5

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!

2

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.

2

Keen and Graev’s Podcast Episode 5

We’ve hit a major mile marker for our Podcast!  Five episodes and growing stronger every time, the Keen and Graev Podcast is available for your listening pleasure.  We hope you enjoy our Podcast and if you have any comments at all feel free to leave a comment or email us.

Episode 5 Notes:

Introduction

What We’re Playing

Gaming News and our thoughts:
– The Orange Box is out and we have a lot to say!  We talk Team Fortress 2, Portal, Half-Life 2, and our initial impressions of Xbox360 vs PC.
– Gods and Heroes is no more but Star Trek Online is moving towards the MMO community at Warp Speed!  We ‘engage’ in a conversation of what we hope to see in STO.
– Warhammer Online and the possible delay a 2 month break might bring.
– Nintendo is looking good!  Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart

Discussion Topic(s):
– What type of game do you prefer?  We go into detail on the types of games we most like to play.  A dicussion on Keen’s multi-part article on our Blog.

2

The Orange Box

It’s October 10th and The Orange Box is officially released!  I preordered the package from Valve on Steam nearly 2 weeks ago and as a result was able to enjoy Team Fortress 2 for all this time.  Now that the game has hit store shelves the remainder of the ‘box’ was unlocked for us to enjoy.  Graev picked up TOB this afternoon for the Xbox 360 and plans to kick off his enjoyment with a little TF2 on the big screen.  In a way I’m somewhat bummed that I won’t have the plasma tv with surround sound experience but I’ve never been any good at console shooters.  There’s something about the analog sticks that I just can’t master.  Graev on the other hand is a wiz when it comes to console shooters so the decision was natural for him.

I gave Portal a try this afternoon and my initial impressions of the game are all positive.  It’s the most bizarre and trippy experience I have ever had in a game.  It’s not a shooter, but it’s first person game with a ‘portal gun’ that you use to solve puzzles.  I was surprised to learn the game has some sort of odd story line or at least a purpose as you go about solving these puzzles.  I had initially thought it was just going to be a straight puzzle solver.  Through the use of the most confusing system of physics and bizarre mind games you make your way through these puzzles/levels.  Definitely a very fun but gradually difficult game if you’re not one who likes to stop and think about what you’re doing.

Well it looks like Graev just launched TF2 on the TV so I’m off to look at it to give my opinion on how it differs from the PC version.  I’m also going to give Half-Life a try for the first time ever.  If it lives up to it’s name as the best first person shooter experience ever, then I’m in for a treat.

4

Breaking News: Gods and Heroes put on hold indefinitely

Unfortunately it seems as though Gods and Heroes from Perpetual Entertainment will be put on hold. You might be sitting there thinking to yourself “What is Gods and Heroes?” and to be honest I can’t really say much to answer your question. Barely in the infant stages of Beta and progressing slowly Gods and Heroes had a lot of ‘potential’ – there’s that scary word again… It should be a curse word.
Sadly, from the Official Site:

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend me your ears…

Loyal and faithful community members and Beta testers, thank you for your support, help, and understanding during the Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising development process.

The development team established some very lofty and ambitious goals when the initial work was started on Gods & Heroes. Recently, we took a step back to evaluate the competitive landscape, the game’s current state, and the overall goals for our organization. And while we are truly proud of and pleased with what we have created in Gods & Heroes, we also realize that achieving the level of quality and polish that we are committed to will take a significant investment.

The Perpetual team is faced with a unique challenge of simultaneously developing both Gods & Heroes and Star Trek Online in addition to growing our Online Game Platform business. After assessing all of Perpetual’s opportunities, we have made the decision to put the development of Gods & Heroes on indefinite hold.

I want to express my overwhelming gratitude to the community, engineers, designers, artists, animators, and the game services team for the support and effort that has gone into Gods & Heroes.

Moving forward, we’re shifting our collective focus, resources and development efforts to Perpetual’s Platform Services division and Star Trek Online, thereby ensuring that the game lives up to the high level of expectation set by the dedicated Star Trek fan base.

Again, I would personally like to thank all of the Gods & Heroes supporters who have been with us from the beginning. Hopefully, your continued support will be as valuable to our future endeavors as it was with Gods & Heroes..

Vade in pace,
Chris McKibbin

Honestly, for me, this is actually good news. The ideas, while interesting, were not really enough to grab me and say “Keen you must play this game!”. I never felt compelled to get into Gods and Heroes and some of their Pokemon-esque mechanics had me being skeptical. HOWEVER! Yay! Star Trek Online will receive all the resources and effort from the Perpetual Entertainment team. Star Trek Online is hovering really low on the radar right now and shockingly this is the biggest news I’ve heard yet regarding what could be one heck of a game. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for any more news regarding Gods and Heroes and Star Trek Online. Until then, live long and prosper Star Trek Fans.

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