We could be heroes.

coh, crowd control, lotro, melmoth, mmo, wow 10 Comments »

I’ve been reading the rather interesting developer blog of Orion for Lord of the Rings Online, where they are currently describing the process of revamping the Garth Agarwen instance and also answering questions with regards to Turbine’s decision to revamp a lot of the existing content in order to streamline it. It’s a fascinating insight into how things go on a day-to-day basis, and why and how decisions are made with regard to content updates.

One of the interesting decisions that’s been made is to reduce Garth Agarwen down to an instance balanced for three players, and as such part of the change is to reduce the number of mobs present. This prompted one of those daydream moments where the mind, as though reaching the plateaux of the rollercoaster of thought, is released with a hiss of opening brakes, pauses but momentarily on the cusp of a train of thought before plummeting down into the realms of flight and fancy. Looping the loop, it then twists and turns, throwing ideas violently from side to side until eventually it comes to an abrupt halt back where it started, and the rider sits there stunned as the realisation slowly creeps in that they cannot really be sure what just happened for the last minute and a half.

Still, as my mind staggered wobbly down the steps and away, vowing never to do that again, and wishing it hadn’t consumed that huge blog post just before taking the ride, it did manage to hold on to a small snippet of the short sadistic journey. Simply put, the thing that bothers me is that many MMOs rely not only on the Holy Trinity of classes to see them through combat, but also seem to prefer a design where players will only be expected to face one or two mobs at a time in a large number of cases, especially outside of instances. As such I think I was, in part, lamenting the reduced role of crowd control in many MMOs these days, where it is often eschewed for a more classical tank and spank routine and used only to deal with unexpected additional mobs, or in special cases where the encounter is designed specifically for its use.

One exception to the general rule is City of Heroes, and I believe it does things exceptionally well (as all exceptions should), not only in terms of crowd control, but also in terms of the number of mobs that characters can face once they reach a modest level of power. If there’s one thing that City of Heroes did right, it was in making the players’ characters feel powerful. Heroic, if you will. That and the astonishing character creator.

Two! The two things it did well were making characters feel like heroes, and giving the players flexibility in character creation. And allowed players to effortlessly team across the broadest range of levels.

Three! Three things… I’ll come in again.

Traditionally in MMOs the intended style of play follows the pen and paper style: you enter the fortress or lair of an enemy force, move carefully from room to room (each essentially a micro-instance) and fight the small number of enemies present there. The only time that rule is broken is if a patrol arrives unexpectedly, a low-health runner manages to get to another room and fetch some friends, or Knifestabkilla accidentally pulls the next room in the middle of doing the “Jump around. Jump around. Jump up, jump up and get pwned” dance. Usually such things result in a wipe, unless the party is lucky, exceptionally well coordinated or hideously over-levelled/geared for the content.

In City of Heroes, if you can still see your character under the pile of mobs that you’re fighting ‘you’re undertaking the task in an incorrect fashion’, as I believe the cool kids say down on the MMO street. Not only that, City of Heroes also has an entire class dedicated to mass amounts of crowd control. Admittedly CoH isn’t alone in this regard, EQ2 has some fairly strong CC classes, and LotRO utilises them to a certain extent, WoW used to make good use of it but seems to have let that fall by the wayside recently, but I can’t recall it ever being on the grand scale that CoH allows for. Which is a shame, because I think crowd control in PvE is a viable and interesting game-play alternative to the soft “Yo mamma!” control that the average MMO tank possesses. The controller could be the enabler to huge battles in other MMOs, without having to unbalance the player characters such that they must always face an entire battalion of enemies at a time in order to feel any challenge, and where any lone mobs would therefore simply implode the moment a hero arrived in their zone. Controlling a battle can be tremendously rewarding as a player, watching the ebb and flow of the various enemy groups and locking down those that might otherwise overwhelm your party, judging when to use AoE powers that will inevitably draw massive amounts of ire from the mobs when they eventually break free, and when to simply neutralise the more potent individuals of a wave of mobs – the healers for example – and allow the rest through because they can be managed by the tank-n-spankers. It is a style of play that requires an overview of the field of battle like no other, and unlike healing it would be very hard to reduce it down to a bunch of bars that you simply play whack-a-mez on.

The benefit of the Controller is that, as I mentioned, it is an enabler for ‘crowd combat’, something that I think is sorely missing in many MMOs. That’s not to say that fights with a couple of powerful mobs should be abandoned, but crowd combat is enormous fun when the players are empowered to deal with it. The down sides to massive crowd control are enabling a class that wields it to solo without them being ridiculously overpowered, and that if there’s one thing that PvP players hate more than crowd control, it’s even more crowd control. Unless they’re the one in control, in which case it’s all a hilarious jape and everyone should stop complaining about it; which is about the time that they get stun-locked to death and go off and write a roaring inferno of a post to the forums about how crowd control is overpowered in all cases, except when they use it.

At the end of the day I just think it’s a shame that most WoW players looked at the Leeroy Jenkins video as a hilarious comedy of errors leading to drawing the aggro of a vast number of enemies that couldn’t possibly be survived; whereas City of Heroes players were probably wondering when they were going to pull the second and third rooms to make it more interesting. I think players are missing out on something special, and although there are games that allow you to explore this style of play, they are few and far between, and it is seemingly a style of play that is much out of fashion with developers these days. It’s funny how, in a genre of games where the players are supposed to play heroic characters, developers seem to shy away from many elements of play that would make the players feel exceptional.

Apologies for the somewhat waffling whimsical nature of the post, when one rides the rollercoaster of ideas after having only just dined heavily on the words of others, one tends towards vomiting verbiage thereafter.

Posted by Melmoth at 10:31 am

He took my stapler and he never brought it back.

melmoth, mmo, when worlds collide 9 Comments »

“Ah Melmothson, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been having tremendous trouble with these reports, every time I send them out on the signature loop they come back in entirely the wrong order, and it’s making my life a misery.

There is a way to deal with this though. On the corner of my desk you’ll find a stapler. I usually use this to staple my reports together but it’s currently out of staples! Of course without staples a stapler cannot function properly, so I would like you to find me some staples and bring them back to me.

You should be able to find the staples in the stationary cupboard on floor three. Be warned though, the stationary cupboard is guarded by Ethel the secretary, and she doesn’t appreciate people taking items from the cupboard, so you may want to gather a group together to tackle this task!”

Collect staples for Big Boss 0/50
Defeat Ethel the secretary 0/1

Accept Cancel

<*click*>

“Excellent! Be sure to get a lot of staples, I have a whole stack of reports to send out. Come back to me when you’ve got them.”

[Sandra from Accounts has joined your party]

[Colin the Office Clown has joined your party]

Colin says “Hi.”

Sandra says “Sorry, need to go to the toilet, be right back”.

[Nigel of Strong Body Odour, has joined your party]

Nigel says “Hello, what we doin?”

You say “Staples from floor 3″

Nigel says “Oh, ok. I did that yesterday”

[Nigel of Strong Body Odour, has left your party]

Colin says “Phew, I’ve gone to floor 3 with him before and he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.”

Sandra says “Back. Who doesn’t have a clue?”

Colin says “Nigel”

Sandra says “Oh good grief yeah, he stinks”.

You say “Ok, I think this should be enough. Let’s go.”

[You enter the Massive Stairs]

[Sandra enters the Massive Stairs]

Sandra says “Where’s Colin?”

You say “No idea, he was with us a second ago.”

Sandra says “Colin?”

Sandra says “Shall we wait?”

You say “No, he can catch up.”

[You enter the Third Floor Reception]

[Sandra enters the Third Floor Reception]

[Your phone rings]

You say “Hello?”

Colin says “Hey. Where are you guys? I took the elevator and I’m waiting on the third floor.”

You say “We’re on the third floor”

Colin says “Really? I can’t see you. Oh crap, I took the wrong elevator; I’m on the thirty third floor. LOL. Be right there.”

You say “Ok”

[You hang up]

You say “Colin is such an idiot”

Sandra nods

[Colin enters the Third Floor Reception]

Colin says “Sorry about that LOL”

Sandra says “Damn there’s Ethel, she’s always at her desk. Doesn’t she ever go anywhere?”

Colin says “How shall we do this? I could kite Ethel around the corner by feigning photocopier death…”

Sandra says “No need, I have one of her favourite muffins here. We can give her that and she’ll be totally passive.”

You say “Excellent. Let’s go.”

Ethel says “What do you want? Whatever it is, I haven’t got any.”

Sandra says “Hey Ethel! Want a muffin? It’s white chocolate and raspberry.”

[Ethel eats the muffin]

Ethel says “Ooo, delicious, thanks. Anything I can help you with?”

[Defeat Ethel the Secretary 1/1]

You say “We need some staples please”

“Sorry, I ran out yesterday.”

Accept Cancel

<*click*>

[You gain 400 experience, 1039388 out of 20384740]

“Never mind! The marketing team on this floor is out to lunch, and I know they’re always stapling things together. You could probably find their staplers and sneak the staples out.”

Find staplers and collect the staples from them without getting caught.

Collect staples 0/50

Accept Cancel

<*click*>

“Great! Take the staples to Big Boss when you’re done.”

You say “Ok, marketing department for the staples.”

Colin says “I know the way, follow me”

[Your party enters the Publishing Department]

Colin says “Oh wait, sorry wrong way, LOL”

[Your party enters the Third Floor Reception]

[Your party enters the Janitor's Closet]

Colin says “No, this isn’t it either.”

Sandra says “Oh my god, follow me I know the way”

[Your party enters the Third Floor Reception]

[Your party enters the Kitchen Area]

[Your party enters the Typing Pool]

[Your party enters the Photocopier Room]

[Your party enters the Typing Pool]

[Your party enters the Kitchen Area]

[Your party enters the Marketing Department]

Colin says “Finally! LOL”

Sandra says “Sorry, got a bit lost there for a second.”

You say “No worries, we’re here now. Let’s get to work”

Colin says “Damn, I can’t find any staplers!”

Sandra says “There’s usually loads around here. I wonder where they’ve all gone.”

You say “This is ridiculous.”

Sandra says “Found some!”

Colin says “Grab the staples out quick.”

Sandra says “Got them.”

You say “Why hasn’t the task updated?”

Sandra says “Oh crap, they’re the wrong size staples”

Colin says “Found another one. Oh what?! This one doesn’t even have staples in it!”

You say “This could take a while.”

You say “Here’s one. Finally, the right size staples!”

[Collected staples 3/50]

Colin “3? Ahhhh crap”

Sandra says “Lookout, security!”

Security says “Hey, what are you doing in here?”

You say “Run!”

[You enter the Kitchen Area]

[Sandra enters the Kitchen Area]

[Colin enters the Conference Room]

[Security enters the Conference Room]

Sandra says “Colin is such an idiot”

You nod

[Security escorts Colin from Floor Three]

You say “Let’s grab the rest of the staples before the patrol comes back”

[Collected staples 4/50]

[Collected staples 14/50]

[Collected staples 17/50]

[Collected staples 26/50]

[Collected staples 27/50]

[Collected staples 28/50]

[Collected staples 29/50]

You sigh

[Collected staples 34/50]

Sandra says “Yay!”

[Collected staples 39/50]

[Collected staples 49/50]

[Collected staples 50/50]

Sandra says “Oh thank god, let’s go.”

[Your party enters Floor Two]

You say “Thanks for the help”

Sandra says “No problem, catch you later!”

[Sandra from Accounts has left your party]

[Your phone rings]

You say “Hello?”

Colin says “Security let me go, we still getting staples?”

You say “Sorry, we’re done now.”

[Colin hangs up]

[Colin the Office Clown has left your party]

[You enter Big Boss's Office]

“Ah, you’re back! Do you have my staples?”

Accept Cancel

<*click*>

[You gain 5 reputation with the Bosses of Floor Two]

“I’ve stapled all my reports together, thanks to you Melmothson. Now I would like the various reports delivered. First of all I need you to take these reports and give them to Little Boss and get them signed.”

Signed reports 0/5

Accept Cancel

<*click*>

“Excellent! Don’t dawdle now, these need to get to Little Boss post haste!”

[You turn to face Little Boss]

“What’s this? Reports for me from Big Boss! This is most unexpected! But wait, I can’t sign these reports as they don’t have the correct plastic covers to protect them from coffee stains. Go back and tell Big Boss that I can’t sign them until this is rectified!

Accept Cancel

<*click*>

“What do you mean ‘Shove it up your arse’?!”

[You lose 10000 reputation with the Bosses of Floor Two, you are now unfriendly with the Bosses of Floor Two]

[You gain 1000 reputation with the Disgruntled Workers of Floor Two, you are now honoured with the Disgruntled Workers of Floor Two]


Some days work feels just like an MMO.

Posted by Melmoth at 11:55 am

You’ll never warg alone.

lotro, melmoth, mmo 3 Comments »

Life goes on in Middle Earth as part of my further adventures in Lord of the Rings Online, for my character at least, I can’t say it’s looking terribly sunny for the general wildlife population of the place though. I think David Attenborough and Auntie would do well to take a visit to these virtual wildlife reserves and spend some time recording the mating habits of the inhabitants thereof however, because although I push a mighty wave of destruction before my dwarven bow, it never seems to have that much impact on the global population.

“A family of wargs. Here, in the wilds of Angmar, we see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. They stand motionless; for years at a time they wait in the same area which is often no more than a few meters in diameter; separated from others of their kind by a similar distance, they remain on the same spot for the majority of their lives. And do nothing at all. Scientists are unsure as to why the creatures have developed this way, but it is possible that they space themselves at exactly such a distance from one another in order to annoy the hell out of the other major predators of the wilds…

An adventurer. The master predator of the wilds, here we see one scuttling its way across the land, desperately trying to avoid the wargs in order to reach a more fulfilling prey. Despite its best efforts though, it has managed to attract the attention of several wargs, who now leave their patches of isolation and hunt, somewhat ineffectively, as a pack, in an attempt to bring the adventurer down. Most of the time we see the adventurer ignoring the wargs and continuing on its way. The wargs, unable to gain any ground on the adventurer, suddenly realise that they left the iron on at home, and thus turn to head back.

Sometimes though, on rare occasions, a lone adventurer chooses to hunt the wargs. Experts are unable to determine the exact reason for this, but it seems as though the adventurer has formed a mutually beneficial symbiotic bond with a very strange creature indeed; for there is a certain type of insect in the world of MMOs that is known for its propensity for real ale. However, these curious creatures are never found in the presence of adventurers, except in one instance: when they have given-up on their alcoholic tendencies. For some unknown reason, it’s these creatures that are held in the highest regard by adventuring society, and its well known that adventurers will do almost anything for them. Certainly if one were able to translate the strange guttural speech of the adventurer – a bizarre impenetrable language consisting of short rough words formed mainly from numbers and consonants, such as OMG, WTF and BBQ – and ask them why they were killing wargs, they would surely reply ‘Why, for the ex-beery ants, of course!’.

It is now, then, that we witness the amazing reproductive tendencies of the warg. For as the adventurer slaughters a path through the wargs, killing them indiscriminately, new generations of wargs spring into life behind the adventurer without so much as a “*bow* *chikka* *bow* *bow* *chikka* *chah*” occurring between male and female wargs. In fact, scientists are entirely uncertain as to whether there are different genders of warg at all, or that in fact wargs reproduce using some form of spontaneous asexual spore that produces a full grown warg the moment it makes contact with soil. The unwary adventurer may find that, having slaughtered their way through several hundred wargs, they are now trapped behind a wall of fresh wargs, all standing on their little solitary patches of soil. Doing nothing at all. They stare into space; possibly they are composing poetry, or contemplating the meaning of life. It is unlikely, however, that we will ever know for sure what these wargs are thinking.”

We here at KiaSA know what those wargs are thinking though:

“Those bloody adventurers! I’m not playing ‘Tag you’re it’ with them ever again. Every time I chase and tag them and then start running away, they just keep going as though I never got them! Cheating gits the lot of them. Why, if I eve… Ha ha ha! Here I come adventurer! Ha ha ha! Here I come!

Tag! *pant* You’re it! *pant*

Your turn to chase me now! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha… hey! Come back! It’s your turn to chase me! Oh no fair, I clearly got you!

That’s it! Never again. They don’t play fair, and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to keep running after adven… Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! Here I come! Here I come! Oi, Colin, leave her, she’s my tag. I’m playing with her. Oh, c’mon Frank, you too? We can’t all play tag at the same time. You two, stop it! I was here first, go and find someone else. Fine! Fine then, I’m going back to my spot, you two can carry on chasing if you like.

<yelling into the distance> There’s no point though, they never chase us back!

Posted by Melmoth at 4:00 am

What we’ve got here is… failure to communicate

eafail, melmoth, zoso 7 Comments »

You’ve doubtless heard about the latest attempt by a publicity department to make Bill Hicks seem like a model of restraint, the Comicon contest inviting you to commit “Acts of Lust” with a booth babe in order to win a “Night of Lust”. It turns out the backlash over this was just a crazy over-reaction; Tamarind, along the way to rather splendidly pointing out that they’re slightly missing the point of Dante’s original, quotes part of EA’s apology:

“Commit acts of lust” is simply a tongue-in-cheek way to say take pictures with costumed reps. Also, a “Night of Lust” means only that the winner will receive a chaperoned VIP night on the town with the Dante’s Inferno reps, all expenses paid, as well as other prizes.

See? Bet everyone who hysterically attacked EA over this is feeling pretty stupid now, *obviously* any sane, rational person equates “taking a photograph with” to an “act of lust”, and I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time I had a “night of lust” that didn’t include a chaperone (well someone’s got to hold the camcorder).

Just in case any future marketing campaign appears incredibly offensive, here’s a handy “Publicityspeak to English” dictionary so you can check you’re not just foolishly misinterpreting what they’re saying:

Publicityspeak < - > English
(example of phrase in a publicityspeak context)

Commit acts of lust < - > Take a photograph with
“To win a night of lust with our babes, post proof to Twitter of you committing acts of lust with them!”

Commit most vile acts of heresy < - > Say ‘strewth’ or ‘zounds’
“To win a night of being trapped in a flaming tomb, post your most vile acts of heresy to Twitter!”

Fabulous and incredible wealth such would make Croesus blush < - > Five US dollars
“Our latest competition offers you the chance to win fabulous and incredible wealth such would make Croesus blush!”

Steal a handbag from < - > Download from our website
“For a chance to win, simply steal a handbag containing an application form!”

Murder the firstborn of < - > Ask how the kids are
“Don’t forget to break the ice with our costumed reps by murdering their firstborn!”

Set fire to < - > Give flowers to
“If they don’t have children, you could always set fire to them instead!”

Pass Roy Hattersley an eiderdown < - > Pass the marmalade
“An eiderdown? I’m not going to pass Roy Hattersley an eiderdown. He can get his own damned eiderdown like everyone else.”

Murder a prostitute < - > Murder a prostitute
“In the most daring and innovative publicity campaign yet, sure to win multiple awards, we’re challenging players to murder a prostitute for a chance to win access to the closed beta, plus a lifetime stay in a maximum security prison!”

Posted by Zoso at 10:19 am

Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true.

free realms, melmoth, mmo 5 Comments »

Gamasutra, among others, reports that:

“Sony Online Entertainment’s free-to-play MMO Free Realms is ‘close to’ 5 million registered users”

as reported by Sony Online president and Arch Deacon of Meaningless Facts, John Smedley.

Do people really look at that and think ‘Wow, look at that revenue stream!’?

If they’d said:

“Sony Online Entertainment’s free-to-play MMO Free Realms is ‘close to’ 5 million baked beans consumed in the staff canteen.”

I’d have at least found it interesting, even if it was just as irrelevant with respect to Free Realms commercial viability.

Post the sales figures for the online store, SOE. Or if, as m’colleague predicts:

“such figures are locked deep in the Sony vaults, guarded by teams of Sony ninjas with orders to shuriken on sight. New Sony recruits are told “remember, MILLIONS of PLAYERS! NEVER talk of sales!”, with said ninjas ready to pounce if one looks like letting anything slip.”

then post figures of registered accounts that have been used in the last month. I hope you’re not including my two registered accounts in your figures, for example, because I didn’t play after the first day with my initial account, and the second account was merely created because I forgot the details of the first and I wanted to do a quick bit of research, many moons ago.

Therefore I suggest that the next time you, dear reader, see a ‘Free Realms registered users’ marketing ejaculation, simply substitute the following KiaSA Approved text in its place:

“Sony Online Entertainment’s free-to-play MMO Free Realms is ‘close to’ publicising an arbitrary figure that is larger than the arbitrary figure that Blizzard publicises in order to wave it around like a giant penis and beat other MMO companies about the head with” reports Big Arbitrary Number Poobah and Chief Irrelevant Statistic-wallah, John Smedley.

Posted by Melmoth at 12:27 pm

Wacraft: The Movie, part 2

films, wow, zoso 5 Comments »

We’ve snagged another scene from the Warcraft movie; set a little after Part One, our heroes found their final party member, and have battled their way into the Scourge-infested dungeon.

INT. A DANK CRYPT

With a jawbone-rattling rasp, a GIANT SKELETON clad in tattered armour, wielding a huge terrifying sword, leaps to the attack.

ASH: Oh, brother.

Bloody and exhuasted from the descent into the crypt, he desperately lifts his own sword to deflect the incoming blow. KLANG! FX: shower of sparks. The impact knocks Ash to the ground, the Giant Skeleton triumphantly lifts his blade and brings it down for the coup de grace but Ash desperately rolls out of the path. The Skeleton lifts its blade once more, and… FWOOOOSH! A ball of magical fire explodes in its face; cut to WIDE SHOT revealing FIREBALLDOOD, arm outstretched, fingers slightly smoking from the spell he just cast. The Skeleton briefly staggers, giving Ash just enough time to clamber to his feet and launch an attack that the Skeleton easily parries. The Skeleton swings, Ash swerves to avoid and lands a blow, but to little effect. He deflects another attack with his shield, but is driven back and the Skeleton finds a gap in Ash’s defence and opens a gash in his left arm. He winces. Suddenly from the shadows a black-clad shape coalesces: KNIFESTABKILLA, flinging himself at the Giant Skeleton’s unprotected back.

KNIFESTABKILLA: GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO

KnifeStabKilla slashes horizontally; he slashes vertically; he slashes diagonally; basically, he’s Connect 4 in dagger terms. The Giant Skeleton is briefly stunned by the initial ferocity of the attack but swiftly recovers and, with a ghastly screech, sweeps the Rogue away with a skeletal arm, slamming him into a wall.

KNIFESTABKILLA: OWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW

CLOSE SHOT as the Skeleton moves in on the dazed Rogue intent on finishing him off, when

ASH: Hey, you miserable bag of bones!

The Skeleton turns its head as Ash slams his shield into it; enraged, it turns its attention back to the Warrior, slicing and chopping, opening a wound on Ash’s cheek.

ASH: A little help here, guys?

B0WBA3B: o yeh lol

The Hunter nocks an arrow; cut to her POV as she carefully takes sight and lets fly; cut back to Ash, who turns to shout at his comrades, revealing an arrow embedded in the back of his helmet.

ASH: Not helping! Red, hit him with the hot stuff again!

Pan over to Fireballdood; glowing mystical letters have appeared over his head: “<AFK>”. Pan back to Ash, taking a beating from the Giant Skeleton, getting in a few shots in return but not enough to seriously damage the undead monster.

ASH: Any chance of some of that great healing? Y’know, it’s kinda the reason we brought you…

Pan to GR8HEALER, the fifth member of the group, a Priest dressed in flowing robes.

GR8HEALER: What do you mean? I’m at absolutely full health, I think I’m doing awfully well… oh, you meant heal you, well, I’ve got some spare mana I suppose.

Gr8healer starts chanting magical incantations; cut to WIDE SHOT as KnifeStabKilla recovers and resumes his attack; B0wba3b fires another arrow, this time actually hitting the Skeleton. Gradually the abomination is worn down, Ash attacking with renewed vigour as Gr8healer’s spells infuse him with vitality. The Giant Skeleton winds up for one last swing, on the verge of defeat, when…

FIREBALLDOOD: back

FWOOOOSH! Another ball of fire erupts from the Mage’s hand, slamming into the Giant Skeleton causing it to collapse in a heap of bones.

FIREBALLDOOD: my kill

Cut to ASH, breathing heavily. He sheaths his own sword and kneels to examine the remains of the Skeleton. Bending its bony fingers from the hilt of the sword it was carrying, he picks it up to examine it more closely. Cut to close up of SWORD BLADE, pulsing with magical power, Ash’s face in the background.

ASH: (reverently) Could this be? The wise man spoke of a weapon such as this, the Red Sword of Courage. A blade that imbued the bearer with great strength and stamina, and enabled them to shrug off blows that would fell another. A blade that would sunder iron as easily as cloth. A blade truly fit for a warrior. This must once have been a great and noble knight who set out to battle the Scourge, yet fell before them and their dark and evil magicks, doomed to continue his existence ‘tween life and death itself as a vile puppet of Arthas. With a sword such as this we can stand with renewed hope in our bid to drive the evil taint from this land! This knight shall not have fallen in vain, I shall take up his weapon and honour his memory, never resting until victory is ours!

Ash selects Need for Red Sword of Courage

B0WBA3B: hunter weapon!!!

B0wba3b selects Need for Red Sword of Courage
Ash rolls (Need) for Red Sword of Courage: 84
B0wba3b rolls (Need) for Red Sword of Courage: 97
B0wba3b wins Red Sword of Courage.
B0wba3b activates her hearthstone.
B0wba3b has left the party.

Posted by Zoso at 11:23 pm

Warcraft: The Movie draft shooting script

films, wild speculation, wow, zoso 7 Comments »

Doubtless you’ve all heard by now that Sam Raimi is to direct a World of Warcraft film. In a KiaSA exclusive, our operatives managed to swipe a page of the shooting script, so we’re very excited to present… Warcraft: The Movie!

EXT. DOOR TO A FORMIDABLE BUILDING EXUDING EVIL
Camera pans to Ash, a valiant warrior, square jaw set in determination.

ASH: I know now that there is such a thing as a living Evil. A dark and shapeless thing that lives not in the spaces we know, but between them. In the Dark. In the night. And it wants the exact same thing as you and I: a chance at warm life on this world. It doesn’t care that it already had that chance… once. Now we’re going into the Scholomance to take it down, and the gods help any who get in the way of these hombres. This guy is a rogue, a deadly master of stealth, the Scourge wouldn’t hear him coming even if their ears hadn’t dropped off a while back.

Ash is gesturing at KnifeStabKillah, a black-clad assassin who leaps high into the air, lands with cat-like grace, then jumps up again, and again, and again, and again, and…

KNIFESTABKILLA: GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO

ASH: Then this guy is a Mage, he may look like a sissy in a dress but don’t say that to his face, he’ll fry you soon as look at you.

Ash is pointing to Fireballdood, calm, still, barely moving.

FIREBALLDOOD: goin 2 get fud brb

Mystical glowing letters appear above his head, clearly the work of magic: “<AFK>”

ASH: And finally this foxy Hunter can put an arrow through an apple at a hundred paces, and her pet scorpid packs a mean sting. All right, let’s take down Darkmaster Gandling once and for all and put an end to the vile taint of this place!

The hunter, B0wBa3b, shoots Ash a pitying look.

B0WBA3B: lol noob i dun it 8 times ystday but my legs nvr dropped neway still need heelr LF HEELR 4 SCHOLO

KNIFESTABKILLA: GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO

Fireballdood remains stoically still.

B0WBA3B: LF HEELR

Continued in Part 2

Posted by Zoso at 4:18 pm

The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.

earthrise, melmoth, mmo Comments Off

The Earthrise folks are, like any MMO developer in the process of pumping out the hype rage, busy posting Q&A sessions about anything they can think of in order to keep their community from turning rabid and eating each other. This time it’s about terrain, the question begins:

“What are your plans for terrain?”

Which I like to imagine was immediately followed by the sound of running feet, a door slamming, and the muffled voice of a community manager yelling “Terrain! We forgot the fucking terrain!”

Massively titles it ‘Earthrise devs on how terrain will impact gameplay’.

How terrain will impact game-play? Do we really need the developers to tell us this? One would hazard a guess that, assuming they’ve not spent their entire development budget on diamond coated PCs and a giant inflatable bouncy castle filled with soft cheese, that the terrain will get in the bloody way when you don’t want it to, and otherwise stop you from falling through all infinity.

Posted by Melmoth at 10:48 pm

It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much.

melmoth, mmo, swtor 5 Comments »

The recent reveal of the latest offering from the Ravenous Hypechatter Beast of TOR, a video clip containing a lot of people talking about the vast number of people talking in Star Wars the Old Republic, showed many interesting snippets of game-play footage, albeit nothing that can be taken as a sworn contract of provision by Bioware yet, and this being the Internet, I’m fairly sure there won’t be any fans out there who have assumed that everything they saw in the video is now gospel and will be in the final release of the game some two years or more hence.

Oh ho ho ha ha ha. Ho.

One of the features that was fairly prominent, it being a video all about the splendid conversational phrases to be had in Star Wars such as “Hello”, “How are you?” and “Is that an Ewok in your pocket, or did you just forget to shave this month?”, was the fact that the Super Happy Mass Effect Conversation Wheel of Alignment Sparkle Time Fun was in full, uh, effect. As we all know, this is the central device in the game by which one navigates line after line of conversation for many, many hours of game-play in an attempt to get a blue alien chick into bed with your female starship captain. It also allows one to interact with other characters in the game too. Apparently. Essentially you get several choices of which way you can take the dialogue, and a lot of the time they will affect your alignment, thus you are often presented with three choices “Kill the kitten”, “Save the kitten” or “I am morally ambivalent to the situation the kitten finds itself in, but not so much that people will find me evil. However, certainly one couldn’t assume that I was good either. I will, therefore, neither harm, nor through an indirect act cause harm to come to the kitten. Unless it is during the process of saving a much prettier kitten”. In essence what you have in many situations is a voice actor trying to land a TV role by over-egging the ol’ thespianism, which you can skip by quickly clicking on the dialogue choice that most represents the way you want your character to turn out. Conveniently, in most cases, this is the top right option for Good, bottom right option for Bad, and the middle one for Oh Grow A Bloody Spine Already.

So what does the fact that the SHMECWoASTF was evident in the TOR video mean? Those of you who said ‘nothing at all, it’s an early release video, things could change a lot in the coming years before release’, well done for listening, have a glass of port. The rest of you, see me in my office after school. But what could it mean, if it were to remain? Well, for one thing, groups could be interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean the sort of painful hideous tedium one would imagine from not only having to wade through hours of hammed-up dialogue to finally get a quest objective put in one’s tracker, but having to watch someone else do it. One can only assume that the player whose quest it is will do the interacting with any NPCs, because otherwise you’d get:

Captain: “Ah thank the heavens, you’re finally here Jedi Master Ewokhumper77! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will you help?”

<click>

Captain: “You will? Thank you! Thank you! Go, go now and maybe you can stop them in time!”

<pause>

Captain: “… Um, was there anything else?”

<Ewokhumper77 points to his party>

Captain: “Ah. Right. Very well.”

Captain: “Ah thank heavens, you’re finally here Shagbacca! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will you help me?”

<click>

Captain: “What do you mean you’re entirely ambivalent to my situation? Get out of my sight!”

Captain: “Ah thank heavens, you’re finally here Boobie Fett20639! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will you help me?”

<click>

Captain: “No I don’t want to go to bed with you! I don’t care if you *do* have a really big blaster! Now get off my bridge. Yes that means getting off my lap!”

Captain: “Ah thank heavens, you’re finally here HanShotFirst! The enemy are almost through the bulkhead, if you can get there in time maybe you can stop them! Will… I hesitate to ask but, will you help me?”

Captain: “What? What kitten?! How would I know if I’m prettier than a kitten?! Go away! “

So you see in all likelihood there will be one person choosing the dialogue options. But what if the other party members don’t want to follow their choices? What if the Bounty Hunter is being a bit too ambivalent for the Sith Lord’s liking? Perhaps the best solution would be to have a vote on it, majority wins. Of course each candidate would want to be able to put their case forward for why their choice is the right one, canvass their target group, maybe a leaflet campaign. Sponsored messages could be posted on the Holonet on behalf of the Liberal Ambivalent Party, or the slightly more right-wing Sith Lords for the Destruction of All Kittens. Then everyone in the group makes their choice for which choice to choose, the votes are counted and then that choice is picked by the Leader of the House of Players. Everyone is happy!

Unless of course someone calls the vote into dispute, claims that the election was rigged, that many ballots were spoiled, and demands a recount. At which point the whole thing becomes a giant PvP bun-fight to determine the winner. In which case my advice would be, let the Wookie Party win.

Posted by Melmoth at 4:05 pm

Now we see the violence inherent in the system!

games, swtor, zoso 6 Comments »

The latest trailer from Star Wars: The Old Republic, focusing on the full voicing of the game, prompts a couple of observations. Firstly it suffers the traditional voiced game problem of referring to your character; games like Deus Ex and Mass Effect get around it by assigning your character name which obviously won’t work in an MMO, so we’re back to the traditional RPG staple of “… so, Bounty Hunter, you have arrived at last!”. Sadly I doubt there’ll be a reply option of “well you could call me Dennis“. Speaking of replies, it’s not just NPCs that are fully voiced but the player characters too, which makes me wonder how many options there will be; one male and one female? One voice per class? With voice being so important there’s the potential for it to jar rather if you can’t find a voice to match your idea of your character. The example in the video is agreeably Clint Eastwood-y, but I’d hope there might be at least one or two slightly more British options, especially considering some of the original actors: Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, David Prowse (“Luke, oi am your faaather”). The video gives us hope, around three minutes in, with the voice direction: “If you could do sort of a Darth Maul thing *and* a Welsh thing”. I’m not entirely sure how that turns out… “Right, boyos, it’s the Republic scum out there, let’s give them a right chorus of Sosban Fach!”

Posted by Zoso at 9:17 pm
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