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Gaming To Hell In A Handbasket

The trials, tribulations and musings of an MMO veteran trying to find the next holy grail.

Author: Strayfe

GM 911 - The Game Master Rap

Posted by Strayfe Tuesday February 10 2009 at 3:33PM
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Now everyone who's afk throw your hands in the air;

Don't matter if you're there, 'cause you're a bot and we don't care;

We're busy in the corner bannin' someone who said fuck;

Ya got a real problem? Sonny boy you're outta luck;

 

Verse One:

Respect a GM, in the AM or the PM, carpe diem player, break the rules you're gonna need a bayer;

Hold up, wait a second... that ain't the way it is, break the rules in this biz - you get away with it;

G to the M, I'm the master of the game - unless you cuss in general chat you'll never see my name;

Ya'll can flood like the nile, sell gold in heaps and piles, even hack up all our files, we'll let ya do all that;

Second you say bitch or twat, TEMP BAN!, your account go SPLAT!;

Cater to the bible thumpin' pansy lovin' crowd, don't like our effin' game? You can get your ass out now;

Verse Two:

Hey yo , hey yo...

Homeboys n' homegirls betta get in the know, the reason I'm a GM?  'Cause I got fired from a cop show;

My name is Game Masta G, been a Masta since the game was new, I got beef wit you I'll ban you for just being you;

I'm a nanny, spam me, I'll let ya cry like a newborn infant sittin' in a raid instance, whining 'cause your loot was ninja'ed;

I'm the devil in the details, detailed in the devil's silence writing patch notes like recount votes committin' random acts of violence on the player base;

Now make your case chump, ya know that I won't listen; I'm Game Masta G, my shit don't stink it fuckin' glistens.

 

Now everyone who's afk throw your hands in the air;

Don't matter if you're there, 'cause you're a bot and we don't care;

We're busy in the corner bannin' someone who said fuck;

Ya got a real problem? Sonny boy you're outta luck;

 

 

Verse Three

V3 - My team of GM's dog you all incessantly, I'm Senior GM Reggie, you kids'll be the death of me;

When my GM team got problems with the children they all come to me; I don't need approval I'll ban your stupid ass for free;

Temporary you ask? Why bother, you're out for good this time; Your ass was out of line when you said "Poo-poo butt" last night;  I do not give a damn that you pay $14.99; "Stinky pants" you said? I should really call the FBI;

This sort of vulgar speech does not belong in this fun game; Never mind that cheater or that bot, the cuss words are the ones to blame;

 

Verse Four

Oochi walla walla, googoo gaga I'm the game dev; Can't tell what I'm sayin' 'cause I'm speakin' like a cave man;

Gonna tell you all a secret; let you in on the game plan; Game's dead, we take your money and just play dead; Release a mob or two every 27th weekend, scream "New Content!" and laugh while you eat it all up like sweet bread;

I hired the GMs to handle issues and the bugs, not knowin their job would be givin' thin skinned people hugs; But we need your money, and the money grubbers got it in the bag; Excuse me,  brb, bannin' someone who said "fag". 

 

Now everyone who's afk throw your hands in the air;

Don't matter if you're there, 'cause you're a bot and we don't care;

We're busy in the corner bannin' someone who said fuck;

Ya got a real problem? Sonny boy you're outta luck;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are People - We Are Not "Internets" - We Are Not All Male

Posted by Strayfe Monday February 9 2009 at 5:21PM
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How often have you been engaging in a conversation with someone, usually of the antagonistic variety, only to have them (or a bystander) belt out the phrase, "It's the internet", as a qualifying excuse for some behavior they were exhibiting?

This grand example of a 'no-shit-sherlock' has become the rallying cry of griefers everywhere.  Mad at the guy camping your corpse?  Let him know, and chances are he'll counter with "d00d, it's the internet, u mad?'.  A heated discussion between guild members over someone acting like a tool shed in guild chat might be interrupted by one member's cry of "lol internets". 

When 25 people (or more) have just spent a solid two hours (or more) on raid/endgame content, only to fail at the last minute for some foolish reason, these people are going to be understandably frustrated and upset.  Don't let anyone else know, however, because odds are you are going to be accosted by that one mental giant with his intelligent offering of "GUH... IT'S JUST AN INTERNET GAME!"

Amazingly, these people see themselves as more mature than the rest of us, due, inexplicably, to their belief that they are prophets and apparently the only ones capable of perceiving that, yes, we are in fact all on the internet.  The rest of us are stuck in the Matrix, while they are Neo, able to distance themselves at will, when it suits them.  Never mind the fact that they just spent the last three hours there with the rest of us.

"Normal" people chide those of us on the "internets", decrying our chosen hobbies as invalid because they don't involve sports, booze, clubbing or sex.  

Talk to a parent with a kid on the internet recently?  That guy you've known on the internet for seven years can't be your friend because it's the internet.  No females on the internet.  We're all avatars, lying about our personal information for the benefit of... something or other.  That girl (or guy) who posted her (or his) picture obviously photoshopped it because it's the internet.  We all have fake pics.  Everything is a virus, everyone you talk to is a sex offender and a stalker.  Everything is and should be illegal and immoral, blah blah blah... etc.. etc.. etc..

The amount of ignorance spewed from otherwise intelligent people is astonishing sometimes.  Don't believe me?  Listen to the uproar in your guild chat the next time you get a new member who says that they're female.  Matter of fact, let me save you the trouble, here's a transcript from every such instance EVER:

GuildLeader: Everyone welcome GamerWithObviouslyFemaleName (GWOFN) to the guild!

GWOFN: Hi guys ^_^

GuildMember1: OMG, LOL

GuildMember2: hihi

GuildMember 3: Welcome.

GWOFN: Glad to be here.

GuildMember4: Hey new guy.

GuildMember2: OMG, LOL

GuildLeader: AFK

GuildMember1: het dude, ask him if he wants to party w/ us

GuildMember1: mt

GWOFN: Um... guys, I'm not a he.

GuildMember3: WTF!

GuildMember2: Pics or it didn't happen.

GuildMember5: Tits or GTFO

GuildMember6: No girls on the internet:

GuildMember1: OMG, LOL!

GuildMember4: Cyber?

GuildMember6: Get on Vent... VENT!  I lust after you, oh goddess of girl gamers everywhere, please disregard this blatant attempt to begin an internet relationship which may or may not end in us meeting somewhere on down the line for wild monkey sex.

GWOFN: ...

GuildMember5: o.O

GuildMember3: Hey remember so-and-so?  He said he was a girl when he joined but we found out he was a guy... I bet this is a guy too.  Ventrilo immediately... also please disregard the fact that I most likely tried to cyber with said guy-posing-as-a-girl, and am now butthurt.

GuildMember1: Cyber?

GuildMember7: lol internets

GuildLeader: OMG EVERYONE STFU RAID IN 10 MINS

GWOFN: ...

TWENTY MINUTES LATER

GuildMember9: I remember Willie's best friend's son's old guild leader dated this girl on the internet and eventually found out that she was a "he" lol internets!

(Everyone agrees with GM9)

(Insert everyone's favorite anecdote about the guy they sort of knew who ran into one person pretending to be female on the internet, thus validating two things; everyone who claims to be female is male and everyone in this guild fails basic logic.)

The interesting thing is, most of these people will probably try to cozy up to her in PM at the same time this is going on.  But I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is this; the reason you all like your favorite game is not because of that great gameplay feature, that awesome pvp system, that mass of endgame content, or the incredible customization, it's the community, the people.

We stay with the games we love because we've made friends there.  The interactions we have while participating in our various online hobbies make the worlds of these games come alive.  The friendships, the rivalries, the competition and yes, even the drama all serve to make these communities what they are, and that is simply this; capable of holding the interest of their respective player base for months and in many cases, even years on end.

That is why our respective favorite MMOs are our favorites.  Period.

Sometimes I feel as though many people simply don't grasp the fact that they're playing with other PEOPLE in an MMO.  This is the internet, and the internet is a part of real life.  We all spend real time participating in real hobbies which are as valid as those of the slack-jawed jock who logs on once a week to check his shirtless myspace pics, while simultaneously sniping at all the "n0 lyfe nerds".

Make your MMOs come alive.  Have friends and friendships, enemies, rivalries, girlfriends or boyfriends, drama, wars, all of the above if you wish and it suits your gaming experience, because let me tell you something, none of you are going to remember that idiot who squeals "lol internets" like he's the funniest little shit on said internets, but you will all remember your friends, relationships and enemies that make your chosen games; your chosen hobbies what they are.

 

 

2008: A Retrospective - Part Two

Posted by Strayfe Wednesday February 4 2009 at 2:47PM
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Hear that?  It's the sound of me cackling like a lunatic.

This is me pointing my finger at all 250 million of you people who said that Darkfall was vaporware and would never release.  This is me grinning at those of you who believe, even now, with dates all but confirmed and beta in progress, that somehow the game is still going to fall through.

Hell, it very well might.  I figured the game would release, but my faith in it actually being fun to play?  Playable?  Something resembling a finished product?  Next to nil. 

If experienced MMO developers such as Mythic and Fun(hah)com can't excrete an MMO that seems as if it's out of Alpha, why put any stock in the ability of an untested, untried company to do the same?  I've been burned one too many times, Aventurine.  You will get my money when you release Darkfall, certainly, but you can bet your asses that I'm going to sigh, facepalm and rave like a homeless man in an alien invasion when my avatar gets stuck in a farmstead, while passing newbies plink at me with their starting gear until I drop dead from boredom and frustration.

The only saving grace in that situation, is that my corpse will be stuck too, and I can fold my arms, and stick out my tongue at the contingents of  clown shoes who try to loot me and get stuck themselves, quitting to find their nearest social counterpart to complain about their SHOCK AND SURPRISE that yet another MMO released with more bugs than the amazon rainforest in the summer.

I will have just four words for all of you.  "I told you so."

I got a bit sidetracked there.  Darkfall will release in 2009, barring any more Aventurining of the release dates.  This article is meant to be about games which released in 2008.  I guess there's a flag on the play.

OFF TOPIC FOUL ON STRAYFE - FIFTEEN YARD PENALTY - PRIOR TO THE ARTICLE - REPEAT THIRD DOWN

That's gonna hurt.

Perfect World

Lollerskates.  Roflcopter.  Lmaonaise.

Try to follow me here.

Perfect World is a free to play MMO created by the eponymous company Beijing Perfect World, and published and regurgitated in the USA by Perfect World Entertainment as Perfect World International (as opposed to Perfect World Domestic?).  In a perfect world, Perfect World would be a perfect game, however, playing the game, one can see right off the bat that this game has several glaring flaws.

I can not remember ever logging into a game for the first time and having the first words out of my mouth be "WTF?".  Not until I played this game.

From the get-go, I was met with what appeared at first glance to be a runaway circus freak show rendered in mediocre 3d.  Things that greeted me upon my debut included panda bears with giant sticks, flaming somersaulting tigers, lions with no manes, fox girls with sticks, cat girls with sticks, bat girls being chased by giant blue scorpions, green-skinned winged creatures, snails with no heads and something resembling a giant humanoid duck riding a giant deformed swan while carrying a bouquet of flowers in each hand (I am seriously not joking).

Further investigation revealed that the vast majority of these oddities were, believe it or not, player characters.  I suppose if I had bothered to explore the character customization beyond picking a preset and naming my pink-haired pedo bait avatar Imperfecta, I would have realized that something was going to be rotten in Denmark.

Central to the game's theme of not-so-veiled bestiality is the cadre of emotes available to the player.  Of particular interest to the obviously fifteen year old weeaboo crowd were the faint, embrace and kiss emotes.  Swiveling my camera 360 degrees resulted in unobstructed views of panda-men falling on top of prone fox girls in lingerie, fox-men falling on top of prone cat girls in lingerie, prone bat girls emoting at nearby lions, tigers and bears, and any number of giant anthropomorphic creatures carrying, yes carrying, their female counterparts around like so many sacks of livestock feed.  I was almost afraid to look at the chat log, but when I finally did, I was treated to an onslaught of broken english laden with sexually suggestive themes that would make Ron Jeremy blush.

Come on guys, tails just don't go there people!  Geez!

When I was finally able to  tear my eyes away from what looked like the prologue to an extremely bad hentai movie, long enough to play the game, I was treated to yet another bloody replica of World of Warcraft.  You've got your talent tree, you've got your standard-fare MMO combat, castbars, hotkeys 1-6 which activate your special abilities, yada yada yada... blah blah blah... crafting, pvp... etc.. etc...

"Sometimes I wonder if any MMO developers have ever had an original idea in their lives.", I say, quickly amending that statement, as I accidently hit the space bar, causing me to jump so high that I actually go OVER a tree.

Well now, here's a concept.  You can practically fly from the word go.  Apparently you can 'actually' fly later on.  Unfortunately, the execution here seems akin to feeding a toddler a $2,000.00 hors'd'oeuvre.  Give the Perfect World players the ability to fly, and what do they do?  They take their sexual escapades into the treetops of course.  After mastering the platforming side-game enough to jump on top of buildings, trees and mountaintops, I encountered a cavalcade of animal-folk doing the nasty while hanging from tree branches, standing on chimneys, balancing on gates and in watchtowers, and any other conceivable place elevated from the unwashed masses getting their rocks off on the dirty, filthy ground.

What have I learned from Perfect World?  The internet is for porn.  Rule 34, etc... and there are things that you can do with staves, sticks, tails and such that your parents probably would not approve of.

 

Part three soon, in which I will cover what I consider to be the only good MMO release in the past year.

 

 

 

2008: A Retrospective - Part One

Posted by Strayfe Tuesday February 3 2009 at 6:43PM
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It's been a bit over a year since I posted here. Though I still frequent the site and keep abreast of things, generally my free time has been limited, my fascination with the ever-expanding (hah) world of MMOs is growing more and more stale, and my patience is wearing as thin as a Penthouse model who got called fat during her last photo shoot.

Where I last left off? I had resubscribed to that god-awful drug, World of Warcraft, in order to kill time before Age of Conan, Warhammer, and in theory, Darkfall hit shelves. Thankfully, my Warcraft binge was short-lived, and served more to remind me of all the genre's stereotypical idiosyncracies than anything else.

No, thank you, Mr. NPC, I do not want to kill 35 more orcs, I do not care that they slaughtered your family, and the only reason I am marginally interested in your existence is because you have promised to give me a better sword. And what was that? Princess MacGuffin was kidnapped? And only I can save her? Well, sure... just let me... wait, what do you mean I have to collect 20 rusty nails first? What in the Sam Hell does that have to do with anything? Etc... etc...

World of Warcraft never changes. Even with the release of Lich King, the game is so overwhelmingly dull and mind-numbing that the thought of trying to force myself through an additional ten levels seems more to me like a punishment a court might impose on a computer hacker than something meant to qualify as fun.

So there was that, and mercifully it ended, and I waited with baited breath for the big-ticket titles.

So where are we now?

A year later, I sit here and take a look back at what I've tried... and failed... to like.

Age of Conan

Age of Conan released with more bugs than a copy of Vanguard sitting in a giant roach motel. With ultra-fancy graphics which managed to crash my $2500 gaming rig, absurd gameplay mechanics, scantily clad, poorly rendered virtual women with faces straight out of a digitized horror flick, and a borefest "You are the chosen one, blah blah blah..." storyline, AoC emerges as a frontrunner for biggest disappointment of the year.

My subscription to AoC lasted a bit more than a month, two weeks of which were spent attempting to pinpoint an issue that caused my computer to BSOD with a processor clocking error anytime I'd have the game open for more than about 5 minutes.  My initial impressions were that my computer was pointedly rejecting the overhyped barbarian, having been used to playing games which were actually good. Lo and behold, however, I found out much later that Fun(hah)com had borked something in their coding after one particular patch, causing AMD Quad core processors to dry heave when attempting to process particular commands from AoC. This is why you don't let interns code your game.

Apparently, said computer wizards were haphazardly programming with one hand, while simultaneously soloing themselves, drooling over the concept art of the aforementioned scantily clad women hanging on the walls of their cubicles. Perhaps if the graphics artists spent more time translating the concept art into the game, and less time doing the same, the rest of us might have been able to enjoy the fun too.

Sadly, the only thing I gleaned from trying AoC is a collection of screenshots depicting my poor Necromancer stuck in various sections of Hyborian geometry, which currently reside in a desktop folder entitled, "How not to make a f**king MMO".

Warhammer Online

My initial idea for this section was to type an ellipse after every three words in order to simulate keep-siege level lag in this article. I quickly realized however, that my readers probably wouldn't appreciate that any more than I enjoyed trundling through keeps with all the speed of a morbidly obese man climbing the stairs of the roman coliseum.

I have a good computer, I swear. I can play Crysis on high settings with reasonable frame rates.  Warhammer however, repeatedly informed me that my computer was garbage or that the game was poorly designed... one of the two.

It did this by lovingly kicking me to the desktop about once an hour with all the grace and predictability of a chihuahua with ADHD. The performance issues and bugs in this game were made all the more frustrating by the fact that beneath them all, Warhammer has the potential to be a good game.

There is plenty to love about the PvP aspects, and some nice, interesting fast-pace twists on the garden-variety mash-a-mob PvE encounters. It's difficult to avoid the fact, however, that for every unique, revolutionary idea, there's a bug or two crawling on it, or else it's half-finished, half-implemented, or half-assed.

Public quests... solid idea, and yet, somewhere in the journey from idea to actualization, public quests got put through the ringer of an obtuse scoring system, which frequently awards 1st place to somebody who got blown into the PQ area by a stiff breeze with 5 seconds remaining in the quest.

Obviously, there are hidden bonus points for being an innocent bystander, and for being in the right place at the right time. Those 10-20 people who had been doing the quest for the past 15 minutes should absolutely lose out to someone who doesn't even realize that they're in the PQ area until Warhammer drops a shiny gold chest into their lap.

Sadly, the game is further dogged by it's size. Mythic was overly optimistic in the number of zones implemented for each tier. I can only conclude that Warhammer was beta tested by a bunch of rabid dogs, fighting to get at each other at every opportunity, forcing Mythic to conclude that yes, there should definitely be this many areas to World PvP in. I'm quite sure that Mythic didn't realize that it's customer base would be pansies, who promptly scooted off to scenarios and PvE the second the game was released, treating it like World of Warcraft with slightly better graphics and infinitely worse performance.

Consequently, what you were left with is the framework for a game with nobody to play it. Keep sieges, when they happened, were also plagued by performance bugs, including a particularly nasty one that would frequently cause the ENTIRE KEEP to disappear for certain players. What this would then do, is allow that player to walk into the area where the keep should be, and kill people that player shouldn't be able to even see or target.

This particular bug caused many an outcry of "Cheater! Hacker! Burn the witch!" and rightly so, except the cry should have been directed at Mythic, and not the victims of further atrocious coding. And this time, they don't even have DX10 pinup women to use as an excuse.

Rounding out the short list of problems in world PvP, and again, specifically in keep sieges, is the sheer fact that the game can’t handle the amount of people Mythic said it could handle.  Defending a keep with 20-30 of your buddies against an onslaught of, say 50+ of the opposing faction requires a NASA supercomputer, precognition, or the ability to process the other 29 frames per second that you aren’t seeing via osmosis or something.

I will reiterate my computer’s adequacy before pointing out that the other 95%+ of people with worse specs and more patience will blithely twiddle their fingers and preach about lowering this or that setting, when the fact remains that the graphics aren’t good enough to warrant a configuration file that looks like a redacted court document in a high profile legal case.

The animations, if you can call them that, are buggy and lackluster, and frequently crash headlong into themselves, making characters do odd sorts of dance routines, spasms and herky-jerky movements for every single ability you use. Titles are pointless fluff, PvP gear is, in almost all cases, far worse than the comparable gear obtained from PQs or dungeons and frequently itemized to give you excesses of whatever stat your class does NOT need. Yes, thank you, I would love some weapon skill on my mage staff, where do I sign up for that? In conclusion, you have a game marketed as a PvP (*cough* RvR) game, with little to no incentive to engage in PvP. I am left hoping that somebody was fired for that.

Warhammer, while a far cry better than Age of Conan, suffered as Conan did, from massive overhyping and the drooling ravings of fanboys still embroiled in DaoC, it’s distant ancestor. While there is enough promise to warrant my checking it out again in a year or two, I’d imagine by then, the community will be drying up. There are, after all, already server mergers.

Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon.