Maybe it's my age or maybe it's just a little bit of laziness about me, but I'm finding myself a little peeved whenever someone or something wants to make me learn a new system. It's not that I don't like learning -- I end up really enjoying myself when I do, in fact -- but that the energy and attention required to absorb a new lesson can often be a tad daunting. That's why I have to hand it to The Secret World -- here's an MMO that pushed me out of my comfort bubble and made me learn, sometimes kicking and screaming, and sometimes with a giddy and joyful heart.
Both MJ and I teach, and she knows as well as I do that different people respond better to different learning styles than others. Instead of becoming a lecture hall professor, TSW prefers to drop a few tantalizing morsels in its gameplay and then trust that gamers who have had their curiosity stimulated will go on to do the rest of the research on their own. The 25 or so investigation missions in the game are often praised, deservedly, for their heightened challenge and "hands off" approach to guiding you through them.
I love investigation missions because you never really know what you're going to get and what you'll end up learning once you've finished it. As you progress the mobs get trickier, with all sorts of special buffs and debuffs and tactics that require you to create multiple builds and pay attention to what you're fighting.
Then there are the challenges of instances, which require specializing in roles yet remaining flexible dependant on the boss fight in particular.
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A couple of weeks ago, I finished my first "playthrough" of The Secret World, having wrapped up the last quest and main storyline in Transylvania.
One of the things about The Secret World that makes it so interesting is that each of the areas is thematically night and day different than what's come before. What I liked about the monsters is that they're given real substance and weight; they're not just treated like hairy or fangy cannon fodder. There's also the neat element of old-school Russian technology and mad science that is made manifest in certain enemies. Consider the stranded who find themselves in a fate worse than death: college girls who find themselves fighting off werewolves, a cult member who is a captive in more than one sense, and a refugee whose only desire is to meet death on her terms.
Orochi Group makes an appearance or two as well; I can never get tired of these guys getting killed off in all manner of embarrassing ways. That's not even to mention the lady with the possessed wagon, the Vampire Hunter who is tougher than you are even without superpowers, the inbred hillbilly who looks like Firefly's Jayne, and a couple of guys who have been sitting around for hundreds of years waiting for events to come to a head.
Probably my biggest criticism of Transylvania is its scarcity of compelling investigation missions. While Transylvania does have a slight increase of toughness, I didn't find it as challenging as, say, heading into Blue Mountain for the first time. Any confusion or combat frustration I might've had was easily offset by the joy of traversing these zones.
As a veteran of many MMOs, I was quite appreciative that this "endgame" area had more beauty than lava and scorched earth.
In my life there's been a few albums at various stages that just came to dominate what I listened to for a period. I was lucky enough to catch them at the HMV Forum in London this December, and it was simply fantastic. You may be familiar with the crazed heart-stopping excitement that instantly grips me upon a first listen of an unknown track that properly fizzes me up. Fast forward to Summer 2010, suitably emboldened by one, maybe two recession-busting 20-euro vodka & tonics during a chance meeting with Andre in Space in Ibiza, I enthusiastically demonstrated my fandom by showing him my iPhone playlists complete with his music. I am a devoted slave to imaginative sample-led, distorted, chopped-up-and-thrown-about peak-time house - there is an awful lot of it about but Andrea€™s particular brand remains brilliant and distinctive, as vigorous support from the likes of industry heavyweights Armand Van Helden, A-Trak, Annie Mac, Brodinski, Pete Tong and Crookers aptly demonstrates. After a 11 year hiatus from R&S Records the 'godfather of techno' Juan Atkins returned along with Mark Taylor, DJ Skurge and Mike Banks for a 'comeback' EP last year under the infamous moniker Model 500. I dont know about you but I find it pretty funny (and clever) that R&S chose some of their youngest and most promising producers on their roster to remix some of the oldest guys on their label. It's pretty late and the only reason I'm up is because I have the most important deadline of my life in seven hours. Casanova and rascal Johnny Dalsanto, better known under his alias of Johnny Love, used to be half of the genie that was Guns 'N Bombs and is now encroaching upon the club scene with his current project Deathface. Could you explain to the readers your fascination with the occult and other dark elements when it comes to "Deathface"? If you had to choose between eating Zac Efron or Michael Cera alive, which one would you choose? Exciting times, keep an eye on TRUANTS next week for interviews with your two favorite American DJs and your favorite little French croquette. Felix Cartal's promising debut Popular Music is hitting the stores in a couple of weeks, and Cartal himself leaked the track the album is named after on Discodust today. One of my favorite things to come from Paris is Get The Curse, a blog that just keeps on delivering: superb releases and mixes, parties I wish I could go to and last but certainly not least - fantastic DJs. Toddla T never fails to bring a smile upon my face with his silly shenanigans and his sunny music. It's not unusual for peachy sounds that deserve a worldwide blowout not to make it off the British isles. The South-London dance-pop outfit Chew Lips, led by singular front lady Tigs and accompanied by the multi-instrumentalists Sanderson and Watkins, adorned many a a€?ones to watcha€? list in 2009. To kill my time until the show tonight, I'm revisiting old Surkin tracks for the umpteenth time.
TEKI LATEX (born Julien Pradeyrol) is the Godfather of everything that will ever matter to you. Please tell us about your first hagelslag experience, and what's your experience with kroketten so far?
My favorite Lookbook member might be Lisa Mettier, she can testify I've been a fan of hers way before Lookbook though. We always see you wearing a lot of Phenomenon and Sixpack France clothing, do you collaborate with them at all? Staying on the subject of French Hip-Hop, can you suggest us some of your favourite French Hip-Hop artists?
I mean, I'll be the one constantly reading Wikipedia to all hours of the night because I like soaking up info, but if a game asks me to go through a two-minute tutorial, I'm like, "Forget that!" and upturn my computer desk while I go to the other room to calm down. This is what drives me back into familiar gaming arms again and again, and why I'm more than a little apprehensive about all of the sandbox tools that will be coming to MMOs near us. This is an MMO that isn't content to spoon-feed you the same mush you've been downing for years; it's one that operates under a practical mission statement of teaching through gameplay. Creating an environment where many of these styles are in play results in a wider array of folks getting invested and growing more knowledgable and capable about a subject. Unlike many MMOs, where the lore is completely disconnected with our actual reality, The Secret World boasts a contemporary setting and interest in conspiracies and mythologies that have a lot to do with our world. Honestly, I wouldn't have done all of that studying about the Phoenicians if TSW hadn't intrigued me with the hints and activities of this purply faction.
Sure, you could go to a guide for the quickest route, but I've encountered so many players who take pride in never doing so because it's ultimately more satisfying to finish one on their own.
Sometimes they challenge our research skills, having us delve through websites and books and texts to find the answers.
One thing that the inclusion of scenarios and Joel Bylos' comments on them made me realize is that there's a very conscious effort by the dev team to constantly throw challenges our way and keep us from getting comfortable in how we play.
You're free to create a build that's absolutely horrible and equip yourself with the worst combination of gear and be totally miserable as you fail missions again and again.
Creating multiple builds is a necessity by Transylvania unless you've found that rare do-everything build that I've heard allegedly exists but have never seen it in action. With Issue 8 came scenarios, which required yet another examination of our builds and how best to plow through these sessions. Feast on a bowlful with MJ and Justin every Monday as they infiltrate The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory.
Oh, sure, Funcom's going to push the finish line further away in the coming issues, but until that happens, this is the end of the road for the solo experience.
For me, Egypt is the weakest part of the solo game, with dull desert zones, statues you're supposed to empathize with, and a truncated main story that didn't really pay off in the end.
Transylvania's "old Europe" charm felt like a refreshingly distinct experience than what I'd encountered before, and I thoroughly enjoyed my journey through its three zones.
Solomon Island was American-style horror: haunted houses, zombies, C'thulu critters, portals to hell, and (yes) ancient Indian burial grounds. The vampires are genuinely disgusting, for example, harvesting blood from barely alive captives and hiding their bodies under a full getup that includes gas masks. These hulking foes remind me a lot of the Big Daddies from BioShock, a notion that is reinforced by the fact that they hit like a Mack truck.

The Romany and Draculesti embody the native stubbornness that shrugs off the weirdness of the situation and continues to fight for good in a darkening realm. These are the folks I felt the most pity for because while you can run their missions, you are never given the chance to evacuate them from their plight. Let's just say that wherever you see the Orochi symbol, it's most likely attached to the jacket of a mutilated corpse.
I thought that by the time I reached these high-level areas, I'd be scrounging the dregs of Funcom's storytelling. Yes, there are some (and one or two brilliant adventures among them), but Solomon Island still has the lion's share of the best ones. Yes, you can buy signets and potions, but I really can't understand why Funcom didn't allow players to save up sequins to purchase QL10 blues as in the other zones. Eventually Transylvania will be a middle child in The Secret World, and as such, I think it'll hold its reputation as an engrossing location that adds a lot of flavor and acceptable challenge to the game. Pete Rock is certainly one of the all-time great producers in hip hop, and CL Smooth's velvet delivery is the perfect compliment to his soul-driven, neck-snapping beats.
I become possessed, utterly compelled to know what it is and immediately begin to stalk down the object of my aural affections and invade its personal space, distract it by pointing to something vague on the horizon and then stealthily shoving it in the back of my hypothetical transit van when ita€™s not paying attention, fuelled with frenzied panic that I may never hear these noises again and will die bitter and miserable, haunted by the faint strains of a mega-jam I never quite captured mournfully ringing in my ears. Driving back from work one night I heard His Majesty Andrea€™s Peep Thong explode from nowhere on Radio 1 and as a result, narrowly avoided creating a multi-car pile-up on the motorway as I scrambled to get my iPhone to Shazam it HARD and make it mine, thus introducing my grateful earholes to His Maja€™s glorious disco revolution. Luckily after ages of absence, the Swedish electro-pop duo Lo-Fi-Fnk have just voluntarily leaked a new song, with a bass line that hits you so hard you just can't resist. No horror movie stays good after the first one or two, Hellraiser had alot of promise because of all the mythology involved but it quickly went to shit. I'm coming to Europe in April, the only confirmed date right now is in Belgium for the Party Harders crew.
Alright, I'll have to go back to being a teenage for most of this because I haven't listened to a recent album in awhile. I had the table I was DJ-ing on crash into the crowd after the moshpit got too wild and almost killed a few people with falling turntables, if it weren't for my KGB-like reflexes with catching the table. Probably Zac Efron, he has less redeeming qualities and I feel like his meat would taste better. Until then our blog team will keep you up-to-date like always, mainly focusing on the (electronic) music and the heart breakers right now as we already discussed auroras thus the galaxy yesterday. A good example is this year's Mercury Prize winner and the wittiest chick from London town Speech Debelle.
And indeed the adept boy-girl-boy trioA  stormed the British electronic dance-pop scene last year.
Joost van Bellen's little baby Rauw is now the past, making place for Rauw New Stijl, its hotter little sister.
I've lost track of the number of times I've played out the minimix that Surkin did (direct link) last year, but I can assure you it's more than a healthy amount.
Firstly, there's Sound Pellegrino and Institubes which both were carefully brought up by his joint efforts.
Nowadays I like the weird Nike stuff, pairs that are kind of in between sneakers and regular shoes. Hip-hop scene in France: Lacking charisma, obsessed with its own Frenchness, stale, political but in a cheesy, very conventional and childish way.
Booba, Seth Gueko, Les Sages Poetes de La Rue, Driver, Joke, Craiz, Cuizinier, So Fresh Squad (the whole Stunts crew - Institubes rap label).
It will never happen but maybe they'll do something cool with that museum of new technologies. Serge Gainsbourg because he was the most charismatic French artist to ever exist, and also because he was a beast in the studio and I know he would push me to my limits.
Well, nowadays Douster's King of Africa works as the "We Are Your Friends" of the Sound Pellegrino generation. Tracks I never want to hear again in a club are any of the big Nirvana songs in any remix form, House of Pain's Jump Around, Smack My Bitch Up, Funk Soul Brother (The Rockafeller Skank) or any of the big beat stuff and the DJ Funk remix of justice because enough is enough. My dad said: A?Focus on your strengths, know what you're good at and focus on developing itA?. To live in a big mansion in Scandinavia, with naked ladies from various countries staying in each room. The Secret World has very specific types of missions that offer up different experiences -- and different kinds of learning. Sometimes they pull upon real-world systems and hobbies, such as Morse Code, GPS locators, or origami.
In other words, the devs want us to be learning, always learning, and they're willing to hurt us to make it happen (in-game, at least). Learning how the skill wheel works, how synergies are set up in the game, and how to best outfit yourself make up the first great milestone of adversity. Bylos has already mentioned how the AEGIS system is coming with Tokyo, and by all accounts that sounds just like another layer of required learning and strategic flexibility that will be required for our future progression into the game. But part of me grudgingly admits that I appreciate how it's made me into a better player, one who doesn't get stale and has to remain on his toes to deal with each situation as it arises. It wasn't all bad, of course; Last Train to Cairo is six kinds of awesome, and Said and Nassir are two of the most memorable characters this game has produced. Before my new Dragon alt dims my memories of my time among the bats and wolves of Romania, I wanted to jot down what I felt made this a special place to visit. Egypt drew upon the Mummy mythos as well as Indiana Jones, although I wasn't seeing as many strong connections to other fictional tropes past this. The werewolves come across as powerful, primal foes that nonetheless are subjugated by the vampiric order.
There are several allies you meet that might look human, but appearances deceive their true nature. Even after I leave, they are still waiting in the cold forest for sharp things in the night to bite them.
It turns out that the writers may have saved some of their best creations for those who persevered to the end. Some of the enemies are almost impossible to defeat if you're not debuffing them or afflicting them with certain conditions.
There's so much build-up about the queen of vampires coming back and oh how that'll be such a terrible thing. I loved the old-soul feel of the place, and there were plenty of creative locations (such as the largest wooden windmill I ever did see) to be had. Before I started raving I was really into wearing combat boots and eye liner and fingernail polish and wearing too much black and playing Vampire: The Masquerade. It'll never be the Holy Land of dance music because people would rather listen to rap and R 'n B than to dance music.
We'd also like to give our new co-blogger Sin an official welcome, an amazing human being from Delft studying industrial design and deeply in love with dance music. The typical, cutting bass line takes good presence in this tune, carrying enchanting female vocals; A?Break it down, smash it up, back to where you began. On top of that our little one knows how to host a radio show and he knows how to do it well. The funky haired MC has the typical British accent, a perfect sense of humor and a mouthful of random anecdotes.
We've been promised solid future days with banging line-ups and the return of Rauwweekender in April and a mini-Rauw with Joakim and Krikor in March. I've never seen or heard anyone get so excited about Surkin tracks as them, with the obvious exception of most of the writers of this blog.
It'll make you want to get up and do the White Knight Two drugs dance to all of his selected tracks.
Next to that he's a part of the (electronic) hip-hop formation TTC, worked together with the likes of Lio and Alexis Week and owns the streets of Paris with his fantastic swagger and on-point sense of style. Yes, I just did a capsule collection with Phenomenon, it's out mainly in Japan and in a couple of French stores, namely Colette and Pigalle. Hip-hop scene in the US: Having trouble surviving the downfall of the music industry, looking for inspiration in various external music scenes with variable results. If you're into 90's gangster rap with a French romantic twist, I suggest Stomy Bugsy and the Ministere Amer stuff.
Like each room is assigned to two girls, and while I'm away they have the duty to entertain each other. I didn't, but my exposure to these topics through quests, places, encounters, and bee lore have opened my eyes to these subjects and led me to do a little after-game reading on the internet. Each type pulls and tugs on different parts of our brain, refusing to let us fall into a boring, complacent routine. But no matter what, I walk away from those missions having learned a thing or two while having fun doing them.

By Blue Mountain you're either getting it or you're going to have to go back to boot camp for a while until you can figure things out.
But Transylvania seemed like this juicy fruit that hovered just out of reach the entire time I was in Egypt -- and I couldn't wait to be there.
All signs point to Tokyo as embracing the J-horror phenomenon, so throw grenades down any well you encounter there.
And then there are the local legends, the spirits of the forest that are strange and deadly in their own way. One of the few that I did run, a mission involving a ton of music, was visually bugged to the point of unplayability in the final tier.
Yet we really never see this threat arise, and by the time that a little psychic girl (and her magical teddy bear) was thrown into the mix, I just felt confused instead of enthralled. Its packed full of fantastic tracks, indeed they managed to play a great set while actually not using several of my favourites from the LP, and the album itself manages to throw down 20 second beats between songs that would have been lead tracks for other artists' albums. Especially when assessing records to the year of release; in ten years nobody is going to care about these 365 days complexes anymore. Our two gifted Stockholmers announced they are releasing new material this year, which hopefully promises us a worthy follow-up to their debut Boylife. Then i got really into Drum 'n Bass, especially the XXX label that had Dylan, Loxy, Bkey and Facs on it, really dark evil Drum 'n Bass.
Also it's a very obvious revolt against the bright colors that were nu rave and a way to make myself less accessible to people who don't get it, and bandwagon jumpers that are trying to get into "electro" way after the fact.
I can listen to this album all the way through over and over, I'd been listening to Telefon Tel Aviv since the first album and they just get better and better. Take it left, take it right, come on say it again.A? If Drone and this tune are the standard of his debut I'm pretty sure I don't want to listen to it. A bit of industrial acid-techno in there amongst some frozen balearic gay biker house, and not to forget our first love Qoso!
Bring a little bit of dat dance hall vibe into your living room and listen to Toddla T (A?The big boy DJ, no-one can tell him nothing!A?) taking over the Ras Kwame's best black music show.
Listening to two or three tracks made me laugh out loud quite a couple of times, especially the nerdy internet joke lines like "we're not friends on Facebook" are well brought. Then they showed considerable guts and left both those tracks off the album.A The result is startling a€“ Chew Lips take us on an astonishing jaunt on Unicorn, consorted by teeth-hurting sweet vocals, striking bass lines, persistent drums and dartly synthesizers. We're giving away two tickets to the first regular edition of Rauw New Stijl in Amsterdam with L-Vis 1990, Treasure Fingers, Le Le and Riton in Melkweg (Amsterdam, February 12th), and another two tickets to Rauw New Stijl in Tivoli Oudegracht the day after with Riton and Le Le (Utrecht, February 13th). So it's only logical that the long awaited release of new material by our tiny Institubes miracle has got us as well as Jaymo pumped up with excitement! Our lovely French kroket talked to us about his sources of inspiration, what we can expect from him and Sound Pellegrino this year and has dreamed up a lovely future plan for La Planete Magique.
Well, not all day, but since breakfast is such a big deal for you guys there was definitely a lot of hagelslag involved. Remains exciting despite lacking the maestria and epicness it still had a couple of years ago. In the 80's there was once a theme park in the middle of Paris called "La Planete Magique", centered around French-produced tv shows such as Mysterious Cities Of Gold, Inspector Gadget, etc.
If you look at missions as puzzles, then action missions challenge you to use your combat skills to overcome obstacles, sabotage missions challenge you to use the environment to reach your goal, investigation missions challenge you to use your brain to get to the end, and side missions can be any of the above. These beings struck me as the natives who are seeing their home bulldozed by the evil and filth that is spreading everywhere.
Maybe I need to go through it all again or wait for Issue #7, but I didn't really get her role or how Transylvania fit into the larger storyline of the filth. Featuring one of the best samples in hip hop, and honed to perfection by Pete Rock, it still knocks today, carrying a weight in its sound that few hip hop tracks have ever managed to create. If it wasn't for Juan Atkins techno might have been birthed from somewhere else than Detroit. For a taste of what he's been up to stream his mixtape called A?The Blood Has Gone BlackA? here. The time in my life when I first heard this album was really mirrored by the tracks on here and I don't think anyone in electronic music or any other music has channeled sadness so well. To celebrate the existence of Sin, I'll provide you a couple of tracks that are definitely worth listening to. I'd rather prevent a heart attack than die because I can't handle the abnormal quality of the album. TRUANTS will be starting an online petition for his own Radio Show on BBC1 soon, check back! It's not all about chuckling though: She might like cinnamon chicken and fried ice cream but she also speaks about young people and the economic crisis at several conferences.
I hated kroketten at first because I was expecting it to be a solid meatball, or more something along the lines of a chicken McNugget, but then I bit into it and oh, suprise!
So while mainstream US hip-hop (arguably the only form of US hip-hop worth paying attention to, since the downfall of underground rap when it became obsessed with its own seriousness) is looking for new ways of staying exciting, it crosses path with dance music through the prism of David Guetta.
It got closed down one year after having opened, due to shady management and security problems. The Deluxe Edition of the album features a previously unseen acapella of the track, which for many will be reason enough to buy it. I'm kicking off the Monthly XX item.A My most anticipated track of the last couple of weeks is definitely the DJ Q remix of Woo Riddim, January's reply to December's Virgo EP. Until more of their new releases hit the net enjoy yourselves with this chilled track, that will bring a little bit of the Spring mood into your hearts. And although his online persona suggests something different, Johnny still is the same old amiable persona and sat down to answer some of our questions.
And although Unicorn provides us a wide variety of flavors and melodies, every track leans heavily on Tigsa€™ exquisite and severe vocals. It's not solid but full of a weird non-identified liquidish thing with cream and mushrooms! And yes, I've been friends with Lionel from Sixpack for years and years and I collaborated with them many times but this year I really have a great idea for a Sixpack tee and we're gonna make it happen. The background to Deathface, his love for Telefon Tel Aviv, eating Zac Efron alive and disasters in the club.
A favorite of my teen years, I can only say I wish I had as much talent as Trent Reznor had in this time, period. She chronicles about all aspects of life, and the songs sound like British hiphop - Uncooked but delightful. But I'm slowly starting to get into it thanks to the Heykids who took me to a very decent place recently. And my solo single exists in my head, it's all written, I'm just waiting on the producers to finish some of the beats. Anyway the guys lived up to those expectations and delivered some funky electro techno that proves those 'old' guys still got the shit. I don't know if it's the simplicity or the happy feeling about her video but I highly recommend it, just like all songs streamed from her MySpace. If you heard our little Sound Pellegrino Thermal Team remix of United Groove then you know what to expect. But there was talks of organizing huge parties inside before they teared the whole thing down.
The first two Manson albums were really good but Antichrist Superstar really ramped it up with all the book of revelations references, which probably had an influence on me not going into seminary to become a priest, haha.
It's the month where everything is pink, everybody gushes over each other, and couples proudly flaunt PDA (Public Displays of Affection). Okay, I'm gonna stop there before I start referencing albums that'll make people who read Pitchfork think I'm deep. In the meantime, the love-handicapped roam the streets, eating discount Valentine's chocolates like a pack of hungry squirrels, sitting patiently by their phones waiting for a text message to say "I love you!", and drinking Dirty Molotovs (a drink I coined: it's basically any alcohol you can scrounge up in your house [rubbing alcohol included], seven squirts of chocolate syrup, a half glass of Gatorade Rain [preferably room temperature], and a handful of freezer frost. It was mostly intellectual non-club music and apparently they had mad restrictions and didn't have the authorization to use the whole place but anyway, just the idea of it was simply amazing and made me fantasize about a dream festival for many many months. They made a full website with pictures, acting as if the park was still fully operational, you can check it out here. And when you have those days were the both of you say fuck the world, stay home, and do nothing but lay in bed all day. Don't take love for granted, don't just celebrate Valentine's Day because you have to, celebrate it because you want to. And for my love zombie brethren out there, here's to getting wasted and finding the love of your life.

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