Retro RPGs

3 11 2010
baldurs gate

baldurs gate

I love RPGs, always have really, since the first time I ever sat round a table and played my first game of D&D through to the present day.

Recently I have been a little underwhelmed though; the current crop of RPGs for the PC, Xbox 360 etc are pretty good but they just seem to lack something.

It isn’t that they are bad games, far from it but somewhere amidst the amazing graphics, cinematic sound, famous voice actors etc  they seem to have lost some of that traditional RPG element that I love.

That is why I have gone back to playing classic RPGs that whilst nowhere near as polished as the current crop of games just seem to be a little nearer the mark.

In particular I have been playing the ever so awesome Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Baldur’s Gate 1 &2 and the original Fallout.

For me these 5  games encompass pretty much everything that I want in a RPG.

I love the sheer immersion that takes place when playing one of these older story driven RPGs sure I enjoy having a massive sandbox world to track around (the map in Oblivion is 16 square miles!) but nothing beats a riveting story that drives you to continue and keeps you focused.

I sometimes think that with some of the current sandbox games that it is too easy to be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of different things you can run off and do and that the main campaigns/storylines can get overlooked.

I also miss the fully turn based combat systems like you saw in Fallout, it is reminiscent of my hours spent with pen, paper and dice and just has a charm about it that is sometimes lacking these days.

Maybe I am just getting old and turning into one of those people who goes on about how everything was better back in the day but as much as I really enjoy modern games -trust me I do- the old classics just seem to be more fun somehow.

neverwinter nights 1 &2 /baldurs gate

rattle on about how these feel more dungeon and dragonesque then the current big rpgs where you trot around by yourself for days at a time





My WOW wishlist

17 05 2010

I love games, it doesn’t hugely matter what type of game, I have played or would play more or less any type of game what so ever.

However due to being a great big geek of a certain age and disposition I have always had a soft spot in my heart for D&D style RPG, be it table top, text based scroller, Baldur’s Gate style PC fun or more recently MMORPGs.

As a result it  was more or less inevitable that I would end up falling into the life consuming black hole that is World of Warcraft, I first played about 4 years ago  now and needless to say I was impressed, there was a sheer sense of scale that I hadn’t come across before in a video game.

Times change and things move on, I grew dissillusioned with WOW and set out n search of other MMOs to pit my skills against.

I settled on Lord of the rings online by Turbine, I was very pleased with LOTRO and have been an avid player ever since I first set foot in the Shire.

 For starters the game is stunning and I don’t just mean for an MMO it is stunning compared to more or less any game out there that you care to mention! The story is also very well done and the whole game does feel plot driven, no mean feat considering that the game runs parallel to the story of the fellowship and other than crossing paths with the members occasionally runs completely separately.

The only problem with LOTRO is that it doesn’t have that same sense of  scale that WOW has and I’m not talking about the size of the world map. WOW has always felt sort of limitless and like there is always something that you haven’t quite managed to do yet.

LOTRO has lost that for me a little bit, some of  the end game content has been a little bit weak and the new expansion, Siege of Mirkwood, didn’t really add to the game in the same way that Mines of Moria did.

So I went back to WOW after a 2.5 year hiatus. A LOT has changed for starters Wrath of the Lich King has been launched and we are very rapidly approaching the launch of Cataclysm, the third expansion pack.

Backstory over.

I was day dreaming on Saturday about ways in which I would try and improve WOW if I could and I actually hit upon a few ideas that I thought were actually quite feasible and would add just that little bit extra to the game, the glace cherry on top of the already delicious cake if you will.

LOTRO players might notice a theme here so I am going  to come out and say it these are ideas that are implemented in LOTRO, they aren’t unique to there but I do feel that Turbine have implemented them particularly well.

So here in no particular order is my WOW wishlist:

1. Player houses.

A simple idea and some might say a extraneous one but there is something about having your own piece of in game real estate that just adds to the overall sense of immersion.

Imagine having your tree house in Un Goro crater or a mud hut to call your own in the Barrens! Also It needn’t just be a status symbol for you to decorate and show off, you could have additional storage that you could purchase and your own little mailbox right at your front door (I’m blatantly stealing at this point!)

This is saying nothing of guild halls, imagine if you will a starter guild with some drafty two room hall in Brill, it’s humble but for you and the guys its home, contrast this with the mini-fortress on the outskirts of Orgrimmar owned by a mighty raiding guild, the walls are festooned with trophies from their countless victories and a sense of pride and strength eminates from the very building itself filling all who enter it with a sense of awe.

2. An outfit system.

If you are a player on an RPG server or just someone who likes to have a bit of a backstory and make themselves that bit different what would be better than a change of outfit.

Maybe you have some comfortable “town clothes” you want to wear after a hard days questing, perhaps you love the stats on your armour but hate how it looks?

Well what if you were to have separate tabs on your character viewer, your main tab would have the armour and equipment that you are actively using and gaining stats from, the other tabs could have items dropped onto them that would simply display; are you a mage that always wanted to run around in full plate looking like a warrior go for it, you will still be squishy and dead but you will certainly look badass!

I know this is purely for the sake of vanity but it isn’t as if this would be a first look at the whole collection of vanity pets out there that not only do people go nuts for but they pay RL money to get em. Blizzard could so much money off of this it would be nuts, we are talking fat stacks of paper just for giving people imaginary clothes.

3. Legendary Weapons.

In LOTRO there is a class of weapon that makes everything else look like a blunt fruit knife by comparison, Legendary Weapons.

Basically these are a better class of wepaon that becomes available to you late on in the game, they have a variety of different sockets – nothing new there, they can be enchanted – again no great shakes but they gain xp .

The more you use them and the more badass mothers you take down the more xp your weapon of choice gains and as we all know points make prizes, when you reach certain levels of xp you can add points to the various stats on your item.

There are even two types of NPC just to support legendary weapons; lets say you find a new legenday axe, you need to identify it before you can use it, so off you trot to an expert and find out that this particular axe has x,y,z stats, don’t like these stats? Well in that case pop next door to his buddy and melt the axe down, on melting it down you will end up various relics, gems and runes that made the axe what it was that you can either slot into other weapons or combine together to make even more powerful relics etc.

Personally I don’t like how frequently legenday weapons drop in LOTRO but I can see it working in WOW, imagine being able to have a completely customisable sword or axe or staff that would grow with you, we aren’t talking some all conquering death bringer but it would certainly be a damn damn fine weapon.

Maybe it would be a class of weapon that would only be available at end game and would add yet another face to what is available to do whilst waiting for the next expansion to come out, maybe they would be PvP only and you would get the relics etc by looting the corpses of your HKs, to my mind there are a whole range of possibilities.

Well that is it, I’m spent, I’m all wished out.

Feel free to suggest your own ideas or tear mine into shreds, healthy discussion makes the world go round after all 😉





Welcome to the world…of Warcraft

24 03 2010

Well after a two year break away from the digital crack that is WOW it looks like I am headed straight back into the most popular MMORPG known to man.

My reasons for leaving WOW in the first place are numerous; from the packs of annoying 12 year olds playing with Mum and Dad’s Mastercard through to the annoying gits corpse camping everywhere they can in order to gank noobs. To cut a long story short I vowed never to return and promptly threw myself into LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) with great gusto.

But times change and people change; my High Elf Guardian is now level 65, Moria has been thoroughly stomped into submission and Mirkwood has been torn a new one, in short I’m bored.

The Kinship that I helped start has matured to a point whereby it doesn’t need the constant fussing and maintenance anymore, the endless stream of new players looking for someone to run them through instances or join their group to help twink them has dried up to the occasional trickle.

So like an addict looking for his next fix I have been trying out everything and anything I can get my hands on; Baldurs Gate I & II, Never Winter Nights, Oblivion, Fable II and Spellforce I&II all have been chewed up and spat out again as I try to find something to fill the bottomless RPG void in my life. Likewise I have dabbled with some harder stuff; Perfect World International , Age of Conan and Dungeons and Dragons online, but none of them have managed to hold my attention for more than a few fleeting hours.

So what is it about WOW that sets it apart from the competition, there are certainly other games that are very enjoyable and equally immersive;  LOTRO is one game that springs instantly to mind.

I guess there are as many views on why WOW is top dog as there are players, but for me I think it isn’t one big thing that sets it apart, it’s a collection of many smaller things.

I think that unlike many other MMOs that are out there WOW has got the mix just right, for the avid PVPer there are whole servers set aside where you gank people to your hearts content, for the more player that doesn’t always want to be risking certain (virtual) death at the hands of a superhuman  Korean there are still designated places where you can melt faces and for those of us that would rather not vanquish our fellow players there is insane amounts of PVE content that mean you need never set foot in an area or battleground.

The classes are well worked out and by this stage in the game they all  feel more or less “right” there isn’t anyone class that is desperately in need of being tweaked to make it more powerful or toned down to make things fairer on everyone else, if I compare this to other games it is a vastly different situation; for a long while in LOTRO the Hunter class was basically a death dealing demon from the skies, yes it was squishy if you got in close, verrry squishy but that didn’t matter, the mobs were dead before they realised they were in a fight.

Sure it was corrected eventually but in the meanwhile things just felt a tad unbalanced, no slight on Turbine; they have done a fine job of turning the works of Tolkien into a very playable MMO, but at the same time I can’t imagine Blizzard taking as long to react, too many people would complain.

Maybe this brings me to the key point here, WOW is quite simply huge, not just in terms of the amount of content (which is monsterous) or the areas there are to explore (which are vast) but also in terms of the sheer number of players; last time I looked there are over 12 million of the buggers, to put this into context that more people then there are in Belgium (WOW is more exciting than Belgium as well).

When you have that many players all paying there monthly fees you are talking about a lot of pounds, shillings and pence each month, if you DON’T stay on top of your game you are shafted, if keeping 12 million people happy means that you take just an extra little bit of care with things, or pay just that extra 5% extra attention to detail, than that is a small price to pay! Plus when 12 million people talk you have to listen.

If you are running a MMO and have an in game population of say 300,000 if you do something that 2% of people don’t like you get 6000 complaints, if you dont act on that you might lose half of those people that complained so you might lose 3000 people.If Blizzard manage to piss of 2% of their in game population thats 240, 000 disgruntled customers, thats a figure that some games would bend over backwards to have as their entire subscription base.

So maybe thats why WOW is the best, maybe not at everything all of the time, but certainly overall.

They are the best because they have to be, 12 million payments of $14,99 a month say they have to be.

As for me going back maybe the biggest factor is that my girlfriend has finally said I can…








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