Thursday, December 15, 2011

MechWarrior Online

Oh.  My.  Stars.

It was announced back in November that the MechWarrior reboot game would finally, finally, finally be coming out in the near future (summer '12 is the projection).

Back in 2009, videos were leaked and placed on YouTube faster than you can blink for a reboot MechWarrior game.  And it looked amazing.  Unfortunately one of the 'Mechs featured in the video became a point of contention for Harmony Gold the folks that brought Robotech to the USA back in the 80s.  They filed a lawsuit against the developers of MechWarrior Online and the game went into limbo.  However, at some point later the developers for MWO decided to circumvent the main argument that Harmony Gold brought about their 'proprietary 'Mech designs' and made the game free to play much the same way that World of Tanks is free to play.  At this point, the MechWarrior Online website is live and registering future players' call signs/accounts.  You're damn right I got mine set up.

On the blogs, the developers have made references alluding to a projected open beta for the game in the coming months as I mentioned above they appear to be looking for a summer '12 launch date.  I cannot overstate my joy at these circumstances.  I've been a long time BattleTech/MechWarrior fan.  I cut my teeth on MechWarrior 2 and the old BattleTech table top game.  When Microsoft bought the franchise and launched MW3, I was both pleased and excited with the graphical adjustments and the storyline/plot.  MW4 was alright, but seemed to be less a step forward and more a step to the side for the franchise.  I also used to go and play socially at Virtual World back in the day when they had several national locations; and later when various lan gaming locations purchased the piloting pods from Virtual World and ran the upgraded BattleTech:Firestorm.  Not that I'm trying to say that my BattleTech/MechWarrior cred makes me a better person, but I am trying to lay the groundwork to help you understand why I'm so excited about the pending MMO.  And it's free to play!

My youngest brother and I share a lot in common regarding MMOs, and we've played almost all the same ones.  We also share a lot of the same background and enjoyment in BattleTech/MW.  And to be fair, he was the one who informed me about MWO.  So we spent most of today discussing some of the possibilities of the game.  For interested parties the game is set several months before the Clans invade the Inner Sphere and set off years of intense conflict.  As such, all of the 'Mechs players will have access to will be Inner Sphere.  I'm for this for several reasons that I'll list in later posts as I confirm more and better information concerning the game.  It also appears that all 'Mechs will be accessible to all players; there will not be any 'exclusive' 'Mechs - and in my opinion this goes hand in hand with keeping any potential lawsuits off the developers' backs in keeping the game free to play.  Unlike WoT however there will most likely be any tier system for ratings of 'Mechs; they'll most likely keep with the standard rating for 'Mechs: weight class.  At this point, only four 'Mechs have been confirmed for the game: the Warhammer, the Jenner, the Atlas, and the Dragon.  Personally I'm hoping that the Zeus will be included in the game, and I also hope for a pretty good amount of personalization as far as weapon mounting/configuration goes.  That was one of the things that kept MW4 so fun; near endless customization.  In fact, if MWO does allow for (near)complete weapon configuration then I'll be able to implement the same Zeus variant I made in MW4 that went undefeated.  No I will not tell you what was on it.  You want to know?  I'll show you on the battlefield...hopefully...

In addition, it appears that you'll have a pretty good degree of paint/camouflage/skin customization for your 'Mech.  This will be excellent if it makes it to full launch as it will make one of the aspects of gameplay fantastic.  As far as it has been discussed players will have three options of play open to them - Lone Wolf, Mercenary, and House Guard.  We still don't have a lot of information about these, but speculation and conjecture combined with logic would lead me to believe that if you aren't part of a 'guild'/Mercenary company your default mode of play will be Lone Wolf.  I would assume that this will make it easier for Mercs to pick out the players that are without a Company.  I would also make an assumption that any House Guard that a player could sign up with would essentially be an NPC operated guild.  There has also been speculation/discussion that some worlds will only be accessible by certain groups - house guards fight on core worlds while mercs fight on outer rim/contested worlds.

As I said earlier, I'll keep updating with more and better information as I get it.  Until then I'll leave you with this:

PS, if you like that Zeus image, you can find more MW goodies here:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons Online

So I have taken a hiatus from World of Tanks due to the many issues I've brought up over my last few blog entries, and as one of my friends and a fellow GM has been taunting me with the possibility of playing a Pathfinder game at some point after the new year.  And so I started pouring over the core rulebook and thinking about what kind of character I'd like to play.  Suffice to say I've spent many hours using the demo version of the Hero Labs Character Creator.  I love this tool.  Great utilities for character creation, very straight forward with little in the way of issues that required me to look for a solution.  Translation: it's pretty much idiot proof.

Well all this looking at 3.x edition DnD left me feeling...really jazzed to play.  As it's the Holiday Season, it's going to be hard to get any game group together for a game.  So I resorted to the old MMOs.  No, I didn't look at World of Warcraft again.  I did take a look at Dungeons & Dragons Online once again.  A long time ago, I started playing this game back in the beta.  It wasn't that great, however I stuck with it for about three years of subscription play.  And then I grew kind of bored with it.  Now it's several years later, and I made the decision to re-create an account.  I no longer have the old one, I gave it to a friend so he could play along with his kid.  If you haven't noticed, DDO is free to play just like Turbine's other title Lord of the Rings Online.  And just like LotRO, you are able to earn Turbine points through questing.  So, again you don't have to spend your hard earned cash on the TP; you'll just be gaming for a good long while to build up your TP reserves so you can create other race/class combos the free to play players don't normally have access to.

I like the new look and layout of the user interface, the character creation menus, and the introductory quests.  I like how they have refined the lay out of Stormreach (the main city) and how they have restricted access to various locations based on your character level.  Since I've only recently started playing again, I haven't yet encountered any quest/dungeon I can't access due to the face that I'm a free player, or because I haven't spent the TP to purchase access to the dungeon/quest in question.  We'll see whenever that happens one way or another.  Also, I mentioned earlier that it is Holiday time.  I'll try to keep all you loyal fans updated as I'm able, but my girlfriend and I are moving at the end of the month, so I make no promises.  If I don't get back to you in time: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Blessed Yule, E'Yaaah E'Yeeeeh, Vote for Zoidberg, and good night.

Bonzo out.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

World of Tanks - Supplimental

There seems to be a growing trend in the WoT gaming community these last few days (and by 'last few days', I mean week-and-a-half) for players to NOT scout for their team.  I realize that scouting puts you at risk of being shot, but that's all part of the game.

Oftentimes in game I hear players bemoan the existence of SPGs (Self Propelled Guns) aka Artillery in the game.  "Arty is too powerful.  Arty throws off the balance of the game.  Arty sucks.  Wah wah wah."  However, as soon as something really bad happens (the shit hits the fan) players start pinging the minimap like crazy in order to point out to the SPG drivers where the poor bastard who just got killed found the enemy.  And they being to wail and cry and shout out, "Arty!  Where the fuck are you?!  Why didn't you hit that tank before he killed me?!  I know there is only one of you on my team, but you're supposed to watch the whole map and hit any target whether you can see it or not!  You suck!  This is why arty shouldn't be in the game!!!!!!11!!!!!!"

Understand something please; SPGs were in existence during WW2...which is the time period WoT is based upon...and most all of the tanks featured in the game have some historical basis whether the tanks in question were actually developed or only remained drawn up as schematics. So if the developers have spent so much time and effort to code something in to the game in order to provide three distinct methods of play in the game, I advise you to shut the fuck up and enjoy the game.  If you can't handle it, I suggest you go play Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3.

Back to my opening statement.  SPG drivers cannot hit what they cannot see.  If you refuse to spot for arty, you are not utilizing a very strong tool your team possesses.  Getting shot up and killed is part of the game.  It happens; it's not like what happens to you in the game carries over into the real world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So my GM wants to start playing Pathfinder.  Excellent.  For any 3.x DnD gaming, PF is the superior system to anything out there.  I defy you to show me a DnD setting with better fixed rules than what Paizo churned out a few years back. 

The only problem is, he wants to go ahead and finish off the 4e campaign and the Spirit of the Century games that he's got running.  So we may not get into Pathfinder until about this time next year.  Le sigh.

On an off note, I think I'm done tinkering with the look and feel of the ol' blog here.  For now.  Truly.  I mean it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Am Feeling a Bit Out of Sorts

Its been...three or four months since I last had a game night?  I might be exaggerating a bit, but if I am it's not by much.  And my dissatisfaction at having no game night is carrying over into the other games I do play.  World of Tanks has lost a lot of its luster.  League of Legends is no substitute for Warcraft 3: Defense of the Ancients.  Even with Star Trek Online going "free to play"  hasn't done anything to alleviate my gaming melancholy.

Speaking of Star Trek Online, Cryptic has screwed up in a major way with how they are rolling out the "free to play" for STO.  Apparently you can download the game without a problem, but the game is still asking you to subscribe in order to play.  Doesn't that defeat the purpose of going "f2p"?

As far as World of Tanks goes, recently (perhaps a few months ago) had a large patch wherein the developers added a few extra tiers to the light tank track.  These tanks now max out at tier five...and somehow they end up in games against tier ten tanks.  This is not a problem if you are in any tank other than artillery.  There are several issues with the game that all come together at this juncture that have considerably diminished the playability of the game in my opinion.  These new light tanks are the catalyst.  The other parts of the equation come from the driving/turning speed. the reload rate, and the aiming time that higher tier artillery suffer.  Against similarly ranked tanks, these SPGs are balanced quite well.  Against these new light tanks, SPGs stand no chance.  Not only that, but rumors indicate that with the next big patch the developers will change the matchmaker to only allow two SPGs per side per match.  I, for one, love playing in SPGs and these rumored changes along with the new light tanks are seriously reducing my desire to continue playing the game. 

On a side note, the folks at Blizzard are prepping to launch their next expansion in time for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season of 2012 with Pandera.  Finally we'll get to see the homeland of Chen Stormstout.  I do like that if you play as a Panderan, you'll be able to play for either faction.  I still don't know if it's enough to make me want to reactivate my account when it launches.  I'm still itching to get my hands on Diablo 3 and The Secret World.

-Bonzo out.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Am Going Stark Raving Mad

Three consecutive weeks without any gaming.  I beat my head into a wall in frustration.  Refrigerator.

Alright, so it's not a haiku, nor is it anywhere close; but my point stands.

In the mean time, I've been amusing myself with Portal 2 all over again, and I've been working through Dead Space and Dead Space 2.  I actually think that Dead Space was harder and scarier than the sequel.  I have to say though that these games only make me think of Traveller the RPG and how awesome a short campaign the Dead Space games could make.  The first one anyway.

Hopefully we'll have some form of gaming this week.  I'll keep you posted.  You'll know if we don't when you hear me scream 'KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!' ala William Shatner from the Wrath of Khan style.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vader's Got Cookies

I was cleaning up in the kitchen a moment ago, and was remembering some rather entertaining webcomics I've read.  And one particular strip from PvP Online came to mind where the main characters are all sitting around a table getting ready to play Star Wars the tabletop game.  And Francis, the youngest character, was GMing.  He had borrowed his boss' Darth Vader helmet for the purposes of being GM (which I love the thought of) and as the storyline panned out, the helmet got to him; he started to wield the power of a GM as a Jedi turned to the Dark Side would wield his own Jedi powers.

And I suddenly recalled that one of my friends, Fred, has asked me if I were interested in playing Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Well, of course I'm interested in playing SW:TOR.  Hello!?! He mentioned that he and his son have been thinking about asking several of the people they know who play MMOs regualrly if we all want to form a rather sizable guild.  Sounds good so far.  So I asked him, "'Fred', what faction are you planning on playing?"  To which he replied...Republic...


Now don't get me wrong, I've been following SWTOR for a while now, and it looks shiny.  Really, really shiny.

Captain Mal is ALWAYS shiny.

And I like the look of both factions (and as they are MIRROR IMAGES of each other, how could you not?) but if I'm honest with myself; really, really honest...I just wanna be a Sith Lord.  I've been told before, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  Who wouldn't want to be Darth Freaking Vader?!?!  I mean, come on!!! 

This Sith Lord

Not this pansy.

So after some very careful consideration, I started to exercise my own Dark Side powers on Fred's son.  You're damn right I'm working on convincing that kid to join the Dark Side.  Sadly, I didn't have to do much in the way of convincing him, he was most of the way there to begin with. 

It's yet another game I've signed up for the beta and am waiting; but since the official launch date was announced for December 22, I think trying to get into the beta at this point would be kinda pointless.  So there you are.

I saw it best on a t-shirt:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

More In the Way of Good News

So Blizzard, bless their money grubbing souls, have finally, Finally, FINALLY started phasing in players for the closed beta for Diablo 3.

I cannot begin to describe the joy that this gives me.  And a little disappointment as well, since most likely my system is not near good enough for the developers' standards for running a beta...But I remain hopeful that they will do rolling phase-ins for the closed beta before they do an open beta.  So if I miss the closed beta I'll be working extra hard to get in on the open beta.

I encourage you to go to the Diablo 3 website to look at/drool over the screen shots as well as the gameplay videos.  I should add here that Diablo 3 will require an internet connection to play.  From all the most recent information, D3 will work just like SC2 - meaning that you will need to log in to the game via  That being said, I have heard rumors that SC2 will soon allow a form of LAN play.  If I can find any concrete information about that I'll be sure to post it.

In the meantime, here's a kitten.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh Hello. Are You Still There?

Alright, alright.  Don't beat me about the head and face.  I've been absent for quite a while.

In the time between we last spoke and now I've played several card/board games, and a few table-tops games.  And there are a few updates on computer games as well.

Lets start with the more "normal" games.  You know, games that "normal" people are more apt to play. 

There was this card game I played called Seven Dragons.  At least I think it was called Seven Dragons.  It's a game for 2-5 players (I think).  Each player has a dragon assigned to him/her that is a particular color.  The object of the game is to take the cards dealt to you and play a color matching game to get a total of seven matchings of your dragon's color - blue, gold, red, green, and black.  And that is pretty much the game.  There are cards that are dealt out to screw with play of game, by changing the color of your goal, making you switch hands with another player, etc.  Very fun, easy game to play.

Then there is 7 Wonders.  This is a fantastic game, whose praises cannot be sung enough.  My friends, Fred(s), maintain that this is a "gateway" game - meaning that despite it's apparent complexity, the game play is quick enough, easy enough, and fun enough to prompt a "noob board gamer" (you know those kind - the ones that when asked if they want to play a game bust out some crap like Sorry or Life) to becoming a more sophisticated gamer.  They might even try their had at Settlers of Catan or Dominion after playing 7 Wonders a time or two.  As for the game itself, you are building a civilization in one of the ancient wonders of the world.  And there are several paths to glory in this game: economic, militaristic, governmental/artistic, science.  Even your military losses can score victory points for you in this game depending on how/what you play.  Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic.

Also, we played a more beer n' pretzels game called Crappy Birthday.  In this game, you are dealt a hand of cards from the "Gift Deck" that you then spend once per round (unless you are the "Birthday Boy/Girl") by handing off the crappiest gift you can think of for the "Birthday Boy/Girl".  It's kinda fun except that in the group of friends I played this with most of the gifts weren't really that crappy.  They should have had things like "Become a Tour Guide for a Water Treatment Plant for a Month" or some such.  That's pretty crappy.  Oh yeah I went there!  What did you expect?


Alright, now on to some nitty gritty.  I finally got my feet wet with Shadowrun.  This is one hell of a system/world to play in.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about...pause in reading this for a moment after grabbing a No.2 pencil.  Place it between the middle knuckles of your middle and ring fingers of one of your hands - either one, it make no difference.  Now, with your free hand, pinch your fingers together.  That intense pain you've just experienced is because you have no idea what Shadowrun is.  Now go Google it and come back to me.  It's like playing in Blade Runner as...anything...  It's dark, and gritty, and very futuristic noir.  I ran a large group of folks on a one shot of this and good God, it makes me want to play/run another scenario again really really soon.

Also, I am about to start running my game again - pick your jaw up off the floor - and we're running Dark Sun baby! don't know what Dark Sun is?  Alright, go get a No.2 get the picture.  However, we're going to be running 4E as opposed to the old 2E version.  Mostly because I have no concrete idea on how to play 2E.  I have the theory down, but practical application always shows where book knowledge falls short.  No Wizards, no Sorcerers, no Clerics, no Paladins, no Invokers.  Lots of psionic classes.  Lots of wood and bone and leather weapons/armor.  Little to no metal.  Any magic users in the game either despoil the land around them by leeching vitality out of the world and people around him, or they take a little bit of vitality from everything and cast underpowered magics while leaving behind the world to power future magics.  It's a brutal, loveless world - as short on water as it is short on mercy.

You are not prepared.


And now we come to our final section for the catch up post.  Computer games.  For a while, I had stopped playing World of Tanks altogether in lieu of playing Lord of the Rings Online.  As far as Free to Play (or F2P) MMOs go, this is one of the better ones.  As you play you are able to complete achievements that award you with the in game currency (Turbine Points) needed to buy things from the online store; meaning you don't necessarily need to use real money to purchase things from the online store, but if you want to you can.  It's certainly faster than grinding out achievements for Turbine Points.  You can even subscribe to the game as it was when it initially launched, and Turbine will gift you with several different rewards for subscribing.  But it's nothing that you wouldn't be able to get over time as a free player.

However the endless grind was getting to me, and I felt I was getting nowhere fast.  So I went back to WoT.  But, I was recently sent an email from the excellent folks at Funcom - the group that brought us the Age of Conan MMORPG (as MMOs go, I felt it lacked (re)playability but it was visually stunning.  Now I admit I only played the game for a few months and I admit that my issues with the game were a direct result of Funcom's decision to make radical changes to the "standard" user interface - WASD, 1234, etc as far as functionality went) are releasing a new MMO called The Secret World.  This just looks amazing - the graphics look stunning, the play looks great, and the storyline is fantastic.  It breaks down like this: layered atop our world is another; a world full of peril, old gods awakening, true conspiracies, monsters, magic, things that go bump in the night, etc.  And there are three factions that stand between the normals and the monsters - the Dragon, who are based primarily in Asia and focus primarily on using chaos and magic to fight back the tide; the Templars, based in Europe and they focus on exerting order and justice against the darkness; and the Illuminati, based in North America they use whatever means are necessary to keep the darkness at bay, be it through main strength or through blackmail.

Just based on the several gameplay movies on the website, I can say that the game has a definite "Lovecraftian" feel to it.  Which I love.  I cannot wait to find out if I'll be in the beta.  If so, I won't be making any posts about it until it reaches full release.  Kinda standard there I think.  The only other beta test I was involved in was for Tabula Rasa and that game just fizzled because no one cared enough by the time the beta rolled around.  /shrug

Random postings to follow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

World of Tanks

OK.  World of Tanks is pretty fun.  It's only pvp play; just like the Battlefield series of games, there are several maps to choose from, several styles of tank to choose from, and you can form 'guilds'.  I think they call them 'tank brigades' in this game.  So it's fast paced, WW2 style tank action.    As you play, you earn cash, that you spend on upgrades and research for your tanks.  You can make them faster, more heavily armored, bigger/faster guns.  You can train/recruit your computer controlled tank crew.  You can purchase consumables, different types of ammo, and repair your tank (when you get blowed up - and you will).  You can buy bigger/different types of tank.  And the whole time, you get to learn about the benefits of cover, and trying to get the best angle on your target. 

 And I'm enjoying it.  After spending years playing slower paced MMOs, the quick action is a nice change.

I'm still pretty certain that I'm going to be phasing over to RPGs, like Mass Effect (and ME2), and phasing out MMOs.  I guess things just change over time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's March!!

And the first post I have for the month of March comes more than half way through the month!  Yay progress...

Anyway, today's post is brought by an interesting new game that I found just this morning.  It's apparently a free-to-play MMO called World of Tanks.  It appears to be set in WW2 (gauging from the style of tanks) and is essentially a full on melee brawl of mayhem and destruction.  I admit the notion tickles my fancy.  So I went ahead and registered for the beta and am currently (at the time of this posting) downloading the client.

While on the subject of MMOs, It's been about 2 months now since I quite playing WoW cold turkey.  And I have felt no urgings to go back.  I know, I know: "But Bonzo, you've said this before.  World of Warcraft is like the bad girlfriend that you can ever rid yourself of..."  Perhaps you're right.  Perhaps not.  I'm still having quite a lot of fun playing DCUO, but lately I've been feeling the urge to play more RPGs and even...First Person Shooters...

It's been close to a decade since I've played an FPS.  Mostly because I suck at them.  But I've had the desire to blow some sprites to smithereens lately, and a FPS game will let me do that.  So will some RPGs.  And there are some games that crossover between them, like Fallout and Mass Effect, and Portal.  All of which have been recommended to me.  So I'll probably end up downloading Steam in the next few weeks and try them out. 

Now, back to the WoT (World of Tanks).  No grinding for XP, check.  No endless questing, check.  Lots of explosions, check.  It sounds pretty fun.  I'll check back with you all in a few days


On another note, we finally (FINALLY) started playing our 4e game again.  Three months with no table-top gaming was really, really, REALLY starting to make me twitchy.  You don;t notice how much you miss something until its gone and you start to get the notion that you can't get it back.  But now that we're playing again I can start to relax and get back into the swing of things.  So to speak. 

Also, in table-top news - today I start the actual campaign for my CthulhuTech game.  We've had two sessions so far on character creation, and everyone has done a bang up job on coming up with characters.  Some of my players have even gone so far as to come up with background information that has been censored by the NEG Intelligence Corps.  Lots of black censor bars of lines of text.  It brings a tear to the eyes.  Of course, this is still a Cthulhu universe at the end of the day...their characters will all go mad and die.  Those are the breaks.

-Bonzo out.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Final Thoughts for February

So recently Champions Online went "Free to Play".  Typically this is the "kiss of death" for most MMOs; so I didn't hold out much hope for what I would see if I re-installed and started playing again for comparison with DCUO.

So I did.  With the "free to play" you have only two character slots, limited character build options, limited content, and limited support.  Fairly standard when a game goes from subscription to free.  And to be honest, I feel that while Champions Online character is really really nice, and the DCUO character builder should have a lot more options in regard to character creation, Champions Online still falls short as far as fun and playability.  Being a "superhero" game should be about action.  Sadly, Champions Online felt sluggish and boring compared to DCUO.  In the starter area with Champions, I was able to defeat enemies in two to three attacks; in the DCUO starting area, it was very much possible for me to get "knocked out" aka "killed" by my targets.  Which oddly is a nice feeling; saying to the player "yes, you're a superhero, but you're fighting super villains and they only get tougher from here".

In short, Champions Online still looks like you're playing a game that is created straight from the pages of a comic book; the character creation is still top notch, and the story line is very open ended.  However I feel that the product that DC/Warner/Sony put out is superior in regard to gameplay, and replayability (especially since you can play as a hero or villain on either a PvE or PvP server) and overall fun factor.  I still have some issues with both games, but if I can only choose one superhero styled MMO, it'll be DC Universe Online.

But Champions Online is still better than City of Heroes/Villains/Going Rogue.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

DC Universe the Third

So I'm taking a break from playing tonight, and I'll use the time to talk a bit more about DCUO and hopefully it won't end up being as disjointed as my game reviews typically are.

Let's start with character creation.  The character generator in DCUO is not as involved as most other superhero MMOs, like City of Heroes/Villains, Champions Online, Freedom Force, or any others I might be missing*.

You start with gender and size.  Then you advance to an optional step - the 'Inspired By' section.  You can make a super hero/villain based off of some of the more iconic heroes/villains from the DC universe.  If you choose to do this, you'll move directly to 'GO' and go to the 'make adjustments/finish character' page.  The heroes/villains that you can choose from are: Bane, Catwoman, Joker, Mister Freeze, Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Beast Boy, Steel, Flash, and Martian Manhunter.  You will automatically be loaded out with a powerset, weapons, travel power, morality, and outfit that match your inspiration.  Should you skip the optional step, you get to customize your character starting with your powerset: fire, ice, nature, mental, sorcery, and gadgets.  Then you pick movement: flight, super speed, and acrobatics. Followed by weapon style: one-hand weapons, hand blasts, bow, brawling, dual pistols, dual wielding, martial arts, rifle, staff, and two-handed weapon.  Finally you advance to morality (hero or villain), personality (your stance when not moving), and your mentor/origin.  After doing all of this work you move on to customizing your appearance (hair, skin, gear, and the coloration).  Finally choose a name and get started.  I'll also note here, that Warner Brothers/DC/Sony did themselves a favor with character creation and made it easier for players to copy the iconic super heroes/villains that they are going to end up copying anyway.  In fact this game encourages it!  Re-read the above paragraph for confirmation.

It seems like a lot, and I have not gone in to any detail regarding what the powersets actually do, how the weapon styles work, or options for your appearance.  But trust me, this is possibly the most bare bones character creator for a superhero MMO.

Alright, now lets move on to some gameplay.  One of the first things I noticed upon starting the game, was how the controls (movement, attacks, the camera) are different from a 'standard' MMO.  Your camera is not glued to your back.  If you turn around using the WASD movement keys, you have a very good probability of seeing the front of your character.  In addition, your mouse is always on 'mouselook' (except when you open your menus).  In a more traditional MMO, you control your camera with the mouse buttons, and steer with your keyboard.  Not the case here.  I should mention at this point that you use your mouse buttons for attacks - that's it.  Left click is for melee attacks, and right click is for ranged attacks.  After a little probing I discovered why the controls/keybinds are set up the way they are - this game dual released for the PC and the PS3.  So the developers set the game up to operate from a console controller as well as keyboard/mouse input.

Also, unlike traditional MMOs, when you pick up and equip gear, you can adjust your costume on the fly after equipping new equipment.  For example my 'Batman' hero has retained his original costume except for his gloves and boots.  Equipment comes from different sets and each set provides a different appearance item for item; so you can really trick out what your character looks like.  I've seen very very few characters who look the same.

The game itself moves very fluidly.  The graphics are very pretty and the world is pretty seamless.  The two main cities are huge, and are differentiated by subtly changing suburbs.  But fear not!  The main storyline, and all of the minor sub-plots provide real crunch to the game, making each new endeavor feel, well, new.  City of Heroes/Villains is probably the worst offender when it comes to every aspect of the game appearing to be a cookie cut-out of the element before it.  Each mentor gives you missions that revolve around their 'rogues gallery'.  However, just because you have one particular mentor, doesn't mean that you are banned from accepting missions from other mentors.  In fact I've found it incredibly beneficial to move back and fourth between Gotham and Metropolis doing missions for Batman and Superman/Wonder Woman.  I can advance my level past the 'recommended level' for the mission so I have a reduced chance of getting knocked out (aka. dead) by goons - because they love to swarm you.

Missions start small and finish big.  Starting in Gotham, I was immediately set on the trail of the Scarecrow.  I began by taking out his goons, then moving up to getting samples of his newest fear gas, then busting up the fear gas dispensers, and eventually culminating with taking the villain down in the sewers of Gotham.  The missions update without you needing to go back to the quest giver (thanks Oracle!) and automatically adjust the difficulty of 'dungeons' (where you fight the main bad guy) depending upon the total size of your party.  Also, there are 'wanted posters' that you can get missions from to hunt down random heroes/villains - like Solomon Grundy.  And the wanted poster missions are hard.  Really really really hard. You cannot solo them.  Period.  Which is kinda awesome. 

There are a number of 'Easter eggs' in the game.  Collectible clues/news updates bits of storyline fluff that just add to the fun factor for doing exploration.  And upon completing a series of these you gain achievements.  Hell you gain achievements for damn near anything.  But I can't really complain about that, because every time I complete an achievement I get a little boost to my ego, and I want to go dig up more clues, news updates, etc.

Overall, I've very satisfied with this game.  The graphics, gameplay, lack of repetitive feel, being able to solo 99% of the game, the voice acting, and overall fun factor.  It's just damn fun to play.  I think this weekend I'll start leveling a villain, so I have something to compare my hero experience with.

And I'll leave with this parting tidbit.  If you start playing this game, after completing a mission arc, you get to see a little 'cut scene'.  It's animated...kind of.  The cut scenes are done in a comic book style with panels.  And they are just fantastic to watch.  Don't skip through them, do yourself the favor and just watch and enjoy them.

-Bonzo out

*There are relatively few superhero MMOs out there.  Damn few; they just don't seem to last.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

DC Universe Online - Update

OK, so I did get the game.  And I have to say that I am impressed, and that it is pretty fun.  Here's just a quick overview.  I don't want to spend a lot of time on this as it's cutting into my DCU time. 

Since the game is no longer in the beta, a few things (like the voice acting) have been tightened up, and it's very well done.  Batman and The Joker (Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil) steal the show as far as voice acting goes, but I'm sure that comes as no surprise.  The game does not handle like a 'true' MMO.  It's designed to be played on the PS3 as well as PC, so the GUI works like a console GUI.  And oddly, this does not bother me.  The only thing that bothers me is that all attacks are made with the mouse buttons (left and right) and a combination of clicks and holds determines what attack(s) you perform.  What annoys me about this, is that I have a really loud mouse.  The 'button mashing' of the mouse makes this feel like an arcade game for me. 

The character generator is just fun to play with.  Sony and DC did themselves a favor in making this game by accepting the fact that players are going to mimic their favorite (or possibly most obscure) comic superhero/villain just like players do in every other superhero MMO out there, by allowing players to generate characters themed after three main heroes and villains: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman; The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Circe. 

I like the powers, and attacks that are offered, but I have yet to try them all out yet.  I really like the settings, and this superhero MMO has cities that are huge like actual cities are.  Gotham and Metropolis are enormous.  And gorgeous to boot. 

Right now, I'm leveling a hero who is mentored by Batman; he has Martial Arts as an attack power, Gadgets for his control power, and his 'travel power' is Acrobatics (which is the best travel power in the game IMO).

More later, game now.

-Bonzo out

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

DC Universe Online

Alright.  It looks amazing.  Really really amazing.  There are some gameplay videos I've been watching on the Youtubes of some cat running a character up to level 30.  The graphics are simply stunning.  I have yet to see any MMO come out with graphics that top what DCUO has.  The sound quality is very good; so good in fact that on particular 'Cases' (read: Quests) you have to find an invisible villain, and he's best located by listening to his taunting.  The closer you get the louder his voice is, and you can tell whether he's in front, behind, or to either side of you.  Really nice directional audio.  I'm probably going to get this game in another week or two to try it out.  The only bad thing I've encountered so far (from the videos) is that the game has some very poor voice acting on the part of the NPCs and some of the more main characters.  From what I've read, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil are reprising their roles as Batman and The Joker from the Animated Series.  James Marsters is supposed to be voicing Lex Luthor; Adam Baldwin ala Firefly is the voice of Superman; Gina Torres (also from Firefly) is the voice of Wonder Woman; and Circe will be voiced by Michelle Forbes whom you may know from such shows as Battlestar Galactica, and True Blood, as well as voice acting in Half Life 2.

And now for some table top updates...kinda of.

I'm looking at picking up a few new titles.  Like The Dresden Files RPG, and hopefully Star Wars, the Saga Edition (which is supposedly the 'first glimpse' of 4E from Wizards of the Coast.  Both of these settings get my creative juices flowing, and I have come to the sad, sad conclusion that in order for me to be able to afford to indulge in my hobby as much as I would like, I need to become a professional GM and hire out my GMing services...either that or I need to brush up on my writing skills and write adventures/modules and sell them.

Alas for not enough time to game.

-Bonzo out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wizards of the Coast, Character Builder

Alrighty.  Some of you out there in the internet land might have a subscription to the D&D Insider.  And if so, you might have had access to the old Character Builder.  Fantastic piece of software in my opinion as a player and GM.  It loaded up all of the current data and errata from the WotC D&D 4E database - which included all of the current books, like the Player's Handbook, and the Dungeon Master's Guide, as well as errata from the now WotC published Dragon Magazine*.  So it provided tons and tons of information for players/GMs to get their hands on even if they didn't actually own all of the source books the builder had on file.

Unfortunately a few months ago, Wizards decided that they no longer wanted to have an offline version of their character builder, and so they started work on a new version that you can only access through their website.  It runs on Microsoft's Silverlight....and its a big pile of stinking poo! It's slow, and not user friendly.  Just don't use it.  Do yourself the favor.

It's actually because of Dark Sun that this entire post came about.  I got bit by the gaming bug.  We haven't had a game since before Christmas, and I'm starting to get itchy.  So I went to the shelves of source books, and the Dark Sun Campaign Setting jumped off the shelf and I was forced to defend myself by opening it's cover and reading it's contents.  Truly a tale of woe.


It was after reading through the book, about the third or fourth time that I got the hankering to actually use the character builder to make a Dark Sun character.  So I logged in to the WotC site and loaded up the online builder, and went to town.  And I found that I was wholly dissatisfied with the result.  It was a miracle from up on high that happened this past week, when one of my friends and also my GM, Fred, sent me a link to a forum where they are keeping the offline character builder alive with all the current data/errata.  Its called Enemy of Fun.  I joined the forum, and found the information I was looking for to make my old, unused offline character builder, the lean mean monster killing machine it used to be.  Maybe that was a little over the top.  Maybe.  After a bit a tinkering, and getting help from Fred, I was able to get the offline character builder to use all the Dark Sun data, and I started churning out sample characters - various race/class combinations at different levels, with different Dark Sun character templates.  Oh what a joy to be using the offline character builder again!  If you're at all keen on using your offline builder (if you have it) go to the forum.  Get the downloads you want/need.  Make your offline builder work for you again. 

Bonzo out.

*I think I mentioned last year in a post about how WotC pulled the plug on Paizo Publishing producing all of the magazines for Wizards.  Wizards decided to do everything in house, and Paizo went on to make Pathfinder, etc., etc.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quick Post #2

My laptop, which has my entire RPG book library (like 8 or 9 gigs worth of game books), is dying the slow death.  So I've been looking into getting a replacement.  Specifically at a tablet pc.  Why a tablet pc?  Because they're light, thin, and I can read my rpg books in bed without having the physical (and often heavy) book settled on my chest.  And tablet pcs are kinda cool. 

Don't judge me.

Hopefully I'll be getting the tablet pc I desire in another month or two...if the laptop I have will hold out that long.

This is Jeopardy!

Quick post.

First, my girlfriend's friend knit me a small, Cthulhu dice bag that I plan on putting my Cthulhu Dice in.  Cthulhu Dice is an awesome little dice game with only one die, wherein all the players are playing cultists who are trying to screw each other over in the vain hopes that they will be the only player with any sanity (signified with small colored glass counters) left in the game.  Its pretty fast moving, insanely fun (see what I did there?) and yes it is possible for Cthulhu to win the game and for all the players to go insane and lose.

Second, we bought Jeopardy! for the Wii last weekend and we finally busted it out today.  Its pretty damn fun.  We played two games, and we each won one.  It only supports three players, just like real Jeopardy, and it allows you to customize your appearance with items you unlock by winning the minigames which take place between the three rounds of play.  It has four levels of difficulty of play: easy, medium, hard, and custom; and you're able to play with a computer player if you only have one or two players.

Its really fun.  I mean really, really fun.  If you like trivia, and enjoy watching/playing along with Jeopardy! when it comes on TV, get this game.  And enjoy it when you get totally owned by your girlfriend.  Seriously, she stomped my ass in that first game.

Bonzo out!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back from the dead

So after an incredibly long hiatus, I'm back!  Hopefully with months and months of content to keep me going without "going dark" again for quite some time.

First of all, Happy Damn New Year!

Second, I'm either sick, or my allergies have exploded, so my posting today will be brief.

Now, in  2010 I attended GenCon in Indianapolis and had a pretty good time.  I got to play a number of really fun boardgames, card games, and a few DnD modules.  A fun time was had by all.

Three games specifically came home from the 'Con with me: Rowboat (a card game similar to playing Spades), Bump in the Night (where you play as the ghosts/monsters haunting a house and your goal is to kill the children), and Telesrations (a combination of the telephone game and Pictionary).

All of these are so fun to play, but Telestrations takes the cake as far as party games go. 

In the past few months, I've enjoyed some more DnD products.  Namely DnD Dark Sun which I play tested at the DnD Worldwide Gameday.  Dark Sun is bad-ass.  It must be played.  MUST. BE. PLAYED.

Now a quick aside concerning DnD; about two months ago I was invited to play in a mid-level DnD campaign with some...folks...I know.  Anonymity, I maintain it.  Unfortunately, this game lacked anything resembling a plot.  All it was, was a series of one large combat after another.  Which is fine if you're wanting to see what your class can do at higher levels, but I love storyline.  So I've elected to withdraw from that particular game. 

In a few weeks I'll look to start up a CthulhuTech game; we'll see how it all goes down.  Details to come.

Need more meds and a hot shower.

-Bonzo out.