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10761  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Aion MMO on: February 16, 2008, 01:42:25 AM
Thought I'd dig this up. NCSoft's latest financials ballyhoo this as the only new MMO they're launching in 2008.

It sounds interesting enough but certainly not my cup of tea. The link Daehawk mentioned in August no longer works, btw. This page at NCSoft gives some basic info:
Believe in Aion™ [I'm not ready to, yet  Tongue]

Aion™ is the most visually stunning MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) ever made. Cutting-edge graphics redefine your expectations of online role-playing and reveal a true fantasy world where divine beings wage a war that will determine the future of the world.

Your role in this war is pivotal. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders as you and your allies participate in brutal warfare, devise brilliant strategy, and claim political power.

Soar to New Heights

Glide effortlessly through the skies in Aion™. Flying is not just a means of transportation – flight is an extension of the combat system and can be an integral part of taking on your foes in battle. Clash swords high above the ground and use flight-specific skills to defeat your rivals.

Aion™ adds a whole new dimension to combat as you pluck your enemies from the sky, rain down destruction from above, toss your opponent into the air, and more. This isn’t your usual MMORPG combat – you will need to form new strategies to slay your adversary.

PvPvE [Don't they know, MMO junkies don't like things to get complicated?  paranoid]

Combat in other online role-playing games consists of PvE (Player vs. Environment): fighting computer-controlled monsters, and PvP (Player vs. Player): human-controlled characters fighting each other.

For the first time in the MMORPG genre, Aion™ brings these two game features together in an evolving and seamless system. PvPvE manages the complex relationships and alliances between realms, races and guilds; it also controls the mighty Dragons, a non-player faction and a common enemy to all players, regardless of faction.

Blending Fantasy and Reality [It's not real! saywhat]

Aion™ delivers a new level of graphical detail and world interactivity. Climb sheer cliffs, fly through moving clouds, see water ripple from the downdraft of your own powerful wings and leap gaping chasms. A supremely powerful graphical engine brings the world of your fantasies to life like never before.
I dunno, sounds like Joust.  stirthepot
10762  Non-Gaming / Political / Religious Nonsense / Re: What the hell is wrong with America? on: February 15, 2008, 06:47:16 PM
You won't find an easy answer to these things in Internet arguing now, any more so than when Columbine happened back in 1999. My best friend and his sister took many engineering classes at Va. Tech's Norris Hall (now closed as far as classes go) back in the 1980s, and you can imagine how aghast they were last April. Several victims were from the N. Va. area where I live, including one who graduated from my brother and my best friend's high school.

I don't know what schools can do. They can't afford to have armed guards in every building, metal detectors at every entrance, security cameras in every corner of a campus. Even if you did that, maybe the shooters just move to other public places off campuses.

The recent shooting spree at a town council meeting in Missouri scared me because how many times as a newspaper reporter did I sit through boring town council meetings where some local resident/businessman ranted against the council? (which is what this guy did for years before blowing a gasket).

I'm single, but my niece and nephew will probably be attending college in 6-8 years. Is my brother going to have to enroll them in "what to do if a deranged gunman attacks your classroom?" classes? Maybe schools will have to start having drills for that just as they do for fire drills.

Gun control arguments tend to miss the heart of the matter, which is often either mental illness (Va. Tech), not meditating a long festering dispute before it becomes violent (the Missouri town council shootings), not taking warning signs seriously (Columbine) etc. In other cases it seems like teenagers not realizing that by the time they're 25 or 30, the things that torment them at 16, 17, 18 won't matter at all. I'm 42 now -- I wish I could go back and tell my 16 year old self to not be in such anguish about so many things.
10763  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: *Spits out drink* Bioware working on new KotOR!!!! on: February 15, 2008, 01:08:44 AM
EA told Blue's that the investor relations presentation slide was misinterpreted and no new KOTOR game is planned at this point:
"The slide in John's presentation is titled 'Best Creative Talent' -- it addresses future and past titles. KOTOR, Black, Boogie, Skate and some other titles on the slide speak to past portfolio releases and the pedigree of the studio but do not specifically address future sequels. The MMO in development at Bioware Austin is listed a 'New MMO'. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused."
So we can all now retract our respective speculations, me included.  smirk

The conspiracy theorists will of course parse EA's language and say "do not specifically address future sequels" is a mealy-mouthed way of saying "well if gamers get so hot and bothered about the idea maybe it's not such a bad idea." But right now I'd put it in the Rumor Mill bin along with the "SOMEbody has GOT to be working on an X-COM sequel" wishful thinking rumors. Me, I'm still waiting on a sequel to Shattered Steel. Come on, Bioware, you've got to wallow in the past at some point.  unibrow
10764  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 14, 2008, 06:51:47 PM
Have fun. smile When I was playing LOTORO, I liked it enough to mail a City of Heroes supergroup buddy (he was on dialup) my game discs so he could try the trial version without having to download gigabytes of data. smile He enjoyed it (and mailed back my discs promptly), but his older system/card had a lot of troubles displaying certain textures at a decent clip.

I still haven't found an MMO that solves the problem of making your second go round through a game a fresh experience. I played LOTORO several months but after a couple of characters reaching 40, I really couldn't bear the thought of trawling through the same content again. There the different races have some different, unique stuff early on, and some of their own storyline quests (I did like that), but it wasn't enough to keep me there. Same problem here, even with the clone options.

I'm not sure what would solve that for me. More truly branching quests and rewards? Races with their own completely unique series of quests? More areas meant for players at the same skill level, so with one character you do *this* zone at 30-40, and with your next character you do *that* zone at 30-40.

TR just needs "more." It needs more areas, more content, and crafting needs a total revamp. I'm not ready to yell "doooommmm" but it needs a lot more than what seems to be promised in the immediate future. Just imho.
10765  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dead Marvel MMO Transforms Into Champions Online on: February 14, 2008, 06:40:31 PM
It's a new team (according to some dev posts at the COH forums at the time of NCSoft's acquisition of the City of Heroes IP, only one COH dev team member declined the offer to move over to NCSoft to continue working on it). See that announcement link:

But they've still got Jack Emmert (formerly "Statesman"), and I'm sure it'll be interesting. I know they were hiring and posting want ads like crazy for Marvel Universe. I don't think NCSoft actually acquired the "tools/technology" behind COH so it'll be interesting to see whether this uses some of that (though since MU was console-focused, I'd doubt it).

I do think though, if you think of some popular games where most of the development team scattered to other projects after its release (think maybe of all of 2015's "lead devs" forming Infinity Ward to create Call of Duty, after Medal of Honor: Allied Assault's breakout success in 2002), the ensuing games by teams of new employees under the original developer's name generally didn't match the initial success (in 2015's case, Medal of Valor: Vietnam was the company's epitaph). Sorry I can't think of an MMO comparison instead of an FPS one.  icon_redface
10766  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Mass Effect for the PC on: February 14, 2008, 04:09:28 PM
IGN has a mess of screenies at:

Most fans seem to think this is "best game ever" or at least "Game of the Year." There are enough who think it's overrated, not up to KOTOR's standards, or what have you (although any site that dared not to give this a 5 star, 10/10 type review seemed to drown in piranha-like flaming  mad icon_lol), that I don't really know what to think. I hope there's some sort of playable PC demo.

I assume the PC won't have the loading time problems even the ravest reviews have complained about (wasn't it because they decided not to use the XBox360's hard drive to alleviate that?).

Most PC ports I've played still suffer from "console control-itis," (I liked KOTOR OK -- I even recently reinstalled and try to play it -- but I recall certain menu options still seem better designed for a joypad/thumbstick than a mouse) so color me skeptical on the promise this will be "optimized"  disgust for PC.
10767  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 14, 2008, 04:34:48 AM
TR's "meh" sales get a brief mention in interview with NCSoft's president Chris Chung (near the end):

I'm puzzled as to what happened to April Burba (aka Cuppajo when she was the COH forum moderator), as she was replaced by "Critters" (who I seem to recall handled forum moderation for Auto Assault for a time) recently as community coordinator for TR with no explanation.

I think my time with TR might be nearing the end soon. As much as I like the game, the server is starting to feel more and more empty, and I am in the early mid 30s running into too many times where I've burned through all the missions I'm allowed to do (meaning I'm running into lots of NPCs with "broken" walkie-talkie icons), the instances require help I can't find (due to servers feeling empty at least in the level 30s), and I guess the game really is too much of a grind in the 30s simply because there isn't enough to do and enough alternate zones to go to. And like LOTORO, once I've got a couple 30s in this game (as I do now), the idea of working back through the same content over and over (even from my clones) isn't all that appealing.

My Exobiologist's at 33 with literally nothing non-instance to do, and I don't find grinding half a level of base defense/assault all that appealing.

I guess my disappointment is that the earlier areas like Palisades, Divide etc. seemed to do a better job of spreading massive numbers of quests over a wide level spread. In the 30s, it's just too easy to burn through the moderate amount of content and hit a dead level or two before you can "unlock" more NPCs for more stuff to do.

Plus, I've never really been able to play two of these things at the same time (I need to get going in Pirates soon). But I will probably stick it out until I get a new PC soon.
10768  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / PC gaming alliance (industry effort) on: February 13, 2008, 02:49:01 PM
Blue's mentioned this San Jose Mercury news item:
Companies with a vested interest in keeping the PC alive as a gaming platform will soon announce a consortium dubbed the PC Gaming Alliance. According to two people familiar with the effort, it will include top industry players such as Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices as well as a number of computer companies.
If you're like me, you're probably spitting your cornflakes in laughter that companies that are at each others' throats in the marketplace (Intel vs. AMD, NVIDIA vs. ATI [AMD subsidiary now]), and that a company that makes incredibly popular albeit unreliable consoles (Microsoft) and companies supplying hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of GPUs for consoles (NVIDIA for XBox360 and PS3, and ATI/AMD for Wii) would give a) work together towards a common goal and b) give a hoot about PC gaming at this point.

But I can believe the various PC makers, esp. the gaming "boutique" operations, don't want to see PC gaming fade away although "keeping the PC alive" seems just a little histrionic.  stirthepot

I like the concept, but I just don't think this is going to help the industry anymore than the ballyhooed "Games for Windows" branding has done anything for my hobby -- it maybe would if retailers actually wanted to set up "Games for Windows" kiosks but there seems zero interest in that. I don't think companies whose livelihood is so focused on consoles right now are going to put 100% into an alliance idea like this. It just reeks of either hypocrisy or even irony. And this is real irony, not Alanis Morissette irony.  Tongue
10769  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea open stress test on: February 13, 2008, 02:30:12 PM
IGN has a pretty enthusiastic review up:
Pirates of the Burning Sea is the perfect antidote to the proliferation of traditional MMOs. If you've already grown sick of elves and hot bars, Pirates will definitely offer up something you haven't quite seen before. It's highly original and it takes a lot of chances that pay off handsomely. The real time ship combat is awesome in its tactical complexity and the player economy is deeper than we've seen in just about any other game. Unfortunately, the sword combat feels tacked-on and really cramps our swashbuckling groove.

With all that said, Pirates is one of those games that is likely to discourage gamers early on. And that's a real shame, because it's precisely the type of game that gets better the more you play it.
Like most reviews so far, they have some concerns about lack of tutorials/explanations, the avatar combat portion, UI etc. and worry a lot of folks who try it won't stick around long enough to appreciate its better qualities.
10770  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Chains of Olympus (PSP), March 4 on: February 13, 2008, 04:24:59 AM
From Sony's Blog:
Hey there lovers of mayhem, this is Eric Koch, Sr. Producer on God of War Chains of Olympus. The great news I have to share with everyone is that Kratos will be in your hands on the PSP March 4th. That’s right people, we are now officially GOLD and the game will be hitting your retailer shortly. Hope you all are ready to hand out destruction of epic proportions on your PSP!!!

To be honest, I'm generally disappointed with the 2008 release lineup -- it's looking to be a real let down after a generally outstanding 2007 release year, esp. in the strategy department. There's a little excitement over Patapon but it's mostly "what the HELL is IT?" type excitement.  saywhat

But this looked to be a system seller for a lot of people, and I'm eager to see whether the limited control set on PSP hinders it, or not.

Look for some TV spots soon, supposedly from the CG house that handled the movie 300's special effects (I don't mean the abs Tongue).

"This is MADNESS!"
"No... this is... Olympus!!!!

Hmmm, doesn't quite have the same dramatic ring.  icon_lol
10771  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Roy Scheider died on: February 12, 2008, 01:51:26 PM
That's just the age gap.  icon_biggrin I thought Roy's best ability sometimes was to make you care even in an otherwise pretty terrible movie (Jaws II, which was largely "slasher movie w/ dumb teenagers", comes to mind) or a basically cheesy one (the helicopter combat action flick "Blue Thunder" comes to mind).

I thought one weird thing about him is he didn't seem to physically age well (maybe he just skipped the plastic surgery a lot of them seem to resort to now). He was about 42 when he filmed Jaws, and it just seemed like when he was in his 50s he suddenly started looking like he was in his 60s (about the time of 52-Pick Up).

People downplay Oscar relevance sometimes, but for a lot of actors and directors not known for "franchise" characters and projects, Oscar nominations and awards are about the only thing people make note of in your obituary.

My brother and I loved him in Jaws so much, that we were a bit perplexed by the puzzling William Friedkin-directed (reuniting him with his French Connection director) thriller "Sorceror." I guess we learned we were crazier about the Brody character more than the actor, so we ran back for Jaws II the next year and quite enjoyed it (even if Scheider was the only aspect of it that held a candle to the original flick).
10772  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Marvel MMO is DEAD on: February 12, 2008, 01:41:12 PM
fwiw, here's the "source material" the various news sites are picking up (an interview at MTV's gaming blog):
10773  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Marvel MMO is DEAD on: February 11, 2008, 11:34:39 PM
Lot of fans had been speculating on this for months if only because Microsoft was completely no-comment on MU over that time, Cryptic as well. Of course this begs the question why Cryptic would sell off the CoX properties to NCSoft if it knew MU was a dead duck.

Cryptic does have other "unannounced MMOs" in development, but MU was the game they were supposedly hiring tons of people to work on (supposedly all but one of the remaining CoX team accepted the offer to move to NCSoft and keep working on it). They presumably can't even use the CoX technologies (including the much beloved costume creator stuff) for whatever they're working on now. Cryptic's basically Statesman (Jack Emmert) and a few new hires now -- they're like the now deceased 2015 was after all the MOHAA project leads left to work on Call of Duty  crybaby.

My main problem with MU's concept was always, what are you going to do? One Wolverine is special, 25,000 people running around in a Wolverine costume isn't. Even having your generic super hero fight alongside Spidey, Iron-Man etc. isn't all that interesting. I mean, I enjoyed the concept of fighting alongside Legolas in an instance in LOTORO, but basically he was a brainless AI peon who aggro'd everything in sight. I wanted to "be" Legolas, not stumble around at his side.

And if you were just going to "generic-ize" the entire Marvel backdrop so people just selected various powers that Marvel characters had, well, you end up with City of Heroes, so why even bother with the Marvel license?  Tongue Maybe in the end, they couldn't really figure out these issues and dilemmas any better than a geek like me could.  icon_lol

Even though I canceled from CoX recently, I still have to chuckle at all the people in a panic when MU was announced. All the "COH is doomed!" and "You're going to cancel COH as soon as MU releases!" hysteria looks pretty silly now. Microsoft's long shown they're not really interested in MMOs, only in canceling them (Mythica, backing out of Asheron's Call, now this). Probably they just don't want the headaches of running server farms, 24/7 support, and all the other drudgery that goes with supporting an MMO properly.

The guy's comments seem on the mark though. A lot of people wonder if WoW's success is good for MMOs or if it simply sets a standard nobody else can come close to, and it may even eventually scare publishers away from the genre altogether (at this point, more MMOs are being cancelled than announced).
10774  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: 1UP going from 1-10 scale to A-F scale on: February 10, 2008, 06:21:30 AM
All it means is readers will scream about something getting an A- ("How Dare you!!!!! MORONS!!!!") instead of screaming about some game getting a 8.9/10 ("How can you GIVE THE BEST GAME EVER A 8.9/10? MORONS!!!!!!") or what have you.

Once they realize review scores mean boo for game sales (I've seen Games of the Year flop in the sales department, and mediocrely scored games sell like crazy), and take some valium, this change will pass as well.  Tongue
10775  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tips, Tricks, and Automobiles..Tabula Rasa.... on: February 10, 2008, 01:24:18 AM
Was desperate for a solution for an annoying puzzle quest in the Pools area ("Spy Networking," which requires a lot of clicking at a computer terminal while the NPC user is sent away). After checking a foreign language TR forum, learned about a fairly useful fan site (it's in English) called

Sure enough, they had a solution for Spy Networking at:

Definitely a good site to bookmark for TR. Whew.  The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.
10776  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 08, 2008, 10:39:34 PM
Me being of the pea sized brain, I'm doing one tutorial a night. I'm fine with the space combat stuff, the economy stuff I think might overwhelm my micro-managing abilities, but I'm hoping my once-a day gradual introduction will let me gradually wade in.

I speak as representative of the "never played a 4X game in my life" crowd, not the "Stardock veterans" crowd, btw. smile
10777  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: 2/8/08 Stargate Worlds screenshots on: February 08, 2008, 06:13:44 PM
I have to roll my eyes at the comments threads at that link. It doesn't seem like anything in the MMO space can be judged on its own merits anymore. It's either "just like WoW" (dismissed like a clone) or "not enough like WoW" (therefore it won't have 8 million subscribers and can't succeed). C'mon people, take the blinders off and try to look at stuff individually. I can remember when WoW was blown off as an "Everquest wannabe."  Tongue Or at least be more imaginative and accuse things of being Everquest clones and Dark Age of Camelot wannabes.

Hey, I forgot to really roll my eyes.  Roll Eyes That's better...
10778  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Vanguard on: February 08, 2008, 03:52:30 PM
If it seems like we all rush from one game to another (like birds moving on to the next piece of bread in a park smile), it's probably because most off the world is in console land these days.

So if any PC game draws some interest from the few hardcore PC gamer types, I tend to follow like a lemming (Hellgate, Tabula Rasa, Pirates of the Burning Sea and the non-MMO but fun-in-co-op Sins of a Solar Empire are all things I decided to try after reading a lot of posts from the PC gamer types here). Maybe there'll be only 5-10 people posting about it but if I sense they all have genuine enthusiasm for something, it tends to help me feel comfortable about trying something. This is my off-kilter compliment to this place. smile

I give SOE some credit for keeping things like Vanguard, The Matrix Online and Planetside with modest subscriber bases when it would be all too easy to send them to Auto Assault land. Even if Vanguard hadn't been an unfinished mess at launch, the fundamental marketing problem seemed to be that if you're saying you want your game to only appeal to hardcore gamers (which they did), then the chances of said game being a "mass" market success seem pretty thin. And if said game costs a fortune to develop, and is too niche a game to appeal to a mass market in the first place, how does the dev/publisher expect to recoupe the costs?  icon_confused I'm not suggesting the game should be dumbed down, only that if I handled marketing for that game, I would've been lost as to what to do.  paranoid
10779  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 08, 2008, 12:15:33 PM
Ten Ton Hammer had a brief community Q&A with "Critters," who seems to have taken over "community management" chores from April Burba (CuppaJo at COH forums way back):

Quote from: NCSoft's Critters
Visual armor customizations
I think most players will agree, as you level through the game, it’s really nice when you get options to look more and more impressive. Everyone knows the feeling when you start out as a newb, and you see your first level 50 - you can just tell that they put a lot of work into their character by the style of armor that they wear and the abilities that they use.

We plan to add more options for character customization in the future. At the moment, the armor sets are getting optimized (this should be in 1.5) to allow additional pieces to be added in the future.

Personal Amor Units will help in this area too. The PAU concept art hasn’t been released yet, but I can tell you they are very grandiose in nature and will hopefully scare the hell out of the newbies when they see you.
A few other bits. They're looking into ways to dye the "secondary" portion of armor (generally, that seems to be "fixed" in color now, depending on what you got, and it's only the "main" color you can alter).
10780  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Is Vista 32 bit or 64 bit better for gaming? on: February 07, 2008, 05:02:18 PM
Blue's pointed out an amusing "Microsoft responds to 'Save Windows XP' petition":;1294412345;pp;1;fp;16;fpid;1
The spokesperson said Windows will not disappear completely from the worldwide market place after the June cutoff, stating the software giant understood that some market segments such as small businesses and emerging market customers require "a little more time" before they upgrade to Vista.
Upgrade? See? There's the rub. My next PC will pretty much have Vista whether I like it or not, so I'll eat my words soon enough.

It's just...
-Does Vista make games run faster? No.
-Does it make more efficient use of system RAM? No. There's a reason most Vista PCs come with 3-4GB of RAM.
-Is it a more stable OS than XP? No. Many games have problems with Vista.

-Does it fix all the security holes and ActiveX problems in the OS and IE? No, I don't think integrating a sloppy firewall (that most people are going to shut off, as far as the "do you want to let this application run" feature?)and spyware program that aren't up to the standards of third party programs is a great improvement in security.

-Do games look better? Arguably maybe, but I don't see gamers bashing doors down for the barely discernible graphical improvements.

-Does it do anything at all to justify the expense and the performance hit your PC takes trying to run it? No.

-Is there any reason for the OS beyond the fact a new OS gives Microsoft a chance to make more money than continuing support of an old OS? No. I have no doubt they're selling a zillion copies, but at least part of that is them forcing OEM makers to offer only Vista.

What's lost in all the hullabaloo is that XP is probably the best liked of the Windows incarnations (I guess some have a soft spot for Windows 98 SE, but I often had to reinstall that to fix issues). It's the most stable Windows OS I ever ran. There's nothing offered by Vista that upgrades my gaming experience, aside from DX10 graphical enhancements that probably aren't worth the performance hit. Sometimes I'm curious if the Vista team is the same as the XP team or if completely different folks worked on each.  icon_confused

A bud in my TR clan said he built a PC with Vista. He's convinced Vista with the Service Pack 1 is now "almost just like XP." (ironic, no?) Except his computer constantly crashes, and locks up. He's convinced the problems can't have anything to do with Vista.  Roll Eyes Tongue

I realize all this Vista-bashing has been done to death. deadhorse Just wanted to have my one say. smile

fwiw, I'd probably suggest staying 32-bit for now. Some disk utilities I've looked into that are Vista-compatible specifically state they don't support the 64-bit incarnation. One example is System Commander (which eases the process of running multiple OS's on one machine), which I thought I might look into as far as running XP and Vista on the same machine.
10781  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire? on: February 07, 2008, 01:48:59 PM
>> I have to say my initial impressions are that it feels a little soulless but that's not really what I came to this game for anyway.

A lot of people accused Homeworld of that. So maybe that's a compliment. smile Space tends to feel that way (maybe more 2001: A Space Odyssey than Star Wars) unless they inject a soap opera aspect into it.

I'd love to get in the co-op, though I think it'll take me a while to reach the point of being mediocre, much less competent. I was able to get "Blackjack" as my Iron Clad Online name.  icon_cool
10782  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 07, 2008, 05:34:17 AM
Penny Arcade's Tycho seemed to like this (from their news bits):
Quote from: Tycho at Penny Arcade
Installed Sins of a Solar Empire on the Night Engine [that's his pet term for his uber expensive gaming PC, I think:)] yesterday, to see if it would be something we'd consider advertising. Uh... yes. Yes. Yes a thousand times over. This is why it's nice to work with a smaller company, because if they want to advertise something on your site, they're not pulling from some budget a year in advance of the game's release. Stardock sent a full, boxed retail copy of the title and asked if we'd be willing to promote that, as opposed to some theoretical game they might be making in the future. I'll talk more about it on Friday, but I am kind of bowled over by this thing. That someone would pay me to recommend a game as entertaining as Sins of a Solar Empire is really the most ridiculous kind of crap.
Can't get a higher recommendation from him than that. smile They get a ton of traffic there, and generally when they say good things about a game it really does have a beneficial impact.

Just as when they tell their readers someone is evil, bad things happen to that person or game.  icon_twisted
10783  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 07, 2008, 04:26:17 AM
I at least did the first tutorial. It looks fine, but it's not the kind of game you play to justify a $600 SLI set up or a $3,000 gaming PC. It runs great on my hoary old AMD64 3200 while still looking solid. smile

fwiw, the recent Joystiq interview with the producer/lead designer touched on why there's no traditional RTS campaign:
Quote from: Ironclad's Blair Fraser
A 'campaign' in a 4X sense is not a linked set of missions that tells a story like it would be in a standard RTS. The campaign in 4X games is typically a sandbox galaxy where you usually begin with one planet and expand to conquer the rest of the galaxy; and it isn't really any different in Sins than it would be in Galactic Civilizations or Masters of Orion. In the standard Sins game you will start with a single world with some basic upgrades, a frigate factory, 2 construction ships and some nominal amount of resources.

Of course there are plenty of starting parameters to play with: you can generate your own random map, you can design your own map with Galaxy Forge, and you can choose from over 25 initial handcrafted maps some of which vary the starting setup (I suppose these could be called scenarios). We'll be adding more custom setups to some of the maps in our free bonus packs and modders are already busy creating their own that will be available for download. Ultimately, the setup is really dependent on how you've chosen to play.
It seems like the idea [Since I am a 4X newbie cretin, I may be restating the obvious  smirk] is that each map is in itself a huge, sprawling sandbox campaign where you can do what you want -- rather than a fixed RTS campaign where you encounter the same scripted forces here and there, in an effort to accomplish fixed goals etc.

I'm not knocking that (Starcraft has some of my favorite campaigns ever, even when replayed), but I understand better after reading the interview why this doesn't do that. And for me, just about every RTS campaign is one I couldn't finish. Trying to get through standard RTS campaigns is like running a marathon after eating a box of Krispy Kremes for me, even in ones I loved like Company of Heroes, Starcraft, maybe even C&C: Generals.

And if you recall how long fans begged Relic for any sort of Homeworld editor tools, the fact this has powerful user tools at launch is pretty impressive. smile

If I suck at this game, I'll take all this positive stuff back later though.  Tongue
10784  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 06, 2008, 05:58:54 PM
Even though 999 voices in my head screamed, "NOOOOO! It's too complicated! Your pea-sized brain won't have a chance playing it!" I instead listened to the one voice that is sick of FPSs, full on MMOs, not interested in consoles (no, not even Mass Effect -- a lot of my hardcore PC gamer buds have bought an XBox360 to play only that one game) and just wanted to try tackling something a little different on PC.

We'll see how that turns out because generally I listen to the mass of voices, not the one.  In this case, the power of one ruled. The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.
10785  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea open stress test on: February 06, 2008, 05:08:05 AM
Was reading a Gamesplut interview:;title;2
Some interesting thoughts on solo vs. grouping (apparently about 80% of the missions are soloable):
There's a temptation to try to ensure your players are always having peak experiences, involved in groups, and attacking difficult challenges. The temptation leads to things like FFXI's mandatory grouping. On the other hand, if you can always solo everything, while you avoid that problem, you never have those peak experiences.

What we're trying to do with our new content--Red Tide, a challenging low-level mission, and the upcoming Bey's Retreat, a very difficult midlevel encounter--is strike a balance between the two. You can level up solo, but at the same time there are these handcrafted, involved, complex pieces of content waiting for you to get a group together and attack them.
So if I'm using a merchant ship and I team up on one of these instances, do I contribute by catapulting crates of spices? Maybe Rum?  drillsergeant
10786  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Looking for POTBS Buddy Key on: February 06, 2008, 01:12:05 AM
I got the game but I'm not going to set sail for a while. You're welcome to my buddy key (I'll PM you the info if you like). I assume you can still use it even if I haven't installed my game yet? Just wasn't sure.  icon_confused
10787  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 05, 2008, 04:17:24 PM
Edged up to 31 last night. I tried a point in Corpse Explosion, and in Hormonicus (probably misspelling this  icon_confused), both Exobiologist skills.

*Corpse explosion basically sets a corpse on fire for a few seconds (I wish it didn't take so long to go off) and then provides Extreme splash explosion damage. It isn't gruesome at all though (there are no internal organs flying Tongue). I think it could be useful in base defense/assault situations when you have Bane crowds and corpses everywhere.

*Hormonicus (or is it Horticulturis?) actually grows a big green plant out of a corpse (you can't use this power unless you have a corpse to grow it from). It provides a health/power buff to nearby AFS, and a squadmate can actually "use" the plant to get a health boost. I don't think it's going to be all that useful though (we're always on the move in the game afterall). I would think base defense, maybe inside the fortress, might be its one use (it takes damage, so I don't think you can drop it in the middle of a base defense battlefield and expect it to be useful).
10788  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: nVidia buys AGEIA on: February 05, 2008, 02:00:48 PM
I briefly looked into the AIEGA PhysX card a while back, and the fundamental stumbling block to me is the card does not improve graphics performance/speed in any wayicon_confused I was like, "huh?"

To me the only selling point was the idea (wrong on my part) that it might take some stress either off your CPU or regular graphics card to display PhysX effects, but everything I read said it doesn't improve performance at all (vs. the "non PhysX version" of a game). Only a handful of games (City of Heroes/Villains is one, and I think the late Auto Assault was another, but I've heard little good feedback about the optional effects) support it, and it really seems like an odd acquisition. It makes sense for AIEGA though -- nobody much is buying their cards, and devs aren't clamoring to offer the PhysX support. Unless NVIDIA or ATI/AMD bought into it, it didn't seem like it would ever find widespread support.

Speaking of Auto Assault, dev Netdevil is no doubt praying this means a wider user base for PhysX, because their current free game project Warmonger is focused on it (, though it appears they pulled back on the plan to require PhysX (there's a demo, and PhysX is supported but optional). They've said in interviews though that Warmonger "is not playable" without a PhysX card. Oops.  saywhat
10789  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 04, 2008, 08:47:41 PM

Quote from: Tals on February 04, 2008, 01:53:41 PM

You want to try World in Conflict - that plays on a much lesser scale in terms of units being controlled.Tals
Unfortunately, it's a system backbreaker (I should've realized that when the hardware sites started using World in Conflict as a "video card stress test"   saywhat) Plus, I think it's maybe only the second RTS I ever played that gave me motion sickness problems. Moving the camera around made me feel like I was sitting through "Blair Witch Project" again (or the current "Cloverfield" for you youngsters out there).
10790  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Hellgate: London jumps from 0.70 to 1.0 on: February 04, 2008, 08:38:45 PM

Quote from: unbreakable on January 31, 2008, 08:35:24 PM

My biggest hatred of Hellgate lies in playing inventory Tetris.  I just won't do it anymore.
I would think at least one person at Flagship would've tried Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, which just let you auto-rearrange your inventory a couple of different ways (either everything crunched against the top or bottom, or everything crunched to the left or right side) with one button click (saving an endless amount of Tetris-ing frustration). C'mon guys, steal a smart idea now and then!  disgust

I'd love a hack 'n slash where the inventory had 3 different sections (armor, weaponry and potion/scroll etc.) and everything just tumbled into its own section automatically. I think that'd save so many headaches just right there.

Why don't they just hire us all as UI consultants? We could save them a lot of heartache.  Cool

At some point I'll try to get the last part of the new patch (the MP client patch I think) to install again but my first couple tries failed and I got fed up.
10791  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 04, 2008, 02:12:24 PM
I finally did the new Hybrid quest stuff in the Mires, which unlocks the new races. Basically these are just options for ugly alien heads on your character models and a few slightly different attributes starting points (honestly, I think what players wanted was something truly visually different, and maybe at least a few unique quests for a new race to do).

It seems like the contact "unlocks" at level 30, and is a contact near the waypoint in Bann LZ in the southern, middle portion of the Mires maps. It's a series of quests, nothing too fancy. There's one where you have to purposely get killed by a Bane Caretaker, and the key seems to be to just take most of your armor off and then let a caretaker have their way with you.  Tongue

I'm still convinced that as much as devs think people "don't want the grind" in MMOs, they do. If you can just race through the level cap in one of these in 2-4 weeks, then chances are you'll be saying sayonara shortly after that (even if you work some clones up through the other classes). In a more typical MMO you might be lucky to get 5 levels in that amount of time. Heck in COH I couldn't get one level in that amount of play time in the Level 40s unless I resorted to various common exploits impatient players resorted to. I enjoy the game's combat enough to stick around even if I end up re-doing the content over and over (somewhat like Diablo stuff in that regard), but I don't really know if the game's "lack of grind" is good or bad for it in the long run.
10792  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 04, 2008, 01:51:47 PM
fwiw, saw this in the Best Buy flyer ($39.99 I think), ballyhooed as "Available Tuesday by 2 p.m." I empathize with Thin_J, though in my case about RTSs in general. Even the ones I really liked in recent years (Company of Heroes, and Act of War: Direct Action come to mind), it's the early, smaller unit action I enjoyed. Once it becomes a giant, "controlling zillion units" kind of game (pretty much every RTS boils down to that eventually), I get overwhelmed and lose interest (even when I can pause and give orders, which Direct Action unfortunately didn't include).

I don't think I ever played a "4X" game (I assume X-COM counts). I did buy all the Homeworld games, and the visual similarity here has drawn my interest even if it appears to be a different kind of game.
10793  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Batman Begins...ya Im late on: February 04, 2008, 05:11:38 AM
Back in 2005, my newspaper job allowed me some schedule flexibility. So I caught a Tuesday midnight show (technically, 12:20 a.m. Wednesday, after endless trailers) of Batman Begins at a nice theater. I actually saw "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" first because I got to the theater about 9 p.m. and couldn't think what to do to waste 3 hours (was too far from home to go there first).

I got out of the theater about 3:30 a.m. I remember we all gave it a big round of applause at the end and there was a lot of "Wow that was a great movie!" chatter as I walked out into the Gotham City-like darkness to my car.  The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.

I'm sick about Heath Ledger, but hopefully his by all accounts unique Joker portrayal will be a fitting (if tragic, I'd rather have him seen keep growing as an actor) epitaph for him. There are a lot of marketing concerns, but July's a long way off and I think it would be a tougher (e.g., more uncomfortable) marketing situation if it was due out shortly.

One thing to watch in The Dark Knight -- the costume designer said in an interview they were finally able to make the costume's neck in such a way that Bale or his stuntmen can twist their neck around. They seemed to indicate it was "fixed" hard rubber in BB, so he would have to sort of shift his body to look in another direction. Just a little thing, but it should let whomever's playing Batman look a little more natural in terms of physical movement.

I liked the '89 Batman, but I never sensed that Tim Burton had any affinity for Batman. His interest was strictly in villains and their warped henchmen. I wanted to like Batman Returns, but something about watching Danny Devito vomiting black blood as the Penguin seemed completely too far from the comic book Penguin.

I knew once I read about Chris Nolan and writer David Goyer digging through DC Comics' Batman archives for research before writing Batman Begins, that it'd be something special and not another Big Studio Hack Job comic book film. smile Goyer, who a while back was canned as director of "The Flash", I think has some storyline credit still on TDK. Nolan's brother wrote the TDK script so hopefully it'll be as interesting.
10794  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea open stress test on: February 03, 2008, 03:51:30 PM
Gamespy had a pretty enthusiastic review:
They retain some concerns they had early on about the lack of better tutorials to introduce new players (it seems to throw you into the deep end of the pool quickly, I gather), and the avatar stuff doesn't seem to match the ship stuff in quality (even people I know who lack the game say it needs some work). Other than that, they're pretty crazy about the ship stuff, the "meta game" (where PVE, PVP and combatants and merchants all contribute to something bigger), the quality of the single player quests, and just about everything else. smile
Even better, regardless of level or preferred play style everyone in the game can make a meaningful contribution to their nation. Freetraders who like playing the economic game are needed to produce and deliver the goods that generate unrest. Generating unrest opens up PvP zones outside the port that attracts Pirate-players looking for valuable booty. This in turn pulls in Navy players to protect player-merchants and Privateers hunting Pirate scalps. One of the most extraordinary experiences in the few weeks since the game launched has been watching the discussion in the chat channels move from people just out for themselves to a genuine "patriotism" for their in-game national identities.
I spent some time at least reading the manual, and the ship guide in the game box last night. The manual is OK but sort of screams "buy the official strategy guide if you really need guidance."  icon_neutral It's cool that fans designed the ship models displayed in the ship guide (I think they did so using the ship editor long before the game even hit beta, if I recall).

And from some interviews I've read they do plan to work on avatar animations, and some new camera views for ships so that you can focus in on your ship captain/avatar more readily.

I haven't set sail yet, but the game box is opened, so I'm committed.  icon_smile I'm big on protecting people, so I thinK Navy might be my style.   The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you. Er, assuming I get competent at the ship combat that is. Otherwise, you might see me steering a yacht.  icon_mrgreen
10795  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 03, 2008, 02:56:39 PM
I just wish there was a "disperse your army" button. I don't think there is, and when you have a horde of zombies with you, combat can get a little confusing.  icon_confused

Here's current Injector Blackjach pics (login, and in game). Dark blue w/ gold/yellow gloves is that clan's official color. I usually get bright stuff, but the darker "home brew" paints are actually kinda cool looking I thinks.

I usually disable the helmet view in-game, but it's always on in login.
10796  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 03, 2008, 06:54:37 AM
Last reanimation for the day:

Went back to an earlier instance full of Atta spiders. So I reanimated a few dead hordes for fun. It's a visual hoot, and when they all throw their boulders in unison at an enemy, it's fun to watch. smile
10797  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 03, 2008, 03:55:30 AM
I'm not sure what This Is.  saywhat I assume maybe this was some beta tester perk or something? (Unicorn's Head). It's certainly not Polymorph (which lets you adopt a Bane disguise), afik. NOTE: I'm told this was just a fun "3-month reward" for veteran players. smile

I had fun reanimating almost everything in sight. You can even reanimate bosses, though early levels give you a pet several levels below what the corpse was.

And why reanimate one Miasma when you can use the signature skill Reanimation Wave, and reanimate an army of them? (though it's not as effective as you might wish  icon_biggrin).

This actually did help my teammate and me a bit but that particular area in Plateau is now (due to the respawn rates and how rabid the various miasma are in the graveyard) probably one of the nastiest hunting grounds in the game.
10798  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 02, 2008, 10:01:37 PM
Yeah supposedly crouching improves acc and damage a little, and firing from behind cover improves your defense, but honestly, it's so fast paced, most of the time people just mow through things and don't worry about it. I obsess about that stuff, but the general populace ignores it and you can probably be happy either way. smile

As much as I like the game, I am not really a fan of the knockback that Atta spiders and some other enemies pull on you. Mainly it's cause the animation engine is extremely sluggish at handling things like that (this isn't an FPS engine, there's no ragdoll physics as in City of Heroes etc.), so you'll find yourself struggling mightily to recover from knockbacks and stuns (and the animation of it looks a little cheesy because it's so sluggishly portrayed). Not so much because the enemies are nasty, but the game engine just doesn't seem able to visually animate that sort of thing quickly.

I'd have a hard time illustrating this unless I could find a way to show some footage from COH of a hero getting knocked back (smoothly), side by side with this (where it's almost stuttering).
10799  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Screenshots (dial-ups beware) on: February 02, 2008, 05:09:14 PM
Got Injector to Exobiologist today:

Clone's fun. You just need to buy some medical micro mech (quite affordable, easy to stock up on) to use stuff like clone, reanimation and reanimation wave.

It uses some occasional animated rippling of the clone to remind you it's your clone. The clone doesn't have the "helmet not visible" option so in my case that helps differentiate. It's a "dumb pet" so it's prone to blast everything in sight, and uses the same weapon that you have equipped.
10800  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa Name and Server List on: February 02, 2008, 05:45:12 AM
I got onto a pretty friendly and large clan called Misfit Mercenaries:

They're supposedly a group of older players and they've been having various guilds in various games for about 10 years. I've only met a few of them online and it's not crazy active, but they have quite a few members. The guy who invited me (Motovar, or something like that) is a lotta fun and gabby. So even if there aren't many people on, you can count on him keeping the clan chat channel busy. smile

If anyone's interested in it, message me in game and I'll see if I can get  you in. There's no initiation. smile But I don't think my character's got clan invites yet.

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