Latest Posts

$0 DOWN, $199/MONTH 2.3% FINANCING

With the spammy-gold-spamertons all over WAR there is a lot of coverage in Blognation about RMT and what to do with it. I covered my thoughts on RMT here before, and to summarize – if games mechanics are made so poorly that I can only enjoy the game by buying gold then something needs to change. There are all sorts of arguments about it, from the MMO ‘morality’ (if you buy gold, you probably don’t walk little old ladies accross the street), to the upper class of gaming (people who can afford to buy gold have an unfair advantage – because you make more money in real life shouldn’t give you an advantage in a online world where all are created equal!) to [insert typical argument here]. What we need is some sort of solution. An obvious one, but one I haven’t seen or heard much about (I don’t read every blog and website out there, so sorry if it has) is the simplest one of all. Make gold bind on pickup. Eliminate it from the equation altogether. How can we eliminate gold changing hands, without eliminating item trading? Enter the lovely world of leasing.

UPDATE: Check out the BanHammer counter on the WAR herald – cute ūüôā

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WHERE’S THE BEEF?

By “beef”, I mean “data”. This is a dream world post. I often dare to dream. Mythic is very proud of their meta data collection and hey, I would love them to throw some of that our way. Developers are always very protective of their data. Gamers are always very hungry to understand more. When I go to the server selection screen and see Order population: Low, Destruction Population: Medium – what exactly does that mean? Where is the magic line between low and medium? Is low 399 characters, and medium 400? Or does that mean there are 10 order and 900 Destruction? Why can’t we¬† know this?

MMO’s do a great job of collecting, displaying, and using data in every click, keyboard press, and number crunch. Send some of that love our way! MMO’s are a big time investment and I want to make decisions when choosing my server and class on hard data. I know, I know – “play what you like” – and I do, but hey, what if I like four different classes and want to play “what my realm would like”. Spit out the numbers for me : Order has 100 tanks between levels 1-10, 50 tanks between 11-20, and 1 tank between levels 21-30. I don’t see why it would hurt to tell us this. (Admittedly, this information is pretty useless at the launch of a game, but once you get a couple years in it can be very valuable for me as a gamer to make choices!)

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THE WARbert REPORT: STONETROLL CROSSING

Stonetroll Crossing is the T2 scenario for EvC. It is a murderball/flag capture mechanic with some fun twists. At the top of the spiralling mountain in the center of the map is a “pacifier”. You have to grab the pacifier, then travel to three troll groupings around the map and “pacify” the trolls – all within a set time period or the pacifier resets. The trolls aren’t just there for good looks though – they hurl rocks around the map causing an inconvenience along the way. For example, if you try to park a few people where the pacifier spawns while it is in control the trolls will toss some rocks at you and knock you off the mountain. This scenario does a lot of good, and ensures a level of back and forth gameplay that is missing in Phoenix Gate and Mourkain Temple.

Those of you in beta remember what Stonetroll Crossing used to be – a king of the hill scenario! The trolls were still there being a pain, but the whole purpose of the match in the old beta days was to hold the flag at the top of the hill which had a timer capture mechanic similar to Nordenwatch. Problem back then, was that the way the terrain is designed it was pretty much impossible to take the hill once it was captured – it was a ranged DPS nightmare and heavily favored meelee – the new way it works is much more player friendly.

Match typically goes like this: Both sides beeline for the pacifier and whichever gets it attempts to pacify the three troll groupings within the specified time. In my experiences having the pacifier isn’t any sort of guarantee with the side failing upwards of 50% of the time

People generally forget that: You have a short time frame to get to all three objectives. Slowing down the enemy pacifier is as effective as killing them outright.

The “oh – po0p” moment: Your team is spread out all over the place guessing which section the enemy will try and pacify next, they go to a different one for an easy cap

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THE WARbert REPORT: MOURKAIN TEMPLE

Mourkain Temple is a Tier 2 Scenario in the Dwarves vs Greenskin Pairing. The game is very simple: get, and hold onto, the Mourkain Artifact for as long as you can. You get points for holding onto the artifact and for killing enemies. The artifact holder gets bonus points for killing while holding it, and there are bonus points if you kill the artifact holder. If the artifact drops it stays on the ground where the person was killed for a short while.

Match typically goes like this: Both sides rush to the artifact. First one to get it rushes back to their own spawn area.

People generally forget that: The first side to get the artifact pretty much always wins. If a scenario queue pops up for Mourkain Temple, enter as fast as you can instead of grinding out a few more mobs. If you come into the game a second after it has started you have put your team at a severe disadvantage.

The “Aw $hit moment”: You don’t get the ball first

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THE WARbert REPORT: PHOENIX GATE

Over the next few days I am going to touch upon the three T2 scenarios and my experiences playing them. The core of the characters on the server I play on seem to be in this level range, so now is a good time to discuss how to win! My main character is a R18 RR14 Engineer, so will share the perspective in that regard. Keep in mind, the observations I have had are from my server only – I am very curious if other people are seeing the same things.

Phoneix Gate is the T2 scenario for the HEvDE pairing. It is your typical capture the flag scenario similar to Warsong Gulch from WoW – to capture the enemy’s flag your flag must not be in the hands of the enemy. The map¬†is a good layout with a lot of space and ways to cross. The scenario also has siege weapons that come into play for both sides adding an interesting extra layer you need to be aware of. The siege weapons have longer range and do more damage than your typical attacks. You get points per player kill and per flag capture. The scenario is first to 500 points and between two competent teams that score is rarely reached¬†– be prepared to be in there for the whole 15 minutes.

Match typically goes like this: Order sends a small team to capture the flag, and leaves the rest on defence. Destruction leaves a small team to defend their flag, and sends the rest on offence.

People generally forget that: ANY damage done stops a person from picking up a flag. DOTs and instant damage abilities are king here. A single person can keep 5 enemies from picking up the flag for a good period of time. Stick a DOT/AOE on and stay alive until reinforcements come. Stop people from picking up the flag at all costs, even if you are going to die. (I love seeing a MDPS about to kill a healer, walk in beside them, take the flag while the enemy is more focused on getting a kill.)

The ‘Aw sh*t’ moment: Your side is so focused on killing what is in front of you that you do not pan to keep your eye on the flag regularly, and someone sneaks in from the side and takes it. ALWAYS pan regularly to guard the flag or at least try to have the flag in your field of vision at all times when on defence.

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A MOMENT FOR CLARITY

Having discerned a clarity issue in my previous (and most “famous”, because of it) post, I figured I would add a moment of (attempted) clarity. As much as I am already tired of discussing the WAR EULA, and EULA’s in general perhaps I positioned myself into an unclear stance, I would like to correct that.

I didn’t even realize the EULA was annoying until it was reported at Broken Toys. (I am not going to link to it again, I am sure everyone reading this has read it. If not, it is in my previous post). At that point, I did do a “Hey, yeah, that IS kind of annoying. Wonder why that is”. I didn’t have a second thought about it until I was cruising my favorite Warhammer fan site¬†and found a poll regarding it. It too, is linked in the previous entry. That poll shows that (currently) 42% of the particpants of the poll are so outraged at the inconvenience of the new EULA format that they would either a) Not buy the game, b)find it highly annoying and will play the game less, or c) will think twice before booting up the game. This was the part I was flabbergasted at. WAR will have a ton of balance issues (class/realm/server) and the game will turn itself upside down in year one with nerfs and buffs. That doesn’t worry anyone – what DOES worry them is having to spend the (now cliche) 5 seconds of their life to do it. They don’t care about the CONTENT of the EULA and what it may, or may not contain, but having to click it upon logging in each time is such an inconvenience the game is now a pile a junk and not as worth playing. That was the stem of my rant.

Now, some people read the rant and saw the links to blogsites reporting it and falsely (although understandably) assumed that was where my rant was aimed at. Here is the kicker – Of the 200+ page views that entry had, only¬†4 bothered to click the straw poll link which better illustrates where my rant was aimed at. I do admit¬†now that was a ¬†newbie blogger error and¬†next time I will make that portion more clear – perhaps a direct quote or a better break down of the numbers – to make sure people understand that was where my source of frustration stemmed from. It wasn’t aimed at Scott¬†or the people reporting that it was a minor inconvenience and trying to figure out the purpose of the change from existing MMO EULA’s. I assumed that when you put a link in as part of your argument people would click it. Lesson learned.

That misunderstanding lead to my now good friend Matt’s rant which lead to my retort rant and things, typically, spiralled out of control from a misunderstanding of communication. I suppose that is the challenge. When evaluating my blogging style I would consider it conversation blogging. I do not write as if I was¬†submitting an essay or business report – I just ramble on with the thoughts currently in my head and put it out there. Other sites I visit are much more careful about the language and emphasis they use. I will try to mirror that in some regards; I like keeping it informal but at the same time can see what can happen without proper precaution. I am not an industry icon or professional analyst. I am just a guy who is in with the general gaming population who sees and hears what a lot of general gamers think and say. I take that and my own personal opinion and put it out there to check the pulse of what gamers are thinking (and feeling) and see what comes of it.

Hopefully that has cleared any confusion. *crosses fingers*.

STOP THE PRESSES!

Sharpen your pencils and get your stamps ready. It is time to contact your Congress-person, Member of Parliament, or Town Shaman. The greatest video gaming injustice of all time has been committed! We, as gamers with precious little time, cannot stand back and accept this atrocity. Who cares if there are other important things going on in the world, if we don’t stop this now life as we know it is about to end! FIGHT THE POWER!

Puhleeeease. I get a lot of redicule from family, friends, mild acquaintances and even complete strangers for being a gamer. This is the first time I have actually been embarrassed on behalf of the adult gaming community. It is definitely worthwhile to point out the EULA pops up everytime as a typical direction we will be seeing in online gaming, for sure – but the comments from people who have issue with 5 seconds of delay with their 3 hour mountain dew nourished play sessions illustrating this is an outrage of some sort is downright laughable. A straw poll shows ~40% of people who are unhappy with this decision may not buy the game or limit their play time because of this. Good riddance!

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AM I A SNOWFLAKE?

My experiences with my PC and gaming leads me to think I am unique. I don’t seem to have the problems that the “angry” online populace does. Visat 64? Runs like a charm. Never had a single install issue. I don’t understand all the hate. DRM? Never screwed up on my machine. I am very pro-DRM for that reason. After all, since I don’t have a problem then everyone else must be lying. If I go to a restaurant ten times, and get great service and food every time it automatically discounts anyone who hates the restaurant that went once. They are either mucho-whineros or just want a platform to be angry about. That is why I have a hard time believing all the Vista/DRM naysayers as people who are more interested in proving a point than recounting honest experiences. Now, I am not so closed minded as to believe that not only do I have the only perfect running PC in the world but also that my experiences indeed may be a minority and I am just one lucky sonofabitch. It is hard to discount your own experiences to believe in others.

With all that said, how was your Warhammer launch? Mine was as smooth as pie (or cake, if you tend to swing that way) and blognation seems awful slow the last couple days as people are playing the game, instead of commenting on it. My server was down for 2 minutes when I tried to login my first time (at exactly 12:01) – it was the first one on the list and I believe everyone spamming “Login” at 12:01 on the default server caused the boom. They got it right back up and not a hitch the rest of the day. No queue, no downtime, smooth gameplay, tons ‘o fun, all gravy. Some message boards tout this as undoutedly the champion of the history of all MMO launches (which it better be – Mythic had a lot of other launches to learn from!). I had one friend who mysteriously would disconnect every 30 minutes – but that was the only negative thing I heard. So how was YOUR launch experience? Is WAR a snowflake? Are you?

NYUK, NYUK, NYUK!

I know I am talking a lot about WARHAMMER ONLINE lately. A lot of good!¬†It is launching soon much to my excitement, and heck, it is the talk of the town. I too live in that town so let’s get to more talking. Using Beta/Open Beta as a reference it is hard not to already notice some trends which will detract from the Warhammer experience. These trends have been visible throughout the beta process and while I hope new blood alone will reverse some of them we will have to deal with them after launch. Hopefully they are just fads instead of trends.

Nyuk #1) Gravitation towards Empire vs. Chaos: No pairing is as busy. EvC has the quickest Scenario pops and most open field RVR action. This part doesn’t make sense to me as all 3 pairings are very well done. People know this is always the busiest pairing so that is where they tend to go. Question is why? (Did I just answer that question?)

More ‘Nyuks’ after the break!

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DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?

Yeeah Booooy!

Back
Caught you lookin’ for the same thing
It’s a new thing check out this I bring
Uh Oh the roll below the level
‘Cause I’m livin’ low next to the bass C’mon
Turn up the radio
They claim that I’m a criminal
By now I wonder how
Some people never know
The enemy could be their friend guardian
I’m not a hooligan
I rock the party and
Clear all the madness, I’m not a racist
Preach to teach to all
‘Cause some they never had this
Number one, not born to run
About the gun…
I wasn’t licensed to have one
The minute they see me, fear me
I’m the epitome – a public enemy
Used, abused without clues
I refused to blow a fuse
They even had it on the news
Don’t believe the hype…

If you are with me after all that clicking (or just skipped the clicking to begin with) feel better about two things: 1 – I had 3x the number of links planned, and 2 – I am leading up to a point. Eventually. Working on it. Like most suburban middle class teenagers I love(d) rap music growing up. Public Enemy was my group of choice and on the playground with my other¬†priveleged-at-birth friends we would get down with the gospel of one of the world’s most influential rap groups. Pre Flavour Flav sellout dating show, of course. Chuck D cannot be happy about that. I would have sent the S1W’s to take care of Sinceer before she spawned Candwhore – good thing FF took care of that on his own in good time.

MMO’s/PC games¬†are all one big hype machine. Problem with this, among a million related things, that the same hype built up by marketing departments gets pretty much every major release off on the wrong track. Sure, they may result in large release numbers but you could easily argue that those same departments are also the cause of the downfall of the new release – even before the game hits the shelves. Let’s look at that, shall we? And please, don’t believe the hype. Don’t even create the hype to believe in in the first place.

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iBlog

Perhaps you may have noticed something different with this entry. Perhaps not, at least until you hit the end of a line. Much like full justification is gone noticeably so is my PC – I am writing this on my iPhone.

Waiting for a meeting to begin surfing apps I came accross the WordPress addin for my phone. Free download, why not, give it a whirl. So far I can tell you it is okay.

I am a purebread visual editor type. They invented WYSIWYG for me exclusively (I am not ashamed to admit) so thankfully you won’t have to stomach through any not-so-funny-or-interesting links throughout this post. I reviewed an existing post and the syntax required to embed a link over text isn’t my cup of tea – heck it looks so uncomfortable to type I would rather clip Joe’s toenails.

While I consider myself tech savvy I am yet a newer breed – TSL (tech savvy lazy). I get the odd gadget, put my own computer together and help my less fortunate friends with their porn injected spyware problems. I didn’t get an iPhone to be hip, or different, or bleeding edge I bought it to replace my Blackberry. About two years ago my BB and I parted ways in a most horrific fashion. I quit a job that had required travelling, and one day while walking down the street texting that same resignation note the BB slipped from my hands, hit the ground, and mysteriously ended up under my foot. Hey, things happen.

Now that I am travelling again I figured that instead if constantly telling people I would email them the next day (or worse) I bought an email capable phone. Figured I would try to be hip while doing so. [b]I have no idea if this will bold or not upon publish. Move along, nothing to see here.[/b]

I do prefer my iPhone over my BB but I definitely don’t like blogging on it. I am going to leave this post unmolested with it’s spelling, grammar, formatting (and content) vanillaness as a reminder to me on my otherwise clean site that mobile blogging is for professionals, and you (me) should not try this at home.

Or at least until a true WYSIWYG editor is available.

MOVE ALONG… NOTHING TO SEE HERE

In the spirit of disclosure, which seems to be a big topic today on blogs (and link to other blogs) I must admit I am a big fan of KTR. Look to the right on my huge list of blog-folk I have there. Kill Ten Rats is in the list. Right near the top! (Please, don’t get into semantics on how many are actually on my list to begin with. KTR is top two baby!) I was a very, very late bloomer in the blogoshphere (see? I don’t even know the hip word used for that sort of description) and it was one of the first I read regularly while planning my own blogomination.

Ethic made a post today that piqued my interest. Were the corporate overlords trying to sway my beloved ad free daily reading of choice? Were they being wined and dined? Were hookers involved? I wanted to comment – only to see that comments were locked. I¬†planned to make a fun jab at my peers along the lines of ‘anything titled “Full Disclosure” shouldn’t be closed’ (haha, badum-ching, lol, ¬†_insert other cliche here_) but the truth of the matter is I was very curious as to whether the article itself was prompted from within the authors, from the readership, or to keep the corporate virus at bay. Keep in mind it had absolutely no bearing on how I felt about the KTR guys, or the site – it was just that damn curiosity. What would prompt a post like that? Google had no answers! The post itself reminded me of a police scene with gigantic yellow caution ribbons criss-crossed over 6 city blocks and the army, air force, national guard, and local police surrounding it reminding people to move along because there is nothing to see. The¬†fun part¬†of that is with no ribbons highlighting the fact there is something to see people wouldn’t stop in the first place.

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PERCEPTION

With the Warhammer:Age of Reckoning Open Beta underway I am curious what the initial impression is from the typical (ie: people without a preconceived fanboy or doomsday view) gamer. As mentioned before, I am looking forward to it’s release. I also have to come clean and¬†share that my perception perhaps isn’t a very fair one. I have been exposed to the game since sometime in Beta 2 (servers currently running 4.1) and as such my perception of the game isn’t from a fresh clean slate – it is from a much different viewpoint.

When you are invited into a beta you expect there to be problems – that is why you are there. Since¬†it is¬†just a beta you tend to roll with the problems and issues and playtest the game realizing that it is going to change an awful lot before it is released.¬†Beta testers are also exposed to the improvement process. From¬†my first¬†beta build¬†to the current point the game has improved immensely and¬†since I experienced that change first hand it gives an optimism of what else is to come (something a new player just hopping into the game for the first time¬†hasn’t experienced). Beta testers also have an in depth knowledge of gameplay mechanics, general knowledge of different class strengths and weaknesses, and a true feel for the game – all things a¬†fresh new player hopping into the experience for the first time doesn’t have. Because of this your typical beta player already has an opinion on the game both in it’s present and future state.

New players have only been exposed to the opinions of those who have beta tested and may have already formed their opinions based on NDA lifted information. So, what I am most curious about today, if you just booted WAR for the first time and have kept an open mind before doing so, what is your perception on the game? More importantly, what did you honestly expect?

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SPOILERS

I like baseball. I like it for a lot of reasons. My beloved blue jays are 7 games over the .500 hundred mark for the first time in three years and are a very large miracle away from making the postseason. They are, however, playing the great role of spoiler for teams ahead of them in the standings. The past few series, they went 3-2 against Boston, 2-1 against the Yankees, and 3-0 against the Twins – all teams fighting for a playoff spot. While it is great to see the boys finally start playing to their potential it is heartbreaking as a fan to wonder why they didn’t to it about a month ago so instead of being the spoiler, they could be a contender. 5 of their last 7 series in the season are against teams who have a chance at the postseason, so maybe I can take a small victory by having them ruin someone else’s season. With 7 games left against Boston it could be a lot of fun to throw a wrench into Red Sox Nation.

I enjoy sports games and perennially play the EA sports titles. The biggest spoiler for me is 2K sports with their baseball exclusive licensing agreement with the MLB. While I own a console that 2K makes a ball game for I refuse to play it as they don’t make it on the platform I want to play it on – my PC. Since they have spoiled my baseball gaming (MVP 2005 I believe was the last licensed title for the PC) I refuse to purchase any of their titles for my other systems. I am sure they are feeling the heat from my almighty Canadian dollar. While none of this is new news it recently began to bother me again and for once I hope the Evil Axis of gaming does indeed overthrow the 2K Sports team.

Until that happens (or the license expires) I guess I will just have to spend time at real ballparks watching real ballgames, drinking real beer with real friends.

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 Рones that take cover and still know how to use a gun Рalthough 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 Рof 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.

GET DOWN WITH R-M-T (yeah you know me!)

Obscure musical reference. Probably sad that I think that is obscure. Free comment post to whoever figures that one out first.

Real Money Transfers. The Yankees, Bill Gates, and Jack Thompson loathe of most MMO gamers. You will probably add my¬†name to the loathing list when I tell you that with a few changes, the underground RMT model would actually be good for gaming. Whoa! was that a tomato you just threw at me? That’s okay, I’ll make a RMT sandwich with that, a slice of bacon, and two pieces of whole wheat bread.

With all the hubbub with the underground RMT world the sad truth is it is a market easily crushed – and while doing so, properly, could be a celebrated event for gamers. MMO’s are one colossal universal competition. My MMO is better than your MMO. My Guild is better than your guild. My toon is better than your toon. My Sword of Ultimate Truth is better than your Hammer of Justice. And so on. The problem with MMO’s is that to be the best (or simply just enjoy yourself) it isn’t solely about skill – it is about time. I guarantee you, if I could play <insert MMO of your choice> 40-50 hours a week compared to your 10-15 hours a week I will be “better” at it than you. (Divorced, probably overweight, and dealing with a bout of carpal tunnel to boot – but still, “better”). Couple the time issue with those same competition obsessed players willing to spend money on in game things to get even further ahead and the disparity widens. Enter RMT to save the day.

I bought gold in WoW once. Probably from a company that hijacked you and your guildmate’s account to provide me with that gold. I apologize for that. Honestly, I didn’t think I was hurting anyone and was actually supplying 10 year old kids with a much needed 30 cent an hour job to care for their 8 brothers and sisters. I felt dirty, like sneakily downloading porn while my wife knitted a sweater for her ailing grandmother but I did it, and it felt good.

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CHROME

No, not this – but this. Google released it’s beta of a web browser yesterday. It is, as reported, very minimalist. Page load times are very fast, and whether you love or hate google, it is definitely worth downloading to give it a shot. So far, everything I have tried with it has worked just peachy.

Will spend some more time today trying to break it (that is what betas are for, afterall) but my first impression is very simple. If this simple app can do everything IE/Safari/FFox can do, and faster and cleaner, what the hell is running in the background in our current browsers?

Nice cartoon here, explaining a bit.

Edit: Check out these sections of the Chrome End User Licence Agreement

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non- exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

 11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

17.1 Some of the Services are supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions. These advertisements may be targeted to the content of information stored on the Services, queries made through the Services or other information.

Scary, Scary stuff. The language is every open ended in 11.1 and 11.2.

Corrosion

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?

Why?

Comparing Apples to Starfish

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.

(more…)

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.

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I Has Blog

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 Рa fervent fan Рbut 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.