Minecraft and Its Glory

If you are still wondering why Minecraft has become so popular in the gaming world, then you must be able to try the game in order to experience it. Minecraft is a unique yet simple game developed by Markus Notch Persson under the company Mojang (which has been acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion).

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People were saying that this kind of game is for geeks or those people who dont want a challenge but, what other people might not know is that Minecraft is a huge gaming experience that gives you different game modes for you to choose from, and is actually quite complex and fun. You can try Minecraft for free and start seeing what this game has to offer.

The survival mode is the most common game mode played by its users, especially the younger age group. You have to eat in order to survive; you get haunted at night by skeletons, spiders as well as zombies. This is why having a shelter at night is very important if you want to survive the following day. You also have to craft your own tools, and your resources can be found all over the world especially if you do a lot of smashing the cubes.

Creative mode on the other hand is somewhat easier since all of the resources are ready in your inventory menu so no need to worry about smashing cubes and crafting tools. The monsters dont exist in this game mode as well so if you get scared of them, then the creative mode is for you. People who have a big imagination will get a lot of enjoyment from this game mode as well. You can check out the various user created worlds out there that if you need some ideas on what to build.

If you wanted to relax and get a different experience from gaming while expanding your imagination, then Minecraft is worth the try. After all, you have the option to play online and try out tons of different maps and custom made game modes. There are also mods, texture packs, and skins that you can install to further your gaming.

Disgusting Pigs

 

What is it about a counter that makes it seem like the perfect repository for your trash? I mean, do you do this at home? Just strew your garbage around willy nilly and not dispose of it properly? Just because that little area is not in our direct line of sight doesnt mean we didnt see you walking around the store with your coffee cup or soda can or whatever you had. We did notice and we will remember you.

We have a sodding bin behind the counter, if you ask us to throw something out for you – we will. Its not hard and its far nicer than customers having to look at other peoples garbage whilst paying for their games. I have half a mind to block off all counter areas except for directly in front of us – where you put your purchases. But then you disgusting pigs will probably just set them on top of the displays.

What is it about people going out into public that turns them into complete and utter messy pigs? They leave tables full of garbage after eating in establishments where trash bins are prominent and theres most definitely not tableside service or anyone to bus tables. They walk around stores and drop off their trash where it suits them – which is never a bin, of course! If you dont have a private butler following you around and cleaning up after you – then throw your bloody garbage out yourself! We are not paid to clean up after your dirty and disgusting waste.

How would you like it if I came over to your house and left garbage strewn about it? Candy wrappers, paper coffee cups, empty food containers. I bet a good sized lot of you would be livid and upset about having to clean up after me. I bet you keep your homes nicely cleaned and organised and do not leave trash scattered around. Why then, do you feel the need to make your rubish someone elses problem whilst in public? Were you brought up learning that littering is okay? Is there something wrong with your brain?

I know the rest of you probably live in homes that look like a dump and already have garbage strewn about. Either way, both types of you are exactly the same – disgusting pigs.

Bottlenecking of an Industry

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A while ago, it was announced that Rubies of Eventide, a semi independant MMOG (as in not backed by big publishers and not made by a well known development company) is closing it’s doors after only a short run at being live.

The announcement was made as a post on the Rubies of Eventide forums, by Mark Howe, CEO of Cyber Warrior. The reason for shutting down? Rapidly declining subscribers (806 as of 11/27/2003) and an overall displeased sentiment with the overall development of the game.

That’s fine and all, but that’s not what I want to talk about. This is the beginning of a new era people, and most people seem to be oblivious of it. Did you know, right now, this instant there are probably 100 MMOGs in ‘development’ and beyond a shadow of a doubt, thousands upon thousands in the ‘concept/design doc’ stages.

Since the smashing success of Everquest and Ultima Online, the MMOG industry has seemed like a sure fire way for the common game dev to own a gold house. Literally, nobody ever imagined the subscription model would be so successful. The numbers are pretty obvious to anybody who has added them up though. 400,000 subscribers * $15 USD p/month = “Ale, Whores, and Cristal for everybody! I’m buying!”

Yes. That is what people see MMOGs being. At least on a surface level. Beneath that there is certainly the dreamers who have dreamed of virtual fantasy worlds their entire life and now see chances to be involved in them. Great, what has the result of this been? Everybodies dog and grandma all dreaming about an MMOG design doc that is going to be the next Everquest.

In the beginning, this wasn’t really a big deal nor surprising. People started dreaming, some games managed to make it into development (Shadowbane/Rubies of Eventide/Neocron/Atriarch) while most others never saw the light of day. Those that made it into development then got to go through the trials and tribulation of release.

Now, some of these games are being released. Some of the games have even managed to be successful (Dark Age of Camelot and Anarchy Online come to mind). Others (WWIIO) not so much. The fact is though, in an industry worth as much money as the gaming/MMOG industry, this was never a realistic business model. All of the major companies agree that the MMOG subscription growth can only happen to fast. There is a limited percentage of new growth each year to draw new subscribers from. You think the major companies want to split those numbers, even slightly, between games such as Rubies of Eventide, Horizons, Wish, Lejendary Adventures, or what the hell other MMOG is struggling to surface? Hell no. While the more independant companies might be quite content to get five or ten thousand subscribers, that number doesn’t make a company such as Sony Online Entertainment, or Blizzard, jump with joy (to say the least).

At the same time, the larger companies aren’t interested in losing those people either. What’s the result? The answer is fairly simple. While it may have been realistic for a five or so guys to get together and make an independant MMOG with licensed technology that could compete graphically and content wise with some other MMOGs, there is simply no chance in hell the independant companies will be able to compete with the products that have 20 million dollars poured into them, several years of development time with teams upwards of 30 or 40 people.

One might ask why companies are doing this, when it’s realistic that an exceptional MMOG could still be made with 5 or 10 million dollars. Especially considering it will take that much longer with high subscriptions before repaying the initial investment. So why are we seeing these high risk, exceptionally expensive projects being worked on by the big boys?

Because my fine feathered friend, the bar is being raised, the industry is being bottlnecked. Let’s look at Rubies of Eventide as an example. Right now, with the meager offerings out there, Rubies of Eventide couldn’t keep afloat. Admittedly, design wise RoE was a travesty, but six years ago it probably would have done fine for itself. Fact is, seeing that the game is like a lousy version of EQ/UO, why would anybody spend an equal amount of money on playing a crappier version of either of those games? They wouldn’t, they’d just play the real thing.

A Tale in the Desert has managed to survive on the basis that there are no other games that offer what it does. Neocron is much the same. Anarchy Online when it came out also had the same thing. Dark Ages of Camelot offered full scale Realm vs Realm. Even WWIIO which is horrible is still around. Except now we are finally seeing the next generation of games getting ready to hit stores. When Everquest 2 hits stores, if they offer the best graphics, the best crafting, the best lore and the best content, who is going to play an independant, while innovative game that offers less?

Nobody, that’s who. Due to these impressively large scale projects, the smaller products won’t have a chance. Therefore they won’t be able to get funding, they won’t be able to get subscribers and they simply won’t be able to compete, no matter how innovative they are. The eventual future will leave the industry controlled by four or five companies that can afford the risk and the money to work on projects like this. Thousands of MMOG design docs may live on in peoples minds, but we won’t see a hundred titles in development. Personally, for the higher quality offerings that we are sure to recieve because of this, I’m not complaining.

Goodbye, Rubies of Eventide. The beginning of a new age is upon us.

Zelda Master Quest

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Despite the fact that many hardcore gamers out there are disappointed with the look of The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker, from the very first announcement of its release I have been stoked to hit up the latest installment of the now classic series.

When release date began to draw near I quickly made my way to the local software store to preorder a copy and ensure hours of antisocial bliss upon release day. However, much to my surprise and delight, I found out that simply for preordering The Windwaker I was entitled to a FREE copy of the new, high res, re-mastered version of The Ocarina of Time, AS WELL AS a free copy of the never before released Ocarina of Time Master Quest. Of course I was a bit dumbfounded and without words for a moment, but quickly regained myself from a state of schoolgirl giddiness and made sure I was clear upon the release date of the bonus Zelda installment.

Like any dedicated fan, I halted all academic efforts and made my way back to the store to pick up my copy. Once home, and in front of the bane to my existence, I mean Gamecube, I popped in the mini disk and fired it up. At first I was at debate with myself as to determine whether or not I should retrace my steps and play through the original Ocarina of Time and check out the sweet new graphics, or take it to the next level and go straight for the Master Quest. It took but a moment to realize I had already completed the original quest three times as well as watched my younger brother play through once himself, so I opted to go right to the Master Quest. Plus I was under the assumption that the graphics of that would also have been revamped ass well.

Immediately I was taken aback to the good ol days of the N64, not because I was reliving a classic game, BUT BECAUSE IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE N64 installment. Now, Im not usually one to complain out receiving anything for free, especially free Gamecube games, but there is nothing high res about it. So I thought, maybe just the Original one is re-mastered and after trying that out, I found it too to be no different. When I hear re-mastered I think completely new graphics, a new sound track, and like twenty hours of bonus footage. The least they could have done was add a few Dewbacks into the background of the opening scene.

So eventually, after writing poetry and drinking wine to quell my depression over the lack of badass new graphics, I thought to myself, at least I can challenge myself by playing through the expansive and puzzling new dungeons of the Master Quest. Now, it has been a few years since last I really became involved in the Ocarina of Time, but nothing within the Master Quest struck me as being astonishingly different. Some puzzles have changed, but they are no harder. I began to ponder if it was simply due to the fact that I have become more intelligent over the last few years and have attained an uncanny ability to blaze through any game, then I realized however that all Ive really done between the original release of The Ocarina of Time and now is drink copious amounts of alcoholic beverages, which basically shoots down the idea that I had gotten any smarter.

So alas, after dabbling in both the high res Ocarina of Time and the Master Quest, I have come to realize that nothing much has really changed in either game. Yeah, free games, sweet, thanks Nintendo you guys kick ass, but honestly they could have not mentioned Master Quest or high res and no one would have been the wiser. Basically it comes down to this, unless you can see higher photonic wavelengths then the rest of us, you wont notice a difference in the high res version of Zelda, and if you could beat the original Ocarina of Time, youll be able to beat the Master quest. Just though Id share my two cents with both of you just in case you were as excited as I was about the re-release of these classics.

New Weapon Ideas

Alright, ever since Valve decided to award each class with new weapons the internet has been springing with ideas for their favorite class. Some serious ideas, some not so serious but most of them aren’t exactly the best ideas. I would go as far to say they’re silly. Why is this? Because people seem to think the way you make a new weapon is give it a good side and a bad side to even it out and voila! New weapon! But this is not the way Valve does it despite what most may think. So for those of you too lazy to look into how Valve thinks of new ideas and puts them into play, I will explain to the best of my abilities and maybe one day you will have a good idea that Valve may actually like when they decide to do a second round of new weapons.

For this demonstration I will be using our friendly drunken Scottish Demoman as an example.

Alright, so what do we know about the Demoman? He’s the only class that doesn’t have a weapon that shoots bullets (Beside the Medic) so his weapons are entirely explosive related and in the hands of a good player can wreak plenty of havoc for engineers and anyone else unfortunate enough to fall into a sticky trap. He is labeled as being a Defensive class but can be played Offensively as well. He can use his sticky launcher to launch himself to high and far places if he is in a rush and willing to sacrifice the HP. So that is the Demoman alone, what about his weapons?

The grenade launcher is a fearsome weapon. A normal hit can be up to 132 damage, enough to take out a scout in one hit and a critical grenade can do as much as 300 damage, enough to take out a heavy in one shot! This is great if the target is some distance away but if the Demoman is in close quarters combat using his grenade launcher he can take up to 64 damage from self-damage which means in 3 hits, he’s done for.

The sticky launcher is the Demomans defensive weapon but it can still be a real hard hitter out on the field. The main feature of the sticky launcher is the ability to explode and shoot the Demoman to high places and far distances, a key ability for the Demoman. It can cause as much as 153 damage (And that’s per sticky!) and a critical can cause as much as 353! Enough to take out a heavy and then some. As far as damaging himself it can take away as much as 114 HP, nearly 3/4 of his health. It’s best times are when used to lay down devastating traps or to take out a sentry around a corner. It can fire up to 8 sticky grenades before a reload is needed and the Demoman can only have 8 laid out, anymore and the other grenades start to explode. To put this in perspective, 8 sticky grenades exploding onto a single target can do 592-1224 damage and with criticals 2824. That’s enough to take out roughly 9 Heavies at once while leaving the tenth Heavy heavily wounded. (Heh, Heavy heavily)

The Demomans third and final weapon is his bottle. A simple melee weapon that has the ability to break. When it does break it is a critical hit that can do 195 damage.

Alright, so those are the Demomans vanilla weapons. What are their disadvantages? This is the key part when thinking of new weapons because in order to improve something you have to now WHAT you’re trying to improve but at the same time you have to be fair and give the weapon some real disadvantages. You can’t simply have a weapon idea and not give it any criticals to make it balanced (Valve learned this with the Medics Blutsauger.)

The first disadvantage and by far the most obvious one is that the Demoman is pretty crippled in close combat. Unless he is able to get away from the enemy and into friendly territory fast his only two options are to use his bottle or use his explosive weaponry. The first option is the best option but in times of panic many will rely on the grenade launcher or in rare cases the sticky launcher to dispose of the threat but these weapons damage the Demoman and if he has happened to have already been involved in some combat the self damage from his explosives will only hinder him more.

The second disadvantage is that his weapons, other than his bottle are entirely projectiles like the Soldiers rockets. This means that they can be easily dodged by anyone who happens to have the eyes to spot the incoming grenade and dodge it. This is even more so with the sticky launcher, if the Demoman didn’t lay his trap down perfectly hidden away then the enemy can easily pick off the stickies and the only thing you can do is detonate them, hoping to do some kind of damage or run over to the trap and handle the culprit face to face.

Another disadvantage, this time concerning the grenade launcher, is that if the Demoman is not dead-on with his grenade launcher and a grenade happens to pass his intended target there is hardly a consolation prize. It’s either a hit or miss as far as being out in the open goes but if it’s indoors the Demoman may be able to do some splash damage on his intended target but the most splash damage can do is 64 damage and that’s not enough enough to take out a Sandman wielding Scout. So unless the player has trained with the Demoman mastering the art of flinging explosive projectiles through the air the Grenade Launcher can be a frustrating weapon at times.

Alright so we know the disadvantages and you may be thinking “Well, these problems can be mostly solved by just giving the Demoman some weapon that shoots bullets.” But this ruins what the Demoman is all about and that of course is explosives. Giving the Demoman a shotgun not only ruins his image but seems lazy and makes him like all the other classes. It’s just plain lazy. So now that we know the disadvantages and advantages of each weapon let’s examine each one and try to come up with a possible unlockable.

First up is the grenade launcher. Let’s briefly review, the grenade launcher can do high amounts of damage when it hits a target dead on but if it doesn’t hit the target the splash damage simply cannot compare to the direct hit damage meaning it’s only truly effective with an experienced player. It’s a terrible weapon for close combat because although the chances of it hitting the enemy are higher, so is the possibility of self-damage. Let’s address the latter issue first. So the grenade launcher lobs these somewhat slow projectiles that can be easily dodged (Unless the target is a Heavy) and when it misses, the splash damage is a very small consolation prize. Perhaps a weapon that increases the splash radius as well as the damage it deals? But what about a direct hit from this weapon? Sounds more like a buff of the grenade launcher. Make it so a direct hit from this weapon does little to no damage and instead bounces off the target. Now what about ammo? You cant have such a powerful weapon firing off in groups of four at the rate of a normal Grenade Launcher. Depending on the power of the splash radius it would be a good idea to reduce the clip size to either one or two and add a minor cool down time between each shot. Now think about this weapon idea. It would be very useful to clear out a sentry nest or a group of enemies holding out in an area. However for one on one combat it’s not as effective which means when using this weapon the Demoman would have to be a team player using this weapon to clear the way for his fellow team mates instead of running forward with the ability to kill any class in two hits. But the cool down leaves him open for attack again, making it so he can’t charge forward for the team. It may also be a good idea to make it so once it’s fired the cool down time prevents the player from switching to another weapon or at least have it not cool down when another weapon is wielded so it’s not possible to use this powerful weapon and use a secondary weapon to continue charging ahead.

Now, that is just one idea. Take it as you may but it’s only one of many one could come up with. It addresses the necessity of hitting a target but also can’t be abused. Although admittedly it does not address the issue of close combat but perhaps most importantly, it keeps the identity of the Demoman being an explosives expert intact.

I could go on for another two pages talking about the sticky launcher or the bottle and how you could change them but I wont. I wrote this so people have a general idea of how to think of a serious weapon unlock idea before spouting off something that is either just aesthetically appealing or sounds cool. Now hopefully people will think before the spout off what they have to say and Valve can take the community seriously when they hear these ideas.

Now one final note before I wrap this up.

BAD FORMULA FOR WEAPON IDEAS

Think of why the class is cool => Weapon showing of personality => No crits for balance

GOOD FORMULA FOR WEAPON IDEAS

Think of vanilla weapons good and bads => What area of combat could be improved? => What would be a fair thing to take away? => New weapon idea