Thursday, March 29, 2007

Off Topic: Comptuers

I had an interesting vision of future computers when I was young. I envisioned a small box with less components that did more. My original idea was to have a 'motherboard' and 'processor' combonation that had less components lying around. Computers of the past were bulky and cumbersome to say the least. Things have gotten smaller and smaller over the years so here is my question:

"Why can't everything be controlled by the processor?"

You could theoretically have a 'dumb board' that acts as the receptical for a processor that does it all. It functions as a graphics card, sound card, and everything else. You insert one of these little numbers into a motherboard and it becomes true 'central brain' of the machine. It would make upgrades easier for one. Instead of picking up a motherboard, sound card, ram, video card, processor, etc. You buy a new processor and you're done. You could have your graphics and normal memory upgradable on the mainboard and be done with it. You need more processing power? Replace the chip, upgrade the ram.

I for one hate having to purchase a new motherboard, ram, processor, graphics card and everything else when I want to upgrade my computer to the newest standard.

Now for those who need the 'latest and greatest' without upgrading everything, go with the traditional method. I've been using the same machine for years on end and it plays world of warcraft just fine. It plays most games just fine. The components I need to upgrade are the processor and the video card, maybe the ram to DDR2.

I guess it's just a pipe dream but it would be nice to have one thing to upgrade on a PC instead of several components.

In repsonse...

My computer ate my post. Damnit, lets try this again.

The Question: Can a MMORPG player migrate successfully to RTS?

The Answer: A strong resounding yes.

Think of an RTS like playing a mage in wow. Both are a bit of a juggling act. The one mistake most first-time RTS players make is to focus on one thing and forget everything else. Building your base up is usually what you stop on. Remember that you have more to manage than just point and shoot. You have to worry about defense, offense, and base management all the same time.

If you can play one game you can play another, the question is just how well? I had a larger, more in depth post but as I said above, it got eaten.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

The wait is OVER! The game I have been waiting for is now out and I only await the funds to purchase said game. I can't wait to do a review, this game is way overdue. The 'tiberium' genre of Command and Conquer hasn't been visited in what? Six or Seven years? I don't remember. Look forward to a review of the game if you haven't purchased it for yourself already.

A different perspective?

So I was thinking last night, that's right everyone run for cover! I came to an impasse. I really like playing WoW but it's interfering with my other projects. I still have a Dungeons and Dragons world to work on and get published. I have a book I need to get cracking on and a ton of other things.

So the problem is, when does World of Warcraft cut into my life too much? When is too much enough and enough not nearly as much as you'd want it to be? I have come to realize that my World of Warcraft habits are becoming steadily unhealthy for me. So what do you do to wean yourself from the beast? Simple, just have the willpower to put it down and say enough is enough. That's no problem for me but how many people out there don't have that kind of willpower?

Smokers, drinkers, drug addicts, MMORPG players? Everyone has their vice, the same could be the same about people that eat too much or sleep too much or obsess about the cleanliness of their home and surroundings. The best thing to do is look toward your peers and family members for support.

Everyone knows the signs of someone who can't get their 'fix', the irritability, the anger. I haven't gotten that far, I doubt I ever would but I realize that my other endeavors are suffering. I'd like to get published before I'm old and gray.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl

I am not even going to bother rating this game. It's amusing for a while but the first cutscene shows the game's age. It is several years in the making and because of that it is just piss-poor. I know that you can't always have perfect models with smooth movements and on-time voice acting but it's just blatantly obvious that they didn't even try to marry the two up. I thought we had left those days behind with the sega and the super nintendo.

Graphics: 1 Shitty
Sound: 1 Shitty
Gameplay: 4 Somewhat amusing at first but it pans out like every other FPS
Uninstall: Within 30 minutes.

I will give them a few things, the physics are good and the concept is right on but it didn't hold my interest at all.

Time to lay down WoW?

I never thought I'd say this but I think I'm finally winding down from my spiral of World of Warcraft addiction. I will admit that I am a graphics whore but that isn't everything for me. In this case I am just tired of seeing WoW. It's a sudden thing.

While I have tried out other games, numerous uncountable amounts of games, only WoW has held my attention this long. It seems I am starting the nail-biting wait for Warhammer Online sooner than I had thought. The problem being that if I don't have an addiction to feed what the hell am I going to do with myself?

So, anyone for a game of tennis? I guess I could catch up on my photography hobby.

In all seriousness I am the kind of person that likes to see loose ends fixed. Recoding Azeroth for instance is not an impossible job. Regardless of what 'everyone' or 'the masses' thinks I would rather see them fix Azeroth so you can fly around there with no problems. I would rather see Blizzard take the initiative to upgrade the engine for WoW and introduce more 3D graphics instead of flat tree branches and leaves. WoW has been my companion toward oblivion for quite a long time now, I am going to miss it if I do decide to suspend my subscription.

Lets all cross our fingers for World of Warcraft 2: War on Azeroth.
Call that a prediction that will mirror massive server-to-server scale PvP action.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Racial Differences

I ran across an Interesting Article that reminds me of what I spoke of a few posts back. It seems I am not the only one that has put two and two together. Go figure, who would have thought that 'evil' orcs dance like Hammer and 'evil' trolls speak in a jamaican accent?

Nothing amiss here!

I was going to post something deep and meaningful later but it got ruined. Maybe later I will talk about racial abilities and how I think night elves got screwed.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Okay so now my shaman hit level 30 and I have to say I am quite pleased with what I recieved. I finally have the almighty shaman insta-rez and what seems to be a second recall that has only a 15 minute cooldown. Now I came into this knowing that Shaman is a utility class but it seems to me they are a little too versitile. I have totems that spit fireballs, reduce damage, cure poisons, kill polymorph and other harmful effects, give everyone extra damage, enhance everyone's resistance to damage. That's just scratching the surface. Originally Blizzard stated that the Shaman was the most balanced class and they wanted to mirror every class around that 'power level'. I can name quite a few classes that are severely lacking.

My friend has a level 54 paladin that we've both decked out in the best equipment and specced out for damage and sustainability. The only thing his paladin has going for him is the fact that it's really, really hard to kill him. Every class has their weaknesses and after playing a Shaman for so long I realize why people used to complain. The Shaman has a very diverse array of abilties. This gives the illusion of being overpowered, especially when you put a good player behind the keys of one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Something Different

I've started playing Dungeons and Dragons again, now I know what you're thinking, 'oh god one of those.' Well that isn't nessicarily the case, it's opinions like that which have sent my fellow gamers 'underground' so-to-speak. I call them closet gamers and even though we joke about it, it seems that Pen&Paper gamers are the subject of ridicule even among the gamers of our time. Not sure why, it's just a game. So what if some moron years and years back decided he wanted a quick way out when he was comitting a horrid crime, that doesn't mean all of us are wack-jobs.

What about the people who pose as the oposite sex on MMO games? I really think those guys are worse. Anyway I'm having quite a bit of fun with it and I've even purchased a few more books, which brings me to today's subject: Publishing a campaign setting or module.

I am have a campaign setting in the works, it is currently in the writing stage and once I refine it I will begin the play testing stage. After that I am lost, I could publish it electronically? Do any of my readers have a suggestion as to a direction to travel once I have tested and balanced it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Showing signs of age?

World of Warcraft in its time was the game and in most aspects it still is. However, it is apparent from flat sprites (old school term) and effects that WOW is showing how old it is. When you run by a tree and the branches hanging close to the ground are just 2d sprites instead of 3d limbs and even though you are being beat down by a mob it makes you pause and think 'man, that's really crappy.'

I will admit though it does lend to allowing people with lower end PC's play the game without having to upgrade. A friend of mine, we're going to call him pretty mouth for identity's sake had a similar revelation. In his home he had two PC's one for internet usage and miscellaneous things and the other for playing EQ2. He and his wife both played EQ2 so they had to swap and then I introduced him to World of Warcraft. With a video card that was laying around my house and another stick of ram occupying the same space we got him up and running on World of Warcraft.

Another friend of mine switched from EQ2 to World of Warcraft and in passing his wife made a comment that gave me pause. "Wow, the graphics are a lot better than that eternal quest thing you play all the time."

To your average individual the cartoony sprites and blur effect makes for a more colorful and welcoming game. (That may be why there are more alliance than horde, a mental difference between gamers regardless of age that is based upon bright shiny colors and good vs. evil.) However, if you go to a top-down view of your character you will notice that your ice barrier or other effects are flat 2d pictures. That just doesn't sit well with me. Everquest 2 is annoying in my opinion because of the debt system and other issues that I don't agree with but that isn't the point. The graphics aren't bad, some of it looks a bit clunky and forced but for the most part they have the right idea, hell they were one of the first 3d pioneers into the MMORPG category.

World of Warcraft needs an overhaul. I would like to see Blizzard breathe a little life into the game for a change instead of just releasing something to appease the hardcore masses. Fix it, make it look better.

If I walk under a tree I don't want to watch the limbs go flat I want to see a full gnarled tree limb hanging menacingly down low to the ground. When I walk through the fields of westfall I want to see stalks bending and waving out of my way. When the wind blows I want to see the grass move. I want Oblivion-esque graphics in a World of Warcraft setting. Hell I'd pay for another set of software to install (not a higher monthly fee.)

This is an issue debated and frought with opinions that vary like snowflakes but what are your thoughts?

Playing a Shaman

I'm not a definitive shaman expert so if anyone has any other suggestions I'm open to commentary and changes.

I previously had a problem with totems, so many totems, so many buttons! What to drop when to drop it and why waste the mana? Well totems are a big part of a shaman's repertoire. Your totems are part of your class even if you don't sink talent points into them. The first thing you need to do is pick your most used totems. For me it is Stoneskin, Mana Spring and Searing in that order. Remember, alternately you can assign these all button clicks if you're a number pusher instead of a clicker.

One thing to keep in mind if you're playing an enhancement/resto shaman (request from a reader) is that you are a tank and you are going to be taking damage and trying to hold aggro. Use Frost Shock as much as possible because it causes high threat and keeps mobs slowed (if they can be). You may want to use healing totems instead of mana totems depending on your preference. Use your totems in every fight where you think you will be tanking against a hard mob or multiple mobs. Also remember that if your searing totem is too close to some mobs it will attack regardless if they are in combat or not. Also, remember that lesser healing wave has a shorter casting time and Stoneclaw (I think that's what it is) can pull mobs off of you if you don't have too much aggro this will give you a chance to pop a big heal on yourself.

Name: Totems
Purpose: One click totem dropper!
Description: Drop your favorite totems with one button
/castsequence reset=24 Stoneskin Totem, Mana Spring Totem, Searing Totem

Name: Weapons
Purpose: One click weapon buffing.
Description: Cast your weapon-based spell depending on which way you click.
/cast [button:2] Frostbrand Weapon; [modifier:shift] Flametongue Weapon; Rockbiter Weapon

Name: Shocks
Purpose: Cast all your shocks off of one button.
Description: Instead of hunting for buttons you can just click or button press with a series of keys.
/cast [button:2] Earth Shock; [modifier:shift] Flame Shock; Frost Shock

Monday, March 5, 2007

Shamanistic Goodness.

Alright so I got my Shaman to level 29 at some point last week. I will get to updating the side bar some time. I am happy with my desision not to respec and just to go for an enhancement/restoration hybrid. I am at least going to go until I get all the nessicary points in dual wielding. Running a shaman is fun because of the diversity you get.

Anyway I have noticed that after playing a level 70 mage that is able to blow through quests like candy I've been a bit spoiled. I am so used to turning in 5-8 quests each run out that I can't seem to get into my groove with my lower-level characters. Hopefully I will get out of my rut and keep playing but is it just me or has anyone else had that problem?

Since I have been putting my time into other games I haven't been playing World of Warcraft much and I think that's a good thing. Everyone needs to walk away from things for a bit every now and again.

Let us speak of games. (Part 2)

2.) Supreme Commander
Finally, the sequel (that isn't a sequel) finally comes to light. The original game, Total Annihilation kept myself and my friends busy for hours on end and as far as I can tell it would do the same if we didn’t all have lives now.

Humanity has broken into three factions, each wants to claim supremacy and as such the war between them has been raging almost non-stop. That may be why they call it the ‘infinite war’.

Graphics (1-10) – 10
I have to say I am impressed with the graphics of Supreme Commander, don’t be fooled by the initial view, zoom in and see what I’m talking about. The closer you get the more you can see and the better the detail.

Sound (1-10) – 6
While the sounds are sufficient and varied there are a few sounds that are repeated over and over again that get a bit annoying. However, how many sounds can you really cram into a strategy game anyway?

Gameplay (1-10) – 10
The interface is different to say the least. You don’t get a minimap as far as I have seen. You can zoom way out and see the entire map instead of having a mini-map. The AI is stellar, what the game may lack for some it definitely makes up in AI. You have to actually work to defeat them. They plan, attack, regroup and set their next plan into action without you knowing that they had a backup contingency in the mix. Before you know it you’re being bombed.

Overall: 10
Definitely a keeper, I could just be biased. One thing I am going to try soon is dual monitor support. From what I gather you can display a map and all on a secondary screen.

Multiplayer - Yes, I didn't get a chance to test it though.

Let us speak of games.

I've discovered two games recently that I am quite happy with. Both are blasts from my past and although I don't feel like digging through the archive I think I mentioned both of their predecessors.

1.) UFO: Afterlight
The original X-Com series was and still is one of my favorite strings of games. I will say that Terror from the Deep was a bit of a turd but it was still fun to play. The UFO series has lived up to the lofty but humble beginnings of the X-Com series. I started off playing UFO: Aftermath, then UFO: Aftershock and now UFO: Afterlight. I will say that they have all been quite inventive up to this poing and UFO: Afterlight does not disappoint.

The mars colony started by the Laputians of earth has been out of contact with earth for over fifty years. Of course some have given up hope and others have continued on. During a routine dig one of the colonists is slain by a strange ‘Mech’ of unknown origin. As the story goes on the colonists are suddenly faced with some sort of ‘gate’ that opens up and the aliens that immerge from it. The reticulans (grey aliens) that have helped you are now your allies in a battle for survival.

Graphics (1-10) – 8
The graphics are good, very smooth and detailed. When you change your gun it changes in the small model’s hands, when you change your suit your suit changes. Each person has their own skin so aside from the fact that everyone is a different color you can still tell everyone apart. Of course since this game perspective tends to prevent you from going too graphics heavy there is a lot going on all at once.

Sound (1-10) – 5
The sound effects are good but some are louder than others, a little more balance is needed when you’re trying to play early in the morning and you have someone trying to sleep through the next wall. It gets annoying trying to turn the speakers up and down to compensate for a laser blast that is a bit louder and higher pitched than the sound of a rifle going off.

Game play (1-10) - 8
I love the story line; every game further develops the lore of the alternate progression of earth. The first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the options. You can set when the game pauses, pans the camera, or gives you alerts. Other than that the game play is great. There is a lot to manage though, so you have to be careful. Your research, production, training, resource gathering and building are done by a limited staff of people. You really have to micro-manage your people. At first the training and people management can be daunting but they provided more than enough documentation to get you started.
The only reason I gave the game play an ‘8’ is because it takes a bit of time to get yourself up and running and figure out the best way to manage your people between missions and building stations.

Overall: 9
Despite a little hurtle to get yourself over and a few problems with overly loud sounds the game is worth the purchase. Support the company, lets hope they keep producing fun games.

Multiplayer - None

Thursday, March 1, 2007

To raid or not to raid...

That is the question. Should I focus on raiding and gaining more power and prestige with my mage or should I work on one of my alts. At this point I have gotten a Draenei shaman up to level 26 from just casual leveling. My wife has been working on her Gnome rogue and a friend of mine has joined us with his Draenei mage.

You know, I have to say that shamans make fairly descent tanks. I had my reservations about sinking my talents into the enhancement tree with my shaman but after working with it my weapon-based attacks mixed with frost shock usually keep the aggro away from everything but a pyroblast crit.

Most people seem to lean toward the enhancement/resto spec. Any thoughts?