Friday, January 27, 2012

Fortuitous Friday: No Soup For You!

I wanted to do a video of me sitting at my monitor screaming: No Post For You! ala Jerry Seinfeld's famous 'Soup Nazi' episode but I'm not that ambitious. I wouldn't post my actual face on the internet either as then all those hard-working folks at the witness relocation program have to do it all over again.... oh, wait, I'm supposed to not reveal that. Oh well, if you believe that and/or you're a high profile gangster (or gankster) that I've put away with testimony at a trial, then too bad for you.

So here it is, a very long-winded post in which I tell you I have no post for you today. A philisophical head-wrecker that only Plato himself could solve along with the classic: If a blogger posts in the forest, but there's no one around to read it, has he really posted? Or, if you take a bloggers brain and put it in a vat.....

I perused the news this morning and couldn't find anything worth making fun of, or raging about. Ok, well, there was lots to rage about- the news has that affect on me- but that's not really exciting to read is it? This guy murdered that guy, this country invaded that country, blah, blah, blah. It's all a bit samey, really, kind of like the game mechanics in SWTOR, or so I've heard. Cue audience ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh. Don't mind me, I'm just running my mouth. I actually had to do a google search for 'New Star Wars MMO' to find out if it was SWOTR (my first choice) or SWTOR so what the hell do I know.

I'm leaving this weekend for a bit of a 'city break' though given that I live in a boring, flat city in the plains, and I'm driving three hours to another slightly-less boring, flat, city in the plains, it's not that big of a deal. 50% of the friends I usually visit (1) on these trips is away working the only day I'm there. How very dare he! Work, indeed. It's not even real work- he's just prancing around on some stage doing his 'act'. He is a comedian by trade so he goes where and when the 'work' beckons. I can't begrudge him that, I suppose.

Since She Who Will Be Named Later will be doing her 'girly thing' with her friends (which isn't the girly thing I always hope it will be) that leaves me with the solace of the pub..... ahh good pub, we meet again. It's amazing how simply saying "Oh my god, look how fat you've gotten" to a bunch of pregnant women can get you de-invited to their get-togethers. So touchy. If they think that's bad how are they going to react when I start racing the babies in public for beer money? God forbid one of them falls lame during the race. It could get ugly.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quoting You!

I quote these guys so much I may as well cut and paste their whole blog over. Hmmmmm, that's not a bad idea. I could call it: Killed in a Ganking Accident.

From Killed in a Smiling Accident:

1:28 And yay did God visit the forums to see if his creation was good. But lo did the forums say ‘No, God’ and ‘God no!’, and they did explain unto God why only a newb would create man in a such a way. And the forums did then show God how to create a man who would have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

LA Noire. Better Late Than Never

I'm fundamentally opposed to Steam. I'm a bit old school in that when I buy a game, I'd like to be able to pay it without going through a third-party client which is also dependent on my internet provider. Too many bloody middlemen for my liking. I am slowly coming around, however, and while most of the Steam sales are akin to all that bloody junk at the supermarket checkout that no one wants, or needs, once in a while they come through with a good game I'm inclined to play for longer than 10 minutes.

The Christmas sale price of $12.50 was a gaming prayer answered as I had wanted to try LA Noire for some time, but wasn't about to pay $30+ to do so. During the couple days off that I had I grabbed LA Noire and gave it a good go (20+hours). I was not dissapointed.



The game is very well done. It is sylish, well acted, well voiced, and the new facial technology is about as real as I want my games to get. Anything more and it may as well be real life and no one wants that. I especially enjoy the black and white graphics feature which gives you the feeling you are in a 1930's black and white film. It is an immersive experience and quite good fun. I'm currently about 50% complte with 21 out of 40 cases (I think). For all you completion nuts out there keep in mind that's my version of complete. I skip all the driving, street crime min-games, and exploration because I just can't be bothered. I'm a homicide detective, damnit, let someone else chase down street-perps!

If you are interested in this game I'm sure by now you've read some of the great reviews/guides that are out there. I know I did when the game first released. I'm limiting this blurb to my own experiences with the game which won't be as in-depth as some of the others. I think the game handles well on the PC, but I do find the few bugs I encounter to be annoying. In a AAA title like this, especially one that's been out for so long, I'd excpect my game play to be flawless. They aren't huge, but vehicles dissapearing as I approach them at the intersection with my siren on is a common occrance. It's nice they get out of my way for the police, but a bit silly. Getting stuck on the terrain appears to be an inescapable virtual experience but has only happened twice so far (and I've managed to wriggle free).

Here there be spoilers.

You've been warned. Twice. So it's your own fault now.


My biggest beef with the game is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things (in that it may not effect many people at all) but I foud it extremely annoying. You may recall that I am pretty good at guessing who the baddie is in these types of things (crime dramas) and it was no different here. After my promotion to Homicide (my mommy would be so proud) and in the very first stages of my first case, I figured out who did it. I'm not sure if it was meant to be this easy, or not, but it was painfully obvious, and ruined the rest of the Homicide cases. I was investigating, questioning, and then arresting and putting away 'bad guys' who I knew didn't do it. Every once in a while I would yell out "I dont care, let me go get the guy who did it!" With the game play based upon careful questioning of the subject, and with the ultimate goal being to get enough evidence to convict him- when you know he didn't do it just makes it feel a bit pointless.

/ sigh

When will crime-drama writers get it right? Probably never. There are only a handful of truly good (murder) fiction crime novels out there and a couple of those are: Engelby by Sebastian Fauks and The Collector by John Fowles. The rest are fluff-laden bullshit based on the incompetent imaginations of random people who haven't a clue. Yes, James Patterson (and everyone writing for all the t.v crime dramas out there), I'm looking at you. Don't even get me started on television and movies.


Ever wonder what these criminal types really think? This is a very good portrayal- especially for a book written in the 1960's (pre-profiler times)

So whether this was was intentional or I'm a super-smart criminal investigator remains to be seen, but either way it was a bit of a downer incarcerating 4 innocent guys while I knew who and where the real bad guys was! In-game I've been 'promoted' to Vice which is actually, in the Police World (I think) a demotion from homicide so we'll see how the next few cases go before I render the final verdict. Lol..see what I did there?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kazakhstan Should Shut Up

In the news this morning  Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus have banned the import of non-Inuit Canadian Seal products. It's not exactly new, I see, but I'm reading about it for the first time, and my initial thoughts are:

Really? Really Kazakhstan? You honestly think you can take the moral high ground on anything? Really? Ummmm... exhibits for your consideration:

  1. http://blog.soros.org/2010/03/torture-in-kazakhstan-eradicated-by-2013/
  2. http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/news/kazakhstan-gerasimov-20100422
  3. http://jurist.org/paperchase/2010/03/kazakhstan-failing-to-prevent-torture.php 
I will admit that I'm slightly pro-hunt but I am pretty uninformed about it all. The world-wide media has done a pretty good job of making us look like monsters for the hunt, which is, according to the facts, the largest slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. Huzzah! We're number one! Oh, wait..... I see they had to specify 'marine' mammals on that as even at 2 million we can't claim the number one spot for the largest slaughter of mammals on earth..isn't that right Germany?

I'm not going to go in depth into the Sealing debate (especially not on my gaming blog) but I will say that if they weren't so furry and cute the world wouldn't give a shit. Ireland kills thousands of Greyhounds per year and no one bans any of their products because it's not as publicized, Greyhounds aren't cute, and everyone loves the Irish! Except Greyhounds, of course- I bet they aren't very keen.

As Canadians we have a pretty good reputation in the world- generally. We're not perfect, of course, but I would venture to say the world view of Canadians as 'nice guys', peacekeepers, 'quiet American's' and 'damn fine hockey players' prevails the world over. We don't have a lot of human rights issues, but don't be fooled, they are there. My point is, were not known for flying off the handle and committing atrocities so I would venture to say there is a good reason we regulate, and perform a hunt of any specific animal. Look past the fact they are cute, and we might get to some of the real issues. Maybe we should re-evaluate all furry mammals which are routinely slaughtered. How about rats? Is that poison we use humane? Okay, that may be an extreme point due to the disease angle (and the fact they are just gross). I've lived with rats, and it isn't fun- but you see my point.



It feels a bit strange as an animal lover to come out on the side of the Seal hunt, but not as strange as it must feel for a regime (yes, I said regime) which still has problems with the torture of humans to come out all morally indignant that some cute, furry animals are being killed. The sharpest twist of the knife? The ban excludes Inuit-related products which shows an awareness of, and compassion toward, our First Nations people who might depend on these products. L. O. L.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Real Warfare 2: Lovechild.

Well, gosh, I guess I promised a non-tank related post last week didn't I? I do play other games, believe it or not, so I thought I'd do a quick blurb on Real Warfare 2. I'm going to make it quick as I've played it for less than 4 hours so far, and I think an in-depth review would be a bit unfair. I stumbled upon this one during a peruse of Steam games (they are good for something after all) and was intrigued. Captivated. Gobsmacked. No, not really, but I was interested in the setting and the tactical, medieval warfare aspect of it all and I haven't been disappointed.

We need to get this out of the way. Real Warfare 2 isn't the next, best thing in the real-time/tactical battle genre (if that is, indeed a genre). It isn't breaking any new ground, and in fact if Total War got together with Mount and Blade, and had a little gaming baby- this would be it! You roam around a map in real-time ala Mount and Blade, building your forces, trading, and gaining experience by beating on bad guys and their towns/castles and when it's time to fight- off you go into the Total War room. It's just that simple.

That doesn't make it a bad thing. In fact, I think it's pretty good. I've posted on Total War: Shogun II and how it just isn't my thing (the setting, not the game which is great). I've also been wanting to play Mount and Blade since I bought it almost a year and a half ago, but just never seem to get around to it. I was thinking about these games when I stumbled onto Real Warfare so it was a no brainer for me. I like the familiarity of it all, with units (swordsmen, axemen, archers, knights) and tactics I am familiar with.

Tutorial? Who needs one? If you've played Total War or Mount and Blade you certainly won't need one. There is one included though, so don't fear. The 'campaign' consists- so far- of some pretty simple, linear quests. Go kill him. Take that town. Stop those robbers. Pretty unnecessary if you ask me- I'm going to try and kill/conquer everything anyway, but I suppose if you don't enjoy a sand-box you might like a little push in the direction of the bad guys.

The AI seems pretty good in the fights and I've actually been beaten! I think of that as a good sign that the matches won't be too easy. The enemy reacts to what I do, rather than pushing in like fools to die. The units look great (but not as good as Shogun II of course) and I'm sure the trading aspect of the game works fine. I personally used the cheats (obtained via a Google search if you're interested) to get more money and experience right away. Ya, I said it. I CHEATED. The starting quests are too hard to complete immediately and I didn't feel like participating in a pile of battles involving me, my spearmen, my archers, and a similarly matched peasant army until I had enough experience to get more units. I'm a veteran of these games and want the challenge of commanding an army, not a rag-tag band of buffoons.

I think the game has promise, but as the story line is a bit of a let-down, and it's not a true sand-box (unless you use the cheat 'freemodeon') it's a game I'm only going to play when I really feel like some medieval tactical battles. I'll post more if/when I put in a bit more time into it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Quoting You

Yes, well as my initial rage at the world wears off and Friday settles in I start turning my thoughts toward home...and gaming....and my dogs....and my wine....oh, and She Who Will Be Named Later, of course. But mostly gaming.

Killing time means forum hopping, and since I can't access the World of Tanks NA forum at the moment I'm spending a good deal of time on the EU World of Tanks forums where I came across this for a Friday Chuckle. It will likely only be funny if you actually play WoT, but it's a nice way to end the week. I didn't want my lingering Friday post to be so..... real.

 This is from 2ndaryBattleTank's reply in this thread:
"I would love to see a 'News of the World of Tanks' tabloid. It could feature gripping headlines such as:

Tiger excellent scout!
KV gets raider medal!
M3 Lee kills enemy tank!
Ghost shells, are they real?
Cammo values remain hidden
Overlord speaks: 'Soon'
Travel: The 10 greatest camping sites in Malinovka
Scientists confirm: 'Mauses are scared of Loltractors'
Opinion: My tank is worse than your tank (that I have never driven)!

And obviously, between pages 2 and 4 there would be a scantly clad D2, prominently featuring her guns."


Happy Friday Everyone!

Cowards Come in All Colors



This is not a gaming-related post.



I always used to think of terrorists as an 'other'- something different from me both inside and out. We have had few problems in Canada with terrorism. South of the border there have been 'home grown' attrocities, of course, but whenever I think of a terrorist attack I always, automatically assume it is by an 'other'. Someone very different from me in terms of color, cutlure, or religion. It is likely a combination of North American media being really good at focusing on the 'other' as an enemy (and sometimes they are) and something within me wanting to believe that those responsible for such cowardly, atrocious acts, are very unlike me in every way.

Well, I've grown up a little since those days, and after travelling and living abroad I realize that terrorists, and cowards, come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and are often not so very different at all. I want to be clear that terrorists are cowards. They will hide behind religion, or other slogans, but in the end they are cowards. The most recent, tragic atrocity here in North America was, to say the least, devastating and world-changing. It was a cowardly act, indeed, but in the end at least- at the very least- those responsible paid for their actions. Too little, too late, yes, but they did pay. The organization responsible stood up and said to the world: We did this because we hate you. We are not sorry.

Don't get me wrong: I do not respect them for their views, nor does standing by their actions make them less cowardly. I will say, however, it makes them slightly less cowardly than this lot who hide behind 'not guilty' pleas while they kill their own countrymen. If your cause is so worthwhile, and you are so brave in taking on this task then why not stand up, like those other famous terrorists, and say so? Surely a cause so worthy as to commit muder for is also worthy of laying claim to, no? If not, then you're just killing in cold blood and then trying to get away with it which simply makes you a murderer.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

5,000 World of Tanks Battles

Posts are a bit sparse this week but I figure you likely need a break from my genius anyway, or perhaps some time to digest all the weighty subjects I frequently tackle here....not buying it? Okay, what can I say? Busy week combined with -40 C temps (yes, finally they are here, but only for a week) means I'm not in the mood.

I am still playing- rest assured. My latest milestone? I just passed 5,000 battles in World of Tanks. Huzzah! I was feeling pretty smug, to be sure, until I got a PM on the forums and checked the stats on the sender. Games played? 12,500. Global ranking? 80th. Sheesh. I thought my average of 10 games a day was a lot, but it turns out I'm still a noob, ranked only 15,600th on the server. Ahh well, it's not bad when you consider the latest stats indicate there are 1.3 million registered users in North America.



I will return next week with some proper post, including an update on a game I've been plugging away at since I bought it over the Christmas Holidays (LA Noire) and how my new, premium-free, grind-free WoT sessions are going!

I bet you're so excited you've just wet yourself. Till then.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Star Wars: Gank Finally Speaks Out

Ever see something and think to yourself...hey, I thought of that! It's tough when someone beats you to a good idea. I saw this today on Tobold's blog and thought, hey, I published that one first... only to realize it was sitting in my draft folder :(

None-the-less, I'm publishing anyway. Great minds think alike, and besides, I'm desperate for a post as I'm pressed for time! Without further adieu, here is my tiny (late) post which is more of a lazy Quoting You really- but without the quote, which you have to look up yourself as I'm very lazy :)

As I am not playing it, nor will I ever, I actually have nothing to say- but wait- I found someone who does! This, by Richard Bartel, is the most interesting, objective thing I've seen yet about the game. There is also a good bit about MMO's (as there often is in his blog) which I like.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday's Tune: Evil Nine Essential Mix 2005

I always feel hesitant when posting a portion of a set. Evil Nine's 2005 essential mix was an absolute masterpiece and if you're lucky enough to have a copy you know what I mean. If you're into 'electronic music' you'll understand that a set, especially a 2-hour set like the essential mix, is a journey. It has a beginning, an middle and an end. Along the way you can lose yourself in specific parts that are, at the time, meaningful to you in some way. These parts will stick with you for a very, very long time, and that can make sharing bits and pieces of it problematic in that others just may not 'get it'.

Jumping into the middle of a set can be a disservice to what the artist has put together but it isn't always necessary to be there from the beginning. The portion I am posting today is very near the end, which is to say, the climax of the set. It's a bit choppy at the start (as I've hacked it out of the whole set) but is a combination of these tracks:

  1. Smashing Pumpkins - '1969' [False Profit Mix] (White)
  2. Alex Dolby - 'Hazy Way' [Evil Nine Remix] (Mantra)

I can't even tell you how many times I've listened to this set or portions thereof. I've chopped it up, spun it 'round, and mashed it for my own use, and the portion I have here today is one of my main running tracks at the gym. I listen to this at least three times per week and I'm still not sick of it after three years (I discovered it late). If it was for sale I'd tell you to buy it, immediately, but it isn't and I have no idea where you can get it.

Enjoy!



Evil Nine 2005 Essential (Portion of) by Gankalicious

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fortuitous Fridays: Vegetarians, Polar Bears and Paris

Right, so I guess someone has to say it. Vegetarians: in addition to annoying everyone around you with your morally superior attitude to, well, everything, you're evolving yourself into extinction. Just look at the Polar Bear. Don't see the connection? Okay, lets back up as my brain has, perhaps, jumped the rails a bit here.

Several years ago I had the good fortune to go to Paris with a friend who had a family flat very near the Champs-Élysées. It was, in fact, just behind the American Embassy. Well, not directly behind, of course, as the poxy Americans are always keen on keeping their embassies secure and such, but very close.

The A is the Embassy, and the circle is the flat... yes, I do hope you're jealous 'cause it was fab.

It's just up and on the left.
We had been here a couple times, and with the flights from Ireland costing $50.00 it was a great place to meet friends and have a good time. As the accommodation was paid for, the flights cheap, and the wine and food half of what it cost in Ireland it was a win-win....win situation! On one of these get-togethers we had with us that most dreaded of dinner partners...... the vegetarian. In Paris.....where they think that eating an animal's intestine is perfectly reasonable. It's basically the land of cheese and meat (and wine) so, really, a vegetarian is pretty much shit-out-of-luck.

I remember one night we were tromping around, hungry as all hell, looking for a restaurant that had vegetarian options. We reached one, and our friend looked at the menu and said: "Ahh, pasta, you know, I don't really feel like pasta, I had that yesterday."

Really Sherlock? Had pasta yesterday? Of course you did, for feck sake, you're a vegetarian! There isn't a lot of shit you can eat, and especially not in Paris (even fish was forbidden to him apparently). I wanted to beat him to death with one of the giant (delicious looking) salamis I could see hanging in a nearby shop. But I didn't, of course- it was just the irrational thoughts of a very hungry man tired of walking.

Come on....how good does that look? Yummy.


I was thinking of that episode the other day while I was enjoying the +8 Celcius day we had which broke a record set in 1920 for the warmest day in our city. Last year I was posting pictures of the temperature at -56 Celcius (with wind chill) and this year it's so warm we hardly have any snow left. I've never (in 30 years) seen anything like this. It really does prove that the earth is getting warmer, despite a large percentage of my American neighbors thinking otherwise. I remember my dad saying (in between puffs of his cigarette) that if destroying the ozone layer would make it warmer here in Saskatchewan then he was going to go out and buy a load of aerosol cans and start spraying. NASA has confirmed that we'll be seeing big changes where I live.

The warmer temperatures, of course, are melting the ice-caps, increasing the sea-level, and destroying the habitats of many of the animals who have adapted to cold climates. Now I love animals (even Manatees) but a part of me can't help but think that if some animals were just a little brighter they wouldn't be in trouble. Look at the Polar Bear. A lovely looking creature, I admit, and the recent BBC special Frozen Planet narrated by the wonderful David Attenborough (that's Sir David to us) provided us with a truly breathtaking and intimate look at these mighty creatures. It made me feel really, really bad that they're all going to be dead very, very soon.

Taken From The BBC website linked above.
But then, let's face it- it's their own fault. Well, except for the whole humans destroying their habitat by increasing the temperature of an entire planet thing of course. Look at Grizzly Bears- thought to be part of the same group of bears that the Polar evolved from- they seem to have fared a bit better..... oh wait, bad example I guess, since they too are endangered. Hmmmm.....My point is, they haven't specialized nearly to the extent of Polar Bears and in the end, that may save them.

Even he would be okay in Paris.
In the end, I guess, the animals who are not specialized to the point of ridiculousness are going to fare better during sudden changes to their environment or habitat. Thus, I submit to you, that the vegetarian is specializing him, or her, self into a corner and may one day find themselves on a program narrated by Sir David Attenborough with sad music playing in the background:

We see here the elusive and rare North American Vegetarian desperately searching for edible algae on the underside of these rocks. Once plentiful, and prosperous here in North America, a changing climate saw all the vegetation die off. In it's place a new species of cow evolved which was able to sustain itself soley on water which was good news for those that liked their steaks rare. Not so, sadly, for the vegetarian.

The endangered, babmoo-eating Panda. Do I really have to say anything else?


Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

WoT's Next?

You may vaguely recall me going on (at some length) last year about fun in games. I also looked at game mechanics, and specifically World of Tanks, and how some mechanics of the game were designed more for profit, than for actual gameplay. I tend to dwell on these things but I did come up with a plan after asking myself over, and over- are you having fun, and if not, how can you improve your fun? While the obvious answer to this may be simply 'stop obsessing' it just isn't me to let things lie, and besides, what would I have to blog about if I did things the easy way?

I did eventually come up with a plan. The problem, as I saw it, was that some of my gaming sessions in WoT weren't all that fun. I found I was unable to break away from the game during losing streaks and was getting cross where I should have been having fun. The game mechanics I discussed which are designed to keep us playing and paying, were beginning to grate on my nerves which may seem silly as it is, after all, only a game. Remember that I also talked about how games manipulate our obsessions in an effort to keep us p(l)aying.
 
I would log in and, like so many others, try to get my 'daily doubles' (the first battle each day in all tanks is worth twice the experience). It sounds simple enough, but if a particularly nasty losing streak should happened to befall you, it can be frustrating. My worst was 20 losses in a row with the Tiger II (which I sold shortly after and have NOT regretted it). I decided to implement a 'play till you lose' policy where whenever I lost a match I would switch tanks. I have over 15 of them after all- why torture myself? In the end that didn't matter because eventually I would be left with a single tank that 'needed' the daily double. I felt that I had to get it because I was 'grinding' my way up whatever tank tree it happened to be in.

All of that doesn't sound like much fun, does it? I thought about it (helped by my various posts and your comments there-in) and decided on an action plan. I would rid myself of the need to 'work the tech trees'. No more grind, no more carrots to chase. I would have everything I wanted and then.... well, then what? Theoretically I should be free to play whatever tank I felt like playing rather than ones I felt I had to play. In addition if I wasn't concerned about the 'grind' then I wouldn't need a premium account anymore.

 
Over the holidays I took advantage to the 5X experience event (a real event, not like the current offering) and spent the 11 million credits I had accumulated to do the following:

 
Look at all those 3L33T tanks!

 
  1. Purchased the Object 704 "endgame" Russian TD (finally).
  2. Unlocked, maxed out, and bought the IS-4 tier IX Russian Heavy.
  3. Unlocked, maxed out, and bought the E50 "endgame" German medium.
  4. Unlocked the Pershing tier VIII American medium and sold my poxy T-20 (good riddance).

As you can see from the picture I now have a lot of elite tanks. I have spent the last couple of weeks in this way and find that I am enjoying the game a lot more. I am no longer concerned about 'grinding a tank tech tree' and when I log in I play whatever tank I feel like playing. I have avoided the new French tanks and have even dusted off some old favorites like the Hetzer and the Ram II. While I will admit there are some other tanks I would like to try I have decided that I will do so on the test servers which come around at least every couple of months.
 
This new 'grind free' mode also means I don't have to purchase a premium account- and given the latest, money-grabbing efforts by Wargaming.net I am happy to withhold my money in protest. Yes, credits are an issue, and perhaps playing the 'big boys' will be more difficult to sustain but as I said, I'm trying to free myself from that line of thinking and have more fun. Besides which I do have the T-59 premium which is loads of fun and 'makes good money' so I think I'm set for now.
 
I'm not abandoning hope for this game just yet. The recent debacle where Wargaming.net offered supposedly 'exclusive, one time offer' tanks for sale a mere year after the so called 'excusive offer' shows they do have the ability to listen, and adapt to the community's requests/complaints. If you missed that one, it got pretty ugly with some players threatening to sue over issues of fraud and false advertising. The company responded by removing said tanks from the new gift shop.
 
While World of Tanks is not, despite what some players might like to think (Syncaine I'm looking at you), pay-to-win, it is increasingly becoming 'pay-to-play' which, in itself sounds alright. Nothing is truly free, right? I agree, it's just the manner in which they are doing it, and the costs involved that are becoming an issue. At this point I'd rather it was a boxed game we had to pay for (even subscribe to) with downloadable (pay-for)content for new tanks, maps, skins, and game modes. I don't mind paying, I just hate grinding for credits.
 
See you on the battlefield- and you can now catch me (occasionally) on the EU server as well, bombing around in my two premium low-tier tanks which I got for free!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And the Forum's Explode

In case you're not a forum junkie like me I thought I'd point out the World of Tanks forums are going mental- on both sides of the pond- due to the so-called weekend special to commemorate the battle of Monte Cassino.


World of Tanks Forum(s) today.


To say the special isn't very good would be like saying a nail hammered into my eye would be somewhat inconvenient. It sucks, quite frankly and the (very) transparent intention is to get us to spend more gold. These weekend specials almost always include discounted tanks, increased credit earnings, and other goodies but not so in this case. Most of the forum commenters agree (and I am among them)- the credit squeeze is killing the fun of the game. If I wanted to grind fucking credits I'd get a job...oh wait... I have one, so when I come home I'd like to relax and play the tank I want to play.

Tomorrow I'll be posting on how I've set myself up for the next few months of non-premium activity. Wargaming.net will not be getting any more cash out of me for a while as I go into Free To Play Mode.

Read for yourselves...if you dare ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 Gaming Highlights #2: World Of Tanks

Do I actually have to write anything more? If you've been reading this blog (and you have been, by definition, since you're reading this now) you will know I am somewhat involved in a little game called World of Tanks. Ad naseum sometimes, it seems. I started playing World of Tanks almost one year ago (January 29th, 2011 to be exact). When I look back at that first post and see how excited I was I can't help but smile.....and admit that- despite my sometimes critical posts- I am still enjoying this one. WoT has definitely been my #1 gaming highlight of 2011.

Wait a minute......you said it was #2 in the title. Yes, you are right. WoT was my #1 game in 2011, but my #2 highlight. Number one?

2011 Gaming Highlights #1: Blogging.

While blogging isn't a game (or maybe it is with the total pageviews representing your 'high score') it certainly features highly in my daily game-related routine. While technically I started blogging in 2010 (December) the bulk of my blogging activity has been in 2011.

I find that blogging about games, and reading the blogs of others, enhances my gaming experiences. It is fun to read what others are doing, what they think of games you are playing, and to engage in discussions (both in my head and with others) via my own blogging. It's kind of like forum-surfing except across many different games and there's less trolls, or at least I get to be the primary troll, which is always fun!


Right so. That ends 2011 and my brief (lazy) retrospective. Unlike some ambitious buggers with enough material to do a podcast on their 2011 exploits there wasn't a lot I could say. Played tanks: shot stuff. Played Wurm: built stuff. And that's about all! I will return to my regularly scheduled program Thursday when I will be (once again) returning to the topic of fun, and more specifically, World Of Tanks- oh boy, big surprise, huh?.


Monday, January 9, 2012

2011 Gaming Highlights #3: Wurm Online

Finding Wurm Online was both a blessing and a curse. As it is a great little indie game, it was a blessing. As a time-sucking, engrossing addiction, it was a bit of a curse. I was only a few games into my Sandbox Challenge when I started Wurm. I was meant to play it for 20-40 hours and, in the end, logged around 400.

I haven't been involved in this one for quite some time. Once I finally made it through the crisis period, and knew I wasn't going to starve, (and had a patch of land all to my own which I completely modified), I began to lose interest. I had livestock, a big sailing ship, crops, a house, and some nice neighbors. It's a shame, really, because it is a gem of a game. I still log in now and again to look at the 'ole homestead, but it's not the same. My precious horse is still alive, but once she's gone I'll give it up for good.

The main problem with Wurm, in the end, is the skill grind. I love the sandbox- you can do anything! Wurm offers a great deal of freedom and player innovation is a driving force. The price you pay for wanting to get beyond surviving is skill grinding. Plain old, boring, stand there and press M for mine, grinding. It's just not for me- but hey, 400 hours is a lot of time and I hardly spent a dime on it (maybe $50 in total). That's some serious value for money and I don't regret a single minute (or dime) of it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quoting You

It's been a while since I (stole) quoted anyone. This is not from the world of games (yes, I know, hard to believe such a place exists but it's there- I'm told- beyond the glow of the monitor and past the soft hum of the motherboard fans), but from Charlie Brooker who's humor and darkly satirical screen plays are top notch. This is in relation to bad guys in superhero movies:

Tip: if you want to make your bad guy interesting and menacing and exotic, don't waste hours gluing prosthetic dice to his eyelids and giving him a name like "the Quizzlestick". Just show him masturbating into an oven glove while watching earthquake footage on CNN. Then you've got my attention. And automatically made a film worth watching.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Fortuitous Friday: Time Marches On

It may be a cheesy old country song by Tracy Lawrence, as well as an old adage, but time is marching on and today I really feel it. It's not a surprise to me that I'm getting older. Every time I look at my driver's licence and see '1970' as my date of birth I'm reminded that I am, actually, over 40 now. The impending New Mouth to Feed, the Real Job, and all the other adult-like things most of my friends had 20-years ago, are assurances that I'm 'all growed up'.

The only problem with all of that is that time, despite my best attempts at manipulation, is ticking along and I am not (despite my weekly sacrifice of a live chicken to the gods of youth) getting any younger. Forty is not old, but it definitely isn't twenty. This idea has been ringing around my head for a few days now after the discovery (thanks to a poxy, yet accurate scale at my gym) that I am now the heaviest I have ever been. Ever.

While that could be a testament to laziness (and booze....and food.....) rather than old-age I compounded the problem (of feeling old) by slipping on ice while walking my dogs this morning. A beautiful winter with bizarre above zero temperatures followed by a nightly freeze is making the streets pretty damn hazardous. And I fell. Hard. I actually thought I had broken my arm and the situation turned into a sick comedy sketch as I slid off the sidewalk and fell through said ice (just frozen over night) into a puddle of water. Not being able to move I could only lay there swearing, getting wet, and terrifying the dogs (who were strapped to me via a crazy lead system I have worked out). It's okay to laugh, honest.

If any of my neighbors had looked out I imagine it made for quite a site. It was 5 minutes or more before I could get back up and make my wet, bruised way home. The result of all this, then, is that I feel even older than I did previously. Falling down, or getting knocked down for that matter (I used to play ice hockey but you knew that, of course, as I'm Canadian and some stereotypes are true) was never a big deal. Now it seems in addition to the cuts and scrapes a new bruise, to my ego, has emerged. Knowing that you're older, even admitting you're older, and having your body prove you're older are very, very different things. Science isn't helping matters either as it appears I may become a drooling idiot in as little as three years.

As we get older our priorities change, of course. New demands on our time mean things get pushed aside, and after a long day it's easier to come straight home for a nice dinner and a glass of wine that it is to go to the gym. When I was younger I had a lot of anger and frustration that I used as fuel for a hectic lifestyle and a religious gym-schedule. Now that I'm older and my life is much improved, I don't have that anger to push me onward- which is, of course, a good thing. It's about give and take, I suppose, and setting realistic goals. If aging hasn't given me a defter foot on icy surfaces at least it has imparted a bit of wisdom.... or so I hope.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Negativity vs. Objectivity in Blogging

I'm pausing my 'Top Four 2011 gaming highlights' (which isn't all that exciting, lets face it) to tackle a post I read yesterday by Thade. He criticises the blogging world for being too negative and asks if we actually like the games we play.

I've visited this topic previously, and while I agree that news, and perhaps some bloggers, do focus overly on the negative, I think that it is both inevitable and necessary. The basic point of my previous post was this:

The other important question is why do I continue to play games that annoy me? If I'm writing critical posts about World of Tanks, for instance, then it stands to reason that I'm not actually having fun.

I do have fun playing the games that I write about otherwise I wouldn't continue to play them. Ultima Online, A Tale in the Desert, and Civ 5 being good examples of games that I just didn't stick with. When I write critically about a game I am playing I do it for three reasons:

  1. To vent my frustration about game-elements that are annoying me.
  2. To provide a review (good and bad) of the game so anyone unfamiliar with it could decide if they may want to play it.
  3. In the hopes that if enough of us say the same thing the game may change in a favorable direction.

Online games are a particular genre that breeds a lot of in-depth thinking and discussion. The fact that we play them for years at a time inevitably results in complaints and/or suggestions for improvements. The fact that the games are patched, updated, and changed over the course of time means that input from the community is necessary and, potentially, game-changing. Coupled with the fact that companies are increasingly releasing games that are buggy or unfinished and I think it's not only healthy, but necessary that we point out their failings.

If I bought a car that didn't work, I'd return it with a full report to the dealer as to why. Games are no different, and I agree that there is a point where constructive criticism becomes pointless whining, but also think Thade is a bit off target here. He says:

"If you’re not willing to forgive MMO mobs for pathing issues, Evade bugging, and respawning until the end of time, then why are you playing? If you’re going to play Skyrim, say “I really enjoyed this, but…” then what are you doing? Why are you playing?"

I don't think it's about forgiving MMO's their failings and it would be a disservice to ourselves, our readers, and the games we play if we were to omit such discussions from our daily posts. When I read a review of a game I want to know what isn't good about it. If I'm looking at a game I'm already sold in the idea of it- I want the nuts and bolts!

That isn't to say Thade doesn't have a point. As I discussed in my aforementioned post, and as Tim pointed out, games are meant to be fun and an endless wall of negativity can suggest that element (fun) isn't being had- so why bother? I don't think anyone likes too much negativity- or maybe each individual has their limit. I avoid the daily news for that very reason- too much negativity. Maybe Thade has a low of tolerance for negative game posts, but I think they are necessary and if done well (and coupled with the positive aspects as in any good review) can be useful to individuals, and the gaming community as a whole.

For the sake of transparency I will admit that his post immediately got my back up because he started out with a criticism of one of my favorite bloggers- Melmoth, from Killed in a Smilling Accident. I think that the British have a particular affinity for sarcasm and irony that can sometimes be misinterpreted. I know as a Canadian (with Comedy roots firmly in the British tradition) I was often taken very seriously on subjects I was making fun of. Where I expected a laugh I was often greeted with somber, often horrified expressions. Ooops.

I realize Melmoth can take care of himself, and this isn't some school-yard anti-bullying campaign by an oversensitive Canadian jerk screaming "stop picking on my virtual friend or I'll tell the teacher!" Thade does recognize the satirical slant to KIASA's work, so I'm not suggesting he is 'picking' on them, or bullying them in any way. Besides, the teacher doesn't care, and we are all aware of what happens to rats: First time you catch me alone in the shower- BANG! Shanked and left for dead....and no one wants that, least of all, me.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gaming Highlights of 2011: #4 Quitting WAR

As a filler until I have something more interesting to say (new stuff coming, I promise!) I thought I'd review my gaming highlights of 2011. I started counting and could only come up with four. That's either pretty sad, or a testament to the good gaming experiences I did find. In any case, it works for all the television programs around this time of year so I thought I could likely fob it off on you, my dear readers :)

Number 4: Quitting Warhammer Online

A bit of an anti-highlight, one would think, but I have to say I'm so glad I stopped playing this game when I did in early 2011. My last few weeks of play were frustrating and simply an exercise in habit. I was logging in looking for fun which is ridiculous. You should be logging in and having fun, not desperately hoping something will be going on which will entertain you.

I'm also a big believer in customer service and Warhammer Online staff could give a seminar in 'How Not To Treat Customers'. Appalling communication coupled with ridiculous hype (we have a secret and we're not going to tell you yet, etc) was not only condescending to the player base, but just plain childish. I was frustrated both in-game, and out of it by reading developer posts (or lack thereof), and forums.

The fact that this game is still going is a testament to the idea of Warhammer, and the demand for large-scale, fantasy based PVP. I will do a short happy-dance when this one is put to rest permanently and I re-affirm my commitment to never, ever, ever, play anything my Mythic again.