Archive for August, 2009

My (Blogging) Hero

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S is for Supersexy Superhero
Image by karla_k via Flickr

Lately I’ve found myself at the bookstore on a regular basis, and with time to kill I’ve managed to devour a number of interesting and meaningful tomes, from Chelsea Handler‘s hilarious “My Horizontal Life” to Jim Butcher‘s Dresden Files novels. I haven’t really found very many geekery books out there that were worth mentioning, but there are a couple that are near and dear to my heart.

Blogging Heroes is a book that compiles interviews from 30 of the best known and successful bloggers of the Internet, from sites like Lifehacker, Engadget, Gizmodo, and more. It’s interesting not only to take a peek behind the keyboard for many of these internet celebs, but also to see how varying in response they are to certain things. Some like using Search Engine Optimization to drive their traffic, other eschew it for a philsophy of quality content. Some had a careful, laid out plan to become successful at blogging while others sort of just fell into it. Some of them are in it for the competition and some, just for the passion and fun of it all.

I can’t recommend this book enough, just because the somewhat dissonant voice of the various interviews typifies many of the bloggers I know, love to read, and help cross-promote. We all have different views and ideas, some of us generate tons of traffic while those like me struggle to clear 40 hits a day. From the many ideas the book gave me, I hope to get better at generating my own brand of sunny, happy content that people will hopefully like to read daily. I’m still, well, optimistic that optimism itself has a place on the Internet, even when it is so over the top you would think I’m on drugs. It’s part of the charm, after all.

Perhaps the best lesson I came away from the book learning about, that was one of the few consistent thoughts across interviews was that you have to have drive and passion for whatever you are writing about. If you lack this, if you’re just punching the clock and doing the job, you’re just going to have  a ton of trouble generating contenta nd attracting users. There are a couple other tricks of the trade, but that one point is one that I totally have to get behind. I wouldn’t be able to generate 1-3 articles a day without passion.

Anyway, this is definitely worth a read, and hope other bloggers can take cues from what these folks have to say.

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SWTOR And The Evolution of Bioware’s RPG

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PhotonQ-Homer' s Evolution Theory
Image by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via Flickr

Over at Darth Hater there’s a curious little article about the debate between Bioware‘s fans about whether or not Star Wars: The Old Republic would have been better as a single-player RPG. Most of the argument comes from Knights of the Old Republic fans, a bit miffed that, well, “massive” resources are being put into an MMO effort like SWTOR when another KOTOR would be a much more safe and solid bet.

Now, I get why these people might have a bit of trepidation. Maybe they’ve heard of the horror stories of MMOs, where anonymity creates the worst out of even the most normal of people. Perhaps they’ve been happily soloing along in an MMO themselves, living out their RPG fantasies, only to be brutally cut down by another player who wouldn’t know the first thing about role-playing unless it was “random asshole”. Or maybe they’re just mad that their caffeine/microwave dinner/pornography fund will be somewhat diminished by the subscription fee that Bioware plans on charging. I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that these poor folks are probably more scared than a kid with an inner tube in the deep end of the pool.

Well, to be honest, the water is just fine here. In many respects, MMOs are the natural evolution of RPG games in general. I mean, RPGs video games were the first to come along, you know. Before that was the pen and paper “I cast magic missile at the darkness” RPG, after all. Single player RPGs evolved from that notion that you were playing a role, playing a hero, and needed to fulfill it in some manner. MMOs take that a step further by creating a shared world with shared experiences for multiple players. Yeah, there are some real bastards out there, and it’s not always going to be a fun experience every night, but really, KOTOR fans, how is that any different than the real world, where a random asshole can take the form of someone who cut you off while talking on their cellphone, or an angry client or customer who has no volume control? It really isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong – I like playing single player RPGs, but when the game is beaten, finished, and over, it’s pretty much done. Sure, there’s replay value, but the surprises are gone. In an MMO, the addition of other players, and things like Bioware’s choice system are things that contribute to a more dynamic, living experience. As long as you are selective about the company you keep experiencing the content in an MMO, it makes for an enjoyable experience. It’s nice to be able to kill a boss dragon by yourself, but what if you could do it as a team, working with others, and reaping the spoils? There’s a reason why WoW and EQ have blazed trails with raids – because people want to share RPG glory with other people.

Really, with Bioware’s track record of successful single-player RPGs, it was inevitable that they would try their hand at an MMO, taking what they’ve done on a significant, smaller scale and multiplying that into an experience they will not only have to create for potentially millions but also maintain. WIll they be successful? Time will tell – but I’d encourage anyone afraid to put their toe in the water to relax – it’s just as warm in the deep end of the pool.

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The Wonderful, Crazy Internet in a Nutshell

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Wordle Cloud of the Internet Marketing Blog - ...
Image by DavidErickson via Flickr

So Ardua over at Echoes of Nonsense tweeted over a link to me in response to me having to do a sort of show-and-tell presentation for folks. Clearly, the internet is full of interesting, amazing, and screwed up things, but I didn’t really expect them to be compiled into a partial list.

If you haven’t seen any of these sites/videos/memes, you definitely need to check them out, just to get all caught up. Of course, it’s pretty sad that I’ve probably seen most of the 99 things on this list, but then, that’s what geeks do when they’re idle.

http://www.youshouldhaveseenthis.com/

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Case of the Mondays Cure – Baby Back Grills, Robots, and Tricia Helfer

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Sad Old Woman
Image by Hamed Saber via Flickr

Another week, another downer of a Monday. But not to worry – we’ve got happy things in store for everyone as usual:

Sears Reverses Grill Listing Modification, Only Cannibals Depressed (via Digg, through The Register): With a grill, you can pretty cook any type of meat, right? Well, someone visiting the Sears.com website took it just a little bit further than that by modifying a listing to say one of the grills was good for cooking humans, babies in particular. Sears has since fixed the listing, leading to another great lesson in proper website security.

One Step Closer to A Future Ruled by Machines With Chungbot (via MSN): Seems that every day we’re seeing more and more advancements in robotic technology, assuring us that we all get a chance to play John Connor in the future. The latest appears to be a robot controlled remotely by a doctor who uses the built in cameras and speakers to observe and make recommendations to patients from miles away. Now waiting for the inevitable turn against its human masters.

Tricia Helfer to voice Zerg Queen Kerrigan in Starcraft II (via Destructoid): Those of you who are still probably drying your eyes over the loss of Starcraft character and overall evil queen Kerrigan can proceed to be consoled. Tricia Helfer, best known for roles in Battlestar Galactica and Burn Notice, is bringing her unique talents to bear on the upcoming Blizzard title. Oh, and she’s providing her voice, too.

(NSFW) You Know Your Twilight Merchandise Has Leveled Up When…(via Facebook, through The Onion): This is terribly not safe for work, but I couldn’t resist linking it anyway. I won’t ruin the wonderful surprise for those of you who can actually follow the link, but I do have to admit – when you can sell one of these, you’ve got a hit on your hands. Just the fact that it got past the pitch and the copyright holders is enough for me. There’s hope for vampire lovers everywhere.

That would be that folks. Now get your asses into that Monday happier, healthier, and hopefully not disturbed.

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Championing The MMO

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Stairs! Online!
Image by randomdialogue via Flickr

So this weekend with the advent of opening beta to all Fileplanet members, I finally got a chance to download the client and try out a bit of Champions Online, the other major title coming out in September in the MMO-verse. Regardless of whether or not you want it to, the perspective of the blogosphere certainly can color any kind of pre-conceived notion of how the game is actually going to be. I do have to admit, my normally positive outlook on things was a bit dampened by the lashing that Champions received this past week online. Overall though – the game isn’t as bad as people are making it out to be.

The first thing anyone will notice before getting to the character screen is definitely the distinct, comic book art style. It’s stylized in a way to make it look like you’re actually coming off of the page in a typical comic book, with inked lines and cartoonish effects ruling the roost. I like this – seeing it in screenshots doesn’t do it justice, especially combined with the animations. Champions has a distinctive style that separates it even from its predecessor, City of Heroes. A unique look is important to establishing yourself from the rest of the pack, and Champions does that fairly well.

Like many people have said, character creation is by far the strongest element of the product, but that’s to be expected from Cryptic, right? You might recognize some of the names and displays of certain pieces from City of Heroes, but the character customizer has a myriad more options. Aside from the cosmetics, the ability to create a custom template of powers based upon the general pool, rather than choose one power pool or the other, is great and really allows you to tailor your character. For example, I took Gunslinging for the munitions elements but then Telepathy for the healing and support attributes. With the two power sets having overlapping stats, this worked out pretty well and my trench-coated, gun-wielding psychic was in the game in no time.

The stability and lag problems others were reporting were simply not in the cards for me. Over the course of my weekend play, from 1 – 15, I didn’t crash or lag significantly at all. Now, I know my experience is not typical of everyone’s, but I do know that if there is lag or stability problems that it will probably be their highest priority to fix them. Nothing kills a game launch more than an issue where you are lagging or crashing out. But yes, I was pleasantly surprised with the distinct lack of instability as I played through the game, ending up going through the first two tutorial zones and eventually ending up in the game world itself. Champions has a highly instanced system for zones, and I saw as many as 20 – 25 copies up at a time. I can’t say I’m opposed to this – while it segments the community a little bit, if it stabalizes the game and creates a good, flowing experience, I’m good with it.

If I had to typify the elements of the gameplay and its features, I’d have to definitely get behind the camp that this is City of Heroes 2.0. If you’re at all familiar with the CoX series, there are certainly elements of that that aren’t quite the best – for example, not getting your travel power til a third of the way through the leveling curve, doing what essentially boils down to the same quests over and over, and lack of gear. Champions does things quite differently, awarding you your travel power as early as getting into the second tutorial zone, creating some variable (yet traditional) questing elements, and introducing some element of variability with gear that provides certain incremental bonuses to your character. While this is normal fare for many fantasy MMO players (and therefore a good move for familiarity’s sake), for veterans of the CoX series like me it is a breath of fresh air and it does display that Cryptic has learned something from their previous work.

Lastly, the game’s combat and controls is where some people have found a bit of frustration. To be honest, even playing on a keyboard, it’s a matter of changing the way you think about playing a typical MMO. While there are three different keybinding styles which you can choose from to help ease this transition, some learning still needs to be done. For example, many MMO players tend to stand still more often than not when fighitng. In Champions, especially as a ranged character, moving around and attacking at the same time is essential to survival. Holding down buttons in order to do channeled or maintained attacks while still circling and moving with your target is something that takes a bit of getting used to. Blocking is also a science that needs to be mastered. Some people may eschew blocking and simply brute force their way through encounters, but trust me, knowing when to put up your fists (or whatever) and blocking will save you in the game’s more challenging missions. All in all, this is not so much of a “l2p” but more of an expansion of your own horizons when controlling toons in Champions. I personally found it pretty interesting and satisfying to roll back, guns blazing, unleash a  psychic attack to generate more energy, quickly use my flight power to zip past my boss opponent, and drop to the ground, firing the entire time. Combat therefore is expected to be more engaging than pressing several buttons in sequence, which will be appealing to many players, for sure.

Like Aion, there are many expected elements in Champions, and while there’s some innovation, it essentially takes the safe and expected route most of the time in terms of design. However, there are things that make it a worthy spiritual successor to and competitor with City of Heroes. While it has its work cut out for it in catching up to a game that has years of development and bugfixing under its belt, it’s got legs as a viable entry in the superhero MMO genre, and will probably meet the rather realistic bar set by its developers (100,000, by their estimates). If you like your comic books, you’ll probably like playing Champions.

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My MMO Peeps

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Double-Oh Peep
Image by turbojoe (away) via Flickr

Lately it sure seems like there is a generous dose of haterade going around about just about any of the MMO titles that are out, about to come out, or will be coming out in the future. Upset from everything from gameplay, graphics, stability, and more, we’ve just got so much angst flying around lately. Did someone put something int he water, or in any decent geek’s case, their daily dose of caffeine? It’s just a sea of disgust out there, folks – bring a paddle.

I’d like to bring my usual dose of happy sunshine into these dark thoughts about MMOs these days, as well as a little perspective. You see, I think that as much as people may complain, whine, and generally rant about the flaws in MMOs, they aren’t really the key thing that keep people playing. I say this mostly because of the Murphy’s Law-like truism that all MMOs have issues. All MMOs have bugs. All MMOs have, at one point or another, crippling stability problems, frustrating class balance that makes you want to rip your hair out, and developer posts that seem to make no sense. In that respect, even though my previous post about Champions and a “6 month time period” for fixes was summarily disagreed with, I still hold to it, if not for the very realistic, modified saying that “shit happens, and in an MMO, it takes a while to get the smell out”.

No, I think the real reason, for good or for ill, that makes a definitive decision about MMO play is people. If you have people to play with, who will stick with you, who understand misery loves company, and who will be your friends (or in some cases, your PvP enemies), it’s a definite factor in whether or not you put up with MMO flaws. There’s a certain argument that could be made for the perception of people populating or moving to an MMO contributing to whether or not the MMO is worth trying or dealing with. This is especially magnified by the idea of whole guilds or groups of guilds moving to a game – if there are people, and they have friends, and those friends have friends, their presence is a snowball effect that works positively or negatively in MMO’s favor.

Anyone familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test will know that as a typical ENFJ, I’m a heavy people person. I think I may have stronger than usual feelings about this with MMOs because people are a big driver for my own personal enjoyment of things, whether that is to empower them to feel good about something or whether we lean on each other for support. I’m a strict believer in the logical argument that without playing with people, it’s hard to really see a point to playing an MMO. If I don’t have people to play with, if I’m by myself constantly, or if those who play with me get discouraged and leave, it’s a crushing blow to my own enjoyment, and more often than not, has spelled the end of many an MMO I’ve played. By contrast, I remember putting up with constant server crashes, 4 hour downtimes, crippling lag, and dying more times than Kenny from South Park when I had people around me to laugh with about it or at least listen to the rants and raves.

So folks, don’t waste your time worrying too much about whether the game crashes for you every so often, or if your class is busted, or if the UI looks like a monkey coded it. It isn’t worth losing sleep over. Worry a bit when your running crew leaves, and when an MMO stops being “Massive”, or “Multiplayer”. It honestly doesn’t leave much left in the remaining 4 letters of the acronym.

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Meat And Potatoes Are Served – The SWTOR Gameplay Demo

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vlcsnap-2009-08-21-17h31m56s29So Bioware has finally decided that it’s time to stop teasing SWTOR fans by only showing a little ankle under the skirt of their game, and has moved on to giving us a little leg to stare at for a while. Today’s SWTOR Gameplay Demo weighs in at a hefty 20 minutes. You can grab the vids over at this link on IGN to see for yourself – they had to divide it into 4 parts, each covering a specific class.

Before I get into a bit of a breakdown, I do want to say that this is definitely a great thing that Bioware did in terms of presentation. There’s narration, and there’s the usual marketing sell, but what it is accompanied by is actual gameplay footage. This is a calculated risk for Bioware, considering that fans may take a look at the graphical presentation of the game, or its play, and decide not to bother with it for one reason or another. But at the same time, it shows that Bioware is A)confident about its product to show it in this state and B)giving the players what they want. A three to five minute walkthrough would have been nice – to see twenty minutes of it is a blessing that exceeds expectations. It’s also worthy to note, as you watch, that the gameplay, aside from shifting from topic to topic, is compeltely uncut and continuous. That means that whether it has flaws or not, Bioware wants to honestly show off the current state of their game, and thinks that you’ll want to play it despite them. It’s something you don’t see in the buildup for MMOs these days.

So I’ll be sticking to a bit more of a summarization and the high points of the walkthrough. To be perfectly honest, as pleased as I am with the demo, there’s no way I can give it justice by doing a granular breakdown – that’s what the walkthrough is for, after all – and you can and should watch it. So I’ll keep it simple.

vlcsnap-2009-08-21-17h27m59s218

Part 1 – Part 2 – The Bounty Hunter

What we see:
Our first look at the basic UI, the first conversation we have regarding a mission to join “The Great Hunt” to find the best Bounty Hunter in the galaxy, some character choices, and long range/short range combat with the class.

Impressions:
It’s clear that the conversational style mimics Knights of the Old Republic/Mass Effect. It’s good to see Hutta, although we don’t see enough of it to really get a good impression of this being the home planet of everyone’s favorite carbonite collector, Jabba. What is nice, however, is a look at the Bounty Hunter’s versatility, a supposed hallmark of the class, looking at the traditional blaster weapons, a stun dart, and a nice little bunch of flame for close range combat. Boba Fett fans won’t be disappointed. It’s also good to have Bioware state that they fall into the camp of making the player independent despite it being an MMO – that heroic battles with multiple enemies are the norm and that death from adds is not going to happen too easily.

vlcsnap-2009-08-21-17h53m07s212Part 2 – The Smuggler

What we see:
A tricksy class with a bunch of interesting mechanics at his disposal. The Smuggler’s cover system explained in some detail, an ability called Barrage that fires off a volley of blaster shots, and of course, a well-placed kick for close combat.

Impressions:
Having a cover system for an MMO is going to be interesting. For PvE, it actually is a nice little boon for a Smuggler – being able to utilize the environment in the manner that was shown in the video was great. Obvious cues for taking cover with big green icons, as well as a change in abilities are going to be great for getting players used to this new mechanic, and having a statistical bonus against enemies isn’t bad either. We’ll see, if there is PvP in TOR, how the cover system works in that respect, but if there was any class that could serve as the most common class to be played besides any Republic Force-wielding class, this is it. There is a channeling of Han Solo‘s swashbuckling tactics here – and it shows.

vlcsnap-2009-08-21-18h00m46s201Part 2  - Korriban and the Sith Warrior

What we see:
An environmental walkthough of the home planet of the Sith, as well as some of the Sith Warriors deadly melee skills. We also get a look at some of the organic creatures you’ll be facing off with in the game, and how NPCs may react in battle to your movements.

Impressions:
Ah, a lightsaber-wielding class. The most crucial thing that Bioware needs to get right with all of these classes is, more than anything, the animation. Combat in the Star Wars universe with its most iconic weapon is meant to be elegant and flowing, yet deadly and precise. From the few shots seen here, that is exactly what Bioware did. You can see the swings of the lightsaber for the different abilities flow into each other, as well as a logical conclusion to battles – the Sith Warrior’s buildup of points to unleash finishing moves like the spinning Impale is easy to track. Of interest is also the opening move, the Force Charge. This isn’t like a running move like expected, but an actual Force-powered jump and two handed slash onto an enemy. That’s not bad. There’s also an interesting side note – enemies take cover, which means the system used by the Smuggler is also used by NPCs. That will provide a different challenge, even for players wielding the Force like the Sith.
Overall, a nice and expected, reveal for the newest class in SWTOR.

vlcsnap-2009-08-21-18h15m38s157Part 3 – Part 4 – Flashpoint – A captain, a Star Destroyer, and one heck of a Jedi party:

What we see:
The oft-explained demo that has been shown from E3 regarding the quest with multiple choices for an imperial star destroyer captain and a Republic boarding. The choice to be made is highlighted and the consequences are shown in detail from a gameplay and narrative standpoint.

Impressions:
Now this is something those who have been following the game probably have become familiar with. But this is the first time we’ve seen it actually working out in actual gameplay. As some of you may know, killing the captain leads to a harder fight, but the narrative explains that the rewards could be better for doing it on “hard more”. Multiplayer dialogue may affect this greatly, but the random choice of the player making the decisions is definitely something that will need to be dealt with the avoid griefing. We also saw some additional abilities – the Force choke for example – as well as a lightsaber-to-lightsaber fight, which I especially enjoyed for the back and forth between the player and the enemy. It’s interesting to note the teamwork with multiple enemies as well, with the Bounty Hunter providing some firepower and the Sith Warrior rolling over enemies from melee range. And of course, looking at the loot, which included a second lightsaber for the victorious players, can’t have been a bad thing.

To be honest, overall I felt above average about the demo. It’s not everything, and it omitted the Trooper class, but for 20 minutes, it was well spent. The reveals and various details are going to set off a whole new slew of speculation – and I know that this won’t be the last time I post about the gameplay demo, either. Again – the real heartening thing is to see uncut, continuous gameplay, with no qualms about hiding some of the elements that are going to make the game possibly one of the best releases. If Bioware is cautious enough to polish and release the details as they have here, in huge, detailed chunks, then the future of the game is bright indeed.


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Geek Coverage Post-Mortem

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dead xbox
Image by Jaysun via Flickr

So with most of us geeks getting more dependent on our digital tools, toys, and other endeavors, it seems to me that should the unthinkable happen, our loved ones, especially the non-geeky ones, would be terribly unprepared to deal with the legacy of our tech. Being perma-dead with no hope of respawn is an inevitable happening in all of our lives, but certainly, with the amount of online presence geeks create, there’s more cleaning to be done besides just through our closets.

Time magazine has an interesting article about managing online stuff when you’re dead. Sure, we wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about the fact that our Facebook or Twitter status isn’t updated to say “[Your Name] has died.”, but what about your mourning loved ones? Certainly, if you know anyone that is digitally inclined they might be able to do some things, but what about the thought of your non-geeky, depressed parents trying to figure out how your Flickr account works? That’s not something you want to burden them with, right? Being dead is bad enough.

Apparently, certain sites have taken to at least keeping accounts active. According to the article, Facebook will keep accounts open, and so will Flickr, mostly for the ability for friends to leave memorials. Yahoo mail will retain most mail accounts, and blog sites like Livejournal will leave posts up for posterity.

Surprisingly enough, you won’t have to worry so much that your loved ones will find out about your sordid past as, say, a professional fur-suit wearer either. Most privacy policies for these services last beyond the life of the user who signs them, and while requests can be made, companies are quick to shield its users, even in death, from being unduly exposed to having their most intimate details released.

There are even services cropping up in anticipation of your sudden and unfortunate demise. Companies like Legacy Locker and Deathswitch can keep digital passwords and authentication data in the event of your loss of life, along with instructions to selected loved ones on what to do. It’ll even keep track of you being alive by sending you periodic emails to you for a response – and if none is sent in an extended time period, your instructions will be sent automatically and electronically to those you choose. That’s advancement for you.

Sure, death is such a morbid topic that you wouldn’t expect to be brought up on a blog like this one. Still, it’s worth bringing up because of the heartening fact that post-mortem services are keeping up with the digital age. At least if you do go, the internet has got your back, even in the afterlife. That’s definitely cool.

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A Champion’s Taking A Beating – CO Compilations by Syp

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Champions Online
Image via Wikipedia

Ah, the wonderful world of MMOs, where these days folks are more fickle than fair weather sports fans and first impressions are more than important – they’re everything.

Such it is with Champions Online, which, looking at a compilation by Syp of Bio Break, many people seem to dislike at the moment due to the current crop of problems. Reported issues include bland gameplay, stability issues, and overally bugs. To many, this might seem like a gamebreaker for people looking to try new MMOs in September, with alternatives like Aion and Fallen Earth waiting in the wings.

Honestly, though, the outcry of the blogging community, and certainly fans of Champions, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For one, it shows that everyone’s just a bit more cautious and guarded than they were about a year or so ago. The MMO community’s always been, well, shall we say, critical and passionate about the games they play, but it wasn’t until Vanguard, commonly thought of to be released prematurely, that players began to be clearly less tolerant of bugs and issues. You might think that Cryptic must be wincing at all the negative feedback they’re getting, and they probably are – but they’re also crystal clear on the game’s core issues prior to its September 1st launch. If anything, it’s a way to set priorities and make sure that as much as possible is cleaned up for a better superhero experience.

There’s also a certain sense of c’est la vie I have about Champions’ current problems as well. What’s that? There’s lag? Oh, there’s an issue with gameplay? Sounds like just about every single other MMO that has released, well, ever. A lot of people point to Aion as an example of “how to do it right”, but the comparison is almost unfair due to the fact that Aion has had over a year to work out bugs and issues in the more lenient Asian market. Even though these are the circumstances in which Champions has to deal with in order to work out well, it isn’t like they are things that are unheard of with MMO releases. Even WoW, arguably the king of game releases, had a terribly rocky launch.

To be honest, the real determination of MMO success or survival these days isn’t necessarily a launch. A launch that is buggy can be recovered from – it might not land you the most immediate subscriptions, but you will be able to focus your priorities and get yourself back on your feet in a respectable way. The real, core thing that will retain subscribers is how the company responds to and patches the game about 6 months after its release. By then, the usual “paid for beta” things that you discover at release have been addressed (or not), people have an idea of where the game is going, and the way that the developer responds the community will have been tested. If any one of these things are still a bit wonky, then maybe you’ve got cause for concern. But many MMO players, for all their bluster about “epic fails” and “rage quitting”, are more willing to stick out a game’s problems than you might think – especially with respect to a specific audience like the kind that plays superhero MMOs.

So yes, Champions Online is hurting a bit – but it’s far from permanently crippled. Syp’s compiled another list of folks who actually like Champions, and there are probably many more people who, like me, understand the inevitable problems with MMO launches and are willing to put up with it. While Champions probably has their work cut out for them, it’s still in its infancy. Time, like everything, will tell.

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Overly Positive Thoughts – The Average Gamer

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The plague of anorexia must be overcome
Image via Wikipedia

So today is another day in the scientific quest to figure out geeks and gamers, and a study coming from the CDC, Emory University, and Andrews University throws in their two cents by coming to the conclusion that the average gamer is 35, overweight, and depressed. The survey was compiled using a random sample of 552 individuals in the Seattle/Tacoma area.

Now, you’d think that this would be a negative for the gamer community, but like always, Overly Positive is here to tell you that there is indeed a silver lining within the rolls of fat that apparently typify the “average” gamer. I mean, obviously, the first is a conclusion you might not have come to when reading this article or study, and that’s the fact that apparently, gamers have fat people in their fold just like anyone else. Gamers aren’t crazy people behind computers and joysticks who karate kick our classmates like in Mortal Kombat and cite Grand Theft Auto as inspiration for stealing cars. No sir, we too have the same sort of normal, overweight, antisocial, and perhaps even depressed folk that a group of politicians might have, or maybe musicians (I’m looking at you in your grave, Elvis), or even, like the picture might depict, motorcycle riders. They say America is generally overweight? Well we gamers are more than happy to contribute to the overall stereotype. We’re nothing but team players, after all – that’s what 20 hours a day of Call of Duty inspires.

What about the obviously awesome fact that because gamers spend all their time in front of screen and never, ever go outside that they aren’t cluttering up the outside world with their massive bulk? You know, pixellated avatars take up significantly less space than on a plane that requires gamers to have two seats or a restaurant that dreads a fatty gamer at the all-you-can-eat buffet. The average person from the obviously broad 500+ person sample is too busy wrecking faces on the internet and bragging about it with prolific “pwned like ur mom” posts. They don’t have any desire to go fatty dance it up in your clubs, in your bars, or in your wine-tasting parties. High class events? Psh – hero class is so much better. Normal people don’t try to screw up a good MMO raid with their lack of keyboard binding ability, and average gamers don’t try to awkwardly hit on someone who is 3 times less their weight. Everyone wins.

But last but not least, take note of what this study says about gamers who aren’t on average bigger than a blimp, in their 30′s, and feeling like they want to punch themselves in the face daily. It may seem ultra-obvious guys and gals, but to those gamers who are rocking their teens and 20′s, weigh on average less than a wet noodle, and are always hopped-up-happy on energy drinks, you’re  above average.  You’re above the curve, overachievers, as good as a sword-swinging ninja on the highest difficulty. You’re the cream of the crop of the gamer world – hell, it might even get you laid once in a  millennium, right? All you gotta do, is walk up to that special someone and say “hey baby – want to dance with someone who’s above average in Guitar Hero? Science says so.” Guaranteed success.

So sure, you might think that the study is totally false, that Seattle might not be the most representative area or that 500 people are hardly the gaming nation of millions. But c’mon – let’s use the science as long as it’s there, right?

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