• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2011 and beyond

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Well, the turkey is eaten, the wine is drunk, and the hangover is throbbing. Christmas is done for another year and it's time to look forwards to 2011. Accordingly here are a few of the things I'm looking forwards to next year, as well as the odd prediction...
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rift: Open or closed?

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With the dropping of the beta-test NDA for Rift: Planes of Telara I can tell you that I've spent some time in the beta test during the two closed beta events. Below you can find the feedback reports I sent in to Trion following my limited time in the beta, along with a summary of my thoughts about this upcoming MMO.

Rift is a new MMO that has been on my radar for a little while, and I know quite a few people that have been keeping an eye on it. It has been selling itself as a next-gen MMO, especially in the gloriously over hyped praise in their recent ad. So, does it live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

TWTYTW 2010

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Or, That Was The Year That Was 2010.

Well, 2010 is almost over. It's been an interesting year for me on the gaming front, having gone from my old MMO of choice (Lord of the Rings Online) back to EQ2, via of Age of Conan and a couple of beta tests. I also got back into single-player gaming for the first time in a few years and played through quite a few new games (Batman: Arkham Asylum, Mass Effect 2, Alpha Protocol, Dragon Age, Dirt 2, Assassins' Creed 2, Civ V) as well as a couple of old ones I hadn't had chance to play before (Knights of the Old Republic, Bioshock and Vampire: Bloodlines). That's quite a few games when I look back, considering I have a full time job and a full time family!

I thought I'd look back over the year with a few highlights across various media, as a way of recommendation to anyone who might be interested.
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Just because

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Just posting this because I came across it again and it's one of the best bad-guy speeches ever in a game. The first time I ever came across this in game still sticks in my mind...

Major, major spoilers ahead for those who have not played Mass Effect.

"You exist because we allow it and you will end because we demand it."


Oh, and I'm beta testing again... darn NDAs...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's coming!

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So, so, so excited about this! Mass Effect 3 has finally been confirmed with a fantastic teaser trailer (see below).

Regular readers will know the Mass Effect rpgs are my favourite single player games. I cannot wait to see how Shepard's story turns out in the final chapter. The Reapers have finally launched their attack and it's up to Shepard to gather his forces and stop them.

Anyway, Christmas 2011 looks like the time we will find out if Earth can be saved.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stories and Funnies

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Adurj has posted a couple of new chapters in the ongoing story of Merecraft and Udrath. They're great reads, so check them out using the links below or in the Roleplay Stories section of the blog.

1. Recruitment
2. The Unknown Truth

Right, on to something else. Those of you not resident in the UK may not realise that video games are currently the big bugbear in the British media right now.
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Home and Hearth

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I've been spending quite a bit of time recently playing with the EQ2 housing system. If you read Adurj's blog you'll know that he is a big fan of the system and spends many happy hours creating in-game decorations and items for his home and guild house. His latest creation was the sled you can see in the picture below, in readiness for the Frostfell celebrations. He built this from scratch using of all things a bed and other various items.

Frostfell!

I last played around with the housing years ago, during my first stint in the game, and things have changed massively since then. For a start, there are whole new housing areas and houses, each of which is an instanced place you can decorate, use as a base for selling items, and store your treasures in. There has been a massive increase in the number and type of housing items available from merchants, quests and festivals in game.
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Lambs to Lions

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A couple of pieces of news that may interest some of you.

First of all one of my favourite bands, Lamb have reformed after over 6 years. Lou and Andy have always had a bit of a fractious relationship, but it has given us some beautiful music over the years, so I'm really happy they have got back together and are working on a new album, 5, due for release next year.

Secondly, from Lamb to the Lions of Lannister. HBO have released a ten minute behind the scenes for A Game of Thrones, their adaptation of George RR Martin's book. It's looking good, so check it out below!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Guild it up, Kn-orc it down.

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Yes, it's me again with another pun-tastic post title.

It's been a busy old week with lots happening in a couple of games, as well as the real world. I've got my Christmas decorations up at home, started to wrap presents and write cards, and I've also found a little time for gaming too.

I have been playing something I'm not allowed to talk about. When the NDA drops I'll fill you in, but until then you'll just have to keep guessing.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Game of Thrones trailer

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I'm still loving the books (when I can manage to tear them out of my wife's hands!) and am really looking forwards to the new HBO adaptation. The new trailer, released today and embedded below, looks like it's going to be pretty faithful. It will be great to see adult fantasy done well on television at last. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

These boots were made for working

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Work has been absolutely crazy this week, which is why there haven't been any big blog updates for the last few days. It's likely to continue like that for the next few weeks too as I try to get everything done before I finish early for Christmas holiday on the 17th of December. Oh well, it pays for the subs!

I've been continuing to play EQ2 in my spare time and have now reached level 36 with Merecraft and got his crafting level up to 41. I've made 20 plat on the broker, which is a huge change since I last played. I only managed to raise 9 plat on my original character in all of his 70 levels. That's inflation I guess.

I spent last night duoing through the Dwarven Work Boots heritage quest with Udrath, which was a lot of fun and raised a couple of interesting insights.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Le`Bard Connection: Next Installment

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Adurj has written the next part in Merecraft and Udrath's tale, entitled "Time waits for no dwarf". You can check it out using the link below or in the Roleplay Stories section of the site.

Le`Bard Connection: Next Installment

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Connect with Kinect

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Well it's only been released for three weeks but already some clever folks have managed to hack the software for Microsoft's new Kinect device. This is the piece of hardware designed for the XBox 360 that allows you to control games through your voice and through bodily gestures. So far the official MS releases for the device seem to comprise mainly of casual family-oriented games in a grab for the business that the Nintendo Wii has enjoyed for the last three years, so it's good to see that a bunch of amateur hackers are already outdoing Microsoft in realising the potential for the hardware. But why am I interested? I don't own or have any intention of owning an XBox after all.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Bits and pieces

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There's been quite a few snippets of gaming/MMO news over the last few days, so I thought I'd give a run down on those that have grabbed my interest.

First of all Bioware are going to be announcing their new game on December 11th. You can find a video of the teaser announcement here. There's been a lot of speculation as to what the new game will be, but the current thinking seems to be that it will be a Call of Duty style first-person-shooter set in the Mass Effect universe (possibly a prequel set during the First Contact War). As a huge Mass Effect and Bioware fan I'm really interested to see what it will be. Bioware are known for crafting deep and involving roleplaying games with immersive stories; how this will tie in with an fps game remains to be seen. I have to admit that the thought of fighting off hordes of Turians with my sniper rifle does get me more than a little excited though!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Challenge accepted

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Well I've finally gotten round to replying to the challenge set down by Adurj last week. I hope you all enjoy it!

I've added these stories to the new Roleplay Stories section of the website, and will continue to keep that section updated as new chapters get written.



Merecraft and Udrath sat in silence, staring at the meal of stuffed peppers and mushrooms that lay on the highly polished surface of the maple table. They were in Joleena's Restaurant in Kelethin, having agreed to catch up following their surprise meeting. It was Merecraft that broke the silence first.

"I know I owe you an explanation and an apology old friend. I just hope that you can accept the only one I have," he said, staring at the dwarf.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fireside tales

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In preparation for my answer to Adurj's challenge I have now posted up a new section to the blog in which you will be able to find many of the roleplay stories I have written for my MMO characters over the years.

Consequently there is a new link at the top of the page to the story index. Not all the stories are posted up right now, but they will be within the next few days. For now you will at least be able to read the tales of Merecraft and Udrath from the original Everquest days. For anyone who is interested this will serve as some background for the tales to come in response to Adurj's post.

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SW:ToR - Crew Skills

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There's been a pretty big announcement this week over on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic site with the revealing of the details of the games crafting system. The reason I'm so interested is that the system they have designed actually sound very innovative, addressing a lot of the concerns with crafting systems in other MMOs.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

A birthday challenge!

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Just a quick update today. First of all, Happy Birthday to Le Bard Connection, a great blog written by my brother which is one year old today. Keep up the good work mate!

Secondly, Adurj has thrown down the gauntlet with a small roleplaying challenge that I intend to pick up on soon. Watch out for a response in the next few days!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Community matters

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It's a scary thought, but I've been playing MMOs for over 10 years now, ever since the original Everquest was released back in 1999. A lot has changed in the genre over the years (though some would say not enough!), but I'm still playing and enjoying them.

I think the thing that keeps bringing me back to the games are the communities that they generate. Without a decent community an MMO effectively becomes a mini-multiplayer online game, or even a single-player online game. So, here is my very personal and highly subjective run down of the top 8 MMO communities that I have been a member of over the past 11 years.
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Saturday, November 06, 2010

This week I have mostly been wearing a Dwarven Ringmail Tunic

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It's been a fun week in EQ2 this week. I completed my first heritage quest last night with Udrath, Brynnethe, and Livvy (thanks guys was lots of fun!), and now have the Dwarven Ringmail Tunic chest proudly displayed in my house. My next target is my level 20 armour quests in Qeynos.

Talking about the housing, I have been spending quite a bit of time decorating my new house - a five room mansion in New Halas.
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Friday, November 05, 2010

Question and Answer

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"As a returning player what do you think could be added to EQ2 to make it better?"

This was the question that Jahf asked me on my recent return to Norrath after an extended period away (around 3-and-a-half years!). It wasn't a question I was able to answer straight away. It required a little thought, and I needed to play the game for a while before I could see what might be missing.

After a few weeks back in game I now feel I can at least start to answer Jahf's question.
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Decisions, decisions

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Most of my gaming time continues to be taken up by EQ2. Last night Brynnethe and I decided to track down and complete all the Night of the Dead (Halloween festival) quests, which was a lot of fun. Not sure my warden wants a hanging man in his house as a reward thought! I really enjoyed the new haunted mansion quest and the Hollow Hedge maze, neither of which I'd seen before.

Those of you who have read one of my earlier posts on The Old Republic will know that I am planning to play a Smuggler for my main on release. Well that's now changed. Maybe. No, definitely. Perhaps.

Why the second thoughts?
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The saga continues

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I've spent the last few evenings playing Everquest 2 some more, and I continue to be surprised by how much has changed and how much feels familiar at the same time.

I've had great fun grouping with Udrath, Jahf, and Brynnethe (my wife, who has also returned for the time being at least), and have managed to fight my way up to level 17. I've also done some crafting and have decided to become an alchemist, based on the need to make some cash and provide myself with useful items.

I found and started my first heritage quest last night (In Honor and Service) and had a fantastic time running round with Merecraft and Udrath trying to solve it.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Back to (EQ2) Life

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I last played Everquest 2 in January 2007. Over three-and-a-half years ago. Echoes of Faydwer had hit a couple of months before, and Game Update 31 had just been released (EQ2 has just seen Game Update 58 go live).

Since then I've played Lord of the Rings Online (a game I still have great affection for) and Age of Conan (see my last post). Due to the lack of anything else enticing, a few old friends that still play the game, and a long wait until the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic I decided to have another look at EQ2 and see what's changed.

Short answer: A lot.
Long answer: Read on!
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Monday, October 18, 2010

End of Conan

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"Then suddenly the borealis, the snow-clad hills and the blazing heavens reeled drunkenly to Conan's sight; thousands of fire-balls burst with showers of sparks, and the sky itself became a titanic wheel which rained stars as it spun. Under his feet the snowy hills heaved up like a wave, and the Cimmerian crumpled into the snows to lie motionless." from The Frost Giant's Daughter by R.E. Howard.

Well, that's it for now. I won't be renewing my subscription to Age of Conan.

As I intimated in my original first-impressions review of the game, whilst the face is real pretty, it ain't got no soul! The combat, as I said, does a few new things, but they are not enough to hide the tedious grind that the game becomes once you hit level 40. I think Funcom know this too. Why else would they give you free character levels every four days? I could literally level my character up just by clicking one button in around 10 seconds if I wanted, which I don't consider value for money.

And there's more...
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Game of Thrones

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I've been reading A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin for the first time and thought it warranted a blog post. The book was recommended to me by one of my guild mates from Age of Conan (thanks Ealian!) after I had recommended that she pick up some of David Gemmell's novels. Like Gemmell's books (and also like the Conan books by RE Howard), A Game of Thrones is set in a fantasy setting that is low on magic and high on character.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

mMORPG - mini multiplayer online rpg

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Silly, basic, but fun and surprisingly addictive! I love coming across random stuff like this :)

Next time you have a few minutes spare try Realm of the Mad God.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Grinds, groups, goodies and grievances

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There's been some really interesting discussions from some of the Star Wars: The Old Republic developers this week.

First of all, Damion Schubert, the principal lead systems designer on the game gave a lecture to the Games Developers Conference Online. This is a trade conference and the talk was aimed at other game designers. The title of the talk was "How Online Gaming Has Adopted The Grind".
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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dragon Age: Oranges

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No, that's not a typo.

You see I've been thinking about Dragon Age 2 a bit recently. I loved Dragon Age: Origins to bits (just don't get me started on the poor DLC).

In November 2009 and January 2010 Bioware hit us with the double-whammy that was Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. Now, ME2 is my personal favourite single player title of all time, but I love DA:O too, for different reasons. Ostensibly both are role-playing games, but they are as different as apples and oranges. Of the two DA:O is much more in the mould of an old-school RPG, along the lines of the awesome Baldur's Gate series. You know the score; tactical combat, massive inventory management, creating a character from scratch, skill points to spend on feats and spells, that kind of thing.
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Saturday, October 02, 2010

It ain't like dusting crops, boy!

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Amongst the forthcoming MMOs the one I'm currently looking forwards to the most is Bioware's The Old Republic. It's nothing to do with the game being set in the Star Wars galaxy, as I explained before, but rather the integration of story and the fact it's being developed by my favourite development studio.

Whenever I start a new MMO I always start off with a rogue-ish utility class as my main character, then move on to healers and tanks with alts. I'm not sure why I've developed this habit, but I did it in Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, EQ2, Lord of the Rings Online, and Age of Conan. I guess the stealthy classes just appeal to me more. Anyway, the class I'm currently planning on starting first when The Old Republic launches is the Smuggler. I mean who doesn't want to be Han Solo right?
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crack... zzztttt..pffttt.

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That's the sound of my PSU frying as I turned on my gaming PC last night :(

Have a new one ready to be fitted later tonight, but just crossing my fingers that the cpu and motherboard have survived. If not it's going to be an expensive week and no Civ 5 or AoC to see me through either!

Update: All is now working fine. Replaced the psu and luckily everything else seems to have survived!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just one more go!

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Big news of the past couple of days is the arrival of Civilization 5 at last. I'll come on to that in a bit.

First of all I just want to point you in the direction of Adurj le Bard's discussion on the different ways to play mainstream MMOs, with a focus on the various types of roleplaying. He makes some interesting points about the different levels of roleplaying that can be found, and as I've been a member of various types of roleplay guilds over the years I'm going to be offering my thoughts on the subject in a future post.

I've also been listening to the soundtrack to The Social Network (a new film by David Fincher about the formation of Facebook which has been getting rave reviews). The soundtrack is by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross (NIN producer and fellow member of How to Destroy Angels) and is well worth a listen. It's pretty intense and dark and makes me wonder what on earth the film will be like. You can grab a free five track mini version of the full album here if you are interested.

Right, on to the main news. Civilization 5 has arrived.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Story time

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Gah, it's so frustrating! Civilization V had been sitting on my pc for a few days now and I still can't play it! The game has been available in the US since yesterday but doesn't unlock in Europe until Friday! Curse you Sid Meier! The game looks great (currently sitting at 91% review score on Metacritic) and having been a massive fan of the other games in the series I really can't wait to get started. Oh well.

In bizzaro-news of the week it seems there is a Michael Jackson MMO in development called Planet Michael. Seems a bit tacky to me. It's like April Fools day 7 months early.

Right, on to the main reason for this post...
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

AoC - So how is it?

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As I promised in an earlier post here are my thoughts on Age of Conan, the MMO that is currently taking up the majority of my play time.

I first tried AoC when it was in beta, and it was a mess quite frankly. Very buggy and the graphics engine was a real chugger - it looked great but was like watching a slideshow. I played for a couple of days and then uninstalled it. So why did I go back?
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Age of Roleplaying?

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I've been playing a bit more Age of Conan the last couple of days after a hectic week that had cut my playing time down.

I visited Sanctum of the Burning Souls for the first time with a couple of guildies (shout out to Clan Koragg if you're reading!) and had a blast and got some very nice new items as well as completing a few quests and dinging to level 41. Thanks to Sunsia and Aubrecht for the fun!

The other thing I've been doing is some in-game roleplaying. When I decided to try out Age of Conan again, thanks to their free trial (free up to level 20), I decided to start on the Aquilonia RP-PvP server for a couple of reasons.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Coming attractions

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Thought I'd drop down a few thoughts on forthcoming games I'm following closely for one reason or another. These are games I'll almost definitely be purchasing when they are released, and will probably be blogging about from time to time. In no particular order...

Star Wars: The Old Republic
I have to admit that I'm not a great Star Wars fan, which may seem odd considering my age and general interests. I have warm, nostalgic feelings towards the original trilogy, which I loved as a kid, but think the prequels were awful and actually made the original films worse (not even taking George Lucas' efforts to completely tarnish his legacy into account). I'm generally pretty ambivalent towards all things Star Wars. Why the hell am I awaiting this game more than any other right now then?
1. It's by Bioware.
2. I loved Knights of the Old Republic, which surely contains one of the greatest story twists ever.
3. It's an MMO.
4. It's an MMO with fully voiced dynamic cutscenes like Mass Effect, with a full unique story lasting 250 hours for each character class.
5. It's by Bioware.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Female avatars and you

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Came across an interesting read about what makes the female Shepard avatar so much fun in Mass Effect at Gamasutra. The article and comments turn into a more open discussion about why men especially play female avatars in games and it contains some interesting insights.

For those who don't know, Mass Effect and it's sequel are some of the best roleplaying games out there, combining an epic story with great characters and incredible gameplay. Time Magazine called Mass Effect 2 "the Avatar of video games - except it's better written." If you hadn't actually played the game however you would be forgiven for thinking that the main protagonist is male; all the advertising, trailers and even the game box only show the male hero. However, in the game you create the hero character yourself, and are able to choose your sex, career and appearance.
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You have to start somewhere

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Well I guess this is one of those difficult introductory posts where I'm supposed to explain who I am and why I'm writing this blog. It's not going to be that simple however.

This isn't my first blog. I've written one before with a focus on a specific topic, which was a mod for Neverwinter Nights that I was developing called Seahaven (if you don't know what Neverwinter Nights is then you're probably not going to be interested in the kind of things I'll be blogging about!). That died a death due to a lack of development time available following the birth of my son. This time however I don't have a specific aim in mind.

I've partly been inspired by my the blog my brother writes (Le' Bard Connection), and partly by the feeling I should be recording some of my thoughts and ideas. So, I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to be posting about, but I expect it will centre mainly on my gaming hobby, with a few other random things thrown in.

As for me, I'm a family man in my forties and have been gaming as long as I can remember. I'm a member of FunkSoulBrothers [FSB] on STEAM; hell I was the founder of the clan way back when it first started as an Action Quake 2 clan. Until recently I've mainly been playing Lord of the Rings Online, but a full discussion of my relationship with MMOs can wait for another day.

So, here we go, stepping into the unknown. If anyone happens to read this please feel free to leave your comments, and I hope you enjoy the journey.