Friday, September 28, 2007

Steaming pile of ...

TF2 is amazing, I wish it was on anything but steam. Admittedly that's the first time it's borked out since I've rejoined, but it brings back lots of memories of waiting for no reason. And the uncomfortableness of knowing you can't do anything about it apart from madly clicking refresh (even though it's illogical, it makes you feel better). This strikes at the heart of what I hated about CS too. Gaming is about personal enjoyment. I don't enjoy waiting for a round to end in PUGs where there is no real connection to the team winning or not. I don't enjoy the game forcing you to sit out even when the best strategy was to rush early. Games that take control away from you are BAD GAME DESIGN. There are some times you may relinquish control back to the computer, like finishing a level and sitting back to watch a cut scene, but if you are forced to do it then that's another thing entirely. Non-skippable cutscenes, non-autoacceptable quests, etc are agonizing for the repeat player.

Games are there to provide a framework for the player to partake in the game. The game should never EVER get in the way of what the player wants to do next. The success of this boils down to how natural the framework fits the task at hand as well as engaging the user to stay within the framework. Tetris has basic controls, basic game mechanics, but I've never wanted to throttle the game designer because I couldn't shoot a square or ask it a question. The framework and portrayal gives the user an environment to work within; to move & rotate shapes to make solid lines. I certainly do get frustrated with the game, but at myself for not thinking fast enough or placing a piece in an incorrect spot. That's the real difference, I'm blaming myself, not the game or the mechanics. Now if you had a tetris clone where you could only enter one keypress a second, or only rotate one way, etc. I world get mad at the controls because they do not let me do what I wanted to fulfil the requirements of the game.

So back to steam ....
Does forcing me to "try later" impact on gameplay? I doubt they'll feel my deathstare back at Valve HQ, but it's made me play another game instead of waiting. I've put down lots better games than TF2 and never picked them up again because something else grabbed my attention. I'm sure I'm not alone in doing so, and I'm sure it will cost them in the long run.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Some images for the open betatest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

GameLog 10

World of Warcraft (15h) BundyBear, 70 Warrior. Finally made it!!!@! I was anticipating making the ding on the weekend, but some XP rich quest lines at the bottom of netherstorm had both Sandy and I popping the big seven oh in the space of 5 hours on Friday night.
Fury (12h) The first weekend of the open beta "Fury Challenge" was a pretty frustrating one. MASSIVE load times of over a minute to get into maps. Something's definitely awry as the system is reporting a footprint of 600Mb for the game when there's 1.6Gb memory allocated to something. Either there's a massive memory leak or there's some services somewhere that's not reporting ~750Mb of memory usage. Killed all services, dropped the game to the low spec renderer and lower spectral settings to help it get by, but it's still painfully slow. Once the game is loaded it stutters a little before happily running along at > 80 fps. Typical session would be sign up for queue (~3mins), tourney map loads (1min), wait for match to start (30 secs), play for ~8 mins, finish up and zone back (1min), run back to battlemaster (1min with semi zoning), join queue again. Almost 50% of the time outside the actual gameplay with no real recourse for making it faster. It's even slower if you want to go buy skillups or the like. Toward the end I'd take the queue waiting time as the skillup time, even though you couldn't apply it immediately because you're "in the queue".

2 hours in a session was enough to frustrate the hell out of me and made me put it aside to cool down. I was in a foul mood all weekend and it was largely due to the frustration over fury. A couple of hours away from it and I'd thought up some different strats and combos to try so I'd be chomping at the bit to get back into it. There's something there that grabs me, but I hope the load times are just part of the beta process. Definitely ordering more memory for the PC too, hope that will alleviate some of the grief.

Powder (5h) Just .. one .. more .. go.
Trackmania Nations (2h) Finals for TMN at St Luke's. Brendan cleaned up the finals as expected, but a pretty good showing all round saw lower than average times.
Sim City 4 (2h) The game is still buggy and has memory leaks. Can't believe that you can lose a whole session's worth of building without any ingame backup measures. Forcing myself to save before zooming in / out as that's where it seems to die the most.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

GameLog 09

Bit late on the update for last week, but it's all down in Outlook so it's easy to catch up ...

World of Warcraft (23h) BundyBear, 69 Warrior. The big push to 70 is on. lined up some quests that had the best gear as rewards up to tier 4. Playing some BG's to build an aggressive armour set.
Powder (9h) Just .. one .. more .. go.
Trackmania Nations (3h) Getting toward the end of the season for TMN at St Luke's.
Sim City 4 (4h) Been feeling the need to develop a new zoning layout for a while.
Titan Quest: Immortal Throne (2h) Fixit, 51 Druid / Defender. Sporadic runs on the spider and initial centaur for goodies.

Monday, September 03, 2007

GameLog 08

Company of Heroes (7h) Playing the World in Conflict demo reminded me just how good Company of Heroes was. Playing through in hard difficulty this time.
Powder (7h) Just .. one .. more .. go.
Titan Quest: Immortal Throne (6h) Fixit, 47 Druid / Defender. Ben's made it to the end of legendary, so a quick run and I'm prety much there too, although somewhat undercooked. I've missed the whole elite level to get up into legendary, but at least I can find potentially the best stuff now.
World of Warcraft (5h) BundyBear, 67 Warrior. A Nice run thru Sunspring villiage to knonck over a bunch of quests.
Trackmania Nations (4h) Finding it easy to jump into this once I'm home. Cameron's still demanding it.
Neverwinter Nights 2 (2h) Veeyar, 6 Pally/1 sorc. Into Neverwinter city.
Bioshock Demo (2h) Took a while to get the demo running, but it was worth the weait for the eye candy. I'll dump it into the same category as Quake 4. I see what they are trying to do, but it's just not my cup of tea. I want to be entertained, not scared. The plot is so superficial. Why would you immediately start trusting someone on the end of a walkie talkie. Why would you inject something into your arm without a moment's hesitation? All brushed aside in the FPS mentality. The progression is bluntly linear too. Powder has more gameplay to me than this one.
World in Conflict (1h) Not bad, but seems to lack the atmosphere of Company of Heroes, and the intensity of Warcraft 3. Made me blow the dust off CoH tho.