Posted inGames / WTF?

Munchhausen by Internet

When I first read this blog post early this week, I felt like crying. It describes a group of online gamers who encountered what seemed to be a heart-breaking story…

About halfway through the instance, our new friend says that she is sorry but will have to go AFK because the “doctor has come to my room”. … After the run, one of our group members (and our kin leader) continues a private conversation with her and learns that she is 20 years old, her mother died when she was young, her father is not involved in her life, she has no other close friends or family, and is a hospice patient with Stage 4 bone cancer.  Her doctor tells her that she has maybe two months left. …

… Now, let me confess something right now.  Although I am not proud of the fact, I am quite often cynical of new people, particularly those with hard-luck stories.  Surely, someone wouldn’t lie about something as grave as this.

Unfortunately, it turns out that this is exactly what happened in this case…

UPDATE 06/23/09:

Good news and bad news.  The good news is “Gynnie” didn’t die after all.  The bad news is my cynicism about people has again been vindicated.  …  Therefore I have removed all references to her from this blog post.  I have chosen to leave this blog post largely intact because it’s purpose is to chronicle my adventures in LOTRO, and that means both good and bad.

Munchhausen by Internet is a type of disorder where a sufferer fakes an illness while participating in an online community to gain attention and sympathy.

I hope the person who perpetrated this particular fraud gets help, if that’s what they need. (Or gets the snot kicked out of them if they do this just for kicks. Karma’s a bitch.)

However, I think the blog’s author and the other members of his player guild seem to have handled this disturbing situation with a great deal of grace and class. Grats!

Posted inGames

Alice and Kev – Virtually homeless in The Sims 3

I’ve never played any of the games from The Sims franchise, but I’ll be closely following the adventures chronicled on the Alice and Kev blog from now on…

Welcome to the tale of Alice and Kev.

This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes.

Kev is a crazy, mean-spirited S.O.B. who’s only goal in life is to get laid, and make life miserable for his daughter. Alice is Kev’s sweet young daughter just trying to survive, and maybe even thrive occasionally, in her hopeless circumstances.

The simple way their story is told is somehow more compelling than most of the over-wrought, over-dramatic, just-as-unreal crap I’ve been watching on TV and movie screens lately. The blog also provides links to real-world charities helping the homeless.

Posted inComics / Games / Movies


News overload in the past day or two…

It’s a good time to be a geek! :-D

Posted inGames

Calling All Champions!

Champions Online is the superhero MMO that Cryptic Studios is doing instead of Marvel Universe Online.

Champions Online

And based on everything I’ve read so far, I couldn’t be happier. Highlights include…

  • Hi-Octane Excitement: No more boring auto attacks and lengthy recharge times. Champions Online combat is instantaneous — and electrifying!
  • Total customization: Choose from hundreds of different costume pieces, colors and body types to create your character’s one-of-a-kind costume and look.
  • Keep your enemies close: Every hero must have an archenemy. Design your character’s supreme adversary, choosing a name, powers and costume for a superpowered foe to bedevil your hero throughout his or her career.
  • Endless exploration: The battle against evil rages across the world into outer space and alternate dimensions.
  • Make your mark: The story of Champions Online is constantly changing, continually evolving. Villains are defeated. Heroes rise and fall. Cities transform. Your actions may decide the future!

The trailer doesn’t show a whole lot so far, but I am kinda digging the pseudo-cell shading effect…

Marvel who? ;-)

Posted inGames

Marvel Universe Offline

After months of rumors, Microsoft has finally confirmed the cancellation of the Marvel Universe Online MMO…

“If you really look at the data there’s basically one [MMO] that’s successful and everything else wouldn’t meet our level or definition of commercial success,” he said. “And then you have to look [and say]: ‘Can we change the business model for that? Is that really viable given how far we are in development? And so forth. Does Marvel want to do that?’ There’s a whole bunch of factors [in canceling the game].”

So basically, they were intimidated by World of Warcraft and didn’t feel that they would be able to replicate its success (or profits). And they’re probably right.

I just wish they weren’t so short-sighted. Trying to buy WoW-like success is definitely not a winning strategy, but innovative (and fun, of course) gameplay alongside superhero legends like Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and the rest of the Marvel line-up would draw a dedicated (possibly rabid) subscriber base and make a decent amount of cash for Marvel and company.

Hopefully, the DC MMO will come to a more satisfying finale.

Posted inGames

The Agency

How cool does this look? …

The game is called The Agency from Sony.

The Agency is an intense action shooter set in a high tech world that lies just around the corner. Live the life of an elite agent in a persistent online world of super spies and rugged mercenaries, who use both the highest technology and the lowest tactics to accomplish their goals. Featuring cooperative and competitive play, The Agency is designed to provide instant action and long term strategy for all fans of espionage, intrigue, and explosive gameplay.

In other words, 24 meets Alias meets Counterstrike. Sign me up!

Posted inGames


As defined by Wikipedia:

ding - Jargon for advancing a level in many video games, particularly of the role-playing genre. It originates from Everquest as there was a "Ding" sound when you leveled up.

Why do you care? (Well honestly, you probably don’t. ;-))

That’s right, read it and weep, n00bs! It took a while, but I finally overcame my natural gaming attention deficit disorder and played one game long enough to reach the level cap. Yay me!

Here’s a screenshot of the actual Ding moment (click to bigify)…

Lord of the Rings Online

The game is Lord of the Rings Online (blogged previously here and here), and it’s far from over despite the level cap. There’s lots of high-level content to see and phat loot to acquire. The beauty of LotRO is that there’s a ton of Middle Earth left for the developers to add to the game in the form of free updates, and eventually a paid expansion or two. (I can’t wait to explore Moria!)

That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to other games, but Lord of the Rings Online will be my home (literally) for some time to come.

p.s. In LotRO the level up sound effect is actually closer to a “whoosh” than “ding”.

p.p.s. In the interest of full disclosure, I was the last of my regular gaming group to level up. However, I contend that they cheated… How dare they continue playing when I’m lazy and/or not in the mood! :-P

Posted inGames / On The Web

I Never Metaplace I Didn’t Like

MetaplaceRaph Koster is a game designer known for his work as the lead designer of Ultima Online and the creative director behind Star Wars Galaxies.

A little more than a year ago, Raph started a new company named Areae, which has been feverishly working on a super-secret MMO-related project. Today was finally the official unveiling of Raph’s project, called Metaplace.

Metaplace allows anyone to build their own virtual spaces and treat them just like any other Web site. You can build chat rooms, store-fronts, online apartments, and all kinds of homebrewed games and attach them easily to your blog or MySpace page. Areae is even building their own full-blown MMO using the Metaplace tools.

From the FAQ…

Can I make my own world?

That’s sort of the whole point. You should be able to stage up a massively multiplayer world with basic chat and a map you can build on in less than five minutes. It’s that easy. Inherit a stylesheet — puzzle game, or shooter, or chat world — and off you go! Building maps and places is as easy as pasting in links from the Web, and dragging and dropping the pictures into your world.

Of course, as with any Web 2.0-ish social experiment where users generate most or all of the content, 90% of the resulting product will be complete crap.

<cough>MySpace<cough> <cough>YouTube<cough>

Uh, sorry about that. Of course, that also means that 10% is pretty good stuff. If Metaplace really is as easy as they make it sound, it should be extremely interesting to see what kind of cool stuff we end up with…