Wednesday, October 26

Dragon Age: Redemption

Bioware is already blurring the lines between video games and movies. I have just (finally) finished Mass Effect this weekend. Not only is almost half the time spend on listening and watching cut scenes and dialogues. But most of the characters in the game have crossed the uncanny valley in my view. I am really looking forward to see how they manage to even improve on that in ME2, and ME3. And as that was not enough there is Dragon Age (Origins, II, Mark of the Assassin) as well. The near living characters make for me for very compelling game play.

Although I did want to tell the world about my ME1 accomplishments, I actually have a different reason for this post. The folks of The Guild are blurring the lines between game and movie even further with Dragon Age: Redemption. A high production quality web series that is extending the virtual Dragon Age world into a real one.
Hmm, no, not a real world. They are actors running around 21st century California. I can't think of a fitting term for the 'reality' they live in. But it doesn't matter. It is worth watching.

Saturday, October 15

How does this go again?

A multifunctional title there :-)
First of all it's such a long time that I posted something here, I'm having some trouble with some controls.

The same is also true for playing Fallen Earth. Such a simple chore as mining a copper node (Left) took some doing at first. I also haven't recalled yet how to make screenies in this game without telltale UI elements, so you'll have to put up with those for this post at least.

Fallen Earth relaunched as a F2P/P2P hybrid game last Thursday, and since appears to be buckling under its own success. Thursday evening I barely managed to be in game at all. I spent a lot of time in an empty character creation / selection screen waiting for my characters to load in from the old character server or wherever they were stored.

Oddly enough only one of my characters had made it through the original account merge process.
Due to some slight stupidity on my part I unlocked the freebie spiked chopper on this account before checking my old one for leftover characters. I later did go back and discoered that my L20 character and another toon were still there.
Since the account transfer/merge thingy overwrites any toons you may have on the gamerfirst side of things I ended up doing a second account for Olwyn (my L20) and my new toon Arezou which I'm using to get through the "How does this go again" phase of returning to any MMO.

On a side note. Have you noticed how global chat is really the same in any MMO? Regardless of the business model? It always seems to be full of people who are in the wrong game. Bitching about how "was/is/will be" so much better than the one they're currently playing. Either looking at an awesome game through the binoculars of nostalgia (while for some reason *not* playing said game) or with the pinkly tinted glasses of overexpectation at the Next New Thing (to disappoint them). Weirdest of all are the ones compalining how that other current game is so much better. Why aren't these people playing the games they obviously enjoy more? Sure, some comparison chatter is to be expected, and no game compares favourably to every other game on every topic. It's particularly hard to measure up to people's expectations of yet urneleased games, but often the bitching goes way beyond that.
Oh well. Some people just need to be muted.
On that note, the Help channel is really handy. Take a peek every 5 minutes, block everyone who asks questions USING ONLY CAPS and you're golden...

Getting my account sorted out and trying to get into the game e.t.c. took me most of Friday evening. About half the time servers were down and you'd be told to "check your Internet connection" by the client, showing how dangerous that is for a default message... Luckily the transfer service was still up. But due to a *lot* of people returning to the game this week as well as loads of newbie players giving it a go, the single server isn't really handling the load.

The game's tutorial has been revamped since we saw it last so it's about half the original length before you save the day by blowing up. Unfortunately one problem at this time is you get stuck at starting zone selection if you go through the tutorial. Took me a while to figure out I could bypass it at the start of the tutorial after a (possibly therapeutic?) pummeling of some in-the-way tech.

Once I got passed all that and wisely picked a Medium Population spot (Southern Burbs) over the High ones it was smooth sailing all day long. Well, a smooth ride, right up until the US woke up and doubled the load on that single server which promptly went down.

So, is the game worth all this trouble?
I kinda think it is. :-)
One of a studio's greatest fears for a Launch is (should be) being too popular for the infrasturcture to handle. This is clearly what's happening to Gamersfirst and the boys at Reloaded Productions. With eagle eyed hindsight it was probalby better to launch with at least one server each for EU and US.

Despite all that, the game's still very much fun, compulsively harvesting every node I come across and doing every crafting related quest I still managed to get up to Level 5 in about 6-7 hours of play and that's with the supposedly XP-crippled F2P account. I don't know if the feature was added by Fallen Earth LLC or Reloaded Productions who took over the torch, but someone seems to ahve added some nice features for toons having to play catch up. You now have a sleuth of Training Mutations. Abilities that you can sue up to level 15, giving you a little boost levelling up in a possibly rather lonely environment and giving ou a sense of the different ability trees at the same time.

All in all I'm very much enjoying my return to the apocalypse, when I can get in anyway.
My one point of criticism at this point is that Gamerfirst doesn't seem to really 'get' Marketplaces yet. With most of the buyable items over $10,- it's hardly a microtransactions scheme. The succesful F2P projects understand that you should primarily offer items under 5$, preferably around the 1-2$ range. Oh well, we'll see how things unfold.

Not sure if you guys are enjoying Invictus Europealis, I hope so. But if not, come see the Apocalypse (when/if the serverpark allows)

Wednesday, October 12

Vindictus Europealis

More than a year ago fracturedInfinity told us about Vindictus. He described it as 'It's kind of interesting'. I think he had a good time playing it for a while. But for some reason the rest of us were not allowed to play it. And for even more obscure reasons the European website for Vindictus was a static image with the text 'coming soon', and a facebook page that was just as dead (except for players begging for any kind of info). By May I had given up on it. Folks in the US had moved on, and I assumed the game had closed down.

But over the weekend I saw an advertisement for it on Rock,Paper Shotgun. So I followed the link and found out the game is live! Apparently they had been working on it behind the scenes, and it got released sometime in September. I downloaded it yesterday evening, played through the tutorial and wandered around town. It really looks good. Great graphics, easy controls, smooth character animations, and fun combat. When it came out in the US it was hailed as the game that proved that F2P can be high quality. I'm planning to find out if they were right.


I haven't made any screenshots yet, so I am 'borrowing' some screenies from fI. The characters I could chose from in the character creation screen seemd to be quite different. So maybe I'll never get to see the same things. The screenshots came from this post.