Daily Archives: August 22, 2007

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

I thought I’d take a brief interval from the main performance of this infernal MMO farce to acquaint you, dear reader, with those games that can currently be described as ‘consuming my time’.

My gaming attention has been focussed primarily on a couple of games recently, whilst I wait for the next Great Game Rush to occur, and I have to say that it’s been enjoyable to just pootle about here and there and not have to worry about a schedule; the whole ‘I’ve got to get two levels, two hundred gold and one thousand rep. in five minutes or the bus I’m travelling on will EXPLODE!’ thing gets a bit dull after a while. You know, now that I think about it, the number 76 bus has been awfully empty since I shouted that out from behind my laptop screen while sitting on the back seat that one time; there’s always a huge queue of people in the morning still, but they’re all so friendly, they just move aside, let me on, and wave me off. Polite society is alive and kicking in the south east of England, it would seem.

Where was I? Games! Always a handy topic of conversation in the Inferno. City of Heroes has been a weekday evening staple recently; it’s such an easy game to hop-in to and play in short bursts, generally I will get something done, and if not, well I got to encase some villain in rock and then blast them through a wall using one hundred mile an hour winds.

Always soothing to the soul when you’ve had a bad day at the office

Again though, not the best topic of discussion when you’re sat at the back of the number 76: “Yeah, I set him on fire and then blasted him and his friends off the top of the building, I’m amazed I didn’t destroy the whole neighbourhood”. Little old ladies have the most evil stares, and a staggeringly powerful handbag-swinging action.

The other game I’ve been playing on a regular basis is not actually an MMO.

<A stunned silence descends.>

In actual fact, it’s an FPS.

<People start to get up and leave.>

It’s not Bioshock!

<People turn back in interest.>

I’ve been playing Counter Strike: Source.

<An enraged audience storms the blog-stage and beats your humble narrator to a bloody pulp.>

I had relived the wonder days of FPS life recently by playing Half-Life 2 and its expansions, and hankering for a little hot DPS online action I decided to go that one step further and pick-up with an old friend: Counterstrike. An old friend who’d had a royal metric crap-tonne of plastic surgery and looked like some sort of shiny Mattel doll version of their former self, but nevertheless an old friend of whom I had fond memories. I won’t go into too much detail, since it was quite painful; suffice it to say that had it been a reunion of the person-to-person variety, I probably would have ended up punching him somewhere delicate, pouring my hot drink in his lap, and then making my speedy getaway on the ever available and vacant number 76 bus.

Yes, I suck. I always suck at PvP. But when someone can shoot at your feet and get a headshot, well, I mean, it’s just…

<punches his old friend somewhere delicate again>.

And this is why the Inferno is primarily reserved for the absurdities of MMO life, because not only can I spit out no more than two syllables of FPS mockery before frothing at the mouth and falling into a strange catatonic state that requires medical intervention to alleviate, but because the absurdities in FPS games are made doubly worse because often the game is trying to convince you that it is real. That this could really happen. Look! It’s the real world! And if aliens invaded, you’d be able to defeat them by getting shot FIFTEEN HUNDRED THOUSAND THOUSAND HUNDRED THOUSAND times, and then applying a small CONVENIENTLY PLACED medikit or herb (HERB!) that repairs all your wounds, all the while firing a GIGABAJILLION rounds of ammunition from your indestructible, non-misfiring gun of choice, whilst CONVENIENTLY finding ammo clips for it just lying around. LYING AROUND. You’ll go into a kitchen, you know, wander in and help youself to some stranger’s house, and there’ll be a young mother with her new born child there eating, but she’ll JUST HAPPEN TO HAVE five fully loaded clips of ammunition for the PIECE OF ALIEN WEAPONRY YOU PICKED UP THIS MORNING ON THE MOON…

Code blue! Code blue! Fetch the defibrillator.

Oh hades, my head. Where was I? Oh yes, BLOODY FPS GA…

Code blue!

Uh-oh, dangerous feedback loop!

40 GOTO 44
44 PRINT "Ah, there we go".

Ah, there we go. So those are the two games that I’ve been predominantly playing, along with dabbling in getting my Monk/Necromancer to level twenty in Guild Wars: Prophecies in order to get down with what the cool kids are playing, but also in preparation for the Eye of the North expansion… patch… content update… thing. Having played both an MMO and an FPS (you don’t have to boo every time I say FPS) I noticed a minor but interesting dissimilarity in one particular game mechanic, which I’ll hopefully delve into in another post.

And now, the beta song!

I’m not in any betas!
At least none that I can tell you about.
And even if I was, I couldn’t give you details of them.
But I’m not in any. Not really. No.

Oh it’s NDA and NDA with NDA.
So the NDA is not as good as NDA.
And the NDA is NDA, but NDA is only NDA.
NDA, the NDA, oh NDA!

Actually, I’m not playing any betas. I hear gasps from this modest virtual auditorium! And I must hang my head in shame before the MMO blogorati, for it is not Madame Fate’s hand that has dealt me into such ignominy, but my own petulant perfidy. I would like to claim that it was some form of sneak-peak gaming asceticism that nobly drove me to avoid the temptation of getting in to an MMO before the writhing, pulpy, sweaty, multi-limbed fundament that is the hoi polloi, but really it boils down to a more practical and mundane reason: I have decided not to apply to the recent spate of betas. Cutting off my nose to spite my face? Maybe, but I’ll get to play the games eventually, and at the rate with which I seem to tire of an MMO game at the moment it’s probably best for me to extend the time between games as much as possible.

I did, however, receive a beta invite anyway; having subscribed to several NCSoft games in the past I’m well aware of their tendency to attach a beta bomb to games that they are publishing such that, when the time is right the bomb detonates, delivering a devastating wave of beta invites to every subscriber that they’ve ever had. Even if you only thought about subscribing: beta invite! Went to the website once? Beta invite!

I played the game for a few levels because, well, it would be rude not to, but I left it at that. I won’t be playing any more until release because I don’t want to spoil the experience, and so I can’t tell you anything about it, and even if I could well…

<The Curtains part. The lights go up. The chorus line appears on stage. Fireworks go off in the background. Elephants with can-can dancers on their backs, ride through on unicycles.>

It’s, Ennnnnnn Deeeeeee Aaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy!

Da da de dum dum dum. Da.