Profile: Hollyanne Setola

Name: Hollyanne Setola

Favorite Classic Game: Donkey Kong Country

We are in the age of gaming for all the good and the bad. The good, a smart, talented woman who began her love of gaming at age 5 and by age 12 was getting into competitive gaming where she has achieved much success. The bad, dealing with trolls, haters and mean spiritedness that are far too often associated with gaming.

Alt F4 was honored to feature Hollyanne Setola in our latest episode where we talked about her history of gaming from being introduced to gaming by her grandmother who worked at NASA, to her Counter Strike days with her teammates. We also talked about the current landscape of gaming and todays gamers and the difference between now and only a few years ago. Our discussion about bullying and internet trolls sheds some light on what many, but specifically women deal with in gaming today.

Overall an excellent talk with a very interesting gamer. We hope you will watch and let us know what you think.

Gaming Under the Influence

Gaming under the influence

Gaming Under the Influence

As the video game industry and culture has continued to grow, gaming has grown from interactive entertainment to a spectator sport. Numerous leagues and streaming websites now feature live streaming broadcasts of almost any video game in the world, ranging from major competitions to walk-throughs of popular titles taking place in a gamer’s living room.

Gaming Under the Influence aims to change the rules and bring video game competition out of the the living room. Taking place every Friday night from O’Malley’s Liquor Kitchen in ChicagoGUI brings television production quality to the table as participants take part in a combination of video game competition and drinking games.

“A couple years ago, I toyed around with the idea of doing something different than a ‘stream’,” said GUI‘s Jared Hoffa. “I play a lot of games, but I can’t sit and watch someone play games on Twitch. It bores the hell out of me.”

According to Hoffa, it was a trip to another part of the world that helped him put the pieces together for the show that would become GUI.

“I headed over to South Korea for fun and made it a point to see what they were doing in TV and gaming,” he said. “As most gamers know, professional video gaming is serious business over there and broadcasted on two major networks. What you might not know is the studio that makes all this magic is smaller than a high school gymnasium and broadcasted in standard definition. The same day, the executives at KBS-TV showed me GAG, a live, improv show that seats 500 audience members every show. It was unbelievable. With that, I had my motivation.”

Bringing video gamers out of gaming streams and into an entertainment venue was aimed at bringing them to the forefront, according to Hoffa. Several video game personalities, including Robot Combat League contestant Keisha Howard, have already appeared on GUI.

“I wanted people besides hardcore gamers to be engaged and have fun,” Hoffa added. “I wanted gamers to find a new platform to showcase their talent and their personality. Take off the Turtle Beaches and get out of the chairs. Give people a show!”

Stressing that Gaming Under the Influence is not a video game livestream, Hoffa brings years of television experience to the live show.

“I’ve been an on-air personality for NBC Universal’s In The Loop w/ iVillage, and a producer/shooter/editor for ABC, NBC, and WCIU-TV in Chicago,” he said. “As of now, I’m on-air as the witty App-Man on ABC7 Chicago’s Windy City Live. Television is fun, brutal, and unforgiving in every-way possible, but it’s an experience I’d never want to live without. GUI takes an entire production team and a slew of equipment to make possible. All the graphics you see, all the effects and camera changes is happening live.”

The surroundings of Gaming Under the Influence combined with a live broadcast brings an unpredictable element to the show, according to Hoffa.

“Every show we do, something memorable happens,” he said. “I think my favorite show is when a random old guy in a suit jumped on stage and started dancing next to the contestants. It was random, it was hilarious, and it threw everyone off…even our play-by-play announcer.”

Gaming Under the Influence airs live every Friday night at TheGUIShow.com. Viewers can interact with the live shows by voting with the Hot Box throughout the broadcast.

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

Andy Briggs: Pwned

pwned-dot-com

Name: Andy Briggs

Company: Pwned

Title: Founder

NES_Tetris_Box_Front

What is your favorite classic video game:  Tetris

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvUK-YWYcaE[/youtube]

Why is it your favorite: This is a tough question, I could of gone with a few games that I loved growing up, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Mario Bros., Skate or Die and countless other ones, Tetris is just one of those games that I can jump into at any time, play a quick game and bounce right out. I feel it still holds up today with gameplay. 

It’s not a very complicated game and the graphics might be big blocks, but to me, that’s the appeal of the game. To this day, I still play it as often as I can, maybe once a week or more if time allows. The reason why I love this game is because it causes you to objectively think fast. It’s just one of those games that I can be so emerged into that I don’t really care what’s happening outside, it’s nice to feel lost in a game that requires critical thinking.

One of the last reasons that I love this game is that you can never win playing Type A. It’s literally impossible to win. If you’re wondering what my highest score is, I can’t say I know the exact number, but I’ve gotten to level 23 quite a few times. I generally average about

19-21 after I’ve played a few rounds to warm up.

The Interview: Ben Gonyo: Gamers Film

Gamers Film logo
Gamers Film logo

Gamers Film

So what is the best way to learn about MMORPG’s the gaming world and the culture surrounding it? The answer is to immerse yourself in their world and ask a ton of questions and that is exactly what Ben Gonyo did in his film Gamers.

Ben spent over two years inside the world of gamers and came back with a wealth of information. Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Ben about his film and what he learned on his journey.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us a little about the documentary film, Gamers?

Ben: Gamers documents my two year journey into MMORPG games. I played the games and documented what it was like. I interviewed more than 100 gamers, critics, super fans, psychologists and developers. Special guests include Jay Mohr, RA Salvatore and Curt Schilling.

Obsolete Gamer: What led you to wanting to do a documentary of this type?

Ben: I’ve always loved games. Once I graduated college and started working in TV I had a lot less time to play. I kept hearing about WOW and what a huge hit game it is. How people are crazy for it. I used to play Warcraft 1 back when it was RTS. So I decided I’d find out everything I could about MMORPG and make a documentary about it. It was a great experience and opened a lot of doors.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the process of getting the documentary made?

Ben: A lot of research and then setting up interviews and shooting them. Also traveling to conventions, getting clearance to shoot and hiring help. Lastly I had to edit it and get permission from all the companies to show their game footage in my film. To my knowledge my documentary is one of the few features that Blizzard has officially ok’d WOW footage in.

Obsolete Gamer: Over two years gathering data on MMORPG games, can you tell us about some of the things you learned about the industry?

Ben: I learned how big the gaming industry is, roughly $45 billion a year. Yet MMORPG games are relatively small at less than 5% of it. But they are the fastest growing outside of social network games like Mafia Wars on Facebook. In addition, MMORPG games are higher risk/higher reward because they take 3-5 years to create and have budgets in excess of $20 million dollars. The business structure is similar to a Hollywood film.

Obsolete Gamer: There are a ton of stereotypes about MMO players what was your overall take on them compared to the people you met?

Ben: MMO gamers are great people. They generally have a good sense of humor and like to laugh at themselves. They also tend to have jobs, which plays against the “unemployed” stereotype. With that said, they are also the first to admit that they probably spend a little too much time with their games. Many of them realize that they play too much, that it’s not good but admit that they really like it and find it hard to stop.

 

 

 

Obsolete Gamer: There has been a lot of talk of MMO addiction, with your research what were the similarities and differences between MMO addiction and other addictions such as drugs?

Ben: MMO addiction is more social rather than physical, like drugs might be. Players like the sense of accomplishment, the easy rewards, the online “friendships,” which are easy to establish yet have little strength in the real world.

The similarities to other addictions is that it interrupts the normal, healthy patterns of a productive and happy person and replaces them with things that are easier yet less rewarding in the long term.

The difference is that players are often not affected physically (save a lack of exercise.) MMO addiction is a little easier to break and most players are able to step away from a game after a year of abuse. They are able to realize that maybe this game is not the best for me and I’ll take a break. Many drug addicts struggle lifelong with addiction.

Obsolete Gamer: What were your observations on the social aspect of MMO players both inside and outside of the game?

Ben: Inside the game, social interaction is the strength of the MMO genre. It is what makes it so compelling. The games can be rather boring without friends to pal around with in game. I talk about this in the film. When my guild disbanded I became very bored in game.

Outside of the game there are often not many social connections. In fact players often cut down time spent with real world social groups and replace that within game social interaction, which can be unhealthy.

Obsolete Gamer: Was it difficult to have people talk candidly to you about themselves considering the stigma of being an MMO player?

Ben: Not at all. People were very open and honest. Gamers are an open group, which made documenting them easier.

Obsolete Gamer: It is the belief by many MMO gamers that larger corporations could care less about the games and the gamers and it is just about profits, what did you discover?

Ben: I disagree with that. Of the companies I spoke with and got to know, I would say these are passionate gamers wanting to create the best game possible. Yes there is a business to be run and I’m sure there are boards that care less about the game and more about the profit but overall developers are gamers. Very few people want to go to the trouble to create a game if they don’t care about gaming. Also some games are going to be failures, it’s like that in any creative field. Overall I think developers do care and take it personally when a game does not live up to high standards.

Obsolete Gamer: What was the most interesting story you came across during your two year span?

Ben: A friend of mine named Alison told me about her close friend Kevin whom she never saw any more. She said that his involvement in WOW put a huge strain on the friendship.

Readers can watch the section for themselves on Babelgum:

http://www.babelgum.com/6002175/gamers-mmo-game-addiction.html

Obsolete Gamer: Was there anything you wanted to get into the film but could not?

Ben: Yes I did a section about Massive LAN in Buffalo, NY. 80 person LAN party in a rented out volunteer fire hall. Great people and funny times. Just did not fit into the film.

Obsolete Gamer: What’s next for you?

Ben: Hoping to do another gaming film in the future. Right now I’m shooting a documentary about a trio of guys that make monster movies in their basement. Hilarious stuff. Already got a TV deal done for that with Doc. Channel. It’s called THE NEW BLOOD.

New Blood Online: www.newbloodfilm.com

Also developing a series of short films at www.LocalLocal.tv


Looking Glass Studios, The Series Finale

Looking Glass Studios logo
Looking Glass Studios logo

Looking Glass Studios, The Series Finale

5 part videos shot by Mike Chrzanowski showing the day that Looking Glass Studios closed down their doors.

My fondest memories of their games are System Shock 1 and 2 and Thief 1 and 2.

Looking Glass Studios existed from 1990 to 2000.

Here is a look at the day they shut down.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Thanks to Mike for sharing this experience with the gaming world and video game history.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Mouth Breather

Angry Multiplayer

You are traversing with a small battalion of your closest friends through a seething cave leading toward the coiling serpent dragon which has daunted your whole lot for the past three weeks. This monster has left the nearby village smoldering, killed your king, left the country in shambles and you’ve gathered a force formidable enough to make this monstrosity’s blood fill the rivers from their draught. The time has come. It is asleep. The archers ready their bow; your knights raise their shields defensively; the finger tips of your mages are encompassed by the hostile arcane. You are ready. Your blade cuts through the air like a guillotine towards the nape of the behemoth’s neck. You are suddenly countered by a shrieking voice which drops your whole party to their knees. “MOM! Give me thirty more minutes! I’m raiding with my friends! No!!! I won’t get off! I hate you!”

The Lion The Witch And The Mouth Breather
The Lion The Witch And The Mouth Breather

For those who game online, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It is the whining little kid in your party who is constantly on open mic, screaming at his mother about how unfairly they treat him. The ranting doesn’t end. Oh no, far from it. It continues for hours unless someone takes the initiative to kick this mouth breather out of your Vent channel. If there’s one thing that can ruin online gaming it’s the damn, disrespectful gamers who do not use Push-To-Talk when you’re playing. Oh, and before I continue, I’m not hating on little kids who are filled with angst because I hate almost all people who don’t know how to cover their microphones. I’m going to go ahead and divide these various personas up and give you a diagnosis of why they are a bane to internet multiplayer.

· Pizza Eating Joe – Joe is or wishes he was a frat boy. He thinks he’s cool online by exposing his wit in the midst of quoting movies, cackling at every joke and getting involved in every conversation. While these characteristics are enough to want to hurt Joe, he does something that crosses the line of internet ethics (yes, the internet has ethics). Joe likes to chew pizza with an open mic and lets everyone hear it. The most direct method to ending this gushing ambiance is to tell Joe to push the microphone away while he purees his food down his gullet. He illogically retorts with reassurance that the pizza is very delicious. No one cares, Joe. We don’t want to think about that greasy pizza touching your microphone increasing the chances of it rubbing against your acne ridden face. His intentions are simple. He’s cool and he’s eating pizza. He wants you to experience how awesome he is when he eats pizza.

· Mouth Breathing Mendoza – Mendoza has one issue or another which causes him to have a problem breathing. Be it a stuffy nose, obesity, respiratory issues, or he just breathes like an ogre, Mendoza feels the need to place his mic either on the rimming of his booger-encrusted nose or gently caressing his upper lip area. He knows Push-To-Talk is there but he feels it is a priority that you hear what he has to say amidst all of his wheezing. All you will hear is his deep, pedophiliac breathing on your ear for moments at a time until he finally says something that is blatantly obvious to all parties involved in the situation. It isn’t even enough that he quietly lingers just to blurt these sudden non-issue comments but his voice output exceeds any safety regulation the Lord has put forth for your ears to survive and endure. One night with Mouth Breathing Mendoza and you leave feeling violated with a stream of blood dripping from your damaged ear drums.

· Rage Induced Ralph – When something goes wrong, Rage Induced Ralph answers his calling. Did you accidentally aggro a room? Did your friendly fire affect him? Was his kill stolen by you? Have no fear, because this internet tough guy is there to talk you down and constantly rant. His breathing is heavy because his adrenaline is pumping. His TV or Speaker volume is maxed out so you can hear that double echoing feedback from when he finally gets revenge on you for what you did. God forbid Ralph has a significant other because chances are that your grief onto him is going to make him flip out on this innocent bystander. Ralph will not stop trashing talking you and taunting you until your match is over. The reason Ralph is like this is simple. He’s either living in or from New Jersey, his skin is carrot colored, and he has a ridiculous blow out. Harming this man’s ego is like murdering his infant child. Be careful og this predator because he never forgives and he never forgets.

· Static Bomb Baxter– You’ve known him online for quite some time. He’s not a bad guy but he isn’t quite one of “the guys” yet until he gets a mic to talk to the crew. Constantly being asked to get a microphone, Baxter finally types into your guild’s chat and says “I have an old one I could use. I don’t know if it works though.” It is at this point some people rejoice that Baxter can join into the conversation but you know better than that. Those dreaded final texted words will be the end of you all. Baxter returns with his microphone, installs the software needed to join your channel and that normally welcoming chime rings in the channel when he finally joins. He doesn’t know about Push-To-Talk so he has to be guided through it. Regrettably, his sound is so loud on his headphones it carries over through the microphone. It creates a loop of feedback that takes some time for all parties to recover from. When the mist has cleared, Baxter finally mutters a word into the mic. A static blast of malfunctioning hardware spits into your membrane, causing disorientation, double vision, internal bleeding, and for some reason or another, you produced a kidney stone. You beg Baxter to stop talking but he doesn’t listen because he can’t hear you on his headset! He continues with this barrage until you all submit to the pain. Baxter disappears after this embarrassment and is never seen in-game again.

· Cry Baby Christopher – As stated in the introduction to this little rant, Christopher is a teenager who is still finding his place in this world. Unfortunately, the unforgiving world of the internet does not want him until he finds that place. The problem with Christopher is that he is young and doesn’t know what Push-To-Talk is and even when he does figure it out, his finger is always jammed firmly against that key so you hear him all the time. He’s fine when he doesn’t talk. As a matter of fact, he’s probably better at the game than you are. The downside to Christopher is that he isn’t a mute. He likes to brag about all the ladies in his school who want him and how badass he is when he plays pranks on his unfortunate teacher. Regardless of how desperately he seeks approval from his peers, Christopher always finds a way to lose that respect. That loss usually occurs at bed time when his parents demand he goes to bed and that his addiction to the internet is too great. He combines all the aspects of every persona described. He is angry, he is probably eating, he’s now wheezing, and his microphone is receiving a lot of static from his high pitched shrieks. Normally after such outbursts, Christopher is exiled from the internet.

Clearly, I pointed out the personas commonly encountered and while I can’t suggest a remedy that will destroy these individuals before they are garnered a chance to speak, I can recommend some very basic tips for those who feel fall into any of these categories.

  1. Turn off your microphone.
  2. Move the microphone away from your face when you aren’t speaking.
  3. Learn Push-To-Talk.
  4. Don’t speak ever.
  5. Destroy your modem or Wi-Fi receiver.

I certainly hope these reasonable tips will help these individuals progress in their careers as internet users. If not, in the foreseeable and very near future more people will be plagued with these Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse. In any case, I’m off and back into the fray to play Modern Warfare 2 with my friend Baxter.

My Favorite Ventrilo Harassments

The Internet and Real Life are two different things
The Internet and Real Life are two different things

My Favorite Ventrilo Harassments by Honorabili

Need a good laugh? Check out these videos to show clever pranks done on fellow & noob gamers by the Ventrilo Harassment experts!

I love a good prank as some of my favorite victims already know… Onto the videos!

Ventrilo Harassment – Tina & The WoW Nerds

The girl sounds so cute…

…but sometimes stupid at the same time. So many great lines such as “Thank God she’s gone so now I don’t have to talk in a deep voice.”

Ventrilo Harassment – Chris Hansen 2

You might not be able to control your “horny level” …

…but it is terrible sexy.

Ventrilo Harassment – Duke Nukem Style

“I’ve got balls of steel!”

The best is how the lady just complete snaps! “I don’t think your mother’s very happy about it!” The classic: “I’ll kill you OLD STYLE!”

Ventrilo Harassment – Peggy Forever

In fact, the mom comes back as a ghost to forever haunt Ventrilo Harassment victims. 😀

“Um, Ma’am! This is my vent server.”

Ventrilo Harassment – The Girl

“There’s a girl on our vent server.”

“It may be against the rules to mute a chick.”

Ventrilo Harassment – World Of Warcraft Nerd

“4 Strength, 4 Stam Leather Belt!”

“It sounds just like Joe! (angry) No, it’s not!!”

Ventrilo Harassment – World Of Warcraft Nerd 3

What this kid says kills me…

Kids say the craziest things. “Dude, my mom got me this new game.”

Ventertainment – 1337 haxz0rz

“I got this kid’s credit card info. LUL!”

“I got his IP!” “I got this kids LUL!”

Ventrilo Harassment – Your Mother

Of course, we need to have one with Arnold.

I like it when at least they play along.

Ventrilo Harassment – You Banned The Wrong Person!

Of course, it’s easy to get confused especially when being pranked by one of the experts…

Like in this one where they punished the innocent. 😀

Ventertainment – Nerds of Confusion

“That’d be fucking hot!”

I like how one of the players thought he was hearing things from drinking too much. 😀

Ventertainment – Nerd Confusion 2: Awesome Edition

Funny how nerdy people sound sometimes and to have to hear that crap over and over…

So whiny!

Ventertainment – Nerd Confusion 3: The Ring

This one is probably one of the funniest ones because they have no freaking clue as to what’s going on. They just keep having fun with it though and that makes it great!

Their explanations are epic, such as getting feedback from outer space, aliens, etc. Good fun!

Ventertainment – Mad As Hell

So great that they used the best lines from Network, which these kids have never seen…

“You’ve got to get mad!” The ending is so great!

Ventertainment – Halloween 3

The use of music and slowed down voices is great in this one!

The girl gets so scared by her own voice. Ah yes!

Ventertainment – Sticky Keys

I love how people just keep thinking stuff crashes without getting any messages and other people trying to provide shitty tech support.

“It keeps saying *DUN DUN DUN DAH*”

Ventertainment – Bubb Rubb

Love the noobs…

“The whistle goes WOO WOO!”

***

Well kids, that’s enough bullshit for today! Enjoy, laugh, be merry, keep gaming, and get pranked!

F-Zero review & strategy guide

F-Zero Title
F-Zero Title

F-Zero review & strategy guide (SNES) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“The trend-setting pioneer of futuristic racing games.”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview, Gameplay, & Strategies:

Before Wipeout came out to compete with it, F-Zero pretty much dominated the futuristic racing genre and for good reasons too. The game consists of piloting one of 4 different hover race-cars. Whereas in the past Formula 1 was a test of driving skill, in the universe of F-Zero (F0) racing hovercars has taken over this test for racing supremacy.

When the game starts, you pick one of four different cars. After picking the one that you like or that matches your skill or play style, you pick which league you want to play in. From easiest to hardest, the leagues are: Knight, Queen, and King. This modifies how hard the tracks themselves will be. Next, you pick your difficulty level. This modifies how much damage you can take and how good the A.I. of rival drivers will be. Each league has 5 tracks which are variations of each other. The tracks are Mute City, Big Blue, Sand Ocean, Death Wind, Silence, Fire Field, Port Town, Red Canyon, and White Land. They are not raced necessarily in that order rather depending on your racing league difficulty. Each track and its variations have their own strategies and all these strategies depend on what car you picked. Some cars will be nearly useless on some tracks and it will be simply a matter of surviving through the race. I say to do what I always do, which seems to work (in games and in real life): memorize all tracks and all their parts to be able to take optimal turns and know when it’s hammer down time.

F-Zero 1st place
F-Zero 1st place

The goal is to reach first place or as high a place as possible while surviving. Yes, this is a game where if you take enough damage you will die. Your car has a certain amount of power and if you take enough damage the performance of the car will be significantly lowered. When your power bar empties out, you blow up. You can also blow up by taking a ramp and jumping and landing off the track (which can happen especially in the higher difficulty leagues). Touching other cars, touching the side bumpers, and especially touching the cars that are about to explode and do explode, all damage your car, especially the last one.

After each lap, you are awarded with a speed booster. It’s a good tactic to save these until needed rather than waste them, unless you are driving on a familiar track and you know that there is a manageable part up ahead that you can blast by going beyond the full speed of your car. Every 10000 points, you get an extra life. These lives are used if you do not meet the minimum position for that lap or an overall 3rd place finish overall for the race, as well as being used up if you blew up during the race. At specific parts of a track, there are areas where if you drive over them, a ship from above will fly down and beam power to your car to heal it. A strategy here is taking into account that the ship does have a lead time for it to get aligned to the optimal position where it can share the energy with you. Stay as much on the strip as possible if you want to heal the maximum amount of power. Also, certain parts of the track have sand which slows you down (taking advantage of that can be a winning strategy as well) and some areas have a super speed boost arrow which can boost you up faster than the speed booster. It’s not always a good tactic to use these if they are positioned to boost you too fast into an area where you will need to turn aggressively and you will now be speeding out of control into a wall, for instance.

You pick the car you like over the 4 different cars, The Blue Falcon (Blue), Golden Fox (Yellow), Wild Goose (Green), and Fire Stingray (Pink). Each car has a certain amount of thrust, a certain top speed, and a certain amount of weight. All these factors are really important, like in a real car, as you have to deal with how much momentum your car has (related to weight), which is related to its handling characteristics, and its power-to-weight ratio. I did find that the way car weight is done in this game is UNREALISTIC. Whereas a lighter car in real life would be easier to control (let’s say like a Lotus Exige), the opposite in this game happens (that would be like a Chrysler 300 outmaneuvering that Lotus Exige; it would never happen). In this game having a heavier weight gives you a more predictable turn with less drifting.

Let’s look at the detailed stats of each car and discuss their strengths and weaknesses:

BLUE FALCON (Blue)
Max Power: 3200 PS
Max Speed: 457 km/h
Weight: 1260 Kg

This is the default car that most inexperienced gamers will pick but it’s actually sometimes harder than some of the heavier cars, if you don’t know how to properly use it. It has a considerable drift ability and it being the 2nd lightest car will have it been bounced around pretty hard should you crash against other cars (which happens often). The tactic for Blue Falcon is to really avoid all other cars, to anticipate your drift and floor it through turns but letting it glide (turn with not thrust) seems to work wonders. Braking is not as bad as with some other cars since it has the 2nd best acceleration as well. Keep the boosts around for emergency use.

GOLDEN FOX (Yellow)
Max Power: 2950 PS
Max Speed: 438 km/h
Weight: 1020 Kg

This car is a little rocket, with the best acceleration, but lowest top speed and challenging handling. The tactic with this car is to drive like crazy knowing that you will re-accelerate really quickly. This car is the most prone to drifting so be real careful when taking 90 degree and higher turns. The tactic of braking and gliding works the best with this car. Since you have the lowest top speed be sure to use those boosters aggressively in tracks with little turns and lots of straightaways.

WILD GOOSE (Green)
Max Power: 3670 PS
Max Speed: 462 km/h
Weight: 1620 Kg

Although this car has the 3rd best acceleration of the four. To me, it is the best overall car. It’s still a good tactic with this car to hold on to the boost until you crash or are forced to slow down then hammer down on them, especially if you can manage the upcoming turns or its an easy straightaway in front of you.

FIRE STINGRAY (Pink)
Max Power: 3800 PS
Max Speed: 478 km/h
Weight: 1960 Kg

The tactic to this car is to exploit as much as possible the fact that you have the highest top speed out of all the cars. Take advantage of the car weight to turn optimally without braking or hitting anything. This car is the one that gets screwed over the most whenever you crash since its acceleration is abysmal. Using the boosts are a vital tactic to winning with this car. Since you have the highest top speed you will also have the maximum boosted speed as well. Remember that.

Remember that the shortest way in between two points is a straight line and this game takes advantage of that. Also, the ship that gives you power does not boost your speed, so unless you need energy, don’t swerve to pick up power if you are already at max power…

Fun Factor, Replayability, & My History With This Game:

This is an old racing game but it’s still fun enough to be able to play it over and over for hours. Sure, it’s relatively short and there’s only 15 different tracks but it can be very fun to master all tracks with all cars. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

I’ve been playing F-Zero since 1991 when my friend Eric R. got it for his SNES. We played the living hell out of this game although at the time this was a really tough game for us. The speed scale of the game blew me away as I was used to much slower racing games on the c64, which I still played a lot back in 1991. The speed of this game did not get topped until I started to play the Wipeout games and a forgotten racing game called Motorhead. I’ve played F-Zero probably in over 1000 races. Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10, even after close to 19 years of the original F-Zero.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Until you get good at this game, you might find this game rather hard, especially if you up the difficulty or pick some of the harder leagues right from the start. I recommend starting on Knight at the start but at least Standard difficulty, unless you are a complete noob at racing games. There are three difficulties: Beginner, Standard, and Expert. Standard is hard enough for most gamers but Expert is where the real fun is at. Just make sure you have trained enough to be able to handle it.

Between the mix of the league and the difficulty factor, this makes for a well customizable and challenging game. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10 because you can really set it once you get the hang of how the system works. Difficulty itself is up to you but I give it a score of 10 out of 10 because it can either be a relaxing game or time to get bend over and let the game hurt you.

Value:

If you have the original cartridge of you can get it for $10-15 bucks, that’s great. This game is a requirement for any real SNES library. If you are like most people and emulate it, Value is perfectly free. I think unless you get really ripped off, the game is worth buying and owning. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10, so long as it’s around the free or $10-15 price range.

Sound:

The sounds work marvels in this game as you will hear the engine jet turbines whir from a stand-still to their max peak output. The damage sounds or explosion when you die are amazing. I just love the engine whir… Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

Music adds a lot to a game, especially to a racing game. The music of F-Zero is one of the most loved soundtracks for the Super Nintendo. I recommend getting the original ripped files as well as checking out the remixes at Overclocked Remix.

Stability/Reliability:

Never crashes! Neither the original nor emulator do so that gets a much deserved score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Left and Right turn in their respective directions. One button controls the thrust (gas), another brakes, another applies the speed booster, and the L/R buttons make you side drift in those specific directions. I have found the side drift to be sort of useless except during emergency situations. I found it more effective to use traditional braking/drifting techniques. Controls are fluid, especially once you get a hang of them. The control setup for this game gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

The game looks simply amazing and this was a landmark game for Nintendo showing some of the graphical and performance limits of the Super Nintendo. Whereas most other games for the SNES are 2D, this game is actually 3D, one of the few titles along with Star Fox. When I first saw this game and how quick it was, my jaw dropped. Graphics and Performance both get a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

What else can I say? This game is really a classic. I redefined the racing game genre for a lot of people. This proved to a lot of us that 16-bit systems could do a lot more than many 8-bit ones and that technology was going to create more and more advanced video games as time went on. If you have yet to play it, you are missing out on an important racing game in video game history.

U.S. Gamers Spent $3.8 Billion on MMOs in 2009

Pile of money
Pile of money

U.S. Gamers Spent $3.8 Billion on MMOs in 2009

Any World of Warcraft fan knows about the big money Acti-Blizzard rakes in, but the MMO business goes far beyond that as seen in a recent U.S. study. A report on Gamasutra shows that U.S. gamers have spent almost 15 times more than other substantial MMO markets in Europe.

The report showed that over 46 million people play MMO’s in the U.S. 46 percent (21 million) of which paid to play online games; the rest, around 25 million gamers, play MMOs without spending any money. The average paying MMO player spent around $15.10 per month on their games.

Now we know Acti-Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is number one in the U.S. MMO market, but some of the names in the top five might surprise you including NeoPets, Club Penguin, Disney’s ToonTown and RuneScape. Keep in mind this ranking is for MMO’s across the board not just MMORPG’s.

Let’s look at the numbers, out of the $3.8 billion total spend on MMO’s in 2009 here is how the money breaks down:

  • 47% ($1.8 billion) was spent on monthly subscriptions
  • 19 % ($740 million) on virtual currency
  • 15% ($580 million) on annual subscriptions
  • 11% ($400 million) on the initial boxed product or client download
  • 8 % ($280 million) on direct micro transactions

With those numbers it is no surprise many companies are launching their own MMO’s, it is a booming business that does not look to be slowing. However, saturating the market with a flood of MMO’s isn’t good for the consumer in my opinion. It is one thing to purchase a number of gamers per year with some you end up not liking, but to have to purchase and pay a monthly fee is another thing all together. Then again you can always hit cancel if you don’t like the game.

The study also showed growth outside the U.S. with counties like the U.K., Germany and France coming in behind the U.S. in how much their gamers shell out for MMO’s. Finally the report indicates that that it expects growth in MMO revenues from countries such as Italy, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Poland and Sweden in the coming years.

You can find the original article here.

What Gamers Want

Gamers-Motivational-Poster

What Gamers Want

Everyone loves a good metaphor in a column. You get to say “I get it” and the columnist gets to say “That’s a clever bit of writing”. So, what strained, pureed and mashed line of thought am I going to use to describe the difference between what gamers say they want and what they actually buy? It’s food, of course.

There is no doubt there is a lot of junk food out there, and a lot of chains (in this metaphor, our publishers) who serve up familiar fare on their menus year in and year out. They come back with a new and improved recipe and persuade the consumer to wolf it down. And by and large they do – a good case in point would be the Need for Speed series, often critically panned and yet freshly packaged for your Christmas feast every year.

The comparison between EA and a major fast food chain may be a little unfair though. In this last year we have at least seen something in the way of new recipes. The healthier, leaner option was the Mirror’s Edge salad, a first-person shooter with a new kind of dressing. Food snobs turned their nose up, but it has gained a following and stays on the menu. The fruit salad was Dead Space, but everyone went for the very sweet ice cream treat of Gears of War 2 instead.

The Nintendo Wii in recent months has seen a lot of finger food, small snacks designed for parties. There is a market for them, but it has disappointed those who were expecting big things from one of the most respected restaurants in town. They may not make as many meals as their competitors, but they are always laden with flavour.

One high spot was due to be Mad World from Sega and Platinum, a smorgasbord of meat (the stylised graphics) and spicy sauce (the violence). And yet within a couple of weeks the meal is on sale at a bargain price, despite a high-profile TV ad campaign and generally positive reviews. So do gamers really want a taste of something new, or do they just say that and go with the old familiar and comforting diet of racing and FPS? I remember a similar fate befalling Outrun 2006 Coast to Coast, a refreshing summer ice lolly in the midst of a sea of dull brown shooting soups.

We have to support and respect the great chefs (programmers) and the establishments that train them. The aforementioned Platinum contains people who worked at Clover, creators of Okami. At the end of the PS2 generation this was cruelly overlooked by many, yet it represented exactly the sort of experience many gamers express a wish for online. Clover closed down, and now Platinum’s future could hang on future releases like Bayonetta (a new take on the Devil May Cry style game, with a female protagonist).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve made myself hungry.