The Grouchy Gamer

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

Month: August 2009

Cryptic Studios Aptly Named on Pre-Launch Event

Champions Online

Like anyone who is interested in the MMO space, I tend to want to at least try every game that comes along.  I was a little resistant to mess with Champions Online just because from the brief time I spent with it in beta, it felt like CoX 2.0.  This isn’t a ringing endorsement.

Like a lot of people, Tarkheena and I were fascinated by the character creation though.  Add to that a lot of friends that are playing and we decided to give it a run.  I headed over to the Champions Online website to find out what the deal is with pre-order, head-start and the like.  I also wanted to find out when the game was going live.  According to what I saw there, I’m evidently just supposed to know this by osmosis or something.  There isn’t a single banner, news post, or link that would tell me when the damn thing is going to happen.

Being the stubborn sort, I refused to look elsewhere to find this news because if you are trying to sell me a product, I feel like you should effing tell me when it’s going to be available before I have to google (or Bing) it.

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Brett Close out, Jennifer MacLean in as 38 CEO

38 Studios

In a move that I didn’t see coming, Brett Close has left 38 Studios “to pursue other interests.”  This is a big change because it’s been said in the past about Close that he’s loyal and sticks to a position.  As a matter of fact it’s been discussed in the past that they were very pleased to be able to wrest him away from his last position.  Now we don’t know if this is a personal change for Brett, or if this is business driven.  We probably won’t know for a long time, if ever.  Brett isn’t from the Boston area and maybe there were family reasons for the change.  We’re just speculating, but any time the person at the top changes it’s a big deal.  The announcement hit the 38Studios.com site Friday, August 21st.

Brett is replaced at the helm by Jennifer MacLean, who was announced as joining the team back in March.  According to the release on the site, Jennifer is going to be the new CEO. Close held the position of President and CEO.  38 has not announced if Jennifer is going to be running the day to day business or if she’s going to take a more traditional CEO role and drive strategy.

According to IGN.com;

Prior to joining 38 Studios in March 2008, MacLean was vice president and general manager of games at Comcast, the largest cable company in the United States. Chairwoman Emeritus of the Independent Game Developers Association, named by Gamasutra as one of the “Top 20 Women in Games,” and listed by Next Generation as one of the game industry’s “100 Most Influential Women,” MacLean has more than fifteen years of extensive experience in online content and interactive entertainment and holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.

We’ll keep on top of this and let you know what role she will take and where Brett Close might land.

Blizzard Proving Willing to Make the Big Change

When we are talking about the events in MMO history that have caused a company to become reviled among the player base, the Star Wars: Galaxies NGE is frequently brought to the forefront.  SOE still hasn’t lived down the whole debacle.  It’s not even entirely clear that it was their idea, as I hear a lot of people who should know such things point their fingers at LucasArts.  SOE would still be to blame for the timing, just days after an expansion shipped that a large percentage of their player base paid for. SOE or LucasArts, it’s hard to argue against that event being the nail in the coffin of SW:G’s hopes of world dominance.

With that as a background, Blizzard announces this week that they are going to make sweeping changes to their Goose in the hopes that it will continue to lay Golden Eggs at the same or an increasing rate.  For the most part, other than the Horde getting screwed with gobby’s as a race when the Alliance is getting effing Werewolves, the player base looks at it and says a collective; “Hells yeah.”

What’s the difference?

Well there are many and fundamental differences.  I won’t rehash what SOE did too much other than to say that they changed the fundamental nature of the game, some even say the genre.  Blizzard is continuing it’s tradition of changing and rebalancing classes on a continual basis, but overall the fundamental game play will stay similar.  There are going to be a LOT of new features in Cataclysm, but most of them are net-new stuff and won’t likely be viewed as take-aways.  Blizzard is also giving us something that no other MMO company in my (admittedly faulty) memory has done, which is to go back and try to make the old, tired, and trivial content usable and playable again.  I think this makes a lot of sense, because you can redevelop and area and make it good a lot faster than you can go and make new areas, and adding new stuff doesn’t address your abandoned content problem.

I don’t know how the Cataclysm is going to work out.  I am willing to be they will sell a ton of it, but it remains to be seen how the whole things comes together.  A lot can definitely go wrong.  Blizzard’s track record suggests it probably will be mostly solid.  We’ll see, I guess.

For now, I have to say that I’m impressed that they are willing to take a chance and do something bold.  This is certainly bold, if nothing else.  I hope it works out for them. There’s nothing I want more than a dilemma about whether I should be playing WoW or SWToR, or even Copernicus, if that is out during that time frame.  Choices are what it’s all about. It’s going to be a while before we find out if this is a good one for Blizzard.

Big Class Changes to Accompany Cataclysm

In addition to the huge changes coming to the game world, it appears that WoW 4.0 is going to bring some pretty substantial changes to the way the classes work.  I’m going to reference an article that I’ll link from the live blog at Blizzcon’s Class, Items, and Professions Panel today.  Here are the major points…

  • Goblin Racials will be Rocket Jump (20 Yard jump, 2 minute cooldown), 1% increase to attack and casting speed, Pack Hobgoblin (calling a personal servant to run your bank errands every 30 minutes) and +15 to Alchemy.
  • Worgen Racials are Darkflight (sprint, on a cooldown), Reduced duration on curses and diseases, Flayer (bonus to skinning, no need for skinning knife), and of course Worgen form.  You can choose to be human or Worgen out of combat, but in combat you are always Worgen.
  • Soul shards will not take up bag space.  They are reworking the shard mechanic completely, may end up being generated on a cooldown.
  • Summoning demons will no longer take soul shards.
  • Lots of changes to fears and instant casts.
  • Hunters will no longer use mana.  They will have a stat called Focus, which you may remember if you were in the beta.  It’s a similar mechanic to Rogue energy.
  • Ammo may become an item, rather than a consumable.
  • MP5 is probably going away.  Spirit will inherit it’s functionality.  (I’ve always thought it was odd to have both.  Very confusing for a lot of people.)
  • Healers will get “Meditiation-like abilities.”
  • Spell power and attack power are going away completely.
  • Intellect will scale both your mana and your damage.
  • Agility now provides AP for rogues, hunters, shaman, and druids.  “No more plate-wearers stealing your gear”
  • Defense will be gone.
  • Tanks will recieve anti-crit via abilities.
  • Armor penetration will be gone.  (Yay!)
  • Adding a stat called Mastery, which sounds just as confusing.  More on that tomorrow.
  • Haste will speed up casting for casters, and energy/rage/etc. for melee.  No attack speed increase.
  • Block will now mitigate a percentage of the damage.
  • New legendary item, “Shadowmourne”, a 2-handed Axe.  “Obviously a Hunter weapon” they joke.
  • New profession archaeology.  Still a lot to be decided there.  Evidently you will use it to open “Paths of the Titans”.
  • Looks like it will unlock titles, vanity pets, maybe other special abilities.
  • Reforging will allow you to “increase customization of your gear”
  • Making fishing more fun.  They’d almost have to.
  • Planning on making racials more interesting.
  • Trade skills will increase another 75 points, new title: “Illustrious”
  • There will be a caster legendary item in the first WOW:C raid
  • Talk about making Shaman better AE healers, toning down Priest and Druid group healing.

There will be another panel tomorrow.  I’ll keep an eye out and if I see anything interesting, I’ll let you guys know.

Original Live Blog here..

It’s True! It’s a Cataclysm

All of the rumors turned out to be true.

Its a Cataclysm

It's a Cataclysm

Which means they weren’t rumors at all.  That means someone seriously stole Blizzard’s thunder by leaking that information.  We reported it here a few weeks ago, and MMO-Champion took the report to a level of detail that turned out to be very factual.  They claimed that people found this by data mining, and some of that might be true, but it sure looks like they got some inside information.  It’s turned out to be true, almost verbatim.

So what does that mean for WoW players?  In my opinion it creates what has to be the most exciting expansion yet.  But this expansion is certainly not without risk.

When the news broke officially today I was at work without access to the Blizzard web site or this one. Of course, I had to comment so I did what everyone else seems to be doing today and turned to Twitter.  Here is what I said;

We’re all excited about Cataclysm now. What’s the over/under on the date that people will call for “classic” servers?

You know how we are.  And when I say “we” I mean us MMO gamers.  We clamor for something when we like the romantic notion of it, but we don’t necessarily like it when we get it.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this one is going to be a little different.  I do believe that there will be those who long for the “old” Azeroth once it’s gone.  I can totally see Branyanu and I running around somewhere in the old world the last days before the patch hits, soaking it in one last time.  We did that at the end of beta, parking our favorite beta characters up on the top of a mountain as we watched the server click down to the end, never to see them again.  I’m sure that nostalgia will strike again.

But in reality, the old zones have served their purpose, and now lie mostly dormant.  The ones that don’t are often the scene of level 80’s murdering level 30’s.  Maybe in the post-Cataclysmic Azeroth there will be mechanisms that make that harder to do.  If you’ve read this blog for a while you know I’m no fan of Wolf vs. Sheep PVP.   But I digress.  The old zones will now be filled with new scenery, monsters, and challenges.  Blizzard has already said that the monsters are “leveling up” as we speak.  Sounds like they are planning on shaking up the old bestiary too, at least on how tough they are.

I’m not going to report all the new features, you all probably already know them.  If not click the graphic of the new logo above to be taken to the Cataclysm official site.

Are you guys looking forward to this as much as I am?

Win

If you watch the online video series The Guild, or even if you don’t, this is a win on several levels. If you don’t watch The Guild, you need to head over to WatchTheGuild.com and get caught up. Until then, check out Felicia Day and the rest of the crew from the show in this new music video. I know this is probably going to break my stylesheet, but I don’t care.

If you liked this, go over and buy it on iTunes. As of today, it’s the #1 music video there. Tell Felicia that Genda sent you.

Painting With a Broad Brush

Antisocial Much?

Antisocial Much?

I’ve been reading Tobold’s series of posts since his un-retirement (from blogging) that all share the “Why we play” theme.  I think his posts are thoughtful and incisive, although I don’t always agree with him.

One thing I’m noticing is that there seems to be a distinct “what’s wrong with WoW” tint to the series.  For example, in the current post, Why do we play? – Social interactions. Tobold points out why the social temperature in WoW is poor, while it is better in “free2Play” games. Specifically, he points out that raiding guilds are like professional sports teams;

But a professional sports team isn’t a group of friends who decided to play together, but rather an assembly of people each talented for whatever position he is playing. And WoW raiding guilds are designed around the same principles: Guilds don’t recruit nice players, they recruit a “healer with epic gear”. There are guilds where you can get kicked out for crimes like taking a three-week holiday. And good luck explaining to your guild that you are retiring your raiding priest, because you’d rather reroll a hunter.

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