Thursday, December 29, 2011

Official Tanking post

I got lured to tanking again. This time with full plate, tower shield and a huge weapon spewing death and destruction beyond sight.

My sons got me into World of Tanks.

Luckily I was able to take some advantage of the Holiday bonus, so I kind of skipped the training sessions in the starter fights by gaining enough experience to research tier III tank in a blitz (pun intended), even though I went for the Soviet tanks with the famous T-34 in my mind. It's iconic tank in Finland, in a way The Tank for everyone who has ever gotten into WWII over here.

My initial notes about the game are covered with sugar crust, which is slowly starting to crack. It is very easy to get in, you just download the game, create an account and join a random battle with any of the three tier I tanks you are given. You will gain experience and money out of every battle, experience to research better modules for your tanks and opening new, improved tanks and money to pay for the repairs and ammunition.

Simple, eh? I dare you to try it, for WoT has cleverly induced an addictive element not too far from the kind you get from old coin-ops, Tetris or Bejeweled: I can do better in the next match. I. Can. Do. Better. Next time. Just can be done. I will.

The only gripes so far I have with the sudden increase in the price of the modules and module research. All is fine in the first three tiers, the research costs reasonably for the amount of experience you get from a battle, but then - as you try to go from tier III to tier IV - you hit this incredible increase which rises the cost from 1250 points to 5600 for one single module. And it gets worse in the IV to V, where the highest module research goes above 20k.

The module in question is the final of the research before you get to the next tier tank, which makes it extremely frustrating: you are not getting more experience from a battle, you just have to grind more. On the other hand, you will learn to use that particular tank better, but in most cases so far this has proven to be in vain as the next tier tank usually performs completely differently from the previous one, even though they might have similar function on the battlefield.

Now I'm progressing in two branches of the tech tree for the Soviet tanks: one to go for a fast and agile scout (T-50 at tier IV), another for the forementioned T-34 (nickname Sotka) for some fighting action. But as I'm sitting at tier III on both sides, it's frustrating as hell to have that one experience hurdle in front of me while I get about 250-300 exp for a fight. And experience is not transferable from one tank to another...

Anyhow, were I a bit better with my scouting and shooting, I might make more. Then again, the game is so addicting and so much fun when played with my sons in platoons that I may even forget that. Note on platoons: in free to play you can pair with your friend (form a platoon), but only with one. You have to purchase a premium account to be able to form bigger platoons, and the cheapster in me is not willing to do that. We will just switch our platoons as fit and have helluva time on the battlefield.

World of Tanks is fun, suitable for quick battle every now and then, but can you really restrict to that one or two randoms at a time?

I can't.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Playing, gaming...

We've had some nice discussions with my son over the Christmas. This is the oldest one of them, at the tender age of 16. He's pretty clever - I know, I'm his father - and a pretty avid player of games of all sorts. A bit too avid would his mother say, to which I can only add my last words in any such discussion. Being "Yes, dear".

Anyhow, we've been discussing about the current games and how people play them. In fact, he brought up how he's being sick and bored of the people complaining about how MMO's are this and that and how they dig and tweak their characters to a point where they can take on any boss they like. In his words "that's not playing the game, that's playing for winning the game!" To which I can only add that it's the way you play any game to see the 'Game Over' screen and take heed on the signs to continue life.

The most recent incident of the sorts I have encountered comes from the new favorite of the MMO world. Yup, guessed right, it's SW:TOR with it's shining...whatever (yes, haven't played it and most probably won't in a while). I was kind of shocked to learn that people are getting anxious about the end game already, as they have capped their characters already. Come again? The game has been out about two weeks, has eight archetype based advancement lines and accompanying stories to go through?

And people have already 'won the game', gotten all out of it there is to have?

This is the thing with all MMO's out there, thanks to the competitive nature of current day people. Instead of taking the time to enjoy the game/life/hedonistic pleas, we take for granted that we always have to win. In MMO's there is nothing to win except the enjoyment of playing the game. Not gaming the living daylights out of it!

In a way, I would say to the designers of MMO's only this: make the content during the levelling the best content in the game, with fluff and extra doing for the people who enjoy it. They will stick with your game no matter what as long as there is new crafting skills to cover, new discoveries to make, new anything to gain or experience. Let the players blasting through the levelling up to the cap be disappointed, because they are the ones who get bored first and leave your game at the first sign of not being 'challenging' anymore.

Hecklers! In any MMO (I wish I could add the RPG in there, too...) the character who gets to the top of the levelling curve should be a revered hero and ought to retire. Instead, s/he will be living in eternal middle age crisis, trying to prove her/his worth to anyone who wants to listen.

Which isn't many, except the lot of similar failures out there.

Like I've said, I love to play the games for their content: 'end game' content is artificial and there should be the GAME OVER sign above the end bosses lair. But when I want to play a game for winning, I choose something else than a MMO to do it.

I'm more in favor of playing than gaming anyhow. What's your choice?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Update on... well, games

Skyrim. Oh Tamriel, you harsh mistress. 100 hours played, many more to come even just by completing the quests and storylines. So much to do and quite honestly, no other game feels or looks the same anymore.

WoW. Yesterday I logged in to find my mailbox empty. Even on my banker/AH toon. Own fault, it had been over a month since I had logged in last time. Lost about 300k worth of stuff, some of which were recipes and schematics not found in the game anymore. The funniest part? I didn't even feel sorry. My guess is that Cataclysm was the final expansion for me. Now I'm trying to log in weekly for the Three Stooges/Dunces evenings on our second team, every time more astonished how much the game has been nerfed down since the last time we were going through Outlands (soon Northrend).

Otherwise. I haven't been playing anything except Skyrim for the last month or so. And I don't even feel any pull of any other game at all. If Skyrim killed my will to play anything else, so be it: it has been the best game I've ever laid my fingers on.

If only it wasn't so predictable... But then again, everyone is free to tweak the game they want!

Oh, shiny!