Ranting Saturday: Underwater Quests. Why?

phinny
phinny

It has come to my attention that developers seem to find sending my character underwater as something fun and innovative. MMORPG’s have always had underwater minions and some even had underwater dungeons (Kedge Keep in EQ) but never did much to improve the enjoyability of an aquatic adventure aside from adding spells that allow you breathe infinitely while submerged. For some sick reason, MMO’s strive to have at least one underwater level and riddle your adventure with random underwater quests.

Why?

Why the fuck would you WANT to send me underwater? What is in that NPC’s mind where he found it absolutely acceptable to ask a completely random stranger to swim to the bottom of a fucking lake to kill some monsters. I don’t want to kill Murlocs unless they’re on the fucking coastline. I don’t want to navigate at a 50% movement reduction speed through the lost ruins of some ancient tribe. I don’t care about Atlantis. If I did, I wouldn’t be playing video games. I’d be a goddamn Mythbuster.

It adds a certain degree of whimsical wonder to the game!

My ass it does! I don’t see Willy Wonka’s factory underwater. What is whimsical about aqua goblins aside from the fact they fucking root you underwater and make you shit bricks are forced to narrowly avoid drowning.

Doesn’t the lack of air and danger make it more exciting?

No, it doesn’t. In fact, I spend most of my time bobbing my head in and out of the water’s surface just to make sure my character is breathing. Then, I hover over the quest mob and swim down, slap them around, collect my item, and swim back to the top. Who the hell remains underwater without a buff? No one, that’s who!

I think you’re being completely unfair.

I think you’re being a complete cunt! This isn’t Echo the Fucking Dolphin Online. I don’t want to go underwater unless it leads to a cave with fucking air in it. I’m not looking to kill sharks. Don’t the NPC’s have a Navy? Let them deal with it or give me a boat to go spear hunting with a bucket of chum. Don’t send me in there with my heavy ass armor and a sword to fight a shark! What are they thinking? “Oh hey, here’s a scuba mask. I’m sure this is sufficient to fight a shark. Go get em, tiger!”

Guys, please! Stop making me go underwater! It’s not just that it’s a horrid change of pace but I’m terrified of the water. I don’t like it and I never will. And because I specifically don’t like it, it means no one else should either. So please, please! Get rid of these quests. Stop sending me underwater. Stop making me collect kelp. It isn’t worth the danger!

My Unparallel Loathing of Gaming Hipsters

WoW Ret Cat
WoW Ret Cat

My Unparallel Loathing of Gaming Hipsters

I can’t take it anymore, reader. I simply cannot suffer the pretentious attitude of gaming hipsters. They leave my stomach churning, tie my throat in a knot, and cause an unpronounced level of pain in my scrotum. Why God? I ask you this! Why do they exist to believe themselves to be upon a celestial pedestal of understanding and ownership of some delusional knowledge they do not possess?

Hipsters.

The word alone makes me want to go on a punching jamboree at a local Starbucks. Those bastards just weren’t content on having the indie scene, huh? They had to someone seep like a poison into the gaming community. And it wasn’t like they miraculously appeared out of nowhere. No, no. I just noticed they’ve been here for years, secretly hiding like some Massachusetts Witch Covenant biding their time for an unveiling.

But you know what?

No one gives a shit about them or the opinion of their Gaming Hipster Community. But contrary to that last sentence, I do care to a degree. I’d like to point out my disliking for them in detail. Yes, reader, you will become more knowledgeable on who is a gaming hipster and may even come into the realization that you yourself or someone you hold dear to your hearts may even be one of these aberrations.

    • No one cares if you were in beta.

    Aside from narrow-minded children and frat boys, no one cares that you’ve played since beta. When someone asks a question as to whether something is a good talent specialization or how to beat a certain raid boss, don’t reply with “Trust me, I’ve been playing since Beta.” This doesn’t make you more knowledgeable to specializations or strategies. Especially don’t say this in games like World of Warcraft. The game at its current state is completely different than its original incarnation at this point and your opinion is null and void. Another thing, games that go into Beta maybe have 10-15 people who are actually voicing legit opinions in that gaming community. The rest are people who whine and shit because they don’t understand gaming mechanics or can’t even offer viable solutions aside from nerfing the entirety of a class. Oh, and speaking of classes…

      • No one cares if were an underpowered class pre-buff.
          “Mmm, I liked a Shadow Knight before they got buffed!” Wow? Really? Holy shit, that is amazing news. I’m glad you stuck through your underpowered character until they got revamped. You know why classes get revamped? It isn’t because it only takes “skilled” people to play them and make them viable. Any other class that isn’t gimp with an equally “skilled” player is going to steam roll you in numbers and efficiency. They buff classes to bring them up to par. Aww, don’t cry! Just because people can now faceroll as your favorite underground class doesn’t mean you suck. If you really were skilled you’d still be better than the rest of them by far, right? Or is it because no one played the class you had no real competition to gauge yourself? Wait. What was that you muttered underneath your breath? Oh, that’s what you said? Well guess what…
      • No one cares if your guild beat content before it got nerfed.

      I remember going into threads that said “Fenrir’s Pups beat Ragnaros” and reading the replies of smug faced, Rockstar drinking hipsters who would sneer the achievement with “Congratulations on beating old and nerfed content.” What a monster you must be! Let’s look at those virtual muscles. Wow! You’ve been really hitting the E-Gym. We all know beating Ragnaros pre-nerf was like fighting Muhammad Ali in his prime and fighting him after the nerf was like fighting him today. We get that. No need to boast about it, though. Your past efforts fall upon deaf ears because not a single person today gives a shit.

      Hey, what’s that you’re playing? Is that an NES emulator? What game are you playing? Is that Super Mario Brothers 2? It isn’t? It sure looks like… holy shit don’t say it.

      • No one cares if you played Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic before people played Super Mario 2!

      I’m glad that you are in touch with the origins of a game and know that Super Mario Brothers 2 is a rehashing of another game but don’t toss it away because it wasn’t indie enough for you. Most of the creatures in Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic were created by Nintendo anyway.

      This sick need to do the polar opposite of anything popular or mainstream brings me to my last point.

        • Fuck You.

        Fuck you, gaming hipster. You’re the person who finds the Playstation Network vastly superior to Xbox Live. You’re the person who guffaws at Apple products (and yes, I admit, I was once this type of person) without even trying to grasp why people like them. You’re the person still playing your NES because all new games suck like some grumpy old man who still plays that game with a hoop and stick. You’re the person who demands nostalgia and only subscribes to progression servers for a month and quits within 3 days because those memories weren’t as fond as you thought they were.

        There is no means to stop you from these self imposed habits and traits and there is no wisdom or knowledge I can bestow to remedy the hipster hivemind so I will gladly end this article in the simplest but most profound way I know…

        Eat a dick, gaming hipster. Eat a steaming plate of dicks on a bed of rice.

        Villian Spotlight: Kefka Palazzo

        Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster
        Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster

        Kefka Palazzo

        Since the dawn of video game culture, there have been a lot of subjects you don’t bring up unless you want some greasy, unhygienic, nerd frothing from the mouth with a rabid induced rage. One of these subjects that is commonly brought up by RPG geeks which ends up in a heated debate is who is the greatest Final Fantasy villain? Normally, the debate is stomped by a wave of Sephiroth loving assholes. For some reason, long white hair, trench coats, and absurdly gigantic katanas are cool. Not just that, this guy’s freaking theme song is an orchestra chiming in death and destruction. The problem a lot of people seem to not realize is that the question asked who is the GREATEST villain in Final Fantasy. People seem to confuse cool with greatness.

        I’m unsure if the sway towards Sephiroth is because a lot of people played FF VII as their first real RPG and considered anything before that garbage or mediocre. I do agree that Final Fantasy VII was a fantastic game and that Sephiroth was indeed a cool villain. The thing is, he didn’t accomplish much and his role as a villain was rather one dimensional. His creativity for slaughter was usually left with a sword swing and some fire. His actual development as a character was rather bland and nonexistent.

        I know. I know.

        Take a deep breath.

        It hurts to hear this kind of criticism about the One Winged Angel but I’m about to open your eyes to a true villain. Someone who’s appearance was comical but their lust for destruction was their only drive in life. There wasn’t a waking moment where this monster didn’t think about the end of the world. Many villains feel this way but he isn’t a Cobra Commander or Doctor Claw replica. Where many villains fail and constantly try again, Kefka succeeds. Here’s a look into the devilish antics performed by the supernatural sociopath known as Kefka Palazzo.

        As the game begins, Kefka Palazzo is only known as the Emperor’s Court Wizard and doesn’t seem to be more than just some queer looking clown. The Emperor decides to begin a process of infusing Magitek into humans. Kefka decides to volunteer for this process and is able to wield magic. Come to think of it… how was this guy the Court Wizard if he couldn’t control magic to begin with? Anyway, an obvious homage to Captain America occurs and Kefka becomes Captain Magitek and stops the World War that is plaguing the planet and is pronounced the savior of the world.

        The End.

        Things didn’t work out that way, sadly, for Kefka and he turned into a psychopath who deemed that everything ever in the entire world had to die. He became the Joker with magic. He forces Terra, the main character in the story, to wear a slave crown and attack a town that claims to have an Esper in their mines. Terra manages to escape the enslavement and runs off. Kefka, obviously angered by this decides to burn down an ENTIRE fucking castle just to kill a bitch. Pretty hardcore right? Sephiroth lit up a small secluded town but Kefka razed a whole castle.

        Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison
        Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison

        After burning down a castle what else should you do? Grow impatient obviously! The Empire decides to attack the Kingdom of Doma and begins a long and drawn out siege. What does Kefka do to make things move a long faster? Does he impale a girl in the back with a sword? Hell no. Kefka poisons the kingdom’s water supply killing everyone inside, including Cyan’s, one of your party members, wife and his children. I don’t remember any Final Fantasy villains poisoning the innocent because they were consuming too much of their schedule.

        When you’ve poisoned an entire kingdom what else can you do at the end of the day? Drink a cold beer and watch some TV? Take a hot shower and go to bed? Or freeze all your enemies in place and order one of them to prove their loyalty and kill their friends? The latter sounds like the best idea for this bad ass motherfucker. Unfortunately, the character he ordered to prove their loyalty stabbed him instead. But guess what? Big whoop. Instead of getting medical treatment he kills his king and draws in the powers of a couple of magical statues to become a God.

        Looks like your team fucked up, huh? This guy is God and you know what his first order of business is? He isn’t going to hang a meteor over your most populated city. He reshaped the entire planet pushing it into a post apocalyptic world and then demanded people to worship him. You know what happened to the millions of people who said “Fuck that!” collectively? Independence Day. He burned them down with enough force to carve scars into the planet’s surface.

        He became a God and forced people into his worship and still that isn’t good enough. This cum dumpster decides it’s a damn good idea to just end life since that shit is meaningless to him. Sure he’s defeated by the heroes of the story but that’s the point! He didn’t care if he died. In reality, he probably let them win because he was too much of a bad ass to die. He figured he was way to cool for the world of the living anyway. His death was his final “F U” to the world since he already fucked it up and now he’s dead and doesn’t have to bother to clean that shit up.

        By now, I’m hoping your frothing has ended and you realize the error of your ways. I know it’s going to be hard to put away your Sephiroth figurines and wall posters but you have finally been educated or rather re-educated in the makings of a true monster and villain. You may subconsciously still blurt out Sephiroth’s name like a slutty wife screaming out her secret lover’s name when the question arises as to who is the greatest Final Fantasy antagonist but you will feel that itching in the back of your mind. You know you’re wrong and some day you can even accept that.

        The Software Hunter

        Sniper sights FPS game
        Sniper sights FPS game

        You ever notice people don’t spend a lot of time in a software store pining over a game they wish to buy or in deep thought over if a game they are about to purchase is going to be worth it or not? While it is true that with the internet, video trailers and tons of promotion that many gamers know exactly what they are going to get out of a game I have also found people are just more willing to go with what everyone else is getting and not as willing to search out that unique game that might not be a major franchise.

        I remember heading down to the only store within fifty miles that sold Amiga and Atari ST games. I would spend hours reading the back of software boxes and staring at the one or two screen shots to decide if I would pick the game up or not.

        I miss talking about hardware and software with the store owner who actually knew what he or she was talking about. Today, many store personnel only know the basics and if they know a drop more it is confined to the system or game that they play. Back in the day the store owner not only knew about every system and software sold they were also involved in the community and could connect you with other people.

        Sure, sometimes when picking a title it was hit or miss. A well written description and a nice screenshot could be misleading, but for the most part after spending so much time making your decision you more often than not ended up with a game that you enjoyed. Today they want you to play a game and sell it back to the store (at a loss) within a week. Many do not want a wall of software boxes standing like trophies as a testament to their gaming superiority. People want an orange envelope and the next flavor of the month.

        In the software stores of old you could actually make friends. People talked to one another about which system they owned and what software titles they were playing. You would debate which game was worth the purchase because you would not be back for a month or maybe more. Now you walk quietly into the store, pick up your preorder and quietly walk back out.

        Don’t get me wrong, modern day technology and accessibility has done wonders for gaming and the ability to download demos and read real user reviews is a wonderful thing, but I miss the days when we were true software hunters. It is like searching for that perfect spot for a picnic and knowing you found a gem. It is about telling your friends about the awesome game you found and getting them into it. It is about seeing your friend load up a game and wondering what it is and where did he or she get it.

        Perhaps I’m getting a little too nostalgic in my old age. I guess when you used to travel over fifty miles for a TI-500 cartridge you realize it was more than just a system and a game it was a true hobby that you cared about. Now you just log in and download or click and have it mailed to you, simple, easy, but is it better?

        There are still titles out there today that don’t get a lot of press. They are not sequel number 238 in a series of remakes based on a remake. These games are made by programmers who don’t have dual 32 inch screens and a coffee bar in the office. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a coffee bar) You can still be a software hunter searching out those rare titles that give you a great experience and a box you are proud to display in your office, room or basement. The question is, are you up for the hunt?

        State of the LAN Party IV

        LAN Party sign
        LAN Party sign

         

        If you missed it you can read part 1 here , part 2 here and part 3 here.

        We saw how the LAN party evolved with new technology and how it inspired Alienware and how Alienware helped change the look of many LAN parties. With faster, more portable systems we saw LAN parties rise. With high-speed internet and MMO’s we watched as membership diminished.  Everyone grew older, but we were still gamers, the question was, what games will be played and how will that affect the LAN party.

        When the XBOX360 was introduced, Microsoft realized with the success of XBOX Live on the XBOX that pushing forward with online community gaming was the future of console gaming. If there were a few gamers who still did not utilize the online universe of gamers beforehand, once the 360 hit the shelves even they joined in.

        The 360 also brought a new type of LAN to gamers, the Console LAN or Local Play Lan was established where people would bring together multiple XBOX systems and connect them in order to multiplay. This allowed gamers to use separate television screens since for many the split screen was not a viable option.

        What made XBOX live so successful was the variety it brought to gamers. You could play the hottest games like Halo 3 or classic favorites such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  For better or worse you could chat online with fellow friends and gamers which gave console gamers pretty much all the tools a LAN member would use when gaming at a LAN party.

        Software developers also realized the market created by the 360 and the Playstation 3. More computer titles were being ported over to the console. Not only that, but there were much more FPS and RTS games developed for consoles than ever before.

        Many in the industry knew that computer gamers also owned a console and wanted the switch from the PC to the console to not be a shock to the system. Both 360 and PS3 were designed with top end processors and video cards. This allowed players to experience games on par and sometimes better than their PC counterparts.

        Those looking for a lower cost gaming system turned to consoles to experience high end graphics and gaming without the high end price tag of computer gaming units. With online play complete with patches, demos and downloads, the console gamer had everything they needed.

        By the time consoles invaded my LAN party we had reduced in size to just a few friends, but the new presence was noticed. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero replaced the twitch action games we played before. It saddened me at first. I believed some of us were getting too old for fast paced FPS games. Honestly I thought it was a fad, but numbers don’t lie. Interactive party games are as hot now as FPS games were ten years ago.

        I embraced the change. I enjoyed playing those games (even those on the Wii) and I remembered the point of the LAN was to have fun with friends which we did have. The connectivity we have today can bring us closer together if used correctly. Having access to your friends 24/7 through XBOX Live, IM programs, FaceBook and Ventrilo can be a wonderful thing even if it does lessen the need for LAN parties.

        In the end those of us who grew up during the gaming revolution will continue to be gamers for a long time to come. The games may change and the way we play them. Friends come and go and places we play will change, but the main goal stays the same, have fun.

        The future of the LAN party may be more virtual, larger groups of gamers playing from their home with others across the world. With gadgets such as the iPhone sporting multiplayer capabilities, we may find ourselves having impromptu LAN parties from our phones while waiting for our oil to be changed or at the doctor’s office.

        The great thing about technology is it adapts and changes the landscape. More and more people will have access to the tools to allow them to play the games they want and with that will come a community to join and interact with. The LAN party is ever changing, but will never die. As long as there are gamers there will be games and a means to play them.

        State of the LAN Party III

        LAN Party dark
        LAN Party dark

        If you missed it you can read part 1 here , part 2 here .

        Everyone thought that growing older, getting married and having kids would be the only thing to bring an end to the LAN party. While it was true that as we got older we did not have LAN parties every two weeks, we still had them once a month. What did risk putting ours and many LAN parties to an end was Massively Multiplayer Online Games or MMOs.

        By the time the game Everquest had come out our LAN party was in full swing. We had met with many other LAN groups across Florida and made a name for ourselves. I personally found working atAlienware, that the growing attendance to LAN parties translated into more buzz around our products.

        One effect was peoples request for a smaller more LAN friendly sized system. People were torn between the massive power and size of our Dragon case and the prospect of having a small portable case to take. Remember, at this time there really wasn’t a gaming laptop and smaller form factor cases were not widely known of or used.

        In the midst of larger LAN’s and more attention to networked gaming, a new fully 3D massive multiplayer role playing game was being released to the public. Now Everquest was not the first MMO, but it was the first to do fully interactive three dimensional game play and it brought in gamers who loved Dungeons and Dragons and the other successful MMO at the time, Ultima Online.

        Over the next few months hundreds of thousands of people began to play EQ. At first this did not change the attendance of our LAN parties, but it did change much of the conversation within them. Many of us got into EQ and spent much of the LAN talking about our characters. We did continue to play normal LAN games like FPS’s and RTS’s, but somehow we always came back to talking about Everquest.

        This was not just an occurrence at my LAN group. All across the U.S. people were talking about how Everquest, or as it was soon to be known as, EverCrack, was taking away gamers from their normal LAN games.

        In our LAN group there was actually a divide between those who played EQ and those who did not. The pure gamers, as they called themselves, hated the fact that we talked so much about EQ and one said our LAN party officially died the day we connected a DSL line and played EQ at the LAN.

        From my and many other EQ players point of view nothing really changed. We still played other games and interacted. MMO’s were just a new part of the landscape that we enjoyed, but we did find some took to EQ more than others. On the EQ main boards there were daily discussions of people becoming less active in work, school, their social life and LAN parties due to EQ. However, I felt in the end we became even more social because of it.

        As high speed internet became easier to come by many LAN goers opted instead to play online. Gaming clans regained much of their strength because of this and LAN parties grew smaller and less frequent. Some of this was also blamed on MMO’s, but also because many companies decision to hold massive yearly LAN parties. It was felt that there was no longer a need to have a LAN party ever month when you could play over the net and then go to the larger sponsored LAN events.

        Oddly enough, the EQ players were the ones to stay in touch the most. Since we all played on the same server in the game guild, we would often meet outside of EQ to talk and hang out. We found that many of our non-MMO playing LAN members did not want to attend these social gatherings. Perhaps it was because we talked about EQ, but we were skeptical.

        As time went on many EQ and MMO players found themselves going back to LAN parties to get away from MMO’s and to do something different. LAN parties became much more social and private, except for the company sponsored ones.

        At Alienware, we knew what our customers wanted and launched several gaming laptops which helped many LAN party members return to their LAN’s now being able to quickly and easily transport their gaming system.

        In part 4 of the series I will talk about the evolution of the console and the affect new technology has had on the LAN party and the future of the LAN and its place in computer history.

        The Death of Customer Service – The Better Business Bureau III

        Social Media logos
        Social Media logos

        The internet and almost instant access to information have changed our lives greatly over the last ten years. Today anyone can create a website or blog and connect with thousands if not millions of people. Often when someone feels they were mistreated they will turn to their blogs to tell anyone and everyone about it. In the past this action was mainly ignored by companies, but with social outlets such as Facebook and Twitter many companies created teams dedicated to seeking out issues on the net and solving them before they spread.

        In part two of the series we talked about step 3, 4 and 5 from the eight steps important to being a member of the BBB.

        1. Build Trust
        2. Advertise Honestly
        3. Tell the Truth
        4. Be Transparent
        5. Honor Promises
        6. Be Responsive
        7. Safeguard Privacy
        8. Embody Integrity

        Moving on to step six, Be Responsive, we devle into one of the main issues with companies and their responses to the BBB. Most of the time if you have an issue with a company, in this case a computer company, and you file a BBB complaint it will be sent to the company and directed to the person or persons in charge of the BBB complaint department.

        Many larger companies create templates to respond to BBB complaints, but this is not just to save time. There are certain words or phrases that if sent to the BBB will be accepted as being responsive even if the overall issue was not solved.

        For example if your system arrived damaged, but you did not report it within a certain time frame for whatever reason many companies will not be able to file a claim with the shipper. In this case they will tell you that due to you not informing them of the damage there is nothing they can do for you.

        If you were to write to the BBB about this all the company would have to do is reply with a canned answer about the policy of the company and the policy of the shipper. They do not even have to reference your specific case. This will be accepted by the BBB and even if you file a rebuttal all they need to do is respond with the same answer and again it would be accepted. This is called ping ponging because this can go back and forth indefinably.

        Many companies do not fear the BBB because it is easy to remain compliant which is why if you find a company that has a non-compliance with the BBB you know they have issues. Even large companies that receive many BBB complaints can have one agent answer them all due to the use of template answers. So what can customers do if the BBB fails them?

        Originally customer complaints were limited to phone calls, e-mails and in some cases internal message boards. The main goal was to keep issues internal where they could be controlled. As the internet became more wildly used people began to create blogs and websites where they would talk about their daily lives and if they had an issue they would post about it. This was also done in public message boards.

        At first these few incidents were ignored, but as some forums became wildly popular some companies created field teams to track down issues on popular forums and engage the customer there hoping to solve the issue and if not that bring the issue back under their control and out of the spotlight.

        For the most part forums were happy to have representatives come to their boards because it would bring in more members. As time went on however, many board administrators would limit what these representatives could do. This was mainly done to keep them from posting about new sales or features or derailing topics.

        In the end for many companies going out to forums backfired because now their representatives could do nothing to stop members from coming to those boards and posting about their issues. Sometimes information would even be leaked by disgruntled employees. Strong arm tactics aside these boards remained firm and the companies had no choice but to message the members in private hoping to solve the issue quietly.

        Step seven, Safeguard Privacy, came into play not against the customer, but against the companies. Often when company representatives would contact customers they would offer free items or discounts to make the issues go away. Some of these members would post the e-mails, personal messages and chat sessions they had with the company representatives after they received compensation. This would lead to other members with issues demanding the same compensation which in turned caused some companies to withdraw from these forums.

        When Facebook and Twitter became wildly used an old problem was given new life. Now anyone could easily create a blog, add hundreds if not thousands of friends via Facebook and followers via Twitter and post about ongoing issues with a company. Sometimes if the issue was serious enough other blogs and websites would pick up on the story and share it on their blogs.

        This was a serious problem for companies because these complaints spread quickly as they were shared throughout the internet from website to blog to forum. Again teams were create to search out these customers and try to get them to stop posting. Some customers took it to the extreme and create hate sites which were only about complaining about a specific company.

        At this point companies began coming up with different ways to deal with these issues. Some would give almost any compensation if the customer agreed to remove the criticism and or post something positive about the company. Large companies decided to abandon the field teams altogether feeling that even responding to complaints would just fuel the fire.

        Step 8, Embody Integrity, also took on a different meaning depending on the company. Smaller companies would still seek to help their customer and engage critics on websites where as large companies felt it was not worth it.

        It was easier to respond to BBB complaints and keep issues internal and ignore external complaints unless it was picked up by a major outlet. The result was larger companies receiving a lower customer service score, but this would be compared to sales and if the company felt the low score was not affecting the bottom line then no changes would be made.

        Today there has been some pushback to larger companies who ignore or mistreat their customers, but as more and more companies merge there are fewer places for customers to take their hard eared cash.

        It has become cheaper to cut back on customer service and instead put that money into marketing and sales. The idea is that if you only see commercials and ads you are less likely to see complaints. Some fault is also put on those who looked to take advantage of compensation policies by creating websites or blogs for small issues hoping to get something for free from the company.

        Unfortunately the end result is customer service is looked upon even more as a waste of money for companies. This is why most customer service centers are overseas and the few located in the U.S. are understaffed.

        The BBB can do little to help the customer and with economic hardships all around us many customers will return to the same companies that mistreated them because they have the lowest price.

        The best thing to do is fully research any company you wish to do business with. Sometimes you will need to spend a little more if good customer service is important to you, but beware of some companies offering you “premium support” for a higher cost. These services are the same you would have received ten years ago for free, but have to pay out of pocket for today.

        The Death of Customer service series will continue as we move into other aspects of dwindling support and service. If you have any issues you would like to see discussed please contact us via e-mail.

        Click here to read part 2 of this article. Click here to read part 3 of this article.

        Old Games Versus New Games

        Ms Pacman
        Ms Pacman

        Old Games Versus New Games by Honorabili

        Games are like movies

        A trend with games is that they behaves a lot in the sense how people watch movies. People will usually rush and go nuts over wanting to watch whatever the latest hit is, as it’s a very popular thing to do or if you’re like me you’ve seen almost everything else, so you might as well. However, there are people that wait until a movie is out on DVD or some even that download the pirated film. Pretty much the same thing happens with gaming (except that usually most games are available quickly within the launch as a pirated version).

        New doesn’t necessarily mean good and old doesn’t necessarily mean that a game is a “classic”. A lot of innovations in gaming have happened throughout the years but there are games that were the first to implement such functions, and for that reason, they sometimes became classics. For example, check out Dune 2 as pretty much the first or one of the first real-time strategy (RTS) games that uses the RTS model that we’re used to. However, not all games do become a classic just because they are the first to implement a new technology or functionality. Just look at early CD-ROM full motion video games and you will see an example on how NOT to do a game. People wanted games, not interactive videos, basically.

        Like movies, sometimes games get remade. Most movie remakes SUCK or are unnecessary. Some however are necessary or even better, especially when it comes to some sci-fi movies (for me, John Carpenter’s The Thing). The same happens to games but it’s even more necessary. The problem with most gamers is that they are like fans of action movies. Unless a movie has the latest and greatest CGI and shit blowing up and unless it’s relatively new, the typical action movie goer will quickly dismiss it. The same kind of reaction happens to games except that people do this with games unless they are hot that month and have good graphics and ridiculous reviews or every other person is playing it. This is why remakes are needed (and often why they get made).

        Game remakes and sequels

        The problem comes with remakes of old games is that they don’t just update the graphics. Rarely have I seen simply a graphic revamp of the game. What goes wrong is that they sometimes alter the gameplay that made the original game so great and they simply release something that is so different from the original game in gameplay that the original fans of the game will stay away from the new version and keep playing the old one (and think only noobs would play the new one).

        I think a problem that game remakes have is that they decided to ignore the things that made the first one great and they made a new game with stuff that might look like the first game but that’s not really the same. Many studios ignore the innovations that fans made for the original games through mods that sometimes create a better game. I have a feeling that many of these companies don’t make these remakes get tested by loyal and actual fans to the original games.

        Apart from remakes sometimes we run into sequels of some old classics. A problem for game companies with sequels is that will they target to make the game more for attracting new players to that franchise or will they decide to make it more for the old fan/purists? The game already is a sequel and some people will prefer to play the previous games first before tackling on the newest game in a series. However, some people will simply just not care. I’m pretty sure that most of the people who play Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare (1) might have not played the first Call of Duty games, especially with how many players for that game might be console gamers.

        Comparisons

        New games:

        New games generally have better graphics. You will usually need the latest generation console or good enough PC parts/OS to be able to enjoy many new games running at the highest settings and with no hardware lag. The cost of new games is much higher than old games. If it’s an MMO that’s new expect to shell out full retail price for the game and then the inflated subscription fee since most MMO companies think their game is a godsend and everybody will pay up.

        New games are usually what’s popular at the time. It’s like fashion, almost. The typical gamer will usually be ranting, raving, and bragging about how good the newest game is. Newer games usually have better multiplayer components, some with built in voice chat, friends lists, etc. New games are becoming more inmersive, taking away some of the imagination needed to play some older games.

        Old games:
        You will need an old gaming console (if you want to play a non-emulated version), an okay computer (to play an emulated version), or almost any old gaming PC to play an old computer game. The price for old games is either really low or free. As games get older, unless it’s a classic you might find yourself as one of the few active players out of the people you know who is playing that game right now. It’s harder to get multiplayer games going because the typical person will think that game is obsolete and will just brush it aside.

        Depending on the game some people might find older games more indepth as far as hours you can get out of such a game, whether in the amount of content they have, or simply that they are actually much more replayable than the fast food generation content of new games.

        Old games sometimes feel like you’re interacting with a piece of art, a piece of history.

        Conclusion: so what’s my point?

        Overall, I don’t really care what you play, so long as what you play is FUN, it makes you feel better about your life, it changes your life for the better, it hopefully teaches you something, and sometimes makes you better as a gamer (trains you to think better, react better, interact better with people).

        We all play games for our own reasons. So long as you’re doing it for a good one and not making it feel like it’s a job for you (as some MMOs and grinding games make me feel) then it will be a worthwhile experience for you to have. There’s are so many games to play out there that if you start to feel like you’re just a cog in the machine, it’s usually a good idea for you to start playing something different. Stagnation is never a good thing. This can also go along with people who just play the same old games and will not grow as a gamer.

        What will you prefer to play often? Old or new games? Leave your comments below or on our social sites as well! Let’s get some feedback!

        Reviewing the game reviewers

        Review Games
        Review Games

        Reviewing the game reviewers by J.A. Laraque

        With games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Borderlands and Left 4 Dead it is understandable to see a lot of 9.0 and above scores on review sites. In my opinion many of the mainstream game reviewers are mailing it in when it comes to digging into the heart of a game to provide a in-depth review that can not only help the consumer find the right game, but hold software companies accountable for what they release.

        Some may argue that it is not a reviewer’s job to call out software developers. However, it has been a long standing practice in the past that if a company cut corners or releases an unfinished product that it would be called out in the review. Game makers use to wait with bated breath for a review to be released. They knew a bad review could sink them and a good review could make their game a hit. Today, it is not quite the case.

        Much like movie reviews you can easily find someone to give your game a good enough review so it can be quoted on a website and listed on packaging. Unfortunately, these are not obscure little places where positive reviews are found, but industry giants handing out A plus ratings and 5.0 scores like they were cable ace awards.

        For those up and coming review sites many have faced unreasonable restrictions and strong arm tactics when reviewing upcoming titles. Like a partisan town meeting there have been reports of questions being submitted by the developers themselves to be asked. One incident I was part of was where an up and coming site was reviewing a new wrestling game. A Q&A session was offered where only very select questions were answered. Later we discovered most of the questions were submitted by the company and they only selected questions from the internet that had been already answered in other articles and reviews.

        This may not seem so unusual today, but at the time it was quite a shock. Many were angry their questions were not answered especially considering that they were not questions that were against their own policy. There were guidelines on what type of questions we could ask and even though most followed the rules their questions went unanswered. When people complained the website got tough and in the next installment pressed the development team on the lack of changes and improvements to the game and boldly asked why anyone should spend their hard earned money on a game with almost no changes or improvements. Their response, they discontinued talks with the website pulling all Q&A sessions and review materials.

        Tactics such as these are not done anymore basically because most companies only give review materials to outlets that will give them a pass. Now while it is true that many of these games that receive high scores do deserve them it is a troubling trend that these reviewers seem to go out of their way to not bring up flaws within a game. Too often the questions are softball-like and if there is a critique it is a very minor one that in the same sentence they will dismiss as such.

        My question is why are the best reviews done by those who are doing it more for entertainment than anything else? Some of the best reviews today come from Yatzhee, just as some of the best news comes from John Stewart. I love them both, but they started more for entertainment and yet you get the most honest takes and real world commentary from these two.

        There are a ton of up and coming websites and blogs that offer reviews, but one must always be careful. Just like in politics there are definite divides between people. Everyone has an opinion as far as taste in genre, console versus PC and even brand loyalty or distain.

        While it is great to have so many places to go for information we still should hold the large media outlets accountable. Many will look at a positive review by an industry leader as reason enough to purchase a game. We also know many people will purchase a game solely on the fact that it was released by a developer they know. In this case a reviewer should point out that even if a game is good that more could have been done or if parts were rushed due to time or money and if features and options were left out only to offer them as paid downloadable content later.

        With many software companies becoming superpowers in the gaming world now is the time that the people of the media should speak out and take them to task. It is what we expect and what we deserve as consumers. Nobody should get a free ride even if they have developed great games in the past. It is not what you did, but what you are doing now. If there are faults they should be brought to light for all to see and leave it up to the customer to make the final choice. The result is we all become better informed buyers and in the end that is better for all of us.

        Building versus Buying PCs – The great debate

        custom computer vs bought computer
        custom vs bought PC

        Building versus Buying PCs – The great debate by J.A. Laraque

        When you get right down to it, the two main factors that come into play when deciding to build or buy a gaming PC is, costs versus time and service versus support. Normally when a gamer reaches the level where he or she has the skill and knowhow to build a PC it becomes a no-brainer in their eyes what to do. If one can search the internet for the best deals and build their own system, then it is all in their hands.

        The question is asked; why pay for something I can do myself? It is a valid question and when you read more and more about how many computer companies are outsourcing their support and their service quality level continues to nose dive. Anyone is completely justified to ask themselves, what am I paying for?

        Would there be resistance to buying versus building be lessened if top level service is provided from day one? Many who care a great deal about their car may spend hours maintaining it themselves. However, if they can take their car to a place where it will receive the same care as they provide then not only is it worth the cost, but the time you save is also of great value.

        Too many computer companies have lost their perspective. They forget that PC stands for personal computer. A computer, for many, is much more than a tool; it is part of their daily life. To return to the car analogy, it is not just to get from point A to point B, it is the journey. When you call yourself a custom computer gaming company it should mean that you understand gamers who want a custom PC and who want to feel they have gotten what they paid for.

        If you provide the best support from a support staff that understands their customer’s needs then people, even in tough economic times, will spend the money on a product they know the company they bought it from will stand by.

        In the end a person’s budget will make the final decision, but knowing that the company they choose to go with will not only provide them with the system they want, but the service they demand then going the extra step in not a leap of faith, but a wise investment.

        You cannot expect someone to pay for an elite system and not receive elite support. It is not just about lights and a paint job. It is more than processing and video power. Elite goes beyond the hardware and software and a company that truly understands that will earn the respect and hard earned money of the price savvy gamer.

        Why I can’t stand the Wii

        Wii Sucks
        Wii Sucks

        I completely expect to catch flack for this, but I am tired of being silent. I can’t stand the Wii console from Nintendo. I understand it has some good games like the new Mario, but the hype over the system and the fact that it’s not much more than a glorified accessory machine doesn’t help. We all know it has sold. I was not one who bought one, but I have played it. Now here is my reasoning.

        The IMAC for a new generation

        Remember the Apple iMac? Everyone had one, it was shown on almost every sitcom, but nobody ever used it. The Wii is the new IMAC, everyone got it because it was new and shiny, but in the end it sits unused like your treadmill.

        When it was first released everyone talked about how fun it was. Funny thing is every time someone wanted to play it they were intoxicated on something. I guess the reason is nobody could have that much fun swinging wildly into the air unless you are drunk.

        Now most of the people I know who have one have it sitting under a pile of accessories unused. We now play Rock Band when drunk.

        Old people like it

        You ever heard the saying that something is no longer cool once your parents like it? Now I don’t want to get in trouble with the AARP, but did you know there is a Wii bowling league for senior citizens?

        Old Woman Wii
        Old Woman Wii

        Yes, that ultra hip piece of technology is the favorite plaything for the baby boomers. It narrowly beat out checkers and shuffle board. Wii Tennis has beat out not only Wolf Blitzer from CNN for things to watch after 5pm, but even Matlock gets TIVO’ed so grandpa Joe can get in a game of Tiger Woods-free Wii golf.

        I have this thing called an Emulator

        You know what is the number one response when I insult the Wii? “We’ll you can play old games like Excite Bike” Oh really? Well, it’s not like I ever had a chance to play that since ’85. I guess people never heard of something called M.A.M.E. or ZNES. Perhaps I am not supposed to speak about those to the public, kind of like Fight Club.

        Even the so called new games like the sports pack are nothing more than glorified Yahoo games with an add-on so you can chuck hard plastic at your television.

        Thanks to Dumpbase.net for the video

        Hey Wii, the Game Cube called it, wants its graphics back!

        Worst yet it reminds me of the console wars back in the Sega, Nintendo days except this time it’s PS3 and XBOX 360 fighting it out and the Wii getting the scraps. My question is how many Mario games can you look forward too? I love Mario, but damn. Speaking of Mario, is it just me or is it an abomination to see Sonic and Mario together in a game? I liked the back and forth of which was the better franchise. It’s like Coke and Pepsi coming out with a drink together. Well Coke tried that with New Coke and you remember what happened there.

        Wii
        Wii

        My opinion doesn’t count

        Nintendo could care less with the cash it is raking in and in the age of the ipod we know people like overpriced pretty colored devices so the Wii fits in perfectly. Between the Everybody Votes channel and the Mii’s Nintendo has the winning combination for our American Idol’d world. All Nintendo has to do now is add Farmville to the Wii and the final sign of the apocalypse will be upon us.

        Happy Gaming!