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Showing posts from December, 2007

Do MMOs make you stupid?

We all know that MMOs can be addictive but does playign an MMO actually dull the brain? I followed a link from Tipa's end of year review to a post in her West Karana blog that I missed while I was away during the summer. The post is a personal reflection on various topics following Tipa's tragic loss of her father (many condolences Tipa) but one phrase caught my attention: MMOs (I have said this) make me stupid. They also take valuable time. Is this true? Is WOW the soma of our time? Are our middle aged brains being numbed into insensiblilty with a diet of mindless clicking through virtual fantasies? I have no doubt that my own brain is not as sharp as it was when I was 20. Surely this is a natural part of life. I like to think that this is more than made up for by experience (real world kind) that I have accumulated since then so that on the whole I perform more effectively. I would not be happy to think that I am accelerating the decline into senility by playing games. I

Jingle Bells

Its very late on Christmas eve (or very early on Christmas morning) and I am pretty sure I just heard bells jingling outside. I am off to bed to avoid bumping into Santa Claus so I wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Tobold Versus Raph Koster on rmt

Tobold is having a bit of an online barney with Raph Koster about whether or not real money transactions (rmt) should be encouraged. The venerable Tobie proposes two hypothetical games and asks readers to choose between them . In one game the economy is constrained in order to minimise rmt (lots of bind on pick up items, blind auction house, ban on grossly asymmetric trades) and one in which rmt is "legalised" and encouraged (legal rmt exchange, bind on equip epics. To be honest I choose neither. In my humble opinion both models suck and here is why: I want a game with a vibrant and unconstrained in game economy. For me the economy and the emergent behaviour that develops is a vital part of enjoying an mmo. Let people sell epics, let people sell levelling services. Shucks I want a game where you can hire other adventurers to go out and do missions for you like the "runners" in Guild Wars. I want all of this just as long as it is for " in game currency ".

Lotro: The Refugees from Azeroth have all been deported

Some time back I made a tongue in cheek blog post about the many f ormer World of Warcraft players who had come to Middle Earth to play Lotro . Reading that post now I realise that despite my feeble attempt at humour I had hit on some slightly deeper truth. Many of these former WOW players felts as if they didn't belong in LOTRO. It was almost as if they were playing it as if it was WOW expansion and didn't get the point of the game. Here we are some months later and almost all of them appear to have left LOTRO and moved back to World of Warcraft. I noticed this phenomenon among my fellow bloggers but I have struggled to try and decide what it means. Is Lotro a failure? Is World of Warcraft just better? Am I silly to remain on in LOTRO? I haven't really been able to get my head around this so I am very grateful then to Khan (Battered Shield) for his excellent blog post where he talks about this phenomenon and very astutely looks at the people who have chosen to stay.

Christmas Gaming

Its Christmas. Everyone in my household is on holidays and its a good time to get in a spot of gaming. Having reached the level cap in LOTRO I don't feel quite the same need to play it to the exclusion of all other games. I finally got around to finishing the last level of Company of Heroes and I should be able to fit in at least one single player game over the festive period. Two obvious choices are "Crysis" and "Call of Duty 4". I played through the demos and both look good. As might be expected Far Cry is a bit more subtle with options for stealth play and sneaking through the jungle while Call of Duty is a no holds barred all shooting all exploding extravaganza. Unfortunately though Crysis brings my poor computer to its knees so I think I had better follow DM Osbons recommendation and try CoD4 at least until I can afford a better graphics card. I may even try the multiplayer - DM Osbon Before I invest in a new game I really should cast my eye over the coll

Yahtzee You are a Superstar

Hollywood has long understood the value of having a superstar headlining a film but now it appears that gaming webzines may also benefit from the concept. This post from "The Escapist"'s forums indicates in an anecdotal way that their readership has grown dramatically since the arrival of Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's anarchic game review videos. Fair dues I say. "The Escapist" is a great read and Yahtzee is one of the best things on the web at the moment. Given the transitory nature of celebrity these days, particularly internet celebrity , it is inevitable that Yahtzee will decline in popularity when the next big thing come around. With any luck though a lot of the new readers will stick around - the magazine is good enough. Now I wonder which celebrity I can get to do a regular slot on my blog?

Guild Wars: Legendary Defender of Ascalon

I haven't played Guild Wars in a while but I often remember the game fondly. One of the things that always surprised me was how much time people spend in the PVE game gaining novelty titles and equipment that offer no game advantage. In other MMOs I have played such things are regarded as fluff and often looked down upon by serious players. Even people who do go for them (collecting rewards at festivals for example) quickly get bored and discard them once they are over but in Guild Wars the pursuit of novelty armour sets and novelty titles has become almost an obsession for many. Indeed in many ways these rewards are the "End Game" of PVE Guild Wars. Getting them is no trivial task either. Fancy armour sets (with no better stats than common armour) require many many runs of high level dungeons to acquire rare drops. The most coveted titles require many many hours of play to achieve. For example the explorer titles require a player to painstakingly walk their character ov

Lotro: Why are all the vendors useless?

Every decent sized settlement has a selection of vendors: Light, medium and heavy armour smiths, bowyers, weaponsmiths, healers and so on. Sadly most of them never ever make a single sale. Why? Because vendors in LOTRO only ever sell the lowest quality (grey) items. Once a player has passed the first few levels of the game they can easily get much better stuff from quest rewards, loot drops and crafter items. All vendors will buy things (bizarre considering they never seem to sell anything) and all vendors can repair damaged equipment (even more bizarre - what does a healer know about repairing damaged armour). The only vendors who make regular sales are the "suppliers" and "provisioners" who sell consumables for crafting or traveling rations . It is sad to think that someone went to all the trouble of designing these vendors and populating their their inventories only for them to never be used. I would love to see some changes which made them a more significant pa

Carn Dum: Throg Joins the Assault on the Witch King's Fortress

On Saturday Throg spent three and a half hours in the 6 man instance of Carn Dum with a kinship group. It was a pretty successful run - Several of us knocked off a few quests and one of our hunters got the rare "slime" he needs for his class quests. We had an experienced tank and healer who directed events (plus had all the keys needed to access the fortress) so it went smoothly. Highlight of the run for me was a set piece fight against the giant octopus who drops the aforementioned slime. Carn Dum is not a raid instance but it is a major fellowship instance with many bosses. It is woven into the epic storyline and it is the only place to get some vital class drops (but not funnily enough for champions). As keys must be collected to open access to the stages and as each boss only drops one critical item kinships can be expected to visit CD many time in order to allow their members get all the stuff they need to progress. I am sure it gets boring after the 10th time but I real

All I want for Christmas is....

Christmas will soon be upon us and Santa Claus is expected to visit the Mindbending household with a well laden sack. In a curious footnote to my attempts to interest my daughters in computer games they have both requested Nintendo DS for Christmas. They are two angels so I am sure Santa will be generous but I have no idea what games he will bring. It is fairly certain that Ultimate Mortal Kombat won't be included but never the less I am sure the girls will give their old dad the odd go on their consoles. After all having only daughters I am deprived of the opportunity to muscle in on a son's train set so I feel sort of entitled. In another pleasant surprise Mrs mbp, suggested that she might get me a wide screen monitor for Christmas. Such generosity will accrue her many brownie points I can assure you. Of course the choice of such an important item in a gamer's life cannot be left to chance so I have been perusing websites for recommendations. It seems that the sweet spot

The Noob Comic

I have meant to add Gianna Masetti's web comic " The Noob " to my links list for some time but never got around to it. Its pretty well known - I first came across it through a link from Blizzards website some time back. I'm a fan - I like the fact that it focuses on storyline rather than just a new gag every week. I find the weekly updates frustrating though - there just isn't enough in each weeks new script to satisfy. In fact I find it works better if you save it up for a few weeks and then read a whole bunch. On the off chance that you haven't seen this before then I strongly advise going back to the start and reading it all in a couple of sittings.