Games I’ve Been Playing

•July 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m still lurking around online. I’ve just been quiet for awhile. There was quite a few months I was without a computer. My old one died and needed a huge upgrade anyway. Right now it seems my modem is experiencing a slow death. I can not reliably log on to Second Life for the past 6 months. No it’s not because of the infamous client 2.0, it’s because my 7 year old modem has been trying to chug data for 2 computers and an Xbox, sometime a 3rd one is running in the mix. The Xbox isn’t usually on with all 3 computers. Anyway because of the Xbox we all have been watching more streaming movies through Netflix on there. More data to chug. Then you throw in the massive amount of data Second Life streams and well, the modem will simply turn off the entire network and crash. Yeah, that’s what I’ve been dealing with for months. At first I blamed my new fancy router for the cause and kept fiddling with that. But when it crashed out after taking the router out of the link, well the only thing left was the 7 year old modem. *sigh* So hopefully I’ll buy a new one soon.

I have been playing a few games of late. PC games that is. Allods Online and Wizard101.  Both are considered free to play, although I don’t think Wizard101 is entirely that. They have a very different option for playing without a subscription. You pay for the new section as you go along, there by “buying” it for your entire account. Plus there’s no monthly charge that. For me it works out well, since I will go months without playing it. It’s also considered a kids game. There are many other adults that enjoy this game as much or more than I do. It’s nice change from a hack/slash RPG to a turn based card battle.

The other game, Allods Online, is much more of the traditional hack/slash RPG. It can be easily called a WoW clone, but there are enough differences in the game to set it apart. One of them being ship to ship battles in space. But they had a recent patch which has soured the majority of the population from logging in anymore. The problem with the patch is what they replaced their death penalty with. Permanently cursing a random piece of equipment. It is emphasized that it’s a slight chance of being cursed. But you can also receive cursed items from treasure chests or as dropped loot. Oh sure, you can uncurse it by being forced to buy a scroll from the cash shop, or a charm to save yourself from being cursed in death. Or as the developers will insist that you can buy it from the auction house from another player that bought it from the cash shop. The other thing they did was to bump up the damage and health of the mobs. That basically caused a 50% decrease in the damage players were able to deal out. Yes there is a cash shop link to this change also, it’s forced many to buy incense which will bump their damage back up and give them some self healing spells. Although I sort of like the challenge with the mobs, but I play a class with some small healing spells.

Now I am not at all objecting to developers of free play games from trying to get players to use their cash shop. I do use the cash shop in Wizard101 and I have in Free Realms and Dream of Mirrors. (Both are free to play games.) The big difference between cash shops on those games and with Allods is I’m not forced to use them because I need to in order to play the game successfully.  I would go and buy a mount in Allods now but I have no idea if the mount I’m buying is going to die on me or not. There is a health bar for the mount.  Oh yeah they have $15.oo vanity clothes also….with no vanity slot on your character for your overpriced outfit to show off while questing. Yes, that’s the big problem with their cash shop before the patch, no one had a need to use it. The things they had in there were either overpriced or simply not necessary so in order to make players use it they did this weird item curse and damage nerfing. *sigh*  There are much better ways to get people to use your cash shop without messing with game mechanics so much that you lose more than half your population in the higher levels. I mean who wants to PVP now?

So my suggestion is not to reply to your players with a double speaking post on how we don’t have to use the cash shop and can buy from the auction house from a possible gold seller instead. Instead create some new armor for the mounts or pets to wear. If it’s just for show, that’s ok. How about an armor/weapons set for players? Yes, with stats. People would buy it and wouldn’t feel like they were forced into buying it. Check out the other games I mentioned and look at what they have to offer in their cash shops.

I actually really like Allods but it’s becoming more and more like a ghost town past level 21. Which makes it rather depressing to play. It is still a very young game and considered in open beta. So I am hoping that something will change where they won’t feel the need to force the cash shop on to players. Just make some interesting things for people to buy instead. Please not the whole mystery chest stuff either. We all know that mystery chest is just a gamble and bordering a scam. Yeah, just about all the free to play games have that in their cash shops too. Bleh!

I’m not so naive as to think that this fun game could continue on the way it was, with a rather crappy cash shop that had no use for the players and expect the developers to be able to afford to continue offering this game. They needed a way to make money off it also. I just feel their solution is a poor one. I rather they added subscriber only areas/quests or something like that instead of this.  I also hope that they are aware of LOTRO going to a free to play model in the near future. I suspect that many people will be jumping ship to them since that’s a polished and established game.  And Turbine listens to their customers closely without responding to them with double speak.

So there’s my long winded post/rant on the games I’ve been playing of late. I think I’ll go off and play Red Dead Redemption now.

Edit Note:  I love Akismet! Yeah, even on my sleepy little blog I get spammers. On this post alone I’m getting spam from gaming sites. Really? This rant-ish post needs spam from a gaming site?

Edit Note: To clarify things for the spammer. I am only familiar with the North American version of Allods Online. The links are all to the North American version. So I can only say that since the patch for the North American version, areas for 20+ level are very vacant. Zone chat is extremely quiet now. Gala-Net is offering a contest of sorts that does get people to log in for at least 2 hours a day. Most of the people are usually AFK in the main cities though. 😦   So spammer guy, I hope that clears up things for you.

Second Life Machinima

•October 29, 2009 • 1 Comment

This is probably the best machinima I’ve seen from SL! It’s a great promo for SL!

I disagree with Wagner James Au of New World Notes, that this video would be something to get a gamer to try out SL. I am a gamer. I am also a gamer that had a hard time getting into SL back in 2005. It took me at least 6 months to figure out the place and try to build things. Which I enjoyed immensely! I learned so much about 3d graphics and I still want to learn more and more.

I think this other video by the same people is a better intro for a gamer to SL. Since most games are about the story.

Still you won’t find a game play excerpt in there. (Combat games in SL are rather clunky. It’s more for the socializing and role-play than game play.)

Second Skin Documentary

•August 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I finally watched the documentary on gamers called, Second Skin. I had heard about this film through some blogs on virtual worlds related to Second Life. Since I haven’t been to a film festival in over 15 yrs, I knew I wasn’t going to see this till it hit DVD or cable. Luckily Hulu is showing the movie free until Aug. 13.

I used to be a serious MMO gamer.  I gradually reduced my own game play to that of a casual gamer now.  I can relate to a few of the people profiled or at least remember meeting people online that were similar. I suppose the overall direction that this film does is make it seem that anyone playing any MMO is an addict. Yes, there was an extremely brief positive note about a person playing Second Life and how it was a positive experience for him to over come his disability. Maybe that was just thrown in there to reduce the negativity of the entire film.

Is it a bad film? No, it does show the average age group of gamers and different aspects of their own experience playing an MMO. The main thing people must keep in mind it does not show the average gamer. Instead it shows mainly stereotypes of gamers. Stereotypes always have some truth in them, but they are still stereotypes and do not go for all people.

I think the most irksome part of this film for me was having the mother of a mentally disturbed person that committed suicide over EverQuest. She is apparently still in denial of her son’s fragile mental state and still blaming EQ for his death. It was a very tragic out come for her and her son. I am not minimizing that at all. But he needed mental help in a bad way which seems to have been dismissed by either him or his mother. I am only going by what was said in the movie and some old news articles. It just seems that since the therapist didn’t tell her that yes, the video game was a problem which is what she wanted to hear, that the therapist was dismissed entirely. The other thing the movie did was to basically place her as the “expert” on gaming addiction. Or in her view that all gamers are addicts. Neither of which is true.

Also the gamers that they show in this movie are only MMORPG gamers. They do not go into gamers on game consoles. Believe me there are probably just as many gaming addicts on those consoles as on a MMO. Call of Duty:WAW has levels that you have to grind up to. Each level will unlock more equipment for the player. Sounds familiar to a MMO player. So there you go, people are playing that just as much, but not for years on end like an MMO. Why? Simple, in an MMO you build relationships up with other people that you play with. On something like CoD:WAW, well…’s a little hard to build up a relationship with guys that just trash talk in the mic.  Yeah, the older players seem to try to get people to do actually strategy but good luck with that. Although people do have Clans (aka guilds) for CoD now, which could help build up relationships and tactical play.  (One note, I’ve only watched my husband play the game. I’ve only played that in Co-Op with him or the solo campaign. ) So for MMO players you do get a bit more interaction with other players which can further draw people into the game. There is simply more time to communicate with each other.

So to sum it up, even though there is a rather negative slant to this film, I would still recommend this to people to watch. Especially if you’ve played any MMO. You’ll most likely say to yourself, “Hey, I know someone like that!” or “That’s hitting too close to home”.  Just prepare yourself mentally if you are a MMO gamer for basically the usually negative stereotypes. Then you’ll be happy to see it isn’t that bad except for that mother. Ugh…

Edit Note: Fancast has a very good interview with the director of Second Skin.

Dawning of an New Era

•January 20, 2009 • 1 Comment

If you missed the ceremony this morning or live in another country. I encourage you to watch Obama’s Inaugural Speech on CNN.

Gold Farmers & Sellers

•May 9, 2008 • 5 Comments

I haven’t bothered to express my opinion on this since I believe that just about every single gamer out there is against it. I’m strongly against it. Since the first person sold their EQ account on Ebay, I’ve been against it.

Of course in EQ when someone was dumb enough to buy and account you could spot the ebayed account right away. They would usually be someone of a high level that had no idea of how to play their class. It was sad since they would usually get their group wiped out somewhere. Then they were just plain blacklisted so it ended up being a waste of money for the person. Later on people would simply buy a higher level character of the same class they were playing.

In WoW it’s so common placed that players are buying gold just to buy better gear, that it’s just about unstoppable. I do appreciate Blizzards strong stance against gold selling and all the efforts they are going through to stop it. I had a guildie that admitted to buying gold for better gear the year before Burning Crusade came out. Then that expansion came out and all the gear he bought was obsolete. Rather funny really. But sad for the people that actually raided for the gear.

Ok back to the point, gold sellers. I had a random, out the blue gold seller message me on one of my IM programs I use. It was very strange and disturbing. I asked how he got my name. He claimed to have found it on a game forum. I only had it up on one game forum, a forum that I created for a guild I was in. Plus it was a game that you can not easily sell gold on. So I tell this guy that I don’t buy gold and no longer played the game. He asked me to basically spam my friends with his website. Needless to say I just blocked him at that point.

So it’s not bad enough that gold farmers ruin the games we play by hording all the monsters or camping spawns. Now we have to get spammed on our IM programs we used! I mean it was bad enough to have the constant spamming of gold sellers in WoW but this?

And here is why I finally wrote my opinion on gold sellers. I recently did a Google search of my alias name on Second Life and for this blog and found something that’s just very irritating. Some gold seller has posted my entire review for LoTRO, everything including all the comments for it! Didn’t bother to do a simple link back to the blog, but they did credit me for writing it. Which makes it look like I wrote the review for this asshat! View it here in all it’s glory.

Yeah, I’m surprised and shocked, but mainly I’m very very disgusted. It’s a straight rip off. I don’t even understand the continued popularity of that review since it’s a year old and was from closed beta. What I really don’t understand is why this person didn’t just do a link instead of making it look like I wrote this for them.

You need to “register” to post a comment on their gold selling blog. I rather not hang out my IP address for this jerk. I’m just pissed.

*Special Note* – I want to make a special distinction between gold sellers/farmer and RMT (Real Money Trading). When a game like Entropia Universe or Second Life has RMT built into the economy then any game money that’s being sold is not against their rules. Nor is it ruining the game for other people. Sony did give up the fight against gold sellers and put in a RTM market system for EQ 2, which basically blows away outside gold sellers since a player can sell directly to another player with their system. I am not against RMT that a game has in place. Actually with Second Life, people are able to pay their monthly subscription off by selling their game money.

Improv Everywhere

•April 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Let me first say, yes it’s been a long time since I posted anything. I just haven’t felt like writing much of late. Plus I was trying to refrain from joining in all the rants against Linden Lab over the past few months. That’s sort of like shooting fish in a barrel, when it comes to having ready made topic to write about. Which is why I’ve tried not to. I do have a few other topics floating in my head finally to post about.

First is about Improv Everywhere. I’ve been following their blog of late after first hearing about them from Geek Gestalt. Very creative group of people! There are more groups around the world now. I believe it all started in New York City. The New York group has some great videos on YouTube. My favorite from NYC group is this one:

It’s just so harmless and fun! I did have to wonder why the DC group had problems with their Ipod “silent” dance. They weren’t silent, from the horrible video they had they were noisy. Still I wouldn’t think that would be a cause to be arrested. Although there is a difference between the DC group and NYC group. The NYC group did state plainly that if you are asked to leave to just leave. Don’t fight it just go. The DC group made it into some weird political statement instead. Hey I agree with them, but it wrecks the process of the improv.

Although I love seeing the videos of the various groups, I have to say some of the taping is so bad that you can’t hear or see what is going on. Yet most of the taping in NYC was pretty good. I wonder how they did their taping without looking obvious about it.

Enjoy their work or join or start a group. They have more information on that on their website.

Understanding Art For Geeks

•January 27, 2008 • Leave a Comment
Akela Talamasca, from Massively, posted about this Flickr artist, paulthewineguy. He has a Flickr set called Understanding art for geeks. Some very geeky, but cleverly done references made on classic paintings.This painting is by Andy Warhol, calledone-blue-pussy.jpg One blue pussy. The geek reference is to lolcats blog, I Can Has Cheezburger.

Edit Note: I’m afraid his art work is no longer available on flickr or his blog. Here is his post on his reason for removing it. Update 2/28/08 – He has a new Flickr set called IT everywhere. Still funny and very witty.

Understanding art for geeks #12

Originally uploaded by Paul The Wine Guy.

Comedy Photoshop Tutorials

•January 27, 2008 • 2 Comments

I found this very funny photoshop tutorial series on photography blog, Photojojo. Photojojo is something to check out in itself for photography and photoshop tips. This photoshop tutorial series comes from a comedy internet tv site called, My Damn Channel. If you’re getting bored with regular tv since the writer’s strike started, check out this site for some comic relief. Some very funny stuff in there but there is also a lot of just plain silly stuff too.

What made this particular episode of You Suck at Photoshop really funny was that his eBay post was really on eBay for one day. The auction started off with a starting bid of $0.99 and went up to $750 by the time it was canceled. To see some of the Q&A comments from eBay you’ll have to go to the Digg story at the bottom. Those were equally entertaining as the video was! I’m not sure if there will be more episodes in this series, but I am hoping for more!

Oh yeah, as for the actual “photoshop tutorial” part of the videos, you can actually learn something from them if you already have some familiarity with photoshop. Right before episode 4 came out I had just started getting my feet wet with the pen tool and paths. Masks I haven’t tried yet. He did give some small tips on how to edit your pen paths.

This episode brought to you again by Donnie, is about paths and masks. Have fun and learn a thing or two.

digg story

Second Life Age Verification: in beta now

•December 8, 2007 • 4 Comments

I wrote a couple of posts about this when it first came out in May, that Linden Labs was going to put in age verification. I wasn’t happy with the way they were going to implement or the fact they needed to clean up their own mess with the whole, no credit card needed thing. (That just opened the door for anyone to go on the Main Grid were it was adult only. Yet on the Teen Grid you still need credit card info. *boogle*)
Ok, /rant off.

Last week it was announced that Linden Labs has put age verification into beta testing. There are some glitches in the system though. Massively has been publishing some very good articles on the subject, this one has some very good info in it. I would have to say after reading that article, Linden Labs should scrap this age verification system and go back to the drawing board. Maybe put back the old credit card verification system they once had and charge the one time fee of $9.95 again. Basically, if an under age person really wants to get on the Main Grid in SL, all they ever have to do is pose as one of their parents. So no system will ever be full proof.

Edit: 12/9/07 – Linden Labs has their latest blog post to answer resident questions. They are answering most of the questions we all had back in May but were not answered at the time. Probably because they didn’t know the answer then. Massive has another insightful post today. It’s a rather funny post on how many people are using dead celebrities and even live ones to verify with.

Elder Scrolls MMORPG is official! (or is it?)

•December 5, 2007 • 2 Comments

Edit Note 10/8/10: Thought I’d mention that it’s not so official yet. Yes their parent company bought the IP address but there hasn’t been a peep about it from Bethesda yet. They might be quietly working on it or not. A lot has changed in 3 years in regards to MMOs. They do have a ready made world with lore built in. Although sometimes the charm of their games is that it’s single player and especially because it’s modifiable!

I was very excited a month ago when I saw this post on Voodoo Extreme. But I was cautiously happy, since there was nothing official on it yet from Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls site. Well I just found this post on QJ.Net. (I’m a month late seeing that post though.)

I’ve seen many blogs buzzing about this since Voodoo Extreme first posted. Still there was nothing concrete yet. QJ.Net is the closest thing to concrete so far. Massively had several articles with different speculations on it.

I’m still worried that Elder Scrolls Online will be yet another WoW knockoff. I would like to see something new or improved in the way of MMORPGS. There are several things about the Elder Scrolls series that I really like. One main thing that I noticed right off with Oblivion, was the quests. They are not straight forward, some are even hidden quests. Even the Thieves and Assassin Guilds were hidden. The second thing was all the mods available to tweak the game itself. Plus you can even make you’re own mods for the game.

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