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  • Guild Wars 2: The Good Stuff

    Posted on September 6th, 2012 Finster No comments

    HURR DURR LF1M TANK SPEC BETTER HAVE GOOD GEARSCORE DURRRRI’ve played a lot of MMO’s. One of the only mainstream MMO’s I missed out on was the Grand-daddy of MMORPG’s, Ultima Online. I was too busy still playing MUD’s to worry about Ultima Online. As someone who’s played them a lot, there are many things that become old hat for the grizzled MMO veteran.

    Competition for resources, long travel times, crafting progress bars, difficult-to-use auction houses, login queues. Then there’s the gameplay that, since WoW came on the scene, ends up being very same-y. Copious action bars filled with loads of skills and abilities. Which of your 24-30 attack abilities should you use? Good question, but be assured that someone has already done all the math for you.

    The problem is MMO’s are, fundamentally, designed to waste time. You pay a monthly fee, so the longer they can keep you around, the better off they will be. The Free2Play models don’t help this, unfortunately. They are designed to waste time, as well, but you can buy in to get some shortcuts around some (but never all) of the time wasters.

    So, what if there was an MMO that eschewed monthly fees or the Free2Play models, and instead charged you a premium up-front? Those familiar with Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 already know where this is going.

    I stayed away from Guild Wars, but the buzz surrounding Guild Wars 2 was too much for me. You see, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with MMORPG’s. On the one hand, the possibilities of running around a persistent, virtual environment have fascinated me since those first times I read Neuromancer and Snow Crash. On the other hand, modern MMO’s (with a few exceptions) are so fundamentally flawed that playing them is like beating my head against a frozen cow hoping a scoop of ice cream will pop out.

    Almost every single MMO puts so many barriers between me and “fun” that it eventually becomes too laborious to even bother anymore. For some people, long sessions of grinding out XP or minerals is fun. I am not one of those people. I might as well just spin up Diablo and get my action there… if it weren’t for the lack of persistence.

    Playing Guild Wars 2 has been ridiculously refreshing. It’s like Arenanet took an MMO and then removed all the stuff that is just there to waste time. Long travel times? Nope, you can instantly fast travel to any warp point you’ve previously visited, a la Elder Scrolls games. Competing for the same mineral nodes? No way, resource nodes are “instanced” for each individual. If you see a resource node, then it’s yours and no one else can swoop in and jack it while you helplessly bash your head against your desk. Need to get to level 55 but you already did all the quests? Not in Guild Wars 2. There is SO MUCH CONTENT!

    I’ve been enjoying it immensely, and I feel like it’s because they’ve taken literally everything I hate about MMO’s and tossed it right into the drink. That isn’t to say that everything about Guild Wars 2 is perfect, because it certainly isn’t. Stability and security issues have been somewhat prevalent. Then, there were the permanent bans for doing seemingly innocuous things like buying something in-game with once currency (karma) and selling those things for another (gold).

    Arenanet certainly falls on its face from time to time, but I think it’s fair to say this is one of the most bug-free MMO’s that’s ever been released. Now, whether you think it’s fun, that is another question. If you enjoy killing the same creature or boss over and over again, then this may not be the game for you. If you aren’t really interested in well-implemented WvWvW (World vs. World vs. World, which I will probably get to in another post), then this may not be the game for you.

  • Random WoW chats I get

    Posted on September 2nd, 2010 Finster No comments

    [B?zzard] Dear players,your account is complaints by other players,please visit account information site validate your information,or else will stop using your account’s rights in one hour. warcraft validate site: {hilarious engrish url redacted}

    [Malo…] are you collecting the Gahz’ridian ornaments?

    [B?zzoç–µrd]: Hello,you are drawn in the system to receive your gift.Pleast visit: Steed will be yours.

  • Who buys this crap?

    Posted on May 3rd, 2010 Finster No comments

    AvP_10A few months ago, I got a press release about some new Playstation Home “outfits” available from SEGA. Apparently, for €3 you can get one of these costumes and prance around Playstation Home dressed up as a colonial marine or a predator.

    I want to know who buys this crap. Seriously. Who is it? Obviously, they are the same people who are buying Winnie the Pooh t-shirts for their Xbox Live Avatars.

    The whole concept of Xbox Live Avatars isn’t completely terrible, I guess, but the fact that they are charging real money so I can put some kind of stupid shirt on my avatar… is just bizarre. It almost proves the insane ideal that anything will be bought by someone at some point in time just because there is a price attached.

    If this crap were free would anyone download it? Aye, there’s the rub. This is something I like to think of as “the pet rock phenomenon”. Take something that is pretty much worthless, attach an arbitrarily low price to it, and suddenly it has worth. I guess that sums up this whole Playstation Home business model. It isn’t pure evil (don’t touch it!) or anything, but what happens when the PS3 and Xbox 360 go away? Never gonna happen, you say? Au contraire, mon frere.

    The part of all this that is the most infuriating to me, is that Sony and Microsoft wouldn’t be selling this garbage unless there were enough people buying it to make it profitable. That’s the worst part of this whole thing. This whole stupid, inane, pointless endeavor is actually working. I’ll admit, though, the face that Xbox Live is full of people who buy this crap makes me reconsider even subscribing to the service. Auto-renew: off!

    Maybe that’s me being elitist, but here I am… still subscribed to Xbox Live. So, who buys this crap? Apparently… I do.

  • The Frost Lotus Ultimatum

    Posted on September 1st, 2009 Finster No comments

    drama_queen-360x347I generally enjoy playing WoW.

    That being said, there are a few… issues I’ve been having lately. Yes, it is sometimes annoying to get the “No more instances can be created message” but that doesn’t cause seething hatred in the cockles of my heart. Nor does ganking, nor Death Knights constantly being nerfed, nor even the guy in Vent that turns his speakers up really loud so that whenever anyone else talks you get this annoying echo effect.

    What fills me with rage is drama.

    First, to give you a little background, I’ve recently joined a new raiding guild. The guild I had been in which was pretty much just a group of friends, while fun, was not very diligent as far as keeping to ANY kind of raiding schedule. When Ulduar came out and I was still kicking around in Heroic 5-man purples, I decided to strike out for greener pastures (and better raid schedules.)

    I found the current guild through the WoW forums (I know, I know… but with horrible gear, and very little actual raid experience, I can’t be too choosy, here.) They seemed pretty laid back when I browsed around their forums, and it looked like the kind of place I could join up and not get in too much trouble if I couldn’t make a raid night every once in a while. (Family first, ya know!)

    Well, we’re running our mid-week Ulduar 10-man and we’re clearing out Freya. I vaguely remember there being some in-game chatter about who has herbalism blah blah blah okay let’s go kill stuff. Well, we clear the whole area (because we don’t want to do hard mode, mmkay) and right before we’re getting ready to pull Freya, the Shaman/healer/Guild Master leaves the raid group, immediately disconnects from Vent, and goes offline. Everyone is shocked for a few seconds as we wonder if his connection blew up, or maybe evil Nazi super-scientists teleported him to the black sun dimension, or what. Then, someone in vent says, “If he wants the 3 Frost Lotus, I’ll give it to him. It’s really not that big of a deal.” Wait, what?

    Yeah, so our shaman ragequit over some stupid herbs. Granted, they are somewhat valuable, but enough to actually ragequit over it? Seems a little dramatic to me. At this point, I’m thinking to myself, “No biggie. We’ll just pug another healer and keep going.” Well, that’s when our Resto Druid and a rogue both /gquit. “Wha??”

    They inform us in vent: “Yeah, <GuildMaster> just threatened to /gkick us over this Frost Lotus thing because he says he’s the guild master and doesn’t have to be treated like this. We don’t really want to stick around for this. Bye.”

    At this point I should explain that the core of this guild is a group of IRL friends. The GuildMaster is actually more of an officer, and the real guild master, the guy that organizes raids, determines who can join the guild, grants forum access, is really a great guy, fun to play WoW with and in all respects is pretty cool. If the GuildMaster were actually the guild master, I suspect a large amount of the guild population would’ve been looking for new guilds at this point.

    In the meantime, the raid has ground to a halt, and I’m suddenly NOT getting any closer to getting my Tier 8 gloves. And this is what bugs me. It’s one thing to be pissed about something, and it’s another thing to be pissed about something so inconsequential. It’s entirely another thing to leave people hanging because you want to go have a cry-fest over some stupid herbs. This is playground-level of getting pissed. Buck up, little camper! If losing 3 Frost Lotus is enough to send you into a fit of rage, just wait until your mom kicks you out of the basement.


  • Personal Achievement Unlocked: 20k Gamerscore

    Posted on April 10th, 2009 Finster No comments

    xbox360-achievement-bushshoeAt the end of March I broke the 20k barrier for gamerscore. I know that’s not an impressive feat these days, but personally, I feel like it’s kind of an accomplishment. I’ve had my 360 for about 3 years now!


  • New Video for Star Wars: The Old Republic pisses off Joystiq writer

    Posted on April 8th, 2009 Finster No comments

    Joystiq posted the above video this morning with the following screed:

    Hey Star Wars: The Old Republic, want to know the best way to suck the excitement out of your upcoming space opera MMORPG? Show us a bunch of still pictures not taken from the game, while a guy who sounds like Sam Elliott’s less commanding brother, Denny, tells us a super boring story about galactic diplomacy.

    Seriously, if the video was capped by a young Jack Palance playing a guitar solo while he kills a bunch of guys with a lightsaber (that’s also an electric guitar), it still wouldn’t be enough to wake us from our coma. Can we all agree to leave boring in books, where it belongs?


    Wow. If there were a way for Joystiq to sound less intelligent, I’m not sure what it would be. “Don’t talk about diplomacy and intrigue… I just want more asploding! WAAAAAAAHHHH!!!”

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • I gave up hope on Star Ocean: The Last Hope

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 Finster No comments

    star_ocean_the_last_hope__13_I tried out Star Ocean: The Last Hope a few days and was kind of underwhelmed. I only spent about 30 minutes before getting royally ticked off at the combat system.

    The first combat experience they give you with Star Ocean combat in this iteration of the venerable Squeenix franchise is a battle tutorial that teaches you the various moves that you’ll be able to use throughout the game. The problem is that this combat is NOT indicative of the combat once you actually get into the game.

    I didn’t find this out until I had decided that this combat “isn’t FOR ME” and had pretty much moved onto other things. Later, a friend of mine informed me that the combat is much different than the what the tutorial area would lead me to believe. After watching him play a few combats it was obvious combat wasn’t as horrible as I was expecting.

    In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that I generally prefer turn-based combat to real-time, at least in the scope of Japanese-style RPG’s. Unfortunately for gamers like me, there really hasn’t been a lot of compelling turn-based games in recent history aside from Lost Odyssey.

    So, after seeing how combat REALLY plays out in Star Ocean: TLH, I’ve gotten back into it and actually started playing the story a bit. Based on the demo my friend had given me, which was at about the 10 hour mark, the story does seem truly compelling. We’ll see.

  • The Best News doesn’t come from Journalists

    Posted on March 31st, 2009 Finster No comments has a great summary of the “Video Game Journalism” panel at GDC 2009. Doc’s comments from the video game journalism peanut gallery do a great job of putting these guys and gals in their place.

    Essentially you have N’Gai, Leigh Alexander, Adam Sessler (already this sounds like the setup to a bad joke), Stephen Totillo and “Smartbomb’s” author Heather Chaplin, all of whom competed to use enormous words and poetic verse to out-do each other in ranting the day away about “the industry.”

    I get pretty tired of all of these individuals. I’d really appreciate it if every last one of them would shut their traps and turn off their laptops for a while.

    Although, I think this is the kind of thing that isn’t unique to game journalism. Look at the wide-sweeping failure of journalism in all industries. Newspapers are going bankrupt daily, magazine subscriptions have been dropping for years, and the best TV journalism can do is a half-hour show on Comedy Central.

    Meanwhile, normal people are getting their news from bloggers, podcasters, and twitter. The unwashed masses are getting their news from… the unwashed masses.

  • Starcraft Course Lectures Available Online

    Posted on February 13th, 2009 Finster No comments


    In my line of work (web development) every now and then you get the chance to work on a project that stands above and beyond other endeavors. Recently, I’ve had the chance to help develop

    Academic Earth is kind of a “hulu” for academia. They’ve been gathering OCW (Open Course Ware) videos from all over the web from such places as Yale, Stanford, MIT, etc. One of the institutions that they’ve gleaned some content from is the new Starcraft Studies course at UC Berkeley.

    Having watched this first lecture, it’s obvious that the game of Starcraft has continued to evolve past the doldrums of the dismal “Big Game Hunters” matches that drove me from the game years ago. I was most intrigued by the descriptions of some of the South Korean pros who have been playing a more defensive game, again something that was unheard of in serious play here in the states, many years ago.

    I look forward to seeing more of these lectures and perhaps gaining a deeper understanding of the RTS genre as a whole.

    I’m sure Academic Earth will be updating as the course continues, but while you’re over there check out some of the other lectures.

  • My Biggest Gripe about MMORPG’s and How Blizzard Got It Right

    Posted on January 7th, 2009 Finster No comments


    Listen, I have a variety of gripes about all sorts of things, and when it comes to MMORPG’s sometimes the gripe cup runneth over. If I had to nail down my absolute biggest gripe, though, it would have to be that persistent worlds are sometimes TOO persistent.

    Typically, progressing through an MMO world has little to no effect on the future of that world. When Bob the Orc tells you to kill ten rats, it would be nice if you could see the progress of the town as the rat horde is brought under control. Perhaps there would be more cheese laying around. Whatever. Fact is, when most MMORPG’s are faction based, it would be nice to see the effects of your quest completions and PvP victories.

    Well, that is beginning to happen. Warhammer Online has certainly tried to revolutionize how PvP can affect the game world. Unfortunately, I’ve never been a PvP aficianado. That’s where World of Warcraft and the Wrath of the Lich King expansion’s phasing technology.

    When you go to Argent Vanguard (which is the HQ for the Argent Crusade’s assault on the Lich King’s domain in Icecrown) you start out seeing the outpost completely surrounded by the Lich King’s undead forces. As you progress through the Argent Vanguard quests, the horde of zombies and frost wyrms are eventually pushed back until all that’s left is a field littered with dead dragon corpses and cheering soldiers. Then, you progress further into Icecrown to set up a new outpost. The conclusion of that quest line results in a new town that is accessible. This continues on throughout the Icecrown quests until you’ve unlocked several areas in a region that was originally 100% owned and operated by the Lich King and his minions.

    And this is what I’ve always wanted from an MMORPG. The ability to have your quests actually affect the game world that you’re playing in. This is, in my opinion, the very definition of playing in a “persistent world.” Your actions, as they change the game world, persist even after you log off. The bottom line is that I’ve had more fun galavanting around Northrend than any other MMORPG experience, to date.