Author Archive: Isey
My 3 year old son is in his “why?” phase. I knew this day would come, and have spent the past three years preparing for it. I refuse to give in and tell him “because I said so”, or “stop saying that”, and have mentally prepared myself for when he goes off on the “why?” chain. I break down each question to a more micro level until it borders rediculous. A typical exchange between the two of us goes something like this:
- HIM: Dad, why are those two people kissing?
- ME: Because they love each other.
- HIM: Why?
- ME: Because they met, either at a bar or a wedding or something along those lines, were both completely bored out of their minds, maybe had a bit too much to drink, and became interested in one another enough to get to know each other better
- HIM: Why?
- ME: Probably because most people in society define themselves by the partner they choose
- HIM: Why?
- ME: Humans have a natural instinct to preserve the species through reproduction, regardless of how overpopulated we have made the world
- HIM: Why?
- ME: At our core, we are just made up billions of cells that each perform a specific function, who a long, long time ago decided to hook up with billions of other little cells that performed a different function. Forming these little cell communities it was learned that more could be accomplished including the most important thing of all: survival. Now, when one set of billions of little cells happens upon another set of billions of little cells who has traits that seems to increase that chance of survivability even further there is a mutual attraction to ensure survival of the fittest. Strength in numbers, afterall, sonny-boy.
- HIM: Oh. I see. Do you love Mommy?
- ME: Why, yes I do
- HIM: Why?
- ME: …
[note: I really should insert something very clever here, such as she is my sould mate, or at bare minimum how she puts up with my often questionable hygiene practices – however the exchange was shared for a specific purpose, not to gain brownie points with my wife. Besides, the brownie point market is cornered by Prada, and I do not want to hedge in on their specialty.]
I know where he gets it, because I am always as interested in the “why?” as I am the fact. When Zubon made the comment that MMO’s compete for his dollars (and as such he has less leniency for post-beta product expectations) I wanted to understand better why I have much more leniency. To do that, I went back and revisited my MMO history and when, and why, I moved from MMO to MMO. Doing this will hopefully shed some light why there always seems to be two camps when it comes to MMO “issues”, so perhaps we can better define these camps – but more importantly, answer “why?”
Why does a new and shiny MMO corrode into old and dull? My first traditional MMO was Everquest – a game that I beta tested. I played EQ from release through the Shadows of Luclin expansion. My experience in EQ was a bit different than most, as I solely played on the testserver (through the item wipe – yay!). Back in the day EQ was magical, and the community I became a part of there was rediculously strong – part because it was the first 3D mmo for a lot of people but also because of the nature of the testserver. While I still make the odd post on my old guild’s website, the posts are typically months in between (but still fun to see people connecting). I still really enjoyed EQ when I left, but time limitations and always falling behind my in game friends was frustrating. Add to that, many people moving on to DAOC, the population dwindled as my time became more valuable, and it was time for me to visit new shores.
I joined DAOC about a year after release, and because of my past positive experience on the EQ testserver rolled up on Pendragon (which was also where some of my guildmates in EQ had gone for the same reason). Shiny and new still wasn’t quite as exciting as when EQ first launched (you never forget your first, right? What was her name again?) and toiled in guild leadership for the first time, in the Pendragon guild ‘Legends’, which was the leader of the Midgard alliance. Many years and RvR battles later and stomaching through the Trials of Atlantis expansion (after the developer inspired destruction of the Pendragon population), the game wasn’t fun for me anymore. My lone Shadowblade without the benefit of his Left Axe anymore, standing at the Emain Macha milegate waiting for something – anything – to kill or die to began talking to himself which surely wasn’t healthy. My co-gm and steadfast friend, Loremon, had left long ago to a new World (of Warcraft). Bile, my shadowblade parter extraordinaire no longer stood with me at the milegate as he was off getting some sort of real job, and Mehlan and his puppy were off driving a motorbike somewhere. Torrential was still around, but he was already planning for his funeral, and the blue color of alliance chat became less about defeating our enemies and more about how much ToA ruined DAOC, or even worse, how possible it was to solo or two man a keep – since that was all that was on the server at the time. While Loremon was resolute on having me join him in WoW, I was never quite ready when he asked. I finally was.
World of Warcraft, again, about a year after launch, was okay. The world didn’t WOW me like the previous two (pardon the pun?) and it was so simple comparatively to my previous two major MMO’s I almost felt my intelligence was insulted at first. It took me a while to shine up to WoW and the busier I became in my professional life, the more I appreciated it as it really worked for my schedule. I rolled a hunter a first (before I knew that everyone was already a hunter, and that no one needed – or wanted one – tagging around for anything back in those days) got to max level in a guild that Loremon was in – and then realized there was nothing for me to do. About that time, Loremon left (damn you!) and while I was with a good group of people, because of the solo nature of WoW I didn’t really know any of them. Everyone solo’d up to max level than began to figure out what to do in a group. There were no true bonds made, and I was ready to hang it up. I started reading boards, and learned how important (and rare) Druids were at the time – Innervate was one of the most important skills in the game back then and I decided to roll a druid, get to max level, and see the other part of what made WoW supposedly special – the end game raiding. The casual and bond-less guild I was a part of fell apart, and I made my trek solo again (not surprisingly), got to where I wanted to be, and began searching for a guild. My needs in a guild were a bit different now, being, uh, old – and I was very specific on what I wanted. The first time I posted on the WoW server boards “Level 60 druid, looking for guild” I received 20 replies the first day. Druids were indeed in demand, and for the first time in my WoW experience, I felt semi important. I joined the Grey Rangers, and it was a perfect fit. Not a bleeding end game content guild but a “hey, there are actually people like me playing in this game” guild. People mattered, families mattered, and the game and progress mattered – but the latter was third on the list. The leadership of that guild had it figured out real nice, and pretty much instantly after I joined that guild WoW turned out to be a good game. Funny how that happens. BC expansion was on the horizon, and the guild changed – we had recruited so many people and different camps had formed on in game expectations (to fill out a 40 man raiding roster) and at that time a small group of people decided they wanted something different when the expansion came with the new reduced raid size. Ascension was born, I somehow greased enough palms to be voted in as it’s Guild Master, and after a rough start and a lot of organizing and hard work with a ton of help from a lot of amazing people, we hit a great raiding stride – suddenly WoW was an AWESOME game. After being a GM for what seemed like a very long time (although much shorter in reality) 18 months into the expansion my professional life became rediculously busy, and while I didn’t have the time to do my GM job properly I somehow made it work – but inside I knew my time was coming. I had no excitement for the WOTLK announced expansion, the idea of levelling again the same old way, to get the same old loot rewards to face the same old raid bosses with maybe a twist or two to mechanics had zero interest for me. The people still did (do) but I couldn’t justify playing a scheduled 15 hours a week anymore with a young family, work overwhelming me, and additional responsibilities in game, so I stepped down, and let my subscription run out.
I did toy with a few other MMO’s during the WoW phase, notably DDO and LOTR but neither did it for me. I beta tested over 15 titles from 1998 to current, but the aforementioned titles are the only games I truely played.
My little personal history lesson has showed me one thing – I leave games when I am ready to, regardless of what is out there on the market. Perhaps that is why I have a lot of leniency for new games coming out of beta and going live, because I am not looking for the new game to “beat” my current experience, rather, I am looking for a new experience – one that fits my current personal, professional, and entertainment needs. My question to you, my esteemed readership (of 5?), is what makes you leave your current titles for new ones?
With Warhammer:Age of Reckoning just around the corner gaming boards accross the world have been flooded with impressions and bold predictions, on how WAR will fail, or WAR will kill WoW. I have beta tested this game for a while, and while I will spare you the 1000th review – I will state that I have preordered the CE and will be playing the title instead of WoW. Back to the article title, the inevitable comparisons between the two drive me nuts. Maybe it should be ‘DRIVE ME NUTS’
Here is a tip people – MMO’s don’t kill each other, they kill themselves. The natural life cycle of any MMO is to grow, then peak, then slowly die. WoW didn’t kill Everquest. A 10-million-avid-gamer-comet couldn’t kill the dinosaur, so why do people even begin to think a new title will have any sort of impact on the king of MMO’s? It won’t. What WAR will do, is create another good option for gamers who have outgrown existing titles to move on to. And move on they shall.
My relationship with the Battlefield series started backwards. I was stuck in MMO land for a long time until a WoW guildmate introduced me to Battlefield 2142. The pace was fun, it was a nice change, and I quickly renewed my love for FPS’s with the title. After spending a year or so in 2142, I ended up joining a clan since I was spending so much time on their server. It was a good fit.
I rarely go back and buy old titles. FLOT reintroduced a BF2 server, and wanting more options to play I picked up the complete BF2 pack for $29.99 and jumped right in- and loved it. My criticism of the Battlefield series is pretty simple. I long for a FPS that has realistic strategic and tactic elements. Most FPS’s out right now focus on fun, fast paced gameplay but strategy and tactics take a back seat. The proof is in bunny hopping, dolphin diving, rocket jumping, grenade jump throwing theatrics. Nothing annoyed me more than having a solid crouch with my weapon ready, an enemy run around a corner I was covering, and before I could drop him he would leap, turn 240 degrees in mid flight, go prone midair and kill me with a headshot before he hit the ground. I don’t blame players – players will take every advantage an engine allows them to be “elite”. I just want a company to build an FPS engine that rewards smart squad play. None really have. Thank god for the mod community.
Project Reality 0.8 is released today, a popular mod for Battlefield 2. Finally, I had my wish. I only found the mod in version 0.75, and for the most part, my dreams have come true.
Project Reality addresses most of the topics that irk me in the current FPS landscape. It is an essay style laundry list, and instead of listing them all will touch upon a few basic things that make this mod shine, to give you the flavor of it.
- No squad, no chance: Going solo in PR is like going to your prom without a date. Sure, it’s a bold move, but there is no chance of a prom dress hitting the floor at the end of the night.
- Imaginary crosshairs are gone: You actually have to move to your scope/sights to hit anything further than 10 feet away
- Vehicles are actual assets: You will not see jihad jeep/kamikazee pilots as vehicles are worth big ticket counts and can take as long as 20 minutes to respawn. Vehicles are an advantage as they should be, but they are valued and protected.
- Goodbye ‘nade spammers: Jumping while throwing a grenade makes it LESS accurate, and goes a shorter distance. Surely, if jumping while throwing was any sort of benefit you would see the BOSOX outfielders throwing mid jump to get a runner out at the plate. Also, supplies (and resupplies) take longer and are much more limited
- No minimap for infantry: This is one of my favorites. You actually have to identify enemies both at a distance and in close quarters. No more living staring at your minimap to see where enemies are. The spotting system is also removed, with only certain kits having the function.
There is way too much to list. I didn’t even touch upon the new maps, and game modes (which are very fun and refreshing) or the new models and armies. Where PR wins, is the community. There are always a lot of servers populated, and don’t be afraid to say “I’m new” to PR when you first join a squad. Most players are very helpful in getting you started, and you are going to need it. PR is a completely different game than what you are used to. If you are looking for a strategic simulation in your FPS gaming, you have to check it out. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but as evidenced in the community surrounding the game, it is for a lot of people who feel the current FPS options are lacking. My only wish now is for a publisher to give these guys a budget, a new engine, and mainstream a new game based off of it.
I’m going to wrap this up with an in game example of how the game plays out, from my last round. I had a sniper kit, and was lying in a desert mountain area overlooking a shambled city. I had a spotter with me, who would read out compass readings on enemies spotted. I would take one or two down, and relocate to a different area before the enemy figured out where we were perched. Zooming in the crosshairs, I caught an enemy truck off in the distance and watched a squad unload and set a rally point (spawn area). On order from their commander, they had their shovels out and were building a bunker. I notified my team and our commander issued orders to squad 2 to go take them out. I had them covered from the west with the sniper rifle but didn’t want to let the enemy know we knew where they were, so I relayed their movements to the squad approaching them from the north with my finger lightly on the trigger, waiting for the moment to strike. Squad 2 was in position. They had a Heavy Machinegun proned and setup who began to lay down suppression fire (covering N/S) while I had a high vantage point covering E/W. Two enemy squad members tried to break off from the bunker to circle around the Heavy Machinegun while their squad leader pulled out his binoculars and peeked over the hill to see if they could escape from the west. Boom! Headshot. The 2 enemies trying to circle around didn’t have safe enough terrain, were pinned down by the HMG and were soon taken out by the circling squad 2 members. One enemy panicked and jumped into the truck and tried to drive away – the hilly terrain slowed him and made him an easy target as both sniper fire and the HMG riddled the vehicle with bullets. Denied any sort of mobility or escape route, the three remaining enemies took up defensive positions in the bunker preparing themselves for their final fire fight.
Only Francis Ford Coppola could script it better.
We are all Experts! (notice the clever use of capitalization for emphasis). Surely we all are, are we not? We have blogs and a voice to share our “expert” (notice clever use of quotations) knowledge and profound experiences!
I have always been interested in blogging yet never really motivated. I scour message boards and blogs – a fervent fan – but never an author. Something about having a single place to share personal opinions, instead of having to post all over the place, is attractive. Wondering if anyone will actually read the posts, is terrifying. I refused to read any guides or posts on how to start your own blog taking my preferred approach of jumping right in. Feet first mind you, as I am still not quite sure how deep the pool is in this end.
I HAS PC – Silly name, I know. Part of it is a play on how internet society has shaped our own language, the jokes between gamers and PC enthusiasts (all ur base are belong to us – anyone? Bueller?) but the truth is, I do have a PC, and I am an avid gamer. Currently I am entrenched in MMO’s and FPS’s. Fortunately for me, I have been in many a beta test since the late 1990’s and have enjoyed an insider view on game development. A lot of what I post here will surround the games I am involved in, the groups and organizations that are built around those same games, and the friends (and enemies) that post their opinions about both. Add in a dash of general interest topics, life as a gamer with family, professional, and child raising responsibilites (and funnies when they pop up now and again – who can live without the funnies?) – and we should have a fun little rounded blog here.
We all consider our own opinions important. Heck, it is one of the few things we have that that isn’t taxed (regularly) by the government. We have an abundance of them, an endless resupply, and many outlets to distribute them. Opinions are a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. Do our opinions shape who we are, or is it who we are that forms our opinions? Regardless, I encourage everyone to add theirs on topics brought up. One thing I have learned, is that I have grown the most from other people who enjoy discussion and have opinions very different from mine.
The look and feel of the site will evolve as I figure it out. Special thanks to GTB for setting up the initial stage for me. Comments on the look and feel are very much welcome.
Well, there we go. First post done, and in the books.