Archive for December, 2008

Dungeon Runners Impressions

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Ever since I first heard about Dungeon Runners I was intrigued, it’s a free to download, and free to play MMORPG that doesn’t quite take itself seriously. I was a little apprehensive at first, though, because 9 Dragons was also free to download and free to play, but was a complete train wreck.

I also had kind of forgotten all about it for a long time until I went to Best Buy one day and saw that they had a retail box of the game for sale. A box that showed one of the characters running around wielding a giant pizza cutter for a weapon. But I still didn’t get it because I was real busy at the time… probably something Internet related, I kind of forget. But I passed on it, and didn’t really give it a thought for a while until I went to a different Best Buy and saw that the game was $10, and it included six months’ worth of the premium content (which I’ll get into in a minute). And that’s when I decided to take the plunge.

Also, my free month of LOTRO ends tomorrow.

The game is kind of like a silly cross between World of Warcraft and Diablo II. Except for towns, everything is instanced, and you take your character and run around the various dungeons killing swarms of monsters. Monsters that drop phat lewt (like the Sweet Acid-Wash Boots of the Hardy Unicorn that my character currently has equipped). Probably the strangest item I’ve gotten so far is a gun that shoots fowl as ammo.

Quests are pretty standard stuff, go somewhere and deliver something to someone, go in the dungeon and kill X amount of Y, collect Z trinkets, etc. So there’s nothing too crazy there, and there’s been a little bit of a story to link them together, but nothing terribly complicated.

There are three classes to choose from, Warrior, Mage, and Ranger. But it doesn’t really matter what class you pick because as soon as you leave the n00b area (and they call it the n00b area in the game, there’s a lot of fourth-wall-breaking stuff in there) you can visit the class trainers and learn skills from whatever class you want. The class just determines what class bonuses you get.

Now, as a member (which costs a cool $5/month once the trial is up) gets you certain benefits. You can stack potions in your inventory (very handy), you can equip stuff that’s higher quality than Green (the progression goes: grey, green, blue, yellow, purple, and rainbow), no ads, extra bank space, and (probably my personal favorite) access to a Members Only Server. Most of the Free Players will be playing on the Free Server (duh), so it has the highest population (even though the highest I’ve seen the population climb was about 225), but it also has the highest population of people spamming the server with , “I TRAIN 4 YOU. REEZNIBLE R8S.” (which I only saw two people doing) But on the Members Only Server there haven’t been any in the times I’ve been on, which is super-nice. Of course, you can’t trade gold anyway, so that is probably also part of it.

Also, if you buy a boxed copy, you get access to a ‘Bling Gnome’. These things will follow you around and pick up any gold that the enemies drop so you don’t have to worry about it, and they can also pick up and Blue or lower items on the ground, eat them, and then crap out some gold, saving you a trip to town to empty out your inventory, which was always a tedious part of these kinds of games.

So far I like it. But I’ve read on a couple of forums where folks complain that they also liked it a lot at first, but that they got burned out on really quickly, so we’ll see.

‘Liveblogging’ Spike TV’s 2008 Video Game Awards

Monday, December 15th, 2008

They sucked pretty bad last year, but I’m going to suffer through the annual trainwreck that they put on. Mostly because it’s the closest thing to mainstream coverage my favorite industry gets.

Watch this space to be updated periodically as the awards take place.

7:57 PM CST: Just finished reading last years’ notes. It doesn’t fill me with confidence.

8:00 PM CST: Jack Black is funnier than Samuel L Jackson, right?

8:01 PM CST: A pseudo-sex scene… waiting for the inevitable Wii gag.

8:02 PM CST: Right on cue.

8:03 PM CST: I guess I was aware that diapers were made in that size, I just chose to not consciously think about it.

8:04 PM CST: OMG, games provide stories just like books? You can play games by exercising, and not all gamers are closeted xenophobic hermits? Shocking! Though I guess some mainstream folks might know that.

8:06 PM CST: I’m sure that shooting sparks out of the genital area means something symbolic, and that it’s just over my head.

8:08 PM CST: Hot model tells us that she’s hot. Good thing she’s humble, too.

8:09 PM CST: Gears Maps will be ‘Available tonight… Pacific time’ I’m not sure that’s even English. Ah well, at least the maps look OK.

8:10 PM CST: LL Cool J?! Seriously? I thought he was retired, or dead.

8:15 PM CST: Back from an impossibly long commercial break to watch some Cool J… Might be time to refill my refreshments.

8:17 PM CST: We didn’t even get the full song? Lame. Oh, but we get to see some UFC game footage… probably because UFC airs on Spike TV.

8:18 PM CST: Just realized that the audience is sitting on couches… probably because people play games on couches. Clever.

8:19 PM CST: Twenty minutes in to get to the first award on an awards show… could be worse, I guess. Best shooter goes to… Gears of War 2, which apparently also won Best Xbox 360 game.

8:21 PM CST: Is it just me or do the silver-clad women with the harpy wings just look completely out of place and kind of horrifying?

8:22 PM CST: God of War 3 footage, not a whole lot of footage, actually.

8:25 PM CST: We’re 25% done with the show, have given out two awards, and the host hasn’t been seen since 8:06. Who’s in charge of scheduling this thing?

8:28 PM CST: Jack Black antic-ing… And then introducing Peter Moore with some world exclusive Fight Night footage… and Mike Tyson?! Dear Lord, who’s next, Duran Duran?

8:30 PM CST: The Fight Night footage was so-so, just some pre-rendered footage. Neil Patrick Harris is out to give out the best ‘Independent Game Fueled by Dew’


8:34 PM CST: Pregnant pause because Neil did not come prepared with the card with the winner printed on it… fantastic. Turns out World of Goo wins.

8:35 PM CST: Commercial time again, but this time with an Afro Samurai commercial. Guess I won’t be able to go the whole evening without hearing his sweet, sexy voice… er, I mean gravelly, displeasing voice.

8:38 PM CST: The VGA page says that there are 25 categories, and we’ve done three in 35 minutes. Thinking some of them are going to either get cut or combined together again.

8:39 PM CST: Didn’t her this pretty lady’s ‘silly last name’, but she’s here to introduce some voiceover work.

8:40 PM CST: Keifer Sutherland won, but we didn’t get to hear who the other nominees were. Screw you, Liam Neeson!

8:42 PM CST: I guess I’m showing how out of touch with popular culture I am, but I have no Earthly idea who the All American Rejects are. Do they wear the ill-fitting, stylishly bankrupt, and mismatched thrift store dregs ironically? Or is that just the band’s ‘thing’?

8:45 PM CST: All I can think of is how I saw the lead singer’s back fat lapping over the back of his too-tight women’s pants.

8:46 PM CST: More commercials. It’s about time, I was getting tired of watching actual show.

8:51 PM CST: Konami Code is in the graphics on the back of the screen, clever.

8:52 PM CST: Kim Khardashian (don’t care if I spelled that wrong) “Dante’s Inferno is a game… based on a book… *giggle*…” I really want to thwack her with a Cluebat.

8:53 PM CST: The game doesn’t actually look like the book did in my mind’s eye.

8:53 PM CST: Tony Hawk is here to introduce Will Wright, I can see the connection.

8:54 PM CST: I think this is the first time I’ve actually heard Will speak.

8:56 PM CST: I must be the only person that finds Geoff Keighley annoying.

8:57 PM CST: People give me a hard time because I haven’t played any of the GTA games, and to those people I say, “Go lick a running meat slicer, I don’t have to play it.”

8:58 PM CST: More commercials. And the host hasn’t been seen in over 30 minutes. He’s doing a fine job.

9:02 PM CST: Aah, the Burger King commercial was a sly allusion to their sponsorship.

9:03 PM CST: Oops, they let an unbleeped ‘shit’ through. I guess arguing with Jerry Stiller will do that to you.

9:05 PM CST: Our gracious host allows us another award to be given. Best RPG? Guarantee the lone DS title isn’t going to be in the running. Pretty sure it was thrown in there so that the whole show wasn’t going to be the Xbox 360/PS3/PC song and dance.

9:06 PM CST: Fallout 3, no big surprise there.

9:07 PM CST: Busta Rhymes. Fan. Tas. Tic.

9:08 PM CST: Mr. Rhymes is a poor public speaker, has trouble pronouncing the word ‘engine’. Also he mangled the name of the game so bad, I don’t know what the preview is for.

9:09 PM CST: Uncharted 2, and that’s about all I know. It look OK, I guess. More footage from ‘Gamer’s Heaven’ that’s just a bunch of old-school games being played backstage by celebrities… woo? And more commercials. I guess it has been almost ten minutes since I’ve been reminded how extreme Mountain Dew is or how long-lasting and tasty Stride Gum is.

9:13 PM CST: The show’s half over and less than 25% of the awards have been given out. Probably going to see the ‘awards not important enough to show us giving them away’ blip here in the next two or three segments.

9:15 PM CST: Terminator premiere footage.

9:17 PM CST: Mafia 2 premiere footage. I thought we just got done with watching commercials.

9:19 PM CST: Tony Hawk again? Did they run out of celebrities with nothing better to do?

9:20 PM CST: 50 Cent performing. I need to check the listings again, I thought I was watching an awards show, not the ‘Two-Hour Random Variety Show Crap Hour’.

9:21 PM CST: At least they’re showing footage from Mr. Cent’s game in the background to keep it tangentially related to gaming.

9:22 PM CST: More commercials, and then more ‘world premiere’ footage.

9:25 PM CST: Looking over the nominees for the awards we’re probably not going to see, I can’t help but notice that Super Smash Brothers Brawl didn’t even get a nomination for Best Multiplayer Game.

9:27 PM CST: About 25 seconds of Watchmen footage, I feel like i should probably care more about it than I do.

9:28 PM CST: Weezer is actually painful to watch, even when they’re not performing. They’re here to present the award for best music game.

9:28 PM CST: Wii music is the second game on a Nintendo platform that I’ve seen all night. Probably thrown in as a pity nominee. Rock Band 2 wins… Shocker.

9:32 PM CST: Kevin James used to be kind of funny, but this skit is just kind of sad.

9:33 PM CST: Studio of the Year nominees.

9:34 PM CST: Media Molecule wins, kind of surprising. They also won PS3 game of the year, way to consolidate the show, guys.

9:35 PM CST: Holy crap, all the awards that they didn’t bother showing.

Best Driving game: burnout paradise
Best Game based On A Movie: Lego Indiana Jones
Best Fighting Game: Soul Caliber 4
Best PC Game: Left 4 Dead
Best Multiplayer Game: Left 4 Dead
Best Handheld Game: Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Best Wii Game: Boom Blox
Best Individual Sports Game: Shaun White Snowboarding
Big Name in Gaming, Female: Jenny McCarthy
Best Performance by a Human Male: Michael Hollick as Nico Bellic
Best Performance by a human female: Debi Mae West as Meryl Silverberg
Best Graphics: Metal Gear Solid 4
Best Original Score: Metal Gear Solid 4

13 awards in about two minutes. Can’t clutter up the awards show by giving away awards onscreen, can we?

9:42 PM CST: Just saw a Little Big Planet right after Media Molecule won two awards for it. I thought that wasn’t going to happen this year?

9:44 PM CST: Our host has graced us with his presence to introduce Tim Schaefer.

9:47 PM CST: I can already tell that I won’t actually care about Brutal Legend, sorry.

9:48 PM CST: Game of the year time already? Did we miss some?

9:51 PM CST: Nope, GTA 4 wins, and takes Best Adventure Game. Good for them.

9:53 PM CST: All the awards are given out. Time for some skits and maybe some performances.

9:54 PM CST: I was almost going to be elated that I’d be able to go for one day without hearing a Weezer song.

9:54 PM CST: Yes, I’m aware that my television has a mute button.

9:59 PM CST: Credits rolling over Weezer, I guess we can call the show over.

Overall, I’d say that the tone of the show was a bit better this year, it was a whole lot less frat-party oriented and less amateurish, but the fact that they shoved more than half of the awards to the curb to make room for ‘entertainment’ is still kind of lame.

Also, Nintendo platforms get the short end of the stick again this year. Outside of Best Wii Game, we saw, what 3 nominations and one winner? Can’t shake the kiddie perception, I guess.

Given the progress the show has seen in this year’s presentation over last, I think there’s some promise here. But, seriously, the industry does not have a whole lot of folks that put on good interviews. That’s going to be a tough hurdle to overcome.