Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Elitist

How much grander would the world of MMO's be without the Elitist?

Lets take a second to envision such a world, shall we.

There wouldn't be anyone pointing out how much you suck as a player because your DPS is under 1700, your using the least efficient spell to heal with or how much they've sacrificed so you could exist inside the guild. There would not be the constant reminder how useless a player you are because you haven't raided every instance of every expansion within weeks of release. To point out your so under geared, you probably couldn't even wipe your own ass without lossing half your health and mana, let alone participate in a boss fight.

It would be ok for players to make mistakes in a instance without getting lambasted with rude remarks or insults. PuGs might actually be a fun way to learn an instance rather than a nightmare that may scar you for life. The play atmosphere might be a little less militant or stressful and people might start to have fun and experience the sand in the sandbox experience.

What a wonderful world that would be.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Life Support, Round 2

A few posts back, I expressed my feelings about the inevitable doom of PC games. Well, I'm here to tell you that my recent experiences with purchasing and installing several PC games has only confirmed my belief that PC gaming is on it's last legs.

In April, I'll be attending a Lan Party in Atlanta with a few close friends. We've not gotten together to play computer games in a very long time so I'm really looking forward to it. So, in anticipation of the weekend of fun, I picked up a few games that I thought would be on the play list. I picked up Left 4 Dead, Dawn Of War 2 and decided to installed Unreal Tournament 3, which I picked up when the local Circuit City was on the way down.

So, first I decided to install Left 4 Dead. The original install went well, no issues getting the disc to read in the drive, no problems finding space, so all seemed well. Left 4 Dead is a Valve game, so it's tied to Steam, which hasn't been an issue in the past, since I already have the Orange Box installed and working great. Once installed, the Steam worked it's magic and checked for updates, which there were a few. Then, when all was set, I decided to give it a whirl.

Pop up message:
"You need to install the newest video drivers to play this game properly".

So, I had to stop everything, go out to the net, get the drivers, uninstall the old drivers, yadda yadda, yadda. So, about 15 minutes later, I was able to give the game a shot. It runs very smooth, looks and feels just like the Xbox version, so no surprise there. I didn't spend a lot of time with the game because playing some FPS on the PC tends to give me vertigo these days for some reason and I didn't feel like making myself too sick. lol

One down, two to go.

Next, I decided to install Dawn of War 2. Being a fan of the original series and owning all the expansions, I was looking forward to giving this game a good work out. If I had known all the brick walls I would encounter installing this game I might have left the wrapper on it. So, upon installing the game, I kept getting an error message.

Pop up message:
"The installation of the game failed to complete. Please try again."

So, after giving the install a few tries I went out on the net to find a fix for this issue. After searching several boards, many of the answers ranging from installing each component of the game disc separate to editing the system registry, something I wouldn't do on a good day. Finally, the answer came from the Steam forums. Apparently, the issue has something to do with the way the game interacts with Steam during the install process. After applying the fix, which was to edit the execut the game installed like a champ. Course, if I had known it was a Steam related game, I wouldn't have had to spend tons of time searching the net, especially when all I needed was the Steam forum boards.

Ok, so now the game is installing. Steam does it's thing updating the game to the newest patch, a feature I really like. I know I don't need a new video driver since I just installed a new one, so all is great on that front. I start up the game and it asks me for my game key. No problem, because I know it's on the back of the instruction manual in the cd case. I proceed to enter the number and I get another error.

Pop up message:
"Incorrect Game Key, Please try again"

Well, after some more research, I find out that Steam assigns a new game cd key when you install the game, so you have to right click the game in the Steam game list to view the game cd key. Once I acquired this bit of information, I was able to start up the game. Course with install and all the web searches, it only took me 40 minutes to get the game up and running. Once inside the game, I decided to tie my Xbox 360 live account to it, which took some additional time since I had forgotten my password and had to get another one. lol But that extra time was worth it, since I can now get achievements in game that go toward my Xbox 360 total.

I'll do a review later on the actual game play, but suffice it to say, the game is awesome!

Ok, so I waited a few days to install my last game, Unreal Tournament 3. Because I was spending so much time with Steam lately, I discovered that it was offering a UT3 tournament this weekend. My fear that Steam is taking over all aspects of PC gaming is starting to come true it appears. So, I decided yesterday morning to install UT3. Well, the install went smooth, or so I thought. I noticed that Steam had not recognise the install, which was strange since the other two games I had installed got added to my to Steam games list and became instantly accessable to me.

I figured this just might be some kind of glitch, which isn't a big problem as long as the game worked when clicking on the desktop icon. I did not. The little hourglass popped up, the stopped and no game. This is when I'm beginning to think that PC games just don't like me anymore. So, I figured a work around. Since I have the cd key, I decided to activate the game through Steam and down load it that way. Course, I decided to do this in the middle of my day off and I had planned to play WoW and Dawn of War 2 all afternoon. So as of this postings, I've not downloaded UT3 yet, but it's on my to do list lol.

As you can see, PC gaming tends to be less user friendly than console gaming, which was the point of my previous article and hince the reason console gaming will eventually take over the world. Players want less hassle in their lives, I know I do. PC gaming is just too problematic. Console gaming is more simplistic and puts you in the action quickly.

If anything is certain, instant gratification is what gaming should be all about. Who has time to fix drivers, or find work arounds for install errors? In order for PC gaming companies to survive in a console gaming market, they have to produce better product with less hassle. Execution is everything these days and if you want to stay in business you have to do much better.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Fight Club

Today I ventured out to Best Buy and picked up Street Fighter 4. First thing I discovered upon finishing my first online match, I suck and there probably isn't any hope of that improving anytime soon. I mean, it's like a bad movie only in slow motion.

Before I get into the game play and how poor I am at it, let me take this opportunity to say just how awesome looking the game truly is. I mean the graphics and sound are superb to any fighting game I have seen in a long time. The design and shading of each character makes them stand out against any back ground. The action is top notch and the little video cut scenes don't distract from the game at all. Now, on to the game play.

First let me say that I'm not a sadist. Meaning, that I didn't just put the game in the machine and fire up the online play to see how quick I could get may ass kicked. Truth be told, I started off slowly and worked with the ingame training mode to see how the game worked or more to the point how to do some really cool combos and special attacks. Well, apparently, I couldn't figure it out, because I was unable to perform any special attacks and I tried with several different characters. But I didn't become to disheartened, I figured why not just practice in the arcade mode and see where that leads me. Course, I would have known this was a mistake if I had bothered to read the instructions. lol

Well, the arcade mode, as chance would have it, not only lets you play gainst the computer, but it also makes you available for online play. Just as I was getting into the mode, someone joined my game, preceded to kick my ass and then left me, lying on the floor asking myself, what just happened. lol I actually did better the second match, but not by much.

Practice is something I must make sure I do before trying online play again, lots and lots of practice. Maybe I should set aside an entire year for that?

Now, I could blame the problem on my controller. Apparently, the stock xbox 360 controller has a very bad d-pad which makes playing fighting games hard. But, I can't stoop that low, but that's not going to stop me from getting another controller if it will help. Course, the one I want is sold out everywhere so I'll have to wait till they are back in stock at Best Buy online. I'm actually not horrible at fighting games, but it does take me a lot of practice to get acclimated to a new game and I've never played a Street Fighter game before. Actually, truth be told, if it wasn't for Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast, I never would have gotten into console gaming in the first place.

I just hope my skillz improve, so I can at least win a few online matches, otherwise, I'll have to take the game to gamestop for some instore credit. lol If anyone out there has any suggestions or sites that might suggest some techniques, please let me know.

Either way, Street Fighter 4 is a very good game, even if I'm currently a novice at it. If your into fighting games or thinking about trying them out for the first time, you wouldn't go wrong with picking up Street Fighter 4.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Big Nothing

Work work and more work. I just can't seem to catch a break. Every time I think I'm about to catch a little bit of a breather, they throw something else at me. Which is probably why I've gotten the creeping crud that everyone seems to be catching these days. Again, that doesn't excuse my responsibilities as a blogger to keep you all informed and up to date on what's happening in gaming or other interesting news.

And that update would be Nada, nothing, diddly squat.

I did manage to get a little bit of WoW in over the last few weeks, in between nights out of town. I will say that the Death Knight, IMHO, is very Overpowered. But that is what one would expect from a Hero Class character. My DK, Paynel, which isn't Spanish for penis, as was expressed to me in a whisper a few weeks back while playing, another reason I hate rude and unsolicited whispers in games, just dinged 62 on Wednesday thanks to a few helpful friends. The name Paynel came to me as a tribute to my friend and co-worker Larry Payne who died last April of Multiple Myeloma. Although Larry wasn't a fan of MMO's, he would always let me tell him things about my adventures in Azeroth, no matter how boring I'm sure it was to him. lol Larry was a great friend and I miss him a lot. Boy, that was an awkward tangent lol. Lets move on.

So, I am having a ton of fun playing my Death Knight. I was spec-ed full Blood at first, but I did some reading, listened to a few of my friends, all of them sporting DK's of their own these days, and decided to respec to Unholy with a little bit of frost, which is where the DPS seems to be. So far, no complaints. It's a good DPS, PVP as well as a great Tanking spec all rolled into one. But like many others playing a DK, I'm still at a loss as to how the runes work with the spells. I basically just hit the spells when the timer is up. I'm sure there is a better way to maximize my DPS by finding a good rotation for my spells, but for now, I just hit what's available at the time lol.

I, also, decided to pick up Herbalism and Inscription as my trade skills for my DK. Initially, I had to transfer about 200g over to my DK for start up cash, but with herbalism and inscription I've made that back plus about an extra 200g on top. The only real expense, besides papers to write the inscriptions on, is time. I spent about 4 days working my herbalism skill up, harvesting flowers, turning them into ink and crafting glyphs. Then I'd sell the glyphs for much less than what was listed on the market.

Considering the over all cost to make a glyph is mostly time to harvest and the few silver for the paper, selling a glyph for 2 or 3g works out better in the long run, especially when everyone else is selling them for crazy prices. I'm the crazy guy that will not only undercut other posters, but I'll do it for half what the lowest price listed is, not just come in under a few silver. I'm just trying to sell out my inventory and make money, no need to be crazy greedy like some people. Besides, I can flex my prices when the economy needs me too. But from my point of view, glyphs need to be more reasonably priced. Posting a glyph that costs maybe 2g to make for 50g is just down right greedy. I know the server I'm on is an old server and people at the high end are making gold hand over fist, but when new people come to the server, they get discouraged because everything is priced for millionaires not for your newbie player and in my book that is just wrong. It pushes potential customers away. Me, I like to take very ones gold, not just the rich people. lol

But I'm having fun harvesting and crafting glyphs, especially since I can send the enchanting vellum over to my gnome chanter and make extra cash that way as well. lol Course, I'm still working on my Paladin, Oakley, with my Wednesday night group of friends, but since they couldn't all play this past week, those that could go out the DK's and did some questing, which was nice. Funny things, DK's tend to be imposing, meaning people the same level as you or lower tend to leave you alone, even DK's of the opposing faction, while those in the 80's tend to find it their life mission to make your life miserable. lol When that happens, I'll bug out and hit some old world areas for some herbs. No need hitting yourself against a brick wall, especially when the brick wall is intent on killing you everytime. lol

Apparently my Nada speech at the beginning was a bit premature. lol

But other than a bit of WoW, I've not done a lot of gaming especially since this cold is really starting to kick my ass and I spend most of my free time sleeping and resting. I do hope that next post I'll have something more to say. I am looking forward to seeing the Watchmen this weekend. I had planned to do that today, but this cold again, is beating like a rented mule, so I just lazed around the house all day watching CSI:NY which is slowly becoming one of my favorite shows. I wasn't a fan when it first came out, but since returning from New York, I've made a point of watching all things New York, since it has now become my favorite city.

Now as a finally treat and to boost views, here is a link to my first posting on you tube. It's a video of a few co workers while we were setting up for our show in L.A. I wanted to test out the video quality of my new Canon Camera and also wanted to recreate the event that became the joke for our entire trip, Devin and his wonderful iron cold steel fists. lol I have another video I want to post from my New York trip, but I have to do some editing first, which will require me actually getting a video editing program installed on my machine.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Watchmen

The movie comes out this week and sad to say, I'm just now half way through the graphic novel. I've know about the Watchmen since the late 80's when the series was originally released, but sadly, I didn't jump on the band wagon at the time and missed the train, to use another metaphor, when it came to collecting the series. So, I just let it go by. I had many a friend who would tell me how great the story was and recount each issue to me, but back then, I really didn't appreciate the darker comic book stories. I was more into the flash and less into the substance back in those days.

Now, being an older and more appreciative reader, I can honestly say that back then, I was a real idiot for not trying to get my hands on such an awesome series. The story is so original and very thought provoking. It shows how ordinary people cope with the truly horrible things that can happen to them and the people around them. How society can think your a hero one minute and a criminal the next. The most interesting thing in the comic that has been already advertised in the trailers for the movie is "Who watches the Watchmen?". In my opinion, it means who's moral compass is the right one for society? Just because you say your a hero of society, how do we know that murder is not above you in fixing societies faults? That one brutality can be used to fix another? Who sets the standard for what is right and what is wrong in the world?

The series is very thought provoking on many subjects. I just hope that it translates well to cinema. Ever since the series was published, fanboy's have wanted a movie. Now that technology has allowed the full concept of the comic to be translated to the screen, will it be everything fans have hoped for? Will they have to cut some of the more interesting scenes to make things work? This can be a problem as I recently discovered when they translated one of my favorite book series by Charlene Harris to the small screen. Although, Anna Paquin won a golden globe for her portrayal of Sookie Stackhouse, to me she is just too annoying and bitchy for my tastes and that's how she is written on the show. I'm just hoping this doesn't happen with the Watchmen.

Because, If the movie fails to pass the fanboy litmus test, then you'll see more blog activity than at the launch of Age of Conan and Warhammer online combined. Trust me, there will be so much flaming that I wouldn't be suprised if the internet itself caught on fire. Again, this might not even happen. But as past comic to screen translations have proven, not eveyone will be happy with the director's or in some cases, the studio's vision. I loved "300", but hated the last two X-Men and Spiderman movies. Some franchises should never be made into sequels, because too much of a good thing can kill something great.

I am hopeful, from what I've seen through trailers and read in blogs, that this will be a great movie. I just have to keep my fingers crossed.