Happy Halloween 2010 from Keen and Graev!

Happy Halloween everyone!  We hope that you enjoy this holiday as much as we do.  It’s a night of warm chili and cornbread, apple cider, pajamas, and family for us.

Halloween, although not anywhere near the date when we started our blog (February 2007), has become a tradition of “where are we now?” here on the blog.   In 2007, when we first started the tradition, we were playing EQ2 on Antonia Bayle,  2008 was spent in Warhammer Online, and 2009 was oddly enough spent in Aion.  This year we are extremely happy to find ourselves in World of Warcraft.

This is not our first Halloween spent in WoW though.  In fact, in might be our third.  I can remember back to the very first Halloween event that Blizzard put on when the straw-man was first lit.  This holiday has always been one of Blizzard’s bests and remains one of the best holiday events in any MMO ever — perhaps tied with EQ2 and The Realm.  The atmosphere created by the lit pumpkins and how they have a way of making a simple setting like the inn in Brill feel eerily festive is really magical.

Some quality light reading

There aren’t many opportunities to write entries that present my views on a broad range of topics.  Often times someone will visit the blog and see my most recent thoughts on a single subject.  They may see something that offends them or that differs so greatly that they leave and never return.  The opposite is also true where someone may agree so wholeheartedly that they think we agree on everything.  Bottom line, there’s nothing quite like an interview to give a nice broad representation of how I think.

My most recent interview is with Chris from Game By Night.  I put a lot of time, effort, and really a lot of thought into answering the questions.  Hopefully this will give any of our new readers a nice quick glimpse of my thought process, where I’m coming from when I speak about a certain game, and some of the industry’s issues.  I think it’s a good read.

Something that I enjoy doing with these interviews is putting it on you guys to tell me what, if anything, you would like me to expound upon.

Game Watch: Worms Reloaded and Elemental War of Magic

We have two great games for you in this edition of Game Watch.  Game Watch is our segment where we look into the near future for titles worth playing.  Not just any titles though.  These are games you may not have heard of or simply haven’t been following as much as we think you should.

(PC STEAM) (August 26)
Worms games are always awesome. It feels like forever since the last one and this time it’s coming to PC through Steam. Worms Reloaded is designed specifically for the PC with PC controls and it gets all the Steamworks goodies.

The basic premise of the game is that you have a team of worms and you have to kill the enemy’s worms. You do so by taking turns using all kinds of weapons and gear while trying to get the upper hand on the map. You’ll get an idea of the gameplay from the video.

Worms Reloaded is bringing back a lot of the best gadgets (like the Super Rope) and introducing several new ones as well. It’s coming with a landscape creation tool so that you can create your own levels as well as 4 player multiplayer and a singleplayer.

It’s the type of game you’ll be able to pick up and enjoy for 10 minutes or 10 hours that never gets old. Steam integration is the real gem here since you’ll be able to get groups of friends playing together in seconds.

(PC) (August 24)
From the creators Publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire comes what we’re hoping is an equally deep and imaginative strategy game. This time the setting is a medieval fantasy world.

There’s really no better explanation than the official site’s:

“Players found new cities, research new technologies, study spells, build a family dynasty, engage in diplomacy, fight wars, go on quests and much more as they strive to overcome all enemies and dominate the world.”

It looks to be one of those great empire builders where you start off with a few workers and a basic civilization and have to gather your resources, establish your dynasty, and conquer the world. Creating and customizing your own troops, playing with up to 16 players, going on quests, killing special monsters, creating your own worlds, and an overall “more than 4x” experience make this one to watch.

Weekend of Gaming: Renovations

Last week’s Weekend of Gaming was neglected as Saturday was spent from dawn until dusk cleaning out the garage preparing for it to be finished off with drywall and paint. With that project out of the way, will there be any time to game this weekend? We hope so because we definitely have plans.

I’ll be playing the ‘prepare the house to be painted’ game. We just had crown molding and new baseboards installed throughout the house this past week. Next step is to move more things towards the center of each room. It should look really nice but it’s been a real challenge to do all of this house work while taking care of a new puppy, watching our older (and blind) dog. Add in that I’m leaving for school in less than two weeks and this has been the busiest summer in years. But that’s enough of RL.

My gaming will be sporadic, but I have some important plans. I want to finish up KotOR which has been dragging along for me. For the first time… maybe in 5 or 6 years… I have a backlog. I have Kotor, Bioshock, Overlord 1 and 2, and three or four console games to finish. I may dabble in Overlord, if anything. I’ll also get in a few SC2 matches here and there. I’m ranked 4th in my 2v2 random team Gold League division. I went on a 6 game winning streak but the strategy only works if I have a teammate who can hold his own. And, of course, WoW (which is hard to log into for only short bursts of time so I usually check auctions and say hey to guildies before having to log.)

Perhaps the most interesting game will be FFXIV Beta. Let me just say that playing in short bursts is not any way to have fun in this game. More to come on FFXIV after the weekend.

I’m checking out stuff on my iPad mostly. Chaos Rings is a Square-Enix RPG (available on iPhone and iPad that I know of) that I’m an hour and a half into and enjoying. Plants vs. Zombies might get played. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (XBLA) is also on the list and worth checking out for those interested in yet another good XBLA game. I might get some Mass Effect 2 in if time. I’ve been playing a lot of Monday Night Combat and will definitely play more this weekend too.

We’re settling into a ‘New MMO’ Slump

In the comments of yesterday’s entry I was asked whether or not I play MMO’s anymore because I have not been talking about or reviewing them (other than WoW).   My answer to that question is definitely a discussion starter.

What MMO’s have come out or are coming out, which I haven’t already commented on, that are worth playing?  That’s the answer and the topic of today’s post.   Simply put, I don’t feel that there are any MMO’s right now or in the near future.

Here’s a list of the MMO’s coming out that I am interested in and plan to play and write about.

Guild Wars 2
Rift: Planes of Telara

These are all games on the horizon… and the horizon is really, really far away. We may see FFXIV this year — maybe — but the rest I’m expecting early next year or even 2012.

We’re definitely in a new MMO slump. There are currently a few games that people are hanging onto, but nothing exploding with genuine mass appeal. For me it’s WoW. Why? It’s a polished game capable of providing a reliable gaming experience and I know what to expect. The population is there, the content is there, the expansion is coming soon, and the game isn’t suddenly going to fizzle out.

I saw this coming, as did many of you. MMO’s these days are lasting, on average, 3 months before the new MMO smell wears off and reality sets in. A mass exodus ensues and we move on. That’s not the player’s fault — that’s a problem with the games. The causes and how to fix it are a discussion for another time.

Until the MMO slump is over, I’m really not going to be hyping anything or writing a lot about these games until we know more. Occasionally I’ll write a responsive piece but, taking Guild Wars for example, there’s not much to say about one of the classes being revealed.

What I do want to discuss though are general MMO subjects. I want to revisit topics about the type of MMO that I want designed as well as current popular and unpopular mechanics.

Let me know if I’ve missed anything on my list. If you want to know why I’m not playing X or why Y isn’t on my list then ask away and I’ll tell you straight up.