Filler requests

Todays topic shall cover blind invites and invites to be a filler.  Now I see this as more of a problem on City of Heroes, I’ve not seen it as frequently on Villains. But then there are higher populations on the Hero side.

The other day Rach and I created* brand new heroes on Union (* The creation process last anywhere between 15 and 40 minutes). Once created we spend two minutes setting up various windows and options it was time to complete the Outbreak tutorial.

With in 10 minutes of making the characters we had recieved two team invites followed by a message the following lines:

Hey, do u mind filling in my farm for 2 mins, you dont have to enter mission or even come to this zone…just stay put !!

So here is a question for existing players of the game, how soon do you populate your “Search Comment” box?
Is it on creation of a new character or after the first annoying blind invite you get?

As a rule I now enter the following statement as soon as the character is created:

Blind invites, filler and farming requests will be ignored.

Straight forward and to the point, but even armed with this comment I’m frequently approached to be a filler. Now I’m not getting into a farming good-or-evil debate over this, my bugbear is that veteran players of the game are too lazy to even read players comments. I don’t care if it’s on a bind or macro, it don’t take more than 5 second to read a search comment.

When this occurs I use the new in-game features, adding a note to every person that tries to invite me to be a filler.

I feel really sorry for anyone starting the game, having to juggle learning about powers and zones combined with numberous invites to be a fillers for some farmers.

MMO User generated content & MMO/website interaction

world_cyber_games_finals.jpgThe future of MMO games in the social networking arena, will it happen and how?
With the number of MMOs released each month on the rise, what does the future hold in store for the typical PC gamer.
This entry will cover the promised future content that has hit the headlines recently and also what new goodies will play a major part in retaining those 5 year veterans or seeking out new blood in the years to come.

Upcoming ideas
Only recently SciFi has gone into talks about making an MMO game to generate content for a TV show. OK so it's a little off the wall but thinking of recent advancements in this area, could it be a viable source of continued content?

scifi.jpgGames like World in Conflict allowed a clan to edit their details either in-game or via their website, using the website also allowed the upload of a banner image. The image is not only shown on their clan page on massgate but also on their clan page in the game.

This is a prime example of how companies can tie in a website to the game and vica-versa.

cov.jpgIn a recent post by the CoX developer Positron, there was mention of user created missions and story arcs. Having the ability to generate maps and storylines (including all the NPC banter) will hopefully be a massive milestone towards the future of MMOs and user generated content.

There are many points that I feel should be considered and form the core functionality of such a system. One big point is power-leveling/farming. Now if we imagine that a power-leveling service were to build their own maps with a high level of spawns surely this could cause issues within the balance of the game and it's in-game economy.

Points to ponder but I think it's a topic to revisit when there is a definitive process in place for vetting user submitted content.

paper_people.jpgDatabase/website tie-ins
Now considering that MMOs use databases (frequently custom made) to store all the statistics and information about a character and clans, the interaction between these has been on a very small scale so far.
Examples of this have been statistics pages that update every X hours, or player information normally seen in signature form generated from XML feeds.

Admittedly there have been profile pages that have content generated, but these have been mostly limited to the realm of FPS games where-as MMOs have some areas expanded on like with the WOW amory(sic).

But just displaying the information is it enough?

What the future holds
With MMOs wanting to cut themselves a bigger slice of the gamer-base, user driven content and linking into websites will be a method to ensure their game stands out from the crowd and keeps the gamers new and old coming back for more.

What type of information will you want to see?

I'm a data feind and I want all of it, but in the real world this won't be possible so here a few simple ideas that we will perhaps see appearing in the next few years that cover game driven statistics and user generated contributions.

Months/Day/Hours played
Rather than displaying the date you created a character/account, the interesting/saddening information is how much time have you spent in front of the PC levelling.

Count of enemy and character defeats
How do you tend to fair? Having some simple information will easily boost popularity in website content.

Level graphs
What's better than showing off how your character is progressing? a simple graph showing the last 5 levels you gained and when you obtained them. A simple but informative tool.

Character screenshots
There is nothing quite like capturing the moment your team got wiped or the time you face-planted into a stream, but sadly only you and maybe a few others will see these images. Having the ability to upload a gallery for your character would certainly give you the opportunity to show off your screenshots.

Web to game messages
Say you where planning to meet up with some friend to tackle that quest you've been stuck on, but at the last minute you find you have to go out without access to a computer.

What do you do?
Jump in the game and hope someone is online to tell?
Email all your friends?

calendar2.jpgOr could a simpler option be visit the game website and email your friends (selecting them from your friends list) ensuring they all get the message.
Simple but effective tools that enhance the overall game integration with the real world. Is the way forward to blur the line between the in-game and out-of-game worlds?

Event management
Additional functionality that could enhance MMOs is the structured organising of events. A system in place that could allow people to create events and other can indicate if they want to attend.

Events could be simple things like clan meetings/help sessions or more advanced plans like raids.
Functionality like this could be enhanced with in-game messages and out-of-game game emails to remind players of an upcoming event.

Summary

As you can see with user orientated functionality existing between games and their websites the possible options in the future are endless. Enhancing games to integrate user-driven content is a big direction for any company to step into but one I hope to see more of in the next few years.

Well I think that concludes the second longest (*) post I've ever made on my blog, and if you have read it all, thank you.
(*) Admittedly is nothing compared to Stephen Frys Blessays but then I believe I've managed to exhaust my complete vocabulary in one attempt.

Licensed image sources:
Gamer image from stock.xchang
Paperpeople image from stock.xchang
Calendar image from stock.xchang

Birthday albums reviews

Seeing as it was my birthday today I thought I'd write up a quick review of both albums I recieved.

Dresden Dolls : No Virgina
novirginia.jpgThis is the 3 studio album offering from the Bostons Amanda and Brian, although not it's not a completely new abum. It comprises of recording left over from the recording of Yes, Virgina, additional it contains b-sides and songs released on complalations.

All that said it's a damn fine offering including a few new tracks from the Punk Cabaret duo. Also on the album is a cover of Psychedelic Furs – Pretty in pink which is very different and also very good.

This album isn't really one to pick for anyone that wants to start listening to the band but for fans it's well worth getting.

Track listing:
1 Dear Jenny
2 Night Reconnaissance
3 The Mouse and the Model
4 Ultima Esperanza
5 The Gardener
6 Lonesome Organist Rapes Page Turner
7 Sorry Bunch
8 Pretty in Pink
9 The Kill
10 The Sheep Song
11 Boston

Cavalera Conspiracy : Inflikted
cavaleraconspiracy.jpg I hadn't heard that this album was out so it was quite a suprise when dok starting playing in his car asking me to guess the band. So he grabbed me a copy as my birthday present.

This debut album by the Cavalera brothers Max and Igor and was interestingly produced by Logan Mader. It was indicated as being similar to Sepultura's earlier work but with heavier undertones.

I've just spent the last couple of hours with it playing in the background and I have to admit it's bloody good. The whole album feels very new and raw but at the same time very familiar. This albums captures all that good about the brothers earlier work and takes up a lot of notches.

If you liked early Sepultura then seek out this album.

Track listing:
1 Inflikted
2 Sanctuary
3 Terrorize
4 Black Ark
5 Ultra-Violent
6 Hex
7 The Doom Of All Fires
8 Bloodbrawl
9 Nevertrust
10 Hearts Of Darkness
11 Must Kill

Annoyingly I just spotted that the band is going to be at Download and doing one show in London ont he 17th of this month. Too short notice sadly as I've like to have caught them live.

Ministry : C U Lator

coverup.jpgSunday June 1st – Carling Academy Bristol
I wasn't too fussed about going to the gig to start with but Dok convinced me and so on sunday we headed over the water to Bristol.
Happily we didn't get massively lost getting to the venue, which was nice.

After purchasing some band merchandise Dok took leave of his senses and bought us drinks from the bar. Now I understand that venues inflate the prices, but really the percentage of profits raked in at such events even if each person bought only 1 drink .

Anyway back to the gig.
We caught the last 3 songs of the support act named illuminatus, who seemed pretty good. From what I've seen there was a different support band on each gig of the tour.

At 8:30 Ministry took to a fenced off stage with a lowered area in front of Al's goat skull adorned mic stand. The band strolled on with Al looking like a metal version of Fagan, including a hat that appeared to have animal ear attached to it.

Getting right into the swing of things the first song was Let's Go followed up with The Dick Song.
The next 3 songs also from the last sucker album Watch Yourself, Life is Good and finally The Last Sucker.

After unleashing the last sucker tracks the focus changed to the “Houses of the Molé” playing the first 4 tracks in order: No W, Waiting, Worthless and finally Wrong.

Switching to yet another album the tracks came think and fast from Rio Grande Blood, starting with the title song Rio Grande Blood followed by Senor Peligro. LiesLiesLies one of my favourites from the album was next and this section of the gig was completed with the song Khyber Pass.

So after an hour I managed to mosh away to the last 3 albums, I really should have kept my energy as the next section was to be the most furious with a selection of tracks from the earlier albums.

Beginning with So What each following song upped the BPM and got the crowd moving. Then came N.W.O. the one alot of people had been holding back for, it was quickly followed up by Just One Fix. The last song in this section was the wonderful Thieves which was one of the first Ministry tracks I ever heard and one that encouraged my following for the band.
A poor number from the earlier albums but classic choices all the same.

The final part of the show comprised of covers, the first was Just Got Paid by ZZ Top which was fantastic and quite fitting as it was from the 'Rio Grande Mud' album that Ministry parodied with there 2006 album. The next two songs appear on the last Ministry album “Cover Up” starting with Roadhouse Blues originally by The Doors and to be honest this cover is fast, heavy and a great change to the original.

The last song to be played was Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World which starts in very deep mellow tones and builds up into a crescendo, bursting into a fast and frenzied 2nd half of the song.

Now there was a bit of talk both after the gig and about other shows that considering it was a farewell tour there was too much new material and less from the older albums. Admittedly the setlist wasn't the same as they played for the US leg of the tour but I feel that the post Paul Barker albums were more writing and performing with other musicians but all things considered it was still a rather fitting set for their goodbye.

Overall it was a great gig to attend and I'm rather glad I went.

Adios Ministry!

Comment Spam redux

Well the steps I introduced to reduce the number of comment spam that was plaguing my website seem to have made an impact.
As I meantioned before I added a new step to avoid known spammers by interacting with Project honey Pot.

In the first few hours after I added the new features it became apparent how much my website was being hit by automated bots. In a quick count the figure was up to 10 IP address attempting over 40 times in one hour.

As another level of protection I've added a new feature to close the comment functionality on older posts.

There was one execption but the reason soon became apparent once I had checked the website logs, the spammer was a Human. The only course of action was to block them outright.

Other than the one comment spam I've been pretty pleased with the whole detection and avoidance system that is now in place. Althought there are a few upgrades that I can make in futures versions.