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Teala's Wickedly Cool Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

This is your tomorrow without Net Neutrality - are you ready for it?

Posted by Teala Wednesday June 23 2010 at 8:28AM
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Today you are free to play any game you like on the Internet because of one thing - Net Neutrality.   Net Neutrality means you have unfettered access to any and all websites at whatever speed your current connection allows for.    For a better understanding of exactly what it is, may I suggest some reading of this website.   Net Neutrality - Wikipedia.

This last Monday and Tuesday, behind closed doors the FCC and such companies as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, ComCast and Google had meetings to discuss Net Neutrality, broadband Internet, and wireless networks.  What is at stake?  The Internet.   For years the Internet has been accessible to anyone and everyone for the most part and that meant that you and I could access hundreds of games, thousands of blogs, and little known websites without fear of slow down or access to them.   That all may change within the next few months if telcom and cable companies have their way.   With the closed door meetings being held by the FCC and these companies it can mean only one thing.   We the consumer are going to lose this one.   The corporations will win and when they win the Internet as we know it will change and it will not be better - but worse.

Let's look into the future of the Internet.   Experts(even the creator of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee) all agree that if telcom and cable companies have control this is how it'll probably be.  (It should be noted that Google is for Net Neutrality)

Imagine a tomorrow without Net Neutrality in place.  

That free to play game you've fell in love no longer have access to it.   Oh wait, you haven't heard.  AT&T has decided that those free to play games are consuming to much bandwidth and have blocked them from the carrier lines.  Good news is that you can switch telcom providers and go with Verizon!  Yeah!   They allow for that one free to play game to have access to their carrier lines - oh yeah, sorry,...forgot to mention that the game you thought was free to play actually cost money to play now.   Yeah, you see in order for you to even have access to the ftp game, said free to play game company has to pay a monthly service fee to Verizon so that you can enjoy their game.   Unfortunately, said ftp game was not making enough money with their free to play price plan and needed to add a small monthly fee to offset the cost of being able to use Verizon's carrier lines so that you can access their game.   Oh and there is one last little thing I guess I should mention.   See during peak hours of usage you may encounter some slow downs of your game.  Yeah I Verizon has to limit the amount of traffic during peak hours because their is this other company that has made a deal with Verizon that allows them unfettered bandwidth usage during peak hours to allow for streaming TV directly to their in-home web TV systems...maybe you've heard of them - Apple.   Oh yeah...they have a huge contract with Verizon and AT&T and others to have maximum bandwidth to their Internet services such as AppleTV and iTunes.   So around 6pm EST when you're just about to enter that instance and kill that boss and suddenly your load screen freezes and you have to wait 5 minutes...don't worry...I am sure it'll load eventually.    But hey!  At least you can still play that game you love!   

In the news.   Activision/Blizzard has signed a multi-billion dollar, 10 year contract with telcom and cable  providers Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and ComCast to allow for players of their game World of Warcraft to have access to their game.   The game has been inaccessible since early 2011 when the new laws regarding Internet usage went into effect.   After months of negotiations the companies finally came to an agreement and a deal was made that will net the telcom providers millions of dollars a month in usage fees.  Stocks for all three telcom companies rose today upon release of this news.   

Activision/Blizzard announces new price plan for World of Warcraft.   As of July 1st, 2011 the monthly subscription fee for their game World of Warcraft has gone up by $5 US, from $14.95 a month to $19.95 a month.   This is to help offset the cost of the new access fees imposed by telcom and cable companies Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and ComCast.  

Also in the news, little known websites by the thousands are no longer accessible due to the new laws and regulations created by the Telcom Act of 2010.   Telcom and cable providers said such websites were eating into their profits and were taking up bandwidth that could be used to provide better services and access to such companies as Google, Apple, Hulu, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and YouTube.

Comcast today announced their new in-home Internet service NetCast.  This new service will allow for premium ComCast users to access all the services provided by ComCast via their new NetCast services which now include Skype voice and imaging communications services right through your television.   This also includes access to such online game providers as MicroSoft, Activison/Blizzard, and Sony Gaming Online.   New price plans will be available the first of next month and ComCast company representative we spoke with expects only a minor increase in monthly fees depending on the package plan you decide to go with.

Many mom and pop websites and Internet companies are closing shops.   Unable to pay the new access fees regulated by the telcom and cable companies hundreds of online stores and services were forced out of business due to the new restrictions place on bandwidth control by ISP providers.   Thousands of people that use to make their living via the Internet are now unemployed. 

This is your tomorrow without Net Neutrality - are you ready for it?


Wish to save the Internet and keep it free?  Visit these websites and read up on Net Neutrality.

Backroom Dealings and the Fate of the Internet  <<<  read this article.

Save the Internet / Join the Fight  <<< clicky

Network Neutrality: Fact vs. Fiction  -  Why Consumers Demand
Internet Freedom
<<< PDF File

The Hater Must Die

Posted by Teala Thursday June 17 2010 at 1:09PM
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So here we are June 17th, 2010 and E3 has almost run its course and the information about the new games is trickling out to the various websites around the Internet and we're getting a smörgåsbord of coverage.   This in turn has players frothing at the mouth like rabid Bugs Bunny looking for any tidbit of juicy info they can get their paws on regarding their favorite game.   Even if it is just the table scraps left after a good meal - they'll eat it up just as readily as any $2 dollar cheese burger from the local Mickey D's.

Then comes the excitement of posting said information to your favorite MMO forum.   Your tummy is about to burst because of the butterflies that have built up in there.  You type furiously away and hope that another poster doesn't ruin your day by making the first post about the new CGI cinematic from your favorite upcoming title - this cinematic oozes pure Wonkalicious eye candy and you want the glory of posting it first.  You post the URL to the video and hit submit.   Tada!  First!  Woohoo!  You raise your hands in triumph above your head like you just scored the winning goal in a 2010 World Cup match.

Then you patiently await post from other forum viewers to see their reactions to the awesomeassaroussauce video you just provided to them.  You're hoping for some fun and exciting comments to share in your enthusiasm for the game you've been following for a couple of years.  Then they come.  One here and then another and another.  You wait a little longer before clicking the threads title to see what others say...and "click!" your patience has run out.

Then you read the first response.

"It's not working for me."

OMG!  What?  I negative comment?  How can this be?  No way!  OMG what a jerk.  A troll!  This person is an idiot.  They don't know what they are talking about.  They are a HATER!  OMG a hater.   How dare they come into my thread and sully my post with their trolling post of hate!  The Hater must die!  The blood in your brain begins to clot and the veins on the side of your head begin to bulge and you're thinking of running into you bedroom to shove your beloved Mr. Fluffy Bunny(the stuffed animal you keep tucked under yor pillow) up your arse.

You focus on your mouse with anger filled eyes and slide it over and click "reply" as fast as that furless, legless electronic creature can track.   Who the frak does this person think they are anyway?  OMG!  Screw them!   They just don't get it...but I'll show them...I'll expose them for the hater they are and send them running to their mum like the basement dwelling, fat, 30 something year old, neo-zoom dweeby that they are.

You furiously type away trying to avoid the words that you know will get you banned.  FRAK!  OK, you remain calm and back track a bit, hitting backspace furiously.  OK...have to respond and put this hater in his place...but OMG you do not want to get banned.   You begin typing again at a calm steady pace, the veins on the side of your temples are not so prominent as you enter your words of disgust and insult that you have so cleverly hidden within your comment, that will surely save you from banning and send this hater crying to their mummy.

You read it over once - good no typos and no bad grammar.  You hit the submit button.   Screw them!  Let's see what they think now.  You sit back, smug in the knowledge that your l33t board warrior skills, honed from years of experience on battle field skirmishes across many a gaming forums will easily diminish the hater to a pile of muttering putrid poo(don't ask me - I just made that up) and send them packing.

You await the response from the "HATER".   You could careless about the other post, but this one...the first poster slams the most beautiful CGI you've ever laid eyes on and he/she will pay for their slanderous words of hate.

Finally...a response.  You quickly mouse over and click the thread title and scroll down to see the incoming response from the jerkwad hater that would mess with your post and try to make your game look bad.

Then you read the haters words.

"Dude..why do you have to be so rude?  I can't get your link to work."

EVE Online - The need for adding the human factor.

Posted by Teala Wednesday June 9 2010 at 12:06PM
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I love EVE.   I love the ideal behind EVE.   I love the sandbox game play mechanics.   With that said, and I am not afraid to say it, it is not all it could be in my opinion.   I know EVE has its purist and to deviate from the canon that is EVE Universe -well that is an invitation to invoke the wraith of the purist that will rain down a verbal jihad upon you the likes which you haven't seen until you unleash one of these purist on a forums board.  They will roast you over an open pit, peel your fleshy carcass from the bones and dine on it lovingly - but oh wait...then as the marrow of your bones oozes out they will gather it in goblets and drink of it as if it is a fine wine.   Oh yes...many players of EVE will not stand for blasphemous thoughts or chatter that may take EVE beyond the realm of its designers intent.

I can take the heat - bring it   I think the main reason EVE is not literally crushing all other games(and in my opinion it could), is because some people, OK...a lot more than a lot,...huge amounts of people tend to think that EVE is all about ships - space ships.   The game revolves around them.   In one sense it does, in another it doesn' is all in how you look at it.  And in that is the issue - the crux of the matter - the big turn off for many players.    They want more than a game about ships.   Whether it be starships, wooden ships, airships or any kind of ship.  Why?  Ummm...well maybe because playing a ship is a little to impersonal.   When you think of the canon behind EVE's Universe it is a cold lifeless place of nothing but metal, plastic, tubes, wires and goo.    Where is the human part of the equation?  Oh yeah!  She is stuck in a pod wired up to some computer controlling this ship.   ::sigh::

I know some purist just love this, but you know what(and I do not mean this in a bad way) sucks!  That is why the only way I can even stomach EVE is to make believe that my character is not stuck in some goo filled chamber. 

When she docks, she leaves the ship and can actually walk around the station.   She can eat, she can drink, she can run in fields of green grass, and climb trees, walk the streets of a city on a planet and feel  the warmth of the sun on her face and smell it, feel it, breath it or sit and watch a movie if she likes or eat ice-cream and taste the creamy vanilla on her tongue as it slowly melts from the warmth of her mouth and she can have sex and get drunk and just go crazy in some club on a station after a hard long trip that had took her deep into stress filled, low-sec space.   Oh yes...that is my EVE!  Not some slab of cold lifeless meat, plugged into the main frame of a computer on board a pod full of goo!  That is not how humans are meant to be...not just another piece of hardware in a machine that in reality we would actually not be needed and in fact we would just get in the way.  That is the flaw that is EVE. 

It removes the human factor, the very thing that we identify with and turns it into just another piece of machinery stuck deep inside the belly of a huge chunk of cold steel.    I ask that very appealing?  OMG...hell no!   That is not appealing in the least.   It actually distances us from that which we are..say it with me - we're human.  For all our faults, all our weakness, we cannot escape that we are human and as such we need to be free.  Free to be who were are in every way.    Let me ask you, in Star Trek what was the Enterprise without Capt. Kirk and his crew, what was Serenity without Capt. Malcolm Reynold's and the Mellinium Falcon without Han and Chewie?   Seriously...the ships were doubt about it...but it was the people that gave them life - gave them a soul!

I cannot grasp the EVE as it is designed.  It is so cold.  There is no human factor.  There is no life - no soul.  

So I make up my own version and that is how I can play EVE.  I think a lot of people cannot jump past that as I have, and that is why it is so hard for them to enjoy EVE.   They need to know there is more to EVE than just a bunch of ships made of metal and plastic zipping around a cold Universe.   They need to know there is life, and that it is made of flesh and bone, that it breaths, and can walk and talk, and do all the things that we do because that is what we are - human.    If CCP ever releases Incarna I think you'll see EVE's subscription number climb like never before.  If they add some cool game play aspects to it other than just the ability to walk around a station that is.  If they throw in clubs where players can go meet, gamble, dance or make deals and trade.  If they add player housing, corp offices, conference rooms.  The only limiting factor to how far CCP can take this game is their willingness to push it to add more depth and still keep it as EVE.   This can be done. 

It really wouldn't be all that difficult I would think with today's tech and tools that can be found right off the the numerous websites that offer such types of software.  With the brilliance of the minds behind EVE - surely they can do this.

Seriously....think of the possibilities.  Think of where CCP could take this game and how rich and full of wondrous "life" it could be.  Every time I fire up this game my imagination takes over and my mind longs to see the surface of the water planet that my ship passes as it heads to the next warp gate.   Or to be able to walk inside the enormous Amarr station circling the Earth like world just a few hundred miles below it.    Now that is awesome.   That is epic.   That is what makes playing this game so awesome!  EVE could be that game.   EVE could be the game that really goes beyond the boundaries that currently hold this genre back.   Give our characters human form.  Make us more than just another part of a ship.   Give our characters life...give them true freedom.  

If CCP does this people will come...more than ever before.   Just add the human factor.

The argument against "No Point" ideology - in previous MMORPG's.

Posted by Teala Thursday June 3 2010 at 3:32PM
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So a developer from BioWare believes that there was "no point" in previous MMORPG's because they were not story driven.   As if there must be a set story to make an MMORPG legit?   Does he honestly believe this?   How many story arcs will we players have to choose from in SW:ToR?  Will there be thousands of different story arcs for us to choose from and from those thousands will they branch to a myriad of other story arcs that will give us players a feeling that our characters have a unique game experience that others are not privy of? 

From what we've been told there will be a story our characters will follow and depending on the four choices given per flashpoint this will determine our characters path and final place in this version of the Star Wars verse.

OK...sounds cool.   But won't that mean that every 4th player will in the end have played the same game I played?   What is or will be in the game that will allow me to experience or have a unique game experience and how will my character be unique to the thousands that play the game?

In games like EvE, and old school SWG pre-NGE and even to some extant WoW, DAoC and such we did not have to follow some predetermined path...we were free to choose where to go and what quest to take and whether we participated in certain aspects of the game and this provides a unique game play experience that maybe only I had.

How is SW:ToR going to give us a "point" to play the game?  If from what we've read is true so far, it looks like the only point to playing SW:ToR will be to experience a story that is all ready laid out for us.   Where is the uniqueness in this?  Where is my characters story?   When does she get the chance to make her own destiny and her own story?   How much freedom will SW:ToR actually give us to do just that - that other MMORPG's of the past gave us?  Look at the open ended game play we had in such games as UO, AC, SWG pre-NGE and EvE.   If the developer thinks there is no point to those games it makes me wonder if he ever played a pen and paper game in his life.

Story driven RPG's are good on the single player game level, but we're talking MMO here and I dunno about the rest of you, but I do not wish to pay to play a game that in the end will be nothing more than a co-OP online single player game.   Because based on the info we're getting it looks like that is what SW:ToR is heavily leaning towards.

If we look though at those games I mention, they allowed us players to create a unique game experience that maybe totally different than anything other players may have experienced.   Some of the games even went further and allowed us a great many ways to create unique characters due to the nature of the character progression mechanics that were built into the game.   What will SW:ToR do to provide this amount of freedom and what is the point to play an MMORPG if in the end my Bounty Hunter looks and plays like the thousands of others that are in the game? 

In my opinion when you place a player in a game that is guided by rails, such as story driven content, you are confining that player to more of a "NO POINT" game than if you say here, here is a game world rich with things you can do - find your place in the world and help make it come alive - find the dragon in the distant land that is terrorizing the village and destroy it.  Go and be a crafter and provide weapons and armor to others.  Here are the tools in game for you to build a trading guild that will allow you to gather resources to sell to crafters who in turn will sell their wares to others.    Story driven quest are cool, they help fill out the game and give us some direction - ala such games as WoW, EvE, DAoC...but there has to be other options to give us players a richer game experience in the long run that is unique to us - the things that make us wish to continue to play and continue to contribute to the games community in ways other than to be shoved into a predetermined, story driven style of game play that every other Jill and Joe gamer will experience - and I ask, where is the "point" in that?