Something to write about…

SO long has passed… what was I doing you might ask. Several things actually.

No1: I was (and still am) in several betas. I’m actually racking up a pretty good beta resume. Ionas might be getting a little jealous but after a certain kind of favor I’m not at liberty to disclose he forgives me for my admittedly amazing streak of luck in getting in betas we both apply to.

I was in the Lord Of The Rings Online (LOTRO) beta which now I am able to talk about and will later. This one is about to end though. I’m also in two other beta, two Asian themed MMOs of different demeanour, first is more action based and more in-line with the Asian sensibility of design (think RFO) and the other is more western in its concept. Both of those are closed betas and have a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) currently active.

No2: I got to be in the open beta of Vanguard and actually even pre-ordered the game. I tried to love it, but I just could not. I appreciate the potential, I can even recognize a lot of its redeeming qualities, but the client… that damn client… and those bugs… Well I gave it up come March, I bought it, I did my part to support it, but I will not anymore.

Many people think that we should support it on principal, just because the software industry is what it is (projects never get finished and all that) and thus we should help them continue to develop while we pay them. Sorry, I’m not that sympathetic, they had 4 years to develop it, many months of beta, lots of the things wrong with game are easy fixes, some are not, but most importantly, the client is just abhorrent in its use of resources. Classic examples:
a) every time a player comes in view the game hiccups, if you meet a small village or a crowded area with 10-20 people questing there, you cannot play for about a minute till the client does something, and
b) game is supposed to be “seamless” but everyone knows that it is not. You can also see the limit of one map if you have a torch lit (the active map is being lit by the torch, the ones that are not loaded will not be lit) and when you move between those chunks (as they are called) there is a 1-2 minute load and heavy Hard Disk Drive activity, client is frozen and the player cannot do anything, but the server thinks you are running forward and can thus aggro several groups of enemies that are there…

Of course there are more, like frequent crashes, slow frame rates in groups, broken crafting system (that magically became working as intended – I had seen a system message that said that the devs are working on the problem of too many complications during crafting, but after 15 days they announced that the system is just fine…) and ultimately (because it is not that important) not so great graphics for the horse power they require. Any idiot can make a game load 10.000 x 10.000 pixel texture of a sword to make it look good, load it with hardware effects and then add also a hardware bump map on it, that takes no skill. Skill is what Blizzard does, or what Turbine does with LOTRO, both of those games have an amazing balance of pleasant graphics and working frame rates. Fun fact; Vanguard would play with good frame rates if I turned all graphics options on, but it was murder whenever any other player came into view and don’t even talk about the cities. That’s why I was always on lowest setting and even then some cities (Khal was a test of patience) were a pain…

No3: University stuff of course, last semester and all, that takes up considerable time but is otherwise uneventful. Student council is still trying to decide how much credit a student should get for late submissions and all that important stuff. I’m saying that because they are not contending the time frame, but the grade reduction. Better spend energy on completing those papers people… then you wont need mitigating circumstances…

Final year project is moving along very well, almost ended now and I still have two months to spare.

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