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Showing posts from May, 2012

Avadon Black Fortress - Can a retro rpg survive in 2012?

I have been playing a bit of "Avadon, The Black Fortress" from Spiderweb software. This is an unashamedly old school party based rpg that looks like it could have been made twenty years ago but hides a rich gaming experience underneath its ugly exterior. With its strong storyline and deep character development the game reminds me of the original Fallout and even Planescape Torment which is high  praise indeed. I have about twenty hours played and I am less than half way through my first play through so there is plenty of entertainment value in here. Even as I was enjoying the game myself I did wonder if a younger audience would be prepared to see beyond the dated graphics and somewhat clunky controls. Happily Jeff Vogel the owner of Spiderweb software which created this game is a vocal member of the indie gaming community and he keeps an informative blog . Spiderweb is doing very well, thank you very much. Games like the Avernum and Geneforge sagas have been paying the b

NBI Wrap-up. all the advice in one place!!!

When Syp asked me to give some advice to newbie bloggers I found myself in something of a quandary. I have been blogging for almost six years but I am not sure I have gleaned any pearly wisdom in that time to pass on. That is why I decided to pick individual posts from the history of his blog that stick in my mind and in telling the story behind those posts I hope to have highlighted a few useful lessons. All that remains is to to try and summarise all the lessons here in this my closing post of Newbie blogger Initiative 2012. I guess the lesson from my first story behind the post is that sometimes events in a game can surprise you by raising real life issues. While this can be problematic for gaming it makes great writing material. My  second story behind the post has a couple of different lessons: Writing about a popular new game just after release is a great time to be a blogger and also if you get bored just writing yet another ten rats try writing in character. It might no

NBI The Story behind the post #5

This is my final story behind the post so I had better make an effort to give some useful advice for  a change and not just advice on how to write posts that no one ever reads! Checking back through Blogger's statistics this is my most viewed post ever: It is a tolerably competent after action report of a fairly challenging mid game instance in Lotro but it didn't stand out in my mind when I wrote it. Yet it pulled in a heap of readers and continues to pull them in to this day. Why was this post so popular? In the first place I think it is because it was a helpful post about an area of a popular game that many players experienced diffculties with. Those who struggled with the instance came looking for solutions and those who overcame it came looking for alternative methods. None of this would have got me traffic however if I hadn't given the post the simplest most obvious name possible.  Eve

The value of a Brand: Diablo 3 versus Dungeon Siege 3

It is not by chance that I have an Android phone while my wife uses an Apple product. After eighteen years of marriage it has become patently clear that we hold mutually opposing views on the value of branding. My lovely wife is a brand junkie. She has an inherent distrust of generic products and if possible she will always go for the most expensive market leading brand. I on the other hand am not so much a brand agnostic as a brand atheist. I actively seek out cheaper products and avoid buying the market leader ever. I will trawl the internet and walk the roads for lesser known alternatives and nothing pleases me quite so much as finding a little known product that costs less and performs better that the brand leader.   I am sure this opposition was a cause of strife in the early years of our union but 18 years of happy marriage has a way of moulding a couple's habits together. Compromises become so embedded you forget they are even there. At this stage we apply our preferences

Thumbs up for Dungeon Siege 3

I have just completed  Dungeon Siege 3 and I am giving the game a very strong thumbs up. As long as you don't approach the game with set expectations of what a hack and slash adventure should be then you will find a very enjoyable action adventure game with one of the best stories I have ever seen in a dungeon crawler. Mind you that is isn't saying much but it is refreshing to have some kind of coherent wrapper for your spree of rampant monster killing. Yes the game has flaws even if you set aside the prejudice that "it isn't a real Hack and Slash". The biggest complaint for single player is that the itemisation and stat systems are somewhat random and generally confusing. Nevertheless it is still a great single player experience. Multi-player has come in for criticism because it is a lot less flexible than it should be. You can help out another player by "driving" a character in their game but you cannot bring your own character. I can see the dis

NBI The story behind the post #4

You know you have caught the blogging bug when you start to judge gaming experiences by how well they will write. Getting pod killed in he harsh world of EVE is not a pleasant experience but the first time it happened to me I was inspired to write this post: . The game's lore suggests that memories are instantly tranferred to a clone at the moment of death but I used a bit of poetic license to imagine the first thoughts of someone waking up in a clone body with no memory of the fiery death of their predecessor. I think it works and I like the post very much. At the end the newly revived clone dis-owns the foolishness that got his predecessor killed. This was actually a true reflection of my own thoughts about the game at that point. Getting pod killed for the first time is a right of passage in the game. I have heard of several players who never made it past that point. Those who persist are likely to be pod killed man

Not THAT hack and slash dungeon crawler

While the rest of the world waits eagerly for the release of Diablo 3 next week I am indulging in a bit of Dungeon Siege 3 courtesy of a Get Games sale this weekend. The game got very mixed reviews when it was released so I am pleasantly surprised at how much I am enjoying it so far. I can see how it annoyed fans of the Dungeon Siege series - it eschews many standard elements of a standard dungeon crawler with very limited set of skills and no control over party members. In many ways it plays more like a third party action adventure than a dungeon crawler and indeed a game pad is strongly recommended even for the PC version. Moving quickly and accurately is  is all important especially in the regular challenging boss fights. To be honest I think I prefer this formula to the repetitive combat of a more traditional dungeon crawler. While I have never played Diablo 1 or 2 I did get sufficiently bored of Titan Quest not to finished the game. I finished Torchlight but I came to hate th

Single Player Strategy Games

I love the single player campaigns of real time strategy (RTS) games. Games like Homeworld, Sacrifice, and Battle for Middle Earth have provided me with some of my all time favourite gaming experiences. Yet I am almost embarassed to admit I like the single player version of these games because "everybody" knows that these games only come into their own in multiplayer. Everybody it appears except for me. It is absoluely true that muliplayer RTS gaming is very popular. Starcraft is a gaming phenomenon but plenty of other RTS series like Age of Empires, Command and Conquer and Company of Heroes have built up large loyal followings. It is the multiplayer crowd who contribute to the longevity of these titles as is evidenced by patches being produced long after release invariably targeting multiplayer balance issues. It is also true that single player is a much easier challenge than multiplayer. No computer can hope to match the cleverness and unpredictability of a skilled hu

NBI The Story Behind the Post #3

One of the nice things about having a blog is that it you don't always have to stick to topic. You may be writing a gaming blog but if there is some other issue you want to get off your chest or just to tell the world about then your blog is your own personal soapbox and no one else can tell you what to write in it. Of course just because you can go off topic doesn't necessarily mean you should. Personally I like it when a blogger allows bits of their personal life to bleed into their gaming blog but I suspect that a blog which strays too long and too far from its core theme is going to lose audience. Amusing stories about a blogger's kids or pet dog entertain me and make me feel closer to the author. Long diatribes about politics, economics or religion bore me and turn me off.  Anyway I have never been one to allow " the rules of blogging " to influence what I write about and this post about "The Dreamer" is one of my favourite posts even though it

NBI: The Story behind the post #2

Lotro launched in April 2007 and I played from the very beginning. The launch of  new game is a great time to be a blogger. There are lots of new things to write about and an eager audience who want to  extend their gaming experience by reading. Invariably an impromptu blogging ring forms and you can get a good amount of traffic by linking to and being linked from others who are writing about the game. In my fairly limited experience  I found that "How to" posts that are clearly labelled as such can act as traffic magnets during the early stages of a game.  However the most fun I had blogging about Lotro came from a series of posts written in character about my Dwarven Champion Throg . These posts never got me a lot of traffic but they were great fun to write and still give me great pleasure now when I read back over them. As post of the day I'll pick this one: A Sojourn in the Shire . I think I got the tone of the post just right as my proudly feisty dwarf considers t

NBI: The story behind the post #1

I started blogging in 2006 and this: Too Old to be Playing Games is one of my favourite posts from that year. I like it because it is  a story in three parts. The first part is a familiar tale of the pick up group (PUG) from hell. The setting is Guild Wars but it could be any mmorpg. I think is is almost mandatory for every mmorpg blogger to write about the downside of playing with random people on the internet. The second part of this tale recounts the silver lining when one member of that PUG turned out to know what he was doing and how he and I finished the quest together. We chatted as we made progress and it turned out we shared other interests apart from gaming. The third part ... well I think I will leave you to find out the third part for yourself but the third part of the tale is the one that made me think and is the reason I still remember that post almost six years later.

Newbie Blogger Initiative - Time to Get Blogging.

Have you ever considered writing a blog of your own? Well how about starting now? Massively staff writer Justin Olivetti, aka Syp, proprietor of the Bio Break blog has launched the Newbie Blogger initiative to try and encourage  new writers to start their own mmorpg blogs and he has asked me (along with some 70 other mmorpg bloggers) to participate as sponsors. I was actually surprised to be asked because I don't have a celebrity blog that has thousands of readers. Nevertheless I have written a lot of stuff here since that fateful day in 2006 when I tapped on the door and snuck my way into blogging . I have made friends through blogging and it has given me much pleasure. It has enabled me to participate in a community of gamers and writers and it gives me a platform and an identity in the online world. Don't underestimate the value of blogging as a creative outlet. Most of us never get the chance to really write stuff once you leave school so it is terrific as an adul