pandora_parrot: (games)
The interesting thing about our game development group: We're all roughly at the same level when it comes to making games. That is... we have no freaking clue what we're doing. But we're going to learn. Together.

Minecraft

Oct. 4th, 2010 06:24 am
pandora_parrot: (Default)
I've just discovered the greatest video game ever made. It was only released a few months ago in an alpha state, but already I have to rate it as the best damn thing I've ever seen. It's called Minecraft, and its absolutely amazing.

The game is a basic sandbox kind of game. The main focus of the game is gathering materials and building things with them. At night, monsters come out to attack you, so you'd better be safe and secure in a dwelling place, or armed to the teeth to deal with them. And that's really about all there is to the game.

Oh, but the way it is all put together is absolutely incredible. Here, let me tell you the story of my character getting in there and playing.

My Story )

If I were to list the cool features of this game, it would be:
1) The entire world is generated procedurally at runtime. This means that the world is effectively infinite. The only hard limits are vertical.
2) There are randomly generated dungeons filled with monsters and treasure, down in the bowels of the earth.
3) The building aspect is like playing with Lego, but the really awesome part of it is that you have to really *earn* your pieces. You can't just create whatever you want. You first have to go and find/make the raw materials.

I recommend you try it out! It's only $15 right now until he's out of alpha, and he's adding new feature constantly!
pandora_parrot: (games)
Over on Creepy + Pasta, there's been this really awesome story that was posted. Here's the link, but I don't like the way they're presenting it on there. It loses some of its awesome to read it that way. So I'm reposting it here in the way that you should read it. It's really a fantastic horror story, and quite worth the read. Be sure to watch the youtube videos with sound on. :)

WARNING: Spoilers in the comments, so don't read the comments until you've read all the text *and* watched the videos.

Read more... )
pandora_parrot: (games)
[livejournal.com profile] parmonster and I love to do dungeon runs together in WoW. I heal, she tanks. It's a great combination. But it sometimes gets spoiled by dumb ass DPS ers. Well, not spoiled, per se, but we do get annoyed.

Read more... )
pandora_parrot: (games)
I just "dinged" level 80 in World of Warcraft. This is the final level that you can achieve in the game, meaning that I have gotten through all of the content and made it to what MMOs call "endgame." This is a pretty substantial achievement, requiring lots of time put into the character, building up abilities and levels and such. In a sense, I've kinda beaten the game. In another sense, I've only just begun to play for real.

So what have I learned during this long and interesting adventure? What are the results of this long and interest experiment?

When I first started, I was captivated by the delight of exploration. But now, that delight has faded. I've explored almost every place in the world now. There's nowhere left. So what interests me now?

One of the reasons I never got into an MMO in the past was because I could never really get into online socialization. And that is still the case. Although I certainly like my guild mates and enjoy interacting with them, I find that I don't really care about them much. More than that, I don't really gain much satisfaction in sharing experiences with them.

No... the original reason that I could not stand MMOs and online games of all sorts still exists. My enjoyment of WoW is just not tied to the game itself. The value I derive from the game is derived entirely from the experiences that I get to share with my lovers, [livejournal.com profile] parmonster and [livejournal.com profile] viesti. 80-90% of my play time in the game has been logged alongside one of them, and the rest has been done with the intention of improving my abilities for the next time I play with them.

With all of the time and effort I've put into the experiment, I expected that I would eventually find the game enjoyable for its own sake. Perhaps I would find the online interaction to be satisfying and enjoy that. Perhaps I would discover some interesting set of action-puzzles that I could derive satisfaction from solving. But nope. *ALL* of my satisfaction derives from sharing this with my lovers. Were they both to quit tomorrow, I would cancel my account in a heart beat. Without them, the game holds 0 value for me, especially now that I'm at level 80.

I do absolutely love being able to "talk shop" with the two of them, discussing play strategies, talking about cool storyline moments, sharing interesting new experiences that I find, etc. I love running through dungeons in a cooperative group, relying on each other to do their part. There's nothing like the rush of excitement you get in the game:

I watch [livejournal.com profile] parmonster's character start to take significant damage and lose threat on a big monster that starts to lumber towards me and beat me up. As I cry for help, [livejournal.com profile] viesti's character leaps from behind to tear the monster to pieces and get him away from me until [livejournal.com profile] parmonster can find me in the fray of battle and once again monopolize the creature's attention. Meanwhile, I dance along my buttons, healing my lovers as quickly as I can, hoping against hope that I can keep them alive long enough to kill the monsters and survive this battle.

And once you've had those wonderful adventure experiences, being able to recount them to one another throughout the day is fantastic. Discussing the epic moments that you've had. Talking about the adventures you've experienced. Discussing new plot points for your character's backstory. etc. etc. It's a wonderful way to bond with someone that you love. To do exciting, challenging, and enjoyable things like this with one another.

I asked the questions: Why are there millions of subscribers playing only with people they've only met online? Why is my girlfriend getting so deeply involved in the game that she can spend hours playing by herself and doing nothing with anyone IRL?

I don't think I'm going to find the answers. I could not find the things they found in the game, even after all this time and effort. Thus, I declare my little experiment over. My conclusion is that I simply don't understand what people see in this game, in and of itself.

But as a social game with folks I care about... I get it. So long as my lovers continue to play... game on!

WoW review

Jan. 13th, 2010 04:17 pm
pandora_parrot: (games)
I've been playing WoW for several months now. I figured that I would take some time and write a review of it.

One of the things that has historically turned me off to this sort of game is the repetitive aspects of it. From what I could see, most of these games came down to: "Go kill 10 boars. Gain 10 XP. Get level. Go kill 10 bats. Gain XP. Get level" repeat ad nauseum. There's no fun in that. Sure, you might get a slightly different environment to do things in, but really, you're doing hte same damn shit in the same sort of area. It's annoying and pointless and unpleasant. After doing this grinding for a while on any given MMO, I just gave up. There didn't seem to be any payoff except higher levels and slight variations on level design.

Maybe I just didn't stick with most of those games long enough. Because Wow is totally not like that. Quests are different and interesting. There are common themes, but there is still quite a bit of diversity. The process of doing quests and gaining XP and levels doesn't just lead to a higher stat next to my name, but grants me access to new areas and experiences. Those new areas and experiences aren't just slight variations on past areas, but in many cases are actually full of interesting geography and art. The game actually produces an excellent balance of work vs. reward. I put in a bunch of time, doing fun quests and stuff, to be 0rewarded with something new and interesting.

Let's look at some examples:

Quest Variety:
You've got a lot of the sorts of quests that you'd think are boring in a lot of ways. There's "Kill n creatures" quests, "Kill as many of creature X as you need to retrieve n of item Y" quests, "Kill boss monster X" quests, and similar. Those sound like they'd be boring, but they're actually quite fun a lot of the time, especially if you're playing with friends. Hunting down the locations of the creatures in question, figuring out tactics to use to fight them, running around in their environments. It's really fun.

But then you have all sorts of other interesting quests. I had one where I rode a gryphon over this army and had to drop bombs on them. Another quest required me to sneak around an enemy encampment to find a special item needed to take out the major boss monster. Another required me to read a treasure map and find the right place to go. Another had me hunting for someone in a strange alien bug place.

Environmental variety:
I've come across fantastic things while playing this game. Wandering through a dense tropical jungle, I came upon a strange, almost alien landscape filled with giant bugs. It looked like they were transforming the land into some sort of hive. It was alien and fantastic.

Another time, I was wandering through the mountains above Hillsbrad and came upon the ruins of an old city. But the ruins only seemed to be a small portion of the city, as where the bulk of it would have been was a massive crater surrounded by an eerie glowing purple light. The ruins of Dalaran.

When I first travelled to Outworld, I had to walk through this massive portal to another dimension. The portal was easily several hundred feet tall. Upon stepping through, I was transported to a fantastic broken landscape. Bits of rock and rubble floated in the air, and the land was slanted at odd angles, as if the world itself was crumbling into pieces. Right in front of me a massive battle was going on, and as I stared, several enemies broke through the front line and came after me.

I love the sheer variety of environments. Beautiful mountains, deserts, dense tropical jungles, ordinary forests that could be found in the hills of California, fantastic forests with trees thicker and taller than any Earthly redwood, rolling grassy hills covered in farms, swamps, icy tundras, rolling plains, etc. All of it dotted with locations both beautiful and fantastic. There's even a place called "Shimmering Flats" that looks for all of the world like the salt flats of Utah or the Black Rock Desert where Burning Man takes place.

Despite having gotten through all of the "vanilla" (pre-expansion pack) content, I find that Blizzard continues to take my breath away all of the time. I constantly find myself gasping at the architecture of a dungeon instance, or blinking into a sunset as I crest a hill overlooking the village of Lakeshire, seeing the sun reflected on the shimming waters of the lake. They did an *incredible* job with the art and design in this game. I feel like I play the game in part just to experience all of the wonderful places they've created, both mundane and fantastic.

They also did a great job with travel. When you first start, you're slow, traveling everywhere on foot. As you progress, you're granted faster and faster mounts that you can ride to and fro. When you hit 60 and enter the expansion pack content, you find yourself with the ability to fly all over the place, a breathtaking experience. It's fantastic to see the cities, mountains, and places of this world from the air. In Zangarmarsh, I just love the look of flying through this entirely alien landscape covered with giant mushrooms hundreds of feet tall, fading off into the purple haze of this bizarre place.

Here are some pictures of some of these places:
Read more... )

I'm hooked. If only on the artwork, I'm hooked. They've done a great job of providing a wide variety of experiences, and have really done a lot to remove the tedium that I've come to expect of MMORPGs. Progress forward, especially when using Refer-A-Friend, is fast, and you quickly get to see all sorts of new and wonderful places, having all sorts of new and interesting experiences.
pandora_parrot: (games)
I've often said that I don't play MMOs because I've never really been able to get into them. However, something about them has drawn me back to them time and time again. When I started listing all of the MMOs I've been a part of, I realized something...

I'm an MMO gamer.

Yeah, perhaps not consistently in any one game, but I've been playing these damn things for over a decade.

I fiddled around with AOL's Neverwinter Nights for a while. I really liked it, actually. :) I left when I left AOL.

I probably gave Meridian 59 the longest run of any MMO that I ever played. I really liked the variety of environments and places you could go. I quit that due to ethical issues conflicting with my then-obsession with Christianity.

The Realm Online entertained me briefly, and I certainly enjoyed the avatar creation aspects of that one. Very cute!

Subspace was absolutely one of the most fun experiences I ever had in an MMO. It's not an RPG, but an action space battle ala Asteroids or Space Battle. It was probably the first game I ever participated in that I actually really socialized with other people. The controls for team gaming were really well done and made it easy for me to figure out how to participate in the experience with the other people. I loved doing various "king of the hill" type things where you try to maintain control over as much of a base as you can, shifting between attacking other player's bases and defending your own. I got fairly decent at the game, as I recall, but lost interest in it, as I am often wont to do. It's still around as Continuum if you're interested. It's a BLAST.

I actually participated in the beta test of Ultima Online, but found it to be quite dull. Whee, I'm wandering around a country side with strangers trying to find "work" to do and getting killed constantly. The lack of ability to quickly progress and explore really made the game feel annoying to me, and I really didn't feel much benefit from the constant grinding that it seemed to want of me. I dropped it quite quickly.

As MMO games go, Earth and Beyond is by far my favorite. I lost interest due to not having anyone to play with and not knowing how to interact with the other people on there, but in terms of pure mechanics, controls, settings, storyline, etc, it is by far and away the best MMORPG that I have ever played. Some folks have been working on reviving it, and I might go check it out in a few years after they've gotten it more stable.

Eve Online and Vendetta Online both seemed like possible replacements for Earth and Beyond, but I found the learning curve on the game to be too steep and dropped out of it fairly quickly.

Dungeons and Dragons Online was relatively uninteresting, but I did have a group of people to play it with on a regular basis. They even bought my copy of the game for me so that I could join them in questing. I stopped playing that one when I came to California, as the time zone issues made it challenging to coordinate quest runs with them.

I adore City of Heroes for the character creation, diversity, setting, etc. I love the character customization that you can do. I swear, creating a character is half the fun of that game. And then running around using your really awesome and fantastic powers was absolutely lovely. Yet, I find that the leveling curve is too steep. It takes too long to get a high enough power level to actually go anywhere interesting and the starting area is rather uninteresting and repetitive.

Puzzle Pirates was a neat diversion for a week. But nothing about it really drew me in and I never went back.

Second Life suffers the same problem many other MMOs have suffered for me: A lack of ability to socialize online coupled with complex or difficult controls. The amount of effort I'd have to put in to be able to get anything out of the MMO is too high for too little reward. I've poked at it a bunch and I even have a few chars, but that's about it.

World of Warcraft is one that I've tried twice before. In the past, I found it suffered from the same usual issues. I didn't know anyone playing it or couldn't coordinate with them well, and I really still don't socialize with folks well online unless I know them already. I just... don't know how to care about them or something. My first time, I leveled a Night Elf Druid to level 16 and walked away feeling like there was no point to it. My second time, I rolled a Human Mage and tried playing with a friend of mine, but she was much higher level and it failed to draw me in.

This time around, I've got two people that have started new characters to play with me, and they're telling me about all the cool things that are always *just around the corner.* Plus, Blizzard has been putting a lot of work into making the game easier for newbies to get into it and figure things out. It keeps me interested and excited for the upcoming abilities and environments, and the ability to actually socialize with people that I know in my real life is actually enjoyable. We'll see how long this lasts this time, but I'm definitely interested more than I've been in the past.
pandora_parrot: (games)
So, I'm a huge fan of Go, one of the deepest and oldest strategy games in the world.

However, the depth of the game tends to scare away beginners, and I find that I run into very few people that are interested in learning to play. And even when I do, the initial learning curve is pretty steep, causing folks to get frustrated pretty quickly. However, I've found that a good environment amongst folks of your relative skill level could really help out in learning to play.

It's certainly possible for me to go to the local Go club and learn to play there, but my social anxiety there causes me to shy away for the most part. That, and the fact that I really prefer to play these games against my friends or acquaintances. I'm not really into games purely for the sake of the game. I'm also into it as an experience of sharing with people I care about.

So... I'm wondering if any of you folks from the Bay Area out there are interested in playing Go with me. Or even if you're further away and might be interested in playing online once in a while? I'd be happy to teach the game, and you can talk to several of my "students" about how they feel about my efforts to teach them to play. I'm still classified as a beginner, with a ranking of about 18-20k, but I know a few things that I can teach to even more beginning players.

After doing a teaching game with [livejournal.com profile] viesti and [livejournal.com profile] orange56gal last night, I've been thinking about possible having a little games night at my place again. I've been dealing with shame issues from the last party I tried to throw at my place, having had to cancel at the last minute and even screwing that up, but I've been recovering from that and might feel okay throwing a party again. Although all games would be welcome, I personally would be focusing on teaching/playing go with folks. I've actually got 3 boards to play with, so many people could play at once. :)

Anyways, if you're interested, drop me a line. I'll pick a date and send out invites once I have a good list of folks that might be interested in coming by.
pandora_parrot: (games)
I really don't get online socialization tools.

Whenever I log into these things, I generally just feel lost in the shuffle. In World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs, I don't really meet anyone else and I wind up playing the game by myself. When I do that, I generally find that I'm paying $15 a month to play a really crappy single player game with a crappy plot. I prefer my video games to be epic adventures with awesome storylines, since I mostly play them for the storyline anyways.

I've jumped onto IRC a few times, but with a few exceptions, I just don't get it. There's lots of people on there talking about things that I have no interest in. If I act like a lunatic and try to entertain people, I can enjoy it for a few hours, but the novelty of that quickly dies away, and I generally don't see the same people on there again, so any relationship I might have established goes away. I do use IRC to communicate with folks I know, so if I know someone IRL and they are always in a chat room, I'll visit that chat room, but otherwise, I just don't get it.

Forums, BBSes, and LJ communities are similar. I'm okay at lurking in forums and posting from time to time, but I find it very difficult to maintain an interest in online forums for very long, or to maintain much of a presence there. I never feel like I have time to read all of the threads going on, and the ones I do read seem mostly inane and uninteresting to me, so I don't really have that much to contribute.

Then there's Second Life. I've horsed around with that a bit, but I still don't get it. I'm all alone in a world full of people that are making things using a convoluted interface. I've tried playing games on there, but it feels pointless. I get nothing out of it, since your character is already practically a god. I've tried snowboarding and flying vehicles and stuff, but since there's no limitation on 3D motion, it really seems quite pointless. The art in there is pretty cool, but since I don't really see anything to do at my skill level in the game, it really doesn't seem worth it to learn the difficult tools to figure out how to make anything. This is doubly true since I don't know anybody on the service to share anything that I might happen to create with.

I've tried EVE online, but it doesn't capture my interest. I've tried City of Heroes, but after getting to about level 10 with my character, I lose interest. I was actually in the beta test for Ultima Online and found it completely strange and pointless. I also played Meridian 59, Dungeons and Dragons Online, a MUCK type thing here and there, and a few others. None of them could capture my interest for longer than a month.

The only MMORPG that ever captured my interest for longer than a month was Earth and Beyond, and that was mostly because I really liked the exploration elements of that game. I got to visit really exotic sectors of space and land on interesting planets and stuff. I also really liked the space combat and things. It didn't have much going on, but it was enough to actually interest me. Otherwise, these things just have no draw to me.

Am I missing something? What's the draw of online communication and games? How do people socialize online?

I suppose that part of why these services don't work for me is that I tend not to have much interest in socializing with people that are outside my social circle. If I meet someone new, it's generally because I've met them through an existing member of my social circle, or I have already determined that they are "tribe" in some sense. Weird geeky queer poly women, especially transgender women, don't tend to scare me much, but everyone else pretty much freaks me out if I don't meet them through some existing member of my social circle or activity that I already am involved in. IRC requires me to meet people with absolutely no pre-established context, as do all of these online games.

With that in mind, I have tried a few times to get involved in online things that other people are involved in. I joined some IRC channels that a friend of mine joined, but find that I only talk to the people I've met IRL. I joined WoW with a friend of mine, but she already had several top level characters and was just dragging me along. I joined Second Life with the same person, and talked with her a bit, but without her around, just had no interest in the service.

*shrugs* I suppose these things just aren't for me, but I see so many folks getting involved with them, and frankly, there are bits and pieces of them that do intrigue me. But for the most part, I just can't seem to get myself to care about them.

Thoughts?
pandora_parrot: (games)
In an amazing feat of self-restraint, I will not be purchasing Guitar Hero: World Tour for the Wii.

Oh yes, the challenge of learning to play pretend drums and pretend guitar is very alluring to me. I absolutely love rhythm games like DDR, Taiko Drum Master, older Guitar Hero games, etc. The idea of getting a bunch of friends together to play a pretend band sounds like a blast at parties, and we could have tons of fun with it.

But I'm not going to get it.

Simply because... if I have the free time to practice playing pretend instruments, I can take time to practice playing my REAL instrument, the keyboard, and actually improve my ability to play for real.

Then there's the cost of the game. I should really spend that money on buying myself a bike. I mean, I *could* afford it, but I'm supposed to be paying off my debt!

Another reason not to get this is that storage for those components looks to be a bit problematic. I don't really feel like leaving them set up all the time.

Ah well... I'm sure I have friends that will let me come over their house and play it sometimes, amiright?
pandora_parrot: (games)
I absolutely love the game of Go. It is such a beautifully intense and chaotic game, filled with depths of strategy unparalleled by any other game I've ever seen. One of the things I really liked about having [livejournal.com profile] mantic_angel as a roommate was that she was very interested in learning the game as well. To that end, I dropped some money over the past few months and now have this beautiful set. It consists of a 2 in. thick shin-kaya table board, two jujube wood semi-gloss bowls, and double convex yunzi stones. The stones are lightly oiled with mineral oil, malachite oil, and sage oil. They have a slight aroma that is very pleasing to the senses and look positively beautiful.

New Go Set


I've also begun attending weekly Go club meetings to play with other players and improve my game.

If anyone out there in LJ land is ever interested in a game, let me know. I would love to play a game with you. I'm not terribly good, but I love to play all the same.
pandora_parrot: (games)
The most awesome game ever: You have to burn the rope..

Teaser Trailer:


It's really tough, but if you manage to beat the game, be sure to listen to the credits. :)
pandora_parrot: (games)
Reminder:
Wii Code: 2835 1520 8329 5857
Brawl Code: 0473 7529 3126

This is mostly just a status update on my progress in the game. Pay it no mind unless you find this sort of thing interesting.
Read more... )
pandora_parrot: (games)
I purchased a copy of Super Smash Brothers Brawl today!

I'm going to be having fun playing it this evening, but I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of my Wii friend code.

It's 2835 1520 8329 5857

If you have a Wii, drop your friend code here!

And if you have a Wii and smash brothers, let's talk about getting a game going!

Ciao!

Brawl Code: 0473 7529 3126
pandora_parrot: (games)
Holy Shit... Sonic IS in Super Smash Brothers Brawl! Nice!
pandora_parrot: (games)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is officially my "favorite Zelda game ever" narrowly beating out A Link to the Past and the Adventure of Link. (I know I know)

I beat it tonight, and WOW, is it AWESOME! And what a great final battle. Great characters. Yay! I almost can't wait to play it a second time!
pandora_parrot: (games)
Live in 3D!!!!


Found on [livejournal.com profile] wyndhover's LJ. :)
pandora_parrot: (games)
I'm sorry... The ads with the squirrels made me nausious... but this is just ridiculousRead more... )

[livejournal.com profile] girl_gamers also has an entry on the subject with some more details on other ads in the campaign.
pandora_parrot: (games)
I've always been a Nintendo fan-girl. Since the days of the NES, I've been hooked. Hell, I even loved the Virtual Boy, and I almost bought one at release. But when Nintendo made the foolish decision with the N64 to go with cartridge based games, I was dissapointed. Oh yes, the N64 had some fun games, but they lost content-filled games like the FF series, Mega Man X series, etc. Basically, games that I really enjoyed on the NES and SNES. So I went over to Playstation, and I kept with it until the PS2. I really loved both Sony's and Nintendo's consoles though. The Gamecube was overly-normal to fit back in with the rest of the crowd, but it was still a great console with loads of awesome games on it. I'm playing Resident Evil 4 on it right now. (Thanks [livejournal.com profile] eyesloveyou! It's SOOOOO fun!) And of course, I wouldn't touch an Xbox with a 10 foot long magnetically shielded pole. Oooh! I'm missing out on Halo! *twirls fingers in air*

So anyways, I've been noticing some of the information about the next generation of console wars. Both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 seem to be just PCs with really nice interfaces and simple controllers. What's the point of that? Maybe it's just me, but enhancing graphics just doesn't cut it for me anymore. There was a substantial leap from the N64/PS1 era to the GC/PS2/Xbox era of graphics, but I don't really see a big difference between those graphics and the graphics on, say, the Xbox 360. And now with Sony announcing that they'll be using the PS2 controller design, I'm just that much more dissapointed. It seems as though the gaming industry, for Sony and Microsoft, has become static. Their job: Produce the same titles they made last year, enhance graphics, and upgrade the customer's hardware every few years. Goodbye innovation.

Nostalgic rant )

Sorry, got off on a rant there. The point that I was trying to get to is that Nintendo is, in my opinion, poised to be the ONLY innovative developer for the next generation of console systems. The Wii is going to be unique. It's controller alone guarantees that, forcing developers to consider new concepts for games. Like the DS, it's not intended to be a gimmick. It's intended to change the way people play games and recapture that feeling of newness and originality that people like me used to feel when we discovered Warcraft for the first time. When Microsoft and Sony have elected to produce upgraded versions of this generation's compute- I mean console systems, Nintendo is choosing to keep the same capabilities in terms of content production, but are pushing it in a new direction. I feel like a kid again, looking at the system and thinking about what it is capable of, dreaming of the new possibilities... Of course, the developers COULD just wind up doing another gimmick thing with it and reproduce old games with the new controller... but I hope not. *crosses fingers and toes* Gods, I hope not.





In unrelated news, I haven't been able to find an actual news site with info on this, but this is simply a travesty. How the hell do you fuck Scooby-Doo up so much? Why.... WHY must these company execs continue to rape my childhood? *sigh* *Shakes angry finger at George Lucas* You started this, you evil bastard you.

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