Tuesday, December 22

After the apocalypse

It appears Lani's uber cool bear will survive the apocalypse. Well, maybe it is not Lani's bear, but I think it is save to say all uber cool bears of the world will survive!

Finding that little bear sitting there all alone was already sad and yet fitting. But it got even worse when I wandered around some more in the town I was passing through. I was busy brewing some Old Kingman Iced Tea. A good iced tea takes it time. So while it was brewing I decided to walk around the house a bit. Normally houses are empty except for some NPC vendors or quest givers. But when I stepped inside the first floor bathroom of this particular house I found an extremely sad girl sitting in the tub looking utterly desolate. I genuine felt embarrassed. I mumbled some apology, but she didn't even look up. So I quickly left.

The game is just simply perfect for me. It is doing exactly what I am looking for. I think I know a bit more about what Geek means about social play, MMO play, etc. A new post is cooking in my head. It will be ready soon :) Oh, and I made my first ATV too. I think. Last night I learned the last piece. So I started crafting one. But it takes 4 hours to make so I will have to see the result when I get home tonight.

(Final?) move update #3

Tip for moving: If at all possible try not to move house during snowstorms and/or one foot of snow.

Well, that was.... different :-)
We moved on Sunday, well actually we moved 2 out of 2.5 truckloads, the last ride we cancelled due to blizzardlike (to us soft Dutch people anyway) conditions. So I'm still missing some parts of furniture and other little essentials which were left out at the last moment.

Here be pictures:

We'll be trying to move those asap but since there's still a half foot of compacted snow covering just about everything, we'll have to see as to when.

It looked even awesomer when the snow on it was three inches thick, but you couldn't really distinguish it from the background on that picture :-)

2 hours after movers left

24 hours after movers left

Close up of bookcases.
Red insets hide plates, glasses & cutlery as the dining table is opposite that bookcase

The kitchen is also more or less complete (dishwasher needs a pipe so I won't flood the place using it) and the bedroom partially (some of the missing bits include all planks and the doors to my wardrobe). All in all I've moved in and now the settling in must begin. I hope to have those bookcases and not to mention my DVD collection sorted by the end of January.

Sunday, December 20

Postcard from Atlantica

Out of all the F2P games I've tried this one has definitely provided me with the most fun, while containing the staples of a classic MMO it has some significant differences, the most obvious and the one that will be the deciding factor of your enjoyment of this game is the combat.

Combat is turn based, instanced and requires some strategy, especially in PvP. The persistent world contains mobs, unlike classic MMO's these mobs won't go out of their way to attack you, combat is initiated by either running into the mob or by clicking on it. On initiating an encounter you are immediately drawn into an instance to fight, either solo with your mercenaries (more about those later) or as a team with other players. If you initiated the fight then the round starts with your turn, if however the mob snagged you by wondering in to you then they get the first turn. Your group members who can participate in a turn have a green circle, you can select any of these to attack or to perform other tasks such as buff/debuff or heal your group members. The strategy comes in to play when deciding which team member to use and what to do with it, formation of the team is also important, you don't want your squishies on the front line. The combat is highly reminiscent of the combat in Final Fantasy 7 and 8 (if you played and enjoyed those games you'll love it). Your attack turn has a time limit, 15 seconds at the beginning, in which to take all your attacks before the enemy gets it's turn. Each player or mercenary has the option of either a regular attack or magic attack, left click on the mob for regular or right click for magic, if the player has more than one magic attack, left click the skill then the mob or player if its a buff or heal. The default game settings has attack animations and cut scenes switched on, they add a nice visual dynamic to battles but these soon get in the way as they eat up your time limit and get in the way of your view, they can be switched off from the settings tab. If you don't like this style of combat, you won't like the game.

You can choose your class from a range of weapon types which include, Sword, Spear, Axe, Staff, Bow and Gun, the range widens if you already have a high level character to include Cannon and Maniac.

Character creation is extremely limited, you have the choice of gender, 3 or 4 faces, 5 or 6 hairstyles and hair colour, the lack of individuality is also born out through the armour system. If your really bothered about having a unique looking character then your going to be very disappointed. I'm currently visually offended by my characters look, luckily the other aspects of the game are keeping me happy enough to forgive it.

Mercenaries: Your first quests will require you to choose some mercenaries to fight at your side, you need to think about your choice, as you level you get more mercenaries and a wider choice, at around lvl 20 you will also receive quests to obtain different kinds of mercenaries, Viking and Monk, your quota won't be big enough to accept both unless you store another in the mercenary room, the room is obtained through a license and is time limited, the license can be bought at the market or through the cash shop. You are given one free to start with, I have no idea what will happen to my stored gunner when that time runs out, perhaps she goes to gunner heaven? Mercenaries can also be upgraded to increase their stats which requires dropped items of a certain level.

Shadow Dungeon Interior

The armour and weapon system is simple and fun, there are obviously different weapons for the different classes and different armour types for magic, melee and ranged. They are obtained through drops of an 'equipment box' from mobs, these stack in your inventory (space is extremely limited) until you decide to open them, on opening a box you get a random piece of equipment, a small screen pops up and cycles through the possible content until it stops at one. You can't be guaranteed you'll get what you want and may end up with multiples of something you don't want cluttering up your inventory, luckily there is the enchant system to help sort that problem out.

Weapons and Armour can be enchanted to increase their stats, again it's a simple process and relies on the drops of enchantment stones from mobs, the stones are dropped in an enchant box which stacks in your inventory, opening one gives you the choice of an enchant stone for either weapons or armour, you will receive either one or two of the selected stone. Enchanting an item requires multiples of the same item, to get a +1 staff you need two staves and one weapon enchant stone, to get a +2 staff you need two +1 staves and 2 weapon enchant stones, a +3 staff then requires two +2 staves and 3 weapon enchant stones, so to get a +4 staff you will have got through 16 staves and 26 weapon enchant stones. If you don't get enough drops of stones then there's always the Market.

Crafting is a weird one, instead of having armour crafting you learn to craft each armour piece as a seperate craft skill, same goes for weapons. The initial lesson to start crafting is gained from an NPC, most of these NPC's wander around the world so your never sure were they are going to be, it's a pain when you need to level up, however there is an NPC called Livingstone just outside Bucharest who is in the know regarding their current location. Players can also pass on their crafting skills to other players. Mats are dropped from mobs and can also be bought from the Market. Crafting also includes medicine for replenishing health, mana and life potions for reviving dead party members (alchemy in any other game) and foods (cookery), among many others. The crafting process takes place while your fighting, select what you want to craft then enter a battle to get it done, strange way of doing things and hardly immersive but later at lvl 30 you gain the ability to auto craft which can be done while afk. I'm currently crafting the chest armour piece, I can craft lvl 25 items while the drops I get are only lvl 20, it's worth the expence.
Windmills just outside Amsterdam
Getting around is by foot, there are mounts but I believe these are cash shop items, you can travel from outpost to outpost via the Travel Agent, at a cost, in any town as long as you have previously visited the outpost you wish to travel to. Towns are guild owned and have a variety of resources including a Bank (just for money but needed if your selling on the market), Hospitals (replenish mana/health or revive a dead party member, also buy medicines) and Market for selling and buying. The worlds geography is based on ours, today I decided to go find Livingstone near Bucharest and go to Helsinki to get access to the Christmas event dungeon, on the way I passed through Calcutta, London (via the Channel Tunnel), Amsterdam and St Petersburg amongst many other well known locations, it was a nice journey as the graphics changed to reflect the locales quite nicely. The lore hasn't sunk in, I've no idea why the world has changed to have all these fantastical creatures in it.

Somewhere in Southern Europe
The graphics are OK, just below the original GW standard I would say. There are some surprisingly nice details in some places while in other places it looks like they forgot to replace the heavily pixelated test textures, it's easily pleasing enough on the eyes to be playable.

The game is linear, while your always free to go off and explore you are required to complete some quest chains in order to progress, movement is sometimes restricted, there is no jumping, falling off a cliff or diving into water. The game does a great job of teaching you as you progress.

The quest system is great, you have a quest marker to point you in the right direction or you can use auto run to go straight there while you do other stuff, the quest log contains all quests so if you think your stuck for quests or just fancy a change of scenery you can see straight away where to go for more quests.

Music and sound effects are generally horrible and annoying, turn them off! They are exactly like those early Playstation games even the battle music sounds like the one used in FF8.

It may not be a triple A title but for a F2P title there is something unique and a lot to enjoy in this game, it costs you nothing but the download time and 2gb of HD space, if you want something a little different and like the idea of turned based combat, give it a go, I've had hours of fun with this one and it gives PvP a whole new twist. At lvl 28 I feel like I've hardly scratched the surface, there's a lot left still to learn.

If anyone fancies giving it a go you can join me on the Delphi Server playing a staff called MsAnthropy.

Thursday, December 17

Go see Avatar!

I went last night to the premiere of Avatar. In 3D. And I was awestruck. You must go see this movie. It was absolutely one of those masterpieces you simply can't skip. And if at all possible make sure you get to see it in 3D. I was a bit sceptical about the 3D thing. I had to wear one of those funky glasses. But they didn't have a red and green glass, but something about polarization. There were a few previews before the movie started and they had the kind of shoebox with a looking hole feel. Cut-out 2D characters that are standing in front of a 2D background. But Avatar is nothing like that. But you just have to see for yourself. What made it extra fun for me is that James Cameron is clearly a big fan of Anarchy Online. Several creatures and locations could have been copied straight out of the Shadowlands. And even some of the human technology and ideas can be found on Rubi-Ka. So yeah, go see it. I think I will do so again too.

Wednesday, December 16

Tuesday, December 15

Moving update

Oooh! new posts with interesting and heartening titles which I want to peruse in detail but don't have the energy for just now. Good thing I actually still have to work for two days this week and will no doubt have plenty of time and hopefully energy to read and respond.

In the mean time a quick update of what's keeping me offline at the moment:

With the help of this not-so-bold (and adopted) family member we got the carpeting in in both living room and bedroom. Walls and ceilings are painted too and you can see the big TV cupboard which we had to saw in to make my 42" TV fit. Really folks, 38" is all you'll need. Anything above that really is just compensating.
Unless it's my TV of course.

No Geek, it's not a wig. This is where my hair comes from, though not the die-job. The bloke in the back (the one holding a cup and chatting up my Mom, not the one taking out the trash) is my former flatmate who "left" me to live with his girlfriend and came by to do the cabling in my new flat. Luckily without "Let's splice a network cable into phonelines" ideas this time.

Shot of the kitchen to show the foil on the window which allows me to go to the fridge in the buff without proving to my neighbours that I'm in fact not compensating with my TV in the process.
Oh, and that's a lamp, not a UFO hanging from the ceiling.

Thee of the eventual four bookcases placed. The entire wall of books will be eight yards.
Putting together those red insets took an equal amount of time as putting up the big heavy bookcases themselves.

It's not so much that I like plastic vines, I just hate bare piping. You can see the bedroom is fully CAT-6 cabled for gbit network. Windows got the opaque foil treatment too, mostly because there'll be a rather expensive piece of hardware sitting right next to the window that faces the gallery our front doors open unto. There'll also be blinds and even curtains and locks on the window.

I was going to take pictures of my current flat in its 80% packed up state but then I recalled this blog's readership is generally old enough to remember what Beirout looked like during the height of the fighting / bombing and I'd rather not reopen old wounds or trauma's.

New graphics engine for AO still in development

With all the doom and gloom around FunCom I was expecting that any Anarchy Online would have been put on hold indefinitely. But apparently there are still some people working on it at least! I am looking forward to wandering Rubi-Ka once again with the new graphics. It is probably still a year or more away, but there is progress! Maybe they will use AO as a test platform of graphics engine they are going to use in Secret World. If that is the case there might be a real push for it. Not sure though how hard it is to try to put a new engine into a 8 year old game.

I ran into this tidbit of AO news when I learned about the unlimited free trial of Age of Conan. Thanks Geek! You can now run through Tortage over and over without paying a cent. Info and download link can be found at www.ageofconan.com/trial/. And when you play the video clip and right on it a weird AO reference shows up. That triggered me to visit the AO site in search for more info. And that led me to this page.

I hope the move to make Tortage F2P will lure in a lot of players, make Funcom buck loads of money, and AO and Secret World will become the brilliant games I am hoping for. Ok, enough day dreaming now, and back to my AO copy-cat.

Saturday, December 12

Game Mechanic Musings #1

In the interest of keeping this blog active thought it might be an idea to get the ball rolling on discussing game mechanics, talk about one mechanic that's interesting, inspired, confusing, just plain stupid or that you would like to see (get your imagination going and Lani can split his pefect MMO mechanics into bite size chunks). I'll get the ball rolling...

Atlantica Online - Stamina

Within the first few hours of playing I had random people send me money, initialy I was cautious, could this be a sweetener from an RMT company? I put my paranoia aside, accepted and sent my thanks, mostly people don't reply or they send a simple 'yw'. It was only on reading the above stamina information that it became clear that in AO you need to be generous to keep that XP and drop rate. The amounts I have recieved vary, I'm not sure how giving works, if theres a minimum involved or that minimum increases with level or the more you use this one way of getting stamina back? I've not been able to initiate sending a gift, I'm guessing my current low level doesn't allow it. I would think there is a bar on giving to members of your own guild, I also wonder if giving requires you to select a player or the players name is randomly generated, if the former then more care when choosing a name could be beneficial.

Grouping is rewarded by stamina regen, it is also rewarded by significant xp gain, in a world where a lot of MMO companies seem to like punishing grouping it's nice to see it rewarded.

Beyond encouraging grouping, helping, being generous and getting involved in PvP, why limit the XP and drop advantage? I recall at the beginning of this games life in CB loss of stamina meant no XP and no drops, speculation was heavy about stamina items being the biggest possible source of income from the item mall, yet my current search failed to find anything in the mall that restores stamina, the only possible reasons I can fathom are to either get you to play less and/or explore the other options the game has to offer, the options I'm aware of so far just seems to be crafting for a lowbie like myself, although I have discovered nothing more than the fact it exists. It seems a bad idea to limit peoples enjoyment of one aspect of the game, I wonder why they kept it? Further exploration of the game and forums (found no concrete answers on the forum so far) may shed some light on this one but at the moment what I'm seeing doesn't seem to provide any real 'justice' for something so limiting, what is the point ?

Wednesday, December 9

Still playing

It has been too quiet here at Yammob. To some it might look like we have become Yammobbtd. But we can't change the URL any more since it will mess up so many people's bookmarks. So I will try make new updates. It is quite logic the updates are a bit slow lately. Lani has been very busy sorting out real life as the previous post shows. Geeky is very busy beta testing several F2P games, which would make for great updates, but I spoiled it all by telling him he is a fool beta testing free games. Sorry Geeky! Please post your findings. And I am still lost in the wastelands.

The problem with making updates on my adventures is that I am a bit at a loss what to tell. Rehashing that I think it is a swell game doesn't really do much. So maybe I will let some pictures do the talking. I have managed to lure one of my City of Villain static group members to join me. But since she is living on the US West Coast, 8 hours behind, we haven't seen each other yet.

So I have to roast my jackrabbit all by myself. But life in Fallen Earth is not all about solitude. The official forums are bustling affair of ideas, suggestions and problems. It is the first official forum I have seen where I don't run away screaming. The PvP players still have the highest word, but even they are civilized. So I find myself wasting quite a bit of my office hours reading up and posting on them. Then I feeling guilty for not having done enough work, so I work till too late, rush home to actually play, eat, sleep, and repeat.

The same good natured spirit of the forums is also in game. The majority of the talk in game happens on the help channel. Besides clan talk, the help channel is the only global channel available. And there is always a GM active on it. Since it is the only global channel some people try to derail it in futile discussions about WOW sucks, EVE rules. If it gets to weird I zone out, or a GM steps in. But most of the time it is a wonderful place to pick up handy tips, and share my growing knowledge of the game. It is just wonderful to get almost instant replies on any question you throw out there.

One of the discussions on the forums is the need for more OOC global channels. Some people are complaining that the help channel is too heavy handed. They don't want GMs to tell them they should keep help to help, and that they should be allowed say FUCK! all the time. But those are the trial key folks. Some more genuine people argue there should be a global channel for more valid questions. And that is actually an interesting conversation.

Some think added OOC channels will give them a venue to get in touch with the rest of the community. Without a global channel you are just isolated in the big world. Some other refute this. In most MMOs global channels are just rambling screens for ePeens, recruiters and gold sellers. Most people will turn it off. At the same time people will turn away from help and start asking questions on the OOC channel, making the help channel useless, and since the OOC channel is mostly ramblings, most players won't get the help. Thus the community as a whole is actually suffering, not getting better. I think is also the view of the dev team. They have some very specific ideas about their game. I hope all their dreams come true.

The proper place to talk to fellow wastelanders is /region. It is heard by everybody in team-able range. It worked wonders for me a few days back. I had reached the town of Kingman. All quests in that town are group quests. I was standing around a bit contemplating what to do when somebody in /region asked if somebody wanted to help him kill Casta, which is a boss I needed to kill as well. If he had asked that in global he would probably have wasted his time. But in region it worked wonders. Apparently about everybody in town needed to kill him. Within a minute we had a team together and we were on our way to the Kingman Prison. It was the first big scale dungeon crawl I had done. The prison was a lovely maze filled with nooks, corners and plenty of bad guys. It was brilliant! It also showed I am still a serious noob, and I still have a lot to learn before I can make it in the areas ahead.

Monday, December 7

The apartment

I'll explain to Phèdre the differences between emotes, gestures, poses and animations in Second Life soon, but first I want to show the pics of my new apartment. The keys to which I received today:

When you get through the hallway with a toilet and electricity cabinet, all of which was too boring and cramped to take a shot of, this is what you see. Note the top of the birch tree in the window. That's standing in my garden :-D I got a garden. Accessible from stairs leading down from the balcony over there and a backside gate.

Open Kitchen and balding relative:
It's open to the livingroom which is a step down from my current place, but it has a suction cap (Phè help! What are these called in English?) which is a step up.
The balding relative isn't a permanent fixture, well his baldness is ;-P
THe previous owner was willing to leave that fridge standing for 75 Euros. SInce it's 4.5 years old I pounced on that deal.

Livingroom 2:
No, I only have one, but this is the way it looks from the other end.
The wall to the left is 7.90 Meters long and will be covered by bookcases when I'm done.
The little corner you see there has my 1.4mx1.4m dining table written all over it.

This very revealing shot *cough* is of my bedroom. The open door goes to the livingroom and was barely visible in the previous shot. Walls will be repainted less yellow.

Since it was light outside the building my camera's flash decided not to work...
This is the main drawback to this apartment for me. That's the public stairwell right there and residents of the 8 apartments at my level will be walking by my bedroom window to get to their front doors...

Nothing fancy, it has a shower a fountain and to the left room for a washing machine and a dryer. It even has a power-relay so I can use either washing machine or dryer. But since there's only one poweroutlet we're at a loss how that'll work as the relay theoretically switches between 2 outlets....

The apartment also comes with a 2x4m storage at ground level and I'm above the central heating room, providing hot water and heat for the entire building. So essentially I have built in floor-heating and no downstairs neighbours to worry about. Just some to the side and above me.

I've spent the evening bowed over a floorplan with measurements trying to get everything to fit and I realized you're no doubt dieing to see that piece of art so there you go.

Ten Step Plan:
  1. Paint ceiling
  2. Paint walls
  3. Put in carpet
  4. Put in network cabling and other wiring
  5. Put in bookcases
  6. Pack
  7. Move
  8. Drop of unusable stuff at junkyard
  9. Put in better lighting
  10. Clean old apartment
Aftet that, find new employment to be able to pay the rent after month #1 :-(

Lotro anyone?

That title is a very obscure reference to a commercial for Southern Comfort. Actually too sad I even mention it. But since I am such a crappy updater lately I think I can make crappy titles *grin*

So where is this all going? A couple of days ago Zubon over at KillTenRats made a great post about static grouping. He talked how much fun it is to have a fixed weekly time to play with a fixed group of characters. He mentioned how much fun he had with such a group in City of Heroes, and later in Lord of the Rings. The posts that followed the days after that pointed out more of the good bits of City of Heroes, and good bits of Lord of the Rings as well. Especially the post City of Skimishes makes me getting a bit itchy, and really wanting to try out LOTRO.

The problem is time. Playing three MMOs at the same time is just crazy. Last week I played some City of Heroes during the week and had loads of fun with that still. Our Sunday static group feast only made that feeling stronger. And although I had the feeling I got a bit stranded in Fallen Earth I got excited about that too over the weekend. Saving myself and Lifenet was good fun. So LOTRO only makes sense if there is somebody to play with. Maybe something for the new year?

PS. The Ulimate Sandbox MMO

Saturday, December 5

Promotional Video Magic

Now if only the Real Second Life were that lagfree :-/

From the SL webstore Xstreet:

· Animation Bundles (520)
· Animation Override (1470)
· Combat Animations (253)
· Couples Animations (3120)
· Dancing Animations (1466)
· Emotive Animations (227)
· Erotic Animations (4209)
· Gestures (18100)
· Misc. Animations (1756)
· Posing Animations (6253)
· Sitting and Lying Anims (1251)
· Walking Animations (198)

Which shows that after communicating (Gestures) narcicism (Posing Animations) is still #1, followed by cybersex (Erotic animations) with romance (Couples Animations) a close third. Also note the lack of interest in excersize (Walking Animations).

* alternative theory is that (since categories overlap) out of 4209 cybersex animations, 3120 are for couples. The other 1089 probably involve more or less than two avatars...

More promo vids here

Friday, November 27

Two of the best things to come out of the 80's

And just because it's so awesome:

Sunday, November 22

Tip Of The Day

You cannot brush your teeth in Fallen Earth.
NOTE: This tip does not apply outside of the game.

Tuesday, November 17

Legal Status?

I wonder how legally binding Terms of Services published to your browser using a wrong Character Encoding really are?
I mean, sadly the bit where you state you read and agree to them is legible, but I only understood and agreed to the bits i could actually read, which is "Google".

Thursday, November 12

Fallen Earth Free Trial!

Update for the lurkers! The Escapist has a Fallen Earth free trial offer available. They have 5000 keys to give away, so get one while they last. You won't regret it.

Click >>HERE<< to get your key.

Tuesday, November 10


All dressed down in the latest urban gear. Now comtemplating where to go from here.

Monday, November 9

Life and times in Odinville

Odinville Highstreet

A couple of days ago I had made my first visit to Odinville. It was my first journey away from Midway. I spend my time just having a look around town. Before I had a change to talk to the local people I got whisked away to fight Zombies somewhere between Midway and Clinton FARM. And as I had posted earlier that adventure left me stranded in Clinton FARM. But before I left I had the change to visit the high street. The two people you see walking there are an estate agent showing prime real estate to his customer.

After our zombie adventure I hang around in Clinton FARM and had a few interesting courses in pathology, surgery, and medicine. As well as some search and rescue operations. I even did my bit together with other clones to stop a full scale attack by the blade dancers on the local mine. (the game had a different swing on the concept of a public quest.) In the end I had more or less learned everything there is about the area. I had been tasked to do a full scale sweep of the mine, but it requires a team. (We should team up and give this a try together with another attempt at the zombies soon!)

Posing for the camera with my new horse

So I packed my bags, and headed back to Odinville. Along the way I passed a container storage facility, which is turned into a free for all killing zone. Since I felt all knowing after my work at Clinton FARM I decided to have a look. Before I properly realized what it meant some bully was shooting down my horse. Old nag is not exactly the toughest of horse so she collapsed almost instantly. I managed to get off in time and run to safety. Still not having learned my lesson I walk back in and *pew* *pew* I am dead.

There is a lifenet terminal very close by, but I had enough of playing shooting target so I set off to walk to Midway. While hiking the wilderness I realized I so need a new horse. As I reached the outskirts of Midway I stop at the horse merchant to buy an untrained horse, some feed, and a training kit. It was all I needed to train myself a new horse. In the end I was only set back 3 blue chips, so not that bad. Of course it takes some time to get the horse in shape, so I continued on hiking to Odinville. By the time I reached there, and helped out a poor farm girl along the way, my horse was ready for its first ride. (As it turned out Old Nag was not really lost. I could tow her carcass to the stables and probably heal back to life again, but for now she is parked there.)

A view from Odinville's watchtower

Now that I made it back to Odinville it was time to get busy. Plenty of work to do in this fancy town. A bit surprising those CHOTA fools actually made such a decent town. There was even a completely stable and intact watchtower. It gave a nice view over the city. Of course there are problems too. And a lot of them of the nasty kind. The villains and critters around are quite a bit tougher than in Midway or Clinton.

Me, my horse, and a grave robber

Another very surprising yet very cool thing happened just outside town. I was just roaming around a bit after visiting the mining facility where its miners seem to be turning into zombies. I ran into a valley that was filled with roaming grave robbers. I am not completely sure why they were there, since I actually didn't see that many graves, but that is not too important. What was surprising how they reacted when I tried to attack one of them. I shot an arrow from my crossbow, and in stead of that the robber came running to me, he dropped to the ground to take some cover and started shooting arrows back at me! The sneaky girl! I was a bit dumbfounded, but realized quick enough I could do the same. It was pretty epic.

(I even had some time to play my usual Sunday City of Villains fun. And that went successful too. Our entire group made it to level 50. Woohoo! Corporal Picker can now hang up her Arachnos uniform and open the inn she always dreamed about.)

Saturday, November 7

Common decency

This is pure a rant. And it are probably the first signs I am turning into a crumpy old guy. But it irritates considerably nonetheless.

In Fallen Earth a lot of the NPCs are inside buildings, often even upstairs. Although the game allows it, I wouldn't think of crossing the doorstep on horseback. But plenty of players are just barging in without a second thought. I was at the ER in Clinton FARM, which is on the second floor. There are three beds where some NPCs are twitching in pain, and I am trying to heal them a bit with bandages and in comes this rude ape on horse crushing through. Of course telling him to get off didn't help much. Is it really that hard to use normal common decencies in a beautifully crafted online world?

Thursday, November 5

The Science of Fallen Earth

This isn't a Post of Wisdom, just me thinking and rambling out loud.
Feel free to join in and start a discussion.

Fallen Earth Crafting has two spheres:
Sphere 1: Baisc gear
This sphere encompasses Armourcrafting, Ballistics and Weaponry.
These are pretty much selfexplanatory.

Sphere 2: Reusables
This Sphere encompasses Cooking, Mutagenics and Medicine.
These different takes on what you'd be used to from Fantasy MMO's. Cooking is pretty normal, providing low level buffs for extended time (usually an hour, probably longer at higher levels) . Mutagenics provide bigger short term bursts, more like potions in Fantasy MMO's and Medicine is the usual band aid and debuff removal.

Split up in Nature (harvesting/skinning) Geology (prospecting/mining) and Scavengning (dumpster dumping)
These are essentially the same ability with a few themes. Regardless of what your crafting specialty is, developping these skills is recommended as there's an obvious interdependency at least on the materials level.

Odd ones out:
I left ou Science so far. Also the Horse Training Tradeskill set. The latter is arguable not crafting. Animal husbandry normally isn't considered such. But Science, which is the miscellaneous catch all set, allows for motorized mounts and definately is a crafting skill. Besides. Horse Training is set up as a tradeskill with producables such as feed and veterinary kits.

Science is a bit of an odd one out. You can make perma-buffs for weapons like scopes with it, or components. Making it a bit like Augmentation crafting from Fantasy MMO's. But it's also the Dyes tradeskill, and you can make vehicles through it. It's almost as if this was supposed to be a third Sphere (Augmentation) but they didn't have enough parts for it, or decided to keep the number of Tradeskills down and they ended lugging Vehicles in with it. Odd that Horse Training isn't part of Nature then. Or is it?

Actually, my description of each Tradeskill except maybe the first three are too narrow. The developers did a nice job of making things just a little not so clear cut. Very Anarchy Online-esque in a way. Actually that's what Fallen Earth feels like.

A Modern Day AO.

Just slightly less heavy on the ovscure interdependency and Excell sheet skills requirements.
Also without waiting 24-49 seconds for your "Automatic Rifle" to be able to fire another few rounds. And that's a good thing in my opinion. I'm glad Phè convinced me to give it another shot.
Anyway, it's probably a good idea to pick one Tradeskill from the first two spheres, all the gathering ones, and either Horse trading or Science. Player trading and / or buddy gift culture should take care of the rest.

Gathering isn't a necessity at first as basic components can be bought at premium rates from NPC's. No doubt though that later on this will either disappear or you'll find you need rare parts which aren't for sale at the least. Actually I hope the components will always stay available from NPC's. Even at high rates. Good money sink. I still recommend lots of Gathering. From what I can tell each Gathering skill provides components for each of the Crafting Tradeskills.

In closing, Phèdre found a very nice information site here:

Tuesday, November 3

Zombies nibbling your neck

It has been quite a long time. Maybe going down the Ksaravi Gulch during a short return to Vanguard. Or a journey into the subway of Borealis. And that was already last year. So I was thrilled and excited yesterday when I go run off into the unknown with Lani at my side once again. The task we set out to do sounded easy enough. We just had to upload some computer program on a lifenet computer station.

(someone'd just ridden out of the frame...)

As we were getting near the station the we started to see zombies wandering aimlessly around. Fortunately on horse back we were fast enough to avoid all of them. Then we reached the rim of a rather large crater with a bunker like building at the bottom. Which was of course where we needed to be. What I didn't expect was that the roaming zombies all came from there. They were everywhere!

We found a good spot to stall our horses, and we started clearing the path towards the station. The zombies really acted like zombies. Unlike other creatures, shooting them didn't make them rush towards you. They just kept coming at their slow steady pace. We managed quite nicely to drop them with our crossbows before they reached us. And so we reached the door feeling pretty confident. Our team play worked wonders! As soon as we opened the door ten more zombies swarmed us. It got a bit hairy and panicky, but we managed to disperse all of them.

So we proceed inside and find a lot more of them down the stairs. It looked like a perfect funnel for us to tick them off one by one. And we did. But we heard some other sounds and then I felt it too! We had zombies nibbling at our necks. No idea where they came from, but they were there. And they had us trapped. A few seconds later we were piled up on the floor with the other pieces of meat. It was a hard lesson learned.

Good way to filter your Inventory

Fortunately we got ourselves reanimated at the nearest lifenet terminus. Which turned out not to be familiar Midway, but some farmstead called Clinton. We stood outside a bit dazed for a moment, and then the reality sank in our horses were still near the computer station. And we were 'here'.

It was wonderful!

Wednesday, October 28

Brave New World

Every time I start playing a new MMO I am enthusiastic about it. It is something different, so I am entertained. At least for a little while. But as I have seen so many online worlds of the years I seem to be getting bored with them quicker and quicker. Aion didn't last a month. And that despite the fact I had a great guild to keep me entertained. But I really did like Aion the first week as my post Some Aion Screenies shows. Now I am playing Fallen Earth, and once again I am enjoying myself. So I better make a post quickly before this ends as well.

But I am relatively optimistic this time it will last me a bit longer. Fallen Earth has a couple of things going for it that is really in my alley.

At the scrapyard outside lovely Midway

I think one of the biggest charm is the fact that everything is new. Not just for me, but for all players. We have all been thrown into a new world, and we are learning our ways around in it. You get some basic training in the two tutorials you can play through, but after that you feel like you have been send out into the scary world in which you will have to swim or die. And that attitude shows in the chat channels. The busiest channel is the 'help' channel. It is a constant flow of asking questions and getting answers. There is no WTS/WTB/LFG/Recruitment blah, just people trying to figure out the game and helping those that follow. It is almost like I am back to the early days of the internet. It also helps there is almost always a GM active on the channel keep things in check.

In search of the thief with a horse.

One of the things that makes it different should actually be a reason for me to not play it at all. The controls are like a FPS. I have to move around with WASD, and actually aim with my mouse for both ranged and melee attacks. But I am doing surprisingly well. I am (probably) still rather pathetic. The scorpion that poisoned and killed me can vouch for that. But the game has much more to offer so that I don't feel useless because of it. It actually motivates. Yesterday evening I have been practising my kiting, circling and hit-and-run skills on the coyotes outside town.

I found the thief, and now I have a horse called 'Old Nag'.

Besides the (for me) different fighting controls, the game is still a real MMORPG. There are levels (woohoo! I made it to level 2), action points, skill bars, xp progression. The way leveling up works is a bit more like Anarchy Online. You get x amount of points (AP) that you can distribute over 20 or so skills. And each skill has a level cap beyond which you can't raise it yet. All attack skills and all basic skills (int, dex, str etc.) are raised by points gained through quests and kills. The harvest and crafting skills are raised by actually doing the harvesting and crafting. Crafting and harvesting are very important parts of the game. Everything can be made and/or found in the world. Skinning animals, stripping of pieces of broken cars, looting, digging through garbage, it can all be done. And about 90% of all the bounty I got can be used to make stuff. There is very little vendor junk.

Crafting works also interesting. It is all about finding out how to make something. Once you have managed to get the right instruction manual (which you can craft as well), the right raw material and the required skills you click on 'craft' and you start. Each item you make takes a certain amount of time. I made some lead pipes that was going to take 7 minutes at metal workshop. Of course I didn't want to stand around so I ran to look for some veggies I needed to make the burger. Of course I got myself in trouble again, and got killed.

On my way to the kitchen to make some tasty burgers.

I get regenerated at the lifenet station, and I was off again. 15 minutes had passed and I remembered I had been busy making that pipe. Apparently dieing and running around in the wilderness slows things down a bit since I still had to wait another 30 seconds for my pipe to be complete. This means they introduced a nifty system in which crafting is still a time sink, but it isn't anymore dumb staring at a picture of a workbench. It is all about finding the right raw materials and recipes. Which means I can start wandering around in search of materials.

I haven't ventured outside the starter town much yet. The world feels big and scary. Which in a awesome feeling. The map is not all that precise either, which only makes it even better. Fortunately I have a horse now. I just have to remember where it is because it doesn't disappear into your bag after you dismount. It just stays where you left it.

Of course there are issues too. The graphics are not super, there are still tonnes of bugs, including a broken power that requires relogging on the very first quest. It also is rather AnarchyOnline-ish in not being very clear about certain steps you are supposed to take. I actually like all those issues. The world isn't perfect, but it is a world, my brave new world.

Monday, October 26

How things change

It's take a while but at some point he describes the Internet community in a way that's completely opposite of how anyone would describe it today.

This and other interesting things can be found in the Article/Timeline A people's history of the Internet. It's rarely techy but a good trip through memory lane, with some things you may have heard of peripherally but never connected with what would later become the Internet.

Wednesday, October 21


A few years ago I bumped into a wonderful, wonderful little browser game called Samorost 2. I remember sharing my joys at that time with the folks of GameAmp, and I got Jeni all worked up a bit with it. Especially the art style made it something special. I happily spent the $5 to play the full version just to thank the makers for the work they had done.

Yesterday all of a sudden I received an email from them stating they have completed their first full-scale game. I haven't tried out the free demo yet since I was busy playing a crappy FPS, but I definitely will! Here is the full email I received


After three years of hard work we finally finished our first full-scale
game Machinarium. Please visit our website where you can try to play
web-demo (3 levels). If you will like it, you can buy the full version
for download on the website.


Amanita Design

I hope you, the readers of Yammob, will give it a try as well.

I didn't listen

And so far I don't regret it. I had more fun in this tutorial than I had in FallOut3's tutorial.

Monday, October 19

Too good?

Yesterday I got the change to play my beloved City of Villains again with the usual Sunday gang. Due to travelling both by me (mostly me) and them we have hardly played at all the last few months. Thus this Sunday almost felt like a reunion event. With the latest issue (issue 16?) they have improved the ease at which to team up and specify the challenge even further.

City of Heroes/Villians already had the best team friendly features available with their sidekick/mentor options, but they now went even a step further. Now anybody can join any group, and everybody gets scaled to settings and level of owner of the chosen mission. You can now specify how big the groups of enemies should be, how many levels above your level (that was already there), whether you want bosses when playing solo, whether you want arch villains or 'just' elite bosses.

After playing together for over 4 years now we are a well oiled killing machine, so we pushed everything to the max. Enemy groups are scaled to 8 player, +4 in level, with multiple bosses. It was hectic! We died a few times due to just too much spandex, but we always got our revenge. The only thing we couldn't handle were the Arch Villains. They became 6 levels above us, and they just healed faster than we could scratch them. Especially against Lord Recluse himself we got seriously whipped.

So what am I crying about in the title of this post? I am not sure really. But I have the feeling they are grasping for straws. The community is ever swindling down. Champions Online is pulling the already not too big superhero players away (for a while). The great thing about these changes is that I can always play with my friends, which is brilliant. I wish I could do that in Aion. But it also means for most players the story of the game is becoming less and less relevant. It is more and more just about the action, xp and grind. It is also enabling solo play even further. That does allow you to get the story, so maybe my point is not so valid. I don't know. It is probably just all good. Especially for a close group like the one I am part of. But I still have a lingering feel of loss. It is just another piece of the original charm of COH/V that got lost.

PS. I still don't understand why no other MMO has ever bothered to implement even close to the same sidekick/mentor system. It is an essential feature if you want people to sticking to your game.

Sunday, October 18

A classic reimagined

The original Aliens versus Predator game is one of the two FPS games I truly enjoyed, the other being Delta Force 2. The creepy atmosphere of both the Colonial Marine and Alien campaigns were incredible. Needing to use non-infinite flares to light your way through dark corridors with that classic *beep* *beep* of the motiontracker, starting to panic when you hear the skitter skitter of a fachugger somewhere nearby... Rushing through complexes as an alien, going up and down walls & ceilings as easily as the floor, to the point where you'd sometimes would let go of CTRL (the stick to walls button) and fall sideways to the right rather than straight forward as you were expecting. Trying to kill everyone using the special timed headbite attack, e.t.c.
The Predator campaign was great to if in a slightly different way, that was mostly about the cool different weapons you had at your disposal. Something a lot of people got from generic FPS games, but for me those always ammounted to bigger is better. The Predator's weapons were about finesse, and bagging trophies.

Multiplayer was fun too, with different game modes like Hunt the Alien (Called Feeding Time for the Alien) to a co-op Mission where you and your Marine buddies would have to defend a bunker from horde after horde of Aliens until you ran out of ammo or they tore the bunker apart and then you. Yes, Valve stole that concept and made a whole game out of it.

The AVP2 game tried to be more of same with obligatory extra's like bigger guns, badder aliens preddier Predators which ultimately failed. It's a game where being true to the original material (not talking the AVP Movies here actually) but the Alien and Aliens movies works the best. So maybe this reimagining of the concept will allow us to recaputre some of that sheer terror of the COlonial Marine, the stalking hunter of the Alien and that of the Bad Ass prowling Predator in a true to concept manner.
The second

Tuesday, October 13

Fallen Earth

Fallen Earth got released. That went pretty sneaky. I thought it was still in early beta. Should I care? Strangely enough it is not yet for sale at play.com, so I assume it is not yet released for the European market. But since I am here (the states) now anyway, should I pick up a copy (or two)?

Friday, October 9

Live music always gets to me

This has nothing to do with our MMO adventures, or even anything gaming related. But I am excited enough about it that I just had to make little blog entry about it.

Nowadays it happens rarely that I go to a concert. One of the reasons is that I don't know anybody locally that is into the same music as me. But some of my friends in Chicago are still frequent concert goers. And sometimes I get lucky enough that my work visits coincide with a band playing at one of the venues around the city. Last year I got lucky that my friend had a spare ticket to see Sigur Rós live. Although I returned back home all filled with musical joy, I didn't go to any other concert since.

But this week I got lucky again. Yo La Tengo was in town! In my student days I had accidentally discovered them while watching a Hal Hartley movie. I just found out they are already making their perfect blend of dreamy tunes with utter chaotic guitar noise for 25 years. But their music is so timeless. The performance they gave for a small 500 people crowd at the Vic Theatre still felt like they are making great original music.

These days when I listen to the radio (mostly XFM) I have too often the feeling all music has been made already. All new music I hear is just a rehash of stuff already done. Much like MMOs, I guess. (Woohoo! I managed to pull in a MMO reference) Now I don't say Yo La Tengo are the saviours of modern rock, but being at a concert and be really pulled into their music does mean they do something right. Then again it could just be me getting excited about nearly every concert I go. But I think they really make some brilliant tunes worth listening too. It is one of those bands whose music comes very close to the way I am.

Their music works best if you hear a couple songs, or preferably an entire album, in a row. But would be hard to link here, and probably not that useful either. But I couldn't resist to post a few links.

Tuesday, October 6

Some Aion Screenies

Our MMO-ness has dried up a bit, so I will do a few not too impressive screenshots from Aion. There are actually quite a few very lovely sceneries around the Aion's world, but I have even seem to have lost the art of taking screenshots.

This one was at the prison camp. I don't really know why it was called like that since it was actually a misty graveyard. It had some interesting mobs that made me change tactics a bit. Not too much, it was still pretty easy prey, but I actually had to sit down for a second to heal up a bit. And I finally thought of pressing the PrtSc button.

The sight of that ship, the cows in the mist, and the danger of roaming predators made this a lovely spot. I got quite lucky to be here on a quite moment. The noices of ten other players hacking into random creatures around you does spoil some of the effect.

This is just a close up of Chennie. I think she looks lovely. They have put a lot of detail in the face and body. You can really make quite unique characters. Unfortunately at these early levels almost everybody wears the same clothes, so you don't feel as unique as I would like to do.

Here I finally figured out that pressing F12 hides the HUD. The size of these elephantish giants doesn't really come out. They are huge! Fortunately for me they are just standing there looking cute.