Moving mountains

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 | 03:03 PM | by
And here I am, stuck in the middle of MMORPG's. It's this weird MMO limbo that strikes every few months, without fail. I've gone through it at least once or twice this year already.

Some of you know what I'm talking about. Where, no matter how invested you are in the current subscription game you're playing, your gaze is slowly drawn around looking for greener pastures. You begin to stare at new games, and even old ones you swore you'd never play again, with a sense of curiosity.

It's been quite some time, you tell yourself. Perhaps the game has improved. Or you start hyping yourself up over a game that hasn't gone gold yet.

Yeah, I'm in this phase, right now. As I have, for the second time, hit the maximum level in World of Warcraft, and once again done all there is to do, I'm finding my interests wandering.

I jumped into the stress test for Dungeons and Dragons Online yesterday. I'll talk a little bit about that for you.

First if all, it is very, very evident that the game is still in early beta phases. Connection was choppy. Some animations were uncompleted. It isn't close to that "polished" feel yet.

I'll do a quick rundowns of the good and bad, from my point of view.

Good points:
  • You can select a first and last name for your character.
  • Character facial customization seems to be pretty diverse. Not as good as some, but better than others.
  • Warforged are just a really damned cool race.
  • Combat is completely in real-time. You don't just toggle attack on and sit back. A click of the mouse button swings your weapon.
  • Ladders and climbing animations. May seem trivial, but really lacking in other games.
  • Breakable world objects. In dungeons and stuff you can smash certain things to find loot.
  • Very immersive world. As you explore a dungeon, you get narrative text that draws you into the invironment, in a very DnD-esque style. "As you descend into the tomb, your gaze is drawn to the large locked door in front of you".
  • Quests develop side quests. Additional tasks you can accomplish while on your main quest for extra experience.
Negative points (so far):
  • User Interface seems a little clunky and unrefined. Buttons are small and non-descript.
  • Awkward default control scheme. No ability to remap mouse buttons.
Most of the negative points are animation/connection related, and may be entirely due to the fact that the game isn't finished yet, so I won't bother with those. If they persist once people are paying for the game, then they will be concerns.

After DDO, I jumped into Star Wars Galaxies, because I was curious about their New Game Enhancements. I had played SWG during the beta test, then briefly at launch, and then again in early 2004. Hadn't touched the game since, and five minutes after I created my new character, I remembered why and uninstalled the game.

I know in a week or so I'll come around to World of Warcraft again. During my break though, I will continue to distract myself with other games, online and not, such as The Movies.

Hey, I wonder what Anarchy Online is like these days...

Just some reminders

Thursday, November 17, 2005 | 11:12 AM | by
Don't forget, next week, Monday the 21st, I will be participating in a live chat hosted by Xfire. You can sign up for a chance to participate, and chat with me, and ask me questions about CAD, webcomics, video games, whatever.

Xfire will also be raffling off about ten free video games during the course of the chat. I think it will be pretty fun, so go ahead and sign up here if you're interested in taking part.

Also, in January I will be attending Vericon in Boston, MA. It is the only convention I will be attending in 2006. They are planning an official Winter-een-mas celebration at the con, and I've heard very good things about the convention in general. Something you might consider looking into, if you're in the area.