Green Eggs and RAM

Posted in Uncategorized on June 17, 2011 by Hellion

Once upon a time in the future, past its all the same
A young gamer boy decided to play a new game
So he ran to his local game shop, excited, cash in hand
And picked up the newest titles about far off lands
Where he could be a pirate, a wizard, or a cop
The joy in his heart was overflowing he felt it would never stop
He burst in his room, and threw in his first disk
The computer hummed in anticipation unpacking file lists
The screen flashed to life with sound and blinking lights
His game was almost ready, he was desperate to join the fight
He picked his name, his character, his class, and his fancy hat
And jumped into the fray with his brand new clobbering bat
But alas, chop, chop, chop went his screen he could not even move
“Sad days he thought”, now what can I prove
He flipped the game over and much to his dismay
The systems specs were too high for his computer. Ohh what a day ..
I need a new computer ever year to play a new game??
Its too much he thought this is getting lame.
He returned all the games for an in store credit
And said to himself I’m doomed and now I’m in debit
I can’t afford a new pc to play every year.
Ohh well back to Xbox and a 12 pack of beer.

A note to DEV’s Give us a break already!!!

Civ 5: Initial thoughts.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 29, 2010 by Jason

Yup, this is a civ game – t’aint gonna try to be nothin’ else. There are some pretty significant changes, though the underlying feel of Sid Meier’s Civilization games remains. There are gonna be haters and fambois of the game – there always are – but this game is a good, solid strategy game that has a lot of bells and whistles. And a few annoying bugs.
I jumped right in and started a game that I consider typical for me: I like getting thrown into a random civilization on marathon setting, with everything but map size set to random. I always choose the largest possible maps – I like to stretch out & explore. I wound up as Ghandi and got started.
Well, I sort of got started. Actually, getting into the game was a challenge – I kept trying to start the DirectX 10/11 version & would get booted. Took me a while to figure out that my video card, only a year and a half old, was still a DirectX 9 card. I changed my starting settings and got in.
The opening movie: fantastic… and unskipable. You have to watch at least the first 10-30 seconds of the damned thing every time, unless you make changes to your user settings in the Civilization V folder. (My Games -> Civilization5 -> UserSettings -> SkipIntroVideo… change it from 0 to 1). Even then, you get a black screen for a good 10-20 seconds before you get into the system.
I got set up, started playing, and tried working my way around to see what the changes were. I got about 10 turns in when I was booted to the desktop. Little glitch, tried again, and booted again. I tend to save every 4-5 turns, so it wasn’t a big deal… the big deal was that apparently my rig couldn’t handle the size of the map.
The specs on my computer are well above the minimum, even with my Nvidia Geforce 7950. This should have been a breeze to run, especially on med-low setting, which is what I had it on.
From http://kotaku.com/5607503/civilization-v-pc-specs-released
The minimum system requirements are:
 Operating System: Windows® XP SP3/ Windows® Vista SP2/ Windows® 7
 Processor: Dual Core CPU
 Memory: 2GB RAM
 Hard Disk Space: 8 GB Free
 DVD-ROM Drive: Required for disc-based installation
 Video: 256 MB ATI HD2600 XT or better, 256 MB nVidia 7900 GS or better, or Core i3 or better integrated graphics
 Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
 DirectX®: DirectX® version 9.0c

But the recommended system requirements are:
 Operating System: Windows® Vista SP2/ Windows® 7
 Processor: 1.8 GHz Quad Core CPU
 Memory: 4 GB RAM
 Hard Disk Space: 8 GB Free
 DVD-ROM Drive: Required for disc-based installation
 Video: 512 MB ATI 4800 series or better, 512 MB nVidia 9800 series or better
 Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
 DirectX®: DirectX® version 11

My specs?
• AMD Phenom(tm) 9650 Quad-Core Processor
• 3.31 Ghz Processing speed
• 4 GB RAM
• Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition (build 7600), 64-bit
• Nvidia GEForce 7950 vid card
• DirectX 11
• 434.5 GB Free disc space

So I should have been able to handle it, easy, especially with 9.0. I switched to a standard map, and it worked fine. I also had a little windfall, and managed to upgrade my video card to a GeForce GTS 250 (2.7 GB RAM, Pixel Shader 4.0, Vertex Shader 4.0).
The new map was as the king of Siam, Ramkamhaeng, and on DirectX 1, it looked amazing! The details were crisp and clear, the battles are fun to watch, and I really like looking at the map. The leaderheads are more detailed and animated. The artwork for your leader looks like a fine classical portrait. Also, there is no animation for the building of the wonders, just classically rendered portraits. You do get to see them going up if your city is building one.
At this point, I’m in the renaissance era, and have seen a lot of the game; I’ve played about 24 hours total and have a decent grasp of things.
Changes:
• No unit stacking – one unit of any given type per tile (you can have a worker and a warrior on the same tile, but not two workers or two warriors). Units may pass through each other in a turn, but can’t end their turn on a tile with another unit. Makes doing things a little trickier.
• Cities can bombard, and they have attack strengths. Gone are the days when a single warrior can walk into an empty city and take it. If an enemy is within 3 hexes, it can be hit. You need to surround cities with units – it usually take a minimum of three to take a city, and expect losses.
• Ranged damage – archers, catapults etc can shoot enemies 2-3 tiles away now, and they do serious damage. T hey are extremely weak to melee, so be careful bringing them out.
• Gone is the David vs Goliath battle system where you could still have an entire unit wiped if the other unit had an even .1% chance of winning. The system is different, as I’ve written before: when you want to attack, not only does it show your chance of success or failure, but it also shows if it will probably be a decisive victory, major victory, a minor victory, a minor defeat, a major defeat, or a decisive defeat. This is equivalent to how much damage you will sustain and deal out. It also shows the battle, which parts of your unit die, the amount of xp you get for the battle.
• Diplomacy: it’s more difficult to suss out how other leaders feel about you. I still don’t know if Napoleon likes me, even though we’ve been trading for years and have open borders. It’s also difficult to figure out exactly what other leaders are willing to trade without going and talking to them – in Civ 4, you had a list of leaders you could refer to and see if they’d be willing to take silk or not. They are more willing to negotiate trades now, however.
• Wonders: take longer to build, have a bit less impact than before (no need to rush/chop for the Pyramids, now), and you can’t really rush them. You can chop forests to help move them along, but you’re not adding many more hammers when you do that.
• Civics: completely revamped. No more religion. Civics are broken up into categories, and you adopt a type of civic after you get enough culture points. Then you adopt sub-specifics under that heading (for example, you can adopt Liberty, which gives you an instant bonus by increasing the production of Settlers by 50%, then has 5 sub headings you adopt as you earn more points later – Collective Rule: New Cities start with 50% of the Food needed to gain their second Citizen; Citizenship+25% construction rate of Workers. Meritocracy: +1 Happiness for each city connected to the Capital. Representation: +1 Culture in all cities) Republic: +1 Production in every city). If you fully explore 5 of these Civics/social policies, you can win a cultural victory.
• Research: very similar to previous incarnations, though a little more streamlined.
• Natural Wonders: Great Barrier Reef, krakatoa, etc – be the first to discover them, and your people get an extra happiness boost. Build with one in your borders, and the boost is greater
• Happiness affects the whole empire, not just a singular city
• Goodie huts have changed to goodie ruins, and give out approximately the same things (though I haven’t seen any techs yet)
• Great people can only build their buildings outside of cities; this takes up development land
• There may not be a real set city radius – you can work lands fairly far out as long as it’s within your cultural borders
• You can buy plots of land instead of waiting for your borders to expand
• There are city-states now, which aren’t trying to expand or win; they offer mini-quests and bonuses if you find ways to ally with them (give them units, gold etc). If you make them happy, they’ll give you stuff – units, culture, items, etc – it depends on the type of city state they are (for example, Monaco is a city state that is culturally based and boosts your culture for a time).
• You can conquer them – or free them, if they’ve been conquered.
• Tile upgrades have been revamped – no more cottages that develop into suburbs.. Instead, you have trading posts, which don’t increase in the amount of coin produced over time.
• There will allegedly be DLC (downloadable content) like leaders, maps, etc.
Pros:
• Easy to pick up and jump into, very intuitive
• Fun to watch
• Very pretty
• More tactically oriented than before
• Less emphasis on “Wonder Gaps” (if you have a couple key wonders, you aren’t going to throw game balance off.. though if you have a lot of them, you will)
• Learning curve isn’t that steep
• Streamlined features

Cons:
• AI is still not spectacular. I’, playing on the prince setting (where everyone has an equal chance), and I’m kicking ass. I have the biggest empire, in size, culture, army, and scientific achievement. In Civ IV, this would not have been the case. Also, the dialogue is a bit limited (though I like their use of the actual language of the leaders, like Thai, French or Arabic) – every time I talk to Hiawatha, he calls me bloodthirsty, even though I haven’t been to war in centuries, whereas he’s picking a fight every other turn.
• Take a LOT of processing speed. Even with my new video cars, as soon as I uncovered more than half my map & have a bunch of tiles upgraded, it got laggy as hell. I had to switch back to DX9 to compensate. Also, load screens are incredibly long.
• No easy access to information –as I mentioned earlier, I want MORE info on how my relations are, what I can trade, and how the other leaders feel about me. I feel like I have to keep a large army that costs a lot to maintain, because even people I think may be allies might turn on me.
So, if you like this style of game, you’ll probably like this. It’s not as spectacular as I was hoping, but it is a decent game that’s giving me a good number of hours of fun, which is what matters, right?

Star Trek Online… I guess I like it!

Posted in 1 with tags on February 11, 2010 by XLCS

First off, if you are a gamer and have no aversion to MMOs, you could do a lot worse for a month worth of play for $40.

I had my doubts about STO before open beta – I figured it was Pirates of the Burning Sea in space. I think one could still argue that case, as there are similarities. But the ship combat is FAR more engaging, faster paced, and fun in my opinion. Away Missions (“avatar combat” in PotBS) are pretty good, better than PotBS by far. However ground missions are not 100% up to snuff with normal MMO fair, although given the overall playability between great space combat and some ground action, this is easily overlooked.

Space combat is spectacular — and granted, aside from infrequent, minimal, and short-lived rubber-banding — is very smooth and enjoyable. Cryptic has done a great job with varied and beautiful space scenarios. Lots of stellar cloud backdrops reminiscent of Hubble photos, good planetary surfaces, and lots of different space debris & asteroid/meteor fields. Big fur balls are exciting and fleet missions involving a couple dozen players are fun. Ship combat is paced very well, so managing ship maneuvering, weapons firing, and special abilities like tractor beams and buffs/debuffs (like “brace for impact!”) is easy.

Ground combat can be a typical group of players (up to 5 in a group) or if you are solo or have a partial group, the remaining spots can be taken by your bridge officers. This is a pretty cool point to bring up… if you have a partial group or are solo, if you leave your grouping options open other players can join you if they happen to be starting that mission at that time. So if you don’t mind company, a partial group can get pick-ups ad hoc – and even if no one PUGs the open spots, your group’s bridge officers will fill in the blanks.  Don’t like PUGing?  Well consider this – while your team mate is incoming or off chasing Orion slave girls, your away team is fully staffed by your remaining team and some bridge officers.  When the rest of the group arrives, [transporter shimmer/buzz] poof!  Your new team members replace the NPC bridge officers with no delay, muss or fuss.  Loose a player to wife aggro?  Beam down an officer.  Good way to keep the action going when players are scattered about or just getting together for a short while.

Bridge officers provide additional abilities in space combat. During away missions they are NPC allies that you control like pets in other MMOs. You basically have unit with particular skills that you level up along with your main character. Ground combat is generally 3rd person, but you can zoom into FPS mode. There is crouching, and placement of bridge officers via waypoints. So there is a low-key RTS element if you choose to play that way.

My character is now 17 (of 40 levels) and to be honest the missions offered thus far have been very enjoyable, full of story but not overly elaborated, and varied. There are even short narrations by Leonard Nemoy at key mission and zone transitions. Overall Cryptic has done a good job of constructing unique, tailored main and side missions.

There is also the Genesis System that provide a mash-up of themes and story lines and devices that, although you can detect common mission structures, obviously utilize well-thought out formulas for their construction that I find commendable. Genesis System really is a good, solid device for producing random but structured missions that make sense and are fun and rewarding. They certainly aren’t simply random. (Some may disagree, but then again some people criticize everything.)

The environments on ground missions, from interiors of buildings and ships to especially outdoors, are great! Vegetation and geomorphology follow pretty natural formulas (albeit science fantasy). Interiors look planned – consoles, containers, debris all seem to be placed logically. Considering that Genesis missions are uniquely generated, Cryptic did a very good job!

The visual and equipable customization of ships, characters, and bridge officers is well done. Characters have a choice of 3 classes – Tactical, Engineer, and Science. The Tactical career provides bonuses and skills geared toward DPS ship and ground combat. Engineers have buffs and debuffs, and can create deployables like turrets and shields generators. Science has healing, debuffs, and buffs.

Any career can choose between the 3 types of ship. You can be a Tactical character with a science vessel, or any other combination. Each ship type has certain slots for consoles that you assign bridge officers to, and that allow those officers to provide you skills usable during space missions. Escorts are fast attack ships bristling with forward facing weapons meant for DPS and favor tactical and engineering consoles. Cruisers are large juggernauts that can take and mitigate damage for themselves and team mates and favor engineering and science consoles. Science vessels favor deflector/sensor/emitter functionality (CC/debuff) and science and engineering console slots.

How you specialize your character, and your bridge officers, determines what skills you have in space or ground missions. So there are a LOT of combinations of skills available to you through both your main character and officers. Characters have skill trees, while you can plug and alternate skills in limited slots for bridge officers. Both characters and officers receive skill points as you level, and you receive skill points periodically during a level and in larger chunks at each level.

So there is a huge variety and customization available when you add up ship choice, consoles, and equipment slots, and character/officer skills and equipment.

Overall I am surprised at the playability and enjoyment I’m getting from STO. It is definitely my #1 game at the moment. I’ve spent more for games that I’ve played far less. I would recommend it to my gamer friends – at least ponying up the $40 for a month worth of entertainment.

On Glastons

Posted in Glaston Banter on November 12, 2009 by Stash

"Hey you! You have to hide me!"

That was the line that, although I didn’t know it, would begin my travels down a road that would introduce me to some of the greatest folk I’ve ever met. The group that calls itself Glastons.

Now I know it’s been a very long time since a blog has been posted here, for that I apologize. Ever since we left Warhammer we’ve been kind of split in our gaming. Some are in Champions, some in Aion, and some are just taking an MMO break. The nice thing is, we still all talk on almost a daily basis, and try to game together as much as we can. We have a BloodBowl league going, that quite a few are in, and anytime you can hop on our forums and set up a game of whatever and get someone to play. It’s a friendship and camaraderie that doesn’t take off very often in the online environment. So I thought I’d talk about this group of friends and some of their history.

The Glastons didn’t start out as Glastons. The group that would become the Glastons started way back in Everquest 1 on the Rallos Zek server, by a group of real world friends. I personally can’t really say much about their time there as that was way before my time with them, and at the time I was leading a squadron in Warbirds. Quite frankly I know very little about who we were before I became part of them in 2001 in Dark Age of Camelot, I’ll have to leave that info up to Lex, or Dismas. Dismas being one of the Rallos Zek folk.

Now as I just said, I joined them in DAOC, during their second incarnation in that game, on the Nimue server. They were known as the Glastonbury Irregulars (and Glastonbury has stuck ever since, hence Glastons), and were a relaxed RolePlay guild that was very active in the server’s activities, from being one of the leading RP guilds to being one of the top PvP guilds. They had many RP storylines running, and all the members were friendly to everyone. I myself was new to the whole RPGMMO, mostly because I had the belief that an online game was too limiting and therefore looked down on the whole genre. The gaming store that me and a couple of my buddies hung out in had just closed, and I was getting tired of the lag fest that was World War II Online as my computer just couldn’t take it. So I had been playing around in DAoC.

Nimue was the brand new server that had just went up, therefore everyone was new, I wouldn’t have to compete with folks that had been playing for months. I chose Albion because they seemed to be the least "Magic" based background (I came very, very close to going Midgard) And started my scout (archer class). I have to admit, I was impressed, and I had fun, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. Now in all my tabletop gaming I was the guy that always played the thief, so I gave the Infiltrator a shot. I had found my class. I started leveling up, joining some pick up groups and having a good time.

That’s when it happened. I was still in the lower level area, just trying to grind through what I needed when I see that text line roll across my chat panel. "Hey you! You have to hide me!" I looked around to see what was a scout running straight at me. "Quick! Hide me!" He said.

Ok, I have to admit my first thought was WTF!?! Then it dawned on me, I was on an RP server, this was RP. Now I had chosen an RP server because I wanted to RP, I just hadn’t seen any yet to play along with. So here was my chance. I quickly (for me) typed out instructions to hide in the nearby building, and I followed him and placed myself in the doorway. Sure enough here came a shiny Paladin, Racius, who was looking for a criminal scout fitting the description of my new friend hiding in the building behind me. I again quickly typed out that yea I had in fact seen a scout matching that description, and he had ran into the city proper. Thanking me, Racius trotted off to the city. After he left, and we made sure he wasn’t coming back, the scout thanked me for the help and introduced himself as Frederyk of the Glastonbury Irregulars. Telling me that the nobles, who Racius was one of, were trying to pin a crime on him because the Irregulars were all common folk and had gotten a little to uppity. We talked for a little bit, then he left to go lose himself in a nearby forest (and if you knew Freddy I mean Lost, according to him the forest trails moved just to spite him.)

So there was my first Glaston encounter, and my first RP experience. I decided to look up these guys on the net and see what they were all about. The FAQ and Charter were the same that we have up today, 8 years later. The values have stayed true to what the Founders, Bowar and Sixtus, first envisioned and although we have had people come and go, and the original founders have moved on in their real life, Being a Glaston is still about friendship first. We have a saying, "Once a Glaston, Always a Glaston." Any one of these folks has a home if they ever decide to return to gaming. That’s how we are.

Sure there are guilds and clans that have been around for years, but in most of these it’s a select few at the top that is a constant, and quite often those few are offline buddies. Everyone else is below them and they call all the shots, dictate all the rules, and basically kick out any and all that disagree with them. Glastons are so not like that. Every Glaston has just as much say as any other Glaston, no matter if you’ve been around for 8 years, or 8 months. We do have a trial period for folk who newly join, but to be honest, it more so they can decide if we’re the group for them. The way we work and get along just isn’t for everyone. You have to be willing to get completely pissed off at someone, and then forgive them right after. All Glastons know that they are not going to agree with everything, every time, and they all try to accept that. I say try. The truth is, if you stick a bunch of people in a room and tell them to talk about something that is opinion based. Someone is going to get mad and leave. It happens. The thing about us is the fact that if they ever want to come back, they can, with no hard feelings. To us, that’s what being friends first means.

Well I think I bored you guys enough for now, I’ll talk more on the history side in my next post.

-Stash

Warhammer Online (a recipe for disatser)

Posted in Warhammer Online on April 11, 2009 by Hellion

Hello you ass cakes! That’s right! It’s your old friend hellion fresh from poisoning the well. The topic of this week. How do you fail when you have a gift handed to you? Some people might say that this is a hard thing to do. Warhammer is after all a rich and full environment with a million different story lines and the potential to be the greatest game ever made. Now before you write this off as “another wftbbq Warhammer is crappy post” keep in mind I still play, and no I don’t play anything else. So lets get cooking !!

Add one part stupid with 2 parts omg!

It’s odd but every time I start playing Warhammer it feels like I’m still in beta. Poor graphic speeds with an ungodly huge computer = Fail. I mean really bad. I’m not running this on a com64 here. Tell me what I need so this game is playable! Should this not have been figured out before release? I feel like the fat kid at a birthday party. Everything but the cake is a slide show! Fail!

Mix together in a bag of hate!

Ask any Korean kid out there, If I can level to 40 in 2 days I need to do something while I’m 40. I’m not sure Mythic knew that the Korean super nerd existed. These little fruit bags are all about the uber level. They are not even sure they are playing a game. To them its all just Tetris. Stack and Stack it sky high till you starve to death. Even on a ( I have a life outside of video games) account. They still failed.

Pre Heat Oven to 350 degrees of suck

Don’t worry more content is coming be patient. Don’t worry such and such class will be fixed soon. Ohh really? Will mythic let me do a ” don’t worry check is in the mail” for my account? I don’t think so. Fail!

Add more and more crap till you can’t taste the stupid anymore.

Hey lets roll out 50 new classes while the ones that we have that need fixing can just continue to reek! Good plan. right? Wrong, double negative, fail. Fix my Archmage Assholes! I made a bumper sticker and put this on my car.

Bake Until Everyone is Done!

Look. You can agree with this next part or not. I don’t care at all. I firmly believe that no matter what you do class wise. If you don’t give both sides the EXACT SAME CLASS you will always have retarded amounts of Destro is over powered, or Order is over powered, even if they are not. It’s easy really. Keep it simple ass hat! Or something like that. Give everyone the same stuff or else! By the way. Whats with this one button mash crap. 1 button AOE healing, 1 button AOE damage, 1 Button Tanking, I feel like this game was made by fisher price. Let me play my class I’m old enough. I’m smart enough, I can handle it. I don’t want to just mash one button. I want to play not break my god damn fingers off on a single button!

Conclusion

As you all know I never walk away from a blog without a solution. For this problem I’m going to have to say. Take this game out of Mytics big dumb retard fingers. All they are doing is mangling it to pieces. Ever see that cartoon with bugs bunny and the abominable snowman. You know that big dummy that fingers up bugs and keeps calling him George. Well that snowman is Mythic and Bugs is Warhammer. Burn in hell!

Love Hellion

Canary in a Coal Mine

Posted in 1 on March 27, 2009 by XLCS

First off I love The Police.  My favorite band, seriously!  So I know the song’s directed at a chick who can’t deal with real life.  But somehow… it seems appropriate to my current take on MMOs.  Or rather, my attitude to what MMOs have evolved into.

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live you life like a canary in a coalmine…

Now I started playing MMOs with EverQuest.  One of my best friends and I played it for a good year together and had a friggin’ blast!  It was a great experience, a new experience.  We joined a guild of kind-hearted folks – Sacred Order of Unity.  Yea not the best name, but good folks and a long overdue shout out to Caloak and Nimble. 😉

Anyway, I split EQ for Anarchy Online when the later came out.  I had a sweet gig going with a Bard in EQ, I loved twisting and killing a dozen mobs at once via kiting.  But even though my best friend stayed in EQ, I needed something different.  And Anarchy Online was the first SciFi MMO… awesome!  Unfortunately it was also the first megalag fest ever.  For as cool as it was, the lag was crippling.

BTW, my friend stuck with EQ for a long while afterward and hit the higher-end 50+ content.  EQ had hellacious leveling requirements and the death penalty was NASTY.  Made the game play a lot more exciting, and frustrating, than what MMOs have now.

Shortly after Anarchy Online, an intersting fantasy MMO came out… with Realm vs. Realm comabat!  Keeps and seige and holy shyte!  So there I was in DAoC.  Found a great roleplaying guild, Glastonbury Irregulars, one of the premier roleplaying guilds in fact on Nimue server. About a year went by, and the original crew of the guild faded away as they are want to do.  When the last of the original members left, I was handed guild lead.  The following year was a long drawn out fading of the guild.  A brutal affair in retrospect.  The remaining members were a great crew, but only a handful, and we tried in vain to keep the guild afloat but eventually new MMOs came out and GI (DAoC) dissolved into the ether.

Lesson = when it’s over, it’s over.  Don’t try to keep it going, it’ll just drain your will to rez.

Some of our crew stuck together and formed shards on Planetside and Star Wars Galaxies.  Planetside wound up being a long term, on-and-off affair, easily the longest MMO run we’ve had.  By my account, we were in Planetside for a good 5 years.  But SWG was the true renaissance of Glastonbury.  Roleplaying was reignited, and Stash really made that guild shine and prosper.  Oddly enough though in my case, I had actually purchased a second account for the game… but wound up ditching it early on for real life reasons.

Lesson = when RL calls, you go with it and don’t hesitate to drop a game.

Shadowbane came and we had a good run.  Awesome concept for an MMO, but oh lordy the bugs and server queues were just too much to deal with for long.  First in a long line of subpar MMOs that I left early with no regret.

Lesson = buggy games, no matter how cool a concept, are not worth spending time and money on.

I think that’s about the time that MMOs started becoming something different… less long-term endeavors and more of a run of buggy, blatantly cash-cow business turds that were plopped out to try to get people to subscribe to them.

Then came World of Warcraft.  Best MMO ever?  I dunno, I quite after 4 months.  Loved it up to the point that the Honor System went in.  I had no problem dropping it after HS.  Beforehand, I could be out soloing and run into a Alliance faction character, and have a good 1v1 PvP encounter.  Our guild would go out together and have some pretty good PvP runs.  As soon as they changed the system though, it became a huge PK fest, zergs of level 60’s farming 40’s in lower end zones.  To me, this was way too much BS to deal with as a level 43 struggling now to reach epic level.  Drop?  Aye, and how.

Lesson = No matter how popular a game is, if you think its sucks, it probably does.

Since then it’s been a cavalcade of subpar MMO endeavors… Vanguard was a jewel.  What a turdburger.  Hellgate: London actually wasn’t all that bad, but the PvE line was much too short.  Age of Conan was pretty awesome, until I reached level 40-ish and just became utterly bored with it.  Didn’t even bother getting into the PvP aspect of AoC.  Just couldn’t keep playing it when the content dropped out.  And that’s really what MMOs should concentrate on – content, content, content.  You can play a single-player RPG and have 50+ hours of immersive content, and get your $50 worth no problem.  But why… WHY… keep subscribing to an MMO at $15/month when the content is crap?  Or the game mechanics suck?  Or the end-game is boring?  Crafting?  Um, not for me, thanks.

Lesson = If a game developer keeps telling you everything’s going to be better after release, or if a game seems too good to be true, it’s probably false.

Even roleplay has a limit.  You need something more to the world, the mythos, the content, to keep roleplay up.  Otherwise it’s just Real Life or Sims.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to roleplay – when the environment is conducive to it.  But when the game for all intents and purposes is over, it’s over IMO.

Nowadays it seems like MMOs are developed for about 6 months of content.  Maybe that’s just my gauge.  But the last few MMOs have been like that for me.  I must caveat this with an important personal point. While I do play alts, I tend to focus on ONE character.  I rarely play alts to any level of consequence.  So my time line in an MMO is fairly linear.  I play one character to max level, experiencing the content appropriate for that character.  Then the end game or end of content comes around.  And then… ?

So this finally brings me to Warhammer Online.  I hit 40 with my main recently.  It was completely uneventful.  I enjoyed leveling my main, I had an idea of what I wanted him to be before the game released, played him through and enjoyed the class thoroughly.  I enjoy playing him in RvR, even though RvR has been mostly a amoebic lurching forward and back with little tactics involved.  I wish RvR was a little more like Planetside, with more tactical opportunities.  But that’s a symptom that in general, the end-game in WAR is lacking.  It’s extremely repetitive.  Fort/City raiding is attrocious.  What’s worse is that as I said – leveling my main was actually enjoyable.  There was actually a good variety of things to do in order to level up, PQs, scenarios, RvR, basic quest/hunting.

But once you hit 40… it rapidly becomes repetitive.  You have to farm dungeons for wards in order to be viable for Fort/City raids.  RvR – even though Mythic made it much more complex and varied by increasing the zones – is still just a back and forth leap frogging of BOs and keeps.  Without being able to use group tactics and terrain pinch points and such to mix it up, it’s the same as DAoC’s RvR.  Even by limiting CC and such there’s still the RPG element that allows for imbalances to be exploited.

I’ve been listening to some podcasts that have also foretold the coming drop off.   I think the writing’s on the wall for this Engineer.  I’ve been loosing interest in WAR at an exponential rate since hitting 40.  Now I rarely log in.  I’d still like to play WAR and have good RvR experiences – be able to log in after work and havea n enjoyable night’s worth of gaming.  But… I hear the chirping plea of a waning yellow avian angel…

Canary in a coal mine?  Sure, OK.

Oh yes I cut her from my heart, like a big loud stankin’ fart… to her I shall never return… I met my match, and I got burned…. – Early Cuyler, Squidbillies

Over-stimulation. Not the good kind.

Posted in 1 on March 5, 2009 by XLCS

Alright. Like a lot of my friends my age (cough), I grew up watching “personal computing” evolve from Wolfenstein on Apple II’s to the internet to our current free-form genetic freakshow known as social networking. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed, Twitter, etc. etc. And yea, I’m one of those who think sitting down at a bar or coffee shop and engaging in conversation, however inane, is far superior to hording a list of names online and being Tom’s friend.

But, I have to admit, I joined Facebook and it has made keeping in touch with old friends whom I’ve lost touch with, or would loose touch with otherwise, a lot easier. There are some upsides to social networking.

I’m also a closet geek, although I’ve not built a computer in several years now and only browse the upper tufts of the greener pastures that I happen to wander onto. Mainly old personae from the now absorbed and digested Tech TV clan. I’m also into news and music aggregators (oh, another techie euphemism!), especially to get a full range of political and musical genre. Keeping up with these by visiting website, reading blogs, DLing pod/vodcasts, etc. turns into a couple hours plus some nights. So rather than try to ingest all this stuff on a regular basis, I figured I’d follow them on Twitter, and shortly afterward using Friendfeed.  Twitter is the aberrant love-child of social networking and some sort of frenzied, hyperactive Chernobylitic beast.  Twitter is hypernetworking, micro-blogging.  Other micro-blogging/posting services are Jaiku, Pownce (bought & undergoing a transformation), Tumblr… they all share in common a streamlined format suitable for short, rapid-fire posting.

IMO they’re hedging their bets on being able to be used on broadband cell networks so people can update, post, etc. from their cell phones.  More micropurchasing to come kiddies!  In the mean time, these services cost nothing, have no advertisement revenue, and in some cases don’t even have a business plan.  Yet they have extremely high valuation based on the free-to-use, no advertising, not-having-a-business plan thing.  In the case of Twitter, they’re valued at $250M!  They do not have a business plan.

How these sites generate so much investment backing is another story, for another blog, to be aggregated and tweeted about at another time… back to the subject at hand!

Now, Ive got plenty of friends on Facebook but my “RL” friends don’t really extend beyond the typical social networking site… if they’ve even gotten that far. Twitter and Friendfeed are definitely for people who either work in the tech industry, or are plugged into a computer all day long and have easy access to this stuff (note that last part, as many companies block social network sites and programs).

So everything was Cool and The Gang for the first week or so. Granted, I couldn’t really attend to the wave of information any better than before, since I still had limited time to actually consume what is now still the same medium of data.  Only now it’s more of a shotgun blast of unfiltered TMI rather than sniped stuff I wanted to pick off.  Really, people think that other people want to know exactly what they’re doing or thinking at any given moment…?  Really?

I guess I’m not a Twitter person.  In fact now I’ve grown to actually despise the so-called “hyper-social” tools. First off – tweets. You tweet, they tweet, we twitter.  Can someone just take the Baseball Bat of Manliness, repeatedly clobber me upside the head, until all this fairy dust is washed from my brain in oozing streams of crimson gore? Secondly, and this is the most important part – a crazy amount of tweets are inane, utterly ridiculous, “OMG I just wiped my ass and my finger broke through the toilet paper!” posts with nothing as remotely interesting as the aforementioned brownfinger.

That’s not to say that all twittering is equal or utterly useless.  A lot of the news & music aggregators, as well as the less self-absorbed professionals out there do post actual useful and informative tweets, even if it’s bit-sized links to something.  But there is enough non-essential, self-absorbed twittering going on to definitely make this hyper-networking the digital equivalent of someone whispering “Who farted?” to make everybody laugh for a brief, uncomfortable moment in the cubicle farm because someone wanted to break the silence of actual productive work.  It’ll probably shake out like the video sites where 99% of content is just time-wasting, brain-numbing, cud for the chewing.

Seriously, here are some very recent, choice tweets from high-profile techsters and pundits who I’m following, hoping to get some breaking news or at least something vaguely interesting:

back in the office (after 2 day move to new apt in SF) tons to do.. email count: 720

About to dye my hair blonde. Pkg “does not rec for med brown hair or darker”. Is my hair med brown? This will either be fun or end in tears.

Blonde ambition update: No tears! It’s lighter but no crazy change. Def strawberry blondish, not flaxen. Took forever! I like it I think.

i rarely eat breakfast and probably should more often. i did today. why is it that im more hungry for lunch when i do than when i don’t?

getting ready to redeye back to nyc — still kind of amazed by duke energy intrvu. *why* can’t the lights stay on in a storm exactly?

And now everybody is twittering, blogging, snarging, blerging, and smurqing (those last couple will be invented soon, sold for millions, and dumped after the personal data is mined, I’m sure). Better yet… this is the kind of stuff that Congresspeople and Senators were doing during the Presidential address the other night!  What the hell?  It’s bad enough when someone in a trend position thinks they’re popular enough to tweet about their toast being too dry, but supposed political leadership… during a f@#%ing Presidential speech?  Even technophobe John McCain somehow manages to twitter quite often.

It’s TMI.

p.s. – That gives me an idea… TMIr, the new nano-blogging cloudspace app for your phone!  Who wants a piece of this startup?  We’ll make p’zillions!