Mythbusting six common video game trivia mistakes

Mythbusting six common video game trivia mistakes

Welcome to the return of Know Your History, a feature column that aims to cover proper video game history. Normally, an edition of Know Your History would compare past history to current headlines in an effort to put current topics into proper perspective. This week, however, the aim is to correct a number of video game history facts that I either seen often or have recently run across.

With that said, let us get started with one of the longest running mistakes I’ve seen.

– Pong was NOT the first coin-operated video game.

know your history

A lot of people think and commonly publish that Pong was the first arcade video game. This mistake is incredibly common and with good reason, as I’ve found this mistake printed in video game publications as far back as the late 1970s. While the first successful coin-operated arcade video game, Pongwas not the first, nor was Computer Space, Nolan Bushnell’s first attempt at bringing one to market.

Galaxy Game actually gets the title of being the first coin-operated arcade video game. This space battle game appeared on the campus of Stanford University in 1971, at least two months before Computer Space and almost a full year before Pong.

– The Pac-Man ghosts only have one name each, not two.

know your history

Another long-running mistake is the misconception that the monsters in the original Pac-Man have two names each, such as Character: Shadow, Nickname: Blinky. This is incorrect.

The term of “Character” on these screens is not attempting to list a name but to describe the personality traits of that monster. As top Pac-Man players know, each of the four monsters has a different AI than the others. The “two names” on the title screen are attempting to point that out with one word each, probably losing something in translation.

The original Japanese listings under “Character” paint the picture a little better, with the red ghost described as Oikake (“to pursue”), the pink ghost as Machibuse (“to ambush”), the blue ghost as Kimagure (“moody”) and the orange ghost as Otoboke (“pretending ignorance”).

Compare those “Character” listings to the American versions and they make a little more sense. The character term of “Pokey” (Clyde) is describing him as “a little slow in the head” or something similar.

Make no mistake, the monsters have only one name each: Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.

– Mario was NOT named Jumpman during production of Donkey Kong.

know your history

Another very common error, despite being easy to disprove with a quick Google search. I’ve heard people tell me that “Jumpman” was the name for Mario in the original Donkey Kong arcade game, with some going so far as to tell me he wasn’t even named Mario until Donkey Kong Junior or even the original Mario Bros.

None of this is quite correct. While it is true that Mario’s working name was Jumpman, and that the instructions on the original arcade version do call him that, the name of Mario came along before Nintendo was even pushing Donkey Kong machines out the door. The original advertising flyer, released at the time the game was released, refers to the character as Mario numerous times.

While Jumpman was almost the character’s name at this time, he was referred to as Mario far earlier than most websites claim and throughout all the merchandising released for the game.

– Sega Channel was NOT the first online console gaming.

know your history

Sega might have claimed this at the time of their short-lived online console service, but to do so would mean ignoring GameLine for the Atari 2600 and PlayCable for the Intellivision console, both from the early 1980s.

– Wolfenstein 3D was NOT the first of the first-person shooters.

know your history

Saw this error listed a lot during Wolfenstein 3D‘s recent anniversary. Numerous mainstream media reports called the classic the first-ever first person shooter, a fact that is nowhere near accurate, as there were numerous others that came before it.

The first is often credited to 1974’s Maze War, which is shown in the slideshow for this column.

– Oh, Guinness Book, how could you make this error?

know your history

I like the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition books, and not just because I’m listed in them every year. I enjoy the great cross-section of gaming that is covered inside.

However, the 2012 edition lists a pretty harsh error on page 202, calling WWF WrestleMania for the NES the “first wrestling video game” in the bottom left corner. How this was not fact checked is a huge mystery, as this 1988 title wasn’t even the first pro wrestling game on the Nintendo console, nor was it the first WWF title to market, either, which would be Micro-League Wrestling.

Numerous popular pro wrestling games came out going as far back as 1983, including Tag Team Wrestling, Mat Mania and Mania Challenge in the arcades and Pro Wrestling on the NES. How did this error make the book?

Then again, this isn’t the only error I noted in the book this year. Page 47 attributes a quote and some information about Galaga champion Andrew Laidlaw as coming from “local newspapers” when, in fact, that quote and information was obtained and first written by me, the person who broke the story to the mainstream media. Click here and see for yourself.

These are just a handful of the common video game history errors out there, but some of the most common. Hopefully this article can go a long way toward helping fix these misconceptions.

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.

I’m The Guy Who Reported You

No longer will we have to deal with the immature audience of today’s internet that shout “Fag!”, “Bitch why did you take my quest item?”, and “Suck my dick, you fat loser!”.~Umar Khan

I’m The Guy Who Reported You

Let me step out of the shadows and into the light so you can see clearly. Got a good look? Great! It took a lot on my part to build the confidence and reassurance that what I’m doing is right. I’m glad this day has finally come, though. What day might that be? The day where I reveal to you, nay, all of you that I am the orchestrator of your bans, warnings, and name changes! That’s true! It is I! The great Umar Khan! I am the bastard who spends most of his day opening customer support tickets to report you for saying dicks, asshole, and cunt whistle.

ILaN

But, Umar! Why?! Why would you do this? Have you no soul? No life?!

Correct on all accounts, reader! Correct on all accounts. In respect to your question I shall answer your whiny plea for the justification of my actions. Give me a moment to fill my wine glass with milk and lean back in my $35 ergonomic chair from Office Depot as I prepare to blow your mind.

I am doing it for you! Yes, you! All of this! All of it! For you! I am on a quest to weed out the unworthy of the online gaming landscape to make it a proper land for those who know how to follow rules and have the fortitude to fully understand and read the EULA that they agree to as they play their games. No longer will we have to deal with the immature audience of today’s internet that shout “Fag!”, “Bitch why did you take my quest item?”, and “Suck my dick, you fat loser!”. The EULA states that this kind of language is against its rules. Why you dare play with fire, I will never understand. The time has come though to turn the flame you rage against into a blistering inferno of bannings and suspensions! I am the harbinger of the soon to come MMO Utopia. For this who fight against my crusade, I am the vanguard of your destruction.

You can just turn on the profanity filter if it butt hurts you so much. lol!

I could or you could just not scoff at the agreement you accepted! Does my butt hurt when you refer to someone as a genital? Not at all. My butt doesn’t even get itchy! No, reader. Your words do not faze me. I learned a long time ago that words are simply glue and I… I am rubber! Your proclamations of rape, pussy, and motherfucker bounce from me and they stick to you. They will take root into your body and you will suffer the consequences they create! I will purge this foul mouthed community from my online gaming utopia and create an environment where a profanity filter is nonexistent. At last, the internet will have some class.

They don’t ban people for that! LOL The GM will just tell you to stfu! lolololol

That is so ridiculous. Since the beginning of the EULA’s existence, people have been banned for breaking the agreement that they willingly accepted in order to kill the giants rats of our yesteryears. Have you taken the time to read the EULA? They can ban you for this swashbuckling speech! If you haven’t heard of someone being banned or warned for this breach, you are blind, ignorant, and/or a liar.

What’s wrong, reader? Your face is red with what seems to be anger and chilled with the sweat of fright! You look like an animal backed into a corner; like an Obi-Wan who doesn’t want to believe Anakin would plunge the Jedi into darkness.

You’re a mad man! A mad man, I say! You can’t do this!

Oh, I can and I will! My rampage will not end with those who simply spew middle school vulgarity. I will prosecute the racists, xenophobic, farmers, exploiters, and scammers! When I’m through with this online world, parents won’t have to worry about their children getting on the computer. Unlike the world we currently live in, the internet will be a safe haven. Thanks to me. The MMO Jesus. That’s what they’ll call me.

We don’t want this utopia! This is a sick world you want for us! You can’t censor us, man!

Truly? Censorship? How am I censoring you? You can still voice your distaste for someone’s actions. You can still boast with a less vulgar choice of words. What censorship? I am instilling class and courtesy in your lives! Instead of voicing the hate I am looking to subdue, you should embrace my cause and open your customer service tickets and begin reporting those who would taint our internet games! The battle will be long and difficult, that is true. However, there will come a time where we can finally play our games and not have to spend our time weeding out the vile filth that plagues our communities. Look past our differences. Look past yourselves. Reader, you know what I say is true and the only one holding all this back is… well you.

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.

A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far Far Away A World Came To An End


It fills me with great sadness to deliver this message to those of you who enjoyed the hell out of Star Wars Galaxies before it turned into a shade of its former glory, but SOE has decided to pull the plug.

Dear Star Wars Galaxies™ Community Member,

We write to you today to inform you that on December 15, 2011, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and LucasArts will end all services (MMO and Trading Card Game) for Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). The shutdown of SWG is a very difficult decision, but SOE and LucasArts have mutually agreed that the end of 2011 is the appropriate time to end the game.
We are extremely grateful to all of the SWG fans. We have had the rare opportunity to host one of the most dedicated and passionate online gaming communities and we truly appreciate the support we’ve received from each and every one of you over the course of the past eight years.

In recognition of your incredible loyalty, we are extending special Fan Appreciation offers to the current SWG community. We also plan to go out with a bang with a galaxy-ending in-game event in December and hope to see you all there. The details relating to these offers and events as well as the timeline and specifics regarding the discontinuation of the service, are provided below.
Again, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to our player community for making SWG one of the best online communities in gaming history.
Sincerely,
Sony Online Entertainment & LucasArts

The Fine Details:

Discontinuation of Services:
As of September 15, 2011, the SWG MMO and Trading Card Game will no longer be available for sale or subscription at both retail and all online digital retailers. All billing for active subscribers with accounts in good standing, except for Station Access subscribers, will end on October 15, 2011.

If you are an active subscriber in good standing as of September 15, 2011, then you can play for free for the final months. Players wishing to play through the end of the game and participate in the galaxy-ending event planned for the last week of live service in December will need to re-activate or join the game on or before September 15th. No new or reactivated accounts will be accepted after September 15, 2011.
As of today, June 24, 2011, we are discontinuing the 12, 6, and 3-month subscription plans, meaning these subscription options will no longer be offered for newly created SWG accounts. SWG subscribers who have prepaid six (6) or twelve (12)-month game time plans that extend their subscription period past October 15, 2011 will receive a pro-rated refund for any such pre-paid excess subscription payments*. Such refunds are expected to be issued within 90-days after the game ends.
In addition, we will be discontinuing the sale of all Star Wars Galaxies™ Trading Card Game (TCG) digital card packs as of today, June 24, 2011. Loot cards will not be redeemable in the SWG MMO after September 15, 2011. The TCG will continue to operate until the final service closure on December 15, 2011.

Galaxy-Ending Event – Be Part of this Historic Event
During the last week that SWG is available, we’re inviting the community to participate in a galaxy-ending event. We’re going to end with a bang and we want the final chapter of the galaxy to be written in part by the dedicated and passionate SWG community. Details will be announced at a later date.

Fan Appreciation Offers
We welcome those active SWG subscribers in good standing to play one or all of the below SOE massively-multiplayer online PC games at a fully-paid subscriber status (or “membership” status where relevant) at no cost between October 15, 2011 and December 31, 2011 (subject to the terms and conditions described below). To activate these special offers, use the same Station Account you use now to subscribe to SWG** and simply click on the game you would like to try to download the game software. We are offering the following SOE games: Free Realms®, Star Wars®: Clone Wars Adventures™, EverQuest®, EverQuest® II and DC Universe™ Online. The game software will all be made available for download on a link accessible from the StarWarsGalaxies.com web site beginning on October 15, 2011.

Cryptic Studio Has Moved On But Have Their Games?: Star Trek Edition


For those of you eagerly waiting for this review after the sudden ending of the previous portion of this two-part article, I apologize. I wasn’t having problems with time or just pure laziness. No, I had problems with how to word my feelings towards Star Trek Online and how best to give an honest review without completely belittling the game. I know, I know. You’re used to that kind of response from me but I decided to be a bit more delicate with how I explain the faults and pluses of STO.

So here goes…

It is laughable to think that Cryptic Studios thinks of STO as an MMORPG. While all the big boys in the room strut their stuff with content, gameplay, character growth, and easily defined instructions, Star Trek Online stumbles and fumbles around the room like a drunk teenage girl at a frat party. At the end of the night, the only ones with a grin on their faces are the real MMOs while STO is dabbing off semen from its face with wet naps.


Wow… I feel uncomfortable reading this. I’m going to just-

What could possess me to attack Star Trek Online in such an unrelenting manner? Is it because I could barely give the game a shot beyond level 4? Yes, it is! I got to level 11 in FF XIV and that game is the equivalent of dining on Indian food , beautiful to look at but horrible to digest. I have never been unable to hit at least level 10 in an MMORPG but Star Trek Online managed to prove me wrong.

That sounds horrible, Mr. Khan! Why was it so god awful?

That’s an easy question to answer, Little Timmy. The game’s initial tutorial manages to be not only fast paced but slow at the same time. There’s a ton of jargon thrown around that doesn’t make sense to begin with and there isn’t much of an explanation as to what any of it means. All I got from the tutorial was that I could shoot lasers and photon torpedoes when I’m in my ship and when I’m on a ground mission I can shoot laser beams and “backstab” the enemy when I attack from their blindside. There really isn’t a clear definition in the beginning what role your class plays or what kind of ships you are able to command. I was certain I was limited to Science Ships since I chose the Scientist profession but I later found out from a friend that I could pilot any ship. Oh, that’s fucking fantastic to know.


For those of you who enjoy looking at your character and face stomping the enemy while adoring how badass you made your Vulcan or Custom Alien, sorry to disappoint but the game is lacking in ground missions and you are spending most of your time viewing the ass tail of your ship. How engrossing! Yes, you can customize your ship but the differences aren’t that vast aside from size. The ship customization is as in-depth as the shape variations presented in a Lego Kit. Everything is a block except some are half a blocks! Whoop-dee-fucking-doo!

From a game with such an absorbing avatar customization, it’s a shame that you spend your time running slow naval circles around enemy space bandits. As far as I could grasp the tactic was to go half speed and adjust your acceleration and deceleration to complete this amazingly slow circle strafe around your enemy to knock out their shields and ass fuck them with photon torpedoes. Combat got repetitive quickly.

The game’s missions were probably the most bland I’ve ever seen in an MMO post 2006. “What was that, Ensign? There’s no one in the quadrant? I guess everything is… Oh my god! Space Bandits out of fucking nowhere!” That was as in depth as the missions got at level 4. They didn’t want to showcase more early on maybe because there wasn’t anything left to show.

The ground missions were probably the worst part about leveling. I should be excited to see my captain running about shooting bitches in the face and parachuting off planet sized drills like in the movie, right? Too bad! I was limited to picking up resources on a planet and randomly getting jumped by “Unknown villain #3” and then transporting back to the ship. Oh wait, I forgot. There were more options. I was able to go to a mining site to speak with a couple of diggers to see how they felt about their jobs and report back to their manager. Yup! They called in the space fleets special forces to settle a dispute about a broken holodeck in the break room.

"Come on, Team! Lets pick up some rocks!"

Now, I understand I have been harsh on the game and there is a reason for that. If STO were a free to play MMORPG, I would dress it with every accolade known in the universe. A free to play space RPG? Sign me up! Let me have fleeting moments of fun!

Unfortunately, the game isn’t F2P. It’s Pay to Play and it’s $15 a fucking month. This game has a huge pair of balls to even consider charging people. Cryptic was fortunate enough that people even purchased fucking the game. It has the depth of a game developed for a smart phone.

STO lacks the environment, quests, gameplay, and depth of games like World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and even City of Heroes. Quite a bold statement coming from a level 4 Lieutenant, right? That’s why I’m not saying for people to keep away from this game. Play it if you like, it’s your money. I personally don’t see the justification of this game being $15 a month. You’d probably find more fun in Runescape for a cheaper price.

Perfect Worlds purchased this title when they acquired Cryptic Studios. What potential they see in this hunk of shit I will never know. The game is an MMO-abomination and is better served on a free to play model or simply a box sale model like Guild Wars. Then and maybe then it would be worth the time it takes to patch and login. Until that unlikely day comes about, STO will remain uninstalled and far, far away from my computer.

Cryptic Studios Has Moved On But Have Their Games?


For those of you in the dark about the current state of Cryptic Studios, the group that created mega super hero sensation titles like City of Heroes and… that’s it, their sugar daddy decided it was time for a split. Apparently MMO’s cost a lot of money to produce and maintain and ones that fail to meet an expected revenue end up emptying the wallets of publishers. Cryptic Studios made two games that fell short of those expectations. One, Champions Online, fell flat on its face while another, Star Trek Online, didn’t have the staying power to hold subscriptions before another mass MMO exodus ate the expensive IP dry. Sure they have a healthy population for the amount of content they offer but it is not enough to earn back the losses suffered by Atari, the previously mentioned sugar daddy.

What does Atari do now? They decided continue to maintain Cryptic Studios projects while they put up a professional Craigslist ad for someone to buy them. Who went to grab them? Perfect Worlds did! Yes, Perfect Fucking Worlds! Not knocking the company that released amazing games like Torchlight and… that’s it, but this move shows how the company is beginning to make strides into the US online gaming market.

So, did Perfect Worlds make a worthwhile purchase? I decided to suffer the pain of what could possibly be the equivalent of removing my arm with a blunt saw to find out so you don’t have to!

First up, I decided to try out Champions Online. Awhile back I did play Champions Online when it was in Beta and then during release and I wasn’t exactly satisfied with the flow of the game and the cluster fuck of their free form power system. Was I going to suffer the same kind of fate?

No, I did not! Champions Online has made some great improvements to help with the disaster of their free form system. First of all, with their free to play model you can’t go with the free form system and are limited with a couple of premade archetypes that have to fill out a certain role. Why is this a positive thing? Before, everyone just made whatever they wanted and just blew everything up. There were barely any real tanks or healers and it promoted uber recommended builds rather than true individuality. With its current archetype system, you get some diversity but not full free reign.

As for content, the game originally released by throwing you into a city wide disaster during a Qularr invasion, handing you a key to the city, and then shipping you the fuck off to a desert or to the Canadian Wilderness. Nothing makes a hero feel more welcomed to the world than being kicked out of the city and immediately transported off to regions they have no interest in. Now after 3(?) content packs and a revamped quest line where you start your adventures in the city for a good amount of time before being sent away, the game has everything you might want to find in a super hero MMO.

With so many costume customization options for your characters, a decent trade skill system, and powers and goods that can be purchased from the C-Store, the game really excels when it comes to being free and a pay to play.

Is it really worth it as a viable free to play model? Definitely! With heavy customization, a decent amount of content that can be expanded through the C-Store marketplace it runs on a great free to play model with an amazing community that will keep you there for a decent month or two.

Now is the game worth $15 a month? I would say yes! With all the features previously mentioned topped with a great community, someone who is active with the players they game with will find Champions Online engrossing enough to stick around for a month or two as well.

End of part 1. Part 2 to conclude with Star Trek Online.

EQ2 Has The Worst Players On Erf!


Everquest 2, you know I love you girl, but these fools that be playin’ you… damn girl. You are littered with them! Horrible, atrocious, vomit inducing players run amok on the fair lands of Norrath like ticks sucking on, well, their own suck!

Oh boy, here we go! Another biased opinion about a game and the one isolated event that brands an entire community. Go back to WoW, fag! Lolololololol

Shut up, baby doll. Daddy’s talking.

I have played many, many MMORPGs. The kind of person who would rather play solo than mingle with the masses is not how one would describe this guy right here, the Great Umar Khan. Nope. I like to get involved with the community. I like to remember names, experiences, and how well I match with certain people in a team based environment. 1999, fellas! No yearlong breaks from the genre. I’ve slutted my way into many a community with my impeccable social and gaming skills.

You come off as an asshole!

Bollocks, I say!

Back on topic, of all the games I’ve played, loved, and also “hit it and quit it”; Everquest 2 has some of the worst players in any MMORPG. Despite my feelings for EQ2, her only flaw in my eyes are the ones who entertain themselves on a daily basis with her company.

Warcraft has the worst players, you homo!

Quiet, you anti-Semite!

That doesn’t even-

Someone mentioned my name!

I’m not saying that all players in EQ2 are bad. Every game has bad players but EQ2’s players are in a league of their own. Bertoxxulous really outdid himself with his latest plague of stupid and unskillfulness that has infected the playerbase.

 

As a troubadour, should I be out DPSing the wizards? If your answer is a yes with a hint of implied inquiry in the tone then you should understand the absurd level of shock I had leveling my flamboyant bard on the Permafrost server. More often than none was I the top DPS of the group or only outdone by a Shadow Knight tank. Very few came close to my numbers unless I was in the rare group where someone wasn’t busy watching their kids.

House wives, why are they even allowed to be playing EQ2? Shouldn’t they be busy playing Sims and Farmville? They have no place in trying to understand parses and pie charts from ACT. They can barely grasp how a Chocolate Cow in Farmville produces Chocolate Milk. Here’s a hint. IT’S A FUCKING CHOCOLATE COW!

The skillfulness to push buttons in a certain order isn’t even as mind blowing as the level of stupidity that sums up the vastly growing amount of total shit tanks in the level 70 range. How stupid can they be? One occasion I remember better than the others would be of the tank I kept asking to repair. We were at The Estate of Unrest and this gallivanting Berserker of worldly renown (/sarcasm off) had destroyed armor. I don’t know if its because he tried to tank while using a 2handed weapon despite our pleads for mercy or his claims that he could tank Bugaboo notwithstanding numerous attempts ending with the monstrous haunt face planting our tank into an early grave but this underdeveloped Neanderthal stood out like a golden ring at the bottom of a clear riverbed. We were all in the voice chat channel and finally his slack jawed Midwest accent began to wear thin on my patience. Stupidity spewed forth from his mouth like shit from my asshole after eating at Chipotle. How he managed to even understand how to set up his headset astounds me to this day.

“Hey dude, your armor is broken. Go repair. We’ll wait for you.”

“WAH!”

“Multiple pieces are 0%. You can’t tank like that especially when you’re using a two-hander.”

“WAH!”

“Because your durability has gone down the drain. Just go repair. I’ll go with you. I can teleport us back.”

“WAH can’t I tank with a Two-Hander if my armor is broken? I don’t get WAH!”

“Are you fucking with me right now?”

I’m cutting the reiterated blabbering short but to sum it up, I eventually convinced him to go repair after 5-6 minutes.

God, this editorial is getting long and I hope you’re still with me because there is more!

The community in EQ2 believes it to be okay for people to go AFK during a dungeon crawl. I can’t even count with the fingers on my hands and toes on my feet how many times we had an AFK leecher in our group. If it’s a guy, there might be someone bringing up the occasional “lol is this guy coming back?” But Lord forbid if it’s a fucking woman, though! She will AFK the entire session or return right before the boss. She’ll join the fucking group and then say “Hey guys, I’m cooking dinner at the same time. Give me a second.” That second turns to minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, and days into eons! An exaggeration? Perhaps! But a bitch shouldn’t join a fucking group if she has something else to do! “Oh hey guys! What are we doing? Crushbone? Okay I’ll be the healer. By the way, I gotta drive to the corner market for a second! Don’t kick me :)”

Fuck! There are just so many other instances where this category of shit has happened to me in only EQ2 but I don’t think I can get into all of them with my trademark long winded bantering! Fuck it all to hell!

I know I could easily deny myself of these experiences if I only made my own group and wrote off some of these people with my own iron fist ruling. Trust me, I have! I don’t take shit when I’m group leader. I don’t like having my time wasted while someone is eating shit in real life. This is my break before real life kicks in and you’re ruining those precious few hours I have. There are just sometimes where it’s easier to join an already forming group than taking the reins into your own hands.

Some of you may not agree. You might feel that my little experiences are biased and that I must hate women, that I’m a fat virgin. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re wrong. And maybe, just maybe, you’re a cum dumpster too! If that’s the case, EQ2 is the game for you.

The Unsurprising Incompetence of Sony


We all know what’s going on with Sony. For those of you who don’t know, you either don’t game or you live under a rock. The greatest hacking escapade of 2011 has left the company’s loyal consumers hanging on the sideline while they hope to the heavens that their credit card info hasn’t been sold to the highest bidder. If you haven’t cancelled your credit card, asked for a new number, or put out a fraud alert by now it’s best advised you do so now.

What I really wanted to get into with this article isn’t Sony’s time and time again ability to completely fuck up everything they touch. I want to know why anyone would even remain loyal to this colossal abortion of a company?

Because Microsoft is the devil, Umar!

Microsoft can be whatever you want to call it but Xbox Live has provided some of the best online multiplayer entertainment compared to their other console rivals. True, the Xbox live community is immature at best. Again, it is true, most of the games that come out for Xbox are also available on the PC but this isn’t just about comparing PSN to Xbox Live.

I don’t care about the other consoles. Disregard the Wii, Xbox, or the PC in this decision. Why should someone remain devoted to Sony games or devices? If you can’t get past that, you’re missing the point entirely.

What is the point then, you fat asshole?

The point is, as a customer, why should you remain with a company that can’t protect your CC information? Why remain with a company who has been so crippled by the attack they have yet to restart their service? Why remain with a company that markets with an asshat like Kevin Butler? Why remain with a company that barely has anything to show at E3 time and time again and when they do manage to reveal something it becomes an internet meme?

And this is just with their Playstation portion of the company. They recently announced and moved forward with the shutting down of all Sony Online Entertainment games due to this “intrusion”. That means games like Everquest 2, Everquest… and what other games would be affected by this? Didn’t they seize operations on a huge plethora of their games? I know they have DCUO but how many customers can you upset by bringing that game down? Their ten remaining customers? Big deal. If this assault doesn’t put the nail in the coffin for DCUO then its loyal subscribers are used to be being screwed over and over again.

For a company that is already struggling to breathe in the MMO market, this setback is going to draw more players to WoW, LOTRO, and/or Rift. How can they recoup their losses? Offer a free month for the month they’re already going to lose? Give away 700 Station Points?
Thanks for the piece of mind, Sony. I’ll enjoy these small tokens of your appreciation for my loyalty while some criminal abuses the shit out of my credit.

Face it, loyal Sony fanboys. You’re on the Titantic and you can get off the ship and survive or freeze to death in the piercing icy waters of Hell. You aren’t Rose. No one wants to draw you naked. You won’t live through this.

I know a couple of people who are still riding on Sony’s cock. To them I say you’re a complete moron. Enjoy lubing up your ass with olive oil while this company and its attackers continue to fuck you from behind.

Now I want to hear from you, the reader. I want to know why on God’s green and polluted Earth would you want to stay with Sony?

Faxion Q&A

faxion_logo_final_black

Faxion online is a upcoming unique MMO that offers combat driven gameplay set against the classic struggle between good and evil or in this case, Heaven and Hell. This free-to-play MMO will offer non-stop action as well as a robust PVP system. Currently, the game is in open beta, so head on over to their website to sign up.

Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Mike Madden, Creative Director at UTV True Games about Faxion.

So tell us a little bit about Faxion?

Mike Madden: Faxion Online is our first internally developed product. Faxion is a persistent world MMORPG, build for the competitive player. Players will choose to join the armies of Heaven and Hell, and fight over key locations in the world of Limbo. Each Territory players can fight over is represented through the manifestation of one of the seven deadly sins.

How did the idea of this game come about?  The theme of Heaven versus Hell is definitely intriguing, what made you want to go with such a storyline?

Mike Madden: Actually it was presented to us as a concept that the company was kicking around. While we did not agree with the initial design, we really liked the idea for the setting. We also knew it was a chance to have some fun and not take religion and death so seriously. So we felt we could take a more “Family Guy” approach and really just take it all over the map in terms of religions, sins and other death related topics.

Faxion will cover the more serious aspects of Heaven and Hell and the Seven Deadly sins, can you tell us more about what that entails?

Mike Madden: If it’s too serious, then we failed! Heh.

While we certainly would love people to be introduced to a new religion in the game, by no means are we trying to educate people on one religion versus another. Giving player a few new jokes to use throughout life for various religions, yes, learning actual useable facts to make educated decisions about religion? Hell no…

We wanted to be sure to have a good time and really find ways of introducing players to the religions we are all familiar with, Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Muslins. At the same time there are some fringe religious groups and cults that offer us just as much if not more material. Scientology, Pastafari and even some cults like the Branch Dividians from our backyard of Waco Tx.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

Now the game will focus on PVP and territory control, let’s start with the PVP aspect. What will make the PVP in Faxion stand out from other MMO PVP?

Mike Madden: I think players will find quite a few things that will make the PVP in Faxion stand out compared to other games.

One area we as players really wanted to address was how stale combat can get. We wanted to increase the overall player movement and use of the environment when fighting other players. One thing we do to encourage this movement to our combat, is we use a series of ability cool downs to mitigate how often an ability can be used, and not the traditional casting bar. The majority of our attacks can be cast while on the move. This delivers a natural ebb and flow to the experience.

We also have our multi-classing system which does not dictate what you play as a character. Its freedom of character creation really adds to the mix of PVP, when you just can’t be all too sure what your enemy may decide to use against you.

The other thing we allow is that you can start PvPing as early as you want and you can progress through the entire game solely through PvP. Fighting other players (of the appropriate levels) will not only grant you experience but also item drops.

Can you give us some insight on how the territory control part of the game will function?

Mike Madden: The META game at play is each army is trying to claim and maintain control over the seven deadly sins. With each gained for a faction, they get closer to a total victory, which results in a final server wide event.

We always want players to be able to find a fight so territories will be open for conquest at various points of the day. During this window, players will be fighting back and forth over control points within the zones. We will be offering many familiar capture mechanics to start, with many diverse and exciting new ideas on the way. King of the hill and capture the flag, along with some interesting combinations and new mechanics, will demand teamwork and strategy to deploy a good offensive or defensive strike on any given control point.

Can you give us some info on the three worlds, heaven, hell and limbo?

Mike Madden: As much as Heaven and Hell are present in the game, the adventuring begins in Limbo, which is offering a very diverse set of locations and challenges. Each location of Limbo is representing one of the seven deadly sins. This really gave our artists and designers a much wider palette of both color and locations to work with. Forest and Canyons, Mountains and swamps, each location is going to offer the player visual differences that we find compelling and fun to play in.

Our Heaven and Hell are bringing classic views to life, but we have a few things up our sleeves as we move forward. This is an area we are already planning to expand into and really playing around with the various thoughts and visions different cultures and views of life bring to both Heaven and Hell.

The concept of death, heaven and hell, and even limbo all reside within Faxion Online. To us, Limbo actually exists in no particular band of time, but rather through them all simultaneously. Each religion, each period of history all eventually end up in Limbo, which is what makes up the bulk of the world players will initially explore. Each war represents the struggle for the living on a single planet or plane of existence. With each victory, the fate for that planet/plane is decided, and the endless battle continues on with the endless worlds of souls to fight over. Each player upon arriving from their own mortal demise is able to reach glory in ways they could not have dreamed.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

What classes will players get to choose from?

Mike Madden: The class system in Faxion does not limit nor define what you are or do. Your first class choice simply starts the journey.  Players will make choices limited to their initial class selection to start, but soon find the shackles are thrown off and they are free to take on a second class type of their choosing. We use a point system, where players receive ability points with each level earned. As it stands now in Open Beta, once 30 points are spent you can choose a second, and at 60 points, choose a third.

It allows you to craft your character the way you want to. A good example of this is say you want to play a “traditional” cleric. You can go two routes in Faxion; either start as a Crusader and multi-class by also buying Guardian abilities or do the reverse. Since the cost to train abilities is different based on what is your starting class, the individual who starts as a Crusader will probably be more melee-based while the other will be more of a healer… but both will be capable in melee combat and skilled in the use of magic. Even then, two players who start as a Guardian and take Crusader abilities may be vastly different because they have purchased different abilities.

That is just part of the fun, customizing your character to fit your play-style and wants.

Can you tell us about the character customizations and abilities?

Mike Madden: We have a solid customization system now, where at creation the traditional choices apply for face, hair, skin tones and such. We are constantly looking to expand in this area, as we feel people always like to try and match to something in their minds eye. The more options and choices we can offer, the closer we allow them to get.

With abilities, we actually take things quite a bit further. We have over 150 abilities in the game across all of our classes. Each ability also offers a total of 10 ranks that can be achieved. Ranking abilities is an online or offline advancement track and is really the crux of our investment in the character.

Each rank is offering an advancement to the ability it is tied to. As an example a rank 1 fireball is pretty straight forward, but at rank 4 it may get a Damage Over Time (DOT) component added to it, increasing the effective use of the ability. So, it’s not just a statistical change in that it costs less spirit or can be cast quicker, its more about adding new function that may alter the way it’s used at all.

Experimentation is fun and something we want to encourage players to do. Happily we are seeing this get confirmed in our BETA testing.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

Everyone hates the grind in MMO’s how is Faxion eliminating that aspect of MMORPG’s?

Mike Madden: Master the game not the grind is a mantra we had when we first spoke about character progression, and it became a constant for us throughout development. When we sit down to play any game, we are doing so to get entertainment, not a second job or a list of chores. If we look at other game genres and platforms, the grind feeling is not nearly as prevalent. But, for some reason, MMOs consistently deliver this feeling of work in order to have fun.

We wanted to shift this mindset, and allow players to enjoy the game experience when they sit down to actually play. Crazy concept, I know, but from our internal testing it’s working.

We are doing this in a series of changes to some areas of the game, like offering offline advancement. In addition we are really not putting the time sink into the actual levels, since so much of it is based on the ranks themselves. We really want to get players leveled quickly so they can get into the action and have lots of toys to play with.

Was there a specific MMO or perhaps aspects of different MMO’s that inspired the creative and development process behind Faxion?

Mike Madden: One of the bigger things that bothers most of us is how a single MMO demands players to not play any other MMO at the time. So it was not so much a single mechanic as it was creating a game that you can compete, at a high level and still continue to play other games and MMOs alongside Faxion.

While I can easily say every MMO has something to learn, be it from its mistakes or from its victories, it would be unfair to them all to say only one inspired this game over any other.

What aspects of MMORPG’s did you want to focus on with Faxion the most and which did you want to avoid at all costs?

Mike Madden: One goal the team has maintained and held true, is not allowing any player to “buy a victory” due to any RMT model. We adapted a “Time versus Money” concept early and look to apply it at all layers of the game. In a competitive PVP game, having the guy with the biggest wallet, automatically win just sucks. Hell he already has a bigger wallet and is winning in life with more cash! The rest of us want a shot to kick his ass too.

So basically, if you have the time Faxion is a true free to play experience with no blocked content. However if you do not have all the time, a few purchases here and there will allow a part time player to compete at the highest levels.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

How will loot and progression work in Faxion?

Mike Madden: We like giving away treasures! Players can get loot from questing, PvP kills, PVE kills, Epic Encounters (non instanced of course), Territory Control and a number of alternative ways. We have a complete equipment system allowing players to adventure for or purchase varying styles of armor to best reflect their vision for a character.

In addition, we offer wings as an equipment slot, allowing players to find and or purchase some of the more defining pieces to an equipment set.

Tying this system back into our ability ranks, players will need to rank their armor ability, which unlocks the function to equip the varying grades of armor, from uncommon all the way up to artifacts. All in all it’s a system players should be familiar with, but still find some fun things to tinker around to create a look they are happy with.

Can you tell us about the guild and social aspects of Faxion?

Mike Madden: Guilds are critical to us as gamers and as developers. While we have basic levels of support for guilds to form and communicate, we are ever expanding not only the management tools of guilds, but also the meaning of guilds within Faxion.

A guild is so much more than a label that floats 6 inches above your characters head. Guilds are a source of pride, a family in this world that you can rely on, and most importantly they provide just as many fun and funny moments in any MMO that a designer could never implement.

We want to embrace the above, by giving them things to call their own, to build and grow, and ultimately defend from others trying to take it or destroy it. This is a part of the game we are looking at expanding now as we sit in Open Beta, working with the players and asking them directly what they require and want from a guild in Faxion.

Faxion Gameplay Screenshot

Everyone always asks so we will as well, whats the endgame and raid content going to look like in Faxion?

Mike Madden: It’s going to look a lot like a big ass war.

Without instancing, even our epic boss encounters can turn into large factional wars. While the endgame is not entirely in play as of yet, part of that is due to us wanting to be sure to build it for what the players want from it.

Any endgame content, whether it’s a crafting system, a raiding system or some other game function, it’s important to us that it always feed back into creating and expanding the conflict in Faxion. Even dungeons can and should have elements of competition with guilds of the same faction, alongside the faction war that is always present.

Guild versus Guild or Faction versus Faction, players will find a break from the war, but never fully escape it…

What is the testing and beta process going to look like and when can fans get a test run of the game?

Mike Madden: We are now in open beta and invite everyone to come in and check out the game at www.faxiononline.com

We are actively working with our Beta Testers to highlight what they would like to see us focus on, while we continue to improve on what exists.

DC Universe Online: The Good, The Bad and the Future

DC Universe Online logo
DC Universe Online logo

So much of my time has been spent playing my Superman hating hero, Lineage in DC Universe online, but I had to take a moment to give my opinion on the game. While I had been looking forward to this game since its announcement it was seeing so many of my friends playing it that made me finally decide to buy it instead of waiting a few more weeks. I do not regret my decision, but there are pressing issues and long-term questions about this MMO.

The Good

I remember playing City of Heroes and thinking about how cool it was to make my own hero from scratch. Unfortunately, issues such are repetitive missions, level grinds and lack of custom powers quickly turned my love to loathing. With DCUO, I decided not to read all the developers notes or message boards. I wanted to come into this game like a child who received it on day one and make my decision of whether it was good or not based on firsthand experience not what is “coming soon”.

  • Character Design – Sure, it may not be as in-depth as City of Heroes is, but it is a great start. You cannot only make a completely original hero, but if you wish, you can pretty much copy any hero from DC, Marvel and beyond.
  • Power Layout – You have your two primary powers, but you also can choose from Iconic Powers that give you abilities such as Superman’s heat vision or Batman’s batarangs. This allows you to really customize your character whether you are a min/max’er or a concept creator.
  • Into the Fire – What I mean by this is you do not start of fighting purse-snatchers. From the beginning, you are going up against the big names from Scarecrow to Bizarro and everything in between. This makes you feel like a hero not some jerk in a mask.
  • Heroic TeamUp – From the start of the game you team up with well-known DC superheroes and this continues throughout the game. For those that though they only give you missions from police stations and the watchtower are wrong. Sure, often the heroes do not do much, but still fighting alongside them is very cool and I know there is much more to come.
  • Similar but different – Sure, most missions have you go to a location take out a bunch of bad guys and then rinse and repeat. However, there is enough variety in not only the locations and bad guys, but the story layout and endgame (mission wise not complete game wise) to keep you interested and wanting to play more.
  • Dungeon Tile sets – This was one of my biggest issues with City of Heroes, check out my report on it. When I say Dungeon, I mean an instance where only you or your team can enter. In COH it was always an office or a warehouse and sometimes a science lab, but with DCUO every instance is unique even if it is an abandoned warehouse. It makes the game seem much larger than it is and it keeps it from getting boring which is a very good thing.
  • Easy to Play, Easy to Level – There is some risk, but no more than what you will find in World of Warcraft and believe it or not this works for this type of game. You can get your butt kicked, but if you learn your role and play correctly, you can solo or group and succeed. In addition, you can level at a good pace, which COH should have learned does not mean you will quit once you max out. If there is more to do and added gameplay such as PVP, end game instances and other content you will continue to play or role a new character.
  • Voiceover and Cut scenes – They work in MMO’s and DC has given us fans of the Batman, Superman and Justice League cartoons a great gift with their voiceover work. Sure, some of the random voiceover gets repetitive, but the mission voiceover and voices from names we know makes it win win. The cut scenes just make you feel like you are part of the story and they look awesome to boot.

Now there are more good things I can say, but let us move on to the bad.

The Bad

One must always keep in mind that no MMO is going to start out perfect. There will be issues in any game you play and it will take time for the developers to not only fix the bugs, but also tailor the game in a way more people will deem favorable. Many people are spoiled because of games like World of Warcraft that while it still has its issues has been polished after years of patches and expansions. The key is seeing what will happen once the changes are made and if you like it now it will only get better.

Launch Bugs

Here are some of the most annoying issues at the moment.

  • Losing audio after a cut scene – For some people after finishing a mission arc and getting the cool cut scene they lose audio and only a complete restart of the game fixes this.
  • Vanishing Weapon – Sometimes when entering an instance, upgrading, or changing your main weapon even once you equip it the weapon does not take effect. The good news is all you need to do is un-equip and reequip to fix this.
  • Disappearing Power Layout – This one is weird because I am not sure what causes it. Sometimes your power layout, which is the number 1 through 8 keys where you can use your powers sometimes  disappears from the UI. Now you can still use the powers it is just that you cannot see them. Strangely, it will fix itself on its own randomly.
  • Windowed Mode No Save – You can select Windowed mode, but if you log out and log back in it does not save your preference.
  • Alt Tab Crash – Some people say they crash or lose audio when alt tabbing out to their desktop.

Playability

Here are some complaints about general gameplay. Keep in mind much of this is caused by people being used to what they can do in World of Warcraft.

  • Alt Tab Issue – In some cases, Alt Tabbing out to your desktop can cause issues including loss of sound or even a game crash. In addition to those issues if you select windowed mode you still have to alt tab out to use your desktop unlike World of Warcraft where once you are in windowed mode you can seamlessly switch between desktop and the game.
  • Chat and Social Issues – It will take time to get use to different chat interfaces, but with DCUO having to type in commands for inviting people to group, adding friends or joining a guild would be better if one could use their mouse to click within the UI.

Nit Picking

Some of these are good points and others would make Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons proud.

  • In PVP level 30’s greifing low levels – Welcome to PVP servers in MMO’s
  • Blurring of textures in the distance – The word is this is because the game was made for the PS3 and the PC together so while you can up the settings on your PC there will be limitations.
  • Random Bad guys/Good Guys saying the same thing repeatedly – Even with 50 million spent on the game each mob cannot have its own voice.
  • Sharing credit for a kill or having a kill stolen – You take the good with the bad. If you hit Funhouse three times and got the kill even though he would have stomped you into the ground then you have to accept that someone will steal the civilian you were supposed to save.
  • Mission repetitiveness – Welcome to gaming. Think about the best comic book you have ever read, in the end you still have random fights and a mystery and a boss fight. This is how much of gaming works and in an MMO it is a staple.
  • Gold Selling Spam – Welcome to MMO’s ignore and report feature coming soon.

There are more bugs and issues, but my too long didn’t read alarm is going off.

The Future

I have personally seen a lot of launches and some have stood the test of time and many have fallen hard to the bottom of the MMO well. The key to a MMO is not only the launch, but also how fast they can fix issue before the masses leave for another game.

Keys to DCUO’s survival

  • Bug Fixes – It may seem like a no brainer, but bugs can kill it for some people faster than others. Perhaps a PC or MMO vet will expect launch issues, but many ten year olds wont. SOE has to fix these quick or they may see a mass exodus.
  • Content – Since the level cap is 30 and you can reach that quickly the key is giving people a lot to do once 30 to keep playing just in case they don’t want to re-roll. Content at 30 does not have to mean end game. You can add missions and other thing to do that are not necessarily an end game raid, but it has to be fresh and fun and sooner than later.
  • End Game – There has to be big massive raids and fights that you would just not see during your normal missions. It is not always about loot, but about feeling you are on the forefront of the game fighting the big fight and not continuing on like a foot solider. Many people play these games to be the big shot and the end game is the big game.
  • Level Cap increase – It is going to come either way, but the key is knowing when to allow players to move on to that next level or ten as it were. You cannot just add levels for nothing, there must be a reason and all the added powers, gear and content to go with it.
  • Overall Story Arc – You have to keep the overall story going and going in a manner that makes sense and is fun to the player. Sure, we may love fighting against Bane with Batman, but we want to see Brainiac get his brain bashed or have him achieve a small victory that keeps the war going, either is good.
  • PVP – PVP can make or break a game because PVP can effect PVE and in the case of DCUO, PPV can extend the life of a game for those who rush to max level. While it is true the majority of people will PVE it is best not to ignore the PVP player or you might find some of your most loyal subscribers going elsewhere.
  • Intangibles – This includes everything from discovery quests and world events to special offers and give-a-ways. You can never over promote and if you keep your fans interest inside and outside of the game you will have a winner on your hands.

So much more

There is a ton more to say on the subject of DCUO, but for now I will continue playing and asking questions and hopefully get some answers from the developers. If you are thinking about getting this game, try it out. The game has buddy passes so you can try it before you buy it, but I think you will end up buying it. If you already are playing, stick with it, I have faith good things will continue to unfold and your voices will be heard.

I’ll see you in game.

MMO’s Coming Out In 2011 Are Already Behind The Curve

2011 sure seemed like a year that would be promising us some exciting upcoming titles in the MMORPG world. With Star Wars: The Old Republic, Rifts of Telara, and DC Universe Online it appeared at first glance that there finally would be some promising games out there which fought back against the monster known as World of Warcraft. I, for one, was in this crowd of believers looking forward to something fresh and a chance to move onto to greener fields.

Rift MMO plant
Rift MMO plant

Unfortunately, from my time playing the beta for some of these games and then also playing World of Warcraft’s latest expansion Cataclysm, I have to say that World of Warcraft has trumped the genre yet again.

But Umar, how can you say that? Those games are in beta and things always change!

Yeah, okay. People said that about Final Fantasy XIV, Age Of Conan, Warhammer Online, and Champions Online. Where are they now? Age of Conan is struggling to show some respectable numbers while being considered another tally of fuck ups by Funcom, discussions about putting FFXIV on a free to play model are on the table with Square-Enix already boasting a whopping 2 million active characters (look closely at the bolded word), Mythic is essentially dissolving with employee blogs ranting about the horribly typical EA experience they are suffering from (WAR really needs a F2P model if it’s going to stand up ever again), and Champions is already on a F2P market and is shitting bricks from the upcoming DC title.

Beta did not change those games. They have remained garbage and will never be something worth a purchase.

It’s time to take off those rosy glasses of hope and look at reality for a minute. Nothing has come to close to taking a slice of this market no matter how much you whine.
For the longest time, you’d hear me complaining about World of Warcraft and its flaws and its lack of this and that, but those were the days of Burning Crusade. The game has progressed leaps and bounds from release. I honestly have no qualms about it. What were the typical issues people had with WoW?
It’s too easy, Umar!

Okay, you nerdy Sephiroth cosplaying queer. Have you played Cataclysm? A PUG can barely clear a heroic now if most of the people you group with have downs. Oh, and don’t say “The WoW community is filled with bad players.” That’s easy to say. Most people I know that say that and then either play WoW or another MMO with me are usually just as bad as any other idiot I could PUG with.

WoW’s graphics are out of date!

Yeah, they are but it works with their art style. You need things to look pretty to have fun? Plants VS Zombies wasn’t enjoyable? Mario Kart isn’t fun? Let’s go play something pretty like Final Fantasy XIV. I’m sure that’ll be a great experience. Or let’s play Age of Conan where even the most high end computers at the time were struggling to display some of the graphics. Graphics shouldn’t be on the top of your list for playability as opposed to the actual style of the game.

I think you’re stupid and gay, Umar! Star Wars is going to be awesome!

Thanks, asshole. Enjoy Star Wars then. I’m not telling people to not play it as much as I’m saying that future upcoming MMORPGs are already behind what Cataclysm has presented. Star Wars will have what? Epic dialogue and a story? That is fantastic. Cataclysm already makes your character feel like they were part of a story, maybe not on the scale of Star Wars with all the cinematics, camera angles, and voice acting, but they did make your character more involved in the storyline.

Bioware already claimed that they won’t have much endgame and that they encourage people to roll alts to see the story from a different perspective. This is a “Choose your destiny” book in virtual form. All you’re getting is a story and not many innovative mechanics. They barely ever talk about actual gameplay and mechanics as much as they talk about the story portion of the game and the classes. “Hey guys we’ve got spaceships and Jedi! Cool shit, huh?” This is a niche game and once your story is over that’s it. Bioware isn’t known for making difficult games that require strategy and skill. Putting Mass Effect 2 on harder difficulties just meant you took more damage. Wowzers!

Rifts of Telara has already thrown in the towel by conceding the fact their game is more like Vanilla WoW than WoW in its current state. Vanilla WoW was one of the most raw and broken starts to an MMO. Gamers today are crying for innovation and polish. Not a throwback to olden times. Rifts is going to be what Vanguard was to Everquest 1. An old school reincarnation that will fall flat in the present.

The only game I think that can even grab a slice of the MMO market is DCUO. I’m not talking about a game that will take subs from World of Warcraft but a game that can fill that super hero niche that Champions failed to quench. City of Heroes is already too old school and bland even with all their amazing patches. DCUO has that opportunity to grab the market from those games and even pull in more people who cream to “Smallville” and “The Dark Knight”. It isn’t competing against the elephant in the room but against the carrion dogs roaming about.

If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. You can think what you want and I can still think you’re a bag of dicks. What am I saying is going to come to true because my word is not only correct but absolute. These MMOs will fall flat with the exception of DCUO if Sony actually markets a game this time. Time will allow you to see the truth and your bottled-up, unbridled nerd pride will nourish me when you fail to accept my prophecy.

Be Thankful, Gamer

Be Thankful, Gamer

I know. The title blew your mind. Umar Khan is writing about something he is thankful for rather than venting an apocalyptic hate filled rant? This is impossible, you may think to yourself. But it’s true. While my editorials are usually about me demeaning a genre or writing farewell letters, I am thankful for many things. And while I am in great appreciation for the greater things in life outside of gaming like friends and family and just the general ability to live, I am still thankful for the lesser things in life found in games.

happy-thanksgiving

I am thankful for games that give me a limited aerial arsenal and decide its time for an aerial fight. “Wait, what did he say?!” Calm down, reader! Give me a chance to explain myself. In games that focus too much on ground combat, I find it refreshing to be put into an aerial battle where my arsenal is limited to a single slashing attack. While these fights are repetitious in nature they also make every hit you land as important as the first swing. A force of timing and precision infuse you where the rest of the game left you with the mindless monotony of button mashing. One cannot deny the sheer satisfaction they feel when that overgrown robotic fly careens into the ground, left in a smoldering heap. Was it obnoxious? It sure was but you know when you have that get together with friends and talk about the game you’re all going to say, “Wasn’t the air battle a pain in the ass?” You’ll forge friends in common camaraderie and that is something you should be thankful for.

I am thankful for underwater levels because nothing gets my heart pumping more in a game than knowing there is the potential to suffocate or that hair rising terror that there could be a giant squid monster lurking in the murky depths. The sensation of dread that creeps upon me knowing that there is something dwelling around me in the darkness and one of my few hopes of survival around the crushing pressures of the blue abyss is my limited air supply is invigorating. I feel an unrelenting wave of anxiety as I progress through a game and I begin to notice the foreshadowing scenery getting a bit more coastal because I know, at some point, I will be submerged and I will end up crying myself to sleep like a little bitch that night.

I am thankful for villains who aren’t pure evil but just have differing views that they believe are correct and bode no true ill intent. In some sense you could find yourself relating to their predicament. If I learned one thing from Loghain in Dragon Age it’s that sometimes you have to be a D-bag to get through the day. Sure, the responsibility and knowledge of what you did will weigh heavily upon your shoulders but in order to be a titan sometimes you have to bear the curse of Atlas first. And while I found myself at odds with Loghain, had the tables been turned, had I witnessed the world from his perspective, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find myself being loyal to this patriot.

I am thankful for in-game prostitutes. They are a great way to gauge your true moral values in life. As a teenager playing Grand Theft Auto, sleeping with a prostitute and immediately killing her for a refund was economical and humorous all at once. As I grew older and prostitutes found themselves leaking into other games, (haha, I said “leaking”) I began to take a more virtuous approach towards these emotionally distraught individuals. Should they keep to themselves as my hero rolled on by, I could see the pity in their eyes, the defeat drawn upon their faces as they simply tried to survive with the education they managed to soak in during their times in high school and the deprivation of their living situation, be it an addiction to drugs or a baby at home they wish to save from this lifestyle. However, should she open her disease-ridden, puss marked mouth and say “Hey, daddy? Want some tenda luvin care?” I kick into crusader mode and begin to purge the barrio from these swindling sluts! Some may say, what a hypocrite! I say, “Fuck you!”

I am thankful for player collision and the ability to grab your partner. Nothing increases the enjoyment of a game like having a cohort. And nothing increases that bliss like being able to nab your partner and toss them into a canyon between platforms. I remember spending more time fighting with my brother in the New Super Mario Brothers Wii than actually trying to complete the level. Constantly jumping in different directions to slam into each other and fall to our deaths, tossing one another into bob-ombs, and bubbling up to lose the level are some of the most amusing cooperative game play elements I have ever encountered. Let us not forget of the grand self-sabotage in the coop mode of Little Big Planet. If you remember, you could grab your partner’s arm and drag them. Nothing in comparison could be funnier than watching a friend run to gain force for a jump and chasing after them. Right before they took their leap of faith, I would nab their arm quickly and tug in the opposite direction, At this point all I had to do was let go, depleting their momentum but leaving them cascading in the air and falling short of the platform. I am so thankful for the ability to interact with your partner in a game. So very thankful for all the laughs and tears shed while with playing with friends.

So, dear reader, there are things out there to be thankful for in games, if you really think about it. They bring memorable times with friends, an opportunity to share a story with your brothers in arms, and a chance to display your true character traits. Right now, some of you are probably in your room, isolated from your family because you have relatives coming over for Thanksgiving and wish to not be bothered. You want to hold your Xbox close to you and whisper sweet nothings into its air vents but remember, keeping your gaming experience to yourself is lonely. Stories are best shared than kept in your head. Get out there, make some friends, drink with your family, have a good time because life is meaningless without people you care about, even if you feel they don’t care about you. It’s only one day any way. Enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

APB. I Think U Dun Goofed

APB logo
APB logo

Long, long ago in the summer of 2010 there lived a game called All Points Bulletin. It was a large sandbox-ish Grand Theft Auto online that took developer Realtime Worlds millions to create. For many, it was a brief stint of entertainment that was hindered by hacks, broken mechanics, and normal players being dominated by gamers who memorized the map and all the good camping spots. For some, it was a new age Wild West where you could roam the city freely and reap havoc on a grand scale against friend and foe.

Of any game out there it had the most amazing character customization option to date. People were creating Ninja Turtle Gangsters with a van to match. People made pedophile theme gangster with Pedobear etched on the side of their vehicles. The game had so much to offer cosmetic hogs that it seemed it could hold a respectable player base for that option alone at least.

But what happened? APB just didn’t seem to hit its expected highs and hit unexpected lows. Was it because of the game? Was it because there were no commercials or real advertisements? You’d think a game like this would have millions of GTA fans drooling all over it. Unfortunately for Realtime Worlds, this isn’t a dream that would become a reality. On September 16th, 2010 the game would breathe its last breaths as it was announced they would be bringing it offline. All the servers came down and that was the end of this Gangster Vs Vigilante Armageddon.

However…

Recently it was announced that free MMO publisher Gamersfirst was going to resuscitate the corpse of APB and release it within the first half of the next year under a Free to Play model. While it does seem they intend to bring back APB, it certainly feels like it is going to be zombified rather than returning to its true former grace.

The team developing this game under Gamersfirst is Reloaded Productions, a group that has been working on an original RPG for the past year or so and has released nothing under its belt. None of the former the employees of Realtime Worlds are even involved in this Rebirth project.

This Free to Play model wreaks of failure as well. Former players of APB will most likely not even be able to play as their old characters and would have to start over again. Why is that? Well, legal issues from Realtime Worlds indicate that they can’t release databases with customer information so this release of APB would be more of an APB v2.

Exactly how will this F2P model work? It has been confirmed that players may “lease” weapons and purchase a premium status that expands on the creation tools. Let me allow this to set in. It expands on nothing. Reloaded Productions isn’t expanding on the current games creation tools. They are holding back options that this game was released with and are now charging players to unlock the only real great thing this game had going for it.

What was the point of this purchase? Everything about this rerelease suggests that this game will be an abomination beyond all abominations. While it hasn’t been released yet and I am talking out of my ass, the confirmed changes in the team, the monetized plan, and the withholding of the games key feature just makes me uninterested in the future of APB.

How can a developer who didn’t create this game and doesn’t even know how to manage the Unreal 3 Engine that it was based upon make this game a future success. That’s like asking me to work on it your trigonometry homework. Just because I’m part Asian doesn’t mean I know math. The same goes for a “developer” who acquires a game they didn’t work on and expecting to be able to reverse engineer something they don’t understand.

I wouldn’t suggest jumping back into APB if you’re really looking to get into this game again. Just get Grand Theft Auto 4 and play online if you’re looking for a shootout jamboree. With all the mechanic flaws this game had under Realtime Worlds, there is no possible way that Reloaded Productions is going to be able fix any of the mistakes the original team failed to correct firsthand.

City of Heroes: The Best and Worse

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

I have always loved Superhero’s ever since I was a kid and after playing Everquest for several years I was looking forward to something old and something new. The old was Everquest 2 which turned out to be a failure for me in its opening few weeks. The new was City of Heroes, which I felt was a breath of fresh air to the MMO scene.

The Best:

Total Costume Customization

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Since there was no real loot in the game besides enhancement tokens your costume was extremely important and to this day I believe COH has the best costume creator out there. You could pick from a template, go simple or spend hours designing an outfit that matched the hero you wanted to create.

Some people spent hours on their costume alone and who could blame them, you could pretty much make anything, including replicas of your favorite superheroes which got many in trouble. Later you could add capes and special lights and auras and additional costume slots which just added to the awesomeness.

Travel Powers

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Today various travel abilities are available in many different MMO’s, that wasn’t the case during City of Heroes time. COH gave players a ton of abilities, allowing you to fly, teleport, jump and speed your way across their world. You could even enhance those powers to go faster than the default speed and it really made you feel like a superhero. It also showed you how big the zones were when you have fully upgraded super speed and it still took time to travel across the map.

You could even add additional travel abilities so you could fly and jump and teleport. Of course this meant less offensive and defensive ability slots, but for some it was perfect fit for this hero design.

Massive Battles

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

In Everquest it was almost impossible to fight more than one mob at once if it was anywhere near your level. Sure, you had classes that could kite, but it was a long, boring, slow process. Pretty much the name of the game for EQ was tank and spank. This meant the tank turned the mob towards him in a corner or some such obstruction and everyone else pounds from behind.

What thrilled me about COH is that even at level 1 most classes could fight more than one mob at a time. The game was designed so you could take on a ton of minions, a few Lt.’s and one Boss or Arch Villain. It made sense to be swarmed by ten plus minions only to take them out easily and then you see the big bad boss in the background. The thing was, even though they were weaker, you still needed to be on your toes or you would be on your back. This made for some great fights and powerful action.

The Worst:

Tile Sets

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Freeport, East Commons, Estate of Unrest, Lower Guk, Plane of Fear, these are some memorable places from Everquest. The problem with COH was not many of the mission zones or tile sets were memorable at all. Honestly, they were downright pathetic and repetitive.

I completely understand that COH is in the real world, but to fight in the same, office building, warehouse and sewer, got real old real fast. Yes there were budget issues with COH, but honestly, even adding smaller missions in grocery stores or people homes could have helped immensely. They did add more in later months, but not nearly enough and by then new MMO’s were released and many walked away.

Suppression

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Originally when you had a travel power you could easily kite mobs using them. You could fly in, rain down the firepower and fly away. I get that it was kind of cheap, but honestly, so many people were creating new characters to try out new power and costumes, this was an issue that really could have waited.

What suppression did was make it so if you used an offensive power near a mob you would not be able to use your full travel power for a few seconds. This allowed the mobs to hit you with their opening or alpha strike.

This caused an uproar within the community and many people did quit because of this. The biggest gripe was that farming was the best way to gain experience quickly and yet it had not been removed, but suppression was added.

For those that don’t know how farming in COH worked, one way was to have a tanker class select a specific mission with specific mobs he could gather in a specific place and use taunt so everyone else could burn them down. It was like AOE farming in World of Warcraft mixed in with tank and spank.

Many felt weakened and less super after the nerf and so began the  mass exodus of COH players.

Mission Architect

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Believe it or not this one is recent, but if COH was already dead to many this was its burial. The idea behind the Architect was to give players the tools to create their own missions using the same tile sets and mobs the developers used. It sounded like a good idea until you remember this is the MMO community we are talking about.

What happened is farm missions were created and dominated the game. Sure, there were some real map developers out there who made awesome missions, but not many played them. One reason for this was because of a bug where you could add in a specific mob that registered at boss level and gave boss level EXP, but was as easy to kill as a minion. This led to people making tons of these maps and players who wanted to level fast played them until it was removed by the developers.

Unfortunately, it was not just the farm maps. People felt no real need to travel the COH world anymore. All you had to do is log into AI headquarters and shout for a group. It turned a massive world into a sandbox and let’s face it, a sandbox just isn’t that interesting.

Fond Memories

COH is still alive which considering how many other MMO’s have come and gone is something of a miracle One reason is because it was the only superhero MMO and Champions just isn’t doing it for many. The community is very loyal and many of them hate W.O.W for whatever reason. With that said the new DC MMO looks promising and though it is part of the evil SOE Empire, many may give it a try and if they have learned from COH’s mistakes, they might have a winner on their hands.

Blizzard’s New World of Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base?

WoW Kobold
WoW Kobold

Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base

Rumors have been coming down the grapevine that Blizzard is moving away from the traditional attitude of making each expansion easier than the last. The audience that they garnered in during Wrath of the Lich King seem to be involuntarily entering a new “old” era of World of Warcraft. Not only is the expansion revamping the old vanilla zones but it seems that old combat rule sets are about to follow in. Are they attempting to isolate their WOTLK Ez-Mode audience that has been showered in epic loots for sneezing in the right direction? It sure seems so.

Some Beta contestants have been mentioning that level 81 greens in Cataclysm are stronger than epics that drop off of Arthas in WOTLK. Sound a bit familiar? The same formula was used in Burning Crusade where you could replace your entire Tier 3 set and weapons by level 64 with vastly more powerful “uncommon” gear. On top of this change, they are putting the “epic” back into purple by making blues a much more common drop. Testimonials from people in Beta have been mentioning they have yet to have seen a purple item. They are mentioning that the abundance of blues are the equivalent of seeing a warrior in Valor Armor with a purple from Stratholme or UBRS before Molten Core came out. In Vanilla WoW, when you saw someone with an epic, even just one, it really meant that item was purely epic because of the miniscule chance something like that would drop. Is there a reason Blizzard is reverting to this style of loot dropping? Some players are so upset about this they have even vented their rage on the forums how there will be more blues in Cataclysm than in WOTLK. One possible troll stated even if the blues have stats that are equivalent to a purple they refuse to have to raid to get purple colors now. A bit immature? Well, that’s WoW’s community for you.

Another homage to the old school playing style of World of Warcraft will be the return of Crowd Control! That’s right, Mages! You can start Polymorphing again! It had seemed that during WOTLK, CC had become a thing of the past and players would do the simple thing and just body pull and use Area-Of-Effect spells to burn everything down quickly. Healers would just spam their fastest heal and keep the tank up constantly. In Cataclysm, Blizzard (and something beta tester can attest to) mentions that combat difficulty has increased significantly and just nuking everything that is still moving isn’t going to work anymore. Players are going to actually have to use their crowd controlling abilities to keep pulls safe.

Tanks are also going to have a bit more of a problem now because healers are being forced to use more than one heal to keep them alive. Yes, they are making healers have actual heal rotations because they are making their spells more mana hungry. Tanks hit points won’t be able to keep up with massive bombardment from 9 mobs at once any longer. It looks like Blizzard is trying to make all players fill a more important and diverse role in a group even in lowly dungeons.

Is Blizzard looking to bring back players that have left and also bring in new players that haven’t been spoiled by WOTLK easy handouts with the new Team Jacob race? If this is the case, how is their majority audience in WOTLK going to fair when Cataclysm releases? The expansion still has awhile to go before their release date and there are always more features and additions to throw in but if this is the course that they are going how negatively could this impact their current population?

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.

South Korea: Midnight Ban on Online Gaming

South Korean gamers
South Korean gamers

Midnight Ban on Online Gaming

Everyone remembers the stories out of South Korea about some gamers dying of dehydration playing games like Lineage, well South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is tackling the problem of Online Gaming addictionn by imposing a midnight ban on online gaming for underage gamers.

So how will it work? The ban will be applied to popular online games be it RPG’s or others and underage gamers will be kicked out of the game based on the time they choose. So for example you can choose the lockout times of midnight to 6am, 1-7 a.m., or 2-8 a.m.

In addition the SK government will be implementing a slowdown system that will throttle internet speeds. If anyone has ever used Comcast Cable and tried to download multiple seasons of television shows you know what throttling does. For the rest of you it means your speeds will slow so if your online games need a lot of bandwidth and they throttle you then in effect you will not be able to play forcing you to take a break.

In my opinion this is excessive and would never work in the U.S. could you imagine, the Tea Party would have a whole new legion of followers.

Ubisoft DRM Servers Attacked?

Server is down
Server is down

Ubisoft DRM Servers Attacked

Remember back in late February when we brought you the story about Ubisoft DRM? The idea was to combat piracy and provide a better gaming experience to its users so Ubisoft would require an always on internet connection to its servers so you can play their games? Well over this past weekend the DRM servers went down due to overload because of the recently released PC version of Assassin’s Creed II or at least that is what we thought it was.

ACII was one of the first games to utilize the new DRM policy and it has been plagued with many server issues. Posters on the ACII forums complained of connection outages and not long after the DRM servers went down not allowing anyone else to connect to them and play.

An official response on the Ubisoft forums stated:

“Due to exceptional demand, we are currently experiencing difficulties with the Online Service Platform. This does not affect customers who are currently playing, but customers attempting to start a game may experience difficulty in accessing our servers. We are currently working to resolve this issue and apologize for any inconvenience.”

At this point it looked as if Ubisoft had just underestimated how much traffic they would receive and was underprepared for the server load then this tweet appeared on the Ubisoft twitter page.

“Apologies to anyone who couldn’t play ACII or SH5 yesterday, servers were attacked which limited service from 2:30pm to 9pm Paris time 95% of players were not affected, but a small group of players attempting to open a game session did receive denial of service errors.”

So it looks as if someone or someone’s were not happy with the new DRM policy and launched an attack. Later an official gave a statement to IGN saying:

“All players with an open session during the attack were not affected. We also confirm that, at this time, no valid cracked version of either Silent Hunter 5 or Assassin’s Creed II are available.”

Well I am glad most of you fans of Assassin’s Creed were able to play but the fact remains that the DRM servers had issues before the attack. Simply put, people are not happy and I have seen more frustration than praise from the playerbase.

Ubisoft can boast about no cracked versions of their games being on the net, but what they should be talking about is how to make sure that the 5% who did not get to play will not have to worry about outages, connection issues and attacks in the future.

It’s gonna be a long road people.

Let’s hear your feedback ACII and SH5 players, how did playing on the Ubisoft servers fair you this past weekend?

Ubisoft DRM: Q & A

DRM RIP
DRM RIP

So if you haven’t heard software maker Ubisoft are unveiling a new DRM that would require an always on internet connection as part of their DRM and online services platform. This means those of you without internet or when your internet is down, you are out of luck.

In an interview with PCGamer Ubisoft answered many of the questions from the gaming community on what is being called a “heavy handed” approach to security.

In the interview the Ubi spokesperson stated about piracy; “It’s a huge problem – you know it, I know it, other people know it. It really is a very important issue that all serious companies need to address,”

Ubi did state that with the new always online approach gamers will no longer need a disc to play and can install the game on as many PC’s as you want as many times as you want and with the ability to save your games to the Ubisoft servers.

So let’s say you are playing a game and your internet goes out, here is an example of what can happen, keep in mind that every game may function differently. “In Assassin’s Creed, if your connection cuts out, you’ll be taken back to the last checkpoint. With Settlers, your game will resume exactly where you left off,”

Now let’s talk maintenance and downtime. As any MMO player knows having to wait hours to play due to server maintenance can be a pain and in the past you could at least play your single player games, now, maybe not.

In the case of a server failure their games will be taken offline, and you’ll be unable to play them. “The idea is to avoid that point as much as possible, but we have been clear from the beginning that the game does need an internet connection for you to play. So if it goes down for real for a little while, then yeah, you can’t play.”

Like everything else this is a test run. As companies grow larger and merge they know they have the upper hand and will make more changes to move closer towards their vision. I am not saying this move is bad (thought I don’t like it) but the key is players will have less and less say in what happens and less choices on what else to do and in other games to play. Hopefully this will not be a major inconvenience to gamers, but it is another step forward toward the end of PC gaming at least in the way that we use to know it.