Monday, September 22, 2008

Warhammer Online: Not WoW.

I was nodding off while drafting the 25 page long and still counting affidavit when a colleague walked in and glancing at the posters I'd pasted on the otherwise dreary office wall (since they game with the game and I knew if I brought it home, it'd end up gathering dust somewhere) went "Oh cool. Warhammer online. Isn't that like World of Warcraft?"

Which was probably like the 101th person who's asked me that since I started playing the game in preview weekend. Sure enough, the basic running around and game play is the same so much so that players transferring from WoW to WAR will be right at home with the controls and UI.

But the content though is a whole different ball game and IMO more interactive with more things to do and see than WoW. And that has been the general consensus thus far amongst the WAR-WoW. Though like they say a picture says a thousand words. Nothing ever beats playing the actual game though.

Semantha's adventures in the land of WAR.

One aspect which is so different and refreshing about WAR is the open group concept and the ability to participate in the numerous Public Quests happening simultaneously across the different zones. Add the pvp (RvR) concept in and you get to slug it out on constantly changing battlegrounds (not the instanced BGs in WoW) throughout the zones. Raiding and defending keeps with both NPCs and enemy players to deal with is a real blast.

Raiding a keep controlled by the forces of Order to reclaim it for Destruction. The interactive element starts from the very beginning. I ran off to purchase a Chaos light battering ram to assist in ramming down the door of the keep after despatching the hot oil cauldron above. Cauldron destroyed and door battered, we charge in ready for battle.

Our first two waves got repulsed by a nightmarish and well organised group of order players who kept us on the stairs for the most part of half an hour till the keep door reset. No!!

Then it was off to purchase more Boom Boom. A hellblaster this time and was thrilled everytime I blew up an Order player who happened to be too still for too long.

Victory screen shot after capturing the keep. woot.

For the BG lovers, there's still the timed scenario kind of RvR (PvP) action. Nothing like slicing enemies to bits. Assuming you don't get hacked/balsted to death first.

Nothing like being in the midst of the action.

More RvR scenario action. (Arathi Basin anyone?)

And of course there's always the public quests with the influence rewards and the chance to get some nifty stuff if you complete all the stages in the quest.

Dancing blades: Slicing up some stunties.

And at Rank 20, you get to purchase your mount. Dark Elves have the coolest looking ones on the destruction side, a T-rex (not barney the dino) (as opposed to boars, wolves and a dark horse)

Semantha the Thai princess on her T-Rex. ^^

On the Contrary.

Shirley, Shirley, quite contrary,
How does your boyfriend fare?
He lives in my head and has a 5 inch dick,
So I don't really know or care.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aunt Aggy.

Having done matri for almost 5 months now, I’ve gotten used to the strange kinds of calls I get from clients. From the usual ‘My husband ah, is too much. Today ah, you know ah, he suddenly discontinue my daughter’s giro school account. This man is too much! I want to put him in jail.’ To the more frenzied ‘My husband/wife ran away with the kids!’

You would think ‘matrimonial matters’ is a catch all aunt aggy phrase for ‘call the lawyer when any thing crops up’. But I’ve never gotten the ‘I think my son is gay. Help!’ kind of call. Until Friday that is. The client, one of the more inquisitive ones (till she sees the bill), called again sounding more than a little frazzled. To be fair, her call wasn’t entirely off topic, it related indirectly to a tit for tat PPO application her husband had filed against his teenage son in retaliation for a PPO the client had applied for on behalf of her son, a handsome 17 year old chap, after he was set upon by a rabid father.

Client sounded more frazzled than usual. “Er I don’t know how to say this but the computer repair man came over the other day to repair my son’s computer and he found some er strange photos which he passed to me.” ” I looked at them and they were really strange but maybe is nothing you know.” Which naturally piqued my interest.

“What kind of photos were they?” Another Pause. “Er its really quite disturbing and when I saw one of them I really had a heart attack. There was this photo where he was holding something in his hand and putting his mouth around it and he was looking at the photo and…..” That definitely got my attention. “What thing?”
“ It turned out to be a hotdog but the way he was putting it in his mouth and not biting it, for a moment I really thought he was doing something else…” Her voice died off. I knew she was a staunch Christian so I just couldn’t help probing further. “So you thought he was giving a blowjob to another guy did you?” “Ah!” She exploded, “I really thought he was.. gay.” With the deep concern and mild consternation one would reserve for a family member or close friend who suddenly ended up at IMH. ”He looked like he was doing it you know. I was so scared but there was another photo which zoomed out and showed the background. So ya it wasn’t that thing but still I had a shock when I saw it.”

Whereupon I informed her that the ’hotdog’ prank was an old one, albeit done by cheeky horny straight boys easily amused by anything that looks remotely phallic and can be portrayed in a sexual matter. The Crush in jc even did stuff like going down on other guys crotches and blowing on them whereupon he would proudly declare that he had just given a 'blowjob'.

She sounded relieved at first “Yes boys at this age are just naughty, nothing wrong, right?” Wrong I thought, mentally adding up my sexcapades at the not so virginial age of 17. But the hotdog prank has been around forever and I saw no reason to agitate her further if that was all it was. But it wasn't.

The doubt quickly crept back into her voice.“Er but there's something that really worries me you know. I prayed about it but I don't know what to do. So I thought I should ask you in case his father finds out.” The irony of it all. Panicky devout Christian mother asking her gay matri lawyer for advice on potentially gay son. But a job is a job and charging a client to play aunt aggy isn't too bad.

Without waiting for me to continue, she went on, frantic and breathless, “ But I saw this other photo. And this one really really really gave me a shock. My son was kissing another boy and they were smiling at the camera. And it was in his room! And that boy just came over the other day!” At which stage she sounded like she was hyperventilating and semi hysterical, so it was time to use the “Rein in distraught, emotional client' SOP. “They're just playing around right right?” She queried.

“ Well boys at that age tend to be rather playful... Was it like a simple peck on the cheek or a full kiss?” “They were kissing with their lips locked, full kiss, I was so shocked, I still am. Is he gay? Is he? Oh god.” she wailed. Tempted as I was to give her a earful on so what if your son is gay, I resisted. Professional decorum must be maintained at all times. Which was the same reason why I didn't say well I could conduct a closed door interview session with your son just to ascertain whether he's gay, you know guy to guy talk (or guy on guy action rather hur hur) and uttered a sympathetic and purely professional 'oh dear'.

Distraught client once again sought confirmation on what she wanted to hear, that her precious boy was just being precocious and is in reality as straight as an arrow. An assurance I refused to give and indeed took a little perverse pleasure in informing her in no uncertain terms that her son might very well be gay. Two straight guys do not 'liplock' and smile at the camera unless they're actors and paid big bucks to do so or stone drunk and on a dare. 'But the guy didn't stay overnight, he only came in the afternoon and left later.'

I figured the ' They don't need to wait till night to have sex you know' retort would be too much for her to bear. It's amazing how genuinely distraught and prejudicial some parents get when they learn their child isn't straight. I guess ultimately that is the litmus test after all you know people who are fine with other strangers or even friends who happen to be gay but god forbid their children to ever disclose they're gay. The schizophrenic dichotomy akin to the perennial debate over the we have the law (S377A , Penal Code) but choose not to enforce it conundrum(or enforce it when 'deemed' to be necessary).

Parents' concerns are understandable in the sense that most parents would like to have their children grow up and have a family etc but at the end of the day treating your child as if he/she has a mental problem simply because of his/her orientation doesn't help the kid at all, much less endear him or her to them. Not to mention the boatload of ludicrous pre-conceived notions about homosexuality and what it entails.

In other news, between the different classes played and the hours spent on Warhammer, I've finally decided on starting a Dark Elf Disciple of Khaine character as my first character when headstart starts in a little under 9 hours.

Apart from the lithe and aesthetically pleasing body and movements, there is something particularly vicious about a Dark Elf Disciple. From the wicked curved swords to the way they carve up enemies like Thanksgiving turkey to the utter disdain they have for their opponents. Vemyra (the Disciple character I played) occasionally uttered 'Scum' in a voice dripping with contempt when she dispatched a mob or a enemy order player or screeched , “How dare you!” when taking a beating from a particulaly annoying mob or player.

It's a game with character, now an additional avenue of destressing includes picturing particularly annoying client's at the receiving end of Vemyra's blades. ^^

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Tale of Two Worlds

Weekends are precious, especially so when one is working and doesn't have the luxury or privilege of cutting classes during the week to do as one pleases. No more sleep-ins, no more leisurely sojourns in town with friends, no more gaming till the wee hours of the morning (for weekdays at least).

This weekend was really packed but ultimately very satisfying. Yesterday was Granny's 89th birthday and as I've mentioned before that is one woman I love to bits. They rented a chalet at east coast and we decided to skip the hassle of organising (and clearing up)a BBQ and decided to cater instead. And of course going to East Coast Park naturally means one has to cycle. Besides, they have such good plans these days, 6 bucks to rent a decent bike for two hours.

Went off with the Sister and my younger cousin and decided to give the new Coastal Park connector which connects the different coastal parks (duh) a try. I must confess that coastal network is certainly a good idea, you see more scenery and cycle to places you'd never usually cycle to. The distance from the rental station to Changi beach via the network was 17km and the bicycle kiosk even had an innovative, hire your bike here, return it over there system. We would probably have cycled all the way if not for the fact that dinner was at the chalet.

Cycling for two whole hours straight was a tad tiring but we got to see lots of things you'd usually never see in the often overcrowded east coast park. Like rows of lush casuarina trees lining the canal swollen with malachite green salt cum fresh water. The trees swaying slowly in the bracing wind. And of course like any other hard exercise, you feel shag but good.

The real world, nature and fresh air is all very good. It awakens the senses and revitalises the mind, body and soul (God i sound like some bad pick up line for an organic product). But the attraction and allure of the cyber world of fantasy is a heady drug. And this weekend's highlight was Warhammer Online's open beta.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the servers were already up after a short patch and was all fired up to venture into the World of Warhammer (lol) especially after reading about all the extensive changes and balances they had made since the closed beta. Even if it was already 1.00am when I logged on. I decided to go for a female Magus from the Chaos faction instead of the nubile Dark Elf sorceress .

For one, the Chaos faction was still the most attractive to me and second, the Magus had been balanced (ie more damage) and it's an interesting class. If I had to compare it to classes in World of Warcraft, I would have to say the Magus in Warhammer is a combination of WoW's Warlock and Mage. The Magus gets 3 different Demons ( all stationary though) and gets to blast things while riding on a nifty looking disc. Some abilities even sound suspiciously familiar (Seed of Corruption?). So after customising my Magus to look like a butch vamp who decided to go goth, Ivara ventured forth, eager for death and destruction.

The game did not disappoint at all. True to form, unlike WoW, where it is a level grind to hit the level cap and then run all the end game content, in Warhammer, you get to experience the full aspect of the game from the very beginning. One of my first few quests sent me on a RvR scenario which pitted fellow Destruction players against Order players from various realms (servers) in a Arathi Basin kind of control the base, rape your opponent gang bang. But better.

Then came the quests which were intuitive and easy to follow and finish. I found the mobs spawned way too fast though. On the bright side, unlike in WoW, one can get XP for simple things like talking to a NPC or just looting a dead body.

And soon a nifty new robe and Ivara's very first pet. A Pink Horror. Yes it's Pink and it looks Horrible. But it's her little demonic turret.

Then out of town to embark on new quests and lo and behold, Ivara's very first Public Quest awaits her. Basically, it consists of a 3 stage encounter (for the lower levels) where the objectives get progressively harder. Everyone in the area can group up and all damage done is contributed to the final loot roll at the end. And if you get the necessary points you can collect some nifty stuff from the Rally Master in town.

And based on your contributions to the Quest (ie: either by damage or healing), you get assigned a certain bonus to your base roll chance and the rest is up to luck. Thankfully, Ivara had first for both the contributions and the roll. Which meaant decent loot.^^

Then it was off to the next town and round of quests. And just out of town, guess what. Another Public Quest (PQ). This second PQ unfortunately was a lot tougher than the first one even with a team and a couple of healers. Ivara was squished many times and earned titles like Ow my Eye and Victimized. But she did her fair share of damage which of course was reflected in the loot rolls. hur hur.

By then Ivara reached level 6 or Rank 6 rather and she got her second pet, a Blue Horror. Which is blue and horrible and spews blue vomit at nearby enemies or lobs medium range fireballs.

By then it was about 6.50am and I had to go for the weekly sunday ritual *grumble Grumble*. So it was off to bed but not before parking Ivara, new loot in hand, in town.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has lived up to its hype thus far. Perhaps one of the few things that may need to be improved is the crafting system. But really, I'm surprised at how well it's pulled it off thus far. And if it can keep up with the anticipated server strain when the game actually launches, I won't be surprised if people jump ship from WoW to Warhammer Online. I'm sad to say but WoW is pretty boring compared to Warhammer.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


So the move wasn't too bad after all. Granted the place is smaller and everything's more compact but the view is great and sharing a room isn't too bad after all. Unfortunately, there's something a little off with the air, I think they have a term for it, old office syndrome or some crap like that. So basically a large number of peeps are down with some sort of respiratory ailment, be it the common cold or a rasping hacking cough.

Personally, my nose felt like it'd been stuffed with wads of soggy tissue leaving one with no option but to breath in raspy gasps through the mouth. Which just gives one a bad throat from breathing in all that air. Naturally when all that happens, you call in sick.

Which gave me time to sleep in, wake up at noon and generally bum around after seeing the doctor for the mandatory course of medicine. Decongestants are such a wonder, it's hard to fathom sometimes just how people survived in the past without modern medicine.

I restarted Wow again on a whim while waiting for the open beta for the eagerly anticipated Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning to commence this weekend. I pretty much only pvp on WoW these days, the high end raiding content is out of reach due to both time and the job, so WoW (for the mage at least) is still limited to PvP.

It gets a little boring if you're in the grinding honour points kind of mood but if it's just the occasional Battleground, it's still fun. Playing Errath took a little getting used to again, which means i kept getting massacred for the first couple of BGs. But these kind of things are intuitive and I was able to pick it up again quite quickly.

There's been loads of changes since I last played but if there's one thing still certain, the mage pvp spec is still undeniably frost. In the sense of survivability, sheer combat control and steady damage. Plus if you're a groupie kind of player like yours truly, you'll find the frost mage really excels at control and sneaking in the occasional pot shots while ensuring you stay alive to get as many kills as possible.

Taking advantage of the terrain and unleashing torrents of freezing fully upgraded blizzards on bunched up enemies which dramatically slows them with the occasional chance to freeze the poor sods is another highlight. And of course as a frostie, you die a lot less than your squishier fire and burst damage arcane brethren. Some damage traded for survivability and CC with your very own pet. Not bad at all, if you consider staying alive = more kills= more honour= often top fragger. So yes WoW is still entertaining... for now.

3 more days to open Beta and 8 more days till the head start for Warhammer Online and I am so looking forward to it. Warhammer Online promises to be a whole lot more exciting than WoW with the chance to participate in public quests or pvp in the realm v realm or just raid the opposing faction's fortress and cities.

For those who love unmitigated war and outright slaughter without neglecting the PVE aspect of the game, Warhammer looks set to be the game. Not to mention the fact that unlike WoW where the whole idea is to level grind till the level cap and do all the high end content, in Warhammer, one experiences the entire game and varied content from the start.

I'm still undecided on which class I'll like to play for the Destruction faction. After all being so used to the 'glass cannon' concept of WoW's mage I may probably just end up as a Dark Elf Sorceress. After all the idea of bending magic ruthlessly to one's will and harnessing great power at the potential expense of imploding from all that power is highly attractive. So three more days till a nubile half naked Sorceress unleashing dark destruction on the forces of Order makes her debut.

And no, it had nothing to do with that sizzling scene between the female Dark Elf Sorceress and her nemesis female High Elf Sword Master in the new Warhammer trailer below. Don't mind me but it appears that some implication of hot girl on girl action especially if the said girls are sworn enemies always sells. But Warhammer is not your average MMORPG in that way. 3 More Days.