05 September 2009

Beta-testing the Idiot Factor

To start, let me add another webcomic to the table for consideration:
Unfortunately, this is one of those that does not have a "latest" button, so you have to re-bookmark it every time you read it. It's an argument for reading it less frequently, actually. When will webcomic artists learn? (*cough* Alphasim)

Let's talk about beta testing for a moment. As you know from his blog (you do read his blog, don't you?), Alphasim recently did some beta testing for Champions Online. He got to try out the gameplay and now plays for real. I think he may have done some beta-ing on one of the WoW expansions, but who can keep track? (him probably, lol)

Unexpectedly, I'm also now a beta tester on a casual gaming site. It's a new experience for me. I hadn't heard for several weeks, so I thought they hadn't picked me. So, when they sent me the confirmation email, the following train of thought ran through my head (rumbled down the tracks in my head--toot tooot!): 1. Yay! I've never beta-tested before! 2. Well, of course they picked me. How many serious gamers do they get on that site? 3. Wait...how many gamers do they get on that site?

So my thought for the day is to wonder if the folks who pick beta testers think to include slightly less...adept...players in their testing rounds. In the case of this casual gaming site, probably they have because the majority of their players don't know a frag from a ding (and yes I'm mixing genres).

What about Champions, for example? They're aren't likely to have casual gamers, but not everyone's a top-notch player. Do they include a handful of gaming idiots just to see what the idiots of the world are going to do? Inevitably an idiot is going to play their game. Why not beta test the idiot factor?

20 February 2009

Digital Comics?

Hey all--long time no post.

I wanted to pass on that I was browsing my normal strips and Scott Kurtz (of PvP) had the following link on his blog (his comes with a comic strip :) ).


It's a new perspective on comics--digital webcomics that aren't videos. It's clever, so pop on over and check it out.

Also, for any girl geeks out there, I recently discovered Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto. If you're a guy geek, stay away--some of it won't appeal, I promise. But then again, if you're adventurous, maybe it'll give you insight into us females? *shrug* I doubt it, but maybe.


06 February 2009

God's Sandbox

Two short notes--

1. I recommend that everyone go and look at this strip from xkcd. If you've EVER had to do any statistical analysis, it'll totally make sense.


2. I'd also like to recommend a free game to all of you called God's Sandbox. Hope over to http://www.vertigogaming.net/index.php and download it. You get a set of miracles/plagues to cast upon the earth in each of several eras and the order you pick changes the results. You can make volcanoes or rabbit-men or nuclear war. You decide.

It's a simple game, but the idea is you keep going back and trying again (on different planets? Lol.) to accumulate all of the possible outcomes on your checklist. 7 rounds later, I've got about half of them.

24 January 2009

A comment on Mother 3

I've been away from Mother 3 for a while because I was stuck on a level boss (New Fassad or whatever his name is. Techno Banana Man, let's call him).

So, long story short I picked it up earlier this week and got through him finally. No profound reasoning--I just used shields instead of Defense up Omega.

What I want to share with those of you who don't play much of the Mother series is a little taste of what comes after. For reasons I won't explain, your character is trying to get to an island south of the main village and your ride has a faulty jaw. So you land on the beach and a local tells you to talk to the sea. ...I'm like, um ok?

Thus the underwater level begins. The first thing you see is a pair of pig soldiers (bad guys) with a merman (as opposed to a mermaid) and the merman kisses one of them. "Air supply replenished" it says, and the soldier comments about how much he doesn't like this particular contraption. The other pig is like, "Oh really? I kinda like it." Oh pigs.

Ergo, what I want you all to envision is this: your character doesn't breathe underwater naturally either. In fact, none of your four characters do. So, every minute or so of going through the level you have to stop at an air machine and fill up. It kisses your main character (who I've named Eddie) before it cuts away to a blank screen and you hear three more kissing sounds. When the game cuts back to them, everyone but the superspy guy is blushing. Ah Mother. I didn't even know dogs could blush.

And of COURSE it's mermen. Of course.

18 January 2009

Explosives and Chinese Assault Rifles

Most of you have tried Oblivion. Some of you have trapsed into the Capital Wasteland. So, what's the hype all about, right?

I think the most valuable part of Fallout in comparison with Oblivion is that Fallout out is plausible on some level. (Y'know. Aside from the fact that the wanton destruction was supposed to have started in the 50's. Devil's in the details and all that.) The weapons all (could) exist, and the places used to be real for the most part.

Let's be honest--I love the fantasy genre, especially in the open-ended form it takes in Oblivion. I mean fireballs? Who doesn't love casting fireballs? And I'm not the Grey Fox for no reason either.

But I also love sci-fi, and Fallout is just enough of a deviation of reality to satisfy my sci-fi tastes. (I would/could take more, but I'm not feeling greedy.)

But let's talk about gameplay. One of the biggest differences that I've found is the levelling-up systems. For example, in Oblivion and Morrowind before the levelling-up came from dedicating time to your main skills. In Fallout it comes as part of gaining experience and flat-out killing things. I like that I don't have to use a lame skill to improve it.

However, if I'm already using a good skill (sneak for example...oh the joy of being the Grey Fox) I don't automatically gain experience in it. I still have to spend my skill points on it in Fallout. Truthfully, this doesn't entirely make sense. When is my character improving her explosives skill when she earns all of her XP with a Chinese Assault Rifle?

I guess it doesn't have to make sense, though, does it?

17 January 2009

Post Christmas Debriefing; or VATS for the common man

Christmas time for most is candy canes and christmas trees and family.

Christmas time for me is also those things...plus access to Alpha's gaming resources. It's good to go home right? Lol.

That also makes me too busy to post. Funny, when I have the most to talk about, I'm too busy doing it to talk.


I hope you all have been spending quality time with Fallout 3 this break. If you haven't found your dad, lost your dad, and killed a computer yet, you better get cracking. Games don't play themselves, you know. :) ...don't you wish your boss (parent?) would tell you something like that. I must be in the wrong industry.

So what are the improvements of Fallout 3 over Oblivion? For those who are not in the loop (and I suspect that number is small) Bethesda makes both games. Since Oblivion won game of the year and awards and all that, the next release for Bethesda after it (which happens to be Fallout 3) is a big deal. Where can you go from Oblivion?

The other question is less commonly asked. What improvements from Fallout 2 are there? Now, my knowledge of Fallout 2 is limited to what other people have told me, but from what I understand although the player could previously shoot particular parts of their targets for different effect (a la Goldeneye) the VATS thing is new.

So, VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) is a gameplay feature in which (by pressing V) the game essentially pauses, lets you pick your target body part on your target person, gives you probability of making contact, and lets you set up several of these shots in a row. For example, if you're packing frag grenades, you could throw one at someone to your left (for an 85% chance of hitting) and at someone to your right (for a 75% chance) and efficiently wipe out a rather large group. The attacks, once selected, also occur in slow-mo (with them still shooting at you) such that if you shoot someone in the head...you're likely going to see every last detail of the blood flying everywhere.

I actually wish you could pick a "slightly less gory" option in the menu. Less realistic I suppose, but I wouldn't have to only shoot them in the chest when sensitive folk were in the room if you follow me.

Next time in the capital wasteland will be Oblivion vs. Fallout: Fallout is Oblivion with guns or Oblivion is Fallout with swords? So keep listening, chilllldren, this is (not) Three Dog. Aooooooooo!