Non-MMO: Getting rid of my PSP

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I’ve had my PSP for about a year now and I’ve decided to trade it in for the Nintendo DS. Unlike many in the gaming industry, I’m not enamored with Nintendo or full of nostalgia for the golden days of eight-bit gaming. I have, however, had fun with their systems and thoroughly enjoyed many of their N64 titles (Goldeneye sniper mode was teh win). On the other hand, I can say the exact same for most of the other big game consoles.

Actually, after the N64, I pretty much gave up on Nintendo. After seeing the route the company went with the Gamecube, I knew that our ways had parted and couldn’t really understand the fanboyism of some of my friends.

Then the Wii came along and, despite the gimmicky controls, I remained unimpressed. Nintendo seemed intent upon staying behind the times. I mean, come on… in this day and age they can’t even put arms on their “Miis”? What the heck, Nintendo. Still, some of the games were alright, definitely better for playing with other people, but not good enough to convince me to buy into the fad.

The same thing applied to the Nintendo DS. The Nintendo crowd could keep their little kid games and test their Brain Age all they wanted. I went for the PSP. Good graphics. Good games. Good stuff.

Except, after playing with it for a year, I find myself at a loss as it sits on the floor of my closet, even while I’m searching for a way to distract myself at work.

After some contemplation, I have it pinned down. The PSP is a system that doesn’t know what it wants to be. On one hand, they push for cutting edge graphics and strong gameplay but, on the other, each of those forces the games to be shorter and shallower due to the space limitations of the UMD.

Playstation wants you to believe that the PSP is a PS2 in pocket with such titles as Grand Theft Auto and God of War, yet it suffers because it simply cannot compare to the original games, again, due to space limitations and a muddy control system.

But, wait, it’s not just a game system! It’s a movie system! An MP3 player! A PDA! On all three counts, it does not live up to its charge. Movie selection is lacking, even when you find a store that rents their discs. It’s a freaking block, so no one uses it for an mp3 player. And, as for being a web tool, well… it works for rudimentary web browsing. As long as you don’t have to type anything in less than five minutes.

So, after all this time, I find myself looking again at the Nintendo DS.  Are the graphics as good? No way. But at least the DS knows what it wants to be. It’s a casual console, designed for in and out fun. They don’t want to engross you in hours of deep play. They want you to return to it, time and again, for little pieces of fun and, when you want, devote big chunks of time.

But they don’t force you. And they don’t give allusions to being more than what they are. Nintendo makes clear the audience they’re shooting for and give players the tools to do more with what they’re given.

After over 10 years of sitting firmly in the Sony/Microsoft circle, I’m looking towards a different corner of the gaming ring.

Wish me luck with my trade-ins. Even a PSP is worth more than fifty bucks.

The Plan

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Since my last post, I’ve been absent. The largest part of this is that I haven’t played any MMO in a little while now. My wife and I had some extra wedding money left over, so we used it to buy an Xbox 360 (not that she really cares about it, unfortunately). I know, I’m behind the times. The upside to this is that I now have a wide variety of great and affordable games at my disposal.

So, for the last little bit, I’ve been enjoying the likes of Oblivion, Fallout 3, and even the likes of Sonic: Unleashed (nostaliga, what can I say?). I’ve even dove into the Xbox Live Marketplace and picked up a couple of Xbox originals (Fable and GTA: San Andreas) and Uno from the arcade selection, which is surprisingly addictive.

Oblivion is, by far, my favorite. Yet, for all of its RPG-goodness, it’s not quite the same as a good MMO. The problem is, I don’t know if I’m ready to put the Xbox in the #2 place this soon after buying it. My plan, then, is to mix up my playtime for the rest of the summer.

I hate to say it but I really don’t want to go back to LotRO right now. It’s a good game but it doesn’t have that “hook” to keep me interested. After spending the first 23 levels doing much the same (how many monster types did I fight again? Five?) it’s just taken on a feeling of bleh for me.

I even considered returning to WoW. Thankfully, I resisted that urge. I honestly believe that it would be an exercise in exasperation. It’s my old flare. My first MMO love. Yet, we’ve parted ways and I know that if I come back now, I’ll only find everything is still the same. And as slow to progress as ever.

Now I find myself left with a couple of options that I plan to move forward on. First, I’m going to spend more time playing the Chinese version of Aion. They have some really exciting things coming up the fence that have my interested (ie, patch 1.5 but, being honest and all, I’ve experience very little of patch 1.0+ having missed the preview weekends, so I have a lot to check out) and I honestly think that it’ll be the next game to give me that wow-like hook. A second home, so to speak.

The issue at the moment, however, is that with so few English speakers playing and no guild, it can make you feel a little lonesome. I’ve heard there’s lots of English-speaking guilds, however, so I’d imagine that this is only temporary. And it doesn’t detract from the questing at all.

Secondly, I’m going to tinker around in other games. I’m downloading Guild Wars: Nightfall right now to play around with. I tried the first one and liked it but that happened to coincide with when I found WoW and you can imagine what happened then. I’m also considering Final Fantasy 11 for my console but I’ve heard a lot of things that make me hesitant, so I’m not sure if I’ll follow through on that one yet.

Anyways, no. Contrary to popular belief I’m not dead. The wife hasn’t butchered me or made me into little Raegn sausages. She did, however, think it was funny when I told her people think my handle is pronounced Raegan since I’m devoutly anti-political publically. Go figure. It’s all good. I don’t have to be a silent G.

A Week in Review

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Hey Everyone,

It’s been a little bit since my last update. I’m sorry for the resounding quiet. It’s almost like being in an empty auditorium, isn’t it? Hellooooooooo……!

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, maybe you’d like an update? This past couple of weeks have been rough for my gaming time. Life is kicking into high gear. But I won’t bore you there.

What have I been doing? Well, a big part of my gaming time has been devoted to trying to secure a copy of Darkfall. And, darn Keen hasn’t made the waiting any easier. Unfortunately, I haven’t been lucky enough to squeeze through the peep hole they open to their accounts page every day.

I swear, it’s the most ridiculous setup. For the past two days, I’ve been arranging my lunch breaks to be online at the times the store opens. Each time, I’m able to get into view my billing information but no further; the page refuses to load, so I’m stuck f5ing over and over. Today, they sold copies for a grand total of 11 minutes. Yesterday, it was five minutes of up-time, 15 minutes of crashed account server, and then another 15 minutes of uptime.

Tasos posted today stating that the number of copies sold each day is in the four digit range but he can’t say how much. I call shenanigans. In 11 minutes, they could sell that many, sure, but I doubt they are. And, unfortunately, a portion of the ones being sold each day are going to people purchasing second accounts. How about this, only accept a single credit card per customer until they have a shop that will stay open? Or, hey, maybe open the shop at another time of the day? Tee hee hee, we crazy players and our crazy ideas.

I’ll keep trying as often as I’m able until I can get in. That may just be tomorrow though, so we’ll see. The game looks fun though. Hopefully it will be worth it and Aventurine can handle the actual game better than they handle the demand to purchase it. I’ll be honest though, my confidence in them has taken a massive hit. I understand wanting to make the play experiece as good as possible for the people already in, and low queue times are appreciated, but another server should definitely be opened. Some people are against this, so the first server isn’t underpopulated. I see that viewpoint but I still don’t see the current situation as a reasonable option.

Apart from that, I’ve twiddled around in LotRO a bit. Due to my reduced playtime, I’ve been leaning more towards “jump in/jump out” game this week. GTA4 has seen more activity from me in the past few days than it has since I first bought it. Left 4 Dead was the last week’s flavor.

Oh, and I started kind of a side-project to prop up the LotRO blogging community. It’s called Epic Book and is similar to this one only specific to LotRO. I’ll only be posting on it about once a week, give or take, and possibly mirroring LotRO specific articles posted here over there. We’ll see. Fires of War is my number one blogging priority though, so which ever way the river leads with it is okay.

Next week, I hope to bring you my impressions on Darkfall but that’s yet to be seen. And I still have that pesky “So your spouse hates video games…” article to write. I’m also hoping I’ll have time to try out the Slayer and Choppa classes, which look incredibly fun. Real life will officially kick off into warp speed come Monday (thankfully, only for a week), so we’ll have to see. Stick with me though, as post volume will be back to normal shortly thereafter.

Oh, and if you’re feeling generous and have a copy of Darkfall you’d like to donate, shoot me an email. I’m a charity case like that 😉

A Week in Review

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As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been a little absent this week. My mid-year break is coming to an early close (student teaching starts before the semester *grumble*) so I’ve felt more like gaming than writing about gaming. After all, the two will probably reverse once the semester starts.

 

So what have I done this past week? A lot actually.

 

On the fun side, I’ve leveled my made up to 78 and ran a couple of instances. Just last night I was able to run the Culling of Stratholme. I’ve always loved the Caverns of Time instances. Since I missed out on the RTS games, they offer me a little glimpse of some of the big lore events I missed. I also ran Halls of Lightning but my latency issues wound up making the run more annoying than anything else.

 

I also downloaded Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from Steam. I’m not usually one for FPS games but Left 4 Dead inspired me to give this game a shot. I’m playing the single player campaign right now and have had a lot of fun with it. The first true mission has you invading an enemy ship on a stormy ocean. The rolling waves and pelting rain make this mission very atmospheric. I won’t spoil it for you, but bad things wind up happening and you’re forced to run for your life… and nearly lose it. I’m looking forward to the multi-player portion of the game but before I wet my feet, I’m going to kill the single player and build up my skills a little bit.

 

Speaking of Left 4 Dead, I tried versus mode quite a bit too. I like playing the survivors more than the infected but, if my inspiration to buy COD4 didn’t say it enough, I had a blast. It looks like we can expect downloadable content sometime soon too. Or so I’ve read on sites like Joystiq.

 

Oooh, and one more thing I suppose you could consider “fun”, it looks like Seriosity has updated their studies a little bit. On my guild forums, we’ve had a nice little chat about gaming and professionalism as a result. If you haven’t heard of Seriosity, it’s a study from IBM about the impact MMORPG gaming has on employees. Nick Yee,  notable MMORPG researcher, is also involved with the project.

 

On the not so fun side [TECHNICAL WARNING], I’ve had new issues with latency. This time, it’s only in instances. I spent a good portion of my computer time this week trying to update and configure my hardware and software to play nicely with WoW. FYI on that note, Blizzard avoided my thread like the plague and I have the sneaking suspicion it was because I’d already tried most of their solutions with no luck. I included the traceroute, pathping, all of the troubleshooting and problem isolation steps, tl;dr: the whole gamut. After 5 hours and several bumps, the only responses I got were from fellow players telling me I should contact my ISP or do more traces. I think I have it figured out though. I recently upgraded my router to third party firmware. I had opened up the hardware firewall as much as I could but, according to a past Blizzard rep, my issues sounded security related. I wound up totally disabling the router firewall and the problem seemed to go away. Then again, it was my first run of Old Stratholme that I tested it on, and I noticed I’m not routing through any AT&T nodes to the instance server, so the future will tell if the disable actually worked.

 

So, between three games and network problems I ate up most of my time on the interwebz this week. Oh, that and reviewing some of the new blogs as part of the Age of Blogging! I’ll have a weekly wrap-up online tomorrow to point you to the new members of the community. We have some talented writers joining our ranks, so a little over a week in and we’re off to a strong start!

Left 4 Dead

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So, it’s not an MMO

The day before Christmas, I sat in my living room looking at the pile of wrapped goodies I’d gotten for my friends and family. Feeling particularly jolly (and no, there’s no jelly belly here) I decided to take the dive and buy a new game for myself. After all, as long as I’m slowly deflating my bank account, I may as well treat myself a little. Right?

So, off to steam I went and began my download. When it was done, I was surprised to find that there was no need to install it. Via Steam, once the download meter was done it was good to play. The game opens with a cinematic that could have come straight out of Night of the Living Dead; very cool and really worked well to get you in the mood for some zombie killing.

I’ve never been a Counter-Strike fan, so I figured I’d try single-player first. When I was at the start menu though, I found myself selecting “Play Online” to try the co-op. Go figure.

I was pleasantly surprised. I figured I’d get “pwned” right away due to my utter noobishness with the game. Right off the bat I was able to pick up a small machine gun and lots of ammo. I was also able to get a nice health pack to help me get through to the next safe room. When we (myself and three other players) began, I immediately spotted zombie wandering from the trees. From there on out, it was all out havoc. And yes, I did get beat up at several points. Thankfully, my team was right there with pain killers and medi-packs each time. As a matter of fact, I didn’t die until the final stage of the scenario, but then, so did everyone else.

Out of nowhere, masses of zombies come flying at you. The game had a nice “28 Days Later” vibe to it with zombie behavior. They were slow and docile when they didn’t see you – but if they did, they snapped into action. The different in zombie types are also nice. I found myself liking Boomers (the fat puking zombies) for two reasons; they explode nicely and I like the swarms of zombies their puke draws. Smokers are also cool and can really be devastating. Smokers throw out intestine-like tendrils that pull you away from your group and hold you defenseless while they eat you. It happened to me several times where I’d be pulled away where my group couldn’t see me only to find myself incapacitated.

Overall, it’s a very fun game and I’ve yet to try out versus mode. The AI provides a different experience every time but I do feel that it could wind up being repetitive. The variation in weaponry and zombie types is there but I feel that it may not be enough in the long run. Gun types are probably okay but having only six types of zombies (the infected, smoker, hunter, witch, tank, and boomer are the ones I’ve seen in several hours of play) with no noticeable variation in each type’s look (meaning, one infected usually looks just like the other, not taking into account gender) just seems a little dry. Versus mode has the potential to enliven this though, so I’m not counting it as a big limiting factor at this point.

I’d recommend this game to anyone who’s in the mood for some zombie killing without mundane ammo limitations. Left 4 Dead throws you right into the action and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride. Like CS:S, you can compete against players – but only if you want to, which really opens up the game to a whole extra group of gamers. The limitations in npcs and the almost complete lack of story are what mark this game down for me. With downloadable content patches though, this game could really be spectacular. If I was forced to score it, I’d give it a 7.5/10 with the potential to hit 9, and maybe, 10/10.