1 year later

Arachnos

A year ago today NCSoft pulled the plug on the first, biggest and best Hero/Villain themed MMO. I have had not dealing with NCSoft since then and aren’t likely to do so given their portfolio of games does nothing to interest me.

I look at the market offerings of current MMOS and the classes are mundane and pedestrian, all builds are the same, at level 2 you get this power, level 5 that power. Yes there are some exceptions that buck the trend,but these are few in number (TSW?).

If asked my goto Archtype in Villains was a Corruptor,  the mixture of the powersets always lead to some interesting gameplay. In order play every combination of just that one Archetype you would need over 100 characters, it was as diverse as they come.
This lead to your character feeling a little unique off the bat, but then the power selection and how you configured each power, granted further opportunities to craft a avatar that you had a hand in shaping. And of course what is a superhero/villain without a costume to match:

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A year may have past, and there are a number of players that have maybe found a gaming home elsewhere, some may have backed the Project Titan folks on kickstarter, many stay linked via the #SaveCoH hashtag on twitter.
I think we are all still longing to roam that virtual world again, to take in the music, the sounds of a city and it’s people, water lapping against the docks, listening out for the Cow while enjoying some skiing (hehe). These are small and silly things that were common place yet are held quite dear now.

Thanks to all those players that I still ponder about when I think back to Random TaskForces I was part of.
Thanks to the Titan Network for holding out as a bastion of all things CoH/V.
Thanks to the Community.

Tablet gaming

When I bought my Nexus 7 the main reason was to replace my laptop/notebook, I never really thought about gaming on the device when the reasoning was taking place about whether to make the purchase. Now I usually spend a few pounds to pick up some titles each month, admittedly a number of them are titles for Little Troll who also enjoys gaming on the Nexus as much as I do (if not more)

As proven on the Apple Store for many people the price tag is a huge part of a games appeal , less than £1 I’m likely to pick it up without a second thought. In fact most games I buy are probably in that price bracket, with a small fraction costing around 2 to 3. The most expensive I bought recently would have been Days of Wonder’s Ticket to Ride app (that finally made the transition from iPad to Android) and Elder Sign.

So I guess I can list myself in the mobile gamer camp, over the last 11 months I have managed an ever growing wishlist on Google Play and keep an open eye for deals. I half wish that Google would employ a feature  similar to Steams wishlist notification service. Although that type of system would surely see me poorer of wallet but richer in games.

Another source for my game has been those offered through Humble Bundle, the installation of which is made easier by their own Android app that downloads the games for you, that said you are offered the ability to download the game packages to install manually should that be more a more preferable option.

There are 2 Humble Bundles running currently, one of them is for Android Games and is worth a look:

Zeppelin & Lead

Over the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to join the FFR group (via the How to Murder time Steam Group), in playing Guns of Icarus Online.

In 2010 Muse Games released Guns of Icarus was a rather fun game, it was a little rough and ready with the concept and design being very strong, the implementation lacked a little in certain places especially the controls that were very twitchy.

Despite the lower than average reviews of the game a sequel was planned and was partially funded by a successful Kickstarter, a good indicator that the game had a strong fan base.

Guns of Icarus Online launched in October 2012, with mutliplayer galore. Pistons and pumps, rockets and tar, the game builds on the original format with enhanced roles and weaponry. The maps are large and filed with obstacles making navigation taxing on top of keeping your ship and guns in range of the enemy.

Each role is designed to have more slots that favour the role, meaning there being a gunner while in the gunner role grants you more options, however a gunner can still help out with navigation and repairs. This gives flexibility for crew to adapt as needed during a fight, but it would be nice to have the ability to swap in a game once you have died.

The game also features a cash-shop for cosmetic items for your character, which is where you can get those all important hats.

Squid battle

As with any game there are some points that can be improved upon, but the main one that comes to mind is that mid-match there have been some rather lengthy lag spikes. Hopefully these will be ironed out as the game is still being actively developed.

Pick a phone,any phone!

So I took the plunge and finally got a phone without a keyboard after quite a bit of debating I finally picked the HTC One, I’m pretty sure that without my Nexus last Christmas I wouldn’t have considered moving to touch-screen. Here is my thoughts and some of my reasoning.

The phone

HTC-ProductDetail-Hero-slide-04I have to admit the phone feels rather nice in your hand, the balance is perfect for me. As the case is built from a single piece of aluminium it’s alot lighter than I thought it would be. The only external buttons are the volume rocker and the power key, the power key placement is a little odd in that it’s on the top left and not right as it common with phone of this factor. But it soon became familiar practice to head to the left not right.

The resolution is very nice and the quality is rather better than I expected. There are dual front facing speakers with BoomSound which give a nice balanced sound over all the ranges. When these features are combined for example watching films on Netflix, the quality of the phone really stands out.

The OS

The HTC Sense brand of Android has taken a little getting used to, but as with anything there are new short-cuts and features to discover. Bear in mind that I have only used stock Android OS on my Nexus before now, so this in some cases feels like a step backwards as I find some things more limited.

The keyboard software is rather nice and I loaded up the stock Google one to compare, and there are a number of alterations that make it better suited to the Phone environment. The biggest feature that I will miss from my old phone will be configurable alerts on an app by app basis, as setting the Ringtone, Alerts & Alarm seems to be a little restrictive, I’m sure there is an app to help me somewhere.

Camera

The 4 UltraPixel camera is a mixed bag, perhaps it’s just my unfamiliarity with the camera but zooming doesn’t always result in good qulaity pictures. However I overlook that fact as the low-light pictures come out fantastically, which is good when your child isn’t fond of flashes on cameras.

There a number of addition features of the camera that drew me to this phone:

  • Zoe – this is a rather awesome piece of software, allowing for a short video instead of  a picture which allows you to remove moving objects & extract stills
  • Always smile looks good but I’ve yet to use it (I only know miserable people 😉
  • HD, Slow motion and highspeed video capture
  • Burst shots allow you to pick one to keep and remove the rest, ideal for toddlers

My case

As I travel on public transport for 10+ hours every week I wanted something tough enough for that and to also deal with my 3 year old too. Thankfully as this phone has been out for a little while there was a good range of cases on the market. In the end I opted for an Otterbox Defender which to be fair is more than I need, so I don’t by default use the outer case shell, but it’s always good to have the option there. Also the built in screen protector means I’m not worrying about it pealing off after a few weeks.

Picking a Phone

When I was trying to pick a new phone I read quite alot of reviews of the latest phones on the market.

The video below was the one that swayed my decision in the end, despite there being some incorrect information such as the camera quality and the ease of adding short-cuts, but maybe that was revised in the software since the video was filmed.  I am happy to say that I’m very please with my choice.

Barriers

When people talk about “Free to play” titles, there is usually a reference to removing barriers. Removing them from the entry to the game, purchase costs, monthly subscriptions, etc.
While this has a positive benefits in terms of players and accessibility, removal of these entry level barriers means that those looking to exploit a game can just roll new accounts when they get found out.

Come with me into the Past

Ghostly outlines

Let me take you back in time to 2006, this was before the free to play model was fully embraced as a viable business model and subscription was the order of the day.

To encourage more gamers to try out Planetside (1), SoE introduced a feature called Reserves for a period of 1 year. This allowed anyone to create a SoE account and earn 6 battle ranks levels and 2 command levels before they stopped gaining XP.

On the whole there were high-hopes that this would drive more players into picking up the game. However this single act, resulted in a massive influx of persons out to abuse the system. The worst part was that the continued free access granted them the ability to test out different hacks and “so we are led to believe” develop/use tools to achieve various hacks on the fly.

Sadly this wasn’t the revamp that Planetside needed and effectively paved the path for continued exploits and ongoing problems that plagued the game forever more.

Now?

Over the last week in PS2  I have encountered a player on three separate occasions who appeared to be using a wall/clipping hack combined with increased damage output, meaning you would be killed by an “invisible” enemy with 1 shot.

In a purely PvP orientated game like Planetside 1 or 2, the floodgates are wide opened for cheaters and trolls to apply their “trade”, thanks to the removal of barriers.

I am rather surprised that SoE didn’t seem to take anything away from the reserves experiment. Even their hacking detection seems to be as lacklustre as it was in 2006/2007, relying more on other players to report these events over actively seeking them out in real time.