Friday, December 13, 2013

Gifts For Geeks

It's nearing that holiday time of year again and you may be thinking to yourself, "What in the hell do I get the geek who has everything?"  The immediate answer is that they don't have everything - no matter what flavor of geek a person is, there's always that one extra cool thing that they'd like.

Now, there are many kinds of geeks - from audiophiles to Trekkers to trivia kings/queens - but in this post I'll be giving you a hand with the more "traditional" geek.  Again, there are so many slices and flavors of geek that in reality a traditional geek is undefinable, but I'll focus on the geek who's into sci-fi/fantasy, superheroes, and/or technology.

If you're not a geek, it's hard to know where to shop so here's your handy guide!  I'll mention a few sites as well as some possibilities in your local area.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Games of the Moment

I'm playing mostly Star Trek Online and Neverwinter these days - both Perfect World / Cryptic Studios games.

One of the things that I've noted in the past is that when you jump from one MMO to another that what happens is that you lose skill in that game and have to relearn it when you come back.  On the plus side, it does keep things fresh and new - when one game gets boring, going over to one that you haven't played in a while livens things up.

While STO and NW are very different games, because they've both been developed by the same people, it's easier to understand some of the systems.  When I pop on either, I know to look for the various hourly events and that I can basically "teleport" into them from anywhere, I know that it's a good idea to accumulate dilithium/astral diamonds to buy special things, and when the urge arises to spend actual money on the games I can divide the Zen that I buy between them if I want easily enough.

Basically, by trying to stick to a select few MMOs at the moment is my attempt to actually get more skilled and better geared in them.

On Star Trek these days, I've been concentrating on getting my various level-maxed characters finished with their reputation grinds.  The good news is that they just implemented a system with the last episode that allows a character who achieves the highest level of rep with a given group to create a token that can then be given to other characters, giving them double reputation experience with each project that they finish.  So basically, get one character to level 5 reputation, grind out tokens to your other characters, and they then have to spend half of the reputation/items/energy credits to get there themselves.  That was a long time in the coming.

I've also been working on my Klingon Empire character and enjoying the difference in KDF ships and the change in playstyle.  For those of you who don't play, Klingon ships are very focused on forward firing arcs - they're not made to attack to the stern - which I think is very, well, Klingon.

On the Neverwinter side, they just introduced the Ranger class, which I've found to be interesting.  Once they hit level 10, a bulk of their skills can be switched from a ranged mode to a melee mode, which is unique in the game thus far.  After playing my new Ranger a bit, I did head straight back to my favorite - Devoted Cleric.  He's pretty powerful in his own right and I enjoy the idea of being able to heal party members when I do group up.  The thing that I like most about this class is that it's not a sit-back-and-heal type of MMO healer - he's very active in fighting and the very act of doing so charges up his "daily" powers to add extra some extra punch into the mix.

If you do get a chance to try out either of these games, give it a go.  They're both free-to-play and you really can play them for free and be competitive (slightly less so on the STO side).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Leverage RPG Rocks!

Leverage was a cool TV show about a bunch of thieves of various types - Mastermind, Grifter, Hacker, Hitter, and Thief - who joined up to use their skill-sets to do a little good for those who needed help and to bring some justice to those in power who had wronged them.  It was a fun show interspersed with humor and wit...and was canceled at the end of 2012.  As much as I'd wanted to see more, the series probably ran its course and it was given the opportunity for closure with an epic ending.

I was glad to see it made into an RPG by Margaret Weis Productions, using their Cortex system (in the case of this game, Cortex Lite, if you will).  It's a pretty simple and straightforward system that has enough structure to it to make sessions run well and make them interesting, while at the same time giving some serious leeway and generality to make the game what you need it to be.

Instead of highlighting the minute details of the system, I'm going to share with you my favorite parts of it - the things that make it unique and fun to me.

First, is the fact that in this game when you start off gaming you're already at pretty much the top of your profession.  Instead of the challenge in other RPGs of starting at level 1 and working your way up, the challenge of this game is how to best use the awesome skills that you do have to be a part of the team and make the jobs happen.  It's a completely different feel than you may be used to and I think it's a refreshing one.

Even when you roll 1s on your rolls - complications - while you may not succeed at what you were doing and give an extra die to the bad guys to roll at some point, you are still rewarded.  What?  Yes, really.  Whenever you roll a complication you are rewarded with a Plot Point...and Plot Points make the world go around!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy B-Day, Felicia Day!

I first saw her on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as one of the potentials (if you don't know what that means, you didn't watch the show to the end and that's okay, just keep reading) and didn't really think anything of it.  Sure, she was a cute actress - kind of mousy but strong in her own way - but there are a whole bunch of those in Hollywood.

The next time that I saw Felicia Day was on The Guild - a web-sitcom about a guild of MMO players and how they relate to each other in-game and in real-life.  For those who haven't seen the series - and if you haven't, why not? - real-life is the hard part.  Little surprise!  Not only is she the creator, writer, and co-producer, but she also stars in the show.  This is where I really took notice of her.  If you've seen even a single episode, much less a full season, you'll see that there is a LOT of talent there.  Some of my heartiest laughs have come from watching The Guild.

And then, if I wasn't already enraptured by her talent, I later found out that she is a really big geek in real-life.  She loves all things geek, is an actual gamer of many genres, and helps make geeks cool.  If you spot any of her videos going through one of the gamer/geek/tech conventions, they're definitely worth the watch.

She's also made the rounds to all forms of geek-style media.  She's voiced and made live-action shorts for games like Dragon Age 2 and Guild Wars 2.  She's been on shows like Dollhouse, Eureka, and Supernatural.

THEN she takes it to the next level and creates the Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube, producing a whole plethora of awesome shows.  That my most favorite geek in the entire multiverse, Wil Wheaton (who was also on The Guild), is involved in G&S is just icing on the cake.

So here's to you, Felicia (I can only assume that she'd let me call her Felicia) - have the best birthday ever and I wish you many, many more.  Please keep creating and showing the world that geeks are cool!  I know that you are!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rift MMO Now Free To Play!

The Rift MMO has now gone free to play (FTP) as of today with the tag-line, "No trials.  No tricks.  No traps."  As a FTP gamer, you get access to all of the content that the game has to offer.  No activity or area is denied to you.

Players who still pay for their subscription (now called Patrons) get convenience items (ex. faster mount speed) and boosts (xp, tokens, favor, currency) automatically.  There is also an in-game store for micro-transactions of the same type, plus things like more bag slots and vanity items.

So it's definitely NOT pay-to-win here.  Spending money on the game will speed up your gains, but an FTP player will catch up to them and be on a level playing field, just with more time spent leveling.  Inevitably, there will be cries of "pay-to-win!" but with buyable items being convenience and boosts, while not affecting a character's stats, I'm not seeing a good argument for that take on it.

I'm a big fan of this model.  It worked for Star Trek Online, converting largely empty space in-game into thriving zones of players.  Many were free to play but still spent money here and there, those with subscriptions enjoyed the benefits that it gave, and everyone got to play the same content unrestricted.  Hopefully, we'll see the same effect for Rift, turning the game into a better revenue-earner for Trion.  I'm curious to see whether or not they'll end up offering a Lifetime Patron subscription.

Compare this to Star Wars: The Old Republic's "free-to-play" model where nearly everything worth doing is restricted unless you're willing to pay for it on a regular basis, and you'll see what a great idea the Rift/STO model is and all of the positive things they give to their FTP gamers.

Definitely give Rift a try - you have nothing to lose and you may just have a fun and rewarding experience.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Awakening Shadowrun

I'm just about to get into a Shadowrun campaign, so I figured this would be a good time to blog about this role-playing game's world and system.

First, the game Cyberpunk came out in the late '80s and was all about a future where everything was disposable, people replaced their bodyparts with cybernetics as casually they would getting an ear pierced today, and attitude was everything.  Chrome and mirrorshades got you far.  Not long after, Shadowrun came out with a similar background with some twists - magic had come back into the world and the world's history was a bit different from Cyberpunk (and our own).

I say that magic came BACK into the world because, as it turns out, magic operates on a cycle - during some points in the cycle it's not in effect and at other points it's loosed upon the world.

It just so happens that in 2011...magic is back.  Dwarven and Elven babies begin to be born to human parents, a couple of dragons are spotted, and people start to be able to manipulate the power of magic.

By 2017, many Native American factions have formed and are taking back their land from the United States through full on war, culminating in The Ghost Dance where Daniel Howling Coyote led a magical ritual that caused three volcanoes to erupt simultaneously, ending the war, pretty much in the Native Americans' favor.  They'd won back some of their lands.

By 2021, Goblinization occurs - about 10% of the population start turning into Orcs and Trolls as their genetics fully express their true forms in this phase of magic.

Add to the magic part that the corporations are, in essence, their own governments with their own laws and pretty much rule the world, as well as the fact that covert ops have become the de facto method of conducting much of their business, and you have Shadowrun.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Marvel Heroes Almost Live

Yes, Marvel Heroes is going live tomorrow, June 4th!  For those of you who were in the beta, but didn't get some kind of Founder's Pack, you will have to wait until tomorrow for access.  I picked up the Wolverine Starter Pack a while ago now and was able to get in yesterday and saw that some things had changed from the beta and figured that I'd give you guys a heads up.  No mind-shattering changes - just new.

Power icons look to have all been given graphics instead of the stand-in text that used to be there.  Quests so far look the same, though I'll say that you bump into the Black Cat at some point when I don't believe she was there before.  So polish type of updates there.

The biggest difference that I noticed from beta was how your S.T.A.S.H. works.  For those who didn't play beta and have no idea what this is, S.T.A.S.H. is your bank - you store everything there.  While in beta you had one tab that made up your storage and everything went there.  Now you can buy extra tabs.  You start out with one general tab and one tab for each hero that you buy with real-life money; you get no tab for heroes that you start with for free or pick up as loot/quest rewards (though you can buy a tab for them).  You can buy extra general tabs and you can also buy tabs specifically for crafting materials.  Each tab costs 300G or about $3.

So far in the game, it looks like crafting loot drops are slightly less common than they were in beta, but as time goes on, I have no doubts that I'll rack up crafting items.  My plan is to keep combining them until I get to end-game and then use my - by then - nice trove of high level crafting items to round out my characters.

I decided to start off with buying just a crafting tab for now, since I do plan to horde those items across all characters.  Otherwise, I didn't see the need for other tabs.  I'm going to play for a while and see if the general tab is all that I need for my other heroes or if I do need to unlock each heroes' tab also.  With the crafting tab in place, I'm not seeing much of a need to store anything for my heroes beyond cool items that they can't use yet due to level.  So if my Wolverine gets an awesome purple Storm drop, maybe that goes into general but not much else.  If you do intend to do some crafting, I do recommend the crafting tab just so that everything else remains uncluttered.

If you're a Founder, what do you like best about the game thus far?  If you're about to get access tomorrow, what are you looking forward to most?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Regardless, I hope that you have a good time - I'm liking Marvel Heroes so far.  My Wolverine will see your character soon.  In the meantime....*snikt* take care and watch your back.  Evil is out there!