20 Minutes in Rapture: Day 2

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“Altruism is the Root of all Wickedness.”

The nightmare that is Rapture continues. Today I was introduced to Little Sisters and Big Daddy’s. The Little Sister exists to harvest ADAM; the Big Daddy ensures that the Little Sister carries our her job. Whoever created this ecosystem from hell is surely mad. I have no doubt. Continuing past the theater, I wrap around some corridors only to find that the entrance way to Neptune’s Bounty (where Atlas’s family is) is blocked off. Atlas tells me to proceed to the Medical Wing. Figures.

Dispatching Plasmid junkies seems to be the order of the day in Rapture. A bolt of lightening from the hand here, a bonk on the head with the wrench there. Splicers electrocuted before they can ever touch me. I like what the Plasmids enable me to do. In fact, I find myself loving my new found powers. Whenever I run out of Plasmids, rendering me unable to shoot bolts of lightening from my hands, I find myself in a frenzy. I want power. I want to feel what it is to be a god. Perhaps that sentiment is why Rapture is eating itself alive. I don’t care. I crave the power of the Plasmid.

Heading toward the medical wing, I am treated to another video featuring the infamous Andrew Ryan. I think that the guy was paranoid. After witnessing Plasmid junkies trying to break through a window and kill me, I quickly make my way through vault-like doors to the Medical Wing.

Thoughts so far:

  • Interesting how the game makes the player crave power (aka the Plasmid).
  • Sound design is phenomenal!
  • Is BioShock the tale of the classic question of whether man is basically good or evil?

Join me next time as I continue to explore the depths of Rapture.

20 Minutes in Rapture: Day 1

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“They told me son your special, you were born to do great things…”

Recovering from a freak plane crash, I swam through the wreckage and fire. Screams of those drowning filled the night. Gathering my senses, I noticed that there is a lighthouse looming in the darkness. What luck! Climbing up the stairs that lead to the lighthouse, I am struck by the oddness of what I am seeing. Why is this 1920’s art deco style lighthouse out in the middle of the mid-Atlantic? Entering the lighthouse, the lights suddenly come on to reveal a huge banner.

The plaque below the banner contains a quote from a man named Andrew Ryan. Sounds like a nice guy. Further investigation of the lighthouse reveals a bathysphere. Inside, a shiny control switch. To flip or not to flip? Knowing that my adventure was at a standstill, I flipped the switch. Dive! Dive! Dive!

As the bathysphere dove deeper and deeper into the sea, I am treated to an in flight video. Andrew Ryan, as he introduces himself, tells of his wish to be alone. Seems he was teased in school. So, he created an underwater city named Rapture. Rapture, an under sea city of dreams; a utopia dedicated to the unbound man.

“All Good Things on this Earth Flow into the City.”

The above quote quickly turned out to be a lie as I arrived in Rapture. The bathysphere settled into what looked like was once an underwater transit hub. The hub station looked like a scene from a war movie. What has happened here? I didn’t have long to ponder. Suddenly, the bathysphere was attacked by what I am told is a Splicer (a love child of Edward Scissorhands). Atlas, speaking over a service radio tells me to take him along for the ride. Having almost died by splice, I see that I have no choice but to trust Atlas, for now.

Nightmares Come True

The plane crash was only the beginning. Slowly trekking through the decaying Rapture, I learn that Atlas wants me to help him rescue his family. Part of me doubts that such a family exists. Oh yeah, I have also been introduced to something call Plasmids. Plasmids are the preferred drug of Rapture. Atlas tells me that the Plasmids made everyone go mad. Great! I have no clue why I tried one…although shocking Rapture leftovers (citizens) has proven to be quite fun.

Thoughts so far:

  • The sound design and atmosphere of the game is incredible.
  • So what if I am a bit freaked out. Right? Right?!?

Join me next time as I continue to explore the depths of Rapture.

Monster Hunter Tri Bundle

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Nintendo announced today that Monster Hunter® Tri will indeed be bundled with the Classic Controller Pro and priced at $59.99.

Monster Hunter Tri has made a huge splash in the Japanese market, and we’re confident the bundle with the Classic Controller Pro will give fans in North America plenty to get excited about,” said Steve Singer, Nintendo of America’s vice president of Licensing. “Gamers of all kinds enjoy playing games on Wii. Monster Hunter Tri delivers an incredible new experience on Wii, while the Classic Controller Pro gives players even more control options for their favorite Wii games.”

The new Classic Controller Pro includes a second row of shoulder buttons and ergonomically friendly grips. The Classic Controller Pro plugs directly into the Wii Remote™ controller, and until now, has been available only in the Japanese market.

The Classic Controller Pro will be compatible with more than 450 Wii, WiiWare™ and Virtual Console™ games. The Classic Controller Pro bundled with Monster Hunter Tri will be black, while both black and white versions of the controller will also be available separately at a suggested retail price of $19.99. The game will also be available without a controller at a suggested retail price of $49.99.

For full press release click here.

The hunt begins this April.

Podcast Spotlight: Retronauts

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A trip to nostalgic beach is often the order of the day around JohnnyBGamer. 1up’s Retronauts, with host Jeremy Parish, provides an insightful podcast that fills that nostalgic need. Discussing games of the bygone era, Retronauts explores the early days of the gaming industry. From the highs and lows of the Atari to the golden age of Sega and Nintendo, Retronauts never fails to deliver an informative and entertaining podcast. For those wishing to revisit their childhood video game memories, this podcast is for you!

Just subscribe already!

Give them a listen (link will open iTunes).

CozyQuest

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–   Cozy Quest   –   Version 1.3   –   25.3MB  –

Press Start:

The Fair City of Felrona awaits, as players traverse the mythical lands of Eluna in search of fame, fortune, and loot. Developer Nils Munch’s CozyQuest, is an iDevice attempt at what is usually a PC exclusive, an MMO.

The game starts with a simple character creation screen where the player selects:

Character Class –

  • Priest – Healing
  • Merchant – Crafting
  • Mage – Magic and rainbows
  • Warrior – Tank

Name – Finally, a chance to name your character what you’ve always wanted to be called!

Race –

  • Thull – A race known for strength and endurance
  • Mekkel – A people of nomads and bards
  • Aran – Known for being strongwilled and their craft with swords
  • Pesha – Honorable/ Peace loving/ Pocahontas’s cousins
  • Toran – The Romans of Eluna/ Spartans

Character created, you find yourself off to Elgarz the Alchemist, who is in dire need of Strangleberries. Sure, no problem. A place with a name like the Dark Woods shouldn’t be all that bad, right? Right?!?

Ideology/ Worldview:

Enter the Felrona Chapel to choose your faith:

  • Shaim – “The god of purity and rebirth. Make of the Pesha race.”
  • Karosh – “The god of despair and destruction.”
  • Amala – “The iron god. Stands for craftmanship and strong will.”
  • Tordo – “God of strength and hate. Make of the Thull race.” Known in the real world as Satan.

The gods in CozyQuest serve to offer the player buffs and random gifts. Note that they can be abandoned at will. However, this means that money donated to that particular god will be lost. Lack of devotion has its costs.

Other mentions of religion:

  • The Thull race have a mountain god named Akarak
  • The Aran race is known to be religious

Interaction/ Gameplay:

Touch the screen over, and over, and over again! Gameplay in CozyQuest consists of grinding out levels in order to level your character. Standard MMO fair minus playing with other players. However, one can chat with other players in the Salty Siren Tavern. Exciting!

In the End:

In May of 2009, I wrote:

In its current state, purchasing CozyQuest is like signing up for an app beta test. With content being added to the game daily, I do not see this beta environment as a problem. The core game is in tact and running smoothly. The quests are interesting and well thought out. CozyQuest is an investment at this point. Before purchasing, you need to ask yourself this question: 1) Are you willing to invest $4.99, in developer Nils Munch, to see if he can realize his creative vision?

Nearly 9 months later, CozyQuest is like a ship that is slowly sinking. Not quite the disaster I left in mid 2009, CozyQuest still feels rough around the edges. Sure, developer Nils Munch has added multiple character slots and a core game/ graphical upgrade. This makes CozyQuest now run smoother and look prettier. However, one of the core complaints that I originally had has not changed:

  • Quests are repetitive. In order to level, quests have to be repeated multiple times. This repetition of quests gets old by the time you’ve clicked through the same quest for the 20th time.

At this point in the apps life, the gameplay featured in CozyQuest is not enough for anyone to warrant a purchase on their iDevice. CozyQuest (link will open iTunes) will always be a creative vision that has yet to be reached. Perhaps one day.

A glimmer of hope amongst an otherwise spoiled game/app

– Level of Impact –

Medium: Does not require large amounts of time to play.

The Cold War is Over: Part 1

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Despite what you may have been taught in school, the Cold War did not end in 1991 but ended in 2009.

During the height of the Apple App Store Gold Rush, I worked on a side project entitled Cold War Fruit. The website/ blog was dedicated to iPhone/iTouch app news & reviews. While I enjoyed the six months I spent mixing Cold War history with Apple apps, I did not forsee the anger and frustration that was on the horizon.

Having bought a first generation iPod Touch, I was able to enjoy the same benefits that my friends with iPhones were enjoying. Checking mail, surfing the web, and playing the latest apps were suddenly intertwined in my daily life. I wondered how I had ever lived without an iPod (the Touch was my first iPod). This small wonder of a device went everywhere with me and still does.

When the second generation iPod Touch was announced, along with the iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade, I suddenly found myself segregated from the rest of the Apple populace.  One of the touted features of OS 3.0 was Bluetooth wireless gaming. Bluetooth = awesome! Right!?? No. The first generation iPod Touch did not have Bluetooth!. In a single hardware upgrade, Apple managed to kill my enthusiasm for everything Apple. So, I decided to quit focusing so much on the Apple App Store and instead go back to an older project of mine, JohnnyBGamer. I was finished with Cold War Fruit. The Cold War was over.

This is my first in a series of thoughts on iPhone/ iPod Touch gaming. Be sure to check back soon for more!

Unnecessary Checkpoints

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Growing up, I lived in a valley that was hedged in by foothills and mountains. The south end of the valley featured a Border Patrol Checkpoint. Set up to combat illegal aliens and drug smuggling, the checkpoint was situated roughly 70 miles north of the Mexican border. Unnecessary? Politics aside, I think so.

Recently, I have been playing through Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen on the Nintendo DS. As the games title insinuates, DQIV is broken into chapters or side stories. The first 5 chapters focus on what turns out to be the support characters. Chapter 6 unites the support characters with the hero of the game, you.

Dragon Quest IV marks my first entry into the Dragon Quest series. While I have enjoyed the 20+ hours I have spent in the game so far, I do have a minor gripe, the unnecessary leveling checkpoints.

20 year old gameplay mechanics aside, Dragon Quest IV commits the sin of the invisible wall. Every few levels, these invisible checkpoints force players to stop and grind (level up) until they are at a sufficient level to proceed in the game. Dungeons, monsters, and bosses are some of the most common level checkpoints found in the game. While I know that this is a common RPG mechanic, I have never been so aware of it. Perhaps this is due to the age of the game? I’m not sure.

Grinding is one of those bite-the-bullet game mechanics. Properly instituted within a game’s design it can be a mechanic that one barely notices. While I am enjoying the time spent with Dragon Quest IV, I can’t help but wish that a more organic type of leveling system be created. However, I do find some sort of twisted comfort in level grinding. The old and the familiar, right? Until next time.

MMO Cost Breakdown

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Below you will find a comprehensive listing of subscription fees for popular MMO’s. Enjoy!

Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $35.98*
  • 6 Months – $62.96*
  • 12 Months – $98.93*
  • (*Based on a discounted rate as of 1/19/2011)

Aion

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99

Alganon

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95

Anarchy Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play unless your playing with the expansions (then $14.95).

APB: Reloaded

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Asheron’s Call

  • Monthly Subscription Fee –  $12.95
  • 3 Months – $35.75
  • 6 Months – $67.75
  • 12 Months – $119.75

Champions Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • Free-to-play – January 25, 2011

Dark Age of Camelot

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95
  • 3 Months – $40.35 ($13.45)
  • 6 Months – $71.70 ($11.95 per month)
  • 12 Months – $137.40 ($11.45 per month)

DC Universe Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.99 ($14.00 per month)
  • 6 Months – $77.99 ($13.00 per month)
  • 12 Months – $134.99 ($11.25 per month)
  • Lifetime – $199.99 (*PC Only)

Dungeons & Dragons Online

EVE Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95
  • 3 Months – $38.85
  • 6 Months – $71.70
  • 12 Months – $131.40

EverQuest

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

EverQuest 2

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Fallen Earth

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99

Final Fantasy 11

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.95
  • Other Services – Additional Monthly Character Fee ($1 per character)

Final Fantasy 14

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.99

Free Realms

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play or $5 for Membership (5 extra jobs, 400 extra items/ quests, 3 character slots, and ranking on leaderboards)
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Global Agenda: Conquest

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.99
  • 3 Months – $34.47
  • 6 Months – $59.94

Guild Wars

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play

LEGO Universe

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $9.99
  • 6 Months – $49.99
  • 12 Months – $89.99

The Lord of the Rings Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.85
  • 6 Months – $77.70
  • 12 Months – $143.40
  • Lifetime Subscription – $299.00
  • Free-to-play (pricing varies)

Pirates of the Burning Sea

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.99
  • 6 Months -$77.99
  • 12 Months – $143
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

RIFT

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Runes of Magic

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play

Star Trek Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $13.99 ($41.97)
  • 6 Months – $12.00 ($77.94)
  • Lifetime Subscription – $299.99

Star Wars Galaxies

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

TERA

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Ultima Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee –$12.99
  • 3 Months – $34.99
  • 6 Months – $59.99

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

Wizard 101

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $9.95 (single account), $6.95 (2 or more)
  • 6 Months – $49.95
  • 12 Months – $79.95
  • Notes: Pay by Area ($1-$3 per area)

World of Warcraft

Did we miss a game? Find that our numbers have changed? Comment below!

LED TV: Fact or Fiction?

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LED TV: Fact or Fiction?

Mmmm January. Cold weather, snow, people taking up space in the gym with no intention of staying longer than a week, and oh yeah, playoffs! I love it, or at least I did until my Eagles went belly up to the Cowboys on Saturday (1/9/10)… utterly shameful. Anyway, this is also the time of year when people go out and purchase a brand new HDTV, and I hate to see people suckered into marketing scams involved in electronics. Have you ever paid over twenty bucks for HDMI cords? If yes, you’re in the suckered camp. Sorry.

The latest blip on my scammadar (you know, like scam radar) is this idea of LED TVs. Yes, Sony has an LED TV that has possibly the best picture in the world (I can’t say I’ve actually seen it), but it’s different from the LEDs you’ll find now at the local big box retailer (The fact that an 11″ TV costs $2,500 should be a clue). All of these so called LED televisions are really just LCDs. Up until now, LCDs have used fluorescent bulbs as the backlighting source that shines light through the liquid crystal. Manufacturers now use an array of LEDs to shine through the liquid crystal.

So it’s still an LCD but with LED backlighting. Does it produce a better picture? Absolutely, but it’s basically equivalent to what we’ve seen from plasma’s for years. It’s all about higher contrast ratios. Contrast ratios essentially tell you how black the black on the screen is (except that contrast ratios are a huge scam. Google it or leave a comment for more info).  I’ll let you measure the pros on cons of the whole Plasma vs. LCD debate; just don’t confuse these improved LCDs with the real LEDs coming in the future.

LED TV: Fact or Fiction? (Soapbox Edition)

I’m a gadget guy. Mostly, I love big TVs, big speakers, and huge subwoofers. Unfortunately, I’m still in school and can’t afford any of those toys. This is why it pains me to see the general populace be misinformed and duped by clever marketing schemes. If you’re confused by all the terms at your local big box store, pay attention to the following.

CES 2010, the grand daddy of new-gadget tradeshows, was just held this past week. For gadget geeks such as myself, it’s a weeklong state of euphoria as new product after new product is announced. It also means we get a preview of all the new buzzwords we’ll see plastered in stores for the next year. Get ready for LED HDTVs (If you haven’t already seen them).

Okay, lets backup for a history lesson. At CES 2009 (maybe earlier, I can’t remember), Sony unveiled their newest TV technology, organic light emitting diode televisions or OLED TVs. Apparently, (I wasn’t there) the screen quality and color accuracy were really impressive almost true to life. It also boasted contrast ratios of, well infinity. I know I know, infinity doesn’t sound like a ratio, but let me explain. I’ll try not to make it too technical.

The contrast ratio is basically the difference between the darkest dark and the brightest bright onscreen. Usually you’ll see numbers of 1,000:1, 5,000:1, or more recently1,000,000:1. The big number (5,000) is the measure of the brightest bright, and the 1 sets the base level of the darkest dark. If we think about it, changing the darkness by a little will have a much greater effect on the ratio than changing the brightness a little. The contrast ratio is used to demonstrate how dark a screen can be. A higher ratio means you’re approaching “true black” and not “true bright” where you’d need to put your welding goggles on.

Can we assume the simple process of comparing model A to model B will allow us to find the “darkest” TV? Negative lieutenant. Unfortunately, there is no standardized method for measuring contrast ratios. Company A might say they have a 2,000:1 ratio, but Company B’s TV actually looks darker even though it only claims a 1,500:1 ratio. Glad we got that straight. I hope you’ve learned enough now to know you now know nothing. Back to LEDs.

So Sony releases its OLED TV and it’s gorgeous. Everyone agrees OLED is the future of television. Think of OLEDs as tiny multicolored bulbs. Every HDTV is made up of pixels. Think of those pixels as tiny dots that are placed really close to each other. So OLEDs work by placing many tiny multicolored bulbs really close to each other and turning them on and off, which makes the black part of an OLED really black. It’s the total absence of light since the bulb is off. Now you understand why I said it has an “infinite” contrast ratio. There is no light at all!It’s awesome! The problem is all those tiny LEDs cost money and that explains why Sony’s eleven inch OLED television (seriously eleven Sony… who makes an eleven inch TV?) costs an astonishing $2500. We’ll have to wait a while to get our own OLED TV.

Meanwhile, LCD manufacturers are beginning to see the writing on the wall. They dominate the market now, but eight-tracks were once the staple of the musical empire too. Plasma canprobably compete in the future since it offers very good contrast ratios and is getting better all the time. The LCD guys on the other hand are forced to evolve the technology. LCDs work by using an array of lights that shine through the liquid crystals (the pixels, think like windows). Instead of using the traditional fluorescent bulbs (similar to the ones you’ll find in office buildings), they installed LEDs as the “backlighting” source. In order to keep costs down, they don’t backlight each pixel with one LED (you might as well have an LED tv then) they divide the screen up into zones and backlight hundreds and thousands of pixels with a single LED. This attempts to provide the benefits of LED TVs (total darkness when off even if not as precisely and minutely as a real LED TV) while lowering the price tag.

So why do I share all of this with you? I look at plasma technology and I’m frustrated. It is the better technology currently (and has been for a while), but LCD continues to outsell it significantly. It violates my adolescent sense of justice and fairness. Here now is my petition.

Do not be fooled by this new propaganda that promotes LED as the next greatest thing in television technology. Plasma television is still, in most cases, the preferred choice when purchasing a television larger than 40 inches. Why? Plasma used to hold an edge to LCDs just based upon picture quality, but LCD makers have been band aiding its shortcoming with new LED backlighting, faster refresh rates, and 120Hz processing to eliminate motion blur. It is now left to simple economics. When comparing the price for televisions over 40 inches, plasma’s are still less expensive. It’s that simple.

I don’t claim to be an expert. I’d love to get my hands on these products, but all this information is just from hours of investigation online motivated by my own curiosity. If you’ve heard differently than this, I would tell you not to believe everything you read… unless I wrote it.

So Happy Together

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A friend recently asked me what games would be good for him and his girlfriend to play together. Below is a list I compiled in response:

  • Animal Crossing: City Folk – Imagine the depressed creatures from the “Where the Wild Things Are” movie, hopped up on happy pills, and enslaved to a mob boss named Tom Nook. Good times abound as you work to pay off your mortgage, plant trees, and interact with animals far too dependent on your existence. The best part of all, teaching the animals new slang words!
  • Trauma Center: New Blood – Make incisions, perform surgeries with the aid of the “Healing Touch”, and wade through all the drama that exists within a hospital. Trauma Center allows you to play co-op surgeries with your friends and family. Sudden game difficulty spikes put a damper on things but do not let that get you down.
  • World of Goo – Tucked away on WiiWare, World of Goo is a puzzle game that forces players to use their resources wisely while building goo-structures to win.
  • Other Mentions – Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, Mario Kart Wii, Excite Truck, Wii Sports Resort, New Super Mario Brothers Wii.

Games that allow the second player to assist –

  • Super Mario Galaxy – One of the main reasons I bought a Wii, Super Mario Galaxy allows the second player to help collect items as well as stop enemies. My wife and I beat this game together.
  • Zack & Wiki – While I have no first hand experience with this game, I have heard that it is well worth looking past the crazy cover art.

Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments!

Dungeon Found

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Though I had read much about the new Dungeon Finder feature in World of Warcraft, I had yet to stumble upon it until this past week. (I would like to note that I did so completely by accident.) Randomly pressing the letter “i” on the keyboard, the Dungeon Finder window suddenly appeared.

Immediately I was presented with a few choices:

  • What role did I want to play (tank, healer, etc.)?
  • Did I want to run a specific dungeon or a random dungeon?

After making my choices, I pressed “Find Group”, which put me into the cross-server que. Within moments I was asked if I wanted to join a dungeon, I selected yes. My very first Pickup Group (PUG) consisted of me tanking with my level 53 druid Arclight. The other players were made up of priests, rouges, and mages. Our group proceeded through the dungeon and was doing quite well until the last boss. Right before we entered the final boss encounter, a bad pull eliminated all but one person in the party. In anger or frustration — I imagine — everyone in our party quit. This left me and the remaining player to finish the dungeon. 5 minutes later we completed the dungeon and reaped our rewards. A very satisfying night.

My thoughts so far:

Pro’s-

  • Instant access to a dungeon party.
  • Easy experience (XP) earned.
  • Feels like you’ve accomplished something within an hour.
  • Instance Teleporting.

Con’s –

  • Your playing with random strangers.
  • Party members dropping out for no reason (not dedicated).
  • Dungeons seem to take about an hour to clear (45 minutes at minimum). Dedicated time is needed.

Overall I have enjoyed the two instances I have run using the Dungeon Finder. More to come soon.

Links

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The move to WordPress in 2009 brought with it immeasurable relief from both a design and writing perspective. Being able to singularly focus on content, while good,  also caused me to neglect the community aspects of the site. So, one of the ways I would like to remedy this is by working on the blog roll or JBG’s links section.  If you have a blog or website that fits under our banner of God, Life, and Gaming, please submit a link in the comments below. Looking forward to getting to know ya’ll better,

– Bryan

State of JBG – 2010

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JohnnyBGamer.com caught the waves of the net in August of 2003. What had started as a simple idea on paper soon became a reality as my good friend Scotto plunged into designing the site. The crowning achievement during this process, was the amazing work that Scotto did on the JBG logo —  I still owe you! –. He took a sketch of mine and created a look and feel that the site has maintained to this day.

The primary goal of JohnnyBGamer has always been to provide professional content focused on the world of videogames.  With many articles and a few reviews out there, I would say that that goal has been reached. However, so much is left to be written.

2009 was a year of big changes for JBG. Consumed with html and basic site design, I found myself neglecting actually putting content up on the site. So, I decided to move JBG to WordPress. One of the best decisions I have ever made. Content has flowed freely since the big move. 2009 ended with record visits to the site. Finally, I have felt like JBG has been gaining traction.

So what does 2010 hold for JohnnyBGamer?

Koinonia (Community)

2010 is the year that I want JBG to reach out and embrace the online gaming community. How do we do this?

  • Increased presence/ participation on blogs, online forums, and other gaming websites.

JohnnyBGamer exists to provide an equal ground for sharing thoughts, ideas, and even life’s burdens. It is my hope that you will join JBG, in the year 2010, as we move forward together.

– Bryan

Hacked!

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The nightmare of waking up to find that all your virtual loot has been stolen is one scenario that I have yet to experience — note that I am not asking for this. I cannot imagine the feeling of characters/ items being ripped off; online possessions that cost a great deal of time to obtain suddenly gone. Account hacking via keyloggers and other nefarious schemes are seemingly quite common in World of Warcraft. We at JohnnyBGamer are all about empowering the people. So here are a few common sense ways to protect yourself:

  • Create a separate e-mail account for your World of Warcraft account. Never share this e-mail address nor associated password with anyone.
  • Make sure your browser/ PC is updated regularly (auto updates are good).
  • Empower your Internet browser to fight back by enabling security features.
  • Purchase an official Blizzard Authenticator at the Blizzard Store.
  • Download the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator (link will open iTunes) for your iPhone/ iPod Touch (free).

every day the same dream

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Every day you wake up, get dressed, eat, and then proceed out the door — if your like me — to your place of work. Every day the same dream is an indie game created by Paolo Pedercini. The short game follows a nameless white collared worker as he trudges through a monochrome world.

The above image is one of the few glimpses of color found in the game; sparse moments of warmth amongst an otherwise cold world. I wonder how many of us experience these moments of awe in an otherwise mundane work week. Funny how comfort is found in the mundane, in the daily schedule each of us lives. May 2010 be a year of awe.

(every day the same dream was noted in a blog post by Sam Kennedy @ 1Up, thus inspiring this post.)

Confessions of an MMO Tourist

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My vacation into the virtual lands of MMO’s began with Asheron’s Call in 1999. Playing with friends in a persistent world had a certain novelty to it. Granted, the release of Diablo II the following year quickly put my stay in Dereth on hold. Not one to limit myself to one game, I “toured” multiple MMO’s up until World of Warcraft’s (WoW) launch in 2004. Multiple MMO’s huh? Take a look at this virtual itinerary:

  • Ultima Online (1 month)
  • Everquest (1 month)
  • Final Fantasy XI (1 month)
  • The Sims Online Beta (a few days)
  • Asheron’s Call 2 (a few months)

The release of Asheron’s Call 2, in 2002, marked the first time I had set up a base camp in an MMO since the original Asheron’s Call in 1999. My stay in AC 2 did not last long, however, the group of friends that I was playing with ended up quitting the game. For the first time in years, I was no longer traversing the virtual landscapes. A whole year would go by before I would once again venture forth.

  • Saga of Ryzom Beta
  • World of Warcraft

In 2004, the perfect storm came together in the form of the Warcraft universe becoming an MMO.

Blizzard + Warcraft + MMO = WIN!

Blizzard games have been a staple of my PC gaming diet for years. Warcraft II, Starcraft, Diablo, and Diablo II were go-to games for me and my friends.

Sidenote: How many of you remember playing the original Diablo with a modem? I remember many late nights, on my Macintosh, spent listening to the pinging/ ponging modem language as I hooked up to battle.net. Good times. Haunting music. No option to run!

World of Warcraft came out the year that I went away to college. The game quickly became a way to communicate/ game with friends three states away. WoW had a darkside, however, one that almost cost me my love in the summer of 2005.

Guild Wars launched the following year (2005). Though technically not an MMO, Guild Wars provided a few alternative to WoW. Unfortunately, the beta period for this game all but killed the game for me (there are only so many times you can create a character, level, and then have it deleted). So I went back to WoW until things came to a head with my real life. Decisions had to be made.

Girlfriend or WoW?

Girlfriend of course! She won.

Girlfriend now wife.

I have played many MMO’s since WoW.

  • Dungeon Runners.
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Warhammer Online
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online

So many hours poured into games I never plan on returning to again. Reminds me of books left half read, tossed under a bed. In the end, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the different worlds that I have explored. Each has offered a different experience that the game previous could not provide.

2009 marked the year I returned to Azeroth with my wife’s blessing. In playing, I have found that World of Warcraft does not have the same pull it once did. So I left the game once more to try:

  • Maple Story
  • Guild Wars (again!)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (again!)

As you can see, I am an MMO tourist with a passport full of stamps. If 2009 has been any indication as to my less than monogamous gaming habits, 2010 is sure to be a busy year.

(Used as a resource for this article http://biobreak.wordpress.com/mmo-timeline/)

(1/26/16 Update: Reader Kevin Woodberry emailed me and asked that I link to his guide as a further resource. Check it out: Guide to Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games.)