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Richard's Ramblings

Just because sometimes my mind overflows its brainpan. Figured this would make as good of an outlet to catch those overflows as any. No set theme, topic, or schedule, just whatever and whenever. :)

Author: RJCox

Insert Topic Here...

Posted by RJCox Sunday August 26 2012 at 6:39PM
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Ok, I admit, it's been a couple days *cough*weeks*cough* since I've updated this thing. I blame Mr Murphy, he's been keeping me busy reviewing stuff which leads to less time to game for pleasure. I tend to not talk so much about the games I'm playing for review purposes as I do about the ones I'm playing for fun. Therefore, less gaming for fun = less talking here. Ok, now that I've come up with a reasonably believable (at least to me) excuse for my slacking, lets get on with this.

Not that I really have much that I planned to talk about here in this entry, hence the title... I just felt like blogging, so here I am.

What am I playing currently?

Well, when not working on one review or another, I've been spending a lot of time playing Sleeping Dogs on the 360 and Orcs Must Die 2 on Steam. I'm still subscribed to The Secret World, tho admittedly I haven't logged in in a couple weeks, so I don't know how much longer that sub will last. I really like the game, and really want to keep playing, I just haven't been able to bring myself to do so lately. I can't really put a finger on why. But anyway, back to the games I have been playing.

Sleeping Dogs: Truly a blast. Fun to play open world shooter with a good amount of side stuff to keep you busy for hours above and beyond the story. They've caught a bit of flak for their first round of DLC, which is basically all "cheats" and boosts. Basically you can buy money and XP bonuses and such, there's no real content to speak of. Some of the talking heads out there have given the devs flak for "doing DLC wrong." Personally I don't agree. No one is forcing anyone to buy this particular DLC. It's not a competitive or even co-operative game, so this isn't a case of "paying to win." This is simply the devs giving people who value their time more than their money a way to speed things along. Building up money is not hard in the game at all. Complete all the auto-theft and armored truck missions and you'll have several million bucks in no time. And the Devs have promised actual content type DLC in the near future, which I'm looking forward to.

Orcs Must Die 2: Just a great tower defence action hybrid type of game. I loved the first one. I thought the sequel seemed to have been announced a little too quickly after the first one, but in the end I'm loving it as well. Basically you run around in third person view placing traps to prevent the incoming waves of orcs and ogres and kobolds and such from reaching your rifts. In addition to the traps functioning like towers do in most tower defense titles, you also have your character running around fighting the mobs either hand-to-hand melee style or from a distance with ranged weapons. It's just great fun and a nice mindless break from pretty much anything. I find myself often running through a map between sections of an article I'm writing or such just to give my brainmeats a break.

Other than that I've gotten into a couple betas that I'm enjoying here and there.

I'm sure I'm one of the very few people on this site who hasn't jumped on the GW2 bandwagon yet. I'm interested, sure, and I'm sure I'll pick it up sooner or later, especially since there's no sub. I'm just not all gaga for it like most people for whatever reason.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Orcs to go kill. One of these days I may even try the multi-player co-op in OMD2, but for the time being I've been having enough of a blast playing solo.

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Posted by RJCox Wednesday June 27 2012 at 5:03PM
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Ok, so it's been a bit since I've updated this thing. You all prolly think Diablo 3 has consumed my soul since that's all I've talked about recently, but no, you'd be wrong! I, much like many others I imagine, have actually stopped playing D3, for a couple of reasons.

Primarily I hate the choices they made with the difficulty setting/options. And no, I'm not talking about how hard Inferno is, I haven't even made it there yet. My primary hatred spews forth about Normal actually... How easy, slow and boring it is. And how I have to play through it again and again with every character/class I want to try... I was initially playing a Monk. He's almost to 60 now (57 I think) and I was getting bored with him so I figured I'd try out a Barbarian... Silly me thinking since I had beat Normal and Nightmare already I could choose between Nightmare and Hell when starting a new character... Wrong. Back to Normal with you! Which makes absolutely no sense to me, it isn't like it is separate/new/different content. All it is added hit points and damage modifiers on existing mobs, plus a few extra Blues and Yellows thrown into the mix... So yeah, as much as I'd love to try out some of the other classes, I have little to no desire to spend 10-15 or so hours of my life playing through Normal again.

Plus I found Krater... If you haven't heard of it, it's an indie title on Steam. It plays a lot like the Diablo style games, but it's set in a Post-Apocalyptic world/setting. I'm loving it. Great story, great crafting system, great world and setting. Just fun stuff. Oh, and it doesn't require you to be online all the time *cough*. No multiplayer yet, but that will be added in July sometime as a free update. Can't wait for that. It's a blast already, and playing with friends will make it even more fun. Go check it out if you haven't, trust me there are MUCH MUCH worse things you could spend $15 on out there.

I've also been spending a lot of time in The Secret World beta. This one kinda snuck up on me, I admit. I didn't really know what to expect going in. Funcom is VERY hit or miss with me... Loved Anarchy Online (yes, even with all the bugs, it was definitely ahead of its time) and hated Age of Conan. The Longest Journey was also an amazing title even if not an MMO. So really TSW could have gone either way for me, but I find myself really digging it. Sure, there are some aspects of it I don't particularly care for... That skill wheel thing makes my head want to explode... It was a bit disheartening to go back to typical MMO combat after the time I spent in TERA. But IMO, the world/setting more than makes up for the downsides I've experienced, and the story being told through their amazing quest/mission system is absolutely win. I've also heard great things about the PvP system though I haven't been able to try that out yet. Not that I'm much of a PvPer I admit, but even if I don't particularly enjoy it, even I have to admit how important it is for the success of a title in this day and age. I'm also a little curious how long it will be before the inevitable F2P talks and conversion. I definitely don't see myself shelling out the money for a lifetime subscription... But it is definitely a game I see myself playing for a while.

So there you have it. TL;DR version: No more D3, go buy Krater, and digging TSW.

Yes, More About Diablo 3

Posted by RJCox Tuesday May 29 2012 at 6:58PM
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Yes, this entry will be about Diablo 3 as well. To be completely honest, I haven't really played much else since it released other than some time spent on Operation Raccoon City for the FPSGuru review. Spoiler: Save yourself the pain, just avoid it.

Anyway, back to D3. 

Progress Report: My main (a Monk) is now level 56, finished with Nightmare and on to (I think) Act 3 in Hell mode. Now some observations on things I've seen/done/experienced since last time we chatted.

Whimsyshire: By now I'm sure you've all seen the video(s) circling the interwebz about D3's "secret" level. Much like Diablo 2's secret cow level, Whimsyshire is hidden and accessed by combining an odd assortment of bits and bobs you come across throughout the game. Chances are, if you've found something that isn't sellable, and you don't know what else to do with it, it is a part of the puzzle. First and foremost I have to give Blizzard some major props for the very concept of the level. Basically, it's a direct trolling response to all the haters who complained about the game being too bring and colorful. I'm all for a developer taking the time to troll some trolls, and building a complete level to do so is just win.

That being said, for as much effort as it takes to gain access to the place, you'd think it would be better farming grounds. I mean, some of the pieces you need have a random chance of spawning from a mob that has a random chance of spawning in a dungeon that has a random chance of appearing on a map... So basically, to farm that piece, you keep loading a game in the correct Act and area, explore the map hoping the right random dungeon appeared, if it did, you explore that dungeon hoping the right special mob inside spawns, and then kill it hoping it drops the right random item... And if not, start all over.

Anyway, once you gain access to the place, you go in and kill a bunch of unicorns, cuddly bears and flowers, some of which will be blues if you're lucky. I've farmed the place a couple dozen times now easily. I've yet to get anything out of there worth equiping.

Difficulty: There's been no shortage of complaints circling the interwebz about how hard Inferno is, I know. And I haven't even made it there yet. I can't imagine it personally, Hell is rough enough at times. At level 56 there are mobs with certain enhancements that I just have to avoid. Even with my Monk's build set to a purely defensive/regen-heavy way I still get once-shot by some things. So in Inferno will regular mobs kill me just by looking in my general direction?

I'm not saying I'd prefer it to be easier. I have to admit, if the whole game was like Normal mode, what would be the point in playing? There has to be some ongoing challenge. I'm not overly displeased with the difficulty levels (again, I haven't made it to Inferno yet, so who knows if that stance will change.) It is definitely frustrating at times, especially on the odd times when there's a set of mobs that repeatedly one-shot me that I can't just avoid. Generally that ends up with me having to leave the game and go back in until the mobs reset with a set of enhancements I can deal with. Damn you laser beams!

Auction House: Another topic with no shortage of complaints on the web. My main complaint on this front is well, how absolutely useless it is. Naturally I'm not talking about the RMAH as that's not even active yet. Just the regular one. Considering I've taken a character to level 56 now, and done an extensive amount of farming on that character, and I've still yet to find my first piece of Legendary gear. Oh, why not pop onto the AH and see what's there... Look, TONS of legendaries suitable for my character... Hmmm... the cheapest of which is millions of gold... I have like 100k gold... Well, NM. I'd sell some of the Rares that I get from farming, but with so many legendaries on the AH, no one gives a damn about rares. Even at bargain basement prices. I'm curious how people are making enough money to afford Legendaries at their current going rate... Like I said, I've spent some time farming... And while I've been leveling up my crafters, even if I hadn't been I don't think I'd be anywhere near a million gold yet, much less several million. So what am I doing wrong?

So that Diablo 3 game... Heard of it?

Posted by RJCox Monday May 21 2012 at 2:12AM
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So I, much like most of the gaming world I'm sure, picked up Diablo 3 on launch day. I've liked the previous Diablo games well enough, and have naturally been looking forward to D3. But I won't call myself a hardcore Diablo series fanboy by any means. I'm much more of a fan of the genre than a fan of Diablo specifically. I also love Titan Quest, Torchlight, etc, heck, even Fate.

There's a lot I like about Diablo 3, but admittedly, there are also things I don't like much at all. And I figured I might as well come ramble a bit here about them all, just cause I can.

First of all, for a bit of reference, I'm playing a Monk, I'm level 45 now or so, about to finish my Nightmare playthrough, so I've put some hours into the game before 'jumping' to these conclussions...

First of all the much talked about new skill system. I went in expecting to hate it, completely. I like trees, they're easy to see and visualize and mentally plan out as you're going along. You see what's next, and what that will lead to, what you need to spend points on to get where you need to go. It's all so logical and makes sense to my OCD personality. This new fangled system they came up with just doesn't make sense. But then I started playing the game, and while I won't say I love the new system, I can't say that I hate it like I figured I would. It's just what it is. I'd probably prefer the old tree system still, but meh, I haven't thrown the disks through the wall or anything yet. It's grown on me.

Crafting system: love it. Great addition, with one minor complaint that I'll get to in a bit. But the system as a whole is just like a new random loot generating machine. "Poof, give me a chest here with a yellow axe in it!" and presto, yellow axe. Granted, the stats are randomized, but that's the fun "slot-machine" aspect to it. "Doh! +102 Int?! I'm a Monk!!!" 

Classes: I played around with all 5 in beta, taking each to 10 or so. I admit, that isn't very high and doesn't give you the best feel for the class. But I fell in love with the Monk and it was never a doubt that'd be my first character come launch. To be fair, I've already created a character in each of the other classes to reserve the names, etc, but they're all still level 1. I'll get to them eventually, but really digging the Monk atm. Also, I have to admit, the Monk/Templar combo is just sick...

Speaking of Followers: Nice, fun, well done, all that. I wish they had inventories to carry a bit of loot so I could run back to town a little less. I also wish there was a bit more customization to them. Meaning, a couple more skill levels to select/choose. Maybe one every 6 levels, giving you 10 skills/powers at max level... Also a couple more choices as far as "classes" go. Maybe a pure healer type? A healer/caster combo? But I can also see this as something to be added in an expansion I guess...

Story/Length: We all knew the story would be top notch, it's Blizzard after all. As for the length of gameplay, there has been a lot of buzz about the game being too short. I guess I can see that if you're comparing it to the RPG genre as a whole instead of just the ARPG subgenre. My first playthough took me around 18-19 hours with exploring every side dungeon/cave/etc I could find. I've heard of people doing it in as few as 9-10 hours. Well, I've heard of as low as 6, but I actually believe the 9-10 hour range if you just fly straight through the main story skipping any optional content.

And that leads me to my main/biggest complaint about the game. Content stripping to force replays. Now first, let me make something clear, I'm not adverse to replaying a good game. Take Borderlands for example. I've played through Borderlands and all the DLC completely through, end to end 8+ times. I've maxed out 5 different characters. My problem with how D3 handles it is that once you finish "Normal" and start playing Nightmare, you realize how they withheld content from Normal. That and how much of a cakewalk it is comparatively. Honestly, I only died 3-4 times on my first playthrough, and every one of those I can chalk up to my own mistake or inattention like alt-tabbing to another window when I thought the area was clear only to come back and find myself dead. There's just little to no challenge Normal. And as for the content stripping: There are no loot drops above Rare/Yellow. The pages you need to continue leveling up the crafters don't drop, so you're restricted in how high you can level them. To be fair, they're also limited in Nightmare as well. 

I get that Blizz wants people to play through multiple times. I get that they want to give people something "new" in those subsequent playthroughs. I just hate that it feels like I'm forced to do the additional playthroughs if I want to see all the content. Like I said in the forums somewhere, I will gladly play a good game multiple times through because I want to, you don't need to "force" me to by doling out bits of content at a time each time I play through it and bump up a difficulty level.

I'd get into the whole "always online DRM" crap, but I can't really say anything about that that hasn't been said on the interwebz a hundred times over. I just assume you already know my feelings on that matter, since I can't imagine anyone who enjoys dealing with rubberbanding and server lag in a single-player game. Or anyone who is happy when they can't play their single player game because the servers are down for maintence, etc.

Anyway, there you have it. Overall I'm really digging the game, moreso now that I'm past Normal and playing on Nightmare. Prolly even moreso in the next day or two when I move on to Hell. There are things I dislike about it, sure. And yes, I'm still eagerly anticipating Torchlight 2.

Wow Is This Place Dusty...

Posted by RJCox Sunday May 13 2012 at 10:01AM
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*blows the dust off the control panel*

Really? Like 3 and a half years since I've updated this blog? Well that's just no good...

Granted, I haven't done much writing in that time. Heck, I haven't even really been playing much MMO type games in that time. But lately I've found myself getting back into MMOs, and since I am, I'll be writing for the site a little again (also for the sister sites RTSGuru and FPSGuru.) So with all that, I guess it's time to dust this thing off and get some use out of it. Not that there's likely many followers out there left after over 3 years of inactivity, but oh well.

So where have I been, what have I been up to? Well, for starters I'm not in the game industry anymore. Well, other than the writing bit on the side of course. But after my last couple stints (Trion and Bioware) I decided I wanted to move back home and do something different with my life, so I became an EMT. Now I ride around in an ambulance and help people. I find there's FAR less bloodshed and drama in EMS than in the game industry.

Gaming wise I've been playing a LOT of console games lately, pushing my XBox Live Gamerscore up over 50k in a short amount of time. For some reason I just wasn't able to get into MMOs for the longest time. But now I'm back into them. Currently playing TERA and really enjoying it. Looking forward to TSW as well. And of course D3, even though it's not really an MMO.

So why TERA? What about it drew me back into MMOs where so many games had failed before? Honestly that's kinda hard to put a finger on... The combat definitely helps. I've always been primarily a RPG gamer on console, and even though I don't use the controller option in TERA, it reminds me a lot of playing a regular single-player RPG on my XBox, primarily because of the combat. Granted, when I first started playing, it was on a Priest, and I didn't see what the big deal about the combat was. Sure, you had to aim a little more, but overall it didn't play very differently than most MMOs as far as the caster class seemed to go. But then I rolled my Zerker and that's when it hit me. I'm not going to sit here and say the combat is the greatest thing since sliced bread (and really, who made that the bar to aim for?) But it DOES add a little something to spice up what is traditionally a very dull combat system. MMOs long ago fell into this "tab to target, hit a sequence of number keys, kill rinse repeat" rutt that has needed to be changed for a long time. I'm glad someone finally has. Maybe this will be the stepping stone other companies need to venture out and test the water on other combat system tweaks and ideas.

What intrigues me most about TSW is the setting. Don't get me wrong, I love me some fantasy/medieval gaming. But I also like a little variety. I mean, I love the 26oz Ribeye at the local steak place, but if I ate it every day, well, I'd prolly end up riding in a difference spot in the back of the ambulance than I normally do. Also, I have to admit, Anarchy Online was one of my very first MMO loves. Sure, it was buggy as all hell, but I loved it. I got into the beta very early on and played all the way through until about a year after launch. Admittedly, Age of Conan didn't really float my boat. So basically I'm hoping that TSW will be a lot like AA, just without all the bugs of course...

Anyway, that's enough rambling for the time being, especially since this is the first post in over 3 years. But I'll try to start swinging by here more often and rambling a bit about what I'm playing or happenings in the industry, etc.

BlizzCon Report Day 2 - Updated 1635

Posted by RJCox Saturday October 11 2008 at 3:37PM
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Yesterday's festivities at BlizzCon ended with the various contests. The costume contest was great, some of those costumes absolutely rocked. I have pics that we'll get uploaded soon. The dance contest was interesting, though a little painful at times. Not to make fun of anyone, hell, I know I can't dance, so I don't enter a contest where I'll have to dance in front of 15000+ live people, not to mention all the folks watching on DirectTV.

This morning I started my day by hopping on Diablo 3 before the lines got too insane. Which they have been, from doors open to doors close, pure insanity, hours long wait to play the game. So I played for an hour or so, and my overall impression? This is Diablo. I've played so many Diablo clones over the years trying to get that same feeling I got from D1 and D2, but never quite getting there. This is it. I know a lot of the core people behind D1 and D2 are no longer with Blizzard, but honestly I couldn't tell. And of course this is just my opinion and others are likely to differ, but it felt like the Diablo of old to me, I loved every minute of it.

To address the stat issue brought up in the comments of my last entry, from what I could tell yes, the stats you gain as you level do seem automatic. BUT! That being said it really doesn't seem to affect a whole lot. With all the loot you can find in the game, you can still VERY easily customize your character in those regards as much as you want really. Hell, I found gear for my Wizard with bonuses to strength, so it isn't like you'll only ever find gear that your class can wear that only affects their core stats, you'll find it all. And the runes to change your skills seem to drop very often and there appear to be quite a few of them. In the one short area we're allowed to play through, I easily filled my rune inventory and had prolly 6-7 different ones.

The inventory works a lot like it always has, it isn't grid based this time, you have X number of slots for items, regardless of their size. You also have 4 bag slots where you can add bags of varying sizes to increase the number of slots in your main inventory. I guess I'm spoiled by MMOs of late, was really hoping to see a seperate Quest inventory but there wasn't one, even though there WAS a seperate run inventory, odd. But it's still very early in development so there's a chance that could change.

Monster deaths are very cool in D3. You have your 'basic' deaths, then your 'epic' deaths, usually for the bosses and mini-bosses. Certain mobs also have their own special ways to die, like the 'Grotesque' that explodes and sends worms/lampreys all over to attack you. Then on top of that there are critical kills, for when you manage to kill a mob with a critical hit AND finally there are skill kills, certain skills kill the mobs differently. Quite logically though, for example an acid attack will melt the mob down to the floor leaving only a puddle, or cold based skills freeze and shatter them.

Ok, heading back to the show now, more to come later. :)


Ok, so I took another hour long spin on D3 (I know, it seems to be all I'm talking about, but it is definitely the focal point of the show. There's little to nothing to report on the WoW front and the only real SC2 news was the 3 product split.) Naturally I played through the same area, which I realized I didn't really go into detail about last time. You start off in Tristram naturally, though it's been quite torn asunder by some "fire falling from the sky." This story takes place about 20 years after we last visited the world of Diablo. You first run into some folks burning dead bodies just outside of town who warn you not to go in else you'll die. Interesting side note, their reactions to you differ based on the class you're playing. The big burly Barbarian gets FAR more respect from the Captain than the other 2 playable classes. The witch doctor basically gets treated like a freak and the Wizard like some upstart overconfident punk.

Anyway, you wander into town, not much to do here at this point in the game, just a handful of zombies to kill, one quest to get a little girl's spirit out of the town well and then a wounded soldier who sends you on your main mission, into the Cathedral. In the limited demo section we've been allowed to play here you go through 3-4 levels of the Cathedral and the catacombs below, fighting a couple mini-bosses along the way before finally getting to the Skeleton King, who is the boss of the area.

One very interesting thing I noticed going through it this time around was not only do the layout of the levels change up, but the side quests available in the levels change as well. The first time through I ran into a wounded adventurer who had bought an antique box off of someone in town and was told to place it on an altar to get lots of loot, err treasure. But he's too much of a wuss to continue on so gives you the box and flees. The 2nd time through that guy was nowhere to be seen, but I did run into a Captain looking for the rest of his soldiers. So you escort him to where his guys are cornered by a buncha skeletons and rescue them. The side quests award you with experience and 1 magic item, from my experience so far.

Another feature of the game that I'm absolutely loving is environmental kills. There are a lot of chances throughout the levels to drop chandeliers, bookcases, stacks of wood, scaffolding, all kinds of things on groups of enemies. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately depending on your playstyle or the people you're playing with, they seem to damage other players when in multi-player.

Couple other interesting things to note: When you level, they've taken the whole 'ding' effect to the next level. Now when you ding, a radial blast emits from your character killing anything around you. They come in very handy if you keep an eye on your XP bar and plan it well, moving into a large group of mobs right before you ding. This also plays heavily into the next tidbit: Kill chains, killing mobs rapidly in succession or together in large groups racks up a multiplier, the higher it goes, the more bonus XP you get when your killing streak finally ends. It also keeps track of your highest number, and if you break your record that also affects your bonus.

So yeah, back to the show now. More updates when I'm able! :)

BlizzCon Report the First - Updated 1700

Posted by RJCox Friday October 10 2008 at 4:52PM
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So here I am, sitting in lovely Anaheim, CA. Then trip out here was fun and eventful. We're still recovering from Hurricane Ike, so I've been swamped with roof repairs and tree clearing and insurance dealings for the past several weeks. A trip was just what I needed to get away from it all for a bit. The flight was ok. There were a buncha kids, really small kids, stroller and carseat sized kids, the kind who tend to make a lot of noise on planes. There was also an escorted convict on the flight, looked like something from the movies, shackles and the stereotypical jacket hung over the wrist cuffs. Then my cab, oh jeez, I've never thought we were going to rearend someone more times in my life. The driver was one of those who like to stay about 2 feet off the car in front's bumper, regardless of how fast they're going or other traffic conditions. But I made it to my hotel alive, and checked in, only to discover the guy in the room next to me is probably an OCD crackhead... I spent most of the night listening to him opening and closing every drawer and door in his room over and over while talking very loudly to himself about nonsensical things...

BlizzCon opened this morning to a mad rush of screaming fans. So far I've attended the opening ceremony/speech and a panel on the classes in Diablo 3. The Wizard was announced and added to the class listing for Diablo 3 during the opening speech. Very interesting looking class, definitely my pick to play of the 3 debuted so far. The stereotypical glass canon taken to the next level. It definitely seems like this BlizzCon is very much more focused on Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 than WoW, even with the expansion right around the corner. But then again there isn't much they could say about WotLK that they haven't already said at this point. And no mention or even hints at their top secret in-the-works new MMO, not that I had any real hope there would be this far out.

Anyway, stay tuned and I'll update as I'm able. Back to get some playtime in on D3 now. :)


More info about the skill system in D3, there will indeed be skill trees, as there have been in Diablo previously, but they're going back to the skills dropping as loot like in Diablo 1. Also there's a "rune system" where you can add runes to your skills to change the functionality and appearance of them. Some of the examples they gave were with the Wizard's teleport skill and the Witch Doctor's flaming skull skill. They showed the base teleport skill, which functioned the same as it always has, just jumps you to a different area on the screen. Then they added a "striking rune" to the skill which caused the Wizard to do damage to mobs in the area where she appeared. And then they added a "multi-strike rune" to it which caused the wizard to teleport around the screen hitting multiple enemies kinda like Nightcrawler does in the Marvel Alliance games. With the flaming skull skill, when they added the "multi-strike rune" to it, it caused the skull to bounce damaging multiple enemies in a path, the farther you threw it, the more bounces it took. They also added a "power rune" to it which caused the skill to leave areas of fire on the ground that would damage any enemies that wandered into them. They also showed the Wizard's electrocute skill, which works kinda like chain lightning in the previous game. By adding "multi-strike" to it, it caused the lightning to bounce to more enemies. They also showed it with a "lethality rune" added to it which caused any enemy hit to explode doing radial damage. Overall I think the system looks to be very well done and interesting, definitely leading to some high levels of customization and differentiation.

In Starcraft 2 news, they just announced that SC2 will actually be 3 games instead of just one. Basically the stories they wrote for each campaign would have taken far too long to make as a single product, so they're splitting them up and launching them individually. Instead of the 10-12 missions per campaign like in previous games, the campaigns in the SC2 trilogy will have 26-30 missions, with lots of branching missions and such. The first to be released will be the Terran, followed by the Zerg and finally the Protoss. But fear not on the multiplayer skirmish front, all 3 races will be finished and functional in all 3 products for multiplayer skirmishes.

PAX Wrapup

Posted by RJCox Monday September 1 2008 at 12:15PM
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Sorry for the lack of an entry for Day 3. I was only there for half the day and ended up spending most of that dealing with hurricane prep. I'm back home now, Gustav has made landfall and missed us, but it's still heading this direction over land, so we're going to get a good bit of rain and wind, so very likely will lose power/net for at least a while. I have 3 articles to wrap up on PAX: the Aion interview and handson impressions, an interview about community stuff with Flying Lab for Pirates of the Burning Sea and an overall PAX impressions/report. Hope to have those done in the next day or two so we can get them posted for your reading pleasure. Hopefully I'll have another great surprise for everyone, waiting to hear back from Cryptic about it officially though. So anyway, again, sorry I wasn't able to provide as good of coverage from PAX as I should have, and stay tuned for the articles which should be coming soon. :)

PAX Day Two - Updated 1600

Posted by RJCox Saturday August 30 2008 at 11:01AM
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0745: Good morning all. I swear I just laid down like 5 minutes ago, stupid time differences. Anyway, lets see what's on the schedule for today... Turbine, NetDevil, NCSoft and the Jeff & Paul show for WAR. At least that's the plan, we'll see how well that goes though.

So yeah, they're starting to evacuate back home. Gustav is looking like it could get bad. Cat 3 currently and projected to be at least a Cat 4 once he hits the gulf. Still projected to hit closer to New Orleans than us, not that they really need another storm, but still. Not quite sure how likely it is going to be to be able to fly INTO an area that they're evacuating people OUT of, but I guess I'll find out Mon morning...

Anyway, back on topic, sorry, the storm's just on my mind a lot currently. Anyway, so yeah, those are the things above we have scheduled in, and we have free time around those, so I'll prolly hit some other stuff along the way as well. Definitely wanna get some more time in playing Aion. Beyond that your guess is as good as mine and we'll just see what comes out of it all...

As always, updates when I can break away and find the net. :)

1600: Ok, sorry for the lack of updates today, and really I don't have much to update right now. I've actually spent most of the day on the phone coordinating the evacuation of my family from halfway across the country. Nothing makes evacuating from a hurricane worse, unless your trying to get your family out and you're not there to directly take control and make sure everything happens as it should and everyone is safe and taken care of. I would have already left to fly back early but my local airport is already cancelling flights, and being stuck in an airport somewhere is no more helpful to my family than being here in Seattle where I already have a hotel room. As for the show itself all I've really gotten to do today between all the dealing with Mr Gustav was a little handson time with Champions Online. Nothing new to really report there, same build as I played at GenCon, still a blast to play. That and both the Cryptic folks and the CCP folks have been great about helping me keep my mind off of the hurricane and everything back home. Thanks to everyone here who has been sending me and my family well wishes and such.

PAX Day One - Updated 0300

Posted by RJCox Friday August 29 2008 at 10:47AM
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Woot! Here I am, in Seattle, finally. Seattle is one of those towns that I absolutely love, but absolutely hate traveling to. I have to set aside a whole day travel time each way to get here. It isn't NEARLY as bad as when I was living in Virginia, geez those east to west coast flights sucked, but being in Texas it is still a HUGE pain. So yeah, I landed at about 1:07am this morning, got settled into my hotel at about 2am and up and ready to work by 7.

Well, let me be completely honest about that last bit. I was up at 7 because a friend back home called me. He works with the Coast Guard and apparently they're already throwing around words like "state of emergency" and "general evacuation" in regards to Mr Gustav out there hammering on Jamaica currently. Yes, I live in hurricane alley, prolly 30 minutes or so from the gulf coast. Crappy weekend to be out of town I guess, I'm sure the wife is cursing me up, down left and right about now, since she has to deal with the 3 kids (one of which is only 2 months old) and 2 dogs in the new house all alone. Plus it sucks because I know damn well Gustav isn't going to be gone by time Sunday night rolls around and I'm ready to fly back home... Knowing my luck he'll be JUST starting to pound on the gulf coast which means I'll get stuck in some airport somewhere for days on end. That's just how my luck tends to roll.

Anyway, back to PAX, lets see what's on the schedule today...

Today's lineup seems to be NCSoft (where I'll be getting one of the first ever handson sessions with Aion in NA, well, ok, maybe a slight exaggeration there, but there definitely haven't been many!) and we'll check in on all the rest of the games in their lineup. We'll also be swinging by the Mythic Entertainment booth to see how the Gold to Launch process is going. We also have Flying Lab penciled in for some Piratey goodness and then to cap it all off Cryptic is throwing a huge Champions Online party tonite. I'm sure we'll squeeze other stuff in between all that as well, we purposefully left gaps in there just for that reason, so stay tuned!

I'll be making updates here as I can throughout the day, it will all depend on how accessible the net is in the convention hall.

1000: So I'm here at the convention hall, got my badge, got my swag bag, nothing all that impressive in it, but there rarely is at these kinda shows, mostly just promo cards for the various exhibitors and such. The real swag comes from the booths. Early access for the press is supposed to start at noon, but there appears to be some issues with that, so we'll see. As for Turbine, I'll see what I can do but I can almost guarantee *IF* there are any such plans they will absolutely not admit or talk about them this early. At best I think I can hope for a canned "It's definitely something we've considered and will continue to consider down the road." They'd be silly to say anything else, since they won't admit to something that may or may not happen nor will they completely write off the franchise and any chances of doing it down the road...

More updates later as I learn when I can get into the actual hall and start seeing stuffz! :)

1200: Spent about an hour hanging out at the NCSoft booth playing Aion and chatting with the producer, assistant producer and others. Got lots of great information and absolutely loved my time playing the game so expect a great write-up on this as soon as I get time to sit and rework my notes into something that makes a remote amount of sense to anyone other than myself.

1330: MmMMMmMMMmmm... Fallout 3 goodness... Prolly my most anticipated non-MMO title of the show, or well period, and I got to play. *drool*

1400: Wandered around the show for a while seeing various things. Played some Starcraft 2, everything you'd expect it to be. Swung by the WAR booth, lots more familiar faces at this show than there were at GenCon. Visited the Left 4 Dead booth but the line was too long to get in on the zombie slaughtering goodness.

1500: Went by Flying Labs Software and interviewed them. Got some great community based information, which will come in a write-up, again as soon as I can compose the notes into something understandable.

1600: The crepe place outside the hall keeps calling my name... Smells so yummy... Getting so hungry... Also trying to decide between the Cryptic and Turbine parties tonight. Tough call... Will have to see how close together they are and if hopping back and forth is an option... Done with the scheduled stuff for the day, anything else I get will be spur of the moment booth drivebys, so we'll see what's left to update after the day is done.

0300: So yeah, I guess this would technically be day two, but since I haven't slept yet, it's still day one in my world. :P Hit both the Cryptic and the Turbine parties. Got a little lost on the way to the Cryptic party since it was a bit away from the convention center... Discovered a couple things on our scenic foot tour through downtown Seattle: 1) They grow their pigeons pretty damn big hear, we got chickens back home that ain't got nothing on some of these things. Huge I tell ya! 2) VERY dog friendly town, people walking their pooches everywhere, insides shops, in the convention hall, all over the place. 3) This must be the mohawk capital of the world, I swear every other person I see is sporting the do, even saw more than one homeless person with mohawks... just odd. Anyway, I digress, the Cryptic party was a blast, as always. Big props to Nat and all the folks over at Reverb who handle the PR/Marketing type stuff for Champions, they know how to throw a bash. Turbine party was also a great time, always enjoy when I get to hang out with that crew. And now I go to sleep so I can wake up in 4 hours and start all over again! See the sacrifices I make to bring you guys all the great coverage? ;) I kid, I kid, I'm damn lucky and I know it. Oh, and just for you Sam, no incidents with the nipple rings thus far. ;)