Thursday, July 29, 2010

Missing Blogs

Did you hear about the MMO blogger who took a 3 week vacation?

He was too bold, and dragged the bartender with him.

Both Tobold and Larisa are on vacation. Makes me wish I could go somewhere for 3 weeks. Then I remembered, I live in America.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Menage a 3

Great story thread going on right now, starting here.

The plot.... facing an internet troll. Very funny revenge.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Megaman Universe

Capcom talked about Mega Man Universe at San Diego Comic-Con 2010. What we could get from the brief talk, is that Mega Man Universe is about the player experiencing Mega Man through what they perceive Mega Man to be.

The trailer, which is supposed to give the feeling of what the game will be about, had Mega Man, 8-bit Mega Man, Arther from Ghosts and Goblins, Ryu from Street Fighter, and even a Mega Man stylized after the American Box-art.

So I was thinking, it would be about playing Mega Man levels, but with different characters, as if Capcom got sucked into the Mega Man Universe. Other things of note, was an off-hand comment about characters from franchises outside of Capcom, and even User-generated characters. Overall a very vague concept, since we still don't know details, such as online, downloadable content, etc etc etc.

Also during the panel, since he was so vague he hinted that more Mega Man games would be coming out this following year (so up until Summer 2011 is what I think he meant), and he said that it was a Mega Man game that MANY people have been requesting.  The #1 requested Mega Man game is Mega Man Legends 3, and when he asked the crowd, what they thought the game would be, the crowd shouted back, MML3, and he smiled and said, "Thank you."

This is a very exciting time for Mega Man!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Looking at OnLive's pricing plan, is a bit annoying. The first few games, available, are sold at full price, but act as an extended rental. You pay $60 for Tom Clancy, to play it until July 2013. To keep playing the game, you have to keep paying the monthly access fee. Once you stop paying the fee, you lose the "rental", negating the value of the $60.

Other games, you can rent for $5-$9, and play 3-5 days, before the rental lapses, but you can rent again and pick up where you left off. In this case, you would end up paying, $42 to play  Batman: Arkham Asylum for 30 days, and that is not including the access fee.

The prices for the games are at different levels, and there is no standard that is easily perceived (at least not by me).

All together, this makes OnLive cost TOO much, for not enough of a service. There are too many restrictions on how you can connect to play the games (no Wi-Fi, no Linux). Though the idea for the service is incredible, and footage of comparison between running a game locally and on OnLive has been posted on youtube, with good results, I just don't see the current pricing model as usable for those who are really trying to save money on gaming by not purchasing a good PC.

In the end, the pricing is so harsh, that it is cheaper to invest in the $1000 PC, and just keep your eye on STEAM sales.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Art of Casual

Being a casual gamer is much like being a casual hobbyist. Those who follow it with a passion, gaze down on you in disdain, and those who don't understand the hobby, think it a waste of time.

But in all honesty, how much of a hobby is gaming? Is TV watching a hobby?

The concern comes from the fact that games are moving from challenge, to easy for everyone. When the only difference between beating or losing a game is time investment and not skill, what makes that a hobby as opposed to just mindless entertainment?

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it either, I'm simply saying that it can no longer be defined as a game. There is no challenge, no discovery... nothing to make it worth anything other than waste time and relax.

Many people out there are currently thinking, "But Pangoria, when I come home from my busy job, I don't WANT to think. I want to veg with my favorite game."

What I want to say to every casual player right now that is not performing in the top 1% of the game's raid scene, you are not playing a game. You are enjoying interactive media.

I think we need to really get away from calling everything that has graphics and a controller of some sort a game. It implies skill and challenge to call it a game.

Now breathe deeply before you start ranting or passing my statements off as elitist. I'm looking at it as someone who likes the mindlessness.

I had a recent conversation that has been playing around in my head for awhile. It was about an unmentionable MMO, and how it was useless. I paraphrase, "There is no challenge, it requires active time investment taking away from interacting with family, and its "end game" amounts to nothing more than either yelling at people to do something, or following someone's yelling."

After reaching level 80, we found ourselves bored. We would reroll, and play together, challenging ourselves, making restrictions on our game play.  Doing instances with only the two of us. But in the end, we got just as bored as before.

Again I paraphrase, "At least when I'm watching TV, I can just listen to it in the background while I play a game with my son. Or I can cook while I do it, or any number of things. Even then, the shows I watch, I end up learning something from them. LIke CSI, I learned that smiling helps suppress the gag reflex, and that works."

So I brought up the point that the unmentionable MMO had spreadsheet to maximize information, and stats studying, the math involved by those who did it, surely had value!

Again, I paraphrase the response, "I remember doing statistics class, and the teacher handed out baseball cards, and we did all sorts of calculations based on it. We could see why some players were good, because of the numbers." And after some conversation they continued, "But the numbers on the card were real numbers, those players actually did those things. It wasn't just fantasy."

So somehow, because it wasn't make believe, it had more merit. I compared a gamer to a golfer. Saying there were both just as likely to skip work to play their choice of hobby. The answer I got was, "Yeah, but they guy who is skipping to play golf, is probably playing with his Boss."

So a true gamer, is still viewed lowly by people, but the casual interactive media consumer? Thanks to iPod touch, and iPhones, and Android phones, we are going to start seeing an acceptance of those who enjoy interactive media.

Us Gamers though, will still be viewed as playing make believe.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

State of the Game: July 20

Just a quick link to Champions Online, State of the Game address.  Cool stuff in the horizon!

Some cool things are an updated Ren Center, and new costume options (coming free with the update).

Escalating Plot

I don't know why, but sometimes as I read stories, they seem to escalate to levels beyond what I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for. Sometimes when reading a story, I get to a point where I just can no longer stand to read the story.

An opposing family is super rich and has infinite resources and leads. Another is a mafia style family and is killing collateral supporting cast, and the main characters are mostly clueless about it. Suddenly, the wrong people are too far away, bombs are being set in the house, a ninja breaks in, and the main character is getting set up for a crime he didn't commit, and there are relationship troubles to boot!

Somehow, having all that happen at once is just too much, and a perfectly good story is suddenly a wallbanger. This recently happened as I was reading what before the breaking point was one of the best Ranma 1/2 fanfictions, Careful Destiny.

Reading as far as I did, to the last written chapter, I can see why the author could no longer write for that story. It just reached a point of no return, and short of going back and fixing it, there was nothing he could do.

Alea iacta est. The die was cast. This is the biggest problem with publishing online. People see what you already put up, and unless you can allow yourself to rewrite, if you reach the wallbang moment, you are pretty much SOL. You lose your readers. Now, this can happen in print published materials as well, but there is usually so much refinement going on there, and a completed story, that either a wallbang moment is written out, or the reader muscles through it, since they know they have a definite end approaching.

So how can this be avoided while still increasing tension? I say limit what is causing tension down to one main issue and a small problem. Solve small problems on the way to solving a bigger problem. Maybe not all problems are solved, and are put off for later (allowing for sequels, or for a payoff down the line), but throwing too many problems at once without it being a proper climactic point in a story is too much, and even then it might overwhelm the reader.

I think people should look at their favorite tv shows and write out the plot. Follow the rising action, the falling action, the plot threads, the hints leading to other things. Write it out, as if you were recreating the manuscript from viewing the show. Now read through it and identify what is going on with a critical eye.

I've done this to a few genres and I've found myself improve each time. It is highly recommended.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Gamer Tag

What does it mean to be a gamer?

Despite traditionally implying that you played D&D and Warhammer, it usually now focuses on anyone who plays video games. It also includes forms of interactive media that can not be defined as a game.

But does playing a game really make you a gamer? Is it about time investment? Or is it specifically a label applied to those who play only certain games?

Consider that many people have run across situations where they are viewed as a gamer and are looked down upon, by others who play video games (but of a different nature). Here is a quote from a comment to Tobold's post made by Merlot Darksun:

"The people I know who laugh at me for playing a computer game generally waste the same amount of time watching brain-dead reality TV. I even know people with Xboxes and 360s who sneer at me. The irony is lost on them. They associate fantasy and role-playing with social ineptness, a lack of friends, and general life failure without recognising any comparisons with their own situation. The also see online gaming as all-consuming while considering their own interests to be in balance with a grown-up lifestyle."

In that quote we see derision based on game type, choice of platform, and perceived time investment.

This implies that people who play Facebook games (day and night and even at work) as well as iPhone games (or apps, as they are usually more in the realm of interactive media than a real game), do not view themselves as no-life gamers, regardless of the time investment, because they don't perceive the time investment as being the same.

Let us not forget platform.

With all that in mind, we can establish that being a "gamer" is something that is looked down upon in our society currently, and will most likely continue to be so, for a few more generations.

I was amazed to see how many people in comments look down on golfers. I imagine there are many people out there who have bosses who play golf, and who look down on those who play video games. Regardless of the fact that those same bosses will leave work early to play golf.

In my job, many people left work early to watch the world cup. Yet those same people look down at playing video games as something childish.

So is this evidence of something else? Of perhaps justifying your choice of hobby or pass-time?

If so acceptance will take even longer, but will eventually reach the same views as golf, and television watching have now. Which implies that a gamer will always be looked down upon, but eventually will not be seen as a liability to the company.

I leave this one final quote from a comment from Tobold's post, made by Sam:

"I've read several articles where HR proffessionals have stated they won't hire gamers because they skip work to game. I don't think it's any worse than those that call in sick to watch a Football game, or any other reason people call in sick. (except being actually sick of course) but its percieved as worse by the culture."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Champions - More Fun than Before

Time is passing, and Champions Online is becoming more and more fun. Now, I still don't play as often as I'd like (with having to use my wife's computer and all, since it doesn't run will on Linux, and even if it did I'm down to only 1gb of RAM), and so my highest level toon is 18 (about to hit 19). One good thing about this experience, is that I got to try out the Serpent expansion zone on a low level hero.

Now to get to it, I had to talk to an UNTIL agent over by the Helicopter that takes you to the Desert and Canada. He gives you a mission to go visit UNTIL headquarters. Once there, I got the mission to go to the Jungle in Africa, and I went to a helicopter inside UNTIL HQ, and that took me to the new zone.

The first zone there is pretty small. I did a few steps of the mission, nothing out of the ordinary. I was pretty much by myself, since I imagine many people are higher level than me, or haven't figured out how to get there.

Aside from a  new zone to explore, the game is becoming more fun as I tweak the UI, and get accustomed to navigating the world. The AH has an icon on the map now (which I might have pointed out before), and searching for an item is easier.

My favorite thing is how an auction can stay in there indefinitely. Often times, I'll post several things and come back a couple of weeks later to find everything sold. When you log in, you get your money automatically, and you can even check your mail from the website, to know if you have money coming.

I like the website integration, in that I can mail someone from outside the game, and they get the message in the game.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Unnecessary Ranma

Wrote a fanfic. This was mostly done as a writing exercise. Posted up on For those interested in reading it, just know that it is NSFW, and not for the kiddies.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guild Wars 2 - Death

Interesting article about death over here.

A good read, and got me thinking about other games I really like, PoP: Sands of Time, Unreal Tournament, etc., where death is the penalty already, and the sooner you get back into the game, the more fun you have.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Small Voice

Final Edit: I'm done with this, nothing is going to change. Good bye Blizzard games, I refuse to sheep. 

Final Edit huh? Here comes another. They stepped back from doing real name in forums. As linked by Penny Arcade, here. But, 3rd paragraph clearly shoes that this is not the last of the shenanigans coming from RealID and  Keep your ear to the ground kiddies. For now, they, listened...

I know, that when it comes to the "blogosphere" I am a small voice in a loud din.  I know, that what I say here and now will not affect many people.  But because of what Blizzard/Activision has decided about Real ID, I am making this my last post about World of Warcraft.  I will not be tagging this post, and I will be deleting previous posts.

This is a small protest, I know, but I hope that others follow suit somehow.

Edit: Thank you Larisa for the comment, I appreciate it.  Thank you Tobold for the Link, I appreciate the support. I'm glad that both your blogs touch on things deeper than just WoW news this/that. Which will keep me coming back for more. Thank you both again.

Looking at what is coming with Real ID, I'm going to have to keep an ear to the ground, but from my rough figures of possible people who will actually quit WoW over this, is probably about a penny to every $10 that Blizzard/Activision makes, if that.

In the end, it means that me and two of my best friends are never playing WoW again.  I know this for sure. If 3 are never going back, that probably means more will follow suit.

I will be updating this post as things come up, I figure it best to keep everything together, so this will see many edits in the future.

Edit: More comments, thanks guys.  I was not aware that I had been linked to by (Daily Grind). Funny, getting a major link up like that, as I'm swearing off WoW, I feel real ironic and such.

I'm reading reports that are flip-flopping whether Blizzard themselves are going to be posting their real names or not (if you aren't going to do it, then why should we? comes to mind). Makes you wonder how long they actually thought about this.

Also the discussion over at the Infamous Inn is incredible right now.
Also found this.

Edit: Some of you may be choosing to quit WoW. Reading this, may help you understand it when you suddenly start playing it again later. If you don't feel like reading it, just know this suggestion: If you don't want to start playing again, the best thing to do, is to not play it when you get the itch for it.

Edit: I realize most people won't quit WoW over RealID. Tobold and Gevlon both have excellent guides to disabling RealID. This still won't prevent your name from showing up in forums (more than likely the parent's name will show up for the kids account), and from everything I've read, SC2 and D3 will allow you to play as a screen name instead of having to integrate with Facebook.

Here's the deal though, for those who don't have a problem, or for those already on facebook. You install the game, and click a button. The game "facebook connects" and finds people you are friends with on facebook who also pressed the same button. This is very similar to all the facebook games that spam your wall, so those on facebook will understand what is going on here.

Now if you don't do that, you won't be using RealID, you can make a screen name, and play as that.

For those already on Facebook, who's friend's list is full of acquaintances, this is a perfectly logical concept. For me, I only have 3 acquaintances on my facebook. Everyone else I know personally.

I can see how they thought that people would like these features, but I think they should have worked harder on making RealID its own thing, with tiered privacy settings, so that it would be a REAL social networking tool, and had the facebook integration as an "add-on". Instead, RealID is the most open social platform I have ever seen, and it is riding piggyback on Facebook.

Tobold made an excellent suggestion on his blog. He said, and I paraphrase, Quit WoW, cancel your subscription, state the reason as RealID, and then don't play for a couple of months and enjoy the sun. You can come back later and reactivate your account with no real concern for having lost anything.

Try it, you might find that you don't even want to come back, or you might return and enjoy the game more. Eitherway, if (and this is a dream I know) 6 million people stopped playing WoW for two months, Blizzard/Activision would get a hint that something is wrong with their idea.

Edit: RealID now mandatory for in-game chat. (

It is not even out yet, and the effect is spreading. If you are a parent, I imagine that your name will appear instead of your child's name. But for the "smart" adults who turned off RealID on their accounts, their own name will show up, since they are the "parents".  There seems to be no chance of playing SC2 or D3 without revealing your real name then....

Edit: First of all, Hatch has a wonderful write-up about this whole thing.

Secondly from Saithir's pointing out: All posts in the future on the new forum systems will be an opt-in choice and ample warning will be given that you're posting with your real first and last name.
and later
You will be able to set up Parental Controls to disallow a minor from posting.

RealID will prevent the minor from posting, which means they will get a different message than what people who have RealID active.

@Mike: I haven't been able to officially find that quote, and Dwism is saying, and now for the real post, so that might be fake. I was really tired when I made that link.  I'll be striking that out until I can find the quote.

Another interesting link from Broken Toys, collects many good quotes.

Also, Wallstreet Journal.

Finally, South Korean Law responsible?

Edit: Thanks to Copra for the link here.