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Showing posts from June, 2011

A funy thing happened on the way to the tank fight

It appears that I have lost my nerve as a tank commander. When opting to limit my investment of real cash in the game to the relatively small sum of €10 I predicted that I probably wouldn't play for more than a few weeks. That prediction appears to have come through because here I am a few weeks later playing other games (finished Crysis 2 and just started Hydrophobia) and my dedication to tank warfare has shrunk from several battles every day to a few sporadic battles over the course of a week. While I predicted that I would soon lose interest in the game I am somewhat surprised at the reason why. It is not that I have gotten bored with the game. It is more that as I played more of the game I started to care more about winning and losing battles and that extra seriousness has greatly diminished my pleasure in the game. In a very real sense I have lost my nerve. I am afraid to  start a battle now in case I lose. I cannot really explain this change of heart because individual

Do cut price games devalue gaming?

[Cheating a bit here. I originally wrote this in a comment to an RPS article ] Recently I have been doing a bit of soul searching about the personal impact of the ever reducing price of gaming on the PC. It has gotten to the stage where I have grown used to and in fact come to expect that I can enjoy an endless stream premium quality gaming on my PC for , if not quite free, as close to free as makes no difference. While this is absolutely terrific on one level I have to wonder whether it actually devalues the experience of gaming in some way. We are strongly conditioned to equate the value of something to the price you pay for it. When you can get a six month old triple A game for less than a tenner, does it still feel like a triple A gaming experience? One consequence of this is that my expectations of longevity have shrunk. Ten years ago when I payed full price for Deus Ex or Homeworld I was making a major investment in gaming entertainment and I fully expected t

Free is No Longer a Unique Selling Proposition

Some years back I was tempted into playing a fairly crude mmorpg called Minion's of Mirth for the sole reason that it was free to play up to about level 20. This was back before F2P, before free trials, before the digital download revolution and weekend sales. Back then free gaming opportunities were few and far between. How things have changed. Not a week seems to go by without another major mmorpg announcing that they are transitioning to a free to play model. It's not just mmos that are affected. Digital downloads and their weekly sales now provide gamers with a never ending diet of quality gaming for buttons. The rise of free high quality flash games and mobile apps have lowered price expectations even further. Today's announcement of a major non mmorpg game: Team Fortress 2 transitioning to a free to play model is particularly significant. Of course all of these games still hope to make money either through sale of stuff in a cash shop or through advertising but th

Thank Heaven's for Mom's Basement

Interesting paper from Cunningham, Engelslatter and Ward about the effects of violent video games on violent crime . What stands out in this authoritative looking study is that rather than increasing crime violent games seem to actually decrease it as reported in Slashdot to cheers from the gaming community. This is not good news for gamers however. If you actually read the study it strongly supports the argument that violent games increase violent tendencies. It is just that people who spend a lot of time playing games don't have time to go out and commit crimes in the real world. In simplistic terms: Violent video games are breeding a nation of psychopaths but as long as they stay in Mom's basement we will be safe. As a parent who is also a committed gamer I have quite confused emotions about violence in games .  I do want the world to be a safer place and I shun violence in the real world. Yet my gaming is almost entirely based on violence . Indeed I quickly tire of non

Has Eve pulled an Allods?

The latest EVE patch brings with it an item shop full of cosmetic items. It took a little while for folks to work out how much things cost because EVE now has four different "currencies". There is good old cash, then there is ISK, then there are PLEX and now we have Aurums. The conversion rules are complicated but effectively exchange rates exist between every one of these currencies except that the only one who can get cash out is CCP.  Anyhow items in the cash shop are priced in Aurums and when you acquire those Aurum's for cash (via the intermediate stage of PLEX) it turns out that a shirt costs about €20 while a humble monocle costs almost  €50 .Cue nerd rage and when it comes to nerd rage no one does it better than EVE's hardline community . A couple of years back Allods online was widely praised during beta and had built up a growing cohort of followers who deserted almost overnight when the cash shop was opened and prices were deemed to be a rip off. Many o

World of Tanks: Why Separate US and EU Forums?

Here is the World of Tanks US Forum: Here is the  World of Tanks EU Forum: Look kind of similar don't they? So similar that I originally assumed that one was a mirror of the other but no they are completely separate forums with different logins that are linked to players game accounts.  Its the same game and the same topics come up for discussion. Diligent players keep an eye on "the other side" and copy useful posts over but why oh why do we need two sets of forums in the first place? The internet has shrunk the world to make it a smaller place but folks insist on trying to split it up again for entirely artificial reasons.  To make matters even worse the European forums are quite hard to find because Google and other search engines throw up the .com version before they get to the .eu version. Several time I have read an interesting post and wanted to comment before realising that I cannot because it is

Cryostasis: More than a game or less than a game?

I have just finished Cryostasis, Sleep of Reason a rather strange game from Ukranian developer Action Forms. It is pegged as survival horror game but I'm not so sure that is should be viewed primarily as a game at all. To my mind Cryostasis is really an interactive novel and quite a complicated one at that. The main plot is a ghostly tale of redemption set on an nuclear icebreaker entombed in the icy grip of a berg. This is overlaid with an ancient folktale  that is seemingly unconnected but parallels the events of the current storyline. As I said it is quite complex and I didn't figure it all out for myself but there is definitely a bit of "literature" going on. The main protagonist plays a scientist who struggles to survive the bitterly cold conditions. Given that you are no doubt wrapped from head to toe in several inches of thick furs and given that all that stands between you and freezing to death is the meagre heat of a few light bulbs it is hardly surprising

Game of Thrones

This: reminds me of why I love Martin's Song of Ice and Fire so much. I was also as shocked when I read the book. He can't do that can he? He just did.  Welcome to the roller coaster ride that is Ice and Fire. Thanks to  Wilhelm the Ancient Gaming Noob for pointing this out. Now if only the series would come to a channel I can actually watch on my crappy cable service.

Making the most of the World of Tanks matchmaking chart

I am still a very new player in World of Tanks with  a mere 230 battles to my name but a recent post from Zoso about the vagaries of the matchmaking system caused me to search out the full matchmaking chart. You can see it here .  Be sure to scroll down to the latest version (currently 6.4). If you locate you current tank in the left hand column and see how far the bar extends you can see the highest level battle that you are likely to be thrown into. Studying this chart confirms a suspicion I had earlier that there are certain sweet spots on the chart where you can pick a tank that is unlikely to be put up against anything it cannot handle. A level 3 tank destroyer for example will not be put into into any battle above level 5 and I know from experience that a fully equipped level 3 TD can do decent damage to any level 5 tank even heavies. If you upgrade to a level 4 tank destroyer though the level of tanks that you could face jumps by two levels  up to level 7. It seems to me

What I'm at in World of Tanks

Playing three tanks at the moment: A tier 2 Russian AT-1 tank destroyer which I love. Playing a tank destroyer is a bit like fishing - mostly its a waiting game but every so often you get lucky and haul in a bumper catch. One unexpected bonus of playing tank destroyers is that the stealth bonuses mean I am often one of the last tanks left alive. Several battles have come down to just artillery and tank destroyers left on both teams.  If you are only interested in levelling then this longevity is a disadvantage because you get to play fewer matches but I love the intriguing end game as these normally stationary beasts trundle into slow motion battle to try and capture the enemy base or hunt down the remaining defenders. A Tier 2 PzKpfw 35 (t) light tank. WoTs rating system ranks this tier 2 as less valuable than the AT-1 so I usually find myself thrown into low level matches with tiers 1 and 2 only. It is nice to be a big fish even if it is a small pool but somehow I doubt this is t

World of Tanks: Making it easy to spend real money

147 battles in and I am still having lots of fun without spending real money in World of Tanks but I decide to buy some gold anyway. Given my track record with games I am unlikely to stick with it for more than a few weeks so I decided to start small and only spend €9.99 for 2,500 Gold. I will probably spend this on crew training mostly but I may also spend a few gold rescuing some trapped experience from capped "Elite Tanks".  Of course spending such a small amount means I had to put up with a poor exchange rate. While volume discounts are understandable they are a sore point if you have already decided for very good reasons not to buy big. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the hit was not so severe. The best rate you can get is 0.33c per gold for spending €99.99 but I still managed a respectable 0.4c per gold for only spending €9.99. To be honest this makes me much more comfortable buying a small amount of gold. I don't feel ripped off and it makes it

Codemasters Hacked

Less than a week after European Lotro transferred back to Turbine Codemaster's servers were hacked. Although I had already moved all of my details are still on Codemaster's servers. Here is the email I received from them about this. Dear valued Codemasters customer, On Friday 3rd June, unauthorised entry was gained to our website. As soon as the intrusion was detected, we immediately took and associated web services offline in order to prevent any further intrusion. During the days since the attack we have conducted a thorough investigation in order to ascertain the extent and scope of the breach and have regrettably discovered that the intruder was able to gain access to the following: website Access to the Codemasters corporate website and sub-domains. DiRT 3 VIP code redemption page Access to the DiRT 3 VIP code redemption page. The Codemasters EStore We believe the following have been compromise

World of Tanks: Tank Killer fun

After spending some time in light tanks (mostly a Tier 2 PzKpfw 35) I decided to try something completely different so I got me an entry level tank destroyer the Russian AT-1. Bit of a shock to the system at first. Coming from the relative nippiness of light tanks the AT-1 moves and turns like molasses. The lack of  turret is frustrating forcing you into an awkward cycle of zoom in to shoot zoom out to turn the tank, zoom in again to shoot etc. Also despite the fact that it is also a tier 2 tank it seems to rank a grade higher than the PzKpfw 35 and gets put into matches with tiers 3 and 4 so you find yourself in matches where just about every other tank on the field is faster than you are, more manoeuvrable than you are and can kill you in an instant.  There is an up side. It wouldn't be a tank killer if it didn't have a big gun. It comes with a tier 2 gun but after a few matches you should be able to upgrade to a tier 3 76mm or even a tier 4  57 mm. These big guns turn yo

Things I have learned from World of Tanks #1

Everything every strategy game I have ever played has taught me about the advantages of "holding the high ground" is bullshit. You are far better off in a hole with your gun barrel peeping out than you are sitting pretty on top of a hill. Better yet stay on the down slope of a hill and just edge forward till you can take a shot at the guy over the crest and then reverse back down again.

World of Tanks versus Call of Duty Elite?

World of tanks is an online multiplayer first person shooter, make no mistake about it. WASD controls, mouse aiming, left mouse button to shoot,  scroll wheel to zoom, small closed maps, Two teams of 15  players each. Sure it has vehicles and sure those vehicles just happen to be tanks but this game firmly belong to the FPS school and bears relatively little relation to the click to target open world model of mmorpgs ...except that it has a cash shop ... and serious players can pay a monthly sub for premium access ...  and shock horror, people who pay more money get game changing perks like better ammo and heals as well as the ability to progress much faster. So why is World of Tanks getting so much love when Activision's proposed addition of a subscription service to Call of Duty is getting so much abuse? Putting aside emotional arguments based on a dislike of "Big Gaming" in general and Bobby Kotick in particular  I can think of a couple of key differences: 1. The

First Post Brilliance

Top Marks to a poster called Simon for nailing GOG's mini review competition on Rock Paper Shotgun in the very first post.  The competition requires a short (<100 words) witty review of any game. Simon's contribution: Half Life - Its quite slow, you start on a train and nothing much happens. I played it for 3 minutes then uninstalled it, Probably the best train passenger simulator out there but its a bit of a niche market. Two stars. Well played sir. Well played.   

Is grown up fantasy and science fiction making a comeback?

Another interesting observation from my visit to the local library last night is that the shelf space dedicated to fantasy and science fiction is growing. I have also noticed the same thing happening in my local bookshops. A few years back I was concerned to see that  my favourite genre seemd to have fallen out of favour and what little shelf space was dedicated to fantasy was given over almost entirely to Harry Potter and the deluge of Teenage Vampire novels. While some of the young adult stuff is very good I don't want to spend the rest of my life reading about teenagers so it is very refreshing to see George Martin, Ian Banks, Alastair Reynolds and their ilk being displayed prominently again and pushed heavily. Patrick Rothfuss appears to be the current ascending star and I am half way through "The Name of The Wind" myself. Perhaps the millions who grew up on Harry Potter have grown up and are looking for more mature fantasy? PS. Originally the post title referre

Thoughts on visiting a lending library

I brought my kids to the local lending library last night and I was struck by how wonderful it is to stroll through aisles of books. Seeing them, touching them, smelling them and browsing through them. I have been something of an e-book evangelist for the last few months so it was a grounding experience to be reminded just how much pleasure can be got from physical books. Apart from the tactile sensuality of it all I was also struck by how much better the browsing and selection process is with physical books than with the crude tools that online booksellers have managed to come up with to date. Choosing books online is a narrowly focussed activity. I tend to know exactly what I want before I start and the search tools quickly (or not so quickly in some cases) bring me to it. Browsing physical books on shelves is a much more open experience tempting one to pick up and read the most unlikely titles. Last night for example, among my usual selection of Fantasy and SF novels I also borrow