Sunday, December 28, 2008

Affordable Gaming.

Gaming needs to be affordable in order to be enjoyed. Certainly, BF:H is a step in the right direction. Free! It does not get much more affordable than that. Steam is also running some excellent sales right now- Bioshock for $4.99.

It seems, especially in the console world, too many games are priced at $39.99 or more! Many games are $49.99. At 100 hours of play time, that is still a good value, but unfortunately for many gamers, it is still out of reach. More games would sell and be played and enjoyed at lower prices, like $29.99.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Long time no post.

Well, it has been a rather long time since my last post. I'm currently occupied by the Z competition which requires a substantial investment of time thru December. Good news! We are getting another patch. 1.51 will be coming along (eventually) with a new map! A new patch and a new map! You can read all about it at TGN:

http://www.totalgamingnetwork.com/page.php?do=dicevisit

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kongai

I've been taking a bit of a break from 2142 to play some Kongai. It is a very fun game. It reminds me a bit of magic. I find that the players are generally fairly friendly, though at times it gets a bit heated. The Kongai game includes an in match chat mode which is usually very fun. You can have small conversations. The game itself is a bit like magic. The game has some strange quirks that frustrate and confuse people at times, but overall is social and fun.

A few things need to be corrected. The new players are at an extreme disadvantage and there is little in the way of tutorials on the game. The noobs, like myself, tend to lose a lot of rounds just figuring a way around the game. The directions are somewhat skeletal and some of the necessary information may seem a bit arcane. They should create a lobby for level 1 players to learn to fight amongst themselves. New players do not have very many cards and the only way to really get started is to play with random all card decks. It takes forever to get a card. Given the 3% chance to get a card, getting cards is actually quite a feat.

Definitely a game worth spending time on.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Scratch and Kongregate.

So Scratch is really really cool as a tool goes. Not the most efficient, but really an easy programming tool. I like it tons.

Kongregate is less accessible on the programming side, but the revenue sharing model and community orientation (Facebook with flash games) means it's pretty cool.

Both of these things are winners.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Forum Banning.

THE EA FORUM ISSUE.

GAMECYTE's TAKE:

http://www.gamecyte.com/rumor-quash-ea-will-not-ban-flagrant-forumites-from-playing-games

TGN TAKE:

http://www.totalgamingnetwork.com/main/showthread.php?t=179533

GamePolitics take:
http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/10/30/report-bad-behavior-ea-forums-will-lock-you-out-game-you-bought

My take based on the 2142 situation is that the EATOS does apply, but because EA splits everything into a thousand separate steps, it seems unlikely that a player will be "cross" banned.

The forums themselves are a bit rough and tumble- wild west style. Most of the time, people go way over the top on them. Most people who spend a bit of time in the forums quickly realize that it is not always the "friendliest" of places. This appears be covered under rule 10 of the EA online TOS.

Unfortunately, the forums themselves are not well organized. For starters, in the 2142 forum, the search function does not work. The forum threads disappear after 90 days leaving no room for collective knowledge. Meanwhile, the "new" people are constantly tripping up against the "old" people in heated exchanges.

In any case, if EA begins to close player accounts based on forum postings, it may be the first step towards closing the forums as people will not want to risk participation. On the other hand, given the hostility that players can sometimes needlessly experience in the forums and the negative impressions they leave gamers, this whole thing might just be a "shot across the bow" to reel in some of the worst offenders.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Console overloads.

Players are currently trying to hunt for server rules and figure out which servers ban the console shield overload and which allow it. It's Easter in October. Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BF:H

The latest version of PCGAMER indicates that BF:H is looking good, but that it will not have VOIP...hmmmm...odd...

Anyway, it looks like DICE is going to try to go for more player feedback in supporting its title. That will be interesting. I know not every idea I have had is a good one. Oh well, I think it will be fun anyway.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reasons why 2142 still rules.

There are some very simple features in Battlefield 2142 that it may it an exceptional game for team play and enhance the overall playing environment.

Here are just a few to highlight:

The maps are well thought out and balanced. There were problems with some things like the APC wall glitching on Fall of Berlin, but these problems have been solved. Most of the maps are pretty well balanced and both teams have even odds. Once in a while, if a server goes infantry only, it does throw play balance off a bit. But in vanilla modes, the maps are great.

Reviving. A lot of FPS games do not allow for reviving. Reviving really adds a lot of positive dimensions to the game. It keeps play flowing. It encourages squads to stick together. Accidents happen, and sometimes you tk someone, a freak car accident and so forth. Reviving can undo the damage and restore some good will between players.

Tagging. Not a feature in 2142 and for good reason. Most tags are fairly tasteless. A few stock tags can be fun. Unfortunately, the disadvantages of tagging outweigh the advantages and no tagging is probably the right call.

Vehicles and large maps. When straying from 2142, the first thing one notices in most other games is an absence of vehicles and closet sized maps. Initially, the closets feel okay, but you quickly miss vehicle combat and large open spaces. BF2142 has a nice sandbox that keeps you coming back.

Accurate weapons and hit boxes. Some games have no cross hairs and no hit boxes. That just leads to unnecessary pain in trying to get the job done. Also, the recoil in some games is ridiculously complicated.

Squad and commander modes. The commander mode is by far and away the oddest attempt at adding to online play. Still it works and makes things very interesting.

Easy to distinguish opponents. Believe it or not, some games make it hard to tell friend from foe. While this may add to the "realism" it does not generally heighten gaming experiences. People end up getting all upset at accidental tks. In 2142, players can readily distinguish from friend or foe, avoiding many unnecessary tks.

That's it for now. Sure there's more to enjoy, but just wanted to say a few things about 2142.

Gaming Value.

Half Life 2 went on sale for $4.99 this weekend. The title was admittedly a bit old, but $4.99 is an incredible value. Tons of mods for the thing too. Unbelievable. I often feel a good old title is much better than a technically superior weaker title. Some of the new titles have lots of flash, but aren't very playable or good. Seems like there are really good values out there.

Of course, Battlefield 2142 is only $10. Not sure which title will be first free franchise Battlefield game, BFH or 2142. Definitely an exceptional value and in these times people need value for their entertainment dollar.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pilum rule still causing problems.

I had to send a follow up letter to DICE regarding the titan shields issue. At first, I should just say that I think DICE's decision to leave it up to the individual servers is the right decision. There was indication in the original Prima guides that consoles 1 and 2 extended shields up to corridors 3 and 4. It implies that you must destroy the consoles, but does not say how. Moreover, the book itself, while helpful is not necessarily controlling because some of the information is dated.

More to the point, the current ruling allows servers to decide for themselves whether or not to allow this tactic. This seems to give the greatest amount of freedom and control to players and administrators. Anyone who wants to play this way, can find servers that allow it, anyone who does not want to play this way can find servers that prohibit it. It allows people the freedom to play as they want to.

Unfortunately, there have been allegations about the veracity of the emails I produced. I took a screenshot of the emails and posted them online. Apparently, this is still not enough for some people. That is too bad, but I do not want this to be about me so I sent the following email to Dice asking them to make an official posting. I feel bad to bother them about this again, but see no other recourse to trying to resolve this matter. Here's what I wrote:

I hate to bother you with this, but it seems that you probably need to make an official statement on your website regarding the use of pilums to overload the shields of consoles 1 & 2. Players are not going to take my word for it. I would recommend something like this:

"During a titan assault, the method of destroying consoles 1 and 2 by overloading the shields in corridors 3 and 4, e.g. with a pilum, is not a glitch. It is a tactic. Unless the tactic is specifically prohibited by an individual server, it is allowed. Individual servers may choose to prohibit the tactic. As with any prohibition, it must be stated clearly on the splash load screen and in game scroll to properly notify players of the rule."

Thanks

***

Now I'll have to wait for a reply.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What is the most noobtacular play?

Is it bailing out of a transport without warning or is it prematurely getting out of a walker and handing it over to the other team? Or is there some other noobtacular move?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Doug Lowenstein's Letter.

There is some controversy over Doug Lowenstein's letter, in which he claims the gaming press made Jack Thompson what he is. That question is debatable, but the old skool of organizing did involve creating enemies and organizing people around enemies. This method of organizing politics is probably unhealthy. It is ironic, however, that the very techniques that Thompson himself employed (the creation of a strawman target, via video games in a cultural war), would themselves be the techniques that took him down. But a fair question remains whether anyone is better off as a result of this sordid political theater.

One thing is for sure, Lowenstein's suggestion not to gloat or promote Thompson seems wise to me. I also think that Jack Thompson will be back, but more uncontrollable than ever, now that a measure of control (his bar license has been removed). I'm filing this all under be careful what you wish for.

The real challenges facing video games remain.

The Chickenhawks.

There are clans, we'll call them Chickenhawks, which embody the kind of hypocrisy that can there is only one word that befits them: Chickenhawks. Chickenhawks will promote anticheat measures while engaging in other forms of deviant online social play such as bullying, ignoring legitimate aspects of play, and engaging in otherwise cowardly play that typifies the leadership of someone who might run an insurance company by modern wall street standards.

You know who you are.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Call me Snake.

Late last night, I had the best of times and the worst of times on the Battlefield. My problems began on Operation Shingle. I just logged in and was not really focused so I began to get owned. Since its a conquest map, and I had lost focus, I figured, I'd find a safe place to sit it out rather than cost the team valuable tickets. Sometimes, it is better to be MIA than contribute. Fortunately, the round came to a quick close.

The next round, I figured I'd try my hand at commanding since it would allow me to regain some focus. I had a well stocked team, 4 squads and at least one man squad (full 6). It was Cerebre landing. I was a bit suspect at the fact that the ticket bleed continued until we capped 2 points, as it is traditionally a one point bleed. No matter by the time we took the first two control points, we were down by 30 tickets. We soldiered on. It was clear that victory could probably only be achieved if we capped all the points. Exercising patience and discipline, the team slowly captured the points. We took the comm center and then began to work down. (This is really the only hope if you can't win on tickets on that map.) I regularly notified my team as to movements and dropped as many UAV's as possible.

Every time a walker appeared, I quickly notified my team. I kept it surrounded by motion mines and would even sit in the second seat (gunner's chair) rather than let it go unoccupied. A few times I walked it up to the front and let another soldier take it.

Towards the end of the round, we were losing 30-50 when we made the last push for the final control point- the church. All squads were ordered to move in. I dropped a UAV. The walker spawned. I did a quick sat track and saw a stray was moving towards Office Ruins. I spotted out the stray, dropped an orbital in their general direction, jumped into the walker and joined the rush on the Church.

A soldier moved back towards Office ruins to pick up the stray. The rest of the squads turned the Church's flag point to grey by the time I got the walker to the front. I switched to gun seat two. Motion mines lay in my path. I blasted a few rounds into some EU troops while the battle raged on around me. An orbital was incoming on my position, so I quickly dropped a supply near the walker. Wasn't sure whether the walker I was in would live or die. The screams of the orbital screamed in the background as the warning siren blared as a reminder of the mines in my path. It was insane.

The team took Church and swept up the remaining resistance. When it was over, we had 13 tickets left and they had 40. I exited the walker and initiated a sat track. One straggling hold out remained. He retreated to our uncap where I spotted him out for my team. Their tickets began to bleed. Eventually, we hunted him down and ended the match.

It was long, it was bloody, but it was over and we won.

That's the rush we all play for.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sandviches not cookies.

So anyway, the solution to the TF2 cookie problem appears to be sandviches. No seriously, changing the IE settings to block all cookies appears to work.

IN OTHER NEWS:

DICE is planning on a winter release of BF2 patch. This is very exciting because they think they have a way of dealing with ID spoofing and suggest they may have a handle on some of the aimbotting problems. Time will tell, but at least they are trying.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Team Fortress 2 and cookies.

My game machine is "isolated" from the internet. A single cookie will create conflicts with BF2142. I no longer use that machine for surfing the internet, I use a separate laptop for that. Unfortunately, I get cookies playing TF2. I'm not sure if it is the Steam store pop ups, or the splash loaders in game but a cookie always gets installed when I play. This means I only play TF2 in spells, realizing I will have to waste time and energy cleaning my machine after each session. This curtails my regular playing of the game.

Please get rid of the cookies!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

FNFF

Another FNFF will take place. This one will be on the ZU Custom map server. Should be a great opportunity to test some of the custom maps. Already people are worried about the BattleAxe remake (as they should be). But we will give things a chance and see how they go...

The debate over accessories has re-emerged on the forums. There is a long standing question about the use of on-the-fli dpi or "boards" versus macros. In 2142, the longstanding rule has been that accessories are allowed, but macros are not. People may prefer to use a board, such as the well designed N52, to enhance their gaming experience. Some advocate the "slide" rule approach of using a traditional keyboard. As flexible as a keyboard is, there is nothing wrong with using a specialized input device that improves user interaction with the gaming environment.

The Spore launch went off with a bit of controversy over the DRM system implemented. People are upset over the invasive nature of the DRM. As someone who remembers the pirate wars during the Amiga days, let me just say both sides have legitimate positions. The manufacturers need to be compensated and want to protect their product. The legitimate gamer does not want invasive software systems installed on their games. The affordability of the title will probably do more to stem the flow of piracy than DRM systems. Again, Heroes will be a foray into new revenue models.

The Amiga piracy wars of 1990 proved two things. The use of hardware keys and toggles and invasive techniques was not well received by the consumer and may have accelerated the decline of the Amiga. Widespread piracy ultimately killed the platform by cutting off the lifeblood.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spore launch tomorrow.

Well the stats have not been updating on 2142. This is irking many players. On the one hand, at least people aren't wasting their time conforming their play styles to earn awards, on the other hand, people are upset about the absence of working stats. I guess most people want things to work as they are supposed too, even though they will complain endlessly about the award whores and stat padders.


In other news, EA is launching SPORE tomorrow. You may have heard about it. Supposed to be big and creative and good. Based on the pre-launch hype machine and the buzz surrounding Spore, it looks like it will be a successful launch.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New tactic, basically approved.

Well after much grousing on the EA forums, I received an email from Barry Tingle of DICE regarding a new shield overloading tactic that is allowed depending on the server administrator.

Basically, you can hit the shields protecting corridors 3 and 4 with a pilum and knock out consoles 1 and 2.

Here is what Barry said:

"It actually takes 14 shots on the shield to destroy the console below.

As to whether it is a legitimate tactic we will leave to the individual server administrators to decide.

After all they are attacking the Titan.

Barrie"

The good news is this will please people who want to play on servers which allow the tactic. The bad news is that servers must now make it clear that shield overloading is or is not allowed to avoid the ambiguity on each server. I'm sure this will cause a few misunderstandings at first, but eventually people will pick servers which suit there play style and admin policies will hopefully be clear on each titan server. I guess I will give it a go later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New TF2 Update.

I was on vacation for a month and a lot has changed.

To begin with, there is a new TF2 patch. The focus is on the Heavy Class. It took about 15 hours of play to get access to all the heavy unlocks. The best unlock in the new series is the sandvich. The gloves look very cool and are much cooler than the fists. The Natasha is more controversial with many people saying it wasn't much of an update. The heavy unlocks do not fundamentally alter game balance.

The new achievements for the Heavy were well thought out. In order to get the achievements, it is still necessary to alter your play style. The achievements are geared for more ordinary play, though a few are still a bit quirky. People will still find themselves unloading clips to earn awards like Heavy industry, standing next to dispensers, and trying to get kills with taunts while ubered? Okay, so the acheivements requires some alterations to ordinary play. Still there are enough "normal" achievements not to interfere too greatly with the play style.

Valve is driving its time into improving this product. The game has more levels and features than when it shipped. Many people felt it was good game to begin with. For the most part it is getting even better. Definitely geared towards gamers with busier schedules. Definitely worth checking out, especially on a free weekend.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Focus?

Several very interesting stories:

First, rumors have it that EA will enter the hardware market.

"Chris Remo, a blogger, writer and GAF regular brings us news that Electronic Arts is planning to release PCs specifically built to run Crysis Warhead. The Crysis rigs are expected to be priced from $600 to $800 approximately. This is great news for PC gamers, and for those who wrongly think that it takes a $1000 PC to run Crysis: you can now pick up a Crysis-PC and not have to worry about being able to run it."

This might be more of a licensing thing with an attempt at some standardization. Still, this seems like a bit of uncharted territory for EA. There stated goal is to find a way to make money in the PC hardware market. Not sure if hardware is the way to go. Ask Sony. Ask Sega. There are exceptions. Apple charges a huge premium for its hardware, but few are able to do that.

Meanwhile, DICE is apparently getting in the Comic book game.

"Electronic Arts and DC Comics today announced that a Mirror's Edge limited edition comic book series is planned to be released, with the first issue to be distributed this week at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Based on the upcoming game, the comic combines the talents of writer and story designer Rhianna Pratchett (also responsible for the script of the game) with artist Matthew Dow Smith. The six-part comic series will introduce readers to Faith and the Runners."

As if that is not enough, EA is now branching into Hollywood:

"Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. said Wednesday it will expand its presence in movies and television following an agreement with United Talent Agency. Under the terms of the agreement, United Talent Agency, a California-based talent and literary agency, will help the company develop a strategy for expanding into large-budget motion pictures and television."

So, we see EA entering 3 new markets at once. PC hardware market, comic books, and Hollywood. (Kind of interested in seeing the comic book.) Also, I am sick of reality tv shows that are garbage- frankly Donkey Kong and Friends looks like Shakespeare compared to the latest celebrity reality show. I have a feeling with everyone talking about "content" delivery on their set top boxes, EA figures its going to have to get into the game. I can't help but feel that focusing on doing what you do and doing it well is a better strategy, but I understand the tempetation to expand and push into new boundaries.

If EA can pull this off, great. It's just that this a lot of new turf to handle at once. At the same time the Take-Two deal is just simmering on the back burner, and EA continues to report earnings losses. It's a bit hard to figure out exactly what EA is FOCUSED on with so much going on. But it's not dull watching it all unfold.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dark Night.

The Dark Night was a pretty good film. The last two Batman films have been very good in general. There were two striking features to the film. The Joker (obviously) who was a master dissembler and personification of the irrational. I particularly liked his gravity references. He was creepy as hell. Creepy and evil. Wow.

The other thing, I really liked, though it was far more subtle, was the scene involving the exodus from Gotham. I liked it because it applied some simple principals towards a concrete problem and it worked. So the scene, if you will recall, involves people getting onto two boats to escape the city as it is under siege by the Joker and his crazy minions. People try to ferry out to avoid the problems. In this scene, the people take the first step towards saving themselves by refusing to be victims. But, the Joker rigs the two ferry's to blow up and forces the people on the two ferry's whether they want to save themselves by blowing up the other ferry. Prisoner's dilemma. Of course, after some brinksmanship, both ferry's opt not to destroy each other and refuse therefore to be executioners. Brilliant.

The other thing that has everyone in geekdom glowing is the trailer for The Watchmen. That movie looks like it is going to rock. Can't wait to see it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More TF2 Impressions.

A few notes on TF2. Been playing TF2 lately to explore it some more. It’s still a bit of a shoebox, but rather fun. Players still seem all to claim they are “badasses”. Some players are very good, mind you. Check the ego at the load screen.

Still some weirdness to the game. The game has to try to adjust each hitpoint to compensate for class imbalances or size differences. Not sure why the developer would want to go down that road instead of the more sane and simpler route Battlefield took. At least in Battlefield, your basic soldier was the same and you could simply extend the soldier options by achieving unlocks. Trying to micro balance class strengths appears much more difficult and such tailoring does cause players to either find a class too weak or claim it is op. Since all the soldiers in 2142 have the same basic attributes (though there are 3 global unlocks), the soldiers kits simply provide more options for the player too choose from and unlocks do not force the software publisher to deal with the issue of handicapping hitpoints, for example. Valve, do yourself a favor here.

Minor suggestions for TF2.

Medic Class:

Vastly improved since the original version with the new medi-gun that steals their health. It still takes too long to uber in the traditional sense. They should shave a few seconds off of the uber time. 45 seconds for an uber build would be ideal. (It should note, I barely got the uber saw unlock, so I do not know how that will effect change).

The achievements for medic class seemed harder than for engineer class. Many had prerequisites for working with other players. Although playing enough would eventually unlock all of the unlocks, some of the achievements required such an odd convergence of events that they seemed ridiculous and made one more dependent on finding the right player to attach oneself to. In the end, the unlocks will be achieved by earning the practical multiplayer ones and the grinding of heal points for most players, but it will take time.

Engineer Class.

Still too much baby sitting of the sentry. One minor complaint is that it takes 200 pieces of metal to upgrade a sentry. The most you can carry is 200 pieces. If the sentry fires a few shots, you will reload the sentry or repair it prior to upgrading it. This often leaves you a few metal short of the next upgrade. There are a few possible solutions. The simplest solution is to reduce the upgrade cost to 190 (you might still find yourself short metal on occasion, but it will not be for ammo drops). Valve can make the ammo reload not require metal (patently unrealistic, but still a minor fix). Valve can make the sentry reload slowly over time so that you cannot waste metal on this. Still have the problem of “minor repair”. If the sentry became self-reloading (slow rate) and self-repairing (slow rate), it might make engineer’s sentry OP. Another solution might be to have a way for the engineer to self reload at a small rate. Unrealistic, perhaps, and would reduce the need for ammo runs and dispensers. Another solution is to provide engineer with more metal. Booster metal might be in the form of patch metal and an ammo bag. (Effectively increase the amount of metal the engineer can carry to say 250). This would be helpful and seems very practical.

Heavy

Reduce the giant aiming scope to something that is decent. It makes no sense that the most “powerful class” has the poorest aim. The current scope will only encourage black dots and aimbots. Should be a bit smaller.

Pyro

Very nice. Some people complain the pyro is op, but in general very nice. The achievements were very accomplishable in short order requiring about half the time to achieve. More achievements seem to flow naturally from the game. Might want to eventually have an acid thrower, so that they can fight underwater.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A trip through the wayback machine.

Midway Manufacturing Co. v. Artic International, Inc., 547 F. Supp. 999 (N.D. Ill. 1982)

Here is how the courts see playing a video game:

"Playing a video game is more like changing channels on a television than it is like writing a novel or painting a picture. The player of a video game does not have control over the sequence of images that appears on the video game screen. He cannot create any sequence he wants out of the images stored on the game's circuit boards. The most he can do is choose one of the limited number of sequences the game allows him to choose. He is unlike a writer or a painter because the video game in effect writes the sentences and paints the painting for him; he merely chooses one of the sentences stored in its memory, one of the paintings stored in its collection."

So, I've spent thousands of hours figuring out how the remote works...But of course that is so unlike the practice of law where people are artists. It is not like judges or lawyers have a limited number of sequences that the game allows them to choose (precedent). Imagine the absurdity of saying "A judge is unlike a painter; the judge merely chooses one of the sentences stored in precedent, one of the holdings stored in its collection..."

As comical as that is, the case may be relevant to the Wow Glider cases as it goes on to note in dicta:

"Speeded-up games end sooner than normal games and consequently if players are willing to pay an additional price-per-minute in exchange for the challenge and excitement of a faster game, licensees will take in greater total revenues. Video game copyright owners would undoubtedly like to lay their hands on some of that extra revenue and therefore it cannot be assumed that licensees are implicitly authorized to use speeded-up circuit boards in the machines plaintiff supplies."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Really?

New Battlefield Heroes attempts the impossible:

"The marketing guys love to come up with snappy titles for market segments. The market segment they came up with for us was 'frustrated restricteds'—people who really want to play full games, and aspire to be gamers," said Cousins. While this sounds like a fairly negative term, it's actually used to describe the fact that DICE's target audience is limited by a lack of some sort of resource, whether it's time, skill, or money."

I can understand making up for a lack of money. If people simply use better rigs to gain an advantage, it is a barrier to others playing and reduces the validity of the scores. I know that when I upgraded from my AMD XP1700 to an AMD XP3000 playing Battlefield was easier. That does not mean I have more skill, it just means my game works. Money has always been an issue in gaming, so I'm glad to see Heroes try to do something about that by not requiring the latest hardware.

Time. Again, I enjoy investing time in learning games. Nevertheless, having a game like TF2 which is pick up and go and has a lower "learning" curve is nice for a lot of players. So, it makes sense in a busy world to try to make up for time problems.

Skill. It's here where I am going to have ask a serious question. If you don't have skill, how do you play? I mean some games may require less skill than others, but a lack of skill? I'm hoping what they mean is that the game has intuitive controls and a well tuned hit box. Hopefully, it still requires a high degree of skill but is easy to control and understand. We will soon see.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Antec CPU Cooler.

I finally broke down and bought an antec cpu super cooler. The fan I had was simply WAY too loud. It seemed to be getting louder all the time. So, after 30 minutes of work, I installed a new fan. So far, so good. It seems to run about the same temperature so far but is SOOOO much quieter. I can actually hear my squad now. It's amazing. If I walk out of the room, its like I do not even hear it anymore. Definitely a sound investment. Wish I spent the $15 months ago. Live and learn, I guess.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where or where is our heroes?

Everyone is waiting now as the first free to play shooter from Dice due for release sometime this summer. I guess that means August? BFH! BFH! BFH! As my frustration clanks a tin cup against the iron bars of what seems like an eternity of waiting.

(Note the grammar, where is our heroes, would sound correct if it were written where is Battlefield Heroes? Yet, it sounds wrong as it is written. One would think it would be where are our heroes, but it is a single game.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blizzard snows MDY

According to VirtuallyBlind, MDY lost a summary judgment motion and Blizzard has won an early victory in its case against the Gliders.

Too early to tell how this will all pan out. What we do know, however, is what's at issue: MONEY.

You see, if players feel that the cheaters are ranking up without really working by "gliding" then the perceived value of playing is reduced and people will stop playing and Blizzard will lose money. At the same time, Blizzard's model is based on a time is money model which means they constantly have to keep people playing, preferably for a long time.

In 2142, for example, they added a lot of silly unlocks which should almost have been given out of the gate. In other cases, they added new awards and new unlocks to keep people playing. In the long term, as we shift to the ad revenue model, the metrics of game playing will be very important. If I can play a game by leaving my computer on while I'm outside gardening and rank up, I won't see the in game ad. Likewise, if a program has the ability to speed up my ranking and I'm subscription based, then that might REDUCE my play time and cost Blizzard money. In other words, if Blizzard is calculating its revenue based on my perceived playing time, a third party device which accelerates my advancement costs Blizzard real money. So lets not forget what this case is all about.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sony's Show.

So far, its been fairly good. Sony continues to press the issue of its successful history and make the pitch to be patient for returns on the PS3. Unfortunately for Sony, HOME is not released but again they asked for more patience. Meanwhile, the Sony "store" seems functional. Uh huh.

Anyway, once again they are emphasizing content distribution via the internet, which as far as I know, I already have.

Now the PS3 remains a great machine on the hardware side and some of the titles look awesome. Unfortunately, being somewhat bleeding edge, Sony has lost a boat load of money and the studios have to sink enormous production costs into making money on the system. So Sony keeps saying, 10 year plan. Okay- 10 year plan. But then at what point in the 10 year plan do I buy? And what happens when Microsoft or Nintendo (maybe on 5 year plans) say, new hardware and next generation console? I do not think that Xbox360 will be relevant in 5 years, and I doubt PS3 will be. I could be wrong. PS3 tech is a bit more "future" proof, but again they are "bleeding edge".

Nintendo wisely tried to give us a new experience with the Wiimote and Wii sports and RE4 Wii edition positively delivered on that in a way that some of the other more gimmicky titles have not. Nintendo also avoided the problem of bleeding edge costs, but lacks the WOW graphics of a PS3 or even an Xbox360. This forces Nintendo to constantly deliver good content to keep its base happy.

Xbox360 tries to straddle the fence. Not as solid as the PS3 technically and not as innovative as the Wii, it tries to appeal to both the casual crowd and the hardcore gamer. It's more expensive than the Wii, but less expensive than PS3. It offers a good balance of gaming experiences and is slowly moving into the content delivery game. Xbox360 is going with a "home" light system that will be more advanced than Wii's Mii and Wii Parade, but probably less advanced than Sony's home. For XBOX 360, they aren't going to have to say wait and see forever, at some point, Microsoft will simply launch something, stumble as it usually does out of the gate, and eventually fix its problems.

Sony does have the ability to weather short term financial problems and given the development costs of software, studios will appreciate and benefit from a 10 year platform model. Eventually, the PS3 will arrive, but the question everyone is asking is when. Nevertheless, Sony is incredibly strategic in its moves and you cannot argue with Sony's past. If it's in a difficult spot now, it probably will not be for long. One thing, however, that the bleeding edge has messed up though is the "price point" necessary for consumer dominance.

Title Highlights:

The highlights of Sony's show for content include, Little Big Planet. I'm a big fan of anything that allows for USER created content. The title looks gorgeous and it seems that it has a sophisticated sandbox mode.

MAG. 256 online FPS very similar to battlefield series. Looks like a Battlefield contender. Can 256 be done with existing server infrastructure and pipelines? They think so. 8 man squads with dedicated command structure. A very good looking game. If it pans out, all I can say is wow! Nice to see someone is thinking big.

DC Universe Online. A real gamer and MMO fanboy plus a comic book creator is in charge of this project. If you can customize your own superhero, all I can say is AWESOME. This was actually one of the most exciting presentations if only because the enthusiasm of the presenter was genuine. As an aside, I used to play the DC Heroes RPG and thought it was a great idea, if the execution was at times a bit clunky. Here's hoping for a hero creator with this one. It has all the winning elements, now to see how it performs.

Finally, Mirror's Edge got mentioned by DICE got mentioned. Cool.

So, PS3's presentation was essentially one of reassurance with a few hints at some awesome looking titles. Given the economics of the industry, it looks like everyone will probably be celebrating well into next year...

Nintendo's Press Conference was Short.

Really short. It focused on alot of DS stuff. DS definitely getting very strong. Always has been. Trying to shift focus to the "companion". Why does everyone want to sell me an electronic companion? If I need a cookbook in the kitchen, I'll just use the interent, not a DS. Are they nuts? Everyone is trying to do everything and sometimes YOU NEED to focus what you are doing on what you do well. Sony took a short term hit when they tried to be the new Blu-ray format and forgot to launch with games. Focus people. Focus.

Press conference did not reveal much. A new "Motion-plus" accessory will apparently make the Wimote more responsive and they are shipping it with another party game title called RESORT. I'm not seeing it yet...unfortunatley, and perhaps the reason that Nintendo's press conference was so short, was that they don't demo very well. Also its strange having corportate execs smiling and prodding around playing games. If image is everything, then this press conference was nothing.

Wii Music seems a bit gimmicky, but it might work. Not sure. Well, its like everyone was wondering, where's the wii lightsaber game? Where's the next RE4 Wii Edition? Conference was a bit disappointing....Hopefully Sony will do better. Nintendo looked wooden and frozen. XBOX360 had a better show so far.

Monday, July 14, 2008

E3-Day one.

So day one of E3 got under way. It was Microsoft's day with its XBox360. They have clearly been working on getting some very exclusive titles for release. A very nice job. Some predictable things- Gears of War 2, Final Fantasy XIII, among the bigger announcements. Fallout 3 had an interesting interface. Resident Evil 5 was also demo'd. I wish they had done more than simply show the fighting scenes as RE4 was full of puzzles and videogame parodies (like the flaming barrels!) But, I understand that time was limited. Fable II looked atmospheric, but I could not exactly figure out the game itself from the demo which involved almost no actual questing or fighting.

Looks like XBox360 is trying to get into the content distribution game. Guess it will try to make an end run around Ipod. Shared viewing of "remote" movies seems like an odd idea, but I guess we've all become "nuclear" friends now, so we have old friends from around the country and world trying to stay in touch via remote experience. GH and RB both squared off which was interesting- plus the show featured a nice musical interlude which was a great break. The new live looks a bit obtuse and some of the offerings were less than amazing (I can dig up my UNO deck if I need to), but overall, 360 seems confident and strategic in its vision. XNA remains a strong point for the Xbox 360, but they have not yet demo'd anything too exciting on it. It is nice to see more of a create your world atmosphere rather than the live in ours motif that has been present for the last 20 years in computing in general. There was also some nostalgic marketing with the Galaga announcement, but I used to play Deluxe Galaga AGA on the Amiga which was a great Galaga clone...

XBOX360 seems to be selling quite well even at their price point and their early headstart has helped them weather the WII storm. Nevertheless, the WII looks like it will continue to issue a strong challenge to its competitors. In reality, the PS3 portion of E3 will probably be the most interesting as PS3 is in a tough spot.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Facelift at 1541

What’s new and exciting at 1541?!?

We’ve got a new IMAGE map. Yup. Very funny we think. Very nice.

New address:

http://1541.freehostia.com/1541K.html

An updated recruitment page, featuring elements of the Spanish inquisition in our new religion subsection. Yup. Good stuff. Good stuff.

A new section called “Your role” which talks about your role in 2142. Inspired as a counterpoint to an article on unnamed clan’s website. Elderberries. Elderberries. Very nice. Very nice.

We’ve opened up our ARCHIVES to reveal some of the insight that went into MaskedMakrel’s participation in the Wake beta (thank you SIR community for a good time) as well as some of our insights in the Operation Shingle Beta.

What hasn’t changed:

Still have helpful how to’s for noobs.

Still free.

Still have a forum feature that is as popular and visited as any state historical society.

Coming soon:

More stuff.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get Rich Playing Games.

So there is a new book I found on the internet with all kind of insider tips about the video game industry. I'm only on page 33, but it is very interesting. The book is free as an ebook, so you might want to check it out here:

http://www.getrichgaming.com/

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Culture v. Civilization

Gamers and game companies are obsessed with gaming acceptance at all levels. It is not entirely clear why. Gaming has never been fully accepted and probably never will be. Gaming, whether it is RPG gaming, or video gaming, is probably never going to be embraced by everyone. But even if it were, it would lose its meaning at precisely that time. The "casual" gamer, which is good for the industry, is not really very meaningful to the gamer. I once went into a bar where a young lady and I began discussing the Wii and Resident Evil 4. She asserted she also like video games. I asked her which game she was playing and she could not name one. This is the kind of casual acceptance of gaming which will prove meaningless. If a Wii sits in every home and is unplayed, is gaming finally mainstream? Is a gamer a gamer if a gamer never plays? People who play for 8 or more hours a day are gamers. They are hardcore. They could be doing anything with their time and choose gaming sending a message in one of two directions- that basically gaming is more important than other choices either because they prefer gaming or they don't like their other choices.

In any case, to a certain extent when gaming's acceptance is its greatest, it will itself exert the least amount of influence and no longer be an identity.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cheaters.

1UP takes a look at why we cheat.

It begins with a laugh at Sophocles- nothing like taking a dig at someone's whose works have been around for say 3,000 years. But, in truth this is a favorite topic and one which is constantly examined. The article does accurately point out that the frontier of MMO's is a lawless one at this time with plenty of problems. Someone was nice enough to point out that it is okay to cheat in single player settings, but probably not appropriate in multiplayer settings. In any case, who cares? Not much will change so long as ridiculous leaderboards are around.

TF2 redux.

On another note, I've been playing some more TF2 and would upgrade the Flare Gun unlock. It has range and with some practice, is lethal. Still prefer shotgun for short range encounters, but Flare Gun is not bad. The unlock path for Pyro was much easier than the medic. I still don't have all the medic unlocks but I have all the Pyro unlocks. So there.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Celebrating the 4th of July.

Yesterday, I enjoyed spending time with friends and family while I celebrated the 4th of July. It was a great day with perfect weather to celebrate our nation's birthday. A few guests came over for a 4th of July BBQ and then it was time for some Wii sports! Hurray! I introduced several newcomers to the Wii with Wii bowling, Wii tennis, Wii baseball, Wii boxing, and showed off other features. It was a great party unit and I think people by and large enjoyed having the Wii break.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

TF2 Pyro patch overview.

TF2 released a patch in June 2008 which allows for PYRO upgrades. The new Pyro class has an "improved" flame thrower as well as flame thrower unlocks. So far the awards have been a little easier than the medic awards. I have managed to get 2 unlocks, the flare gun and the second stage flame thrower. I am not seeing much difference with the 2nd stage flame thrower. It seems to do more damage when I strike from behind and is very effective at killing in those conditions. The flare gun on the other hand, does not seem to be very effective at all and can only be described as a gimmick. Sometimes the new and improved is not very new or improved and the first two Pyro unlocks strike me as a case of that. Here's hoping when and if I get the third unlock it will be better.

Still TF2 continues to get better with each new patch. I personally feel that Goldrush is probably the best TF2 experience there is, with Fort2 offering a fairly good experience as well.

I still prefer 2142 overall, but TF2 is getting better with each new patch.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reset

So, here's an interesting and somewhat sad note about misguided Minnesota politics. At precisely the time when every penny counts, Minnesota's foolishness has cost it $65,000.

According to Game Politics:

"The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the interests of video game publishers in the United States, has issued a press release announcing that the state of Minnesota will reimburse the industry to the tune of $65,000."


It was a bipartisian affair with stupidity all around.

Monday, June 30, 2008

21st Century blues.

Trying out Skype and so far it has been a very bumpy ride. Yes, indeed.

First, there promotion apparently ended on June 1st, but they have not apparently updated their website, so I guess they are going to bill me a larger amount. Nice. Next, they are charging me for an "online number" even though it said that was included in the subscription price in the faq. Whatever.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

YES!!!

A new patch for BF2. This is very exciting news at it represents a commitment by EA to support its titles 3 YEARS into their development! People are already speculating that the BF2142 series will get a new patch in time for its 2nd year anniversary! Long term support! It's about time- so to speak!

http://www.battlefield.ea.com/battlefield/bf/battlefieldnewsdetail.aspx?site_id=B8KOM4UD-5RHY-7JEIWHPH&storyid=23927

GAME OVER?

According to Game Politics, it looks the video game industry and the gamer community is about to suffer a setback in New York regarding regulations.

I’m not sure who the gamer community has working for them on these issues. It would be helpful if they had someone who had experience blogging, was a gamer themselves, had a basic understanding of intellectual property issues, had worked on first amendment cases in the past, had training and background as a grassroots activist and organizer, and maybe some experience in grassroots lobbying, or possibly with netroots mobilizations.

But where would they find such a person? My suspicion is that person will be fishing in Norway during the months of July and August, an application from last winter still collecting dust somewhere in Connecticut...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pen and Paper

Okay we're breaking out the pen and paper and going NERDCORE. Picked up the new copy of Dungeons and Dragons! That's right b4by, we're talking 4th Edition. I'm a bit old school since I grew up playing 1st Edition- back when the orcs were orcs and the wenches were... well you get the point. Looks like a lot has changed since the 1st Edition.

For example:

"Corellon is often depicted as an eladrin, but he is no more an eladrin than he is a fey panther- he is a god, and he transcends the physical laws that bind even angels to their concrete forms." (p.20 new players manual)

Thank the gods they cleared that up. I'm sick of all the debates. Actually, I was playing first edition through highschool, graduated, and am now trying to see what I've missed. I have no idea who Corellon even is.

I'm very excited about this new edition even though it looks a bit strange to me. Nevertheless, although I'm only 50 pages into the Player's handbook and have another 857 pages of reading to do, I'm looking forward to seeing if any of my old friends are going to walk the smack they talk and throw in for some good old fashion pen and paper gaming.

So far it's easy to read, a bit humorous, and well illustrated. I'm a bit concerned by the high price of InsideDND, the service which they are selling. Although I was hyped about possibly being able to play online with friends, the interface looks a bit primitive, and the cost is exhorbitant.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

EA admits wrong doing.

Wired: Electronic Arts done torturing studios.

It might be a while before Battlefield 3 (then again, maybe not). That might not be a bad thing, according to Wired:

"Speaking at an investors conference earlier this week, Riccitiello spoke of how EA worked its Vancouver studio to the bone having them churn out yearly updates to the Need For Speed racing series (above). The next Need For Speed game will have had a 16-month cycle and extra head count, he said, and starting with the subsequent installment in the series, it will be created by two teams on alternating two-year cycles. One game release per year, none of the agony."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Things are looking up.

Well not everything was fixed by the 1.50 patch. But I think the new patch breathed new life into things and gave players some much needed new maps! The new maps have been received with considerable controversy. Both maps have some pretty strong points though and both are worth playing. For me, I enjoy Wake Island. I wish the frame rate was a little more rock solid throughout the level, but overall its pretty good for me. It pretty much offers a total 2142 experience. It has all the vehicles, a nice layout for compressing the action, a modified titan and plenty of opportunities for air battles. (PLUS check out the awesome land bridge!). Action does get a bit compressed on the titan at times, but the open titan corridors definitely keep the action fast paced and fun. Overall, I like it.

Operation Shingle. Almost no one has anything bad to say about the map, and I'm going to say it is pretty much rock solid. Sometimes, people get camp happy and a few of the spawn points seem a bit vulnerable, but overall, a good job. People seem to like I/O style maps. I personally like having a few vehicles and think the maps have the right kind/number of vehicles in general, but I don't mind a map that emphasizes solid infantry play and Shingle does that.

There's a lot more that could be done with 2142, but this was definitely a step in the right direction.

On a more serious note, people are wondering if there will be another update. If ad revenue=more support, then I'm willing to live with a billboard now and again. So hopefully we can get even more changes made.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MAC support.

Well apparently the MAC heads are not on board with 1.50 yet as no patch was released for the Mac. What? That just seems crazy to me. I miss the MAC heads since they tended to be less experienced than the regular players.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Test driving Apple I touch.

My initial impressions are mixed. On the one had, it has a sleek design and some cool software tricks. On the other hand, everything is basically just a webpage and it seems to add nothing new to the mix. It has a limited 8GB of ram. Ipod Mini's have more memory. The WIFI is nice, but frankly, its hard to find free wifi spots in Minneapolis. The city has opted to charge for WIFI (as has the University of Minnesota, with the exception of the Dinkydome) Safari is the main interface but sometimes I get strange interferences.

The touch screen is imperfect. I played a "Battleship" ripoff which demonstrated the clunkiness of the interface. Most games are frustrating to control. Typing on the screen face is not always as simple or as easy as it should be.

The audio/visual feautures are nice. The portability is nice. It is cool to be able to carry the internet in your pocekt, unfortunately, one wonders why one could not do it with standard browsers (Firefox) or a stylus.

Ultimately, if you already have a PDA this will add nothing new. If you live in an area with a lot of WIFI hotspots or need to access the interent from your pocket, its probably handy. I'll take a closer look at it soon, but for now, I would not spend $299 for one...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pyrrhic Emmeleia

From Book VII. of Plato's laws, which contains this interesting paragraph:

"Ath. Enough of wrestling; we will now proceed to speak of other movements of the body. Such motion may be in general called dancing, and is of two kinds: one of nobler figures, imitating the honourable, the other of the more ignoble figures, imitating the mean; and of both these there are two further subdivisions. Of the serious, one kind is of those engaged in war and vehement action, and is the exercise of a noble person and a manly heart; the other exhibits a temperate soul in the enjoyment of prosperity and modest pleasures, and may be truly called and is the dance of peace. The warrior dance is different from the peaceful one, and may be rightly termed Pyrrhic; this imitates the modes of avoiding blows and missiles by dropping or giving way, or springing aside, or rising up or falling down; also the opposite postures which are those of action, as, for example, the imitation of archery and the hurling of javelins, and of all sorts of blows. And when the imitation is of brave bodies and souls, and the action is direct and muscular, giving for the most part a straight movement to the limbs of the body-that, I say, is the true sort; but the opposite is not right. In the dance of peace what we have to consider is whether a man bears himself naturally and gracefully, and after the manner of men who duly conform to the law. But before proceeding I must distinguish the dancing about which there is any doubt, from that about which there is no doubt. Which is the doubtful kind, and how are the two to be distinguished? There are dances of the Bacchic sort, both those in which, as they say, they imitate drunken men, and which are named after the Nymphs, and Pan, and Silenuses, and Satyrs; and also those in which purifications are made or mysteries celebrated-all this sort of dancing cannot be rightly defined as having either a peaceful or a warlike character, or indeed as having any meaning whatever and may, I think, be most truly described as distinct from the warlike dance, and distinct from the peaceful, and not suited for a city at all. There let it lie; and so leaving it to lie, we will proceed to the dances of war and peace, for with these we are undoubtedly concerned. Now the unwarlike muse, which honours in dance the Gods and the sons of the Gods, is entirely associated with the consciousness of prosperity; this class may be subdivided into two lesser classes, of which one is expressive of an escape from some labour or danger into good, and has greater pleasures, the other expressive of preservation and increase of former good, in which the pleasure is less exciting;-in all these cases, every man when the pleasure is greater, moves his body more, and less when the pleasure is less; and, again, if he be more orderly and has learned courage from discipline he waves less, but if he be a coward, and has no training or self-control, he makes greater and more violent movements, and in general when he is speaking or singing he is not altogether able to keep his body still; and so out of the imitation of words in gestures the whole art of dancing has arisen. And in these various kinds of imitation one man moves in an orderly, another in a disorderly manner; and as the ancients may be observed to have given many names which are according to nature and deserving of praise, so there is an excellent one which they have given to the dances of men who in their times of prosperity are moderate in their pleasures-the giver of names, whoever he was, assigned to them a very true, and poetical, and rational name, when he called them Emmeleiai, or dances of order, thus establishing two kinds of dances of the nobler sort, the dance of war which he called the Pyrrhic, and the dance of peace which he called Emmeleia, or the dance of order; giving to each their appropriate and becoming name. These things the legislator should indicate in general outline, and the guardian of the law should enquire into them and search them out, combining dancing with music, and assigning to the several sacrificial feasts that which is suitable to them; and when he has consecrated all of them in due order, he shall for the future change nothing, whether of dance or song. Thenceforward the city and the citizens shall continue to have the same pleasures, themselves being as far as possible alike, and shall live well and happily."

Monday, May 19, 2008

NEW WAKE MAP COMPLETE.

It was a crazy week of testing the map and making changes over at the SIR community. They were busy working all the way through the deadline which was today.

There were fixes, then new problems, then new fixes, then new problems. In any case, it was a crazy crazy time. But everyone who put time into working on that project deserves a lot of thanks and I can't wait to play Wake Island as well as the new Operation Shingle.

Hopefully, DICE was keeping up on the fixes for the patches.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Waiting to get a sneak peak at the final WAKE!

Well it should be very exciting as we are waiting to get a sneak peak at the final version of Wake Island. It's 1:00 a.m. here and the Sir Community is trying to upload a final copy of the map for testing. Frankly, I am a bit tired, but would like to see the changes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors.

We have the rumors that one of the new maps is going to be Wake Island. Some people are speculating that it will be a modified titan/conquest blend in which one side defends a titan and the other side defends the island. We will just have to wait and see. Who would guess that Wake Island would suffer nearly 200 years of on-again off-again war?

Friday, May 2, 2008

New Patch for 2142 Due out Shortly; TF2 patch out.

Well it has been a very bad week for fans of 2142. Unfortunately, the EA master server has gone beserk. Rumors abound, but some people think that it is due to the forthcoming patch. Well, I cannot wait for the patch.

While the trouble with the master server is still being resolved, I've taken the time to explore team fortress 2 and its new patch. There are several elements which TF2 excels at- forcing people to work together and creating community space. I still prefer 2142, but I have to admit that the new map Goldrush for TF2 is FUN! It is completely different than Fort2 in that the battle actions are compressed. Unfortunately, TF2 opted to update just the medic class updates. Like most normal people, I quickly opted to play medic class and try to get as many achievements I could. It took over two days of play, but I got my first medic unlock and the new gun was worth it. Unfortunately, some of the other achievement badges look very difficult to get.

Some people entered cheat codes to get the unlocks, but they quickly had their achievements wiped and a new patch was released to address the issue.

Moreover, TF2 vets are upset because everyone is focusing on getting the unlocks and team play has suffered. A similar problem plagued BF2142 with the NS release. I expect it will pass in time, but hope admins stop badmouthing players who are only trying to conform their playstyle to the developer's demands. Of course, team play suffers for now, but it will work itself out and new players will be turned off by negative admins.

In any case, I hope the BF2142 patch goes smoother. Also TF2 gets a free weekend this weekend! Hey Dice- why don't we have a free weekend too! Only make it two weeks after the patch to make sure all the bugs have been worked out.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Old School FPS

Phyrric Dance

Painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

GTA IV is to be released.

Although it will probably be a great game and I have no real objections to the content of the game, the GTA series is less impressive than the Battlefield series. Still an emphasis on single player gaming. Will this change with the new online features? Maybe. Unless it does, I've got a copy of Vice City which will do fine.

Here's what ABCNews is writing:

"Justin McElroy, a West Virginia-based editor at the video game blog Joystiq, was on his way to preorder the game earlier this week.

"I'm excited to play it. ... I think I'm probably like a lot of people. Fifty percent want to play the game, and 50 percent" want to interact with other gamers, McElroy said. "Buying a game at the same time as everybody else is the closest we get to a mass social experience sometimes.""

***

Really McElroy? Cause I know what a mass social experience is and it is not buying the same game at the same time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

OMG! A NEW UPDATE!

"It has been a little quiet on the Battlefield PC scene recently when it comes to what the DICE Live team has been up to. That’s because on top of dealing with cheats and server problems, we have been busy listening to you all in the community and working on a new update for Battlefield 2142. As well as making significant updates, we are bringing new content to 2142 which will bring new experiences to the Battlefield. As with Update 1.40, we will be running public beta on the update to gather your feedback so watch out for that announcement when we’ll be explaining more about the new content."

http://www.battlefield.ea.com/battlefield/bf/battlefieldnewsdetail.aspx?site_id=B8KOM4UD-5RHY-7JEIWHPH&storyid=22342

Matrix 2142

Came across this little beauty on the forums, so I had to post it here:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nemesis Stumbles.

ABCNEWS Blomberg has story on student loan debacle.

Notwithstandng the fact that this is usually a video game blog, I thought I would take time out to celebrate the downfall of a player in the student loan SCAM industry.

"First Marblehead Corp., the third- largest U.S. arranger of securities backed by student loans, tumbled as much as 39 percent after the guarantor of its loans sought bankruptcy protection."

One down, two to go. The demise of any company or enterprise in particular means a loss to ordinary people. Usually, there are a host of decent hardworking people who support there families working at said enterprises.

Nevertheless, student loan inc. needs to bite the dust.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Update on TRR player.

The TRR player in question reports that an admission that a mistake was made is likely, but that despite this there will be no reinstatement of the players stats. That is really sad.

It takes a lot of hard work to successfully earn some of the awards, unlocks, and achievements in BF2142. Some of the awards take a ridiculous amount of time and the thought they could be careless wiped is sad.

The whole thing goes to show you, people need to be more careful about making accusations and EA still needs to get its house in order as regards this whole stats issue.

Friday, March 28, 2008

TRR fights for member.

In another lonely internet campaign launched on the EA forums, TRR is trying to get the stats of one of its members reinstated. FatMooseknuckle claims he legitimately earned over 30,000 dogtags but had his account erroneously wiped. So far, TRR vows to fight the wiping and may move on to other games. Will EA look into this case? They should.

Innocent players framed?

Are hackers framing innocent players? Have innocent players been banned? Gamers want to know based on this disclosure by EVENBALANCE which was posted on March 25, 2008 at PBBANS:

"One of the recent enhancements involves our memory scanner which aggressively scans for patterns included in known cheats (public and private). A commercial hack site where we have had recent success catching their subscribers has recently staged a few demonstrations of inserting text-based patterns via certain chat-related systems such as IRC, Instant Messaging, etc. directly into the memory of computers. These are specific text patterns that we have deployed in some supported games in the recent past. It is clear that many of the demonstrators are cheat-supporters willingly participating in the demonstration, but there is evidence that some innocent players had PunkBuster violations triggered during the past few days by the hackers who sent specific text patterns into the chat programs that were open during gameplay. We are removing these text based patterns from our system and encourage admins to not ban for PB violations that occurred during the past few days."

EA structure.

I’m trying to get a better sense of EA and how it works structurally as regards the Battlefield franchise. Obviously we have the Board of Directors and the EA CEO, then below that we have the appropriate division, EA GAMES, and then we get down to more Dice Specific stuff.

The highest contact I was able to ascertain was Patrick Soderlund who was last listed as the EA Dice Manager.

Board of Directors

Leonard S. Coleman – Director
Gary M. Kusin – Director
Gregory B. Maffei – Director
Timothy Mott – Director
Vivek Paul – Director
Lawrence F. Probst III - Chairman of the Board
John Riccitiello – Director
Richard A. Simonson – Director
Linda J. Srere - Director

Stockholder emails:

StockholderCommunications@EA.com StockholderCommunications@EA.com
(will be screened by secretary to make sure it has to do with stockholder communication and not customer support).

EA

John Riccitiello- C.E.O.

Email address unknown.

EA GAMES:

Frank Gibeau.

Email address unknown

EA DICE MANAGER

patrick.soderlund@dice.se

BF2124 COMMUNITY MANAGER

Colin.Clarke@dice.se

GENERAL INQUIRIES

Diceinfo@ea.com

The new reorganization may not help DICE as Dice presumably must stand alone for its budget apart from the lucrative EA Sports Divisions.

Also the email contact information is hard to find for people above a certain level.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Battlefield Director Released.

SIR community releases new improved Battlefield Director

While I have been using FRAPS, there is a new version of a tool for people interested in creating battlefield fan videos:

"BattleDirector is an application for Battlefield movie directors. It streamlines the moviemaking process by allowing filmmakers to go from BFR to AVI in simple steps. The simple GUI provides all the tools you need with one-click access."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I can finally get some sleep.

In space, no need to get boomerang - UPI.com

According to the article:

"A Japanese astronaut has shown a boomerang will return when you throw it in outer space, much like it does on on gravity-bound Earth."

***

Can't wait for the video.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Beer: It's what the doctor ordered.

ABCNEWS BRINGS US THE GOOD NEWS- BEER IS GOOD FOR YOU

In a story which should be filed under Homer Simpson's, "MMMMMM BEER":

"A decade's worth of health research shows that regular, moderate beer intake--one to two 12 ounce glasses per day for men and one for women--can be good for you, especially if you're facing some of the most common diseases related to aging."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Open the pod bay doors Hal.

Satellite Today :: Arthur C. Clarke Dies

The article states:

"Futurist, scientist and author Arthur C. Clarke, who described the perfect orbit for communications satellites in a paper published in October 1945, died March 17 at his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka."

***

I really enjoyed 2001: A Space Odyssey, as both a book and a movie.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

MSM

Will the mainstream media investigate the netroots campaign to get an expansion pack and patches for Battlefield 2142?

It's a great question. Let us be serious for a minute. Battlefield 2142 is one of the best games produced. It is very hard to get tired of the game even though it is at times very repetitive. This makes it very unique. The fact that you can play against live players makes it more fun. It is just a game, not like life at all. We need fun in our lives though and games are fun.

What makes this story interesting is that you have all the ingredients for a good news story. You have one of the biggest players in the industry headed by a maverik reformer. EA is currently in the midst of making a hostile takeover bid of another huge gaming company, TakeTwo and is making promises that it will support their titles in the future. You have DICE which has a history of proven success and innovation, hard driven, with a storied franchise like Battlefield. You have people, ordinary gamers, like myself who are huge fans of the game. Finally, you have an NDA from a shadow organization in which leaks and rumors continue to spill out.

What more could you possibly need for a news story? If the MSM fails to pick this one up, it can only because of their obsession with strippers.

Japan appoints cartoon ambassador

Japan appoints cartoon ambassador - Yahoo! News

According to the article:

"Japan has created an unusual government post to promote animation, and named a perfect figure Wednesday to the position: a popular cartoon robot cat named Doraemon."

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's supposed to be about community

The Electric New Paper, Singapore - The Electric New Paper News

'Computer games are not about playing alone in a dodgy room, cutting the world off. We want to have people enjoying games with their families, with their friends, with people from other countries.'

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More on Maps...

At present there are rumors everywhere about the possibility of new maps. NDA's complicate the picture as shadowy testing organizations try to keep everything under wraps. In any event, the forums are a buzz with illicit screenshots, talk, and censorship. Guess we have to wait and see.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Good journalism.


"NYT pays attention to someone who changed things for the better."



New York Times prints story thats fit to print:

"GARY GYGAX died last week and the universe did not collapse. This surprises me a little bit, because he built it."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Latest info from DICE

DICE refuses to publicly commit to supporting and patching BF2142.

Eric9787, as he is known on the Battlefield2142 forums, began a lonely email campaign to get DICE to continue improving its Battlefield 2142 game.

Eric9787 described himself as an avid BF2 & BF2142 gamer who wants to see patches and updates continue to come out for the series. In his email of February 3, 2008, Eric9787 asked, “Can I, as a gamer and as an owner of BF2142, expect further expansion of the game as far as patches, support(against cheaters & illegal ranked servers), free maps & most importantly purchasable booster packs?”

According to information available on the Battlefield2142 forums, in an emailed response on February 5, 2008, Dice replied to Eric9787 “Although we cannot disclose any information about upcoming Updates and expansions at this point in time we are still working on making sure you as a player get the best possible experience when playing Battlefield 2142 and Battlefield 2.”

The response was less than satisfying to some forum trolls. XXBigBacon wrote, “What did you expect?? The response is exa(c)tly what I would have expected to get.” XXBIGBACON further wrote, “I wouldn't hold my breath. Notice they added BF2 in there as well and we all know BF2 has been supportless for awhile now.”

Others took an even bleaker view, as Morgile wrote “You can pretty much bet that no expansions are gonna come out for 2142. If they were, we'd have heard about it by now--we've heard about bad company, right?”

Despite this Eric9787 sent a second email to DICE and then a third. Eventually, Eric9789 posted about another response from DICE date March 4, 2008, “Thank you for your email and we are pleased that you enjoy playing our Battlefield titles. We also understand the frustrations of the community when it comes to new content and update announcements, unfortunately we can not announce content or updates to the community until we are fully aware that we will be able to deliver one and what that will include.”

Eric9787 decided to send another email again asking for further clarification. Refusing to give up, Eric9787 explained his actions, “Since it seems their information concerning Updates and Expansions is confidential until they announce on battlefield.com then My focus now is bringing communication skills to both sides of the group and making us players/consumers have a better data line with DICE. This is the only way to make things better.”

The community has acted and now the ball is still entirely in the hands of DICE. Will they support further expansion? For the full background on this story, you can read the posts here:

http://forums.easports.com/mboards/thread.jspa?threadID=334244&tstart=15

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

OMG! DUE THEY KNOW HOW MUCH HACKING IS GOING ON?

Make Money Playing Video Games, Kwari Is A New Online Game That Lets You Earn Cash For Winning - CBS News

I've seen post after post about hacking, glitchers, aimbots, etc... It's not every player, but it is enough to say this idea sound CRAZY!!! Here's the summary:

"Every time you hit another player you make money, but you can also lose money if you are hit by another player. You don't have to kill them just causing them damage wins you money. The health bar is your bankroll, and every shot that hits you deducts money from your account and adds it to the shooter's Game stakes can range from $0.01 to $1.00 per hit."

Bad news

D&D Co-creator is dead.

According to this article:

"On March 4, Gary Gygax died at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, after suffering two strokes in 2004 and being diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was 69. While the man may not be with us any more, the ideas that he popularized though his work on Dungeons and Dragons will guide the game world for a very long time to come. In many ways, Gary Gygax built the bridge (complete with trolls underneath and dragons flying above) that we walk across every time we play a role-playing game, whether it be with a pen and pencil, a computer, or a home console."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Please provide us with a new patch!!!

I find it very disturbing that the Fall of Berlin is full of glitches. The glitches ruin the game. I used to get lots of dogtags and pistol kills at Fall of Berlin. Now, it is infested with glitchers and wall hackers. Sadly, the only people who can really do anything about this are the designers themselves. They need to release another patch. How can a multibillion dollar corporation continue to operate so recklessly? I have nothing but the utmost respect for EA and I know that no game will ever be perfect. Still this is downright embarrassing.

IGN: Battlefield Heroes Preview

IGN: Battlefield Heroes Preview

IGN has details on the new Battlefield Heroes! Here is a summary of their article:

"Heroes is accessed through a web portal. You sign up, launch the game from there every time after, and can use the site to browse statistics."

"Advertising exists on the website and on loading screens, but not in the actual game. As far as character choice goes, you choose from Royal or National armies. From there you can choose soldier, gunner, or commando classes."

"The game is free to play, but you'll have to option to spend cash on microtransactions. "The things we sell will be determined by the opinion of the community, but we will probably start off with two types of items," says Cousins. "The first kind is purely visual items for your character – glasses, hats, boots, jackets etc. The second type of items is what we call convenience items. Let's say we have two people playing Heroes – one has lots of time on their hands and plays the game for four hours a night, leveling up their character quite quickly and unlocking new items and abilities (for free). The second player has less time on their hands as they have a kid or job. This second player can buy an item which gives him double experience points over a single weekend – so he's still playing the game, he's still building up skill and he's still unlocking the same items and abilities of free players, but he's doing it a little quicker because he's bought this item."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Virtually the same problems.

The BBC looks at life in the Habbo Hotel

It's an old story but an interesting one. According to the BBC:

"A Dutch teenager has been arrested for allegedly stealing virtual furniture from "rooms" in Habbo Hotel, a 3D social networking website. The 17-year-old is accused of stealing 4,000 euros (£2,840) worth of virtual furniture, bought with real money."

Is democracy coming to gaming?


"NYT- As Gaming Turns Social, Industry Shifts Strategies"


"At the conference Microsoft’s big push was about “democratizing” game development by letting small teams and even individuals develop casual games for the Xbox Live service. And there on the walls of Mr. Schappert’s conference room were new Xbox posters essentially identical to the theme Nintendo pioneered: shots from the front of healthy happy families and groups of young adults playing the Xbox 360. “Imitation, of course, really is the greatest form of flattery,” Mr. Fils-Aime of Nintendo said the next day."

* * *

It's funny because one of my favorite games ever was the Racing Destruction set which was published by EA. The game allowed users to create their own tracks. My friends and I would build tracks in our spare time then get together to play them. I think that, in all honesty, it was a completely social event. Now the game companies are "discovering" this fact. Well it is about time.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A fan video of the weighted companion Cube

Someone called GamerMonkey made this great little video:

Sons of Atari

Q&A WITH NOLAN BUSHNELL

Nolan Bushnell talks about gaming, past, present, and future. Here is something interesting he says:

"I feel that there is forever a need for people to socialize. Otherwise, people would never get laid and get married and the race would die out. So they have to socialize to a certain extent, and the socialization of a bar in a restaurant and things like that is the default for many people. So I felt that if we could create the game structure that helped that socialization, we'd just be better off."

***

I personally think that the online gaming has a limited degree of socialability, compared to the LAN party. In 2142, I tend to focus on the task at hand and avoid chit chat. Unless you are close to your teammates, the information over the mic will be of little use. The Battlefield is large and the tendancy to get seperated is quite apparent.

In any event, the article is worth reading.

Battlefield 3 Heroes Video Footage Released.

The upcoming FREE GAME from EA has a new trailer:

http://www.battlefield-heroes.com/video

It looks interesting. I think we are all hoping that it will be a success because free gaming is a cool idea.

Winner loses, loser wins.

The BBC reports on Cordova's long wait for justice..."

They say justice delayed is justice denied. This appears to the be the sentiments of the citizens of Cordova who had their environment destroyed by the Exxon Valdez. As the BBC reports:

"But none of the plaintiffs has received a cent because for the past 14 years Exxon Mobil has been appealing. Over the course of those appeals $5bn has been whittled down to $2.5bn. Inflation has eaten into the value of what is left and around 20% of the original plaintiffs have died. Now it is the turn of the Supreme Court in Washington to have the final say. Will it be $2.5bn or will it be nothing? There are many people in Cordova hoping and praying right now."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Portal wins 2008 GDCA

Gamasutra reports on Portal taking the top prize.".

"Valve's genre-blending first person shooter/puzzler, Portal, was the recipient of three honors including Game of the Year at the 8th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, presented at a ceremony this evening at CMP's 2008 Game Developers Conference (GDC)."

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17540

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More teenagers ignoring CDs, report says - Los Angeles Times

More teenagers ignoring CDs, report says - Los Angeles Times

"For the first time last year, nearly half of all teenagers bought no compact discs, a dramatic increase from 2006, when 38% of teens shunned such purchases, according to a new report released Tuesday."

***

I think we all know that digital delivery of digital media is the future for all things- movies, games, songs. This will probably be an improvement for the environment as we no longer deal with the plastics and packaging issue.

Still, there was something social about going to a record store with your friends and flipping through CD's occasionally finding an eye catching album cover that just screamed are you crazy enough to buy me?

I think we all know, "I download alone".

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Comcastic? No wonder I lag while playing BF2142

Comcast plays dirty - News - The Phoenix

Maybe EA/Dice is not entirely to blame for the problems that have been attributed to BF2142. Maybe I'm just the victim of a "reasonably managed network". There are so many people trying to ruin my simple gaming experience. Sigh....

Here's the best part of the article:

"Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas admits that "just like what happens at a lot of hearings in Washington," there were people paid to stand in line "to hold seats for a couple of the people we knew would be coming" with Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen. But "everyone knows that this was well-advertised and open to the public. . . . I don't know who might have been sleeping, but we told our employees about the hearing because obviously they have a strong interest in what was discussed there."

So did I. But I was left with little choice but to head home and — thanks to my Comcast high-speed Internet connection — listen to the hearing via streaming Webcast. I got to my apartment just in time to hear Marvin Ammori, general counsel for media reform group Free Press, charge that Comcast was "deliberately targeting and interfering with legal peer-to-peer technology" by blocking BitTorrent software on its network."

Obama, Clinton, Dems – Show Leadership

Obama, Clinton, Dems – Show Leadership, Make Change Happen, End the War Now. Next year, or more likely 2010, will be too late for the thousands more who will die or be maimed in Iraq - CommonDreams.org

Kevin Martin writes:

"I must confess a dirty little secret - I don’t care what presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they will do to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq if they become president next year. Thousands more Iraqis and hundreds more U.S. troops will be dead by then, and for what? I want to know what Senators Clinton and Obama are willing to do to end the war this year. Surely I’m not alone in this desire, am I?"

Overview of problems confronting online MMOFPS

Gamestudies - Tragedies of the ludic commons - understanding cooperation in multiplayer games

I have added headers, but anything in quotations come from the article.

Problem #1- The even battlefield

Cheating

“It may seem weird that a significant portion of the player base is willing to do anything to win, but that’s the reality of the situation” (Mulligan and Patrovsky 2003). When such activities take place outside the original game rules or outside the generally accepted implicit rules of a game, it would fall under most dictionary definitions of cheating.”

“When a code-savvy player modifies a client application against the explicit rules of an end-user-licence-agreement or other document his behaviour is somewhat comparable to a chess player moving his pieces into a more favourable position while the opponent is distracted.”

Exploitation

“An exploit then is an activity aimed at intentionally achieving an advantage afforded but not intended by the game design. Notably, though, the player is working within the framework of the game code and arguably cannot always determine if a certain phenomenon is intended or not.”

Consequence

“Thus, the collective good in question is the even battlefield and the social dilemma builds on the temptation to cheat. We should note however, that cheating is often not a “pure” social dilemma, since the case where “everybody does it” might just lead to an alternative game (i.e. one that is still even). Often though, it will destroy much of the game’s appeal, particularly if the game relies on carefully balanced units and game terrains such as many real-time-strategy games.”

Problem #2- Deviancy

“Deviant behaviour in multi-player games is often referred to as “grief play” (Foo and Koivisto 2004; Foo 2004). Definitions vary, but usually grief play refers to behaviour which is intentionally harmful to others without resulting in direct personal gain for the “griefer” or which seriously (and with intent) violates an implicit community rule.”

Predatory behavior

“Thus, killing an armed player character in combat is not usually considered grief play (since the killer is working within the game to maximize his score) whereas the case of a high-level warrior preying on inexperienced newbies would qualify (as this usually does not increase the high-level character’s score).”

Kill Stealing

“An example of an implicit rule violation is the phenomenon known as kill-stealing. Here, a player will make others expose themselves to danger and hardship by taking on a monster (for instance) and then - just before the monster perishes - jump into the fray and “steal the kill” by dealing the final blow thus getting experience points or other rewards.”

Teamkilling

“Many shooters, for instance, have been plagued by team killers, players who do not play the “official” game but rather see it as their goal to eliminate their team mates. For players looking for a competitive game based on skill, such behaviour is clearly destructive.”

Noncooperative Play

“Grief play can be seen as non-cooperative behaviour. The collective good in question is the enjoyable game environment and the social dilemma rests on the temptation to not spend the effort needed to maintain the value of the game. Again we see that if all caved in to the temptation the collective resource would not necessarily be destroyed. There would be no kills to steal however, and if all chose to be team-killers a Counter-Strike battle might have all the attraction of a soccer match were players did their best to place the ball in their own goal and did not care for the score assigned by the official game rules (which could be entertaining but which tellingly hasn’t emerged as a popular pastime).”

Problem #3: Irresponsible Participation

Can not see the game through

“If you choose to participate knowing that in case the game drags on you will be forced to quit at a certain point you’re arguably exposing allies and opponents to an unpleasant experience. Particularly if a game is evenly matched (and thus interesting) one player quitting will tip the balance rendering the game more or less inconsequential.”

Resigning is okay, but you’re a coward

“In an important sense there is nothing immoral about resigning. It corresponds to knocking over your king in chess. The winner of the Age of Kings battle, however, is likely to consider it a cowardly move tied to your desire to control the game (if you can’t have it exactly your way, you’re not even going to play anymore).”

Summary

“In both cases you are not cooperating to make the game entertaining and pleasant for all involved. The temptation here is towards personal gratification or mere selfishness, which runs counter to the interest of the other players. The collective good is again an enjoyable gaming environment and here it is clear that if all chose to ignore the norms for responsible participation the value of the game would be greatly diminished.”

*** My comments

These were the list of problems. At first, I wonder if this is the correct framework. There has always been the counter argument that the "good" player will not be tempted by dark circumstances and does not require policing. I also disagree with the negative characterization of the "free-rider". Based on the problems I have seen in the online world, only a sucker would pay. That is to say, some people argue that protection money should be given to companies or organizations- nevertheless, I have yet to see any real protection in those environments coming from these companies and organizations.

It seems that online play has reduced our capacity to act with confidence that people can cooperate towards a long term goal. Finally, I would only note that the tragedy of the commons is a misnomer. Why isn't it the tragedy of the individual? The problem with the frame is that it assumes there is something wrong with the commons- the lake that has the fish- rather than the individuals who fish that lake.

Overview of solutions

Gamestudies - Tragedies of the ludic commons - understanding cooperation in multiplayer games

Again, I have added the headers, and put the authors texts in quotes, but added a few comments which are denoted by the *** breaks.

Possible solutions

Police State

“The state (or government) solution has been advocated by those convinced that a powerful neutral party was a requirement for constructive social relations (e.g. Hobbes 1997 org. pub. 1651). This neutral party, the state, would eliminate the temptation to exploit the contributions of others by means of surveillance and punishment.”

The Plague

“In a capitalist system, even the selfish contribute to the general wellbeing since, as the famous example goes, the baker (wanting nothing but your money) will produce bread the purchase of which will serve your own interests.”

Democracy

“Political scientist Elinor Ostrom notes how many observers describing collective action problems wish “to invoke an image of helpless individuals caught in an inexorable process of destroying their own resources” thus ignoring the possibility of “an adequately specified theory of collective action whereby a group of principals can organize themselves voluntarily to retain the residuals of their own efforts” (Ostrom 1990). In other words, under certain conditions, people are able to govern themselves.”

“Ostrom and others have identified a number of criteria that are usually fulfilled in communities able to arrive at durable solutions. Of these a certain degree of permanence, the possibilities of monitoring the actions of other community members and the prospect of future interaction stand out as essential.”

AS APPLIED TO ONLINE GAMING

“Let us begin, however, with those solutions which correspond roughly to the government approach. Here, we are looking for instances where autonomy is surrendered to a neutral, powerful third party. Most clearly this manifests itself in the phenomenon known as PunkBuster. PunkBuster is a third-party application which is installed on the client machine. It here makes a series of checks against its database which lists symptoms of cheating and “clean” players are then able to play each other.”

***My comments
The problem with this is that those of us who have been exposed to Punkbuster know that its protections can be bypassed. In this situation, the honest player will still find themselves in the worst case scenario. That is the honest player receives nothing of benefit from the Punkbuster but increases in lag as the cheater simply bypasses the protection. This is not a solution.
***

Beyond Punkbuster

“Another perspective would stress how installing the application is a way of limiting the population of potential co-players, analogous to a company limiting its customers to those who hold a special credit card which is hard to get and highly secure. The number of transactions is bound to decrease while the quality of the remaining will be high.”

***My comments
This appears to have been the “ranked server” approach. Again, experience indicates that cheating is as high, if not higher, on ranked servers where it matters. That is on ranked servers, which presumably have to adhere to a higher standard of conduct, we see little policing and only on RANKED servers do points actually count. That is why there are ranked K&P servers. An unranked K&P server is not a rules violation, but neither is it probably heavily trafficked. Thus the ranked system actually concentrated the problem, but ineffective server enforcement lead to a systems failure.
***

Better design

“Another solution, this one available to game designers, is simply to not allow whichever concrete action types are undesired.”

Limitations

“This solution type has two caveats however. Firstly, it only works against types of behaviour which can be targeted algorithmically in a meaningful way. Since physically attacking another player in a MMORPG, is typically an attack/not-attack dichotomy it is easily blocked. Offensive language, on the other hand, can only be filtered crudely since the offensiveness of any statement is largely a matter of interpretation. Secondly, the crudeness of such limitations may impact on the game’s attraction. Certain players (indeed all players) may enjoy a certain level of PvP while not enjoying an ultra-violent newbie-threatening environment. Thus, completely stripping away PvP, while clearly stopping player-killing may also decrease the potential for enjoyable drama.”

Positive incentives

“Such features are part of a larger set of solutions which take the form of game-play mechanics or features of the game which render constructive behaviour profitable. One standard approach, used almost ritually in MMORPGs, is non-zero-sum cross-character class cooperation. Whereas a single warrior can fight monsters single-handedly and while a group of warriors can fight even larger monsters together, groups consisting of a variety of character classes are usually far more efficient in battle than the mere number of players in the group would indicate (Koivisto 2003). This clearly inspires (XP-conscious) players to group and cooperate in certain ways.”

***My comments
Could be applied to Battlefield 2142 if rankings were dependant only on team score help. Currently, you are rewarded for behavior which emphasizes individual achievement over teamwork (the Engineer repair badge gold is the stand-out example). The game requires thoughtful players to balance their own advancement with achieving team objectives. As you get more unlocks, you are more powerful to your team so you should improve your own condition. The problem occurs when you focus so exclusively on obtaining the badge to advance that you are no longer engaged in teamplay.
***

The GrapeVine

“Finally, players themselves have repeatedly introduced techniques or institutions which serve to control or diminish undesired player behaviour. One such technique, facilitated by in-game communication features or sometimes by external systems, relies on gossip. Players, through whatever media available to them, will talk about each other, particularly in cases of great emotional engagement. If, for instance, one player is a true nuisance within a strategy game - or if someone cons another MMORPG player out of precious belongings - the victims may (and often do) go out of their way to take revenge by badmouthing the transgressor on public or group chat channels. Such gossip aiming at social ostracism is sometimes formalized, as individuals or groups publicise (or share) lists of evil-doers on websites, mailing lists etc.”

Clans

“Whatever the complex set of reasons for the existence of clans, they serve functions important to the solution (or at least alleviation) of social dilemmas. Firstly, they are comparable to PunkBuster in the way that they divide the population of gamers into those who a player can trust (members of the same clan) and those he or she may not want to trust (non-members). Secondly, in the case of clans that are generally well-known or clans that have frequent dealings with another group, a clan may serve the function of institutionally verifying the trustworthiness of its members. Clan-membership is both a commitment (the member, by presumably caring about his membership, is encouraged to live up to its standards) and a signal that a larger institution vouches for him or her.”

Limitations

“Of course, the effect of a player’s clan membership on others depends entirely on the how these others perceive the clan. If it is obscure, brand new or has a tarnished reputation, flagging one’s membership is not likely to have a beneficial effect.”


***My comments
Two thoughts come to mind here. One is that clans seem to come and go. That is to say all it takes is a website. The second thing is that there is no repository for understanding what is a good clan and what is a bad clan. I once played with a clan which I could not adequately research. After a few sessions, it became clear that they were not on the level and I severed ties to the clan. You must investigate clans before joining them and the tools for such investigation are not readily apparent. More to the point, personality defects will not be apparent until you actually play with them. In any event, a clan may be no more than a den of thieves or an evil conspiracy. This still does not provide a solution for “good players”. The only thing a good player requires is other good players.
***

Rating system

“Solutions of the Slashdot or eBay type described above have not been attempted on a large scale although they would be particularly effective towards some types of grief play (mostly team-killing and similar offences) and irresponsible play. If team-killing in a team-based shooter or quitting an RTS battle early meant that other players would most likely describe their experience with a player on his profile that player might think twice before upsetting the others.”

Local control

“Structural solutions generally work by changing the payoff of behaviour types, particularly by diminishing the temptation to act destructively. But this might also be handled more dynamically and on more local scales. Consider this: Different players have different preferences and playing styles and may have different levels of risk-aversion. Some might be willing to invest in broadband, disconnect the phone and cancel all appointments while others might be interested in slightly more casual gaming. The players themselves might be allowed to configure the sanctions imposed against certain behaviour types. How much, for instance, should it cost to disconnect from an RTS game? This might be determined by the players before launching the game and individuals can seek out games according to their preferences. The group would then have influence on the rules and the severity of sanctions tailored to local needs and preferences. Both features have been identified as important to well-functioning real-life communities (Ostrom 1990).

*** My Conclusion

Find a well run server with other "good" players. NSS.

***