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.

9 thoughts on “Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

  1. Heather (errantdreams)

    Dang. How is it that I manage to avoid all these perfidious beta-bombs? I TRY to get them, and yet my inbox remains empty!

    O, woe is I!

    I refuse to comment on FPSs. Nor the fact that I just read an entire blog entry on them—no skimming—because it was hilarious.

  2. Melmoth

    Dang. How is it that I manage to avoid all these perfidious beta-bombs? I TRY to get them, and yet my inbox remains empty!

    For some reason the beta bomb only takes out innocent persons who have no desire or need to enter beta, it is not entirely indiscriminate in this respect.

    Right now, His Holiness The Dalai Lama is wondering what a Hellgate is, and why it is to be found in London.

    If he doesn’t realise the nature of the beta invite quickly enough, he’ll call-up the other members of the Buddha Dharma Alpha Force and rush to save the citizens of this fair land from destruction. Deary me, isn’t he going to be embarrassed when he gets here and realises the mistake.

    I refuse to comment on FPSs. Nor the fact that I just read an entire blog entry on them—no skimming—because it was hilarious.

    You didn’t have to throw quite so much rotten fruit at the mention of FPS…

    …Argh! Now I have tomato in my eye.

  3. Heather (errantdreams)

    Buddha Dharma Alpha Force, doo-dah, doo-dah, Buddha Dharma Alpha Force, oh doo-dah day…

    (You can blame a friend of mine who says, “doo-dah” in a deadpan voice every time she hears something that could syllabically be set to Camptown Races. She got me doing it years ago.)

  4. Bildo

    So then… Tabula Rasa? :)

    I shall not weep for you, Melmoth, not that you’re asking me to. Because unlike you, I applied to tons, and got into many and now am driving myself mad not trying to spoil them before launch.

    Curiosity killed the Bildo.

  5. Melmoth

    So then… Tabula Rasa? :)

    Indeed. I don’t think we get in trouble for that; you’re more likely to get in trouble for saying that you’re not in the beta, since they sent an invite to everyone.

    Well, everyone except for Heather, but that’s because she went to the NCSoft offices and performed the “doo-dah” song. (She blames it on her friends, but down in the Inferno we know the truth).

    I […] am driving myself mad not trying to spoil them before launch

    I have to say that this is what I was trying to avoid. That and the fact that I don’t tend to play betas to test them, because I deal with enough software bugs at work, and I therefore don’t want to come home and spend time debugging someone else’s. So, I feel that if I’m not testing it, then all I’m doing is spoiling that time when I get to play it ‘for real’. As I said in the post, I might be cutting of my nose to spite my face.

    It’s a case of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ I guess. Actually it makes a slavering, credit card wielding fan-boy who will buy anything as soon as it hits the shelves no matter what the quality, but I never claimed that it was a perfect plan on my part.

    Curiosity killed the Bildo.

    Or a ten cannon Brigantine, depending on where you are at the time, I would imagine.

  6. Bildo

    Aye, lately it’s the Sloops that get me. So speedy.


    Anyway, I test games because I honestly do have a passion for the process, but like you at the same time, I don’t want to mess up my “real” gaming time with them at launch.

    So here’s what happens.

    Bildo applies.

    Bildo waits.

    Bildo gets in.

    Bildo tests the game.

    Bildo either hates or loves the game.

    If he hates the game, he continues to test it once a week or so, hunting bugs and doing his part.

    If Bildo loves the game, he has to hook his nipples up to a car battery every time he goes to play it because he does not want to forget it’s beta, not the real thing.

    Hence, why my chest hair is singed these days.

  7. Melmoth

    Hence, why my chest hair is singed these days.

    If this is some attempt at forming a quest to get me to kill ogres for their chest hair, you can forget it.

  8. Hexedian

    On a side not, if you feel the need to detox from MMOs on FPSs, you might want to give Urban Terror a try; all the fun, and only half the brain-destroying calories.

  9. Melmoth

    For my sins, I’ve just picked up the Quake Wars beta, and even though I can only play offline I’m quite enjoying it. Urban Terror looks interesting though, I might have to dive into that one at some point.

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