Tag Archive: Gaming


#OCCUPYMULTIPLAYERSHOOTERS

Yay protest time!Wake up sheeple of the gaming community! Your very online gaming freedoms are under attack even as I type this blog post. It’s time to #OccupyMultiplayerShooters!

There was a period, long ago, in gaming history where online shooters were about skill and knowing the map. Everything was fair and balanced. No player started out with any advantages over his or her opponents. We had an equal distribution of fun.

Things have changed thanks to the new breed of online shooters in the vein of Battlefield and Call of Duty. These two franchises have changed the gaming landscape to the point that the top 1% of online players now control over 50% of the weapons and upgrades at the start of every match.

Maps are no longer flush with weapons and powerups for anyone to take. Instead, players are incentivised to spend hours on end leveling up so they may gain access to equipment inaccessible to new players. This gives an unfair advantage to players born with more time to spend on the game.

Instead of fair and balanced gameplay, EA and Activision have subsidized these top players to the point that they are nigh untouchable unless one is willing to grind through the maps as cannon fodder for the top 1%. As if starting with superior equipment wasn’t enough, the 1% have an easier time of racking up killstreaks, providing them with even more tools of destruction to reign down on the 99%. In a game that is supposed to be about true competition, it seems that the 99% don’t stand a chance against their subsidized overlords.

Why all these subsidies? Shouldn’t a player’s value be intrinsically defined by his or her own skill?

It’s time to end this madness and turn back to our roots. We need to rise up and #OccupyMultiplayerShooters until our demands are met with a return to the days of fair and balanced gameplay!

Why I Love PC Gaming

pc gamingI am a huge fan of PC Gamer magazine and regularly listen to their podcast. Every week they get down into the nerdy abyss of PC gaming. On the most recent episode, they discussed why they love the PC as a gaming platform and encouraged us to share our own love of it.

Growing up, my parents never bought me a video game console out of fear that it would consume my life. I believe it had something to do with the fact that I turned into Gollum whenever in the presence of a console, so I can’t really fault them for being my own, personal Bilbo Baggins. However, when we got our first computer (a Packard-Bell with Pentium 133 mhz, Win95, 16mb RAM, and 1GB hard drive), I discovered a wonderful loophole in my parents’ console moratorium: computer games didn’t count as real video games.

From that point forward, I was a dedicated PC gamer. While my friends were playing classics like Super Mario 64, FFVII, and Twisted Metal; I was discovering Total Annhilation, Descent, and Heroes of Might & Magic II. Once able to taste the greatness and variety of PC gaming, I never looked back. 

Through my formative gaming years, the main reason I have come to love PC gaming is freedom. The PC is an open platform that welcomes innovation from gamers, software developers, and hardware engineers alike. Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to the worldwide PC gaming community.

Niche groups of PC gamers keep growing the platform through LAN parties and online communities. Only on the PC will you find dedicated gamers that will invest hours of their lives just to keep games alive and thriving. In fact, games like Descent and Mech Warrior are more than a decade old but still have active communities. Why do gamers ban together like this? Because they can. Freedom is the right of all sentient gamers and the PC knows this.

From the business side of the equation, many different companies are fervently engineering more ways to enjoy PC games and push the experience to new limits. The end result is a cornucopia of hardware configurations coupled with every game genre under the sun. We, the gamers, always win in this scenario. You want to run three 40-inch LCDs with 3D enabled on Crysis 2? You got it, but only with PC gaming.

Freedom and choice go hand-in-hand. PC gaming offers the freedom to choose what you play, how you play it, and how you take it to the next level in the community. Some may say that the PC has too much freedom, too many choices. Well, to these short-sighted naysayers, I say, “NO”. As one of the forefathers of PC gaming once said: Give me liberty, or give me death! 

We need freedom to experience games the way we want to, not the way some corporate shill had decided for us! We need freedom to play late into the night with reckless abandon, uncaring about the light of morning! We need freedom to continue the gaming traditions of our forebearers! We need PC Gaming!

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MLG + Blizzard Fail

Major League Gaming Only a few short years ago, video games were seen as toys adolescents wasted thier summers on, but as an entire generation has grown up, so have their video game tastes. Now, gaming is ready for prime-time and has warranted the creation of Major League Gaming to represent the popularity of the professional gaming circuit here in the States.

I gathered a group of my friends and fellow StarCraft II fans and we attended the MLG season opening in Dallas this past weekend. We headed out expecting to see a full-throttle, professional StarCraft experience, but instead ran into a poorly organized event that left us all wishing the MLG and Activision-Blizzard took professional gaming more seriously.

When we arrived on Friday, everything ran as smoothly as expected. We saw some intense SCII action as the pros battled it out against each other to determine seating order in the tournament brackets. The commentators, DJ Wheat and Day9 were in rare form as they both entertained and brought excitement to the matches on the main stage.

We got up on Saturday talking over breakfast about the matches from the previous night and how we were going to attempt to emulate the strategies we saw into our own games. We whipped ourselves up into a mad whirlwind of pure StarCraft hype and could not wait to return. After spending lunch playing arcade games at Dave and Busters, we headed back to the Dallas Convention Center with just enough time to nab some good seating for the main stage.

At 5pm, when the professional tournament was scheduled to resume nothing happend. After 6pm rolled around with absolutely no word about what was going on, we were left to wonder and speculate with the other fans as to the problem. We contained ourselves for a few more hours as the commentators livecasted some replays until when at around 9pm, they finally brought up a live match on the main stage. We were pretty ravenous for some StarCraft II at this point and instantly forgave the MLG for leaving us out to dry for so long.

The players began their match only to be stopped a few minutes in due to lag. They tried to resume, but the lag still persisted, so they were forced to cancel the game on the main stage and move it to one of the other stations. We were outraged. It was only the second day of the tournament, we had been forced to wait for several agonizing hours, and there was still absolutely no communication from the MLG as to what was going on. Rumors circulated about how the ISP they were using was having problems, but no official word ever came out.

Activision-BlizzardThe real problem here is that StarCraft II has no LAN support. You are forced to keep an open internet connection so that the game can ping Battle.net every so often and if you should lose internet connectivity, the game will either lag or pause completely depending on how long you lose it. So, even though you own the game, Activision-Blizzard will not let you play it if you can’t constantly ask them for permission.

We had waited all of Saturday for the real tournament to begin only to be subjected to the technical difficulties of the MLG unable to comply with Activision-Blizzard’s absurd Battle.net policy. And this was not the first time. Last year, the championship match also experienced the very same problems. You would think the MLG capable of taking itself seriously enough to have these types of problems worked out, but apparently not.

What promised to be a fun weekend excursion devolved into waiting for nothing. After spending a decent chunk of money on gas and hotel rooms getting to Dallas, this was unacceptable so we went to politely ask for a refund. All the MLG said to us was ‘sorry about that’ before they refused to refund us our ticket prices.

Lets trace the chain of events here, shall we?

Someone at Activision-Blizzard says, “Hey, we need to have complete oversight whenever someone plays StarCraft II. I know! Let’s forget taking the 15 minutes to create a LAN mode and make everyone connect to Battle.net! Plus, they will love having to connect to yet another social network!”

Then someone at MLG says, “We need to have StarCraft II at our events. We will need to have constant internet connection, so we will just trust our ISP and local network infrastructure to handle itself without really testing anything.”

Then when the event comes up and the MLG network traffic gets slammed so hard that SCII games start lagging, the MLG guy says, “It’s not our fault! It’s the ISP! Besides, its only a video game. No harm, no foul, right?”

I realize that there are a lot of factors here that stopped the MLG from broadcasting a game from the main stage, but seriously, they need to take their pro circuit more seriously. Video games are not just toys anymore. They require a tremendous level of skill that many of us will pay to watch those who have mastered it.

As it stands, the MLG and Activision-Blizzard need to work together to resolve these issues with StarCraft II. Both of their reputations will be hurt if they continue to let these kinds of failures circulate around. I know that I will not be going back to a live MLG event and if you were considering going, be aware that they may not treat you with the seriousness you deserve.

We are gamers and our professional events deserve all the attention and care other sporting events get!

 

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Here at the MLG

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Finally decided to nerd up my weekend by spending  it  in Dallas watching some pro Starcraft II tournament play. The Dallas Convention Center is full of the nerdiest crowd you will face outside Comic Con. Players are lining up to slaughter each other in a bid to determine who is the alienate digital commander.

Unfortunately my favorite race, the Protoss, are not faring too Well among the pros right now. Here’s hoping Sockeh can dominate later on!

Space Marine“I got your Zerg right here!”

Famous last words for a Space Marine. From that point on we were berated as some of the most lazy and incompetent soldiers in the galaxy. Millions of commanders sent us into battle as little more than cannon fodder for some crazy meat grinder campaign. We fight bravely and tenaciously to the death, but never fully receive the respect we deserve.

My name is Sergeant Duncan and I am one of the many Space Marines employed throughout the galaxy. I am here to set the record straight and earn your respect. As you can tell from my rank, I have survived many battles while seeing all my comrades fall by my side due to no fault of our own.

In short, we are driven to our stupidity from all the pressure we must endure. This is why it sucks to be a Space Marine:


Horrendous Engineering:

We are set up for failure from the very first time we put on our armor. We are told it is some of the most advanced technology the human race has ever seen, yet the ‘safety’ features that come standard are more like ‘quick death’ features.

I understand that you don’t really trust prisoners, but is that a good enough reason to install safety triggers on our weapons?

You see, as soon as we move, our weapons lock up and will not fire until we are completely stationary again. And I do mean completely stationary. ‘Rolling stops’ keep the weapon locked. They tell us this is to cut down on the ‘moving fire’ hazard and improve our accuracy, but really, it is just a way to ensure that our commanders have complete control over us.

Big Brother wants to micromanage us into our grave. You have no idea what it is like to come into a field of Zerg knowing you must remain completely still to kill them. It is a wall of death that you should easily be able to back away from while laying down suppressing fire, but can’t. And God help you if they try to flank.

The sad part is that our suits are excellent firing platforms. The internal gyros keep you nice and level when moving, so if they would just take these stupid ‘safety’ triggers off, everything would be fine. We would have pinpoint accuracy while on the move.

But what do I know? I am just an expendable resource.


Beaurocratic Unions:

As if our equipment wasn’t bad enough, we also have to deal with the blasted unions. Each unit type in our army has its own crazy union with its own insane rules. None of them work together, and they only work directly with the army commander.

Work permits control everything. You even have to obtain one to clean your weapon. You would think this only applies to non-combat situations, but you would be wrong. In battle, things get maddeningly stupid.

On the battlefield, you must obtain a fire permit to shoot at an enemy. The only exception is if you are being attacked, then you are free to defend yourself (something about media coverage and interference inspired this). Permits are transmitted digitally to our suits, but it is still a needless step in the heat of battle. Usually it is not the request time that takes so long, it is the response time.

Try to imagine standing watch on a platform while some of the rest of your company gets shot at down on the ground. You wish you could just help them out, but no you have to wait while you submit a permit request to your union lead, who then submits it to the army commander. Sometimes the army commander won’t even notice it and forces you to stand helplessly by as your fellow marines die off.

And don’t even get me started on the Fire Bat and Diamondback unions. They only work for Jim whats-his-face. I have never seen them deployed with any other commander.


Silly Deployments:

Common sense dictates that if you wish to take over a planet, you drop all your man power on the surface immediately. Well, apparently we can’t do that due to our incredibly inept engineers and the union they work for. They demand that we start out with a single command center and only call down the particular troops we need for our current situation. Plus, you have to build the construction facilities right there on the battlefield and employ the engineer union’s approved workers to even begin producing military hardware.

I mean, we can fly our huge space battlecrusiers a planet’s atmosphere, but we have to build them on the battlefied first? What is wrong with this picture? Everything. Enough said.

The only reason we have survived this long as a race is the fact that all of our enemies appear to be doing the same thing as well. I don’t know who decided this was how war should be waged, but it wasn’t a military commander. At least we are all on equal footing.

So, the next time you want to scream at us for our incompetence. Remember that we are people too and have a much worse job than you will ever know.

Last Weekend, after a few weeks on RTS hiatus, I fired up Supreme Commander 2 and went online to assert my dominance. I got demolished in a ranked 1v1 game, so I pushed through my shame and joined a 4 player FFA game. FFA is my absolute favorite way to play RTS online. You never know what to expect or who is going to win. It forces you to constantly think on your feet. I knew this game was going to be extra exiting as I was Cybran and the other three players were UEF (Blue, Purple, and Green).

I started off in the lower right-hand corner, focused on land assault and started applying pressure to Blue, on my left. Unfortunately for him, not only was I hammering him, but so was Purple from the north. It wasn’t too long until he was wiped out, which left me the opportunity to take out purple myself.

Purple had started building a new base in the middle of the map, so that was were I sent my massive land army. Stuff started blowing up as I nearly decimated his new base. He was well defended and was able to neutralize my army, so I pulled back into my base to regroup. That was when I noticed Green begin to stack up a huge army along my northern border.

Green had apparently grown unchecked as I and Purple had been too focused on each other. He began marching down with his army. Frak! Frak! Frak! He had three King Kryptors escorted by countless land assault bots. I had a couple of megaliths, but I knew I was doomed.

I almost considered attacking with my ACU and going down in a blaze of glory. Instead, I chose to flee and try to stay alive as long as possible. Flight won out over Fight this time. I pumped as many research points into the ACU category as I could. As I was chased by his overwhelming army, I ran into purple. With nowhere else to go, I was pinned between these two players with big armies. What could I do?

Lady luck smiled on me as the other Purple’s ACU happened to be in the same vicinity as me, so I poured as much firepower into him as I could while dancing around to avoid his return artillery fire. Both of our health bars receded to dangerous levels as we slugged it out at point blank range. My ACU’s tactical missiles saved the day and I took him out in a blinding explosion of awesomeness.

The resulting nuclear blast, red-lined my health, but also took out most of the Green’s pursuing army. I had taken out Purple who had overwhelming firepower all by myself. Holy frak was it awesome. Green’s King Kryptors eventually caught up to me and I lost, but I ended up coming in second place because I refused to give up. Take that as a life lesson.

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