Death of a Bruiser

If MMO’s were girlfriends, I would be one no-good, lousy, uncommitted boyfriend. But I just can’t do it. I can’t commit. I try my darnedest to do my part: I get excited about patches and expansions. I join guilds and get involved in the community. I drag my friends into the game with me. And invariably, I fizzle out. After I pass the initial honeymoon stage I start thinking, “am I really going to be doing this (grind, craft, boring Fed Ex quests) to the exclusion of everything else? And pay for it, too?” Then I get that sick feeling that I’ve been hoodwinked and I’m wasting my time. Then I bail.

It’s happening again. Everquest 2 is on the outs. It’s nothing EQ2 did. Overall, it was an enjoyable game with fairly agreeable players playing it. I had fun playing a Barbarian as a Bruiser, even if I did spend the last few months in a wrestling singlet. The world was beautiful, the gaming was satisfying and the grinding wasn’t super “grindy.” But not everything was perfect. The crafting, a very large factor of my overall enjoyment of an MMO, in EQ2 (as a Provisioner) was the most boring thing I’ve ever convinced myself was “fun.” Spending two hours a day for over a week crafting the same five items, because “hey, I have the raw materials,” is not fun. I even out-sourced the crafting to my wife. I showed her how to do it while she was emailing or playing spider solitaire on the other monitor. I OUTSOURCED MY FUN. Except it wasn’t fun.

So my adventures in Norrath are over, at least temporarily. I say that everytime I quit. “Temporarily.” But it never is. It’s permanent, no matter what I tell myself. My character in Neocron, my beloved Constructor, is gone. My Planetside what-ever-they-were called, gone. My army of Guild Wars warriors, kaput. My EVE pilot is still docked somewhere in space, awaiting my return. While I’d like to think we’ll meet up again, it probably ain’t happening. Same with Odious, the big lug. I’ll miss him.

I am a console gamer at heart, PC gamer by convenience. I’ve loved me some great PC games, but my gaming started with a console and I can’t deny my pedigree. There are currently just too many good games on the 360 (and the Wii, which at some point soon I will get). That’s not even considering the DS. So something had to go. It was time to say good by to Everquest 2. It was fun while it lasted.

Farewell, Odious. I knew thee well.

Odious rides off into the sunset

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!

Everquest 2 – First Impressions

I’ve spent about 5+ hours with Everquest 2, so before I jump back into another session, I thought I’d share a few thoughts of my first experiences with the game.

First, a little history of how I play MMOGs. When I play a new game, I jump into the game blindly. I don’t read FAQs, player guides, anything. I jump in, make a character and start playing. Whether I stick with that character or not depends, but I get a flavor of the game and then I start reading the guides, following the forums, and I change my play style accordingly. With that in mind, here’s how things are going so far.

I started my life in Norrath as a Barbarian Bruiser. I usually go with the “good” character types, but I was feeling a little evil, so I went with the evil version of a monk. I haven’t played a tank since my Diablo 2 days, so I thought a tank would be fun to play. The character creation had quite a few options, and after a few nips and tucks, my nasty looking Bruiser was ready to go.

All new players start off on a “newbie” island, that acts as a mini tutorial. It didn’t take long to do most of the island missions, and I was ready to head to the real world in a few hours, already a level 6 Bruiser.

So far, I like what I’ve seen. It plays fine (if a little choppy on my four year old computer). Once I got off the island at to Freeport, the world opened instantly. Exploring the city of Freeport looks like it could take forever, and that’s just the city! When I ventured outside it seemed to get even larger. It did seem like there weren’t a lot of other people playing, but that could simply be the server I’m on (Crushbone) or the time I’m playing. There seemed to be an endless supply of missions and quests, so there looks to be plenty of content. I’ve always loved the crafting aspects of MMOGs, and EQ 2’s tradeskill content looks like it should be a good time. So far, so good for me and EQ 2.

I’d love to play any readers who play on the Crushbone server or any tips for a newbie. Drop me a note in the comments.

To EVE or EQ2?

Recently I’ve had the itch to jump back into a MMOG. I’m been thinking of re-upping to play EVE Online, but with all the things going on there, I’m hesitant to jump back in. I’ve got a free copy of Everquest 2 that I could use to try out EQ2. My first MMO experience was with EQ1 and it was a long time ago (and it wasn’t a good one), so I don’t have any allegiance there. I had thought about giving Vanguard a chance, but I think I’ll wait a few months so they can work out the kinks, even though it seems like a decent game already. I thought about giving World of Warcraft a try, but I know how quickly it will consume me and I’m not taking my chances. I’m only playing if I get to play in Foton’s Guild. (No way I’m that hardcore.)

I was also invited to give Dungeon Runners a try, so that’s another possibility. Have any buttonMashers played Dungeon Runners? Looks like a cross between Guild Wars and Diablo 2. What would you guys suggest? I’m not shelving the 360, but my wife has recently discovered the wonderous Xbox Live Arcade, so I have been letting her play her fill of Hexic and Uno for now. Once Crackdown comes out, the 360 is all mine again. For now, I just feel like some good old fashioned MMORPG’ing. I’ve got needs. I’m not desperate yet, but I’ve even considered jumping back into Neocron 2. I know it’s gotten bad if I go that far.

Virtual Tours?

This might be a bit old, but I just recently came across it: Synthravels -The 1st online Virtual Travel Agency. They can take you on a tour of the most picturesque places in cyberspace!

Personally, I’d like to go to somewhere real, like Machu Picchu. But that’s just me.

Yikes

The concept of the “Everquest Widow” is nothing new. Sure, World of Warcraft has been more successful than Everquest, and yes, there are “WoW widows” but it’s nothing new. A couple days ago, a post on Soul Kerfuffle was making the rounds last week, about a guy and his year in World of Warcraft. He talks of addictions, obsessions, and broken families. After I read that post, I found another post telling the story of yet another gaming widow dealing with someone “addicted” to gaming. For whatever reason, this particular blog post was rather poignant to me. Even though the game isn’t EQ or WoW, it’s still the same thing.

Maybe I’m just not dedicated enough, but I can’t wrap my brain around this. I cannot think of a gaming situation where gaming is more attractive, important or tantalizing than sex, EVER.

EVER EVER EVER.

I think the question of whether you’re addicted or not boils down to this: If offered the chance to be with your wife/girlfriend/significant other and you pass on it to play your game, level up one more level, finish your raid, whatever, I have bad news for you:

You, sir (or madam), are addicted.

Ultimate Baseball Online – First Impressions

Even though I mentioned that I had downloaded Ultimate Baseball Online months ago, it wasn’t until this weekend that I actually had a chance to play it. I must admit, though, that I haven’t played a video baseball game in a long time. I think I played a little MVP 2003, but that was only for a few minutes. I have no idea what the last baseball game I played — Super Bases Loaded? Needless to say, it’s been a while. But I’ve been anxious to try out a Massively Multiplayer Online Sports Game (MMOSG) other than Shot-Online, so I dusted off the virtual mitt and gave UBO a try.

As with every other game, the first step is the character creation. UBO’s system was pretty simple, there weren’t a lot of choices, just basic options like body and face types (EA Sports Game Face it ain’t). I made a right-handed catcher named “BMasher” and set off to do the tutorial.

As I said, I haven’t played video game baseball in years, so I don’t know how the current gen handles mechanics like hitting and fielding, but UBO control scheme isn’t too bad. For batting, you determine how much power you want to put behind a swing, which subsequently affects the “sweet spot” of your swing. The more power, the smaller your sweet spot. You have a catcher’s-eye view of the pitch. You see it coming in but you don’t know where it will cross the plate. Clicking the mouse button swings and if you’ve guesses right and the pitch falls in your zone, you’ll hit the ball. Pitching works in a similar fashion. You pick the pitch, choose a location, and a meter to determines speed and accuracy. Fielding is straight forward, as well. A little red indicator shows where you should go to catch the ball and clicking the mouse holds up your glove to catch it. Every aspect is pretty simple but there’s enough wiggle room to make it more challenging as your skill level changes.

After the tutorial, I went to the “Practice Clubhouse” and jumped right into a game. You can play a game with as few as 4 players, but in the game I played in, it was 4 vs. 5. It was a 3 inning game and we were the away team. After informing my teammates this was my first game, I led off the top of the first. I made nice contact, hit a ball towards the short stop, ran toward first and was thrown out before I was half way down the base path. It appears my speed (currently at level 7) makes me run like I’ve got a backpack full of bricks. It would become apparent that speed is plays a major factor in this game. Watching a guy get forced out at second from short left field made that very apparent.

On defense, I started the game as catcher, but it was suggested I switch to third after my first throw back to the pitcher ended up in centerfield. Fielding was pretty easy and I only commited one error. I thought a game like baseball would be BORING to play on defense, but it was actually quite engaging. I clocked about 5 seconds in between each pitch, and you don’t know if the next batted ball will be coming your way, so you’re always on your toes. Kudos for making defense playable.

The game went into extra innings, with the other team winning on a bases loaded single. Since it was 5 on 4, the CPU handles the empty spots on defense but only actual players bat. In the 4 innings we played, I batted 4 times (going 0-4, striking out twice. Yeah BMasher!). The game took about 20 minutes or so to play, so it isn’t much of a time investment. I only earned a couple experience points, but I don’t think it will take long to “level” my player. Leveling up involves earning “Parameter Points” and “Skill Points” which obviously increase your players abilities. There’d be no point in playing if you can’t get better, so the skill progression elements of the game seem pretty solid.

So far, I’m liking UBO. It looks and feels like a baseball game, and the fact that I played with 8 other players is quite cool. I’m going to give it a fair shake and play it a handful of times before I give it a final thumbs up, but so far, so good.

EVE Online, 90 days later

I’ve been meaning to start a new thing here at buttonmashing.com where I expound on my initial impressions. I’ve posted a lot of “first impressions” but I don’t follow up as often as I want to. Often, those initial impressions are the “honeymoon” stage and you look past flaws. Now that I’ve been well past that stage with EVE, I thought I’d share a little more on my experiences.

[Read more…]

Some thoughts…

I know blogging has been light lately, but RL keeps getting in the way. I’d like to say gaming has kept me away but sadly that isn’t the case. Gaming has been limited to EVE lately, with an occasional Animal Crossing break.

Even with the lack of blogging, I wanted to post a few thoughts I’ve had recently:

  • Even with two AAA titles out in the past couple of weeks (Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter and Oblivion), I still find that I’m not really gravitating toward the Xbox 360. All the trimmings on the periphery (Xbox Live Arcade, Gamer Points) still intrigue me but the games don’t. I’ve never played any of the Elder Scrolls games (even though I own Morrowind) but I’ve been fascinated by the excited anticipation surrounding Oblivion. I’ll be watching Adam’s blog, since he’s in the same boat and will be playing an Elder Scrolls game for the first time. Even with all the excitement, I’m still content with the occasional Halo 2 match with friends and a little NCAA 2006. I’d also like to snag a copy of both Mercenaries and Forza since I never finished either of those. And I also have a stack of games that I’ve only played briefly that I’d like to get to. So yeah, I’m really not feeling the 360 right now.

    So I’m not sure what will be the title that pushes me over the edge. Probably the next NCAA title. If not that, then certainly the next Halo.

  • That being said, I am currently drooling over the DS Lite. I don’t know when it hits our shores, but man I want that! It just looks sexy (something the original does not). While I’d really like to get a black Lite, I think the dark blue (Navy enamel or something) will do. I’m also pumped about Metroid Prime Hunters. If I have a chance, I’ll be picking up a copy later this evening, but you never know how that works. I was a little worried about the control scheme, but after reading Tycho’s blurb about it you can color me excited.
  • I’m really digging EVE-Online. So much so that I’m running a mission as I type. I never got around to Auto Assault and now I doubt I will. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but the gaming buffet is already overflowing. With Metroid and Tetris on the cusp, I just don’t need another time sink. It isn’t easy being a gamer.
  • I have a bunch of posts that are in various states of completion that I’d like to get to at some point. I’ve got stuff on MMOs (Sports games in particular), video game music (and other music-related stuff) and whatever else fills the empty space in my head. I’ll get around to them eventually. Right now, someone is in dire need of Antibiotics and I’ve got to deliver.

Daddy’s got a new ship

My Wreathe

Well, I’m still learning things the hard way. I’m not exactly sure purchasing a new ship (A Minmatar Wreathe) was exactly the smartest thing to do. It was the old “spend money to make money” situation, but I spent money to get money that was initially mine. Either way, this new ship is a beast. It comfortably holds my old Probe in its cargo holds with room to spare. It looks like a locomotive. Unfortunately, it runs like one, too. This thing is SLOW. But, I’ve been interested in exploring some of the industrial and manufacturing aspects of EVE and this ship should suit my purposes for now.

I’m currently on my way to deliver the cargo for the mission that I unwittingly got myself involved with that started this whole mess. It’s been an enlightening experience.

Please, kids, learn from my mistakes.

Update: This is what I’ve been waiting to see:

Mission Complete

Now I can breathe a sigh of relief and warp to my home base. 37 jumps away. Sheesh.

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