Monday, August 31, 2009

The Beat!

Something creepy to keep you all wondering.

Neurosonics Audiomedical Labs Inc. from Chris Cairns on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On the Frontlines

I had a chance recently to play Frontlines: Fuel of War with a few of my favor bloggers, Scott over at Pumping Irony and Aaron over at Anyway Games. Let me say that Scott's version of my gaming prowess is very much exaggerated. Yes, I did kill him with a tank and yes, it was very funny sneaking up on him, but until we all got on the same team I think the score on kills was more like Scott 20, Oakstout 1.

I had picked the game up a few months back on the hopes that we would all get a chance to play online together. I was concerned that since the game was over a year old that their wouldn't be a lot of players online, which is the case with a lot of online console games when they are past their prime, but I was pleasantly surprised that the community is very large and their were lots of great servers to chose from.

Normally, if I play a FPS, it's on the computer because I suck playing them on a console, but I really wanted to give this one a shot and it was a lot of fun. I'm hoping we can get a few more players so we can field an entire team of bloggers and friends.

This is one fun game I would recommend to any Xbox 360 owner.

The Bad Patch

I'm a bit behind in my news, but I wanted to talk about something that has been bothering me since Blizzard released their recent content patch, 3.2, for World of Warcraft.

Everyone has seen the patch notes, so I won't go over them here. My main complaint, isn't the patch it self, it's what the patch has spawned. Emblems of Conquest now drop from 5 man heroic dungeons. This is great, it lets people, who are limited on time or aren't really interested in raiding, to have access to higher end gear. This has brought to the forefront some of the most obnoxious players in the game. Let me give you a little background to explain.

I like PuGs. My success rate with finding nice friendly people, who know what they are doing and know how to get the job done was close to 85%. I would run PuGs all the time and as a protection paladin, it wasn't hard to get into a group. On occasions, I would get into a group that was under geared or certain people didn't know their role, but even in those groups, people bit their tongues and didn't give each other crap.

Enter patch 3.2 and the need to have that coveted gear through Emblems of Conquests.

Players start doing chain heroics, trying to get as many emblems as they can in the least amount of time. The problem is, when you rush, things go wrong and then players start to wag their tongues a bit too much and start to point fingers. Up until the patch came out, PuGs were fun. I would do a few a day, every day if possible. Now, they are a bane to my fun. It's like the patch spawned a whole bunch of rude, crude socially unacceptable players and the only thing on their mind is what's in it for me. Patch 3.2 is a prime example of how greed effects people. "I must run 10 heroics a day so I can get my tier x shoulders by Thursday" but the issue is, once you get all that gear, what then? If your not a hardcore raider, you'll look very nice in that pretty gear, but you won't be doing anything in it. And if your already a hardcore raider, why even stress out about that gear. It's not like you won't be raiding an instance that will drop even better gear eventually. True, you have to compete for the drop against other people, but isn't that the fun of raiding? Isn't that why we raid?

I just don't get why people have to be rude. I mean, everyone has a bad day. On occasions I've made a wrong pull or forget to re-acquire agro and someone gets a mob punching them in the face, but that happens. There is no need to start telling me how to play or tell me I suck or I'm not going fast enough. I've had people so impatient that they pull bosses, just to get people moving faster and then they complain that they are dead because I didn't rescue them from their mistake. I've had several conversations in groups since the patch where my ability to tank has been brought into question because people don't understand how to control their threat. And the reason their not watching is because they are in a hurry to get to the next dungeon to acquire that next emblem and some how, that is my fault.

My advise, don't run PuGs till the dust settles and all the rude people become bored again and go back to sleep, then I think it will be safe to find a decent PuG. Lets just hope they don't release another content patch soo soon after they start to slumber.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Coffee Break

Coffee Break! Time to take a moment, step away from the World, that is Warcraft and discuss other things.

I recently picked up two new DS games.

Desktop Tower Defense is a below average game derived from a browser based game which is free. I only picked it up because the box said "Game of the year" but apparently that was a marketing ruse. It's your typical, build turret, upgrade turret, defend against on coming army. Nothing too spectacular. Very low end graphics and the game can provide some entertainment, but at $20.00 it's pretty much a rip off. If you have a PS3, I would recommend PixelJunk Monsters, which is a much better game and half the price or just play it through a browser.

The second and much much better game I purchased is Grand Theft Auto: China Wars by Rockstar Games. It's a top down version of their very popular console series and let me say, it's a lot of fun and challenging. It's the typical set up, you are small fry in a big mafia, Yakuza to be precise. You do odd jobs for your uncle till you can start branching out and making new friends, all the while trying to find out who killed your father and stole the family heirloom.

Driving around town is a good portion of the game. There are lots of side missions some of them entail you working in the drug trade. One of the more difficult aspects, at least for me is the driving. It isn't as easy as one would expect, the controls are very similar to those used in previous versions of the console game, but since the DS is much smaller than a console controller working with the left and right bumper buttons while trying to zip around town takes some getting use to and it takes time coordinating your moves so it feels more natural. Also keeping your car on the road does seem a bit difficult, but it is a bit forgiving on damage and running over people, meaning the cops don't start after if you run over one person, unless it's a cop. But if the law starts chasing after you, no fear, just run them into other cars or building structures until they crash or explode, this will generally discourage those following and eventually they will give up pursuit. The game is also chalk full of naughty language so it's definitely not for kids. The humor is there, just inbetween the F-bombs.

At $35.00 it's a little above my normal DS game price range, but I don't feel like I got robbed amd the cost is about equal to the amount of fun I've been having, which is always a plus, since I've only scratched the surface.

The only other game purchase I have made in the past few months is Sims 3, but I'm not ready to speak about it just yet indepth. It is a time sink, and a lot easier to play, for me at least, than previous versions. But if you want more info on the game for now, check out Ysharro's blog.

(Course, knowing me, I've probably already mentioned all that a few blogs back. Memory is one of the first things to go, right?)

Other than that, I've really not been playing anything except World of Warcraft. I am, however, looking forward to trying out Wii Sports Resort, which came out last week and Scribblenauts for the DS, which should be hitting shelves in a few weeks. I also have my eye on a few Monkey Island games, the old version, which has been reskinned and the new episodic version, have recently been released and I've very interested in picking something up, but since they release it on both Steam and XBLA, its hard to choose. I'll probably have to consult the gaming community to see which is better.

See, it doesn't have to always be rants and WoW!

*Personal Point*
I've lost 27 lbs. on Weight Watchers.

The Forward Progression

To raid 10 man instances, you need,... well, 10 players. Course, you need the right combination, mainly 2 tanks, 2 or 3 healers then the rest a collection of melee or ranged dps. But the two most important things, in my opinion, you need for a successful 10 man run is gear and experience. If you don't have those, no matter how many healers, tanks or dps you have, you will fail epically.

So, how do you get these two must have items? Obtaining decent epic gear is pretty easy, if not time consuming. First, on your way to 80, you can pick up good gear by doing normal instances, completing quest for reward gear or grinding up rep with several factions in Northrend. Crafted gear as well as gear purchased off the auction are also great ideas. There really isn't any limitation to getting decent starter epic gear if your persistent.

Here is how I got all my tanking gear for my Paladin. First, when I hit 80, I did a lot of battlegrounds and tons of Wintersgrasp events. Through the gathering of honor, I was able to purchase some decent dps gear. Even though it was designed for PvP, it still doesn't do a bad job of getting you through a few instances as long as you make sure to enchant and gem it properly for max damage output. After obtaining a good number of pieces, I would jump into as many normal PuG instances as I could, just to learn how the dungeons worked and to pick up any trinkets or rings I was still missing. Then, I moved forward to doing Heroic dungeons. This provided me with Emblems of Heroism, with which I was able to purchase more tanking gear. If, while running the heroic, the main tank didn't need an item, I would get a chance to roll on it, sometimes I was successful, others, not so much, especially when I tended to get into all plate wearing groups. Believe it or not, it actually happens. After getting enough tanking gear through emblems and crafting a few pieces with my blacksmith, I decided to do a few tanking runs myself. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but as the tank, I got my choice of any tanking gear that dropped.

That is basically how I was able to build up my tanking set and a decent dps set for my off-spec. Not a very hard endeavor. Through my determination to run instances where I could get the best gear, I was able to pick up a few pointers from more experienced people and was able to gain the experience needed to be a successful tank. You can't run just a few successful instances and claim to have experience, especially those that don't run any instances till they get to 80. Experience also comes from being in bad PuGs and learning what works and what doesn't. I know for instance, that if my health is failing on trash mobs that the healer is ill prepared to get us through to the end boss. If the portal mobs aren't getting dps-ed fast enough in Heroic Violet Hold, then we are lacking in the proper dps and others will have to step up to get it done. All of this comes from not just doing one or two heroic dungeons but doing all of them over and over in the hope of understanding what combinations provide a winning outcome and which will end in utter failure.

I believe that since WoTLK came out, PuGs have been much more successful. True, you still get the occasional know it all pain in the ass and the idiot that has no clue, both of which will cause expensive gear repairs by the end of the run, but more often than not this is the exception not the rule.

My suggestion, before your guild starts running 10 man raids, make sure everyone is geared up, run a ton of heroic dungeons and maybe even an old 10 man raid pre-WoTLK. Go over strats and always remember, it's just a game, that you play for fun, relaxation and enjoyment.