One MMORPG To Rule Them All…

Yes, for those of you who didn’t know it, I play World of Warcraft from time to time. from time to time attempts to chart the number of subscribers for the various MMORPG’s (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) out there. It’s kinda cool to check out.
Here’s the one with WoW on it: MMOChart

Should I Stop?

I suppose this is meant for the married folk out there, but funny for all.
If you’re ever wondering when you should stop playing that game, here’s a nifty flowchart that should help you.
Decision Matrix

Paladins… The Timex of World of Warcraft

(WARNING: This blog uses language common to the game of World of Warcraft. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, do not fear dear reader. Simply send along your email address in the comments, and we’ll be sure to get you a 10-day trial key to the game. Remember, the first month is free)
I have to admit. As much as I enjoy blasting away with a mage in World of Warcraft – being able to drop a mob before it gets close enough to lay a hand on me – there’s something equally fascinating about playing a paladin. They certainly don’t do the damage that a mage can, but then again, try killing a paladin…
Case in point. Here’s how an unusual pull with my level 60 paladin went a few days ago in one of the new 60+ zones in the Burning Crusade expansion.
I go to attack a level 59 orc. We’ll call him mob 1.
While fighting him, two of his buddies drop in. They’re on mounts, which attack as well, and all are level 60. Let’s call them mobs 2-5.
(Meh, says I)
Mob 1 dies. Mob 2 dies. I have three more to go.
Another mounted rider decides to join the party. That’s mobs 6 and 7.
(Really low on mana at this point)
Mob 3 and 4 die.
A wandering 61 guard drops in. That’s mob 8.
(Time to BOP and bandage)
Mobs 5 and 6 drop.
Two to go.
Another wandering guard wants to be part of the action. He’s mob 9.
Still going.
(Time to lay on hands)
Mobs 7 and 8 finally die.
One left.
Oh, lookee there. I’ve been here in this fight so long that Mob 1 has respawned and has come back for more. Now he’s mob 10.
A few minutes later….
10 mobs dead. 1 paladin still standing.
The only sad thing about this is that the corpse timer ran out on the very first mob, so I never got to loot the corpse.
So, let’s see how that compares with a druid…
Pull mob 1. No problemo.
Mobs 2-5 show up… Aw crap.
(heal. shift to bear form)
I could probably outlast 2-3 of the mobs.
Mobs 6-7 show up.
(gotta heal, gotta heal, gotta… DOH!!!)
Ok, how about the mage?
Pull mob 1, not a problem. Drop him before he gets to me.
Mobs 2-5 run up as mob 1 dies. Aw crap!
(Frost Nova, back up, and AOE)
Mobs 6-7 stop by before I have killed 2-5, and now I’m almost out of mana.
(Frost nova again)
Oh sure, I know what you’re thinking. A mage could, in theory, AOE all of the mobs. But, the catch to AOE is that you have to round everyone up beforehand, then unleash hell. In the paly fight, mobs were joining mid-fight, which a mage can’t handle as well.
So there you have it. Paladins. They take a licking and keep on ticking… : )

World of Warcraft – the burning question…

A couple of weeks ago, the first expansion for World of Warcraft was released. The good news is that there’s lots of new things to do. The level cap has been bumped up to 70. There are two new races and two “new” classes (one for each faction). Of course, the “new” classes already existed, but they were unique to each faction (paladins for Alliance, shaman for Horde). Now, both sides have them, meaning there are no faction-unique classes. The new races have new starter areas, and there’s a new continent with new lands to explore, but only for those above level 58.
But, now comes the REAL question? What to do first? Do you roll one of the new classes and start over? Or, do you explore the new areas and start the grind to 70?
I had no idea what to do. I have some friends who are more casual players. For them, rolling a new character is an easy call because they haven’t really invested a lot of time in their existing characters. I have other guildmates who only play one or two characters, both are level 60, so for them the grind to 70 is the way to go.
No one was looking forward to grinding to 70, especially after Blizzard had told everyone long ago that leveling to 60-70 would take as long as it would to level a character from 1-60. But, fortunately, the reality is not nearly as bad. Within two days, someone had already reached 70, and now, a few weeks later, there are numerous players who are either or close to that level. Granted, the experience point totals look huge: 494,000 points to go from 60 to 61. 574,000 points to go from 61 to 62. But, Blizzard has put a lot of effort into making sure there are plenty of quests for players to do and that the experience rewards are scaled up.
So, back to the original question: What to do? For players like me, who have managed to acquire multiple 60s, and have more on the way, it’s a really tough call…
Some of us decided to roll new characters and test out the new races. That lasted about a week. By then, the reports started coming in from the new high level zones. “HOLY CRAP!!! Look at the stuff I just got!!!” Then, it was on. To contrast, in the first week when the expansion came out, my guild consisted of new alts all level 10 or under. By the weekend, 98% of the guild had their level 60s on and were in the new zones.
Ultimately, for me, it looks like I will do the same thing I’ve always done. Level multiple characters. After a year of simply running instances, I have had a chance to re-discover the power of my mage in killing non-elite monsters. I’ve also got a druid that I really want to finish out, but he’s not quite high enough to hit the new zones. Plus, I have had some old friends – the casual players – who have gotten re-hooked on the game. So, now I’m leveling a new character that will be set aside explicitly for grouping with them.
Oh, I’ve got other 60s I could level, and I may eventually when these are done. The hunter did pretty well in Outland, but the paladin was painfully slow compared to the dps of the mage.
Speaking of, it’s time to log on now… : )

Which is better? 1, or 2?

I stumbled across this article today with some very interesting videos.
1up has a blog called ‘what the cell?’ which does a comparison of identical titles running on the Xbox 360 and the PS3. On some of them they’ve even spliced the video so you can see the same sequence on the Xbox on the left, and the PS 3 on the right.
1Up What the Cell?
Download the HD ones if you have time. Can you tell the difference?
1Up wasn’t out to show off one versus the other. They were more concerned about why the PS3 titles are not as bleeding edge as they have been advertised to be.
But, for the rest of us, it makes a compelling argument on why shell out the extra $$$ for a PS3, if you can even find one.

Sony has no clue about the PSP…

Sony is in big trouble with the PSP. They can’t figure out how to market it. First it’s a gaming machine. Then it’s a multimedia machine. Now, it’s something of both.
The truth of it is that the PSP is a remarkable machine. It could be so much more. But, one of the problems is that Sony’s advertising is misleading, in my opinion.
Take a look at their new “find me” commercial:  Find Me PSP
The girl in the commercial drops off a memory stick with the message “find me” to a guy sleeping (we can only assume it’s his bedroom – which is interesting because the situation implies he’s already “found her” and spent the night with her – but I digress).
Anyway, the guy looks at the various things on her memory stick for clues to her whereabouts. We see a video of her singing and a photo of her in a shirt with a unique logo that he finds on a poster.
Sure, its nice that you can put pictures and video on the PSP. What they don’t tell you is that you can’t do that very easily. You can if you cough up another $25 for Sony’s media manager. Or you can dig around for one of the freeware apps.
But, what would make the PSP a really cool machine is if the girl in question could have done all of this on the PSP natively. Oh yeah yeah, they have that nasty god awful brick of a camera that’s supposed to come out at some point (and costs more $$$).
Pics of PSP camera / GPS unit
So, why not just go ahead and make a PSP2 or PSP redux and integrate the camera in it? You would think it wouldn’t be that hard since every cell phone now has some type of camera in it, if not something with 2-3 megapixels.
While you’re at it, let’s rethink the GPS thing as well. I don’t care if it’s integrated, but I would like it to be a separate attachment that looks like it’s part of the overall design, not a big clunky block sticking out on top of the PSP.
And, go ahead and open up the source. The modders are coming up with really cool things for the PSP, so why stop them? How hard is it to make good music player UI?
It’s really sad because the PSP is one really cool little machine. It’s unfortunate that Sony can’t make up their mind about what they want it to be or invest the resources in making it a much better machine.

Wii are the champions…

For anyone not paying any attention to the world of gaming lately, two of the latest next gen consoles have released in the last week or so: the playstation 3 (ps3) and the nintendo wii (yes, it’s “weee”).
If you look at what’s out there now, I think the Wii is going to blow away the competition in sales over the next year, even though the Xbox 360 has a year-long head start. Why? Simple:
1) The Wii doesn’t use the bleeding edge technology the other guys have, which is a plus because they can crank them out production-wise. Sony barely managed to get out 400k units of the PS3 at launch, and they’re still struggling. Rumor has it that Nintendo plans to have 4 million Wii’s out there by end of year.
2) The Wii has a lower price point than the others. At $250, it’s a bargain compared to the other two (360 is at $399 and PS3 at $599 – don’t let the marketing guys fool you – sure they have a “lower end” model – but you’re better off getting the higher priced one by the time you buy the components separately).
3) Nintendo is making sure their major brands are out there with new games at launch, especially Zelda, which is by far one of their most popular titles. The worlds of Zelda  and Mario have sold them millions of machines over the years, and their popularity transcends the usual gamer market. That means, someone would buy a Wii purely on the basis that there’s a new Zelda or Mario game. Microsoft and Sony don’t have anything on their consoles that can even compare to that type of consumer loyalty.
4) Nintendo is trying something different with the way we play video games. They’re trying to make the experience more interactive with their unusual controllers. It’s hard to say how well this will work (and they can easily come out with standard controllers if it doesn’t), but the initial reviews have been positive.
In a way, Nintendo appears to be borrowing a page from Apple, whose ability to design products that “just work” is uncanny. Instead of making something bleeding edge, Nintendo went the other way. Let’s make a video game system that’s “FUN” to play.
Wow. Imagine that.
Things could get interesting if Microsoft chose to drop the price of the Xbox 360 to $199/299, but there’s no indication at this point that they are willing to do that. Even so, after looking at all three consoles this week with my family, there’s not a single title on the Xbox or the PS3 that entices me to buy the game.
But, that new Zelda game, on the other hand, might be worth picking up…
Now, if I can just get my hands on one of those Wii’s…

WoW – catching up is hard to do…

For those of you not in the know, WoW is short for World of Warcraft, one of the newest Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) recently unleashed upon the world.
This cartoon from the guys at penny-arcade prettymuch sums up my experience when it comes to playing these games with friends and family.
Being of Indescribable Power
My experience with these games started way back in 1999 with the original Everquest. Before long, most of my friends and family were hooked as well. The biggest problem I found is that not everyone has equal time to play the game. So, the more casual players get left behind. I’ve seen it happen on every game I’ve played, and I’ve tried most of them.
Why is this a problem? Well, in most of these games, you have to group with other players. A group can consist of up to 5-8 people. Most people prefer to play with people they know. But, the problem is that most of these games restrict what levels you can group with. In Everquest, a level 10 character cannot group with a level 60.
So, you try to play catchup. This can be an exercise in frustration. For example, you have a friend who’s one of those ‘play until you pry the keyboard from my cold dead hands’ types. He’s level 20, you’re level 5. So, he pesters you to play more. If you could just get to 20, the game would be so much better, and you could play together. So, you find some extra time and after a week or two, finally get to level 20. Well, by that time, your friend is now level 30ish, and now he’s telling life is better at 30. And so on…
I had another friend who got hooked on Everquest about three years after I did. He worked on a single character, switched servers to play with another old friend, and worked his butt off to get a character to level 65, the highest level in the game at that time. He didn’t understand why I didn’t have any characters at least his level. He didn’t realize that by that time I was only playing 2-3 times a week for a couple hours at a time compared to the time he was putting in.
Now, getting a chance to play with some of the hard core guys is an experience, especially when it comes to raids. Raids are another type of grouping. Instead of a single group of six, you can have multiple groups combined up to about 72 people. Raids are designed for very high level monsters/dungeons. I had a chance to join my friend’s uber guild on some EQ raids a while back. These are guys that raid 4-5 nights a week for 2-3 or more hours at a time, and it shows. Watching them execute a raid with military precision made it hard to go back to raiding in my guild, where most players are new to the concept.
I used to spend a lot more time playing than I do now. Even in WoW, the newest game, where I have a good portion of friends and family hooked, I don’t spend a lot of time playing. So, that puts me with characters about 20 levels behind almost everyone else.
Once I get to that point, I start to experiment with other classes. So, instead of spending time playing one character to 40, 50 or 60, I may have one guy at level 25 and a bunch of characters at 10 or under. : )
I’m in that indecisive mode now. I’m trying almost all of the classes that WoW has to offer. I think I’ve narrowed it down to three classes…
Fortunately, WoW is relatively new, and it still caters to all players. Everquest now focuses almost entirely on the uber players, and most of them have left for other games ( Everquest 2 came out in November – a week before WoW ).
The biggest difference I have seen is that WoW is drawing in people who normally would not play this type of game. There are lots of true ‘newbies’ on the game. The down side is that there are a lot more younger players ( 17 and under ) on this game. You see some of it in general chat, but you really start to see it in the guilds. The older players tend to get a little raunchy in guild chat, and it will offend the younger players.
So, what I’d like to see is a way to check for ages. My friends and family are talking about forming our own guild in WoW now and trying to restrict it to ages 21 and older. If we find out you’re underage – you’re out. Of course, there’s no true way to ‘card’ people in a virtual world. And, no, age isn’t everything. Some folks over 21 can act like they’re 13 on the game and vice versa.
Still, the game is a fun game overall. It is probably the best game out there at the moment. I also think it’s probably the best one for people completely new to the genre.