DOTA 2: A Game for Crazy People?

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I played my first game of Dota 2 a week ago at the time of this writing, and am currently sitting on 34 hours logged. This is with two days spent out of town, away from my computer. 34 hours in 5 days, then. For a week, my computer has been little more than a Dota 2 delivery vessel. I am a man obsessed. Consumed, even. I dream of sick ganks and clutch ults. The distinctive sound of a stack of gold dropping, a reward for a last-hit, or the choir heralding my hero’s return to the battlefield, echo in my brain even as I write this. Any experienced Dota player will tell you that 34 hours is but a pittance, that I cannot even begin to plumb the depths of the game, much less attempt to relay them to you, the reader, but I feel I have no choice but to try. This is the first of hopefully several pieces journaling my descent into the madness that is Dota 2.

DOTA 2: A Game for Crazy People?

First, the absolute basics: Dota 2 is the “sequel” to Defense of the Ancients, or DotA, a free mod for Blizzard’s Warcraft 3. The original DotA is possibly the most-played mod in history, and is still actively supported. It spawned an entire genre pretty much single-handedly, the genre now known as MOBAs, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas; a  descriptor so vague as to be meaningless, but nevertheless the one we seem to have settled on. In MOBAs, two teams of 5 players face off in an enormous map. Their home bases are in the bottom-left and top-right corners of the map, and the map has three “lanes” running along the top, bottom, and middle. Each team automatically spawns minions, or “creeps,” periodically, which march unthinking down the lanes attacking whatever they see. The goal of each team is to break down the other’s defensive towers and ultimately to destroy the opponent’s Ancient, sitting in the middle of their base. Players gain gold and experience from killing creeps and other players, which are used to level up and buy equipment.

Dota 2

The main thing to understand about Dota 2, and the overarching theme of any discussion of it, is that it is fucking crazy. It is a mutant, an aberration of game design. Its mechanics seem to have been half-designed, half stumbled-upon, and never revised. In some ways, it is the essence of an RPG experience. You pick a character, grind low level mobs (“farm creeps” in Dota 2 parlance), and level up and load them out until you are an unstoppable force. Rather than take place over 40 hours or 40 days, the entire experience can be had in 40 minutes, and it turns out it is still massively satisfying. In other ways, it is totally unique, even alien. Sometimes, you want to attack your own creeps, so as to “deny” your opponents the full XP and gold from their death. Other times, you want to sit back and abstain from attacking anything at all, so as not to push the front line forward into enemy territory, where they have the defensive advantage. The game is loaded to the gills with idiosyncrasies large and small.

Dota 2

Dota 2’s title may suggest that it is a sequel, but in reality it is essentially a port of the original DotA into the Source engine. The Warcraft 3 engine had some particular quirks and features that DotA inherited by necessity, and they have been largely carried over into the new game. A new player may wonder, rightly, what the point of a full day/night cycle is. At night, units have shorter visibility, and there is one hero who is underpowered by day and reaches his full potential by night. A new player might wonder why, if you pull neutral creeps away from their camps for a crucial few seconds, exact replicas of those creeps spawn in their camp, leaving you with two identical sets of creeps to farm? These are minor features, arguably a bug in the latter case, borne of the Warcraft 3 engine. One might think that they might be streamlined or cleaned up. But no. “Streamlined” is not an adjective one should ever apply to Dota 2 under any circumstances.

Dota 2

This game has an info-density that would put any MMO to shame, and to be competent at the game you better be ready to absorb all that information, fast. At the time of this writing, there are 101 playable heroes, out of a planned 110, each with 4 abilities (unless they have 5 or 6!). Some of these may be active abilities, things like spells or techniques, while others are passive, meaning they are really more just a character attribute. Learning your own hero is feasible over the course of one match, but without some knowledge of your teammates’ and enemies’ heroes, you may be in for some unpleasant surprises, like being struck by lightning literally out of nowhere. Or perhaps a ghost pirate ship will come barreling out of the woods next to you and run you over. All’s fair in love and Dota.

Dota 2

These heroes are categorized by roles. Some of these roles are familiar to anyone who has played any kind of RPG, such as “durables,” a.k.a. tanks, or “nukers.” Some are completely unique to Dota, such as “carries,” who start the game underpowered and must be protected by other heroes, but grow in such a way that by the end of the game they are unstoppable. There are 15 (ish – it’s fuzzy and with lots of overlap) of these roles, and a hero may fill any number of them.

Dota 2

In addition to all of this are the items. There are dozens and dozens of items, which can have some fairly substantial effects on your character’s abilities. With the right loadout, you can even nudge a hero into a role they may not be primarily suited for, as befits your team composition. Items can only be bought at the shop in your team’s home base. Unless you go to one of the “secret shops” strewn about the map which have a separate inventory of items that can only be bought there. Don’t worry if you can’t get over there, though, because each team can also have a “courier,” a separate character that can ferry items from any shop to your character. You should coordinate with your teammates though, as each team’s courier can be controlled by anyone on the team at any time, (or killed by an enemy because, whatever! Dota!) and you don’t want any confusion.

Dota 2

So yeah, this game is fucking crazy. To their credit, Valve is trying their damnedest to lower the barrier to entry and improve the experience of new players. By far the most successful of these, for me, has been the game’s integrated guide system, which highlights the abilities you should be developing, in order, as well as presenting you with the items you should be focusing on for your hero. This has helped immensely, as the stress of having to learn what these scads of items do can be temporarily put aside while you focus on the already ludicrously daunting task of simply learning who these characters are, what they are capable of, and just what the hell is going on at any given time.  Make no mistake though, you will still need several tabs of Dota 2 wikis open at the start of every match to try to piece together what you are facing.

Dota 2

Even then, Dota 2 can be frustrating in a way that most other games would take great pains to prevent. Half of my games have ended with a character (usually for the opposing team) seeming so completely overpowered that I feel like they must have found some sort of exploit, that this cannot possibly be the way this game is meant to play out. But no, no, that’s just how Dota 2 is. There is also the ever-present threat of verbal abuse by your teammates. Dota 2 is a team game more than any other I’ve ever played, and if one member is noticeably worse than the others (or worse, drops from the game), the entire team will suffer dramatically for it. This genre is notorious for promoting discord amongst teammates, and Dota 2 is unfortunately no exception. Bring a friend, or four.

Dota 2

So why, then, am I doing this? Why am I submitting myself to the incomprehensible heroes, inexplicable random deaths and interminable abuse? It’s hard to know for sure what makes Dota 2 so compelling. I think partly it’s what I suggest above, that it can provide the satisfaction of a good RPG in microcosm, as over the course of one match your character grows from a fragile, defenseless creature to a fearsome force of nature. It is game as power fantasy, but this one makes you work for it, every time.

Dota 2

Beyond that, though, is the simple satisfaction that mastery of a complex system can give you. I, like many gamers I suspect, need to understand my games, to master their mechanics and bend them to my will. This, then, is perhaps the largest, most complex, most seemingly indomitable system ever conceived within the realm of videogames, and thus my greatest challenge. At 34 hours in, I have barely reached the point where I understand what is happening most of the time; where I am able to follow conversation between and maybe even play with those who are far more experienced and skilled than myself. Just getting to this point, overcoming the brick wall of confusion and frustration and negative feedback to arrive here, at basic competence, is already one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had. The game’s runaway success may seem inscrutable given its absurd complexity, but having played it for just a week now, it seems unnatural that it is not the biggest game in the world already.

Dota 2

My previous experience falling deep down a gaming rabbit hole was with Starcraft II. Starcraft II, like Dota 2, is a game of almost limitless depth. It is also the exact opposite of Dota 2 in virtually every other way. Starcraft II often gets compared to chess. It may be asymmetrical, with three distinct factions with different fundamental mechanics, but Blizzard takes great care to keep things balanced, to make sure that every unit plays a core, elemental role in the overall game system, in pursuit of the perfectly balanced competitive experience.

Dota 2

If Starcraft II is a modern day chess, honed by game design masters, then Dota 2 is Cowboys and Indians, being played by a gaggle of eight year old boys, arguing over who missed whom and who is secretly wearing a bullet proof vest. If Starcraft is about a relatively small number of units and mechanics interacting endlessly to create new situations, Dota 2 is about implementing literally every idea that anyone connected to the game has ever had, in the hopes that if every hero is completely overpowered, it will all come out in the wash. The result is an experience that is at once sprawling, messy, disheartening, unpredictable, organic, empowering, and above all completely, endlessly, fascinating.

Axel Schmidt: GameDuell

gameduell

Name: Axel Schmidt

Title: Head of Public Relations

Company: GameDuell

Favorite Classic Game:  StarCraft

Tell us why it is your favorite: Due to its unrivalled presentation, its compelling storyline, the unique races and characters and the enormous strategic gameplay depth and balancing StarCraft has continued to keep my fascination alive over the years.

Five Don’ts of gaming

You are not going for a Twin Galaxies record so when you decide to have a retro game night with your friends do not show how you can beat Super Mario Bros 3 with one life because it will just piss us off and make us retaliate on you. ~J.A. Laraque

Five Don’ts of gaming

dos-and-donts-sign

I can’t stand those 5 or 10 things you should or shouldn’t do articles. Those articles are often so cheesy with advice anyone with half a brain would already know about. So without future adieu here are a list of 5 things gamers shouldn’t do.

Don’t eat while using voice chat

voice chat eating

Seriously, 9 times out of ten, your microphone already sucks and the worst sound in the world is someone chewing food and it coming in over your speakers. For some reason people who eat while voice chatting never use push to talk either. Also, remember to leave voice chat or we might here you going at it to Fappathon and that is just a reputation killer.

Don’t put stickers on your console

stickers

I did this with one of my Nintendo’s. I thought it would be cool to put my own mark on it by adding a sticker and next thing I knew my NES looked like a teenaged girl’s notebook. It got so bad I would cover my NES when friends game over. Luckily, I broke it during a frustrated night of the original Metal Gear and got a new one.

Don’t play a game you own at in front of friends

super-mario-bros-3

You are not going for a Twin Galaxies record so when you decide to have a retro game night with your friends do not show how you can beat Super Mario Bros 3 with one life because it will just piss us off and make us retaliate on you. On the other hand, if you want to school your friends in a game of Temco Bowl go right ahead.

Don’t treat your noob girlfriend like the noob she is

noob

No, this is not a sexist statement. We all know girls can pwn just as hardcore as guys, but we also have many girlfriends completely not into any games. So if you want to introduce your none gaming girlfriend to say Starcraft, go right ahead. However, you cannot attack her for sucking the way you might do a friend because she won’t take it nicely and you will find yourself playing solo for many nights to come.

Don’t play a controller with dirty hands

soap controller

If you want to have that special controller that only you use then fine, but if you plan to let others play your controller keep it clean. One of the worst things in the world is to be handed a controller and its grimy or sticky because we have no idea how it got that way and our imaginations will go while. Break out the hand sanitizer for goodness sakes.

There are many other don’ts out there, but you get the idea. Next time we will bring you some Do’s to make sure you are up to par. In the meantime, if you have some more don’ts to share, let us know.

I’m Becoming A Korean (Gamer)

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This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. ~Honorabili

I’m Becoming A Korean (Gamer)

Basically, for the past month or two my girlfriend has been alien to me so I’ve reverted back to my old girlfriend: MY COMPUTER. This happened shortly right after I got back from my trip from E3 to which she did not get invited to go with! =P Anyways, half a week after I got back AT&T decided to be a bunch of useless fucks and decided to have my internet connection go down for about ten days… this in the middle of my addiction to League of Legends (which was already starting to die) and World of Tanks, which I had just dumped 20 dollars into and had a subscription to which has now expired.

Internet Serious Business
Internet Serious Business

What to do, what to do? Go back to the basics! I pretended it was the 1996 and that I didn’t even have internet gaming (for the most part). My brother and I were going nuts as to what to play, since without internet connection we were cut out (literally) from the virtual world needed to play a modern pvp game (since few companies make hotseat stuff anymore, other than for usually some console games). We both said at the same time “Master of Orion 2, multiplayer, over the LAN”. What a brilliant solution to being stuck in the dark ages. After a little bit of work and installing the IPX network protocol, we got the game to work like a charm over the LAN using DosBox. We even made a CD image of the game which runs better than a full HD install and streams from a hard drive anyways. After a few days we were playing as if we had never stopped playing in the first place. Even when the internet came back on, I went on League of Legends and I thought the level of strategic thought now required to play it was nothing compared to the complexity of a legendary 4X strategy game.

Anyways… after a short while I checked my email and saw they had sent me some free codes for games to play so I logged into my Steam to add and download them. Boy, what a mistake… They were having a huge sale with stuff 90-75-50% off, so I just wasted about 200 dollars on that shit and then started to game non-stop. Like basically, since then days have been a blur. I haven’t posted anything on here in a good while, not since my E3 article which took J.A. Laraque forever to get me to finish it (well after the event had already ended, which was already when nobody cared to read it). I am now awake on some fucked up schedule that lets me play with all the European gamers as well as the Asians! I take power naps, drink about 3-4 cafe con leches (cafe lattes) AND 1-2 Red Bulls a day before I start playing pvp games. I go from Mount & Blade, to Master of Orion 2, to League of Legends (doing my daily XP bonus), to World of Tanks (again with that daily XP bonus bullshit, feels like a job!) to Dirt 3 (I beat it today, so now doing multiplayer races against a lot of Germans) to Fable 3 (which I just destroyed) to Monday Night Combat to AI Wars to … well you get the idea. Gaming nearly 24 hours a day, I barely begin to scratch the surface of even a fraction of all the games I have… On top of that my PC keeps dying more and they keep releasing more cheap (and in my case sometimes free) games.

I bought an ATI 6870 card to replace my dying underclocked ATI 3870 but I only had it for 3 days since I sold it to fix a client’s machine. Now I think I’m going to build a machine that uses the AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Desktop Processor but we’ll see since they’re always releasing new ones but I’m pretty sure that will be the winner.

This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. (insert rant saying something like “fuck all games with DLC” here) =P I’m starting to get a system down as to when a game will be shorter than a day for me, it pretty much sucks, especially if it doesn’t change as I replay it and it’s currently selling for around 40-50 bucks on Steam or some other distro. (ahem, Fable 3 in this case) I don’t have any children or a wife and yeah sometimes I forget to eat while gaming but even then I’m a fat bastard so it’s not like I’m at risk. ;] I’m Korean for my games but not just for Starcraft or Guild Wars, but all of them!

On a serious note, much during my internet down time I got to read the Master of Orion 2 manual A LOT and it made me really sad that they no longer make 200 page user manuals like that that were actually worth reading and it also made me really sad that Microprose (probably my favorite game company) has been dead for a long time. They sure don’t make them like that anymore! Klackons FTW!

Anyways, I’m out, going to go troll some noobs and work more on my trolling reviews of more games I wasted my money on! Game on!!!

Are Asians Good At All Games?


Quick answer: Nope! Where the hell did this stereotype come from? Where did this claim that Asians are the demigods of gaming originate? I don’t know and I’m sure a quick google search could answer that question for me, but you know what? I don’t feel like opening my browser for such productive means! Instead I’m going to rant while being entirely ill informed and uneducated! Are you ready because I am!

The claim that Asians are amazing at games probably started with Starcraft and not a day before that. Just look back at the epic story of The Wizard starring Fred Savage. Who won that tournament? Not an Asian. That alone is hardcore evidence that our allies in the Far whatever directions aren’t that adept at video games.

The only game that I can recall Asians faring well in would be RTS games. Everyone complains when they go against an Asian player in a Real Time Strategy because you know you’re going to die. RTS games in Korea are like the fucking Olympics or Soccer. It’s a pretty big fucking deal. Ungodly accuracy, impeccable multitasking, and the execution of unparalleled tactics lead them to victory. I guess it makes sense for them to do well considering Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War so close by!

The Unmoving Faces of Death
It doesn’t seem American born Asians have the same prowess as their homegrown cousins. It seems that the water in those lands are what grant them this advantage in RTS gaming. In the League of Legends championship USA placed third because they overcompensated the team with Asians and instead the Euros defeated us. Great job! You got stomped by wine drinking, rotten shark eating Europeans. Lets not even get into how poorly our US team spoke when they get the microphone handed to them from the cheerful Riot female interviewer.

Beyond the RTS realm where do they stand out? They can’t play racing games for obvious reasons. They’ll just drive slow, swerving side to side with their indicator on but never turning. You can’t win a race like that! This inability to perform well in vehicles then carries over into the realm of flying games. They’re going to just kamikaze into the ground since it’s all they know. Fun Fact: The Japanese claimed that being a Kamikaze was a tactic when in reality it was to avoid the embarrassment of being known as the worst pilots in the world.

Fighting games? What just happened a week or so ago? Famous gamer Daigo claimed in a video he could destroy America in Marvel Versus Capcom 3. I forgot what happened… Oh wait, no! I remember! He got completely thrashed about like a little bitch. Looks like the stereotype filled someone else with false pride.

Now I know you’re probably wondering why I even bothered to write this article. I wrote it in the hopes that you no longer feel fear when playing a game against an Asian gamer. They’re like anyone else, except for in an RTS. Don’t be afraid anymore. Fill your lungs with the vigor of hopefulness and victory to destroy these fools and free them from them by abolishing the stereotype with every defeat you liberate them with. Asian can be defeated and it is up to you to lead the charge.

The Alienware M11x r2 Review

Alienware M11x r2

Let me start by saying this review is more for the casual gamer meaning it will not be filled with charts and graphs and a ton of numbers that most would not understand. There are a ton of super technical reviews on the Alienware M11x r2 that provide every benchmark number and rating score you will ever need, this, is for the rest of us.

Why purchase a gaming laptop?

For the causal gamer one might wonder why you need a gaming laptop. My answer would be that you don’t, but the great thing about gaming laptops is they have the power for everything else you would need to do so why not have the ability to play games as well?

Far too often, we as computer shoppers select a low cost laptop to save money knowing we want one that we will not have to replace within a year and one we secretly wish we could play games on. Perhaps paying $1500 plus for a gaming laptop would not be for us, but at $1000 you are not too far away from laptops you find even on sites like Tech Bargains.

If you know you like to game and especially if you like MMO’s then having the ability to pull out a gaming laptop and play those games anywhere is well worth the price.

Alienware M11x r2

Price

Most reviews do not start with the price, but this is not like most reviews. The M11x can be purchased starting at $1000 on the Alienware website. At the price you can get more than enough to run most of the games a causal gamer would playing including FPS, RTS and MMO games.

The Outside

Do looks matter? Sure, they do just ask Apple, the Alienware M11x does look sleek, like a stealth bomber. The all black styling of the laptop goes well with almost any décor and let’s face it, it looks good either at home or out in public. I have had a number of people comment on the system specifically the neon-like light coming from all over it.

Speaking of lighting there are several zones of the computer that light up from the keyboard to the grills on the front and the little Alienware heads. The great this is using a program built in called Alienware FX, you can change all the colors to what suits you and you can even mix and match them for a funky clown look if you wish.

Outside Details

Let us go into some specifics about the outside. First off, the laptop weights about 4.4 pounds and while that may seem heavy to some in the day of the iPad it is still pretty light. There are three USB 2.0 ports, to connect things like mice, a HDMI and Display Port to connect a monitor, FireWire and a headphone jack for audio privacy. There is also a place for a special Kensington lock, which you buy separately so you can lock your laptop to a desk or somewhere else it cannot be stolen from.

Alienware M11x r2

The Inside

As said, there can be debates on which processor works best with this program or that game, but for the purpose of this review we will keep it simple. For the$1000 version of the M11x you get the Intel Core i5 1.4GHz processor. From what I have found using it, it does the job for the games I play and the programs I use, but I will go into that shortly.

Next you have the memory which at that price you receive 4GB’s. If you really get into gaming big time and you want the newest game on the highest setting then people will tell you to go with an 8GB or higher system. I personally do not have that on my desktop and do fine and with 4GB you have more than enough RAM for most any task you will be doing gaming or otherwise.

As for hard drive space, that decision is made based on how much you store and install. At the $1000 price, you get 320GB’s, which is a lot of space. Considering you have a desktop at home, you most likely do not need all this space.  Even if you do not and the laptop is your sole computer, unless you install every game and have a music and video collection out of this world then you should be fine. However, Alienware offers more hard drive options that offer more space.

Video is of course very important not only because of games, but everything visual on your system. Here it can get tricky because there are desktops and even some laptops that offer dual video cards in SLI and all kinds of options. The video card on the $1000 system is the NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M and I have found it works great for the games I play and for watching video in high def.

The rest

There are other things of note that come with the M11x like its wireless network card, which is necessary for gaming on the go. The system also has a standard network port to plug it in at home, the office, and school or where have you. The operating system is Windows 7 home premium 64-bit, which I have used on my desktop for quite some time. I personally think this is the third best O/S behind Win 95 SE and Win XP, so you should not have any trouble here.

Alienware M11x r2

Usage

This is what matters, but it is also, where it depends on what you do. First off, let us talk battery life, with the 8-cell battery under normal usage I have found you get a little over 5 hours of battery life, but if you are playing games, it will be less than that.

As for gaming itself, I tried the Alienware M11x in the game World of Warcraft in its native resolution of 1366×768 and was able to run the game with full graphical features with no issues even in heavy populated zones. Perhaps the key is the smaller screen, which is 11.6 inches, which can seem small when you have a user interface with a ton of icons, but I found I was able to get used to it.

In a game like Everquest 2 that uses more CPU power, I also received good frame rates even in open zones. Now I was not able to max everything out in EQ2 specially the shadows, but I was able to crank up the texture models and general graphics to make the game look great and playable even in a raid.

Other games I have played include Fallout 3, which ran fine, a number of Steam games and emulators since I am a classic gamer. I also played StarCraft 2, which ran fine. I also run various programs like Ventrilo for communication and Digsby, which is an all in one instant messaging client. I also run Firefox with four or more windows open at the same time to check websites and information, all while playing a game usually in windowed mode.

As for sound, it sounds much better than your normal laptop, but we have to be honest that even though it has internal Hi-Def 5.1 audio it does not match what you get out of a good pair of PC speakers. What I found that worked for me was the volume does get high which was an issue on other laptops. Music and games as well as movies will sound good coming out of the M11x and even in a loud room, the speakers are loud enough so you can hear it from the highs to the lows, bass and treble.

The keyboard feels good and types well even when you are slamming the keys crying for a heal. I never liked the touchpad, but this one is built well and does not easily activate when the heel of my hand brushes against it, still, I perfect a USB or wireless mouse.

As for warranty, you receive a 1-year plan, which provides hardware support, and of course phone tech support. I cannot say much here because I have not had a need to use it yet.

Overall

I personally like this system, I am sure there are things that could be better, but for most of us this system will perfectly fit your need for work, school and gaming. The laptop itself feels sturdy and well build and the cool look is a nice touch, but most important is the price and how it performance and it does both well.

I you have questions on the m11x r2 from Alienware leave a comment and I will answer them.

 

The top non-slutty female characters in video games

Claire Redfield

The top non-slutty female characters in video games

It’s always a Top 10, a Top 5 or a Top 100. Not this time though. This is a Top 7, and it’s about the Female Game Character; an endangered and usually stripped down to its panties species. This is different, as this post will not be about Lula, Lara or any other two-syllable named bimbo. It will be about interesting characters, that even a woman (gasp!) could enjoy…

 

Ms. Pac-Man

Number 7: The legendary Ms. Pacman. Not a proper female, I know, but she …er… does dress like one. If you’re into round, yellow, pill-poppers you’ll just love the old lady.

Princess Peach

Number 6: Princess Peach, ruler of Mushroom Kingdom and Mario’s personal fetish. Childish, but also a part of video gaming history. Definitely not a slut.

elaine_marley-monkey-island

Number 5: Elaine Marley from the Monkey Island series. Funny, spirited, Ron Gilbert’s creation and a governor. Good looking and old fashioned. Won’t strip for you, let alone make a naked public appearance.

shodan - system shock

Number 4: Shodan, from System Shock (and apparently SS2). Call her a slut and she’ll fry you; perhaps even destroy earth. An amazing piece of homicidal AI, if I ever saw one and a perfect match for Wintermute.

Sarah Kerrigan - Starcraft

Number 3: Kerrigan, another villain, and not 100% human either. Great looks (for a Zerg hybrid at least), a member of the order of the abominably nasty and key figure in the best RTS expansion ever: Starcraft Brood War.

April Ryan - Longest Journey - Dreamfoil

Number 2: April Ryan from the Longest Journey and Dreamfall. Uniter of worlds and magically inclined, April is also a talented and rather ‘alternative’ girl from the future, who just so happens to star in adventure games. Recently into hot arcade action too.

Beyond_Good_and_Evil_Jade

Number 1: Jade, the star of the amazing Beyond Good and Evil action-adventure game. She has style, flair, good looks and a kind heart (Ooooh! that’s sweet). She’s also a revolutionary. Like Rosa Luxembourg only with green lips. Just have a look at this great game. Control each and every Jade‘s action. Follow the link.

Music of Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness

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Music of Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness

The music to Warcraft 2 was as inpiring as MIDI music got. It made the complete Warcraft 2 RTS experience addicting even more as its constant high tempo medieval classical war-like style kept you concentrated and engaged in the ongoing human versus orc war!

WarCraft 2 Tides of Darkness cover
WarCraft 2 Tides of Darkness cover

The way I see history is although there were some minor games with RTS elements in the past the games that made it popular in order were Dune 2, Warcraft, Warcraft 2, Command & Conquer, and lastly Starcraft. Yes, there’s many games that came after them but those were the ones that set the bar for everybody else to try to copy.

The Warcraft 2 Tides of Darkness Soundtrack is so aggressive and so well written that it keep you playing and focused because every single song is great. Not just good, but totally great! I even use this music when I’m busy doing something and I need to be motivated, such as sometimes writing articles for this website. ;]

Now yes, today World of Warcraft became the dominant MMO but way before that Warcraft 2 became one of the top games to play in the mid to late 90s. I played it on a 486 and I can tell you that the DOS version ran a hell of a lot faster than the Windows 3.1 version ever did. It was stable as hell too! These, of course, were the days that required you to configure your PC’s sound card if you ever wanted to hear anything. Still, this is one of those days that actually made it worth it to have a CD-ROM because you could hear CD audio tracks for the music of games such as this one and Mechwarrior 2 as well.

As far as the Warcraft universe and this game goes, I have always favored the Orc (Horde) faction. What did piss me off is that I actually had bought this game and as I read the manual I got so into helping out the Horde that when I got to a mission where I had to kill the Ogre Mage that was the narrator in the manual, it broke my heart! I was rooting for him to be the absolute leader of the Horde!

Zug Zug! Listen up, you humie!

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

I grew up playing a ton of board games, card games, and pen-and-paper RPG games but for many years now I’ve been sick of playing them and have favored video games ever since multiplayer and playing online against other people became abundant.

Battletech Box
Battletech Box

Well, even before then back in the days of hotseat (hotseat is multiple players playing on the same system at the same physical location), especially on my Commodore 64 and Amiga, as well as my friends’ NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES consoles, I would rather play a good balanced video game than deal with the arguments and drama that playing traditional games came with.

Now I love board games, card games, and RPGs but the problem I found throughout the years is that most people you play with will cheat at every opportunity or they don’t really know the rules of the game or they create their own house rules that sometimes make the game have nothing to do with the original game.

I grew up playing Monopoly, Sorry, Talisman, Battletech, Hero Quest, Munchkin, Guillotine, Chez Geek, Magic the Gathering, Jihad (the Vampire the Masquerade card game), Dungeons and Dragons (every version; AD&D every version as well), Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, and Vampire: The Masquerade. I’ve played more but those are the ones that easily pop into my head right now. I remember playing Battletech at a game store called Gamesters here in Miami with my friend Tom Birmingham and it was us two against two other players. The other players would do shit like waste time then make their guys move twice and fire twice. Even with their cheating, we decimated them.

Munchkin Card Game
Munchkin Card Game

For card games, especially Munchkin, there would be so many arguments that one time my friends stayed up all night playing the game and they decided to wake me up at 5 AM asking me to make a rule judgement. The conversation went something like this:

Friend 1: “Yeah we wanted to know how to interpret the Loaded Die card…”
Me: “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You know I’m going to kick you guys each in the balls the next time I see you.”
Friend 2: “I told you not to wake him up because of the game.”
Friend 1: “Shh… Anyways, we want to know if you can counter a Loaded Die card with another Loaded Die card.”
Me: “Yes, now please fuck off and never call me again not even if there’s an emergency. And yes, I will cock/cunt kick you all next time I see you. Good night.”

Vampire The Masquerade book
Vampire The Masquerade book

For pen and paper RPGs people would cheat on their die rolls just so their character would always do well. What’s the point of doing something if there is no penalty? How about playing a game where your character can actually die? What would be the point of real life if no bad things happened? Another problem that I found is that almost nobody knew how to actually role-play anything other than being a combat monster useless fucking character that killed everything that the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) had spent hours designing. I always think of the D&D sketch by the Dead Ale Wives when I think of RPGs. For that I’d rather go play Diablo, at least that’s the point of that game!

Anyways, I grew tired of people ruining games for me so even as a kiddo I knew that unless the controller was broken in hotseat or somebody was using a bot online, video games would solve all that shit by preventing arguments from happening. Whereas on a traditional game you have to enterpret the rules and logic, in a video game everything is happening much faster (no need for die rolls other than internally within the program) and everything is more fluid. Whereas before playing something like Battletech, a battle would take 4 hours of real life time, that would translate into a 5-10 minute match in an RTS game.

Spy vs Spy on the c64
Spy vs Spy on the c64

The logic is simple and it’s even more obvious to me these days as I grow older than video games will continue to propagate even more and those old games will just continue to die. Now yes, I do agree that they should continue to exist. What are you going to do when a natural disaster happens and there’s no power? They’re great for that. Sometimes they’re great for parties so that at least you can play something with a non-gamer.

Auto Assault Box
Auto Assault Box

Now I’m not encouraging people to play an MMO unless it’s something like Auto Assault or Mechwarrior (two dead games) or PlanetSide (still around but almost nobody plays it) where skill and strategy mean something but more something along the lines as playing Starcraft or any favorite FPS game or anything else for that matter, so long as it’s not a gear based shitty game.. Just be careful with the online cheaters that will employ bots to win like a little bitch!

Another problem that traditional games have versus computer games, especially pen and paper RPGs is that they would take up so much time that it essentially became a ritual that you would have to dedicate time for each week. Think of it as the dedication a WoWhead gives their guild for raiding and other stuff in that game, except instead of clicking on World of Warcraft from any computer to connect you have to go to their house, buy food and drinks, and then drive home (usually really late that night or the next morning). It was even worse as a kid because of parents imposing curfews but I guess that doesn’t matter these days since parenting has gone to shit. =P With online gaming these days, you literally can play any game 24 hours a day and find people willing to play with you. You can’t beat that (although that does create problems like gaming addicts and more but that’s another topic for discussion)

Ur Quan Masters Battle
Ur Quan Masters Battle

I’d rather play a video game against a friend where it’s much harder to cheat than play a traditional game that could potentially ruin a friendship. I’ve seen some of my friends get into a permanent feud both over traditional games as well as video games but not as much for video games. Anyways, I’ll take something like a hotseat game of Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters) over a shitty game of Monopoly! However, just because I love video games that doesn’t mean that I won’t join you for a quick board game or card game or RPG session either!

Blizzcon Virtual Ticket

Blizz Con 2010 logo
Blizz Con 2010 logo

So you hit the refresh button so many times that you have permanent nerve damage and have nothing to show for it. Well at least you can purchase a virtual ticket. The bad news is Blizzcon 2010 tickets sold out faster than it took to load the order page. The good news is if you really just wanted the loot for attending then you are in luck.

Personally if you have never gone to a Blizzcon you should at least once. Having said that you really only need to go once unless you really like long lines and stinky bathrooms.

Going virtual nets you the advantage of only watching what you want and you can DVR it so that makes it even better. You do save a ton of cash, but you don’t get to see the random fight break out or the drunken cosplayer’s at the event.

Here is what you get with your virtual ticket:

•  Four live internet channels offering over 50 hours of HD BlizzCon programming

• Exclusive World of Warcraft® pet “Deathy” the Murloc — and StarCraft II® in-game items

• Access to exclusive BlizzCon merchandise sale*

• Complete coverage of panel discussions, tournaments, community contests, the latest game-related updates, plus BlizzCon exclusive developer interviews and the epic closing ceremony

• Enhanced video on demand and DVR functionality

All in all not too bad. So if you are interested click here to order now.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 7

PVP vs non-pvp PVE
PVP vs non-pvp PVE

Player versus Player and Player versus Environment was the topic for this week’s show. We were happy to have our good friend Edwin in the studio with us and had a great conversation via Skype with longtime Obsolete Gamer fan, Liz Poisonkiss.

We started off with a recap of last week’s show which featured MMO’s and then moved into our Facebook fanpage question of the week which asked which our fans preferred to play PVE or PVP type games. From there we talked about our Insider Discussion question of the week which asked our panel which had a bigger impact on PC gaming RTS or FPS games.

From there we dove right into the main topic discussing the differences between a FPS mindset playing games such as Quake 2 and the strategy side of RTS games such as the original Warcraft game. Edwin also talked about his online Street Fighter games and said that he preferred to play again a human which we all agreed.

We premiered a new feature on OGS called Skype with a fan where we talk with people who have participated on our Facebook page and Forums and our first guest was longtime fan Liz. Who shared her thoughts on being a gamer girl, fps versus rts and pvp versus pve.

In our final segment Ignacio, Edwin and I discussed our various experiences in PVP from MMO’s to X-box live to arcades. Overall we had a good discussion about an important subject in the world of gaming. So give us a listen and we will be back next week with a brand new show.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 7

Which genre had a bigger impact to PC gaming RTS or FPS games?

Panel Discussion microphones
Panel Discussion microphones

What pulled you into PC gaming was it the fact that a new type of gameplay was created that just couldn’t be found on console systems? For many PC gaming took time to get into not only because of the cost of the systems, but that some of them took work to get running. However, the rewards were great for those who ventured into the world of PC gaming and through today some feel consoles are killing the PC gaming market (besides MMO’s) there are still millions of PC gamers out there.

If you look past the MMO’s and Flash games what would you find on these systems. Which would you find more of FPS, First Person Shooter Games or RTS, Real Time Strategy Games? Obviously with the recent release of Star Craft II I am sure you will see a Battlenet icon on many gamer’s task bars, but overall, who had the bigger impact on the PC gaming world?

In my opinion it is FPS games and this is coming from someone who loved to play RTS games and even turn based games. For me it was games like Wolfenstein, Rise of the Triad and of course Doom that had me going to Egghead software to slam three hundred dollars on the table for a Western Digital 750mb hard drive to build my first custom rig.

When I went to my first LAN party here in Florida it was the guys from Red-Eye that showed me how to use mouse look in order to properly use the hook in Lithium Quake 2. Now don’t get me wrong, StarCraft, Warcraft, Total Annihilation were also a big part of our LAN gaming, but it was games like Tribes, Duke Nukem, Shogo and Doom 2 that ruled our playtime.

We asked our panel of industry insiders their opinion on the question.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

I would have to go with FPS. Granted in the PC platform, RTS is bigger than it is on other platforms like the consoles. But even so I’d go with FPS having a bigger impact.

Juan Gril from JoJu Games wrote:

In my opinion, Starcraft on RTS, and Quake on FPS.

Chris Skaggs from Soma Games wrote:

I’d say RTS. Where FPS had a huge impact on hardware and game design. I think RTS brought a ton of previous non-gamers to the table for the first time and kept them there.

Danny Greig from XGEN Studios wrote:

I would say the FPS has had a larger impact on PC gaming but not by much. Doom/Doom 2 and Quake had just too much impact on PC gaming to ignore; I don’t think any RTS has had the impact of those games.  Blizzard has basically owned and dominated the RTS genre which has had a very large impact on the PC gaming industry but falls just short of what the FPS has done in my opinion.

Jason Shankel from Stupid Fun Club wrote:

In terms of technology and broadening the appeal of the PC as a platform for gamers, I’d have to go with FPS.  In the early days, FPS highlighted the power of the PC as a gaming platform with superior performance to consoles.  There simply was no other way to play DOOM or Quake except on a PC.  The RTS on the other hand highlighted the power of the keyboard and mouse as an input control, but was not fundamentally limited to the PC.  It would have been possible to play Dune II on a console.

In terms of creating a genre that is uniquely PC, I’d have to go with RTS.  Today, consoles perform roughly as well as PCs and there are many shooters available on console.  And even though FPS controls are still superior on a PC, FPS is certainly no longer a PC-only genre.  Yet no one has really cracked the RTS nut on consoles.  With no technological barriers to clear,  RTS is a genre that’s simply best played sitting up with a keyboard and mouse, not reclining with a console controller.

If I have to pick one answer, I’m going with RTS.  The FPS made a bigger initial splash, but the RTS has endured as a uniquely PC genre and thus had a longer lasting impact on that platform.

David Warhol from Realtime Associates wrote:

I’d say first person shooters.  They survived longer as a genre, and people talk about Quake and Doom a lot more than they do Starcraft (I).   Me, I’m not a fan of the FPS genre.  I think there are more first person shooters as there are Phil Collins ballads… and they are largely just as indistinguishable from one another 🙂 .

Gary Manica from Smashing Ideas wrote:

Easy answer for me.  I want to say RTS games because I prefer them, but realistically they don’t come close to FPS games to me.

FPS games in general have been one of the (if not the biggest) pushers of hardware development on a PC for many years running.  Dev houses constantly refine massive engine libraries to push more and more polygons and maintain the minimum framerate that crazy FPS players demand.   Engines like CryEngine, Unreal, Source, idTech, etc provide a platform for, and push developers (hardware and software) to really go above and beyond while being able to use a mostly pre-built framework.  The tech they build in these engines has been filtering down to other gaming genres for decades now.  And there is a reason that other genres are adopting FPS aspects to them.

There are many instances of amazing RTS games out there, with a lot of really good ideas.  But I don’t think they affect the industry as a whole to the scale FPS games do.

So what is your take? Let us know your answer by posting in our forums below. See you next week.

Games Coming Out For PC July 2010

Starcraft 2 marine
Starcraft 2 marine

Games Coming Out For PC July 2010

This list doesn’t include every single little game that comes out this month, only what catches my eye.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge, July 7

A graphical and aural remake of this classic adventure game of the Monkey Island series. Will probably appeal to people who did not play the original the first time around.

Disciples III: Renaissance, July 13

The Disciples games are a lot of fun if you like games that are fantasy turn-based strategy games similar to Master of Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic.

Mytheon, July 13

Let’s see how the live non-beta version of this action based mythology MMO fares…

Need For Speed World, July 20

Will it be more like Need For Speed Motor City or will it be a glorified Burnout Paradise clone?

I will surely play this play for free MMO racing game. Let’s see if they can make something that has repeat play value.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, July 27

If you are a PC gamer and you don’t know what StarCraft is, you have been living in a pocket dimension (make that dementia). Expect productivity in Korea to drop to zero on July 27 and video game related deaths to go up!