Thursday, July 24, 2014

Videos vs Streaming

Recently, I have had the urge to start making YouTube videos again.  I made quite a few for WAR and a bunch for ESO.  It's time I get back into the habit of making them.  I am going to shoot for one a week, focusing on whatever I happen to be playing.  Currently, that is SWTOR.  So expect a video tomorrow :)

The 'in' thing to do is live stream.  I've dabbled with it in the past but it never really grabbed me.  I love to watch live streams, but it just isn't something I am good at doing myself.  I think you need to be pretty outgoing in order to be engaging enough to keep viewers.  I'm much more reserved and don't really like to put myself out there like that.  Then there is the issue of schedule.  I just don't play long enough during a given session to make it worthwhile.

I don't fault people for live streaming but it is just not a good fit for me.   I'll stick to old fashioned videos.

Want to watch my videos?  You can follow me here.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New ESO Solo Content

Elder Scrolls Online went to QuakeCon this year and held a panel about the future of the game.   They even live-streamed it for everyone to see.  Sadly, I had a prior engagement at an ice cream parlor, so I missed it.  As usual, Dulfy was all over it and posted an excellent recap.  There was a ton of information revealed, enough for multiple posts.  

The biggest news, for me, was that they are working on a new solo PvE zone called Wrothgar!  I have been wondering what kind of additions they are going to do for solo players.  Now we know.  There is no information about who it is intended for, but I imagine it'll be an endgame zone.  It looks to be Orc heavy as it includes their ancestral capital Orsinium.   

I have a long way to go before I'll be able to play the new zone.  However, it is nice to know it'll be there waiting for me.  When?  No one knows yet.  All we really know is that Update 3 will be about guilds.  I'm pretty excited none the less.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting back into SWTOR

Ok, so lately I have been devouring all the information I can about the upcoming Galactic Stronghold expansion.  It looks pretty awesome.  I've already started to think of a theme for my Commando's Nar Shadaa house.  I'm thinking of making it a military base of operations.  The expansion launches next month, so I figure it is just about time to get back into the game.  There are some things I need to do first.

Makeb.  My main has not actually finished Makeb yet.  He is 55, but probably only a little more than 50% done with Makeb. I just was never hooked by the Makeb story line.  Still, it's time I finished it.

Inventory.  One of the awesome 2.9 features is Legacy Storage.  This will make crafting across characters much easier.  So I need to go through my characters and get their inventory squared away.

Gear.  I'd like to get my mains gear up to snuff.  For me, that means the best blue's I can get through crafting.  Purple mod materials are just worth too much for me to use on gear.  Besides, there is no content in the expansion that requires me to have better gear.

Cartel Coins.  I currently have 11.5k worth of Cartel Coins.  A while back, Amazon had a sale on Cartel Coins so I bought one.  Plus, I have stayed subscribed and received my monthly allotment.  I'll be saving them for the Cartel items that come with release of Galactic Strongholds.  Although, I really want a Bantha mount.

Forged Alliances.  I have not experienced the two new Flashpoints which came in 2.7.  It is supposed to start a new story line which continues in 2.9.  I'd like to do them once prior to the release of the next chapter.

Gambling.  Version 2.8 released a casino on Nar Shadaa.  I do like myself a good slot machine, so I want to check out what it's all about.  The Spoils of War event actually lasts until August 19th.  I wonder what happens when it is over? :)

Huttball.  There is a new Huttball arena on Quesh which I have never tried.  There is also a double warzone commendation event going on, so it's a good time to do some PvP.

It is quite a list.  It's almost too daunting to get back into the game.  I have a month until Galactic Strongholds, so I should be able to if I do a little bit at a time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

ESO Update 3

The ESO team has started to talk about their third update.  The big feature of the last update was a 'new' veteran dungeon, the Crypt of Hearts.  Of course, the first update was the Craglorn group zone along with Trials.  I will be looking at this as I always do, from a solo first player perspective.

Guilds.  Guilds seem to be the focus of this patch.  They are getting the ability to design their own heraldry and wear it as a tabard.  I am a part of the guild, so that is pretty neat.  Guild pride!  The other big guild feature is they can hire traders.  These seem to be NPC's which allow players access to their guild store.  There are 122 locations for your guild to bid on.  It should help the economy a bit.

Dyes.  You can now dye your armor.  New dyes can be unlocked via Achievements.

Veteran Ranks.  I have to admit, I am pretty ignorant when it comes to the veteran rank system.  But it looks like ZeniMax will be revamping it.  One of the main changes will be to make it more solo friendly.  I am pretty happy to hear this, as if I ever reach those ranks I will be doing them solo for the most part. This is just the first stage of their changes to the veteran system.  Technically, this should already be in the game, but I'm grouping it with Update 3.

Overall, it seems like a decent update.  I am still waiting on new solo content to be added to the game.  Maybe that will come in update #4.  We won't have to wait long, as ESO seems to crank out the updates at a good pace.

For the full rundown, check out this post:  http://www.elderscrollsonline.com/en-us/news/post/2014/07/08/the-road-ahead---july-8

 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bandwidth

It's going to be a quiet week here at Werit's Blog.  I only have so much mental bandwidth to go around, and this week I am running short.  Sadly, gaming is the first thing pushed aside.  Work has been taking up most of my mental bandwidth the last couple of weeks.  That is good though, doing some interesting stuff there.

I have made some time to play though.  My game of choice has been Europa Universalis 4: Wealth of Nations.  I started a game as Portugal, and have been spending my time colonizing Africa and the New World.  I forget how much fun strategy games can be.  It's really getting back to my gaming roots, long before MMO's came around.

My near future gaming plans include more EU4, ESO, and using my WildStar guest pass.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Was WAR doomed from the start?

Doomed is a strong word, of course.  The game had a good run and ranks among my favorites of all time.  However, it did have problems which were never really solved and contributed to it not being around today.  Certain design decisions were made during its development which the developers spent the next five years trying to work around.

I am mainly talking about the campaign system.  The basic idea was that realms would lock zones, breach fortresses, and then invade the enemies city.  Sounds cool right?  Well, it never really worked out that way.  It was, of course, more complex than what I wrote.  For example, lower level zones contributed to the Tier 4 zone scores and such.  The best gear was also only available in the opposing realms city.  This was eventually changed so defenders also had a chance to get gear.

One of the original issues was that it was very hard to actually get to the opposing city.  On an evenly matched server, you would expect that it would rarely happen.  That meant no one could really progress their character as the campaign was in perpetual limbo.  Also, due to the way the mechanics worked, by not showing up to defend it actually made it extremely difficult to  lock a zone.

Mythic spent a lot of time trying to fix the campaign situation.  They eventually changed the ways zones locked and the whole city itself.  Players got rewarded for attacking and defending the cities.  That just led to defenders letting the enemy get to their city so they could get a shot at the rewards.

I was never a big fan of the cities or the campaign.  I much preferred the struggle in particular zones where actual fighting happened.

Imagine if the end-game content worked from the start, and all the time they could have spent on expanding the game instead of trying to fix it.   But the design of the campaign system was something I think held the game back from the get go.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Housing is not enough

I talked last week about SWTOR's housing addition: Galactic Strongholds.  It's a very neat expansion that adds almost free-form housing/decorating to the game.  Guilds too get to join in on the fun with their own spaces to decorate.

I really like this feature, but it alone won't keep me in the game.  Sure, I'll mess around with it and see what it is all about.  I don't see it driving me to play the game though.  Some people enjoy decorating for decorating sake.  Not me, I value functionality much more than aesthetics.

In SWG, I loved housing.  That was mainly due to all the functionality it added to the game.  You could house your vendors there, storage containers, the biological device things, and display nearly every item in the game.  The vendor piece was key though.  That brought people into my house and me into theirs.

I don't see myself running old content, achievement hunting, or doing reputations just to get access to decorations.  I find that to be pretty tedious.  I'm much more likely to go the crafting route instead.  Of course, who knows how much of the decorations will be craftable.  They have to distribute them out to all of the different gameplay types.

So beyond checking out my Nar Shadaa pad and seeing what decorations I can craft, I just don't think housing will get me to play the game regularly.  In fact, I may cancel my subscription if they don't announce new story content soon after.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Warlords of Draenor Beta Key Giveaway

The fine folks over at WoW Stratics have a beta key for Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion to givewaway.  They will be giving it away on Monday, July 14th.  For your chance, just head on over here and use the Sites with Benefits widget.  If you are not sure how to use it, they made a spiffy video guide.  Do as many, or as few, of the missions as you like!

If you want to use Sites with Benefits for your own promotion/giveaway, let me know and I'll get you all setup.  It is free to use and supports a lot of different missions for your users.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

SWTOR Housing Impresses

Yesterday, the team at BioWare released their first dev blog about the upcoming housing expansion called Galactic Strongholds.  They go into details about how their housing will work.  It's just the start of their information cycle, so not everything is known yet.


They also finally revealed the most important aspect of player housing, how decoration is done.  Sadly, it will not be free-form like SWG, EQ2, or WildStar.  Instead it uses hooks, but it is not as restrictive as it sounds.  Check out the nice graphic below.




If it is not showing up, you can check it out on the dev blog page.  It shows a pretty flexible hook system.  There also seems to be quite a lot of hooks to go around.  You can even adjust the size of hooks and have overlap.  I'm looking forward to seeing how much can be done with it.  I was never as wildly creative as some folks though.

Want even more information?  Dulfy posted a Q&A from the Galactic Living livestream.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Creating Planets

The next stage of Project Venice is to introduce the graphical element.  I'll be using Unity and their web client to do this.  I want players to be able to see the game world and Unity makes this easy.  It'll be an isometric view of the solar system.  Nothing too complex to start with.

I will be using Socket.io to populate the Unity web client with data.  This type of connection is open to everyone, so conceivably players could look at the game world without ever having to log in.  I'll have to look into that idea later on.

On the Unity side,  I am using UnitySocketIO, which provides a nice easy to use interface.  When the client starts up, it requests the data for the current star system.  The server grabs it from the database, as a JSON string, and sends it down to the client.  The client then renders the planets based on the data.

To make the planets I am using a Unity store asset called Perlin Planets.  It allows for the random generation of planets based on a seed value and some other options.  The long term goal of Project Venice is to have an explorable galaxy, so being able to generate planets in a procedural way is very important.  For the prototype, there will only be a few planets though.

One challenge I came across during implementation was that the UnitySocketIO library actually operates in a separate thread.  Unity is not multi-threaded, so I can not interact with it from an outside thread.  So when I receive data from the server, I can't just create the Unity objects.

To get around this, I put in a simple job system.  The SocketIO side will queue up a job to create a planet, then the main Unity thread will pull it off the queue and do it.  In my limited tests it seems to work fine.  We will see if it scales up once I start adding starships to the mix.