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Spouse Aggro!

I blog at, write for, run and post all over the net. HOWDY!

Author: beauturkey

A prediction about Aion's release...

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday July 29 2009 at 10:38PM
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Ok, so this will be my attempt at predicting how Aion's release will go.

Note right now, from the beginning of this blog, that I am not saying that I wish for Aion to do poorly AT ALL. In fact, it is the opposite. If you comment something along those lines, you win for Best Avoiderer of Really Obviously Stated Points.

To start, I can't make some kind of cloudy prediction, that's too easy. I can say general things and might get close to correct, but I'd rather be all grown up and put it out on the table. Be aware that I know nothing about Aion but what I have heard when talking to good friends like Cindy, reading some articles and blogs here and there, and from playing it a bit in beta.


So, I have no idea if they made announcements about server types or what to expect from the beginning. I am semi-comfortable in my prediction because while many bloggers/podcasters/community members like to say that they are "jaded old gamers", I like to say that I am more of a "jaded old community member."

That is to say that most of the MMO worlds issues are caused by the community, not the developers. For many reasons.

I am not saying that it is bad or good, just that it is.

Anyway, on to my prediction, which has to do with Aion and it's "success."

Ok, ready?

*deep breath*

Aion will do OK, to start off with. It will sell plenty of boxes/downloads and will be played by what most would consider a good amount of people. I am going with (these specifics are the hard part, but screw it I can't wuss out now) 575,000 people. It will open with 12 servers.

Then, after 5 months, we will see the first " the game messed up" posts. Well, not the first, I am sure that many beta players are already saying that, but oh well.

Soon after 5 months, let's say on Feb 16th, 2010, the game will start to show some serious wear despite being brand new and actually a good game.

The strong PvP element will scare off most players. Server mergers will be announced on May 23rd, 2010.

PvP'ers will stick around, the game moves on with 5 servers.

The rest of the players will move on to being excited about the next game, without realizing that the cycle is starting again. The same cycle they have been a part of for the last several years:

1) New Game gets announced. Players talk about why it is good, even though they haven't played it.

2) Players begin to compare it's game-play to WoW.

3) Beta's get handed out, players get more excited to see the new game in action.

4) (we'll skip all this stuff about release and all that.)

5) Players get bored because they play the game for 6 hours a night for 2 months straight, and move on.

Anyway, those are my specifics. I hope I am wrong, but in this age of instant information, full game trial downloads within 2 hours and so so so many MMO's (and more coming out all the time) players get bored faster and faster and faster. I am curious to see when the great mass of players will have a collective AH-HA! moment and deal with their problem by just enjoying many games at one time.

If you are uncurably bored, the only cure is variety, not playing with one toy for so many hours until your know, bored.

I could be way, way off.  We'll see, and I hope so.


Where is my table-top MMO?

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday July 28 2009 at 4:11PM
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I still remember it. It was a 4 x 8 piece of plywood taken from one of my Pop's many piles of concrete supplies, with base-boards (look at where your floor meets your wall..those are base-boards) tacked on to the sides to hold sand.

You could wet the sand down, form it into little hills or pits. I would plunk down allowances to buy model railroad trees to decorate with. After a good year or so, I had quite the miniature landscaping business going on in my own bedroom. I would invite 4 or 5 of my closest buddies and we would spend all day slowly fighting each other, taking breaks to walk to the store for pop and candy or fried chicken. We would curse, talk about girls (which we knew nothing about at the time) and generally acted like 14 (or was it 13 or 15? 20 years ago..) year olds.

Some original cards, epic scale and 40k scale mini's.

I have been looking for that experience for a long, long time. I have a table-top store across the street so I will hopefully start forming up with those guys, but they don't play 40k, they mainly play modern games like War Machine or LotR Mini's. Also, those game shop guys are so uppity about the rules that, even as you play normally and as the rules tell you to, they will stop every time you move to "check something." I hated those guys.

So why not use the internet and all it's wonderful applications to allow people to host virtual games? Granted, my friend Shuttler from the Limited Edition podcast made a good point in basically saying "..nah, I need to get out of the house more often to play with real people.."  but that is not always possible. Imagine being able to set up a virtual table with hills, landscaping and local animals. Then, you and your friends take turns nominating their starting point, then you all lay out your armies using the same old rules of table-top. The process was slow, but it gave you a feeling of laying out a grand army, and gave you a chance to show off painting skills (or lack thereof) and a chance to talk to each other about the lore, the game. It was bonding.

Something was lost, I think, when gaming went from meeting with people to meeting with people virtually. While I would never trade my Internet for anything in the world, and while I love all my internet B.F.F's from all over the world, there are a few things that I have been missing lately:

1) Taking time to play: Nowadays a "bio" is about the greatest pause you can place on a game. Getting up to get a drink has to be quick, less your guild gets pissed off. In table-top, you could take a break, have a smoke, talk about other stuff. One of my favorite events would happen when the two or three sides of gamers would break into their own little groups to discuss strategies, saying stuff like "Bring that Titan down to meet those tanks, I'll move my gunners there..." It was serious, but not too serious because you had the reality of another person right in front of you. It was REAL turn based, and the turns lasted as long as the patience of the other gamers.

2) Sportsmanship: When we used to play table-top, you had to be a good sport or you might get your face hit. I remember one of my friends just getting mad and pulling out his army and walking home, so after that no one invited him anymore. In the wonderful world of the Internet, players can say what they want or do what they want. While I think that most players you will come across are decent enough folk, they are not the problem. It only takes one asshole to ruin a group. Also, MMO's don't really ALLOW or force good sportsmanship. When you get killed or kill someone, the player that lost is wisked away to some graveyard, space-station or respawn point. Out of sight, out of mind. It's really no ones fault that they are not forced to continue to deal with someone after a fight.

3) Customization: I used to paint my models pretty plainly, but they would take time. I liked solid red's or dark gray's, but I would wash them in inks and roll them in dirt. I love beating up armor and making my army seem like they had actually seen combat. One of my buddies would paint them in great detail, but they would look as clean as a brand new unit. Yet another friend was horrible at painting, so he would just make them a mish-mash of chaotic colors. There was always that one guy, though, that would try and point out that you might not be following the Lore when it came to your paint-job, but he smelled like B.O. and wasn't invited often.

There are a few MMO's that give a semi table-top experience, even if it is just in some parts of the game.

Atlantica Online, for example, feels a little like table-top. Some of the units really look like old WAR 40k models, and the turn-based combat plays a little like table-top. It's a real pleasure watching the animations and I only wish that they would eventually make an expansion that allows your army to move around a field, change positions, etc.

  CLICK HERE FOR A VIEW OF ATLANTICA ONLINE. ( does not allow embedding.) 

Then there is Pox Nora, which is a great F2P game from SOE. These little sprites would be PERFECT for customization, and you can play it on any machine:


A few years ago, there was a game that played by the rules of the tabletop: Chaos Gate for the PC. I LOVED that game, and still have the original CD's to install it. (I wonder if I could somehow?) You would move each marine, tell him where to fire...classic! To think that these same rules could be applied to an MMO! And I mean MMO, as in your army moves around the map, you could have quests which would pit your army against an NPC army, you could work in groups to take lands. All the great things about table top within a persistent world!


Who knows, maybe one day this wonderful technology will allow us that don't have the room for a table the luxury of playing on one. In the meanwhile, I will probably go across the street and check out some of the games going on at the game shop.

I just hope THAT GUY isn't there.


Why sub games always lose out in this household.

Posted by beauturkey Monday July 27 2009 at 2:07PM
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Typically we only maintain one subscription in this house anymore. That's World of Warcraft, and that's for my wife.

Occasionally (meaning every other month maybe?) I might join up with her on my old account, or rejoin Vanguard for a few months, or will have my accounts re-activated for any number of reasons, but overall I just don't do subscription games. There are many, many reasons, some big and some small. I have surprised myself when thinking hard about why I favor F2P's over sub-based games. Some of these reasons might seem a little strange, but we all have little odd reasons for gaming why we do.

1) The F2P's usually offer more choices for controls: I must have as many options for controls as possible. My tennis elbow/carpal tunnel is bad enough anymore that I ice my arms down about twice a day, and that is only with playing games a few hours. Granted, the Ecks Bocks has made it a lot worse, so I am doing homework to find games that use less button mashing (but dammit, I'm LOVING LotR: Conquest!) Still, I not only need click-to-move sometimes, but need alternate camera controls like Mabinogi's brilliant "move-your-mouse-to-the-side-of-the-screen-for-rotation". I also love the ability to click on the mini-map to auto-move myself or a game like Ether Saga's "auto move to quest giver" option. Essentially, you can click on key words within quest text to take you directly to the task-giver or to the area you might want to look in. It takes away from the Immersion, of course, but as an option it is VERY handy when I need it. This small issue I have gives me a glimpse into the world of frustration that a disabled gamer must be in. Imagine knowing that a simple option like alternate camera movement could help you play a game, without it being in the game.


2) I have enough things tossing around in my head, I don't need to keep track of a sub: This one is a tiny thing, but I have to admit that I have so many little bills and subscriptions (Game Fly, NetFlix) coming out of our bank every month that I actually will forget a sub or two. While we have the cash to afford it, I don't want to waste money. F2P's are essentially the same as a sub game, but just imagine that instead of automatically getting billed once a month, you spend 25 dollars every 2 months on cash shop items. I spend my money where/when I want.

3) Minus the few exceptions like my favorite sub MMO's, most just don't do anything unique enough to make me want to pay: Grinding exists in ALL games, we all know that. There is repetitive game-play and boring quests in ALL mmo's, free or not. I am tired of players saying that there is no quality to be found in F2P's, while they write blogs whining about the lack of original or fun game-play in the P2P world. And you can find the same kinds of fun within F2P's, easily. Meaningful lore, fun long quests and great crafting can all be found in both types of games. Show me a game with great crafting, and I'll show you a F2P with the same. Same goes for all the staples of the MMO world. Granted, P2P's overall have "nicer" graphics, but we all know how fast F2P's are catching up to that as well. Free Realms and Runes of Magic can give WoW a run for it's money, and games like DDO and The Chronicles of Spellborn will soon raise the bar even more.

I have found that there is no MMO that has absolutely everything you want in it. One game might hold the best crafting, while another holds the best Lore. This is the same with F2P's, but I can feel better "skipping around" in those because they cost nothing.

4) I like buying things, and like new stuff: Cash shops are not only easy to update with new items (apparently) but those new items can often come out alongside new areas/content. Look at Mabinogi for a great example of new releases coming out very regularly, and all for free. Look at how much Runes of Magic has been updated lately, and then compare that to a game like Ryzom or Vanguard. Why should I pay 15 dollars a month for the occasional (every 4 months or more?)  new set of items or quests, when I can use that 15 dollars a month for shopping and fun stuff while new content comes out more often?

Many people seem to think that I am saying that, on average, F2P games are of higher "quality" than the bunch of P2P North American MMO's. I am not. Just like with the P2P games, there are gems that stand out amongst all the crap. If you counted the "major" MMO's here in North America, you would be up to something like 8 or 10 games?  Now, consider the number of F2P games that are not only doing well, but provide as much fun as any NA MMO. They are, at least, tied in number. I'm not saying that F2P's are better, but are at least as good.

F2P's are obviously not only increasing at a faster rate, but increasing in quality. Many people claim to not see it, but they don't play these games. I play them all. Within the last year alone there have been releases that not only play as well as any NA title, but do many things better. And guess what? They're FREE, with the option to spend your "sub" on fun fluffy stuff. (The stuff that P2P players spend hours grinding after just to gripe about the grind later.)

I am still sticking by my prediction: by the end of 2010 most NA titles will have some kind of RMT/cash-shop included in their game. And soon after many will be switching to a F2P model. If I am wrong, then I will pay your sub for a month. But my guess is that P2P mmo's should be a little scared. With games like Runes of Magic gaining 700,000 players (according to them) which means that that might easily be equivalent to a P2P game with 50-100k subscribers, the current market of 10k-300k NA games might need to keep an eye out.


5 years of EVE have taught me a bit.

Posted by beauturkey Sunday July 26 2009 at 1:22PM
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These are simple comparisons of the good and bad of EVE online. My account turns 5 years old on the 30th, so the "return to EVE for 5 days" gift is a nice birthday present. Thanks to CCP I am exploring space for the first time in 8 months or so.

1) The game continues to evolve: Like any good "older" game ( I can't believe some of us think of the last 10 years as a "long time") it adds layers naturally. Imagine if you started a story today, and it was comprised of one paragraph. After a year or two of adding more paragraphs every week you would have a pretty complex fun little story. That's how EVE is, and every time I return I am surprised by some nice little update or graphical change.

Of course, many of these changes are nothing large enough to change the core game-play, or to really blow you away. Walking around in stations would be such a change, or being able to crew a ship with your friends (yes, I know...the LORE. But screw that. They can change it to make the game more fun.) So, only a veteran player might appreciate the little things.

Maybe wormholes or factional stuff would blow me away, so I will check those out next.


2) The game continues to be a sausage party: Within 5 minutes of logging in for the first time in 8 months, the word "p**is" appeared 4 times. What is it about games like EVE, Darkfall, UO and the PvP server of EQ2 that attract such spicy talk? It is, like I said on Massively 62, the lack of girls. When I asked in chat why they talked so much to each other about their p****es, they got smarmy and just started talking about their pe****s more. Then, someone brought in race, then they asked if I were gay, then brought in religion, race, and pe****s in a contest to see who could use the foulest language.

While I know that there ARE females that play EVE, I would wager that maybe 1 percent of the population is female. Why should I care? Because when you gather together a bunch of men, they tend to want to talk about their ****** a lot. I don't know why, and I always wondered if I were normal in being uncomfortable with talking about my parts with other boys, but I guess I must be the odd man out. I think it is a basic human male trait, something that comes from cave-men days when we used to strut around peeing on trees to impress each other.

Thing is, I don't like peeing on trees, much less in front of a bunch of 2o somethings that listen to bad music. MUCH LESS trees in space.

On the other hand, some of the best nerdrific times can be had while hanging out with your buddies. You can only feel normal surrounded by your nerd friends while staring at a screen filled with tiny space-ships.

It would just be nice if they would try to address the issue of non-existent females in their game. It seems they think that once you can walk around in stations that female players will flock to the game to play space-dolls, but I think it is much simpler than that. The less females play, the less females want to play. It's not that girls only want to play with other girls or that girls cannot "hold their own" against boys, it's just a matter of sticking out. The two girls I met (in the entire 5 years of play) stuck out like sore thumbs. If they got on the Vent channel, WATCH OUT. Worse yet if they insulted some guy, being that soon would follow a stream of curse words and threats that would make any player embarrassed.

Even the developers seem to acknowledge this boy-on-boy action: (from their explanation of certificates, a new cool "achievement" type system) "Wondering just what the hell to train next on your 80 million SP character? Or just want to wave your Gunnery e-peen around? Read on!"

 Also, look up EVE fan-fest and you will notice that usually the only girls there are the ones that are paid to be there.

This is also a culture in which it has become OK to use the word "rape" to describe playing a video-game. While I am not mainly offended because of some kind of PC soft-spot, I am mainly offended because the very term comes from a place of MALENESS. Instead of worrying about making space-dolls to attract women, just no longer allow the use of the words n****r, f*g, d*ke, rape, c**k, pe**s, wiener, dingaling, or shlong and half of the community will dry up for lack of things to do. By the way, that would be a good thing.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe that's why I don't get into watching football with my male friends.

3) EVE isn't hard, just hard to read about: EVE is as hard as reading a thick novel. Like any good novel you have to set it down once in a while, maybe chat with your friends about it. It isn't hard to read the novel, just hard to find the time to finish it. EVE is that way: filled with information that needs to be read, and that takes time to finish.

It is a good boring, though, in the way that a good game of chess or a table-top game can be. It is filled with moments of leaning back in your chair pondering what to do next. You feel like a commander of a giant space ship sometimes, in the way that you have to be careful, wait things out sometimes, and walk quietly. Sometimes you set your ship on auto-pilot and go do laundry while it flies, thinking about what you will do when you get to your destination. I hope it makes sense to say that EVE can be dull in a good way.

And the challenge in EVE doesn't come from split-second timing or with knowing the strats of a dungeon. It comes from reading about whatever blocks your path (or by asking other players) and learning how to get past it. It took me a few of these years to figure out what kind of player I want to be or what kind of ship I want to pilot, but now I know. I like small ships, cloaking, exploring. I have a Covert Ops ship that I am still figuring out and a few elite frigates. I keep a Raven outfitted always, just in case I feel like going on mission runs. But overall, you can do a lot in the role you want if you just read about it.

4) War is boring, and so is combat: Again, this is a good thing. If you think about a battle between giant space-ships, it would be pretty slow moving, strategic. While there are moments of excitement in EVE, most large scale battles come down to just trying to survive while trying to kill someone else. Usually you know your target and try to concentrate on that.

In solo play/missions/pvp, you might hammer away at your enemy for a long time. Missiles take several seconds to reach them, and unless you are greatly outgunned, a fight can last for an eternity. This is boring, but in that chess-game way. If you start to get hurt too much and have done your home-work, you know when to call it and warp out, or you might have a back-up plan to help you survive.

Don't get me wrong, there have been times in war when I warped in, targeted someone and killed them before they even came back from taking a pee, and vice-versa. But generally fighting in EVE is a long (in comparison to other MMO's) process.

Having said all this, EVE is a great Sunday afternoon game. Just like football, you can sit around with a beer daydreaming about power. EVE is essentially one big browser game, with it's log-in-check-stuff-log-out play-style, so it's a great game for RMT. You don't even have to play for characters or for ships, just buy them with real life money. Buy a miner character and the ship to go with it, log in to mine while AFK. Or you can, of course, spend 5 years playing like me.

I give a nod to the attempts at making the game better, like the skill queue, but I am not sure that it does enough. Sure, you can fill up 24 hours worth of skill training (unless I am missing it where you can set it for more time) but in a higher "level" most of your skills will take much longer than that to train. Again, this is based on possibly not knowing more about the system, but my gut feeling is that they didn't want to allow players to set a month of skill training because they knew that the populations in game would quickly drop. Players would simply log into their 2 or 3 accounts (many players have multiple accounts), start a skill training and then only log in to check it once in a while. Soon, the game would go from having tons of players on at once to having tons of players checking in every once in a while.

Anyway, not enough has changed to make me sub again to EVE after this 5 day return. The game is great if you are into it's type of game-play, but be aware that EVE is simply a game of time and of maintenance.

Not that that's always a bad thing.


Can you be "successful" at 2 hours a day?

Posted by beauturkey Friday July 24 2009 at 11:47AM
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Saylah just posted a good blog about social games and how they don't really work with her and her intolerance for searching out fun. It's true that in social games you might need to take a good amount of time finding the cool hang-outs, or the prettiest spots to visit. To me, that is the point of a social game but I can see how it might seem as boring as standing in line for a carnival and not worth the wait.

The post reminded me of something that many players say: "You have to commit time to be successful at MMO's." (not saying Saylah is saying that, just that it reminded me of that. Damn I always have to post these silly waivers. )

In fact I often receive gruff for not "committing" to one game (or a few) and for not making the usual MMO goals my own. But every time someone makes fun of me for not having one piece of max-level gear on my character, I always wonder what the hell kind of rule-book they have that tells them that the game should be played in a certain way or for a certain amount of time. What they are confusing me for is for someone that either has the time (or the want) to play as much as they do, or that places value on what they do.

Also, what IS success?


Success simply depends on the goal. If you want that max-level gear, then the goal is to get it. If you place limits on how much time it should take then you have made the goal and determined the specifications for success. Some timed goals are made by the game, but those are rare. There are timed quests (rare), timed crafting sessions (rare) and a few other fluffy title type goals (server firsts, again rare.) Of course, something like going into a raid is timed as far as you cannot go in and out forever (even though it can spread out over a week), but raiding is a choice and does not make up the bulk of any game unless chosen. If you choose to go down the quest line that leads you to that raid, and choose to see it through, you must take the time to do it. That is a given.

Most anything in an MMO can be "paused" or came back to at a later time. Quests come in chapters, stories can be played through in small chunks. Back in EQ days, raiding might have taken 2 days, but those days are generally gone and even raiding or crafting sessions should only take one evening. Of course, there are those that raid every night or will raid new content as fast as possible for server firsts, but those are goals that only hold meaning for the individual player/guild and mean nothing to players that want it to mean nothing to them.

Also, success is so variable that I am almost shocked when people bring it up in this day and age. It seems obvious that different players have different goals, so it is a little strange that some players still don't understand that.

For example, Syncaine seemed a little perplexed why I would say that death has no meaning in Darkfall, being that he felt it had meaning. It does not, unless you place that meaning on it or unless you have a goal of either avoiding death or killing more players than the next guy. There is no game mechanic that forces you to avoid death, or to avoid killing or to kill players. If there was a forced game mechanic that did that, then players like me couldn't log in and play the way I do. Sure, there are game mechanics that encourage certain goals but most are never forced.

So any of us can attach any goals to any game we want, and can go after those goals in a speedy fashion or in a slower mode.

As a player that plays only about 2 hours a night, I can tell you that I have had a lot of success in gaming. My goal has always been to explore, to have fun and to meet people. I have done that. My goals are not the goals of my wife, who seems to want to have a cool guild, to raid some and raise her alts to max level. Our friend Stomp seems to want to raid night after night, so her goals will require more time. Like I said, there are very few goals in most games that are forced or cannot be spread out among a longer period of time. There are very few things that require you to finish what you started within a very limited time.

So I am not sure I understand anyone that claims any type of success, being that anyone can set any goal to achieve and claim success. Even in real life success depends on the individual, and I have met people that are very successful in many ways but are miserable, and people that have almost nothing and are amazingly happy.

So yes, you can be successful on 2 hours a night. You can also be miserable. Or, you can be successful and miserable at the same time by spending too much time inside a video game and not enough time in, you know, the real world. Granted, some players are not as able to physically get out of the game and into the real world as myself, but that is an entirely different and more important topic.

And even with all this, there are players that would read this and think "That guy is just saying that because he cannot hold his own in the game." Even with all the variables in game-play, with all the different types of games like social games or puzzle based games, there are still players that think that the classic goals of achieving max level and getting good stuff is the norm. That's a little perplexing to me being that I meet so many people that have nothing to do with that and that I have seen the changes to MMO'ing over the last 10 years from time-heavy games to games that offer the choice.

But to me it's like saying that you, fair reader, are not a good drummer like I am.  I could make fun of your lack of drumming skills, but you have never attempted to drum. You can make fun of me for my lack of parenting skills, but I have no children and are never going to attempt having children. Thinking that there are some certain universal set of goals in most MMO's like avoiding death, getting the best gear or writing the longest role-play story is about as silly as that.

Anyway, blogging doesn't count towards my 2 hour gaming allowance, so I'm off to play some Free Realms, a quest in Vanguard, followed by some Mabinogi.


In lighter news, I found another pile of cat parts today. The coyotes tend to leave just some back skin, a few parts of muscle, and the face of the cat. That's right, the face only. Most wild doggies eat the bones and teeth, and I can just picture these scraggly coyotes stripping that face off of the screaming cat, placing the mask on the bridge of their nose and dancing while singing "Look at me, I'm a cat! MEROOWW! MEEROOWW!"

The ironic thing is that this cat might have belonged to the lady that leaves her dog tied up in the backyard all day. He's a big funny brown lab that needs exercise, attention and WALKS. God forbid he actually get off his chain once in a while. But, he is hard to control so she leaves him on a chain while her cat has the freedom to roam the neighborhood and to get it's face ripped off while still alive. I guess cats are somehow special in the freedom department, and are much less vulnerable than a 100 pound brown lab.

F****** nonsensical world we live in.


Has Fable II cured my single player loneliness?

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday July 22 2009 at 10:36PM
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As the title would indicate, I have been playing and enjoying Fable II for the Ecks Bocks 360. Don't worry, I'm not pulling a MOG and will not stop talking about MMO's! :) But, I was bound to get a console again eventually (had an older Ecks Bocks years back) and I am very glad that I chose to.

The first time around, all the game were fun enough (but many not so original) but most of them just felt like I was alone in a amusement park. Fun? Yes. Lonely? Yes, as well. You need someone with you to enjoy the sites and sounds of some of these games. But, of course, Xbox live has it's own downfalls. The few times I played on it were filled with more "f***", "b*****s" and "r**es" than I care to remember, but this time around I felt more secure by the fact that I already had B.F.F's from around the globe to lean on.


Well, I haven't been able to hook with many of them, for many reasons, but we message each other and will eventually sync schedules. In the meanwhile my wife hooked me up with Game-Fly, and here came Fable II.

The first time I tried it went pretty much the same: I liked the graphics, enjoyed the choices, but felt very lonely. No one was there to go "Oh COOL!" with me. (Well, Leala is sitting at her PC next to the big new TV, but she is busy with her game.) No real life friends, just animatronic NPC puppets going through the motions that they go through with millions of other players. My character, the same character every one else played. The story... the same one everyone else read.

But today at work I found myself looking forward to coming home to play with my dog, which I named Roy, in the game. (Named after my real life dog.) I also found myself really thinking about the story, looking forward to exploring more of the world. It felt like I was reading a good book, and looking forward to a break to read another chapter.

Then, I told myself that the experience of playing a single player game is a lot like going to a movie. There's other people there going through the same experience, but I don't let it detract from my experience. I can't control the characters in the story, but the story can still be exciting stuff!

But in THIS move called Fable II, I can control the hero. I can have some effects (some large and some small) on the world, and can enjoy the story by walking through all the sets, the locations, seeing what the other characters see sometimes. This is an interactive semi-choose-your-own-adventure movie.

Does the game make me wish that MMO's could be more like it? No. MMO's have that special something called human interaction. There are many ideas I would to see in MMO's that come from games like Fable, but the reverse is true too! Could you imagine playing through the story, a chapter at a time, with a group of 5 or 10 friends? And really, the two styles of play aren't that different. I mean, when you log in you usually join the same group of people, right? Normally you will talk to your guild, do things with them? And many times you are alone, playing through quests and exploring.

I think the day will come very soon that the two worlds aren't different at all. That'll be a fun-as-hell day.


A cool story about a guy with a disability.

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday July 21 2009 at 12:29PM
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I have decided to keep it simple, this time around.

So, this is simply my comments about a cool story about a disabled dude. I am not reducing him down to just "disabled dude", but merely streamlining the writing for the sake of those that have a hard time understanding me.

Anyway, go watch This American Life season 2, the episode called "Escape." It features a story about a disabled guy and a guy that plays with G.I.Joe's to cope with his brain injury. All I can say is WATCH IT. Good editing, nice music, brilliant story-telling. I am going to be featuring more story-telling on my show, in an attempt to rip off This American Life and in an attempt to get away from whiny gamers a bit. So, watching the show (and listening to it on the radio) is good homework.

Anyway, the first story talks about Mike, a guy with a crippling disease. (SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy) He can only communicate through a thumb-driven laptop. It takes ages for him to type out a sentence, much more time to type out the entire posts that he keeps on his blog and emails. The story isn't hard to watch, as some might think, but very easy due to the guys ability to keep (what seems like) a solid grip on reality. Perhaps it is because he is used to his reality and that is mostly what he has known, or perhaps he is just putting on a charade. Either way, it is inspiring to see someone maintain a sense of humor. So many people I meet, able-bodied or not, have NO F*****G SENSE OF HUMOR.



For me, I didn't get any of that "...this guy is a hero" stuff from the show. That was too sappy to take from it. Too cheesy. Also, nowadays the term "hero" is thrown around so much that it has lost it's meaning. It is something easily tacked onto a person that actually takes away from the person. After all, he is acting heroic because it is his default stance on life, right? He isn't just an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances, but is surviving only because of his remarkable spirit?

Nah, I say he has the same issues we all do, along with many that most of us don't. I think he has faced his situation and said (literally) "F*** that, I am going to live my life." He doesn't go out into the world hanging at coffee shops with his girlfriend mostly because of his unstoppable bravery and remarkable spirit. Why he seems to do it is more nitty-gritty than that, more ordinary, and that's what makes it special. He does it because he decided to, did some work to get it done and said "F*** it."

And I love the part that talks about technological advancements keeping pace with his disability:

"When I was a kid, I could sit up, and drive a power wheel chair. I could breathe on my own, so I played outside with my brother and neighborhood kids. Interestingly, technological advancements have kept pace with my disability. As it got harder to drive my chair, we got video games. As breathing got harder, the by-pap was invented. When I lost the ability to speak, software already existed that did the speaking for me."

That speaks to the gamer in me that has always thought that gaming technology is great if but for one reason: it brings people from different lifestyles together. Where else could you say that you "hang out with" people from all over the world? Where else could you not only meet all types of people and have interactions with them, but also exist in a virtual society with them? It's f****** cool, to put it simply. If you read an email from Mike, would you know that he was disabled? Hearing his writings, I think not.

Thank you, technology.

Technology is the Great Equalizer. No, I don't mean equalizer of people, but of situations. Mike might be in his particular situation, but thanks to technology, he can go out in the world we are all part of. In gaming it might be even more so, being that it can take but the push of a button to steer a digital person. Inside a game we are all in the same situation, all of us existing with the same rules, boundaries, and chances to seek glory and fun. Inside a game everyone has the same chance to do what they want.

Thanks to, I have learned more about disabled players in the last few months than I had in 10 years of gaming. Not only are the number of disabled players remarkable, but the number of disabled players that are ignored by the game and peripheral developers is even more remarkable. Forget considering it some kind of moral obligation, the developers just need to think of the f****** CASH they are missing out on.

Anyway, go watch the story. It is, after all, a cool story about a guy with a disability.


What is this Ecks Bocks you speak of?

Posted by beauturkey Sunday July 19 2009 at 8:32PM
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Ok, ok. I broke down and got one.

We went to the store, looked at how cheap the games were and bought one. There it sits, while I am on my computer and while Leala is playing "Rock and Roll all night (and party every day.)"

My new Xbox 360.

So far it is a brilliant gaming platform, something millions of gamers already know. I am impressed by the online uses, and look forward to even more. If there is one thing that I agree on, it's that consoles are PERFECT for MMO's. I love the fact that I don't have to worry about upgrading, adding to or spending more money on the box. You open it, plug it in and GO.


Already there are three major MMO's for the Xbox: AoC (well, supposed to be soon? I need to research that. Been a while..), Final Fantasy XI (otherwise known as our favorite torture) and that crazy Phantasy Star Universe thingy. While I would love for AoC to come out on the Xbox, FFXI is going to stay off my console forever. I had enough of that on my PC. But, seeing how beautiful the graphics can be, and the brilliant multi-player options for the Xbox, one can dream of a day soon coming that will have several MMO's for the platform.

While I am enjoying games like Guitar Hero and the must-have Saints Row (or any other of the run-around-and-shoot-people-in-the-face-games), I am a little dissapointed upon discovering that most of the FPS's, and many other games, are the un-original idea stealers that I thought they would be.

How many more of these FPS's will come out before one comes out that is ORIGINAL? I want something different. I played BioShock and a few others, and they are all just the same stuff within a different skin. ( I have played more on my PC, but stopped about a year back. They were all the same.)

How many more games with aliens will be rip offs of the original Alien? Oh look, another long headed things with claws. Oh, and look! Another "giant bug" type! Oh, can we say "chitin"? Hey, let's name them something like "The Acrid."

Point being, for every great game on Xbox there seems to 10 crappy ones. Sure, they all fill in one of the generic groups of gaming emotions:

1) Adventure

2) Blowing stuff up

3) Shooting faces while giggling about it

4) Fighting

5) Shooting aliens

6) "Scary games"

And there are these great mini-games, downloadable little bits of originality and fun.  And all the demos that let you try out a game before you buy it. Great stuff, for sure! Xbox is perfect for what I use it for: fun, basic emotions and moments of sheer gaming joy.

I fully expect the system (and others) to eventually have games that bring out the same deep emotions and chin-rubbing moments that games like EVE, WoW, Vanguard or Ryzom do. In fact, I believe that within a few years most PC's will simply be a console..a box that you just plug in and go. Essentially, the Xbox is just a computer that games are specialized for. It would be nice to be able to not worry about buying a new one every year to keep up with tech needs.

So, do I love the new Xbox? Hell yes. It's a digital toy store, and the online elements make it much, much better than you would expect. Now, as soon as I get the new TV this week, it will be even better.

Now, developers, go out and make some MMO's for it!!

And hey, any recommendations for games?


Rethinking PvP (and Darkfalls) consequences.

Posted by beauturkey Saturday July 18 2009 at 10:10AM
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I walk my dogs between 45 minutes and 2 hours a day, depending on weather and job schedule. To me, exercise is basic to human life. Not only have scientists proven that it is basic to human life, but are now showing how exercise is vital to your brain as well.

Also, the dogs need it. It is primal, it is in their soul to walk and move and explore and guard. We don't take walks as much as go out on excursions into the neighborhood, keeping an eye on the locals. It all makes for healthier dogs and healthier humans. And I want to be healthy, so I can live longer. This life-style of artist, drummer, gamer and blogger/podcaster is not easy on the body, so care must be taken.

Because, after all, I don't want to die.

In fact, I don't think anyone does. The sure fire way to guess someone's age (or I should say maturity level) is to ask them about growing old. If they say: " Screw that, I wanna' be dead before I get old.." then they are indeed young in many ways. I am 35 now and I can tell you I feel exactly the same as 19, if not better.

In gaming we shouldn't want to die, either, but we all know that perma-death would just piss off more people than not. So,  how do you make death painful in these games? How do you punish people for screwing up? Well, you don't, or shouldn't in most cases. In a PvE world, players are playing mostly to put their characters against the environment, against the game. If the game didn't have perma-death built into the game from the get-go, and adequate systems to go with it,  it would just make a player log out and never come back. PvE is supposed to be a little care-bearish in that aspect. It's not supposed to be about death, but about the adventure.

From the comments section for my guest hosting on Massively Speaking #61:

"I think Beau made a comment to the effect that PvP is only meaningful if death results in actual death of your character or in losing levels or stats (sorry if I misunderstood). In my opinion, this is silly. Why make this argument for PvP and not for PvE?"

This is one of those points that makes me really stop to make sure I am saying the right thing. It's so hard to let one hour of chatter, or even a few weeks of blogging do the speaking for every possible thought in your head on a subject.

So, why shouldn't it be applied to PvE?

Well, while some might think I have argued for perma-death to be installed in PvE games, that's not really what I meant. What I mean to say is to give death more meaning, not more inconvenience. Don't leave death as just some temporary pause, at least make it semi-realistic. Here we are expected to die, re-spawn and come back to life an instant later. Make us sit in a hospital, make us float around as a ghost for a week (complete with it's own games) or make us perform some kind of ritual to get us on our feet again. Make healers actually HEAL instead of just pushing some buttons. Of course, this would have to be designed into a game from the ground up.

But, for now, PvE is the care-bear happy land that it is. It's supposed to be. PvE is Independence Day, a fluffy thrill ride where everyone knows that the hero will never die. Within that fluffy land are all the chances to do other things, too, that have nothing to do with death. Crafting, role-playing, socializing.

But, PvP is supposed to be something darker, if you ask me. PvP should be a slasher flick, something a little disturbing. It's supposed to be feel more realistic, grittier, dirtier. PvE might be a guilty pleasure band like Journey, but PvP is supposed to be Slayer. This quote from the EuroGamer  Darkfall re-review sums it up perfectly for me:

"This is a world where, if you're expecting trouble, it's reasonable to strip down to your pants. This is stupid beyond all mortal belief."

From what I understand, the author here is saying that in Darkfall, when a battle gets going, players strip down to their undies as to not lose any gear when they die. Why? Because their bodies aren't worth anything. Their lives are endless. Darkfall wants to feel like a slasher flick, but instead comes out as a slasher flick that has been edited for TV. This is not the way to scare people with PvP. This is a way to play a first person shooter, my point from the very beginning.

PvP tries to come across as "hardcore" but usually just comes across about as hard-core as crafting. If it wants to be truly scary, make death be more than just a trip by a classmate. Make it hurt, but not by taking away gear or experience. All that is replenish-able. Make TIME be the price to pay..make the player recover. Make a player not want to die, being that he would have to spend the next day and a half recovering by doing healing mini-games with a healer buddy. Make death be a higher price and you won't have the usual PvP crowd, you might attract PvE'ers like myself that want a more realistic gaming experience.

PvP, as it is now, is taken about as seriously as a TV slasher flick. It's kind of a joke. PvP is seen by most as a child making a threat to his/her parents: kind of silly, almost heartwarmingly cute.

When making recent arguments about turning Vanguards only FFA PVP server in to a "hard-core" ruleset server, I was told a few times that FFA PVP *is* hardcore playing. Not, it's not, I told them. It's about as hardcore as waiting in a line, only to get to the front to be asked to go back to the line. No damage done, but slightly annoying. PvE does not need this same kind of punishing game-play, (although I would love it hehe) because PvP is supposed to be the place to get that kind of game-play. But, as for years, it just doesn't want to piss anyone off.

It's the guy at the bar that wants to cause trouble but doesn't want to get kicked out.

Anyway, off to work. I need to think this over some more. I hope you get my point.


Should developers re-think the "end-game?"

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday July 14 2009 at 12:41PM
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So, what is "challenge"?

What makes a game "hard" and what makes it "easy?"

We'll throw away the LARGE part of this discussion: "It depends on the player", because we need to generalize a bit. Yes, there are players that have been playing for 15 years and have more experience with the basics than, say, a 17 year old girl that just found EQ2. But let's save that. That should be the bottom line, anyway, and we all know that.  Many players claim that certain games are challenging, though, without defining what the challenge is. I can ask someone "Is WoW hard?" and they could say "No...well, it depends...I mean, do you raid? Do you like achievements?" Again, more " depends" type talk. But, for the record, let's say that challenge comes from two different places:

a) Finding an answer: If you don't know something, you must find out the answer. Finding out that answer can be very difficult or very easy, depending. To solve a simple riddle can be very hard, but once you hear the answer you might see how easy it is. For example:

"A certain crime is punishable if attempted but not punishable if committed. What is it?"


"I went into the woods and got it. I sat down to seek it. I brought it home with me because I couldn't find it. What is it?"

Easy ones? Yeh, and you might have heard them before. But you get the point. There have been puzzles, riddles and problems that gave us headaches, yet were remarkably simple. In raiding, the point is to find the answer. The point is to figure out where to stand, what abilities to fire, how many times to watch for a jump that signals the AoE attack. None of these stress the average players reaction times, but test their lack of knowing the answer.

Here is another simple illustration, a "Where's Waldo" picture:

Click for a larger version.


Find the stuff that the artist mentions. Waldo SHOULD be in there somewhere! When you find something, it is obvious. Repeatedly looking for the same character or object is easier the second time around, even with some time between the searches.  This is a simple way to illustrate how any activity can be a "challenge" at first but grow exponentially easier as it is repeated. Thus, activities that are repeated (raiding, grinding, leveling, questing) become easier by default.

b) Playing for long periods of time: This is the answer for many gamers when asked "How is your game challenging?" For some, EQ provided them with a challenge because raids took a great deal of people and dozens of hours or more to complete. For other, grinding reputation is the answer. Either way, this is one of the staples of the standard sub-model MMO, being that they need you to keep paying monthly in order to make money.

There have been games in the past (and current games) that have shown me that there are challenges that come from these two groups without being raiding, grinding or non-stop leveling. If anyone remembers Myst Online (before it shut down) you would remember how fantastic the puzzles were. You would visit entire "worlds" that were essentially one giant puzzle, and you and a friend could go through the puzzles to solve them. Many times, when you found the answer, you were so surprised at it's obvious solution that you felt stupid. The community was great and most of them even practiced strict "strat" rules by not letting out any spoilers without great warning. While the game has gone ka-put (released to the community as some kind of open source project, though) it had some fantastic ideas that other games should look at.

Free Realms, as we all should know, is a game based around mini-games. While some of the games are typical MMO stuff (fighting, delivery quests) most of them are based around simple, yet fun, "Bejeweled" type puzzles. Not only are they semi-challenging, but can get pretty darn challenging in the higher stages of the game (or when attempting a high-score.) Mini-games are great because almost anyone can play and be satisfied, and yet players that have the want can go further than others.

Puzzle Pirates kind of takes everything and mashes it into one game. Mini-games are the DRIVING source of the game, and behind every activity is a mini-game. There are some brilliant uses of mini-games, like multi-player ship to ship combat. One player is the captain and drives the boat/gives orders, one player might do a mini-game and score to make the speed of the ship increase, another player might play a mini-game to keep water from leaking into the ship, and yet another will play a game that helps control damage. All of this is in real time, and runs great.

We all know, and see, the amount of discussion and time that is spent on "end-game" content in many of our MMO's. This is, I hope, a passing fad, and soon the "end game" will not exist anymore. But, until then, we all must see our forum posts about Lore or posts about favorite parts of the game be pushed down by yet another post about how borked a raid is, or how miserable "the grind" is. There are entire podcasts/blogs about end-game content and how it is broken, and many players whose drive it is seems to be to complain about content that they play through ( while saying it is busted or wrong. )

And developers spend a great deal of time developing this content, despite not all players participating in raiding or high-end grinding. I cringe at how many questions I have recieved over the period of 2 years for the developers of Vanguard that have to do with raiding. Not only were they the same quesions over and over, but were already answered several times and in several places. For the raider, there is nothing more urgent than their particular problem. That's fine, but the only group that makes as much noise as the raiders are the pvp'ers. On any forum for any game, non end-game questions and statements are pushed down by threads discussing the same end-game subjects, over and over and over. This, in my opinion, might give developers the wrong idea about where to concentrate their efforts. While the noisy players are on the forums, the "regular" players are just playing the game, and not providing any counter-point.

Since raiding/grinding are both the same as playing checkers/hanging out, it seems it would be more efficient to spend developer hours on puzzles, mini-games, and social activities like live events and "public" type interactions. It would also be a good idea to slow down leveling, without making grinding or alt-leveling the only answer. Non-combat mini-games or alternate forms of leveling would be good, or just making "the level" less important would be great.

Essentially, it might take a year to finalize a raid, to code it and to work out the bugs. Even then, players will present flaws to the developers that the developers could have never forseen, and those flaws need re-working. All this is a lot of effort for a handful of Super Mario boss fights. Once that fight is over, players simply move on to the next one or just spend time in the same encounter.  Instead of spending so much time, effort and money on developing such elaborate deliveries for such simple activities, they might try and make the vehicle to deliver these activities more efficient.

I am under the impression that many "end-gamers" play through the end-game because of lack of things to do. Every single raider I know (and I have met a LOT) look at raiding as a mini-job. They enjoy it the first few times, but after the 5th or 6th time running through the same content, it gets boring. And it SHOULD. So, they come up wioth other reasons to go like "gearing up fellow raiders" just to repeat the cycle.

It would be nice to see the cycle broken, to see mini-games and puzzles treated as they are. Take the time and effort to create a dungeon and make several times more content that does the same thing: hides the answer from the player.


The two-word descriptions for my games.

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday July 14 2009 at 3:48AM
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Ok, so it's 2 am and I cannot sleep. As I laid in bed, my brain skipped from sex to bills to, of course, games.

I started thinking of playing a game. If I can't sleep at night it's easy enough to log into one of my games to help get me tired again. I just do some fishing, walk around...something calm and easy. Maybe go read a blog or two, or write a blog or two like I am now. As I lay there, my mind went to that Ten Muganiminmainami Tensaissai Imagine Online game (whatever it's titled) and I thought to myself: "Sluggish Combat."

So there ya go. I took a screenie of my desktop and assembled it at the bottom for you. Bear in mind that this is my nicer PC, so most of the freebie games are on my older PC. Also, there are some that have no shortcut on my desktop, like Free Realms and a few other browser based ones like Taikodem. This household holds something like 60 or 70 MMO's in it! I decided to go down the list and FORCE myself to only use two words to describe the game. I thought that I would use more, like a sentence, but decided to pick out the one main thing that sticks out about the game and to put it down. Of course two words won't do justice to most of these games, but let's see what I can come up with. First, I'll assemble the list, then write in the words.

1) Ghost X Global: Silly Action

2) Ryzom: Beautiful Natural

3) LotRO: Perfect Role-Playing

4) Ether Saga Online: Amazing graphics

5) Lively (now defunct, but I just couldn't delete it): Giant playground

6) Tales Runner: Forced 1024x768

7) Project Powder: Fast racing

8) Darkfall: Shadowy FPS

9) UO: Fun, Then

10) Mabinogi: More choices

11) Cities XL: Micromanagement, funnish

12) The Chronicles of Spellborn: Favorite art

13) Legends of Norrath: Addictive, cheap

14) Warhammer ( for some reason the shortcut is messed up. Did Leala delete it?) Nothing new

15) The Sims 3 (not an MMO, but still.) Creepy fun

16 ) Mass Effect: Kinda' slow

17) EQ2: Many choices

18) Vanguard: Immersive World

19:) Matrix Online: Original combat

20) EQ: Still slow

21) Star Wars Galaxies: Space under-used

22) Pirates of the burning Sea: Ships good

23) Planetside: Shallow fun

24) Guild Wars: Feels lonely

25) Second Life: Most potential

26) Dream of Mirror Online: Lovely cut-scenes

27) Runes of Magic: Ugly characters

28) City of Heroes: Perfect Customization

29)Aion: Ugly armor

30) NeoSteam: Confusing translation

31) Imagine: Sluggish combat

32) World of Warcraft: Real basic

33) Wizard 101: Simple, addictive

34) Free Realms: Guilty Pleasure

So, there ya go. It's harder than you think. And I have played all of these, and much more than just a glance, but to explain how I feel about them all would take a long, long time. Like a dream-image, this is what I feel. I listed Runes of Magic as having "pointy chins" at first. But do they HAVE pointy chins? I don't think so. Small mouths maybe? Point being that even though I have played it to level 15 or so, I can only think of the silly faces, tiny mouths and huge feet. Does that mean that the game sucks or that nothing is good about it? Maybe. I need to play it some more.

This goes to show that I cannot play just one game, ever. I don't even understand how Leala plays mainly only one game. It's kind of odd, really. I don't listen to one band, or watch one movie, yet I'm a film and music fan.

Anyway, goodnight.



Money, not time, equals power.

Posted by beauturkey Monday July 13 2009 at 11:05AM
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I take this from a comment left in my blog by Syncaine. Here is the comment below (so I do not get it wrong):

".... regarding the effect buying gear/power has, is that you approach MMOs from a very different view than the majority. If I was not more familiar with your style, I would have called you a liar when you said death in DF has no meaning, but I know that for YOU it really does not, while for almost everyone else, it does. I think it’s that view that is perhaps blinding you to how the majority of MMO players would view going from everyone paying $15 a month to what happens when you drop $100 to get ahead. Those players accept that time=power, they won’t accept money=power. "

No cheats here. Move along.

As usual, we do not agree on so many things. Even though he makes his points well, there are a few things wrong with the mindset of "time equals power." First of all, let me explain that I generally view the MMO community in four groups:

1) Those that LOVE cash-shops, RMT, all that fluff and would gladly buy the best sword in the game (if the game sold it) and would be happy about it.

2) Those that hate all that, and think that RMT is a "cheat." Despite using dual-accounts for dual-boxing, mods that tell you information that does not come in the default UI, and walk-throughs/videos/guides, they view buying health potions for real life money as "cheating."

3) Those that do not care, either way.

4) Those that play cash-shop games, because the majority of players actually do NOT play sub-based games, but RMT based games. (One look at the numbers for games like MapleStory will tell you that all the handful of major games in the US that use the "classic" sub model do not equal the ones that do not.) As a side-note, I find that when you show someone "30 million subscriptions" as a stat, they will laugh at it. Yet, they seem to take for fact the "11 million worldwide" numbers given out by Blizzard. Strange.

If we want to have these discussions, players need to stop thinking that the North American market is the "majority." It is not. There are more players through out the world than in the US. Understand that I never frame these conversations in only the US market because developers do not. It is a global market, as far as MMO's are concerned.

Also, it feels as though many players I come across seem to think that the "old-guard" are those that oppose cheating ways such as paying for items or characters, while the new generation of kids wants to be able to just buy their way to the top. Many players also think that they are part of one of these groups, without understanding that RMT (real money trading or transactions) has been around since players were paying for the Station Access and it's extra character slots, dual-boxing and multi-month discounts. Hell, even your basic account comes loaded with newbie items that, despite most players not "valuing" them, have actual value. After all, you paid for them.

THE CHOICE-----------------------------------------------------

But the main flaw in the argument of "time equals power" is that it assumes that if you have a "money equals power" game that a player could ONLY raise his or her "status" by buying it.

The fact is in most RMT games the choice still remains. Just as with the raider that "cheats" using 100 different mods and a walk-through video, I can choose to raid without the use of these "cheats." In fact, most raiders I know are worried about cash-shops ruining their achievements without considering that they ruined them when they used all the above mentioned "cheats." But the fact is that in the majority of games, you have a choice as to participate in RMT or not. When players tell me that they need the cash-shop items to perform at high-levels, I tell them that even if they did the end-game/high-end game is still only one small part of the game. (Most of the time players tend to forget that these games have more lower levels that "end-game" levels. ) In almost any MMO (since there is no death, almost no penalty that is not easily done away with, or consequence for mistakes) do you need to do anything, much less achieve something or perform at some level to play the game. All those goals/accomplishments are placed on the player by the player.

In Syncaines comment, you can see where he says that while I do not see meaning in the death of Darkfall, most do. That doesn't matter since there truly is no meaning in the death. If a player decided that the temporary pause of death in Darkfall is enough to cause him to feel as though he lost something (the equipment loss is negligible) then that was the players choice. The simple fact that I do not fear death in any MMO is proof enough to show that the choice is there, and either choice does not stop me from playing. As I have said before, death in Darkfall is about as scary as is being tripped by your co-worker: more aggravating than anything.

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE--------------------------------------------

Players often use the "..but in PvP, one player has an unfair advantage over another because he bought items or gear.." excuse to say that cash-shops equal unfair advantage. First of all, most MMO's out right now do not feature PvP as the center point. The few that ever did (remember Fury?) did not/do not do so well. And yes, it is true that a player that has more health potions or better gear (although 99 percent of cash-shops do not sell that type of gear) might do "better" than another player in combat, but even in that very specific situation the choice is still there for either player to buy or not.

If we are going to start calling cash-shop purchases an "unfair advantage," then we have to add to that list those players that use mods, that multi-box, that have no job or that have the ability to play for 8 hours a day. Also, we would have to include those that can actually afford a better PC, a better connection, or players that can even afford the subscription. At what point does it stop? Wouldn't a player that has a better PC and a faster connection be considered as having an "advantage"? How did that player not spend real life money to equal the advantage?

Point being, there is no way for every scenario of every player to be taken into account when making a cash-shop game or when considering what to sell in a cash-shop.

While Syn seems to think that "most players" think that time=power, there are many, many more examples of players that play games in which cash-shops/RMT are the norm. In those games, it is (in my experience) rare for players to whine about cash-shop items. It is the norm and everyone has the equal chance to gain those items. If one player can simply afford 50 bucks in potions while you could not, that's called "you being broke" and him "having some extra allowance to spend."

In other words, tough luck.

Even if suddenly we had a market FULL of games that sold the very best items and gear in the game ONLY the cash shop, we would still be talking small amounts of money. 100 dollars is not a large sum of money, and I make piddly. If you consider how many hours of game-play you would get for 100 dollars, you would see that you spend more on a few months worth of going to the movies/eating out. Add up a years worth of subscription. How is THAT amount of time and money not an advantage?

So yeh, money actually does equal power. Not time. It might have meant "power" back in the days of 2 day raids or camping of monsters, and only to those that viewed "power" as having the highest end gear. I never did, and despite what some might think, I am not alone in that. Granted, he is right in saying that many players see time as power, but not the majority.

Most players in the world just play how they want. They grind, do quests, buy potions, buy pets, rent housing, rent mounts, buy characters, buy gold, sell gold, sell characters, buy ships and pilots, experience potions and go to dungeons. Many raid, role-play and explore. Every example of player is found within cash-shop games/communities.


Will going F2P actually HELP Spellborn?

Posted by beauturkey Sunday July 12 2009 at 9:42AM
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I can only speak from experience. Despite how I write/podcast/rant, I am only attempting to come from a place of what I have seen, heard or played.

I can speak on raiding because I have raided (fewer times than most, yes) and raiding is just a different form of large grouping. I have been in large groups and played for hours, doing many different things. Raiding is that, but repeated. Over and over.

I can speak on PvP because I have PvP'ed, since the beginning. The only games that stick out in my head (for whatever reason) that were actually fun pvp'ing in were Ultime Online, EVE, World of Warcraft and Planetside. Everything else (unless I am forgetting something) is just...well, more PvP. PvP is not that complicated of an art form despite what some might say. It can be a blast, but can quickly become repetitive.

And I can speak on cash-shops because I have played near 70 games that not only feature cash-shops/RMT but LIVE by it. I can tell you that, in my experience, if the game does not have cash-shoppery built in and does not embrace it, it doesn't seem to do much at all. Either go all the way or not.


So that has me wondering how The Chronicles of Spellborn might do after it attempts to salvage itself by adding on a cash shop and going full-F2P. ( Speaking of which, I am in the DDO F2P beta, so will comment on that after I play some.) Of course, I was very excited when I learned that one of my favorite (but limited, VERY limited) games was going F2P. I could leave it residing on my hard-drive, play it when I want, get into it or not... doesn't matter, it would be there forever. But then I thought about the fact that if a sub-based game is good enough, I will sub. I currently sub to Vanguard, WoW, Free Realms and, until recently, Darkfall. Everything else I play is F2P. Granted, I have been subbed to every single pay-to-play game out there (that I can read the text in) and always maintain one or two games at a time.

So, why didn't I continue to sub to Spellborn after I switched to the NA server? Despite the fact that it has amazing art-style (I LOVE it, I think it's one of my favorite of all time, seriously) and runs great even on my older machine, and despite the fact that the story and quests were really, really fun, there was just not enough to do in the game. Once I ran through the story-based quests to level 20, I didn't want to do it again. It was hard to get excited about leveling my character through the same story (with the same plot twists) as I did before. And yes, there is "Crafting" in Spellborn, but it was not exciting at all, and we all know how boring crafting can be in the first place.

So, will adding a cash-shop to a game that was already struggling help it or hurt it?

I think that more players might try it, and being that there is no sub they will keep it on their hard-drive and they might slowly "get into" the game. The cash-shop ( I am not clear on the details of what they will be selling in it) could have some fun time-passers included, mounts or clothing items, collectibles. That might help. Deep down, though, I think that the main thing it will accomplish is gaining a few more players (most have already tried it that wanted to, they have a trial to level 9.9 ) and holding on to the ones they have now. Most current players will not quit out of principle simply because of the add-on of the cash-shop, as most players did not quit in Vanguard, EQ2 or EQ, when it happened there.

But the game was not meant to have a cash-shop from the beginning, something I wished for from the first time I heard about it. The game is a story-based action-driven MMO, and I wonder what they could possibly sell or do that would increase the player-base? After all, games like Auto Assault and Tablula Rasa, even if you didn't play them you saw the great potential in them and probably even enjoyed some time in them, and cannot understand just scrapping something with such unique game-play. It would be a shame to see this game go away forever. But how are they going to incorporate it? How will it run? Will it load from in the game, like Mabinogi or Dream of Mirror online?

Who knows? Again, I don't think it will actually add on so many more people as keep the numbers they have, now. Cash-shops are great, but there has to be a great game underneath. If a game sucks, no amount of pink dresses or health potions will save it.

This seems to be the new, strange thing happening in MMO's lately: how do you add RMT to your non-RMT game successfully?

1) Just plug it in, Vanguard style: Some players might gripe and moan, but if they leave they didn't have much in the game keeping them there anyway. After all the drama blows over, most will be back. Most players, according to SOE, just ignored the addition of cash shops to EQ and EQ2, and just continued playing. In this scenario, Spellborn will just throw the whole thing out there, rare items and all. A player that logged out the day before the patch will log back in to find a new little button on his hot bar that opens up a cash-shop filled with goodies.

2) Do it very, very slowly: WoW has been adding in little cash-shoppery items here and there. For the record, cash-shop is a umbrella term for "paying real life money for something you get in game." Doesn't matter the delivery method, it's all cash-shoppery. City of Heroes has had little items for sale for a while, and in 2 years who knows how extensive the catalogue will be? In this scenario Spellborn comes out with a few big-ticket items to sell, and offers them on the website. Players can buy characters or money, or perhaps items like sigils are sold? Later they will sell everything but the kitchen sink.

3) "Re-launch" the game as a F2P game: This seems the most unlikely, and I hear the word "re-launch" thrown around more than "meaningful PvP" is one of those things that players seem to think is "really easy to do" without considering what is involved in a "re-launch." In this scenario, the website is re-vamped, the cash-shop is featured prominently on the side, and players see ads for the game spread all over gaming sites saying "Play NOW for FREE!" Game cards appear in your local gas station, and the game has tie-ins with a soft drink company.

Either way, I wish the best for the game. I really did enjoy it, and despite being bored with the same story-driven quest-line that I am experiencing in it now, I was just mesmerized by that same story the first time around. Perhaps the cash-shop will give some kind of variety to the game, breath new life into the rigid, linear game-play? I hope so, because I will be the first one to spend 50 bucks on virtual items.


Did I quit Darkfall at the WORST possible time?

Posted by beauturkey Friday July 10 2009 at 2:00PM
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After I let my Darkfall sub go, I heard about an upcoming patch (they're calling it an expansion) that fixed/added/tweaked quite a few things that would probably make the experience much more enjoyable.

I heard that there would be more PvE stuff added, but didn't find that as much as a few tweaks to the current mobs:

"We've been watching the PvE dynamic and taking in player and tester feedback while experimenting with the PvE/Monster balance on our test servers. We've decided to implement a massive re-balancing of monster hit points, stats, and loot tables."


Hmm. I had hoped they would just ADD some mobs around the landscape, but looks like they might just tweak with what they have. Of course, I might be missing something. Still, the "expansion" has a ton of great features added to it:

Housing: (this looks awesome)

"Houses offer house recall and can be upgraded to offer you benefits such as the capability of sharing your house with friends, the option of having a harvestable garden or a private workbench, and much more. Many feature an open window you can use to trade through more safely."

Character specialization:

"The Character Specialization System gives you the opportunity to enhance and customize your character based on your play-style. It features hundreds of options and thousands of possible combinations that can make your character a true specialist in what he does best.

The first stage of the character specialization system allows you to choose add-ons for many of your spells. Currently there are four customizations you can choose from: You may increase the damage your spell inflicts, its velocity (so it travels faster to the target), the range of the spell, or you can choose to be able to jump while casting it. You can choose one of the four options for each spell."

Hmm, very cool. Says they'll be adding similar tweaks to archery. Archery, basically, rules all.

Then, one of my favortie parts:

"The new Darkfall Weather system is extremely sophisticated and it simulates a real world weather system. Some of the weather effects you'll be seeing include rain, wind, variable cloud cover, fog etc. depending on the season and local conditions. Other than enhancing the beauty of the world and player immersion, the weather can affect visibility, making it a tactical ally or an enemy depending on the situation. "

The weather in Darkfall was pretty good, but I knew that if they added some more OOMPH to it, it would be grand. The shadows and lighting effects are already very nice, so I can't wait to see rain and other weather clouding up my vision.

Of course, I am skipping quite a lot.

For all the notes, go here.

The reason I quit Darkfall before was mainly because of lack of anything to do. Secondly, the bad apples in the community suck the fun out of it. But, community bad apples are easy enough to ignore, especially if you have something to take your play away from them. Also, the PvP in Darkfall was nothing special (up to the point I was playing at) and even though at higher "levels" or during mass battles the PvP might improve, I have played enough PvP (in all sorts of games) to know that fighting can only be fun for so long before it is rinse and repeat.

And yes, I know about the "politics" and the intrigue spawned by huge clans facing off with each other, I experienced that in EVE and other places enough to know that all that is not so exciting because there are no consequences if you do not participate. I have been camped on Sartok a few times, while players claimed I would be so scared that I would log and never come back ( I now have a level 38) and was warned that PvP in EVE would frighten me back to PvE land. It didn't happen. I DID grow bored, though.

So, if there might be enough distractions from PvP in Darkfall now, (or at least getting close) then the game might be worth looking at again. Despite the fact that players have argued with me that the game is not essentially just like a FPS multi-player map (while they tell me "This game was meant for PvP, quit looking for good PvE content!") , I think that PvE might be the only saving grace of this game, if there is one. Even in EVE most players do not PvP, and the PvE content is enough to keep them around.You need good PvE or all you have left is a multi-player map.

Anyway, the new website looks great. It looks like they decided to step out of, you know, 10 years ago. This is good to see. Underneath all of the chatter about "meaningful PvP" (as though that means anything) there is possibly a good game here. I thought so before, but I had to work too hard to find the good stuff. Maybe this new "expansion" will make it easier.

Oh yeh, I have been warned that starting out in the new odd little half-man-half-demony guys starting area was a mistake, and that I should roll a human, dwarf or elf.

No, no elves. EVER. Maybe I'll try a dwarf this time.


ALL our games are mini-games.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday July 9 2009 at 11:30PM
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Over dinner with Stomp and Haf (Chipotle? Yes, please..) they got to listen to me talk too much because I had one beer. We were talking about all different games and I got to bring up a point that I had thought about on one of my mental-blog-dog-walks a morning or two ago (I love when I can bring up a point that makes some kind of sense) : the mini-games in Free Realms, Puzzle Pirates and other games are just like the "regular" play in most "adult" titles.


When I play Free Realms, there are moments of excitement, dread, and surprise. Granted, these moments are much lower on the grand scale of emotion (while the excitement I might feel in Vanguard is several levels higher) but they are still the same emotion.

Bloggers, podcasters and gamers tend to forget that we are all playing games, and nothing more. Just because it took 4 hours to play through a raid or a crafting session, does not mean that it is any different than a kid mining for 45 minutes in Free Realms. I am fascinated by people that think that their game is greater, more sophisticated or a deeper experience that that other guys game, when (thanks in a lot of ways to limits in technology) they are essentially doing the same thing. One day we might be able to actually boast about physical skill needed to play, but not for a while.

When a raid leader says "Ok, mage, you stand here and hit freeze, then you shoot a fire-ball at the guy marked with a skull..." it is the same thing as a 9 year old saying "Alright, I'll go play that mini-game and then spend the gold on a new collar for my dog."

1) Both examples can be a challenge to the individual, but neither present that grand of a challenge. With time, all challenges in MMO's can be beat by both young AND old.

2) Both events are fun to the individual, hopefully, or they should not play the game. Gaming must be fun or it is not gaming.

I get it, though, I do. I understand that the art style, the music, and that little something that we really can't explain marks the differences between Free Realms (and other "kids games") and other "adult" MMOs. I can see the difference, too, and can feel it when I am in the mood for something darker, more "grown up."

But is there really a difference between poker and Uno?

I can take one activity and, thanks to a set of rules, make two separate versions of that activity with different levels of challenge. My staple example is building a birdhouse.

a) In the first example, you are allowed to use the instruction manual, power tools and pre-cut wood.

b) In the second example, you can use only raw wood, some 1800's-era wood-working tools, and your brain.

While one example is more challenging than the other, both examples still come out with a bird-house. A bird-house, in the long run, is not something to take that seriously. I am not making fun of those that really enjoy making bird-houses, just trying to understand that both activities (while one would be considered more "old-school" or "hard-core") come out the same.

I see a game like Free Realms and I am amazed. I am convinced I am seeing the future of MMOs. Granted I think Free Realms, like any title that is out currently, is but a step along that road but the way it does so many things are a perfect foundation for future games. First of all, games will (and already are starting to) stop being something you buy in a box. You will download them, and at the beginning only a small portion to be followed by the full game as you play.

Secondly, mini-games will become more prevalent. The "casual game" market is huge, and I imagine plugging in new casual games to your MMO is much easier than developing an entire dungeon. As the games grow more intense and "realistic", players will grow more used to playing mini-games to represent activities in game. Plus, mini-games are freaking addictive.

Cheap, easy to distribute, addictive.

Understand, (before you comment) that I am not saying that games that play like Free Realms exactly are the future. I am not saying that games that look like Free Realms are the future. I am not saying that only easy-mode-la-la-neon-land games are the future.

I am saying that Free Realms is a superb model for how to deliver and maintain your content. You can plug in a realistic dragon battle if you'd like, if it would make you feel better about playing a mini-game. You can strip the art-style of Free Realms and stick on some realistic graphics engine. Doesn't matter, whatever helps you see that a mini-game has many faces.

Just remember, as you are playing your "adult" MMO, fighting an Orc: you are essentially playing a game of chance. You are simply rolling some dice. Even in a game like Darkfall, you are just building a bird-house, despite using more primitive tools.


Spouse Aggro #82! 10 years of nerd-dom.

Posted by beauturkey Monday July 6 2009 at 9:27PM
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Spouse Aggro #82

Tue, 7 Jul 2009 00:13:00 GMT [download/play]

Spouse Aggro #82: Live, Living and Love for the last 10 years!
 Me and Leala crack open the live experience again, complete with a half-arsed web-cam mic, a room full of friends and technical difficulties. Every time we switch virtual recording studios, we take a bit to adjust. Forgive us?
 Leala has moved on from her podcast, and will continue to co-host SA with me. I have decided to host a Free Realms podcast (it helps keep me normal) but have no plans to let Spouse Aggro go anytime soon. Spouse Aggro is a mutant, always changing, and I love it.
 We talk about the last 10 years of gaming and what we might have learned from it. Next live show (watch for announcement) should be better, technically. Learning processes people, learning processes.


 Send emails to spouseaggro at yahoo dot com. 

 Website found at spouseaggro dot com. 

 Twitter name: spouseaggro
 Skype name: beauturkey


 The Turkeys

Yet another myth about Cash-Shoppery.

Posted by beauturkey Sunday July 5 2009 at 4:28AM
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"What RMT purchases should NOT be used for are the items that are traditionally bind on pickup– rare drops that serve as proxy achievements.  The Uber Sword of Uberness that only drops from downing the Big Boss Ubeross should retain both the value and the meaning it has.  In a PvE world, that would have no significant economic impact, but it certainly dilutes the achievement value and yes, the epeenery which, for good or ill, comes along with it which is part of participating in a massive game."

I'm borrowing that little section from a blog, not because the blogger wrote a poor bit, but because the paragraph encapsulates exactly what I hear from anti-RMT'ers. I would recommend going over and reading the rest of it here. Good stuff.

1) First and foremost, the great majority of evidence that exists now has never suggested that any game would be so kind as to allow the Uber Sword, without any in-game equivalent, only to be bought in the cash shop. Games just do not do that.

2) What many of these games do offer is "limited edition" pink dresses, pony pets and Caps of Cutiepie. For some reason, many players think that the Sword of Uber has some kind of greater impact than a cute, pink, harmless, dress. People who think that have not seen how powerful limited edition pets (for example) can be.

I am not making any guesses about the writer that I quoted at the beginning, but I will promise you that most players that say " long as they leave the Uber Sword out of it.." have not played very many RMT/Cash-Shop games. If they would, they would know what I am talking about when I say that they already leave it out of it. Or, I will bet that they only played maybe one or two games before World of Warcraft, the game that has made going after loot an art form, and accessible to all. If players want to comment on such sweeping topics as RMT and it's impact, they should be required to have played more than a handful of both sub and cash-shop based games. There are hundreds of them out there. Hundreds.

Why would any company, in their right mind, allow only RMT transactions to reach those "elite" levels/gear? These companies make money when you stick around, not when you don't. Yes, even cash-shop games make money off of you when you stick around. Again, if you do not know why or how, then you have never experienced one.

Go. Play one. For a while. Try two or five.

In an attempt to keep this short and sweet, if players indeed practice "epeenology" or subscribe to the theory of "Epeenesspocity" and think that their Tier _____ gloves somehow make any kind of difference to any other player besides themselves, then they need to stop and get very, very real.

No one cares. Everyone seems to think that everyone cares, but no one does. Those Uber gloves do not effect the environment, the economy, or the game in any way, shape, or form.

The only person that cares about your special gloves are you and perhaps your guild, or your circle of friends. Just like that little pink fluff pet. (Please be very aware that I am not saying, in any way, that going after those Uber Items is stupid or less of an activity than, say, exploring or shopping. Fun is different for all people. )

Also, a player that thinks that cash-shops do away with all forms of e-peen (I can't believe I keep typing that word! hehe) is, again, greatly mistaken. One player can always be "jealous" of another players gear, items, pets, clothes, mount, or level. There is no magic formula that will get rid of one players want for another players stuff.

So, that's the main and strongest point from the "other side" of the cash-shop argument isn't it?

"Don't let them sell my achievements for 1.00. I "worked hard" for that, and want others to want what I have." It's always about the others. Without the others (and their imagined lust for the players gear), your average raider would just be a player passing through gear like a jackrabbit on a date. Show me a raider without the latest gear and I'll show you a raider who is wanting that latest gear, and will ditch the old stuff as soon as the new stuff comes along. (Again, this is no knock, just the truth.)

To me, the danger doesn't lie in allowing players to "buy their way" into glory, when others have to "work" for it.

The danger lies in allowing a culture that not only encourages greed and lust, but often tears virtual friendships apart (show me a raiding guild, and I will promise you at some point an argument has come forth about raiding schedules, frequency of raids, or loot) to continue on. If, for one reason, that culture should be discouraged: it makes players unhealthy. (NOTE: I am not saying all of raiding/high-end does this for everyone. Just most.)

Recently I found out that some players in Vanguard, after a recent level cap increase, played several 20 hour days in an effort to get further in the game. I knew this sort of thing still happened, but was actually more shocked to get a few messages telling me that players still did this in Vanguard quite often.


One day, everyone will know how silly some of these myths are. You can already debunk most of them by simply playing more than 2 or 3 cash shop games and experiencing other areas outside of the game besides combat. RMT and cash-shops are actually not the more dangerous item here, making players "lazy" and destroying the delicate ego's of raiders everywhere. If it discourages players from playing for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, I'm all for it. And if it allows players the choice to avoid that, or allows both types of players to play the same game, even better.


 EDIT: Just a quick note: I am not making fun of anyone or their choice of playtime. We all play in different ways. What I am trying to say is that one persons value is not universal for everyone. If we are going to have this back and forth about RMT, people need to make sure they understand how it works in most games.

Beat the heat with your favorite MMO!

Posted by beauturkey Saturday July 4 2009 at 11:42AM
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If you're like me, you can't stand the non-stop 102 degree days that summer brings. The heat seems to bring all activities to a stand still, and it's hard to do anything without breaking out in a sweat.

Going to the store involves cooling out the car, or walking the dogs has got to be done after sunset for risk of over-heating. Summer is fine, but the heat is NOT. Here's one sure-fire recipe to help you cool down:


2) Dogs

1) Sprinkler

1) Backyard.

Simply turn on the sprinkler, and jump through it until the longer haired dog looks like a large, drowned rat:

drowned rat(2)

Now, for those of you without a dog/dogs, and for those of you that prefer to stay out of the water, here are some spots in your favorite virtual worlds to cool off in!

1) Vanguard: Go to the zone of Falgarholm to find Torshiem, a wonderfully epic zone covered in snow! Cool off in the dark shadows as you sneak by giants and monsters! If you are patient and quiet, you will come across a massive beast named Torkald, the one who Mourns. What he is crying about, I'll never know, but he needs to cheer up because at least he isn't burning up in 100 degree weather! Stay COOL, you big cry-baby!

2) Free Realms: go to Seaside, the wonderful beach-front community, to swim in the surf and watch fireworks! Kick back with a drink, build a sand-castle, or run around collecting old tires (not very glamorous, but who ever said saving the beach was?) There are many quests to do here, and there is always a party going on at the beach! Watch out for Robgoblins throwing dynamite, and enjoy the ocean breezes!


3) Ryzom: Ah, the Lake-Lands, land of a million Lakes! In the land of the Tryker you will find Fire-wine, swimming, digging and plenty of friends! Host a beach-party, strip down to your undies made from leaves and dive in! Even the HOUSES are underwater! Swim right up to the bar in the center of town and order a large Mek juice, gulp it down while chatting it up with a wandering Zorai. If there is one thing the Tryker know how to do, it's how to stay cool.

Remember, some of the best spots to stay cool are best enjoyed with a friend or two. Form a group and go looking. Soon you will be laying in the sun enjoying a good conversation with buddies. I have found that in any of these MMO's, more people than not are willing to find a place to relax. After all, the summer heat gets to everyone!

Have a good 4th of July!


Vanguard: Replace Sartok with a "Hardcore rule-set" server.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday July 2 2009 at 12:34PM
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(If you go to, you can vote on a poll I have set up. All 3 of you.)

Before I begin, let me say that I currently have a level 38 character ON Sartok. I have always maintained the character, but have done so privately as to not wake the sleeping-till-noon giant that is the average 22 year old griefer on Sartok. And it has worked, I have seen how cool most players can be on Sartok, but only because I have spent a good deal of time there. I see Sartok as a party with 100 people at it. If 20 of those people are allowed to act like jerks, then people leave the party.

But, the experiment has failed, if you ask me. Sartok has the lowest population of any server (although I will bet they are not far behind from the others in the grand scheme) and for the last two years of my involvement in the community I have heard cries of "fix PvP." While PvP does have it's share of bugs, there are no more than the share that PvE has. PvP'ers tend to forget that they are actually PvE'ers, as well. All the fixes done for PvE is a fix for the PvP server. Overall, however, the bugs are fewer that you would think, like the rest of Vanguard. The average game-play session might welcome a couple, but none that are really game-breaking. Anyway, Sartok is mostly dead and most pvp'ers are stuck in chat or out fighting the same 15 people they always fight. Ganking happens, but as with most PvP, it is the equivalent of tripping someone, not killing them.

Uhm, not hardcore: just eww.
Uhm, not hardcore: just eww.

So, what would a replacement "hard-core" rule-set server consist of? How would it be implemented?

1) Save the current Sartok population, with their gear, gold, levels..everything. Granted, most people would cry foul and demand, at least, the relinquishing of their gold, but if I were in control I would let them have it. If "new" players wanted to "catch up" to the old Sartokians, they could simply raise it within a few weeks or go buy it on Live Gamer, as they do now. Give the older population a special title wepaon...whatever.

2) Wipe it out, throw the new server rule-set on top. MCP, the infamous "phantom" dev, seemed to indicate that it would be relativley easy to do this. Of course, in MMO's and especially in Vanguard, nothing is easy. I would be willing to test it and give it a try. Here are some examples of what he said:

" Something like this has been coded for some time (by yours truly), but not test verified.

It is a "hard core" server rules set.

Firstly, that would require an additional server shard, which is quite a few machines.  Not a trivial expense by any means. (Sartok would be the server shard-Beau)

Secondly, it is unclear whether this would be a viable financial model.  So any such server would at best be temporary unless population on that server proved the viability of this style of play in number of active players on the server.

We had a survey at one point to judge interest levels, but players went online and spammed other players to go post, and so we had to shut down the survey. "

"Server was intended to have NO character transfers.

It would be a "start from the beginning" server.   The entire point of the server is to make the game experience more challenging, and that would not be the case if transferring over max-level characters (or any characters) was allowed."

So, what would the special ruleset server consist of?  This is how I would like to see it:

1) No open PvP. Most players do not want it, or would be willing to put up with it. Tripping someone has nothing to do with being "hardcore." There could be entire areas that would be pvp-enabled, arena's and dueling...all the usual PvP stuff that works in all sorts of other MMO's. Most people do not like to PvP, proven by the lack of popularity of PvP, so let's let it go. People left Fel for a reason, people don't PvP as much as PvE in EVE for a reason...we don't need more proof.

2)  No instant travel. Only travel allowed is by boat, horse or foot. Oh yes, or flying, too!

3) Higher death penalty.

4) Mobs are cranked up a bit, or options for adjusting difficulty levels upwards included.

5) Raid visits are limited. I am not familiar with the timers as they exist (if they do) but visitng the same mob dozens of times is as convinient as instant travel, and should not be allowed.

6) The oceans and land areas are filled with life. This is just one of my wishes, but I would love to see more LIFE. Give me some fish in the oceans.

And here is what MCP said: ( a lot of the same. I stolededed it from him!)

"The hard core rules server as coded currently does the following:

* Eliminate world-assisted fast travel, such as riftways and flying mount vendors.

* Eliminate most bind requirements on most gear in the game (they would not even be bind on equip let alone bind on pickup)

* Decreases by half the amount of experience earned from mobiles and quests (for adventuring only)

* Increases all game mobile difficulty of mobiles below raid level mobs by 1/2 dot in power (3 dot becomes effectively a 3.5, 4 dot a 4.5, etc).  This starts scaling at level 1 and is fully scaled in at level 10.

* Death causes experience loss, there is no debt.  And you can de-level (lose a level)

* The code support an additional loot table that is a world loot table that can rarely drop loot on this server that drops on no other server.   It was thought that for the additonal challenge of such as server, there had to be rewards available that were available to no other server. "

Intereessttiinngg. Veeerrrryyyy.

There are many, many more options for a "hardcore" rule-set server. Most of them can be debated as to their value, but one thing I think we can all agree on (I think?) is that "hardcore" is an attempt to get as close to reality as  a fantasy game will allow you to go. Sometimes, imitating reality just means to make players slow down. Some players, I think, feel as though harcore means "hard to play" (as in challenge), but it cannot.  In example, you can go take juggling lessons and, within a week, be juggling and entertaining your friends. Juggling is not that hard to learn, (neither is drumming, I know! hehe) but is only limited by your imagination and your time.

Raiding and pvp'ing, two main examples of game-play that are often touted as "hardcore" are like juggling. You can be doing as good as anyone else within a short time, and can be on the same level as your friends within a small time later. The hardest of the hardcore pvp and raiding out there do not provide near the challenge as most things in real life, so real life must be the goal.  Also, a special rule-set server should be about an immersive experience. While this can be different for different people, the one constant immersive experience we all are familair with is real life. Make our characters go through some of the same things we might: walking/running/riding/sailing instead of teleporting, "dying" meaning a longer recovery time, or neat things like requiring food to be eaten to prevent loss of health.

For me, the experiment that was Sartok is ended. While I wish the server had more citizens than they do, the fact is that most players do not bother with PvP. They just don't, for many reasons. I think blaming it on "broken PvP' has some merit, but more than likely players just do not want to be bothered by some kid tripping them, over and over. Mostly, it is about the community, and the perceptions that players have of that community.

Who knows..maybe it would be neat to take a poll to see what people would think. Maybe it would be neat to take a petition outside of the forums to see how many people would be interested. Either way, I would expect nothing to happen, as Vanguard has bigger fish to fry.But I can dream can't I?


So, where to watch fireworks, and in which game?

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday July 1 2009 at 11:08PM
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Fireworks are quite the experience. When I was a child, they were all about pop-bottle fights and possible trips to the hospital. They were about running around our pond with the smell of gunpowder in the air. My dad would set off entire packs of thousands of Black Cats as he laughed, and all me and my brothers could think was: "All those ant piles we could've blown up...gone, all gone..."

Now that I am older, watching fireworks is pretty much like Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday. They're fun, but even my nostalgia for the holidays is waning. Similar to when someone dies, you find yourself nostalgic for the nostalgia, rather than enjoying the holiday. Anymore, holidays are just another day.

Except in game.

I don't know exactly why, but when you log into an MMO holiday, I feel a different kind of holiday joy. It's similar to the joy I felt as a kid (Christmas as a kid was INCREDIBLE) but a little alien, probably because most in-game holidays are much like the real life ones, but with a twist, The same, but not.

That alien feeling is closer to the wonder I felt as a kid than holidays are, now. There are your friends with you, in game, but they are not besides you. There is food and cheer, but it is made of pixels. The holiday fun in an MMO is more pure, maybe because it is NOT real, and made of nothing but emotion and camaraderie.  I can actually say that I have spent more holidays in a game than with my family. Granted, they live in the next state over, only 3 hours away or so, but the price of gas and the cost of a pet-sitter usually leave us in-game to celebrate.

So, with the 4th of July holiday coming up, what do we do?

Leala, of course, will want to spend it in WoW. I am game for anything, but want some fireworks that are INCREDIBLE. Ryzom has, hands down, the best fireworks in the virtual world (watch this film near 2:45), but I want to be in game with Leala, and she only does WoW.

We COULD, I guess, go up to the local big-ass annoying mall to watch them like last year. They were nice, minus the mosquitoes and crappy "proud American" music, but after-wards it took us literally 30 minutes just to get out of the parking lot. This was 10 minutes from our house.

So yeh, screw that.

If anyone has a suggestion, shoot. Just remember: they have to be loud and boomy.