Monday, June 17, 2013

Marvel Heroes One Week In

Ok it's been a week and I'm still playing. There's something that keeps me coming back. Probably because it feels like there is always something new to do. Even though the story is long finished I can still jump on and feel like I'm doing something. They've put some thought into the end game and it goes beyond "play the same story but with harder baddies".

They've got daily quests which don't seem to have any requirements around being done daily, nor do they bear any resemblance to quests. They're essentially a short dungeon with a boss at the end. They are quick fun and good way to grind levels. These dailies are accessed through "terminals" in the main quest hubs. It looks like once you finish the first set in avengers tower you can do them all again in the next hub (Xavier's school) then again at the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier. So there's content to be ground for sure. The difficulty seems to jump pretty quickly as you rank up through these dailies so you may have to level up a bit before you can complete some of them. OR you can group with higher leveled friends, which I cannot recommend enough, because as I've said before this game is at its best when you are in a big group!

So then there are group challenges where you need to meet certain requirements with limited respawns. This was great fun and quite tense. Making death more perilous and introducing a chance of failure bonds the team more and makes you concentrate on the task at hand. The boss at the end of our first run was dead in fifteen seconds though so that was a little anti climatic. Maybe we were just such badasses, or maybe some bosses need some tuning. Anyway it's good see some different thinking in the Action RPG genre in relation to what end game content should look like. If we get more of these group challenges on a steady basis I can see a community growing around them. They could really benefit from some "bragging rights" features around though. Leader boards or Titles or Vanity Items could help drive player interest.

PVP current is Beta, it says so when you enter the PVP zone. It does feel unfinished but is quite good fun. Well it's fun once you get past the level 50 Deadpool camping your teams spawn. Most characters have sufficient mobility to simply disengage from high level opponents and go find someone easier to kill. I enjoyed putting bleeds on my foes and watching their health drop as they tried to flee! That's probably how it should work for Wolverine. The set up has three teams each with a base defended by a giant NPC robot. The territory between bases is crawling with goons who will fire on anyone. It seems like the objective will be get into the bases and kill this Robot. Currently downing the defender robots gives nothing but XP. They have heaps of health but seem to do no damage at the moment. Hence the "unfinished" vibe of the PVP area. But it is fun to spawn into a persistent rolling battle, create a bit of carnage and then zone out again. It feels interesting and reminds me of the Alterac valley battle ground in the old days of world of warcraft.

Deadpool seems pretty OP in this version of the game. It took half a dozen heroes on my team to take down this level 50 Deadpool that was camping our spawn, dressed as a pirate, screaming "I needs me spinach!" So it wasn't an altogether humorless experience. Did make me want to buy Deadpool though.

I'm still leveling up so anything I'm doing feels like its building towards something and is not wasted effort. Guess we'll have to wait and see what happens once all the dailies and group challenges are done. Then see what the view is like from max level. But for now I feel like there's enough to keep my interest for the remaining 29 levels till level cap. That's a good chunk of gameplay I might add, pretty good for a free title (well in my case $20).

If you like your marvel or like your action RPGs I can say with relative confidence that Marvel Heroes would be worth the download.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What I learned at the Scripting Games - Finale!

So check out the attached event description.

This one was a lot more difficult than others in the series and not just because to test your script you needed a domain to test on!

They’re handling security issues, talking to DHCP, renaming PCs and joining them to domains!

What I saw in this event was bit scary from a security point of view. Many, many scripts with usernames and passwords hardcoded, sitting there in plain text! The justification being “well the instruction was to do that, so it’s ok”. But really credentials in plaintext is NEVER ok! The line has to be somewhere and if it’s not going to be with the boss dishing out the requirements it’s got to be with the guys doing the work! Just take the time and get this stuff right, how do we win over the Bash community if we’re hardcoding credentials into our scripts?

So this was my solution;
$macs = Get-Content c:\macs.txt
$ips = @()
$i = 1

Read-Host 'Please press ENTER to supply the credentials to use on the local servers' | Out-Null
$localcred = get-credential
$localadmin = $localcred.UserName
$localpassword = $localcred.getnetworkcredential().Password

read-host "Please press ENTER to supply Domain Admin credentials" | Out-Null
$admincred = get-credential
$domainadmin = $admincred.UserName
$domainpassword = $admincred.getnetworkcredential().Password
$Domain = "company.local"
$ou = ""

foreach ($mac in $macs)
    $ips += Get-DhcpServerv4Lease -cn DHCP1 -ScopeId | where {$_.clientId -eq $mac} | Select-Object ipaddress

foreach ($ip in $ips)
    $name = "SERVER"+$i
    $pc = Get-WmiObject -computername $ip.ipaddress -class "win32_ComputerSystem" -credential $localcred -Authentication
    Write-Host "Renaming "$ip.IPAddress "to $name"
    $pc.rename($name, $localpassword, $localadmin)
    Restart-Computer -wait -ComputerName $ip.IPAddress
    Write-Host "Joining " $ip.IPAddress " to $Domain"
    $pc.JoinDomainorWorkGroup($Domain, $domainpassword, $domainadmin, $ou, 3)
    Restart-Computer -ComputerName $ip.IPAddress

You’ll see that at the top of the script we’re asking for credentials from the user and use them in the loop for renaming machines and joining them to the domain. The way we’re capturing them is a bit clunky but this way we’re not storing credentials anywhere. Ok we’re storing them in RAM while the script runs if you want to be pedantic. This is probably one of the more secure methods that was used in Basic Event 6 and that makes me sad.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory. I hooked into WMI and used the JoinDomainorWorkGroup method and again I discovered I was doing things the hard way. There’s a powershell commandlet called add-computer that probably could have done the job.

What I’m noticing about researching things in powershell is that a lot of the blog posts that you find while googling for answers are written for powershell 1 or 2. We’re up to powershell 3 now and 4 is coming with server 2012 R2. There’s lots of new features and commands added each release so things are becoming easier but the knowledge of the “old ways” is still out there online kind of clogging up the ease of use.

The Powershell community needs to create a good way for the novices to find the quickest and easiest solutions to their scripting challenges. The Scripting Games has been a great way to do that. Not sure how well that would scale to millions of scripters but it’ll do for now!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Marvel Heroes thoughts after first play through

Ok so I admit it. I'm not finished with the play through. I still haven't killed Doctor Doom. It's worth doing that run a few times it's pretty spectacular. I've done it solo and I've done it in a group. Group wins hands down every time. This game is all about the spectacle!

Playing solo the game feels a bit shallow and repetitive. It's at it's best when you are surrounded by other heroes and the combined power of your team allows you all to decimate entire regiments of Goons in a the opening volley of the battle!

Cyclops blasts with eye lasers
Storm shocks with lightning
Deadpool rains bullets
Ironman launches missiles
Hulk... Smashes.

The over the top visual effects and smoke clears, you look around and everything is dead. There's just enough time for your Spirit (mana) to regen before you hit the next formation of Goons and your group collectively one-shots them all.

And on and on and on it goes.

It doesn't take long to figure out that this game is not focused on fine tuned encounters or complex ability rotations. It's about fast paced action, spamming your foes into the ground with your most OP abilities and the more of the that happening around you the merrier it is for everyone, unless you are one of the poor hapless Goons on the receiving end. I don't think that would be fun at all. Why they insist on charging in and attacking the tidal wave of super-powered destruction I have no idea. Guess you don't have to be smart to be a Goon.

For now it feels exciting and fun, not sure what the end game is going be like once we're through the story and the initial infatuation wears off. I just know that if I'm feeling the urge for the joy that comes with unrepentant, destructive, mayhem; Marvel Heroes is the place to be!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Marvel Heroes - Bit of fun but a bit of a letdown

First Impressions (30 minutes in)
Marvel Heroes is fun. It's odd that the loot that you equip doesn't appear on your character. It's also odd that there are 50 Hawkeyes running around the starting zone.

I dropped $20 and got to play as wolverine right away. It was sweet!

He plays like you'd think he would... Has a charge that can really help with mobility! It costs spirit, which is what we are calling Mana in the Marvel universe.

Got lucky with some early drops and for now little Wolvie's healing factor is higher HPS than any NPC DPS! Hilarity ensues.

Thought it was going to be instanced like D3 but found an MMO style PVE zone packed full of mobs... Saw Thor running about messing stuff up. SWEET! Still a lot of Hawkeyes though!

Impressions after day 1 (10 hours)
Played it for about 10 hours yesterday. Check it out cause it's free but I don't think it's going to change face of gaming. The monetization is too "IN-YO-FACE!"

This is exemplified by some interesting items in their store, you can spend REAL money to buy a stacking buff to Treasure Find. So you can gamble actual currency for an increased chance to acquire better in game items! A CHANCE! You can't just buy the items you have to gamble with real money.

First epic item that dropped was a weapon for Spiderman. But to equip it I would need to buy Spiderman for $15... So you get the OOOH PURPLE ITEM rush... Then realise you have to spend actual currency to feel the warm glow that comes with equipping an Epic!

It's a shame really the core game is pretty good fun. It's Diablo after all. It's well animated and has a great frame rate. You can bash the baddies really hard and they go flying. It creates a great sense of momentum and the hours fly by as you chew through the levels. I certainly felt like my character was an OP cheeze fest from the first time I picked a skill point which is what playing as Wolverine SHOULD feel like.

But then there's the MMO style open world sections, where 5 wolverines, 4 hulks, 76 Hawkeyes and a dozen Ironmen run around killing thugs until a world boss spawns. It's not right and if I'm honest it's downright kooky!

They said it on Penny Arcade, these are 'Characters' and they've been built like they're 'Classes'. Wolverine is a warrior (or possibly a rogue), there can be many warriors (and rogues) but there's only one Wolverine.

Well there SHOULD only be one Wolverine, he runs around saying "I'm there best there is a what I do" and it kinda kills the illusions when there a 5 other identical guys running around saying the same thing while killing bloodless thugs and waiting for WOW style world bosses to spawn.

So a world boss spawns and you get a little UI element that points you at him. You begin to bash your way through the thugs till you find... Say Venom (a villain from Spiderman) he's got 50 superheroes wailing on him many of those are clones of the same superhero. The funky animations cease to make sense as the bosses health is whittled away like we've come to expect from MMOs. So after a few minutes of collective pounding, he dies and drops loot that you can only use by paying to unlock a different character.

Shes no wow killer that's for sure. The worst parts of an MMO combined with aggressive moentization make for a novel but un-fulfilling experience.