Author Archives: yogifyg

Experience and Atmosphere

Every Saturday, a group of players from a site I regularly contribute get together and plays a game together.  It seems to be a growing trend among gaming sites to help strengthen the ties within the community.  The site, MMOvoices, is currently grouping up for some DDO sessions.  The game may change eventually, however right now we are all very much content with the choice.

One of the things that I love about the MMOvoices community is that the members always seem to bring up talking points that lead to great conversations.  Yesterday, one such talking point bore itself into my brain and got me thinking.  It was the topic of Atmosphere within DDO. DDO seems to have this great ability for pulling you into the dungeon experience.  Whether it is the narration, the sounds, or the visual effects, you feel like you are part of the action.

I love other mmos but I have yet to encounter a game that does this as well as DDO.  Granted I have not experienced every mmo dungeon out there.  I never touched an EQ2 dungeon.  Arguably the closest for me would be GW.  Specifically a dungeon during the Kurzick ( or is it Luxon? The forest side) that had some of the most breathtaking scenes I have seen in a video game to date.  You can see a picture on my blog HERE.

I remember WoW having great immersion when I first started in Elwynn forest back in Vanilla.  It could just be over saturation on my part, but I just dont get the same atmosphere from wow dungeons that I do from games like GW and DDO.  Ya they have great visuals, although the air is always clear, mobs generally are itching their asses waiting to be pwned (aside from the one or two pats that have highly predictable routes) and the sound is usually drowned out by music.  I turn off the music and really their isn’t much else to listen too.  I find this sad because it is these things, the small things, that make a huge difference when creating effective atmosphere in a game.

The first dungeon in DDO, outside the tutorial, you enter a crypt with strings of spider webs, clicks of spider feet, moans of dark alters, drips of water, subtly screams of pain, all while enjoying the occasional narration to help set the mood.  Its one of those things that you just don’t get sick of.  Even the tenth time around it still feels like a dungeon.  Something that I cant say for WoW.

On the opposing side, my buddy on MMOV (JayJay), says that it is that atmosphere that eventually got old and was one of the factors to push him away from DDO.  I have not experienced much of the non Korthos stuff.  I think I did maybe two dungeons on Stormreach back when the game was still P2P.  He says something along the lines of every dungeon starts to look the same after awhile.  I find that interesting because that is the exact feeling I have with WoW, especially the five man encounters.  Perhaps it is just the style we get sick of.

I can imagine that creating such immersion through atmosphere is difficult at best.  After awhile the company is bound to reuse some of the sound bits or textures to speed up the process and cut down the size.  It’s a shame really.  Id be more than willing to dedicate half my hard drive to a game that could boast an unique experience in every dungeon while maintaining great atmosphere.  Of course Id also be willing to win the lottery without every buying a ticket.

If nothing else the conversation we had about atmosphere reminded me of one of the rules of what makes a game fun (from my perspective): Make the little things count.  Be it sounds, visuals, how mobs work, speech, quest text, or narration; these things when done well can make the experience so much better for us as players.  Likewise, players who learn to appreciate the small things in a game (like atmosphere) can almost always be privy to a more enjoyable experience.

What are you thoughts on atmosphere and its importance?  Does it mean anything to you?  What games do you think display or hope will display solid atmosphere?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks again for reading.

Yogi

MMOs, World Cup, and Global Competition.

Well moments ago the USA lost the chance to become World Cup champions.  Our performance was not the best despite the penalty goal and rally in the end of the second half.  It is too bad, but they did give us some great games to watch over the last few weeks.

Watching the World Cup has started to get my brain juices going.  I look at all the excitement as the world gathers for sport.  We don the colors of our teams and avidly watch games cheering on our favorite players.  The Olympics are similar, but for some reason the World Cup seems to be more.  Perhaps it is the focus.  One game, one team, and a world of competitors.

While I understand nothing can bring gaming to the level of the World Cup, I wonder where the global competition is for games?  Sure there is the competitive raiding group that strives to hit the worlds first boss kills, but the whole system doesn’t cater to fans or audiences.  WoW has their arena seasons, yet once again, it is hard to get into something that is difficult at best to follow.  I do like the recent addition of World Cup team jerseys being added to in game item shops, but it isn’t enough for me.

It would be nice to see something in the game industry that pitted countries of players around the world against each other.  Something that was recorded and streamed for an audience to gather around and watch.  Whether it be pvp or a pve type tournament, just something that in a few weeks, pit the worlds ‘top’ players and guilds against each other in a feast of action for less hardcore players. Perhaps the problem is that with so many gamers in the US, it would be hard not to flood the playing field with US based teams. Then there is the issue of type of games appealing to difference cultures.  If it was a grinder, no doubt Asia would destroy us.

Regardless of the reasons, I would love to sit back and enjoy a large competition within a game.   The closest I have seen thus far was EVE Online’s Alliance Tournament.  I loved it but I think it was the wrong type of game.  EVE’s combat just isnt a great spectator event.  I remember in high school watching the CAL tournaments for Counter Strike.  Now that was a lot of fun.  Action, teams to root for, and a system that with a little luck could cause underdogs to throw down a string of awesome victories.

Perhaps a pve competition in WoW that one week after a content release, would pit the worlds guilds against each other for fastest down.  Something that we could watch and cheer for our server’s team.  Sure some guild may have beat them to the first down, but that isnt something we can watch.  At least not as it is happening.

I guess the World Cup has just put me in a mood to root for a team again.  I loathe most sports.  Soccer and Olympic hockey are pretty much the only two things I pay attention to.  Since I spend so much time in games, it would be nice to combine a little of that team fan fun into some nice geeky competition now and then.

What do you think?  Would you like to see more competitions in MMOs?  Do you think it would change the current fan following of competitions if companies made them more accessible to watch for the common gamer?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

Yogi

Gamer Bucket List?

No I am not dying.  Well not sooner than a few decades from now as far as I can tell.  However there are things on my list of Gamer to do’s that I want to get done before life gets in the way or an ogre makes a meal from my bones.

One of the things that I never thought I would try was DnD.  If you happen to read my personal gaming blog, you have probably seen that I have been writing up recounts every week on the experience.  To put it simply, it has been a blast.  I look back on those times in High School when I saw the library fill with the avid dungeon crawlers during a lunch break or after school.  Back then I didn’t really pay attention, now I wish I would have been a part of those groups.

As we grow older our tastes and desires change.  I now like tomatoes and lima beans.  I now enjoy rpg games more than fps games.  I now like EVE Online just as much as World of Warcraft.  Really didn’t see that coming.  Part of my list was to check out EVE and really give it an honest go.  A few months ago I had a dramatic change of though about how to approach video games thanks to Massively and SpouseAggro’s own Beau Hindman.  I used to approach games and level up so that I could have fun.  I had to be the best geared and in a nice raiding guild.  End Game was THE game for me.  Not surprising, this lead to frequent burn outs and walks away from gaming in general.  Now I dont really care about the end of the game as much as the journey.  When I look back on my years of WoW playing, until recently, the most fun I had was the initial 1-60 experience.  Why?  Because then it was about the journey, not the end.  This change of thought has made EVE soooo much better.

I dont want to look back and realized I missed out on a game because I didnt give it a chance.  Having an open mind and allowing yourself to experience the game really makes a huge difference.  Will you like every game, no.  However, I think a lot of people will find an extra game or two to enjoy if they start trying to enjoy the journey rather than just ‘leveling-up.’

To the point, Steam has a deal on their client for a Magic the Gathering online card game.  It’s $10 dollars for the game and its expansion.  While I am sure this is nothing like playing the actual card game, it has peaked my interest.  Zubon writes about his experience with the game on Kill Ten Rats.

The reason I bring this up is because playing Magic is on my Gamer Bucket List.  I saw this and just had to purchase it.  As a kid my mother told me that Magic cards were of the devil. She wouldn’t let me play with other kids or even my cousins.  To each their own beliefs, but to me that was a load of crap and I missed out.  Ive never had the opportunity arise to actually play the game with other people.  That combined with trying to teach myself how to build a deck up and play with someone else was just a bit daunting.  Now, I can.  Well not really the deck building from what I have read but definitely a taste of the experience that was Magic cards when I was a kid.  And this just makes me giddy.

Another notch on my belt, another check on the list.  Feels great!

How about you?  What kinda stuff have you checked off or put on your Gamer Bucket List?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Heck maybe they will add some more ideas to mine.

Thanks for reading.

Yogi

Contests for the Community

Along with writing I also help co host a podcast about MMOs.  Each week I try and do a mid week news search for topics to discuss on our next show.  While I also do some news research for my blog and contribution writing, the podcast seems to get me reading more gaming sites more often.  What does this have to do with posting on the nomadic gamer? Well I’d like to discuss some things I have found in the last two weeks.

Last week on MMO Voices Podcast, I talked briefly about the Nexon Initiative.  Essentially Nexon offered out the contest to submit your game ideas to their company.  At the end of the contest they would filter through the games and decide what was a great concept and also what was congruent with their companies image and games (Read potential for community and social gameplay).  The lucky chosen, yes multiple ideas could win, would get a share of a 1 million dollar prize to help Co-Develop the game under the Nexon name.  Unfortunately, the event is now over but there is hope of another Nexon Initiative sometime next year.

Yesterday, I was sipping my coffee and reading over Beckett Massive Online Gamer and came across yet another contest.  This contest is giving someone the opportunity to become a freelance writer for Beckett, covering the upcoming game from Trion Worlds, Rifts.   The contest winner will get the following:

• An all-expenses (airfare, hotel, and meals) trip to Trion Worlds in Redwood City, California.
• A personal tour of the Trion Worlds studio, where you’ll meet the artists, designers, and producers of Trion’s upcoming MMO.
• An exclusive preview of Rift: Planes of Telara, with never-before-seen content.
• And a chance to become a freelancer for Massive Online Gamer, becoming our key Rift: Planes of Telara correspondent leading up to its release — and possibly beyond!

Now if you have no interest in the game, I am not sure how awesome this opportunity will look to you.  However, as someone who has been following the title for awhile, I am excited as a kid discovering ice cream.

I really love to see contests like this that provide the community with doors into the industry.  With lots of gamers and competition out there, sometimes its just nice to see companies giving the little guy a chance to be lucky.  Ive heard people say that the Nexon Initiative seems like a lazy way to make a game.  I don’t see it this way at all.  These companies all started out someplace and have now seen their dreams come to fruition.  They are now making steps to help give individuals that same sense of wonder and accomplishment through things like the Nexon Initiative or the Beckett correspondent contest.  To me, that is nothing but awesome juice tapped straight from the source.

While part of me hates to let other people know about the correspondent contest (Yes I would loooove to win) the other part of me knows how excited it makes me just to enter and dream.   As a game blogger, writing about games brings me almost as much joy as playing them.  My dream job is to get paid to do this or be a part of community management.  I know I am not alone with these ambitions.  I figure everyone should enjoy the experiences. Even if the chances are slim that any of us will come away the winners of contests like these, entering provides us with a glimmer of hope, a moment of imagination, and an escape to a much cooler ‘reality’ than our own.

And in the end, isn’t that why we play games in the first place?

Good luck fellow writers!

Yogi

Hype and My Thoughts

Over the last few weeks I have discussed on the MMO Voices Podcast (sometimes briefly, other times not so much) the condition of hype with regards to new games coming out.  Specifically I touched on the stream of content for SWTOR and yet also receiving the announcement of a possibly delayed release.  Now I know this is old news but I have been churning around the idea of game companies creating desire and hype for their new products.  I love to be informed about games coming out, but there is a tipping point on that scale where it begins to draw out negative and mouth foaming reactions from me.

SWTOR, in my personal opinion, has done a great job of letting the community know what is on the way.  Yay!  They have also teased me to the point that I feel like crying like a 6 year old denied dessert until after dinner.  I missed out on the era of SWG and all the fun (and perhaps not so fun) players had with the universe.  Star Wars has always been a huge passion for me.  I mentioned on the podcast that I have in fact, destroyed two sets of VHS sets of the original trilogy with my compulsive desire to watch the oddly comforting story of the Rebellion’s struggle. Thankfully DVD’s hold up a bit longer.  SWTOR is the first Star Wars game that I have looked at since KOTOR and thought, “There is a God.”

Since the announcement of SWTOR, I have followed the tid-bits of information with palpable anticipation.  Unfortunately for me, this has led to just as much frustration as it has moments of glee.  I’m a bit tired of hearing about a game that in reality is not something I will be playing anytime soon.  The word soon is relative to the individual, but for me anything outside of six months might as well be an eternity.  I have wanted to play the jedi or the scandalous bounty hunter since I was a small kid making weapons from sticks and air.  (How I missed out on SWG is beyond me.) That’s roughly 20 some years of dreaming about the moment SWTOR is offering.  It isn’t Bioware’s fault that I have waited this long, but now I am blaming them for making the last two years an emotional roller coaster for my Star Wars fantasies.

The irritation with early released previews isn’t solely dedicated to SWTOR.  I have the same feelings about Guild Wars 2.  I loved the first game.  Although it has never been my primary MMO for any length of time, it has been my number 2 for the last five years.  My emotions could be getting the best of my recollection, but I feel that the last two years I have been waiting for GW2 to make an appearance.  Well, it has made an appearance but not in the manner I was hoping for.  I wanted to play the game not read about it for another year.  Games take time to develop, but I am a child on Christmas day ready for my parents to wake up and give me the goods!

One side of me loves that companies do give us these previews of what’s to come.  The other side of me curses.  Ive heard other gamers complain about how FFIX has been dipping on and off the radar for weeks, even months at a time.  They grumble and moan and throw things wondering why they are not being given more info by Square Enix.  Im jealous!   I love it when game companies give me info that peaks my interest and then shut up for a few months.  At least then I can forget about it and enjoy the games I am currently playing.  It’s like an emotional time machine for my gaming. One day I am happy as a clam with new content, the next I am angry that the game is so far out, then I forget about it and 3 months zips by like nothing only to have my excitement rekindled by another preview and a closer deadline.

With SWTOR and GW2 I don’t have this luxury.  Perhaps it’s because I read and participate in the community more than I ever have before.  Im seeing more articles about the games than when I was busy chasing ladies down at my local pub or off on some rock climbing mission.  All and all the exposure is making me feel drained and less and less excited about the games I really want to be excited for.   I miss the days when I would read about an awesome title and within a few months be able to enjoy it.  Now it seems like anything new and exciting is more like being shown a plate of food just out of reach when I am starving.  So close yet so far!

I guess I am just really ready for something new that pulls me into a fresh MMO with some of my friends.  I’m loving WoW right now but its lacking what I really want: A polished new experience to explore in an IP I love.

Ranting and whining aside, how do you readers feel about the trend of early content previews?   Do you like that exciting games are becoming more accessible during their creation phase?  Or are you like me and feel like your being teased?

Maybe watching Star Wars in my Wookie PJ’s will comfort my woes.

Yogi