Friday, November 30, 2007

Damn

If, before last night's Packers vs Cowboys game, someone told me that Brett Favre was going to have a career-worst passer rating and not finish the game, I would of laughed until every last cow in Wisconsin came strolling through my front door. Ouch, I better get the barn ready.

Sparing comments and excuses for the Packers poor performance last night, I want to touch on what Brett Favre has meant to me as a Packers fan. Brett Favre has been the quarterback for Green Bay for almost as long as I have watched them play. Sure, I was old enough to remember and I saw some of the other quarterbacks before Favre, but my "fan memory" doesn't seem to kick in until Brett Favre.

To me, watching a Green Bay Packers game, is watching a Brett Favre game. That is an experience I hope every NFL fan gets to experience with their favorite team at some point. Even after two interceptions, some horrible decisions, and a lackluster start, I didn't think Favre wouldn't be finishing the game. However, the injury to his throwing elbow ended up knocking him out of the game

Now, if someone told me that, with several key defensive injuries and NO BRETT FAVRE, that the Packers would of turned a potential blowout into a close game, I would of laughed as well. However, that is exactly the show Green Bay put on last night. Sure, there was a lot of sloppy play on defense and offense, but Green Bay is a young team and truly facing its first really big game. I expected this sort of play.

What I did not expect, was Green Bay to tighten up and play well down the stretch. Even in a loss, they told the Cowboys that they better play a hell of a lot better next time, because it is doubtful the Packers are going to be sitting three of their best players (KGB, Woodson, and Favre).

Oh, and it's doubtful the referees will bail them out and gift wrap the game next time these two teams meet. I hate to get into arguments about referees in the NFL, because I think they do a good job, but last night was a bit disappointing for one reason. On two crucial plays, one at the beginning of the game and the other at the end, one referee CALLED THE PLAYS CORRECTLY only to be overridden by another referee that SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN INVOLVED IN THE CALL!

Anyways, good teams don't let games come down to two or three plays and the Packers will need to clean up the sloppy play if they wish to make a statement at the end of this year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My wife owned me, or was it Mass Effect?

Last night, while watching TV with my wife, a commercial for Mass Effect came on. Midway through the commercial, I remarked; "Oooh, another game I need to get."

A moment after my lips closed, a female in the commercial spoke: "Reqeust denied." With that, my wife looked over at me and smiled. We both busted out laughing.

My wife and I are fairly well off on the money train, but new game purchases are always a touchy subject. With my recent glut of purchases (Call of Duty 4, Dark Age of Camelot resub, The Orange Box), and the need to pay up for some more World of Warcraft time, this "request" was only a joke. Yet, the joke seemed to be on me.

Ah well, fate is a bitch sometimes.

NOTE: I don't own an Xbox 360 and really don't have plans to get Mass Effect. So, honey, if you are reading this, CALM DOWN :) I'll be home for dinner later.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Arena Cheating

World of Warcraft is set to enter Arena Season 3 after today's downtime. With the new season comes new, rank-restricted arena gear and a personal ranking system, both of which are meant to fight rampant arena "exploitation" from the first two seasons. Sadly, the new season also brings new cheats.

Win trading, the process by which top teams farm another high ranking team, seems to be the new flavor and pretty much cements the high ranking of the team involved. It is easily disguised as normal play and only in the worst cases is it probable that the teams will get caught.

Fortunately, Blizzard seems to be on the case. However, this gives me no faith in the arena system as a viable end-game activity. Before win trading, it was top teams selling spots for gold. The point is, if it isn't one thing, it'll be another and that is enough evidence to me that Blizzard has failed on yet another PvP system. Like the Honor System, it will only be a matter of time before the current arena system is scrapped and replaced.

In my eyes, there are a couple things that would have contained these arena problems to simply arenas and not the entire game. First off, arena gear should of been restricted to use only inside arenas or become severely less powerful outside of arenas. If certain trinkets and out-of-arena gear were going to be restricted inside arenas, it only makes sense that arena gear could have been restricted outside of the arena.

It is a bad sign when the arena rewards are referred to as "welfare epics". Sadly, the epic arena gear turned out to be superior to a lot of raid level gear and quickly became the easiest way to gear up for end game raiding content.

I am not averse to easy to attain epic gear. However, I am against any system that becomes the "path of least resistance" for the opposite aspect of the game. PvP arenas became the preferred method for PvE players, and in my book, that is bad design. I know there is a lot that can be argued over raid loot affecting PvP, but I don't want to get into that aspect. I stand firmly on the concept of separate PvP and PvE reward systems.

Secondly, the arenas should have been about prestige, renown, and good ole' bragging rights. This entails rewards such as special titles, unique mounts, displayable trophies, etc. Arenas should have never gotten involved with rewarding epic gear, because it immediately dashes the illusion of fair play. When teams enter an arena, it should be the group build, player skill, and strategy that determines the winner, not fucking gear (most likely earned through questionable means).

Gear level, in arenas, should always be equal and that would have been easily accomplished through arena-restricted gear. Unfortunately, the system can not be changed and it would be unthinkable for Blizzard to remove all the gear already attained by players. The only hope is a change with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

In the end, this s just another set of reasons why there is no rush for me to get to 70. Arena's are not competitive, will never be, and are no longer my goal. Battlegrounds, which have always been objective-based, provide a better challenge and allow every class and level of player to participate in a meaningful way.

Now, if Blizzard would just put the same effort into Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Eye of the Storm, that they put into Alterac Valley, the battlegrounds would be golden!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm a Shaman

Hello, I'm Heartless and I'm a Shaman. I'm a conduit of the ancient forces of nature. You are no doubt wondering, "Hey Heartless, how do I hurl bolts of lightning?". Simple, get World of Warcraft dog. You can be anyone you want. I'm Heartless and I'm a Shaman. What's your game?

Now just replace Heartless with William Shatner, throw in some WoW footage, and you would no doubt have a pretty kick ass commercial. Don't worry, Blizzard is way ahead of you.

Oh, and the debate is settled. It is pronounced sh"ah"man, not sh"ay"man. Owned, by Captain Kirk no less.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Numb3rs

0 - Number of active days left on my Dark Age of Camelot subscription.

1 - The average number of walls a bullet goes through before killing me in Call of Duty 4.

2 - Number of kills I achieved in my first Call of Duty 4 multi-player match. Sadly, I also suffered 32 deaths.

3 - Number of days until my birthday, Thanksgiving, and the next Green Bay Packers game.

20 - Number of deaths I suffer on average in a CoD4 match.

47 - Number of kills I average in an a CoD4 match.

50 - Number of Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley tokens I need in able to purchase arena season one gear for my Shaman in WoW when season three starts later this month.

70 - The level I need to reach in WoW before I can use arena season one gear. I'm currently level 66.

2,637 - Number of points I've scored in Team Fortress 2.

65,250 - The amount of honor needed to attain an entire set of season one arena armor for my Shaman in World of Warcraft.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Showdown: World of Warcraft vs. Dark Age of Camelot

William requested that I discuss some of things that made me turn away from Dark Age of Camelot and return to World of Warcraft. However, I want to stress that I did not quit DAoC because of WoW's new 2.3 patch. I quit DAoC because of real life time restraints. I just so happen to have access to my WoW account for the time being and play it casually (very casually).

I want to start this showdown with the one thing I strongly feel that DAoC has cornered the market on, something that WoW has struggled with: PvP. In DAoC, PvP is called Realm vs Realm (RvR). That is a term that can only be found in a Mythic game. Seriously, they trademarked the term.

Semantics aside, RvR is DAoC's form of PvP. RvR pits three realms of players against each other for control of castles and relics. Frontiers are the zones where the castles and relics are located. Open PvP can occur anywhere in the frontiers and there is no shortage of castles and towers to fight over. Both the castles and relics can be captured by opposing forces. This gives real weight to RvR, both for the individual and the entire realm.

WoW on the other hand, focuses on instanced PvP battlegrounds and more recently arenas, both of which have little impact on anything other than the players involved. Since launch, Blizzard has tried several different approaches towards their PvP systems and through numerous rebuilds and tweaks, PvP has simply become a secondary issue taking a backseat to the more popular PvE side of things. That is OK, because WoW's PvE is great and Blizzard should focus on it while letting players bash in each other's heads every once and a while.

The distinguishing trait between the two games PvP, is that DAoC has focused on providing that RvR experience to every single level of play. There are now level-restricted battlegrounds and dungeons for every level range in the game. Players can level from start to finish doing only RvR battlegrounds or dungeons. DAoC knew what people enjoyed and highlighted it. Their only fault is a side-tracked PvE themed expansion that became the bane of DAoC RvR enthusiasts everywhere. Fortunately, Mythic learned their lesson and were able to set the wheels in motion to keep the game afloat.

WoW has tried desperately to fix their PvP, and after dozens of changes the system is still fairly focused on just doing instanced PvP as fast and as often as humanly possible for epic gear. WoW's PvP is still enjoyable, but it holds no weight and is nothing more than a "my l33t sauce is hotter than your l33t sauce". With that said, Blizzard has started tossing around more open world, objective based PvP that shows promise. DAoC does PvP right, with meaning and reason behind it. Hopefully, Mythic will showcase this in their next title: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

With the PvP topic discussed, I will throw down a bullet list of what WoW has done so much better than DAoC, and then we can discuss them.
  • WoW's UI, both in modifiability and out-of-the-box functionality.
  • WoW's control scheme is unmatched in the MMORPG industry and should be the starting point for any game. I can not stress how important this is.
  • WoW's quest system trumps the shambled mess that is DAoC's quest system.
  • Leveling is actually faster in DAoC these days, but WoW does it with style and without the grind.
There are some other bells and whistles, but those are the four things that have drawn my back into WoW time after time after time. Oh, and sexy elves.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Return Is Over

I chose a really bad time to get nostalgic about Dark Age of Camelot. Between real life and kick ass new games like Call of Duty 4, I have very little time to dedicate to an MMORPG. Especially one that is six years old and fairly set in it's ways.

I enjoyed the thirty or so hours I put into the game over the last month, but I ended up at the same conclusion I did a few years ago: the genre needs to improve. The genre has grown up and new games do some very basic things very well. Things that DAoC has not improved on over the last six years.

World of Warcraft's controls have honestly spoiled me and I can not seem to adjust backwards to the heavy-handed systems of DAoC. Also, the flexibility of WoW's UI mods trumps any of the custom UI packages available for DAoC. There are tons of other items that I've grown used to and playing DAoC again just made me wish for WoW. There is so much to be said for the little things that WoW managed to get right.

But I don't want to make this a WoW is better than DAoC post. DAoC was the game back in the day and I do not regret the three years I invested into it. In my humble opinion, Realm vs. Realm is still an amazing concept and extremely well implemented throughout DAoC. It is just sad to know that the rest of the game aged like rotten cheese.

Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Digital Distribution Woes

Digital distribution is the the future for gaming. Ten years from now, players won't go to a store to buy their games, they will just download them. The process will be simple, clean, and help to cut the rising cost of games.

Unfortunately, if the Call of Duty 4 launch via Steam is any indication, digital distribution has a long ways to go. The Steam launch has been littered with show-stopping bugs and regional pricing differences, not to mention being launched nearly a week after the box versions hit store shelves. All of this for a game that has Game of the Year written all over it, and that is saying a lot in a period seeing the launch of a ton of AAA games.

The first issue with the Steam launch, as mentioned, was the fact that it was released a week later than the box version. While this is fine for players like myself, who had no plans to jump in at launch, it is a sore spot for many players that have become fond of Steam and other digital distribution solutions.

Tagged onto the week delay, the actual decryption files didn't get released on Steam until midday on Nov 12th (the release date). Most Steam users had expected a 12:01 AM launch, but it was not to be, and many angry gamers spent several hours waiting for the game to be released. Is it a bit much to expect midnight launches via Steam? Maybe, but Valve has shown the ability to do it with their major titles, and I see no reason why that can't carry it over for third-party titles.

The next issue with the launch made me glad to be an American, because the game only cost me $49.95 + tax. Unfortunately, Europeans were stuck with a $69.95 price tag, which did not include VAT. In total, Call of Duty 4 costs almost $80 for Europeans. Again, for a game that has been in stores for $49.95 and that they were getting a week late. There has been no explanation from Activision, the game's publisher, as to the price hike for Europeans using Steam.

NOTE: Prices on Steam are set by the publisher, not Valve.

Thirdly, once the game did become available, a plethora of bugs infested the launch. Pre-loading, the process of downloading the digital game files prior to launch, ended up short for a ton of players. Personally, my download finished 320 Mb short. So, instead of launching right into the game, many players were forced to validate their installation files and download a large portion of the game.

On top of this, there have been many other ugly bugs that have reared their head since the 12th. I will write up a more in-depth post later with details on how I fixed several of them, along with links to appropriate support articles. Needless to say, there are a lot of issues. Issues, that were not present in the boxed version.

With all of this said, the game in question is still probably one of the best games to launch this year. The single-player is short, but no one will be arguing that it isn't the most intense six hours of your gaming life. Yes, it is that damn good. On top of the wonderful single-player, the multi-player is set to challenge Halo 3, if not destroy it in terms of player minutes per month. On Xfire, CoD4 single-player and multi-player combined, are already challenging World of Warcraft as the most played game. Of course, that figure is not counting the players playing via Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Call of Duty 4 is huge and it just barely missed the boat in regards to digital distribution.

Monday, November 12, 2007

They Really Do Exist

My all time favorite M&M's commercial is the one where the Red and Yellow M&M meet Santa. Upon seeing each other, Santa and the M&M's exclaim: "They really do exist!", before promptly fainting. I LOL in real life every time I see it.

Today, as a gamer, I had the same sort of moment when I came across a story on Digg.com about Fedora Core 8's Game Spin, which just so happens to be the gaming-based operating system I was talking about in my last post. Following it further, I discovered that there were plenty of gaming-related Linux distributions. As the title of this post says, they really do exist!

Unfortunately, my elation was quickly dashed as I realized these were not truly gaming-based operating systems. They were simply Linux distributions with a bunch of freeware games tossed in. The kind of freeware/shareware games that my dad used to buy me when I was ten. Sure, some of them are a bit more polished than the old classics of my youth, but most of them are not and seem to be included in the packages simply to increase the total count they can advertise.

This is not the sort of operating system package I had envisioned when I first heard about the Fedora 8 "re-spin" idea. Nor, is it even really anything special. Anyone with a Linux install could just as easily build this package of games for their system free of charge.

Even with my hopes dashed, I did find some glimmer of hope. A very important part of newer Linux distributions, automated package managers (sort of like Windows Update for Linux), has crossed over to provide updates for many of the included games. This fairly simple idea, central management of all your games updates, could and should be the centerpiece of a gaming-based operating system.

Also, free games are never a bad idea and it makes complete sense for any interested Linux-gamer to probably operate off this Fedora 8 spin off. While it didn't turn out to be what was expected, it is still a start. A baby needs to crawl before it can walk.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Game, The Operating System?

A while back I talked about Linux gaming on Radeon based video cards. In the process, I asked how cool it would be if gamers had the choice of an operating system that was completely dedicated to gaming. Grimwell, Everquest 2's community manager, was very receptive of the idea and I imagine he is not the only one (UPDATE: Jeff Freeman is interested as well).

Amazingly enough, Fedora Core 8, a Linux distribution from Red Hat Inc., is poised to do something that may just make the Game Operating System a reality. Quoting a c|net news article:
...a curious feature of the new version 8, released Thursday, is the ability to strip out the Fedora identity altogether.

The reason: Red Hat wants Fedora to be a foundation for those who want to build their own Linux products on a Fedora foundation.
Further down, this little gem was dropped.
The ability to "re-spin" Fedora is attracting some interest. Among the Fedora-based variations that will be available are one for gaming, one for designing microprocessors, and one for programmers.
That is correct, a gaming based operating system. How fucking cool is that? That is all the information I have found so far, but I am going to keep on digging.

While Linux gaming isn't going to explode overnight because of this, it absolutely lays the groundwork for future incarnations and more attention from game developers.

OLPC Gets It's Game On

One Laptop Per Child, an MIT driven project to deliver $100 laptops to children accross the world, has received a generous donation from EA: the original SimCity! OLPC now has a certifiable big-name game as part of its package.
Electronic Arts will donate the original SimCity city-building game to each computer in the non-profit One Laptop Per Child humanitarian initiative, which designs, manufactures and distributes inexpensive laptops to children around the world with the goal of giving every child in the world access to modern education.
Having done a fairly exhaustive project involving OLPC, I feel attached to any bit of news I hear about it. I never thought that I would be reporting on gaming-related news for the OLPC! I support the project 100% and want to take a moment to talk about it.

OLPC is not here to simply deliever cheap laptops. The laptops have a purpose and a guiding principal. Constructionism, a philosophy of education in which children learn by doing and making, really sets the OLPC project apart from other cheap laptop projects. There are plenty of other companies setting out to prove they can make cheaper laptops. OLPC will always have them beat because of their philosophy, instead of just trying to make the cheapest laptop possible.

Currently, the laptop does cost more than $100 to produce, but the $100 tagline still sticks with the project. It is a goal and I fully believe they can achieve it. However, staying under $300 will still be a great accomplishment. After all, in a world where gamers throw down $500 for the latest video card, I can't help but stop and admire what OLPC has done and will continue to do.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Elder Scrolls Online Confirmed (Not Really)

Elder Scrolls Online has been confirmed.
Bethesda's very own Pete Hines has confirmed that yes, an MMORPG installment of the wildly popular Elder Scrolls series is on the way. In the announcement, Hines also stated that the company had already put $300 million into the project
Of course this announcement was followed by the proclamation that World of Warcraft now has a contender to deal with. I guess Knights of the Old Republic Online and Warhammer Online don't count? I'm actually quite amazed by this rhetoric.

Am I the only person that has played the Elder Scrolls series of games and said to myself: "This is a lot of fun, but wouldn't work in an MMORPG."? The Elder Scroll games are great single-player fun, but outside of the character system I can't think of one thing that would translate to an MMORPG at all.

Part of the magic behind the Elder Scroll titles has been the ability to be the hero of the world, not one of many heroes which is the case with MMORPGs.
I think there are just a few too many people waiting on the "next big thing".

By the way, I'm just kidding. The confirmation was never true and has been officially denied.
Update: It seems that the original story which Jim sourced in this article jumped to more than a few conclusions. We just got off of the phone with Bethesda's Manager of PR and Marketing Erin Losi, who wanted to clarify a few things.

For one, Bethesda has not announced or confirmed that an Elder Scrolls MMO is in the works.
Oh well, who would of guessed that Destructoid would jump to conclusions and post a catchy title to spam around the Internet? Certainly not me.

Team Fortress 2 Final Thoughts

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Jeff Freeman
requested that I wrap up my thoughts on Team Fortress 2. So, here are my final thoughts.

Over the course of seven years of first person gaming, I have not found a game as inviting and friendly as Team Fortress 2. From the art direction, to the class-based system, TF2 has a very low barrier for entry. At the same time it maintains a competitive edge for skilled gamers offering a variety of ways to succeed.

The maps, weapons, and game modes are all well done and complete. Nothing feels like it was left unfinished, which unfortunately is not the case with many games that launch these days. That gives TF2 a feeling of being complete, which makes it a pleasure to play.

Aside from some debates on things such as critical hits, the community around TF2 has received the game well. It is a clear winner in the "teamwork FPS" category and is a shining example of what can be done when developers take the time to make a new game instead of an updated game.

Sure, TF2 is not Team Fortress: Source, and there is a ton of differences compared to Team Fortress Classic, but it delivers a solid experience that should do the Team Fortress name proud.

Players looking for a game that is easy to learn and rewards team players, need look no further than Team Fortress 2.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another EA Studio Down

Another EA studio bites the dust.
EA Chicago has gone down for the count. I can exclusively report that EA is closing the studio effective immediately. Word is that EA is working hard to place many of the 150+ employees at its other studios around the world. What does this mean for the future of the Def Jam fighting franchise and the forthcoming Marvel fighting game? I'm still looking into that, but it sure seems like those games won't be coming anytime soon.
This doesn't mean very much for the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning fans, but it is another sign that change is occurring within EA. How all of the recent changes fit together is unknown officially, but it is definitely leaning towards the idea that EA has maybe grown a little too big for it's own good. Which, may be the best sign of all, as EA begins to specialize a bit more and produce a higher quality product. EA has franchises that have kept the company going, and where they don't have great game franchises, they are buying studios that do.

Hopefully they are buying and shutting down studios for the right reasons, and not just to perform a major manpower shuffle while snagging all the new intellectual properties that come with companies like BioWare and Mythic.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Return

I am officially dubbing my return to Dark Age of Camelot, The Return: Heartless Pwns Noobs. This morning I ran into the newbie RvR dungeon, Demon's Breach, and proceeded to lay waste upon the scum of Albion. Then I killed a lurikeen. Yes, they really do exist. I killed so many newbs that I gained two levels! What!? Players can gain levels by killing people? The ability to gain experience from killing other players is one of my favorite aspects of DAoC, and it is even greater now, netting almost three times the normal experience rate.

However, I did all of this without playing the class I had originally planned and researched for. My initial character was going to be a Norse Warrior, but I quickly found out they are slow to level, constantly out of endurance, and pretty much no fun for a returning player. Also, Warrior's are expensive to get started. So, I chose to play a Kobold Bonedancer. Let the LOLs begin.

The Bonedancer is a very strong class for someone that solos a lot. The more I thought about it, the more I justified to myself that it was the right thing to do, regardless of the fact that Bonedancers are an easy-mode class. I don't care! I am here to have fun and kick ass. Not only does a Bonedancer allow me to do both, but it also allows me to easily farm to support other characters like my Warrior.

One of the coolest things I discovered during The Return, was the fact that players can receive their first horse at level ten by simply completing a "go get the saddle" quest. Before I knew it, both my characters were galloping across East Svealand wasting away precious grinding time.

I am having a ton of throw away fun, and that folks, is the reason I returned to DAoC.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What EVE Could Do to Bring Back Players

I hold no reservations about EVE Online. It is a very well designed game, albeit owned by an otherwise poorly run company named CCP. EVE is like a good wine, aging well and accruing value with every passing year. If that sounds conflicted, it is. I am still conflicted over the game.

I enjoyed my time playing EVE, but the game is inherently punishing towards it's newer players. Also, I spent more time researching things outside of the game, than I did playing. My first character was completely gimped and without a delete and restart I would have spent months catching up. I stopped playing, but kept paying to advance my skills. Eventually my two cents kicked in and I canceled my subscription. Just in time fortunately, as my corporation's leader decided to dump the corporation in classic EVE form: by stealing all the ISK, kicking all the members, and stealing every last BPO and ship possible.

So, what spurs me to post about EVE today? First off, CCP, invited Richard Bartle to speak at a recent panel for the EVE Fan Faire. Bartle told them that their plan to democratise the player to company interactions would fail.
The panel I was on this morning is now over. As insulting your hosts go, I think I did well (sigh).

Basically, CCP (the EVE Online developers) want to democratise their virtual world because they have so many players that they're being overwhelmed by suggestions for ways to change or improve their virtual world. They want a council of players to put the best ideas to them, with the council-members decided by popular vote. I told them that this wouldn't work because CCP still had the final say (they're gods, not a government), so the players actually had no new powers at all. However, using the word "democracy" would give them the impression they did have power, so it would all end in tears when they discovered that they didn't.
That sums up my opinion on the matter fairly well. Honestly, the whole move smells of marketing to save face for numerous past misgivings. CCP needs to concentrate on improving the experience it provides to the average player, not spin political mumbo jumbo with a few hardcore elite.

The second news item that brings me to EVE: patch notes. No, I'm not going to break down all the notes. I just wanted to point out the inclusion of both a Linux and Mac client for the game. Other than that, nothing of interest for any ex-EVE players looking for a reason to come back.

However, that is the reason I am here. There is a couple changes that would definitely make me reconsider coming back at some point.

1. With an account that is 6-months or older, allow players to set skills to train without paying a monthly subscription. This will allow interested players to return down the line without having to worry that they will be years behind in training. ISK will still be a limiting factor in how much of an impact these players can have by themselves.

For some evidence that this would work, we just need to look back at the five day period where all accounts were reopened. Several of my friends reopened their accounts just to set a long skill to train with the plan of someday playing again.

2. Allow skill training to be automated. When I was playing, nothing sucked worse than losing time because you could not log in to set a new skill to train. EVE needs a skill template system where players can load a template from a website and have their training automatically set itself. I don't believe any current EVE player would argue that this would not be a benefit to the game.

Unfortunately, CCP seems far too wrapped up in political bullshit and graphical updates to care.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Team Fortress 2 Initial Impressions - Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III

I want to take a moment to clear something up about Team Fortress 2. There is no I in team. Games are won or lost by the actions of the team. Teams that don't want to defend control points, lose. Teams that want to play defensive classes while on offense, get trapped. Teams that constantly steal ammo packs during setup, thus delaying the upgrade of sentry guns, get run over by early rushes. Teams that play together and support each other, win.

These team mechanics can be both aggravating and rewarding. Even the best solo players can have a screaming fit if their team is not working together. Nothing they can do themselves can make up for a half-dozen or more other players doing nothing. A good player could have an instant kill switch for anything on their screen, but without a team watching their back they will make little difference in the end.

However, a good player can instantly lift a sub par team that is at least trying to work together. A couple good players can almost make a team themselves with the proper classes and strategy. I can't wait to see how more organized clans and teams start doing in tournament level play.

Over all the other aspects of TF2, this is the aspect that sells the game. TF2 would be "just another game" if the developers had submitted to repeated pressure to make each class more "solo friendly". The biggest war was won when the developers stated strongly that grenades for every class were not going to be part of TF2. Grenades would have turned each and every class into a potential powerhouse, capable of soloing any situation. Without the grenades, classes now have to work together to form a team. There are other examples, but the grenades issue was the most apparent in beta and in comparisons to Team Fortress Classic.

Teamwork sells the game.

Final Thoughts
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