Friday, May 29

I am keeping up with the world

It is a shame that Terre D'Ange was not in the list of countries.

Tuesday, May 26

Aion Sunday Screenshot Show off part dieux

Nobody snagged it so I thought i'd do another :)

Some rather nice detail on the back of a players armour, Aion does players and NPCs extremely well

I cant help but be reminded of WoW with this games use of bright colours and high fantasy setting, WoW failed at simple landscape textures big time while Aion pulls it off quite nicely, the textures on those mountain look much better in 3D, that waterfall is animated nicely too.

Went straying into areas I shouldn't, came across this player, in the hot desert background she fitted rather nicely. It's a shame you can't see it, theres a lovely animation effect in this desert, stand still and everything has a slight wavey effect like extreme heat produces, it's a very nice touch

Made a new friend, luckily for me he's an herbivore

After all that running about and killing stuff it's probably time to sit and read a book with a nice cup of cocoa. Loved the lighting in the Asmodian library and the textures are nothing short of brilliant in these interiors

As one 15 day trial ends another begins...This time I am getting to The Abyss, I was short of 2 lvls the last time.

Meet MsAnthropy - same class, different gender.

End of day one at lvl 12, she's a fast learner.

Monday, May 25


My mom has Alzheimer.
With a 90% certainty. One can only achieve 100% certainty by drilling a holl in the skull and taking fluid samples. Something which surgeons aren't allowed to do here in Europe. Not for the purpose of determining Alzheimer's disease anyway. I believe it is done in the US though.

As is often the case with "young" Alzheimer patients, the disease is progressing much more rapidly than with the truly geriatric. Since my mom's verbal excellence and career as a medical secretary, the diagnosis has been made between 12 and 18 months later than it would have with someone without those 'benefits'. So mom is probably closer to the onset of phase two of Alzheimer's than the beginning of the disease.

This might go a long ways towards explaining why I'm often in such a nostalgic mood of late.
We're talking memories, the past and also the future a lot. The latter topic being the most painful by far. The oldest memories survive the longest and when your dad used to be a photographer by profession you tend to have a lot of photo's, albums full of them in fact.

As those haven't all withstood the time equally well, we're now scanning them in for future use.
Aides for mom to remember us by. I picked out this one and put it on my USB stick to take home with me as it brought a smile to my face:

Three guesses as to who that is.
The text is Dutch, but I'm not sure it needs translating.

Saturday, May 23

I wonder if I can get my Joystick to work with W7

5/23/2009 03:11:00 PM:

You can see my Joystick at 3:37, probably sooner but that's the shot that made me get that Joystick.
Battletech will always have a warm spot in my heart, despite what Microsoft decided to do to it with that Darkages crap.
Mechwarrior 3 and 4 are classics. So is Mech Commander

5/25/2009 0:11:00 AM:

As it happens, my Joystick does work with Windows 7, but it's not the one featured in the video.
That is a Microsoft Sidewinder, which had the average lifespan in the hands of teenage boys like myself of less than two weeks.
So, after two weeks of playing Mechwarrior 4 I needed a new one, something not by Microsoft.

I went and got me a Thrustmaster Top Gun Fox 2 Pro:

Which, besides being so durable it's still working fine almost a decade later, has the added benefit of having a thumb-flippable switch-cover. You know? Like in Airwolf? With the miniguns? Anything can be made cooler by adding thumbable switch-cover. Either for mini-guns, afterburners or jet-packs.

The game actually runs on Windows 7 as well. Too bad it's not set up for widescreen monitors so everything looks like a 4:3 movie on a 16:9 TV but it's remarkably fun to play still.

Friday, May 22


Dark days are coming

Lani's post yesterday on Funcom's financial report made me look a bit into the Secret World again. It had started off a few years back as some sort of mix between the world of Dreamfall, an internet story mystery, and a vague promise of an MMO. In those early days it was dubbed Cry Gaia. I read through the stories and clues that were mostly created by forum junkies, but it was highly intriguing. But somehow I lost track of it all.

Apparently the name Cry Gaia got lost. I liked the vagueness of promise it had, but I guess Funcom wants to give 'us' something more tangible. So now it is Secret World. A visit to the official website left me both excited and disappointed. The initial view still has that mystery feel to it. It doesn't look like it is going to be a standard MMO. So of course I went to watch the movie clip. It looks to die for. The setting is great, the atmosphere perfect, even the character looks like somebody I would love to visit any world with. But it ends with a bit of an FPS feel. It could really easily turn into some kind of multi player Resident Evil clone. Based on the what Cry Gaia was all about, and what even Funcom represents to me, that would be a major shift. So I have my hopes still high enough thinking that won't happen.

Although I don't want to read too much about games that are still a year and more away, I couldn't resist to google some more. And I found a lengthy preview on Eurogamer. So if you are interested enough have a read here. But definitely go watch the clip.

Thursday, May 21

Blood for the Sports God!

Riding the wave of Warhammer Fantasy Goodness , the franchise that brought you things such as Pop Khorne and the Nurgle Burger (the only burger that bites back) has returned to the silver screen. I mean, the LCD screen. Or your TV set.
I'm talking about Blood Bowl!
The only Football game where it's accepted behavior to throw fireballs at the opposition and where Ogres don't just toss the ball, they toss the Goblin holding the ball. Now that's a touchdown!
Yup, Cyanide studio has made what looks like a very good remake of the old board game.

I used to play the board game of this game in my teens as a whymsical break from serious P&P RPG or tabletop battles. Despite the tongue in cheek gruesome mayhem that results when you put things like Skaven and Orcs on a battlefield, I mean greens of a sporting arena it was quite the tactical game as well. It never was about winning though, it was about trying out ridiculous tactics to wipe out the opposing team completely. Ok, maybe it was about winning, just a bit.

I have yet to find video footage of that playstyle but apparently Old Skool turn based gameplay is an option. Which is a good thing. The remake of Speedball II didn't do so well despite being very faithful to the original mainly because the people who remember it fondly also fondly remember when they still had the reflexes for that kind of fast action :-)

Planned minimum system requirements:


Planned recommended system requirements:


But going by this last player made video I'll at least give the arcade version a try :-)

Currently, the estimated release date for the PC version is June 18th, the release date for Nintendo DS and PSP versions is June 2009, however, the Xbox 360 version has been announced to be held back till September. Bugger those Quality Assurance processes :-/
The game screams Xbox/Lazy chair at me so I guess I'll have to wait. Maybe check out some more player vids before committing might be a good thing.

Funcom Quarterly FInancial Report

Funcom have released their Q1 report, which you can read here.
It's interesting to note that they appear to have a financial year that coincides with the regular calendar. I.e. Q1 means December 31 2008 - March 31 2009.
Anyone really interested in things like this can read the full version.
If not, here are the highlights as I see them.

This slide above shows Quarterly Revenues. Q2 was the time of Age of Conan's Launch, Q3 was when everyone was leaving the game in droves. With Q4 and Q1/09 the slow road to recovery.
So why is the huge peak of revenues in Q3 then? Credit Card transaction delay dropping the majority of box sales into Q3? Dunno.

The project focus for Age of Conan seems to be pretty much what they've been saying for a while now. Didn't know the class overhaul was an RPG system. But hey, I use the old skool definition of RPG where the "R" has a meaning. We also see some disparity between Dev/Corp perception of this update and the playerbase which, according to what I gathered from Evil Geek is awaiting the change with trepidation rather than anticipation.

Long term project planning. It's good to see Funcom still dares to do so.
In the PDF itself you can see some preliminary work on their Free2Play initiatives. The world apparently needs more casual web based MMO's to be included in Facebook and such.
Oh well, these things appear to be the dotcom bubble all over again. No-one makes money off of them, but you get lots of venture capital for them.

The Secret World seems to be an actual project now. After years of announcements they are now in their first iteration of combat and mission systems. Personally I wish they'd drop this and apply the team to Longest Journey #3 instead. I don't want to wait another 10 years for the final of that trilogy.

Wednesday, May 20

Aion review: Familiar faces

This is going to be my "Eurogamer Review" of Aion.
By which I mean to say I really didn't put in enough hours to write a decent one with any kind of authority but I'm going to do one nonetheless.
The upside to this is that it's likely to spur on Geeky to go and write a really good one debunking all my mistakers and errors in the process. Two for two so to speak :-)

Some caveats:
The review is based upon my experiences with the Chinese version of the game with a bootleg EN L10N pack, which means (besides there not being skeletons in graveyards but burrowing beetles instead) that I had horrible lag throughout my testing.
Also, I haven't played so far that I got my Wings. My highest level Asmodean is level 8 now, pretty close I suspect.
And finally I may be tweaking the lay-out of this post after publication.

On to the actual review!

The first thing you notice about the game is the login screen, which seems vaguely familiar. Let me just get right through it. Several years ago NCSoft decided to start work on a third installment of the Lineage franchise. About two years into that project, a major chunk of the game's source code was stolen. Unlike Valve NCSoft saw this as such a disastrous stroke that they abandonded the L3 project. However, the L3 team wasn't scratched but went on to work on an MMO using a completely new IP. This is Aion.

Throughout my trials and turbulations within the world of Aion I could not help but feel this game is really a more pollished version of Lineage II. And I mean that in a good way by the way. In much the same way that Vanguard can often feel like an EverQuest III, except without the extra pollish that Aion has.

Character Creation:

It starts at character creation where you can pick from Archtype classes much the same way. Warrior, Scout, Mage and Priest. Ok, exactly like Lineage II. The Scout, my first choice for a character, can specialize into an Assassin or a Ranger. The boys from NCSoft even added a few very familiar faces to the 20 or so default "mugshots" you can pick from.

Beyond that, you have tons and tons of customization options. Some 40 odd hairdo's 20 "Faces" and thirty facial element sliders. There's a bunch of body sliders as well, with the Booby Slider divided into chest and torso sliders. Go knock yourself out. All the thumbnails on the left are linked to full size versions, so take a peek if you will.

Since there's only one race, very little information is provided in that regard. You do get some basic information on the statisitcs of each class. Since there are absolutely no surprises there, I won't bore you with them.

The Interface:

With most games, I immediately start looking for means to modify the Interface. Something is always not where I want it. So it is with Aion.
The first pleasant suprise though was how elegant yet minimalistic it looked. You can tell they spent effort to make it so that it detracts as little as possible from your viewing pleasure, yet when you become aware of the UI, it's not ugly either. The second surprise of the sort was that the game comes with two "HUD Options" out of the box. One where most Info is at the top and one where it's at the bottom. The nasty surprise is that I now have pretty much summed up all the customizations options now. There's still some minor tweaking you can do, but this is definately not a western style MMO (read WOW clone) with a LAU (Luai?) XML derived moddable interface. WHich makes sense for an RvR game.

As I said before, I haven't been able to truly spread my wings in the game yet, so I can't tell yet whether or not the UI 'works' while in flight.

NPC Dialogue is pretty standard, with big clear "buttons" to click to progress through the dialogue. You have to click them though, no pressing 1,1,1 then read the tracker. I like how the Quest tracker works. When you get a new job, it'll flash for 10 seconds during which you can decide whether to put it on there permanently or let it fade.
The latter is liable to happen with "Kill ten Reds" quests. For the more "complex" quests the tracker provides a good amount of information.
Having Quest / NPC locations show on your minimap takes some work and feels a bit clunky, going through several popup windows. However, this means you tend to spend more time looking on your own rather than following the breadcrumb trail which isn't actually in there. And that's a Good Thing™

Combat & Gameplay:

Combat, for the Rogue anyway, is somewhere in between Lineage II's click-your-macro-and-go-make-some-coffee and Western Style 4 Skillbarr click fests. although the game provides you with 4 optional skillbars, so this may end up being more Western than classic Korean.
Skills are bought and have the usual level requirements. I did like that there's a high level of passive skills. I also saw the beginning of some rudimentary combo's or "Chain Skills" as they're called. I haven't progressed beyond a basic one so how complex they become is unknown to me. I did get the impression it's more along the lines of EverQuest II's "Heroics" than more involved systems like Age of Conan or LotRO's Warden Gambits. But I may be proven wrong.

Talking about Skillbars reminds me of another way that this game keeps whispering "Lineage III", Emotes work exactly the same as in Lineage II. Down to the icons being higher resolution versions of the same. Makes sense though.

The Graphics:
Graphics wise the game has progressed way beyond Lineage II of course. The Character Models look like they spent a year and a half just on those. Oh, running animations and a lot of the combat moves, not to mention armor and weapon looks, will give L2 veterans de-ja-vu.

In fact, the Character Models are so good they stand out from the background a bit too much on occasion.
The landscape, while heavily "localized" to the world's setting, reminds me a lot of Elder Scrolls 3: Oblivion without the grasses. The Models are of Age of Conan quality though. This isn't a problem while you're moving around as stuff moves to fast to really notice. It's not much of a problem when standing still either, but on screenshots the difference can become telling. I actually checked whether I was running on lower quality settings for environment a few times. Nope. All sliders set to max.

The upside of this is of course performance, something that's important in an RvR game, and probably a boon to fast moving flight as well. So it's not that much of a biggy. Only a rambling perfectionist like myself would deign to notice it :-)

The World:

For some reason I can't find it in me to get into the world's background. Heck, I keep calling it "the world" for a reason...
I've been playing Asmodean as that's what the Mutants are on and I do get the impression NCSoft worked hard at making them a real race with their own psychology that not quite bad, but more mercenary like and Yankee style resource depleting scavenger/stripmining mentality. (Sorry Yanks, but you did do that for years on end). The same was done for the other race I understand.
But it's still oriental Shiny Happy People versus Goths.

In stead I enjoyed noticing how the game may be Lineage III in tons of ways, there's also several differences. NCSoft is clearly aiming at the Final Fantasy market, meaning lots of cute antropomorphic creatures.

Again, this is a smart thing. Lineage II is so big in Korea they can have dating shows on TV where participants are drawn from the L2 Playerbase pool. Aion looks set to be directly competing with NCSoft's previous flagship game. Aiming at the predominantly Japanese market of FFXI Online makes a great deal of sense. Especially since Sony's repeatedly dropping the ball on that end. SOE's attempts to fix that are still a year or so off. Still I wonder how Aion's success in the East has affected L2 player numbers there.

The game will definately have a bigger appeal to Western players than L2 did. Mostly because it's more pollished and accessible. I doubt it'll be a WOW killer though. If the RvR ends up being more meaningful than WAR''s is it'll do better than that game I warrant. It's not a game for the Hardcore PvP crowd I bet. Those people are better of trying to get into Darkfall I suspect.

Caveat to my caveats, I have a sneaky suspicion that this lag wasn't caused by network issues but by the combination of Aion's use of Gameguard and my (experimental) Windows 7 version of Kaspersky. The latter employs heuristic scanning along with signature matching and this tends to bite with things like Gameguard which is essentially a spyware program used for "good" purposes.
Since games that use things like Gameguard have immutable laws where Gameguard lagging means you have to wait for Gameguard to approve your attack (30 second delays sometimes) no such restrictions apply to the NPC's. This means I die a lot when I shouldn't. I hope this is fixed before a Western launch or that nobody realizes both the Gameguard & Anti-virus processes are spiking when you lag, or this may be a very detrimental thing for NCSoft's chances at another MMO success.

A thin line between two virtual worlds

One of the many pleasures of travelling is that you have a lot of times nothing else to do but sit in a chair. And one of the most pleasant things to do is reading a book. Although I love reading a good book, I often don't seem to be able to find the time to do so. There are always rats that need killing, or armor that needs to be finished. But that is not really the point of this post.

I had carried the fourth book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. The book starts off in a small secluded land isolated by the rest of the world. The people living there, known as Teblor, have a very savage way of living. Their status in their tribe is based on how many trophies they can collect from raiding nearby opposing tribes. The main character, Karsa Orlong, is a young man foolishly pride and ready to take on the world to prove his tribe is the best. He sets of on a quest with a few fellow tribes men to find and kill as many lowlanders as possible, and anything along the way as well. His plan is to rule all.

As I read through the proceedings couldn't stop myself from thinking that this is not Karsa Orlong, the Teblor, but Syncaine, the Darkfall player. Although I am not living my life nor playing my game like either of these two persons, I get pulled in by their enthousiasm about what they do. And it makes me think how I would do living in their worlds. As I am reading on Karsa Orlong goes on his quest with two fellow tribesmen. Soon they find their first opponents, a hunting party that just return from the woods carrying a huge deer. It is a fight of ten against three, but thanks to clever strategy and skill they kill all 10 without problem. It was like reading this blog entry, only with a lot more details and lovely better prose.

When I was reading Syncaine's ramblings I was sort of intrigued by a world where you will really have to rely on your friends. It is a wonderful feeling to accomplish something together. And really weaving your own virtual stories. But the more brutal and realistic way Erikson depicts it made me realize I will never be able to do it. Even in a virtual world I can't get myself to attack or kill somebody for the simple reason because he is in front of me. Even helping out others so they can kill whoever is in front of them doesn't sit right. I guess I am too much a roleplayer to not be able to distinguish the difference between a competitive game and actual killing a virtual person.

Just as that I love reading how the Karsa Orlong's quest is progressing (he is already at Raraku) I like reading about the drama around Darkfall. But I know I will never enjoy playing a game where I am supposed to kill other players. It might even go further than that. I am actually troubled when I realized how many people really loved killing others. Maybe I should go play Animal Crossing.

Monday, May 18

Oops! Multicore FTW!

Well, I just had a lovely evening with Phè kicking some rat ass and discovering that killing 10 Reds is more challenging than 10 Rats and that I can stretch a pun too far.
After Phè logged for dinner I decided to try a performance tip I saw fly by in regional chat and set my anisotrophic filter to 2x which supposedly is good with ATI cards.

As is often the case when Vanguard is involved, this GFX engine doesn't just have quircks it runs on quirk mechanics, this experiment hung the client. When I finally got my shiny new Windows 7 desktop back I noticed something on my CPU monitor. On a side note, Windows 7 shows that Microsoft still can't make Dekstop Gadgets that don't look like shit. I find myself still using Yahoo Widgets which predate the Vista versions.

Anyhoo, I saw that one of my 8 cores was still running at 100%, so I figured there'd be a runaway VG process. Nope. It turns out that after setting it up to make screenies the way I want it, I'd never bothered to properly configure Fraps' video side and this means that every time I accidentally hit F9 I was making a full-scale dual monitor resolution video, unless I happened to be playing in FUll screen mode. As it happened tonight I'd been taping almost our entire play session :-)

I also got about 3 hours worth of Lord of the Rings and a little bit of Aion on my harddisk.
The cool thing is that apparently I can have Fraps do full-scale video without me noticing any performance loss. I love my I7 CPU :-D
The RAID1 probably helped too.

England is part of Europe again!

Well, at least as far as The Chronicles of Spellborn is concerned. Originally the UK got a very weird short stick when Acclaim decided they wanted to be the publisher of TCOS in the UK for some reason. While the rest of Europe got full access to the Enclave via Frogster, the UK players could only hope for a beta spot via Acclaim's strange delayed release. But apparently with the latest patch (dubbed a bunch of server changes are made. Here is the official email I got.

Upcoming Server changes

As The Chronicles of Spellborn is now available nearly worldwide and so in many more countries in Europe we decided to change the server structure of the game. Due to that fact all characters from German and French servers will be moved onto the International servers that are bigger to provide common servers for all European players. After the migration, existing Spellborn players from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Scandinavia and Benelux can play together alongside the newly-arrived players from Great Britain, Spain, Italy, and other European countries who have come to the Spellborn worlds through the Acclaim release. This will allow international player communities and guilds to interact on common Spellborn servers in the future. In making this move, the developer and publisher follow the long-standing wish of the international community.

The current plan is that both the German and French PvP servers will be merged with the International server on Monday, the 18th of May 2009 and the German and French PvE servers on the next day, Tuesday, the 19th of May 2009.

A detailed FAQ about the server changes can be found here.

I have no idea if this means I can now buy/play the game via Frogster, or if I still need to go to Acclaim, or even if this means Acclaim and Frogster players are all on the same server. I don't even know if I care. But the game still has a little soft spot for me, so the least I could do was posting this.

Vanguard fun

Let me start with apologizing for not having any pictures in my post. It seems I have lost the art of screenshotting. But after Geek's blast of beauty I think I can be a bit gray. Especially since it is Monday.

It is already over two months again that I have returned to Telon, the world of Vanguard. In that time I have managed to mostly ignore my old characters and in stead walk the world with my new toon, Taqe Kiyuni. She is a warrior, weaponsmith and diplomat. The new content they created for the first 10 levels on the Isle of Dawn makes it very hard not to enjoy all three disciplines. So I got all three of them to the starting island limit of 10. And then it was off to the big bad world.

Since I enjoyed the diplomacy part the least I have put that on hold, and concentrated on adventuring and crafting. The adventuring I do together with Lani. Taking on the quests that Vanguard passed our way as a duo is great fun. Since we are two of the three holy trinity parts we can manage about anything. It was actually only after three weeks of play I realized I was a warrior. All along I thought I was a dread knight. The fact I had not even realized that gives some indication how much I am into my fighting options and skills.

Due to Lani's weird working schedule and my weird vacationing there are lots of times we are not together. And that's when I ran off to the East Angoer Bunker to craft and craft and craft. I love this part of Vanguard. The simple joys of figuring out the most efficient way of making my items and the serene quietness of the gnome's waterfront bunker made me progress to a level 20 crafter within a week or two.

Our adventuring quests had taken us to Qalia as well, and we worked our way through almost all the quests around the Qa Riverbank. Especially the journey deep inside the hive was a lot of fun. Eventually we worked our way all the way to the Zarabadi's Landing where we got a flying mount on loan. Our time together seems to be limited to only once or twice a week, so there is not too much progress, but we are having fun, and that is what counts afterall.

So back to crafting again. Once I made it to level 21 I could start learning my tier3 specialization. This involved some running around to find all the right master crafters. And since each continent has their own masters I had to criss-cross a lot of places on my loyal horse. I gave me the feeling I am doing a lot more exploring as crafter than as adventurer. As adventurer you only have to make a few steps from a riftstone (teleport point) and there is 5 levels worth of quests waiting for you. As crafter I had to take my horse to far away locations like Mekalia, Leth Nurea, Cai'al Brael.

After I completed my tier3 on Kojan (my home continent) and Qalia (where I crafted a lot at the gnome bunker) I had to go to Thestra for the first time. Since I had not build up any faction points yet most crafting masters ignored me. One way to get the faction is to do more workorders, but I was impatient and wanted those recipes fast. So I decided to see if there were some special crafting quests around Thestra I could do. As it turned out there are plenty. Every city I visited had some work for me. Some are simple give-me-some-items quests. Which involves having to talk to other crafters to get the items. But most involve exploring all kind of places and running around a lot. The kind of stuff I love.

One quest line in particular was wicked fun. I think it got introduced not too long ago. At least it was all new to me. There is a group called the banishers that try to fight the Order of Mythos. That order is the main cause of all otherworldly evil that is plaguing Telon. And I got to change to fight them. The fight did not involve any sword swinging, but crafting different kind of devices and traps and what not, and visit all the corners of New Targonor and Ahgram. I had so much fun I even got up an hour earlier in the morning a few times (jetlag might have something to do with that too) to run around a bit before going to work. And it even made me bring my old characters to live to help out with some leather and tailoring work.

But to all good things comes an end. I finished the entire banisher quest line, and I am now an official banisher. As usual after finishing a great story I felt a bit lost afterwards. I felt I should stop crafting for a bit and finish up a few adventuring quests we had outgrown or had not handed in yet. So my not so mighty warrior self went back to Qa Riverbank to slaughter some goats. I got to the right spot, and managed to kill one. Whoopido! It didn't got me the hide I was after. Of course I got attacked by the herder that was not happy with me and although he was a few levels below me, I still got hurt quite a bit. And I realized I didn't really had much fun. So I logged off.

So that got me thinking. What do I really want?

I don't really feel like jumping into the next game to slaughter those goats there. The reason I like Vanguard so much is because I really enjoy the crafting sphere. And so I got back to something I brought up a few years back on the Vanguard gameamp forums as well. Could there be an MMO that has no fighting at all? Vanguard is coming a long way in it. But ultimately I am crafting to supply goods for the adventurers. So maybe crafting on its own is not enough to sustain a character/game. I will probably get bored with it too eventually if I have no real goals to chase.

Another problem is that it is becoming more and more a single player game to me. Crafting is a solo activity, and due to the fact I am playing on an already low population US server there is really hardly any interaction at all. Even if I would get serious with my warrior. But this get me into the lost art of socializing which I wanted to turn into other post.

So I'll stop rambling now. After reading it back it is not much of post at all. Really just rambliing. Sorry for making you read through it all. I'll do pictures next time. Maybe.

Sunday, May 17

(un)Surprising Sunday Screenshot Show off

Lani made some subtle comment about me posting some Aion screenshots so here ya go fresh from the Chinese retail client, I'm 2 days in to a 2nd 15 day trial, expect a very long (6 A4 atm) review and more screens come the end of it :) As you can see Aion is very much High Fantasy..

Aion is RvR, my first 15 days spent on the Elyos side:

Evil Geek in his first incarnation

A handsome devil enjoying the View of the Elyos capital (Sanctum)

Sanctum from a distance

EG had pets (of course!) failing the undead this Fire Spirit gave as good as it got
One of many very nicely done NPC's throughout the game, this kind lady healed your soul for a price..dunno who that pink haired player was who snuck into the shot

For the start of the 2nd 15 days it's time to move over to the Asmodian side

EvilGeek in his Asmodian incarnation, those black wings and sideburns are the biz! (gets through socks like they are going out of fashion ..)

Asmodian newby area, colourful lake teaming with wildlife
Asmodian capital - Pandaemonium
Chillin in a lush interior

After a busy day crafting potions (maybe those workstations gave it away?)
That bird has me in its talons, don't worry it's just transport

Friday, May 15

The Saga of Ryzom

A few days back I received an email stating that Ryzom is alive again! It died twice, but it is back again. I had played it for a few weeks 3 years ago but got pulled back into City of Heroes. So when I got this email I decided download it and play the completely free trial account. Of course I twisted Lani's arm to join me as well. Somehow we missed each other, but yesterday evening we were both there. Despite not having seen Lani it was still a joy to make my first steps again into a once familiar territory.

The game does look its age, and despite being 3 years old it could use more polish on the UI. But the characters are looking good, and they move around very smooth. The wildlife is even better. A wide range of creatures occupy the world all with quite distinctive movement. And the whole futuristic/alien planet feel works quite well.

The character progress is set in four categories. Fighting, Magic, Foraging and Crafting. At time of creation you can give your character an edge in one of these four categories. But it doesn't really lock you in. In fact, the whole character set up / progression is very close to Geek's Towards a deep skill system. You can combine multiple powers into new ones, and with every 5 or 10 levels in progress in any of the four categories new 'powers' become available at the various trainers.

I don't know (nor recall) how it all worked. I think when I originally played the game I didn't get high enough to really figure it all out. And maybe I was just not hardcore enough to do it :)

The screenshots are not made by me since for some reason I can't figure out where the game is putting them, or whether it actually created them. So I just grabbed some screenshots from here. I am sure even better screenshots can be found elsewhere. But even better would be if you all just sign up and join us. You can do all that here.

I had already my moment of evilness. One of the first tasks I got send to do was to kill a few Yubos. They are cute little wombats. Like most creatures in Ryzom they are kind of curious. So when I was standing around in their area they started noticing me and a couple of came towards me and even went as far as standing of their hind legs begging me to be pet. But unfortunately I only had a knife and a acid spell. But the other yubos didn't mind so much I killed their buddy.

I haven't seen them yet, but I recall their are predators around as well. They will be hunting the poor yubos as bad as me. And probably think I am pretty tasty as well. Good thing there are things to look forward to :)

Free Fickle Friday Freenshots

Because I wanted to add some self-made screenies of Ryzom, I'm putting this post forward a few days.

Maybe Geek'll do an Aion themed SSS to compensate.

*hint* *hint* *nudge* *nudge*

For those interested, the lay down on how to make skills of your own.

I was surprised by how lush the environment is, and how well the graphics withstood time.

Important Foraging lessons

Finally a trainer who understands me :-)

Back to vanguard for more screenies.

I know, I know. These are merely Level 13 mounts, nothing to write home about.
The lighting's nice though :-)

Hop aboard!

We have liftoff!

More LotRO Warden awesomeness

LotRO Sunsets are nice, only odd how the sun seems to go down in every angle of the compass, at the same time.

The water is awesome. Not AoC Awesome, but with double the FPS.
Best viewed in game though. Stills don't do it justice.

Damn! TIme to log and go to work...