Blizzard Plushies: Are They Worth It?

Posted by on March 24, 2010 - 2 Comments »

Everyone knows that I am a sucker for in-game pets.  I’ve spent countless hours farming for some, grinding for others, avoiding ninjas for more and dumping assloads of money for still more.  Achievements are Juggynaut’s thing, non-combat pets are mine.  Basically, I’ll go to the ENDS OF THE EARTH for some cute, cuddly creature.

Despite this infatuation with small animals – perhaps that is why I selected a gnome? – I didn’t break down and purchase either of the introductory pets.  Lil’ KT and Pandaren Monk have everything I want – coolness (literally in Lil KT’s case), custom animation and interactivity – but they also possessed a hefty $10 price tag.  I couldn’t convince myself to drop cold hard cash on them.  It turns out all Blizzard had to do was add an in-real-life item to gawk at.

Now the question to ask is, “Are they worth it?”  Check the above video to find out.

Last but not least, here is your gratuitous plushie-on-a-bed screenshot.

Look who found a pair of new friends.

MMOGs Heading To Facebook In Full Force

Posted by on March 24, 2010 - No Comments »

It strikes me as ironic that days after Activision CEO Bobby Kotick admitted that his company is hot and bothered by the success of Facebook games a pair of recent MMOGs will be getting a presence on the social networking site.  Sure, World of Warcraft has its own application – one that I refuse to use – but Fallen Earth and Runes of Magic will be taking it a step further.  Fallen Earth, LLC and Frogster Interactive are producing entirely new products set in the respected universe of the games.

Runes of Magic: The Challenge is being developed as a whole new game for the platform.  The app will utilize network gaming and viral communications to instill a sense of “adventure, exploration, and strategy elements” upon players.  RoM: The Challenge is being designed by Frogster to lure Facebookers to the free-to-play game by awarding cards with key codes for in-game items.

Fallen Earth: Faction Wars appears to have a different end game.  Icarus Studios is developing the title as a stand-alone game with no cross contamination to speak of.  But that doesn’t mean the game will stray from its big brother.  Faction Wars will have players fighting over nine “conflict towns” as they develop their characters via missions, crafting and even PvP.  The same classes and factions will be present, but the characters created will not be tied together in any way.  It appears that the game is nothing more than a marketing tool.

Obviously, both games are marketing tools, the companies are just executing the final push differently.  RoM is giving Facebookers a reason to check out their game – the in-game loot – while FE seems to be content with just spreading the brand.  There’s merit in both approaches but one thing is for certain, expect a ton of additional status update spam on the likes of Farmville’s scale.

Would you like to see the games more linked, possibly even importing characters (assuming security isn’t an issue)?  Or can we truly become too saturated?

RoM: The Challenge and FE: Faction Wars are both due out in Q2 2010.  Perhaps we’ll see more of them PAX East this weekend.

Final Fantasy XI – March Update Now Live

Posted by on March 23, 2010 - No Comments »

The FFXI March update is now live. This new add-on introduces a ton of new content to the world of Final Fantasy XI, including the Odin and Alexander summons previously mentioned at VanaFest 2010, the Wings of the Goddess storyline missions, several job tweaks – for Puppetmaster, Summoner and Beastmaster. Another new feature is the “Trial of the Magians”, a new title given to any player that completes a series of quests for level 75 characters. To initiate a quest in Trial of the Magians, players must speak with the “Magian Moogle,” an NPC located at H-5 in the Ru’Lude Gardens. Anyone interested can read the full patch notes here. So much for Final Fantasy XI shutting down..

Star Trek Online – Dev Chat

Posted by on March 20, 2010 - 1 Comment »

Today I had the opportunity to participate in a small vent chat with Cryptic_Gozer of Cryptic Studios. Gozer is the lead designer for several of the special task force (raid) missions in Star Trek Online, and took some time to talk about Infected and The Cure with us during his day off work. Here are the highlights and some never before released information he shared:


Regarding the Infected Mission:

1) The tactical cube in Infected drops a purple item if played correctly. Nobody has yet achieved this.
2) On the test server the gate health is now 800k instead of 200k and has a 20 second window in which the shields are down. One wave comes out and then the gate shuts down. The gate does not open again until every npc is dead. There are also no longer spawns above and below the gate.
3) When fighting the end boss (Rebecca Simmons), a player in the group will be targeted with a blue circle. That player will do damage to other players in the group within a particular range regardless of what that player does. The goal is for that player to get away from the other team members.
4) Borg will no longer double-spawn in the end room of Infected. They still respawn, but the respawn timer no longer starts until the borg die (rather than when they spawn).


This gate just got stronger



General Information:

1) Marks of Valor are planned to be tradeable for other badges/tokens in the game.
2) Dropping a STF mission will no longer allow you to retake it, unless the timer has reset already for that mission.
3) The first part of The Cure does not give marks.
4) Comparing Rebecca Simmons to the Borg Queen, Gozer stated “On a scale of 1-10, you guys are at a 2 right now”.
5) Khitomer Accord will explain why the borg were so weak in the tutorial (also created by Cryptic_Gozer) and hidden in the Khitomer Accord mission (not an objective) will be a way to obtain a borg bridge officer (with robotic uniform and not an engineer).

Dungeons & Dragons Unlimted : State of Game 2010 Address

Posted by on March 18, 2010 - No Comments »

Fighting it out in Dungeons and Dragons Online : Eberron Unlimited

Yesterday Dungeons and Dragons Online : Eberron Unlimited came out with a state of game address from Fernando Paiz,  Executive Producer of the MMOPRG that covered quite a bit of ground on what is coming up in the months to come.  Here are some of the highlights on what was covered in the letter.

Update 4 is coming out in April and will feature a storyline that involves House Deneith, Searing Heights, a new kind of undead and a nefarious band of pirates led by the infamous Captain Tew with his beloved pet, Ratty.  Other content packs later in the year will involve a fiendish carnival and a new Wilderness adventure that will contain the first quest with underwater combat.

Cosmetically there will be some additions to give your characters a new look as well.  Items are being worked on that will alter your appearance when equipped but keep the stats benefits from the last item you had on.  This will lead to the user eventually getting hats and helms in April,  such as a cute fluffy bunny hat or evil dire rabbit helm.

Guilds are due to get a tune up in the weeks to come with the housing system being revamped.  Players that are tired of playing the same races will get a treat with Half-Orc on its way to the game.  Towards the end of the year there will be a chance to try this race with a plus 2 bonus to strength.  Another class that is being asked about is Cleric Domains. Paiz has this say on the subject

“A few folks asked about Cleric Domains. I don’t have anything to announce for 2010, but I will say that when it gets to be the Cleric class’s turn to get a polish pass, that is when we will consider these types of additions to the class.”

They are also working on some new classes for hirelings to let players better fill out their parties with them.  Look for Favored Souls and Bards to appear first and maybe another class or two later in the year.

In addition to adding new content to the game there are also some improvements and fixes on the way as well.  In the works are Mass Heals working on parties of up to 12 players, improvements to weapon sets and fixing some bugs in key maps.  Bigger requests they hope to get done this year include adding string search to auctions, improvements to avatar animations and doing a polish pass on ranged combat.

In an effort to expand the game to audiences around the globe, plans are in the works to get European players into the game as soon as they can. Paiz states “We are also evaluating how we can bring DDO to players who speak other languages and live in other parts of the world. The localization and rollout work is likely to take some time, but look for some announcements on this later in the year as well.”

So that is a summary of what players should expect in the coming months for this popular MMOPRG.  Keep visiting the website for any future updates as more news comes in.

Global Agenda Dev Chat Recap

Posted by on March 18, 2010 - No Comments »

Hi-Rez Studios held a second Developer Chat two weeks ago (posting the recording days later), and I’ve finally found the time to digest everything in the hour plus conversation.  Executive Producer Todd Harris and VP of Game Operations Stew Chisam fielded the questions chosen from community submissions, with PR Specialist Michal Adam handling the moderation duties.  The second chat was much like the first, long and repetitive.  It’s buried, but there is information in the podcast worth highlighting.

One of the topics of discussion I brought up was pointedly asked by Michal:
Is Hi-Rez going to do something about the advantage that large alliances/agencies have over smaller ones, or is it going to be a free-for-all like EVE Online?

Todd responded that the company envisions Global Agenda as a game that will enable small agencies of talented players to be competitive.  This very concern is why the Theft Mission structure (read about it here) was created.  By enabling any agency to assault production facilities the developer has given smaller squads the ability to hurt large ones.  Todd believes the new mission type will lead to a contraction of agency size; the larger the agency the more vulnerable it becomes.  Defense Facilities (also in the notes) help small agencies as well.

The topic came up later on, at which point we were told that Hi-Rez Studios will “continue to be very, very focused” on agency balancing.

The lack of new content for level 30-50 was the largest complaint of the live chat channel.  The background is that after level 25 there is very little new content for the players to access.  There’s no additional game types (PvE or PvP), and all of the deployable equipment has been unlocked.  The only thing to look forward to is additional skill points for the plain specialization trees.  So it’s a very fair complaint.

In the near term, all Hi-Rez Studios can do is placate the playerbase.  We can expect additional payload options for sections that currently have only one option – boost, jetpack and melee weapons – to roll out soon (TM).  The options would unlock depending on level.  The gear would be focused on versatility as opposed to making a character more powerful.  Adding consumables (like from those “elf” games)  was kicked around as well.  These “potion like” items would give players temporary benefits, act as a money sink and open up additional crafting tasks.

The most talked about point of interest was the lack of an open world.  To date, everything in the game is instanced.  There’s no where to adventure, no exploration, no quests and no ability to leave Dome City besides to do battle.  That is going to change via a “premium” content patch (won’t be available to non-subscribers).

Initially, I thought that the decision was horribly unfair.  After all, Champions Online was taken out back when Cryptic tried to charge for the upcoming content patch.  That being said, the more I heard about it, the more I realized how deserving subscribers are of the addition.  The open zone sounds like it’s going to be rather massive in size, “several minutes to jetpack across,” with much to do.  The patch will come with a new mission structure for the desert area.  Basically, Hi-Rez’s version of a quest hub.  Missions will include PvE and PvP choices.  Hi-Rez is rewarding its subscribers, not charging them extra.

The lack of an open world in Global Agenda was one of my main concerns, so I am glad the issue is being taken to heart.  Can’t wait to hear more about it.

A heart breaker to some will be that there are no new classes “in the short-term plans.”

Todd did most of the talking, but Stew verbalized the most memorable sentence of the chat.  He proclaimed that the developers are “here to earn your subscription.”

I’m still waiting on my pony Stew.

Lost In Mortal Online

Posted by on March 16, 2010 - No Comments »

Trees, mountains, more trees, more mountains and more trees

Normally when I say I’m lost in a game I’m referring to the games atmosphere and gameplay, but this time I literally mean I’m lost.  I’ve wandered out from one of the game’s cities into the wilderness and have been lost for about an hour or so.  I have no idea where in the game I am or how to get back to where I came from.  I haven’t seen a single player, NPC or Mob the entire time other then a few pigs or rabbits, which are scarce at that.   For those of you who haven’t played Mortal Online yet, there is no in-game map, so you never really know where you are or where any city is.  There are no sign posts on trails or at outposts pointing to a cities direction, or at least I haven’t found any.  Considering Mortal Online is set to release this month, within 2 weeks, I’m shocked at the lack of content outside the cities.

I found the end of the world

A few weeks ago I wrote how the Mortal Online open beta was a dud due to the lack of content, however one reader replied back with “I’ve killed minotaurs, lizard men, terror birds, been in giant battles, wear full plate and have steel weapons. Plenty to do in the beta.”  My question to this reader is, where?  I’ve been walking around in all directions for over an hr and I haven’t seen one mob, not one.  I did find two outposts, but they were completely empty.

I now have about 6-8 hrs worth of gameplay in the Mortal Online open beta and while the games mechanics such as fighting, stealing, crafting and other systems are all working very well, I don’t really have anything to do.  I think the main issue I’m having is not having a map.  I don’t know where I am in relation to other cities and I don’t know where any thing is.  Just finding NPCs to buy and sell items takes forever because you have to search the entire city to find where they’re located.  I’m not saying I need a map with NPC icons everywhere, but a map that shows where the market is or where the smiths are located would be helpful.

Mortal Online does have some big content issues, but the game mechanics and rules are a breath of fresh air.  This is the first game where I’ve been able to steal items directly from a players loot bag, yes I’m playing as a thief and love it.  But aside from stealing items from people, I can’t seem to find anything else to do.

Update: I was not offline or desynced, after around 2 hrs I finally ran into a group of people and they pointed me in the direction of  a city.  This is also not a review, we do not review games in beta.

Star Trek Online – Update 1

Posted by on March 16, 2010 - No Comments »

Today Atari released a fact sheet regarding the content for Star Trek Online Update 1; also known as the 45-day patch or Season 1. Update 1 is scheduled to go live sometime between March 18th and March 31st.

More Klingon Content to Come

Lifetime Subscriber Perks

  • Classified Access Codes – A free C-store item.
  • The Captain’s Table – A special social area exclusive to Lifetime subscribers, available to both Federation and Klingon captains.
  • Special In-Game Title – “Career Officers” are those who’ve joined Starfleet or the KDF for the long haul.

PVP Updates

  • Wargames – Federation players can now participate in PvP against one another to better prepare for the dangers of the battlefield.
  • New PvP Map – Explore “Shanty Town,” a brand new Ground Assault map available for both Klingon and Federation players.

Customization

  • Off-Duty Uniforms – Experience Risa in style! Starfleet officers will have the option to change into off-duty outfits to enjoy more casual attire.
  • New Stances and Hairstyles – Further customize your Captain by changing his or her hairstyle, or adopting two brand new stances: Stern and Relaxed.

Ships

  • A New Klingon Battle Cruiser – The K’Tanco Battle Cruiser has been made available to Klingon Lieutenant Commanders.
  • Klingon Ship Customization – Use the ship tailor to customize your Bird of Prey or Raptor.
  • Respec Is Here – Unhappy with your Captain’s loadout? Use the respec tool to change things up.

Missions

  • New Fleet Actions Everywhere!
    • The Big Dig – Available in Romulan space.
    • DS9 Under Siege - The True Way has attacked and boarded DS9. Repel the invasion to save the day.
    • Klingons Can Play, Too – Klingon Captains may now access the Crystalline Entity, Big Dig and Breaking the Planet Fleet Actions

Skills

  • New Skill: Starship Attack Vectors – Improve your ship’s accuracy and critical hit chance.
  • New Skill: Combat Maneuvers – Improve your ship’s evasion and turn rate.
  • New Skill: Starship Battle Strategy – Improve your ship’s critical hit severity and damage resistance.

In The C-Store

  • New Bridge Variants - All new ways to update your Bridges’ look, available for a low price in the C-Store for both Federation and Klingon ships.
  • Federation Ship Variants – New takes on your old favorites, available for a low price in the C-Store.