My gaming plans for 2015

nesMake plans, the saying goes, and God laughs.  It’s with that sort of understanding — plans can and will change all the time — that I write the following list of my gaming goals and possible MMO ventures in 2015.

My Big Gaming Resolution For 2015 Is…

I will try (and be open to) more MMOs.  I know that’s kind of a laughable statement with my reputation, but the truth is that there are a lot of games that I’ve never touched that I should at least sample to get a feel for them and see if they might be an unexpected delight.  Titles like ArcheAge, The Repopulation, Albion Online, Elder Scrolls Online, Shards Online, Asheron’s Call, and even the odd MUD might make it onto my computer at some point.  Maybe I should make a resolution to try a new game at least once a month for the year, totalling 12 titles.  I did like doing my one-month experiment returning back to DDO last year and always meant to do more of that.

The Secret World

My “secret adventures” series is on haitus for now as I want to concentrate on keeping my main character on top of the content.  Perhaps when I finish all of Tokyo and feel a little bored will I return to Savage Coast to finish it up, but for now I’m enjoying seeing brand-new missions and feeling more confident in Kaidan.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’d love to have my Smuggler to the level cap and through all of the expansions before any new story expansions hit so that I can do them with the crowd.  That’s a tall order, however, as my character has yet to hit level 30 and is strictly free-to-play.  Even if I can’t, I do want to keep trekking with this character and enjoying the stories and choices at my own pace with a murderous Ewok at my side.

Lord of the Rings Online

To tell you the truth, I might not even play this this year.  I kind of fizzled to a dead stop around October 2014 and haven’t felt a huge urge to log back in and play.  But who knows what a few months more of absence might rekindle, and if I do work up the urge to come back I could consider starting with a fresh new character or continuing my Captain’s journey through Gondor.

Marvel Heroes

With it’s ultra-casual, jump-in-anytime nature, I can see Marvel Heroes as being a side pleasure for the year.  It’s insanely replayable considering how often they keep adding new characters, although I’d love to stick with Squirrel Girl until I get her to the top.  Then I want to play Rogue for a while and perhaps sample the rest of my unlocked roster.

WildStar

I am subbed up through February, and after that it depends on how involved I am with the game and whether or not Carbine makes that expected F2P/B2P switch.  I really like WildStar for a lot of reasons, but it’s not my main and I’m not playing it enough to justify a subscription.  I would love to stick with one character and get her to the cap for the new content, but my character ping-ponging has kept me from doing this.

RIFT

I have a while yet to get through Nightmare Tide at my pokey puppy casual rate, although the question is what I will be doing after that.  I could just “maintain” by continuing minion missions, running dungeons and rifts, and consuming new content as it comes, I suppose.  I don’t think I want to go through the leveling process again with a new character.

Landmark

When this game hits a non-wipable open beta state, I’ll patch it up and give it a real try.  Until then, I don’t want to be disappointed with partial features and huge bugs.  Like many, I’m really holding out for EverQuest Next and don’t see much of a personal future in this title.  But assumptions can be proven wrong with actual encounters.

Guild Wars 2

Man, I do not know what is up with me and Guild Wars 2.  I both want to play it and I don’t.  I both really dig it and feel completely aimless in it.  There’s a lot left to be done but I still am not feeling a strong urge to get back into it.  So for now I’m letting this title rest, but I do hope that I find a purpose in 2015 for it because I would like to get jiggy in Tyria once again.  News of an expansion would be a huge incentive, methinks.

My 10 favorite geeky things of 2014 #10: Blogging

I can’t do a top 10 list of my favorite geeky things from this past year without talking about… well, this.  Blogging.  I’ve been doing it practically non-stop since 2008 on various platforms — Waaagh!, Gamer Riot, Bio Break, and Massively — and it just keeps on going.

In 2014 I’ve blogged about a lot here, mostly my experiences in MMOs, going through various retro titles, and tackling the odd subject here and there.  I tried to make this year’s theme about pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone with my game choices, which I did to some degree.  Next year will hopefully be about expanding horizons and trying other MMOs, but I’ll talk about that later.

Simply put, I love writing, and blogging gives me a great outlet for it.  I’ve gotten used to putting out around two blog posts every day here on Bio Break, and I hope that you have enjoyed at least some of it.  Thanks for putting up with my all-across-the-map ramblings, my indecisive gaming moves, and my master plan to rid the fantasy realms of elves for once and all time.  Oh.  You don’t know about that yet.  Well… shh.  Don’t tell anyone and I’ll let you in on the ground floor.

10 little things I love about Marvel Heroes

tippyI need to stop playing Marvel Heroes so much.  It’s just that it’s too easy to think, “Oh, I’ll get a little 15-minute sesh in here,” and then two hours goes by and my other MMOs look at me with accusing glares.  Well, if I’m slightly addicted, I might as well make a quick list about 10 little things I’m digging about the game.

1. Property Damage

In Diablo, you would often break the ever-present crates and barrels, but it wasn’t nearly as insane as the collateral property damage found in Marvel Heroes.  Cars, office cubicles, desks, doomsday machines… it’s like popping bubble wrap to constantly be destroying the surrounding environment.  I think I’m worse at doing this than the villains are.

2. Hero Quips

It’s amazing how much personality you get from these characters by hearing the occasional quip or battle shout (“Squirrel power!” has made it into my daily vocabulary).  But what I love the most is how characters will talk to or about other superheroes in the vicinity if they have relationships or past experiences together in the comics.

3. The J vacuum

Press J to suck up all of the loot around you with a cool vacuum noise.  VRRROOOSH.

4. Learning more about the Marvel universe

Other than comics from the 90s and the Marvel movies, I have been pretty ignorant about what’s going on in these series.  The bios, loading screens, and other informational tidbits in this game have helped to reintroduce me to this comic universe without making me spend hundreds on funny pages.

5. Lootsplosions

No games dole out loot quite like Diablo-type games.  Seeing an explosion of loot — even if I’m going to be selling most of it anyway — is always thrilling.  Especially if there’s a unique or eternity splinter in there!

6. Pets!

Not only does this game have vanity pets, but you can feed unwanted loot to them for persistent character buffs.  Neat-o!

7. I can play with only the mouse

Sometimes I want to lean back from my desk to game, and Marvel Heroes lets me do that since I can function almost entirely with just my mouse (of course, that means I only get two attacks, but I’m fine with that).

8. Clean UI

You know what?  Marvel Heroes has a clean, attractive user interface.  I like it a lot.  It also helps to keep the action screen free from most distractions.  I do wish that I could pull up a larger map for the zone or have a better idea sometimes about where to go for missions, but it’s not that bad.

9. Quick load times

Getting into the game and transferring between zones/instances is really, really quick.  Thank you for that, Gazillion.

10. Tons of freebies

Daily login rewards and other special events — such as the recent 12 days of Marvel Heroes — provide powerful incentives to check in with the game once a day at least to be treated to lots of free stuff.  Free heroes?  Premium currency?  Sure, I won’t complain!

My 10 favorite geeky things of 2014 #9: Community’s Season 6 pickup

Community-Season-6-TeaserI was incredibly, incredibly depressed to see that one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, Community, coming to a close after a truncated fifth season on NBC.  Words cannot express how much I love the creativity and spirit of this series (not to mention its sheer humor factor or how much it loves geeky everything), and I didn’t want to see it end.  It’s been like the best college movie of all time in a TV format.

So we Community fans went from the depths of sadness to the heights of ecstacy when the show got a surprise 11th hour pickup from — of all things — Yahoo! Screen for a sixth season back in June.  I don’t think I’ve ever cheered that loud while sitting in front of a computer monitor as I did that day, and I’m not ashamed to have done so.

Yeah, season 6 won’t be quite the same, with a different platform and fewer of its regular stars.  But with the creative leads and many of the actors still on board, I’m excited to see where it goes for the next year of Greendale.

#sixseasonsandamovie

6 nerdiest gifts I got this Christmas

ectoDespite my entire family — myself excluded — being incredibly sick with the flu, we had a great Christmas with each other and relatives.  Nice snow-free traveling weather too.  And because I’m a 38-year-old kid at heart, I got a lot of toys instead of grown-up things like ties and tax forms.  So what are the nerdiest gifts I got this year?

  1. The Complete Far Side — This was one of my all-time favorite comic strips (comic boxes?) and a mainstay of my high school experience.  I have many of the books and calendars, but now I am the possessor of ALL of them in a giant box set of three heavy, heavy volumes.
  2. LEGO Ghostbusters — My wife really made my day with this one.  The ECTO-1 will join the Back to the Future DeLorean and my many Star Wars LEGO sets at work, once I get enough time to assemble it.
  3. The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures — Another weighty tome, this one purports to cover most all graphic adventure games on the PC, a favorite subject of mine.  I think it’ll make good bathroom reading.
  4. Mario Kart Racing Track — This electric car racing track was a gift to both me and my eldest son to enjoy.  My boy has already claimed Mario, so I guess I’ll be Yoshi.
  5. Ukulele — There’s this sort of running gag in my life that I am not musically talented at all but I really would like to learn how to play something decently before I die.  So now that I’ve tried clarinet, piano, harmonica, and guitar, I am moving on to the Ukulele!  I told my wife I’d serenade her every morning with it and I think that might be the end of our marriage.
  6. Lifestraw — I’m kind of fascinated with survival gear, although I definitely don’t have enough of it to really make a difference if something truly bad went down.  Still, I put Lifestraw on my wishlist because it looked pretty awesome — a straw filter that would allow you to drink from nearly any water source and not get sick.  Sounds like a good thing to have in a backpack just in case.  Plus, I get to say the word “Lifestraw!”

Temple of Elemental Evil: The giant tick

(This is part of my journey playing through The Temple of Elemental Evil. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.) frogsOne frog massacre later, and we’re ready to move on further into the moathouse.  Everyone have his or her own fingers and heads?  Good.  Let’s go. spiderRight inside the moathouse is a tower containing a very large, very perturbed spider.  At him, fellows! The spider venom not only hurts Whiteberry but takes away one of her abilities.  I don’t know which one, D&D 3.0 was always complicated to me.  Other than that bite, we get out of the fight without any casualties and then loot a nearby chest for some gold and goodies.  As a bonus, this tower is apparently a safe resting zone, so I select “rest until healed” and the game takes eight days to recover about six hit points (as well as my one cleric healing skill).  Being a lowbie stinks.  I don’t even know if I have any magic attacks other than my cleric! banditsThe second we step into the courtyard, we’re ambushed by about seven brigands.  I have to say, I got really worried about this fight just by seeing the numbers of foes.  But then I forgot the upside of newbie D&D, which is that it’s not your traditional MMO hit point exchange.  Sometimes — a lot of times — attacks from low-level mobs don’t land at all.  I get through the entire fight with only suffering a single HP of damage to Zert, and that was because he walked through an attack of opportunity zone (if you pass near a mob without stopping, they get a free attack on you).  We get a little bit of loot and some confidence and move on. I want to mention that while ToEE is still an isometric D&D game, it’s very obvious that there were a lot of graphical upgrades compared to the old Icewind Dale/Baldur’s Gate engine.  Characters are so much more detailed and have a lot more animation, especially while fighting.  It comes across as something between Diablo II and III. ratsInside the moathouse proper, a parade of dire rats come out to say hello, but oddly enough, they don’t attack.  Fine with me.  Let’s plunder this place! leaderOops, plundering is going to have to wait until later.  First there’s a giant viper, followed by a (why not) giant tick, followed by a pack of bandits with their leader.  This latter fight is the trickiest yet in this game, mostly because we have the chokepoint of the doorway and a few strong attackers.  Two of my characters get knocked unconscious, but I manage to stabilize their bleeding and heal them back to functionality. Can I say how much I love my monk?  Her spin kicks of death are so dang awesome.  Bandit ’bout near exploded. zombiesThe basement of the moathouse is in better shape, although the hodge-podge of picks from the monster manual continues.  Zombies?  Giant ogre?  Green slime?  Sure, why not.  Makes total sense why a pack of brigands moved in.  “Larry, if you’re going to go pee in the basement, make sure you avoid the door on the left, as that is where the cannibalistic undead live.  Also, don’t pee too loudly, as the ogre will take that as a mating call.” Also, thank goodness for Turn Undead against packs of zombies.  Stunned a bunch of them so that my party wasn’t completely overrun, and even then both of our healers got knocked unconscious.  Zert also gets a disease, the Red Ache.  I don’t even know what to do for this. cataA secret ladder in the zombie area leads us down into the catacombs, where a few waves of ghouls await.  They’re quickly dispatched, at which most of my party gains a level.  Wahhoo!  I am… level 2.  Man, D&D is hard to adjust to when you come from the MMO world.

My 10 favorite geeky things of 2014 #8: iPhone 6

iphoneGetting a new smartphone after a few years with my trusty iPhone 4 was both a major event and a non-event.  It was an incremental upgrade with new technology, much needed but the iPhone 6 is more or less fulfilling the same function as my old 4.

However, I’m including it on this list because I’m glad I finally made the plunge.  Having a phone that actually works with some speed is wonderful, not to mention having more memory, Siri, an LTE connection, and other fancy tools.  Plus, an extra .7 inch of screen real estate has made Kindle reading and other activities easier.

Yes, part of me wishes that I could break out of the Apple ecosystem, although I’d be trading that for Google’s or Amazon’s and what’s the difference when it’s all big unfeeling corporations anyway?  But I know how Apple works on my mobile devices, at least, and appreciate the sleek design and apps that I’ve already paid for.