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Carbine Studios in One Minute June 7, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, WildStar.
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5 comments

A quick round up of the history of Carbine Studios, makers of WildStar.

(Direct link to video)

One thing that always strikes me about the group that started Carbine is that they left Blizzard in 2005, long before WoW peaked, many months before the first expansion, and even before the game really settled down and worked out some of the early annoyances and rough patches.  Now, more than 8 years down the line, when many other aspirants to the WoW throne have launched and stumbled, here they are at last.

I did think the partabout “paths” in the video was more than a bit off.  Carbine did not interview anybody, they just used the Bartle types and said as much.

April Fools at Blizzard – 2014 April 1, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Humor.
Tags:
9 comments

The day is upon us, April Fools, where we must filter through the funny, the flat, the trite, and the just plain mean.

Blizzard has always spent some effort on this front, and usually has something interesting for us each year.  You can look at past reviews:

Last year we got mostly retreads of previous April Fools entries.  This year Blizzard has a few new items.

Draenei Female Model

First up is a news item about the character model updates.  The new models, announced at BlizzCon, have been the focus of front page posts before.  But today’s look at the female Dranei model turns the character into an outlet for someone’s Miley Cyrus jokes, getting some special emotes such as /twerk.

You can find it here.

Blizzard Outcasts

Then there is also a “new game” announcement for Blizzard Outcasts: Vengence of the Vanquished.

Blizzard Outcasts

Blizzard Outcasts

It purports to be a fighting game for using characters from Blizzard lore who… well.. die.  Wirt.  Deckard Cain.  Liddy Raynor.  The video included shows it to be an 8-bit side scrolling fighter akin to Street Fighter.  The game also includes a special new controller that includes a credit card interface to play.

The page for the game, including a list of heroes and a FAQ, can be found here.

Happy Reaper

The Diablo III site features a Blizzard entry into the mobile market, Happy Reaper.

AF02HappyReaper

 

A spin on Flappy Bird, there is even a playable demo (Unity plugin required) linked from the announcement.

Herald of the Stars

There is an announcement regarding the name of the next StarCraft II expansion.  The Protoss focused release is alleged to be called StarCraft II: Herald of the Stars, which purports to be playable with the time stream running in either direction.

AF03SC

The full announcement is here.

WoW 6.0 Patch Notes

All the changes destined for Warlords of Draenor.  Flightmasters will now be Walkmasters, to prevent confusion with that other Blizzard game, the “Hearthstone” will now be called the “Homerock” and so on.  Find the full forum post here.

New Hero of the Storm

Blizzard’s MOBA has announced a new hero today.

Pajamathur!

Pajamathur!

Others Entries

That is all I saw on my early morning run through the Blizzard web sites.  They may put up more later, which I will add when I get a chance.  The new release games, such as Hearthstone and the Reaper of Souls expansion, seem to be free of direct parody, probably to avoid mixed messages with titles still getting established.

So we got some fresh items this year.

Who else has some decent April Fools entries?

 

WowCraft Episode 1- Character Creation March 28, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Humor, World of Warcraft.
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3 comments

A new humor series about World of Warcraft is starting on YouTube.  Called WowCraft, it naturally opens with character creation.

I like the criteria presented for class selection.  Simple and direct.

On the other hand, I never have much problem with name selection.  I suspect my conventions for character naming are… different.

In Which We Have Always Been At War With Eastasia January 21, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Humor.
Tags: , , , ,
18 comments

The situation in null sec has been described as “the big blue donut,” in reference to all of the various levels of relationships between the alliances in zero-zero space.  The term is especially popular with EVE Online players who aren’t in null sec alliances, but who enjoy watching them fight each other and who grow bored when there is a lull in the fighting.  If we’re not fighting, they’re not happy.

EVE Online Big Blue Donut

Popular theory summed up in a simple image

Null sec is not only a marketing tool for CCP, it is also a great gladiatorial arena for much of New Eden.

The fact that the blue donut theory has been shown to be false by the almost constant stream of sovereignty level wars hasn’t stopped people from clinging to it as gospel truth.  Arguments go on about it being myth or reality.  So I am here to offer up an alternative theory that keeps some of the spirit of the blue donut, but which I feel describes the situation more accurately.

I give you the map.

Eternal War

Eternal War

The names are references to an obscure book you probably never read, but do represent the level of entrenchment that each of these power blocs represent.  There is Oceania, or the CFC in the north, so-name because I happen to live there and the rest of this parody won’t make sense unless I claim this as my home.  Plus we have a MiniLuv already.  Go us.

There Is Eastasia, or the N3 coalition, because they are in the east, so they can suck it.  Plus we have always been at war with them.  And there are the Russians, who get the geographically correct name of Eurasia.

Rather than a single blue donut, we have these three powers at war forever.  The wars flare up, the wars fade for a bit, but there is always pressure to strike at your potential foe lest they become too strong and pose a threat to your political philosophy.  War must also continue to keep each society going, to keep each pod pilot engaged and active.  The sense of null sec begins to take shape when viewed through this prism.

For example, you might look at the map and wonder why Eastasia and Eurasia haven’t teamed up to attack the physically larger Oceania.  The thing is, Oceania actually had to step in and ally with Eurasia as Eastasia had pressed Eurasia back to the point of near collapse.  It is in Oceania’s interest to keep the three way balance going.  It is also in Eastasia’s interest to do so, and so they have accepted Oceania’s entry into the war with barely a mutter.  All the better to keep Oceania engaged and to keep Eurasia alive.

This story has played out before.  In the distant past, Eurasia help Oceania when the current version of Eastasia at the time went for all-out extermination of Oceania.  That was before all parties understood the need for each other to maintain the balance, when they might have truly believed they were different from each other rather than being shadowy reflections.

Each bloc is made up of a hierarchy which, while they might have different names, are essentially the same.  For Oceania the hierarchy looks like this:

The Happy Triangle

The Happy Triangle

At the top there is The Mittani.  He exists as the personification of Oceania and doesn’t even have to fly in space in order to lead.  He actively led a war of conquest while banned from the game.  Some say he may not actually exit, but simply be an amalgam of the members of the next level, the Inner Leadership.

The Inner Leadership sets the goals and agenda of Oceania.  They are the only ones fully in “the know” as to why we are at war and what the real purpose of each campaign is.  Did we really fight TEST for a bunch of moons, or was it a purge to preserve the political orthodoxy of null sec?  Sure, Eastasia kept TEST going for a bit just to inflict pain on Oceania, but in the end they knew where their interests lay.  TEST had to go.

The Inner Leadership is also the group that benefits from all of the RMT riches that Spiny Norman keeps going on about.  The Inner Leadership lives in relative luxury compared to the rank and file.

Finally, the Inner Leadership maintains cordial relations with the leaders of the other two blocs and conducts trade and treaty talks in the midst of any wars.  The spice must flow.

Next is the Tactical Leadership.  These are the corp leaders, pet alliance leaders, people with Wing Command V trained who are are allowed to backseat drive on ops, Fleet Commanders who aren’t allowed to FC capital ships (except Dabigredboat), and others in minor to middling leadership positions.  They rally the troops, get numbers to show up for ops, spread the word on doctrine and, most importantly, enforce orthodoxy through propaganda and the mandatory two minutes of hate before each op. (I love the SirMolle part.)  They are the ones who remind the masses that riches are spread about based on fleet participation, that the war is for moons or honor or whatever, that N3 is literally Band of Brothers, and that Oceania has always had rental space.  There is some debate amongst outsiders as to whether they actually believe these things when they are saying them or not.  Doublethink is complicated and not easy to comprehend unless one is immersed in it.

Below the Tactical Leadership is the highest tier of the masses, the pilots who have managed to train Leadership V and can thus occupy squad leader positions in fleets.  They are not allowed to do anything special and get no benefits, but they are occasionally praised as giant fleet operations could not get off the ground if nobody could take squad leadership.  They are like, to quote Tom Lehrer, corporals without portfolio.  This is me, so I might be biased about the level of importance.

Then there are the proles… erm… the pods.  They are fed wartime propaganda, are encourage to hate the enemy (with whom, as I noted, the Inner Leadership is actually friendly), driven to train for a constantly changing set of fleet doctrines so that they never feel like they have “caught up,” and who are told to group their guns or assign their drones, to target only what is broadcast, to form up on their designated anchor ship, and to otherwise follow the directions of their Fleet Commander and press F1 when required.  Oceania provides them ships at a slight markup and pays a sum out for any ship lost during a fleet operation in order to keep participation numbers up in a sort of “Space Communism” or “GoonSoc” that provides the minimum necessary to keep its pod soldiers in the game.

GoonSoc Doubleplusgood

GoonSoc Doubleplusgood

And then, somewhere below all of that, there are the renters that the blocs use to fund their empires.  But they hardly count.  They are resources to be fought over and have shown that they will pay rent to whoever controls their space… and sometimes to people who don’t even hold their sovereignty at the moment, just to ensure a smooth transition.

The other two blocs have similar hierarchies tailored to match their own philosophies, Neo-Tsarism for Eurasia and CapFleet Worship in Eastasia.

And so it goes in null sec, where war is eternal and provides jobs, resource destruction, entertainment, and marketing value for many.

Well, war would be eternal if the nodes were up to it.  But that is another story.

You Know Who Else Stopped At Helm’s Deep? Ralph Bakshi January 15, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: ,
7 comments

As part of the Middle-earth discussion, Potshot brought up the Ralph Bakshi animated version of Lord of the Rings, illustrating that other efforts to adapt Tolkien’s work to a new medium haven’t always made it to the end.

The Lord of the Rings!

The Lord of the Rings!

But the strange thing is where the Ralph Bakshi movie version ended.  Helm’s Deep.  Right where LOTRO has ended up.

Not that LOTRO is done or anything, but they haven’t announced where they are headed between now and the next panic point in 2017.

As an aside, here is the best review of the Ralph Bakshi movie.  I remember the feelings it describes quite well.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – The Serious Trailer September 21, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor.
Tags:
6 comments

Somebody took the classic movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail and used clips from it to create a “coming attractions” style preview in order to imagine it as a serious movie.  This was the result.

(link to original)

It is still hard not to laugh when you are familiar with the scenes they used.

Blog Banter #48 – You Want the Lore? You Can’t Handle the Lore! August 8, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Humor.
Tags: ,
3 comments

Mrs Caldari Citizen 561237412,

We deeply regret to inform you that your son, Caldari Citizen 564752873, was killed in action on July 28th. His ship, the Dongs Dongs Butttes Dongs, self-destructed for unknown reasons.

A Board of Inquiry was formed to address these issues. Captian xWeedLordXxXGoku420x was found to have acted properly on all counts when the court learned that he was 27 jumps from home and his ship was a stock-issue Slasher. He has been provided a new crew and Slasher.

In deepest sympathy,
The Mittani
CEO Goonwaffe
(signed on his behalf)

In partial fullfilment of Blog Banter #48, which asks, “How important is the lore in EVE Online?”

Not very important at all.

There, am I done yet?

No?

Okay, some of the lore does get impressed upon us at.  The tutorial explains the EVE Gate and how humanity ended up in New Eden, though it never quite gets to why I feel the need to write “EVE” in all capital letters.  It isn’t an acronym.  It is just the way that CCP styles it.  But back to lore.  I bet some of you can even tell me which system in EVE Online the  EVE Gate resides in.

The lore also explains the four main factions of EVE Online, their background and political system.  And while I am sure players tend to skim over that sort of thing, I bet most can match up the faction with its political system.  Go ahead, print this out and drawn a line between the faction and the description of it’s primary political philosophy.

Amarr          Shareholder Rights
Caldari        Rounded Edges
Gallente       Worship of the Rust God
Minmatar       Aging Skinhead Rulers

And the lore of EVE Online does touch us nearly every day, influencing our decisions, shaping our goals.

There is the Consolidated Cooperation and Relations Command, better known as CONCORD. (As with the Amalgamation of Regional Militia (ARM), it sounds like the acronym came first, then some words were forced into place.)  CONCORD is part of the lore and it heavily influences how PvP happens in large parts of space.  Who you can shoot, what gates you can go near, how you fit your ship for a gank, and whether or not you are safe to fly in high sec space at all is influenced by CONCORD.

Likewise, the somewhat insane lore that dictates that you can insure ships influences behavior in game.  The reimbursement policy of many an alliance assumes that you will buy the Platinum Insurance Package for your ship before you fly off into battle.  I would love to see the balance sheet for the insurance system of New Eden.  It is probably so out of balance that we should consider magic money to be part of the lore as well.

And then there are ships and ship design philosophies, which is probably where lore comes closest to touching every single player in EVE Online.  Some of it is so ingrained that people might not even think of it as lore.  That the Amarr like phallic shapes, that the Caldari think asymmetry makes them edgy and modern, that the Gallente think green doesn’t make them look fat, and that the Minmatar have figured out how to make metal rust in a vacuum… plus the various armament and tanking philosophies… influence our ship choices.

But it emphasizes my front still, right?

Some (or all) of those philosophies end up becoming part of the game framework of any long term player.  And it is driven by lore.

So the lore is important to the degree that it does shape our play style choices.  But the lore doesn’t stop there.  No, it just keeps on rolling.

There are ongoing updates from CCP about the political struggles amongst the four major NPC factions, like that time… when that guy… crashed his ship into that station… and the Caldari and the Gallente went to war or some such… and the dead station was there in space for all of us to ignore as we went about our very important space business.  And then Factional Warfare was introduced, left to stagnate for a while, and was eventually spruced up and incentivized so people would play it.  And manipulate it.  Because this is EVE Online.  That was all part of one plan.  I think.

There are the back stories to all of those infinitely staffed and supplied rebel/pirate organizations, like Sansha’s Nation and The Guristas.  I am not sure how deeply involved with that back story anybody really gets when running missions or clearing anomalies, so long as there are more to shoot.

And then there are the lore details that most people don’t even get to.  Like the fact that, according to the lore, ships have crews.  That is canon right there bub, you do not fly alone.   Somebody has to tend the fedos.

People discover, dig up, or remember the crew thing every so often.  Jester wrote about it back in March, mostly to muse aloud about whether crews that live long enough ought to bestow benefits upon ship performance.  He also put up this nice little chart that I can never find when I look for it, so I am going to steal it right from him.

Ship Staffing Parameters

Ship Staffing Parameters

Somebody in the Something Awful forums stumbled upon the ship’s crew aspect EVE Online, and the game discussion thread devolved into an exploration of that bit of lore for several pages.  The quote at the top of this post is from one of the responses to the crew question, an example of the thousands of letters of condolence that one might imagine has to be sent out after battles like the one at 6VDT.  Boodabooda’s signature might have been stamped on as many as 25,000 such notes just for Prophecy crews alone after that battle, assuming a crew of 100 and a 30% survival rate.

And the discussion went on to wonder where all these crew members come from.  How do you recruit the thousands of warm bodies needed to work the internal systems of the ships in your fleet.  At 6VDT we had more than 900 Megathrons in the system, which could represent more than 270,000 crew members.  Who signed them up?  How did they get out to 4-EP?  Who feeds them?  What motivated them to join one side or another?  Are citizens of the various empires press ganged into serving?  Are conditions down on the planets of New Eden so terrible that a likely death in the vacuum of space seems like a reasonable choice and where most of your life is spent in a station in the middle of contested space?  And to whom do these crews hold allegiance?

Sometimes it might not be in your best interest to look too closely at the game lore.

But I will change my opening statement and grant that the lore is important, at least as a framework for our lives in New Eden.  It just is not that important in terms of the story of our own experiences in EVE Online, the tales we tell and the memories we create through playing the game.  In the end, player made lore behind a list like this:

2009-02-04
16:04 Alliance Band of Brothers has been disbanded
16:04 Corporation Keiretsu has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Relentless Construction has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Tin Foil has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Black Eclipse Corp has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Reikoku has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Destructive Influence has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation TAOSP has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Black Nova Corp has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation gettingaDeathSquad has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Justice. has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Evolution has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation FinFleet has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Oh Canada has left alliance Band of Brothers
16:04 Corporation Umbrage Inc. has left alliance Band of Brothers

is far more important than where the Guristas came from (and why they keep coming back) or what happens to your crew when your ship gets blown up… again.

Other, more serious entrants in the Blog Banter:

Starfleet Dental – Star Citizen Propaganda Video of Strongly Beating Spirit August 2, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, Star Citizen.
Tags: , ,
4 comments

Starfleet Dental, having moved on from Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2, now has its sights set on Star Citizen.

And with such a change in focus, there must be propaganda.

(Direct link to video)

Another fine Starfleet Dental video.  Ample conditions and possibilities to realize national cooperation indeed!  It is like Dear Leader is speaking directly to ME.

But it made me think about Star Citizen, and all the more so since the game came up in corp coms the other night.

Up until then, the game had been something of a fuzzy blur in my peripheral vision.  When it came up on coms, I could just pull up some general information from my brain… space game… a Kickstarter campaignthe guy who made Wing Commander.  Somewhere along the line Gaff mentioned some people in EVE were invested in the idea of the game.

But when one of my corp mates said he pledged four figures to the project and that another guy in the corp was likewise invested in the high three figures, I was jolted upright thinking, “Is this even a ‘thing’ yet?”  I had to go look this up and figure out what was going on.

The Kickstarter finished up last November.  They asked for half a million dollars and got over two million through Kickstarter, along with even more through direct pledges.  The Kickstarter page says that they made it to the 5.5 million dollar stretch goal, though Wikipedia says they set a record by getting 4.2 million in funding.  Either way, a lot of money was thrown at this project.  And the money has continued to roll in, as you can apparently still get in on the action with a pledge, so that the current take appears to have topped 15 million dollars.

And Star Citizen certainly seems to promise a lot.  The game is a “rich universe focused on epic space adventure, trading and dogfighting in first person.”  It will be available as an MMO-like online form, a single player campaign, a private server version that is MOD-able, and as a floor wax if I read this right.  All with no subscription and no pay to win.

Is there a base left uncovered with that?

They were not done yet.  I am just going to list some of the key bullet points.

  • A huge universe to explore, trade and adventure in
  • Constantly expanding and evolving universe
  • Micro [weekly or bi-weekly] updates rule!
  • The conflict never ends
  • Actions of the players impact the universe and become part of its history and lore
  • Allowing user generated content is a key design goal
  • It’s about the gameplay and your interactions with others
  • Fully dynamic economy driven by player actions
  • Money isn’t everything
  • Space is empty but you’re never really alone
  • Bigger ships offer bigger multi-player action
  • Intelligent Flight Control System (IFCS)
  • Dynamic Ship Maneuverability
  • Ship Components matter!
  • 10X the detail of current AAA games
  • Everything you would imagine would move or articulate on a spaceship or a device – does!
  • Range of scale never seen before in a game
  • Really feel the scale of ships and space battles

And those just the ones that sort of made sense without the subsequent description.  And there is more information on the main site, some of which has be distilled into various wikis.

All of which sounds totally awesome.  A wondrous new dawn for the long neglected space sim genre may be upon us.  If you search for related videos on YouTube or just Google the name, you will find a relentless wave of enthusiasm out there for Star Citizen, to the point that it is almost difficult to find anything concrete about the game.

Which is enough to set off alarm bells in the back of my head.

So much pent up joy for a game that won’t be in anything like its final release state until some time in 2015 by current estimates.

I can only recall past promises from other games and myself and guild mates getting too invested, pinning too many hopes and dreams, on things that never quite came to pass.  Sitting in coms playing EverQuest II while gushing about how Vanguard was going to be the REAL successor to EverQuest.  Brad McQuaid would save us.  Or the whole cycle up to the launch or Warhammer Online.  And, as pointed out elsewhere, promises of an all encompassing space sim have failed us before.

Not that I am calling bullshit on Chris Roberts, or making a claim of equivalence with that last link.  The man has a enviable track record, which is a large part of what is building up the enthusiasm.  But there was Freelancer, which shipped late and ended up being a different bird than initially promised.  And the bar being set for Star Citizen seems unbelievably high to my skeptical eye.

But it is still tough to stifle the part of me that wants this all to be true and as good as described and that wants to throw money at my computer screen in the off chance that it might improve the likelihood of this dream coming to fruition.

Fortunately I am older and wiser than… well… younger and dumber me.

And I have other games to play while I wait for Star Citizen to come to pass in whatever form it ends up taking.

One of those games is, of course, EVE Online.  I have to imagine that a good chunk of subscribers to EVE play the game because it scratches the space sim itch for them.  That is certainly an aspect of the EVE package for me.  So the two games seems to be, if not in direct conflict, sharing a similar demographic.  I wonder what one will mean to the other when the time comes?

How about you?  Are you getting invested in Star Citizen yet?

And what is Starfleet Dental going between now and the launch of the game, currently expected in 2015?

More Propaganda from the War in Fountain July 26, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Humor.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

I have continued to collect propaganda from the was that people have linked in local. You can see the last batch I posted here.

I decided that I had best post what I have today, given the uncertain state of the war.  TEST got robbed yesterday by a disgruntled director and then later stood down all ops.  The changes in Fountain for July have all been TEST losses so far.  PNQY-Y and four other systems fell to CFC alarm clock ops last night.  And while the new TEST military director has brave words for the alliance, they seem to sum up to “let’s go die hilariously.”  So on to the propaganda!

TEST vs. Goons

TEST vs. Goons

While I pitch this as TEST vs. Goons, one of the most prolific creators of propaganda during the war has been Marne Deville of Gentleman’s Agreement, an alliance in the CFC.   He has also created some of the best and most memorable pieces and his work is well represented in local.  You will find some of his work below.  Aside from those, which are signed, and one that I recognize from Alizabeth Vea’s forum signature, the authors are unknown.  I post them with the usual caveat that if your work is shown and you want it removed, please let me know.

Propaganda after the cut.

(more…)

Quote of the Day – On Ruining Video Games July 18, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Microsoft backpedaled like an anarchist on a tandem bicycle

Robert Brockway, on Microsoft’s post-E3 change of heart

That quote sort of epitomizes why I go read Cracked.com on a regular basis.  It made me laugh.

I am not even sure if it makes sense as a metaphor.  I had to Google “anarchist” and “tandem bicycle” to see if there was some obscure reference with which I was unfamiliar.  The best I came up with was two French men on a bicycle.

TandemBikd

I suppose that is close enough.

But even as I am chuckling at such things, I get the suspicion at times that Cracked is really a cover to discuss serious issues under the cover of humor.  The quote above came from the article 4 New Video Game Realities that will Kill the Industry, which actually gets at the heart of a couple of things that bother me.

Of course, then they will have another absurd comic book villains article to throw me off the scent that they might have serious master plan.