Computer Games and Traditional CS Courses | December 2009 | Communications of the ACM

•December 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Interesting that this is now coming into full acceptance in CS teaching…

Computer Games and Traditional CS Courses | December 2009 | Communications of the ACM

I hope EA Saves Warhammer!

•November 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/712515/000119312509229376/dex991.htm

Key Excerpts from the November 9th Press Release on Edgar associated with Electronic Arts’ $391 million quarterly loss:

Cost Reduction Plan

EA has announced a plan to narrow its product portfolio to provide greater focus on titles with higher margin opportunities.

This action will result in the closure of several facilities and a headcount reduction of approximately 1,500 positions, of which 1,300 are included in a restructuring plan. The majority of these actions will be completed by March 31, 2010. This plan will result in annual cost savings of at least $100 million and restructuring charges of $130 to $150 million.

EA remains committed to delivering high quality games for consumers and leading the industry in the growing digital direct gaming sector.”

So far, the blog bunch has reported that 40% of Mythic has been hit, but I can’t confirm that.  That would put Warhammer in a non-competitive state.  There is no word of this on the Herald as of this post.

SWG PRE-CU Continues – For Free

•November 1, 2009 • 2 Comments

In December of 2003, I went to CompUSA in Dallas, TX. to do my weekly browsing of games and nerdly goodies.    I discovered a black box with a Star Wars logo emblazoned in gold.  I took the bait, and went addict that Christmas season.  I stopped playing the game in 2005, and it was a sad day.  Two years of fun and relationships in my favorite childhood narrative space evaporated.  I left Yazoo City, Rori, a bastion of Imperial Glory, abandoned to the Rebels.  SOE fundamentally changed the term of the bond, and this change left the players with something altogether different than when we started.  When I cancelled my account, it felt like an old friend passed away.  Luckily many lasting relationships and experiences in that game world moved beyond the SWG gamespace. 

Since our virtual home was destroyed, several of my fellow SWG refugees and I flittered about MMORPG purgatory:  Dark Age of Camelot, WoW, Champions, and LOTRO to name a few.  We even built a Neverwinter Nights persistent world.  Although these are all amazing and enjoyable works, none ever quite captured the magic of the original SWG.  It might be a first love phenomena, but I think the pre combat upgrade system platform held all of the vital elements (complex game mechanics, an amazing narrative landscape, and social interactions driven by a strong player economy) that led to emergent narrative experiences brought to you by the players.  A group situated with a similar mindset embarked upon capturing what we all lost.  Let me provide this most excellent quote from the “About SWGEmu” page:

image“ The original idea for SWG was not to live the iconic movie life of Star Wars, more so, it was designed to allow the player to create a character in the Star Wars Universe, pick their own path and live their dreams. From the onset, SWG was a huge success with a large fan base. SWG was not designed to be based on iconic characters.” (http://www.swgemu.com)

There is a way to recapture this halcyon period in our MMORPG lives thanks to the Star Wars Galaxy emulator project.  Now, I must admit that I am very skeptical of its long term viability.  I have yet to speak to anyone on the project, and I certainly wish them well.  So far, they have demonstrated immense technical powers and extraordinary persistence.  I would even hope that SWG could be open sourced by SOE and Lucas one day.  In the mean time, the SWGEMU team brings you the next best thing.

The SWGEMU project saw the need to bring back the game the way it was before the April 2005 Combat Upgrade and November 2005 New Game Enhancements.  Although the project slowly started in December of 2004, by May of 2005 with the help of many other talented community members, the team cracked the encryption codes Sony used to defends its gaming protocols for interlopers.   The April 2005 changes probably helped spur the interest of developers who saw SOE changing the base nature of the game.  The team built a proxy that intercepted and made available for the team the protocol used to determine how the server and client interacted with one another.  This, in my distant opinion, would have been a magic moment in the life of this project.  After this analysis was complete, the team was able to build the server side of the equation.  And now we have the Nova Test server upon which to return to the pre-CU days!

Friday night, an old SWG veteran and I were chatting on Ventrilo, and he finally figured out how to put the ingredients together to get back online.  I want to share that formula with you:

A. You will need to setup an account on this location:

http://www.swgemu.com

B. You also need to get your hands on your old media.  I went to fileplanet and downloaded a 14 day free trial for SWG.  You must have SWG installed to make this work.  I can not guarantee that this link will be there over time, but it is there as I write this.  The file is 3.79 gb, so it will take you a while to download.  I am a fileplanet subscriber, so for comparative purposes, I can tell you it took me over 3 hours, and I have a really nice AT&T uverse connection.

http://www.fileplanet.com/169782/160000/fileinfo/Star-Wars-Galaxies-14-Day-Trial

C. Next, you can use this tool to replace the Sony Launcher:

http://launchpad.thewildclan.com/\

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I finished all of the installs.  Everything went off without a hitch, and created a medic named Fyrst Response.  I ultimately want to make him into a Master Doctor and be a part of the vibrant and social economy that I remember so fondly.  In the interest of full disclosure though, I am a Lord of the Rings Online man now, but I will be dabbling quite a bit with this emulator as long as the project is around. 

 

imageMy first impressions are positive, but they are limited.  The cantina video that I put together shows it to be a vibrant place.  However, there are still a lot of glitches that I witnessed in my short time with the system: mission terminals don’t work well, there are no speeders, and rubber banding is a constant for the AI.  My friend and I shuttled back to our home planet of Rori.  We wanted to make a run out to the Rorgungan colony and see if it was still a good low level grind spot.  We witnessed some strange AI behavior along the way.  The creatures rubber-banded  and displayed red tower artifacts when they chased us.  When we arrived at the POI location for the camp, there was nothing there.  You shouldn’t take this to be a criticism.  It is more descriptive.  We concluded that we will stay closer to the cities and play around in the more populated zones.  The Mos Eisley Cantina was fully populated with entertainers and those seeking some mental refreshment.  The scene reminded me of the days before the dark times, before the CU.   

Star Wars Galaxies is most likely on its last legs.  This is particularly true in light of the new Bioware Star Wars MMORPG property that is under development and getting amazing attention from game bloggers and fans alike.  THE SWG game design is without a doubt the best that I have ever experienced.  I hope there is a way that other firms can incorporate the many things that the SWG design team got right.

SOE recently consolidated servers (something game companies should consider more often), and my old home of Kettemoor was destroyed in that consolidation:

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On Staff of Lagwar

•October 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I recently took a staff position on this website:

lagwar-playswitch-thumb1

Look for my writing to continue in that forum until further notice.   I will post things here from time to time, but my efforts will be put to assisting the team @ LAGWAR.

I chose to pursue a position with them as a result of their excellent standard:

"PC Gaming’s Best in Top Notch Mediocrity"

Look for me under the pseudonym, xaviermorgan.

Bugged Mission

•October 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

When the MMORPG you play presents you with a bugged mission, what do you do?  You file a complaint in the help system.  Here is a screen shot of a 13,800 XP point mission that is bugged.  Basically it will not complete.  Also, it has my nemesis standing next to me relaxing.  I have the ticket open with the following text:

“At this time, we can force complete the mission for you… buy you might not get perks / rewards associated with defeating your nemesis.”

Now, I bought a lifetime subscription.  I don’t think this is the right way to respond to this sort of thing.  What does giving me the XP and completing the mission cost this firm?

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Thus, I decided to do my own music video appeal to Cryptic Entertainment:

How to Download LOTRO Digitally

•September 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So you already have an account?  So you don’t know how to get your game on your new PC.  So you have XXXXXXXXX reason to download the game digitally.  I searched the forums looking for the answer to these problems.  I saw a different answer in a lotro.com forum post in 2006 and 2007 respectively.  I finally went to the support page and got the answer:

 Click here —->  Installation FAQ (valid as of 22sep09)

This download includes all Shadows of Angmar and Mines of Moria content. This free download of The Lord of the Rings Online is for any users who want to obtain the LOTRO client.”

It will download a launcher client and then begin your download — either a high resolution or standard resolution edition.

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Level 25 … the Nemesis Creation

•September 20, 2009 • 1 Comment

Dominion just hit level 25 in Champions, so I get to create my nemesis.  You go the Millennium City PD and update the crime computer:

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You go to UNTIL computer and talk to the MCPD Database.

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A character creation sequence pops up.

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Start with the normal character creation process, but this one gives birth to your arch-rival. I chose Darkness for my nemesis.  I now must choose his minions:

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I chose Demons to complement the Darkness power set.  You then have to give a power set to the minions of your nemesis:

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After that step is complete, it’s time to design the look of your in-game opponent.  I will spare the screenies, because this is just a normal character creation process with a couple of twists:

The first of which is choosing a nemesis personality type:  Mastermind, Maniac, or Savage.

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I chose maniac for my nemesis.  I think the background story will be that the forces of darkness corrupted his basic good nature.  Too much occult research.

I give you the Chairman!

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