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

AVATAR

'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...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween - From Gruggy

Gruggy is trying on his new Halloween costume and giving Order quite the scare.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

EVE Blog Banter #13 - Epic Battles

Welcome to the thirteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

The first banter of this 2nd year of EVE Blog Banters comes to us from Zargyl from A Sebiestor Scholar, who asked the following: On the EVE Fanfest 2009 page are pictures of prizes for the Silent Auction that was held during the event. One of these photos was entitled “Design your own EVE mission”. My question now would be what kind of mission would you write if you got that prize? What would the mission be about? Would it be one using the new system of epic mission arks? What would be the story told by it? Feel free to expand upon his questions and put together your very own mission!


Let's face it - PVE in Eve sucks, at least when compared to other MMO PVE content. The missions are extremely repetitive, I rarely feel immersed in the story line, the environments are boring, and the objectives are incredibly simple and uninteresting. But how could we change this?


This is something I have been thinking about for a while, and in fact I wrote a tutorial mission in a previous blog that started to scratch the surface of what I want to write about here. So without further ado, lets begin designing a mission.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of story writing so I will keep the story simple and just assume that if this mission were to be created, one of the talented CCP writers would create something far more involved.

Mission name: Operation Kill The Bad Guys (OKBG - let CCP come up with a better name)
Agent Level: 2
Agent Type: Gallente

First thing's first. Accepting the mission would work very much in the same fashion, except that a talking head would appear in a com window. This talking head would represent the commander of OKBG. The commander would deliver a couple of inspirational sentences and then inform the player that he/she would be guiding them throughout the mission. The head would be animated and have actual voice acting rather than just text.

The purpose of this is to facilitate immersion. How often do mercenaries fly off into giant battles after reading a little pamphlet about who to kill? I would imagine, not often. Having a commander's face pop up throughout the mission to give updates on oders (ala Starfox) would be a great way to change mission parameters, remind the player of what they are supposed to do, enhance the sense of realism, and do it all without having to open up another window to read over mission text while you're in combat.

After accepting the mission the player will undock in their usual fashion - hopefully with a cruiser class ship or something adequate to run level 2 missions. The player would also be notified that they need a weber and a scrambler for the mission. The commander window would pop up upon leaving the station saying, head to "these" coordinates. The player would literally be able to click on the word "these" and warp to that location. It is the future after all and one would expect us to have a more refined interface...

Instead of warping into the mission area and being greeted by the usual mass of space with the couple of red targets off in the distance, the player will find themselves right in the middle of a massive Gallente fleet. Carriers, Dreadnoughts, Battleships, and many many supporting ships. What's this you say? We aren't going to take on the whole fleet by ourselves?! That's right, you will be a ship among many NPC ships.

As the mission details are explained with some more briefing from the commander, you will be issued a fleet warp button. Upon clicking "ready", the entire fleet will warp to a new coordinate. When you emerge from warp, you will be greeted by a Caladri fleet of even greater size than your own.

Fighting between the NPCs will break out immediately. Ships will start to explode and that's when your commander shall appear. "I need you to engage and destroy enemy cruiser squadron six". At this point, five Caldari cruisers will be highlighted. They will be flying formation while they snake through the fleet.

Two supporting frigates will join your wings and follow you in pursuit of the enemy cruisers. Upon engaging the cruisers, they will break from their current targets and return fire on you. Your supporting frigates will provide you with armor and shield repairing to a small extent, but for the most part you will be on your own.

After destroying cruiser squadron six your commander will pop in again. "Battleship squadron two is becoming a major problem, we need you to neutralized their engine and warp capabilities while our Moros takes them out". The battleship squadron becomes highlighted and you make your way toward them. As you target and neutralize one, the Dreadnought opens fire and the ship is destroyed. After destroying two of the battleships you are warned that there is an incoming frigate squadron. The cruisers will web you making it difficult to get to the next battleship. You will then be forced to destroy the frigates in between locking down each battleship.

After the battleship squadron is destroyed, the decimated Caldari fleet warp away and your commander will joyously inform you that the mission was a success and that you played a key roll in turning the tide of the battle. You are then credited for completing the mission without having to return to your agent.

I realize this sounds so drastically different from current mission running in Eve but my god it would make them a hell of a lot more entertaining. I hate watching those cinematic trailers of Eve knowing that the game I play will never provide me with visuals like that. Let's take the immersion up a notch and create some truly epic battles for even the low level players to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Patch That Broke The Game

The latest Warhammer Online patch was released back on the 15th, and like everyone else who plays the game, I've been online as much as possible to take advantage of the changes.

The most impactful change that has occurred in 1.3.2 is the removal of forts. For those of you who are not familiar with the layout of Warhammer Online, most of the gameplay is based around realm vs realm combat. Players try to capture realms by taking keeps and battle objectives while assaulting and defending against other players.

In the end game, there are three different racial territories. Each territory is broken up into four zones. The objective is to completely lock two of the three territories to gain access to assault the opposing team's main city. This is done by capturing all the zones in at least two territory. This is a huge team effort and requires hundreds of people working together to capture all the territories in a zone.

Before the patch, players were required to assault a massive fort at the end of capturing four zones in order to lock the territory. The fort sieges were so difficult to win, that more often than not, players would not even attempt the final battle after capturing four zones and just move to a different area of the world to fight.

This gave the game the feeling that there was no real goal of all the fighting, and that it all really came down to meaningless skirmishes. However, now that forts have been removed, factions are now able to lock two territories to assault cities quite frequently. Sometimes twice in a day.

Having been to several city sieges in the past few days I find myself and many others very disappointed with end game battle. For starters, when a city siege is initiated all other PVP stops for two and a half entire hours forcing everyone who wants to PVP to enter the city siege. Yes this sounds like a great way to form huge battles, but what if you don't like huge battles. What if huge battles in these kind of MMOs ruins all strategy that was previously possible in smaller scale skirmishes?

Well that's exactly what happened. City sieges simply come down to, the more numerous force always wins. Instead of being able to take out important targets on your own, battle has now broken down into throwing yourself into the mass of enemy players and hoping that they all die before you. This can look kind of cool at first but it gets old real fast. Especially when you're on the losing team, where there is literally nothing you can do to change the outcome of battle.

Now image yourself stuck in a constantly losing battle where the enemy is farming you for experience and you have no other options of gameplay open to you for the next two and a half hours. What the heck were they thinking?! Honestly this seems like a design flaw that they should have caught on the drawing board.

On top of that there are tons of broken quests in the city. Did they even have QA look this over before shoving it out the doors? There is also supposed to be a second stage to the city siege that nobody has been able to reach yet. To get to the second stage requires that all of the city siege instances on a single server are to be continuously dominated by one faction.

Does anyone see a problem with this? Mythic is trying to reward players for making one side an unstoppable force that completely dominates the entire game for two and a half hours. Image how fun that's going to be for the opposing side. You can't go anywhere for two and a half hours where you are not going to be steamrolled by enemy forces.

Some idiot designer needs to get slapped. Every player vs player game has other areas to fight when you are losing the battle at hand. In first person shooters you have the option of switching servers, changing the map, or even trying to organize your team better to sway the battle.

Mythic has cornered their players into losing battles and then forces them to stick it out to the bitter end because there is nowhere else they can go. Way to go mythic, maybe you should send your lead designers to basic game design school. Your game is broken!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Ultimate Eve Blogger's Hub

That's right - I'm talking about the one, the only, CrazyKinux (CK)! CK is widely regarded as the most influential Eve blogger and distributer of Eve related news and media. Not only does CK get all kinds of cool media directly from CCP for early distribution, but he has also taken it upon himself to create a top notch blogging pack. I am fortunate enough to have been admitted to this blogging pack.


When my first blog was only days old I wrote CK an email asking him for advice on how to get people to find, let alone read, my blog. This is what he said.

You've got a sweet looking blog, with a great subject matter that's sure to interest a lot of folks out there.

I'll be adding your blog to the EVE Blogroll shortly, but other things you can do to "market" your blog would be to read other high traffic blog and comment on a regular basis. You might want to create a Twitter account (doesn't have to be you in-game character; mine's not) and start to follow other EVE bloggers, and partake in the conversation. That should get your site exposed!

Good luck and keep it up!

David, aka CrazyKInux

I've taken CK's advice and now my barely two month old blog is getting read, has gotten me publish in EON magazine issue #17, and has provided me with an outlet for my gaming rants.

CK you have my thanks, appreciation, and my friendship.

- Rakanishu

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mama Bear

I purchased my first Orca today. Since she is now the mining fleet leader I thought the name "Mama Bear" was fitting. Dwarfing the exhumers she mines besides, her pack of drones slowly suck asteroid into her cargo hold, while her far reaching tractor beam scoops up there rest of the fleet's ore.

Never has a mining operation looked so.. cool.

Mining is a truly relaxing area of eve. The timing of mining lasers, and the quickly executed asteroid locks, keep the ore flowing and the wallet growing.

I've decided that my next endeavor will be putting my three character's drone skills to use in missions. I plan on training them all to fly Dominix with high sentry drone skills. My main character can already solo any level 4 mission yet it takes him quite a while. Perhaps three Dominix will speed up the process.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Real Men Play With Legos

Before I write this post, I just want to say that anyone who makes fun of me for playing with legos can go burn in lego hell. That being said - yes I still play with legos. My latest lego investment was such and awesome lego set that I though I should share it with all of you.

The Lego Star Wars Tantive IV (also know as the rebel blockade runner). This baby comes fully loaded with eleven engines, a hammerhead cockpit, escape pods, and even rebel scum.

I've always liked the Blockade Runner and I wished it had made more appearances in the OG Star Wars films. The eleven engine tail gives one the impression that this thing can really punch it, and the hammer head cockpit gives it the appearance that it's supposed to smash through things.

The lego designers really did a great job with this model. The tiny technical details really help give it the Star Wars feel but I think the engines are the real highlight. The fact that lego put in all eleven engines is really a testament to staying true to the original design. Sure not everything is perfectly proportional but it's close enough.

Six moving turrets, two escape pods, an opening cockpit, and an opening fuselage give this ship a lot of functionality. My only reservation is that it's hard to find a good place to hold this model. There are so many tiny details that you have to be careful not to grab a weak spot when lifting it. This kind of gets in the way of running it around the house making "pew pew" sounds. But alas maybe there are a few things I have outgrown.

Now if you will excuse me - Pew pew, Neeeaaarrrr-Kaboom.

Friday, October 9, 2009

James Cameron + 3D + Sci-Fi = Nerdgasm

Some high rez pictures of the new Avatar film by James Cameron have surfaced. I don't know about you guys, but seeing Sigourney Weaver on the set of what is bound to be an insanely rich science fiction film, gives me goosebumps. I will say the Na'vi look a little cartoony, but I haven't seen the movie yet, so maybe the animation makes up for their seemingly flawless complexions.

So when is this coming out? December 18th! What the heck am I going to do until then? Oh.. right... video games :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beer - What Would Iceland Do Without It?

Probably stop making awesome games and music...

If you're an Eve fan then you are aware that the fanfest was going on over the weekend. Reading some of the blogs out there, it sounds like it was quite the event. You have to love CCP for doing ridiculous dev videos starring - the devs (obviously).

I recommend watching both of these vids (CCP rap - beer ship) for a laugh. Surprisingly good production quality.. I wonder how many ships they could have designed in the time it took to make these.. Bah I won't be negative. This is why I love CCP, they are ridiculous and they clearly know how to have fun which is probably why Eve is in it's current state of awesomeness.

Also in case you're interested in Dust 514 - who isn't - there are some nice new gameplay vids to watch. It looks a lot like Halo, except that you're not fighting pink monsters with the mentality of the three stooges. I may have to buy a console for this game. Maybe I can mine in Eve in between lives on Dust 514..

Monday, October 5, 2009

Zombie Kill of the Week

Ever wonder if the zombie apocalypse actually happened would we have awards like zombie kill of the week? Well In "Zombieland" they do. If you haven't seen Zombieland yet, I suggest you stop reading, and go see it right this second. If you're still here then let me tell you why you must see this film.

Following in the footsteps of Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland brings us to a whole new realm of zombie comedy. With the heroic, or not so heroic, narrator Columbus (not Christopher), the audience will soon learn about the rules for surviving in Zombieland. Much like the book "The Zombie Survival Guide" Columbus has his own set of rules.

You know those moments in horror film when the monster gets shot and falls down and everyone thinks it's dead but it's not actually dead? Well Columbus' double tap rule makes sure he always puts a second round in the head just to make sure. This could also be explored in the form of running over zombies a second time, just to be sure. Needless to say he is able to demonstrate this rule many on several occasions for the audience.

The zombie killing team: The lonely ex-gamer, a commando Woody Harrelson, the hot chick from super bad, and a zombie killing version of the girl from little miss sunshine. Perhaps an odd combination, but hilarious none the less. Throw in an appearance from Bill Murray and you're in for one ridiculously hilarious zombie film. I was so zombie-giddy after watching this film, that I had to take out some of my excitement in left for dead as soon as I got home.

What is this weird obsession with zombies? Is it wrong that I secretly hope for the zombie apocalypse. Probably.. so I guess I just have to make due with awesome movies like Zombieland.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Loner

The solo player who likes to play MMOs. Damion Schubert's "The Loner" presentation explains the situation in all of its intricacies. Players who, for one reason or another, end up playing solo in massively multiplayer games.

This brings me back to my issue with CCP introducing the new join corp button as their solution to getting new players hooked. According to Damion Schubert, that could be the wrong move to make for a good percentage of the loners out there. I know I have addressed the "how to get more people playing Eve" issue before but I thought that this would add a little bit more weight to the argument.

I listed out the ten loner types that Damion mentions in his presentation. I think I'm somewhere between "the introvert" and "Commitment Phobic". Which loner are you? If any...

Loner 1 - "The new kid in town"

The new player is a tabula rasa.
No connections, no friends, no clue.
Friends that do come may quit.

Loner 2 - "The Daria" (Like from the show Daria)

In general, other people are a tragedy - but they are occasionally entertaining.

Loner 3 - "The Sociopath"

Doesn't understand what is appropriate social conventions
The real problem is when they also don't care.

Loner 4 - "Mr. Lunch At His Desk"

Playing on a very strict timetable.
Playing at unusual hours.
Playing on a non-gamer box.
May not have Voice Chat available
May want to group, but social friction makes this untenable.

Loner 5 - "The Introvert"

Reaching mass markets does not mean we're now reaching mostly extroverts.
According to Myers-Briggs, 50% of the population are introverts.
And we will always skew towards introverts.

Loner 6 - "The Adrift"

Some people are alone unwillingly.
In this case, being solo is a broken state.

Loner 7 - "The Unworthy"

Want to be part of 'the club', but aren't sure they have the chops.
Sometimes they don't.

Loner 8 - "The Vacationer"

"I need some 'me' time."
This player wants to escape his in-game obligations.

Loner 9 - "The Commitment Phobic"

Leery of long-term time commitments or scheduled events
Possible real-life distractions
Concern about falling with a groups of incompetents or bad leadership
Deep dislike of drama
May have had a bad experience

Loner 10 - "The Garbo"

"I just want to be alone."
Some people just like the level (or whatever) game.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My First Podcast!

Saturday evening I logged on skype and joined a group call with Darren, Karen, and Richard to create episode #54 of the Shut Up. We're Talking. podcast. Darren, a veteran blogger and a Host of SUWT, was kind enough to not only invite me onto the show, but also allocate a significant portion of time talking about one of my blog topics.

If you haven't listen to SUWT I suggest you go check it out. If you like hearing avid MMO gamers really get into the nitty-gritty of what's going on in MMOs and where they're heading then I think you will enjoy it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Avatar The Game - Sending The Wrong Message?

Is it just me or does this footage of Avatar The Game make you feel kind of bad? I mean yes the world looks cool, and all of the awesome marine weapons and equipment look sweet - but what are you doing with it?... Killing animals.

I get that this is largely in tune with the movie's plot but I don't know if I can have fun playing a game that's about slaughtering animals with air strikes, grenades, and stealth systems. I know, I know.. The game will eventually progress into the more involved conflict between man and the Na'vi but how much of this wildlife slaughtering do I need to do first?

The extended fighting scene with the giant beast thingy looks cool but doesn't anyone else feel bad for this thing? Again I'm sure this is the overlying moral point of the game. Don't invade other civilizations and blow the crap out of them with your superior weapons. But how much of the game am I going to have to go through to learn this point.

I have a feeling that they are going to use it as a way to get you angry at the marines in the start of the game so that it justifies killing them later. However, releasing a video that shows, primarily, blowing the crap out of wildlife doesn't exactly send the right message.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Alliance Tournament 7

Semi Final Match: Pandemic Legion vs. Manifest Destiny. Holy gawd.. Pandemic legion steam rolled through this match. Only four minutes until Pandemic Legion destroyed every single Manifest Destiny ship without losing a single ship of their own. This is truly unbelievable.

Using a team of all Minmatar ships, except for a single Gallenete interceptor, Pandemic legion unleashed a force that felt Minmatar through and through. Fast flying, point blank range, and heavy hitting is what their setup brought to the arena, and it cleaned up fast.

This makes me want to give up my drone whoring days and just go all out Minmatar. There is really something to be said for fitting an entire squad that can move faster than 3,000m a sec.




For those of you who do not play Eve I would still recommend watching the match. It's a good bit of spaceship combat and things explode.. A lot. Thanks to Morphisat, for tuning me into this match!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kapow! - Whap! - Zlonk!


Excuse the title. I've just been feeling a little batman centric the past couple days. I finally caved in a bought Arkham Asylum and I must say that it is well worth the fifty bucks. Especially since this title had me feeling a bit wary.

You see, everyone told me that fallout 3 was an awesome game, and so I bought it and then got bored of it in about 3 hours. So naturally, I was feeling quite skeptical about another single player title that everyone seemed to like. Thankfully I caved in, and am now experiencing tons of punch filled gaming goodness. Crraack! - Whamm!.. Sorry.

But speaking of "Craack and Whamm", the combat in Arkham Asylum is so much fun. Whoever was in charge of the animation system in this title should be given a medal. The combos are fluid, the punches look painful, and batman can take on 6 guys and make it look believable.

This is all combined with a really fun and easy to use stealth system. After all, Batman isn't a brawler and the game doesn't reward you for playing like one. Waiting until one of the bad guys has strayed away from the pack and then swooping down on him, is fun every time. I like to pounce down to take someone out silently and then grappling hook away before anyone notices.

Clearly the guys over at Rocksteady really nailed the combat system, but they didn't stop there. Using the Unreal 3 engine (my favorite game engine) they crafted a dark and beautiful world. The art is gorgeous and everything is very well polished. The immersive world doesn't give you many opportunities to remember that you're playing a game. When I played, I wasn't just trying to get to the next level - I was engaged and interested in exploring and tracking down the bad guys. That's rare for me. It probably helps that the voice talent in the game is astounding.

Getting Mark Hamill back to do the voice of the joker was a very strong move and it's perhaps the most impactful voice acting I've heard in any game. Throughout your adventure the Joker is frequently chiming in on TV screens or loud speakers. Hamill's perfectly executed demonic giggle, coupled with the joker's sense of humor, really breathes life into a video game character more so than anything I felt before.

The combat is amazingly fun, the graphics are stunning, the voice acting rocks, and the story ain't bad either! It's also out for the PC, PS3, and 360 so you really don't have an excuse not to get this game. Unless you don't like Batman or only own a Wii, in which case I am very sorry for you.

As for me I'm off to play more Arkham Asylum - Kapow! Blaamm! Vronk!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting Back in The Swing

Well I'm back from a two week vacation in California. I saw some beautiful sights, went camping, saw family and... it's nice to be back in front of the warm glow of my computer screen. I'm looking forward to my nightly Warhammer gaming session with the Orange County guys (and girl). Gruggy, my level 31 choppa has some catching up to do with the rest of them, but I don't anticipate that slowing things down too much.

I'm now strongly considering getting Batman Arkham Asylum as it's been getting phenomenal reviews. Fifty bucks is a lot for a linear single player game, but I like batman and it's hard to ignore the entire gaming communities reviews. Even Yahtzee liked it, so I guess I have to play it now.

I just dropped some cash on a nice Samsung virtual surround sound system for the TV and I must say it's making the nightly Battlestar Gallactica episode with the girlfriend far more immersive. Space should always have a subwoofer to compliment it.

I have a lot of catching up to do with the Eve Alliance Tournament but I hear that Pandemic Legion pulled off a nice victory, and managed to spice things up with their stealth bombers. I'm sure that's going to be a fun watch.

Also, my mouth is starting to water in anticipation for the new Navy Issue Battleships. In particular the Navy Dominix. I know it isn't the most exciting new Navy Issue ship, but I'm a drone boat kind of guy and a beefier drone boat is always welcome.

- Rakanishu out

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eve Planet Updates – It’s About Time

Gah! Trying to blog while being on the move sucks. Its not as easy to find a free internet connection as one might think.. even in downtown LA. Everything is on an open network but as soon as you try to get online you get stopped by a pay-to-use site an can't access anything. Even the airports want money to surf the web now?! Well I have internet now so I can finally post this slightly out of date article.

I’m sure I complained about this in the past.. or at least thought about complaining. I have always felt that CCP really needed to upgrade the planet visuals. The lack of atmosphere graphics has been somewhat disappointing, especially to someone who really believes that small aesthetic changes can have fairly large impacts on the gaming experience.

The videos showing the new planetary effects really makes space feel more like.. space. The glowing atmosphere looks very realistic, and the highly detailed planet surface looks great. I’m very curious to see how inhabited planets look. It would be nice to see moons get an overhaul as well.

I’m sure that these updates are in preparation for the new planetary control mechanic that CCP is releasing with Dust, but even so, it’s a long overdue update. Now if we can just get them to update everything else that hasn’t changed since 2003 (perhaps the user interface) I will be quite happy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gaming Withdrawal

I have been away from home for eleven days now. I flew down to California on the 6th and so far it’s been pleasant. I’ve gone camping, I’ve hung out with friends, and I’ve blogged plenty on my little netbook. However, I am really starting to feel the tug of gamer withdrawal. My speedy gaming machine is just sitting at home, with nobody to boot it up and try out all the cool games that I’m missing.

I wasn’t expecting Batman Arkam Asylum to be anything interesting, but now I hear it’s really great and here I am stuck with my little netbook, powerless to do anything about it.

To make things worse, I have been waiting to play Dirt 2 ever since it was announced, and naturally it gets released when I’m away from home. The graphics look so sweet, I’m just itching to get behind to wheel and… well knowing my driving skills, probably hit a tree going 90.

Oh well, I’m heading back on the 19th which should be soon enough to inject sweet gaming goodness into the vein.. Sigh – games I miss thee.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fun vs. Addictive

Games used to be about having fun. Now I fear that addictive design choices are preferable to fun design choices. The success of a game is no longer based on how much fun you have while playing it, but rather the amount of people who play the game. World of Warcraft has eleven million subscribers, but are they actually having fun?

Sadly, the success of a title often goes hand in hand with the addictiveness of the title. World of Warcraft is crafted around keeping people playing the game. Loot, skills, bosses, and achievements are all cheap tools for getting people to play more. I feel that developers have become too dependent on these tools and are forgetting to throw in challenge, innovation and immersion.

There was a time when games were developed by small groups of people. Sometimes even a single person who had an idea to make something fun - maybe even innovative, interesting, or challenging. I fear that today’s gaming industry has become more like the movie industry: large companies looking at the bottom line and pumping out titles that are guaranteed to make money. Successful formulas are used over and over again, until the consumers want something new. Then and only then do we see innovation.

It’s hard to remove things like loot from a game. I like finding loot and customizing my character. But it should not be the driving force when playing a game. Loot, leveling, and achievements should all be secondary to fun.

I dream of a day where I can play an MMO and never hear the term “grinding”. I dream of a day where I log on without thinking about how much more experience I need before the next level. When that day comes I believe the gaming industry will be a better place. However, changing our design principles to meet these dreams requires a moral decision. This decision may not be beneficial to industry profits, but it will be beneficial to the gaming community, by creating a higher quality gaming experience.

We can’t lose sight of what games are all about – FUN. Relying on immersive and challenging gameplay instead of materialistic tendencies is a great place to start.

- rant over

Monday, September 14, 2009

Does Eve’s Universal Camera Ruin Immersion?

I have been thinking about the impact of Eve’s free roaming camera setup and how it may affect game immersion. It’s kind of weird but, the more I think about the ability to freely move the camera about, the more I feel it takes away from the realism.

Now the reasoning that Eve uses to explain the ability to orbit a camera around your ship or any object within range of your ship, is that millions of micro-cameras have been deployed through space. Logistically this doesn’t make sense. To get millions of cameras hundreds of kilometers around your spaceship instantaneously within milliseconds of entering a system would require immense resources and frankly wouldn’t work within Eve’s physics.

Now I’m almost never ‘the guy’ who likes to argue that “unrealistic” is a reason to change the way a game is played. I think designers should use whatever means they have to make a game fun and playable.

That being said, I think eve could be a better experience if players were limited to orbiting their cameras in a close proximity their own ships and nothing more. The “look at feature” should be changed to a “focus on” feature. This would provide players with an extreme zoom image of whatever they want to view. This could be similar to Star Trek when they use the bridge screen to zoom in on enemy ships.

Here are the reasons why I think this would make Eve a better experience.

1 – It would allow players to hide behind asteroids. Why not make asteroids or space objects a part of Eve combat. Let pirates hide behind asteroids and then ambush unsuspecting miners at the last second. It would also make large objects valuable in massive fleet battles. Flying injured ships behind large objects for temporary cover from targeting could be an interesting tactic as well.

2 – It would make Eve appear bigger. When you can immediately zoom out 100km to dwarf a Titan it takes away from Eve’s massive and impressive scale. Orbiting a giant space station takes away from the awe and mystery. If you want to see the other side of a station, you would have to fly around it.

3 – It destroys the mystery of space. Why explore when you can move your universal camera to any location at any time. Upon entering a new deadspace zone, players can just zoom out to reveal everything in the zone that they need to worry about.

4 – In Eve you fly a single ship. When fighting the enemy, sometimes you’re not even away of shots impacting you because the universal camera is elsewhere. The only thing necessary to watch is the status bar of your ship’s health. I think you should feel bound to your ship, and always aware of the specific things that are occurring with it.

With the removal of the universal camera system, players would no longer be able to zoom 100km out using the actual camera. Players would still need some way to switch into a tactical overlay mode. To fix this, the camera could immediately switch into a digital projection mode, when zooming away from your ship. It would be sort of like a virtual overlay that works similarly to zooming the camera all the way out. This would allow players to have their tactical overlay but remind them that it’s just a digital projection of space, rather than a true image of the battlefield.

Other than tactical overlay I can’t think of too many things that would be lost by getting rid of the universal camera system. Sure people would complain about it at first, as it would feel somewhat restrictive when compared to the freedom they were used to having. However, I believe they would quickly come to appreciate the new sense of immersion that it would provide them with.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Dominion Cometh

I just read the first dev blog that gives us some details on what to expect from the new Dominion expansion for Eve Online, and let me say it sounds quite exciting. I’m not going to reiterate everything the blog said but I will say that creating stargate upkeeps sounds like a phenomenally great idea.

It will keep large corps from expanding at unrealistic paces. If some massive corp grabs ten systems in one weekend they will have a substantial increase in their rent. Hopefully this will require large corps to abandon some of their unused territory upon initial release and open up some systems for smaller corps to setup base in null sec.

This should also make corps who are bent on galactic domination rethink their mission statements. Does it really make sense to control everything when you only have enough player to utilize ten percent of it? Perhaps Eve corps will actually start to behave like real corps. All attacks will have economic and political backing. No longer will it make sense to attack space that isn’t worth maintaining. You attack you enemies if they hold valuable systems or pose a direct threat to you. Not more bored weekend warriors taking over the galaxy just for the fun of it.

I don’t usually like to theorize what the details of an expansion might actually be, but when they mention that players will have new tools to defend their space, I can’t help but think that, perhaps, players will be able to hire Concord or NPC mercenaries to help out in battles. Just like the NPC ships that attack members in faction warfare, maybe systems will also be able to hire NPC mercenaries. This could be very useful for smaller industrial based corps who are looking for enough protection to fend off small raider gangs just looking to pop some Hulks.

Anyway I’m quite excited for the new expansion and I look forward to seeing how it will remap null sec.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

9 – Post-Apocalyptic Sock Puppets

When I first saw the previews to 9, the Tim Burton produced post apocalyptic sock puppet adventure movie, I was intrigued to say the least. The art style looked phenomenal and the ruins of human civilization seemed like a great place to have an adventure.

The film definitely delivered on the look and feel I was hoping to see. The sock puppet creatures had many cool little toys fabricated from things like fishing hooks, thread, scissors, candles, batteries, and more. The use of the environment to defeat enemies was entertaining and allowed for interesting Jacky Chan style action sequences. Doing intense action at a miniature level can be hard, and I think that they pulled it off for the most part.

Sadly the film completely lost its footing with the story line. The premise was intriguing and although they attempted to explain many things throughout the plot it was clear that the writers hadn’t put much thought into some of the main issues. For example, the significance of the number 9, the title of the freaking film, is never actually addressed! Yes it’s the main character, and yes there are nine of them, but why?

The story at least explains how the sock puppets where created but never backs up the reason as to why they were created. At one point the writers deliver the line “to save the world” as being the reason for their existence. Even if this is the most cliché line in movie existence, I was prepared to accept it if they gave us a reason as to how or why this is their destiny. They do not.

The more the film got into explaining things, the more plot holes appeared. It was like science fiction writers were relying on fantasy reasoning to drive the plot. Why does the giant machine suck souls? Because souls are fuel for mechanical beings?... Don’t expect anything more intricate from the writers.

Despite the huge problems with the story I was still quite entertained. The environment had enough intrigue to keep me glued to the screen. The action was fun and the art was phenomenal. It’s weird but I can see myself watching this film again, which really speaks for the art style. To get the most out of this film, I recommend taking the story very lightly and just enjoying the adventure that plays out before you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leveling - Can We Get Rid of It?

I just got through listening to the “Shut Up. We’re Talking” podcast, hosted by Darren from the Common Sense Gamer. In the latest show, the podcasters bring up some interesting concepts about flawed game mechanics in MMOs.

Their discussion delved into pre level cap gameplay and post level cap gameplay, and how games change drastically after achieving player caps. Some players seem to live for grinding, questing and progressing in levels while others only begin to have fun after hitting their maximum level.

The problem a lot of players face during pre level cap gaming is that it can be very difficult to find PUGs (pick up groups) to play with. A difference of ten levels often means the complete lack in usefulness of the lower level character. Thus, if you cannot find a group of equally leveled players you may be stuck soloing your quests. Even if you're really good at the game, your talent is often considered secondary to your character level.

To make matters worse, games are so easy these days any idiot can progress to the higher levels. This allows a level forty player to utterly destroy a level thirty player during combat even if the level thirty is more talented. Levels, currently, only resemble the amount of time one has been playing a game and do not in any way guarantee player skill.

The only solution to this problem, that I can see, is to drastically reduce the bonuses of leveling up. Eve Online has come fairly close to accomplishing this. Skills in Eve do help to improve combat effectiveness, but it doesn’t mean that someone with eighty million skill points will always win against someone with six million skill points. Talent and strategy are still the biggest determining factors in when it comes to winning battles.

I now find myself asking the question “is it possible to design a fantasy MMORPG where a level one warrior can defeat a level sixty warrior, and still be a successful title?” The traditional level up system has become so engrained in our idea of what makes an MMORPG that I fear we may not be able to brush it off so easily. It also provides a great medium for addictive gameplay which developers are not going to toss out unless they have something else to replace it.

I think one way of solving this is, letting players level up in a way that opens up more styles of gameplay rather than just making them flatout tougher. I find that this feature appears in games like Call of Duty 4 and Planetside. In my very first multiplayer match of Call of Duty 4, I was able to place first with a level one character because of my skill with first person shooters. This was extremely rewarding, however, when I faced off against more skilled opponents I quickly became aware that some of the perks I could achieve through the leveling system would introduce valuable methods for outsmarting my opponents.

I think, if developers were to enable a similar leveling system in MMORPGs, they could still retain the addictiveness of a leveling system and at the same time allow low level characters to play a valuable role in all situations.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Alliance Tournament 7 - Looks Good!

If you play Eve or have a friend who plays Eve there is a good chance that you have heard about Alliance Tournament 7. Over the weekend CCP had the first rounds of competition, and let me say that the production quality is top notch.

The announcers were all well chosen candidates. They keep the information coming and do a great job of explaining the nuances for someone who isn't as familiar with all of the PVP mechanics. Crovan from The Drone Bay, one of my favorite Eve podcasts, can be heard covering several of the matches.

There are a couple of new graphics added to the videos showing which teams are which at the start of the round. The new particle effects are great to see and they really bring a new level of flare to what otherwise might be some outdated explosions and firing effects.

Now that CCP has allowed remote repairing back into the matches, it has slowed things down a bit, but at least makes the combat more realistic. It's also neat to see some tech 3 ships duking it out in the heat of battle.

My only real complaint is that sometimes the visuals are hard to match up with what the announcers are talking about. Perhaps zooming the camera back a bit so that viewers can get a better idea of the distances would help. Also the addition of a system that would allow us to see the ships that the announcers are speaking about would be great. It's a little awkward when we don't get to see the kills because the camera is focused on some other element of the battle.

Otherwise they are great fun to watch and I recommend that everyone (even non Eve players) go check them out.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

EVE Blog Banter #11 - I Can Haz Tech 3 Battleships?

Welcome to the eleventh installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banterarticles at the bottom of this post!

This month's banter comes to us from Joe Brusati a long time reader of CrazyKinux's Musing, who asks the following: CCP states that T3 Strategic Cruisers are just the start for the T3 line-up. In future Eve expansions what would you like to see as the next T3 ship type. Please be specific on details about what role this ship would play, cost of manufacturing, and the different modules that would be available for it, and of course you must give your T3 ship a name!

I apologize for the Lolcats headline, I blame it on a complete lapse in creativity. In my defense I have been cooped up here in the airport with nothing better to do than entertain my girlfriend (mostly myself) with time wasting website a la Icanhascheeseburger.com.

But as the title suggests I think that Tech 3 battleships are the way to go for the next T3 advancement. Yes it’s the obvious choice, but I also believe it’s the best choice. This isn’t to say that I think that we shouldn’t explore things like tech 3 frigates, but I believe the next iteration of battleships would have a much more profound impact on Eve.

Battleships are the current staple of any large fleet engagement, and they are also the ship of choice for level 4 mission runners. By introducing the next level of battleships to the player base, I believe it could spice up the combat quite dramatically.

As far as tech 3 cruisers go, I think the design principles were on the right track. Obviously it’s still taking a while for prices to stabilize, but otherwise I think we can consider them a success. Once wormhole operations, such a Mynxee's wormhole base, become more prevalent throughout Eve the prices should come down considerably. I believe 200 million Isk was what CCP intended for the final prices.

A tech 3 battleship should have a price point right around a billion isk. The tricky part is trying to design tech 3 battleships that don’t replace Marauders. Sure Marauders are great for killing and salvaging, but if a Tech 3 ship can run mission faster I’m sure that players would quickly make the switch. Perhaps I am taking this consideration the wrong way.

Eve is not like other games, where each item and tool needs to serve a useful function. It’s more like the real world. If new technology emerges that makes old technology obsolete, then that’s that. Similarly in Eve, the emergence of Hulks made the Covetor obsolete.

Ok so what should Tech 3 Battleships do? Well, much like Tech 3 cruisers are more powerful and more customizable that regular cruisers, Tech 3 Battleships should serve the same function. However, I think that CCP played it too safe with strategic cruisers. All of the new abilities we’re pretty much what players were expecting. More powerful versions of what they already had. Excluding the addition of a module that negated the jamming effects of interdiction spheres, nothing new what added through these ships.

With Tech 3 battleships I want CCP to design modules that allow players to create ships that will be flown unlike any other ship. Here are a couple ideas for spicing up Tech 3 battleships.

Gallente – Some galllente modules would provide great increases to drone damage. If built correctly, players could out damage a Dominix in drone firepower. However, if built this way players would be severely limited with high slots. Maybe only one or two high slots with no turret or missile launchers, making it a true drone boat.

Minmatar – Players should be able to create a battleship with frightening speed. Not a tackler battleship, but something that could hit 4 km a sec, with decent agility. To get a ship this fast and agile would require a huge sacrifice in armor modules.

Caldari – Perhaps several modules that allow battleship pilots to fire cruiser sized missiles with massive damage bonuses to allow battleships to maintain their current damage output, but also engage smaller craft effectively.

These are just few ideas to get people thinking. I’m not particularly committed to any of these examples, but I am committed to the idea of creating ships that are unlike anything we have ever flown before. If CCP is going to take the time to create an entirely new line of ships then I think it would be well worth the effort to spice up our combat options as well.

Blog Pack Baby!

Crazy Kinux, perhaps one of the most well known Eve bloggers has accepted my application to join his blog pack. CK's blog pack is composed of forty very interesting and unique bloggers. Their subjects vary from strict industrialist blogs, to mercenary and pirate blogs.

So far my blog's Eve related posts have revolved around game design ideas. I think Eve is an amazing game with so much pontential to become even more than it is. I love the world that CCP has created, but it is far from perfect, and there will always be ways to improve it.

My short lived blog, eve talk, focused specifically on Eve subjects, but I decided to expand it to all games with Level Cap. There will be non-Eve related blogs in here so don't panic if you come across one. Eve will always be my main game, but I like to keep my gaming experiences fairly diverse so expect to hear about other games as well.

Congrats to all of the new blogpack members. I look forward to reading the new blogs and especially getting all the awesome traffic from CK's site. I guess this means I should probably spend a little bit more time checking my grammar :)

Stay tuned for the tech 3 Blog Banter!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blogging With The New Netbook

I Just bought myself a nice little Samsung N120. I’ve been thinking about getting a netbook for a while now. It’s been too long sing I have had a computer to use while on the go. Since I’m taking a two week vacation to California in a couple of days it seemed like the perfect time to buy one.

Before buying this little guy I went to the local Frys and Best Buy to check out the feel of different models. I tried all the popular ones like the ASUS models and the Acer models. Some had features I liked but lacked others that I wanted.

After spending several weeks testing different netbooks and trying to decide which features I needed, I decided that the most important thing was having a really comfotable keyboard. I’m not just talking about the feel of the keyboard but also the size. Almost all of the netbooks that had 10 inch screens also came with tiny little keyboards that, for the life of me, I couldn’t type with. The 11 inch screen netbooks had better keyboards, however, to make up for the extra power drain from the large screens they had slower CPUs.

Now netbooks aren’t meant to be power houses but the Intel Z520 which is found in many 11 inch netbooks is just too darn slow even for basic functions like browsing the internet. Intel’s N270 was what I wanted for basic performance.

So I needed at least a N270 CPU, with a large keyboard, and a really great batter life. None of the retailers carried any such netbook so I went online to see what they had. I finally came across the Samsung N120. This little beauty had a 10 inch screen, a large keyboard, a N270 CPU, and was rated at over seven hours of battery life.

Since I couldn’t test it out in the store, I took a risk and bought the machine after reading many great reviews. I’ve always had faith in Samsung products so I wasn’t too worried. Well this is my second day of using the little guy and I must say that I am very satisfied with its performance. The keyboard is great, I can actually type faster with it than I do with my desktop. I haven’t plugged it in since the initial charge, and that’s after listening to several hours worth of podcasts and installing all my “on the go” software.

As far as gaming goes I haven’t had a chance to try anything yet, but I’m going to be testing Plant’s vs Zombies. If I can get Geometry Wars running I on here I will be quite content. Also Eve Online will be something to try as it is supposedly supported on very low end systems.

Anyway if any of you are thinking about getting a netbook for on the go computing I highly recommend Samsung’s N120. It retails for around $380. About $100 more than you super low end netbooks, but for the excellent build quality and the features I think it’s worth the extra money. If gaming with a netbook is a must, then perhaps you should wait for the ION platform netbooks to hit the market, although those are supposed to retail for around $600 which is a bit steep for a netbook in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Am I The Only Person Who Didn't Like Fallout 3?

Every gamer on the planet seems to have played, beaten, and thoroughly enjoyed fallout 3. Except for me... I mean, I bought the game, and played several hours worth, but eventually lost interest. This really perplexed me, because Fallout 3 seems to be everything I want from a game. Post-apocalyptic? Check. Powered armor suits? Check. Massive sandbox world? Check. So why the hell did I find the game so F-ing boring?

Looking back on it now, I think I have narrowed it down to two things. The first being the status of Fallout's a so called "first person shooter" setup. The VATS combat element, although seemingly cool, pretty much ruined the intensity of all combat in the game. Sure you can play the game like a regular FPS, but why should you when every time you're confronted by an enemy you can pause the game, tell the computer to zoom in on your opponent's head, pull the trigger, and un-pause the game.

I there is no longer any reason to have skill with aiming your weapon. Just keep you finger on the pause button and the first sign of trouble, pause, target, shoot, un-pause and repeat. The most challenging part of the whole game was figuring out how to organize my backpack. Speaking of which, you know there is something wrong with a game when your players are choosing extra backpack space perks over crazy sweet combat perks.

The second main gripe I have with fallout 3, is that the entire mission elements of the game feel like I'm playing WOW with a facelift, and without other people. The missions in the game are boring.. Find this, kill that, travel here, travel there, etc. When I found myself grinding for ant kills, I had to sit back and contemplate what the hell was wrong with game designers.

There is no excuse to have a "kill 15 giant ants" mission in a single player game. Don't put content in a game as filler. It's like a movie director adding in scenes for the purpose of making a longer movie. Every mission should be exciting and engaging and relevant to my character's story. Sure Fallout had some interesting missions, but only after doing about eight errand boy missions in between each.

I don't know.. Maybe I have played so many games that my immersion suffers from recognizing the game formula. But I can't help feel that at least two thirds of Fallout 3 was designed as filler around the main plot.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cataclysmic

BlizzCon 2009 has come and gone, and in its wake, left us with details on the next WOW expansion Cataclysm. Now I have to say, this expansion even perked my ears. I was completely ready to hear the usual level cap increase and new races. Which to be fair, Blizzard is including in this expansion. However, the whole theme behind Cataclysm is that some catastrophic event occurs that reshapes the world.

What this means is that the "old" world of Azeroth will essentially be no more. Instead of doing a sequel to World of Warcraft, Blizzard is just redesigning the world from the ground up. All new quests and a completely new world. This will also allow Blizzard to improve the details and graphics from the original game that was released back in 2004. The old quests and world are supposed to be accessible through the caverns of time, in case players are feeling nostalgic.

Even though I'm not much of a WOW fan I have to say that Blizzard has really come up with a great idea here. Games like EVE have been able to evolve because of the nature of the engine but games like Ever Quest and Lineage have done sequels. The problems with MMO sequels has been that fans of the original games don't want to give up their characters that they put some much time and effort into. Thus the sequels are literally competing against the original game for subscribers.

Blizzard's Cataclysm expansion is the first time an MMO developer, has literally reworked the entire canvass of a game with this type of world. It's dangerous, it's impressive, and I think it's going to revitalize WOW in a way that I didn't believe possible.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Evony Spoof Ads

Remember that post I wrote about how Evony was abusing breasts in their online ads? Well apparently their ads were getting them so much publicity, that PopCap decided to steal their design. Interestingly enough the ads were to market their game Planets vs. Zombies. Have a look.

zombie2

zombie1

zombieevfull

I couldn't have designed a better a spoof ad myself. I think these are hilarious and it's about time someone made fun of these Evony idiots. I may as well throw in there that Plant vs. Zombies is actually a very entertaining game for $20.

It's a tower defense style game where you plant various types of destructive garden plants to destroy zombies attempting to break into your suburban home. Sounds ridiculous? It is... but it's also tons of fun to play and the zombie themselves are too funny. There is even a Michael Jackson zombie straight out of Thriller, and when he comes so does any army of thriller dancing zombies.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Orange County Choppas

orange_lineup

Orange County is a Warhammer guild, that plays the Choppa class exclusively. I ran into these guys while playing some scenario games with Gruggy (my level 24 Choppa). Watching a group of 5 orange colored Choppas rip through the enemy ranks at lightning speed was truly awesome to watch. Sure they would die every now and then, but not before dealing out some serious damage.

I decided to run around the scenario match with them. As we chopped down entire parties of the enemy, it dawned on me that a group of pure melee DPS players could get along just fine without a healer. Sure healers are nice, but these guy were putting out so much area affect DPS that nothing lived long enough to dish out any serious retaliation.

After the match I messaged the guild leader to find out if they were interested in taking on another Choppa. I was then sent to go read the guild website to familiarize myself with the rules and requirements. It all looked pretty good to me so I told them I was interested and that I could abide by their rules. They signed me up real quick and in no time, I was hauling my orange orc off to battle.

The killing was good. We torn off into RvR combat with a thirst for blood and our thirsts were quenched. Our group of six Orange County Choppas, plus two from a friendly guild, went careening into enemy lines. Our enemies dropped like flies. Massive area affect abilities took down four, five, and even six targets at a time. There weren't any targets called or shouts for heals, just a simple "get those guys over there". And we got them.

I think this is what I have been looking for in Warhammer. A bunch of orcs who like to chop first and ask questions later. Stay tuned for more Choppa news.