Tuesday, July 24, 2007

For Your Consideration

If the Bratz "girlz" have no "nosez", how will they ever learn to snort cocaine?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Unofficial Sequel

I remember Tabula Rasa from when it was called Anarchy Online.

Wait, I guess it still is called Anarchy Online.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


"The innovative program is called the Nintendo Fan Network. For a fee, the network uploads a program onto the user's DS Lite and allows fans to order food and drinks, watch the live television feed of the game, access stats and scores and play trivia, all from the comfort of their seat -- whether it's a premium seat behind home plate or in the top row of the stadium."


This is a very cool example of how Nintendo is integrating their consoles into our lives.

I'd come up with an actual cartridge, too, something that would let you track stats yourself, swap virtual cards, even compete in a fantasy league. A signature book would be awesome, but I'm wondering how the players would react to digitizing that aspect of fandom.

There are all sorts of cool possibilities. Maybe even the ability to post messages to the Jumbotron (I'm assuming they'd employ a human filter to check for the naughty stuff).

Makes me almost want to go to a baseball game. If I got bored I could always pop in Pokemon.

Turing Test

Found while looking around:

Originally Posted by Acidbaron

You can never be sure, by just looking at their behaviour ingame, bots are getting harder to detect also, so i don't think it really is that easy

Sorry, but I disagree with that ...
Ok let me give you some hints to identify a WoW bot in 10s ....
1) you have a player which name is like "Hghfgfgfgh"
2) He is more than 90% of the cases a Hunter class, though now it's less the case because they are identified too easily
3) He is the whole day at exactly the same spot, and moves only when he his too high level. He is always at those spots where a maximum pack of mobs spawns, but are soloable, and don't wander around.
4) When you talk to him he never answers.
5) The behaviour : on a pvp server when you fight him in Bot mode, he fights really worse than any noob. He nevers attacks you when he's on the other side. When you kill him over and over, you notice that the Bot modes turn off, and as he tries to get rid of you from his hunting spot he plays better while PVPing.
6) When he dies and respawns, or select a new target, he always do exactly the same actions and pathing.
7) You can see in the Auction house Blue World items sold by another player names "Erfgrerggr" that is for sure the mule of "Hghfgfgfgh"

Now tell me Bots are tough to identify ...


According to this list, my actions in World of Warcraft have me pegged as a bot. Other than the weird thing with the names, it's a good description of how I roll.

I hate Philip K. Dick moments.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I Will Never Do This

This follows on
from my discussion yesterday regarding permadeath.

I was reading some forums on that very subject and someone mentioned that all MMOs already have a permadeath option.

It's called deleting your character.

If you're so keen on permadeath, then when your character bites it for the first time, don't resurrect - simply logout, delete char, type in the confirmation code and reroll.

I suspect that people who are very keen on permadeath as a game function like it that way in part because, if given the option, they will rez their character like everybody else. They want their hand to be forced so they don't have to resist temptation.

But what I suspect it really hinges on is creating obstacles for other players. They would argue that permanent death gives more meaning to quests, more risk. This is true.

It's also what would worry me most about such a system. Online games aren't known for their level-headed communities. Instituting permadeath is basically ceding emotional resonance to the griefers.

So remember: If it's that fucking important to you, delete your character the first time you die. If you can't bring yourself to do it, then never again make a bad faith argument about how much more exciting it is to risk it all to server lag, trained mobs, and overpowered bosses.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Itch

I got the urge to play WoW again the other day, but it very quickly turned into boredom. This is good. It saves me time and money that I would've spent re-activating my account, playing hours a day for two weeks, getting burned out, and quitting in disgust.

But I've still got the urge to play an MMO. Problem is, I've played 'em. Very nearly all of them. Even the Korean ones.


For some reason I'm really looking forward to both Age of Conan and Warhammer: Online.

I don't know why I'm suddenly enamored with the Conan game. I loved the first movie as a ten-year-old kid, which is understandable, but haven't thought of it much since then.

While Conan is still a fantasy world, it falls into magical realism. Something about it feels grittier and more mysterious.

Funcom, developers of Anarchy Online, are trying for real-time combat with out-of-the-way number crunching. I'd like to see them pull this off. My guess is that 56k will be shit out of luck. While Anarchy was almost incomprehensible, what I've seen so far looks very straightforward.

They're going for an M-rating, which hasn't been very common in MMOs (I can't actually name any thus far).

Warhammer's the other property I've only lately delved into, courtesy of the 40K RTSes.

I really would have preferred to see 40K. Sci-fi isn't quite a dead horse yet for MMOs, while fantasy has been dead, beaten, deboned, and ground into chuck.

But maybe the sheer mindless brutality of the Warhammer universe will carry the day.

From what I've heard Mythic is also looking at an M-rating. Waagh!


The thing that will clinch it, that always seems to clinch it, is how these games will handle death.

Just to get it out of the way, I hate the idea of permadeath. I wouldn't care if developers made it a switch at character creation, no problem there. You either choose it or you don't, and go on your merry way.

The problem I have is that pro-permadeath people typically either want everyone to be affected or they want some kind of fucking reward for being so hardcore. If it's a choice they will bitch about balance. If it's required then the game is doomed.

I also hate experience debt. And item loss/degradation. Basically, I hate punishing players for playing.

One of the joys in an MMO is the sheer scope of the world, which naturally appeals to explorer types. They want to see everything.

It can also appeal to hardcore types. They might have a challenge to run through a dangerous area and make it as a lowbie into some hard-to-reach settlement.

Permadeath/xp debt/item loss punishes players for risky behavior.

When these things are implemented, people are more cautious, or they quickly learn to be. Why try to take on an enemy you might not be able to defeat? Why test out a difficult tactic? Why do something daring or stupid? Why travel to an area that might be out of your level?

WoW seems to have it right. You have to make a corpse run, or take a penalty at the graveyard. Minor annoyances, but they don't have the effect of setting you back.

City of Heroes lost me because XP debt was exponential - you hardly noticed it in the early levels, but the higher you got the more debt you incurred and the harder the missions - therefore the more you would die, therefore even more debt. It would spiral out of control, especially if you sidekicked. You were incredibly vulnerable as a sidekick, so you could come out of a mission with barely any progress. The XP debt made the sidekick system, which should've been awesome, into such a high-risk venture that I didn't bother with it.

A permadeath system could have the effect of keeping even more of the player base away from high-level content, which would not only lead to anger at the top (not enough high-levels for raids/dungeons) and at the bottom (no chance to access high-level content). I know that I still have yet to bring a WoW character to 60, but at least without permadeath there's a chance I might.

All of that just to say that I'm watching Age of Conan and Warhammer: Online in anticipation of how they will handle player death.

Find That Game

The new website GameHunt looks like it could become a very useful resource, given enough time.

You can look for games based upon lots of common parameters. Right now it's pretty much brand new and lacking in games, but there is a way to submit games to the database.

There is a lot of room for gaming this kind of system in order to generate false positives (tagging your game with all genre types), but hopefully some kind of rating system will be put in place to show confidence in the information, as well as a way to mark an entry as spam.

Give it a look.

Lack of Support

I think I figured out
why Jamlab doesn't work for me.

The drivers that are supposed to ensure 32-bit Vista compatibility aren't compatible with 32-bit Vista.

Which, yes, they're beta drivers, but you'd think that basic functionality wouldn't be spotty.

The device shows up fine in the Device Manager, but it won't start. The installed driver still shows up as the default (dated 2006) even after installing the update. Manually uninstalling the old driver and installing the most recent one has no effect. I believe the old driver may be installed by the device itself.

So I'm back to where I started.

I'm pretty sure I won't be buying any M-Audio stuff in the future. The support is just terrible. I can't even find any official forums.


On the other hand, I've gotten a look at Native Instruments Guitar Rig 2 and it looks mighty sweet. I have the fear, though, with computer audio, that things will not work or be glitchy or become obsolete. Understandably.

Plus it's a fuckload of money (370 bucks) to drop on noodling gear.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jamlab Update

I was excited
to see that M-Audio released Jamlab beta drivers for Vista.

The install seemed to go off without a hitch. Now I've got the little icon down in my system tray.

Then I tried installing GTPlayer Express. No Asio driver detected - GTPlayer wouldn't even attempt insallation.

I installed Asio4All and restarted. Tried GTPlayer again. No luck.

I have no idea what other program to even attempt with Jamlab and I have no confidence whatsoever that any other program would work. Not to mention that I'd be without a simple amp/effect interface which was the whole reason I bought the damn thing. To jam.

I have no desire to spend several hundred dollars on a hardware/software interface for my computer because I just want to bust out some power chords and maybe play along with MP3s.

Shit like this makes my Mac-lust flare up, visions of Garageband flying through my daydreams.

Of course, that conflicts with the whole not spending money thing.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Odin Sphere

Odin Sphere is
a good game.

It's wonderfully drawn and animated, reminiscent of Darkstalkers. Details like the character idles are so subtle that you could miss them. Layered backgrounds scroll by like a watercolor with real depth.

This is a game of simplicity, art, and imagination. The story is told in a postmodern style, character arcs occurring out of temporal sequence. The stories are fairy tales, seemingly cliche but with surprising turnarounds. Characters exhibit their own motivations, resisting neat, happy resolutions.

The game system itself is of the eternal recurrence type, bringing to mind Otogi: Myth of Demons. Each level follows the same guidelines, enemies spawn and must be completely defeated. Clearing a level yields a rating based upon time, damage done, damage received, etc. Managing your resources and timing your attacks is the strategy for success.

To illustrate the strange, clever beauty of this game, consider this: You regain health and earn experience by eating food. You can buy certain foods from vendors or earn them as rewards - milk, cheese, the like. Then there are the seeds. You plant seeds. As you destroy enemies, small particles of light are released called Phozons. Seeds absorb Phozons and sprout right before your eyes. When a plant has matured you can harvest the fruit. Take too long and the fruit will drop off the plant and rot. The greatest seed you can find is the one that sprouts sheep, which ripen, then pop off the vine and run across the level.

I would also like to note that the game looks great even on a 50-inch HDTV. I can't say the same about any 3d PS2 game.

I think I paid 35 dollars for Odin Sphere, brand spanking new.

It's well worth it.


The only negative thing I can say about Odin Sphere is that the action can slow down quite a bit when there are a lot of enemies onscreen.

I'm surprised that this happens, even with last-gen hardware. I often wonder if all the attention lavished on 3d affected the development of 2d. There are lots of optimizations for geometry and textures, but does that naturally carry over to animated sprites?

Anyone out there have any information on this subject? Would a game comparable to Odin Sphere suffer slowdown even on current-gen systems?


The same company that created Odin Sphere is coming out with a 2d RTS with the same art style. I have no idea how this will work.

I have confidence that it will, though.

A Feast

All I can say
is that Scooter Libby should've been staked to a hillside so that crows could eat his eyes and tongue.