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10481  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: PC gaming alliance (industry effort) on: February 20, 2008, 06:25:20 PM
Yeah. Great. "Skullrail" will probably cost what all Voodoo brand PCs cost ($5,000).  saywhat How's that going to help the PC gaming industry? Part of the problem is, you can't really ask the average gamer to keep buying $2,000 gaming PCs every other year when a $300-$400 console game now looks as good (in HD in particular) and doesn't suffer all the same compatibility problems. Creating some new 8-core monstrosity and expecting devs to actually develop for it (I doubt you can make a game scalable enough to run on that and a PC like mine) seems like more of a technical exercise than a reality check.

"Skullrail" is fine as far as wet PC dreams go, but it doesn't do a thing to help a fading industry imhwo (humble wet blanket opinion).  disgust

To me it's been something of a conspiracy (sometimes unintentional). The PC hardware makers don't want you to be able to have an affordable $500 gaming PC. The videocard makers don't want you to have to stop buying $250-$600 videocards just to get a playable frame rate. Microsoft doesn't want you to remain happy with Windows XP forever (they'll force you into Vista kicking and screaming, sooner or later); and they couldn't care less if you mothballed your PC and played XBox360 games forever.

Gamers have no problems at all with a non-upgradable XBox360 or PS3, but if you ever broached the subject of "fixed" gaming PCs (so that developers all had one consistent set of PC platform specs to develop for), they would scream bloody murder and say you'll pry customizability from their cold, dead fingers... even while most of them are giving up on PC gaming because they don't want to mess with that crap anymore.  disgust

So I go back to my original cynical-as-hell post, which is that none of these companies really have any valid reason to care about PC gaming's status cause nearly all have their fingers in the console gaming pie. And all would blanche at anything that would make it cheaper for people to play PC games in a way that didn't involve hundreds and thousands of dollars on upgrades. I don't even say that with malice. Only with cold, sad, rationality.  icon_neutral
10482  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Monitor Question on: February 20, 2008, 03:34:13 AM
Last spring (2007), I mistakenly thought my 1998 era 17" NEC monitor was done. So I bought my current 19" Samsung Syncmaster 931BF (highly super duper recommended, get the widescreen version if you prefer smile). In my case the NEC kept dropping out after a certain amount of time (image went dead), and I'd have to fiddle with the connector cord on the back, or reboot.

But. It turned out the connector plate on my video card was messed up (an HSI-brand X800XL Pro).  saywhat So in the end, I don't think anything was wrong with my CRT at all (I donated it to a computer recycling center). When I was tugging on my monitor's connector cord, I think it was just pulling the card's messed up plate back into place.  mad

It's just, of course, when I asked about it on message boards everyone said "Oh it's your monitor. It's toast." It's similar to how if you tell people your computer's acting strangely, everyone automatically assumes it's virus or spyware. My only experience dealing with a computer technician (a small Va. company called Erol's in 1993) was "Oh, it's probably a virus. We'll have to reformat your computer." I think that's all their training manual had in it: one page that said "It must be a virus" and one page that said, "We'll have to reformat your computer."  Roll Eyes

So I'm going to sound one note in the minority stirthepot: Dig up an old video card, any kind that'll work on your system, and try that in your system before you give up on the monitor. If it still does the same thing you describe, then you know it's your monitor; if the problem is suddenly fixed, then you know your video card is kaput instead. Learn from my mistakes. It'll make me feel better.  thumbsup
10483  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 19, 2008, 05:32:25 PM
NCSoft cries "foul" and then seems to say "well, sure, maybe we will start laying off TR team members, but it's normal!"  saywhat

NCsoft: Tabula Rasa Report "Inflammatory"
http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9184&Itemid=2
Quote
“Yes there’s a possibility that there could be downsizing with the TR team. Some of that is due to the cyclical nature of game development (product is out and the team downsizes). Some is due to the fact that the product could have done a little better. But there is a lot going on with the TR team. They are working on more updates. We are planning a Japan launch later in the year. And the company is planning on investing millions into the product, so it’s not going away and in fact we have plans to grow it.
It is true sales have been humdrum, and that most developers pare down from their huge launch teams after launch. But I can't help thinking this will bring whispers of "Auto Assault Part II" from the MMO public.  paranoid If they're going to speed up the update process for TR and have updates more often (which they've talked about doing), I don't see how paring down the staff will help that.

One of the reasons NCSoft seems pleased as punch with Dungeon Runners is that the dev team is so small (apparently about 12-13 people at this point), there's very little overhead. Of course DR's a free download, and boxed retail sales aren't something they have to worry about. It wouldn't surprise most people if they start focusing more on Guild Wars and Dungeon Runners type games instead of continuing to do $50 retail box games with $15 a month fees.
10484  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 19, 2008, 01:41:43 PM
Hey, this is pretty cool - they made character info "fetchable" as XML, so a couple fans have set up "viewing sites" where you just type in any character name to see their stats, what they're wearing etc. (I suppose this will bring up privacy concerns eventually  icon_lol).

The two fan sites display the XML differently. One shows everything in text verbatim. The 100webspace.net version uses "mouse overs" for your equipment and skills, and makes for a neater display.

Here's links to my character (BlackjackGT):

(The tidier version with mouseovers; is missing the "poison shot" bow skill, probably because it's assigned to right mouse button)
http://demosthenez.100webspace.net/displaychar2.php?charname=BlackjackGT

(The text-verbatim version)
http://threeplanetssoftware.com/software/dr/profile.php?character=BlackjackGT
10485  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 18, 2008, 05:30:06 PM
I read a little update. CuppaJo is actually moving up to a game-development focused associate producer role, so that's why Critters (Amy), who handled message board related stuff for Auto Assault for a while, is now the community coordinator for TR:
http://tr.ncrage.com/news.php?extend.11

I'm still not really convinced not having official forums is a good idea. One of the things I liked about COH/COV, and LOTORO was how active actual devs/producers etc. were on the official boards. Without that, you tend to get limited to occasional one-way Web site updates and fan site interviews, and there's little actual interaction between the TR devs and the fans. I can understand that if something's as ravenously popular as WoW (you wouldn't want Blizz devs trying to converse with a few thousand people in a board thread) -- but TR isn't that popular, and I think more actual interaction with fans would've been helpful to the game.

Yes I agree, they put no effort into a searching-for-group function in TR. Why they didn't look to their own publisher's other games (COH/COV has very helpful searching/advertising-for-group functions, as does LOTORO -- sorry I only mention those they're the only MMOs I put any real time into smile) instead of basically just having people free-for-all shouting in an LFG channel, I'll never understand.  disgust

Even Dungeon Runners has a nice little matchmaking function (right clicking your health/mana bar provides some basic options), like so:
10486  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 18, 2008, 02:51:21 PM
A few pics. For a change, it's a game that doesn't bring my old PC to a wheezing halt to run. smile



The combat is more like Diablo or even Hellgate than an MMO, mainly because everything (aside from a few bosses) just charges and clumps on you (a little more variety in how creatures respond to you would be nice).


An exception, this "rifle boss" at least fights you a little differently (runs away to fire at you, and summons some weird "trophy pets")


You can certainly argue whether equipment looks "good" (they're purposely going over the top for the most part) in all cases, but I see very few characters who look identical.  icon_cool

10487  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 18, 2008, 02:43:02 PM
Put a lot of time in it over the weekend. There's no shortage of loot (perhaps they've better balanced the ratio of free- to paid-loot). There are lots and lots of quests now, albeit still too many "go kill 25 things" quests for my tastes. The occasional exploration-type quest or really anything that's more interesting than a kill quest, feels like a beer in the desert.  icon_lol

It looks far, far, far better than the crappy looking beta I played long ago. I do think the engine still has serious limitations -- arrows have to fire perfectly horizontally so at some camera angles, it looks like you're firing above things, for one. The AI still basically makes any other MMO seem like the Half-Life marines. Hit anything in an area and they all just come flying at you in a huge clump.

All the dungeons are basically big outdoor or indoor mazes (TAB key brings up a handy, opaque overlay map).

I'm more annoyed by the ads you have to sit through when doing routine things (portaling back to a town, logging out of the game), than the in-game stuff (which is really just a non-animated "ad strip" at the top of the screen, technically above the game screen). It's rather sad the only non NCSoft ad they seem to have is for some Carmelo Anthony (NBA Player) sneaker. Doesn't really make any sense to advertise that in a game a bunch of us computer dough boys are playing.  Tongue

In spite of any reservations, I played til about 3 a.m. smile Got a Ranger to 12.

Think I mentioned they decided to give some paid perks to free players, and then boost those perks for the paid folks which seems to work OK. Free players now have a stash (just the one inventory "page," but it's quite a lot of room) at the NPC bank in town.

There are several different servers now, including one that's only for paid members. Usually the first server on the list is the more crowded one. It's not crazy popular but it seems busy enough and there are quite a few people in the upper, upper levels (60, 80, 100).
10488  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Dungeon Runners (NCSoft's free MMO/$4.99 premium option) on: February 16, 2008, 01:57:29 AM
I haven't played Dungeon Runners since beta, and it's been quite a while. I thought since I'm sort of losing interest in TR, I would give it a whirl and post some updated impressions...
http://www.dungeonrunners.com/whatis.html

It's one of those "free to play," $4.99 to get various perks kind of games. Back in December, they added in-game advertising for free players, which of course sounds like hell -- but this did allow them to provide previously Premium perks to free players and then boost/improve those old perks to higher levels for the $4.99 a month crowd (and some new stuff).

They seem to be updating it consistently about every other month now. They didn't have instances back when I was in beta, and now there seem to be a lot of those available. Well anyway I'll give it a whirl and post some thoughts. I'm not heading back in expecting much, but I thought it was worth a try. smile Back in beta, I honestly thought Delphine's 1999 game Darkstone looked better and was more interesting, to be honest. We'll see if it's improved since then, in my cynical eyes.  smirk
10489  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Gaming Trend's MMO Blog on: February 16, 2008, 01:52:48 AM
If you guys are still seeking MMO Blog fodder, NCSoft released its quarterly financials (in Korea they have to reveal a bit more about MMO sales than in the U.S., from what I recall):
http://www.plaync.com/us/news/2008/02/ncsoft_announce_27.html

There are no hard sales numbers, but some interesting year-to-year comparisons. You can sort of tell Tabula Rasa didn't set the sales world alight because it had the same share of NCSoft sales as the 3-year-old City of Heroes/City of Villains (6% each). And you can tell Lineage and Lineage II sales in Asia are still what keep the company profitable. Since Dungeon Runners is a free download, there's no mention of it, and Auto Assault is of course kaput. Guild Wars had a pretty steep drop in retail sales but it's been out quite a while so it's understandable. Guild Wars 2 is not mentioned (the general scuttlebutt is that won't likely go into beta 'til late this year - the gaming mags have had some features on it).

NCSoft only mentions Aion (I put a little update in the thread on it here) as far as new MMOs they'll launch this year. Otherwise it seems like they're focusing on some casual titles for release in Korea (Point Blank™, Punch Monster™, Dragonica™ and Love Beat™).

There's your Blackjack Analysis!  smirk
10490  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Aion MMO on: February 16, 2008, 01:42:25 AM
Thought I'd dig this up. NCSoft's latest financials ballyhoo this as the only new MMO they're launching in 2008.

It sounds interesting enough but certainly not my cup of tea. The link Daehawk mentioned in August no longer works, btw. This page at NCSoft gives some basic info:
http://www.plaync.com/us/games/aion/
Quote
Believe in Aion™ [I'm not ready to, yet  Tongue]

Aion™ is the most visually stunning MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) ever made. Cutting-edge graphics redefine your expectations of online role-playing and reveal a true fantasy world where divine beings wage a war that will determine the future of the world.

Your role in this war is pivotal. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders as you and your allies participate in brutal warfare, devise brilliant strategy, and claim political power.

Soar to New Heights

Glide effortlessly through the skies in Aion™. Flying is not just a means of transportation – flight is an extension of the combat system and can be an integral part of taking on your foes in battle. Clash swords high above the ground and use flight-specific skills to defeat your rivals.

Aion™ adds a whole new dimension to combat as you pluck your enemies from the sky, rain down destruction from above, toss your opponent into the air, and more. This isn’t your usual MMORPG combat – you will need to form new strategies to slay your adversary.

PvPvE [Don't they know, MMO junkies don't like things to get complicated?  paranoid]

Combat in other online role-playing games consists of PvE (Player vs. Environment): fighting computer-controlled monsters, and PvP (Player vs. Player): human-controlled characters fighting each other.

For the first time in the MMORPG genre, Aion™ brings these two game features together in an evolving and seamless system. PvPvE manages the complex relationships and alliances between realms, races and guilds; it also controls the mighty Dragons, a non-player faction and a common enemy to all players, regardless of faction.

Blending Fantasy and Reality [It's not real! saywhat]

Aion™ delivers a new level of graphical detail and world interactivity. Climb sheer cliffs, fly through moving clouds, see water ripple from the downdraft of your own powerful wings and leap gaping chasms. A supremely powerful graphical engine brings the world of your fantasies to life like never before.
I dunno, sounds like Joust.  stirthepot
10491  Non-Gaming / Political / Religious Nonsense / Re: What the hell is wrong with America? on: February 15, 2008, 06:47:16 PM
You won't find an easy answer to these things in Internet arguing now, any more so than when Columbine happened back in 1999. My best friend and his sister took many engineering classes at Va. Tech's Norris Hall (now closed as far as classes go) back in the 1980s, and you can imagine how aghast they were last April. Several victims were from the N. Va. area where I live, including one who graduated from my brother and my best friend's high school.

I don't know what schools can do. They can't afford to have armed guards in every building, metal detectors at every entrance, security cameras in every corner of a campus. Even if you did that, maybe the shooters just move to other public places off campuses.

The recent shooting spree at a town council meeting in Missouri scared me because how many times as a newspaper reporter did I sit through boring town council meetings where some local resident/businessman ranted against the council? (which is what this guy did for years before blowing a gasket).

I'm single, but my niece and nephew will probably be attending college in 6-8 years. Is my brother going to have to enroll them in "what to do if a deranged gunman attacks your classroom?" classes? Maybe schools will have to start having drills for that just as they do for fire drills.

Gun control arguments tend to miss the heart of the matter, which is often either mental illness (Va. Tech), not meditating a long festering dispute before it becomes violent (the Missouri town council shootings), not taking warning signs seriously (Columbine) etc. In other cases it seems like teenagers not realizing that by the time they're 25 or 30, the things that torment them at 16, 17, 18 won't matter at all. I'm 42 now -- I wish I could go back and tell my 16 year old self to not be in such anguish about so many things.
10492  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: *Spits out drink* Bioware working on new KotOR!!!! on: February 15, 2008, 01:08:44 AM
EA told Blue's that the investor relations presentation slide was misinterpreted and no new KOTOR game is planned at this point:
http://www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewthread&threadid=85143
Quote
"The slide in John's presentation is titled 'Best Creative Talent' -- it addresses future and past titles. KOTOR, Black, Boogie, Skate and some other titles on the slide speak to past portfolio releases and the pedigree of the studio but do not specifically address future sequels. The MMO in development at Bioware Austin is listed a 'New MMO'. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused."
So we can all now retract our respective speculations, me included.  smirk

The conspiracy theorists will of course parse EA's language and say "do not specifically address future sequels" is a mealy-mouthed way of saying "well if gamers get so hot and bothered about the idea maybe it's not such a bad idea." But right now I'd put it in the Rumor Mill bin along with the "SOMEbody has GOT to be working on an X-COM sequel" wishful thinking rumors. Me, I'm still waiting on a sequel to Shattered Steel. Come on, Bioware, you've got to wallow in the past at some point.  unibrow
10493  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 14, 2008, 06:51:47 PM
Have fun. smile When I was playing LOTORO, I liked it enough to mail a City of Heroes supergroup buddy (he was on dialup) my game discs so he could try the trial version without having to download gigabytes of data. smile He enjoyed it (and mailed back my discs promptly), but his older system/card had a lot of troubles displaying certain textures at a decent clip.

I still haven't found an MMO that solves the problem of making your second go round through a game a fresh experience. I played LOTORO several months but after a couple of characters reaching 40, I really couldn't bear the thought of trawling through the same content again. There the different races have some different, unique stuff early on, and some of their own storyline quests (I did like that), but it wasn't enough to keep me there. Same problem here, even with the clone options.


I'm not sure what would solve that for me. More truly branching quests and rewards? Races with their own completely unique series of quests? More areas meant for players at the same skill level, so with one character you do *this* zone at 30-40, and with your next character you do *that* zone at 30-40.

TR just needs "more." It needs more areas, more content, and crafting needs a total revamp. I'm not ready to yell "doooommmm" but it needs a lot more than what seems to be promised in the immediate future. Just imho.
10494  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Dead Marvel MMO Transforms Into Champions Online on: February 14, 2008, 06:40:31 PM
It's a new team (according to some dev posts at the COH forums at the time of NCSoft's acquisition of the City of Heroes IP, only one COH dev team member declined the offer to move over to NCSoft to continue working on it). See that announcement link: http://www.plaync.com/us/news/2007/11/ncsoft_acquires_1.html

But they've still got Jack Emmert (formerly "Statesman"), and I'm sure it'll be interesting. I know they were hiring and posting want ads like crazy for Marvel Universe. I don't think NCSoft actually acquired the "tools/technology" behind COH so it'll be interesting to see whether this uses some of that (though since MU was console-focused, I'd doubt it).

I do think though, if you think of some popular games where most of the development team scattered to other projects after its release (think maybe of all of 2015's "lead devs" forming Infinity Ward to create Call of Duty, after Medal of Honor: Allied Assault's breakout success in 2002), the ensuing games by teams of new employees under the original developer's name generally didn't match the initial success (in 2015's case, Medal of Valor: Vietnam was the company's epitaph). Sorry I can't think of an MMO comparison instead of an FPS one.  icon_redface
10495  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Mass Effect for the PC on: February 14, 2008, 04:09:28 PM
IGN has a mess of screenies at:
http://media.pc.ign.com/media/704/704283/imgs_1.html

Most fans seem to think this is "best game ever" or at least "Game of the Year." There are enough who think it's overrated, not up to KOTOR's standards, or what have you (although any site that dared not to give this a 5 star, 10/10 type review seemed to drown in piranha-like flaming  mad icon_lol), that I don't really know what to think. I hope there's some sort of playable PC demo.

I assume the PC won't have the loading time problems even the ravest reviews have complained about (wasn't it because they decided not to use the XBox360's hard drive to alleviate that?).

Most PC ports I've played still suffer from "console control-itis," (I liked KOTOR OK -- I even recently reinstalled and try to play it -- but I recall certain menu options still seem better designed for a joypad/thumbstick than a mouse) so color me skeptical on the promise this will be "optimized"  disgust for PC.
10496  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 14, 2008, 04:34:48 AM
TR's "meh" sales get a brief mention in interview with NCSoft's president Chris Chung (near the end):
http://www.gametrailers.com/player/30565.html

I'm puzzled as to what happened to April Burba (aka Cuppajo when she was the COH forum moderator), as she was replaced by "Critters" (who I seem to recall handled forum moderation for Auto Assault for a time) recently as community coordinator for TR with no explanation.

I think my time with TR might be nearing the end soon. As much as I like the game, the server is starting to feel more and more empty, and I am in the early mid 30s running into too many times where I've burned through all the missions I'm allowed to do (meaning I'm running into lots of NPCs with "broken" walkie-talkie icons), the instances require help I can't find (due to servers feeling empty at least in the level 30s), and I guess the game really is too much of a grind in the 30s simply because there isn't enough to do and enough alternate zones to go to. And like LOTORO, once I've got a couple 30s in this game (as I do now), the idea of working back through the same content over and over (even from my clones) isn't all that appealing.

My Exobiologist's at 33 with literally nothing non-instance to do, and I don't find grinding half a level of base defense/assault all that appealing.

I guess my disappointment is that the earlier areas like Palisades, Divide etc. seemed to do a better job of spreading massive numbers of quests over a wide level spread. In the 30s, it's just too easy to burn through the moderate amount of content and hit a dead level or two before you can "unlock" more NPCs for more stuff to do.

Plus, I've never really been able to play two of these things at the same time (I need to get going in Pirates soon). But I will probably stick it out until I get a new PC soon.
10497  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / PC gaming alliance (industry effort) on: February 13, 2008, 02:49:01 PM
Blue's mentioned this San Jose Mercury news item:
http://www.mercurynews.com/columns/ci_8238036
Quote
Companies with a vested interest in keeping the PC alive as a gaming platform will soon announce a consortium dubbed the PC Gaming Alliance. According to two people familiar with the effort, it will include top industry players such as Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices as well as a number of computer companies.
If you're like me, you're probably spitting your cornflakes in laughter that companies that are at each others' throats in the marketplace (Intel vs. AMD, NVIDIA vs. ATI [AMD subsidiary now]), and that a company that makes incredibly popular albeit unreliable consoles (Microsoft) and companies supplying hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of GPUs for consoles (NVIDIA for XBox360 and PS3, and ATI/AMD for Wii) would give a) work together towards a common goal and b) give a hoot about PC gaming at this point.

But I can believe the various PC makers, esp. the gaming "boutique" operations, don't want to see PC gaming fade away although "keeping the PC alive" seems just a little histrionic.  stirthepot

I like the concept, but I just don't think this is going to help the industry anymore than the ballyhooed "Games for Windows" branding has done anything for my hobby -- it maybe would if retailers actually wanted to set up "Games for Windows" kiosks but there seems zero interest in that. I don't think companies whose livelihood is so focused on consoles right now are going to put 100% into an alliance idea like this. It just reeks of either hypocrisy or even irony. And this is real irony, not Alanis Morissette irony.  Tongue
10498  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea open stress test on: February 13, 2008, 02:30:12 PM
IGN has a pretty enthusiastic review up:
http://pc.ign.com/articles/851/851596p2.html
Quote
Pirates of the Burning Sea is the perfect antidote to the proliferation of traditional MMOs. If you've already grown sick of elves and hot bars, Pirates will definitely offer up something you haven't quite seen before. It's highly original and it takes a lot of chances that pay off handsomely. The real time ship combat is awesome in its tactical complexity and the player economy is deeper than we've seen in just about any other game. Unfortunately, the sword combat feels tacked-on and really cramps our swashbuckling groove.

With all that said, Pirates is one of those games that is likely to discourage gamers early on. And that's a real shame, because it's precisely the type of game that gets better the more you play it.
Like most reviews so far, they have some concerns about lack of tutorials/explanations, the avatar combat portion, UI etc. and worry a lot of folks who try it won't stick around long enough to appreciate its better qualities.
10499  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Chains of Olympus (PSP), March 4 on: February 13, 2008, 04:24:59 AM
From Sony's Blog:
http://blog.us.playstation.com/2008/02/12/god-of-war-chains-of-olympus-gold-rush/
Quote
Hey there lovers of mayhem, this is Eric Koch, Sr. Producer on God of War Chains of Olympus. The great news I have to share with everyone is that Kratos will be in your hands on the PSP March 4th. That’s right people, we are now officially GOLD and the game will be hitting your retailer shortly. Hope you all are ready to hand out destruction of epic proportions on your PSP!!!

To be honest, I'm generally disappointed with the 2008 release lineup -- it's looking to be a real let down after a generally outstanding 2007 release year, esp. in the strategy department. There's a little excitement over Patapon but it's mostly "what the HELL is IT?" type excitement.  saywhat

But this looked to be a system seller for a lot of people, and I'm eager to see whether the limited control set on PSP hinders it, or not.

Look for some TV spots soon, supposedly from the CG house that handled the movie 300's special effects (I don't mean the abs Tongue).

"This is MADNESS!"
"No... this is... Olympus!!!!

Hmmm, doesn't quite have the same dramatic ring.  icon_lol
10500  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Roy Scheider died on: February 12, 2008, 01:51:26 PM
That's just the age gap.  icon_biggrin I thought Roy's best ability sometimes was to make you care even in an otherwise pretty terrible movie (Jaws II, which was largely "slasher movie w/ dumb teenagers", comes to mind) or a basically cheesy one (the helicopter combat action flick "Blue Thunder" comes to mind).

I thought one weird thing about him is he didn't seem to physically age well (maybe he just skipped the plastic surgery a lot of them seem to resort to now). He was about 42 when he filmed Jaws, and it just seemed like when he was in his 50s he suddenly started looking like he was in his 60s (about the time of 52-Pick Up).

People downplay Oscar relevance sometimes, but for a lot of actors and directors not known for "franchise" characters and projects, Oscar nominations and awards are about the only thing people make note of in your obituary.

My brother and I loved him in Jaws so much, that we were a bit perplexed by the puzzling William Friedkin-directed (reuniting him with his French Connection director) thriller "Sorceror." I guess we learned we were crazier about the Brody character more than the actor, so we ran back for Jaws II the next year and quite enjoyed it (even if Scheider was the only aspect of it that held a candle to the original flick).
10501  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Marvel MMO is DEAD on: February 12, 2008, 01:41:12 PM
fwiw, here's the "source material" the various news sites are picking up (an interview at MTV's gaming blog):
http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/02/11/microsofts-shane-kim-on-fable-2-why-marvel-mmo-was-canceled-and-more
10502  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Marvel MMO is DEAD on: February 11, 2008, 11:34:39 PM
Lot of fans had been speculating on this for months if only because Microsoft was completely no-comment on MU over that time, Cryptic as well. Of course this begs the question why Cryptic would sell off the CoX properties to NCSoft if it knew MU was a dead duck.

Cryptic does have other "unannounced MMOs" in development, but MU was the game they were supposedly hiring tons of people to work on (supposedly all but one of the remaining CoX team accepted the offer to move to NCSoft and keep working on it). They presumably can't even use the CoX technologies (including the much beloved costume creator stuff) for whatever they're working on now. Cryptic's basically Statesman (Jack Emmert) and a few new hires now -- they're like the now deceased 2015 was after all the MOHAA project leads left to work on Call of Duty  crybaby.

My main problem with MU's concept was always, what are you going to do? One Wolverine is special, 25,000 people running around in a Wolverine costume isn't. Even having your generic super hero fight alongside Spidey, Iron-Man etc. isn't all that interesting. I mean, I enjoyed the concept of fighting alongside Legolas in an instance in LOTORO, but basically he was a brainless AI peon who aggro'd everything in sight. I wanted to "be" Legolas, not stumble around at his side.

And if you were just going to "generic-ize" the entire Marvel backdrop so people just selected various powers that Marvel characters had, well, you end up with City of Heroes, so why even bother with the Marvel license?  Tongue Maybe in the end, they couldn't really figure out these issues and dilemmas any better than a geek like me could.  icon_lol

Even though I canceled from CoX recently, I still have to chuckle at all the people in a panic when MU was announced. All the "COH is doomed!" and "You're going to cancel COH as soon as MU releases!" hysteria looks pretty silly now. Microsoft's long shown they're not really interested in MMOs, only in canceling them (Mythica, backing out of Asheron's Call, now this). Probably they just don't want the headaches of running server farms, 24/7 support, and all the other drudgery that goes with supporting an MMO properly.

The guy's comments seem on the mark though. A lot of people wonder if WoW's success is good for MMOs or if it simply sets a standard nobody else can come close to, and it may even eventually scare publishers away from the genre altogether (at this point, more MMOs are being cancelled than announced).
10503  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: 1UP going from 1-10 scale to A-F scale on: February 10, 2008, 06:21:30 AM
All it means is readers will scream about something getting an A- ("How Dare you!!!!! MORONS!!!!") instead of screaming about some game getting a 8.9/10 ("How can you GIVE THE BEST GAME EVER A 8.9/10? MORONS!!!!!!") or what have you.

Once they realize review scores mean boo for game sales (I've seen Games of the Year flop in the sales department, and mediocrely scored games sell like crazy), and take some valium, this change will pass as well.  Tongue
10504  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tips, Tricks, and Automobiles..Tabula Rasa.... on: February 10, 2008, 01:24:18 AM
Was desperate for a solution for an annoying puzzle quest in the Pools area ("Spy Networking," which requires a lot of clicking at a computer terminal while the NPC user is sent away). After checking a foreign language TR forum, learned about a fairly useful fan site (it's in English) called

TaRapedia:
http://tabularasa.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
Sure enough, they had a solution for Spy Networking at:
http://tabularasa.wikia.com/wiki/Spy_Networking

Definitely a good site to bookmark for TR. Whew.  The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.
10505  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 08, 2008, 10:39:34 PM
Me being of the pea sized brain, I'm doing one tutorial a night. I'm fine with the space combat stuff, the economy stuff I think might overwhelm my micro-managing abilities, but I'm hoping my once-a day gradual introduction will let me gradually wade in.

I speak as representative of the "never played a 4X game in my life" crowd, not the "Stardock veterans" crowd, btw. smile
10506  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: 2/8/08 Stargate Worlds screenshots on: February 08, 2008, 06:13:44 PM
I have to roll my eyes at the comments threads at that link. It doesn't seem like anything in the MMO space can be judged on its own merits anymore. It's either "just like WoW" (dismissed like a clone) or "not enough like WoW" (therefore it won't have 8 million subscribers and can't succeed). C'mon people, take the blinders off and try to look at stuff individually. I can remember when WoW was blown off as an "Everquest wannabe."  Tongue Or at least be more imaginative and accuse things of being Everquest clones and Dark Age of Camelot wannabes.

Hey, I forgot to really roll my eyes.  Roll Eyes That's better...
10507  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Vanguard on: February 08, 2008, 03:52:30 PM
If it seems like we all rush from one game to another (like birds moving on to the next piece of bread in a park smile), it's probably because most off the world is in console land these days.

So if any PC game draws some interest from the few hardcore PC gamer types, I tend to follow like a lemming (Hellgate, Tabula Rasa, Pirates of the Burning Sea and the non-MMO but fun-in-co-op Sins of a Solar Empire are all things I decided to try after reading a lot of posts from the PC gamer types here). Maybe there'll be only 5-10 people posting about it but if I sense they all have genuine enthusiasm for something, it tends to help me feel comfortable about trying something. This is my off-kilter compliment to this place. smile

I give SOE some credit for keeping things like Vanguard, The Matrix Online and Planetside with modest subscriber bases when it would be all too easy to send them to Auto Assault land. Even if Vanguard hadn't been an unfinished mess at launch, the fundamental marketing problem seemed to be that if you're saying you want your game to only appeal to hardcore gamers (which they did), then the chances of said game being a "mass" market success seem pretty thin. And if said game costs a fortune to develop, and is too niche a game to appeal to a mass market in the first place, how does the dev/publisher expect to recoupe the costs?  icon_confused I'm not suggesting the game should be dumbed down, only that if I handled marketing for that game, I would've been lost as to what to do.  paranoid
10508  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 08, 2008, 12:15:33 PM
Ten Ton Hammer had a brief community Q&A with "Critters," who seems to have taken over "community management" chores from April Burba (CuppaJo at COH forums way back):
http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?p=206070

Quote from: NCSoft's Critters
Visual armor customizations
I think most players will agree, as you level through the game, it’s really nice when you get options to look more and more impressive. Everyone knows the feeling when you start out as a newb, and you see your first level 50 - you can just tell that they put a lot of work into their character by the style of armor that they wear and the abilities that they use.

We plan to add more options for character customization in the future. At the moment, the armor sets are getting optimized (this should be in 1.5) to allow additional pieces to be added in the future.

Personal Amor Units will help in this area too. The PAU concept art hasn’t been released yet, but I can tell you they are very grandiose in nature and will hopefully scare the hell out of the newbies when they see you.
A few other bits. They're looking into ways to dye the "secondary" portion of armor (generally, that seems to be "fixed" in color now, depending on what you got, and it's only the "main" color you can alter).
10509  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Is Vista 32 bit or 64 bit better for gaming? on: February 07, 2008, 05:02:18 PM
Blue's pointed out an amusing "Microsoft responds to 'Save Windows XP' petition":
http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;1294412345;pp;1;fp;16;fpid;1
Quote
The spokesperson said Windows will not disappear completely from the worldwide market place after the June cutoff, stating the software giant understood that some market segments such as small businesses and emerging market customers require "a little more time" before they upgrade to Vista.
Upgrade? See? There's the rub. My next PC will pretty much have Vista whether I like it or not, so I'll eat my words soon enough.

It's just...
-Does Vista make games run faster? No.
-Does it make more efficient use of system RAM? No. There's a reason most Vista PCs come with 3-4GB of RAM.
-Is it a more stable OS than XP? No. Many games have problems with Vista.

-Does it fix all the security holes and ActiveX problems in the OS and IE? No, I don't think integrating a sloppy firewall (that most people are going to shut off, as far as the "do you want to let this application run" feature?)and spyware program that aren't up to the standards of third party programs is a great improvement in security.

-Do games look better? Arguably maybe, but I don't see gamers bashing doors down for the barely discernible graphical improvements.

-Does it do anything at all to justify the expense and the performance hit your PC takes trying to run it? No.

-Is there any reason for the OS beyond the fact a new OS gives Microsoft a chance to make more money than continuing support of an old OS? No. I have no doubt they're selling a zillion copies, but at least part of that is them forcing OEM makers to offer only Vista.

What's lost in all the hullabaloo is that XP is probably the best liked of the Windows incarnations (I guess some have a soft spot for Windows 98 SE, but I often had to reinstall that to fix issues). It's the most stable Windows OS I ever ran. There's nothing offered by Vista that upgrades my gaming experience, aside from DX10 graphical enhancements that probably aren't worth the performance hit. Sometimes I'm curious if the Vista team is the same as the XP team or if completely different folks worked on each.  icon_confused

A bud in my TR clan said he built a PC with Vista. He's convinced Vista with the Service Pack 1 is now "almost just like XP." (ironic, no?) Except his computer constantly crashes, and locks up. He's convinced the problems can't have anything to do with Vista.  Roll Eyes Tongue

I realize all this Vista-bashing has been done to death. deadhorse Just wanted to have my one say. smile

================
fwiw, I'd probably suggest staying 32-bit for now. Some disk utilities I've looked into that are Vista-compatible specifically state they don't support the 64-bit incarnation. One example is System Commander (which eases the process of running multiple OS's on one machine), which I thought I might look into as far as running XP and Vista on the same machine.
10510  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire? on: February 07, 2008, 01:48:59 PM
>> I have to say my initial impressions are that it feels a little soulless but that's not really what I came to this game for anyway.

A lot of people accused Homeworld of that. So maybe that's a compliment. smile Space tends to feel that way (maybe more 2001: A Space Odyssey than Star Wars) unless they inject a soap opera aspect into it.

I'd love to get in the co-op, though I think it'll take me a while to reach the point of being mediocre, much less competent. I was able to get "Blackjack" as my Iron Clad Online name.  icon_cool
10511  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 07, 2008, 05:34:17 AM
Penny Arcade's Tycho seemed to like this (from their news bits):
Quote from: Tycho at Penny Arcade
Installed Sins of a Solar Empire on the Night Engine [that's his pet term for his uber expensive gaming PC, I think:)] yesterday, to see if it would be something we'd consider advertising. Uh... yes. Yes. Yes a thousand times over. This is why it's nice to work with a smaller company, because if they want to advertise something on your site, they're not pulling from some budget a year in advance of the game's release. Stardock sent a full, boxed retail copy of the title and asked if we'd be willing to promote that, as opposed to some theoretical game they might be making in the future. I'll talk more about it on Friday, but I am kind of bowled over by this thing. That someone would pay me to recommend a game as entertaining as Sins of a Solar Empire is really the most ridiculous kind of crap.
Can't get a higher recommendation from him than that. smile They get a ton of traffic there, and generally when they say good things about a game it really does have a beneficial impact.

Just as when they tell their readers someone is evil, bad things happen to that person or game.  icon_twisted
10512  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 07, 2008, 04:26:17 AM
I at least did the first tutorial. It looks fine, but it's not the kind of game you play to justify a $600 SLI set up or a $3,000 gaming PC. It runs great on my hoary old AMD64 3200 while still looking solid. smile


fwiw, the recent Joystiq interview with the producer/lead designer touched on why there's no traditional RTS campaign:
Quote from: Ironclad's Blair Fraser
A 'campaign' in a 4X sense is not a linked set of missions that tells a story like it would be in a standard RTS. The campaign in 4X games is typically a sandbox galaxy where you usually begin with one planet and expand to conquer the rest of the galaxy; and it isn't really any different in Sins than it would be in Galactic Civilizations or Masters of Orion. In the standard Sins game you will start with a single world with some basic upgrades, a frigate factory, 2 construction ships and some nominal amount of resources.

Of course there are plenty of starting parameters to play with: you can generate your own random map, you can design your own map with Galaxy Forge, and you can choose from over 25 initial handcrafted maps some of which vary the starting setup (I suppose these could be called scenarios). We'll be adding more custom setups to some of the maps in our free bonus packs and modders are already busy creating their own that will be available for download. Ultimately, the setup is really dependent on how you've chosen to play.
It seems like the idea [Since I am a 4X newbie cretin, I may be restating the obvious  smirk] is that each map is in itself a huge, sprawling sandbox campaign where you can do what you want -- rather than a fixed RTS campaign where you encounter the same scripted forces here and there, in an effort to accomplish fixed goals etc.

I'm not knocking that (Starcraft has some of my favorite campaigns ever, even when replayed), but I understand better after reading the interview why this doesn't do that. And for me, just about every RTS campaign is one I couldn't finish. Trying to get through standard RTS campaigns is like running a marathon after eating a box of Krispy Kremes for me, even in ones I loved like Company of Heroes, Starcraft, maybe even C&C: Generals.

And if you recall how long fans begged Relic for any sort of Homeworld editor tools, the fact this has powerful user tools at launch is pretty impressive. smile

If I suck at this game, I'll take all this positive stuff back later though.  Tongue
10513  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 06, 2008, 05:58:54 PM
Even though 999 voices in my head screamed, "NOOOOO! It's too complicated! Your pea-sized brain won't have a chance playing it!" I instead listened to the one voice that is sick of FPSs, full on MMOs, not interested in consoles (no, not even Mass Effect -- a lot of my hardcore PC gamer buds have bought an XBox360 to play only that one game) and just wanted to try tackling something a little different on PC.

We'll see how that turns out because generally I listen to the mass of voices, not the one.  In this case, the power of one ruled. The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.
10514  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Pirates of the Burning Sea open stress test on: February 06, 2008, 05:08:05 AM
Was reading a Gamesplut interview:
http://www.gamespot.com/news/6185561.html?tag=latestnews;title;2
Some interesting thoughts on solo vs. grouping (apparently about 80% of the missions are soloable):
Quote
There's a temptation to try to ensure your players are always having peak experiences, involved in groups, and attacking difficult challenges. The temptation leads to things like FFXI's mandatory grouping. On the other hand, if you can always solo everything, while you avoid that problem, you never have those peak experiences.

What we're trying to do with our new content--Red Tide, a challenging low-level mission, and the upcoming Bey's Retreat, a very difficult midlevel encounter--is strike a balance between the two. You can level up solo, but at the same time there are these handcrafted, involved, complex pieces of content waiting for you to get a group together and attack them.
So if I'm using a merchant ship and I team up on one of these instances, do I contribute by catapulting crates of spices? Maybe Rum?  drillsergeant
10515  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Looking for POTBS Buddy Key on: February 06, 2008, 01:12:05 AM
I got the game but I'm not going to set sail for a while. You're welcome to my buddy key (I'll PM you the info if you like). I assume you can still use it even if I haven't installed my game yet? Just wasn't sure.  icon_confused
10516  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 05, 2008, 04:17:24 PM
Edged up to 31 last night. I tried a point in Corpse Explosion, and in Hormonicus (probably misspelling this  icon_confused), both Exobiologist skills.

*Corpse explosion basically sets a corpse on fire for a few seconds (I wish it didn't take so long to go off) and then provides Extreme splash explosion damage. It isn't gruesome at all though (there are no internal organs flying Tongue). I think it could be useful in base defense/assault situations when you have Bane crowds and corpses everywhere.

*Hormonicus (or is it Horticulturis?) actually grows a big green plant out of a corpse (you can't use this power unless you have a corpse to grow it from). It provides a health/power buff to nearby AFS, and a squadmate can actually "use" the plant to get a health boost. I don't think it's going to be all that useful though (we're always on the move in the game afterall). I would think base defense, maybe inside the fortress, might be its one use (it takes damage, so I don't think you can drop it in the middle of a base defense battlefield and expect it to be useful).
10517  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: nVidia buys AGEIA on: February 05, 2008, 02:00:48 PM
I briefly looked into the AIEGA PhysX card a while back, and the fundamental stumbling block to me is the card does not improve graphics performance/speed in any wayicon_confused I was like, "huh?"

To me the only selling point was the idea (wrong on my part) that it might take some stress either off your CPU or regular graphics card to display PhysX effects, but everything I read said it doesn't improve performance at all (vs. the "non PhysX version" of a game). Only a handful of games (City of Heroes/Villains is one, and I think the late Auto Assault was another, but I've heard little good feedback about the optional effects) support it, and it really seems like an odd acquisition. It makes sense for AIEGA though -- nobody much is buying their cards, and devs aren't clamoring to offer the PhysX support. Unless NVIDIA or ATI/AMD bought into it, it didn't seem like it would ever find widespread support.

Speaking of Auto Assault, dev Netdevil is no doubt praying this means a wider user base for PhysX, because their current free game project Warmonger is focused on it (http://www.warmongergame.com/), though it appears they pulled back on the plan to require PhysX (there's a demo, and PhysX is supported but optional). They've said in interviews though that Warmonger "is not playable" without a PhysX card. Oops.  saywhat
10518  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: February 04, 2008, 08:47:41 PM

Quote from: Tals on February 04, 2008, 01:53:41 PM

You want to try World in Conflict - that plays on a much lesser scale in terms of units being controlled.Tals
Unfortunately, it's a system backbreaker (I should've realized that when the hardware sites started using World in Conflict as a "video card stress test"   saywhat) Plus, I think it's maybe only the second RTS I ever played that gave me motion sickness problems. Moving the camera around made me feel like I was sitting through "Blair Witch Project" again (or the current "Cloverfield" for you youngsters out there).
10519  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Hellgate: London jumps from 0.70 to 1.0 on: February 04, 2008, 08:38:45 PM

Quote from: unbreakable on January 31, 2008, 08:35:24 PM

My biggest hatred of Hellgate lies in playing inventory Tetris.  I just won't do it anymore.
I would think at least one person at Flagship would've tried Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, which just let you auto-rearrange your inventory a couple of different ways (either everything crunched against the top or bottom, or everything crunched to the left or right side) with one button click (saving an endless amount of Tetris-ing frustration). C'mon guys, steal a smart idea now and then!  disgust

I'd love a hack 'n slash where the inventory had 3 different sections (armor, weaponry and potion/scroll etc.) and everything just tumbled into its own section automatically. I think that'd save so many headaches just right there.

Why don't they just hire us all as UI consultants? We could save them a lot of heartache.  Cool

At some point I'll try to get the last part of the new patch (the MP client patch I think) to install again but my first couple tries failed and I got fed up.
10520  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Tabula Rasa beta on: February 04, 2008, 02:12:24 PM
I finally did the new Hybrid quest stuff in the Mires, which unlocks the new races. Basically these are just options for ugly alien heads on your character models and a few slightly different attributes starting points (honestly, I think what players wanted was something truly visually different, and maybe at least a few unique quests for a new race to do).

It seems like the contact "unlocks" at level 30, and is a contact near the waypoint in Bann LZ in the southern, middle portion of the Mires maps. It's a series of quests, nothing too fancy. There's one where you have to purposely get killed by a Bane Caretaker, and the key seems to be to just take most of your armor off and then let a caretaker have their way with you.  Tongue

I'm still convinced that as much as devs think people "don't want the grind" in MMOs, they do. If you can just race through the level cap in one of these in 2-4 weeks, then chances are you'll be saying sayonara shortly after that (even if you work some clones up through the other classes). In a more typical MMO you might be lucky to get 5 levels in that amount of time. Heck in COH I couldn't get one level in that amount of play time in the Level 40s unless I resorted to various common exploits impatient players resorted to. I enjoy the game's combat enough to stick around even if I end up re-doing the content over and over (somewhat like Diablo stuff in that regard), but I don't really know if the game's "lack of grind" is good or bad for it in the long run.
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