Thursday, June 30, 2011

WAR: Guilds

Lots of wasted potential here.

Or maybe I'm wrong?
WAR is a PvP game by definition and, as most of you know, when people contend with other people, it is more efficient to do it in numbers. I mean, that's what wars are all about. If that wasn't the case, heads of state would be going at it in the rink, head to head, mano a mano, for our viewing pleasure. Like lions or moose or bears.

However entertaining this notion might be, mankind soon realised there is strength in numbers and that was that, really. It only makes sense that, in virtual wars people try to stick together to battle it out in numbers towards the win.

In WAR, guilds are the ultimate representation of grouping for a fight. People in a Guild like each other and learn to function effectively as a team. In a game that throws man against man in competition, in even grounds, the team that uses men (and I use the term "man" loosely here) most efficiently, wins. So it would make sense that guilds were more important in this game than what they currently are.

I was bored one day so I started scribbling down some ideas on how to make Guilds in WAR more interesting and relevant.

Standard Bearers - Nowadays standard bearers are nothing more than Renown leeching facilitators. They run a bit faster, they're immune to damage for a short while,  are able to grant the enemy CC immunity and they're able to ressurrect one person once every blue moon. Even those Aqshy things in CoC (is it just me? Really?) do more than that.Why not make standard bearing more interesting and relevant? Bearing a standard in a real fight is just boooooooooooooooooring and they occupy a vital slot in a party instead of someone that could be dealing damage, preventing damage or healing hit points.

Hasty collage on the importance of standard bearers over the ages.
If you're intent on this play-as-monster thing or whatever, change standard bearing to give you useful abilites like a bellow that increases morale by a dramatic amount or one that drains it from the enemy; the bearer could yell out an order to increase damage output in detriment of self preservation or command everyone to turtle up and sacrifice dps. Something, you know? Force a SB to make vital decisions in the midst of battle; to be a leader, an inspiration. Because, as it stands, you only carry a standard out if you're pugging and want to leech a bit more renown. And I'm pretty sure standard bearers are more important in the tabletop than that.

Guild Trophies - I hear rumours that there is something in the game about guild trophies only it's not implemented. That would be nice though, wouldn't it? I'm sure anyone can conjecture about ways of gaining siad trophies (killing certain PvE bosses X times; winning X scenarios with guild only members in a party; gaining X renown in ORvR) but what would they be for? I have no idea what the original plan was, I haven't looked into the subject much, but I'm sure I can improvise something here on the fly. Let's see... maybe certain trophies could grant the guild's standard bearers with afore mentioned abilities. Other trophies could grant guild members access to store bought items like potions and talismans. Or even unlock access to new areas or dungeons where no man dares tread alon. Oh, but that would entail new content wouldn't it? Hmmm...

Bah. Doesn't matter. Again, just territory my mind wandered off to while I was bored and answering phones. I'm sure the developers could think of and... develop something better and more exciting than this. I mean, that's what they're there for, right?


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WAR: Patch Smoothie, IN PICTURES!

As in, how you put things in a blender and they get all smooth simply because they've been obliterated.

Ok, so it wasn't that bad. It wasn't good either.

I logged in on my Zealot a bit late to ask for a premade spot to try out the new sc.
'No room! There's no room!' they all shouted. I reduced myself to my own insignificance and decided to at least log on my characters which had had their careers refunded.

Decided to start with the Squig Herder as he was the one in most dire need of a little boost. I didn't expect the patch to be some life-saving miracle potion but there was potential for him to be at least a bit more impactful with his meager 33 renown ranks. Off I went, cheery as could be, off to the monolith to educate me. As I was riding the short ride to the trainers and my computer starting freezing up (because the new graphics card drivers I installed because of APB seem to not agree with WAR too much), I glanced at my action bars.

That couldn't be right. I was expecting a few abilities to be missing as I currently had no mastery points spent but... that was way too many, right? So I turn left to head to the Career Trainer first. Out of sheer curiosity, I clicked "Career Abilities" first.

Everything from rank 23 to 40 was still there. A million things ran through my mind. Oddly enough, the first thing I thought was "maybe it's my fault. Maybe I just forgot to buy everything for a year and now I'm simply being stupid". But Shoot Trough Ya, I remember using that in the Eternal Citadel the other day. And the rank 1 Morale for AP on the Squig Frenzy event. Oh, WAR. Making me doubt myself so you'll look good.

Then I thought "maybe this is working as intended. Maybe, because of the changes, they decided to reset the normal abilities as well to give you the choice to buy the new tactic or not."

But that's not how things have always worked in previous patches. They refund your Mastery and your Renown training but not the actual Career training. It felt off, somehow. So I did a /who Kill Frenzy to try and find any helpful squigsters online. When I did I asked "hi, so did they reset your career abilities too?" And he replied "yeah, because of the changes."

It wasn't just me. I sighed, relieved and proceeded with a little small talk, ready to laugh back on that turmoil of feelings I'd just gone through. "Well I just found it weird, because I'm used to Mastery and Renown resets but not all three of them." An awkward silence ensued. "Err, wait...," he said at length.

So I resorted to /advice where people made the same mistake of thinking I meant normal Mastery training. After setting the record straight the answer everybody agreed on was "that's weird". 

So I filed an appeal where I very civilly explained what had happened and how I found it "odd". I appended that I was going to make sure the same thing hadn't happened on my Magus and that's what I did.

So it was that I was expeditiously contacted by a CSR when I was on my Magus - which is in the guild - and so provided a short comical interlude for all present. Mostly because when I pressed "r" to reply to the CSR the damn thing didn't work and so I was at a loss on how to answer this yellow-type chat at first.

Yes. They paid me off. Upon returning to my SH I verified it. I was now worth 20g and 30silver. I was....

Lukewarm. That's what I was. I can't say I was dissatisfied. After all, this was not a widespread problem, a patch scourge like the unattackable keeps of '010 or the vanishing Chaos Wastes mailbox of '09 (I'm making up numbers here. I don't know dates). So I guess a quick-fix was in order. I think I understand their policy in this.

I remember when WAR cared enough for me to mention me in their monthly Herald. Now they care enough to pay me off when things go awry. It's not that I think they should've done something different but... Times sure have changed... I feel special now, alright. I get bugs all to myself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

WAR: Forever a Noob

I have decided Badunion is not a man but an entire legion.
It's the only explanation.
When I was a toddler I used to think that if I strained myself when going to the bathroom my heart may come out with the undesirables and I'd die. Although there's a bottom (*snicker*) of truth to this, I eventually learned otherwise. My point being, people evolve and better themselves. There's always room for growth and one may literally learn something new every day.

Take yesterday. Yesterday, after a weekend of leveling Drquinn, Medicine Gobbo in T1, I went back to my main in T4 and, after an embarrassingly bad run through Altdorf, we were convinced - by the last of a short line of Blackguards to inspire me - to give ToVL a go. So I grabbed my Magus and off we went.

Upon finishing the quest to open the door, Chioko, for it was he, gathered us up and whispered:
'I have a secret, you know...'
'Oh really,' we all said. 'Pray tell, oh wise Chico, what is this fabulous secret you hold?'
'Well', he said coyly, 'I know how we can manipulate what mobs we get in the fifth boss fight.'
'Why, Chico! This is wonderful news!' We all nodded approvingly and carried him on our shoulders until we got to the third boss.

'Now,' he said knowingly, 'we need to kill honored dead. You will notice they have different names like "Honored Curate" and "Honored Champion". The 10 honored dead we kill now will be the ones we'll have to fight when we get to the fifth boss.'
'OOOOOH!' was the response we all agreed upon. Because it kind of made sense. In a way. So we killed every single champion and two adepts. They seem to be the easiest ones to deal with. We were really excited about this. We all had our share of bad memories regarding the fifth boss. It is an annoying fight with a lot of randomness and the ability to control what mobs you get makes it a LOT more manageable. But if you knew about this you might have noticed a slight contradiction. Maybe not a contradiction, maybe more of an inconsistency, an untruth. A fail. We'll get to it shortly.

Dextrose killed by Aeo and company.
I've gotten much better since. Honest!

During the third boss I also learned something useful for a healer. It seems that he puts up a curse on people that makes them deal less damage and healers are supposed to cleanse it. I never knew. Honestly. But in this honesty I must also place the blame on Lil. Yes, you read me. He was the first healer I ever ran ToVL with and I never heard of this curse then. I never cleansed it (I don't even know if I can) but we never needed to to down it. Oh well. It doesn't matter. At least now I know. And I still look up to him. I think I always will.

You see, we were so excited with this third boss thing we even wiped once or twice but after we did kill it and breezed through the 4th one (which is still the same boss) we get to the 5th boss (which is still the same boss) and guess what mobs we find? Yes. Three Curates and two Occultists. Exactly the ones we didn't kill. Oh... right... So, I guess he can only use the mobs we didn't bash to a dusty pile. That kind of makes sense. More sense.

Well, now we know and, as they say:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dolce Far Niente

Another four day weekend (well, almost. I'm actually at the office today) so I'm taking another break and finishing another single player game.

I miss WAR though. Isn't that weird? I miss it truly. I miss all aspects of it. I hate loveing WAR so much, honestly. I wish I loved something cooler.

Well, I'm going to go write some more bad fiction on my old blog. No point writing it here, where all the cool kids can see it and mock me.

See ya Monday!
I've still got that Dragon/Lamp thing, unfortunately. And that desk. And that hand.
The cat is dead, though. So is the keyboard

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fable III: To Get Or Not To Get!

After the whole APB frustrating debackle, I found myself still craving for a game where I could hunt down and collect various pieces of customisable gear. WAR filled the immediate gap (although it is not that immediately gear dependable) and I was sacciated for the day after dying a chest piece a different color.

I had left the 360 on during the night after going through another one of my Demo binges. I had a lot of crap and potential gems waiting for me. One such Demo was Fable III.

I've played and finished both the previous titles but I hadn't heard anything relevant about the third one yet. Maybe that was a good thing? But, surely, if the game was awesome I would've heard so by now. That's how I ended up buying Mass Effect: I'd heard about it.

I started it up and the first impression I got was 'My GOD this is slow'. I mean, the intro sequence suffered a low FPS rate. I felt bad for not having an appropriate machine to run the game for just half a second until I remembered this is a console we're talking about. So that was disappointing. But I got past it once the introduction was done and I was allowed to move my character around. The character design is a bit more cartoonish than before but I really don't care. I didn't notice if the game had a subtitle option but I hope so because I live in a zone that suffers from a high air-traffic rate. While I can understand english dialogue perfectly without the aid of subtitles, I can't halt airplanes in mid-flight because a particularly interesting cutscene is starting.

I won't bore you with the details of how I ended up murdering what was supposedly the love of my life to save a few peasants I'd never met. I wanted some action. After a long winding hike through bat country, I finally found the light of day only to be prompted back to a cave that serves as your menu. Fine. That doesn't bother me. As long as it's fast to get there, the menu could be a damn chicken, I could care less.

The whole demo felt very Fable-y. And the main aspect that enforced this feeling was the music. You've got to hand it to Lionhead, they're loyal to their tunes. The music in Fable is unchanged since the first installment of the series and, in my opinion, this is no bad thing. The score is good enough to withstand the test of time and soothing enough to set an epic mood without intruding. Did I hear that Danny Elfman had a hand in it? Well, that would explain a great deal.

In any case, after acquiring all the possible weapon types, the demo drew to a close and I was left salivating for more. It wasn't groundbreaking and I heard it's very very short. Short to the point of being over when you start getting into it, and are then left to help prostitutes clear out their territory of competition. Meh.

I don't know. I'm completely torn. Should I buy it? It's only €30 which is half the price I'd pay if I went out and bought a new game in a box. I'm guessing it has some entertainment value but I'm also bracing for a disappointment. But is it worth me spending my money if I already am bracing for disappointment? Is there anything better out there for me to spend my €30?

Monday, June 20, 2011

APB: Reloaded Once Too Many

There was this hubbub going around APB and what good times were being had by many. Not liking being left out of the rain, I decided to have a go at it. I went about it with the angelic ingenuity of someone simply interested on something different they had heard was fun. I knew nothing about the game, its past, its present or where it might be headed. I knew it had guns and cars and that you could commit crimes or enforce the law. I didn't even know what APB stood for. I do now.

I knew I had to become a member of this 'GamersFirst' thing and that was ok. I liked their name even. Inspired confidence and fuzzy feelings. I even liked them on Facebook, for whatever its worth. The download through their client took a bit too long and I found myself looking for something to play in the meantime. Never a good omen. But I've had to reinstall WAR once or twice, no biggie, and I've also purchased things on the PS3 where if the downloading isn't excrutiatingly long you always have the installing to look forward to. I'm a pro at waiting.

A few hours later the game was ready to go. Or so I thought. Turns out there were a few patches that needed running but I was expecting that. No problem, I had to make dinner anyway.

So I come back with my eggs just in time to load up the game and enjoy the intro cinematic. The background story isn't too bad but neither is it borderline good. But it doesn't need to be. That's not why you play a game like this. Both the intro cinematic and the loading screens were appealing to me. I liked them. I've become a pro connoisseur of loading screens. They were at least more entertaining than a loading screen informing me that "Flee" is a useful skill for fleeing. Quite.

Right around the time I was done with my eggs I entered the famed character creation. I'd heard it was pretty complex and, being a fan of The Sims myself, I was quite pleased with this. The level of complexity didn't disappoint even if the hand symbol to symbolize a slider was, at first, completely lost on me (maybe more so because during the first 5 minutes there were no '+' or '-' signs anywhere but they eventually showed up). So I made what would be me if I was male and a pissed off cop and I called him Baptist. I considered calling him The Baptist but I figured the game didn't allow for spaces in the name and I didn't want to seem presumptuous.

I prepared to enter the tutorial and be completely immersed in a world of reckless gunfighting and less than proper law enforcement. I decided to fool around with the controls for a bit. I'm the proud owner of a G13 and, by God, I was going to take full advantage of this expensive tool. I needed to make a new profile because all my WAR bindings weren't helping. In fact, my WAR flooded brain wasn't helpful when I tried to move forward by pressing both mouse buttons (which resulted in me firing a shower of bullets on startled newbies). My plans of changing key bindings and whatnot were sent to the backburner when I discovered an option to import my music library. I could just picture Baptist in his custom hoody, cruising around with his custom top down listening to his custom playlist.

Punkbuster ruined all those dreams. Imagine my dismay when, 3% shy from import completion I get one of the snazzy complex GIF loading-screens telling me that Punkbuster failed to update and that this was a bad thing. My first immediate thought was "who is this Punkbuster person and why is it kicking me?" I transmited my concerns to the next desk and they promptly explained what Punkbuster was. Main thing I retained from that explanation was how WAR had used it during Beta for like a week and then discarded it completely because it raised too many issues.

My next hour was spent Googling for ways to fix this issue and I finally figured out I was going to have to update Punkbuster manually. I frowned a bit at the unprofessional looking site. It reminded me a lot of GameCopyWorld and that's never a good thing. Ok maybe I'm a little spoiled from expecting a site to look like it was designed this century.

So I swallowed my fear and downloaded their app and updated it manually. 'That should take care of that', I thought. So off I went, to clean up some grafitti. They told me I could spawn a vehicle at parkingmeters (when, in actuality, parkingmeters are more often known to despawn vehicles due to lack of payment. Hmm, so that's where they end up...) but I couldn't find a parkingmeter so I walked. Its ok. I like walking. Maybe I could get him Chun-Li like calves from all the walking. After the grafitti was clean and I was strolling back to base I finally found a parking meter. I spawned a patroler and hoped in. I immediately fumbled with the controls trying to change the tune. Meshuggah isn't really my thing. I quickly learned one thing: I did the world a favor by never getting my driver's license. I hadn't gone five meters and I'd already bumped two vehicles and killed a pedestrian. But I wasn't the lucky one. As I laughed my ass off from my incompetence I was competently sideswiped by another amateur. Further down the road some other people fumbled with the driving controls against poles, pedestrians, parkingmeters and a myriad of other things starting with the letter P.

So I slowly dragged the car around until I stumbled upon what I think was a criminal. I'm not sure. Because I couldn't kill him. I saw him, mowing down civillians like nobody's business and I was sure that someone with so little regard for simulated life had to be brought to justice. So I started firing. First of all, I didn't know what the reload button was. I only knew how to shoot because of my continuous mishaps trying to mvoe forward. So, every time I ran out of clips I just dodged behind a palm tree. The perp (teehee) crouched behind his vehicle and popped his head up to find me from time to time. This felt downright epic. If the game was about this I was so totally playing it for years. I circled one last palm tree and unloaded one entire clip right in his face. And he did the same. And nothing happened. 'Oh, maybe you can't kill anybody in the tutorial zone? Or maybe... he's not a criminul. Huh,' I pondered as I hopped away. He kept sooting at me but I wasn't going to keep wasting ammo, time and, most importantly, patience on this. I had walls to scrub down.

It was during the course of this battle that I had realised something was terribly wrong with my keybindings. I could only move right (which had mad my path through the palm trees quite predictable and fatal if the bullets had done any actual damage). It was time to fix the G13 issue for good. I tried a whole bunch of stuff even reconnecting the thing but I soon went from not being able to move left to not being able to move at all. Frustrated, I propelled my hand forward and proceeded to use the WASD on my 1337 Pro-Gaming 10€ Chinese keyboard. The WASD is green. With it I discovered that my absolute nabness in driving had something to do with my inability to swirve left unless I was in reverse. Hmm.

In the process of trying to tackle down the supposed criminal I had succeeded in losing my vehicle and I couldn't find another spawn thingy. So I walked. I walked for a very long time, dodging incoming charges from players who hadn't lost their vehicles but shouldn't be allowed to drive either. While I was walking I was thinking 'If this was WAR, I would've unlocked a title by now. Something like The Pedestrian. Yes, I'd like that.'

I finally managed to finish the tutorial and I decided to pay a visit to the Social District where I assumed any kind of character customization took place. Hours had gone by at this point but I was still positive about the game. The tutorial hadn't been bad, even if a bit anti-climatic. I know wanted to change out of my training t-shirt into something less noobish. Nothing anywhere Indicated where I might change outfit. Silly me, I thought you could change clothes from your inventory but there are special booths for it. Just like there are special booths for costumizing your vehicle, your music, your symbols. In the booth where you can change your face I discovered Baptist was not quite what I'd designed him to be. He looked less sneering badass and There's a booth for everything and the last booth I happened upon (after much Googling and 30 minutes of jumping up and down stairs) was the outfit one. It looked cool, the things you could change. But I was a noob and a poor one at that so my choices were quite limited.

After I was out of my training sweat pants I decided It was a good time to try and kill someone. For "real" this time. So I stepped out to the Waterfront. As soon as I got a whiff of fresh urban air, the game crashed. 'Ok sooo, fuck this then' I said, stretching back in my chair. I'd had enough. 'Another day perhaps,' we agreed upon shaking hands.

Another day, the very next day in fact, I woke up willing to give it another go. The G13 still wasn't working but my wrist was feeling a bit better. To the Waterfront it was. I pledged my services to an ethnically charged NPC and off I went, on foot. Things were happening, killing streaks were being had and ended by many. I stepped out and almost immediately found people shooting at each other. I wasn't grouping with anyone because I know what Pugging leads to. Now the game proposed another challenge. Since anyone can customise their character however they want, everyone looks gangsta. If everyone looks gangsta, how do you know what to kill? Well, I saw one individual with a "?symbol?" different from that shield thing and so I thought that should be it. But I emptied a few dozen clips in his direction to no avail. By the way he swaggered in my direction I could assume one of two things was about to happen: 1) he would shoot me dead with the sheer power of his ├╝beness; 2) he would stare me down, slap me in the nape and say "You twat". I wasn't having either and I logged off never to log on again.
Truth is, maybe I didn't give APB the chance it deserved. I really looked forward to it but the journey was too bumpy for me to enjoy the final reward. I don't think I'll ever pick it up again, to be honest. I couldn't even use my gaming accessory (G13) in a game supposed to consider Gamers First. Maybe I decided to play a few WAR scenarios while I figured out what to play instead and I ended up playing for some 4 hours. Guess I'll stick with what I know for now.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan

Some 6 years ago I was in Japan, marvelling at a world where I definitely didn't belong. When the time came to return to the hotel for the second or third shower of the day (you've never experienced summer until you experience a tropical summer) I'd lie in bed with my jaw slacked in awe, eyes gaping at the television screen. It was a parade of odities: weird gameshows, lots of people getting wet and to this day I wish western TV was more like that.

This one commercial caught my eye.

'I must have this!' I yelled, as I shook my boyfriend at the time by the collars. I don't much remember what happened during the next chunk of the trip right until the moment when we found ourselves in Akihabara mimicing and gesturing to people so they would point us in the direction of this my Holy Grail.

It was the early days of the Nintendo DS and I was yet to see any game that really... reeled me in. But I saw in this the potential for greatness, the addictiveness that would follow. Japan was personified in this game and, so help me God, I wasn't leaving Japan without it!

We finally found it and the game was everything I was hoping for and more. Sure, I had no idea what it was spewing out at me but the beauty of it is, I didn't need to. I knew how to recognise the words "YES" and "NO" so I knew enough to press retry when I lost a level.

And what magnificent levels! I spent around two or three years completely finishing this game and its sequel: Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii (or Osu 2 as I always called it). The sequel is the same game with different songs and that is more than enough for me.

Unfortunately the trend stuck and they were quick to create a version for us Western folk and thus was born Elite Beat Agents. I'm not a big fan of this third installment of the series. It's a bit cheesy. Sure it had more songs, most of them i knew, some of them I wish I never had. But it didn't hold a candle to the previous ones. Playing with disco MIB just doesn't do it for me.

Every now and then you'll see me going back to these two games I worked so hard for; these two games that cost me the screen of two NDSs and about 3 styluseseses. Totally worth it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Would You Do?

Watch this.

I'll explain: this woman tried to kill herself by jumping from a pole into the Tagus river. Apparently the pole wasn't high enough and she just succeeded in getting horribly bruised, humilliated and wet.

The comments section for this video is full of condescending people wondering why the people who were filming this didn't try to stop her or didn't rush over to help. Others frown upon the dude that was casually stretching his hand out from time to time in the eventuality the woman got her shit together and finally reached the small pier.

I myself enjoyed the this-did-not-just-happen-kind of 'No...' that the guy with the camera uttered and the not-so-encouraging 'you're almost there...' from a girl watching the struggling suicidee.

What would you do? Would you jump in and help her? (The water is as healthy as it looks; meaning it's not.) Would you not? Would you panic? Would you blame all those people that didn't actually help her in a significative way? My reaction upon first hearing the story was 'if she wanted to die so much that she actuallly jumped, why didn't she just resign and drown?' Does that make me cruel?

Does it make me a bad person that I don't care if I sound cruel? Does it make you a good person if you think I sound cruel? Who ultimately cares? I guess that if I thought about it enough to actually post about it, I can't be that bad. Look at me! I'm a nice girl afterall! I don't have it coming at all! XD

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Valkyria Chronicles: Buy the Game, Play the Anime

This was my first impression of the game. I first stumbled upon its demo in the PSN Store. It was free, it was Anime-ish so I got it. A few minutes later, when I was done with it, my gut hungered for more. I promptly ordered it through Amazon.

But what is it, exactly? Labeling games nowadays is a tricky business so I usually resort to an entity infinitely wiser than me for answers: Wikipedia. According to this semi-deity, VC is a Tactical Roleplaying game, a Third Person Shooter and a Real Time Strategy game. From the time I've invested in this game I think it's safe to say I'm a TRPGTPSRTS kind of girl. I never knew.

The game's setting can be said to be based on WWI (more so than WWII in most respects). It is set in Europa instead of Europe but that to me, as a Portuguese native speaker, is exactly the same. It also tries to incorporate some Norse mythology tidbits (Valkyria, Ragnarok Ragnite) but, honestly, I could hardly tell the difference. The whole Valkyria thing is vaguely impactful on the whole and it goes largely unnoticed throughout the course of this TRPGTP.... thing. You are part of the militia of the small Principality of Gallia (does this mean we're the frenchies?) that sits smackdab between the two major opposing forces, the Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation. They are both the baddies as they want to take advantage of your slender virgin body country's natural resources.

What first caused me to download it was the whole pungent smell of Anime. The game might as well be set in a Japanese high-school for all the drama involved. It is entirely cell-shaded and has no pretenses whatsoever of being realistic. The people who made it have a serious thing for pigtails. But I can look past that. The gameplay, to me, is all I could ask for.

Outside of battle you can spend money to develop weapons and armor for your squad and trade experience for battle commands and leveling up your troops. All of these facets are extremely straight-forward: you can choose which class of soldier to spend experience on and when they level up they supposedly get better, although you have no hand on how; when researching there is only a simple tree to follow for each weapon/armor type that forks three ways (at best) giving you the choice between firepower, accuracy or status changing effects.

In the battle itself you get a varying amount of Command Points, depending on the units you choose to fight with you. Certain units add to your Command pool. Each CP lets you control one unit, moving it around and attacking once in real time. That would be the FPS part.

Besides the core characters around which the FMVs revolve you get to fill up your squad with other members, each one with their own background, voices and potentials (potentials are situational bonuses or drawbacks that range from accuracy boosts from standing atop a sniping tower to hp draining caused by an allergy to dust). If you ever played a game for the Dreamcast called Skies of Arcadia you will no doubt recognise Vyse and Aika.

The more you play with certain squad members the more of their story you get to know. Their stories are chronicled (big shock huh) in one of the pages of the book. Because, yes, the wole game is one big book where you play the battles depicted in each chapter and the cutscenes are just interesting paragraphs the author added for flavor. This also means that you can review any story event you've already witnessed and that you can skip some scenes entirely if you really don't care to know a bit more. The game only forces you to go through parts that make the whole thing make sense. But you can skip the musings of a solitary confinement prisioner if you're not particularly interested. And if the battles really tickle your fancy there's a whole section of skirmish battles you can grind to your heart's content. The book also has a Weaponry tab if you want to know detailed information about fictitious weapons and vehicles and a Glossary tab, for more clues on the meaning of some terms and the history behind some prejudices.

Because the game is so Anime/Manga reminiscint (so much so that they went on to publish both Anime and Manga based on it) you have the option of listening to it all in Japanese. I wouldn't recommend it, though, as the voice actress charged with Alicia is near the most annoying thing to ever (dis)grace my ears.

The main management of the game is deciding who to bring to the field and to do what. Soldier's traits decide how well they fight with other soldiers and how they will fare faced with certain situations. Some will be fiercely hateful towards the Empire (which was modeled after a German/Russian blend from WWII whose soldiers and commander, for once, don't all speak with an English accent), others will like being around certain people. Knowing when to bring a sniper or a tank-killer can change the entire flow and outcome of a battle.

But you know what? Best thing you can do is go get the demo. The only reason I can see for someone to not like the game is them being fiercely anti-Anime. Or maybe you don't like tanks and shooting things.

Maybe I don't like you either.... Oh, who am I kidding. I love you guys.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nintendo: Dig a Hole, Dig a Hole, Dig a Hole

Thanks, it's great to be back, yall. Why, yes, I did have a relaxing four-day weekend, thank you. WAR? No I spent most of it lounging on the couch playing Valkyria Chronicles. For four days. And I'm not nearly done with it yet. Expect a post on it soon. Oh my, it seems I have a lot on my mind. I'll show you how well I can go on. I can go on as long as a pro.

I did get out of the house once (yes, once in four days) to hang out with some friends because I was ordered to because I'm not some kind of wiry haired shut-in. Yet. We played some Munchkin. I won. Totally worth it. Then, as we were all getting a bit tired of dying to inanely named monsters we pulled out the liquor and delved into our favorite subject. The history and future of the gaming industry. Fresh on our minds (at least on Mike's mind he's the one that reads Kotaku) was E3 and a few things he'd read about it. I had read a few myself, from my fellow bloggers. But the conversation was quickly dominated by the one we once loved and now regret: Nintendo.

I was never that big of a Nintendo fan myself, honestly, but one half of this conversation (their real names shall not be used but for illsutrative purposes let's call them Mike and Jay) are both avid Nintendo geeky fanboys. They wear their Nintendo t-shirts proudly. And yet they were the fiercest critics of Nintendo's bad choices in the last... decades.

It all started... well I'm not sure when it all started but I'm pretty sure Mario had something to do with it. No, thats wrong of me, I'm biased. You see, I hate Mario with a passion. If he was real I'd track him down and clubber him to a red puddle with a pipe for the irony of it. Mario made me hate side-scrollers of any kind. Mario made me hate platformers. Mario made me hate italian plumbers (at least fictitious ones). While it may not have started with Mario per se, Mario is definitely part of the problem. He represents a stale status quo from which Nintendo seems reluctant to shake free from. The problem, the main underlying problem with Nintendo's plans and dealings is wasted potential.

Remember the Gamecube? I do. I've got two of them collecting dust in the confines of the guest bedroom. The Gamecube might not have been the awesomest thing since sliced-bread but it had some amazing things that just slipped under the radar. Some people will remember the name "Eternal Darkness" and will recognise what a waste of a good franchise it was. I personally never played it but everyone I know that has only has good things to say about it. But that's all she wrote. Eternal Darkness and its potential slipped into its own namesake, never to be heard from again other than in nostalgic conversations over sips of bitter coffee. And what about the Gamecube-GBA combo? Most people don't even realize there was one but there was. Long before the PS3 and PSP business you could link your GBA to your Gamecube via cable and use the GBA as a controller with a screen. There was one amazingly good game that provided us with uncomparable amounts of three-way co-op fun. That game was Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles; a spin-off of the original franchise that revolves greatly in players playing together and helping each other (not counting Crystal Defenders... *sigh*). There were only around a couple of games that utilized this link feature though so we can only rack that one up as a failure.

And this brings us back to Doh! the Wii. The Wii itself is a landmark of wasted potential. For all its boasting of innovative gameplay with its motion reliant controling, the Wii's game library consist mainly of kiddie games that developers can't afford to port to "real" consoles. And this is what it all comes down to. I don't think the world sees the Wii as a "real console". It's more of a toy. There are no "real" games for it and it seems to me there never was (I say "none" but I know there were a tiny few). So the Wii's repertoire consists mainly of fitness and Barbie Hairdresser games, things even kids won't be caught dead playing because they see the awesome games we "grown-ups" get to play.

It seems to me that Nintendo failed to grasp the change that hit the market. When I was young people had their computer and a console. A console. When the time came to buy, you'd sit down, weigh the pros and the cons and decide which one. Nowadays, when it's time to buy you sit down and wonder which one to buy first. And with all those shiny graphics and things blowing up everywhere, would you rather be playing golf in your living room?

So we bought a Wii. It was novel, it was different and we didn't want to be left behind. We jumped the gun and onto the hype bandwagon. There was potential there, see. We saw the world trying to shift in a new direction, the industry trying to embrace a new formula. We could picture awesome swordfights taking place in our living rooms, we could already see ourselves crouching behind the couch sniping targets on the corner of the screen. Yes, we saw it in our mind's eye but none of that came true. Well sure, you can swordfight but it's closer to shaking a dead fish than actual fighting, the human body being quite adept at discovering the least energy consuming means of doing things. Swinging the remote for the console to register quickly evolved to wiggling it in the most subtle manner possible to achieve the same result. You can call it gimmicky, it's all true. In the end, it didn't prove to be as entertaining as we had all hoped. We all realised that there was a reason we were indoors playing videogames and not outside flinging a frisbee or learning to swordfight.

They failed in one other respect. For a console that aspired to become the family console, with entertainment to unite both friends and family, Nintendo sure turned a blind eye to multiplayer. Yes, you could play together with your friends if you were sharing the same physical space. You could even pack up your Mii and take it with you when you did so. But what if you couldn't go share the same space? What if you were home sick or a hermit? Pffffft, would be the unappealing sound of all your hopes and dreams of some time well spent puffing into smoke. The Wii sports no reliable internet multiplayer interface. In fact, not reliable or of any kind, as far as I know. Boo.

All the big name games that did come out for it were also available for all the other platforms with much more appealing graphics and the gameplay difference wasn't enough to make a difference. Most of the times, the difference in gameplay was just a cheap third-party accessory away. All the exclusive titles were unimpressive enough to fall a long ways short of deal-breaking. The Wii was, as stated above, a failure. Shelves in stores world-wide hold games at mind-blowingly low prices, the dust they're gathering a testimony of their unatractiveness to both kids and parents alike. Like the fat girl all prettied up for a night out on the town with her attractive friends. She's willing but they ain't biting.

Along comes E3 and with it news of a new Nintendo console. Surely they've learned from mistakes of the past. Surely they've realised that if they inovate but don't take advantage of this inovation their place among the powerhouses of console gaming is threatened. We shall see. One thing is for sure: they fail at names. Wii-U? Seriously? With Wii I couldn't help but picture a fat toddler running with scissors to his untimely demise (much like the Wii itself) and now they compound the awful name with a worse suffix. Now I picture an ambulance rushing to the scene to save Nintendo from this nasty fall down the stairs. Wii-U, Wii-U, Wii-U.

Prognosis isn't good. I'm sorry but it doesn't look like there's much we can do for them now but pray.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I am Legion. We are Many.

Nothing biblical here. Move along. Title refers simply to gamers as a community.

When I was a young girl, adults would look down on consoles and gaming with a patronizing grin. Like they would a really expensive jump rope or... those things you spun around your ankle and then lept over again and again. Lemon Twist, that's it (not to be confused with Lemon Party). My point being, games were not considered, for the most part, a very grown up thing to occupy your time with. Unless, of course, we're talking about some kind of sports game. Whole different... ball park.

My boss here at the internship was asking me how I'd spend my long weekend (Friday and Monday are both holidays) and I said I'd probably stay home and play. I didn't get into any details because he wouldn't get it. He's a "have bbq with folks, play with dog, catch the game on tv" kind of guy. He looked at me and asked 'you're staying in?!' I felt a pang of embarrassment which was quickly subdued by an overwhelming sense of pride. Here I am, part of, what seems to me to be, a massive minority that occupies their time with digital interactive entertainment, AKA, videogames.

Outdated views about what grown-up life should be like are just that: outdated. It says a lot that many of the peolpe I play with are pushing 40. In the olden days, people were lucky if they lived past 25 but things change. Way back when, women couldn't vote or show their ankles but things change. You catch my drift. The things we entertain ourselves with change as well and some people seem a bit slow on the uptake.

But others caught on early and made a pretty penny by starting to mature the games as their target audience matured as well. It's my genuine hope that when I'm 80 and sporting a spiffy robotic hip I'll be playing full 3D mystery games set in nursing homes where you have to figure out who pulled the plug on your best friend down the hall. *sigh* I wish I was retired already...

Anyways. It got me thinking that the share of the active population that actually invests in videogames has grown considerably in the last few years and as those people start having babies of their own, a new generation of gamers is born and raised and the prospect of growing sales in the long run must be something very real to developpers everywhere. But in their greed, their lust for quick and fast profit, they adapt their products to fit and please a wider range of potential costumers, dumbing down games with simplified gameplay and long-winding tutorials. We don't need that. Honest.

Take Minecraft. Do you have to play a tutorial to be able to enjoy it? Do you feel like you can't handle the conrols or gameplay because you didn't play through a few test missions? No. And the game was as successful as we all know it was. Minecraft filled a void in our gaming needs. We needed the freedom and the respect the game showed us. We needed to feel that we were given a free world to do things in and that they trusted us to accomplish whatever it was we set out to do without an omni-present father figure putting up invisible walls lest we hurt ourselves.

What bugs me is that games weren't always so. You had the option of going through a tutorial or you could read the freaking manual. Manuals, they still make them, you know. Just in case you slept through the tutorials all of that useful information is still there, in written form. Games had a learning curve. Wether it was steep or a very slow crawl, they trusted you to get the hang of it on your own without flashy neon signs over most of your playing field advising you on the right order of buttons to press. Makes me feel like they think I'm an idiot. Yeah, they think I'm "special" alright.

Stop making things simple. We don't want that. If games are supposed to be a complex work of craftmanship then I wanna feel the burn. Did you see the reviews Dragon Age 2 got? This is not the way. We don't want simple. We pride ourselves in our game-forged brains. And instead of lowering gaming standards to please a wider audience of mouth-breathers how about stimulating the minds of potential gamers with flashy and addictive games that also provide some kind of challenge?

Ok now the rest of the office is reminiscing how they used to play soccer with their neighbours at 8 am on the weekend when they were kids because there were none of these new fangled computer thingies. I gotta leave now.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

WAR: Impart Thy Wisdom

Even after much time spent in WAR, there are some things I don't know and would like to, mainly:
  1. A good PQ to solo farm as a Sacrifice DoK or as a Magus.
    • Would be nice if the mobs were human so I can scavenge them as well.
  2. Wasn't there a quest for changing your crafting skill without having to regrind it to 200? Did they remove it? If not, where is it?
  3. The best recipe for armor pots that last a while (not just 5 mins) and the best way to gather such materials.
  4. Best way to make money on the AH. Part of point 1 refers to this as I was thinking of undercutting rank 200 boxes in the AH. But without a reliable source for them, it becomes... troublesome.
If you think you're all that, that you know everything that needs knowing about WAR economy, we want YOU! Queue Uncle Sam's accusing finger!

... please?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

WAR: I Killed Onion!

It says a lot about a guy when you're happy to survive and kill him even when you're 11 ranks apart. Nornites know and respect The Union and I get the feeling Azgal will too, in time.

Anyways, I was passing the time with one of my many Archmages and guess what started to try and kill me? None other than the man himself. Of course, he was alone and I over ranked by forever but hey, a girl's gotta take full advantage of the few pleasures in her life. That's right, my aptly named Archmage survived Badunion and eventually killed him (with a bunch of help).

I admire people that even when they roll alts, they roll the same class. There are some people who were just born for a class I guess. I, unfortunately, was born to play an Archmage only I picked the wrong side when I didn't know any better. Don't get me wrong, I love Destro but it's the Archmage's mechanic and playability and even animations that touch something in my core. There is nothing else on Order side that appeals to me. And I loathe Altdorf with a will.

By the way, if I ever had the time/talent/computer to be able to, I'd make a WAR video honoring Marauders everywhere. And this is the song I'd pick.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WAR: On a Mission

I'm not home so no accompanying screenshot today.

We was in an EC sc the other day and this one Ironbreaker, whose name started with a "D" but wasn't "Djolle", made it his mission to disrupt the healers. It was quite a tricky scenario with two mostly evenly matched premades. The whole thing must've lasted five minutes (which is pretty long for an EC, you'll agree). From the moment he saw me the dude made it his mission to nag me. I healed, he nagged. I ran, he nagged. I knocked back, he nagged. I detaunted, hit him, ignored him, turned my back to him, turned my face to him, ran to my party, ran away from my party and through all this he nagged. He wasn't actually making a dent, he was just being annoying.

For whatever reason, around minute three he decided to go harrass the other healer. He ran, he nagged. He detaunted, he nagged. He... you get the picture. He had a mission to do and, by God, he was going to do it.

My question is this: seeing as he didn't actually kill any of us, seeing as he wasn't really in guard range of any of his mates most of the time and seeing as he didn't successfully punt anyone off during those five minutes, could it be said that he was actually being useful? Was his effort a valuable one? Was it all worth it?

Going for the healers seems like a good strategy for a tank, at first glance. But when you're not achieving anything palpable, when your side ends up losing the battle, are your good intentions enough? I'm sure he could've punted a few mdps off the platform if he was kiting them around. Maybe not. I know I'd have tried if I was him. Or maybe I'm wrong here? Maybe you should stick to the role assigned to you?

I can't agree with that. I'd rather adapt my behaviour and role to the reality I'm facing at the time. If he was doing jack, why didn't he at least try to do something else?