Bordinar’s Cleft

The first of many from Todd Masten’s great Vanguard soundtrack, and one of my personal favorites.

Expect to see a few of these over the coming weeks.

Ardwulf Plays: EverQuest II

My current front-burner project (in my copious free time ha ha) is a Let’s Play run at EverQuest II. I’d been waiting for ages for character slots to go on sale, and they finally did (all September.) So I bought several and finally got to start a new character.

The new character is a Wood Elf Fury, starting in the Greater Faydark zone. The plan is to get that zone finished and then move on to the next zone, but with a different character. I have the first two episodes up, embedded below. After various rendering and uploading difficulties. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Fixed the embed on the second vid. Byproduct of a failed upload.

EverQuest Next Revealed and Why You Should Pay Attention

It seemed to me that with all the EQNext news and excitement that I should do a video. So here it is. This is something different from my usual style of video where I just sit and play and ramble. Much more work, what with scripting and editing and all that. But I think it turned out fairly well.

Neverwinter’s Neverdeath Graveyard

One of these days I will try to clarify exactly what Ardwulf Presents is supposed to be; either quick overviews, feature showcases, or playalongs. But not today.

Here we have a look at Neverwinter’s Neverdeath Graveyard, a zone you’ll hit in the high 20s. Still having fun with the game, although the desire to make videos about it is actually throttling my progress.

Neverwinter Day 3 Vids

The Neverwinter servers may still be down, but yuou can get more goodies right here! This time around we take a look at the game’s first group dungeon, the Cloak Tower, and have a crack at Foundry content for the first time.

A Hint of Custom Ship Colors in EVE?

The video embedded below is about two months old now, and is part of CCP’s promotion for the Inferno expansion, parts of which have been live for a month or so. It’s the kind of graphical improvement that CCP has been doing for some time; in this example the Angel (and NPC faction) ships are being reskinned. The video’s only about a minute long, so have a look in HD:

Now, the new look is an improvement, but it’s not as through anything in EVE really looks shabby anyway. So yay, but not something to get terribly excited about. But here’s the interesting thing: the new skin includes both some kind of space camouflage pattern (the idea of which is weird, but it looks nice here,) as well as the logo of the Angel faction. Is this the first concrete inkling that we’ve seen of corp logos for player ships? And maybe the first glimpse of the technology to allow player ships to have custom paint jobs, a feature long said to be in the works?

One Last, and One More

I’ve been having trouble on the video front of late; my hour-long kickoff to the Vanguard Let’s Play series failed to render more than once, and I’ve been having trouble owing to limited upload bandwidth with uploads failing after 6+ hours of wasted time. So even though I have a few vids in the can already, I’m still pushing them out.

First up this week is, I promise, the very last pre-launch Guild Wars 2 video that I’ll be doing. Headstart begins tonight some time around midnight… possibly as late as 3 AM even of everything goes smoothly. Finally, working the night shift is good for something, as I can plan to be awake for the first hours of real play. The vid is my first (filmed) and longest look at the Charr starter instance and low-level zone, the Plains of Ashford. I do have a Charr character planned, but likely won’t play him right away — I’ll be doing the Norn first.

Up next is the new Vanguard Let’s Play, continuing on the Isle of Dawn with the Crafting questline. I have one more of these ready to go and should have it posted some time next week. It is very unlikely I will make another video before next weekend, but when I do I’ll try to knock a couple of them out.

Word From the Vanguard Devs and Play From the Isle of Dawn

The new episode of Ardwulf Presents is up and available: Part 2 of my Let’s Play from the Isle of Dawn. The hour-long first episode proved pretty unweildy when it came to rendering and uploading, so I’m shooting for 30 minutes or a little less for the rest; I hope to have Part 3 available by Tuesday morning and to get to either Crafting or Diplomacy in it.

In further Vanguard news, there’s an interesting thread over of the game’s forums where lead developer “Silius” Grant talks a bit about what’s planned moving forward. Right now, plans are still in flux but what’s on the table includes:

  • A small content update hitting in the next couple of weeks, featuring a new overland raid and “A new system that will benefit everyone and reinforce the idea of exploration in Telon.” No clue what this latter might be.
  • Work on the next big update, City of Brass, has started. As I recall some work had already been done in the past, so this is presumably a resumption.
  • More items should be showing up in the marketplace.
  • Initial planning on the next big dungeon after CoB is underway. This place is not Stirrhad, the Nexus or the Cave of Wonders. The first two, when they do get worked on, will be a mix of group and raid content; the last may be 100% raid.
  • The general priority is to utilize parts of the world that are currently empty before adding any wholly new areas. Which is cool by me — it’s not like there isn’t plenty of space.

A F2P Addendum and an Extended Look at Early Vanguard Gameplay

First up, we have a brief (for a change) addendum to the last epsiode concerning Vangurd’s free-to-play transition, with a couple of clarifications and corrections.

For today’s more substantial second course, I keep promising a look at Vanguard’s actual gameplay, and here it is — an hour-long look at one of the four current starter areas, the Isle of Dawn, on a free account.

I plan to do at least another video or two to follow up on this last one, which hopefully will make it up by early next week. After that, expect some Guild Wars 2 vids from me after the headstart begins.

Mists of Pandaria Cinematic Trailer Hits, Deemed Irrelevant

As of today the Mists of Pandaria cinematic trailer is up for perusal on YouTube. As such things go (I like to try to judge these things as short films in their own right,) it’s very nicely done. But I doubt it will change anyone’s mind.

WoW is starting to slide in a big way, losing another million players last quarter alone, and the launch of Guild Wars 2 in under two weeks is going to hurt it some more. But not permanently, I think — many of WoW’s players will dutifully return to check the expansion out. The real issue is Blizzard’s own complacency that has slowly chipped away at player confidence and enthusiasm; the content updates for a game which is starved for new content designed to be digested by players in mere days come less and less frequently, and the expansions have gotten less and less ambitious even while they really didn’t add much to gameplay and while other gameplay elements have gradually been backed out of the game. It’s a leaner, shallower game than the game that put Blizzard on top of this market in the first place. I can’t see any alternative to the notion that this is a game on the verge of life support, with Blizzard trying to squeeze out maximal revenue for minimal investment while the party lasts. That’s a valid strategy from a business standpoint, but it’s clear that Blizzard doesn’t believe in this product any more.

As for me, I have a vague intention of checking the expansion out at some point, but certainly not when it launches at full price — and given how historically sluggish Blizzard has been at lowering the price of aging products, I’m not motivated to do so any time soon… maybe next summer or something. But given how fast the market is evolving, with almost everything no longer requiring a subscription, and with numerous entries even within the same fantasy themepark niche offering more features, greater depth and in some cases comparable polish, I can’t see any reason to do more than step in for a month or so. For different reasons, games like Rift and EVE Online are more attractive for a subscription price, and titles like GW2, LotRO, EverQuest2 and Vanguard offer more for (potentially) less money. Even The Secret World at least offers novelty when compared against a contracting game that we have probably all played more than enough of, and to which nothing really new or appealing is being added with this expansion. Unless you have a thing for Pandas in particular.