Friday, July 16, 2004

Dark Age of Camelot - Revisited!

Well - this is a long-promised post - I've been meaning to write up my thoughts on Camelot since I got back into in a few week ago but I never got around to it until now!

Where to start.... Well, how about a little back-history.

My history with Camelot
Well I started on Camelot in early 2002, on the European servers with some old friends. I had a good time for a month or two, but the time-zone difference really killed my interest in the end, as I was barely ever able to GROUP with my Euro friends - by the time I was logging on they were logging off! There was also the inevitable catch-up period - since they had started before me they were a few levels ahead of me - and I wasn't too quick at levelling in Camelot then - I've since learnt a few tricks!

Fast-forward to 6 months later - my interest in EQ was waning, so I decided on a whim, since I had an untouched Camelot US key (Bought to get the software so I could just get a key from my friends for the Euro servers), that I would give it a try. Since I had been on Albion previously, I decided to give Midgard a try, on one of the Roleplaying servers (Percival). This turned out to be a GREAT choice, as the community wasn't TOO old, though they were, on a whole, a lot more mature than the Euro servers (Everyone calls each other 'M8' on there - I'm a bit of a purist when on a Fantasy game and this was VERY off-putting!) - plus there was a much lower percentage of people with silly names. It added a LOT to the atmosphere of the game! I had a blast role-playing with people, and even formed a small guild, every so briefly, before deciding being a guild-leader was too much work! It all changed, however, when I grouped with a couple of people who I still know to this day. They invited me to join them in their guild on Guinevere, in Hibernia - which was also another Roleplaying server. Guinevere has been my home ever since, give or take a few forays back to Midgard and Albion.

It took me a while to get to 50 - in between of which I had a break or two from Camelot. I was VERY satisfied when I finally made it though!

But to get back to the present: I had been gone from Camelot for about 6 months - the RvR situation just really made me sick - too many Elite Gank Guilds running around, and running into a Zerg when you're in a single group isnt much fun either! I had always intended to come back when New Frontiers was released - so a few weeks ago, even though I'd been enjoying myself in PlanetSide, I re-upped to Camelot to give it a try!

End-Game RvR
Well - the experience in RvR certainly has taken on a different feel - the lay of the land is much more strategic, with choke points etc. It offers a lot of opportunity for tactics and strategy. However, generally the only people who get to do that are the leaders of the Zerg. Which is where the game has headed - if you're not in a Zerg, by and large, you're out of luck. The game has gone from 90% Gank Group vs Gank Group to about 10%, with the rest taken up by Zergs and Keep Taking. Holding keeps is much more worthy for your guild now - you get extra exp, extra money no matter WHERE you are hunting, and other bonuses too. Also - the more your REALM holds, the better the bonuses. But - I'm sorry to say - Keep taking is pretty dull for me at least - once you've taken a few towers and a keep with a decent-sized Zerg - bleh! Plus - this has made playing a melee character pretty tough in the game - if you're not a stealther/ranged caster you're out of luck. You spend a lot of time defending keeps and you get to twiddle your thumbs if you're a melee person. I've seen more than a few of my friends rolling up stealther/casters to play in RvR (Me included!) - though to their credit Mythic are trying to address this.

Also - more so than ever you need to have a 'Template' set out to be really effective in RvR. Its not good enough to just be level 50 and have your Epic Armor and a decent weapon. You NEED SpellCrafted armor, and a couple of Artifacts levelled to 10, as well as some decent other things. Higher level Master Levels are also highly encouraged for some of their more useful abilities. So much for Trials of Atlantis not affecting RvR! For me, currently, thats keeping me busy in PvE - I need to get enough money to BUY all that stuff!

Realm Abilities
The new realm abilities system - in my opinion at least - is very good! It seems to be a much more balanced system now - to get the very top-level abilities people have to commit a LOT more of their points to get them - but the good news is that lower level RR people like me can at least get a version of things like Purge for fairly cheap, instead of not being able to afford it at all! Overall - a great rewrite I think.

An interesting addition to the game was low-level battlegrounds, so even a brand new newbie at level 1 can get a glimpse into RvR - and they can even level up from 1 to 44 in the Battlegrounds as the XP awards for an RvR kill were increased by 8 times - making a good kill worth as much if not more than a similar PvE kill! As far as I have seen the low-level BGs are still slow in getting interest - though that seems to be changing. Time will tell on that score!

In conclusion, I think that New Frontiers was a good start for the basis of the future of the game - but it still needs tweaking. Its not enough to keep me in the game - but I also have my Guild on there which is doing a lot more events etc nowadays so I'm having a blast hanging out with them. Community and friends, in the end, is why I play Multiplayer games!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

City of Heroes - My Impressions

Well, I have been in the City of Heroes beta since last Friday, and now that the NDA has been lifted, I felt I had to express my opinions on it.

The game is FUN. It has the best newbie experience I've had in probably any MMOG. So far I've played 3 characters, got 2 of them to level 6 and had a BLAST doing it.

Rather than give an outline of the major gameplay features (Which you can find on most gaming websites) I decided to outline my favourite parts of the game that add that much extra to it:

  • The scale of the city. The buildings and statues are MASSIVE, and climbing up fire escapes/flying up to the top and then jumping from rooftop to rooftop is SO much like a superhero its great!
  • The variety of powers and their effects. There are so many choices you can make with your characters and each power effect stands on its own and looks GREAT - even the newbie powers aren't wimpy/crap effects - they look like real super-hero powers and they level up in power as you go.
  • The missions. The missions just seem right - you get a chain of missions from your first contact - each leads on from the other, and the mission plots are very well written. My first plotline was to investigate a street gang who had been acquiring Mystical artifacts and find out what the deal was with that. Each origin has a separate contact which has their own agendas for missions.
  • Jumping - this may seem trivial to some but just being able to JUMP is an awesome feature. Not even a wimpy jump like EQ/DAoC - a 'jump over cars/walls' kinda jump. Very nice - and you can buy powers to make you be able to leap much higher also!
  • Feeling like a hero - Even at level 1 on all of my heroes so far, I feel as if I can wade into a small gang of street thugs trying to mug people and take them ALL on - don't even need to pull them one by one, just wade in! Very much like a comic book hero would do!
  • The sidekick system - whilst I haven't tried it personally yet all that I have read about this makes it seem like a great advancement in MMOGs - the ability to 'level up' your friend to almost your level so they can participate in your adventures sorts out one of my biggest pet peeves with MMOGs - that of trying to grind to keep up with my friends who have more time than me.
  • The character customization - I have yet to see two similar/same costumes on characters - it beats everything that has came before, even SWG. And its only going to get better as they add more post-launch - including capes sooner or later!

I'm still going to be playing right up to Beta ends so if I come up with more thoughts I'll add them. My philosophy with this Beta is I'm going to try as many of the basic character types as possible to see which one I like best - I'm NOT planning on levelling any character too high as i know I'm going to have to do it all over again in 10 days time - and I want to have a bunch of new content to experience when I level up after launch :)

I'll definitely be buying this - going to reserve my copy soon :)

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

EverQuest 2 Preview

All I can say is - wow. Full-size the video-interview - a little grainy but looks VERY nice. We shall see how it turns out :)

'M' Rated MMOGs

Just posted a forum topic about this on Grimwell.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Decision time.....


Well - I went ahead on Friday and bought Lost Dungeons of Norrath as everyone in EQ was raving about it. I bought it at Best Buy and brought it home, opened it up and it had a neat looking free keychain as well as a nice in-game backpack to claim when I got in-game. A good start I thought!
So I went to ButcherBlock, which is where one of the 'Adventure Camps' to get an LDoN adventure is situated. After a good 45 minutes, I got into a group, and we ran a couple of adventures. They went pretty good - we completed them both within time - though they were easy ones. I ran a difficult one with a different group the next morning - we failed it by not much but took a longer time overall to get it all sorted out in the end...

OK - I basically logged out of my Bard then and havent logged him back in since - heres my quandary - I'm not sure if I want to spend my EQ leveling time in LDoN. I came to the same conclusion (I think) that I came to with SWG's zones - I HATE generic. Unfortunately, this seems to be the way EQ has gone with this - and I don't like it - it goes against most of the things I liked about EQ in the first place - thoughtful, creative zones that were neat to explore. The LDoN zones I tried so far seemed incredibly generic and pretty much sucked, as random mobs of around our level were thrown at us. It also seems that most of the zones I used to spend my time in back in the old days are ghost towns now - basically most of the population are running instanced content. AO was the same when I played it - instanced missions got OLD real quick.

Not sure what I'm going to do.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Random thoughts on game demos

Well I had some time to kill a couple of nights ago so I started off some demos downloaded from fileplanet - One for Sacred, which is the latest attempt to advance the Diablo-style Action RPG, and the demo for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow - a highly anticipated (and just released) sequel to a pretty big hit.

Sacred was OK - it had a few neat features on top of the hack n slash of Diablo 2, in that you could create combos of attacks to bind to your left/right mouse button, and the characters seemed pretty original too. It has a largely freeform world which you can wander around and do quests until you feel like advancing the plot further. I doubt I will buy it though - I'm pretty much done with Diablo etc - they're just not my idea of fun anymore!

Pandora Tomorrow
This demo was pretty good FUN! I tried the original Splinter Cell demo but it didnt seem to work right on my system so I gave up on it. The demo level is set on a train where you have to rescue another agent-type from some goons - lots of stealth-em-up involved as if you get spotted by the bad guys the mission is over! The graphics and visuals were absolutely excellent - at one point I was hanging onto the outside rail of the train when another train came rushing past going the other direction - was very impressive! I still haven't finished the demo as it is a little tough but I'll get back to it! Don't think I'll buy this either but then I hardly buy games anymore anyway!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The Heroism of a City full of Heroes

On a recently, rather long thread on Grimwell, the conversation recently turned towards the nature of Heroism in MMOGs. Something I hadn't really thought about all THAT much before was that there really isnt THAT much Heroism in your standard Hack and Slash MMOGs out there - the game mechanics are biased against Heroic attacks in general (You generally don't even THINK about taking on something higher con than you). From some of the things that were said on there, City of Heroes promises to offer a VERY different experience - in that your average hero can feel confident in jumping into the fray and taking on multiple, even opponents with a good change of winning - just the kind of thing a Comic Book Hero would do! Haven't really paid THAT close attention to CoH over the time its been in development - mostly because I have been a comic book fan in my time and I wasnt sure how 'pure' it would stick to the feel of a comic book - EQ with Super Heroes would quite frankly SUCK. I may just have to pay some more attention now - as its getting released in a month!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Meanwhile, back in Crushbone...

Well now, EQ has been keeping me very occupied over the last couple of nights!

I am having a very good time - met a bunch of nice folk in my new guild, the Silver Phoenix Alliance - I definitely feel at home there already!

I had a grand old time in Crushbone last night - one of my favourite low-level haunts! After a few mishaps and deaths, I got in a really good group and we stayed in the Throne Room for a few hours - and I made 3 levels up to level 13 from it! Well worth the few deaths I think!
I'm enjoying playing a Bard more now - it was a little frustrating earlier, being a clueless newbie bard and all - but now I've gotten up in power a little, its becoming much easier. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Opinions on Ashen Empires

Well another game I neglected to mention in my previous post that I tried (briefly) was Ashen Empires (the game formerly known as Dransik). From the couple of days that I played it - the game is basically pretty similar to Ultima Online - same 2.5D isometric interface, similar trade-skilling systems, similar weapons skills. They have levels also in Ashen Empires though - which primarly controls how many HP you get. It was alright I guess - I've never really gotten into UO in the couple of times I've tried it - the skill-based grinding as opposed to exp grinding wasnt to my taste - and AE pretty much gave me the same sense. I didn't try the magic system but from what I could tell it had a similar reagent system - not sure on the exact mechanics of it though!

If you like UO - I would say its pretty well worth at least the free trial - the company behind Dransik were recently bought out by another - and the new company is providing a lot of resources into the game (They were getting ready to publish a pretty big update when I got off the game - just before the free beta ended!)

Monday, March 22, 2004

Something tells me I need an alarm clock to keep updating this!

Well since more of my friends (here, and here) are doing blogs - I decided to try and get back into writing this.

Not that I think many people actually READ it - but then I don't LINK to it anywhere - might be worth actually putting some content IN if I'm going to link to it!

Well - judging by my last post its been a couple of months since I updated this. Here's what I've been up to since then:

  • Quit SWG - money was getting to me and I didn't feel like I could afford the expense of 2 accounts so I quit.

  • Cancelled XBox Live - the free 2 months was nice and all but I wasnt prepared to pay for a service I (a) hardly used, and (b) didn't offer that much of a service
    for me to start with!

  • Started playing DAoC Europe with some old friends from back home in the good ol' UK - they have a spare account which they are letting me co-habit on so I'm getting to play free - enjoying it for the most part so far - I have a level 20 Reaver I've levelled up from scratch which I'm doing well with!

  • A few days ago I found out SOE were re-activating all cancelled accounts on EQ which were in good standing until April 15th - which is basically a full month free - I found the combination of EQ and free too hard to resist - so I am now on the BristleBane server after the recommendation of my buddy Darniaq - and I have a level 10 Bard there! Enjoying it so far but its tough going really :)

Thats pretty much it really - still posting to's forums and mostly back in lurker mode on WaterThread - less likely to get flamed on Grimwell really :)

Well - I shall try and keep this updated more often!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

My ever-changing game habits

Well things have changed a little since my last posting-flurry in December - I have now quit DAoC - I wasn't playing it much so I didn't want to pay for it - thus ending probably one of my longest Subscriptions to a MMOG yet (18ish months). Oh well - I miss my level 50 on there but not that much - and its not as if I can't get him back whenever I want!
I also cancelled FFXI - the game just didn't hook me like it did a few of my friends...

For a while there I was mainly playing offline games with a little SWG mixed in - I got sucked into Knights of the Old Republic - which I just finished a couple of nights ago - VERY entertaining. I also got my XBox hooked up to XBox live - the jury is still out on that - I think it has some neat features implemented in Project Gotham Racing 2 - just not sure if I'm going to be willing to fork out the cash for a subscription after the 2 month free period is over.

Pretty recently I've gotten back into SWG more seriously, and a week ago I decided to get EVE, based on a long serious of posts on Waterthread. I'll be posting about my initial experiences on that later :)

Dave 'Mahrin Skel' Rickey leaving Wish

This was posted on Wish's main site a couple of weeks ago.

My interest in this game pretty much started when Dave signed on - I have followed his work since his DAoC days - his column on
Skotos was always a really good read, as was his blog (I've forgotten the URL for it).

He had a bunch of good ideas that he was going to integrate into Wish - not the least of which was one that interests me greatly - that of being able to cater to casual gamers better than the usual treadmill does (The short of it was to have Wish as a Skill-based game and let players be able to develop their character to the top of individual Skills in the space of a few weeks - the powergamers would have many skills maxed but the casuals could still be competitive in certain areas). I'm not sure how much of what he was designing will make it into the game - but judging from what little has been said about the beta - next to none of it had been implemented at that stage - and I'm not sure if they will use ANY of it. I'm not really interested in Wish anymore - so hence its off my list of Games...Oh well!

*Edit Jan 14 10:30 PM* I just got accepted into the Wish Beta - downloading the client now - From said reasons above I'm not expecting a whole bunch from it - but it'll certainly give more writing material for here!

Better late than never...

Well - its been like over a month since I last posted - between one thing or another I just haven't had the time to write anything even though there a few events that occurred that I at least thought about writing on - those included:

  • Dave 'Mahrin Skel' Rickey leaving Wish

  • My ever-changing game habits (See the sidebar on the right!)

  • Themis Group taking on a known power-levelling/in-game item selling site as a client

I'm going to try and write up posts on some of this stuff to at least express my opinions on them - watch this space! (If anyone is actually watching this space!)