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Camelot Unchained is Looking Real Good

My excitement for Camelot Unchained is really starting to ramp up. Such a welcome change from the dismal outlook I’ve had on MMOs lately. Camelot Unchained is currently in pre-alpha testing. I think I get access to some version of Alpha based on my support of their Kickstarter campaign… I just can’t remember when or how I’m supposed to be getting that access.

I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Camelot Unchained would look rough. I’m not a graphics whore or snob (well okay maybe a little).  When I saw the screenshots from the P.A.T. I was actually shocked in a good way. Take a look.

camelot-unchained-pre-alpha1

camelot-unchained-pre-alpha2

Pretty cool right? I’m liking how they’ve progressed from that tech demo. I think the character models already look good and have a lot of potential. I’m starting to get excited to think about playing this game and rekindling that sense of a big world of territories ripe for the conquering.

You guys know me. I’m typically a PvE carebear. When it comes to PvP I’m reluctant to participate and always have been since I started playing online games. The only game to truly capture my attention from a PvP angle was Dark Age of Camelot. It’s all about the realm, the large group, and the server battling together rather than guilds or individuals or teams. It’s grand scale stuff. My mind is creating these types of experience already in the graphical style of what I’ve seen in Camelot Unchained.

Something else I want to touch on briefly is the way in which Mark and his team are promoting/marketing/etc., CU. I love the blunt and matter of fact way in which they talk about their game. I’m a fan of the “our game is not for everyone” tone. I’m a fan of letting your game speak for itself rather than having to create marketing materials or bs videos of a dev sitting there talking. As Camelot Unchained enters a stage when they can start actually sharing the game itself, I hope the team at CSE keeps it up.

Being a raid leader was just practice

I used to think that running a raiding guild back in the Molten Core and Black Wing Lair days took a lot of preparation and coordination. We would have to crank out all kinds of food and potions, coordinate arrival times, make contingency plans, adapt to changes in attendees, figure out who to invite and not invite, and deal with all sorts of drama. I would spend hours and hours making sure everything went just right.  Turns out I was simply practicing for planning a wedding.

I’ve still managed to squeeze in some gaming time despite having my days filled with work, venues, and excel spreadsheets out my ears for everything from food to invitees. I got into the Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha! I’ve played only a handful of matches but I’m really enjoying the gameplay. It’s simplified DOTA. Heroes of the Storm reminds me of those Hero Arena games I used to play back in the custom games for Warcraft 3. Lots of fun and I look forward to playing it more this weekend before giving even more thoughts on the game.

My Barbarian in Diablo 3 Season 1 is still coming along quite nicely too. Something about spreading my playtime very thin with D3 gives me a renewed sense of love for being able to log in, get loot, and kill lots of monsters. In one morning I went from not being able to do Torment 1 to being able to clear Torment 4 with ease. All it took was a few runs in rifts and I got 3 set Ik, 3 earth, a Bovine bardiche, and Lut socks. Now I’m leap quaking everything to pieces.

Graev picked up Civ Beyond Eearth. I’m going to watch him play it for a bit today (tomorrow?) and decide if I want to get myself a copy. If you’ve tried it by the time you read this post feel free to give your impressions. I’m eager to hear if dropping the $49.99 is worth it. Graev actually saved a bit by using some deal Green Man Gaming has going for 25% off. We’ll get our impressions up soon — Graev seems to be reviewing games like crazy these days.

I’m just glad all of the MMOs out right now suck. If something like Camelot Unchained or EverQuest Next was out I’d be really hurting. I remember every year I’d go back up to college after a nice summer break and a new MMO would launch right in the first week of classes. This is good karma coming back to me now. Best drought ever.

Clash of Clans & Star Wars Commander: I’ve Sunk This Low

clash-of-clansI’m in a gaming slump lately. All of the MMOS outright now fail to meet my standards of looking for a rich and deep virtual world experience like I had in all of the MMOs I played from 1999 to 2005.  I play Diablo 3 on the weekends, and I poke around occasionally in other games like Albion Online during the week. I’m actually starting to hate myself for playing 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there of games like Star Wars Commander.

Star Wars Commander, Clash of Clans, and Boom Beach are all sorta this same type of game where you spend real time waiting to build up a base or pay in gems or other currency you can buy to expedite things. Yeah, they are all pay to win in some form but capable of being played for several hours (at least in my experience) if you’re wiling to wait a while in-between sessions. These are all time-waster “games” yet I find myself playing.

star-wars-commanderI wish I could build up a base and play something like this without the pay-to-win elements. I wish I could build up my empire base and run attacks on other squads or make a clan in clash of clans and play on my desktop. I’m not a fan of the little phone screen (my iPhone 4 is kinda small now compared to the other iPhones out there).

I like the jump-in-jump-out nature. I’ve been saying this a lot lately, I know. If I can’t lose countless hours to a MMO then I want my games capable of being consumed in bite-sized pieces.

I’m hoping to see H1Z1 hit Steam soon. I’ll buy the early access out of sheer boredom.

EverQuest Next Lore: Shades of Grey

The lore of EverQuest is changing significantly with the reimagining taking place in EverQuest Next. Not all of the changes are sitting well with veteran players, especially as those changes kill off and radically alter the primary mythology.

Tunare, a well-known and loved Goddess and The Mother of All, is dead. She was killed by ravaners which are some sort of creatures of chaos (not Dragons like one o the panel transcripts stated). Things like these changes have brought significant change to the way in which veteran players are going to have to cope with the EverQuest Next lore.

Personally, I’m okay with the major change as long as what Steve Danuser, aka Moorgard, says is true about more new coming very soon. A lot of what we need to know in order to judge these changes hasn’t been revealed. We know nothing or little about the evil gods (my favorite) like Innoruuk, Rallos Zek, Cazic Thule, or Bristlebane. That leads into what is an interesting topic: The Grey Area.

The way in which Moorgard describes the religion system in EQN makes it seem like much of the world of Norrath is governed by how you do things rather than which things you choose to do. In previous EQ an NPC was good or bad. In EQ both NPCs could be considered good but go about doing their perspective of ‘good’ in very different ways (redeeming evil being vs. eradicating them). If you redeem the evil beings like someone from the Ashen Order would do, then The Knights of Truth might actually dislike you — by doing what one ‘good’ faction saw as the ‘right’ thing to do, another ‘good’ faction saw it as weak and now dislikes you. That example is still a little black and white for me, though. It’s still treating good and evil as universally recognized and acknowledged distinctions.

It sounds to me like EQN could easily adopt much of the original EverQuest’s faction system where pretty much any action you take influenced how another faction treated you.  I love that faction system because it’s not about simply maxing bars. It’s about interacting with the world and choosing who will and will not like you, and as a result what you can and cannot do.

The true test of how open EQN will be is whether or not someone can still be a Druid of Tunare despite Tunare being dead. Can someone still act in her name? Can I still choose to worship a slain god and have my choices influence the world, or will I be confined to the script of each public quest dynamic event rallying call?

As far as all of the changes go, SOE is fighting an uphill battle. They’re changing something people actually loved. If people thought the EQ lore was crap then everyone might actually welcome the changes to the story. That’s not the case. From my perspective, I’m okay with changing the lore and mythology as long as it ends up being as complete and interesting as the original.

This Hobby is Cheap!

Google defines cheap as: Low in price; worth more than its cost. This is spot on when it comes to gaming. In yesterday’s entry I very briefly mentioned how over these past few months I have discovered that gaming is so cheap compared to other hobbies it’s almost incomprehensible. Let me share just a very brief insight into my own discovery process.

The average game runs about $64 including tax. I can get a bare minimum of 10 hours out of almost any game, and most actually exceed 30 hours. Some even breach the 200 hour mark like Battlefield or Call of Duty.

The average dinner for me and my fiancé runs about $35. I’m not talking a trip to Taco Bell. That’s more like $12 or less. I’m also not factoring in those $100 dinner nights or the even semi-nice $40-50 range. Straight up average costs about $35.  One night of dinner costs half the price of a video game. One meal. To make things a little more fair, I should probably calculate this on an individual basis.

Let’s itemize a few more expenses I’ve been able to experience over the past few months.

  • Movie Tickets: $12 each
  • Admission into Disneyland: $150’ish? (We have passes) / Halloween Party: $63 (or $56 with our passes)
  • Going anywhere: $3.45 / Gallon of gas (I get my gas at Sam’s Club and that’s what it was to fill up yesterday)

Those are just travel and event type hobbies or recreational activities. If you buy comic books, Magic the Gathering cards, modeling clay, or anything else you’ll also start to see how the prices quickly surpass gaming. Granted, there are single moments of greater expense that can be absolutely worth the higher price tag. A trip to Disneyland can be a magical experience and worth that price of admission (especially for young children) but on the balance these activities are premium for the entertainment value.

A monthly subscription to a MMO costs me $15. That’s like the gas to the theater and a ticket for one stinkin’ night. I can potentially get 30 days of play time. Let’s be uber conservative and say I’m one of those guys who can only play on Friday and Saturday nights. That’s still 8 nights or 8+ hours of entertainment for $15 vs. ANYTHING else.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to complain about the cost of the games or their upkeep when I can’t do anything else without paying substantially more. I’ve always been a value driven person. I’ll stop paying for a subscription to a MMO when I feel the MMO isn’t good enough to justify it — I’ve NEVER stopped because $15 is too much money. Looking ahead, I can’t imagine ever reaching a point where I’m having to tighten my belt and say, “Gee, I have to cancel that subscription to my MMO so that I can go to the movies once this month.”

Think about what you pay for in the world then think about gaming in terms of value. Everyone won’t agree, but I think most of you — if you’re being honest — will have no choice but to see the same thing.

Free to Play is a manipulation of the way our minds think. We don’t really need our games to be free. I’m happy paying such a relatively low price for a quality product that will give me 2-200x the value. I don’t need an even cheaper product for an even cheaper price. Just keep providing me with great value.