Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rule 1: Never Post in a Funk. Rule Broken.

Being in a funk, be it gaming or real-life related is never fun. Trying to come up with interesting posts while in one is even more difficult. Unlike posting while drunk, a funk tends to result in either a bad post or an overly negative one. On the other hand I've posted whilst in funks and have had it work tremendously in turning my mood around. As for how my readers felt about it.....well, who knows!

Maybe it's the time of year (hurry up Spring) but I have been getting that listless, funky feeling most commonly associated with boredom of late. This is usually cyclic with me and though not to the degree of, say, a manic-depressive, I'm sure I'll be bouncing back soon. As a gamer it is sometimes difficult when your game starts to lose its grip on you either temporarilly or permanently. I base my free time around playing games, and spend a great deal of my non-free time thinking about games. It's a good old fashion addiction and one that I am quite content with.

When that glow begins to wear off it's almost like the disssolution of a relationship. Obviously not as emotional, or life-affecting, but when you invest a great deal of time into a game (as MMO'ers often do) when it gets stale, or boring (a natural occurance) you can feel listless. Every day I can't wait to get home and fire up my favorite tank and then, suddenly, there is a diminishment of the joy....a decrease in the fun. It's dissapointing, isn't it? I feel like a little kid moaning: "Now what am I supposed to do?"

I remember my Warhammer 'break up' which was a bitter, bitter affair. Not only was I bored, but I was pissed off. I felt cheated by what could have been. It was almost like I was dumped by Warhammer...well, not dumped I guess. More like I was treated badly and just didn't want the flowers, and the "I'm sorry's" anymore. No, damnit, enough of you, you'll never change! I'm off to the gaming shelter.

This isn't a complaint, per se, against my current gaming-crack (WoT) as I find the thought of any game a bit boring at the moment. 32nd Law mentioned a hard-drive cleaning and though this list may shame me with the sheer gluttony of it, here is what I currently have loaded (but am not necessarily playing) in my computer:


World of Tanks (NA and EU clients)
Wurm Online (Not updated in ages)
Red Orchestra 2 (Still not properly played)
Guild Wars (never going back, but still there)
Ryzom (not played in about a year)


Civilization 5
LA Noire
Shogun II: Total War
Tropico III
Jaged Alliance: Back in Action (demo)
Real Warfare 2: Northern Crusades
Mount and Blade: Warband
Crusader Kings II
Cities XL 2012
King Arthur II (demo)
X3 Terran Conflict
Fate of the World
Heats of Iron III
Panzer Corps
Arma II (demo)
Dead Space
Stronghold III (as bad as they say it is, that's why its last)

There is, then, no shortage of things to keep me amused but you know how it is when you get into a funk...nothing is satisfying. Ah well, that's why God invented box sets and while I don't have a television, I don't mind watching good t.v. so I've pulled out an old friend to keep me company until my gaming mojo is back: The Wire. I was watching this one long before it became cool to do so, (and yes, I am quite proud of that) and there is also Band Of Brothers if I find the urge to see something WWII related. I'm also, for some strange reason, enjoying watching World Of Tanks videos on You Tube even though the game itself is a bit dull....... oh, the fickle ways of a gamers mind. It has given me some ideas for my own videos which might be an interesting diversion until the test-server is up!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quoting You!

Again with the 'great minds think alike' theme, this is something that I've been considering for a while, but was beaten to the punch by one of my regular reads, The 32nd Law.

"I also sort of wonder if the MMO genre is just something I’ve gotten over. The idea of having a persistent character in a virtual world was really cool to me, but as I go through them I realize how mundane these virtual worlds are and frankly find most of them less interesting than what I can get by walking out of my front door. And I don’t live somewhere all that interesting."
As my 'MMO' time is now regulated to World of Tanks which isn't, really, an MMO in the traditional sense I can really relate to this, and like 32nd Law, it's something I want to post on later......this time I hope to beat him to the punch!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday's Tune: Sans Electronica

If you read my blog regularly (and who doesn't) you wouldn't be faulted for thinking that all I listen to, or have ever listened to, is electronic-focused music. I do talk about it a lot, and most of my music posts are of the DJ-based genre.

Having grown up in an isolate, rural setting, and then traveled over a good part of the globe I (of course) have been exposed to a lot of different types of music and listen to a wide variety of genres. There is a picture of me, at 17, which I keep safely guarded and hidden away  that may show me with a mullet and a leather jacket........ ahem, let's move on.

Today is a quiet kind of day and I thought I'd post a nice, soft song by the great Irish artist David Kitt.

And while we're on the subject of Irish artists I couldn't pass up the opportunity to post Thin Lizzy's Whiskey in the Jar which I listen to at least once a week which is considerably less often than I think about drinking Irish Whiskey!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fortuitous Friday: If I Had A Hundred Dollars

My apologies, first of all, for what was (probably) an excruciating week for you, with no posts from me, to read. I'm not sure how you muddled through, but I'm glad you did. I was struck down with The Dreaded Lurgy, which is to say I had a vicious head/sinus cold and wasn't in the mood for posting. So, on to the post!

While not the usual 'What would you do with a million dollars' question that people often banter around with sometimes shocking answers from people you thought you knew (usually 'oral' favors from long-term, same-sex friends being agreed to for such a sum) today's question is a bit more realistic:

What would you do with a hundred dollars?

Note I said, with, not for. I don't want to be shocked (and potentially appalled) by what you'd do for a hundred dollars. The thing is, you see, I found a hundred dollars hiding in one of my Secret International Accounts and have secreted it away to a long-dormant pay-pal account right under the nose of She Who Will Be Named Later. Mwuahahahahahaha!

This is free money, as far as I'm concerned- ignoring the fact that today is our Wedding Anniversary and I should likely be using it to buy her a frilly frock or a box of candy or some such- I am in quandary of what to do with it. Given the impending doom arrival of New Mouth To Feed this might actually be the last time I get to selfishly spend such a sum (barring the fact that I am too selfish to actually stop spending money selfishly and I have a few more quid secreted away in that same account that I can potentially access.......but I digress.....).

My first two thoughts, of course, were games and/or booze. It would be quite easy to spend that money on, say, World Of Tanks, in the form of a $100 gold package purchase but do I really want to spend more money on this game? It is the only MMO I can seem to maintain an interest in so I don't necessarily mind spending the money, but yet it is, essentially, a free game (that I've already spent over $350.00 on). In terms of non MMO-games, well, there are a few small indie games I'd like to support-like the recently released Dear Esther- but that only amounts to $10.00 (a ridiculously good deal).

As for the larger, AAA titles, I have 'heard' that it is 'possible' to 'try' these games for free via Iso-cough-hunt so I have a problem shelling out over 50 bucks for these games as none of them seem to keep my attention for very long. I recently downloaded the demo (yes, the real demo from the actual web site) of the new Jagged Alliance offering and played for around 20 seconds. It was just long enough to find out they fucked up the whole thing by removing the turn-based system that made it great. Had I pre-purchased this pile of crap I'd have been one disappointed customer.

As far as booze goes I have had my eye on a replacement bottle of Midleton Rare Irish Whisky which comes in slightly over the $100 mark ($175 locally). I say 'replacement' because I bought one when I left Ireland and have managed, somehow, to make it last all this time (shocking to all who know me). Problems getting the money from my Pay Pal account, and the fact I have secretly planned on buying one anyway to celebrate the birth of New Mouth To Feed makes this a bit pointless really (so much for the end of selfishness I guess).

So, back to the point. To keep this games focused, then, how would you spend One Hundred Gaming Dollars? What games would you subscribe to/purchase if you had a $100 burning a hole in your paypal pocket?

And Happy Friday Everyone!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fortuitous Friday: Hysterical Retractions

Well this week sees me penning a retraction to last weeks post. Not exactly a retraction, but a clarification, really. I was informed by She Who Will Be Named Later that my post, in which I say I'm being told not to swear because New Mouth To Feed can now hear, makes her sound 'hysterical'. Barring the fact that asking your significant other's virtual personality to retract something you say makes you look hysterical, actually makes you look hysterical, I shall do as I am asked.

To clarify, then, it's not so much the fact that I am using the occasional swear word that she objects to (which would, in fact, make her seem a bit hysterical) it is when I put my mouth to her burgeoning belly and yell at the baby that she is finding unwelcome and somewhat intrusive. Fair enough, I guess, but my counter-argument is that the world is a scary, busy place and the sooner she gets used to the idea that some people are just jerks- the better.

Speaking of jerks, I had a few more run-ins over the week with online asshats and it really brings home the fact that I hate people. Really. Hate them. It's a sad commentary when I could easily make a weekly post on some uncomfortable encounter with an online jerk but would struggle to do a monthly one on a postive one. Hmmmmm...maybe that's what I should do- if I ever again have a positive encounter with a random online stranger.... and not one on those encounters in a flashy pop-up with a half-naked woman asking me if I want to talk....oh, no, I'm not falling for that again. She didn't just want to talk, let me tell you. Now where was I? Oh yes, merging my apology to my wife and unborn child with online porn...hmmm...I may need some professional help.

The point is, I don't really have a point. It's been a bit of a tough week at the old Flour Mill and I've found myself acting like a bit of a zombie shuffling to and fro with some mindless gaming in-between. I've so far managed to avoid eating any brains, but that may change depending on how today goes. In any case the weekend is upon us, and merely saying that makes me smile because it always reminds me of that iconic scene in Human Traffic.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WoT Alternatives III

There are two final things I'd like to suggest for World Of Tanks. They aren't so much 'alternatives' as additions really.

The first is Faction Rewards. This feature could be free, but lets face it, its a FTP game that has to generate income so they could charge a fee (in gold) for monthly, or permanent access to Faction Rewards. For every, say, 1000 battles you play for the faction you have chosen (paid) for you get some perks. New tank skins with historical unit markings, new garage skins, new voices (Russian for Russian, German for German, etc), access to unique tanks, and most importantly: cash rewards. 5% off your repair bill  paid for by the faction seems fair. The rewards/perks could increase over time to a set maximum. For the title junkies you could be granted titles (shown on screen with your name....I like the sound of Comrade Gank....), medals could be awarded, leader boards set up, etc. There is a lot of room to expand the game with this and new game modes featuring faction vs. faction could be implemented similar to company battles.

Second is Choose Your Own Premium Tank. Similar to the old Choose Your Own Adventure book series of my youth this is where you can designate your own tank to be premium. I can't even take the credit for this idea as Overlord put out the feelers for this back in November on his blog. His suggestion was to limit it to tiers 1-8 and have the premium status purchasable for a few hours. This is self-explanatory and something I was very excited about. It would allow the player to choose their favorite tank and earn some credits, or at least with the Tier VIII ones, not lose any (as tier VIII seems to be the start of the credit-squeeze in game). I would love to see this implemented- perhaps even with a permanent option- and would happily pay to have my KV-13, and IS-3 'premiumed'. It would also stop the sort of fiasco we saw with the T-59 in which large numbers of them roam across the maps devastating everything in their path. If it was a reasonably priced feature I'd use it quite a bit.

What I've tried to do over the last few days is look at some ways in which WoT could be a bit more player friendly. As I said this is colored by my view on how games should be played. I don't like grinding and it's one of the main reasons I've given up on a lot of traditional MMO's. I enjoyed Wurm Online, for instance, and would still be playing if it wasn't for the grind. I want to play the game, not work the mechanics of it. In Wurm, for instance, I'd like to have built a stone house on top of a hill I had terraformed on my settlement. In order to do that I would have had to increase my skill to 30. This meant some form of 'grind' by 'practicing' the skill. In reality it meant clicking the mouse multiple times until the skill increased. Then I'd have to stand in front of a rock wall in an underground mine pressing M for mine until I had around 500 rocks. Then I'd have to do another series of clicks to turn the rocks into bricks. Then the same for mortar......then I'd have to place 50 bricks per wall until the house was complete. None of that seemed like much fun to me.

Word of Tanks isn't a hard core Sandbox game. It is a fast-paced strategy/shooter set in WWII tanks. I do not think the grind is as bad as Wurm, or any Sandbox game. There are considerations I am not privy too (Wargaming's business needs and costs/profits) and data that I have no access to (on server health, player trends, tank success/failure rates) that impact game balance. Most of what I say is based on my own play experience and style. I get to play a fair amount but not as much as some and so I resent the time it takes to get the upper tier tanks, and then the credit problems that arise when trying to play them. I pay to skip tanks (using free experience), I pay for premium, and I buy premium tanks. Why should I then be restricted from enjoying the top tiers of the game? Online MMO games are designed to keep us playing (hence the grind involved in almost all of them) and I stand by my assertion that this leads to game mechanics that do NOT work in favor of the player. Similar to a casino, the house always wins.

It's a subtle difference, but one that is ever-present:

A game designed by a company to keep players playing and paying for their product is fundamentally different from a game designed to be player-friendly which will keep them paying.

I like World of Tanks but I would like to see some improvements that benefit the paying player while not alienating the free guys/gals at the same time. I do not want pay-to-win, but when I pay I want the barriers to my fun to be removed. It's as simple as that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WoT Alternatives Part II

I was asked yesterday about gold ammo and its use in 'pay to win' and realized I hadn't a clue about the in-game use of it. I assumed because it was expensive and I hadn't really encountered it that it wasn't a big dea. I started a poll on the EU forums to check which you can view here. So far 80% of people report NEVER using gold round in public battles. Interesting indeed.

My various ranting on the alternatives to WoT's pricing model continues today with a couple ideas that I think would work. At the very least they'd make me happy which is really all that counts, isn't it?

Two of the questions I hope to answer today, as posed by Stormtrail, are:

1) If we're not talking about traditional subscription models, how would you tune the pricing structure? i.e. are you tuning this so that anyone can log-in with a premium account, contribute nothing to a battle, and make a sustainable credit/exp income so that they can research/buy whatever they want with minimal involvement?

2) Is there some level of "progress" that you expect or would prefer to see for premium members?

My biggest gripe with the game is that it holds players back from enjoying the game on their own terms. I hate grinding through certain tanks just to get to one I'm interested in. It serves absolutely no purpose as far as I'm concerned. Does playing 150 games in my IS-3 really make me a better IS-4 player? The answer, unfortunately (based on my play) is no. I think playing lots of games, in general, will make me a better player. It has been pointed out to me that the current WoT model serves to keep the lower tiers happy and full and ensuring players don't rush off to the top tiers as soon as they can. This may be true but I think there are other ways to achieve this.

As luck would have it, this is the first image that appears on a Google search for IS4. Not what I had planned, but oh well.

Many FTP or Free to Try games limit the content until you pay. World of Tanks can be played free throughout without limitations- in theory. It's not easy, but it is possible. WoT's game design puts a credit  squeeze on you as a player. This squeeze lessens if you purchase a premium account. The problem is that it is still limiting as even with a premium account, and a good performance in a match, you can still lose credits. This forces you into buying a premium tank, or using the (generally) profitable Tier 5 tanks to earn credits to 'fund' the higher tier tanks.

In case you don't play WoT, to put this in perspective, a Tier 5 tank can earn you up to 20k (on average) with a win. A Tier X heavy tank costs 6 million credits to buy and can lose 20k per battle even with a win. A good premium tank (like the T59) earned me an average of 35k per game. I think it would be fair to say that for every 2 battles in your shiny Tier X tank you'll have to play 3 in your rusty Tier V to keep afloat with cash.

What if WoT's higher tiers were only accessible to paying customers? What would the actual impact on the game be? The lower tiers would still be full with free players, and paying customers could play how they want. In this scenario, of course, profit would still have to be based on performance in battle (to prevent botting and such) but it could mean, simply, that the worst you will ever do, with a win, is to break even. Cuts out the potential for botting, doesn't award laziness or bad play, and most importantly, doesn't punish the paying player who does pretty good in a high tier match. Simliar to yesterday's idea, this could be a 'downloadable content' pack for the upper tiers (9-10) or a monthly fee (a sub if you will). The rest of the game could stay free.

The Maus. Someday, baby, someday...... Skin photo from here.

This ties into one of my other ideas: A Two Tier Premium System. I think that dropping the monthly cost of a premium acccount to 6-8 dolars (from around 9-10) may result in more sales. You could then offer a Super Premium for $15 for all those high rollers like myself who just want to play and don't have the time to grind for credits or experience. You could add an extra 25% (or whatever) on top of the regular premium for experience and credits. This would make playing at the higher tiers bearable. Would it result in piles of cash for these Super Premium users? Maybe, but so what? Every credit I've earned, I've then spent on other tanks. It doesn't make me better, nor does it give me an advantage in-game. Once you've bought your tanks and modules the tank is as good as it can get. You can't transfer, or sell your in-game credits so the potential for abuse in the real world is nill.

In game credits does not equal real-life money.

These two suggestions are, of course, colored by my view of the game which is based on how I play. I realize that this may not be how everyone plays. I like my top tier tanks well enough, but I have plenty of lower-tier tanks I enjoy. Most of my activity takes place in the Tier 4-8 range even when I'm paying for premium. I offer these suggestions, then, thinking that not everyone would rush to the high tiers if they were more affordable or if they could buy their way there. I could very well be wrong but the reality is we'll never know- unless of course, decides to implement these ideas with a nice commission towards yours truly!

Tomorrow I'll chuck out some more ideas about game tweaks/pricing models I'd like to see including Faction Loyalty Rewards and Choose Your Own Premium Tank.

Monday, February 13, 2012

WoT: What's The Alternative to Free To Play?

A question put to me last week has laid the foundation for this weeks blog posts. It is relatively easy to say "I don't like this" but not so easy to come up with interesting, viable alternatives to those dislikes. I've done a lot of talking about the Free To Play mode in World of Tanks and how I feel it is motivated by profit which ultimately hurts the players.

I will again say, for the record, that I have no problem with the company making money off their product. I have, and continue to put money into WoT with few regrets. I just wish it was slightly different or that more options existed and this week I will be answering some questions posed by Stormtrail who is also a fan of World of Tanks, and not afraid to call me on some of the crap I spew here :)

1) What pricing model would you prefer?

This is the question, isn't it? If I don't like what's on offer then what would I propose? I think free to play is a good idea because it gets players through the door. WoT is a player-vs-player game only. There is nothing else on offer so it is dependent on a sizable player population. Paying players don't care if the players they play with, and against, are paying or free. We just want them there. No players means no fun.

If the game was a traditional pay-to-play with a fee for the box I dread to think what the daily numbers would be, especially on the North American server where populations are very low compared to the EU and Russia. This could only hurt the game and with so many games starting in the 'traditional' pay-to-play mode and quickly dropping it to keep players (RIFT, Star Trek) it is apparent that this is the way to go for gaming success and/or survival.

There are a number of alternatives (additions really) to the current WoT pricing model I would be in favor of.

Downloadable Content

Lets face it- anything in the game can be bought (except, at the moment, wins as I maintain WoT is not ammo aside). Many players (Stormtrail included) are grinding away on the US line in anticipation of the changes which will give additional tanks, slots, and in this case, a premium tank (normally premium tanks can only be bought with real money in the form of gold so this is like a 'freebie'). I on the other hand am considering converting some of my 550,000 free experience to unlock the entire US heavy tree, buy the T34, and wait for it to go premium. I could also then skip the rest of my IS4 grind and unlock the IS7........... It would be costly, however, as I've not unlocked a lot of US heavies (I figure $80) so it isn't likely I'll do it even though there is some debate on weather or not the tank will actually be for sale in the store later. (I'd rather just drop $30 on it if it turns out to be good to be honest).

My point is that I can buy any tank I like with free experience, so why not have downloadable content for cash? The content, in this case, would be tanks. I could buy the "IS7 package" or the "Russian Heavy Package" which would save me the time of playing through some tanks I don't like (sorry everyone I don't like the IS4 yet even though that makes me a freak because its THE BEST TANK EVER, or so I'm told). I'm also dying to try the Maus, but who has the time to grind through all those other tanks (many that I'm not remotely interested in playing). The option is already there in the form of 'free experience' so why hide the fact I can buy tanks? In fact, it would save me the time of buying gold, then converting the free experience, and then unlocking the tank, and then buying the tank, and.... you get the idea.

Additional money making ideas (if you use any of these WoT, my fee is free gold for life and/or a moderator position) could include downloadable content in the form of cool skins, decals for your tank, garages, etc. People love that, and most of its available in game anyway.

One of the potential arguments is that if this were available people could jump into top-end tanks immediately and cause havok in the game with their 'noobness'. So what? Lots of top-tier players aren't very good and currently anyone can buy a Lowe and grind out the free experience and convert it to buy the top tank they want. Another problem is that the lower tiers may become ghost towns as 'everyone' plays the top tiers. I personally don't think this would happen as the top tier tanks are too expensive to use exclusively even with a premium account. This is another one of my pet-peeves which which leads me into some of my other ideas for pricing/gaming alternatives which I'll talk about this week. Among them are:

  1. Extra Premium- a two-tier pricing model for premium accounts.
  2. Faction Rewards/Faction Battles- allegiance to the country of your choice yields perks and rewards.

I will also be revisiting the credit system which is a common complaint on the forums and in chat. This is an essential component of the game and one that I think they've got wrong. I've argued this point before, but I don't think any customer should be limited in their game-play options once they've paid. It's bad business and one that I know is pretty pervasive in the MMO community (seen in the 'grind' players are put through to reach a goal). It turns the 'grind' into the focal point of the game, and the game-objectives into a side show.... but more on all this tomorrow!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fortuitous Friday. Dogs Pwn Babies

After my Christmas lamentations on the failing of human kind towards the furry companions we've spent thousands of years domesticating (only so we could abuse them it seems) I decided to put my money where my mouth was. Literally, and figuratively. In addition to my Christmas donation to the shelter I also decided to do a used pet-food/toy/blanket drive at the Ammunition Plant. Long story short- I'm off delivering the proceeds of said goods to the SPCA..... less (more than a) few mouthfuls my own pets decided they would appropriate from said needy animals. Selfish bastards.

My shelter of choice, locally, is about an hours drive away so I decided to make a day of it and bring them the stuff which has been piling up since Christmas. By the time you read this then, I'll already be gone. Though that sounds like the opening to a suicide note, it's actually a good thing. My day off, that is to say, not suicide. Unless you're in a lot of pain or really, really bored, then it may be okay. As long as it's legal in your country because I can't do a prison bit for encouraging suicide. I'm quite simply too pretty for prison and I have a terrible allergy to shower-rape. It makes me break out in a rash.

Nooooooo! I thought the chocolate was freeeeeee.

After the pet-supply drop-off I've got an afternoon 'date' with She Who Will Be Named Later. I'll be taking her to a salt-pool where she can frolic in the water which is, I'm assuming, mostly shark-free. The great benefit of the salt-pool, I'm told, is that there is no chlorine which, apparently, is harder on your eyes than salt. I'm not convinced but I'm not a great aficionado of pools, oceans, or lakes, so what do I know? I don't even like baths to be honest- which isn't to say my personal hygiene is poor, but rather that I enjoy showers a lot more. Something about sitting in a luke-warm tub filled with your own filth that doesn't appeal, but I have all sorts of funny phobias so maybe it's just me.

As for swimming, well, I grew up fairly land-locked. Thanks to the plethora of lakes in Saskatchewan (and no shortage of people willing to throw you in them) I did learn to swim, but not very well. I'm quite content to splash about but swimming lengths in a public pool seems like it could be a court-induced punishment for misdeeds up to and including minor assaults. On the plus side the pool isn't really public- they don't just let any jerk in so it is extremely likely we'll be the only two there. Or three, if you include the as-yet unborn New Mouth To Feed.

What can I say? It's no one I know, but the picture sure fit the blog post. The original caption on the photo indicates 'Note to any local social workers: no babies were thrown into any lakes during the taking of these pictures'. All I can say is: PROOF OR IT HAPPENED. I also like the qualifier 'local' suggesting social workers from afar who may have concerns can get stuffed!

New Mouth To Feed is, apparently, hitting the time when she will be growing like mad. I was also informed that her eyes are now open, and that she can hear what is being said by those around her. This is now the reason, apparently, I am subjected to 'suggestions' that I should 'stop swearing' and 'quit saying stupid things about the baby' but my counterargument is both sound, and (I'm sure) backed up by scientific facts: she is, quite simply, too stupid to know what I'm saying. Hmmm... that sounds a bit harsh, doesn't it? Well, technically it's true, and quantitatively our dogs are smarter than she is right now.

Hard to believe this could be smarter than anything really.

I suppose I could humour her by saying: "Yes, dear, I understand your very valid concerns, but the baby's development hasn't yet allowed her to understand that I am using curse words, or that I have expressed my opinion that she may be a pain in the buttocks one day." And, between you and I good reader, until she's at least able to 'Fetch Soccer', 'Go To Bed', and 'Find Ball' all on her own, the dogs will remain the intellectual champions of all things under 3' high in my house. I'm also betting they will all struggle to put the same stupid, dirty things from the bathroom garbage can in their mouths for at least three years so the fact I use the word 'fuck' while she's in the womb doesn't seem like a big deal.

I assume New Mouth To Feed's current watery environs are chlorine free, but what about salt? It is an exclusive pool as well, and she's got the place to herself. Except, of course, for all the organs floating about she's got to dodge- or not as she seems to press against lungs, bladder, and ribs (not an internal organ, I know but it is inside) with regularity. I felt her moving about for the first time a few weeks ago, and though I was tempted to hit her back (just to show her who's boss) I was informed by She Who Will Be Named Later (who seems intent on foiling all my evil plans) that that wouldn't be appropriate and may lead to divorce and/or jail time, and as we discussed, above, I can't go back to prison.

In case you haven't worked this one out I am woefully unprepared mentally, and emotionally for the upcoming 'event'. I've still got a couple months but my application for a further 20-week extension was turned down by both She Who Will Be Named Later, and our poxy Midwife. It seems the 'due date' is non-negotiable and no matter how much foot stamping, whining, crying, and begging I do, it is rather fixed in stone (sort of). That means my days of sitting drunkenly on the computer blasting noobs with various tanks is coming to an end. At the very least it will be restricted and/or curtailed as those around me keep claiming that being drunk whilst caring for a newborn is 'abusive' and 'immoral'. I mean, come on, crack-whores are allowed to keep their kids and I can't even chuck on a pair of headphones, guzzle a bottle of Scotch, and hope the dogs learn how to comfort and change the baby all on their own? It's Political Correctness Gone Mad I say!

Dogs, like people, are much cuter when they are babies. Except for supermodels. They're cuter now.

I'm fairly confident I can work 'Change Baby' into the dogs repetoire, or at the very least their conflicts with the baby over the booty in the bathroom bin will keep them all amused at least long enough to get a couple of battles in. I've also been informed (by more than a few people now) that leaving the baby sans diaper knowing the dogs would 'take care' of any mess is 'gross', 'sick' and 'probably illegal'. I am confident, however, that the extra free time it would give me may offset any future costs of New Mouth To Feed's therapy regarding the whole 'I was raised by dogs' thing she may cling to, or why she bursts into tears every time a dog tries to lick her. I've read lots of stories about children raised by dogs and they all seem to have turned out okay, didn't they? Well, in fairness, I never really read any of those to the end to check, but I'm sure it'll be fine. What could go wrong?

Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When Idiots Attack

Just because I can, really, I decided to post this little gem of a conversation I had with a random Jackass on World of Tanks. Thats the thing about a blog, you're allowed to post all sorts of stuff. This player has really good stats, but a really shitty attitude. I've seen his clan (FORGE) in many battles and thought, up till now, they had a good reputation. They might still, for all I know, but this is one jerk they should cut from their roster.

Calling his team 'fuckmuppets' and yelling abuse because we lost is one thing, but suggesting you have the ability to interfere with a players account and/or private messages with is dumb. I know he's just a loudmouth idiot- likely a child (mentally at least) but as I've said on previous occasions.... I'm trolled easily.

Looking back I should have drawn this out and made sure it was funnier, but it was at the end of a session and I was tired.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Trying Out The 'Free' in FTP World Of Tanks

In my last World of Tanks post I stated that I was dropping my premium account. Besides the excitment of 'slumming it' (much like the time I took the train to Livingston, Scotland, just for the craic and almost ended up buying real crack) I was protesting's blatant cash grabs. I was also frustrated with the game's payment model which I felt held me back from truly enjoying the game on my own terms. I felt as though was holding my fun hostage.

So I needed a break- I'd free myself from the shackles of the grind. I bought and/or maxed out every tank I was interested in and dropped the premium. I was free! FREE! The result?

I learned two things from playing with a standard (free account):

1. I didn't like it.
2. You can still Rock in America.

Okay, that isnt' actually true. Not #2 as I'm sure you can still rock in America- or at least you could the last time I lived there in 2003. It's not that I didn't like playing World of Tanks anymore, it's just that I felt like my play options were restricted and you could argue rightfully so. If you're playing for free the company has to create incentives for you to pay. It's a simple matter of economic survival.

In any case I did play for free for a couple weeks, and I did have fun. I focused on the lower tiers with a few high-tier battles thrown in. These higher tier battles were few, however, as the credits lost when you lose (and often with a win) was too much to take. I used my T-59 Premium tanks to make up the losses but it started to feel like a game of accounting instead of a pvp game about tanks. I started to feel somewhat frustrated that I couldn't just play my IS-4, or my E50 whenever I wanted, without worry. I felt like I was missing out.

At the end of January announced a week long special with a lot of tier 5 tanks, and all equipment half off. Note that this involved in-game money, not real money or gold. I felt that this was a good special, unlike a few of the previous ones, and decided to put my money where my mouth was, and 'reward them' for taking the community's wishes into account (well, at least the NA community as the EU community got a shitty, gold-focused special at that time which enraged them to no end ). I put $30 dollars worth of gold into my account to expand my garage so I could buy some of these half-priced tanks. I had wanted to try a few of them for a while. My garage now holds 35 tanks....and its full!

I also thought that I would 're-sub' so I could play my dusty high-tier tanks, train some crews for the new tanks quicker, and re-stock my dwindling supply of silver (as premium earns more credits per match). I have to say that I am a bit disappointed with my re-sub. Part of that is my fault. It's not a big deal- it's $10 bucks- so I'm not stressing. I'm glad I spent the money overall, but I can't help but come back to my original point in that the pricing model is problematic and that it will hurt the player base (and eventually the game) in the long run. I don't want to be overly negative (lest I get hit with a Hammer) but the same thoughts and feelings keep coming up every time I play my higher tier tanks and few of them are positive.

Here's my point. I was playing the game for free because it's fun and I enjoy it. Score one for the developers. I ran in to some roadblocks in the enjoyment of the 'end game' or felt I was unable to progress without spending some money. Score two for the developers. I bought a premium account and played my high tier tanks, but it did not result in any more fun. Score one for no-one. This doesn't make me happy, so I'm not the winner here. It means I'm less likely to pay again which doesn't make the developer happy. It's a lose-lose.

The problem, overall, is that the higher tier tanks aren't any more fun than the lower tier tanks and they are financially (in terms of in-game currency) not feasible. There are entire threads about 'how to play for free' and use high tier tanks, but what's the point? I've played several games in my IS-4, and E50, with premium, where I lose credits. Other than 'wanting to try' some of the high tier tanks, and the 'my gun is bigger than your gun' e-peen motivation why would I continue to stress about high tier tanks while paying to play them?

The answer, ultimately, is I won't. This doesn't mean I won't pay again, but the premium model, as it stands, doesn't suit me. I drive the IS-4 because it's big, it's heavy, and I feel powerful when I play it. I can drive the Tier II 'Mini-Maus' or the Tier V KV and have the same experience with more kills and no worries about cash. Incentive to sub= none.

I will continue to play (and subject you to posts about it) and will, on occasion pay. I like a lot of the low-tier, cheap ($5) premium tanks and enjoy playing a variety of them so I will 'collect' them as I go. I will also, on occasion, use free experience (which costs real money) to unlock tanks and equipment. I know I will continue to feel the urge to play higher tier tanks and the fact that I can't do so, on my own terms, even while paying is a major failing of the game in my opinion. has got a lot of things right, don't get me wrong. 5300 battles in 600+ hours (over two weeks my WoT dossier tool tells me) of game-play surely proves this. My future posts, then, will focus on the game itself (tanks, maps and perhaps strategies) as I think I've made my point (ad naseum) about the pricing model and until something changes....well, it'll stay the same, wont it?

Monday, February 6, 2012

What The Dog Ate.. .Part II

I'm feeling less-than-motivated to post about games, so I am just going to update the 'Master List' of things my dog has eaten with two recent additions (while I eat my non-cooled lunch and contemplate putting the warm milk- that may have gone off- in my tea....see #25).

In the future I may be able to save time by converting the list to 'what the dog hasn't eaten', or 'what the dog won't eat'. So far it would contain: grapes. He won't eat grapes. Everything else seems to taste just fine.

1. A plastic bag.
2. A dead pigeon (swallowed whole, with feathers) off the road.
3. The same dead pigeon, off the same road, seconds after he regurgitated it.
4. An entire raw pheasant meant for Christmas dinner.
5. One pound of butter, foil included.
6. Ibid, separate occasion.
7. Own faeces following consumption of butter, above.
8. Butter and most of a plastic container, separate occasion.
9. Human faeces encountered in woods on walk (thank you Travellers).
10. Ibid, different woods.
11. 7kg bag dog food (partial).
12. Mouldy loaves of bread thrown on beach for gulls.
13. Perfectly good loaves of bread taken from counter.
14. Human vomit, sidewalk outside pub.
15. Bird food, fallen from feeder in yard.
16. Cat food, unguarded, while visiting family.
17. Mouldy bones in yard buried by previous dog the summer before.
18. 15kg bag, dog food (partial).
19. Plastic lid (partial) off garbage can.
20. Chicken carcass (entire) from garbage can, above.
21. Christmas Cake (documented here).
22. 48 Jaffa Cakes.
23. Half Bar, JD Grossman 46% Chocolate.
24. Plastic Tub of Tropical Fish Food.
25. Lunch Bag/Cooler (Straps and Zipper).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quoting You! Great Minds....

I was thinking on the way into the Chocolate Factory this morning about an argument I had with a dumbass in World of Tanks last night. Not really an argument per se, but a.... well, a thing. He started insulting everyone (because we're all 'fuckmuppets' apparently) and I took objection. He went a step further and opened a private chat with me and continued- even though I told him I was screen shotting it- to mouth off and offer up various threats to hack my account, etc.

I was pondering, then, when I'd have the time to send it on to customer support, post on his Clan's web-site, and how I could best use it, here on my blog (for general amusement, of course), when I read this from Adam at the Noisy Rogue:

I have recently become bored with arguing with people on the internet; it’s akin to masturbating with a cheese grater – slightly interesting, but mostly painful.
Indeed, I couldn't agree more, and then, as if that isn't funny enough, he comes up with this, about a new game he (and through excited infection now me) is very excited about:

However, today Goblinworks have their new blog post up and is very interesting indeed. How interesting? Well, let’s just say that if this game doesn’t get made I’ll probably do nasty things to small furry animals.

Eve with swords, huh? Sign me up!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Because I Never Tire of Being Right

I got a nice email from the folks responsible for Rome Rising: Gods and Heroes telling me they were going Free to Play, and that they were looking forward to making this a great game that people wanted to play. If you ask me thats what they should've done in the first place.....

In any case, I did say that trying to charge for the game in todays market (never mind the fact the game wasn't very good when I tried it) was a mistake. My exact words, to save you the time of reading the old post were:

I also note they are going for pay-to-play in a very saturated market- another brave move.
Huzzah! I do so like being right. Oh, the game is free to play, as long as you pay $10 for the game. Then its free to play ;)