Latest gaming videos: Poker Night 2

I’ve kind of given up on Battlefield 4 videos although last night I had my first EPIC experience in the game but it’s always a coin toss as to whether I’ll be able to monetize my work or worse have it pulled down by the cold steely gaze of the Content ID system.

Actually one of these got tripped up by Content ID but I was able to remove the “infringing” content.

You have to wonder if EA, Activision or Valve would sell so many games if fans didn’t make cool game videos.  

Anyway,  these 2 videos are of my latest adventure with Poker Night 2.  Admittedly not quite the action romp of a Battlefield game but amusing none the less.  Have a look!


Trolls, trolls, everywhere…even in BF4!

Trolls, trolls, trolls everywhere.

Just finished a Friday night gaming session in Battlefield 4 with half of my time on the ground a la’ FPS and the other half as commander.
The last game I played was as a commander and for what it’s worth, it’s the role I play the most in Battlefield 4 because the game is still horribly broken as an FPS.  

But I still like to mix it up.

So this last game I joined already had the enemy team up by 200 tickets in just under 5 minutes on an 800 ticket map.  Now the formula in BF4 goes something like this…

Point spread between teams after 10 minutes > 300 tickets = lose.

It’s a classic numbers game.  Either the other team is a bunch of hardcore players with sh!t buckets (as in Southpark’s WoW episode) or someone’s got a cheat that they’re getting full value out of.

The other option is that everyone sucks but let’s face it, nobody sucks that bad…

Either way a decent commander can help but he’s only as good as the team he’s commanding.

So it is with Battlefield 4.  In the last game I came in about 10 minutes after it started and the other commander instantly threw a proxy attack at me.  That disables me from doing anything for my teammates for 15 seconds but it’s more annoying than anything else.  

A good commander uses proxy attacks sparingly. For one thing, they take forever to recharge and telegraph your intentions to the enemy commander.  

It has zero effect on ground troops aside from disabling any scanning, missile attacks or gunship attacks that may be in progress.  Which can be very effective if an enemy commander knows how to time them.  

So I called this guy out and of course he responded with all the intelligence a preteen could muster and then left in a huff.  That resulted in the other team not having the benefit of a commander which actually helped even up the odds a bit.  

Still, it wasn’t my intention that he leave but I guess I hurt his feelings.  

Hey buddy, get over it…

No matter, I’ll take the edge wherever I can get it…

Battlefield 4 is one of those testosterone charged pastimes like football or soccer where reason is short and emotion is very, very long.

His leaving was actually a good thing.  It let me help my team without his shenanigans to distract me.  

Long story short, by the end of the game the tickets were literally down to 1 to 1.  We lost but we made it a game and I let my team know that.

Perhaps that’s the point. So long as we did all we could and I supported my team as best I could it’s still a win.

Closing that point gap is a pretty rare occurrence in BF4 and I’d like to think I helped with that.

I communicated to my team and dropped supplies where I thought they needed them, scanned for enemy resources and basically did whatever I could to support them.

But all was not camaraderie and Kumbaya during the game, there was dissent in the ranks….

One player wanted to kick the commander, that being me by the way.  Apparently he wasn’t happy with my efforts.

So in response I wrote in the chat window…

“Hey, if you guys don’t want me just type a 1 in the chat window and I’ll leave”

Guess what….

Nobody typed a “1”

In fact the other players defended my efforts and in the end everyone seemed happy with the outcome.  

So perhaps that’s a lesson about trolls.  If you want to shut them up, just give them the opportunity to look like asses.

If I had seen a bunch of “1’s” I would have left.  That’s the thing.  Don’t stay where you aren’t wanted and you’re life will be much easier.
Think about it…


Fractured FRAPS: Fixing the flickering and disappearing window issue.

I’ve been having some issues with FRAPS lately and I appear to have narrowed down the cause to the program’s inability to deal with multiple monitors on the Windows 7 Aero Desktop.

This isn’t the standard DWM option not showing up.  It’s an issue that shows up when you review the captured video.  If you maximize a screen then minimize that same screen you’ll see a flicker or the window entirely disappear.

The fix is simple but it’s annoying that there’s no option in FRAPS to deal with multiple monitors.

I’ve done a video below showing the problem and my workaround.


A renaissance for players

If you’re like me you’ve gotten used to the tiny update progress bar at the bottom of your Steam client every time you open it. Mine seems to be busy almost every time I log in to the service. As such, I’ve just come to accept that Team Fortress 2 will be keeping the download manager busy at least once a week. I may only play the game a few times a year but I like to keep it handy when I get the itch which makes the minor inconvenience worth it.

And so it was last night.

What was strange was the other game getting updated. That being, Unreal Tournament 3 (UT3.) It was odd to see a 7 year old game (arguably the least popular in the “Unreal” series) getting an update. Not that old games don’t get updates but they’re usually titles embraced by a vibrant modding community and abandoned by developers that have since moved on to greener pastures. UT3 doesn’t enjoy that kind of devotion, however, at least not on Steam.

It all became clear with a click on the game’s “news” link from developer Epic Games.
“This “patch” is actually a replacement executable that will direct you to the new Unreal Tournament 3 master server which we have moved to the Epic Games server bank along with the Unreal Tournament 99 and Unreal Tournament 2004 servers.”
Since the announcement of Gamespy’s demise a few months ago the fate of older games that relied on the service for online multiplayer has been hanging in the balance. Many titles like Unreal Tournament 3, Crysis, Battlefield 1942 and Medal of Honor:Allied Assault are either approaching or are already a decade old. More importantly, most were never designed to become another cog in the endless DLC money mill that plagues newer games. That means developers and publishers don’t have much of an incentive to support a devoted but unprofitable fan base.

That doesn’t appear to be stopping them, however. 2K, Capcom, EA and many other developers have announced efforts to save the multiplayer component of some of their popular older titles.

Which is an interesting change of posture from the days of EA pulling the plug on titles like Need For Speed: Carbon after only a handful of years had passed. You may not even notice if you never played online but considering that LAN play options have all but disappeared it can become a problem if you just want to play with a few friends in the same room. So it seems strange that we now find the company making herculean efforts to get Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142 and Bad Company 2 back online.

Even Sony seems to have seen the light. Infamous for their NO REFUNDS! policy; in the case of customers who dropped $60 on a pre-order of The Last of US: Remastered (due out on PS4 at the end of July) that policy no longer applies. When Sony announced a price drop to $50 last weekend (which in my opinion is what it should have been at the beginning) it also announced that pre-order customers would get a $10 refund.

Which brings me to this whole renaissance thing…

Is it possible that game publishers have discovered the value of seeing further than the next quarterly earnings report? Perhaps so. In spite of how they’ve tried to spin it, the simple fact of the matter is that game pre-order numbers are down. Admittedly, the annoying trend of overcharging for games may have something to do with it.

It’s far more likely, however, that after half a decade of repeatedly overpromising and under delivering, customer fatigue may be the real cause.

Gamers have been burned too many times by flawed releases, inadequate online resources and poor support after the initial launch of a game. The video game industry has been around for almost four decades but it seems it still can’t get a launch day right. Buying a pre-order may as well be buying into a BETA test. That’s like paying to be punched in the face…

So what’s led to this Renaissance of the Player?

For years game publishers have literally treated their customers like dogs; throwing them a bone with the promise of something new “just over the horizon” to distract you from the screw-ups of today. And gamers keep falling for it…

Or do they?

Nothing is free in this world and it’s likely all this effort to support old games has more to do with wooing a diminishing customer base than any act of magnanimity.

No, it’s far more likely that a long term business plan focused on a community instead of a single blockbuster release may be taking root. Even the most cyclical of businesses, the automakers, have learned the value of supporting what’s come before. Dealerships still make more money off their service departments than their sales departments. Treat the customer right in the service bay and chances are they’ll visit your showroom when the time comes.

Which is not the history of the “get rich quick” gaming industry. Years of abusing a customer base will eventually have consequences regardless of how well oiled your hype machine may be. A quick look at the relatively flat sales numbers of the XBOX 1, Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty:Ghosts bear that out. Yes, they sold well but not as well as their makers would have hoped.

Nobody pays upwards of $50 for a game just to dispose of it like an empty burger wrapper in a few days. Gamers are buying into an experience not just a pastime. If you’re not providing what they expect they’ll vote with their wallets and it seems more and more that’s exactly what’s happening.

So if we can safely assume that the industry is finally getting a clue then this is indeed a renaissance and the gaming industry is placing the player on a pedestal. Right where they should be and I say it’s about time.

Just don’t take the player for granted once your fortunes start rebounding, game industry. You can’t survive off of .99 mobile games for long and all those annoying little indie developers will be more than happy to eat your lunch.

That’s not a threat, it’s basic business.


Playing Battlefield Hardline

After 3 years somebody finally thought I did something special enough in my gaming articles to merit letting me in on a closed Beta.
Well, at least that’s what I tell myself.  I’m sure if any of your gaming hours are spent in EA’s Origin client you saw the plea to join the closed Beta for Battlefield: Hardline.  No matter, it’s a closed Beta which means everything I do is being closely watched by someone.  Which is great since my play style is a little different from most online gamers.
Maybe some of that weirdness will end up making a better game.  I wouldn’t lay any money on it though.
So what about it?
What’s Battlefield:Hardline like?
In a word, It’s a lot like Battlefield 4 but the maps actually resemble the urban maps in Battlefield 3.  It’s pretty much a run and gun affair with vehicles thrown in for good measure.
After logging into Origin you’re taken to a Battlelog webpage very similar to Battlefield 4 where you can check your stats, outfit your character and chose your server.  The game starts with a spawn map very similar to Battlefield 4 with a minimalist overview of the action on the ground.  You’re either on the side of the cops or the crooks and you’ve got a limited amount of time to steal the loot or keep it from being stolen.
Just like Battlefield,  you’ve got 4 classes to choose from including:
The Operator, which is a medic.
The Mechanic, which is an engineer.
The Enforcer, which is an assault class.
The Professional, which is a sniper.
Each class has special perks, weapons and loadouts with upgrades available as you earn cash awards  from your adventures.  This is virtual cash by the way, not the pay to play variety.  After you’ve chosen a class it’s time to decide whether you’re on foot or in a vehicle.  Although that’s not a hard and fast rule.  I’ve even seen crooks steal cop cars.  If you like running around then by all means do but I always find it more fun to sample the vehicles and see what kind of carnage I can whip up.
Your chosen ride can be anything from hulking Police command vehicles to muscle cars and helicopters.  Both Cops and Crooks have access to an assault vehicle although the Crooks seem to have improvised a bit.
The cops have an all out assault vehicle similar to the assault transports in Battlefield 3 and 4 while the crooks get something that looks like a VW Jetta with a 50 Cal  assault turret bolted on top.  Who says Visceral  doesn’t have a sense of humor?
Once you spawn it’s off to the races.  The premise is simple.  You’re either going after the loot or protecting it.
They call the first game mode “Heist” and it’s similar to the “Rush” game modes in Battlefield games.  The only exception is that instead of arming bombs and protecting them till they blow up you’re going to be trying to blow up bank vaults (or protecting them) around the city and get the goods back to your getaway helicopter.
The other game mode is called “Blood Money” which is more like Team Fortress 2’s Capture the Flag.  Players either try to rob a bank and get the loot home or try to prevent that from happening (if you’re the cops.)
The games move very fast and I actually played 3 games in 30 minutes with a full 32 player server.  For a beta the lag wasn’t bad at all and even my crusty old GTX 260 216 card (DX10.1) handled Battlefield:Hardline with ease.
If you’ve played a Battlefield game in the past 5 years then this game is very familiar to you.  That includes the flawed Kill Cam, texture tears and glitches.  Still, it’s more fun than Battlefield 4 and seems to have at least the same level of polish.  Which doesn’t say much for Battlefield 4 does it!
The closed Beta is apparently over now and I think I know why.  I never found a lack of servers but I did find a serious lack of players.
EA’s extended the Beta period and opened it up to all players which has resulted in an increased population although there are still plenty of empty servers.  At least with all the additional player activity they’ll get more data than the pitiful 4/32 that was common before they opened it up.

The video below represents the average player experience in the game.  There’s some epic moments but for the most part it’s textbook Battlefield.


Peggle Deluxe free on Origin

Originally published on Kupeesh!EA’s got another freebie for you but unlike last month’s brief offering of Battlefield 3, it isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a triple-A title.
The game is called Peggle Deluxe  and like Plant’s Vs. Zombies, it’s another PopCap offering.    After more violent titles like Dead Space, this decidedly non-violent entry may be a nod to the more casual and less bloodthirsty gamer.
In Peggle Deluxe the premise is simple.  Your job is to shoot balls at pegs in hopes of removing as many orange colored examples as you can in one shot.  Clear them all and you advance to the next level.  Along the way you will be aided by Peggle “masters” who will deposit specially colored pegs that impart additional abilities like activating a second ball or allowing more control of your ball’s trajectory.
The gameplay is loosely based on Pachinko with elements of pinball and Bejweled thrown in for good measure.
Along with the requisite single player there is also a multiplayer mode called “Duel” that allows players to take turns to beat the other’s score on the same level.
There’s also an “Instant Replay” function that activates when a particularly spectacular event happens such as a difficult scoring combination or clearing of the level.
It’s a PopCap game so don’t expect a lot of depth.  It’s a guilty pleasure and a guaranteed time sink that just about anyone can play.
If there’s anything wrong with the game it’s the overly cutesy Rainbow Brite theme of the game.  There were just a few too many unicorns and rainbows for my taste.

Peggle Deluxe is available for PC and Mac via EA’s Origin service and free of charge until August 5th.


Battlefield: Hardline

Originally published on Kupeesh!

The thought had to have crossed your mind at least once…
Play Battlefield 4 long enough and at some point your mind is going to wander as you wait atop your sniper’s perch in Siege of Shanghai.  Assuming you don’t get knifed, you may look down at the streets below and think to yourself…
“This would be more fun with cop cars.  Yeah, cop cars and SWAT teams and bank robberies and cranes crashing down on innocent bystanders.  It would be just like a Die Hard movie!”
Well, if you can get past the obvious milking of a franchise, EA may just have a way for you to live out your fantasies.
The game is called Battlefield: Hardline and this time around the conflict is a little more local.  You’re either a cop or a criminal and from
there on it’s pretty much textbook Battlefield.
At E3 Monday, EA showed a teaser video that featured an armored car heist with all the goodies including:  assault weapons, helicopters, car (and motorcycle) chases,
ziplines and of course those levolution driven destructible environments.
The game is currently recruiting for a closed beta on the Origin game client.  However, If you want to take a leap of faith (always a bad idea) the pricing for the Digital Deluxe edition (5 battlepacks included) is available on pre-order for $69.99.  A standard edition (2 battlepacks) will also be available but no price has been set as of yet.
Whether the game is just another Battlefield game with cops and robbers or a classed up Grand Theft Auto, the price is a bit steep.  Hopefully the developers have learned from the woes of its cousin Battlefield 4. The developer, Visceral, supposedly began development on Battlefield:Hardline in early 2012.
No specific system requirements for PC have been released as of this writing but you can expect similar requirements to Battlefield 4.
Battlefield: Hardline is due for release on October 21st on all supported platforms including PS4, PS3, Xbox 1, Xbox 360 and PC.

July 2014
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