For myself, I've been continuing to play EQ2, though unfortunately without my usual adventuring partner Voltaan. Adurj (who plays the big barbarian bruiser) has been having serious internet issues, culminating in his phone line going down completely. It looks like he may even be out of action until September, thanks to the fine folks at Telefonica's technical department. You can follow his travails (including a humourous telephone conversation with Telefonica's "customer service" department) here and here.
So I've been carrying on with a few of my heroic quests, but if Volt doesn't turn up soon I think I'll have to unlock my level and head off to Kunark to start running through some of the solo timelines there. That's not too much of a problem though as I'm quite looking forwards to exploring Kunark again; it was my favourite expansion for the original Everquest.
All is not rosy on the EQ2 front however as SOE have announced that they are intending to re-itemise every piece of equipment in the game from level 20 to 80. Why? I have absolutely no bloody idea, other than changing something for it's own sake. The current system works well enough as it is right now. Sure there are a few problems, but nothing major, and such a huge change cannot possibly go completely smoothly if my experience of large whole scale changes to existing MMO systems is anything to go by. We'll see what happens.
The Summertime Blues continue with the exciting but also-quite-annoying news that several of my Convergence guild mates have been invited to join the Game Testing program for Star Wars The Old Republic (the NDA allows them to say they are in the testing program but nothing more). I am very jealous indeed. Still, I hope they all have a great time and the game lives up to their expectations. I'm looking forwards to hearing their opinions when the NDA finally drops.
One tester that has been given a special dispensation to broadcast his thoughts is Gabe over at Penny Arcade. Apparently he has been involved in the testing for SWTOR for over a month and asked Bioware if they would let him write down his impressions of the game. They agreed, which was a pretty brave thing to do as they had no idea what he was going to write and he was allowed to publish his thoughts without any oversight from Bioware or EA. Penny Arcade are known for being forthright with their reviews and have been known to be very harsh on games and developers they don't like, so it was interesting to see what Gabe would have to say.
Bioware needn't have worried. Gabe gave his general impressions of the game without any major spoilers, and they were all very positive. His summary read as follows:
I honestly think they are making something unique and fun here. I’ve enjoyed my time in the beta even more than I expected and it just continues to improve. I’m excited to see what the final product ends up looking like and how people respond to some of its ideas.One of the quotes that gave me hope was the following, which makes it sound like they have managed to successfully bring a Bioware RPG into the MMO arena.
In the short time I’ve been playing SW:TOR I have already given more thought to my character than I ever did in all the years I played WOW. I’ve had to make hard choices with my Bounty Hunter that have made me honestly think about who he is and what he’s like. At first I intended to play him as a real asshole but some of the moral quagmires these quests put you in just aren’t that black and white. Do I do what gets me the most credits? Do I stay loyal to the person who gave me the job even it means hurting Innocent people? As a result of all this I have a character that is a hard ass bounty hunter who has a soft spot for people in trouble and children. The only thing I could tell you about my WOW character Dudefella is that he was a mage and a hell of a good dancer.You can read his full thoughts here (second article down).
Sounds good! Now I just need my game testing invite to banish these Summertime Blues!
Also on the SWTOR front, this weeks Friday Update is a new video showcasing one of the group missions on Alderaan. If nothing else, Bioware sure know how to put a kick-ass game vid together! Check the embed below.