Monday, January 26, 2009

Gatheryn - First to Use HeroEngine

A long while back, I followed the progress of an mmo in the works called Hero's Journey. What set this one apart at the time was that Simutronics, the company behind it, was also developing their own engine for it. So rather than being stuck within the confines of someone else's engine, they were building their own to make the game their way.

They started showing off their engine at tradeshows and even won some awards for it. Other companies started showing an interest in licensing it and Hero's Journey got put on the back burner as Simutronics' focus switched to the engine itself.

I actually forgot all about them until I heard Gatheryn, an mmo I mentioned a few weeks ago, will be the first on the market to use this new engine. Release is scheduled the first half of this year already, which I find pretty surprising. This has piqued my interest even more for Gatheryn. I'm really interested in seeing what sort of new things are in store with this engine.

Other mmo's that will be using this new engine include BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic, Colony Studio's Universe Online, and some unnamed mmo planned by Stray Bullet Studios, the company currently running Shadowbane.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Alganon - New Years Update

David Allen has posted an update this week regarding the current status of Alganon. While they have been keeping things somewhat quiet over there to avoid too much hype too early on, they have now begun releasing more details.

Release is scheduled for this year, with beta to begin this Spring. In February, they will be releasing the MyAlganon community system. It looks to be something similar to MyLOTRO, where you can find members, guilds, blogs, etc.

One interesting feature will be a grand library located in both capital cities. While you must visit the library in person to contribute information, you will be able to access the library's information from anywhere in game. Here is where you go to look up a quest, item, or creature information. Also, there is a studies system that progresses your character even when you are offline. However, you can only have one character studying at one time. The studies system will apply to both adventuring and crafting. There are abilities that can only be gained this way, so that long-term players will have an advantage even if they only get to actually play a few hours a week.

Although the core game revolves around PvE, there are two factions and there will be battlegrounds on both PvE and PvP servers. Neither side can group or guild with one another; however, you will be able to create characters on both sides on the same server.

The graphics are not as high end as some may be accustomed to based on some of the more recently released mmo's. But I usually don't have too much issue with graphics, as long as my character looks reasonable. I still haven't had much of a good view on the female avatars, so I'll have to wait and see how they've turned out.

I've been following the progress of Alganon for three years. I'm not letting myself get overly hyped as I did with Vanguard, but I definitely plan to be trying it out.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wheel of Time MMO

Red Eagle Games has announced that they will launch and operate an MMO based on the world and characters of Wheel of Time. Electronic Arts will be handling distribution. Red Eagle also is partnering with Universal Pictures to produce at least three films based on the series.

The first few books in this series are some of my absolute favorite reads. I was so enthralled by it at one time, that I had recreated Tar Valon and a few other WoT places of interest back when Active Worlds was a bustling place.

I'm not sure what sort of classes they can create aside from Aes Sedai and their Gaidin, but I'll certainly be keeping my eye on how this MMO progresses. The movies I'm not so sure about. Aside from LotR, it seems fantasy films are never done particularly well. So not getting my hopes up too much there.

Fairwell to the Fellowship

One of the things I noticed upon my return to LotRO was that key figures had moved from their previous spots and offered new quests. The story line of the fellowship was advancing. I was sent to see Aragorn and Boromir to see if I could assist in their preparations for departure. They sent me on a few errands, after which I entered a private instance. Words were exchanged between fellowship members and with me as well, and then I watched them all go. It was all so touching, I almost got a bit teary-eyed and wanted to join in after them.

It left me wondering what their plans are for continuing the story. Will they reach a point in the fellowship's journey and then stop? I can't imagine they'd see it through to the end or we'd be left in a more pleasant world, killing just boars and neekerbreakers.

I really enjoy these type of private quests involving you in the story line. But the bugs lately have been a bit frustrating. Since our return, both of us have been experiencing crashes to desktop and blue screens of death. I have never had a bsod in any other game before. And then there's the rubberbanding, which I haven't experienced since SWG. I hit certain paths where I cannot proceed forward and keep getting bounced back. I either have to circle around a different way, or if it's an enclosed path where I have no other options, I just have to camp. A check on the forums shows this has been occurring for a couple years now.

Last night was a new type of bug. My husband and I were in Misty Mountains. I needed to run back to Rivendell to pick up a quest. So down into the valley I go, into Rivendell and I find the quest giver at the marketplace. She sends me to Elrond. I run up to the main house, zone in, and up the steps to zone into Elrond's library. He sends me to Gloin back in the Misty Mountains. I zone back out of the house, get stuck on the zone and get disconnected. I log back in and find myself back at the valley entrance with no record of my having gotten the quest.

So back down I go, pick it up again, back to Elrond, zone out successfully, and start running up the hill when I'm just frozen in place. I look over at my husband's screen. He's still killing stuff so I know we've not been disconnected. But his mobs are standing up straight when they die, and when he attempts to loot them, receives a message that they have too many hitpoints for that action. I can't use any abilities and still can't move. Eventually, I receive a disconnected from server message.

I log back in and there I am again at the valley entrance with no record of having picked up the quest. Grrrrrr. I called it a night at that point. I think I have a lot of patience, but this gets aggravating. Particularly, when I've not experienced this in other games. I really hope that was an isolated incidence or my time here will be short.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Continuing Adventures in Middle Earth

While we initially started out with a warden/rune-keeper duo, I had started a warden of my own to solo with and he a hunter and eventually we hooked up to duo this pair instead. He kept mentioning how he wish he had his higher level hunter from our previous server here so we each decided to transfer one character. I decided on my 39 captain. She was also a scholar and I remember enjoying rummaging through ancient ruins to collect artifacts.

Even at this level, money is still difficult to come by without some sort of farming. So while I still didn't have a horse as it seems a waste of money to me (you get knocked off when a mob hits you), I just had to have a home. So I settled into one of the Elven neighborhoods:

Furnishing options are very limited, as is the placement. For example, you can't have a table with chairs around it. You can place a table on the large hook in the center, and maybe have one small chair on a small hook against the wall. But the home came with storage that can be shared by my alts, as well as anyone else I designate, so that was a plus. And I did get to plant those trees and bushes on the outside.

We checked our journals to see where we had left off in quests. We had a couple things left in Evendim to do. And after a bit, I recalled why I disliked questing here. Most of your time is spent doing this:

Swim at slow speeds to this island and that island, then back to this one and way over to that one. So we moved on. We found a new quest hub in the Trollshaws. This is one of my favorite zones. It is just beautiful and I love the music throughout the zone. And lots of wonderful ruins for my scholar. We were standing atop one of the ruins just yesterday. Looking out in the distance, we spotted a place we hadn't seen before. We thought we had been everywhere, but must have missed a path somewhere. So we set out exploring to find our way to reach it. I commented to my husband that this is one aspect of the game that I love and is missing from others. The world is huge and there is so much to explore and see. Many places have no quests that ever lead you there. They are just there for you to find on your own.

I noticed my husband logging off from EQ2 to play LotRO much more frequently than me. I think this newfound interest can be attributed somewhat to their new reputation system. He's a faction hound and likes working up factions. I do it if that particular faction offers me something I want, but he does it just cause. Overall, we are definitely enjoying our experience in LotRO much more this time around.

We both hit 42 this weekend. The road to Moria doesn't seem so far off now.