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8:54 PM on 06.30.2008  

The Start of the Affair : Ratchet and Clank

Picking games to play with your wife is a delicate operation. There are many crucial factors to weigh : do we both think the game would be fun? Do I think I’ll enjoy it? Do I think she’ll enjoy it? Will it be too hard?

I don’t know that I’ve ever picked a really great game that we both liked. But one time about five years ago I at least picked a game that I really liked.



Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank was an unusual pick for us. It was not an RTS or an FPS (my staples then and now) or an RPG or straight platformer (my wife’s favorites). But my wife and I saw a piece on G4 about the game before it was released, as well as the many amusing commercials, and we both said “I’d play it”, so there we were.

I was immediately stupefied by the game and I’ve loved the series ever since. Not only were the big things in the game great – the many varieties of base gameplay, the weapons, the graphics – but the small things were also great. The mini-games were tons of fun, and I had a blast gathering all the skill points and golden bolts after I beat the game the first time. The story was so-so but it was generally humorous. The difficulty level was perfect for me and my wife – hard but achievable.

There’s no greater honor I can bestow on a game than completing it – I have had probably 200 games during my life and I’ve beaten maybe 15. I’ve actually beaten every Ratchet and Clank game I own multiple times, including all the extras. Not a big deal for your average gamer, but a huge deal for me.

The awesomeness of the game is overwhelming me, so let us resort to base enumeration.

Ten Things I Loved About Ratchet And Clank

10. The Gadgets

Ratchet and Clank always had neat gadgets to collect that both advanced the story line and made the game easier. It’s hard to pick a favorite but the neatest was probably the Hydro-Pack, that let you move quickly underwater. It makes you think “Why does every other game in the world make me suffer when I’m underwater?”

9. The Characters and The Enemies

Ratchet and Clank are fun (and funny) characters although in the first game they annoyingly bicker a lot. There’s also Captain Qwark, a celebrity superhero who’s humorous failures provide much of the impetus behind the plot. The enemies are smart and memorable and some of them even fight each other – I don’t know why I love enemies beating the crap out of other but I do.

8. The Levels



Big, beautiful, and well-designed. Every time you complete a branch of a level you discover that you are back at your ship, so the game has practically no backtracking. There are a large varieties of settings for the levels : there are levels in cities, in jungles, underwater, on spaceships, on space stations, in deserts, and even a level in a store. And there are just different types of levels : in some you race against time, some are puzzles, in some there are ongoing battles between NPCs. Some are heavy on platforming, others are heavy on action.

7. The Humor

It’s not incredibly funny, but it’s probably the first game that made me laugh (intentionally).

6. The Collectibles

Earning skill points and gold bolts sustained me when I’d already beaten the game twice.

5. The Many Varieties of Base Gameplay



It seems like every level in the game gave you some twist on the basic action-platformer, which was fun on its own. Some levels would see you without Clank, some (Pikmin-ish) levels without Ratchet. Sometimes you would use a grapple gun to swing through a level, sometimes you would use grind boots to slide (on a rail) through a level. There were levels you swam through, with the help of your trusty hydro-pack which propelled you quickly through the water. There were arenas where you fought giant robots with giant Clank (with Ratchet humorously strapped to your back). There were shooting levels where you manned a giant stationary gun. I’m sure I’m missing something. There’s just so much variety in gameplay mechanics and every one executed well.

4. The Mini-Games



The best varieties of base gameplay were fleshed out into their own mini-games, with arenas, racetracks, and space battles that you could revisit for fame, fortune, and fun.

3. The Action Platforming

Just the very base gameplay – the thing you do most of the time in the game – worked really well. It’s great that all the extras are fun, but a great game has to have a great basic conflict mechanic and Ratchet and Clank had it.

2. The RYNO



One gameplay mechanic that I loved (and so did Insomniac, it’s repeated in subsequent games) is the super-expensive, ultra-powerful weapon. The idea is that you can optionally spend a ton of time collecting bolts for the “ultimate weapon”. And it is truly a ton of time – probably a quarter to a half of the time of the entire rest of the game.

In the first game the RYNO (Rip You a New One) is the super weapon. It is just really cool and incredibly powerful. It fires multiple rockets that lock on individual targets and destroy almost any enemy. When you kill the final boss with the RYNO you will go through, IIRC, around nine of the fifty rounds the gun holds.

It’s just a great idea because it’s a blast to have this God Mode in the game, but the weapon is such a difficult acquisition that you’ll probably beat the game once before you ever get it.

1. The Weapons

The RYNO is king of the many Ratchet and Clank weapons and almost all of them are great. it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’m rather fond of the Suck Cannon, the Glove of Doom (releases helpful, deadly robots), and the Morph-O-Ray, which turns your enemies into chickens. There’s also a single upgrades for every weapon but the Ryno to turn them into the “Gold Weapons”, which do more damage and have more features.

Conclusion

Five years later I still love all these games. After the first, Insomniac released successors in breakneck fashion, releasing a new game every year. The second game, “Going Commando”, was the best, the later games adopting gimmicks that didn’t really pan out.

As for me, I still don’t have a PS3. I have, however, informed the wife that it will be my next big purchase. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but I’m totally willing to blow 500 bucks on the fifth Ratchet and Clank game.

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6:55 PM on 06.24.2008  

For Ten Cents a Day You Can Prevent Gamer's Block

So far this is my third night in a row with no games. I don't know what to do, but nothing is inspiring me to play. It does remind me of my twice-a-decade resolution to quit video games for a week to prove that I can. I don't twitch or have convulsions or anything but I always quit after a day, because without games I just spend my spare time staring into space, or something even less worthwhile (tv).

So I've spent the last three nights mostly just reading about Warhammer Online. I like Warhammer Alliance and the Waaugh Blogh. The first is a forum, the second is (shocker) a blog. Amusingly, it's one of about five Warhammer blogs that somehow have "Waaaugh" in the title.

For some reason I don't quite understand (although possibly because almost nobody is playing the game yet) Warhammer blogs vastly exceed the quality and quantity of WoW blogs. I was always scrounging around for them but never found one I liked -- or that was active.


So let's get down to business, shall we?

Games I'm Currently Not Playing

Company of Heroes (Just Purchased) -- disappointed that it's not as cool as DoW

Dawn of War -- disappointed that CoH isn't as cool as it is.

Team Fortress 2 -- it's been like five months, I'm out of practice and I have no achievements (not even the medic achievements)

Half-Life Source -- vowed to play all the way through before I played HL2. I vowed too soon.

HL2 And Friends -- waiting to finish HL.

Bioshock -- finished first act. All survival-horrored out.

WoW -- subscription lapsed, in no mood for WoW right now

Outpost Kaloki X -- Yes, I've been back to the XBLA well already. The thought of getting all the achievements for this game (20 hours of work for 20 achievement points yaay) does not thrill me, plus my 360 is sputtering. It needs to work or die, the indecision is killing me.

Obviously that's not a complete list of games I'm not playing right now. What are y'all not playing?

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6:08 AM on 06.18.2008  

Destructoid WAR (Warhammer) Roll Call

So, we need to make a Destructoid WAR guild. So who's planning on playing, and what ruleset/realm do you want to play?


(COMING IN 2011, 40K MMO DESTRUCTOID CHAPTER RECRUITMENT)

Incidentally, the rulesets at the moment are:

Core PvP (RvR) in RvR zones only
Open PvP in RvR zones and PvE zones

The realms (factions), as you hopefully already know, are order and chaos.

Personally, I'm torn on faction -- I'd like to be a dwarf, so part of me leans order, but I also like to be outnumbered, so that part of me leans chaos.

For ruleset I'm not torn -- Core all the way. I'm actually disappointed that they decided to offer an "open" ruleset because it fragments the player base and (ala WoW) is just going to lead to enormous amounts of trash-talking.

Why Core? Well, I play the game to PvP and Core (or PvE/Normal in WoW) gives you more time to PvP. How so? Well, because when you say "I'm going to PvE" you can sit down for an hour and PvE, then finish and PvP.

On PvP servers, when you say "I'm going to PvE", you actually enter this unfun, bastardized PvE-PvP hybrid where you get nothing done. So on a PvP server you actually spend more time doing PvE than on a PvE server.

Plus, while PvP zones are designed to make PvP fun (objectives and such), in PvE zones there are only quests, so what the f*** are your PvP objectives? "Hey, gank that guy so he can't complete his quest and has to log!" "Hey, help me not get ganked so I can finish my quest!" Pointless, Boring and Stupid.

So how are y'all planning to roll?

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6:46 PM on 06.02.2008  

Some Thoughts on Birdmen and the Casual Fallacy

Someone named Sean Maelstrom (possibly not a real name) wrote a pretty neat essay on gaming called Birdmen and the Casual Fallacy here. I'm always up for serious discussions on gaming and I highly suggest it.

It's interesting, well-written, and mostly serious. The essay makes some good points but mostly misses the mark.

Ideas I agree with

1. old-school video games are today's "Casual Games".
For all the haters ... if you played video games before 1990 you were once a casual gamer.

2. Casual games eventually produce more hardcore gamers
Star Wars, scifi-lite if it's science fiction at all, produces more sci-fi fans. My college comp sci professors hated video games but most of my fellow students came to computers for games (etc.)

3. Blizzard and Nintendo (as developers) are something special in the gaming industry.
Nobody makes consistent blockbusters like these two developers.

4. development methods matter
Most gamers discuss only creativity in big ideas -- having a good game means executing small ideas as well.

Ideas I didn't agree with

1. 95% of the Game Industry are worthless copycats that never compare to the original
This misses two important points. First, a good genre can contain more than one game -- nearly every modern game genre is less than twenty years old and most of them began with one distinguished entry.

Second, one of his water-walking examples, Blizzard, generally does not innovate on a large scale. They take existing ideas, then execute the sh** out of them until all that's left is win.

In fact, I was a little put-out that he didn't compare Nintendo and Blizzard more, and talk about why two developers with vastly different approaches were both so successful.

2. Casual Games should really be called "Downmarket Games"
If you write a serious article about games you must provide a new name for something with a serviceable old name that everybody already knows. It's a law or something.

3. Great Companies Make Great Games And Then There's Everybody Else
Nintendo and Blizzard are juggernauts and make great games -- but there are plenty of smaller, "derivative" developers who make also great games.

You could probably name your own favorites, but Insomniac and Relic come to mind immediately for me. They don't make billions of dollars but they make fantastic games.

Besides, in the volatile world of development studios, I'd say that any game that gets you to the next one is a success.

4. Weird Hate of Specific Development Methods

Mr. Maelstrom really goes off on the Waterfall Model, on which he blames a panoply of woes. The Waterfall Method imagines project development as a sequential process, where requirements writing leads to design, which leads to code (etc.)

He says this leads to "samey" games, but misses how adherence to high-level requirements (or whatever the equivalent may be called) is so important in massive games. World of Warcraft is a fantastic game where a handful of (relatively inflexible) high level ideas govern not only the big mechanics in the world but permeate the small ones as well.

Anyway, I could go on and on about software development. If you haven't, I suggest reading that essay.

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7:59 PM on 06.01.2008  

Whereupon I Fill A Blog With Ten Things

10. Churchill, 9. Chamberlain, 8. DoW, 7. More DoW, 6. National Review on GTA IV, 5. OTRSPOD, 4. Iron Man, 3. Indy, 2. Bioshock, 1. ???

10. Reading Old Copies of Old History Books
10. I just finished Book One ("From War to War, 1919-1939") of The Gathering Storm, that Churchill book I mentioned previously. The book chronicles most of the mistakes after the first that helped cause the second, and ends the night before the Germans invaded Poland, starting World War II. Churchill is not yet part of the government, so takes his defense as his own responsibility ...

There were known to be twenty thousand organised German Nazis in England at this time, and it would only have been in accord with their procedure in other friendly countries that the outbreak of war should be preceded by a sharp prelude of sabotage and murder. I had at that time no official protection, and I did not wish to ask for any; but I thought myself sufficiently prominent to take precautions. I had enough information to convince me that Hitler recognised me as a foe. My former Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Thompson, was in retirement. I told him to come along and bring his pistol with him. I got out my own weapons, which were good. While one slept, the other watched. Thus nobody would have a walkover. In these hours I knew that if war came -- and who could doubt its coming? -- a major burden would fall upon me.

The next book starts on the first day of the war.

9. One more thing from the book

Neville Chamberlain often gets a bad rap, even among gamers. He deserves a certain amount of blame but I love this letter he wrote to Hitler shortly before the fighting began ...

It has been alleged that if His Majesty's Government had made their position more clear in 1914, the great catastrophe would have been avoided. Whether or not there is any force in that allegation, His Majesty's Government are resolved that on this occasion there shall be no tragic misunderstanding ... I'm sure you'll all want to read the whole thing

8. Dawn of War

I have fully fumigated and fustigated furiously for four fortnights but I cannot find a game to interest me. Well, OTRSPOD (MORE LATER) interested me for a few days. So it's back to the old faithful -- Dawn of War. Doing the Dark Crusade campaign again, only as Space Marines instead of Imperial Guard. I'm really bad at Space Marines and much better (still awful) as IG. So evidently IG are severely underpowered because I'm blowing through the campaign as SM on hard (not that hard).

You'd think that a game with nine races would be impossible to balance, and evidently you'd be correct.

7. Just when it appeared I had forgotten, More Dawn Of War

This is very, very old. But I had never seen it before. A nice little article on Gamasutra about Dawn of War and why it's not a great competitive game. Who responds but the lead developer on Dawn of War who, surprisingly, concurs :

The design philosophy of Dawn of War was aimed at making a more casual, more fun, less eSports RTS. I personally thought it was foolish to try and outdo Starcraft, because even if you make a better Starcraft, who cares because Starcraft is awesome and no substitute will do! I had no illusions that we could take away Blizzard's audience, I wanted us to find our own audience.

Pretty interesting. And smart. The Whole Article And Comment (Look for Jay Wilson's comment)

6. National Review on GTA IV

I like National Review (a American conservative bi-monthly) but they typically write very little (absolutely nothing) about games. So I was pleased to see a bit about GTA IV in the last issue :

... It is true that we'd rather see young people immersing themselves in the music of Bach or the drama of Shakespeare than in the shenanigans of Niko Bellic, but we are also reminded of noir novelist Mickey Spillane's response to critics who called his work garbage: "But it's good garbage."

LexisNexis Saves Me From Typing The Whole Thing

5. OTRSPOD, or Penny Arcade Adventures : On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

Good gameplay. Very funny. Fantastic writing from Mr. Holkins. I'm in much less interested in Art than Writing but I found the art quite fascinating as well.

More Please.

4. Iron Man

What is it about Comic Book Movies, that they can just crank great ones out like that? Iron Man just seems lame -- how can the movie be so good?

And when will they start making video games this good? And doesn't it just hurt, that after a hundred bad video-game based movies, that the one movie based on a board game (Clue) and the one movie based on an amusement park ride (Pirates of The Caribbean) are better than all video-game movies put together?

I guess the acting must help, or at least it can't hurt. Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges were in the movie. Jon Favreau directed -- no heavyweight, but Elf is a favorite of mine.

Of course, Mario Brothers had Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, and Katherine Hepburn as a Goomba (uncredited), and that didn't help.

More Please.

3. Indy

This is really long, so let's just agree that a hundred blogs the size of this one could not do the horror of this movie justice.

2. Bioshock

Was stoked about it, bought it, played through the first act, saved the Little Sisters (I'm such a sucker for being the Good Guy in games), then I kind of quit. It's great in every way except lacking that drug-like goodness that makes me finish games.

1. Juno and Spiderman

I watched Juno with the wife tonight. Cool movie. Bizarre but fun music. J.K. Simmons was Juno's dad -- he's also in one of the Law and Orders (shrink) and is Peter Parker's slimy but funny editor in the Spiderman movies.

Probably my favorite part in all the Spiderman movies is in the first when Green Goblin breaks into his office and threatens to kill the editor if he doesn't reveal the location of Spidey's "Pal" Peter Parker. Peter is right there, but even his totally slimy, completely amoral boss risks his life and says he has no idea who Parker is. I just love that the most morally bankrupt person in the movie (outside of the villains) is still truly heroic when push comes to shove.

If you read this far you deserve a prize. I can't believe I didn't get to The Venture Brothers.

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6:12 AM on 05.23.2008  

Quick Thoughts on That Indiana Jones Crystal Skull Thing

I'd like to write a richer, more full-bodied review at some point, but I just want to get this out of the way : the movie is comically bad.

(Before I trash the movie, keep in mind that at least one other Destructoidalite thought it was great.)

It was an absolute franchise-killer. It doesn't even compare to the badness of the Star Wars sequels or the Matrix sequels. You have to go back to Blues Brothers 2000 or X3: X-Men United to find movies that so thoroughly trashed a franchise. The new Indiana Jones movie took a great franchise and repeatedly slammed its hand in a car door, and then relieved itself on the franchise.

I remember when people first heard that X3 was going to be directed by Brett Ratner (of Rush Hour fame). They were like -- "Oh No, Not The Guy Who Did Rush Hour!" Well, the joke was on them -- if only X3 had been as good as a Rush Hour movie.

It's hard to decide on the worst part of the new Indiana Jones movie: it had everything. Cornball reminiscing. Cornball exposition. Cornball family reunions. The locations were less grand, the dungeons less booby-trapped and the enemies (Commies instead of Nazis) a thousand times less fun that what we've come to expect.

My family is out of town so I actually went to see Iron Man as well the day before. I liked it a lot at the time. Now it seems like it was the f****** Seven Samurai. I think Spiderman and Batman have taught us that to make a good comic-book movie you need this fantastic hero -- and Robert Downey Jr. is awesome.

Oh -- and get this. The Mozilla spellchecker has flagged "Spiderman" as misspelled but not "Batman".

Spellchecker guys are evidently shameless DC fanboys.

Also it has flagged "spellchecker".

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10:31 PM on 05.18.2008  

Two Long Overdue Acquisitions

Two nice pickups this weekend. One was released 10 months ago and I balked on the price. Another was released 55 years ago and I was familiar with it though it had long escaped my mind.

Behold



Bioshock I got for forty bucks. Seventeen actually, after a gift card.

The Churchill history of WWII I got from my grandfather-in-law. Was down for the weekend and he saw me reading them and (always eager to get rid of stuff) he gave them to me.

Always loved reading about world war II when I was a kid but was a little too young (and too internetless) to have heard of the Churchill books at the time. Just as well -- I'm deep in the first book and it is almost entirely about politics. Would have bored the life out of me when I was twelve but I find it pretty fascinating these days.

Favorite Part of The Books So Far

It's all the personal notes on the people -- "This was the last time I saw Herr von Ribbentrop before he was hanged." A German Rhodes Scholar who defended his homeland against Churchill at Oxford in the 30's was later found by his homeland to have a Jewish ancestor. Other Germans who dealt favorably with Churchill were murdered before and during the war. Churchill was in Germany in 1931 and Hitler sought an audience, but withdrew his invitation, insulted, after Churchill wondered to Hitler's aide why Hitler was after the Jews.

This is the most chilling though :

The British and French submission to the violations of the Treaties of Versailles and Locarno, involved in Hitler's seizure of the Rhineland, was a mortal blow to Wigram. "After the French Delegation had left," wrote his wife to me, "Ralph came back, and sat down in a corner of the room where he had never sat before, and said to me, 'War is now inevitable, and it will be the most terrible was there has ever been. I don't think I shall see it, but you will. Wait now for bombs on this little house.'** I was frightened at his words, and he went on, 'All my work these many years has been no use. I am a failure. I have failed to make the people here realize what is at stake. I am not strong enough, I suppose. I have not been able to make them understand. Winston has always, always understood, and he is strong and will go on to the end.' "

My friend never seemed to recover from this shock. He took it too much to heart. After all, one can always go on doing what one believes to be his duty, and running ever greater risks till knocked out. Wigram's profound comprehension reacted on his sensitive nature unduly. His untimely death in December, 1936, was an irreparable loss to the Foreign Office, and played its part in the miserable decline of our fortunes.

** It was actually smitten

I teared up a little when I read that.

Least Favorite Part of the Books So Far

I started reading the book while I was away and without internet, and am remembering my history salad days, and how hard it was to figure stuff out with no internet. Churchill's book is as much his account as a history and sometimes you get a little lost if you don't already know what happened (which I often do not).

Favorite part of the game

A little hard to say at this point. I like the hacking mini-game, I guess.

Least favorite part of the game so far

Security cameras are killing me. I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out where they are looking and when they can see me.

Also the "Nothing -- Nothing -- Nothing -- Ok Now There Are Five Guys Behind Me Hitting Me" gets a little old as well. Presumably I could sneak up on five crazy shouting psychotics at least as often as vice versa.

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8:04 PM on 05.14.2008  

OTRSPOD Out Next Week

So, like many of you (I hope) I've been looking forward to the Penny Arcade game for some time. It's set to be released this coming tuesday for whatever amount of microsoft points 20 bucks is (I do know that 1 Microsoft Point is equal to 1 Canadian Dollar). And it's going to be released for every platform imaginable :

XBox 360
Mac
Windows
Arcade
Linux
Virtual Boy
Neo Geo
Atari 2600
Atari 5200
PS3 (Coming This November!)
Sega Master System
Dreamcast
DS Virtual Boy
Typewriter
Watch
Teddy Ruxpin
Board
Phantasm
Prius
Nissan NGage
Nigeria
Spore
Lego

Next week, truly anybody with any modern system will be able to play On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. I've even heard the game will include unlockable famous game personalities, like Will Wright, Cliff Blezselhand and Jack Thompson. I'm going for the 360 version because I love achievements and my T-Rux is still at home.

I've always really liked the PA guys. I feel like they have some understanding of what makes a good game. Guess I'll find out.

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7:19 PM on 02.26.2008  

Tales of Survival : The Overgame Crisis of 2007

Consider which is worse, the sparrow of too many good video game releases, or the ferret of too few.

Confucius

I was frightened last fall. Frightened of all the upcoming video game releases. Too much that I had bad been waiting for for too long in too little time.

First there was the Orange Box. Forget Portal, HL2, HL2:1 and HL2:2, what about TF2? Id been waiting for six years for TF2. How can you not play a game youve waited for for six years?

Then there was Hellgate: London. Ive been a huge fan of Diablo forever and here comes the spiritual successor (I guess well wait another four years for the actual successor, eh?).

Oh yeah, then theres the Penny Arcade game. Again, Ive been a fan for five or six years.

And Warhammer : Age of Reckoning. Pretender to the WoW throne. Couldnt wait to play that. And Tabula Rasa been waiting years for that too.

Not to mention Bioshock, Mass Effect, Halo 3, and UT3.

How did I survive? How could anyone survive?

Orange Box Pre-ordered, played TF2 every night for about three months. Still havent played Portal, HL2 (etc.)
Hellgate: London Played for about three weeks. Game sucked, I quit.
PA Adventures Delayed
Warhammer Online Delayed
Tabula Rasa Became less enthralled, waiting for free demo
Bioshock As a long-time PC gamer (and console heretic) cant bring myself to spend $60 on a 20 hour game.
Mass Effect ditto
Halo 3 ditto, except its a ten hour game (I dont do online console multiplayer)
UT3 nobody seems to play, so whats the point

Humorously, Ive been playing WoW and Heavy Gear (XBLA) for the past six weeks or so. So whats your tale of survival?

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7:42 AM on 02.26.2008  

Spies in WoW : Gaming Fact or Political Troll?

Despite being interested in both politics and gaming, I always hate to see the two mixed together. Not only does politics destroy everything it touches, but politics is the religion of the elite. Facts matter only slightly in politics.

And so we have the latest incident, a report from the Director of National Intelligence on data mining. Since it is more a religious occurrence we should perhaps refer to it as a "miracle".

Ok, let's briefly examine the Destructoid article on the subject, since it is the most hilarious of all the articles I've read. Although, again, this isn't like a regular destructoid article that's based on fact, it is a religious document, an article of faith. A sermon. (http://www.destructoid.com/leroy-akbar-u-s-looking-for-terrorists-in-mmos-72145.phtml) Here we go :

Dubbed "The Reynard Project" ..., the Department of National Intelligence has broken the initiative into two stages. First, to analyze "the emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms in virtual worlds and gaming environments" claiming that "the cultural and behavioral norms of virtual worlds and gaming are generally unstudied", and second, should the collected data justify further action, to institute an automated system to track the actions of those playing games like World of Warcraft and report behavior they consider indicative of terroristic intent.

This is a real quote from the destructoid sermon. Can I get an AMEN! After reading it you were supposed to draw a crucifix on yourself or something. The section of the sermon in plain italics is actually true, and is based on the real government document (http://www.dni.gov/reports/data_mining_report_feb08.pdf).

Everything in bold, however, is a complete fabrication. First, as the report makes clear (but the destructoid sermon does not) this is being done based on Publicly Available Data. There is no spying or eavesdropping involved. Additionally, the second phase of this research project (yeah, the sermon forgot to mention that too) is not to create some weird automated system that watches you play WoW. The second phase is to ramp up into a full research project, since (again, as the government document makes clear) right now it is a just a small exploratory effort.

So what's so offensive about a research project looking at behaviors in virtual worlds? Evidently, not enough, or it could just be presented honestly, instead of being presented in ceremonial religious garb. Hallelujah!

That's really the best part of the sermon, the rest of it just kind of runs with the initial revelation. Another highlight for me was the mention of the "US Department of Intelligence" and the "US Department of National Intelligence", neither of which actually exist.

Oh, I'm sorry -- they do exist. Politics be Praised!

(Incidentally, I didn't originally intend to make fun of destructoid, I had just seen the wired article linked on the wow forums. But then I saw the destructoid article on this and it was just too good to pass up.)

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6:26 AM on 02.07.2008  

Gold Buying akin to prostitution

Runescapes content boss compares Gold Buying to Prostitution. At least in the sense that it is deeply intertwined with crime. Gold buying leads to credit card and keylogger scams. Id have to agree.

Ive always thought Gold Selling has to be an ideal way to launder money. Nobody really has an idea where the farmed gold came from it could have been farmed by people in any country in the world.

Anyway, since I hate RMT (Real Money Transfers) so much, lets go at the Lies of WoW Gold Buying.

Lie 1 : Everybody Does It
I dont. And honestly, every criminal and cheat in the world uses this dumb rationalization. In fact, Ive found that anybody who says Everybody Does X tends to do X. People in WoW who say Everybody Cheats are usually cheaters. People in WoW who say Everybody Buys Gold are usually Gold Buyers.

Lie 2 : It Doesnt Affect Anybody But Me
Gold Buying affects honest people adversely in four ways : first, the gold farming (by professional farmers) is disruptive to normal players who are just playing for fun. Second, it inflates the economy. Third, it gives gold buyers a big leg up in this inflated economy. Fourth, and probably most importantly, its really discouraging to players who dont buy gold to know that they have to compete against cheaters, and to know that weeks of hard work farming for a mount were avoided by other people for a few hundred bucks.

Lie 3 : Blizzard doesnt care
This is a red herring, and on top of that its wrong. The TOS says you are not allowed buy gold, so buying gold is cheating whether or not blizzard enforces the rule. And blizzard has enforced the rule -- they've banned thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of accounts for gold selling/buying. This was free money that they threw away because they dont want people buying and selling gold.

Lie 4 : I have a life and job, I need to be able to compete against those who dont
This is also a red herring, and also an ad hominem attack on people who don't buy gold. Why should having a life and job entitle you to anything? If having a life is so important, isnt that its own reward? When you interviewed for your job, did they say, Another fringe benefit of this job : its now morally ok to cheat in online games!

Nothing about your life can possibly making cheating right. As Jesus said (In South Park) : Cheating is Lying and Lying is Wrong.

Lie 5 : Buying Gold is Illegal
Ok, this is my little nit. Buying gold is immoral. It is also against the TOS. But the TOS is just a contract, it is not a law, a statute, or a regulation. By violating the TOS you are in breach of contract and Blizzard has the right to terminate the contract by deleting your account. But you are not breaking any laws, so gold buying (at least as far as the TOS goes) is not illegal.

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7:40 PM on 01.31.2008  

The Sophomore Slump: The Revenge of the WoWlog 2

After making it to twenty last week against all odds the wife and I fell into a slump this week and made only three or four levels. It reminds me of my favorite Guns-N-Roses song :

Knock Knock Knockin on Twenty-Fi-i-ive
Hey
Hey
Hey Hey Hey
Knock Knock Knockin on Twenty-Fi-i-ive

Why did we fail? Well, a lot of reasons. I made a PowerPoint. How do you embed a PowerPoint? Destructoid will always be a third-rate gaming website until community bloggers can embed PowerPoint presentations.

I decided to raise my rep and found out that gray quests now give full rep. Evidently that happened with 2.0, so since I didnt quit until 2.1 it means I wasnt paying much attention.

Speaking of not paying attention : until I rolled my character on Gilneas two weeks ago I had no idea that you could create horde and alliance chars on the same PvE server. The games been out for three years, Ive played for two of those, and I just had no idea.

We havent really felt the effects yet (on an established pvp server the ganking doesnt seem to start until level 30 or so) but I think after two years on lame PvP ruleset realms Im really going to like the PvE server.

PvP servers were a good idea but were just implemented terribly. They enjoy an exalted status on the forums and in the minds of their inhabitants, but I just dont see the point. Im looking forward to WAR which actually incorporates PvP into the game while allowing you to occasionally avoid it altogether. In stark contrast to WoW PvP servers where PvP is not incorporated into the game, and its difficult to avoid.

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