For the last several years now, my friends and I have gathered on Monday nights to play a rich cornucopia of computer games. Often just one a night, but we made sure to play a number of them over the course of weeks and months.
The games we have selected over the past years have been either some form of a MMO or a turn based strategy games. The first sort of game doesn’t necessarily require playing on a LAN (and in some cases bridged to the web for authentication) but we find it so much more fun to sit in the same room. Many can argue that with headphones and mic, one could get the same camaraderie even if we were scattered around the world. More than likely, but we still find the proximity of friends in the same room to be so gratifying — mostly when one of us takes a head plunge into foolish maneuvers or some other deadly recourse.
So a thought occurred to me that why not document our weekly gathering for others to learn the sorts of fun we are having and also to historically document the games we played and the troubles. In the past I have simply posted a running dialogue of the dates, times, and game events we have had. Rather frequently from now on, I will detail a bit more specifically what sorts of things that are going on and who is at the engagements.
Our group is not particularly large, most often just three of us and sometimes only two. On some rather exciting occasions we do get a few more guys in the group, but then the application of power for the computers and sitting room for their rumps can be a bit daunting. On even some more rare occasions we have actually joined a few friends from the web into our mix of onsite players, which can be interesting too.
This week we started out with arguing which game we were going to play. A friend brought over “Settlers of America: CATAN” but we agreed that until all of us had a chance to read the rules that it would not be a great idea to play. CATAN is also not a computer game but a board game, and there are a few of us here that would rather play something on a screen than on a table (not me, but at least one fool which will remain nameless).
Our second choice of games to play was Drakensang Online a new Diablo II clone with tendrils of MMO style of gaming. You can find the game at: http://www.drakensang.com/
The game is very easy to play with nothing more than creating an account with a username, password, and a few demographic bits of information. The initial download is also very small at under 30 megabytes — it is somewhat unknown if the game is a browser based game or if it is a more traditional locally installed client game. I suspect it is an amalgamation of the two. Very low overhead and quick entry into the game makes it a jewel to play.
Even some of the older machines handled the game rather well, but we had to scale back a few graphical choices. It did get laggy at times, but overall a pleasant experience.
The game presently has three classes to choose from and can be played either as a man or woman, though the choice of model has no bearing on the game play. There is no non-human races to play, such as elves or dwarves. There is also an indication that a fourth class would soon be released — I suspect a full scale cleric. The other classes are a warrior, mage, and a archer type (called a ranger).
Game play is very similar to Diablo II with your fingers quickly becoming sore from the clicking. It achieves nearly the same goals as the earlier mega popular game of Diablo, but just falls a bit short on some graphical and gaming aspects.
The largest problem my friends and I have with it is that it is again another cash shop game where everything is up for sale. You can gain some of the in game cash on mobs, but very miniscule. Most of this money, which is called armadent (or something close to that) is purchased with real money. All sorts of weapons, armors, and upgrades can be purchased with this cash, which for me cheapens the overall experience.
We played to level 6 in the game which took us a bit over an hour. We were grouped for most of the time and did not interact with the other online players we saw. There was a wide range of interesting character names and styles, and just like other online free to play games hundred of idiots with uncreative and just stupid names running around begging and pleading for assistance.
After flailing around in Darkensang for a bit over an hour, the real gaming started when another friend showed up and we all agreed to play some City of Heroes. At this time, this is our main stable game — each of us having a slew of different characters in play.
Most of my friends have 20 and 30th level characters, but mine are much lower levels often in the teens. I have been playing EVE online for the last two months and wasn’t playing City of Heroes like the others. I also find I cannot play long sessions of this game by myself because without friends to heckle and cajole it isn’t an attention getter for me.
We started out the night with my character named Rocket Ranger, a small diminutive fugitive of the law that can fly and has augmented fists of power, another player had a character named Jailbreaker with powers of modified guns and mechanical tricks, a third guy rounded out the group with a name of RUTO which he claimed stood for something. Most everyone there agreed it stood for stupid! He was supposed to be our healer but he was a clutz and failed miserably. Finally we had a guy called Super Nova which flew and had fireball super powers.
We ran through several missions with these guys and generally made out well. I went up three levels and added several new powers to my line up of capabilities — I got a new hand to hand attack and also augmented several super powers with slots.
Next we got some new guys out. I selected a super villain that I called IQ-9 that had robotic pets and he could wield a large phaser. Another friend had a cute but essentially ineffective Leprechaun, and another played a multi-tentacled tank that could effectively hold the line with NPC monsters
[in this picture, poor IQ-9 is laying face down in a evil secret base after being knocked out. The healer failed again]
Having leveled IQ-9 a couple of levels and adding an additional power of another robotic ally to his abilities, we switched again to another set of guys.
My final guy for the night was Doctor CloudStuff, a super villain of steampunk motif and the super powers of healing. Others in the group was a guy named Toxic Joe which was a brawler with caustic and poison powers. We also had some miserable little female cricket character that could summon weather and controlled pets.
Doctor Cloudstuff again gained three levels and augmented his powers by adding a classic steampunk cannon to his arsenal.
At the end of the night, everyone agreed we had a great time and we all went home smiling. Next week I am sure we will continue our battles in City of Heroes.