Change is Challenging

Borderlands 360 Avatar items available on the marketplace.
Its easier to go to the avatar customization screen to find them as they show what they look like instead of the game download screen.

New Borderlands patch out tomorrow. Its free, new content, the baddies/game should scale better for more replayability. Can't wait!


I was thinking about it at work the other day.. when Arenanet says they intend on removing the standard quest options that every mmo employs, will that not remove alot of 'content' from the game? (also be an incredible challenge for them?)

If there is not going to be the traditional quest givers and there is only dynamic events... doesn't that eliminate alot of direction and content that people can experience in Guild Wars 2?

Sure it removes the grind, the text boxes, the journal full of quests and static monsters who respawn in a few minutes. But if they're not there... what else are you supposed to do other than go to the areas that have dynamic events? Will there be alot of wandering monsters then? How will they tell a story? Wandering around provides only so much fun, its nice to have a path to follow.

In my mind, i see a world like Warhammer Online, but every space is filled with public quests. Will there be incentive to stay in a certain area and grind... will there be incentive to go exploring? Will the scout system take away the discovery process, or will it facilitate getting into the action faster?


Civilizations 5 Higlights - Happy Friday

V is dangerously good.
Another sleepless night tossing and turning b/c I'm thinking and dreaming of playing. One more turn and then i'm done.Till 3 am this time; this is bad.

Everyone is having their review.. so maybe i'll just talk about what sticks out, the good, the ok, the bad:

The new hex format reminds me of Catan (Settlers of Catan).
The removal of stacking units ontop of one spot makes placement crucial but better. I've been playing an archipelego map and there are islands that are so small, its hard to attack b/c only 1 or two units can attack it directly (vs bombardment)

To build units, you sometimes need strategic resources. These resources are not unlimited and usually in small numbers 1-5, meaning you may only get to build 1-5 units that require that resource. Don't think you can get away by trading resources with a civilization and then when the trade is done, you got free units. No. I noticed when the trade agreement dissolved, my Ship of the Line was 50% less effective and my opponents 50% stronger.

I still struggle with concepts of diplomacy such as Cooperation Agreements, Research Treaties (250 gold translates into 1 'free' tech.. but when? 30 days?). I can't tell from leader's cryptic wording whether they're happy, warning me or mad; this makes suggesting defensive pacts hard. Though it was authentic to have these leaders speak in their natural tongue, i would have been happy if they spoke english.

I can actually tell when looking at each city what citizen allocation does, or whether building structure that boosts my gold production at that city by 25% is actually worth it or not. It will clearly outline for you the production of the city: food, production, research, culture, money, etc. Big, bold, easy to find. Happiness is so much easier to manage; i can tell how low it's getting, and buildings affect happiness across the board; no longer is it based on the individual city (too much micromanagement).

The worker unit.. is unfortunately not the best to always automate. Near my capital was a hex that would have 4 production and 2 gold if it had a Mine. The silly worker, when set to automate, would always go there to build a farm instead, when around my capital clearly had many +3 food producing hexes.

Bombardment is a bit tricky sometimes. Sometime you right click on your target and instead of performing a ranged attack, the unit runs up point blank to the enemy. I have to remember more to press 'B' to manually aim and fire. Still trying to figure out the cannon/trebuchet/catapults and how they work; you have to 'set' them first, then maybe next turn you're able to fire.

The game is linked to Steam.. i'm not too sure which it affect this, but in the two LONG sessions i've played, the game has crashed to desktop once each session. Good thing Civ5 has build in autosave, also customizable to be shorter or longer (i'm set to every 5 turns it saves). No disc needed to play... the game does ask me each time what version i want to play; either directX9 or 11.... annoying.

Buying units and buildings is so much easier and makes so much sense now. You can buy anything, at any time, except units if you already have a garrisoned unit, which just requires you to move it out first. So if you have alot of money and settle a new city, you can essentially buy many/all of the buildings to make it grow very fast. There will be policies, wonders, talents that allow you to decrease the purchase amount


Civilization 5 is some Awesome Sauce

I would just like to say: Civilization 5 is amazing.

They're right; you're always saying "just...one...more...turn..."
And then you're late to leave to work. Or its 2am... and you feel like another 'short game.'
I'll write up a review on it, but if you don't like wall of text: Its different, but only in the super fantastic way. Its easy to pickup, even for people that possibly haven't played it before.


Guild Wars 2 Concept: Downed-state

I like this concept of the downed-state in Guild Wars 2. If you're too lazy to read the link, it works like Borderlands; if you lose all your health, you'll go into this state in which you're immobilized but can still fight. In this state if you defeat a monster, you'll get back up with 3/4 health and shields. You have approximately 10-20 seconds (depending on talent perks) to defeat a monster, otherwise you'd die and res at the nearest save point. If you can't defeat a monster in that time period, a team member can run up and manually res you which takes approximately 5 seconds.

I remember playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein on the internet ages ago, in which i'd rack up points playing the medic by running around using the syringe and ressing anyone that had fallen. Fun times; I still had a good weapon to defeat enemies, but had the ability to heal people too.

This will really make a difference in the experience of an mmo I believe. Its not good enough to defeat your enemies in pvp, but anyone has the ability to res a person and come back to life on their own. Though people may not be used to not having set classes that heal, they may find being the support-heavy class instead will be just as satisfying, b/c in their own way (not disclosed yet) they'll be able to keep their teammates from falling.

I hope this downed-state is balanced in that, just like Borderlands (b/c Gearbox nailed it), it would be horrible in (say) a game of Capture the Flag, if half the team was in downed-state and the enemy was capping the points needed. What Borderlands allows you to do is to choose to res while in the downed state if you don't think you can defeat the monster, or if its just more convenient to go to the last save point. This would be good if you lost a skirmish and all ressed at the same time to be able to full coordinate with a stronger group than slowly filtering into the fight (and thus getting demolished 1 at a time).

I'm kind of on the fence on whether doing damage to the downed-player should make the downed-time bar go down faster. In the original Borderlands, damage didn't affect the time of the downed-state bar, you always had the same amount of time to defeat a monster. But in the Zombie DLC for Borderlands, if certain zombies (the slow kind) hit you while in that state, your time bar rapidly diminished. I liked that (some monsters cause the bar to diminish faster) b/c you'd have to be very careful when playing against that kind of enemy.


Welcome back Monday....


The only good thing about this Monday is that its the day before the release of Civilization 5.. so i'll forgive you this time.

Tokyo Game Show cosplayers here

And to poke fun at those Westboro Baptist Church fanatics:


Happy days

... are the weekend... ;)

Some cosplay from the Tokyo Game.. convention? Dunno what the S stands for.

I'll admit other than this guy, the cosplayers were 'ok.'

Have a good one!


PvP Equalization

Anyone recall what WoW does for PVP?
They have the battlegrounds in level brackets. So lvl 1-11, 12-21, 22-31.. etc

In Warhammer, there was equalization if you were under leveled.It would raise you to approximated 3/4 of the max lvl for that lvl bracket (so if lvls 1-11, you'd be lvled to 8). Your stats would be boosted to an approximate lvl 8.. if you had greater, then nothing happened. I unfortunately never got a chance to test it out; to see whether if you concentrated on a few key stats, would the system still boost you, if you were max level, or not. And to what extent: is the stat boost equivalent to a lvl 8 with green, blue or purple (yea right) gear?

I read in Guild Wars 2 that your character will automatically be given all the skills (or preset), gear and max level for pvp. I'm not too sure how I feel about that, and hence i'm writing about it to figure it out.

I first off, like that I won't have to worry like in Warhammer that the other team has more healers than me, or my team has no healers,, meaning instant loss/being farmed. THAT is a great idea. That may upset my friend Capo, Stef and my gf as they prefer the healer archetype; I don't mind healing, but don't like having tons of mods and just looking at tons of health bars and cast healing spells. I do like the power you get from it; if people piss you off, you don't heal them and they die. But we're getting off on a tangent.

So max lvl, same gear and preset skills (or all the same pool of skills) versus varying lvls, with all sorts of gear and some people don't have the same skills due to lvl difference or talent allocation differences. Its obviously frustrating when you're doing scenarios in Warhammer and your team is full of low bracket people, while facing off against max lvled opponents and vice versa is a cake walk. So in that respect, it brings balance. BUT, it feels to me that i'd be the faceless number out there competing. I'm not a unique snowflake anymore. I want to be stronger than others, and feel the rush when I actually are able to take down a stronger group/player. As hardcore as ill get when the game comes out, i'm still a normal gamer, and not hardcore, so I actually think this balacing will be good; I don't need to worry about spending tons of time grinding for the best gear, to max level as soon as possible, be at the top end of the bracket to be competitive. All I need to do is figure out my playstyle and how to play that class/profession and as a team/duelist.

The hardcore pvpers may not like this at the beginning, but I think eventually they'll like this too. Its all fun and great to be dominant all the time (who doesn't like winning?). But it'll be much more satisfying to have a level playing field and win and be able to say "we were all the same level, geared and skills, and we still beat you." Essentially: "we can beat you any day of the week." Big epeen. lol

I look forward to the ability to try pvp first and see all the skills each profession has to have a quick trial of the professions before investing all my time into one class and unfortunately find out its not for me.


Halo Reach Musings

I was cautiously pessimistic when I heard Halo: Reach was coming out this week. Looking like it went back to it's original more futuristic roots than its closer to modern predecesor ODST. I'm not a Halo fanboy.. more like a Halo hater (sorry). I don't like futuristic shooters, thats all. Just like how I didn't like Unreal Tournament, I don't like the Halo series.

I decided it would be best to let my brother buy it, hog the tv and watch him play and listen to the endless stream of complaints and cussing.

I'll give this new iteration of Halo, this:
- better graphics; it looks amazing; there is backgrounds and lots of shiny
- new weapons
- new abilities (running and jetpacks)
- new maps and old 'favorites'
- single player customization of the protagonist (more immersive)
- more customization online

- the guns are nice and quiet, so its ok that he plays next to my room (his cussing is louder)
- i've never seen more people on Xbox Live as this week

I like atleast from what i've seen, that there is no kill streak rewards a la MW2 which unbalance the game. There have been ways players find (naturally) to be cheap:
- I saw in a map (I believe) called Blood Gulch... that normally had lots of vehicles to traverse the long straight map quickly.. had none. Everyone was sniping.. some sniping while using a jetpack and able to score headshots so easily.
There was alot of cussing and dying on my brother's end on that map.

I didn't like also how people have shields. Sure, that means if you're good, you can keep going and going, instead of dying by a stray shot by a noob. But that means to take down that shield, you have to unload a whole clip into someone. Does that mean the emphasis of Halo is to not be a 1man team, but focus fire people? Either way, you either seem to die too easily sometimes, or take forever to kill.

By the way, running should not be a selectable skill but a normal skill. "Oh I don't know how to run"... left foot, right foot..left foot, right foot....

Halo fans.. i don't need to say anything b/c you have it already.
People on the fence... watch someone else play it, or play it at a friends place... its basically the same halo that has been out since the original
Women... play it b/c any girl gamer is hot ;) ESPECIALLY if its halo
Haters... stay away..


Guild Wars 2 Idea Implementation

Bag space.

Who did it right?
Not WoW.
The bag space at the beginning was horrible. If you were lucky, you had a high lvl character or high lvl friends who made you huge bags which made it unfair for anyone else. Its good to be helped by others, but I think the advantage is too great in the bag system that Blizzard has.

Can anyone say: a good mule?

Warhammer Online did it right.
Especially right now, depending on your level, Warhammer had about 20 slots every 10 levels. What made the system shine was it gave 20 slots per the three different kinds of items:
- normal
- quest items (how many times do multiple concurrent quests cause your bag to fill up?)
- trade skills/ingredients (add the quest items and you got nuttin)
- even emblem/signet area

If you were max lvl, and somehow ran out of room, you were doing it wrong, or playing too long without a rest!

Its the 'problem' encountered in most F2P games, which is easily rectified by buying additional bag space. I can't remember the many times I had to think hard which item to drop from my teenie backpack in either Allods Online or DDO.

From all the vids on GW2, I haven't seen any inventory management, and I can't remember how the original worked it, but I hope bag space isn't too much a worry in it's next iteration.


Guild Wars 2 Design Questions

I would love to be part of a mmo developer's creative mechanic's team, as I'd love to figure out the answers/implementation to such questions:

How does the system decide what is an appropriate reward in a contribution-based public/dynamic quest?

I'm going to roll the Norn race in Guild Wars 2; I love vikings/northern type races. More art here.

Is it defined by the actions of the actual dynamic event, or by what they do (dps, heal, CC)?
Granted its a bit easier to streamline this as apparently in gw2 there are no dedicated healers, everyone can heal and everyone can res/restore other people. There still must be a difference/balance made as there will be professions aka classes that are better geared towards dps, while others may focus on support or possibly healing.

Balance is key. I always loved the public quests for Warhammer, but I found the 'vegas' system in how it would draw a random number and combine that with the contribution caused a highest contributors to not get their just rewards, and vice versa. Arenanet should not implement this and have it purely based on contribution, however they discover that formula.

I wonder whether there will be thresholds that determine the gear reward players will get, or will there be hundreds of derivatives of rewards?.. I think I like the latter better; as thresholds may cause people to contribute up to a certain amount, then stop as they know they would be guaranteed a certain reward.


Pushing it..

I can't help it; nothing feels better than taking a great photo. I'd rather take pictures of people, and I actually might get that opportunity in a few weeks.

Its currently my wallpaper, and maybe might make some prints of it. Nothing is worst than taking tons of pictures and then find out none of them are good.

In a future camera, things i'll look out for:
- lighter (granted the more professional it is, the heavier it becomes)
- built in vibration reduction (nikon doesn't have that)
- bigger lcd screen


Just One More... Turn...

There may be limited blogs this week as i'm having internet difficulties.. hope your week is going great!

Link link and link for lots of cosplay from PAX (i went to Fanexpo in Toronto and the line up to get a ticket was 2 blocks long in the scorching heat... and 1 block to get back in.. needless to say, I didn't go =( )

I borrowed my best friend's copy of Civ4 to brush up and get ready for Civ5... and i realized why I traded my old copy in: I could only play at the easiest difficulty and it was so complex that I never understood most of the concepts and just automated most actions. My strategy is just to go pure all-out zerging of the enemies' town.. one at a time.

Boring.. though addictive oddly.


Who bought from me?

Are there any games currently using this feature?

I want to be able to see which person buys my items from the auction house.

I was reading an article by Spinks that talks about how using consumables is being simplified (1 item for mass use instead of having to have a separate item per person). I've never really used the auction house to a great degree, the last game, DDO I used it frequently and made some good money (but did sell a very powerful item without doing the proper research on the right dollar amt).
If I was to make consumables or even just use the auction house in the future, i'd like to be able to see who is buying it; the reason to that is that if i see a certain person is buying my goods frequently, maybe we can cut out the auction house and just sell directly to them.

Benefits: Develop a relationship with that person in-game or even RL
Guaranteed buyer/seller for both parties
Possible discounts for the buyer
Cut out the wait and fees for using the auction house