How Games Can Boost Their Raptr and Xfire Hours Played! January 28, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Trek Online.
Tags: Path of Exile, Raptr, Xfire
Just make sure your launcher/patcher counts as your game being played.
The other night I went to patch up Path of Exile. It is going into open beta which, among other things, means that characters made from this point forward won’t be wiped.
And while it is really tough to build any enthusiasm for the third attempt to recapture the Diablo II spirit in less than nine months, it had been about a year since I last peeked into game, and so I thought it might be time to go back for a visit.
Of course, with that much time having passed, I was rightfully expecting a big patch. So I waited until the end of the evening, kicked off the patch process, and went to bed.
And, in the morning, not only was the patching done, but I had two items in my inbox from Raptr.
Raptr was proud to tell me that I had earned the rank “Experienced” and the “Dedicated” for my playtime in Path of Exile.
Although I have to admit, Raptr does seem a bit confused as to what rank I really am. Both of the messages are proud to tell me the rank I have achieved and what I have to do to get to the next rank, however they used the same name for both. So am I experienced, or have I been experienced, or what?
Anyway, it ends up Raptr looking like I have played a lot more Path of Exile than I really have.
I am not sure how big of a benefit that really is, and I am almost completely sure that this sort of thing is the fault of the likes Raptr and Xfire as opposed to the developer. But it did make me wonder what other games might be benefiting in the playtime number department due to this sort of thing.
I went through some of the other games I have installed and found that Star Trek Online’s launcher/patcher gives the same result. I did not bother to try it with Xfire, as it would have meant re-installing Xfire again, but I have to imagine that the same thing happens with some games there as well.
Of course, the real question is, does it matter? Does this make play time numbers from services like Raptr and Xfire any more dubious in your mind or not?
Now I wonder if anybody logged into my account by accident over the weekend. Not that I need any more playtime credited…
Path of Exile Opens Up January 22, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment, Other PC Games, Torchlight II.
Tags: Path of Exile
It looked, for a while, to be the third horse in the “Heir to Diablo II” race last year, but then never quite got there, leaving the field to Diablo III and Torchlight II.
Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It might have gotten a little more attention going up against one of those at launch, but it likely would have suffered for it as well. So the other two have had their launches and… have gone somewhat quiet since. Diablo III shipped without any post-launch follow up plan it seems, while the team at Runic that did both Torchlight and Torchlight II is reportedly tired of working on that franchise and want to do something different. (Where is my Mac OS version of the game?)
So it is a quiet time in the click-click-click RPG niche, which might be just the right time for Path of Exile to go… well… a little more public with their game. And so open beta has been announced.
According to their latest press release, open beta starts… tomorrow. Not that the previous year of closed beta was tough to get into. You just had to sign up and wait for a few days or a week and eventually you got an invite.
Now though… or tomorrow… you should be able to go to their site, sign up, and get access to the game right away.
This will also be the last wipe of the player base. Or so say the developers. This effectively means that the game launches tomorrow, as any progress you make with your character after that point is yours to keep.
And since this is a free to play, cash shop supported game, the transition from “open beta” to “live” seems to me to be more philosophical than anything; very much in line with every Facebook game being flagged as “beta” for most of their success.
And a year later, after playing Diablo III and Torchlight II, that clip still “feels” a lot more like Diablo II than either of those other games. It might be time to patch up and give Path of Exile another look and see what has changed in the last year.
Items from the Mail Bag – Rainy March Edition March 28, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Mail Bag.
Tags: Badass vs Robot, Blacklight:Retribution, EON Magazine, FindTheBest, Fnord, Mistborn, Path of Exile
It is that time again! Time to sort through my mail archives to see what has come my way in the last month that wasn’t worth a post by ought to get a mention, whether for real or comedic value.
Path of Exile Open Beta
In a very timely email, the folks making the Diablo-esque online game Path of Exile, a game about which I have written, have announced that this coming weekend, March 30 through April 1, beta access will be thrown open to everyone. There is, of course, a FAQ posted with details.
So if you are totally jonesing for a Diablo fix and cannot wait for May 15th to roll around, this might be an opportunity to get some click-action RPG time in.
Badass vs. Robot vs. Roger Ebert
Trexx Robotnyk wanted to let me know about the “truly unique, precious art” that is encompassed by Badass vs. Robot.
I am not even sure where to go with this, so I’ll just quote the message in full.
A one-man operation. Destined to reshape the world order. Badass vs Robot has been temporarily unleashed to fund future development (episodes 1-3, about 1-5 playing hours, available in a week or so). In its brightest moments, small glimpses here and there, this robotic art project from Sweden sort of reminds me of mass effect 3/starwars/whatever but with heavier guitars and a cheaper price tag. Anyway, if you wanna join the fans around the globe and make this amazing space action robot saga turn into an uncontrollable behemoth on rockets, please buy a copy (you set the price). Note that this is a separate work-in-progress tech/devel funding/sneak peek release with awesome music, learn more at the homepage. And to those that hate this project solely cause it’s a difficult to grasp kinda space-art exhibition (e.g. nude politicians and a laser themed forced sterilization scene), are encouraged to share it with all of their friends. Please note that I’m not looking for investors, truly unique, precious art like this must be completely independent at all costs.
So there you have it. Nude politicians, the laser themed forced sterilization scene, and Roger Ebert need not apply.
Blacklight: Retribution Open Beta
Back to the open beta scene, Blacklight: Retribution went into open beta… well, a month ago. But I got the note AFTER I did last month’s mail bag. See, timing is everything. B:R is an online first person shooter game, a niche that seems to be growing into very non-niche like proportions. Anyway, if you are interested, their web site is here.
EON Magazine Joins the Digital Age
Naturally, as soon as I subscribe to the physical magazine again, the folks at MMM finally deliver on their digital aspirations.
For those interested, you can find more details on this at the EON Magazine site. There is currently a special offer to get people interested.
Unbiased Reviews, For Specific Values of “Unbiased”
Leslie, a business development intern at FindTheBest, wanted to let me know that their site now has video game reviews as part of their engine that… I guess… allows you to find the best. Per the email:
It allows users to filter by price, console, ESRB rating, and more. All of the information is completely unbiased and certified from sources such as Gamespot, Metacritic, and IGN.
Claiming a lack of bias on their part, I suppose, could be correct. But when GameSpot, the site where no advertiser gets a bad review (or we’ll fire the reviewer!) is part of your sample, bias is clearly part of the equation. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. Anyway, I asked on that and actually got a response.
In the smart ratings algorithm, expert reviews only account for a small portion of a balanced rating system which takes into account things like number of copies sold, other metacritic ratings, as well as others. After doing considerable research we will take this feedback into account and discount GameSpots rating moving forward.
While I appreciate the attempt to quantify things, selling the most units is not always an indication of quality. The literary works of L. Ron Hubbard and William Shatner spring to mind. Still, it is nice to see somebody out there trying something new.
Oh, and the highest rated MMORPG on their list; the Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria expansion. Take that for what it is worth.
Digital Kids Conference – You Need to Know!
Those in charge of the 6th Annual Digital Kids Conference, which despite its name is focused on child safety in the digital world and not the creation of electronic children (which presumably would come with an “off” button, every parents dream on occasion) seem very concerned that I be made aware of the agenda and specific events pertaining to the conference. Hence the six email in two days things.
Consider me brought up to date, especially on the mobile app safety front.
The unsubscribe link, it does nothing!
Mistborn: Birthright – Not Wheel of Time
Brandon Sanderson, perhaps best known as the writer to pick up and (I desperately hope) finish Robert Jordan’s epically drawn out Wheel of Time saga, is having some of his own work made into a video game. (The Wheel of Time series was also supposed to be made into an MMO. What happened with that?)
Called Mistborn: Birthright, it will take place 100 years before the Mistborn series of books. A quote from the author:
“As an avid gamer, I’m extremely excited by this opportunity,” said Sanderson. “The chance to write the story for a Mistborn game while working with a team of talented developers is, quite literally, living a dream.”
The game is scheduled to come out in the Fall of 2013. Such information that there is available is on the game’s web site.
My 2012 Sorta-MMO Outlook December 22, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment, World of Warplanes.
Tags: 2012, Guild Wars 2, Neverwinter, Path of Exile, Torchlight II
At about this time last year I wrote a post about my MMO Outlook for 2011.
There were six games I was looking forward to in 2011 that were… mostly… in the traditional MMORPG, virtual world, shared experience with thousands of fellow players mold. The real question was on which of the six would I be able to focus. It seemed likely that I would only have time for one, so there was a choice to be made.
Two of the candidates were pushed out into 2012 (TERA and Guild Wars 2), one was cancelled (The Agency), and two I played in beta (DCUO and SWTOR) and decided to pass on. The choice ended up being Rift, which is where the instance group is playing currently. Despite my “Oh no, not another fantasy MMORPG!” initial reaction, and probably because that was exactly what it was, it filled the niche for our group.
Sitting here now and looking out at 2012, I find that the MMOs I am looking forward too… really aren’t traditional shared virtual worlds.
There is a shared experience in each, be it cities, towns, lobbies, or chat channels. But the actual world in which you adventure, those are instanced. You an your group are on your own and you will never run into anybody who is not on the guest list one way or another.
Guild Wars 2
The game is certainly the most traditional looking of my choices for 2012 when comparing to other MMOs. The original Guild Wars was fully instanced with just cities available as locations where players could interact with the population as a whole. But the people at ArenaNet never claimed it was an MMO.
This time around they are stating that it is an MMO with a persistent world, with dynamic events, described as being scalable and to “encourage impromptu group play,” seeming to be the primary draw in that regard.
And, of course, it will solve all the problems from which current fantasy MMORPGs, and their players, suffer. Or so one might be lead to believe reading some of the fan comments.
Still, the game does appear to be trying to break some past trends while keeping its subscription-free business model. (Hey, Guild Wars was free to play back in 2005! What trend setters!) That ambition alone, along with the no subscriptions, is probably enough to get me to buy the box.
But I also own two Guild Wars boxes, and it was never sticky enough to get me to stay, so we’ll have to see how they do this time around.
And now we get into the items that are either Diablo III or very much like Diablo III, and where any MMO pretense starts sliding away. No shared virtual worlds here.
I will, almost assuredly, buy this game. But the true key to this list is whether I will play it with other people. While I played a lot of the original Diablo with other people, Diablo II settled down into an almost all solo affair. Part of that was the syncing of maps, where joining up with somebody would redo the random elements of your world to match theirs and your maps would be gone. And part of it was the scaling difficulty levels in Diablo II. Back in Diablo, we would sometimes just play in the same game but in different areas just to be chatting and such. In Diablo II the monsters all scaled up as people were added, so three people running around solo wasn’t a viable option. You had to stick together.
Then there is the group size aspect of things. Diablo III, like its predecessors, will be limited to four players. Given our regular group runs five people regularly, and can get expanded up to eight pretty quickly, this means it will be a game played on off-nights, which means no regular group.
So while I might play Diablo III, it may just get the treatment I give most games I play solo, which is a mention or two and a summary. Unless Blizzard loses its roots and fails to capture what made the Diablo games great, in which case it likely be one complaint post and silence ever after.
Torchlight II is clearly trying to be the Diablo III you want versus the Diablo III Blizzard is going to give you. It will offer LAN play, server options, up to eight players in a game, PvP games, 100 levels, pets, fishing and so on. Look at the comparo chart.
All done by a team that includes people who made the original two Diablo games.
The problem, for me, is that Torchlight, as solid as it was, did not capture the “feel” of the Diablo games. Much like one of my early and often complaints about WoW, it has a very cartoon feel to it, in the Team Fortress 2 sort of style. It failed on the atmosphere aspect of the Diablo essence, though it certainly had the simplicity part down.
So Torchlight II certainly gets past the group size issue and has many things to recommend it… and I will almost certainly buy it. But will it end up being a side game I play solo, or something the whole group can dive into?
Path of Exile
I wrote about Path of Exile the other day. This is another entry in the Diablo-like category.
If I can summarize the game badly, it is attempting to be Diablo 2.5 with a Guild Wars world and a free to play business model. All of which may be very good things indeed. Rather than the lobby system, it will have shared towns ala Guild Wars, where you can group up and then go out and adventure in instanced zones and dungeons all with Diablo style clicky game mechanics.
The problem is that while I give it high marks for graphic qualities and capturing some of that foreboding feel of Diablo, it hasn’t really grabbed me.
Now, to be fair, the game is in closed beta and has a ways to go. And I haven’t played all that much.
It could be a contender, but I get the feeling we won’t be talking about a go-live date for quite a while yet.
Honestly, I don’t even know where Neverwinter is going these days. It started off sounding like a LAN party D&D adventure with five player groups. Perfect.
But times have changed, Atari has been a pill, Cryptic has been bought up by Perfect World Entertainment (who is also Runic’s publisher for Torchlight II), and things seem to be bending to become a free to play MMO style game with the addition of Cryptic’s usual player created content system being added on.
All of which sounds fine on the surface. I have been known to pine for an overland Forgotten Realms campaign MMO.
However, my experience in software development shows that things that start in one direction and then bend to another often fail to come together as well as one might like. Ask me some day how the multi-server, no single point of failure, custom voice banking app development environment aimed at financial institutions with over a billion dollars in assets worked out when after launch it was decided it should become a canned, fits on one box, minimal configuration necessary, to be sold to the low end, price sensitive credit union and local bank market.
And only ask if you’re buying the beer.
Okay, maybe it won’t be that bad. It is a multiplayer game that is now going to be integrated into a more MMO-like environment. Cryptic has done the MMO thing a few of times now and has no doubt learned a thing or two. It could go smoothly this time!
The real killer for this though is that it is not likely to be shipping in 2012. Go Zubon predictions! It is already slated for “late 2012,” and we know how that works out.
World of Warplanes
I will play this. It will be free to play, free to download, I will try it.
Yes, there are many questions, like how will controls work. Somewhere at the simple F-15 Strike Eagle from my Apple II days end of the spectrum seems more likely than the IL-2 Sturmovik “so many damn controls I can’t keep track” end. This will piss people off.
And it will probably be much like World of Tanks as far as business model, where money buys faster advancement, gold planes, and special ammo. This will also piss people off.
My only real hope though is that it will capture the fun of World of Tanks in airplane form. For all of its faults, I have fun playing World of Tanks, which should be the key metric, right?
So What Will It Be?
My list last year was in search of a single game out of six that would stick. That, as I said, came to pass, with Rift being the winner.
This year it looks likely that I will play all of the items on my list, at least if they manage to ship in 2012. The distinct lack of subscription fees certainly help on that front. Six boxes to by at most, and maybe just three really, since three of the games seem to be going the online free to play route.
The real question is whether any of them will make it into the regular group as a title we play together.
As with last year, I am going to end this post with a poll. This time around though, it will be multiple choice. Which of the games on my list will you play if they are available. I included a “none of the above” option, but only click that if you do not click anything else.
What else might come along in 2012 that I should be looking for and which fits in the sorta-MMO or MMO genre?
Path of Exile and that Diablo II Vibe December 15, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment.
Tags: Diablo II, Grinding Gear Games, Path of Exile, Torchlight II
Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the game. I think I read about it over at Massively at one point, signed up for the beta, after which all recollection dropped from my brain.
But there was the email, and it came just as I was ramping up on Diablo II, which essentially made the timing perfect.
They did give me a set of rules to follow for the closed beta.
- You can tell people that you are in the Beta. Your account is marked as “Beta Member” on the forums.
- You can discuss any publicly available information that you would normally have discussed before you were in the Beta test.
- You’re welcome to post your general opinions on the game. Please do not go into detail about unannounced specifics or unfinished systems.
- Please do not reveal unannounced information or comment on how things in the Beta work. For example, you should not post about some skill that hasn’t been announced yet, or some unannounced looting system we are testing out.
- Please do not post balance values from the game or update public websites or wikis with this information. For example, if someone is gathering a list of item names in the Beta, you should not tell them new names. This information will change very frequently and we don’t want to confuse people.
- You may stream gameplay or post screenshots and videos without permission. If recording video or streaming gameplay, please disable global chat and remind viewers that the game is in Closed Beta and that much is changing with every patch.
- Please do not share your account. In the future, we’ll periodically allow you to invite some friends to play with.
- If you abuse these rules we reserve the right to remove your access.
A pretty reasonable set of rules. They obviously have a different world view than BioWare had with SWTOR, in that they need some publicity.
So I am going to say, under rule 3, that Path of Exile really has a serious “Diablo II brought forward to 2011″ vibe to it. Just look at it, as allowed under rule 6.
There are a bunch of things not in the game yet, but as it stands now, they appear to have put a lot of time and effort into making the basics run smooth and look good. I even have a video. (You can tell I got Fraps installed again. I needed initially for SWTOR beta screen shots… which I barely used.)
As I said, very much a Diablo II meets modern production values sort of thing.
The classes, while they have different names, do strike a similar chord relative to Diablo II and, for the moment, have that “your class determines your sex” thing going on.
Not that the game is a complete lift and revamp from Diablo II.
They have their own skill and gem system. I have only started to scratch the surface of that.
The potion mechanism, as it is implemented at the moment, is also a deviation from the Diablo II source, and not mere because they have FIVE potions on your belt. (Heretics!) Rather than having the constant “too many and then not enough” struggle that Diablo II had with potion drops, the potions in your belt are multi-use and refill with your activity. Thus you have a cap on the amount of heals you can have at any given time, but you also essentially pick up potion drop… refill your potions… by killing stuff.
The stories in the world also have their own flavor, and seem to be a little more quest driven, though the current “you wash ashore after a ship wreck with only a club” starting tale has been used many times before.
And the real big difference from the Diablo series is the finance model for the game. This is planned to be a persistent, online world (very much in the Guild Wars model of shared towns and cities with instanced adventure areas, or so it seems to me), that will be free to play and financed by micro transactions.
Grinding Gear is talking about “ethical micro-transactions” and is planning to stick to cosmetic changes or vanity items. How that will work out in the real world… well, we shall see. I know of no game that sells ONLY cosmetic and vanity items as their sole source of financing. But since they are also pushing PvP aspects of the game, they have to be very careful where they tread.
In the beta I haven’t gotten that far in the game, though I have spent a lot of my time just looking at how the models move and the graphical details. The game seems to be well honed on that front, as things look really good.
But this is closed beta, which probably means they have a long way to go and many things to tweak and otherwise work out. Still, the bits I have seen so far look very promising.
And if you want into the closed beta, they are still letting people sign up at the official site.
Who else has spent some time in the beta?