Now that I finally got off my butt and purchased my own webspace, I’ve migrated this blog over to it as well. You’ll find the same lack of posts over here. I’ll probably delete this blog within the next few months, so check me out over there. See ya!
From the LotRO private beta sign-up FAQ:
Q: Why should I bother with Palantir? I’ve been on Bullroarer and other Turbine Beta programs – I’ve filed bugs and offered feedback and nothing was done. Clearly no one listens – it’s just a huge waste of time.
A: This is one of those questions that is difficult to answer because we can’t tell you the ins and outs of how things are prioritized or addressed here. All we can tell you is this program works – we’ve seen it work – and while it may not seem like it on the outside, all decisions are made with the best intentions for the game in mind.
Not all bugs you report will be fixed before the patch goes to Live. Not all feedback that you offer will be acted upon or implemented. However, this does not mean any of it is ignored or considered a waste. We have a schedule, we have to prioritize. Sometimes we make the right decisions, sometimes we don’t. But we all have the same goal – to make LOTRO the superior experience it deserves to be.
I’m mostly posting this so I can refer back to it someday. But seriously? That is an excellent response. No messing around, just address the concern straight on without any sugarcoating.
Thought I’d post some screens of the Cataclysm starting zones. I have to say, each expansion makes it more difficult to go back to older ones and play them. Leveling has been so well smoothed in Cataclysm that heading back to WoW has been painful. In the meantime, enjoy!
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first: I have a job! Can’t spill any details beyond that just yet, but it’s nice to say out loud. And hopefully you’ll be excited when you discover what betas I can get you access to. Onto more relevant (and less secret) things.
PAX East! My very first pure video game convention was a great success. Not only did I avoid contracting any form of plague, but I also got to meet up with a ton of awesome Internet friends who I’ve known for a while. I spent a great deal of time with my good friend who runs Bioware Quest, which I highly recommend you check out and support. I also got to meet up one night with the Community Managers from the industry, including folks from SOE, Turbine, Perfect World, CCP, and Red 5. I even got to meet the Massively team, whom I love ever so much. But enough about the social stuff, let’s talk about the games.
I can honestly say that I did not play one bad game the whole convention. Was that because I avoided games I thought wouldn’t be good? Not intentionally, at least. And I was pleasantly surprised with everything I played. Let’s break it down:
APB: This game is GTA IV: MMO Edition. What that means is that if you enjoyed GTA IV (as I did), you will love this MMO (as I do). Choose a side (Enforcers or Criminals), and start doing missions to raise your rep with that faction. Then, while you’re doing missions, the other side will be alerted as to your attempts to complete it, and will be offered the chance to take you down. Suddenly, you’re teamed up with a handful of folks on your side, and you’re stealing a car and piling into it in order to destroy the other team and prevent them from reaching their goals. There’s no “PvE vs. PvP” argument in this game. If you’re playing, you’re aware that the other side is out to get you. Though I don’t understand the restrictions, I did notice that you couldn’t always attack the opposing team while wandering the city. Maybe you have to catch them doing something wrong? Not clear yet. The vehicles handle a little strangely, but the overarching concept of the game is awesome. I can’t wait to play beta.
Splinter Cell: Conviction: I loved the demo on my 360, and they were showing off the co-op mode. It was difficult to play, mostly because it was hard to hear my partner in the loud expo hall, but the gameplay seemed solid. I was so impressed with the home demo that I’ll still give it a shot.
Crackdown 2: I wasn’t going to wait in line for this, but I glanced over the shoulders of some people playing it. Multiplayer in the Crackdown universe? Sounds like fun.
Monday Night Combat: Watched my friends play this. At first glance, it’s a TF2 clone. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a tower defense game, it’s a game with loads of strategy, and a game that requires you to actually strategize with your team. The classes, while very similar to TF2, are distinct enough that it’s fun. Plus, as you collect money in a match, you level up your character and his skills, making him better. Player progression = more engaging.
Prince of Persia: Again, I didn’t get to play this, but I watched for a bit. Looks like they went back to their roots a bit (in the Sands of Time direction). Lots of parkour going on, lots of fighting. One awesome thing? The Prince is swinging around a pole (like he does). Behind him, a waterfall. He flips off the pole and through the waterfall to land on the other side. Now he goes back to the pole, and before leaping this time, he freezes time. Leaps off the pole, rebounds OFF THE WATERFALL and onto a higher pole above him. Whoa.
Slam Bolt Scrappers: Think Tetris plus Tower Defense plus fighting game. This game was part of the Indie Showcase, and I wanted to go back multiple times to play it again. It’s a 2v2 game, where you attack monsters flying in the air who then drop tetris block. You drop those blocks on your tower to match up colors in order to build weapons, which then attack your opponent’s tower. First to destroy a specific gold block on the other team’s tower wins. It was chaos of the utmost fun. I will definitely buy this game.
Red Dead Redemption: First, I am ashamed to admit that I waited two hours in line to play this. It’s not like I was even that excited to play it. I was just hanging with my friends and before I knew it, we had waited two hours for it. The game is GTA IV in the Wild West. It’s even got the same UI, same controls, etc. This is not a bad thing, however, because without the development time necessary to create an engine, Rockstar’s been able to focus on the fun parts of the game. Lasso yourself a horse! Tie up a random dude and put him on the back of your horse! Kill a coyote and skin him! Rob a stagecoach! The gameplay is easy to master if you’ve played GTA for an extended period of time, and I think there’s definitely a need for a good Western game in the market right now. I really hope they release a demo.
Finally, I’d like to report on my total haul for the weekend. Bear in mind the cost of this trip for me was about $300 total. ($45 for a 3-day pass, plus $200 for plane tickets, plus somewhere between $50-$100 for food).
- $100 gift certificate to Jinx, courtesy of Tritton Technologies
- Free copy of LOTRO Collector’s Edition ($30 value)
- Free copy of Unreal Tournament 3, courtesy of Intel ($30 value)
- Free signed hat from the folks at Rooster Teeth ($20 value)
- Networking with other industry folks (Priceless)
I think I made out pretty well. That’s over half the value of my trip in swag.
And that’s that. Next convention? Don’t know. Hopefully this new job sends me to all of them, in which case I guess the next one would be E3? That’d be amazing.
Oh, and PS. Major Nelson is actually pretty short in real life. Wasn’t expecting that.
Visiting the other side of the country means I struggle to survive without my DVR. I’ve been trying to keep up with my favorite television shows, but I now have so many that I forget what they are. Here’s what I’ve been watching/playing this week:
Battlestar Galactica – I’ve got 4 episodes left of the entire series. Can’t wait to finish it.
Dexter – Started watching Season 3. Why is this show SO GOOD?!
Psych – Season 4 wrapped up this week. I’m an episode behind, but excited to finish it. What a fun show!
Lost – Don’t get me started talking about this show, or I’ll never stop. Ask me when it’s all over if it was worth it (Hint: It was).
Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks – This game is frustrating beyond belief, but I’ve got to finish it, because hey, it’s a Zelda game. But damn do I have an unfair hatred for trains now.
Elite Beat Agents – Old DS game that I can’t ever put down. The song selection is great, and I just seriously enjoy restarting and playing it through over and over again.
Things I will be playing next week:
Blur Multiplayer – Got me a beta code, can’t wait to try it.
Unnamed Beta – Rest assured, this game is one of the best MMO’s I’ve ever played. I want to talk about it so badly.
Bioshock 2 – Yet again, I got part of the plot spoiled for me, but now I need to keep playing through to learn the rest.
World of Warcraft – The two week break from the game has been nice for me, but I’m excited to get back in and continue gearing up. I think I’m geared up enough to start running some ICC, which should be really cool.
I guess I’m the only one who doesn’t already know who Derek Smart is. But the best part is that it doesn’t matter. Within a few hours of taking over Alganon’s development, he already posted what I believe to be the Best Post of 2010. Yup, I’m calling it right here, in mid-March.
The post seems to have edited out some of my favorite parts of it from last night, but there’s still plenty to enjoy:
“Dave Allen didn’t “depart”. I fired him back in February for insurbordination and for acting against the best interests of the company, the LLC investors (who I represent), the game and the team.”
“The average gamer is as finnicky as a hummingbird on acid”
“My community sticks with my games because I’ve always stayed focused on the people who actually buy and play my games. Those are the people who I have catered to. QOL is going to focus on the community that buys and plays Alganon. If you don’t like Alganon the game for what it is and not what you want it to be, fine, don’t play it, don’t come here, go and play something else. No hard feelings.”
Derek’s posting style is totally a nightmare for any Marketing/PR person at Quest Online, and especially tough for any Community people they have over there. For now, the community seems like they’re frolicking around hand-in-hand with Derek and are happy as can be that he’s taken over, the honeymoon is not going to last long. He tends to intentionally infuriate people who are being rude, and guess what? Those people make up a good percentage of your community.
Even though right now the community likes seeing someone with a strong fist come crashing into their party to shed some light on the situation (that was going to be a metaphor but sort of died a quarter of the way into the sentence), my guess is that soon he’ll start rubbing them the wrong way, and we’ll see a bit of friction between the players and the development team. Or, more specifically, Derek Smart.
I’m a sucker for good deals. And every time MacHeist comes around, I almost inevitably jump on it. This time, being unemployed, I figured it was best to be hold off and not spend any unnecessary money. Until I saw that the $20 deal included 10 apps, one of which was all five episodes of Tales of Monkey Island. And not only that, but it includes both Windows and Mac versions too (since I can’t run it on my Macbook).
So, one of the apps it came with is called “MacJournal”. It lets you write blog posts and whatnot on your computer, then one-click publishes them to the Interwebs. So if you’re reading this, it means the app works, and I have a new toy to play with. Joy!