Saturday, 29 May 2010

The road is long...

Well it's been a long and tiresome week, though it was pay day... and so in celebration, I'm now resubbed to eve with two of my accounts :)

Am busy getting the last couple of days of "Carriers V" done on one... and "Command Ships V" on the other... yes, I like level 5 skills, they give me a warm fuzzy glow inside.

Now, time for me to gather the children around me and put on a light show... pew pew pew.

Ah, look at the little Childer-ren run!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Yes, the new expansion from CCP for Eve-Online has just launched today! Get it while it's hot.
The patch is a generous 291 MB in size, on average here in the UK you should be getting about 700k/sec download (no matter what your bandwidth/speed is) with highs around 2mb/sec.


The patch process seems to be flawed, as it completes I receive the message:

I'm currently running the client repair tool to see what's wrong, and it just says that a file "math.dll" in the temp folder it's working with is a piece of Malware...

This is PrevX reporting it as Malware and the install stops...

Update Again

The repair tool has been busy... it reports that the install was missing a bunch of data nearly 52mb of it...?

As for the Malware report, I've cleaned the whole temp directory listed as bad from my machine, and a new bunch of temp directories were created. None of these have a Math.dll in them...?

So I can only think that was already on my machine? God I hate Windoze.

Midweek Misery....

Welcome to the middle of the week, what's going on? Nothing. What's going on gaming wise? Not a lot for me, what about you?

I have been playing a little bit on my Wii. I've enjoyed upping my score on all the Wii Play games... save for fishing, I hate the fishing one. I've also got Mario Galaxy ready for blast-off.

Other than that, things are quiet. I have a project on to fix one of my old P4 gaming rigs, this was a rig I built about 6 years ago now, to play Pacific Fighters on in perfect settings, it's one of the first edition Socket 775 Pentium 4 HT running at 3ghz, with 1.5GB of RAM and an "Extreme" edition 6600 graphics card.

Not very remarkable for todays specs, but back then it was THE dogs banglies. But I figure it's a good machine to run my second Eve account on. So I can run all three at the same time across the two desktop PC's and the laptop, without any of the dual install, cross threaded operation errors you get when running multiple copies on the one machine.

I've even resurrected some of my corp mates to try and rouse interest in going back into Eve... so this week is really going to have to be chalked down as a non-gaming, but political exercise in getting to game later.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Dragon Age : Take Two

So, I got a huge game boner for Dragon Age. It came to my attention through podcasts, CommonSenseGamer I think was the final straw, hearing Darren rave about it... I rushed out with my money and I bought it.

In some of my earlier posts I mentioned my not being very happy with this game, I really found it to be a crashy buggy mess. So, I've left it alone for a while, I've let it mature.

This evening I was happy to find an hour, grab the DVD off of the shelf and find the latest patch. It took a few moments to come down, but at just over 62 megs [I consider this large] it may have dome more than just balancing gameplay. Indeed, once I was in the game, things started to flow.Originally I rolled through the game as an Elf, I read their back story, I read how they were put down by being "enslaved" by the humans, and I figured... "I've always played Human First in MMO's and then tried the other races. I'll try something else first".

Now, I looked at the dwarves and thought they looked really daft, so I went with the elf. I went with the forest elf style story line, and I decided to play the character as a total psychopath.

So, here is my original character meeting some "humans" in the forest. And you know what. I killed these guys. Yeah, I nailed them to the floor by their testicles and I danced a happy jigg.

And you know what, the game stopped me playing like that. It mentioned it slightly, but it didn't go on about it.

Later on, I slit the throat of an injured guy, rather than helping him. And all that happened was one chap in my party didn't like it... the rest were just like "whoah dude, you killed that dude... so, shall we go for tea?"This bugged me, it made the game feel like it was making me pass down a decided path, and there wasn't actually the degrees of freedom I had envisaged.

This is a big problem I have, it's the main source of my not liking games after time, I expect things of them; I probably expect too much, or rather too subtle a plot progression; and I never expect the obvious crowd pleasing "blockbuster" movie style plot mechanics.

It's probably very unfair of me, but heck, this is my blog so I'm going to spout my own clap tap.

Anyway, tonight, I came to play again, and I decided I needed to completely restart the game, between it previously crashing constantly on me, and my dissatisfaction with the character progression, I figured, I'd start over and give it a completely fresh start.

So, I did, I created a new character, a Human this time, and I set to listening to all the little story lines. I was very happy that after brief introductions and a few quests that the game was not crashing on me. I was VERY happy with that. RESULT!

However, I soon ran into a part of the story line which I had met before, this is the meeting of "me" with another character, and a plot move. Basically, this is the "obi wan meets luke skywalker" moment in the plot. I've seen it as an Elf, and now as a human... and I was disappointed that no matter what options I used in the conversation with this guy, it just always came back to "come with me luke, come see my light saber". I refused this to the point that the plot moved onto "you've got no option".

Sure, the plot subsystem here gave me 3 or 4 conversation options, but they all resulted in characters going "go with obi wan".

I was properly pissed off with that.

Infact, I started to get so narked off with listening to this innane babble, that was forcing my hand, I started to do other things... for example, I'm convinved the guy in the right of this screen shot is Tim Curry...

BTW - Darren at CSG is a great source of the pulse as to what games to look at buying... I'm just trying to avoid listening to his psiren call because so far he's got me to buy DragonAge, and it's sat on my shelf gathering dust for a hunk of time. He talked me into playing STO, and I hated that... he's currently pointed me at DCS Blackshark and I'm seriously considering shelling out for it... heck he even have me off doing RMT in The Hunter! Darren - you're a liability to my wallet man!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Who owns your Wow DVD?

I'm going to talk about something that most of us might find a big vague, something a little bit strange and not obvious... Ownership of an MMO.

More specifically the ownership of the DVD/CD media it came on.
I've already talked about Developers bringing in the opinions of the players through some sort of democracy, the reason that post came up is really because of the draconian stance Blizzard Entertainment have always taken with World of Warcraft, they are very sensitive about ownership of WoW. And I'm not just talking about the intellectual property I'm talking about the physical disks.

Blizzard are currently taking a company known as MDY to court over a certain supposed problem with a software product MDY produced to allow automated play of Warcraft (yes they made a bot, a good one as it happens and Blizzard have taken them to court – right or wrong on either side I'm not going to be talking about that, but) one thing which has come up in the course of that court case is the ownership of the media the MMO was delivered on. What they are referring to is, the CD or DVD it came on.

I myself have a half dozen physical copies of WOW and the expansions handing about. All including Boxes, key codes and manuals... I even [somewhere] have a copy of the original WoW manual which explains how you can become a criminal!... [that feature never got into the game, but it did get into the manual and it does explains the gallows outside certain goblin towns].
Now, according to Blizzard we the paying public, whom have all these DVD's and boxes on our shelves, we don't own those boxes. We are only leasing them... This I believe is just a lawyer trick to make Blizzards case against MDY a little more solid.

However, to me it casts a couple of scary and interesting points. First of all, if I'm just leasing my DVD boxes... and I'm not currently subscribed to the game... am I defaulting on some lease agreement? If so, should I return my discs forthwith? Or am I not actually leasing them, and I do own them [and are MDY right in their assertions]?

It is a heck of a tricky question for anyone to answer, it's typical of where a slippery oily skinned lawyer has got their teeth into getting money out of Blizzard to fight this case for them. And they've not thought this through... I mean, for example, if I go and throw away my DVD's and boxes and all the bits of shit that came in the box with the game, actually are Blizzard responsible for taking these items back and recycling the material? There is precedence set for schemes like this with batteries, so instead of my putting plastics from those discs out the door, to leech their oestrogen-like gubbins into the soil, should Blizzard provide me with a return address where they will accept their property back?

I'd have to come down on the side of common sense and say, no, Blizzard are not responsible for what I do with these things, they don't want that kind of burden... yet they want to bully MDY?

What it boils down to from MDY's point of view is that someone went to the store, Itheyhanded over money for something and they walked away with it. No-one spoke to a Blizzard representative, I myself never signed nor acknowledged an EULA in doing that part of the transaction. I did it, myself, in conjunction with the game being on the shelf, it was there, I had money, so I bought it.

Indeed in the depths of the MDY archive of stuff about the case from Blizzard they [MDY] point out that “if a sale looks like a sale, if it smells like a sale, then it's a sale” not a lease. Yet Blizzard are continuing with this absurd opinion that we only lease our game disks, we do not own them. They're clinging to this mantra in the face of ever growing legal opposition [see Vernor v Autodesk, UMG v Augusto and other cases out there].

I believe Blizzard are arguing this line of thought because you no longer need a physical disk to deliver the game to your machine for playing, indeed even if you start off putting a DVD install in you end up downloading a vast amount of data from Blizzard in order to play. I can understand Blizzard saying that you are leasing the service on their server to download that additional information, and the information itself is their own, I can get my head around that...

Except, you don't need to subscribe to download that information, you can download the game before subscribing, you can even download it and get it all fully patched without creating a trial account.

So are setting a prescedence themselves of giving this information away, they give it you, and then punitively prohibit people from using the information given?
As you can tell by my rambling this is neither a neat, nor a tidy topic for anyone to litigate. I feel very sorry for whomever ends up on the judging panel or jury for this case.

I understand how Blizzard want to protect their game, they don't want massive farming operations using game gold to launder money from whatever nefarious criminal activities through out the world [that's a topic for another post right there] but I don't understand why they don't stomp on that at the gold transaction level, something they can track and monitor in their database.

For instance, the case against MDY has been pending for a very long time now [two years I think] in that time, I've been in World of Warcraft and seen all sorts of hacks being used to advertise gold selling sites... why are Blizzard not more proactive in dealing with that, which they can monitor and control, rather than this long expensive litigation, with dubious questions of ownership, with MDY?

If Blizzard had just stuck to the concise and direct point of “you the human must interact with our client software” then it'd be nice and neat, but arguing about our owning the DVD's we paid for... it's just a layer of obscurity which doesn't wash. Especially when while using MDY's software you still have to give Blizzard your subscription fee!

You can read all about the legal machinations going on between MDY and Blizzard at MDY's Site: in the forum under legal. Some of it makes for interesting reading.

Other coverage of this case:

Please note - I do not condone botting/hacking/cheating in a game, I simply don't like seeing people bullied.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Eve Troubles for me...

I'm just trying to sort out my eve accounts, I have three, I have one (my main) sorted, but the two anxiliary accounts are proving problematic.

The first one, I know the account name and e-mail address for and I know it's been in active since the 26th Jamuary 2009, however, whenever I try to gain access to the account, or even reset it's password, CCP stare at me blankly and inform me the account has been banned... this has my stomach in a right termoil... my bootiful command ship and wonderful character are on that account... I've never stepped a hair out of line on it either... I even role playing being nice on it! But BANNED?

And the other account, it is assigned to my old company e-mail address from 2005, but we were bought and moved into a new e-mail server in 2007... so I can't even send myself a reminder e-mail to recover that one... for some strange reason I forwarded the account registration from the old company account into the new one... what a clutz I am!

But I've forgotten my plethora of passwords, I was always quite festidious about changing my Eve passwords, but I've not touched these two secondary accounts in over a year... since January 2009... so my memory is a little vague...

I hope someone at CCP gets my grovelling petitions soon... My body is about to release the direst brand of arse gravey with the tension of not knowing if my beloved fleet is intact.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Pitbull Tribulations

No post about gaming today, I'm a little stunned, I've had a terrible day... it started bad and just got bizarre from there on out, at around 2pm I was sat in the living room with my lass & her folks and we suddenly heard the most almighty strange noises. Like live geese being put through a meat grinder... Everyone was stunned for a moment and I leap up and dashed out, making sure I closed my door and gate behind me. I didn't want my dog running out after me into whatever I ran into.

As I got to the gate I turned left to see this skinny wretch of a teenager being dragged around on the end of his dog lead, he's straining one way to scream for his Mum in this weird high pitched just broke voice. While a large white pitbull terrier is trying to taking him the other way. But, this is not the source of the weird noise.

So I'm looking around, and I see nothing, I'm half expecting a velociraptor to poke it's head out of a bush next to me. I say to this screaming lad "What is going on" he's clearly involved in it, and wants Mummy to come make it all better, his trouble is his Mum's out of ear shot and I'm stood there... But getting no response I turn my head in the direction of this noise and jog off.

As I get to the end of my drive and turn right, the sight that greets me beggars belief. There's another pitbull terrier with a large flesh part of the second nicest dog since lassie in it's jaws. There's a man trying to get this lovely ickle dog of his away from this beast and there's an old lady holding up two fingers which are merrily spraying blood all over the place.

Now, I need to jump in here and say, I'm a dog owner, have owned a dog and had them in the house all my life and I've always feared having a vicious dog like this thing I see before me attacking my dog. The thought of what I'd do haunts me regularly, whenever a dog comes over and snarles at my soppy soft labrador.

So I had to intervene here, this pitbull it trying to drag Lassie's long lost English cousin off into the bushes for a feast.

I run down to this scene and straddle this pitbull, I sit my whole weight on the thing. And it's bucking and going at it still, lifting me off the ground. Now this is not a massive dog tand I'm not a small man but I still felt like I needed a couple of rodeo clowns in there with me, the dog was so pumped up on adrenaline and in the midst of this blood lust it's either going to kill Lassie, or eat everything it can see until there's nothing left in the area. Including me and my testicles...

So I turn it's head to try to loosen the lock jaw it's set, this doesn't work, in fact the bastard thing snatches at my grip and sinks it's teeth into my left little finger, right down on the bone. I feel it's teeth graze along the joint of my finger, and I figure that it's going to bite my finger off. But quick as a flash the chap holding the other dog, seeing that I've got this monster under me, he puts a screw driver between it's jaws, just enough to stop it biting my finger off. But not enough to stop it eating his dog.

The old lady is still staggering about spraying blood from her fingers, and screaming for this thing to let go of her pet.

And I lost it, proper Dr David Banner Style.

And I decide there are three things left open. One - Try to distract this dog some more. Two - Throttle it to death with my own hands. Three - pick up that screw driver and plunge it into it's ear. I start out on option One.

I hold onto this things ear as hard as I can with blood pouring out of my left hand, and I punch this thing in the softest spot I can see, a point behind it's right ear. Nothing. Punch again. The dog does limp, the pet runs off. It's not distracted long and I've got this vibrating quivering muscle mass of monster dog between my thighs flat on the floor in the dirt...

What does everyone do?.... They all scatter... That's right, I'm there in the middle of this lane, holding this dog down and I've just taken all of it's attention! The chap with the other dog legs it inside with his wife spewing blood still. And suddenly I'm all alone, with this monster drooling over the smell of my testicles pressing on it's back... and then charging towards me is the owner of this monster dog, a women of her middle years, telling me to "Get off her, she's 10, she's got arthritis"... Get off this dog?.... I think fucking not. Then the owner sees the blood... I've never seen someone with red hair dye running down her face go so green so quickly.

Luckily this monster sees it's Mummy and goes limp as wet toast under me, but we still have the palava of the police and ambulance attending.

For my troubles I didn't even get a thank you from the chap who's dog I got clear of this thing. I have a sneaky feeling he thinks the mental dog was mine! I'll set him straight another day, when I ask how his wife is. Since the last time I saw her, I could see the bone in her right index finger, I think she'll remember me.

P.S. I don't recommend you punch a dog in the head, unless you know what you're up to, they're very strong with very thick skulls. I was successful as I'm aware of a dog's weak spots, and I'm also a Black belt in Karate. I'd not recommend anyone who has not spent a lot of time punching people trying this at home.

P.P.S. This only reinforces my utter total fear this will happen to my dog one day. The dog which does it to mine, will not survive meeting me, and I doubt neither will it's owner. I have a shovel and I live near farm lands... I doubt anyone will miss them.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Back to the Future with FlightSims

I still remember the first time I played anything like a Flight Simulator, it was Boxing Day 1989, and I was pawing over box of my brand spanking new Atari 520STFM and inside the "Discovery Pack" there were four games. The last one I came to was mysteriously labeled "Carrier Command", I figured it must have been something to do with this weird yellow bordered screen shot which was on the box.

I placed that diskette in that drive and for the first time in my life I fell in love with a game.

I don't say that lightly, in 1989 I was eleven. There had been computers and even an old console playing "pong" in the house since I was three. But Carrier Command was the first game which had me enthralled. Okay, first time in, and without any instructions, I couldn't make head nor tail of it. But just a few weeks later I was doing some very complex things in there [go on, hands up anyone who remembers making a Manta fly low and slow with a long comms pod, and a flotilla of Walrus chugging along below to take an island far far away from where your carrier is? Good times].

But carrier command was just a gateway for me, it in itself is not really a flight simulator, but soon the road was set out, as I encountered "Armour-Geddon" a game from the Liverpool based "Psygnosis" studios. This latter game picked up in an ill defined genre where Carrier Command left off, certainly the flight mechanics were much more advanced, and they included a helicopter in the air!

However, all that was soon blown away by my scrimping and saving, wheeling and dealing, and eventually affording the massive £48.95 to buy Falcon 1.0. Never in my dreams did I know such a game existed. To my untrained schoolboy eyes it was fantastic eye candy with buttons, switches and gaming galore. The fact it ran like a dog without any legs never really bothered me.

Though through Falcon you can see the strength of the genre, you can still buy versions of Falcon today, and even when the studio closed the modding community took it up and carried on with improving the engine. It deserves it's place as one of, if not the, most long lived flight simulation games out there today.

But is it the best? Certainly Microsoft thought very early on that they could muscle in on the Flight Simulation genre of gaming, with "MS Flight Simulator v1.0" (MSFS) released even before I was aware of computers in 1982! But, it was not until the late 1990's did the MSFS seem to come up to a par with the dedicated gaming machines like the ST and Amiga. Unfortunately, I believe MSFS's biggest contribution to the modern Flight Simulation world was not in reaching the masses, certainly Flight Simulations are always pitched at a very small gaming demographic, but MSFS did prove the PC platform as a decent place to put a Flight Sim. It also took over from games like TFX, which ironically introduced me to much of the Aircraft just entering service with the RAF and USAF all these years later.

Microsoft also pushed me towards a slightly different genre of Flight Sim, towards classic piston engined fighters. The war-birds of World War Two. This started with Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator (MSCFS) and later MSCFS2; which was the first time a game made me go out and build a whole new cutting edge gaming rig.

Unfortunately, the next game which made me go out and build a new gaming rig was not a Flight Simulator, it was an online FPS... but it included flying, or sorts... Battlefield 1942. This game though does have a kinship with Flight Sims, certainly I've met a few people who are playing console games from the likes of Oleg Maddox today, because of Bf1942 (read on).

Finally though, with a powerful enough PC and developers out there with a passion for the topic Flight Sims started to appear which were amazing. The first I came to, which really took over where Carrier Command left off in my desires to simulate flight is IL-2 Sturmovik. No screen shot you'll see for that game [and remember its nearly a decade old now] will ever do that engine justice. With the improvements made to it over time, and even a complete re-write of their game engine for Pacific Fighters the game looked amazing. It still does today!

The offerings in the IL2 series [headed by Oleg Maddox whom I mentioned earlier] are breathtaking in their depth and understanding of the media they are working with.

Worryingly though it seems we may have lived through the best or times and be in the middle of the worst of times. There are worries over the development of the successor to IL2. There has been a complete closure of the Aces Studio, whom write MSFS. Indeed, it seems in the current MMORPG fever within the gaming industry no-one seems willing to put money into developing a Flight Simulator.

Who wants to lay out the costs for a very complex engine, for such a small market share?

And where does this situation leave the future of Flight Simulators... I'd have to say, until we November 2010 we can't say whether there will be a successor to IL2... If there is, I can guarantee I'll be buying it upon release, heck I'd pay for it tomorrow just on a promise of it coming out later. But clearly Microsoft have put MSFS to bed, that's sad for a game once mentioned to me as "Bill Gate's favourite game". But Bill doesn't head up Microsoft anymore, things change and everyone moves on. I just fervently hope that today with the stagnant looking Flight Sim market is a temporary hiatus, my TrackIR & Flight stick are ready to rock and or roll.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Holy - Roll that Dice - Crap

I'm so surprised, I really am... I had a good old play session on DDO... and... well... it was good.... I KNOW!!! You're stunned, after my tearing it a new a-hole...

Let me explain, it's good, it's not brilliant... 7 out of 10 I'd score it so far (and I don't want to hear any "why so low" grumbles from you lot at the back!), DDO is a decent game, it had a couple of things last night which I came to grips with, that aren't even in WoW... I'll explain those in a moment, because they were great little twists on your standard MMO game play.

But first I have to show you this screen shot...

Looks fine doesn't it, looks like your standard NPC interaction... yes... well, no... read it... c'mon, I know most of you don't bother in MMO's and just look at quest helper, but look at that... that NPC is giving specific directions to where to go in text. There's no dotted line, no 'x' marking the spot, you got to follow his words. I thought that was brilliant, I actually dug out a biro and noted it down and off I went into the wilds.

The trouble was, his description didn't marry up to the way to go. Least it didn't for me, I ended up just climbing up and down paths at random, but I did end up making a rank of my level killing things on the way.

Once I got where i was going, there was a flashing marker to tell me it was the instance.

Sometimes, you just know that there's going to be spiders... I hate spiders, no sooner do you kick their ass in one MMO than they show up in another, they're almost as bad as those pesky harpies.

Inside the instance though I got to work out some insteresting puzzled, things that you just know Blizzard would have to take out of WoW to make it accessible to the lowest common denominator of player IQ.

It also showed off some lovely character animation, climbing ladders and more swimming around, diving under water and such, all rather excellent. The ladder climbing is the best I've seen in a game since Project I.G.I (which had the first actually great ladder climbing animation IMHO).

Too bad the climbing was somewhat let down by the small detail of my rather large shield sticking through the back of the ladder and my club being stuck under my arm pit...

You see, it's not the game itself, nor it's mechanics (for the most part) that cost DDO full marks, its these little details, which just make you think "what the heck just happened?".

There were also some great atmospheric and action features... below you can see some lovely Indiana Jones Style traps, a slashing blade and pikes moving in pseudo random order. Get a pike up your unblinking eye... fun fun fun!

And finally, one last thing, which had me grinning... the simplest trick in the book, see this scene below...

It's from just after the last (optional boss) has been taken down, the water rushes along and down this slope and unlike another MMO I can name, it actually interacts with you, it dragged me along and threw me towards the boss.

Such a simple thing, but something that (at my last visit) was totally missing from WOW... hands up who's stood in lava trails in the Burning Steppe and not thought... "WOW my feet ain't even warm".

Friday, 7 May 2010


I suppose I should give some background to this one, there's a chap, by the goings of "Ventertainme", he had a youtube and 1up profile, and I heard of his fine work through the old GFW Radio Podcast (R.I.P The Brodeo). Anyway, this chap has a sound board, be jumps on peoples vent servers, records them and plays it back to them as a joke. And tonight I checked out some of his archive and this one always makes me giggle, it's a pretty good joke, but the guys he's clowning on take it with such warm good humour. Good Stuff.

Anyway, apart from that, I'm also sorting out a new couple of articles, one is about RTS's and where they're going, especially with Starcraft II just around the corner. The second is about the evolution and progression of FlightSims, especially how things are over at MS Flight Simulator since the staff cuts 16 months ago and what Oleg Maddox is really up to with the IL2 franchise.

And of course, I'm busy playing Free to Play MMO's. Both DDO and RoM still going strong... But can they be my methodone hit to keep me away from the draw of Blizzard's Heroine?

The weekend will therefore see a plethora of posts and game play, see you all then.

In other final news, on a personal note, tonight, just three hours ago, I handed over the last payment of all my student debts... that's it... I'm a free man! So I have a little more wonga lying around... what games can I buy with it... Suggestions please...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Expand or Die? [A Personal Thought about Cataclysm]

So, there's a new installment of the on going epic that is World of Warcraft, this will be the game's third expansion pack, and it takes on the theme of a cataclysmic disaster across the original game's two continents of Kalimdor & the Eastern Kingdoms.

One of the burning questions amongst my fellow personal circle of game players at present is whether they are going to actually buy this offering from Blizzard.

One of the main bones of contention I myself, and I know several of my close friends have with World of Warcraft is the sheer amount of time it takes to achieve the level of reward we pride ourselves on achieving. We literally play the game until we're sick of it to reach our unyielding high standards. The other major problem we have with the series is that, being players of the game from the original release, players who also daddled in the beta testing of the game, we as a group tend towards reminiscing about great times long lost in the game.

Now, I know this is a bit whiney, I know it's a little bit of a jibe at WoW, but lets face it, the game you have the option of playing today is different to that which was originally shipped to us.

And that original incarnation was with us for a very long time, it had no expansions, just a few game play tweaks for the best part of three years. Essentially from release until the first expansion [The Burning Crusade] came out WoW was under an extended development phase, a sort of out in the open evolution into a really really nice game. A nice game, where nice rewards were offered, rewards which gave you a little pride in having worked for them, and which didn't turn you into some sort of Universal Soldier overnight. And as such the players experiencing the game contended with the teething issues, and later with patches to include content which has missed the original release date [e.g. Maraudon]. But most importantly they came to know the game, to feel it's vibe, to know where the pulse was.

Quite whether the likes of Rob Pardo and the rest of the team intended WoW to go through such a long initial version is unclear. It's a question I'd like to pose to them one day though. Certainly there were patches by the dozen. However, people still invested a long time in the activities they undertook. This long post-natal period really lead, at least in my opinion, to lots of players sitting into the game and taking what they were achieving somewhat to heart. This has been particularly true of those players I have talked to about the later expansions of WoW, whom had the original game as their first MMO experience, and they expressed to me many thoughts, but overwhelmingly they've said how much they value the work they put into the character. Scarily too much at times.

However, one of the first shocks to the system for them was the first expansion, with it's release many players suddenly felt their invested effort in the game was totally devalued. Overnight a complete market crash in the value and Kudos they drew from their epic raiding sets, as greens from trash monster kills in Outland were suddenly "better". Many of my personal friends were utterly disheartened to find the simplest of items handed out freely in the expansion were better than the items and equipment that they had spent a lot of time working on. I'm also aware of this feeling being out in the WoW community at large, and at the time of release there were certainly mixed scentiments, ranging from sheer delight [to at last see something new], to blind rage [because of losing so much value in their items], to quiet sobbing [seriously, my vent server was certainly a wash of quiet mumbling and then we all started to rock slowly backwards and forwards with our knees drawn up to our chins and a glazed look on our faces].

Indeed, the release of Burning Crusade crushed one or two large successful Raiding Guilds on my original PVE Server, to such an extent I took the opportunity to completely reroll on a newly opened PVP server.

I can tell you now, that rerolling on a newly opened server. Was "Easy" mode for an experienced player, but it did give a whole new approach to enjoy Burning Crusade, and did allow me to weave a small personal barrier to the numbness I felt leaving my much worked for original characters behind. A fresh start with fresh rules.

It was only too bad, that after making level 70 and investing a vast amount more time in the PVP rewards and burgeoning Arena system, along came Wrath of the Lich King which promptly devalued all efforts once again. I personally got so tired of this that I didn't get WotL straight away, I in fact left the game after playing the 10 day trial. And was only coaxed back by friends telling me "it's not so bad".

Indeed, I found myself returned to the game, but a member of a much dwindling social group, with everyone around me grumbling [rightly so in many situations] about the pointlessness of striving to replay the same game mechanics, through lands which look pretty similar to what came before, for rewards which simply rubbed it in their face that Blizzard were keeping them playing. I don't know if I've become more anti-social with my gaming, but I don't mix like I did in the original game with WotL groups. Pugs, especially with the dungeon finder are very much fire and forget...

Dungeon Finder is the condom of WoW today, you slip into a PUG, you do your dirty deed, and you're out again, gone. Ready to whip off the bad memories and chalk everything down to bad lighting at the local night club. No worries, you didn't get infected, you feel no shame, you used those people as much as they used you.

And that's the key, my experience with WoW is that we're no longer playing with one another, we're using one another, climbing in some eerie approximation of a selective pressure, pushing players to stomp on everyone around them, to bash heads and grind teeth to attain whatever Blizzard have put in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness and made the most Fabulous Object in the Universe this week.

Indeed the struggle with this feeling, of repetitive pointless exertion, leaves me in the midst of a problem... Should I be ready to forgive [what I see as] Blizzards past mistakes, and get stoked up to experiencing Cataclysm? Should you? Will there be any from my gaming cadre willing to come along for the ride?

I'm sure, with the population of WoW being as it is, and so many players out there literally being addicted to the game, it'll be massively selling, it'll be played, it will re-write what WoW is once again I'm sure. It'll also be the biggest smack in the face to the experience of the original game, as it will destroy the lands which we all once ran through, and which many of us have fond memories of.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great plot move to be changing the original land masses, indeed it was done before. Just I have to question, for my last shred of interest in the Warcraft game, is this going to introduce anything new, or is "new" actually being defined by Blizzard as "replace" and "devalue"?

I'm sorry to say, I don't trust Blizzard to direct the game in a way which is wholesome to the past adventures, they seem to my mind to have completely missed the value of the lands from the original game, and the experience of playing 1 through 60. They've further added obsolescence with 61 to 70. And now they're going behind the green curtain once more to twiddle our dials up to 85... So I think you can tell this is where I stand, I feel Blizzard have simply changed mechanics, and altered the game to force everyone to continually pass through cycles of re-gearing up, this new expansion is going to completely revamp the original lands, which were deprecated by Burning Crusade. But I feel deprecation, and predation on the old stomping grounds is going to cut through a few more hearts than Blizzard realise.

Now, I sound a little alone in this argument, certainly not many bloggers seem to complain about the devaluation in Warcraft, certainly new armour sets which replace old are not new to the genre of games. However, I think with the player base in Warcraft, with it's size it clearly does not contain too many hardcore RPG players of old. Warcraft is very accessible. So the audience Blizzard entertain includes people who need constant new features to keep them interested.

As such I think Blizzard have completely fallen to pitching their game to the masses, not to the RPG community [and rightly so]. At the end of the day, it is their choice to do this, it's sound for them financially, it's a shame for me and the group of friends I represent... but there's no going back now... To paraphrase an ancient Roman proverb...

"We Expand or Die!"

And I've picked out my retirement plot on Boot Hill.

A great example of why I quit end game raiding is this, this is a chap, a Guild Master, from my original Server [Thunderhorn(EU)], and though I was never actually in his guild [Wipe Club] I have often thought of his reaction to people and shuddered...

Divas is much better known for his epic Onyxia wipe rant, affectionately and alternatively known as "Minus 50 DKP" or "More Dots", depending on what ethereal internet thread you find it on... So check out "More Dots"...

But, I'm affraid to say, I won't be partaking in the delights of Cataclysm, I will stick to doing a whole other kind of dots....

Post Updated by Xelous [to make it make more sense than his usual babbling bullshit].