29 June 2011

One Chance only

 Time to get your game face on and let CapCom know it is Game Over for the no replay feature on Resident Evil and planned for other titles. There is a save slot for 1 game only. No decision branching permitted. No letting your sister or brother play it. And most of all no replay in maniac Mode. So, for 40.00 you get one play through, no resell value, no collector's value and most of all no replay.

That is 3 months of WoW - 4 if you buy a year. That is the price of Guild Wars which lets you make a limited number of characters and repeat most missions. Of course you can always delete a character and make a new one. That is enough of a donation to a MUD to make most owners happy. These days it is what it takes to fill up my car. So given the choice of filling up my car and playing a game once, think I'll take the car.

Most of you know I have no issue with Game Over. When it is Game Over - what do you do? Go back and try it again. If you saved too late then you go to an earlier save point and start from there. On a perma-death mud or other MMO you start over or if they reset on a schedule - wait for reset.  No biggie - well except for the losing part. Capcom objects to games being replayable and resalable. They decided to do something about it. They have brought back the single save slot.  One save only ever for the life of the game.  It is not even like the old days of single save where you could overwrite your existing with a new start, 1 game 1 play through that is it.  Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D for the Nintendo 3DS is one such game but there are rumors of more to come.

What to do you ask? I have heard much whining and ringing of hands in the lame gamer community, but a quiet movement has started. People are canceling pre-orders for Capcom games. They are refusing to purchase them and they finding other things to do. The problem is the movement is too quiet. Other publishers need to know what happens when they take away replay capability. You lose sales, you lose customers and most of all you start to lose gamers. If I can play it only once, then maybe I need to dust off the D&D books and play that with my friends, maybe I need to sell my DS and my console, or maybe just maybe WE need to let the publishers know that if they want to keep selling games, they need to stop being so worried about resale. After all consoles, etc change enough they can already count on sales from ports, re-releases and add ons So If you are a true GAMER (not one of the lame ones who give up at the first hurdle) Let CapCom know. Write them, email them, post on social networks and on forums. If you cancel and order POST it and let them know why. As for me, CapCom is now one of the DO NOT BUY products in the house.  If it has anything to do with Capcom, it will not pass the threshold. They will not get any money from me. If you feel the same way, let them know. In the mean time I Guess i will save any money I would have spent on Capcom games and maybe buy myself a few new components for a gaming rig.

10 June 2011

Multiplayer Dramas

I was catching up on my reading on The Mud Connector the other day, when I hit this thread. If you are member you can see it, otherwise the summary is this, a player that disagrees with the admin was site banned or deleted or frozen - it happens. He posted in the Admin Ethics forum a complaint that the Admins there were unfair and he is done playing there after "playing there for years'. His reason was that players there are biased, racist and just plain rude to people who are not like them and the Admin does not punish their friends, but does everyone else.  That is not really the purpose of that forum. It tends to be a place where administrators, builders and players discuss ethical issues regarding their game such as is it right to play a mortal, code pirating and lifting etc. Although it is a fair discussion to start, just not one that should be done by naming names and  as the poster himself states to force game owners and admins to change through peer pressure.  

 After much back and forth and ridiculing of people in general some good naturedly, some not so, one Admin posted something that I think is one thing everyone forgets. I do not know how to link to a specific message there so it is visible to non members  there so here is a slightly edited version.

 ...snipped quote... 
The simple fact is that no MUD has any requirement to treat players fairly. They are not even schoolyards, which have rules with some enforcement and supervision; they are instead sandboxes or playpens. Unless the game's admins attract law enforcement activity or prompt their hosting provider to yank them for allowing something blatantly illegal to go on (like letting people use channels on the game to trade kiddie porn or some like that) or the overall game owner who provides or pays for the hosting gets sick of it and pulls the plug, a game can go on for years just for the benefit of the admins and their friends. 

 Now, that is true. But most owners and people who run games that I know try to be fair. They try to make sure everyone has a good time. That means most have a few rules and rules have to do with respecting other players. For the mist part every GM, Admin, WizOp etc, I know hates having to play nanny to players who cannot understand that sometimes their way of having fun destroys a game for others. Most withstand being called names, accused of unfairness as above and even shield guilty parties (for a while) from the wrath of the other players.  But GMs behind the the toon are human.

So, what I am trying to say here is before you go posting things like that think about a few things.

1. Why? If you are DONE there why deal with it at all.
2. Why answer an unfair admin in a public way or pick a fight with him in a public forum of his peers and most likely friends.
3. If you call the Admins names or insult them do you really think that will make them want to be fair to you or help your cause ?

This to me is one of the things I have never understood. When I am done with a game be it board, online or console I put it away. If  I am done for good I delete all, sell it, or in worst case scenarios throw it out. This is what most normal people do.  I know gamers are not normal, but then again we all move on to other games. To use board games as an example, I do not play Snakes and Ladders anymore. I may have played it with daughter when she was little. Now she has outgrown it. So it was given away to someone who might enjoy it.  I do not blame the game for it being no fun for me anymore.

The second is a bit more difficult to address as it deals with personalities. So let us liken it to a work situation.  If one employee is constantly gossiping, using racial and sexual slurs about others or you or harassing you in other ways, the obvious thing to do is ask them to stop. They may not realize the current joke about (insert nationality, race or other sensitive topic here) is offensive to you. They will not ever realize if you do not speak to them.  If that does not work, then avoidance is the next logical step. You have to work, you may even have to work with the person, but nothing says you have to have anything other than a work-related conversation with them. The last step is to ask a supervisor to step in and mediate or speak to them. If all of the above fail and the person makes it impossible for you to work there then the answer is it is time to move on.  If you really love the on-line game I suggest you try the above. Otherwise just skip to the last step, unlike work you do not HAVE to play there.

The last is to me the one that confuses me the most that people do not understand.  If every day you went into work you insulted your boss, when it came time for a promotion it is unlikely you will get one. Even If you are correct in what you say, lack of respect in how you are expressing yourself is not doing you any good.  I have had bosses reprimand me for regulations they consider idiotic or stupid, but part of their job is to ensure the regs and SOPS are followed. If usually, they agree it is stupid, but we come to an understanding of what has to be done through conversation.  I have never been written up for any of those incidences because we listened and spoke to each other. But if I had constantly undermined the supervisor's credibility and authority with co-workers, if I had insulted her outright daily by accusing her of favoritism, if I had accused him self-service only his own interests to his face, or even pointed out only mistakes made and lack of knowledge. Then when I brought before my supervisors with a minor infraction, I doubt any would have listened so fairly to my defense nor would I have gotten off with a just warning. Would it be fair, probably not, but what should I expect from someone who has been disrespected so much? Bosses are only human.  So are GMs.

The upshot of this is in gaming as in work or life people are still people behind the toons. Before you complain about how the GM is treating you,  look at how you have treated him.  Before you complain about others making comments about you based on your toon or what they perceive to be the person behind it, ask yourself what assumptions have you made about that player. If you still see no reason, then there are only one of 2 possibilities - you are the problem or they are the problem.  Either way it is time to move on, not look back and grow. If the same issues arise elsewhere perhaps it is you. If not, it was probably them. Either way you are out of that situation and in a new one where you can enjoy yourself leaving the others back there to do the same.

08 June 2011

Persona 4 Review - Grilled Beef Anyone?

Persona 4
First let me say up front, this one is not as dark as Persona 3 and storywise it is less mature or complex. Another one off the stack!

Start up and Synopsis:
  You are a second year transfer student to Inaba High School. Your parents are both "working overseas" and you've been shipped off to live with your Uncle - Dojima Ryotaro and cousin  Dojima Nanako  for a year. As you pass through a tunnel on the train there is a vision of the Velvet room. Maybe it was a dream?  This time you are rolling in during the day,  you are met at the station by your Uncle and his daughter Nanako.  Seems you have not seen him since you were in diapers. He has to explain his relationship to your mother to you - ok I want to know the story there! Why has she not spoken to her brother since you were a baby?

You guys head back to the house, Inaba seems to be a sleepy town. But it must have been a long trip. You stop at the gas station and Nanako makes a beeline for the bathroom - but not until her father asks her if she can go by herself.  (What sort of father does not know the answer to that?)  The gas station attendant seems to know the Dojimas. He welcomes you to town, tells you they are looking for part-time help and you will probably be bored fast here after coming from the city and be wanting a part-time job.  He shakes your hand in greeting but before he gives you his name Nanko comes back and asks if you are feeling OK you look sick.

You get back to the Dojima residence,  sit down for dinner and Dojima's cell rings.  He has to go to work leaving you and Nanko alone. You find out he is a detective and that he is gone a lot.  She settles down to watch TV, the news is all about a newscaster, an enko singer and a city council member who is married to the singer and having an affair with the newscaster. Nanako finds it boring and switches channels. A commercial comes on for Junes, and she sings along happy and settles in  to watch a show. You go upstairs go to bed and have a freaky dream that involves a figure shrouded in fog that keeps asking you if you want to find the truth. You chase it through the fog, find you can throw lightning and use some sword techniques against it. It laughs at you and tells you come on then, and you awaken.

Nanko cooked breakfast for you, no sign of you Dojima. You two start walking to school together.  Along the way you see a kid a fall off his bike, you decide to leave him alone.  You are introduced in the classroom by  the homeroom and Philosophy teacher, Morooka  Kinshiro.  He goes off on a rant about morality, a girl interrupts him by asking if you can sit there, and your school year starts. As class is letting out teachers are called to a meeting and students told to stay in the classroom. So naturally people who are curious about the 'big city' come to talk to you.  You find out the girl is  Satonaka Chie she and her friend Amagi  Yukiko offer to walk home with you.  You are told to leave police working in the school zone alone, there has been an 'incident" off you go. Of course on your way, you run into the crime scene, it is a murder. You find out later the victim was  the newscaster that was in the love triangle and she was found hanging upside down from an antenna on a residence (hanged man tarot style). Dojima yells at you for being there and everyone decides to go home.

So you help Nanko with some housework when you get home and head up to bed. No freaky dreams tonight. It is raining when you are on your way to school. You see the same kid skid on the slick pavement and  wreck his bike again this time he is stuck in a garbage can.  His name is Hanamura Yosuke and he is in your class. Yosuke invites you out after school Chie horns in and Yukiko has to go home and help at the inn. The three of you end up at Junes. Chie tells you all some weird story about the midnight channel where you supposedly see your soulmate at midnight if the tv is turned off and it is raining. She makes you all promise to watch it.

Enter the unrequieted love of Yosuke's life, Konishi Saki.  She seems down, Yosuke asks what is bugging her. She makes some comment about if only she had not left school early and then ignores his question.  Eventually you  head home and you find Nanako alone seeming to think your uncle may not come home again. ( Chaos Monkey and I would up calling him Dickhead Dojima, If you follow his social link you will see why. ) Just as you are starting to comfort her, in he comes.  She puts on the news for him. The press found the high school girl who found the corpse and are interviewing her. Her face and voice are masked.  Nanako thinks it is boring and your uncle is asleep sitting on the couch.

You head upstairs remembering your promise, At midnight, a girl appears on the TV. It is blurry and you cannot quite see her.  You go to touch the TV and your hand goes through the tube and gets stuck in it.  You manage to pull it out, fall on the floor and wake Nanako who comes to check on you - giving you a very odd look.

The next day at school you tell your friends about the midnight channel. It seems you all saw the same girl and Chie is confused that her soul mate is a girl. You also hear that Saki was the person who found the corpse and she is not in school that day.  You go to Junes after school with Chie and Yosuke again  seems Chie's family are looking to buy a TV. As you are all looking through the department you stick your hand in a widescreen TV.  It goes through, Your friends freak out and run around as customers are heading that way all 3 of you fall through the screen into the "TV World". Where you meet Teddy the empty bear suit. He helps you get out then you all go home.  Eventually through various things you put together that people who appear on the TV during the Midnight Channel die - so off you all go to find out what is going on and to a clue on a student's death. You meet with Teddy again and eventually FINALLY have your first real fight.  It is almost 2 hours since you started the game.

Now, the fun starts almost every time you save someone they are added to your party.  Of course there are social links as with the other one.  No one I really cared about died in this one, One us under the threat of dying at some point after they are saved. Eventually you uncover the plot withing the plot or do not. If you make wrong choices at crucial moments, the game fast forwards to your leaving to return to live with your parents. If you make the right ones, you get the final answer and leave satisfied.

 The game again combines a card fighter with a High School RPG. By day you attend classes -except holidays. You fight shadows to level up and use the Velvet room to fuse personas.  Your time however is very limited with less leeway than Persona 3 even, so you will have to make choices. You must balance your after school time trips into the TV,  with school clubs, working and other social activities to raise your social links.The social links affect the types and levels of Persona you can fuse as well as when it is with a group member how much they will assist and how. Some will take death blows for you. It is better to complete a social link than to have multiple ones almost complete. Only completed ones count in the end. Part time jobs and books help raise your courage, understanding, knowledge, diligence and expression. Some of these must be at certain levels before you can start a social link with some individuals. Some can be done at night.  Also there are the usual side quests and this time there is fishing added which raises diligence and gets you things you need for some quests or just better eq.

  Battle in the TV world can be is easy enough each persona has different strengths and weaknesses. Like any RPG of this nature, you gain more party members as you rescue more people. You can bring 3 into the zone with you and each has their strengths and weaknesses as well.  You can set characters to act as they see fit or to support or to play them a individuals and you set their actions.  The latter is definitely suggested for boss battles after the first one maybe even for that one and I found some characters I wanted to control because they are SP hogs and blow through all the SP in the first few levels.

With a little forethought you can have a party ready for almost anything. There is no limit on the time you can spend in the TV world.     But you have a time limit to save each person based on the weather forecast. The person must be out of the TV world before it becomes foggy in Inaba. Fog usually occurs after "several days" of rain.  Boss battles take place on the highest level of a zone and most have a mid boss of some type. Your real life intrudes frequently in the form of exams and school trips so you sometimes have less time than you think.

 You gain money through quests, defeating shadows, from your part time jobs and from selling things you gain in the TV world.  There is a shop that makes interesting weapons for you. And the usual supply store that sells healing things.

 None - GOOD Job!

I preferred having the weapon types to the streamlining of just physical.
It is not as dark as I like - less for mature audiences than the previous one.
Teddy is annoying, I hated when he was my support as soon as I got Rise I ditched him.  He is just as bad in your party. I refused to use him.
To much grinding needed still and you have to spend longer bouts of time in the World.
The music wears on your ear after a while no variety in choices (unless I did not unlock it).
Having to enter the velvet room to save persona, leave to dismiss persona then come back in to take others out of the compendium STILL.
The start took too long.  Almost 2 hours before your real first fight and I was blasting through the choices when I timed this, having already done it once.
I liked the combo persona specials in 3 and am sorry they took them out of this one.
Sometimes the forced story portions went on too long. I needed places to break or save. 

The multiple endings and the fact you can fail, more games need a game over.
The part time jobs made a nice change from the reading to raise the stats.
The gameplay was solid and consistent. No technical issues
Lots of slots for saving. I like this in an RPG lets me branch decisions.
Engine for battle seems better, I prefer not having my time set by Death or being tired.
I can SKIP the card shuffle THANK YOU!
When I fuse a persona it is now immediately added to to compendium.

I liked the game. I have already started another one to see how many social links I can get done. The boss is good and hard, not a cop out. The story is good and the solution odd enough but it is just not dark enough nor is it anything innovative, I mean a bunch of kids outsmarting the police department in their investigations - how scooby doo . The protagonist and the people are not as mysterious overall and most of the social links were not as interesting in their stories, too pat, set seen it before. Where Persona 3 had Bebe, the girl whose parents were getting divorced, the drinking monk and Tanaka - this had only Kanji and the nurse that I actually enjoyed the story on the links. The rest were rather ho hum and I felt like slapping the a few of them for being idiots and not seeing the answer. The battle engine is much smoother and the annoyances that detracted from Persona 3 are for the most part gone, although I did like being able to tell the group to split up in 3, it made the grind go a little faster, I rarely missed it. I do recommend it. Out 10 I give Persona 4 an 8.

31 May 2011

Persona 4 Cracked Theories

It's time for more cracked theories - those ideas we come up while we are playing the game sometimes after 4 am.

The upshot of THIS Persona is that you are new to town, staying with your Uncle while your parents are wherever Japanese Parents go to leave their kids. (If we believed Anime and games NO kids have any parents around or at least one is dead. So upshot of this is kids go to Japan, but LEAVE before you start a family cause there is  50/50 chance you will be the dead parent!)

Anyway the protagonist gets dragged into events by entering a world in the television. If they get the people out before their shadows consume them as it were they survive.  If they fail, the person dies.  I will do a FULL review once I beat this boss I went in under leveled AGAIN. But for now onto the theories,  We have been collecting them as we went, and who knows ONE of these or more maybe true!

1. There is something in the fog or rain that causes it. Your first oddity occurs as you are on the train heading into Inaba and pass through a tunnel. There is a repetition of weirdness at the gas station and later on when you touch the tv screen in your room it 'melts' Maybe it is something in the rain.

2. The Parking attendant is behind it.  He is always there in the rain.  He may also be the gas station attendant that  first greeted you, offered you a job and none ever appears on the board. Okay maybe not the same guy but it is odd that people only want valet parking in the rain. And why do we see him only when it rains, he says something about the streets being more empty. Perhaps he is  hiding out from his last crime spree on some other place?

2. Your Uncle is behind it all - the death of his wife unhinged him. He constantly is not home, he tells Nanako he is working when he is receiving calls about the mysterious car that killed his wife. At one point you see a figure in the fog who is upset that he failed this time  (something very Jack the Ripper like in it)

3. Nanako is behind it all - at every time she says something is boring that is on the news on TV, that person is the next victim.  There is a Panda bear in the room with her that is reminiscent of Teddy. And the TV world seems a little like a child's idea of how things would be.

4. Yosuke is behind it all - he is bored, there is nothing interesting going on.  The TV's the kids enter through are in Junes where he works and the locals all hate him and his family for 'ruining' their downtown. Sounds like a perfectly good revenge to me.  To top it off, there was this girl he was interested in who seemed lukewarm to him. He protests his interest is all to help find her killer, methinks he doth protest too much.

5. You are behind it all - The first murder gave you the idea and  you knew you could do this thing with the TVs already. So you are playing stupid and letting everyone set themselves up. Your parents actually are dead or in the TV world or left for fear of their own safety.

6. Yukiko is behind it.  She seems a bit unstable in many ways, very cold not interested in a boyfriend and hates how everyone expects her to take over the Inn just be cause she is an Amagi.  She wants to leave and find her own way, but keeps getting held back by a sense of duty to her family and the expectations of the town..

7. Misuzu Hiiragi, the wife of the man (Taro Namatame) who had the affair with the  first victim (Mayumi Yamano) is behind it.  She travels a lot, seems to be more than a bit of a controlling type and is concerned about her public image.  He disgraced her and these others may have seen something.Her picture appears on posters in the TV world at the Mayumi Yamano's  death place.

8. Adachi is behind it - come on NO one is that nice and that gullible!  He seems ineffectual but sometimes shows a flash of insight and competence.  

9. Naoto is the actual killer. The Prince of Detectives shows up BEFORE he officially reports to the station.  He talks to Kanji, and Kanji is the next victim.  He is hiding something from everyone (that is obvious) and seems to know a lot more and be willing to believe the high weirdness than any NORMAL person should.  Plus he taunts the group repeatedly about it being a game for them.

10 Mayumi Yamano is behind it all - she is not dead, went into hiding and substituted someone else's corpse for her own.  She killed Saki because she saw her doing the replacement or saw something that would point to her.  She went for Yukiko because she was in chrage of the hotel on the days that Mayumi Yamano stayed there.  She goes for the others because they all have contact with Yukiko in some way.

11. The town itself is the cause.  Their xenophobic nature gives rise to the shadows.  There is something odd about beef being the food Inaba is known for when there are no cattle ranches near there.  It is mentioned a few times.  The town is full of people who judge and find their neighbors wanting.  The entire theme seems to be about what OTHERS think and hiding from them in the fog.

12. The owner of the beef stand and/or her husband is behind it.  They are killing people who have figured out the secret behind the beef.

13 Kinshiro Morooka is behind it all. He certainly seems to hate immoraloty, his job, the students, and Inaba today as opposed to how it WAS.

14. Juness the department store is behind it all. They are taking over the city because they are actually owned by the Corporation that was doing shadow research over a Gennouken High School in Persona 3.

Actually. looking over our list (which was compiled as we went) MOST characters hate Inaba.  Kanji seems ok with the town, but dislikes the people, everyone is so full of hate for the place and each other and envious of other towns that we thought maybe it was a sort of Inaba Gestalt. Anyone have any others?  BTW the answer was in our theories and we were rather surprised that the coders were almost as warped as we are.  Any that anyone else had - EXCLUDING the correct one?

26 May 2011

Violence and Video Games Again

A study has been published linking actual (well maybe) proof that video gamed desensitize the brain to violence.  At least according to an article at University of Missouri.   Basically, one group played violent video games and the other non violent. They were then shown photographs and the brain's reaction to the photos was measured. (Why does that evoke a mental picture of Alex in theatre watching movies in A Clockwork Orange?) Those who had played violent games had less reaction to say a picture of a man holding a gun in another person's mouth than the group that played non violent ones.  They followed that up with setting people up with an opponent. They could give their opponent a blast of sound as an attack.  Again those that had been playing the more violent games gave louder blasts to their opponent.

It may be they are correct, it may be that violent games desensitize us to violence. God knows that has been proven in real world situations such as children growing up in war torn countries, in violent neighborhoods and even in violent households. Studies have been done again and again on those. Studies have been inconclusive on violent television and movies as one is passive and does not feel like your life is in immediate danger.  But one would THINK a university would write up such a hot topic even in their own in a more professional and scientifically accepted manner. There is even a Skinnerian reference of being rewarded for violence perhaps being a cause. (NO kidding, I am not a fan of Skinner but I do admit he had some damn good points and was very thorough in his research and testing - too detached from a parental point of view.)  

A few points in the article immediately raised my eyebrows.  First there were 70 young adults taking part in the study, one assumes college students since there tends to be a ready supply of them at a University. There was no mention background vetting, are  they football players or members of some other athletic team for a physical contact type sport, were they gamers already, do they know a thumbpad from a control stick, what sort of movies and shows do they watch and what was their home life and upbringing like ?  Was there a control group made up of similar people?

At one point it is mentioned rather offhandedly that the subjects that  " had already spent a lot of time playing violent video games before the study showed small brain response to the violent photos, regardless of which type of game they played in the lab."     By stating you not KNOW if these people were already desensitized, it indicates that the a NORM has not been set.  Or if it is set subjects were not tested beforehand to ensure they fell into that norm prior to the test.    Perhaps these subjects re of a personality type that does not react as strongly to violence from the beginning and that is why they LIKE violent video games.  

There is some indication in the article that at least some have played games in the past.  Much mention is made of the violent games they tested, but none of the nonviolent that were used.  Were they competitive, cooperative, team vs team, dating sim, or are we talking Farmville type cooperative where you really might as well be playing alone except that the company wants to addict more players so require friends to complete a task as opposed actually NEEDING more than one person to complete it.

The next thing they failed to mention at all is a control group - a group that does not play any video games at all and how they react to the same photos and games.  It is this type of sloppy testing or at least reporting of findings that just fuel an argument that some people already believe to be true and give more ammo to the naysayers.  What is even MORE interesting is that the study has not even been PUBLISHED and yet here are the 'experts' running out to spout their findings and set the gamin industry and parents in an uproar yet again.

 Here is a study for you, how about the desensitizing of any claim regarding human behavior and movies, video games and other past-times from sloppy scientific studies?  I think you may find that it is related to the "Boy who cried Wolf Syndrome". Those who are on the fence will remain so until you demonstrate that the study was non-biased and performed according to pure scientific method standards,  I will wait and see what the actual study results that are written up in the  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. But by rushing out with a poorly supported conclusion in an article, It already makes me suspect that the study was approached with less than a detached air. Which seems to be the case these days in almost every field, to make the test fit the hypothesis. And that my friends is why people do not believe in Global Warming, in evolution and in studies of violence in video games.  Too many 'scientists' seem to have an agenda that is tied to some commercial or organizational cause. Now excuse me I have to go PK a bunch of  gamers.

24 May 2011

Generations of Gamers

I was standing around on the MUD talking to a clan member. He is an older player (in playing years on this game, not in real life age), so I was not surprised when he uttered words to the effect of  "90 percent of the new players today would not survive a week back in the day."  At first I shrugged off the observation as the usual nostalgia for a Valhalla that was crowded and somewhat simpler, but then I thought about what he said.  In some ways he is correct.

Before you all shout TRAITOR! at me; hear me out. I stumbled across the MUD on day when looking for something else with the name Valhalla in the site name. I was excited, I book marked it went on with what I needed to do and then forgot about it for 2 weeks. I was doing  my usual bookmark maintenance on my browser when I saw it again. So I fired up the old telnet window and went to check it out, muttering that I neither  had Procomm Plus or any connectivity software I could write helper programs in. I did not have even a rudimentary mud client. It took some configuring and about 3 days of trying to figure out how to move, speak and perform the basic commands. Look was easy, but the rest depended on the engine back in the day as did the help files this one was actually pretty friendly Help returned information of how to use help. So I settled back and started to read.

That is the first thing I HAVE noticed about many modern gamers, if it is not in a wiki or fed in small doses as they start, it is too hard or not user friendly in their eyes.  Guess they never played Zork.  So I read for a while off and on for 3 days.  I made sure to find the rules and read them.  Very few people are about if any but it is in wee hours of the morning my time or around lunch. Most people are in school or at work.

On the third day I log in starting to get the hang of it now  and get shouted at to change my name, by players and admin. Oh shit an admin, guess I better change my name.  I had used ZetaThompson when I made the character because I was used to door games that created an account based on your BBS login. This was a direct connect MUD of the old skool, like the ones I used to pass through BBSes to get to at Universities. If a Sysop told you to do something you did. If an ADMIN did you you did so IMMEDIATELY. These days people argue. They complain if a name like ZetaThompson was not wanted why is it not blocked?  In those days if you argued with an ADMIN you got deleted and ip blocked. Sometimes you got blacklisted among the MUDs and other door games - especially if you were suspected of being a rabble rouser.

Old MUDs were pretty simplistic and most were auto PK at level three. That meant at level 3 or 5 you were killable by any other player. It did not matter if you were level 3 and they were 50 or 300 or 3000, they could and in many cases would kill you. They would loot your corpse and they laugh at you if whined. So when a player shouted make it something easy to type, I did not comply. I made it easy for ME to type.  I logged back in with a new character and then someone pointed out the sign that I should have read. It started the newbie training. I started it and completed it, dying once, maybe twice, during it not bad given some tutorials. Then I went off to find my guild and train. I messed up my stats big time. Everyone does. Apparently I exceeded expectations on that one. I have seen present day players delete and start over if they are even 2 points off on a stat because they must be PERFECT in order to compete.  And to make matters worse if you ask 3 people what the perfect tank is you will get 4 different answers. The concept of playing a character that is less than perfect and making it work is not acceptable to many modern players. They want the answers now so that they can dominate the game and win it, except there is no win on a MUD really. This seems to confuse many and they leave feeling cheated. There is no end to the MUD, it is a world in which many stories take place.

I of course picked the worst path for a newbie, but I stuck with it. Eventually I made a second character.  I found out a lot listening to players and not talking much. I played a role with my characters, one acted a bit flirty and dumb (she is the assassin), the other was her brother who was very polite, quiet and ready to do anything to protect his sister, even though he was ready to strangle her more than once. When he was turned female by another player I played along. A small group of us (3 maybe 6 players on a good day) ran around exploring working on quests and getting killed a lot. We had fun.  After about 2 months I hit level 50, adult on this mud, but by no means finished.  I averaged a level a day that I played, I read the rooms, the quests, looked at things in the donations hall. I tried different commands sometimes to my death, sometimes with to no avail sometimes with expected or unexpected results. The first quest I accepted took me almost 2 weeks real time to complete. Probably about 10 hours playing time. I could not find that garlic.  Finally I asked. Now players are upset that we do not have a WIKI with all the answers on it.

Finally, I started running with the big boys. The screen scrolled so fast as we ran the exp grind it made me dizzy.  They told me do not bother to hit on telenet. I asked about clients after my stomach stopped churning, got 4 or 5 different recommendations - each had their favorite - and picked one. I bought and installed it, no more than 2 weeks later and then donated to the MUD. It was not much, but I appreciated the coders and owners letting me into their home and all the work they had done and hey 15 - 35 on a game is cheap. So I became a long term player of the game.  Now many new players come in and donate immediately figuring the more they pay, the more they will get in considerations from the admins, owners and of course get a better character out of it. The thing is, one of the best PKers on the MUD was so for 3 years with no Personal Items and having not spent a cent on their character.  Skill matters most, even today. equipment makes the skill more effective, but if you do not know when to heal, when to cast, when to trip, you will lose against an equal or even lesser player.

This is how ALL games and gamers should be I feel.  They should be fun. But alas many people who play games are not gamers, they are merely people looking for a shortcut to winning. They want the titles and the rewards and the equipment. If they are not good enough to get them or miss out because they are limited they will do anything to get them from another. I have heard of players asking ADMIN for quest answers of quests no one has solved yet so they can get the reward and accolades of being first. I have heard of players wanting to pay for whatever is needed to win a contest because they did not have time to do it but wanted the reward.  And of course there are the ones that find ways to cheat and get more than they should have.

All of us know these people, we have seen them on Guild Wars, WoW, Eve even Neopets.  They hack or buy their characters. Someone else does the work and they reap the reward. Then when they are deleted by the admins or the GMs, they whine and lie or worse act as if what they did was fine because it is just a game so it is okay to cheat, break rules and then get angry at the person who caught and finally punished them.  These people are not gamers and my clannie was correct back in the day they would not have lasted very long. They would have been PKed off the game by the real gamers. The lesson is real gamers know they sometimes do not win. The challenge is to do better each time. That is why the DIKU coders are now experts in their fields. It is just a shame that the legacy they left for future generations is now populated with those who do not understand that the game is reflection of life. Sometimes it is enough to just survive and improve.

17 May 2011

Game legends

Urban game legends

Can anyone verify any of stpries in above link? By verify I mean either point to a legitimate documented proof or have seen it with your own eyes and have screen shots that verify but do not look to have come off any of their 'proof?' I am curious The WoW stuff sounds like something out of a .hack anime.  The Mario stuff almost sounds like a slam together job using a background intended for another game.   Yes developers did used to put little games or easter eggs in apps because it is fun and because they were bored. But I have not heard of that particular one in Excel 95. So anyone?

08 May 2011

More Gamer Rants

It has been a while since I went off about gamers. Let me count the ways in which lamers who claim to be gamers are pissing me off.

  1. Them vs Us attitude. Not in GvG PvP or even GM versus players. Rather the attitude I have seen lately of the newer gamers are better than the experienced gamers and the oldtimers on a game are out to get them because they have skilz. AS IF!  New players frequently DO learn things or know something that the old farts on any game do not know because they became complacent in the way they played  and did not explore or check other ways.  But maybe the oldbies know some stuff  the newbies do not, too. Try talking to each other instead of writing off another player because they are newer or older int he game. 
  2. Actively seeking exploits and sharing them with other players so that the game becomes unplayable for those who try to stay within the spirit of the game. Here is an example: on one mud I play there are items that are flagged no store to keep players from hoarding them so that others cannot get them. (usually quest items) Boats could be stored, bags and other containers cannot be. So they would place items in a bag, place the bag in a boat and store the boat. When GM told them to stop this they commented  'I thought that is what boats were for in the game.' Interesting most people think boats are forms of transportation used on water, which is their purpose in the game too.  This of course led to boats being non storable, which is a pain for the rest of us who do not want to lug around a boat or pay for them each time we need one.
  3. The attitude that if money is paid into the game they can do whatever they want, even spoil everyone else's fun who also paid. Let me know how that works in real life for you guys, willya?  Next time you go to a hotel room which you pay for try this -  party all night with stereo up, Make sure you smoke in the room and wander out into the hallway screaming. Pour beer out of your window onto the cops below because you can and when the hotel staff change the lock on the door and you complain but you PAID for it so you should be able to do whatever you want let me know how that works for you. (Go to any anime, sf, or other fun convention for more ideas of how to get arrested in a hotel )
  4. If you can do it you should. Yep right go ahead that is why Guild Wars deleted 3700 accounts.  That is the odd thing, there are rules on any game and in life. Yes you can break them, but there are consequences. Somehow it has become the case that some people feel if they spend money on anything they are entitled to break the rules with NO consequences. Here are some examples of what it means.
  • Playing game lawyer or poor stupid underprivileged gamer who don't know no better  Let's be clear here, intent, topic, and content all matter.  This particular link is about offensive language. I have heard the same arguments in forums, other games and even . "I didn't know Damn was a bad word" "hey the NPCs say this bad word why can't I say this in a public place, channel, etc."  My advice to gamers who try this? Stop it all you are doing is making yourself look ignorant and annoying the GMs.
  • Doing something because it is not blocked programmatically but tattling and whining when someone does it back. Sometimes there are reasons something is not blocked by code, sometimes not. But if you trap a player with a spell used in a way it was not meant to be, or 'accidentally' pick up someone's eq using the shadow step exploits etc , do not complain when retaliation occurs either by players that were cheated or were taught how to do this by yourself or others through whome the information spread or by the GMs when they recode the spell, skill, object or whatever is being exploited. 
  • Breaking a rule because it is possible to do so then complaining  about the consequences. Yep sometimes there are ways to break a rule. SOMETIMES there are reasons it may go unpunished (see intent statement above) but if you break one and the GMs mete out punishment. Do not complain. Take the time to read the rules and the site user agreements. You implied consent when you went on to play. If you did not read them, that is your fault. 
  • Wanting special consideration for non special cases. Example - One player wanted to play more characters than permitted on a game. They found a way. They were temporarily site banned for doing so. When a husband and wife team known to the Game Owner for many years wanted to play together, the player complained because they had more than the limit on from the same site playing together. HEY LAMERS: MAYBE if you did not play with yourself so much you might have some FRIENDS you could play with too.
Now, the point of this is, the people mentioned above are not gamers.  they do not want to play the game for the challenge or even for fun.  They are the posers who just want to have all the equipment and titles and rewards without doing the work. Some are just scam artists who want to take your money and even your account so they can sell them.  Isn't that what got a lot of companies in trouble, overselling stock? City and State governments get nailed for ghost payrolling. In most of those cases people go to jail.  Yes, games are fun, most of the time people do not wind up in jail for breaking a rule. But I am tired of people giving real gamers a bad name.