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Video games, horror movies..

Damn you Steam

Yeah… it is time for the Steam summer sale.  There goes my money.


A few details about Marvel Heroes

So a few things I notice from the screen shot I took of the developer diary video released yesterday.

  • The UI is very similar to Diablo 1 and 2.  On the left we have a health meter and on the right some sort of energy meter.
  • There are multiple hot keys for powerrs on the UI at the bottom.
  • In the center there are two item hot keys, one appears to be a medkit icon the other looks to be a sort of recall key.
  • There is a menu on the UI at the bottom as well and most of the keys seem pretty standard.  I do notice a $ key which may be a cash or item shop key since the game is f2p.
  • Two icons on the left are labeled as Traits and Unique.  The site mentions each hero will have access to specific powers and abilities for that hero only, perhaps these are selected powers from those pools.
  • The rest is pretty standard UI, mini map top right, chat features bottom left.  Nothing innovative there
  • I used this screenshot other any others as it displays some of the loot from combat.  Woven Wristbands is quite obviously just gear that is picked up, but I noticed also Composite Alloy, Steel and White Dye.

That list item raised a few questions in my mind as I was watching the video.  When a hero picks up something such as Woven Wristbands and equips them do they display on the hero on screen or just in the inventory?  Also, are Composite Allow and Steel indicators that a crafting system will exist in this game to craft your own gear pieces?  If gear can be crafted and can add to our heroes abilities and power will there be an auction house to sell that gear on?

The more I see of Marvel Heroes the more curious I get and the more anxious I become to get my hands on it.

What matters most?

Gazillion Entertainment released a new developer diary yesterday to shed a bit more light on their upcoming game Marvel Heroes, this time a video with COO David Brevik .  They seem to be taking the smart approach now of putting Brevik out in front and really pushing the fact that he was one of the creative heads that made Diablo 1 and 2.  Few people could argue that his being involved is NOT a good thing considering the love for Diablo 1 and 2 in the PC gaming world.

Now the game has not really been shown much and lots of comments around the internet are focusing mostly on one specific aspect of the game, or the lack of something.  Players do not create their own character in Marvel Heroes, much as they did not in Diablo 1 and 2.  Instead you choose from existing characters and play thru the game with them and power them up in ways in which are more suitable to your own style.  So yes, there will be perhaps mulitple Iron Man players at one time, but some may be more defensive built or some could be more offensive built.  Add to that the fact that additional skins for your character can be unlocked or purchased and there can be some significant variety on screen.  For those complaining about three Wolverines on screen at once I have to wonder if playing Diablo 2 with three Paladins was a major issue.. so much so that they stopped playing.

Adding on top of the fact that Brevik is involved is that the main storyline head is Brian Michael Bendis who was a big part of the Marvel Ultimate launch.  Few could reasonably question his storytelling abilities.

So the question is what do you really care about?  Is it absolutely important to create from scratch a character all your own?  I remember the early days of City of Heroes where despite the amazing character creator I was surrounded by Wolverine and Superman copies…. hell even some of the names were copies.  Marvel Heroes is focusing not on the character creator but more on the content to experience.  Personally I want to explore some of these zones… I want to run around as Captain America dishing out justice with my shield or play as Wolverine exploring the Morlock tunnels… especially if I can do so during perhaps say the Mutant Massacre.

I like the approach they are taking with Marvel Heroes.. is it an MMORPG?  Hell if I know.  Will it be massive?  I am not really sure what that means anymore.  I do know it will be online… I do know it will have multiplayer aspects.. not so sure about the actual ‘role playing’ though.  I see it being more of a online mulitplayer action game with large amounts of collectibles and unlockable items.. and marvel characters… and to me that sounds pretty enjoyable.  That is what matters most to me as a gamer… enjoyment.


The friendly faces of The Secret World

About to log back in for a few more hours of TSW but wanted to share a few pics of the warm folks waiting to greet you in and around Kingsmouth.

Nothing like battling a large fungus looking monster in the shallow waters


uh… money shot?


I love the detail in the monster’s back… the ridges in it’s spine


With tomorrow being the 4th of July I expect to get quite a few solid hours in tonite, maybe even get out of the ‘starter zone’ finally.  I think I have a few more hours of misc side quests I can do before I am 100% then I can continue the main story line mission in the Savage Coast area.

I have to comment that this is one of the only MMOs I can recall playing in recent memory that has not had this invisible pull trying to get me to rush to the next zone.  I dare say I actually care about the stories more then anything else so far in this game and my play style is reflecting that.


A true modern setting MMO

I have been loving my time in The Secret World the past few days for so many reasons.  A refreshing skill system, multistage quests with actual stories to follow, interesting NPCs.  One thing that has been really great has been the setting Funcom has choosen, modern day.  There is something about going places and questing that could actually exist in the world, like Kingsmouth.  Exploring that town just feels like a New England shore town to me, everything from the mentions of their clam chowder to the mining history museum.

Well one player on the forums that goes by the name Vladimir actually has taken a few photos of New York where the Illuminati are based to show just how accurate Funcom is with some of their settings.

These pictures are just amazing.  Major props to Funcom for being so accurate.. and even more points to Vladimir for getting this pics.  I choose to just post the pics as a link to the forums may stop working if they move things around… and the thread is getting lots of attention since Ragnar himself has already commented on it.

What makes a successful launch?

The Secret World early entry period started yesterday for pre-orders and I must say that thus far Funcom is doing a superb job of handing things.  I know no matter how things go with the launch of TSW there will always be those that want to point back to Age of Conan and Anarchy Online and talk about how horrible things were, but I prefer to live in the moment, and at the moment I am having a blast and enjoying my purchase 100%.

This post though is not going to focus on the game itself, I plan on doing that in segments, this is just about the launch and my experience with the process.

I did have a slight delay in processing my purchase via paypal, but once I switched to a CC the order went thru within minutes.  My name reservation was easy to set up and my beta client patched to the early access client without any major issues.  Once I got home from work I was easily able to log in to the character creation menu without any delay.  I have read that from time to time the client locks up at the character menu but by shutting down the client and restarting it will sort itself out.  I have not had to deal with this yet myself but since the forums are not on fire with anger I trust the restart works for most players.

The character creation is pretty much as simple as it was in the extended beta periods, perhaps a few new added options here and there though I did not notice anything remarkable different.  There is already an announcement on the forums that a ‘plastic surgery’ feature is being worked on for a later period that will allow players to redo their appearance once, free of charge, with the exception of changing your gender.  After the initial redo of looks you can still choose to do this in your faction hub, but it will be at the expense of PAX.  I have no issue a developer adding in more content to the character creator post launch, especially when they offer access to it for free to early players.  As it stands I was able to make a character I am happy with at this point.

Once in game I have had nothing but a smooth experience.  I am playing on Arcadia, the RP dimension.  Lag has been a non-issue for me so far even at bottle neck points such as the Sheriff’s Station in Kingsmouth where players are bouncing all over.  I should mention that the population is nothing like what I saw in some other launches, but I have no idea if that is due to me choosing the RP dimension or just low numbers.  Technically with this being early access this could all go to hell on the official launch but I really think a good portion of players are already in the game and do not think a ton of retail buyers are out there.

There has been a report of some players having a delay in getting their pre-order items via the store, but once I was settled in Kingsmouth I opened the store and clicked on my items and they were in my inventory in about 2 minutes… not an issue at all.

I have not suffered a single crash since starting to play yesterday and today I plan on getting to some heavy traffic areas, such as the PVP zones and some of the dungeons.  I am interested to see if things stay as smooth in more congested areas… and especially how things will be later this week when the official launch happens.




Just how amazing is The Amazing Spider-Man game?

First a declaration.  I am done shopping at Kmart for video games.  Yes, you read that right, Kmart.  They have had some pretty great incentive deals over the last year or so that have saved me a bunch of money on my console purchases but things are becoming more trouble then they are worth at that store.  Yesterday was launch day for The Amazing Spider-Man and both of the Kmart stores near me had no copies to sell.  The helpful ladies that looked to be old enough to collect Social Security did their best to assist me in searching for the game but came up with nothing but Edge of Time… no thanks!

So after much chaos I grabbed a copy at my local Best Buy, which along with a free copy of Spider-Man 2 on Blu-Ray (which includes $10 off a ticket to Amazing next week!) is not a bad deal.  So on to the web crawling!

I will not go so far as to say it is amazing, hell I would not even say spectacular at this point.  I will say it is the most solid Spider-Man game in years and a ton of fun.  By choosing to bring the camera in on Spidey Beenox has really captured the insane web slinging and those moments perched on a ledge or antenna are just fantastic.

The Amazing Spider-Man is set shortly after the film which should have been a great thing since movie tie in games usually are horrible and give away the film before even seeing it.  The problem though is the game gives away just about the most important plot developments for the movie during its intro cinematic!  I will not go into details about them, but they are major.  What the hell Beenox?!

Anyways, Spidey is set loose into the city to complete story line missions that advance the game along and in between is free to stop local crimes, compete in Bruce Campbell directed challenges and do some freelance photography as well.  All accessible from the handy dandy Oscorp smart phone HUD.  Completing these missions/challenges earn XP which go towards upgrades in the nature of longer web rush, stronger punches and fast web slinging.  During the course of missions Spidey can find various items such as tech points which go towards upgrading his tech, such as stronger webs.  All and all a nice incentive to seek out and complete side missions.  The issue however is a majority of these side missions are just the exact same thing over and over again, and not just the mission, but the dialogue as well is repetitive.  It seems to me I have stopped the same thugs from robbing the exact same women at least half a dozen times already and each time Spidey tells her to ‘stay frosty”.  Car chase missions are basically the same thing over again as well… web rush to the car… plaster the window in webs and dodge the shotgun till the finish.  The car chase mission looks cool but I really would have liked to have seen more variation in the missions overall.

Many comparisons have been made to Arkham City, and people have been right to do so.  The Amazing Spider-Man employs a similar combat style as AC did, just not nearly as fine tuned.  While in AC you could flow between striking, dodging, parrying and launching special weapon attacks… in Spider-Man you basically launch a barrage of punches then flip out of the way and toss objects at the baddies.  Still a fun system.. and later a bit of variety is added by being able to grab thugs with webs and toss them around, but overall not as complete of a system.

I am not overwhelmed by The Amazing Spider-Man, but I do not regret my purchase.  It has been fun thus far and knowing my gaming habits I will attempt to get everyone of those damn 700 collectible comic books out in NYC which will be more then enough value for my dollar.  What I am most excited about those is the future for Spidey with Beenox.  They have laid down some nice basics in this game and hopefully will only improve upon them..  much like the improvements in Arkham City from Arkham Asylum.


The scourge of 3D

So we are now only one week away from the release of The Amazing Spider-Man movie and I was just online looking to secure a ticket to an early midnite showing… rather see it with a theatre full of geeks.  Anyways, the closest theatre to me is only offering Spider-Man on three screens… and all of them in 3D.

I hate 3D.

To me it is a gimmick.  Sure some films are made specifically with 3D cameras, such as Spider-Man, and utilize the technology well, but it is still a gimmick.  A gimmick that on average costs $2 extra.  It is then a gimmick that is lost when the film moves to the home format as the 3D format is still not widely used by home viewers.

Even in a movie that is filmed in 3D like Spider-Man I can not help but imagine that scenes were crafted specifically to play to the 3D aspect as opposed to the overall quality of the film.  Perhaps worse then this though are post production conversions to 3D like Clash of the Titans.. a film made in 2D with 3D laced over top creating just a cluster fuck of a film quality wise.

Oh… and I hate wearing the god damn glasses!  Just let me pay my $12 and watch Spidey do some web slinging… make the movie stand on its own… no fancy 3D please.


Dungeons of Dredmor

I have been trying to pay more attention to the indie titles as of late, you know, do my part to support those that work in the hobby I love.  This week I picked up Dungeons of Dredmor on a wonderful Steam sale, 70% off.  A game would have to be quite horrible to not even be worth the simple $2.25 I paid for it and its expansion pack, thankfully DoD well exceeds my expectations.

Dungeons of Dredmor is a 2D roguelike dungeon crawler but with an added wicked sense of humor.  In fact, it is that sense of humor that has kept me playing the game.  I have uncovered so many small jokes or references that I keep going forward to see what else I can uncover.  I have thus far encountered references to The Secret of Monkey Island, Conan, Evil Dead and just so many other things that the game has endeared itself to me.  For the jokes and attitude alone I find the game well worth the price.

Complexity wise, DoD is actually quite involved.  The game very much follows the basic formula of RPG style games with attributes that increase/decrease based on equipment and such, and skill points are allocated to purchase new skills each level.  You do not pick a class in the traditional sense, but you do start by picking a set number of skills which pretty much determine your class.  Combat in DoD is turn based and adds another layer of tactics to the game.  When facing several batties (an actual name of creature) I can choose to face them head on or funnel them into a tight hallway then unleash a fire strike that engulfs the lot of them.

The levels in DoD are vast, expansive and completely random, so when you die you can start over and not have that horrible experience of running the same content again over and over.  And die you shall.  The game seems quite simple and easy in the beginning but as you descend deeper into the dungeons things become much more difficult.

Dungeons of Dredmor is not breaking any new ground in gaming for sure, but what it does do is make me laugh out loud and that is something I will gladly pay a few dollars for.

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

True visionary writer.  I grew up engrossed in many of the man’s works and while it is sad to see him pass, he had an amazing 91 year run at things.  Carry on good sir.

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