Tag Archives: video games

D&D Online Now Free

While I’m doing my best to avoid even casual video games, I recently discovered that the D&D MMORPG is now free. Apparently, they make money by selling optional equipment, characters, etc.. It sounds like they’re allowing you to pay cash for game gold, which of course you also earn in game. It’s 3.5 based, so all that knowledge (assuming you haven’t forgotten it all after moving to 4.0) won’t go to waste.

The best part is that by selling directly to gamers, it should cut down on Chinese prisoner gold miners. I know Blizzard is too greedy to cut off China, home to an estimated 80% of their gold farmers, but you’d think by now they’d set up servers for US only players, verified by credit card ZIP code and IP (with no proxies allowed). I hear it’s gotten so bad you need an addon to strip out the gold adverts in the chat stream…

Periodic Table of Game Controllers

This brings me back – way back. From the chart below, we had an Atari 2600 (first the Sears clone, then the really slim Atari version), Pong, Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, and Sega Genesis. I’m not sure why they list the Commie 64 when it it used the same Atari joysticks as the 2600, but then neglect the analog joysticks of the Apple II. I also had a cool analog stick for my Amiga.

But the real wow moments are from remembering those one-off systems that my friends had, like Intellivision and the Odyssey2. Or systems that looked so cool in the commercials, like Colecovision and Vectrex (I was a big Tempest fan, and a lot of Vectrex games looked like Tempest).

And then there were the consoles that came later, like the Turbo Grafx 16, Philips CD-I, and of course, the 3DO. I remember the 3DO was supposed to change the industry with it’s cutting edge technology and open licensing model (anyone could build one, as long as they licensed the design). Instead, it crashed and burned.

Enjoy your trip to gaming’s past:

Periodic Table of Controllers

Street Fighter IV Fight Sticks (and X-Arcade Modding)

This past weekend I got to play Street Fighter IV on an Xbox 360. I only played two matches before deciding I must get this for my PS3. It also seemed like a good time get my X-Arcade stick out of hiding for this. For some ridiculous reason, though, I thought I’d see how the old stick stacks up against the new crop coming out. I learned a lot and I’m sharing it here before I forget it all.

The following is a summary of the sticks to buy for fighting games and the parts to use to mod/upgrade your X-Arcade stick for SF4. At the end, I’ll list any references that I don’t link in-line.
Continue reading Street Fighter IV Fight Sticks (and X-Arcade Modding)

Common Sense Ratings

Noticed something new on Netflix: a rating that wasn’t from the MPAA. Turns out it’s from an organization called Common Sense Media. It strives to do what Roger Ebert has been doing for years – let parents know when the MPAA got it wrong. However, it goes beyond movies into TV and video games, and goes beyond covering sex and violence into areas like consumerism. It also seems to stress – gasp – talking to your kids about how they should think about what they’re watching.

Sadly, this will probably go completely unnoticed by the parents who need it most. Like that couple complaining that the “free under 3” policy doesn’t apply to R-rated movies. Like the Exorcist. And yes, that’s a true story. We are doomed.

Metal Gear Solid PS3 Bundle

It looks like I may finally get my PS3 in less than a month. I was waiting around for the rumored 120GB version, since the 80GB is out of production. Well, I’ve decided I won’t wait past June 12th, when the MGS PS3 Bundle comes out. It will have:

The whole thing is $500, so it’s like you get the upgraded controller and video game for free; that’s probably a $100 value. I will be putting that towards an extra controller and, if I feel like spending ridiculous money on (what most would call) a minor convenience, the infrared to bluetooth converter and the Harmony One remote.1

  1. I really love my Universal Automator, but there seems to be no way to support the IR2BT. []

Age of Conan (on my Mac Pro)

I was not expecting AoC [ Amazon ] to live up to the hype, but it did.

I was not expecting it to be so gorgeous, and not just because you can see boobies. The youtube clips don’t do this game justice.

I was expecting it to be buggy and to have that “new game” feel, but the content I have seen so far is kicking butt. I have not yet gotten stuck, had a buggy quest, or had the game crash.

I was not expecting AoC to run as smoothly as it did, considering I am playing it on a Mac using Bootcamp, but the only thing limiting it is the steaming load that is Windows XP. I have 8 cores and 16gb of ram running on a 64 bit bus, most of which just sits there unused. I went with a slower processor and dumped the savings into upgrading the machine, but I have never used more than 35% of the CPU. The 8800GT is doing all the work, and all I can say is WOW (no, not WoW, not anything like WoW).

The fighting mechanics are still growing on me. I was one of those rare people that will admit to liking Oblivion, especially compared to the click on target mash buttons lameness that most classes in WoW utilize (sure, in raids they are now forcing you to move around to avoid hot lava, but the only reason this is hard is because many people don’t have the skills to actually watch their cast bar AND the screen). So far I have only played a barbarian, and the casting time for longer combo moves seems a bit off. Many times I think I initiated a combo, but my toon is just standing there getting beat on. Finally, the combo will pop up, and like some tard at the fair playing whack-a-mole, I excitedly mash the buttons in the order shown. Sure, I could have gone with the dance dance revolution comparison, but that would give away my winning idea of using a dance mat for controlling my toon!

Things I am not digging as part of the Early Access include the craptacular server maintenance schedules and lack of voice acting for the quests past the starting area, but maybe those will be fixed with the official launch. Of course, they are european, and expecting even half-assed customer support would be purely naive. Don’t believe me? Go try to find their phone support number…. nope, they don’t have one. Hopefully they can make up for it with adequate online GM support.

Should Blizzard be worried? Yes, they should. Not because everyone will be leaving WoW to play AoC,though some will, just for something new to do. Personally, I am not yet to the point where I am hooked, and I fully expect to go back to WoW some time before the next expansion. AoC may just delay my return for a few months. The real reason Bizzard should be worried though is that a bunch of weird Norwegians showed that WoW did not set the bar too high, and they are no longer the only real option for people wanting to get their MMO on. Two days ago I was still resigned to WoW being the best option for the foreseeable future, but now I can see that providing them competition is not only possible, but likely. This is good for gaming in general, and I look forward to seeing how the competition drives the genre in the future.

Still Hating Sony

So I want a Blu-Ray player, and the PS3 appeared to be the logical choice. After considering the setup and looking at the features, I’m not so sure.

The house where I’m staying has the TV (a 70″ Sony LCD rear projection) set into the wall. The A/V components are above it on a shelf also set into the wall; it’s a sort of cubby hole. There is a hole between the components and the TV where wires are fed. It’s the kind of setup that, when you have to modify the wiring, you start by staring at the system for five minutes, mutter “Fuck me,” and then try to find a way to not do that.

I thought I had accomplished that. There’s an existing DVD player, and it’s connected with component cables, so it thought I could just do a drop in replacement with the PS3.

Not so fast. The PS3 does not have direct component out. It has a proprietary analog A/V connection, which forces you to buy a special cable for $20. You can’t just use your existing cables and plug them right in. If you’re in my situation, or the cable is too short (which it might be since they don’t tell you how long it is!), you need a component video coupler. This is a set of 3 RCA female-to-female connectors, known amongst electrical engineers as a lesbian 3-way adapter. Luckily, it’s only $4 at Radio Shack. So I gotta shell out another $24 bucks I shouldn’t need to, but I can live with that.

What I can’t live with is the PS3 Blu-Ray remote. It’s Bluetooth, not infrared. Yes, this means you don’t need need to point it at the console – but who isn’t trained to do that anyway? I already shelled out $160 for a Universal Automator remote with macros, volume punch through, etc. The BR remote isn’t even back-lit. And there’s no one-touch power off, meaning that even if it did have infrared support, you couldn’t use macros to turn it off.

So as much as it pains me, I think I’m going to have to pass on the PS3 and go with a straight up BD player. Hopefully they have some that fully support BD-J. For me, that was the big selling point for the PS3. Of course, the games wouldn’t hurt, assuming it gets some good ones.

PS2 Outsells PS3 Outsells Xbox 360

I frequently have to adjust my assumptions. Everyone knows the Wii is the top console these days, but it always amazes me to hear that the PS2 is next in line. Sony sold 352,000 units in February alone! Versus 281K for the PS3 and 255K for the 360. And the Nintendo DS outsells everything at 588K units last month. The #1 game was Devil May Cry 4, which I’d never even heard of – not even 1-3. I’m not a console gamer, but I figured I’d at least hear of the best selling game in the market. I think it’s time I a start midlife crisis.