Bringing Back Videos in a New Way

Keen and Graev's Youtube ChannelI’ve given a lot of thought recently to where I see the blog going for the remainder of 2015 and into the near future. I’m always thinking about whether or not there’s something we can do to enhance the blog without taking away from our core competence of writing content about the games we play.

When Twitch was just starting out we dabbled into streaming a bit. I might consider doing that again, but a capable internet connection is not available in my area at the moment. Even so, streaming doesn’t mesh with the style of content we provide here. We’re not entertainers. We’re not serious journalistic types. We have always provided something that most sites lack; Something we have always been about: Discussion.

I want to start making videos again, and I want to tailor them towards a deeper and more analytical discussion like you see here on the blog. For example, when I talk about immersion and danger in a MMORPG, wouldn’t it be great to actually show that in a video and walk through the process of identifying those traits? Showing what I’m writing about seems to me like it can only enhance or augment what is already taking place here on the blog.

Videos were one of the biggest ways we kickstarted our blog’s success. Remember those Age of Conan beta videos I shot where I ran around the battlegrounds and discussed how each class felt compared to the others? Those brought in 100,000’s of views and visitors. How about those cheesy Allods online videos? I can’t believe some of them broke 100,000 views. The facts cannot be ignored: Videos are a preferred medium.

I’m not looking to provide TV-like entertainment or provide something you’ll tune in to every afternoon at work for a laugh or to distract you. That space is already monopolized and readily available to you on Twitch. I’m looking to provide something I haven’t found, and a space I think is empty and ready to be filled. I have the experience, especially in MMOs, to provide commentary on gameplay mechanics, design elements, and the type of stuff readers of this blog would want to see. My hope is that by turning my written-medium into video form I will be able to reach a wider audience to not only grow our blog but help educate and improve the gaming community.

The style of these videos will be very casual and similar to the “let’s play” style that has become popular over the years. I’ll probably throw an intro on there (with custom music composed by my Wife — she’s an awesome composer & arranger) and launch right into showing you gameplay with discussion.  From there I’ll just launch into playing and discuss what’s going on. I expect to probably have series going for games. I might have everything from an EverQuest series of let’s play videos to Assassin’s Creed. Whatever the game, there may be multiple videos and I want them all to showcase the games while highlighting that thoughtful discussion.

These videos won’t be super regular at the start. I can’t promise one a day yet or anything. I want to test the waters and get my own feet wet with figuring out exactly how I want to create them, but my goal is to eventually be making them regularly. They will be especially interesting and worth-watching for upcoming and newer games. I will be going through some older games as well, but will focus my efforts on what’s new when those opportunities are available.

I will, of course, post everything here. If you want to give us a follow on our (currently very out-of-date) Keen and Graev Youtube page please do! I’m also looking for feedback on a name. How about “Keen Insights” … yay, nay? The name might come later.

TESO Now Has My Attention

The Elder Scrolls Online

I’ve been a harsh critic of The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO).  I still stand by a lot of my criticism, but I have to point out that recent stuff coming out of Zenimax, specifically from the gameplay they showed at Quakecon, looks incredible.  One of my biggest issues with the game thus far has been a lack of Elder Scrolls feel.  I have to say that my concern might be invalid after watching this video.

Obviously there are certain mechanics that are more MMO than typical Elder Scrolls RPG (horses appearing and disappearing) but I felt the entire presentation was very much in-tune with the Elder Scrolls feel.

The combat in first person looks close to the real-time combat, albeit with hotkeyed abilities inserted.  I didn’t get any sense of button mashing action — actually quite the opposite as I saw countering, blocking, etc.  I think the archery looks good, and PvE in general looked like something I would expect from this type of game.  Interestingly, notice when he 2 shot that NPC in the beginning — that’s something you’d do in Elder Scrolls, but in a normal MMO it seems out of place.  I’m totally okay with that if the game is about evolving a character’s skills and not about leveling up.

Around the 16 minute mark and on there are several great looking fights against tougher mobs.  I love how the warrior brings up his/her shield and blocks — that’s real tanking!  The flow of combat is actually quite remarkable.  I’m a huuuuge fan of groups overcoming the odds and working together, and I can envision that type of experience if more combat in TESO is like these battles.

My excitement for TESO was fading fast, but this pushed me back up to the top.  Am I fickle? Yeah, maybe.  I know what I like, though, and they weren’t showing me anything to get excited about until recently.  I’m still waiting to see how much of this experience is entirely instanced, and how much of this world is open and explorable to everyone at the same time.  At least now I can be genuinely excited about, or at least wanting to see more of something in TESO.

Epic and Awkward ArcheAge Trailer

Graev and I just watched the newest ArcheAge trailer.  We put it up on the big screen, cranked the surround sound, leaned back in our chairs, and readied our minds and bodies for what was sure to be a breathtaking journey.  Let’s watch.

  • Amazing music? Check.
  • Breathtaking views? Check.
  • What appears to be a properly proportioned world? Check.
  • Drive your own boats and fish out on the ocean? Check.
  • Castle sieges? Check.
  • Dragon and epic monsters? Check.

… Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Our reaction was literally “Woah! Sweet!  Oh man did you see that? Finally, a game that looks awesome!  … Uh, did you just see cars? Was that just a family vacation?! The heck is going on here? The trailer started to feel like an episode of The Bachelorette, at which point we started to get really uncomfortable and avoid eye contact.

All joking aside… and pretending the creepy stuff at the end didn’t happen, ArcheAge actually looks like it’s going to be a freaking blast.  I get what they’re going for with the ‘we can create a life for you here’ vibe.  I appreciate virtual world, live in it and have experiences stuff.  I doubly appreciate the emphasis on things that weren’t combat based which signals to me that they are at least interested in marketing the multifaceted nature of their game.

Here’s hoping Graev and I can launch our vessel out to sea and set course for an island to call our own.

Foam Core Gaming Episode 2

Lego Batman 2 released Tuesday, and Gus is anxious to play the game he was born to play. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when a spurned Norm lashes out the only way he knows how.

Subscribe to know when more of Norm and Gus’ adventures are available!

You can watch all of Foam Core Gaming’s episodes here.

Episode 1


Foam Core Gaming Episode 1

Norm and Gus have aired their very first episode of Foam Core Gaming!  In this episode, Gus plays Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, a Kinect game releasing for the Xbox 360 June 19.  If you’ve ever tried to play a game on the Kinect, you may recognize a little but of yourself in Gus.

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