10

Keen and Graev’s Podcast Episode 3

We’ve made it to our third episode of Keen and Graev’s Podcast! We’re proud of this mini accomplishment and hope that our listeners have found KGPodcastthe information both entertaining and useful. Looking back from when we first started, as if it were so long ago, we really have come a long way. Creating a podcast is really tougher than I had at first anticipated, yet it’s much more fun and rewarding as well. We’re a few days late (again!) on this podcast as we try and figure out a good time for both of us to sit down where it’s quiet. For now you can continue to expect a podcast approx. once every two weeks. We hope you enjoy!

As usual, the podcast is available for listening right on the front page of KeenandGraev.com!

Episode 3 Notes:

Introduction

What have we been playing?
Keen: Rune Factory, LOTRO, Travian
Graev: Warhawk, Bioshock, Rune Factory, Monster Hunter Freedom 2

Console Stuff
Rune Factory – addicting farm simulator
WarHawk – initial impressions
Call of Duty 4 Beta – downloading now!
Bioshock – completed
Lair – soaring to new heights of disappointment

PC Gaming
Thoughts on Tabula Rasa? Flop or innovation?
Age of Conan is starting to look good. Siege demo with attackable villages and real time construction.
Vanguard’s potential comeback – short lived?
LOTRO Housing – loads of info!

Blog Pimpage
Darren from CommonSenseGamer.com – Are Bloggers press? Our thoughts on the topic.

7

Are Bloggers considered Press? My thoughts.

Darren of The Common Sense Gamer wants to know “Are Bloggers Press?”. I’ve asked this question several times in my daily bloggings. Are bloggers really considered a part of the Press? I suppose it depends on who you ask. Some blogs out there claim to be “the source” for all your gaming news and announcements in the industry. I suppose if you asked those bloggers they would say that they are indeed press. There are those out there who blog about games and their opinions on what’s happening in the industry. If you were to ask them, I think the majority would deny that they are press. Then there are those who just write about anything and everything from what they ate for breakfast to what they watched on tv that night and I am almost positive they would deny any press relation.

Some bloggers, when answering this question, have said that it takes a certain level of professionalism to cross the line from blogger to journalist. They obviously haven’t read some of the reviews, articles, and other writings from sites that are in fact “press”. The definition of press in the form of journalism is “writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation”. There goes 90% of the blogosphere! So it should be clear now that this is truly a subjective question and it holds no weight for “yes or no”. It’s up to the person writing a blog to decide if they are going to have an opinion. Personally, I read blogs for the opinions of others. If I wanted facts I would read a newspaper, the front page of Yahoo, or any other “fact” site.

Now where do I fall into this personally? I’m the type of blogger who writes about games and includes my opinion. I assume that’s why my readers come every day because it’s certainly not for breaking news. Don’t get me wrong though, I do state facts. I will give the information to my readers as absolutely positively accurate as I can before giving my opinion. I believe strongly that misinformation is just as much a crime as disinformation. The sole purpose of this blog has always been to keep our readers informed. We do this by giving information and then interpreting that information how we see it. If a game comes out we’ll tell you; and if it sucks you can expect us to tell you that too. I’m going to pass the buck here and say to my readers it’s up to you. If you feel we are press because of what you read here then we are press. If you feel we are not, then we are not.

Bottom line is that some blogs are trying to be press. We’re not… unless that gets us into the Warhammer Online beta quicker. Hah! I kid, of course… unless it really will get us into beta.

3

Aion – Just another NCsoft MMORPG?

At first glance it might appear that way.  NCsoft has been churning out the MMORPG’s now for some time and they all seem to have that similar feel.  Lineage 2, Guild Wars, City of Heroes/Villains, and the recent addition Tabula Rasa are all NCsoft titles.  Did you know NCsoft has another MMO titled Aion?  My guess is no.  I’ve been keeping a silent watch on Aion over the past few months and thought now would be a good time to shed some light on this silent runner.

From InsideAION:

“In Aion, players are divided between those that are “The Chosen” and those that are “The Fallen.”  The Tower of Eternity exists as a gateway into the Abyss, and acts as a portal between dimensions.  When a great evil opens the gateways, it awakens the Dragons imprisoned within the Abyss, who seek revenge on both worlds.  It is here that an epic conflict begins, as you take your first steps on a journey to bring salvation to the world.

Aion™ is the most visually beautiful MMORPG ever made.  In this ethereal world, you will have the power to direct dynamic relationships between angels, demons and dragons to control the fate of the world.  You will evolve Aion’s™ storylines through social, economic and cultural experiences that are both interactive and cinematic.

Experience an exciting change in the way players can interact with their environment within a massively multiplayer world.  With the power of the Crytec™ game engine, you will be able to climb sheer cliffs and fly through moving clouds.  From weather effects to heat waves to foaming shorelines, the level of detail you will experience will simply amaze you.

This game will transform the way you experience new content.  The actions of every player on each individual server will push storylines toward new directions.  As these actions accumulate, they will eventually trigger which will then further change the game’s economies and alliances.  Players will create their own distinct history and will have their names forever recorded in fame or infamy.

Aion is a game that knows no cultural boundaries, and will provide an art style, story and game mechanics that will last through the ages and be appreciated by a global audience.”

From reading this simple overview of the game I can’t help but think “Sure, this all sounds good but let’s see it happen” and I can’t help but consider the graphics and art style to be nothing new.  Look at Lineage 2 and Guild Wars and then at Aion and it’s clear they all have a strong Asian art-style influence.  It’s beautiful when it’s done properly and obviously by watching videos of gameplay and looking at screenshots Aion does it justice.  NCsoft claims that Aion will be “the most visually stunning MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) ever made”.  The jury is still out on this one.

Definitely keep your eye on this sleeper.  As more information becomes available I will keep you all updated.

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=aMXj5jG7sfk[/youtube]
2

Slow weekend update. Oh, and have a picture of Paul Barnett!

As usual the weekend has been slow.  I’ve been spending a great deal of time leveling my Minstrel in Lord of the Rings Online and finally reached that “I’d rather strangle myself with my own lute strings” than continue grinding point.  Little Oboe WonKenoboe (yep, I love my name!) is now level 45 and closing in on 46 quickly.  I’ve been leveling with my buddy Arkeo in Angmar and we recently made friends with a Champion named Yalp.  With the added and much needed dps we have been blowing through quests like madmen… or madhobbits.  When the GI Joe said knowing is half the battle, they weren’t joking!  Knowing where to go for these quests reduces the guesswork and time to complete them by 50%.

Other than LOTRO, I’ve been spending my time growing my village in Travian.  The game is really cutthroat!  Players will literally go to any length to take you out and anyone you ally yourselves with.  I have a feeling that eventually the game will become too much upkeep to maintain the fun factor of “not getting too attached”.

Now for the picture!  Graev sketched a picture of one of our favorite moments in Warhammer Online Podcasts.  We hope you enjoy and if we don’t have the pleasure of your visit tomorrow, we hope you have a great weekend!

bears bears bears

4

WAR interview with Mark Davis and Josh Drescher: Cross-Server queing, PvP, and Guild stuff!

I came across this video interview a couple days ago and didn’t think much of it until recently when I was reading up on WoW’s cross-server pvp queues. In the interview Mark Davis and Josh Drescher answer a few questions that I personally have not heard much about at all. One of those questions being, of course, cross-server queuing. When asked about the possibility of cross-server queueing Josh answered:

“The final version is not definitive. It’s one of the potential solutions that we’re looking at for mitigating queues for scenarios. We’re not taking anything off the table at this point because we’re looking at getting people into scenarios quickly and efficiently in a way that guarantees the most fun in the smallest amount of time in terms of waiting.”

Well I guess I can’t fault them for their goal. I’m glad their goal is to guarantee fun and I’m glad they want to minimize waiting but I’m skeptical when they are say that cross-server queuing could be a solution. I was never subjected to the cross-server queuing in WoW and from what I read, that’s a good thing. To me, it takes away from the intimate community and rivalry that servers have among themselves. Back in Dark Age of Camelot we hated our enemies but we also grew to know them and respect them… those dirty Albion scum. I knew the names of my enemy and I knew what to expect. Although I sought to kill them I also was glad to know they were my enemy; does that make sense? If scenarios are indeed going to cross-server queue then I fear that, at least for this aspect of pvp, the community will be lost and it will feel very without a soul. But in the end there’s little to worry about. Scenarios are only one of many ways to enjoy pvp in Warhammer Online and it’s not even been made official that they will cross-server queue.

Next topic! Guild stuff. Once again looking back at Dark Age of Camelot, guilds could customize their shields with guild emblems and their cloaks and such. Will this be in Warhammer Online? Josh did a great at, admittedly, dodging the question but he gave us a bit more. Josh said that they are going for what’s called the “living guild” system. In short, yes there will be customizations. When asked to explain more about guilds Josh said that from the beginning Mark Jacobs wanted something that was really organic that had purpose. Something with vitality that’s alive. “Living guilds”. Guilds start out and grow not just in terms of membership but what they’re achieving, how visible they are in the world, and show what it means to be in the guild and be working with the guild. The types of things that would draw people to want to look at that guild can be seen in the Tome of Knowledge. To see what the guild does, has done, and what you as an individual can bring to that guild, all this will be in the Tome of Knowledge. So it seems the Tome of Knowledge really is going to be an integral part of the game, as discussed in one of my blog entries previously this week.

The topic of competitive “league” sport type PvP, as seen in WoW, was brought up. Josh answered this so perfectly that I want to just worship him. RvR IS fundamentally competitive gameplay! “It would be weird to say that in addition to the fact that we are always at war with a specific group of people we also go out and play beach volleyball”, said Josh. He commented that it was “an interesting structure, but the competitive nature will come from RVR; WAR IS EVERYWHERE!” So there you have it. No stupid league sport play!

Now a very important and dear topic to my heart: Item Balance. How will it be balanced between PvE and PvP? Josh’s answer? “Very carefully”. Josh goes on to say that there is an entire team that focuses solely on this very subject – and they have gone bald from it. “It takes brute force effort. It’s the reason we’re having such a long beta period”. He talked about working with beta testers and that this is the reason there’s patching. Mark Davis, who was quiet up until this point, then spoke up and revealed that they have a behind the scenes metric that analyzes all of this and gives them information on how everything works. They don’t just have to just listen to people on message boards, they can see it in data. Beta players are “metrics” but not the only system for measuring balance. Warhammer is NOT a game about loot grinding! Josh said that in the end the best items come from the things that are the most fun! Great loot will be a side effect of the awesome group quests and other things that are fun.

I can’t even relate in words to you all how awesome this game sounds. From everything I hear in interviews, posts of boards, and from the blogosphere I am slowly losing the ability to wait patiently. So let me in beta already!!! *ahem* Sorry… momentary lapse of self control…

>