New Look. Thoughts?

We’re trying out a new look for the blog in the wake of yesterday’s horrific events.  I’m still adjusting the top banner image, but what do you guys think of the overall look and functionality?  I’m getting comments like “it looks cleaner” and “it’s easier to read”.  I think I agree.  It’s been three years of the same look and part of me feels like I’m empty inside, but that could be simply my natural resistance to change.   Below I’ve outlined some of the big differences:

New Theme

  • Fixed Width
  • Built-in Networking buttons
  • Nested Comments (indent and reply to specific ones) (Currently disabled)
  • Gravatar functionality (images next to your name when you comment, signup at Gravatar)

Old Theme

  • Width expands to your resolution
  • Comments read like a forum (first to last) without the option to enable nesting.
  • Side bar on left

Your thoughts are important to us.  After all, it’s what we say that is truly important to us.  How it’s presented should be more for our readers than ourselves.   You can vote on our forums and let us know what you think or post here.  If enough people are not satisfied with the new theme, I’ll change it back to the original in a heartbeat. [Read more…]

E3 2011: Nintendo’s Conference (Liveblogging)

For our final live blogging coverage of E3 2011 we’ll be covering the Nintendo Conference this morning at 9am PST. If you would like to join us in our live blogging experience all you need to do is press the ‘More’ button at the bottom of this entry. Join us and send in questions or comments and we’ll do our best to publish them and respond.

Nintendo’s Conference is the big one this year. They are the only ones announcing a new console and Nintendo has already said they are aiming at bringing back the core gamer to their brand. We’re hoping to foam at the mouth over what they have to say.

After the conference ends we’ll get our final thoughts on Nintendo written up for the blog and end our conference coverage with a final summary of who wins, loses, and why.

[Read more…]

Keen’s Predictions for 2011

Happy New Year everyone!  It’s time to make some predictions about the coming year.   I’ve given it a lot of thought over the past few days and narrowed it down to the following:

1. Rift – My impressions of Rift have been positive, although you may consider them tainted by the fact that I say the game is pretty standard fair.  I predict that the game will launch and, as I’ve said all along, be successful for those who like themepark games but currently have nothing to play like WoW.  The problem will be when GW2 and SWTOR launch and players have to struggle with this exact question: Why should I continue playing Rift?  GW2 and SWTOR will offer a big enough alternative to the generic, yet lovable, Rift.

2. DCUO – Unlike Champions online, DCUO will last longer than three days.  Graev enjoys the PS3 version and has shown me some great things.  I thought it looked like a lot of fun on the console since it plays like an action game.  I predict that it will be fun on consoles for a little while, but the lack of community will ultimately give players no reason to stick around.  The PC version won’t do well.

3. GW2 – I’m predicting a very late 2011 release conflicting with SWTOR which will cause issues for both games.  Something about the way the dynamic content and world has been previewed gives me a bad feeling.  My instincts tell me to expect an instanced world or one that isn’t truly dynamic but instead scripted (like rifts in Rift).  The PvP will be cool, for a while. It will win game of the year in the MMO circle.

4. SWTOR – Despite its use of instancing and singleplayer nature, I think SWTOR will turn out to be a lot of fun.  People who go in skeptical will be pleasantly surprised — myself included.  There is much to be leery about, but it will turn out to be nothing.

5. DAOC 2– Call it intuition, instincts, midi-chlorians, or just a hunch… I think we’re going to see an announcement about DAOC 2.  While writing this prediction I find myself suddenly prompted to predict talks of a spiritual successor to the original UO as well.

6. 3D gaming, TV’s, and movies are forgotten – I think it’s a fad.  The 3DS will sell bajillions but it won’t last.  I think movies and TV’s are secretly on their way out.  Something about eye cancer. That’s a joke.

7. Motion technology flops because developers finally realize real gamers prefer to sit on their butts. Need I say more?

8. Call of Duty 7… wait, are we on 8 or is it 9?

9. Mobile gaming will expand – With developers like Epic and id hard at work, it seems obvious to predict that we’re going to see something new come around.   What isn’t so obvious will be the style in which they expand.  I predict they’ll be less and less autonomous and be more tied to Computers and consoles.  It will be like remotely connecting to your computer or console to play the games you own.

10. Cryptic’s Neverwinter – Should I try and predict an upset by saying it will be good?

11. On April 1, 2011 Blizzard will announce that Diablo 3 is launching in November.

What do you think?  Let us know if you’re predicting anything interesting for 2011!

2010 in Review pt. 2

I did well in my predictions for this past year, but how well did I do on my personal goals and resolutions for gaming and blogging?  Last year I set the following goals:

  1. Play more console games because I am missing far too many great titles showing innovation in the gaming industry by focusing so heavily on PC.
  2. Be more open with how I feel about games to try and communicate quicker how and why I feel a game is good or bad.
  3. Evaluate what I want in a MMORPG.

This past year I’m happy to report that I played quite a few console games.  The big titles that I played and beat were Halo Reach and Dead Rising 2.  I’m currently working on Fable 3 and plan to start Star Wars the Force Unleashed 2 then Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood.  Unfortunately I only have a Xbox 360 up at school so I have to wait until April when I’m home for the summer to play games like Aragorn’s Quest and Epic Mickey.

My year in writing was a good one.  I had some months that lacked an that will always be a constant struggle for me to balance school, writing, and gaming.  There have been a few key moments this year that I think I did some justice.  It started off with Allods Online when I was in beta.  I reported to you early on that the game was excellent for what it was and that if they handled the cash shop correctly it could not only remain a great game but change my mind on F2p.  Unfortunately, the cash shop destroyed the game and I did not shy away from making a very vocal stance against it.  Despite being in the good graces of the devs at the time and finally having some peace with the F2P community, I was straight up and changed my mind on the game.  No regrets.

Another notable point this year was the transition of LotRO to F2P.  The stance I took then is the same stance I take now.  LotRO was a great game when I played and beat all available content, and for all I know it may still be a great game.  However, I firmly believe that making the game free to play ruins games.  It may make them great businesses, but it makes them worse off as games.  The interests of the devs and players no longer align and the game changes to accommodate a new mentality.   Both sides have their arguments, but the bottom line is that AAA games aren’t being released as F2P — that’s how they retire or reinvent themselves as a plan B.

World of Warcraft… the love and hate relationship that I have maintained with this game confuses me.  Bottom line, it’s currently the best game out right now for me to spend money on where I can get non-stop polished and high quality content.  This year, back in April, I told you guys that I would be returning to the game simply to enjoy playing something that I could rely on to still be here in six months.  That sentiment really hit home for me because looking back at 2008 and 2007 we saw nothing but one failed launch after another.  I’m glad that I was able to convey this point well enough that many other jumped aboard and created our Keen and Graev community guild called Happy Fun Guyz.  It’s been one of the best guild experiences I’ve ever had in a MMO.    WoW remains the best thing to play, but 2011 is looking up.

Lastly, I set a goal to understand what I want in games.   I realized that I do not want just one type of game.  They don’t all have to be DAOC for me to enjoy them.  I don’t need strictly PvP or PvE.  I’m playing WoW, come on.  Having played WoW for the better part of this year, I have realized how much I miss a game centered around real PvP.  I know that’s what I ultimately want again, but I’ve also realized that I’m okay playing games like WoW so long as I’m enjoying them with friends.  If I could have WoW’s reliability in a DAOC sandbox then I would be set.

Stay tuned for our predictions for the year as well as some more indepth discussions about where we see this year’s MMORPG’s headed and my New Year’s gaming resolutions!

2010 in Review pt. 1

Another year has come and gone quickly for the gaming universe.  Sometimes it feels like all these years bleed together and I can’t recall what released in 2010 or 2009 and sometimes I’m not even sure if I enjoyed this year of gaming or not.  This is why I’m so glad that I have a website where I write my thoughts because I can look back at the end of the year and see a clearly outlined narrative.

Each year I try, like many others, to make predictions.  It’s fun to see how close to the mark I was with my Nostradamus skills.  Granted, some of these are obvious but some of last year’s predictions actually have a little depth to them if I twist them a bit.  Let’s see how I did.

1. Star Trek Online
– I was dead on.  The game flopped with a resounding “bummer”.

2. SWTOR – Didn’t release this year and we did get an “after April” type announcement for 2011.  I believe it’s avoiding Cataclysm like it should.

3. Cataclysm
– This was like saying the sun will rise, but I was close to the release date.  My prediction of some huge upset could be the Real ID fiasco.

4. Free to play Games
– As much as I dislike it, I was right.  Look at what F2P did this last year: LotRO went F2P, EQ2 has a F2P option now, WAR is offering their first tier F2P, and we are seeing them rise.  Luckily it’s taking a back seat still.

5 & 6.
We barely heard anything about Diablo 3 and weirdly SC2 seems to have not made as big of an impact as I had hoped.

7. FFXIV – This one is where I’ll twist it a bit.  It did release in 2010, but did it?  They’re still letting people play for free and promises of big changes as a sort of relaunch are planned for early 2011.  In a way, I was right?

8. Global Agenda – I think I was dead on with this one too.  The game sorta faded away and even the developers decided to make the game that should have been made by purchasing the Tribes franchise.

9. PC Gaming – We had a good year with PC games.  There’s still great hope.

10. New Console and Zelda – We did get the Nintendo 3DS and Zelda was announced for the Wii.

Not bad if I do say so myself.

Looking back now at 2010, it wasn’t too bad for gaming as a whole.  It certainly wasn’t bad for console gaming which is evident by the massive stack of games that Graev played through: Halo Reach, Dead Rising 2, Red Dead Redemption, Mario Galaxy 2, and the list goes on and on.  We had Black Ops release in November for PC and console which I did not even know existed last year.  Cataclym’s launch in December is almost unfair to count, but it still slid in.

If we look specifically at the MMO’s that released, it was another year of flops.  Here’s a few that I know by name but there are many I don’t.

  • Mortal Online – Not finished and just a shell of a game
  • Perpetuum – Have any of you even heard of it?  I can’t call it a flop but it’s on the list because it’s unknown. I like it more than EVE but 90% of you probably don’t know what it is even about.
  • Star Trek Online – Just bad.
  • Allods – Confirmed that F2P destroys games when it went from awesome in beta to garbage at launch.
  • Global Agenda – All around Meh.

This year’s MMO crown definitely goes to World of Warcraft for being the most reliable gaming experience.  Say what you will about the game, but even if you dislike it you can’t deny the quality it brought to the year amidst a sea of unreliability and let down.  Despite my distaste for the path they’re taking, I would probably tip my hat to LotRO then EQ2 for reasons mentioned above.

In part 2 of my look back at 2010 I’m going to evaluate how I did on my gaming New Year’s made last year.  We’ll also be making our predictions and analysis of particular games and their potential coming up in 2011.