Thursday, September 25, 2008

On Politics

I know this is a video game blog, but something has been really bothering me lately: The political campaign. This year seems to be the worst in my short life. I don't remember either of the Bush elections having just so much hateful BS and rhetoric flying around. It seems that there are three kinds of people: Those that are McCain fanatics, those that are Obama fanatics, and those that aren't voting (either because they don't like either candidate or they feel their vote won't matter).

I will state for the record that I am an Obama supporter (though I do not feel myself a fanatic). This decision was reached under careful consideration of both candidates proposed policies and messages, and may be subject to change depending on the upcoming debates (if they ever happen). Another factor in my decision to endorse Obama is probably related to my age, his message appeals to my generation, and because I am absolutely fed up with President Bush and feel that McCain will be more of the same or worse. That and when the republicans had BlackWater mercenaries illegally detaining reporters (not paparazzi, actual reporters from actual networks) and infringing on the freedom of press, that seemed to be a big sign of what was to come.

I wanted to tell you that so that you can put what I am posting into perspective. Honestly all news agencies should have a statement of beliefs before political broadcasts, because no news agency in America is unbiased one way or the other. Maybe that is the problem.

What I've seen in the news and in talking to people is that people will largely believe what they want to about this campaign. If they hear a report that their candidate has done something "bad" they will reinterpret it and switch it to a good thing, or blame it on the "liberal/conservative" news coverage that is obviously making up lies to support the other candidate. I've come to the conclusion that 99% of America is hopelessly retarded and unable to make any decisions for themselves. Most of us will believe just about anything as long as it goes along with our beliefs.

Some examples? I've had people tell me that Obama is a sleeper cell agent for terrorist networks, and when he gets elected he will kill us all. My thoughts on that? Why would he have to be elected to kill us all? Also, don't you think that a sleeper cell agent would be detected by someone? This is not a movie, you cannot magically brainwash people like that without leaving some sign or proof it exists. The same woman also told me that he was Islamic, and that proved he was a terrorist. I asked her if she thought every Islamic person was a terrorist, and her response was yes, and that she was glad they were all in the Middle East. I didn't have the heart to tell her Muslims make up a few percent of the US population, she might never leave her house again.

It's not just limited to Obama. I've heard people say that McCain is old and senile and that McCain/Palin is a plot to get Palin into the presidency (who would have no chance at it otherwise) and that she will be some sort of evil dictator. To be honest, I'm amazed she hasn't single-handedly ruined this campaign from the start. She spent most of her day of meeting foreign dignitaries with Kissinger, an American diplomat, instead of...you know...meeting foreign dignitaries. She is not a world-wide threat.

People really need to evaluate where their news comes from, not so that they can say "oh it's all lies, my political candidate is a god" but so they can make intelligent decisions about how much of what is said to believe. No news agency is going to make something up whole-cloth. There is always truth to what is reported, now the interpretations of that truth that are represented and the means they are represented are another matter all together.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Spore Revisited

Okay, so my last post was really harsh (though totally justified) to Spore. Here's how Spore could be fixed.

1. Allow players to continue to gain DNA points/evolve their creatures even after they've beaten the stage of life. In other words, just because you've gotten 100 dna points in cell stage doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to collect more and upgrade your cell into a really cool looking version of it in-game. This solves the problem I have between the creature creator and the actual game. You can make really awesome things in the editor, but in the actual game you are severely limited by points.

2. Make the earlier stages matter to the later stages. Currently, the only way earlier stages impact later stages are by the special abilities you get, and these are largely pointless little buffs. In fact, there really is no reason to play through stages you don't like as you can make a much better creature starting in say the creature phase or civ phase than you could evolve from cell.

3. Make space playable. I'm not a boy-scout, and collecting badges doesn't interest me. Achievements, sure after I've beaten the game, but not to unlock main game content. Achievements should be used to unlock special content, not anything on the main storyline. I'm not going to even get started on invading another empire, as it is stupidly difficult to do without making millions of trips back to recharge and repair or upgrading until you are in god mode. It'd be better if the space age wasn't included than giving us this crappy stage.

4. Cut back the cute crap. I understand bright colors are pleasing to the 8 year olds, but frankly the cartoonish nature of the game is painful. I tolerated WOW's cartoony feel because it had a lot of mature humor and was actually fun to play (and let's face it, a lot of warrior armor looked badass while cartoony). I intentionally color my buildings and creatures in realistic colors, but the pallet is very limited.

5. Apologize. Seriously it was not just the fans that overhyped this game. The videos of the concept of this game was way better than the end game ended up being. Not to mention the fact that we deserve an apology for having to wait so long for this crap. Just my thoughts.

-VG Philosopher

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spore, why?

Why, Spore, did you have to give me hope only to dash it on sharp rocks like a seal trying to eat a crab? Why? Did I do something horrible in a past life that I have to attone for now?

But seriously, Spore isn't a horrible game...but it is not the ambrosia that gamers thought it would be. Honestly, it's a freaking kids game. I can deal with the bright colors and themes, and all the crappy textures for your creatures, but the game is simplified to an almost painful level.

Let's start with the cell phase. Now this should be simple, right? Well, it's not simple, it's painfully simple. You can choose from a whole 9 cell parts! Wow...I haven't had that much selection in equipment since the original Zelda (My bad, you only had 8 secondary weapons in Zelda). Not only that, but you have to FIND 6 of those parts. Beyond building your cell, you get to collect little meat dots or little plant dots. That's right, your hours of playing Pac Man have not been in vain. (Authors note: I know they said it would be inspired by Pac Man, and I should have expected something like this, but inspired by and blatantly copied are two different things)

So, once you grow enough to get a brain (Where's the wizard of Oz when you really need him?) you get to go to the land creature creator. Apparently the only important evolution creatures got from cell to animal was legs...I mean, even those cilia and flagella you had from the cell phase increase your movement speed on land (I'm not even speculating how). If you're lucky enough not to crash (which happens about 80% of the time to me, especially if I try to create an herbivore) you get to have a wonderful choice of game play: Kill stuff or play simon says. Seriously....you can kill stuff and eat it or go up to creatures and mimic them to make them your friends (and you thought making friends in the Sims was a pain in the ass). Anyway, somehow playing simon says and killing things gets you DNA points and a bigger brain.

So, on to the tribal phase which is just as simple, except instead of killing stuff and playing simon says you have to build a small selection of buildings, and then kill stuff or play simon says (while conducting music). Seriously, the camera angle is pretty much the only major play style difference between tribal and creature modes. I guess you can give orders RTS style, but it's still pretty much the same. Oh wait, you can domesticate like 3 creatures and have them lay eggs for you to eat...that's pretty much the only addition.

City phase is a laughable attempt at an RTS. It offers three play styles: Religious, Economic, and Militaristic. The difference? Well, Religious and Militaristic are largely the same with different graphics (oh and you can't actually destroy buildings or anything really with religious units, just "convert" them which doesn't seem to do anything except in the case of cities, which surrender to you). Economic conquest is an interesting concept, but kinda far-fetched if you think about it. Why would an enemy nation agree to a trade route let alone sell their last city to your empire. Corrupt Officials? I guess.

Space phase is a joke. Are we playing pokemon? No? Then why do I have to collect badgers to progress? And if you have ships specifically for your trade routes why do I have to haul and sell this spice? I thought this was supposed to be a sandbox mode, the problem is it takes 50+ hours of play (exageration, I don't have the patience to screw around with this horribly designed phase of the game to really find out how long it takes) to get to the max rank, and even more to get enough money to have all the tools on your ship (many of which you have to buy for every use.

Overall Rating of Spore as a game: 6/10

VG Philosopher Plays Spore
VG Philosopher's Soul take 100000000 depression damage.
VG Philosopher dies a little on the inside.

For how long this game took to make, you'd think it wouldn't be designed for a 3 year old.
-VG Philosopher

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Up Up and Away

I guess it's time to get up off my lazy butt and get back to work here. My last topic of discussion was of course, EVE Online, a good game, and an addicting one. But for now, I'm going to change gears a bit and discuss another obsession of mine, Combat Arms.

Combat Arms is a FPS full of the usual standard FPS fare. You have your Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatches (Called Eliminations), Free for all Fun (Called One Man Army), and Objective based missions. So why is it so great? Well, it has a built in rank system, so as you play you earn xp towards your next rank. Each rank unlocks new weapons and armor for you to buy and use. Also, the top ranks are only able to be held by a certain number of players.

When I say you buy weapons and armor, I actually mean that you lease them. You pay GP (Gear Points) to purchase weapons and equipment for a certain period (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months). You can then use those weapons for that period. Once the period is up, you have to rebuy those weapons. The good news is that GP is easy to earn. The bad news is that everything is expensive to buy.

Basically with this game, the more you play the better you are. You will have access to more equipment, and have more GP to buy equipment with. I play a couple nights a week for a few hours, buying equipment just for that day. Sure it costs less per day to buy for a longer period, but when I'm not sure how long I'll play, I'd prefer to keep some gp in my pocket for later.

The bad part about this game is that there are a large amount of hackers, and flaws in the game code (it is still relatively new, but also a free FPS MMORPG!) Nexon is trying hard to crack down on hackers, and seems to be making headway against them. At any rate, this game is ridiculously fun to play, and I'm off to play it now.