Thursday, November 12, 2009

BlizzCon 2010: Vegas, Baby

By way of Kotaku"

"Blizzard's annual festival is moving house next year, with the Anaheim Convention Center's services no longer required. Instead, the richest men in the galaxy will be holding BlizzCon at the Las Vegas Convention Centre.

While Blizzard are yet to announce the move themselves, the website of the LVCC has jumped the gun and listed the show, which is due to take place on the 30th and 31st of July, 2010.

For reference, the LVCC can hold 30,000 people. Which isn't going to be anywhere near enough."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

EA's Cuts Include C&C Team, Pandemic, Maxis & More

By way of

"Electronic Arts announced yesterday it would be eliminating 1,500 jobs, cutting a dozen in-development games and closing "several facilities." According to multiple sources, those cutbacks include studios like Pandemic, Maxis and nearly the entire Command & Conquer team.

Sources tell Kotaku that the team working on Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight was warned of its fate today, with almost the entire team expected to be let go after the real-time strategy game ships some time in 2010.

Also said to be affected heavily are Spore and former-Sims studio EA Maxis, social network gaming acquisition Rupture Studios, and Mercenaries and The Saboteur creators Pandemic Studios LA. Those development studios are said to be hit with substantial layoffs, according to a source, with remaining employees relocated to EA headquarters in Los Angeles and Redwood Shores.

EA is rumored to have already laid off staff at Tiburon, Mythic Entertainment and Black Box, reports which the company has yet to confirm.

We've reached out to Electronic Arts to verify these latest details, but have not yet heard back.

And now for your dinning and dancing pleasure . . .

ALL NEW! Star Wars Gangsta Rap: Chronicles

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ankle Buster – my g Wave review

Surfs not up for me on the gWave. And . . . I so so so wanted it to be . . . bitchin’, epic or even Choka, but . . . we’re in the soup here, dudes, dudettes and trans-dudies.

Here is the thing . . . what I thought gWave would be would be something that integrated e-mail, chat and everything thing else you typed online that Google touched. So, all your message board and blog posts and comments to blogs or to that article about global warming that made you so mad you wrote those three pages trying to explain why Sancho24601 is an idiot and then you left those two reviews on Amazon and . . . err . . . anyway, I thought it would be a one stop contextual index/archive for everything you typed to the Internet, but its not. What it is is . . . akward . . . like a teenage boy . . . full of maybe possible potential, but why risk it?

O.K., this is the problem . . . just like when Tina Turner sang on the soundtrack to Mad Max: Beyond Thunder Dome, “We don’t need another silo” (err . . . she sang “hero”, but “silo” works better for my argument). The main trouble with gWave is it is just another silo. It is just another place to log in and . . . lock everyone else out. And that isn’t likely to end with the end of a limited Beta or its indefinite unlimited Beta phase.

The next trouble with gWave is it isn’t googlishous. For things as basic entering text doesn’t feel like blogger or gDocs or gMail or anything else. It’s crude and confusing. You can’t embed an image, but you can embed a video?

There are some groovy things like being able to do a Google search inside the application and then directly link the result you were looking for. Of course, this would be of more use in blogger, gDocs and gMail. It’s nice to be able to see all the folks icons attached to the message. Yet, again . . . would be better in other programs. About the only thing I really loved was the idea of playing social Sudoku.

It’s a wipe out, but we can just recover and wait for another set.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rabbit Hole

Dude . . . go to and type with cursor and keyboard . . . UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, ENTER

I'm not so geeking out on what is hidden there, but that you can do that with a web page now.

Who would we be in Star Trek Online?

I'll go with the Mirror Mirror version of . . . err . . . me.

I'ma be a Talosian in Star Trek Online

Yah, that's right baby. These are my people, from one of my fav episodes. We're all about the brain, and we like to do research. We don't get out much and we don't talk much. Mostly we ponder the unknowable.

Klingon Propaganda . . . but for what?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Future . . .

ST:O looks like it is going live Q1 (My bet is early Q2) of 2010. While I am inclined to want to get into Global Agenda . . . there is some uber cool stuff here in the WOW equivalent established mythology and the idea of being a captain (everyone is a captain with their own ship) with the bridge crew the equivalent of a WOW Hunter's pet that you level up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Six is the only number upside down that is another number

When I get an invite . . . yours. Let me know if you get a Google Wave invite.

I'm surprised you didn't go with the Willis . . . The Bruce Willis!

God, I loved watching The Prisoner with my father as a child. Never understood it. I'd ask him to explain and he'd say "when you're older". It was only when I was older I realized he was trying to figure it out just like me.

Did you know there is a big ol' The Prisoner Mini Series coming to . . . I think AMC (Lord, I hope it's not The Lifetime Network!). Gandalf as the new Number 2.

"Who are you?"

"I am the new Number 2"

"Who is Number 1?"

"YOU ARE, Number 6"

Be seeing you.

. . .

UPDATE: You can watch them all here.

Fuck You and the Space Ship You Rode in on

I'll see your Double O Soul, and raise it with mah Secret Agent Man. I heart this song. Btws, that white chick in the back is me doing the modified surfer stomp.

But then that reminded me of the COOLEST SHOW EVAAAAAH:

Got another beta invite, you bastige?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Agent Double O Soul

If someone were to have an NDA for a major new MMO game . . . could they tell anyone that they had an NDA?

That's right, bitches!

Of course for me . . . the definitive version is The Untouchables . . . man, oh man, oh man, oh snakes . . . what a show! However, I so hate to disparage MoTown and any song with a pedigree that includes Edwin Star, Robert Preston and Ray Charles.

Anyway . . . back to playing this game . . . or not playing it.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Badly Do You Want It?

I wanted it pretty badly, enough to solo run Strath three times last night to get the last three bars of rep with Thunder Bluff. Each Strath run netted me about 12 stacks of runecloth and 40G but took about 75 minutes. I think I know that place now. LOL. Oh, I also got an entire line of rep with Argent Dawn, from friendly to honored in just those three runs. A lot of bones and scourgestones drop. It's actually not a bad farming run. I didn't even pick up everything blue that dropped, and I did get some blue BOE which are sitting on the AH right now for about another 80G.

The problem was that even buying those TB mounts left me one mount short. I didn't want to drop a lot of money on special mounts, e.g., go back and buy another netherwing for 200G. So, I figured there must be a mount somewhere I missed. And, sure enough, there was. The new ochre UC skellie mount finished it off. I got the achievement, and within seconds, really, the email wth the albino mount showed up in my mailbox. Now, I really like the color but whoever designed them made them look doofy with those big fat feet hanging down. Nonetheless, though I probably like my green Netherwing best, I'll be showing this one off. You don't grind a 50 mount achievement and leave the prize in the garage.

Now when I get that Argent Tourny mount... bwahahahahahaha

Friday, September 25, 2009


Yes, it's Brewfest. I doubt I'll get the Brewfest mount, but I am running the quests for the pets 'n such. You'll note that both Françoise and Fortknight got their special Venomhide dino mount. In this picture, Françoise is modeling it and you'll note right next to her is the Brewfest pet, the pink pachyderm.

Last year there was no pink pachyderm and I think it was probably a response to an anti drinking backlash because you had to be drunk to 'see' the pachyderms for the quest. This year you can get free synthgoggles that will give you the thrills of drunken behavior without actually requiring you to swill any alcoholic libations. I think that's a sign that WoW has caved to the kiddies and families. /cry. Make them go to Club Penguin for crap's sake. Let me drink and kill with virtual abandon here. That's partly what I'm paying for with my subscription.

Anyhow... work calls.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Favorite Grind

Not about coffee, and there are no favorite grinds. They all suck. But, some have better payoffs than others. So this is my dino baby on day 7; I'm now on day 12 and he's actually bigger. On day 20 he becomes a mount for my rogue, Françoise, and my DK, Fortknight. Ironically, I am having the most fun playing Alterac Valley with my hunter, Tynaqua. I always end up around 4th position for dmg and honor kills. Hunters are so OP. lol.

Meanwhile, Sarah and I decided late one night to run down to Booty Bay and slaughter the town many times over to get our Bloodsail Admiral outfits. Only took about 90 minutes. We think we look cool. If only we could emote a good "arg!" Now we'll have a short grind to regain rep so the neutral cities don't kill us on sight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wrap your mind around this!

EVE Comes To Consoles As An Online Shooter

CCP have today taken the wraps off Dust 514, a "hybrid MMO/FPS" that not only brings the world of EVE Online to consoles, but somehow ties the game to the PC MMO as well.

Apparently the game will "interact directly" with the PC title, allowing console gamers to manually fight out the battles for planets that are part of the larger MMO conflict.

It will do this by combining FPS and RTS mechanics. The game is being worked on by CCP Shanghai, and there'll be more details announced during CCP's big fan get-together in Reykjavik, Iceland in October.

Are you getting what I'm getting? It's kind of existential in execution. Think about this . . . a game where not all the players are playing the same game . . . or having the same experience. Maybe as you are leveling some or all your "mobs" in an instance are your casual console players playing a game as a first shooter . . .

Think about it. Shirley, this means something!

That's right . . . aliens have better base!!!!!

Also . . . oddly enough . . . universal health care, but they are actually coming to the United States for treatment. It's an odd universe.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Firefighters, Truck Drivers and Republicans . . .

Researching the concept of ethics and morality in gaming . . .

So, you don’t have to watch the whole thing . . .

It’s an odd jargonistic handshake kind of thing . . .

However, it always seems they never seem to understand they are commenting academically on a purely commercial venture. What I mean is that the design is to a purpose that to me (I’m out of step, no doubt) seems to be ignored by the academic commentary. It is like a talk on the social aspects of heroin culture without commenting or taking into context their own addiction . . . or that heroin isn't produced for ANY reason other than commerce though it is consumed for other reasons. All of these worlds are designed to dope and drug and delude us. The designers are pushers and the users are . . . err . . . users.

Ugh, can’t we all remember that college dorm room conversation about the aesthetics of something the person loves? You remember? Every sentence started with “man”. I’ll admit it all seems full of sound and fury, but . . . is it serious? Or is it just sentimental and self-justifying?

“Large Scale Knowledge Economies”

“Distributed Joint Coordinated Action”

He is wrong in “better” when it comes to sources of information. That presumes all information is of equal purpose and use. Different sources provide different information and . . . there is no “better”, but best for the situation you are seeking. There is no tool in the toolbox that is "better" outside of context.

“Distributed Knowing and Cognition”

“Space, Place and Geography”

Why do they always talk about these games in present tense? Most of my sense of place with WOW was always a sense of history and not present status. What was its name? Hogler? Man! The first time Linda and I in our wee aspects killed it . . . is a real memory for me with real emotions and real history.

I'd say you could almost argue that while often our relationships are affected in the imperfect present tense that it is within the history that they are valued. All this talk of presence ignores "pre", but that perhaps my prejudice.

One thing I’d say that WOW does is . . . distributed disconnected community memory (HA! I can do it too!!!) . . . meaning, you can be part of a community that shares the same memories of the same events that they however did not share together.

“Network of Imagination = Co–Presence + Community of Interest + Network of Practice”

I . . . it’s not the “co” . . . It’s the . . . “pre” . . .
Is there pre-presence? Is there this . . . discontinuous, but shared history?

This is totally personal in my experience, but I always felt my present was based mostly in my past when it came to WOW. The gear I wore . . . the lore I knew . . . the next quest you needed, but I’ve done . . . it was my history and not my present that held me in the game and community.

“Are you a player or an avatar?”

Ahhh . . . Identity . . . none of these folks are honest or dishonest enough to really discuss this.

“Dispositional Stances”


“Gamers quit when they stop learning” !!!

Funny, I quit when I had learned as much as I could take. When I think on WOW . . . I yawn. In no way a slight to those still there. Yet, I had learned what was worth learning about the game and about the rest. Regardless of the dramatic theatrics . . . not once from the moment I left did I ever feel there was something unlearned in WOW . . . never was there a pang to return and even now I actually have a loathing at the thought of returning. Yet, I have NOTHING to learn in Planetside, but I continue to play . . .
. . .

There is a bit of blah blah blah here in he 36 minute range.

. . .

Hey, he mentioned Constance . . .

I swear that “Steinkuehler” is a great toon name.


“The skill of the 21st century isn’t cheating, but knowing who to cheat off of”

Great comment.

“Dashboard skills”

“In terms of visualizing information . . . you can’t see what is happening at that most basic level because what is happening in that game doesn’t matter. What matters is the information I am getting and how I process it and what that user interface tells me what to do.”

“New networks of imagination” . . . applause.
. . .

“The minute a player sniffs out a learning objectives the first thing they do is subvert it, O.K.?”

1:01:15 . . . first and only brilliant and truly insightful comment.

. . .

As a teacher . . . "expertise vs. competence" . . .

. . .

"I hung out with firefighters, truck drivers, republicans . . . you know . . . people I would NEVER (look at his snear!) talk to in normal life." Some in the audience laughs in agreement.

All in the context of talking about someone saying something is "gay"? Is where a penis is placed more important than a practiced profession or a professed political view? Seriously, does he really think civil servants or conservative citizens are . . . what? . . . beneath him? Or that he is better than? DO all academics feel this way? Do the majority? (The majority I know do).

"I thought, this is a lesson about homophobia and language and these kinds of things that these kids learn in a way that is so profound and powerful that I can't imagine very many other context in which that can happen, so I saw that as a kind of learning experience which was great."

Irony is always lost on bigots.

I always thought if I ever made it into the ivory tower it would be free of this type of bullshit . . . this unintellectual and unintelligible idiotcy. I always held those in there in higher regards than they seem to hold firefighters, truck drivers or republicans. I can only hope a republican burns his house down while the firefighters laugh. As for the truck drivers? They have more important real things to do than deal with academics.

Academics (like celebrities) should ALWAYS avoid social commentary. It only undermines the purity of their art.

. . .

"The ethics are in the hands of the players"

Really? Or is it the cabal?

"What constitutes citizenship in World of Warcraft. What does it mean to be a good member of the community?"

There are those with power doing what people in power do and don't do in any and all human contexts. It is an odd sense of "community" that is controlled by five unassailable (or uninterested) overlords. Also, a community with blue collar or right wing folks? How the mighty must slum for fun!

. . .

All in all it is the usual self-justifying type of talk with the occasional interesting turn of an academic phrase. The idea of learners trying to subvert the lessons is the most interesting thing here if you ignore the naked bigotry of the speaker and audience at the end . . . which . . . how could you if you had actual integrity as opposed to academic integrity?

Monday, August 03, 2009

the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation

Goodbye, Matrix Online

"Makes you wonder; since so few of you will have actually played this game, what does it say about us that we find a game world's destruction infinitely more entertaining than its creation or existence?"

Also . . .

Friday, July 31, 2009

Perverting Game Play, or did they want us to?

Yes, alts again, get over it. I play my own game. Frankly, it's clear that Blizz recognizes that they have made a sandbox and people want to do lots of things, not just quests and gear. The fact that they lowered mounts to level 30 has something to do with that, I think. A recognition that we're all rolling alts and sick of running up and down STV road. [If only they'd lower the cost of cold weather flying... omg supporting three epic flyers is about 15K gold.]

So, I have acquired a habit of refusing to ride the given racial mount, on general principles. This means a lot of rep grinding but, wtf, kinda fun to go back into a lvl 30 dungeon as an uber toon and just pwn ur way thru. Although sometimes it makes me sad to see gear drop that would have been really cool to have back when I was a wee toon. So, my under-the-radar rogue, Françoise (after Francois Villon who was not only a poet but a thief), could not be stuck riding that stooooooooopid bird mount that all the BLELFS have to ride. I'm pleased to announce that I have grinded UC rep and hit exalted by lvl 52 and am now astride the truly awesome undead horse.

drum roll...

Yah, it's the fuckin' crater, but I'm outta there. Fortunately, on this alt I couldn't care less about covering all the territory. I just want her to level. I'm hanging out in Azshara and Winterspring cause they're prettier. I might do Silithus cause I have always avoided it in the past and because it has cool CE rep which I think I *DO* want (and lots of thorium).

Mr. Rhodes, I sure hope you show up in game under the radar. I'll play with ya. Hell, I'll level with ya. I have an Alliance paladin that's about lvl 11. I have a 60 pallie Horde side but I have forgotten how to play a pally and they've changed it so much, I thought I'd just learn it again from the bottom up. Plus I was getting sick of the ugliness of cities on the Horde side.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Planetside R.I.P.: We Few . . .

By the gods . . . I wish we were the 300!

We’re not even a baseball team . . . and neither are they.

Once, my virtual self stood on this ground with 100s before me and 100s at my back. It is an odd thing to face barely double digits on ground that once teemed with friends and foes.

I was here . . . they were here . . . explosions, encounters and excitement!!!

Now . . .this is almost . . . surreal.

Before me is a huge base with just a few defenders . . . and attacking the base . . . just a few. It’s pretty futile really. The built in bonuses of this and that don’t matter when the game devolves from massive to minimum.

Suddenly, the game is oddly personal. I mean, if there are only a dozen of us and a dozen of them . . . eventually you kind of sorta get to know theirs and yorn.

It’s no more about the weight of circumstance, but the circumstances of dueling. You kind of get a sense of that guy will kill me and I will kill that guy. It’s a very personal game now. Unlike WOW, we can talk across factions and . . . we do.

“Nice kill”

“Good jorb”

“Where is everybody?”

They are gone . . . to other games . . . greener virtual pastures.

It now feels like the cartoon of the wolf and the sheepdog (It’s a wolf? I thought it was a coyote. Seriously, why would a wolf try to eat a roadrunner? This makes no sense. It’s the Coyote and the Roadrunner, right?).

Yet, the question isn’t “where is everybody”, but “Why are we still here?” I suppose it is because someone has to turn the lights out. Maybe it’s a bit of nowhere else to go. Or is it the contempt of familiarity? Perhaps, it is just the mirror mirror on the wall. We’re just exiles no where near mainstreet. Nah, it's just spite.

All I know is it costs me nothing more than $4.99 a month and my time and there is a place that is dying and where I can still stand and where I can close my eyes and see . .. and recount . . . battles and histories and . . .

I’m running backward along a shore trying to keep an eye on a gnome. I think those baddy bastards over there are Kobolds.I know down the cliff there are Murlocks. Why is it always harvest season in Westmarch? Wait . . . is this Alliance territory? Why would I remember such a thing?

What were Guildenstern’s (or was it Rosencrantz?) last words? “There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time. ”.


P.S. For a list of all the references, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to . . .

Monday, July 27, 2009

OMG I Found James!

in the picture on the wall behind the bar out in Steamwheedle... Hey, at least it isn't a WANTED sign, right?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Have a Nice Day

Every now and then you need to zoom in to the stuff around you and you'll find some pretty amusing details. Like this eye-patched zepplin worker out in Northrend. You have to click on the thumbnail to see what I'm talking about.

Or, this kid. His picture is all over the place, including the Scryers' Inn in Shattrath. THis shot is from a tower on an island in Grizzly Hills. Yah, that's right; you recognized it. It's from the Hour of the Worg quest chain. See, ya gotta stop and look around every now and then.

Monday, June 29, 2009


LOL. Another alt, yah, but the thing is... a landscape architect? I love finding these little jokes tucked away in WoW. This one, in case you're interested, is in the garden outside the Ravenholdt castle (home to rogues from both factions, kind of our version of that drood place).

I would also like to point out yet another instance of ... poo. This poo on the snow has no functional value in the game, nor does it make much sense, unless the ogres are now taking doggy dumps in their own yard. I think the guys in the cubicles at Blizzard are getting punchy.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Why I hate Raph Koster's Metaplace

Browser-based Second Life, without the pron. =yawn=

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Herding Cats

10 turned into 7. More boys than girls and I’d have preferred the inverses. The headset screeched and screamed. They all headed off in separate directions. The moment you took to help one was the moment you lost the 6 others.

What World of Warcraft got right Free Realms has gotten wrong. Communication in game is specific and strenuous.  Local, Group and Whisper are segregated in a way that makes it difficult not only to send, but to read.

Why would any community game not invest the most effort in communication? I asked my young friend from last post why she went back to Club Penguin. Her response was that she could talk to people there. Talking is important to her. I think talking is important to all of us. The designers don’t seem to get that.

I ended my session with the squealers and happily so for all of us. They seemed happy to be let loose. I was happy to not be the guy herding cats (as happy as I’ll be to cash the check). There is something wrong about trying to guide someone’s game experience.  It is better to just share tales over a beer . . . so . . . maybe in ten years they can tell me what it meant to them.

. . .

There are mini-games in Free Realms. Last night, all my dreams were based on one of them. I played the mini-game of Penguin Defense for hours. I placed all my defenses and fought off the invaders. Once I won I sought to prefect my defense. At first I could save one fish, but later I was able to save all 15 fish.

Trust me on this . . . the mini-games is the future of MMOGs. First is communication. Second is an efficient time killer. Mini-games kill time with the precisions of a Navy sniper shooting a Somali pirate. Communication is about community, but following that is the need to kill boredom. At least Free Realms does that . . . as the cats scurry about.

. . .

No more from me on this or that until Global Agenda or Star Trek. Until then, I expect that WOW will continue to suck up all the oxygen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My netherdrake, let me show you it.

Hypatie has infected me with pet/mount-itis, a horrible disease in which the infected player obsesses about the acquisition of cool and numerous, preferrably rare, mounts and pets. I spent close to four days (if you totaled the hours) grinding Netherwing faction reputation to get this baby. I picked the green one, not because I like green, but because I've never seen a green one. Everyone picks blue or purple. Yes, I am now grinding another rep. This time it's Orgrimar and Cenarion Expedition. Nothing exotic or rare, but another pet to add to the stable: the brown swift wolf and the CE War Hippogryph.

Now that I'm up on the lore, I'm digging the game even more. Here's a picture of Illidian Stormrage, came to yell at me as part of the Netherwing rep grind. He's a scary bad boy, eh? And now I have so much sympathy for Sylvanas. Man, she really got messed over by Arthas.

Guild life is fun, largely when my fav silly people are on. Otherwise it's a tad annoying with lots of penis comparison disguised as discussions of gear and stats. LOL, jk. sorta. (If the boys read this, which I doubt.) And some of the fun people ARE guys. I'm not THAT gendered. But something does happen when a certain critical mass is online. All the talk turns to comparisons and assertions of expertise. In fact, I have noticed there are occasions where I've turned down a dungeon invite because it is largely comprised of the competitive core.

I've gotten Hells to lvl 74 and am realizing she's pretty fucking powerful, even solo. They must have buffed up the 'locks when I wasn't looking. Tynaqua hit 80, but she's an alt and always scrounging for good gear. I'm guessing she'll have to go the PVP route. =sigh= JBR, you can now, finally, dual spec! And I have a second spec for Fortknight that is frost-tank. I haven't yet had the chance to run with it, but I'm kinda looking forward to it.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Free Realms

I’ve dabbled, but not dedicated much time to any game the last year that couldn’t be utterly consumed and ultimately consigned to personal and not computer memory. I re-explored my first MMOG experience and then moved on to a few other game experiences, but . . . they all seem like low toner Xerox copies of better games and better days regardless of better graphics.

Day one in Free Realms and I’m co-habituating the world with a freshly minted 11 year old girl. She’s impatient. The game is very graphically rich and for all its generous efforts to make it easy it isn’t always. At times it is it feels like the moment in a T.V. game show when the audience is inaudibly screaming suggestions.

Now, I’m hours behind her, though years ahead. Late night and a laptop and dawn came before my young friend knew, but still without a care. She had run the realm and dipped her toe in whatever allowed a toe to be dipped and even dodged school, but . . .

I’m trying to learn the game, but she’s not all that interested in my learning . . . or her own.  She’s mostly run circles around the realm, but has hardly leveled any of her “jobs”. However, she’s a convenient cheat for me.  

Travel is done by running or teleporting, but you can’t teleport to any of the hubs unless you’ve visited the hub unless you happen t have a party member who is someplace.  Then you can ‘port to them.  So, her explorations saved me a lot of my own which we all know will not reward me in the long run.

Anyway, I’m trying to play with my young friend and we’ve run a few of this and that. There are instances and there are races and games and all of it can be shared. You can play chess and checkers and other things with other folks.  There is an virtual card game where you can try to build a deck and compete and apparently there is a physical counterpart where you can build a non-virtual deck.

Suddenly, my young friend goes offline on my friends list in Free realms. I have to find her on gTalk. She informs me she got bored and went back to Club Penguin

That was the most important lesion of day one for me. A game is a game is a game and graphics don’t’ make it any greater. I’ve often raced her on Club Penguin on the snow sleds and I can race her in Free Realms on the go-karts, but . . . Club Penguin for its lack of graphics isn’t really less fun. Maybe its even more fun.

The amazing thing for me is something I can’t express to anyone who isn’t a momentarily  modern gamer. To play a game that is about 75% to 85% as graphically interesting as the first generation of World of Warcraft simply through the browser . . . no ten or twenty discs . . . no Tuesday updates . . . just . . . through the browser is an awe inspiring thing that is nothing less than what my young friend expects.

The difference in awe and expectations makes me wonder what she is experiencing. She says she loves it and wants to keep playing and has already spent over $20 real dollars on dress-up, but . . . she’s still wandering off to Club Penguin.

Free Realms is hardly free. I’m assuming for a child the free version is like giving them their first taste of crack for free or only letting them have only samples at the ice cream shop (I’m not advocating giving children crack - only criminals and liberals).

Free Realms is cynically designed to give the user  a taste and entice.  If you aren’t a member there are places you can’t go and there are things you can’t do and stuff you can’t buy. Also, you level harder and slower.  Best to ask mom and dad for the $4.99 a month and then the credit card for the “Station Cash”.  Kids, remember to memorize the three digit security code on the back of the card.

There was a time when games were for boys. Now, they all seem to be for girls and metrosexual males. It’s a lot about dress up and such. I bought cowboy boots for $250 station cash.  When you do the math that it cost $20 American money for the $2000 station cash then you realize I paid . .  errr . . . $10 u.s. for $1000 sc . . . so . . . $1 u.s. for . . . $100 sc . . . wait . . . I paid $2.50 real money for virtual cowboy boots that I apparently wear in the masculine style of over the boot so you can’t see them? What was I thinking?

In Free Realms you can’t be killed or kill. The only thing you can do is kill time and credit. You can have multiple jobs. You can play or PLAY!!!! It’s a bit of WOW Light with a next generation MMOG style that caters to just keeping folks engaged and online and a bit of Vegas. It’ll cost you to play, but if you’re smart you can at least make the cost worth it to you.  

I am Bob Grayknight . . . for now.

Next week . . . 10 pre-teens and me and Free Realms . . . what could go wrong?

. . .

BTW . . . in game image and video capture. 

BTWW . . . yes, I will have a survey. No, I won't show it to you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Putting the RP back into the MMO

Yah, yah, I haven't written much lately. Doesn't mean I'm not playing hard. Tynaqua is now 80; I've started leveling Hellgrima (she's at 73 now). Fortknight is getting pretty geared from heroics. Life is good.

For some weird reason, perhaps attributable to a bit of withdrawal from Geo Martin's book series, I went looking for Kindle2 versions of Warcraft lore novels. I think these are graphic novels, maybe not. Found many. Decided to start easy (and cheaply) and downloaded Rise of the Horde. Figured I'd learn more about Thrall and the history of the Orcs and Horde, etc. etc.

I've only read about 20% of the book, but already I find myself getting real pleasure from connecting the backstory with the game. It feels weird and, let me dare to say this, it makes the locations and events in the game seem considerably more 'real' to me as a player in their midst. This makes play more enjoyable for me. BGO (blinding glimpse of the obvious), I suppose, but not for the POWER of context, rather for the PLEASURE of it, that is, the pleasure of "knowing things," of being an Azerothian citizen-insider who knows what's going on.

Then I got to wondering about MMO play generally. I mean, hey, wasn't this stuff called MMORPG? It was back when I first got into it in 2005. I mean, it was supposed to be like taking D&D tabletop games online. Where did the RPG go? Is it just too hard to integrate story with play mechanics sufficiently well to satisfy a variety of player types?

I tried LOTRO (Lord of the Rings online), and it was beautiful visually, and had the same level of satifaction as playing with paper dolls. WoW's own Burning Crusade really sucked in large part, imho, because it made so little sense; it was just 'stuff to do.' But I have to say that Wrath of the Lich King has been a considerable improvement, mostly due to the cut scenes and phased play. (Although, good god, Arthas is showing up way too often on tasks that seem rather beneath him, eh? This is a snap of a rooftop fight in which Arthas, the Lich King, drops in to mock the failure of his minion. Shouldn't he be busy elsewhere?

Now it's highly possible I have no fucking idea what I'm talking about. Before WoW my RPG experiences were all in ye olde timey MOO/MUD/MUSH/MUCK worlds, which were often worlds that could be modified by competent players (OOP programmable, or rather, tweakable). And in those worlds, all was text, so story (or more often, "premise") and item/object descriptions were very important. Actions were rather limited.

My 15 year old daughter plays RPGs in online communities where there is NO real game mechanic, just interactive, collaborative, storytelling RP. These communities preset their culture and offer a sort of starter lore, and thereby create some boundaries and constraints on player imagination. But within that bounded space players wield a significant amount of freedom to create narratives, characters, events, and settings. She also plays Warcraft, so she knows both sorts of networked world making and play, and based on time spent, I would she prefers to play on the "RP boards." Yes, RP boards...these communities rely on browser-based forums and webpages (e.g., Yahoo groups or MS groups) to hold their worlds and stories.

I'll probably think about this more as I read and play more. Just wanted to jot this note before I lost the initial thoughts.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Gotta Ride!

Damn this game. Dammit to hell. I'm trying to play and it keeps making new attractive goals for me before I can reach the goals I've already set for myself.

Yah, I just found out that the chopper is not BOP (Bind on Pickup) for engineers. Yeah baby, I can haz chopper! Well, Tigan can make it for me for only a butt load of mats AND about 15,000G. (ZOMG where mai gonna get dat kinda coin?). So glad I didn't sell all those titansteel bars, eternals, and artic furs. At least I have most of the other mats. [In the snap, that's Tigan driving and me in the sidecar.]

But this game does do that. Currently I consider myself to be on a bazillion quests, each with its own cool payoff. Well, I have made some progress. I did get the awesome Kalu'ak Fishing Pole and the penguin pet for being exalted with that faction. I did get the awesome war bear when my guild took out all three kings on the Alliance side; I blogged about that earlier.

In this regard it's a very clever world, not just a game, that Blizz has created. There is so much to do, so many things to go for, I just don't get bored playing. Now some of my guildies, well, about all they do is dungeons/instances or PVP. That would bore me very quickly. I guess to each his own. Interestingly, I'm NOT all about having the best thing or having something FIRST, and fortunately, Warcraft doesn't paint me into that sort of game corner. If they did, I'd have been long gone.

So now I've been "away" from the game for several days and I'm dying to jump in and get clear on what I need to do next, first, etc for my latest obsessions. =choppah= More later; gotta play.