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, 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.