sareini: (Default)
To counter my last post of rage about a stupid team member, I decided I should do a counter-post, listing a couple of the great teams I've been on in my MMO adventures.

1. The MM team of WIN! )

2. The LFD group that was a lawnmower )

tl;dr - sometimes, good teams happen.


Sep. 1st, 2010 06:14 pm
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
I get remarkably grouchy sometimes when I'm playing games. Maybe it's just me being an anti-social bitch at the best of times (in my defence, I claim stress from being a full-time carer and therefore just wanting a quiet time when I relax by playing my computer games), or maybe it's that I'm sometimes unlucky enough to meet up with some truly, truly terrible people while playing.

A month or so ago, Mr Sare and I were invited along on an Imperious Task Force in City of Heroes (for those not in the know, it's the one in ancient Rome where you fight gladiators, Nazis, robots and aliens). Mr Sare rarely does TFs because he doesn't like to team with people he doesn't know, but we knew the majority of people in the group so it was all going to be fine. And for 3/4s of the TF, it was.

The story continues... )

tl;dr - I don't like playing with other people sometimes, and this is one reason why.
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
So, I'm still playing WoW and, remarkably enough, enjoying it still (although searching a cave for an hour for a fricking Tattered Manuscript so I can get one step closer to having a Felhunter is going to be the death of me, I'm sure). Part of the reason I'm actually enjoying playing is because I've managed to find myself some good roleplayers, and currently I spend my evenings with them, hanging round Silvermoon City and getting into trouble. Of course, not everything is perfect though, and so I'd like to take the opportunity to get a rants off my chest.

Rant ahead )

In conclusion: tl;dr - godmoders suck.


Aug. 5th, 2010 11:18 am
sareini: watchmen icon (watchmen)
I was talking with one of my nieces last night about World of Warcraft. She recently had to quit playing because she had, in her own words, "become addicted" to the game and had been playing non-stop. We were joking about how its not nicknamed "World of Warcrack" for nothing, and she explained how she'd gotten a character to level 60 in under 4 weeks, and then levelled a death knight to 80. I jokingly said that my highest character was currently 19, and she asked me how I'd managed that. Now part of the answer is that I have a cat who likes to sit on my keyboard and/or mouse when I'm playing, thus limiting exactly what I can do in the game, but there is another reason - I find it difficult to focus on one character at a time.

In some games that isn't a problem. City of Heroes, for example, actively encourages this, with up to 36 character slots per server, more costume and power combinations than you can shake a stick at and more besides. Having several characters on the go all at once in CoX isn't a problem at all. With other games, however, it's more difficult. In WoW, for example, it feels to me as though you're expected to stick with one character all the way from 1 to 80, and then and only then can you make alts, and they're usually just for fun or because someone needs a different class to your main (this isn't a game policy or anything - considering the number of servers and slots on each server it's quite the opposite - but it appears to be an unspoken rule of the community). EVE Online is another one where alts aren't really considered part of the gaming experience - you can only have a maximum of (I think, it's been a while since I last played) three characters, and only one of them can be learning something at any time, which really cuts down the point of having alts at all there.

It's something that's gotten me thinking, how my taste in MMOs is partly dictated by whether or not I'm going to be tied to one character for a good chunk of the playtime. I have nothing against playing just one character, of course, it's just that I get... bored sometimes. And when I do I want to switch to another character, play in a different way for a while, till I'm feeling ready to play the first one again. To me, it stops me from getting burned out on a game, because if I ever get bored with, say, healing/controlling/support, I can just go play a ranged DPSer who DOTs things till they explode, or similar.

It's going to be interesting when future games come out (The Secret World, I'm looking at you), which may or may not have many options for those of us with altitis but I really, really want to play all the same. Will I be able to keep my attention fixed on just one or two characters, or will the rest of the game be so awesome that I won't care either way (hint: I'm hoping that it's the latter, and so far it's looking that way, but we'll see)?
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
I have something of a love/hate relationship with World of Warcraft. Well, maybe “love” is the wrong word. It’s more of a fascination, really. After all, it has around 11 million people playing it, so it must has something going for it, right? But at the same time, there’s the hate. People seem to take it so seriously. There are so many numbers involved, or at least there are whenever I read forums or articles about it written by players. And it has 11 million people playing it.

But, every now and then I get the urge to play it for a while, just to see what happens. As was the case yesterday, when I re-subscribed. Now, I’ve played WoW before, on and off, in the past, but as I never got any higher than 41, I figured that I’d start from scratch here, with a new character on a new server, and see what happened. So, here I am on the Earthen Ring (EU) server, with my new character, Jachin the Blood Elf Priest. Let’s see where this takes me.

Complete with screenshots! )
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
It was 2002. Or maybe 2003, my memory's become hazy over the years and the fact that I was laid low for much of the time during those years with ME doesn't help much. I think it was 2003. But anyway. Mr Sare had gotten a game while out in town, called Anarchy Online. He'd liked the sound of it, because it was supposed to be sci-fi and it had "Anarchy" in the title, and he was curious because it as one of these new "MMOs" that were popping up in the computer game world. We like to keep up with the trends, do we in the Sareini household.

So he sat down to play it. An hour or so later, I went to see how he was doing and to languish in his bed for a while (it was bigger than mine, more room to sprawl about).

"I don't like this game," he grumbled.*

"What's wrong with it?" I asked.

"I can't understand the controls. Or what I'm supposed to do. Or anything, really. It's stupid," he sulked.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?"

"Dunno. Just not play it, I guess. Can't take it back to the shop."

Well, I couldn't just let him effectively waste money on a game like that, so I told him to move over and took his spot at the computer desk while he went to make coffee, or pizza or something. My only aim at that point was to try to figure out what the basics of the controls and things were, so I could show Mr Sare and everything would be happy again. As it turned out, the controls weren't that bad at all to get the hang of, and Mr Sare didn't know what he was supposed to be doing because he had just run headlong into things without stopping to read things like the tutorials or the starter missions (it's a flaw of his that continues to this day, and one day I'm going to snap while trying to lead him through a new game and beat him senseless with a coffee mug). But by the time he'd come back, I was actually enjoying myself playing. So, when even after I offered to teach him how to play Mr Sare wasn't interested any more, the copy of Anarchy Online passed to me.

My first character was an Agent, which I picked because I wanted to be sneaky and, if I'm remembering correctly, I royally buggered up. I got slightly better with my next character, an Adventurer, and finally worked out what I was doing with the Fixer profession. Sadly, though, I was only able to play Anarchy Online for a couple of months, until they released a patch that made the game incompatible with my (admittedly low-spec) graphics card. I was very sad.

Since then I've played Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies (pre-NGE and everything), City of Heroes, EVE Online, WoW, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Champions Online, Fallen Earth... There's probably others in there too that I've missed out, but you get the picture. I've even gone back to Anarchy Online a few times, once my system was upgraded enough to be able to play again. Its graphics are terribly, terribly dated now, but it still holds a special place in my heart as the first MMO I ever played, and in a way got me to where I am now.

(* - I'm paraphrasing maybe just a little here.)
sareini: watchmen icon (watchmen)
Blizzard has done a 180 on their plans to have everyone posting under their real names on their forums. Whether this is because of the huge outcry (Jedi in a galaxy far, far away probably heard it), because they suddenly saw their subscription numbers dropping like a stone as people worldwide cancelled their accounts or because of some other factor we don't know, but in the end, it doesn't really matter. Hopefully the people in charge of stuff like this will think very carefully before coming up with an idea like this again. And then going and doing something like sticking their heads into an alligator's mouth instead, as it's probably safer for them in the long run.

One thing I noticed, however, in all my reading of blogs and forum posts and the like, were the periodic comments from people who just couldn't see what was so wrong with what Blizzard were doing. "You must have something to hide if you want to remain anonymous!" they shouted. well yes, actually I do. My identity. I've worked damn hard over my years on the net to keep any key identifying details about me from getting out there, and so I really would not appreciate it if some company just suddenly decided to let anyone and everyone see something like my real name. And no, my name isn't particularly unique at all - there are a little over 4,000 people with both my first and last name in the US, and at least 200 in the UK - but with just one other piece of personal information you could narrow that down considerably. And it's more than that; it's the principle of the thing. I should be able to choose whether a company is allowed to release personal data like that, not just because they think it's a quick and easy solution to trolling (pro tip: try moderating your boards once in a while).

There were also a fair few people who's argument was, "I have no problem with people knowing my real name, it's [insert inevitably male Anglo-Saxon name here], I don't see what the problem is." Well, good for you! You are in the minority, though - there are far more people who, for various reasons, feel deeply uncomfortable with people knowing their identity online. Women. Gays, lesbians and the transgendered. People whose names identify them as being of a particular ethnicity or religion. Now I personally have no problem with the world at large knowing I'm female, bisexual and Discordian, but that's because (a) I've gone to great lengths to protect my personal identity from being out there, (b) I'm personally not bothered by anyone who might attempt to harass me over any of those things, and (c) my partner is over 6 feet tall and used to be a wrestler and shoot fighter. But there were far, far too many people who were legitimately worried or even scared that their online identities could be compromised in this way and that they would be left open to harassment and attack, and considering this is a game we're talking about, that's just plain wrong. No-one should be scared to play a computer game (except maybe Silent Hill or System Shock, and then for different reasons).

And I don't think we even have to get into the people who were worried their jobs might be at risk, of the thousands of children who play the game who have it drummed into them daily not to reveal things like their real name online, only for Blizzard to turn around and do it for them.

Blizzard may try to roll this disaster of an idea out again in the future, and unless they've come up with some serious modifications, I expect they'll meet with the same outcry then as well. Also, I don't think this decision not to go forward with the forum names will have any bearing on their plans to connect Real ID to Facebook, but at least (so far) that's optional. And hey, wouldn't affect me anyhow, as if I went back to playing WoW the first thing I'd do is disable Real ID (and my Facebook isn't in my real name anyway). But I think those are battles to fight another day.


Jul. 7th, 2010 08:51 am
sareini: (Default)
There's a fair bit of talk at the moment (oh, what an understatement) in various corners of the internet about Real ID, Blizzard's new way of allowing players to stay connected with their friends regardless of what server they're playing on. Specifically, Real ID shares your real name (ie. the one you signed up with when you created your account, which usually has to coincide with your credit card details) with the people you're listed as friends with. And, if they click on it, their friends. And anyone who's friends with you under the Real ID system will also know your e-mail address, as to become friends you have to share it with them. Now Blizzard have also announced that, once Cataclysm hits on WoW, anyone posting on their forums will also have their real name posted there, and there's not going to be much that can be done about that.

This is all supposed to be a part of the wide internet world of social networking, and that's been an argument used by several people who I've seen defending this plan of Blizzard's - it's just something like Facebook, or Google Buzz. Besides, who needs anonymity on the internet nowadays anyway?


I don't use my real name on Facebook. I opted out of Google Buzz except for connecting with one person who I know in real life. Most of the people I play or communicate with online don't know my real name, except for a few who I have known for years and who I implicitly trust with my identity. Everyone else can go whistle for it, and that's the way it's going to stay. My name isn't even particularly uncommon, and yet with only a few pieces of information people would be able to track me down - as a specific example, when my brother and my nieces wanted to get back in touch with me after seven years, but didn't know my address, just my general location, all they had to do was look up my name on the electoral records for that area and there I was. Thankfully that one worked out well, but that's not always going to be the case. People might remember reading about the incident a year or so ago when the denizens of 4chan took it upon themselves to track down and harass a teenager who had posted a video of himself abusing a pet cat online, and they did it very well indeed, with far less information than his real name and e-mail address. That just shows that anyone sufficiently motivated can discover all manner of things about you on the internet if they have just a few pieces of your identity.

Why does this even bother me? Well, for one thing I had been vaguely considering going back to WoW out of boredom recently (yes, I played WoW once, I had a 41 Warlock, but the game just couldn't hold my attention for more than a month or so), but hearing how fast and loose Blizzard is wanting to play with my personal details has made me change my mind on that pretty sharpish. Secondly, Blizzard and WoW are seen by many as trend-setters in the online/MMO world, and so there is always the chance that other companies might decide to follow suit with this.

Finally, it makes me feel old. When I was first on the internet, back in 1997, it seemed like it was second nature to guard your identity when you were online. You didn't have to give your real name, so no-one ever did, and no-one cared. Or maybe I was just more sensible than most, and so I'm now remembering those times with rose-coloured glasses because of my own experiences. I'm sure there were plenty of people sharing information they shouldn't have been with perfect strangers back then too. But today it seems like we're being told in one breath to guard our identities, and then in the next to not worry about things like people we might never have met knowing our real names and any other information we might have given them in casual conversation, and it just makes no sense.

Ben Elton wrote a book a few years ago, called Blind Faith, that dealt with the growing intrusiveness of things like this (among other things). I'm starting to think more people should read it, to see how things might start to head.
sareini: quintesson icon (transformers)
It's taken me a while to get round to writing this blog post, mainly because every time I thought about it my next thought was, "But let me just finish this bit of the chapter first." And then it would be another hour before I actually thought of it again.

I got Transformers: War For Cybertron yesterday, thanks to Amazon who came through and delivered it on release day instead of the Monday they'd originally estimated. And since then I've been playing the living hell out of it, to the point where people have had to intervene to get me to stop to do things like eat, sleep and make it to other commitments. So I can say straight away that it's a very enjoyable game.

But what's it actually about? )

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go blow up some more robots while giggling in mad glee.
sareini: watchmen icon (watchmen)
I had my brother and my eldest niece around earlier today. My niece turned 18 last month, and so I'd gotten her a present all the way from the states (from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, in case you're wondering) and made some chocolate-hazelnut cupcakes in celebration. But this post isn't about my baking skills or mad props as a cool aunt.

During the visit, the conversation turned to gaming, and my niece revealed that not only does she play WoW, but she just dinged 80 on her Death Knight three weeks ago (which made her 18th a double celebration, really). I gave her the obligatory gratz, and then after they had left, I got to thinking about how I was actually proud of that.

I started playing computer games before I could really read. My brother had a Dragon 32 first, and then a Commodore Plus 4, and he used to let me play games like Dork's Dilemma and Manic Miner on them sometimes (but only after I proved I could actually pronounce words like dilemma). When I was 8 or 9 I was given my first computer of my very own, a Commodore 64, and I've never really looked back from there. So when my nieces were growing up, they were exposed to a lot of my gamer ways. They would see me getting up at 6am to play Quake on the family PC, because it was the only time the computer was free sometimes. And when Pokemon became the next huge thing for kids and they played it on their Gameboys, I played it with them (earning me a remarkable amount of street cred among the other children in the neighbourhood, who were amazed at this "adult" (I was about 17 or 18) who knew the names of all the Pokemon).

And now they're gaming themselves. They both play WoW, and if I remember correctly both have Death Knights and do raids. Hell, I never managed that when I played WoW. And they speak 1337. And gamer lingo. What was once something that seemed to be only known to myself and a few friends is now spreading to people whom I used to walk to and from school in the morning and help teach to read. It's an... interesting realisation.

Microsoft have announced their next big thing for the Xbox 360 - and to an equal extent console gaming I suppose - today, the renamed Project Natal/Kinect. When I was my nieces' age, this was more science fiction than anything; the Playstation was only in its first iteration and I don't even think there was anything that could be a precursor to the Xbox out. What kind of things are there going to be for gaming in 15 or 20 years' time? And perhaps more importantly, will my nieces be looking at these new innovations and feeling as old as I do now at the realisation that they probably weren't even thought of when they were back grinding in WoW?
sareini: quintesson icon (transformers)
Just a couple of brief things that have caught my attention in one form or another this week:

- Transformers Multiplayer game:

Oh. My. Gods. Normally, I'm not the biggest fan of multiplayer games like Unreal Tournament or Quake 3 - my reflexes and reaction speed are rarely up to par and I end up getting gibbed a lot (my survival time in L4D Versus mode can be measured in seconds). But this is Transformers, and so I'm willing to get the crap blown out of me for hours, just to be able to play at creating my own Cybertronian. Whether or not I'll use the ideas I had 20 years ago is still up in the air as I can't tell just how much freedom you have with the creator from the brief-but-awesome video, but quite frankly I'm sold on just the concept alone. Then again, I also had the first Transformers game for my Commodore 64 (it had 8-bit graphics, confusing controls, little-to-no plot and always crashed for me on the level that apparently involved stopping the Decepticons from enlarging hippos at the zoo or something), so my judgement may be a little cloudy on this issue.

- Gamecrush:

A girlfriend of a friend of mine is apparently signed up as a PlayDate with them, and since I know he's checked them out pretty thoroughly this does mollify at least some of my apprehensions about the site. They did confirm to me that there's the phone sex aspect with the option of setting yourself to "dirty" when accepting 'dates', but apparently most guys really do just want to hang out with a female gamer, at least from her experience. My cynicism is still strong, but as I don't have any first-hand experience (and won't have as I don't have a webcam or an Xbox live gold account), I'm taking their word for it. One thing I would like to know about though is how they're going to protect the online identities of the PlayDates, particularly if/when they come to providing services in MMOs like WoW. After all, in games like that you're fully aware of the other player's name, and can easily friend them and therefore contact them outside of the GameCrush confines (and with the WoW Armory feature, if you know one character name you can theoretically find out them all, much like the Global Name feature on CoX). That still makes me a little leery, as what's to stop someone from trying to get you when you're not working on GameCrush, of in a worse-case scenario, stalking you online?

I might just be being overly paranoid, but I do guard my online identity pretty closely...


Mar. 31st, 2010 02:46 pm
sareini: jack and ianto with the plants... naked :) (torchwood)
Over the past couple of weeks I've seen a few mentions of a new and upcoming thing in the online gaming world, and discussed it with a number of friends. This "new thing" is a site called GameCrush, and it purports to act as a kind of facilitator for gamers to get "play dates" with girl gamers for a nominal fee.

Now I admit it, when I first heard about it I was dubious, what with the time of year (April Fool's Day, one of my favourite 'holidays', is now only one day away) and the fact that whenever I went to look the site was always down. And while I'm still reserving my ultimate judgement until I see an up and running version of the site, I'm more willing to accept that people hammering the site because of the publicity it's been getting has melted its servers for the time being, and that it could very well be on the level.

My problems with the site, however, go beyond that - the main one being that it's pretty clearly going to be one of the many 'adult' webcam websites out there, only this one has the particular spin of being staffed by girl gamers. Why do I think this? Well, several reasons, but mainly because I've done that job and know the signs.

I should make a point here, before I go any further - I have no problem whatsoever with adult webservices, be they phone, cam or otherwise. Hell, I'd still be working the lines myself if my job wasn't now that of full-time carer - it was fun, paid well for the work that was put in (although you needed to put in long hours to make the wages always touted on the recruitment hours) and I enjoyed that I always had to think on my feet. If that's the job that people want to do, then I wish them good luck and that they enjoy themselves. That, however, is one of my problems - from looking at comments I've seen on the web, a lot of girls are getting interested in working for this service without actually realising what the job could entail.

For me, it was pretty clear. The simple fact that they were offering webcam services was the first thing that pinged my radar, followed by the options of setting your chat mood to "flirty" or "dirty" and the fact that the site is 2257 compliant - that's the US law that requires all websites with adult or potentially adult content to have full records of all their models' ages, birthdates and everything else that proves that everything's above board. But most of the comments from girls I saw seemed to be more concerned with how their gaming skills were going to be evaluated - unless I'm very very wrong (and I'm always willing for that to be the case), that's not going to be at the forefront of the minds of most of the guys who will be paying for these services. I've seen their comments too, and believe me, gaming skills aren't what they're thinking of here. So I'm bothered that a lot of the girls who want to join this site are going to get something of a shock when the reality hits them.

That, and the backlash. As I said, I've seen guys' comments on this as well, and they're the kind of things that make me want to never admit my gender online again. I'm not easily shocked or offended, and I'm not pulling a raging feminist thing here (or at least I hope not), but when I'm gaming I don't see why my gender matters so much to people. My regular friends in my gaming circle call me a "saucy British tart", but that's because I'm British while most of them are American, and they know that I worked on phone sex lines for a while and find it deeply amusing. Which is as it should be, all in all. I don't get special treatment for being a girl, and I don't expect it. So this sort of thing bothers me, because it feels to me like we (females) are being encouraged to exploit the fact that we're girl gamers and therefore a rare and fascinating breed.

tl;dr - I'm not sure that sex and online gaming should necessarily mix (except maybe in circumstances with friends or in a far more anonymous setting, which is a whole other thing). Of course, if I'm wrong and things go well, and GameCrush expands to PC games and doesn't require webcams, then I'll not only change my tune but I might well sign up (listen for me talking sexy over your zombie-slaughtering antics). But right now, I'm happy watching warily from where I am.
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
So after waiting for a couple of weeks more than I had originally thought I'd be waiting when I got the pre-order, and after a slight snafu on launch night that left people waiting a few minutes longer than they wanted to unlock the game (and boy did people panic about that!), the full game of Left4Dead 2 is finally in my possession. I've not had that much time to play the game yet, as I'm still sharing the computer with Nick and so I have to wait till he's done with it to play, but last night I played through the first campaign and was pretty damn impressed with what I saw.

First off, the graphics have been improved massively - not that the graphics in the first game were anything to be sneezed at, but there's still a great improvement that makes the game look even smoother. The physics engine has also been upgraded, so now when you shoot, explode, maim or otherwise commit mass zombie slaughter they bounce, flop and generally fall over in new and interesting ways. (And when the graphics and the physics are combined, I noticed, it gives a very realistic look to the dead zombies, complete with gaping holes in chests with rips sticking out, missing limbs with jagged stumps and half-exploded heads from high-caliber rifle bullets.) There are also a whole selection on new special zombies to get in the way, such as the Charger, who's kind of like a mini-Tank except that he runs at you like a quarterback, picks you up and starts bouncing you off the ground, the Jockey, who's like an evil dwarf who leaps on your head and tries to steer you into the path of other dangerous zombies, and the Spitter, who can, well, spit great gobs of corrosive acid at you. And of course there's all the old favourites too, with the occasional new twist (Witches now walk about, making it considerably more difficult to avoid them sometimes).

We've also got four new characters to get through the zombie apocalypse; Coach, Ellis, Nick and Rochelle. I'll miss Francis and his random hatred of things, but I still have the original L4D to play so I won't miss him too much. The new characters all have their own personalities and dialogue as well, and plenty of random things to say to make you stop and think "Did they just say that?" moments.

As well as the new characters, there's also a ton of new weapons as well, including new melee weapons so that you now have a choice between shooting the zombies or hacking, slashing and beating them to pulp. I particularly enjoyed using the katana on a few dozen zombies (what can I say, I watched Versus again recently), but there's also a cricket bat, a frying pan and even a guitare, just to name a few off the top of my head. Other new weapons and items include a defibrilator, to bring back dead teammates, adrenaline to give you a temporary speed boost, and Boomer Bile, to throw on zombies and give them a taste of their own medicine. Finally, there's some new game modes to play as well, including 'Realism' and 'Scavenge', which I assume do much what they say on the tin (although I suspect even Realism takes some liberties, otherwise it'd be a pretty short game).

On the down side... admittedly, I've only played the game once so far, and it was single-player as all my other gaming buddies were asleep by the time I got on (and they're five hours behind me, which should give you an idea of how late it was), but I found some of the new 'mini-quests' to be kind of difficult to do, at least when I'm the only actual player in the game, because the bots don't actually do anything to help (well, they shoot the zombies, but that's about it). I'm assuming that, if you play in a group of real people, then it becomes considerably easier, but on single-player it gets rather annoying very quickly.

But overall, Left4Dead 2 is pretty much as good as I had hoped, and with any luck over the next few days I'll be able to play with some of my friends and get an even better idea and experience of the game.
sareini: (Default)
So as I said yesterday, due to a bizarre bug, I'm still able to log into my Champions Online account and play, even though my account ran out on the 5th. This is a bug that's affected quite a few people who cancelled their CO accounts after the first month, and so far there's no sign of it being fixed - or even of what's causing it, although the most likely suspect is a coding error that's mistakenly identified us all as lifetime subscribers somehow. (And if that's the case, then likely the only solution is for some poor codemonkey to go through every single subscription manually and check to see if they're a lifetime or not, a thankless task if ever there was one.)

Now, until this weekend I'd not touched CO since my account expired, but out of a combination of boredom and curiosity I thought I'd pop back into the game while I could and see what had changed in the couple of weeks since I'd last played. There had been a good few major patches, after all, and they might have addressed some of the issues and problems I'd had. So I stepped back in...

Bullet points here )
sareini: quintesson icon (transformers)
Due to a bug of utter epicness, I still have access to Champions Online even though my account expired on the 5th of this month. I'll be devoting a seperate post as to what I've been up to regarding that tomorrow or thereabouts, but in the meantime here's something I saw in Millenium City this morning while running around on my 13 Ego(Flame)Blades/Martial Arts character...

Picture behind the cut )
sareini: quintesson icon (transformers)
Last night I found myself hating someone I was teaming with.

This was something of a new experience for me, as most of the time I consider myself to be pretty easy-going when it comes to other players in MMOs, mainly because I'm very much aware that, so to speak, "there but for the whims of Eris, go I." I'm practicially infamous among my circle of MMO friends for being able to grab aggro by just standing there, I have no sense of direction and get lost in missions all the time, and I all but have a keybind that says, "BRB - cat aggro". So if people can put up my my flaws, then I can certainly put up with theirs. But last night was... different.

Things had started off well enough. I'd been invited onto a Task Force in City of Heroes by a couple of friends, the rest of the team being filled with people they knew more than I knew them. I was playing on my Blaster, because there was the promise of being repeatedly shielded and buffed into omnipotence and I couldn't let an opportunity like that go by. As it turned out, one of the others on the team was a /Kinetics controller, but I didn't actually know this until someone requested a Speed Boost from them (for those not in the know, Speed Boost or SB is a buff which greatly increases speed and endurance recovery for a short time when cast on someone. If Adrenaline Boost is the amphetamines of the CoX world, then SB is indeed the crack). This made me stop, and blink. I actually had to check my icon bar to see that, yes, I did have an icon for another of the Kinetics powers on me, but no SB. And yet the player had SB.

I admit that this is somewhat personal for me, as one of my very first characters - and the first I got to 50 - is a Mind/Kinetics Controller. And I love this character, and happen to consider myself to be both not bad at playing him and pretty knowledgable about the powersets involved therein. So when I see someone else who has Kinetics and yet isn't bothering to use the buff that is, to be honest, one of the best in the game - I get a little upset. And by "upset" I mean I set my jaw and try very hard not to start grinding my teeth.

Throughout the whole TF, this player never SBed anyone unless they were asked. Not once. To me, it just seems strange to take a power and never use it, but hey, that's just me. And because I didn't want to make a fuss, I didn't say anything and just mentally willed Drain Psyche to recharge faster so I could dive into large groups of mobs and hyper-charge my recovery for a minute or so each time. And all in all, even without the boosts that SB would have given us, we were doing pretty damn well.

Then we came to the final mission. This particular mission was something of a pain - it was an escort mission, and there were two ways of doing so. One involved fighting your way through the map and them back again with the escort, and the other involved someone with fly going to find the escort and bringing them back while avoiding the mobs because the escort can fly too. Because one of the team was due to go to work soon, we opted for option B, and in the mission before the last it was explained and decided up on that I would pick up the escort as I was the only one with fly and, when buffed up, was unstoppable for two-three minutes. Just before we enter the mission, however, Kinetics player suddenly pipes up: "I have Group Invis and SB"

Well, bully for you, I think, but say nothing as we're zoning in and I need to get buffed up and ready. The rest of the team start to turn me into a firey psychic engine of destruction, a SB is asked for... and it's then that we realise that Kinetics player has gone off by themselves, not telling anyone else, to rescue the escort and aggroed half the map.

And it was there, dear readers, that I realised that it was indeed possible to hate someone playing a computer game. I swore so much I nearly scared the cat (and she's heard me swear before), had to turn off Team chat for the duration of the mission (especially after the Kinetics player, being told again what the plan had been, and that the escort needed to follow someone who could fly, responded with "lol I can't fly who's the flyer?"

We did complete the mission, albeit 25 minutes later than it should have been and with numerous deaths because no-one knew where to go and the escort kept trying to aggro the whole map (dear CoX devs: could you turn her lust for battle down, just a little?), and I informed my friends through clenched and grinding teeth that I really, really didn't want to team with that player again. Thankfully they agreed with me on that one.

Gah. I know it's not healthy to get so mad at someone in an online game, even if they are so incompetent and lost in their own little world that they wouldn't be able to find their own arse with both hands and a map. But really, some people are just asking for an internet Boot to the Head.


Oct. 13th, 2009 04:43 pm
sareini: (Default)
This weekend just gone, City of Heroes had itself a weekend of double XP (and influence/infamy and prestige) for all, along with an account reactivation weekend as well. (Whether or not the timing of this weekend had anything to do with it being about the same time that a lot of Champions Online players would find their first month's subscription up for renewal is neither here nor there.)

Because I'm still currently sharing a computer with Nick (who knew that they made half-sized graphics cards for office desk units, or that they were so damn impossible to get hold of?) my play time was reduced to the times he wasn't playing, but I still managed to get a fair amount of playing and levelling in, mostly thanks to my friends who I teamed with, particularly Ardy and his lovely other half Shannon. And we did have a lot of fun, from levelling a duo of Dominators up to 21 or thereabouts, getting my Storm/Energy defender and Discworld homage to very nearly 40, getting my all-Psychic Blaster to 33 and my Empath to 33 as well, just to name the ones that come to me right now.

And it was a lot of fun. Of particular note was the team where my Empath hit 32 and gained access to the Empathy Tier 9, Adrenaline Boost, and then discovering that the Tank on the team had never played on a team with a high-level Empath before and so had never had AB cast on them. Adrenaline Boost, you see, is a bit like in-game crack (or perhaps amphetamines would be a better comparison); for 90 seconds, you supercharge their health regen and endurance recovery. That was certainly fun to watch. It was also fun to be a Blaster on a team full of Controllers and Defenders, get shielded and bubbled till ther was almost no room for icons, and being able to be right in the middle of a pile of mobs and fire away without being touched.

CoX's new "SuperSidekicking" mechanic was a great asset during the weekend as well. In the past, if you wanted to team with people you either had to make sure that there were enough high-level people to sidekick the low-level people, or everyone had to be in the same level range. Now, everyone is automatically sidekicked to the level of the team leader, and regardless of whether that level is higher or lower than your current level, you still get XP from it. It eliminates a lot of the team-juggling that went on in the past, and makes things a lot more streamlined in teaming. CO has a similar system, of course, and it's one of the things that's actually done well teaming-wise in that game (annoying message that pops up every ten seconds if you're out of range of your "mentor" aside). I would suspect that more and more games are going to start implementing a similar system to make it easier for people to team with their friends regardless of the level differences.
sareini: quintesson icon (transformers)
I like having a birthday in late October. Not only did I always avoid having to celebrate my birthday on a schoolday because it would always fall during the half-term holidays (no getting doused with water by sadistic teachers for me!), but because it's so close to Halloween there's always plenty of horror stuff coming out at that time to entertain me.

Last year, for example, Channel Four devoured the Big Brother house in a zombie apocalypse, which was just like seeing all my dreams not involving George Clooney and/or Eliza Dushku coming true at once. And then City of Heroes introduced the Zombie Apocalypse zone event as part of their Halloween celebrations. Really, give me zombies and I'll be your friend for life.

This year, I'm getting Left for Dead 2 (okay, not till November, it seems, but still...), and last night I got to see Zombieland, which was just all kinds of awesome. The best way I can come up with to describe it without spoiling it is to call it a buddy movie with zombies and more than a few sly nods to the genre-savvy among us. And Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee is just... awesome. I thoroughly reccommend this film to anyone and everyone.

There's a couple more films I'm very much hoping to catch as part of my October-horror-birthday celebrations as well. One is Paranormal Activity, which is this little film apparently made for just $11,000 in about a week, and is currently terrifying audiences wherever it goes. I'm always on the look out for a movie that can instill in me the same level of terror that BBC1's Ghostwatch did all those years ago (and I still have problems watching that now...) It would help me immensely if it was actually given a release date in the UK, of course, but... The other is a movie called Triangle, which I admit I don't know that much about (although I'm guessing there's a Bermuda Triangle connection...), but it's made by the same people who did the movies Creep and Severance, which I did enjoy, so I certainly want to give that one a look.

In conclusion: October: it's a good month.
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
I don't pre-order stuff - DVDs, books, games - very often. Actually, let's be exact - I usually don't do it at all, but Nick occasionally pre-orders a game that he really, really wants (and then forgets he's pre-ordered it and leaves me to go pick it up for him, but that's another story). But when one of my gaming companions/partners in crime contacted me at the weekend with a suggested plan of several of us getting together to pre-order several copies of Left 4 Dead 2 at a discount... Well, it's zombies and my birthday is coming up soon. How could I resist?

Apparently though, I'm behind on the news as well, because it was only this morning that I heard about the boycott of L4D2 that some gamers are taking part in, because they feel that there wasn't enough free content released for the original Left 4 Dead and so they're refusing to buy L4D2 until this situation is rectified.

Umm... okay. Far be it from me to disagree with another person's right to boycott something because they disagree with it. I myself have personally boycotted the movie Titanic since its release, because I refuse to give any sort of money or attention to a 3-hour disaster movie where the bloody boat doesn't even start sinking till the final hour. I just guess I don't understand the reasoning behind the boycott in this case.

I look up at the racks of computer games on top of the desk right now, and I can instantly count no less than 8 sets of games that were or are part of a series, that had multiple "add-on" packs or "sequels" released to further the game or take it in a new direction, and all of these packs were paid for. I'm now wondering if the people planning on boycotting L4D2 (and good luck to you guys, seriously! Stand up for what you believe in and don't let them get away with throwing Leonardo DiCaprio at us for three hours and claiming it's an epic- oh wait, sorry. Wrong boycott.) ever bought any of those game add-ons, or if they steadfastly refused to do that, either, and are therefore still playing Civilization 4 without any of its extra content, or Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War without the Necrons or Dark Eldar (the poor sods if they are).

Look, I could be being desperately naive here (and it wouldn't be the first time if I am, but hey, apparently it's an attractive state for some people), but I always figured that, if you wanted games companies to release new games and content, you occasionally had to, you know, give them money, because sadly it doesn't fall out of the sky just yet. Despite what people claim, L4D does have a ton of new content in the form of downloadable new maps made by players (I personally recommend playing Death Aboard, but watch out for the cars), and it's hardly like Valve are casting the first game out like the proverbial poor little match girl.

I am, however, horrified to learn that I'd gotten the release date for L4D2 wrong and it's not coming out till late November.
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
Over the past few weeks, while I've been hanging out on the Champions Online boards (and by "hanging out" I mean lurking and looking for threads that cause the most amusement or headdesking and forwarding them on to my friends) I've seen one particular topic come up repeatedly. During an argument over whether CO is any good or not (and this isn't that argument), City of Heroes will inevitably be brought up and someone will announce, with all the self-importance that someone posting anonymously on the internet can muster, that the Mission Architect system killed that game and they've never been able to find a team to play since.

To which I practically have to sit on my hands to stop myself from replying, "You poor thing. Don't you have any friends?"

Seriously, I'm at a loss on what else to think on this one. Certainly I've never had a problem with teaming up in CoX since AE hit, or before it, and when Nick plays he quite often has to beat off the blind invites and tells asking him to team with a stick, just to prove that it's not just my circle of friends who are teaming and no others. What I guess these people are complaining about is the fact that, as with anything in MMOs, there was a group of people using the AE system to farm xp/gold/fluffy bunnies (note: if there actually had been fluffy bunnies, I would have been there like a shot), and for a while that seemed like the only teams that were going on. If you didn't bother to look any closer than Broadcast chat in Atlas Park, that is. Everywhere else, there was still plenty of non-farming teaming going on, and still is. Either that, or I hallucinated the team I was on yesterday afternoon in the RWZ where I hit 38 with my Storm/Energy Defender.

Where am I going with this? Well, I'm not too sure right now, but I think I'm trying to make a point about teaming in MMOs. MMOs are an inherently social set of games, after all - even my socially-phobic self recognises that - and and so teaming up with people, be they friends or just random people you see trying to do the same mission as you as you fly/run/teleport about the place, is always going to be an important part of an MMO. But the fact of the matter is, it goes both ways. It's one thing if an MMO doesn't have a system in place to team or their teaming system is flawed (although to be fair to CO, they're working to fix that, even if it should have been in there at launch), but it's entirely another if a player just doesn't bother to look beyond their own virtual nose for a team and then complains that there's no teaming to be found. In their own way, those people are just as lazy as the people in Atlas Park endlessly farming Freakshow boss missions - possibly even more so, because at least the farmers are teaming!

So, in conclusion: teaming - it won't bite you, and you might even like it.

(This Monday morning snark post brought to you by chocolate and Amitriptyline. Amitriptyline, it's supposed to be making me sleep but it's just making me manic and bitchy.)
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