Planetside v2

The original PS was my first MMO game, MMO in the sense that the world was massive, it was persistent and the theatre of combat was continually shifting and evolving. The game remains the place that spent a large potion of my 20’s, when I wasn’t working, I was on Auraxis, fighting, laughing and making friends with a group of players who remain a big part of my gaming life.

Planetside 2 isn’t a successor, but as the title implies it’s a reboot of the franchise bypassing all of the awkward elements that were shoehorned into the game which had the same effect as the NGE had on Star Wars Galaxies. This is making the world as it would have been made in the original version had technology been available, everything is super sized, from the buildings to the landscapes.

SOE has been rather sneaky and rather than leap into newer versions of Direct X the engine runs on DX9, which for anyone with a modern rig you can run at high end settings without too much trouble, this of course means that older machine should be capable of running the game.

However there a number of elements of Planetside 2 that I haven’t got to grips with yet.

1) Server bound characters
This is a normal practice in MMOs, yet this move in PS2 is hampered by the fact there are limited number of continents on a server thus resulting in locks and queues. Yes I know there were queues for continents in the original game, but you could still get onto the server even if you had to fight in a less populated battle. This new system instantly means that at peak time, not only can you not get to the main fight you can’t even join your outfit and have to fight elsewhere, to me this is a step backwards in character/server configuration.
Maybe just another cheap trick to incentivise players to opt for membership/VIP status.

2) Target audience
PS2 is targeted at more main stream FPS gamers, drawing from players of Call of Duty and Battlefield, this is a both a good and bad thing. Planetside requires team work in order to maximise the enjoyment gained and to also to achieve objectives. A big problem is that standard FPS games allow casual players to join matches solo and work towards a team objective with little or no interaction with fellow gamers.
Players who arrive with that attitude will find the game difficult maybe even boring
It is clear to see this selfish approach with simple acts such as not offering transport when you are commanding a vehicle with 11 empty seats, to the Zerg mentality that didn’t that much fun to watch or endure.

3) Pay wall versus idiot haven
As other games have proven Free to Play titles face a problem griefers, the effect of removing the pay barrier results in a large number of persons who are out to misbehave to the detriment of other players.
This even appears in the form of rage over perceived kill stealing, twice in the last week have I been gunned down due to some moron missing out on a kill (I believe), not that conducive to happy game.

4) Interfarm
As veteran players will recall the interlink farm was a time sink and primarily used for all those kill whore players to add some more figures to their kill streak. In PS2 the tech plant appears to have filled this role, however there is a stark difference between the games that means in PS2 camping out in a base to farm enemies for XP is a cost that is paid via the loss of other regions.
In the original game the lattice system meant that you didn’t lose too much from a little Interfarm now and again, where-as last night I watched as territories were taken all around us, yet the double XP kept a large chunk of players in one location.

Those as are the biggest issues I have with the game, there are other nigglingly points that aren’t worth pointing out at this time.

PS & Me

Maybe my reason for playing this game has changed, my definition of enjoyment certainly has compared to others. For example last night we end up in a techplant farm, after 25 minutes I commented that we should leave but the feedback from an outfit member was that the “Alamo” situation was the best place to be during double XP.

I promptly redeployed elsewhere, rather gutted that others seem to get more enjoyment out of  a repetitive and mundane battle rather than using some initiative.

 

The game is wonderfully detailed and allows for battles on a scale that we have never seen before, but for me the f2p design leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, which I’m not completely sure if it’s a long term thing at this time.

Farewell Rogue Isles

On Saturday the 1st of December NCSoft pulled the plug on the City of Heroes franchise. But there wasn’t just one game that disappeared last weekend, it’s sister game City of Villains also took it’s final bow on the MMO stage.

In this household we always favoured the red side (villians) rather than the blue side (heroes) , I always found the story was always grittier, the choices more severe and in some cases downright evil and malicious. For me the main reason is that plenty of MMOs that allow you to play or become a Hero figure, yet there are few that let you be the Villain, plus the game allowed you to make a pretty mean looking villain.

So in a tribute to the Rogue Isles I tasked myself with making a video to capture some of the key locations of the Rogue Isles. I filmed for a good couple of weeks to get the right shots and scenes that I wanted, but had some issues with the format of the recording which only found out after recording quite a bit. I have to admit it was very tough filming with the knowledge that the game was due to close soon.

Finally it came to the hardest part, the music selection. I had a huge short-list but narrowed it down to two tracks, both that I felt captured the feelings and mood of the players impacted by the closure. I struggled to decide which to use and I happened to notice that the tracks were exactly the same length, so rather than make the choice between tracks, I have release both versions.

I hope that you find the time to watch both versions and crank up the video quality too 🙂

1) Version 1 – this is has the track “From my hands” by VNV Nation, the music and vocals are eerily beautiful and the lyrics summed up my feelings on the game going.

2) Version 2 – this is has the track “As it fades” by VNV Nation, this is an instrumental track with a synth-choral layer that makes the track almost angelic sounding.
It seems the song is blocked in Germany, sorry folks.

A big thanks to @samuraiko for her invaluable help getting the videos completed.

As if by magic

Well that’s my annual “can’t be arsed to blog” period over with.

A quick update on my gaming habits of late:

I’ve not resubbed to Secret World as I’d not played it in such a long time, a shame as the concept and world were fantastic yet the game felt like a single player game with the difficulty set to MMO. I could run quests but the mobs took such a beating as you progressed through the areas.
I feel sad to be letting the game go after the rough start it got, maybe I shall revisit that secret world in the future we’ll have to wait and see.

Torchlight II – Runic games 2nd game and sequel to the 2009 title, this game retains the good qualities of the first and enhances them while adding new features that suit the game well. Both Rachy and I enjoyed playing the first but as most people commented the lack of Co-op didn’t allow us to play together.
Thankfully that is a big part of Torchlight 2 which allows you to play over LAN/internet with upto 5 other players, this has meant that we can easily team up on a local to battle our way through dungeons.

Orcs Must Die 2 – Another title that was screaming out for co-op mode and rather nicely a sequel comes along and deliveries the missing goods. As action tower defence games go, OMD2 delivers a solid game that may feel some what like the original, but he spell upgrade system is far better and well defined in the sequel. Once my firewall connectivity issues were resolved the Co-op via Steam worked very well and gives a completely different dimension to the game compared to when playing solo.

Planetside 2 – yeas another 2. The original SOE MMOFPS game that is in my opinion the only Massive Mutliplayer Online First Person Shooter, has had a lot of fans and a lot of fond memories. SoE are looking to bring their unique game into the modern age with a Freemium title that is bigger and better that the first.
while most people had their first MMO experience in a land filled with NPCs and quests, mine was on the harsh environment of Auraxis where an endless war was raging.
I’ve avoided playing too much of the beta as to not burn out on the title too soon, I have some extra things to write but they will have to wait for a separate post.

World of Tanks – WoT is such a drop-in game that just sits on your desktop waiting patiently as you play through other titles, knowing fully well that when the shine has gone from your new game it will be waiting exactly were you left it. There is no denying the fact that levelling can be grindy, but only if you look at it from a levelling perspective. If you put in an hour a day you are likely to get in between 5 to 8 matches, each will be different with different threats or terrain, you may have to play each one differently and that is what makes the game enjoyable and less grindy. The latest major patch complete revamped the physics engine along with a redesign of some of the maps, this game sees a lot of continued activity to enhance and expand on an already enjoyable title.

I think that covers the gaming side for now.

Indie fix

So much to cover but in a quick format post:

FTL : Faster than light

The game that kicked up a storm on kickstarter is now out and the name perfectly sums up how time passes when you pick up this title. It’s placed in the genre Roguelike, the setting being in space still has a dungeon-crawler vibe to it, that said the game has many other components that give it a rather unique feel.
A play-through can last between 3 (if very unlucky) to around 90 minutes, of course you have to get used to 1 life/Permadeath model but that is of course is what makes it so addictive with that “just one more try” nature.
This game is wonderfully simple but hugely satisfying, you get to unlock new ships and configurations then embark on a trial and error journey to find out how to utilise it best. I’ve put in 41 hours into FTL so far and I’ve still not had a succesful run through.

 

They Bleed Pixels

If you enjoy playing soul crushingly difficult yet very rewarding platformers then this game is for you. A tricky game where you control a character who has to battle monsters and out-smart puzzles of increasing difficulty, the controls are few but are built in such as way you get some fantastic combo-attack chains and combinations of the button open up more attacks. As the name implies there is a lot of pixel blood flying around in this game, oh and it’s very fun to play, I’ve been following development of the game for some time now, glad it’s finally arrived.

GSB update 1.60

Cliffski has produced a new patch for Gratuitous Space Battles that introduces the functionality to direct ships mid battle, this allows you to alter the way/order that your ships engage the enemy, this small change has big impact to how a battle can pan out.

The ability to hold back ships in reserve or to perform flanking manoeuvres, gives players great control on the battlefield. You can read more about it over at Cliffskis blog or just patch your client and try it 🙂

Humble Bundle

While we are on the indie vibe the latest HB launched this week and has some great games and soundtracks. The last one I bought was purely to get the Bastion soundtrack which was $9.99 on steam and for $7 I got 6 games and 4 soundtracks, plus it gave a little to charity.

Hoping to not get my hopes up

The titan network has been a big part of the City Of Heroes/Villains for 4-5 years now. Hosting a number of unique and feature heavy applications such as the City Info Terminal (tracker) which allows players to log character information and track badges, over the years they also became home to Paragon Wiki, Mids Hero Designer (for those min/max folks) and even a social site with CoH Faces.

The network is now the staging area for the “Save Paragon City!” campaign, the aim is to try and save the game in some form, either with NCSoft or via a 3rd party. The petition that started after the announce now has over 16,000 signatures (at the time writing this) and even has some

Last night Rachy and I took part in a protest that was co-ordinated to happen in-game on the Virtue server, we rolled some new characters and arrived 10 minutes before the start. When we arrived there were at least 29 instances of Atlas Park and it maxed out at 33 instances before the server reached capacity, the video below is a composite of 3000 characters from the instances shown in one clip.

The affection for the game becomes very apparent when you see the community rally together to save the game and I’m enjoyed reading all the blog posts topic on peoples introduction to the game and their favourite moments.

There is no real way of telling if the actions of the community will have any impact on the closure, as Positron says “Whether or not this works you’ll have done one thing: changed forever the way MMOs get sunset.”. I think that’s the thing that everyone takes comfort in the fact that we didn’t go without showing how much it means to us fans.

There have been some great posts about being realistic when it comes to the future of the game, Sente sums up a lot of those thoughts with his post NCSoft is not Evil I suggest a read if you haven’t already.