May 19, 2011


It's been a while since my last blog, so apologize about that to anyone who actually follows my blog. So, without further ado, here is a blog about raiding, from my point of view.

Raiding is perhaps the best or dirtiest word depending on which circles you hang around on the internet. There are few words that can polarize an MMO community more than the word raiding. It is perhaps one of the single most misunderstood and often mislabeled words in use out in the MMO market. For some this is the best word to hear because it means, to them at least, an endgame and things to grind for and brag about. For others, it's a dirty word that spells elitist and people that spend too much time taking things way too seriously, and for these people, they feel raiding completely and purposely shuts content off for them and of course they think that's unfair. This creates two camps of people that very much cannot see eye to eye when the chips are down.

Now, I would like to pretend I fall somewhere in the middle. I don't raid these days, though when The Old Republic comes out I do have some intentions of trying it out. I know back when in World of Warcraft, I think I probably considered myself in the first group I mentioned, but as the game wore on, and things started getting frayed at the edges in the guild I was in (that had split twice before mind you and broke apart roughly a month after they booted me when I decided to take a break) I started leaning closer to the second camp. The mentality as a whole is what creates the schism, I think, people and their desires to want to win instead of actually understanding they have to work towards something. And then on top of that the bitterness and frothing insults and resentment.

Now, my experience with raids is probably largely out of date. I raided back in the early days of World of Warcraft when the minimum raid size was 25 people and that was considered light, casual raiding by the Blizzard staff. Today, I know raiding goes in 10 for the light and 25 for the hardcore. So I will just be analyzing things from that old perspective, as I doubt much has changed other than things have gotten smaller and more condensed and thus easier to handle.

Now, the initial problem with raiding is just an inherent flaw with the mentality of the average MMO gamer. Needless to say, most MMO gamers imagine themselves as being indestructible and able to take on any foe without worry or need of others. Most gamers think it is unfair they can't take on a forty foot dragon and win without the help of a few friends. This creates a schism then, because when you have to rely on several groups of people, well the average MMO gamer mind set starts to crumble and then they begin to realize they aren't the only one in the game universe. This is one of those things that recent MMOs have created with the way the text works out in the end, the result is that they spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to tell people that they are special little gods but by the time they reach the end, or near it, they have to rely on others to help them out, and strangely enough people don't want to fathom the idea that in an MMO game they might have to rely on others to play.

Now my raiding experience covers a couple of games actually. To UOs world events of lagging death, to World of Warcraft, to Hamidon raids in City of Villains. Each one of them is a unique experience in of themselves and, like any experience, leaves a very distinct impression on the people participating in them. So the basic here is which type of raiding do I particularly enjoy? I don't think there is an easy answer, but I think I can safely say that WoW raiding I find the most boring and drab of all the raiding types when it concerns any MMO on the mainstream market now.

Now, the reason why I believe WoW raiding is the most boring out there is because, regardless of the fight you are going into, it requires being codified into a specific pattern and fighting the fight one specific way. There is no real deviation from it. Any attempt to do so results in either a failed attempt or near failure if your group happens to over gear the particular encounter. Some people call it strategy, I call it monotonous. I mean when your only method is to do something one way, it's going to get old hat. It becomes a routine job then, and that's the crux of the problem, because WoW raiding just feels like a job.

UO's raiding was random however. Because a majority of the events were one time and a lot of the time the big bad (at least back in the day) was generally ran by a GM or Seer, the end result was a critter that could actually think for itself. Team work was truly essential there, and it wasn't a boiler plate textbook tank and spank fight. Of course, this also generated some frustrations as some people could feel singled out in the event as well. However, back then the reward was a one of a kind item, though maybe not some purple super epic item, it was a rare, one of a kind item. These items have sense been destroyed due to UO's itemization and localization codes. So if any of the museums still exist on the oldest shards, the items will probably not have their original text they came with.

City of Villains Hamidon raid, it kind of falls into the middle there. It was predictable, but there wasn't a 100% it had to be done this way pattern. There were options outside of that. I can't exactly explain it, maybe it was the fact people were actually sociable but I enjoyed the Hamidon raid in City of Villains, versus WoW raiding, which felt like a chore and job I was being forced into. There wasn't anything super special about Hamidon raids, the rewards were pretty meager compared to everything else, at the time, you would ore received naturally. The bonuses weren't hot, but in the end it was just something to enjoy.

In the short of it, I do enjoy raiding, but not WoW style raiding. I want options when I raid, not the only one way to go about it approach to things. Having a large gathering of your guildies to do things together is always awesome to me, but when you are left pushing just one or two buttons the entire time, your attention and mind tends to wander, no matter how "tough" the boss might be that you are facing. This is the crux of WoW raiding. In City of Villains, you actually had a chain of abilities, and some you could place on auto. There were no macros or add ons that would automate things. People would actually have to pay attention and listen to the raid leader. WoW, everything's been automated to where it just gets dull and boring. Hell, I ran into a paladin the other night who was incapable of healing without a heal bot program. And trust me, I am a paladin healer in WoW, it's one of the easiest things in that game, and he was incapable of doing a basic boss fight without burning out his mana bar.

This is one thing I am looking forward to in TOR, honestly. The combat system seems to be set up more like City of Villains; ie there is no auto attacked and there are a series of abilities you run down a chain. This seems to allow for a bit more activity from the players part, and given how City of Villains operated, maybe the healer can do more than just focus on health bars for the entire fight. I can't say that will be how it will be. The Taral V, the healer was actually attacking and doing other things other than converting their blue bar for others green, but that was a mid level dungeon experience. No idea what the end game raiding or dungeon experience will be like.

I kind of also hope for small team numbers. Maybe nothing bigger than 12. You sort of lose your incentive when you feel like just another face in the crowd, which is what makes WoW raids so boring. You don't really feel like you are an important cog in the wheel, just another face in the crowd in the end. This is all wait and see, and maybe I might try out some raiding in Cataclysm WoW to see if anything is different there, but going by videos I've seen, I don't believe it is.

May 10, 2011

The always present desire to Beta

The age old desire of the average gamer to get into a beta test. Yea, I remember that feeling, the desire and hope that I would get selected. Even going so far as to try and hype up how great of a tester I would be and how many bug reports I would fill out. Every net nerd who has ever desired to play a game before its scheduled release has either typed it, said it or just thought about it. There is no denying that no matter what, you want in that beta because you know how unbelievably cool that will be.

And then you get invited and... well everything you thought would be awesome just falls apart right in front of you. Beta's are not glamorous or all that fun. I've been in plenty, even been in a few alphas before, and quite frankly, even though I submit beta applications still for games I am interested in, I more or less hope I don't get selected anymore. Oh yea, there is a part of me that really wants to play the game and such, but the realistic part, the part that has been in more betas than I care to remember, understands that even though some parts will be fun, more parts will be frustrating.

Saying I've been in a lot of betas would be an understatement. Honestly, it would be easier to ask which MMOs I have not beta'd than to ask which ones I have been in. And the wow factor of getting into the beta comes crashing to a halt once you get in and you see the product as it is currently in testing, months out from when it is suppose to be ready. Sure, a lot changes in those months, but you also come to the realization that you are there to provide feedback and find bugs and break things. That means playing a lot of stuff over and over and over a lot in a beta. That gets very tedious.

Then of course comes the other problems. Even if you have a rather uneventful near bugless time and things run smoothly, you are still going to run into the issue of having to constantly repeat content, server wipes to test changes, and expected buffs, nerfs, and complete changes to entire systems as they stand as developers toe the waters on what might be good and what might not. It's a never ending process and it happens rapidly, sometimes giving you almost no time to even play with a change and explore its full potential before its gone again other times changes that do nothing but frustrate you for weeks on end even up to launch.

Then of course this boils down to another problem inherent with beta testing in general; the been there done that syndrome. As a tester, you are encouraged to do everything you can possibly do in the game. That's all and well, but when the game finally reaches the point it's gone live, you've already done it. There is almost no chance that you will actually be mildly astonished when the game has gone live, at all. So what are you going to be left with?

Truthfully, you will be left with waiting for the next big thing to happen in that game you tried so desperately to get into before it even was ready to launch. Honestly, you will have ruined your palette for it. It's a sad but honest truth. Nothing will ever be the same way the second time, because you know the answers and how things are suppose to be done. Or even worse, how something would of worked if the original systems worked properly and how much cooler something would of been if it worked that way.

Being a beta tester is a provincial curse, as it were. As awesome as it is to get involved in the game early, and how great it is you can feel to supply information to developers and help shape and lead the game in a direction you think will help, the end result will be devastating to you in the end, because you will have an early sense of been there and done that. I've watched so many games in their development process, some having real potential being ruined by the few vocal minority that never planned to actually continue playing the game after launch and then there are the ones who are just there to play a game and not even really help the testing process.

It's a very hard thing for a developer to find a decent pool of people to test for them. But, like my last blog, I am going to offer some advice on how to present testing feedback if your heart is dead set on trying every possible way to get into a beta.

First, play the game, but remember you are there to test it. Expect wipes and expect to do the same things over a lot. Be sure to screenshot regularly if you can, and learn how to create detailed reports.

Second, create a proper bug report. Many bug reports have multiple sections to file it under, do your best to do that. And fill in as much detail, even down to the clothes you were wearing on your character, of what was going on. Even the tiniest detail could lead to a clue why a bug happened. After all, I've ran into some very interesting ones, like looking at a certain wall texture with glowing eyes would cause a crash.

Third, the moment a bug occurs, screenshot it and try to fill out the bug report then. If it's a crash bug, when the crash monitor comes up, try to put as much detail into the report as possible. Again, like down to the clothing, as much detail may help the developers isolate the bug faster.

Fourth, when discussing balance do not think of just what would work for you, but think of how it would affect everyone. Just because you believe you should one shot everyone with ease doesn't mean you are balanced. Try to think of the power from all angles including the one where it is used against you. A power might sound awesome when you first start thinking about it, but then when you apply it to you being used against you or what even the twinks could do with it, then thinks start to unravel.

In closing, as awesome as getting in a beta might be, the worst thing about it is the disappointment you might experience, especially if you hyped yourself up over the product in general. Betas are long, drawn out processes, that involve lots of lag, crashes and buggie things that happen. Though you can have fun experiences and it will be one of the few times that you will probably get to interact directly with developers, one has to wonder if the negatives outweigh the perks. Because you could potentially ruin an entire game for yourself before it is even ready, not to mention the frustration that can come if one unexpected showstopping bug appears.

Have any comments, please leave them here. :)

May 8, 2011

Life as a Tank and Healer

If you follow me around, you will probably find this particular article rather confusing, if not even a bit puzzling when I put it out there. I know from the perspective of someone looking from the outside, what I am about to say probably sounds impossible, while from my perspective it just makes sense. So here it is. When it concerns MMOs and gaming, I love being a tank. In fact, tanking is primary choice I make when it concerns MMO gaming. I generally like to be the one to attract the attention of the baddies and keep the rest of my team safe. If tanking is not an option my second choice is to actually be a healer/support character, trying to do the same but overall, protecting the team. DPS, on the other hand, is generally so far down the list that if I had a choice of picking it, I do so reluctantly if there is no other option. Mind you, I keep it on the table, but it's generally the last thing I want to really do.

Being DPS is rather dull and boring to me. As exciting as it can be to see large numbers splashing out in front of you as you wail on bad guys, it tends to get repetitive and samey. Not to mention, no matter what your DPS class is, you generally won't be utilizing more than a few button pushes at any given time. This get's a bit meh after a while. Of course, I know there is a counter argument to this concerning the other two roles, but for me it's a bit more involved than that. So let me start on tanking.

Now, in the early days, tanking was more of an art than just something any idiot could do. Sure hitting a taunt button meant you took agro, but there were many things that needed to be done before you could actually be successful at it. Defense, proper weapons for maintaining threat, etc etc. This line, of course, has been blurred and today's tanks don't really have to worry so much about AE threat and multiple tags as much as they use to. The tanking profession as a whole was dumbed down to a point that even the most lazy individual could probably do it successfully without much trouble. Now, it's not to say that tanking is incredibly easy, but it's nowhere near as difficult as it use to be. But the new rub for today's MMO experience is basically endurance versus actual tanking skill.

Now, what originally intrigued me and brought me into the entire role was the fact that a tank is someone that has to be willing to step in first and die quickly and miserably as they toe the waters. In fact, tanks are often the ones with the most expensive repair bills of any class in the game. Many don't really appreciate that fact either and people generally get rather snippy when it concerns tanks being a tad upset when others throw away a tanks time as if it didn't matter. Ironically, I always get a laugh from the DPS players that generally think that tanks act like they are entitled, when it's generally the DPS that tries to tell the tank how to play a class that most likely the tank has been playing a hell of a lot longer than the DPS player has even considered trying.

But, in basics, tanks are there to take the hits, have the biggest repair bills, and don't generally get a lot of respect for what they do, since a lot of DPS tends to think they can do the same job a tank can do with little effort and also believe that the tanks insistence on trying to keep a team alive is stupid.

Of course, no other class gets as little respect as a healer though. A healing role centric player is basically in for a maelstrom of insults, attacks and rude commentary that basically center around how people that do nothing but damage try and tell you how you are suppose to buff them up, and use heal spells. Healers are so underappreciated that most DPS and tanks will congratulate each other first before they congratulate a healer who was stressing to keep the sorry asses of the stupid over agroing DPS alive and the tank who was too dumb to know how to use a single defensive boost.

It's a thankless life and if you ever hear a compliment on your actual ability to keep someone alive, you are guaranteed to hear many more insults and statements of how much you suck and you know nothing about playing your class. It's such an incredible irony, that the person that spends the most time keeping the group alive, is the one that gets insulted and blamed the minute the DPS or tank do something  completely bone headed and stupid.

Now, this is going to end up being shorter than my normal blogs, but here are some parting words of wisdom for those interested in playing either role. First up is the tank;

Tanking has gotten loads easier but that doesn't mean you should relax. Expect to have large repair bills, and always be mindful of your surroundings. Keep an eye on enemy tells. Damage is the least of your concern, you should worry more about your threat. And if some DPS or even a truly bad healer does show up, don't be afraid to boot them.

As a healer, patience is an ever loving virtue. You are going to get blamed, a lot, by the incompetent and those that think you should be able to heal them while they are in another room, behind a wall while you are tending to the main group. Expect to be told that you suck, no matter what you did, to try and keep people alive. It's a thankless life, and one that tends to be stressful a lot of the time.

And for real advice; Don't PUG ever as these two classes. Get a guild and have fun. The majority of healer and tank stress comes from PUGs.

Anyways, have any comments don't be ashamed to post any. :)

May 5, 2011

PvP: Yes, I do actually PvP, and here are my views on it

You know, one of the most hilarious things I get to listen to a lot as an MMO player, and not exactly one who sits and boasts or brags about my gaming experience (sarcasm), one of the funniest things I actually get to hear (other than being called a nub) is that I am a care bear. This always strikes me odd considering the fact I am almost always pro PvP in games, unless the system is just horribly skewed and completely broken to the point that even bothering to PvP is just a massive waste of time (more than it normally is). Of course, then when it concerns this and I actually do PvP a lot of these people, especially the ones that think they are among the best of the best, I typically end up railroading them, and then they start calling me cheap, I wasn't playing fair, etc, etc, etc.

PvP is always a fascinating subject to me because, in the grand scheme of things, as long as you are winning, the game is balanced. But the minute someone comes along and wallops you, the game needs to be rebalanced and fine tuned. I don't care what type of person you think you are, the minute you get beat, you are screaming at your screen, or holding back screaming at it, and sitting there saying something was cheap, that is broken, or the best of them all, the person that just walloped you is hacking. Of course, this is not to deny the fact that there are situations where this occurs, and in some areas, occurs more frequently than it should, but in general, the first instinct of a player, no matter how cool or collected, is to rage at just having been defeated at something. Depending on company, their composure may hold back, but as time wears on, that composure slowly fades away as they end up getting beat more often than they think is possible.

Now this thought came about when I was looking over the cliff notes on TOR's PvP system they have set up, and I will say, on paper, I like it because I reminds me of WAR's PvP system, which was, in my opinion, is one of the better PvP MMO systems on the market. Of course, that is about all that WAR does, as it's PvE is absolute rubbish. And this got me thinking over the various years, for nearly 14 years since the early days of UO, how I just find it funny how people call me a care bear or something because I don't sit there and boast about PvP being the only thing that matters. Of course, my personal point of view is that for a good sandbox game, PvP would need to be a pivotal aspect, however, due to the highly immature nature of PvPers in this day and age of internet gaming, the mass market will probably never actually grow to accept PvP in that capacity, so it will always need to be regulated and controlled as long as the average MMO PvPer has the mentality and self control of a four year old who's been fed several dozen pixie sticks.

Is that an unfair approximation of PvPers? Yes, and no. Yes, because not all PvPers act this way. No, because, quite frankly, more act that way than the more "civilized" PvPers would like to believe. On average, for every one decent acting PvPer, you can probably wager at least three others are gibbering, hooting dick holes that aren't worth your time. This is the result of the competitive nature of PvP mixed with the anonymity of the internet allowing people to do what they can't normally do in the real world, even though they would do it in a heartbeat if they were allowed to. And the sad part is, while most people will profile these people as being under the age of eighteen, the startling reality of it is, many of these people will be in their late twenties to mid thirties. And no, that isn't even made up, that is a factual statistic concerning MMOs in general. The average age of an MMO gamer falling around thirty.

But enough of that, the point of this blog really wasn't about PvPer mentality and such, but the fact that I just wanted to talk about PvP, and just generally share with the fact that I actually do enjoy to PvP, even if I don't sit there and shut my life away inside a PvP zone every minute of my log in time of any game I am playing. Of course, some of the excuses some PvPers make for reasons why they don't PvE in games also is some of the funniest non-sense I've heard to, but we will get to more of that later.

Following up my views from my last blog about APB:R, something I will put forward. Do I think APB:R is going survive it's second incarnation? Short answer? No. Long answer, speaking as a PvPer, the game is just too flawed. The imbalance is monumentally obvious in that game, enough so that even an outsider can identify the flaws straight away, the servers are still unstable, memory leaks are still prevalent, lag spikes are phenomenally bad, and people just can't be bothered to even play the game for free from what I can see. Seriously, if the game has any following it won't be much higher than when Real Time Worlds was running it, because GamersFirst has cocked the whole thing up so badly that the game just isn't the fun that was originally delivered. And they expect people to pay money for the premium stuff. At best, they will probably make money on people with the clothing editor (make being generously stated), but past that, people will most likely stick with Team Fortress 2 or even Brink instead of APB:R and I don't see the servers having great populations on them. There is just too much monumentally wrong with the game now, and a lot of it was just created recently.

Now, as far as my PvP experience goes, I am not a major FPS person, or shooter in general. The reason for this is because I don't have the money or time to constantly keep upgrading my system every other month just to keep ahead of the curve that most of these hardcore serious FPS PvPers do. My latency is always superb, but people depend their ability in an FPS on perfect FPS rates as well as millisecond times, that becomes too much, and I just don't care to try and keep up with that non-sense. That is too expensive and for something that only provides enjoyment based on that moment, it isn't worth the time to me. The modern FPS relies on twitch factors that are more machine based than actual person based and the end result relies less on strategy these days and just more on hardware performance. That's all and well for the muscle machine enthusiasts, but just isn't my cup of tea.

On the other hand, I love to PvP in MMOs and strategy based games. There, your latency is more key as well as your actual thinking, planning and strategy. Of course, there comes the rub. Unlike an FPS shooter (mostly) MMO and strategy based games rely more on the actual game being balanced towards certain aspects. One thing off results in the entire system being cocked up instantly and the cries of nerf can be heard across the universe. Well you will hear that anyways anytime someone gets whooped in PvP by someone with more skill than another person, but we are talking blatantly obvious imbalances. Things like powers that are making someone immune to damage completely, or attacks that decimate entire fields in one shot, or even powers that let you do things that weren't originally intended, like getting into a keep without having to break the front door down.

MMOs are complicated, many times more than FPS games or single player or even their multi-player variants. It only takes one bad power or such to just throw everything out of whack and the cries for a nerf to come crawling in. Of course, on the flip side is the hilarity that the people that do abuse the obviously broken stuff will go out of their way to make claims that it is indeed balanced, even though it is plain obvious to anyone that a power that basically says "IWIN" is in no way balanced. This makes the gulf between a PvE and PvP player very large because neither camp want the other to interfere with each other, but both camps like to believe their side of the fence exists in a vacuum.

Now, my personal PvP experience (when I started online computer stuff since I been technically PvPing since consoles and arcades as a young child with games like Killer Instinct and such) started in UO in 97. Needless to say the concept of an MMO was new to the world in general, let alone me. At first, I didn't like it, because I lost everything and such and all that I worked for was gone. But eventually, I came around and started to work and get better at it and pace myself. Of course in the early, burgeoning days of UO, PvP was very much hit or miss because only a handful had broadband and 56k was still the big thing. Eventually that changed and of course the world changes almost overnight when you get broadband.

As time went on I learned how to only carry what I needed then and there and I have to say, became a rather proficient PK hunter and a master mage duelist. But that was ages ago in the MMO world of things. In today's MMO world, PvP is relegated to back corners and such to avoid offending the eyes of people who think PvP is a stupid waste of time, and to me they are closed minded. Of course, I also think of PvPers that think of PvE as a stupid waste of time being equally as closed minded, since in my experience a player can be even more predictable than a computer program AI. But that's another point entirely.

Now, if I were to rate MMOs based solely on their PvP experience, the list would probably be a quite long one. No game has quite nailed it and PvP is something that's always being adjusted and changed and rebalanced all because of a few people that go out of their way not only to min max builds, but to find broken powers to make things unbelievably unbalanced. These type of people, of course, generally hide behind excuses like they are trying to make the devs fix it faster and such, or that the power is not broken than people just need to learn to play or other such rubbish. So, instead of actually listing a list of MMOs, I am going to list MMOs based on what I think, at the time when i played them, were the most fun and balanced PvP systems, the worst PvP system, and the cock up of the year award.

Now, considering how I have stated in various places this, it should come as no surprise, but I consider WAR to have one of the best PvP systems, when I played it. Now, the rub here. Why did I stop playing WAR? Well frankly all there was was PvP in that game. The PvE game was dreadful, to say the least, and if you tried leveling up straight through PvP you will be grinding hardcore. Not to mention, because they followed the WoW model (despite Warcraft was a blatant rip off of Warhammer) even a minute gear difference pretty much cocked balance up especially in the lower level ranges. But given MMOs in general, this was the most fun and balanced of my PvP experiences in MMOs to date.

Now, PvP systems in general go, I'd have to say the worst PvP experience on the market goes to Cryptic. Sorry Cryptic, but you guys just seem to make a PvP system then give up on it. Things are always so horribly broken or imbalanced. If I were to rate the three games as they stand from best of the worst to worst of the worst, City of Heroes would be the best, (better before the stupid i13 changes) with the absolute worst being Champions Online. There is no sense of balance and only a tiny sliver of builds are even valid in any of it, which just is atrocious planning. A lot thought needs to be taken in but honestly, I think Cryptic has just given up over all concerning PvP for Champions, and probably Star Trek Online as well. They don't control City of Heroes anymore (and I haven't played since the i13 patch), but I know that PvP is even worse than ever.

And finally for the cock up of the year award, this will go to GamersFirst for completely, boldly, and bluntly fucking up the entire APB experience. The game is hugely imbalanced, they removed fun aspects (car chases for instance), and have done nothing major to address the startling major issues and concerns, and also trying to throw the wool over the eyes of the populace as a whole concerning the major issue of hackers. The servers are unstable, the game has a HUGE memory leak, and the balance is just plain non-existant. Key advice, you don't try to take a system that was perfectly balanced before (minus a few problems) and try to improve it. You fuck it up.

Now, that all that is out of the way, I will say after reading the info on TOR's PvP systems, it has caught my interest there. The rest of TOR is debatable. I love to actually PvP. I like to PvP quite a lot. I am nowhere near as good as I use to be, and strangely enough, some people actually think I am making some bold claim that I am some goddess of PvP. But having the experience and such throughout the years of MMO PvP, I do have a bit of knowledge concerning what is balanced and what isn't in an MMO, and this allows me to spot a power more easily based on what it does as being imbalanced and planning a basic set up with it. A lot of people don't like that it seems, and ironically they love to claimt hey want to balance such things. And it still does amuse me when people call me cheap because I beat them because they think I am a care bear and they find out differently.

Anyways, please leave comments below, I would like to hear them.

May 3, 2011

Has All Points Bulletin really been Reloaded?

I remember writing sometime ago a review of APB. It was actually something mid level, and though the game had flaws, I think it had a huge level of potential. It was fun, the game was relatively balanced with a couple of odd ball weapons here and there, and you didn't have to be an expert with twitch combat to succeed. Real Time Worlds had a great opportunity, but because of poor management decisions and no real direction, the life of that company ended only a few months after their flagship title launched, which was a shame.

Now let's fast forward to now, APB:R is in a "closed" beta, which is only closed in word alone. It's actually a private payees club where they are basically scamming people for money, and of course quite a few people are buying into it. What do I mean? Well quite literally, GamersFirst (also referred to as G1) actually has the audacity now in a closed beta (the game is still not even open beta until the 18th of May, so wrap your head around this) of actually charging people money for their services now. The pandered excuse is that they want to test their backbone market system thingy, despite the fact they've already got at least 8 other titles that have more than tested the G1 system. They are basically using marketing speak and such, and of course there is a decided group of people that are pretty much cheer leading for this. It's hilarious, to say the least.

Anyways that's only one thing of many. To be blunt, server stability in APB:R is an absolute joke. If a single district even gets more than say, 50 people, the district starts getting severe latency spikes. How severe? Put it this way, my average ping time is around 40 to 50 to the server I am on. When one of these spikes occurs, which G1 keeps stating they are going to fix (they put out at least one patch they claimed would fix the spikes, but then later back peddled and claimed that Punkbuster was responsible for fixing that, so nice bait and switch) my latency has jumped as high as 1500ms ping. Needless to say in a populated district, fun time is dramatically reduced, because these latency spikes occur like clockwork around every 2 minutes.

Now, we get into the other issues. It's obvious whatever server infrastructure G1 is using can't really handle the game. There is a lot of loading issues of textures and such, as well as many other factors. You can run through areas and it loads fine, come back 5 or even 10 minutes later, and you get invisible wall treatment and it takes noticeably longer each time for the game to load in textures. Memory usage spikes upwards of nearly 3 gigs worth in a short period of time so there is also a horrendous memory leak somewhere. In short, G1 really doesn't know how to run this game.

And in whatever brain fart they had, they decided that the game wasn't good enough so they decreased the Time to Kill (TTK) of all weapons down. A few this was only one or two shots, but majority this was nearly cut in half time and such. In short, it just isn't fun. It's a TTK designed for first person shooters. In third person shooters, there are just too many things that can be manipulated to give too many advantages. In short, the game is now geared to be in favor of those that camp and any sense of strategy is removed as it's all one sided.

Then of course comes another major kick to the gut for one of the best features of the game; the car chase. To favor those people who couldn't drive (ie most of them) they've completely removed one of the best aspects of the game, car chasing, but making VIPs and Item Hold missions weigh a car down so much that it practically has no speed. In short, the entire TTK and car system has been gutted to favor the least common denominator playgroups. And I am speaking as someone that loved to chase people down, and the thrill of avoiding near misses and clutch moments, nothing beat a car chase then.

They've also been tinkering with the spawn system, and by tinkering I mean completely fucked it up. I can't even begin to state how many different ways I just spawn in just to start getting sniped by the enemy team now thanks to the fucked up spawn system. Or the fact that Criminals almost always spawn near objectives, while as an enforcer I get spawned no less than 150 meters out. My average hovers around the 200 meter mark in fact. This isn't even funny, because it takes no strategy or skill to take a spawn point just a zerg. And some criminal based points to defend are just stupidly defensible.

Then of course comes how they balanced Modifications (formerly known as upgrades). Needless to say they are fundamentally worthless in the grand scheme of things except two. Everyone will practically have the same load out to. Car mods are pretty much don't even bother now. Weapon mods are decent, provided you plan to fill the niche but let's be honest with the low TTK most of them are worthless anyways.

But the major growner is the fact that G1 keeps claiming they know who the hackers (people that use aim bots and such) are, and are just "following" them and check their habits. In laymen's terms they don't know crap. They are just stating it to scare the aim botters they know are there but have no proof on. Considering their latest blog statement is contradictory to everything they said several weeks ago, it's just laughable. Not to mention in the short order of that blog being made, several of the known aim botters come out and try to state they have skill and are not botting, trying to protect themselves from their actions obviously.

How do I know they are aim botters? The magical ability to know where everyone is, snapping gun fire, not to mention said people are a part of clans that have already had members banned from the game for that very thing. What's even sadder, tow of the clan members were even made G1 forum moderators and at least one person from one of said clans openly states that he hacks and G1 won't do anything to him about it. Of course, several of those people from said clans say that have G1 GMs on their side and such that will do anything they say. Now how can you sit there and take this game seriously anymore when the prominent cheer leading squad comes from those groups?

It's rather funny to. Sitting there and watching district populations, they spike when new people get invited but as fast as they spike, only a few days later, those populations die down. It's obvious the game that people wanted back is not the game that was delivered and G1 refuses to listen to the people that matter. Instead they keep listening to that cheer leading squad because those handful of people obviously think that they speak for the vast majority of gamers. APB:R does not have much of a chance in the near future at its current set up because there is too much favoritism going on instead of making the game balanced and fun. In short, if you can't get people to play your game for free, you aren't going to make but a few dumbasses pay for it (and I feel dumb that I spent $10 bucks to help "test" something that didn't need testing). In short, it was a rip off and scam because G1 has been promising but not delivering and giving half assed excuses.

In short, G1 has been dumbing the game down. It's no longer about tactics or strategy. It's about the cheesy combat, zerging and holding down mouse 1. That's it. And of course the things that made APB fun have been removed. Advancement is a pure joke now. It feels exceptionally grindy because there are no more rewards in the game. None. Anyone who says you get rewarded obviously has their head buried far up their ass. What you do is level up a contact and "unlock" things that you then have to buy from the said contact. No more do you get things like a STAR "Spider" or a Jericho "Crusader" to try out. You have to buy those, and they have a leased time period, IE after a certain amount of time, they expire or as they like to say, get re-possessed. Some half baked excuse of trying to get the items out faster and make the money spent be used more. Oh, and in replace of all the former rewards we got, we now get spam mail telling us about crap we really could care less about.

Oh there are more permanent things, like clothing and customizable cars, but all weapons are leased, even the empty slotted kind. So every 10 days you have to buy that same gun over again. Oh you can supposedly buy it multiple times to extend its life, but that really doesn't matter. Instead of implementing a smart system of durability and decay we instead are basically forced to keep buying the same gun over and over and if you forget, you might have to actually re-slot the bastard to.

And the grindiness is even greater this time. Those from APB might remember there was a bit of grind. Well, they've increased it significantly, and it's made worse because there are no rewards for working your butt off, just pointless spam mail to remind you that the city is a crime center of disaster. Gone are the faction levels to, it's just straight up contacts, though for whatever reason those contacts are still sub divided into their old factions, despite the factions are completely pointless now. Each contact, except for the starter ones, have 10 levels each, with the starter having 5, and the boss of each faction having 15. If you do the math, that's 95 levels for one faction with all 9 of their contacts. Counting the starter contact that's 195 levels worth of grinding. And the system likes to trick you because the first contact, after the insultingly easy tutorial that explains nothing now, breeze by rapidly, but once you get to the next tier, the grindiness sets in hardcore. Contacts creep by painfully slow.

And that's not even to mention the roles system which was set up by morons. You can now see clearly what you have to do and how many times, but the grindiness is even greater there. Various items are unlocked based on role rankings which is just basically another grind system. Except certain roles are so stupidly impossible to unlock one way or the other. Less than Lethal (LTL for Cop Role) weapons are balanced around the old APB, thus the higher TTK values. That means pretty much against all guns, an LTL user has no chance in a stand up fight. They might score one or two arrests but on average will get plowed quickly because most guns are 4 shot weapons, or shoot so stupidly fast that the fire rate on LTL has no chance.

Then there are the equipment roles. Like the first contacts, the first bits are a bit breezy to do, except for Enforcers which is the spray paint one which pretty much requires an act of God to get unlock the first part. It takes 50 tags to unlock the 5 various roles for those equipment upgrades, except handcuffs which require cop role, IE LTL, but no point in equipping handcuffs since it was made stupid fast anyways. But after those first 50.. the next unlock is at 200. Okay, who was the genius who thought that up? And considering Enforcers have to do missions to get these unlocks, where as Criminals only have to do a few missions and keep bashing things on the street otherwise, the system is entirely skewed.

Then of course comes criminal versus enforcer money balance. It's a joke. Don't even bother trying to state otherwise. Criminals can make money without having to set foot in a mission. Oh there are a few criminals who whine about witnessing, but that requires that an enforcer see this and actually pin point target witness in the short time we have to actually witness a criminal committing a crime. Oh not to mention that we have to wait for a criminal to have a minimum of $100 dollar stash, oh and most of the time the witnessing is absolutely worthless for the enforcer in the end because the standing increase is pathetically low not to mention the payoff is rarely worthless the bullets you just used. You will rarely find a smart crim committing crimes where you can see them, most of the time they are hiding away someplace so they can't be witnessed. About the only thing an enforcer can do is hope they find cars to turn in but you'd be better off just doing missions and hoping for the best.

Realistically, I had high hopes for APB when G1 bought it. But after playing, extensively, APB:R all I can say is I wasted $10 dollars now and it will be unlikely the game will have a higher population than APB had back in RTWs hands. G1 doesn't listen to people, instead focusing on a few minute players, some of whom are a part of clans who have already had confirmed hackers in them. They like to bait and switch commentary a lot and it's clearly evident they have no idea what they are doing or what direction they want to go in. They've tinkered with the system to the point that it is no longer a strategic or fun game, but favors zerg and shooting spam style game play. Hacking is evident everywhere while the self same cheer leading squad of the confirmed clans with hackers in them keep trying to lie it up and say that hacking is not that evident.

In short, APB is free for a lot of people, but it's obvious they can't even get a large portion of those players who have to pay absolutely nothing to play the game. Not more than a few days ago I saw several districts near bursting with the number of players in them. The past few days only two districts have had half a population in them each while the others were holding 2 to 5 people in them. But the cheer leading squad will deny that means anything at all. Of course, even though we are being asked to pay money, G1 will also be trying to tell me I am breaching the NDA, which I say bull crap to. They of course say it's still closed beta, but again, they are wanting to charge us money for services in a closed beta, which is really one of the most laughable slaps in the face to date. Not to mention several blog posts ago they said they would give us free APB credit to test their system first then open the cash shop in full. See how far that went huh?

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