Interesting! – Duke Nukem Forever Game-Play

10 05 2009

Duke Nukem Forever is a game that has been in development for nearly a decade and a half.  When you take that into consideration, it means that the game has gone through three system generations.  A lot has changed since the Nintendo 64/PlayStation One days and it is interesting to see how far along the game has come since then.  The following video is a little taste of what the “current” Duke Nukem Forever is, and I must say it looks pretty damn good for a thirteen year old (development wise) game.

Thanks to Youtube for the link.

Now that 3D Realms has shut its doors, who will pick up where they left off?  Please, somebody finish this game already.  The Duke deserves better than this!


How Massively Multi-Player Online Games Have Affected the Gaming Industry

24 04 2009

A small re-write of my article on online multi-player games.


It is quite amazing how far gaming has come over the last twenty years or so. What was once a field full of arcade shooters, platformers, and side-scrolling adventures, is now populated by first-person shooters, yearly sports titles, and of course, MMOGs. The most popular of the MMOG genre is the MMORPG, which is an online role-playing game where thousands of people collaborate together in an online world. At first, the genre seemed like any other, but the concept of online play has definitely put the MMORPG into its own classified area of video gaming. Role-playing itself is very addicting, but adding a live virtual world full of real people definitely adds to that addiction. It is a genre that can lead to dangerous happenings if not managed correctly, and is a genre that truly has affected the gaming industry; both in a good and bad way.

Now we see the positives of a fun online world where players can consistently play together, but there are some problems with the genre. First off, the most glaring weakness in the game-play is the repetition or “grind” factor. Ever wonder why people play these games for such a long period of time? It is because the character progression is that of a level-based system. Every level requires a certain amount of experience points to advance to the next one, with new monsters, items, and objective along the way. Combat is generally very simplistic, requiring only one or two unique attacks to dispatch foes. While this might not sound so bad, the problem is that you will have to kill hundreds or even thousands of these same type of monsters to continue gaining more power. And after a while that progression will feel like trudging through a swamp based on the extremely slow pace.

Yet people continually pump out monthly fee after monthly fee, primarily due to their addiction to their virtual character or “avatar.” This is bad for the gaming industry in a way, because these same people will neglect other games. Based on previous experience, I can safely say that when you are involved in an MMORPG, you will not bother with any other game. No matter what the quality of console single-player games that emerge, you will be so addicted to that online world that every other game will feel awkward by comparison. Does this mean the MMOG game is perfect and has no flaws? The answer is no. The games in this genre are probably more flawed than any other genre. Repetitive combat, lack of good music, and mediocre graphics are usually the culprits, and one would think just how these people can play these games for so long. The answer is simply mental . . . a mental addiction.

No matter the case, MMORPGs effect on the genre has been good in that it has pushed the bar for future online games. Yet at the same time bad because of the attention it draws from other quality titles in different genres. Online gaming uses tempting lures like free trials and invite-a-friend to get you into their world, where they then hook you with the bait. Online gaming is a continual “carrot on a stick” facade that keeps you playing with additional content; giving you the expectation that you will one day get the best gear and become the most powerful player. However, it is all for naught. Online games are a huge time sink and are not really worth the money and effort. Despite this, games are all about fun, and as long as you manage your time correctly, any title and any genre can be worth giving a shot.

Retro Review: World of Warcraft

9 04 2009


World of Warcraft (PC)

Original release date: 11/23/04

Note: Review was written in 2004, though my feelings have not changed over the last four years.

What objectively defines a role-playing game? The debate has been stretched out as far back as I can certainly recall. You could say they originated in the form of classic, traditional style story-telling similar to that of Final Fantasy. Perhaps it is based off of an intricate setup of mechanics relating to the battle system and health display. Even the debate to conclude if the Legend of Zelda series is an RPG genre title continues to be heard echoing throughout the halls of the gaming realm. No matter how many ways you look at it, a role playing game should let you define what your character is. And I can assuredly say that only one table of the genre gives you the maximum customization possible, with plenty of addicting pulls along the way. All of which deriving from an expansive atmosphere and creative vision that has hit a mark others have so miserably missed.

Welcome to the World of Warcraft

It is an MMORPG at its finest and the first of such to intrigue me in such a fashion since Asheron’s Call. As previously mentioned, it is the obsession you have while playing the hero or villain you have created in these games that overshadows the pre-defined protagonists of its single player predecessors. Freedom and exploration shape the incredibly expansive world that Blizzard has implemented; with so many things to do I may not leave my basement…erm room for quite a while. This is all due in part to the excellent talent system this new installment portrays. Even though each new level will earn me so many points toward my basic attributes, you can use the implemented skill tree to help shape your little avatar any way you desire. What helps root these techniques are distinct classes and races that you can select when commencing your adventure. Want to be an elven druid and have all types of shape-shifting abilities? Or would you rather be an evil troll with the pet commanding gifts of a hunter? What brings these classes into unison is the sense of war flowing through Azeroth’s divided lands, all which take place between the Alliance and the Horde.

Throughout histories and lore findings it is apparent that the huge world is sectored into two major plains of good and evil. Elves, Gnomes, Dwarfs, and Humans coincide to meld the Alliance, while the Orcs, Trolls, Undead, and Tauren form the Horde. Aside from appearance each side will let you experience a different end of the land, with unique enemies and quests essential to both. The most surprising element from these class characteristics is the contested battles that can take place. Nothing more fun than seeing two or three members of differing allegiances swarming into a smaller town and wiping out the newbies, then being able to call upon members of your respective guild to try to thwart the threat to your zone. While it all looks well and good on paper, the player vs. player combat is still a little dry. Primarily deriving from the fact that victory is placed heavily on levels. Even if you are just five or six levels under your opponent, you will most likely be whiffing at wind and shooting into space. Regardless, since this is an online game, why not take advantage of the fact that there are thousands of people playing alongside you. So go “gank” the poor bastard and dance on his corpse with a little help from your comrades.

What truly sets World of Warcraft apart from virtually every other unappealing MMORPG out there? Think of a battle system played in real time sequences with a real sense of strategy and tactics built in, all brewed into a heaping mound of exploration. Swords, maces, staves, wands, and hell even guns are all accessible as you continue to grow in strength. From these weapons you can gain different magical imbuement and techniques to apply to them in combat. I personally play a hunter and setting up traps, sending your pet on the opponent to lure them in, and then unleashing a flurry of arrows on their ass are all part of my daily outing. Meanwhile, as I am out earning my experience, I am also earning my income by way of mining and blacksmithing. The more you use materials applicable to your hobby, the better results you will have, and trading back and forth at the auction house afterwards is a blast; kind of like E-Bay but without all of the negative feedback and crooked salesmen.

No matter how sugar-coated and glamorous an MMORPG turns out, there will always be skeptics who put it down because of the constant need to be in a group. Well, there is good news for all of you soloists and loners out there…you do not need to party up to progress! Unlike the tedious FF XI, you do not need to spend hours waiting around for parties to find you and help you complete an objective. Everything comes gradual and there is an area in the world correlating to every single level. So many in fact, that you will be second guessing yourself where to head next. Each zone is more breathtaking than the next and the quests relating to each will allow you to explore these territories as much as you’d like. Though there are times you will grow weary of completing mission after mission, the challenging and non-pointless enemies are a blast to fight, with an AI that is dead on. No mindlessly walking into cliff-sides or repeating attack patterns here, instead your antagonists know when to mix and match techniques, as well as when to back off and flee. Everything seems so realistic and fluid that the sheer brilliance of it all is what manages to sky-rocket the value.

What helps fit the final piece of the puzzle are the resplendent visuals and atmospheric sounds that encompass the mystic world. Watching a disgusting ogre burst into flames compliments to your immobilization trap and then seeing the fire spread even more thanks to a monumental crimson flame attack from your fellow mage is as impressive looking as it sounds. The detail on monsters and humans alike are extremely creative and the environments are incredibly articulate and vivid. I can safely say that anyone with a non-crappy video card, that unfortunately I currently possess, is in for a treat. Complimenting the range of colors and impressive conjurations are accurate sounds all surrounded by over world themes ranging from mellow to heart-pounding. And depending on your enthusiasm toward every situation will certainly affect the experience of the game-play.

All in all, there really is nothing like World of Warcraft within the gaming world. With online games you always have people to meet, new places to visit, and the understanding that the run through does not end until you want it too. There is something here for everyone and this is, without a doubt, why it has earned the recognition it has deserved. It is exciting to know that more and more people are catching on to why these titles are so special. And it is the lore and deep quest system that allows you to enjoy your protagonist better than any other available role-playing genre available. Amazingly even though it has only been out for two months, the game has exceeded my expectations by a landslide. The minuscule faults occasionally present are completely overshadowed by the quality and execution of an RPG that will definitely be on the market for a while. So go out and purchase it already…

And enjoy what I believe is the true representation of an RPG.

Verdict – 9/10