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!