Dreaming of a new Star Wars MMO future

I had a dream the other night of a new kind of Star Wars MMO. I wanna share the ideas from it here. Imagine a new kind of Star Was MMO with:

– higher graphics detail and art style like Guild Wars 2
– action combat like a mix of GW2, DCUO, Wildstar, and/or an improved/tweaked version of STO’s shooter mode
– simple but intuitive space combat for fighters like the videos seen of No Man’s Sky with optional capital ship combat like STO (Okay, I admit I haven’t played many space fighter sim games so any suggestions would be welcome)
– Inventory system similar to GW2
– resource gathering with features like GW2
– simple yet detailed crafting like a cross of GW2 and ESO
– an upgrade system like a cross of Champions Online and SWTOR
– player housing/communities like a mix of Wildstar, Shadowbane, SWG, and Rift
– involved personal stories like GW2 and SWTOR but with more depth, even in character creation
– built in Roleplayer tools like the WoW addon mod Total RP 2 (http://www.curse.com/addons/wow/totalrp2)
– Character appearance options like DCUO & GW2

What do you guys think? Would this make for an interesting Star Wars gaming experience?

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Multiplayer Gaming vs. Social Anxieties – Am I losing?

2014-06-16_00046I think I figured out why it’s so hard for me to find a guild in MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games. I don’t deal well with strangers. Okay, I admit – I’m scared of people I don’t know. I’ve been taken advantage of, used, misled, lied to, abused, and mistreated a lot over the years and I’ve realised lately that I’m just terrified of people I don’t know, especially in real life.

It’s something I’m working on, but it’ll take a while. It’s not that other people don’t go through that or that I can’t learn to cope with it and get over it; I just have yet to learn how to do that, and things keep happening or obligations keep getting dumped in my lap that prevent me from doing what I need to do to cope and get over it, so now I just am too scared of people I don’t know and afraid everyone who is nice to me is just putting on a mask.

Add onto that the fact I have Asperger’s Syndrome and my related need for consistency. I can’t handle PUGs (for those not in the know, PUG = Pick Up Group; essentially it’s creating a group or team with random strangers also playing the same game and mission/quest that you are doing) because the people I’m playing with keep changing when I just join PUGs, which makes the gameplay environment I play in constantly different. I need more consistency. I need people I can game with regularly, who’s interactions I know and am used to.

It doesn’t help when so many assholes (like the dipsh*ts I found in the Neverwinter community) make up so much of the player base of these games I love to play. After all the crap I’ve had done to me that I never dealt with, I just have become automatically distrustful of people by default, both face to face and IRL. I’ve stopped playing Neverwinter entirely now because I got too angry at the destructive greed of the community and just feel it’s not worth it to be dealing with jackasses like that; I’ve moved on back to Guild Wars 2 and some Single Player/Co-Op games I never got around to finishing.

2014-06-12_00002Games are a pretty personal experience for me, and co-op is, in a way, a kind of personally intimate thing. I’m sharing with someone something that is a deep, personal passion of mine. If I ask to play a game with you, it means you are really important to me. Gaming together reveals aspects of who we are that we don’t see otherwise; we reveal little subtle truths of ourselves when we game that we all too easily hide elsewhere.

Any of the guilds I’ve been in have been pretty much made up of 95% or more people I don’t know, never met, and have never talked to. I just am very uncomfortable gaming with strangers these days. I need to get to know a person a bit before I can become comfortable gaming with that person. I need to be able to spend time just chatting and getting to know the kind of person they are, before I trust them enough to game with them.

A lot of people game just for the sake of gaming, it doesn’t make any difference to them who they game with as long as the other people play their role properly and aren’t dicks. But I just can’t do that. I need more. Gaming is not just a pastime for me, it’s a passion. People don’t realize how much they let their masks down and reveal their core when they game. I need to game with people I get along with, and can game consistently with. Most people have had friends like that they’ve known for years by the time they are my age; I don’t really have that and I just have no clue where to find it or how to build it.

Neverwinter – Community Forum Mod abusing his authority!! Who watches the watchers?!

Since I’ve been unable to find any other way to contact Cryptic about community moderators abusing their authority besides submitting a support question ticket (which you better believe I have already done, BTW), I’m posting here to rant because video game Community Moderators should NOT have the right to bully, ignore, or abuse members of the game community in any way without repercussions!! I have tried posting a legitimate bug report thread twice about the glitch in the AD Exchange. Here’s the most recent post I had made:

ss (2014-06-16 at 04.26.44)

ss (2014-06-16 at 04.34.00)Once again, after posting this, I got a flood of asshole trolls yelling at me that it’s just a crappy economy and totally oblivious to the glitch, AND my refusal to discuss anything but the glitch. Before I could post any replies, though, Community Moderator lewstelamon01 has locked the thread without actually dealing with it!! No discussion, no real information, just “it’s WAI” and the thread is locked. And this was the second time he did that! Excuse me,  lewstelamon01but I’m calling you on your bullshit:

  • why are you ignoring the glitch I post about initially and just lazily blaming it on the economy instead of investigating or discussing it properly?
  • why are you locking the thread without even dealing with the bug itself or actually discussing it like an intelligent and professional Moderator that you are supposed to be?
  • why are you encouraging others to continue harassing me by waiting until half a dozen other forum users have attacked my threads then locking it before any actual discussion about the bug itself can be made?
  • why are you making sure I cannot discuss the bug itself with you and then forcing me to open new threads to actually discuss the issue *that is still not being dealt with?*

To Community Moderator lewstelamon01: if you can’t talk to me about the problem like a human being, then find someone else who will. I’ve already sent a direct message to Cryptic’s support department specifically about your abusing your authority as you have been today. You’re a Community Moderator; stop acting like a dictator and stop ignoring the issue I posted about. Telling me it’s “WAI” doesn’t tell me anything, and it doesn’t mean the discussion is over or that the problem is solved; locking the thread to keep me from saying more about it is a serious abuse of your authority as a community moderator. If you want to tell me I’m being rude to other forum members that are harassing and trolling me and for me to stop, fine; but that’s a totally different discussion and is no reason to close a thread on a legitimate bug report. No, it isn’t just an economic issue! Yes, it is a bug! And closing the thread without any actual discussion is a blatant abuse of your role and your authority!!!

EDIT: I’ve had people tell me I’m just plain wrong, and I’ll tell you right now why I’m gonna tell them they are full of shit. In a game with as huge a player base as Neverwinter, there is absolutely no way at all that not even a single one of those thousands of players would be selling Zen. If no one at all is selling Zen, there’s a huge, major malfunction in the system; either the game is buggy and just not displaying Zen sellers, or the community is fucked and all those people with Zen to sell are douchebag assholes. Both are malfunctions of the game, though just different kinds. Either way, I’m write and there’s a God damn malfunction that HAS to be fixed instead of ignored and brushed off. This also does not condone the bullshit from that moderator whatsoever.

So if you’re going to presume to tell me I’m wrong and tell me to just keep quiet, you can shut the hell up because fuck you; you’re the one who’s wrong.

RAGE – The darker, grumpier cousin of Borderlands

Logo 01I snagged myself RAGE for $5 on a Steam sale a couple weeks ago or so. I’d heard some mediocre reports about it, but one buddy enjoyed it and recommended getting it, at least if it ever came on sale. So I snagged it and installed it. And for 3 days straight it crashed the moment it started. Talk about truth in advertising; the crash bug gave me massive NerdRage. Nothing worked! I tried everything, from re-installing the game to updating the drivers. On the fourth day, it just suddenly worked fine. No idea why, it just did. I’m just glad I could finally play the game, and it really was worth grabbing.

2013-11-27_00025The game has an interesting opening premise, one I actually liked for the most part. The premise of arcs and survivors of an extinction-level event is definitely interesting. The initial cut-scene was well done, and the graphics throughout the whole game are impressive. Gameplay, I must admit, is nothing terribly new or innovative, but still fun and very solid. I think this game got a bit of a mediocre reception purely because it stuck to tried and true gameplay rather than trying to break boundaries by doing something new and unique, but a game doesn’t have to push the industry forward or advance tech in order to be fun and worth buying. RAGE is definitely fun and worth buying. It has a lot of similarities to the Borderlands games in some ways, but some major differences as well. Where Borderlands went with a cell-shaded, colourful, somewhat cartoon style, RAGE went with more grit and realism. Where Borderlands 2 went with upgradeable skill trees, RAGE went with craftable consumables. Where Borderlands 2 went with a bazillion different guns, RAGE went with a set number each with 2 or 3 ammo types.

2013-12-08_00004Honestly, I like some of the directions they went with gameplay. One thing that was, to me, both very cool and very annoying about Borderlands was the variety of weapons while at the same time the limit of weapons you could carry. The variety of guns the game can create is daunting, and can sometimes be overwhelming trying to figure out what to keep and what to store in the vault and what to sell. RAGE doesn’t have that issue; you’ve got a much smaller number of weapons, and can pretty much access them all at any time. To make it feel like there’s more weapons than that, each has multiple ammo types that can be used. The only weapon that is a bit of a pain to swap ammo types with is the nailgun added in the DLC; it doesn’t have a default key that it’s bound to like the other weapons do, so the only way to swap ammo types is to open the weapons menu and manually equip the other ammo types. At least doing this pauses the game, so you don’t have to worry about being pummeled while you do that.

2013-11-27_00018I personally think the vehicles in RAGE are far better than Borderlands 2, and I much prefer their control scheme. Vehicles can be upgraded and tweaked with better parts and weapons, and the races are a nice touch. Personally, I’m not that great at racing games in general, but I don’t mind the ones in RAGE that much.I’m still getting the hang of drifting and using the hand break, but it’s coming along. The vehicles of the Borderlands games are nice, but not at all very customizeable; the most you can do is chose between 2 secondary weapons and various paint jobs. In RAGE, you can tweak the engines, the tires, the boost, etc. They also have more than just 2 vehicles to choose from. Now, here’s where one of my few gripes comes in. I like upgrading my rides in this game and I like driving around, but I’m not a huge fan of some of the race types. Unfortunately, you can’t go back and re-race anything you’ve already finished, and a lot of vehicle upgrades are only available with racing tickets that are given as prizes for the races. The only other way to get those tickets is killing bandit vehicles, which does not earn you much per kill, so that route will take a long time.

2013-11-27_000122013-11-27_00014The characters are…. definitely interesting. I actually like the design of the majority of the female characters around the towns, they’re neither voluptuous nor skinny supermodels. All the character models are very detailed, and the voice acting is pretty well done as well. John Goodman makes a cameo appearance at the start of the game, giving you a few of your first missions and weapons. I like how the voice actors say things clearly and somewhat slowly, without sounding like they’re purposefully trying to say them slowly; a lot of games have that, and it annoys me when they sound like they’re trying too hard to speak slowly

I haven’t gotten to check out the multiplier yet, mostly because I don’t know anyone with a (official) copy that would be willing to give it a run-through with me, so I’ll have to update here with my impressions of that when I get a chance to give it a go. What I’ve read about it, though, doesn’t really thrill me so far. This game would be incredible with co-op features, but it looks like there’s none to be had. What little multiplayer there is does seem kinda fun, though, so I’m interested in giving it a try.

All in all, I’m definitely enjoying RAGE, and definitely feel it’s a great game worth having in my collection. I’m hoping more DLC is made, especially if they can add some classic multiplayer options and perhaps even a co-op expansion.

2013-12-02_00024

Nintendo 3DS – New joys, old gripes

Recently, I finally got my hands on a Nintendo DS – a 3DS XL, to be specific. I’ve wanted to fool around with one of these bad boys for a long time now, though I was not sure about the whole 3D effect thing. I’m playing Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time 3D and Pokemon Y on it, and I gotta say I’m loving it. (cue cheesy McDonald’s music.) Ocarina of Time 3D us as awesome as the original, and better. The texture and modeling improvements are beautiful. It brings back memories… Not the happy memories of playing it on the N64 that you might expect, though.

When the game first came out on the N64, my twin brother and I shared an N64 system that my mom had gotten us. My brother had somehow been given the game AND a strategy guide, and though they were his, he was told to share with me sometimes and let me play. Well, his idea of letting me play was to bully me into reading out of the strategy guide for him when he wanted me to, and otherwise just sitting there watching him play. If mom needed help with something or I had chores, I was SOL; he kept playing, and I’d miss huge chunks of the story, and I was never allowed to play it myself.

Well, after all these years, I finally get to play it myself, and it really was worth the wait. This game was what really made the Zelda series something I could be passionate about. The story, the characters, the puzzles, they’re beautiful. Being able to play it in 3D is just badass, though it’s honestly tough for me to find and keep just the right position of the 3DS to get the 3D effect to stay clear. Honestly, though, I couldn’t care less; IT’S F’ING ZELDA!

“Dafuq did you just give me, bish!?!?!”

There’s a couple things that are a bit confusing to me, design-wise. When they updated the texture art for Link’s face, the one they chose to use whenever he receives a new important item just seems… Out of place. I have to wonder if Link has Asperger’s (before you jump down my throat, I have Asperger’s so I know for a fact that body language and facial expressions I make can be a little off and not what people think they should mean). He jsut seems more disturbed than intrigued. Maybe I’m just reading the facial expression wrong.

I hadn’t previously understood why so many people complained about Navi talking so much that it became annoying; when I played through the Deku Tree dungeon at the start of the game, she didn’t seem to be overly excessive in her notifications. Then I got into the main world of Hyrule, and began my quest to search for the sacred stones. And that’s when the little bitch wouldn’t shut up.

I totally see how it gets old very, very, VERY fast. And it’s rarely anything new or useful. For example, I’ve just arrived at the Zora Kingdom and am supposed to meet with the King of the Zora people. When I first arrived, Navi suggested I ask Seria knew anything about the sacred stones… Then proceed to make the same suggestion over and over and over every 5 or 6 seconds. Then, once we got to the King, I tried talking to him but he just moans that he doesn’t know where his daughter is. Navi popped up with a brilliant deduction – that he’s upset about his daughter being missing. Then proceeded to say that and ONLY that every few seconds as I tried to figure out why I can’t get him to say anything else and where I need to go to start looking for his daughter. “Hey!” “Hey!” “Listen!” “Hey!” “Listen!”

Suffice to say, it’s getting old fast.

Pokemon Y is the first Pokemon game I’ve gotten to play since LeafGreen, and it’s fantastic so far. Honestly, I wanted X, but that was purely because dammit I like blue. But X was selling more when I asked the staff at EB Games, and there was a cheap used copy of Y, so I went for it. There’s some things I’m liking much better than previous versions of the games, especially the new more 3D world, even without the 3D feature of the system turned on. The redesign of the basic aesthetic to something more akin to Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Colosseum is beautiful. Which reminds me: Nintendo, PLEASE remake both those games for the 3DS! The addition of roller skates to make traveling in the early areas before getting a bike is wonderful. The story revolving around the new Mega Evolution is interesting, though the primary antagonists seem… Well… Seems their goal is to get rid of anything in the world that doesn’t have style or isn’t beautiful. Which explains why brains wasn’t one of the job requirements.

Another thing I gotta honestly admit is how many times I’ll be wandering around and a wild Pokemon will attack… and all I can do is look at this thing and ask myself, “Dafuq is that?!” I honestly don’t know what they were thinking with some of these designs. But hey, it’ Pokemon; they aren’t supposed to make sense.

Now, this brings me to one gripe I have about both these games, and it’s a gripe I have about most games. Player’s guides. Or, rather, lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, I love that these games are so complex and detailed with so much content. But it’d be just nicer if there were options to buy the game already with the player’s guide, and releasing a game without a player’s guide available is just ever so slightly masochistic, in my mind. I especially think more collector’s editions of games should include the official strategy guide in those collections. The three things I think should be a standard in all collector’s editions of any video games:

  1. Official soundtrack,
  2. Official art book, and
  3. Official strategy guide book in at least paperback if not hardcover.

Now, I’m not saying we all need strategy guides; but a lot of us do, and even if it means paying a bit extra I’d rather be able to purchase the game and guide as a set or package together. Especially for RPG games, like Pokemon or Legend of Zelda. Honestly, online walkthroughs just aren’t the same. Especially for PC games; not everyone can be reading the guide on a website at the same time they’re actually playing the game. And, honestly, sometimes it’s nice to be able to just flip through the guide and read little tidbits of extra lore and info and artwork without being on the computer or an electronic device. Heck, some games I’d like the guides broken up into sets of smaller ones; games like Skyrim. Which reminds me of another thing about guides; I would like to see a lot of them made just a little smaller in size; they’re tall and wide, which I admit looks great in the interior layouts, but it’s a bit unwieldy to carry around.

All in all, I recommend both these games, and am definitely open to suggestions of other games to try out on my 3DS. Also, if you’re interested in exchanging DS friend codes, give me a shout; I’d enjoy more people to connect with on there 🙂

Remember Me – More forgettable than promised.

I just finished playing Remember Me. I’d heard a lot of really great things about the story and the gameplay and combat, so I was stoked and ready to be blown away. I gotta say, now I’ve finally completed my first run-through, I could only say one thing…

WTF was that crap?

I have to say, I’ve never been more disappointed with a AAA game that I had been that excited to play. WARNING: There might be spoilers to the story. Read ahead at your own risk.

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Why do I play – Finding the Hero

A great game overall, still a few minor insignificant bugs, but somehow just feels more frustrating to me than fun. Couldn’t figure out why until…

I play a lot of games. In the last year especially, I’ve tried to get my hands on and play a lot more games than I have in the past. I’ve also struggled with depression and with my severe OCD and other things. In the last few days, I’ve especially been very depressed about my future, work and school specifically. At the same time, I splurged and got myself State of Decay for both Xbox Live Arcade and Steam PC. It’s really a great game, though I do disagree with some of the mechanics. One of which is you don’t make your own character; you play as a survivor with his own personality and back story, and then as you rescue more survivors each with their own personalities and back stories, you can switch off and play as them, too. Once a survivor dies, though, they’re gone permanently. There’s no re-loading a previous save and trying again, they’re just gone. You literally play as almost the entire community of survivors, give or take, and even though each one has their own personality and story, the game is brutal enough that I sometimes wondered if J.R.R. Martin was one of the writers of this game; every time I started to get attached to a survivor, they died horribly.

The upgrading system for melee weapons in this game is impressive and well implemented.

I had also played some of Dead Island recently, too. Another amazingly well made game. The premise is simple, yet effective, and the weapon upgrading system is impressively done. The atmosphere of being just a normal person trying to survive horrifying circumstances was so well done that it’s practically a work of art.

In both these games, as much as the gameplay was amazing and the writing well done and the music beautiful and all these other things that should make it fun, I found they just weren’t as much fun to play as I expected. I also played through all the episodes of The Walking Dead on my iPad; another great game, though this one I gotta say wasn’t entirely my cup of tea. The story was very well written, one of the better story-driven games I’ve played; what I didn’t enjoy as much was this one had barely any gameplay at all, and felt more like watching a TV show than playing a game.

A very good story-based episodic game, if you’re into that kind of thing.

I felt like I had no real control of the story at all and was just along for the ride. Now, I’ve said lots of times that if the game has crap for story, it’s not worth my time. Well, the same can be said for the flip-side – if the story is great but the gameplay is crap or practically nonexistent, then it’s not much of a game at all. A good game is a balance of all it’s aspects – story, gameplay, sound, graphics, UI, controls. They all have to blend and flow in unison to make a game good. The Walking Dead fell short in gamelay and UI, in my personal opinion, but I know lots of people that this kind of game would be perfect for.

The other day my mom was over visiting and she made an interesting observation. She noticed I have been depressed and frustrated and I was explaining to her how i kept losing good characters in State of Decay, and she said that yeah, of course it’s depressing; I’m not the hero of that game, but I play games to escape real life for a little while and feel like a hero who matters and makes a difference. That struck me. She’s right. These three games have something in common, and not simply that they’re all Zombie games. The one thing they have in common is that you’re not a hero. You’re just some person trying to survive when the world around you is trying to kill you and eat your corpse. Which is, really, quite a metaphor for real life.

In real life, I’m no hero. I’m nobody. No matter how much I want to do good and make a difference, I can’t. Heck, I’m struggling to keep a part-time minimum wage job, which is hard enough in and of itself, but add onto that things like depression, severe OCD, ADHD, the kind of severity that put me onto permanent lifelong disability at age 19.  It’s a struggle for me to survive day to day in the real world; playing a video game where I struggle to survive just compounds the emotional problems.

One of the few MMO games I can still play solo and at least usually feel heroic and important.

I also have been playing some Fable 3 on Xbox 360, Batman Arkham City on Steam, Diablo 3 co-op with buddies on Xbox 360, Star Trek Online on PC, Rift on PC, Path of Exile on PC, and so on. Some single player games, some MMO games. I’m enjoying the single player games where I don’t feel so powerless,where I’m special and can make a real difference for good in the world. I’ve not been playing many MMO games, and the few I have been playing, I’ve been pretty much running through quests solo.

Always be yourself… Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

Today my mom’s words struck me again, when thinking about those – in MMO games, I’m also no hero. “But you play a powerful mystical warrior with badass armor, deadly weapons, and powerful magic; doesn’t that make you a hero?” No, not really. If everyone were a rock star, who would cheer from the audience? When everyone is a hero, then no one is a hero. I’m not any more special in an MMO than anyone else, and because I am so story and RP driven in MMO games, I tend to always have slightly weaker equipment etc. I played MMO games originally for the sense of community and camaraderie as we faced challenges together as a team.  Unfortunately, I just have never found an MMO that enough of my friends all were willing to play regularly, so never settled into any one game. Star Trek Online is the only one I keep going back for myself, because I just love Star Trek that much, and the gameplay really is that good, even when played solo.

So I’ve started really looking at the games I play, and I think it’s even affecting the way I look at the games I am designing. I play games as an escape, a therapy from the struggle that every day life is. I play to give me that brief feeling of being important, of being a hero, that allows me to wake up and face the next day.  I play to let off steam and blow things up or beat up bad guys that I know full well I can’t do in real life. I play because, deep down in my heart, I really am a hero; the real world just gives me no real opportunities to express it. We all want to be heroes. Even those wanting to be villains want to be heroes to other villains. We all want to be important and special and admired. We need that. It’s human nature. I play games so that I get that feeling, because without feeling eve a little bit important, we lose that will to keep going each day. We need that, and when real life is shit and we can’t find it there, at least we have video games. For me, this means that I’ll not be playing much in the way of Zombie Apocalypse games, and if I do, will likely use trainers or cheat codes. I play some games for the challenge, yes; but sometimes, dammit, I just wanna be invincible.

This also means I’m changing my game design philosophy – I want to make everyone their own hero, in their own way. Heroes need challenges, but they don’t need to just be barely surviving day to day. That means character customization, epic stories, and options, options, options. I’m taking lessons from System Shock 2 and Guild Wars 2 character creation and going to apply them to my games.

What about you, dear reader? What game made you feel the most like a true hero?