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The Walking Dead and normalizing blasphemy

The following dialogue lines in Episode 3 of The Walking Dead game really caught my attention:

  • "Oh [f-word] God"--Kenny
  • "God, you're just a real son of a [b-word] aren't you?!"--Omid

It is no secret that the percentage of atheists among decision makers in the gaming and media industries is far, far greater than the percentage of atheists in the general public. Of course you cannot easily prove such a claim, because nobody is obliged to declare any religious beliefs in the West, especially not at work, but anyone who follows the writings, announcements, and quotes of several decision makers in these industries can easily agree. Now, normally we would not have a problem with that; after all, matters of faith fall under free will. However, the problem is that these individuals actively put a significant effort, especially in more recent years, to push forward their views, subtly promote atheism, subtly undermine belief in deities generally and especially undermine monotheism. And in the last 3 years or so, some have been moving into the zone of outright blasphemy and insulting or mocking God, sometimes subtly in an underhanded manner and sometimes obviously, in your face just like that. And it's all being pushed forward and accepted by some under a false, misleading banner of "freedom of speech"; as if "hate speech" is the same thing as "speech", or as if hate speech against God or against billions who believe in God is the only allowed hate speech, but certainly not hate speech against a country or so...a country is apparently more sacred than God in those people's mind, or maybe they think that hate speech against a country can lead to war but hate speech against God and the believers in God cannot or should not lead to war! So basically, it is wrong to practice hate speech against a country, and no one can blame its countrymen if they wage war because of that hate speech, but if hate speech is practiced against God or believers in God, then that is alright and if the believers dare wage war because of it, then they're just overzealous fanatics! Hehe. See, the hypocrisy taught, propagated, and accepted by some people is just...overwhelming, to the degree of being bitterly funny.

Some readers may be thinking now in their mind that I'm blowing things out of proportion, but I assure you that I'm writing very calmly and rationally. And my words are not the result of two dialogue phrases that I heard in one game, but the result of observations of a trend that has been increasing lately. Blasphemous lines or in other words, phrases that directly insult God can be heard in games like The Darkness, Grand Theft Auto 4, The Walking Dead, and an example of a game that uses fictional names that insult, degrade, or mock God in a subtle, underhanded manner via portmanteaus (words made up from other words) that start with "God" is...Guild Wars 2! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, atheists actually mock and insult God habitually, even in games now, and even though they supposedly do not believe He exists! Why attack or insult something that--in your belief--does not exist? I can't find any reason other than sheer hatred and spite. So much for a belief system that allegedly wants to avoid war, because allegedly its antithesis caused war, eh?

Now, regarding the lines above from The Walking Dead, I completely understand the ways that they can be "explained away", and that's exactly why the lines became reality in the game's dialogue, I assure you. Of course such verbal attacks and blasphemy must be either subtle or explainable, otherwise the creators of the game would not have risked it; because at the end of the day, they want to mock and insult God alright, they want to push forward and promote their views alright, but they also want to make money while doing it. That's what makes them feel the most powerful and self-admiring in today's world. So yes, I know that Kenny's line was spoken at such a sad, sad moment--very emotional stuff, but also notice that the writers of the game did not just use the notorious, repulsive line that many atheists and polytheists parrot nowadays, "Oh my...[insert insult]...god", no, they upgraded that line (and that was always the plan, by the way) from "my god"...to "God". So the insult now is not against the so-called "god" of the real-life zombie who parrots the expression, it is now against "God"...it's not "my god" or "your god" anymore, but..."God". And what do we have before God? The f-word verb. Secondly, I know that Omid's line is supposedly meant to be the expression "God!", or "Oh God!", followed by the bantering, humorous swear against Lee, the main character of the story. I understand that that's what superficially or is apparently meant, but I just want you to read the line a few times, pay close attention to the little details: check the punctuation, that it's a comma following God and not an exclamation mark, for example; check the specific choice of swearing (sneer against Christian beliefs maybe?); ask yourself why "you're [just] a real..." and not "you're a real..."

My point is that the writers of such media productions do their work and send their messages usually in a subtle, covert manner. So if reading behind the lines doesn't come to you easily, then you need to really work on it to be able to see those underhanded insults and understand their covert messages. On the other hand, if you think everything is a coincidence and you don't like "reading too much into it", then I'm suprised you're even still reading this blog post; there's litte I can do for someone like you at this stage, and you just have to take your own journey into looking deeper at things and understanding the purposeful nature of everything in the universe. No, it's not about assuming; it's about seeing patterns in the repetitive productions around us, then finding the purpose(s) of each of those patterns.

Fallout and what's the big deal with Bethesda?

I really never understood what the big deal with Bethesda is. I actually absolutely love Fallout I and II, and would really hope that a company other than Bethesda gives us Fallout 4, because the Fallout universe deserves much better than Fallout 3.

From my perspective, Bethesda is only really good in one thing: developing and designing a sandbox open world, period. Other than that, they really should give many other things to other developers. Animation is downright stiff, jarring, and unnatural in many of their even recent games, including Fallout 3 and Skyrim; for example, look at how the feet connect with the ground when walking & changing direction in Skyrim; it feels like a game animated 8-years-ago, which is very jarring when put together with the admittedly gorgeous fauna & world looks around. Voice acting of most of the characters is...just wrong, boring, uninspired. Bethesda only did well in voice acting for [some] characters when they started using some of the voice actors used in other games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. And finally, storytelling and directing just aren't Bethesda's strong points at all...something just feels wrong, bland, and uninteresting about all their stories.

I have never, ever finished a single Bethesda game until this day, and I finished hundreds of games, starting with old classics like Fallout 1 and 2, Diablo 1 & 2, Doom II, Warcraft 2, Grim Fandango, and the Secret of Monkey Island, through old-ish to recent-ish ones like GTA 3, Max Payne, F.E.A.R, Assassin's Creed, Gears of War, Uncharted 1 & 2, and Half Life, and all the way to the much more recent ones like Battlefield 3, Max Payne 3, Alan Wake, Mass Effect 2 & 3, Dragon Age 1 & 2, L.A. Noire, The Witche 1 and 2. I gave so many examples intentionally, to show how versatile my gaming has been and continues to be, although to a less extent as I've pretty dropped RTS from the "finishing" or "beating" zone for me; and to emphasize that I have [finished] all those games...played them from beginning to end and saw them through, and loved it almost all the time. But a single Bethesda game? No. Not a singe Bethesda game has enticed me to be patient with it until the end. And every time they release something new, I believe the hype & the visuals impress me, so I go and buy it, and regret it dearly when I realize that the game doesn't keep my interest long enough for me to finish even 25% of the story! If there was any real story there to begin with, that is. I spent hours in Elder Scrolls 3, but never finished or was curious enough to; Oblivion fascinated me with visuals, but that faded away too soon; Fallout 3 looked (AND sounded!) disappointingly a lot more Bethesda-ish than Fallout-ish, and again I couldn't persist. Skyrim...they game closer to a litte better storytelling in the beginning, but still...something is wrong with the directing, most of the voice acting, some of the animation, and maybe another element that I can't quite put my hand on.

I really wish that Bethesda leaves Fallout alone, and gives it to another developer & they only publish it. BioWare would give the Fallout world the storytelling & voice acting it deserves, but BioWare would do a sandbox open-world horribly as the graphics of the Mass Effect series can testify. The only studios that I can think of to give the Fallout world the production that it deserves, in terms of storytelling, voice acting, well-done animations across the board, and also beautiful visuals in an open world and without the problems that we saw in Mass Effect...are the Rockstar studios behind GTA 4 and perhaps Uncharted's Naughty Dog. These are the only studios that I can personally trust with the Fallout universe if I were a decision maker. Of course all this is hypothetical because Bethesda owns the Fallout TM now...but I just hope there are others out there who can understand what I'm talking about and eventually Bethesda gets the message, especially if a Fallout MMO is really planned (which would be expected frankly).

Assassin's Creed: Is it based on real life and history?

The funniest thing about the near-perfect, surely classic first game of the series, Assassin's Creed, is that it is brought to you by Freemasons, at least the decision makers and main executives behind the game, so you can battle the former Freemasons, the Knights Templar, based on partially true events, or actual history.

The amount of truth and real history in Assassin's Creed is surprising. The amount of truth and honest representation in the game of Illuminati or Freemasonic thinking is staggering, even perplexing. Why would Freemasons or the Illuminati share with gamers so much truth and have them fight against the ancestors of Freemasons, the Templars? I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise. The Illuminati, after all, like to play such tricks; it makes them feel more superior than the masses, and in a way, they are quite right. After all again, most people who would read this blog post are gonna laugh at me, and pull the "tin foil" and so-called "conspiracy theory" jokes and lines of half-witty sarcasm. Most people cannot fathom that this is real life and real history. And they'd never, ever imagine that the Illuminati themselves are letting you fight them in a game. It's all really ridiculous indeed. I myself can't claim that I fully understand it, and that's a big reason why those elite do what they do...it gives them a limitless sense of superiority to confuse even the intelligent and well-read among "outsiders" or the riffraff.

Anyway, the point is that for anyone who cares about all this or studies and reads about such things in the world, you should know that Assassin's Creed was brought to you at least paritally by the Knights Templars themselves, who are simply called the Freemasons today, as you should already know if you studied these things before. And the signs of the game being brought to you, at least partially, by them are there if you know what to look for. And the Illuminati are just the leaders or elite of the elite, so to speak; "Illuminati" is not some tin-foil, conspiracy theory umbrella term; it's actually just a non-official umbrella term for the leaders of the Freemasons, or their elite.

For the rest, continue to "lol" your life away, and don't concern yourself with what you just read; nobody cares about your sarcasm, nor do you look remotely witty or intelligent babbling it. This is a note to whom it may concern, that's all.

Problems of Mass Effect final chapter and ending

Warning: Major Mass Effect 3 spoilers...obviously!

To all the people arguing about the ending, I believe that I can resolve the problem for you. First of all, we all know great movies that we loved and they had sad endings or the protagonist died in the end, so the problem with ME3 is not Shepard's fate in the end; the real problem was with the HOW of it. See, BioWare invested us emotionally against a specific enemy in ME1 and especially ME2, remember the enemy? The Reapers. BioWare also invested us emotionally against the personification of that enemy; remember who I'm talking about? The Harbinger. Think of that and keep it in mind for a while; remember everything that enemy and its personification, your nemesis, did to you, your friends, and your fellow humans. Remember that by the time ME2 ends, we have major unfinished business with the Reapers, and especially with the Harbinger. Now let's fast-forward to ME3 and fast-forward through ME3 too; where are the Reapers? Are they the real enemy that you absolutely hate in ME3? Nope! They were replaced by the stupid, traitorous, brainwashed SOBs, Cerberus, and our fight against the Reapers in ME3, our hatred against them pretty much fades and shrinks compared to how things are against Cerberus. And the Harbinger? Totally, 100% gone, poof, never to be seen or talked to again...magically doesn't even taunt us anymore! And which evil personification, nemesis, replaced the Harbinger? Yep, Elusive Man. But wait...what about the unfinished business with...? Nah, BioWare doesn't care about what they did to us emotionally in ME2. And the worst thing is...in the very end, they don't even let you really hate the Reapers...Shepard is just standing there in front of a CHILD...who is supposedly representing the Reapers and everything they did to you, your friends, and humanity...you see the psychological catastrophe here when they place a CHILD to represent that final moment? And they take it even one step further...they tell you that the BEST and most noble choice is to make nice with them...synthesize, become one with the machines, change humanity into something else, and that's the inevitable ending anyway, so you might as well choose it now. And look, it's really sweet...your pilot will have sex with the robot. That's the major problem with ME3, and its ending, ladies and gentlemenbesides other secondary problems. And why did they do such a thing and really mess it up, thinking that they're ending the saga in an epic, dramatic way? Because the dramatic ending was always there, but got corrupted by the dodgy progagandist agenda of Transhumanism. Unfortunately, ME was hijacked to spread Transhumanism, that's all. I really hope someone rights these wrongs one day, and gives us back the beautiful story and fictional universe we got to know as Mass Effect.

The mistakes and Little Things in the best games

Warning: This post contains spoilers about games, and you'll usually know which game will have have spoilers when I start talking about it by name.

While playing some of the fairly well-known and some of the best-rated games nowadays, I found myself contemplating certain things...little things, and little mistakes or shortcomings. I'm a big believer in that sometimes the "little things" make the biggest difference in a game (or a movie for that matter); and at the end of the day, the line between movies and games is getting blurier by the month today, so much that I keep feeling inclined to call the former "audiovisual entertainment" and the latter "interactive entertainment". At least this way, non-gamers, our spouses or wives or partners, relatives and friends, may take us a bit more seriously. After all, when we tell them that our interactive entertainment can actually be a lot more entertaining, engaging, immersive, and fun (at least when it's built on a good story and good voice acting) than their audiovisual entertainment, which can only be enjoyed passivelywatched, they may stop for a moment and thing that that actually does make sense.

Anyway, I feel a strong urge to share some of the little things, and perhaps some of the not-so-little things, which may still seem trivial for a portion of gamers out there, which all make a big difference for some of the best games out there, and maybe for some of the underrated ones too.

I'm playing Alan Wake at the time of writing this post (yeah, a bit of catching up here), and one of the "little things", which I really appreciated, was a scene where Alan is interrupted by his friend, Barry, and guess what? Remedy has done that little interruption perfectly...a proper interruption, where Barry's first few words being said are actually "mixed" with Alan's last few words, i.e. you can hear them both talk over each other. To many people, that may seem very trivial, but not to me at all, and hey, that's exactly why this blog post has "Little Things" in its title; sometimes little things really do inspire to appreciate the directing and finishing of games. And I strongly believe that any game developer who would like to develop a new "classic"...something that gamers would continue to play and love for years, and became rabid fans of the developer for, then they must really pay attention to those little things. Now, why is this interruption thing such a big deal to me? Well, because it happens repeatedly in a game series that is very well-written and superbly voice acted like the Mass Effect series. But very unfortunately, the technical implemention of a character interrupting another in the Mass Effect series is a quite jarring for me, and really breaks my immersion while playing when it happens, because in the Mass Effect trilogy, and probably all other games I played, interruption happens in that ridiculous way that makes you feel like the line was recorded by the actor as he stops in the end, and when the game finishes playing that audio file, then it plays the next audio file, which happens to be for the next actor or character who is supposedly interrupting the first; but, of course, because there is quite a comfortable stop or half a second of silence between both lines, it makes you feel like there was no interruption, and the first actor or character just stopped talking and allowed the next character to interrupt. The whole thing just feels artificial, jarring, and ridiculous, especially when the story is very immersive and the voice acting is very well done. I wish there was a real Quality Checking time and work put in such games to avoid such things. I wish I worked in such a department to strive to produce an almost perfected game.

I also have some other thoughts about Mass Effect 3, and why it was very disappointing for many fans. Of course, the laziness and cheapness of the stock-photo for Tali (even if the picture is beautiful and all) was a bit insulting...and jarring. Not showing Tali's face at all would've been worse, though; it would really break the immersion when you know that "Shepard" can and did see Tali's face, but "you" can't; after all, if you [are] Shepard, then you should be able to see Tali's face.

Another, much bigger problem with Mass Effect 3 was the story. In Mass Effect 2, BioWare basically made the Reapers your real enemy, and everyone's common enemy, and they also made the Harbinger your nemesis...Shepard nemesis, and the personification of your enemy in the game. And when ME2 ended, obviously there was unfinished business with the Harbinger; in fact, you didn't finish [any] business at all with him! And then what did they do in Mass Effect 3? All of a sudden, the Harbinger is completely gone...and you actually don't quite feel that the Reapers are your real enemy anymore; actually, throughout the game, your hatred starts to grow towards Cerberus, and your personified nemesis suddenly becomes the Illusive Man, not the Harbinger! And while all that would've been fine and dandy had there been a Mass Effect 4, where Shepard (or you) would have gotten rid of the Cerberus "menace" (and it sure as hell should've just stayed just a menace rather than your real enemy in the finale, and your fourth and final journey becomes focused on the Reapers, personified in the Harbinger...that wasn't what BioWare did. BioWare actually decidid to make the game just a trilogy, and ended the damn series very disappointingly after a final journey mainly focused on Cerberus and the emotional hatred towards it, which distracted us as players from the hatred towards the Reapers and the Harbinger and all what they did to our friends and fellow humans throughout the series, and distracted us from the unfinished business with the Harbinger. And to our dismay, or at least to the dismay of thousands of fans who felt very empty after finishing Mass Effect 3 but couldn't quite understand why they felt so empty and like the whole thing was meaningless, the game ends without us even facing the Harbinger or talking to it a single time! Can you imagine how horrible and empty that would feel after all the emotions invested in Mass Effect 2 and its characters and events and sacrifices?

Many people think that the emptiness and disappointment was mainly because of Shepard's fate, but I strongly believe that's not it at all. BioWare probably wanted to create an epic saga or trilogy that would forever remain in the memories of gamers and fans, especially with its finale, by their decision to make Shepard's fate go that way in the end; alas, I think they messed up big time and didn't end up creating that classic of a trilogy. And although their writing and storytelling remained superb, I think they were blinded from seeing the huge flaw of that shift of invested emotion from Reapers to Cerberus, and blinded from realizing that they were creating a huge emptiness with the unfinished business (that will always remain unfinished now, no matter what's done and no matter what DLC they produce), I think they were blinded from seeing all this, and missed their chance at creating a long-lasting saga for several reasons, but most importantly I think it is because they succumbed to beating the drum of a dodgy propagandist agenda called Transhumanism...promoting it very clearly and subconsciously convincing gamers to like it and be convinced with it. And secondly, because of little messed up, budget or greed-related decisions (regardless to whether they came from EA or BioWare) like the whole stock-photo thing with Tali, rather than doing the right thing, and we all know what the right emotional thing would be in this case.

Other little things, half-cooked romance options and scenes that in no way even compared to the relationships and scened built in Mass Effect 2. And turning one of the most awaited characters ever, Ashley, from a beloved character to many, who could've made an epic return, and had the most exciting and beautiful relationship ever in ME3...into one of the most offensive characters around Shepard in ME3...pretty much the only crew member who mistrusts Shepard for so long, even if they were in love back in ME1! Imagine how repelled and offended you would be if the woman you loved keeps questioning your loyalty to your country as a soldier, and keeps questioning your integrity, and even suspects you for a liar although you reassured her of where you stand, and she still won't believe you! That is supposed to be a woman who really loved you? And then later on she goes as far as to point a gun at you? I really don't understand what BioWare was thinking destroying the memory of Ashley, and the beauty of a relationship with her in the finale, that way. But it really was such a shame to see and experience, especially for a player who kept looking at Ashley's picture until the very end of ME2, and took one last look before the suicide mission.

BioWare really, really messed up in ME3, and in many ways. And again, I wish I had been there as a decision maker to convince the team members to not do things that way, and to find the middle ground, the ideal solution that can satisfy as many parties invested and concerned as possible.

These thoughts will probably continue, but for now, back to playing Alan Wake and trying to forget what BioWare did to our beloved series and its characters and story...

Thoughts on losses due to piracy and the other side of piracy

All due politeness, guys, and all due respect to the moral value of refraining from theft or gaining access to other people's products without their permission, it is very misleading (and perhaps interestingly pointless) to refer to "losses due to piracy", especially misleading to actually try to quantify such losses! I mean, seriously, are you counting how many pirated copies of a game were downloaded to calculate the losses? Why?! Are you blindly assuming that all those downloaded copies must have been bought if they were not pirated? Isn't that—at least—a bit absurd? You really think that a teenager from a developing country, where a $30 product basically may cost 300 units of his local currency, which simultaneously happens to be two-week salary for the average job (that 300 whatever, pounds / lira / etc), would have BOUGHT the game if he could not download a pirated copy of it? Hah. Wishful thinking really.

Let's face it, guys: no less than 90% of those who download a pirated copy of a game would have NEVER bought the game, ever, if they could not download it. So it really is completely pointless, and extremely misleading to assume or claim that because 1000 pirated copies were download then that's a loss of $30 x 1000 = $30,000. That logic is flawed, because it is purely theoretical and completely detached from real life.

And don't get me wrong...I do NOT condone piracy at all; I do believe it is theft, because it is gaining access to someone's product or fruit of labor without that someone's permission, but I passionately urge gaming companies, leaders, decision makers, corporate strategists, profit ***res, whoever you are and wherever you are, to see part of the other side of piracy that actually [may] have some benefits to you: the more your game is pirated and downloaded, the more it becomes popular, the more it is talked about, the more the word about it gets spread, and the higher the chance that an honest, paying customer is going to be enticed or extremely tempted to buy it. I passionately, earnestly urge you to please NOT implement frustrating, aggravating anti-piracy or digital rights management measures that compromise the fun and gratitude and appreciation of your paying customers. Please do not force me, as an honest, paying customer to be online every single second I want to play your game. Do not force me to have internet connection so I can start to play your game.

Do not force me to update your game before playing its single-player non-online campaign. Do not force me to register your game. Yes, yes, encourage me to do all that, give me incentives to do all that, but please do not FORCE me to do any of it. It really makes me genuinely hate you as a publisher or developer, and it seriously compromises my appreciation of the game itself, even if it is a brilliant game. Believe me, I will always remember the frustration that you made me feel before I was able to play your game, and as soon as your game becomes old news, yesterday's news, and I start to look for new things to do, new fun, the first thing I'll remember about your game (even if I had hundreds of hours of multiplayer or single-player fun playing it) would be the painful process of registration and forced DGM measures, etc. etc. Try to make money all you want, but realize that punishing your honest, paying customers is far from a way to help you make more profit.

Also try to see that there is at least a tiny other side of the coin, or other side of piracy, that can help YOU gauge how actually fun and popular your game truly is. Again, I am NOT condoning piracy, and I do believe it is theft; I would not encourage it, participate in it, nor facilitate it for anyone; ALL I'm saying is that if it is simply a reality of life and a reality of your industry, then try to make your own life easier and less stressful by seeing at least one tiny bright side to it....it makes your game more popular, and it may very well also add hundreds of thousands of hours of your game being played if those thousands of gamers using a pirated copy also have a program like Xfire or Raptr installed, right? Because those programs are going to count the many hours of your game being played. Those really and truly are a few bright sides to the piracy that some of you so vehemently, so frenziedly right against that you takes us, honest paying customers in your crusade, and inadvertently make our lives a bit miserable, and make us hate your company rather than feel pure gratitude and appreciation towards it.

My painful experience with (Origin and Battlefield 3), and some thoughts

I bought Battlefield 3, and all I wanted after it was delivered was to insert the discs, install the game, and get right into it...start playing the campaign. And maybe, just MAYBE, let the "patch" or update download in the background from fileplanet or gamespot downloads or something, so that by the time I'm done with the campaign or have tried it for a few hours, I can jump into multiplayer too. What I found was a completely different experience, a bitter experience; what I found was the Origin.

What is the Origin I found, you ask? Origin was a weird sort of glorified, covert FORCED registration to begin with (to ensure that neither I nor any other buyer can re-sell your game if we thought it's crappy or just not good enough for us or just not good value for our money or not fun or whatever). Origin was a messed up updating procedure that refused to let me just friggin' "Play Now Without Updates", no matter how many times I pressed the button, tried, or begged it; and the weirdest, most infuriating thing of all, it kept sending me to an ONLINE page every time I pressed that button, an online page that had a redundant and—at the same time—sadistic button titled "Launch Campaign". Excuse me? Whah? Launch CAMPAIGN?! Where am I again? Is this the "internets" or the game interface? OMG, is this a webpage?!! Oh wait, yes, that's the uber awesome BATTLELOG! Awww, I get it. Yeah. The Battlelog. Very progressive. Very...very...very friggin'...is this button working?! No, it's not...it pops up yet a third...or fifth (I lost count) pop-up window or new interface or new cute surprise saying "update needed" or something else along those lines, which I couldn't bother to replicate right now. Origin took 16 hours on an already painful wireless internet connection to look like it filled that download bar of a 3.9 gigabyte update (3.9!!!! That's a freakin' half-game, isn't it?), but in the end, it was just teasing me, tricking me, no more. Origin re-downloaded no less than 1.2 gigabyte of those 3.9, and it spent the last two hours of those 16 hours pretending to be downloading at the regular speed, with the download bar full; I had to wake up, take a look for a few minutes at the download that should have finished two hours ago, figure out something weird was going on, close Origin down, re-start it, and watching the bar go back to 83% from 100%, thus re-downloading 0.6 gigabyte. And I had to wait yet 1.5-2 more hours on the same half-reliable wireless internet connection for the update to finish...for that glorified, highly acclaimed game that everyone was talking about, and I was eager to play.

That is your Origin, and that was my experience with Origin. Other companies are forcing its customers to get or be online for overzealous copy-protection measures and procedures, just to be able to play a game that they had already paid for, and now Origin is forcing me not just to be online for 2 minutes for an overzealous copy-protection measure, but to be online for 18 hours or more, without even taking a single look at the single-player campaign, just to download a full 4-gigabyte update using software that is far from reliable in resuming broken download, and far from reliable in even finishing the download properly. This is what we, honest paying customers with integrity, are getting, and this is what we get it for actually wanting to—sometimes and not 24/7—join an online community of similar gamers and engage in multiplayer fun, while everyone is talking about how people who get the pirated copies of games need to be online only while downloading the game (maybe while sleeping the whole download time), and waking up to just go through a sometimes ridiculously easy process of "pirating" the game, and they can start playing immediately, no fuss, no forced registrations, no regrets on wasted money if the game is crap, and so on and on.

Honestly? I'm not sure if all this is worth it. I know the people reading this message may genuinely empathize or sympathize at least or understand where I'm coming from, or maybe not. But I also know that their corporate leaders, the people sitting up high on the corporate ladder of the huge corporations that publish our games, could not care less for treating customers in a respectful, or at least polite way, and a in a trusting way. To them, we're all crooks who would never pay for an entertainment service, even if it was delivered respectfully and considerately, and even if it truly is high-quality and offers hours of multiplayer fun. So those leaders send down overzealous orders that compels their paid programmers (who know pretty damn well that other passionate programmers WILL be able to hack their methods) to come up with the most overzealous, most ridiculous ways of digital copy-protection, and forced registration, and enforcement of no reselling (their bosses want more profit, more money, more and more), and so on and on. Would a corporate leader actually read this message and feel any empathy or sympathy like you do? You better not be naive.

What to do? Well, try to write a message like this one sometime, and send it to the company in question. The corporate leaders won't care about one or two messages, but they will easily dismiss them as "isolated incidents", but when they start reading thousands of messages, they will hopefully link them to bad publicity and loss of their cherished profit, and perhaps be FORCED to drop their overzealous policies and forced registrations and what have we...perhaps. And until this whole ridiculous charade of glorified, covert copy-protection, DRM, forced registrations, and anti-reselling policies are dropped by corporate game publishers and their greedy leaders, we should boycott what we can; they only keep doing it because we drool on our entertainment "fix" and let them, but if we don't let them, they'll learn to show us some proper respect, even if a lot of us gamers are just teenagers, and I'm not a teenager but I respect quite a few mature teenagers that I met.

Thoughts on Dragon Age series and immersive emotional attachment to characters

Spoiler Alert: This blog post has spoilers on both, Dragon Age and Dragon Age II. If you have not finished both games and you are planning to play them or either, then do not read it!

Witch Hunt was such an awful letdown. I still can't believe they did that to Morrigan and her memory in the minds of so many of us gamers who loved the character for one reason or another, and were immersed into her story within our story. What's even more frustrating and disappointing is that we do not play Dragon Age II as who we were in DA, the Grey Warden, the Hero of Ferelden; thus, we don't know what has become of Morrigan.

And they had the audacity to make us meet Alistair in DA2...drunk, wretched, and the shell of the man he used to be. The worst thing about that meeting was that I, as the player, was not meeting him as his best friend, the Grey Warden, and hero of Ferelden. I can't imagine a more cruel way of "rewarding" us for doing the right thing, making the right decision in Dragon Age. Alistair's hunger for revenge has blinded him, and kept him from honoring the values of the Grey Wardens, the values that Duncan himself would've wanted to uphold, and not just that, but also seeing the more sensible choice of allowing Loghain to go through the Joining ritual, thus leaving his fate to the Maker, and upholding the value of accepting anyone who has the skill in the Grey Wardens ranks. When I made the right decision, as a player, and accepted Loghain's surrender, and allowed him to go through the Joining ritual, I lost Alistair, as a best friend and brother of a Grey Warden, after we spent so much time together building that army and reaching that very point when he chose to depart. And after all this, I get rewarded for making the right decision by seeing him that way in a rundown tavern, drunk, and not even as the Hero of Ferelden, but as another character...so I couldn't even talk to him properly. I think that was cruel of the decision makers, and it all adds up with the disregard shown to Morrigan as a character.

I don't know what they're planning for Dragon Age III, but really...if this kind of treatment of our emotional attachments in the story and lore of the game continues, then I really won't appreciate it. Games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect today are so superbly written, so excellently directed, and so well acted by the voiceover actors and actresses, that players can very much relate to events just like some people relate to events in a drama movie and even have their eyes watering sometimes. Lots of people are willing to accept someone crying from a movie scene, but they aren't as willing to accept an emotional attachment from a player to a character in his party or so...when logic itself dictates that it is much easier and more predictable that a person would get emotionally attached to a story that she herself or he himself is part of, or even a main character in...and in a game, players can spend dozens of hours playing it, being direclty engaged in the events, not just 2 hours watching a movie and being completely separate & detached from its events. Accordingly, I think that game producers and directors today should be a lot more careful on what they do with the characters that they get players attached to.

I really think that Dragon Age's decision makers' treatment of Alistair and Morrigan as such influential characters of DA was just cruel...cruel to the players who have spent hours playing their game. And the only way they can atone for such cruel treatment is to give us some answers and allow us to "help" in DA3. Otherwise, I really won't be feeling that good about the DA series. Yes, of course I'll be a fan and all, but I just won't feel as good about the series as I would if the decision makers would respect the memory of those characters and give us, as players, some closure, appropriate closure too.

Perhaps to be continued...

A mouse to play your FPS or no deal

Really. Why would anyone bother with first-person shooters on today's consoles, or without a mouse?

I can understand if someone has no other choice but to play a game like Modern Warfare 2on X360, because they cannot afford a computer system that is powerful enough to run it (and that's if Modern Warfare 2 played without lagging on the PC, which it doesn't, and this is why I don't bother with MW2 at all...never played its multiplayer). But if you have a high-end PC, why on earth would you bother with any FPS game on a console today?!

I have X360 and PS3. I've played Halo 1 on the PC, enjoyed Halo 2 on the co-op mode on X360, never bothered with any other Halo game. The only reason I picked Killzone 2 on the PS3 and finished it was that almost everything about the game was good, except the story, and the graphics especially were amazing...but even the graphics didn't look [that] good on a true-1080p 32" HD TV, basically you'd see a hint of jaggies on environment elements that are a bit farther from you. And I must say that I didn't enjoy Killzone 2 that much, mainly due to feeling absolutely gimped when it comes to targetting or aiming, using the damn gamepad all the time.

I've heard lots of people say that aiming with the gamepad gets easier with time or training. But it was absolutely clear to me that no matter how much I train, I can never reach the same level of skill that I have when using the mouse. I basically compared how fast I am getting better at using the gamepad to aim, and how fast I got better when using the mouse, and it is crystal clear to me that I feel much more in control using the mouse, and can be pinpoint accurate like 4x easier than when using a gamepad. This is obviously why you have auto-aim or aim-assist on console FPSs while the feature is very rare for PC games. Gamepads are clearly gimped when it comes to aiming or headshots, and naysayers are mainly people who overestimate their targetting skill on console FPSs and industry professionals who inflate the fun-factor of console gaming over PC gaming merely for profit. It is obvious that many companies profit more from console games, so it makes sense that you see console-exclusive games and in the marketing material find every possible reasonto choose the console version over the PC version. But for those of us who have been on both sides of the fence, we know that mouse & keyboard FPS gaming is superior in every way to gamepad console gaming.Which is also why they never pit PC users against console users in any game...the difference of skill and advantageis going to frustrate console gamers to depression.

Until PS3 FPS games can be played using a mouse (regardless to a keyboard or pad for the other hand), I will always stick to the PC when playing FPS games. If any industry professional is reading, I'd like you to know that I only rentedModern Warfare 2to finish the single player campaign, and never bothered withits multiplayer at all. I know my experience in this example may not matter that much because the game already brought too much profit, especially from the console, but there it is.

Give me a mouse to play your FPS, or I won't give you a penny for your FPS, no matter how critically acclaimed, well reviewed, or well played it is. Period.

Vanguard on Insanity: Bonus Powers, Best Companions, Safe Charge Tactics

Mass Effect 2: Vanguard, Insanity Difficulty - Bonus Powers, Companions, Safe Charge Tactics


I am not by any means claiming to be an expert on the Vanguard path or the game, so although the main purpose of this post is to give some quick and dirty tips for beginners and players choosing the Vanguard for the first time, my secondary objective is to prompt the Mass Effect 2 community here for their own input, tips, and feedback.

So feel free to provide polite, constructive criticism, while realizing that we all discover new things that take us by surprise sometimes. And add your own tips and discoveries.

The Charge tactics of this short guide are about ONE method of fighting, considered the safe one. It is NOT the only way to play Vanguard; another very popular method is Charging as much as possible and focusing on using a lethal shotgun, and there is plenty of info elsewhere on that st-yle.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive or thorough guide; just information on bonus powers, companions, and safe charge tactics.

I'll also be using the word path instead of "c-l-a-s-s", and st-yle spelt that way, because of a strange restriction here on the forums; they're working on it.


Recommended Bonus Power:

Remember to choose a Bonus Power that compliments the companions that you will choose (see next section). Starting with most highly recommended:

  1. Reave: works on armor, can be used without staying out of cover for too long, boosts your health if used on a stripped enemy (one without shields or armor), so a bit of extra survivability
  2. Inferno Grenade: effective on armor, can be used without staying out of cover for too long
  3. Armor-Piercing Ammo: effective on armor, benefit can be shared with squad if you desire
  4. Fortification, Barrier, or Geth Shield Boost: extra survivability

Recommended Companions:

Remember to choose companions that compliment the Bonus Power that you chose (or will choose again using the Research terminal).

  1. Miranda: Overload (for shields) and Warp (for armor).
  2. Garrus: Overload and Armor-Piercing Ammo.
  3. Zaeed: Disruptor Ammo (for shields) and Inferno Grenade (for armor).
  4. Whoever the heck you want!

Safe Charge:

  • Treat Charge as a battle finisher; so either the final blow to kill or the one that precedes a few melees to finish off the enemy.
  • Use Charge only on enemies that have been stripped of their shields and armor (with a red health bar).
  • Use Charge on enemies near cover, so you can immediately move behind that cover. Know your next move after you Charge.


I've read a few times on forums that many people think that the Vanguard is "underpowered". So I'll be trying to prove this claim false, show you that the Vanguard is actually a typical "high-risk, high-reward" path, and--partially--because of that, it can be arguably the most fun path in the game for many people. How come? Mainly due to how you need to think tactfully and strategically (on Hardcore and Insanity difficulties at least) for a minute or two of fighting to soften enemies up, all for the final sweet reward: Charge of course!

Yes, one way (certainly not the only) to enjoy and love this path is to think of the "Charge" power as a final reward for each challenging battle. And it is one heck of a battle finisher really. There is another method of fighting, but I'll come to that later.

Recommended Bonus Power:

Some people recommend Warp Ammo, and I think that's mainly due to its multi-purpose nature. Warp Ammo works moderately well with armor and shields, and it is potently lethal against red-healthbar enemies under the effect of biotics (mainly Pull really as I don't see any other biotic possibility for a Vanguard or his companions to allow you to effectively shoot the enemy for a few seconds).

From my experience with Warp Ammo as a Vanguard, I felt that it was a "lazy" option, and its main strength (naked enemies under the effect of biot...Pull) is actually counter-productive with respect to fun. I mean, if the enemy is naked of any shields and armor, then what the heck am I doing, shooting it? I should CHARGE the damn thing, and if I can't Charge it for one reason or another, then Shredder Ammo, for example, won't require me to Pull before I can shoot it effectively. I reckon Warp Ammo should be a lot more useful when Pull and Singularity are being heavily used.

I would personally always go for something else, specifically an anti-armor power: either Reave, Inferno Grenade or Amor-Piercing Ammo. This is because a lot of the hardest bosses and enemies in the game come with walls of armor, so an armor-eroding power will come in handy and allow you to rain anti-armor powers continuously on enemies.

My second option would be one that I can "test" with, feeling my way for more fun, i.e. more risk, for greater rewards; basically, a protection power like Fortification, Barrier, or Geth Shield Boost (they're all the same with respect to functionality). The idea is to boost your shield (defenses), then take higher risks when you Charge, or do it more often. And because that's the use of such a power (testing and taking more risks in the hope of more fun), I would recommend that you go for an anti-armor power instead the first time you choose the Vanguard path on Hardcore or Insanity difficulty.

Recommended Companions:

Because the recommended safe Charge tactic in the summary was to use Charge only on enemies stripped of their shields and armor, think along the lines that you are most powerful against stripped enemies.

This is mainly what makes it very tempting to assume that you're underpowered, but you need to remember that it's about strategy and tactics for you: you are immensely useful and powerful in controlling the battlefield, drawing enemies and firepower away from your cornered teammates and to the other corner of the room or area after you've charged a distant enemy, flanking the enemy, and so on.

And because you are most powerful against enemies stripped of shields and armor (using this st-yle or method of fighting), it is fair to say that you are going to be fairly weak against these 2 forms of protection. Thus, it makes sense to choose companions who will compliment you perfectly, i.e. companions who have one or more powers to offer against shields (Overload and Disruptor Ammo) and against armor (Warp, Incinerate, Inferno Grenade, Armor-Piercing Ammo).

Accordingly, Miranda happens to be a main partner for me all the time, because she has Overload for shields and Warp for armor, and I find specifically these 2 powers very effective.

Garrus has Overload and Armor-Piercing Ammo (which he can eventually give to the whole squad so you also get a boost to your armor damage), plus his ability to use a sniper rifle (to stay far from the action while you distract the enemy), and he comes highly recommended as a second option on my list.

Zaeed has Disruptor Ammo (for shields) and Inferno Grenade (for armor), plus the sniper rifle, so a 3rd good option.

Finally, Mordin is good for armor with his Incinerate, and his Cryo Blast is very sweet just before your Charge...alllows you to quite literally "shatter" the enemy, but he comes without a concentrated anti-shield power.

Beyond those options, I don't find myself in great favor of any others from a productivity or effectiveness perspective, but I am open to learn about other players' experiences.

And, of course, you may very well just choose to take your "sweetie" wherever you go, regardless to her powers. For example, I found that Tali's bots are actually sometimes a godsend, especially with very powerful bosses; they distract them for a few very precious seconds that sometimes mean the difference between death and victory.

Safe Charge:

As I mentioned earlier, instead of thinking of this power as just your strongest--but completely suicidal and thus useless--power, think of this power as your strongest, and your reward: the battle finisher, the final blow. That is the first step of succeeding in and loving this st-yle of Vanguard play.

Having said that, and as a result of some feedback I got on the forums, I would like to emphasize that this is not the only way to have fun with this path. My tips will suit those who like to think strategically, fight "safely" (not relying on the trusty Load button too much), and play as if they're trying to not die even once, adding a bit more realism and immersion to the whole thing.

The other path of Vanguard playing that I learnt about relies on charging almost everything on your path, including enemies protected with shields and/or armor, then intending to one or two-shot them with a shotgun (mainly the Claymore). This st-yle may be good for no-brainer, brute-force fun. Lots of people are going to love it for obvious reasons.

My tips rely on "delayed gratification"; they help you save your most fun ability or power, Charge, to use as a battle finisher, and it becomes a sweet and definitely very satisfying reward from a visual and effects perspective. The path that I'm suggesting allows you to see and feel that Charge is overpowered, and is your most powerful ability; the other path easily positions your shotgun as your most powerful asset.

Use Charge only when an enemy's health bar is red, i.e. the enemy has been stripped of any shields and armor. Yes, you can use Charge to weaken shields and armor, but this is too risky and heavily denies you the satisfying visual results when you only use it on stripped enemies. The best visual result that you can hope for if you Charge a protected enemy is seeing them just stagger a step or two backwards, but the best result that you see if you Charge a stripped enemy is you sending them literally flying or them almost getting yanked backwards, after the impact, in slow motion.

When you save this power for the red health bar, and either see the low-health enemy shattering instantly, or you start to pound the incapacitated enemy mercilessly with a few melee hits, as it lies on the ground under you, until it collapses, you get part of that "high reward" that every Vanguard talks about.

Then you understand the essence of this path: you are not just an actually overpowered bad ass, but you are also a wall! Think about it, a power with a short cooldown, which stuns any red-healthbar enemy and sometimes even knocks them down, while simultaneously slowing down the world around you and boosting your armor immensely...does that really sound "underpowered" to you? Done at the right time, in the face of the correctly positioned red-healthbar enemies, Charge is overpowered, and literally turns you into a wall.

You are the wall that holds the wide cover, behind which you and your teammates are hiding, as you biotically head-butt to oblivion those Krogan that thought they could kick you three from behind cover!

So we know what is the right time for Charge according to these tactics. Now what are the right places for Charge? Well, the right places are always going to be dictated by your enemies' movements. That is exactly the "high-risk" or big challenging part of this power. So what you're doing is waiting for a red health bar, and a good spot.

Put very simply, good spots are always near cover, only a few steps away from cover, with one exception: a single last enemy that is about to die--you can Charge that one anywhere it's standing.

The idea is to know exactly which cover you'll dive behind as soon as you're done sending the enemy flying or done pounding them with melee hits.

Yes, in the beginning, you may very well make mistakes and Charge enemies near cover, but realize that the spot is actually exposed to an enemy you didn't "feel" was going to be a problem, or enemies you weren't even aware that they were there, and you get yourself caught in crossfire. That is part of the learning curve of that path. If you keep practicing, I can promise you that you'll start to "feel" those perfect spots.

Stand behind a wide cover, at the left edge, waiting for that enemy to come turning around the right edge, trying to flank and shoot at you alongside the cover, then charge them. As you take one or two slow steps back from the Charge, you'll find yourself behind the right edge of the cover, ready for the next enemy or finishing off the previous incapacitated enemy with a few bullets while relaxing behind the cover.

While fighting, keep your eye on the different spots for cover, choose an enemy that is well positioned for a flank against the rest of its group, focus firepower, anti-shield and anti-armor powers on it, and weaken it a bit if you have time, then Charge it. This is an instant flank against the enemy, and you didn't have to run from cover to cover to get to it, while alerting the rest of the enemies to what you're trying to do.

Are you getting outnumbered where you're hiding? Take a quick look and find an enemy at the far opposite side of the area, then charge it: instant escape from death.

One of the enemies got too brave, separated from the rest, eagerly charging closer to you? It just made the job of advancing forward easier for you: concentrate firepower on it until it's stripped of any shields or armor, wait for it to be near a box or cover, charge instantly, then take cover. Your henchmen will see that and naturally follow you forward, one enemy down, and the other enemies now not so bold to advance.

Take it slow, but keep thinking about and searching for those sweet spots. With time, you'll start to naturally identify them, without even putting it into words.

Miscellaneous Tips:

Pull: put in mind that you can direct your Pull power and slightly change its path in an arc, so you can shoot it slightly over enemies behind cover, then skillfully drop it right on the enemy's head, snatching them beautifully from behind cover and up into the air, for you and your henchmen to do whatever you wish with. Using Throw, Warp, Slam, or even Charge--when applicable--at this point is highly recommended for fun; Warp Ammo is also fairly effective, although less explosive and less fun.

Your Ideas

As I mentioned in the beginning, feel free to provide polite, constructive criticism, while realizing that we all discover new things that take us by surprise sometimes. And add your own tips and discoveries.

Keep in mind that this short guide is not intended to be THE guide for Vanguard, but simply one option and st-yle of playing, considered the safe path. It focuses on the Charge power as a reward and battle finisher, makes it feel powerful, and allows you to see the results on stripped enemies, rather than focusing on one's shotgun as their most powerful asset in the another st-yle of play.

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