Unpacking the Loot Crate

The Loot Crate mailing box.
The Loot Crate mailing box.

So, like I said before, I was tipped off to a new service called “Loot Crate” by an old blogging buddy that writes Jamaipanese.com. I haven’t had much time to dive into my favorite hobbies recently because of school obligations. As I’m sure you’ve seen (if you’ve been suffering through the recent posts on my blog with any regularity) I’ve been working overtime churning out papers for classes. I’m trying to get my degree as soon as possible, so I’ve been taking more classes at one time than is probably advisable, but I’ve been managing to maintain a high GPA, so why not? The faster I get done with school, the sooner I can move on to working.

Loot Crate sort of fills a niche for me. I don’t have a lot of time to devote to gaming, anime, manga, comics or any of the other geek things I used to enjoy. I have a stack of comics and manga just waiting to be read. I have games I’ve bought that I haven’t even installed. But, Loot Crate is just a little thing each month that can put a smile on my face. It’s a low time investment way to have fun and gives me something to look forward to every month. Since I don’t know what’s going to be in each box, it’s sort of like getting a present every 30 days, except of course I’m paying a bit for it. The price isn’t bad, though, at $20 a month, counting shipping. (Disclaimer: this is not a paid advert, but the preceding link is a referral link that will get me a free Loot Crate for every 4 people who sign-up after clicking through).

I was so busy last month, between final papers, final exams, and then rushing off to visit friends in Mississippi that I didn’t have time to post about my Loot Crate until now. So, what was in May’s Loot Crate?

After just opening the Loot Crate
After just opening the Loot Crate.

As you can see in the image above, the packaging encourages just what I’m doing now. But, who wouldn’t want to share information about neat novelty items on their blog anyway?

Loot Crate Close-Up
Loot Crate Close-Up. The box is pretty sturdy.
Another Loot Crate Close-Up, minus the information card.
Another Loot Crate Close-Up, minus the information card.
Loot Crate Unpacked
Loot Crate Unpacked

The Loot Crate was, expectedly, a bit of a mixed bag, but to be successful it has to be. Not everyone has the same tastes, after all. There’s a Batman figurine. Not bad, but I never really cared for Batman. The Ironman papercraft origami thingamabob could be fun to put together, and I’m sure I’ll find a use for the stickers. The little dude that holds cords is pretty cool. I’m definitely going to use that once I finish installing my blinds (I just moved). The items that really stood out to me in this Loot Crate are the one-year subscription to a digital Nintendo magazine (the yellow card in the image above), the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy towel, the 8-bit Space Invaders tie, and the Super Mario Question Block.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Towel
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Towel

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, was one of the first books I read when I was a teenager. For some reason, the dry British humor really appealed to me. I loved that book so much that I pushed it on friends, one of whom borrowed my leather-bound, gold-page-edge edition and never brought it back. I wonder if she still has it on a shelf somewhere?

Anyway, the significance of the towel is that the book is about hitchhiking through the galaxy, and there are certain things that a successful hitchhiker just can’t do without, one of which is a towel. A good quote from the book is:

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

I guess I know where my towel is, now.

8 Bit Space Invaders Tie
8 Bit Space Invaders Tie

Also fairly cool is this 8-bit tie. I’m definitely going to find an excuse to wear this. For the Lulz.

Super Mario Brothers Question Block
Super Mario Brothers Question Block

Finding the Super Mario Brothers Question Block was one of those nostalgic moments, since the first console game I ever played was Super Mario Brothers (1985 Nintendo Entertainment System version).

Opened Super Mario Question Block With Gold Coin Candies
Opened Super Mario Question Block With Gold Coin Candies

Inside the Question Block are some candies that I haven’t tried yet that resemble the gold coins that would pop out of the boxes sometimes when you bumped them.

It took me a while to get around to posting about the Loot Crate, but not because it wasn’t interesting and fun; I just had too much stuff to do. Hopefully, that won’t be the case later this month, because I’m already looking forward to receiving my next Loot Crate in the mail.

Funcom’s Age of Conan Going Down The Drain

I was taking a look through my Google Reader subscriptions and found a great article at Online Massively Multiplayer.com about Funcom’s Age of Conan. I decided to leave a comment and really got going, so I decided to re-post my comment there as a blog entry here.

I was one of those initial AoC subscribers. I was looking for a way to break free of the WoW grind. AoC was fun… at first.

The starter island is a masterpiece and is everything an RPG MMO should be. I especially loved listening to the voice-overs. That’s partly where Funcom failed I think. They set their own bar during the first 20 levels of game-play, and then fell short afterward. I remember being shocked when I left the starter island and found out that there was no more voice-over dialogue. I remember seeing it mentioned that they intended to complete more voice-overs for the quests, but I didn’t stick around to find out. They should have had it all done to start with, or not done it at all. That was just the first disappointment.

On top of that, AoC didn’t really introduce anything innovative or new. In fact, it felt like a step left, instead of a step forward. There was nothing wrong with the classes, per se, just the game-play itself. Most of the interfaces felt awkward and just not that intuitive.

Also, I remember being particularly disgusted with the amount of quests that required you to go from one end of the zone to the other (or one end of the game world to the other), especially considering they weren’t very interesting to start with. Granted, there are only so many scenarios you can come up with as far as quests go in a game where you grind XP or grind quests to level up, but instead of making them as hard as possible to take up time, why not make them easier and focus on other aspects of the game that will appeal to your player base? I think most players now take partial enjoyment from the leveling up, are amused slightly by some of the quests, but all in all just want to get to the “end-game” content.

Speaking of running from one end of the zone to the other, what was with their idea of putting the crafting NPCs in a separate zone on the far end of a zone packed with mobs? Why did the game even need a special zone for a crafting town? That should have been incorporated into the three major cities. On top of that, placing level restrictions on being able to craft is getting old. It doesn’t make sense, even for a fantasy world. I can’t wait for a game that will allow a person to be solely a crafter if they want to be. (And a good game with a bard class would be nice! I miss that from DAoC/FFXI!)

I suppose the general idea I’m trying to get across is that AoC wasn’t well thought out, and had a rough, unfinished feel to it. Today’s MMO players expect more from their games. On top of that, most have played multiple MMOs of high caliber and don’t want to take a step sideways. They want to take a step forward to something better. When it was released, AoC didn’t stand a chance against polished games like WoW.

The market is so competitive now that I think companies will have to try to appeal to niche markets rather than mainstream. For example, most people play WoW because there’s just nothing better available.

I’ve been rather disappointed by the MMOs coming out recently so I’ve turned to F2P games to occupy my spare time while I keep my eyes peeled for the next blockbuster MMO. Right now I’m content with Combat Arms and Runes of Magic.

Combat Arms is a fantastic online FPS that keeps the action pumping. It’s so well laid out that I just can’t believe it’s free. Every time I log in I’m impressed with the gameplay. The only thorn in Combat Arm’s side are the number of hackers that manage to get past their hack detection software. If Nexon could find a way to prevent hackers from getting in the game matches this great game would be golden.

Runes of Magic is a great game that’s free to play and incorporates elements of WoW, UO, Guild Wars, FFXI, and who knows how many others. It’s as if they plucked out the best parts of each game and rolled them into one very entertaining MMO.

Hmm… looks like I dropped a quarter instead of two cents!

[Posted by myself on Massively Multiplayer.com on Tuesday, March 31st at 12:38am SGT]