Happy Halloween!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

A little more than a doodle, but a doodle just the same.
A little more than a doodle, but a doodle just the same.

Finally back for another Saturday doodle and it being the day that it is the doodle fits the theme.  I limited myself to black and orange, and I’m not 100% happy with the moon, but it is what it is.  I even messed around with some layering and putting in a border.

Trick or treat!

A Difference In Gaming

Occasionally, the group of us who played on the E’ci server in EverQuest will get to waxing rhapsodic about the “good old days” and how EQ was somehow “better” than more current games.  Usually discussions like these can be dismissed as a “first love” problem, where the game that got you in to MMOs it always remembered better than it was and nothing later can give you that same rush.  But, we’ve had these discussions often enough that most of the first love elements have begun to drift away and we’ve gotten more into specifics of design and approaches to game elements that were “better” back in EQ than the direction that later games went with it.

I’ve often tried to put my finger on exactly what the difference is between EverQuest and World of Warcraft, but I always seem to fall short.  This most recent time around though, I think I have hit upon a comparison that really does encapsulate the differences between the two games and makes clear which game a person might prefer based on their tastes.  So here goes…

EverQuest was like going camping or going on a road trip, while World of Warcraft was like a theme park.

In EQ, you were dropped in the world, there wasn’t much lore or story before that and you wandered around chatting with NPCs and fighting monsters.  There were quests, but often they required some reading and figuring out, and they’d take days, weeks or even months to complete.  You sort of did whatever you wanted.  At first, there was nothing in the way of tiers, that came later, and in the very beginning there wasn’t even any level gating.  When the Plane of Fear first opened there was no level 46 restriction.  I saw my first dragon raid when I was level 30, though I died quick and wasn’t itching to get back until I had more levels under my belt.  And there were people… like when camping there are other sites or on a road trip when you stop at diners and other places… and if you kept going back to the same places, you’d run into the same people, and if you all wanted to do the same stuff at the same time, you had to share.

WoW, on the other hand popped you into the world staring at an NPC with a giant punctuation mark floating over its head.  From that first moment you are following the designated paths, doing the designated tasks, and if you leave the path, you’d often find there is nothing there.  (Not always, sometimes you find some little treasure trove of mini quests or a random NPC in a hut put there on a lark by some developer.)  You have to be this high to ride this ride, and everyone gets a turn.

For me, every time I have ever gone camping or gone on a road trip, they made memories that stuck.  If this were that sort of post, I’d regale you with the story of going camping with the Cub Scouts and a few of us wandered off and found houses, and there was this girl undressing in the upstairs window… There is a lot more to that story than just some boys almost seeing their first real live boob, and maybe I’ll tell it some day, but the point is that I remember it.  And I remember EQ, because all the choices were mine and I went anywhere I wanted, and even when the game did point me in a particular direction it still felt like it was my choice.  When I go to Six Flags or some other theme park, I might remember the people I went with, or a general feeling of how I felt on certain rides, but lots of the details are gone.  WoW feels like this.  I remember the first time I entered the Plane of Knowledge in EQ (and that is years after the game launched) and what I did and who I was with as we explored, but the details of the day I entered the Burning Crusade or started my Blood Elf?  Gone.  Mostly from WoW I remember going from punctuation to punctuation, walking into towns and seeing a sea of punctuation which meant I would be busy, but very few of those punctuations stick out.  But from EQ, I recall details of days sitting in the Plane of Storms or The Overthere, pulling and grinding mobs, and chatting with people, and leading a group into Kaesora or the City of Mist or Kedge Keep, running from Qeynos to Freeport.  I know I led groups into the Scarlet Monastery, but for the life of me I can’t pluck out any details of what we did there beyond “we completed some quests”.  I went to the Deadmines and plenty of other places, but I don’t recall much of what we did.

Of course, not everyone is like me.  There are those who love and remember theme parks the way that I remember camping and road trips.  People for whom EQ was a neverending grindfest of wall sitting that blurs together, while WoW was a carnival of instances with their favorite group of friends and they can tell you stories about every one.  But it boils down, I think, to the difference between camping and theme parks.  When you go camping you have to make your own fun, but when you go to a theme park someone has designed the fun for you.  EQ more easily let you do what you wanted (even if it was boring and sucked), while WoW had its fun laid out for you, and its up to each player to know what sort of experience they are looking for.

I wish more games were like camping.

Blog Named

I finally got around to picking a name for the blog besides “weblog.probablynot.com” … it is now titled “Aim for the Head”.  There could be many meanings or significance to this name, but I will leave it up to you all to decide what you want it to mean.

You may have also noticed, if you aren’t reading this with an RSS feed reader, that I have changed the theme as well.  It started off as a theme called Desert Grass that I have made a few changes to, most obviously are the rotating header image, the logo display in general, and the sizing of certain page elements.  And more changes are to come as I’m not 100% sold on the color scheme and a few other odds and ends.

As always… enjoy!

The Stupidest Angel

Keeping with the Zombie Wednesday theme and considering the time of year, I thought I’d throw out an old style review (no rating) of a book I read before I started reviewing books on the site: The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore.

If you have read other books by Christopher Moore, you’ll see lots of familiar faces here. In fact, I think characters from every book up to the release of this one are in it. But that’s beside the point, if you don’t know the characters you can still enjoy the book, there just may be a sentence or two that doesn’t make as much sense to you as it would to someone who has read all the books.

The story here is about an angel named Raziel. If you’ve read Lamb, you’ll know he’s the one who showed up late, by a few years, to explain to Joshua that he was the son of God and what he was supposed to do. Anyway, the angel comes to town to grant one Christmas wish. The child he picks happens to have witnessed a murder earlier, and the victim, a power hungry developer, was dressed as Santa Claus. So the child’s wish is to have Santa brought back to life. Since “Santa” was unceremoniously dumped into a grave in the graveyard, the angel goes and brings him, and because he’s not careful the other corpses, back to life. The zombies then decide to eat the entire town of Melancholy Cove.

Zombies, Christmas and comedy. You just can’t go wrong.

Anyway, the book is a delight to read and totally worth the money to pick up a copy. I only regret not reviewing it sooner, and not getting to it before Christmas so people might get one and enjoy it snuggled up in their beds on Christmas Eve. There’s always next year…

9 0 2 1 Oh no you didn`t!

Just about every Tuesday I can be found down at the North River Tavern (formerly Taco Mac By The River) matching wits with the trivia gods… or at least having some food and drink and conversation while playing trivia for house cash. We do fairly well, our team, winning one of the three cash prize places every couple of weeks. Winning third place nets you $20, and its almost worse than winning nothing… splitting the money five or six ways barely takes a bite out of the bill. Second place at $40 is better, but first place at $60 is where its really worthwhile. Food and a soda will run you $10 at the tavern, so a five or six man split on the winnings means you eat for free and only pay for alcohol. It works out well for the waitress too, with $10 to $15 less to have to spend it means each person will be tossing in an extra couple bucks into the tip pile, quickly pushing a 20% tip into the realm of 40% or better.

Thursday nights, the North River Tavern runs trivia again, and sometimes we go. While Tuesdays is sort of a ‘General Knowledge’ type trivia with all sorts of categories, Thursdays is theme night. Well, this week’s theme was ‘Beverly Hills 90210’. Some of our team didn’t make it, not being thrilled about the topic, but I’ll admit I watched the show… 6 of the 7 seasons anyway, I got bored of it at the end. The show was fun to laugh at.. the plots were ridiculous, and the only person worth rooting for was David Silver. For some reason Brian Austin Green’s character just had this underdog quality that made you want to see him overcome his hardships and win a little bit… everyone else on the show you wanted to see tortured and burning in hell because 99 times out of 100 their problems were their own damn fault and never should have happened to begin with.

Anyway, our team, three members strong, managed to get first place. Woohoo! Go us! Of course, we aren’t complete 90210 geeks or anything, out of a possible 1120 points, we snagged first place with a whopping 220. So no, we aren’t the biggest geeks in the world, but we were the biggest geeks to show up Thursday for trivia at the North River Tavern.

Pirates of the Caribbean

The Disney theme park ride is good…

The new movie starring Jonny Depp and Orlando Bloom is awesome.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw an action/adventure film in the theater and left feeling so utterly satisfied.

Go see it.