignore it. I am, on one hand, obsessed with that final end, and I think about it to the point that I am literally aware of every day, nothing really slips by me (that's why I am such the airhead that I am.) On the other hand, I believe that I won't notice the end, anyway, so why bother about it?

That's what draws me to games that have a very visible element of finality to them, of death. I don't mean the kind of death as in Darkfall, if anything in a FPS shooter death is but a pause and then you are right back into the action. I mean death as in what survivors of tragedies see, of what refugees witness. It's the kind of death or tragedy that masses of people survive together, and it brings them together and creates a feeling of camaraderie.

It's fun to play-act in a world filled with tragedy, one like Ryzom's Atys or Vanguard's Telon. It's fun, in a way, to think about our characters hard times and to think of them as people that have been through a lot, and long for a brighter future. Personally, it helps me to forget the finality of real life to play in a world where death is everywhere, but of no danger to the real me.

So even though I am already an emotional person, I think I will be a total wreck by the time I'm elderly. Maybe then we will have virtual reality games like the Holo-deck on Star Trek, and I can act out my fantasies then, too. Until then, I will be happy as a lark, only to pause at the commercials for the ASPCA to cry like a little girl.

Game long and prosper.

Beau

Ryzom: A quest made JUST FOR ME.

Posted by beauturkey Sunday June 14 2009 at 7:26PM
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There is a strange guy that has lurked around my comments section for a while now, and he finally made a silly comment so I banned him. Easy enough to do, and I even re-directed him to a picture of one of those annoying Hot Topic bunnies.

So, when he attempts to visit the site, he sees only that picture. Har har.

truckin2

Anyway, I know it works because he brought it up on Silky Venom, mainly because (according to him) things had became stale over there and they needed something to get their blood boiling again. Kinda' sad, really. But, the funniest thing is, he had a point in his comments: I do suck at video games.

To clarify, though, here is a small list of other things that I suck at. I don't suck at them because I couldn't possibly handle the intense pressure to achieve great things with them, but because I haven't taken the few hours to a few weeks to master:

1) Changing the timing belt on my car.

2) Building a birdhouse.

3) Making a cherry cobbler.

As you can see, those are all things that any human could probably do with time, and that many humans would consider easy to do. Yet, as each human started the process to learn those activities, there would be a challenge. Playing video games is like this. Even the hardest MMO out there provides mild challenge in the long run, but possibly intense challenge the first few times it is played.

To sum up, I don't "suck" at video games, I just haven't taken the week to become better at some areas of some MMO's. Especially areas that start off by boring me, like raiding, working on levels, or PvP'ing.

Then out of the gloom comes my old home game, Ryzom. The recent in-game events have challenged us Homins to help build new towers in each major land by digging for materials (gathering) or shipping bundles of goods to different areas. That's right, SHIPPING.

Yes, yes, I know...EVE has missions like that, and so do many games...but these will help actually build something, and to change the gaming environment. I have a feeling that the towers (used to defend against Kitins, giant insect creatures) will be put to some use soon after. Not only are they asking you to deliver goods, but the dev's have built a nice web page showing the actual progress of each tower! Such a simple thing, a web-page that updates as the event goes on, but why haven't more games used this?

truckin1

So, as of this writing I am swimming in Tryker land, making my way to the second delivery spot. I am planning my route, printing out maps and having as much fun as I do in Vanguard while delivering goods there. But this time, the goods have an actual impact on the game. Granted, each delivery could easily take up an entire play session, but I can pause at the camps and have a little role-play, sit by a fire...get out of the rain. And this type of thing is perfect for groups, caravans of players all delivering goods.

On a side-note, you can skip the delivery and go for gathering materials. But, although I enjoy digging, I enjoy space-trucking more.

So yeh, I suck at video games. I will never be the best PvP'er or the best anything. That kind of work and drive I save for you know, real life stuff.  But, I am good at enjoying the Hell outta' my gaming. I tend to skip around, but I know a good route when I find one.

Beau Turkey

Take a tall, cool drink from a Lakelands Brew!

Posted by beauturkey Saturday June 13 2009 at 8:35PM
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You know, Darkfall is a fun game. Fun for sure, and still giving me things to discover and do. Funny how such a barren game can excite my imagination.

But the crowds there..the players...nice bunch, I think, mostly. But the cool ones aren't the ones ganking you (actually, I kind of enjoy that part) or using words like "Nazis" or "Big Nick Digger" in their name. The cool ones are busy playing the game, having a good time with clan mates (I need a clan, I'm all awone. :(  )

So, the game can tax you just in the way that it kind of stresses your tolerance for bad characters. Names are turned off, but there are so many bad ones that it's hard to pretend that you don't see 'em when you hover over a character. That's right...we're all pretending when we play these games. I just don't like to be reminded that I am only pretending, especially when I am in the middle of a good ole' fashioned night of  "immersive" game-play.

ryzroleplay

I think that the crowds and the reputation of the crowds in Darkfall might be it's greatest block. But then again, I braved pirates and wars in EVE for years (I have a 10 million SP character...not high, but then again I'm never controlling high level characters.) I know how people talked about pirates and 0.0 space. Some people really seemed to fear it, at least to the point that it would stop them from trying to go there, or to play that. Same with many, many other games.

So Darkfall's crowds don't scare me, and I don't see why they should anyone else. But still, there is a difference between being scared and being annoyed. I have no fear, but I can't stand being annoyed.

Having said all that, I will continue to play DF for at least a while. That game has more to offer, I am sure.

But I had to log into Ryzom today for it's new patch and live event. Not only did the new developers start up a role-play web-page, they have shown that live events might be the norm! Seems to me they might go the route of having role-play live events to help craft the world a bit, and if I could tell you how many times I wished more MMOs had more live events we would be here a long time.

And damn, Ryzom is perfect for such events! Granted, not all go off without a hitch (today didn't, for sure) but they all have heart, seem to fit into the normal lore nicely and always bring out lots of players.

As I am running through the event (I seem to be on a mission of TRADE! YES!), editing our podcast, and writing this blog, I am struck by how much NICER Ryzom feels. I mean nicer in so many ways: the way it runs and is beautiful, the community (for the most part) and how it feels like home. My home game. Well, one of them anyway.

When I am on a kick of forum fightin', I notice that when I wake up each morn after that I am stiffer, a little achier, maybe a headache. Something about getting into petty passionate arguments with complete strangers is very do-able, but does stress me out a bit. I love fighting with dumb people, and smart ones too, but deep down I would rather not.

Darkfall seems to have the same effect. I know, I know, most of the players are just regular, cool people..but there are SO MANY players with racist names, sexist chatter and filled with nerd rage (against the game they are playing!) that it creates the slightest bit of under-the-skin stress. Enough to make me feel a big warm feeling of care-bear comfort as I log into a game that not only runs better but that is FILLED with life, life that has amazing AI (if you haven't played Ryzom, you need to just to watch mobs migrate and hunt) and with life in the form of great players who typically do not tolerate names and chat that is more than common in a game like Darkfall.

Understand that I am fully aware that playing Darkfall is a lot like stepping back into the gym locker room in 7th grade: boys making homo-sexual references, girls a distant vision, cursing as though your life depended on it, and basically boys being boys.

But there was a reason I failed most gym classes from then on: I wouldn't "dress out" meaning that I wouldn't go into the locker room to change into my gym shorts. Something about sitting on the bleachers talking to the girls seemed a better choice. Not very manly? True. Much, much nicer? Hell yes.

Go get the Ryzom trial, and when Darkfall has a trial, get that one too. It's fun switching between the two, and although it seems I am busily snapping my towel on Darkfalls' butt, I like how the game pulls out different aspects in me than Ryzom does. Sometimes, you feel like sneaking around and shooting players. Other times you just really, really need to log into a beautiful world to hang out with old friends.

Beau Turkey

New Ryzom live event today, 2pm Central Time!

Posted by beauturkey Saturday June 13 2009 at 10:05AM
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From the new role-players site:

Assembling the peoples

The capitals of the new land were in turmoil, gatherings were called as leaders convened their people.
Added by Erlan 3 days ago

In autumn of the 1st AC in 2546*, the leaders of the four peoples were each seeking to assemble their people. Thus it was that during that time, the town criers of the Desert Empire, of the Forest Kingdom, of the Federation of New Trykoth and of the Theocracy of the Witherings called for all homins to gather.

Following the announcements, Patriots, Subjects, Citizens, Initiates and non-citizens of all races met their respective leaders at the same time*, converging on the Agora in Pyr, the Yrkanis Stage, Fairhaven's Frogmore Place and the Grand Place of Zora.

Even though none of the announcers gave reason for the meetings, rumor ran rampant across the bark of Atys. The activities of the imperial, royal, federal and dynastic agents gave reason to believe that the leaders were, each on their own, working on comparable projects and would be calling for their peoples' help and good will in short time.

Erlan, Chronicler

[*] Saturday, 13 June 2009, 7PM GMT.

See you all there!

Beau

I am easily THE BEST pvp'er in Darkfall.

Posted by beauturkey Friday June 12 2009 at 5:12PM
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I want you all to know this, before I become so good that I pwn you, like, as you are reading this. Hear that? No? OF COURSE NOT. Watch as I completely destroy this NOOB I found at a base I wandered into. I watched him as he hit this...thing...and I SWEAR it was a zombie looking guy standing in the corner, facing away from this human. I didn't even think to film until I had already shot him.

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO. DO NOT BE AFRAID.

Ok, seriously though this guy looked like he was whacking on a bugged mob, so I asked the players. They said, of course, that he was exploiting. To be honest, I was a little excited to be involved in my first "HAX" conversation, but still I decided to ask the guy:

firstkilltalkcen

Turns out I was not filming the WHOLE thing, although I thought I had filmed the mob in question. ( I hoped my lies would actually get more exciting conversation out of it.)  The only thing you can see left of it is a blood spatter on the far wall. Still, I believe the guy, and it goes to show how quick people are to report someone or to call someone a cheater. Hell, I would have too, being that he had just stabbed my freakin face off.  But, like I said to him, I didn't care..I was just asking for the sake of "DIY journalism." :)
The only thing is, I meant to say "At least you were my first NON-affar..." but instead I gave him the impression that I didn't even know my races. Hell, I probably don't. Either way, the NEWB title does fit, very well. Still, this didn't stop me from asking about any RP guilds that were active:

rpdisc12

I like the "lol RP" part, but I have a feeling that guy was answering in the same way someone answers with "...your mom.." which, by the way, I hate not only because I don't pattern my life after Napolean Dynamite like so many of today's yoots do, but also because my favorite decade was the '40's, and back then if you said that you got smacked. Not by me, of course, but by James Cagney.

rpdisc2

I don't like to stop up normal chat with non-game talk, but if I didn't I knew they would be on to me as the newb that I am. In fact, you will stick out worse if you don't speak of none-game related topics in chat. On a side-note, I am talking about System of a Down, because I think that a lot of Darkfall players like them. Just, again, a gut feeling. Here they are, and please note the bass player, indeed, "looking up":

system-of-a-down-ta011

Look at the dude behind him! He's TRYING to look like he doesn't care about you know, photo shoots, but it's hard to look like anything but annoyed when you are looking around the annoying bass player. My gut feeling is that the bass player is trying to create the Nu version of the "dramatic lookaway":

switchfoot_300

And gimme' a break..I just got pwned by probably the most shirtless avatar in my entire history of gaming. I have been in a LOT of pvp...from EVE to WoW to UO to LotRO (don't tell me, that doesn't count?) to Puzzle Pirates to Shadowbane to YOU NAME IT. If the game had PvP, I have tried it. PvP is one of those things that never changes: the players learn how their character kills fast, and they wiggle around (I jump for CRITS! (tm) ) really fast and make me LOOK for them. Then, they do it again and again. Good fun, sometimes, but like anything else I need it to be toned down with some role-play, some gaps between fights, or some reason FOR fighting. I am not sure I have much reason at this point, being that Darkfall's lore is .....Hell, I don't know where it is!

rpdisc3cen

So, in the meanwhile, I am just an evil half-demon-half-man-half-vampire guy that runs around hating almost EVERYTHING. But I don't just hate it because I am evil..I hate it in the same way I hate real life things like parents that yell across Wal Mart for their children, or bad drivers: BECAUSE I AM GRUMPY. My character needs no other reason, he just has too much anger in him. Really, it's physical. It's in his genes.

rpdisc4

So, if anyone knows of any RP guilds (one of you posted some info in a comment, but I am lazy AND forgetful sometimes) that ARE active and perhaps NOT laugh-at-able, then let me know. Or, tell them that the worlds GREATEST DAMN pvp'er is looking for them.

onehardcoredood

Beau Turkey

I found a copy of Darkfall in Sprout's produce section.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday June 10 2009 at 9:26PM
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Ok, that wasn't a very good metaphor. But, I DO feel as though a perfect word to describe Darkfall is "organic."

Essentially, everything is touched, felt..you have to move inventory around like in UO. You have to aim, pick things up, swing at mobs. It's all very connected, like I attempted to feel like with my "Immersion Project." I want to feel what my character might be feeling, rather than acting as my character would. My avatar is just me: ordinary, average ability, surrounded by larger things. But all this manipulation of buttons and keystrokes has got my tennis elbow feeling important. I am slowly finding my way around the game by using the least mouse clicks possible, and running using the auto-run feature and turning with the arrow keys helps (I only use this when it is not important to aim or be particular.)

df1

Being the player that I am, I am not just satisfied with doing the quests and raising my stats. First things first, I gotta' go exploring. Being that this game is hard-core-super-evil-pvp-land, I couldn't just go out skipping through the forest. I had to make a list and check it twice, and make sure that I had plenty of arrows. When I open my bank, I am reminded of UO days, stacking gold and losing items under each other. The question is: is it realism they are going after, or effect?

I think they are going for an impression of realism, and one of the easiest ways they could do this was to make you slow down when you do something like grabbing your gear. It's not rocket science.

df4

Understand that at this point in these reviews I fully expect people to say that I am giving the game extra chances because I am enjoying it, and to say that the fanboi-seeds have been planted, and will soon blossom into the same tree of brown-nosery that grew for SOE and Vanguard.

Here's the deal: I am not a fanboi of anything, except my wife and animals. The problem with many games like VG or DF are that players seem to take the game only as the developers or packaging seem to be marketing it: a "hard-core" PvP game, an "old-school" adventure MMO. I simply find fun things to do in almost anything, and don't feel the need to talk about bugs/nerfs/developer mistakes as though they are the end of the world.

In other words, I don't talk about that which I cannot control. So, I will like Darkfall for now, for some reason. Give me time to become bitter.

df6

Anyway, I loaded up the ole' backpack with arrows and a few potions. Although I am brand new to the game, I like the de-emphasis on equipment. I feel like I do in most games, free of loot lust, but in Darkfall I really feel like it isn't going to matter that much, for everyone.

I decided to go North because I went exploring as soon as I loaded the game for the first time and found an elf village thing. I figured I would go investigate the village now that I might be able to kill one of them, and to see if I could avoid death while I did it.

df7

I will stop here to say that yes, the landscapes of Darkfall are open and pretty darn empty. Maybe I am used to that from VG, and although I can get used to the destroyed landscape, I would LOVE it if they simply through in some birds in the sky or the occasional non-threatening mob. You know, LIFE.

But while I am running around I am not too concerned about other life, save for the players that might take MY life. So, I don't tend to stop and miss birdies or squirrels running around. There are definitely areas of natural beauty in the world, but to be honest I feel mostly in a sour mood (in a good way) and just want to survive to shoot an elf. But that's a GOOD feeling, kind of like Mad Max must have felt, like, all the damn time.

df3

I stumbled across some baddie something-er-rathers and tried my hand at killing them. They swarmed me and I ran like a girl from a spider. If you would like, check out the video below to watch me sneaking around a goblin camp and what happens when you are too worried about running out of arrows to LET THEM FLY.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH MY VIDEO.

I would have uploaded it to YouTube, but it was over the size limit. Give it a second to load.

df2

I ended up camping near a large lake, and wished hard that one day the developers would add in a campfire. Could you imagine it? You're out in the wilds, it's DARK AS HELL, and you need to get dry and rest a bit. You light a campfire and warm up, you gain a buff.

In the distance a player sees a glimmer on the horizon, and sneaks towards the small light of your campfire, bow drawn back....

They could do a lot with this game, and my imagination is all over it. But here's the only thing that matters to you, as a player or potential player of Darkfall or any other MMO: If you enjoy it, play it. If you do not enjoy it, move on. Don't follow any rules that tell you to play a certain way, and don't let any other players tell you that your skills suck or that you cannot play worth a damn. There ARE NO RULES. This game is a perfect game to do what you want in, as far as the game will physically allow you.

Now, I was asked by Ink if I thought the game basically had a future, if it could hold up to all the other MMO's out there. All I can say is that in my gut of guts I feel that players really do ask themselves questions like that too much. There is way too much emphasis on a games future now, before the game has even had one.  Players grow bored within weeks, and I will promise you that even the coolest and most innovative game that comes out will have a hard time retaining players...why? Because fans of MMO's are obsessed with them..they play for hours and hours and hours and no amount of content can stand up to that level of consumption. They grow bored faster than ever. There are entire websites where they can download brand new demos, and within moments of growing bored they can simply log into another world.

So, is Darkfall good or bad for you? I'd say that if you go into the game with only a Counter Strike match on your brain, then you will enjoy it for a bit. If you go into it thinking that you will be somehow original or funny by calling yourself a name like "Studs McSpawnsMore" then you might be one of many d-bags bringing good games down.

If you go into it expecting just to play a new game, no matter how it has been marketed, then you might have a good time.

This game has MAJOR flaws, but what independant work doesn't? I hear the same discussion going on with Vanguard, and I say the same thing for DF as I would for VG: the players are going to have to help to get this game to where it should be, and that's it. That's not forgiveness for developers that couldn't completely deliver a polished product, or for developers that might have made several mistakes. That's simply the truth.  You can sit and whine about the lack of polish in chat, IN GAME, or you can get involved with the community and with constructive criticisms.

Now, enough of that. I hate all this serious discussion about a damned video game. I'm having a blast in Darkfall, but understand that I am not a normal player. Seriously...I suck at PvP and can't stand doing the same thing over and over.

It doesn't make sense to me, either, but I like it.

Beau Turkey

Darkfall: Uhm, this is actually quite fun.

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday June 9 2009 at 8:27AM
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That's it. This settles it. Me and Syncaine are going to be best friends.

Buddies, like Turner and Hooch, Dumb and Dumber...Bush and Cheney.

Can you find Beau in the picture?

Can you find Beau in the picture?

I actually LIKE Darkfall, quite a bit. NOW, stop..stop...no comments yet. I say that after a few days playing only, and I fully expect those strange half-fanboi-half-hater players to tell me "I love this game, and I play it a lot, but it sucks. You will see." In fact, they were out in full force the other night, kind of just complaining about what the game should do, how it should work, what Nectarine should do. (That's my new name for them. It's easier to remember.)

I would show you screenshots from the last few nights of gaming, but although I hit the keys bound to take a screenie, nothing happened. I looked it up: screenshots impossible? (I hit alt-s?)

Let's just get right to it, because there's ganking to do. And remember, this is a basic, basic review that isn't even covering half of what I have experienced. No death threats, please, unless you are 40 years old and living in Colorado.

1) The combat: DUH. That's what we're here for. I am kind of surprised people keep referring to it only as a pvp game, or as an "FPSMMO" (which isn't a bad description) and I can see that, yes, if you spend most of your time pvp'ing you would call it that. Granted, I've only been in about 4 PVP fights so far, but the PVE combat is really damn fun, too. The mobs will run after you, get help, run away...it seriously felt about the same as when I fought a player. You know, they do that annoying side-to-side thing (I jump for CRITS! (tm) )  and basically act as a player. For the life of me I could not kill some goblins for the beginning quests, and started to think that this game might be annoying, but then Jay Jay the Wonder Biscuit (that means cookie in their language) told me simply to switch how I was hitting. I hit T like he said and my lil guy switched to a downward chop instead of  a sideways swing. It worked! I killed two goblins and stomped my feet as the last one ran away.

If only I had a bow.....wait a second...I looted one off that last goblin! I equipped it, drew it, and pushed my mouse key. RrrRRRrrAAAHHhhh said the bow string as I pulled it back. Aiming it was pure fun, and when my arrow slammed into another goblin (I later figured out how to hotkey weapons) I thought to myself  "Ok, this just got A LOT BETTER."

2) PVP: Again, I have only seen a small part of it, but as with all pvp'ing (which I have seen my share in 10 years) it can get as boring as any activity. Seems to me that with the wide open spaces and the ability to actually hide (I LOVE that) you can avoid pvp if you want (or, of course, to allow you to pick someone off from those shadows!) PVP is one of those things that players seem to take great pride in, as with raiding, but I don't see the point of doing anything for such a great amount of time. I kind of want to suck at first, get better slowly, just like my lil demon man thing would if he were real. EVE was the same for me, meaning that I pvp'ed enough, but explored and snuck around more.

Luckily, Darkfall does play like an FPS, meaning that besides losing a few bits of decent armor, you just run right back to the spot you were before. It's ironic that in a "hardcore" game, death means nothing. Make me have to wait in a hospital for a while, make me sweat while my corpse lies there. Just don't let me pop right back up and get right back to it.

But I'll get to pvp later, after I had a chance to see some bigger combat. The whole clan-war-and-land-holding thang looks great, and at the very least I want to sneak around and shoot at people. PVP in Darkfall? Exciting and fun, need to investigate more. Yes, yes, I know...DF is mostly a PVP game. I will get to it. Let me enjoy some of the scenery, first. Speaking of which....

3) Graphics: Wow, Darkfall can sure look pretty in some areas (shadows are beautiful) and downright dated-to-all-hell in others. I WOULD show you a screenshot of this silly "welcome" sign in my starter town (as though demon monsters would build a "welcome" sign) but screenies don't work.

Having said that, I can understand if they intentionally left the graphics the way they are, being that they need the game to run on a wide array of PC's, and with good performance. On my older machine it runs a lil rough until I shut off shadows (which I hated to do, but liked the performance better) but I kept everything else cranked. On the newer machine it runs beautifully, and sneaking through the shadows is pure gaming joy. And to think that you can literally hide from players (and mobs I think?) in the dark is wonderful. Awesome. FUN.

I don't knock the game for looking so rough in some ways...so dated. It DOES look like a game that was started 7 years ago, and added to over time. Nectarine seems small enough, and if they built this engine themselves they should pat themselves on the back. Game-makin' is hard. But the light/darkness of the game is what makes it shine, and that makes up for any poor character design or rough graphics.

Don't get me wrong, the game looks great in most areas. This is a game of fog, shadows, and playing in the dark.

4) The sound: Dear, sweet Dog. Such dated sounds in some areas, and yet such great USE of some of those sounds. If I hear one more of those annoying blood SPLAT sounds (from Star Craft!) I am going to scream. It makes the game feel like they bought the sound file back in '99 and never updated it. Almost every sound needs to be tweaked for volume, and most of the sounds could just be more subtle. I understand, though, that some of these sounds could be audio clues to events like critical hits, but some are just over the top. (You can adjust them in sound settings I think.)

In DF you probably don't want music blaring so you can hear someone approaching, so I forgive the games lack of so many wonderful sounds/music. But it would be nice to hear more, like if players were chatting in a group, you could hear slight whispers.

I love the sound of the bow pulling back, and I love how some of these sounds will warn you of hidden players, but many of them just need to be updated/tweaked. Simple fixes that will probably come.

If you want to give Darkfall a try, go to https://accounts.eu.darkfallonline.com/account/ and go for it. Enjoy figuring it all out, although even finding that page is not something easy to do.

Let's not even get too far into why their website is horrible. Just looking at it will tell you why. At the very least, update it to today's standards...make it larger, center it, update the information. There's one simple, simple thing: add a link to a dev blog on the front, and go EVERY DAY and update that blog. Hell, players have been giving out better information than the developers. It doesn't matter if the dev's just put "Having some coffee while working on some bugs, click here for pic..." on the blog, it would let the community and potential customers know that Nectarines' web guy is not a guy in a basement that has been frozen in time since '01.

But I don't want this semi-review to seem all bad. All these things will be tweaked, I think, with time. I come from being the worlds biggest Vanguard fan (and still am) so if there is one thing I know about it's patience with a wonderful dev staff that might not have all the money in the world. Support them, and do it in constructive ways, and they will try their best. Remember, players and developers are actually in it together. This is the world of indie games, and needs to be treated as a community project. I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing a small game get better, and the community helping along that process.

Speaking of the community: This community is about what you would expect. Mostly men (just a gut feeling) in general chat talking about a few subjects:

a) The developers suck.

b) So and so is a hacker. Haxxor. Whatever.

c) *beep* *beep* *beep*

d) Other games.

Typical MMO stuff, with the chat filter removed. Woop-dee-do. I have dealt with the worst of the worst community members in some of the players I know from VG (hate mail much?) so this is nothing. The simplest fix is to shut off the chat, which I always do anyway.

In the one-on-one world, the players have all been really cool. Within minutes of playing I had two players give me advice and offer help. While I became quite dead thanks to other players once or twice, that might of been the result of me hitting them first. ( I dunno, still learning all that.) But other than that, the community reminds me of any FPS community which is to say that the bad ones are easily ignored. It sucks that many, many of them are bad ones, but still easily ignored.

There seem to be players that are trying to role-play, but so few and far between that I wonder how many do. This game is PERFECT for role-play, from mild stuff to "hard-core" Immersion rules. The game begs to be role-played in!

And isn't it ironic that in a "hard-core" game in which the players take playing a game SOOOOOO seriously (think raiders after a major patch) that most of their characters names are "_______Mc _______sAlot" or some form of "IcAnHAZyerGear"? How do these serious players have such an easy time with their guild names or characters? Kids these days....

I am going to wrap up soon because I hate long posts and I want to get some playing in before Leala tells me to get off her nice PC.  All I can say is that, so far, Darkfall is one of those "diamond in da rough" that I have grown so fond of over the years. Ryzom, Mabinogi, Vanguard...all games that are taking unique ideas and trying to show you what they can do.  If the community is supportive and recognizes that the development team is not the size of a small town, and does their part in spreading the word (yes, I know it is the job of the developer, IF they have the money) by starting blogs, podcasts and constructive posts, this game could slowly climb up the ladder and stick around a while.

I will go into more PVP next time, crafting and all that other jazz. Understand that most of my info is pulled from in-game, and I usually avoid looking at websites and data-bases. That's a sure-fire way to kill my fun. I want to learn organically.

Now, if you don't mind, I am hiding in the shadows, pulling my bow back!

Beau Turkey

Darkfall: Downloading NOW.

Posted by beauturkey Saturday June 6 2009 at 2:22PM
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Thanks to Aurondir, the best looking, most important and overall coolest guildie is all of my wife's Epic Dolls guild, I will be playing Darkfall as soon as it is downloaded and patched.

Thanks a million, man. Remind me to take you out on a date to like, the dollar movies sometime. Popcorn? Sorry man, it's Darkfall, not Star Trek Online.

But seriously, I'm very excited to play any new game, but especially one that has had such a time coming together. I ain't big on PvP, but not because I don't like it, it's just like any other activity in game and can get boring.

But I will be a spy, and will sell my information to the highest bidder. I will have a boat and a house and will drink tea from the skulls of the fallen. And stuff!

Thanks again man, I'll tell Leala to make you guild leader now.

Beau

Darkfall is very...brown.

Posted by beauturkey Saturday June 6 2009 at 7:48AM
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 I haven't decided to buy the damn game yet, not only because birthday money from Mommy is precious (I need to use some of it to cut off this elf hair to donate to Locks of Love, and to buy things like new dog tags) but because I am up to my ears in games right now. Well, I am ALWAYS up to my wears in games.

 dc_01sized

 My online Brit B.F.F. (besides Shuttler and the VanMatLock boys) Jay Jay the Wonder Biscuit (which means cookie in  their language) has told me that it is a lot of fun, and that plenty of players from Vanguards' Sartok server are playing it in groups. (If I am lucky, I will play and be called "SOE fanboi" over and over as they "rape" me.) Other than that, I would love to be able to sneak around. The simple act of disabling overhead names means that you can actually hide from players. Jay Jay told me that he actually heard horses approaching, hid in the bushes like a baby, and they rode past.

 I want to play so that I can spy...just poke around spying on people like some kind of Orcish peeping tom. Maybe my information would be handy to someone, but maybe not. Either way, it'd be fun not having to worry about level and stuff, and playing in combat that (from what I know) plays a lot likeSpellborn.

 At the very least, I would get a months use of of the thing. After that, PVP wears thin, unless of course the community supports role-playing factions and "Immersion" style playing (not using voice chat to help spy, stuff like that.) But I doubt it. I would bet that there is practically no one role-playing in the game. I always hear players tell me that they know of role-players, but not one has told me that they do it themselves. Kind of like the answer you get when you ask "...who just farted??"

 Anyway, we'll see. The game does look beautifully brown, kind of like that new Terminator movie. Looks nice, though, so maybe I can skip donating my hair to cancer ridden children to buy access to a magical world beyond imagination (tm.)

 

 Beau Turkey

 

 

 

 

Hitting level 35 in real life.

Posted by beauturkey Friday June 5 2009 at 6:16PM
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That's right, my birthday is this weekend, and I will be 35. It's a good year to ask myself why I continue to act the same as I did when I was 20, but I'll not be so hard on myself. After all, I have fun, and when I finally log out for the last time I can say for a fact that I had a very full experience.

How do I stay young at heart? (I'm pretending I'm not a grumpy old dude most of the time)

1) NO KIDS: That's right, no children, ever, never, forever. I told a lady the other day that me and the wife have always been on the very same page about not having kids, and she told me how sad it was. I assured her that it was not sad, but rather very happy because I save time, money and sanity.

2) Stay in touch with modern things: Technology, entertainment, politics, and (I wish) fashion. I watch the news, read a lot of books, talk to as many people as I can, and maintain friendships with people all over the world.

3) Playing lots of games: I play everything! The last thing I would do is play one game over and over, for a few years! If I wanted a second job, I would have a kid. Variety is the spice of life, as well as in your virtual one.

4) Love who you're with: I can honestly say that me and Leala actually like each other. We have fun together, we hang out, do things..you know, stuff that people that like each other do.

5) Exercise: I walk a few miles a day, do not smoke and rarely drink (anymore.) It's been proven that trying new forms of physical exercise can actually help your brain stay younger, being that you are asking it to form new pathways thanks to the new activities, so I try different things.

I used to tour with a band, smoke and drink and party, and used to stay up till 3am and sleep till noon. While that is something we all do when we are younger, it does not lend itself well to organizing yourself and getting things done. My art is a great stress reliever, as well as writing, and I didn't have time to draw or write before when spent all my time playing drums.

The idea seems to be to do as much as you can, and in as many different ways as you can. Explore, be open to new areas and types of people. Do things.

Other than that, I seriously feel better than I have ever felt in my life, physically and mentally. I don't know why, but it might have something to do with my imagination getting such a work out with these games!

Also, it helps to avoid changing diapers.

Beau Turkey

Even your subscription is a form of RMT.

Posted by beauturkey Friday June 5 2009 at 3:29AM
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There are a few reasons why players seem to really dis-like RMT, but from most of my experience, it comes down to these main three:

1) Players that spend money in cash-shops (I use cash shop to indicate any form of RMT, meaning actual cash-shops or character purchasing services just like in EVE) gain some sort of "advantage" over players that do not spend the extra money.

2) Cash shops encourage addictive spending.

3) Non-spending players, and their accomplishments, are devalued.

First of all, in order for most of these arguments to work, you must establish a certain set of rules or goals that MMORPG's set, in order for there to be something to "succeed" at legitimately so that someone can "cheat" by buying their way to that goal.

diablo

But there are no Golden Rules or Golden Goals in any of these MMO's. The closest any MMO comes to are in games that are only actual competition, like in kart racing mmo's or pvp-only games, but those games are very very rare.  Even then, there are ways to play that do not fall within the boundaries of the goal, and many players playing in many different ways.

For an example, a game like WAR might be talked about as though PVP is the way to "win" at the game. But, that is not the only thing to do in the game, and even within pvp there are goals that can be set by the player (i.e. playing naked, racking up deaths instead of kills.) In WAR you can do PVE content and have a grand time, and in most MMO's you will hardly ever HAVE TO do anything. The only way an MMO can force a goal on you is to stop you from playing their game if you do not play within a certain set of rules. The name of the game(s) is to exist within the world, not to do certain activities.

That's why checkers sucks as an MMO: there are no choices, and only one true goal.

In a game like Vanguard or WoW, for example, many players say that the "goal" is to "beat" the end-game. Of course, that is only true for those players that decide to attempt that goal, and not for players that simply do other things.

(In a funny side example, my ex co-host Luper had asked lead developer Silius for some visual variety in a certain classes highest level uber armor, and he simply answered by telling her that if you go after a certain set of armor, you might look the same as the other players going after that same armor.  In that case, yes, there is a set of rules, guidelines and standards, but only followed by those wanting to play in those very strict boundaries.)

Things like official leader boards or progression threads are used as evidence to prove that the game developers themselves give in to the idea that "end game" is the true goal of the game, but those are just tools, and again are only useful to those players that want to live in that section of the game.

All this is to say that even the most basic MMO has not only a million things to do and variables OF those things according to each player, but a rare few MMO's have one official goal or activity that everyone MUST do. Can a player gain advantage over another player within certain spheres of play using cash shop items? Of course. But let's talk about some examples of things that players have been doing, since the beginning, to gain an "advantage". This is a small list, but I will promise you that most players, even the toughest RMT critics, have done one or several things on this list. Most of the "advantage" criticisms come from a financial stand point, meaning that most critics feel like one player can gain an advantage simply using real life money.

1) Buying/using a second account: Since the beginning players have been using two or more "extra" accounts for dual (or more) boxing, or for the extra inventory space. I know, personally, several players that cannot stand any form of RMT yet have been using dual accounts for years. Guess what? Spending an extra 15 dollars a month on an extra account (for space or for dual boxing) is the exact same thing as spending 15 dollars a month on "extra inventory space" items from a cash shop or as buying characters. Whether the player has to level the character or not does not matter.

2) Purchasing a better connection (ISP's will provide a higher bandwidth connection for more money) or better PC equipment: How is this NOT an advantage? For all those that would laugh at this idea, none of them can deny that a better connection and a better PC can physically, more than anything, effect performance. If you are lagged out, it doesn't matter what level you are. Yet, according to some critics of cash shoppin', spending an extra thousand on a better PC is nowhere near the sin of buying an extra health potion. In fact they would be right and ironically this example proves my point in favoring cash shops by saying that the developers cannot control how far players will go to actually gain an advantage, and many have been purchasing advantages for years.

3) Purchasing a "limited edition" or "collectors edition" game: This is the most blatant form of RMT that most critics participate in. Yet, this is never seen as cash-shoppery, although in this case it is literally an example of a player being able to go to a REAL shop to spend REAL cash. Look at any collectors edition and you will see how they entice players to spend extra dollars for special, in-game items. While me and Leala stood outside of a Game-Stop, waiting for our copy of The Burning Crusade, a super nerd came out of the store with extra copies to sell to players right there in line. One player gave him a few hundred dollars JUST for that limited edition. Some items have actual stats and look cool, (see the special cloak that came with the Mines of Moria limited edition) making that real money transaction all the more delicious.

These are just basic examples, but anyone can see that the principle is the same. As soon as you hand over cash to a company in return for virtual goods, even if those virtual goods are a pass to play for a certain amount of time, you are participating in RMT.

Even your avatar in most MMO's is a form of cash-shoppery.

When you start out in almost any MMO, you have already paid 50 dollars for a box. What do you get for those 50 dollars? Certainly not just "access" as many critics would put it. You get a character, maybe a few special items, and of course all the newbie gear (in most MMO's, not all though) that you can handle.

Most would laugh at newbie gear being considered for anything more than well, newbie gear, but the actual value of that gear is not set to "low." I know many players that held on to their beginning gear out of sentimentality, (the equivalent of a fluff pet) and a player could actually use that newbie gear for their entire career. There is no rule that says your gear has to be of a certain stat level, again proving that most MMO's have no rules.

I wish the critics would just come down to say it, but many of them don't: "I don't want another player being either able to kill me faster because of something they bought in the cash shop, or a player to be able to buy something I "worked" hard on to get."  That's fine, just spit it out.

But if we are talking about advantages here, and mainly financial ones, my point is that players have been using money to gain actual advantages since it was OK for a player to stay up for 4 days camping something.

There is no more noble way to spend your cash, or a way that is more or less "cheaty." That doesn't apply because not only are there no official goals (meaning forced by the game)  in most MMO's (look at how much success that brought to Fury) but even within games that have many popular activities, there are ways to play outside of those activities.

Let's not let this argument be about "one player is spending money to gain an advantage.." as though cash shops are the great enabler, allowing the sneaks and the lazy to suddenly bask in the glory that the "hard working" bask in. If anything , cash shops level the playing field so that anyone can play how they want. Everyone has equal choices. (And no, using " Let all the Olympic athletes dope up, then..." argument does not apply. After all, that's real life and dangerous, but in the Olympics you have one finite goal: the gold medal, and one chance to get it. In MMO's you have as many chances as you do lives, and you have countless lives, as well as Gold Medals that never end. There are gold medals available to all who want them.)

One cash shop critic commented (basically) that he thought that most cash-shop games are bad because eventually you are forced to buy something out of the cash shop in order to "succeed." (Of course, there is no over all success, being that a player can set his/her own goals even within official ones...something we cannot do in real life in actual competitions.)

My point in response was to allow him that...the idea that players HAD to buy something eventually. So, why wouldn't he just call it a "subscription with timing freedom"? In other words, a sub that HAD to be paid (just like a regular sub) but only upon reaching the point the "success" was the goal.

Let's face it, there is just something about cash shops that some people will always feel are bad.

But critics have to stop and think of all the things that are actual part of a real money transaction. They need to ask "Is a subscription a form of RMT?" or "Have I ever paid for an in-game item, in a collectors edition? Or, if not, why don't I have an issue with it?" or of course: "Do I have an issue with second accounts/faster PC's/or dual boxing?"

Players have been participating in cash shops (blanket word, people!) since the very beginning. In no game do you only pay for "access." If that was the case, you would log in as a spirit, freely floating about the world, looking for a body. You pay for that avatar, that newbie armor, that free house, that limited edition pet, those special veteran potions you get at a year, and many, many other items.

On a side note: why do so many critics of cash shops seem to forgive EVE and it's blatant example of cash shoppery? As a matter of fact, those defending EVE often have issues with OTHER games that sell entire characters, (Vanguard for example) but forgive EVE. Why?

My gut tells em that EVE has simple nerd cred. That game is often touted as deeper than it is, funner than it is, and more honest. It is said to have "meaningful PVP" (meaning someone can hold your ship still, kill you and take your stuff) and also said to have true "sand box game-play" (set, of course, within the boundaries of space, a ship, and the physical rules of the game.) All of these are true in some way, and false in many other ways. But they did something right to be able to pull off one of the biggest cash-shop infusions and to escape with less criticism than most.

Here, I'll say it: EVE is a cash shop game just like Ether Sage Online, Mabinogi, or Dream of Mirror Online. Actually no, EVE sells entire characters, those examples don't.

Beau Turkey

Spouse Aggro #78: All in one breakfast MMO sandwich.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday June 4 2009 at 5:16PM
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Spouse Aggro #78
Thu, 4 Jun 2009 15:20:00 GMT [download/play]

This week we take a step outside of one of our favorite breakfast spots and enjoy lot's of cars, smog and birds going CAWWWWW CAWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

We are discussing my blog that I wrote in which I told stuffy people to go stuff it when over-analyzing Free Realms. But let's be clear: Van Hemlock are not the ones I meant. Van Hemlock can over-analyze a tack and it would be good to listen to.
I was simply talking to about 5 or 6 very specific bloggers/podcasters that said such silly things as "...the quests are typical MMO drivel..." and "..the game reminded me of a more grindy WoW."

For the record, I was in not referencing Syncaine, but did so in the show because he came over to my blog and commented on why he thought the 2 million user announcement was "funny." (As though he caught SOE red-handed at some kind of cover-up.) Syn is actually a fun guy to argue with, because he is the ANTI-me, he is a RULE-player while I am a ROLE-player. He follows the rules, let's games tell him what to do and thinks that anything outside of those rules counts for nothing. All these rules set in lands that are populated by monsters and faeries, strangely enough.

Still, I can see what he means. But you can find the "evil cover-up" in anything done by any corporation, because the purpose of a large corporation is to make money. There is no cutting off point. But that's not evil, really, that's just life.

So I was addressing weird blogger/podcaster people that seem to think they are holding gaming companies to task, or think that their whining and bitching makes some kind of difference. Even if their whining and bitching influenced a decision at a gaming company, that is neat, but not something to use as a life goal. Again, we are talking about VIDEO GAMES here.

Video games are meant to be enjoyed. If you do not enjoy them to the point that you are always bitching about them (a little bitching is healthy and normal), you are weird. Get a hobby that you LIKE.

Now, enjoy the show. I wish we would have taken a picture of the tan lady, being that she seriously looked like she had a problem. I am a funny looking guy, and don't judge people on their looks, but this lady was so tan that she was obviously addicted.

The music on the show comes from all sorts of sources. the jazz tune being from a dude named Paul Bley. The song was called "Time will Tell." I love stuff like that, to a point. I want to buy the soundtrack from the movie "Naked Lunch" based on the book by Billy Burroughs.

Then I threw in the beginning "song" from Anarchy Online, one of the BEST ways to fade into game-play in any MMO.

Also, got a lil piano in there from the movie "Amelie."

Enjoy, and contact us:

Send emails to spouseaggro at yahoo dot com.

Website found at spouseaggro dot com.

Twitter name: spouseaggro

Skype name: beauturkey

Now GO LOG IN!

The Turkeys

I admit it: I don't actually play MMOs.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday June 3 2009 at 10:21AM
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That's right, I'm coming clean.

I don't play these games in most ways that would be considered "playing." I have realized that this is the main reason I find myself in forum fights, blog comment wars and email tickle-fests (that last one is fun, though) about once a week. I don't really get someone that doesn't play like I do, and they don't get me.

I don't log in and do really anything "normal"...I am a weirdo. I like to do things like:

1) ...sing and dance along with a pre-scripted band event. "Live?" No. Fun as Hell? Yes. If I didn't have to walk the doggies, I would have sang and danced all night. I was dancing in my chair and Leala was dancing while she played WoW.

patrtayy

2) ...do not repeat content much. Once I run a quest, I don't enjoy running it too many times more. Like, maybe once more, depending. While I am enjoying Vanguard again, repeating quests is no fun. This is perhaps why I would make the worst raider, ever. In most raids, they don't role-play through the content but rather they BURN through the content as fast as possible. The goal is to get to the end, period. If I had to not only repeat content every night but repeat it in 5th gear, it would drive me mad .

3) ...role-play, but even that is done in a weird way: I don't like standing around talking about my loss of memory. I don't want to spend all night in a tavern talking about tragedy. I want my characters to be relatively happy normal individuals that happen to be existing in strange circumstances. I want my characters to be me, not a prince or a pervert or someone with a 75 page bio. Role-play seems to be an exercise in drama most of the time, and frankly I don't want to be that dramatic. I want to get on with the business of the everyday lives of my characters, and don't want to spend that much time talking about it.

4) ....explore, get into trouble, meet people: You know, those things that you might do if suddenly you were magically transported into a magical realm where you could shoot fireballs out of your butt and could AVOID DEATH. The last thing I would do is the same thing, over and over. I would be like a kid in a candy store, but on speed. Hell, in real life I explore and have fun as long as it is safe and...you know, fun.

I admit it, I rarely follow along with what the game tells you to do. But isn't that the beauty of most MMO's? It comes from the ability to do what you want, and even within certain tight boundaries you still have a lot of freedom!

To me, a good MMO tries to act like a real world, a "second life." That would explain the popularity of crafting, shopping, exploring and all those activities that you would do in real life if you had the chance and could not die. I love the fact that many of these games are indeed a miniature society, but I wonder how many players stop to meet other players, go to events or try to participate in the game as though it IS a society? I think most players will participate in an event, but soon after they will go right back to locking themselves away in a dungeon or a guild hall.

But, all those "normal" activities have merit too. I just like to balance most of them with doing anything I can think of, and pushing the boundaries of what you can do in a game. It's not daring or cool, but it is fun.

So, there ya go. I am not a player. I do not really play anything, but just stumble my way through all of them. I might find myself in the middle of an adventure, then turn around to meet some new people to attend a dance with, then I go off to practice mining, only to take a ride on a ship.

I can't help it, something about many of these games just brings out the wide eyed wonder in me.

Beau Turkey

Designing MMOs for the Blind. (Yes, I'm serious.)

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday June 2 2009 at 9:52AM
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I have been reading a lot about assistance dogs lately, and how they can help a blind person go from taking several hours to do something to someone that can do pretty much what everyone else can do.

Dogs can now sniff out cancer cells, help detect seizures, and can help bust drug runners. Thanks to an animal that we domesticated thousands and thousands of years ago, people can do things they never thought possible. In one article a man talked about his experiences as a blind marathon runner, and about the dog that made it possible.

I have also read stories about blind people and the bodies ability to compensate for the lack of sight by kicking the other senses into high gear, allowing a better sense of smell and hearing. Many blind people can navigate crowds and can do activities that we "sighted" people can, thanks to their ability to see without eyesight.

daredevil

And now games are getting better and better at mimicking the real world. NPC AI is getting more and more sophisticated, sound design is getting more robust and realistic and even touch is becoming a part of certain interfaces.

So think about it: how could a blind person, or a person with limited sight, play an MMO? This is an exercise in imagining, but also an exercise is what is very possible either now or in the very near future. Let me just give an example of real game-play that could happen within a matter of only years:

Bob is blind, and loves to play "Dragon Loot Online." He logs in using voice recognition software, and tells the computer to pick out his favorite character for his session. Bob can also type in information if he needs to. Once in, the surround sound in his headset tells him he is in an Inn, and he locates the bartender thanks to the sound of clattering glass and cloth wiping wood.

"Hey, barkeep.." he types, and his character says it, in game. The bartender recognizes the keyword and responds with his own voice: "Yeh, whatcha' want?"  "Do you have any information about the dragon?" says Bob and the barkeep responds to the keyword and reads out the quest information.

Armed with information, Bob calls out his pet, Phyllis. Phyllis is a dragon trained to navigate Bob through the world, and Bob is tethered to the dragon, and can hear the dragon.

Off they go after Bob has told the dragon where he wants to go: "To the east gate."

As they approach the gate, Bob can hear the shuffling of suspicious feet behind him. He tells Phyllis to stop, to go into aware mode. He hears Phyllis growling and can feel the vibration of her tension in his interface. "What do you want?" asks Bob. The NPC responds to the question with: "..your wallet, good sir!" and immediately Bob goes into combat mode, hitting a key that pulls out his audio spellbook. Within the spellbook are spells that are cast using a series of audio tones, and the spells are more accurately cast when Bob copies the tones faster and with more precision. As he hears the thief pull out his sword, Bob hits the key sequence for his fire shield spell, copies it perfectly (the game has "sung" the tone sequence to him) and with such precision that it gains a buff to damage. The thief is hit, and is attacked by Phyllis as well.

Now, most of this technology exists right now, and in many games audio is an important game-play factor. One thing that makes me want to play Darkfall, for example,  is the ability to HEAR when a player is pulling back a bow, or the problem with heavy armor clanking as you try to sneak up on someone.

Surround sound is already out there, and we all have stories of the sound in a game giving us the chills! Right now in Free Realms, you "draw" on the screen to give commands to your pet dog. One only needs to imagine "singing" to your dog to do the same. EQ2 has fantastic voice acting and you don't need a very big stretch of the imagination to picture the NPC recognizing your speech.

A blind player could also respond to a vibration from a mouse, and could use voice recognition to talk to NPC's. (Something EVERY player will use one day.) So the technology for this is not that far-fetched, if at all. And think about it: players already use AoE spells in combat, and already do things to defend themselves that do not involve having to SEE the enemy.

In developing games that have all types of players in mind, developers will create tools and systems that are good for everyone, open the player-base to all types of players (variety is healthy,) and will push technology into the future!

I frequent http://www.ablegamers.com/ and I am always floored at the innovation at some of these gamers. They find ways to play, sometimes having to make their own devices. Seeing some of the technology that is being used by disabled players makes me confident that even players that cannot SEE will one day be able to play along aside of his friends, and do pretty well while at it.

After all, people will say that a blind person cannot run a marathon or many other things that we sighted people can. But thanks to technology, innovation and our use of the natural gifts our bodies give us when we need them, we might log in to conquer dragons with Bob one day very soon.

Beau Turkey