Welcome to Kingsmouth

Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Featured, The Secret World | 0 comments

Welcome to Kingsmouth, Solomon Island.
Where SUMMER RECREATION is written in all capital letters. Come and join me for a quick tour through town.
Welcome Sign, Kingsmouth, The Secret World


Lets go down to the harbor, busy for fishermen and tourists alike.

Kingsmouth Harbor, Solomon Island, The Secret World


Learn of our local mining history at the museum.
Kingsmouth Mining Museum, The Secret World


Lets stop for a meal or for a quick coffee at Susie’s Diner.
Susie's Diner, Kingsmouth, Harbor, The Secret World


Visit the historical residence of the Priest family.

Historical Priest Home, Kingsmouth, The Secret World


Main Street invites for arts & crafts shopping.

Main Street Shopping, Kingsmouth, The Secret World


Visit the local Sheriff’s station for advice how to deal with the zombie population.

Sheriff's Station, Kingsmouth, The Secret World
I had fun playing this weekend’s “The Secret World” open beta. I didn’t really follow the game until recently some fellow blogger mentioned it. Also, my Twitter feed was full of beta anticipation since at least Wednesday. Here are just a few impressions from playing the game for a few hours.

The game did surprise me with its looks, with great background music and a beautiful user interface. Strangely enough I was impressed by the splash screens, which start out black and white and slowly add color. A simple effect, easy to implement, but a nice impact for me.

It also helps that one of the first voice actors I meet in the game is Catherine Taber, well known as Vette from SWTOR. Which makes me wonder, how much value and recognition voice actors will add to MMO’s in the future. The first set of quests led me to Kingsmouth, on an island off the New England coast. As you can see in my picture tour, it’s wonderfully set, recreating the Eastern seaboard feeling.

The game mechanics promise to be interesting, since the game doesn’t have player levels, only skills. The consequences of this aren’t fully visible, since the beta players didn’t get to far into the game.  There are plenty of quests, classified as story line missions, action missions, investigation missions and some more. During the quests you will discover various puzzles, finding a path through a maze of lightning fields, finding hidden switches, etc, etc.

One other thing is worth mentioning. The area doesn’t seem crowded, despite the claim of 1 million beta signups. There wasn’t any server selection during character creation and there wasn’t any visible division of zones into multiple instances. I’ll see if I can find out more about it next beta.

Of course, this being beta, there were bugs, we’ll have to see how agile (there’s a pun somewhere) the development team is in fixing them. But in general I was surprised finding such a nice game. However, I am not really a fan of horror settings or events in the present. But this game might convince me.

© Disclaimer: The Secret World
"The Secret World" is a registered trademark of Funcom GmbH. All logos, images and names are intellectual properties of Funcom GmBH unless otherwise noted. This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with Funcom GmbH.

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Battlechicken’s Challenge

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Blog, Everquest, Everquest II, Fallen Earth, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Vanguard, World of Warcraft | 2 comments

As part of the Newbie Blogger Initative Battlechicken has challenged the bloggers to tell her Why We Do What We Do, preferably in pictures. Here’s a small collection of my characters, the result of 12 years playing MMOs, who is answering the question.

Feliz: I am a yodel bard Sambaugh: Watching your back
Dimo: I heard they had cheese and pimp hats Minsk: Barfights and barmaids! Plintenegger: I’ve got Death Touches
Plinkocommie: Goblins of Azeroth unite! Dimkski: The Lich King is dead
Shamble: Looking into a radiant future Dime: There’s a vision, always was, always will Shambles: I am your father, Feliz


© Disclaimer: Everquest
© Disclaimer: Everquest II
© Disclaimer: Fallen Earth
© Disclaimer: Star Wars: The Old Republic
This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with LucasArts, BioWare, or Electronic Arts.
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
Game content and materials copyright LICENSOR. All Rights Reserved.

© Disclaimer: Vanguard
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A Colossal Cave Adventure

Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Blog | 7 comments

This article is going to date me, but looking at some sites on my blog roll, I am sure, I am not alone.

Way back, as a Computer Science student I spent a lot of time in the computer terminal room. Much more time than my fellow students, but about the same time as my friend who was living on the same dorm floor as I. Aside from our assignments we did a lot of research, aka snooping around. Of course we found something, a FORTRAN program called Adventure.

Trouble was, we couldn’t just run it in the terminal room. Those 20 terminals were lined up along the 4 walls without any dividers. Everybody could see what the others were doing. The terminals were shared between 1000 students with varying needs of access. As long as it looked like serious work, we were fine. To play, we either had to wait until the room was empty (fat chance) or visit the smaller terminal room at the local university at night or drive all the way to the Heidelberg data center.

All this was running on the IBM/370 mainframe computer of the University of Heidelberg, who gave terminal access to  our college. This was not the internet, the terminals were just that, some monitor and a keyboard. Cables were running into a box twice the size of today’s computer tower. It ultimately connected us to the mainframe some 20 miles away at mind blowing speeds. Did I mention, the terminals where 80×24 characters, green or amber on black? RAM at the mainframe had just been upgraded to a whooping 4 Mbyte, and each interactive session had 4 minutes of CPU time assigned, which was just enough for 3-4 hours of play.

This is what we finally saw on our terminals. It’s one of the very first text adventure games ever. It lets you explore a colossal cave, with huge halls, labyrinths and get occasionally annoyed by a wandering dwarf who throws an axe at you. And don’t forget the bridge troll. You can still play it on the internet here.

This kept us busy for a semester or two, until we started working on a side project for a company which gave us a loaner micro computer. There weren’t any IBM PCs around it could have been compatible to. It was an Ontel Op-1. It had a 5 1/2″ diskette drive and a BASIC interpreter. One of the first things my friend and I did was to port the FORTRAN program into BASIC and let it use the diskette to store the text, otherwise it would have been to big for the 55 kByte left useable by the interpreter.

And what did I get out of all this aside from entertainment? Education. I got plenty of my professional skills just by dealing with this,  by today’s standards, simple program. I never went into the games industry, which at that point in time not  even existed and only a couple of years later started to grow in the US. But it gave me experience in dealing with software projects, something I could actually mention in interviews as a college graduate.

It wasn’t the first computer game I encountered. The first one was a moon landing program on my TI-57 programmable calculator. The second one was a small chess computer, which moved a tower from the sidelines back onto the field when it got into trouble. It’s been a long way from a 10 digit LED display, an 80×24 terminal to todays 1920×1080 pixel standard and 3D models. Going from text based, to Pac-Man, to Pools of Radiance, to Baldur’s Gate, to Everquest, WOW and Guildwars 2. It’s been a long trip.

A shoutout goes to the “/con mmob blog” and this article about MUDs for the insporation for this article.

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Getting RSS From News Sites Without a Feed

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Blog, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 0 comments

When I started out collecting feeds for Google Reader I noticed quickly, that there are webpages of MMORPG’s without a usable RSS feed. It seems that with the availability of Facebook and Twitter a few companies have decided they don’t need to provide RSS feeds anymore. But there is help in the form of feed43.com. They allow you to create your own feed for any news page you want. You have to define the search rules yourself, but once it’s done you can subscribe to the result in Google Reader.  It’s only updated every six hours, but it beats going to that webpage all the time. And the real beauty  is, you can share the feed.

And that’s what I am going to do. So far I have only two and I am working on a third:

For instance Dev-Tracker pages are often without RSS feeds, since the forum software doesn’t really support it. Should you know of any MMORPG websites without a RSS feed, feel free to ask for it in the comment section, I’ll see what I can do. I’ll keep this list up to date as it grows.



© Disclaimer: Star Wars: The Old Republic
This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with LucasArts, BioWare, or Electronic Arts.
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
Game content and materials copyright LICENSOR. All Rights Reserved.

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Friday is Link Love Day

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

It is a frequent occurrence, that our fellow bloggers publish a weekly wrap up about things that happened the past week, things they have read or stuff that’s still on some notepad and never grew into a blog post. Here’s my first one.

What happened last week?

  • Syp’s of Bio Break started the Newbie Blogger Initiative with great success. Right now 75 sponsor blogs and 60 newbie blogs are part of it. I played it safe and signed up on both sides 🙂
  • I got my Adsense back, without any explanation from Google and a “reboot or power cycle” kind of response to my trouble ticket.
  • Elder Scrolls Online got announced. Lots of things written about it throughout the blogosphere.My only concern: If they can’t provide a PC style interface and insist on console type controls, I won’t look no further. Channeling Roger Murtaugh. “I am to old for this sh*t”
  • My wife got Beta access to Mists of Pandaria. I’ll have a peek or two.

Things I read elsewhere

What’s left on my notepad?

  • Make a To Do list. ✔
  • Check off the first thing on the To Do list. ✔
  • Realize you have completed two  three things. ✔
  • Reward yourself (in progress)

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Keeping up with the Industry and the Bloggers

Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

When I started this site I had some dreams of it becoming the great resource for game news and guides. But I quickly realized that this is not a job for one person alone, since there’s only so much time in a day to read news and to write articles. So I had to quickly repurpose the website and turn it into the blog you see right now. Goal: to talk about everything MMO related. Which still requires a lot of information management.

In order to stay ahead of the subject, I have to look at my information sources:

  • My own gaming experience
  • News from the gaming companies
  • News from aggregator sites
  • Information from other blogs
  • Random tidbits from everywhere

What media is being used to get the information to me?

  • Playing online games (ain’t life great)
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS feeds
  • News sections of the game companies and aggregator sites
  • News and announcement forum
  • other sections of gaming related forums

How can I handle it? How do I tame the beast? The most important tool for me is Google Reader. I am subscribed to about 150 RSS feeds, most of them blogs. The reader allows me to arrange them in folders and highlights those with unread items and tells me how many there are. Which quickly allows me to jump to the right place.

My reader is divided into a couple of sections:

  • Covered Games: Those are the ‘official’ RSS feeds of the game publishers of games I play or have written about
  • Upcoming and Other Games: that’s my interest list, again, official feeds only
  • News and Aggregators: Here I’ve sites like ZAM, Massively, MMORPG.com etc. Most of it remains unread, due to volume
  • Blog Feeds. If you don’t have an RSS feed, I won’t find your articles. I will visit your site to comment, or just to see what else is going on there.

A couple of gaming companies don’t provide an RSS feed anymore, or don’t maintain it very well. It’s nearly impossible to jump from one game’s site to the next one and read the news on every single page. To manage this I am using FEED43. With this site I can transform any news site or any web forum into an RSS feed. However, it requires a good deal of configuration and knowledge of regular expressions and HTML helps a lot. I’ve done this for the SWTOR Dev Tracker. Copy the link and import it into your RSS reader. Being a free service, it’s only updated every 6 hours, but that’s still way better than having to check it daily

Belghast at the Aggronaut has just published an article, the Google Reader Blogroll, showing how to turn his reader configuration into a blogroll. I like his timing 🙂

Onto Twitter. Most of you know Twitter as a constant stream, scrolling across your monitor. I am pretty sure every Twitter user has missed at least one important tweet in the stream. It either scrolled off the screen and you didn’t notice, it was part of a tweet zerg rush or it came in overnight. I missed the GW2 beta weekend announcement that way. I’ve found a tool that allows me to sort the tweets by sender and gives me a count of unread messages, more or less like Google Reader. Check out tdash. I also like tweetdeck.com and hootsuite.com, which are pretty good in tracking searches and hashtags.tdash twitter reader

Finally, there’s facebook. Many gaming companies have a facebook presence and have news coming in this way. But most of the time, it’s duplicated on Twitter or in the RSS feed. I don’t check facebook often for gaming related news. But I am signed up to a number of their pages and have organized them in a list in order to filter them.

I am trolling the game forums from time to time, but usually only the ones of my current game, anything else is information overload. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to play the games nor able to write about them.

What’s missing? The inside scoop. I have no established channels through which I could learn that some new game is going to be released, another one being shut down, or that the subscriber number of a third game just crossed 2 mio players. I’ll probably miss that kind of information for quite a while, until some of my fellow bloggers pick something up. I fear that kind of information would again require major time investment and constant digging for it, building up contacts and then (ab)use them. I don’t know if I ever want to do that.

There’s one more thing, I still have to see if reddit or other, newer sites can help me much with my information management. I will have to put some more research time into that. However, I feel that the way I am doing it right now is satisfactory for the purpose.


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