The Obsolete Gamer Show: Paul Elsy – CCP

The Obsolete Gamer Show heads to Iceland to talk with Paul Elsy community manager for CCP Games about his early days of gaming and how he came to work for famed computer gaming company. In our talk we learned a bit about the impact CCP has had on Iceland and the people, the gamers and fans and even the difference between gamers in Iceland and those in the States.

Paul shared some insights about his journey from being a classic gamer and his love of games like Dune and Sonic the hedgehog to studying Robotics at University before volunteering with the community and writing fan fiction for Eve before accepting a job offer from them.

Profiled: Paul Elsy

[youtube id=”3PZlakdTesY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Name: Paul Elsy

AKA: CCP Falcon

Company: CCP Games

Title: Community Manager

Favorite classic Game: Sonic the Hedgehog

EVE_Online_Screenshot

GPS heads to Iceland to talk with Paul Elsy community manager for CCP Games about his early days of gaming and how he came to work for famed computer gaming company. In our talk we learned a bit about the impact CCP has had on Iceland and the people, the gamers and fans and even the difference between gamers in Iceland and those in the States.

Paul shared some insights about his journey from being a classic gamer and his love of games like Dune and Sonic the hedgehog to studying Robotics at University before volunteering with the community and writing fan fiction for Eve before accepting a job offer from them.

A great conversation you should check out and let us know what you think.

The Gamers of Origin PC

Team Origin

The Gamers of Origin PC

One of the questions I was often asked during my time at Alienware was, are you guys really gamers and do you play games at work. I can tell you originally pretty much everyone at Alienware were gamers, just check out our interview with co-founder Alex Aguila and our gamer profile for Nelson Gonzalez., you can also check out our interview with Arthur Lewis. When I started back in 2001 most of us were avid gamers and would often have Lan parties at HQ or meet up to play games.

In our editorial where we asked, do you have to be a gamer to be in the industry? My opinion was that you do not need everyone in the company to be a gamer, but it does matter to have key people who at least understand the culture. When we talked with Origin PC not long after their launch it was clear the management understood games and gaming culture. It is also clear they are all gamers check out the gamer profile for CEO, Kevin Wasielewski and COO, Hector Penton. If you need more proof perhaps we can show a picture of their arcade games cabinets and Mr. Penton’s wall of PC game boxes.

In the meantime, here are some gamer profiles from Origin PC team members and if you want to game with Origin PC you can find them on Raptr and on Steam.

final fantasy 7

Name: Erika Mckinster

Gaming background: Final Fantasy series, Goldeneye, DOOM, Quake, Halo, Mass effect Trilogy, World of Warcraft, Diablo trilogy; too many to name!

Favorite classic game: Final Fantasy 7

Favorite modern game: Mass Effect

What are you playing now? Torchlight 2 & Borderlands 2

quake 1

Name: Fabian Santiesteban

Gaming background: As a child I was an avid gamer from the Atari 2600 while working my way up to the Sega Genesis to the PC’s of today.

Favorite classic game: Quake – Quake may be the most influential game of all time. Not the best game, not the most innovative, but the most influential. Nothing beats a god old fashion First Person Shooter.

Favorite modern game: MMORPG – My gaming preference roles have changed. Today I am a big fan of EVE Online – Age of Conan and The Secret World.

What are you playing now? I am currently playing Diablo 3 and looking to level up my toon to 60 so I can start my paragon levels. I am looking forward to the incoming patch that will give you the opportunity to group up to 8 players which will make it much more interesting.

mists-of-pandaria-world-of-warcraft

Name: Daniel Ovalle

Gaming background: I’ve built my own computers since I was 18 and was immersed into hardcore gaming while working at Alienware.

Favorite classic game: Quake

Favorite modern game: Too many to name.

What are you playing now? World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, SWTOR, Civ5, Guild Wars 2, Diablo3

counter-strike

Name: Jorge Percival

Gaming background: First ever encounter with gaming was an Atari 2600 that my parents had, though I was very young they tell me I wouldn’t let go of it. After that I can happily say I owned most consoles to date mostly for exclusive tittles. The fall of 1993 was when I really began paying attention to PC games when my uncle purchased DOOM for his PC, I was completely hooked on that game. Consoles introduced me to gaming the PC has kept me here.

Favorite classic game: My favorite classic game will always be Counter strike (pre source days) this was my real introduction to competitive gaming and the first game I truly took serious. I followed all the pro’s and tournaments I would fully engulf myself in the scene and what was going on during those days. Quake comes a close second.

Favorite modern game: My favorite modern game……….. would definitely have to be League of Legends, this game shows how great gameplay is still at the heart of a good game. We all love graphics but the game needs to have good mechanics and gameplay to continue to grow past its release. I am also a huge fan of RIOT as a developer they do great job of interacting with their community and are supporting the e-sports push here in the states.

What are you playing now? Right now I have lowered the amount of games that I play at a time (mostly due to League of Legends lol). League of Legends, Torchlight II, Borderlands 2. Those would be my top 3 in that order.

Quake 2 - Rocket Arena 2

Name: Tony Berry AKA Miztic1

Gaming background: Started gaming on C64/Atari 800XL then moved to the NES and all other consoles where I got hooked on gaming and once I got my first PC I discovered Wolfenstein 3D then eventually Doom and Quake 1 and those sent me over the edge of the gaming abyss.

Favorite classic game: Tossup between Quake 2: Rocket Arena 2 and Ultima Online. Consoles would be Legend of Zelda on NES.

Favorite modern game: This is a tough one, I would have to say WoW

What are you playing now? WoW, Diablo 3, torchlight and league of legends.

destruction derby

Name: Alvaro Masis in game (Propane)

Gaming background: Have been playing games since Lode Runner and have played on multiple platforms favorite PC by far

Favorite classic game: Favorite classic game would be destruction derby for the Commodore 64

Favorite modern game: Eve Online

What are you playing now? Guild Wars 2, Eve Online, Torch Light 2

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. ~J.A. Laraque

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

When you get above age 30 a lot is changing and a lot of has to do with what you believe you should be doing and the direction you should be going. For many gamers there comes a time where they decide if gaming in part of their lifestyle or something they did in their youth and now it becomes something they need to leave behind. For those who continue gaming it will always be different, not only because we are older with different responsibilities, but because many who we used to game with will have moved on.

mmo cafe

When talking about MMO’s many people talk about Everquest and the early days of World of Warcraft the way a man might talk about his college days. You remember a time when you were free and could do what you want and it was celebrated as well as expected. Now, you have to “grow up” and “be an adult” and the fun times as you knew them are over. This is not to mean that there will not be fun times ahead, but that it will never be like it was before and depending on the person this may make them feel that anything that comes next just could never live up to the old and really for the most part, it cannot.

Everquest Friends

So when you talk about that 48-hour camp in the Efreeti room was it that the time spent killing the same placeholder over and over was so much fun or that it was the time in your life that it happened more fun than now. With many of the new MMO’s being released the idea is the teenager with tons of time on his hand in the past now has work, marriage, kids and so on to deal with and cannot spend time playing 12 hours a day. Of course, there is also the people used to having everything handed to them to consider as well.

If you associate, your fun days with a MMO and now those fun days are over then it will be almost impossible to get that happy feeling back no matter what a game does. You could make an exact copy of a game, but now its 10 years later and maybe that awesome boyfriend lost his job and does not do what he used to or your sexy girlfriend is pregnant and angry. So you load up an MMO and hope to have those fun filled nights you had fighting twin emperors and you just cannot find it and you blame the game.

World of Warcraft Guild

I have always said it is the people who make the game so if you played with great friends in EQ then most likely many of those friends have moved on. Now, you have to try and make new friends or gather the few you have left in a new game, but you cannot bring that magic back. This does not remove responsibility from the game makers. Many MMO’s are just lazy and they rather copy and play it safe than innovate. However, many of the arguments comparing the old to the new are the same we do with movies or television shows. The glasses are rosy and the memories seem so much better than the present or the future.

Perhaps this is the reason MMO’s can be played alone more now than in the past. The EQ and even vanilla WOW generation is much older. Can most of you who raided in EQ find 40 good people to raid and play with day after day, week after week. Can you find 25 or even 15 and if so is it just as fun being with them in the game regardless of the game?

Wow guild

Many who find games like Star Wars, The Old Republic fun are not just fanboi’s. I have found people who like to solo like the game. Many who did not have big guilds in EQ or Wow like the game and those who have retained a good core of gamer friends like it because they get together and enjoy each other’s company in the game first and the actual game second.

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. In between game time, you would hang out, talk with your friends and interact with the gaming community. Now, you have many more responsibilities and less time.

thunderboss

So for many when a new MMO is announced, especially if you have not played an MMO in a while and have friends interested in giving it a try. You end up putting more than hopes of a good game on the product. People hope it will rekindle that fire, bring friends back together, improve your life and games by themselves cannot do that. There are documented reports that leaving an MMO can end relationships, friendships and even marriages so it is understandable that people think an MMO might create what it can also destroy.

We still have to make sure MMO makers do a good job, and create and maintain the game they promised. However, we should also realize you cannot relive Woodstock, and for many games our “Woodstock” was EQ or WOW.

MMO Rewrite

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it. ~J.A. Laraque

MMO Rewrite

I think it might be time to rethink the MMO model. Just as many people get older and make adjustments to their lifestyle the same has to be done with MMO’s and it’s not just graphics or even just game mechanics. The change has to come based on how the community has grown and changed and adjusted to these types of games.

mmo boxes

Let’s look at Everquest, a game many people look back on with rose colored glasses. Most people never did more than a few quests in vanilla EQ. You would run out and start killing rats, bats and beetles, but because it was new and different it was fun, and many accepted it for what it was.

People claimed there was a better community in the past and it was true because it was so hard to level and groups meant everything so you were forced to play nice where today you can dump and find groups so fast many will not tolerate even one death much less wipe after wipe like was the norm in Everquest.

Everquest

People look at Star Wars the Old Republic and complain because you can solo to 50 and the companion system makes the game more like a single player game. However, even in early World of Warcraft most people could solo to 50 and sure there were zones that needed a group, but it was not a requirement and a good number of people were denied groups for level 45-50 zones due to their class or other factors.

Turning back to Everquest, people forget that grouping was more about locking down a spawn than the fact that you really loved to group. In Lower Guk your group would camp one room and if it had a drop like the Flowing Black Sash there would be a rotation. You would be in the same group for hours because if you left good luck getting back in.

Everquest 2

So where did the change start? First, it began when people realized some classes could kite in EQ like Druids or Wizard. In games like City of Heroes, we saw people really begin to only group to finish their mission and then they would quit. When World of Warcraft went from 40-man to 25-man raids and the birth of the clicks occurred grouping took another hit because people were forced to do pugs and then the idea of pubs became so repugnant that if anything went wrong people would leave in a second.

In Everquest 2’s early days, groups would share Exp debt when someone died, so if you made a mistake the whole group might disband. All this, along with the increasing drama on message board forums, and more and more people joining the world of MMO has led to its decay.

City of Heroes

Originally a “server first” meant something, but soon it became a job with people working in teams to reach max level first. The idea of eating through content was considered a virtue as everyone wanted to be first and honestly, many learned back in the days of EQ that it was the first guilds to encounter new content that were the ones to find bugs and exploits and reap gains from them before they were removed, fixed or nerfed.

Then the great expansion came and MMO’s started popping up overnight and just like 3D movies we realized many should not have been made. We were already paying $15 for one MMO, who in their right mind would pay two or three of them. Free to play was enviable, but it also had flaws due to things like having the richest person gain an advantage or companies charging for the smallest things just to nickel and dime you to death.

Players saw games close for the first time and companies abandon their player base by offering little or no new content or support. The insert game here killer became a running joke and it was expected that any game to come out was doomed to fail because either it was not enough like game X or too much like it.

World of Warcraft

Finally, we all got older. The teenager is now in college, the young man now has a wife and kids and the basement dweller has a full time job. Want to know another effect of having a casual friendly game, when they are done with it they are less likely to move on to another and more likely to just stop gaming altogether.

There has been a lot of heat on Star Wars and they deserve a lot of it, but we as gamers need to realize that MMO’s need a rewrite. There will never be an Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot or World of Warcraft experience again. Even those who were the ten-year-old gamers will not experience games the way we did because the times are different and because of this MMO’s need to adjust just as our expectations of them should.

My prediction, games will get smaller not larger. Remember the, it’s time to slay the dragon commercial for EQ? Sure, it was made fun of, but there was something important there. It was about 5 or 6 friends coming together in a game. I believe that is our future. The large raids and guilds of 200 plus members are over. MMO’s will become games where you can solo and then call a few friends to do larger content.

star-wars-the-old-republic

Also, MMO’s have to drop the monthly fee. Remember EQ 2 and their 5-dollar content updates? It was a complete joke at the time, but I see that as the future. No monthly fee, weekly bug fixes, maintenance and patches, but every few months you buy a chapter consisting of new quests and zones for a small fee with one big paid expansion per year.

This allows gamers to switch between MMO’s , but still provides enough revenue to keep games going. If companies keep looking to have 20 million subscribers, they will continue to fall short. We have all grown and changed and its time MMO’s followed suit.

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it.

Otherwise, we will just jump from bandwagon to bandwagon waiting for the would-be giant to tumble and laugh as it falls right on top of us.

Gaming PC Benchmarking Guide February 2011

Gaming PC Benchmarking stopwatchIf you are like me then you probably do not have the latest gaming PC out there. Even if you built a new machine it will probably have at least one obsolete part easily within a month or two. Because of this dilemma I have created the following gaming PC benchmarking criteria, which has some modern games and game engines as well as some older ones which still scale well.

A problem a benchmarker will face, especially when comparing an older machine with a newer one is that sometimes the older machine will not be able to run whatever game or benchmark as opposed to the new machine. Not necessarily saying the whole program won’t run but saying that it won’t run at the exact settings that the program runs on the faster, newer machine. Some settings will simply never run because the GPU will never ever have the ability to render those settings as it’s limited at a hardware level.

The specifications for my main gaming PC which is now old are:

OS: Windows XP Professional (Corporate)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA770-DS3
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ 2.8 Ghz
Video Card: Sapphire ATI 3870 512 MB
Memory: G. Skill 4 GB DDR2 800 Mhz (limited to 3.4 GB by the 32-bit OS)
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Live Platinum
Storage: Western Digital 750 GB 7200 RPM HD
Case: generic black case from newegg.com
Power Supply: generic 480 Watt
Peripherals: NEC DVD burner

My concern was to create a benchmarking guide that a normal person that is not running the latest hardware AND does not have an unlimited budget can use to test their system against ours and all the upcoming gaming PCs and parts we plan to review. How to do that? It’s rather simple. I sat there and hunted down many free games and demos that are currently available on the internet for download.

These benchmarks are run at a reasonable resolution that will yield great graphics while getting high frame-rates which a real gamer will use in a real world without risking to suffer lag in a (ranked) game.

As far as my picks go, I could have picked to run other games and just have FRAPS show my the framerates but FRAPS uses the hard drive a lot, especially to record and that would quickly become a bottleneck.

I will discuss why I picked those programs to benchmark now rather than some others which might be more popular. The list is the following:

The RealStorm Global Illumination Bench 2006 test has the following settings:

Demo: 1/5 Global Illumination Compare
Resolution: 1280×1024
Shadows: On
Reflections: On
Anti Alias: On
Depth of Field: On
Volume Lights: On
Radiosity: On

Download it from: http://www.realstorm.de/

This is the default benchmark option for this old benchmarking tool that is now discontinued but it will destroy the living shit out of any system out there. This benchmark uses straight-up RAW CPU processing power. It does NOT have multi-core support and it will simulate the max speed a single core will deliver in a system. Not every program has multi-core support and it’s still extremely important to have each core be as fast as possible. To a limited degree this benchmark does test the RAM as well but it’s mainly for the CPU. It stressed the living shit out of the system by making the CPU render everything, ignoring the GPU.

On my system, under the settings I listed above my computer yielded 2569 raymarks (the raw score used only by this benchmark), as well as 2.61 fps (frames per second) average, a minimum score of 1.7 fps, and a maximum score of 9.27 fps. Yes, that’s really really low but go ahead and run the benchmark on your own system. I hope you have good cooling, because you will need it! ;]

The Battleforge 1024×768 test has the following settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1024×768
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

Download from: http://www.battleforge.com/

Battleforge is a FANTASTIC free-mmo-rts that has kind of been abandoned by EA but it’s still free and many, many people still play it. I have mastered everything in the game and my friends are now all bored of it but I will play it once in a while. You can check my original review of the game here as well as check out my first strategy guide here for doing Battlegrounds as well as my second strategy guide for Battleforge here that shows you how to farm the mission Raven’s End by yourself.

Anyways, this full game is FREE and it includes a built in benchmarking tool. The way to use it is to login first to the game and then not login to your character, instead hit back, and select options, and go to the graphics screen and select to run the benchmark.

I picked this part of the test to run at 1024×768 because when I play the game competitively and most of the time, I run it only at this resolution to get the max amount of framerates and no lag.

At this resolution my system put out an average framerate of 9.2 fps, a minimum framerate of 3.4 fps, and a maximum framerate of 54.9 fps.

Again, if you never checked out the game, I encourage you to do so, especially if you are a massive RTS player. I like this game and benchmark because it taxes your CPU, RAM, and GPU. Every unit in the game moves and attacks in a complex way and it’s a great example of showing how well your system performs playing a real time war game with a ton of units.

The Battleforge 1280×1024 test has the following settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1280×1024
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

Download from: http://www.battleforge.com/

The same as above except with better eyecandy because of the higher resolution.

My average framerate was 6.8 fps, my minimum framerate was 0.5 fps, and my maximum framerate was 53.5 fps. Do you see now why I play it at a lower resolution? The game looks almost the same to me anyways, so might as well avoid lag!

The Dirt 2 1280×1024 max settings test has the following settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60
Multisampling: 8x MSAA
Vsync: Off
Aspect Ratio: Normal
Gamma: 1.0
Night Lighting: High
Shadows: High
Particles: High
Mirrors: Ultra
Crowd: Ultra
Ground Cover: High
Drivers: Ultra
Distant Vehicles: Ultra
Objects: Ultra
Trees: Ultra
Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: Ultra
Post Process: Ultra
Skidmarks: On
Ambient Occlusion: High
Cloth: High

Download from: http://www.codemasters.com/downloads/details.php?id=39424

In my opinion, you cannot get more intense for beating up your gaming system than playing a racing game OTHER than playing a real flight simulator game with all the options on. Think about how fast a system needs to render what’s going in a racing game, especially 200 MPH or higher being scaled realistically and you will see how these games are system killers.

Codemasters games are pure unadulturated eye candy, especially Dirt 2, GRID, and F1 2010. The games keep getting prettier and still run very efficiently despite the graphic quality increase. These games are also system killers because of how great they simulate the physics needed to create a realistic racing and driving experience.

Although I play it usually at a lower resolution, I tested it at 1280×1024 just to stay consistent with my future gaming PC reviews as well as my upcoming new gaming PC that I plan to buy this year so we can see the before and after results. My average framerate was 15.7 fps and my minimum framerate was 13.4 fps.

This IS the game that made me realize I needed to upgrade my machine to a newer system.

The demo (although I have the full game) includes a built in benchmarking tool so it’s a great test.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX 1280×1024 max settings test:

Screen Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Antialiasing: 8x
VSync: Off
Full Screen: On
View Distance: High
Forest: High
Environment: High
Texture Quality: High
HDR: On
Engine Heat: On
DOF: On

Download from: http://www.bigdownload.com/games/tom-clancys-hawx/pc/tom-clancys-hawx-demo/

My friend Chris Mosso, which was my top Lieutenant in my massive guild in Auto Assault, always kept recommending for me to try out Tom Clancy’s HAWX saying it was an amazingly fun game and of course, he was completely right. I hadn’t had that much fun playing a game like that where you fly around fighting for your life since Descent: Freespace. The game is a permanent adrenaline rush and is simply total eye candy. I’ve shown this game to some friends of mine that are not gamers and it got them dizzy from just staring at the screen when I play.

Anyways, although this game is super eyecandy, it does have an AMAZINGLY efficient game engine. I like to include this game in the benchmarking guide because it represents for me what a well written game’s performance would be like with a typical game system. My system got an average framerate of 23 fps and a maximum framerate of 127 fps.

The fun demo includes the benchmarking tool, so it’s totally worth getting.

X3 Terran Conflict 1280×1024 max settings test

Resolution: 1280×1024 Fullscreen
Antialiasing: 8x
Anisotropic Texture Filtering: 16x
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
More Dynamic Light Sources: On
Ship Colour Variations: On

Download from: http://www.egosoft.com/download/x3tc/demos_en.php

My friend Ramiro became a huge fan of the X series after I lent and gave him a copy of X Beyond The Frontier many years ago. As kids, we grew up playing Elite 2: Frontier on my Amiga 600. We thought it was the most epic game every made and and I played it religiously exploring star systems and reading up on their composition and learning a lot about astronomy as well as doing missions nuking planets from space as well as other crazy things like assassinations. I even dabbled with Privateer 1 and 2 later on, but those games were much simpler than both Elite 1 and Elite 2: Frontier.

Anyways, although I played X: Beyond The Frontier a lot and a little of X2, I kind of gave up on that series, especially when I later got into playing Eve Online and found it kind of pointless to play a game like that single player. The people who make the X series have ALWAYS impressed the living hell out of me with how efficient their game engines are as well as how scalable, detailed, and completely beautiful they are.

This game engine will rock the socks of your CPU, RAM, and GPU. I couldn’t believe my eyes as to how detailed the final part of the benchmark was when I saw the massive, super-detailed space station being rendered as it was, on my old gaming PC.

Let’s see the numbers… My system only got a framerate of 17.012 fps in this benchmark but believe me, considering the settings and how beautiful everything looks, that was still higher than I expected it to be. Still, I would maybe play X3 when I get my next gaming machine.

Trackmania Nations

Resolution: 1280×1024
Antialiasing: 16 samples
Shadows: Complex
Shader Quality: PC3 High
Texture Quality: High
Max Filtering: Anisotropic 16x
Geometry Details: Normal
PostProcess FXs: On
Force Dynamic Colors: On
Force Motion Blur: On
Force Bloom: On
Water Geometry: On
Stadium Water Geometry: On
Trees Always High Quality: On

Download from: http://trackmania.com/

Trackmania is still one of my favorite racing game series of all time. This benchmark is done using the game Trackmania Nations that has always been the free version of Trackmania and the one that most people in the world play. I highly recommend getting Trackmania United if you are serious about having FUN in playing a racing game MMO.

This game is a massive physics simulator and it has looked good right from the start. The game engine is probably even as efficient as probably the Unreal engine except that Epic Games doesn’t put out free games! At 1280×1024 my system puts out an average framerate of 31.8 fps.

Okay, so there’s the list. Yeah, you might say that who cares because my system is running Windows XP and therefore DirectX 9 but the way I see it, gaming is a lot like racing cars in the real world. You might run DX11 on your Windows 7 box but if you barely run stuff and my system gets higher framerates than yours, that’s pretty sad. Only real results matter in the real world! I say fuck it, compare apples to oranges. I just care if the system will be able to run a game 100% stable as well as with decent performance.

So that about wraps it up. I hope you use my February 2011 benchmarking guide to test out your system and post some results below as comments. I know my system is a 2007 average price gaming system but let’s see what my next PC yields! And let’s see what the gaming PCs I will review soon will show us. Will these brands defend their speed claims when being tested in the real world? Stay tuned!

The Interview: Ned Coker: CCP

CCP logo
CCP logo

CCP

So pretty much all of us are fans of CCP here at Obsolete Gamer, many of us were and still are Eve players so when we got a chance to do a bunch of Gamer Profiles from CCP staff we were honored to publish them.

We wanted to go a bit beyond the gamer profile and find out what it like working for CCP and what else is going on in their world. Ned Coker was kind enough to chat with us about himself, CCP and their upcoming projects.

 

CCP: Gravy can baseball

Can you tell us about how you came to work for CCP?

Ned Coker: I was a marketing intern at White Wolf Publishing in 2006 right before the merger with CCP. Upon the melding of the two companies, how could I not continue riding the juggernaut? I got to my current position, being in charge of EVE Online’s Public Relations, after working my way up through the ranks, losing my fair share of battleships in pursuit of “getting to know EVE” and proving my love of our products to those around me.

What game did you first work on?

Ned Coker: The first game that I contributed design work to was a White Wolf product line called Scion.  I’ve even co-authored a part of the Scion Companion book on the Hindu Pantheon.  Once I switched over to EVE PR, I’ve joined my other coworkers in plenty of CCP “open brainstorming” sessions. I still do some stuff for the White Wolf part of EVE too.

What is it like working for CCP, the day to day?

Ned Coker: It’s probably easier to show you a few videos… take your pick.

NSFW Lyrics

Just because you work with games does not always mean you are a gamer however, a lot of people at CCP are true gamers, what is that experience like?

Ned Coker: Being able to share a common “language” is amazing—considering that we all pretty much grew up loving games of all sorts.  From actual playtesting to Halo 2 conference room trash talking to some long standing pen and paper games, it’s refreshing and well, comforting to feel like nearly everyone here is a brother by another mother or a sister by a different mister. Do we all agree that Star Control 2 had one of the greatest multiplayer components of any game ever? No, but not everyone here shares my vision.

Can you tell us about your other games?

Ned Coker: Well, I could talk for years and years about CCP’s game design, the settings etc, but the easiest thing to do is to just reiterate that from White Wolf’s storytelling system to EVE Online and further into the future, we hold several things at the core of creating games. Maximize human interaction. That’s really it.  It’s the shared experience of gaming that makes them wonderful. Sitting around a table or chatting from a thousand miles away. Whether it’s telling cooperative stories about vampires or negotiating economic deals across star systems, all of our games point towards a shared experience on many scales.

 

 

The one-to-one encounters to the thousand person shared experiences.  Leaving the choices and goal-making up to players is also a key tenant in our game design.  Sure, it requires more imagination, but it also provides tremendous rewards. Sort of like a homemade meal just tastes better than fast food because you put some elbow grease into it. These things will never change about our games and in the future you’ll see us trying to innovate with our philosophies as a base.

CCP: After a Friday barbecue

With EVE Online, what was the overall goal you wanted the game to achieve?

Ned Coker: Mazimize human interaction. It seems like a lofty goal for a game, but it’s what’s at the heart and soul of the original game design, why the “sandbox” style was chosen.  A secondary goal would be to create a really amazing Science Fiction experience. EVE has a lot of room to grow to capture all the Sci Fi hallmarks, but the sense of scale and exploration are there. Of course the battles. And, well, with the addition of Incarna next year, we’re taking a huge leap forward.  On a less philosophical level, we are always refining our goals.  As a business, we want more subscribers, but we also want subscribers who are contributing to the game and who will stick around with us because they provide invaluable content for the game itself. We also want EVE Forever. So far, we’re nearly 8 years in and it’s changed a lot and kept growing.

More CCP Downtime: CCP Atlanta’s head chef

Seeing it today with a strong following are you happy with the results?

Ned Coker: There were many mistakes along the way, as is natural with any evolving product, but I can safely speak for the founders in saying that they never imagined EVE would change so much or be so popular. Our players have been really patient and helpful in building EVE.  So, yes, extremely happy.

What was something you wanted to add to Eve Online that you haven’t been able to yet?

Ned Coker: Yes. There’s a LONG LONG LIST. Luckily, there’s room to grow, so it’s just a matter of time.

What is the next major step for Eve Online?

 

Ned Coker: Right now we’re deploying EVE Online: Incursion, which adds a huge new feature in the form of group content.  Up next is really more like a whole staircase instead of a step—Incarna—the name of our technologically massive effort to bring realistic avatars to the game.  Did I say realistic? Here’s a test version video made by a player.


Can you tell us about your gaming background personal and professional?

Ned Coker: Sure. I’ve been gaming since I was really really really young, since my dad worked for IBM.  Nintendo was my first big jump into true nerdery though, and from there I split my interests amongst tabletop, a long stint at Magic: the Gathering and numerous consoles and then getting back into PC gaming after high school.  I’ve always been about world building and roleplaying, and never took my FPS games too seriously. For me, it’s all about the experience of playing with others, so I reveled in Goldeneye 64, roleplaying games, and now the glorious, indefatigable MMOs.

 

Professionally, my “career” really started with White Wolf as a marketing intern. I know, lucky me avoiding the real world (I don’t count shorter summer jobs).  Before that—and after college—I was writing a novel, which I never finished but will eventually.

What are you currently playing?

Ned Coker: Currently I’m all about Team Fortress 2 and EVE Online. They fulfill both parts of my personality. For tabletop, I switch between White Wolf stuff and a homebrew D&D 4E game.

What’s the next major event for CCP?

 

Ned Coker: Fanfest, and the party at the top of the world. I hope you’ll join me there. I’ll buy you a drink!


Fanfest 2011 trailer

John “Loktofeit” Albano: CCP

CCP_on_black

Name: John “Loktofeit” Albano

Company: CCP Games

Profession: Copywriter

Favorite Classic Game: Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

Quote: Wizardry offers fun hack-n-slash CRPG gameplay with just the right mix of story, progression, risk and reward to keep me entertained even decades later.


Curt Hartung: CCP

CCP_on_black

Name: Curt Hartung

Company: CCP

Profession: Programmer

Favorite Classic Game: Ultima IV

Quote: I spent over a year plumbing this game right after its release, on my apple //c, from start to finish, with no internet or cheat guides or outside help. The minimalist graphics and rich sandbox-like content allowed me to become a part of the story in a way that no other game ever has. I don’t lament the advances in computing and graphics, but would be lying if I didn’t admit that some small part of me pines for the days when the details of epic battles and special effects were supplied by imagination alone. I wager I am not alone when I see modern renderings or updated graphics of those worlds and think “that’s not how mine looks”. It was a game that required note-taking, imagination, introspective thought and interaction that wasn’t “pick one of these two answers”.


Jóhann Haukur Gunnarsson: CCP

CCP_on_black

Name: Jóhann Haukur Gunnarsson (CCP 2PIE)

Company: CCP

Profession: Associate Programmer

Favorite Classic Game: XCOM: UFO DEFENSE

Quote: For me this is the golden turn based strategy game. I still play it, even though I have finished this game so often I’ve long lost count of it. The suspense when you wait for your turn as the AI opponent stalks around is immense. The research effort, the amount of content, the strategy behind where you place your bases and what countries you strife to defend give this game a lot of depth. Replayability is an often coveted word, but few gameshave as long lasting value as that game did, and still does. And ahh, I also fondly remember the various ways I could cheat in the game by editing its save-files.


Ned Coker: CCP

CCP logo black

Name: Ned Coker (CCP Manifest)

Company: CCP

Profession: Public Relations

Favorite Classic Game: Mario Kart 64

Quote: This was the only game I played for a year and a half to the virtual exclusion of all others. For someone who has gamed consistently since the Atari days, that says a lot about the strength of this game, it’s staying power and the amount of fun I had with my high school friends playing it—particularly in Battle Mode.  So many memories I’m not sure where to start, but there was just enough “Question mark” luck, strategy, diversity, taunting and “kingmaker” gameplay in it in battle mode to keep every match fresh even for the limited map selection.  Nothing like taking out all three balloons and the bomb with one Star use. Simplicity at its finest. And finally, I reserve Princess Peach as my character if you wish to challenge me.


EVE Online: Tyrannis announced

Eve Tynannis cover
Eve Tynannis cover

When traveling across the vast reaches of space you will undoubtedly come across hundreds of beautiful planets and in EVE what is a better thing to do to these lush bountiful planets but to harvest the living hell out of them.

In the newly announced expansion, Tyrannis you will have that chance. EVE Online Senior Producer Torfi Frans Olafsson announced on the official website that players will be able to survey planets for juicy deposits of minerals and other goodies, build infrastructure to harvest them, store them, process them and launch them into space. Build complex networks of facilities and fine tune them for optimal production.

We are not just talking about a small number of planets. we are talking all of them, gas giants, the lava planets, the ice worlds, the water worlds and even the elusive plasma planets. Each type with their unique properties. Maintaining facilities on gruesomely hostile planets will be tougher and more demanding, but the rewards may be so much more “onturning.”

As for combat on the planets the word at the moment is no. This expansion is about exploration and industry. When something goes bad or breaks it is because of the owner‘s mismanagement, and when things are awesome and perfect, it is because of skill and hard labor on part of the player that runs the facilities.

In future expansions you will be able to project military force for attack and defense of planetary installations. That will be where DUST 514 will connect with EVE. But DUST 514 will not be coming out at the same time as Tyrannis, so that is at a later date.

Tyrannis has no set release date but expect it to be released before the summer solstice according to the blog.

For more information check out the original article here.

Battleforge

Battleforge Logo
Battleforge Logo

Battleforge Review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The lovechild of Warcraft 2/3 on crack mixed with Magic the Gathering.”

Overall Score:

9 out of 10

Overview:

This is an RTS MMO by Phenomic and it is run by/published by Electronic Arts. The player takes the role of a Sky Lord, which is basically like a minor god mage that manifests units, buildings, and spells in the mortal realm. Every action in the game takes form of a card to represent the icon for the unit/building/spell which is played in real time whenever the player builds up enough power (mana) to cast/summon it. There are four disciplines of magic: Shadow, Fire, Frost, and Nature. You can make up your army of any mixture of disciplines. There are only two resources during battles, power wells which make power (mana) and monuments (orbs) which are your units/building/spell tier tech levels. Cards are bought using real money which buys one BFPs (battleforge points) either from EA or by buying the game. Trade in game is also possible so it’s not really necessary to buy the game at all if one wants to put in the time instead. The game is divided up into PVP and PVE. The PVP is divided up into unranked (practice), collection (any cards go) 1vs1 and 2vs2 (ranked), and tome (specific to cards bought that month in a random collection) 1vs1 and 2vs2 (ranked). The PVE takes the form of premade missions that are either single player, 2 player, 4 player, or 12 player. A new game mode has been added in Nov 2009 which adds random pve maps from 1-4 players and adds the reward system of the PVP system. As far as rewards go, missions give the player in game money (gold) and upgrades for unit/building/spell cards the player may or may not already own. The goal of the game is up to you, whether to own every card in the game, get all upgrades for them, or dominate the pvp ladders. The initial launch of the game in the US seems to have failed (as far as I know) and it’s relatively cheap to play it here vs the rest of the world. There is no monthly subscription fee and the game is “Play4Free.”

If you already know the game but would like my tips, click here to read my strategy guide on how to do battlegrounds properly.

Fun Factor:

It’s been 2 months since I started playing it and I am still lured back to the game. I hate MMOs in general but for what this is, the usual biweekly updates keep me coming back for more. It’s a lot of fun setting the difficulty higher each time to level up my real life micromanagement skills and I really enjoy sometimes being able to hold out 6-7 fronts throughout different parts of the battlefield all at once. I’ll give the fun factor score for Battleforge a 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

There have been times that I have been doing a mission with a friend for an hour on the max difficulties only to fail for not paying attention for about a minute or two. The difficulties for the missions scale very fast as there are 3 difficulties (Standard, Advanced, Expert) at the time of this writing. Let’s just say you better be good to play Expert. 😀 For the Random PVE maps, they implemented a bar that slides from 1 to 10 so it’s a lot more customizable and the game earns a lot of points in this category for that. For PVP, people have researched the living crap out of the game by now so there are pvp guides out there for people who just want to stick to other people’s strategies. I have myself countered some of the instawin bullshit strategies so I think the game has a lot to offer. I give the difficulty versatility a 10 out of 10.

Value:

Since the game is free, the game has a great Value score. You can download the full game from the main Battleforge website. With the Play4Free account one gets a limited amount of cards but it’s still possible to pretty much do everything in the game with them, although it will very hard to do so if just using these free cards as many basic cards are missing from the free account. To solve that one can trade gold for cards (risky because of the nature of the trade system in game) or if one wanted to be really cheap one can spend the bare minimum real money and add $5 through the EA website to their Battleforge account. That basically translates to one cent is one BFP and with those assets one can either buy two booster packs in game (which I don’t recommend) or buy a lot of cheap 2 cent cards in the auction house and then build up one’s army slowly. Those 500 bfps can also be used to farm the auction house and slowly start earning bfps through one’s buying out of and reselling in the auction house. It’s up to you if you want to put in the time and this can be a game in itself. I myself are notorious for my AH buyouts. (evil grin) If you opt out and buy the full game for $20, you get almost every basic card in the game automatically and 3000 bfps which you can use to buy boosters/tomes/cards in AH, etc. In the long run this is the best value for the in game economy of your character. Since the game has no subscription fee and it’s only $7 or $20 for many, many days/weeks/months of entertainment the game gets a 10 out of 10 in this category from me.

You can get the game from Direct2Drive or Steam for $20 or for close to 7 dollars on Amazon since the game is not as popular as they anticipated. This is by far the best value way to get the game.

Replayability:

The number of missions is limited but since there are three difficulties for each and each difficulty is completely different, these missions will offer at least a whole month worth of entertainment until you grow tired of them. The random pve can be a lot of fun since you pick whatever custom difficulty you want and it’s a random map/enemy every time. They can be extremely challenging. For PVP you can spend endless hours trying to fight your way up the ladder system. It’s up to you what your goals will be and you can always invent new ones. 😀 I’ll give the replayability an 8 out of 10. I do hope that they keep adding more content for this game if not this score will drop.

Sound:

The sound of the explosions and swords rattling is great. The voice actors they picked do a nice job as every unit has their own sounds, some which are funny, some which are generic. Overall I give the sound category a 7 out of 10.

Music:

Each discipline of magic has its own music score which sounds great, except to me the nature music which is kind of annoying (reminds me of the Lion King). My favorites are the music for Shadow (sounds like something out of Gladiator mixed with music from the Dawn of War games) and Fire (sounds like a mix of Assassin’s Creed music). The music can get repetitive, well if you play the game like I do (100 missions in a row, etc). Overall I still think they put a great effort on the soundscore and I reward this game a 7 out of 10 for the music.

Graphics:

The graphics for this game are simply beautiful! To my knowledge this is one of the first games to embrace DX11 and it’s sponsored directly by AMD/ATI (even gets promoted directly on their website and I saw the add for it when updating to the latest ATI video drivers). Each card in the game has its own custom icon which is very pleasing considering this is an RTS game. Special versions of cards (promotion cards) have an even more custom avatar for the units with a special skin and/or better graphics. I think this is one of the better looking RTS games out there and the graphics remind me a lot of Guild Wars and Age of Wonders 2, which as far as graphics go are a great thing! Graphics gets a 9 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall the game is stable but…there are drops in connection/desynch when you least expect it. This might be because of latency issues between people playing far away but I had been playing this game with my brother which lives in the same house as I do and one of my best friends which lives blocks from my house and the match ends because of a desynch issue. This doesn’t happen all the time but I do want to bring it up because for an online game this is a deal breaker. As far as server up time, the servers are up 99.9% of the time with the only times I saw them down being for an update to the game which took about 30-50 minutes and one time for general maintenance. Compared to WoW or Eve Online, EA really does a much better job for quality of service. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 6 out of 10.

Controls:

The game implements the WASD scroll which is great and now makes other RTS games controls seem clumsy. Most hotkeys for commands of units are the same key which simplies micromanagement even further. I give Controls a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

I don’t run the latest hardware and the game runs like a champ on an AMD Athlon X2 5400 CPU and an ATI Radeon 3870 512 PCI Express MB video card. My brother is running the game playable on an AMD Athlon 64 3000 CPU and an ATI X800 AGP video card. Most gamers will be able to run this games on any modern gaming PC. I give it a score of 9 out of 10 for performance.

My history with this game:

I downloaded the demo for this game and I wanted it so suck so much but instead it was enough fun that I stopped playing most other games for a good month or two. I got most of my friends addicted to playing it, even those who hardly ever buy new games bought multiple copies of the game and we got a lot of members added to out gaming clan because of this game. I’ve been playing for two months and I have still a way to go before completing my card/army collection. Probably by the time this will happen another expansion will come out (there has already been one made) so that will keep me even more interested.