Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gnomoria Strategies: Re-thinking the Seal

Just my luck: weeks after deciding to do a video on my 'great' Gnomoria strategy a new patch brings changes that makes sliiiiiiightly less desirable (read: horrifically less desirable). Sealing yourself in previously meant you could, eventually, go and harvest the corpses for their armor and weapons at your leisure. With the new way that Kingdoms are valued all that dropped loot spikes your value and means tougher monsters in greater numbers a lot faster. Not dealing with those monsters and their loot becomes problematic and I lost my latest Kingdom (Gankland) very quickly as the two-headed Ogres and the battalion of Mants jostled each other on the way in to my fort to wipe my population of trusting Gnomes. I may have to re-name the kingdom to Mantland.

I'm working on a modified version of my strategy and will post a video in the next week or so showing my catastrophic failure mentioned above, and (hopefully) how to remedy it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Just Want To Be Heard

I consider myself a reasonable person but the thing about that is it's very subjective and perfect strangers reading my words may not know that. (I'm also terribly funny, in a quiet, Canadian way, and devastatingly handsome but that's beside the point). Forums abound with people mouthing off about all sorts- especially when it comes to games. Fanbois, rage-quitters and other enthusiasts are likely to be the core group visiting and commenting on such sites. Hows anyone supposed to know who's worth listening to?

After playing World of Tanks for over two years, and spending around $600 along the way I've had my share of ideas, and upsets. Some things I still really like about the game (TANKS!) and some thing really frustrate me (let's not go there). I try not to get into 'meta-game' discussions anymore. I've said a lot about features I think would benefit the player, and the company and yes, I consider those suggestions to be reasonable. It's nice, then, almost a year after writing them, that someone finally took the time to listen, or at least acknowledge I did so.

Today on Overlords Blog (a World of Tanks dev blog for those not in the know) one of the devs checked out my post on some old ideas of mine and said thanks. How nice is that? I wouldn't think I'll live to see them implemented, but still it's pretty cool. I like the think I know the game fairly well, and I especially know what it's like to be a pro-PUGer where things can get pretty dull. A few extra tweaks here and there would make a world of difference and keep whales like myself on the line for some more cash.

Cheers Overlord. I appreciate being heard.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

World of Tanks: 8.4 Test Server British Tank Destroyer Gameplay

Please note this is NOT a review. Just some gameplay/commentary in the Tier 6 and 7 British Tank Destroyers coming in patch 8.4. I have an anti-troll policy. Negative comments will be deleted and users blocked. For the rest of the world who are decent human beings, enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Two Battle Tuesday: M7 Gameplay

New Two Battle Tuesday is up with a bonus battle in the Type 59 to start things off and then two battles in the M7.

The Problem With You Tube And I

Or is it the 'the problem with me and You Tube'? Either way the problem with You Tube is that it tells you things. Things like how many people watch your videos, and worst of all, how long they stick around for. Thus far 70% of my viewers leave after less than a minute. Doh! Talk about a kick to the teeth of my ego. Don't get me wrong- I realize that my particular style (ie who I am) isn't going to attract droves of loyal followers. You Tube may not be the best medium for me. I'm a lot like a fungus...... it takes a while for me to grow on you so the clicky McGees of the world, used to loud or cheerful commentating will dissapear fast.

You Tube personalities seem to come in the shouty "I'm so angry so you must listen" or the uber "I'm very polite" type. There are, of course, many other styles abounding but realistically they don't get a lot of attention. The demographic of You Tubers is also young- similar to T.V. I'm assuming- though I could be wrong. People like myself may attract smaller groups of like-minded individuals (we're old lads, lets face it) but unfortunately those bloody stats are still there. Laughing.

My last Gnomoria video, for instance, was just over 30 minutes and the average view time was 5. Yikes. Maybe it's time for a new virtual career. The joy of blogging is you have no idea how many people load up your post and then go 'this guy is shit' and then click away. I can delude myself that 100 page views today means 100 loyal followers read each and every world I wrote..... not true of course but that's the great thing with deluding yourself.

Now I could get angry on You Tube. I like to shout and I especially like to curse (something I don't do in my videos). Maybe instead of starting each video with 'Hello everybody, and welcome back to World of Tanks' I should go with 'Alright you fucking noobs it's time to watch me kick some tank-ass!'. Too insulty?

The other problem is that there is no standard by which to judge yourself. You Tube isn't exactly helpful to the new, smaller channel. There is no information about average view times, average subscribers per video, or what to expect as you grow your channel. Is 111 subs good for a new channel with less than 50 videos? Is a 30% average view rate okay? Do the view rates include everytime you click your video to edit it (because that would account for why so many Canadians watch so little of my videos now wouldn't it?), etc, etc. You Tube, in fact, are a bit crap but then again they are dealing with soooo much stuff being uploaded they can hardly be expected to hold everyones hand. All I'm left with then, is my own standards of what 'successful' is and, if you are a long-time reader you may already now, they are quite high. Often unreasonably so.

'But Gank', you cry 'you should be doing it because it's fun'. Well, yes, should be being the operative phrase there but I have some difficulty in having fun. I always want to organize and maximize the fun which often takes all the fun out of it. Hmmmmm...vicious cycle it seems. You tube analytics are very good but they can make Stat Monkeys like me want to cry virtual tears of frustration.

I have decided to stick with it and evaluate my channel after 100 videos. I'm roughly half way there at the moment so there is some time left. In the meantime I'll try to have some of this 'fun' everyone seems so keen on and maybe, just maybe along the way, I'll do a few rage videos to boost my stats. Would you like that? WOULD YOU?

Monday, February 18, 2013

World of Tanks 8.4 Test Server: Insert Catchy Comment/Opinion Here to Imply I Care.

The test server is up, and yes, I have been on it. I launched my You Tube channel on the back of the 8.3 update and was ready to do some videos for this one. The new British Tank Destroyers will be on everyone's mind and there is the new (overpowered) Premium Russian Tank destroyer to consider as well. I was getting set to do some videos and then suddenly- bam! Everyone released 8.4 videos. Quake Riley did an over-view video, and then the 'big boys' (those with 4k subs and up) weighed in: Jingles, Zeus, Rising Sun....all of them now have videos showcasing the new tanks. Side Strafe has said he may take a look as well (20K+ subs).

I'm fairly new to You Tube and I'm not sure what I could offer, in terms of information, that these other channels won't. Oh sure, there's my sunny disposition, my out-going personality, and stunning good looks (though SideStrafe may edge me in that category because he's a handsome bugger, rawr!)  but my subscribers are all likely to be subbed to at least one of those other channels so I wouldn't expect a lot of views. Views aren't the only consideration in my video choices, of course, but it is nice and I can't help but obsessing over them. I did the same with the blog in the beginning- checking my page views (8) and hoping I'd get more until I just stopped caring and did it because I liked it (I now get around 150 a day mostly due people reading my back-posts and spam sites hitting me up).

I find the viewers from test server preview videos to be very.....transient. I did get a lot of attention, and thus subs, from my 8.3 videos but a lot of those bigger channels didn't bother covering the new Chinese tree (suggesting, of course, that those channels are racist....for those not used to my humor, yes that's a joke). On a side note it was quite funny looking at the 'likes' and 'dislikes' for two of my videos. The Tier VII Chinese light preview, in which I said the tank was good, only got something like one dislike. The Tier VI light review in which I said I didn't like the tank had almost more dislikes than likes. Same video (production values, narrator, etc), different opinions. Ahh well, the mind of the You Tube commenter is not to be understood I guess.

So back to the channel and the 8.4 update. I'm likely going to mess about but I'm not sure I'll get any videos out. So far the British TD's are juggernauts and I will be grabbing at least the Tier 5 and/or 6 one. 200 armor in those tiers? Yes please! I'll take a double dose of overpowered lol armor until they nerf it.... likely after we've spent enough money on free experience. They'd best nerf that bloody Russian artillery-on-wheels (Tier 6 TD) as well. It hits a ton and is capable of one-shotting loads of tanks. Sigh, do you remember when premium tanks were NOT as good as regular tanks and the only draw was they earned more credits? What ever happend to that I wonder? Oh ya, power creep and corporate greed.

So you see the endless parade of 'new' tanks to grind has resulted in me getting a bit bored with it all. I never much liked grinding and since that's all they seem determined to offer (more tanks to grind vs. new things to do) I'm getting a bit 'meh'. There are so many tanks now that they are just basically new skins- somewhere there is a tank which fulfills the role of the 'new' ones so why bother? Cromwell, E8...Tortoise, T95..Chinese Tree, Russian Tree.... yawn. At the very least it puts me in a 'mood' which should result in some humorous videos.

I am going to use the free gold to check out a few premium tanks (IS6, Lowe) that I've not tried before and play some Tier 10's just for fun. I usually only preview Tier 8 and below because that's what I play but this time around I'll have some fun with the big boys! If there's anything you'd like to see, let me know and I'll try to get a video up. In the meantime the next Two Battle Tuesday is almost ready.... I'm uploading it now and it will be ready for tomorrow.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

World of Tanks: The E50 Stealth Nerf. Caught in the Act

I have to say I'm quite upset. Not because I care about the E50 all that much, but because as a paying customer I hate being tricked or lied to. For all the years I've been playing World of Tanks I never believed in 'stealth nerfs'. Sure their patch notes suck, but actual stealth nerfs? I thought maybe, at best, they were lazy, but not deceptive. Unfortunately this was confirmed over the last couple days and though has indicated they will change the gun depression back, it still irks me.

Two words: War Thunder.

You have some competition now Wargaming so you'd best start listening to your community.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fortuitous Friday: Back To The Grind

Well, well, well. Guess who's back at work, earning a living for his family like a sucker? That's right, it's me! My paternity leave has come to an end and I'm back to the 'ole Gas, Break, Honk, Honk, Gas Break routine. Who invented this 'work' and why, in God's name, do we participate in it? Oh, yea, money....

I am back and though, as I expected, the first week has been somewhat of a slap in the face it's not too bad. I remind myself that I am extremely fortunate to have had the time off in the first place, and doubly so that I can return and provide for my entire family on the single wage that I earn. Not everyone is so lucky, and for a good many years neither was I. In fact, in the last 6 years I have spent more time unemployed than employed so it's not always been the limo and champagne lifestyle I now enjoy (or at leat the Nissan and moderately-priced wine on a Friday lifestyle I actually have).

I realize now that there must be a good number of men today, and indeed in days gone by, that are like me in that they would rather stay home with the baby(s) than work. My job is rewarding on many levels but yet, if given the choice, I'd stay home. My frequent encounters with unemployment have rather forced me, over the last few years, to look at things a bit differently and all that time alone does lend rather well to some serious introspection.

I have found myself in a variety of roles over the years (both professionally and personally) and learned that I have an uncanny knack for blending in. I've mentioned this before, but for instance when I was living in Ireland everyone thought I was Irish. Accent, manneurisms, etc all changed to the point that folks from my own home city in Canada (where I lived for 13 years) didn't believe I was Canadian and when I told Irish people I was Canadian they were a bit shocked. I sitll use "Y'all" once in a while from my time in Texas (but I never, ever refer to a bag as a sack- that's just wrong).

Right, so- is there a point? Nope. Not on Friday, sorry, it's just one loooooong ramble. Oooh, and speaking of Ireland, everything is booked for the trip back. Planes, cars, ferries- it's all set. We've had to do some serious budgeting to make it happen, and have slashed our days away from 14 to 10 (not much of a slash really, more of a trim) but I will still get some time to slip away on my own (awww, so sorry in-laws in miserable 'ole Scotland, no visit from me this time) to see friends down South (the Republic of Ireland, not Arkansas). See what I mean about being lucky? "Hey boss, I'm back, thanks very much for the 9 months off, now I'm off to Ireland and need two weeks holidays. Cheeers."

In this case the grind isn't so bad is it?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gnomoria Video Series Continues

Wow... I'm simply running out of time to do the videos, upload them, update the various forums, AND post the videos here. Somethings gotta give. For now, here are three more in the Gnomoria series:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Surviving Gnomoria: Seal Yourself In

February, 2013 Update: Due to the interest in this post I have turned it into a You Tube video series. Thanks for visiting and be sure to check out my videos!

2013-02-26. ARRRRRRGGGGG. This no longer works the way it is described below. I'm doing a follow up video shortly.

Welcome to my Gnomoria series! I should say 'finally' because I've been wanting to do this one for a while. Since my first post on Gnomoria I have been playing a couple hours daily and have finally managed to make my Kingdom thriving and successful. As Gnomoria is a sandbox success, of course, will be up to you to determine. I no longer have to worry about the basics like food and drink (I have so much food and drink that I have suspended all my farms, slaughtered most of my animals, and usually give 2,000 milk away to the merchant each season just to free up storage space) and it's been ages since my soldiers have taken any casualties from Goblin raiders.

I am currently in my fifth year and my population is around 43. Three of those Gnomes are War Vets who have lost legs to Goblin raiders, so they're productivity isn't as high as the others but, hey, I take care of my vets. I like a bit of role-playing in this game, and it is one of the few I have played that seems to stir my imagination in this way. Normally I'd simply wall the crippled buggers up in their room and wait for them to die of thirst so that at the start of the season some healthy ones would take their place. Not so in Gnomoria!

Overall this is a great little Kingdom Management game that is still in Alpha. Since I paid the paltry sum of $8 to play there has been an update every week but one (usually on Tuesday's). I have also played at least two hours a day so no matter what becomes of it, I have definitely had my money's worth. If you're not familiar with the game, check out my initial post for a brief introduction (note that the corrupt save bug I mentioned in my second post has been fixed).

If you read me regularly you'll know I don't recommend games very often (as they all seem to disappoint me in some way) but this is one that I heartily recommend. In most management games once you find that magical balance between food, storage, production and population, the game loses it's challenge. In Gnomoria the Minecraft like feature to shape the world around you one square at a time, and build anything you like, keeps it fresh. I have no worries at the moment about food, drink, or defense, so I focus on building and exploring the 100 levels beneath me for precious metals, gems, and stone to build with. That's my version of success.

This series is not going to focus on my Kingdom, per se, but rather will offer a few tips and strategies to get you up and running. As I do, I will of course show off my Kingdom, and would love to hear tips from any Grizzled Gnomoria vets who stumble across these posts.You can get the game here.

Surviving Gnomoria #1: Seal Yourself In (With Food and Water).

So you're staring at those nine little Gnomes who have turned to you for guidance in this unfamiliar, hostile place. Two Yaks graze contentedly in the distance but are starting to wander slowly away. You have a couple axes, some picks, and one set of soldier's gear in addition to some cotton and wheat seeds. Now what the hell do you do?

I have found that you have at least a season to get things in order before the Goblin scouts begin to probe your defences so don't panic. You have plenty of time to get things secured. The most important, and basic, thing to know is that if the enemy can't reach you, they can't kill you. Simple as it sounds I've seen several 'let's play' on You Tube where the players are needlessly fighting Goblins early in the game. Trust me, later you'll be farming those Goblins for the iron bars they drop, but for now, you don't need the hassle.

The spot you choose to seal yourself in to is quite important to your survival. You will need access to apple trees to supplement your food for at least the first year. Remember that nothing grows in the winter and the merchant won't visit so you'll be on your own.You should also try to ensure there is an accessible source of water and build a well. I lost my second kingdom to starvation and thirst so I know of what I speak! I always looks for a grove of apple trees on a flat area at the base of a hill or mountain. In this game I didn't choose a towering mountain as my base, and the topography of the area is rather unspectacular. Later you can choose to make a more dramatic, awe-inspiring entrance, but for now worry about the basics.

Eventually you can make things look nicer and claim more of the surrounding land.

You don't need to build a lot of walls to be safe. You will see in the photo below that I only built a short wall. Use the 'remove ramps' action command (in the dig menu) to create a secure compound. Goblins (and Gnomes) can't get down from one level to another unless there is a ramp, or stairs, so by doing this you create a quick and very secure area where you will be safe.

Keep in mind that on the 1st of every season you will have to remove a section of wall (or build a ramp) to let the Gnomads who wish to join your kingdom in. You will also need to let the Merchant in on the 5th, and let him leave on the 7th (except, as I said, in the winter when the merchant doesn't come). After the second season or so I recommend having at least one military squad (even if there is only one soldier) stationed there during this time. You can do this by creating a guard station and assigning them to it.

Here I am sealed in by the water to the left, the wall on the bottom, and the rest of the area (highlighted in red) through the 'remove ramp' command.

Before you close yourself up completely ensure that you have created a pasture and your two yaks are in it. Also ensure you've created a storage area for your seeds, weapons, cotton, etc that you started with so your Gnomes will bring them close. For now don't worry about setting up a place to keep bodies. You shouldn't be losing any Gnomes and if you do, a corpse or two won't matter to the Kingdom's overall morale. By using this strategy (sealing yourself in) all your Goblin enemy's will eventually die of thirst (as they can't get to you to be killed) and when you open your kingdom up to let Gnomads or merchants in, your industrious Gnomes will rush off to get those bodies. It is extremely likely they will be set upon by Goblins in the wild and be killed! Keep it simple, and safe, and your kingdom will be off to a great start.

Next time I will look at how to ensure you have enough food and drink for years to come with proper Yak management and a little pre-planning.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Omerta City of Gangsters: Let's (Not) Play

I was all pumped up to do a let's play of this game, but then I had to go ahead and ruin that idea by actually playing it. It's not that it's a bad game (yes it is) it's just that it can be frightfully dull in places and the tactical combat isn't very good (it's worse than that). Those who are saying it is 'like X-Com' need to be dragged out and beaten with an actual strategy game (I recommend Battle Isle just so I can get in an obscure reference) until they relent and admit they are very, very wrong. Omerta is 'like' X-Com in the way that Chess is 'like' Monopoly because they are both played on boards. If you're not sure what Chess is, but love Monopoly, then shut the PC down and never, ever read my blog again.

Is this what those of us who love actual strategy games have descended to? Is this a product of the 'consolation' of gaming? X-Com isn't even that bloody good and here I am using it as the marker by which to compare another (tactically) inferior game. Is thinking that much of a niche market? Is no one willing to make a game that requires us to do more than click stuff?

My first impressions of the game, then, are not great. It doesn't have a lot of depth and I find myself plowing through the single-player campaign desperately waiting for the easy tutorial-like bit to end (and it actually did over three mission ago). I looked at Sandbox mode but there is literally nothing to do: there is no AI competing against you so it's just you in that Sandbox. Multi-player hopes were also dashed when I found you don't actually compete to take over the city, you just play some of the 'tactical' combat missions against each other. Once you've seen these battles you'll know why that isn't really a good thing.

There are times when there is literally nothing to do and the fact that they didn't include a 'speed time' feature is mind-boggling. Near the end of one mission I actually left, made tea, played with my dogs, and when I came back I had 'won'. Needless to say I don't think this will lend well to a let's play video series (unless you like staring at nothing much while listening to me sip tea and throw a ball for my dogs though given some of the viral videos on You Tube that may be my first big hit). There are some Let's Plays of OMerta up on You Tube if you are interested but one of them won't be from me. I'm not an especially chatty guy and really don't think I could make such a series interesting. I will be doing a video review instead and maybe looking at the Sandbox feature as it does (despite the lack of any real opposition) highlight the main features of the game.

Oh, and while I'm ranting when you have the voice actor in the opening scene say 'Here I am in America, fresh off the boat' at least bloody well use a NON American actor or PLEASE have him fake an accent of some kind fer feck sake (see, not that bloody hard). You had all sorts of people pulling shitty Irish accents after that scene, why not one more? I especially like the one where the Irishman says he wants to change his life by buying beer and opening a pub. He's IRISH for feck sake, that's not much of a change, now is it? Anyway, rant over.

I still feel the need to expand my video offerings for both my own sanity, and that of potential viewers. I like WoT, but variety is nice. War Thunder, of course, looms large and many WoT You Tubers are overloading that particular band-wagon to the point of overflowing. I've never been much for following the crowd and the game, ultimately, doesn't compel me like WoT does. Once they add land and sea units I'm definitely interested but until then I will merely dabble. Maybe I'll do a 'ramming' series as that seems to annoy the crap out of the die-hards.

As for my next video offering I think I'll go back to a game I've neglected over the last few months: Gnomoria. My short post on Gnomoria remains my most visited post and I still get a hundred or so views a week on that so it seems there is some interest. It's also a game I like, and it is miles away from WoT so it will offer me a mental break.

I will likely be doing a few hours worth of play- nothing too crazy- just checking out the new crafting and monsters and providing some tips on getting started. If you don't know what Gnomoria is I like to describe it as a cross between Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft. It it is a Sandbox Village Management game with a top-down view and the ability to change every hex in the game (hence the mine-craft reference). And Gnomes, of course.

For my video channel groupies, er subscribers, I will have a channel update video and some new WoT content out over the next couple of days.