Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First Look At Legacy of Romulus

I just got my new Romulan Tactical officer up to level 20 this past weekend.  That might be a little long for a "first look" but I really wanted to get a feel for the expansion, the new Romulan gameplay, and my own style for this character.  Star Trek Online really did a great job on this one.

Along with the new user interface, which I like (more Next Generation), it's great to see a revitalization of the Klingon faction along with the HUGE interest in the Romulans.  Now that you can play Klingons from level one on, and there is actual Klingon-specific content for them to play, it adds a whole new dimension to the game that wasn't there before.  Being able to start off your gameplay with any faction is a plus.  The new trait system is better, in my opinion, and I really see it as helping you build the character that you want, with the style and specialization that you want, far better than the former system.

My Romulan Tactical officer (notice the Klingon shoulders)

The Romulan storyline paints them as a sympathetic race who just want to live and let live, generally speaking, but still have the signature Romulan guile, secrecy, and paranoia that you've learned to expect from them.  Character uniforms are very nice looking, especially after you've ranked up and picked an ally.  As it's so well known, I'm not calling the fact that you choose either the Federation or Klingons to ally with at some point in your story and then get access to their ships (up to tier 4 - at tier 5, you have to pilot a warbird) a spoiler.  I chose the Klingons, since all of my other characters are Federation and I wanted to try something new and you can see that in my character's picture above (you get to select some faction uniform items).  When you do choose a new ship, it looks like the standard warbird for that tier is free, but if you want an advanced warbird or one of your ally faction's ships it will cost you either Zen or dilithium.  I was actually really surprised by having to pay dilithium for ally ships - it seems that they should have been among the free choices.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Romulan Character Creation (Star Trek Online)

With Star Trek Online's Legacy of Romulus expansion going live, I figured that it would be cool to show you guys the options offered in character creation - specifically the physical customization in the form of face, body, and uniform.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Romulans Are Coming

Tomorrow, Star Trek Online's Legacy of Romulus goes live.  It's a pretty huge update, not only bringing the Romulans and Remans in as new player character races along with Romulan-specific content, but also adding to Klingon faction content.  Klingons will now be starting characters that you level from one through fifty, as opposed to them starting at level twenty after you'd already leveled up a Federation character.  There's more, but these are the biggies.

Since The Next Generation, I've been very interested in the Romulans - their culture and their looks.  Romulans took paranoia and guile to a new level, their signature cloaking devices giving these traits form, if you will.  They always seemed to fit into the puzzle of the Star Trek universe somewhere between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  They were very actively Imperial in nature, through conquest and not negotiation, like the Klingons and unlike the Federation.  They prioritized science and exploration, like the Federation (though for different reasons) and unlike the Klingons.  Stealth was a big part of their combat strategy (like Klingons), but they fought first and foremost for strategic wins and not for glory/honor (like the Federation).  You get the point.

Now, STO follows a different timeline than the J.J. Abrams movies and that point diverges with the destruction of Romulus.  So whereas in the movies Vulcan is destroyed and Spock and Nero travel back in time, in the STO universe Romulus was destroyed and we continue on with a timeline in line with the various series' and disregarding the new Abrams movies (so, basically, the past was not altered).  Regardless, it was very strange to see what were once members of one of the galaxy's largest empires reduced to refugees on a new planet, trying just to get by.  With the coming of this expansion, though, it looks like the Romulans have bridged the gap from "getting by" to "getting back in the game."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

YouTube Careers A Thing of the Past?

I just read some pretty significant news from Gamespot.  Basically, Nintendo is enforcing their copyright on YouTube gameplays of their games.  They aren't having the content taken down, but they are having ads put on the content and claiming the revenue from them.  Check out the full article HERE.

This is big news to a degree that I'd call a potential paradigm shift.  You may ask why I'm making a big deal out of this.

Well, up until now the video game industry hasn't really enforced its copyrights to the point of blocking content which, in my opinion, was a great idea.  When a gamer creates a video with a game's footage in it, it becomes free advertising for the game company.  I can't tell you how many times I myself have watched game videos and have either been lured back to playing it or bought it when I hadn't planned to do so.  No game trailer can give you the insight into a game that seeing actual gameplay can.  Renting a game and trying it out is even better, but that costs money and can't be done at your whim.  You also don't get the opportunity to see very far into the game, generally speaking, and that's a factor in a purchase.

Seeing that gamers enjoyed watching gameplay videos, a community was born that put them up...and eventually started making money in the form of ad revenue and/or from joining companies like Machinima that also sprouted up to take advantage of the same niche.

Now there are YouTube partners like me who won't really care.  I'll be honest with you and say that I had originally intended to try to make some cash from my hobby - most of my videos were monetized - but that brought in the tiniest of trickles of money and in the end I saw myself worrying more about what to put out there to attract the viewers for cash than having a good time putting out content that shared with my viewers what I loved.  You'll notice my videos aren't monetized anymore, that I've continued on, and even expanded my hobby with this blog and am much happier for it.  So if my video viewers can stand the possible ads that may be placed there by the gaming companies sometime in the future, I'll be happy and will continue to put out videos and other content.

There are others out there, though, that put their heart, soul, and pretty much all of their time into turning out videos that are largely made up of gameplay for their large audiences.  And views of those videos (or more importantly views of the ad content) pay their bills, at least to a point.  Add that income to a partnership with one of the bigger gaming news companies out there and that's their living we're talking about.  If game companies start claiming ad revenue from any video that has their game's gameplay in it, these individuals and companies have little reason to expend the effort and resources to put out their content.  They'll likely cease to exist for the most part.

So a great part of this community and the businesses thereof may just fade away IF other game companies follow suit and start enforcing their copyrights and claim ad revenue from videos.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

MMOs I'm Playing: Marvel Heroes

Though it's still in beta, the NDA is lifted and I've been playing it quite a bit, so I figured that I could comment on Marvel Heroes thus far and how it's progressing.  I'll note the caveat that it's still beta and things can and will change.  The short version of my review is: I like it, but I can see it getting repetitive.

This MMO is brought to you by some of the people who created the Diablo series and the game plays a bit like it in terms of character movement, attacks, and powers/skills to a point.  So if you hated Diablo, this MMO may not be for you.  If you enjoyed Diablo, read on.

Important to note is that the game is free-to-play (no monthly subscription fee) with 100% of the content available to you whether or not you spend money in the game's store.  You'll be given a free hero to start with: Hawkeye, Daredevil, Scarlet Witch, The Thing, or Storm.  Beyond that you'll need to either get a lucky drop of another hero as loot or buy one that you want from the MMO store with real-life money.  Alternate costumes for your hero will also cost and otherwise you'll be able to buy temporary xp and other boosts from the store.  Otherwise, if you have the hero and costume that you want and the other stuff doesn't interest you, you never have to pay another cent again.

The thing that I like most about the game is that the developers did a good job of giving the heroes their comic book feel.  It was a little shaky at first, but through their patches it's really improved.  The characters' animations and quips as they go about daily life fighting crime and interacting with other heroes helps this a lot.

Some of the powers/skills seem shoehorned a bit, as if some of the devs got together and said, "This hero needs another skill, but I've already used everything that this guy/gal is known for" to which the others responded, "Just add a bleed/acid/etc to one that you already have even though it makes no sense for this character."  Then again, I haven't read all of the Marvel comics in existence, so maybe somewhere at sometime they used such a thing.  I just don't remember Spider-Man using corrosive webbing.  All in all, though, I think that that the skills/powers are a good representation of each of the heroes and keep to the character.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

MMOs I'm Playing: Star Trek Online

I've been a Trekkie (or Trekker, if you will) since I was a kid.  My Dad, who was a fan, made sure that I watched the original series growing up and I continued on with each series in turn as time went on.  I HATED Enterprise, but that's an explanation for another post.  Imagine my glee when I saw that the aptly named Star Trek Online (STO) MMO was finally coming out!

I went all-in with the collector's edition, took a couple of days off of work, and played until my mouse clicking finger bled.  What I found originally was that it was pretty grindy and it seemed like the developers of the game may not have actually ever watched a single episode of any version of Star Trek.  Aside from missions where you'd beam down to catalog plant life, every mission for the Federation was to go somewhere and blow somebody up.  Star Trek was about more than that - it was exploration, negotiation, defense, and the acquisition of knowledge...and along the way you blew people up.  So I stopped playing for a while (maybe a year).

My curiosity being what it is, I had to return and check the game out.  When I did, I found that new missions had been created.  Yes, you still blew people up, but it seemed like the story behind why was more to defend those who couldn't defend themselves or to really be at the forefront of defending the Federation.  You negotiated here and there, even going so far as to having diplomacy options in your dialogues.  There was a LOT more to do and while it was still ultimately a grind like any MMO, you didn't notice because you could switch between activities if you ever got bored and still progress your character.

I liked what I saw.  So I slapped down the $200 (on sale from $300) for the lifetime subscription and I've never regretted it since.  In fact, it's paid for itself and then some.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Marvel Heroes MMO Beta (The Punisher Gameplay / Commentary)

For this outing on the Marvel Heroes MMO beta, I decided to take out The Punisher and see what he could do.  As it turns out, just like the comic book character, he hits hard and takes no prisoners!

My favorite Punisher powers?  Explosive Rocket - a ranged AOE attack with a REALLY nice damage radius.  Also, Driven By Vengeance - a passive that gives a percentage chance for abilities to cost Vengeance instead of Spirit.  You get a little Vengeance each time you kill a mob.

The Punisher definitely has a lot of possibilities and is very customizable to be the type of character that you like.

Friday, May 10, 2013

And Now I'm A Blogger...Again

I started Tachi Gray as a YouTube channel to share the things that I love - video games, role-playing games, and geek culture - with a larger audience than I have access to in my daily life.  I like to think that those who watch and enjoy my videos take something away from them and that it helps them get a better experience out of their game, etc.

The thing is that the YouTube channel lends itself really well to video games and some gadgets, but not so well to role-playing games and other geek-fu.  I'm definitely planning to have some RPG videos put up in the not-too-distant future and I do see video helping with parts of that, but by and large I have more to say (or write) than I have video type footage to pair with that type of content.  In essence, I hate the idea of viewers checking out one of my videos, expecting a video show, and finding instead me talking a lot with not much going on with the video itself.  That's not what you watch videos for.

And as great as Twitter is, some things that I want to share require more than 140 characters to get across.

Hence, why I looked blogward.  Why Blogger?  It's free, integrated with other things that I do (namely YouTube), and it's easy to manage.  In the past when I blogged, back when it was fresh and cool and not a business model, I used TypePad and it did everything it promised, but if I can get this service for free I'll go for it.  I'm saving up my pennies for, amongst other things, a new PC and I can't justify paying out the cash when I can get it for nothing.

So there you go - the start of the Tachi Gray blog.