The possibilities for the PS3… a look back at UT3.

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

UT3 seems to be an overlooked game in the PS3 library, yet it’s a game that showed many of the true possibilities of the PS3 system. Just a few of the things they managed to incorporate were:

Keyboard and mouse support! You could play this game with either the controller or you could use a keyboard and mouse. Why is it that no other game has offered this option? It seems that this would be ideal for single player RPG or RTS type games that often originate on the PC, and the option of keyboard/mouse control might attract more PC gamers to the PS3. While the new Move controller system might attract those that are unused to a console controller, there is still a very large number of PC gamers that simply prefer the mouse/keyboard combo input. It seems that other games could use this input as an alternate control scheme, yet no other PS3 game that I’m aware of has done so. Rather than attracting new gamers, it seems that this might be a way of attracting existing gamers.

Mods! UT3 offered PS3 users the ability to freely download user-created mods, mutators and maps from various web sites and seamlessly load them into the game. There was even a later patch that provided web browser integration and mods could be downloaded directly to the game through the web. Unlike games like LittleBigPlanet, there is no moderation or restrictions. Destructoid recently ran a story regarding The Ball, which is to be released on October 18th on Steam. It’s a UT3 mod that is actually freely available to play for those that already own UT3 on the PC or the PS3. There are many sites that offer downloadable user-created mods for the PS3, and but two of the better sites are: Read more…

The Business of Charity

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment
On Facebook I noticed that one of my friends was looking for sponsor’s for an Extra Life charity event where she will be playing games to raise money for charity. I sometimes donate to these causes, but a recent report last night on my local news gave me pause for thought. Apparently only 20 cents of every dollar donated to the Canadian Cancer Society actually goes to research. The rest goes to fundraising costs and administrative costs. On looking at Extra Life I noticed something similar. First off, the Extra Life charity takes nothing, however the funds raised are given to the Child’s Miracle Network which then distributes it to a more local Hospital Charity. In my case my dollar would go through this:

Extra Life – $1.00 (no deductions)
Funds then go to:
Children’s Miracle Network – 88% of my dollar goes to actual programs… so my $1.00 is now .88 cents.
Funds are then distributed to my local Hospital foundation, which in my case is the BC Children’s Hospital foundation, where 71% of my dollar goes to actual programs. My .88 cents is now down to .62 cents.
Even at this point my .62 cents does not necessarily go directly to programs, but may in fact go to administrative costs for other programs (such as the Sunny Hill Health Center for Children which is funded by the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation). Read more…

July 21, 2011 – too much gaming!

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Crap!  Daily blogging has fallen by the wayside.  I injured my back a few weeks ago and sitting for any length of time at the computer is just uncomfortable.  I also still torn as to whether I want to do the majority of my blogging over on Destructoid, or whether I want to do it here.

Blogging on one’s own site is nice… but there’s a lack of social interaction that can be found by blogging on a bigger site. I think I’ll maintain this site because there is a freedom in writing what I want to write without worrying too much about presentation, but I’ll continue to do my bigger blogs over on Dtoid and transfer my better ones here for safekeeping and the ability to categorize them.

The odd thing about my back is that I’m writing less, but gaming more.  This probably isn’t good for me either.  I know that after sitting and gaming a lot, my back is sore and the pinched nerve makes my legs quite numb.  I really should be more active, but when my back is sore and my legs are numb/hot (and all the fun stuff that goes with a pinched nerve) I just don’t feel like being overly active.  Still… I guess I’ll have to discipline myself and restrict my gaming because I’m developing the bad habit of gaming in the afternnoons as well as the evenings now.

I picked up Fallout New Vegas at a really good price and have taken to playng the game in the afternoons.. then switching to an online game like MAG or L4D2 in the evenings.  I’m not even really enjoying Fallout New Vegas because it’s just too much like Fallout 3.  Lots and lots and lots of walking around.  The quests are fine, but often they are very unclear and I just spend half an hour dragging some guys body back to his wife only to not be allowed to bring it in the door of where she is… and on looking the quest up on the internet, apparently I was supposed to take his body to some nearby soldiers.  Where in hell was the map marker for that!!!  So many of the smaller quests don’t show in the quest log or have map markers which often makes them an exercise in frustration.  Honestly… I think it was just pure laziness on the part of the developers.

Still… the game is somehow mesmerizing… I find myself saying “let’s just play till I find out what that building on the horizon is”… and two hours later…

July 8, 2011 – in the company of strangers

July 8, 2011 1 comment

Last night I ended up in a large group playing MAG.  I was only familiar with one of the group members and the others were all strangers to me, but it’s amazing how the loose bonds of being in a group seems to reinvigorate the gameplay.

People were reviving each other, there was constant talk about strategies and enemy movements and mostly there was encouragement – just run in and take the objective -screw your KDR!  Not surprisingly, we ended up with a lot more wins than losses last night – something that doesn’t often occur with the Raven faction, especially when playing against SVER.

The mechanism in shooter games of being in a “squad” or being a part of a team just works so much better when people actually talk.  I can understand there there are times when people don’t want to use a mic… often when playing late at night and out of consideration for others in the household, or younger kids (the game is rated T for Teen) that maybe shouldn’t be exposed to some of the language adults use when they get killed by a shotgun at long range then teabagged.  Still, the people that don’t use a mic are missing out on such a large part of online gaming.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of yelling “I’ve got the flag and need cover” and hearing encouraging (and useful) comments from your teammates.  There nothing quite like saying “There’s a guy planting a charge at our bunker” and hearing someone else yell “I’m sniping at the back and have him!”.  There’s just such a wonderful sense of comraderie when playing with a team or squad where most people are using their mics.

Strangers or not…  for that brief time when playing the game, those strangers are my “teammates” – a word not to be taken lightly.  It’s the one word that sums up why I enjoy online shooter games so very much!

July 7, 2011 – Boss Battles

Dear Diary,

I’m still playing Beyond Good and Evil and it’s interesting to be playing “boss battles” again.  So often I play online shooter games and the “boss battle” is that idiot sniper guarding the back of the objective – perched in some inaccessible area where the only strategies might be to throw your own body in front of a teammate to take the hit but accomplish the team objective, or to put on a ninja loadout and spend some time in the back lines doing some sniper hunting (and we all know how much fun it is to creep up behind an annoying sniper then knife them in the back!).

Boss battles against real people are hard.  A more skilled opponent often does the unexpected – like when that sniper knows your coming and moves so that he can do a pre-emptive strike… or when he lays a mine on the path to where he’s camping.  Boss battles in games like Beyond Good and Evil are both easier, and harder.  There is almost always a pattern to the attacks, so you often have to die a few times until you figure out the pattern… and additionally there is usually a “weak point” that has to be aimed for or timed.  Once the pattern and weak point have been established, the boss battle is usually not all that difficult. Read more…

July 6, 2011 – Beyond Good and Evil

July 6, 2011 2 comments

Dear Diary,

So today I start my “Daily Scribbles” which will be an attempt at near-daily blogging.  Mostly I’ll just ramble on about whatever games I’m playing or that jerk that teabagged me and pissed me off while playing MAG the night before.  Today though I want to talk about “old” games.

I downloaded Beyond Good and Evil HD, a remake of the PS2 game that I never played.  I’m really enjoying the game, but am reminded of those early games I played on the Dreamcast.  So often people talk about how gaming was so much better on the earlier consoles, and I’ve always somewhat disagreed.  I tend to play new games instead of older games.  I played old games back when they were new, and frankly I don’t tend to wear the rose colored glasses of glamorizing them in any way.  There were some great games, but there were also a lot of really bad games.  Today I’m reminded that even the great games had their shortcomings. Read more…

Games that tickle the brain

For many who played Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, the above quote may have simply seemed like a throw away line… but for others, it was a direct reference to Machiavelli’s book “The Prince”. My degree is in Political Science and that line was a cute poke at Machiavelli’s most famous piece of literature being a fairly short book in length. It also reinforced the entire theme of the Assassin’s Creed game which is largely influenced by Machiavelli’s philosophies. Machiavelli was one of the first political philosophers that emphasized the realities of politics as opposed to the ideals, and the game certainly shows many of the realities of the time period with the governmental instabilities and unscrupulous vying for power by various forces.

Machiavelli believed that a citizen-led militia was more powerful than externally hired armies because they had more to lose and would fight harder… and to a large degree, this has proven accurate but was fairly revolutionary to speak of during his lifetime. During the game we see this theory take on life as the various factions are united under our main protagonist, Ezio. Machiavelli, however, is best remembered for his theories that political expediency (gains) were above morality, and that deception, manipulation and unscrupulous behavior were often needed to acquire and retain stable power. The actual creed of the Assassin’s guild is “nothing is true, everything is permitted“. This saying is almost a distillation of Machiavellan political theory. Read more…

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