Marvel Vs Capcom Vs MMOs.

February 28, 2011

This is related to the last post about Rift and twilight.

In the local mall, there’s a small local arcade surviving heroically. Like all arcades, it’s more redemption and ticket machines than actual games, with only a few of them left. It’s mostly racing games and light gun games, but with one exception. They have a Marvel versus Capcom 2 machine there.

This is welcome to me as I played the same game in the same mall over fifteen years ago, and it adds some continuity to life. These days so much of what existed when we were young has been thrown away, either due to innovation or simple time. In my town, my high school doesn’t exist any more, the employer I worked at for 7 years doesn’t, the movie theaters where I first watched movies are gone, as are all the video and book stores I lived in as a kid. However, there is a problem.

There’s really zero quantatative difference between MvC2 then, and any Capcom versus game now besides the graphics.

If anything, MvC2 is the better game because it strikes a balance between complexity and simplicity. This is not good at all.

It means the series has been stagnant, and it really has. It’s not just MvC: play Soul Calibur on dreamcast, or Tekken 2, and you see all the later iterations just get more complex and never really change. Playing King in Tekken barely has changed at all over time. We are seeing fifteen years or more of games, a lifetime according to Moore’s law, do  little to advance themselves. Even niche titles: Gulity Gear on playstation one is basically the same game as later models except for arcane tweaks to the ruleset.

This is bad, because it killed the genre. Virtually all fighting games cash in on multi-decade existing licenses. Capcom used to innovate in fighting games with spinoffs: Techromancer, Cyberbots, Rival Schools: United by Fate. While others relied on past technologies, they tried to make a new experience. Primal Rage and Brutal are two examples, as was Eternal Champions and Bushido Blade. But innovation has been thrown off a cliff in favor of updated retreads.

The problem with MMOs specifically is that we are now at the MvC2 point. We had an early time of a lot of innovations, but like all the fighting games of the MK/SF 2 generation, they have moved to incremental advancement. Why would anyone in God’s name go back to playing by classic EQ rules? It would be like going back to play a 8-bit strategy game. It should feel so shallow as not to be worth except as a curiosity.

If we can in 20 years, look back and still find past MMOs anything but shallow, linear experiences heavily colored by nostalgia, and not be able to point to the current genre as adding entirely new experiences and concepts, the genre has failed. Burnout is not the same as pole position. But will Everquest 4 be the same as Everquest one?


Twilight of the next big thing.

February 27, 2011

Note to self: don’t try to do a challenge when both games you play go through some pretty large changes. More on this later. But first, a little rant.

Twilight. Everyone hates it. It’s fashionable to. They have a point to do so: as a YA novel it’s pretty badly written, and it’s view on relationships is awkward if not harmful. Of course, the whole genre hasn’t been so good on it: as anyone who has ever read Christopher Paolini, Paul Zindel or Robert Cormier would find out. But lets skip that for now.

The people who hate it have some valid arguments about how its massive sales to a large part of the market affect the YA genre. They don’t go far enough with them, usually out of some sense of political correctness: having what is essentially a sanitized version of Anita Blake Vampire Hunter right down to the heroine/vampire/werewolf dynamic isn’t conducive to getting male readers to drop their xbox360 and start to read. Nor is it getting those teen women a healthy understanding of relationships or guys. I could go on with the specific critique, but that’s a tangent to the main point.

Now here it is. After Twilight is finished, there’s a huge lull in the YA book market. People grumble, but go back to reading their worn copies of Eragon or the hunger games, but nothing really draws the level of attention it does. Quite a few Twilight haters are actually rereading the Twilight series again, either to pick flaws in it, or because their friends keep reading it, and they don’t want to give them up over a book. Or to make snarky parodies or fan fiction. But still, whenever it’s mentioned in public, its either met with contempt or at best benign indifferrence.

Now, fast forwards. A new author suddenly releases a book, Mourning. Maybe its Tamora Pierce, or maybe it’s some unknown author. It’s blantatly obvious that it’s a tremendous rip-off of Twilight, with some added parts from other books thrown in to it. You still have your desired female main character, you have your main character being a brooding mysterious immortal, and you have a rival also being a supernatural creature. Maybe it puts it into a post-apocalyptic dystopia, ripping the Hunger Games off. Or maybe it puts it in modern day, but with Greek gods instead of vampires. The borrowing is done well, but that doesn’t really hide the fact you’ve seen the same thing in other books.

You can argue that all books do this, and you have a point. But it’s not all that creative. The writing is very good, but the themes have no real spin to them. There’s nothing to it that knocks peoples socks off: while it’s well crafted, it’s almost like a pseudo-sequel or remake. The minor innovations get swallowed up in the sea of familliarity.

And the themes still are bad in the same way Twilight was. They do not make any commentary on them or twist them. They may make it easier to digest, and not challenge your intelligence or sensation of disbelief as badly. Vampire Baseball and Imprinting are gone, but the main character is still a clingy Mary Sue pursued by a stalkerish male, and is just as uncomfortable if you think about it. Maybe the book’s magic system works well, or they had a bit better historical detail, but one could argue that it’s just a sugar pill to reinforce the same, tired message of Twilight down.

Now here’s the thing. You’d expect the haters of Twilight to tear this apart, right?

No, they bloody LOVE it.

It might be because they were so disappointed in the last novel, a popular one by the Japanese author of Kamikaze girls. It released but was so badly translated and printed the publisher had to stop printing it. Or maybe the long wait for the rumored J.K. Rowling YA book is making them antsy. My God, they love that book, one based on the success of the author in other intellectual properties. Or there’s that big Neil Gaiman sequel to Starlight coming out, which everyone has been dying to read despite not so many people actually being keen on it when it first came out, and the buzz really only came because they chose to release it for 5 bucks at walmart on dvd.

In any case, rather than call it a cynical cash grab that relies on people’s familiarity of a popular best seller with some minor alterations taken from other books, they flock to it like birds. It’s praised for its “polish” and “craftsmanship” and while people really aren’t all that excited about it for it, they still flood the bookstores and wait 4 hours in line to scoop up a copy. Stephanie Meyer reacts by releasing a limited edition, free novella about Edward and Bella in the past, but even that doesn’t stop the juggernaut. People harshly against the whole genre lap it up. Yet the problems still remain, and are even worse.

Mourning shows that people are full of shit. People who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a team Edward shirt and have made many serious and well-argued points against Twilight toss them aside. It’s the same tired story: nothing in the book leads us to believe the ending will be different or surprising, and you don’t expect the book to grow. It might be innovative in its borrowings, dressing them up neatly, but in the end people have the suspicion that it will be something they will not plan to read or like long term. Some people openly state it is a placeholder book till the other two big titles come out, and the Twilight haters nod reassuringly. Meanwhile the few people not keen on it look in a state of disbelief as they watch an entire edifice built around critiquing the flaws of the largest current best-selling novel be left rusting in the wind as people chase after its spiritual twin. Even a notororious critic is dropping his fierce opposition to Twilight because they threw in a reference to Tarantino films, which he loves.

Weird times, eh?

You probably get the analogy by now. But the next time you slam Twilight, or criticize the whole YA genre for being stale and uncreative, remember you spent money on Mourning.

 


Salvage Part 2: Amamake

January 17, 2011

The move went well. I contracted my meager collection of things via public courier before I logged, and had it waiting for me when I logged on this morning. I base in Sarum Prime now, one jump from the Amarr homeworlds.

Amamake is a bit different from Rancer. While it is a pirate haven, the Amarr and Minmatar Militia duke it out in the local systems nearby. On more than one occasion local spiked with 30 plus ships as a large warband moved through. Thankfully, none of them were willing to risk the sec hit and gate gun fire to nail my Salvage Bunny.

It was a bit slower, but eventually I found some tasty salvage on the Auga gate in Amamake. Peter Gold’s Thrasher gave me all of one metal scrap, and while other wrecks were nearby, I chose discretion over valor, making it back to Sarum Prime and finishing one of my goals: to salvage player wrecks from two notorious hotspots.

This was done fairly quick, and shows a small truth to lowsec: it’s really not that populated. There’s an illusion in the game where once you step out of empire, hordes of pirates camp any gate and will kill you instantly.

The reality is different. While people do camp gates, it’s not as often as you think. I ran across gate camps twice in about 4-6 hours of play. Most of the danger is in what’s called the glory belt: the first asteroid belt in any lowsec system. Also dangerous are “sights”-small, static complexes with rats that sometimes dot systems. Once away from gate guns mild deterrent, risk grows.

However it needs to be said that I freely explored two of the more notorious lowsec systems in the game, jumping from location to location, while only losing one ship. Contacts with enemy ships were few and eventless, apart from the one gate camp. It’s easy to get caught up in general rhetoric about PvP or carebearing to forget about the reality on the ground.

Next up-time to ninja mine in 0.0 with my frig.


Attempt 2: Rancer. Success.

January 16, 2011

Sorry for the cluttered screenshot. After a bit of moving detailed in my last post, I’d figure I’d try again before logging. Thanks to the wreck of Drake #7 of the Blob, giving up 5 malfuctioning shield emitters, my little Navitas beat one half of the Salvage Challenge. While doing so I met a Rifter doing the same thing, and it was apparent we both were paranoid. He skittered off, since low sec gate guns make firing on a target at the gate death to most frigs. I skittered off once myself and came back, despite knowing this.

At any time a fleet could appear at a gate to camp it. It seemed right now we both were lucky.

The next step is picking up and moving to Amamake, which is in Amarr space. Amamake will be different, as it is not only a pirate hot spot, but a militia one. Current Trit Balance is 90k.


Attempt one: Salvaging in Rancer.

January 15, 2011

2011.01.15 22:05:00
Victim: Centri Sixx

Corp:

University of Caille

Alliance: Unknown

Faction: Unknown

Destroyed: Navitas

System:Crielere

Security: 0.4

Damage Taken: 475

Involved parties:
Name: Vadar Kramax (laid the final blow)

Security: -10.0Corp: the united

Alliance: Negative Ten.

Faction: NONEShip: Broadsword

Weapon: 650mm Artillery Cannon II

Damage Done: 475
Name: Jack Leo

Security: -10.0

Corp: the united

Alliance: Negative Ten.

Faction: NONE

Ship: Hurricane

Weapon: Warp Disruptor II

Damage Done: 0

Destroyed items:
Salvager ICargo Scanner IMiner IIExpanded Cargohold I

Dropped items:
Hobgoblin I (Drone Bay)Small Shield Booster IExpanded Cargohold I

 

So, I go to Rancer. I see salvage at gate, as well as a gate camp. It’s mostly frigs and noob ships, ironically. Going through isn’t hard, but on the way back I get instalocked by a cruiser and one shot.

The problem with Rancer, and it’s reason for being a pirate hotspot, is that you can approach it only one way on the Gallente side-through Crielere. So ships gate camp, using big ones to tank the guns. Its easy for big ships to catch small ones if they gear right.

I’ll put some warp stabs on for the next time, but another problem is that there is no regional market in the safe systems surrounding Rancer. So that means I’m going to need to bring in a ton of blue prints to be able to make the supplies I need to get for this. That’s assuming there are industry slots available in the local stations so I can build. This also means I need to raise research skills some, to do multiple jobs.

What sucks about EVE too is, there’s really no bigger ship you can use to do this. Even without the challenge, salvaging pins you in place, and that means you can get scrambled. That current gate camp had about 5 ships cruiser and up that can tank the gate guns, so the only solution would be to chase them out with a bigger fleet.

On, and a nice little snapshot of EVE piracy is here. Most of their kills are t1 frigs. Thrilling sandbox gameplay eh? Camp on a gate and kill the weak ships coming through.


EVE TTC: Planning.

January 14, 2011

My last challenge (time trial doesn’t really apply here since skills train in real time, and I need to train some) is here: EVE online. 5 different goals, accomplished with a wimpy mining frigate. This is going to need some planning, so I figure I’d give you an overview of how I intend to accomplish them.

1. 1 Billion Tritanium. This is the easiest, but the most time consuming. My Navitas can barely handle NPC rats that spawn in asteroid belts in any security space below 0.7. Mining itself though isn’t hard, and as time passes and I train skills in mining and refining, my yield grows. It’s still a lot of minerals to make, and I plan to only do it with the frig.

2. Navitas into 0.0 and mine ore. This is going to be tough. There are two routes to and from 0.0 in general: either through a chokepoint lowsec system, or by getting lucky inside wormhole space and finding a wormhole that dumps me there. The first is often guarded by gankers and defenders, armed with warp interdiction spheres that warp stabilizers wont work against. The second is going to need some serious probing skills and a lot of luck.

3. Navitas on a killmail. A bit easier. In EVE, the militia allows uncorped people to fight among corps, and they tend to have large open fleets once in awhile. However I’m not about to join one as a mining frig. What I’ll do instead is keep an eye out for them, and engage a target they are fighting. I’m probably not going to be too popular, but it’s militia. I’m not caring too much. Believe me, from my time in the Amarr militia it’s not that great a crowd.

4. Salvaging in two infamous pirate sectors of space. It’s not bad, the trick is in the timing. Wrecks only survive in space for an hour, so I need to hang out in space without getting caught, wait for a battle to end, and swoop in. The main problem is the distance between them, I’ll need to do a lot of jumping around.

5. Take a picture with me and a sleeper. This is the most skill-based of my objectives. Skills as in character skills. I’m going to need to get astrometric skills to a high level to do this.  Astrometric probing is easy to do in terms of player skill, but the numbers needed to get into a sleeper class wormhole might be high. Also, actually getting close enough to take the picture without being one-shot, as well as survive any defenders camping the entrance is very tough.

My character’s name is Centri Sixx if you want to say hi to me. Hit me up via chat.


Batman: Gotham high

January 12, 2011

I twittered this, but this has to be one of the coolest failed concepts in TV animation, at Slashfilm. Batman and his villains as teens in high school together.

Harley Quinn is adorable. I’ve always had a soft spot for high school dramas. I guess that’s the anime fan in me. Maybe we’ll get lucky and WB notices it.