The gaming at my house hasn’t been all that great at my house in the last month or so — we’ve been a little pressed with home repair, dealing with insurance, firing our insurance agent and starting the hunt for another insurance agent, and oh, researching a good breeder to buy a dog.
But the last week, we decided we’d get a new game. Or rather, I decided that the husband and I were getting a new game, because it was on sale on Steam; $40 bucks got us both the game, and all the DLC available for Borderlands. It was a clumsy game, but honestly, the weekend of the fourth of July was the happiest we’d been in weeks.
It’d been hard to face facts, but now we broke down and handled things. I ordered a new — bigger and better! — laptop from Dell. We are making a game plan on how to replace the electronics and in what order of priority. (Camera, PS3, Wii, games, etc.) As well as what we’re not replacing, and instead putting the money ito a Puppy Fund. Tabletop gaming is getting back to normal as well — we’d not exactly been shining there, either as hosts or as players — and so life seems to be returning to it’s pre-burglary state slowly.
But then Blizzard came and crapped on my pancakes.
RealID. It’s a bad idea. 4chan, bless it’s soul, easily illustrated why it’s a bad idea– especially for women who game. The general idea is to strip away the veil of anonymity, face John Gabriel’s Internet Fuckwad Theory head on and strip away the anonymity that trolls use to protect themselves.
Only we know that’s not the case. Trolls are going to be trolls no matter what light you shine under their bridge. What they are opening us up to is new levels of harassment, especially for women, transsexual and other ‘unprotected’ classes of people… and even the average dominant white male who didn’t’ know the douche bag who he denied entrance to his guild was mentally unstable enough to hit Spokeo and see what info they could dig up to hurt someone with later. People do crazy things. Gamers, sadly, attract more then their fair share of people who cannot cope with reality and use games to escape it. It’s simply a fact of the fandom, as it were.
It’s pretty scary what you can dig up with a name and an email. I’m not saying how much of my information is in that thing, but it was enough to make me squirm a bit. One of the Blizzard blues found out the hard way when he put out his name to prove it was ‘safe’ and then had his phone number, home address, parent’s home address, Facebook, and other pertinent information all linked within seconds.
So, ladies: What are we going to do about it? Take it passively as our rights to privacy are stripped? Walk with our money to a new game? Scream into the void until something is done? I’m honestly not sure yet — I really like my game, and the people I play with. I don’t want to try and build the relationships I’ve made OR endure the learning curve. I’ve played WoW for 5 years and never, ever missed a payment or taken a break.
But there might be a time for it. This might be that time.
I don’t play many games that aren’t on a console but every so often my attention is peaked by something. In this case it’s a game called Sleep Is Death by indie creator Jason Rohrer (the dude who made The Passage).
There is quite a bit of hype surrounding this game and you’ve probably heard words like “innovative” and “limitless possibilities” thrown around about games before. The interesting thing is that in this case, it’s true. Sleep Is Death is for 2 players, one playing the “controller” of the game world and the other being the player exploring the world. The player has a 30 second timer in which to move, pick something up, speak to someone or say something. The game, in turn, reacts to whatever it is you do. But it’s not the game itself reacting it is the “controller” – the other player. This means that you literally can do nearly anything and get a response from the game. Think about it. In how many other games can you say what you want or smash what you want or kill what you want and actually have the game react specifically to what you did? The entire problem of intelligent design in games is wiped away by simply putting another human in control of the environment.
The controller interface is pretty easy to understand – it’s mainly drag and drop. The simple sprite based art means that new characters, objects and environments can be created with astonishing speed. The pared-down art style also means that players remain focused on the story without getting distracted by how “good” things look. This is important when you have only 30 seconds in which to create the environment or consequences for the player. There are also prepackaged assets that come with the game (and more available to download) so you don’t have to do all the work yourself if you don’t want to. If you are going to be the controller then you can also create scenes and characters that you can store in the game’s library for future use. The player interface is even simpler; point and click.
There is one very obvious downfall to this game. It depends on the creativity of the controller and the responses of the player. Even so, you can pretty much guarantee that you won’t know what is going to happen until you sit down to play. Even the controller has to react to the player! How many games can you say that about? If you’re not playing with a friend you can find people to play with at Sidtube where people also upload screenshots of their games and you can find new resources.
You can download Sleep Is Death here – payment is donation based so give what you can afford and support our indie developers!
So, I acquired a beta key for StarCraft II a couple of weeks ago from a friend to got 2 two many. Naturally, I’ve been spending as much time as I can playing, since it closes on the 30th of this month (for a little while). From what I’m seeing the past couple weeks, the game will be phenomenal. I’m going to start with the graphics: GORGEOUS. Most of the maps have beautiful galactic landscapes and I’ve already lost a couple matches because of wasting precious seconds to stare at the backgrounds. Actually, now that I mention it, I’ve lost a LOT of matches.
When I started playing, I just kindof went by what I used to do in StarCraft 1, forever ago. I got used to long games and complicated strategies, not much rushing. The players I’ve encountered on this game are mostly interested in wiping out opponents as quickly and efficiently as possible. At first, this upset me greatly, because it wasn’t fun at all to be at the starting stages of developing my base just to have 4 punk goons from the other base come and wipe my defenseless drones. The more I play, however I’m learning how to make production much quicker, and counter-attack more effectively (and win matches!). I originally was placed in the gold league (highest of 3 tiers) – because during the placement matches (5 preliminary matches to determine starting rank) a few people lost connection and I auto-won the games. After a few losses in the Gold league (I was flattened, totally), I got re-ranked into Silver league. Guess who’s kicking butt now? This girl. Right here.
My only real complaints about the game are that the hotkeys don’t really stick well for me. I’m not sure if others are having this problem, or if it’s just me due to wireless keyboard (except I’ve actually never had this problem..), but yeah. I waste time jamming the hot keys when I could just do it all with the mouse. I just don’t like having to click through every single command, but I suppose I’ll have to get used to it for now. Seconds are precious in this game…
I’m trying to play it as much as possible before it closes up a bit. Until last weekend, there was just 1v1 and 2v2, now there’s 3v3 and 4v4, and eventually there should be a Free-For-All mode. There are a few basic achievements (such as: winning a first game, winning 5 games as each of the 3 races, winning a match 2v2, etc) with rewards, like profile images. The best part is, the is windowed, full screen and full screen (windowed) modes, with many choices for resolution and highly adjustable (and volumous) video and sound options. Great news for players with PCs of all shapes and sizes. Speaking of players of all shapes and sizes, as soon as I acquired a beta key, I realized I actually know a good amount of people that are also participating in the beta. We already have the option to add each other to a friend list in the client and play against each other (or team up and play 2v2+)! It is all very exciting. I haven’t played with any of my friends yet, but this weekend was a good one for networking, so I’ll finally be able to play against (or with) people I know. Hurray for Skype and play!
Last note: The pictures in this post are screen shots I’ve taken while playing. They look terrible after I edited them (for size), so if you kind-of squint and turn your head sideways, it might look a lot cooler… (just kidding, but you get the idea, right?)
We all have our favourites.
Favourite guilty pleasure TV show.
Favourite gaming platform.
When we all make a choice, oh wait…erm…okay. When most make a choice of what platform they will favour and play on they have a reason. If you’re me you never make a choice completely. The question is, why do you favour one platform over another? I don’t mean, which is better, but why do you like it so much that you’re willing to sink your hard earned cash into it.
I lie, I do play favourites. I have an irrational and rational bias towards the Sony platforms. In regards to the Playstations, it’s usually been a hardware and game bias, mostly hardware. I do love my DS, but there’s just something nice about the shiny PSP that makes me love it. That aside I do own all 3 consoles, both handhelds and a kick ass PC. Not to mention the board games and tabletop RPGs. I flit from platform to another, but most people aren’t like me.
So here’s my question to you: Why’d you make your choice?
The computer is your gateway to new and exciting people! Yes, some may be sociopaths or pedophiles, and some of them are simply dicks. But still, what would the world be without people?
On second thought, don’t answer that.
I like to play with people. I like cooperative games a lot more then I like competitive games. I enjoy being a story with fellow players in my tabletop games, and I enjoy smokin’ a Spitter before she vomits all over my team mates in my newly discovered love for Left 4 Dead (1 or 2, they’re all awesome.) I enjoy it. I enjoy the broader (and usually older) community on PC connections then I do on say, XBox — in fact, XBox Live is a reason we chose to go PS3 instead of XBox (along with the Red Ring of Death, general catalog being superior on PC, etc). It’s got a bad reputation. I just wasn’t interested in dealing with it. So the computer is my box of choice. I prefer single or dual player on console, and I enjoy a broad range of games from puzzlers to shooters on my PC.
And now I’m using it as a Tabletop aid. A friend of mine, who I have known for going on ten years now, used to run a tabletop Exalted (2nd edition, for the curious) game online as his regular gaming group spread over several states. They added a few other friends, and wa-la! They used Google Wave as their first tool for it’s ease of sharing documents and having a ‘bot’ dice roller you can ‘invite’ your group communications. (This is still how they do dicerolling.) But to expedite the communications process, they set up a group Skype and now we all spend 2-3 hours voice-gaming over the internet.
So now I have a new Thursdays group, and I look forward to seeing how this works. I’ve been gaming — roleplaying specifically — since I was about eleven years old. I am now thirty-two. This is two decades of gaming books, and if I wasn’t ashamed of it’s well loved, tattered shape I would photograph the first gaming book I ever bought — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Fangirl? Yes. Do I care? No. I’ve done statted, non stated, consent-based, ICC=ICA, you name it, I’ve played it across various platforms and tools. But I think, after the laughs shared over Skype Thursday night, this should be a fun experience if my schedule allows me to keep up with it.
In the other end of the spectrum, I’ve found the cooperative campaigns of Left 4 Dead to be highly rewarding with good pals, some laughs, and even getting the husband involved. I bought both games while they were on sale on Steam after The Passing DLC had become available. It lead to a lot of fun times with friends, and I eventually convinced my husband to get it. We did some with friends and some friends-and-bots campaigns, and enjoyed every minute of it. He’s a little frustrated with some of the gameplay elements, but I think it’s all part of the fun. I’m on Steam if anybody wants to give it a crack, and welcome others into my gameplaying circle. Just be aware I tend to have friendly fire accidents. Shooters are not normally my usual choice for gaming, but I’m getting much better with them!
So game-wise, I’ve got a lot piling up on me. For one thing, I still need to finish playing the last 2 parts of the Monkey Island 5-part finale. The game is a total riot, but I stopped playing it because it was holiday season and I simply didn’t have time any more. Then, of course, the usual. You get out of the groove and it’s hard to get back. I’m concerned now because I’ve started playing a few games recently that I want to finish as soon as I can. That way, I will have my time free’d up for other stuff in the next month or so. The games I’m playing now? Final Fantasy XIII (PS3), Borderlands (Steam), Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS). I must say, so far FFXIII has been very disappointing. It’s beautiful, but I was hoping for more. Maybe later on in the game I’ll enjoy myself, but I hate that I have to play upto a certain point in the game (15+ hours, I’m told) before it actually gets interesting. It’s ~15 hours I feel like I got ripped off when I purchased the game.
Borderlands continues to be fun for me, but I’m trying not to play it to death. If I sit in front of that game for hours, chances are I’ll just lose interest. I’m at a phase where it’s still pretty challenging, because I’m still low level and haven’t enough EXP to just blow through the missions. I’m also still really enjoying the artwork. As for Phantom Hourglass….holy epically long game, Batman! WILL IT EVER END?! Geeze… on the one hand, it’s great that it’s taking me so long to beat it, I’m saving money that I’d be spending on more DS games. On the other hand..I’m so ready to just finish the game and move on already. Apparently, there is such a thing as too long of a game (when it has an end, of course).
What I’m dying to play when it comes out: Doctor Who! I’ve been watching the new series with friends, and they got me hooked. Now we found out there’s a free game for PC coming out in June! The other game I’m anticipating is Super Street Fighter IV. I’m usually not one to buy those fighting games, but I was sold on one of the new characters, Hakan. Hakan is an oil wrestler from Turkey, who from what I know is looking to make the best olive oil on the planet, and he loves his daughters, “They are so pretty!”. I highly recommend all of you readers to look up his trailer if you haven’t seen it. If anything is going to sell you on that game, it’s him (if you share my sense of humor, anyway). His special attacks are ridiculous and hilarious! I’ll even go a step further and provide a link to you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK3oMkNvQrI No excuses!
So, I have a lot to look forward to. SSFIV comes out next week, and I want to have time to play it. At least I only work 2-4 days a week…
Things have been hectic here; we picked up Final Fantasy XIII (gorgeous, but I have a lot of gameplay complaints that can really be summed up in Penny Arcade form), bought and beat (with an Angel of Death score) the Chaos Rising expansion for Dawn of War II, and also picked up a new monitor that is lovely and really makes gaming easier on the eyes. A 23″ Samsung LED that’s crisp, bright, and was a little over my budget but so worth it. We also had tabletop last Friday, and will have the alternate game this Saturday (Iron Kingdoms and Shadowrun, respectively; Paladin of Menoth and Wolf Shaman, for the curious), but there’s nothing really exciting to report on that just yet.
Right now work – or more appropriately — the husband’s work — is eating what couple time my husband and I find together, so I got a lot of gaming done this week. I’ve knocked off some hours of FFXIII, and I finally got my Shaman to ding 80 and then ran a ton of 80 Regular Instances (ICC 5’s and ToC) to get her some gear and prepare her for the heroic’s grind…. which I already do with a Protection Warrior, Holy Priest, Hunter, Warlock and the Death Knight I almost never play. I mentioned sixth eighty, right?
However, Twitter has brought a gem to my door; the local Big Boy Nerds, the The Geek Show, is produced by Zack Shutt. He’s put out a call for at least one people-person geek and web developers. As the former and not the latter, I don’t expect to make the grade on his new project and get a job with him, but I am curious and I figured, what the hell. So I’ve DM’d him and we’ll see what happens there. I can’t say I’m unhappy with my current job– but I’m not happy there, either (and I am often situationally unhappy there, but that’s another story for another time).
I hope to find some time to write about the two latest expansions I dealt with: Dawn of War II’s Chaos Rising and Dragon Age: Awakenings, but I’ll save that for the weekend, I think. I’m told it’s All Hands so I’ll have a lot of free time without the husband.