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10801  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: March 11, 2008, 11:14:14 PM
I think 800 quests should keep even the most frantic power gamer entertained for at least.... oh... a week?  icon_lol

I really think one of the hardest things to do in an MMO is to make people care even a smidgen about the storyline as opposed to just frantically clicking on NPCs and quests and racing through everything as if every quest were no more interesting than going to the bathroom (don't visualize that!).  icon_neutral

So I really do have my fingers crossed the quests are as interesting and great in number as promised. I had some fun in Dungeon Runners, and while I know it's not trying to be a full fledge MMO per se, it is drowning in "kill 25 rats," "kill 45 schmucks" and kill "60 toads," etc. A few Korean MMOs I've tried over the years (like R.O.S.E. Online) are glutted with the same thing.

I don't need Shakespeare, I don't need multi-layered plotting but I do need something more interesting than "kill 75 so and so's."  Roll Eyes "Something more interesting" is a great carrot to me. And I love when characters (NPCs or what have you) change. I love in movies when you think you know a character, but he/she gradually develops into something else (good or bad). I love when gentle characters are pushed to violence, or violent characters show a tender side. Heroes that have to do something villainous, villains who do something heroic.

Blah blah blah. Sorry. I just hope AoC has even a smidgen of that kind of stuff. It wouldn't make it Better Than WoW or ensure 5 million subscribers, but I really think it would freshen up the MMO environment.
10802  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Harmony Remotes: Yay or Nay? on: March 11, 2008, 10:59:16 PM
As someone who has scoped out some of those insane $300-$800 remotest at Best Buy I say...

* Get a remote you can afford to spill beer and smear Cheetos and Fritos residue on, and taco grease on, and not fret about it.

* Get a remote that when you get really mad about your favorite team choking in the playoffs, you can afford to toss the remote into a wall and break it and not take out a loan to replace it.

* You have enough monitors and screens and touchpads in your house already. Get something where there are actual buttons you can feel. Every Channel Surfer Dude I knew is happier with that than a $300 touchscreen remote that they can't tell what buttons are by "feel."

* Don't get a remote with a fancy pants battery pack that probably runs out of juice every two weeks and requires a mad search for the rare store that carries a replacement.

* Don't buy a remote that cost more than your launch day PlayStation 3 did, for crying out loud! icon_lol

These are my cardinal Rules of Remotes. Violate them at your own risk.  Tongue

Uh, oh I'm off topic. Well, I did in fact look at the Harmony and other fancy pants model remotes. I think what scared me off is how many on the rack had been returned (i.e. packaging had been opened). Always a warning sign for me. smile Your mileage may vary and I wish you happiness if you do get one.

I've been happy with my $15 Philips replacement remote, and I'm giving my brother a slightly ritzier (maybe $25) model that can learn commands from off brand and unsupported-by-codes remotes.
10803  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: How do I share files from XP to Vista? on: March 11, 2008, 09:09:23 PM
I bought this informercial product (I really did buy it, I'm not spamming for it I swear), The Tornado, which in theory should be ideal for your situation. However, if $60 seems obscene or you're adept with networking cables, then don't bother.  icon_biggrin

Basically it's just module with some integrated file transfer software and retractable USB 2.0 cords built into it. You only need to have one of the PC/laptop screens available, plug it into both and walah.

I got it in anticipation of getting a Vista PC at some point but I've put it on the backburner for now. It's probably more worthwhile in a situation where you need to do this or transfer huge files a lot.
10804  Non-Gaming / Political / Religious Nonsense / Re: Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York tied to prostitution ring on: March 11, 2008, 06:21:10 PM
Some are missing the irony this guy made his rep as a hard-nosed DA who prosecuted, among other things, prostitution rings. Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?  disgust icon_lol At best, he's just a complete idiot and hypocrite. Unfortunately, he's not in showbiz, in which case he could go on Leno and Letterman, plead "mea culpa" and it would all gently blow over in about 2 weeks.  Roll Eyes

As a reporter for most of the last 20 years, I'm always trying to write in active voice. Somehow politicians, and baseball players accused of steroid use always find a way to speak in passive voice as if they had somehow stepped outside their body and some other humanoid had done something foolish. Something along the lines of...

"I was befallen by poor judgement and terrible decision making for which forgiveness is something I beg of you, the public."

Or maybe...

"I was injected in the buttocks by Joe Schmoe and was told by him to believe that the hypodermic was filled with Vitamin B-666."


"That may have been what was heard by my teammate. However, what was said by me was not intended to be given that type of meaning."

 Roll Eyes Ohmigod. Just beware of "passive voice" in press conferences and interviews. The more "passive," the more they're trying to avoid responsibility for their actions, at all costs.
10805  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings on: March 11, 2008, 05:42:29 PM
Ironclad Games' exec posted some food for thought thoughts on piracy and its impact (or not?) on PC games:
Some of his thoughts can be boiled down to "stop making Upper high-end games for PC when there aren't nearly enough hardcore gamers and gaming PC owners for you to turn a profit on the sales" [cough cough Crysis]  icon_wink

So you've got Epic's Mark Rein complaining the PC makers are pushing lame, integrated-video systems too much, resulting in too small a base of systems that can tackle newer games (therefore every succeeding Unreal Tournament PC incarnation is selling less and less due to the dwindling number of high end PCs out there, is how I read it). And Iron Clad's guy pushing for games to cater to more modest systems (and stop pushing DirectX10 and Shader 3.0 requirements etc.) where the largest possible PC gamer base can be found. An interesting tug-o-war.  icon_neutral

I'm wondering if it was inspired by that THQ Titan Quest producer who was blaming piracy at least partially for TQ's somewhat underperforming sales and Iron Lore's subsequent demise. Or maybe it's just because both developers have "Iron" in their title?  icon_smile

Beyond that, he has some good news on Sin's impressive (esp. for an "under the radar screen" game sales) sales so far.
10806  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: March 11, 2008, 12:27:41 PM
CVG (UK site) has a sort of vaguely updated preview:
Quest depth is what I remain most hopeful about, though every MMO that brags about their number of quests seems to get accusations of "not enough content" shortly after launch anyway (which is me pointing at Tabula Rasa at the moment  smirk
Along with two dedicated full-time writers, there's a team of eight people solely writing quests, and another responsible for managing the lore. There'll be 800 quests ready at launch, and surprisingly few of them appear to be timesink "kill 30 rabbits" nonsense.

In fact, some genuinely inspired ideas are being touted, including solving murder mysteries, and stealth quests requiring you to sneak over rooftops and eavesdrop on NPC conversations. The large team is there to ensure quests have meaning in the game, linking them to the story, giving you the motivation to complete tasks.

I've had trouble grasping the combat system (which has been simplified a bit in the early part of the game, supposedly, and then ramps up in intricacy as you progress), but their throw-away description makes it a bit easier to understand:
Every enemy in the Robert E Howard-inspired game has three points where they can be attacked: left, right and above.

These are shown by semi-circles floating about them when targeted. If you hit them on the left, they'll defend that side, maybe leaving the right exposed. Exploit this, and take advantage of your ever-increasing set of skills and the combo system, and you'll be employing a degree of tactics not seen before in MMO battling.
10807  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: God of War: Chains of Olympus Impressions on: March 11, 2008, 04:10:19 AM
And PSP Fanboy has an item about "The Spud of War." What's that you ask???  icon_lol

Playing as the Spud of War
10808  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: God of War: Chains of Olympus Impressions on: March 11, 2008, 03:56:31 AM
I did finally play this a bit. I would say it looks and animates like nothing you've ever seen on PSP.  icon_cool That said, again - if you don't like this kind of game in the first place, this won't change you mind. I find the "hot spot" and "cinematic button pressing sequences" annoying myself even if they've suddenly become the "hip" thing to include. I didn't enjoy it in the demo of Clive Barker's Undying, and I didn't find it any more fun here I'm afraid.

Aaaand, if you haven't heard, developer Ready at Dawn plans to *not* do any more PSP games after this.  crybaby They're moving onto the full size consoles from here apparently. Penny Arcade mentioned this link:
Moving forward, we can confirm that Chains of Olympus will be our last PSP game as we’re moving on to other projects and other ideas on other consoles. We can also confirm that this will be our first and last God of War game as, just like Daxter before it, there will NOT be a PS2 port of the game. We like our games PSP exclusives
I guess one of the sad things about PSP is companies do great, memorable stuff like this, Guerrilla's Killzone: Liberation, and Slant Six's SOCOM: Tactical Strike and then *poof* that's it. Some of it's apparently just seeing PSP as a "proving ground" before moving onto full size consoles. I also get the impression an A-list PSP title is just hard to turn a profit on. It's selling better in the U.S., but it just doesn't have a massive enough user base to sell a zillion copies of a PSP game. I've also read various dev blogs that suggest piracy on PSP with retail games is becoming more widespread. So I can see where developing for consoles where that's -- knock on wood -- so far less of a problem might be more appealing for a smaller dev.
10809  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: March 11, 2008, 12:24:51 AM
And still, I never could get a job in public relations.  icon_lol

Just a heads up -- they've locked the "suggested Q&A questions" thread and say they'll pick a lot of fan questions from that thread, and have some answers to share soon, so that'll be something to chew on.
10810  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Eee Pc? on: March 10, 2008, 05:31:41 PM
K, but what about my thrilling questions?  icon_confused icon_smile

Laptop Blog reports the new 8GB details for U.S. market just announced:
Any information on the pricing on the new 8.9-inch model?
In the beginning and in April, around the release date, it will initially be higher and be around $499 in the United States. From the user feedback, I think if we provide a bigger screen and bigger storage it may be more popular than the 7-inch version. The second generation is very important for us.

Beyond the screen, how will the new machines be different?
The screen size will be 8.9 inches. And the storage, which was originally 4GB, will be upgraded to versions with an 8GB solid state drive and a 12 to 20GB solid state drives. We aren’t sure yet if the second machine will be 12 or 20GB because of guidelines we have to follow. The 8GB machine will run Windows XP and the 12 or the 20GB will be Linux based. The Windows XP machine will have 1GB of RAM. The screen resolution on each of these will be 1024 x 600.
It mentions they moved the speakers from the sides to the bottom of the Eee PC to make more room for a larger monitor screen.

Apparently it's selling like crazy, esp. in Japan and Europe, but they are running into some battery supply issues. It sold about 350,000 in the fourth quarter of '07.
In our hour-long interview, Shen shared that the Eee PC will get:

A 8.9-inch display and Windows XP: Confirming that the machine shown at CeBIT will come to market in April, the new Eee PC will have a 8.9-inch screen and a higher 1024 x 600-pixel resolution An 8GB SSD will be available running Windows XP. A 12GB or 20GB SSD model will be available with Xandros.

Hard Drives: Asus is considering giving customers a choice between their current offering of solid state drives and regular hard drives in the future.

Intel’s Diamondville: Shen revealed that the low-cost notebook platform will adopt Intel’s Diamondville processor
in Q2 rather than VIA’s mobile computing platform.

More Colors and Stylish Looks: In May or June, Asus will release “very stylish” versions of the Eee PC. Shen says they will have a New York City sleekness.
Lot of interesting stuff, more than I can cut and paste here. Check it out if you're interested where they're going with it.

The ASUS CEO seems to indicate they don't want to lose what's appealing about it (low cost, light weight, simple to use etc.) so they're not likely to take it bigger than 8.9-10" or bloat it into a $1,000 product. He seems to realize there is some concern notebook makers are dropping down into Eee PC's territory (price wise), and that it might hurt both markets to some extent.
10811  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Starcraft 2 - Zerg Revealed on: March 10, 2008, 05:11:58 PM
And why doesn't Blizzard trademark the term "zerg" so they get a royalty check every time someone uses it as a generic term for rushing or overwhelming an opponent in a strategy game.  icon_smile I got a little tired of it in my Company of Heroes multiplayer days. "I'm going to zerg the German base camp!" Get a dictionary, punk!  disgust icon_lol

I'm part Korean and while I'm sure all my brethren there will wear Starcraft 2 pajamas, sleep in Starcraft 2 sheets, brush their teeth with Starcraft 2 toothpaste using their Starcraft 2 toothbrushes, and then start the next day with a nice Starcraft 2 themed bowl of Starcraft 2 Frosty Sugar Ghost Bombs cereal as they watch the animated adventures of Starcraft 2 on their Starcraft 2-skinned flatscreen TV, it remains to be seen if the U.S. market will love an RTS so openly fixated on the needs of the South Korean Starcraft 2 Competition market. What about idiots like me who just want a fun RTS with an interesting storyline?  icon_neutral

10812  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: March 10, 2008, 04:09:46 PM
I got my Dr. Barium empathy defender to 37 last night. On weekends at least, there's no shortage of teams if you're an empathy defender.  icon_smile Still tricky to solo with, but I can handle most stuff on heroic at least.

I'm still lacking absorb pain and I'm not so uber a healer that I can keep a team going when it's overmatched, as I found out on a big team tackling a Circle of Thorns temple mish last night. But I'm really starting to enjoy it anyway. I don't complain if people get cocky or sloppy (I think I did with this character earlier), I just try to enjoy the challenge of keeping the team upright no matter how they play. You do need "line of sight" to heal though and it gets tricky in really cramped conditions (caves, temples etc). Sometimes they'll be close, you know they're in trouble, but if you can't see to them, can't heal 'em.
10813  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Champions Online (Cryptic's new MMO) on: March 10, 2008, 03:11:05 PM
I'll keep digging (and thanks for the kind comment  icon_smile). I just mean ya'll don't need me to find every dev post anymore.  icon_smile I'll still "cherry pick" the ones that seem most likely to interest people.

I ran a few tiny fan sites (Geo's Incubation Site, The Shadow's Darkstone Tomb, Ring of Red Central and 12 Angry Soldiers [devoted to a bargain game dev's military shooters]), and I sometimes miss posting news items, but I don't think my current job would let me do that regularly anymore. I just sneak in here when I should be working sometimes.  icon_wink Oddly enough, it was my dialup host that offered pretty awesome free-included Web hosting including cgi-bin access and a generous hit/bandwidth allowance. My cable provider (Cox) sux in that regard. So my fan site enthusiasm since withered away.

Well, here's an interesting tidbit. Community Guy Sporkfire said they have a Powerpoint presentation at their corporate site explaining why they believe Champion's engine database will be "improved and optimized to mitigate latency:

Lag mitigation discussion thread (with a link to the Powerpoint presentation)

And dev Arkayne mentioned they'll have a Web feature up shortly explaining what the consequences of death will be in the game (I doubt they'll just parrot COH's debt system, or the "just run back from the graveyard" aspect as in WoW).

What Should the Consequences of Death Be?
I'll bet this might be subject to change depending on how feedback is in the beta down the road.

I'd like to see something creatively done with it though. I'm not sure yet.But think about all the times a comic book character dies and gets resurrected.

10814  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: March 09, 2008, 07:26:58 PM
Oh if you want to catch up on the videos, Gametrailers has a lengthy page:

The Character demonstration gives an idea of how things start:
Apparently, right away, you pull a sword out of your...  saywhat icon_lol
10815  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Titan Quest on Vista on: March 09, 2008, 04:45:10 PM
You might check around the fan-run forums (Iron Lore's dead but the fans running those forums plan to keep going):

Plug "Vista" into the search box and you'll see quite a few threads on diff situations.

Saw a post where a guy had trouble installing TQ in the 64-bit version of Vista, but not in the 32-bit. There was also a mention of needing a particular version of DirectX9 for Vista. Also, NVIDIA has various hotfixes for its videocards for Vista-related issues.

Although some of the Vista threads there deteriorate into "Vista sucks" and "No, everything runs great in Vista for me, you're a moron!" type discussions.  Roll Eyes
10816  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: March 09, 2008, 05:45:25 AM
Something called The MMO Gamer has another take from GDC, you might find it of interest though the impressions are strictly from watching a brief demo of already seen footage (no hands-on):

GDC Interview: Age of Conan Game Director Gaute Godager
From the actual brief interview:
*Asked about the delays.
Gaute Godager: First of all, I understand that people get concerned, because being on the outside, not really knowing what’s going on, I’d just see one delay after another—or two delays, basically. You wonder what’s going on.

It’s basically us loving the game. It’s just us giving it enough time to mature, fix all the bugs. It’s much more important for an MMO to have a rock-solid launch than it is for us to keep a specific date. Though, I must say the 20th of May is definitely going to be the date when this game is coming out.

There is a big difference, though, on the internet between the people playing the game, our beta testers, and the people not playing our game. The beta testers whole-heartedly support us and say this is the right move for the game [That's great, although I've known plenty of folks who just play MMO betas and never sign up once they actually have to pay for it. I'm sure going back to Meredian 59, no beta tester in the history of MMOs ever thought the game was "ready to launch." Am I right? Who would ever want their "free" beta MMO to end?  stirthepot - blackjack]. And there wasn’t really one spot that had any big issues or big problems, it was more a general lifting the game in many areas and removing bugs, and polishing it, basically.
*About PVP and PVE, how much time players will spend on each..
Gaute Godager: I’m not going to speculate on that, because we are going to open PvP servers and PvE servers, and it’s really up to the player. We have a deep system that allows players to get PvP progression through PvP levels.

We have several types of PvP minigames, like capture the skull, a four-man capture the flag. We have annihilation, free-for-all PvP areas, and of course the massive siege PvP system.

So, it’s really up to the player—what I can say is that people who do enjoy PvP will have a lot of different varieties of PvP to dabble in, or taste, or engulf themselves with inside Age of Conan.

*What do players expect from Conan?  nod
Everyone instantly realizes what it is, and what they want to see. They want to see blood and gore and beheadings and buxom women [I thought Conan was a sensitive guy!  icon_lol ], and something new and fresh and more realistic.
He has some interesting thoughts on the M-rating concerns too, but I think I've already gone cut 'n' paste overboard here. icon_biggrin

I think they should use his sentence there in the advertisements. In big colorful letters...
Age of Conan!
Blood and gore and beheadings and buxom women!
10817  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Rikti Invasion battle screenshots on: March 08, 2008, 08:11:24 PM
Couple more from Atlas. If nothing else, these events bring people together and the servers don't feel so empty all of a sudden.  icon_smile

After a respec trial and Manticore TF, got Dr. Barium to 36 and finally got to try out Neutron Bomb power, which is fun but not as powerful as it is visually.  icon_cool

10818  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Rikti Invasion battle screenshots on: March 08, 2008, 01:50:18 PM
Here's some pics from Rikti Invasion battles last night:

The Rikti ships are really something to see, as they drop explosives and A-bombs (I think the A-bombs spawn Rikti troops if you don't take them out within a certain amount of time, if I'm understanding it right -- or else maybe they just indicate where the troops will spawn in regardless  icon_confused) Unfortunately, you can't damage these ships at all -- if you get too close (as I did here), some sort of laser turret gun fries your arse in 1-2 shots.  icon_surprised

If several A-bombs drop in one place, then you're in for some serious chaos...

Like so. It's not exactly cerebral combat, but everyone in the zone seems to gather around these things, and it's a nice crazy change of piece. OK exp but it's not some Winter Lords thing.  drool

Similar scene over in Founder's Falls near the main fountain.

10819  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: COH Comic Book Creator stuff on: March 07, 2008, 10:44:16 PM
And for a few brief shining moments, my comic book creations were stars again.  icon_cool

And yeah I do think at this point 4 years after COH's release (April 2004) and 3 after COV (October 2005), they should be bargain basement pricing the games. I don't expect the monthly fees will ever go down, but it was wise when they went to the COH/COV covered under the one price (it wasn't that way at COV's launch).
10820  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Eee Pc? on: March 07, 2008, 10:30:31 PM
I fished around and while you can buy it online from Best Buy (Circuit City doesn't carry it), they don't carry it in stores:

'tis the 4GB SSD drive, 512MB RAM, Linux OS version for $399.99:

fwiw, the customer reviews are pretty uniformly enthusiastic there (for many products, they're not). Though it doesn't sound like my larger hands would do well on the teeny keyboard.

Best prices from online stores I've had any experience with are Amazon ($349.99) and ($357.61), according to Pricegrabber.

Here's Amazon's:

Just supplying links in case anyone else was interested in the customer review stuff.
10821  Gaming / Analog Gaming / Re: Ziff-Davis bankruptcy reorganization (1Up, EGM etc.) on: March 07, 2008, 09:10:17 PM
Maybe you're confusing them with Gamespot and the mass-exodus after the Kane & Lynch Fiasco? Or maybe all the 1Up guys are running over to Gamespot to fill the openings there? icon_biggrin
10822  Gaming / Analog Gaming / Re: Ziff-Davis bankruptcy reorganization (1Up, EGM etc.) on: March 07, 2008, 09:04:05 PM
1Up's editor has a blog post explaining some boring business minutae. But basically, they see it as a good thing and they'll technically have new owners once they emerge from bankruptcy, little or no more debt to deal with, and more money to spend on their sites and magazines (in theory):

That Chapter 11 thing...
10823  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes fan comics on: March 07, 2008, 06:05:46 PM
I finally got all four of my Metal Mandroid screenshot comics (done using Comic Book Creator software a couple years back -- there's now a much better 2.0 version of the software, which I've not tried yet) uploaded to Hypercomics (Planetwide's free hosting site for fan comics of all sorts).

My Metal Mandroid stuff is over here (each is about 21-22 pages long, I was trying to emulate print comics in length):

You can see a pretty vast collection of City of Heroes/Villains themed fan comics at a group there (I went ahead and joined it, and added my four to it):
(You'll see Blackjack and my Metal Mandroid avatar at the bottom of the member list there smile).

I didn't think this was worth a separate thread at this point (I searched archives here and there was never a thread or interest in Comic Book Creator), so I though I'd mention it here.
10824  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: March 07, 2008, 04:50:26 PM
Even if I'm not a WoW fan, two things to keep in mind:
-Families love playing stuff like WoW and COH (among others) together, and I'm not sure flying heads and limbs, and blood spray on your HUD (even if you can turn violence settings down) will have as wide an appeal. My favorite Turbografix-16 game was "Splatterhouse," and my favorite fighting game was probably "Die By The Sword," so you probably can tell my feelings. icon_twisted Though I'm not quite the Gore fan I once was...

-Not that retailers are very good about policing it (I saw a guy sell a Grand Theft Auto game to what appeared to be a 12 year old once, no parents in sight), but the M-rating may reduce the buying audience and perhaps prevent certain squeamish retailers (Wal-Mart etc.) from carrying it.

Well my tiny carp was that it seems like sword animations seem strictly horizontal, without a lot of variety (beyond the Kill Moves). Hopefully, it's just the footage they showed.

Eurogamer (imho) is notoriously hard on games in previews, but I like that -- do we really need another preview about how awesomolicious something is? So I was kinda impressed that they did a 360 on Age of Conan after expressing much disappointment in what they had tried a few months back.
10825  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: March 07, 2008, 03:02:23 AM
Eurogamer, which I swear is now reviewing some games so early that they're reviewing them when they're only concept art  Roll Eyes, posted an updated preview the other day (mark my words, they'll review Age of Conan a month before it goes live):
They seem to think the extra months of work, and the delays, have really improved the shape of the game tremendously.
The Age of Conan we saw on those presentation PCs was looking ripped and oiled: the game visuals and interface have been buffed and what was already quite beautiful now seemed polished and presentable against the other MMOs on the market. The visuals for what we saw in San Francisco were incredibly tight - superb animation, full day-night cycle lighting, incredible view distance, and so on.

The hands-on play and high-level dungeon demo was the kind of pitch-perfect fantasy MMO that the likes of Vanguard have been grasping at without success in the last couple of years. There's very little new or surprising about this aspect of Age of Conan - aside from the way the talent systems open up or the way the level structures are delivered - and the core game is still a mix of tanks, healers and damage-dealers.

Nevertheless we now get the sense that this is simply the backbone of the game, and that Age of Conan has much more going on in the background.
They're impresed with the PVP stuff, siege warfare, fortresses etc., but they and the devs know it really won't be known how well it works on a massive scale until the game launches.
10826  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Delayed (one more time y'all!) on: March 07, 2008, 02:41:58 AM
Thar's a new "Epic Moments Trailer" at gametrailers:

HD version over here:

No doubt the game's going to be gorgeous. Whether it's any fun, and whether you can play it on a less than $3,000 gaming PC at an appreciable framerate? Who knows.  icon_confused I venture this won't be the kind of game most parents will play with their kids. Well maybe some...

"Now Bobby, just remember not to take an axe to school and do this."
"OK pop."
"Because in real life it's a whole lot messier and it makes so much more work for the janitor!"
"Oh all right." *sigh*

Lots of decapitations and fatality moves. Keep this game away from Jack Thompson.  drool icon_lol

I much prefer this kind of video (and the last couple), which let the game speak for itself, rather than some of the EA Mythic Warhammer videos where Abbott and Costello the Devs attempt to be funny without hardly letting you see any footage of the game in action.

I attended a business conference in Philly last May. On my way back to the hotel from the Liberty Bell area, there was this presumably insane guy outside the subway station with a huge python (I think, it was a huge snake that belonged in Age of Conan saywhat) waving its head and tail at us pedestrians as we walked by, shirking in horror. That's now my permanent Philly Trademark Vision.  icon_cool
10827  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: March 06, 2008, 08:56:10 PM
I understand, but I don't enjoy playing that way thus why I never put much time into COV.  icon_neutral My dream was to be a dual-pistols Thug MM cowboy but I just found the experience frustrating. I did at least on test server get to try some fully tricked out MMs (for some special tests, they just let your character auto-level and get to try everything).

Hey, they announced some upcoming in-game Rikti invasion events:
The Rikti Return! Thursday, March 6, 2008
The looming threat of the Rikti Invasion Force still hangs like a dark pall over Earth. Despite the best efforts of humanity, aggressive Rikti incursions still plague the planet. Advance warning systems indicate the Rikti are massing for attacks on the following dates throughout the year:

• March 7th through the 13th
• April 25th through May 1st
• June 13th through June 19th
• August 1st through August 7th
• Sept 26th through Oct 2nd
• November 14th through November 20th

Prepare for a desperate battle to save Earth from the Rikti Invasion Force! Aggressive Rikti forces will attack Paragon City and Rogue Isle with increased frequency at any time during the above dates! Some important items to remember about Rikti Invasions:

• When Zones within the cities are under attack, a world-wide alert will be issued by Vanguard. This alert will show up in your Chat window on the System channel, warning you in which zone attack is imminent.

• While the invasion is occurring, players do not receive debt while outdoors in an invaded zone.

• Those in that zone that do not wish to be at risk of Rikti attack are asked to take shelter immediately. They can do so by leaving the zone, or moving inside buildings or under cover (overpasses, parking garages, etc.).

• The combative inhabitants in a zone will move off the streets and to safer locations when a Rikti Invasion takes place.

• Rikti bombs appear to be unstable and not 100% reliable. Some do not explode on impact and only embed themselves in the ground. These bombs have been noted to detonate after a time, so take caution when you see these. They can be disarmed or delayed by inflicting damage upon them.
10828  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Eee Pc? on: March 06, 2008, 07:44:14 PM
Oh, speak of the devil, they just yesterday announced a model that has Windows XP pre-installed:

ASUS Officially Launches Eee PC with Microsoft Windows Operating System
Amidst great expectations, ASUS today launched the ASUS Eee PC pre-installed with Microsoft Windows XP. This new offering of the ever-popular Eee PC promises to let users enjoy an efficient online and work management experience with the incorporated Windows Live and Microsoft Works features.
Also maybe of interest, I saw an item at Brighthand about Intel's new "Atom" CPUs intended mainly for ultra-small laptops focused on Internet access. They aren't promising the Eee PC will eventually use one, but they seem to suggest it's an ideal example of what Atom's designed for.

Intel Atom Processor Designed for New Handheld Mobile Devices
Intel has taken the wraps off the Atom, an upcoming family of low-power processors designed specifically for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and other Internet-centric computers arriving later this year.

This processor will be based on an entirely new microarchitecture designed specifically for small devices and low power, while maintaining the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set compatibility consumers are accustomed to when using a standard PC and the Internet.

... Intel also hopes this processor will be included in low-cost laptops that emphasize Internet access. An example of this class -- which Intel calls Netbooks -- is the Asus Eee PC.

Questions. Well, I'm a reporter (trade industry, basically writing about segments of the oil and chemical industries, you wouldn't invite me to a tree hugger conference  icon_lol). I don't travel a lot, but I do cover maybe two big conferences a year, and take maybe 2-3 site visit trips a year to write feature stories from.

While I wouldn't write the Great American Novel, or a massive morose book called, "The Death of the PC Gaming Platform in the 21st Century"  crybaby icon_lol, I thought it would be a handy thing to check e-mail with (the conferences are usually in hotels with Wi-Fi everywhere), and perhaps to transcribe some notes from speeches I cover.

Maybe Best Buy has this but I've yet to see one in my local stores. So my basic question is whether you can type on it for any period of time without your fingers cramping.  icon_confused

Beyond that:
-What's the "build quality" like? Does it feel like the hinge would give out after opening and closing it a few dozen times? Does the finish peel off like the hubcaps on my otherwise wonderful 1996 Toyota Corolla.  icon_razz

-Does it feel responsive or sluggish? (I am curious whether it'll be more sluggish on Windows XP than on the customized Linux the original versions have used)

-Does it overheat if you use it past a certain amount of time? Warm, hot to the touch etc.

-Does it make a racket in operation? I'm notoriously noise-sensitive (I once ate a $150 return fee on a Micro Center PC because it made a racket like a 747 jet engine in use).

-I read dimensions and such but is it easy to carry? Does it feel too "slippery" to carry safely?

-On the current Linux models, is there any difficulty converting text documents to MS Word and back? I'm not an MS Word fan per se, but it's what we use at my office.

Thanks for any insights. smile
10829  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: March 06, 2008, 02:30:33 PM
I forgot I did some COH stuff with Comic Book Creator (Planetwide released a Comic Book Creator 2 that adds a lot of audio features, among other things - Planetwide is probably majorly bummed about Marvel Universe's demise. They've been doing well selling customized version of CBC (for games, or for specific comic brands).

I'm going to see about posting my old 2006 work at Hypercomics. Here's Metal Mandroid issue #1:
I did about three issues before burning out on the whole idea. I belatedly figured out there was a hotkey to remove interface stuff quickly, which would've made this earlier stuff look less "game-like." But really I was trying to help promote the game, and I poured in some maudlinness from my own life at the time. smile

Doesn't display quite as crisply as I'd like, but oh well. I was using a CRT monitor at 1024X768 at the time.

MM is basically a riff on Iron Man and The Six Million Dollar Man. Although there was in fact a little bit character in the Marvel universe called Mandroid (a S.H.I.E.L.D. creation), that was quite a bit different and I've never (knock on wood) been bothered by NCSoft to change the name. smile

There are soooo many new emotes (cell phones, cameras, the radio mission gadget, etc.) that would've helped with those book ideas.  tear icon_lol
10830  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: March 06, 2008, 01:42:35 PM
The Corruptor is COV's equivalent to a blaster, but is not exactly the same thing (has some different strengths).

A dev (Back Alley Brawler) pointed out a COH Wiki entry that has pics of all the different weapon customizations in both COH and COV (note that that COH/COV tend to share the same customization options for an equivalent class):

You can usually customize the colors at the costume shop too unless the item is too skinny to support the option (certain swords for example).

I checked on my villains a bit. I had a military themed Mastermind at 21, and a Thugs Mastermind that uses dual pistols at 14. Other than that, just a bunch in single digits, and maybe a stalker at 10. I really thought I'd love Masterminding but I found them (at the levels I could use them) horrific endurance-burners and the various low-medium level pets were not terribly effective. If I'd gotten any MM into the upper 20s and 30s I'm sure I would've had a better feeling but I lacked the patience.
10831  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Steve Jobs interview at Fortune on: March 05, 2008, 10:35:10 PM
ba-dump-bump  Flog that man! icon_lol

Oh man that profile article has so many great passages. One chestnut:
Jobs himself judges the world in binary terms. Products, in his view, are "insanely great" or "shi*." One is facing death from cancer or "cured." Subordinates are geniuses or "bozos," indispensable or no longer relevant. People in his orbit regularly flip, at a second's notice, from one category to another, in what early Apple colleagues came to call his "hero-shi*head roller coaster."
[I self censored smile-bj]
10832  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Steve Jobs interview at Fortune on: March 05, 2008, 10:20:55 PM
I tried to find a general Apple thread here but couldn't track one down (point me to it if there is one).

Fortune has this pretty interesting extensive interview with Steve Jobs, who they seem to have caught while he was on vacation with his family in Hawaii:

Now if you think he's a pompous, self-absorbed windbag then you'll get no pleasure out of reading and please don't visit the link.  icon_smile I found some of his thoughts interesting, especially in the context of other companies making screw ups that Apple has avoided. Also found his comment about not hiring consultants or doing market research interesting.

fwiw, I don't own any Apple hardware, and I use a Rhapsody subscription service instead of iTunes (although I use the latter to download the occasional TV show episode).

Here's a few thoughts I found interesting (you may find them completely boring  icon_lol):
"So you can't go out and ask people, you know, what the next big [thing.] There's a great quote by Henry Ford, right? He said, 'If I'd have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me 'A faster horse.'"
I think this explains why so many new Apple products have people complaining on various blogs and boards that the new product doesn't do A, B, C; and lacks A, B, C; and yet millions of people line up for the new product anyway.

"We do no market research. We don't hire consultants. The only consultants I've ever hired in my 10 years is one firm to analyze Gateway's retail strategy so I would not make some of the same mistakes they made [when launching Apple's retail stores]. But we never hire consultants, per se. We just want to make great products.
If you think about all the game publishers, book publishers, music companies, film studios who obsess over market studies and consultant findings and focus groups, it makes you wonder.  icon_smile
The engineering is long gone in most PC companies. In the consumer electronics companies, they don't understand the software parts of it. And so you really can't make the products that you can make at Apple anywhere else right now. Apple's the only company that has everything under one roof.
I'm reminded of Palm's ill-fated decision to spinoff its Palm OS software division. It was really a disaster. I mean, who else was Palm OS going to make OS software for?  icon_confused
"I'm actually as proud of many of the things we haven't done as the things we have done. The clearest example was when we were pressured for years to do a PDA, and I realized one day that 90% of the people who use a PDA only take information out of it on the road. They don't put information into it. Pretty soon cellphones are going to do that, so the PDA market's going to get reduced to a fraction of its current size, and it won't really be sustainable. So we decided not to get into it.

If we had gotten into it, we wouldn't have had the resources to do the iPod. We probably wouldn't have seen it coming."
I still plug along with my Palm Zire 71 (and by God I do put information into it Tongue), but I can't argue with his logic. A lot of us remaining PDA fans still beg for Apple to re-enter the market or for the iPod Touches to become more PDA-like but he seems to be clear on not wanting to enter that market.

"We've had one of these before [current economic downturn], when the dot-com bubble burst. What I told our company was that we were just going to invest our way through the downturn, that we weren't going to lay off people, that we'd taken a tremendous amount of effort to get them into Apple in the first place -- the last thing we were going to do is lay them off.
Amen. smile Though, I imagine a lot of tech companies aren't in that enviable position to think that way now.

Blah blah blah. Anyway, just thought it might interest some folks. I'm sure I'll buy an Apple product some day but... not yet.

The flipside is a Fortune piece (that he refused to provide any quotes for) profiling Jobs himself, and his many, um, difficult sides.  icon_razz

The trouble with Steve Jobs
10833  Gaming / Analog Gaming / Ziff-Davis bankruptcy reorganization (1Up, EGM etc.) on: March 05, 2008, 09:27:24 PM
Thought I'd put this here since they have publications and news sites in both PC (Games for Windows) and consoles (EGM etc.) and both (1up).

Ziff Davis Files For Bankruptcy, Continues Normal Operations
The company says that an ad hoc group of shareholders have set aside $24.5 million to continue normal operations as it undergoes the Chapter 11 case, as well as for operations after it re-emerges.

It also notes that as part of the proceeding, Ziff Davis has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York "for permission to continue paying employee wages and salaries and to provide employee benefits without interruption."

[CEO comments]....We matched audience growth with impressive digital revenue expansion. And while the print market continued to be challenging, we continue to be print category leaders in the markets we serve.”
Not a DOOOOMMM!!!! situation by any means. It's good they have some shareholders setting aside that much money to get through a tough situation. Still, I'd be a nervous employee.

When I got laid off by a small newspaper in 1991, I remember us having an employees meeting with the publisher to "clear the air" about paycheck concerns a few weeks before the floor was yanked out (being told to "not cash a check" til a certain date so they can be sure the have enough funds is a clear warning sign that we all ignored there  icon_frown).

Anyway, it's really, really tough for print publications (magazines, newspapers everything) right now. The newspaper chain I used to work for is laying off people and cutting back left and right.

In the trade media that I work in (not gaming alas tear), we make great revenue from color print ads in our monthly magazines. The e-mail newsletter I work on has button ads and banners, and while it's good for us (and keeps me employed!  icon_smile), it's peanuts compared to what the print ads bring in.

It's great the world's Going Digital. It's just I just keep seeing newspapers who are doing well with their Web sites but awful with print circulation having to cut, and cut, and buy out editorial staffers. Some day, mark my words, a lot of publishers will have to hire volunteers or just have no content at all. DOOMMM!!!! I would love to be wrong however. smile
10834  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: God of War: Chains of Olympus Impressions on: March 05, 2008, 09:12:57 PM
fwiw, a fan mod video (from about a year ago) showed how to add a second nub to a PSP (though I get the impression it may just be passing the right side button inputs onto the nub?):

I haven't used a soldering iron since 1984, so I don't think it' something I'll try. I have MOH: Heroes, the Syphon Filter PSP games, and tried Call of Duty: Roads to Victory, Wild Arms etc. I can't move or aim with anything approaching precision in any of those unless resorting to shoulder-trigger auto-targeting. Even then I often find/found myself pointing in the wrong direction. And God help me in multiplayer (which I did for a while with MOH: Heroes).

I've often heard it would "cost too much," but I'm pretty sure Sony has never said that or really even commented on the concept (I don't guarantee that, but hey, I googled the topic icon_razz). I mean, it's a circuit board when you get down to it. A new circuit board, a new case, you make a new model (as Nintendo has through Gameboy, GBA/GBA-SP, DS etc.). Bingo, suddenly all these games that feel klutzy on PSP don't. But whatever, I guess Sony doesn't care about it or that most gamers would like it, so why should I? Clearly I'm just ... deadhorse

Chains of Olympus isn't aiming to change peoples' minds about the franchise. I doubt if someone disliked it on PS2 that the PSP incarnation would change anything.

I spent a lot of time here touting SOCOM: Tactical Strike and that was an example of doing something truly different on PSP within its control scheme limitations, and being different enough that even if you hated the SOCOM games on PS2, you might find something to like in Tactical Strike. I'm not saying God of War: Tactical Olympus Strike would've been a good idea.  icon_lol

Only that Chains of Olympus doesn't seem to bring anything fresh to the series in its PSP incarnation so it's going to appeal to the PS2 games' fanbase period, pretty much.
10835  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Call of Duty MMO (just Activision exec speculation) on: March 05, 2008, 06:21:56 PM

Activision's Kotick Talks Guitar Hero Expansion, Possible Call Of Duty MMO
In his response, Kotick suggested that Activision would be able to learn from Blizzard’s expertise in the MMO market and help to suggest how a Call of Duty MMO might work. However, it is unclear whether his comments were merely a hypothetical example of possible synergy between the two companies or a real hint at future plans.
Frankly, an Activision exec speculating about "what Activision can learn from Blizzard about turning Call of Duty into an MMO" just scares me.  Roll Eyes I just have this vision of Activision execs thinking Blizzard is a genie and if they rub it enough, out will pop another 8-million selling MMO.

WoW didn't fall off a turnip truck. It had a very successful and recognizable franchise (Warcraft) with several popular games and expansions, and history behind it that lent itself well to an MMO world.

Call of Duty? MMO doesn't seem to roll off the lips, though some of the stuff in COD4's multiplayer you could argue might work in an MMO style world, if meshed with a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. type environment with NPCs and missions and such. I still don't think most FPS players will come close to a monthly fee game for that kind of game. And I doubt any of Blizzard's experience with WoW would be at all applicable in that type of a situation.

Infinity Ward does amazing shooters well. I worry Activision's going to try to turn COD into a Swiss Army Knife franchise (MMOs! RTSs! COD Sports! COD Clothing Designer Software!).

My advice to Activision? Leave Blizzard alone (they've done fine to this point without wasting time conceptualizing other developers' franchises) and enjoy their revenue. smile

OK that's all my random Larry King like thoughts. smile I thought I'd post an "ZOHMIGOD!" thread before someone else here did.  slywink
10836  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: God of War: Chains of Olympus Impressions on: March 05, 2008, 06:05:01 PM
I picked this up at Best Buy at lunch (the shelves were drowning with copies). I'll hopefully have some impressions to post tonight or tomorrow. smile

Honestly, I'm really disappointed with the 2008 PSP games lineup. Patapon ain't my cup of tea (other than this, it's about the only PSP title gathering any sort of buzz or momentum), and the influx of interesting turn-based strategy games seems to have dried up mostly.

I've played some PSP games (SOCOM: Tactical Strike) where the devs really seem to have put some care into living with the absence of a second thumbstick. I think far too many of the action games don't do that, thus way too many end up with negative reviews carping about controls (it really is too difficult to do a competent-playing FPS on it though it doesn't stop devs from trying). Sony hasn't shown any inclination to create a two-thumbstick version so it's up to developers to work with the the limitations properly (imho).
10837  Non-Gaming / Political / Religious Nonsense / Re: McCain = Bush on: March 05, 2008, 04:24:59 PM
I had more respect for the McCain of 2000. But politicians of all parties do certain things to get elected, and then we generally hold our breathes to see whether they're still going to "kiss up" once they're in office, or if they have a different mindset once the election's over (i.e., they get a backbone). So you could argue some voters hope the McCain of 2008 who treats Bush like a king now (but couldn't practically utter Bush's name in 2000 without disgust) will suddenly revert to the 2000 version if he becomes president.

I haven't made up my mind if it's best to have a president with military/battle experience. You could argue such a person would be less likely to send troops to battle (and possible death) without fully considering the consequences, and could better communicate with the military. You could also argue such a person might be more likely to think he/she could crack an overseas situation with military force better than with diplomacy. History's full of both (generals who were horrible presidents; presidents with no military background who were terrific military commanders-in-chief).

So when McCain thinks he's obviously the only "patriotic" choice because he was in the military, and the only one who can keep the nation secure, I don't buy it. It's not that simple. He should read a few military history books. smile

I was really rather sad to read in my area paper (Wash. Post) today that Obama's advisers are saying he should start doing "sharper political attacks" on Clinton and McCain. Which really only means that eventually the race will become just as negative and focused on "my opponent is an unpatriotic bastige who doesn't care about you at all" with the idea that you should vote for someone because you "fear" the other choice. This is the tact almost all the local politicians in my area take now (northern Va.). You get constant mailers accusing a candidate of 25 things, and you can't even tell it's from his/her opponent unless you read the fine print at the end.  disgust

And people wonder why so many people don't bother to vote anymore? (I always do even if all the candidates make me hold my nose at the voting machines  Tongue). Who wants to vote for people who think that way? (regardless of party platform).
10838  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: CoX Issue 11 - Dual Blades and Weapon Customization on: March 05, 2008, 04:03:17 PM
I PM'd you.  icon_smile I have a smattering of villains on various servers.

I just never got into COV as much as COH. And I was one of those monkeys in the choir tossing poop at COV and complaining that no T-rated game is going to let you do anything remotely, truly villain-like. So why even bother?  icon_confused I understand the reasoning. You're not going to have some mass murderer villain, some split personality psycho, or some dastardly villain who travels back in time and zaps heroes as teens so they never get to be super heroes. Sick, aren't I?  icon_twisted But that's the kinda twisted stuff I was interesting in seeing how they'd do, not basically changing clickable glowies over to sticks of dynamite and exchanging escort/rescues for kidnappings. disgust I know though that much of COH's charm is kids playing and families playing together. Nothing truly villain-like is going to be acceptable in that regards, and I can dig that.

I would've rather seen the time and resources have gone into expanding COH further, adding more classes, content etc. Jack Emmert seems to agree in interviews that COV just wasn't different enough to appeal to people who didn't already like COH to begin with (so it didn't really expand their market the way Cryptic hoped).

Still, I am glad many of COV's improvements and neat ideas (esp. the radio missions) translated over into COH eventually.

I think I got one character into the 20s (a military-oriented master mind).

Anyway, my past COV feelings aside, I would enjoy teaming up with ya'll and we'll try to make it happen.  icon_smile
10839  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Notification of Enforcement Action on: March 05, 2008, 03:56:31 PM

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on March 05, 2008, 03:03:18 PM

I hate xbox live.


Xbox Live is the largest collection of racist assholes I've ever encountered.  It blows my mind.
I have to say I've run into people like that in most PC shooters I've tried to play online. People ask me why I don't use headsets more often, and I tend to say it's just easier to ignore people like that in text chat than it is in audio. Though I certainly can enjoy using them with in a small-medium team of people who didn't learn to cuss yesterday  disgust.

I agree a suspension seems excessive for something like that, given what else goes on in the online gaming world (regardless of platform).
10840  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Companies EA bought then closed on: March 05, 2008, 01:45:19 PM

Quote from: Daehawk on February 27, 2008, 06:43:39 PM

I still want a full blown sequel to Terra Nova..FMV and all.
Wow, I was a big Terra Nova fan too.  icon_cool Still got the game/box. I even bought about 10 copies of the strategy guide at Micro Center back in the mid '90s because they were selling them for 99 cents (!) to get rid of overstock. Unfortunately, I didn't know 9 fans to give my extra copies to.  icon_lol

I pick on EA, but most publishers understandably simply want profit. Your games sells, they give you another one to work on.

Your game flops. Say hello, pink slip.

They invest millions in your Hot Game, and the sales are OK don't live up to expectations? Then, hold your breath.  icon_neutral I think that's where it's getting tougher for any of them to accept the idea of a big budget PC-only game. Too many of those aren't reaching anywhere near their spreadsheet expectations without some multiplatform sales boosting.

Although I haven't covered the games industry, I've been a business reporter about 15 years now. Once they get beyond the small business stage, most corporations just don't care about creativity, or people, or tradition, or history. It's spreadsheets, and earnings, and pleasing the shareholders. In a way, it's sad the whole gaming industry is so wrapped up in that now (aside from independents and smaller players in the market). It means you end up with a lot of big players owning most of the industry who don't really care about the people in the smaller devs they acquire, or their history, or accomplishments.

Which is why I still think Bioware (EA) and Blizzard (Activision) should "watch their back," no matter how much they are rolling in the gravy right now and no matter how much those publisher/owners claim they won't interfere.  paranoid
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