Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween - From Gruggy

Gruggy is trying on his new Halloween costume and giving Order quite the scare.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

EVE Blog Banter #13 - Epic Battles

Welcome to the thirteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

The first banter of this 2nd year of EVE Blog Banters comes to us from Zargyl from A Sebiestor Scholar, who asked the following: On the EVE Fanfest 2009 page are pictures of prizes for the Silent Auction that was held during the event. One of these photos was entitled “Design your own EVE mission”. My question now would be what kind of mission would you write if you got that prize? What would the mission be about? Would it be one using the new system of epic mission arks? What would be the story told by it? Feel free to expand upon his questions and put together your very own mission!

Let's face it - PVE in Eve sucks, at least when compared to other MMO PVE content. The missions are extremely repetitive, I rarely feel immersed in the story line, the environments are boring, and the objectives are incredibly simple and uninteresting. But how could we change this?

This is something I have been thinking about for a while, and in fact I wrote a tutorial mission in a previous blog that started to scratch the surface of what I want to write about here. So without further ado, lets begin designing a mission.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of story writing so I will keep the story simple and just assume that if this mission were to be created, one of the talented CCP writers would create something far more involved.

Mission name: Operation Kill The Bad Guys (OKBG - let CCP come up with a better name)
Agent Level: 2
Agent Type: Gallente

First thing's first. Accepting the mission would work very much in the same fashion, except that a talking head would appear in a com window. This talking head would represent the commander of OKBG. The commander would deliver a couple of inspirational sentences and then inform the player that he/she would be guiding them throughout the mission. The head would be animated and have actual voice acting rather than just text.

The purpose of this is to facilitate immersion. How often do mercenaries fly off into giant battles after reading a little pamphlet about who to kill? I would imagine, not often. Having a commander's face pop up throughout the mission to give updates on oders (ala Starfox) would be a great way to change mission parameters, remind the player of what they are supposed to do, enhance the sense of realism, and do it all without having to open up another window to read over mission text while you're in combat.

After accepting the mission the player will undock in their usual fashion - hopefully with a cruiser class ship or something adequate to run level 2 missions. The player would also be notified that they need a weber and a scrambler for the mission. The commander window would pop up upon leaving the station saying, head to "these" coordinates. The player would literally be able to click on the word "these" and warp to that location. It is the future after all and one would expect us to have a more refined interface...

Instead of warping into the mission area and being greeted by the usual mass of space with the couple of red targets off in the distance, the player will find themselves right in the middle of a massive Gallente fleet. Carriers, Dreadnoughts, Battleships, and many many supporting ships. What's this you say? We aren't going to take on the whole fleet by ourselves?! That's right, you will be a ship among many NPC ships.

As the mission details are explained with some more briefing from the commander, you will be issued a fleet warp button. Upon clicking "ready", the entire fleet will warp to a new coordinate. When you emerge from warp, you will be greeted by a Caladri fleet of even greater size than your own.

Fighting between the NPCs will break out immediately. Ships will start to explode and that's when your commander shall appear. "I need you to engage and destroy enemy cruiser squadron six". At this point, five Caldari cruisers will be highlighted. They will be flying formation while they snake through the fleet.

Two supporting frigates will join your wings and follow you in pursuit of the enemy cruisers. Upon engaging the cruisers, they will break from their current targets and return fire on you. Your supporting frigates will provide you with armor and shield repairing to a small extent, but for the most part you will be on your own.

After destroying cruiser squadron six your commander will pop in again. "Battleship squadron two is becoming a major problem, we need you to neutralized their engine and warp capabilities while our Moros takes them out". The battleship squadron becomes highlighted and you make your way toward them. As you target and neutralize one, the Dreadnought opens fire and the ship is destroyed. After destroying two of the battleships you are warned that there is an incoming frigate squadron. The cruisers will web you making it difficult to get to the next battleship. You will then be forced to destroy the frigates in between locking down each battleship.

After the battleship squadron is destroyed, the decimated Caldari fleet warp away and your commander will joyously inform you that the mission was a success and that you played a key roll in turning the tide of the battle. You are then credited for completing the mission without having to return to your agent.

I realize this sounds so drastically different from current mission running in Eve but my god it would make them a hell of a lot more entertaining. I hate watching those cinematic trailers of Eve knowing that the game I play will never provide me with visuals like that. Let's take the immersion up a notch and create some truly epic battles for even the low level players to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Patch That Broke The Game

The latest Warhammer Online patch was released back on the 15th, and like everyone else who plays the game, I've been online as much as possible to take advantage of the changes.

The most impactful change that has occurred in 1.3.2 is the removal of forts. For those of you who are not familiar with the layout of Warhammer Online, most of the gameplay is based around realm vs realm combat. Players try to capture realms by taking keeps and battle objectives while assaulting and defending against other players.

In the end game, there are three different racial territories. Each territory is broken up into four zones. The objective is to completely lock two of the three territories to gain access to assault the opposing team's main city. This is done by capturing all the zones in at least two territory. This is a huge team effort and requires hundreds of people working together to capture all the territories in a zone.

Before the patch, players were required to assault a massive fort at the end of capturing four zones in order to lock the territory. The fort sieges were so difficult to win, that more often than not, players would not even attempt the final battle after capturing four zones and just move to a different area of the world to fight.

This gave the game the feeling that there was no real goal of all the fighting, and that it all really came down to meaningless skirmishes. However, now that forts have been removed, factions are now able to lock two territories to assault cities quite frequently. Sometimes twice in a day.

Having been to several city sieges in the past few days I find myself and many others very disappointed with end game battle. For starters, when a city siege is initiated all other PVP stops for two and a half entire hours forcing everyone who wants to PVP to enter the city siege. Yes this sounds like a great way to form huge battles, but what if you don't like huge battles. What if huge battles in these kind of MMOs ruins all strategy that was previously possible in smaller scale skirmishes?

Well that's exactly what happened. City sieges simply come down to, the more numerous force always wins. Instead of being able to take out important targets on your own, battle has now broken down into throwing yourself into the mass of enemy players and hoping that they all die before you. This can look kind of cool at first but it gets old real fast. Especially when you're on the losing team, where there is literally nothing you can do to change the outcome of battle.

Now image yourself stuck in a constantly losing battle where the enemy is farming you for experience and you have no other options of gameplay open to you for the next two and a half hours. What the heck were they thinking?! Honestly this seems like a design flaw that they should have caught on the drawing board.

On top of that there are tons of broken quests in the city. Did they even have QA look this over before shoving it out the doors? There is also supposed to be a second stage to the city siege that nobody has been able to reach yet. To get to the second stage requires that all of the city siege instances on a single server are to be continuously dominated by one faction.

Does anyone see a problem with this? Mythic is trying to reward players for making one side an unstoppable force that completely dominates the entire game for two and a half hours. Image how fun that's going to be for the opposing side. You can't go anywhere for two and a half hours where you are not going to be steamrolled by enemy forces.

Some idiot designer needs to get slapped. Every player vs player game has other areas to fight when you are losing the battle at hand. In first person shooters you have the option of switching servers, changing the map, or even trying to organize your team better to sway the battle.

Mythic has cornered their players into losing battles and then forces them to stick it out to the bitter end because there is nowhere else they can go. Way to go mythic, maybe you should send your lead designers to basic game design school. Your game is broken!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Ultimate Eve Blogger's Hub

That's right - I'm talking about the one, the only, CrazyKinux (CK)! CK is widely regarded as the most influential Eve blogger and distributer of Eve related news and media. Not only does CK get all kinds of cool media directly from CCP for early distribution, but he has also taken it upon himself to create a top notch blogging pack. I am fortunate enough to have been admitted to this blogging pack.

When my first blog was only days old I wrote CK an email asking him for advice on how to get people to find, let alone read, my blog. This is what he said.

You've got a sweet looking blog, with a great subject matter that's sure to interest a lot of folks out there.

I'll be adding your blog to the EVE Blogroll shortly, but other things you can do to "market" your blog would be to read other high traffic blog and comment on a regular basis. You might want to create a Twitter account (doesn't have to be you in-game character; mine's not) and start to follow other EVE bloggers, and partake in the conversation. That should get your site exposed!

Good luck and keep it up!

David, aka CrazyKInux

I've taken CK's advice and now my barely two month old blog is getting read, has gotten me publish in EON magazine issue #17, and has provided me with an outlet for my gaming rants.

CK you have my thanks, appreciation, and my friendship.

- Rakanishu

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mama Bear

I purchased my first Orca today. Since she is now the mining fleet leader I thought the name "Mama Bear" was fitting. Dwarfing the exhumers she mines besides, her pack of drones slowly suck asteroid into her cargo hold, while her far reaching tractor beam scoops up there rest of the fleet's ore.

Never has a mining operation looked so.. cool.

Mining is a truly relaxing area of eve. The timing of mining lasers, and the quickly executed asteroid locks, keep the ore flowing and the wallet growing.

I've decided that my next endeavor will be putting my three character's drone skills to use in missions. I plan on training them all to fly Dominix with high sentry drone skills. My main character can already solo any level 4 mission yet it takes him quite a while. Perhaps three Dominix will speed up the process.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Real Men Play With Legos

Before I write this post, I just want to say that anyone who makes fun of me for playing with legos can go burn in lego hell. That being said - yes I still play with legos. My latest lego investment was such and awesome lego set that I though I should share it with all of you.

The Lego Star Wars Tantive IV (also know as the rebel blockade runner). This baby comes fully loaded with eleven engines, a hammerhead cockpit, escape pods, and even rebel scum.

I've always liked the Blockade Runner and I wished it had made more appearances in the OG Star Wars films. The eleven engine tail gives one the impression that this thing can really punch it, and the hammer head cockpit gives it the appearance that it's supposed to smash through things.

The lego designers really did a great job with this model. The tiny technical details really help give it the Star Wars feel but I think the engines are the real highlight. The fact that lego put in all eleven engines is really a testament to staying true to the original design. Sure not everything is perfectly proportional but it's close enough.

Six moving turrets, two escape pods, an opening cockpit, and an opening fuselage give this ship a lot of functionality. My only reservation is that it's hard to find a good place to hold this model. There are so many tiny details that you have to be careful not to grab a weak spot when lifting it. This kind of gets in the way of running it around the house making "pew pew" sounds. But alas maybe there are a few things I have outgrown.

Now if you will excuse me - Pew pew, Neeeaaarrrr-Kaboom.

Friday, October 9, 2009

James Cameron + 3D + Sci-Fi = Nerdgasm

Some high rez pictures of the new Avatar film by James Cameron have surfaced. I don't know about you guys, but seeing Sigourney Weaver on the set of what is bound to be an insanely rich science fiction film, gives me goosebumps. I will say the Na'vi look a little cartoony, but I haven't seen the movie yet, so maybe the animation makes up for their seemingly flawless complexions.

So when is this coming out? December 18th! What the heck am I going to do until then? Oh.. right... video games :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beer - What Would Iceland Do Without It?

Probably stop making awesome games and music...

If you're an Eve fan then you are aware that the fanfest was going on over the weekend. Reading some of the blogs out there, it sounds like it was quite the event. You have to love CCP for doing ridiculous dev videos starring - the devs (obviously).

I recommend watching both of these vids (CCP rap - beer ship) for a laugh. Surprisingly good production quality.. I wonder how many ships they could have designed in the time it took to make these.. Bah I won't be negative. This is why I love CCP, they are ridiculous and they clearly know how to have fun which is probably why Eve is in it's current state of awesomeness.

Also in case you're interested in Dust 514 - who isn't - there are some nice new gameplay vids to watch. It looks a lot like Halo, except that you're not fighting pink monsters with the mentality of the three stooges. I may have to buy a console for this game. Maybe I can mine in Eve in between lives on Dust 514..

Monday, October 5, 2009

Zombie Kill of the Week

Ever wonder if the zombie apocalypse actually happened would we have awards like zombie kill of the week? Well In "Zombieland" they do. If you haven't seen Zombieland yet, I suggest you stop reading, and go see it right this second. If you're still here then let me tell you why you must see this film.

Following in the footsteps of Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland brings us to a whole new realm of zombie comedy. With the heroic, or not so heroic, narrator Columbus (not Christopher), the audience will soon learn about the rules for surviving in Zombieland. Much like the book "The Zombie Survival Guide" Columbus has his own set of rules.

You know those moments in horror film when the monster gets shot and falls down and everyone thinks it's dead but it's not actually dead? Well Columbus' double tap rule makes sure he always puts a second round in the head just to make sure. This could also be explored in the form of running over zombies a second time, just to be sure. Needless to say he is able to demonstrate this rule many on several occasions for the audience.

The zombie killing team: The lonely ex-gamer, a commando Woody Harrelson, the hot chick from super bad, and a zombie killing version of the girl from little miss sunshine. Perhaps an odd combination, but hilarious none the less. Throw in an appearance from Bill Murray and you're in for one ridiculously hilarious zombie film. I was so zombie-giddy after watching this film, that I had to take out some of my excitement in left for dead as soon as I got home.

What is this weird obsession with zombies? Is it wrong that I secretly hope for the zombie apocalypse. Probably.. so I guess I just have to make due with awesome movies like Zombieland.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Loner

The solo player who likes to play MMOs. Damion Schubert's "The Loner" presentation explains the situation in all of its intricacies. Players who, for one reason or another, end up playing solo in massively multiplayer games.

This brings me back to my issue with CCP introducing the new join corp button as their solution to getting new players hooked. According to Damion Schubert, that could be the wrong move to make for a good percentage of the loners out there. I know I have addressed the "how to get more people playing Eve" issue before but I thought that this would add a little bit more weight to the argument.

I listed out the ten loner types that Damion mentions in his presentation. I think I'm somewhere between "the introvert" and "Commitment Phobic". Which loner are you? If any...

Loner 1 - "The new kid in town"

The new player is a tabula rasa.
No connections, no friends, no clue.
Friends that do come may quit.

Loner 2 - "The Daria" (Like from the show Daria)

In general, other people are a tragedy - but they are occasionally entertaining.

Loner 3 - "The Sociopath"

Doesn't understand what is appropriate social conventions
The real problem is when they also don't care.

Loner 4 - "Mr. Lunch At His Desk"

Playing on a very strict timetable.
Playing at unusual hours.
Playing on a non-gamer box.
May not have Voice Chat available
May want to group, but social friction makes this untenable.

Loner 5 - "The Introvert"

Reaching mass markets does not mean we're now reaching mostly extroverts.
According to Myers-Briggs, 50% of the population are introverts.
And we will always skew towards introverts.

Loner 6 - "The Adrift"

Some people are alone unwillingly.
In this case, being solo is a broken state.

Loner 7 - "The Unworthy"

Want to be part of 'the club', but aren't sure they have the chops.
Sometimes they don't.

Loner 8 - "The Vacationer"

"I need some 'me' time."
This player wants to escape his in-game obligations.

Loner 9 - "The Commitment Phobic"

Leery of long-term time commitments or scheduled events
Possible real-life distractions
Concern about falling with a groups of incompetents or bad leadership
Deep dislike of drama
May have had a bad experience

Loner 10 - "The Garbo"

"I just want to be alone."
Some people just like the level (or whatever) game.