Throwback Thursday – Return to Vault 101 [Fallout 3]

When Fallout 4 was announced on Jun 2nd, I was hoping that Bethesda would do much like when they announced Skyrim and the game would be coming later this year. Lucky for me (and everyone!), I was right. But even then, I figured it wouldn’t be announced at E3 that it was available then (but what a way to drop the mic at the end of the Bethesda presentation if they did that) and I needed to get my Fallout fix a little earlier. I remembered I still have my original disc when I bought the game.

2015-06-17 21.28.01Wow, remember when Microsoft was making the big “Games for Windows” push… but anyways, I’m lazy and bought Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition on Steam which includes all the add-ons. I installed the game, hit play, and then… nothing.

Which is when it dawned on me – Fallout 3 was released back in 2008. Back when I was still on Windows XP (because, let’s face it, I was not a fan of Windows Vista). We’ve had Win7, 8, and 8.1 release since then so a game made for an old OS is bound to have a few issues. Luckily, I found a great post in the Steam Community by BenWah that helped me out: ULTIMATE Fallout 3 Setup Guide READ THIS!.

His post goes into a lot great detail but if you’re on Windows 8.1, these are the steps I took:

While this got my game up and running, I noticed I’d get this weird issue where my game would randomly minimize and I couldn’t get it back without forcing the task to stop and reloading. Which is a pain. But again, modders to the rescue! I found Fake Fullscreen Mode Windowed – Alt Tab Fix by BUDA20 that works like a dream.

Now I’m back into Fallout 3 and will do a playthrough while I eagerly (OH SO EAGERLY) await Fallout 4. Or you could take the easy route like CiraCorellia and play it on a console… but seriously, #PCMasterRace. You can do so much more on the PC, even get a high res mod!


2015-04-07 18.55.48

Building myself a new PC

As some may have seen a couple weeks back, I was whining about having some problems with my home PC. The short version is that, all of a sudden, my monitor wasn’t working and after diagnosing it in a few ways, it ended up that a power surge screwed up my motherboard. And, later I found out, my video card, too. The upside is that my main PC is fairly old and, while I’ve been upgrading some of the parts, it was fairly limited and I’ve been wanting to get a new one:

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz
  • RAM: OCZ Fatal1ty Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)
  • Motherboard:  ASUSTeK Computer INC. P5G41-M LX2/GB (LGA775)
  • Graphics: 2047MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (PNY)
  • Storage: Crucial M500 CT240M500SSD1 2.5″ 240GB SATA III MLC (SSD), 1397GB Seagate ST31500541AS ATA Device (SATA)
  • Power Supply: 730W Power Supply – Raidmax RX730SS

So I was definitely ready for an upgrade. The downside is it was some months too early. Right now it is club volleyball season and my daughter has a tournament just about every other weekend for months. I try to keep that time of year on a tight budget due to all the various expenses associated with it — driving, flying, hotels, eating out, etc. Any other time of year, I’d go a little wild and get a PC that is going to last me for a while but, due to this, I have to keep it in check.

At first, I debated just buying a pre-built. This will just be a temporary PC that I’ll end up handing down to my daughter so it doesn’t have to be a powerhouse. And, at a cursory look, building my own and buying a pre-build seemed pretty comparable.

Then I started looking into the details. While I found some pre-builts that were in a good price range, I noticed the Power Supply (PSU) was generally pretty weak… 350w. Add in a few other factors such as the RAM wasn’t from a vendor I’d prefer, the motherboards were built more for a casual user, and I already had an SSD, HHD, and video card I wanted to use and didn’t need more of them (I have a stack of HHDs around here).

I put a laundry list together of parts I wanted to get and took off for my local Fry’s (oh Fry’s, my bane… I always want to buy more when I’m in there!). Unfortunately, most of the exact parts I wanted weren’t there and I was faced with the dilemma of buying it all via NewEgg and waiting, or building another configuration based off of the parts available at the store. Since I’d already been days without my PC and having withdrawals, I opted for building a set of parts but stayed within my budget. I ended up getting:

2015-04-07 18.55.48

… and then add in my SSD, HHD, and video card I already had from my old system. I chose the S340 because I like the look of the case but, more so, it has some great cable management as you’ll see. The i5 I can upgrade later to an i7 if I feel the need and since this is a temporary PC, I don’t really need all the bells and whistles for the motherboard — and neither will my daughter, hehe. I did get a new PSU, though, because the fact that my motherboard went out makes me wonder how well my power supply aged. Better to be safe than sorry.

2015-04-07 19.35.27

It’d been some years since I built a PC… not quite the same as upgrading one. But, luckily, it came back like riding a bike and I got all the pieces properly together and the system booted up fine (sad truth, the first PC I ever built back in like 1998, I fried the motherboard because I put the power supply on wrong).

2015-04-07 20.42.32

My monitor popped on and then I realized it was on my integrated graphics chip so I popped it over to the external card… and nothing. I didn’t have a spare card on me so I went over to Discount Electronics and bought a cheapie to see if Murphy’s Law hit me (no matter how unlikely, it could of been the PCIE slot on the new motherboard) or the card. It ended up being the latter, the power issue fried both my old motherboard and my old video card.

2015-04-09 08.24.11

Part of me wished it was the motherboard because, while I’d have to return it to the store, it is cheaper than buying a new video card. But it is what it is so I ended up grabbing an EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Superclocked ACX (02G-P4-3759-KB) video card. Close to the PNY I had but this one needed to get power via the PSU instead of just through the PCIe slot. Also, since it looks like my old one didn’t work, I grabbed a new battery backup (actually two but the other one is for my wifi and network drives): CyberPower 650VA Battery Back-Up System.

Put it all together and now it purrs like a cat. Actually, that’s a lie, my cats are much louder. This PC is running around a cool 29 °C but I can barely hear it make a sound. So I am back in business… can play some (real) games again (#PCMasterRace) and get back to video editing for my daughter’s volleyball.

See you all in-game!

2015-04-09 08.25.11

I backed Crowfall… but have you?


TL;DR – In case you do not want to read my excessively long ramble, go check out the Crowfall Kickstarter.

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If you’re reading this shortly after I published it, there is less than 24 hours left in the Kickstarter Campaign for the upcoming MMO entitled Crowfall by ArtCraft Entertainment. They have, by far, exceeded the initial goal of $800,000 and may potentially double that by the time it ends so there are no concerns about them not having the funding. But I’m probably getting ahead of myself…. you may be wondering what Crowfall even is.

There is of course a description on the official site that you can read but my quick take on Crowfall is that it is an MMO that is blending MOBA and RTS experiences with the persistence of a traditional MMO. You have your character who lives in the “Eternal Kingdoms” which don’t go away (MMO) but you have these other worlds that are like a mix of a RTS and a MOBA which are not permanent but like an extended campaign or raid. If you play League of Legends, for example, your “Summoner” is your main character while the match you’re playing is more like the campaign. Sorta. The RTS side of things comes in more with the world building and sieging. You know what, instead of me failing at describing the game, I’d recommend checking out their overview video for the Kickstarter:

Now that I have that out of the way, back to my point. So I backed Crowfall. I did it early on (within the first few days) at the Bronze Patron level but after a few weeks, increased that to the Amber Patron level. If you look on my Kickstarter account, you’ll see I don’t back much and, when I do, I generally back it around the price of what I’d pay for the game at retail. Basically I keep my investment where I show support of the game but wouldn’t really lose more than I would if I bought a game at the store, played it, and realized I didn’t like it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I can be a little jaded and grumpy. I’ve sat on both sides of the fence as a gamer and a game developer and it’d be fair to say I have become a casual MMO’er. I haven’t really found one that has caught my attention long-term in the same way the Ultima Online, or Everquest, or Shadowbane did. Not to say I haven’t played a ton of them, but usually it is a few months here and there and then I drop out for a while or permanently. But there is something about Crowfall that is making the fanboi in me get a little sunshine which is why I increased my backing.

I will point out I’m biased. I’ve worked with some of the developers at ArtCraft on other projects. Gordon I just worked with while at BioWare for Star Wars: The Old Republic (and yes, I still italicize that… hard habit to break!) and Todd actually is the one who gave me my break into the game industry at Wolfpack Studios on Shadowbane almost 15 years ago (where does the time go?!).

For me, Crowfall goes a bit deeper than just wanting to support my friends and colleagues, though. You can see more than a little bit of influence of Shadowbane in Crowfall and I spent 8 years of my life on that game. Actually more if you count the time I built a guild (The Fallen) for it and worked on a fan site (anyone remember SBVault) before getting the job offer. I loved the concept of Shadowbane and wanted to see it become a reality so I have a lot of blood, sweat, and tears wrapped up in that.


But Crowfall isn’t Shadowbane nor is it Shadowbane 2. It is Crowfall. And as a game by itself, I think it has a lot to offer both MMO players and the industry. I’ve become bored with a lot of MMOs because most of them are very themepark oriented and, the truth of the matter is, I’d rather play an RPG with multiplayer and some friends than a themepark MMO. When it comes to an MMO, I want something where I can leave my mark on the world. Where my actions have influenced it and when I come onto someone’s radar, it is generally a “whew, thank goodness” or “crap, it’s that damn Ashen Temper”. Y’know, like Cheers. But with swords and sorcery. And fighting. For me, it is all about the social dynamics and I want an MMO that supports that.

I would love for the industry to learn that making a cookie cutter of the “king of MMOs” isn’t necessary and that competitive player-vs-player combat (for a reason) in an open world can be successful when done right. Currently, the only MMO that truly shows that is Eve Online although there are various graves of MMOs that tried and didn’t have the longevity for one reason or another. And I know at least back when I was assisting with game design pitches, investors and publishers were wary of PvP games… they wanted a WoW-killer. In my opinion, you don’t have to be a WoW-killer to be successful.

So why am I writing this long post (and thank you for anyone who actually made it this far… we all know I can ramble)? Crowfall has made its initial goal and many stretch goals. The stretch goal I really wanted they have already met (the Caravan system) although I will admit, it would be nice to get another rule-set (the Infected) and the Tournament system. But I’m here hoping to bring some last minute visibility to those of you who may not have been keeping up with the game or you haven’t even heard of it and it is something up your alley that you’d like to see succeed. And, let’s be frank, making an MMO is not cheap. So while they have met their goals, it’s not like the support won’t help in multiple ways.

Do I have concerns? Of course I do. I already said I’m jaded and grumpy. I listen to a few podcasts about the game and when they get a little overly fanboi, I do cringe a bit (shout-out to Crowns And Crows and Gold And Glory). But I also know Todd and Gordon and other members of the team and I give them more than the benefit of the doubt. And I’m biased. Someday when my daughter is off to college and I can be more frivolous with my money, I want to get back into game design. And my dream has always been to create an MMO where player actions matter. So having more than one MMO out there that proves they can be successful is great because it gives me something to play and shows it can be done when done right.

So my long ramble made short is this — go check out Crowfall and if it looks like something you’d buy, go ahead and back it. The $36 or $40 backings are actually great because they are cheaper than the base game ($50). And since they have already met the 13K Backer stretch goal, you’ll get a free month of VIP Membership which, going by industry standards now is about $15. So for $36, you are getting a $65 value. And that doesn’t count the extra land parcels for those of you who like city building (the 14.5 Backer stretch goal). And if you’re someone who likes to help out in testing, the $100 backing gets you into Alpha 3 where your efforts and voice may hold more weight. Anyways, check it out!



Image by Ed Yourdon - 

SpiceHeads want you to talk with them!

Last week, I wrote up a topic for our community (Spiceworks) in an effort to help new brand reps (what we call “Partners” or “Green Guys/Gals” in the community) understand that it really is all about the engagement aspect when it comes to chatting in the community. I have seen more than a handful of them start up and use a lot of tactics I see used in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and, most of the time, it appears very broadcast-oriented. It wasn’t about chatting with the community, it was talking at them.

Anyways, I didn’t want to lose this one because I really like it and love the direction the conversation has gone. So I wanted to archive it on here so I can reference it later. If you are reading this, though, I’d recommend checking out the actual conversation:

If not, here is what I wrote to kick it off:

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One of the challenges I sometimes see is when a Partner first joins the Spiceworks Community and engages with the social strategies they use in other places. While that content is informative, it is written more in a “talking to” than “talking with” method. And then SpiceHeads, being the helpful people they are, give them constructive criticism of why they dislike being talked at. Sometimes pages and pages of it. And it came to the point where we created a few rules within the community to help alleviate the issue such as:

Knowing a rule exists and knowing why it exists are two different things, though. And I hope that this conversation can help shed light on the latter and explain why it is beneficial to engage in the community versus just broadcasting information.

The quick points that you’ll see discussed below are:

  1. Don’t talk at me
  2. Engageable Content is King
  3. I would rather be on Page 1 than Page 10
  4. Increase your Social Reach

Don’t talk at me.

  • The first example is easy. No one likes being talked to. I talk to my daughter and she just rolls her eyes and counts the seconds till she can get back on Instagram. But when I talk with her about something, it is completely different. She’s engaged in the conversation and tends to remember the things we chatted about longer. The rest of us are really no different and if you are looking to inform SpiceHeads, engaging with them has a much longer lasting effect.

Engageable Content is King.

  • One of the things to know is that getting people to respond to you is really the lifeblood of the community. Forgive me SpiceHeads, but I’m about to reference other social communities and I know how much you love to chat about them here. But it is something I see that brings the point home a lot faster. Getting someone to respond to you is much like getting a “share” on Facebook or a “retweet” on Twitter. It is that element that really brings attention to the conversation. The next two points cover the major reasons why that is.

I would rather be on Page 1 than Page 10.

  • Think of it this way. Say I have a blog post that is extremely informative or an event my organization is going to host. If I just post the information, some people will read it but if it doesn’t really have that engageable element, they won’t reply to it. And then my conversation quickly falls from page 1 to page 2 in a matter of minutes… and for some discussion groups, much faster! But by speaking with SpiceHeads, you not only get them replying to it, you generally get some great information and feedback from them. For example, If I’m trying to explain to someone why my product is a good fit for them, the more data points I have from them, the better I can show them why. But sometimes SpiceHeads just assume you know everything so you have to ask them key questions to help fine-tune that answer.

Increase your Social Reach.

  • Another good reason for talking with SpiceHeads is they have Followers of their own. Right now, I’m just shy of 630 followers so when I post something, all of them get it in their feed. But, if I do it right, maybe I get someone like Gabrielle.L to reply who has 232 followers. And then maybe David Scammell and Bob Beatty who have about 700 followers together. And if I’m lucky, Rob Dunn and Scott Alan Miller engage in the topic as well. Cumulatively we have about 8,500 followers between us. Granted, there is some overlap there but by conversing with these other SpiceHeads, my message has reached a lot more people. And if the topic is a good one and enough people talk with me, that conversation might even get featured on the Start Page which puts a lot more eyes on it.

There are other reasons I can bring up and, as you can see above, I can ramble on and on about Spiceworks and my opinions on best practices. But the ones above are the items I find myself bringing up often with people new to Spiceworks and looking to reach IT pros. And in these chats, there are two conversations I do find myself constantly using for reference (both of which are good reads):

With that in mind, I turn to all of you. What is it about quickly infoblurbs (a few words and a link) that you dislike? Or what is it you like when you see Partners engaging with you?

Speaking of Partners, those of you who have found success in the Spiceworks Community, do you have any hints or tips on things you’ve found that works well when trying to answer an IT pros question or sharing your own content?

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If you’ve read all of this, I highly recommend reading the responses to the article which are equally if not more so helpful!

I fear I was too successful in teaching my daughter about finances

Debit and Credit CardsThis year, I was quick to do my taxes. QUICK. As in the moment I received my W2 , which was the last piece I needed to do them, I did it that night. I wanted to do it as quickly as possible because I’ve been aching to build a brand new PC (#PCMasterRace #PC4Life, heh!). I’ve been upgrading components of it over the years… 8 GB RAM, SSD for my OS and most used programs, GeForce GTX 750 Ti, Windows 81. (with Classic Shell, of course), etc. But my motherboard and processor are pretty ancient at this point. I have an ASUSTeK P5G41-M LX2/GB running a Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 2.33GHz. There are some things I do that pushes it to the limit, such as video editing for my daughter’s volleyball stuff and I’ve noticed that Dragon Age: Inquisition just barely runs “well” on it.

Now, me being me, I could just upgrade my current system but my plan is to build a brand new one and use my old one to run off of my TV (my own version of a Steambox) or let my daughter use it since it’s more powerful than her laptop (GPU wise, at least). Either way, I have convinced myself to build a new PC from scratch and have it all specced out via PCPartPicker and Newegg. Wouldn’t be the super PC but it’d spin circles around my current one and have some good upgrade potential for the next few years.

Today I go to pay bills and noticed there is a chunk more in my account that there should be. Sure enough, my tax return came in! I, our course, have to express my excitement and tell Kat that we’ll be going to Fry’s today after I price-check against Newegg (so I can get the best deals, of course). And then I hear “Are you sure you really should do that, dad?” The moment I asked her what she meant, I regretted the words that came out of my mouth.

You see, when I was younger, I made some dumb decisions with credit (credit cards, lines of credit, loaning, etc). I luckily learned from my mistake(s) early on and have paid almost all of them off systematically. But I talk to Kat so she understands and learns from my mistakes so that when she is at college (too soon, too soon!), she doesn’t get herself in debt and learns to properly live on a budget.

So while dreams of new PC parts are flashing in my eyes, my daughter explains to me that my tax return is more than enough to pay off one of the last cards I have. I struggle with finding a reason to explain to her that normally she’s be right but in this instance she’s wrong. Obviously I failed because she is right. So I paid off that bill this morning, with her standing over my shoulder to make sure I do, and I still have some left over. So I figure out that maybe we’ll still buy all the pieces and put the rest of them on credit and before I finish my sentence I get the “Are you serious?!” look from her.

Instead of running off to Fry’s to buy all my new components, I’m just going to buy a few of them and start building it piece by piece. This volleyball club season ends in a few months so I’ll have more dispensable income at that point and can just buy the rest without putting anything on credit.

But seriously, I need to explain to her one day that I’m the parent and she’s the kid.

Shadowbane Lore

So, I’ve been terrible with keeping this site up to date or even getting it into working order initially. Due to some of the fun I’ve been having participating in the Crowfall community, though, it’s forced me to start adding some of the old Shadowbane stuff I have. Which is why you will see a Shadowbane Vault in my main navigation. Right now it just has some of the music and lore but there is still a ton to add.

So if you’re a fan of some great lore, I’d definitely recommend checking it out: Shadowbane Vault.

This place is a mess

Yes, I know. I’m restoring for an old version back before my site was hacked as well as transitioning back to WordPress. Tried vBulletin and while I love it for the forum solution, just not sold on it as a blog or CMS without some major tweaks and time investments which would branch it… figured since this is more my “blahg”, no sense in spending that much time in it.

TL;DR – I’ll get the place cleaned up Soon(TM).

Initial Impressions of Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter

As you can see to the side, I’ve played a few hours of Cryptic’s new Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter which is published by Perfect World. Early access started on April 25th for “Heroes of the North” which looks to have cost about $199, April 27th for “Guardians of Neverwinter“, and on April 30th for non-Founders. I am part of the latter category and didn’t start until April 3rd.

For a little context, I did not really keep up much with the development of this game and, as of writing this, I’ve only put in about 4 hours so this is really just first impressions for me. I was surprised to see only a few classes. Right now there is the Rogue, Guardian, Wizard, Cleric, and Fighter. There looks to be at least another one “coming soon” but there seem to be a few missing so unsure what it is. Bard, Druid, Ranger, Sorcerer, etc. I’ve only just hit Level 13 so maybe there is some form of multiclassing that goes on to create your own archetypes and the first 6 are just base classes.

I decided to go with a Half-Elf “Trickster Rogue” named Tarrant the Pale on the Mindflayer server. You customize your character a bit and then choose what city you come from (unsure if the latter is just flavor or will lead to something more).

If you want to go straight to my opinions, just click here.

The Walkthrough

The beginning starts simple enough and is there just to teach you the general mechanics – moving, looting, equipping. I did find it odd that the first scene on the beach the elf didn’t move his mouth… but they do later. Not a big thing, but just weird.

You get normal quests, they will tell it to you but you can also read it. The voice acting isn’t bad. No Jennifer Hale but I’ve heard worse (a lot worse). The walkthrough is going from the beach where you wash-up to fight your way to the city via the bridge. It’s pretty linear and easy to do but I imagine this part of the game is just to get you familiar with the mechanics and flavor of the game.

The City

Once you make it across the bridge, you make it into the first major hub of the game (or maybe its the only one, unsure at this time). It is that time it become apparent that it’s an MMO. Or, at least that you’re playing with a lot of people. More on my thoughts of the “MMO” part further down.

You get a few delivery quests but the first real quest line I got was the “Theft of the Crown” where you first try to save the crown (and fail) and then are being led through other zones in pursuit of the crown.

I was expecting to get stealth early on but didn’t get it till I think Level 10. Your initial abilities are pretty much combat oriented. You have a general slash, throwing knives (of sorts), a blink into the air and then hit people for above (sometimes dazing them), a blink behind them, and then this big dagger-like spell that pierces the entire side of the targets body. You also get a special and the first one you have access to is essentially blinking around the battlefield stabbing people for a short duration. You can find my second play session on Twitch.

I participated in a few skirmishes which look to be an instanced “protect the hill” kind of adventure. Essentially you and a few people must hold a location against a few waves of creatures. It’s a quick-fun kind of thing if you want to play with some people.

Player vs Player

I also tried out PvP. Wasn’t great at it but I did’t completely fail…

I popped in at I believe Level 12 and had it increased to Level 19. My guess is they are done in brackets and everyone is pushed up to the top level of that bracket to make it a little more level/fair. The map I played in felt very much like the domination maps in Unreal Tournament, but with less hold points. You essentially had yours, a middle one, and theirs. And why it reminds me more of UT than WoW is for the simple fact that it would say “Your team dominates” so often.

Your team spawns in at once side, the other team on the other side, and you butt heads in the middle for the most of it. I didn’t know anyone on my team and wasn’t using VoIP so I didn’t coordinate very well. For the most part, I would try to jump in on the target my team was trying to kill and then would find myself being the focus of a fight (which isn’t a good thing when you’re a rogue). You get points for holding an area and the first to I believe 1,000 points wins. At the end, a score board would come up and show how well (or bad) everyone did. The fight ran about 15 minutes and it was simple fun.

My General Opinions

So far, I haven’t paid a cent. Had a paid $60 (or $200), I might not like the game as much. But considering I didn’t have any cost of entry and haven’t felt like I’ve had to pay to compete, it’s been a fun game. The art is not amazing but it does give me the old Neverwinter Nights look ‘n’ feel-ing. The sounds aren’t bad at all (I turn down my music so I can’t speak much to that). I like the Races they offer to start with (yeah, you can’t be a Drow right now unless you fork over the $200 but you do get it in a few months) although I did find the class selection to be limited.

If they were “base classes”, I could understand it but I haven’t really seen a system for real diversity in the long-term. Sure, you can train up your abilities with each level but even then, you seem to be gated on those. You can train them up to Level 2 and cannot get up to Level 3 until you’ve spent X enough of points… but at Level 14, I see to have all of my skills trained up to Level 2 so far. You also start to access feats at around Level 10 and you get three lines for that but they seem to be bonuses, not changes in play style. Maybe it gets more limiting or diversity at higher levels but right now, not seeing it.

Maybe that is when the Paragon Trees come into play. I see I can be a Saboteur, Scoundrel, or Executioner but haven’t been able to spend anything in them yet. It looks like I need to spend 20 or more points in my feats till I can so maybe it shows up around Level 30 or so.

The combat is fun. For the most part, I start a getting the group [of baddies] all in front of me and “Dazing Strike” the lot of them then basic attack (“Sly Flourish”) them. If one is a caster or someone with a special attack, right before the do it, I “Deft Strike” and blink behind them so it misses me. When the target warrants it, I do pull out the “Lashing Blade” which essentially is a big direct damage. And when there is a big fight, I use “Lurker Assault” which does extra damage and lets me use stealth more or I swap in “Bloodbath” where I flash around slashing targets. It’s fast-paced, you get to use some tactics and strategies for certain targets.

The one thing I don’t really understand is why is this an MMO? I mean, I do see people running around and I know I’m not the only one playing. I’m just unsure why this was made into an MMO instead of more of a lobby-type game. I like the skirmishes and PvP so far, but again, easily done in a lobby mode. And I’d like to group up with some friends, but again, could of been done in a lobby. I’ve yet to see why this is instead a persistent world. Then again, I guess I could say the same about a lot of MMOs as of late. They feel more like massively single-player games (yes, I do realize the irony in me saying that).

Overall, I think this is just a fun little action RPG. I could see me playing this with my daughter or a few friends. Not something I’d go all hardcore MMO into, but I can see myself playing it when I have a little downtime. I will probable end up spending a little cash just to see if it makes a difference but, so far in that aspect, it feels a lot like GW2 were I never felt like I had to spend real money (which is an issue with some F2P where you pretty much need to).

I’ll probably post a few more videos and maybe another update when I’m deeper into the game. But if you have the free time and looking to dabble into something new, I recommend checking it out (but I’d play before buying any of the packs):


The Camelot Unchained Kickstarter

About a month ago, the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter launched. You can read the Kickstarter page or the official website if you’re unfamiliar with it but here’s the not-so-quick blurb:

City State Entertainment, led by online game pioneer and Mythic Entertainment founder Mark Jacobs and code guru and CSE co-founder Andrew Meggs, needs your support to make the next great Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) for the PC and select tablets (stretch goal dependent). As one of the very early online gaming developers (circa mid-1980s) and the creative driver behind Dark Age of Camelot®, Mark has seen online games grow from an unloved, mostly ignored part of the industry to a major driving force. He believes the time is right once again for a small, barely known studio to craft a title that can compete in today’s market, just as in 1999 when Mythic Entertainment began work on Dark Age of Camelot.

Camelot Unchained takes one part classic legends, adds a twisty little apocalyptic passage, and mixes in a whole batch of creativity to birth not just another “me and my WoW-clone”, but a unique RvR-focused MMORPG. It is against the backdrop of an almost unrecognizable world that our game unfolds, and as a player of Camelot Unchained, you can expect the following:

  • Camelot Unchained is a subscription-based, RvR-focused MMORPG. RvR is an acronym for Realm vs. Realm® (this term is a registered trademark of Electronic Arts), which we call TriRealm™ for the interaction of the three main realms.
  • The game will feature RvR-based leveling tracks for all classes. No PROGRESSION VIA PvE (player vs. environment), loot drops or other such systems are currently planned. All leveling will come from engaging in the game’s RvR-based systems, whether by fighting other players, capturing objectives, and/or crafting objects to help in RvR. There will be NPCs but you cannot use them to level your character.
  • You will have the choice of playing any realm on each of the game’s servers except that you may play only characters from the same realm on any single server. In other words, one server = one realm.

Considering my background in MMO gaming and the fact that I enjoyed Dark Ages of Camelot (DAoC) and would of played more of it if I wasn’t so invested in Shadowbane, this one became a no-brainer for me. I started to follow the updates and figured I’d help fund it before the last day came along.

The other day, I got a Google Alert for a mention of Shadowbane on VG24/7 which was for the article “Camelot Unchained: surviving the freemium apocalypse” where a nice nod was given to Shadowbane (hey, for all its faults, it was hella fun!):

“It’s really a question of looking at Camelot, looking at other RvR games – whether it’s Guild Wars 2 or Shadowbane – and other games that have come out across the last 20 years of MMOs and go, ‘OK, what things are in these games that frankly, we don’t want to see in our game? What things can we improve on and what do we want to expand on, given a pure RvR setting?’

It was more so a nice article to remind me that I hadn’t backed it yet. So I went over to it and, I have to admit, I was quite surprised when I saw they didn’t make their goal yet. By T-1 I figured they would be well into stretch goals, especially considering the fact that they had so many backers within the first 24 hours. In fact, within the first 8 hours, they passed the $500,000 mark!

I’m obviously interested in the gameplay and a fan of the genre (being MMO) but it wasn’t just that which made me think they’d be past the set goal by now. First, Dark Ages of Camelot was very successful and much loved so figured they’d get a lot from that. Mark Jacobs isn’t necessarily an unknown in the industry (much the opposite). They did a great job of getting that groundswell well before the Kickstarter even launched. Piquing people’s interests with teaser videos, letting out little snippets here and there, basically just getting a good amount of buzz before it even started. And the goal itself wasn’t lofty. Two million to make an MMO isn’t really that much when you think of how much goes into it and when they originally launched, I wondered why they set it so low (considering all of the above).

But here we are, 21 hours before the Kickstarter concludes and it is only at $1,883,318. Is it still doable? Definitely. A good surge of backers can easily get them over the next $117,000 or so they need to fund it.

My question to everyone, though, is why isn’t it as successful (at least as I thought it would be)? And my interest isn’t just in this but also in games getting crowd-sources (especially MMOs). If you didn’t back (and happen to be one who would back a Kickstarter), why not? Didn’t know about the Kickstarter in the first place? Not a fan of the concept? Tired of MMOs? Too many dragons?

Update: And look at that; 19 hours to go and they already passed their goal with $2,023,462 pledged!


I Haz a Sad aka Age of Empire II: HD Edition

Unfortunately, I’ve been sick these last few days. I do not enjoy being sick. Not that I think anyone does but I really, really hate being sick. So usually I get better pretty fast, sleeping and taking Airborne and whatever else I can to help get my system in fighting order.

One of the things I like to do aside from sleep and watch some shows and read when I’m sick is play games. And then I remembered that I pre-ordered Age of Empires II: HD Edition… and that it came out while I was out of town! So I jump on Steam, download it, and get ready to play. It goes through the normal setting up process and finally I get in. I see the game and the nostalgia comes back. I loved AoE2 much more than I did the third one and while I still have my copy of it, getting the HD version was a must have.

Unfortunately, after a few moments, I start to notice the game is really laggy. Really, really laggy. That sort of perplexes me because my system easily runs all the other games that came out recently with the bells and whistles turned on, so why was AoE2HD giving it a problem?

Anyways, I try to change my graphics options to see if that would fix it but I couldn’t really change much except the full-screen setting. Figured I’d try that and see if it would miraculously help. But it didn’t. I looked to see if there was anything else I could tweak but couldn’t find a file.

Reading up in the Steam Community, seems like this was a known issue prior to launch and may have to do with Win7 64-bit systems (maybe). And while I understand that PC development can be a PITA to test out on all the different systems that are out there (hardware, drivers, etc, etc) I do keep mine pretty clean and up-to-date. So it first boggles my mind that an “HD” version of a, what, 13 year old game is bogging down my system… and that they released it with this issue (which looks to be fairly prevalent). Now, with the latter point, that it could just be a few vocal people having the issue but, in my experience, for every vocal person there are a good 5 – 10x more people who are not talking about it (when it comes to a bug).

Now, granted, I’m upset about this. I’m sick. I’m running a fever. I’ve literally gone through an entire Kleenex box of tissues, and I just want to play my game without it looking like a screenshot slideshow.

But, as I’m digging around, I see this update for the developers: 4/17 – Dev Update: A note about patches. And one of the first items on the build notes are:

  • Frame rate & performance improvements that increase frame rates up to 50% on low end machines and up to 500% on the high end systems previously experiencing frame rate issues.

Steam being the awesomeness that it is, I go look to see if there is a “Beta” under the Properties tab for the game and there are a few, one labeled “Performance”. So I’m going to go test that out and hopefully I can lose myself in a little AoE2 fun and forget my stupid cold for a bit.

Update: For anyone else running into the same issue, try out the Beta Performance patch. Worked just fine for me. Played for about 30 minutes without any of the frame rate issues.