Posts Tagged ‘mmo’

On the horizon: Star Wars – The Old Republic

You cannot tell me this is not so awesome and epic. It might be because I have the hots for Star Wars and everyone who uses a lightsaber as his primary weapon, but I’m still drooling all over this.

Of course, I know of Star Wars: The Old Republic for quite awhile. After seeing how Star Wars: Galaxies by SOE failed miserably as they made essential changes to the core concepts of the game, I believed that LucasArts wouldn’t trust anyone ever again when it comes to turning the good ol’ franchise into an innovative and progressive MMO. But I guess when BioWare, creators of renown games like “Knights of the Old Republic” and “Mass Effect”, came knocking on my door to create a game based on my gazillion-dollar-franchise, I would have a hard time to say no.

But what makes me have so much trust in this title, except for the fact it is made by a group of people who obviously know how to create an immersive experience? Well, call it a marketing technique, but it definitly got me hooked: BioWare wants to add a missing element to the MMO world: story. Now I know that most MMOs at the moment already have some kind of story backdrop, but think about it…what direct impact does the story have on YOUR character? Does it influence him in any way, except on a role-playing level? I think not. All the MMOs I’ve played so far had good background stories, but all of them were just that: background.

BioWare strives to creating a personal storyline for every class. In that storyline your character will have choices to make, and this choices will make your story different from that of someone else who plays exactly the same class. Think about the following: you are fighting a grim battle against the man who killed your beloved one years ago, but who also happens to be the only one who knows how to get off of this hellhole planet. In an epic battle, you have the chance to wrangle your arch-nemesis to the ground, ready for taking the final blow. And here comes the choice: do you let vengeance guide you, and kill this bastard, or do you let him live, so he can get you off the planet? The choice is yours. Believe me, if this works out like I hope it will, I guarantee goosebump-moments and some epic storytelling. And guess what I just LOVE in video games?

The other thing that really interests me is the setting BioWare picked: the Old Republic. This sets the game several thousand years before the rise of Darth Vader, and lets us play in a time where Jedis and other force-wielding persons were more common than in the “default” Star Wars setting. This will also make it more plausible for having quite some Jedis and Sith as characters, unlike what SOE did in Star Wars: Galaxies. Still, BioWare should make sure to not screw up the immersion: the Force is still a very rare gift, and the last thing I want to see is a server population of 75% Jedis, and 25% other classes.

Which leads me to my only real problem with this game: handling Jedis and Sith. Personally, I liked SOE’s early approach to “Jedihood” in the early months of Star Wars: Galaxies. Players had to fulfill a long, long chain of quests, which took you a very long time to beat. At the end of this chain, you had to face a very hard and perilous trial, and only if you could beat that, your character rose into the rank of a Jedi, wielding power unlike most other characters on the server. This made Jedis rare and unique, and it just felt right. Of course it was not the fairest way to handle it, but it kept the amount of these gifted people low.

As we all know, SOE changed that later, in a way that was just completely sick: everyone could roll a Jedi from the very START. This threw off the balance of the game, and was the essential suicide of the whole game. So how will BioWare work around this? Jedi and Sith as a starting class, or as something you have to “unlock”? Or will they take some complete new approach? I can hardly wait to see what these geniuses will do!

Until then, I can only say “May the Force be with you”!



Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Yeah, better grab your Latin dictionary to translate THAT title!

Like about a gazillion other nerds out there, I finally saw the movie version of Watchmen!

Nooo, not those! Give me the other Watchmen!

Ahh yes, that’s it! So, Aki, how was the movie?

Well, ehm. I have my Longman English dictionary right next to me, but I can’t find a word that describes my enthousiasm about this movie. So, I will make one up: Brilifrickinglicious! There, I improved the English vocabulary.

What, you never heard about Watchmen, one of the milestones in comic book history? Alright, let me bring you up to speed. Watchmen is a story set in an alternative 1985. President Nixon just won the elections for the third time, and the Doomsday Clock is actually a real device. Tensions between America and the Soviet Union are running extremely high, and amidst all this political trouble, we find heroes. Superheroes. Even better: masked Superheroes. However, since a serious uprising amongst the American citizens, masked vigilantes have been outlawed, and the former Watchmen try their best to return to a “normal” life.

All that changes when one of these former guardians of society, known as “the Comedian” is murdered. Rorschach, also a former Watchman with a very cool mask, warns his allies, and starts to investigate. Is somebody trying to kill all masked superheroes? Or is this something even worse? You should find out yourself…

The plot and the characters are what makes Watchmen an unbelievable cool movie. Through many flashbacks you learn about the backgrounds of very characteristic personas like Laurie a.k.a. Silk Spectre, or Jon a.k.a. Dr. Manhatten. Also, the alternative history presented in this movie and comicbook is a great appeal, and makes everyone clear what COULD have happened during the Cold War (well, except for gigantic blue energetic creatures helping the US in ‘Nam).

However, you should NOT see this movie if:

  • You hate spandex costumes
  • You hate movies longer than 90 minutes
  • You are allergic to philosophy or deep thinking in general
  • You are just a dick and hate commercial movies

Everyone else should make sure to not miss this baby. Fasten your seatbelts, you will be in for one wild ride!



Raiding Maastricht

Hey, it has been a while since I posted something here, right? Ahh well, good stuff needs time to get even better, so here I am again!

First of all, to all the happy couples in love around the world: Happy Valentine’s Day! Have fun celebrating a cheesy and extremely commercial kind of holiday, kept alive by the flower and chocolate industry. I know you want to!

Last night was totally awesome! Since some of our fellow WoW-players from Sweden are in Holland right now, we decided to meet with them in Maastricht to have dinner together, and a few pints / drinks afterwards. Of course, we were quite anxious: we never met these people in real life, and only knew what they were like while slaying big zombie dogs and fat poison-injecting abominations. Fortunately, our Swedish companions (and their Dutch driver) turned out to be as funny in real life as they are in the digital cosmos.

First stop was “D’n Ingel” at the Vrijthof in Maastricht, where we had some delicious food (even though a few of us did not finish their plate…bad, bad Firlia!) And again, foreigners were surprised how tiny our glasses of beer are around here, but how “cheap” alcohol is in the Netherlands (it seems to be expensive in Sweden. I guess Scandinavian governments just don’t like their citizens to be drunk). My sister Julia had “Choco Lasagna” after her main dish, and we all hoped to see something really disgusting including chocolate sause, cheese and meat. Unfortunately, it turned out to be just normal chocolate icecream with some whipped cream. What a letdown…

Firlia looking away, Kraune closing his eyes, and Calix just looking like...Calix!

From left to right: Firlia looking away, Kraune closing his eyes, and Calix just looking like...Calix!

After that disappointment, we paid for our food and hit the streets in search of a little bar to have some drinks (we heard Swedish people have a natural alcohol resistance). Our first stop was the Shamrock, but we didn’t know they broadcasted a rugby match that night, so the place was crowded like hell. So, we did a 180°-turn, and moved out. In the end, we ended up in a place right NEXT to D’n Ingel…the irony!

We enjoyed a few pints and some drinks (memo to me: “Frangellico” is quite nice), and discussed some very strange topics (I didn’t know that the Northern Swedish “hate” Southern Swedish until last night. Stuff like that is vital information for every well-educated person!) After having our last round, we asked the nice bartender to take a little group picture. Usually, we do this in WoW after we killed a boss, standing on its corpse. We tried hard to find a suitable corpse, but it seems that Kel’Thuzad isn’t in Maastricht on a Friday night. Well, it still turned out quite cool:

Firlia, Kraune (they do have black-haired people in Scandinavia!), Akinya (right behind the dark-haired healer), Kibina (what a big grin), Yxan (okay, youre grin is even stranger!), Nason (dont look so tired, dude), Calix (hope you survived the 3-hour drive back to Rotterdam) and Hroan

From left to right: Firlia, Kraune (they do have black-haired people in Scandinavia!), Akinya (right behind the dark-haired healer), Kibina (what a big grin), Yxan (okay, you're grin is even stranger!), Nason (don't look so tired, dude), Calix (hope you survived the 3-hour drive back to Rotterdam) and Hroan

To sum it up, we all had a fantastic night, and I hope our guests enjoyed it as much as we did! I hope it was not the last time we had some real-life fun together. Yxan, enjoy your semester in Rotterdam, and you other Swedish guys, enjoy the rest of your stay here. Oh, and Calix: next time you drive us all up to Sweden 😉



P.S.: Everyone who has some other pictures of the night, please contact me on WoW / MSN / whatever. I would love to have them all!

Two decades #2

Sooo, here we go with part two of my birthday wishlist, and this time it is….

Category 2: Books

I like to read. A lot. Books are something I enjoy before falling asleep at night, and if they’re about something good, they even steal precious minutes of my beauty sleep. Not that I need that so badly, seen my almost abnormally divine body…[statement followed by a hacking cough]. So, what books would really make my day when I found them on my desk / in my mail / on the breakfast table on February 19? These:

Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee

He knows how to pose...

A few months a go I got into Progressive Fighting System, a very modern fighting system based on efficient and reliable maneuvres in close-combat situations. It is a really interesting “sport”, and my trainer is a very passionate instructor. However, a big chunk of PFS relies on the creation of the very well-known Bruce Lee: Jeet Kune Do. The Way of the Intercepting Fist (that’s what Jeet Kune Do means) was the first fighting style to break with classical oriental tradition, and create a set of moves that are efficient and reliable in realistic situations. Also, Jeet Kune Do teaches its practictioners a certain state of mind, which helps them to stay cool during combat.

“Tao of Jeet Kune Do” is Bruce Lee’s attempt to write down his ideas, and clarify them with clean pictures. Even though Lee knows how to sound wise and intelligent, some of his explanations seem a bit weird and not to-the-point, which makes some part of this book hard to read. Still, I want to broaden my knowledge of Martial Arts in a theoretic way, and I think this book is a good start. Give, please!

Poker for Dummies by Richard D. Harroch and Lou Krieger

Hey, thats not Texas Hold Em!

Hey, that's not Texas Hold 'Em!

I’m not good in everything I do. Okay, I’m not good in many things, and poker is one of them. Somehow, everytime I sit down and play, people can read my like a Word document with font size 48 projected to the wall right in front of them. I’m just the worst bluffer in history, and also fail when it comes to the most basic tactics of Texas Hold ‘Em. I tried to read some of the poker literature my brother owns (for example, “Harrington on Hold ‘Em”), but these guys lose me after the first two lines.

Well, then it is a “for Dummies”-book to the rescue! I like the “for Dummies”-series: there is a book for each possible topic in that line, and every single day, someone writes a new book for it. Also, those I skimmed through explained everything in laymen’s terms, and so I guess that a “Poker for Dummies” is able to teach me the raw basics of good Poker. I don’t think I can rip the Euros out of my brother’s wallet after it, but I will at least look beter at the table. So if you want to help me save money, spend yours and get me this!

Das Kapital by Karl Marx

Its the beard, dude. Chicks go wild, I tell ya!

It's the beard, dude. Chicks go wild, I tell ya!

No, I’m not a born communist, or even a die-hard socialist if it comes to political orientation. But I’m a man who is interested in the history of politics, and this little red book is history banished into letters, words and sentences. Marx created the fundament for a new political movement, and his ideas influence politicians even now. Even though I will look like a Commy with this in my bookshelf, I would love to read it. And no, I won’t grow a beard like Marx…or will I?

So far about my wishes from the bibliophile’s corner. Come back later to check what I would love to get for my birthday when it comes to video games, as far as you’re interested!



Broaden your horizon

Alright, I’m a bit pissed off because of last night’s Naxxramas run. But heck, it was terrible! No offense, fellow guild-mates, but I know we can do better. Kel’Thuzad is currently laughing at us from his pimped-out throne!

Anyway…I promised an article containing skill in video games, boredom and puppies. I can’t really promise that this article will contain cute little doggies, but I’ll do my best.

With the release of Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft has become the perfect game for the lazy gamer. You might think that playing a character from level one to eighty takes time? Not anymore. You think dungeons and raids are hard? A monkey on amphetamines can do the trick! Any other challenges left in the game? I doubt it…

So, why do I keep playing this “far too simple” game? Heck, because I have spent so much time in it that I’m not just quitting. And because I just don’t want to get knee-deep into another MMO. You know, they consume time like Chinese math geniuses consume binary codes!

What you say? You want to see what the world of MMO’s has to offer next to WoW? Well, you’re at the right address then, because this Troll has seen quite some hills in the landscape of Massively Multiplayer Online Games! So, prepare for Akinya’s Guide to Games That Are Not WoW, But Are Addicting Too!

Comic book entertainment: City of Heroes / Villains

If you’re from my generation, you’ve grown up with the most legendary superheroes and arch-villains in history: Spiderman, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Dr. Doom, Shredder and more! And I bet you wanted be just like them in some phase of your childhood. Still feel that urge to throw on some spandex and fight crime, or to plot the doom of multiple dimensions? Run to your local gaming store, and pick up City of Heroes / Villains (I’ll be using the term “CoX” from here).

CoX one of the older MMO’s on the market, running since about four and a half years. Still, the game has expanded in many ways since the start, and offers the greatest character customization in the MMO genre.

When you start the game, you get to choose your powers and their origin, and you can design your own superhero or bad guy outfit! The options are almost limitless, and every time I strolled through Paragon City or the Rogue Isles, people surprised me with their brilliant or whacky outfits.

However, after character creation, the game becomes your standard quest-and-grind-fest: you get missions from Contacts, hunt down the bad guys (or good guys), get experience and rise in level. However, the day has some unique components:

  • Around level 12-14, you are able to fly, sprint and insane speed, teleport or leap high and far. This adds to the supernatural feeling of the game, and who doesn’t want to fly just like Superman?
  • At level 20, 30 and 40 you can attain new Costume slots, and design new outfits for your character. A good idea of the designers to use the awesome costume designer at a later point in the game.
  • Your character can pick up a Day Job, and let you earn money while offline.

Later this year, NC Soft will add the possibility to design your own missions and plot lines. You can be sure that this Troll will keep you up to date about that!

Verdict: CoX is a game for people who want to try a new and unique setting in the MMO genre, and don’t mind the lack of depth and fine-tuning.

The mother of all fantasy: Lord of the Rings Online

When I first heard about a Middle-Earth MMO, my little nerdy heart went bat-shit crazy. And a few years ago, Turbine published “Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar”. A few years and several content patches later, Turbine published the first commercial expansion for their Middle-Earht online game: Mines of Moria.

In its essence, LotRO is a classic fantasy MMO: you pick a race, you pick a class, and then you go out and kill monsters! However, Turbine has found a way to make the players and their characters feel like they’re part of the dramatic tale around the One Ring, and that way is called “Epic Quests”. During Epic Quests, you and your party-members take part in some action that has a direct impact on the storyline. Gandalf himself is the storyteller of this tale, and in very beautiful cut-scenes, you see how Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship continue their trip to Mount Doom. And as you might have guessed by the name of the expansion, they’re currently somewhere around Moria. Wow, that means they’re not even half way their little trip!

LotRO is a damn good Player vs. Environment game. The quests are interesting and often more than “Kill number X of monster Y”, the environment is unbelievable vivid and beautiful, and the game plays just smoothly. Everyone who ever played a fantasy MMO in his life feels right at home with the UI and the game controls. Everyone who doesn’t learns everything important during the Tutorial zone.

So, what does this game lack? Three letters: PvP. There is some kind of Player vs. Player, named “Monster Play”, but that is just a lame excuse. Real gankers and griefers will find this kind of conflict boring and too simple, and will soon leave this game. But everything LotRO lacks PvP-wise, is made up through its awesome PvE.

Verdict: LotRO is the next best thing for lovers of Tolkien and general fantasy, but should be avoided by anyone who rather stabs his party-member than help him.

Fury on the battlefield: Warhammer Online

There is a certain kind of animosity between fans of the Warhammer franchise, and fans of the Warcraft brand. The story goes like this: Blizzard Entertainment called Games Workshop a few decades ago, asking them if they could buy the Warhammer license for a cool computer real-time-strategy game. Games Workshop, fed up with the sucky games created under their license, told the CEO of Blizzard to find some other franchise to ruin, and hung up. Blizzard then said: “Well, let’s create our own fantasy universe then!”, and thus, Warcraft was born. If only Games Workshop had sold the license…

Anyway, Warhammer is still the number one brand when it comes to table-top wargaming, the mother of all nerdy hobbies. And it was only a question of time until someone would make a MMO based on this franchise. May I present: Mythic Entertainment and their game “Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning” (short: WAR).

WAR is, in my humble opinion, THE PvP MMO at the moment. Some might say: “No Aki, Dark Ages of Camelot is still better!” but I beg to differ! The time I have spent with my Goblin Shaman on the different battlefield of the Old World was terrific! Nuking and healing never felt so good, and collision detection never added so much to player-based conflict in a virtual environment.

But WAR has the “reverse LotRO-syndrome”: the PvE sucks! Now I wouldn’t mind a bad Player vs. Environment part if I could level just fine in PvP, but I can’t! Leveling in PvP scenarios is a pain in the butt, and takes ages. Mythic should revise that part of the game, and rely on the freaking strong part of their little masterpiece: smacking people’s heads and tearing them limb by limb! WAAAAAAGH!!!!

Verdict: PvP-monkeys, this is your game! If you’re able to live through repetitive and boring PvE-situations, you can go all-out-ball-out in this slaughter-fest! WAAAAAAAGH!!!!

Well, so far about alternatives to WoW. Hope I could broaden your horizon, and see you next time!