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BT's General Gaming Blog

BT takes a unique perspective on gaming, MMOs, and character creation. Through analysis, comparison, and a unique, twisted mindset readers receive the basic rundown.

Author: BlueCadwal

The 8 Most Annoying Party Favors

Posted by BlueCadwal Monday July 27 2009 at 1:09AM
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Rage quit central, and look out because these sorts of parties aren't in short supply.  The most irritating parties that you'll come across.  Odds are you won't find them all at once, but you may find some of them lumped together.

1.  Dude, you're gimping my style!

There's gotta be one of those in every party.  You know the type.  The ones who'll say "ur armor teh suxor", sometimes they'll go so far to even buy you "new armor".  Well, here's a startling news flash, you probably don't know better than anyone else in your party because everyone has their own play style.

Those close to me and myself have all had experience with this type of party.

One time, I even had a party where a member went out of his way to buy me "better weapons" so that I could "deal more damage".  I thanked him, swapped to the new weapon, and took it for a spin for about 5 minutes before switching back.  The gesture was nice, but I already knew what armor I needed.

The lesson?  Know what your classes demand.  A DPS doesn't rely on level adjusted weapons, a DPS relies on stat boosts and greater damage.  If someone has certain gear, ask the reasoning first before you start saying it sucks.  I once had a guild mate ask "Why does X armor add to my enmitty?

2.  Time is XP Lost

This applies both ways whether looking for a party or soloing.  If you invite someone... STICK WITH HIM!  You should know full well how far away someone is before you invite them.  If you know that level 10 player you just invited is at least 10-15 minutes out.

If he starts his trek to you, don't turn around and tell him "you're taking too long, we're going to find someone else" because not only did you waste his time, you wasted your party's.  You've just wasted 10 minutes waiting for him and you wasted 10 minutes that he could've spent doing something better than trying to get to you.

3.  Solo Be, Happy Be

You know those bees poking around flowers by themselves?  You only see them together in the hive, well... MMOs have a tendency to be very similar to that.

If someone is solo, don't go and invite them to a party unless you plan to commit.  When soloing, players will usually have a different setup of gear and macros than they do when they party.  If they are soloing, be prepared to wait some extra time.

Also, don't invite someone to a party if they're not actually looking for one.  If they're not looking for a party, they'll slow you down and your party members will become impatient depending on the setup time.  You can also lump this in with the previous section.  Because solo areas are usually separate from the party areas, there will be down time involved during the arrival process.  This isn't a question, it's a guarantee.

4.  You're Doing It Wrong

If you're noticing that, then you're doing something wrong.  It doesn't matter if you have 500 widgets and gadgets telling you what everyone in the party is doing, if you're noticing someone else's mistakes you're paying too much attention to the rest of the party.

A good party will have a balanced set of dynamics consisting of DPS, Tank, and healers - and that's a highly generalized description.  If you're a tank, your primary concern is keeping the aggro.  That type you spend to notice the DPS not doing "enough damage" as per your standards is time you could be keeping that healer safe.  If they're not doing enough damage, odds are its because they're trying not to pull aggro.

Here's an example from the short time I played WoW.  I was in a party with 5 others including my girlfriend at the time.  Our tank said to me, "you're not carrying your weight, you need to deal more damage."  I looked at my DPS meter and saw myself on top with a total 50k for the night, which was leaps and bounds above everyone else.  I told him I had a pet, which was true... it accounted for a good chunk of my damage, but he denied it categorically and rage quit.  I looked at my girlfriend's DPS counter, and her's had the same rating as mine.

Don't tell someone else how to play.  As long as you're alive, killing monsters, and keeping the aggro off the healer they're obviously doing something right.

5.  Life the Universe and Everything

Its one thing to roleplay with your macros - "Is that roasted <t> I smell?" /cast Fireball - its another thing to just go off and start discussing life, the universe and everything in between during the middle of a fight.  Where is your head?  Is it in life or the fight?  Your party seriously needs to know, because if you're not there then you need to have your head examined.

And no, this doesn't apply to witty remarks that may apply to the monster at hand should it have a silly attribute about it.  In that case its more of a wham bam thank you ma'am scenario where you give the witty remark and move on.

6.  brb, gotta shower

What?  Why are you still in my party?  Don't do something ridiculous in the middle of an active party.  People don't like carrying dead weight.  You don't like it, your party mates don't like it.  If you need to shower, leave the party.  If you need to go to dinner, leave the party.  Its one thing if you're eating at the computer, its totally different when you walk away and leave the PT hanging for 30 minutes.

I'll be honest, I have done this on occassion, but this is only when I know for a fact that I have at least 10 minutes to be AFK during.  For example, looking for replacement party members in a pick-up party can take a long time, especially in FFXI where your party can look for new members for up to 30 minutes some times with a waiting period of 15 more for the people to arrive.

7.  Don't ask, don't tell

It's like the military, except more stringent.  No one cares if you gotta do #1 or #2, if you need to go just say "brb - rr" or something like that.  Something short, sweet and to the point.  Same goes for the aforementioned shower scenario, be tactful with that one - unless you're playing a female character, then you can let the imaginations mostly because there's a good chance that everyone in the PT is a guy.

8.  So Long and Thanks For All the Fish

And what better way to wrap things up than with your own closure... When saying goodbye, follow appropriate protocol.  Some games may just be "Hey guys, gotta go... I'll catch you later" while others may expect you to provide warning or even a replacement.  Just make sure you follow the appropriate procedure.  I can't tell you how many times I've had someone just up and leave a party without saying so much as "thanks for the group"... needless to say those are the ones I block.

Back in Asheron's Call, it was common to have an extraordinary number of players in a single group camping a single spot.  There wasn't a problem with telling everyone "Bye, I'll cya tomorrow" because odds are it'd be the same people you camp with tomorrow.  In FFXI, you let the leader know in advance how much time you have remaining and offer to find a replacement.  In WoW, groups usually have a predetermined goal in mind - running a dungeon or raid - so leaving those groups are much easier than other games.

Your Turn

Now it's your turn to speak out.  What annoyances have you come across while playing with other players?  I'd love to see some annoying experiences that other players have had.

FFXI Populated Server Comparison ~ Valkurm Dunes - UPDATED

Posted by BlueCadwal Friday July 10 2009 at 12:58AM
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Honestly... locking servers is a great concept, but horrible in execution.  Yes, in the short term you'll reduce the number of players in the server, but in the long term you lose the point of allowing people play different jobs that are added down the road.

I'm going back through different jobs now and trying to level them up, but without a steady influx of new players the low level areas are deadzones.  The past 4 days I have spent hours on end trying to find a party, but its a mute point because there aren't any forming.  I found one party, which happened to have a player whom I partied with a year ago while leveling my dragoon.

It was fun and deja vu, but it's not enough to make me want to stay unless Odin reopens.

Since I'm looking to relocate, I decided to make this post for anyone looking to either join FFXI or restart.  I did this check between the hours of 12am and 12:30am EST.  You can add between 20-30% of the overall population to the actual numbers I give.  Also, I only gave numbers for Valkurm Dunes because you can usually judge the party health by how healthy the lowest levels are.


The first on my journey toward a new home, and 6th on the list over at FFXIAH for most populated.  This was a pleasing experience as there were 96 people between levels 10 and 20, with 16 of them in Valkurm... I suspect these were the 16 that I could see.  To make the experience even more pleasant, two very kind individuals stopped to talk to me.

I'm already somewhat bias toward this server now because two people took time to talk to me about their experiences.  Though one of them said they liked Bahamut more, so... my next stop is Bahamut.


Well, this one is a huge jump in the FFXIAH coming in Rank 3.  

Correction... I will not be checking Bahamut.  It's closed to new players.  Grr... not fun.


With two servers down, I have 4 to go.  Next up, Asura.  Currently at the top of the list on FFXIAH.  I may shy from this server simply because it is at the top of the list.  That's the same reason I joined Odin in the first place, and now the server is on lockdown.  The last thing I need is for another server to close down keeping me from leveling up another job.

The server had a full 189 people online between level 10 and 20 at midnight (EST).  Although I couldn't see all of them, 18 of them were in Valkurm Dunes.

That's reassuring, but once again... I don't want to have to worry about the server closing.


With Asura out, I moved on to Titan, which is ranked 4th on FFXIAH.  82 people between level 10 and 20 with at least 18 of them in Valkurm.  Basically equivalent to Fenrir.  Nothing too spectacular really stands out here.  The numbers are even with Fenrir.


Last server on the list and rank 5 on FFXIAH.  This server shows 9 in Valkurm 75 total at 12:32 AM (EST), the list has been shortened though, so there may be another 6-10 between levels 16 and 20.

This was where the original conclusion of this post was.  I have updated and revised the servers to include the actual Top 6 rather than the Total Transactions.


I just wanted to revise this post.  After looking at the FFXIAH page a little bit, I realized that the number of active characters does not correspond to the number of transactions.  Since I'm going back and revising the list, I'm adding all the servers in the revised list as well.  This list was revised during EU prime time.  You can assume that there is approximately a 5-10% margin of error to the numbers provided.

Top 6 Servers Based on Active Characters

Server Name Total Transactions Total Characters Active Characters
Bahamut 5.129.035 63.484 15.184
Odin 5.323.657 67.435 15.085
Phoenix 4.703.474 53.148 14.533
Ragnarok 4.653.946 51.969 14.171
Shiva 4.874.606 52.268 14.133
Fenrir 5.751.043 58.504 13.708

As you can see, Asura does not even make the list, which makes my original test horribly flawed since it was based on the total transactions.  I believe that the numbers provided are more or less up-to-date as a year ago Odin was at approximately 53k and Asura was at approximately 48k which is how I decided upon my server when I returned to FFXI last year.


Since a lot of players seem to gravitate toward this server, I figured I'd check it out.  It would seem that this server has a lot of new players, it's comparable to Fenrir in that respect.  During the EU primetime, there are about 72 people between level 10 and 20 with at least 5 Valkurm parties running.  The list was shortened to the levels ranging from 10-15, so there may have been more parties around.  13 of these players had no subjob, and could then be classified as either an alt or a new player... either way there were new characters on this server.


This is one of the servers that was not originally on my testing list since it was not in the "Top 5 (Plus Fenrir)".  I'm expecting this one to have the most new players because on the server select list it is at the top a majority of the time that I've restarted my test characters.  If I were a new player to the game and had no opinion on server selection I would do one of two things... pick my favorite name OR pick the top server, and Phoenix more or less falls into both categories.

My theory was correct, with a whopping 108 people between level 10 and 20.  The list was shortened to 10-13 and 14 of those were new characters with no subjob.


I'm expected a lot of new players here again just because of the name, but it turns out I was wrong.  There were only 83 players on this server between level 10 and 20.  The cutoff was level 15 and 12 of the players did not possess a subjob.  There were at least 6 Valkurm Dunes parties floating around when I did the search, which seems like a large number; however, I believe that not everyone had a full party because the list did not show 36 blue names.


The last server that I'm checking.  With a total of 96 players and cutting off at level 15.  There are 15 new characters on this server and only 2 Valkurm parties going.  This seems a little promising, except many players look like they are off doing their own thing on this server.


Well... I've seen the most populated servers and the ones with the most AH transactions. Which one is the best? Well, for me I'm sticking by Asura or Fenrir... at least until Odin reopens assuming it ever does. It just depends what route I decide to go, and I'm seriously considering Fenrir because of the warm welcome that I received.

Understand that my server choices may not be the best for you; however, these are my findings and if you're looking to join a larger, more populated server, then this list will certainly help you.

Finally... just keep in mind, I did these checks 12am and 12:30am EST OR the EU Primetime. This is the end of US Primetime and JP Primetime starts 2 hours later - and yes, there are a lot of Japanese players during the hours that would usually be called "odd" to an American or European individual.

Based off these numbers you can assume there is approximately a 20%-30% increase during the US/EU Primetime the first servers in the list.  In the servers checked during EU Primetime, you can give about 5-10% bumper room.

This was a lot of work to compile since it takes a lot of time to create a new character due to the introduction scene they have in-game so I don't plan on doing this again.  So, just keep in mind that the information provided may be outdated and servers could open and close.

Finishing Final Fantasy XI

Posted by BlueCadwal Thursday July 9 2009 at 1:55AM
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I've had an account for Final Fantasy XI for nearly 8 years now.  Yes.  That's how long I've had an account.  Of course I've closed my membership every now and then to pursue other interests (like WoW and Asheron's Call), but I've found myself going to it time and time again.  

And this is the first time in 8 years that I've been subscribed to an MMO for a full year!  I was so excited to login this past month and see the decorations for the Celestial Nights.  Watching Princess Amdina and Prince Yahiko again this year was a wonderful experience.    Its exciting to know that I got to view this even twice and I look forward to  participating again next year.

Now, with that behind me I just gotta move forward.  FFXI is nearing the end of its lifespan and FFXIV has been announced.

With this in mind, it's my goal to reach level 75 by the time FFXIV is released.  I don't know what class I want to do it with; however, things are becoming tricky.

I used to rely on a steady influx of new players to keep my character leveling up; however, Odin has recently closed down to new players, which leaves me more or less without a home to level new jobs in.  I'm considering switching servers, but for the moment I'm more or less happy with things the way they are.

In fact, today I ran into someone I leveled up with while leveling my original Monk and Dragoon- Spccdog, though I don't think he remembers me.  Who would?  I haven't run into him in nearly a year.

Right now, I have 5 classes at or around level 25.  In otherwords, I should just pick one and stick to it.  I'm thinking my best bet would be to go DRG/WAR or DRG/MNK or WAR/MNK or MNK/WAR.  I've found Mages to be the hardest to get leveled up, and DPS to be the class most in demand (not Tank).  Which is most likely because every party in theory should consist of 2-3 DPS, 1 Tank, and 1-2 WHM/RDM depending on your overall purpose.  DPS also encompasses every other form of mage, and there are also crossover classes like Dancers that just bend the traditional "leveling" sequence out of whack.

Regardless!  I'm probably going to focus on a DPS.  Right now I'm leveling my RDM for the heck of it, plus it gives me time to farm more gil to buy new armor with for my DRG or MNK.

So, if anyone knows of a good server to level up on at low levels... I may be looking for a new home so feel free to give a recommendation.

Laptop Lifestyles at Their Finest (Part 2)

Posted by BlueCadwal Monday August 18 2008 at 6:40PM
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Let's be honest, finding a decent gaming laptop that fits everyone's needs is next to impossible.  Welcome to Part 2 of this three part series where I'll be taking a closers look at what the different companies have to offer and incorporate responses based off the previous post.  Last time I took a look at Sony, HP, and Dell gaugeing purely on specs.  Today, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty. 

Price is always a concern: "how much will this cost me?"  Personally, I can spare a kidney, I think 75% of my audience could as well.  Though, in the end, we always want the best price and best quality available.  Since all the parts are the same, it really doesn't matter who you order from unless you have a special need, which I'll discuss a little later.

Get the BEST Deal

If you are simply looking at hardware, your best bet is to stick with the cheapest computer.  In fact, if you just want to surf the internet you can buy a cheap machine for under $600 at your local computer store, however that's not the purpose of this series.  For everyone else, make sure you get the best price.

Online deals are great, but in purchasing online consumers must beware.  Warranty information and discounts may not be readily available.  This is why it's an excellent idea to consult friends, employees, and the internet.

1.  Look for Employee, Student, Government Discounts - If you teach, work, or learn, your company may have a discount program setup already.  These programs can provide up to a 20% discount in some cases on major brands including Apple, Sony, Dell, and HP.

2.  Search For Coupons - Very often just Googling "Computer Coupons" will pull up an assortment of Computer Coupons for major brands.  Perhaps off-sites may be a little bit more difficult, but when available discounts can go as high as 30% (that's $900 on a $3000 machine).

3.  Work With Sales Reps - Sales reps are perhaps the most important resource in purchasing a new computer be it laptop or desktop.  They have access to features, configurations, and discounts that you would never think of.  Ask what they have available.  If you're willing to negotiate the specs, you may end up saving up to 30% off the original value without sacrificing the quality of the purchase.

What's in a Warranty?

Quite a bit actually.  Taking a cheap route out may seem like a great idea at first, but down the line you may need that accident insurance for when you spill a drink or 24/7 phone support when the thesis is due in 12 hours and you haven't slept all night.  This is very important because there are third party insurance policies available to purchase, but this option is not for everyone.  Make sure you read the contracts to obtain the best warranty around.

I've dealt with Dell and HP support, and know from firsthand experience that I like working with them; however, Sony, though they do have well priced machines, has a very difficult support team to work with.  Sony fails to support replacing hardware, even if it's their own brand.  A few years back, I bought a DVD-RW for an old 1.8ghz Sony that was still under warranty, and they refused to help get it working (they even refused to replace the original in the first place).  HP and Dell, both have a policy to cover malfunctioning equipment so long as it is under warranty.

Computers As an Art Form

In checking out computers at stores, there are several major brands to look at: Asus, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, HP, Sony, and Toshiba.  Each come with their own style and flare.  Asus, Compaq, and Gateway tend to be straightforward boxes, nothing too terribly flashy.  Dell, HP, Sony,and  Toshiba, however, have taken computers to a new line where computers are no longer just a piece of hardware, but an art form as well.

Some people will find this to be an important feature.  This can quickly eliminate many available options, and in some cases even increase the cost of the machine.  In going this route, you must be willing to pay a premium if necessary.  Some companies will charge as much as $400 just for the color difference from the base (usually black, grey, or white). 

The End Product

At the end of the day, your machine will be the same as everyone else's.  No matter what brand you buy, what parts are inside, they all come from the same place.  The only true difference in your machine will be the casing.  If you don't care about the art, then the decision is simple Cost > Style.  If you do care then be prepared to pay a premium.

My Final Call?

After looking at numerous sites, comparing numerous models, and different specs I have decided to go with the Dell XPS 1530 RED in a custom model for $2570.  It features a sporty red case, similar to my cell phone, and a 320gb (7200 RPM) hard drive.

In coming into looking at current computers, I had no clue what I wanted.  When I knew what I wanted, I looked at every site I knew for the best price, features, and warranty.  In the end, Dell has it all.  I paid $2570 for $1920 worth of equipment plus a four year warranty (Tech Support, Accident Insurance).  If you ask me, that's a bargain.  This includes numerous discounts as well as a 12% student discount.

I did check out the online suggestions provided by readers in the previous post, and there really are some great buys out there.  In some cases, the online retailers were able to give a better quote than my final machine without the student discount.  Here's the final pricing on my specific features in each model:

Dell: $2570 (Savings: $900)

HP:  $3100 (Savings: 12%)

Savage:  $2800

Asus:  $3000

I'm pretty certain that if I had worked with any of the other companies I could've made it below the $2,500, but Dell had two things I care about: style and quality.  After seeing the HP and Asus computers up close, I knew that I didn't want either.  Asus doesn't have the sleek style I desire, while HP computers feel cheap and plasticy (which is something this Toshiba gets marked down on by G4; thanks Cursedsei for the link).  The express card TV Tuner is also an added bonus that I really appreciate.  Unlike other companies that offer an external Tuner, Dell offers an express card TV Tuner that I appreciate a lot.  It may not be great for playing a console on, but it's still great for OTA and cable TV.

Stay tuned for the final part of Laptop Lifestyles and Their Finest sometime next week as I take a closer look at my purchase and determine whether or not the XPS 1530 RED was worth it.

Laptop Lifestyles at Their Finest (Part 1)

Posted by BlueCadwal Saturday August 16 2008 at 2:03AM
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For the past 3 and a half years, I've used an HP Pavilion zd8000.  We've had some really good times together from the OOB experience music to the first boot of running of Guild Wars in the beauty the game is supposed to have.  As time goes on, my PC is beginning to show its age and its about time to find a good replacement, but where should one look to fill their desires?

Kicking off the search, I start with the three major companies off the top of my head: Dell, HP, and Apple.

Some people may be wondering how the heck Apple got into the search; however, just as quickly as it got into,  it was removed.  I looked at Apple for its simplicity.  They have standard packages and limited customization.  And their customization is absolutely amazing, it game the high and the low at an excellent value.  However, with a Macbook Pro, I'd face the same problems I have now: space.  I may be able to get a 500gb hard drive, but if I would hardly ever use the Leopard partition, then what's the point to a Mac?  There is no point.  All my Software (Windows Office 2007, Adobe CS3) would need replacing for compatibility, only two of my games would run on it (Battlefield 2142, World of Warcraft), and the multiple partitions would set me back further than I desire.  Thus, this time, Apple's not for me... maybe next time.

Next it was off to HP.  I was blown away with the performance of my current PC for the past 3 years so maybe they can carry on the standard for 3 more.  This trip was, however, quite depressing.  As I visited the site, I must've missed the gaming laptops because nothing compared to my current laptop.  At the time of purchase, my current laptop was only a couple notches below the standard PC at the time of purchase.  Now, they're not just a couple notches, but several notches.  On a Desktop, I could easily purchase a Core 2 Quad processor; however, the HP laptop lines fails to even reach the maximum Core 2 processor potential of 3.2.  I admit, these are quite high expectations; however, I expect my laptops to last, and even now I know that my current PC could last another year if I really wanted it to.

Finally, I checked the Dell laptops.  Comparatively, they blew me out of the water.  Their hard drives were top speed and top size with a maximum potential of 400gb at 7200 RPM.  Their processors, although not as powerful as I had hoped, were slightly more powerful than the HP counterparts at 2.8ghz (compared to 2.6ghz).  What has me sold at the moment is the TV tuner option, which from what I can tell is actually built in (if someone could clear that up please do), unlike the HP model I'm currently using which has a USB box that connects that is about the size of an external hard drive.

Overall, I'm looking for a laptop that has hard drive space and gaming potential.  I'm generally not the most up-to-date gamer; however, I want to know that my laptop will survive at least 3-4 years.  One of the biggest issues that I'm running into now isn't the lack of processor speed, RAM or graphics card, but rather a lack of hard drive space, thus 400gb at 7200 RPM is looking very nice at the moment.  Seeing as though I've pre-ordered Warhammer Online and I only have 9gb of HD space left, this isn't something that I'm delaying on completing.  Since I do a lot of work with the Adobe Suite, space isn't really something I can spare at the moment.

Now that I've done my research, what research have you done?  Know something that I missed or a different company?  Let me know and I'll see about putting it in my next post in the series.

A Turn Based MMO - Can it work?

Posted by BlueCadwal Monday July 21 2008 at 6:44PM
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Well, Atlantica Online is in the Closed Beta stage and 1000 lucky readers and more FilePlanet subscribers have had an opportunity to play it the past few days.  Although I haven't gotten too far into it, the game plays extraordinarily well (I'm seeing a smoother launch the World of Warcraft).  If I didn't have more pressing goals in Final Fantasy XI, I would consider completely switching permanently.

This wouldn't be my first time playing a turn based MMO though, I also played Fairyland Online and Myth War for a period of time as well.  The biggest draw back that I have always found in games like these have been the limits.  Be it in limits, hunting style, or simply battle style players will always find something to complain about in this genre.

The largest problem that players have voiced on these boards are mainly restricted to the bland battle system.  In a market dominated by active MMOs, who wouldn't attack a game like this?  Overall, the strategy required in Atlantica Online is more than I would have ever predicted.  From the classes to the NPCs, players have a choice that can make or break your squad.  Is your leader in the front or is he in the back?  These are questions that you have to deal with when forming your squad and can make or break the team.  Many of the choices become less clear as parties grow beyond the newbie 3 to a total of 5 at level 10.  Also, timing can account for a lot because players only have 30 seconds to make actions and enemies are obstructed by melee characters which can be problematic in some scenarios.

Don't get me wrong, the battle system is fun, but it's not perfect.  It only allows for 2 player teams, and in an MMO environment I like having to cooperate with large numbers of people.  Due to the limited team sizes, one can predict that PvP would be pretty lame.  Players who were a part of Sword of the New World, may remember really boring repetitive gameplay.  That is a non-issue for Atlantica Online players.  The game is designed to be heavier on questing, much like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online.  Sure you can grind, but what fun is that?

The questing system is even a lot easier that most MMOs.  You don't even have to search for your quest goals, there's an automatic movement button that takes you to the next quest objective.  Wow... can you say lazy?  This is perhaps the biggest fault in the game.  Because players are given no real purpose to play the game and are spoon fed everything from the get go, the game loses all purpose.  At the end of the day your only goal is to get from Point A to Point B to Point Z and kill the monsters (which you'll more than likely have no problem doing). 

Don't get me wrong, I find the system to be fun so far... but how much longer can I get from Point A to Point B and kill creatures over and over again until it gets boring?

I know someone'll probably call me out for being a "bad beta tester" and only using this opportunity to test the game for personal interests.  That's actually far from the case.  There are actually very few bugs at this time, and those that remain are generally language inspired.  Since the game was originally released in (presumably) Korea, the word wrap feature is non-existent, and so far that's really the only MAJOR bug I've seen.  There is a weird graphical problem that I should consider reporting, but I'll do so only after further testing.

Hellgate London Why Fanboys and Flagship Deserves It

Posted by BlueCadwal Sunday July 20 2008 at 1:06AM
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Why Fan Boys?

My first experience in game was 2 weeks before the official launch because I opted to play in the beta.  Well, it wasn't too hard to get into it by pre-ordering.  I played it for 7 days.  During those days, I continuously heard players saying "this is boring," "the world is static," and similar complaints.  These same players also reassured each other "it's only the beta, it'll change after release."  Anyone who has participated in a beta can tell you that nothing will change at the release.  I tried to tell people that this last couple weeks of beta will be what the receive in the release, and was blocked, attacked, and disregarded as an ignorant baffoon.  This is why fanboys get a bad rap, because their game is not perfect but they refuse to admit its faults and continue to say it'll change.  Personally, I believe the fanboys all deserved this.

Why Flagship?

There's no doubt in my mind that Flagship promised more than they could provide.  In addition, they also made a point of charging a fee for what wasn't a true MMO.  There are many workarounds to charging a fee; for example, a micro-payment system like what Nexon uses.

Is there a future for Hellgate London?
The future seems bleak, but there are options available.  It's clear that the game does have a following, much like Starcraft and Diablo still have today.  This is obvious to developers.  If the following is deemed large enough, the game could be an easy pick-up for another company.  Activision (Blizzard) and ArenaNet, are the least obvious options due to the Flagship founders' connections.  It's unlikely for either Activision or ArenaNet to pick-up the game though because they have their own games to deal with unless their people believe they have enough resources to maintain the game with.

Hambitsoft and Namco on the otherhand are the major stakeholders, they could see potential in the game and may have the option to keep publishing.  Namco, being the publisher, it wouldn't be an impossible option since they had a contract with Flagship, and although the contract of publication may not be public the founders still have to follow through with it.  Another problem that may arise is the whole subscription issue where the players paid for lifetime subscriptions in advanced (woops!) . . . how will Namco and Flagship handle this?  I'm not sure what the terms and conditions were for the lifetime subscription, but a class action lawsuit may not be too far off.

Hambitsoft would be the second option.  We already know they have a lawsuit going.  They may eventually have the option to expand their service worldwide to allow other people to go on.  If this occurs, it's also likely that they would continue to develop it.  This option, for the moment, seems to be the most likely because Flagship has officially closed its doors maintaining limited service and ending subscription.

Even with these options available, there are many small developers who may see Hellgate London as an opportunity.  Look at how many MMOs have been ported from Korea and China.  Many of them appear to be brought over by people fresh out of college with a limited budget and little to know experience in a major company (I'm looking at games like Magic World Online - who names a game that anyway?).

Regardless of what happens, if Hellgate London sees a new light, I'll probably end up trying it out again.

Sony vs. Microsoft @ Pre-E3

Posted by BlueCadwal Wednesday July 16 2008 at 5:21PM
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Due to the obvious shift in marketing plans for Nintendo, I will not lump them into this.

This week is when all the pre-E3 press conferences are being held.  While Microsoft press confrence was pretty interesting, the Sony conference left me wanting more.  Since we all know the games, I'll jump right into the content.

Right from the get go, Sony has left me feeling like they don't know their gamers.  While Microsoft has connected gamers through their Live network and MSN ID for years, Sony is just now allowing gamers to do this.  Although they're yet to acknowledge how they'll do this, I personally have enough IDs.  I have my AIM, MSN/Live, and Steam... I really don't want to add a Sony ID to that list for my PC experience.  What they should do is form a partnership with AOL, Facebook, xFire, or Steam and have a connect gamers that way while at work.  Such a partnership would be beneficial to not only PS3 players, but also PC users who don't want to tie up their RAM with another communication tool.  I have enough programs running at once with GAIM, Outlook, Mozilla, and Steam all running at the same time.

With regards to entertainment, Microsoft has Sony beat though.  Gran Turismo TV?  Give me a break.  Not everyone likes racing, and to me the amount of time they spent on that presentation was far too much.  Sure, they have content partners, but where's NBC and ABC?  Last I checked, NBC-Universal (SciFi, USA) and ABC were on top for Primetime TV.  Beyond ABC and NBC, the content on Live and Sony Network look pretty much the same.  LIVE Primetime though is truly innovative for a console, it brings gamers together in what has, in the past, been predominantly a PC market with online content like MSN Gaming Zone, ABC's National Bingo Night and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and Yahoo Games.  Gamers playing along side a TV series or simply games with a live host looks to be an amazing catch for players around the world.  Kudos go to Sony for giving gamers the content now instead of making us wait until "this fall."

Community is a huge part in consoles now.  We've seen avatars on the PS3, Xbox 360, and the Wii.  Now it's time to decide: who has the best avatars?  Honestly, of all the flack I give Sony this year, they have the best community.  Their "Home" gives players to roam a unique community and talk to friends.  I love how Microsoft abused Rare in trying to create a similar network, but didn't fully capture the essence.  I don't know what it is, but it's just the realism of the avatars on the PS3 that I appreciate.  No one can deny that the Miis aren't fun little fellas to pick-up and play with in games though.  I designed a Mii that looks like Chenney who, for some reason, is always watching me bowl. . . it's a little creepy to be honest.

I'd like to take a detour from the consoles and focus on MMOs for a moment since only Sony discussed it.  I've never really enjoyed the MMOs coming out of Sony, but I like the concept behind DC Universe Online.  I'm glad it's not a WoW clone or a City of Heroes clone, and as a huge DC fan I am, I can't wait to play the game when its released.  Something I really like about DC Universe Online is that they are not releasing Super Heroes and Villains seperately, but at the same exact time.  However, the gameplay, at this time, looks very static, which I'm hoping is just the fact that it's still in development (I'm not referring to the redux in graphics which are attributed to streaming, I'm referring to combat).

At the end of the day, the games basically boil down to a fairly balanced library for Sony and Microsoft.  Both companies have their heavy hitters from every genre.    Both consoles have games that interest me, and here's my top 5:

1.  MAG - Massive Squad Based Combat, I've always loved the Battlefield  series for this reason alone and MAG pulls together everything I love about Battlefield and multiplies it by 4.  I think the game is over-hyped because I'm sure a PC can handle 256 players like the PS3 in one battlefield (it was done in PlanetSide), but I'm not going to complain about promotion tactics because the game just looks sweet.
2.  Fable 2 - I loved the first, I loved Phantasy Star Online/Universe, and I love action-RPGs.  This falls to number 2 only because of the concept behind MAG.  Although it doesn't add much new to the genre overall, it adds the multiplayer features that I loved about Lego Star Wars and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles to a game.
3.  Infinite Undiscovery - I enjoy RPGs, but in all honesty, I've never finished a Final Fantasy game.  There's a good chance that I'll never finish this one, but it's definately on my gotta play list because of gorgeous graphics and an amazing story.
4.  Infamous - The big superhero game of next year... the way I see it is it'll be just another city rhomp.  Sure it integrates the whole Fable aspect of developing my character, but the whole city rhomp genre gets boring after a while.  I've played the same Spiderman game 6 times now with different superheroes in a few of them, I don't wanna play it again.  Maybe they'll do something right with this Superhero game.
5.  Little Big World - Seems interesting, though it sounds like something I would only pick-up once in a while.  I don't really see there being much to designing my own game to play through it, and generally player designed levels are extremely difficult to get through - just look at the levels for Super Mario World ROMs that are impossible to beat.