The future is here!!!
WARCRAFT III ON NINTENDO REVOLUTION ZOMG YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!!
The future is here!!!
WARCRAFT III ON NINTENDO REVOLUTION ZOMG YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!!
Why, hello there, dear blog readers! If you’ve just came in with coffee in hand, I suggest taking some time to scroll a little bit downwards to the next latest entry, by CrashWire. You know what they say: ‘coffee is a drink best served with words.’ Or something like that.
Hey! Welcome back! So, did you have fun responding to CrashWire’s entry? Good. Now let’s get this show started. I’m just waiting to bombard you with words.
Let’s recap: CrashWire noted that game publishers should include some extra junk in order to sway a consumer’s decision between piracy or justice. However, I think he failed to see that if they put in a cloth or a figurine, then the original cost of the game would be higher. Most people, particularly the ones who have no idea what they’re getting themselves into with that 50USD purchase, do not want those nifty pack-ins. What they’re more interested in is a lower price to get their gaming on. And you have to realise that piracy is rampant, but not everywhere. $50 isn’t too far off from the 30 or 40 an average American might spend to look for a pirated games business, drive to it, and purchase the loot.
And for those who actually care about the piece of cloth, which really is just a piece of cloth.. well.. that’s where limited editions come in. And if you want that piece of cloth, you jolly well have the spending ability to get it.
Back to my point: imagine, if a game does not have a standard version, and only comes in the limited edition sort whereby all the extra goodies are packed. And everyone has to pay a heftier price for that only package. You think consumers won’t resort to piracy that way?
People just want more value for their money. More bang for their buck. More juice in that lemon. Whichever product gives them more value, wins. No doubt including some sort of memorabilia, yet retaining the same price-point as their competitors, is going to help developers get that roast chicken. But no matter how you see it, a pirated game is, technically, still a better package.
CrashWire mentioned that an original copy of a game may cost $50, while its pirated step-sibling a measly three. So what do you get for that extra $47? Quality casing, disc, and some black-and-white instruction manual. Like CrashWire said again, it’s not even worth collecting.
However, back when I bought NeverWinter Nights (PC) for $50 or $60, there was this pirate nearby hawking his copies for 10 dollars a disc. That’s $40 (3 installation discs and a play disc… I can’t remember). With just an additional 10 or 20 dollars, it occured to me that the original was a better product. And there’s also the resale value – an original product is certainly easier to resell than a hacked-in-China one.
But the game publishers can’t possibly make/price their games such that pirates won’t be able to make a better product out of their licensed work.
So what’s the best way to get more revenue? Fight piracy, of course. Raids and copyright protection technologies will definitely not root piracy. But it’s the best solution thus far.
But if you want to fight piracy, you better do it right. It’s a jungle out there, and without the proper war tactics, you’re going to be gunned down by the guerrillas, sucking away your resources.
I must really applaud Microsoft and their Xbox Live service. It has deterred a great many from purchasing pirated Xbox software, or even modding their Xbox consoles. Yes, if you are careful, modding your Xbox will not prevent it from going on Xbox Live – most modchips these days allow you to turn it off. However, once you turn off the mod, you can’t run your pirated software on it. Essentially, this means that anyone who’s interested to play Xbox games online, or even download additional content, will have to dish out the cash for the real deal. And guess what? Most of the greatest games on Xbox are critically raved because of their Xbox Live components.
PC games have a similar ‘CD key’ feature. Sometimes they may be cracked, or there may be a private online service for the game. But usually these cracks and private services take so much time and effort to find that an average salaryman would prefer sticking with the authentic experience.
Now THAT’S copyright protection.
Didja know.. THAT I AM BUSY? Well, now you do.
By now, most of you gamers out there would have already heard of the legendary videogame espionage soldier, Mr Solid Snake.
I first got acquainted with him in Metal Gear Solid 2 on the PS2. The initial impressions went right out the window when my heavy jaw fell clumsily on my foot just as a stealth-camourflaged Snake performed the leap of fate onto a Marines tanker. What an ‘impact-ful’ meeting that was – his camouflage device crumbled under the force.
After completing MGS2, I already knew how almighty Solid Snake is with all these crazy war situations. But, as many of you would know, only about a quarter of the game was about the exploits of the legend. Sure, Snake took down an unshaven, pregnant Russian Spetnaz armed with daggers, a USP, grenades, complete with as much ammunition she can have (just as long as Snake doesn’t die) all by himself… with an M9 tranquilizer gun. But none of that experience could have prepared me for the awesomeness that was to be unveiled in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Hideo Kojima tried to drop my guard by pitting the man-who-took-down-2-metal-gears-in-the-past against an old revolver freak who enjoyed getting shot in the head while taking his time to reload a 6-bullet handgun. The next thing I know, Solid Snake was up against an M1 armoured tank, complete with enemy-tracking systems and a manned machinegun. What did Snake have in his arsenal? Bazookas (according to Advance Wars, Bazooka-armed infantry units, called Mechs, are strong against tanks)? No. Stinger missiles, at least? No. Maybe Colonel Campbell would come through for Snake by dispatching an air bomber into the Alaskan base? Hell no. All Snake had was a couple of chaff and frag grenades. And he wins.
From disfigured, mask-donning psychics who can tell that Solid Snake plays Super Smash Brothers Melee to female snipers with names that are similar to the object of their fetish (hint: these animals howl), you name it, Solid Snake has killed it. A futuristic ninja who can parry streams of bullets, but not simple punches and kicks, with a hi-frequency blade? Checked. A long-lost brother who keeps whining about his father’s favouritism with an elaborate British accent? Been there, killed that. Naturally, the fact that Solid Snake was unbeatable sank in.
However, don’t by too happy, Solid Snake fans, for I have discovered David’s (that’s his real name, for those not in the know) worst enemy! One that he has yet to defeat! Guess who?
No, it’s not Solidus Snake.
No, not Raiden. He can’t even take on a heavily armed Goth poetess without first having to be sent on a tedious fetch quest, for Christ’s sake.
No, Solid Snake already called Meryl a rookie. And besides, according to MGS2, she’s dead.
Okay, enough guessing games. Let me present to you the ultimate kick-ass boss enemy that Solid Snake will NEVER be able to defeat!!
The saying “the rainbow comes only after the rain” is often true in life. You’ve heard your parents lament about it. You’ve seen the TV serials (local productions, anyway) dramatise the concept. You can smell it right off Jacky Chan’s conditioned body. You can feel it whenever a new project is entrusted unto you, and you can taste it if you follow through.
Then again, half of you reading this out there are hardcore gamers… no, wait, not just hardcore gamers – you are the cream of the elitist crop. You know that it’s true when you’ve spent days and months to unlock the extra hard modes in Sonic Heroes and Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando; when you have more than 1000 kills in Rainbow Six 3 online; 120 shines in Mario Sunshine; 255 every single stat in any Final Fantasy game; or when you dreamt about a uniquely unbeatable strategy for Warcraft III, and wake up from it just to apply the tactic.
The point I am driving here is that, as the convention follows, elite hardcore gamers have NO LIFE whatsoever. Now, before you refute and say ‘OMG! KIRBYSIM 5uXX0r5!’ while loading up your M16A2s to lock onto my puny head the next time I log onto Rainbow Six 3 on Xbox Live, hear me say ‘I’m one of you too.’ That’s right. In fact, this whole blog entry here is all about the egoistical ME. Those of you who hold the notion that KIRBYSIM, being the good-natured and kind-hearted gentleman he is, would one day dedicate a whole blog entry to your-insidious-selves can go DREAM. HAR HAR HAR. Not happy? Then get your hands dirty, and splat them in my face.
But I digress. Now that I’ve established that I’m a no-life, let me continue to report on my observation that the concept of having to roam the seven seas in order to finally locate that one piece of valuable treasure is true even for me. In other words, the precious fruits of gaming entertainment only come after much slogging. All you MMORPG players (yes, all 2 589 032 of you) should know. But, like I said, this entry is not about you, but ME. ALL HAIL THE ALMIGHTY! MUAHAHAHAHAHAA.. *chokes* cough! Cough! COUGH!
If you’ve read my previous blog entry here, you’ll know that I recently tried to indulge in a little Rainbow Six 3 online ass-shooting. You’d also know that I have been unsuccessful, and am quite sore that I had to sit and wait for 3 and a half hours before being able to declare that I’m multiplayer-ready. The three full bowls of garden pasta I made (hmm.. my nose just grew longer..) did help to sooth that sore, but it was not good enough to compensate me for what was to come:
I spent 2 whole days slogging in Rainbow Six 3 in an attempt to understand why the game was so highly rated by major game review publications everywhere. “This game SUCKS,” ricochet umpteen times in my head, because I never could appreciate the beauty of getting killed before I can even shoot, much less kill someone.
Or at least, it appeared so initially.
Eventually I learnt to proceed with extreme caution. I learnt to abuse leaning. I learnt to scope. I learnt to work with my squad. I accepted the game as what it was – parallel yet different from my past FPS experiences: Counter-Strike, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Halo, XIII.
And I had fun. Which explains why I had dedicated all my free time to Rainbow Six 3 for the past few days.
That in turn triggered an active cell, and eventually this whole blog entry, embedded somewhere in my visual pattern-recognising head: why did I think that this game sucks in the first place?
I sat down like a Zen monk, and thought for a bit.
“Come to think of it,” I continued, “I love Halo and Return to Castle Wolfenstein as well. But it wasn’t love at first sight. I faintly remember coming to a consensus with my casual-gaming buddies that Halo was over-rated. I also remember how I put Return to Castle Wolfenstein back into its Xbox casing 10 minutes after I first played it, because it gave me some serious motion sickness.”
As it turns out, I’d love nothing more than to take on polytechnic-mate-to-be and champion of the Halo World Cyber Games 2003 Singapore qualifiers Brendam Koh in a Halo match right now. The fact that he has thrashed me 25 to 5 many a times does not prevent me from dreaming of the day I’ll beat him consistently in a number of consecutive matches.
But that’s another story for another day.
To conclude, just like how you’d have to go to a JC, then a programming course at a university, and eventually become a lecturer at NUS before you can get selected by the EDB for an internship over at Sega Japan (if only so that you can own people in the ttttokyo Unreal Tournament 2004 server), gamers everywhere have to spend a ton of time reading the instruction manual, learning the controls and game physics, getting their butts kicked, and gathering tips from a plethora of game guides before they can get down to the motherload. That’s how videogames are.
And then there are Nintendo games. :)
Did’ja know.. that my Xbox Live GamerTag is ‘KIRBYSIM’? Add me if you’re looking to be stepped on by a Rainbow Six operative, shrouded by a pink evil aura, after getting fragged with a frag grenade.
It’s hard to game with other people these days, even if everyone involved has got the moola to spend.
As any local gamer who doesn’t live under a rock would know, Xbox Live has just been launched in Singapore, and inevitably that means that I’ve got a craving to frag some local ass.
So I got my starter kit soon after the launch, borrowed a couple of games from a friend, and started passing some hot lead around doggy(fight)-style in Crimson Skies (CS). At first, it was good. Thanks to a couple of local forums, I have been able to find a number of CS players whom I’ve had great games with, while it lasted.
That is to say, it didn’t last. A short stint, if you would. The chapter ended merely several days after its introduction paragraph – I found that the number of Crimson Skies players in my Friends’ list were gradually dropping, to the extent that it wasn’t interesting anymore. I reckon it was either because the more hardcore Crimson Skies players had other commitments to attend to, or they’ve got other games to play. With my blood boiling, and adrenaline still pumping, I needed another outlet to let off steam. After doing some homework, the realisation that Rainbow Six 3 is the solution to my sorrows set in… or so I thought.
So here I am, back home after grabbing a copy of Rainbow Six 3, supposedly one of the more popular multiplayer FPS on the Xbox. Without hesitation, I jumped the multiplayer gun as soon as the wrapper could be torn open. There were a couple of RS3 players online in my Friends’ list, and I seeked to join them… which I did… after 10 minutes of waiting for the game to patch itself. T___T ‘What a bitch to patch!’ I thought to myself. Boy, if only I had knew what was in store for me.
‘Fair enough,’ I thought, and proceeded to make myself a cup of tea (I don’t drink coffee) and some garden pasta during my wait. Eventually, it was time to get on with the show, and I joined a game with the local jockeys. One match was all I played – one particularly unexciting match for this gung-ho Rambo was shot down before he could even get his groove on – before the jokers decided to change the map.
It took the big black box 2 whole minutes to load the new playing map before it realised that it did not have the map downloaded yet. Bloody hell!
Of course, I could join an Ang Moh’s (that’s ‘foreigner’ in some Chinese dialect, for those of you international readers out there) game that did not require the additional content, but really, why would I want my ass handed to me on a golden platter by some f**k-spewing blondie who has had 6 months worth of experience in handing asses out online?
That brings me to the reason why I’m writing this blog entry in the first place. I really should be out there attempting to score some local asses (pun UNintended). Instead, I’m stuck writing this piece of ranting with absolutely colourful language while waiting for Rainbow Six 3 to download 1634 blocks of multiplayer mission data. I have no idea how many megabytes that translates to, but apparently it’s not MP3-small – the bugger’s taking an extremely long time. To top it all off, in order to make sure I won’t be dropped out of a game simply because any extra downloadable content was not found, I have to download SEVEN such freaking missions. Seven times 30 minutes = I have a lot of time to proofread this blog entry.
Hopefully by then the local players would still be online. If not, then all the wait was for naught.
Did’ja know.. that the word ‘ass’ was used 4 times throughout the whole 637-worded article written above?
It’s hard to review a game these days. Not only are the games getting so much more sophisticated, making playing through them quickly and yet accurately describing most of its pros and cons a difficult task, the reviewer also has to put up with criticism of his writing, sometimes only over the lack of one or two words or points.
That is why, in general, I respect people’s reviews even if I don’t agree with it, or if I spot a few grammatical or spelling mistakes in it.
However, there is a limit to how much one can put up with. That’s where Mr Terence Ang here comes in.
Recently, on my stay at i-CON, I managed to pick up a copy of the April issue of GameAxis Unwired. It’s a great publication, by the way – it’s free, has great content (mostly, anyway), is well-organised, has stuff to give away, and.. did I mention that it’s FREE?
Anyway, one fine day, I was sitting on the toilet bowl, reading GameAxis Unwired while ‘minding my own (big) business’ when I came to this Sonic Heroes review, written by freelance writer Terence Ang. It gave me the shock of my life – my standard of what a lousy review is just got lower.
Usually, if a review, say, makes a number of unforgiving grammatical mistakes or leaves out certain important details that may affect the score when describing a certain aspect, in my books it is considered bad. If it does both, it is considered awful. If on top of doing both, the reviewer also uses inept description, then it is considered lousy.
Mr Terence Ang’s Sonic Heroes review tops all that. It is ridiculous.
If you’ve still got the April issue of GameAxis Unwired somewhere in your backyard, please fetch it and do a read on the Sonic Heroes review (page 9) if you haven’t already, in order to better understand my rantings. I’m not going to quote the whole disaster.
Withstand the temptation I could not. Two weeks ago, I finally took the plunge for a new GameCube after selling off my old one only half a month before, and picked up where I left off in Phantasy Star Online Episode III (PSO3). That explains why there were no new entries from me within that last fortnight.
It was only after two weeks from the date of my resubmergence that I would be able to spam rantings (some famous examples include ‘OMG U FUGGING NOOB!’ and ‘W7F! CH34P!’) with a GameCube-compatible keyboard. In the meantime, I had to make do with the software keyboard, a ‘Word Select’ system, and an intriguing something Sonic Team affectionately dubbed ‘Symbol Chat’.
‘Word Select’ allows you to flip through a list of the most commonly used phrases, and pick one to say. That may not sound very interesting – it isn’t. What IS interesting is that if you select the phrase in English, Japanese, German, French, etc, players would see them in their respective native languages, if the language was supported. All in all, you could say ‘I want my mummy!~’ in 5 different languages in PSO Episode 1&2, and in 2 with Ep3.
Of course, just a simple list of basic phrases isn’t going to satisfy all the non-keyboard-owning players’ spamming needs. In fact, this ‘Word Select’ system isn’t all that interesting now anymore – Final Fantasy XI has a similar, and better system, whereby you could type anything in English/Japanese, and it would be machine-translated to the other language automatically.
‘Symbol Chat’ is something that no online game has been able to top yet. Welcome to the next level of online communication.
Elite speak? Lame. Emoticons? A thing of the past. ‘Symbol Chat’ and all its creative possibilities? Now we’re talking.
Basically, a ‘Symbol Chat’ is a rectangular-shaped signboard that shows a bunch of shapes and symbols you’ve prearranged, with a selected sound effect played. The signboard itself consists of a ‘face’ (either a square, circle, triangle, or am inverted pentagon), which you then add face parts or objects parts to, until you obtain the desired image. It’s not easy though – the variety of both face and object parts are quite limited. As if driving the car uphill isn’t hard enough, Sonic Team had to give you worn-out tires by limiting the amount of each type of parts you can add as well. How I wished they had just adopted an MS Paint approach for this.
‘With great challenge comes great rewards,’ I’m sure a great man once said. Alas, he was right. Creative players have managed to express a number of emotions and implications with this nifty innovation.
From the classic anime faces,
to the simple pictures,
and the absolutely pWn-ing ones.
Of course, this is but a small sample of what creative PSO players are capable of. For starters, two out of four creations (the lame face and ‘byebye’) here came from me, although I was more or less ‘inspired’ by the other players’ masterpieces. Some of the other more impressive ones that I could not show you at the time of publication include a whacky version of that Pikachu greeting, with his eyes popped out and his face red, a Pikmin greeting not unlike the Pikachu one, and a whole bunch of facial expressions featuring the adorable anime kitty a fellow PSO friend of mine designed. There was also this one time, when I entered a lobby full of players, that this Japanese player repeatedly show 3 similar frames of ‘Symbol Chat’ to illustrate a Kirby dancing. If you thought the classic Kirby dance < (", <) <( '.' )> (> ,”)> was cute, then you’ve got to see the Symbol Chat version.
It is innovative features like this that make videogames such wondrous examples of contemporary art. So please give Sonic Team more money, by buying more copies of Phantasy Star Online, Billy Hatcher, Sonic Heroes, and Puyo Puyo Fever to innovate!
If you don’t, then you’re officially an enemy of PSO players around the world. And if you are an enemy, I believe I represent Yuji Naka (president of Sonic Team) when I say:
Did’ja know.. that Phantasy Star Online is not only available on the GameCube? Episode 1 was originally launched on the Dreamcast, but the online servers for that version have long been shut down. Episode 3 probably won’t be available on anything else apart from the GameCube, but so far Episode 1&2 has also been available on the Xbox, and will soon be on the PC as well.
Enter Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst. Featuring new additions such as up to 12 shortcut commands (previous versions only allowed up to 6 or 8), server-side character saving, and more. Detailed descriptions here.
Phantasy Star Online Episode 1&2 or Blue Burst is best described as an up-to-4-player, 3D, futuristic version of Diablo.