Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poland, You Have Nothing To Fear From Me

I finally got around to trying the campaign mode in Panzer Corps the other night. I read a review that said it was easy to learn but hard to master and so far I can attest to that.

The game is interesting in that you can only be the Germans. There's no beating back the Wehrmacht and saving the Motherland in this one. It's also quite 'old school' in that it is a turn-based computerized board game (essentially).

My first mission? Invade Poland. Result? Defeat. I failed to take the objectives and Poland remains free. The Germans have been beat back and now France and Britian (according the post-script) are on their way to kick our ass. I was fired and sent packing.

Back to the drawing board as they say.

I recognize that this is a very well done game but I wonder if I'll be able to stick with it. Matrix games has done some classics in their day, and I am a huge fan of the Close Combat series. This game has a similar feel and some nice additions like unit promotions, kill counts, and other death-related statistics which make me happy. I liked the real-time (with pause feature) combat in Close Combat and find that I miss it. It's early days, however, so for now I'll just say, 'no comment' on the game and Poland can rest assured their chances remain good until I lean the game a bit better.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Finally Get It

It's certainly taken some time but I think I finally get it. I've always hated MMO games with stupid, pointless quests, but I think I've finally come to understand what's going on. You see, Sunday I was quite busy with various domestic tasks when it suddenly dawned on me: wouldn't it be great to have someone around to do all this crap for me? And not just once, but over, and over again? The lawn, for instance, constantly needs mowing. Week in, week out. There it is....growing. Cheeky grass.

And it wouldn't matter how many people came by, I'd always have chores...er I mean, quests for them to do.

You there, fetch me two bags of dog poop from my lawn.

Ahh, hardy adventurer, bring me 10 weeds from my garden.

Bring unto me 10 carrots from my vegetable patch.

Pile 22 charcoal briquettes in the fearsome orange bar-b-que and light them on fire!

Travel forth unto the liquor store, and there in the dark recesses of the shop, past the bored-looking security guard you shall encounter......Ale. Bring unto me 12 of these bottles of Ale- of not less than 6% alcohol (I'm Canadian after all so anything less is just given to children to pour on their cereal).

Your reward? More quests of course. It seems to work in the games, so why not in real life? Not interested? Okay, how about I throw in a purple bathrobe I used to wear....er I used to use fighting Trolls? Ya? Nice one.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fortuitous Friday! The Return

Well we're back with another Fortuitious Friday after 5 weeks of The Greatest Show I Never Saw. I had a lot of fun with that series and will likey be posting another music-related one in the near future, or perhaps mixing them in with the regular Friday edition.

I went for a run this morning to clear my head and decided on a few things. You see, much like when I was 'Fighting the Funk', and banned myself from warhammer, I realize that I have been a bit cranky. Well, more cranky than usual as 'crank' is my default, factory setting. Take a social-recluse who hates people and throw him into multi-player games where manners are even worse than in real life and hijinks, will definitely ensue.

Nothing happens in a vacum and over the last few months I've let my exercise regime slide a little..... well, maybe a lot. I'm still carrying my 'Christmas Weight' and since it's now August I think it's time to just accept that I'm getting fat. I'm up 16-pounds over the last year (and I wasn't exactly emaciated to begin with) and I'd lik to drop at least half of that. I no longer have the time to go to the gym daily as I once did so I think that's realistic. I'm not going to stop drinking (my biggest source of calories)- thats just ridiculous- but I do need to maintain my 3-day per week regime which has slid to 2 days. Similar to Chris over at High Latency I think a public declaration will help me keep on track. Grats to you, by the way Chris. That's a monumental achievement though I will argue to my dying day that drunk is a perfectly reasonable way to go through life....and where's my Lagout damnit!

I'm also going to give World of Tanks a bit of a break. Last night I bought my ISU-152 (Tier 8 Russian Tank Destroyer). I had fully upgraded and researched it and so I was armed with the dreaded (for the enemy) BL-10, Tier 10 monster gun right off the start. I had been waiting and saving for weeks..... and it wasn't any fun at all. I lost my first 3 matches due to the usual stupid-play of my teammates (leaving entire flanks open, camping at base while we get killed defending a few feet away, etc, etc). 1 for 4 with only 3 kills isn't the way I wanted to start out. My posts are getting whinier, and my frustration is on the rise. Time for a break.

Back to Wurm? I'm actually still playing Wurm- daily- so I will be posting some more on that in the coming weeks. I have gone premium with my alt and now own two deeds so a lot has been happening.

What's this...a single player-game? They still make those?

Yes, while I'm waiting for Red Orchestra 2 (mid September) I'm going back to basics. I've downloaded and started Panzer Corps from Matrix Games and was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia. I played the crap out of the Close Comat series so this one should be fun!

I'm also, finally, able to buy and play Total War Shogun 2. I have been waiting so long for this one I'm almost afraid to buy it! After buying and installing my new video card, my computer upgrades are now complete. World of Tanks, on medium settings, has gone from 14 FPS to 60 FPS....Yes, I agree. That's bloody fantastic. What this means is I can now play Shogun 2. Get in!

No soup for you! I mean, music.... not able to post a video at the moment, so just sing a song in your head.... I recommend the 'It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday......' song that went viral on You Tube not so long ago..... If you get it in your head, you'll never be the same again. You've been warned.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quoting You.

Couldn't have said it better myself.........which is why I'm quoting this instead of posting it myself, I guess...

"All of this boils down to my recent detachment from the MMOs that I cherished and played for so long, because the choices I made had only personal rewards and the larger impact remained to be seen. At the moment, none of the MMO’s installed on my machine pique my curiosity. When playing them, regardless of the choice I make, the game isn’t fun, because I simply don’t care about the impact. Because the fact of the fact of the matter is, I love playing MMOS, I just hate what I have available to play right now." Bronte.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

15 v. 15 Has Got To Go...and Other Musings On WoT

My near-daily (nerd) rage "exit game" button mashing is reaching a fevered state in World of Tanks.

Okay, honestly. All joking aside- without malice or cruel intent- who are these people who rush off en-mass and leave entire flanks open? It's so disheartening to watch 12 or so of your team rush off to get held up by some cleverly placed TD's, and a single heavy, while the rest of the enemy rolls up your undefended flank, mashes your arty, slams into your 'main force' from behind and wins the match. I can see it coming within a few seconds of the start and my heart sinks every time.

I really don't understand why people don't learn (I'm talking about Tiers 7+ here), but what I do understand is that it is absolutely, without a doubt, killing the joy and excitement I once had for this game. Together with the matchmaking algorithm that I am convinced is written to ensure you lose 50% of your battles (I'll save that topic for another day) I am finding I can only log in for a few battles each night.

And it's a shame because this is a great game with a unique setting.

The 15 v. 15 arena battles, which are not only the heart of WoT, but all that's on offer (don't get me started again on Clan Wars), are frustrating for anyone who wants to do well, or who is experienced enough to know a few basic tactics for each map. Even in a platoon of guys, (as one of my Clan mates used to say) it's still a 3 vs. 27 battle. I realize that new game modes are promised, (and I am rapidly reaching the point where I will have to stop playing and wait for them) but most of them seem to be based around the 15 v. 15 format. The Super Platoons (3 squads of 5 vs. 3 squads of 5) appear to be the most promising and I almost weep with joy imagining how great it will be.

Even if they deliver other promised features such as choosing your tier spread, or different objectives within the game, it still will be 15 v. 15 and this is going to remain a problem. Where did this format come from? In a random battle depending on 14 of your fellow gamers to understand, communicate, and implement tactics is a little hopeful at best. Where are the 6, 9, or even 12 man teams? A platoon, or even a few tankers in a match who know what they are doing, and perform well, could make a real difference in a 9-man match. There is nothing worse than suddenly realizing that, although you and a couple guys beside you have played your guts out, your base is being taken, or your team has been annihilated. How many matches have you been in where you have 4+ kills (which means, for the statistically inclined that you eliminate 26% of the opposing force singlehandedly) and find yourself alone....waiting for the enemy to cap or kill you?

Yes I do realize that WoT is a casual game with a lot of different tankers logging in to have some fun. I do not begrudge anyone this, and I am not 'hating' on newbies. Part of the problem, I realize, is me. I am competitive in PVP games, and strive to learn and do better. It's less about beating others, and more about pushing myself , but the end result is that I get frustrated in random matches where I lose 50% of the time no matter how well (or poorly for that matter) I do. I also realize that the game is more enjoyable with a Clan and I am currently without.

I know that there are a number of ways I could improve the fun that I have in-game. This isn't meant to be an "I hate WoT" rant. I am hoping to open a constructive dialogue about the game mechanics. I mostly see "This tank sucks!" or "When is this tank coming?" or "This game is great because..." posts on the 'Gameplay discussion' area of the forum. I guess in the end, the forums will attract the two extremes of players. I am curious though as to what other people are experiencing.

  1. Are you feeling frustrated by the game mechanics?
  2. Do you think Wargaming.net is focusing too much on grabbing some fast cash and not enough on actual game-play improvments?
  3. Where do you see WoT in 6-months?

As for me I really need to find a clan, but who wants an oft-annoyed tanker who is on the verge of rage-quitting in their ranks? I know I certainly wouldn't.

/sighs.....how long until Red Orchestra 2?

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Greatest Show I Never Saw #1: Daft Punk


During my life there have been few things that I have truly, truly regretted. I'm not talking about the 'oh god, did I say that at the pub last night' kind of regrets that are quickly forgotten, and aren't very important in the grand scheme of things. Real regrets. Things that, years later, you look back on and think...... if only.

There are moments in our entertainment-related lives that live on in our memories. Movie's that move us, books that we love, games that we've played, concerts we've seen. I had the chance in 2006 to go and see Daft Punk play Marley Garden in Dublin (if you're a fan of Daft Punk, hold on, this is going to hurt) and I decided not to go. I can't even remember what ridiculous reason I had but it was, in fairness, inexcusable.

A group of good friends were planning to go, and they tried to get me to come up for it. We decided that we wouldn't attend and instead travelled to Kilarney for a weekend get-away. My mates even phoned us a few hours prior to say they had tickets waiting for us.....there had been some confusion and they though we were on our way.

When the great time machine is invented, this is one of the significant and truly great wrongs in my life that I shall make right.

If you've ever been on a great night out you'll know that they can be quite good, and from the reports that came back from my friends it was absolutely epic. It was one of the greatest shows they had ever seen and the post-party went on for two days. And I missed it. Not being there has turned me into a bigger Daft Punk fan than ever, and I have sworn that I will see them before I die.

I hope that I would get to see them sooner, rather than later, because who wants a wrinkly old man, off his face, reaching for the lasers at any show? Come to think of it, if it takes that long Daft Punk would be almost as old, so to hell with it, I'm going! They will have the advantage, of course, of hiding their old weathered faces behind those helmet visors but oh well.

After years of wishing I had gone, and futile attempts at finding some footage I finally got lucky and managed to find a 30-minute clip of this show a year or so ago. The very one I missed. God Bless the lad who recorded this for although every time I watch it I am filled with regret, I am grateful to have the footage to view. Thank you my unknown Irish friend.

In a salute to Fridays, Daft Punk, all good times in general I leave you with: Daft Punk, 2006, Marley Park, Dublin, Ireland with a huge apology to She Who Will Be Named Later for not taking that trip. At least you can take comfort from knowing that it absolutely pissed it down for the last hour of the show. But then again, would we have cared?




Thursday, August 18, 2011

When China Rules the World We Will Be Gameless....

....apparently, according to this about the recent London riots (from the Guardian, but stolen from here):

Because the Chinese, of course, aren't known for their violence or societal dissatisfaction.

Or at least they will cut out all the violent ones, I guess. Doubt that they will rule the world? Last I heard they pretty much owned America with the U.S. being in debt to them by several Trillion dollars. That will be one heck of a re-possession wont it? I wonder what they'll take first? Air Force One? The White House? The New York Yankees? If I was the U.S. I'd try to bluff and unload the Phoenix Coyotes on them. You could throw in Bateman as well as revenge for all those useless 'Made in China' things that break too easily.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quoting You!

This one from KIASA....always making me smile when I need it most:

Splungthrust: Tales of Flimbonia – Perhaps the greatest MMO of all time, it had everything that MMO players wanted. Huge sandbox elements seamlessly merged with theme park areas for the perfect questing experience. A genre-busting world design, which incorporated fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance, and the wild west. An incredibly expansive player housing system. Intricate crafting that produced powerful customisable items. Twenty races. Fifty classes. Perfectly balanced meaningful PvP. Complex NPC AI that created exciting and challenging escort quests. Over seven years of unique content through three hundred character levels, with zero grind. A world which would permanently change based on the players’ actions. An active combat system that allowed for tactical or twitch game-play based on player preference. A detailed character customisation model allowing for intricate body specifications, such as left toe tendon length and eyebrow hair population density. In short, it was a utopia of MMO design. Unfortunately during beta testing the players complained that mailboxes were painted blue when clearly they should be red; the developers didn’t listen, and so nobody played the game upon its release.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Memory Of Elvis

Thirty-four years ago today I walked into the living room of my childhood home and found my mother crying. I remember asking: "Why are you crying mommy?" and she replied: "Elvis is dead".

I don't remember a time without Elvis. I grew up with his voice, his music, and his presence from the day that I was born. We had all of his records (even the movie soundtracks) and today when I hear Elvis, or think of him, it just seems......like home. I'm not alone in 'loving Elvis'. He was the worlds first musical superstar and when you look back on the footage of him in concert and see how people adored him you begin to understand. He was almost divine- not someone to be listened to, but someone to be worshiped. There is no one alive, or dead, (musically) who has been as influential as Elvis Presley.

My relationship with Elvis is a very emotional one as I have a lot of child-hood memories wrapped up in his music. Some of those memories are good, and some are not so good. Nowadays Sunday is generally Elvis day, and one of those many records (which I still have) gets played and the sound of our voices can be heard throughout the house. Thankfully the dogs like it and have decided that it isn't howl-worthy.

I was explaining to She Who Will Be Named Later last night that Elvis, for me, is more than a pop-icon, or an artist who I like. For me, it isn't about fandom. I went to Graceland and the end of the tour, when we filed past his grave, I didn't take any pictures. I remember thinking it was odd that there were so many tourists there. I felt like they were intruding on my moment with his memory. I doubt that I am alone in thinking of him in this way. For me, the word 'Elvis' represents so much. It's like the word 'Mom' or 'Dad'. We understand what it means, and who it refers to, but it is more than that: It is feeling, emotion, and memory all rolled in to one. So it is, for me, with Elvis.

I don't usually pay attention to anniversary's but my mom reminded me that this was the anniversary of his death so I've been thinking about it over the last few days. I wanted to post an Elvis song but it's just so hard choosing. I think, if I could have met any 'Elvis' I would have spent some time with 'Fat Elvis'. His voice was truly something at the end and I think that is when he could have used a friend the most. I don't think of him as a fat, out of shape, drug-addicted star at the end of his life. I think of him as a man who gave so much to the world and lived his life in a bubble. That was his sacrifice: he never had the opportunity to live a normal life, and though we moan and complain about our daily trivialities it truly is a blessing to live the way we choose. 

Anyway, back to choosing a song. There isn't any point trying to pick 'my favorite' because I like so many of them for many different reasons. I will simply leave you with one that I like because, in the end, words are all that I have, and they don't seem nearly enough to explain his influence in my life.









Monday, August 15, 2011

Obligatory Nothings Happening Post

I've finally succumbed to the 'bleh', or should I say 'meh' virus that seems to be invading the blog-osphere. I'm still playing World Of Tanks like my life depended on it, but not with the enthusiasm I once had. The lack of a clan forces me into random matches which can get a bit boring, etc, etc, etc....or should I say, blah, blah, blah as you've read this all before.

It doesn't help that all the next big things: Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars The New Cash Cow, appeals to me about as much as the old iodine-soaked, splintery wooden spoon in the eye trick. Can you tell I'm in a bad mood?

In any case I have finally ordered the last remaining part for my do-it-yourself computer upgrade (new video card) so the world will soon be my oyster......... I am most looking forward to finally being able to play Shogun: Total War as I am a long-time fan of the series and am in need of some single-player solace at the moment. Red Orchestra 2 has also caught my attention and I'll be buying/playing it from release.

In a brilliant move that reminds me of the (many) reasons I married, She Who Will Be Named Later suggested we turn the spare room in the basement into a games room and, hold on for this one, suggested we get an Xbox 360 to put in it. O.M.G. Nice one brutha!

I managed to get a free tele off the bulletin board at work (I've been tele-free for many years) and the transformation has begun. She's even dug out all my old childhood/teen/twenty-something books (which my mom finally got me to take) and mementos and began putting them on shelves. It's a little weird, I have to say, walking into that room and seeing, my child-hood teddy bear (an elephant named Ellie.....I lacked imagination as a kid it seems), hockey trophies from 1979, my collection of R.A. Salvator TSR novels, and my university books all on one shelf. It's like an episode of "This is your life!" all mushed into one.

I think I would be remiss, at this point, if I didn't fill out and submit the nomination for wife of the year award. I knew she was cool, but this is cool plus some...it's like AAA cool. Most of it might be a ploy so she can play the newest Tomb Raider game (the only series which I've seen her get addicted to) but no matter. I'm getting what every grown man wants, and every teenager takes for granted.... a room in the basement with an Xbox. Get in!

Until we can actually afford an Xbox I have set up the old Playstation 2 (the third one I've owned due to two international moves and the whole non-compatibility issue which makes me bitter and angry) and found some old games to load up. I'll be looking for a golf game which She and I play together although we both loathe golf in real life. I'm guessing I could pick up a copy of any Tiger Woods golf game for pretty cheap due to the whole "We thought you were great but as it turns out you're actually a (flawed) human who's going to burn in hell for your sins so we no longer want you representing our products" scandal.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Greatest Show I Never Saw #2: Dizzee Rascal

It was during another Friday night waiting for a bus to take me (this time) from Gorey, Co. Wexford home to Waterford when my mate (waiting for a bus in the opposite direction) said he was off to Dublin to see Dizzee Rascal.



I have to admit to my ignorance at the time and confess my response was:

"Who?"

Damn. If only I'd known. I mean it's not like he, oh I don't know...... invented a complete genre of music or anything. No, wait, yes he did. Double damn.



Grime was, arguably, brought to the world's attention by Dizzee, and now that I am familiar with him, and his music I sure wish I had seen him perform in a small club in Dublin that summer. He has now changed his sound to be a bit more...ummm....shall we say, accessible, and is playing to large crowds at festivals like Scotland's T In The Park. I was a bit sickened to read the wiki entry which states:

Best known for his number-one hits "Dance wiv Me", "Bonkers", "Holiday", "Dirtee Disco" & "Shout

It's always upsetting when a groundbreaking artist is 'best known' for the most recent hits he has managed to produce. His current stuff is quite different from his early work, but I don't blame him one bit. How many years can you push the boundaries, develop new sounds, and stay underground before you look at asshats like Jay-Z, no-talent posers like The Black Eyed Peas, and ex-convict idiots like Pimp-C and C-Murder, and think:

Fuck it, I want to cash in on this shit.

The answer is, apparently, 7 years. Dizzee was 16 when he started recording (according to said Evil Wiki entry) and I am sure that his youth, passion, and talent kept him true to his sound for some time. His most recent album is more accessible and he is presenting it in a....well, I'm just going to say it here and political correctness be damned....more white-friendly manner. His use of a rock-band and the re-working of his older stuff live to make it more appealing to "rock fans" (one of his early hits, Stand Up Tall is set to Nirvana's Teen Spirit) and/or those perhaps more comfortable with "mainstream" radio than underground Grime. Just look at the BBC footage (or any recent You-Tube live videos) from last years T In The Park and if you can find one face that's not white in that crowd I'll buy you a cookie.

I don't begrudge him this and I think it's a smart business move. Cash in, my man, cash in. His newest work is still solid, if a bit toned down (some of the bass lines will still make your guts twist, and your dog cower in fear, however), and I really like it. A good artists deserves to get paid, and Dizzee is among the best. I wish I had seen him 5 years ago when I had the chance and today didn't have to tell you he was the 2nd Greatest Show I Never Saw.

Here's some Dizzee for you- new and old, and Happy Friday everyone!

 In the beginning....





My introduction to Dizzee was this song:






Bonus cookie for any non-Londoner who can understand everything he says first time around! You have to admit the man has flow. My mate said he spoke so fast you couldn't even see his mouth moving- even in the front row.



And check out the sea of white faces diggin' Dizzee's new stuff in this. I really do like the fact he uses the original artist that featured with him on the disk (the large Black ladies, not the skinny white dudes) as his back-up and doesn't gloss them up with skinnier models lip syncing....you know some artists do it.


One more of his newer 'hits' with a baseline that will curl your toes. Commercially appealing but good none-the-less. The bass hits at 1:00.





Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Birthday World Of Tanks

My goodness, they grow up so fast! World of Tanks is celebrating it's 1st birthday this weekend and are tantalizing us with the promise of treats. Despite the problems, complaints, and general groaning that goes on I think Wargaming.net is doing a good job and there is no doubting they have a hit on their hands. 5 million registered users is a huge income-generating potential especially considering the amount that some are spending.

I've currently pumped $150.00 into the game since release and I've seen forum posts on the subject with $600.00 being the most I've seen someone admit to. Wowsers.

I noted this from Overlord's response to a question regarding numbers:

Q: Can you please tell us the average population on the different servers (peak simultaneous players a day)?
A: Peaks are as follows:
RU - 173k
EU - 41k
US - 17k
This would, if true, explain why the Russian players are being catered to, but I stress IF TRUE. I've seen a few translations of Russian forums lately which would suggest that there are a number of Russian players who feel that German tanks are over-powered and that Russian tanks are being nerfed. It might all come down to perspective, or the fact that those people posting about the nerfing/overpowering issues are of a certain type........ bascially I'm saying they may be whiners who are prone to complaining no matter what.

I think the numbers are very interesting indeed. I would personally like to see the US and EU servers merged for a number of reasons:

  1. I like playing with EU players.
  2. More people are always better in a multi-player game.

In any case, Happy Birthday World of Tanks! My play time has dropped off over the last couple days as I struggle with discouraging results in random battles on my own, but I will definitely take advantage of the weekend celebration and log in for some serious tanking! See you on the battlefield.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grind Moar, or Welcome to the Endgame

I couldn't help but take a look at my leaving thread to see what people had to say. It's only natural. You don't put something out there on a forum, or blog, without hoping that people will read it, think about what you've said, and perhaps give some feedback. Anyone who says they post for themselves is a liar- that's what diaries are for. We are all attention whores here in cyberspace!

It won't be a gigantic revelation when I say there seems to be two schools of thought regarding MMO endgames. The endgame, which seems to be a mandatory element in any game nowadays, provides something for people to reach for- a goal to be attained. This system of rewards is built into many games and follows the same format all the way through. You are rewarded for completing tasks, and given gear and other shiny trinkets in small amounts until you finally reach that worthy goal and can join the exalted many in the land where dreams come true.... the endgame. Then, by god, you have made it. You are one of the ascended and the good times can begin.....or can they?

I have long been an outspoken critic of the endgame in that it creates a system of exclusionism, and elitism and takes away from the overall enjoyment of the game itself. Why rush through the 'game' just to get to the 'endgame'? The current format of most games follows this cookie-cutter build and the marketing and psychology behind it is fairly obvious.

People like rewards. Rewards keep us interested, and motivated, and in a game-setting that means we spend cash. It isn't very different from gambling and I won't be surprised when they eventually come out with the studies that show gaming "addiction" and/or people who play for extended periods of time (like me) show simlar behavioral and psychological makeup of gambling addicts. I actually love gambling and it's one of the reasons I don't go to casino's. Failing in an online MMO battle is one thing... losing at blackjack with real cash quite another (or so She Who Will Be Named Later insists).

Whew! That kind of hurt my brain for some reason.....

In any case, I was pleased to see that in general the response to my leaving was a healty debate on the state of the clan and where WoT specifially is at the moment. It was apparent that a couple people completely missed the point, but that's okay. Not everyone knows me, and written communication is hard on two fronts: what we wish to say doesn't always come out clearly, and when we read our understanding of the meaning is filtered through our own interpretative process. There were one or two who seemed to think it was a lack of general activity (due to summer holidays and such) that made me unhappy wheras what I said was:

"...the clan no longer resembles that which I joined and the community spirit and feeling that once was, for me, is no more."
And:
"The "looking for platoon" channel became a barren wasteland as everyone hid away in their own divisional channels (initially created for clan-wars communication) which became virtual club-houses that imposed an intimidating barrier to socializing."

It was not that there was a lack of activity- it was where the activity was taking place (in secret club houses) and, yes, the 'type' of activity. One comment that my leaving was a "failure to find a group that matched my goals" was completely right. I'm certainly going to miss you Pskov and not just because you're Canadian! Pskov has retired from tanks and can be found most days puffing on his pipe in the Shire in Lord of The Rings Online......hmmmmmm, that may have come out wrong but I'm sure you get my meaning.

Back to the point: the way in which players see the endgame and how it should be approached falls into two general categories.

Those who approve of, and enjoy the system:
"'Grinding' is something we all have to do and experience comes with not only being on the winning side but also on the losing side as well. It takes a lot of time and commitment to reach the higher tiers and those who have got there and are still with the clan have done so through their own hard work. It's not impossible to do but it takes time,some people a bit longer than others, myself included. When you do finally roll out in your top tier tank ,whatever it may be, you'll know that you have earned your place amongst them and they'll respect you for it. Like life itself..'nobody said it would be easy' and only you can decide which road you take. Me, well I'm getting my head down cos I don't want just 'one' I want to get a few of those high tier tanks and I'll grind away till 2012 if that's what it takes to join those guys at the top."
And those who do not:
"CW's in WoT= End Game Raiding in the a-typical theme park MMO.

That's the analogy I've been looking at ever since the WoT CW's revolving door started to spin.

End game (I really despise the term tbh) stuff that requires that you must be "this tall" to ride, and has a carrot to chase has always seemed to be a recipe for unhappiness for a lot of people. There is a reason I quit playing main stream MMO's, because they've all become cookie-cutters with the same M.O= Level up, raid for gear. It's a recipe for drama and high turnover within guilds/clans that participate in the system."

I couldn't come up with a better way to illustrate my point if I tried! The two posts illustrate that some people see the end-game as a worthy goal worth working toward , and others see it as an exclusionary device that creates unahppiness. What's to be done? How do you please everyone, and is it even possible?

I keep coming back to this time, and time again: Guild Wars. In terms of MMO's I feel that GW struck a decent balance. The PVE 'end-game' could be attained once you reached maximum level (20) and consisted of doing the same thing over again (genearlly) only this time it was harder and there were better rewards (similar to Diablo II). The game itself followed a story line with instanced missions which cut down on the 'gather 10 rancid garter belts from virgin Troll brides during the lunar eclipse on Devil's Moutain' quests which make me want to cry (and the reason I hate pve in its current form).

In Guild Wars PVP was easy in that you could just roll a pvp-only character at max level with max gear and get to it. In this way the pvp was balanced: everyone had the same chance and it was tactics, teamwork, and skill that made the difference. They also offered a variety of battles in which random matches were only one.

World of Tanks has no pve content, and you could argue that clan wars- which uses only top-tiered tanks which have identical gear (generally)- levels the playing field and thus the tactics, and skills of the players do make the difference. WoT's greatest failing at the moment is that it only offers, as an alternative to this end-game, 15 v 15 random matches which, at times, make me want to gouge my eye out with a splintered, wooden spoon soaked in iodine.

I'm going to leave off here for now and return to this subject in another post (WoT, not gouging my eye out).

So while I have your attention (and I must if you're reading this!) I'd like to ask what you think of the end-game formula that most games are using? Is it fun? Do you rush the level cap, or take your time?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quoting You!

I decided to make this a regular feature of my blog because there are a lot of things I see in my daily blog-reads that make me smile. It's also loads easier than writing my own post so get in!

Rather than 'quote of the week', or 'quote of the day'- which Syp may have copyrighted for all I know- I'm going with Quoting You! It seems more catchy, more aggressive... hey, it could be YOU, and isn't that what every established blogger wants, a new blogger with a readership of around 30 giving them more exposure by recycling their own words? Of course they do! Huzzah!

So from  Klepsacovic at Troll Racials are Overpowered (I hope your ISP can handle the massive influx of 5 new readers to your sight) comes:

"I can't quite see why anyone would play EVE when real accounting is so much more lucrative."

Amen brother, Amen.

Monday, August 8, 2011

On Leaving My Clan

When I joined my clan six months ago I was pretty excited- well as excited as I can get about socializing with people (this makes sense if you know me and my grouchy ways). It was the first time I joined a multi-gaming community and I was hopeful that it would be a long-term home for my social-gaming. I bought into the vision of the leader: War-games come and go, but the community remains.

There was a lot of upheaval in the clan when Clan Wars (beta) launched. I've discussed my feelings about the mechanics of this 'end-game' elsewhere so I won't repeat myself. There was a lot of drama, and a lot of change. The clan was growing fast and the leadership and structure simply wasn't in place to deal with it. Coupled with a game-mechanic that isn't player friendly, it was a recipe for disaster.

Because of the size of the clan (300+) and the 100-player limitation imposed by WoT the clan fragmented into three divisions and a fourth for recruits. Clan wars participation means you have to have the clans 'tag' to participate so although we were one clan (in theory) there were four sub-divisions within it and it meant we couldn't play clan wars together. But that shouldn't have been a problem because we are all free to platoon up or participate in Company Battles with anyone. With up to 100 people on teamspeak each night finding people to group up with shouldn't be a problem, should it?

No, it shouldn't.

The segregation within our clan, initially imposed on us by WoT, became ingrained and, dare I say it, institutionalized. The "looking for platoon" channel became a barren wasteland as everyone hid away in their own divisional channels (initially created for clan-wars communication) which became virtual club-houses that imposed an intimidating barrier to socializing. 

In the beginning the entire clan would platoon up, run company battles, and do count-downs which saw up to a dozen of us fighting in the same battle- often on opposing sides. It was a lot of fun and a practice which died out (for the most part) some time ago.

Clan wars killed that. The leaders we had in place burned out and move on, quit, or were removed, and as the ranks depleted, new members were recruited to take their place. I sat in on almost every Saturday meeting and listed to the leadership tell us that it was the community that mattered, and that when WoT was dead an gone we would all be a happy family deploying to a new game. A better game. A game where we could group up and kick some butt together!

And yet the members continue to leave. Most of the founding members have stopped playing WoT and have withdrawn from the daily (social) activity of the clan. They are rarely seen, or heard, in the general channels, and it's a shame. It was their vision, their leadership, their humor, and the enjoyment of their company that made the clan what it was.Their push to make the clan something bigger than a group of WoT players is being undone by the fact that everyone they promote into leadership positions is involved in, and focused on clan wars.

I'm not going to hide the fact that I am slightly bitter that guys who roll in with top-tiered tanks and a focus on clan-wars get made officers (our clan adopted a military hierarchy) while those of us who have been around longer, with a focus on other aspects of WoT (and other games in general) get ignored. Where is the community I was promised, that would extend beyond WoT, and specifically, beyond clan wars?

Ahh well, there's no use crying- no one likes a whiner.

So what is it I want? A clan in WoT that doesn't do clan wars? Maybe. What I want is the same thing I've always wanted: to have fun playing games. To chat, to use tactics, to train, and yes, to win. I want to log in, group up, and hit the battlefield! Lately I was logging in playing alone which I am more than capable of doing without a clan. My frustration was growing and when I looked at the roster and saw that everyone I had played with in the early days had either gone, or quit WoT I decided it was time to move on. I was listed as the 9th person to have joined so I guess I was a bit of an old timer.

The sad part (and you can get out the tiny violins here) is that I doubt anyone will notice, or care. Well, okay, that's not entirely true as I'll be posting a 'good-bye' piece on the forum so someone will notice. A single person (or in this case, several persons) leaving doesn't affect the whole all that much- we aren't the Borg Collective here- but it would have been nice to know that I was leaving behind some guys who would think:

"Hey, where's Gank tonight...haven't seen him in a while."

After six months with any group, it's the least you could hope for, isn't it? Maybe I've been spoiled by great guilds from the past- all from Guild Wars incidentally- where people had fun and when they left they were missed- genuinely missed (No Goats No Glory (GOAT) where are you now?). In any case, the pity party is over. My clan and me were not well suited and so I have moved on. I will fly solo for awhile, nurse my (virtual) social wounds, and then find a new group. The gaming will, nay, must go on!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Greatest Show I Never Saw #3: Evil Nine


October 31, 2008 would have been a heck of a Halloween bash if I could have made this one. While Evil Nine’s Fabriclive 28 set (a modern electronic masterpiece) could arguably be considered "Japaneesy" (go on, listen to it with a black and white Samurai film on and you’ll see what I mean) this set was in support of their They Live album which is, without a doubt, the embodiment of Halloween.



But it was not to be.

After leaving Ireland we decided to move to Edinburgh. She Who Will Be Named Later has some family there and we both had run out of work during the grim economic times that was affecting the Emerald Isle (a nice way of saying my business went under and she was made redundant). We settled into Musselburgh (basically a sub-burb of Edinburgh) the Friday before the banking crisis hit and the world began its plunge into recession. Twenty thousand jobs were lost in Edinburgh alone in that first week we were there.

The work we had hoped to find simply wasn’t there. I had only one interview in the year or so we were there and didn’t hear back from countless applications. It was so bad that when I saw a dish-washing job at a local restaurant I decided to apply. I’m no stranger to a commercial kitchen, nor am I adverse to wokring hard  for low pay (I've done it plenty). By the time I phoned in, however, the job was gone. It was a real eye-opener and one in a long chain of events that would lead me back home to Canada- with my immigrant bride in tow!

In the meantime, She Who Will Be Named Later managed to get a job for minimum wage at a bookstore (not the best value-for-money use of her Msc. in Human Osteology) and together with a bit of savings we got by.

Barely.

I was roasting a chicken on Sundays and using it in at least 3 meals during the week (yes I was the unemployed House Husband). It’s only been within the last few months that we can bear to look at a chicken risotto again.

When we saw that Evil Nine was coming to the Sugarbeat club we desperately wanted to go. I had their new album (saying it’s good is redundant...it’s Evil Nine) and knew that it would be a great Halloween treat for us. Try as we might, however, we just couldn’t afford a night out. Bus fare, admission, a few drinks....it was simply beyond us. And we were gutted.

I’m not too broken up about it now for several reasons. First, we did manage to scrape together some cash and head out to the Sugarbeat club to see a couple of our favorites: Krafty Kuts, DJ Yoda, and Dynamite MC and quite frankly- the club sucked. The crowd was a aggressive (it was Scotland after all) and we ended up leaving before Krafty’s finale (sorry Krafty, but I have seen you twice before). Secondly, we eventually did get to see Evil Nine at a much better venue and they were fantastic (wait for the ‘The Greatest Shows I Ever Saw’ series for that one).

At the time, however, we felt quite letdown and sorry for ourselves, so a Halloween set by Evil Nine makes the list as one of the greatest shows I didn’t get to see. Happy Friday everyone, and of course, here’s a taste of some Evil and do check them out. They are among the best of the best and are managed by Adam Freeland's Marine Parade label which hosts a wealth of talented individuals. That site has, at the moment, an exclusive re-mix of Daft Punk's music from the Tron soundtrack. Check it out.

One from They Live- and one I should have included with my zombie posts!





 And the intro from Fabrilive 28 (buuuuuuuuuuuuuuyyyyyyyyyy itttttttttttttttttttttt):


01 Where Is It (Evil Nine Remix) by Gankalicious

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Rise of the Double-Headed Blog Post

You know those blog posts that are like....double blog posts?

Yes, rare for me but I wanted to post a comment I made on Overlords blog today regarding the (lack of) balance in WoT. It is, for those unaware, commonly accepted that the Russian tanks are overpowered and the general theory is that they continually nerf the German line because they are....well.....Russian (German Maus recieved a nerf as well as the new E-series soon to be released). Borderline racist, or perhaps ethnocentric, themes aside (ie: assuming the Russian hate the German tanks because they don't like Germans...wait, is that racist to say.....anyway, who cares), the German tanks play like crap. They need more crew, take more experience to grind, and are historically innacurate. There is no 'fear of the Tiger' in the game- trust me, I play one.

The fact that Russian developers cater to a Russian market- which is their largest customer base- shouldn't be a shock really. I've abandoned the American line and embraced mother Russia and am having a blast. I haven't gotten any better as a player in the last week so I have to assume it's the tanks I'm playing. In any case, here is my comment:


We may need to accept that because of the size of the Russian market the devs may always attempt to keep those players happy. It is, of course, short sighted and the fastest way to stunt their growth as a company but it will likely prove successful in the short term.
I had high hopes for the Tiger and was anxious to play it simply because I was facinated by it as a child. As with most people I've talked with it was very dissapointing. So too has my brief time with American mediums been dissapointing.
The bottom line is that no company will please everyone all the time. The biggest problems come when the company forgets why they began and what they are about.
You can focus on a good product and let the quality of what you offer shine through and attract more people, or you can cater to a specific group and end up with only them supporting you.
WoT offers something that no other game currently has- and I enjoy it. Long-term problems (including player retention) will see a significant contraction in their world-wide market- boosed by World Of Planes (likely)- but they will make money. Their business model is sound: I have never seen a game take in such large amounts of cash by individual players.
The bottom line for the devs is their bottom line. I am sure they care about this game and want to see it balanced and fun but at the end fo the day they have to chase the money and if that means leaving the National tank-choice of their biggest customer(s) over powered I am sure they will.
Pity.

Souls of the Unborn Paper Towels

Don't even ask why I googled this, but I did a search for absorbed twins and was perusing the results (yes I was terribly bored) and found what could be, on so many levels, the funniest thing, ever, on Yahoo Answers:

Q: Where do souls of absorbed twins go?

in biology, sometimes two fetuses may exist, but one is "consumed" by the other, naturally. where does that soul go? how can that unborn child without conscious awareness of god enjoy god?

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

It's locked up between the quilted layers of Bounty Extra Absorbant Paper Towels.


Who knew?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

So It Turns Out I’m A Bit Of An Ass


Not a great shock for those who know me I’m sure, but as it turns out I can be a bit of an ass. The whole 'Gankalicious' persona may have been a clue. My only saving grace is that I know it and I (sometimes) control it. Not so the other day in World Of Tanks.

Feeling Sheepish


I’ve been doing a lot of solo-playing in WoT lately and without Clan-mates to assist in winning, and to commiserate in losing, I have been getting quite frustrated. Yes, yes, I know that a smarter man would take a break, or perhaps just shrug it all off, but that man is not me. I finally lost it during a match with my Tiger II (which has itself been frustrating the crap out of me too as I struggle to learn to play it).

The match started quite badly and got considerably worse. It was one of those ones where everyone rushes one way and leaves both the base (and our precious arty) and the other flank completely open. I relocated to cover that open flank and somehow we ended up wiping their invading force and pushing forward with 5 tanks. A cheeky Pershing (T 8 medium) made life a living hell for us and by the time it was all over only he and I remained. There was a lot of chat going on but I hadn’t been reading. I had 3 kills that game (an amazing stat for me in that tank) so I was too busy to pay attention to it. The few glances I took suggested there was some, shall we say, discord amongst the team.

I had just climbed up a hill to finish off an enemy arty and had noticed him at the base of the hill- presumably getting ready to dance circles around me like he had the other heavies previously. I took a second to gather my wits, and retreated up the hill. I did note he was very low on health so I was going to push down, swing out, and blast him. I had plenty of time. There was seven minutes left.

And then it started.

My team-mates. Heckling, questioning, ordering. Telling me what to do.

“OMG, don’t wait.”
“Go get him!”
“He’s almost dead.”
“Only pussies wait.”
Etc, etc.

If you don’t know this yet one of the things I hate most in the world is being told what to do. Loathe it. It was one of the main reasons I started my own business. Couldn’t face being told what to do on a daily basis by my inferiors, er I mean bosses. I should have ignored them all and continued on with my plan. Instead I threw a tantrum worthy of a two-year old denied a lollie.

I stayed put. Didn’t move. Waited for the abuse to die down and then fueled the fire by informing them all that if they had kept their big mouths shut they could’ve had a win instead of a draw.


Not my finest hour. I don’t mind that I irritated the idiots who were flaming me, but there were at least 10 people in that match (okay, possibly 5) who deserved a win- myself included. The match ended with a draw because the Pershing was stuck on some terrain and couldn’t come after me (he was begging for death out of boredom- not being privy to our conversation) and I made my way to the flag too late to cap.

My clan prides itself on fair play and no trash talk so I also tarnished their name with that little escapade. I shall await their judgement.

I sometimes wish I had more patience for other people or at least the ability to turn off the general chat during matches because, lets face it, more patience is not likely to come at this late age I’m taking solace in the fact that at least I care that I was an ass. That’s the significant difference between me and a lot of the asshats out there.... or so I hope.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quoting You! Because I'm Lazy.

"RIFT had a pretty awesome forum community until about the point when the beta weekends started, and then the forums became a poisoned morass where logic and sanity dare not to tread." Syp, Bio Break

It's funny because it's true and its not exlusive to Rift.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Born To Do It

Thanks to the decree of the Canadian Government I have today off. Thanks to the generous compensation package offered by the Overseers at the Assembly Line I also took Friday off and snuck off with She Who Will Be Named Later for a weekend break at our old stomping grounds. I also popped in to see my Mum who, after 23 years has now finally managed to unload all of the stuff I had stored in her basement. She yelled and did a happy dance in her now empty basement.



I got it all- everything from my first teddy bear (named, of course, Teddy) to my childhood books (OMG, it's Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, and, quite frankly, I agree: I too, will not eat Green Eggs and Ham). Mmmmm....ham.



It was quite the haul and it was fun looking through the boxes at my old toys. I was quite amused to come across these- saved from what had been a sizable war-toys collection (Mom wasn't that great at saving stuff and bits and pieces were mysteriously 'lost' over the years) which may explain why I chose the particular line of tanks in WoT that I did.




The Tiger

SU-100

Dramatic angle! Rarrrwww.

You know those Tigers that are, like, double Tigers?

The missiles which did shoot, and were carried in the box, are sadly lost

So its seems I was born to play Russian TD's, German Heavies, and Artillery in World of Tanks! I missed the music post on Friday, so I'll feebly attempt to make up for it with a single video (Dub Step again): Born to do it, by Caspa.