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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

Is Fallen Earth a "Ryzom 2.0"?

Posted by beauturkey Monday November 30 2009 at 11:28AM
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Before you read this, go play Ryzom or Fallen Earth if you have not already. Give it a week or two, and come back.

There.....better? For those of you that have played both, good for you. You are maintaining a healthy balanced diet of games, something that every gamer should do. Keep in mind while you read this that I am not attempting to say one game is better than the other. They are both fantastic games. I am simply pointing out some of the cool similarities and neat differences between the two games, and wondering if FE is a more advanced  "Ryzom-ish" game.

Let's just get right to the comparisons. Of course, I will probably get off on a tangent or two, but stick with me.

1) Environments: While Fallen Earth's setting couldn't be more unoriginal and semi-bland, Ryzom shines as one of the most unique and beautiful games out there. And that's after 5 years! But both worlds are unforgiving and harsh. Ryzom is beautiful, but even traveling from one city to another is an exercise in stealth and excitement. And the Earth of Fallen Earth is barren and ugly, and acts like a desert should. In both worlds there is a sense of the world being against you in many ways, and dealing with the environment is just one of the struggles. While FE gives more of an impression of this struggle, though, Ryzom literally delivers with the best weather system in MMO'ing (with Mabinogi as a close second) with rain effects and storms and seasons that literally effect what you can harvest, what animals might be around and visibility.

foto_ryzom

2) Mounts: Ryzom, once again, was ahead of it's time when it came to mounts. They stayed in the world when your character didn't, they could die and they carried your stuff. The only thing missing (remarkably so in both games) is the ability to name your mount. (All this work into making mounts so "realistic" and you cannot even name them!) And Fallen Earth has taken a cue or two from Ryzom: their mounts can die, have "stamina" and need "refueling", and can carry items. But, FE took it a step further and has allowed you to buff/heal your mount. Still, no /follow command for your mount in FE? It happens in Ryzom, so why can't your horse simply follow you in FE? Either way, it's too bad neither game has taken it the way of Mabinogi's mounts, and allowed them to fight with you!

3) Housing: Not an issue for either game. While Ryzom does have housing, it's nothing extraordinary. FE has none to speak of, but will supposedly be adding "camps" which will make for a temporary house, along with an NPC (rumor) that will walk out of the mist to barter with you.

4) Lore: The Lore of both games is great and well-written, and FE seems to have taken from Ryzom with the time-line presentation and the sense of survival after a "fall." It's not really that either game is doing anything massively original with the Lore (save for the setting in Ryzom) but that's OK. It's solid and nice to read, if that's your thing. I tend to stay away from just reading the Lore because I feel as though there would be gaps in information for the characters, just like in this real world. There are real-life humans that cannot name the last 10 presidents of the US, so what makes anyone think that a character would know each faction inside and out?

5) Combat: Both games are "skill based," meaning that you have the ability in each to customize your character's abilities to your liking. In other words, there are no classes. While Ryzom has it's melee/magic/crafting/gathering trees complete with tons of branches to explore, FE seems to have taken it a step further. Not only does FE have it's crafting, but is allowing the player to craft things that Ryzom would be perfect for: food, medicines, fuels. And combat seems to go this way, too. FE has bested Ryzom's combat by allowing more and more choices than you can shake a stick at. Ryzom has basically a select enemy/sit back while enemy is killed/push a few buttons while killing enemy-type of combat, but FE can be played in many different ways. You can shoot a guy to pull him towards you, use an ability on him and then bash him with a stick. You can sneak up, bash him and then fall back to throw a grenade on him, or shoot him from your mount! And with missions in FE and not in Ryzom (save for a very few on the beginner island and a few on mainland), and by allowing everything you succeed at a chance to gain more "ability points," FE makes Ryzom's combat and leveling look pretty basic.

To be honest I am seeing so many similarities between the two games that I am beginning to wonder if some of the developers for FE have worked on Ryzom! (Or just fans of  the game maybe?) And I am seeing several Ryzom long-time players in FE, which is neat.

But what I am loving about FE is that it takes alot of the principles and ideas behind Ryzom (intentional or not, I am not sure) and ramps them up. Not to be rude, but playing FE is like playing  a Ryzom that has been updated. Maybe that's some of the issue: I became so sick of waiting for cool things to come to Ryzom over the last 3 years that the first game that came along with a lot of the same systems and ideas drew me away from Ryzom.

Granted, the new owners of Ryzom are pumping out patches left and right and seem to be planning tons more, but is it a little too little too late? I would like to tell you to maintain a sub to both games, for sure. But don't be surprised if you are playing FE and loving it for the same reasons you love Ryzom:

1) The open character customization.

2) The mature community.

3) The realistic systems.

But also be on the lookout for feelings of regret for Ryzom, that FE might be the game that Ryzom could have, (and might still) become. Kind of sad, but I still have many many hours of wonderful time spent in the wonderful world of Ryzom, and that world came way before Fallen Earth.

Beau

Vanguard: Where it all began, and vampires?

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday November 10 2009 at 11:42AM
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Although I have been blogging/keeping a tour diary for quite a few years, and podcasting for the last 2 and a half or so, the whole hobby kicked into high gear when I decided to start my "Immersion Project". Essentially, it was a set of rules to play by that limited certain forms of chat, and made me and my character slow down. I printed out paper maps, for example, and could only use those in real life to get around (and no in-game map, which I disabled.)

It changed the way I play, permanently. The first thing I do in any game is to remove all information that is a luxury: the mini-map, the quest tracker. To me, as soon as you log into most MMO's you are pummeled with too much information that is easily accessible with a single button. The idea is to get your screen as empty as possible, and to use as much of the NPC's information and layout of the land as you can. Now, I know where everything is in Telon, at least enough to get around in most areas, and this is due mostly to using the map and the landmarks of the game.

picforVblog

But after my main character died (thanks to an experimental perma-death rule that made me delete him and all his items) I took some time off Vanguard. I was writing a lot, anyway, and started to cover other games. Then, more recently, I started to write for www.ablegamers.com, a website for disabled gamers. Through them I have been able to meet major developers, and have been able to cover the biggest and best games with the hopes of increasing accessibility in most MMO's. (I am going to be reviewing Vanguard for the site soon.)

I played browser games, and pretty much every single F2P game I could get my hands on. I still love most of those games, but I missed playing VG.

So, I re-subbed for the first time in months.

Now, this happened after a huge binge of browser based games, amazing ones like Fusion Fall and Faunasphere, and after I finally stepped up to 2005 and bought Oblivion for the 360. As I played Oblivion, I noticed how the world felt similar to Telon, namely when I would be doing the a very specific thing: riding my horse, on a stone road, at night. The sound, the look of the stones at night, the grand layout of the hills and water, all reminded me of traveling through Telon.

So, as soon as I played Vanguard on my newly re-born main, I felt like I had stepped into "Oblivion Online."

It was a nice feeling, and I am glad I did it.

So, I need to re-tweek my Immersion Rules. Every so often I do that, I adapt them to a new schedule or new idea. I decided to write an "add-on", though, and even though it had been over-done now-a-days, I want to include a "rule-set" concerning vampires. Now look, I am not into that whole vamp thing, with the silly switchblade teeth and long haired guys with goatees, or the "they move really fast" type thing. All this new Vampire stuff is plain silly, and presents vampires as though they are leather-wearing, industrial music loving, mid-90's d-bags that have their canines WHERE CANINES ARE NOT.

The Rules, tweeked:

1) Only certain forms of travel allowed. No instant travel to homes or home areas. I do not use riftways. Only horsey, boat or walking.

2) Only realistic forms of chat, such as /say channel, /shout channel and letters. (Unless the game explains it, like a sci-fi game. The idea here is to use “old school” forms of communication. ) The chat channel covers this, with some flexibility.  If I am asked by a newbie some random OOC question, I won’t ignore him/her. But, I rarely if ever poke my nose into the main chat. My tab is only set on /shout or /say. I usually set a /tell response message that says I am playing that way.

3) Only allow a recall a limited amount of times per month. I will only allow one recall to one place once a week. (Recall meaning instant travel to guild house/house/home point.) I use this sparingly anyway. If I find out I have mail, I will usually go home the old fashioned slow way.This recall usage is to allow for something like being late to a role-play event, or to a in-game meeting. Once, I had to get to the beginning of an event to cover it for the blog, and I used a recall to get there faster.

4) Use “role-play” speech. Not thus and thou’s, but try to avoid “this reality (Hang on, my cell phone is ringing)" speech and references. Try to stay in character. I do this, save for someone like Faeran or any other person that knows me in “real life.” Even then, we usually maintain a certain RP stance when others are around. Of course, I RP to strangers/new people, and at events. Not to say that me and my friends do not RP, but that when one needs to ask me about something real-life, we allow it.

5) Realistic trade: your character has to make a living. Trade is the most common, in a “real life” setting. So, with a little adventuring, I will be a trader. Rikoo is a trader, but while he re-learns everything that was lost when he died, he is adventuring. Meanwhile, his alts raise money to buy him a new boat.

6 ) A “home base.” I have to nominate (my home will be the place in some games, or a certain inn in others) a place that will act as my true home. I can only check my mail there, and have to go there or an inn to log out. For now, Rikoo is homeless. He stays in Inns, but his mail comes to Khal.

7) Only use a physical, blank map that needs to be filled out by me, in real life. Use landmarks and the lay of the land to get around. This has proven to be MUCH more difficult than I thought. But FUN! (Some games need to put out BLANK MAPS officially!) If the game explains maps, try and use it minimally to encourage landmark usage and actual (gasp) memorizing of the landscape. I have found my physical map for VG, and use it alot. I love those things.

8 ) MODs: I use no mods in VG, save for taking information away.

9) Weather: If the MMO has a good weather system, or at least a good ENOUGH weather system as well as a good day/night cycle (if the game world has day/night) then there must be realistic limits put on how long a character can adventure without rest. Even heroic characters need rest.
For example, my little Raki ranger in Vanguard is not a hero. He stumbles through fights and barely escapes alive. I will allow him one and a half day’s adventuring MAX before he needs to rest. And to rest he would need to find a campfire, a house, or some other shelter and either physically lay down or at least restrict his movement for at least another cycle of day or night. (Of course, the timing will be tweaked.)
If the weather becomes poor, but is not that bad, my character can adventure like normal, but would need to cut his adventuring time down by half a day. If the weather becomes SEVERE, he (or she!) would need to find shelter or a campfire. He would need to rest there until the weather passes. I am still working on penalties if he cannot find shelter.

I find shelter easily enough in VG. If the storm persists, I sit and eat, or organize my bags. I just chill, like in real life. I have added on that I will, if stuck in a storm, walk instead of run to represent a penalty. I wish there were a mod that would do all this for me.

10) Food: Some MMO’s (like EQ2) will already tell you when your character is hungry and thirsty. I will have to check in most of my current MMO’s but there will be a set amount of time for my character to go before he needs to rest and eat. Possibly after half a day of adventuring would he need to rest and eat a meal. I am still working on this one. WoW has a built in timer for play, so I can set it to ding when I need to eat again. Does anyone know how food can be timed in VG? Buffs will work, but so many of them are so short-lived.

So, what about vampires? I will avoid making rules concerning leather pants, but here is my first attempt:

1) Only go out at night! This one is obvious, and Vanguards days/nights last (from what I believe) about 30 minutes. During my 30 minutes of day, I can craft, sleep or organize.

2) Wear no silver! Lot's of silver items out there, and I will wear none. This does away with a lot of weapons/blades, but I think Rikoo will stop using blades altogether. He doesn't use them ever (he is a ranged Ranger) and although he might miss some of the stats, he has preferences.

3) Vampires need blood! There are blood items in-game, and the "victims" can also be animals. I will look into this one, it sounds fun.

I am looking to add other rules, and I believe there used to be an actual Vampire de-buff/buff that happened in game. We talked about it on an older show, so I might look into that again.

Anyway, I look forward to playing around with more rules. I just keep finding fun in my gaming, and this is no exception!

Beau

Darkfall paints itself into a neat little corner.

Posted by beauturkey Sunday November 8 2009 at 10:01AM
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I have always tried to predict where the developers of Darkfall might take the game, but they have done a nice job of throwing some curve-balls out there. Let me point out first that I am not currently subbed to the game and I want to wait for ataril to play it again. I had my time with the game, (a few months ago I spent a month in game) and enjoyed it to a point but was thrown off by the few bad apples that are allowed to be openly bad apples. If you have a party and allow fighting, maybe one percent of your visitors will fight. But, those very fewoccurrences of violence will ruin everyone elses good time.

 Having said that, it doesn't take a huge fan of the game to see that they are doing nice things, and are taking their time to do it right. Well, they are attempting to do it right, but mistakes will happen. But, like I always say, if they don't make mistakes they aren't trying anything new.

 My friend Jay Jay the Wonder Biscuit recently posted about new expansion talk for the DF world, and it looks awesome. More mobs out in the world? That would be good. The place was as dead as a doornail a few months ago.They are listing more improvements on top of that, but the out-in-the-world mobs turned my head the most. The game was so barren that traveling was an exercise in staying awake, and when you finally found a random mob, they acted so similar to each other that you would rather run away that fight another boring fight. So, the mobs in the world thing alone would bring me back.

 I think the developers are doing wonderful things, but let me list some things that I think will always stand in the way of Darkfall:

 1) The open PvP: This is not a bad thing, and in fact delivers exactly what the developers promised. It's not that PvE'ers will stay away because they are scared of getting pwned and looted (loot meant nothing when I played, and still means nothing. Players just run around naked in many battles.) but they are scared of being bothered. It's not more complicated than that. It's not scary when some kid jumps around in front of your vision in the hopes of being hit by you, or when his name "420NaziHumper420" or "GayTard34" is stuck on your screen, or when you might be in the middle of doing something actually fun only to be attacked and killed by a group of 3 other players, and it's not the "death penalty" because there is absolutely none (the game is a MMOFPS essentially, you die andrespawn/die respawn/die respawn) it's the simple annoying feeling that open pvp brings. While the game is beautifully rendered and has amazing lighting and shadow effects, your sense of immersion is immediately broken when a player named "BlackC*k" decides to follow you around. For an hour. There is nothing hardcore in a PvP system like this, it is actually about as hardcore as a hardcore rock show, meaning that it is really justa bunch of boys rubbing against each other.

 2) The system requirements: While it does not take a super-computer to run the game, it does take a pretty beefy one. The shadows and effects simply must be on to really see how pretty this game is, but that takes power. I ran it well enough on this larger PC, but my 2 and a half year old one didn't do it. It might seem obvious to require the latest hardware to run your game, but one look at how successfulWoW is (or Wizard 101 for that matter) will show you that lower system requirements means more machines that can run your game. More machines equals more players.

 3) The lack of a trial: This will probably come out at some point, but a simple 10 day trial will not only bring new players to the game but will bring the game out of the "indie" closet. More trial players means more reviews/blogs/podcasts about the game, and more buzz. I will promise you that the most common "buzz" around this game is about how most of the players listen to Nu Metal bands likeGodsmack and want to "rape" other players.

 The good news? The developers of Darkfall don't seem to care that anyone else thinks. They are making a game for this very small, very male community. That's fine to me, and in the end the game really deserves more praise than it gets. It is fantastic looking, is veryimmersive and so far the developers have proven that updates will be frequent enough and great.

 But, if you compare this game to EVE (another "pvp" game that is actually not a pvp  game) you can see why EVE is succeeding, and how similar the two games are.

 a) Both are "open PvP", but in EVE there are places you can go to get away from those annoying players.

 b) EVE looks great, but gives you options for graphic quality. Even on low settings, however, the game looks good. Darkfall on low settings looks...well, it looks like Darkfall on low settings.

 c) EVE has a trial, and a good one at that. While both games are accused of having a "big learning curve" (one of the biggest lies about both), EVE explains themselves and their game whileDarkfall can be clunky, with bloated controls. 

 So, good luck to Darkfall once again. I think the game developers are being smart in growing the game slowly and accurately. They are squarely pointing their sites on a very specific group of players (white boys, age 17-25,pvp'ers, fans of bad metal) but have been attracting players outside of that group. My friend Jay, for example, likes good music and doesn't even have a goatee! (Wait, do you?) It's nice to see a game doing what it said it would do, and I will be sure to play it some more in the future. I enjoyed it quite a bit when I played, and feel that it might actually be one of the closest games to come to a reallyimmersive experience, but I just don't feel like bothering with more annoying players.

 

 Beau

 

 

Screw it, I had to chime in on the WoW pets thang..(..old beat up issue...)

Posted by beauturkey Friday November 6 2009 at 5:51PM
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As if anyone could not guess as to how I feel about it.

First of all, WoW is far behind the times. They still have very few features that most games out there do have. This is another example of them catching up to 2005. Still, the game is fun and runs wonderfully, so congrats to them.

Here are the main problems players have with the pets being sold for 10 dollars:

1) They already pay for content, to the tune of 15 dollars a month and 50 dollars per expansion: For some reason, many think that this cost of 15 dollars a month and 50 dollars for an expansion should be the measuring stick for what all should value. Who are they to say? I am not sure why they think this. What about server transfers? What about sex changes, dual accounts or limited edition goodies? Are these somehow not "extra content" that they paid for?Expansions are not forced OR needed, they are OPTIONAL CONTENT.

2) They think that a mount or a new area to explore is real content, while a pet is not: An expansion equals real content, and should be paid for by all. A pet is not real content, and should be given away for free.

I actually DO agree with the idea that a pet is not EQUAL in value to an EXPANSION filled with new lands and new quests. But that does not mean that it does not hold that much value for SOMEONE ELSE. And, WoW knows this. That's why the expansion is 50 dollars while the pet is 10. Players seem to think that raiding is somehow included in the cost of the game, yet they are setting that cost to INCLUDE THE EXPANSIONS. The expansion were extra content (pets are too) that cost extra (just like pets.)

That's all there is to be said. This subject is so old that even I am tired of it, and I LOVE to argue about it. WoW players: the rest of the world is cool with this. The game will go on, and you will not unsubscribe. You will keep playing, and will probably break down to buy one of the pets. After all, unless I am mistaken, aren't they for CHARITY? No one will make fun of you if you buy it, and no one else's game will be effected, just like when you buy that extra account, that limited edition (to get IT'S pet) or when you spend an extra 400 bucks to make your connection AND your PC faster.... speaking of real money advantages.

You will continue to sub, I should say, until the expansion comes out. Then, guess what? You will spend an extra 50 bucks on that content (just like the pet collector did.)

So, you spend money, you get some fun.

They spent money on a pet, and got some fun.

There is absolutely no difference. Nothing game-changing or destroying.

Ok, I need to shower.

Beau

Explaining the Free Realms announcements.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday November 4 2009 at 11:58AM
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First things first.

Is Free Realms no longer going to be completely, totally and absolutely 100 % FREE? It never was in the first place. And if you made your CHARACTER (not account) before Nov 1st, nothing will change for you: you can mostly play for free but would need to subscribe to gain access to all the other stuff. Same deal as before.

Second things second: go read the official post. Carefully.

Now, what does this mean? Basically, all players new to the game after this update will have to pay a sub to play the jobs above level 4. Erm, 5. You know what I mean. How many of us, though, have already not only made a character before November 1st, but also have played the game? Heck, I still play the game. In fact, I will bet that most protests come from people that never really played the game, called the game "kids stuff" and laughed at it, or thought that the game sucked. In other words, the SOE bashers will have another reason to use the letters "NGE". I have already witnessed it.

But, read the blog carefully, and you will see that two of the jobs will remain 100% free till the end: "Characters created after November 1st, 2009 will be able to play all jobs up to level 5 and Adventurer and Card Duelist all the way to level 20. These characters will also be able to advance through all of the Pet Trainer trophies and earn the exclusive pet."

This means that Free Realms is about as free as many "freemium" games. I don't like it, but I think that they might, JUST MIGHT, be looking at sub numbers and player trends from sources that we are not. SOE has made a lot of dumb decisions in their life-time, but HOW dumb? Nothing so insane that it stopped the company from producing high-quality games, with more coming out? How many years do they need to be around before people recognize that even surviving, mush less doing well, in the MMO world is hard enough to qualify you as a success? And like I said on one of our shows: if they aren't messing up once in a while, that means they aren't trying anything new.

But, to the point: Free Realms, semi-misleading name or not, is fun as hell. It's a great collection of games, activities and "things-to-do." And look at the updates! All of the new items and activities blend so well into the world that it seems as though they had them made before the game ever came out. The costumes for Halloween were incredible! The 4th of July fireworks brought nostalgia to my stomach!

Free Realms, with it's brand tie-ins and "schemes" to get you to pay money (as though they are fooling your feeble mind with Vampire "glamouring") is what it is: a high quality game that can be enjoyed for very, very low costs.

That's it. A super cheap, fun game. Like Wizard 101, Mabinogi, or many other games that actually still give you a ton to do for free, but give you options to pay. Kind of like that expansion or downloadable content with the games that are actually making you pay 15 dollars a month.

Personally, I am so thrilled about the housing. The mini-games can kind of take you out of the world a bit, and housing will give it a depth that other MMO's have, that "living in another world" type of depth. Congrats, SOE, consider me excited.

Beau

Vanguard is the inspiration behind my NaNoWriMo novel.

Posted by beauturkey Sunday November 1 2009 at 9:44AM
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I haven't played Vanguard: Saga of Heroes in a few months. To be honest, I have missed it for quite a while but had to take some time to reset my main character, Rikoo, after he "died" a perma-death and was deleted. It was a fun chapter in my "Immersion Project", but not one I want to repeat again. Perma-death would work in a game that had it built in from the very beginning, and even then it would have to be something less of a permanent death, and would leave some traces of your character behind. In other words, it would really be just another kind of temporary death, and one that allowed the passing of skills or gear on to another character.

But I did re-roll Rikoo with the exact same look and class as the original. He is around level 12 or so and will be back to his original level 32 in no time. I am not sure if I will continue to level him after that or will stop the leveling by using the "no XP" spell that Vanguard provides, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

I joined the "National Novel Writing Month" when I saw a Twitter friend mention it, and for the last few weeks I have been writing a rough draft of the story in my head while on dog walks. Dog walks are one of the best places to write or to conceive a story! I plan on writing about Rikoo and his further struggles with his feelings on death, using his friends and adventure buddies as sounding boards. There will some adventure, and some violence, but I am mostly looking forward to writing about characters that I have had floating around in my head for a long time. There will be Burtimus: the ageless humanoid that helps Rikoo admit his feelings, Luperza: the mage that dabbles in some dark matters, Lealah: the Goblin that kicks a lot of butt, and Grup: the healer that snaps Rikoo back to reality.

I will be using the Vanguard universe as my back-drop, but will not be mentioning any in-game names or places. I will use more vague descriptions as to avoid being sued-as-Hell by SOE, but to any player of the game it will be obvious what I am talking about. To those that don't play, I hope it will be entertaining.

Anyway, I need to write near 1500 words per day, which equals most of my blog posts, so I need to get writing.

Wish me luck, and although I will be blogging it will not be at the normal rate, I think. Instead of 5 or 6 per week, it might get cut down to a few per week. NOTE: I decided after posting this to make a category for the writing in this project, and if you click on the "novel" category, you will be able to follow my writing as it goes along. It is November 1st as of this writing, and I will be posting my first part today. I will edit it as I go along, and I am open to any suggestions! Thank you for reading, and thank you for your patience during this not-so-normal month fro Spouse Aggro.

*pulls out pen and paper*

Beau