Monday, June 11, 2007

Kill Ten Rats

My blogging has tapered off of late, as my virtual and real lives have gotten exceptionally busy. Militiae Templi killed Tidewalker, Fathom-Lord and The Lurker Below this week, making great progress in SSC on our mains. My alt warrior is now main tanking most of Karazhan, and raiding has absorbed most of my time. I just don't have a desire to reblog every story that comes down the pipe, and I haven't had the time nor inclination to think of anything noteworthy to post. I have a few thoughts here and there, but not enough to keep a blog as current as it should be for ones readers to remain engaged.

As it turns out, Ethic of Kill Ten Rats, was looking for a few bloggers to join their team, and I have signed on. I will spend my time their discussing the MMO raid game, and World of Warcraft, and would like to invite you all to join me at that site. My posts can be found here.

I do not plan on closing Existential Worlds, because I still have quite a lot I wanted to cover and discuss, and never had the chance to do so. There is mileage left in this blog, but I don't know when or how often my readers can expect updates. My work at KTR will stay there, and will not be reblogged here, so please come on over to Kill Ten Rats, and join that wonderful community.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Shit hits the game industry fan...

I take an extended break from blogging, and the industry falls apart in my absence. I must have been the glue holding everything together...

Well, so it could be believed if one read all of the shocked and awed accounts of the Death of Sigil and Vanguard, as if we in the shouting-class press, hadn't seen the writing on the port-o-john wall circa 2004.

Schlid was the premier source of information on the scandal, and the ensuing posts at f13 were of the highest entertainment value. Essentially every other blogger had something to say on the issue, and my links at the right would be a good place to start if you awoke this week and were taken by surprise at this news.

I did not feel any remorse. I did not feel any animosity, nor any glee at seeing this colossal failure come to its bitter end. In fact, I was so uninspired, it took me days to even work up the motivation to blog about it. You see, I had already worked through the stages of post-fanboism grief, and after years of spite, I just didn't have anything left.

I knew this time would come for quite some time now, as I am sure, did many others. I have a funny anecdote that I spoke about in my 'First Impressions' post on the Vanguard Beta forums after my first week in Beta 1. After two straight days of downloading, because the first two times I had tried, the client simply disappeared sometime during the 20 hour process, I finally loaded up my system, and sat for another four hours while it matched my client to the current version.

With the excitement that only years of fansite participation, hype and finally having a chance to test the new shiny in town, I rolled up my Goblin Necro and zoned in... nothing. I was hovering 25 feet above the ground, with a few players and NPCs also hovering in a similar fashion, at the edge of a body of water. I could see smoke and a few fires on the shoreline, but I could not get to them from my levitated vantage point. After about an hour of logging out, logging back in, and bug reports, I just quit in frustration.

Later, after slogging through the forums and asking some questions, I learned that I was in fact on a large ship at the waters edge, with a small exit door supposedly in an upper level, but the ship had failed to render and I could not find the exit to begin playing the game.

My First Impressions post basically amounted to: If very experienced gamers, who have been waiting for this game for years, get frustrated and quit in the first hour they see your game, you have very real problems ahead of you. Who actually thinks this is Beta ready?

The ensuing flames and venomous insults from the gathered forum monkey population, gave me the distinct impression that Vanguard was headed for disaster. I held my tongue and kept playing, kept reporting the same bugs over and over, and getting more and more annoyed until I finally quit. During Beta 4, I re-patched and rolled another Goblin Necro just to see how things had improved, and when I loaded in, the fucking ship failed to render, and I couldn't help but wonder just what $30 million buys these days.

I made this post when the NDA was lifted, and haven't given the game another thought until now. I don't think Brad is the monster or the moron that people are painting him as. I just think he was in over his head. I know if someone gave me $30,000,000 and five years with very few deadlines and no oversight, there is a very strong possibility that I would fuck it up too. I think a lot of good people got hurt and that saddens me, but the industry has grown up a bit from all of this. As an industry, we needed a Vanguard to remind us all that having a dream does not guarantee success, and that hype does not equal playability. Perhaps studios will give more money to QA and CFOs who are there to keep the rampant creativity in check. Sounds very boring, I know, but sadly business is boring. Everyone has a thousand great ideas. Hell, I have 5 MMOs in my head right now that would blow WoW and LoTRO out of the marketplace, but I don't know the first thing about assembling a team, and making my vision a reality. And therein lies the moral of this story.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Vacation & a social experiment

I am going on vacation and I am not sure if I will have the motivation to write while I am enjoying my time off from the grind. I have been busy as all hell lately and have slacked off a bit around here, so it won't be a drastic change for my regulars, and I'm sure the Google visitors won't notice the difference.

Speaking of Google visitors, I have read some funny posts around the blogosphere about where people have gotten some.. err... exotic traffic from. It seems our errant Google visitors are oft enticed by less than reputable searches, and are a bit surprised to find we are not writing about the games they had in mind. Sure everyone loves a nice sex and bondage game in the bedroom, but that isn't what this blog is about, so they leave disappointed and jaunt off to Google about hot sluts or giant boobs or whatever they are searching for.

Well, sorry to disappoint you, but this blog is strictly PG13 to R, depending on how strict you are about language. You won't find any XXX content or naked pics here. It's just not what we're about.

PS: If you found this blog post through a misdirected Google search, I suggest you try Second Life. It has all the content you were looking for and then some.

It will be interesting to see how many disappointed visitors stop by on my vacation... Google is an interesting tool, but could you imagine a world without it?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Of Dice and Men

Gaming for me was a natural progression from the pen and paper genre, to something substantially more persistent and available. My tabletop days were an era of my life that I reflect upon often and fondly, however my core group was often scattered to the four winds and thus, often defunct.

The founding group consisted of my brother, and my two cousins. I write this because just recently we had a D&D reunion of sorts. My cousin is getting married and for his bachelor party we decided to get the gang back together to consume alcohol and slay orcs. Eventually we ran out of orcs and built a bon-fire to sit around while we tried to finish off the beer. The game has changed quite a bit since I wandered the worlds of AD&D 2nd edition, where last I left it. We played mostly in Forgotten Realms at the time (yes, Ed Greenwood is a demi-god) and the flavor and detail of the campaign realm provided us with endlessly descriptive role playing material. Often we would spend hours just role playing our time in Waterdeep or the high seat of Cormyr and never encounter a single skirmish. Those were the days, indeed.

We adventured for years, often in a campaign continuation style of play, with perma-death being the only obstacle to greatness. However, as the years passed and obligations grew, our binge weekends became fewer and fewer. I tried gaming with other groups, but they often lacked the expertise or seriousness that I had grown accustomed to, and I often found myself frustrated and eventually gave up on it all together. Neverwinter Nights, Ultima Online and eventually Everquest filled the fantasy void created by the loss of my d20 days, and though it is hardly a replacement, time erodes those memories and one begins to forget the joys of dice and men.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Warhammer Online wins Existential Brownie Points

From the WAR April 2007 Newsletter (via Ethic at the KTR Forums)

It's been an interesting year for us at EA Mythic, a year filled with new
challenges, new opportunities and of course, a year filled with WAR! We have
watched Warhammer Online become one of the most highly anticipated MMORPGs in the world as it garners praise from the press, earns kudos from the community
and receives enthusiastic support from our partners and friends at Games
Workshop. I’m happy to say that the task of bringing WAR to life is going well
here at EA Mythic. However, we have important news to share and as always, we
want you, the WAR community, to be the first to know.

We have made the decision to move our ship date for the US and Europe to the first quarter of 2008. (Release dates for Asia will be announced at a later date.) Since our
acquisition by EA, we have been afforded many wonderful development
opportunities and we plan to take full advantage of everything that is
available. This includes taking several additional months to make the best
MMORPG possible.
I admire any company that cares more about the quality of the product than they do about their artificial time lines. This shows that they have a serious belief in their game, and its eventual success, or else they would just pump out an unfinished product and hope for the best. They are learning from the 'Blizzard model' and recognizing the failure's of the Sony style of production.

Warhammer Online is certainly on my radar screen, and has been for some time, but PR like this makes my participation in their release almost a certainty. If they keep up the good work, they may just have a game worth playing.

Magtheridon's Lair

In the bowels of the Hellfire Citadel, the fel demon, Magtheridon is held captive by Illidian's orc legion. Heroes of the Burning Crusade, seeking treasure and glory, are delving into the Hellfire Basin and entering Magtheridon's Lair in hopes of freeing the beast, and slaying him.

Recently we have begun serious attempts at Magtheridon, and while we have yet to finish the task, Militiae Templi are closing in on the kill. It is a hectic fight, requiring precise actions and timing.

The trash leading up to Magtheridon, are on a 1 hour respawn timer, so given the clear time, you have approximately 45 minutes to work on him, between clears. The trash is also insanely hard, which has caused many guilds a great deal of frustration when that window shrinks to 30 minutes or less due to excessive trash wipes.

The trash consist of packs of 3 Orc casters who emit a Shadowbolt Volley hitting everyone in Line of Sight (LOS). These can be interrupted by kick, bash, gouge, shield slam etc., and should be at all costs. They also Death Coil and Fear, making tanking a challenge, and they DoT the raid with Shadow Word: Pain, and Unstable Affliction, making the cleansing a bit more challenging.

Our strategy is to pull one over the lip of the ramp, leaving 2 and some healers below LOS, while the raid works on one at a time. It has proven successful and we can now move through the various packs in under ten minutes time.

Magtheridon is a very complex encounter. He is not pulled until you engage one of the Channelers which are positioned around the room at the points of a pentagram, behind five floating boxes that rotate like a Rubik cube, and emit a beam of pink energy at Magtheridon, much like a Drain Soul spell. Once engaged, Magtheridon will begin to break his chains and will be free in two minuets. Your goal is to have 3-4 Channelers killed before that happens, but it took us a few days of attempts to get our DPS to that point.

Position your warlocks and hunters around the room, while remaining in range of the kill target, and have them control the Infernals that are summoned periodically. The Channelers can summon two maximum, so at first you can have as many as ten in the room, but that will decline as your DPS increases, and they remain for sixty seconds. They hit like trucks and have various abilities similar to the Warlock summon, so be sure to Fear, Banish, Ice Trap, anything to keep them under control.

The Channelers heal and cast Shadow Bolt Volley, and the heals must be interrupted or you will not be able to DPS them down fast enough to survive the fight. Focus on the heals, kill them as fast as possible and move on.

When Magtheridon breaks free, the Main Tank picks him up in the center of the room and holds him there. Continue killing the Channelers. When they are down switch DPS to the boss.

The only other tricky element of the encounter are the clickable Rubik cubes around the room. They can be used in unison to banish Magtheridon for ten seconds, and must be used to counter his ability, Blast Wave. Blast Wave is a channeled AOE that is going to wipe your raid if you screw up the Banish.

Assign groups of two (preferable DPS or the Channeler tanks) to each cube, and a rotation for those two people. When Magtheridon begin to cast Blast Wave, all five people assigned to first rotation, click the box and channel for the full ten seconds. Each will take approximately 800 damage per second for the duration, so they need high health or to be healed through it. If one dies before the channel begins, a replacement must be quickly assigned.

After the channeling concludes, those players will be affected with a debuff that prevents them channeling for a brief period. Group two must step up and prepare to channel the second Blast Wave.

Continue this cycle until he dies, and loot your epics as well as your first Tier 4 chest item.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Walk of Shame: Sony and IGE the morning after...

After a passionate night of dirty incestuous relations that the editors of Existential Worlds have deemed too illicit to depict here (for fear of FCC reprisal), Sony and IGE were allegedly seen sheepishly walking out of their love nest. The walk of shame had begun.

In a (not even remotely) surprising twist, Sony has joined forces with the IGE network, to (scam) provide users with a new blend of (horrible) excellent Sony service. Not only have they raised their prices to continue to provide (1.5th) third generation MMOs, and (embarrassingly bad) industry leading standards, they will now provide their customers with convenient methods of disposing of their hard earned wages.

Ahh, don't they look cute together? I wonder what their children will look like?