Saturday, September 29, 2012

Prison Architect: Hows the Kool-Aid Tasting?

Yea, you read right: Prison Architect. Wow. Where to begin? I guess with a proper introduction instead of the verbal equivalent of me standing before you mouth agape. The Prison Architect alpha funding campaign was recently announced by Introversion Software. They're the indie folks who did, among others, DEFCON. I have a few thoughts about this game. First is the price point which is $30 (the minimum amount accepted) and will get you into the alpha as well as the final copy when it's finally released.

I've stated elsewhere on my blog that $15 is about the most I'd be willing to pay to fund an alpha. These games aren't complete yet and though I like to fund indie developers anything over that just seems like too much in today's market. So right off the start I'm a bit annoyed, and then I do some reading and come across an interview with the dev stating they purposely made it a bit pricey to limit the amount of folks who would be participating in, and helping to direct, the game's development. This strikes me as a bit....uh...pretentious. After a bit more digging I found that the forum is a secretive affair where you need a pass (ie have funded the game and are in the alpha) to even look at it.

Insert expletive here. Okay, now I feel better- let's continue.

What the hell does the amount of disposable income have to do with someone's ability to contribute meaningfully to the development of a game? In fact, if you think about it, the people who are willing to fork over a higher amount of cash are the last people you'd want feedback from. These guys are so sold on the idea of the game they are willing to jump in head first. Can they be counted on to test, and properly critique the game for a mass market? If you're answer is yes, then all I can say is 'Hows that Kool-Aid taste?' I would venture to say that anyone with that amount of cash to 'donate' is likely someone who's never actually set foot inside of a prison and, again, the least likely to make any meaningful contributions to the game.

And speaking of the masses and their Kool-Aid drinking ways it seems like I may be very, very wrong about all this. Before I could even get this post up, Prison Architect sold 1,000 copies in 36 hours and raised $100,000. H-o-l-y S-h-i-i-i-t. That means the average sucker customer donated $100. If you're a stat-monkey like I am it breaks down in a bit more detail like this:
They say over a 1000 copies were sold, so let's go with 1100. We will assume all the limited top tier donations sold (5 at $5000, 20 at $500, and 100 at $250. That comes to $40,000 and leaves 900 people forking over $60,000 at about $66 each. For an alpha. Of a game set in one of the most desperate, dirty, god-forsaken, horrible places imaginable populated by violent narcissists, mental health cases, and sexual predators. And that's just the staff- we still have the inmates to consider.

Moving away from that for a second I guess I should say I really like the idea of this game (I know, hard to tell from that introduction). It is a fortress-management type game (like Dwarf Fortress or Gnomoria) where the idea is that the enemy is always in your base. You keep getting more and more inmates which you have to guard, feed, house, and take care of. Eventually a boiling point will be reached and the fort will explode. It is a fatalistic game in that the devs want you to lose- it's built in. This is a common idea with a lot of game types (rogue-like I believe is famous for this and the recent Faster Than Light also kills you quick but at least it's reasonably priced at $9). I like this game because I'll play any old management game to give it a go, and I am not easily put off by 'dark subject matter'.

The opening tutorial claims to deal with 'dark subject matter' in that you have to build an electric chair to execute a double-murderer sentenced to death. It is a way of introducing you to the UI and there are artistic 'Polaroids' that are used to cover the back-story in the cut scenes. The story, of course, is morally ambiguous and designed to get you to think. It is, I'm sure for many, a tug of war as you prepare the chamber and see the story of the convicted murderer who you are charged with killing: he caught his wife cheating, you see, and killed her and her lover. Ahh, how sweet. A real dilemma that will have people divided between those that see him as human and can understand his crime of passion, and those who think that murder is always wrong and inexcusable. Oh, and because you can't hear my tone as I write this, I am being sarcastic about the 'real dilemma' bit.

Why am I being sarcastic? For that you'll have to come back for Part II where I take a look at this game in a bit more detail and discuss the mechanics, game-play, and the inherent problems with the game's design (yes, keeping in mind it's Alpha and things may change). Oh, and if you're thinking I drank the Kool Aid you're wrong. I grabbed a copy off one of the dead guys on the floor to take a look as I don't have an extra $66 bucks to throw away.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fortuitous (Fishy) Friday: All About Aquariums

I don't post much about my fish because this is a gaming blog, not a fish blog. I do, however, talk about whatever the heck I like on Fridays so today is fish-centric. Today I am posting pictures to show the very talented artist who made my aquarium centerpieces how I have used them. I found him on Etsy and loved his work.

I worked as a Mayan Archaeologist for several years in Central America and of all the re-creations I've ever seen, his are absolutely the best. They are the first  Mayan artifact recreations I have ever purchased because most of the ones I have seen are cheap looking and not very representative of the real thing. The Parrot Tile that I bought (which he made especially for me after finding out I wanted it for my aquarium) is an authentic recreation of a Mayan glyph. The Mezcala fetishes pre-date the Maya and I know little about them. I did do a bit of research on the fetishes and they too are a spot-on recreation.

For the fishy-types in the crowd it is a 70-gallon tropical with both a canister filter and a hang-on-the back. I use Catappa leaves to create the yellow-ish look and a mix of bamboo (live and cane) to create the left-hand 'shore' area. The rocks to the right are river cobbles and Hawaiian slate. I have 6 Clown Loaches, 4 Yo-Yo Loaches, 3 Red-Eyed Tetras (7 more to follow), an Angelfish, a Blue Acara (or a giant Bolivian Ram- I'm not actually sure), and a Sailfin Pleco. I tried to re-create a river bank with the bank to the left and the 'deep end' on the right. I have two air-stones, a circulation pump, and both filters emptying out here to create a pretty good current while the 'shore' is quite calm.

The decorations Michael made are concrete and perfectly aquarium safe. I ran the aquarium prior to adding the fish to be extra sure and now, in total, they have been in for 8 weeks with no effect on my water chemistry. Thank you very much for these- they are fantastic and I think they look absolutely wonderful in my aquarium!

Happy Friday Everyone!

The tank is just under 4 feet long

These are the Mezcala Fetishes

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

World of Tanks Physics Goes Live

Yes the much awaited physics patch is here and there was much rejoicing. Well, I'm sure there will be some rejoicing. Even after all the ballyhoo I'm not that fussed. I played only a handful of matches on the test server and was impressed with the graphics, but hated the new sounds and tech tree layout. I didn't play enough to comment on the new maps or physics as it will affect the game. I'm still playing the odd match but I've definitely lost that lovin' feeling for the game.

My WoT client is updating as I write this but, as I said, I'm not hyped to log in. I've been managing a match or two every few days but nothing more taxing than that. I've been thinking lately about where Wargaming lost me, exactly, and why. Good 'ole fashion burnout is one factor for sure. I'm just under 8k battles and that is a lot of PUG matches to plow through. I do, however, see people with 20k+ matches so for some there is a definite lasting appeal. I think that along the way shifted their focus to the money, and as a result the game suffered. The 'grind' became the focus of the game because it could generate money. The fun of fighting was lost along the way.

Ultimately I think the lack of any meaningful purpose to game overall is what really killed it for me. Their insistence in adding new tanks and pretending that it was new content was both insulting, and disappointing. The rather obvious ploy of adding new tanks which were slightly overpowered and then nerfing them later (despite having tested them) when the newer (and slightly overpowered) tanks were about to come is also pretty lame.

The game is a lobby-based PVP tactical tank shooter (or at least that's what I call it) so am I expecting too much? Maybe, but as one of my readers once pointed out, as a paying customer should be caring why I have stopped paying. Maybe not me specifically, but others like me. Clan wars didn't offer the casual (or anti-social) gamer like me anything to strive for and once you've played 30 or so tanks they all start to feel a little samey. All that was left was the fun of battle which, with time, is bound to fade- especially in PUGS where the average player was anything but.

What could have saved the game for me? I initially stated that the new game modes would be a breath of fresh air, but after testing them quickly realized they wouldn't. I also suggested faction based war with incentives and bonus' worked in but that will never, ever happen. My point, all these months, is that the game is lacking purpose, and thus, for me, longevity. I suppose I shouldn't complain as I did get well over a year of play out of it. It's just a bit disappointing especially since they are the only tank-game in town and they had done so many things right.

There are other games in the genre that are attempting to provide an over-all goal that I'm looking forward to seeing- namely Heroes and Generals. This is an ambitious FPS offering that sees infantry, tanks, and planes all in the same battle. You choose one of two sides (US or Germany atm) and the war lasts up to six weeks after which time there is a winner and you start it all again (you can then switch sides). Heroes and Generals goes even farther and lets you step away from FPS (if you want) and focus on the strategic side of the war. You can even play via your mobile device while away from home.

You see? It's possible to have a FPS-type game with some sort of over-arching purpose other than the grind to the next tank. WoT has offered nothing significant in terms of end-game content and likely never will. Oh, wait, you say, what about Clan Wars? Come on, really? It's still officially in beta, isn't it, and the game launched over a year ago. It's also extremely restrictive in terms of times, tactics, and tanks fielded and it never ends to the top clans dominate and that's it. They win- forever.

In any case enjoy your flying tanks, and I will see you on the battlefield from time to time!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fortuitous Friday: Where Does The Time Go?

It would appear that babies, in addition to everything else, have the power to open a time-space continuum to steal away whole chunks of your life. That's why I'm making my Friday post on Monday. At least I think it's Monday. Well I know for a fact it's not Friday because that is the only day I pay attention to. Not because I'm working and anxious for the weekend, mind you, but because that's the day our nappy service picks up our dirties and delivers the cleanies. Wait, is 'cleanie' a word and has my life really come down to measuring the passing weeks in terms of diapers? Hmmm.

Do you know what else babies do? They bring families together. Isn't that wonderful? Maybe it is, for you, if you had one of those t.v. families who loved and laughed, and after 30 minutes (22 minus ad breaks) realized some life affirming lesson. For those of us not related to the Cosby's things aren't necessarily so great.

While we're on this topic I have a fun fact for you: If you Google "My mother is crazy" you get 210,000,000 results. Yea, welcome to my weekend. It's times like these I remember a few of the reasons I loved living in Ireland so much. In fact, I can remember 6,000 of them: the miles between here and there. Meh, what can you do? I've got no problem with the actual mental health problems that my mother has, it's just her refusal to do anything to help herself that annoys me. I had really hoped the birth of her first (and likely only) grandchild would provide her with the impetus to make a few changes but alas, it seems like that won't happen.

Ah well an hour of two of Torchlight will help ease the stress.... that and some sleep. Teething baby + visiting mother = tired me.

Happy Friday Monday!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Torchlight II. As Good As They Say

They being all the eager beavers who had review copies and published their reviews early today as the rest of us poor suckers were only just starting to play. As revenge I'm going to use their hard work and just say, yes, they are right. Go read them for more detailed information. Bloody keeners. The Ancient Gaming Noob touched on some great reviews.

I have been playing all afternoon so if you're on your way home from work soon (suckers) you have a great game to look forward to. It is pretty, fun, challenging, and surprising in places. I've had to (gasp) run from combat a few times and I've even died once for pete sake (Torchlight I was notoriously easy) on Veteran mode. It's exactly what I was hoping for and will be my mainstay for the next several weeks as I'm looking forward to leveling and gearing up an Engineer and an Ember Mage. The mage came as a surprise as I usually don't go for magicky types but burning things has never been so much fun (well, okay, the flame-thing in Warhammer Online was pretty darned fun too).

For $20 Torchlight II may be the deal of the year and I think it will cause many to proclaim: "What the hell is (was) Diablo III?"

Well done Runic Games.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Telltale Games: The Walking Dead

Wow. This game is good. I'm not even going to review it as by now, I'm sure, you've seen reviews and have a good idea what it's all about. I am, however, going to tell you that it is good. Very, very good. How good? Very. Or did I say that already? It is very much unlike the television series of which I have watched every episode simply to answer one simple question which I posed every week: Can it really get any worse? The answer, every week without fail was yes. Yes it can. Why I continued to watch this television series (and indeed will continue to watch when the next season is out) is likely rooted in some deep-seated psychological, masochistic need to punish myself. It's a lot like a car accident, or a good stabbing- you just can't look away.

In any case the Walking Dead game, which is currently in episode three of five, is fantastic. I held off on buying it because it didn't look like something I'd enjoy, but after watching a full play-through by Hannah of chapters one to three, and yet another play-through of chapter three, I was hooked. I realised, at that climatic moment in chapter three (we all know what I mean- the one by the side of the road) that I really and truly felt for these characters and I wanted the chance to make my own decisions and see how things would turn out.

I wanted to play like a bit of an jerk to be honest, but once I started I found I was taking in-game decisions seriously and my own personal choices won out (which means that yes, I did play like a jerk sometimes). You really do get pulled into the game, the relationships, and the action and despite seeing almost every major choice available (and hence knowing what was going to happen) I was riveted. I played it all over the course of four nights and I can't wait for the rest of it.

I haven't been so totally wowed by a game in a while, and I can't think of any narrative-driven story-based game I have enjoyed as much- ever. I am often quite critical of television/movie writing and most games don't even measure up to that but The Walking Dead game is both well written, and well acted. The Walking Dead will easily place in my top ten games of all time and considering I've been playing games for over thirty years, that's saying something. Well worth a look.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spring Cleaning III

And here we go again with some more games I've cleaned from my hard-drive, never again to be revisited! Now if only I could stop adding to my collection while I'm doing this....

21. Dear Esther

Played it, liked it, but it's NOT a game. It's a stylized, visual short story.

22. Endless Space

Played a test copy of this (thanks guys) but didn't find it very compelling for a variety of reasons.

23. Fate of The World

Picked this card-game type offering a while ago and never really gave it a lot of time. Who has time to save the world anyway?

24. King Arthur II (demo)

Yet another demo of a game which I dismissed almost immediately but forgot to delete.

25. Rift

The great Rift fiasco is finally erased from my hardrive.

26. LA Noire

This was a fun game and I liked it a lot despite the terrible, almost unforgivable fact that it was painfully obvious from the very start who the baddie was. This made interrogating and jailing innocent people a bit of a chore for me and took away a lot of the enjoyment of the game.

27. Tropico 4 (Demo)

Didn't see a single thing in this demo that wasn't in Tropico 3, which I've already played past the point of wanting to do it again.

28. Tropico 3

Really liked this game and played it to death.

29. UFO Alien Invasion

Well worth a look, especially if you are eagerly awaiting the new X-Com and want something for free to tide you over.

30. Wurm Online

Alas, my beloved Wurm. I played this game for hundreds of hours and enjoyed it a lot. I can't bear the thought of going back to see all my hard work decayed and in ruin. So long beloved Venerable Horse, I'm glad you had a good virtual life.

31. X3 Terran Conflict

I never even made it out of the tutorial. I simply went off space games and never even gave this one a fair chance.

32. Red Orchestra II

Yea, simply not going back to this one as the amount of fun I've had in the brief time I've played it can be measured by...well, nothing since I never had any.

So after 32 deleted games, and three posts I'm sure you're quite sick of this and hoping I'm finally done. Unfortunately this is not to be so as I've got a few caverns in my hard-drive to explore, so we'll see you next time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spring Cleaning Part II

This is getting embarrassing. I'm trolling through two hardrives now and finding games I've long ago forgot I even had. I opened up the dreaded 'Program Files' folder to find even more so the idea of doing this alphabetically is out the window. The first part is here, in case you're wondering why it's starting with #9.

9. Dead Space 2

I forgot I had this and can't remember much about it. I seem to recall being unable to kill the first boss so I gave up. It took more time uninstalling than I played it for due to some poxy authentication required to remove it from my own computer. That's some epic DRM bullshit.

10. Dawntide

This looked like a nice, indy crafting-focused sandbox MMO but they pulled the plug awhile ago due to lack of funds. Perhaps with Kickstarter we'll eventually see a revival.

11. Darkfall

This one was hiding in my Program Files folder. I liked it but the grind is a bit stupid really and I would argue it's not much of a sandbox if you're required to grind so you can do PVP. That's just a grindy PVP game imo.

11. Eve (Twice)

We all know my feelings about this game. I removed it. Twice. I forgot to delete it when I first had it a couple years ago.

12. Fort Zombie

Waaay back when there was, like, zero games focusing on zombies I got this one. All the reviews said it was buggy and rushed to release and you should avoid it. I should have listened.

13. Hearts of Iron III

I really liked HoI II so this one was a sure bet...except its so friggin hard I could never find the time to learn how to play.

14. Hegemony Gold

This game is set in an era I like and it looks pretty good but the real-time aspect of it means it's not in contention for being in my rotation.

15. I Shall Remain

Another contender for The Summer of Indie but this zombie survival top-down shooter just never appealed to me. Too much focus on waves of zombies and not enough on survival/management for my liking. A good play through here if you're interested.

16. Jagged Alliance Back in Action Demo

I have the actual game so the demo seems a bit pointless. Oh, and see below.

17.  Jagged Alliance Back in Action

For reasons discussed here. Oh, and the expansion is a huge disappointment from what I've read.

18. Saint's Row II

Well considering I have SR III there's no point keeping this one now is there? It was a buggy port anyway, unlike the current gem.

19. Total War Shogun II Demo

Hmmmmm...getting a strong feeling of deja vu here (see #16).

20. Total War Shogun II

The last couple offerings from the Total War series just haven't appealed to me. The settings just don't interest me in an historic sense so I'll patiently await Rome II.

I'm afraid that's not it, yet either. More to come.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beta Overload

It seems a bit funny to me that I keep getting into closed beta tests. Oh sure, I register but I never really think I'll get in. I've been looking at Heroes and Generals for a week or so, and then this weekend received two invites to some high-ish profile games I'm not especially interested in. Maybe I fit some sort of demographic they are interested in like 'fool with money whose only activity in life is gaming'. Yea, maybe they read that I dropped $500 on the 'free' game World of Tanks and they are thinking 'gosh, let's make idiots like that want to play our game.'

In reality it's likely luck-of-the-draw but one of them, with a NDA that forbids me from even saying I'm in the closed beta, is selling early access in exchange for cash. You know the deal- pre-order and  and you'll get into the beta. Normally I could care less about getting in for free but this time I feel genuinely bad that someone would like this game soooo much that they would pony up cash to get an early look at it while I was just handed a key. I can see why they don't want me saying I'm in the beta (for free) as it might irk the pay-to-testers.

I think that's a bit extreme though, don't you? What happens if you break the NDA anyway? Will they kick you out of testing? Will they prevent you from every playing? Can they sue you, and if so, would they? I'd like to be the guy checking the internet all day and combing You Tube videos to see if anyone is violating the terms of the NDA. That might be fun- kind of like a cyber cop for game companies.

To be fair I was pretty interested in that particular game before New Mouth To Feed was born and genuinely wanted to give it a go. It would be nice to be a part of the test but at the end of the day I just have enough energy to get an hour or two of gaming in and really don't have the time to learn a new online PVP game let alone properly comment on it and be a part of the forums. I usually play one or two battles in World Of Tanks (often on the test server ironically enough) and then something less taxing.

I've just completed The Walking Dead and will be posting my thoughts on that fairly soon... or so I hope. Gnomoria continues to feature almost daily and every Tuesday a new build is usually released. The developer seems to be alternating one week new features, one week bug squashes which is great. I've been combing through my hard drives for my Spring Cleaning feature (yes I am aware it's actually fall) and re-discovered discovered Panzer Corps which is perfect for me at the moment (turn based tactics). I've sorted my gaming schedule with Torchlight II coming next week, followed by X-Com, and then Hitman in roughly four week intervals. I'm taking a step back from online games only because.... well, because they are filled with other people and that often puts me off :)

I'm sure I'll be back someday- I'm pretty interested in War Z, for instance, so we'll see what happens. At the moment New Mouth To Feed is mine to watch over from 9pm to about midnight and she sleeps right on top the computer desk which makes screaming 'Push you fucking noob!' quite impossible for the time being so I'll keep it to single-player games for a bit along with You Tube videos. Speaking of copyright issues how the heck can people get away with posting entire movies? I'm grateful, don't get me wrong, but I posted a 10-second clip of Family Guy and got flagged immediately. Ahh well, suits me fine- I'm off to watch Black Hawk Down!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Defining Rural

I've said, once or twice, that on coming back to Canada I returned to one of the most rural, geographically isolated spots in the world. A picture is worth a thousand words, and for this one all those worlds would be cursing the day I returned to this soon-to-be icy hell inhabited by at least one women who thinks that this is a cool truck:

I couldn't make this up if I tried.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fortuitous Friday: To Upgrade, or Not To Upgrade?

It's been a little over a year since I finalized my current computer system. It was my first so-it-yourself build which I researched, ordered, and put together myself. Not a big deal for those of you with some technical skill but it was a major victory for me, let me tell you. After over 25 years of playing with computers it felt good to finally build my own.

I had always intended to upgrade the RAM last but now I find myself in a bit of a pickle. I specifically picked a motherboard which would allow me to use the 3 gigs of DDR2 RAM that I had in my old system. The price of DDR2 RAM is now much higher than DDR3 and I hate to spend the money on something I know is obsolete and won't be used in my next system. I'm thinking of upgrading my motherboard and throwing in 8 gigs of DDR3 RAM which would make my computer fairly well polished (at least until I need to upgrade the video card again).

I'm not very tech savy, however, and I'm not sure what may be coming down the line. Is it worth it to upgrade to the bare minimum motherboard (I always buy cheap) and put in DDR3, or should I just put in some DDR2? I'm currently running an AMD II Quad Core with 3 gigs DDR2 and a Radeon 6570 1 gig video card. I'm pretty happy with my system overall, and the games I like don't require a top end gaming rig.

So, my choices are:

1. Spend $40 to put in some DDR2 and wait to upgrade.
2. Spend $120 for a new motherboard (AMD 3+) and 8 gigs of DDR3 RAM.

I hate polls but I'm gonna put one up anyway. They always remind me of when you were young and you invited people over for birthday parties and you worried no one would come.... or maybe that was just me :(

Thanks everyone and Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spring Cleaning Part I.

There are a ton of new games on the horizon that I am looking forward to. I've pre-ordered X-Com Enemy Unknown, Hitman: Absolution, Torchlight II, and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Its time then to buckle down and decide, once and for all, which games will be staying in my hard drive, and which will be going! It's a completely pointless exercise really, as I have tons of room, but I just hate seeing those games there all the while knowing that I have no desire to play them. It's time for a cleaning which will at least make for a couple of posts in which I get to complain about the failings of various games which is one of my favorite things in the world. Huzzah!

Embarrassingly enough, I couldn't possibly do this all in one post- I simply have too many games for that- so it will be a series of posts taking up time that I could be spending blogging about games I am playing....gosh, you see how that works for me. It's a vicious circle to be sure. So here we go in alphabetic order:

1. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Every once in a while I take a look at the world around me and see that millions of people are playing and (apparently) liking first person shooters. I, in turn, decide to 'fit in' and try them out. It doesn't take long for me to remember two things. First, I never really fit in, and secondly that's because everyone is usually wrong. I hate these games and most of them suck. So long Battlefield!

2. Combat Mission: Battle For Normandy (Demo)

The learning curve killed this one for me. Even after watching some You Tube tutorials I was clueless. I really don't have the time anymore to invest hours and hours learning UI/game mechanics. Too bad because it looks quite good.

5. Crawle

This would have been a feature on The Summer of Indie but I never got around to playing it. I'll look at anything that has 'sandbox' and 'survival game' in it but the graphics/style of this one just doesn't appeal. The developer is working hard, however, and was featuring new builds daily at the time of this post.

6. Cult Tycoon 2

Don't ask. I have no idea what got into me.

7. Crusader Kings II

Played it. liked it, got bored. It really does something different and that's great. The political/dynastic machinations are wonderful but I got a bit tired of it all a few children into my second game. I will always say this is a great game and do recommend it but it is, in fairness, a one-trick pony. The battles are simply a matter of numbers with no tactics and I can't even remember the economy of the game. Is there any trade? Ahh well, here's hoping other games incorporate this level of political maneuvering into their games (ahem, Total War series) or Crusader Kings III buffs the rest of the game play.

8. Dwarf Fortress

I only grabbed this because Gnomoria has taken a lot of inspiration from Dwarf Fortress and I wanted to see what it was all about. I actually spent more time watching a You Tube tutorial (4+ hours) than I did playing it (1 hour) but I got the gist of it anyway. ACII graphics = no thank you. I know that's pretty shallow, especially since I remember when ACII graphics were cutting edge but that's the way it is. I likely, at once stage said: "I wish The Adventures of Eamon had ACII graphics. That would be so cool!"

That covers A-D. E and onward in the next part! Oh, and this doesn't include my Steam library which will be yet another post :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making It Harder Than It Has To Be. WoT Update

I have this tendency, both in-game and out, to make things harder than they have to be. Sometimes it's about the challenge, other times it's procrastination, and sometimes it's about denying myself the satisfaction of enjoying something. Sounds stupid, I know, but old habits are sometimes hard to break and the 'punishing myself' thing goes back a long way and originates in some real-life bollocks that bores me (and my numerous shrinks throughout the years) to think about.

I had one goal in World of Tanks. I wanted the T-44 Tier VIII Russian medium. I liked the look of it, played it on various test servers, and found that I really liked it. It seemed to fit my play-style perfectly. Other than the KV-13 I didn't much like the earlier tanks in the Russian medium tree so I decided I would skip them with free experience. I saved up 250,000 free experience with my KV-13 but decided that I would 'grind it out' so I bought the T-43. I didn't like this tank, but I did really well with it in terms of win-ratio and kills-per-game. Further proof the T-44 would be great I thought.

But still I waited. I procrastinated and piddled about with other things. I suffered through a lot tank destroyers I didn't like to get the Object 704. I bought the Type 59. I got the IS-4, then unlocked the IS-7. I maxed out the Tiger P and bought (and sold) the E-50. I went up the US medium line to the Pershing and then I went back to the M6 to unlock the T-29. I decided to try scouting so I added the Chaffee to my collection (with the T-50 and T-50-2). I had, along the way, unlocked the T-44, readied a crew and bought all the modules for it (wet ammo rack essential) but still I waited.

Now I feel that my time with World of Tanks is coming to an end. I used to play a couple hundred matches a week and now I'm only getting in around 10-20. I've now surpassed 1,000 hours of game time according to Raptr, and I played my 7,500th battle a couple weeks ago. I find I can only take a handful of games in a night before I get frustrated. I hate to lose, you see, the and the game is balanced so you lose 50% of the time in public matches no matter how well you play.

Not bad for a career in PUGs.

With the dusk of my virtual tank career at hand I decided last night to quit pissing about and get the T-44. Here, at the end, I would allows myself the satisfaction of getting the one bloody tank I always wanted. I used 50k free experience to upgrade my tracks, turret, and engine and away I went. In my first three games I racked up 10 kills. The T-44 feels like it's been in my garage since the start. It fits my play-style perfectly and it goes without saying I should have bought this baby 5,000 battles ago when the game was fresh!

I'm selling every tank that I don't do well in, or that I don't like. I'm abandoning the idea of  grinding anything. From now until the end it's tanks I like only- something that should have been my focus from the start but in fairness, despite my own self-sabotaging ways, the game is set up as a bit of a grindy-treadmill and for me, it's time to get off.

The horse on which I will ride into that sunset.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Red Orchestra II Revisited

With the 'Game of the Year' edition (who voted them that I wonder) released in an attempt to revive the title I thought I'd give Red Orchestra II another go. I was one of the fools people who pre-ordered it based on the hype and rabid fan base of the previous one. I was pretty dissapointed as it seemed to encapsulate everything I had alwasy feared Online First Person Shooters were like. Run, die, re-spawn, go back, get flamed for being a noob, get team-killed by an idiot, etc. The 'run and gun' style of these games and the consequence free dying always turned me off and I had assumed these games attracted a lot of savage idiots (was I wrong...hmmmm). I was hoping Red Orchestra II would be different, but as we all know it wasn't. The developers, I read somewhere, have apologized stating they got it wrong.

The new edition has a realistic mode (similar in play to the first game) and an arcade mode. Here's what happened when I played a realistic game.

Run from the spawn toward the enemy.
Get shot.
Re-spawn and run back.
Get shot.
Re-spawn and crawl cautiously forward.
Get shot.
Re-spawn and hang back to see what the hell is going on.
Get shot.
Re-spawn, wait for my team to deploy smoke. Creep cautiously forward.
Get shot.
Match ends.

All this without having seen one enemy or having fired one fecking shot. Bollocks to that, I thought, let's try arcade mode.

Spawn as a sniper and take position.
Get bored and move out.
Accidentally end up in a platoon full of enemy and start shooting them with my sniper rifle from less than 10 feet the back.
I get two kills and then the match ends.

Overall I'm not impressed with the game in either mode. Something about it just doesn't pull me in or make me care. It doesn't help that I'm a nub at shooters or that I have no idea what the goals of each map are. I still dislike the fact you can die without any consequence at all. For now I'll be sticking to World of Tanks as my shooter whenever I get the urge (which is not a lot lately) though I am beta-testing Heroes and Generals which is going to be a free-to-play WWII game featuring FPS and Tactical RTS style play. Interesting idea indeed- you can play any of the modes, or only the one that appeals to you. They seem to be adopting a World of Tanks style Free to Play model in that you can buy gold with cash for customizations and character slots, or you can take a bit longer and buy things using silver earned in-game. More on that one when I get some more time to check it out.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Saturday Tune: Happy Birthday!

Wow, what a week. New Mouth To Feed has decided that sleep is her bitter, bitter enemy and she must do everything within her power to fight it. That of course leads to purple-faced screaming sessions when she eventually becomes 'over-tired' which is bitterly, bitterly unfair to those of us desperately trying to get her to sleep. After finally getting her to drop off a couple nights ago I turned to the 'ole internet for some cheering up. I was catching up on some Irish comedy when I came across RTE's Republic of Telly. I especially like the Handy Sandie character after having lived and worked in Cork (county mostly) for years. It isn't my birthday but when it is, this is the song I'll be humming all day!

And because it's pure funny like, I've added this as well. I'd warn you about foul language but if yer watching an Irish skit, well......... you'd best get used to it so. For those unaware, this is a pure Cork accent and the skits are set in Cork City. It's one of the hardest accents to follow that I encountered while first living in Ireland due to the slang they use, and the speed at which they speak. Cork prides itself in being....well, Cork but despite their obvious inferiority to Waterford I really like them ;)

For those across the pond, the Sandie character is what you'd commonly hear referred to as a 'chav' (white trash equivalent) and Dutch Gold, the beer they are drinking, is one of the cheapest you can buy. Enjoy!