Gumpo / Member

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Gumpo Blog

Where have all the real games gone?

So i've been a gamer for about twenty years now, playing on consoles as far back as the APF Imagination Machine. Having been around for over a decade of gaming before it was trendy or cool, and in fact downright looked down upon by many people, I'm somewhat left out in the cold by the recent direction most game publishers and developers have chosen to follow.

Take a look back on the past few years biggest blockbuster titles, and what do you see? I'd say about 90% of the big money games were first person shooters and/or big franchise sequels. Really, what made Halo 2 so special? It was the sequel to an okay first person shooter that just happened to become really popular with casual gamers, because it was easy to just pick up and play. And what made Rainbow Six Vegas so great? Basically the same thing; there certainly wasn't any of the old Rainbow Six to be had - no planning phase whatsoever, and little tactical thought about what you were doing - mostly just run and gun. Then you've got the franchise sequels, games like Tony Hawk, WWE Smackdown, and Need For Speed. What do they really do to switch up their titles from year to year? Change around some maps, maybe update their roster / car lists, and rehash, for the most part, the game play of the originals. While there may be a new feature thrown in here and there, for the most part, the core game play remains unchanged.

What am i getting at here?

I'm angry that publishers are constantly targeting games to "mainstream" gamers. That is to say, the "New" gamers - Not the ones who have been playing for decades, but rather the ones who never got into it back in the day, and are only just now starting to play. For the most part, these people have short attention spans and want fast paced action and rewards without having to really do anything, they don't want to think or sit around and learn the back-story of a game, they just want to hop in and frag some demons.

Now normally these people wouldn't bother me, but I've come to realize that developers are starting to lower the quality of their games to make their publishers happy because their game is now more appealing to the mass audience. Take Bioshock for example. Designed by a lot of the same guys behind System Shock 2, Bioshock devolved from a FPS/RPG hybrid with slow paced thoughtful gameplay to a straight up FPS, fast paced with almost non stop action. Now don't get me wrong, Bioshock was a good game, but compared to the game it was derived from, it was an utter failure in my mind. It was dumbed down and "console-ified" to appeal to a mass audience. And appealing to the mass audience isn't appealing to a hardcore gamer like me.

I want more games like Deus Ex.
I want more games like Fahrenheit.
I want more games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl.
I want more games like Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines.
I want more games like Gothic 3.
I want more games like Two Worlds.
I want more games like X-Com: Apocalypse.
I want more games like Monkey Island.

I want more games that try to be a little innovative and think outside the box!

Now I'm not totally pessimistic; Spore will be out within a year, and it looks wonderfully different from everything else. Junction Point Studios, lead by Warren Spector, the man behind System Shock 2 and Deus Ex, among other innovative titles, is well on their way to releasing their first title, which has been in development for quite some time, and will likely be equally as innovative. Lord British, the guy behind Ultime Online, is trying to redefine the MMORPG with Tabula Rasa...

But the list shouldn't have stopped so abruptly. Where have all the REAL games gone? And the REAL gamers who played them?
Am i the only one who is getting a little disgruntled by the lack of innovation in most games? Am I the only one who wants more than generic first person shooter after generic first person shooter? Or am i just overreacting and getting all cranky because game developers insist on loading all their pc games with dozens of copy protection schemes that make it virtually impossible to play games conveniently without swapping discs non stop.... but you know what, that is a rant for another day.

I'm going to go get a pizza, and maybe play some Civilization IV. At least Sid Meier still knows how to make a quality title.


Well since it's been like a year i figured i'd throw something down here for the heck of it. Yup, im still alive. And No, no planes hit anything today that i know of. Woo. Let's have cake.

I got into the spirit to write reviews again, so if i can correctly remember the games i have played recently, i should be throwing up a lot of reviews soon. Speaking of which - why did they change the rating system? I want all the sliders back!

Eh, more later?

Of High Speed Internet and Copy Protection

A double blogging today. Long time since i've done one of these, i figured it was about time.

First off, i'd like to state that from now on im my game reviews, im going to be taking copy protection into account when reviewing a game. Why? Well, i like to be able to make a virtual image of my games with programs like Alcohol or Virtual CD so i dont have to rummage through original physical discs when i play games. Since a lot of games are making it harder and harder for me to do that, and some even put crazy software on my computer that tells me i have to uninstall those programs, i figure games that do mean things like that deserve to have a few points taken off their total scores. I'd like to request that anyone else who frequently reviews games do the same thing, because copy protection past the form of simple cd checks is worthless.

Next, i'd like to brag a bit about my high speed internet connection. (Hopefully this will give someone a little more insight into their cable modem internet access)

For about a decade now - literally since Cable modems were first available, i've had one. I actually have one of the first Linksys cable modems made - and its lasted me this whole time. Years ago my local providor got bought out by Comcast, and i currently have their 8mb down 768kb up service. (Fairly inexpensive if you have their basic cable as well. - maybe twice as expensive as DSL but many times faster.)

For years i'd been regularly running speed tests getting download speeds of around 4,700kbps down and 300kbps up.
I had recently upgraded from 6mb down to 8mb down, and noticed no download speed increase - but that was okay, because i had twice the download speed. Somewhere along the line a glitch on comcast's end messed things up, and long story short, i ended up buying a new modem even though the problem was on their end. Well, part of the problem.

Now that i have a new DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem (Linksys' newest cable modem model, BEFCMU10 i beleive.) i get truely astronomical download speeds. Im talking over 20,000kbps. over 20mbps! DSL just cant touch that.

Why am i posting about that? Well, besides wanting to brag just a little bit more, i want to encourage everyone that has an old DOCSIS 1.0 modem to upgrade to a new 1.1 / 2.0 modem. It will likely get you serious performance increases. (Assuming you have a cable provider that is using the DOCSIS 1.1 or 2.0 standards - Comcast is using 1.1, and im fairly sure most Cable internet subscribers are now under their umbrella.)

My Adventure with Linux

This is long. Read it if you have any interest in giving Linux a shot. I've recently tried it, and wanted to tell as many people about it as i could, so i figured id post my story here too.

A few months ago, i got a copy of Ubuntu linux. (Search for it on google, they will ship as many copies as you want, to your house, absolutely free of charge.) I didn't immediately install it, because my spare windows machine was pulling double duty as a file server for music files. After my roomate got her files off of it, which took quite some time, i figured it was time i finally went back to try linux again.

Now, i had tried Red Hat linux way back in the 90s, when it was said to be the easiest and best distrobution of linux. So, i didn't really expect Ubuntu to be as easy to install and configure as it claimed it would be. But i really underestimated it.

Dropping in the CD, and booting up, it only ever asked for 3 things from me - two of them being a username and password to create, and another being where to install it to. It was at this moment that it began to impress me. I have a long since dead hard drive still connected within my system, that is disabled in the bios because it would cause the system to halt on bootup due to the fact that its been slapped sensless by a power surge. Well, Ubuntu even picked up on the long dead drive, saw it 100% correctly, gave me the model number, manufacturer, and size, and said it would have no problem installing to it. Now thats something to brag about.

So i installed it, and like i said, it only asked me for those three things, other then the initial "what language do you want?" question. It took a little while, about the same as a fresh windows installation, and booted up in what was literally the blink of an eye. Now, when it was running windows, even a fresh install, bootup times were definately in the couple minute range. For reference, let me tell you what this system i installed linux into is rocking:

AMD Athlon T-Bird 1.4Ghz (133Mhz FSB)
512MB Corsair SDRAM
eVGA nVidia GeForce 3
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum
60 GB and 40 GB IDE Hard Drives
DVD ROM / Plextor CD-RW

By no means is this an ancient computer, but its certainly got some age behind it. If i remember correctly, it was built in the late 90s, 98 or 99, about the same time i had my first run in with linux, on my much older spare. Keep in mind, this  system was built by Alienware back in the day, when they were still relatively small and cared about each one of their customers. When it was first built, it could thrash through anything. And even now, it had been able to run everything i threw at it, although not as well as my newer gaming rig. Also, you should notice that this computer, which im running on right now typing this, is running on a 133mhz front side bus, and using SD ram, not DDR. (the front side bus of my new gaming rig is probably 1ghz or higher.)

Now that you know a little about the computer im using, back to the linux adventure.

So the computer boots up. Like i said, in a heartbeet. It takes a couple seconds to log in, and i notice t hat im looking at a 1600x1200 res desktop, that doesnt look too hard to navigate. (Thats impressive - windows defaults to 800x600, it doesnt even try to auto-detect what your video card or monitor is capable of.)

My first click is on the little globe icon in the upper left hand of the screen, which i had previously moused over and saw that it said, "Mozilla Firefox". It loads up firefox, in yet again, a relative heartbeat - in less time then my windows computer with much better specs generally loads it. And beleive it or not, its 100% configured for surfing the web! Thats right, i didn't have to configure a single thing to surf the web, Ubuntu did it all for me. Seriously - how easy is that?

Over the next couple days i just goofed around and experimented with the lovely OS. Turns out, it comes with almost everything i could possibly need, and the few things it doesnt come with, it has tutorials on how to get and set up, that seem easy enough for anyone to use.

For example, it comes with gAIM, a messaging tool that will connect to all of the IM networks, and does an exceptional job of it - a lot of these programs dont let you configure things that the real application would let you do - but not gaim, it lets you do everything, and so much more, because it has downloadable plugins, just like Mozilla Firefox!

It also rocks OpenOffice, a full office suite, that feels very similar to MS Office, and can read and write the very same files, so there are no compatibility problems. It's also got an IRC client, BitTorrent client, games out the wazoo, and a nifty "add / remove programs" button that actually lets you install applications from over the internet, unlike certain other add / remove programs applications.

Really, at this point, the only reason i could see for someone to not be using Linux, was if they were die hard PC gamers, as .exe isnt a native extension Linux can handle, and many games rely on windows dll files, even if it did know how to install them. Well, here comes the even cooler part.

There's a great program built into Ubuntu, caleld the Synaptic Package Manager. What does it do? Well, its sort of like a customizable version of the update software used in Windows. Instead of just being forced into what the devs want to give you, you have access to online repositories filled to the brim with all kinds of programs, tools, and extensions to make Linux bend even more to what you need it to be. In the case of the Windows PC Gamer, you can use the package manager to download WINE - which is essentially a windows emulator.

Okay, i lied. Its not an emulator, more so an integration tool. WINE creates a directory on a linux machine that has the file system of windows, and mounts your linux drives into the windows file system so you have full access to your PC in both linux and windows modes. It also integrates Windows dll files and whatnot, so that you can pop in a game disc, run the .exe file, and everything would happen as it would in Windows, without a clunky emulator interface getting in the way - its all done right in Linux.

I've played both Heroes of Might and Magic II and Deus Ex on this linux machine since, both near flawlessly. Im sure i could play more, but most of my games are in an image form and kept on a hard drive, and i have not yet gotten around to finding a nice way to mount images in linux as well as Alcohol does in Windows.

And heck, even if something didn't work, WINE and Ubuntu both have IRC channels, and wiki-sites full of information on how to get things working just right, and helpful people on just about 24/7.

So really, there is no reason at all why someone shouldnt switch to Linux.

 It's really that good. Although, i do beleive at this point WINE can't emulate StarForce copy protection... but then, if a CD has that copy protection on it, do you really want to buy it in the first place?

Long live Ubuntu. Go ahead people, give it a shot. I didn't even mention half of the cool things its capable of.

Annual Anti-Gamespot Ramblings

1 - I want to READ the results of the year end awards, not WATCH them. Gamespot employs WRITERS for a reason - I dont want to hear and see them make a half assed attempt at anything video based, unless their showing me footage from a game that wont be out for a long time - and even then, id much rather just read about it then have to put up with their on screen idiocy. Having the option to watch things is cool, i admit that, but for craps sakes, its like a publication like EGM or PCGamer giving you a disc with their year end awards in it that you have to pop into your dvd player to watch, rather then reading it in the bathroom or while you wait for your dentist to finish torturing your gums.
(And on a related note - almost all of the nominated games to compete in the contest were basic average games in my opinion. Thusly, my opinion that gamespot has been taking payoffs for a few years now continues. Half of those games dont even deserve to be talked about, let alone played.)

2 - The redesign is terrible. And i've taken plenty of time to get used to it too, i didn;t just complain right away - i gave it a chance. I used to be able to just pop into the home page of gamespot and see if there was any interesting news i cared about, at a glance. Now i have to go out of my way to do it. And if i want to add a game to my now playing list, i first have to add it to my tracked list, even if i dont want to - thats rediculous, you "upgrade" your site to allow for better "useability" and you actually get rid of some of its previous functions? Thats almost as stupid as trying the same thing a hundred times and expecting a different outcome.

3 - Firefox is a web browser too. Im sick and tired of clicking a picture and getting a garbled new window thats cut up into about a fourth of my screen for the picture, with the rest of the window being complete blackness, and only being able to see about an inch of the picture at a time without using the scrollbar at the bottom of the screen. What the heck is up with that? Can't your designers understand the basic principles of cross-platform compatibility? You know, standard HTML and the like? sheish!

--Merry Christmas.

Im back! My first post of the new year.

Yeah, i left gamespot several months ago because i felt they were doing a crappy job of reviewing games. Well, i've come to notice that maybe i just overreacted. I've found over the past few months that just about every publication and web site around over glorifiies many games that i feel are sub-par, and they all over hype new games coming out that i see absolutely no interest in whatsoever.

The only publication im even close to sharing an opinion with is PC Gamer, and even they get me angry with what i think are idiotic views and opinions from time to time. Apparently, im just much pickier then everyone else, or something. Well, i've decided to come back to the Gamespot community. Why? Well, most other websites just suck. IGN does some good work, but their site makes me cringe. Other sites just dont get enough information on the latest gaming news, and have nowhere near as large a community.

Not too long ago when i logged in i noticed i was one of the top 100 reviewers here at gamespot. Im not sure how much of an honor that is, and im still upset over loosing all my user trusts, (i had like 150 or so when they all dissapeard) But i figured what the heck, theres really nowhere else that i can go. So, friends, if you would, re trust me as a reviewer. I think i might get back to writing reviews here once i actually play a game thats new enough to review here. (Lately i've been playing some older games like Civilization 3)

So, thats right... Im back, and im going to deal with what i feel are idiotic opinions from reviewers from time to time, because this is probably the best gaming community on the net. Hey, not everyone can have my opinions. And even though they should, it doesnt make them a worse person or community because of it. :P

Gamespot Blows Monkey Nuts

Just look at their awards this year. Great games were nominated for their bad awards, and crappy ones for their good ones. The people who work at gamespot need to lay off the crack, its starting to interfere with their work.
*Insert mindless rambling and complaining about the games i like that gamespot doest like here*

Government Work.

Now im going to be officially busy all the time. My transfer finally went through for my job - i'll be back on a regular working schedule very shortly. (I was hired by the Deparment Of Homeland Security, FEMA Region III, at the start of the summer as a computer specialist / network guy. Around the end of november they told me they had to transfer me because my father also works there, in a position that would be diretly above me. (Thus the nepetizm laws blah blah blah.) Anyway, im pretty psyched, it was a great job while i was working in the Philadeplhia office, i hope it doesnt chance much when i switch over to the New York one.

Plus, now that Anarchy Online has become 100% free of charge, im playing it again. I had Beta tested it a very long time ago, but never wanted to fork out the cash to play it regularly, so i stopped when they officially released it. Nowadays its definately not the best MMORPG out there, but it still holds its own - especially when you're playing it totally free. (If you like MMORPGs you should check it out...

Sweet, Sweet Nectar.

One down.

Well i just finished my first play through of KotoR II, and i am certainly impressed... so impressed, im going to play it again.

KotoR2, woo!

I just got back from the store with my copy of Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic II. I havn't started to play yet, but i know once i start its going to be hard for me to stop. Once i get through most of the game i'll probably be writing a review for it, but for now, im off to have fun playing it. I only hope its as good as the original was.
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