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10761  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 20, 2008, 06:23:34 PM
Team luck just varies wildly, imho, depending on time of day, day of the week, and what's going on on the test server (if there's something "hot" previewing on the test server, lots of players desert live servers to try it). Freedom is generally acclaimed as the businest server, but I still think that's just a guess based on it having another "busy blip" in the servers listings.

I'm wildy pleased with the new PC's performance in CoX. The game looks so much better and runs so much faster (even in the midst of the Rikti invasion event the other night, it never slowed down a bit -- I think it almost ran too fast, cause sometimes buttons didn't respond), it feels like a new game to me.

Here's a blurry (due to Photobucket's Flash conversion process  disgust) video of it:

All you need to know is normally on my old PC it turned into a slideshow, and attempting to do a FRAPS movie like this was unthinkable (it would just bog things below playable in the process).  thumbsup
10762  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Anyone use Rhapsody music system? on: April 20, 2008, 04:10:11 PM
I'm going ahead and canceling, but much to my horror, Rhapsody has an AOL/credit card-style "You must call us and listen to annoying reps try to convince you not to cancel" policy in order to cancel. So far every MMO I've played lets you quickly and painlessly cancel (even WoW) online, with some optional "feedback" stuff, so here's hoping the music services follow the game publishers' lead some day.

I anticipate when I explain the software doesn't work with Windows Vista 64-bit, they'll start reading from a "script" about how wonderful Rhapsody is. disgust

I found this interesting Wired blog post about a guy's experience canceling three music services (all ones that use DRM):
Quote from: Wired blog post about canceling Rhapsody
The FAQ implies that you can cancel online, but when I followed those directions, I reached a page that told me to call 866.597.5465 if I wanted to cancel (here we go again).

After 2 minutes on hold, a Russian sounding man asked for my email address and account number.  When I said I wanted to cancel because of DRM, he read what I know was a script, because he read one paragraph twice.  The spiel involved telling me that Rhapsody has 4.5 million songs, recently added new features, and offers MP3 downloads for some songs.  Good points -- especially the last one -- but I wanted to cancel anyway.  He said an email would arrive extolling more of Rhapsody's virtues; by responding to that in the negative, I could cancel.
Oh boy, "Russian sounding man." A hockey player?  icon_confused
10763  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Anyone use Rhapsody music system? on: April 20, 2008, 08:07:57 AM
*wipes cobwebs off the topic*

As a new Vista 64-bit user, have a big warning to anyone in my boat considering Rhapsody -- they don't currently support *any* 64-bit systems with their Rhapsody software. This has left me in the lurch with my Rhapsody-branded Sansa e260R (I love it and like Rhapsody's monthly "all you can eat" music subscription, though the Software was incredibly finicky about updating properly or behaving unless you turned all of IE's security features to the minimum).

And this isn't one of those "doesn't have a native 64-bit version"; the software just doesn't work on 64-bit OSs at all (afik). From what I've read, they haven't been able to find a way to get Rhapsody to take advantage of the 32-bit emulator stuff that (so far) has let me run most games and programs without problems.

After weeding through the manual, I can switch the Sansa to Plays for Sure (MTP- Media Transfer Protocol) mode, which will at least let me still burn my CDs (I still buy those neanderthal things on occasion) and presumably let me use another service if I can find one whose software will work with 64-bit Vista. But I've got probably a thousand or more songs on it via Rhapsody, and I don't really want to have to keep my old PC hooked up just to keep that alive. I guess if I'm brave I could set up 32-bit Vista, or XP, on this system's second hard drive and dual-boot. But the Rhapsody software is a pain anyway.

I really do prefer the subscription type music service, but it sounds like iTunes 7.6 and later works fine in 64-bit Vista out of the box, so I might look in that as an option.

I guess this shouldn't surprise me. As much as I like Windows XP, I remember grousing quite a bit about favorite older Win95/98 games I couldn't run on XP, even in compatibility modes. It just wasn't something I was thinking of when I picked out my new PC. Heck, I didn't even realize my new HP had the 64-bit Vista version.  saywhat
10764  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: New PC Specs on: April 20, 2008, 01:32:36 AM
I thought I'd also add that Best Buy still gives you 14-days to return opened desktop PCs with *no* restocking fees (they do charge for laptop/notebook returns).

Circuit City now charges 15% restocking fees on desktops (we'd be talking more than $160 on my HP if I'd gotten it there). I had to eat a monster return fee at Micro Center back in 2004 (the system I got was louder than a jet engine on takeoff, an exchange proved no better). So I learned the hard, expensive way to stick with no-restocking-fee stores if you're determined to buy a system that way. You really can't know from a spec sheet online if something's too noisy, too kludgy or is going to crash constantly (happily my HP has had none of those things, but I wanted to allow for the possibility).
10765  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [PC]Gears of War on: April 20, 2008, 01:16:51 AM
I'm enjoying the game now, but it is regularly kicking my a**, even on the easiest skill level. I guess I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet. I like a challenge though.  icon_twisted
10766  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan ( Mounts article) on: April 19, 2008, 08:30:57 PM had a neat hands-on focused on mounted combat:
The Buckskin charges straight into one Nadir, knocking it flying. It then kicks forward, and backwards, causing chaos in the enemy group. Thrud himself is reigning death from above, striking with his swords from both sides. The Nadir were dead before they knew what was killing them.

This is what you can expect from Age of Conan's mounted combat, what we think is the fantasy MMO's most compelling feature. For all the blood, sex, gore and Oblivion-quality graphics in the game, it is, for us, the prospect of charging into a group of enemy players on a horse, kicking them about with mount specific attacks and slicing them up with your own weapons that has got us most excited.
And lots of useful details on how mounted combat works, abilities, limitations etc. Apparently there are enemy NPCs specifically designed to knock you off your mounts so you won't be willy-nillying running roughshod over everyone (both you and the mount take damage it sez).

Player characters can wield weapons while on horses (but not other mounts, more on that later), using the direction-based combat system players will have mastered during their on-foot adventures.

The keys 1, 2 and 3 are your overhead forward attacks, Q and E your left and right uppercuts.

Things can get pretty complex, and fast, especially when faced with multiple enemies and other human players who are also mounted up. Clicking hot-keyed mount attacks with the mouse cursor with one hand while keeping the other hammering away with player attacks is no small feat, but it can be extremely rewarding. After about 10 minutes of play we were able to use the horse's charge attack, which causes the mount to speed towards a single enemy and knock it down, trigger front and rear kicks on surrounding enemies then deal some serious damage with Thrud's twin blades. Sweet.
Lotta detail on the pre-order mounts (they're specific that you *can't* use any of your avatar's attacks while riding the pre-order mounts, but they do have their own cool unique attacks) too:
War Rhino
The War Rhino, a large, grey, intimidating beast, has a charge attack and the useful Rhino Sweep, which can knock down multiple enemies and is perfect for disrupting organised groups.

It's slower and less manoeuvrable than the horse, as you'd expect, so it won't get you from A to B much quicker than walking would. But this is more than made up for by its cool factor - it has four deadly tusks and imposing battle armour.

Press the space bar and it will dig its heels into the ground, as if charging up a particularly devastating attack.

War Mammoth
The War Mammoth feels like snaking a Boeing 747 through a back alley. It's absolutely massive, so big that it needs to kneel down to allow you to clamber up its side. Its special attacks, the Mammoth Charge and the Mammoth Sweep, send multiple enemies flying about 10 feet in the air, making it perhaps the most devastating crowd dispersal weapon in the game.
So there ya go. Still a much better pre-order perk than my stupid red eyes-covering cap for City of Villains.   disgust icon_lol

They're both apparently quite slow, so you may be cursing your choice if you're taking a long trip. And you can't use any of your character's attacks/abilities while riding (only what the pre-order mount's own abilities).

I'm more curious whether you can have multiple mounts (or if you switch them at a stable according to what sort of mount ya need).
10767  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Bioshock pc review...pc better on: April 19, 2008, 05:18:36 PM
Yeah I tried with the DX10 stuff on, and it worked fine on me HP system; but it seemed to knock the frame rate slightly without really making any visual difference I could see so I turned it off. I definitely want to get Portal, but wasn't interested in the rest of the Orange Box (only because I suck at team shooters, and HL2's engine makes me motion sick - hoping Portal's different style won't cause that).

I'm blabbing also so people see you don't need a $2g, $3g, $4g system to get good, playable frame rates on these things. Crysis might be another matter.  Tongue Not that $1,159 is pocket change, mind you, but I paid $1,999 for a Pentium 100 in 1995, and I think it was obsolete in a year. This I can better stomach, and I'm hoping it's at least marginally more future proof.  icon_lol
10768  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Bioshock pc review...pc better on: April 19, 2008, 03:50:38 PM
I'm blabbering in various old threads, now that I got a new PC (a modest $1,159 HP model) and can finally play some of the better PC stuff the way it *should* look.  icon_smile

Bioshock was the 2nd thing I installed after Gears of War PC. Finally I can appreciate it. My old system rendered so badly I couldn't even hardly tell what I was looking at during the intro. Some pics of it in better form for me now:

Water finally looks like... water!  saywhat

This screams out for a "caption contest."  icon_lol

"I thought you said to use a revolver?"
"I said use a BAZOOKA!"

"Hey, what does 3 bright red lights mean?"
"It means you're gonna die!"
"Oh. *bleep*..."
10769  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: [PC]Gears of War on: April 19, 2008, 03:40:42 PM
Finally! I bought a new PC last night (just a solid HP quad-core system with a reasonably strong 8600GT card). I felt like the first test *had* to be my PC Gears of War since I spent so much time griping about it on my old system.

Aside from one initial crash the first time I started it, it's run without a hitch. And it looks great, plays well, I can finally feel what the fuss was about.  icon_cool

Couple screenies (at 1280X1024, which is quite playable on the new system out of the box):

I really dig it now, albeit 5 months late.  nod
10770  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: New PC Specs on: April 19, 2008, 05:15:33 AM
Fwiw, I got a nice HP Elite for $1,159+tax today (Best Buy). I can maybe see myself upgrading the power supply and video card (512MB 8600GT), but I've spent the evening gliding smoothly through Gears of War PC and Bioshock (both system killers on my old system). Since my AMD64 was a Model T horse and buggy, maybe my perception is warped.  icon_lol

HP link:

Specs, fwiw:
Operating system: Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition with Service Pack 1 [Yeah, I know, DOOOMMM! But I'm glad they now ship with the SP1 variant pre-installed, and so far it really hasn't caused me any problems, aside from some slightly different e-mail account settings in the Live Mail). I still think the Vista Team spent way too much time on animated menus, and zooming in and out various windows to no particular purpose. disgust ]
Processor: Intel Core2 Quad Processor Q6700
Memory: 4096MB
Memory speed: PC2-6400 DDR2 SDRAM
Total memory slots: 4 DIMM
Maximum memory expansion: Expandable to 8GB
Graphics: [a "real," not integraded video card fwiw] NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT graphics card with 512MB dedicated video memory [8800GTs are all over the place at stores now but so far I'm pretty impressed with this older card, and it's presumably quieter/cooler than the hotter new stuff]
TV and entertainment experience: [I didn't get it for this, but if you're into using a PC for that stuff, it's nice] NTSC Analog TV tuner, over-the-air ATSC high-definition Digital TV tuner, and FM tuner HP Media Center remote control with IR (infrared) receiver
PCI expansion: 1 PCI (occupied) ¿2 PCI Express x1 (two available) (24) ¿1 PCI Express x16 (occupied) (24)
Hard disk drive(s): 1000GB (2x500GB) 7200RPM SATA
Primary CD/DVD drive: SuperMulti DVD Burner with LightScribe Technology
Communications: Integrated 10/100/1000Mbps network interface
Sound card: High Definition Audio [Realtek integrated stuff, it's fine]   
Speakers: 8 speaker configurable
Front-side bus (processor dependent): 1066MHz Front Side Bus
I/O ports
        Front panel 15-in-1 memory card reader 6 USB 2.0 ports (2 Front, 4 Back) 2 FireWire (IEEE 1394) port(s) (1 Front, 1 Back) Headphone; Microphone; Line-in (Front) 2 PS/2; Digital Audio In/out DVI, TV-out, and HDMI capabilities available on the video card

The case is nice enough but somewhat cramped inside. It's not something I'd probably mess around inside of aside from the aforementioned possible power supply/video card upgrade.

My thought is really what do you want to play. If you can't live without full screen antialiasing, or you need to play Crysis or the other latest "Bring every system to its knee" game du jour, then $2,300 might be worth it. It's just, even when I've spent $1,799 or $1,999 on new PCs, it's still been falling behind a year later.

I had various do-it-yourself buds pushing me to build my own, but I'm an impulse buyer and I just got tired of every PC game running like molasses on my old system. I needed a quick fix, and so far this system has been fast and quiet and a real pleasure. Finally getting to *see* what was great in Bioshock and experience it properly, well I don't know if it's worth $1,200, but it feels like it tonight.  icon_cool Numbers wise, I'd probably still need a better card, but I think it's more important the frame rate is consistent on this (even if the numbers wouldn't impress a hardware guru).
10771  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: A whole bunch of reasons it's still worth it to be a PC gamer on: April 19, 2008, 12:57:28 AM
PC gaming is DOOOMMMED.

However, I went ahead and bought a new PC today. Am trying to backup and clean up stuff on the old PC before moving over. I'll let you know if the new one is up to snuff, or if I'm still driving a horse and buggy.  icon_twisted
10772  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an HP 2133 Mini Note laptop? :) on: April 18, 2008, 01:18:50 PM
I dug around, there's a mini-site within HP's biz site that lists the various "pre-configured" models:

HP 2133 Mini-Note PC- models

I think there's an option to have them "downgrade" (haha) the OS from Vista to Windows XP Pro, in the configurations, which would seem like the prudent thing to do if they don't use it as a cheesy way to charge more.

Although it's just what I'm looking for in a lot of ways, I am rather hyper-sensitive to noise (the Eee PC is apparently quite as a mouse, but the tiny keyboard is a barrier for me). The reflection problem is probably something the aftermarket will have to accessorize-fix (overlays of some sort).

If the hard drive is the noise/heat culprit, I wish they'd consider an 8GB or 12GB flash drive. I assume the solid state hard drive options are still pretty obscenely expensive these days.
10773  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan open beta details on: April 18, 2008, 12:55:36 PM
Here's the details (Gryn already mentioned), for those wanting the nitsy-gritsy:
Durham, USA – April 17th, 2008 – Funcom, Eidos and IGN are proud to announce that Open Beta for Age of Conan will start on May 1. The Open Beta will be hosted exclusively by IGN’s popular game download site,, as well as being offered through partner IGN sites such as, and

The application pages at are now open for registrations [I've checked, and right now it's still saying "will open next week"-bj], and gamers from across the world can sign up. As 50.000 gamers prepare their Hyborian assault, rivers of blood are about to flow, and it’s exclusively available through FilePlanet and IGN partner sites.

“When we started development of Age of Conan four and a half years ago we truly wanted to move away from the standards of the MMO genre. We wanted to bring something new, exciting and fresh to the gamers,” said Gaute Godager, Game Director on Age of Conan. “As we get ready to show everyone what Conan’s savage world is all about, we need final stress testing. Teaming up with the Beta Masters at IGN was a perfect opportunity for us! We simply couldn’t ask for a better partner for this crucial stage of our Beta.” “The IGN and FilePlanet audience has consistently told us that Age of Conan is one of their most anticipated games of the year, and we are very pleased to partner with Funcom and Eidos on the Open Beta,” says Senior Vice President of Consumer Products at IGN, Jamie Berger. “The Funcom team has developed a truly unique, visceral gaming experience that players will have to see to believe.”

Funcom would like to point out that the primary function of the Open Beta is to stress test Age of Conan prior to launch. This means that Funcom will not make the entire game available to the Open Beta testers, and a level 13 cap will be applied. The Beta experience will still give hours and hours of entertainment, and complete class and culture variety, while at the same time giving Funcom the needed focus for an Open Beta.

You are required to be a FilePlanet member in order to sign up for the Open Beta. Preloading of the client will start prior to the launch of the Open Beta, and applicants will receive more information should they receive a beta key. The Open Beta will start on the 1st of May at 1500 GMT / 0900 EST.
So no, I wouldn't think they're lifting the NDA, since this open beta is so limited (see the underlined). This is a "stress test," as they say.

Here's the Fileplanet signup link:
It's a little confusingly worded. You don't need to be a Fileplanet subscriber to receive notification when stress test beta signups begin - but you do need to be a Fileplanet or Founders subscriber to participate this way. I'll try this way (I'm an FP subscriber).

I'd just like to see whether it's scalable to my crummy old PC. And to see whether our general pants-wetting excitement for something most of us have never played is well-placed or misguided.  smirk
10774  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 18, 2008, 12:50:17 PM released a video about the new Villain epic archetypes:
(If you use the Mozilla "noscript" extentsion, you'll want to enable "" in order to see and view the streaming video window).

They also do an "analysis" of the trailer if you're impatient:

I don't think I'll ever get a villain to 30 (have a military themed mastermind at about 24) much less 50, but if you're into COV you can at least aspire to using that cool blast mace, or wielding those Crab spider arms yourself.  icon_twisted
10775  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an HP 2133 Mini Note laptop? :) on: April 17, 2008, 06:48:15 PM
The Notebook Review review is pretty thorough:
They rave about the overall design, and the comfort of the keyboard (key to me).

However, they have some complaints about the anti-scratch coating causing reflection problems (which apparently is the main flaw with an otherwise impressive screen) and the weird mouse button design (located on the left and right sides of the touchpad instead of beneath it), and seem to feel the CPU is underpowered (even for a bargainy notebook).
The keyboard on the 2133 Mini-Note is great. To put it plainly, this is the best keyboard we've seen on a notebook this small. The keys have a silver finish and are smooth to the touch. There isn't a textured feel to the keyboard. The best thing though is how big it is.

The HP 2133 Mini-Note is one of the most impressive subnotebooks we've ever seen. Unfortunately, the amazing design and solid range of features are diminished by a sub-par processor and a price tag that places this notebook dangerously close to far superior 12-inch notebooks such as the HP tx2000.
Hopefully someone can come up with some sort of stick-on anti-reflective overlay to solve the reflection issue.

The Windows XP option next month should addresss some of the performance issues (the CPU's clearly not suited to Vista, is how it looks).

And then there's cooling issues. Bah it sucks!  icon_lol
10776  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Anybody got an HP 2133 Mini Note laptop? :) on: April 17, 2008, 06:14:50 PM
I talked myself out of the Eee PC, seeking something I might be able to actually write on (I'm a reporter, who has somehow never owned a laptop all these years) rather than a keyboard designed for munchkins.

If you're looking for something meant for adults to type on, HP's Mini Note is getting some good notices:

Official Mini Note page:

More detailed HP specs page (at their biz products sub-site):

Engadget round up

Unboxed (by an Engadget reader who received one)

But it's not quite in the EeePC price range ($499 street price for a Linux version, though MSRP is $549). They're adding an XP pre-install option in May, supposedly. Also supposedly, the keyboard is only about 8% smaller than normal, so it might be something a writer could actually write on.  icon_smile

It seems to be about 2.8 lbs. (2.63 lbs. with the solid state drive option), and has about a 8.9" screen.

I was going to mention it in the Eee PC thread, but I figure I oughta keep it separate. The lower models might sort of be considered Eee PC competitors; the higher end is more like a full laptop, for better or worse.
*BJ's Quick FAQ....
A: No. Sorry to break your heart.  crybaby

Q: Solid state drive man! Magnetic disks are so PASSE, MAN!
A: That's not a question, dude. If you view the "datasheet" PDF on the specs page, it mentions there's a 64GB solid state drive option. Haven't seen a price for it yet though.
10777  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO Personal Accomplishment on: April 16, 2008, 06:03:27 PM
I'm going to keep an eye on Book 13. I've read it has a new zone that has a lot of solo quest stuff in the 44-50 range (which is where my couple higher levels got pretty much stuck).

Stratics had a dev chat log touching on that:
Brekkee - *Gilanthis* Will this new area be able to level characters on a straight path from 44-50 or is it not a straight path?
Rhidden - There should be enough content in Forochel to get you from 44-50, but how much experience you gain will vary depending on your play style.
Rhidden - Even if you kill the bare minimum with a little Angmar and High Pass questing anyone would have more than enough solo quests to get from 44-50.
I really just need a new PC or at least a fat hard drive at some point. I keep having to delete entire MMOs (this and Tabula Rasa of late) just to clear enough space for new games.
10778  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea (server consolidation) on: April 16, 2008, 05:51:20 PM
They just announced plans to close 7 of the 11 servers, consolidating players onto 4 in hopes of having a larger player population on each. Can you hear the cries of "DOOOMMM!!!" and "Auto Assault!" yet?  paranoid

Pirates of the Burning Sea Shutters 7 Servers
When Pirates of the Burning Sea launched on January 22nd, we introduced our customers to 11 new game servers. Through feedback from our players and evaluation of our server populations, it has become clear that key game features require populations of higher density in order to function at optimum levels. When you take into account both the disparity in player time zones and the delayed launch of our title in some countries, we were spreading our overall population too thin. Also, in more recent builds, we were able to improve our server technology to allow for an even larger population than we were originally equipped to handle.

Providing our customers with the best game play experience is our first priority. Condensing our populations will lead to a richer, more vibrant game play experience for all involved, and our customers whole-heartedly agree.
The remaining servers are Roberts, Blackbeard, Rackham and Antigua. [better transfer that pirate, Morlac  icon_biggrin).

I think maybe this weekend I will finally plunge in [I'll post name/server stuff here if I do, fwiw]. The latest update seemed to address some UI complaints I'd read about, and the next couple are supposedly going to try to breathe some life into the avatar combat (generally seen as the weakest part of the game), among other things.
10779  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO Personal Accomplishment on: April 15, 2008, 09:38:22 PM
I recommend this for itching!
10780  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12 *purchasable slots* on: April 15, 2008, 05:24:52 PM
I don't care to continue the ad discussion since it's clear I'm beating a dead horse.  deadhorse [substitute other types of corpses if horses bother you crybaby]

Pricing, Details for Optional Additional Character Slots
The pricing for this was inadvertently "leaked" via the test server builds, so NCNorthCal decided to go ahead and post the full details today:
NCsoft NorCal Studios is pleased to announce the pricing and details for the coming Optional Additional Character Slot feature. As we previously announced, we heard the request for a system to allow more characters on a single server and this is our answer. City of Heroes is a unique game that offers many playstyle options; options that are growing in a large way due to Powerset Proliferation and the addition of the Villain Epic Archetypes in the next free expansion, Issue 12: Midnight Hour. To accommodate playing more characters on your favorite server, we will be including the following features in Issue 12:

All current subscribers will receive 2 free character slots, each of which can be used on the specific server of their choice. This is to help you make new characters to take advantage of the new features of Issue 12, even if you already have maxed out your “home” server’s character slots.

1 free character slot will be granted retroactively on a yearly basis through the current Veteran Reward system. Every 12 months that a subscription is maintained will unlock an additional free character slot that the user can apply to the server of their choice. Thus, existing players will be eligible for up to 4 additional character slots at the launch of Issue 12. This will continue into the future for Veteran Rewards given out every 12 months, so you get another slot for 5 years, another one for 6 years, etc.

Additional Optional Character Slots will be available on a purchasable basis. These are one-time fees, not an addition to your monthly subscription rate. The additional slots can be had at the following price points:

• 1 Optional Character Slot for a one-time fee of $5.99
• 2 Optional Character Slots for a one-time fee of $9.99
• 5 Optional Character Slots for a one-time fee of $19.99

Players can have up to 36 slots per server, with an update to the character selection screen that lets you re-organize your character list by Drag and Drop, as well as easily flip between up to three pages of characters available on that server. All customers benefit from these great new User Interface features included with the revisions for Optional Character Slots.

The above features are planned to be made available at the launch of Issue 12: Midnight Hour, which is currently in closed beta testing. Be sure to check out this feature, along with the rest of Issue 12 when we enter the open beta testing period that should be starting in several more weeks.
I was going to create a new thread, but it *is* part of Issue 12, so this seems like the place.  icon_smile I'm long over the alt-itis I once had, so it doesn't interest me much. If it makes them enough revenue to do more things down the road, I'm all for it. Test server players also seem to like being able to drag and drop the order of their characters on the list (just makes it easier to pick out your most commonly played characters, I'd guess).
10781  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO Personal Accomplishment on: April 15, 2008, 05:18:34 PM
I lost interest (patience?) in the game last fall, after getting a couple characters (a Ranger, and I think, a Guardian) to 45 and 44. I do applaud your accomplishments though.  icon_cool

To date, I have still only gotten one character to the level cap in an MMO (SilverKnight, L50 scrapper in City of Heroes).
10782  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: April 13, 2008, 05:42:35 PM
There was another Q&A session:

Ask Cryptic - April 11, 2008
Q:Will the gameplay be more CoH, with lots of FedEx style zone traversing and hunt 50 of [insert villain name here] or more CoV, with most missions not requiring you leave the zone that your contact is in? (BanzaiBadger)

Arkayne: Gameplay in Champions Online has its own style, BanzaiBadger. The majority of gameplay is in the persistent world with occasional forays into instanced areas to take on some of the nastier villains. Every world location has distinct neighborhoods with gameplay centered in that area. Occasionally you'll get missions that take you between world locations, but those are more of the exception than the rule.

Q: If you take the villains from Batman like the Joker, Scarecrow, Two-Face, etc., DC gave them their own little personality to make them each different from the rest. Will the villains in Champions Online have their own feel to them that makes each one seem different from the others? (Aplex)

Arkayne: Champions Online has well-developed personalities for their major named characters, Aplex. Our writer John Layman has done a masterful job in creating interesting missions and dialog to flesh out their personalities. What's more, each of the big-name villains in the game has a "shtick" associated with them. A villain shtick is something players need to counter and take advantage of in order to turn the fight in their favor. Basically, whenever you encounter a new Champions Online villain, you'll have to figure out how to deal with them or you'll be in for a rough time!
10783  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 13, 2008, 05:38:04 PM
I understand how they're "displaying" ads, I don't understand how they can detect whether you have "viewed" an ad or billboard, unless they add some in-game mechanism that takes you to an in-game browser page of the product's site or something. They claim they have a way, and it's probably some proprietary voodoo.

I don't think they can detect exactly whether Dr. Barium tilted his head and "viewed" a giant billboard for "Gamers' Hemmorhoidal Ointment," is what I'm trying to say.  icon_confused  eek
10784  Non-Gaming / Forum and Site Feedback / Re: Beserk new-thread-starting on: April 11, 2008, 02:19:06 AM
I coulda sworn there was someone here who agreed with me, but I guess I was wrong.  disgust

So in the future, any time there is anything of interest for Champions Online (for example), I'll just start a new thread. Maybe once it gets closer to release, I'll have 267 threads, and I can push all the other MMO topics to Page 17.  Since every individual brain-burp is worth a new thread apparently, I might as well get with the program even if it's eventually going to turn this place into the chaotic Quarter to Three (where I used to hang out at, except the roughly 350 new threads per day situation there was one of the things that drove me away). Tongue
10785  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 10, 2008, 05:07:54 PM
TenTonHammer has an interview (with Matt Miller/Positron and NCNorthCal producer Brian Clayton) about the upcoming optional in-game advertising (though this isn't part of update 12, I don't know what update it'll be part of so I'll put that kinda stuff here):
Ten Ton Hammer: How is revenue actually generated from the ads? Do players need to just flip the switch and choose to view the ads?

Matt: It’s generated by actual impressions in the game world. We’ve got ways of tracking whether a players sees an ad or not, and that will be how the money is generated.
I'm still not clear how this works in-game. I don't think they're going to pop you out of the game to a Web browser. I wonder if you have to physically click on the billboard ad or something.  icon_confused
One hundred percent of the revenue that’s generated from the in-game ads is pushed back into the development team and the game. What’s great about that is that customers have an additional way to support the product and service that they love without ever having to open up their wallets.
Hopefully they'll put that in writing.  icon_smile They're saying all the right things (in-game ads *optional* for the life of CoX, the money will *only* be used for CoX team/development etc.), but people like to see those in writing.

Brian: I think anyone that is reading between the lines can see that City of Heroes is still strong and growing, but why in the heck would NCsoft buy just the current state of City of Heroes? We expect, within the next few months, that we’ll be able to make some of these huge announcements and let people know where we’re going with the franchise and what we want to do with it in the future.
10786  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Happy 10th Anniversary StarCraft on: April 10, 2008, 04:56:34 PM
I dug it and Brood Wars out maybe 2-3 years ago, and I was surprised by how much fun I still had with it, how interesting and varied the campaign missions are, and how gripping the storyline still was/is (esp. compared to just about any other RTS I've played). Maybe I'm just a mushball, but I still got choked up about Kerrigan in that Particular Mission even when I knew what was going to happen...

I still hit a brick wall maybe 1/2 or 2/3 through the campaign where I just couldn't keep up anymore. But really, I have that problems with every RTS (even my fave Company of Heroes).

And even though I'm part Korean, I do not sleep in Starcraft pajamas nor do I have Zergling posters or Protoss Crunchy Sugar Bombs Cereal, nor do i feel the need to refer to a "tank/solder etc. rush" in every single game as "Zerging."  disgust icon_lol
10787  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Any problems with UK versions of games in the US? on: April 10, 2008, 01:20:06 PM
I think the only UK PC game imports I've bought over the years (thanks to GoGamer, they'll carry the UK version if a North American release is either lagging/not yet available, and there's customer demand for it) were Operation Flashpoint in 2001, and Sacred (both eventually got North American releases, but I was impatient). Both worked fine, even online, as long as my versions were compatible. It did feel strange having to remind myself to get the UK version of a patch (once the N.A. releases came out).  icon_neutral
10788  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: CGW..or if you must call it GfW is no more on: April 09, 2008, 06:05:42 PM
I think I have some precious 1992-1995 or so issues I might see if I can photog some later, though I guess there's a Web site that has all the cover images.

I'd wax about CGW, but I guess there was already a lot of that back when it became Games for Windows. To me, the whole Games for Windows branding has mostly been a flop (or at the best, pretty pointless). The ballyhooed "kiosks" never seemed to take shape at any store I've seen (Best Buys in my area briefly grouped GFW-labeled games but they don't seem to bother anymore now). With my aging PC, seeing the "Games for Windows" logo on the box has generally proven more a reason to Fear the Unknown... Tongue

More and more I just don't bother reading/buying U.S. print mags anymore. I far more enjoy reading the UK mags EDGE and gamesTM (multi-platform) or Total PC Gaming, and PC Zone (PC). I think there's also a UK PC Gamer that's pretty cool (totally separate staff than the U.S. mag, and larger paper). If you really need dead-tree reading (even just something to skim at a bookstore for a while), I recommend all of those in particular. Borders usually has EDGE and Total PC Gaming; Barnes & Noble usually seems to have gamesTM, Total PC Gaming and sometimes PC Zone.
10789  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Business lessons learned from WoW on: April 09, 2008, 03:01:30 AM
As far as LOTORO goes, Turbine late last year said it was making its first push with LOTORO into Asian markets. See this interviewy:
"I was in Korea two weeks ago at G-Star," said Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel. "We went there to sign out distribution agreement with NHN, who run Hangame."

The agreement is the first step in their effort to bring Lord of the Rings Online to one of the world's hottest MMOG markets.
So, that's a good point to make, and it'll be interesting to see if LOTORO gains some steam there.

My take on WoW is it's Lightning in a Bottle. It came out at just the right time. It has drawn tons and tons of people who never played an MMO before, and may well never play one after they quit it. I can tell you lots of stories of gamer buds I had whose lives revolved around military shooters, who said they'd die before they ever paid $12-$15 a month to play an online game. And well, WoW proved them wrong.  saywhat And heck, most online comic guys you can think of probably never gave MMOs a second look before WoW, and they live and breathe it now.

I just think to some extent it's pointless for columnists and reporters to try to draw any lessons from WoW. It's not some formula you can pack in a bottle and sell. It's not some spreadsheet you can copy numbers into, and then get the same results. I fully don't expect Age of Conan (and its audience-shrinking M-rating) or Warhammer Online, or anything else on the MMO lists I see to do anything more than a drop in a bucket compared to WoW. I don't say that as a WoW fan (I bought it, played it 3 weeks and have never felt any urge to try it again), just as a realist.

What's lost is you don't *need* those numbers to succeed. You don't need 8 million worldwide subscribers, or X # active subscribers to call your game profitable. I really hope Age of Conan and Warhammer Online at least succeed to the point of "earning their production costs back," so their investors don't feel like they invested millions of dollars into a black hole.
10790  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: CGW..or if you must call it GfW is no more on: April 08, 2008, 09:43:30 PM
Talk about timing. My mom and aunt were doing a "forced Spring cleaning" of my computer room. I kept pulling out stacks of old magazines and saying "Yeah, I don't need this crap anymore" and marking them for tossing.

And then I saw a milk crate full of 1992-1995 Computer Gaming Worlds and issues raving about X-COM, Doom, X-Wing, and Crusader: No Remorse. *Change of Heart* "Nooooooo, these I can't let go of just yet."  icon_smile

I hate to say "I told you so," but I was lamenting to folks on other boards a year ago that GFW had shrunk well below 100 or even 90 or 80 pages on occasion. It was so wispy, you could read it in about 2 minutes at a bookstore rack. I couldn't see how it could keep surviving in the state that it's in. People kept telling me they had "re-done the format" and that's why it was so tiny, but you just can't survive on that little advertising revenue.

The sad thing is how little game-related advertising (with so many franchises going multi-platform, there really are fewer and fewer PC-only games advertised, outside of MMOs) was in some issues. If it wasn't for all the gamer PC boutiques advertising, some issues would've been almost bereft of ads (yeah I know, we'd all love that, but you can't stay in business with a no-ads-in-your-magazine model icon_neutral).

I'm sure they're going to lather up "going to the Web" as the smart thing to do, but I work in print magazines myself and it's the high priced color print advertising that pays my paycheck and keeps us in business -- the advertising in the e-mail newsletter I work in is more of a supplementary income for us by comparison. I already saw this happen to too many publications ("Hey let's go online only! Oh wait, we can't make enough money from blinking banner ads to pay everybody! Oops!"  disgust). I know though they're part of a larger overall network, and I hope it does well enough for the staffers to keep working in the long term. smile

P.S. Oh these days my favorite PC gaming mag is the UK import, "Total PC Gaming," which is big, beautiful and probably seems horribly overpriced ($8.99 or $9.99 I think in U.S. bookstores) but at least that's because it's on oversized pages, not because of a useless DVD-pack in. Enjoy it before Imagine Publishing comes to its senses.  icon_lol
10791  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: April 07, 2008, 06:25:38 PM
Not to be a hypothetical wet blanket, but presumably the whole point of NDAs (usually up until an open or "open stress test" beta) is people not badmouthing "works in progress" publicly when they're still balancing and polishing. So I'd recommend limiting even cleverly-worded-hypothetical discussions to PMs (if at all) unless you want the moderators here to get upset. icon_neutral

I don't think we're too far from open beta if it's really going to make that May 19 release. I'd imagine later this month or early May it might open up more, although the devs indicated it will still be a "controlled" open beta and not one where you just download, get a key, and poof.

I've gotten really skewed perceptions of certain games the last couple of years in late betas (because the launch version game was so improved, or they held certain content back for launch), that scared me off at launch and then I got the game later. I'm not sure I'll try so hard to get into early-mid betas so much any more, because I really feel they've given me a wrong impression of the final product (which is another way of saying I'm a sucky beta tester  Tongue).
10792  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: April 05, 2008, 02:43:24 PM
Emmert piped in a little on a "things CoX did wrong that Champions Online will do right" thread (as a COH-homie, I find it a little sad to be slagging a successful 4-year old game for what it is not -- if it's so awful, NCSoft wouldn't be doubling its manpower and re-investing in the game imho, they'd instead dump it in the virtual landfill with Auto Assault; but that's besides the point)....
Quote from: Jack Emmert
My own perspective on this:
1. Power customization
2. Supervillains (and interesting supervillain battles at that - not just bags of hit points)
3. Something other than combat
4. Interesting rewards
5. More varied environments
The power customization is sounding more like color and some effect customization. Fans of course want to claw for custom animation of everything, but as with the Studio Formerly Known as Cryptic, they spend a lot of time backtracking from the idea of being able to customize animations or everything because of those pesky "it takes too much manpower/hours/money to do" issues.
10793  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 05, 2008, 03:12:46 AM
They are gearing up for a very (initially) small closed beta, which starts *next weekicon_cool (however, "when it's done" is for sure a good guess when it will go live, it just depends on the feedback they get)
Starting next week (April 7 - 11) we will be entering the closed beta testing for Issue 12: Midnight Hour. We want to give you this advance notice, because the Training Room Test Servers will become unavailable for the duration of the closed beta. We anticipate that the closed beta phase will last for several weeks.
I wouldn't expect it to hit live for some time. This is another one of those "mother of all updates" that's going to need an awful lot of balancing and tweaking. And even then, when it does go live, I expect you'll hear more kvetching than at any time since the infamous Enhancement Diversity issue.

Worst of all, it won't make Ron Burke like the game even!  saywhat icon_wink

fwiw, after a nomadic journey through other MMORPGs (LOTORO, Tabula Rasa, Dungeon Runners), I've canceled the first two, put DR away, and now I'm right back where I started. Strange how gaming life works, huh? All that philandering, and I ended up back with my first true love. The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.  icon_lol

10794  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 04, 2008, 05:11:29 PM
They added a clarification that the optional in-game advertising is scheduled for introduction (after going on test servers for feedback) sometime after Issue 12:
10795  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: April 04, 2008, 03:10:29 AM
I went ahead and canceled my account tonight. In the feedback form, I basically told them I was disappointed with the lack of new content in the 30-50 range, and the lack of work on new zones to give people greater variety in things to do. I really think the relatively piddly changes they're making in the upcoming patch updates are nowhere near what the game needs to improve its retention rate.

They yak, yak, yak about PAUs (Personal Armored Units), and upcoming 40-50 content to make PAUs have challenging things to do, and then they lay off most of the launch team and spend a lot of time doing PR damage control claiming how much of a commitment they have to the game. Stop talking. Show me/show us. Otherwise, NCSoft/Destination Games, you are the Emperor With No Clothes.  disgust

That I was probably the biggest fan of the game here and given up should probably help illustrate about where the game's at.

To me it's a game that can wow you in a 1-week trial. It might even wow you for a month or two, as it did for me. But do you want to spend $180 a year on it? The game has some of the most truly interesting and entertaining MMO missions out there imho. It has cool ideas scattered throughout (cloning in particular). What it doesn't have is enough variety that you don't quickly get bored with all your characters having to do the same missions over and over. It doesn't really have enough end game content for the big majority to even want to reach there. And they keep dangling PAUs as this Holy Grail that's going to save the game, but nothing I read suggest that's anywhere near release.

And no, I don't buy this "well, WoW makes it so no MMO can succeed" lamenting. LOTORO is going quite strong. COH is well past the 4 year mark and while it'll never have a subscriber base that even makes a rain drop in WoW's subscriber base bond, COH is doing fine.  Hell, even DDO, which nobody seems to like, is still going strong.

I'm still concerned TR will end up in the Auto Assault dust heap and developers won't ever try something a little unconventional in MMO land again. I think as long as Garriott's involved, that won't happen. If he suddenly gets cold feet and wants to divert his attention to another game, then I think TR is doomed.

This has been Blackjackodamus, the Mad Profecizer of Doom.  icon_twisted
10796  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 03, 2008, 08:38:55 PM
Today they announced (no joke, really) initial plans for optional (i.e., you can turn them off, but NCSoft won't get any extra revenue then) in-game advertising that would be limited to the billboards and signs already in place:
Our development costs are ramping up in a major way as we look to literally double the team this year to accommodate big plans for the short, medium and long term. Optional in-game advertising is another revenue stream that helps us to accomplish all of this at no additional expense to our players. Ultimately, we leave it up to you, the players, to decide which experience you prefer.
They are also excited about other opportunities this will open up for billboard use:
Another interesting opportunity that the optional in-game advertising technology presents us is dynamically displaying other billboard content. We can swap in new signs that we create much more easily, and we can even display player-created content!

This provides a cool new area for community contests, recognizing great player art, etc. In fact, we are inviting any interested players to submit their own advertising materials in our defined horizontal, vertical and square sizes (see all of the specific requirements here). We will use some of these to test the new optional ads on the Training Room (test servers).
Interesting, though veterans will recall the short lived "movie theater marquee" contest that was held exactly once.  disgust
10797  Non-Gaming / Forum and Site Feedback / Beserk new-thread-starting on: April 01, 2008, 11:14:54 PM
I must say, as much as I love this place, of late there seems to be some widespread injection (infection? ) of "create a new thread about anything and everything that's been announced, one by one, eeeyah!!!!!!!!!" *ques video of Macaulay Culkin racing around in Home Alone movies after a sugar bombs fest*

I have tried my best to honor the "look for an existing thread before you post" guideline -- which is even kind of fun sometimes when you "wake up" a 1-2 year old thread because you learned something new, the board software even basically asks you "Hey, do you really want to dig up this dusty old thread?"  icon_lol-- and I've resisted the temptation to create a new "HEY LOOK! COH ANNOUNCed a New feature from IssuEEEE !@!!!!!" or "OMG THERE"s a NEW VIDEO OUT!!!!!!!!!!!" thread every time NCSOft announces something.

I'm not a mod, and I'm generally "live and let live" (part of the reason I came here was a past board where the single moderator was constantly deleting threads and merging them w/o explanation or "just because he felt like it" or he "didn't like the conversation") so consider this merely a friendly observation and not a demand to "open a can of moderation whoop-arse" icon_twisted on anybody. I was going to share these thoughts in a particular game thread, but I feel it belongs here.  icon_neutral 
10798  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Bethesda sucks and they and anyone who likes them are going to hell (Fallout 3) on: April 01, 2008, 11:05:59 PM
I assume people are just jealous that Emil Pagliarulo, formerly a news grunt at Adrenaline Vault in the old, old days, is now lead designer on Fallout 3.  Tongue

Since gaming news site-dom can lead to such gaming industry heights later, I am counting on Ron Burke designing X-COM 3 next.  icon_biggrin
10799  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: April 01, 2008, 04:57:59 PM
Hey the COH site has a very subtle and amusing April Fool's joke:

City Of Heroes Announces Visual Sounds!

The joke being that they're going to remove all the audio in favor of comic book style "action words."   saywhat The problem is that I really would dig that option, which would finally make the game truly feel comic booky. And I have buds who purposely play without sound on (weird, I know) who might enjoy it.

However, it's a joke.  icon_lol
10800  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes/Villains Issue 12: Midnight Hour on: March 31, 2008, 09:47:18 PM
Official site has some cool info on the improved costume creator:
In Issue 12, players will be able to view the real numbers behind all of their powers.

To allow this, an easy to use button has been added to Character Creation “Show Detailed Info” in the middle of the power selection screen. By clicking this, you gain access to view all the numbers behind the powers in the list as you mouse over it.

What’s more, you can grab the slider at the top of the Detailed Info Display and slide it to various levels to see how the power scales up as you level up! In this picture, you can see how Vengeful Slice will function at level 31.

Also, you can see how the power changes against another player target by clicking the “Show PvP Effects” button.
There's also a new optional "costume sets" button so instead of struggling to find the various components of a single-themed set, you can click one button to get them all in place.

They mention that even if you don't get into closed beta, you will at least be able to check these features out on the test server:
While you may not be able to log all the way into the closed beta, everyone who configures to connect to the Training Room Test Server will be able to get to character select and character creation to check out these great new improvements!
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