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Keyboard Porn.

Something interesting just happened recently. Someone was savvy enough to spot which keyboard that the best Starcraft 2 player in the world, Fruit Dealer, was using during the GSL. (You can argue otherwise, but you’re friggen’ crazy.)

I was going to pass over it until I realized that it was a mechanical keyboard, which I previously considered a relic of days gone by. Turns out that mechanical keyboards are still very much alive. To the detriment of my sleep schedule, I find myself rabidly indulging in mechanical keyboard information. Putting it all together, the following links were great for entry explanation.

http://www.overclock.net/computer-peripherals/491752-mechanical-keyboard-guide.html

http://www2.razerzone.com/blackwidow – What are Mechanical Keyboards.

Ugh, so tired, yet so tempted!

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Posted by on October 4, 2010 in Starcraft 2

 

Civ V – The Music Alone

The entire music folder of Civ V. 18 1/2 hours.

Civ V’s music evokes intelligence. I haven’t listened through the entire set, but so far, I haven’t run into a single bad track within six hours of gameplay mixed with listening to the folder itself when I’m playing other games, Starcraft II especially. If a game does not absolutely demand atmosphere, I am listening to the folder.

I look at this and I say, wow, that’s a deal. Even if you dislike the changes about the game, the size of the music folder, which is playable with most players, is far beyond the $50 pricetag. I mean, on iTunes, we’re talking at least $200 of music from around the world. (I was about to say 300, but there are a few tracks that hover around the measly minute range.) While it may not seem like it, I’ve been persistent in my quest for the ideal study music. I’ve tried ambient, but the artificial quality often distracts me. Subsequently, I know nothing about musical history, save for a few compositions that I can only name by reciting the chorus. Civ 5 just made it easy. Almost too easy. Everything is in one place to be consumed.

Every time I sit down to listen, I feel glad that I installed quiet fans and upgraded my soundcard to a Xonar DS over a X-fi xtreme gamer. The soundscapes are calming and provocative in the same instance of thought. Even when playing intense games of Starcraft II, scrambling to keep up my macro and micro, the tone set by a majority of the soundtrack allows me to maintain clarity through cognitive fog of war. When I’m not distracted  by other activities, I find myself drifting into cinematic daydreams, tying the excellent compositions to nameless cinema. Small snippets of silent film, rendered with emotional paint and detailed with the intricacy of the score. Civilization is probably best experienced through the music. The visuals pale in comparison to the full and varied landscape of cultural pieces, filling hours and hours of what might be thoughtless time.

Now, be mindful that the soundtrack is rendered somewhat useless by the presence of the music folder. You didn’t actually ‘have’ to pay the extra 10 for a mobile form of the music. However, it isn’t without purpose; the soundtrack is a fine sampler of the folder with tags and other nice organizational bits that make for a clean library. You might feel outraged by the glass-half-empty, but before you go on a mad tirade about how Civ V ripped you off, remember how colossal the folder is and what you have been given for free.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Civilization V

 

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Feeling Vindictive.

Open access beta is capped at 26, which is fine. No pressure to perform now that I know where the content ends for this session.

Google. Solving my shooping laziness.

I’ve been reading the forums and I stumbled upon someone mentioning pay-to-win. I did don’t find the concept offensive, but it is humorous in how it illustrates the fragility of a standard gamer’s ego.

Pay-to-win is simple. Cash shop gives your character advantages. In games before Vindictus, actual player skill didn’t contribute much. As long as you could read a row of skills and memorize some very basic timings, you simply play a glorified, albeit satisfying, calculator. Naturally, cash shop driven competition is frustrating in its extreme cases, but for the most part, pay-to-win is nothing extraordinary given the basic limitations of online gaming.

However, people fling it around a lot. So much so that it did bother me, but it took me a little time to analyze and figure out why it bothered me. Turns out, it is what I call inherently illogical. Something that is wrong, yet when it is stated as a truth, it irks the consciousness before it filters through cold ration. Inherently illogical frustrations are generally applied to trolling or very juvenile annoyances where the reason why something is wrong is more complex than the act itself. As a result, explaining it is viewed as ‘tl;dr’ and never gives you a satisfying cognitive victory until other people rally behind you. Most people get over it, and frankly, that’s what everyone should do, but it is not a resignation that all idiotic patterns of communication are not without explanation, both for the writer and the reader.

Pay-to-win is inherently illogical because:

1) Even if it was perfectly balanced, the poster would likely quit because it would be too hard. You cannot prove this, per say, but you know it be extremely likely given the number of times the term is thrown around and the number of effective ‘losers’ in the MMO market as a whole.

2) Pay-to-win is a universal attribute of almost every online game, whether it involves actual currency or time investment. Therefore, the admission itself is stating the obvious in an inflammatory way.

I spent about ten minutes thinking about this and I can now rest easy with 90% of the mindless copy-paste jargon that generally infuriate others. That being said, the cornerstone of my comfort is comprised of Starcraft 2, where the fiction of a player’s experience often leaks out onto boards then is promptly quashed by the reality that most complainers are not very good at the game to begin with.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Vindictus

 

Miniature Maxing: The small things that make Vindictus a great long-term game.

Vindictus may look like a mindless hack-and-slash game, but there are some design elements that make my intellectual side flutter like a high-school girl over Jacob’s abs.

Vindictus has something really nice going for it: Titles.

Yes, you get titles for doing this.

Most titles I’ve seen in the game do not require you to wear them to get a stat benefit, much like how LOTRO handles traits. Titles are those little bits and pieces of development that fills in the gaps between levels and gear. Of course, there are titles for doing silly things like killing mobs with kicks, environment weapons, etc., which encourages plenty of hilarity, but economically, they do little. Equipment titles, on the other hand, will keep the economy running for a long time.

Equipment set titles bandage this issue. Unlike in most games, when you score an equipment set, it provides you a bonus as long as you wear it, which is always painful. Naturally, your first set is replaced in a day and you bemoan your efforts. Vindictus gently urges you to get sets because they contribute to your stats permanently. Subsequently, when the game matures, many players will want to maximize their base stats and will likely forgo the grind for materials and support the economy via auction house. Equipment set titles are a great, and I mean GREAT, way to keep the wheels turning in MMO economies.

Tokens are surprisingly awesome.

At first, you might scream, “Oh no, it’s like FF14’s fatigue system!” To some degree, you are right, tokens are designed to limit your maximum progress per day, or rather, they’re telling you to get a life in the nicest way possible. I’m fine with this practice because game companies shouldn’t be afraid to tell you that there are more important things in life. However, tokens don’t just teach that lesson; they augment responsibility.

For the first 7 completions per day, each tier 2+ mission requires 2 silver coins. 7-14 requires 3 coins, 15-21 requires 4 coins. You have a maximum of 50 coins, which are recharged periodically (Not sure of the dates.) Efficient use of coins is obvious here: only do 7 runs per day so you get more than the guy who dumps all of his coins on a single day. This is awesome. It helps shorten the gap between casuals and non-casuals, encourages players to exhibit some level of restraint and ensures that all traditional forms of Chinese Gold Farming benefits the publisher and developer, assuming you can buy platinum coins via cash-shop, one of which replaces the cost of silver coins.

I know what you’re thinking right now, fellow grinder. They’re stupid for limiting me. I should be able to dick-measure with investment alone.

Yeah, no. Listen, that mentality has allowed farming companies and sweatshops to flourish simply because time investment is the core component of progress in MMOs. Trust me on this when I say that gold-farmers can trump your time-sinking powers two-fold without breaking a sweat. You want a game that requires skill and not a freaking bot to be on the top-tier. Being against this token system is basically akin to encouraging inflation in a game economy.

You know what tokens mean? Players can dominate the economic field for once, or at least aren’t at the mercy of gold-buyers. I don’t know about you, but I’ll play Civ 5 for a little bit every week instead of suffering the hopelessness associated with inflation.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Vindictus

 

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Vindictus: Old gnoll, new tricks.

Game’s down for maintenance right now (again as of 10:30 AM PST), but the good 4 7 hours I had with Vindictus were very pleasant. By pleasant, I mean terrifically gratifying. I murdered hundreds of slobbering gnolls, showering my screen with oily blood and felt amazed. After I started feeling too powerful, the game chucks this magnificent red mega-gnoll and slams a monstrous hammer into my library of extremely cool boss fights. (I forgot to press the screenshot button, sadly.)

At the moment, Vindictus is probably the best F2P starter experience I’ve ever encountered. The tutorial was delightfully epic, the interface is absolutely gorgeous and the gameplay is definitely a part of the next-gen cadre the jaded MMO community has been slobbering for some time for.  I paused for a few moments to figure things out, then found myself gently guided by the intelligence behind the game’s flow and into a state of gaming nirvana, where I didn’t feel lost and the only thing keeping me from kicking ass was a load screen.The Source engine is absolutely fantastic for this game, rendering plentiful amounts of gore and mayhem without a hiccup in sight on my mid-range. If there are any significant bugs, I certainly haven’t run into them.

You know what this game is? Really? Super-Badass Phantasy Star Online II TURBO. When I first picked it up, I had this feeling that I had played a game with a similar flow in a past life. Before I started considering what my past form was, I realize that my current life had held the experience. The structure is very similar and easy to work through. While some people may hate Phantasy Star, I enjoy it thoroughly. I remember sitting around in community college with PSPs, playing the living crap out of Phantasy Star Portable and really getting a sense of camaraderie with my friends after we smashed through the content and compared our title tracks to PSPerfect. Vindictus evokes a very similar, “You vs. Epic boss” feel with a small party size of 4 and has plenty of titles that I suspect will become a central motivator for prolonged play, as many of them appear to improve your stats without forcing you to equip them.

Of course, Petualant Pioneering always finds room for complaints, or in this case, a couple observations that are likely to be unfixed due to the nature of the game’s design:

1) Hosting – Unfortunately, there are some limitations to how Vindictus works with parties. Each instance appears to be hosted by the party leader, whose connection and possibly his game performance affects the smoothness of the session. As a result, you’ll be tearing through levels with really choppy animations and fairly glitchy presentation. It is still playable, but it is distracting and it might deter a few ungrateful folks who want perfect animation quality.

2) Can’t turn off the music – The game is very hush-hush for a while up until you hit a boss battle. While Vindictus’s music is fitting for the theme, I like the option to play my own tracks. At the moment, I don’t see a music slider.

3) Yuck, F2P players – Of course, the community is terrible. Nexon’s reach is far and massive, and unfortunately, it has collected many inept wordsmiths and unpleasant scrubs in its process of climbing to the top. On the forum, you’ll find yourself blanketed in bitching about how the servers are down and how Nexon is inherently evil. That or unified against BRs and the usual fodder. I suppose this isn’t that much of a problem, given that you grow intimate with a handful rather than the entire population thanks to the instancing structure, but there’s definately a copious amount of e-penis and measurement of said organ in the future.

Either way, small gripes compared to my glowing adoration for this game in its entirety. If you convince yourself that this game isn’t worth the time to check out just because you want to be different or you happen to have a pet-mmo that will undoubtedly be crushed by Vindictus’s inevitable success, stop, spin 360 degrees and walk away from the path of shameful foolishness.

Also, after you kick, literally in this case, a bosses’s guts out, the game does some dramatic screenshots which you can choose to save afterwards. A nice, sexy touch as demonstrated below.

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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Vindictus

 

THIS. IS.

Google provides adequate drama to simulate well-kick.

It’s free-to-play mania over here at Petulant Pioneering.

Originally, this post was going to be about how much dick people were sucking in order to get a beta key for Vindictus. Subsequently, I was going to comment on how pathetic some people are in posting queries about this fabled key on Yahoo questions. (For you aspiring sardonics, begging for a key on that site in broken English is approximately half as funny as “how is babby formed?”)

I later revised the theme because I was reduced to cleaning pipes in the form of rampant google searching. It came to my attention that despite there being thousands upon thousands of keys released in the wild, it was near impossible to acquire one outside of a sporadic single-digit window on some cheesy F2P MMO site forum or groveling to another player who immediately ascended to godhood by offering his keys to the lowly masses. The struggle immediately felt more real than I ever expected it to be.

In order to fuel my hunger for these keys, I watched a few videos of the gameplay. After viewing a solid thirty minutes of material, I was sold. Vindictus looks about as polished as Guild Wars 2 at the moment, chock full of simple and satisfying gameplay tidbits, particularly the ability to grapple, which allows you to disable targets, use monsters as weapons against the masses or shields verses projectiles. Remember that old “Rule of Cool?” that Blizzard used to tout? Vindictus picks that up, literally.

Vindictus reminds me of a design philosophy that was prominent during the infancy of MMOs. Essentially, MMOs were fun when they first started because the gameplay was fun to begin with. The subsequent act of measuring the e-penis was a side benefit, not the primary goal. As the format matured, many developers simply acknowledged the fun in measurement and that particular aspect was a sufficient platform to run a game on in the Free to Play market. Now, most MMO players are jaded, mostly because RPGs have about as much gameplay depth as a measuring stick. At best, you’re crunching numbers. Big. Fat. Sexy. Numbers. That was cool when I was young, but now, I like a little more than playing with a few variables with a pretty calculator.

In fact, Vindictus reminds me of the same giddy feeling I had when Granado Espada was first announced. It’s still a MMO, but it’s not a RPG in its entirety. You get that sense of community, but you’re playing something that isn’t as predictable as a skill bar. GE is a MMO…TRPG. (It’s not a RTS given that there is no resource management whatsoever) and it turned out pretty great on all levels, at least up until the point where I realized that there was no attrition in combat.

Like any rational person, I cannot say for certain that this game will have enough depth for the long term, but its visceral appeal definitely makes it a contender for the top spot of my short-term list. Still, I can predict that it will not lick my competitive bone, simply because that’s currently being stinted by Starcraft 2. I know LotRO is not going away any time soon, so it doesn’t hurt to leap into something refreshing in the window before Civilization V.

Hopefully the servers will open soon and I’ll be able to bring my single-digit viewers something more than blabber.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Vindictus

 

Looking for a decent group of people to play LOTRO- GOD AMNESIA ARGH.

Just as the title says, of course. I want to experience this game, but not alone. Alone, well, I have Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the perfect alone game.

It’s late, I’m chilled to the bone and scared to death. Need sleep, need safety. Need companionship.

My name is Daniel. . .

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in Uncategorized