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EVE: Revelations

I've been playing the MMORPG "Eve" for awhile now (e.g. about 5 years or so, on and off).  The latest installment, entitled "Revelations," has me getting back into the universe and rekindling my character.  In case you're curious, I play a feisty redhead named "Alexandria" where I hang out in seedy spacer bars on miner planets in the Verge Vendor region.

I won't try to explain the premise of the game too much, because the level of detail required to do this is far beyond the scope of a blog.  I will say however that the for all the fan-boy hype, its one of the most difficult and frustrating games I've ever played.  The mission system is still buggy, even after several generations of revisions.  The leveling system seems interesting at first glance given that it's time-based and not experience-based, but suffers especially at the early stages from being too restrictive to new players.

The main focus of the game seems to be oriented almost exclusively to player-vs-player competition.  So much so that the mission system seems more like an afterthought.  The in-game DED levels are quite fun, in theory.  I say that because I find it difficult to even begin to play through them as, the minute I warp into a region with a good level to explore, I get jumped by player-pirates, beaten and looted.  The moral is, no matter what you're flying, if you're doing it in low-security space, you're going to get mugged, period.  You can take that to the intergalactic bank.  [But don't take it to eBay, as they no longer allow the trading of in-game virtual goods.]

If you too are an Eve fan-person, feel free to do a fly-by sometime and take a few pot shots at whatever I'm driving.  Believe me, you wouldn't be my first.

Neverwinter Nights 2

On my way to lunch today I swung by Matt Rorie's desk and saw him playing the latest installment from the Neverwinter series.  I've been playing it too, in my spare time, and I thought I'd share some of my likes and dislikes.

First, I'm a huge fan of RPGs and of AD&D.   I've played all the multi-party computer editions over the years including Wizardry, Ultima-Underworld, The Bard's Tale, Dungeon Master, and of course Baldur's Gate.  Each one was a new level of 'cool' for me as I grew up. 

The Neverwinter series was the first one I remember being true to the original D&D rule book, as it were.  As I play it now, I'm taken back to the crumpled sheets of yellow character sheet paper I played with as a teenager back in the 80's (yes, I'm that old).  I remember the feel of pencils and oddly shaped dice, and the math that went into calculating the outcome of an 'encounter'. 

When I play the modern computer versions, it somehow reduces the experience and anticipation of the battles to cartoon-like, fast-pased imagery.  In the back of my mind I can almost see the dice rolling, but the computer, with its infinitely more sophisticated skill, does this all in real time, for the benefit of a cinematic experience.  (Of course, as if my computer were trying to show off, it does matrix transforms for geometry and texture rasterization in real-time too, and at the same time.)

Perhaps this explains why the graphics engine seems to be a modest improvement over the previous version?  Maybe the computer is having a hard time with all those simultaneous differential equations?  I know I would. 

Nevertheless, I still love the game and the series.  I really like the part where you get your own 'Keep' and have to take on the role of a Lord and make improvements.  That was an unexpected plot twist, and it made me smile, if only for a few minutes until the experience became a little tedious. 

There are still so many more adventures in the AD&D pantheon, that I can't wait until some other developer dives in and tries this sort of thing again.  I think there's much more to do here to bring this rich paper experience to life, and I hope to see it evolve as much in the next 20 years as it has in the past.

Public Service Announcement...

As a public service to my viewership, I'd like to take a moment to talk about male cyclical non-uterine dysmenorrhea (otherwise known as 'male menopausal cramps.')

Some of the greatest leaders in history suffered from this horrible condition. 

See the documentary here for more info:

What I hate about Company of Heros

So, with all the talk around 'Company of Heros' the new real-time strategy game from Relic I thought I'd buck the trend and talk some smack about this well-hyped RTS.

First of all, I think its not really an RTS.  The graphic engine is simply too good for that.  It's more like a Third-Person Report-ive FPS game that just happens to play like an RTS.  That's my first complaint.  Come-on now.  We all know RTS games are supposed to be isometric and cartoon-ish, not dramatic and cinematographic, with highly-detailed landscapes and sweeping, immersive drama.  What's Hollywood going to do if this sort of thing becomes the norm?  Alot of good people out of work, if you ask me, and that can't be good, can it?

Secondly, I hate World War II.  It's so cliche.  I mean with names like Adams, Johnson and Kysinzky for crying out loud.  Not a black man (or woman) in the group I might add.  Where's the diversity?  I like black people, and I sorely miss them in this RTS.  And don't tell me they didn't fight in the War, either.  That kinda talk just makes me angry.

Third, what's with all the flamethrowers?  I'm surprised that there aren't German Shepards with flamethrowers attached to their backs in this game.  Whoever designed this game is definitely in need of some pryo-counselling or something.  I know flamethrowers existed in WWII, but as I recall from my history texts they were about as common as German jet-fighters or those bridge busting, water skipping depth charges the British invented.

So in conclusion I only have to say that while COH is (arguably) the best RTS ever, it has a long way to go to stop me from getting all teary eyed like Spielberg's Band of Brothers did on HBO.  You hear that Relic?!?!  You may have made the best RTS game so far, but you're no Spielberg.  Hell, what do I know, I can't even spell Spielberg.

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