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

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


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.