The MMO Tourist: Alganon

Standard

I do not know about you, but I am the type of person that enjoys going places without knowing too much about them. As long as the key components are worked out (transportation, lodging, money, etc.), I am good to go. Fortunately, video games, MMO’s specifically, offer a universe of travel opportunities minus the cost of consulting a travel agent or the hassle of updating a passport.

Now, I have explored many virtual worlds over the years (check out Confessions of an MMO Tourist). Each world/ game has its own unique personality (artwork/ design) and sense of quirks (game play, community, etc.). Today, I am about to set forth into the world of Alganon. A recent Massively.com article tipped me off on this free-to-play title. So, after creating an account (no credit card information necessary) and downloading the game client (3GB), I set forth on my newest virtual adventure.

The flight into Alganon began with a bit of turbulence (ie: loading the game was choppy and rough). Being a seasoned traveler, however, I knew that some turbulence was par for the course, so I tightened my seatbelt and held on. After some time, I finally arrived at a character creation screen. So I created a character, selected a family (crafter, explorer, socializer, etc.), and proceeded to start the game. Now I should note at this point that the turbulence (game performance) had not stopped. I was beginning to get sick! Never before have I seen a released MMO behave in such a rough way.

The game performance only grew worse as the in-game intro video kicked in. Thinking that the game issues were coming from my end, I quickly decided to change some video settings to see if it would help. Below you’ll find a screen capture of the result of my simple act:

After such a bumpy flight, I decided that it was time to get off the plane…I mean game. As a seasoned traveler, I know that there are far more polished experiences out there to be had. Why should I even try and suffer through the mess that is Alganon? The world of free-to-play and pay-to-play MMO’s is vast. Until next time, may your life be free of beta-like games.

Advertisements

Monster

Standard

In the beginning:

World of Warcraft (WoW) is a literal monster. I remember the day it first appeared to me, looking all innocent in its shrink wrapped box. Little did I know that what dwelled inside was a digital narcotic that would end up stealing 3 months of my life. Wait. I should clarify that. I let World of Warcraft become my drug of choice; I let WoW rule my life.

Wasted summer:

So there I was, home from college for the summer. My brain fried from finals and from having to drive from East Texas to Southern California. All I can say is that it was a long trip! All I wanted to do was sit back and relax for the summer. My parents, however, had other plans in mind for me. Everyday I was asked when I was going to start looking for a job. A job? I had just slaved myself to death over school and now they wanted me to get a job? I just couldn’t understand that–I do now that I have student loan payments–. So I set up my computer on the kitchen table, and I proceeded to play WoW day and night. That summer was long, filled with nagging, and looking back, a complete waste of my time. I had let a computer game become my escape from reality. World of Warcraft had become my monster.

Fight and flight:

Today (10/22/10) marks the beginning of BlizzCon 2010. The hype train is chugging away at full steam, and Cataclysm is rapidly incoming (December 7th). At this junction, I find myself a tad conflicted. The excitement of friends clamoring for Cataclysm makes me want to go back and check out the game. However, I know that much has changed in my life.

Since that wasted summer, I have gotten married, had a little boy, and overall (hopefully!) have grown up. I no longer feel that I have the time to seriously dedicate to World of Warcraft. Sure, I could log in and dabble around some, but I would be no closer to friends who are not at the same place in life as me. I think, at this particular junction, that WoW is just not for me anymore. I need a game where I do not feel guilt if I don’t play (due to paying $15 a month). I also need a game where I can quickly exit/ press a pause button and it won’t impact anyone (in-game). So I guess that this is goodbye WoW. Don’t bother coming around anymore. I don’t like hanging out with monsters.

A Pixar Afternoon

Standard

Ah yes, Friday afternoons. After a busy week, things are finally winding down in the office. What better time than to take some time and compile a list! A list you say? Aren’t those a bit cliche? Why yes they are good sir or madam. However, this will be no ordinary list. For the list we are to compile today chronicles one of the top animation studios on the planet. Dreamworks Animation? No. Walt Disney Feature Animation? Nope. The studio I am hinting towards is none other than Pixar Animation Studios. This list of personal favorites could be hard…onward ho!

1. Wall-E – Showcasing what I believe to be one of the finest depictions of love in a movie (and its silent!), Wall-E is an absolute masterpiece.

2. The Incredibles – This movie has a special place in my heart as it was the first movie that I ever took my wife (then girlfriend) to. The pacing, realistic depiction of family, and overarching rant against a society that insists that everyone is special makes this movie top notch in my book.

3. Ratatouille – This Brad Bird film never lets go of the accelerator and never allows itself to fall into normal movie cliches. And I thought the movie was going to linger on the paternity issue, bah!

4. Toy Story 2 – My favorite Toy Story movie. I should note though that I do think that Jessie’s sad song is a bit over-done.

5. Toy Story – Full of great quotes. I will never forget the look of shock on Buzz’s face when he discovers that he really can’t fly.

6. Toy Story 3 – A perfect end to an amazing series.

7. Cars- “Speed.” This movie never fails to make me smile. Although, the pacing can drift a bit into the slow lane at times.

8. UP* – UP takes the award for making me cry, hard. I enjoyed its bittersweet story of an old man who learns that he still has much to contribute despite his advanced age. This movie showcases the emotional depth Pixar can infuse into its stories.

9. Finding Nemo – I find this movie long and poorly paced. Sue me.

10. Monster’s Inc. – Clever. Perhaps too clever? Multiple viewings have killed this movie for me. Be happy I even mentioned it.

11. A Bug’s Life – Perhaps I need to watch this again (its been years), but I found this film boring.

Favorite Non-Pixar Movie: Meet the Robinson’s (woo hoo!)

*Note: UP is certainly in the same category of Wall-E in terms of quality, storytelling, and pure emotion. However, I do not find it to be a movie that I want to watch time and time again.

Fight The Distraction!

Standard

Sitting in Church on Sunday, before the service had begun, I curiously watched friends surf Facebook with reckless abandon. No doubt updating their peeps on their latest and greatest thoughts or browsing through pictures posted of some nameless persons trip to Zanzibar (where the Zanzibarbarians live, ask Gonzo). Over on Relevant.com, Shane Hipps has written an article exploring the narcissism that Facebook brings out in us.

It encourages not just self-absorption, but, more accurately, self-consumption. We become creators and consumers of our own brand.

While I agree with Shane on his observation, I also believe that Facebook isn’t the only distraction fighting for our very souls. Mobile technology, which makes texting, browsing Facebook, and surfing the web possible is killing the art of face-to-face communication.

How many of you have had conversations with friends in which the friend has sat there and texted/ talked to you at the same time? I would probably guess that this is becoming the norm. For myself, I find this behavior to be extremely rude. I have always made face-to-face communication a priority. I have even gone as far as turning off my phone so that I am able to solely focus on the person I am talking to. Now I have nothing against cell phones or texting, but I do have a beef with fellow conversationalists being distracted when I am trying to talk to them. People who text and talk at the same time practically scream that they do not care about the person they are talking to. Multitasking, which is what texting while talking is, is one of the great lies of our time. Therefore, I call on my friends, family, and readers (all 2 of you) to practice a little thing called manners. Fight the distraction!

MMO Euthanasia Poll

Standard

Euthanasia

Standard

There comes a point, in an MMO’s lifespan, where the decision must be made to pull the plug. To end the adventures of the remnant and move on towards newer horizons. This virtual form of euthanasia needs to be practiced before:

  • The dreaded “maintenance mode” begins (no updates)
  • Populations dwindle to the point to where these once thriving online worlds become ghost towns (a sad reminder of their former selves)
  • The game becomes a “chat room” for terrorists due to its low profile–hey, it could happen!–.

Unless new life can be breathed into MMO’s such as Warhammer Online ( or insert another game name here), a killing of utmost mercy is in order. For indeed, it is better to die young than waste away in your own pile of virtual filth.