Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Long Time No Blog

So it's been a while. Approximately 21 Months since my last post. And since then I have stopped playing Eve Online. I've gone through a lot of different gaming phases, but recently I'm riding the hype wave of Battlefield 3 (BF3). Having played, "Battlefield 1942", the "Road to Roam" expansion pack, the "Secret Weapons of WWII" expansion pack, "Battlefield Vietnam", "Battlefield 2", the "Special Forces expansion pack", the "Euro Force" expansion pack, the "Armored Fury" expansion pack, "Battlefield 2142", "Battlefield Heroes", "Battlefield Bad Company 2", "Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam" expansion pack, and "Battlefield Play4Free" I consider myself somewhat of an expert of the Battlefield franchise. (takes a breath)

Also since my last post there has been an explosion of eSports in the US with the launch of Starcraft 2. Youtube match commentators such as Husky Starcraft, Day[9] and HDstarcraft have made careers for themselves by casting professional level StarCraft matches on their Youtube channels.

Now it is my hope that BF3 will be able to benefit from the Starcraft 2 eSport wave and make a few waves of it's own. MLG (major league gaming) has recently accepted BF3 into its rank of competitive games, which is a great sign for BF3 and the community of FPS gamers. It's is my hope to carve out my own niche in the world of BF3 blogging and youtubing. I'm pretty darn good, I plan on getting better and because competitive gaming is becoming so popular I believe people will want tutorials on how to take their game to the next level.

So without further Ado, here is one of my first entries into battlefield Youtube content.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Gamers Do In Their Down Time

I know I've been fairly lax with the game blogging lately but I promise it's for good reason. As long as you count 'building a lego castle' a good reason..

There may also be a lego space station in works. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Scanning - Repetitive Nonsense

With the release of Eve's new solar-sail spaceship the "Zephyr", CCP decided it was time to release its first scanning tutorial video on youtube. It just so happened that I recently bought my first scanning ship and was relieved to find a video tutorial explaining how this system probing would work.

Although the video is able to elegantly explain the process of scanning, I find myself perplexed as to why the process of scanning is so repetitive and inefficiently designed. So here we are, a race of immortal space travelers, flying ships that we control with our minds, able to operate space weaponry so advanced that we can hit moving targets hundreds of kilometers away with bullets.. But when it comes to arranging the layout of our scanning probes we are force to engage in a painful drag and drop interface that can take quite a while to produce any results.

But here's the thing.. I lied, I do get it. I get why CCP designed scanning this way. Eve is a game of elitists. Nothing is easy, and if you want to partake in activities that the big boys are doing you're going to have to climb that learning curve no matter what.

This mentality works great with some things. PvP for example, has a fairly brutal learning curve thats provides great rewards once skill is achieved. However, the learning curve and difficulty exists within a world that makes technological and tactical sense. You have to learn how to think like your opponents, study ship modules, and setup ships to perforce specific tasks extremely well.

Scanning on the other hand takes a long time, often produces no rewards, and gives you no good reason as to why its interface is built upon ancient technology.

If there is a single best formation for probes when scanning down targets then make them assume this formation automatically, or give me a button to put them into formation. Why the EFF do I have to put them into formation manually every time.. Also if we know that the formation must shrink every time we reduce the scanning range why can we just scale the formation down instead of dragging it into the same formation all over again?..

This isn't fun CCP, it's busy work. As if there aren't enough things in this game that take a ridiculous amount of time. Now you have given us scanning that isn't fun and takes forever to produce any results. If you're going to make something difficult, then make it difficult because of thought required to master it, rather than giving it a sluggish interface.. Gawd!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


'Epic' was the only word I could mutter as the Avatar credits rolled. Cameron has out done himself this time. Hell, he's out done Peter Jackson, George Lucas, and any other film maker that has tried to create a totally immense fantasy world on the big screen.

Using Cameron's amazing new 3D techniques this film is the most visually stunning thing since Jurrasic Park. You know how Disney always throws around the term 'magical' when describing the feelings evoked from their fantasy worlds? Well Avatar is this kind of magical, except you don't have to be twelve to let the beauty and wonder overtake your imagination.

The planet of Panadora, where Cameron's sci-fi adventure takes place, is so detailed, so well thought out, that it immediately sucks you into the reality of the world. The plants, the creatures, and the science are all so realistic that I found myself theorizing evolutionary paths that each creature could have taken. I felt like I had become a xeno-biologist and was greatly disappointed when the film ended and I had to come back to the reality that none of these wonderful things existed.

After leaving the theater I attempted my 'usual find what was wrong with the this film' routine and found myself at a loss. The acting was flawless, and the intensity of each character's situation was so involved that I was never pulled away from the mindset that all of these things were actually happening.

Perhaps one of the biggest risks of the film was having many of the main characters being entirely computer graphics. However technology prevailed and the new facial animation techniques that Cameron used was so emotive that there was no question as to weather or not the Na'vi were real. You will feel for them, just as if not more deeply than the human presence of the film. Granted the majority of the humans aren't very nice to begin with.

The story is the one grey area of the film that I see many critics poking at. It's not that the story is poorly written but rather that it's a familiar one. As has occured throughout human history, more "advanced" cultures have imposed themselves on weaker cultures to take and exploit what they have. Same is the situation of Avatar and although predictable in the outcome of events how they get there is what makes the adventure truely amazing.

I had no problems with the story of the film. It's a good adventure story that allowed the audience to learn and discover about an alien culture with the same fascination of the main character. That is what is truly amazing about this film; it's ability to throw the audience into something so alien, and at the same time build an emotional bond so intense with the world of Pandora that you will be on the edge of your seat when the Na'vi are fighting to save it.

Go see this movie.. (in 3D)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Latest Events in Eve and Modern Warfare

Well I finally made the move to low-sec in Eve. Went on a roam and learned a bit about the rules of roaming and basic pvp combat. I almost got killed by some gate campers while screwing around by myself, then I got stuck in a warp bubble and actually got killed. At least it forced me to learn techniques for avoiding warp bubbles when in nul-sec. Next on the skill training list is gas mining 5 to rake in some dough from all the gas sites in our area.

Dominion is right around the corner and I haven't even played enough of MW2 and L4D2.

In MW2 I ran into my first cheater. This guy had a lvl 70 account and was continuously shooting everyone through walls. At least some hackers have the brains to try and appear that they aren't cheating, but this guy was being blatant about it. I'm going to add 'cheating' to the long list of why it's better to have dedicated servers, as any admin can just ban the hacker's ip from the server.

Oh well it's just one more reason to give Eve more game time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 - What Has Been Lost

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) is a good game. It’s not revolutionary by any standards, but it’s still the best “tactical” shooter every made. It offers so many game modes that you can virtually re-create the game style of your favorite tactical shooters. From Counter Strike single life matches to Unreal Tournament mayhem, there is a huge variety of gameplay available.

The graphics are nice but not a major leap forward from the Call of Duty 4 (COD4) engine. However, the art is top notch which really creates an enveloping environment. From desert to snowy mountains to suburban United States, each location is rich and realistic enough to suspend belief.

But let’s stop talking about all the things that this game does well. If you played COD4 then you are aware of all the awesome multiplayer offerings that MW2 offers - except for dedicated servers. Now this was the most controversial issue with MW2: People were so much opposed to not having dedicated servers that over 200,000 people signed up to boycott the title.

Regardless of the boycott, and not surprisingly, the title still managed to out sell COD4 in the first weekend of sales. The match-making system that MW2 implemented works, and it works well. I have yet to join a server with a bad ping and not once has a match been canceled due to a host losing connection.

In the event of the host losing connection the match is put on pause and within ten seconds the entire game is switched to another server and gameplay resumes from exactly where it left off. This can offer interesting moments if the match pauses right as you and your opponent make eye contact. Then you are forced to wait and see who is the quickest on the draw when the match resumes.

Still I feel that the game loses something very important by getting rid of dedicated servers. For one, dedicated servers offer specific map rotations and game modes that can be quite agreeable. For example in COD4 I had a server that only did a certain rotation of maps in hardcore mode. I had a specific class designed for this server alone.

With the new match-making system, no longer can I design a class for a specific map as game maps are now randomly chosen, and even though players have the option to vote out of a specific rotation, votes are rarely passed.

However, the specific map rotations are only a minor concern, compared to the most important thing MW2 loses. Dedicated servers offer the ‘usuals’ a chance to get to know the strangers that you fight against. In COD4 I could log onto a favorite server and receive a few hellos from familiar opponents. Perhaps even log into their Ventrilo server and chat with them.

Now when I log into a match I am playing with a group of people who I have never seen before, all with their own stupid little call signs which make them “unique” and recognizable - except for the fact that I am never going to see any of them again. First person shooters do have communities, most of which are formed through familiars playing on dedicated servers. However, because of its match-making system, MW2 has seemingly doomed people to always be playing strangers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The New Corp - Lethal Injection

Well I finally switched corps in Eve. A rl friend invited me to join Lethal Injection, which is the muscle corp for Es and Whizz. Get it, because Es and Whizz is a drug dealing corp and Lethal Injection is the combat corp. Becuase drugs are often injected only our injection is a lethal one... because we kill stuff.. in spaceships.

So I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty in the drug wars of Eve Online. I took my first trip out to low sec in over a year. I know I'm a stinking carebear, but that will change soon! I hope.

The gunnery skills are training up. The cloaks are equipped and the targets are being called. It's about time I changed my Eve life.

Further news: There will be a Modern Warfare 2 review soon. So far I like it, but thats not to say there aren't issues..

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steam Screwed Again

I don't know why I keep purchasing games on steam. Part of me likes the idea of the digital age and I feel that my files are safer if stored online. The environmentalist in me likes the idea of not needing to waste a box, jewel case, and printed manual.

That being said I have had my fair share of steam problems in the past. From being unable to retrieve my account information to every kind of steam related bug you can imagine.

Today, however, I have experienced a whole new kind of being screwed by steam. Today, the 10th of November, was the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The Biggest game of all time blah blah blah...

As always, the developers have a nice hefty patch for everyone to download before they can start playing the game. Considering that there are about 5 million users who are all trying to download this ridiculous patch at the same time, servers are crashing like crazy.

However, if you were 'smart' like myself, you would have fully anticipated this and pre-loaded the game on steam to play it immediately upon release. And it would have worked quite nicely if Infinity Ward hadn't delayed the release of the game to all steam users in order to free up bandwidth for all the other retail @$$hats out there!!

Fook you Infinity Ward. It's not enough that I pre-ordered, pre-installed, and paid $60 for your stinking game? Now you have make me wait longer than everyone else for being a steam user, even though I did exactly what you wished everyone would do, which is pre-install the game to avoid bandwidth problems on launch.

AAaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrgh I hate the world!

- rant over

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Twenty Dollars of Awesome

Well to be honest it was $18 for me because I pre-ordered Shattered Horizon. However for those of you who didn't pre-order Futuremark's astronaut combat title, it will cost you $20. And you will be getting a bargain!

So yes, Futuremark has released their first title. If you're not familiar with Futuremark, they are known for making 3D benchmarking software that many hardware reviewers and system testers use to gauge the performance of their machines. Usually, the test renders some fairly impressive imagery that the imaginative artists have cooked up for the benchmark.

It seems that they got bored with simply writing benchmarking applications and instead created a genre morphing game. Sure Shattered Horizons, or as I call it 'Astronaut Wars', is classified as a first person shooter. However, any shooter fan jumping into this game is going to be taken for a spin (Literally) if they think they can approach it with the same mentality brought to other shooters.

Imagine a world where there is no up or down - a world where your orientation is constantly changing. Now imagine flying through that world at 40 miles per hour with an assault rifle, while you're being shot at by 15 other people who are as disoriented as you.

The control scheme in 'Astronaut Wars' is perfect. In fact it's pretty much exactly what any shooter fan would expect from a standard awsd setup. The only main difference is that when you hold the right mouse button and drag your mouse to either the right or left, you will rotate instead of pan.

The graphics are quite acceptable. The artists have spent a lot of time making space look like space. Everything has a very NASA look to it. There are lots of supporting beams connecting station modules, solar panels, airlocks, etc. If there was such a thing as space marine combat, this game has done a very believable portrayal of both the environments and space suits.

The HUD is very slick and the text that displays across your screen is actually curved along the arc of the visor. There isn't anything to bring you away from the moment. Scores are displayed on your visor, and your options menu is access on your left arms control panel (predator style).

To top off the ambient feeling of space, you have the option to power off your suit's electronics and thrusters. When powered down the suit's sound simulator no longer works, so the only thing you can hear is your own breathing.. and the occasional bullet penetrating your suit if you're not careful. The advantage of going into powered down mode, is that you appear on enemy radar as nothing more than space debris. Since there are already a fair amount of dead astronauts floating through space you can often be mistaken for one.

This is perhaps my favorite way to get behind enemy lines. I like to fire off my boosters to get up to speed and then power down. If I'm lucky I will sail right past the enemy, power back up and begin my sneaky assassination of their squad.

Even though I have great fun playing the game it's not without it's faults. Most of them are technical rather than poor design decisions.

My main issue with the game is the engine. I think it's good for companies to create their own engines.. IF you have the experience and resources to do it right. And for the most part the engine looks fine, except that I can't turn the graphics up beyond the balanced settings without suffering massive frame rate loss. This is with a GTX 295 video card, an Intel quad core CPU, and 8 gigs of ram... On balanced setting the shadows look extremely pixelated and the texturing is nothing to marvel at.

Fine so maybe they pulled a "Crysis" and made a game designed for future computers. That would be fine, except that at maximum graphics settings the visuals are nothing that the Unreal 3 engine couldn't handle and at about 40 frame per second faster. The game also crashes upon exiting, has a laughable stat tracking system, and has a bunch of other little bugs here and there.

My one other gripe with the game is on the design end. The gravity boots that you are equipped with allow you to gravitate to any surface and walk on it. By doing so you can find cool little areas to ambush the enemy and you also gain a slight boost to your weapon's accuracy. The only problem is that when you try to walk around you will loose contact with a surface if it curves too much. This is incredibly annoying and pretty much ruins your ability to walk around at all. This gives the gravity boots no more use than just planting yourself in an area waiting for the enemy. I want to be able to walk around the surface of an asteroid dammit!

That being said, it's a $20 game thats incredibly fun and innovative. The bugs and quirks won't stop or ruin gameplay for anyone. I highly recommend getting the title and getting into this multidimensional space shooter.. Primarily so I can shoot your rocket fuel tank and watch your corpse go careening off into the nearby micrometer storm :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November - A Good Month for Gaming

There are so many quality games coming out this month; it's going to be hard deciding which ones I should play. Maybe if I list them out it will help me decide.

Dragon Age: Origins - Nov 3rd (very hard to pass up a Bioware title these days)

Shattered Horizons - Nov 4th (A sexy looking Zero-G space shooter. For $20 on steam I may have to give this one a try. The graphics look too pretty to pass up.)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Nov 10th (Pass up one of the biggest first person shooter launches ever? I think not.)

Left 4 Dead 2 - Nov 17th (Being a zombie fanatic this baby is already pre-ordered)
Side Note - The new Star Trek movie is coming out on the 17th as well. This day should be a good mixture of zombie guts and phaser blasts.

Assassin's Creed 2 - Nov 20th (Splinter Cell in the Renaissance era? Count me in)

And as if these titles aren't enough to overload any gamer during November, we have Eve Online: Dominion coming out on December 1st.

Did the list help? No, not really...