Monday, March 30, 2009


On my "WAR, what is it good 4?" post, Anonymous asked:
I just started playing the game and I would be curious what fundamental game designs you think it lacks?
Upfront, the performance was my dead horse to beat for the majority of my time in WAR. I have a good PC, a solid connection, and the end game zerg Realm vs. Realm was nigh unplayable. It did get better and last I played, lag and choppiness (outside of Fortresses and City Sieges) was fairly reasonable in most cases.

OK, that really isn't design related, but performance issues make a game's design difficult to evaluate. Here is a list of the fundamental design issues I found with WAR.

1. Another Mythic game with overpowered group crowd control (Rift, Electromagnet, AOE disables, and knockdowns) combined with overpowered AOE damage abilities. Sorry, I hated PBAOE groups in DAoC and I hated the AOE farm groups in WAR. Both were overpowered and both destroyed the fun of venturing out into RvR without 100 of my closest friends..

2. Open-world RvR zones were referred to as lakes, but were more like deserts. They were void of content outside of keeps and zerg RvR. The warcamps were too close together and there was no point to venture out alone. RvR zones should have been like every other zone in the game, but with the addition of keeps and battlefield objectives. Maybe we will see some of this out of the Tomb Kings patch.

3. City sieges needed to last longer and have a bigger impact. Instead they were short, laggy messes that benefited everyone equally. Honestly, players wanted their city to be taken so they could farm the defender Public Quests for fat loot. That is an absolute failure of Mythic's design.

That really sums up my problems with WAR. Three strikes and you're out and all that jazz.

Actually, the only item off my "list" to get fixed was scenario grinding.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How To Install Google Calendar Sync on XP 64

Since I'm knee deep in a project between my company and Google, I've started using Google Calendar Sync at work to sync my Outlook Calendar to my Google Calendar. It's turned out to be a neat little tool and I've been meaning to install at home. However, I use Windows XP Pro 64-bit edition at home and Google Calendar Sync does not support it. Fortunately, with a simple little "hack", I've got it up and running just fine.

Get the Google Calendar Sync installer.

1. Right-click on the installer file and select Properties.
2. Next, select the Compatibility tab.
3. Turn on "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" and select
Windows XP from the drop down box.
4. Click OK.
5. This will run GoogleCalendarSync_Installer.exe in compatibility mode for XP 32-bit, allowing the program to run on an XP 64 system. There are no issues that I have found running it this way.

Now, this trick works surprisingly well for a lot of software that does not support XP 64. Give it a try and let me know if there are any questions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Everytime I think about maybe (just maybe) going back to enjoy some EVE Online, I read something like this:
In another demonstration of developer misconduct CCP renamed Kenzoku to Band of Brothers Reloaded. This has never been done for an alliance, character, or corporation, ever.
CCP has designed a great virtual world, but hell is going to freeze over before they get control of their own personnel and the players they insist on helping out of the deep end of the pool.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review: Ideazon Merc Stealth

Ideazon Merc Stealth Illuminated Gaming KeyboardI have, for the most part, avoided PC gaming gear. Outside of a good Logitech gaming mouse, I have stuck to using standard issue PC peripherals for my PC gaming needs. A regular keyboard has always been the end-all, be-all of PC gaming controllers.

However, for some reason, I decided to break tradition and cash in my holiday stash of gift certificates and purchase a “gamers keyboard”. I honestly thought I may be missing something with all this eye-candy PC gamer gear floating around out there. It was my turn to get the “edge” that all these gadgets claimed to give.

My first inclination was to get a gaming pad, such as the Nostromo n52 Speedpad, but after some searching and shelf surfing at my local Best Buy, I settled on the Ideazon MERC Stealth keyboard. The reasoning goes: for the same price as a side-pad type controller, I could get a full keyboard that INCLUDED a side-pad.

There are two nice things I can say about the MERC Stealth.

1. It sure is pretty.
2. The management software is user friendly.

Unfortunately, that is about all I could find for positives. Negativity, as they say, is my thing.

The first glaring problem is the layout of the QWERTY keyboard. Unlike most gaming keyboards, which maintain standard QWERTY key placements, the MERC Stealth moves critical keys around and plays complete havoc with the number pad. I found myself completely lost on the keyboard, feeling like the kid in typing class that is always getting yelled at for looking down.

Secondly, the side-pad is poorly designed. The keys are oddly shaped, poorly placed, and the pad itself is uncomfortably rotated to the side. I gave up after an hour of struggling to find a comfortable position to keep my arm in while keeping the keyboard level with me. I eventually just turned the damn keyboard and straightened out the angle on the pad.

The key placement and design on the side-pad is fundamentally flawed. The movement keys are HUGE. The function keys are tiny and all jammed together. I honestly wondered if any of the function keys were meant to be pressed at the same time as I was using the movement keys. I never found a reasonable way to utilize any of the other keys while using the HUGE movement keys. At that point, the side-pad becomes worthless.

The death knell of the MERC Stealth comes down to the combination of the altered keyboard combined with a horrible side-pad. Sure, with time, I could retrain my fingers to the MERC, but it would be a never-ending battle between my work setup and my gaming setup. The truth of the matter is that computers are a part of most PC gamers day jobs, and moving any standard keys on a keyboard is an easy way to make it feel too awkward for use.

I only spent about 30 hours gaming with the MERC stealth, so maybe it’s a muscle memory thing or maybe I just needed more time. Regardless, I returned the MERC Stealth, because at the end of the day my fingers were horribly confused.

Next up: the Nostromo n52TE Speedpad.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bob's Red Ball

From Broken Toys we meet Rights, Profit, and Drama:
Rights: Well, of course. He’s stating the obvious. Does your landlord in the real world, even though he owns your house and the land it’s on, have any right whatsoever to read your mail and pop in unexpectedly when you have a date? Why should virtual landlords have more rights than realspace landlords?

Profit: I can’t believe we’re even having this discussion. If I’m going to be threatened with lawsuits because of constitutional rights you have to my server, I’d have to be retarded to ever open my company up to such liability by making a server. These are entertainment products, and we are being paid to create a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone. There is no such thing as virtual civil rights, only EULAs. And if you somehow get the courts to disagree, we’ll take our balls and go make console games.

I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I WAS RIGHT I KNEW IT the company needs to give me my account back now.
Read on through that link for the full article. Read below for my thoughts.

I have always had a simple idea of ownership. If Bob paid for the red ball, is holding the red ball, and decides to give it to you to play a game of kick ball (for free or for a rental charge), Bob still owns the ball.

Virtual space is still real. It exists on a hard drive somewhere. Thou who controls the physical media, owns the virtual goodies within. End of story.

MMO gamers don’t own the physical media and should not have rights to it. MMO gamers pay to access a service. BOB OWNS THE FUCKING BALL!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Playing Free is the Way to Be

Part of my move towards value-based gaming includes keeping a keen eye on the Open Beta market. Open Betas are often a chance to play a full-featured game for free, and sometimes they can last quite a while.

The Chronicles of Spellborn, an MMO long in production, has finally hit Open Beta.
To gain access to the Open Beta simply download the game here and login with your Acclaim User ID and password. If you don't have an Acclaim User ID you can register for free by clicking here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


That is my house number in Runes of Magic. I am playing on the Grimdal PvP server as Column the Rogue, which I'm planning to Dual Class with Knight. Level 8 and mooooving!

Update: 8 June, 2009 - I am no longer playing on Grimdal. I am debating which PvE server to play on. Runes of Magic PvP servers suck and require massive cash investment to compete.

WAR, What Is It Good 4?

Absolutely nothing.

My WAR account will go inactive after this weekend. It was fun while it lasted, but there are too many fundamental game designs that I will never agree with and refuse to pay for.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Runes of Magic: Linux, Launch, and U

In keeping my ear to the ground listening for great values in the gaming market, I keep coming accross Runes of Magic, a free to play, but supported by micro-transactions MMO. I normally disdain micro-transactions, but I can live with them when the game is being given away for free.

Anyways, I figured I'd take the time to throw up some info I've come across while researching RoM. First, it is launching on March 19th.
So here's the plan: Tomorrow on Wednesday, 18 March 2009, at 2am PST / 11:00h CET we will take down almost everything.
The Runes of Magic game servers, the official website and the official forums.

Only the patch-server stays online. We want everyone to be able to keep their clients updated so that when we go live on Thursday not everyone tries to download the patch at the same time. Be aware: if everything goes to plan, it might take a while to get through. Good news: there is no need to download a new version of the client!

While the servers are down - as a little incentive for new and old players - you can top-up your Diamond account.
We offer a 30% discount on Diamonds during the game's downtime.

During the downtime we go through the forums, tiding up a bit - doing our equivalent of spring cleaning - and uncluttering that unwieldy forum structure.

So that's what we have to dom but what about you? You don't really think we'll just let you go on playing like this, do you?

Well, actually we don't let you. You have to wait.

And when the servers come back up on Thursday, 19 March 2009 at exactly 1am PST / 10:00h CET you do have to redistribute all you TP again, because there's a big TP reset for everyone.
Secondly, for the Linux gamers out there, it looks like RoM runs smoothly through WINE.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bounty Hunters, Concerns

Bioware has released another video documentary for Star Wars: The Old Republic and in it, they announce the Bounty Hunter as a player class. My Boba Fett action figures are jumping for joy.

However, I have to voice my concern for the underlying gameplay that Bioware chooses to show in these videos. The concept art is great, the developer commentary is spot on, but the actual gameplay looks dated and depressing. The animations and combat looked average at best.

Every new video from Bioware seems to feature fewer seconds of actual gameplay and more "how great this game will be" propaganda. It makes me wonder what Bioware is hiding.

Hopefully this is all overblown huffing and puffing on my part over some alpha (or earlier) footage of the game, but there is this little jaded gamer inside of me that doesn't buy that excuse.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Unreal Tournament III Free Weekend Play

My Internet has been down all day thanks to my ISP trying to block my wireless router's MAC address, otherwise I would have posted this sooner. Unreal Tournament III can be played for FREE this weekend via Steam. Plus it's on sale for %40 off (making it just $11.99).
Load up Steam to play Unreal Tournament III, and the recently released Titan Bonus Pack, for free, until 1PM PST, March 15th.
One more reason to love Steam. One more reason I am loving my shift to FREE (aka the best value in town) gaming.

And for anyone getting started this weekend, READ THIS FIRST!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

He Loved Cheez Its

Our pet rabbit has passed away.

Let it be known that he loved his Cheez Its.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Corollary to That

“The corollary to that is if you’ve seen a game consolidate servers, you know it’s in deep, deep trouble — that’s not a healthy sign for an MMO,” he said, citing Sony’s January-released “Pirates of the Burning Sea” as a recent example. “It will be the same for ‘Warhammer.’ Look at us six months out. Look at us six weeks out. If we’re not adding servers, we’re not doing well.”
- Mark Jacobs 8/29/08
Fast forward to today:
On Tuesday, March 10, we will be performing a final transfer of characters from several of the servers that have been, in the past, a source server (ie. we have offered transfers off of). Please read on for all the details, including a list of affected servers.
Failures do not become more epic than this. As Obama's presidential run was a lesson for all future presidential candidates, so will Mark Jacob's pre-launch WAR propaganda be for all future MMO developers.

Sadly, Mark is going to find out the hard way how right his original statement was.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

No Such Thing as a Free Puppy: FREEEEEEDOM!!!

Ever heard that there is no such thing as a free puppy (NSTaaFP)? Sure, the puppy is free, but the food is not, veterinarian bills don't pay themselves, and that poop in the back yard isn't going to clean itself up. Nothing is ever free; there is always a price to pay.

With my real life churning at an incredible rate (baby on the way, new job, new rank in the military reserves, and a less than stellar economy), I am having to adjust my gaming habits. Gone are the days of shelling $30+ monthly for multiple MMO accounts and having dozens of hours to play weekly. Arrived are the days of 30 minute gaming sessions and better-things-to-spend-my-money-on-than-games.

Fear not, for I will NEVER give up online gaming. What I am giving up are overpriced, bloated, and value-depressed gaming habits. An MMO subscription may be a bargain, but that same $0.50 per hour of gameplay is a lot more valuable put into chewing gum most of the time. Plus, in the long run, a good non-subscription game is going to prove far more value-profitable for my time spent.

That is not to say that a good subscription-based MMO isn't worth the money, but the B-rate subscription MMOs with half-ass launches and lackluster gameplay are now off the table for me. I can get the same crappy gameplay from free games that force no commitment upon me. Hell, I may even warm up to the idea of micro-transaction games.

Also, this probably means any game costing $50+ better be damn good if it wants my money (and they better not require hardware upgrades). When I can buy games like Team Fortress 2 for $20 ($10 when its on sale!), game developers will never again convince me to spend $50 for a game if there is any chance the game will falter. However, I hold the right to waffle on that statement as I am susceptible to hype (bad Heartless_, bad).

I am damn well sure that I am not upgrading my hardware for any game. The beauty of most free to play games is that they shoot for wide audiences and run on practically anything. Fortunately, some "real game developers" are getting the clue. For example: Valve does a great job with their Half Life engines, which run well on most up to date PCs. Epic Games does not with their Unreal engines, and some four year old games are still impossible to run on your average gaming PC today.

Here is my short list of Free to Play games I am going to hit up:

1. Quake Live
2. Maple Story
3. Battlefield Heroes

Any more suggestions? Hit up the comments.

Mythic, are city sieges supposed to be fun?

I had the chance to participate in a couple city sieges over the last few days in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning on the Badlands server. Destruction has been rampaging through the streets of Altdorf, Order's capital city, for two nights straight now. And, unfortunately this is true for what seems to be the majority of servers. Poor Order bastards, red-headed step faction of WAR.

My main question for Mythic: are these sieges supposed to be fun? Because, for me at least, they are about as much fun as pulling my finger nails out with pliers.

1. There are way too many people per instance. Lag, bullshit area-of-effect dominantion, and a don't-do-anything-but-follow-the-zerg-or-die mentality all add up to a giant pile of garbage.

2. There is no sensible direction to take within the siege. Sure, there are "objectives", but can players reasonably expect to complete objectives with 75 zergling wonders barreling down on them anytime they get a pop up telling them a control point flipped?

3. To reiterate part of point numero uno, CLASS BALANCE FUCKING SUCKS BETWEEN ORDER AND DESTRUCTION. Mythic, give Order the same I WIN AOE disables and disorients, or remove them from the game.

I'm stopping here. I could go on, but I won't. WAR is a joke and I almost thought I was beginning to like it.

PS. Order Badlands - Kick Destruction's ass! Its obvious why the majority of big-time guilds chose Destruction (EZ mode).