Archive for April, 2012

Alright, this weekend was the first public beta of Guild Wars 2 for those of us who pre-purchased, or at least put money down on our copies from the local game store.  I sat at work all day, anxious to get out of there, like a kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Finally, got home, got fed, and got in game with Julie and a friend from work.  Once we finally found a home server we could connect to (it only took a couple tries) we were off and running, building our characters.

Character creation is great, lovely mix if in game graphics and concept art.  The level of detail you can use to make your character is astounding, right down to the spacing of their eyes, width of their mouth and nose, and the shape of their chin.  You set up your body type, physique and height, dye your armor, pick some basic background info and away you go.  Fans of the original game will be blown away with the options and customization.  Unless you just go with the default, you really won’t see too many people that look just like you in this game.

I started out with a norn guardian, putting me in the snow-swept mountains called the Shiverpeaks.  I was instantly reminded of Eye of the North, from Guild Wars 1, where we were first introduced to the giant-like norn.  I was also instantly aware that the feel of this game is totally different.  For those of you used to MMO’s like World of Warcraft, where hundreds of people roam the same area fighting monsters and doing whatever it is they do, you will feel right at home.  For those of us who came up from Guild Wars, it’s a bit of a shock.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.  If you are like me, a former GW player, imagine all those maps with monsters, being as populous as one of the major towns.  It’s just strange.

The game is a bit overwhelming.  It is one of the first things I noticed that I would have done differently.  It doesn’t ease you into it.  While the learning curve is low, it can still be a bit chaotic.  There is so much to see and do, so many places to go, the sense of freedom is nice, but a shock if you aren’t used to it or prepared for it.  I caught hints of the craft system, gathering materials, salvaging, and trading.  I found the player auction house fairly quickly, and people already have guilds set up.  There was just a lot to take in, and unlike it’s predecessor, and many other games, there’s no tutorial stage.  You literally hit the ground running.

Despite all of that I did have a good time, and it didn’t take long to get comfortable with the world, and what the game had to offer.  The majority of the discomfort and confusion simply came from it all being new.  As I learned the area, how things worked, and how to find where I needed to be at any given time, I was more at ease.  The skills were sensible, and I was overwhelmed with choice.  The animations looked nice as did the scenery, the characters, and the armor.  The music was great, and the sound effects brought you into the world.  It was visually and audibly up to the standards I expect from a company that put out the best looking MMO years ago (GW if you weren’t sure).

Now, the two beefs I have so far were noticeable right away.  First, the minor one.  The camera needs to be able to zoom out more.  I like to see things up close from time to time, but when I’m trying to fight a battle tactically, or roam and explore the world, I like to see more of it.  My character dominated the screen, and at times I would turn the camera so much that I would get lost with no point of reference unless I went to the map.  The world of Tyria is a beautiful place, and I want to see more of it while I play please.  The second one is major and a lot of people have noticed it.  Me, Julie, and a coworker of mine got in and started playing.  Right away we started looking for each other, even put ourselves in a party, but we couldn’t find each other.  Seems that you are either in the main server, or in the overflow server, and there’s no way to switch between that we could find easily.  I would highly suggest that if people make a party, the game keep them together, whether it push them all to the overflow or whatever.  An MMO is meant to be played with friends, in groups, and they need to make it easier to do just that.

There’s more to write, and hopefully tomorrow I can give you some screenshots and touch on a couple of key features.  For now this is just my initial thoughts on the three hours or so I was able to get in.

Ryan is one of my coworkers, and as we started digging into his past we came across a lot of unusual facts.  For your reading pleasure, here is the first collection of said facts.  You might want to sit down.

 

  1. He is a long distance runner.
  2. He is trained in many styles of MMA fighting. And has never lost a fight.
  3. He once worked as an alligator wrestler in Australia.
  4. He once karate chopped a person in half, just to see if there was candy inside.
  5. I have seen him eat rocks for protein.
  6. He once head butted George Washington’s corpse.
  7. He licked a High Voltage tower because he was too cheap to get a perm. (dont ask why he wanted a perm)
  8. He was the inspiration for the James Bond movies.
  9. He once was a body double for Steve Seagal. (in his good movies, not the bad ones)
  10. He has been to top of Mount Everest and pee’d off the side.
  11. He was the original designer of the Eiffel Tower.
  12. He started Pokemon fad and ended it.
  13. He wrote 3 chapters of the bible, before it got popular.
  14. He is part wookie.
  15. The boogey man checks under his bed for Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris checks for Ryan Campbell
  16. Once wrestled a Narwhal on a dare, and now wears just the horn at midnight every third Tuesday of the month.
  17. Invented the internets v 2.0, it’s exclusive, wait for your invite.
  18. Lassoed the moon and pulled it closer just so he could see the whites of a man’s eyes…then beat him to death with his own boot.
  19. He can control the weather, but doesn’t do so because he likes to be surprised.
  20. He once ate an entire deep fried horse in one sitting.
  21. Ryan doesn’t have actually have blood, just a concentrated form of awesome running through his veins.
  22. Dr Phil goes to Ryan Campbell for advice.
  23. Is capable of pronouncing *#*!sl7&
  24. Used to have 13 fingers, the extras were bit off by a rabid wombat.
  25. Once spent a month at a Shaolin monastery just to learn to keep his toe nails from growing.
  26. The lord of the rings is based on a trip Ryan once took to the grocery store.
  27. Is the Batman
  28. Is the reason that the dinosaurs died.
  29. Taught Gandhi how to keep his calm.
  30. He built Rome in a day.
  31. ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ is a parody of one of Ryan’s classics.
  32. Before the big bang there was Ryan Campbell.
  33. Once wrestled a sea monkey, just to take its cashew
  34. Ryan invented folk music.

You can’t stop the epic.

Yesterday I opened my email and it was like Christmas, if the gift-giving holiday only came once every three years or so.  In my inbox sat an email I had been waiting for for about that long.  Finally, this weekend, Guild Wars 2’s first public beta!  Any Guild Wars fan knows, we’ve been waiting for this game for a long time.  I don’t begrudge Arenanet for taking their time though.  In this day and age of half-finished games, releases that aren’t complete until they patch it a dozen times, and games that get rushed to market leaving us all wondering ‘what’s the point?’  In this case, I want them to take their time, but along with that reasonable wish I am still chomping at the bit for the release of this game.

For all of you not ‘in the know’ Guild Wars 2 is an MMO style RPG, based on a unique world filled with monsters, magic, and heroes.  Unlike other RPGs the playable races do NOT include dwarves and elves, something that I like a lot, getting away from the cookie-cutter fantasy archetypes.  The story behind the world of Guild Wars is far too extensive to go into here, but rest assured, if miles of text on history, adventure, creature ecology, and just plain flavor text is something you enjoy, Guild Wars has it in spades.  I, myself, love to read history, even if it’s made up history for a made up game, and this one has tons of it.  If you really get into learning about your character, their race, their background, where they come from, who their enemies might be, fears, hopes and dreams, you definitely won’t lack for information.

One of the draws to the original Guild Wars for me were the visuals.  I’m all for great gameplay, balance, ease of use and learning and all of that, but in the end for me a game won’t hold my attention for long if the graphics are terrible.  I have to look at this game for hours, and like many fun games I’ve tried with bad graphics, I can only look at an ugly game for so long before it doesn’t matter how much fun it is.  Guild Wars, and from the looks of the sequel Guild Wars 2, does not disappoint in this department at all.  Brilliant colors, amazing visuals, breathtaking vistas, all draw you into a detailed world where every day brings some new thing you didn’t notice before.  I remember exploring every corner of the original game, not only to get the cartography title, but also to see what little visual gem was tucked away.  These guys hid little shrines, fountains, ruins, and on and on, all over the place.  In most cases they had no story attached to them, no reason for your character to go there, just something cool to stumble on as you roam the world.  So many times I’d come upon some overlook, or view of something, and have to just stop and look, like a tourist out to pictures.  Like that tourist I would take a screenshot, just so I could show Julie later.  This time around I’m excited to re-explore the world, 250 years after the original game, and do it with my wife who will be joining me for this adventure.

Along with visuals comes sound.  Nothing draws me into a game better than great music and effects, especially since I invested in a surround sound headset years ago.  The music for the original game was fantastic, and the sound effects, ambient sound, and general ‘ear candy’ was enough sometimes to make me stop and just listen.  I am confident the sequel will match, or top the original for sound design.

As I mentioned before, this game’s story happens 250 years after the original, and as one would expect in a world filled with magic, and a race so annoyingly intelligent they look down on you from their lofty height of about 2′ 5″.  The Asura is who I mean, and anyone who had the Eye of the North Expansion know who they are.  Anyway, as you can see there, firearms have entered the game.  At first, like many I’m sure, I was a bit put off.  I’m very traditional when it comes to my fantasy, and have always been one that didn’t want technology mixed with my dragons.  As I watched more and more gameplay, and saw more screenshots, I was sold.  It makes sense, first of all, and it’s not so blatant that it looks more like sci-fi than fantasy.  I’m keeping an open mind, and I am sure I will have fun with it.

There are some huge differences between the original game and this one, and the list is of course too long to go into here.  Some of the changes seem odd, but I’m sure once we get into the game and start playing it they will make sense.  The biggest change I saw, and one that I like, is no more devoted healers.  Most people will remember the hours spent trying to find one or two healers for your party, only to have one quit part way through the mission and the other not know what he’s doing.  Well in GW2 every class is going to be able to heal himself and others, and those skill slots will be devoted to healing.  No more snooty monks that think they can do everything on their own, or want to run around killing stuff when they should be in the back keeping everyone alive.

Well, you can obviously read much more information at their site, which I linked to up at the top.  The information released for this game so far is extensive.  I will also be putting a link to the blog on my main menu so you can easily go and find anything you desire there as well.  One last thought to leave you with, before I go, one key gem about this game that I can say enough.  FREE…TO…PLAY!  Best MMO out there in my opinion, yes even better than World of Warcraft, and other than buying the game, you don’t have to pay a dime to play it.  So, hope to see you there, and I’m sure I will have more to say about it in the days and weeks to come.

 

This site uses images and other material that is property of Arenanet, Inc.  © 2011 ArenaNet, Inc. All rights reserved. NCsoft, the interlocking NC logo, ArenaNet, Arena.net, Guild Wars, Guild Wars Factions, Factions, Guild Wars Nightfall, Nightfall, Guild Wars: Eye of the North, Guild Wars Eye of the North, Eye of the North, Guild Wars 2, and all associated logos and designs are trademarks or registered trademarks of NCsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

This past weekend Julie and I made our yearly trek to Chicago for a comic book convention.  In years past we had always gone to Wizard World/Comic Con, but the last couple of years we’ve been less-than impressed with the August con.  Last year we decided to try out C2E2 which is earlier in the year.  We liked it, so we decided that was the one for us and we went again this year.  Being the third year in a row, the con managed to impress again.  They moved it to a larger convention hall, and it was still packed.  Where Comic Con seems to feature $80 autographs from celebrities that are already rich, C2E2 puts the emphasis on writers, artists, vendors, and general entertainment, much like Wizard World used to.  Overall it was a great Saturday spent with my wife, packed together with several thousand people that share our interests.  Crowds of costumed fans, ravenous art collectors, comic book hoarders, gamers, and bright-eyed kids filled the place with the sense that that was the place to be.

I was able to meet the guys from Cyanide and Happiness who were selling T-Shirts and posters at a booth.  They were having a blast doing sketches like the one here, for people who came to buy something.  That is a picture of them doing one for me, and no, I won’t be posting the entire picture you’ll have to use your imagination.  It is not at all appropriate for mixed company.  I got a great T-Shirt, and a signed poster, and they threw in this sketch for free.  I didn’t mind shelling out the coin for the shirt, something I would have bought at some time anyway, and unlike some these guys weren’t charging for these huge pieces of original artwork.

The way they were doing these was one guy started on one side of the paper, while the other guy started opposite.  They didn’t really look at what the other was drawing and when they met in the middle they just sort of made it work.  We watched in shock and awe as they finished this piece, and when they were done they both sat back and looked at it, one saying “What the f… is going on in this picture?”  I look at it still and ask myself the same thing.

One of the cool things we saw were the pieces that were included in the Captain America auction.  These are real pieces from the movie, costumes, props, etc, all worn by the actors for the first movie.  They also had the motorcycles, weapons, explosives, and various sundry on display.  I’ve never been that close to so much from a blockbuster movie, and I was impressed with the quality.  I know it’s quite easy to take a cheap costumes and make them look good in a movie, but these were very high quality props.

I really liked that brown vest on the lower right, and had I come to the convention with way too much money to blow, I could see myself wearing that all the time.  *GASP*  I know, right…wear a valuable movie prop as regular clothing?!  Yes, yes I would.  I also open the packages of actions figures so I can get them out and pose them, and I read all of my comic books with my bare hands.  To me, what’s the point of spending money on something if you are just going to lock it away and look at it.  I want to get it out and enjoy it.

We saw a few celebrities there, and of course they were charging for autographs.  That’s fairly standard and no surprise.  Some of them aren’t working right now, and sure, in some cases they need the money.  Not going to begrudge a guy who devotes an entire weekend of his time to ‘work’ even if it is just signing stuff at a convention.  I would imagine part of it has to do with not being mobbed too.  Can you imagine how long the line would be for Sean Astin if he wasn’t charging a dime for his sig?  Anyway, not going to bore you with a list of names, you can look that up at the link above.

There was some cool celebrity related news though.  I was told by another convention goer that Anthony Daniels (C3PO) walked the convention floor and took pictures with fans.  Also heard that on Friday Shia LeBeouf showed up last minute to promote his self-published, three issue comic.  From what I hear he wasn’t charging for autographs, and was great to his fans despite the massive line that formed once people realized it was him.

Also featured, and one of the main reasons I go, are new and upcoming writers and artists.  I got a picture of JP Roth, a freelance writer and author turned comic book creator and more.  I picked up a copy of her new comic and a print for a very reasonable price.  She was nice, easy to talk to, and very excited about her project.  The artwork in her project was great, for a small press publication, and the writing in the issue I got was good.  It was more of a preview for a line called Ancient Dreams, but it was still a great read.

I like meeting the artists that aren’t mobbed because they have been working on the major titles, and seeing the writers, cause that’s what I am, and I don’t think they get enough support honestly.  A lot of people collect comics for the story, but in all honesty bad art can ruin an amazing story any day.  I know I’ve stopped reading some runs of regular comics due to poor art, and I feel bad for the writers, but I just can’t pull myself through the book if the art looks like a 5 year old drew it, or is so pretentious and artsy it belongs on anything but a comic book.

So overall the trip was great.  I have some upcoming advice for convention goers, but I think I’ve packed enough into this post.  Don’t want to lose you all to boredom.  If you are close to Chicago next spring, and have any interest in comics, art, action figures, toys, pop culture, costumes, authors, movies, games, or anything else that’s fun, you should go.  Get your tickets early and save money, and I’ll see you there.

Ok, so I’ve been looking forward to Guild Wars 2 for a couple years now, like any other Guild Wars fan and anyone that has been introduced to the game afterward.  Even my wife, who has not really been too much into games and never into tabletop RPGs, said some oh so sweet words to me last year.  I’m sure I’m paraphrasing but it went something like this, “Oh Yes!  Yes!  Oh My God Yes!…”  Oh wait, not that wasn’t it, no she said she wanted to play Guild Wars 2 when it came out.  Every gamer’s dream, their lover, wife, significant other, spouse, etc, wanting to play with them…in a game (you people with dirty minds…).  Well I was now doubly excited.  Finally one of my greatest loves wants to get involved with me and one of my greatest loves!  😉

All right, enough of the sarcasm, I’m sure I will have bruises for the above anyway.  Well when she said she wanted to play Guild Wars 2 (henceforth known as GW2) I told her she was going to need a new computer.  Her old one, which was really my old one (a story I touched on in my post dedicated to my wife), was not going to cut it.  Plus I was tired of troubleshooting all the errors on that old beast anyway.  Time to build new!

So after all of that this post is really about building the fifth (or is it sixth) PC I’ve ever built from scratch, and the first I’ve built that fired up without a hitch from the start.  All my previous builds have always had some issue, some BSOD, or dead memory, or not having the power connections in the right place from the front panel to the motherboard.  So, without further ado, I give you Ravenshome, my wife’s first brand new PC, and now the forth working computer in our house.

Ravenshome plainRavenshome Blue

Here we have a side by side, showing the internals under a flash so you can see what’s what, and without flash so you can see all the LEDs.  Not going to bore you with all the model numbers and things you don’t care about.  So, the meat and potatoes specs:

  • AMD PhenomII 965BE quad core CPU
  • Zalman cooler
  • 4G DDR3 1333 RAM
  • 1TB SATA hard drive
  • nVidia 260GTX video card
  • Corsair 600W Power
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • All wrapped up in a coolermaster HAF 932 full tower (so love working with all that space!)

As you can see, no custom stuff with wiring or lights.  Just what came out of the box.  I did run all the wires I could behind the back panel of the case.  I love the ease of building in these full towers, despite the appearance of wasted space.  I know, I know, it’s not the Cadillac of PCs…why didn’t I use an intel i7 or a Radeon card…frankly this is far more than any gamer needs right now or will need for a few years.  It was very affordable, coming in well under $1000, and it will get the job done.  Some guys like a Ferrari, I prefer a Corvette.  Both faster than you really need, but one is a hell of a lot cheaper.

Oh and the ‘Dark Side’ reference?  Well the other night my wife said “You don’t expect me to become some gamer geek do you?”  Out loud I said “Of course not dear.”  In my head was the emperor rubbing his hands together and cackling maniacally.