Sunday, October 30, 2011
Rowan became aware of an insistent chirping. Trying to stir, she felt a tremendous pain in her side and realized that some of her ribs were broken. Groaning, she pushed herself up into a sitting position. Scanning the chamber. She made out the still forms of the other three members of the away team. The chirping continued, it was her communicator pin. Tapping the badge sent a fresh twinge along her ribs.
“Starblanket here,” she grunted.
Tarah’s voice sounded tinny in the thinning air. “Captain, the Borg wreckage you occupy is on the verge of collapse. We anticipate a hull breech at any moment.”
“Can you lock on to our signals?”
“Negative, Captain. The interference from radiation is too strong at your present location.”
“We’ll move to the other chamber. Keep this channel open.”
Corporal Graavel, the Tellarite MACO, was closest to her. She crawled closer to him to assess his condition. Realizing her tricorder had flown out of her hand in the tumble, she gently shook his shoulder. He stirred, groaning.
“Corporal, are you hurt?” Rowan asked, visually examining the MACO.
“I’m alright, Ma’am,” Graavel said with a grunt. He sat up.
“Check on Commander Brasseux. While I check the Major.”
They moved off towards their separate charges. Major Gasira’s left lower leg was bent an unnatural angle, her foot caught under some debris. Rowan cast about for something to split the Major’s leg. Finding a short piece of wreckage, she began ripping the bottom of her own uniform top into strips. Gasira moaned and her eyes fluttered open. Rowan paused to put a hand on her shoulder.
“Shh, hold still, Major. Your leg is broken. I need to set on splint it.”
Gasira just groaned her acknowledgement. The chamber shuddered again as the remaining gravity generator began to fail. The stressed metal structure groaned louder than the Major. Thierry and Graavel made their way over to Rowan and Gasira. Having hit the bulkhead face first, Thierry’s ocular scanner was broken and he was bleeding from his temple where the device had cut him. He had abrasions across his cheek on that side and his nose had swollen, perhaps broken.
“Corporal, help me move this,” Rowan indicated the twisted metal trapping Gasira’s foot. The two tossed the debris aside, freeing the MACO commander’s leg, and Rowan spoke to her.
“Major, I need to set this, then I will split it. Without my medkit I cannot give you a painkiller.”
“I understand, Captain,” Gasira gasped and gritted her teeth. Rowan grasped the broken limb pulled as gently as she could, straightening it and trying to set the bones by feel. The Major cried out in pain.
“There. Corporal, position these strips under her leg above and below the break, here and here, while I lift it.” The MACO did as she asked. Rowan placed the splint along the Major’s leg and tied it in place.
“OK, we need to move out of this chamber or La Gitana cannot beam us out. Thierry, how are you doing?”
“I’ll be alright, sheh.”
“Alright, let’s move. Come on, Major.” Rowan hooked Gasira’s left arm around her own shoulders and lifted the other woman off the deck. The Major stood on her good leg, leaning into the Captain.
“Ready, Captain” she grunted.
“Tarah, monitor our signal. Beam us out as soon as you can.”
Thierry leaned on the Tellarite as the chamber lurched again. The deck was now apparently at a steep angle, the exit to the corridor above the debris pile by about a meter and a half. Rowan stepped gingerly over the pile, careful of her footing and her charge. Gasira helped as best she could on her good leg. Thierry and Graavel followed behind. Coming to the bulkhead the passageway was on, Rowan propped up the Major.
“Corporal, can you get up into the corridor?” she asked turning to the Tellarite.
“Heh, of course, Ma’am.” The MACO scrambled up the bulkhead and deck into the opening, poking his head back out.
“OK. Thierry, help me get the major up there.” Rowan said. Gasira leaned on the engineer, as Rowan interlaced her fingers into a stirrup. Lifting her foot into The Captain’s hands, Gasira, heaved herself up and reached for the Corporal’s outstretched hands. Together they lifted her in to the corridor.
“OK, you’re next, Thierry.” Rowan put her hands back down to the engineer’s foot to boost him up, grunting in pain as she hoisted him into the corridor. Following the other away team members into the corridor, Rowan reassessed the situation. The tilted bulkheads and deck would make progress hazardous. The groans of the wreckage had not died down.
“OK, move carefully, but quickly. Corporal, you take the lead. Thierry, you follow. I’ll bring up the rear with the Major.” Rowan clutched her side where her broken ribs ground against each other.
“Sheh, are you alright? Can you support her?” the engineer asked.
“Yes, just get moving.”
The Tellarite moved up the corridor, tremors in the craft making him stumble. Thierry stumbled after, holding onto the bulkheads. Rowan realized that the gravity generator was causing the corridor to tilt uphill, slowing their progress.
“Tarah, are we out of the interference yet?”
“Negative, Captain.” Came the voice of her First Officer. “Another 15 meters, maybe.”
They came upon the animated but brain-dead drone, blocking their path. Corporal Graavel turned back to Rowan. “Orders, Ma’am?”
Rowan sighed, “Shoot it.” The MACO pulled out a hand phaser. Adjusting the settings, he took aim and fired on the drone, disintegrating it. Alarms went off echoing down the passageway.
“Damnit!” Rowan cursed. “Get going!”
Thierry and Graavel scrambled up the corridor with Rowan following as best she could with Gasira in tow. Between the groaning structure and the screaming alarms, Rowan barely heard Tarah’s voice.
“Captain, the structure is beginning to break-up, with multiple stress fractures in the hull.”
“We’re moving as fast as we can. Can you reposition to get us out of here?”
“We are already in the prime position relative to the interference, Captain.”
The deck heaved and they were all lifted off their feet. The horrible sound of metal ripping came up the passageway from the cargo bay. Closely followed by the boom of an explosion. Hot gases rushed past the away team, then suddenly reversed themselves.
“Hull breech! Get going!”
They all crawled the last few meters, Thierry dropping back to help Rowan with Gasira. The rushing wind was deafening, but they still had air for now.
“Tarah, beam out Corporal Graavel as soon as you have a lock on him!” Rowan shouted over the wind.
Tarah’s response was lost to the roar. The plasma fire behind was consuming the air. Soon enough, Rowan saw the telltale glow of the transporter rescuing the MACO about three meters ahead of them.
“Not without you and the Major, sheh!”
They made it the last small distance when the wreckage rocked again from the force of another explosion. But the transporter effect had already embraced the three last members of the away team, pulling them to safety as the passageway collapsed around them.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Most people on the internet are mainly consumers of content. They contribute very little beyond the occasional link or comment, but they read and listen and watch a lot. I attribute it to the genius of the late Steve Jobs that he realized that existing personal computer were built by content creators for content creators, enabling him to start a revolution of devices built for content consumption instead, which was closer to what the public wanted. This included the iPad, which instead of earlier, failed, attempts at making tablet computers did away with content creation features like handwriting recognition, concentrated on features to consume content.
Unfortunately I am more of a content creator than a content consumer. I don't listen to music much, nor do I spend a lot of time watching videos on the internet. Instead I spend a lot of time writing, mostly in the form of this blog. As a result I don't own a tablet computer (nor a smart phone), as these devices simply aren't all that suitable for content creation. You *can* send an e-mail from an iPhone, or write a blog entry on an iPad, but given the choice you'd rather do it on a regular PC.
I want to interact with the web, not just consume it. A few years ago a work-mate was teasing me and another colleague over our gaming. How much time we wasted. My response to this guy--a Red Sox fan-- was, "How much time do you spend watching baseball or football on TV? The only difference between that and my gaming is that I have an effect on the outcome of the game I am watching." He was a consumer of product, I at least interact with product in a constructive way.
Another thing is that the social (i.e. chat) aspects of the game are hampered by the interface. Unless you are using a VOIP system like Ventrilo, you have to find a way to interact with your fellow players. You could add a keyboard and mouse, but then you are looking at something resembling my laptop anyway. I am not being critical of tablets or people use them. But I don't think I need one at this point in my life.
Monday, October 17, 2011
So MMOGC commented on a post Hunters Insight made regarding guild applications. Much of the following is from my comment on GeeCee's post. Hunter flat out doesn't like applications. GeeCee gives them a reserved thumbs-up.
The two guilds in WoW that I have been a part of that were/are arguably progression-oriented raiding guilds did not have an application process other than friends recruiting friends. None of them ever knew my real name, until we became Facebook friends. And that was long after I'd joined. I normally have little use for external guild websites, either, spending much of my non-game leisure time on Twitter, G+, and blogs. The time I have to be on the guild website is usually the same time I have to be actually playing the game itself. The MMO I have been in that required coordination for raids I was interested in joining had a built-in calendar, with raid sign-ups.
On the other hand, I was once in a supposedly casual guild that was insisting that people already in the guild sign up/participate in the external website. They had grown too large too fast to know everyone in the guild. But the way they went about it, threatening to kick people who had not registered on the site in guild-chat--and through /tells--was a huge turn-off. My lovely bride and I almost rage-quit on the spot. The guild itself later imploded and folded into another guild, for various reasons. We did not follow our former guildmates and are still guildless on those toons.
Identifying players and alts in-game is not usually too hard if the leadership uses the in-game guild interface, in my humble opinion. There are usually public notes and officer notes that can be used to identify people, if it is necessary. Plus, any guild doing "srs bsns" probably has a Vent server where people will become known by voice and name, even if that name is an alias. I am almost always Rowan in voice chat, and I knew a guy whom everyone called Joan, because his paladin was Joanofarc and all his alts were variants thereof.
So I guess I'd say guild applications have a place, but too often ask the wrong things or get too personal for something that--from my perspective, at least--is far too casual an activity.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
LOL so it has taken 8 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes, 23 seconds of play time, and about 8 months of real life time, but my lovely bride and I have finally achieved the level cap in Rift. Thanks to the Spousal Leveling Contract and some inspiration from MMOGC, we recorded the moment for posterity. Hehe, DW seemed almost more excited about this than the wedding last month. ;P
The first quest we picked up after hitting 50?
His response follows:
Motorola Atrix has an accessory "laptop" dock that turns the phone into the CPU for a larger user interface with a keyboard mouse and screen. The current Windows Phone 7 is a precurser to Windows 8. My friend's fully functional, dockable Tablet is not far off.It seems appropriate that in memoriam to [Steve] Jobs, I really consider this seriously.
You've thrown down a gauntlet, whether you know it or not. It's easy for any of us to say, "Oh, this is a transitional product." But really, it's a cop-out, if we can't describe where things are heading.
Here's my take:
The tale of the pad/tablet computer is nothing new. It's long and storied. Beginning back in 1988, I'd say, with the GRID tablet. Followed shortly by the Apple Newton. And then the waves of PDA's culminating with Blackberry. (Side Note: Blackberry isn't doing as great as either of us thought. 'They' believe they're in trouble. Are they really in trouble or has some unnatural part of their audience gone to smart phones which suit them better? Doesn't matter. RIM is panicking. They're self-destructing over this. Officially looking for a 'Strategic Partner.' Insiders have only sold stock for over 12 months.)
Previous pads/tablets ultimately failed. Why?
1) They were by nature tethered. They downloaded stuff from a real computer.
2) In the beginning, companies thought people wanted something to scribble on. Handwriting recognition became the axle everyone was hopelessly wrapped around.
3) The visual interface moved backwards in computer time. The screen was something circa 1978.
4) The tradeoff was always sophistication vs size. No way for any product line to really evolve. Phones and PDA's got bigger and bigger until they were too big to carry.
So, what's different today?:
1) WiFi and cellular Internet. Very, very, loose tether. What tether there is, has nothing to do with another computer.
2) Pads, for the most part, can replicate a computer multimedia experience, as we understand one.
What remains as an obstacle:
1) The data tether is an ongoing recurring charge. That limits the audience who can afford this.2) They're large. Lugging becomes an issue fairly quickly.3) The promise of Internet disguises the pain of interactivity. 'Touch screens' and 'typing' are non sequiturs.
So, what will we be left with?:
Another island of devices that the vast majority of people can never own. It doesn't replace anything. It costs too much. Don't be swayed by sales numbers. LOTS of PDA's got sold in the late 90's. How many survived? How many got put in a closet? People will get tired of buying $15 movies and books for their iPad. Then what happens to them?
People will not leave their smartphones behind for a Pad. People will not leave their laptop behind for a Pad. It's really the same boat that the Netbooks found themselves in. Neat functionality that doesn't replace anything.
I see two game changers:
1) Detachable Pad. When docked, it's a laptop. When detached, it's a Pad. Some companies are showing something like this, but they fall short. I say when it's docked, it runs Win-7. When detached, it boots into a battery friendly version of Android. That parts tricky, but very doable. It just runs counter to the thinking of the Dells, Microsofts, and Apples of the world. The people that can afford a Pad now, would prefer this. Many people wed to their laptops would embrace this. This would be a killer machine, and a game changer, if under $1500.
2) Car Pad. Just like car stereos trumped the impracticality of the portable transistor radio in the 1960's, I think car mounted Pads gets around most of the transport beefs with Pads. Most idle time in America is in cars. That's where Pads will flourish. Why not build them in? Size and weight as considerations go away. What would families give for a device that could stream Pandora in the front, and stream Netflix in the back of a minivan? Very easy to do with a tablet and 4G. Look at how close Ford and Microsoft are to this with Synch right now.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
So my lovely bride finally convinced me to get a new phone. I am very excited that my android-based
Samsung Infuse has a Blogger app and Swype, so I am imitating Scarybooster and blogging from my phone. This is really cool, but hard to get used to. I suddenly have a lot more respect for your efforts, Scary.
It wouldn't be a Scary-like post without a reference to games and bodily functions of kind, so I'll just opine that my immersion is broken because NPCs never fart when I'm around. It's just not realistic. ;)
A person's perception of MMOs really has a lot more to do with their own mental state than anything else. If you’re into it, you can overlook all kinds of huge, glaring flaws. Or even think the flaws are positives. Once burnout sets in, everything seems to be awful and stupid.Thanks to Harbinger Zero for the heads up on the OP.
Friday, October 7, 2011
The world has a label for those people play certain games: Gamers. Athletic-game players are usually not included in this term. The net nanny at my office blocks gaming news sites, but not ESPN and the like. Reminds me of the way Dex Jettster referred to the Kaminoan "Cloners" in hushed tones in "Attack of the Clones." Much like the terms "Muslim" or "Christian" actually encompass hugely diverse groups of people of differing opinions and philosophies, this broad term, "Gamer," encompasses many different styles of gameplay, from tabletop role-playing and war games, to video-game console first person shooters, RPGs, and massively multiplayer online games. Within MMOGs, you have gamers who prefer player vs. player combat, and others who are so-called end-game raiders. You have casual as opposed to hardcore, long-time veterans and newcomers. Also like the religious terms, the groups encompassed by the term "Gamer" are often at each other's throats over what is the one true way to play the game. Sometimes a player's choice not only of gameplay but their game choice, itself, is derided by other gamers. Frankly, I am sick of it.
I quoted Robert E. Howard in a post in early September:
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing."This is more true today in the Internet age than it ever has been in the history of the world. I read in either the book Collapse or Guns, Germs and Steel, both by Jared Diamond, that the people of New Guinea are both smarter than the average American and far more polite. This is because they are more likely to die in a homicide than any any American or European could dream of. Of course, we're not talking about dying in your sleep with a knife in your back. As Captain Malcolm Reynolds once told Doctor Simon Tam in the TV show Firefly:
Why are we so quick to disparage someone's intellect or character because of their preference for one game over another? So I don't like Lord of the Rings online and you do. Do I have any right to call into question your mental acuity or parentage? So I prefer PvE leveling and questing to PvP or end-game raiding. And I somehow less of a gamer--less of a person--as a result?
Wolfshead, in a rant about the deficiencies of Rift on Syp's BioBreak, closed with the following:
"There is nothing ahead that has me excited about virtual worlds. I’m tired of the hype. The caliber of the “community” that is dominated by selfish spoiled kids, teens and adult slackers is at an all time low, the game design predictable and stale. The typical virtual world of today feels like a MacDonald’s playground. When I started playing MMOs 12 years ago I couldn’t wait to get home from work to log on. I haven’t had the feeling for years."
I thought for a second he was going to yell at all of us to get off his lawn. The number of people playing MMORPGs today has skyrocketed, thanks much to World of Warcraft, but also other games based on popular Intellectual Properties like Conan the Barbarian and Star Trek. I personally communicate with several people who never played an MMO before Star Trek Online launched. Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the same. These people have differing expectations and outlook than the relatively very few who played the first MMOs. Thousands of people who have never played an MMO will buy it and play and love the game. I plan to play; and though it won't be the wondrous experience I had when I first logged into WoW, I look forward to the fully voiced dialogue and various storylines I will experience.
Many have derided the emphasis on single-player questing in SWTOR and other MMOs. "What happened to the grouping we did in early WoW and other true MMOs?" they say. I have rarely been on the same level as players in guilds I have been part of until I reached max level. If someone has needed or asked for help in an area of the world I was playing in, I helped. I was sociable, but few of them turned out to be lifelong friends. I currently play Rift with my lovely bride; and we occasionally play WoW with a few friends I know in real life. We are doing our own thing and being peripherally sociable with the Rift guild. Why force me to group up if I don't want or need to? Because of the time that I started in WoW, mid-2006, there were not many players around to help me when I needed to complete group-oriented quests, and they sat in my questlog until I could finally complete them on my own, or I just dropped them. I've done end-game raids and enjoyed them. However, the endless repetition for meager reward got to me, and I ended up dropping out of that style of play. I prefer to learn the stories of the areas I am in. Raiding is all too often a matter of learning when to stand where to avoid damage while maximizing our own. Some call this skill, and I suppose it is, but not in the same sense as actually learning to fence, or play the piano, or build a house.
There was a Google+ discussion yesterday about the merits of gentle "grinding" in the new game Glitch, and how it can be therapeutic. Many players, who PvP or otherwise want an intense game to give them an adrenalin rush, cannot fathom this preference, even if it is occasional on the part of "casual" players. I understand it, even though I rarely feel the need to indulge in it. Again, I am in it for the story and for the visuals. I rarely watch television any more, because I prefer my virtual worlds and their interactivity, even if they are themeparks. Do I think some go too far "on-the-rails"? Yes, but that is a matter of degree, and my opinion differs from many others.
Tobold Stoutfoot has opinions I don't always agree with, but in two recent posts, I think he hit several nails right on the head. The long term veteran players are probably not the target audience for modern MMOs. I can be considered mid-term myself. I am just about done with World of Warcraft after 5+ years, but I still enjoy the basic gameplay style. I have long thought that the vast majority of people playing WoW and other MMOs are not reading or posting in the forums, nor are they reading or writing blogs about the games. As Tobold said, listening to the extrememly vocal minority in the forums broke WoW, perhaps irrevocably.
"Nobody ever listened to the needs of the silent majority, who actually liked leveling, and would have liked the expansions to lengthen their leveling fun, and make it more challenging."
So to answer the question in my post title: I am a mostly solo--or small-group--PvE quester, who enjoys the support roles more than pure DPS. I am a carebear, not a cutthroat. I value a good story above heart-pumping gameplay. I play MMORPGs to relax, not to get excited. I am an altoholic. I like roleplay and can become attached to my characters. I want a challenge, not an impossibility. I like WoW, Rift, STO, and anticipate playing both SWTOR and Guild Wars 2. If you think I'm dumb for any or all of that, I honestly have no time for you.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I'm still wondering why only six ship types. Why do the Jedi and Sith share ship types? I can kinda see it from a lore-ish standpoint for the Jedi, but the two Sith types seem to me like they might be mutually contemptuous of each other. The inquisitors would see the warriors as unsubtle brutes, and be seen by them as effete schemers. I could be wrong of course.
Most people know about Thursday evening's beta email flub, by now. Unfortunately, I think that may have overshadowed this week's Friday Update. I am told the SW nerd-rage brought down the forum servers in such a way that people who had work to do were unable to. Announcements were made on various internet venues almost immediately, so it was not hard for me to find info. But I expected sooner the explanatory (no apology necessary) email that was sent out early yesterday regarding the incident. Gloom-and-doomers are declaring that the sky will fall on 20 December. I disagree. Stuff happens and we move on. I suspect that in three months, this goof will be a distant memory as we wander around Korriban and Tatooine: "Hey, remember when we all got that thank you email for the beta we weren't in? lulz."
In any event, I am ever more excited about the chance to explore the worlds of the Old Republic. I didn't play KOTOR or KOTORII when I had the chance. I'll bet there's a book or two with the official stories out there.