Archive for February, 2011
This isn’t one of my usual high-faluten concept posts. It’s pretty simple, for me at least. I’d like to ask MMO developers to give us the option of stopping XP gain on the fly. I know Everquest II allows us to do this, and I’m pretty sure others do as well, but I’d like to see it become an option in more games.
This weekend was the head-start of Rift, which I’m sure I need not tell you. I managed to score a run through Iron Tomb, but while I was trying to board a train for that station, I was once again thinking of level-based systems. In this case, level-based systems and guilds.
People join guilds for many reasons, but one shared by all is certainly to have a pool of people to run content with. Ideally, guild members are all friendly with one another, interact frequently, and are accommodating with requests for aid. The problem is that people play with differing frequency, and so levels are all over the board. This makes widespread guild activity difficult. It makes finding guild-mates who are level-appropriate even more difficult.
The solution for many people is to roll alts. They’ll keep a stable of alts available to run with different groups, but the problem is that alts will also level as they complete content. A potentially decent solution to this would be to allow players to freeze XP gain on a per-character basis. They could run level-appropriate content forever with the same character, and not have to repeat the proceeding content again and again just to ensure that they always have level-appropriate character for certain content. Should they decide that they want to move that alt up in level, they could turn XP back on, and move on to the next tier.
!!ANOTHER IMPORTANT UPDATE!!
So I was checking my other email account, and I saw that I had received an email from Chris Remo at Irrational. He had seen our intent to gather at MJ O’Connor’s and wanted to let me know that they actually have the bar booked until 11 PM.
However, he suggested we try the City Bar, which he said is literally on the other side of the wall from MJ O’Connors, but with a different entrance.
I apologize for this rat-race. Space is at a premium on the waterfront and despite it being a convention center, there’s not a lot of places to go. Companies seem to have reserved space, and who can blame them? We’re an informal gathering, so we’re at the mercy of whatever we can scrounge.
So we’ll try for the City Bar, same PAX time, same PAX channel. As always, keep an eye on the #PAXEastTweetup11 tag for up to date info.
Part of the excitement of PAX is getting to meet and hang out with people in the gaming industry. Part of the pain of PAX is finding out that some jerk’s “official event” might interfere with your ad hoc meetup.
I just found that Irrational Games is holding a party at the same bar that we’ve co-opted, on the same night, and is invite-only. However, their event runs from 7-9, and our tweet-up is scheduled for 9.
As of right now (or…NOW!…or…NOW!) we’ll hold on to that 9 PM timeslot. I assume they’ve cleared their event with the ownership, and have it UNTIL 9, at which the instance will unlock and we can start our own run.
Keep an eye on the hashtag #paxeasttweetup11 for any potential changes and updates, and thanks for your understanding.
Lo! PAX East is nigh! Although not quite nigh enough. Thankfully we still have time to prepare.
@pasmith has been working to track down some locations nearby the convention center to have a Tweet-Up for those attending PAX East.
Here’s the info!
- We’re looking to meet at MJ O’Connor’s, an Irish pub located inside the Weston attached to the convention center. Many people will be staying at the Weston, it’s attached to the convention center for easy access, and it’s also central to other hotels that people may be staying at.
- It was decided that Saturday night would be the night, and 9PM would be the time. There’s a few panels which run late, and there’s night 2 of the concert series, but Friday seemed to be the more “action packed” night for other things to do
Feel free to leave your comments here if you’ll be planning to attend. Obviously it’s a “fall in, fall out” kind of thing, but we’d like to see who we all get to see before we see you (and who we can keep an eye out for)!
We’ll try to kick this out using the hash-tag #paxeasttweetup11 (for want of a descriptive tag), so feel free to use it!
See you in Boston!
I thought this was going to fly under the radar, but apparently it’s only just begun.
The Dead Island trailer. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it…well, life is about choices, and you’ll have one to make.
It’s difficult for me to talk about this trailer; really, I don’t even want to think of it. After watching it — something which I realized I should stop doing about one minute into it — I was angry. Angry and terrified. For those who don’t want to view the trailer (meaning those who are still here, because I’m not linking it or embedding it), here’s the short: The trailer plays backwards, starting with an image of a young girl — maybe 10 years old — lying in the grass. Her face is bloodied, and in the background, a man is dancing around while engulfed in flames. The trailer then proceeds to work backwards. We see the girl fly upwards, and back through a plate-glass window which re-forms behind her. The ensuing narrative paints an incredibly grizzly picture: a husband, wife and their young daughter are vacationing on an idyllic island paradise. We eventually see video of them enjoying themselves as they arrive at their hotel, including a family snapshot of the start of their vacation. But the trailer itself is focused on one singular event: the young girl, running for her life down a long corridor of the hotel, chased by zombies. Just as she reaches the door, her father reaches out to her, but it’s too late. She’s been infected, and the other zombies fight their way into the hotel room. It’s the father himself who throws his zombified daughter out the window as the other undead tear the family to pieces.
MVC and Destructioid have dueling opinions on this trailer. MVC’s editorial believes that the developers have gone too far with this trailer by making violence towards children to the focal point of the trailer in a move that was planned to evoke strong emotions. Destructiod praises the developers for having the balls to tackle taboos and to elevate the industry to a level which movies and books have enjoyed for a while. I have to side with MVC, however, for a few reasons. First, they point out that the trailer is nothing more than sensationalism. There’ s no gameplay shown, no purpose except to get people talking about the trailer. When we hear about “yet another zombie game” later on, we’ll remember Dead Island as the game “with the little girl zombie” and it’ll stick emotionally. It won’t be a memory based on kick-ass gameplay, unique settings or original mechanics. Instead, it’ll be a bait and switch. They hooked us with the horror of violence against children, and will be delivering gawd knows what. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m guessing it’s a Left 4 Dead meets Dead Rising zombie basher. In otherwords, B-list material that would otherwise end up in the bargain bin.
Destructoid’s position itself makes me sad:
Parfitt [author of the MVC article] argues that we need to choose our battles carefully, that we should be more selective when it comes to defending videogame controversy. The implication is that this is one thing we should not defend, and I completely, utterly disagree. This is exactly the kind of stuff we should be encouraging from the videogame industry. Something with some bloody spine.
I can understand the underlying point: movies and music and books get away with elements that the games industry is frequently called out for, and the industry needs to show that it can — tastefully and powerfully — compete on a level that’s more then just blowing shit up and creating big-breasted mascots. The video game industry needs to prove that it, too, can pump out real, serious, mature content that is intended to be consumed by thoughtful, mature gamers.
Some comments from these articles:
I hope everyone offended by things dies, then burns in a hell worse than those Freddy Krueger brought about in the Final Nightmare.
Also who does this “offend” Parents of children bitten by zombies? Rabies victims? Parents of children who have fallen out of a window?
THOSE FUCKING FAGGOTS
GET OVER IT
It makes sense that the video game industry wants itself to be taken seriously. There’s a lot riding on it, for legitimacy, to get people like Fox News off it’s back, and to be seen a peers of more respected media, and not as kids toys or the sole domain of nerds and anti-social losers. A lot of people in the industry remember how it was when the video game industry really was the sole domain of nerds and anti-social losers, and want to prove that it’s come a long way since then and that it deserves to be taken seriously. The problem is, many of the consumers aren’t smart enough to really help, and that’s a sad footnote to any attempt to further the respect.
I am not a fan of censorship, so I can’t say that this trailer should not be shown. I’m opposed to it for two reasons: first, it’s obviously an emotional gut-punch designed specifically to mask a product which will probably be otherwise lackluster, and second, I have a 10-year-old daughter. When I saw this trailer, I became so terrified and so enraged that I started to scream and cry. Zombies aren’t real, but what it did was evoke a feeling in me of my own daughter in peril, what lengths I would go to save her, and the ultimate feeling of utter failure I would feel if I had to watch something horrific happen to her that I was powerless to prevent. I’m not trying to draw a line between those with kids and those without, but I do realize that since becoming a father, there are things in this world that used to not bother me at all, that now bother me a great deal. In other words, it’s not the zombies, it’s the thought of losing my little girl to circumstances beyond my control.
So yes, the trailer worked on me. It evoked feelings that no other trailer has ever done. But it also galvanized me: I won’t be playing this game ever, nor will I ever buy any game created by these developers. They can push whatever bounds they feel they must, and tell people whatever they want them to believe, but I’m not going to support anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to manipulate someone in order to sell a fucking video game. I think that by creating such a potentially polarizing trailer, they’ve also drawn a battle line that has caused the consumer to self-align. This doesn’t help Destructoid’s point that the trailer is good for the gaming industry when its other supporters are such douchebags.
I’m sitting in Rift right now as I write this, consuming the last vestiges of the “beta” test before the servers go dark prior to the head-start event at the end of the week. I just learned that the beta client will not be usable for the head-start. We’ll have to download a whole new client, so hopefully we’ll be able to get that downloaded, installed and patched before the doors open.
I’ve thrown my lot in with the Multiplaying.net guild Circle of Trust, and we’ll be rolling Defiant on whatever PvE-RP server is taking the place of Faeblight. Server names haven’t yet been announced, which is really the only missing piece of the puzzle.
Meanwhile, I’m working on the Guardian side during my twilight years of beta. Once I got out of the starting zone, the Guardians have started to grow on me. The Argent Glade zone is absolutely beautiful, and the rifts here are different then the death and water rifts I’m used to on the Defiant side.
I’m sitting here, at 10:30 PM, 3 hours after having had my power restored due to some epic winds, and I’m waiting. Again. This time, it’s for Magic: The Gathering Tactics to connect. It’s been a while since I’ve fired this up, and while I wait…and wait…and stare at the rotating icon and the word “Connecting”, I wait some more. I wonder if the game shut down, and I wasn’t informed. It wouldn’t be unheard of, for a game to go into the night, quietly or otherwise, but how can I know? How can I gauge the health of any game I choose to play? And I mean really gauge, not just based on swagger and innuendo that spews from the forums.
Sadly, I don’t think we can, because of Business. Notice the capital “B”. That symbolizes that there’s certain aspects, ley-lines of power, rituals and immutable dogma that shall not be violated when a product is rolled out to the masses. MMOers know this cant by heart: “We don’t discuss numbers”, whether those are subscriber headcounts, active players, or profit margins. We’re purposefully left in the dark, but we often times crave these figures because we feel that knowing them will give us power: power to decide if the game is healthy or not healthy, worth our time, or an indication that the rats are fleeing the ship.
But what businesses really divulges intimate numbers? We can formulate why we don’t have them: they’d give competitors a target to shoot at, or maybe the operators know full well that numbers, even given in plain English context, will be used against them by the very people who they’d hand them over to. Businesses – and we’re talking Business, which gaming really is – are bound by the laws of business, both on the books and unspoken, to keep us in the dark. It’s not malice, and some could argue that it really is for our own good, but it still leaves us unsettled. It’s all in the name of Business, which we need to accept if we want more of these products in the future. Still, no one wants to bet on a horse where the odds are purposefully being obfuscated on us.
Thankfully, my launcher has booted up, and it’s time to get to playing. At least for now.
I heard about Xtranormal.com this afternoon while eating lunch and listening to the radio while my dog sat nearby, wishing he had some toaster waffles. The news story was about how people were using Xtranormal movies to express criticism, anger, and to engage people who are normally too “on edge” to enjoy a normally civilized discourse on a particular subject. That’s why silliness is employed.
Of course, being a gaming centric blog, and remembering an earlier idea of reading forum posts out loud in a dramatic fashion, I thought that a mash-up of the two concepts might work. Or it might blow up. I knew straight where to go for the most absurd, inflammatory posts in gamerdom: the World of Warcraft forums.
[gigya src="http://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/jwplayer.swf" width="499" height="301" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="height=301&width=499&file=http://newvideos.xtranormal.com/web_final_lo/c8e7c672-3ac2-11e0-ad45-003048d6740d_8.mp4&image=http://newvideos.xtranormal.com/web_final_lo/c8e7c672-3ac2-11e0-ad45-003048d6740d_8.jpg&link=http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/11170440&searchbar=false&autostart=false"]
The original post can be found at http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2089112070.
Let me know what you think of this format? Humorous? Chuckle-evoking? Rock stupid?
Here’s an interesting situation.
If you were gaming in the mid 90’s there’s a good chance you’ll have fond remembrances of You Don’t Know Jack, a computer game (and then website) of asinine questions and smartass answers that really didn’t give a shit if you thought you were Jeopardy! material or not (and if you failed at YDKJ, you certainly weren’t). Well, as is the wont in today’s green society, YDKJ has been re-released in 2011! This time, consoleers can partake in the fun that is making you feel stupid with deceptively complex questions.
But there’s something amiss. The console version of the game is $29.99. The PC version is $19.99. OK, you can download the PC version from Impulse or Steam, but the console version is physical media (why, I have no idea). But wait…the console version allows for up to four players, locally or remotely. The PC only allows two, and only locally. What? Far more people have PC’s connected to the Internet (!) then consoles, and considering the ass-hats that populate the online console space, this seems quite backwards to me. Plus, the console versions have more content, and additional DLC already. No word on DLC for the PC version.
But I guess in some respects, the focus on multiplayer for the console version illuminates the fact that it’s easier to sit down and actually get four people around a TV, while that’s almost impossible on a standard PC. Still, allowing for two player local, four remote on the PC seems like a logical choice, and is so much more conspicuous for it’s absence. Was the ball dropped, or is the PC version just getting the plain old shaft?
All the cool kids podcast. It’s an extra mile to go beyond the blog. To me, it seems more immediate, more interactive, and more technically challenging then writing a static post and then trying to respond to comments in a timely manner while the topic is still…topical.
So I’m considering a Levelcapped podcast. I’ve actually been “considering” it for some time, but was stymied by a few participatory hurdles. First, it started off as a video cast, complete with a green screen (which I have), HD video (which I have) and editing software to pull it all together (which I have). What I didn’t have was a crew that wanted to do it as badly as I did. So it was back to the pure audio route. The problem was, I didn’t want to do a traditional ‘cast. I wasn’t sure what, until I started thinking about what I could do as a one man show. Then I realized that I might not have to…
The basic premise that I’m working on is this:
- We’ll come up with a burning hot topic (or two) for the ‘cast, and we’ll post it here on the Levelcapped website. Comments will be closed, but we encourage people to build up a head of steam over the topic because…
- When it comes time to actually record the ‘cast, we want you to call in and be part of the panel. We’ll take a certain number of callers (how we do that has yet to be decided) to be the participants in the week’s recording. If you don’t make the cut, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to participate because…
- The ‘cast will be streamed live on LevelcappedTV. You can listen live, in real-time, and we’ll take your questions and comments to keep the conversation rolling. But live events aren’t for everyone, so…
- We’ll be recording the process for polishing, and will make it available through the more fashionable podcasting outlets for consumption at your leisure.
I’m still working out the process with the help of the other NHGU folks. We need to run a few feasibility and technical tests, and we’ll be reporting back once we have more data on whether or not we can pull it off to our — and more importantly, your — discriminating satisfaction.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to leave some comments here with podcasting experience, ideas, or caveats, any and all input will be more than appreciated.
Tim Schaefer is supposedly a “funny guy”. He’s got a massive resume of games that incorporate humor, and are as known for their levity as they are for their plot or mechanics. In a recent interview with CVG, Schaefer talked about the lack of humor in the game space, placing the blame squarely at the feet of censorship. We’re used to games that blow stuff up, slash stuff, shoot stuff and even race stuff, but the layer of laugh out loud humor has been lost somewhere along the line.
I can’t really recall a time that I was unable to continue a game because I was laughing too hard. I’ve snorted, guffawed and certainly smirked, but I’ve never had a moment in a game that compares to the time I had to pause Pulp Fiction during Christopher Walken’s segment because I was laughing too hard to breathe. Is it even possible for games to summon humor on that level?
Should they is more to the point. We don’t all play games to laugh or cry or get angry (in multiplayer games, the part of the angry spark is usually played by other gamers). Many of us play for the mechanics, the achievements and on some level, a visceral experience that is more base then the emotions listed above. If we find a segment that makes us chuckle or remorseful, then it’s like a welcome surprise. If we expect the whole game to be this way, then it loses it’s overall emotional punch.
Would a rise in the “no holds barred” comedic video game be something that would be welcome in the community, or is humor so subjective to make even trying to make a truly comedic game a fool’s errand?