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Book 11 Preview and Housing Screenshots

I’m somewhat late in relaying this information to you all here on the blog, so forgive me! Last week I wrote an article for the LOTRO Vault previewing the Book 11 patch. It was quite a lengthy article given the abundance of new content and changes coming to a LOTRO server near you so instead of posting it here I’ve decided to give you a link and a snippet. If you’re interested in reading more follow the link.

…Book 11 breaks this trend and offers players our next step in this marvelous journey with The Ring. While I am often upset about the lack of things to do and often discouraged to see such a large amount of time pass between the additions of new content, I can at least look to this growing potential for success. This is what will keep subscribers and entice new players into the LOTRO experience. If Turbine wishes to stand any chance against the next generation of MMORPGs then they need only keep up the good work and make every Book a ‘Book 11’ experience.

In addition to the preview I have built a rather large collection of screenshots showing all aspects of the various Housing Neighborhoods. Up until today, in fact this very minute, Dwarf and Hobbit housing has been kept under lock and key. So without further delay I give you my screenshot collections and the opportunity to be among the first to see Dwarf and Hobbit housing in all its glory. To interject my opinion here – Hobbit Neighborhoods and Housing put the others to shame.

Dwarf and Hobbit Housing *NEW*

Bree and Elf Housing

Dwarf Housing Hobbit Housing

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What type of game do you prefer? Parts 4 and 5

It’s time for the next installment in my ‘what type of game do you prefer?’ series. I decided to combine parts 4 and 5 into one blog entry due to their more focused questioning. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the first three parts then definitely do so before or after reading further. Part 1 asked gamers to focus on graphics vs. gameplay and decide which was more important to them and why. Part 2 was the PvP breakdown where players had to decide if they wanted a gankfest, sheltered pvp, rvr, or absolutely no player vs. player combat. Part 3 was the solo vs grouping debate and where the perfect balance was for you. Combining the first three parts: the type of game I want is a good looking game that runs well with great content, where the focus is on RVR and fighting for your realm’s mutual goals. Any PvE content should be fully developed and friendly to both soloing and grouping and be beneficial in some way to both.

Let’s just right into part 4. I know that in Part 3 I told you this next part would deal with end-game PVE end-game content but I believe establishing parts 4 and 5 first is more beneficial. Part 4 focuses on death penalties. Which type of death penalties do you prefer?

If you die you lose items and experience. The harshest possible death penalty.
Death is a loss to experience and a hit to durability with a corpse run.
Only experience is lost during death with or without a corpse run.
Only durability is lost during death with or without a corpse run.
Death is merely a run from the graveyard to your corpse. Nothing more than a timesink.
If you die, so what? Death penalties are old and do not exist in my ideal game. No penalities.
Something else.

There are several choices and they are rather specific this time. I’ve tried to include every possible common death penalty that I can remember being in a game. The big debate these days seems to be if death penalties should exist at all. Players have moved into this new meta phase of gaming where they want everything to be convenient and not hinder their enjoyment factor. There are however still players out there who enjoy a risk involved. Where does your enjoyment end if you die? Do you want to have to repair your gear due to a durability hit or regain lost experience? Or like one of the options says, are death penalties something of the past? Should they be abandoned completely?

My personal view on death penalties fluctuates all the time – it seems the mood I’m in plays a key roll in deciding just how tolerant of death I can be. Lately I’ve been in the mood for some risk or at the very least minor penalty for death. I think given the type of setting you’re in this can vary, but I a run from the graveyard to your corpse is a given. However, I am no longer a fan of experience loss. Back when I was younger and devoted probably 15 hours a day to Everquest I could deal with experience loss in stride. Now it seems when I play my time is slightly more precious to me so the thought of losing that time in an exp penalty does not sound fun. I would go for a light penalty in the form of a corpse run. I believe strongly though that your gear should remain on the corpse until you get back to it. In order to avoid your gear being stuck on a body that is irretrievable you can have it summoned to the graveyard for a durability hit to your gear.

Moving on to Part 5 we deal with a very specific game mechanic – Gear Binding. What type of binding do you prefer:

There should be gear that binds on equip and acquire, as well as no-trade throughout the game.
Good gear should bind on equip, but be tradeable.
Good gear should bind on acquire.
Nothing should bind ever.
Crafted gear should bind, but nothing else.
Something else.

Now there’s a toughy. Should gear bind when you put it on? Should there be gear that magically attaches itself to you permanently when you pick it up? Again this might deal with the type of game you are playing whether it be a scifi or fantasy type game, but this principle is still capable of being present in most all MMO type games. The economy is affected greatly by the decision to include or exclude binding. In Everquest since there were so few binding items it felt like money or currency had zero value. Items became valued based on their rarity and the world turned into a barter system. Crafting is also directly affected. If nothing that a crafter makes binds then eventually the market is saturated with hand-me-downs and crafters are obsolete.

I wrote on article on this back in September called “Don’t bind on me!“. I was very much against binding but I think my opinion has shifted slightly. I think there are some items that should definitely bind. The very hard to obtain gear should bind on acquire to increase it’s “ooo ahh”. Quest related gear, whether it be epic or otherwise should also bind on acquire. Crafted gear should bind on equip. I think that the majority, if not most all, of gear should be available to everyone in some form or another. It makes for a better rvr game (my choice of game) and a good economy.

Combining all previous parts into one description, the type of game I prefer is: a good looking game that runs well with great content, where the focus is on RVR and fighting for your realm’s mutual goals. Any PvE content should be fully developed and friendly to both soloing and grouping and be beneficial in some way to both. The death penalty should be light yet reasonable enough to discourage death. Certain items should bind on acquire/equip but in general gear should be available to everyone.

What do you think?  I would really like to learn more about where players stand today regarding death penalties and binding.  Remember, there are no right or wrong answers because we are simply building a theory on what our favorite or preferred game would be.  Any feedback is welcomed.  Part 6 will definitely deal with end-game PvE content and should be up tomorrow.

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Neverquest, Medal of Homer, and a whole lot more!

Heard much about The Simpsons Game?  It’s been out there in the gaming community for months but I’m just now being sucked into hype mode.  The Official site has several sections for Neverquest, Medal of Homer, Mob Rules, Super Happy Fun Fun Game, and more.  It looks like it could be a load of fun.
This first teaser trailer for the Simpsons Game features an Everquest/Fantasy MMO genre parody.  In the trailer there are several subtleties that only someone as nerdy as us would get and a few things that many would pick up on as well.  You shall not pass…..wind!  I’m looking forward to playing Neverquest. 😉

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=9toeakmURqI[/youtube]

This next trailer blew my mind.  As a fan of the Medal of Honor series and this type of game in general, how can this not get you excited?!  “Oh look at me, I’m france! I’m a scared girl!  I don’t like being bombed and attacked!”

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=fzvqzdWMjz0[/youtube]

Yet another game that I’m going to have to pre-order.

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A dash of this and that!

What have I been up to you ask?  Gosh, there are so many different things I’ve been up to lately that I have even found it difficult to write on the blog – there’s just not one particular thing that jumps out and me and demands that I write anything thought provoking.  Graev decided that while he really enjoys TF2 on the Xbox360 it wouldn’t hurt to pick up another copy via Steam so that he could play with me.  Today we spent many hours playing together shooting our way through Dustbowl and our other favorite maps.  The general consensus is that (like we said in the podcast) TF2 looks great on both systems, runs well on both systems, but if we had to choose one as being ‘better’ then it would be the PC due to more players per game and less chance for lag.  The Xbox360 sorta lives up to it’s reputation as having a jittery lag at release of online shooters.

Other than TF2 I’ve been chipping away at Half-Life 2 and it’s definitely living up to it’s name as one of the best single player shooters experiences out there.  The game performs well on my system and has a really nice physics system along with the best AI I’ve seen in a while.  I’m impressed with the constant ‘in your face’ experiences that they seem to throw at you almost relentlessly.  And not to beat the Orange Box topic to death – Portal has been loads of fun and I’m working my way through the puzzles one at a time.  I think I’ve found my “mess around for an hour” game.

As for MMOs I seem to be in a slump.  Lord of the Rings Online is losing it’s appeal that it had restored a few weeks ago and I fear without the patch I might cancel soon.  My friends have all but quit and as usual when faced with the decision of playing alone (not really alone… I have a guild but… yeah..) I usually cancel my account.  Other than LOTRO I tried to get into Tabula Rasa but there was simply no hook for me.  The game’s general idea and my ‘keen’ curiosity got the better of me so I gave TR a try.  Playing for about 15 minutes I knew the game wasn’t a match for me.  I played a little more and decided to simply uninstall the beta; which I have 4-5 invites to for some reason…. how have they invited me this many time?  So without the chance of an invite to Warhammer Online I am simply left waiting for either LOTRO to pick back up again or for another MMO to spring up out of the woodwork.

On a completely different note, I’ve been getting into the idea of starting a little Pen and Paper gaming club with my online buds.  We’re debating the use of either Open RPG or Fantasy Grounds.  Anyone had experience with either of these?  Fantasy Grounds requires that you buy a license and Open RPG is completely free… tough choice when the one that costs $$ is much more catered to what we’re looking at doing.  So to pay $30 or not to pay… that is the question.  Anyway, the idea of P&P style gaming sounds fun right now.  A little oldschool imagination in a world created by one of us could have some interesting possibilities.  I’m toying with the idea of some bizarre combination like Gnome Ranger… that could be cool.

I think that’s really all I’ve been doing gaming related.  Lately my interest in Star Trek: The Next Generation has prompted me to watch the movies and the series on G4.  There’s something so incredibly good about TNG – maybe it’s Patrick Stewart (who is an amazing actor) or Brent Spiner as Data that keeps me watching.. they’re both awesome!  Now I’m all psyched for Star Trek Online. 😛  In our Podcast this week Graev and I discussed a few of our ‘hope for’s’ in STO.  We want to be able to crew a galaxy class ship or something close to it with a group or guild.  If we’re limited to small little single person ships that act as our avatars there’s going to be a great deal of angry Trekkys.

Alrighty, that’s my ramble for the evening.  If you don’t happen to get lost and find yourself at our blog I hope you have a great weekend!

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Oh my gawd – EA buys Bioware

Electronic Arts just announced that they have “acquired” both BioWare and Pandemic Studios. The word acquired only works if you don’t consider buying up the stock of another company as a complete and total takeover. EA bought VG holding Corp which owns both companies. I see this as the next step in EA’s total gaming world takeover.

“These are two of the most respected studios in the industry and I’m glad to be working with them again. They’ll make a strong contribution to our strategic growth initiatives on quality, online gaming and developing new intellectual properties,” said John Riccitiello, EA’s Chief Executive Officer. “We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders.”

“Pandemic Studios remains focused on attracting the best talent and creating blockbuster action games,” said Josh Resnick, President and Co-founder of Pandemic Studios. “As a worldwide publishing leader, EA represents the ideal partner to bring our titles to market as global entertainment events.”

“We are truly excited by John Riccitiello’s new vision for EA,” said Ray Muzyka, Co-founder and CEO of BioWare Corp. “This vision is consistent with BioWare’s focus on crafting the highest quality story-driven games in the world. It will enable us to further the careers of the passionate, creative and hard working teams at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin.”

Apparently EA payed $620 Million to the stockholders and then another $155 to certain employees of VG Holding. In addition to all that cash they’re shelling out another $35 million loan to VG. My gosh… This is certainly interesting information, to me at least, given that EA now holds one major MMO Release (Warhammer) and now another with Bioware’s highly anticipated unannounced MMO. Right now I have mixed feelings on the whole situation. EA has so far been fine on the EA Mythic front but the game is still in development and we haven’t seen much of EA at all. I’m interested to know what this will do to Bioware. I can see it now… multi-platform MicroTransaction ridden MMO… ugh.

I think I just heard Darth Vader in the background screaming “NooOOoooOOoooo!”. Oh wait, that was Graev.

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