Saturday, July 28, 2007

All Pro Football 2k8 thoughts

I should first start by saying that I haven't had this much fun with a football game in many years. The game is incredibly fun to play, controls like a dream, and plays great online. Of course, nothing can be perfect and in the world of video games that axiom is often painfully made all the more real. I suppose if someone made the perfect game, we would never stop playing it, but I doubt that is going to happen. Here are the pros and cons as I see them:


  • Incredible animation. Things like the QB stumbling in the rain after the snap to gang tackling and punters slipping in the snow just scratch the surface of a robust animation system.
  • Excellent AI. The computer plays you smart and tough in this game. Games against the AI are satisfying and fun.
  • Fun running game with Legend backs performing as their real life counterparts. I absolutely got murdered by O. J. Simpson. (Seriously though, he killed me).
  • Stunning detail in the stadiums and a huge variety of uniform customization.
  • Silky smooth online play. I'm 2 - 0 so far... Look for Flying Norseman if you want to play.
  • Announcers are good and not too intrusive.
  • Sliders actually seem to do something unlike other games I could mention.

  • The menu system is an absolute mess. This has been a problem with 2k sports for a while. They need to through out all their code and start from scratch in this area.
  • No Franchise mode. You can only play single seasons. I am not sure how they would have implemented this with the Legend players, but they could have used generics for franchise mode.
  • Not enough Legends. Sure you can create them, but the player editor isn't very robust and it is hard to get the likeness of legends you want to create. Players like Fran Tarkenton and Eric Dickerson and many others are glaringly absent.
  • Computer AI in the last minutes is shaky at best.
  • Punts against the AI can almost never be returned.
I am holding out hope that the 7 testicled monster that is EA Sports won't come crashing down and not allow 2k sports to have another go at football. EAs exclusivity with the NFL is running out soon and 2k Sports have proved that they can make a great football game so hopefully the PTB at the NFL are paying attention and don't fuck things up like they did the last time and award exclusivity. In the meantime, there is a lot for me to enjoy in this game and I will playing it for many months in the future.

Friday, July 27, 2007

MMOs Dangerous?

This link was sent to me from a friend. All I can say, is ummm "Wow." Clicky.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

So what should MMOs do differently?

Ok so now that I quit MMOs and made my public confession, here are some thoughts on what I think could be done differently. Other than letting your kitty level your characters.

First of all, I think the whole reward system is backwards. New abilities and spells come fast and furious in the first twenty levels or so and then tail off gradually to almost nothing in the later levels. Not only that, it takes longer to level the higher you go so you end up working harder for less rewards. Imagine playing D&D and being a mage in this system. By fifth level, you have all the nice juicy spells already. What is the point of leveling higher? I think they should put more rewards towards the back end of the leveling curve in order to give people more to look forward too.

The next piece that needs work is the quest system. Kill tasks suck, plain and simple. This is a quest? Maybe MMO developers should look up the definition of the word quest. What makes these types of quests worse is when not only do you have to kill a certain creature, but you also have to collect its spleen. Worse than that, not all of these creatures seem to have a spleen for some reason. Quests need a lot of work. I realize there are hundreds if not thousands of them in MMOs but, maybe they could go for quality over quantity? I think instancing can help the situation and ironically LOTRO does some nice work in this area, just not enough. I have also heard some good things about few upcoming MMOs in regards to kill tasks.

I am from the camp of people who think that your character should be able to change the world he is living in and leave his mark on it. I guess I might be in the minority here since WoW has over 9 Millions subscribers now and you most definitely can't change anything in it. I would like to see an MMO where the world changes due to the acts of the players. Cities would rise and fall and areas would be cleared out for settlement while new areas for quests emerge. This sort of thing is compelling to me. Nothing is more non immersive to me than seeing the major boss guy I just killed still running around the next time I pass through that area.

These are just a few of the things I would like to see change and maybe I am asking for too much, but I really think it could be done. Unfortunately, it is not the model of success that a game like WOW is today, but there may be hope for the future. In the meantime, hopefully companies will make more single player RPGs where this sort of stuff is more easily doable. There is a little company called Bioware who are in the middle of production of an MMO yet to be named. If anyone can do it, they can. We shall have to wait and see. In the meantime I am gonna catch up on all the Zelda's and other such games I missed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back from Detox!

Glory days are here! I am back from detox. Let me explain lest ye think ill of me. No, I am not a recovering alcoholic or drug user. My addiction could be considered even more insidious. You see, I am an ex MMO player. It feels good to finally be able to say that. The "ex" part, I mean. It has now been 55 days since I played my last MMO.

Surprisingly, my MMO addiction ended while playing one of the most beloved IPs and one of my life's major influences. That being, The Lord of the Rings Online. One would have thought that the marriage of these two entities (the MMO and LOTR) would have snared me for good and I would be hopelessly lost. I have Turbine themselves to thank for my salvation. The fact that they applied the tried and true MMO stamp to the world of Middle Earth was a major factor in allowing me to see just how futile the whole MMO genre is and gave me the impetus to be able to quit.

Let me explain. I started playing MMOs back in the heady days when everyone was still naive enough to think that these types of games would allow people to create characters and in effect live in an alternate world which was shaped and influenced by the players. Back in the days of UO just before Lord British's murder, which I witnessed (if you are an MMO junkie you know what I am talking about). I had grand ideas for this new type of game. I mean who wouldn't like the idea of becoming a character in a fantasy world and living an alternate life in a way that was fun and satisfying? Well, UO lead to EQ which lead to DAOC which lead to WOW with stops between in all the other exotic and lesser known MMOs. Never once in any of these games did the gameplay live up to the expectations and promises made by publishers when hyping their games. I started to blame my growing dissatisfaction on the setting. I kept telling myself that I was becoming frustrated because I didn't really care for the world the game was set in. I should have known better when I quit DAOC because I can't think of a setting I like more than medieval England. I went to WOW mostly because everyone else was and it was sort of the thing to do. Leaving WOW was pretty easy, since once I reached 60 with my Rogue, I couldn't buy my way into a group. Even still, I had brief flirtations with other classes in WOW, but it was just too damn hard to redo all the same content.

Along comes Turbine and LORTO. At this point in my MMO career, I had become extremely tired of what now had become standard MMO gameplay. Boring quests centered around collecting obscure parts of wandering animals or monsters and reporting back to claim a small prize. But, this was LOTR though and I was now going to have a chance to play a character in my most favorite of all fantasy worlds. Turbine managed to capture almost none of the flavor and excitement that drew me to Middle Earth in my many years of reading the novels. Not only that, they followed Blizzard's example and used the most tried and true MMO mechanics to build the game around. I slogged away through the first few levels settling on a Guardian for a character and set about doing what one does in MMOs. One pays dues by mindlessly killing the same creatures over and over again so they can be rewarded by seeing a new area with the same tasks to accomplish again. After reaching level 24 with 3 characters and hitting a wall each time, I realized that it didn't matter what world a game was set in. The MMO had evolved into a style of play that I had no interest in anymore. I slogged through eight or nine years of these games hoping to find one that came close to satisfying my initial expectations for the genre. It all ended in the world that started my interest in fantasy and role playing in the first place. Thanks to unimaginative developers and perhaps expectations that were too high. During my long addiction, I missed a slew of games for consoles and the PC that I am now happily enjoying, so don't feel bad for me. Rejoice that I have escaped the mindless brain numbing grind that is the MMO.