Monday, 25 November 2013

Music Mondays 4: Saberwing Makes Music

There was quite a lot of good music this week, so here's my top 4 finds.

Songs of the Week



OK, so it's a bit out there as far as music I normally put up goes. It is however a masterpiece of hilarious proportions. Based on a trend of people remixing this moment from Jontron, this is easily the best of it's...sub-genre? Anyway, the level of detail that went into this makes it worthy of notice.



An old Exit Mindbomb (Amazing BrandO) track that was recently remastered. Might be a bit heavy for some, but it's worth a listen if you like Grunge.



One thing that has been grinding my gears over the past year has been the amount of video game covers with poor mixing. Thankfully, DSC has been working to improve on that and it really shows in this Pokémon RBY medley. I hope this trend continues as it results in good music becoming great music.



I must have listened to this at least 10 times yesterday. It's only 1 month until Christmas, so the Christmas music is about to dominate everything until next year. If all of it is half as good as this, then I'll be a happy man.

Artist of the Week

Shahin Kanafchain (AKA CCP Saberwing)

It was a pleasant surprise to find out Shahin has a Masters in Music Composition. He has a small host of music on his Soundcloud and will apparently be continuing to produce more once he's fully set up in Shanghai.

There isn't enough music to recommend anything in particular, but you'll probably want to start with his Production Music Showreel.


Oneironauts (The Dream Travellers) from Shahin Kanafchian on Vimeo.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Dust 572: The Best Way To Play

So earlier this morning, I read a post in response to someone talking about Dust's frame rate problems. The original post claimed to have frame rates as low as 1-3 per second. This is a serious problem as first person shooters running at anything below 30 frames per second don't function very well. Hell, most PC gamers can't stand anything below 60 and pros generally favour 120 FPS.

The response was an interesting claim to solve the problem however. By forcing Dust 514 to run in 572p, the game could achieve a much higher and more stable frame rate. I had some time before the servers went down today, so decided to try it out.

The first thing I noticed was an immediate sense of nostalgia. If you've ever wondered what closed beta looked like, 572p is a fairly good indicator. The performance is a bit higher now though, as the game has seen some general performance increases since then.

The second thing I noticed was the menu animations were much smoother. Granted the game looks like ass and could be mistaken for a PlayStation 2 title, but there's hints that the game is running better. Menus are more responsive and animations are smoother.

This was all good and well, but how did it perform in a live match environment? I loaded into a faction warfare match and it was like nothing I've experienced in Dust before. The frame rate was higher than I'd seen before and the responsiveness felt incredible. I'm normally a terrible shot with a scrambler pistol, but here I was racking up head-shot kills. For the first time in a long time, I was enjoying playing Dust for the sake of playing Dust. Christopher Franklin's "Kinaesthetics" video comes to mind when trying to describe this.



Now this match was obviously not under the stress that PC battles can put on a system. People were using equipment, but not spamming it everywhere. I would be interested in hearing how it performs in a more stressful environment compared to 720p though. If it didn't make my eyes hurt so much, I'd probably never play Dust in 720p again, but I can see this being less bothersome to people who want the extra edge.

There's a potential nightmarish outcome to all this. If CCP don't improve the 720p experience, it's possible a group of players could exploit the frame rate drop from equipment spam while avoiding it themselves. The endgame to all this would be a world where players are forced to play in 572p and spam equipment to compete. Here's hoping it won't come to that.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Music Mondays 3: Pig With The Face Of A Boy

Haven't found as much this week, but here's a few choice picks.

Songs of the Week

Climate Change Denier (contains full frontal nudity)

A few years ago, Pig With The Face Of A Boy released a Tetris themed song about the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. At current it has over 3.6 million views and for good reason. Their latest release "Climate Change Denier" was a pleasant surprise to find in my Youtube feed and is an enjoyable listen, albeit not as memorable as the Complete History Of The Soviet Union.



I'd been getting a bit sick of the Slam Jam mashups over the past couple months. The best examples of good mashups are things like Gangnam Style or Panic Station. This is the first mashup since Slamjam Station that I've truly enjoyed and just fits the two songs so well together. There's also a free .mp3 download available.



Someone asked for some hip hop, so here's Duane and BrandO rapping about Duck Hunt.

Artist of the Week

Pascal Michael Stiefel aka Plasma 3 Music

Not unlike Atpunk from last week, I found P3M through a remix involving a (now former) member of Game Grumps. he has a large number of game music remixes over several websites.

Duck Tales Orchestra fan rendition
Newgrounds
Soundcloud

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Music Mondays 2: Slightly Late Edition

So you can thank the Dust 514 grindathon event this week for this not being done until now. Hopefully I'll avoid this situation in the future, but better late than never. It's worth adding that despite this being 2 days late, I'm only including music I found before this Monday.

Tracks of the Week

**SEIZURE WARNING**


I found out about Atpunk a couple months ago when he released his "Welcome Back!" Jontron Remix (which also deserves a seizure warning). His latest track is very reminiscent of Anamanaguchi and is an overall solid original piece from someone who is most well known for remixes.


It's a little weird that these guys aren't more popular. Critical Hit is a band formed from a number of well known musicians, including the violinist Taylor Davis and composer Jason Hayes (World of Warcraft). Their début album is a compilation of video game covers, ranging from Modern Warfare to Angry Birds. I've never played a Call of Duty game, but the cover is a good listen despite that. Also, here's a bonus .gif of Joel Taylor.



If you like Trance (or any electronic music), Trancecrafter is the best artist you've probably never heard of. I mentioned in my first blog that I go to websites like Newgrounds to find people early in their careers and that's how I found TC. Sadly he rarely releases full tracks, so I was pleasantly surprised when this popped up in my subscriptions on Saturday. This song is part of a 78 track compilation that is raising money for the charity "Sport Relief". You can buy it from Bandcamp for the low price of a tenner.

Artist of the Week

Rob A Ronawsky

Beyond his music, I don't actually know much about Rob A Ronawsky. His music mostly focuses around guitar covers of anime theme songs. The best example of this is his cover of the Attack on Titan opening song...



and his Attack on Titan Medley.


He has a whole slew of different Soundcloud and Youtube pages though. If you're looking for the best way to listen to his music, I'd suggest starting with his main Soundcloud page. If you want his other tracks, your best bet is to search "Rob A Ranowsky" on Youtube as that will display all of his channels.

He also has a Facebook page.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Dust 514 Squad Cups Results and Videos

Over the weekend, the first Dust 514 6v6 Squad Cups took place with over 50 teams competing across 3 regions. I'll be compiling a list of videos I find from the tournament too. Feel free to contact me if you find any that should be on here.

Asia

1st Place - Nyain San
2nd Place - B.market

Bracket

No videos yet

Europe

1st Place - Power Rangers
2nd Place - United Pwnage Service
3rd Place - What The French

Bracket

Ro32 Videos

United Pwnage Service vs Diamond 7
What The French vs Les Croustillants
Forsaken Immortals vs Dust GAC Equipo 1

Ro16 Videos

United Pwnage Service vs Norwegian Dust 514
What The French vs Academy Inferno
Forsaken Immortals vs Fat Bastards

Ro8 Videos

United Pwnage Service vs French The Win
United Pwnage Service vs French The Win (second PoV)
Forsaken Immortals vs Power Rangers
What The French vs Gli Sbabbari

Ro4 Videos

United Pwnage Service vs Maphia Clan Unit Unicorn

North America

1st Place - 0uter.Heaven
2nd Place - GAC America
3rd Place - MH Neighbourhood Watch

Bracket

Ro32 Videos

MH Neighborhood Watch vs Onslaught Inc 2

Ro16 Videos

MH Neighborhood Watch vs Random Gunz

Ro8 Videos

MH Neighborhood Watch vs Killer Rubber Duckies

Ro4 Videos

MH Neighborhood Watch vs 0uter.Heaven

Music Mondays 1: Spooky Introduction

Outside of gaming, one of my favourite pastimes is looking around online for music to listen to. I follow upwards of 150 different music channels on Youtube and regularly look around websites such as Newgrounds or Soundcloud for new artists to follow.

My normal pattern is to browse around for up and coming artists. Then follow them as they continue on their way through their music careers, listening to their progress over time. I do this on a regular basis, so I figured it'd make a good regular blog. Anyway, here's what I've been listening to this week. It was Halloween, so this will mostly themed around that.

Tracks of the Week



I should probably mention that I've never played any Silent Hill games, but enjoyed this Medley regardless. Jules is currently in the middle of his third year of weekly video game covers, so he may well be a regular on this blog for the near future. You can find free downloads of his work in the descriptions of his videos.



There's a number of Castlevania tracks going around this week. OCRemix uploaded 4 in a row including this remix of Vampire Killer by zircon. I wasn't that impressed with the other 3 tracks, but you can find them on their Youtube channel.



OK, so this one is a bit older, but I'd never heard it until this week when I was watching a playthrough of the game. Bloody Tears is a classic though and this version lives up to the name.

Artist of the Week

Psyguy

I found this guy a while back but didn't pay him much mind outside of a few tracks I'd downloaded from him. He caught my attention today again, when I was looking around for covers of the Sonic Adventure 2 track 'Pumpkin Hill'. While his cover wasn't as good as the original, I decided to give some of his other music a second listen. Here's a few choice picks.

Bloody Tears
Guile's Theme
Escape From The City
Chocobo Theme
Sonic Boom
Digimon Theme

Monday, 28 October 2013

Eris: King Of Orbitals

You may remember from my previous Interdictor blog that I mentioned the Eris could potentially be a great orbital bombardment ship if it gained some turret slots. It seems the idea of a split weapon ship that people will actually want to use was unlikely, so they have now changed it to 7 turret slots. The difference between 7 and 8 turret orbitals is minimal, so looking at the current ship options for supporting ground battles, the Eris is now King.

Doing some rough numbers leaves it with a strong tank (well over 13k ehp), a rack of 7 small rails, a micro warpdrive, along with a spare mid slot and high slot. I don't have access to a fitting tool with the updated stats yet, but I feel the following will be the cookie cutter Eris fit for small gun orbitals.

7x 75mm Gatling Rail II
1x <High>
1x Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive
1x <Mid>
1x Damage Contol II
2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
1x 400mm Reinforced Steel Plates II
1x Small Anti-Explosive Pump II
1x Small Trimark Armor Pump I

Sadly I remapped away from ship skill attributes today before these changes came out and have no skills in interdictors. I will be sure to have my friends who can fly them try this fit when the new faction warfare changes come in though.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Making Money From New Eden

So I got into a small argument on twitter earlier, but managed to stop myself after remembering that's a bad idea and I won't be responding through twitter about this. I should probably be doing other work, but I feel like few have voiced an opinion close to mine.

It's worth noting before I begin that I haven't followed all of this Adolf Somer Stalin drama as closely as some, but I have grasp on the basics. Somer Blink and others are giving rewards to those who use their referral link for buying PLEX. These are in the form of lottery credit or straight up ISK payments. Through this method, it's possible to exchange ISK for small amounts of real life money. Because of it's roundabout nature, this doesn't violate the rule against trading ISK and real world money.

A group of players have taken issue with this however. Since even though this is "technically" allowed, it's an obvious loophole to get around the rule that was supposed to prevent this. I've heard that this kind of behaviour breaks the sandbox, but so does PLEX and people seem fine with that. When it comes to PLEX, you might be buying ISK at a rate determined by the in-game market, but you're still buying ISK with money. Considering how high the turnover on PLEX is, it seems people have been fine with a broken sandbox for a long time.

The fact is that there are lots of legitimate ways to turn in game money into cash. themittani.com and evenews24.com both pay their staff in ISK while making ad profits on their websites. syndicatecl.com make advertisement revenue from their tournament streams while paying out prizes in ISK and more companies are looking to do the same (ESL are getting into Dust 514). That's not even mentioning all the streamers, bloggers and other content creators who make money from what they do as well.

In the interest of being honest about conflicts of interest, I run adverts on my blog and a number of my Youtube videos. I've had a lot of positive feedback about both of these and complaints are almost entirely about the content I've made. I don't think anyone has ever come to me and said I should be banned for doing what I do. Hell, Nintendo tried to prevent people on Youtube making money from their content and had to change their stance after it turned into a PR nightmare. We live in a world where people make money by creating content around the games that they play and that isn't likely to change.

There's a second problem people have with Somer though. CCP decided to give their staff a number of unique ships in EVE as a reward for their work. This is the more serious issue because it's straight up giving certain players an advantage over others. Allowing people to move ISK around in the sandbox because of purchasable items is one thing, but straight up handing people billions of ISK in assets is straight up ignoring that the sandbox even exists. This wasn't the first time either, they also gave out the same ships to SCL staff too.

If CCP wants to reward fans who work for third party websites, they should give out of game assets. Things like clothing, posters or board games would be appreciated and wouldn't upset the game.

The last point I'd like to go into is CCP promoting third parties. It's hard to criticize CCP for any kind of promotion of their fans. Mad Ani got a partnership on twitch.tv after a large amount of promotion by CCP. EVE radio (who make money via donations and premium services) will have CCP staff come on as guests and will see an increase in listeners when that happens. CCP have a program dedicated to promoting this and before this RMT drama, I never saw complaints about them promoting websites based around their game. It's weird to see quotes like this...
So to confirm, CCP give Somer huge advantages over their rivals such as prizes and promotion. They utilise an RMT loophole to make $$$. 
from someone who sells merchandise, has a history of interviewing CCP staff and has an article on CCP's website promoting his website.

I guess this entire situation is all a big mess though. CCP could close down this loophole, but other loopholes exist. Considering the amount of money involved here, it doesn't seem like the impact will be that much bigger compared to the sheer size of the PLEX system. Some players might cash out their hundreds of billions, but if that was all that was keeping them here, were they truly happy anyway?

For now though, the only people I see doing anything wrong here are CCP. Giving out unique rewards to groups of players outside of tournaments and events seems like a line they should avoid crossing. If the referral system starts to negatively impact the game, they can look into shutting that down too. For now, I'm going to go make some more videos though, before people come after those too.

Monday, 21 October 2013

New Faction Warfare: There Is No Grind

So with the new Faction Warfare announcements, one thing has been bothered some people. In order to reach the maximum level of standings with a faction, you will need to win over 1500 matches for said faction.

Already the complaints of "another thing to grind" are beginning to come in from people. But I might have the solution to this, something to make the grind not even be an issue.


Don't tell anyone what their standings are.

Well OK, you can give people a rough idea. But do we really need to tell people the nitty gritty details? Surely all anyone needs to know is whether they're in the green or the red. Lets say someone has won 50 matches and has no team kills, that person could be told they have "fair" standings with that faction. Push it up to 100 wins with no team kills and they're told they have "good" standings. Maybe use a medal system like in EVE and keep thing ambiguous.

So long as players have enough information to know whether they need to be careful with team killing or have some winning to do, they should be fine. Giving out exact details only serves to make it feel more like a grind. Players will feel a natural sense of progression without any kind of force to keep them going beyond what they find enjoyable.

These Faction Warfare changes are still months away, so it will be interesting to see where True Grit goes with this.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Dust 514 News And What EVE Players Should Know

Edit: There was a small mistake with this post. Planetary Conquest won't involve Sov, you can go blame Lt Royal.

So over the last 48 hours, a large amount of new Dust 514 content has been announced. While no items, vehicles or game modes were mentioned, we've been given a rough roadmap of the upcoming Dust-EVE linked content. By now, most Dusters that care know about these changes, so here's the important parts that EVE players will want to know about.

New Orbitals
  • Orbitals will be based on a king of the hill style system above planets. EVE pilots will have to run the timer down for their side to give Dust players the ability to call in orbitals for Faction Warfare and Planetary Conquest(?).
  • Kills from orbitals will give kill mails.
  • Faction Warfare pilots will gain loyal points from orbital bombardments.
Faction Warfare
  • Dust players will receive loyalty points for participating in Faction Warfare. Dust players who fight more for a side will increase standings and receive more loyalty points as a result.
  • Faction Warfare orbitals will be from EVE only, no more NPC strikes.
  • CREST will give data on Faction Warfare districts. This will allow EVE players to see the status of the ground war on websites like Dotlan.
  • It's still undecided if Dust players will ever be able to sign up to a single faction (like in EVE) and not just be mercenaries.
  • Expected to be rolled out over the next 3 or so months.
Planetary Conquest 2.0
  • All new PC system in the works. Will involve EVE players a lot more.
  • New EVE ship being added, the 'War Barge'. Will be required to start certain kinds of Dust battles in PC 2.0. Can only be flown by EVE pilots. Will be vulnerable to EVE pilots while travelling and vulnerable to Dust mercs during ground battles.
  • Will be involved with sovereignty mechanics in some way. (False info, sorry)
  • EVE developers already at work on this, so could be as soon as the next summer expansion?
Other
  • Dust 514 getting a new market system that will allow trading between players. Another step towards EVE and Dust trading?

You can find all this mentioned during their EVE Vegas talk (starts around 4h 15m) and on the Dust forums.  

Friday, 18 October 2013

Heroes Of The Storm and Blizzcon 2011

A friend of mine was talking to me about the newly named DotA-like game by Blizzard, "Heroes Of The Storm". He wasn't overly fond of DotA but enjoyed a similar Warcraft 3 map called "Eve of the Apocalypse". Most notable for it's support of different maps and team sizes, EotA was pretty damn fun, but lived under the shadow of DotA.

Anyway, he told me just now that depending on the game's mechanics, he might be interested in giving Stormy Heroes a try. There was a talk by the team working on it at Blizzard back in 2011 which you can find below. I told my friend that I would list a few of the big differences for him to read on his lunch break.

  • Multiple maps and a serious effort to move away from the exact same map that every other DotA-like game uses.
  • Removal of mechanics such as last hitting in favour of certain creeps dropping health globes. This is probably to encourage more aggressive play styles over people sitting in lanes and farming.
  • Kill stats are based around the team and not around the individual. No more claims of people stealing each others kills.
  • A simplified item tree to prevent newer players being overwhelmed.
  • A number of mechanics that allow early game pushes to be extremely effective. Including heroes with strong pushing power and an ammo limit on towers with a slow restock time.
  • Something about having mounts instead of boots.
  • Killing the big neutral boss brings him to your side, forcing the enemy team to react or lose to the boss destroying their base. 

Whether all these make it into Stormy Heroes is anyone's guess, but we'll likely find out more at Blizzcon this year.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Merc's Thoughts On The Interdictor Changes

So while I'm at home with the family for a few days, I won't be able to play any Dust and very limited amounts of EVE. I still have time to write on my laptop though, so I'll be able to get a couple blogs done while I'm here.

Anyway, the new Interdictor changes coming in Rubicon were announced and since destroyers are still the primary means for planetary bombardment, the tech 2 variant is important to anyone looking to shoot up some districts.

Lets get the Flycatcher and the Heretic out of the way first. If either of these ships used turrets they would be the kings of small turret orbitals. The Flycatcher has the highest potential hp of it's hull size and would most likely have made an amazing rail boat. The Heretic has a great slot layout to support both a tank and a scram/web combo. Along with it's resist bonus and naturally great Amarr resist profile, a 6 or 7 laser Heretic could have been the best solo planet bomber in the game.

Both of those ships can still serve as good support vessels for any small bombing fleet though. The Flycatcher has a whopping 5 mid slots and the Heretic gets 2 utility mids as well. There's still a chance these ships might be changed before the expansion hits, but it's doubtful they will suddenly become turret ships in this balance pass.

The Eris is interesting to say the least. The potential from it's 4 low slots gives it a chance at running dual plates with a resist mod and a rack of small rails. It's problem comes in that it only gets 4 turret slots (and 4 launcher slots). A 4 turret orbital might be viable when the new mechanics come in, but for now it has to compete with the precision strike. Is a 4 turret hybrid strike worth it over a precision? Probably not and certainly not enough to justify risking a tech 2 destroyer over. With the new mechanics it could potential work as a solo kiter and being able to simultaneously fight people with missiles while bombing has it's merits, but there are better options.

There's a large amount of people against the split weapon system idea, so CCP may yet back down on it and go for a 6, 7 or even 8 turret version (a man can hope). If that becomes the case, the Eris will be the best planetary bomber in the game.

The future king of planetary bombardment is looking to be this next ship, the Sabre. With it's 4 mid slots and 7 turrets, it can fit 2 medium shield extenders and an adaptive hardner for an amazing tank (which also regens on it's own). The problem however, is that it uses projectile weapons. Tactical EMP S is often referred to as the "fluffy cloud orbital" because of it's complete lack of killing power (as well as looking like fluffy clouds). It could be used in clearing large areas of equipment or throwing down on a battle while armour based infantry and vehicles charge in. Sadly those are niche situations and have less application than the alternatives that can murder vehicles and clear swathes of infantry.

With this in mind, it's possible that a 75mm rail Sabre could be brought in since you mostly want it for the tank. Rails can hit out quite far with Spike, giving it a small amount of combat utility between bombings and being able to obliterate decent sized areas on the ground that it's aimed at. I guess the hardest part will be explaining the kill mail of a Sabre with 7 small rails, 3 tank mods in it's mids, a 1mn afterburner, a damage control and a magstab.

But hey, maybe they'll change their mind on the other 3 ships.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Please don't argue about balance on twitter

Last couple days, my twitter feed has been full of messages with 3-5 people tagged while said people try to argue their point. Because twitter only has 140 characters (including @ mentions), you're left with something like 70-100 characters to make your point. When it comes down to discussing anything, 70-100 words normally isn't enough to make a valid point, let alone 70-100 characters.

If you want to discuss balance, there are far more platforms that suit it better. Blogs are a great way to write a detailed explanation about something for example. Reddit is a good way to have a lengthy discussion while allowing people to downvote off-topic posts and fallacies. Chat locations such as IRC or private Skype groups are a good way to get a quick back and forth going. Hell, even the forums can be reasonable sometimes when people put the effort into their posts and ignore the trolls.

Twitter is inferior to all of these when it comes to any kind of discussion. Twitter is great for promotion, reporting problems, dick jokes and talking about what you just ate. It is not good for lengthy discussions where people need space to make a point.

I've spent the last 2 days watching my twitter feed be filled with people who all actually agree on the same thing (more spread out objectives). Due to the nature of twitter however, it's devolved into ad hominems and strawman arguments. What's funny is that talking about this on Skype with a group resulted in a paragraph that put the entire argument to rest.
Tower camping is only an issue when they can lock down half the map, including points. And blap anything that tries to get up there are take them off (bar a sniper. And snipers can't always get great angles in-map.. coz the mountains that go high enough are in the redline.
-Black Jackal

So can we keep this off twitter in the future? I'd greatly appreciate it and I don't want to have to unfollow people who otherwise tweet useful things I want to read.

The October 2013 Faction Warfare Event In Review

So credit where it's due, CCP have been trying new things when it comes to events. There's the standard double and triple XP events of course. There's also the grind X for items type too. The recent faction warfare event could be labelled as such, but the tie in with faction warfare is a new angle. Unlike the Caldari Prime event, the game now supports players choosing sides and there are actual benefits to the player for participating.

The Good

The event was announced weeks ahead of time, giving players some time to prepare. It's possible to get everyone in your corp/alliance to fight together on a single side, so queue-syncing is much easier to pull off. The rewards require effort to acquire and it's possible for the average player to reach the 20 match minimum.

The event also got people to really put time into faction warfare and it seems like many groups will continue to play it. Dust and EVE players are also reaching out to each other to work together. The rise of faction warfare as a much more competitive environment has allowed players to go full blast without the guilt of proto stomping. Anyone going into the warzone knows what they're in for.

The Bad

With no long term consequences, there's no reason for anyone to be loyal to any side. By itself, this wouldn't be so bad. In conjunction with the prize system however, you've got some real problems.

So each reward tier requires a certain win rate to obtain the prototype level gear. This alone would be fine, but with the game's current meta favouring certain suits/weapons/equipment, the strongest people will naturally gravitate towards the best rewards. In this case, most of the top players went Amarr. So what did everyone else with no loyalties also do? Joined Amarr.

I suppose it's my own fault for picking Minmatar, but the repair tools and mass drivers looked so nice. There were a number of groups playing Minmatar with some success, but why would the average corp pick the losing side when only winners are rewarded? CCP tout the "you're a mercenary" line when it comes to loyalty, but it's almost silly how one sided this all became. How CCP use the data from this event will be as interesting as how the playerbase interacts with faction warfare going forward.

Overall the event had some cool ideas and a good effort:reward balance, but favoured those who picked the winning side. It was interesting to watch play out, but I hope they try something different in future events.

p.s. Some more heavy rewards would be nice in the future.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Boots On The Ground S01E19

We go over Uprising 1.5, the new Squad cups, CCP Rouge and the faction warfare event.





Audio version on the right ->

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Dust 514 Community Helps Raise Over $8000 For Family In Need

For those not already familiar with this, the family of community member Jason "Quickgloves" Selby was recently struck with tragedy when his son Weston was born prematurely. Since then, he has been staying at the hospital with his wife and child, praying for Weston's recovery. While doing so however, he has been unable to work and would be unable to pay for their stay near the hospital.

Looking to support their friends, Christina Lockerd and Kimberly Bullock set up some fundraisers to help support Jason so he could stay by his child's side. News quickly reached the Dust community and a thread was stickied with details on donating. Donations started coming in along with a large amount of well wishes.

Shortly after, a fundraiser event was announced by drunk night organizer "DS 10". Donations of money to the fundraiser gave people a chance to win in game currency (ISK) for both EVE and Dust from a lottery. Billions of ISK were given out to those helped raise around $3000 in just a few days and the overall amount of money has now passed the $8000 mark.

It seems so surreal that I was talking to Jason a few weeks ago about he and his wife Amanda playing Diablo 3 together. I can't imagine what it's been like since then and I can only hope it all works out. I've already donated what I can, but the fundraisers and forum threads are both still open if anyone wants to send him some support.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Amarr Hold The Ground and Push The Sky

So in a strange twist, the past couple of days have seen the Amarr take every ground district in the warzone. What was previously a Gallente/Minmatar domination of the ground has changed completely over the last 48 hours. I also saw a post on the EVE subreddit today called "Amarr FW is in tier 2!" It seems the guys up in the stars are flipping systems and pushing back against the Minnies as well. I guess this is one of the best examples of the "One Universe One War" tag line playing out the way CCP intended.



So why the sudden change on the ground? On Tuesday, a faction warfare event started offering rewards to mercs who participated and won a certain % of their matches for a single faction. The rewards are varied by which faction you fight for, so looking at the current meta on the ground, a large amount of players are fighting for the Amarr because they offer the "best" rewards. The Minmatar rewards are nice too and I've personally been fighting for them, but the evidence suggests heavily that people want those drop uplinks more than they want the repair tools.

The bizarre thing about all this though is that while the rewards are nice, they aren't that nice. You're talking somewhere in the region of 5 million ISK on the Dust side to just buy them off the market. I've seen people throwing tanks close to that value into matches in order to keep their win ratio up. It's bizarre, but with not much else to do, I guess it makes sense that people will be going all out to get their rewards.

The event lasts until the 15th, so whether or not the Amarr will continue to hold everything past then is still unknown. It's possible we might see podsicles and bunnies start talking to each other to set something up going forward. There are a large number of mercs looking for work and with orbitals being a bit more commonplace now, the possibility of joint operations for a common cause exist. There's also methods of paying mercs across the games if you're willing, although the exchange rate heavily favours Dust right now (8:1 EVE:Dust).

Funny how a small carrot on a stick can impact so many.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Streaming On The 8th October

With the patch coming out on Tuesday, I'll be doing an all day stream (aiming for 8 hours minimum) to try out the new patch. During this, I'll be running open squads for people who want to fight for the Minmitar during the next event, so feel free to join in.

You can find my stream over on twitch. I'll likely start shortly after downtime ends.

Boots On The Ground S01E17+18

Forgot to do one of these last week, so here's both the new episodes. The past few weeks has been good in that I'm learning what direction to take the show and what to avoid. I was fairly unhappy with how episode 18 turned out, but 17 was well received.







Audio versions are on the right as usual.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

SyNergy Gaming pulls out of Molden Heath

If you've spoken with Mavado over the past couple months, you'll have seen this coming. With Dust not living up to the expectations of it's veteran players, there's been a steady decrease in activity since Uprising launched. Throw in new AAA titles coming out (GTAV) and new consoles just months away, you'll start seeing a lot more of the veteran playerbase moving on.

It's worth noting that EoN still has a presence in Dust/EVE and will likely continue to even after the next gen hits. We still hold over 100 districts (40% of Molden Heath) between the remaining corps. For now though, some of EoN are moving on to do other things and there's no knowing if or when they'll be back.
Won dust. Nothing else to prove. Everyone except imps lost in a war vs us. Nothing left but stay and get frustrated farming as you watch your activity dwindle.
-Mavado, alliance leader of EoN.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Boots On The Ground S01E16

With the move finished, we're back to a weekly schedule again. This means a shorter format with more meaningful discussion can take place. With the lack of a particularly long PC or tournament discussion, I decided to leave it as a single part with the news first.



Audio link on the sidebar.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Moving Is Finished, Time To Work

Moving is done for the moment. Might need to take a couple days to sort things now and again, but I've likely got the rest of the year to work on current projects with little interruption. I've spent this morning clearing out my secondary hard-drive and getting my computer to a happier state. Before the end of today, I'll be able to record, edit, upload and stream anything I want to. So here's an overview of what I'll be doing the next couple of months.

Blogging

Most recently I've been doing a lot of meta blogging and haven't produced as much actual content as I would like. I'll be writing more now and it will contain content that I'll have spent more time on. This will also include more EVE Online content, as I will be playing more EVE. I'll be looking into doing more high quality Dust posts over the coming months too, likely including guides and some more opinion pieces. There's some cool stuff in store for when the orbital changes come too (hopefully in 1.5).

Boots On The Ground

I'll be recording weekly again and with my new upload speeds, should result in quicker delivery and overall higher quality. Interest in the show has dropped a bit, but I'm still committed to making it. If anyone wishes to be a guest on the show, details are in the blog on the sidebar.

CPM Live

With the success of the CPM Ask Me Anything that took place over a month ago, I've been wanting to push to do a live weekly show with the CPM members that are interested. According to Hans' latest blog, the development schedule requires a level of compressed feedback that the show should help facilitate. Format will likely be an hour long and involve answering questions posted in the Youtube comments system. I will play a pure moderator role and mostly just filter questions coming in. Time and day is still to be set, a blog will be posted when they are.

General Youtube

I've mostly just been putting low effort videos onto Youtube recently and it shows. The best videos I've made recently can't be shown to the public yet and I haven't had time for better content. After some feedback from various places, raw gameplay videos will probably stop after the Logi Bro games are up. I will be taking more time to actually edit and produce more enjoyable content. I will also be streaming EVE and Dust on the channel too, so those will be archived and used for videos.

In the end, I'll probably monetize streaming, guides and talk shows, with tournament stuff later on. This means my other videos will have no restrictions on things like music, so I can make some videos for the sake of making cool stuff.

The 4 Minute Update

This project came to a grinding halt when we realized it's problems early on. It's been in limbo until new artwork and a real intro can be made. The older interviews will likely need redone or require a rework. This is frustrating since people took the time to talk to us back in July, but hopefully we can work things out. Artwork is almost done now, so it'll be back shortly after that has been finalized.

Other Projects

In about 2 weeks, I'll disappear for a couple days to do some personal stuff and work on something with a couple real life friends. This is something outside of gaming, so I'll only mention it in the future when it impacts other stuff I'm working on.

Anyway, time to go get some of this done.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Boots On The Ground S01E15

Starting next week, we'll be back to a normal, weekly schedule again. For now, enjoy an exhausted Gimble try to host the show.







Audio link is on the sidebar.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Initial Thoughts On Uprising 1.4

So 1.4 is finally here and now that the bugs are slowly being cleared away, we can start to see the intended direction CCP want the game to move in. While 1.3 fixed the flaylock pistol, the meta simply shifted to the 3 weapons that shared it's biggest strengths: mass drivers, forge guns and locus grenades. Shortly before 1.4 hit, it seemed like mass drivers were falling in usage in PC matches due to the strength of grenades and forge guns. This patch seems more likely to really shake things a bit, so here's some of my initial impressions.

Matchmaking

This is the probably the biggest change Dust will ever see and it's amazing how many people didn't realize how big a deal this would be. In an ideal world, this should have been in the game from open beta or even before then. For too long were new players getting completely wrecked by squads of proto bears in public matches. I can still remember what the #Dust514 feed was like on twitter during the months of seeing What The French drop 2-4 tanks in every ambush match and just rolling over the new players.

After the rough first day, matchmaking is now grouping players together by some unknown algorithm. This seems to be working as intended so far from what I can tell, with matches being far more even than before. I have no idea what this experience is like on the new player's end of the spectrum, but for a veteran it's exactly what I wanted. I have no desire for some hollow victory over those who can barely fight back, so even the losses I'm getting feel good.

The best part about this change is the complete role reversal for the older proto bears. Seeing those who used gear as a crutch come up against players around their own level and get crushed because they have no idea how to fight competent at the game is hilarious. I'm seeing people put this solely on the new auto aim system, when in reality it's mostly just because the playing field is actually level now. With improvements to hit detection and armour, the game plays very differently.

New Controls

Going to be upfront here, I barely use the pad to play. So when speaking about the new auto aim, I can only do so from the perspective of someone who plays against it. From what I've seen so far, it's barely been noticeable. I'm constantly fighting against people who I'd consider my betters, so I don't mind having to sharpen up if I want to win. The best player I squad with uses a DS3 (without aim assist) and you can see for yourself how well he does.



What I do want to mention is the issues with mouse controls. For some reason the turning rate when moving normally and when aiming is the opposite of what it should be. I'm currently restricted to hip firing most of the time and turrets turn crazy fast for me. Hopefully they can switch them around because aiming is pretty much broken until they do.

Outside that, I still have my polling rate set at 125hz as maxed settings on 1khz still doesn't reach the turn speed I currently have.

New Maps

4 maps were added to the pool with the 1.4 patch. Overall I like them over the previous maps, but they have their issues. In general the maps seem huge and feel as though they were designed for 24v24 or 32v32 sized teams. Border Gulch is a great example of this, as the bridge alone makes for an amazing 16v16 experience. I've heard rumblings about the Research Facility having problems in PC, but need more time to play on them myself.

Based purely on their layout, they clearly want people to start using more vehicles in matches for Skirmish on these. Having an LAV running around to help initiate assaults on points will be key on maps such as Border Gulch and Fracture Road.

What these maps do make me truly excited for is the possibility of new game modes. Fracture Road looks like a perfect map for Skirmish 1.0 and the bridge section on Border Gulch would be great for 6v6 domination.

Only thing left to say is it's frustrating to play on the old maps now. Ambush on Border Gulch is just so much more fun than any other map with the same game type.

New Meta and Other Changes

The changes to scanning have had a good impact on the way equipment slots are used. It's worth using up to 2 equipment slots in a squad to bring those scanners instead of more uplinks. The squad view changes combined with this now give those who used speed and shields to tank, an alternative in the form of profile signature reduction to sneak around.

The armour changes seem like they could make plates and repair tools dominate the meta. Armour tanks are now incredibly beefy and are doing well despite the increased accuracy that auto aim brought in. They're still vulnerable to things like grenades and direct mass driver hits, but they benefit from high damage output and third party repairs.

Speaking of repair tools, armour also has the advantage of generating more war points than shields due to gains from triage and guardian. This means another equipment slot is being taken away from uplinks in favour of more varied equipment. The final benefit to all this is armoured vehicles are more survivable in combat. Repair tools are pretty good when used on vehicles (especially the flux), so those armour tankers will need to work more with their logistics.

Mass drivers don't seem quite as good as before as they didn't receive a damage buff, weren't missing many shots before and are now hitting people who have more health. Forge guns have a slower projectile from what I've been told (and the new PC map has more cover against the high ground sniping spots). HMGs and scrambler rifles are much improved over their previous iterations.

I guess that just leaves grenades to be nerfed.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Could Daily Login Bonuses Be Beneficial To EVE?

With Uprising patch 1.4 only days away, one of the more interesting features being implemented is a daily skill point bonus. The basic premise of which is that offering a consecutively increasing amount of skill points for logging in every day, would drive up activity stats and avoid a "Dust Offline" situation once people have hit their weekly, active skill point caps.


This is all well and good. Similar ideas to this have worked and continue to work in other online games. The few exceptions I can think of would be games made by Valve, but those have other ways of keeping people playing.

The question is, could this be used to benefit EVE Online? Currently one of the big roadblocks to increasing the skill queue is it's a large incentive to actually log in and do things. Many people who subscribe to EVE barely log in, hence the popularity of the term "EVE Offline". But could something like a daily reward help with this? Could a simple couple hundred skill points a day motivate people to log on and play more?

If it does, it would certainly help the cause of longer skill queues.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

EVE 514: Friends With Benefits Part 2

It's been 2 months since the last one of these, I've got a couple hours to kill and they didn't announce changes to 1.4 that fix exploits I've done videos for. So lets do this.

Today I'll be talking about something that hasn't really seen a huge amount, unified naming standards between the games. At the time of writing, the weapon names in Dust don't really follow a single particular standard, but rather follow multiple different standards. You've got your Assault Rifle, Laser Rifle, Sniper Rifle and such that use vague names similar to current modern weaponry. Then you've got your science fiction sounding names like Swarm Launcher, Mass Driver, Forge Gun and Plasma Cannon. There's the EVE style names like Blaster, Rail Rifle, Ion Pistol and Railgun that mirror their EVE counterparts.

There's also the Scrambler Pistol and Rifle!

There two issues I take with this. The first is that when you use standard current day names for weapons, people will naturally gravitate towards them because of the familiarity. This isn't helped by the fact that implementation of new weapons don't include militia variants, which combined with beginner suits only using standard weapons, leads to a lack of variety. With the Assault Rifle being a good all round weapon, the combination of name, militia variant and starter fits just begs new players to specialize into them.

Since the game's skill tree rewards specialization, you'll essentially be trapping those who want to bling out their weapon of choice into the first weapon they choose. Naming conventions could end up creating a weird situation where people end up with a weapon they may not have chosen otherwise.

The second is that it's a perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between the two games. If we take Railguns and Blasters as an example, an EVE player will better understand what Dust players are talking about if the rifles were named Blaster Rifles and Rail Rifles. If you reverse this, the Dust player could understand why his EVE side orbital support that uses pulse lasers, would struggle to stay near the beacon when a ship with beam lasers is attacking it from afar. Some ideas would include -

Assault Rifle -> Blaster Rifle
Scambler Rifle -> Pulse Rifle
Laser Rifle -> Beam Rifle
Scrambler Pistol -> Scorch Pistol
Combat Rifle -> Auto Rifle

This would create a consistency throughout all games set in New Eden (which is at 2 currently with a 3rd on the way), allowing for players to better understand each other. I've talked to some CPM members about this subject and it's not the first time this has come up. However it's been a while since it was last brought up, with Hans Jagerblitzen saying "if CCP has mentioned anything abut names it was way back in beta".

If anything like this came to pass, what would you want renamed?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Pretty Much Everyone Declares War On EoN

So it's not really surprising that this is happening. EoN has become the big bad as with everyone who holds the most resources does in every multiplayer. The person with the most stock left in a free-for-all game of Smash Bros, the person with the biggest empire in Master of Orion 2 and now the alliance with the most districts held in Molden Heath. You may have the advantage, but you'll end up finding yourself fighting multiple opponents.

Looking back to the beginning of Planetary Conquest in May, the exact same thing happened with Cronos. They took a large chunk (around 40%) of Molden Heath right off the bat and eventually bit off more than they could chew. According to Quickgloves at the time, they ran an A-team system that eventually burnt out from fighting too many battles. Back then it was a combination of EoN and Negative Feedback who were throwing as many attacks as they could.

EoN consist mostly of players who are already competent enough (or at least trusted) to join anyone fighting in Planetary Conquest. When the wars against Orion and Cronos were taking place, everyone in EoN got into a single channel and it was all hands on deck. Using this method, we had a high success rate with very little burn out. I haven't logged in to check yet, but I imagine this will be the case again now that we're being attacked.

Since the first war, most people have pulled out of Molden Heath. The exception to this being EoN who stayed in search of gud-fights. What we ended up with is a majority hold (around 60%) and very few people left to fight. After what seems like eons of time spent whining on the forums, a coalition made up of everyone who isn't EoN has come knocking on our front door. I tried to find an exact list of who was involved and got the following from VD7.
seraphim initiative, nyan san, wtf, onslaught inc, ancient exiles, maphia clan corporation, PRO, PHI, the exemplars, the phoenix federation, UPSNE, wasteland junk removal, d3lta forc3, forsaken immortals, mass terror, lokun listamen alliance, LOI alliance, ANONYMOUS, academy inferno, foxhound corporation, GAC contract hunters, lotis wraith, shadow guards, slaughtermoose, 843 burgezz
...and more.

It's a bit sad there's no new Orbital mechanics yet for this, but we're finally getting a G I A N T vs Subdreddit rematch. With all that said, I'll leave with some parting words from EoN's alliance leader, Mavado.
About this war. The community finally did exactly what we wanted them to do. Targets were goin away, having them finally HTFU and organise instead of cry on forums is good for the game in the short run. 
Ppl dont get that we dont care for districts that much if at all, day 1 when everyone joined EoN we made it clear Districts are just a means to get fights, That's it. DUST ISK means nothing when nullsec comes along to us. Been saying this for months.
More districts they manage to take off us means more targets back on the board for us to shoot again. Win Win for everyone.
Now I say its good for the game short term because that still doesn't change the fact DUST is a subpar game atm and with GTA and PS4 on the horizon the bigger problem arises from when ppl just stop caring about DUST that much and this anti-EoN coalition is all that's around. Most of these corps have a carebear mentality and not a competitive one so would they then break up their new super coalition of every single corp to fight each other or play it safe?
Ppl also seem to think we will "get destroyed" if we manage to lose which isn't the case. We've grown beyond just a dust grp and like i said more districts taken off us means ppl get to go wild again and fight without the bs politics involved.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A Real Sense Of Community

It's time for a small confession. I've never really felt like Dust had much of a community. I'm not talking about communities that play Dust, but more of a general community that comes from people sharing a common interest. This likely stems from reading too much War Room drama and anything Beers says. I also tend to lone wolf a lot when I grind out my weekly SP, only grouping when someone else sends me an invite. Beyond that though, it seemed like the Dust playerbase was split up into alliances and corps.

More recently however, it feels like I'm noticing those "barriers" no longer existing. If you swing by the drunk night channel that DS runs, you'll find people from everywhere just squading up to have a good time. Doesn't matter the corp, the level of skill or even if you're drinking, anyone can join in.

There was also the R&D PC match I was running this weekend. It required at least 16 people to actually pull off and there were only a few GIANTs around to help out. I knew a couple CPM members were coming, but numbers were still in the single digits. I decided to send out a tweet and VD7 showed up with DS to help out. With numbers still looking too low to test what I wanted to try, VD7 and DS both started spamming channels to find outside help (I wasn't testing anything that would be gamebreaking). Suddenly the test channel was flooded with people from random corps willing to help out. After pulling everyone into the match that we could, people listened to the instructions given and we got some great video footage recorded.

About a week ago, Scott Smith (former EG manager) said that Starcraft didn't have a real community on the show Climbing the Ladder, before he asked that the show's host use another word to describe. His point was that 100,000+ people sharing a subreddit doesn't make a community. A real community is like the 20 or so guys who show up to Quakecon BYOC every single year.

The last couple of weeks has shown that Dust is moving more towards the latter than the former. I just hope the game can improve enough over the next couple of months so we don't lose all that too.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Boots On The Ground S01E14

It's weird to think that it's been almost 2 months since the last Boots On The Ground. I'll have finished moving in around 3 weeks from now though. I managed to find some time to get an episode set up and recorded though.





Audio version on the sidebar --------->

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

I Guess This Is Where Youtube Wins

So after a number of announcements recently, it seems Google are finally starting to put more serious effort in competing in small scale live broadcasting. For a long time, I had no real idea how anyone actually got to the point where they could live broadcast on Youtube (other than being really big). They've finally set the bar at 100 subscribers though. As someone with 411 Youtube subs and 36 Twitch followers, you can probably see where this blog post is going.

If you've paid much attention to live video streaming on the internet recently, you'll have noticed the huge growth that industry has seen. Twitch.tv came from a simple 'Justin.tv does games' and turned into a large live streaming haven for gamers. Outside of gaming, you have websites like livestream.com and ustream.tv continue to exist as well. It's been a good couple years for live streaming and we're about to go into one of the biggest weekends for broadcasted gaming content in history.

So where was Youtube until now? Surely with such a, dare I say "booming industry", they could have been a large contender already. From what I've seen though, it's a matter of scale. Twitch might have a 200,000 or so people watching on a good day, but that's a drop in the bucket for Youtube. When I see something being streamed on Youtube, it's a Wimbledon or a guy jumping out of a large metal can from about 39km into the stratosphere. When you have millions watching a guy screaming while playing Happy Wheels, would you really care about a handful of people with mere thousands watching him live?

It seems Youtube did the smart move here; wait for live streaming to grow and focus on large scale events while building better tools and infrastructure. Twitch has become unstable recently, even to the point where 240p can lag. By comparison, watching Wimbledon on Youtube was a pleasure. The stream would auto adjust it's resolution when left on default and I could manually change it with a seamless transition. If there was lag, I don't remember it and the lack of thousands of people spamming chat icons wasn't missed.

I don't know what the catalyst for Youtube suddenly going after the smaller broadcasters is, but they seem in a good position to do it. Twitch might have some shinier features, but Youtube is stronger in a number of ways. The Twitch highlight and export system is a real headache when you're dealing with multiple accounts. Youtube has a superior interface with more options and gives you the ability to download the entire thing as a video file to edit yourself. Even the simple things like a centralized point of people seeing all of my content is a huge boon. Not to say Youtube is perfect, but if people can watch my content in high quality without issue, then there's only one real choice.

Depending on how things work out on the monetization side of things (such as the ability to run adverts), I see no reason to use Twitch when I plan to start streaming next month. I don't plan on putting any sponsor logos up when I stream, so Youtube's policy on that doesn't bother me. I also don't like the idea of going through the uncertainty of getting a Twitch partnership if my existing Youtube partnership does the same job. Why spend time building up something I could potentially make money from when I already have a more established platform?

Friday, 2 August 2013

You Know What, I Really Can't Be Bothered

I've gotten to the point with this bloody tournament that I can't be bothered to even try anymore. After trying to get switching corps to work for the past couple days to play in the damn thing, we'll probably just get disqualified because a bunch of us are having this issue.

Urgent Fury have one of the single worst websites I've ever seen. I'd be embarrassed to be involved with them in a professional capacity. The fact that they're asking all of us to use the damn thing and not just the corp heads shows a complete lack of care towards the community.

This entire thing has gone from one screw-up to the next and it's just cringeworthy to watch. I've got relatives coming to stay during most of the early rounds, so I think I'll just go spend more time with them instead.

Sorry to those that I'm letting down with this, but I honestly just don't have the energy to throw into it anymore. I hear Kane and Iddon talking about a community run tournament in the future though, so that should be good.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A Bone To Pick With The Prime Tournament

I'm actually pretty angry right now and I dislike writing while on tilt, but I don't really care in this case. The changes to the Prime tournament over the last few days have been an embarrassment to watch unfold. There were a number of issues, such as being forced to sign up to a third party website and needing to dedicate 3 weekday evenings every week for a month. But this isn't about that, it's about the format and roster changes.

When the tournament was first announced, the format was a 16v16 Skirmish. This was fine at the time, it's a decent format and the last few tournaments used the same one. Apparently people weren't really in favour of this though and signups were slow. CCP then decided to change the format to 8v8 Domination to lower the barrier of entry and it seemed to work. People were signing up and rosters were filling out, but the 16v16 crowd were pissed off.

It seems the outcry worked because now the end result is them changing it back to it's original 16v16 format. This has left all the smaller teams who signed up out in the cold now. As we're unable to find that many people to fill out the roster needed to play the required 3 times a week, all that's left is a feeling of emptiness. I should point out that I still get to play in the damn thing, EoN is setting up a corp for Europe so we can stop Cronos getting a free pass. I'm now left outside a corp I want to be in and feeling bad that they probably won't get to join in.

At the risk of burning some bridges, I'm disappointed with Han's response to them changing it back. I should have done a better job letting him know about what this meant to us, but didn't expect them to change it back. The CPM is mostly made up of people who's corps can field teams of 16 people, so I guess everyone dropped the ball on this. Despite that though, it should never have gotten to the stage where that was even an issue.

So now here we are, with people outside corps they want to be in, with teams that probably won't even play. According to Kane, there are maybe 3 or 4 teams in Europe who have the numbers as of this post. Those 128 players now get to decide what the name of a planet in New Eden will be.

They should just have gotten Iddon to do it again, at least he knows what the fuck he's doing.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Plasma Cannon In Review

So after watching a video on this weapon, I figured I'd hurry up and do a review of it before too many people base their thoughts on a single opinion. I was going to save this to be part of the Mordu blog, but that is looking more and more like it'll get delayed until September (you'll see why when it comes out). But anyway, before we look into the weapon, here's a bit of backstory.

So during the Mordu event, one of the goals was to blow up 100 installations in a week. Not specialized into heavies, I decided to stick to my advanced swarm launcher. The problem with this is swarms can't target neutral installations. With the best way to score killing blows, on them being to pick empty regions and play Ambush OMS, killing neutrals was needed. This led to me trying out the Plasma Cannon.

My initial reaction was similar to the one seen in Pyrex's video. The weapon felt weak and hard to aim, requiring 4 direct hits to kill an installation with a reload between shots. It was the only thing I had though, so I grinned and beared it. Thus began my journey into learning this weapon. At this point, I wasn't keeping track of my stats at all, so I just kept hammering out games with this weapon I'd previously considered a joke.

After I'd deemed myself having passed the magical 100 destructions barrier, I decided to take it into regular matches with friends as I was still unsure of my kill assist count. Having gotten used to aiming the damn thing, I figured I'd try it out in a more "real" environment. This took a lot of getting used to as the weapon plays very differently to how you figure it would do. It's somewhat fitting that it's a hybrid between being effective against everything (Gallente use "Hybrid" weapons in EVE Online). It's an anti-vehicle weapon, but isn't as good an anti-vehicle weapon as a swarm launcher. It's a 1-hit kill weapon, but isn't as good as the shotgun or sniper rifle. It's an area denial weapon, but isn't as good as the mass driver or flaylock pistol. It's a mid-range weapon, but also works up close or far away.

Once I realized this, I experimented more with different ranges and outfits. What I discovered is that the weapon itself wasn't bad, it just had a different role to anything else in Dust. The cannon fits the role of a mid-range support weapon, designed to be used from the back of a group of players. With it's arc, you can fire it over your team-mates and score kills from range. If a vehicle shows up, you're also able to do decent damage without needing to switch to an AV fit. With enough practice, you can land shots up close or far away, it just takes time. I see those "amazing long range Plasma Cannon kill" videos and remember how I hit a multitude of similar shots earlier that day. The curve is no more different than the difference between gonewild and gonewildcurvy once you're experienced with it.

Hell, even it's weaknesses are great once you see how people try to exploit them. The natural reaction from someone who survives your shot is to instantly charge into you and try to rush you down before you can reload. Seeing this, I've started putting skill points into the new commando suits. I'd tried to use shotguns a few weeks back and am now reaping the rewards. A simple switch to the shotgun after ducking behind cover and boom, dead enemy. The commando suit has several nice benefits with using the plasma cannon alongside this too. The decrease in time reloading has a big impact on your ability to project damage. You also have enough base health to survive small bursts of damage, while the loss in speed has little impact due to fighting from the back.

The cannon has it's share of annoying problems though. There's an annoying reload bug that can get you killed more often than not. The projectile is slow enough to people to dodge direct hits a lot of the time. Scoring direct hits can suffer a lot from the game's hit detection sometimes letting your shot pass through an enemy without harming them. There's also an annoying grace period after firing that delays switching weapons. With a bit more speed (20% faster or so) and a bit less post-firing delay, the weapon would be in a really great place.

It's a good weapon overall in the end. Huge skill ceiling, has a useful role to play and can stand it's ground against a variety of enemies. It's not a weapon for everyone and it's not meant to be, but I like many other cannoneers seem to have fallen under it's strange charm. It also kills anything below a heavy with a single shot (including proto gear) which is just wonderful.

I give it a B- out of 10. Needs some tweeks, but an otherwise good weapon.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Quick Update About Content In August

Been a bit quiet recently around these parts, figured I'd give some details into the near future.

Boots On The Ground

The next BOTG with be recorded on the weekend of the 10th August and will be the only episode until September. This is mostly an issue of free time, as it takes a large amount of time to actually organize the show. Once I've moved in September, I'll be able to dedicate myself more to the show. Doing even 1 show in August is a big deal on my schedule, but I don't want to leave people hanging for too long.

Other Video Content

There's another video on my channel right now that is currently unlisted until I get the go ahead from CCP that they've fixed the exploit it covers. It has the potential to break the game more so than anything else I've seen this year, so I'm not even going into details on that.

Other videos I'll upload in August include the tournament matches I'll be playing in for GIANT. Outside of those however, I won't really be doing much as far as my main channel is concerned.

There were some hiccups with another video project I've been working on, so that will be taking a lot of what little time I have outside packing and Dust.

Blogs

When the exploit video goes up, I'll be doing my review of the Mordu event as well. There's a 1.3 review that will happen at some point and I might do something along the lines of thoughts on the Plasma Cannon.

I'll also be doing a blog on the format I want to use for Dust competition in the future when Gladiator features come in. It's something I'll be focusing on a lot in the future (2014), so I'll be looking into feedback on that.

I'll also do some feedback on the Prime Cup or whatever it's called.

September Live Streams

Once I've moved, I'll be able to stream Dust. Given that, I'm planning on a few weekly shows that will be recorded live.

The first will be a show featuring a guest CPM member to hang out and answer questions. We'll be playing some casual games while we do this (maybe Flash Duel) to fill time between questions. Currently Kane has confirmed that he would like to do this, so it will definitely be happening. Not sure if other CPM members would be interested.

The second will be a weekly show going into specific parts of Dust for around 30 minutes before doing another 30 of Q&A. Topics might include specific weapons, dropsuit layouts, reviewing old matches, talking to veteran players and more. This is aimed at giving players some direction

I'll be doing some general streaming outside of those too, but my main focus for Dust content at first will be putting out those 2 pieces of content and Boots On The Ground while working on a single side project.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

What I Want To Spectate And Broadcast Dust Matches

I was originally planning on writing about the Mordu event today. But I found a massive exploit during the event that could completely break Dust and am in the process of gathering more information on it so I can get in touch with CCP.

I missed the CPM AMA while playing around with it today (as well as real life stuff), so I don't know much about what was discussed there. DS10 wrote out the first hour or so, so going off the "we take feedback given through the CPM", I'm making some requests for when they build this feature.

This is what I want as far as broadcasting tools for Dust's "Gladiator" matches.

  • 1 team to appear red and 1 appear blue with a corresponding name plate at the top.
  • Default camera pitch at 55 degrees.
  • Default camera distance at 30 meters off the ground.
  • Left control stick to move the camera on the X and Y axis.
  • Right control stick to change the camera's pitch.
  • R2 and L2 to change the camera's yaw.
  • Square to toggle player stats such as K/D/A/hacks/defends.
  • Circle to change camera back to default.
  • Triangle to toggle armour/shield/stamina bars above players and ammo for current weapon to the right of players, for example player has 64/80.
  • Holding X and pressing a d-pad button to save a camera location.
  • Pressing a d-pad button to skip to a saved camera location.
  • R1 and L1 to skip between (living) player points of view. Other possible ways to do this with these buttons.
  • Edit: Forgot to add a way to shift the Z axis. Maybe use R1 and L1 while holding x for this?

This is just some ideas, but I hope they find them useful. Broadcasting has become a key part to any competitive title and as someone who's interested in being involved with this in the future, I really want CCP to get this right.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Life Is Hard, Get Used To It

Life's a bitch.
Probably the most important thing a teacher ever told me while I was at school and something I've only come to realize the weight of recently. This cliché applies to almost anything, but in this case, I'll apply it to Dust 514 in particular. There's a few points I'll go into.

First of all, Dust will evolve over time in the same way that most multiplayer games that involve strategy at some level do. If you move into the most powerful playstyle there is in a game, the meta will shift one way or another. If something is too dominant and the game has active developer support, it will get patched to allow for competing strategies. It's almost a bad idea to invest so heavily into something too dominant because in all likelihood it will get nerfed before you can reap the rewards from the time invested into it.

To use a Dust example, the Caldari Logistics suit was straight up better at being an Assault suit that the Caldari Assault suit. Large amounts of people went straight into it with no real intention of playing a "logi" role. Considering that part of the fitting system in Dust is to allow this style of gameplay to a degree, that in itself isn't the issue. The fact that Logistics suit outperforms a dropsuit at it's named role is an issue however.

So they're nerfing the logistics suits and people are crying "woe is me". To be honest, I haven't played around much with Caldari suits beyond my recruiter militia assault, so all I can do is make a loose prediction. The new Caldari logi looks like it will do fine in a hybrid support/combat role. It will still have a large amount of high slots and the new bonuses still allow for an improved tanking capability, but it will be weaker than an assault counterpart for actual combat.

People are suggesting that we should start seeing respecs until CCP finishes balancing the game. But this won't work out in the long term and balance changes will almost always exist. That's not to say that having some form of respec system that allows players to make tweeks to their skills would be bad though. Merely that offering constant respecs until the game is "balanced" or "complete" makes the consequence of choosing your skills meaningless.

With that in mind, I'd like to go into my second point: what does Dust 514 teach it's players? Back in 2006, I read this article about what World of Warcraft was teaching it's players through it's game design. It could be said that Dust shares some of the flaws that article points out, but for now I'll look at some good things Dust teaches it's players.

The skill system teaches the importance of forward thinking. If you do some brief research before investing heavily into something, you are rewarded for doing so. It also teaches the consequences of making choices. If you choose to specialize heavily into something and that becomes weaker through some means, you have to deal with being weak until you . Someone who is more general with their skill tree has to face being weaker against a specialized player.

It isn't just the skill tree either. The social aspect of this game has a similar vibe. Do well in a public match? Maybe someone will want to invite you to their corp. Leave a corporation under poor circumstances? Get blacklisted by their alliance. Send someone an angry mail after a match?

Get put on some guy's blog!

I'd agree with CCP lessening this to a degree though (it is a game). EVE has the ability to remap your learning capabilities, so Dust players getting the ability to refund a skill every x months would help prevent people getting completely screwed. So long as choices continue to matter, then I'm fine with what CCP decide to do.

Last of all, don't throw money at a company based on what they say they "could do" unless you're willing to live with not getting any return on that investment. If Kickstarter has shown us anything over the past year, it's that companies will talk big, with few actually delivering on their set goals.

Money should be used to purchase goods and services, not hopes. People who spent money on Dust to "support CCP" and were then angry with what they got out of it are simply self entitled. You were given tangible benefits from you purchases. If they don't meet with your expectations, then you should simply not purchase said benefits again and move on with your life one way or another. If you can get a refund, then all the power to you.

You can sit around complaining and feeling sorry for yourself about this all you want, but you're only going to make yourself miserable and piss off those around you. If you want to do this, you're free to. Just don't expect people to think highly of you in return however. I'd advise that you instead take what you've learned from this experience and use it to your advantage in the future.

CCP aren't innocent in all this and have made numerous mistakes along the way. Incorrect skill descriptions, obvious balance issues, poorly handling the game's release (merc packs), a lack of communication with the playerbase (exceptions include True Grit) and a rushed feel to features.

But they've been slowly moving in the right direction more recently however. Only time will tell how this turns out, so I guess you could go outside and enjoy the sun in the meantime. There isn't much point doing something if it's just making you miserable, because life's a bitch and you should really just make the most of it.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Thoughts On 1.2 So Far

Been really busy over the past couple weeks so haven't had much of a chance to do anything except work. With the triple skill point week though, I've made an effort to try out the 1.2 patch with the time I do have to spare. There will possibly be another one after this going into more details, but here's some initial thoughts.

Framerate and Performance (tangent ahead)

Dust now runs at a solid 30 frames a second on the console side it seems. This is a huge improvement over previous implementations and the audio issue causing the problem has been fixed according to the CPM members I've talked to.

The downside to all this is the poor server side framerate/connectivity has been unmasked by this client side improvement. Before it wasn't as obvious because sometimes you weren't entirely sure if it was just your console lagging or the server, but now it's obvious that there is some game impacting problems. The thing is though, I don't think this is an issue that can actually be "solved". Dust matches are hosted on CCP servers and those have to be located somewhere on the planet. As long as people are playing together from different parts of the world, you'll have latency issues.

What this means in practice, is moving targets won't be exactly where the game tells you they are at times. With an issue like this, certain weapons and dropsuits benefit more than others. In Dust's case, area of effect weapons (mass drivers, flaylocks) remain at almost 100% power because they don't rely on direct hits. I'm hearing a lot of people having huge success with flaylocks right now (despite being nerfed in 1.2) and this is part of why. Automatic weapons such as the assault rifle and the submachine gun are still OK in this environment because they rely less on being 100% accurate and their natural spread of fire will allow shots to still hit their targets. The guns that really get hurt by this though are single fire weapons such as shotguns and pistols. Those rely on the enemy being exactly in the right place when you click to fire. I don't think I've died to a shotgun while I've been moving correctly to counter it since the update.


Anyway, that's enough of a tangent for one blog. Hopefully CCP can improve on this, but until the internet is powered by Quantum Entanglement Communicators, we'll just have to live with it.

Weapon Ranges and Falloff

This is one of the best changes to the game so far. Bullets now travel much further than they did pre-1.2 with a reduction in damage over distance. This changes the way many weapons operate as they are no longer limited to short range. The most notable cases seem to be the pistol and the submachine gun, which can actually be used effectively at range now.

The short end of the stick goes to the shotgun though. It only seems to be effective at short range against targets that aren't moving or are moving in a straight line. I used one for a few matches in 1.2, but it just doesn't have any range compared to the other options you get. Maybe scouts will still use this, but I can't see much of a reason to personally use one right now.

LAVs

I wrote a blog a while back about this subject and I'm glad CCP didn't make any changes to LAVs yet. It's obvious at this point that something needs to be done, as their countermeasures seem to be struggling against the more expensive fits. Enough time has passed since their buff though, that CCP can gauge their relative power to everything else in the game and can start making adjustments based on that information.

Personally I'd like to see impact damage from running people over, more velocity required to kill people and Logistic LAVs made slower to differentiate them from their Scout counterparts.

The Rest

Nanite injectors work most of the time now and people are shifting back into using them again. Being able to move straight away after being injected is really nice too.

Strafe sprinting is way too fast, not exactly sure what happened there to result in such a change. It makes me wonder if we'll see someone called CCP Krieger pop up on the forums soon.

New female avatar walk animation is better than the old one.

The radar changing depending on your speed is really annoying. I didn't get a chance to see if I could turn that off yet. If not, then I'd really like to be able to.

TLDR

Uprising 1.2 is a good step forward and I'm enjoying the game a lot more now because of it. It's far from perfect, but the core gameplay is in a better place and the new direction from CCP Shanghai leaves me with high hopes for the future.

In the mean time, here's some fun I had with a drop uplink spawn.

Friday, 28 June 2013

No Boots On The Ground Until August

The tldr of this is I'm burnt out from Dust and I have pressing real life commitments. If you want more details, I've written some below.

Burnt Out From Dust

Playing a single game almost exclusively for about 6 months will burn anyone out. My expectations of how well the game would do were dampened by multiple issues with bugs, hardware limitations, mislabelled abilities, poor communication from devs (except logicloop, foxfour, nullarbor and that guy who helped fix mouse aiming), etc

I've actually started playing EVE again and the difference is startling. Crisp gameplay with relatively few bugs, game developers who come to the community for feedback weeks/months ahead of a release, being able to play with whoever I want, a community that doesn't yell racist bullshit over public comms, feeling like I'm making an impact on New Eden while still just being pick up and play.

I'm hoping 1.2 sees the game moving in that direction. The latest dev blog is already a good sign of things to come and by the time I'm back, hopefully we'll have some details on 1.3 to further that.

Real Life and Other Commitments

I've probably mentioned this more than enough times already, but I'm moving house in a couple months. This isn't just a simple pack up and move though, I have to get rid of about half of everything I own. This consists of going through old boxes of stuff I'd forgotten about and deciding what to do with them. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes you find an old letter from a deceased family member. Either way, it's time consuming and takes a lot of mental fortitude to get through.

Outside of this, I've also been working on another project with a friend called "The 3 Minute Update". After a ton of work, we finished up our first video and published it yesterday.


Why am I not dropping this over BOTG? Well for a start, this takes a lot less work to get set up and is relatively easy as far as the type of work goes. Uploading a video for it doesn't take up most of a day and it's fairly stress free as I'm only in charge of the video editing rather than hosting as well.

We've also publicly stated that there will be a new video every Thursday and since we're working with people who are much higher profile than us, it would be really bad if we couldn't manage that. There's some other stuff as well, like how videos aren't as time sensitive so I could queue several up to release automatically and how the money used from this will allow me to continue making more BOTG. Simply put, it isn't a project I can simply walk away from, nor do I want to.

Looking Forward

The only other thing I won't be doing is making the AT11 advert for EoN. It was silly and I might save it for some other propaganda in the future. In all likelihood, it would have been rejected by CCP anyway.

Other than that, I'll still be writing on here and putting up some videos on the channel. Just not as much as I am right now. Writing can be done in bursts, so I'll probably focus more on written content for now.

After I've moved, I'll have much faster internet. This means videos will go up in minutes instead of hours and I'll be able to live stream on Twitch. I'll likely be doing a lot of live streaming once I'm able, although probably not for content like BOTG. It's something I've done a fair amount of before and enjoy the hell out of too.

Anyway, it's only a month or so from now and I'll work on making the beginning of BOTG something memorable. How does a CCP member as a guest sound?