Thursday, December 31, 2009

What to do... what to do...

I’m currently playing Dragon Age Origins for the PC. After that there are no games I’m looking forward to for a few months; the next thing I’m planning on playing is the upcoming Borderlands downloadable content.

With a foreseeable 2-3 month lull in my gaming schedule I’m trying to consider my options. I’ve wanted to go back to WoW to check out the new patch, but I still don’t like how the game works over all. The amount of gear elitism that encompasses WoW is a huge turn off for me. I have considered going back to Warhammer Online. If the game has improved on its performance I could squeeze atleast a month out of that game. WoW or WAR are nice choices because they don’t require me buying another game.

Then there is EverQuest 2. I have wanted to go back to that game a lot over the past 9 months. I would more than likely just buy another copy since I lost mine. I love the lore in EQ2 but I honestly don’t know enough about the game to really way the pros and cons. Lord of the Rings Online suffers the same issues, I know very little about the game and would have to buy a copy. I don’t see myself playing either of them through more than half the levels so it just seems a turn off.

Then there is Mortal Online. I’ve had access to the Beta for four months or so? Maybe longer, since the 2nd phase of beta invites. I’ve only logged on a few times and the game looks fairly promising. This is probably my first choice since it’s free and I just need to download the content.

Then there are the things outside of the internet I should be doing. Not having a video game drawing me to my office every night would encourage me to fix up the last few things around our house. I could finally finish putting my ATV back together and getting it ready for this next year, but my race series doesn’t start for another 4 months. Then there is also my Warhammer 40K Orc army that is still unpainted or my Guitar.

Yes I’m a man with a lot of hobbies. I attempt to do all of this while working full time, being in the Army reserves, being married and raising two kids… oh and I’m suppose to start college again in the spring.

Maybe not having a game for a few months is a good idea though that would make this blog rather boring. Anyway I cut it there is some time to think on it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

X-Play is a glorified Infomercial

I don’t like X-Play on G4. I know that may seem sacrilegious considering I’m a gamer but the show is as biases as any of the opinion news shows on any of the major channels. Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb pander to what is already popular rather than intelligently critiquing video games.

If the game isn’t launched on the X-Box 360 then it is lucky to get any air time at all. It almost seems that X-Play has a side deal with Microsoft to talk their system up and degrade the Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. I understand the X-Box is a very popular system, however the sort of blind praise Adam Sessler heaps on it makes me think he completely missed the 4 years of Red Rings.

Last night during their “worst of 2009” show they made an offhand comment about how the Wii was only popular in 2006 by grandmas. The comment felt rather closed minded. I will admit that the Wii lacks quality 3rd party support but it is a very entertaining gaming system. It seems that X-Play has forgotten that these gaming systems need to be fun and that can be had without the excessive violence some of the other games use to cover up their lack of quality.

I know most media shows that review anything are always a little biased but it would be nice if the primary source of televised video game reviews tried to be supportive of the entire genre and not just the select few they prefer.

Everyone has different taste. You however gave up your right to judge a game based solely on your preference when you choose to be a critic, at least if you want to keep any sign of creditability. Siskel and Ebert are legends not because they only gave thumbs up to what they liked, they looked past their own prejudices and saw the true quality with in the movie.

Until more critics can do this we will be forced to watch commercials in the disguise of legitimate critic shows.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Popularity isn't everything

Popularity doesn’t always mean quality. Many things have gone “viral” over the past decade that are widely considered to be lacking quality. The easiest example I can think of is McDonalds. McDonalds is by far the most popular fast food restaurant around the world and at the same time offers an extremely low quality of food that is extremely unhealthy. Some things are simply popular because of marketing rather than substance.

Ten years ago, heck even five years ago, if a few friends spoke highly of a video game it meant something. If the game got good reviews it was considered creditable and if it broke any sales record for that time is was a sure bet the game had quality. That kind of assurance doesn’t exist anymore in the video gaming community.

The world is capitalist, sure the USA’s economy is the most capitalist in the world but everyone wants to make money. When one person, company, or developer see’s that a specific market can be profitable they enter it. The goal is to make a profit and dominate the market early or duplicate what is already a success. This is where the pitfalls begin.

Video games didn’t become popular because of mass market targeting or advertising. Video games thrived because developers were making games they wanted to play. When you create something with love and passion it shows through. I think a lot of the newer video games are starting to lack this… more to the point they are devoid of it.

A few of the larger publishing companies saw what kind of profit potential was in video games. Rather than fostering the current design philosophy they created a new one, build something that sells. A game developer can’t create a good game if they have no interest in the genre. They are out of touch with their customers and the game will show it.

Video games are going the same way the movie industry went. Big budget special effects will get a shocking opening weekend take but lack the long haul that makes it a true classic. As long as these companies can launch a game with a bang before its shortcomings shot through then they will continue to make a profit. Look at Titanic for example. It is one of the most viewed movies of all time and is also considered one of the 100 worst movies of all time.

Clearly popularity isn’t everything.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

Have a good weekend. Spend time with family or if you lack family spend it playing video games. Just have fun.

See you all on Monday!

(By all I mean me)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Forum users annoy me

Online Forums… almost everyone uses them. If you play video games you probably use them more than most people. Over the last 6 years online forums have risen as the primary source for sharing information or building communities. Some of the unlikeliest of industries are adopting them as common place.

I have been on one forum or another since 1995, so about 14 years. My first experience of internet forums was on a school district computer doing a pilot program from my Junior High School. I saw a lot of pornography at an early age because of this, but that isn’t the point.

Posting on forums isn’t as simple as writing something then hitting the submit button. A lot of people who are new to internet conversations don’t realize the effect words can have without voice tone or facial expressions. Sarcasm is easy to read when you hear the inflection’s in someone’s voice but when you are only reading text, it is nearly impossible to catch. I’ve tried to explain to newer internet users that a smiley face or a simple lol can help ease a comment and let other readers know you are joking. Furthermore the reader’s personal emotional place will lend a lot to how they interpret your post. If they are having a bad day, expect them to take it personally for instance.

The internet does not adhere to America’s 2nd Amendment right to the Freedom of Speech. Nearly everything on the internet is owned by one person or another, it didn’t just happen by its self. What most people fail to realize is that you do not have the right to say whatever you want on a media provided by a company or person. You are subject to their rules. The United States of America gives you the right to speak your mind, in a public forum. That is meant to be a public place. Internet forums are privately owned and maintained.

People have a sick sense of entitlement when it comes to things on the internet. They feel as though they should have an equal right to everything. Every website, internet provider and web browser is out to make a profit. They do what they do in the hopes of making money and paying the bills.

It’s amazing how much better the internet would be if people stopped and considered how other may take what they type.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 isn't that great...

I’m going to go against the grain here with Modern Warfare 2 here. I like the game but at the same time I hate how the game was implemented. I’ve only played the single player campaign a little and don’t really have much more to say about that than I already did. My issue is the horrible implantation and balance in Multiplayer which is supposed to be the bread and butter of MW2.

Levels matter too much. Maybe I’m still behind the times when it comes to First Person Shooters but the weapons you get from being a higher level seem far to over powered. I had been complaining about dying to the duel wielded double barrel shotguns for two days until I finally found one on the ground to use, I’m too low of a level to spawn with them. They were as over powered as I thought when dying to them. I didn’t even have to aim my cross hairs at the target. If someone is on my screen and I pull the trigger they die, it’s that easy. Someone who is level 40 or higher will always have a HUGE advantage against lower level players. Sure I agree levels are not a bad idea, however the way Infinity Ward did the bonuses seems unfair. I thought, prior to playing, that it would just give me more choices of weapons and variety… not just huge damage weapons. It just seems poorly balanced.

My other huge complaint is the hackers. I ended up leaving 2 games because of speed hackers. They would run so fast that more often than not you didn’t realize you were dead until you saw the instant replay. They would sprint in and stab you with a knife and then sprint away. It made the game unbearable. If the games were being hosted on dedicated servers with anti-cheating/hacking software I think it would reduce the amount of this. I’ve also seen other players call people out for aim bots, though I just mark that up to me sucking.

The method you connect to multiplayer games leaves a lot to be desired. This new IWNet was suppose to be huge advances in player hosted games however it is far from even good. The amount of setting changes one has to make on their router astonished me. Anyone who isn’t well versed in computers would simply be unable to change their NAT settings and connect to multiplayer games. It is a horrible design with very little online support for it. It took me 2 hours of google searches to find the CORRECT ports to open up for NAT to work and that was still a guess at the end because everything was XBox 360 related.

All in all Modern Warfare 2 is a good game with a lot of bad features. Some of the higher level weapons need to be toned down and we need some method for detecting and preventing hacks and cheats. If it continues like this I won’t be logging on anymore.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The problem with MMO Developers

I think most Massively Multiplayer Game developers have lost their way over the last 4 years. Ever since the success of World of Warcraft other developers have focused on WoW and EverQuest as the primary source of inspiration for game mechanics. What developers don’t seem to remember is that WoW and EQ drew their inspiration from other genre’s because a MMO genre didn’t exist at the time.

Game developers are focusing on taking what was good in another MMO rather than trying to invent something new. I think it’s fairly closed minded to blame the lack of innovation on Blizzard though. You can’t blame them for making a game so popular everyone wants to mimic it. What developers need to realize is that Blizzard never set out or expected to be this game developer. When they created World of Warcraft the ideal market was 200,000 subscribers.

If a game developer would step outside the box and try creating their own content based on innovative ideas rather than copy and pasting from Blizzard we would see another strong success in the market place. Game developers fear failure though. They aren’t creating the game they want to play anymore, they are creating a game they think they can sell. Developers use to design games based on how they wanted a game to play and to this day you see that with WoW. The game gets updates and changes based on what the development team wants to play. Other games need to take a note from this.

The sad thing about MMOs is I think that no one is willing to be different. Sure a few small companies have tried with games like Darkfall and Mortal Online, but no one with a large budget. Until a large developer is willing to step up back a development team who makes a game they want to play rather than what the accountants think will sell WoW will remain on top.

The sad thing is I don’t think anyone is going to do this until Blizzard does this. I have a feeling Blizzard is the only developer willing to make another game they want to play. They don’t have to worry about “cloning” WoW because they ARE WoW. A lot of people say it’s harder to be on top because you have nowhere to go but down, but in this case I think it’s the best place. Blizzard doesn’t want to dethrone the king; they just want to create another Kingdom. No matter how small or big it is as long as they don’t steal their own customers they will continue to make a profit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I don't want to be in your Beta anymore

I don’t want to beta games anymore. To me Beta testing games has always been about more than just getting a game early. I honestly took pride in what I was doing and tried to test the game rather than simply play it.

I’ve beta tested more games than I can count anymore. I was in Diablo 2 closed beta and got my name in the credits to nearly every MMO in the past 5 years and quite a few before that. The problem with a Beta test is you use up the Honeymoon game phase before the game is ever released. Some beta’s can last weeks to months and every day a beta goes on is potentially one less day I would play the game down the road. It all adds up to burn out.

I have opted out of all Beta’s since Warhammer Online, I just haven’t had the heart to play one since then. Sure I bought Mortal Online early and logged in a hand full of times during the 2nd phase of beta testing, but nothing longer than a few minutes. What I’ve come to realize since Warhammer is I like games more when I don’t beta test them. I like being ignorant of games.

I know it sounds weird and it is the opposite mentality of most gamers. However it makes the entire game more interesting to me. I got into video games because of the stories in Role Playing Games, if someone had told me the end of those games I probably wouldn’t have played much longer. It didn’t use to be about being the best, it use to be about simply playing the game.

In the words of Cypher from The Matrix “Ignorance is bliss”. Not knowing the outcome of a game makes it that much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 Airport scene… Military perspective

Yes I bought Modern Warfare 2. I haven’t played it that much but I have played past the Airport level with the Russians. I’m not entirely sure how to begin this because my opinion is still fractured on this. On one hand it does carry a very emotional and valid story throughout the level and on the other hand it was completely unnecessary.

The Airport level is by far one of the most shocking bits of video gaming I have ever played. I won’t call it more violent or gory than anything else because to be perfectly honest it wasn’t. However compared to any other game I’ve played, including the long despised Grand Theft Auto series, this was by far the most emotionally shocking. For those that don’t know the jist of the level is that you are an undercover US Army Ranger with a Russian terrorist group who enter a Russian airport and massacre unarmed civilians that are running from you.

The level does in fact help to set the tone for the rest of the game. It’s more or less the climax of the story arch where the War is concerned and it is done very well. If the civilians had been enemy soldiers, even unarmed, it wouldn’t be an issue at all. That’s what makes me think this shouldn’t be an issue. Just because the targets were rendered in different skins then the other hundred people you have already shot up until this point makes it inappropriate. I’m not so apt to jump on the inappropriate content bandwagon just because of them being civilians. The game gives you plenty of options to skip this level and if you still wish to view it you don’t have to participate in the killing of the civilians.

You play PFC Jacobson who is an undercover US Army Ranger; this is where I have my problem. Your commander asks you to enter the world undercover and commit atrocities in the mission briefing. He says you will “lose a piece of yourself” in this mission. That is my real complaint. No self respecting soldier, no matter what the situation would or SHOULD allow this to happen. Maybe I’m an idealist NCO in the US Army but I could never bring myself to do this. In fact I would demand the execution of any US Soldier who did this.

This mission is more akin to what some Soldiers did in Vietnam. The US Military has tried to project its soldiers as professional peace keepers, not violent animals. We get in trouble for wearing any emblem that glorifies death even when on missions where the objective is to eliminate enemy combatants. I just can’t bring myself to fathom what kind of soldier would do this or be okay with the representation of us doing it… even if it is only a video game.

Yes this level does have substantial significance to the overall story of Modern Warfare 2. However that could have been just as easily achieved if this group of Russian Terrorists had tried to bomb a building or attack a Military installation. It was intentionally done to illicit a response from the media and public. I don’t condemn Infinity Ward for doing this, but I fully understand the public opposition to it.

The freedom of speech and media does in fact give them the right to produce this material just as I’m free to give my opinion on it. At some point though you need to reflect on yourself and wonder if this is really what you want to publish to the public.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Modern Warfare 2

I’m considering buying Modern Warfare 2. I haven’t really been into a Call of Duty game since CoD 2 so I missed the whole Modern Warfare craze.

My original reasons for not picking up Modern Warfare 2 are fairly simple; I’m not a huge First Person Shooter fan. I love RPGs and Strategy games; that’s not to say I don’t like some FPS games I just don’t follow them closely. I didn’t know HOW popular Modern Warfare 2 was going to be or I probably would have paid it more attention. The other reason why I didn’t pick it up, and incidentally the major reason I heard about it was that it didn’t support dedicated servers. It’s not that I have some huge idealist opinion on this, it just felt like having players host the game was a step backwards in game development.

Now I’m considering getting it. Nearly my entire platoon is playing it on one system or another, be it Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or yes even PC. I’m primarily a PC gamer but even so I would be able to find a few fellow soldiers to play with. A few of my other friends I have gamed with since Starcraft came out are playing on PC as well. Another major reason I’m considering this is that my friends have commented on how “real” this game is. Coming from a military background I would love to play a game where teamwork and strategy are more important that “twitch” reactions that often dominate most FPS games. I’m not saying I don’t expect MW2 to rely on fax reflexes but I’m hoping it won’t be a cheesy frag fest.

Right now I’m not willing to pay full price for Modern Warfare 2. If it goes on sale for 20% or more over the next few weeks I will pick it up, but until then I’m going to stick with Borderlands until it has run it course.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back into the Pit!!!... maybe

So I want to play World of Warcraft again. The last week while playing other games I have considered going back to WoW. The problem is that I know it would only be a temporary move. There is a small part of me… well okay it’s a big part of me that plays MMOs for the end content. I’ve been to the top of the mountain and I can’t stay entertained at the bottom anymore.

I’ve gone over it a few times in my head, what class I would play, what server, what race even as far as to think of which trade skills to focus on. The thing that holds me back is that I know once I reach level 80 I’m going back to the gear treadmill. That treadmill wouldn’t be so bad if I knew there were options but there aren’t. Each class and spec has a best in slot item, if I don’t get that I’m not maximizing my characters potential.

Now I know there have been a lot of anti-gear posts going around the internet lately and for the most part I agree with it. The player makes the character good, not the gear. The catch for me is though if I’m going to try and play a character shouldn’t I try to maximize him in every way? If I’m going to read up on shot rotations on Elitist Jerks then shouldn’t spending time farming badges and gear be just as important?

I guess it is perhaps a stigma I must get over myself. I couldn’t bring myself to play a melee Hunter because I know I would level easier playing a Hunter normal. However could I simply choose gear based on what presented its self to me, or will I get drawn into the never ending hunt for that best in slot item?

I guess it’s part me and part WoW. When I play a MMO I want to play to my best ability, including best gear. The other part is I don’t want to be forced into a certain item hunt. I want options. I want my character to be different from all the other Hunters on my server and still be just as good.

Is that possible? To be different and equal? Probably not. More than likely I will try out WoW again after Borderlands has run its course and then a month later I will be fed up with it all over again.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not everywhere has an internet connection

On one hand I love what Steam has done with gaming. It’s more or less my one stop shop now days for a video game. I’ve bought my last 4 games through Steam directly; the last game I had a hard copy of was a gift. Xbox Live, Playstation 3, and even the Wii all have content which can be purchased only over the internet. The PSP Go is the direction I think most gaming is going to be going in the next 5 years, download only content.

My personal problem with this is that when I go back overseas, and I know I will, I will not be able to buy or play new video games. Game developers and gaming hardware developers seem to believe the entire world currently runs on the internet and while a good portion of it does, not everyone does. Even some consumers who have internet connections are faced with Bandwidth caps limiting the amount of traffic permitted over their connection. The world is not yet completely connected.

So while many bloggers, developers, and gamers may be praising the future of this form of media commerce I personally fear it. It may not mean the end of gaming while deployed for me but it certainly is a setback. I couldn’t imagine only being able to play games 4 or 5 years old because they are the only ones sold in hardcopy form.

Some of you may think I’m blowing this out of proportion but consider this, when we were deployed in 2006 we primarily played Counter Strike. We HAD to burn a copy of an older version of Counter Strike because all of the ones being sold on Gamestop REQUIRED Steam, which requires an internet connection. Counter Strike supported single player and LAN connection play but Steam was required to install the game. (It didn’t say that anywhere on the packaging or on Gamestop’s website when we bought 5 copies)

I truly feel that if the gaming industry switches to a download only form of distribution they will greatly hurt a small portion of their loyalist fans… and in some ways most deserving customers. The gaming soldier is a minority in any country and I feel often over looked.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gaming in the Military

I’ve more or less avoided the topic of Military and gaming, not sure why. Sometimes I feel since I do Communications in the Reserves I have less of a right to speak out on the needs or desires of my fellow soldiers. I have been to Iraq and back and gamed the whole time I was overseas.

I think I’m going to be doing a short series on Military Gaming though. Gaming and the Army are two things I am passionate about and I think a lot of people are considering how much soldiers in the United States Military rely on gaming as a stress relief.

If your average gamer uses video games to escape from the everyday stress of life the soldier does so and then some. For a deployed soldier a video game isn’t just relieving stress but a return to home. Playing a game you loved at home while being deployed brings a little bit of home with you. Whenever I got really depressed in Iraq I could load up Diablo 2 and as long as I was still staring at my screen I was back home, in my parents’ house safe. A familiar video game can be as useful as a phone call home or a picture of a loved one.

Any sort of game can help with stress. As a soldier I am required to take various classes on dealing with stress and identifying suicidal and homicidal signs. Intramural sports to board games can help alleviate any of these issues. While no game alone can solve these issues a game does assist in releasing stress and puts in you a situation with other people who can talk to you about your feelings.

What bothers me is that I feel most game developers are going to be overlooking this market in the near future. Deployed soldiers don’t have the internet. We can’t down load games, or patches, or verify a key code through Steam. If gaming is really moving towards soft copies of all games Soldiers are going to be left without a valued means of entertainment.

Blizzard's games over the next 3 years

This is all guessing. I do think I'm going to be close though. This is what I feel the order and rough time releases will be for Blizzard over the next 3 years.

February - Starcraft 2 Beta begins
May - Starcraft 2 Launches
October - WoW Catclysm Launches
November - StarCraft 2 Expansion

April - Starcraft 2 Expansion
June - WoW Major content patch
October - Diablo 3

March - Unannounced WoW expansion
November - New MMO

I think Starcraft 2 is pretty easy to map out. It is due the first quater of 2010 and based on everything seen it is nearly done. The public beta is really the only thing remaining. WoW wont last another year without Catclysm launching so that has to come by the end of 2010. The SC2 expansion are planned one every 6 months so that is easy aswell. Diablo 3 appears to be about 75% done and considering the void in the Holiday season of 2011 that is a perfect time to launch that.

The catch is another WoW expansion versus Blizzards new MMO. Before I really drew out a calendar I would have bet that the new MMO would release before another expansion after Catclysm... but I just don't see that happening.

Blizzard will try to avoid launching 2 games at once and with 4 titles that is going to be hard to balance. WoW wont last until the end of 2012 without another expansion. However I think the MMO market is more than ready for a new MMO.

The more I think about it the more I want to say Blizzard's new MMO will be out prior to Nov 2012 but considering Blizzard's average development time and the fact that we know NOTHING about it yet makes me think 2 1/2 years or more.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I had two posts about Borderlands ready... but I wasn't feeling them. In all honesty Borderlands is a good game. If you have 3 other friends that want to play pick it up. It will keep the 4 of you happy and entertained for a month or two.

The story is sort of weak but interesting. The voice acting is great but lacks variety. The game is very funny and all and all well done.

I recomend Borderlands but I'm honestly not so in love with it I can spend two days posting about it. It has very few things that one can complain about and given the amount of bad video games being released every week that is something to brag about.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

StarCraft 2

Last Tuesday my boss came in and asked me if I had ever played StarCraft. I was truly at a loss for words. How would I properly convey my level of experience with this game to him? StarCraft came out when I was 17. My two neighbors and I found a group of beta testers who had been floating around top 20 of the ladder rankings during the entire beta test. We played with them 4 or more hours every night upon release.

IGN hosted its first 2v2 tournament and we formed two teams that took 1st and 2nd place. The only people we ever lost to was one another. We sought out all the top ladder players and arranged matches with them. After launch none of us really spent any time trying to climb the ladder, we played for the fun of it. The competition and challenge of beating our friends what made the game fun.

StarCraft was the single most influential game in my life. Not the game it’s self but what the game allowed me. Four of my closet friends I met on by chance. We happened to live a few miles from one another and met up. For 10 years now we have gamed together, lived together off and on, and hung out doing various things.

StarCraft also taught me that most people are bad at video games. I would overhear people talking about StarCraft in High School classes and how they “owned someone with a mass carrier” strategy. This taught me that my gaming was better left in silence. I would rather no one knew I played video games than suffer through ignorance.

When StarCraft 2 comes out all of my friends and I that met in StarCraft will be throwing a party together. This is like our High School reunion. I know since we have aged our skill will not be what it once was, however I know that I will never consider a mass carrier assault a viable strategy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Droid

The Droid does everything… almost. I’ve been watching a lot of Verizon ads lately for their new phone, The Droid. What’s interesting about this phone is that the advertisers are taken are more or less ignorant and sensationalist approach to promoting it. Obviously the Droid is directly competing with the iPhone by AT&T. Droid’s selling point has been that it does everything that the iPhone doesn’t without the plush “princess” prettiness of the iPhone. What I don’t understand is why it can’t be both? Why does Verizon feel the need to insinuate that I don’t need an attractive looking phone? What if I want a pink phone, that’s my choice.

Really if we are going on applications and ability to do various tasks I KNOW what an iPhone can do, and it pretty much does everything I would want in a phone. So that what does the Droid do that the iPhone doesn’t do? The only thing I can think of is a few small features that would be noticeable by less that 5% of the users.

The only reason I would get a Droid over an iPhone is ironically enough because of another commercial Verizon is running. They obviously have a much LARGER 3G network. If my new phone needs the 3G network to run all its features then I’m going with the largest in the country, as I do travel.

All this aside my work provides me with a piece of junk Sprint phone which is good enough for me. If I were to buy my own though it would probably be a Blackberry Touch of some sort.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Selfish Gamers

Tobold’s blog about soloing got me sort of riled up. Why is it that everyone feels they are entitled to play any game how they want? It’s infuriating. This is probably why I’m so anti-social. It’s not that I don’t like people, I love hanging out with my friends. It’s that the vast majority of the people I meet are selfish thoughtless morons.

I want to blame it on parents but its society as a whole. Sure it takes a tribe to raise a child but it only takes a few idiots to screw one up. It isn’t even the younger people. In this politically correct over sensitive world we live in today everyone feels they are entitled to everything. The world isn’t fair and you don’t always get what you want.

That is a huge foundation for capitalism. If you don’t like something, make something better and sell it. People are just lazy now days, they want existing companies to cater to their every whim rather than settle or go out and do it themselves.

Most of my family thinks I’m a very strict parent. My the standards I remember I’m rather easy. I don’t spank my kids, I haven’t grounded them for more than a hour at a time (I was once grounded for 3 months). However because SOCIETY spares the rod now in hopes to spare the child everything is getting messed up.

Look at yourself. Do you like the person you are? Then parent the way your parents treated you. Repeat the steps and hope for the best. Change things, but don’t for one instance think you are being their friend. You are their parent.

I hate the vast majority of people. Not because I don’t like people, but because I don’t have time to waste on morons. It drives my wife nuts but I will not sit at some random event and wait for my turn to speak with strangers. That is not a conversation. That is the problem with society and as such video games. Everyone thinks they are their own special snow flake, when really they are just pompous clowns.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Been AFK

I haven’t Blogged in a month. It seems like Tobold is a curse for me. Everytime I ask his opinion of how my blog is going I lose interest in posting. Like everything in my life my passions change like the tides. One day I will love painting miniatures for my 40K Warhammer Army and the next I will want nothing more than to play my Wii.

Blogging is the same way. Some days I can’t wait to voice my opinion others… well it’s meh. I haven’t even been interested in reading blogs. The last few days I’ve slowly started reading Gevlon and Tobold’s blogs again. Keen will have to wait a little while longer before I’m ready for him.

I guess playing Borderlands has really rekindled my interest in games. Borderlands is one of those simple yet pure games. It’s almost a throwback of how games were made 15 years ago. It’s amazingly refreshing and I think if the game had more outside support via dedicated servers it would actually hurt the game. I really don’t know how to describe it. Borderlands takes our old fashion hack and slash RPG model changes it to first person view adds guns and puts it in a post apocalyptic fallout typesetting… all while being cell shaded.

The only down side is you can tell this games interface was designed with a console gamer in mind. Nearly everything is done from the key board when it comes to navigating menu’s. It’s annoying but if that’s the only compliant I have then it’s a good game.

If Borderlands can keep me playing until the end of the year I will consider it well worth the $50 I paid via steam. Even if it doesn’t keep me interested for more than another week I will still feel that it was money well spent.

Thanks Borderlands for making me care about video games again!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The rich get richer

I had a whole other post ready to go but I’m excited. When I was level 15 and began crafting I set a goal for myself. My goal was to make 1,000,000 Kinah by the time I hit level 30. The key was that I didn’t want to make it by farming or quest turn in’s or hoping for random world drops. I wanted my primary income to come from crafting. The entire reason for this was in WoW I had to do Daily Quests to pay for my enchants, gems, and repairs. I hated daily quests but I never studied the Auction House enough to make a real profit off it. I was going to change that in Aion.

After 27 levels and 255 skill points in Alchemy I finally reached the one million mark. Sure it wasn’t all from crafting, but the vast majority of it was. I would estimate that 85% of my current net worth is from crafting and buying/selling on the Broker. I built a spread sheet with all the Reagents needed for the potions I could make and figured how much profit could be made off each one. I then set a minimum I would sell potions for along with a maximum I would pay for the reagents. This enabled me to keep my profit at a maximum without having to redo my figures every time the market changed; it also kept me competitive at all times.

Someone once told me that it’s easy to make money when you have money. I use to think it was just a poor man’s ideology of the grass is always greener but now I see otherwise. This morning when I logged on I did my normal searches on the broker looking for reagents to make my potions. To my shock I found one reagent being sold for 1/3 of the normal going rate. Now the thing that would have normally stopped me from buying all these is the fact that the reagents were being sold is such a large quantity stack that it would cost half of my current kinah to buy it, just this one stack.

I bought it. I bought the entire stack and a few other small stacks being sold for the same price. I then broke the large stack up into smaller stacks of 20 and listed them on my 3 characters for 2.5 times what I paid for them. If I hadn’t planned ahead on making so much kinah early on, and leveling up selling alts I never would have been able to pull this off.

By now I will have sold all the reagents I listed, because even the price I listed them at is under what the current price has been the last 4 days. When all is said in done I should have about 2 million kinah tonight when I go home and log on, effectively doubling my entire net worth in 24 hours.

Just because I’m crafting items doesn’t make me money in the Aion economy. Crafting permits me a constant presence in the economy and keeps me informed of the typical prices of certain items. This knowledge has given me the ability to recognize when an item is being sold for so cheap I could flip it, or when to avoid buying inflated reagents.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 Demo: First Impressions

The first thing I noticed when I got in was the colors and graphics. The game looks a lot like Team Fortress 2. That isn’t really a bad thing, just a thing. It’s not cartoony like TF2, but the colors and “vividness” of the scenery really reminded me of some of the TF2 maps I’ve played.

The graphics aren’t necessarily better in L4D2 than L4D but they are cleaner. The world has a more polished appearance to it, like Valve really figured out how to get the most out of their current gaming engine. The game runs smooth, which is really relieving considering all the negative posts I saw on the Steam forums. I had no lag issues or graphical issues to speak of.

In the Demo you can only play two levels in Campaign mode of the Parish scenario. The 4 new characters all fit fairly well together, as much as Frances and Bill did at least. They have interesting and sometimes funny dialog conversations.

The new weapons are amazing. The machete is by far the best weapon I’ve found, not because it’s more powerful than most rifles but because I feel like a ninja. When the real Zombie Apocalypse happens you bet your ass I’m going to be carrying a machete. The melee weapons really added a new combat element to the game as well. In L4D1 you only switched off your main gun to your secondary weapon when you were out of ammo. Now in close combat situations I find myself switching to my machete, night stick, or even electric guitar more often.

The new special infected are interesting, though not really difficult to kill. You have a zombie that spits acid and the acid burns you. You have a charger that well… charges you and slams you into the ground. The funniest one though is the jockey, a little midget zombie that jumps on your back and rides you. All the old infected from L4D1 make a return too, along with improved AI. The hunters were taking better timed shots and 2 or 3 special infected would wait to attack at once.

There are only 2 complaints I have about L4D2 Demo so far. One being it’s to easy. Sure we only played two levels but half way through our first run on normal we had to bump it up to advanced to get some sort of challenge, and me and my buddy aren’t the best at FPS games. By the second play through we were on Expert mode, which did atleast pose a challenge.

The other complaint is the atmosphere. I like that Valve is trying to get away from “zombies only attack at night” by having this scenario during the day… but it doesn’t feel scary. In L4D1 you felt like it was a survival horror game, and often times would be in spooky close quarters that were hard to tell where the zombies were coming from. In the only playable level for the L4D2 Demo the sun was shining and the world was rather open. I had enough cover to back into a corner but then I had a HUGE field of fire to mow down infected. On the off chance some did make it past our barrage of bullets they were then assaulted with machetes and guitars.

I can’t wait for the full game though. L4D2 was a blast last night. I’m going to play again tonight with some more friends who just finished installing it. Versus mode is going to be really fun if we get to play the new infected. Over all the demo made me glad I bought L4D2 already. If you liked L4D1 I would recommend picking up L4D2 just based on the demo.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quick Monday Post

Steam/Left 4 Dead 2:

Steam released an update and Left 4 Dead 2 requires it... however it wont install. I followed the instructions and spent about 15 minutes last night attempting to figure it out. I gave up and went back to Aion. I'm going to spend some time today at work... during breaks I swear, looking for the solution to this problem.

Update: I think I found the Left 4 Dead 2 fix. I'll check tonight and hopefully have something worthwhile to write about. However the forums that brought me a few things to try also listed a LARGE amount of existing bugs. I'm worried this may end up with me logging into Aion anyways.


I'm a crafting whore. My friends in Vent still think it means the game sucks but after being gone for 2 days and coming home to 600,000 kinah in sold items I was really excited. I just listed another 1000 potions this morning. The down side is it took 1 1/2 hours to make them. Luckily with day light savings I was up early then spent the rest of the morning making breakfast for my kids and watching cartoons with them before they had to goto school.

Crafting in Aion would really suck if you had limited computer time, for instance a shared family PC. Since my computer really is MY computer it isn't an issue for me. When ever I have a few minutes I can load up Aion and start crafting while I still perform my fatherly duties without my childeren lacking for attention.

More to come tomorrow!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 (Double Friday Post)

I downloaded the Left 4 Dead 2 Demo last night. It didn't work. I updated my drivers and reinstalled and nothing. I wasn't about to wipe Steam just for a demo... even if that Demo is Left 4 Dead 2. I didn't feel like fighting it anymore.

So I ended up playing Aion all night, which was fun. I got to do another run through The Training Grounds which is a level 25-30 instance in the Abyss.

Short Friday post

I have done 2 levels in the Abyss now. It feels a lot like Dark Age of Camelot Frontier’s. The experience points are very good and you also gain Abyss Points which can be used to be gear. You also have the consistent fear of being ganked, which I have been a few times. Not every time I get attacked do I lose though. Sometimes I’m able to fight them off and kill them and other times I am able to run away.

I know I’m only 2 levels into the Abyss but so far it’s very fun. The risk versus reward is there to make me want to be in the Abyss regardless of wanting to PvP. The other nice factor is that if I get to frustrated there I can always head back to the normal PvE area’s where the chances of being ganked are MUCH smaller.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Everyone is prejudice against other MMO's

I’m going to vent. I have only written two sentences and I already know this post is going to turn into a QQ post. Never the less it has to be done. Last night I was in Ventrillo with all my friends that I have been gaming with since High School. Two of us in the channel play Aion and the other 4 play World of Warcraft.

As our nightly routine one of them asks how Aion is going, and I always explain what I’m doing and what is good or bad about it. Typically I’m always heaping praise on Aion though. Last night I told them I was enjoying crafting and making Kinah and one of my friends started making fun of my reasons for it.

First off he couldn’t understand WHY I wanted to make money. He didn’t grasp the idea that making ALOT of money in a game could be fun in its self. I told him a half truth and explained that I wanted a steady income set up before I actually needed one, which is partially true. I don’t want to wait until I need Kinah to try and make some. It would be too hard to invest Kinah at that point, so better to do it while it’s mainly trivial.

That was a semi acceptable answer by their standards… then I told them I also had fun crafting. Rather than asking me why crafting was fun they began to berate the game play and slow grind of the exp. I was told that the reason I liked crafting was because it was easier than leveling. Then one of my friends began to tell me how Aion was “failing” because all of his friends had already quit it. That didn’t make sense to me though because there were two of us in Vent who have been playing Aion for weeks and still enjoy it. I told them that a lot of people in the guild hadn’t got many levels over the weekend was due to a large portion of them rerolling to healers to help the guild and some PvP in the Abyss that took place.

I was told again that Aion was simply too grindy and it wasn’t going to last. How can people tell me a game is too grindy? They even went so far as to say the leveling was slower in Aion than EverQuest… really? How can any MMO veteran say that without bursting into flames? EQ literally took a YEAR on average to reach level 60.

I know my friends didn’t mean to offend me, but this goes to show the mindset of a lot of gamers. They immediately sought to find the bad in Aion, rather than the good.

At the end of our conversation I told them, as I do everytime they ask, that Aion will not steal players from World of Warcraft. It is however a place to go once you are done with WoW. Sure some people will go back when Blizzard releases new content, but I don’t think in the amount that most gamers expect.

The bottom line is Aion is arguably the highest quality MMO to be released SINCE World of Warcraft. Aion will truly be the test of whether or not another MMO can make a profit with A+ quality control.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spreadsheets, calculators, and pocket protectors OH MY!

The last few days of Aion have been spent in the Sanctum running back and forth between my Warehouse (bank) the Broker (Auction House) and the crafting vendors. I'm far more addicted to making Kinah than I thought.

It has gotten so bad that I finally sat down Sunday night and made a spread sheet adding up the production cost of each potion I can currently make and the average going rate for those potions on the Broker. I now spend about 30 minutes a night doing Broker and Trade Skill related chores. The nice thing is that the amount of Kinah I’m making from this 30 minutes far exceeds the amount of Kinah I make in 3 or 4 hours of grinding.

I’m currently selling 3 types of potions, I’m going to do a cost benefit analysis tonight and decide if I want to pick up a 4th potion type. There are a few reasons for me selling more than one type of potion, and I want to explain them here

Supply: All of the items I make are subject to the amount of materials I can obtain to create them. They each consist of 3 items. One item is sold from a NPC so that supply and cost never changes. The second is sold from players on the Broker and is common and cheap thus I would consider it low demand. The last is the main ingredient, Fresh Lumesia, which can sky rocket in price if you are not careful.

So if I were only making 1 type of potion then when I start buying ingredients in bulk I would drive the demand up. With the new average price for Fresh Lumesia being so high all new listings would only undercut the current ones by a small margin. It then would take about 24 hours of undercutting for prices to come back down to my acceptable range and the market to reset it's self.

By spreading my purchases out from buying three types of ingredients rather than just one I retain the same amount of profit per potion while keeping the cost of my materials down. This helps me keep from driving my own prices up, and thus putting me out of business. I’m competing against the “I farmed it so it’s free people” here so remember that.

Market Presence: In Aion each character can only has 10 broker slots. The point of this is to keep people from flooding a market and driving out the competition, but also raises an interesting thought of opportunity cost per slot. Now this is good for me more than you think. I WANT to drive away my competition by having a strong market presence. Given that I only have 10 slots that would seem like a handicap but in fact it only makes it easier on me.

Most people are only listing with 1 character. So I only have to compete against 10 broker slots per competitor. I don’t know if all my competitors are the same person with 3 different characters that just happen to have random names or if they really are 3 random people. I have identified only 1 name as a consistent market presence though which leads me to believe they aren't trying to take over the market.

How this benefits me? I have decided that with a little up front time and effort, to level alts up. All my alts have similar spelt names. The point of that is so when I list items all of my competition KNOWS they are competing against 1 person, regardless of how many characters I have. I’m trying to do market intimidation.

The morons and slackers won’t take the time to level up a second character for the sole purpose of selling items. At the most they will have an abandoned alt who theyuse to help sell “extra” stuff. Now I’m sure a few other people will take on my strategy, but there are always more slackers than goblins in any MMO.

Conclusion: I’m currently pulling in 300,000 Kinah a listing from Alchemy with less than 30 minutes worth of work per listing. 15 of those 30 minutes are typically spent combing materials which thankfully I can queue up then go read, shower, brush, or do whatever. I do 2 listings a day, once in the morning and once in the evenings assuming materials are available.

Fun math! That translates into approximately 10,000 Kinah a minute. Thanks to Gevlon @

I have applied most of what I have read there to Aion and it seems to be working.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kill the Soap Box

Other bloggers annoy me. Most seem to be caught up in their own little world where their opinion is the only right one. Now I understand that blogs are often times a place for people to stand on a soap box and shout their opinions… but what does it accomplish?

My favorite discussions to date have been with people of opposing views knowledgeable about the topic but open minded enough to consider other options. These people are very hard to come by. It’s the old thought process that if we are given the same information and you come to a different conclusion than I do, you must be stupid.

That’s not always the case though. People value different things. I hate to reference politics but I am a very liberal person, so as being of voting age in the USA you would think I would typically vote Democrat. Well you would be wrong, the things I value MOST are the things that Republicans tend to side with. So while I agree with more Democratic policies the ones that are most important to me are better fought for by the Republicans.

What does this matter? People are all biased. Everyone has their own agenda they are trying to bring to fruition. It is very rare that you get two people of opposing views in a room who will hear one another out and actually consider the others views.

This is the same in the video game industry, more specifically the MMO industry. If we both like MMO’s and have played the same ones, you MUST like the same one as I do or something is wrong with YOU. The fans of different MMO’s need to understand that compromise will make for a better gaming future then fanboy forum trolling.

Bloggers are just as bad though. We need to take away soap boxes and start sitting at round tables to discuss the pros and cons of games or we are doomed to keep making the same mistakes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Random Update

I currently am playing Aion. I have a 25 Ranger if you haven’t noticed from my posts. In between work, Aion, and blogging I have been reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. I’m about 300 pages into book 3, really good series that is going to be on HBO starting next year.

I’m have also pre-purchased Mortal Online and have played in the early beta a little. I have ALSO purchased Left 4 Dead 2 and will be doing some reviews on that shortly after launch. I have considered picking up a Playstation 3 but I just don’t see myself playing it enough to justify the $300 price tag.

If anyone is reading this what are you playing?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Aion 1-25 Final Thoughts

When it’s all said and done I don’t know how to review Aion, however I’m sure I’m still in the “Honey Moon” phase. I haven’t hit a wall yet and while I know I’m half way through the levels I still have a lot of exp to earn before I’m level 50. If a friend would ask me about Aion, I think this is what I would say.

If you are playing World of Warcraft and enjoying it, don’t play Aion. You won’t like it. The game has a lot more grind by WoW standards and is a lot like WoW in the way it plays so you won’t be moving on to something very different. If you currently enjoy World of Warcraft Aion will more than likely not appeal to you.

If you are burnt out on World of Warcraft and want another MMO to play, give Aion a try. Come in with an open mind and remember it’s not going to be WoW but it will have a lot of similarities… which ALL MMO’s share.

If you enjoyed EverQuest back in the day, I really think you will find Aion to be a second home. It’s everything I loved about EverQuest with the technological advances that every MMO since has discovered. I only play 1-2 hours a night and I feel as though I’m playing enough to still make progress.

All in all I am very pleased with Aion. I think it’s a good game and feel it will only grow from here. I really hope NCSoft can show that Blizzard isn’t the only company who can make a quality MMO. I don’t expect Aion to meet WoW’s subscriber numbers but I do think it will rival its quality of craftsmanship.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aion 1 -25 Part 2

I creep ever closer to 25. This is a continuation of yesterdays post.

Combat: Combat versus regular monsters in Aion is fairly typical to most MMOs. You have a task/action/ability bar that you can bind keys to or click on with your mouse. Certain abilities will allow you to chain another ability immediately after it; for example a certain arrow shot will allow me to follow that ability up with a rapid arrow shot. Other than that there isn’t much difference from Aion combat than there is from EverQuest 2, World of Warcraft or Warhammer Online. If you have played one you have played them all.

Difficulty: I would say over all Aion seems to be on a medium difficulty setting. Over all the game isn’t difficult but depending on what level of monsters you are fighting dictates the level of difficulty. It’s not that the higher level monsters have better tactics; they just hit hard and have more hit points.

It’s one of my biggest complaints about MMO’s and really RPGs in general. If you increase the amount of damage a monster does and increase the amount of hit points he has… then increase our stats equally you haven’t changed the game at all. It’s just inflation. If something hits me for 10% of my health it doesn’t matter if that 10% is 50 damage or 500 damage because it’s still only 10%. Anyone who has ever played a MMO before will find Aion very inviting with enough difficulty to keep you entertained.

Questing: I hate quests. These tasks that game developers present us with as an excuse to kill 10 Foozles are not quests, they are chores. I haven’t done a real quest since I did my Necromancer’s epic quest in EverQuest, just chores. The bright side is Aion doesn’t focus on quests. Don’t get me wrong they are there at every point of the game but they are not the only method for leveling.

In World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online the fastest way to earn experience was to solo quest. In Aion the fastest way to level is by killing monsters. Nearly every quest that has sent me out to kill 10 Flubbergasts has ended being that those 10 Flubbergasts were worth more exp than the quest turn in… drastically more. Once that realization is made you find yourself killing any and everything you come across. The quests tend to guide you to the appropriate area for your level but the heart and soul of leveling in Aion is by killing things… be it solo or in a group.

Interface: The interface is wonky… but it’s only wonky because it’s new. I really wish NCSoft had stolen a page from Mythic and made the default User Interface completely customizable. The UI isn’t bad but it doesn’t feel natural. You can move some windows around but not all of them. The default hotkeys leaves a little to be desired and you can feel that the games interface was heavily influenced by Eastern MMO’s rather than the Western ones. I’m really just nitpicking though because at this level of the game it works fine. I’m sure with more Western feedback we will see the UI shape into something we can all love.

Graphics: This one will be short. The game feels like a Final Fantasy cut scene. It has a very strong Anime feel to it. The graphics are amazingly done though and complement the environment and feel that NCSoft seems to have been going for. I will say again though that a lot of the detail is lost because for the sake of efficiency you operate most of the time with your view as far away from your character as possible to increase your range of vision.

This concludes Part 2. Tomorrow will be my summary.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Aion 1-25 Part 1

Works been busy. I was about to hit 24 last night when I got a call that some equipment went down. So I had to pack up and drive an hour to meet AT&T to try and fix the issue. However since I’m SOOO close to 24 I’m going to start part 1 of my 1-25 Aion review.

Character Creation: Aion offers a huge variety in character customization. There are some 40 faces to pick from for each sex and then you have sliders to adjust nearly every feature on the face and body. The sliders allow you to move eyes, noise, forehead, chin, feet, arms and it allows you to resize all of these features too. Now the first time you create a character it seems a bit overwhelming and feels as though you have endless possibilities.

The problem is that once you log into the game all that pain staking detail you put into your character goes unnoticed. Every view puts your character so far away from the screen that they are the size of a Polly pocket in standard armor. The countless options in the character creation screen are simply put; pointless. You can’t tell one slider adjust from the next once you start playing the game. That doesn’t mean it should be removed, it obviously doesn’t hurt to have it in place. I just don’t think it’s something we should praise too highly.

Starting Area: I’ve leveled three characters to level 10 now, two Rangers and a Cleric. The starting area is typical for most MMO’s. It isn’t too difficult but it still gives you enough of a challenge to be enjoyable. The quests flow smoothly and the help guide is amazing, they have little windows to show you where hotkeys are by default. The story line for you ascension is well done and there are quite a few cut scenes along the way. The only real down side is that once you’ve done it once, you’ve done it all. Each class has the same quests and the same story line. There isn’t much replay ability here.

Crafting: I started crafting early. I wanted to try and get a jump on the majority of the playerbase who would be focusing on leveling rather than trade skills. It has worked for the most part. I’m currently at 200 Alchemy and I’ve been able to make money using that trade skill every day. You have Work Orders that are quests for your profession. I really don’t want to go into to much detail about it, just check my crafting post.

The major issue is the economy more so than the trade skills. More often than not the materials to make a given item cost more than the product you make from them. The best way I’ve found to make a profit is buy the materials early in the morning. Everyone posts their materials as they go to bed so if you are up late or up early buy the cheap materials. You then have two options. You can either sit on them and relist them in the afternoon or craft an item and sell the item. I do both. I purchase in bulk every morning and turn the majority of those into potions. I sell potions for 2.5 times what it costs me to make them. In the evenings I relist some of those extra materials back onto the market and make 75% more than what I paid for them. The reason I don’t focus on one or the other is I am trying not to flood the market, plus you are limited on how many items/stacks you can sell at a broker.

This concludes Part 1.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fast Update

Sorry for not posting yesterday, I just didn't feel compelled to write about anything.

Aion update: I'm now half way through 23. I only spent an hour last night playing and some of that was just wandering aimlessly. My Alchemy is now at 200. I blew most of my money to get the 3rd level of training so I haven't had much Kinah to invest in leveling it. I'm also anticipating a 80k Kinah money sink at 25 for my abilities. The game is still fun but I think I'm developing a blister on my mouse finger from all the jump shotting.

Song of Ice and Fire: I finished Clash of Kings yesterday and started A Storm of Swords. The series is still going strong and George Martin is doing a good job of me not guessing who is going to live or die. Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow are my favorite characters so far.

I look forward to posting something more in depth tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turning a profit

I hadn't planned on posting today but here it is.

A few nights ago I set my mind to make some money in Aion. I had about 50k Kinah to my name. I was going to cut myself short and attempt to flip nearly all of that money through wise investments. Go big or go home.

I shot over to the Broker to see what the going rate was for some of the potions I could sell. The highest level of instant healing potion seemed to have the least amount of competition with the highest possible margin of profit per potion. I looked up the ingredients and proceeded to purchase them off the Broker… or what I thought was them.

The down side is when you type in Elemental Stone and sort by lowest price, Lesser Elemental Stone comes first. Without thinking I spent 30k Kinah on Lesser Elemental Stones when I needed the normal version. After reaching the trade skill area is when it dawned on me.

So back to the Broker, I would have my Kinah profit if it killed me. I put my Lesser Elemental Stones up for sale and bought the correct items, in a much smaller quantity as I now only had 20k Kinah left to make my profit.

Back at the tradeskill tables I created 90 potions. Traveled yet again back to the Broker and began putting them up for sale. Another sad realization came, you are limited to how much you can list at one time. I made a mental note to level an alt to 10 so I would have additional auctioning power.

I logged and went to bed. I woke up in the morning to a great surprise. I had nearly 55k Kinah from selling my potions and another 24k Kinah from selling the Lesser Elemental Stones. I turned around and reinvested all of that money back into the market. This time I found items with a higher ingredient cost but also solder for a much higher profit margin.

When I came home from work that night I was greeted with 150k Kinah. In less than 20 hours I went from 20k Kinah (after my mistaken purchase) up to 150k Kinah. This is all thanks to Gevlon’s blog and how to operate in a MMO economy. Since my few days dominating the low level potion market prices have dropped below to the cost the materials to make the potions. Lucky for me I have already gone back to leveling my trade skill beyond this current market. By next week I should have destroyed another potion market by driving prices down due to my goblin like undercutting skills. Crafting and playing the market seems to be more fun than leveling these days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have Military Training today and tomorrow. No post today but I have one for tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Aion… not so polished?

With every new game that comes out you are always stricken with a sense of awe. It’s often called the Honey Moon stage, everything is perfect and wonderful and the game will never be better than it is right now. I’ve learned to love the Honey Moon stage and appreciate it for it what is.

I’m not sure how long the Honey Moon stage lasts; when I got married I only had a 4 day Honey Moon so I guess my E-Honey Moon has been far longer. (Unless I do hours played, then it’s probably far shorter) While I don’t think I’m officially out of the Honey Moon phase I think I’m at a stage where I can be realistic about a game, this one being Aion.

Before I’m willing to go any farther Aion is still fun for me. I don’t want this to sound more like blind Honey Moon fanboyism but my love for Aion really does appear to be more than a one month stand. It reminds me of my first girlfriend in so many ways, EverQuest.

That being said I do believe the polish myself and others have heaped on Aion is not fully earned. Compared to Warhammer Online it’s surely polished but as soon as I hold it up next to World of Warcraft it starts to seem less perfect. Aion has done far more things right and well than any other MMO since World of Warcraft has launched, that I can say without pause or preface.

Aion does however have a few noticeable issues, and 5 minutes on the forums will lead you to find out they aren’t isolated incidents. I will only be covering two issues here because they have actually affected me and are full fledged technical problems.

I can not for the life of me log onto the Aion official Website or Forums. I get an error saying that my login and password are incorrect. After going through the FAQ and 3 levels of support Customer Service has instructed me to delete my cookies. I did this at step one, thanks though NCSoft. I asked about this on my guild forums and was told that at one point even the NCSoft staff had issues logging into their site. (unconfirmed) I know this is not an issue with my PC or web browser. I use Microsoft IE at work and Firefox at home on two different computers with the same issue. I know this isn’t an in game issue, but your website is the first impression most people will have of your game.

My other issue, which seems to be far more common, can only be described as “rubber banding”. I will be kiting some NPC and as I run away I will occasionally warp back a few feet. If I’m running while a mob casts an ability on me, as soon as the ability lands I fly back to where I was at when the NPC started casting the ability. I’ve heard different rumors that this is caused by DSL connections (I have Cable) or from duel processors. It feels more like the client (my computer) communicating with the server properly.

I have a few other nitpicking issues but I’m going to save those for another day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Aion Update

I'm half way through 20. I've held off on moving to a new area because I want to finish off some group quests I have. So I have been focusing on crafting and farming while shouting 20 Ranger LFG Krall.

If tonight doesn't yield a group I'm just going to give up and move else where. I'm planning on doing a full Aion review when I hit 25. I figure since that's the half way point it would be a good time to reflect over the first half of the game. I'm planning on doing a 2 part post. Look for it early next week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crafting in Aion

I recently hit 20 on my Ranger in Aion… and I had considered writing about my experience from level 10 through 20 today but instead I want to write about crafting.

In all honesty I have had a secret passion for crafting since EverQuest. I had an enchanter with maxed Jewel Crafting and Cooking. In EverQuest 2 I spent many hours leveling up my cooking their too. In World of Warcraft I leveled Herbalism and Tailoring to max. In Warhammer Online I leveled Talisman Making and Apothecary to max. For some odd reason I tend to enjoy the idea of crafting in MMO games.

Crafting is a great way to get into the games economy on a consistent basis. You don’t have to wait for rare item drops to sell on an Auction House. You can spend a little time and always have something that should make you a profit. The problem is most games don’t go about making a crafting system for what most gamers intend to use it for.

In EverQuest Jewel Crafting enabled you to make the best rings in the game for a very long time. It lasted 2 expansions before being obsolete. Crafting was rather simple; combine the materials in some sort of container and you created an item. Since EverQuest MMO developers have tried to make crafting into its own mini game. In EverQuest 2 you had abilities to hit to counter possible failed crafting attempts. In Warhammer Online you had virtually endless possibilities of ingredients to combine into countless random items.

All of these crafting systems lacked 2 major factors. First they tried to make crafting fun. Now while I’m not opposed to making anything more fun in a MMO I believe one of the beauties of crafting in a MMO has always been the down time. I don’t like crafting systems that take as much work as killing a mob. To me it should be a relaxing mechanic within the game. I prefer systems that allow minimal concentration on my part to level up my crafting. That enables me to read, surf the internet, read blogs, or study up on quests I am planning on doing all while still accomplishing tasks within the game.

Second is that leveling up crafting is often a money sink where you can’t sell any of the crafted items until you max it out. You spend hours farming mats or shopping on the Auction House just to buy mats to create a worthless item, and in the name of a few skill points.

Aion has fixed both of these issues for me. In Aion I can queue up as many items as I want to craft, hit craft, and it will make that set amount without any more input from me. This allows me to do other things while crafting. I’ve been able to look up quests, research gear, and deal with guild issues all while still playing a portion of the game, crafting.

It is also fairly inexpensive thanks to Work Orders. Work Orders are essentially quests for your trade skill. The NPC tells you to make 8, 10, or 12 of whatever item and all the material can be bought from a nearby vendor. After completing the Work Order you earn some exp, Kinah (think gold) and a prize. The prize is often times a material for a craftable item to sell or a design to make something else new. While Work Orders don’t let me directly participate in Aion’s economy it still however rewards my work with some gold and design patterns so that I can craft items to sell.

I would be a much higher level in Aion if I wasn’t addicted to crafting, but I am. I spend every Kinah I can save on it. I’m leveling Alchemy in the hopes that it will net me the most income long term. I’m currently 139/199 and I believe the max in 450. I have a ways to go and I suspect it will cost quite a few million Kinah to get there. I only hope to make it back in time.

Aion’s crafting gets a 8/10 from me. It doesn’t try to over complicate anything and while being grindy, it doesn’t tie you down to the game while leveling it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And they rejoiced... and it was good.

When I was in Iraq we didn't get many TV stations. We had the Armed Forces Network which pretty much picked what we watched. I was lucky though, they often ran G4 Attack of the Show marathons.

When I got back I had G4 for all of 2 weeks before my cable company, Comcast, decided to make it a premium channel. Two weeks ago I bought a HD TV and along with it upgraded my cable service to include HD channels... along with those channels I got G4 back. Oh how I missed thee. It's one of the channels that speaks to me more than any other.

A Game of Thrones

Let’s see how to begin. Well when I was in Elementary school my school district in their infinite wisdom decided to put me in trial reading programs for my first 4 years. So in Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade I had a different method for learning reading. That being said I was illiterate until half way through 3rd grade. That may not sound bad but consider this, my 5 year old daughter in Kindergarten can already read better than I could in 2nd grade.

So as you can imagine I was never a big reader. I picked up a few of the nerd must reads over the years. Lord of the Rings namely and a few others. About 2 years ago I stumbled across the Horus Heresy and blew through all those books. Now I’m currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. I finished A Game of Thrones about a week ago.

I typically like to wait a few days after finishing a book before reading anything to have time to digest it. With that lull being done I also feel that it’s as good of time as any to write a review.

George R.R. Martin has a unique chapter style with these books. Each chapter is from the perspective of one of the main characters and no two consecutive chapters are the same character, though all the characters typically repeat in other chapters. It took about 100 pages to get use to that but then it felt natural. George R.R. Martin’s excellent writing style and interesting story telling floated me through that adjusting period easily.

A Game of Thrones is an interesting book in its self. I’m going to try and not give anything away but the majority of the book has subtle magic hints, with the primary focus being on your typical lords and knights struggling over control of the kingdom. The entire time I read the book I was nervous… it was interesting. At any time in this book you truly believe anyone can die. No matter how important someone may seem to be to the overall story line, they can die… and sometimes do. Entertainment media often struggles to find an attachment method between the viewer/reader and the main characters because it is nearly always assumed the good will triumph over evil. If I never care, nor fear, for the main characters lives I won’t be as engaged in the story as I otherwise would be.

A Game of Thrones is an excellent book. It does what most movies and book can’t do. It makes you fear for the main characters lives. That is a crucial point in making this book so good. Another key feature is that even the so called bad guys have redeeming qualities. One of the “bad guys” slowly grew to be one of my favorite characters in the book.

I have now started the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. It is thus far just as good and I look forward to seeing what George R.R. Martin has in store for me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zombie Fest!

Yesterday was Zombie-fest for me. I managed to squeeze in some time and scurry off the the local movie theater and watch Zombie Land. Great movie btw. Then I preordered two copies of Left 4 Dead 2. Now in a way I could leave this post at that and be happy, but then that wouldn’t be a very good post would it?

My only complaint about Left 4 Dead 2 is this should be an expansion, free or paid, not a full game. When Left 4 Dead first came out everyone assumed we would be getting piles and piles of map packs like Counter Strike and Team Fortress 2. Sadly we got none for 8 months. Valve finally released 2 of the campaign levels for Multiplayer and added a few new, yet short stages. It was disappointing.

Why then am I buying two Left 4 Dead 2 games? Well first I promised one of my soldiers if I didn’t deploy I would buy him the game. He is a full time student and thus broke all the time and couldn’t afford L4D before. Second, it will still be the best game for the next 4 months. Left 4 Dead gave me nights upon nights of entertainment. I’m looking forward to being in Ventrillo with 4 to 8 friends killing each other and zombies. I’m as much a zombie nut as I am a MMO nut.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Critics are WoW Fanboys

I understand the irony of one critic calling another critic a fanboy. Up until recently I believed that most bloggers I read and critics on website like tried to be as impartial as possible to new games with regards to our reigning MMO champion, World of Warcraft (aka WoW). After playing Aion for 10 levels I can already see how mistaken I was.

Over the past 3 months two things has been said about Aion. One is that it is polished, and another is that it is a WoW clone. Let start with polish; Aion is most defiantly polished. The game runs better than any MMO at launch I have ever played and rivals the current build of WoW in stability. Coming from 6 months of Warhammer directly into Aion is like night and day. Aion had been developed with A+ quality control. Enough about what we already knew though.

Is Aion a WoW clone? Maybe if the only MMO you have ever played is World of Warcraft. On the surface Aion feels a lot like WoW, but then one could say it feels like every contemporary MMO. (EQ2, DAoC, WAR, LotR and yes WoW) However I’ve always prided myself on trying as many MMO’s as possible, I am a MMO fanboy after all.

I can say with all my heart, Aion is not a WoW clone. If you believe Aion is a WoW clone then every MMO that has been made including the ones before WoW’s release are WoW clones. Personally that seems absurd. I don’t want to compare Aion to any game, but for every feature that looks like it has come from WoW I have found 10 that came from EverQuest 2.

I think World of Warcraft's impact on MMO gaming has surpassed what any expected. Along with its great success come great downfalls. Every game from here on out will be compared directly to WoW… even if another MMO would be a better comparison

Thursday, October 1, 2009

MMO Segregation

Lately more and more bloggers and media sites have been trying to define and categorize the MMORPG genre. In a way I can understand. The desire to understand the types of games we love could potentially lead to a better understanding of making better games. However the more I think about it, the more I can’t help but wonder… what’s in a name?

Shakespeare once wrote “"What's in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other name would smell as sweet." This is a common phrase and I think it holds more ground here, in the hot bed of MMO defining discussions than in some places I’ve read it. No matter what World of Warcraft, Aion, or Warhammer Online are labeled as, they are still games that people enjoy to play. This new found zeal of the gaming community to accurately label the MMO genre seems misplaced.

I can’t help but think back to the ongoing Hardcore gamer versus Casual gamer debates that have been going on since the dawn of MMO gaming. Do we really need to define ourselves, our games, or our play style to make a game more enjoyable. Isn’t simply being “fun” enough anymore? I can’t help but wonder that with labels comes the segregation of games into genres. Do World of Warcraft and Darkfall really need to be in separate categories for either to be successful? In the words of Rodney King “can we all get along?”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Aion level 1 – 10

Last Friday night I was playing WoW with some friends, and utterly bored. Another friend got on Vent and said he had picked up Aion. He then gave a fairly good review of the game up to level 10 and I trust his opinion, we have been MMO’n together since EQ circa 1998.

I went on Steam to see how much Aion cost and check some of the reviews. I figured I would add it to my cart and mull over the purchase while I slept. Well what I didn’t know is my Steam account is set up to auto purchase a game as soon as it hits my cart. So without knowing it, or meaning to I purchased Aion Collector’s Edition.

At that point I would like to say I’m obligated to play the game now. So I created an account and began installing. I woke up Saturday morning and began playing.

Character Creation Screen: It’s just like Age of Conan… or any MMO that allows sliders. It’s very detailed but other than height and hair you can’t really tell what people look like in game. I tried making a purple haired Lucy Liu character. At the time she looked pretty decent. I gave her realistic body parts, not the stereotypical Barbie build.

The down side is that you have so many options it’s almost overwhelming. The character creation, while detailed, isn’t very user friendly. You can click on the templates and a drop down menu appears to select one of 30 or so… however if you want to cycle through the 40 something hair styles or 20 or so faces you have to cycle through each one. It was a very slow and cumbersome experience.

Another issue I’ve found, as with most MMO’s, after 10 levels I already don’t like what I look like. My characters head feels to small for her body. She feels too Anime-ish for me. I would love for a MMO to permit us to redo our characters looks after about 10 hours of play once we get a feel for them. I’ve never understood how we were expected to create a character before we have even experienced the game.

So Epiny the Lucy Liu look alike Elyos was been created. I enter the game and I’m treated with an opening cinema. I couldn’t tell you what it was about because it skipped the whole time. I was sort of disappointed.

Into the game! The game starts out like most MMO. You spawn, go talk to the first NPC you see and get a quest. One thing that Aion has done better than any other MMO is a tutorial. You get pop ups with mini video’s on how to do things.

The starting area was beautifully crafted. The landscape is lush and amazing. I immediately felt like I was in a Final Fantasy cut scene. The character animations were fluid and everything ran amazingly well. This game has thus far lived up to the hype of “polish”. My ongoing problem with this is polish isn’t good enough.

The rest of the way to level 10 wasn’t that exciting. The combat was typical for most MMO’s. It felt much more reminiscent of EverQuest 2 than WoW. The Quests are a complaint I do have. Most quest dialogs are three pages of text to ask me to kill 5 birds. These stopped being quests a few years ago and became chores. I’m not your errand boy!.. or girl I guess since my character is a girl.

So far the first 10 levels have pleasantly surprised me. I feel like I’m heading down a road that I going to love and hate at times. I’m optimistic about Aion, but I’m not going to hold my breath yet. I’m going to remake my Ranger tonight simply because I find her that ugly.

If I was just rating this game on the starting area I would have to rate it average. While it was pleasant to look at and the turtorial was phenomenal I just think Age of Conan’s had a better “hook” story and Warhammer let you PvP from the start. It’s slightly better than EverQuest 2’s starting area and worlds better than anything WoW has offered thus far.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homongenized Genre's

I love MMO’s. I’m not sure when it happened but they are the games I prefer to play most of all. Second would be a tie for old school RPG’s and Turn Based Strategy games. It’s not that I can’t handle twitch based games, it’s that I prefer a battle of wits.

Back in Starcraft: Brood wars heyday I was on a 2v2 team ranked 2nd on IGN. I use to spend 3 or 4 hours a night doing rail gun duels on Quake Arena. I’m no newbie to games that require reflexes… I just prefer the purity of a game whose only goal is testing your mental ability.

The last 6 years I’ve noticed a trend in the MMO market and strategy gaming market. MMO’s, RPG’s and Strategy games have slowly shed their chains of slow methodical combat and traded it for the flashy action packed combat style of action games. In a way this is a good thing. It opens up the genre’s to people who like a wider variety of games. An Action RPG will get people who like action games and people who like RPGs, in a sense doubling your possible consumer base.

The problem I am having with these types of games is that they are losing their identity. First Person Shooter games are getting character development much like standard RPG’s and RPG’s are getting combat that requires quick reactions and accurate timing. As these development trends continue I feel we are going to reach a point where there is only one homogenized genre.

The game developers are slowly pillaging all the uniqueness from games by targeting their games for the broadest market available. I fear it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

Sorry... was afk

I know I’m only apologizing to myself but never the less; sorry for the lack of posts. For the next 3 weeks I’m going to make a conscience effort to post twice a week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Land of the Dead and the Crystal Skull

That is how I feel about Mythic’s new dungeon they are preparing to release next month. Completely and utterly underwhelmed…

I will start with the good. Adding Wards to your Tome is a good idea, so good in fact people have asked for this is some shape or form for the past 5 months. It’s nice that they are finally doing it. Even if I’m not thrilled about it new playing areas are always good along with an alternative route for PvE gear progression.

I’m also interested to see how this will affect the oRvR lakes. I’m really optimistic but at the same time the manner in which it is being implemented see’s like a Band-Aid. What is it with Mythic that they think just adding some sort of token or artifact to the loot table improves the game? Is it not possible to have us kill people and earn invisible currency that does not take up precious inventory space?

Now on to my personal dissatisfaction with Land of the Dead. It’s to cliché. It looks like the Mythic development team just got off a weekend marathon of Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, and The Mummy movies before creating this content. It has every cliché encounter I have ever seen in an Egyptian action movie. Terra Cotta armies, mummies coming back from the dead, the booby traps from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… I mean they didn’t even try to cover that one up!

Not only is the design stolen from the silver screen but it looks as though the encounters were stolen from World of Warcraft. Every fight shown in the Games Day trailers were gimmicky mini games like nearly every one of WoW’s raid encounters, dodge fire shooting from some orb and kill the undead that spawn, dodge a giant mummy statue hand, play matador with an undead giant, run from a swarm of locust. I feel like they are pillaging WoW and pretty much every quick time event on a console for this content patch.

Over all I’m more disappointed than I am excited about the content. I’m looking forward to purge quests when the zone flips more than anything.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My best night in WAR ever

Sorry for the lack of posting. I just wasn’t into games much. More on that to come. Here is what I am passionate about now… I’m back to Warhammer Online and I’m loving it!

Last night was some of the most fun I have had in WAR. We were running a 6 man in Tier 3. The group was made up of an Iron Breaker, 2 Slayers, 2 Rune Priests, and a Warrior Priest (Me).

There was an Order Warband (raid party of 24 people) going around taking Keeps but they were full. We decided to follow them and pick off any stray Destruction along the way. After sacking the Keep and our group getting 4 of the top 6 positions on contribution we headed to the Destruction’s Warcamp to kill them after they respawned. We waited just outside and as we thought a group came out. We began fighting them but after killing a few they slowly gathered reinforcements. With a overwhelming push by Destruction we were on our heels. We lost a Slayer to a position that couldn't be rez'd and the rest of the party was at half health so we began to retreat.

As we retreated by ranks in an orderly fashion... well not really we ran like cowards. I brought out a Standard to give our group increased run speed and our other Slayer turned and fought them to slow the advancing horde of Destruction, his death gave us those precious seconds to get out of snare range. The last 4 members of our group made for the bridge outside the entrance to our Order Warcamp. This is where we met up with our two Slayers that respawned and where we held our ground.

At this point in the battle the Destruction Horde numbered at least half a Warband, versus our merry band of 6. I dropped our Standard on the ground (which gave us 15% increased renown and 15% increased toughness) and screamed YOU SHALL NOT PASS in Vent.

Four Chosen piled over the bridge and 2 were promptly knocked into the depths of the lake below. The Sorceresses and Squig Herders rained hell down upon us but we did not break... or die. Our Slayers and Iron Breaker began attacking soft targets. Downing a Disciple of Khane then a Witch Elf they moved on to a Choppa. The Warrior Priest began attacking a lone Shaman in order to pressure him into healing himself rather than his teammates. Our 2 Rune Priests healed and rez'd our group with the Warrior Priest aiding with group heals.

It seemed with every one destruction member we killed 2 more would rise from his ashes. In the face of overwhelming odds what can you do... nothing but hold your ground… And hold our ground we did. After 10 minutes of this raging battle we now estimated our enemy at a full Warband. Death was imminent for our little group if something didn't happen.

At what could be described as Divine Intervention by our all mighty lord Sigmar, the Order Warband that was taking a Battle Objective rallied to our aid. From the back side of the bridge where the forces of Destruction didn't see them coming, our allies rolled in. Thirty seconds later the battle was over. Our brave Warrior Priest reclaimed his Battle Standard and our group mounted up to aid the Warband in another Keep Assault.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Is Blizzard the new Disney?

Something Blizzard Entertainment has done recently has got me thinking, is Blizzard the next Disney? Source If you think about it Blizzard is probably close to what Disney was in the 1950’s. If Disney had 11 million fans back in 1950, I’m sure they had far less in reality, and had the foresight to open up a theme park based on a cartoon then how farfetched is it for Blizzard to consider doing the same?

Blizzard is essentially an international powerhouse and easily the most recognized PC gaming developer of our day, if not ever. They boast 3 major marquee franchises; The Diablo Series, StarCraft, and Warcraft which have catapulted them to one of the premier professional gaming developers. With millions of fans and monthly paying customers worldwide what time or company is better poised to surge into the next level of entertainment?

The video game developers, fans, and community in general have gone to great strides to lift the basement dwelling middle aged jobless nerd persona that has plagued their hobby for years. With the push over the last year of Blizzard using famous stars as spokesmen for their game, video games are accepted now more than ever. It’s now okay to play video games and in general it’s almost trendy.

Could we be seeing a Theme Park based off the popular series of games Blizzard has created in our near future? I’m not sure but I don’t see any reason why not. They are in a perfect position to capitalize on their fame and success. If a video game theme park was to succeed it wouldn’t be any more shocking that a cartoon mouse theme park becoming the most visited and famous amusement park in the world...

Monday, March 23, 2009

MMO Addiction

There are many articles floating around the internet about video game addiction, more specifically MMO addiction. I’ve always sort of sat on the fence with most addictions. I believe that certain substances create a chemical need and desire in a person to crave them, like most drugs. I also believe certain people are prone to addiction, or more accurately were video games are concerned, obsession. That however doesn’t mean that I think everything that causes someone to be obsessed with it is an addiction, nor do I feel they should be labeled as such. I believe that a strong enough personal will power can overcome nearly any desire, the problem is fostering that will power.

That may come across as a rather soap box “esk” paragraph but I felt it was important to preface this topic. For better or worse I use to be addicted to EverQuest, or at the very least suffer from an unhealthy obsession. From 1999 until 2003 I played roughly 16 hours a day, now if that doesn’t scream problem I don’t know what does. To be fair my parents confronted me about the issue many times and like all addicts I had an excuse for my time on the computer. I was always explaining or rationalizing it away.

I was probably suffering from a little depression at the time. I never really thought about suicide but I did consider most of my future to be rather bleak. College wasn’t going anywhere and I had no real goals to drive me forward. It’s funny, because to this very day I remember the pebble that set the avalanche in motion. I know many people try to find purpose in tragedy and maybe that’s what I’m doing, never the less it is the point where I can say, things changed.

September 11, 2002 I logged onto my computer to check our forums around 7:30AM PST to see what was in store for that day. I noticed a post titled WTC and it asking everyone on the east coast to report in. I will spare the details of that day, as everyone knows them, but luckily our 2 guild mates that worked near the WTC weren’t hurt and the one who worked at the Pentagon was on vacation.

Over the next few months I watched the news as the United States Armed Forces began the invasion of Iraq. One of my child hood friends who was in the reserves got called up and sent in with the Marines. (He was in the Army Reserves) This is the point where I had an epiphany. My friend was going off to war while I sat at home and played video games. If he is willing to go, then why shouldn’t I be willing to go? Motivation, pride, will power, the military had the potential to give me everything I was lacking at this point in my life. I did a little research and ended up signing up for the Army Reserves as a Radio Operator.

Personal will power; I do not believe that any of my military training instilled me with will power. I believe that simply being a choice for me was enough to awaken the will power already in me. Since then I have been to Iraq and still play MMO’s. That constant desire to play video games 16-20 hours a day still exists within me; I just know how to control it now. I know that other things in life must come first and how to balance them.

I have an obsessive personality. When I was 18 I didn’t know that much about myself so I wasn’t aware of my problem. I am always focused on one thing in my life and tend to let the rest suffer. I guess in my case obsession is synonymous with addiction. People can become obsessed with video games as they can be obsessed with anything.

I don’t believe that video games caused my addiction; in fact it was probably the safest thing to be addicted to. When you look at the alternatives of drugs and alcohol I picked a safe vice which gave me a chance to overcome it before it was to self destructive. I am still an obsessive person, so I don’t understand how people can blame video games for addiction. Addiction has been around for centuries, we simply have a new outlet for it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Wii, what gaming culture needed

I am a huge fan of Nintendo as an innovative entertainment company. Every iteration of gaming consoles that comes out they always try to set themselves apart. I think I have owned nearly every system, handheld or console, that Nintendo has released… yes even the Game boy 3D. Nintendo hasn’t been the King of Consoles since the Super Nintendo, but they are still around. About 2 years ago I picked up a Nintendo Wii because I loved the idea of motion sensitive controls. The Wii nun chucks were an amazingly simple and innovative idea.

My primary use for the Nintendo Wii is now only when I’m on deployment with the Military. I’m in the Army Reserves so every couple months I go away for anywhere from one to three weeks for some random training. The Wii has replaced my laptop as my standard form of entertainment on those trips. Last summer we went so far as to bring a TV to the field to play the Wii.

The Nintendo Wii is probably one of the most approachable and user friendly consoles I have ever come across. The age ranges I have personally seen play it are what amazes me. I have played Mario Kart Wii with my 4 year old daughter who had never played any video games before to playing Guitar Hero 3 with my Battalion Chaplain while spending 3 weeks in the field. Let me tell you when my Battalion found out that we were playing Wii with our Chaplain they were all pretty jealous.

When you use the controllers for the Wii, after about 5 minutes it just feels natural. You point them like a wand, or LED Pointer, and a corresponding hand appears on the TV screen as the typical icon. As you move your controller the pointer moves. When we were growing up my sister always had a habit of leaning or shaking the controller when she played video games. Now it would seem that she has been training for the Wii for 20 years because she can frequently beat me; and I’m what you would call a gamer.

The only down side of the Wii is its lack of proper 3rd party support, by that I mean that the only people who can make a decent Nintendo Wii game is Nintendo themselves. So that leaves a very small margin of good video games out there to play on this system. The bright side is that you could pick up the Wii with Wii Sports and probably be happy with never buying another game again. It’s great at parties and just breaking up the monotony of everyday. My work has even gone so far as to have Wii Sport fit breaks 3 times a week.

With video games becoming less taboo than years past Nintendo has made a great decision with the Wii. They have created a system that applies to 4 year olds, hard core gamers, house wives and yes even Army Chaplains. Nintendo has done what many companies couldn’t do, they have made it not only acceptable to play video games but trendy. I think everyone should have a Nintendo Wii as part of their standard home entertainment package.