Game of Thrones in Diablo III!

With Game of Thrones Season 6 out at pretty much the same time Diablo III Seasion VI is released, I have been following both of them.

That pretty much means that I have been reading up on lore for both the game and the series. So, it came as a pleasant surprise when I saw a reference to Gregory Clegane from Game of Thrones in Diablo.

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Path of Exile the right way to design a MMO

Back in 2010, when I was hankering for a Diablo clone, I tried out a lot of games … Torchlight, Guildwars, World of Warcraft, Borderlands, Fortune Online, Path of Exile (it was still in beta), Deus Ex, The Elder Scrolls series and finally found some solace in Rise of Nations. As someone who had spent the better part of his undergrad days playing Diablo II and its expansion, I always have a fond memories for this series.

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The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Invite

The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Launcher

When Zenimax and Bethesda Studios announced the making of The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) MMORPG, I was thrilled!! Having played Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim … I am completely familiar with the TES Lore. The one pet peeve (which almost all TES players would agree) was the fact that none of the games hitherto did not have multi-player support.

Multi-player Support

Multi-player is not a health factor in making a game famous … Skyrim has already taught us that. However the way the games industry is evolving, it makes sense to make the game multi-player and evolve the game over a period of time. A good example of this is World of Warcraft. I keep coming back to this game because it is by far the highest revenue grossing MMORPG out there. It is true that even WoW is loosing subscribers to the other games out there … but this is the only other game which has successfully shown that a 15 USD per month subscription can work.

The Elder Scrolls Online is also structured around the same subscription concept. If you want to play, you have to pay.

Does a Payment Subscription work?

A payment subscription is not something many gamers like shelling out. Having played World of Warcraft for more than a year, I stopped playing the day I realized that I had spent well over 50,000 INR in subscription and upgrades. However, the effort and content that needs to be put in to make this work is huge. Many have tried and failed at making their games a paid subscription. The most notable among this would be the Star Wars MMO, which started off as a paid subscription but did not gather enough users … to attract more users they eventually changed their model to a free to play + pay 2 win.

Many game critiques have already declared this game as 2014’s game disaster, not only because of the payment subscription model but also because of the huge budget that both the companies have declared.

Time will tell

There will be people who will make predictions … yes it will be a huge success, no it will be a trouncing failure. When the dust settles, one of these parties will say … see, we told you so! We said it first.

However, for now instead of making forecasts, I would rather focus on getting into the Beta this weekend. The amount of hype generated this weekend will help in understanding whether people are willing to give more attention to this game and whether TESO can reach mainstream adoption rates … just the way Skyrim did.

DOTA 2

For Warcraft fans (the Strategy game, not the MMORPG), the game is a hallmark for many things. Among them being the origin for multiple different genres of games – including World of Warcraft and DOTA 2. DOTA 2 is the sequel of the most popular Defence of the Ancients (DOTA) mod of the game Warcraft III: Frozen Throne. What started off as a difficult last scenario in the campaign, has now ended up being a whole new game itself.

The Real Time Strategy (RTS) game was soon converted into a Multiplayer Team Sport, where 2 teams of 5 players each battled in an arena for the destruction of each other home cities.

Fundamentally, the concept sounds simple and it’s often that the simple thing becomes so popular. But think again, this simplistic goal of destroying the opponents capital becomes more complex when you have a wide array of characters to choose from, and an even wider array of weapons to wield. Let’s not get into that so early in this post shall we? Perhaps a different post is required for this …eh?

Each battle lasts for around 30-40 minutes and is the perfect mix for multi-player sessions across the world. Currently the game is in beta stage and at any point in time you will find at least 200,000 … if you are lucky enough then your application for getting a beta invite might even be accepted.

As I say this I have 10 invites for the game lying with me!! The first 10 comments asking for an invite get them!

Fallen Enchantress

What happens when you mix a Strategy Game like Civilization with a Real Time Strategy game like Rise of Nations?

Easy enough, you get a game such as Rome: Total War.

What happens when you take that mix and add a little bit of Role Playing Game to it?

Cat got your tongue?

Well that’s precisely what Stardock Entertainment did. It’s a heady mix where a lot of things can go wrong. But done right, it can be very entertaining.

In the past we have seen a mixture of classic genres … there was Warcraft 3 with a mix of RPG and RTS (the expansion of Warcraft 3, Frozen Throne went on to give the folks at Blizzard a killer idea of what would go on to make the successful MMORPG seriers – World of Warcraft). Enough talking about Blizzard … for now. We are here for Stardock and yes, the Fallen Enchantress.

In 2010, Stardock had released a game on similar lines – Elemental: War of Magic … and it was plagued with glitches, bugs and bad gameplay. So much so that, Stardock has offered this game as a compensation to the people who had bought the earlier game (tis’ a bit late, but it’s the thought that counts!).

The game took some time figuring out. In fact, I think I suck at Civ-type games (because I generally do not follow the optimal scheme of things). However, I do enjoy the grind, loot and crawl of RPGs. So most of the time I ended up soloing with my sovereign. The game is pretty enjoyable, but the player really really needs to strike a balance between gallivanting on adventures and lore and managing a kingdom.

IMO, that’s the key to playing the entire game. For those of you interested in purchasing the game, its available on Steam for USD 40. A good way to waste a Sunday!

Torchlight 2

I had started playing Torchlight back in 2010, when Blizzard was sitting mum about Diablo III. During those days, there was a huge gap in the RPG space … a gap that needed to be filled with different Diablo clones. A gap which was completely satisfied by Torchlight.

So with the impending delay in the release of Diablo III (as always with Blizzard and their releases), I was glad for the release of Torchlight 2.

Unlike it’s predecessor, Torchlight 2 is not only restricted to the city of Torchlight and the many dungeons underneath. It’s not your classic dungeon crawl, but instead it features an open world, where the adventurer can stumble upon other random dungeons for additional loot.

estherian enclave

Torchlight 2 takes off right where Torchlight stopped. The plot picks up from the pace and throws you, the adventurer right in the middle of the story. The Alchemist (supposedly one of the heroes from the earlier series), has been infected by the ember and is trying to end all sources of ember in order to stop his infection. Our job is to stop the Alchemist and his nefarious plans.

The good part about Torchlight 2 is that the game play which we all loved has been retained. The awesome part is that the classes have been streamlined into four different classes – the melee Berserker who relies on Dexterity as a main stat, the melee Engineer who relies on Strength as a main stat, the ranged Outlander who relies on Dexterity as a main stat and the ranged Embermage who relies on Focus as the main stat. I am using the term main stat only loosely here, since all the different stats have different uses for all 4 classes.

berserker critical
A berserker scores a crit

What I liked about the classes, is that all four have distinctly different game playing styles. The trees and skill differences are also so distinct that it sets each variation apart.

That apart, the game can be played solo, on a lan or on the internet. All you need is a login with Runic Games. I have not really tried my hand with multi-player on this one yet, since I always (ALWAYS) like to finish the game first on solo and then go for the different variations.

Believe me, right now I am having much more fun than grinding/farming the different Acts in Diablo III. That’s a huge plus!!