Monday, 30 November 2009

Playing Single

I love MMOs. I greatly enjoy working together with other people to either beat a mighty computer controlled opponent or another (team of) players. I love the feeling of persistence and accomplishing something that will last and can be witnessed by my peers - even though I know the distinction between virtual accomplishments and real ones. Have you ever dismissed a game because it didn't have a multi-player mode? I know I have and I know others who do so regularly.
Why would anyone still make games without a multi-player component these days when there are so many advantages to having it and the internet is widely available? I'm glad you asked; here are five good reasons to make single player games:

Friday, 27 November 2009

Friday Filler #5: Savings, savings, savings [Updated]

I have to be at the dentist's (ugh) in half an hour and still I'm here writing this post for you because time is somewhat essential. As usual, the friday post will be short - today we have a collection of games you should try right now because they are cheaply available in one form or another.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Role-playing is hard

I have an admission to make - I can't play the evil guy in RPGs. I simply cannot. I think I first realized this in Knights of the Old Republic when I tried to do a play-through of the game as sith, see how the storyline works out if I do so, and see an alternate ending. Now it is usually quite obvious what the evil (or "dark side" or "renegade") options in these games are, making the whole task trivial from an intellectual point of view. Emotionally, however, I just couldn't bring myself to be such a dick to the NPCs, even knowing that they were just a collection of pixels. (Or, more accurately, bits.) Somehow, Bioware RPGs seem to immerse me so much that I can't actually - you know - role play. While I'm not thinking about the player character as myself, I will always behave as if it was myself in that situation.
(Warning: The paragraphs below may contain very slight spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins.)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Christmas Raiding

Blizzard poster Datth posted the following on the tech support forums a couple of days ago, hinting at the release date for World of Warcraft's newest patch:

"We only provide mirror links for full client patches. Background downloads do not count. You have around 1+ month to download this file so we're not really worried about your speed. :)"
-Datth (emphasis mine)

This doesn't really tell us a lot. MMO Champion's Boubouille doesn't believe it will take that long, and if it does, 1+ month is still very inaccurate. This could mean, however, that we get the patch right before Christmas. That got me thinking - who would want a content patch at that time?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Like Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread

If you are anything like me, you have probably been playing the last few months in World of Warcraft bored and annoyed with Blizzard's decisions but didn't stop playing because there was a shimmer of hope in Icecrown Citadel at the horizon. The issue with horizons is that, the more you travel towards them, the faster they move away from you.
The lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft, Scott "Daelo" Mercer, posted yesterday on the topic of Icecrown Citadel access progression.
And, merlin's beard, it sucks.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Downloadable Cashcow

A grand day in early 1999 - Tales of the Sword Coast was released, the addon to Bioware's hit RPG Baldur's Gate. Obviously I got it as fast I could, installed it and added 20-30 hours of game play to the already fantastic Baldur's Gate. That was the common way back then to milk your customers for more money for an old game. Er, I mean to provide your fans with an extended and enhanced game experience. Today, things work differently - at least in part. Sure there are still expansion packs, be it Wrath of the Lich King or Shivering Isles, but broadband internet has enabled game companies to provide additions to their game in the form of downloads.
It's common for game companies to provide fixes for their games through downloads, and sometimes they are so kind to actually add some new content as well. The more common form of dowloadable content is paid for, however. Just how much downloadable bang do you get for your buck?

Monday, 16 November 2009


So I've been playing Dragon Age: Origins pretty much every minute that wasn't filled with thesis work, birthday celebrations, or raiding. It grabbed me right at the start, I'm immersed into the story and I care for some of the characters.
That's huge for a game that I had relatively low expectations for. Sure, it isn't perfect, but who is?
Imagine my surprise when I find (with the help of Spinks and Google Reader) A barrage of blog posts damning the game into the ground.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Where has My Voice Gone?

When I came back home on Sunday, Dragon Age: Origins was lying on my desk, waiting for me. (Thank you Amazon! Cross country shipping in 2 days and €15 saved.) I haven't had a lot of time for it, but I really liked the time I did spend in the game. So far it is quite linear, plays a bit like the interactive movies of old, but not in a bad way. I'm really immersed in the storyline and love talking to the various characters around.
One thing, however, irks me. Where is my voice?

Monday, 9 November 2009

You Say That as if It's a Bad Thing

One of my favourite (not) arguments against achievers is "They play the game to compensate for their lack of success in real life." Statements like that can be read in many discussions and even blog posts and I always fail to grasp the argument behind it.
Yes, I play games that include advancement because I like advancing and life doesn't give me enough of it. That doesn't mean that my life sucks, it just means that life is more reasonable than games and can't fully provide me with what I want.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Friday Filler #4

It's Friday again! Today's filler comes from and gives you an overview on what my blog is actually about. (And what words I really use too often.)

In other news, I ordered Dragon Age: Origins (from the UK, €14 cheaper than buying it here or via steam. Thank you weak British pound.) with mixed feelings. There are many glowing reports but also quite a few reviews that put it in the "meh" and "nothing new" categories. Even some of the glowing reports describe it as "Baldur's Gate in 3D" and I'd personally much rather have another Mass Effect than another Baldur's Gate. I liked the first Baldur's Gate, but didn't play the second one for very long (even though I owned it) because there's just so much Baldur's Gate I can take. Well, we'll see.
If my fears come true, you can probably expect some sort of review here (or well, a loose collection of things I dislike more likely) if not... probably not.

Have a nice weekend.

[As you can see, no more "read more" links on posts that don't need them. That makes this footer superfluous.]

Thursday, 5 November 2009

10 Bad Things About Torchlight

As promised, here are ten things that are bad about Torchlight. This doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy playing the game or that I wouldn't recommend buying it. The purpose of this post is to find things that could be done better in the future. It also concludes my mini-review of Torchlight that isn't really a review.
Without further ado, like yesterday in no particular order - 10 bad things about Torchlight:

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

10 Good Things About Torchlight

I wanted to write about Torchlight for a while now, but there are game reviews enough out there that you don't need me to write another one. Instead, I'll focus on highlighting good aspects of Torchlight today - as a lesson for future games - while talking about the bad sides tomorrow.
Quick intro for those that don't know Torchlight at all: Torchlight is a (at the moment) single player only Diablo clone by Runic Games. Runic Games has a lot of the people in it that created the original Diablo and later Hellgate: London. The game is available for €15 or $20 on Steam where you can also find a free demo.
But enough of that, here are 10 good things about Torchlight, in no particular order:

Monday, 2 November 2009

Servers, What's the Point (Part 3)

On Wednesday I talked about the splitting of MMORPGs into various servers ("sharding") and why it is done. In Thursday's post - which nobody read, incidentally, go do it now - I pointed out reasons against sharding.
Now, creating a single-server world for millions of people isn't easy. Not only do people have different interests, as pointed out in part one, but the world would also, quite literally, get too full. Imagine World of Warcraft's Dalaran (or worse, Ironforge in vanilla WoW) with a hundred times as many players or more. Or imagine the amount of loading time for your capital city in Aion several times more personal shops around than there are already. Below I'll discuss several ways to alleviate this problem, to actually make single-server worlds possible.