FPS

Destiny 2 Wishlist

With my new PC on delivery delay (went from April 25th to May 18th)  and still stuck in a trickling advancement with Destiny – I did get my Division code from Razor and installed it on my old Laptop. I really feel like that game might be best played on the PS4. 60″ TV and all. It was also hard to transition to the third person shooter aspect after being focused on Destiny for most of my gaming time. Granted, I only played for 15 minutes this morning but the backdrops were really beautiful as I went through a decimated New York.

Drifting on thoughts on what I’d like to see in Destiny 2 which is scheduled to arrive sometime in 2017. My wish list is simple for the game and it is mostly made up of things I wish Destiny 1 had. That is what sequels are for anyway, right? So here goes. With the why:

  1. Ships as social hubs: It is annoying to have to land at the tower to grab Vanguard bounties everyday. It has zero benefit except to land, run 20 steps, click 8 times, then orbit. Make ships social areas for friends but also have access to vendors either directly or via communication devices.. Shades of the old KOTOR here. The ships are awesome and fun to collect but offer nothing in terms of game play except to act as a transition phase to instances.
  2. Ships as content: With amazing space ships should come cool ship battles. Or at least some type of game to truly enjoy them. It could just be such a bigger part of the game, even if not a core or super important one. Some sort of shooting mini game as you approach a landing or something similar.
  3. Matchmaking for all levels and styles of game play: If WoW can make LFR tools for their most complex and challenging raid content then there is no excuse or reason why Bungie can’t do the same. Heck, just walk down the hall (figuratively) and ask.
  4. Vehicles: I really don’t expect this and it would be getting a bit too close to Planetside but there is an opportunity in Destiny to add in a bit more interaction on the vehicle front. The Sparrow races were a really cool feature.  There could be more opportunities to use vehicles as part of the game play
  5. Cross platform Play: Really don’t see what the point is in not having this – especially since it is the exact same game on all platforms. I get that PC doesn’t play well with Consoles (easier to shoot with a mouse) so maybe you need to restrict PVP in certain situations.  The health of the community would be far better off with more players. I also find it pretty funny that the PS4 got some exclusives – the sparrow for example – which now every single player in the game has. It does not feel exclusive one bit. Showing it off to your Xbox friends with a friendly side dose of trash talk would make exclusives have some sort of sense.

I am tapped out on the game and miss it. I can’t really advance past 315 without a ton of grind or a ton of luck. I did start leveling a Warlock but that is hard to go back to the basics when the higher end game play is so much fun. Until some DLC or D2 arrives I will have some options but I am now at the point where thinking about Destiny 2 is taking up more of my time than playing Destiny 1.

Do you have any hopes or dreams for D2?

Uncomfortable With Hatred

Hatred in the general sense, but more so in the upcoming gaming title. Watch the trailer:

First off “May Contain Content Innappropriate for Children?” Seriously? Do I need to make a snarky/sarcastic comment here? The polish studio Destructive Creations is behind this upcoming shooter.

Secondly, let me guess – this falls under First Amendment rights somewhere? I feel guilty for even linking to it in some regards, because it adds to the attention and hype this game is getting already.

Thirdly – maybe I am a hypocrite for complaining about this.

See, fair and balanced.

Typically in my FPS games I justify my mass slaughtering and shootings based on a few principals that make me feel okay, or even good about it. They are not all present in all of my shooting games but usually more than one is (in no particular order):

  1. its just a game
  2. the “other” side is trying to hurt me (unprovoked)
  3. the “other” side is trying to hurt a group/people I feel responsible for protecting
  4. something external/out of my control justifies my actions
  5. its a preset match/game between two or more teams or cooperatively between people

Pretty clear cut and as far as list goes, covers pretty much all FPS games I have played. Halo:1,2,3. Battlefield:1,2,5. Destiny: 1,2,3.  Left 4 Dead: 1,2,5. Team Fortress: 1,2,5. Bioshock: 1,2,4. Etc. You get it.

As far as I can tell, Hatred (the game), only has one from that list. The first. No other FPS I have played relies on just the first one and it makes me uncomfortable. I am also a non-violent person and it is hard to watch the clips.

The reason I used “hypocrite” comment is that I didn’t make a big deal when Payday came out – the game where you are a criminal robbing banks, killing cops (and my dad is a retired cop). It still has 1, 2, a dash of 5. I never played Payday: The Heist but I believe that you actually get penalized for killing innocents (not so for the boys in blue, however.) There is also an awful lot of killing in general in shooters, and not all of them are morally clear if you really dig deep. Even Destiny isn’t – I posted in the past (tongue in cheek) that we are slaughtering tons of aliens for no clear reason that the story supports. Heck, we go into THEIR planets and do it. They are just defending themselves.

Almost all of our games contain violence of some sort – against animals, monsters, each other – you name it, combat is a part of our gaming lives. So why does Hatred get under my skin? What makes it so uncomfortable for me? I think it is because of the helplessness of the innocents portrayed in the video. Violence for the sake of violence with no other goal or outcome but death feels senseless.

But wait, can’t you do that in GTA games? Just blow up bystanders, run over them?

Perhaps then it isn’t the senselessness that bothers me, but the personal, up close nature of it? (The woman crying for her life, the multiple stomach stabbing wounds..) Once you cross into a title like this it makes me wonder what is next. Game about rape? Suicide bombing? Doing bad things to children? (that last one makes me squeamish to even think about)

Thing is, I also like horror movies. At least in those it’s usually a group of people trying to escape the horror and not commit it.

As a marketing ploy, it’s brilliant. People are, and will, talk about this game. A lot. I’m curious if that will turn into sales.

Personally I hope not. I’m still trying to sort out why I feel about it the way I do, and looking forward to reading the thoughts of others while the game is developed and the video circulates.

500 Million Dollar Baby

It seems a pretty fair and common thought that people equate the cost of an item with how good it is. A 5 million dollar home is probably better than a 1 million dollar home, which is better than a $100,000 trailer. A FERRARI is better than a BMW which in turn is better than a FIAT. While the term “better” in those instances would probably need a bit of debating let’s not get into nit picking here. I think we can all agree that in the most basic sense that the greater the monetary cost of something the higher the expectation of that item is (on whatever metric that item is measured on.)

By that logic, Destiny should be the best game ever. The $500+ million invested in it by Activision is the most I have ever heard of spent on a game. I spent five hours playing Destiny last night, and its good. It’s not 500 million good though. Not even close.

Before I give it some minor criticism here I do want to be clear that I had fun in my 5 hours. This is not a “bash the game” post and I feel the game is worth buying. However, this is more of a strong curiosity of how that game cost 500 million – that is a shocking number. I felt Diablo 3 had better flow and production value. People who read this site know that I don’t do “reviews” – I do share my thoughts on games though. Some random thoughts and observations about Destiny (good and bad):

  • I was playing the Xbox 360 version and the graphics were on par with my expectations for Xbox 360. I have said here before that I don’t do FPS on controllers and immediately as I played I thought of how much better this would be with a mouse and keyboard.
  • How can a 500 million dollar title not include a PC release?
  • The story – one of the things that made me excited for the title – is really weak. There are some cool things going on and a cool back story but playing through the first 5 story missions there are a lot that isn’t clear on things. Maybe that gets better the further along but currently it is just a disjointed set of softly related cut scenes and text. While I would rate the back story something that is incredibly intriguing and interesting to me, the way it is playing out in game feels non consequential. Mass Effect has a way better story. Most FPS’s story modes do as well. It’s not blending (so far).
  • The characters look cool. The gear looks cool. The guns and items are varied and fun to try out. They did well here.
  • The environments are also very cool. I have just been to Old Russia and the Tower, but it is a compelling backdrop (just needs a better story to act it out in!)
  • The single player story campaign isn’t really single player. Random other players will be in the same staging areas until you reach a boss fight or key, non-spawning area at which point it becomes instanced to you and your group. This is a bit frustrating at times as I like to setup long range snipes or stealth kills. While setting up, someone is going “Rambo” all over the place and taking those away. I think the story mode should be single player – would feel more realistic.
  • Further to the above a better solution would be to be able to group on the fly. I did 2 steps in a quest chain only to have another player invite me – and that sounded good to try. It reset me back to my ship to start the whole thing all over. Now, I am not sure if that is just because he chose to reset it – that is the only player I played with. The rest was solo.
  • The AI is pretty bad. I know maybe it is supposed to be at the lower levels but most levels can be beat by hanging back and sniping away. Some of the Hive enemies do rush you but for the most part, its a shooting gallery. Hopefully this improves in levels.
  • While the AI is bad, the game itself is very challenging. There are normal and hard levels but no “easy”. As a controller FPS newb I am chalking that up to me just being bad right now. It felt less difficult (just a bit) as I became more comfortable with the controls, got some gear and levels and new skills.

Five hours isn’t a lot and I am going to spend tonight with a different class (I rolled a Titan, figuring I’d need the armor to help me acclimatize to the controller side) and I am enjoying myself. It will be neat to see how (if) my views change on anything the more comfortable I get and the higher level I get.

Back to the 500M tag – I read that that includes marketing as well. So if you look at it the way this article does there are some other reasons to consider. I, with my cynical marketing spend outlook will break it down like this with the production value I have experienced through play and videos and experiences on the web and other websites.

  • Xbox 360 version: 25 million
  • PS3 version: 25 million
  • Xbox ONE version: 50 million
  • PS4 version: 50 Million
  • Marketing: 350 Million

Yes, I overdid the Marketing angle (on purpose) but between the Live Action Trailer, backgrounds on major retailer websites, TV commercials and all the rest of the hype – I bet this is Activision’s top spend EVER in promoting a game. It makes sense too – this is an unknown IP, there is no subscription model and all the money is made up front. Hook as many as you can, as fast as you can, roll in money. It’s a fair strategy. I’d love to see the real breakdown someday. At the end of my own brush with Destiny and comparing it with my other gaming experiences across platforms, the 500 million dollar investment doesn’t shine through.

It’s a nice ride and I plan on driving it for a while – but I was expecting a Ferrari – simply by the price tag.

Shooters, Consoles and Destiny – Oh My!

2 lions on the savana

I have a long love of First Person Shooters and much like the MMO genre it has pretty much left me behind. The FPS experience wanted today and how they are programmed are very much not the kind of FPS I enjoy. I cut my teeth on shooters with Rainbow Six multi-player ladder. Rainbow Six was a crazy concept in shooters – bullets hurt! So if you got shot, you died. This made you play a certain way that had a lot of sense to it – be careful, check your corners, rely on teammates. There wasn’t even bunny hopping. The cool thing about that time in gaming is that there was no matchmaking so you had to go to a forum to set up your matches, and after both sides would report back the score, and the ladder would move. It was awesome.

From there I did the Battlefield series and spent a LOT of time with Battlefield 2142. The vehicular components and 64 v 64 was just epic and while there were some elements I didn’t enjoy (radar, revive) I spent years playing that game in a clan with our own servers. FLOT (Forward Line of Own Troops) is still on my gamer tag in steam. Near the end of my run with BF2142 I discovered Project Reality and that is the perfect FPS experience for my taste. Strategy, building, one shot deaths – no bunny hopping commandos. No squad? good luck living. Medics were limited (dead you are dead) and they could sometimes stop bleeding, but only in limited amounts. The key in this game was that you never wanted to get shot and you played that way. I still consider it the best First Person Shooter experience on the market – as long as you have the patience to learn the ropes. They are working on a standalone product (it is currently a mod) and I have a few posts tagged with them if you want to read more.

I still enjoyed some parts of the Call of Duty series but it was just the solo experience. The stories were okay to play through. The multi-player I just couldn’t get into – too twitchy and I was really looking for the thrill and experience of surviving a gunfight. It became far too arcade-y for my preference.  Much like my patience for the future MMO that immerses, I am waiting for the day the FPS does as well. They just aren’t my style anymore.

I haven’t jumped into the new console era yet. My X-Box 360 plays all the new titles just fine and besides, I have a PC for “serious” gaming. Consoles are for “social” gaming on premise – to have a bunch of friends over playing Madden, or other games with 2+ people. Of course that is a great way to play on a console. My kid and his friends are not going near my PC, but their grimy little paws can manhandle an X-Box controller all day without  my worry. And have you ever played a FPS on a console? It pales in comparison to PC gaming. I think my principled stance on the new consoles (and much to the failure of the way X-Box One is trending) is the lack of backward compatibility. Surely on a $500 rig based on computer technology they could sort that out. I guarantee I would have bought an X-Box ONE if they could – now I am toying with a PS4. Either way, now I have to have two units hooked up to enjoy my back catalog – something the PC completely avoids. I just don’t see the point of upgrading for better graphics when my computer already outperforms both.

The new way I started using my console this year is for exercise. I have a nice 60″ LED in the basement that the X-Box is hooked up to, and my elliptical just happens to be facing that TV (albeit pretty far back). I have a personal commitment to health and do 3 or 4 nights a week (I said commitment – not crazy passion!) in one hour chunks. Diablo 3 has been a blast to play that way and I think Skyrim is next (I bought it but barely played it).  The controller is a huge help here as mouse and keyboard would be impossible while on the machine and the multitasking is awesome. The X-Eliptical 360 is a great way for combining gaming and health. Anyone out there get current gen with the X-Box ONE or PS4? Was it worth the pickup?

All the above being said I would be lying if I didn’t say I was interested in Destiny, the hot and upcoming shooter from Activision and of course you already know of this. There are some compelling elements – The setting itself looks fantastic and the opportunity for a story play through with MMO elements and persistent character growth is hard to turn down. My main concern when researching the title is the shooter on console experience. I know a ton of people do it and I am sure with practice it is something I can get used to – but that is a big departure from any way I have played FPS’s. Go check out some of their media (if you haven’t) and the character development assets looks like the meld of an FPS with the single player MMO experience of today. And because it is a meld, and not either/or, that seems really attractive to me.

Are you going to Destiny? And if you are, and on the X-Box 360, want to run with me? Literally (elliptical gaming) and figuratively (saving the universe).

My Influential 15

One of my favorite blogs to visit is The Ancient Gaming Noob (TAGN) and he recently posted an Influential 15  list – started by another blogger and other sites are also playing along. The parts I read indicated not too many rules, but just do not overthink it – only take 15 minutes, and list them out.

This sounds like fun. I am going in chronological order!

Mario Bros (arcade) (1985)

I spent most of my allowance money playing this game with two of my best friends at the local bowling alley. It was close enough to our school that we could run there at lunch breaks, and always went right after school as well – but just for 20 minutes before racing home. This introduced me to the side scrolling platform [honorable mentions: Ghost and Goblins, Castlevania, Bionic Commando]

Hardball (c64) (1987)

Two teams – the red, power hitting team and the blue, speedy team. That was it in this baseball game. My brother and I played for hours at home – nice to not have to be at the arcade. (I always got stuck with the blue team). [Honorable mention: Madden (I still buy it every few years]

Police Quest (PC) (1987)

My first foray into the Sierra games series (King’s quest, Space Quest, etc.) and it was always a weekend event at one of my friend’s houses who had it. I think it took us 6 months to complete, since we only had limited weekend time (we mostly played outside – kids those days!)[honorable mention – Maniac Mansion]

Street Fighter (Arcade, SNES) (1987)

Another arcade favorite the one on one bragging rights was a blast. Learning the combos, fighting friends (and arcade enemies) for the right to stay on the machine for the next challenger… flipping a coin for the left or right hand side. All sorts of home field advantages. [Honorable mention: Mortal Combat]

Star control 2 (PC) (1992)

Exploration, adventure, discovery. Space. Has anyone come close since? I am avoiding throwing my money at Star Citizen yet watching it closely. That is a completely separate blog post. [Honorable Mention: Wing Commander. If only for the space.]

Doom (PC) (1993)

We had huge contests at university with Doom – inter dorm rivalries. My philosophy class suffered fiercely. I made a philosophical argument about augmented reality to the prof and he BFG’d me. University was so cool. [Honorable mention: Half Life]

NHL 94 (SEGA) (1993)

Oh Sega hockey, with the one move that would score 100% of the time.. that was up to you do defend properly. Both ends of the rink, there was that ONE move. Yet it was still awesome. Plus bleeding heads.

X com (PC) (1994)

Turn based mastery. This is on many ‘best of ever” lists, so not going to explain its full awesome-ness. Many have explained it better than I ever could. Xcom is the perfect example of a game you loved but refuse to play it again. I have it through steam. It sucked to relive it – but awesome the first time around. We are not conditioned to accept failing the first X missions before we have a chance. (see what I did there?) [Honorable mention – Civ 1 – bit of a stretch, but very turn based]

Baldur’s Gate (PC) (1998)

I had played a lot of Pen and Paper games and this one reminded me the most of them. I hadn’t played a lot of D&D at the time  and this was my first real foray and experience into that. I don’t even remember if I won or what happened in the game – I just remember the hours spent hunched in the darkness… in amazement. Just one more encounter. One more.

Rainbow Six (PC) (1998)

The AI could be buggy as hell when you were planning your rescues, but this was an AMAZING shooter – one shot and you are dead, get caught/spotted and the hostages are dead. Great premise and superbly executed at the time. You could do many missions in many different ways and had the choice of your own path. The planning and thinking part was as exciting for me as the executions. And oh yes, permadeath! [Honorable mention: Counter Strike]

Everquest (PC) (1999)

The MMO game changer that has spawned 100 clones, for better or for worse (often better, jaded vets may argue worse. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It was awesome and really kickstarted the genre.) It has ruined MMOs for me since, but that is also because of the testserver play environment (hint: community). The rose colored glasses often adorned!

Sims (PC) (2000)

Sims the original was the first game that I could get my girlfriends to play. And my non-gaming roommates. It was the first time I realized games could be for everyone. Then I invented the Wii. (or should have, at least). All that being said, I am pretty sure the things my girlfriend at the time did to the Sims (or tried to do) made me realize that maybe she wasn’t the one. Sicko. May have saved my life.

Dark Age of Camelot (PC) (2001)

My second MMO I played the heck out of and my first real PVP experience was also amazing. I also played on the testserver (Pendragon) and the strength of the community there really improved the overall experience. Sadly, game developers have learned that test servers make bad for the quick hitting types of testing they want with enough sample size, and they don’t really exist anymore. The lesson they should have learned is that smaller, more dedicated communities make for stronger ties. Another post. DAOC taught me to embrace PVP and how humans always beat AI on experience – always.

World of Warcraft (PC) (2004)

What to say? The most successful MMO ever made took an inaccessible genre and made it easy for everyone to participate. While I have spent my fair share of time arguing WoW has hurt the MMO space in many ways, you cannot argue against its influence. I still go back every expansion, do the theme park rides, /hug and /hi to my friends still playing, and then out again.  I think the next MMO Blizzard makes is going to say a lot about what they have learned from WoW. I’m intrigued.

Battlefield 2142 (PC) (2006)

The multiplayer FPS I judge all other FPSs against. It was great. It was better than great – it was awesome. The kits, the vehicles, everything. COD always felt too twitchy and gamey in comparison (even the DICE successors did) and I started playing more strategic, slower paced shooters afterwards. BF2142 was just the perfect balance for *me*. [Honorable Mention: Project Reality]

That’s It!

There is my list! Crazy, and a *bit* sad that the most recent game launch on my list is 8 years old already, but influence is influence. As I re-read this there were a few I wanted to add (RTS such as Warcraft -or- Command & Conquer) but I decided to keep it pure – the ones that spoke to me first. I’m sure as I read through other’s lists I’ll have many an “aha!” moment. I hope mine brought along some positive smiles and memories!

Project Reality 0.95

I wrote a bit about Project Reality when 0.8 was released as it was my first experience with it. After my gaming break I recently rebooted up the franchise in it’s 0.95 version. This Battlefield 2 mod does so much right for my gaming style and in general, that I want to share, promote, hug it, and force all of my Call of Duty/bunny hopping/Medal of Honor/dolphin diving friends to play it. And appreciate it.

You won't survive long without friends.

A bit of history – the mod is created by Black Sand Studios, which is a group of FPS enthusiasts who decided to improve the realism level of  Battlefield 2 way back in 2004. They do a lot of modding of various titles but Project Reality is their flagship. It is one of those ‘labour of love’ projects, as the mod is free to the community.

In the most simplest of comparisons, PR is EQ if Call Of Duty is WoW. That’s not meant to scare you off – there isn’t progression in PR (it’s a 64 multiplayer map game) but strip down all the silly from what we get in new FPS titles, and all the fluff that detracts from the experience, and you have the most solid core gameplay for any FPS out there with depth, consequence, reward and decision making that is sadly absent in the FPS of 2010.

More PR goodness after the break.

(more…)

Deferred Success

This title stems from educators wanting to remove kids from an ‘F’, or ‘Failing’ grade. No more failing – just deferred success! Clearly the change in terminology will make kids all become hugely successful.

This Epic Defer is part of a longer list of deferrments by public offcials who manage powerful unionized employees (the same unions that say it’s unfair to periodically test teachers to ensure they are, you know, smart enough to teach kids). So in essence the teacher’s union has accepted their own deferred success and want to pass that onto the kids. That part makes complete sense.

Sorry for the mini rant, its funny stuff.  The gaming slant comes next.

Gauging success in all forms of gaming has me in a proverbial pickle. Is wiping on a boss mechanic, only to come back and conquer it, any more or less satisfying than restoring from a save game point in a single player game? Single player games do have ‘difficulty’ levels, while MMO’s have been adopting that same sort of mechanic with Hard Modes. Developers have to take into account all sorts of play styles and ability levels to range the expected outcomes of success. Players want to win, developers want players to win too – for the satisfaction of the purchase. So in a sense, developers are just setting their own levels of deferred success for their player bases.

Make it too hard – players revolt. Make it too easy – players don’t feel challenged and have a superficial experience. Where, and how, is that line drawn?

This thought process has lead me to a pillar that should be of more importance – the story. Regardless of difficulty level story is a trump card. If the story is amazing, I’m more likely to bang my head against that wall in a tough level to learn what happens next. I’m also left with a feeling of satisfaction after completing an easy level as my waltz through it is still rewarded with a narrative. Call of Duty, Black Ops did this particularly well in their interactive movie experience single player campaign.

World of Warcraft, and most of the other MMO’s I’ve payed have not done the story aspect  particularly well.

Then we have the outliers, the games that don’t present directed experiences as the challenge but where the players create the stories. Minecraft is a good example of this. Sports games where players play against other humans also has a much stronger skill aspect.

All games are created for you to have success in them – they are just designed in a length of time format that players expect a return on based on the monetization scheme.

I don’t have a conclusion here and just throwing this up for discussion. It just all feels very shallow to me right now -the deferred success in our games – like the Wizard of Oz is just some dude behind a curtain was just revealed to me.

On Relationships

Not interpersonal human relationships, as that is better served by the professionals.

Not MMO player relationships (guilds, etc) as that is still managed between human beings.

In Fallout: New Vegas, I am asked to manage relationships in game via two formats – Karma, and Reputation with various groups.

Karma is interesting – if you do something inherently bad, even out of sight, you ‘lose’ it. Down the road your Karma rating is a benchmark on whether certain groups or characters will work with you. It is an unforseen force, yet exists. Many argue that to be true in our real lives. Karma, is apparently, a bitch.

Example in game: I am tired. I see a bed. I mouse over the bed to have the option to sleep in it. The choice is in red – if I choose to sleep in it I will lose Karma. It is red only because it ‘belongs’ to a character in game. I can’t ask that character for permission to sleep in his bed. I only have the choice to sleep in it, lose Karma, or not sleep in it and find another place to sleep. For some reason you can’t sleep on couches. (One of my favorite pasttimes).

Oddly enough, if I kill the owner of the bed I don’t lose Karma. Now that he/she is dead, the game flags the bed as ‘unowned’ and I can choose to sleep in that bed and not lose Karma. Sad post-apolyptic survival social commentary that you get penalized for sleeping in a bed without asking, unless you kill the owner of the bed first. I should probably just end this article here, but there is more.

The second managed reputation is with faction. If that same owner of the bed is a member of a group, say the NCR, then if I kill him I lose reputation with the NCR (even without a witness). In my play through in F:NV the NCR and I don’t get along. Apparently I was more concerned with my Karma score than my Rep scrore, and heck, you need to sleep a lot in the game.

I get a mission to go speak to an NCR Leader at an Embassy. He teases me with the premise that if I go speak to him he has the power to offer me amnesty for my past crimes against NCR bed owners. I decide to go have a chat with him. Unfortunately for me he is located deep in a NCR Military Police Base. Unfortunately for the NCR MP’s the Leader didn’t inform them that he asked to speak with me.

I kill 40 NCR MP’s on my way to the NCR Leader ( I have to kill them, they won’t let me walk by) to get my amnesty. In fact, I even killed 2 in his room while he sat at his desk and watched. I believe a head exploded on his paperwork. There is a severed limb of one of his NCR guards in his lap.  He watched, waited for me to finish, then offered me my desired amnesty if I would take the time to go convert a neutral faction to the NCR cause.

I go do so, and the NCR and I are pals once again.

Here’s Your Answer, Tesh!

I suppose the Global Agenda ‘strike while the iron is hot’ promo is, uh, striking while the iron is hot.

Last chance for APB refugees and other Shooter/MMO fans to receive discount

Dear Shooter/MMO Fans:Image

Recently, I wrote an open letter to APB Refugees and other fans of the Shooter/MMO genre. In that letter, we offered players 30% Off Global Agenda when purchasing from our webstore using the promotion code “LongLiveShooterMMOs” (that’s $20.99, £13.12 and €15.75).

Since that letter, we’ve had thousands of new players join the game! With each additional Shooter/MMO fan the Global Agenda community grows stronger and the online multiplayer competition becomes more intense.

Based on this, we’ve extended the promotion through Monday, October 4.

So if you are interested in Global Agenda’s high-flying shooter combat inside a futuristic game world, there’s no better time to strap on that jetpack! And, remember, the game has no monthly fees.

Still unsure? You can try before you buy by playing the free trial, available here.

We welcome all the new players that have recently joined us, and hope to see the rest of you in game soon!

Todd Harris
Executive Producer, Global Agenda

Hi-Rez Studios

________________________________________________________

My own emphasis on the ‘thousands of new players’.

The Body is Still Warm…

Received this in my inbox today.

An Open Letter to Shooter/MMO Fans from Hi-Rez Studios
Dear Shooter/MMO Fans:

The last few years have been rough for many fans of the Shooter/MMO genre.

Several innovative game titles with great communities have folded as they sought to bring together those of us who enjoy the fast-action, intense pace of a shooter, but also the character progression and persistence offered by MMOs.

Today, we mourn our latest fallen colleague, APB. In making APB, Realtime Worlds had a bold vision to make an MMO devoid of traditional tab-targeting, cast bars, and die-roll combat. We honor their effort and innovation, and greatly mourn the game’s closing.

Sadly, the APB server shutdown leaves their entire community with nothing to shoot or blow up tonight!

So between today and Friday, September 24, 2010, we are offering refugees from APB and other Shooter/MMOs an opportunity to join Global Agenda’s growing community more easily and affordably than ever.

We figure you deserve it. And you’ll fit right in since you already know how to aim.

All players that purchase Global Agenda on the game’s official webstore prior to September 24, 2010, using the promotion code “LongLiveShooterMMOs” will receive a 30% discount off the game. That’s $20.99, £13.12 and €15.75!

This one-time purchase gives you full access to the game’s content, with no monthly fees.

And, remember, you can try the game before you buy by playing the free trial, available here..

We at Hi-Rez Studios believe strongly in the Shooter/MMO genre. We celebrate and thank all developers advancing innovative Shooter/MMO concepts, as well as the fans that dedicate their time to playing and supporting these games.

Todd Harris
Executive Producer, Global Agenda

So.. too soon?

Valve Announces L4D2 – Fans Rejoice/Hate

Exciting news for fans of the game for sure!

A sequel so close to the original – (Left 4 Dead launced last November) seems to have the fans of the title confused. Some, who have spent tons of hours in zombie guts glee are extactic that the new game, with new features and improvements, is coming out so quickly.

Others feel ripped off – and that in typical Valve style they would be playing free upgrades and mission packs for a long time from now (a la TF2).

Read the comments in this blog announcement to see the ruckous.

I can understand the fret from an economics point of view, but the fandom in me from a title I logged 100 hours playing for the box (through the single player, co-op, co-op versus and recently free released survival mode) and loved every minute. A game with set play, limited levels, and replayability isn’t going to hold me much longer than that. I am ready for something new.

So it comes as no suprise, that I am pretty excited about the announcement.

In Valve’s defence (if it’s needed) or additional cheering (which camp are you in this announcement?) they haven’t said the pricing structure, future support for L4D1, or anything of that nature. One would suppose that the majority of the fan base of L4D1 will pick up the new title, leaving less games for people who stick with L4D1. You could also make the argument that by next November, a lot of people will be tired of the original title and ready for new anyway.

Will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Whatever Valve has touched lately turns to gold – hopefully that translates into gold zombies, and not upset L4D1 fans.

Six Shooter Screenshots are Serious Business

Tagged by good friend Tesh over at Tish Tosh Tesh, us periphery folks are now part of the fun. Like Tesh, I’m not going to follow the format as directly. Unlike Tesh, I don’t keep a lot of my screenshots so finding any was quite the effort. I have two problems with screenshots – I uninstall a lot of games when I am done (despite having enough storage capacity) to keep things tidy and organized on my PC (something I am sure my wife would appreciate me doing in real life org skills, you should see my desk) and usually when I take a screenshot it is quite by accident. This would have made for some great screenshots if only I had saved them. So, after digging through old files, here is what I managed to find.

Pics after the break.

 

This was my old WoW Raid UI as a shaman. I *think* it is clean compared to many I have seen out there, but of course I haven’t seen any new ones in a long, long time. Healing is serious business in raids, as we all know.

Ah, DAOC! Waiting for some stinking Albs to leave the comfort of their little Emain Macha fort to taste my giant 2 hander. Of course, I could just be “scouting” for my team, relaying enemy troop movements and such, because of course that is serious business.

I must have taken this out to flex my almighty serious business ePeen – yes, I’, #1! I’m #1! I may blow that up and frame it and hang it above my desk.

Ah, Eve. I have never subbed to it but have done many trials. It is such a sweet looking game! Pity I never had the chance to screw anybody over in it. I guess that’s where the real fun is in that one. Conversely, I have never been screwed either. In Eve.

This is what happens when you try to Revive an enemy in BF2142. Notice the lifeless body, limbs limp to the sides. That isn’t just from poor animation or graphics techniques either. Tip: use a gun. Much easier than a first aid device.

My first real raiding main in WoW, the resto druid. This was taken recently after I did a nostalgic tour of WoW on my old favorite character. This is the entrance to UBRS (no longer locked) which was the first “guild run” I did while looking to join the guild I ended up being a GM of for BC (we were Grey Rangers in Vanilla WoW). I am amazed at how WoW, for all of it’s simplicity and low requirements, still has such great environments.

Sadly, that’s IT. That is basically all of the screenshots I have on my new PC after 10 years of hardcore MMO gaming. I have thousands of pictures of family and friends (due to my wife) – I have never been a big picture person to begin with. In keeping with the spirit of screenshots I am going to tag Pope and GTB since both haven’t updated their blogs in a while, and I am especially curious what Pope’s Law School friends will say if he follows through and makes a gaming post. Besides, everyone else I read has already no doubtedly been tagged.

Thanks for the push Tesh!

 

Left 4 Cool

I don’t really “review” games, and I am not going to start today either. Will keep it simple and sweet. If you like FPS’s, play L4D. If you like Co-op, it is well done. If you like opposing Co-op, it’s a great game. If you like Zombies, go buy it. If you like a base achievement system, ca-ching. If you like perfectly paced gameplay in the aforementioned settings, buy buy buy. I don’t throw the word perfect out a lot. Now that that is settled, I want to talk about the absoulte, most awesomest, fantastical gameplay mode in the entire universe that is also included in Left 4 Dead. After the break.

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I’ll Take an Effexor Cocktail to Go Please.

Sheesh, where did the week go? It CAN’T be Friday already. I haven’t even started my week yet. I barely gamed all week, dabbling a bit in WoW, spent some good time in L4D, and attempted to workaround my Bioshock/Vista issue. Bioshock 2 – you will not be purchased. There are over 3000 replies on various threads on the 2K forums regarding the same problems I am having. You can blame FMOD, you can blame Vista, but I bought *your* product and it can’t be fixed without a patch. You are still selling the game, still support it. It was my first ever 2K game, and it will be my last if you don’t fix it (hell, at least tell me you are working on a fix instead of leaving my specific thread unanswered on your official Tech support boards for a week.) Just tell me you care. That is what customer support is.

Le Sigh. More depression after the break.

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Monday Mourning – Nov 17, 2008

To be honest I don’t get what most people hate about Monday mornings. I tend to work weekends, so there is definitely no rest for the wicked at ihaspc. My to-do list on Mondays is as long as any other day but I tend to ease into everyone else’s typical work week – check blogs, prioritize tasks (I know, the irony, considering that comes second) and catch up on emails. Usually Multitasked. I decided Mondays will be my little themed post where I ramble off a bunch of randoms. What better way to “start” the week?

RIP – Burning Crusade: Much how mauve is the new pink, Burning Crusade is the new Azeroth. Empty. Of every class except Death Knights. If you play by your tune and have a healer alt in the 60’s now is the optimum time to level that toon up – there are hundreds of Death Knights begging – and paying – for healers to work with them through instances. One group offered 100 gold for a basic Ramparts run. Of course, his name was Chucknorus so you might hold out for 200 gold. With everyone in the mad dash to be the first 80 (most classes/races have already hit that mark on server firsts on Whisperwind) I wonder if destroying old content areas such as Azeroth and BC gives Blizzard cost savings on server loads, etc. – that resources normally held to hold high populations in those zones. Perhaps abandoning that content is as much a business as a stupid move? On a side note, how in the hell is the Wow Armory service STILL in beta?

More after the break.

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Random Post

Haven’t been updating as much this week as I have been doing crazy other stuff. Playing games. I have been moonlighting in Fallout 3, the L4D demo was released for preorder customers yesterday, and I have still been trying to re-find a comfort level with WoW. Some general thoughts about the three in this random post.

Fallout 3 : I am having a hard time getting used to it. I can’t find a mob respawn point anywhere. It’s so strange to kill something and have it stay dead, it’s body still there 4 hours after I return to the same spot. Strange. I spent the first four hours being a goody two shoes, and I believe the constant exposure to radiation caused me to ‘snap’ and in a fit of rage I killed everyone in Megaton (except my trusty robot butler). My goodie-two shoe-ness prevented me from doing it the easy way, by blowing up the atom bomb in the center of town (I disarmed it previously for the town Sherrif) so I had to shoot/hack everyone to death. I actually felt bad doing it, almost sick to my stomach. These were the people I was just helping moments ago, and now I am shuffling through their pockets and homes for anything of sale value. I am going to go wander in the wastelands a bit and see if I can find a new home base, hopefully I won’t slaughter them all this time. Wait.. what? People are hunting ME for being so evil? Since when do my actions in games have any meaning at all? Better work on getting that Karma back up. Here, poor thirsty guy sitting on the ground, take a bottle of non-radiated water. Taste good? Good. [head shot] – let’s see if you have anything of value on you, now that you are dead and don’t need it anymore. DAMN YOU RADIATION!

F3 has really reminded me how awesome it is in a game where your choices have an impact on the world. Being good opens different quests, so does being bad. So does staying in between. It is refreshing to have to think about my actions before I perform them. I have finally seen through the lies in the claims that MMO’s are persistant worlds. F3 is, literally. Now if google would make a plugin so I can chat with my friends while I play without having to alt-tab, we have a superb 2008 MMO here.

More after the break.

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I Hate Playing With Myself

Obviously, that puts me in a minority with my gaming compatriots. After being taunted by Joe at Massive Crits for my lack of FPS content (even though I expressed my love for them publically here) I figured I would explain. I have been spoiled with online gaming forever. This sets up expectations for me that typically can’t be met in a single player game. Humans add a layer of complexity to any game you play along with them that can’t be scripted – extreme talent and extreme stupidity. Both change your style and manner of play depending on which you face. In the online gaming sphere usually it is both at the same time. Sometimes by the same player.

This limits my FPS exposure in gaming since most FPS’s have the online portion as a secondary part of their main campaign. Notable exceptions of course are the Battlefield series, which I play regularly, and the ever so popular Team Fortress 2 which while fun doesn’t completely suit my style. I only recently picked up Half Life 2 (the orange box) from Steam (admitting that probably lost me any shred of credibility I had left with you, my esteemed reader(s)) and to be honest I only bought it because I got hooked on the comic Concerned. While it is a good comic solo after playing HL2 it really shines. I stopped reading the comic until I played through the first few levels so I could get the punchlines better. Sad part is, I kept getting ahead in the comic over the game – not because the game isn’t good but that damn single player just doesn’t do it for me like it used to – so I kept hitting spots in the comic where I realized I haven’t been so had to keep booting up the game to catch up.

What I am really longing for is a great Co-op experience and a new zombie game (the world needs more zombies) which leaves me highly anticipating Valve’s upcoming title Left 4 Dead. Zombies don’t work in player vs player, as players do not know how to behave like zombies (in gaming – many have behaving like a zombie down to an art in real life). Something about the overwhelming odds against humanity versus an evil force (ie: most movies released the past 30 years) and working alongside other unlikely heroes for a common goal is just plain fun. While online play is always my choice, in this example playing against a person instead of AI usually ruins the experience instead of expanding it.

What is missing in L4D and the plethora of zombie mods is a sandbox factor. My dream FPS would have the mechanics of Project Reality which captures the shooting deviation and intensity of firing a gun pretty much perfectly. I don’t want to be Rambo while fighting zombies I want every shot to count. Here is how my dream zombie shooter plays out. I am going to use PR as the base, as I think it would be perfect for it with the quality and selection of the maps, the mechanics, the kits, and the existing gameplay modes which would translate nicely into zombie land.

The setting is simple. You are a member of a military unit (stop me if you have heard this one before) a regular grunt, perhaps with some special training for additional kit usage. You are deployed to an area of the world which has a zombie infestation. There are two game mods – “Rescue” (based off the Insurgency gameply in PR) and “Cleanout” based on AAS – Attack And Secure. In Rescue, you have your main base of operations and when certain criteria are met (X number of zombies killed, etc) a marker pops up on that map indicating where people are that need to be rescued. It is that simple. While the first portion of the game will be building defences (bunkers, firebases, barbed wire fences, Heavy Machine gun nests, etc) and defending the main spawn point for the troops, the second part is having squads go out and search for survivors and save them. Just like in PR, you can set forward bases and encampments. Save X number of civvies and you win. Have your army wiped out and you lose. The survivors are always there (as the weapon caches are in Insurgency) and the markers are just to help a team a long who is having a hard time finding them. The survivors will typically be in buildings or on roofs and have some minor defences built up keeping the zombies out – so we will have to add a timer as those defences won’t hold up forever. AAS mode has a series of capturable areas that must be taken in a specific order (ensuring that action is easy to be found) and there are always two points available for capture – which also means there are always two points that need to be defended. Zombies can overthrow any compound and push the army back. To win, capture and hold all points. Run out of tickets and you lose.

I would like to see a change in how the Zombies work. Typically you either have fast zombies, or slow zombies, and usually always stupid zombies. To build on the excitement and experience, there should be at least three type of zombies : The typical slow moving dumb ones (Dawn of the Dead), which there are a ton of, mix in a healthy dose of fast moving ones (28 days later), and have a few smarter ones – ones that take cover and still know how to use a gun – although not as effective as in their human state (Canadian Armed Forces). To make this fit in the storyline it is as simple as stating the longer a zombie is a zombie, the more they degrade to the slow/stupid state as their bodies break down. Mixing up zombie types would add a layer of fun to the game and force players to adjust tactics depending on what they are facing. Zombies would also have to have the capability to damage constructs and vehicles with their bare hands so tanks just cant roam around untouchable – of course it would be very limited damage but swarms could be effective against assets. In every map, there will be unlimited zombies but their spawn rate would be proportionate to the size of the map, the number of people in Co-op, and how many objectives are remaining. It would be a challenge to balance the feeling of dread but modders/programmers are very clever.

I could go on and on to make a fantastic zombie mod. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources or talents to mod, so I will continue to dream it up and see if my fairy princess (no, not you Velocityboy) arrives and grants me my wish. If you haven’t played PR before some of the above probably doesn’t make sense or sound as good to you as it should. If you have played PR you will know what I am talking about, and I am talking pure sweet FPS zombie on zombie sandbox action. If that doesn’t turn you on then something is wrong with you.

Reality Doesn’t Bite

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.