Mass Effect 3 Ending Controversy

Posted in Gaming, Mass Effect with tags , , , on 03/17/2012 by Jeremy (Jmo)

For the past week or so, I’ve had to almost ignore the internet. Since about the day after Mass Effect 3 was released, all I kept hearing was the controversy over how “Bad” the ending was. Having not beat the game myself, I didn’t want anything ruined for me. Mass Effect is a series that has grown close to my heart, and seeing the ending for myself –spoiler free– was something I couldn’t wait to accomplish.

Tonight, after 45 hours of gameplay and completing every single quest and side quest in the game, as well as achieving 100% Galactic Readyness, I finished the story. For me (and to quote my twitter comment), the ending was a bittersweet ending to an epic story line, which as far as gaming goes ranks in my top 5 easily. Bioware has successfully crafted one of the most spectacular stories in recent history, and should be praised for their accomplishment.

Instead, all that I’ve been reading online are whiners, naysayers, and trolls who didn’t get the ending that they wanted, and now think they have the right to DEMAND a new ending. Hopefully, Bioware is smart enough to see past the “unsilent minority” and keep the integrity of Mass Effect intact. Afterall, it is BIOWARE’S story to tell. They wrote and made possible all three entries into the Mass Effect series. That gives the the right to make any creative choices that they choose. The ending to the game was sad, and even unexpected at parts, but it was not “bad”. Far from it.

Demanding that Bioware create a new ending (with all of the writing, coding, voice over work, and production that goes with it), is nothing short of childish.

If your favorite author decided on an ending to their newest book that you did not like, would you demand that the book be rewritten to suit your needs? NO.

If a movie you had been waiting to see for a long time ended in a way that you didn’t feel fit the film correctly, would you demand that the ending be refilmed? NO!

So what gives these jilted gamers the idea that since they don’t like the fact that Mass Effect didn’t end the way they envision, that they can demand a new ending to trilogy?

It really speaks a lot of where our society is heading when people feel so entitled that they can just demand whatever they want and get it. I really hope that Bioware keeps their integrity on this issue and doesn’t change a thing. And to those that still feel the need to huff and puff:

*SPOILER ALERT*

Shepard dies to save everyone. That’s it. You need to stop raging and come to terms with how the writers over at Bioware decided to tell their story. As happens a multitude of times over the years in different works of art, the protagonist that we’ve grown to love sacrifices himself (or herself) for the livelihood of everyone that he (or she) has sworn to protect. The ending was extremely heart-wrenching. We’ve lost a character we’ve grown to love, and I still feel a bit of sadness over that.

To me, that just makes the story that much more grandiose. My Shepard did exactly what was necessary to save the galaxy, just as Shepard would have. There are no surprises there for me. I know that I would have loved to see Shepard and Liara’s babies running around after the final battle, with them living happily ever after on a beach somewhere.

But in real life that doesn’t happen. War is gruesome, and doesn’t always end on a high note for everyone. It’s that realism that I feel that Bioware was really able to portray in the ending sequences of ME3. And honestly, looking back at the trilogy as a whole, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not saying it’s ok to dislike the way it ends, because everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to say that the ending is “bad and needs to be rewritten” is nothing short of poor taste and lack of maturity.

My hat’s off to Bioware and friends for putting together one of the best series of the past decade, and yes, ending it in an amazingly epic and graceful way.

**I’m always open to mature and thought out discussion. If you troll, I will delete your comment. You’ve been informed ahead of time.**

Extra Life Gaming Marathon

Posted in Gaming, Gaming News, MMO, MMORPG, PC with tags , , , , , , , , , on 07/21/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Hello there RiftWatchers fans!

I would like to let you all know that we here at RiftWatchers will be participating in the Extra Life Gaming Marathon this year. What it is is 24 Hours Straight of playing Video Games in order to raise money for local Children’s Hospitals all throughout the US. Most of us here have participated in the past in one form or another, but this year we are all coming together under Team Vagary.TV, which is our parent website.

I personally have set up a page with a goal of raising $500. While this seems like a fairly high goal, I have no doubt in my mind that the awesome community that we have surround the RW site, can help break that goal. Nothing would make me more happy than to have to actually RAISE the goal amount, because of everyone’s generosity to give to a great cause.

Many of us know someone, or maybe even have a family member, who was a very sick child. Whether it be something as serious as Cancer, Infantile Glaucoma (In the case of one of my best friend’s son, and the reason that I’m so passionate about the issue), or even a bad bout of the flu, Children’s Hospitals throughout our country usually have to help foot the bill, as care can get extremely expensive. The money raised in this charity drive goes to help all of those kids get the treatment that they need, without having to worry about running the parents, or the hospital itself, into financial ruin.

If you’re willing, please donate whatever you wish at the link below. The suggested amount is $24 ($1 per hour), but you can give more or less. Any amount you can spare is greatly appreciated, and goes to an amazing cause. And if you care to know, all donations are 100% Tax Deductable.

Go Here to donate or even get involved yourself. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thank you in advance for your help and financial support.

Jeremy

P.S. If you do decide to get involved yourself, feel free to join us on Team Vagary if you don’t have a team of your own to go to.

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Posted in Blogging with tags , , , , , , , on 01/19/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Fan made mods for games have always been a big part of the PC gaming market. The vast majority of these are made by players just like us, who spend days, weeks, and even months programming a mod that either enhances, or adds on to the current storyline. We see these mostly in Single Player RPGs like Oblivion or Fallout, but also in First Person Shooters like Counterstrike and Real-Time Strategy games like Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2.  In fact, there are a plethora of forums and websites devoted to the modding community. Oftentimes, these mods can end up being almost as popular as the game that they are attached to.

One of the most popular mods of all time is Defense of the Ancients, a Warcraft 3 mod that laid the groundwork for a little game known as League of Legends. If DotA hadn’t been made, LoL wouldn’t exist, nor would the upcoming DotA2. What strikes me odd about DotA, is that the team behind it has Blizzard’s full support and access on Battle.net to continually run a game modded with the DotA map and ruleset. Now, I shouldn’t find it weird at all, but I have to because of something that happened today.

Earlier this afternoon there was a video that went viral on the internet about an in-development mod to Starcraft 2 called “World of Starcraft.” This video — which I don’t want to post here since I’d likely be slapped with some sort of legal injunction — portrays an alpha version of a mod for Starcraft 2 that makes the game look and play like World of Warcraft, but with Starcraft races and classes. The video is nothing short of stunning, and gives a glimmer of hope to what a World or Universe of Starcraft game may actually play like. The best part of it all? Ryan Winzen, the creator, used ONLY the modding and map making tools that Blizzard included WITH (aka in the box) Starcraft 2. Nothing more, and nothing less. There was no reverse engineering or any sort of crooked dealings going on.

Blizzard didn’t seem to care. Within a couple of hours their Lawyers were delivering Cease and Desist letters to Ryan, telling him to stop all development on the mod, and to remove his videos and website. Why? They wouldn’t say. Just a “Stop now or else!” with no explaination whatsoever, and the threat of legal ramifications if the project continues.

Really Blizzard? Really?! YOU handed out the tools to get this done, and a fan of yours, who bought your game at full market value, used tools that YOU provided to make a mod for YOUR game that will help sell more copies, and make YOU more money. Ryan has not made a dime in all of his years of modding YOUR products and helping to bring YOU more customers and INCOME. Stories like these make me angry and less willing to ever spend money on a Blizzard (or Activision for that matter) product again. This wasn’t some hack job, or a third party cheating program. It was a mod made within the confines of the tools obtained legally with a copy of Starcraft 2. Ryan didn’t put them there, YOU DID, and gave the go ahead to the community to start modding. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you Blizzard, or the hand is likely to pull away and never come back. What a way to stick a knife into the backs of your biggest fans.

I needed to get that off my chest.

The problem is almost no is willing to stand up to Blizzard’s menagerie of lawyers, as those that have in the past have lost big time. It shouldn’t be that way in cases like this. A mod maker who is doing what the company tells them is OK, should not have to worry about legal prosecution. It’s bad form, and even worse business.

As much as I could go on and on about this, I will leave this post with the letter that Ryan Winzen himself wrote to Blizzard and posted on his forums. Even the comments left show a level of class in the player base that is much higher than that of the 800+ pound gorilla. Shame on Blizzard.

Ryan’s Thread entitled Blizzard Please Read“:

Dear Blizzard,

Thankyou for coming all this way in your nice suit to my crummy forum. I’m guessing you’re a little upset with me right now, or maybe you’re happy. I don’t know.

You created a tool that allowed us to do anything with your assets. You encouraged us to use your assets and were eager to see what we might come up with. You had to have seen this coming?

I know it’s hard to trust someone you’ve never met to piggyback on your own legacy. The brilliance of Starcraft combined with the multiplayer focus of World of Warcraft. You might be a little worried about your lore being butchered… or even more-so worried about a guy with no supervision tainting the name of your company with poor product.

Let me assure you that I am in no way shape or form going to deliver anything less than complete perfection. I’ve been following your work since Warcraft. I’ve worked with every editor you’ve put out since I was 13 years old.

I’m 25 now and I’ve never made a single penny from any of my artwork. I exist only to entertain people and make this world we live in a more colorful and exciting place. I’m not even a programmer. I hate programming. I’m a charcoal artist.

But ever since I was very young it has always been my dream in life to create an epic game for people to enjoy. I’m just trying to finally get my name out there and show people what I can do.

This market is so oversaturated right now and you guys get thousands of applicants every month. Most guys who do get a job working in video games right now are driven like slaves working with little creative control. But you know what… I’m a virgin in the industry. Because my talent has never tasted a penny, I remember the core of gaming. I remember the heart of gaming, and I know what people love.

AND I’M HERE TO DELIVER

If you have a problem with what I am doing… or would like to talk about it. I’m all ears. But please don’t send me some messenger with a cease and desist letter. I’m aware of the similiarities between this situation and FreeCraft.

This game holds possibilities for both of us. The custom maps sector is dying out, and less and less people are logging into SC2 NA. I truly believe this is a step in the right direction.

Furthermore, if you like this idea and would be willing to grant me a seal of approval to continue… that would be wonderful. I won’t let you down.

~Cordially, Ryan Winzen

Stay classy Ryan, and good luck!

Nothing is as Good as Your First

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , , , on 01/16/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

No, that’s not some reference to sex. I’m talking about that first true MMO love. Everyone in the MMO world came into it because of one game. Most of us end up playing that game for years, finally getting tired of it and try to move on to the next big thing. The problem is, that next MMO never really feels the same as the first. In fact, it just can’t quench that thirst like the first game could. So we move on and try another…and another…and another, eventually becoming MMO nomads.

I know I can’t be the only one that feels this way. Ever since I gave up Everquest about two years ago, I’ve been game hopping. Free to play, pay to play, or somewhere in the middle, it just doesn’t matter. I’ve never truly felt as satisfied as I did in EQ. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of games have come close, but it seems the more games I try, the less I’m able to actually stick with them on a consistent basis. All of my pondering on this subject came to a head today when some weird synapse in my brain shot off, and told me it would be a good idea to resubscribe to EQ.

That’s right. I took the plunge. I went crawling back to my ex with my tail between my legs. Or at least it felt that way. As I was downloading the latest patches, I was sort of regretting the decision. I couldn’t believe I’d done something that I had sworn off such a long time ago. That feeling was thrown quickly by the wayside, though, when that oh-so-familiar loading screen music started playing. Anyone who’s played EQ knows what I’m talking about. That tune is like a seductive mistress whispering poison into her victims’ ear. What a sweet melody it is.

I found myself in the throes of passi…err…battle for hours. What a triumphant return it was. Friends came out of the woodwork and welcomed me with open arms. We spent a great amount of time catching up and sharing stories…something that has NEVER happened to me in any other game I’ve played. I would be lucky to have even one person that I’ve met in WoW treat me with this kind of reception. This all goes back to my post from earlier this week about the dieing aspect of community and camaraderie in games. I’ve never had such meaningful friendships form in any other MMO. In EQ we relied on each other for day to day survival; there was no soloing to the level cap. I have to admit, the reception felt good…really good.  I literally had people sending me tells until I logged off for the evening.

After the glistening light started fading, and began snapping back to reality. I spent quite a few hours in game today and one thing was definitely apparant: the reasons that I had left in the first place were still relevant. The question I have to ask myself over the coming month as my sub winds down is “does the good outweigh the bad.” I can’t lie to myself and say I didn’t have a good time. That would be doing me a disservice. But with Rift coming out in March, and TOR later this year, am I really ready and willing to devote the time and effort it will take to get myself caught up to max level in EQ, and start raiding again in order to make my character truly relevant again gear-wise. These are things I have to think about, but I’m definitely heading to bed with a smile on my face tonight…it was like the almost like the first time all over again…umm…in Everquest that is…

The Growing Problem of Immaturity

Posted in Blogging, Gaming News, LoL, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , , , on 01/14/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said how much I LOATHE Official Forums of games. Obi Wan Kenobi put it best when he said “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” He may have been talking about Mos Eisley, but I contend that it carries over to most forum communities. This problem used to be very easy to avoid. Don’t go to the forums and you don’t have to deal with it. Unfortunately we’re now seeing a crossover of this attitude and mentality into our games. Spend 10 minutes reading General Chat on most WoW servers and you’ll see a little of what I mean, but play a competitive PvP game and you’ll experience the worst of the worst.

For those that listen to the MMOVoices Podcast, you know how much I love League of Legends. It’s quickly become one of my favorite games. I love the competitive aspect of the game, the quick matches which feed to the needs of the casual player, and even their cash shop set-up which never forces you to spend a dime. In many ways, Riot has the F2P sub-genre perfected. I usually can’t stop talking up all of the things that Riot gets right! Lately LoL has me frustrated, though.

It’s not the gameplay or any changes that have been made by Riot. It’s the plethora of server issues that hit a couple months ago. No, nothing on Riots end at all. It’s the players. I’m not generalizing all of the players by far. In fact, it’s a small minority. The problem is that it’s that minority that has been ruining the game for me lately. As the game grows — by as much as 3-5x their current player base per month — we’re seeing more of these “un-silent minority” of asshats popping up.

It’s expected that their be tauning and jeering in a PvP game. That is all in good fun. In fact, there usually is some friendly competition and words thrown back and forth, but no one takes it personal. The biggest problem with the game now is those that have a super-elitist attitude and completely belittle and disrespect the other players on the map. It goes beyond normal teasing, to attacks on ones skill, self worth (I’ve seen players telling others to go kill themselves because they aren’t a good player. I cannot imagine the effect this could have on someone that is already contemplating and are trying to use the game as an escape), lifestyle, and sexual orientation, to even threats on peoples lives and well being if they ever see them in a match again.

Riot used to ban accounts for this type of behavior, but as the game grows they can no longer keep up with the shear amount of tickets that are submitted. Because of this, most get put by the wayside and the blatant offenders are not punished for their actions, make the situation even worse. If there’s no consequences, why act respectful? I mean, come on! Why treat other players like they’re human beings? What would be the point in that? I DO WHAT I WANT!!!!!!

Well, not anymore. Yesterday, Riot announced a new system they are putting in place in LoL that will help quell the flood of in-game Trolls and downright immature asshats. The system in question will put together a council of players who have proven themselves to be fair and honest, and who treat other players the way that they should be treated. This council will now look over the tickets and decide if action needs to be taken against the reported offender(s).

I think this is an awesome idea. It’s a system that let’s fellow players decide on if the actions of other players are appropriate and warranted or not. Players will now have to think twice before they speak, or risk losing all of the time and effort they put into a level 30 accounts, because they don’t know how to be respectful to others around them. It’s about time a game company came up with a great system to deal to squelch the flames.

This is one of those innovations that passes the “Genius Test.” Immature behavior and idiocy against other players has been a growing problem for a while now. It causes veteran players to hang up their uniforms, and deters new players from trying or sticking with a game, and is nothing but poison to any games community. I hope that other studios take a page out of Riot’s book and implement systems of their own to alleviate the pain caused by these vile and vicious offenders.

Review: Perpetuum

Posted in Perpetuum, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on 01/13/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Over the past couple of months,  I have been spending a bit of time in the game Perpetuum, by Avatar Creations. For me, the game popped up out of obscurity. For a person who reads plenty of gaming blogs and new sites, it surprised me that I had never heard of it before. A few days before release, all of a sudden it was popping up everywhere on Twitter, and people were raving. I was fortunate enough at this time to be given an early access pass, and I’m glad I was.

It is apparent right from the start, and very important that I include this, that the biggest influence on Perpetuum is EVE Online. The game is essentially EVE on the ground, with Robots instead of Space Ships. You do not ever see your physical body and instead, you are one with your Mech. This is a great concept not seen very often in the MMO genre. The game feels almost like a spiritual successor to EVE.

Game Play

Like EVE,  the first aspect of the game that stuck out to me was that there wasn’t going to be much hand holding, which is something I actually like in my MMOs. In the age of “Easy-Mode” gaming it is a nice change of pace to have a challenge placed in front of me, especially one that makes me think and figure out a few concepts on my own. For anyone new to MMO gaming, this could be a major turn off, and is really the game’s only major flaw. If you’re a quick learner though, this won’t be much of a problem.

When creating your character, you have to decide what play style you want to go with. You have a choice of Combat (blowing things up), Diplomacy (Corporation (guild) leading and bargaining), and Industry (Farming materials and Crafting). You can even mix and match if you so choose, or you can focus all energy into one area and be weaker in others.

Progression

There is  no leveling system in Perpetuum. Let me repeat that: There is NO leveling system in Perpetuum. Instead, the game offers a unique skill system, very similar to EVE. The really neat part of how this works in Perpettum is that you gain skill points as long as you have an active subscription at one per minute. So no matter what, your character is always progressing, and there’s no need to set a skill queue or to make sure you log in to set your next skill to train. You can progress your skills at your leisure and your choosing. This system really opens up the game to completely original character builds, with no real “cookie-cutter” setups.

Combat

I’ll be honest. I’m not much of a crafter, so while I did do a bit of mining, I don’t have much to add to that discussion. Where I can chip in is the game’s combat.

Combat in Perpetuum is slow. Very slow. It can actually be a bit of a downer at first, but it is a part of the game I came to love over time. If you’ve played EVE at all, you know what I mean when I say you have to manage your power in order to be the most efficient in combat. Basically, your Mech has a limited power supply that drains with each use of a weapon or shield. This power regains over time, but it’s quite possible to become at a disadvantage if you overdue it too early on. This is too much of a problem early on, but I can assume that as the game progresses into the later stages, and the battles get bigger and longer, that this part of the game may get a bit tougher to manage and stay alive.

The combat is pretty fun once you get used to it. It is definitely not your button masher like most MMOs. The fights involve strategy and weapon management to complete, and this is something that really helps set Perpetuum apart from the rest. The only downside is that people who are used to fast paced action may want to look the other way.

PvP

PvP is the main driving force of Perpetuum. In fact, it’s one of the biggest parts of the gameplay. Again, this is just like EVE. If you’re in a high security sector, you’re pretty much safe. Once you start moving out to the lower security sectors you had better have the firepower to protect yourself, or some friends to come along and protect you. This is the one part of the game that you have to learn to live with. The world of Nia is an everchanging world and is completely player driven. There are people who love to PvP and they’re not going to let up just because you don’t like to. Also, there’s only one server so there’s no way to avoid this.

The Final Verdict

Overall, I had quite a bit of fun with my time in Perpetuum. The best part of the game being new is that if you like an open sandbox world — a la EVE Online –, this is a great game to get into right now. You would be starting at pretty much the beginning and other players wouldn’t have much of an advantage over you. The gameplay and systems that are in place are vastly different than almost all other MMOs on the market, giving Perpetuum a leg up on the competition, and really feeding the needs of those wanting something that doesn’t play like World of Warcraft. And if you’re a fan of EVE, Perpetuum is a game you’ll definitely want to check out! The world of Nia and the lore surrounding it is top knotch, and you can tell the developers really love their game. I look forward to seeing where this game goes in the future and how it continues to add innovation to the MMO genre.

I give Perpetuum a 4 out of 5.

The Lost Art of Community

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, WoW with tags , , , , , , , , , on 01/12/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

If there’s one thing I can say was EverQuest strongest asset, it was community building. I went into EQ knowing only one other person that played the game, and came out 10 years later with more friends than I can count. It was an odd side effect to playing a game. Before EverQuest I’d only really played Single Player games or played with friend on the same TV screen. Even the people who played things like Unreal Tournament or Half Life/Counter Strike didn’t exactly get to know each other. Yes, I know there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part that was the case.

EverQuest changed that paradigm of gaming for me and a plethora of others. See, the reason I feel that this was the case with EQ (and UO and DAoC), was that you really needed to have help to advance in the game. There were no handouts, and if you tried to go alone you wouldn’t get very far. The only way to truly level up and strengthen your character was with a group. Because of this you had to get to know your fellow Norrathians. For the longest time, and for the majority of my level, I can name 10-15 people whom I grouped with more than anyone else. These people quickly became my friends, and we ended up joining a guild together. To this day, I still keep in touch with most of them.

This whole feeling of unity and camaraderie is lost on the current generation of gamers. With the onset of World of Warcraft and other modern MMOs, online gaming has become more of a solo experience than it has a group experience. Even the higher end dungeons in games are more of a “Queue up, don’t talk, get your loot, and get out!” The whole “Brothers in Arms” feeling is gone. I really think this type of gameplay is killing the true experience of what a MMOG is supposed to be.

I’m not saying we need to bring back corpse runs, massive XP losses, or mob grinding for leveling. But something really has to be done to bring back the social aspect of these games. The closest things I’ve seen at all lately is one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to Rift. That would be the title aspect of the games, the Rifts. Trion has taken the initiative to create content that encourages teamwork early on in their game. Even so, I don’t know if it’s enough to really bring back that feeling of needing to group. While I hope it does, I think MMO developers need to come up with some sort of system in their games that encourages and rewards players to work together throughout the game, and not just in the raiding portion. Guilds and groups need to matter and feel a sense of accomplishment.

MMO gamers are starting to act more and more antisocial towards each other. It used to be said that games like EQ could help shy teens and young adults really break out of their shell and learn to integrate better into society. I wish I could find a link to the study, but there was one done at one point talking about this exact fact. As time has gone on, and games have become more and more solo friendly (or solo forced?), we are seeing a growth in players who fit into [NSFW] John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory.

Gamers already seem to get a bad wrap in the media. The stereotypes are attrocious and the growing asshat-ish attitude isn’t helping. I truly believe this all goes back to the shrinking art of community. Guilds don’t even mean as much today as they used to. It wasn’t abnormal to see guilds of 100+ players in Everquest and even early WoW. In fact, that was an average size guild. Everyone got to know each other as well. In the past few guilds I’ve been in in WoW, players rarely –if ever– communicated in chat. In fact, even most raids didn’t see much chatter. It was more “you better know the strats before you get to the fight or you’re going to be kicked,” and a lot less of “hey guys, let’s strategize and learn this fight!”

It really saddens me to sit back and look at what’s happened to the social aspect of MMOs. I really hope that some day we will at least move back in the right direction, and back to the true meaning of what MMO means. Until that happens, I feel we will continue to see a growing trend of anti-social and anti-teamwork behavior.

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