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1. Destiny: Second Thoughts
2. So... Destiny
3. Diggin' In The Carts
4. A dark day for gaming
5. Goodbye to John Hammond
6. Notes from the Destiny beta
7. RIP, Robin Williams
8. Awakening from Slumber
9. Chernobyl: Games vs Life
10. E.T. Found
1. Quickie: Impressions June 2014
2. Quickie: Penny Arcade Episode 3
3. Quickie: The Amazing Spider-Man
4. Quickie: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
5. Quickie: Prototype 2
6. Quickie: Microsoft Kinect
7. Quickie: X-Men Destiny
8. Spider-Man: Edge of Time
9. Quickie: Transformers Dark of the Moon
10. Quickie: Borderlands GOTY
1. Musings 45: Penny Arcade and The Gripping Hand
2. Movie Review: Pacific Rim
3. Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph
4. Glide Wrapper Repository
5. Movie Review: Winnie The Pooh
6. Musings 44: PC Gaming? Maybe it's on Life Support
7. Video Games Live 2009
8. Movie Review: District 9
9. Musings: Stardock, DRM, and Gamers' Rights
10. Musings: How DRM Hurts PC Gaming
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 Sep 30, 2014 - 02:09 PM - by Michael
Destiny: Second Thoughts
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Personal Stuff/Random News As I move on playing Destiny, a few thoughts I've compiled.

#1 - I can see why some reviewers panned the game's leveling system. Characters rush fast to level 20 and then the "armor-based leveling system", involving Light Points, turns the game into a maddening slow slog of desperately trying to get either random loot drops (more on that in a minute) or else grinding furiously to get the various currencies to buy higher-powered armor from the vendors. It's a novel concept but not what I necessarily call a FUN concept, and more often than not it's simply infuriating.

#2 - Related: the loot system is bollocks. Pure, unadulterated horse turds. It's so completely broken that Bungie have admitted they need to take it back to formula.

The underlying problem is this:

"They're not even rare socks."

About the third or fourth time after you turn in a set of blue engrams, desperately hoping for better gear, and wind up with a combination of green garbage and stuff you can't use? Yeah, you lose all hope for the loot system in the game.

#3 - The final point, honestly, is that there is far less content in the game than there should be. Most of the game's content involves grinding, grinding, grinding, and re-playing missions with "modifiers."

Re-doing the same strikes over and over again.
Re-doing the same storyline missions over and over again.
Re-doing the same repetitive tasks trying to grind for better gear.

Even the community event going through the end of this week - the "Queen's Wrath" event - just re-treads a bunch of storyline missions, sending players off to shoot and kill a horde of named enemies they've killed a hundred times before.

It's wearing thin, quickly.
 

 Sep 11, 2014 - 08:16 AM - by Michael
So... Destiny
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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft So - Destiny.

Bungie left Microsoft, and left the Halo franchise in Microsoft's hands. They decided to take their existing strengths (developed in the Marathon and Halo days) and make an online-based semi-MMO shooter called Destiny. Basically one part Marathon, one part Halo, with a little Borderlands thrown in.

Only problem: the "always on" requirements are proving tough to sell. There were actually less problems in the free open beta than there are currently trying to play online; disconnects from server are frequent and cause players to lose progress in missions, drop from teams, and generally have a bad time even while their internet connections and Xbox Live / PSN connections, team groups, and voice chat are all rock solid.

In some ways, this illustrates the problem of the "always on" model and why the Borderlands model is probably superior. Your "always on" is subject to the troubles both of server-side processing and connection issues, while a Borderlands model requires much less power to operate and isn't nearly as consumed by the single point of failure issues. As a bonus, I can play Borderlands even when the cable lines are temporarily down; the same can't be said for Destiny.
 

 Sep 09, 2014 - 04:49 PM - by Michael
Diggin' In The Carts
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Personal Stuff/Random News As an aficionado of music of all sorts... this needs to be spread.

Go watch Diggin' In The Carts.. Just do it. You will find your mind enriched and your time rewarded.

There's nothing like some good history, especially video game history.
 

 Aug 28, 2014 - 01:31 PM - by Michael
A dark day for gaming
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Personal Stuff/Random News This is just downright... I have lost the words.

Anita Sarkeesian has gotten death and rape threats before for her critiques of the video gaming industry. But this week, the harassment got so bad that she was driven out of her home.
After releasing her newest web series Feminist Frequency’s “Tropes vs. Women,” which focuses on how women are depicted in pop culture and video games, Sarkeesian has suffered an onslaught of online harassment. Immediately following the series’ latest installment, “Women as Background Decoration (Part 2),” that harassment escalated, causing her to call law enforcement and flee her home:


Those who did this? THEY are the ones who ought to be removed from the gaming community. This is basically what we've gotten for the way that online gaming has allowed to continue - I don't play much online at all, never in the "open queues" of games, especially not when voice chat from the other side is required to be accepted. I learned my lesson with the immature brats playing Halo and Settlers of Catan (seriously, they'd abuse people over a freaking board game) and it's high time that the gaming industry either grew up, or learned that unrestricted, unmoderated "online play" only encourages these trolls.
 

 Aug 25, 2014 - 08:03 AM - by Michael
Goodbye to John Hammond
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Personal Stuff/Random News Richard Attenborough has passed away.

He'll be missed, especially with Jurassic World coming back so soon. If anyone managed to be John Hammond (even though he didn't die in the movie, as in the book), he was the perfect casting.
 

 Aug 11, 2014 - 07:02 PM - by Michael
Notes from the Destiny beta
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Xbox/Xbox Games So there was the Destiny beta a couple weekends ago... I've been letting it sit and digest a bit.

Honestly, my initial reaction is that the game wants to be too much. It wants to be Halo, it wants to be an MMORPG, it wants to be a Co-Op story, it wants to be an epic story... it wants to be a lot. Even with a packed world, so packed they crashed servers on the Xbox360 side and even with dedicated friends joining me, it actually felt quite... alone in the world. Like all the other people playing weren't really playing with me so much as alongside me. When they helped in a fight or two, it was cool; when they ran along right past the fight, it sometimes was annoying... when I was trying to meet kill requirements for some of the procedurally generated missions, it was annoying.

The "special event" drops every now and again? Also cool, but not very meaningful.

The weaponry and special powers? Honestly, if anything, they feel a little bit uninventive. One class gets a ground slam, one a kamehameha type grenade bomb, one a set of nasty gun blasts... the rest of their abilities didn't seem to change or be any different for beans. Maybe it's different at higher levels, but for low level play, one class is as good as - and functionally interchangeable with no change in playstyle required to substitute for - another.

They've got a month left. We'll see if Bungie can make it count.
 

 Aug 11, 2014 - 06:52 PM - by Michael
RIP, Robin Williams
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Personal Stuff/Random News A sad day... Robin Williams will be missed. Nanu, nanu.
 

 Jun 27, 2014 - 07:48 AM - by Michael
Awakening from Slumber
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Personal Stuff/Random News Sometimes, Real Life grabs you and shakes. Hard.

But here; have some first impressions.

Child of Light

I started up on this one for a couple hours - looks intriguing, though it's a little odd to have a turn-based battle system in a 2D scroller. I keep wanting to slash and chop at enemies onscreen. A familiar with a slowly recharging magic bar isn't too bad, though, and it looks like they'll be doing interesting things with it deeper into the story.

Thief

I wanted to like this game. I wanted to really, really like this game - like I enjoyed Thief 3, with its hub-based world and exploratory missions. In some cases, it delivers. In others it doesn't - there's so much emptiness so far to the game. A few guards here and there, but most of the side missions don't involve any people at all, just ransacking someone's house over and over. I miss the days of the Keepers and the intrigue between the Pagans, the Hammerites, the Keepers, and the city officials - where you could have really interesting things happening between competing interests. Basically speaking, the storyline here's just so difficult to keep interested in for more than short bursts of gameplay when I'm in the mood for sneaking.

Mechwarrior Online

Final thing for the moment: the "MMO" of choice for me for now. Though I hate to say it, MWO has a heck of a long way to go. The Clans have dropped, now, with new reasons to burn money or time playing to level up and re-outfit the 'mechs, but at the end of the day it's still desperately missing true community warfare and the number of online players and groups seems to be slowly diminishing. A troubling meta and inability - dare I say it, sure, INCOMPETENCE on the part of Paul Inouye in the field of game balance - has really hurt this one, too; they can put out more and more 'mechs, but it doesn't matter when the standard weaponry for the "optimal" 5-6 'mechs in play are all the same.
 

 May 15, 2014 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
Chernobyl: Games vs Life
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Personal Stuff/Random News So it turns out, games are actually re-creating some real-life locations quite well:

It wasn’t until I was actually in the Zone myself that I realised to what extent the games manage to capture the sense of the Pripyat landscape itself as a malevolent, even antagonistic, presence. Of course, guided tours in a hot, sunny summer bear little resemblance to Stalker’s world. But, as an invisible presence known only through little blinking, chattering devices, I never really got used to radiation during my two-dozen trips to the Zone. Without any visual cues to radiation ‘hot spots’ my yellow hand-held Geiger counter was a constant companion, even if it was not the most reliable of friends, boasting an accuracy of ±20% and taking half a minute or more to determine significant changes over short distances. Walking through areas I had not previously visited, with unknown radiation levels, I would have to move cautiously.


 

 Apr 26, 2014 - 03:20 PM - by Michael
E.T. Found
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Personal Stuff/Random News All those old E.T. cartridges that were supposedly buried in a landfill because more were made than could possibly be sold?

Yep. They've been found.

Amazing.
 


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