A Rotten Start of a Day

Today started very, very rough for me.

I found out the dog had chewed through the box of cereal I had on the dining room table. This behavior is getting old, real fast. Then I discover that there are video card driver problems with Starcraft II. No, I haven’t gotten the expansion yet. But since this update to Windows 7, it’s been problem after problem with my old games. I’m going to take a look at it after I finish reinstalling the game and messing with the drivers a bit.

Then the management office called. They screwed up and forgot to deposit the $500 security deposit from months ago. The checks aren’t good anymore and they need a new one. I was quite tempted to tell them tough.

Needed to vent. Gods, what a bad start.

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The Coming Year…

Ahh, Merry Christmas everyone. Although I write these words exactly at 12:00 am on December 26th. Well, whatever. So Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year is almost upon us. It’s a good time to talk about the books and games I’m most looking forward to in the coming year.

Gears-Judgement

I had just finished Gears of War 3 for the first time tonight. While it was a damn fine ending to the trilogy, and more than satisfactorily completes Marcus Fenix’s story, I found myself missing some elements that were more prevalent in the first two games. More paths you could choose, the campaign could have been a dash longer either through an additional act, or more portions from Baird and Cole’s point of view, like they did in the first act.

On that note, I’ll certainly be getting more of Cole and Baird soon. Gears of War: Judgment is on its way. That game will probably be second on my most wanted list.

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm is yet another one worthy of mention. Unlike most die hard Starcraft lovers, I’m just looking forward to the story and campaign. Multiplayer just isn’t my thing for RTS. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. I’m almost finished playing the first one and I am considering getting the DLC as well. I almost forgot Dead Space 3!

Finally, last and probably best of all, Bioshock: Infinite. I think that needs little explanation. But just in case, take a look at the trailer.

Now, for books I am choosing both previous and to be released books. But on my ‘most looking forward to reading’ list is All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard. That latter was recommended by C.L. Werner.

Other books of mention include Ravenwing by Gav Thorpe, and Headtaker by David Guymer. Guymer I actually met at the Black Library Weekender. Having published a few short stories, Headtaker will be his first Warhammer novel.

Finally, movies. I’m going to be a bit conservative about this, and mention Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby. Truth be, there are many good sounding movies, like Oblivion, Thor: The Dark Worlds, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Man of Steel, Ender’s Game and Star Trek: Into Darkness. But truth be told, I haven’t seen most of the trailers nor done any research. I’d rather wait until near release to begin looking into them.

So that’s all for next year’s excitement. Stay tuned for my new years resolution, which I will immediately fail to keep.

Achievements in Gaming

Beating the game is nifty and all, but dealing 1,000,000 points of fire damage is nothing to sneer at.

Beating the game on normal difficulty is nifty and all, but healing 1,000,000 points of life in a multiplayer blood bath is nothing to sneer at.

Sometime back, I suggested achievements for some MMORPG and at least one gentleman thought it was a terrible idea. He hated the thought of getting merit badges for our efforts and was quite vehement about it.

But depending upon the difficulty of the achievement, it can be a sign of considerable progress or a true badge of experience. I mean let’s face it, lots of people buy a game, play the single player once and then never pick it up again. And given the fact that games like Starcraft II and Team Fortress 2 are increasingly being played for money, knowing what a guy can do or has done can be a big deal.

In this manner, I feel that Team Fortress 2 has the right idea. While they do offer these one shot challenges of varying difficulty, the really respectable achievements can only come through significant amounts of time investment. You will not be earning 1,000 back stabs as a Spy in one go, or 1,000,000 points of explosive damage as the Demoman in a single sitting.

I suppose an average player could pull these things off either with a couple of weeks of intensive playing, or in a month or two provided they give up other leisurely activities. But I have to nod my head in respect to any player who has pulled these things off.

But in MMORPGs, achievements can be a great way to tell the newbies from the pros. How many times have newbies been killed in a dungeon for no other reason than not knowing what is around the corner? What to do? How to handle a boss? It happens. And if the other team mates can see the achievements of a player and note that they have or haven’t been through this dungeon or battlefield, they’ll know whether or not you have experience in this environment.

With that in mind, I think it would be great if there was a small routine that runs through the current chat window of an MMORPG to find key words, or takes note of the situation, and then compiles a list of related achievements for all related players that can be viewed through ALT+TAB. If everyone’s related achievements were made plain right then and there, leaders can quickly get a handle of who needs help and who will be alright with no guidance.

But lately, I don’t feel that achievements are really regarded as anything serious, and rightly so. Achievements for beating the single player game are nice, or killing 100 monsters or whatever. But when they’re not a real challenge, they’re not worthy of any respect. But winning 100 games in the highest ranking leagues of Starcraft II or dealing a million fire damage as a Pyro are signs of a veteran and worthy ally or opponent.

Achievements can be the best and most trustworthy way to find out how experienced a player is and make the experience far more enjoyable, if implemented correctly. And I think this can be a great evolution for gaming.

My Eye…

This makes me so happy...

This randomly makes me so happy...

The review for Nemesis is 80% complete. Sadly, I scratched my eye a touch too hard. It hurts and is sensitive to light, so I got to give it a rest. All I’ve got for you is a short update today.

If you haven’t heard this month old news, Dawn of War III is on the way and according to a few sources, they’re looking to make it somewhat MMO-ish as well as allowing the player to collect and build their own armies. The developers are looking for something to make it vastly different from Starcraft II, whose expansions will make new content appear for the next 3 to 4 years at this rate.

Blizzard and Games Workshop have some history, if I’ve heard correctly. Supposedly, Blizzard originally wanted to do games for Games Workshop but after the dealings fell through, they ventured out to do their own thing. Thus, there are similarities between the two, especially early on. But since then, Blizzard has apparently moved away from visual similarities between GW’s intellectual property.

Me? I have no animosity towards either company. I enjoy most of their products. Blizzard’s lore is interesting, but the reason I buy their games is simply because they’re fun. When I say most however, it may surprise you to learn that I don’t like World of Warcraft or Warcraft in general. Sure, I loved Warcraft II. But the third installment got a touch too cartoony for me. I am much more a Starcraft and Diablo fan, Diablo especially for its dark tones.

I’ll probably write a more sourced article on it later this week, or next pending how long it takes my eye to heal. That’s all for now. Post tomorrow.