Thursday, July 29, 2004

Let's Hope That These Lands Are Once Again Eternal

In the week since the Eternal Lands server poofed, thanks to quite a few hours playing the game, I've nearly brought my character back to the levels he was at before the... "incident". That either says a lot about my commitment to the game since the crash, or my lack thereof prior to it.

It was quite the crazy situation for a few days there, everybody pushing themselves beyond the need for sleep or nutrition in a mad dash to become the best at something. Thanks to those like me who A). have other things to do, and B). just don't have what it takes to put so much "work" into a videogame, things smoothed off after a little while. Some players stats took off like rockets, others like mine were more similar to a moped needing a pedal pump here and there to make it up a somewhat-sort-of-steep hill. While some things returned to a near-normal state within a few days, others are far from it, even now. No longer does anyone who's been in the game for more than two days have the best equipment attainable and no idea how to use it. In this respect the power-levellers should be happy, as they knew the quickest route to shiny, expensive, rare equipment and put it to good use.

How long this state will last remains to be seen, either certain items will stay rare and the prices high, or it will drop back to the price range of the in-game lower class. Honestly, I see myself as aside from all of this as the fact that "it's just a fucking videogame" is constantly in the back of my mind while these debates are at hand. Far be it from me to take the stance of the "normal guy" on any issue ever, but while you nerds are crying about your fantasy economy I'll be over here not being a pansy. Of course, I'll still be playing EL with you nerds, I just won't be a pansy about it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

These Lands Are... Not So Eternal

A funny thing happened yesterday. I was just about to log on and play a little Eternal Lands, when I saw a message: "Can't connect to server : ( Press any key to retry." Well, that's a little weird... so my next step was to take a look at the EL website and see what's up. Turns out, the power supply on the EL server blew out, frying the hard drive in the process. Well, surely there's got to be a recent backup right? Wrong. This little message on the front page was my first clue: "Oh, and what backups?". As is turns out, the most recent non-corrupted backup was from February. Take a look at this archives on this site if you want proof, but I didn't even start playing this game until March and I didn't even really get to any good levels until very recently. So, as far as the backups were concerned, I didn't exist anymore. To tell you the truth, I was sort of happy to be able to start over from scratch, not entirely happy with my character's development.

I must have been the only one. The message boards exploded with a thousand posts from unhappy people how had spent too many hours of "work" building up their character's stats. A lot of people even vowed to immediatly stop playing the game, never to return again. Then, something even weirder happened: A debate on whether or not everyone's character's should be "reset". OK, so maybe I did something wrong and was accidentaly reading the posts from the game's developers with my head up my ass, but, to me it didn't look like we had a fucking choice! A whole lot of people went so far as to admit that they couldn't play the game anymore because they couldn't stand not being higher level than everyone else. "Now the n00bs are going to be just as strong as us!", they cried in utter despair, the thought of not being able to lord their high stats over the unwashed masses literaly making them cry tears of blood. So fucking what? If you're so god damned good at the game, you should be higher level than all the "nOObs"(god I hate that term) in no time at all anyway. I guess a lot of people just didn't see it from my angle, and those people are no longer playing the game, thank fuck.
But, for every person that slit their wrists when the server burned up, there were five people who were excited, no, exuberant to be getting a chance at redeveloping their characters. And shit, did they start right away. It might as well have been a race. One that, I might add, is still going on without me as I write up this post. I have to admit, I happened to recreated my character only minutes after the server came back online, and I was one many clammering from rock to flower harvesting all they could to be up much needed experience. By the time I logged off, I was up to level 18 overall, and was notching up quite a few various skills.

Sure, before the crash my overall level was well above 30, I was mopping the floor with goblins, and I had even joined a guild. But, it sure is nice not having to deal with that stupid Hellspawn perk anymore. Confused? Play the game, you'll see. Just don't get in the way of the power levellers, and don't become stronger than those who want to be the strongest. It will only anger them, for there can only be one, and that one can not be you. The fuckfaces have spoken.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

UT2004 Mod Roundup Part: Sports?

Yeah, so back to the UT2004 mods. This week it's sports, and if you know me, you know that I basically hate all but one sport. That sport, my friend, is paintball. Don't ask why I like it, I really don't know, it's just one of the funnest things I've ever done. When it comes to golf, I've always sort of admired a sport that has you driving little carts, drunk, carrying around a bunch of clubs. You may be wondering why I didn't wait to deal with Deathball in this post. Well, contrary to popular belief, Deathball is not a real sport, at least not yet.

Sure, Ultimate Survival is not really the peak of realism. It's super fast paced, plays a lot like a few standard UT2004 gametypes, and I've never seen a Skaarj or robot playing paintball. I suppose it could happen. Although, it sure would be nice to have some of that gigantic armor the next time I play paintball. In another ping to the back of realism's head, the ragdoll death animations from stock UT2004 are in place so, when hit, characters react like the paintballs are made of lead. Where it does totally nail the realism is the way the paint flies. When you shoot at an opponent you see where your paintball goes and, more often then not, it's a completely different direction than where you fired. Anybody whose actually played paintball will tell you right away that this is painfully realistic. This mod is pretty damn fun though, and it's a crying shame that there are no servers to play this baby online. Bots don't act like they're playing paintball, but I bet you could get people to.

Duffer's Golf is obviously a much more relaxed experience than the frenetic pace of the above mod. I have to admit it: for some reason, despite never having actually played the game, I am a sucker for golf videogames. This is a damn good one too. The beta only has one course so far, but it sure is a joy just whacking your way around it. The controls are really simple, you can play the whole game with just the mouse. Move the mouse to line up your shot, click once to start a power meter moving, click again to get the right amount of power, and click one more time as your golfer swings to let the shot go. As simple as it is right now in the beta stage: one course, one golfer, etc..., I have a total blast whenever I fire this mod up. Once this baby's got a few updates under it's belt it's definitely going to be one of my favorites.

These Lands Are Eternal

Playing Vendetta again last week got me to hankerin' for a little more massively multiplayer fun, and I remembered that Eternal Lands had recently had a client and server update. It was, in fact, that very same big server update that caused me to stop playing the game for a while, after losing all my hard earned low-level swank.But, fuck it, I felt like getting out of space for while so after spending a couple of minutes trying to remember my username and password I logged back on.

The main reason for the big server change in the first place was that the economy was getting way out of control. Everybody had way too much money to throw around, so you could get some pretty good gear just by being a "mule" for a high-level player with way to much cash to throw around. So, they took away all my shit. Therefore, my first mission was to make my ass some money. Fire Essences seem to be everybody's favorite easy way to make money so, being a fan of easy money, that was the route I took. 15 harvesting and 10 alchemy levels later I had myself some decent enough gear to start leveling up a little bit more in some other areas.

Fuck rabbits and beavers, fuck rats. I'm gonna go hunt myself some deer, yee-haw! Alright, that was a bit over the top, but anyway. The first time I had ever tried taking on a deer, I ended up in hell rather quickly, but that was before I had my swanky new get-up. Bing! Bam! Boom! Fucker went down like a kite in a windstorm. It wasn't long before I was killing all manner of deer, foxes, boars, and wolves. Then I tried taking on a puma and was swiftly sent to hell. I figured I'd better not try that again, so lately I've been taking on goblins. It's a little over my head at this point, but I can slice through wolves like a hot knife through butter and that was getting a little boring. Very recently I've been trying my hand at magic. That's right, card tricks out my ass.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Yes, It's Fucking Vendetta Again. Shut Up.

I've decided to take a break from the UT2004 mod roundup this week, to address a favorite of mine that has recently had some major updates. Sure, I've already got two full posts(check the archives) dedicated to Vendetta, but what the hell... It is my weblog after all, so if I want to cover a game 4000 times you can be sure that I will.

Anyone who played Vendetta six months ago will find a whole lot more to do than the game offered back then. Missions, both combat and trade, not only give you money but also experience which is used to pick up "licenses", granting access to bigger, better, more powerful ships and weapons. That may piss some of you off who remember the "good ole days" when you could get any ship you wanted, whenever you wanted, as long as you had enough cash to throw around. The fact that you just can't do that anymore is well balanced by the new pricing scheme on the ships. It sure is a hell of a lot easier to take when your perfect, brand new ship is blown to pieces by a way-too-hasty player with something to prove.

It sure is a good thing, though, that there is so much more to do in the game. Why? Because no one is playing this fucking game anymore! That's right, thousands of registered users(by the way, I think the beta is currently closed... sorry) and whenever you check out the active players list there are no more than 15-20 people playing at any given time. Couple this with the fact that the in-game universe has grown from a mere 18 to over 7000 sectors(no kidding), it sure is pretty damn hard finding anyone at all. That's not good news for Guild Software as these guys are talking about a summer release for this game. Um, isn't that like... now? It sure doesn't seem like good news for this game. Who the hell is going to play a massively multiplayer game that's sure as hell not massive, and barely multiplayer?

If you read my first Vendetta-related post, you may remember me having a not-so-friendly attitude towards guild software for even thinking they'd be able to sell a game as unpolished as Vendetta was at the time. Now though, I'd really like to see them succeed because Vendetta has turned into a very nice game, a very fun game. Sadly, I can't see how that could happen when only 20 people are willing to play the game for free.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

UT2004 Roundup Part 3: Yeah, I Know What I Said, But...

Last week I decided it would be better if I covered two mods in each post, seeing as it would take a very long time to write up all the mods I want to cover if I only did one a week. Well, that was all well and good until Alien Swarm came along and forced me to stop playing all other mods.

Lately, a lot of games and mods have been throwing the word "tactical" around with the frequency that most people use periods. If there's one mod that can freely toss that word about and be perfectly justified, it's this one. Just the sheer amount of ways there are to deal with almost any situation forces use you to quickly figure out and execute a plan, and when your planning pays off it's a damn good feeling. The A.I. for your squad helps this feeling along immensely, they're no dummies for sure. However, if they're just not doing what you want, feel free to take control of any member of your squad whenever you feel like it. Say you want to clear a room of alien scum. You could shepard your entire squad through one door, let the aliens rush you, and hope that your tightly packed squad doesn't get too hopelessly surrounded. Or you could split your team up, maneuver each half towards two different doors, and take on the aliens from both sides. There are other ways you could attack the situation, but I'll leave that up to you.

Now what I was talking about above is just the single player game, take it online and it's a whole different world. You may no longer be in control of the squad, just a single soldier or medic. You could be the leader of the squad, but that's no A.I. you're ordering around, and they may not think what you say is such a good idea. Who knows, a team mate could think they see something, prematurely freak out, and set the rest of your squad on fire in a matter of seconds. Better hope you have a medic in that situation. This is quite possibly one of the best co-op gameplay experiences I've had in any game, on any platform.

Now, if you haven't seen or heard about Alien Swarm yet, go take a look at a screenshot, I'll wait. Back? OK, so by now you know it's not a first person shooter... If you're still reading, do yourself an enormous favor and pick that shit up, you won't regret it. Probably... I didn't.