Modern Warfare 2 must see screenshot

This was just too funny... If you really don't get it, look closely at the message and think about what platform this is picture is actually from.

Modern Warfare 2 Interview and Commentary

I found this recently while scouring IGN. It's an interview with one of the developers about many of the new features of Modern Warfare 2 using footage from a previous trailer. It's definitely an interesting video for anyone planning to buy the game next month.

What I've been doing for the last few weeks

Well, I now have my new laptop, a Sager NP9850, which is a beast of a machine, 2GB Nvidia 280m SLI cards, 2.0 Quad core, and 18.4 inch HDTV screen. This is a massive upgrade from my 5 year old laptop which could only handle World of Warcraft on low settings. There have been 3 main games I have been playing for the last 3 weeks.

The main games I have been playing are, Street Fighter 4, EVE Online, and Team Fortress 2.

Street Fighter 4 on the PC isn't much different from what you see at the arcade or on a home console, although because of my incredibly performing laptop, I can set all the settings to high and at that level of detail while still maintaining 60 frames per sec, it reached levels of graphics far beyond any of the home consoles. Getting used to playing an arcade fighting game on a keyboard is difficult and I am still growing accustomed to it. Special moves that involve circular movements like Ryu's Hadouken are surprisingly easy. It is the vertical charged moves like those of Guile and Blanka that feel impossible to pull off.

The game is, in my opinion, a step back in the genre. The special moves list was a surprise to me, being so small. Each character has one "Super" move and a higher level version of the same super. Most characters command list set has been reverted back to their Street Fighter 2 days. I miss the diversity in actions from earlier titles like SNK vs Capcom series, or Street Fighter 3. The next game in the series, Super Street Fighter 4, is supposed to fix this and a host of other issues, but when I think about how much of the core of Street Fighter 4 needs to be "fixed" by another game which we have to pay for yet again, I feel cheated. But that's a rant for another day.

I cannot recommend this game, not only for the fact that the next one in the series is coming soon, but also because of the lack of ingenuity and diversity in this game. This level of quality was fine decades ago with Street Fighter 1 and 2, but I believe we reached a point now where we shouldn't have to choose graphics "or" gameplay.

EVE Online was the next step for me after growing tired of fantasy MMORPGs. I had began my journay in this genre back in the days of Everquest and after that, moved onto games such as City of Heroes and World of Warcraft. The former being much more of a sandbox style game where players are herded and hand held through the entire experience of the game, and the latter being the opposite, I felt that I needed to move completely away from the fantasy category of MMOs and after reading about EVE I thought it was the perfect game for me to try next.

The learning curve of EVE Online is steeper than Mount Everest... no that would still be an understatement. EVE definitely delves further into the sandbox end of the MMO spectrum, much more so than Everquest and I don't think anything could have prepared me for it. Traveling in the universe of EVE is separated into tiny pockets, each filled by one or two planets, which are merely for display and cannot be interacted with and a space station. The station is where you can perform most of the non-combat activities, like buying ships, fitting them, accepting missions, and buying and selling various goods, the EVE equivalent of cities.

Combat in EVE consists of clicking on targets, automated lock-on and setting the distance you wish to maintain from the target. There is no movement commands like the ones you find in World of Warcraft. The ship will do most of the work once you have set your distance and locked on. Once you have locked on, the next step is to click on which turrets you wish to fire and it will automatically fire them until your energy is depleted or run out of ammunition.

Despite the steep learning curve, I would highly recommend anyone who wants to try something apart from the fantasy MMORPGs that are flooding the market to give the EVE Online 2 week trial a try. No credit card or payment information at all is necessary for creating a trial account. The tutorial is very helpful though sometimes can be lacking in it's rigidness. At times, I found myself stuck in situations which the tutorial was not helpful at all with and no one in the Help channel knew the answer to. Thankfully, these situations didn't last long and were few.

Team Fortress 2 was a game that I had been eager to play for the past year but couldn't because of the low specs on my previous laptop. It was everything I had hoped for. There's not much to say for those of you who have played First Person Shooters before. The game is based on a class-based system where you can choose to be a medic who can heal, a soldier packing a rocket launcher, a spy who can impersonate enemy players, and many others.

Because of the lack of a all-in-one class, the game is must be played with at least some team coordination and organization. This can be a exercise in frustration when playing on public servers where the majority of people are playing from pubs and seem to ignore any sort of attempt at coordinating a focused attack or defense. But I don't hold this against the game, I hold it against the players who wish to only increase their score rather than win the match.

The game runs smooth, and the classes all fill a necessary role in the game. The soldier is for short-mid ranged attacks and are adept at taking out sentries, automated stationary turrets built by engineers. The demolition man is the perfect person for defense because of his ability to create a minefield and is the number one class to take out sentries. The support classes do exactly that; they support other players. The medic can increase the survivability of anyone else and can make them invincible for a short time. The sniper can offer long range kills to their buddies in the battlefield. Spies can cause chaos and confusion among the opposing team.

There is no doubt as to the question of why this game has remained so popular for such a long time. Even the choice of using cartoonish graphics means that the visuals of the game ages much better than other more realistic games which are made obsolete by the next generation of shooters. The price tag of 19.99 on Steam means that this is accessible even to those who are on a tight budget because of the recession. Continued FREE updates and additions to the weaponry of classes means that this game will not be forgotten by it's developers for quite awhile. The last significant update was recent and the development studio is planning it's next update to the game currently.

By the way, if there are any clans out there recruiting and are willing to take someone who plays 2-4 hours a day everyday, please leave a comment on your website or contact info. I am actively looking for a clan to join.

Well that's it for now. The next games I plan to play, while continuing with Team Fortress 2 is Batman Arkham Asylum, and Prototype. I have seen some comments praising Batman and other comments about the uninteresting gameplay of Prototype, but I will keep an open mind while playing them. I've seen the trailer for both games and they both look amazing.

Also, to those who are considering buying a Sager NP9850, I would highly recommend it. Aside from the occasional driver issues it's all you could ever want from a desktop replacement gaming laptop. I will have some benchmarks up on Youtube soon and a video on the physical aspects(dimensions, look and feel of the material, etc) of the laptop.

Jade Dynasty, a quick look at a new F2Play MMORPG

I've decided to give Jade Dynasty a shot while I wait on my new laptop to arrive, at which point I will be creating an Eve Online account. Until then I am joining my RL friends in playing this Free2Play MMORPG, made by the same studio that made Perfect World.

My exploration into character creation was rather short, as I was given very limited options. The character "class" isn't chosen until I reach level 15, which leaves me with the customization of my gender, facial appearance(I must choose from preset faces), hairstyle, and name. I went with a female character, named "MaleIRL". I thought it was humorous. After choosing that I logged into my character and began to play around with movements and maneuvering.

The movement in the game is smooth, but unpolished. Jumping, for instance, is rather unrealistic if you release the forward key which causes your momentum to vanish. Some of the movement animations also need work. I noticed the distinct lack of left-right turning with keys, which are usually bound to the "E" and "Q" keys by default. The preferred method of turning is by holding the right click.

Something interesting about this game is that much of the gameplay can be set to auto. The player can click on the ground somewhere in view to move there, which is common for Asian MMORPGs, but in Jade Dynasty, you can click on a spot on the map and your character will run there automatically, using an intelligent, probably pre-designed path. Under the quest pane, if you click on the name of the npc which you have to turn the quest into or the name of the item you are to acquire, the character will automatically run there also.

The combat was routine. There is a hotbar, and most abilities require a "casting" time. For the first 30 levels, which seemed to be the "introductory" levels, the player is given a "heavy blow" attack which one shots most monsters anywhere near your level every second, though it's effects are reduced as you level up and the monsters become harder to kill.

Botting is also a mechanic in this game in the form of "Espers". It's a identical to most "botting" programs which are banned in other MMORPGs. It plays the character for you, fighting, picking up loot, and self healing. It even has quest monster recognition and skill priority management. Honestly, I don't see this particular mechanic doing much good for the longevity of the game.

The environment of the agme is completely Chinese; the clothing, characters, monsters, landscape, are all distinctly inspired by ancient Chinese times. So far, I haven't noticed any horrendous translation in quest text and dialogue as is the case with so many other Asian Free2Play games. The world of Jade Dynasty consists of 10 zones, each of which are medium to large. Early on, all characters, no matter which class they later choose, are able to able to tame pets and use them in combat. The pets provide some minor damage, but do require upkeep in the form of food.

So far, I've managed to reach level 18, and my overall feeling about the game is good, considering that it's a Free2Play game. I don't think I would play this game for long, even if I hadn't already decided to play Eve Online. There doesn't seem to be enough challenge, and the combat, which is the real meat of the gameplay, is rather repetitive, and if I choose to put the character on autopilot to kill monsters, it doesn't make it anymore fun as I just end up staring at the game play itself. I will continue to play this game for at least a few more days and I'll see where it leads.

EA and Epic Fail - Need for Speed(Xbox 360 ver.) tries to access PSN

Okay, the phrase "epic fail" is thrown around far too often, when the situation warrants merely "fail". But this is a situation that truly warrants EPIC FAIL.

EA's new racing sim, Need for Speed: Shift, has been complained about as being bug ridden. There are plenty of games that have been released far too early, but this half-assed excuse for a game dwarfs any example that I can think of.

According to one upset blogger who feels he has been cheated out of his $70, the game crashes when trying to access the Playstation Store... while he's playing it on his Xbox 360. It seems that there was some definite lack QA testing, or else someone would have noticed the Xbox 360 version trying to access the Playstation Network(PSN). My guess is the programmers got lazy when creating it for different platforms and did a straight copy and paste job.

Team Fortress User-Made Concept Update

So there's a new "Team Update" for Team Fortress 2. While there's nothing special about the update, there is a user-made concept update that's been posted on many gaming sites. The concept calls for a new support class, the "guard dog" class. The author even received a response from Valve. Personally, I thought the letter was much funnier than the class, which was also interesting in itself. You can check out the concept here.

Statistics behind World of Warcraft

Ever since Everquest began to cover up hard numbers in order to reduce strategic information being fed to rivals in the MMORPG market, MMORPG companies have been tight lipped about specific numbers about players, financies, hardware, etc. Only revealing what was necessary to shareholders.

At GDC Austin, J. Allen Brack and Frank Pearce of Blizzard Entertainment. Below I have broken down the numbers they revealed. These numbers do answer some questions about how much Blizzard invests in the maintenance and further development of their biggest title, World of Warcraft.

There is or has been:
4,449,680,399 achievement rewards unlocked by players
1.5 million assets
70,000 spells
40,000 npcs
7650 quests
180,000 bugs since launched that have been fixed
360,000 text strings or words
120,000,000 accounts
at least 5.5 million lines of code
75,000 cpu cores
13,250 servers
112.5 terabytes of server ram
20,000 computer systems
1.3 petabytes of storage
2,056 game masters
340 billing manager
66 community team
245 QA team(largest)
32 programming department
37 design team
51 art department
123 cinematic department
10 production department
4,600 in total(Not all teams were broken down into numbers by the presenters)
10,000 articles written about WoW
1640 WoW events presented by Blizzard
100,000 participants at Blizzcon this year
10,000,000 views of WoW commercials
400 retail products

Source: Gamasutra GDC Austin: An inside look at the universe of Warcraft