Author Archives: Rouac

New Game: Perpetuum!

Yesterday, Stargrace asked me if I’d heard of Perpetuum and if I’d like to try it and write about it.  I said that I hadn’t but I’m willing to write about anything.  And then I said, “Um, what is it?”

Perpetuum, Stargrace told me, is a scifi mmo that’s a little like Mechwarrior.

Count me in.

I think that I’ve said before how much I love old games, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I enjoyed the old Mechwarrior and Mechwarrior 2 games.  Of course, it’s been 15 years or so since I played those, so this was more about what I remembered than what actually was.  I loaded up the game and this is what I’ve found so far.

The first thing you’re presented with is character appearance.  I’m very picky about my character appearance, and the more options you give me, the happier I am.  This is the most controllable character creation I’ve seen since Aion.  It was great!  The problem is that the characters are ugly.  Try and I might, I couldn’t make a pretty toon.  This isn’t as dire as I thought it could be, though.  Once I made my toon, I haven’t seen him since.

Stargrace tells me that the devs have said they think the toons are ugly too and are going to work on that, so that’s a problem that I expect will go away.

After the appearance set up, then you pick the corporation you work for (basically, it’s Americas, EU/Russia, or um.. China, I think? I don’t remember which the third was now), then your are of expertise (politics, war, or r&d.)  After that you pick your location and specializations.  All of this was very much like how I remember the mechwarrior games to be.  It’s interesting because I’m used to trying to build toons for efficiency in mmo’s.  Because this is such a foreign game setup to me, I tried to set up the way I would have set up in mechwarrior.  No idea how intelligent a move that was, but it might work out ok.

Having set up my toon, I logged in.  I was on a bit of a time crunch, so I didn’t do anything except the first tutorial, but I really liked the UI.  Everything that I wanted to do was intuitive, from moving and resizing things to the basic controls, and that’s always a bonus in my book.  One of the reasons I keep on with eq2 is that the controls and UI are so familiar to me.  Learning a new control system can be fun, but it just slows down my immersion into the game.

So, this evening, I’m going to be trying Perpetuum some more, and will report more of my thoughts over the next few days, but so far, Stargrace is right, this has a very strong feeling of Mechwarrior, and it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Part 2: Sense of the Dramatic

The first MMO that I played instead of dabbling with was EQ.  I stuck to a half-elf rogue for most of my stay in unshattered Norrath, but I did a lot of exploring.  I have my horror stories of Blackburrow trains, Nek forest at night, and getting stomped in Crushbone.

I also have stories of times where I had to stop and marvel at the sense of the dramatic.  The first time I came into Plane of Knowledge was through a side tunnel, and coming from that dark passage into that huge open area was a nice effect.

The Halas raft

The first time I came into Halas was at night, and I climbed onto the raft and crossed, and fell in love with the place.  I think it was the raft trip.  Such a sense of adventure getting onto that raft and seeing Halas come closer and closer.

A while ago, SOE released New Halas, and remembering the trip in EQ, I was looking forward to seeing what they did with the place.  When I got there, there was no raft.  Just snow and a dock and a path leading up.

I poked around New Halas for a bit, was suitably impressed with the housing, and went off to raid.  The next day I came back to Halas and got turned around trying to get back to the housing area.  I ended up going down this narrow crack of a tunnel, knowing it wasn’t the way to the housing but following it anyway because who knows what’s at the end.

At the end was the first “stop and marvel at the sense of the dramatic” that I’ve had in EQ2 since Thundering Steppes was The place to be for finding a group to level.

It was a barren, snowswept wasteland, and I was forcibly reminded that Norrath was shattered.  While I was taking in the view, I saw something that made me glad I still play.

This is old Halas, and the raft I was expecting.

Part 1: Can’t Stop the Rant!

So, I was going to write a post being unhappy about the changes to the Hole, and how it was asinine to create a zone that would be a challenge for a mid-level raiding guild and then to change it so that it caused issues for top end raiding guilds.  But they brought the difficulty level back down (still too high for what the loot is there, but I digress.)

Have you ever noticed yourself being unhappy enough with how a company is running a game that even when they do something (sort of) that you like (such as sort of reducing the difficulty of a zone from “stupid” to “still a little much for the loot level”), you still find a reason to complain about it? “You took away my opportunity to rant!”  Sometimes I just gotta laugh at myself.

Instead of a rant, I wrote a different post.

The Raider Post

Ladies and Gentleman, I have a confession:  I am one of them.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there’s cliques in mmo land.  It’s just like High School.  There’s the PVPers, the crafters, the casuals, the solo-ers, and then there’s the raiders.  My chosen game, EQ2, is no longer this way, but for a long time the raiders were the elite.  I considered it a point of pride that I had enough skill to work my way up the raiding food chain and into one of the best guilds out there.  These days, raiding in general is a lot less snobbish than my first experiences.  I’m not sure how much of that is the “we walked 4 miles uphill both ways without shoes through the snow” statement and how much of it is reality, but it seems like there was a lot less room for error then.  Surely I’m not the only raider reading this blog.  Do you guys notice that, or am I off base?

Personally, I blame TSO.  TSO was some of the worst raiding content I’ve ever experienced.  At the time there were lots of the folks who said that it was all in people’s heads, but I saw servers go from 10-15 raiding (and casually raiding) guilds to 3 or 4 raiding guilds.  Even those 3 or 4 had changed almost their entire rosters at least once in that time frame.  It got to the point that guilds would literally be begging for healers, any healer, even if the person had never healed before; roll a healer and come help.  Healer burnout was another thing that a lot of folks said was just a rumor, but of the dozens of healers I knew at the beginning of TSO, only 5 or 6 of them were still healing at the end of the expansion.  With that kind of turnover, of course errors are going to be ignored more often.

From the TSO nightmare, we jumped into SF, and I really didn’t care that the gear wasn’t an upgrade.  I just wanted out of the stupid TSO raids.  Gear at the beginning of SF was pretty bad though.  It got upgraded twice before I saw anything that even sort of made sense as a replacement for what I was wearing.  That really didn’t matter though.  The raids were fun.  There was actually more to do beyond just spam-curing.  Even the fights that could be spam cured (like the second name in Palace) didn’t Have to be.  If your heals were big enough you could just cure when you felt like it.  I think that might be my favorite fight just coming into SF.  It signaled to me that TSO was really and truly over, and raiding might start getting fun again.

Portal

Lately I’ve been playing a game called Portal.  I expect most of the people who read this blog have at least heard of it.  It was described to me as a puzzle game.  That’s accurate.  It’s also nothing like any puzzle game I’ve ever seen.

The more I play it, the more I think of it as a cross between a first person shooter and an old Windows95 game called Chip’s Challenge.  The goal in Chip’s, as it is in Portal, is to navigate an obstacle course using limited tools.  The first person perspective in Portal just increases the difficulty for me.  I’m used to the sort of thinking a puzzle game requires, but fps has never been my thing.  It’s interesting to work my way through.

I find Portal a difficult game to describe.  I’ve described it to 3 different friends, and each of them thought it sounded terrible.  I sat them down at my computer and had them try a level and they all 3 loved it.  I think most of my favorite games sound terrible but play fun.