Tag Archive for undead

The Journal

So, I am back to playing WoW a little more consistantly, or at least I hope that I am. For the time being, I will be playing two characters. Ishiro, a human priest on the Durotan server, is currently level 57. With him I mostly play battlegrounds and run quests with Lorilai, Jodi’s paladin. And then there is Ishiro, an undead warlock on the Eitrigg server, who is level 26. My plan there is to level him up and do battlegrounds and run quests with Lochie, Jodi’s warlock.

Essentially, I like battlegrounds and I hate raiding. A brief sojourn back into first person shooters (thanks HL2!) reminded me that most games are relatively boring once you learn the tricks of the game engine, but when you come up against another human being things can get interesting. My only grip with PvP in the context of MMORPGs is the disparity between casters and melees. In a traditional FPS everyone is on the same footing. In RPGs melees can run and jump and strafe and hop around the world like a jackrabbit on crack, but casters mostly have to stand still and pray they can not get interrupted and keep the target within the field of vision. It might be okay if casters we much more powerful, but as a priest, I’ve been killed enough times with a single weapon swing or in a matter of seconds to know that it just isn’t true. But I’m learning to deal with it.

That said, from here on out, everything posted in this category will be concerning what I’ve managed to do in game for either the Alliance or the Horde.

The Rising and City of the Dead

For Christmas this year I asked for a bunch of zombie books and superhero books, and I got some. One of the zombie books I got was The Rising by Brian Keene. Its your traditional “zombies are overrunning everything” story that you see in movies all the time. Or at least so it appears… In this book zombies aren’t the mindless corpses seeking flesh and stumbling around of Night of the Living Dead. They’re not even the beastial “Brains!” zombies of Return of the Living Dead. These are closer to the deadites of the Evil Dead movies (1, 2 and Army of Darkness). They work together, they talk, they plan. They fire guns and drive cars. But they still have only one goal… kill everyone.

The book starts with Jim Thurmond, locked away in the fall out shelter he built in his back yard for Y2K. Jim decides he’s going to head outside and try to get away when his cell phone rings and just before the battery dies he hears his son, who lives with Jim’s ex-wife, plead for help, saying that he’s hiding in the attic, mommy is sick, and Rick (the stepfather) is a monster. This sets Jim off on a journey that takes him from West Virginia to New Jersey to save his son.

Jim isn’t the only character we meet. There is Martin, a reverend, who meets up with Jim fairly early. Frankie, a junky whore, whose trying to survive the living dead and kicking heroine cold turkey. And Baker, a scientist who might just be partly responsible for the whole damn thing. There are a number of other points of view, some very brief, to fill out the tale, and Mr. Keene weave the stories together beautifully (if rather depressingly), and keeps you at the edge of your seat wondering what could possibly happen next.

The book was so good, I ran out and picked up the second (and final) book, City Of The Dead , because I just had to know how it ended.

Now, I’m going to go into alot more detail, so I’ll warn you… ** Spoilers Ahead!! **
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World of Warcraft

One of the reasons I’ve held to as to why I didn’t want to play World of Warcraft was that I found the graphics to be too cartoony… caricaturish. Since playing through some of the beta and playing live over the weekend, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was both wrong and right in my opinion.

I was wrong in thinking that the level of caricature animation would detract from the game to the point of being unplayable. Its not. In fact, the caricatures aren’t as pronounced in most places as I originally perceived them to be. Yes, the human males are bordering on being too much the “square jawed hero” type. But overall the character graphics are highly stylized and create a pleasing fanciful playing environment.

I was right, however, when it comes to the gnomes. When I look at the cruel detail of the orcs, trolls and undead… when I look at the regal stature of the humans and night elves… when I look at the stoic strength of the dwarves and tauren… I see a beautifully drawn fantasy tale, like a novel come to life, even supporting the need for the square jawed human males… and then a gnome runs in and the fantasy, for me at least, collapses. They are the over-stylized uber-cute giant-eyed product of a country in love with the retarded almond eyes of Japanese manga. The gnomes could easily have been childlike and mischievous while retaining their dignity, but instead we get infant toys. They just rub me the wrong way, and after wandering around the world for a few days, I realized that it is specifically the gnomes that originally turned me off from the game.

I can only hope that none of my friends in game decide to play gnomes, I might have to play on the Horde on a PvP server just so I can kill the little disgusting things.

The Future of the Game

I’ve probably ranted about this before… but of course that won’t stop me from doing it again.

What’s wrong with EverQuest?

Honestly, if you enjoy the game as it is, nothing. Sony has laid out a path of developement for their virtual world that they are progressing down, and if you enjoy the places it goes then EverQuest is a happy fun place. If you don’t though, EverQuest is, as the popular phrase among other ranters goes, dying.

The Real World, you know, the one we live in, is huge. It has a vastness that most people never bother to try to comprehend. But if you are one of those people who try, you’ve looked at this planet and seen what the 6 billion or so people on it have done. Cities, towns, farms, roads… there are really very few places that are truely barren of human life. Places in the Arctic and Antarctic come to mind, as do a number of deserts and other places. Now consider that 70% of the planet is water and has, realistically, no population of humans.

In the world of EverQuest, much of the game is like the oceans. If you run from Qeynos to Freeport, which is 6 to 8 zones, you’ll likely run into maybe a dozen people. These are zones that at one time housed a hundred or more. 10 to 20 people per zone, and on many servers with the East Commanlands Bazaar, 100 people without breaking a sweat. The game is empty.. at least until you get to level 65 and start raiding, then you have 500 people vying for the same 3 to 4 zones and encounters.

EverQuest has become a land of raiding and high end gaming. There is little place for the truely casual player anymore, the slow and steady explorer, the quiet dreamer. If you try to play the game that way now, starting at level 1, you’ll quit in 3 months, guaranteed. Its just… lifeless. Now, if you powerlevel, and race to 65, you may play for much much longer. This is where the “game” exists. However, step away from the dozen zones built for the “high end” game, and you’ll find it just as empty.

Sony has nurtured a game that has expanded with its players, but it hasn’t grown. Arathur in Qeynos still says the same things he said 5 years ago. The same quests are still there, some are even still broken. Sony had lived under the impression that the game is better off going to new lands than to dare alter the existing game. Its true, players get angry when content they either remember fondly or have yet to experience disappears, but these angry players don’t quit. Verant understood this. While they did give up the Kunark expansion that nearly doubled the size of the world, they also gave us “Bloody Kithicor” as the once benign Kithicor Forest turned into a place of vile evil once the sun has settled beneath the hills, changing a zone for levels 1-10 into a place filled with wandering level 30-40 undead. Ask any player who played during that time, and they’ll recall it. Ask any player who started in the year or so after and they’ll have heard of it. Only 2 or more years later is it possible for a player to play the game and not hear of “Bloody Kithicor”. Verant developed player lore: stories that lasted long beyond their occurance. Sony hasn’t done that.

In the history of game expansions, EverQuest was always expanding. From Kunark, to Velious, to Luclin, to the Planes of Power, to Broken Skull Rock, to the Lost Dungeons of Norrath, to the Gates of Discord, and looking forward toward the Omens of War, only one expansion didn’t add new lands. The Lost Dungeons of Norrath added camps to existing zones, and dungeons off those and more existing lands. You didn’t need a port, or to ride a boat. It was the old world brought to life again.

Right now, there are zones in EverQuest sitting empty that are a part of storylines gathering dust. All they would need to do is resurrect those stories, revamp a zone or two, add a zone or two, add a dozen instanced dungeons, and the players would come back to the old worlds. The travel paths of old would be alive again with the footfalls of adventurers. Mayong Mistmoore could return to power and take his seat in Castle Mistmoore evoking the resurgance of evil in the Faydark. The frogloks of old Sebilis could begin to rebuild their armies in earnest, gathering strength from the growing darkness in their halls. The gnolls of splitpaw might stumble on to an enormous power, strengthening them and spilling out into the Karanas.

Everything that Sony needs to revitalize the world of Norrath is within their grasp… but the catch is, you can’t revamp a zone for only the players who pay. If Mayong returns to power in his castle, you can’t have the new Mistmoore available only to those who buy the new box down at Besy Buy or who order it online for digital download. Free content seems to be a bad word at Sony. But free content could save them.

EverQuest has peaked. At this point, the only thing they can do is retain customers. New customers (true new customers, not someone’s second or third account) will be few and far between. Players entering Norrath now are presented with an enormous empty world. The social aspect is gone at the lower levels. So eiher you suffer in a world of silence, or you have a friend who helps you catch up to the “real game”. And many new players, and players new to gaming, don’t want that… they want to experience the game, not have it handed to them. The only way EverQuest will ever gain customers again… free content. A revamping of the world so that it isn’t so empty and lifeless below level 65.

City of Heroes, World of Warcraft… there is blood in the water, and they smell it. These games are making large worlds that are vast beyond their borders, designing games to be enjoyable and populated at all levels. In City of Heroes, for example, even when you are level 43, from time to time doing missions you’ll be forced to travel back to Atlas Park, the lowest level zone in the game, for a door mission, or to talk to a contact, keeping you connected to the rest of the world.

EverQuest needs to change, or it will, as they say, “die”.

Dawn of the Dead

I love zombie movies. Ever since I saw the original Night of the Living Dead, I’ve just always liked them. One main reason is that within the span of the movie, a good zombie movie remains internally consistant, and its not hard to be a good zombie movie. Do your zombies run or walk? Are they capable of any speed movements or are they always slow? Do the only attack humans or anything that lives? Is the whole body reanimated or is it just the brain keeping it going? Is anyone who dies capable of being a zombie or do they have to be bitten by one?

Answer those questions, stick to them, and you can have a good zombie flick.

When I went to go see Dawn of the Dead this weekend, I knew alot of what to expect. I had seen the original (though not recently), and knew it was about a bunch of people who wind up in a mall while the world outside spirals into zombie hell.

It was good in that it was scary. It was good in that is was consistant. It was good in that it had funny moments to break the tension, and calm you down as a viewer.

But I didn’t love the movie…

Now, before I continue, let me get something out of the way:


Okay, now that everyone has been warned, let me talk about why I didn’t love the movie.

Night of the Living Dead is a cornerstone of the zombie genre. At the end, everyone from the house, the story you’ve been watching is dead… but, the human race is winning. Zombies are getting under control and the bodies are being burned. In a way, it has a very War of the Worlds feel to it. We are on the bring of destruction, but as dawn arrives, we start winning.

Return of the Living Dead (and its sequals) are the flip side of the genre. They are pure camp. The zombie say funny things, do funny things. People die in funny ways. There are two actors who are in every movie (they play different people and die in every one of them). And the movies end with total destruction. In fact, more than one I believe ends with us (the Army) nuking the infected town only to further spread the infection in the form of contaminated rain.

The original Dawn of the Dead ends when the people from the mall decide to make a break for the harbor, where they plan to get on a boat and sail off to an uninhabited island or somesuch. The movie literally ends with a shot of the boat sailing away, abandoning the main land. In this end, its similar to both Night and Return… We (the humans) have lost, and have turned over the main land to the undead, but there is also hope because we are sailing to a safe place.

The new Dawn of the Dead ends in the same way. I could feel in myself, and in the sigh of relief in Jodi, and the other members of the audience, a sence of relaxing, and sadness, but also of hope as the boat sails away. Like the original, we lost, but we survived. However, as the credits rolled, snippets of film continued in the form of seconds here and there on a video camera found on the boat. Food on the boat, which had been idle for weeks, is covered in maggots. They run out of gas. The engine catches fire. They find a row boat with a cooler, and in the cooler an undead head (funny, but… ). Snippets, until they pull up to shore at the island. The dog is barking, and runs off. They have guns out and start to move down the dock. Then dozens of undead rush the boat and camera, which drops to the ground and you keep seeing snippets of undead running by, screams, and death. The movie finally ends with total destruction… we lost, and we didn’t survive, and it wasn’t funny enough to laugh it off.

In the end, the new Dawn of the Dead leaves you without hope, and not enough to smile about.

Is it worth seeing? I would say yes, but just make sure you leave when the credits begin to roll.

Let`s talk about aggro.

Okay, I know this topic is supposed to be for issues moving toward fixing and balancing EverQuest, but the monks over at Monkly-Business managed to get my hackles up and I need to vent.

I have, in all the time I have been playing a monk in EverQuest (since September 1999), read many many guides and theories about how the game of EverQuest, and aggro in particular, works.

Focusing on the aggro guides, it is my opinion and observation that every single one of them is lacking, is flawed. Every guide can have a hole poked in it by providing a situation where their explanation fails. And their failing is all, just about every one of them, in the same place: the view the player character as an inactive participant in game mechanics.

Lets begin with the simple theory that most guides follow: monster aggression radius. Every monster in the game has a radius that it is aggressive within. If a player enters that radius, the monster becomes active or aggro. Most of these guide believe that all aggression is assigned to the monster, and that it is a series of concentric circles (although sometimes a single circle is used), with the outter circles being the lowest level and the inner circles the highest. They believe this because if you have a monster who is level 40, he will attack a level 1 immediately upon entering any aggression circle, but a level 40 player has to get closer to aggro, and a level 65 player might be unable to aggro it at all (the single circle theory applies to monsters like the undead who in many cases will attack a level 65 player as quick as it will attack a level 1 player, even when the undead is level 1). Much of the game appears to subscribe to this theory, and this is why it has become popular.

Much, not all.

Enter ‘sneak’. Sneak is a skill that allows a player to appear indifferent when it is within the back arc of a monster. See, a monster isn’t just a circle of aggression, he faces a direction as well. With sneak, you can stand inches from a monster without aggro as long as you are behind it. How does this break the circles theory of aggro? A player using sneak will be able to approach a monster much closer from the front as well. Now, it doesn’t work as well as from behind, however, you will be able to get closer (sometimes almost imperceptibly closer) to the monster using sneak than without.

In an attempt to explain this, the aggro guides state than sneak reduces the effective aggro radius on the monster. Now, from a programming stand point, this is beyond idiocy. The amount of coding and server processing that would be required for all monsters to maintain an aggro radius for sneaking and non-sneaking characters and to keep track of which circle to apply to a character would be horrendous. Its just not feasable to code players as inactive and foist all the load of nuance onto the server.

Now on to what I believe and in practice has shown to be true.

Player characters are active participants in the game. If you view the game as a monster having an aggro radius and the player having an aggro radius, all the flaws of the other aggro guides disappear.

First, instead of having an inactive player enter the active monster’s radius, you have two radii, and aggro occurs when the two overlap. As a player levels, his natural radius gets smaller, allowing him to get closer to monsters. The radius of the monster and of the player have properties that also interact to decide if the monster will attack at all. To a level 65, some level 40 monsters will ignore you, others will attack if you hang around too long or too close.

Seconds, this accounts for sneak. Sneak has two effects, reduction of the player’s radius, and indifferent faction when in the back arc of a mob’s vision (which incidentally extends infinitely – or at least to the edge of the zone). From behind the mob, the player is indifferent, so his radius doesn’t matter. From the front, his radius is smaller, thus allowing him to get closer to the monster before it reacts to him.

My original theory was purely based on single radius player vs single radius monster. Over time however I learned that monsters appear to have two radii: active and passive. And it stands to reason that players might have them as well, although I have not been able to test this. On a monster, the active aggro radius is something it cannot ignore. When a player enters it, it will attack (faction permitting). The passive radius however, allows for the player to pass in and out without aggression. My assumption and experience has shown me that when you enter the passive radius you are assigned a position on the monster’s “watch” list. The longer you stay, the higher your count on the watch list. When you exceed a certain count, the monster becomes active at attacks. This is evident in that sometimes you can stand near a mob for several server ticks and then suddenly it will attack.

Monsters also have two assist radii: general and help. The general assist radius applies to any monster within it. If you aggro a monster, all monsters within its general radius will aggro as well. The help radius is larger, and is triggered when a monster is not passively aggro’d. For example, if you shoot an arrow or throw a dagger at the monster and cause damage it will “yell” for help. All monsters in the help radius will assist. This theory is clear when you can passively aggro (standing too close) a monster and get him alone, but throwing a dagger at him will get you all his friends.

There are also coding errors evident in EverQuest that support this. Places where a monster appears to have a large general assist radius, but have a zero range help radius, where you can use an arrow to single pull one target out of a group, but getting close to him will get you all of them.

This leads into lull. Lull reduces the aggression radii and all assist radii to zero (actually to a number just slightly above zero since standing on top of it or pulling another monster directly through it will cause agro).

This all leads into assists and chains. Some theories would have you believe that there is primary aggro and secondary aggro, and that monsters will only assist another monster that has primary aggro, and further that monsters will not assist a monster with secondary aggro. Thus far, I have not found any evidence of this. Every example I have seen can be explained some other way. The best example people have is that you can root a monster next to a target you want to pull, then what you want has secondary aggro and can be dragged through other monsters and they will not assist. However, most examples of this also state that the person uses invis after gaining aggro. When a player is invisible, any monster that tries to assist an aggro monster will get an ‘invalid target’ and not assist, not because of what level of aggro, but because it cannot see what its trying to assist on, so it fails. There is one, and I want to emphasize that it is a single solitary example, where a monk pulls a named monster in EQ through a building of other monsters and no monsters assist without using invis. Since this is the only example of this and cannot be repeated elsewhere, it is an anomoly, and likely a bug in the coding of that named monster, a case where his assist radii are coded badly and cause this behavior.

Anyway, enough ranting out of me. It all boils down to one simple thing, everything in EverQuest makes more sense when you view a player as an active participant in the game.

Pure Melees: Balance

When people think about games like EverQuest, if you ask them about class balance will probably tell you that either the casters, or the hybrids will be the hardest to balance. But in truth, the hybrids are easiest, followed by casters, and leaving the melees at the hardest to balance.

It almost seems illogical that the simplest classes would be so hard to balance, however it is exactly that simplicity that makes it so hard.

With casters, if you have an imbalance, you have give them new spell lines, remove spell lines, play with damage caps and resist rates, mana costs, etc… spells open themselves to alot of “wiggle room” in their design, both in direct use by the caster and in direct effect on the target.

Hybrids have the spell flexibility of casters, even if it is to a muted level, as well as having an avenue for melee damage output, damage avoidance, mitigation, etc… all the melee skills.

A pure melee has only those melee skills. The only way to balance a melees is by giving him new armor and weapons, or changing the effect of the weapons on a target. The problem with changing the effect on a target is that those changes will inherantly filter down to the hybrids. The hybrids might be well balanced, but when you make melee skill changes you may unbalance them inadvertantly. The problem with armor and weapons is that its boring.. and frankly, just how big a sword do you give them? And if you give them class restricted weapons, especially no-drop weapons, as loot, you basically place a hole in the loot table that even the most diverse guild will eventually arrive at. Once all the rogues have the new weapon, it becomes rot loot.

Before going on with my ideas on balance, let me just lay down one thing you must understand before going on… Active vs Passive. In EverQuest, pure melees are largely active for the first few seconds of combat. The mob comes in, you move around, get set, assist. Once combat is fully engaged, the pure melee classes become passive. Warriors get taunt and kick, rogues get backstab, and monks get flying kick or other alternate attacks, and they all get disciplines, but by and large you turn on auto-attack and then hit one key until the mob is dead. Hybrids and Casters on the other hand are different. Hybrids remain active all the time, and casters become active after the mob is set (or before in the case of clerics healing melees and enchanters controlling mobs on multiple target pulls). The biggest play advantage they have is that using their choice of spells and skills they can help affect and control the fight in a way that a pure melee cannot.

That said, most of my ideas are not just for pure balance, but also to make the pure melee classes more active in their combat rolls.

The first item I would suggest toward melee balance would be to unlink the disciplines they already have. While I see much merit in the idea that I have to wait an hour to repeat a discipline that is of great use, I do not see why that should prevent be from using a little use, or moderate use discipline. Allowing pure melees unlinked disciplines would go toward them having a more active role in combat.

The next thing I would suggest is to give pure melees “specializations” similar to what casters get for their schools of magic. Allow a pure melee at level 20 or 30 put a point into the specialization for all his available weapon skills, with only one able to go above a skill of 50. As skill in the specialization grows, have it factor into a pure melee’s ATK or “to hit” mathematics so that they become more effective with that weapon type over the others. Not so dramatically such that using a non specialized weapon will cut your damage output in half, but enough so that the player would come to prefer a certain type over others. Of course, like the casters, offering a way to reset and respecialize later would be best to help reduce the impact of mistakes or changes in preference.

Another thing I propose is to give melees more avenues for balance in the form of Fighting Styles.

At just a quick glance at speedy implementation, you can give the pure melees mana to manage the use of these styles, making it act the way that Bard mana does now. These styles would alter the melee attack slightly, offering a way for a pure melee to interact and affect the course of battle in more ways than turning on auto-attack and hitting a special attack key.

A few simple examples of what might be done:

  • Offensive Stance: This would increase the melee damage, which decreasing defensive skills. More damage for less armor class.
  • Defensive Stance: The brother to the offensive, increaing defence skills while lowering damage output. More armor class for less damage.
  • Forceful Blows: Cut the damage of blows in half, but add in a greater chance to interrupt spells.
  • Slashing Blows: Increase damage output for mana cost per tick, increased damage only applies to mobs tagged “fleshy”. The idea being that you are slashing and tearing the skin for more damage.
  • Crushing Blows: Increase damage output for mana cost per tick, increased damage only applies to mobs tagged “non-fleshy”. The idea being that you are trying harder to break the bones of undead or the shell of a bug, etc, monsters with an outter layer that is not flesh.
  • Precision Strikes: Quadruple the damage per hit, while tripling the delay between hits for a mana per tick cost.
  • Critical Study: Every critical hit becomes a crippling blow, every crippling blow becomes a doubled crippling blow for a mana per tick cost.

These are, of course, just simple examples that would need to be greatly tested and tweaked before implementation, but I think something of this sort would help give pure melees more to do, and more avenues for balance without greatly overhauling the classes.

In any event, I don’t think that balance of the melees can be achieved with directed changes to the existing structure. Simply adding more damage per second, or more “tankability” won’t cut it. I strongly believe the only way to properly balance the melees is to broaden these simple classes and make more ways to improve them slightly as opposed to having to improve their one or two ways greatly just to see a difference.

And sometimes they do it right.

The Weekend before Halloween, Verant make a change on the servers for what they called “Adventure Weekend”. They sped up the spawn times for the large contested monsters in the game. The dragons, Venril Sathir and others. Lots of guilds got to do alot of the high end game.

“But what about the little guys?” you ask.

Well, they also patched the server on Halloween morning to introduce a bunch of scripted events. In several zones werewolves and undead roamed where they previously hadn’t. And these monsters dropped very nice equipment. A few pieces were even good by the high end gamers’ standards, but most were aimed at people around levels 10 to 40. Each of these zones had a story, and completing the story ended the event… but… it would start over again in 2 hours to give more people a chance to participate.

This is exactly what Verant needs to do more often. Not always dropping loot and other things, but to have a zone be unpredictable. The spawns more random. Get the players involved. Like having 2 quests in a zone, if the good guys win evil is vanquished, if the bad guys win good is sent heading for the hills. These events, when followed and not farmed, were engaging, interesting, and fun.

Now, on to my next comment…

Those were scripted events. Today however, I ran into what is usually referred to as “a_GM_event00”. Usually these events are nothing but people getting killed and crappy loot.

(in character)
I head to Karnor’s Castle for some hunting. We build a group and get ready. Kill a few things and I run in deep to pull something out to play. As I round the staircase in the Left Courtyard toward the Well, I see “Sentry of Sathir”. “Cool”, I think to myself. I’ll pull him out and have some fun. Then a dwarf flies by. His name is “Knight of Brell” and he says only one word: “RUN!”

I round the corner and I see him.. Venril Sathir. Immediately I take the dwarf’s advice and run. At the front of the Castle now I see them all coming: Venril Sathir, Knight of Sathir, Sentry of Sathir, and Drolvarg Captain. They charge us and we brace for it.

Things did not go well. We were beaten out of the zone. We collected ourselves and then once more into the breach. We stand longer this time, and a few of us fall in combat. Our clerics revive us and we rejoin the fray.

The word has gone out, and the army gathers. The Drolvarg Captain falls. I begin shouting orders and the adventurers begin to listen. The Sentry of Sathir falls. Collected more fully know we charge. The Knight of Sathir falls.

And we fail. Venril Sathir lays the Knight of Brell to rest.

Now enraged we charge at last Venril Sathir himself. I call out to rally the forces assembled. We battle. Each of us tired, weary, but we continue. And finally, Venril Sathir falls.

We collect the spoils of our fight: Cleric Greeves, Magician Staff, Wizard Staff. I allot the loot to those who helped.

From deep within the bowels of Karnor’s Castle, a voice echoes, “I will return!” Venril Sathir is far from done with Norrath.
(end in character)

See.. now THAT was fun. I wish more people could see the game like this. And I hope that Verant does things like this more often.

There`s nothing like a good scare to get the blood pumping.

It’s October. This means two things: Oktoberfest and Halloween.

Since I haven’t made the jaunt up to Helen, GA for the beer sloshing fun of Oktoberfest yet, that means I’m talking about Halloween.

Last night, some friends and I made the trip out to Tom Savini’s Nightmare Haunted House and Crypt of Terror. Both of these places are well done within the constraints of the law.

Yep, as the woman outside will inform you, “The monsters inside WILL jump out at you, but they WILL NOT touch you.” And with that in mind, there was really nothing left to be scared about.

For me anyway… For one of our group, everything was scary. She must have screamed or skittered away from every shadow and ghoul from entrance to exit.

In any event, haunted houses are cool. Even though you know you can’t be touched since the owners fear lawsuits more than they fear the undead (lawyers are much more frightening than flesh eating zombies anyway), a well done haunted house will use suspense to build up your expectations of a man leaping out from the next corner… then NOT having him leap out and putting him at the turn after that. You know, the one right after you relaxed… Good stuff.

So, if you happen to be in the Atlanta, GA area and want to spend an hour or so and $22, go visit these two places. It was worth my hard earned dollar.