Archive | February 2014

The Coffee Break. 28 February 2014

Hello folks;

 

Guild Wars 2 makes a move in China with their plan to introduce the “pay-once” model that they have been using in the west for quite some time. According to Gamasutra.com NCSoft and ArenaNet have decided when they launch Guild Wars 2 in China later this year, they will use the same business model as the one used in the west. Now coming away from the article, as readers we are quite pleased to see that NCSoft and ArenaNet have decided to give the Chinese market the same treatment as their western counterparts. Asia’s gaming market is dominated by free-to-play titles, as well as time-based pay-to-play models, so it will come as a relief to Asian buyers in general (though this particular release is aimed at China) when they begin to see alternatives to the current models available in their region. Indeed subscription-based games continue to hold onto a steady base of supporters – with World of Warcraft being the obvious example – but the market is quite ready to see more free-to-play or pay-once models come into play. Another good alternative to the whole “one or the other” concept is hybrid models (and this is just coming from my thoughts). The hybrid model can be similar to how Planetside 2 or The Old Republic does it in that you can – if you want – subscribe to the game and get all these additional perks like faster experience, and bonus cosmetic items per month, on top of priority log-ins and customer service priority – this along with an in-game store. However where this can go horribly wrong is that the game takes an almost predator-like approach – as seen with a lot of tablet and smart phone games – of which they will literally stop you from progressing unless you buy something.

The predator-like approach however is easier to get away with on tablet and smart phone games than on PC or console games, though there is still the risk of it occurring should the company produce a free-to-play title and are in need of fast cash to keep their lights on. After all the video games industry is like any other entertainment industry: they do this to make money. Regardless however, NCSoft have taken the right steps in order to attract more players from a market that is drowning in free-to-play games that are fairly predator-like in nature. Ever play through JRPGs? Notice how badly they handicap you to the point where you are spending 3 to 4 months straight just to get to – say – level 50 if the level cap in the game is 150? Western gamers are quite lucky in that the games they have to choose from take a more ethical approach to marketing, as opposed to the Asian market where they do charge by the hour. You can read more on this story in the link below.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/211980/Guild_Wars_2_makes_rare_MMO_move_in_China_with_a_payonce_biz_model.php

That’s all folks for today’s coffee break. Have a good rest of the day, a good weekend, and I will see you next time.

The Marder II German tank destroyer.

The day finally came when the tank collection in World of tanks was outfitted with a tank destroyer earned some 3 to 4 months prior to the 25th of February 2014. This tank destroyer at first glance did not seem too appetizing, and after playing one to two matches with it, it was sold and replaced with a conventional tank featuring a rotating turret – something back in the day made the tank destroyer less attractive.

Marder-II

Then all of a sudden there was a thought to bring back the Marder II from hibernation – or rather the scrap heap if one prefers that term. This machine could not have come at a better time as the game of World of Tanks was starting to look rather bland and flavourless. Once the tank destroyer, the crew, and the munitions were purchased, it was time to take the vehicle out for a spin – suffice it to say the collection has never been the same since. The Marder II is a tier three tank destroyer available under the German tech tree just after the Panzerjager I – pardon the lack of strokes above the letter ‘a’ the keyboard does not have other linguistic settings at this time. This 11 tonne machine features – stock – a 7,62cm Pak 36 (r) gun which has been proven to be able to punch through the armour of most tier fours and lower (heavy tanks have not yet been encountered as the teams assigned generally do their jobs well). Now after upgrading the suspension, the engine, the vehicle now sports 140 horsepower with a maximum load limit of 13 tonnes.

The rate of progress once a player reaches the third and fourth tiers begins to slow down significantly as the vehicles become more and more expensive to research and purchase. Indeed the player must exercise patience when going through the tier as rushing through the various tech trees could amount to a lot of wasted credits, gold coins (if purchased from the micro-transaction system), and time. Now the Marder II is definitely not meant to be used as a “tank” tank, meaning the operator in World of Tanks is advised not to drive right up to a KV-1 and open up on the enemy in broad daylight, and in full view as well. However like the M2 Medium over on the American tree, the Marder II serves best as a sit back and shoot vehicle: being a tank destroyer by nature, the Marder II was built to stalk the prey, and pounce when the opportunity presents itself. The gun will generally take care of almost anything, and the ability to turn quickly on a dime makes the Marder II one of the best examples of what the German tech tree has to offer in World of Tanks. After the fiasco that was the Pz.Kpfw. 38 (t), and the equally awful French D1 tank, the German Marder II is a welcome sigh of relief: a sigh that hopefully does not have to be rescinded.

Early days dear readers, but so far the future looks bright – the Marder II will maker sure of that. The reason for this optimism is after the Marder II, the Hetzer is next up in the German tech tree, then the Sturmgeschutz III: the most produced armoured fighting vehicle of Germany during the second world war. Beautiful pieces of hardware just waiting to be purchased and deployed to great effect: something to look forward to indeed. Who knew that in the end a specialist weapon such as a tank destroyer would turn out to be the most interesting vehicle to field, providing ample opportunity to score critical hits on enemy armour, and also offering the player a unique experience not too commonly found in today’s digital war gaming scene. Thanks a lot for reading, watch your six out there, and I will see you next time.

Slowly getting there.

Hello folks;

Recently in World of Tanks I have started to shift around my inventory of vehicles to better suite my play style, as well as earn some new vehicles which I would like to see as part of my “collection.” While I was shuffling through the list of vehicles, I stumped across the Pz.kpfw.38 (t) which is a tier three tank from the German tech tree. Remembering previous battles, and understanding my own play style, it dawned on me that this tank is utter tripe compared to the American M2 Medium, and the Type Japanese Type 97 Chi-Ha. Both vehicles mentioned are of the medium category, and both sport relatively powerful guns with good suspension after upgrades, and good speed. The Pz.Kpfw.38 (t) on the other hand is just god-awful when it comes to any of the said categories – probably because after a few battles it just felt like a chore to operate.

World_of_Tanks_German_300px-PzKpfw_38_(t)

The tank itself could have been redeemed if I wanted to spare the research points and in-game coins to upgrade it – the ones earned through battle and not the gold coins from the market – but I just cannot be bothered with it. Indeed this sense of frustration with the tank has been there for quite some time, and it is only now with the discovery of a particular class of tanks that are suited to my play style that I have decided to re-think keeping the Pz.Kpfw. 38 (t) tank; after all the ones that come after it I have no interest in piloting, and the ones I currently use are about as good as it will get for tanks below tier six give or take. The trials have been fun, but I think it is time to retire this little tank to the museum and let the big boys roam the battlefield. Thanks for the memories Pz.Kpfw. 28 (t), but it is time for you to now go to sleep.

Right now I am currently working on a tier four British light tank, as well as the said American and Japanese medium tanks. Thus far the M2 you already know my thoughts from a previous article, but as for the British light tank and the Japanese vehicle, expect something on this topic in the near future. Until then folks watch your six, and I will see you next time.

Tinkering, miniatures, and the Republic Trooper

Hello folks;

Yes indeed there are signs of tinkering when it comes to the computer software of a particular writer’s machine. Earlier in the weekend, it was discovered that when the machine was set up to emphasize performance, the issues of lag and stutter seemed to have been reduced to almost zero – minor lag in heavily populated areas is unavoidable unfortunately. Turns out the whole hypothesis surrounding connection and game performance may have been proven false; setting the computer to focus on performance closes a number of unnecessary programs and software in the background, thereby boosting the machine’s ability to run games to preferred levels. However the work continues as server location seems to help in a strange way when it comes to connection delay and wait times (logging into the game for the first time in the day). Thus far The Old Republic has shown marked improvement, while World of Tanks has given mixed results. Further investigation will be conducted in the weeks to follow so stay tuned.

Despite the steady rise in prices, Warhammer 40,000 continues to be a favourite for myself when it comes to war gaming. Recently it was decided that I would clean out my sliding keyboard platform under my desk and convert it into a painting station: now I seek a paint-on primer to use for my models as I feel it is as good a time as any to re-start my operations building and painting miniatures for the Empire, the Imperium of Man, and if life permits it, Grey Knights. Thus far there is a good two to five boxes of unopened miniatures ranging from the black powder cannon of the Empire from Warhammer Fantasy, to the Catachan Command Squad of the Imperial Guard from Warhammer 40,000. Though the miniatures have gotten more and more expensive over time, war gaming miniatures are a luxury item to say the least, and the quality of the models has not diminished over the years. Therefore while it is regrettable that the price of the models was not what it once was back in 2008, we will cut our losses and make do with whatever we can afford, and build armies on a budget while ignoring the impulse to buy overly expensive Titan models or large tanks that will never be used – hope this works out.

Now onto the bit of news you care about: the Trooper class and how it plays out. Well I can honestly say that I still dislike the Republic as a faction, but with this feeling comes a certain degree of freedom when playing the Trooper class as I am not entirely too serious when running around as a Special Forces soldier. Indeed I am often quite hostile to Senators in-game and extremely blunt with my superiors; both of which present interesting dialogue between the character and the NPCs as they realize their station in society does not grant them sweeping authority to demand certain things from a soldier like myself.

Trooper_vanguard1

The advanced class I chose was the Vanguard – as seen in the picture above, though not the same character – and so far it has proven to be quite a joy to play. The combat style is relatively similar to both the Bounty Hunter basic class, and the Imperial Agent Sniper advanced class: though the out of combat self-heal animation reminds me a lot of Mass Effect 2 and 3 with the whole ejecting clip after healing is done. After noticing this feature while re-watching Mass Effect 2 cutscenes, I am now lead to believe that rather than a block clip to load the ammo, the rifles used by the Trooper are using something similar to Thermal Clips from the Mass Effect series – though I digress. The storyline for the Trooper on the other hand is not as exciting as the Imperial Agent as you are sent running around conducting SWAT team operations on Coruscant, rather than doing any real soldiering – though hunting down Havoc Squad defectors is “soldiering,” to some, I would have preferred to see my Trooper doing surgical strikes against the Empire rather than doing manhunt operations. Overall the class is fun to play, and being able to mess with people (NPCs) in the game’s cut scenes is a relaxing experience.

Alright enough talk, there is much work to be done as I need to search for a paint-on primer, and continue with my adventures in The Old Republic. Thanks for reading: take care out there folks, and I’ll see you next time.

Plants are overrated, you can always get oxygen from a tank.

Hello folks;

Garrus and Zaeed are quite the interesting team when you leave them to wander about your apartment in Mass Effect 3. Watching the video on youtube (which will be posted) the dialogue between the two of them reminds me of how I would go about an apartment if I was paired with someone as militaristic as myself. Some of you may find it hilarious, others not so much – though I am certain the “others” do not even surf my blog page so on with the show!

Continuing my adventures in The Old Republic, I have finally gotten my Trooper to Coruscant and I think the class is starting to look a bit more appealing. There is still that dissatisfaction that the Trooper is fighting for the Republic, but there is always the possibility to treat the Trooper like a Foreign Legionnaire, thereby shifting the loyalty of the character towards the military organization, rather than the political entity it is fighting to preserve. The feeling that the Trooper class is misplaced keeps floating around in the air, but in the end there had to be some variation in class design, and not all the “fun to play” classes can go to the Empire.

Trooper_vanguard1

There is a chance that as I play through the Trooper story arc, I might just turn my Trooper into a organization-only soldier, being less than friendly to the over-inflated egos of politicians and senators, and protecting those who are part of SpecForce and leaving anyone outside of it to die. The Republic just does not appeal to me, and my time on Ord Mantell has shown me that even within the Republic forces (allies included), corruption runs rampant. Now there is the chance that I simply have not noticed this yet for the Empire, but my experience with the Imperials is that they are a no nonsense military outfit. They are loyal, tough, and show a strong degree of camaraderie, something that I never get playing as a Trooper – except say within SpecForce division. Maybe the Empire appeals to someone like myself more because I am a militaristic person, and the Republic is meant to be an exaggeration of democracy run amuck. Regardless, at least I tried out the Trooper class rather than the other three available to the Republic faction mainly because when I went to Tython I felt as though the place was run by idealistic dreamers and children in adult bodies. Who withholds emotion in an unnatural state and pretends to be indifferent to everything around them? Good lord, that and the fact they would preach peace, but use violence in a very liberal manner just sparks the thought that they are upholding a double standard. Contrast that to the Empire, they never pretend to be pacifists, and certainly they value unity, rather than isolation and fragmentation.

There is a limit to how much one can tolerate when it comes to inaction, indecisiveness, and inefficiency. Shame there was no dialogue near the end of Ord Mantell that allowed the Trooper to say: “Good luck sir.” This here folks is why I enjoy the Old Republic: neither side is inherently “good” or “evil,” rather both factions are grey. The term “evil” become subjective, and the factions begin to show their colours in a more even playing field: this is indicative of a sound story arc. Perhaps the Trooper is not too terrible after all. Anyways that is about as far as I will go on this topic for today: maybe I will make a piece on this blog talking about the Empire on a cultural level; it was quite interesting to explore the Empire and all of its elements, so stay tuned. Thanks a lot for reading, and I will see you next time.

Lions Arch is under siege apparently.

Hello folks;

 

Arena Net has released their latest living world content titled “Escape from Lion’s Arch,” which features the main villain in the living world content, Scarlet, besieging Lion’s Arch in an attempt to forward her evil ambitions – sorry for the lack of details I have not really read into the back story of Scarlet Briar and her war against Tyria. Players of Guild Wars 2 can participate in the event that is going on now, and for those of you wondering what happens to all the main hub services, they have been moved to Vigil Keep. The section previously blocked off has been turned into a temporary refugee camp for those fleeing the violence, and here is where the objectives come into play: players will be battling Scarlet’s forces alongside the Lionguard, all the while evacuating civilians from the city. Thus far the content feels somewhat similar to the Halloween content where you had to fight the mad king’s minions – running through a maze to engage the enemy, and then proceeding with the zerg (the mob of players) to the next area boss.

Guild Wars 2

Now in regards to overall play time spent, I have only participated in the event once this week. When the update was released, I hopped onto my Human Engineer to see what the fuss was all about. Thanks to my character being in LA when the event occurred, I was not scaled to level 80 like other players below 80, and you can imagine the result when a level 55 engages a level 80 who also happened to bring along his wonderful friends. Most of my time after that was spent trying out the Trooper class in The Old Republic which to be honest, feels bland to say the least. Normally I really like military-themed classes, but the Imperial Agent and Sith Warrior really have me hooked to the game whereas the Trooper is sort of like plain bread – it smells fresh and tastes great when fresh from the oven, but without jam or honey it quickly becomes boring. However I do like the self-healing animation of the trooper: using a block clip (similar to the one found in an M1 Garand), the Trooper loads in the rounds, and when you either cancel or finish off the out of combat self-heal, he/she ejects the block clip and loads the fresh set of rounds into – what I presume to be – an internal magazine like the ones found on lever-action rifles. One has to assume that the block clip was used to hold the loose ammo in place and when the locking door slammed shut, the clip falls out and the rounds drop into the magazine – after all a Turkish Orman/Berthier carbine features a three-round clip that falls out of the hole in the bottom of the rifle once the third and final round is chambered, so the technology definitely would exist in a setting like Star Wars.

Later on in the week I will probably re-enter LA to do some more fighting; after all it is called Guild Wars 2, not Guild peacekeeper 2: maybe there will be more updates on my adventures from that event, maybe there will not. You lovely people will just have to check back every now and then to see what is going on: also they gave me a grenade weapon kit so now aside from a flamethrower I can also be a walking mortar in events and arena matches – I love the engineer class. Anyways folks the Escape from Lion’s Arch, currently up and running so log into Guild Wars 2 and have some fun: I shall see you next time.

http://www.incgamers.com/2014/02/guild-wars-2-escape-lions-arch-live-today

 

Elder Scrolls Lore: Wolf Queen of Solitude review.

Hello folks;

The Shoddycast channel on youtube has done some fantastic work in the past with their lore series: from the provinces, to the various key figures in the Elder Scrolls universe. This one in particular stood out not only because they used a different voice actor, but because the man who was hired to read the tale of the Wolf Queen of Solitude did so with the utmost dedication and enthusiasm. Normally it would be one of the ShoddyCast hosts who would read the story to us, the youtube audience, but this time it was a new fellow whom we have never heard from before.

Without spoiling the story (the link to the video will be provided) the tale of the Wolf Queen is done so in a manner that would give off the feeling of a fairy tale told to children as a bed time story. The character who the story focused on is depicted just as many of us would have imagined when playing Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: dark, dangerous, and riddled with rumors. The political history of Tamriel is one such that makes a game set in the Elder Scrolls universe worth playing: the Empire of Tamriel is indeed a faction that inspires loyalty and fairy tales – something to be admired when examining a role-playing game. Background lore, as well as current time frame story arcs are important in developing a good RPG, and the folks who wrote this tale did an excellent job with the little story in-game so much so that as it is translated from the in-game lore into the present script and told in the video, it will bring the world of Tamriel to life once more – the other time(s) being when a player goes through Skyrim for the first time, and experiences the people, the places, and the culture of the landscape.

Take what you will from this dear readers, but rest assured the story is worth your time – unless you would rather prefer short, violent experiences, in that case I will direct you to Call of Duty Ghosts – plenty of combat to be had, and the story is not too hard for you to comprehend (humor intended). Enjoy the evening folks, and I shall see you next time.