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Jd1680a Blog

Why MMOs have become solo friendly.

MMORPG stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The genres name gives it away as being a game that a player is connected with many other players playing the same game, sharing the same world and experiences. There are plenty of people out there who believe the mmorpg means you are required to have a cooperative gameplay experience with other people to be considered multiplayer. However, that is no longer the case in many of the more recent MMOs that come on to the market in the past six years.

My experience with MMOs goes back ten years, with my very first game called Horizons: Empire of Istaria back in late 2003-2004. Once I was introduced to the MMO life, I then played City of Heroes, Everquest 2, Lineage 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Age of Conan, Champions Online, Old Republic, Guild Wars 2 and TERA, which I am currently still playing. I have seen MMOs involved some what over the years, from a group oriented gameplay to solo friendly with minimum requirement to do co-op.

City of Heroes, Everquest 2, Lineage 2 and Dungeons and Dragons Online were very group heavy games that require you to be in a group to advance. Anyone who have played a MMO before knows that you will begin a treadmill gathering enough experience points to level up your character making him stronger to so you could fight more creatures at higher levels to get more points and level up so more and continue the whole process until you reach the level cap. In games like City of Heroes or Everquest 2, you were focused into grouping with other people to be able to gain enough experience points to advance to continue on with the storyline. If you were not in a group, you did not advance at all that simple.

MMOs forced people into grouping were fundamentally flawed. Everquest 2 before the change to make it much more solo friendly, was very very group oriented in the first six months after its launch. The scenario was this for EQ2, I would get home from work and then log on to do some quests which require a group, There were a few times I could get into a group within 20 minutes of logging in, but most of the time I could be waiting for hours. A full group was maybe a tank, two damage dealers, crowd controller and a healer. If there was no healer avaliable to get into your group you could be waiting for hours just waiting for one to log in. No joke this happened to me most of my time with Everquest 2. There were a few lucky people who have friends in real life who come along with them or in strong guilds to form instant groups as soon as they get onto the game.

Age of Conan is the first MMO I played that did not require you to be in a group to advance through the game. There was no requirement to be in a group, you could solo the entire time and still reach the level cap. I know people would ask, why solo a MMO if there is multiplayer in its description? Only if the MMO was set into a perfect world, where everyone is waiting for you to log in and you immediately started playing. Everyone have different lives and time schedules, for a game that requires you to be a group and is operating on server 24 hours a day is not practical in the real world. Example, I want to go see a movie in the theater, but wait I cant because if I get up and leave I may not be able to get a group again to do the quests I need to do.

TERA is the latest MMO I am currently playing. My character is a level 50 berserker, where I have spent nearly the entire time soloing. There is no draw back at all if you dont ever get into a group in the game. Champions Online and Old Republic is the same way as TERA. The minute I log in, I am playing the game.  I could run over and grab a few quests, farm mobs for their loot all I want, or just shoot the breeze. Playing at my own pace, at my own time, at my own leisure, without waiting for anyone is way more benetfical then MMOs that forced people into grouping.

Age of Conan, Champions Online, Old Republic, Guild Wars 2 and TERA is not set up just for one way. Anyone who wants to do group quests, fight in dungeons, do raids, player vs player still can. Giving that these games also make it where anyone could come on to the game any time during the day or night could still play without any worry. That way someone who wants to go see a movie can and then come back three hours later and continue on advancing through the game.

The Hobbit, its a problem to have CGI?

Today, I saw The Hobbit in the theaters for the second time and my take on is the same. I loved the movie and looking for it coming out on video. The story, characters, atmosphere, soundtrack, and the action was all very good. I do admit the movie does start very slow, supposely it takes 40 minutes for us out of the Bilbo's house and the Shire for the movie to really begin. All of the scenes in the movie have its place and reason so a slow movie is required to build up for the next two parts of the Hobbit, The first movie whole reasoning was to develop the character Bilbo, he was an unsure, scared, and appeared to be lost when he first joined up the dwarfs to someone who was completely opposite at the very end.

The Hobbit did used even more CGI compared to Lord of the Rings. Many of the races and creatures done in LOTR in costume or makeup was done in CGI instead, like all the orcs, goblins, trolls and wargs. There are film critics would think this is a problem for Hobbit. The real reason for why its problem really I dont understand. The Hobbit was made ten years after LOTR and so the technology have improved enough for many added scenes with the help of CGI. The big thing critics forget with a film is to achieve suspension of disbelief among everyone in the audience.

Lord of the Rings Goblin.
Goblin from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Which one of these images makes it easier for suspension of disbelief? For me, it is the second image from The Hobbit. My brain is tricked in thinking the goblin is a real character in the world he is in and I begin to care. First image was Lord of the Rings goblin and could tell right away its someone in makeup so it causes me to lose interest and not care who they are. My goal for any movie as big as The Hobbit is to get lost in its lore and having believeable looking and acting characters help.

I would have to admit I am a fan of CGI in movies when done right, The Hobbit is an example of that kind of movie. The Hobbit has a great story and uses CGI to as a tool to help the film reach the audiences ability to get lost in the film. Avengers and Spiderman 4 are other movies have done well with using CGI as a tool to help with the story that couldnt have been done without it. Transformers 3 and Battleship is example of movies that have done CGI poorly with movies with weak stories.

I dont understand why anyone would think CGI in movies is a problem. I am really lost in the logic in the matter, maybe because I look at movies in a different way, to be entertained. For those critics to think CGI is a bad thing, I would disagree with you in full.

New Headphones

This is my first blog in months.

Yesterday, I decided to buy new headphones to replace the ones I currently using now. The current ones will soon bit the dust, there is a short inside the headset that makes the right speaker turn off. My new ones should arrive by next Wednesday, in time for E3.


If I were to have control in Mass Effect story

Just like so many other people, I did not like the ending to Mass Effect. The final explaination to why the Reapers were killing off everyone so that way they could prevent artificial intelligence from denying future organic life development in the galaxy. If I were to have control the story of Mass Effect how could I reorganize the characters and storyline so it made more sense?

The reapers is an all powerful entity expanding to more then one hundred other galaxy across the universe for over a billion years and their goal is to allow rise and fall of advanced space faring civilizations and prevent over domination by interfere the development of other races that have not yet achieve faster then light travel (FTL). They would have created Mass Effect relays, the Citadel and other structures to attract advanced civilizations by giving them two laws. The laws is advanced warning in preventing the civilizations destruction. The reapers dont interfere how each races deal with each other, like if one is at war, developing genophage, or organizations like the Alliance.

50,000 years ago the Protheans and an artificial intelligence created by the Protheans were at war with each other. Both parties were the most dominating and advanced of anything at that time and the reapers allowed them to continue until their conflict got so out of control it would have effect other non FTL development. This led to the sudden disappearance of both races and the sudden rise of 23 races across the galaxy from left over Prothean technology over the last 1,500 years.

Asari was the first to advance then shortly after four others. The Alliance was established by Asari and the four other civilizations joined in. Five more joined over the course of a thousand years, while 13 others were aware of the alliance existance by did not take part of. The non members were still allow to travel to the Citadel, take part in trade, communication and make residence. The citadel and a near by planet it is orbiting, is home to more then 4 billion of mixed races across the galaxy.

Humans is the newest member of the Alliance and the relationship with each race was mixed. They were friends with Asari, Quarians, Turians, and Salarians. The worst enemy was the Collectors who saw Humans as invaders, because Humans had quickly increase its territory in the galaxy. Mining and colonies were attacked by Collectors including joint Turian and Human installations which caused both to take cause to stop them.

Shepard is a newly founded commander and comes to Citadel as all other races look down upon him. A rogue Taurian leader along with Drell and Vorcha targeted Alliance infracture throughout the galaxy including the attempt to kill all of the council members until Shepard pushes back. The rogue Taurian leader along with is generals are killed the day is saved by Shepard causing the trust of Humans enough to join the Council.

The Collectors troubles began to escalate to the point where war was evitable. Shepard is there to stop the Collectors from attacking Human settlements to prevent all out war. They search for the leader of the Collectors who are responible for the push and kill him at the end. Killing of then instantly stops the Collectors attacks toward Human colonies forever.

The Collectors five years later became ultra aggressive and effected two non FTL civilizations. The Alliance was suddenly alerted for probable trouble from the reapers. Shepard mission was liberate one of the planets collectors are attempting to capture, warn them about the reapers, and even align at least nine races in the galaxy to defend the collectors from the reapers. At the end of Mass Effect story, it would show humans as being able to forgive and take pity to a known foe and this caused the collectors to end their aggression. The whole point of Mass Effect storyline would for Shepard show great leadership and help prove human unique role in the galaxy while other races might not show.

Blogging on an iPad

Hi everyone,

I am currently on an iPad here at my sisters house. I could admitted for a guy mostly use a pc, it a pretty handy thing to use if you were at the airport, coffee shop, or even away from your own pc. The major deal with iPads, even with 3.0 they are coming out is the limited hardware resources. It takes longer to load some threads with screenshots or others with more graphically demanding. There is no way this will replace the pc, yet this will be good for the general public who only use Internet.

My new cornsnake, Hank

There is a reptile store about ten minute drive from me and for the past six months I really wanted to go there to check this place out. My kingsnake was running out of mice so two weeks ago I decided to give this place a call to get more frozen mice, since it was a great opporunity to go check this place out. My plan was really take a look, ask questions about the store and if I like what I saw I would come back and get a snake like in June or something. Yet that all changed when I asked about adult snakes up for adoption, so they showed me this cornsnake. Whoa, big!! I held him in the store for about 20 minutes and he appeared to enjoyed being held and a good eater and for $50 I thought it was my snake to be, so I bought him and brought him home. I didnt have any setup at home for this snake, so I had to run to the store with him to get a water bowl and a timer for his heat lamp and also bought him a 40 gallon tank, spending like $200 in one day. Once I got everything set up and put the snake in his new home, I was thinking of a name to call him, so I dont call him Snake all the time. Hank was the name I decided to call my new snake.

Hank's age is unknown, I believe he is at least five years old. When being handled, he will be tense, seem to be unwilling to be petted and doesnt like to be touched close to his head, also he will spend nearly all day hiding in his box and come out during the night for sips of water. Some of these are signs of inexperience of being handled making him a little uncomfortable. I dont know whether or not if this is just the cornsnake in him, last owner didnt handle him as much or the during the year he was at the store he became more feral. Yesterday and today I decided to start handling my snake for 15-20 minutes so he could gain the experience and try to make him more tame. The best news is Hank will still eat and will not regurgitate, signs of a snake is content or happy.

Right now, this new cornsnake is a learning experience since he is a different species from my kingsnake with different instincts. Also snakes do have personalities and some will be more shy then others and it might take some time for Hank to get use to me to be comfortable exploring is home during the day, if not I got a snake that likes to be awake at night.

My pet snake with pics

This is my pet snake, he is a California Kingsnake. Ive had him over 16 years, since I was a freshmen in high school. He is the best christmas present I have ever gotten, since much of everything is garbage. Because Ive had him for ever 15 years, he is very tame, sometimes enjoys being touched and held and will lay and sleep on my lap for hours. Some would think snakes wouldnt have a sense of affection, even tho its not easy to see like in a dog or cat, there are a bunch of times where he will get excited when I come home or sees me again after hiding himself for two weeks. How he display his excitement is moving around in his enclosure for 30 minutes. Keep in mind all snakes are individuals and they have different personalities. How my snake responds and acts might be slightly different then to another snake.

Challenge vs Balance

Challenge vs Balance? As a person who like to spending my leisure time playing video game, I would like to get my hands on a few that would provide me a challenge. A challenge is gameplay that provides some resistance, like a gun fight or melee brawl, that requires my time and attention to get through the problem at hand. Then there is balance where the game's challenge cant be too difficult or the AI doesnt have unfair advantage over the player.

Mass Effect 2 and Skyrim both had game play with challenge and at the same time balance. Skyrim had many challenges for the player, paying attention to surrounding, the use of sneaking, along with having a limited amount of weight to carry around. There is a nice touch of balance with all this challenge and that is between those who use sword and shield and magic, those with magic is able to cast a frost spell to slow down a swordmen's advance, while the swordmen could use his shield to distrupt the mage's casting. Mass Effect 2 had gameplay with many gun fights, requiring the player to seek and use cover and even switching locations due to the AIs ability to flank. The balance is the use of cover and having two other team members also equiped firearms.

Balance does come between challenge for the player and the AI. If in Mass Effect 2, the player were to get minimal damage of every hit he takes and is able to kill off every enemy he sees with two hits, what is the challenge in that? Visa versa for the AI, if the NPCs were to take 40 hits to kill, all available cover is useless, and the player dies in two hits, that would be too difficult for many. I remember in the game Age of Empires where the player is able to change the difficulty level and in the higher setting the AI will advance through the ages with minimal effort in gathering the resources necessary. Age of Empire is an example of a game having imbalanced gameplay or unfair advantage over the player. Company of Heroes does the job beautifully for more difficult AI, they just make the AI more difficult but keep the game physics the same.

There is a such thing as a game being imbalanced for the player, where the game's difficulty cant be met by general gameplay. Dead Rising 2 is a game I remember with a few psychos I have to face in the game. Most of the time my guy doesnt have the level or equipment needed to do enough damage against them or no ability to block attacks when they come. Resident Evil 5 is another game loaded with zombies and each of them take about five or six shots to kill with very little resupply of ammo. I remember I only had ten round of bullets in my gun by the time I faced the second boss before I stopped in frustration. Batman: Arkham City I have noticed the controls causes an imbalance when there are ten or more enemies to fight at once, especially when they are carrying knives.

Skyrim, my new favorite game

So far I have put in over 100 hrs in playing Skyrim over the past two weeks. Exploring the huge landscrape, encounters enemy foes of bandis, forsworn, bears, saber cats and dragons, visiting caves, mines, old temples, Nord catacombs, dwarven ruins and many small villages and towns dotting the landscape of Skyrim. The world of Skyrim is unbelievable complex with huge diversity of history going back 3,000 years, one hundred books all to read and help fill in the gaps, political upheavel as the main factions in the game are at war, and xenophoric tones from Nords and Elves. Immediately when I visited the first city and started talking to some of the towns folks, I got a sense of despair from the Great War that followed 30 years before and how it effected hundreds of lives. To put in short, Skyrim is probably the most complete, strongest setting environment game Ive ever played which aids in suspension of disbelief.

Immediately when Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was announced and the first screenshots shown at last years E3, we would think about comparing it to Oblivion. Skyrim is literally 3x the game Obliivion was with improved combat, an interesting main story line along with on going war between Imperial and Stormcloaks, and indepth look of dwarven and snow elves ancient history. Bethseda have really learned all their lessons of what was wrong with Oblivion and fix them on Skyrim.

Tablets,smartphones and PCs

Define: "Mainstream user" a person who only uses a PC in their home for email, social networking, shopping and light browsing and dont have any other interest in the PC itself. The type of people who go into a Besy Buy and buy a Dell for $500 at minimal specs and dont really care what's inside other then doing their facebook and such.

At least once a month since the year have started, I have been reading more and more news about tablets in newspapers and the internet. How tablets are being a new fast selling sensation that is going to give the PC a run for its money. Supposely the tablets and smartphones is such a hot item, even HP is thinking about selling the PC line. The news would make it seem great and all but they dont tell the real story about why the tablet is becoming so popular.

Back in the late 90s when the internet was booming and everyone's uncle and brother was connecting so they could communicated through email, instant messager, and shop online. The PC and Apple iMacs were the only option people could connect to the internet, so people by the millions bought them up and would cause a huge surge in demand. Mainly the millons of people are mainstream folks who only buy a PC just for the internet and creates an illusion that they are a long term customer. The introduction of the tablet have now given many mainstream users who would only be interested in using facebook, twitter, uploading images right away to everyone in the world, and do light internet searches like a movie time in the palm of the hand and on the go anywhere. Unlike a PC and most of them only stay inside the house to a wall or most of the laptops have limited battery times and also require to be restrain to a wall.

Assuming there are a total of 10 millon home customers, 8 million are mainstream users and 2 million hardcore users like gamers, people write music, make a movie, etc. The 8 million mainstream is an illusionary demand that wouldnt have been there is they didnt have to. These 8 million people would be less likely go for an upgraded PC every 3 or 4 years but instead will go for a mobile device like a tablet and smartphone. I actually remember reading how laptops were outselling desktops because of their mobiliy because it favors the mainstream users, so they could go into coffee shops, libraries or any place with free wifi and connect to the internet.

HP recently announced in selling their entire PC arm, to be able to the same route as IBM did like five years back. They had mentioned how sales for the PC have gone up 2% compared to the last fiscal year, I think. 14 million units were sold duing that time and probably most of the sales went to businesses and federal agency who will buy thousands of new ones every year. I think the PC have nothing more reach its peak, everyone who have bought a PC have gotten one, so any massive surge in sales like during the late 90s would be unlikely. The fact the matter is tablets will never be able to replace the PC, its performance and storage resources is far bigger then any tablet. Apple Ipad and Samsung Galaxy both very low power CPUs in them with very little chance of overheating, but if a standard PC CPU went in there like a Core i5, it would burn up within a couple of hours. The tablet is pretty much designed as a mobile on the go for the mainstream users, who only looking to facebook and email, thats it