There’s a Blizzard in the Philippines


This next bit of information has very little bearing on anyone reading this blog, unless you live in Southeast Asia, or are from the Philippines, so feel free to skip my gushing now.

Ready?

The above number is for the Blizzard (of Activision-Blizzard fame, you know) offices here in Manila. I found out on Twitter just now that they’ve set up shop in my country courtesy of IAHGames, and may be adding servers in Singapore to better serve customers in Asia.

While I don’t exactly play WoW anymore, I find this to be great news for the gamers in my country, as we can all join in a round of Starcraft 2 (or any other Blizzard game) against each other without having as many connection issues as we had previously.

Also… it’s a potential area for myself to get a job in, though I don’t exactly hold high hopes for that. Still, it’s a nice thought to have, at least.

Star Wars Galaxies: First Impressions

Not even Han Solo himself can cheer me up after this abysmal experience.

As Victor has been letting everyone know lately, Steam is currently putting on a massive sale which will end on July 4th. This was a deal far too good to pass up despite my not really having the financial stability to justify such purchases at the moment and so I found myself taking advantage of the big Star Wars package on offer. Every title in that package was highly desirable to me, chief among them being the Jedi Knight series and KotOR. Secreted away amongst the bevy of FPSes however was a little MMO by the name of Star Wars Galaxies, well known for its exceptional misstep in the release of its New Game Experience. Well now I had no excuse for ignoring this venerable title and so I took the plunge and am now going to give you my first impressions.

Right off the bat: fuck alarm klaxons! Seriously, when I first drop into a new game, especially an MMO, I like to take my time checking out all the various windows and mucking about with the game’s configuration. This becomes an exponentially more painful process when there are alarms going off and I’ve got C-3PO constantly nattering at me to get moving. Dear SOE, this is the worst MMO intro I have ever experienced, you should be ashamed.

Backing up a bit though, character creation was okay, you get to adjust your features with some sliders and it doesn’t look half bad. What’s strange though is that you choose the outfit that your character starts out with before adjusting your features and when it comes to working on your character’s body choosing a baggy outfit makes things a little difficult so I don’t see why we couldn’t have the outfit selection afterward so you can work on a simple canvas from the outset. It’s a minor nitpick I know, but the next one is a little less so. When it comes to choosing your race and class in MMOs there’s never quite as much information to help you along as you might want, some manage this better than others (LotRO has done the best job I’ve seen with WoW in a close second) but SWG tells you practically nothing about your options. The vagueness wouldn’t be so bad but they don’t even tell you what MMO role any of the classes fall into and that’s just sloppy.

Read more

Is There a Classics HD Line for the PS3?

Here’s something interesting for the PS3 users out there. The European box art for the upcoming The Sly Collection sports the words, “Classics HD” right above the title. For those who don’t know what The Sly Collection is all about, it’s essentially a Sly Cooper videogame compilation that’s been PS3-ized for the gaming public.

Of course, we aren’t interested in that. Instead, what we want to know is simple: Will there be a Classics HD line for the PlayStation 3 in the future? If so, what games will come out as part of the line?

Obviously, this kind of goes against the whole backwards compatibility thing they were going for in the early ages of the PS3’s life cycle, but if some really good RPGs make their way onto the PS3 in an HD format with extras, then I may just pick a couple of them up if only for the chance at actually finishing the said RPGs.

Information gathered from Siliconera

Seven Reasons Why the Sarnak Rock

I was debating with myself whether to show my true colors, and then I thought, “What the hell. You only live once.” Today, I’m going to go out and show some racial pride!

You see, I think Sarnak rock. Hopefully, the explanation below will show you why I think Sarnak are awesome.

1. They’re dragons. None of that Iksar “Oh, I look like a lizard but am actually draconic” business. They look like straight up dragons. Who eat Aviaks for breakfast, with a side of fava beans and a nice chianti.

2. Sarnak have carpentry skills, and we all know Carpentry is the best tradeskill out there.

3. Sarnak have the best starting area out there. None of that overly icy stuff.

4. Hastened Gathering!

5.  They’re honorable warriors who don’t want to extinguish other races just to prove their superiority. They just want to beat your butt down and make sure you know who beat you.

6. Two Words: Peter Sarnak.

7. Sarnak is one letter away from the band Karnak, and we all know Karnak has one of the most awesome songs ever created, “Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6wwWJZyP2Y]

Change Happens, and We Must Accept It

A post over on the EQ2 blog Rat Warlock made me think about change for a little bit.

Recently, there have been quite a few upheavals in the MMO gaming scene. From LOTRO going free-to-play to upcoming revisions in the combat art progression in Everquest 2, to simply having new information on upcoming MMOs or expansions that veers somewhat away from what was previously made known (I leave you to your own examples here, though I keep thinking of WoW’s Cataclysm expansion as a possible go-to point, though I don’t know what’s changed), we are assailed by change from all directions.

My thought on the subject of change is simple, however: we have to accept changes as they happen, and look at them from the point of view of rational assessment and discussion rather than plain fondness or disdain.

Let me take the LOTRO F2P occurrence as an example on my end, since it’s the one I actually have a post on at present. When I discussed it here, I was talking about the possibilities for success or failure on either side. I accepted the change as an opportunity to look closely at a game’s structure and see how well it might perform under certain conditions.  Afterward, I left my concerns and hypotheses for or against the idea on an open forum and allowed people to comment with their own thoughts on the matter. Ultimately, I did my best to keep my personal bias out of my considerations in order to foster meaningful discussion.

On the other hand, we have the people who keep their biases intact with little regard for things beyond their ken. As the Rat Warlock put it for these particular occurrences, “Minor announcements somehow become huge, tremendous upheavals full of vehement fanboi narcissism.” The post linked above on EQ2 combat arts getting their progressions altered angered some folks because (I’m guessing) it was like some higher power was telling them what they could or could not do.

Perhaps a better way of addressing the change in their case would have been for them to accept that the change is happening and to ask follow-up questions that would allow them to learn more about why SOE made that particular decision. As it stands, that 13-page thread has some explanations from the devs, but it didn’t seem to satisfy some people.

Given my stance on the issue, it may appear that I am some sort of heartless, unfeeling machine or some such. Let me assure you that such is not the case. I have my own biases and preferences, and while I do not speak them out as often as other people do, I find that taking a more reflective route can help me (and hopefully others) to understand certain aspects of the things they care about better.

The paradoxical nature of change (the saying that change is constant) requires us to also adapt to the situation at hand and learn more about new situations instead of giving in to our knee-jerk reactions, whether they be positive or negative.

EDIT: I do believe I now remember what I was thinking about when I mentioned WoW here. It was the Path of the Titans being removed as a form of advancement.

Image taken from Wikimedia Commons, by Alex Burton

Too Cheap to Resist

So as most of you folks now know, Steam is having a massive (understatement of the week) sale on a whole lot of games, or on game bundles from now until July 4.

There were only two games that really caught my eye, however: The Witcher Enhanced Edition and Avencast: Rise of the Mage.  Both of them are RPGs and combined, would cost me less than $10 US to buy. What did I do? Buy the one with better reviews, of course, which means I shelled out a little over 6 dollars for The Witcher Enhanced Edition.

The thing is, they’re a beast to download because of the connection speed in the Philippines. Right now, I’m fluctuating between 30 to 70kb/sec, which puts my estimate at around 15-20 hours to download the whole Witcher game.

It’s a good thing I can stop and start the download because of Steam, or else I’d have to keep my computer running overnight, which I absolutely hate doing. Anyway, expect some impressions of the game when I finish downloading it and learn to take screenshots and such.

Hyper Video Cast Off: Nobody’s Perfect

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=206diiNL4OU]

This is not the Nobody’s Perfect from that Miley Cyrus woman (though I do expect to see some angry fans of Miley Cyrus here saying, “OMG BAIT AND SWITCH!”) but rather, a more manly song. In Japanese. That features a hard-boiled detective. Who turns into a Kamen Rider and uses a gun. While wearing an awesome hat and a scarf.

If that intrigued you, then you’ll be glad you saw this.

Without going into too much detail on the actual storyline of the series this is based on, let me just say this: The guy in the video who sees the Nobody’s Perfect book is actually magically reading and experiencing a past event, where the guy with the hat (Koji Kikkawa, who also sang this song, mind you) is tasked with finding a missing girl.

In natural hard-boiled detective fashion, he finds the girl, gets his ass kicked, and then recovers and counters with a beating of his own.

If you’re wondering why he turns into a costumed crime fighter… well, this is actually a music video based on the 2009-2010 series of Kamen Rider shows in Japan, called Kamen Rider Double (W). The character Koji Kikkawa plays, however, is only a minor role, even if he does become a Kamen Rider as well. In his case, he’s called Kamen Rider Skull.

Anyway, I’ll have a primer on Kamen Rider up on the site next week. Let me know if you’re interested in finding out more about the Kamen Rider franchise, or if you have any particular questions about Japanese costumed warriors. Cheers.

He’s no Tom Jones: Wayne Newton to Star in Fallout: New Vegas

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa1YsrQoCf0]

While we don’t really have any official word on who’s going to be in Fallout: New Vegas, it seems there’s at least some certainty right now regarding who’ll be playing the new disc jockey this time around.

Word out on the strip pegs Wayne Newton himself playing the role of the DJ, Mr. New Vegas.While I myself would have preferred some Tom Jones action, Wayne Newton should do the job rather well, seeing as he is an iconic Las Vegas performer.

Yup, that’s all the info I have today. I’ll give an update that confirms this or not when it becomes available. Till then, feel free to watch the video above, which showcases one of my favorite Wayne Newton moments from the silver screen.

Info from No Mutants Allowed and DasReviews

There And Back Again

But this is no hobbit’s tale by Bilbo Baggins, no, this is simply a story about my brief return to the world of Azeroth and my subsequent journey back to the lands of Middle-Earth. I started up WoW again so I could play with a friend, only that intention ultimately fell through and I found myself simply going through the same motions I went through every time I gave World of Warcraft a shot, going back all the way to its launch. In fact, my feelings for WoW mirror that of most other MMOs, even Lord of the Rings Online (in the beginning, that is) and I rarely found myself subscribed to one of these overwhelming time sinks for more than a month before I grew weary of the grind. LotRO changed all that with the release of the Mines of Moria and unveiling of the Warden class, single-handedly revitalizing my interest in the genre, and so I’m here to talk about the differences between WoW (now that it’s fresh in my mind) and LotRO and why the latter still has my loyalty.

I should probably get one thing right out of the way, while I’ll harp on World of Warcraft as much as the next guy I do not consider it to be a terrible game, far from it. It should go without saying that many of the best features of the modern MMO stem from the design philosophy over at Blizzard, though these features are often mishandled, and as such WoW is at least owed some grudging respect. Still, having not played the game for a couple years my memories were fuzzy and with the looming Cataclysm on the horizon now seemed as good a time as any to give it another go. Why then have I given up after a short month, without having even broken the low 30’s? Well, I always thought it was because I didn’t like the setting and the story, but I now know it is far more than that.

Read more

EQ2 Stuff I Now Know Because I Know Now What I Did Not Know Before, Ya Know?

While questing around with one of Pid’s many characters, he asked me how I could run so fast. I explained to him that I was using a claim rewards cloak and a charm that grants additional runspeed, hence I was moving about as fast as a mount.

This simple exchange led me to wonder what other things EQ2 players don’t usually think about or know of in the process of playing the game, and I felt this would be the perfect opportunity to post on that particular subject.

Now, for most needs, I find this post on the little things about EQ2 very informative, even if some parts may be outdated at present.

As for me… here are a couple of things that I thought new EQ2 players might want to know if ever they need additional tidbits of information.

1. /CLAIM is your friend.

This is perhaps the most wonderful little device that most people may know about, but forget in the process of playing. Typing /claim in the chat screen will open up a claim rewards menu, allowing you to claim anything that shows up as a reward on that menu. Some of those can be claimed by each character you make, while others work only on one character, so you have to be careful about that.

2. Claim your runspeed cloak.

In the claim menu, there should be an option to pick up a Universal Trial package. When claimed and unpacked, you will receive some EXP potions, as well as a Green Journeyman’s Cloak. This cloak adds 25% to your runspeed, and we can add on it in a few moments.

Note, however, that it seems you will have to actually participate in the trial of EQ2 to get the cloak. Pid just told me in-game that he doesn’t have that option, and it appears he bought the game without actually doing the trial.

3. Starter Areas have the starting harvesting and crafting quests. DO THEM!

As stated above, the Starter Areas in the game now have a quest to teach you the fine art of harvesting. When you harvest materials, and complete the quest, you will receive a Storage Box that is disassembled. Right-clicking and assembling the box creates a 9,999 Weight box for you, which you should put in your bank promptly so you can actually move fast again. Obviously, do the assembly right beside the banker for best results.

After completing the harvesting quest, a nearby mender will offer players another quest, which is to teach them how to craft. Completing the crafting quest gives you a charm that, when activated, increases your runspeed by another 17%. In a nutshell, 17 + 25 = 42, which means that you have 42% runspeed before you even hit level 10.  This is two percent faster than a 10 platinum horse, mind you, so be thankful that SOE did this to make your life easier.

Also, please note that for those folks who want to use this, you’ll have to equip the item first and then activate the item to get the benefit.

4. If you’re a crafter, then get Ample Harvest.

Now, this next one is just personal preference, but when you start a new character and decide to make it a crafter/gatherer, it would be most advantageous for you to get the above-pictured Ample Harvest skill in the Shadows Tree of your Alternate Advancement setup maxed out. This passive skill, when maxed out,  gives you a 15% chance to harvest a second time on a material node when used. In other words, you get more materials more often, and the second harvest counts as a second chance to get a rare material.

Why is this my personal preference? Well, the next point sort of makes that clear.

5. Go to the Isle of Mara when you hit level 5.

This bit of information I picked up from Arkenor, and is currently the thing that makes me want to level up faster.

You only get the above-mentioned Alternate Advancement points after hitting level 10, but at level 5, you can begin a quest that makes full use of that ability when it’s finally maxed out. The Isle of Mara is a level 50 zone, but getting there using a one of those travel globe thingies at main cities will place you at the docks of the Village of Shin. On the opposite side of the river, on a small pond near where all the big houses are, is a little boy named Qho Augren who will offer you a quest (a series of quests actually, called A Gathering Obsession) to gather just about everything there is to gather on Norrath.

You’ll begin with the collection of starter area material nodes, moving onto to higher level nodes as you progress. Thing is, for a poor first starting character, the reward for the first part of the series is at least 17 gold. The Ample Harvest skill allows you to speed up the collection process, especially for annoying ones, like fish (which usually require a bit of swimming) or different kinds of trapped meat.

There you have it. Hopefully this post will help you folks out in making money and making the most out of your time when you start a character. If ever you end up on Lucan D’Lere, feel free to send me a /tell on my main or my alts, and I’ll be glad to help you out. Cheers!

EDITED TO ADD: Made some revisions and clarifications on some of the points, as per some additional information and questions by Pid and Sev.