Review: Minecraft

[intro] Minecraft started as a game known to only a few, developed by a indie developer, a person like you and me, written in the early or late hours after and between workshifts with little sleeping time. [/intro] It started so small. Markus Persson did not even know whether his game was going to become … Continue reading “Review: Minecraft”

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Minecraft started as a game known to only a few, developed by a indie developer, a person like you and me, written in the early or late hours after and between workshifts with little sleeping time.

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It started so small. Markus Persson did not even know whether his game was going to become a hit or just a game he and some friends perhaps would enjoy playing. This is how most programmers work, they start, if they aren’t already part of some big company, working on their own little or big projects and hope to have at least some fun for themselves or with some friends together. Making millions with it? Having loads of players? Starting a company for it and stopping with your main job to devote your time to this project? That are usually things developers can only dream about. And then there are these little successes beyond these many indie developers. Minecraft is one of them. Minecraft became very popular in a very short time, perhaps due to Twitter, but mostly because the concept was so interesting and new, in a way.
Minecraft wasn’t entirely a new concept either, there have been a few games before it that were simmilarily but not designed to play together or to be very creative in.

Minecraft is a very diverse game.
You can play it in two modes:
– adventure mode and
– creative mode.

A normal game in adventure mode is as follows:
You arrive in a fully generated world with sand, sea, beaches, forests, grasslands, swamps, snowlands and yes even tropical forests and you are there to survive without having ANYTHING with you, except for your body, a backpack for some items and a 4 by 4 squares crafting table. It’s survival for the fittest, because at night the creatures will come out of their hiding places and might you come across them, they will certainly try to kill you (to eat you for survival ofcourse!). What creatures you ask? Well apart from bugs and spiders, there are also zombies, skeletons, Endermen and so called Creepers. Zombies and skeletons and Endermen are already fantasy I suppose but Creepers even more so as they will explode after a couple of hissing warnings on your location, blowing you up and a part of the world they are standing upon!
So what do you do than, when you arrive? Well you make as soon as possible a first house or hut or hiding place. To get away from all these nasty creatures.

If you got yourself close to a forest you are in luck, just start punching that tree over there with your hands (ouch!) and get yourself some wood. With the wood and your personal 4 by 4 crafting table you will be able to create some wooden planks to build a house with. How you build? Well you place these wooden blocks or wooden planks on the ground.

In creative mode you have an inventory full of all the possible items and blocks and can while running or flying through the world, create your own creations without having to gather the materials first. Also in creative mode the monsters and animals are usually switched off.

The controls in the game are very easy to understand. The crafting part was actually much more difficult, because there is no tutorial in the game on how to create your first woodplanks, crafting table or tools. You will have to trial and error or just look it up on the MineCraft Wiki, which was then also my first resource for this.

After the game got more populair, groups of people started to make modifications (mods) and custom servers with plugin availability so that they could create their own configurations and specific needs for their adventure. The server of minecraft made it possible to play together with several friends and create buildings or survive the next zombie invasion.

On the website of minecraft.net you can also change/upload your character texture. Lots of websites give users the possibility to either design this texture or to download popular ones. Also people managed to make texturepacks that are easy to install to your game, showing you better graphics under play.

Because of its success, Markus decided to hire several people and make a company called Mojang for this game and future projects. MineCraft was officially launched November 18, 2011 at MineCon 2011. with a big party. After it’s launch Markus Persson stepped down from leading the MineCraft team to join as a creative director and programmer on new projects, while Jeb became the new leader and main programmer for it.

Last week MineCraft got launched for Xbox360 which has already sold over 1 million copies and is promising to be a large success aswell. The version released for Xbox360 is a little older currently, but will also get promising new free updates over the coming months. MineCraft has also been released for iOS and Android in a pocket edition.

MineCraft is continiously updated with new patches. On their website, you can play the free classic version, as well as buy the full version.

The Game Mistress

Evil is back…

[intro]Yes and so it was silent for a bit until.. evil got back![/intro] On monday evening we had to test Guild Wars 2 under a server stress test. The same evening at 00:01, so actually at Tuesday early morning, Blizzard released Diablo III in their Diablo series, 12 years after Diablo II. Well glad we … Continue reading “Evil is back…”

[intro]Yes and so it was silent for a bit until.. evil got back![/intro]

On monday evening we had to test Guild Wars 2 under a server stress test. The same evening at 00:01, so actually at Tuesday early morning, Blizzard released Diablo III in their Diablo series, 12 years after Diablo II. Well glad we are back!

On launch, no one could login until much later (an hour or so). Problems with overcapacity on the authentication servers, a logical thing to happen when thousands of players all want to get in at the same time. Later in the day things got better, but the servers are still peaking capacity at times, even now a day later. This will improve over time by both that less people will login on the same time and that Blizzard continuously works on server capacity by placing more servers. The strange thing is, this is a solo game, so why do we have to login???

Diablo III feels more user friendly than the previous games. Menus are clear and buttons have good descriptions. Tooltips are everywhere explaining you about each functionality in the game, tutorials tell you what to do when something new happens (level up for example) and generally has the graphical user interface design been simplified. This also means that the game sometimes can feel like it’s simpler, but after a while things get harder in the game. Ofcourse I cannot tell you too much yet, as I didn’t play the whole game out yet. The game has beautiful graphics, which can be a little harsh resources on low-end machines.

Diablo III comes with five different classes (the barbarian, the wizard, witch doctor, demon hunter and monk), loads of different monsters to slay and items to find. The game also sees the return of the gems. As I said before, the game feels greatly simplified: runes no longer need to be crafted through the cube, but are activating by level automatically and are pre defined per class, they can though be chosen to be applied to a skill or not. Skills are also simply unlocked by level, but you choose yourself which one you use for your hotbars and can also eventually define yourself on mousebuttons and keyboard keys.

At a later point in the first act you will meet an Artisan that can help you craft weapons and armour, which is a nice addition to the game. Better items can be acquired by rare ingredients and a higher Artisan level (the NPC).

Skills menu and character and inventory have also been simplified.. no longer do you need to choose your stats well or find the right order in your skill tree. This is perhaps nice for casual players, but not so for the hardcore gamers that want to fully customize their characters.

With the addition of achievements and certain combat combo’s the combat seems definitely more fun. Kill for example 10 skeletons at once or within a few seconds and you will receive some bonus XP for a massacre. That is.. as long as they work. Currently, right after release, some of the achievements (that unlock banners and just give you achievement points) are not triggering correctly or simply not showing to be unlocked. This is something Blizzard is working on and they will probably hotfix the game soon.

Sofar I haven’t seen mana potions, rejuvenation potions (perhaps these exist still though), nor do we have a cube, nor do we have stamina, but yes that were all Diablo II trademarks and perhaps I should just move on and get used to the new Diablo. PvP is no longer part of the game you are playing but has gotten a special PvP Arena category, I haven’t seen this yet, but I am neither really interested in it.

The auction house is a different approach to the trading that we had in Diablo II, perhaps also much more secure this way (remember the dupe hacks?), they most definitely took this idea from their MMO World of Warcraft. Items can be bought or bid on with ingame gold, in a week or two the real money auction house will also unlock, meaning we can sell and buy items(?) and perhaps even gold.. for real dollars/euros/kroners… or perhaps its going to be the channel for vendoring vanity items to us players from Blizzard out.

The social chat system is now integrated with the new Battle.net meaning battle tags, your friends list you already had from previous Blizzard games and so on.

As for multiplayer.. I cannot say I am very happy with it. As soon as I share a game with one of my friends, suddenly all my friends (or perhaps all people on Diablo III) can see my game(!) as if it was suddenly a public game. This means that suddenly 3 others have joined your game that you weren’t interesting to be playing with and that they could also ruin your quest progress.. they unlock suddenly quests that you weren’t on yet and so on.. this by the way was also a problem in Diablo II but there you had at least the option to put a name and password on your game. Perhaps its a bug, but it is highly annoying for now. Some players have reported to play only single player for now because of this ‘problem’.

If you are playing alone or with two, you get every now and then NPC’s that will follow you and join you during their quest. This is a very nice addition for the harder type of quests when you aren’t playing with friends. When you do play with others these NPC’s stay behind in town.

Sofar the game seems okay to me. Perhaps we can discuss whether the storyline is any good, but I will let you find out about that yourself!

Keep on playing and never give up!

The Game Mistress

Starting this week

[intro] I am currently writing a review for Minecraft, but because that is still “in progress” I will instead do some other announcements for today’s blog. [/intro] So this weekends beta for The Secret World is (nearly) over, I believe they have to do rather a lot still before they launch that game. Tomorrow is … Continue reading “Starting this week”

[intro]
I am currently writing a review for Minecraft, but because that is still “in progress” I will instead do some other announcements for today’s blog.

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So this weekends beta for The Secret World is (nearly) over, I believe they have to do rather a lot still before they launch that game. Tomorrow is the next beta to play, well not really play I am afraid. ArenaNet is arranging a stress test on Monday, the sole purpose is to overload the server until it *pops* and that probably a couple of times. I am wondering on which areas they are doing this, but my general feeling is that this will be on the following areas:

– how many players on one server?
– How many players can login to the authentication servers at the same time? aswell as create a character?
– How many players will be able to play in one area. With this last one I would suggest them to test the World vs World PvP as it was supposed to handle thousands (1000s) of players simultaniously.

Nonetheless they say they are going to stress test on those areas that were a problem in the previous closed beta test weekend:

“This special test event is open only to Pre-Purchase customers who have registered their accounts. With your help, we can conduct important tests and address some of the issues we identified during our first Beta Weekend Event. During this event, all you need to do is play normally with a new or existing character on your Beta account using the same game client. Please note that since this is a stress test of our servers, you may experience some in-game performance issues.”

The beta takes place between 8pm GMT+2 and 3am Tuesday GMT+2.

Apparantly today also a new facebook game got launched as I got an announcement about it while playing Ravenwood Fair and Ravenskye City, named: Ravenwood Castle. The game seems to be combining two games into a half RPG game, but is still using the old principle of collecting, gathering and quest completing. These games are though very populair on facebook. I am still wondering how many of the playing people actually do make facebook micropayment transactions for ingame shopping on items to complete quests in this type of games. Most likely enough to keep a game running.

We also have some great plans for both the blog and facebook… and tomorrow a review on MineCraft.

Stay tuned!

The Game Mistress

The Secret World – Beta Weekend

[intro] As promised i would write a preview of the latest game the secret world, well my dear gamers here it is. [/intro] Gameplay The secret world is a dark fantasy / horror MMO which is based upon the urban legends on planet earth. They have removed the traditional level system and classes. Instead we … Continue reading “The Secret World – Beta Weekend”

[intro]
As promised i would write a preview of the latest game the secret world, well my dear gamers here it is.

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Gameplay

The secret world is a dark fantasy / horror MMO which is based upon the urban legends on planet earth. They have removed the traditional level system and classes. Instead we are all give the freedom of choice, every weapon and ability is available to us; you level up in the skills or weapons you use.
Now there is a deck system that allows you to make your choice a bit easier if you don’t know what way to go.

So far the story and its quest line (also tutorial) worked out very well. The setting is rather grim, but had some interesting twists. I will not say more about this as that would be a spoiler, but I do think they put a lot of time into the depth of the game here. Also the game mechanics were very interesting.

Since this is a beta I didn’t expect this game to be perfect, but I can safely say that there is a lot of work still that needs to be done before they release the game. This includes a better user interface, all game breaking bugs (such as the keyboard that suddenly stops working in the game or a non-working /stuck) and a lot of client issues.

Graphics

The graphics are well made in The Secret World; the areas are beautifully rendered, while character animation is limited. Characters feel like they aren’t much alive and don’t seem to fit in the environment. Advanced techniques such as facial emotes aren’t included. Also the diversity at character creation is minimal. But as this is a beta, it’s very good possible that these will still come.

Music
At this beta weekend only 2 areas were open for play. This gives of course a very limited view of the game, but music was for these areas (London and Kingsmouth) at least very enjoyable and diverse and fit well in with its environment.

Bugs

A long list of known bugs was published on the forums before start. Ofcourse there were more bugs than that list. Sofar I found two bugs, one had to do with the keyboard not working anymore after a while. Restarting the client was my only solution. The other problem occured when I wanted to use my portal stone in my inventory to get back to the main portal world. But… this is a beta test afterall and beta tests are supposed to have bugs.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more!

The Game Mistress

Monthly feature

[intro] A pick of games that arrive monthly! [/intro] Hello fellow gamers! I have decided that monthly I will announce all the big hits that will arrive. May it be game releases, consoles or beta events! Now let’s take a good look what may 2012 will bring us! Game releases: Mai 2012 Battleship Diablo 3 … Continue reading “Monthly feature”

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A pick of games that arrive monthly!

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Hello fellow gamers!
I have decided that monthly I will announce all the big hits that will arrive. May it be game releases, consoles or beta events! Now let’s take a good look what may 2012 will bring us!

Game releases: Mai 2012

Battleship
Diablo 3
Dirt Showdown
Dragons Dogma
Game of Thrones
Lego batman 2: DC super heroes
Max Payne 3
Mario tennis open
Men in black: alien crisis
Rollercoaster tycoon 3d
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Minecraft (Xbox 360)
Starhawk
Sorcery
Street Fighter X Tekken
Sonic 4
Tera
The Binding of Isaac: the Wrath of the Lamb
Tom Clancy’s Ghost reckon: Future soldier

Beta events:

Guild Wars 2
The Secret World