Archives for May 2007

Traveling in Everquest 2

I haven’t posted a lot about Everquest 2 lately, but after reading some recent posts about how good Everquest 2 is becoming recently and all the fun other bloggers are having with the game, I have found myself playing EQ2 quite a bit lately.

I recently dinged thirty and decided it was time to find some new stomping grounds. But, since I suffer from RPG-OCD, I had to make sure I left no quest unfulfilled. I decided to take a look at my quest journal and worked on wrapping up any quests I have left over in the Commonlands. Now that I’m heading north of level 30, I figured it was time to bid farewell to the open plains of the Commonlands with one last quest clearing hurrah. The first thing I did was to get my first mount:

My new mount

I figured getting my mount would facilitate all the running around I’d need to do to wrap up my quests. For the most part, I like traveling by horse, but I do have one nagging issue — horseback combat. If I was some kind of ranger-like character, shooting my bow from horseback or if I was a caster, throwing fireballs from the saddle, I would be fine with it. But I am a bruiser, with attacks like “Flying Kick” and “Haymaker.” My hands and feet are my weapons of choice. In fact, I don’t even have a weapon equipped. So when I attack something from the horse, it looks really lame as my arms are flailing around all crazy-like. Not very cool, so I usually dismount to smack around the bad guys.

After I finished up almost all my quests in CL (EQ2i.com rocks!) I had a good session of exploring. Finding new areas, seeing new sights and uncovering the fog of war on a new map is one of my favorite things to do. I guess I’m an Explorer (actually, I’m: AESK (Achiever 60.00%, Explorer 53.33%, Killer 40.00%, Socializer 46.67%)). I had already explored most of Nektulos Forest, so I moved on to the Thundering Steppes, exploring most of that map and finding the Griffon Stations. Then I ventured to The Enchanted Land. At level 30, that area looked a bit out of my league, but I did find the next tier of harvesting nodes, so I spent some time harvesting some items so I can work on my Provisioner skills during my next crafting session. I’m pretty excited about that.

Last night, while wrapping up my last couple quests in the Fallen Gate, I decided to join a PUG and head deep into the bowels of the FG and make our way to “the Vault”. It was also an excellent time, as all the guys I grouped with were pretty cool guys and we kicked 7 different kinds of butt. It was pretty awesome. Two barbarians led the way (my bruiser and a paladin) and we pretty much tromped everything in our path. The loot wasn’t great, but since I had never been that far into that area, there was much Achievement experience to be had.

All in all, a good couple weeks of EQ2. Everquest 2 is firmly ensconced as my #1 game. I initially thought it would be a game I would play 1 or 2 times a week at most, but I don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon. I’m already making plans for my first alt!

Forza 2 setup, DIY style

I plan on picking up Forza 2 in the next week or two. Not sure if it will be a rental or a purchase, but I was a big fan of the original Forza Motorsport for the Xbox, so I figured I’d try my hand at Forza 2. Never mind that I wasn’t any good at it (I played it like I played Burnout 3. Not a good combination). I have no plans, however, of picking up the Xbox 360 driving wheel. With my current entertainment setup, it would be rather impractical. Unless, of course, I put in a little elbow grease and made my own little racing wheel set up, like this guy did. Here’s the finished product

I’m just not that handy.

Looking through some of these threads of other people’s setups is impressive. I love me some driving games, but man. That’s real love.

(Links via Dethroner)

Get Out the Gamepads Summer’s Almost Here

By way of introduction, I figured I let everyone know a little bit about myself and then we’ll get on to the good stuff. I’m a 30-year-old gamer who grew up playing Nintendo and PC games who has been married for seven years and has two boys ages 4 and 1 1/2, and you could probably say I’m a Nintendad. I work in the IT industry developing and maintiaining web sites that run on the technology that is behind this one. Sonic was cool, Punch Out should have the words “Mike” and “Tyson’s” in front of it, and Tie Fighter is the essence of a pure of computer game.

Now that that is out of the way, here’s what I’m currently playing with some quick impressions. You’ll probably be seing future posts that revolve around these games, though there are some suprises I’m not sharing right away.

  • Crackdown for Xbox 360: My Game of the Year (currently) for 2007. It’s a great game for blowing off some steam. This was the game that caused Tony and I fits (well, really it was me doing something else). It’s also the first game in which I’ve bought downloadable content, and that should say something because I think most content on Xbox Live is too pricey.
  • Pokémon Pearl for the Nintendo DS: I’ve never played a Pokémon game before. How can Nintendo put all that digital crack in an itty bitty plastic case?
  • Titan Quest for the PC: I’m a little late to the game on this title, but I never played any of the Diablo games either. I hear its supposed to be similar. For some reason I’m compelled to play…a long time. My longest play session was four hours. That cannot be good.

Now this is where you come in. Let us know what you’re playing.

Big site announcement!

I’m extremely excited to announce the first addition to the blogging team here buttonmashing.com! Frequent commenter Nat (aka agentgray) will be joining me as a co-blogger here at buttonmashing.com. Even thought we’ve never actually met “in person,” I’ve “known” Nat for a while now. Through the wonders of the internet, we’ve played a bunch of Guild Wars together, spent time in each other’s Animal Crossing DS towns, and had quite a few chats about all things video games. We’ve tried unsucessfully to get together on Xbox Live, but I imagine that will change now that we’ll be colloborating on many things, including games on the Xbox 360.

As of right now, we don’t have any fixed plans as to what type of things Nat will blog about, so he’ll basically join me in various discussions about whatever games/gaming related material that we find interesting or that we hope you readers will find interesting. While we have a lot of gaming interests in common, I think Nat will bring a different point of view and experience in areas I don’t necessarily have the background to cover.

So join me in welcoming Nat to the site! Welcome aboard!

Season Finales

** Needless to say, spoilers abound below. **

Lost

First off, I just finished watching the season finale of Lost. That was how a season finale is done! Everything about the episode was great. The pacing, the action, the suspense. The flashback-that-wasn’t had me riveted. I’m dying to know whose obituary Jack had found! I was a little sad to see Charlie go, as he was the reason why I started watching the show to begin with, but someone had to go. (And is he really gone anyway? You never know with the Island) Everything about this episode was great. I had let my Lost viewing lapse a few months ago, but I’m glad I picked it back up.

As a stark opposite of the greatest that was the Lost finale, the Heroes finale demonstrated how not to end a series. I was deeply disappointed with the Heroes finale. Everything up to the last ten minutes was shaping up great, but the ending was a huge “meh.” I had hoped that all the “good guys” would finally gang up on Sylar, with Peter or Hiro delivering the final blow, but they didn’t go that route. I was glad that some loose ends were tied up, but I was wanting a little more super-hero action. And who was the really bad guy the little girl was worried about?

Even though they ended a couple weeks ago, My Name is Earl and The Office both ended strongly. This season of Earl was lacking something, but the last couple episodes were great and the finale was pretty sweet. The scenes with Randy and the two little Hellions were great. The Office is starting to get a little too “soapy” for me, so I hope they go drop some of the Pam/Jim drama and go back to the practical jokes on Dwight and more episodes like the Pretzel Day episode. That’s TV comedy at its finest.

Finally, I don’t know if 30 Rock had a finale, but that show is quickly becoming my favorite show on Thursday nights. I used to hate Tina Fey on SNL, especially when she did Weekend Update (is that all she did?) with Jimmy Fallon, but I may have just been projecting my white-hot hatred of Fallon onto her and not giving her a fair chance. I do, however, have much love for Tracey Morgan and anything he does, so I’m glad I stuck around with 30 Rock. I’m hoping that weirdness that happened with Alec Baldwin doesn’t spell an early end to the show, as he’s crucial to its success.

Now that all my shows have wrapped up for the season, I’ll hopefully have more time to play some video games. I don’t know why I let myself get caught up in TV shows, but I do. I even go as far as letting them dictate my schedule. It can’t be healthy. I don’t know what I’ll watch now. At least I still have Iron Chef America to keep me company.

(BTW: I don’t know if 24 has wrapped this season up yet, but if you survived to the end, I’d love to hear what happened. I stopped watching when Jack was going to save his girlfriend from the Chinese. It got too hooky for me after he strung up the bad guy in chains.)

Now downloading you-know-what

27% complete as of 2248 EST.

Update: A few thoughts on the beta before I pass out.

The Good: It feels like a Halo game, to a tee. The maps are very detailed and seem to be well balanced. The new weapons are a hoot. The new vehicle, the ATV is a blast to drive. Plays tight and quick.

The Bad: It feels like a Halo game. I guess I went in with expectations higher than I should have, but there didn’t seem to be anything that struck me as novel or innovative. That may have been unfair to expect from a beta, but I was hoping for something to wow me. The graphics aren’t bad but certainly could look better. I think Bungie dropped the ball here. They could have blown everyone’s socks off with some amazing visuals and left everyone wanting more. As it stands now, they look good and will probably look great in the finished product, but I was hoping for amazing.

The Ugly: Bungie and Microsoft’s preparedness. They have known for months that a lot of people would be joining the beta via their Crackdown discs. The fact that it took over half a day to figure out what the problem was and correct it was very disappointing.

Overall, Halo 3 is going to be a great game that has a long shelf life and is going to sell a lot of 360’s.

Watch someone else play the Halo 3 beta

If you’re like me, you’re sitting at work, watching the clock click down to quitting time, so you can rush home and download the Halo 3 beta. While you wait for the whistle to blow, you can watch a live feed of “The Outlaw Master C” play Halo 3 live.

(I know that URL looks scary, but it’s “Outlaw’s Cam” not “outlaw scam”. I promise!)

Thanks to my buddy Dark Reyule for this one. I need to play this game, like NOW.

Update: And, of course, just like Mike points out in the comments, there are still problems. Those of us trying to get in the Beta via Crackdown are still waiting. Bummer. With the Cavs playoff game and Lost, it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting to play this until much later than hoped. Double Bummer

Search me!

Jack BauerI get visitors from search engines all the time. As you probably already know, people search for some weird stuff. Unfortunately I don’t get the hilarious search phrases all the cool bloggers get and mock, so I’ve never had enough funny searches that would warrant a blog post. Until today, that is, when someone hit buttonmashing.com searching for:

how to become a jack bauer

Wow. I don’t have anything witty to add to that. I simply want to meet the man (or woman) who wants to become a Jack Bauer and shake his or her hand.

On a 24-related side note, I stopped watching 24 a few weeks ago and started watching Heroes again. 24 got stale and jumped the shark with the whole “save Audrey from the Chinese” storyline. Did I make a mistake? Or was it still an over-the-top cheesefest?

Settlers of Catan – Must-download title

Settlers of CatanSo I know I promised impressions of Pokemon Diamond, but I’ve only logged about an hour in Pokemon because I’ve been playing a bunch of Settlers of Catan, the excellent downloadable Xbox Live Arcade game. I’ve actually been putting a lot of time on the 360 in general, but most of it has been playing Settlers.

I’ve only played a couple games with real players, but both games have been a revelation. I think Joystiq hit the nail on the head last week when they mentioned the lack of renobs on Live. Maybe they’re busy playing Gears or working on some new colorful epithets. Whatever the case, the guys I’ve played with have been pleasant, if rather quiet. Not a lot of chatting going on, with some players without a headset altogether. Playing faceless opponents makes the stress of playing on the table-top non-existent. It’s a lot easier to turn a trade down when you don’t have to look the poor sucker in the eyes. No Xbox Live camera for me!

Playing against the computer is a mixed bag. Overall, it isn’t that bad, but sometimes it gets frustrating. There are times when I honestly feel like the computer is cheating with the “random” dice rolls. A game I played last night had nine (9!!) straight rolls of a four. Of course I didn’t have any settlements on a four, but the other three computer players were raking in the resources. I hope that is the exception, not the rule here. It’s also really easy to game the computer into getting what you want. I’ve offered a trade (say a wood for a brick) and then offer the trade in reverse (a brick for a wood) and the same computer opponent takes it. That breaks a bit of the feel, but playing with real players will solve that problem.

Games against the computer can be completed pretty quickly, but the online games seem to last a little longer. That’s not too much of a problem, but with no saving mechanism, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. But I’m really enjoying Catan. If you’re online and are looking for a match, shoot me a line.

I promise I’ll get to Pokemon, as the first hour I played was positive. But with Halo 3 beta in a couple days, I’m thinking my game playing time will be consumed by that and not much else. Pokemon can wait.

(Excellent picture of the Settlers board game from n0wak’s Flickr stream)

Halo 3 stats ready to go

Halo 3 BetaJust saw over on Duncan Mackenzie’s blog that Bungie is now listing Halo 3 beta stats alongside your Halo 2 stats. I had completely forgotten how in depth Bungie’s stat keeping really is.

Here’s my Bungie profile page. I obviously have not played any Halo 3 matches yet, otherwise this blog post would have never happened. Nor would that lawn have been mowed or the kids fed. I’ve already put the family on alert that I will be in “Beta Mode” next week.

I poked around some of the stats from some of the Halo 3 matches that have already taken place, and Bungie looks like they’ll be topping themselves in the stats department with Halo 3. I also noticed some new medals listed on the game summary pages. I am such a huge medal whore. This will not be good for my sanity. Here are a few I noticed:

  • “Killjoy! End an opponent’s killing spree – any spree.”
  • “Death from the Grave! Kill an opponent after you have died.” (we call that the sissy grenade around here)
  • “Laser Kill! Get an opponent with the Spartan Laser.”
  • “Shotgun Spree! Kill 5 opponents in a row with the shotgun without dying.”
  • “Oddball Kill! Get a melee kill when holding the oddball.”
  • “Sniper Spree! Kill 5 opponents in a row with a sniper weapon without dying.”
  • “Flag Kill! Get a melee kill with the flag.”

To say I’m looking forward to playing this game next week would be quite the understatement.

There are currently 1100 players playing Halo 3 as we speak. Lucky!