39 year old conquers fear of Dungeons & Dragons

I waited 39 years to get over my fear of math and dice to finally attempt my very first Dungeons & Dragons game with internet friends I have known for ages. I have conquered part of my fears, but not all of them, as Roll20.net makes die rolls 100000% easier to beginners! Our DM decided since we were all practically new, we’d start out with level 10 characters because she decided to run City of the Spider Queen. She adjusted it for 5e as much as she could and also tossed in a lot of home brew elements too.

I have been having an absolute ball playing Anthracite Ironbelly, my cleric, with my husband, Shawn, who plays Boddlur’s the Germanic-sounding bard, our DM Lil, and our Rogue Zalima with the Paladin, Corvin. I sure hope this highlight of our game play amuses you too!

If you dig it, you can usually check us live streaming our D&D games every Saturday (when health and life participates) on my twitch channel found here: Pinkatron2000. You can also follow me on twitter here: Pinkatron2000, for live stream announcements and schedule updates. <3

Beautiful Gold Spam: Age of Wushu

Quick and Dirty, ladies and gents–a why and why for, about Age of Wushu: a free to play world PVP kung-fu MMORPG.
(Immature giggling goes here)

Does this dress make my flowers look big?

Does this dress make my flowers look big?

Why you should play Age of Wushu

  • If you are a fan of ancient china, chinese mythologies, the ancient kung-fu movies or wuxia dramas then you are going to enjoy looking at Age of Wushu.
  • Despite being run on a graphics engine a bit out of date enough to rely on bloom, it’s still gorgeous and many places feel as if they sprung out of painted scenes.
  • One of the better kung-fu/Martial arts F2P out there
  • World PVP (after a certain level) adding an edge to danger to everything
  • Crafting is a viable source of income and helpful to progress
  • Team Practice your Kung-Fu with fellow Kung-fu practicioneers to ‘speed’ the experience of your deadly arts
  • Belong to a school (Wudang, Emei, Shaolin, Beggars, Royal Guards and so on) and enjoy benefits from belonging to a group
  • Spy on enemy/different schools and earn rewards and experience.
  • Be evil: Kidnap people and sell them, all while maniacally laughing and stroking your whiskers.
  • Pay for being evil: repent your sins (if you are part of a good aligned school) at the temple or go to jail to pay for your crimes of PKing and kidnapping!
  • Pick up the arts: learn calligraphy, learn painting, learn chess, poetry or music
  • Protect and escort supplies between important families or individuals of import
  • Save the girl or guy
  • Win friends
  • Farm, mine, fish, chop wood, skin animals, cook food, make poisons, heal through herbs, weave clothe, make legendary weapons
  • Find a guild: go to war, make an alliance, group up and roll out
  • There is never nothing to do.
I could, like, sit here all day, man

I could, like, sit here all day, man

Why you shouldn’t play Age of Wushu

  • It’s a free to play game and so some of the unique issues that always seem to crop up in f2p’s do.
  • Gold spam everywhere. In all the channels so far except school channels (as far as I have observed). You can put them on ignore (add them to blacklist) but that gets full in a day. That solution isn’t viable.
  • Punks everywhere: f2p seems to bring out the best and the worst more so than anything else. You will get punked at sometime, anytime, especially by yourself. There will always be those guys that smell new player from a mile away and swoop in on their epics and kill you in one click thinking they all that and a bag of tea.
  • With that in mind: if you get upset easily by being pk’ed by kids or people having a bad day, right off the bat “open pvp world,” should turn you away.
  • The cash shop isn’t pay to win–it’s pay to level faster basically. Mounts, bags, extra warehouse, all of this isn’t permanent. Mounts and bags last a set amount of days (100, for example.) Bags currently are purchased from players or picked up from drops only, mounts are cash shop or random quest rewards (as far as I can tell), and the only current way to get extra warehouse space (bank space) is to pay Snail Games real cash money dollar bills for in game gold to become a VIP member to expand it. Plus, as a VIP member, you “cultivate,” your Kung-fu off line and faster than those who play free. (Cultivate = experience = level it up, pretty much.) Right now, there aren’t any pills, buffs, exp medicines or the like in the shop either. So like I said, it’s not so much pay-to-win as it is pay-to-get-to-win-faster. (I could be wrong! Feel free to let me know in comments!)
  • Solo play is going to be difficult. Without a guild to help you with instances or fighting off random player killing, the casual gamer or gamer who likes to explore all the areas and things might find it a challenge.
  • Grind fest. No matter how fun everything is–or how fun I find it–I know it’s going to be a grind to get it anywhere better. I know it, and the game doesn’t even bother to hide how many hours of repetition I’m gonna put into it to get it there. I guess it’s almost a positive the game doesn’t hide it?
  • Lost in translation: I believe that some of the better aspects of the game may have been lost in the translation from Chinese to English. Quest descriptions are abrupt and in some cases appear to have nothing to do with the quest they are giving you. Your quest tracker and the ability to click-auto-path is going to be awesome for some.
Within the school of Emei

Within the school of Emei

So should I try it or not?

It’s a free game that despite it’s very real and very obvious flaws to an American market; is trying its best to carry its weight. And it’s doing okay. I think that Age of Wushu is one of those free-to-play games that fits a niche market and not a broad one to appeal to everyone. And that’s okay, I think that there needs be more games happier to cater to a wildly loyal few than try and appeal to a broad mass and fail. Whether Age of Wushu will collapse under it’s gold spam and free to play is something we will have to see. As it stands, I think it’s a remarkable game for free to play and Martial Arts and one that it cannot hurt to be tried.

SWGEmu fills the holes some of my favorite MMORPG’s leave.

afteshow bar

The Aftershow bar, player decorated room

While I love SW:TOR, while I love guild wars–the game that has always held my heart the most has been Star Wars: Galaxies. Never before has a game allowed me to play a completely non-combatant, socially driven character relying on interaction in order to survive. Outside of (and perhaps equal to) EQ II has there really been a game that has offered the same sort of character home customizing and decorating. The game catered to and pandered to people who liked a challenge (Pre CU and NGE to be specific) and who wanted to make their mark–however small or large–on the game.

SW:G was the first game that showed me how amazing a game community can be. And SW:G keeps calling me back.

Thanks to the SWGEmu project (Star Wars: Galaxies Emulator), I have had as well as enjoyed coming back to the pre-CU and pre-NGE game I loved and remembered. It was quite a damn trip remembering how to do some basic things. The game is not for WoW gaming mentality. If you want results and you want them quick…you’ll be disappointed. There is no such thing as quests; welcome to a sandbox game. Tailored clothing, player housing, player vehicles with work being done by hand and by scratch to bring the features and additions we all adored back to the game.

I’ve been  following for several years. First as LittleSparrows, where I logged in when they had one planet and a blue frog. I drifted away and lost my log in and pass, replacing it later with my usual handle elf_fu. I’ve been playing a pink twi’lek there named Ameria’ for a bit.

Theed Invasion

Large crowd gathers outside of Theed Starport hearing rumors of the Royal guard’s restlessness.

The community is the same and yet different. There is a lot of the same sense of helping, but also a lot of the sense of a lot of players doing their own thing by themselves. Of course, the release of GW2 also scattered

the community a little bit too. Yet it’s the same game I fell in love with. The same game I adore. I have a guild there, it’s an RP guild and a city. It’s been fun to be back.I sometimes wish when I play newer MMO’s that they would give a nod to what worked here in SW:G, the total non-combat classes, the merchant system, the player homes and decorating–I think that a lot of the MMORPG’s out there today would be able to appeal to an even larger audience than usual. The one MMORPG in the works that reminds me a lot of SW:G is The Repopulation, which I am very, very, very much hoping to be able to beta test and play.

SWGEmu just fills a lot of the holes I think are missing in the MMORPG’s that have come out recently. It’s a hankering to come home to a place that catered to the imagination and asked its players to explore and do on their own, without being hand held or directed. It’s…a long, long time ago, in a game galaxy far away that keeps drawing me back.

 

We’re full of Sith.

 Along time ago, on a blog far, far forgotten…..

There were two phat geeks who made posts, but life and distractions (Like Google+) came and endangered the meandering writing habits of two huge nerdlings.

It’s been a long time since we last joined our heroes, Mel and Shawn for their epic adventures in cooking, life, loving, laughing and things they liked. What could possibly be worthy enough to keep us from updating frequently? Other than Shawn having a full time job of course and his wife having a severe case of oooo what’s that? 

Star Wars my friend, Star Wars. 

Specifically both Shawn and I were lucky enough in August to be invited to beta test Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you aren’t familiar with what that is, it’s an MMORPG created by Bioware. The delicious people behind such classics as Never Winter Nights, Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic and my personal fan-girl favorites: Dragon Age. Shawn and I have been following Star Wars: The Old Republic, like many Star Wars and Bioware fans since it’s announcement. We both have accounts created on the official site that have been there since 2008 (as probably many people there do too.)

But…due to the NDA I cannot say anything else. I mean, I love you guys and those of you that have stuck around with us for so long–in between forever posts and through all our craziness–I do. But I love Star Wars as much and I can’t tell you anything else.

It’s killing me, let me just say.

Bioware’s publicity department has been doing a fantastic job eeeeeking out class information, videos, planets and so much more information from their official site: http://www.swtor.com/  And then of course there’s my personal favorite site to get further information: http://www.greetingsmeatbag.com/. Greetings Meatbag just isn’t pure info–it’s pure fun. There are interactive quizzes, well written break-downs of videos and articles as well as super friendly administrators. *Waves her hand,* You will go visit and tell them 2phatgeeks sent you.

Shawn and I would like to highly encourage you to give this game a chance. More and more these days, people tend to judge a game by a screenshot of a single video and that really makes me head tilt. Good games are going untouched by the tendancy to spout negativity about them well before testers or players get their hands on them. Sign up for the site, apply for beta testing and wait until the NDA is lifted before making the call.

And so–there you have it. Where Shawn and I have been all this time and where we will–no doubt–be for a long time yet.

What games are you playing at the moment and what games are you waiting for?

 

And in the Dorkness, bind them.

The year was 2007. I was still fresh-faced from the disappointment I held in my little nerdy heart for a few other MMORPG’s that Will Not Be Named here Again.

I was tired of being lied to. I understood gaming companies had to really sell it to get the subscribers, and thus the cash, to pay things off, I really did. Look, Mr. programmer who spent hours making fighting chick’s rack perfect and realistically bounce has gotta eat too, right?

But selling it and then paying roughly $50 for a copy of the game, plus the monthly subscription–just to play for two weeks and be disappointed? It was weighing on me, man. It was getting tough. I didn’t realize it then but I was becoming an MMORPG skeptic. I still played MMO’s, don’t get me wrong. I still signed up for beta and to this day? I still play them. But I eye them far more warily than I used to and it’s rare that I write about them. By the time I get around to writing about them I find I am usually already disenchanted.

But I’m ahead of myself–let’s go back to 2007. What happened then?

Elven starting area.

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar was released. A massively multi-player online role playing game set in the universe of J.R.R. Tolkien, riding on the back of a huge wave the movies had set to motion. It was a good move by Turbine, actually. Here was a beloved setting many adults and children were familiar with, rife with all the markings of a great backdrop for a game. Earlier that year I got the chance to beta test the game and I did.

For a week I played, I really enjoyed myself. There were glitches of course and several things were not even yet implemented this early in the game (those would come later on) but I found myself liking what I’d seen so far. I didn’t have the same parts and video card in my computer then, that I do now, and couldn’t run the game full blast. It was still pretty.

Then the game was released and that was the end of beta. I asked my husband if I could play, who had also beta tested the game as a hobbit burglar. Unfortunately, he did not enjoy the game as I did. On top of that, we were in a financially crappy time–he couldn’t see a point in purchasing a game he did not enjoy and I couldn’t see me pushing him to spend money we needed for other things–like food, bills and so on.

So the game was set aside. I heard about it through good blogging friends of mine, Eve and Lillith. Art, posts about–all these things reminded me of the game and I never truly forgot about it. Life simply wasn’t going to let me play it when I wanted to. Several other games came out and one thing distracted me from it and another and another. One year went by, then two, then three.  I’d almost put Lord of the Rings Online aside entirely until–

I got a little e-mail that informed me this year, Lord of the Rings Online was going free and that you could sign up for the beta…

So I did.

Now…I’m doing a bad thing by telling you I got into the beta. Yeah, I know. I’m pretty rebellious. Last week? I totally ate three peanut butter cookies while baking them. Just sayin’. So,  technically, even though I am no longer playing the free-to-play beta, I am under the NDA not to discuss it. Let me just say I am aware I am breaking the sacrosanct of NDA and am fully ready to accept my punishment.  (Dear Turbine, please send a reasonable Aragorn look-alike to dole out my punishment. Please.)

But I have to tell you this because it was the free-to-play beta that convinced me to to finally purchase a subscription to the game. And to make the deal sweeter the monthly sub is a might cheaper than most MMORPG’s out there if you buy a package payment plan. AKA: Purchase 3 months for $ 24.

I do not regret my decision one bit, despite the fact it’ll go free to play this fall. And I plan on continuing to support LotRO even after it goes F2P.

Why?

Because the game has not degraded over the years but has improved, significantly. There is player housing, horses, fishing, hobbies. Many, many, many more quests than I ever remember there being. There are two new

A beautiful day for a walk in the Shire.

extremely fun classes and the community (which reminds me so much of the Star Wars: Galaxies peoples when the game was in its golden years)is a fantastic, amazingly patient, helpful, well spoken bunch of fellow gamers. It truly outshines any MMORPG community I’ve been in for a long while.

I can download the high-res version and play this game with everything cranked max. Lighting, shadows, Anisotropic hiked up, water, water reflections–you name it, I’ve got it turned all the way up. It’s gone from pretty to pretty-damn-gorgeous.

Right now, at this very second on the Lord of the Rings forums and in the game chat channels–there are countless debates about how the game will go down hill once it goes free. There are people saying the community will slide down hill. That paying members will stop paying and that the game will never be the same.

I’m here, breaking the NDA of free-to-play Beta, understanding I might have it taken from me (that’s okay though) to let you know it was because of the F2P that I decided to purchase a sub. It was because of the community that I wanted to support this game and hope to continue doing so. I wanted to remind fellow subscribers that, not all bad things will come out of the F2P.

And to let you guys know, seriously? If you played the first year and quit–if you’ve never played but always wanted to–do it. Go check out the free trial. Go sign up for the F2P beta right now.

I never go back to old games. That’s just how I work. Once the magic is gone I simply can’t. It’s done. Ask anyone I’ve met and follow my posts about the MMORPG’s I’ve played, and you’ll notice that once I’m done that’s just it.

Here I am, three years later, and I’m back to Lord of the Rings Online and loving it to pieces. That in itself, should be incentive enough for you just try it.

And hey, if you do?  Send a hello to Bluecup Bumbleroot, Landroval server, let me know what you think of it and if you need any help.

Aion: is it worth your money?

Authors Geek note: While the author has been playing Aion for several weeks, she does not claim to be nor tout she is some sort of Aion expert, either with the Aion Lore or game play. Should she be incorrect, please feel free to comment!

What is Aion?

Aion is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) being distributed in the USA by NCSoft. Originally, a Korean MMORPG, it has been released and played in Korea approximately a year before being tweaked for North American audiences and re-released here.

General Lore?

Loosely retold, the story is that you are an ascended being–a Daeva, who has forgotten his or her memories of the past and so you must journey to recover your powers and your memories. As proof of your ascension from humanity to Daeva-hood, you proudly boast a pair of white or black wings (depending on which side you choose, Asmodae have black wings, Eylos have white) and can fly wherever there are large amounts of aether.

The Eylos and the Asmodae have been at war with one another since the destruction of Aion’s tower, blaming one another on the cataclysm that sundered their planet in two–leaving the Asmodae occupying the colder, sunless half and the Eylos in the warm, bright other. To add further conflict, when the world sundered and created a great Abyss, a race called the Balur began occupying the Abyss attacking Asmodae and Eylos alike.

Graphics?

Graphics are a mix of breath-taking textures and details, bright colors or dreary settings to create the mood–to a biiiiit outdated pixel-ated spots and places and flat texture wraps designed to trick the eye into thinking it’s 3-D. In some areas, such as the capital cities for the two main races? Aion’s detail and attention truly shows. The main cities and player details are really eye catching.

ameriaavatar2Character customization is okay.  You can truly make some unique and different looking avatars to represent yourself in the game. However, it’s not quiet enough to make them stop blurring in my head. There are far too many pretty, oh-so-pretty boys running around with teeny tiny delicate ladies. (Yes, including myself–guilty of making a short female avatar!)

The armor sets are not as unique as I’d like, and while you can dye your armor different colors, it’s not quite the same.

There are vendors in the main cities which sell actual no-benefit-clothing. They are so ridiculously overpriced however, in my opinion, you are better left to worrying about extras such as this when you can afford to rake in the several hundred thousand kina needed to own one piece or two.

What’s the questing like?

Repetitive.

And I do mean that in the grindy-oh-god-just-drop-my-god-damn-shit-already-jesus-been-at-this-for-two-days-way. Those of you familiar with the grind of Lineage might find this game (while not specifically as bad) familiar and like a second home.

And yet, I don’t mean the grindy either.

Aion’s quests are good for those who seek the lore of the land or like a good little laugh. They range from: steeped in history, to: find my pet pig. The rewards for the quests aren’t often the end goal but the amount of things you kill. NCSoft has attempted to make the outright grind-fest which was the original Korean game (which 1 or 2 repeatable quests–so I hear–for every five levels have turned into a butt-ton of quests every level or two) into something a little more appealing to North American Audiences. And in a sense, they succeed here, marginally.

What’s the game play like?

The game play itself against PVE is pleasant if, again, repetitive.  As I am not the sort to get into super depth about armor, crit rate, percentages and what not–I’ll be passing over this with my usual generalities.

I do feel that Aion is a gear-centric game. The better your gear and the better your manastones/Godstones slotted into your gear (mana stones are little, well, stones with + bonus to stats. Such as +8 to Evasion to +14 to Parry. Godstones are Proc stones, such as: 10% chance to stun on hit, etc) the easier time of it you’re going to have with your class.

As you level, you are eligible for skills to purchase from your class trainer. There are the normal, subset skills for your class and then a triggered, special ability connected to the original skill which can also be triggered. This depends either on a percentage, a stat, or in some cases can be triggered each time by just hitting your regular skill. Whether or not you succeed against PVE or a PVP will depend a lot on timing and your gear.

It sounds Grind-ey. Am I really going to have to Grind?

Eventually, yes. There is no real way to avoid having to spend an hour or two, three, or more grinding for mob drops either to sell on the Auction house or gray (useless) drops to sell at a merchant just to afford your skill-up books, or your crafting/gathering skill ups. Or travel. Or paying for Soul Healing to remove XP debt after death. The game is designed to pandimoniumbe an enormous money sink–and this is where at the very least Aion shines perfectly. They did a great job. It seems like every time you turn your head in this game some NPC some where wants you to pay them or buy something for them for several thousand kinah (the monetary system) which you likely do not have.

Don’t be fooled by people who shrug and say it’s eeeeeassssy to get several 100k in an hour or so below level 25. These are people who are either grinding for hours straight, or people who have more time than the general crowd to play the market. The average gamer with responsibilities elsewhere (jobs, time away, etc) generally does not have time to do either very well.  If you want $ in this game you will have to set aside time to grind and sell. Period.

Crafting?

I’d only recommend the crafting if a) you are willing to grind for either the parts and pieces you need, as half the crafting materials you need can be collected, the other half can only be found from mob drops or purchased from players from the AH, b) grind for the money needed to get these pieces off the AH, as eventually you’ll out level the things you need and they will no longer drop, or c) you like never having any money. Seriously. No matter what you do, crafting wise, it will cost you money to make something. Even if you just grind the work orders blessedly placed by your crafting instructor to help you grind levels up without using materials you will desperately need to make your own Staff of Awesomeness.

Work orders, however, still require you to purchase components to finish the work order. While the main “materials” are supplied to you by the crafting trainer a player picks their work order up from, the cost for extras is still steep enough that in the beginning levels you’ll find yourself running out of money just for a few points.

And the PVP?

Can I absolutely avoid PVP?

No. Due to the rifting system and the zones these happen in, you’ll be forced at the very least to run from–or observe PVP from a distant happy safe place. I’ll explain more when I get to rifts.

aionzergrushPVP from my point of view: It’s fantastically frustratingly awesomely awful. All at once.

PVP happens in two ways in Aion:

The Abyss, which is the space created between when the tower of Aion was torn asunder. Occupied by the Balur who will attack Eylos and Asmodae alike, it’s a collection of floating islands in the sky a player must use their wings to fly to in order to travel. When in the Abyss and away from your factions NPC or fortress, you are attack-able to the opposing faction.

Within the Abyss are powerful artifacts and fortress’ controlled by the Balur. Artifacts can be taken with great effort and reward by either Eylos or Asmodae; but since this is the Abyss, either side may also hamper either side in their attempts to take over an artifact or Fortress. For example, say the Asmodae were attempting to take over a fortress for their own. Not only is a fortress difficult to clear and the end boss legendary to take down–Eylos may also pour in while the Asmodae are in the fortress. The Eylos can kill the Asmodae whilst they are trying to take over the fortress and should their numbers and strategy be strong enough, they may be able to take over the fortress themselves.

Designated Zones where rifts occur:

Rifts are tears in the ‘fabric’ of the Abyss, connecting the two sundered sides of the planet. They can be traveled through either from the Eylos side to the Asmodae side or vice versa. Rifts appear every few hours and in random places at random times all over the map of certain zones. They are level restricted and population restricted. For example, Rift A connecting to Asmodae will only allow 20 Eylos of level 20 to pass through before closing.

As I have only played Asmodae, I can only attest to the Rift PVP from that stand point. When you reach level 20 several of your quests will span in two different zones. One of them, Morheim, has the largest amount of quests for the 20-29 level range and a player will no doubt be spending time there. While the PVP is nothing like the Abyss, roving packs of the opposite side randomly appearing while you are trying to collect 20 mushrooms are an average occurrence in Rift appearing zones.

This isn’t necessarily as bad as you think it sounds like.  Most often, those who come through the rift are individuals, groups of three or four or opposing factions just trying to finish quests–as the game some how feels the need to give you quests to do on the opposite faction. (As in: Eylos are sent to Asmodae territory to finish quests and Asmodae must go to Eylos territory to finish a few of theirs) Depending on the server, time of day, level range of the rifts–it’s currently rarer for me to see large, organized groups of Eylos terrorizing the country side. Usually it’s one or two hopefuls just trying to finish a quest being zerg-rushed by happy Asmodae.

The PVP system in Aion is…actually…fun.

You are rewarded each time you kill a mob in the Abyss, or each time you kill a player in the Abyss, or each time you kill a player in PVP regardless of where it is with Abyss points. You may accumulate these points for rank and to use Abyss points to purchase unique, orange gear which cannot be found anywhere else in the game.

I have been playing MMORPG’s for a modest seven years now. There are others out there that have been doing it far longer, but I’d like to point out that in seven years I have never participated in, nor wished to have anything to do with PVP.

In Aion I have actively put myself in the Abyss, joined a guild, followed them on fortress raids and taken great joy in stabbing at the opposing side. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or not the above is a positive or a negative toward Aion itself.

So in a nutshell: is Aion worth your money?

Yes if:

  • You are bored of everything else and have nothing else to play.
  • Like PVP, or at the very least, don’t mind it or don’t mind having to grind extra in controlled PVP-areas (non Abyss)
  • You like pretty, pretty, pretty characters.
  • You played Lineage II or Guild Wars. Aion is NOT WoW, despite the similarities in some areas.
  • Realm Verses Realm works for you
  • You don’t mind the grind
  • Pretty, pretty characters with wings!

No if:

  • You have ONLY played WoW and no other MMORPG.
  • You don’t want to ever PVP or be near it.
  • You want to quest all the time, all day, every day/want to have a quest to do every time
  • Want uber rewards for quests
  • Dislike gold spammers
  • Dislike having to grind out a level or few, or grind for drops, etc
  • Pretty, pretty characters with wings make you do EW faces at your monitor

I’m thoroughly enjoying Aion at the moment, and I will readily admit half of that is because there’s just nothing else out there that I either haven’t already played (free or paid) or nothing on the horizon for a good long time and I need my MMO fix. The other half–is because I am actually liking the game despite the money sink, the gold spammers, the idiots (which come with any game) and the grind. There’s something about it, possibly because I AM a girl and I DO like pretty things–that keeps me signing in. And that’s all a game really has to do at the end of the day to work, doesn’t it–keep me signing in.

Gaming Sadness

There is always a period in every year where there are basically no major releases in PC and console gaming. When you’re like me and don’t care about first person shooters and sports games, the gap is even more noticeable. Even so, there is usually at least one title that is halfway decent in the Sim, RPG, MMO or RTS genres to keep me going. Sometimes I’ll be gifted with a game that rocks enough to keep me playing and playing through the gaming doldrums.

Well this year, most likely due to the fantastic economy we’ve been blessed with, what few decent titles I was looking forward to (namely Dragon Age: Origins) have been pushed back. Things are made even worse due to the fact that some of the titles I was looking forward to in the past turned out to be disappointing. You can absolutely lump Age of Conan in this group. Add in the fact that no game lasts forever, no matter how cool (sorry, Fallout 3, but I still loved you!) and you find yourself right in the middle of absolutely nothing worthwhile to play.

The problem is, with the better half out of the house in the great white north, I find myself in dire need of some gaming goodness! I’ve got a couple movies I’m looking forward to shaking off the boredom a little, but that will take up a whopping 5, maybe 6 hours. She’s out of town the next 3 to 4 weeks at this point. Ideally I’d settle into a good MMO if one frakking existed, but the cartoony nonsense that makes up most current MMOs, including WoW, distracts me from enjoying the game and I’ve played EQ2 until I’m bored with it.

So here’s the question, and this is what I need all of you freaks and geeks for: What games are out there… freeware, beta or full version… that are worth a look? I’ve been looking about and haven’t been able to find anything on the near horizon to be excited about.

Help me fill the vast numbers of hours I could normally spend arguing about what to get for dinner! Interwebz, to the rescue!