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Tag: PC Gaming

Gamifying gameplay

Posted in Gaming

For those unaware Raptr is a social website that allows gamers to track games and achievements but also to befriend each other. Well that is all I used it for after I switched to it from Xfire. There were some areas that allowed you to compare statistics against your friends but it’s wasn’t the main focus of the site.

However this all changed when Raptr recently got a huge make-over. Now for each of your games, play-time and achievements are ranked against the statistics of other players. The more people that are playing a game, the higher the thresholds of each ranking. The ranks are:

  • Newbie
  • Amateur
  • Experienced
  • Dedicated
  • Hardcore
  • Elite

Ranks, A brief overview

Raptr informs you of your ranking for a game and also tells you what is needed to reach the next rank. As an example I have 20 games where I am ranked as “Hardcore”, but I’m told that I need to invest another X hours gameplay or earning achievements to earn the rank “Elite”.

That’s all well and good but once you have put in the hours and become an “Elite” player of a title, what then? How does Raptr encourage you to put more time into a game?

Well it cleverly doesn’t tell you your exact rank, but it offer you the useful information on what step are needed for you to become the number #1 player of a game. The wonderfully designed message politely tells me that I need to invest another 58 hours in Sanctum to earn the elustrious title of the number #1 player.

The bonus is that you spend more time playing games that may have lost their enjoyment, but the grind doesn’t end there. As more players invest more time you will slowly lose position and maybe rank, another factor to push you into picking up older titles to in order to compete against other gamers and maintain your standing.

 Standings

After the recent changes I was thrilled to discover that I am (at time of writing) the top ranked gamer for both Atomic City Adventures and Atom Zombie Smasher. On viewing my progress on the latter game it was apparent that I needed to put in a few more hours to try and earn more achievements to cement my place as top dog.

As I was typing this post I received an email from Audio Surf informing me that I had been dethroned as the top scorer on Transvision Vamps – Tell that girl to shut up.

C’est la vie d’une compétitif gamer.

*Should you want to add me as a friend on Raptr my username is welshtroll.

Soloing, bliss or burden?

Posted in Gaming

On occasion I enjoy time playing MMOs alone, that’s not to say I don’t like company or don’t see the benefits in teaming, but for me the enjoyment of a game can be enhanced by tackling it alone sometimes.
Of course you may ask what’s the point of playing an MMO rather than a single player RPG and the answer is other people, yea it sounds silly but single player games lack in certain areas like a player driven market, folks standing around benches crafting or just a general feeling that the places and regions of the game have other people doing the same as you . I supposed they have that “Lived in” feeling that single player games often fail to deliver.

What did I miss?

If I had to choose one thing that I find better about playing solo it would have to be the ability to see  a lot more of the content, you have the time and chances to read the history behind a quest, discover the reasons behind them and actually read the dialogue. I’ll not deny it is going to take longer to reach the end game content and I may never see the level cap but the general idea is to enjoy the journey as much as the achieving the ultimate goal (max level).

Currently I heard the Van Hemlock podcast episode 135 in which Mr Vanhemlock explains the vast world of tome unlocks he has encountered in Warhammer Online and how he tend to approach it alone and not as part of the static group. I have to agree that soloing is perfect for those players that enjoy achievement whoring. I must have spent a massive amount of time in City of Villains just working toward various badges (sell X number of items on the market, Craft 1000 recipes, take Y million points of damage, kill 250 enemies of type Z) the solo play-style is wonderful for picking away at those ingame achievements without boring fellow players to death, unless they are after the same achievements of course.

Easy Ride?

I don’t expect any game to give me an easy time just because I’m not teamed up, generally I will approach a game with the assumption that I’ll be completely out of my depth. That said we are starting to see games now are altering the lower end content to make it easier for soloing, in a hope that players can reach the level cap sooner but this also double up as an incentive for us solo players to give that game another try. A while back Matt “Positron” Miller wrote about solo players on his MMO Designer blog and it’s nice to see how developers think about solo players and how to take them into consideration when balancing game-play, even though we seem to give them a headache most of the time.

Messing with your play-style

With solo game-play comes adjustments to your play-style, taking a more strategic approach to quests & tasks. Without doing so you’ll find wading into an enemy mob, with swords flailing will most likely result in failure. You have to choose your targets, carefully watching that you haven’t aggro’d more than “you can chew”. Unless your character is blessed with a heal ability you’ll need to equip yourself with some kind of health restoring device (potion/medkit) to help when you get into trouble.

Most of all you have to accept that you are playing a game designed for groups and you may no be able to check every box. At times you are going to get splatted over and over and there isn’t a great deal you can do about it other that come back in a few levels time and try again. City of Heroes is great game for solo player as you can raise or lower the difficultly as you see fit, this allows you to still enjoy the game despite you character not being great at offensive attacks.

Learn the classes

A big factor in the solo game-style is the class. Knowing the game is really the only clear way to understand which classes work well in a soloing capacity. There are normally good guides about which classes work for the solo gamer, generally they tend to be those with massive armour or healing powers. Some people will like the challenge of attempting to solo a class that isn’t one that is typically used, I have one such character in City of Villains that doesn’t sound to fun to the normal player but I have some wonderfully different experiences that make them a pleasure to play.

In all soloing isn’t everyone idea of fun, but we each enjoy these games in different ways.

Blitz

Posted in Gaming

I’ve spent the best part of the last 3 weeks jumping various games my allotted time being partially arranged around the baby/visitors/work & sleep. It’s been rather sporadic to say the least.

My excitement for Modern Warfare 2 has started to wain a little, it’s cause hasn’t been helped by the large percentage of blatant hackers in the game that can’t be reported in any shape or form.

But enough with the old and in with the new, well newish, ok, ok, once were new.
My current play list looks something like this:

  • Everquest 2 (14 day trial) — frustratingly XFire isn’t recognising EQ2 so no time is being marked against it. I’m not sure I could face another standard MMO at the moment but the characters are very detailed and i’ve found the none way-pointed missions  lead to more exploration.
  • Wizard 101 — Rach and I have been trying out some less resource intensive games that allow us to pick up and play when we get a spare minute. I’m finding the game is scarcely entertaining
  • Spellborn — I’ve taken to playing a little Spellborn when I fancy a change of pace. The game delivers something different each time I play.
  • Warhammer Online — I’m playing the free Tier one stuff but with multiple builds, mostly to get a  feel for how the classes are designed and how they work with the other player classes.
  • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (On the XBob) — I’ve been having some great fun with this title certainly one to try if you’re a Marvel fan.

Still to come:

  • Mass Effect — Everyone is Raving about Mass Effect 2 so I’ve decide to try and get the original game completed first, the only problem is I have to re-install it since my HDD swap.
  • Myst online – Hopefully I’ll get back into trying this now free title once more.
  • Chaos Rising Dawn of War 2 — looking forward to this expansion when it arrives.

Throw all that into the mix with everything and I find myself struggling to get a blog post writing in a week.

But it’s all good fun

IWNet, another nail in PC gamings coffin

Posted in Gaming

So Modern Warfare 2 has been out for some time now and I thought I’d jot down some of my thoughts on how I’ve found the multi-player portion of the game, PC version of course.

IWNet

I am unsure if Infinity Ward were just being lazy or they truly believed that their IWNet system was going to change the face of PC gaming. For those of you unfamiliar with how the system works it functions like a Console match making system.

I believe that from the outset their were three flaws in the plan to give PC gamers IWNet:

  1. The player numbers for match making won’t be there for the PC version and players could end up waiting and having to re-check for available matches repeatedly and slowly get bored and go and play another game.
  2. PC gamers will go for the servers with better pings and can generally expect all players on that server to have a similar ping (else the server will forcibly remove those high ping players), being placed in a match with player that aren’t in the same hemisphere is not good
  3. PC gamers won’t play the new big thing if they perceive it to be flawed and looking at the figures on Xfire (yes it’s not the be-all and end-all of stats I know) the original Modern Warfare  is still being played by more people than the sequel.

OK so it may not seem like much but combine those with the fact that there is no functionality to add clan tags the whole thing really doesn’t seek to give the PC any benefits.

So perhaps they didn’t plan ahead and think things through but the result is a poorly functioning system when the total number of players is less than 150,000. Finding and remaining in a match is nearly impossible, sometimes you end up with various message that all stop you searching for a match and force you to retry over and over.

If you haven’t been exposed to the match making system that is IWNet you should watch at least some of this video to get an idea of the frustration that faces players  http://www.wegame.com/watch/iwnet-why-do-we-bother/

Hackers

link – There is a darker element to the way in which the IWNet system runs and that is the number of hackers in the game. One of the reasons for the gaming using Steam was to use the VAC system and combined with the IWNet system reduce the number of hackers. Sadly this doesn’t work and there appears to be no way of reporting hackers or their exploits and as soon as a fix is make they start on a new one.
Without dedicated servers with admins these players continually ruin the game for other players and against force more people to cease playing through frustration.

Result

The multi-player element of the game isn’t what I or thousands of other player expected compared to COD4, of course we are now the minority and aren’t the focus of developers like Infinity Ward. Very sad but true.

Champions Online : An open beta review

Posted in Gaming

champions_logoYou may know that I’m a player and fan of the City of Heroes/Villains franchise, yet I’ve always said if given the opportunity I’d try Champions online out.

One of the annoying elements about Planetside was that it had no rivals, the game didn’t have to fight  it was the only one of it’s kind, it stagnated due to this and the players suffered. The idea of more SuperHero themed MMOs in the world is a very appealing one to me as it encourages enhancement development of each game and of the whole genre.

I grabbed an open beta key from Fileplanet, who appear to be the hottest place for open betas at the moment, yet they have the slowest download queues in the world. Grrr.

Happily I set my download off before bed and it was ready when I woke up on Saturday, My chance had arrived and here are my thoughts on the game.

# This post may contain spoilers, cease reading you are avoiding them #
# Please remember this is Open beta and the game could change before launch #