Friday, June 29, 2012

The Plan

Early access for The Secret World begins today!  The launch of a new MMO is a fun time, despite all of the likely issues.  I have not exactly been fawning all over TSW, but it should be an interesting game.  So here is my plan.

Faction.  I will be rolling a Templar.  The Illuminati is nice and all, but I'm in the mood for some righteous fury.

Dimension.  A dimension is TSW's version of a shard, but it is not a server.  It's basically a big instance of the game world which allows you to change on the fly.  So I have not really given it any thought.  I'll probably just roll on a PvE dimension.

Cabal.  This is their version of a guild.  I have no plans on joining one at the moment.  I'm not sure  I will stick with TSW, so I am not comfortable putting down any roots.

Weapon of Choice.  Just like in beta, I will be going with an Assault Rifle.  No particular reason except that it is a machine gun and feeds into my Commando fantasy.

PvP.  I might be checking out the PvP areas.  I am pretty sure they have a Bolster mechanic which helps us slow advancers at least compete.

That about covers my thoughts going into The Secret World.  This weekend will be a busy one for me, so I'm not sure how much time I'll actually get to play.  Probably better off that way as we know how these launches can go.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bonus Calendar

One of the neat new features introduced into Wrath of Heroes is the Bonus Calendar.  Recently, Mythic started to add rewards for logging in on certain days.  You can pick up potions, wooden chests and even Ornate Chests just by logging in!  That's right, free Elite Tactics.

I still want to see the chests removed all together so we can just purchase tactics individually, but this is nice too.  The Bonus Spinner is still there as well, except now you don't reset to a single spinner if you miss a day.  You just lose one.

I would like to see their special events added to the Calendar as well.  For example, Friday they will be holding a Play against the Devs session.  Would be nice to see it listed on there.  Hopefully they can do that while still having it look pretty good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dev Spy Improvements

Dev Spy is an aggregation tool for developer posts and other MMO information from a number of games.  It is web based and features live updating so new results arrive without having to refresh.  I use it quite a bit as it saves time checking all of the different websites.

Since I announced the site a couple of weeks ago, I have made several improvements.

More Games.  It now also tracks: City of Heroes, League of Legends, Rift, and World of Warcraft

Customize. Don't care about some games?  You can now filter them out.  Certain games, like League of Legends, have very chatty developers.  With the filter, you can choose to hide those posts.  Your settings can also be saved, via cookie, so the next time you visit it will still be hidden.

Comments.  I added a comment section where problems/suggestions can be reported.

What's Next.  More games, of course.  I also want to add Twitter/Facebook/YouTube posts along with filters for each.  Is there anything you want to see?

You can find Dev Spy at:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Secret World Impressions

After a mini-vacation, I'm back to my normal routine.  It seems that while I was gone, The Secret World NDA came down.  For the past few months, I have been a part of the closed beta.  That's not to say I know much about the game.  There has just been too many other games to play that I never really had too much time for TSW.

I do have some thoughts on what I saw though...

[+] Setting.  The TSW setting is what really keeps me interested in the game.  It's nice to see some modern locales and equipment.  The subject matter is also (mostly) new.  The folks at Funcom have definitely made a world that I want to play in.

[-] Enemies.  I did not get very far into the game, but all I really fought against were zombies.  I hate zombies as enemies, they are just so boring.  'Grrrr, I want to eat you' is not a very interesting motive.  They are just over done.  I'm sure there will be 'smarter zombies' later on in the game.

[+] Skills.  TSW eschews the standard leveling system for a skill wheel.  It is pretty big and reminds me of a pie.  You can go down whichever slice you want, which adds the appearance of freedom.  I chose Assault Rifles, because it gives you a machine gun!  Finally, a machine gun in a MMO.

[-] Skills.  It could be I have a poor understanding of the Skill Pie, as I did not make it very deep.  But it actually felt pretty limiting.  A good amount of the skills are either tied to a particular weapon type or the 'builder' for that weapon type.  So I can't just choose any skill from Pistols and another from Blood Magic, because the latter has a requirement.

Not all skills have these requirements, but it seemed like a lot did at least at the base skills.  Sure, you can switch weapons/equipment but I was hoping to make a custom build without item swapping.  We'll see how it goes though.

[+] PvP.  It's 3 factions and takes place in large zones.  The zones themselves were mostly empty with capturable objectives/spawn points.  There is a main objective with a boss to defeat.  Winning side gets a global buff. Standard stuff.

[-] PvP.  There were 3 zones for PvP when I tested the game.  That means it might be very easy for players to actually avoid fighting each other and just play ring-around-the-objective.  I never saw more than a couple enemies, so I could not get a feel for how large scale combat will actually work.

I'll play the game for my free month.  If it grabs me I'll subscribe.  If it doesn't, I will not.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Champion Help

As I wrote about earlier this week, I am thinking about trying out ranked matches in League of Legends.  Before I do that, I need to get myself prepared.  My main focus is becoming at least functional in roles other than support.  What better place to start that process than finding some champions to play?

I'm mostly interested in playing support, so I'm looking for champions that are low risk.  I don't really want to dominate the game, nor do I want to lose it for my team.  Maybe someday, but this is just to not be completely useless.  I figure two champions per role is a good starting point.

Top. Yorick (owned), ????

AP.  Malzahar (owned), ????

Jungle.  No idea.  I own Fiddlesticks, so he might work.

AD.  Miss Fortune was fun. Who else?

Support:  I'm all set.

Anyone have ideas of some simple champs to fill out my roster?  Time is a limited commodity, so I can't really by competent at a lot of champions.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gods and Kings

Yesterday, the new expansion pack for Civilization 5 came out:  Gods and Kings.  I had to have it of course and Steam was happy to download it while I worked.  As soon as I was finished, I started up a new game.  As expected, time flew and it was a lot of fun.

Dutch.  I decided to go with the Netherlands as my civ since they are new.  They have a nice bonus which gives you 2 happiness even if you trade away the last of a particular luxury resource.  If I have 1 Silver left, I can trade it for another resources and get 6 happiness instead of just 4.  They also have a special boat and tile improvement, which I have not seen yet.

I've always liked playing the Netherlands ever since Colonization.  I guess it's their general focus on trading which appeals to me.  In this game I am going for an economic focus as well.

Religion.  As the title suggests, Religion is one of the newly added systems.  It takes Faith (a new resource) to unlock Pantheons then full fledged Religions.  My explores happened upon a ruin which gave me 40 faith, enough to establish the worlds first Pantheon.  For my bonus, I chose Idolatry.  This generates +1 faith for every gold and silver deposit you control.  I happened to have a number of Silver deposits near Amsterdam.

I don't really plan on playing a religious focused game, but one of the perks is Church Lands which generates money for me.  That fits nicely with my economic aspirations.

Enemy.  It seems I am not alone in this part of the world.  Japan settled very close to my capital city of Amsterdam.  They also picked a spot between me and a Gold deposit, so you know that is going to cause some trouble.  In fact, Japan launched a series of wars against me, since they wanted my lands as well.  I was able to fend them off, but just barely.

I always start off slow when it comes to my military and the AI certainly knows this.  In Civ 5, taking a city is pretty hard, especially early.  Besides having a unit stationed in the city, the city itself gets an attack.  The combination of the two can really tear up weaker units.

Diplomacy.  I have made some friends: the Americans and India.  It's neat that if you become friends with someone, their friends may notice and offer you friendship requests too.  They list the fact that you are a friend with theirs as a reason.  I do not have the technology for alliances yet, so we will see how this translates to wars later in the game.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WoH Gets Religious

Today Wrath of Heroes is getting a rather large patch.  Not only is a new Hero being added to the roster, but some significant system changes are being put in place.  I was really only expecting the hero.  Let's see, where to start...

Conrad.  The Warrior Priest Hero has arrived!  He is another capable Hero.  Hopefully this means less Glowgob :)  In fact, he is a nice Glowgob counter due to his targeted silence.  

Against All Odds.  AAO is a system from WAR where the underdog side gets a bonus.  It has now been added to WoH, but in a different form.  If players drop from your team, you and what remains of your team will be buffed.  That includes damage and damage taken.

This kind of change always makes me nervous.  You could end up with some really powerful players.  It also takes 'skill' out of the equation since your opponent (when 1 v 1) is buffed.  We'll see how it goes though.

Nemesis.  Another throwback from WAR.  Way back when they talked about adding a nemesis system, but it was never implemented.  This was like three years ago, so I'm pretty sure this is something new.  Basically, killing someone who has killed you a lot grants you a heal over time buff.  

Underdog.  Have no fear...  Another new system is coming with this patch.  If you are matched up against a high ranking team, you will get improved rewards even if you lose.  Nice idea, in an ideal world this would never happen if the matchmaker was doing their job.  Depending on the times you play, it may not always be possible to get a fair match-up.

There are a lot of other changes which I didn't even go over.  Go read the patch notes.   I am pretty impressed by the rate at which changes are added to the game.  I just hope to see a ranking system soon :)  

Monday, June 18, 2012

It was a long road

Over the weekend, I finally reached level 30 in League of Legends.  It was quite a climb.  It took me over 200 games to reach the level cap.  I played mostly Summoner's Rift, some twisted treeline and a few Dominion matches here and there.  All PvP, no bots.  I don't even want to calculate how much time it took, even with XP boosts.

The eternal question remains, now what?  Ranked play would be the next step, but I'm not sure I am ready for that.  I only really know how to play Support champions.  Going into ranked matches and only being decent at a single role is probably not a good idea.  I can play a few AP champs, but I really should practice ad/top/jungle.

I also need rune pages for roles other than support.  Although, since my support page is defensive (and general) it could still be used for the other roles.  I don't really want to bring other players down in ranked because I am not prepared.

Do I really want to do ranked though?  The community, in those matches, seems a lot worse.  Normal matches are generally, but not always, more laid back.  I can't help be interested in the competitive aspect of ranked though.  It gives a goal to shoot for, rather than just collecting IP.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Free Stuff

It's Free Stuff Friday!  If only I had enough free stuff to make that a regular thing.  Today our free stuff comes courtesy of EA and BioWare Mythic.  There are a couple of promotions going on for Wrath of heroes right now.

Summer Giveaway.  Head on over to the EA Play4Free page to get a free WoH Starter Pack.  It only goes on today! It has:  14 day XP boost, 7 day Gold boost, a Wooden Chest, and 5 health Potions.  Those extended boosts are pretty sweet.  They do stack with the subscriber bonus too.   I'm at 150% for both XP and Gold right now :)

Raptr.   I personally don't use Raptr, but they have special WoH rewards just for playing the game.  You can get a free XP Boost, Wooden Chest, and Ornate Chest.  It's free, just have to install their software.  I know a lot of people who use it and it seems kind of neat.  So check it out.

Dev Spy.  Ok, this has nothing to do with WoH (yet), but it is free too.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's talk 1.4.7

Now that 1.4.6 is on the live servers, it is time to start the discussion about Warhammer Online's next patch. It looks like the primary focus of 1.4.7 will be some career balancing.  Personally, I find it a boring topic overall, give me shiny new features.  It is a necessity though, especially in a PvP focused game.

Lead Developer, Keaven Freeman, posted a new Developer Discussion thread to talk about how they want to approach the balancing.  Initially, he wanted to go all out mirroring of the classes (think WoW) but eventually backed off of that approach.

To me, the variety of the classes (of which there are 24 and each has 3 mastery trees!) is part of what makes WAR interesting.  I can certainly understand the need for mirrors since they foster competitive play.  I'd be ok with either approach at this point though.

My favorite aspect of Keaven's plan is that he wants to push changes to the PTS frequently, instead of one big patch.  This lets players see what is going on and try things out.  No one wants to wait for 2 months to see results anymore.  We need them now! :)

Keaven also created a new thread to discuss city issues which arose due to the switch to 60 vs 60.   Sadly, i have yet to be on during a siege, so I cannot speak from personal experience.  The most pressing problem is probably just having too many people in Stage 3.  120 is a lot for a small space.  I'm not sure how you fix that without going back on the 1 instance plan or lowering the amount of players.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Werit and GW2 - Round 2

If you have read this blog before, you probably know I am not the biggest fan of Guild Wars 2.  it's interesting enough for me to drop the cash on it, but something about it just does not really resonate with me. Over the weekend, the seconds Beta event was held.  How did it go?

PvE.  One of my goals during the event was to give PvE a serious chance.  I've seen the videos of how intricate the events are so there seems to be a lot of potential.  I ended up getting my Human Mesmer to level 10 doing PvE, and I could not stick with it.

I found the Human area to be extremely boring.  None of the events I witnessed kept my interest.  The 'personal story' was ok, but did not keep me hooked.  I'm glad to see they make use of personal instances though.  At launch I plan to play a Norn, so we'll see if their areas are any better.

Mesmer.  I can safely say, I have no interest in playing a Mesmer.  The only fun I ever had with him was using a torch and blinking around.

Engineer.  After my PvE experiences, I rolled an Engineer (yay!).  I do enjoy him more than the Mesmer, but only advanced a few levels.  No turret for me yet.

WvW.  I immediately took my Engineer into the Mists.  Sadly, I found that our side completely dominated the other two.  There was a token resistance from one and none from the other.  The only fights I saw were at the enemies spawn.  It was mentioned on Twitter that they raised some population caps which could have emptied out some servers (where have I heard that before).

On the positive side, the fact that GW2 changes the server match-ups every two weeks means these situations may not last.  The downside is that means two weeks of no pvp.

That pretty much covers my GW2 time for the weekend.  I can't say it improved my opinion of the game.  It is beta, so I'll cut it some slack for the WvW.  As for the PvE content, I don't know if there is better stuff at later levels, or if I will be able to get through the boring stuff in order to reach it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Introducing Dev Spy

One of the things I like to do is read about games even if I don't play them.  That's a great thing about MMO's, there is usually new stuff going on which make things interesting.  The problem is there are just so many games out there to follow.  One great source of information are developer posts on forums or social media.

Not every game has a RSS friendly dev tracker, and I don't really find them an efficient way to keep up on everything.  So I made a new site called Dev Spy.

Games.  Currently, Dev Spy is tracking SWTOR, STO, LoTRO, Firefall, GW2*, TSW* and Eve.

*These just track Twitter at the moment, since their forums are closed or lack a dev tracker.

Live.  I wanted a site where I could just glance at it and easily see what was going on.  Dev Spy updates automatically so there is no need to refresh.  New entries will appear as they come in.

Missing.  Sadly, games like WAR are not able to be tracked.  The BioWare Social Network forums force you to be logged in to see peoples posts.

If you would like to see a game added, just let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do.

Check out Dev Spy at  or on my menu bar.  Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stop, BioWare. It hurts.

BioWare came to E3 with a lot to talk about, much to my surprise.  The teaser video was nice and all and got me a little excited for whats to come.  It was the interviews afterwards that have really pushed up my excitement level though.  I want this stuff so bad it hurts.

First, there was this great interview from Darth Hater with Daniel Erickson.  I'll just show some of the quotes.

We looked back at everything we did well and not as well, and we realized that the best moments of our games from a storytelling perspective were definitely the early ones when it was more focused. 
You had fewer quests at one time, and they were much higher quality stuff, big high quality cinematics, really deep storytelling, big choices, stuff that you really, really were involved in, were excited about, and really could keep track of what you were doing. That is Makeb. Makeb is a return to full on AAA BioWare storytelling.

From another interview:
The size of Mekab is comparable to any single-player game out there. It is a full world. We did raise the level cap as that we want you, while you're exploring and adventuring throughout the world, to have the same experience as your previous adventures. 

HK-51 is actually part of the Legacy system. He is a very hard companion to get, and there is an incredible amount of work that you’ll have to do. 
There is great, great new types of gameplay, new types of quests. There is a whole section of it that’s old school adventure gamey survival horror where you’re really not doing combat stuff; you’re following puzzles and solving stuff instead. Makeb has a lot of the same experimentation. 
So how you get him, the quest to get him, his dialogue, when he’s with you… all of that is obviously very different if you just decided that you have an assassin droid as a Jedi Knight, which I will say is a bit startling to him, versus getting it as a Sith Warrior.

What we’re talking about in the future is revolutionary. We’re talking about a completely different pixel space. 

Give it to me, give it to me now!  Sure, this might just be hype.  However, BioWare has proven they can pull it off, so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

MMORPG has a video interview with Daniel as well.  They cover some of the same ground, but some more details are given.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

First Day with 1.4.6

Yesterday, I got a chance to check out Warhammer Online's 1.4.6 patch.  The change I was most looking forward to was the scenario brackets.  By changing them to RR based, it means that my low level characters may actually see some action.

I hopped on my 40/49 Rune Priest since I was in a healing kind of mood.  Pretty quickly I had a scenario pop! In fact, I had several over the limited time I had to play, which is a huge improvement.  The matches were pretty varied, with players all throughout the level spectrum.  For example...

I didn't get to do much else other than scenarios.  I hoped to try the city siege, but one did not happen during my time online.  Next time I also want to try out some of my low level alts and see how they can compete.  Might I actually get my Bright Wizard leveled?

There is currently an interesting friendly fire bug, which makes me wonder what WAR would be like with actual friendly fire.  Forget about the griefing and balance issues, I just wonder what RvR would look like if you actually had to worry about AoE hitting your side.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Coming into E3, I was really not expecting to hear much about Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Sure, they'd have a booth and maybe show off some of the upcoming 1.3 features.  No hints were given about announcements prior, so I figured it would be fairly benign stuff.

When I heard the SWTOR music during the EA press conference I was pleasantly surprised.  They'd only get a slot (out of the 10) if they had something good to say.  And indeed they did.  After some awkward self-promotion, new stuff was announced!

Makeb.  This would be what I am most excited about.  A new planet will be introduced called Makeb.  The basic story behind it is that the Hutts took it over and are now becoming quite powerful.  I'm a fan of stories involving the Hutts, so this seems like a great addition.  A new planet means new stories!  I hope they are up to the standards already set, if not better.

Level Cap.  It looks like the level cap will also be increased, and includes new abilities for players to use.  It feels like it is early in the games life to do this and some players are not pleased at the prospect.  Since I do not raid I'm not worried about the gear implications, so it does not bother me.  On the plus side, this probably means our class stories will be expanded.

HK-51.  Our very own assassin droid, voiced by the original HK-47 actor!  Can't wait to be called a meatbag again.

New Stuff.  There will also be a new Operation, Space Mission and Warzone.  They all look pretty neat, and more is almost always better.

All this stuff was announced as 'Coming this year.'  That does not mean it is all coming together as one expansion.  I would not be surprised if this was released in pieces through the rest of the year.

Overall, I am pretty excited about what was shown.  The cherry on top is that 1.3 hits the PTS today, so that will be live soon as well.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

1.4.6 Goes live

Warhammer Online's 1.4.6 patch hits the live servers today!  This patch does not bring any major features, but instead makes some very important changes to the game.  Most importantly, the balance of RvR should now be a little nice to less experienced players.

City Siege. This one was unexpected. There will only be a single city instance allowed at a time now. The population cap has also been increased to 60 ( 60 vs 60!). When the city instance is over, another will open up. That means no more instance hopping to find an empty instance!

Tier 4 Bolster. In Tier 4 RvR lakes, all eligible players will be bolstered to rank 45 (up from 40). This will effectively eliminate the advantage of hidden levels. It will also do some interesting things to your stats, so be warned. It will hopefully bring better balance to Open RvR.

Scenario Brackets. Currently, scenarios are bracketed by levels only. In 1.4.6 there will be only 3 brackets: Level 1-15, Renown ranks 0-69 and Renown ranks 70-100. This is a tricky change since you want to provide a fair fight, but also make sure they pop frequently. We'll see how it goes.

Some other good changes?
  • The timer between uses of the WAR Report has been significantly reduced.
  • Keep doors are now vulnerable to single-target deployable siege.  This adds an alternative method of taking down a keep door. 
  • Players that die in a Keep area (enemy or friendly) will respawn in their Keep while players that die in the RVR Lake will respawn in the Warcamp.
  • The flight cinematic has been removed when traveling using the Flight Masters.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Over the weekend, I finished up Chapter One of my Jedi Knight's class story. Overall, I was pretty pleased with how it went.  I am not the biggest Force lover as I much prefer a blaster.  I played him as mostly a good guy, typical for a Jedi.  This post may contain some minor spoilers.

The story itself was decent.  A nice little twist at the end which I did not see coming which included an encounter with a very interesting character.  The enemies I faced were pretty good, I especially enjoyed Watcher One and Lord Praven.  It's a shame they couldn't have become my companions.

As for my real companions, they were just ok.  I have to admit, I am not a fan of T7.  Whoever programmed him went a bit too far with the butt-kisser modules.  Kira is a bit more interesting.  I was surprised how integral she was to the storyline.  On my Trooper, none of the companions were all the involved in comparison.  It is things like that that really make the class stories feel different.

So, what's next for me and SWTOR?  I really want to roll an Imperial Agent and have been wanting to for a while now.  However, I'm feeling the pressure of the Legacy system and will probably do Chapter 2 of my Trooper instead.  I want to get my bonus buff and some more legacy levels under my belt.  Seeing new planets will also be nice.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Planetside 2 Dev Stream

It's that time of year again.  The sun is staying out longer, kids playing outside, and a new game is on the horizon which I am starting to develop an obsession with.  The game in question would be Planetside 2.  Seriously, it looks amazing.  Hopefully they can pull it off, but that is certainly not a given.

Totalbiscuit, who I don't always agree with, happens to have the hook up when it comes to PS2.  Yesterday, he streamed about an hours worth of footage with PS2 developer Matt Higby.  You can check it out below.  Seems like a good way to spend your Friday instead of working.