The Hour Before Christmas

Elite Master Bleakwind (or is it Bleakwing?)

‘Twas the hour before Christmas,

And throughout my house,

Computers were stirring,

And so was my mouse.

It just so happened that on this very morn,

What I thought was an ear pimple, was an infection born

Of much too much cleaning with cottony buds

And now I can’t wash my right ear, not with soapy suds.

Antibiotics are needed for recovery speedy

Can’t eat fatty foods. Is that sadness? Indeedy.

Yet to a gamer like me there is bliss to be found

In friends and adventures from Middle Earth bound.

Whether hobbit or dwarf, or man or elf,

It’s the heart of the warrior that beats in our selves.

Killed one hundred and ninety Ram Duath worms;

Some Drakes, and their matron, and Rare Elite Master burned.

Needless to say, it’s been a long day,

Doctors and LOTRO, and blogging, hoo-ray!

This simple poem shall now come to a close.

May the season see you well, and heavens willing, may I write better prose.

Final Fantasy XIV PC Beta Signups Now Ongoing

Just so everyone knows, Final Fantasy XIII isn’t the only show in town from Square Enix. The company recently announced that it had opened beta signups for PC users who want to test Final Fantasy XIV.

To sign up, just visit the following site, create a Square Enix account if you don’t have one, and follow the prompts to sign up for your chance to enter the beta. Just make sure to read the fine print.

Source: Kotaku

The New Lone Lands: Impressions

Candaith's Camp

I don’t have as many pictures as I’d like of the new Lone Lands, but I do hope the pictures I happen to have suffice for the time being.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Turbine revamped the Lone Lands with rome additional quests and NPC movements to make the experience of questing in the zone flow better through the overall story of your character. After going through Othrongoth and beating the stuffing out of some baddies, Tom Bombadil tells you to visit Saeradan, who will then tell you to go visit Candaith’s camp in the Lone Lands.

Normally, this would require an immense amount of backtracking through Bree and the Midgewater Marshes, but if you talk to Saeradan again, you’ll get the option to take an automated horse ride through the backroads of the weather hills to get to Candaith. Along the way (not pictured), you’ll also see some additional questgivers in a small encampment, that ask for your help in getting their stuff back.

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Blogging from the Future!

From Kamen Rider Decade Episode 1

Hi folks,

This is Victor Stillwater, coming to you live from the future. Present Victor is currently indisposed as he was/is writing a paper on the possible effects of dividing by zero and was/is thus stuck in the fabric of space-time between parallel universes. For that reason, instead of the brand-spanking new computer I was supposed to use in December 11, 2010, I am instead using our reliable gaming computer from 2009, which is a dedicated Windows XP machine.

ANYWAY…

I just wanted to update folks on what’s been happening to me, Future Victor, in the year so since the time-space warping or possible reality distortion of Present Victor.  It’s been a pretty exciting year for gamers, what with the many great releases and other life-altering events that occurred since… well, I’m not even sure if there is a “since,” given that I may be from an alternate future reality. Who knows, really?

Anyway, after resubscribing to Lord of the Rings Online, I spent a good couple of months just enjoying the content, trying to get myself to 65. Apparently, Present Victor’s gamble paid off, and there was a Christmastime discount on subscriptions and Mirkwood, so I got to enjoy Mirkwood for a little while.

I also learned to juggle multiple games. I’m not a multi-tasker but for some reason, when February rolled around, and White Knight Chronicles came out for the PS3, I knew I had to learn how to adapt to multiple awesome releases, especially since Final Fantasy XIII would come out four weeks later.  I did manage to finish White Knight Chronicles and skirmish my heart out in LOTRO, just in time for Final Fantasy XIII’s release, and I can safely say, Final Fantasy XIII’s storyline is just as good, if not better than Final Fantasy VII’s, thanks to the inclusion of Day One DLC for Final Fantasy XIII: Sephiroth.

Of course, I had to take a change in subs as I was extremely curious about Final Fantasy XIV, which came out a week ago in Future Victor time. It’s still got some of the nagging issues of requiring some miniscule amount of grinding, but crafters will rejoice, as it manages to enhance the crafting system found in EVE Online and Fallen Earth by allowing people to queue up items to be created through an online application that can be accessed through internet-capable phones.  Best of all, in Final Fantasy XIV, you don’t even need to store items in your inventory to create them! Just log out near a bank and you can craft using anything you have in your inventory AND in your bank vault.

Sadly, I, Future Victor, never got to play Fallen Earth again. Connection issues still remained.

In any event, folks who’d want to try blogging from the future may best be served by writing a paper on the possible effects of dividing by zero and see where it goes from there. There’s a lot of game space out there in 2010, and there’s bound to be a gem or two that I’ve missed, and a couple of dead MMOs that I’ve not discussed for fear of destroying the barrier that surrounds the parallel universes.

Cheers,

The Future Victor Stillwater, who’s reportedly just as awesome as the present one, albeit slightly slimmer.

The Adventures of Civrot Orearrib: New Modes of Travel

Introducing Civrot, My new Warden

So, two days ago, I decided to start over with an entirely new Warden that had all the money of my old one. From Civrotian Stillwater, I am now Civrot. I abandoned my older, smaller house, and decided to work towards getting myself not only a new mount, but also a bigger, better,  house.

In addition to attempts to amass gold, I also decided to take pictures of my adventures, making sure to note down any changes that have been made since Mirkwood got up and running (or at the very least, since the last time I played).

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Biting the Arrow in Mid-Flight

Since there are no bullets in Middle Earth, I suppose I’ll have to say that I bit the arrow instead of the bullet.

I resubscribed to LOTRO, as the ISP was taking way too long in remedying my Fallen Earth-related issue, and they also weren’t giving feedback about the status of my ticket. Since there’s nothing keeping me from playing LOTRO right now, I decided to just jump back in again, except in a different way.

I’m going to start over on the same server, with the same guild, and with the same class (a Warden). The reason for this is that I want to take screenshots of any changes I come across in my travels, such as the addition of new horses and stable masters. Hopefully, this trip of mine to get a character from 1-65 will be an interesting one as I encounter new and old things that seek to stand in the way of my butt-kickery.

In any event, a screenshot post will follow, with some of my observations from Bree and its surrounding environs.

EDITED TO ASK: How do I create posts on WordPress where the pictures are thumbnails or smaller versions of the original picture that link to a full version of the picture?

A Tale of Two Earths

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.

-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

There is something to be said for losing yourself in an alternate reality. Sometimes though, when we want to escape the realities we’re given, but we’re forced to choose from diverging paths. we have a tough time choosing where we want to go. This is how I feel right now.

I have to choose between fighting the forces of Sauron or surviving a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Let me tell you, the choice isn’t easy. Even though I’m leaning towards one world already, I have no idea if it’ll stay that way.

You see, as much as I love Fallen Earth, my ISP hasn’t given me a timetable as to when my issue will be resolved, much less whether it’ll be resolved to begin with.  At the same time, I love Lord of the Rings Online, and don’t have connection issues there, but after Fallen Earth’s crafting system, it feels as if everything pales in comparison.

Both have intriguing storylines, one serious and steeped in existing lore, and the other with a world that’s constantly being developed and expanded upon.  Both have satisfying systems of progression, and make an awesome ding sound when you level up. Both have tons of loot begging to be taken, and I’m still weighing my options.

Right now, I’m leaning towards going to Middle Earth, since the connection is relatively stable for that game, and it’s been revamped with the Mirkwood expansion, and I have an established guild waiting for me on one server and some trusty blogging friends on another.  Still, I’m thinking of what to do, seeing as I don’t know how long I can maintain playing the game. I guess I’ll just have to be patient and wait a little while longer for some sort of answer to come to me.

Arguments for either world would be much appreciated though.

On Fallen Earth’s Crafting System

Note: This post is actually a paper I’m writing for one of my Grad School classes, but I’m using the blogpost format as I have an easier time thinking when it’s in WordPress rather than on OpenOffice. I say this with no malice meant towards other games as it is simply the feeling that strikes me at the moment, given what I know of the massively multiplayer online role-playing games out at present.

Combined with the setting of Fallen Earth and nature of the game world’s item scavenging mechanics, Fallen Earth’s crafting system is one that attempts to balance the the fantasy behind a game world, the reality of crafting actual items and the convenience that comes from gaming.

In Fallen Earth, each player can use materials he finds in the game world to create thousands of different implements, from dyes to change the color of clothing to vehicles that allow players to travel around the game world faster. Fallen Earth’s crafting system allows players with the right ingredients and recipes to place their desired crafting projects in a queue, which will then be automatically processed in real-time, with simple craft items taking minutes to complete and more complicated things taking a few dozen hours. You can even queue items for creation so that they can be processed while you’re not playing the game.

Fallen Earth’s setting and scavenging mechanics allow the crafting system to be a major driving force in the game. Since the game is set in a post-apocalyptic Grand Canyon, everything you find is ultimately valuable and useful. For instance, a piece of scrap wood you found can be combined with some scrap metal to make an effective crossbow bolt. Because everything is valuable and useful, and because you use and look at everything as potential crafting material, it really feels as if you’re eking out a living in the wasteland.

The excitement of crafting items has to tempered by some suspension of disbelief, however. Fallen Earth attempts to balance the reality of crafting and the convenience of gaming by placing a timer indicating how long it’ll take for an item to be made. Once good point to the timer system in Fallen Earth’s crafting mechanics is that you can keep on playing while items are being made, which allows you to further immerse yourself in the world.

At the same time, however, the timer acts as a detractor from the game’s immersion, since no one actually creates something just by waiting. Even if one did hire a group of skilled, hypothetical workers to create something for you while you’re off running around the Grand Canyon,  it would take far more materials and far more time to create a motorcycle from scavenged junk. I feel that the compromise works in the favor of gamers though. It delivers an easy way to craft things and keep playing that turns into a small bit of additional micromanagement game for those savvy enough to want to make 15 dozen batches of bullets, and a full adventuring outfit while they’re out at work.

Ultimately though, what I can say about Fallen Earth’s crafting system is that the setting enhances the crafting experience, and the compromise between reality and convenience makes for one accessible crafting system that is easy enough to pick up, but requires dedication and time to fully appreciate.

Not an MMO, but a PSA: Avoid Evony

Instead of a nice, happy post, I’m just going to post a couple of videos today, courtesy of Destructoid.

They’re about the sensation game MMORPG malware waiting to happen known as Evony. The top video is a parody TV ad for Evony, while the other video is an attempt to show, through publicly available information, just how shady Evony really is.

More info on the unsavoriness of  Evony can be found at Bruce On Games. Just use the search bar found on the site for Evony, and the various bits of info should show up.

And yes, this is tagged under EvonyCrap.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNzaTePcs64]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFb9QKkNDU8]