All the stuff that no one else wanted.
I’ve recently been getting an inordinate amount of spam that’s slipping through the spam filter. For the next few little while, I’m going to turn on comment moderation, just so I can maintain SOME level of decorum around here until I can figure out how to get these scumbags back under control.
If you post a comment and don’t see it immediately, rest assured I’m getting emails on all comments, and I will let you through (assuming you’re not spamming). I’m not interested in the additional work of censoring discussion, and it’s counterproductive to what I like to accomplish around here.
Thanks for reading, and for your understanding during these dark times.
Just an aside: It’s been a while since I’ve updated WordPress here, and the version number is creeping upwards, which means at some point I’ll be out of code for any plugins I have or may want, so I’ll have to bite the bullet and update.
Last time I did this, the whole site was screwed up, so I’m crossing my fingers. But if the site goes to hell…it’s been nice knowing you all!
[Update] Looks like everything went A-OK!
I’m not keeping up with news out of Gamescom this week in a blogging fashion, but I absolutely, positively had to mention this, not because of the game attached, but because this teaser trailer totally blew me away. At the same time, it made me sad this is probably the only bit of animation we’ll get from this story.
Someone make this an animated series!
So I’m working on this browser game. It’s got a cyberpunk theme. I can’t be working on it all the time, and sometimes I want to discuss interesting aspects of the project, or about cyberpunk, it’s theories and implications, and other random yet related items. So I created a new site to house it all!
The Cyberpunk site at Levelcapped is where I’ll be posting a lot of this stuff, since it doesn’t belong here. Some people say that cyberpunk is on the out, but I think it’s only because it’s no longer fiction; we’ve got so many aspects of the core cyberpunk lore in effect in today’s world that the traditional cyberpunk mythos is too close to the truth for comfort. Still, if you’re interested in old-school cyberpunk, be sure to check back once in a while.
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.
I’ve been recently overcome by the urge to produce some kind of video stream for the site. It’s pretty easy to do, these days. There’s a new page here which contains an embedded player from Livestream, a chat box to chat when the stream is live, and an on-demand library selection for when there’s actual videos in the library. I’m going to try to remember to start up the Procaster app whenever playing (and be sure to adjust the audio beforehand).
I’m trying to figure a way to take decent video of our trip to PAX East this year. We had limited video of the event last year, taken with my Kodak tiny-cam, but the damn thing crews through batteries like nobody’s business, and I don’t want to have to carry around a 24 pack of AAs. It’s always my luck that I need to swap the batteries in the middle of whatever event I’m recording.
I’m going to see if I can borrow my father-in-law’s hard-drive HD video camera, but barring that, I may have to resort to the old mag-tape workhorse that I have. It’ll be more difficult to transfer for editing, but I guess it’ll be better then nothing.
As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I’ve decided to re-route Levelcapped.com.
I got the hosting bill this morning, and was shocked — SHOCKED — at the renewal price. They wanted a year’s commitment up front, which is more than I was willing to pay in one lump sum. I’m sure it was cheaper than paying in 1 or 3 month bursts, but there’s a real psychological factor at work, seeing that much cash go out the door. Plus I had to weigh the benefits and costs of hosting my own site: I could customize it to my liking, but I also had to deal with upgrades and such. So in the end, I decided that the benefits weren’t worth the cost, and have initiated the Transfer Protocol.
If you’ve never dealt with actually owning a domain name, consider yourself blessed. It’s gone from a fairly straightforward process of register and renewal to a byzantine affair involving secret handshakes and mind-numbing processes worthy of the greatest secret societies humanity has ever fostered. I had to unlock and un-hide the domain name, then obtain a secret code. The code was passed to the new registrar via duffel bag deposited at a pre-arranged drop point, which was then picked up by the new registrar’s currier and secreted away in some vault buried under a mountain, where it will be housed and re-released sometime in the next 14 days. Meanwhile, I’m driving this ghetto domain around; same engine, but different rims and bourgeois paint-job. Free hosting doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles, but the price is right.
The “official” Levelcapped.com domain will be back soon, so if you manage to see this, know that the levelcapped.wordpress.com domain won’t be the end all, be all, and once the official URL is back, I’ll update the RSS and all that for those of you who are kind enough to subscribe to my humble and long-winded musings.
Thanks for the support.
I frequently use Ultima Online as a poster child for many of the systems that I think should be examined by modern MMO fans when they complain about classes, levels and a lack of “things to do”. While not the first MMO, I regard it as the Granddaddy of the Modern MMO, despite it’s isometric camera. It was a sandboxed, open world, skill based, community driven game which featured housing, boats, mounts and more skills then one player could possibly master on one character.
Still in operation after 12 years, UO is truly the elder game in the MMO genre, but over time it’s had to adapt. it’s gained a tutorial zone and quests, among other things. These and other aspects have brought UO a little bit closer to what more recent additions to the MMO community would recognize as an “MMO”. Because of it’s dated graphics and weird camera choice, few gamers who cut their teeth in Azeroth would even consider taking a side-trip to Britannia.
Since I frequently use UO as an example, I thought it might be fun to revisit the first MMO I ever played (and beta tested, on dial-up, no less) and see how it’s fairs in today’s day and age. Also, I’d like to talk about the systems that UO uses that I remember enjoying 12 years ago. For people who have never played UO, it should be an easy way to stick one’s head in the window without committing to a full blown visit, and for those who have fond memories of the game, a way to either wax nostalgic, or complain bitterly about how much the game has changed in attempts to corral some modern MMO players.
Being a gamer is a choice. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a hobby. It’s a passion. It’s a source of inspiration. It’s also a source of anger.
We live, love, eat, sleep, breath and dream of gaming. Our virtual adventures present us with problems to solve that we fall asleep thinking about, and wake up knowing how to solve.
It’s thanks to the Internet that we’ve found one another, which is something we tend to forget. There are those who are too young to remember the days when talking about video games in public was verboten, lest you be shunned, or even beat up. Believe it or not, there was a time when it was hard to find other gamers. Video games were sold in toy stores, which were the domains of little children, not teenagers or even young adults. If you had a modem, you might find other gamers on a BBS, or if you had a local users group, you might be able to find kindred souls in a church basement or unused library room.
The internet has allowed us to come together at the same time as gaming is maturing. Having expended it’s store of geeks and nerds, the industry turns to the mainstream, pulling the stereotypes of those that decades ago wouldn’t admit to playing video games: the moms, the jocks, the females. Being a gamer now is acceptable, and verily borders on commonplace when shopping meccas like Wal-Mart and Target get their own “exclusive” versions of pre-release titles. Anyone with an Internet connection can jump into the fray, playing online with strangers, talking about their favorite games, and coming together as a community.
But what has brought us together also can push us apart. Differing opinions were never much of a stumbling block in the early days of gaming because there wasn’t enough stock to diversify opinions, and any opinions to be had were rarely heard in large numbers. The Net has opened the doors for people to toss their hat into the ring to express their opinions, and to confront and engage those of differing minds. This freedom can, when executed in a controlled, civil manner, make us all better though exposure to points of view, if we’re willing to accept them on their own terms. When discourse turns to debate, and debate into partisan sniping, we lose what gains the Internet has given us: connections, friends, and solidarity.
If you’re old enough, think back to the times when heated exchanges over video games was impossible because there was no one to have them with. Remember when it was far less socially acceptable to talk about video games because they were considered toys that tethered children indoors and to the television. Remember how much of a relief it was when you did find another gamer that you could talk to about the things that you wanted to talk about, but otherwise couldn’t with the people around you. If you’re not old enough, then try it: unplug for a month. No blogs, no social networking, no news feeds, no digital downloads, no online gaming, no trips to GameStop. Engage your non-gaming friends, family and co-workers in discussions about gaming, and record their reactions, and then pretend that you can’t get out of that loop.
We’re lucky that things have turned out the way that they have, and in a way and at a pace that we never could have imagined back when we enjoyed our gaming in isolation. We can’t take it for granted, though. This hyper-connectivity isn’t a conduit for anger, sarcasm or combat, and shouldn’t be used to isolate ourselves and others behind arbitrary walls of unwavering opinion. We’re all together now, sharing our experiences both good and bad. It’s the kind of togetherness that we wished we had when video gaming was first taking off, and that is something that we should not forget.
Just a footnote: We tend to get into some heated discussions on the net, which is perfectly fine because it signals our passion for the topic, but because it’s all walls of text, it’s often times difficult to really make the exact point that you want to make the way you want to make it and not have it read in a totally different way by people on the other side. It’s unavoidable. The key, then, is to remember that we’re all talking about things that we love, and while we all want to share our enthusiasm, the net is in imperfect vehicle for conducting our excitement and passion. We’ are all very lucky to be able to be able to have these discussions these days, and with the kinds of people we always wanted to have them with.
Our little local gaming group, the New Hampshire Gamers Union (NHGU) usually gets together every other Monday night to invade my house and drink my beer while we laugh our asses off at Minecraft videos. On alternative Mondays, we usually stay home and get together online to play Borderlands or some other cooperative title du jour.
We’ve been relying on Xfire for quite some time as the go-to gathering place. It helps us see who’s online, if they’re already in a game and, more importantly, has provided us with free voice comms. The Xfire vox servers are pretty damned good, but the past two online Mondays, Xfire has booted everyone during our prime time session. I’m not sure if this is Xfire’s new maintenance window, or if there’s general changes afoot now that Xfire is under new management, but the faith I once had in Xfire is quickly waning. I polled the group on their feelings for the service, and most people were really only using it “on demand” on Mondays for the voice. They weren’t using it for chat or game time tracking, and so none of them were really married to the idea of soldiering on under Xfire’s banner.
The key thing we needed was voice. We had used Ventrilo for some time when one of the guys was renting a server, but we didn’t want to have to foot a bill (we’re cheap bastards like that, I guess). We could host a TeamSpeak or Vent server on one of our own machines, but we’re old school, and still covet every bit of our own bandwidth. Steam’s voice chat was OK, but I couldn’t get it to play through my headset while game sounds played through the speakers; it was all or nothing either way. When put to the Hive Mind, a few people suggested we give Skype a try.
Skype isn’t a gaming vox application. There’s no push-to-talk (PTT) feature, for one. There’s no in-game overlay which tells you who’s speaking. The UI is horribly cluttered. But it sounds fantastic. We gave it a shot last night with a few folks who were online, and I think overall people were pleased. The lack of PTT didn’t really manifest itself, except when Mindstrike had to yell upstairs to his wife, but I guess that’s how they get you to buy headsets with mute buttons. Another good thing about Skype is that it incorporates a contact list and IM features. Since most of us were using Xfire strictly for keeping in touch with this group, Skype’s contact list serves that purpose well enough.
It may be that we end up running back to the comfortable bosom of Vent or TS in the end should the overhead or management of Skype be more then people are willing to put up with, but so far it’s a pretty decent solution with great sound and convenient features, even if it’s not specifically used for gaming.