Daily Blogroll 1/1/11 — Happy New Year edition

We’re way behind on our latest project at work, so I’ spent most of Friday working. I did take a break, though, to log on and participate in the final Beta 3 invasion event this afternoon. I’d spent all night (until 4:30AM) leveling my cleric from 12 to 20, and though I didn’t get a chance to visit the Iron Tombs, I did want to help keep Freemarch free. I’d leveled from 16 to 18 in a raid group at one of Thursday’s invasions. That also earned me nearly enough planar currency to get some nice epic items. I logged on, joined in, and earned enough to get some “purple” leggings. Good stuff.

While waiting for the servers to get turned off, I ported over to the Guardian lands and tried to invade the scholar’s grove. Those places are MADE for PvP — as you near an enemy stronghold, the familiar rift/public quest panel gets added to your quest display, and you get a nice list of goals that need to be met in order to capture the area. First, kill the guards. Then destroy the wardstone. All the while fending off the enemy players, who are being summoned to the area by broadcast warnings.

I could post a lot more about Rift — lots of people are. It’s all a reminder of the similar enthusiasm around Warhammer and Age of Conan etc, where the betas were incredibly fun and everyone was stoked. When the games went live, the laid back beta fun turned into laser-sharp focused achievements and min-maxing.

Will this happen to Rift? Of course it will.

Anyway, let’s see what’s on the collective blog-consciousness, this start of a new year.
Continue reading Daily Blogroll 1/1/11 — Happy New Year edition

Daily Blogroll, 11/30 — Worst Case Scenario edition

World of Warcraft’s forthcoming Cataclysm expansion (1 week away!!!!) is still setting fire to the blogroll today. Hey, if all a MMO has to do these days to generate some buzz is destroy the world, well, I have a couple candidates who could use some devastation.

I logged on to Vanguard yesterday evening to check on how my characters had fared in the big colossal server merge last July, and was shocked to find that whenever it was I last logged into the game, there had been no patches since. For a game that has had zero developer support in eleven months, the community there still seems vibrant and positive. You just can’t kill a good community.

You know? Forget EQ Next. EverQuest doesn’t need another reboot. EverQuest players are never going to jump ship to a completely new game, anyway. Why not VANGUARD Next? Come on, let’s start a petition or something.

Crunchy hot blog stuff after the break.
Continue reading Daily Blogroll, 11/30 — Worst Case Scenario edition

Assault on the Inbox

Another week, another truckload of gaming press releases.

Bioware announces their new downloadable content for their Dragon Age RPG, “The Darkspawn Chronicles“. Meant as an alternate story — one where your character from Dragon Age: Origins and Awakening dies during the Grey Warden initiation — here you command the forces of the Darkspawn against the remnants of the forces of Light, led by the man who wouldn’t be king, Alistair.

Complete the module, unlock an item in the main games. And hey, you can buy some replica swords with which to terrorize your friends, family and co-workers. THAT won’t get you arrested. Perfect for slaying any stray Darkspawn you happen to meet on the bus.

Jolt Online announces a new toolbar for their Legends of Zork browser game. The toolbar will let you keep track of your character when you aren’t playing the game, but are in your browser (IE and FF only, folks. Sorry, Safari and Chrome users) where… you could just load the game up if you wanted to see this information. I wondered idly on Twitter if this apparently useless add-on had some nefarious purpose. And I got a reply!

@tipadaknife of course we’re not using our new toolbar to spy on you! We already have covert viruses for that…less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@JoltOnline went on to explain:

We get happier players, and happier players are more likely to keep playing our game (and buying stuff). It’s that simple :P

If you’re a Legends of Zork player, and want to install this toolbar, well, Jolt will give you 60 extra action points per character on your account. My gameplay these days is pretty much limited to seeing how my Accountant sidekick is doing with my stash.

I found out that there was ALSO a toolbar for XFire that can detect you playing browser games, but it only works in IE, so sorry everyone who prefers another browser. It also optionally loads plugins, like music players and stuff, which you likely don’t need. I use Chrome, so toolbar authors hate me. Or something.

Swords and ships MMO Florensia wants us to know about all their new and fancy outfits. Outfits are nice, but I always liked the sea game better than the rather standard land game.

I doubt I need to mention EverQuest II’s new $25 mounts. The uproar has been amazing, especially since Blizzard’s own quarter Benjamin horsey of last month was hailed by millions as manna from heaven. Fools and their money are soon parted and all that. Can’t use the cash cats in most dungeons and on most raids. I wonder if they can be used in the battlegrounds? Anyway, if you have a fin and a couple sawbucks to spare, here’s a place to spend it.

I think everyone should only refer to money with slang. I’ll go first.

KingsIsle uncovers another shadowy figure from their forthcoming Wizard101 expansion, Celestia. The huge crab, dressed in shell armor and carrying a wicked polearm, looks menacing enough. If Celestia continues the trend of new Wizard101 worlds, we’ll have to kill approximately a million of these critters at half an hour per fight.

Dragonspyre is SO TEDIOUS.

Anyway, that’s all the barely relevant stuff from this last week. If you’re a game developer and want to send me press releases, please do! I love getting mail!

One if by land, two if by sea: a second look at Florensia

Tipa standing by the docks in Roxbury

I was a little surprised to see that my character from Florensia’s open beta last year was still around, though naturally I’d entirely forgotten how to play her.

To get back up to speed, I put my Saint (healer) aside and started a new character, an Explorer (ranged dps specializing in guns). The very detailed tutorial took me through setting skills, inventory management, ship construction and combat, and I was just about to set out on my new life as an Explorer when I read in chat that people were desperate for Saints in their higher-level groups.

So I went back to Tipa and went my merry way… killing ten (strong dodos, weak fungi, wild boars, devil’s scarecrows, etc). Now as back last year, I was struck by just how similar quests and combat were to Dream of Mirror Online. I finished up my quests in the area (leveling from 7 to 9) and headed back to town, because you can be an adventurer in ANY game. I wanted to be a pirate.

Meeting a pirate on the high seas

The port master of Roxbury took great pains to inform me that pirates aren’t bad people — in fact, most of them consider themselves “gentleman pirates” who would never harm an honest sailor.

Ah, but some have sailed into a more troubled sea — and them — THEM — you must destroy.

Ten of this sort, a dozen of that, and collect banners from these and those if you could, please!

Ships — which you build, crew and outfit, more or less like you do in Pirates of the Burning Sea — come in several types which are roughly analogous to adventuring classes — you have the tanks, the rammers (mine), the gunners (but no healers, unless I missed it). Sailing the seas is a matter of adjusting your sails and course for the best wind, tacking as necessary to ensure you have the upper hand when meeting the enemy. You want to be, as much as possible, out of their firing arc while they stay in yours.

As a land-based MMO, Florensia travels a well-trodden road. There’s little there to set it apart from dozens of similar Asian imports. On the sea, though, is where Florensia shines. The sailing mini-game is fun and strategic, and as far as I have seen, doesn’t require you to ever set foot on land. The game even goes so far as to put floating save points and merchants out in the open sea, and that would be my recommendation: Dabble in the land game, but head as soon as you can for the deep water. You’ll find a sea game far more approachable than PotBS’ slowness.