Monday, January 25, 2010

Greatest gaming moments

Team Fortress 2 is one of my all-time favourite games. It's casual, goofy fun while at the same time being tactical and competitive if you feel like it. I've had a lot of great moments playing this game, but the other day stands out as one of the most fun moments I've ever had in any game.

You see one evening I had decided to log into an instanst respawn, 100% critical hits server. This produced some initial jubilation due to a crazy amount of deaths raining from the sky. But the initial good feelings were not to last, as it was horribly unbalanced.

Just when I was thinking of changing servers, something magical happened. A vote was cast, asking people what they'd like the new gravity for the server to be. How unusual, I thought. Would I like to set the gravity to be as low as physically possible? Why, yes, yes I would. And so did everybody else on the server (hurrah for democracy!). This was the result:

If you're not familiar with TF2 or this map, suffice it to say, I am quite high up in the air. The other fellow is up even higher. We are scouts, who are able to double jump (jump again while in the air). Except when there's no gravity, it's not so much of a double jump as it is a quadruple jump. With lengthy amounts of floating on light, fluffy clouds in between jumps. Light fluffy clouds of hilarious death.

It's not just the pseudo-flying that was fun, it was doing it with limited / unpredictable control. Difficult steering, automatic critical hits, hilarious physics when you get shot in mid-air, and the fact that I had to come back down from my skywards jaunts every 10 seconds or so, all just added to the hilarity. I can not remember a funnier, more exhilariting game experience.

What are some of your favourite gaming moments?

Guild Wars Holy Trinity

Guild Wars is one of my favourite MMO-style games for many great reasons. One of these is that the class system does not resemble the cliche "Holy Trinity" of tank, healer and damage classes.

Ravious over at Kill Ten Rats also likes that Guild Wars lacks the Holy Trinity. He'd like to see them get rid of the monk class to further distance themselves from the healing of the Trinity. This would be replaced by the ability for more characters to be self-sufficient, healing themselves.

I agree with this for the most part because, as Ravious points out, any system where you have to spam the chat for a long time looking for one particular class is flawed. However, we can't shaft the monk completely. See, monks feature not only healing skills, but these skills that are dubbed 'Protection'.

Protection skills are cast on players before damage lands, making them a lot more interesting to use than watching 'red bars go up'. Protection skills also often scale in efficiency the more players are attacking the target, making it a direct counter to the mindless PvP tactic of hitting the same fellow over and over until he dies. Suddenly a whole new dynamic is introduced to the game, where players have to judge when the other team is just building towards an alpha strike, or merely applying some pressure. This subtle dance of figuring out what your opponent intends to do is the cornerstone of every decent competitive game.

Other MMO-style games just don't feature these kinds of skills (or if they do, they are on some ridiculous cooldown), and this is why their PvP is regarded as a joke. Protection skills are the pièce de résistance of Guild Wars, they are unique to it and are a massive evolution in competitive gameplay.

There have to be different solutions to the "always need a monk" problem - maybe allow the dual class system to better pick up the slack, or give the other classes a smattering of class-appropriate Protection skills (e.g. Warriors offer protection from attacks). Whatever we do we can get rid of Healing, but Protection has to stay.

Friday, January 15, 2010


In this latest episode of Keenwatch, Keen is disappointed because Global Agenda is not a traditional MMO with large, open-world areas. Allow me to quote directly from the Global Agenda FAQ:

"Elements of a typical MMO that are NOT in Global Agenda:

a large, seamless world to explore
quest givers
open world PvP or PvE
If you consider any of these items to be must-haves within your MMO, we may not be the game for you."

"Overall, we consider the game to be an Action-based Shooter MMO. The game offers the fluid gameplay mechanics of a multi-player shooter, with elements of character progression, territory control and economy drawn from the MMO genre. The gameplay includes both player-vs-evironment and player-vs-player content, but all of it is fast-paced and highly engaging and designed to get you into the action quickly"

And this, from "The Game" linked to on the main page of the Global Agenda website:

"Co-Op with friends online - Four players share the same online mission experience - working as a team,communicating via built-in text and voice chat, infiltrating facilities, defeating end bosses, and earning technology upgrades.

Compete in fast-paced, multiplayer matches - Teamwork and tactics are paramount within objective-based game types designed from the ground up to support intense and balanced player vs. player combat."

What part of the description of this game implies your generic, open-world MMO? Gee, if I didn't know better I'd say that Keen tries to shoehorn every single game he plays into some UO/Darkfall/WoW extravaganza of failure.

Oh, also, he seems to be QQing about instancing a lot lately. If you want your generic mash-all-buttons-in-boring-non-interactive-carebear combat, by all means play a game in which every single person that is playing can all be crammed into one giant area.

If you want a game that the client and server can actually handle and possibly at the same time depict some semi-fun semblance of gameplay, you need instancing, because the technology just can't handle it otherwise.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

There's.... too many of them!

Useful tactic for posting something ridiculous on the internet to minimize ridicule aimed at yourself:

String together such a multitude of irrational, delusional statements that nobody knows where to start.

I am therefore motivated only to summarize and say that the so-called glory games of yesteryear that Keen discusses are all niche games, which do not appeal to the majority of people because they do not like getting ganked.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Crimson's 2009 top games

Favourite game for 2009:

I didn't jump on this game when it was initially released, because it had an incredibly shaky start. To be truthful, it didn't sound the kind of game I would want to play. The screen shots looked a bit boring and I didn't want another RTS on the pile...

Around about July, Melf started telling me on vent that he had downloaded the Demigod demo. He said the game play wasn't what he thought and that the game had some good PvP elements to it. Well, the sweet talk payed off. I downloaded the demo and gave it a go. So glad I did! Demigod is an awesome little PvP game. Each game is incredibly tactical and requires a lot of teamwork and skill to win. It's exactly what PvP junkies need to survive ;) The game cost me around $40 US to buy, but it's been on special so many times that you should be able to pick it up for under $20 US now. Stardock and Gas Powered Games still seem to be releasing new content for it, so it's definitely worth buying in my opinion.

Next up:

With all the updates Valve have been releasing, how can you not play this game? What I love about TF2 is that you can jump into a game and get a high speed action PvP fix within seconds. You can also leave without making too much of an impact on your team mates, which makes this the perfect casual PvP game.


Oddly I didn't really play a lot of MMOs this year, however I did play City of Heroes/Villains for 4 months. I really enjoyed this game initially because, well it feels good to be a super hero. My girlfriend even played it for a couple of months, which says a lot (she doesn't play games usually). I stopped playing for two reasons; The PvP was crap and the Mission Architect patch took the fun out of the game.

Other games of note that I felt I got my money's well worth:
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • Defense Grid: The Awakening
I'm reluctant to put Dragon Age on this list because I still haven't completed it yet and have no motivation to do so. In my opinion Baldurs Gate 2 is better.

What game sucked the most? AION

I was severely let down by Aion. At some point when building an MMO, you need to stop and ask yourself, is this game fun? If the answer is no, then please take it back to the drawing board until it is. In short, Aion was not fun to play.

So in summary 2009 sucked for MMOs, but it wasn't all bad. Demigod was a surprise and TF2 held strong. Fingers crossed that Guild Wars 2 will release this year. I feel like I've been waiting for that game forever.