Archive for May, 2010

Funny of the Day: “Sublime Subliminal Sublimation” or “Bad Ads”

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Click to enlarge.

Categories: Comic, In-game Advertising

They Said Whaaat?: “DRM Nazis” or “Michael Pachter Misses The Point”

May 31, 2010 1 comment

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, a fan of the ‘always-online’ DRM,  had the following to say:

“I think anything a publisher does to make sure you don’t rip off their games if their right, and I think that people who steal should be in jail. I welcome the flamer comments on this one; if you think that’s right good for you; we have no interest in your business since you don’t pay for stuff anyway.”

– Michael Pachter, Pach-Attack videocast (Source).

Just two days ago I posted about how I don’t have a problem with the ‘always-on’ format of Ubisoft’s DRM, being an MMO-player. However, I did concede that this is provided Ubisoft’s servers don’t screw up and provide me with the ability to play the game unhindered, as long as I am online.

Mr. Pachter seems to miss this point altogether.

A lot of angst over this form of DRM is due to the fact that a very large number of players were not able to access the content that they paid for. For example, Assassin’s Creed II players were not able to access/play the game because Ubisoft’s servers were down. I agree with taking steps (quite draconian in this case, but a necessary evil from a studio’s point of view) to prevent against digital theft. But if you can’t provide the service you promised while forcing players to be online, you deserve to lose business over it.

It’s the equivalent of buying a box-set at a game outlet, only to realize that you need to plaster the receipt to your forehead while playing it; and even then you can’t access a product you legally purchased, because the studio doesn’t have its act straight.

More than that, just because someone does not agree with this form of piracy, does not make them a pirate by default. because if that were the case, Frank Pearce, a Blizzard Entertainment employee, would be classified as a pirate as well. That categorical statement is more than a little unfounded and baseless.

Care to make a more rational argument Mr. Pachter?

Categories: DRM, They said whaaaat?

They Said Whaaaat?: “Rockstar Games are SrsBusiness!” or “Dad’s is a Terrible Parent!”

May 30, 2010 Leave a comment

“Our games are not designed for young people. If you’re a parent and buy one of our games for your child you’re a terrible parent.”

– Lazlow Jones, Rockstar Games (Source).

My father bought me GTA-IV as a early birthday present. I guess he’s a terrible parent!

Thought of the Day: “Is DRM Really That Big a Deal for MMO Players?” or “The DRaMa Continues”

May 29, 2010 1 comment

As MMO players, we are used to being online on a stable connection constantly in order to have any semblance of a respectable online existence. A solid connection is further necessitated by hardcore raiders, who strive strenuously to conquer end-game content, sometimes for several hours on end. For us, being online without interruption is not just a matter of convenience, it is a prerequisite for the online existence.

This is not to say DRM isn’t without problems. With Ubisoft’s horrendous implementation of their DRM, the horror stories of paying customers being unable to access content, and the stringent penalty for a dropped connection leading to lost progression in the game, its no wonder that the very mention of DRM-based games strike a primal nerve in contemporary gamers.
That being said, and a long-time loyalist for PC games, I have observed the genre devolve owing to rampant piracy hurting sales. The degree of truth in this phenomenon notwithstanding, if DRM can help curb the threat of piracy and bring more studios to release games for the PC instead of exclusive titles for the PS3 or Xbox360, I am all for it.

As an MMO-player, being online, even to play single-player games (if the servers are stable and allow players to play normally), I for one have no issues with it.

Let the flaming commence!

Categories: DRM, MMO Concepts

They Said Whaaat?: “My DRM is Better Than Your DRM” or “Amen to That Brother!”

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

“[DRM is] a losing battle for us. We need our development teams focused on content and cool features, not anti-piracy technology.”

– Frank Pearce, Producer, StarCraft II (Source).

Categories: They said whaaaat?

“10 Questions About the Secret World” or “Funcom Keeps on Sharing!” – Part II

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As promised, the second part of the the-part community-asked Q&A session with one Ragnar Tornquist was released today. Again a lot of information was shared, some of it redundant, and some of the answers were drowning in rhetoric or marketing gibberish. An example is below:

Q: Will Agartha be a variety of environments or purely subterranean caves?
Agartha will be something very surprising and fresh and different – inspired by the myths, built on plenty of research into hidden tomes and forgotten lore, and recreated in a way that’s going to be intriguing both from a gameplay point of view and from a purely aesthetic point of view. We will, in essence, open the gates to one of the world’s strangest, most arcane and most enduring mysteries. But the true nature of Agartha won’t be revealed even at launch: we have much, much more in store.

Notice how smoothly Tornquist avoided the question altogether?

There were, however, some interesting bits and pieces of information. You can read the entire Q&A series further below, or go to The Secret World forums and read it there. You can also find the first part here. But why would you when I have compiled a short list of the most important and interesting tidbits of information in the handy bullet-point list below?

  • PvP will be designed to cater to both large-scale conflicts, and smaller skirmishes to please both organized hardcore PvP’ers and casual players
  • The three factions can band together to fight evil and Barbara Streisand (he probably didn’t mean the Barbara Streisand bit)
  • There will be crafting… or something similar.
  • In groups, different combos can be activated by players using several powers in succession, playing the ‘Holy Trinity’ in TSW will put players at a distinct disadvantage. What I glean from this is that you can play the tank, damage-dealer or healer role exclusively, but only in combining the three roles and further strengthening it with party combos will you achieve your true potential.
  • There is loot. Lots of it. It isn’t wardrobe based, your wardrobe is purely cosmetic, but you will have amulets, rings, necklaces, specific passive powers and even tattoos that will grant you stats. Remember the first CGI trailer Funcom revealed? The tattoos on that Asian came alive as she took on Smiley.
  • Powers can be acquired in many ways, but primarily through purchasing. Go go Capitalism!
  • There will be traditional end-game content. Sort of. *sigh*

Q1: Will Agartha be a variety of environments or purely subterranean caves? (Samsbase)

Agartha will be something very surprising and fresh and different – inspired by the myths, built on plenty of research into hidden tomes and forgotten lore, and recreated in a way that’s going to be intriguing both from a gameplay point of view and from a purely aesthetic point of view. We will, in essence, open the gates to one of the world’s strangest, most arcane and most enduring mysteries. But the true nature of Agartha won’t be revealed even at launch: we have much, much more in store.

Q2: All the PvP in Agartha will be oriented to large cabals (defend or conquest cells), or there will be also some “casual-player friendly” pvp content? (Croshin)

We’ll have both. We’re going to include PvP modes that allow for quick and easy fixes without having to be part of a permanent group or a cabal – although you’ll still be fighting rival secret societies.

Q3: Is TSW’s PvE gameplay design so that PvE players have reason to play after 30 days? (Liliane)

Absolutely. We don’t expect everyone to migrate to PvP after racing through the game’s missions. There will be plenty of reasons to stick around and play for non-PvP players, including – but not limited to – a huge amount of powers to accumulate, achievements, **** and the ********. Oh, sorry, I’m not supposed to talk about those two features yet. We also expect to add content to the game on a regular basis after launch, and the story will continue in content upgrades and expansions.

Q4: Will different secret societies be able to play together in PvE? (Unknown)

Yes. The secret societies may be divided in pursuit of power, but they stand united against evil – at least for as long as strictly necessary. It may only be a friendship of the surface – in more ways than one – but none of the secret societies want to see our world succumb to the darkest of days. After all, if that happens, what’s left to control?

Q5: Is there going to be crafting in TSW and how will it work? (Liliane)

There will be crafting – or something similar – but we haven’t revealed any details yet.

Q6: Is the game still going to focus on a classless skill based system or will it be designed to have players focus on filling different rolls in a group? (Malkov)

Both. Players can create their own hybrids with any combination of powers, but it’ll also be important to put together teams that can function as efficiently as possible. To that end, we’re building combos that require the use of different powers by the various team members, making the choice of powers – and the composition of the team – into a sort of meta-game. I think players gravitate towards specific roles, regardless, but the beauty of our system is that you don’t just have to be a tank; you can also be a damage dealer and a healer. You don’t have to get stuck with one job. Of course, our monsters will also challenge players in new ways. If you play TSW like a purely class-based game, you might find yourself at a disadvantage.

Q7: Martin (Lead Designer) previously mentioned that the game was still item heavy because of the RPG genre, could this be expanded on? How for example will the paper doll be set out so that whilst clothing provides no stats we can still min/max or have progression via items? (Luna)

While clothing has no stats, there are plenty of other things that do – including occult weapons, magic rings and necklaces, ‘passive’ powers and mystical tattoos – and The Secret World will have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of items for players to play around with and configure to their heart’s content.

Q8: And of course this was mentioned already but 300% want to know HOW we will be obtaining skills. Will they be quest rewards, something we learn through grinding “proficiency points” to advance down a skill tree, or will they be something acquired with a WoW-esque “talent points” system? (Quanyin)

Powers are acquired in a couple of different ways, but mainly through purchase. As you gain experience points, you also earn the currency needed to procure new powers – though these powers vary in cost, of course, based on how powerful and unique they are.

Q9: You’ve mentioned before that playing TSW will be like starting at the end-game, because there are no levels. Does this then mean there’s no actual end-game either, because there will always be something new to achieve? (Kasama)

Yes and no. Of course there will be something like the traditional end-game content, since that’s something players enjoy – be it PvP or PvE – but there will also be achievements (and other things) to keep players engaged for – hopefully – years and years. And that’s not counting the content we’ll be releasing post-launch. We have some extremely exciting things in store.

Q10: What kind of incentive is there to kill things apart from just killing them? (loot? knowledge?) i.e: are the rewards more mission based, loot based or something else? (SA_Avenger)

You mean, apart from the pure satisfaction of slaying a powerful demon? Loot, of course; experience; mission rewards; points for (and from) your secret society. The love and appreciation of a world on the brink of the eternal night. What more could you ask for?

Categories: The Secret World

“Live Action Role-Playing” or “Experiential Video Game Theme Park and Resort”

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Via Massively, Game Nation wants to explore a novel concept in MMO gaming: a real-life, customizable game-world ripe with possibility and only limited by your imagination. At least that is what the marketing lingo claims.

“Game Nation™ is the world’s first Experiential Video Game Theme Park and Resort. Visitors will become players as their dreams and fantasies come to life in adventures yet to be told. You will become anything you like and live out the character you create. But this is no game. It’s real!”

Aside from a threadbare website and glimpses of purported grandeur, there is damn near no other information available on the precise details of such an ambitious project. All we know is that over the next 12 months, the company will select the ideal location for said experiment, and obviously we will be updated accordingly via the website and the Twitter account.

While the above seems like a incredibly bloated and preposterously all-encompassing statement, I wonder if there is any truth to the matter. LARPing, or Live-Action Role-Playing has evolved significantly over the years, and we have seen countless examples that go from absolutely, abysmally (happy Milamber?) absurd to incredibly immersive and impressive.

An example of the former category (ridiculousness and context debatable) is as follows:

The later category includes events like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. larping. You can find some images from this event here, and I a posting one below as well.

It is an interesting concept for sure, and it certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt considering its embryonic stage. It will be interesting to see how, in a setting such as this, the developers will deal with the ever-present issue of the illusion of choice. Will ‘players’ (participants?) be given meaningful choices? How will they safeguard against trolling, or the potential damage too much free will can cause in such an ambitious live role-playing arena?

Beyond these concerns, I am also curious to see how successful said experiment will be. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. LARP event above was attended by hundreds of individuals, but that was an isolated incident. How will the developers garner enough attention to ensure the potential player base leaves the comfort of their homes, the Double Big Mac with cheese with large fries with a diet coke, and trek out to wherever they set up and participate in the events. And that too for a (likely) a price.

I’ll keep a close eye on this intriguing new concept, and update here if anything new rears its head.

Categories: Immersion, LARPing, Opinion, Realism

They Said Whaaaat: “Damnit Dad, Pass the Falafels” or “Hypocritical Concerns”

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

From Kotaku’s Talk Amongst Yourselves:

Would it kill developers to put more language controls in games? I’ve got a 3 year old son; I’m not worried that he’s going to shoot up a school, but I am worried that he’s going to parrot any foul word he hears. I said “Dammit” in conversation with my wife last summer, and he still gets that word out on (hilarious) occasion. But if he picks up “fuck” or “cunt” from Read Dead Redemption, my wife would throw my 360 into the pond out back.

All I’m asking for is an option to bleep or blank nasty words in videogames. You still get the point of the cursing across. The only result is that you get to avoid awkward situations in mixed company.

In the absence of a rudimentary language filter, I’m afraid that given a similar choice in the future, I’m going to be picking up Super Mario Galaxy 2 instead of the next “M” rated game. Limiting my gameplay to when I’m home and my son is asleep means I’ll probably finish RDR sometime in August.

Sorry to sound like a grumpy old man. Just trying to get the kids off my lawn, metaphorically speaking.


Categories: They said whaaaat?

“Funny Of The Day: FML” or “Pirating Something That Was Available For Free FTL”

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Categories: Comic

“WoW: MMO Giant, Microtrasnaction Pioneer” or “$2 Auction House Whore”

May 24, 2010 1 comment

This doesn’t get said enough. Blizzard is one of the pioneers for micro-transactions in the MMO market. Realm Transfer, Race Change, Faction Change, Sex Change, Unique Mounts, Unique Pets (which, incredibly, can go out of stock, despite being digital), you name it, and World of Warcraft has it. Yet because of its persistent subscription-based model, no one really latches on to the fact that WoW is likely one of the biggest players in the micro-transaction market, and will continue to roll out ways for players to invest more of their real world doubloons into the ever-popular MMO behemoth.

The Auction House mobile smart phone application for the hardcore Ah enthusiast is another step in this never-ending chain designed to rob us of our hard-earned beer money. But it comes at the price of an additional $2 a month piggybacking onto your $15 monthly subscription. We can speculate in any number of ways about how successful this might or might not be, but let’s not forget how a shiny horse managed to to net millions for Blizzard in just a few hours. It cost $25.

The propensity for the WoW player-base to engage in all manner of frivolous spending always amazes me. A close friend, Itachi, warrior extraordinaire, paid Blizzard some hard-earned greenbacks to change his character into a female. When I asked him why he wasted that money, he said it was easier on the eyes than have to stay at the back end of a male human warrior all day. Your argument Bronte? Yeah i didn’t have any.

I think the AH module will not see the same level of success as past offers from Blizzard. First, there are only so few hardcore AH manipulators that they would want to have access to the AH functionality in all waking hours. Second, only a percent of those would have smart phones. Third, only a percent of those would have iPhones or iPads. Sure they have a web-version of the service in beta, but if you have access to the web, you likely have access to WoW in the first place.

I guess only time will tell!

Categories: World of Warcraft

“10 Questions About the Secret World” or “Funcom Keeps on Sharing!”

May 23, 2010 1 comment

The official forums for The Secret World have a new post from Funcom answer some of the questions asked by the community over the course of time. Ten questions in all were answered, but closer scrutiny reveals that some of them for repetitive in nature, so it’s really only 8 questions or so answered.

Here is a quick summary of what I thought were the most interesting sections. There is other information detaling how awesome the story is etc., but that is marketing lingo than anything else. You are really interested in the buttel points below:

  1. There may be mounts.
  2. Every in-game NPC is fully voice-acted.
  3. There will be in-game social events, but the exact nature is not confirmed yet.
  4. There will be arenas for PvP action. This information is brand new, and was revealed through these questions.
  5. You can create at least one character per account. You may be able to create more. Once you are part of a society, even thinking of joining another is treason. Your choice is for life.

Also: this is Part 1 of 3. So stay tuned as more information unfolds.

It’s still an informative read, so head on over to the forums for the thread, or just read the whole post copy-pasted below!

Q1: Will TSW provide an abundance of Social Events (like current ARGs but in game) and social locations to party/etc? (FaithLove)

Our hubs are social arenas where players can engage in non-combat activities. As for what, exactly, those ‘non-combat activities’ will be, we haven’t revealed yet, but we want to create a world that isn’t just about serving your secret society or slaying demons. We want to give players tools to do more than that, and we’ll probably talk more about this soon.

Q2: Will there be ‘mounts’, like horses, bikes, cars or dinosaurs? (Lorr)

We haven’t made any announcements yet – although dinosaur mounts would clearly be awesome. Anything is possible.

Q3: Can you make a Templar and Dragon and Illuminati character? (Shoval)

Your character can only belong to a single secret society – and switching societies isn’t possible. Whether you can create a new character in a different secret society on the same account or server is something we haven’t communicated yet.

Q4: Will it really be impossible to switch secret societies? (Annihilator27)

As above, your choice of secret society is for life. To even think of joining the enemy is treason.

Q5: When you make a game that’s very lore and story driven, it can be easy to fall into a linear structure, because you really want to be sure that the player knows the full story. How do you find a balance between telling a main story and at the same time, giving players the freedom to explore? (Kasama)

Players can jump in and out of the main storyline as they please. They don’t have to follow it. Exploration is both encouraged and, sometimes, required, since you may not yet be ready – or powerful enough – to continue on your journey. To uncover the entire story, every little piece of it, you really do have to explore the world and discover its secrets – that’s a key element to the game, and something we’ve created mechanics to support. In The Secret World, story IS gameplay.

Q6: In one of the first interviews, you mentioned that TSW would have extensive voice-overs, with at that time over 100 voice-actors. How is this coming along? Will the game have full voice-overs, or only the “main” quest lines like in Age of Conan? (Ardanwen)

All non-player characters will have full voice-overs, for all missions – not just the main story mission.

Q7: How will the character creator be like? (AlexanderFG)

It will be fun and flexible! I can’t really say more than that. Character creation is obviously very important, and we’ve tied some cool story elements to the process, making it part of your journey into the secret world.

Q8: Is there going to be any “battlegrounds” or arenas for PvP or is it all going to be open world? (Scooch)

We haven’t really talked about this yet, but what the hell: there will be arenas for PvP matches – in addition to the ongoing society battle for world domination.

Q9: The Secret World exists so far from the mundane world… how elaborate/visual will the magic in game be? How varied? (Azaris)

The Secret World isn’t very far from our everyday world at all; we just tend to look the other way. It’s the world down that dark alley, beyond the tall fence, through the door of the rundown house on the edge of town. It’s the world that we glimpse when we take a shortcut home one night and see shadows lurking off the beaten path.

It’s the world we see in the corner of our eye but are afraid to acknowledge because it would make us question everything we hold to be true. It’s the world behind the curtains, where puppet-masters pull strings, making governments, religions and corporations dance to their tunes. It’s our world, without the coat of white paint, and it’s right here, right now, if you only knew how to look.

There’s going to be tons of variety in terms of what kind of magic players can learn and how they can use it – both in terms of visuals and gameplay – and that also goes for the magic weapons players get to wield. But it’s still magic of our world, not a world of elves and dwarves and dragons (well, um, sort of), and it’ll feel as such.

There’s voodoo, illusionism, demonology – magics that belong in the darkest corners of Earth, not in some high fantasy world.

Q10: Would you say TSW is more of a story-driven MMO or an action-based MMO? (Ironfeet)

I’d say it’s a heavily story-driven MMORPG with tons of cool action! Obviously, the setting and the story are incredibly important to us. We’re putting a lot of work and attention into the universe, into the characters and the voice-overs and the lore, into all those game mechanics that are geared towards immersing the player in the storyline, making them feel part of something grand and ancient and secret, part of these age-old conspiracies and powerful secret societies. But you also spend a lot of your time fighting creatures of darkness – that’s what the story is about. It’s about the rising tide of evil, about these normal, average people being granted incredible powers, and about how they use those powers to battle darkness – in service of their cabals.


Categories: The Secret World

“Aaaaand We’re Back” or “Recovering From a Smoldering Laptop!”

May 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The laptop is most definitely fried and there is no way to salvage it. I am trying to save money for, uh, some stuff. (Marvelously vague, I know). So a new laptop is out of the question for now.

However, I can, in the meantime, continue posting from my work machine and home desktop when I find the time. If anyone feels like a donating a laptop in the meantime however… 😀

Categories: Bronte

“Laptop Woes” or “A New Dent in my Wallet”

May 16, 2010 Leave a comment

So my laptop is definitely cooked. It’s a Gateway machine that has served me well for over two years. The RAM is intact, the HDD is fine, even the motherboard is functional. However, the VGA chip on the motherboard is fried, and since this chip is physically integrated into the the motherboard, the only way to fix the laptop is ti replace the motherboard altogether.

Since this is a three-year old model, I can’t find a replacement motherboard anywhere, not even from the original manufacturer. So the only option I have at this point is to buy a new laptop. That will take a few days, so in the meantime, the frequency of posts here may… suffer a little.


Woe is me. Woe is my wallet.

Categories: Bronte

“Shanked Screenshots” or “Hints at the Story?”

May 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Betrayal. True love. Rage. These are the apparent themes in Klei Entertainment’s upcoming platformer Shank, that I am all too excited about. You can click on the gallery below to view the hi-res, I have also included their trailer that debuted a while back below the gallery. Enjoy!

Categories: Shank

“Crysis 2 Wallpapers” or “Maximum Screenshots” II

May 15, 2010 2 comments

EDIT: Older screenshots here. Newer screenshots here.

Two new screenshots were released over this weekend for the upcoming sequel to the 2007’s shooter that was simultaneously a contender for the “Ooooo Pretty” and “Mind-Numbingly Repetitive” categories. (I think it won on both counts).

Click for hi-res 1920x1080 image

But you get to tear stuff up on the streets of the Big Apple, you get to do it in style, and you get to do it sometime in 2015 because your current computer would have a coronary at the very thought of having to run Crysis 2. Good luck with that.

Click for hi-res 1920x1080 image

Some older wallpapers here.

Categories: Crysis 2

“Houston, We Have a Problem” or “R.I.P. Laptop”

May 14, 2010 1 comment

So my laptop fried again… Shop thinks its the motherboard, sorry fellas, looks like I am decommissioned for a few more days!

Categories: Bronte

“Splinter Cell: Your Ad Here” or “God I Hate Cisco”

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

When I first heard of ads being placed inside Splinter Cell: Conviction, I thought: “How bad could it be?” Well the following two screenshots should paint a fairly reasonable picture.

First, we have Cisco, that company that manages to wiggle its way into just about anything these days. If it sounds familiar, perhaps that is because it has been featured in some forced manner in literally every season of 24 I can recall (I should probably get that corroborated).

This ad placement wasn’t as much of a distraction as the next thing. Here I am, walking down the streets of Washington D.C. which has been *spoiler* recently crippled by massive EMP blasts. People are screaming everywhere, loved ones are lost, chaos has gripped the capitol, and what is the first thing you see? A giant Phillips store! *sigh*!

“Looking Up” or “A Matter of Perspective” – III

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I don’t consider myself a Blizzard fanboy (am I?) But I have to admit that their attention to detail is amazing. Running Utgarde Pinnacle, I continued my recent mission to always look up and see if there is anything new I missed before. In the room where you can awaken the four mini-bosses leading to Gortok Palehoof, the encounter right before Skadi the Ruthless, did you guys ever notice this boat hanging from the ceiling? I certainly didn’t!

Categories: World of Warcraft

“Free Portal” or “You Really Haven’t Played it Yet?”

May 13, 2010 Leave a comment

If you are in the lame minority who doesn’t laugh out loud at the mention of the cake being a lie, you might want to head on over to Steam, because Portal is being given for free.

Via Stephen Van Neil at Explicit|Gamer.

Categories: Portal

“Scary Boosted” or “Bronte, Small Guy”

May 13, 2010 1 comment

This is a humble shout-out to Scary Booster and his love post on yours truly.

He writes:

“He is not really a small time blogger like me, but even though he is more of a big dog, I really enjoy his writing. Now that he writes for a big time game site, I was worried he would stop posting on Are We New at This?, but it seems he is still writing just as hard there. I hope he keeps it up and look forward to more great writing.”

It is a humbling thought. I don’t consider myself a big-time blogger, I write because my love for writing and video games intersects. Sure I am an editor now over at Explicit|Gamer, but this blog will always be my baby. A forum that allows me to say whatever the hell I want, and when I want it. A place where journalistic neutrality doesn’t get in the way of honest criticism and much-needed venting. A place where I can write precisely the way I want to write, be it for one reader or one thousand. And no matter which other website I write for, you will always find me ranting here, this I promise!

At any rate, thanks Scary Booster, you’re too kind. I am really not that big of a deal!

Categories: Bronte