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The above link is my Flipboard magazine -- a currated collection of articles, tweets, even videos about console gaming, MMOs & DragonCon.  Over 2000 viewers and growing.

Disclaimer

History: This blog is the third incarnation, and started as a paper RPG & desktop gaming blog.  After starting the MMO City of Heroes days after its launch in 2004,  It developed into one dedicated to that MMO, as it remained for nearly eight years. On November 30, 2012 that MMO was shut down by the company NCSoft despite an outpouring of fan support and community outrage.  Starting In December 2012, I'm going to be opening up the focus of the blog to cover ANYTHING gaming I'm playing, be it PC, XBox 360, iPad, Dragon*Con, etc.

That being said, their will be images from various games posted on this blog.  No claim here is made to the games, and no intent to infringe on any copyrights are inferred.   Copyrights are property of the respective companies.


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Comments on-topic are welcome.

EMAIL any legitimate hyperlinks to me and if on topic, they'll be added to my LINK page. 

 

 

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Thursday
Jan032013

Skyrim == Latest activity

I've been spending a lot of time on Skyrim.  My 3rd PC character was Skorvold Hammer-Hand.   I wanted a low-magic Heavy Armor Nord, and went one armed specializing in a Mace.   I also wanted to try lockpicking (I had heard good things about the Treasure Hunter Perks in the tree), and I've never done much with Shields.   That's how he started out.   I did the Companion quests first, then sided with the Stormcloaks.   I've worked up enchanting and smithing, not touching the other magical areas.   Even archery I've only given one perk along the way.   Smithing has all been heavy side.    I've gotten all the mace perks on the one armed side and all the basic damage bonuses.   It still seems weird decapitating with a mace, but it happens.

I went around with steel armor, then orcish, then Blades armor for the longest time, before I could do Ebony.   Starting with the Blades, I got everything enchanted -- giving me combat bonuses, healing rate increases.

It has worked suprisingly well.  I'm at level 38 now, having ended the Civil War, became Archmage, Bard,  defeating dozens of Thalmor, Potema, Alduin & Parthurnax along the way.   I'm got the Falkreath house ONLY via Hearthfire, not even buying Breezehome.   Its 95% complete except for a few stuffed animal heads.    The family is Ysolda, Hroar & Runa.   I've got nearly 60,000 gold saved up -- I hope to get that 100K achievment then go on a spending spree. 

One annoying thing is my luck with mounts.  I got a free horse from the unmarked bandit camp on the west side of Whiterun's cliffs.  He stuck with me for 10 levels before getting killed in a Dragon / Frost Troll skirmish.   I purchased one at the house, and he didn't last 2 minutes -- Bandits attacked right after I exited the house and he died without ever being rode.  *sigh*.   I got another one that lasted  about a level, but still died too quickly.  I picked up the Horse skull in the soul cairn so I can summon him now.  I do have to put on some magicka gear to be able to cast the summon spell though.  

I just got the ability to do daedric items.  The trip to Soul Cairn gave me a half dozen black soul gems and a dozen or more grand ones all with grand souls.    I've done up a couple deadruc maces -- enchanted one with a soul trap.   Called it "Doomclaw", replacing my older "Soulcrusher" mace.   Enchanting can let you be so creative some times.  I hope to play this guy long enough to do dual enchantments -- something I've never done before.

I did snag the Molag Bal mace early on in a week moment.  But I've retired it.   Dawnbreaker also was used for a while but retired.  Dragonbone too.   I turned down the Rueful Axe -- which I've never done before.  Blame that on that talking dog -- he makes you WANT to kill him.   The Clavicus Masque is probably why I've been doing so good with vendors -- and it doesn't look out of place with Ebony armor.  Though I tend to switch to my Ebony helm often enough.

Smithing and One armed is in the 90s now.  Blocking and archery are in the high 40s.  I'm currently going through the Dawnguard stuff,  about to head out for the Moth cavern to read the Blood Scroll, which probably puts me halfway through that or more.  With enchanted jewelry, my one armed attacks are starting at 180 before any elemental damage effects.   USUALLY means I knock stuff down in a couple hits.    

This run has come across several unfamiliar dungeons though.   Given the number of hours I've put into the game, they always come as a surprise.   There are somethings in Skyrim I've never done .  I've not escaped jail, nor done that Silver-Blood questline in Markarth all the way through.    It just goes to show you how much they've stuck into Skyrim.  I tend to play the hero not the villain.

Gotta get back to some Champions and Secret World soon...

 

Thursday
Dec062012

NCSoft paying the price

Continuing on yesterday's comments,  BoycotNCsoft reports an 11% drop in NCSoft stock prices at the opening bell following the news of late.   Even Slashdot has reported similiar findings.

MMOs are designed to get people together to enjoy a common setting whatever that maybe.  Working toward a common goal.  But they don't stop when the players disconnect.  Groups of players in Guilds, Clans, or Supergroups, whatever they may be called bind players together.    Forum sites, be they Official or not,  trade information, tips, tricks, artwork, fiction, etc. to even wider audiences.   Like it or not, however it happened, City of Heroes developed a very well connected community with a widespread scope of talents.   For years NCSoft didn't have to promote the game -- They had tens of thousands of word-of-mouth advertisers.    

Sadly NCSoft ignored that.   And now that community has gone 180 degrees AGAINST them.   Their actions so far provokes that community -- they are not quieting down.  They aren't going away.   

MMORPGs by their very nature require a large amount of time to play.   While some video games end after 50 or 100 hours of play, these games may take several times that on just a single character.   They are giving us a chance to live alternate lives.    Some people will not give up on those lives easily.   Publishers need to realize that this revenue source comes at a price.   We the players depend on these games being kept open as long as possible.  Once the game poplulation begins to diminish and retreat than the game's life is nearing its end.    

Any publisher stopping a game before that point, is violating the trust of their players.   There are thousands of City players who will never touch an NCSoft product again.   They will be advising their friends in person or online of NCSoft''s history.   They'll have to spend more and more money on advertising to get fewer and fewer players.   In the end, i wouldn't be surprised if within 2 years NCSoft is no longer doing business in the United States.   I'd expect them to change their name and logo within the next few months to evade the bad press.   I think the current branding is permanently stained and tainted beyond repair.

I hope that this is a heads up for ALL MMO publishers.   We realize games will die.   As new games come out, newer systems allow for newer and better engines, that people will move on.  MMOs are trying to get into consoles here and there so eventually the audience may grow.    But as we make our online homes in these games, we have a trust that they will be available as long as they are viable.  The publishers should work WITH this communities.    They shoudn't ignore them.  They shouldn't discredit them.  And above all they shouldn't anger them.  

NCsoft is learning a bitter lesson.

 

Sunday
Dec022012

Switchover

The blog update has begun.   It'll be a work in progress until the dust settles.   Expect to see City of Heroes odds and ends as I find them and post them.   After over 8 years of screenshots, covers, alternate characters, there is a lot of memories I'm filing away.  Add to that that I'll be replacing my computer shortly, and you'll find that I've got a lot of files I'll be going through as I preserve the memories.  Hopefully the good feelings will outweigh the bad feelings the shutdown caused.  Let the healing begin.

 

  • I just picked up Need for Speed Most Wanted -- I'm having fun with it, even if controling the cars is a bit odd at times.   I do like the structure of the game.  Except for the elite 10 cars, you can find new vehicles rather easily.   I've not tried Multiplayer yet, but will, once I feel I've got the hang of it.  I've already beat my first elite vehicle.
  • Skyrim is still calling me.  Other than City of Heroes, this has been my chief game over the past 8 months.  I think I finally picked it up in late spring.  It is such a vivid world, and the game system is robust enough to handle multiple character types.   I will admit to some altism on this.   My first major toon was a Nord, but he was a jack of all trades, which meant he mastered none.   Of late I've got a Nord Two-Handed Heavy Armor fighter going -- Almost no magic on this guy save for Enchanting.  Alduin has already fell, and I've got him in full Deadric armor.  Smithing is up into the 90s, so Dragonplate armor may be coming.   I prefer it to the Deadric in looks.  With the skill and bonuses he's running with nearly 200 damage per swing of his axe.   I've had Dragonscale on a light armor character before, but never dragon plate.   I've got a lizardman mage as well.   He's taken on the vampire lord but not Alduin.    Both are in their 30s, although the nord (Yngsmar the Cleaver) is at 39 I believe.  I'm anxious to have them ready as Dragonborn, the new DLC will be coming out on the 4th -- two days.
  • I've got several characters in Champions so far --Including a tank version of the COH character Wild Deal,  a Hybrid force user version of Doctor Futura and others.   There is a heave COH presence in the Champions game now.   Even the SGs I'm seeing harken back to COH classics, or hint at City elements and Servers.  I've seen "Justice Girls ", "Shards of Virtue", "Survivors of the Apocolypse" and others of late, and there is a CoX chat channel that is abuzz with ex City players.  I suspect villain players might go DCUO, since so far Champions doesn't do villains.   It also doesn't do customizable SG bases, which seems to be a sore point for ex-CoX players.

 

 

 

Saturday
Dec012012

Its over

Virtue got fussy the last few hours -- and crashed 4 times.  The final time was in the last 5 minutes.  I tried to get in one last hero tip mission with Doctor Futura, but failed to complete it due to the third crash.  And I was right next to the Longbow I was attempting to rescue.

It took quite a while to get on after that.   With less than an hour to go I joined the other Gods of the Golden Age & Young Gods of the Golden Age in the base.   Some final farewells were exchanged, and a multitude of screenshots were taken.   With less than 10 minutes to go we were taking this pose.   I got hit by the crash.  This was the last CoH screenshot I'll take.   Heaven knows I've down thousands a year for ages.  (open the image in a new tab for the fullsize image)

Listening into the Cape, I found it happened a server at a time shortly after the 3 o'clock bell.

 

I came to City to reunite with old paper RPG friends.  I ended up making several new ones in various groups under various identities.   I find it hard to say goodbye to City of Heroes.   Very Hard.  It has made me very depressed.   Going the way it did, it is hard to remember the good times.

 

Friday
Oct052012

The NCSoft response

We finally got a response from NCSoft to all the Save the game activities.  

 

City of Heroes® Players and Fans,

We wanted to let you know that your voices have been heard and your concerns have been taken into serious consideration. We appreciate the overwhelmingly constructive and positive messages in the emails, notes, and packages you've sent in support of the game. It has not been an easy decision for us to close Paragon Studios® and prepare to shut down City of Heroes. We've exhausted all options including the selling of the studio and the rights to the City of Heroes intellectual property, but in the end, efforts to do so were not successful. City of Heroes has a special place in all of our hearts, and we want to ensure its reputation and the memories we share for the game end on a high note.

Once again, we will be holding events throughout the process of preparing for the game's end, and we encourage players and fans of the franchise to join forces and enjoy their time in a game that we've enjoyed supporting for more than eight years.

The NCSOFT® Team

 

I have sincere doubts that this means anything serious is to be done.  The above response to mean has a "Don't send us anything, we're not doing squat" tone to it.   They've got to be irritated by the negative publicity the shutdown of City has caused them.   Part of me is thinking "GOOD!!!"

Meanwhile Atlas Park 33 still remains on Virtue WEEKS after the Rally event.     I noticed last night that the SKI SLOPE was up in Pocket D.  A nice touch -- given the timing of the shutdown I never expected to see it.

Part of me hopes for a Halloween event , but the other that is snapping screenshots thinks otherwise.  The sun never comes up during that event which is going to make for gloomy, less colorful screenshots outside. 

The City isn't the same now.   The rush of new toons into Atlas Park, a staple of the game for 8 years, is non-existant.   The constant spamming by influence/infamy peddlers seems to be gone.   Gone as well is the Supergroup recruitment spamming.   Anyone advertising for a Farm usually gets a "You know the game is ending" comment back.  People are SPENDING everything they've got.   Some people win Wentworth lotteries, with people paying hundreds of thousands or millions for trash salvage.   I saw one supergroup wanting to maintain their high rank on the server to the end, and asking people to buy prestige for the group to do so.

Some zones in some servers are really bad.   I was on an old character -- Ace of Clubs on Infinity.  He was one of the first toons I made, a super reflex martial artist, but was abandoned after my friends started up toons on Virtue instead.   I've kept him going over the years there, logging in for event badges on him, but little else.  It seems strange to have a toon with 8 celebration badges and still be under level 20. But on Infinity I found him before Ms. Liberty ALL ALONE.  Checking there were 4 heroes on that zone on that server.  In the middle of the evening, this was FAR from the usual levels on a secondary server.    One character was in the Praetorian zones -- and I never saw a soul.

I've been lax in refreshing less-played characters, but no supergroup has given a hero the boot for not logging in.  Why bother, eh?

Overall, to a long term player, City now is one of heroes with a sad mix of hope, determination, desperation and overall depression.  The cries for a boycott of NCSoft can be heard more and more over the voices of reason.   Clearly these are the players who love this game.   I have my doubts that more than a fraction will trust NCSoft down the road.   Based on the trend their STOCK has taken, I don't think the death of City helped them at all, and probably has HASTENED their eventual demise. 

The petition to Save CoH is still up and slowly getting more signatures, at 20644 as I write this.  If you haven't signed it please do.

 

Tuesday
Sep042012

Dragon*Con Day 4 - Wrap-up

The last day of Dragon*Con started off with a bang, with a session of the Guild, including ALL actors.  Combined it was a trip.  Almost all questions and answers, and some of the questions were NOT good for half hungover guests first session of the morning.   

I did a little last minute shoping and found several books, including more graphic novels at half price.   The last day of the con is ALWAYS a good day for bargains.  IF the vendors have got anything left, they want to lighten their load for the trip back.

This was followed by 3 consective MMO track events.  The first was a rundown by Gazillion on the Marvel Heroes MMO.  I'd forgotton about this track Saturday, as it came up in the COH session as something that had been halted and dropped again.     The Marvel Heroes Online  is unlike the other 3 games, since you DON'T do custom heroes at all.  There is some variability from any two players playing a hero.   It seems to be intance controled so the players chose a character in order.  Now they can select various costumes for each, so it is possible to have multipe Wolverines or Hulks in the same mission.  Further you seem to get loot which translates to manuevers.   So Hulk one might have some ground smash or Clap that a more experienced Hulk player.   It was unclear as to how much translates between characters.  If you spend all your time as Daredavil or Hawkeye, does that translate into ANY bonuses when you first try Hulk or Wolverine?   Anyway it sounds interesting, but I really think it deserves a NON MMO category to separate it from those that have characters, levels, etc.  It sounds like they are trying for isometric action game (aka Marvel Ultimate Alliance?) with heavy action.  Diablo was mentioned for comparison as the Gazillion rep had worked on both.   Motion Comics style intros play up story telling.   One of the ones they had was a religious anti-mutant crusade group, with Professor X getting heroes, mutant and non-mutant alike to work against them.   Sounds like they've got good voiceover work and story telling.   I just don't think that TOTAL blockout of  

The next session was on community -- AND since both the Gazillion and Sony Online Entertainment representative were EX NCSoft employees, City of Heroes came up frequently , both for good and bad community experiences.   Both seemed surprised and puzzled by NCSoft's move to shut down COH.   

The last was the MMORPG track wrap up.   It went full time, and seemed to be 90% good.   A few mistakes, but nothing major this year.   Considering the track was in a larger room, but different hotel, it made things interesting at times.   Promise of internet that never came true.   Signs that weren't in place on Day one.   Party overflow with bar issues. We've had FAR worse.   I did get kudos for even showing UP for the COH panel given the events of Friday. And one thing I neglected to mention is that I was given many Talon Huntress codes.   While well over 70% of those were dispersed, I've still a few.  So for any readers who want one, they are available first come first serve.  Simply send me a message at Centralnexus@gmail.com and I'll dig one up for you if there are any left.

Despite problems getting around, given my knee I had fun.   Tuesday and Wednesday will be a relaxation day, given the problems with my leg.

Strangely I've had some time, but haven't had the will to get into City.   I find the idea too depressing right now, but the longer that I put it off the more I'll regret it I bet. 

And I'm going to post shots from Dragon*Con as I go over the next few weeks.   Maybe another SHOT a day type thing? I've got a 16 gigabyte card I filled up, but I've not gone through it.   It is likely I'll have to put some videos together and release them to Youtube.

 

Monday
Sep032012

Dragon*Con Day 3 

The third day was something of a Doctor Who day.   I started off with Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor.  He's a riot on stage.   During the Question and answer part of the session, he came out from behind the table with big hairy feet on -- due to his involvement witht he HOBBIT movie series.  This was followed up by the Torchwood session where I got to see John Barrowman among others.  Both sessions were a hoot. The next session attended was the MMORPG trivia contest where I simply observed.  It was depressing in part -- The City of Heroes question was "What month will it be shut down...?"   So sad...

Another event was put on by Guildlaunch where they did an awards ceremony for their DragonSlayer players choice awards.  It was fun, but i got a feeling MANY of the rather large crowd were interested in the raffles they were having -- letting someone win a PC, among other packs of game paraphenalia.  This was a tad nerve racking.   I was only 4 tickets away from one drawing.   And they had to re-draw the PC when a friend of Guildlaunch happened to have the winning ticket.   The odds of which had to be several hundreds to one.