The Grouchy Gamer

Yeah, I'm cranky. That's kinda the point...

Month: March 2008

How to Eliminate the Mid-Level Grind

I need help. This week, I actually considered the Station Pass. Here was my logic. I’m kind of in my mid-30’s doldrums with my EQ2 character. This is typical for me. I get to a place where everything isn’t brand new or totally epic and it feels like grinding. This passes, but while I’m in that place I like to let my character work on rested experience. So he’s doing that right now. Tarkheena has seen this before, and I think she recognizes it because she’s been reeeealy patient with me.  So I thought; “Maybe if we had the Station Pass, we could play EQ, and SWG, and PotBS, and Matrix, and…” then I realized that was a list of games I either don’t want to play, or play any more.

That got me to thinking; “Why is it that we get to this place? ” I know I’m not the only one. In EQ, it was the dreaded hell levels (GOD! Not 29-30! Ack!). In most games, there is a place in the middle that the designers just don’t know how to keep fun. Gone is the discovery and development of your character of the early stages. Way out in the distance is really interesting raid content and the like. What can they do about it?

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WAR Delay to Fall ’08 Announced

Over on the Warhammer Alliance site, Mark Jacobs has made a post announcing that they will be delaying the release of Warhammer: Age of Reckoning until the Fall of ’08. He also takes a minute to answer what are probably going to be some of the most FAQ about the delay. For example:

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Tail Wags Dog: Today’s Game Design Process

As I see the different games that are coming out and listen to the continuing debate as to whether or not PC gaming is dead, Something keeps ringing in my ears.  “Monetization” “Risk” “Expensive” and the now-infamous “You can’t make an MMO for half a billion dollars and guarantee that it will compete with WoW.”

It’s time for the consolidation of all the smaller studios into large publishing houses to stop.  It’s time for smaller studios to say no to the short-term monetary win and make games for the sake of games, knowing that if it’s good the money will follow.  It’s time for the game design process to self-correct.

Here is the major thing that I see as a problem.  PC gaming isn’t dead, but today’s development houses are TRYING TO KILL IT.  What do I mean by that?  Simple.  Here is the current process (as seen from the outside, admittedly this is perception and not necessarily true in every (or even most) case(s).

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Exclusive Interview with Warhammer’s James Nichols

I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with James Nichols, Community Coordinator for EA Mythic for Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (WAR.) For those of you who don’t know who James is, let me bring you up to speed a little bit. James was formerly involved in community management as a volunteer with one of the very early Vanguard fan sites. When Sigil needed another community relations expert they turned to that community and James came aboard. He took over for Nick Parkinson (Glip the Gnome) when Nick moved elsewhere within Sigil and became the day-to-day Community Manager. You may have known James there by his forum name of Elrar. I first met James on one of my visits to Sigil when I was going to do an interview with Salim Grant for my Vanguard Site, Vanguard Crafters. James is the kind of guy that you like immediately upon meeting him. When all the drama with Sigil went down, he found another home for his community skills at EA Mythic. He’s been there since, herding the Waaaaagh! faithful and keeping the beta forums civil and useful.

I asked James to do an interview so you all would have a little more insight into a community manager’s life at EA Mythic and what is going on with the Warhammer Beta. James was as straightforward as he could be about things, and in spite of the fact that the game is still in beta and under a pretty serious NDA was able to share some information with me regarding what is happening there. I also asked James a couple of questions about working at EA that weren’t in the interview like how he likes living back on the east coast after being in San Diego for a while (he likes it,) and whether or not Paul Barnett is that manic all the time at work (he’s not.)

What follows is the interview in it’s entirety. I would usually run a narrative through that but I wanted to give this to you all as I got it from James. For more information about WAR, go to

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SOE folded into SCEI

Well isn’t that just the way things go. I go a week or so without posting, and then there are three things I want to post about the same day. I’m not Tobold, so I won’t give you a well-thought-out (if erroneously reasoned) post about th


e subject. Apologies to Tobold, I just couldn’t resist.

It was announced today that SOE will now come under the umbrella of SCEI (Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc.) where honestly it rightly belongs. This means that SOE is no longer a part of the same division as Sony Pictures, but is instead in the realm of the PS3 and a gaming-only culture. I think this can be good for SOE depending on how cultures blend between the two (management) groups. If I were John Smedley, I might start polishing up my resume though. I don’t see why they would have the need for old Smed once this gets all done.

You can find the text of the official announcement here.

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Of Dunnys, EQII, and TF2 (Why I Quit WOW)

First thing, apologies for not writing recently. I’ve been distracted.

First of all, Team Fortress 2 has re-set it’s hooks into me. I find myself playing before and after my EQ2 play sessions. I’m actually starting to represent myself a little better, which is saying something for a gamer of my, er, life experience level.

Some Dunnys

Second, I’ve started a new obsession. It’s with art vinyl. What the hell is Art Vinyl? Well there are several companies that give vinyl figures to artists and ask them to make designs on them. One of the popular ones is from Kidrobot. The figures that I have become interested in are called Dunnys, and you can see some of them over at the official Kidrobot site. Turns out that these are done by what I would call “pop-culture” artists, designers that have traditionally done illustration, tattoos, grafitti, and other popular art expression. The stuff is mostly very cool. Tarkheena and I have been playing eBay and trying to get a few of these figures. We’ve also started an eBay business selling them. I’ll tell you the name if it takes off.

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38 Studios Chooses Unreal for Client Software

Today I noticed that Ryan Shwayder over at Nerfbat has posted a press release from 38 Studios regarding their second choice in the last few weeks of an engine for their new unannounced MMO.

BigWorld engine was chosen a couple of weeks ago for the back end (server-side engine) and they have chosen the Unreal Engine v 3.o for their client side. For those of you that don’t know, Unreal is a robust engine for building client side games. Epic, the developer of Unreal Technology, has made some successful games using the engine. The most notable of these are Gears of War and Bioshock. Most of you probably already know that these games are available both for the PC and XBox 360. I think this is notable as I expect that the 38 Studios product will likely be the next “AAA” MMO to ship with more than a PC as a platform.

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