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10041  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 30, 2008, 09:25:41 PM
I bet when it releases, there will be more threads here than for Age of Conan. And then the inevitable backlash will occur.  icon_wink And then someone will create a, "Now that I've returned to Titan Quest Immortal Throne, it Really Was Awesome!"   icon_razz It won't be me, unless I get a bionic wrist...

If they can make "using the environment" an innate part of your combat skills (maybe dropping trees on big mobs for example, as well as what the video shows), that'll be by far the freshest injection I've seen into the "Diablo clones world" yet.  icon_cool

I'm also wondering if they're retaining or enhancing the Mercenaries (hireable NPC buddies) feature from Diablo II.

This has been a hard year for the "old" Diablo team what with DII Lead Designer Steig Hedlund's Gods & Heroes getting canceled before it ever launched, and Brevik, Roper and Co's Excellent Adventures in Hellgate. I forgot that they left Blizz (June 2003) long before WoW launched. There was actually a lot of hand-wringing back then about losing the Diablo "team." All water under the bridge now...
10042  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 30, 2008, 08:48:04 PM
Blasphemer!  icon_twisted

Just kidding. I don't begrudge anyone enjoying PVP. Glad it hooked you.  icon_cool In fact, I want them to make it better in AoC cause I know it's important for the game's long term future.

I just tend to play games to make some friends (however temporarily), and I generally have found co-op and the like more conducive to that. Getting face-stomped by someone who then runs away in glee, never found any friendships growing out of that.  disgust otoh, I have on occasion had friendships grow out of getting mutually PVP'd, and then working together (happened in Diablo "1" sometimes). Probably if I was in a PVP-focused guild that teamed a lot I might feel differently.

I think though I would get pretty ticked off if I traveled a zillion miles through various zones and then got wasted by someone as I was merrily running to Mr. NPC (esp. if I didn't have a mount). I think also if another player just waited until some AI enemies had worn me down, stepped in and finished me off, I think I'd be ticked off and wouldn't feel all that positive about the game anymore.

I have felt the sweat-inducing tension and occasional bursts of adrenaline in limited doses of PvP in City of Heroes and Ultima Online, but I'm generally more a fan of having designated PVP areas and not otherwise having to be paranoid that every other player I run into is going to stab me in the back. I know others find it invigorating. I think the key is to just give players both options, so I'm glad it seems to be providing that choice (even if it needs work).

On the solo side, I've seen some things that give me a little hope for unpredictability, including roving patrols with what appear to be unpredictable patterns, enemies that run away to get reinforcements (it seems, I'm not really sure what the heck they're doing sometimes  icon_razz) and then come back at you, and quest twists that can be a little surprising. I guess the danger of that is people who enjoy predictable grinding (like me, on occasion) can get upset when the AI suddenly does something unexpected or said roving patrol suddenly walks in on you when you thought you'd found a peaceful corner...
10043  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Mass Effect PC... Impressions? on: June 30, 2008, 05:05:16 PM
Target had a teeny-weeny sale ($2 off) so I picked it up today at lunch. I brought it inside my office to make sure it wouldn't melt in my car.  icon_smile
10044  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Classes thread on: June 30, 2008, 03:05:27 PM
They did mention something about improving the text descriptions of various things. Some of that may be just because English isn't their native language per se, though that doesn't explain having nothing at all for the "special powers." I'd love to just see a separate tab added for "special powers" so that you have at least a little insight into what they do, what triggers them, etc.

The other thing I could use is a quick hotkey for turning off certain things, like Lumbering Hulk. I love Hulk (Hulk smash! Oh, oops, wrong Hulk), but when you get overwhelmed and decide to run, the speed debuff is killer. afik, you have to right click and choose to turn it off from the buff icon up top in the UI (I don't think you can just hit the Lumbering Hulk hotkey again to turn it back off). I just find it a clumsy 2-step process when I'm running for my life.  icon_razz I might just be missing something there, but that was my understanding.

10045  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Classes thread on: June 30, 2008, 01:25:33 PM
Saw this pretty awesome "Conqueror's Compendium" thread at the EU forums. He even made it available separately as a FileFront downloadable file...

Conqueror's Compendium: A complete all-encompassing guide to the class

At 59 I could finally get the feat that enables 2-hand combos to trigger Furious Inspiration (until then it's basically only triggered if a teammate gets hit with melee damage):
What it is: A proc that all conqueror's receive at level 5, and improve on at level 10, without you ever knowing about it.
How to get it: Be grouped with someone who is struck with melee damage, or pick up feat Angel Fury in Brute tree and successfully complete a 2handed combo. There is a chance on group member getting hit this ability will proc and show up in your buff bar. It can proc very quickly, and will at the most reach 10 stacks, or 'rank' 10. The buff lasts for 15 seconds.
First: Learned at level 5. After 4 ranks are built up, it has a chance to heal your group members when they do any type of damage. It will heal for increasing amounts of health based on the amount of stacks, the maximum of which are 10 stacks. Thus, the largest heals will be cast at 'rank' 10 Furious Inspiration.

Second: Learned at level 10. After 10 'ranks' are built up, there is a chance on successful melee strike for you to cast FURIOUS RESURGENCE. This will resurrect any dead group members in one cast, i.e. you have four group members, one furious resurgence proc will res them all. Resurrected group members will res with 10% hp, mana, and stamina. [earlier, I was rezzing teammates with no idea I was doing anything...]

Third: Adds a self buff of +% damage, 2% for each rank, thus +6% damage for rank 3, and +20% damage for rank 10.

Fourth: Once Furious Inspiration is 'active', i.e. in your buff bar, you can hit Defiance for an additional heal (FI must be active for this skill). You must put a feat in Defiance to learn a new ability... Defiance. This ability, fully feated, will heal your group members for 223 hp at level 80. Improved defiance gains 333 mana/stamina as well.

Fifth: Similar to Defiance, Bladeweave must have a feat spent in it for you to have it. Once FI is up, you use this feat to increase the hit rate of your offhand.

Furious Inspiration will heal more hp based on its rank:
Rank 10 (24-35) Rank 9 (21-31) Rank 8 (18-26) Rank 7 (15-22) Rank 6 (12-17) Rank 5 (9-13) Rank 4 (6-8)
Furious inspiration will heal even more if fully feated (Improved Furious Inspiration)
Rank 10
It's pretty great stuff, but since the effects are random and it isn't listed on any of your abilities/skills list in-game, it's hard to get a handle on what it's all about. I just don't quite understand having a skill where you can't ever figure out what it does *in* the game [i.e., you have to exit the game and go Web surfing to figure out what it does]. I hope some day they provide some in-game information about it. icon_confused
10046  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan - All Your Questions Are Belong to Us! on: June 30, 2008, 01:20:52 PM
Fished around the EU boards, and there was a nice thread about "useful threads and blogs", much of it that would probably help answer any questions folks had:

The Unofficial Useful Posts Thread [links inside]
10047  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC official forum Dev Postings of note on: June 30, 2008, 01:11:34 PM
I hope you guys will let this thread remain focused on dev posts and not become the Optimist vs. The Pessimist discussion thread. icon_neutral

I'm just saying AO is/has had lots of technical teething pains so for the game director to say it's had surprisingly few technical problems seems like a strange thing to say.  icon_confused That's all I meant. And I was trying to have fun with it.  icon_razz I give AO credit for what it *became*, but the initial launch is still considered something of a historic launch disaster (along with World War II online the same year), but people learn from their mistakes and get better. AO is still running and getting updated (as Turbine continues to do with its venerable warhorse Asheron's Call).

As long as they can keep up this two-updates a week pace, I think AoC will be fine. They just need to be stubborn and keep ironing out the bugs, while keeping an eye on the end-game and PVP stuff (even if the latter doesn't interest me much).

I do think it's instructive that the game's popularity has far outstripped Funcom's expectations/projections (thus like Godager said, completely overwhelming them on the customer service side of things). I tend to fume about MMO launches not having enough servers, enough tech support, enough people but I doubt most businesses (esp. in today's economy) are comfortable spending a zillion dollars because they *think* they'll be popular. Certainly they hyped the game to the high heavens, but did they think it would sell a million copies (worldwide) so quickly, and sell it in so many places? It's kinda hard to tell -- if you guess wrong, you end up with Auto Assault (which I enjoyed, but which had roughly 8 mostly empty servers after launch).

Here's a new fan AoC news site that seems fairly useful. Check out the cool, supposedly leaked Ranger PvP armor: icon_cool
10048  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 30, 2008, 03:06:54 AM
I moved onto Atzel. Visually it's a pretty cool "glacial" world. I've run into mount bugs yet again there (I tried to dismount, and basically the game made my horse disappear but I remained in mounted position and while it was again hysterical to watch, it was frustrating to play.  disgust

Also, the Atzels have this nasty roving patrol and apparently "emergency kill the player team" of... well, it's a helluva lot of Atzels, and apparently if you fight a picket they'll go run to some horn thing, blow it, and bring this Raider group on you to kick your behind. As below...

Blackjackian may be "good" at 59, but he ain't That Good.  icon_evil icon_razz

I had a great time playing today but this particular zone's ticking me off, so it finally brought things to an end for the night.

However, I do think the screenshot would make a great Conan comic book cover.  ninja2
10049  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 30, 2008, 02:10:23 AM
Hey, interesting thing. Jay Wilson is the Diablo III Lead Designer:

Joystiq interview with Wilson:
Well, I was working at Relic Entertainment. I started on RTSs originally and I interviewed at Blizzard ... I was actually very happy at Relic, but I had friends who had moved to Blizzard and they got me an interview. I was like, "Cool, Rob Pardo! I get to be interviewed by him and he's an idol of mine!" For me, it was just a cool experience to be able to talk to Rob for an hour. And we continued to talk and I went to the first BlizzCon [October 2005] and they just talked me into it. Essentially, I've always been a huge fan of Blizzard and it just felt like a natural fit.
And he's the same Jay Wilson who worked at Relic Entertainment as lead designer on Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War:

WoWinsider had a brief about him too:

Kinda neat. I think the Warhammer games had some of the best animation I ever saw in an RTS. While he's not an animator, I wonder if Blizz saw something "Diablo-ish" in Warhammer's style.  icon_cool
10050  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 30, 2008, 01:55:24 AM
I hadn't seen the unveiling, and like most Blizz announcements, it's treated like some Greek God walked down from the heavens to give the people a gift.  icon_cool icon_lol and, from the looks of it, about 2,000 other people filmed it...

If you're impatient, the Diablo III announcement is at about the 31min23sec mark and you can move the slider over to that...

It's interesting in a way that their earlier "entries in the franchises" didn't have to cope with this degree of hype (there wasn't any conference/ceremony with thousands of people on pins and needles for Diablo, Starcraft etc.). Not sure if that's good or bad.  icon_neutral It's great they're treated like rock stars now, and that the Blizzard name has more weight than any one developer type, but I don't think you'll ever see a Blizzard game sneak up on people again via word-of-mouth again (or in the case of Diablo "1", a terrific 2-dungeon level demo most people got via gaming magazine CDs).

I thought it was pretty awesome of them to dig up the original "Tristram music" from the first game, for the "foreplay" leading up to the announcement. It really does give me goose bumps to hear it again.  icon_biggrin
10051  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 29, 2008, 05:30:20 PM
A tough day with the NPCs of Hyboria...  smirk

NPC Armor Jealousy Meets Xenophobia

Hard-hitting NPC analysis

Hmmm, I wonder if players agree with this assessment of the Nobles zone... mad icon_razz
10052  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an MSI Wind? on: June 29, 2008, 02:28:09 PM
A little availability update. is taking orders now, apparently, but lists it as a vague "3-5 weeks  saywhat shipping", and only sells the 3-cell model:
10053  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC official forum Dev Postings of note on: June 29, 2008, 12:02:08 PM
This is an interview, but I thought I'd pop it in this thread since it's effectively dev posting, and we don't need a 37th AoC thread.  icon_razz

Funcom's Gaute Godager interview//MMO//Eurogamer
Now, once you stop laughing or crying about his:
Technically it's been smooth, in fact a lot smoother than we'd expected. I was actually a bit surprised at that, because based on previous launches and what we've seen from other games, I was expecting more technical troubles.
quote. AHAHAHAHA! That's a good one, Gaute! Give us all some of what you've been smoking! saywhat icon_lol To be fair, I think he means in comparison to Anarchy Online's historically disastrous 2001 launch. Old-timers may recall AO was Computer Gaming World's (rest in peace tear) "Coaster of the Month" when it launched.  disgust

Anyway there are some useful things to read:

PVP Fugitive System
Gaute Godager: Yeah. The method that we're using is one where you get something called "Fugitive Points" for certain types of behaviour. You get them from attacking someone, being the aggressive party, you get them from killing someone much lower than you - and certain other types of behaviour too. It's focused around never telling the player that they can't do something - but if you do it, it will have a consequence.

The consequences that you have are Fugitive Points. Those points will dribble away with time - they time out - but you can also grind them off by doing communal things. We're trying to make a penal system without actually making one. Basically, if you help with guild activities, for example, you'll get a faster reduction of fugitive status.

There are two steps of fugitive status. The first one we call Orange, and if you're in Orange state then other people can attack you without themselves being flagged as a fugitive. The second state is Red - and then not only can everyone attack you without being flagged themselves, in addition to that there's a chance of you dropping an item. It's a bit like a bounty on your head.

It's something we've been playing around with for some time, and there are a host of technical and balance issues to make this work so that it's not hugely exploitable.

Fleshing Out Quests, Quest Pacing
Gaute Godager: I think there are a host of issues and a host of reasons for that. First of all, I think we have actually already addressed quite a few of those things. We did have a lot more chaining - which means that you need to do an early quest to get the later quests in the chain. Let's say that you're 27 and you arrive in an area - if you haven't done the 20 and 22 quests, you don't see the 27 quests. We've broken quite a few of those chains up so that they'll be more available to people.

Secondly, we have added quite a lot more content in the early and late thirties, which are the places where people were making themselves heard most clearly about these issues. I do also think that we need to promote the quests that we have - because we do have a lot of quests. It's just about finding them. [It sounded from previous dev postings that the upper 50s is due to get some quests-transfusions soon too - bj]

Let's say you do Conall's Valley when you leave Tortage. Then you arrive in Khopshef Province, say, and you don't see any quests there. That's basically because you now need to go to another quest hub, rather than the one on the docks where you arrive. We don't have enough funnelling quests to push you into that new area. Even though when we discuss it internally, we say, well, we actually have the same amount of quests in sheer numbers as we have at lower levels - they aren't advertised and available enough.
Tabula Rasa had a bit of this situation going on too. You'd need to reach certain contacts in certain zones to have anything to do, but sometimes the previous quests (or the general storyline) wouldn't nudge you in the direction of where you needed to be.

Class popularity or lack thereof
I'm not saying by any means that it's perfect - but we're actually a bit surprised that we haven't seen any classes being singled out as excessively popular, because of huge imbalance or huge exploits. I just don't see that in my statistics.

There are some classes which are a bit more popular than others, but there are also classes which we are surprised by the popularity of, even though they are so different. The Herald of Xotli is one of those. We're just not seeing that any class is either very unplayable, or very popular, due to imbalance.

He also said the game population is about 50-50 split between North America and Europe right now.
10054  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Firefox 3.0...What's your take so far? on: June 29, 2008, 11:48:53 AM
I need to catch up. I like SpeedDial for setting up an initial page that has all your favorite sites in little squares with adjustable preview windows (including here  icon_cool). It got updated for 3.0 a while back.

I just upgraded to 3.0 Firefox this morning. Really fast. And I really like that the drop down menu bar/previously visited sites now lists the site title/description above the URL. With certain sites I'd struggle to remember what it was about, or why I had visited in the first place now I know.  icon_smile

There's a big difference between seeing:

And seeing:
Funcom's Gaute Godager interview//MMO//Eurogamer

in the drop menu, think I'll really find it useful.
10055  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 29, 2008, 07:07:30 AM
I've come to think Diablo/Diablo II didn't really create a genre. It created a "mirage," that a lot of developers tried to chase, but none had any true mass market success. I don't really think of Dungeon Siege (which to me felt more like a small-scale RTS than a Diablo clone, and lacked D/D2's randomizing appeal) as one. I had a lot of affection for Delphine's Darkstone but it sold something like 50,000 to 70,000 copies in North America back in 1999. Since Delphine was French, and the Blizzard Invitational was in France, I wonder if any of the ex-Delphine guys are sitting around lamenting, "Why is it we did a Diablo clone and nobody cared, and Blizz announces one, and everyone wets their pants?"  Tongue

Iron Lore's devs claimed piracy hurt Titan Quest/Immortal Throne's sales but I'm pretty sure it was no sales home run regardless. I think it deserved a better fate really, but maybe trying to chase a classic series' tail -- and basically betting a new dev's future on it (Iron Lore) -- was just a losing battle in general.

I've played some really dreadful budget games, obscure games that were shameless Diablo clones but had none of the "magic" at all. And I've played a variety of MMOs now -- including Tabula Rasa, with its "click to kill" controls, seems to emulate Diablo in a way; and Dungeon Runners -- that seem to be trying to "Diablo it," without succesfully recapturing it.

So while I'm excited about Blizz returning to the franchise, I hope it doesn't mean a new raft of Diablo clones from "soon to be out of business" new devs trying to do "Diablo III clones."   Roll Eyesicon_razz
10056  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 29, 2008, 06:47:57 AM
So I ran into a couple of strange mount bugs today. In one cast just now, when I tried to dismount to fight a badger (!), instead of dismounting, it dropped my horse *below* the level of the ground. I became this torso running around the ground, unable to attack the badger (but taking damage). It was pretty hysterical, like something out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail  icon_lol See below.

I couldn't dismount, and I just logged out. Hopefully it's not a permanent problem, and I won't have to change bj's name to "The Wandering Torso!"  saywhat
10057  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 28, 2008, 02:37:27 PM pulled all the official screenies and artwork off a PR CD and put them at their site, in case it's of interest:

Though the gameplay video did more to get me excited than any static image can.  icon_cool

They also did a sort of "real time" chat-blog from someone who attended the Blizz show. I'm sure the major news sites have that kind of stuff too, but here's's:

A genuinely exciting new feature appears to be "randomizable adventures" through random scripted events.
Fugu_]: THey're showing off their randomization system.
[Fugu_]: Okay.
[Fugu_]: Big focus is higher difficulty levels a la Diablo 2.
[Fugu_]: Random adventures, whole new feature.
[Fugu_]: Allows them to place random scripted events almost anywhere
[Fugu_]: Basically spontaneous, randomized "quests".
I've always wanted to see that kind of thing. I kind of started to have a hard time slogging through Diablo clones knowing I would always do the same quests, and encounters.

[TacticSiege]: "better gameplay, less carpral tunnel"
That caught my eye, re my TQ tendinitis.  thumbsup

A lot of the Blizz talk was apparently about co-op focus (running over health globes heals all your party-mates near you for example) though competitive play is certainly mentioned too.

They apparently said they haven't decided the maximum # of players in a party yet but are thinking about 4-5 from a gameplay standpoint (not from a technical limitation standpoint).

Interesting Loot System too:
p0isonapple]: Loot is generated per character in the party.
[Fugu_]: Each player will see loot generated for them as opposed to a collective system.
[Fugu_]: So you won't be able to steal other player's loot because you won't see it.
10058  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 28, 2008, 02:00:24 PM
Happily EATS CROW!  nod I'm going to try to download the gameplay trailer to view on my Zen. icon_cool I'll bet the fan site team (which probably deserves a medal for continuing to run their site 8 years after DII's release) is just beside themselves with glee right now.  icon_biggrin

I'm OK with my 1280X1024 monitor but it seems like most of the world plays 3200X2500 or something now.  icon_razz If it has to be "stuck" at a rez, I hope they go with 1280X1024. icon_smile

The destructible environments look fun. I'm eager to see the archer-type character (which was generally my fave in the previous games).

I'm glad it's Diablo 3, but I would've been a lot more excited about 3-4 years ago. I really don't think my 43 year old wrists can handle that much clickfest crap anymore (re my wrist tendinitis from Titan Quest: Immortal Throne overplay, which required a brace and lots of Alleve).

I ran a fan site for the Diablo clone Darkstone (by the now defunct Delphine), called The Shadow's Darkstone Tomb around 1999-2001. I never had so much fun running a fan site. For a time I even became "endorsed" by Prima Publishing, who sent me a box load of official Darkstone strategy guides. Which I never did find a way to give away.  icon_razz

I liked Darkstone, but basically I was so starved for Diablo II, that I'd play pretty much any Diablo clone to get it off my mind. icon_biggrin

I had lots of affection for Titan Quest, but I think if the original game had been as terrific (and had the improvements in terms of features, inventory, UI tweaks etc.) as the Immortal Throne expansion, they might've sold quite a few more copies than they did. Though probably not enough to remain in business.  tear

I can't access the Blizz D3 site at all right now. I wonder why.  icon_lol

Hey, even the Age of Conan forums have a link about D3 Roll Eyes:

And yeah I agree, we'll be lucky to see Starcraft 2 *next* year much less Diablo 3 *this* year. But gawd, after Hellgate (which I did have some affection for in spite of its utter bugginess), I won't ever make fun of Blizzard for taking so long with their releases. icon_neutral
10059  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Classes thread on: June 28, 2008, 01:26:12 PM
Congratz! I'm glad your perserverance paid off.  icon_cool

In City of Heroes, I sort of had alt-itis and I only ever got one character (a broadsword/invulnerability scrapper) to the cap. In LOTORO, I tried to be a little different and stuck with two characters pretty far (into the mid 40s, a Ranger and a Guardian).

Here I'm riding Blackjackian to the bloody 80 end. I'm at 57 now.  icon_smile
10060  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 28, 2008, 02:55:11 AM
Some L60 pet footage. They are pretty much like piranha at that point. It's hard for Blackjackian to even contribute on a team with one, because they devour everything in sight so quickly.  ninja2
Click here to watch Age-of-Conan-pets-as-piranha
10061  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Help me like The Who on: June 27, 2008, 09:02:38 PM
I hate/don't respond to lots of bands that everyone else loves. There isn't much point in preaching to someone. You either respond to the music or you don't.  icon_neutral Just imho. Whenever my brother or friends have tried to "force" me to like a band or singer, I just don't respond to it.

I do find that a lot of music I responded to as a teen and in my 20s doesn't do anything for me now (in my 40s), but I do sometimes respond to "young music" today that's clearly not marketed towards me.

Anyway, I love the Who, and even with only Daltry and Townshend, even in their 50s and now 60s, they still sounded great when I caught them in Boston in fall 2006. I was just glad when a few years ago Townshend found some ways around his hearing problems to go back to his wild lead guitar ways (his brother Simon is competent, and plays 2nd guitar on tour now, but is not exactly theatrical). They're a completely different band in concert when Pete can be his leaping, scissor-kicking, windmilling self (which he still does today), than when he was limited to acoustic guitar playing for several years.

Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) brings a lot to the band now, and the crying shame is that when they finally put a new studio album together a couple years back (if you blinked, you misssed it, as it was only up there on the Billboard sales charts for a week), Starkey was busy drumming for Oasis on the road and only played on one track on The Who's new album. Bah.

There are lots of Who fans who think anything after Keith Moon's death is junk. Lots who think Moonie did no memorable drumming after Quadrophenia in 1973. Lots who think The Who post-Moon were never the same band in concert (true, in a way). But I also know people (my sister in law for example) who responded to their most maligned last couple albums in the '80s (Face Dances, and It's Hard). Or who love Who Are You, but don't get into the earlier part of their catalog (from the '60s).

That said, if you want to give the "aged Who" a chance, a good place to start is the 2001 Concert for New York City. Preferably, actually, the video version (the CD version omits one of the Who's songs). The Ox was still alive, and they gave a stirring, rip roaring 5-song set that really got the audience of firefighters and police on their feet. The rest of the concert was pretty much anticlimactic from there.

If you want "the classic Who," there are lots of solid compilations and "best ofs" out there, and they'd all probably be a good intro to the band.

The sad thing was that was effectively Entwistle's epitaph (aside from a couple benefit shows in London). tear
10062  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 27, 2008, 07:03:44 PM
I think the general gamer populace is reading Blizzard's artwork as if it's a Beatles album cover. Paul is dead! Obviously! He's bare foot! And the others aren't!  saywhat

All the artwork *really* says is, "Here are Blizzard's 3 Franchises: Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft (Kerrigan). And we're meeting to celebrate them." Chronologically, the Warcraft franchise came first, the Diablo franchise came second, and SC third, thus the left-to-right order. That's my over rationalizing interpretation of the conference artwork. Though I will be happy to view conference footage that ends up showing I'm dead wrong.  Bring your own!

I still think smart money is on D3 cause A) the franchise could use a freshen-up, and B) since most of the populace thought Diablo III and guessed wrong on the WoW, SC: Ghost, WoW Expansion and SC II announcements (including me, I kept guessing everything but what really got announced each time  icon_redface).

As for "nobody left on the team that worked on it," there seems to be virtually nobody left from the Starcraft team working on Starcraft II. In fact the SCII project lead is a former Command and Conquer designer. My reaction when I read that was, "HUH?"  saywhat Reality today seems to be that you generally can't keep devs in your studio forever (not even Blizzard). They want to move on, go independent, make a name for themselves etc.

I think what will be interesting to see with SCII is whether a team that seems fixated on designing a game around what the Korean competitive RTS market wants (the SCII team) can create a game as special as one that was never developed with that market in mind because it didn't yet exist (The SC team). And I'm part-Korean fwiw. Heck, I helped my Korean uncle buy copies of Starcraft and Diablo 1 at Best Buy one summer, to take back to my cousin. smile

For me, Hellgate has really damaged the Diablo team (Brevik and co.) and Bill Roper's reputations in my mind now. They had 12 years in the gaming industry (maybe more) and shouldn't have let themselves get shoestringed into a "rush our unfinished game to market now" situation. But... but... if you dig through old articles in the '90s Roper did seem to play a huge role in the balancing of stuff like Diablo I, II and Starcraft. So I'll be curious to see how SCII and presumably DIII turn out with no involvement from him.
10063  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dungeon Lords 2 announced on: June 27, 2008, 05:20:54 PM
I think PC Gamer gave this something like a 45% rating, which under their "don't offend the advertisers" scoring scale, was something like, "merely tolerable."  icon_razz

I think it was then used in the advertising campaign along with other gems...

The Verdict is In!
Game critics are united in universal praise for the mighty Dungeon Lords!

"Dungeon Lords is... tolerable!"
-PC Gamer

"I couldn't.... keep it down!" [referring to the game causing an upset stomach]
-Games for Windows Magazine

"... entirely... redeeming features!" [Slight editing of, "This game is entirely without any redeeming features whatsoever!"]

"Never before....!" [... and never again!"]
-GameLan World

 smirk [This is a dramatization, and no actual game review quotes were used in this parody. Thank you. icon_razz]
10064  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Diablo 3 to be announced this weekend? the magic 8-ball says... on: June 27, 2008, 05:16:43 PM
"Situation murky. Try back later."

Well, that's what *my* Magic 8-Ball always told me. Was it lying?  icon_evil icon_lol
10065  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: External HDD Failure on: June 27, 2008, 05:13:50 PM
I still use an older (maybe from year 2005), boxier WD external, something like this:

While it has been rock solid, I really don't use it or run it much. fwiw. I think allll sorts of PC components and electronics seem to be really declining in reliability and durability. It's like the whole world somehow didn't realize the cheaper you make everything and the less you pay all your workers and the worse you treat them, and the more you outsource everything, the crappier and more unreliable everything seems to get.
10066  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Creative Zen MP3/video player on: June 27, 2008, 05:10:35 PM
I might go for the skins (which includes some covers for the screen), though I've read the screen's pretty scratch proof unless you really abuse it (I just put it in my shirt pocket and don't put it in with keys or change). Odd thing with my Sansa MP3 player -- I bought a little rubber skin, and when I put it on it, the unit would just stop working after a fewminutes. Bizarre. I think it overheated or something though it didn't even feel warm.  icon_confused

Since the 3-inch USB "dongle" with the Zen is a joke really, I put a $10 Best Buy rewards card towards a Dynex retractable cord:

The Dynex cord's overpriced if you ask me ($25.99), so I used my card on it rather than Mass Effect. I'll wait on the latter.  icon_smile
10067  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Creative Zen MP3/video player on: June 27, 2008, 01:36:28 PM
The real question is whether you could watch Iron Man (at least some trailer or film clips) on a 2.5" screen and enjoy it. And, I think you can.  icon_cool

Widescreen is maybe a bit much as it reduces to about a thumb-heighth.

You can alternatively either set it to "stretch" to fill the screen while playing, or convert it in a "clipped" format (as they often do for full screen versions of movies, or for TV broadcast in full screen).
10068  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: External HDD Failure on: June 27, 2008, 01:22:29 PM
I saw a thread with maybe a similar problem, and the suggestion that worked for him was to switch from connecting via USB to using the FireWire port (I don't know why that would clear up a bad sectors problem, but it seemed to  icon_confused):

Just fwiw. I mean, there are various disk utility suites (Norton, etc.) you can get that have other third party sector repair tools, but it doesn't sound like they would work any miracles.
10069  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 27, 2008, 01:06:18 PM
So if your team has someone who can rez, for Conan's sake, don't let them stand in the middle of an area full of roving patrols and sometimes wandering baddies while they take a few seconds to rez someone.  Roll Eyes I guess this pic's a testament to Ventrilo and the like, cause by the time I could type, "Look out behind u!" the enemies in the background had already moved over and swamped us. 

The rez animation is quite a show though.
10070  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 27, 2008, 05:51:58 AM
Got on a solid group that got through the grueling Whitehand group quest (we could only get one of the 3 officers for the second quest in the area though). It was worth it to finally get a helm I felt like "enabling viewable helmet" for.  icon_cool Now if Blackjackian can just ditch his L30 quest reward armor for something fresh soon...

Frankly, I think they need to sprinkle a lot more unique-looking helms around, cause pretty much everyone in a given class ends up stuck with the same helm type unless they're sticking with something older for style reasons. If they need inspiration, I say steal from the movies!  ninja2

This game definitely teaches you to "Clump to Survive!"

Order of the Dark Tower is the Thog guild I'm in. We don't really team up all that much, but the founders have helped me on occasion and Max joined a pickup group when I asked.  icon_smile
10071  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Creative Zen MP3/video player on: June 27, 2008, 04:36:41 AM
I'm OK with that, it just means a little more clicking. I guess my Sansa MP3 player (which i've been fine with, but it's software for images/video crashes like mad and never could use it for those things) though was smarter with its MicroSD cards, incorporating whatever was on them transparently.

So far it's passed my tests tonight. A little video from a fishing trip with my brother looks great on it, and the AoC videos I've converted to it look pretty good too.  icon_cool Music-wise it sounds dandy though I guess I wish it had at least some basic treble/bass controls.

My other mild beefs:
-The "world's shortest USB cable," effectively a dongle, is silly though I guess they wanted to keep the packing small.  disgust I managed to fish an old extender cable out of the closet fortunately.
-It'd be nice if it came with any sort of case, even just a simple cloth one. I'll probably have to mail order one of their "skin" packages or something. I couldn't really find much in the way of accessories aside from a "joggers arm band case," and an AC adapter.

I found this cool movie trailers page that specializes in 320X240 format for Zen, and the MS Zune players. I looked at the 80GB hard-drive Zune and was plenty impressed with its 3.2" screen but I really wanted something a little cheaper (so I can afford to lose it icon_razz) and handier for my shirt pocket.

Anyway here's the page, within something called
10072  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 26 on: June 27, 2008, 01:28:01 AM
In case you missed it, or haven't logged in today, the splash screen has an apology for today's extended U.S. server downtime. They're going to give all active accounts one free day of game-time to try to make up for it.
10073  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Creative Zen MP3/video player on: June 27, 2008, 01:09:34 AM
Ya know, the top photo makes me think we should take partial-photos of some of our favorite and/or most famous PC game boxes and have a little message board contest to see if people can guess what the game(s) is/are. You could use the poll function for that. Just a thought. (the partial picture above under the Zen is Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.  icon_smile
10074  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Creative Zen MP3/video player on: June 27, 2008, 01:06:35 AM
I got my stimulus check, and I was itching to buy some frivilous gadget I clearly wanted but didn't need (or is it that I wanted it but clearly didn't need it?). In spite of some horrifically mixed customer reviews of it everywhere I looked (most people either love it, or say that it crashes, white screens and made them run screaming back to the store to return it), I bought an 8GB Zen at Circuit City after work today.

I'm waiting for it to reach full charge (4 hours) before I start transferring stuff to it, and we'll see if it's as fun, or as atrocious as I've read.  icon_neutral

I already had to jump through a DOS command line hoop (of all things), to get past an installer error for the optional media transfer software. Thank God for this "affiliated" Creative fan site that helps Creative customers avoid their screwy tech support and instead find esoteric solutions for bizarro errors. Like most MMO devs, Creative apparently tests none of their products on real world PCs.  icon_razz

To be fair, they've updated the firmware on this sucker several times since its somewhat erratic launch last year, so I'm hopeful my version has the latest and will be something resembling stable.

I fell for it mainly just cause it's so tiny. And the small (2.5") but really crisp and bright video screen caught my eye when I toyed with it at CC the last couple of days. It has an SD card slot, so you can expand it pretty easy, or pop a card from a camera in it for quick photo viewing.

I also played with a very cool but rather bulky touch-screen player by Samsung. The problem with that one is only 4GB models are in stores it seems, and it has no expansion ability at all. Touchscreens have a Wow factor for sure, but I think if you're plugging a player into your car and want to advance tunes, go back etc., it's always good to have some hardware button or wheel to work with.

Still waiting for it to charge but here's a couple pics for no reason other than to use my camera's macro mode... (no, that's just a "dummy" cover on the screen, hope to give it a whirl later tonight).

It's just the right size for plastic army men, and while they like to call it "credit card sized," it's also "business card sized." I'm not sure if it's ideal if someone has zillions of songs cause you have to click-click-click the square shaped thumb pad to navigate and, well, we'll if my thumbs start hurting soon.  thumbsup

Of course what you really *want* to know is how does an Age of Conan decapitation sequence look on it? I hope to know later tonight.  icon_twisted icon_lol Hopefully it won't whitescreen and go beserk on me. If so though, you'll all get an inside look at my breakdown.  paranoid
10075  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 26 on: June 27, 2008, 12:43:48 AM
Servers you right for reaching that high a level!  icon_twisted icon_lol
10076  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Mass Effect PC... Impressions? on: June 26, 2008, 09:33:07 PM
I'm going to get this as soon as I can find any sort of discount on it because it'll probably gather moss on my "to play" pile, and then by the time I can play it, the price will have dropped.  smirk

Anyone see anything sales wise yet?
10077  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 26 on: June 26, 2008, 09:28:56 PM
I hope you're doing a "WTF? I quit!" parody.  icon_wink

I re-read this part:
-Kidnapping and Torture: You can no longer interact with the palisades while the NPC is burning.
I'm sure my family would wonder what the heck I was playing if I mentioned that.   
10078  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / AoC Patch Notes June 26 on: June 26, 2008, 06:49:24 PM
Ta Da!
26th of June - Update Notes
Player Character

-The bonus magical damage granted from Mystical Attunement has been doubled for Mages.
-Spells that were incorrectly receiving bonuses from increased magical damage will no longer scale with increased magical damage. This adjustment will only affect such spells that were not meant to have scaling with the increased magical damage bonus. This resolves issues with enhancement spells like "Pact with Set" where the health loss was too high for the trade off for the bonus to damage.

An issue where Barbarians lose strength between the levels of 42 and 45 has been resolved. Please note that this is only between those specific levels.

Infernal Knowledge and Diabolic Insight will no longer appear as hostile spells and will still persist after death.

-The bonus gained from magical damage has been increased on all damage-over-time (DoT) spells.
-Despoil the Soul duration has been substantially increased and is no longer removed on death.
-Frost Blast's area-of-effect (AoE) has been changed to be a 90 degree cone in front of the caster.
-Shatter now additionally works on targets affected by Frost Blast and Ice Shackle.
-Dark Knowledge and Vile Insight will no longer appear as hostile spells and will still persist after death.
-Mark of the Devourer duration has been reduced to 60 seconds.

Raid-level bows and crossbows for Rangers have been corrected to add ranged DPS instead of melee DPS.

-Active blocking has been revamped to bring it back in line with the original design. Active blocking will now correctly display a buff in the debuff GUI to indicate the effect. You will now have an initial stamina cost upon activation and shielding bonus rather than evade chance. Attacks and heals performed while in “Active Blocking” will also have a reduced effect.
-Certain group buffs should no longer keep you in combat when your pets are also in the group.
-Melee pets will now do splash damage.

-Bags that were not able to be equipped can now be equipped again.
-The two-handed edged weapon Earthwrack has now received its visual appearance back.
-Exaltate's Girdle, Exaltate's Armbands, and Hellbreaker Hammer will now appear correctly.
-Javelins have been revamped based on player feedback. The length of all current javelins will now be of decent length. All javelins have also received some adjustments to the throwing and holding animations, as well adjusted so all characters correctly hold the javelin by the shaft.
-Polearms have been revamped based on player feedback. All polearms have been standardized to a new larger size.

-Solo monsters, minibosses and bosses have been adjusted to be more of a challenge than what they had been previously for level 70 and up. The adjustments will not affect grouped and raid monsters in any way as this will only affect solo monsters. The change will ensure that the game is both entertaining and challenging at higher levels.
-All players in a raid dungeon are now hated by the boss while the boss is under attack.
-There should no longer be multiple versions of Aquilus in the Armsmans Tavern.
-Champion of the Honorguard will now use his axe throw ability less frequently.
-The adds for Vistrix and Yakhmars have had their AI revamped.

Massive PvP
Battlekeep owners should now be able to apply to attack other battlekeeps without any problems.

You should now once again be able cast spells while mounted. There will be some limitations on which spells and which type of spells you're able to cast.

Raid playfields should now properly reset correctly.

The Black Castle
This Kopshef Province dungeon has been completely redone. We encourage you to pay it a visit. Overcome the challenging new encounters along side with your companions and reap the rewards. This group instance is aimed for characters in the 30 - 35 level range.

-Kidnapping and Torture: You can no longer interact with the palisades while the NPC is burning. This should help make it clearer when the quest can be completed.
-Ante Up - Giants Approaching: When the timer expires you should be able to interact with the Rock to restart the event.
-Master of Gargoyles: Cha will now thank you for completing the quest.
-Bowls of Set: The quest should now properly display the goal names.
-The Honoured Dead of Cimmeria: This quest has been removed and revamped into 4 smaller quests with new rewards. The new quests are "The Honoured Dead I," "The Honoured Dead II," "The Honoured Dead III," and "The Honoured Dead IV."

-Opening Alchemy Tradeskill book should no longer crash the client.
-All vendor-supplied tradeskill resources have had their max stack size set to 20, with the exception of city-building components from vendors which have the max stack size of 100
-Mages and Priest mobs will now drop an Alchemists Cache randomly, which contains random resources for the level-range where it was found. This will make it possible to obtain the resources that have not been dropping for alchemy. - Item was causing problems, deactivated until next update
-All crafted shields will now have gem slots.

-You may now limit particles to show on (All / Raid Members / Team Members / Self).
-Particle effects and banners for PvP building have been optimized.
-The client should now disconnect from the chat server after camping.
-Cimmerian and male Stygian dancers beware - dancing near the edges of tall cliffs may be fatal to your health.
-Characters will no longer slide when jumping and then moving as you're landing.
10079  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC official forum Dev Postings of note on: June 26, 2008, 01:12:09 PM
The U.S. boards have a dev tracker, but they decided to make it a Tab, that's not really pointed out well on the main board page. It's up top, in the black navigation bar, far right. This is the actual thread...

AoC U.S. Boards dev tracker (have to be logged in to view)

If you like, well, tracking down posts more individually (can gain a lot of insights and "between the lines" information from some of their posts), here are the "view latest posts" links for a few of the dev or community rep types there:

Sharum (designer)

Jayde (system designer)
*Necromancers will want to read some of his recent posts on the adjustments to the class.
Quote from: Jayde, in June 25 post
There's no truth to this at all [a player rumor the # of pets will be reduced]. Necros will continue to be pet-point oriented. Even the Nightfall tree is based around manipulating pets and pet-points, and that is certainly not going to change.

In regard to the stealthing and pet issue. Yes, it will be getting fixed. I actually posted on this about a month ago in regard to it not being intended and to expect for it to be fixed by coders.

In regard to the questions about the Nightfall tree, I can only say that evaluating the state of it without having the changes coming tomorrow and Monday is not going to give an accurate picture of things. If the damage output is still below what is intended, we will continue to increase it as needed.
Quote from: Jayde, also June 25
... as I mentioned before, we are completely reviewing pet control and making an effort to improve the in-combat behavior quite a bit. I'll post updates on this as I get more specific information as to what the scripters feel they are able to do.
Jayde seems to feel a bit under siege about Necromancers at the moment.  smirk

Drauge (raid scripter - never thought I'd see *that* on a business card saywhat)

Tarib (senior community manager)

Famine (community manager)

Waldgeist (German community manager, quite active at the US forums)
Some fun stuff about player submissions for a Conan Metal Song:
10080  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 23 on: June 26, 2008, 01:05:24 PM
I was going to post June 26 notes, but there was some EU patch bug that went astray, so they delayed the U.S. patch a couple of hours, it seems:
(need to be logged in to the US board to view that)
Downtime has been postponed due to a problem that was discovered on the EU servers. We are currently investigating the issue on the EU server before bringing the US servers fully online.
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