Category Archives: Games for big kids

Steve Bannon and gaming cheats

It’s not often two of my passions combine, but this Washington Post article links the 45th US President’s chief advisor, Steve Bannon, with a company called IGE:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/steve-bannon-once-guided-a-global-firm-that-made-millions-helping-gamers-cheat/2017/08/04/ef7ae442-76c8-11e7-803f-a6c989606ac7_story.html?utm_term=.969894a83c07

In a nutshell, IGE was the brains and money behind what we gamers call ‘gold farmers’. Think virtual sweatshops in which players from poor countries earn a tiny wage for accumulating desirable ‘goods’ from online games. These valuables are then sold to lazy gamers for real money so that they can have all the goodies…without having to work for it themselves.

Most gamers hate gold farmers, and so do the developers of the games they play. It’s a despicable practice that most games do not allow. In fact, most games ban players caught farming for gold, or trying to sell these items back to players. And guess who worked for IGE during this time? Yup, Steve Bannon. And no, there is no way he could not have known what was going on. Making money off gold farmers and players was IGE’s only business model.

These days, bots have put most flesh and blood gold farmers out of work, but the practice is still despicable.

My thanks to Candy Korman for alerting me to this mindblowing article.

cheers

Meeks

 


Can you see what I see…?

Life’s been rather hectic of late, so my posts have been more sporadic than usual, but today I want to show you something that I think is quite wonderful. And no, I’m not going to tell you, I’m going to show you.

Have a look at these three screenshots and tell me what you see:

Yes, all three screenshots are computer generated. And yes, they are all from a game, but the amazing thing is the mirror.

I’ve been playing games of one sort or another for close to 20 years, and in all that time I’ve never seen a mirror used in any game I’ve ever played. Now, it may be that I’ve played the wrong sort of games, or it may be that mirrors use up too many resources, or… Whatever the reason, mirrors haven’t been a part of the graphics, and I have always felt the lack.

Reflections are such a fundamental part of how we see the world, and ourselves.  Think about it. We catch sight of our reflection a hundred times a day – in mirrors, shop windows, highly polished tables, glossy cupboards, ponds, even spoons. They are everywhere in the real world, but not in the virtual world, and to me it feels odd. Like not having a shadow.

Remember when gaming graphics were so primitive that no one even dreamed of adding shadows? Now they’re commonplace in most games with high end graphics. I predict that one day soon, reflections will become just as commonplace as shadows because they add an almost subliminal element to our ability to immerse ourselves in a virtual environment.

For now, though, my friend George is the trail blazer in this area. The mirror is his, as is the game, and I think both are going to be quite extraordinary.

cheers

Meeks


#FFXIV – decorating my new room

Non-gamers look away now!

Just a couple of pics of my room in the Tonberry FC. Absolutely adore the ‘rust red’ of the walls:

and…

Okay, back to work now. -waves-

Meeks

 

 

 


The Adventures of a rubber ball :D

I haven’t played this addictive little game on a smartphone yet, but I have played an early beta version of it on my pc – and even then it was a lot of fun!

It sort of reminded me of the old Nintendo game called Snake Rattle n Roll. Not in any similarity of graphics or gameplay, but rather in the adrenaline pumping need to get to that next level….-cough-

The game was developed – from scratch – by my friend George Panayiotou. Some of you may remember George from comments.Not only is he a brilliant game designer, he also taught himself Maya [Maya is the computer graphics program used to create most of the best CG in movies], and he’s a very talented graphic designer.

George and I go way back to an online forum called guru3D. It was a fun forum in which to hang out, but more importantly, it was a great place to learn from a bunch of very clever geeks. 😀

Aaaanyway…if you play games on your mobile phone, why not give The Adventures of a RubberBall a go?

The link below will take you to George’s site:

http://www.singlepixel-soft.eu/2016/10/the-release-of-adventures-of-rubber-ball.html?m=1

I believe you can get the Adventures of a RubberBall [for Android] from Google Play. The iOS App Store is coming soon. 🙂

Congratulations George!

cheers

Meeks

 


#FFXIV – The Vault

I’ve always believed that the definition of true courage is not a lack of fear but the exact opposite – lots of fear but the courage to push ahead anyway. Sadly, I’ve been less than courageous the last six [?] months, putting off doing The Vault dungeon until I’d literally run out of anything more interesting to do. 😦

Well, my Summoner, Meeka Thara, has finally done The Vault. Twas not glorious. I died at the three quarter mark of the third boss, but luckily the rest of the party finished him off while I lay ignobly dead at their feet. -sigh- I did learn a few things that may help others though. What follows is for newbies, and is only a kind of overview and tips type thing. You should still watch videos of the fight and read up on it for the complete mechanics.

So, to the overview and tips:

  1. Unless you’re incredibly overpowered, the trash mobs are actually quite hard. Not Limit Break type hard, but hard, and they aggro from quite a distance. Party members who run ahead of the tank are stupid, plain and simple.
  2. The first two bosses [Ser Adelphel and Ser Grinnaux] start out almost easy, but when you get them down to about 20% HP they morph into much harder creatures, so don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
  3. As per usual, the 2nd boss [Ser Grinnaux] is harder than the first and uses some mechanics that can trap the unwary. One of them is the aetherial tear [or void gate]. The Boss throws these void gates around the outer edge of the circular arena. Standing near a void gate will cause boss 2 void gatesome damage and stacks of vulnerability. Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of avoiding these gates. Every so often, the boss does an aoe knockback that sends everyone to the wall. If you get knocked back into a void gate it’s not good. As much as possible, try to position yourself so your back always faces an undamaged section of wall. I did read one forum post that advocated stacking the void gates all in one place to make it easier to avoid them but…I don’t know how you’re supposed to do that.
  4. The third and most powerful Boss [Ser Charibert] is hard right from the beginning. His mechanics include:
    1. Heavens Flames – these are circular fire aoes that target each, individual player – i.e. you will always have to be on the lookout for them,
    2. Chains – this mechanic chains two players together and keeps doing damage until the chain is snapped. If the two players are standing fairly close together when they are chained, they just have to run a short distance away from each other to snap it. If, however, the players are a long way apart when they are chained, they may not be able to put enough distance between each other to snap the chain.
    3. Knights – look like huge chess pieces and march in a row from the north of the arena to the south. Contact with one of theseboss 3 knights Knights causes damage AND a powerful Attack Speed Slow. This is not the kind of debuff you want when fighting a boss. The good thing, however, is that the Knights can be avoided, at least in the early part of the fight because they’re fairly slow and always keep to a straight line [think of them as moving line aoes].
  5. One strategy I read which worked really well during the early part of the fight is illustrated in the follow graphic: boss 3 schematicThe idea of stacking on the tank is that you automatically avoid the lines of Knights. You also have heaps more room to move if you get chained. It does work so long as you keep track of where the boss and tank are. 🙂
  6. At about 60% health, the boss disappears and returns with 2 adds – both Knights, but these ones can do line aoes. He also casts Holy Flames. There are about 6 [?] of these positioned around the outer perimeter and DPS have to kill them asap. Holy Flames are boss 3 at 60 percent holy flames followed by a room wide aoe called Pure of Heart. Now I’ve read that Pure of Heart can be followed by Sacred Flame, which is another room wide aoe. Apparently Sacred Flame depends upon whether the Holy Flames were all extinguished prior to Pure of Heart going off. We got all the Flames so I didn’t actually see this for myself. I assume it would have been bad though.
  7. In all the videos and guides, they say that after the Holy Flames/Pure of Heart sequence, everything else is ‘just’ more of the same but ‘a bit faster’ until the boss dies. Hmm….
  8. The reality is that phase 2 of the fight is when the boss throws everything at you at top speed, again and again and again. Knights charge down, chains happen along with fire aoes, and it’s all happening at once and OVERLAPS. Dodging the Knights was easy in the beginning but now with everything hitting you at once, moving and fighting at the same time becomes problematic, at least it did for me. boss 3 phase 2As you can see, a new line of Knights is forming in the top of the screen before the first lot have even passed. It’s rather chaotic and unless you’ve got your camera pulled out as far as it will go, seeing what’s happening [so you can avoid it] is difficult. This is around about where I died, probably because I was just too slow.

Given my lightning fast reflexes – chokes laughing – I should have just focused on my feet and forgotten about everything else. After all, the rest of the party managed just fine without me. Instead I tried to dodge while casting like the healer – awesome healer, by the way – and I failed.

So there you have it. Another dungeon, and a morning wasted on gated content that I hate, and no writing done, but at least I now have something more to do until the next trial in the game [Bismarck]. At this point, all I want to do is get past the gated content and reach the Dravinian Hinterlands for the crafting. After that, who knows.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. if you click on the screenshots, you should be taken to the Youtube video from which they were taken.


#VR – will it need safety standards?

The following quote describes the [current] experience of VR [virtual reality]:

‘“The gap between ‘things that happen to my character’ and ‘things that happen to me’ is bridged,” Stephan said. This distinction can transform an experience from merely flinch-inducing to sincerely frightening. “The way I process these scares is not through the eyes of a person using their critical media-viewing faculty but through the eyes of I, the self, with all of the very human, systems-level, subconscious voodoo that comes along with that.”’

Given how immersive even normal gaming can be, I do not find this phenomenon all that surprising. What I do find surprising is the genuine note of warning sounded in the article. You can find the entire story here:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-coming-horror-of-virtual-reality

[and thanks to the Passive Guy for pointing the way]

Back to VR. As a gamer, I’ve been thinking about the consequences of addiction for a long time, and in Emmi’s story [in The Vintage Egg], one of the ideas I toss out there is that in the future, legislation will stop gamers from ‘playing’ for longer than a few hours. For their own good.

Will society really impose restrictions on the use of VR and AR [Augmented Reality]?

-shrug- Who knows, but it is gratifying to find that someone else is also thinking beyond the ‘oh goody, a new, supa doopa toy’ to the possible consequences of using that toy. I suspect that we will have to have deaths before the technology is regulated, which is a sobering thought. One thing I am certain about, however, is that next five to ten years will deliver a world-wide, totally voluntary [and probably expensive] social experiment on disruptive technology. 😀

We live in interesting times, neh?

Meeks

 


Next gen #gaming for the masses

Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson have been toiling away at augmented reality for years at their startup, CastAR. Their ambition to make a fun AR product has been cooking for a while, and they’re taking a very different approach to the next-generation gaming platform. And given Ellsworth’s background as an underdog, it’s no surprise she’s…

via How CastAR’s Jeri Ellsworth will use augmented reality for fun tabletop gaming — VentureBeat

This post was like a bolt of lightning for all sorts of reasons – it’s about gaming, it’s about everyday people and it’s the vision of an amazing young woman.

Women in technology are still rare enough to make me sit up and take notice. Women in technology who may be creating the very next big thing? Phenomenal!

Go girl. 😀

Meeks


Blade and Soul – system error #3746

takhahn pic

The pic above shows my assassin character on Blade and Soul. I have not been able to play him for three days because I keep getting the system error shown in the title of this post. Not fun.

I have just checked the forums and there seem to be quite a few people in the same boat as me – when we try to login we get a system error and login fails. For me, login fails at the verification code stage – I get the verification code, cut and paste it into the verification box and then …system error blah blah.

I have tried resetting the password, but now I get a new message – account locked due to suspicious activity. Apparently, attempting to follow their procedures is suspicious.

Oddly enough I agree. I suspect there is a massive problem in the whole security/gameguard area of the game. For starters, having to enter a verification code every time the IP address changes is insane – most people, myself included, do not have static IP addresses. Change is part of the definition! And now this.

In some ways, though, I am thrilled. I am thrilled that I resisted the urge to go for one of the premium packages. I am also thrilled that I resisted buying anything in the cash shop. At least, now, all I’ve lost is some time and about 20 GB of bandwidth. Some people who can’t get into the game are paying for that privilege.

Talking about paying, another reason I am thrilled by all this is that I hate how closely the game is tied to the cash shop. I don’t mind paying for cosmetic items, but having to pay just to upgrade your weapon is a bit rich.

Weapon upgrade a.k.a. Breakthrough

Basically each class gets a purple weapon very early on in the game. Then as you progress you upgrade that one weapon.  So far so good. But then you very quickly hit the ‘Breakthrough’ point, and suddenly things get sticky.

Breakthrough is like a plateau in the weapon’s power. In order to take your weapon to the next plateau, you have to breakthrough by using a special, low grade weapon that is class specific. Now the packages that contain these low grade weapons are easy to get BUT, they have to be opened with a key. Ordinary keys are easy to get as well, but if you use ordinary keys to unlock the weapon package it’s up to luck as to which class specific weapon you get.

So far my character has accumulated 4 of one class weapon, 2 of another and one each of every other class in the game. The only thing I don’t have is my own class specific weapon.

But wait! If I go to the cash shop and buy a Veridien Key, it is guaranteed to unlock my class specific weapon. Do you see the trap here?

As I refuse to pay for such a basic and necessary item, my character is a level 14 assassin using a level 5 weapon which I cannot upgrade. Not without paying.

I don’t know if I have just been extraordinarily unlucky or the game is rigged to push your frustration levels to the point where you cave in and pay just so you can continue to level. Either way, I hate it. This is game design at its most greedy.

So I guess that’s it. Bye bye Blade and Soul. What a disappointment.

cheers

Meeks

 


#Heavensward – 2 x 60 at last

Before anyone gets too excited -rolls eyes- none of my characters have hit level 60 in battling yet, but I am proud to announce that Takh broke the crafting barrier twice today – once on blacksmith and the second time on goldsmith:

takh hits 60 with bsm

takh hits 60 with gsm

And now to reveal a little secret – Takh reached 60 on two of his crafts without ever having set foot in Heavensward! And it wasn’t all that hard. Basically he did the Grand Company [GC] missions every day, handing in HQ [high quality] and starred items where possible.

Of course he did have some help from Meeka. She did all the gathering and provided him with melded crafting gear via her carpenter, weaver, leatherworker and alchemist, but if you have the gil [money] to buy all those things, it is possible to get a craft to 60 just on GC missions alone. As I never have a lot of gil, I had to do things the hard way, but that’s okay; I really just wanted to show that it can be done. Plus, if I’m honest, I also wanted to thumb my nose at Heavensward and all its gated content.

In the next week and a bit I intend to get 4 of Meeka’s crafts to 60 as well, then I’m going to pack up the Mist house, move what I can into a private room in the Lavender Beds house and jump into Blade & Soul [release date 19th January, 2016].

B&S is a buy-to-play mmo with no monthly subscription so I’ll actually save money for a while. And when I get sick of the PVP element, I’ll go back to Heavensward and hopefully my friendly house-sitter will have kept the Lavender Beds house going for me. If not, my characters will be homeless and I’ll be so angry at FFXIV that I may never buy a Square-Enix game again. Ever.

-hrumph-

Anyway, the weekend’s over and I need to go to bed. Goodnight all!

Meeks


#FFXIV – why I can’t leave

I’ve written some pretty unhappy posts about Final Fantasy XIV over the last few months, but no matter how angry I get, one thing keeps me playing. And this is it. My house in Mist:

From the outside

From the outside

The front door

The front door

Warmth and books

Warmth and books

And a place to cook :)

And a place to cook 🙂

Going downstairs...

Going downstairs…

...into...

…into…

...the bedroom!

…the bedroom!

with its own oriental ensuite!

with its own oriental ensuite!

And finally the best feature of all – the view.

Dawn breaks in Mist

Dawn breaks in Mist

Yet as pretty as this scene is, it still doesn’t convey the eerie sense of reality I get when I sit here, staring down at the beach and watching the waves come in. Yes, there are waves and breakers and they move, seemingly at random.

But the waves are not the only things that move. Birds fly overhead, casting a shadow, or the quality of the light changes due to time of day or weather, or off on the horizon you see the dim outline of a ship with massive sails, majestically sailing out of sight…

No prizes for guessing where a lot of my ideas for Innerscape came from.

Have a lovely Sunday,

Meeks

p.s. most of the furnishings are crafted. If anyone is interested, I can tell you what each piece is, which craft makes it and what level recipe it is. Let me know in comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: