Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Gamers Do In Their Down Time

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

Scanning - Repetitive Nonsense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 19, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go see this movie.. (in 3D)