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“A $25 Million Dollar Mistake” or “Warlords of… Loading”

November 20, 2014 1 comment

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On November 13, 2014, Warloard of Draenor, the fifth expansion pack for the King-Of-The-Hill MMO launched to great anticipation, and then promptly proceeded to fall flat on it’s face. The servers were unstable, the quests were bugged, the mad rush to 100 by millions of players resulted in the great story metamorphose into rabid click-fests, and to top it all off, a DDoS by script-kiddies strained the server infrastructure even further. The servers were population-capped to deal with some of the stress, which resulted in up to 10-hour queues. I myself sat in a queue for 7 hours and 20 minutes. The fault is not entirely Blizzard’s. In fact, network technicians pulled all-nighters to stabilize the situation. But this is not WoW’s first rodeo, launch stress is not exactly unprecedented, and players flocking to starting zones is not news.

On November 19, 2014, Blizzard announced 5 free days of game for one of the most embarrassing expansion launches in the game’s history.

On November 20, 2014, Blizzard announced that subscriptions were at 10 million, a 2.6 million increase since their last reported number, much to the dismay of competitors’ 10-year quest to see the titan dethroned.

But let’s look at those numbers for a second. 10 million subscribers, at an average of $15 a month is $150 million. If 5/30 of those days in the month are free, that is a flat $25 million dollars. 5 days of game time may seem a small concession to some, but the company has lost $25 million dollars in a heartbeat to try and appease its re-surging customer base.

Bravo!

Categories: Bronte

Question of the Day: “Why We Play?” or “Am I the Only Idiot?”

October 8, 2012 1 comment

When you start a title, do you have an urge to finish it? I do. It doesn’t matter if halfway through the game I realize it is awful, and I am not even having fun. But I must finish it, obsessively, just to make sure I got to the end, and checked it off of my list. Am I crazy? Or do most of you do that as well?!

Categories: Bronte

“Reviews Galore” or “This is Turning Into a Second Job”

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

In this month, which is about to end, I have already reviewed Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Tiny Troopers and Torchlight 2 for Hooked Gamers. In October, I will also have reviews for Faster Than Light, ARMA II: Army of the Czech Republic, Realms of Ancient War and Of Orcs and Men.

One would think getting free review copies would be awesome, but once you settle into the routine of reviewing pretty much a game a week in a 1500-2000 word feature, you realize that it is an incredibly difficult, and often thankless job! Better get to it then!

Categories: Bronte

“10 Reasons to Buy Torchlight 2” or “What is this ‘Diablo’ You Speak of?”

September 28, 2012 3 comments

1. Four classes, 120 skills

But don’t be fooled by this. Each class had 30 skills, spread across 3 different trees. Each skill takes 15 points to max out. So even within a single class, you can have several builds that play radically different from one another. Now, multiply this by four classes. That is a lot of replay!

2. New Game+

New Game+ is not just your standard repetition of content, upgraded to match your level. You can also buy dungeon maps for gold, complete with their own set of variables, to mix things up. With a shared stash, you can keep exploring content to better equip your alts. Did I mention there are 44 dungeons to choose from?

3. Amazing graphics and sound

No review that I have seen so far, claims that the cartoony style of graphics detracts from the experience. That is because the graphics are amazing, sculpted with care and attention, and enhanced by Matt Uelmen’s riveting soundtrack.

4. Fishing and your Pet

Your pet fights by your side at all times. You don’t have to direct it, beyond setting its demeanor (aggressive, defensive, or passive). It is pretty smart about what to attack, and packs quite a punch. It automatically retreats when hurt, and does not die on you. The fish you catch can radically transform your pet into a wide variety of beasts, monsters and other colorful characters to expand your combat effectiveness. Depending on how much time you invest, you can catch fish that transforms your pet for short lengths of time, or permanently.

5. Surprises in every boss fight

Boss fights are crazy, intense affairs, and I have found myself being consistently surprised by their various abilities, fight mechanics and environmental hazards that stand in my way. Boss fights will make you think on the fly, making critical decisions in a split-second, and leave you breathless by the end of it. I guarantee, you will let out a “whew” at the end of quite a few of them.

6. Ton of loot

There is no way to express this in words. There is a nonsensical amount of loot. The deluge starts from your first swing, and never ends. You are literally showered with items, and you are constantly upgrading. It is akin to the proverbial carrot on a stick, but man I have never had so much fun chasing the carrot.

7. Enhancements: Charge Bar, Transmutor, Enchanter

There are several other elements that help enhance your game. A charge bar, uh, charges up when you are in combat, enhancing your statistics. It depletes when you are not in combat, subtly forcing you to constantly smack monsters around. A transmutor helps you craft new equipment from old items. The enchanter imbues your equipment with additional magical properties. A respec NPC restores your last three skill points. You have a personal stash. You have a shared stash for all of your characters. The list goes on and on.

8. Crunchy Combat

Combat is amazing. It is meaty and crunchy. Every blow, every shot, ever strike connects with a satisfying visual reaction and accompanying audio. You feel powerful, able to dish out devastating waves of destruction, obliterating everything in your path. Well almost everything. You will die, but that will help you learn. 🙂

9. Time spend on Not Wasting Yours

This a phrase from a review that I have been unable to find since, but its rings true. Torchlight 2 does not waste your time. The areas are huge, so you barely need to see the loading screen to begin with. When needed, loading times are practically non-existent. The character selection process is quick, intuitive and gets you in the game in 3 clicks. When you start a new character, you can get into combat, literally, within the first 10 seconds. In end game you can buy maps to get to dungeons instantly. This is a game that spends a lot of time ensuring it is not wasting yours.

10. It’s $20.

You really need an explanation for this? Go buy it!

Categories: Bronte, Torchlight 2

Thought of the Day: “Post Apocalyptic Readiness” or “Where Would You Hide?”

September 12, 2012 8 comments

Part of the reason I love post-apocalyptic fiction is because I find it fascinating to get the various takes on how civilization would go on if there was nuclear war, a zombie plague, a natural plague, or a synthetic virus that threatened to wipe out earth’s population. I don’t think I have ever seen a post-apocalyptic event play out where the protagonist was completely prepared for the end of the world. Mostly they are just shocked and trying to survive, or they wake up in a world gone to hell (28 Days Later, The Walking Dead comic).

So here is a thought, if such a catastrophic event were to take place today, what would you do? Where would you go? Who would you save? How would you survive?

 

Categories: Bronte

“DayZ: Day One” or “My First 3 Lives in DayZ”

July 11, 2012 2 comments

For me, the mark of a video game is when I slam my keyboard in disgust because my character died. Permanently. Only to come back to it an hour later, hungry for me. That is what DayZ does to you. It is an intoxicating love affair. It is terrifying, heart-pumping, and incredibly, frustratingly arduous. But it is currently the most fun I am having online.

The following details my first three lives in DayZ. Bear in mind that during these three lives, I didn’t know you could simply respawn instead of having to get yourself killed if you wanted to start over.

Life 1

I spawn at the beach. I had read some tutorials so I knew the most important thing in the first few seconds was to get a good bearing on my position in the 225 square kilometer world of DayZ. This information appears in the form of the nearest town in the bottom right corner of your screen for all of two seconds. Yet somehow, as I looked around the completely dark surroundings, I miss that critical piece of information. I know that by walking along the coastline, I will undoubtedly come across some settlement, and from there I can get my bearings. I turn left, and start running. Since you spawn along the coast only, you could be headed south (if you spawned on the eastern shore) or west, (if you spawned on the southern shore). What I did not know, because I had missed the location information initially, was that I was near Kamenka, a the south-western most settlement on the map. And by going left (further west), I would never come across any other towns.

I ran for fifteen minutes, and in the first few minutes, the terrain turned into a bare, barren wasteland. I switched to a daylight server, and ran some more. I ran inland, hoping to find another landmark. I ran further along the shore. Soon, however, I realized that my water and food need was growing rapidly, and turning an uglier and uglier shade of red. I alt-tabbed, and read up on what I was doing wrong, since it had been a good half hour since I had spawned. Some forums tell me that if I can’t find any settlements and all brush, trees, roads etc. have disappeared, then I have traveled off of the map.

Shit.

I run back to the shore then, and start making my way back. My thirst level reaches flashing red before I reach the play area, I start losing health every few seconds. By the time I reach Kamenka (I have been playing for close to an hour now), I have 2K health left, and no hope of finding water. I run into the first zombie I find, and I let him kill me.

I was upset initially, thinking I had fucked up. But the fact of the matter was that I had screwed up royally. I breathe deeply, and get into it again.

 

Life 2

I don’t miss my spawn location this time. It says “Komarova”, but I have no idea where this is exactly. I open an external map, and see that this spawn location is very close to my previous spawn location, just a little east. I take a look around. To my west, I see a lighthouse in the distance. To my east, I see some docks in the distance. I decide to go west first, and see if I can get anything from the lighthouse. I keep a lookout for any movement, knowing that zombies are found near all settlements. But I suppose a lighthouse isn’t exactly a settlement, as I find none in the area. I get to the lighthouse, look around it, go inside, climb to the top, but I see zero supplies. Cursing myself, I realize that the height is a good vantage points. So I look to my east, towards the docks. I can see a big industrial building. Surely that must have some supplies.

I descend the lighthouse and start running towards the docks, closer to where I spawned I suddenly come across another survivor. My heart get caught in my throat. What the fuck is he doing all the way out here? I ask myself. The survivor looks around, realizes that I am standing barely fifteen feet away and goes completely still. Then I get a local text message.

“Don’t shoot, friendly!”

“I have no gun,” I type out.

“Whew. Well take care!” He takes off directly north.

“Wait,” I say, running after him. “You want to team up?”

“No offense man, but my team is in the S.Barracks,” he says. “And trust me you don’t want to be there, I just got sniped up there.”

I watch him leave, as he clambers up the steep hill, and disappears over the ridge. I turn east, and get back to making my way to the docks. Closer to the docks I crouch run. Then I crouch walk, then finally as I approach the crumbling concrete wall, I go prone. Thank god I did, because on the other side of the wall is a zombie, a fat dock worker wearing a beret. He shuffles aimlessly a few feet in front of me, and slowly moves away.

I realize I had been holding my breath. I exhale slowly, and crawl over to the blue double-doors of the first building. It has a ramp circling the internal perimeter of the building. I hear a noise. In the dank gloom, I realize I am not alone. The other inhabitant of this building is another zombie, crouching low and making low growling noises. I slowly back off, and it starts to move. I cut a small circle around the inside of the building, and I realize that it detects me. I have 1 visibility and 1 audibility, implying that at such a close range (3-4 meters) it can detect there is something there must get closer to investigate.

And that is exactly what it is doing, getting closer.

We play this cat n’ mouse out into the courtyard, and I finally manage to lose him by crawling in a straight line for a while, then making a sharp 90 degree turn, and going a little further. With the zombie out of the building, I am free to explore it. So I get inside, and try to get up the stairs. No matter how hard I try, or which angle, I can’t seem to make it up the slope. So I have to at least crouch. Crouch-walking creates a sharp “clank-clank” on the floor that makes me wince with every step. I find flares, a can of beans, some wire, some scrap metal and several empty cans. I pick up everything but the empty cans. If I had known at the time that the empty cans could distract zombies, I would have picked up some.

I get out from the eastern entry, and crawl around to the next building. There is a door that serves as a ramp between the floor and the ledge that leads into the second warehouse. I crouch again and make my way up there, and in that same moment, the beret zombie comes shuffling around the northern corner of the building. I hit the deck, hoping it has not noticed me, but to no avail, it has changed direction and it walking towards me. In short, it has not seen me, but it knows something is there. I hastily crawl into the building and look around for an escape. There is a door on the other side. I crawl over to it, only to realize it has barb wire all over it.

I am trapped, shit!

I realize that the building has several ladders that go up to higher platforms. The zombie is at the entrance of the building. I crouch walk to get to the first ladder and climb up as quickly as possible. Once at the top, I go prone again, with the lower half of my body dangling off of the ramp…

… and then a very prominent glitch causes me to fall through the ramp. I land on the floor, there is the sound of a crunch, my interface flashes a broken bone icon, and an hourglass timer appears, indicating that I am unconscious. And that is when the zombie starts eating me. So much for life 2.

Life 3

This time the text says “Prigorodky”. Looking at the map, I realize I am someplace between the two largest urban centers in Chenarus, which also happen to be two major PvP hubs because of the plethora of supplies, equipment and weapons that spawn there. To my east is Elektrozavodsk (or Elektro for short), and to my west is Chernogorsk (or Cherno for short). My first instinct is to go to a city, and Elektro being the smaller of the two seems like a reasonable choice. But as I start making my way over to Elektro, I hear shots in the distance. There are small bursts, like a rifle, and then a few, sharp, cracking shots, like a high-caliber sniper rifle. I decide that I don’t have enough know-how in this game to just waltz into a major city, so I take a u-turn and head back towards Prigorodsky, along the main road.

Once I am right next to the main town, I crawl around, avoiding the first few zombies. I decide that one of the best ways to try and learn the game is to crawl through the middle of the town, avoiding zombies as I go searching the different houses for supplies. This is where I learn two very important lessons. First, avoiding zombies is actually very easy, as long as you understand how they function, and how sight and sound work as you move around at <insert speed> at <insert day time> on <insert surface>. Second, and perhaps more importantly, not all houses can be entered! Several houses are just static markers, useful for cover and just about nothing else. The first house I actually manage to enter has some ammo that I cannot understand, it has a long, complicated name. I also find some food, a can of soda and blue chemlights. On the porch of another house, I find camo clothing. I get super excited and immediately change into it.

I realize that there is a large barn in the distance, and I know barns have a high chance of spawning at least the starter weapons. I start making my way towards the barn, crawling ever so slowly through this suburban nightmare. During this long crawl, I realize that you can move faster by pressing shift (or by toggling it with a double-tap) in any mode, walk, crouch or prone. I finally get to the barn, and on the first landing I find a hatchet. Further up, I find wire, some empty cans and flares. From this vantage point I look across at the other ledge, and see a rifle. I am elated! Finally a weapon. The weapon turns out to be a Lee Enfield rifle, complte with two magazines (that’s 20 rounds total). I also find some more food, a bandage, and two cans of coke.

I decide I have enough gear to at least try and flirt with the outskirts of one of the major towns. I get out of the barn, head north into the treeline, and then head southwest. After a little distance, I realize I need to do a little more research on what to expect once I get into Cherno. I crouch by a tree next to the railway tracks, and alt-tab out. When I tab back in a few minutes later, I see a zombie, crawling in prone, moving determinedly toward me. I have no idea where it came from, but it is so close that if I go prone, I might not have enough time to get away and it could get a few swings in. If I run now, it will detect me. So I do the only thing that this split-second allows me, I aim my Lee Enfield at the little fucker’s head, and fire off a shot.

Worst. Idea. Ever. (see footnote)

I am still in close proximity to Prigorodky, and at least half a dozen zombies. I start firing shots. I get hit a few times. I start bleeding. I fire off more shots. They keep coming. I have only six shots left when the last zombie collapses to the floor. My heart is thundering in my chest, I have a dry throat. I am frightened. But I know i have survived my first real fight with the zombie horde.

The screen goes black and white as I take damage. My screen is clear so I turn around, and realize at least a dozen other zombies have been attracted to the gunfire from a settlement that is neither Prigorodky, nor Cherno. I manage to get three shots off before another melee swing results in a broken bone, and I lose consciousness. I die before I wake up.

Footnote: Firing off a Lee Enfield near a settlement is a terrible idea. The weapon has an effective audible range (for zombies) of 234 meters. Compare this to a sidearm’s average range of about 55 meters, or an M16’s or M4’s 80 meters. No wonder it attracted zombies from half a kilometer diameter!

Categories: Arma II, Bronte, DayZ

“Mists of Pandaria Beta” or “Jelly?”

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

“What is my Definition of an MMO” or “MMO Existentialism”

May 2, 2012 1 comment

I am an MMO player. I have been an avid MMO players for some time, going on nearly 10 years now. I love this genre of video gaming. There is just something very natural and recognizable about a world where unlikely heroes coalesce and cooperate to defeat the larger threat. A world that goes on when you have logged off and gone to sleep. A world which has it’s own heartbeat.

Lately though, I have struggled to try and define for myself what playing an MMO means to me. Is it that you get to play with more than 30 people? Is it that there is a deeper sense of community through guilds/corporations/forces? Is it the ability to meet random people from around the globe with similar interests in gaming? Or is it something deeper?

The MMO genre has grown almost exponentially in the last decade or so. As the genre expanded, it has also evolved and the qualifications for what makes an MMO has also morphed significantly over time. These days almost anything that features a substantially large number of players playing together is called an MMO. The browser-based MMO reared its head, and today MMOs like Battlestar Galactica are approaching 10 million subscribed users.

I think for me an MMO is all about the people playing it, it is about the community, and the connections and relationships you make along the way.

It is the difference between the dread you feeling logging into Team Fortress 2, not knowing what batch of colossal idiots you might be randomly paired with on your team, vs. logging into a group of dedicated individuals that you trust to have your back in that battleground or that dungeon.

It is the difference between 14-year olds getting high on superior reflexes and calling your mother a orge vs. people that genuinely care for your well-being both in-game and in real life.

It is the difference between RNG screwing you over vs. RNG’s attempts foiled by a well-coordinated team of individuals that strive together for a common objective.

It is the difference between knowing that you won the game for your idiot team vs. knowing that unless you had your friends and guildmates sweating and bleeding next to you, you would never have accomplished that particular objective.

For a casual gamer like me, an MMO is a community, a band of brothers from other mothers and sisters from other misters (I had to!). For me, an MMO is about being able to log in, have fun, play to your heart’s content and have a team that backs you up.

For me, MMOs are all about people.

Categories: Bronte, Guild

Se7en of my Greatest Vanilla WoW Memories, Part II: “Molten Core… For a Price” or “The Beginning of the Qiraji Conflict”

January 26, 2012 13 comments

Note 1: This is a shout out to the old-school. You know who you are. 😀

Note 2: Part I can be found here. It contains our adventures with Lucifron and Ragnaros in The Molten Core. And our run-ins with the World Bosses. This is a 3-part series.

Molten Core… For a Price

Around the time that the Ahn’Qiraj patch announced, we decided for a multitude of reasons to switch servers. Bloodhoof was severely over-populated, and Blizzard has just initiated free transfers to a new server: Eitrigg. The move itself was fairly drama-free, with over 95% of the guild deciding to move together. We were sick of the server, and this one bully guild that trolled the hell out of everyone on the server. I am not denying that they were the top-ranked guild, and well-organized. I am just saying you don’t have to be an absolute dick about it.

So we transferred, and with us transferred two other Alliance guilds that we had close working relationships with, Harbingers of Death (HoD) and MUSA. I had forged a stable and mutually beneficial partnership with the leaders of both guilds and we shared resources and participated in World Boss kills together on occasion. For example, if they got legendary pieces, we would let them borrow Elementium Ore on faith, and vice versa.

The Ahn’Qiraj patch was still a few weeks out, and that was problematic because we had started to get a little tired of farming Molten Core and Blackwing Lair. With interest quickly waning in the two raid instances, I got my team of officers together for some brainstorming about how to keep the raiding game alive long enough to go at Ahn’Qiraj with the proper numbers. That week, a member of HoD asked me if their alt could tag along in our Molten Core run. He had been away that week, and had missed their own guild’s Molten Core run. 60-70% of the drop were getting disenchanted in the Molten Core anyway, so after consulting with the officers, I decided to let him. This individual offered 1K gold if his item dropped in the Core. The item dropped, the 1K gold was split between the 28 or so people that were present for the raid, and that gave me an idea.

The following day I made a post on the server forums saying that our guild would be running Molten Core and Blackwing Lair to help gear up players and their alts for a price. All they would have to do was show up, and we would farm the gear for them for a certain price. I set up an auction system, where they had until an hour before the raid to bid on items that were not needed by the guild. I would consider all bids before 6 pm server time, make a list of all the individuals with top bids that we would need to take with us, and enter the Core promptly at 7 pm.

That first week, we made nearly 7K from the Molten Core alone, and 7K gold in vanilla WoW days was an incredible amount of in-game doubloons. This led to BWL farm raids as well, and before I knew it, the guild’s raiders crawled back out of their hiding places, and we had full 40-man teams clearing the Molten Core and Blackwing Lair on a weekly basis until Patch 1.9: The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj.

The Beginning of the Qiraji Conflict

*How I Met Your Mother impersonation*: Kids, in the winter of 2006, Patch 1.9 finally hit, and all manner of pissed off Qiraji warriors started pouring out of the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj and infecting Azeroth. This was a great event for many reasons, poor implementation and unforeseen server crashes notwithstanding. First, the guild was hungry for new content; little did they know that the content would kick their ass into oblivion, but hey, at last we had something new and interesting to do. Second, the opening of the gates was an epic event. There were cross-continent quests, feats that needed to be completed in large numbers, and an invasion of Silithus and adjoining areas by innumerable Qiraji and their allies for us to fight off.

The quest involved building the Scepter of the Sifting Sands, which in turn required tracking down the Red, Blue and Green shards (each with their own quest lines). This scepter was then used to bang a gong outside the gates, triggering a 10-hour event. And this was the easy part.

The tough part was gathering the war supplies. Both sides needed together a certain amount of materials and submit them to NPCs in order to be able to count towards the server total. When all materials would be submitted, which, on some servers could take several (real-time) months. The necessary supplies were as follows (pilfered from WoWWiki):

Both factions need to gather:

The Alliance needs to gather in the Military Ward of Ironforge:

The Horde needs to gather in The Valley of Spirits in Orgrimmar:

These signets would then be turned into NPCs on both sides. Once all supplies were complete, both factions would start sending troops to Silithus for the war, and over the course of five real-time days, you could see supplies dwindling in the two faction cities as the armies marches on Ahn’Qiraj.

Only then could you use the aforementioned scepter to bang the gong, crack the Scarab Wall, and open the Ahn’Qiraj gates. The person with the gong would get a legendary Qiraji mount, mostly one per faction. If you had a complete scepter, you could hit the gong again and get your own mount, but only within the 10-hour event window of hitting the gong for the first time. Given the pain involved in completing the scepter, this was mostly limited to one person per server. Now that is truly a legendary achievement, to be the proud owner of a mount that only one person on the entire server could obtain. On Eitrigg, this honor belonged to a Paladin from Harbingers of Death, though I can’t, for the life of me, recall his name anymore. I mean this was six years ago!

And then you could finally get into the 20-man (Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj) and the 40-man (Temple of Ahn’Qiraj) and test your skill against the best the Silithid had to offer. It was a colossal event, one that required not only the guild to come together, but also required coordination with the Horde side for completing the war effort quests. It was a test of our perseverance, our patience, and our resources. But we banded together, as we had against every challenge thrown at us since launch, and we went on to conquer both instances, all the way to that sonofabitch C’Thun!

Categories: Bronte, World of Warcraft

“How I Use My Keyboard in MMOs” or “Too Many Keys, Not Enough Fingers”

January 25, 2012 10 comments

Perhaps it is time to invest in the Razer Naga, because frankly, there are just too many keys to press as a hunter at WoW endgame, the only MMO I am playing with some level of consistency.

But maybe, in the interests of providing some context, I should explain how I use my keyboard.

The Rules

There are a few rules for me when I set up my keyboard to play any particular game.

  1. There should be as few keys as possible
  2. The keys should be in close proximity
  3. I should be able to press Alt to change the function of a key completely.

The Primary Keys

The traditional bar (which I don’t use), allows you 12 keys, ‘1’ all the way to ‘=’. This clearly violates rule # 2, so the most I will work with is six keys. Since the ‘`’ key is not used in the original game, this makes ‘`’ through ‘5’ usable.

I also use the ‘Q’ and ‘E’ keys, while ‘WASD’ are used for strafing and lateral movement.

‘F4’ through ‘F9’ are used for ‘Trap Launcher’ and the five subsequent traps respectively. ‘F5’ has ‘Freeze Trap’ on it. The logic is that in the heat of battle, I can hit ‘F4’ (easy to find), then ‘F5’ (next to it after a dip) without having to look at my keyboard.

‘X’ is used for autorun.

The built-in shortcuts for various WoW menus and interface panels remain largely untouched.

The Alt Key

I also use the Alt key to completely change another key. For example, pressing ‘E’ normally triggers ‘Rapid Fire’. Pressing alt changes ‘E’ to ‘Readiness’. It makes sense two me because these two abilities are used closest together in a raid environment. The same logic applies to several other keys. For example, ‘4’ fires ‘Chimera Shot’. Pressing alt changes this to ‘Serpent Sting’. So you press alt to cast ‘Serpent Sting’ once, and then release alt and over the course of the fight, press ‘4’ to cast ‘Chimera Shot’, which refreshes ‘Serpent Sting’. The following macro makes this work:

#showtooltip [nomod] Chimera Shot; [mod:alt] Serpent Sting
/targetenemy [noharm]
/petattack [@target,exists]
/petfollow [@target,noexists]
/use [nomod] Chimera Shot; [mod:alt] Serpent Sting;

The lines regarding the pet simply directs my pet to attack the target I am attacking. This is rolled into about every ability to ensure they assist me every time. I find the pet bar option to be unreliable.

The Mouse

Left, Right and Middle buttons are a given. I also have two side buttons on my mouse, so both of those buttons ‘B4’ and ‘B5’ also get used. Using the alt and ctrl keys transforms these two buttons into six buttons. For example, my “survival” abilities are ties to ‘Button 5’.

‘Button 5’ = Disengage (used most often)
Alt + ‘Button 5’ = Feign Death
Ctrl + ‘Button 5’ = Deterrance

Clique Mod

In addition to this, I also use Clique mod, and some of my abilities are directly programmed into it, for example, alt-clicking any portrait will cast ‘Mend Pet’ on my current pet. Middle clicking on any portrait will cast ‘Misdirect’ on that person.

Here is a screenshot of my keyboard set-up:

I hope the commentary above now makes sense with this.

The following are some of the problems that I think exist with this setup.

  1. The Clique mod is being used for only two abilities. I think I can intelligently ramp up this number and tie in some keys that can get em out of a pickle in the heat of battle.
  2. The Ctrl key is hard to reach, and only programmed into one of the “survival” groupings. I think I should get rid of this.
  3. The ‘Z’, ‘Shift’, ‘F’ and ‘8’ – ‘=’ keys are not being used. Thought it must be said that aside from ‘F’ most of these are hard to reach, given my set-up.
  4. The keys ‘F1’ – ‘F3’ are not being used. But I don’t know what to put in there.
  5. There are too many buttons. This may be really screwing me up in the grand scheme of things.
  6. Since I use the mouse buttons very extensively, I think I should get a Naga-esque mouse with more than just two extra buttons to play with.

Any suggestions for improvement?

Categories: Bronte, World of Warcraft

“Fried Desktop” or “Stupid Electrical Storms”

January 16, 2012 4 comments

An accurate portrayal of the last thing my desktop ever saw...

So an electric storm fried my PC. The laptop and the Xbox are still intact, and I am grateful. But this also means that 120 hours of work in Skyrim has effectively effervesced onto whatever the digital equivalent of heaven is.

I came up with a creative solution for backing up my save game data though. All games that I have at this point, I am redirecting their folders as shortcuts in my Dropbox (check it out if you don’t know what it is, its amazing!) This way even if one PC fries, the files are synced across all computers that I have Dropbox installed on, and on their website!

Unless anyone else has any clever ideas…

Also wanted to share this little gem of a conversation I had with someone in trade chat recently:

 

Categories: Bronte, Skyrim

“Assassin’s Creed: Comparisons” or “Sins of Video Game Predecessors”

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Ready for a rant? Here we go.

It happened with Gears of War 3. It recently happened with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

In of itself, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a great game. It certainly plays a lot better if you have the previous games at the back of your mind, the mechanics are easier to pick up, the button combinations are familiar and the complex story continues from where it left off. However, even if you never played another Assassin’s Creed game, Revelations is a fantastic title. It is well-designed, the graphics are top-notch, and iterations of the same formula implies that Ubisoft has improved the game over the last five odd years into a smooth, entertaining, unforgettable experience.

What irks me though, is that nearly every review of the game incessantly compares it to previous titles in the series, and complains about how there has been “too little improved”. The same reviews give the title fairly high scores and say how well it plays, but at the same time complain about how familiar it feels. What is wrong with feeling familiar I ask? Why is it that we as gamers, and critics alike, cannot see a game on its own merits, irrespective of previous iterations. Sure it must be difficult at times, especially if it is a continuous story arc (like Creed or Gears) as opposed to separate stories (like GTA), but if a game is good, why does it matter what its predecessor did or didn’t do right?

I don’t think that practice is fair. I don’t think tinting the review because of a previous title gives us an accurate idea of the merits of the title under review in an unbiased fashion. And I think we should collectively stop doing that. So say we all!

“Self-Vindication” or “I Guess I am a Good Judge of (Video Game) Character”

January 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Via Kotaku, Skyrim, Portal 2 and Bastion lead the nominations for the 2012 Game Developer Choice Awards.

These are the same three games I mentioned in a post not long ago!

Categories: Bronte

“Oddball Confessions” or “Decimating Dragons”

December 28, 2011 10 comments

"I'm too sexy for this shit!"

I am an odd gamer. Or at least I like to think that I am. I play a lot of video games, across just about ever genre. The only exception is fighting games and racing games (although Split/Second came a long way to change that). But unlike a rational human being who stops playing a game because of a certain reason, such as increasingly lack of interest, boring story, shoddy mechanics, or simply that something better came out, I have to finish a game I have started. It is a weird obsession.

All other factors notwithstanding, three things drive me in a game:

  1. The story
  2. The amount of fun I am having
  3. The fact that I can cross it off of my list when I finish it

Most of the time, a combination of 1 & 2 in varying degrees of success suffice, with 3 being the constant. However, a recent game has kind of ruined this simple three-point agenda for me.

Decimating Dragons (isn’t heroic)

I played The Elder Scrolls for 72 hours in less than two weeks. I couldn’t get enough of it. At the end of the 72 hours, I had barely touched the main quests, reached level 50, brought the thieves back into power in Riften and discovered dozens of random locations as murdered my way through the land. It took a well placed single shot from my legendary Daedra bow to bring an Elder Dragon crashing down to earth, and for me to realize that I was far more powerful than the game intended for me to be at this stage. And that, you see, is a serious problem.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want to finish Skyrim. I love the story, the setting, the graphics. I have installed close to 20 mods to tweak the look of the game to be as gorgeous as my monster of a machine can make it, and even in my over-powered state, I am enjoying the game. In essence, 1, 2 and 3 are all satisfied, but somehow I know this isn’t the way to play Skyrim. I am also dreadfully aware that having an overpowered character is why I stopped playing Fallout 3.

"Come to papa!"

I know that when I come across that Ancient Dragon, it is supposed to be a tough fight, like the second dragon I randomly encountered in the world. I know I am not supposed to clear out a high-level dungeon without a companion by simply sneaking and single-shotting everything from the shadows. At this stage in the game, I can lay waste to entire armies without ever breaking a sweat. I am the Wrath of Odin incarnate. I am Fire, Frost and Shadow personified. I am Alpha and Omega.

And I know there is no challenge left. And this, oddly, adds a fourth dimension to the game that I was not aware of: balance. In order to be the hero, you must be able to perform heroic feats in the world. Tearing a dragon asunder with a single Elven Arrow isn’t exactly very heroic, in fact, as it turns out, it is incredibly lame. I haven’t played Skyrim in five weeks now. I want to play it. There are so many quests in my log. There are so many locations I haven’t visited. There are so many people I haven’t helped. But I am just constantly put of by the fact that when I do get back in, all of it will be so incredibly easy, it wouldn’t make for a meaningful experience. Ever get to this stage?

Images courtesy of Dead End Thrills.

Categories: Bronte, The Elder Scrolls

“Losing Purpose” or “Let’s See if This Thing Still Works”

December 27, 2011 7 comments

I stopped blogging for two months. Not because I had nothing to say, but because I was increasingly aware of a pattern in my posts that I was just not comfortable with. Let’s see if you can agree with it:

  1. Most of the posts were too negative. I found myself bitching about a lot of things that really weren’t that bad to begin with. Constructive criticism and always questioning are good traits, sure, but I felt like I had taken it a little too far.
  2. More importantly, I realized that I was no longer blogging about the games that I was playing, but that I was playing games that I was blogging about. This is a critical point for me. Somewhere along the way, I stopped playing what I enjoy, and started playing what “everyone else was playing” just to be a part of the conversation. I feel that somewhere in all this, Are We New At This lost its identity.

So after months of deliberation, I realized this blog isn’t about how many hits it gets, or who reads it, or whether I am discussing the most “in” topic. This blog is about me, and my adventures in the wonderful, magical world of video games. And that is all it will be from now on.

First post with this mindset tomorrow, stay tuned.

Categories: Bronte

“MMO Existential Crisis” or “Dear God, Am I a Monster?”

October 12, 2011 9 comments

Syp thinks we are the real villains of MMOs.

We have no qualms against torturing, assassinating, stealing or even committing genocide if our superiors structure it as a “quest objective.”  We have no options for diplomacy and no recourse but to end all life in our wake.  We do all of this and move on without a second thought as to the carnage and emotional wreckage we leave behind.  We build our success on mountains of corpses and call ourselves “heroes.”

Syp, The blood of the innocent drips from my hands, Bio Break

Oh my god. I am a horrible, horrible person! Talk about mid-life MMO existential crisis!

Categories: Bronte

Spam Comment of the Day: “Your Site Open My Idea” or “You Can See… Many Video Guide”

September 26, 2011 3 comments

You Site Open My idea..
Master Your Mind Power!
Unleash The Power of Subconcious Mind to Achieve Success in Your Life.
You can see ..Many Video Guide

<link removed>

Watt

Categories: Bronte

“Any MMO Players in EU?” or “Time to Congregate and Coalesce”

September 24, 2011 3 comments

Are there any bloggers or others readers that play in on EU servers? What games? What servers? What characters?

Kindly let me know!

Categories: Bronte

“Starting Anew” or “A Case of False Guild Advertising”

September 23, 2011 9 comments

Starting Anew

As I have mentioned a few times, I have started playing World of Warcraft again, but this time, I am trying something new:

  1. I am playing on the EU servers. I had been playing on the US servers, despite moving halfway across the world, and the latency was barely manageable. I have a latency of about 100ms, which spikes occasionally to a maximum of 150ms. Very manageable.
  2. I am starting from scratch. I have a new account and as such no money, no resources, no BoA items.
  3. I am playing as Horde. I have never played as a Horde character before, save a Tauren Hunter that I got to level 20 on launch day back in November of 2004.

I am having a blast going back to the basics. But even as I marvel at the fluidity of quest design and quest-hub-hopping (that should be a term), I am painfully aware that soon I will hit level 60, and then I will have to bear through the endless field of perpetual depression that is Hellfire Peninsula.

I am already level 50, an Undead Frost Mage called Cladtyrant. Bronte was already taken, and I didn’t feel like naming myself Brôñtë, because that is just foolish. The amount of experience needed to get to level 50 seems to have been cut by three-quarters from the vanilla WoW days. I remember the time when getting to level 60 was a marathon endurance test of your mental capabilities, as your reservoirs of patience ran thin and you trudged along painfully to the end.

A Case of False Guild Advertising

In my teen levels I was approached by the guild master of the guild I am currently in. “Join us”, he said. “We are a social guild that believe in helping one another and working together toward common goals. We can help you level and provide you with necessary guidance.” Up until that point, I was leveling solo, and I was in uncharted territory (Horde), so I asked a few questions pertaining to requirements and rules/regulations, and finding everything quite “casual” in nature, I agreed to join.

At this point, that seems to have been a mistake. The guild was level 1 when I joined. It is now level 4, so its not like I am benefiting immensely from perks. Every time I have asked a question in guild chat, be it quest-related, a plea for help with a particular area, or just a random comment, I have been met with resounding silence. The irritating aspect is that whenever I see a question in guild chat, I respond 9even do my own research on WowHead if needed) to try and be helpful. Even then there is no response, no “thank you”, or “hey I didn’t think of that!”, or even an “OK.” There is just silence, and silence, in this case, is pretty far from golden.

The “grouping” phenomenon seems to have permeated every aspect of the guild and people only seem to talk to certain other people if they are part of their sub-culture. I feel like I am playing a single-player game with guildmates who could easily be mistaken for well-scripted NPCs with their own lives. They simply don’t acknowledge my existence. And that is not how a massively multiplayer game is supposed to function.

You know there is a problem with your guild if you have a more meaningful conversation with people you randomly group with in instances than your own guild mates.

I want to confront the guild leader, asking him (her?) if they feel the least bit remorseful for completely misleading me. More recently, raiding seems to be getting into the picture and the guild is putting resources together towards forming a dedicated 10-man. That is cool, and whoever has the time should certainly get to use it as they see fit. Except it seems the guild is increasingly branching away from a casual to a raiding guild. Hell, they are even completing guild challenges on a daily basis.

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Should I confront the guild leader? Or should I bide my time and see how things go?

“Deus Ex: Augmentations Guide” or “Professor Bronte in the Hizzouse!”

September 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Are you having trouble with augmentations?

Investing in that useless cone of vision keeping you up at night?

Do you wish someone had an awesome guide which could have warned you of what to invest in and what to skip?

Well then you’re in luck, because Professor Bronte now presents his detailed guide to hacking, now featured on Hooked Gamers!