Sunday, May 31, 2015

Thank you NBI


The Newbie Blogger Initiative is winding down today and I am glad I was a part of it. This has been a wonderful experience for myself and got to connect with some fantastic people. My blog has received well needed attention, and I was able to commit to it for the month. All around, it has been a good few weeks.

As with any event, it has to be organized and run by someone or someones. In this case we are honored by Izlan our host and first Talkback Challenge. Jaedia for our Talkback Challenge #3. Joseph Skyrim for out Talkback Challenge #4 and Poetry Slam (wish I was poetic). C. T. Murphy for the Safari Challenge. And finally, the vets that encouraged us. These people carried the torch for the 2015 NBI and helped guide us. For all your hard work, I give you this.


As for the rest of the class, thanks for joining in the fun. I enjoyed myself and got to see some interesting perspectives while also being in welcoming company. Izlain had a collected list so I took the lazy route and copied it here for anyone else to check them out too.

And lastly, a big thanks to my brother for being supportive - even when we would get into small arguments over my grammar and sentence structure. Especially when I would go long or would use the same word twice in the same sentence or forget to break up the sentence or poorly use a long word. (D: Yeah, I went there. And I use my brother veto power to preserve that sentence.)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What makes a good horror game

Me and my BOOM STICK!
Me and my BOOM STICK!

Horror games, a good source of adrenaline and excitement for those looking to best demons and creatures not meant for mortal understanding. But that’s not what makes them interesting. Deep down, what makes people, like me, interested in them aren’t the monsters that drive you away, but the mystery that they are trying to keep secret. After all, that’s what gives monsters their power, the thing they keep hidden from you.

The Secret World (TSW) is claimed to have some of the best storytelling in MMOs, and I tend to agree. But why is that? Is it because they have monsters? Is it because they have adult themes or cursing? Is it because they have magic and guns in a contemporary setting? Nay nay, I say, to all these. What makes TSW’s story so good is what they don’t tell you. Hence the word ‘secret’ in their name.

Illuminati Secret Lair
Illuminati Secret Lair

The key to a good horror is activating your morbid curiosity. That’s the hook to reel you in. They set up a scene and that’s it. The rest is up to you to piece together. Many games these days try and throw a wall of text at you, detailing the life story of the NPC. Then they give you markers or even a silly sparkle path to direct you to your destination for them to assault you with another wall of text once you arrive. But that’s not how you tell a good story. You have to let the audience piece it together.

What makes horror better at this is because they have the unknown on their side. They push you back with fear, anguish, or disgust to keep the story a mystery. They use your imagination against you. However, they tug you to get beyond the veil to see what is powering it from behind the scenes. What makes games like TSW, Dark Souls and even Five Nights At Freddy’s so good at telling their story is that they don’t leave fat on the bone. Everything in their world is another piece to the puzzle. They don’t try and throw red herrings at you, but they don’t make it apparent that everything you see has a purpose to solving the mystery or how their piece fits. Other games can learn a thing or two from this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Screen Share: Dangerous Sunset

Dangerous Sunset
For a time, dragons were attacking the two great cities of Norrath; Qeynos (Qekaerbyad?) and Freeport. They protected themselves, though. As the concerned citizen I was, I watched from a safe distance. The sun was setting as the terrible beasts kept up their siege, and I thought that was the best time to break out the screenshot button. Time for a Dangerous Sunset.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NBI Challenge: The Seven Gaming Sins

Since this initiative started, I’ve gained some great experience and energy to try and make this work as best as I can.

With the Newbie Blogger Initiative ramping down now, we have one final challenge. A series of questions for us to learn about each other in a theme of 7 Deadly Sins. Let’s get started!

Lust – Do you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?

I’m a huge proponent for choice. I love a game that gives me a great range of character looks. That includes the young to the old, gorgeous to ugly, sexy to sickly and everything in between. Even though I have a smaller range I stick with, I love seeing what other people come up with.

As for my range? I tend to prefer making my avatars attractive, but I like to cover them with practical armor or clothing. I don’t like running around in a swimsuit or banana hammock.

Gluttony – Do you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?

I do. I built up a large library of games back when I thought I would have time to play them. I’ve realized my time is far more limited and stopped collecting even if the deal is like $5 for a bundle of 100 games… well, maybe I’d pick that up. Still though, I keep a wish list now, and when I’m in the mood, I’ll go through that list because I know I’m ready to play it.

Greed – Do you enjoy hand outs in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?

Sure, I’d do an easy quest that gives me a good set of armor. I’m not proud, pfft. At the same time, I like a good challenge. I guess I’m just not worried about having to do the twelve labours of Hercules for everything I earn.

Sloth – Do you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?

When it comes to groups, I don’t like wasting other people’s time. I know how important it is to them and myself, so I keep interruptions to a minimal. I look for the same courtesy in others. If you have a good reason, like a child, I’m 100% patient.

I don’t discourage, I encourage. If I see a giant beast walking through a bunny camp, I’ll want to prod it with a stick to see how hard it hits.

When I see someone in trouble, I do my best to take action. But I tend to watch from a distance to make sure they need help. Hate to break up their momentum when they weren’t in trouble to begin with.

Wrath – Ever get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?

My brother and I have thrown some loud words at each other when we get angry, but I don’t remember directing that at anyone else. I’m far too averse to conflict that I feel sick thinking about it. I know, I’m a big baby. Well, baby get what baby wants. Wahh!

Envy – Ever felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?

Sure, I get jealous all the time. I’m jealous of raiders and pvpers that get to see content I stay away from, and they are rewarded cool stuff for it.

I’m man enough to admit that I’m also petty. I’ve suspected people of being cheaters or just plain cheap sometimes when I’ve lost. Doesn’t change the outcome that they bested me. I try not to let it get to me for long, because yeah, pssh, it’s just a game. That’s right, “Elementos”! You won at pixels, enjoy that victory you 12 year old cheat! Who’s mom did you sleep with now!

Pride – Are you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are under-performing? Why or why not?

Nah, because I know I won’t be able to perform to the level of playing they want from me. I’m far more comfortable with my under-performing brethren. They have more fun.

Thanks NBI of 2015

As I close out my final challenge, I want to thank my fellow class of 2015. I may not have been able to read everything you all put out, but I did my damndest to try. I commented and liked what I could for you and enjoyed what you have done for me.

This isn’t the end though, just the end of the beginning. We all created or dusted off our blogs and now it’s time for graduating into the bigger world.

May our blogs be like toilet paper, long and useful. Good morning, good day and good night everybody.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Screen Share: City of Kings

City of Kings
Windhelm, the City of Kings. You can experience some of the coldest harshest nights here, but sometimes the view is worth it.

#NBI2015Safari High Fantasy

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Podcast Experience

Recently, I’ve been invited to join Izlain, @mevsmyselfandi, for his Podcast, Couch Podtatoes. He sent out a twitter post earlier asking for two #NBI2015 newcomers to come on to the show as guests. Since one of my reasons I started my blog was to help get over my awkward fears, I decided to throw myself into the deep end and took him up on his offer. I’m glad I did because Izlain was really cool about it, and gave me some tips.

The show was suppose to also star Eri, @ausj3w3l, and another newcomer. Unfortunately noone else joined in and Eri couldn’t make it because of her new schedule, so it was just Izlain and myself. *Gulp*

Suffice to say, I was nervous about this. The closer it came to doing it, and getting on voice, the more I was overthinking my situation. My hesitation had nothing to do with Izlain personally, it had to do with my fear of talking with others. Public speaking is a terrifying prospect, one that many of us share, according to science. It doesn’t help that I’m a huge introvert, I tend to keep to myself, and don’t normally talk when caught in big groups.

I had thought the show would be ultra short with just him and myself. I was sort of relying on two other people to be there to take the attention away from me. Izlain called and I looked at the answer button for a few seconds before finally picking up.

Izlain started a bit of a pre-show chat to get me comfortable. As he started the show and ran through his spiel, it came time to put the spotlight on me. I started with short answers at first, but as the show went on, I sort of just forgot about being on air, and more like I was just talking to him, like two people having a conversation.

By the end, the show was recorded, and I felt good. I’m glad I accepted and made another step closer to being more comfortable with voice chat.

Thank you, Izlain.

Also, a shoutout to Ravanel Griffon for the great suggestion of doing this post.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NBI Challenge: What made me a gamer

Credit: Evan-Amos
Credit: Evan-Amos

Mario, Sonic, Mortal Kombat, Vector Man, the list goes on. These characters and games have been in my life since near the beginning, but they weren’t the ones that pushed me over the edge. Allowing for instinct to take over, what keeps coming to mind is GoldenEye on the N64.

If memory serves me still, that was the first game I’ve played with someone outside my own family. It’s what made it a real hobby for me, something that’s worth sharing. After school and on weekends, my brother and I would bike ride over to our friend’s house and we’d play. We even went out and bought another controller since he only had two.

I could go in a more philosophical view as well. Games transfer experiences I would never have gotten on my own. Relay knowledge I would never have learned. Show perspectives I would never have seen. These alone made me a gamer.

Games are a powerful tool, and whatever the reason any of us choose to game, is a good reason. This hobby of ours has created so many bonds, careers and life changing moments. Over the years, more have taken up their gamepads, keyboards and mobile devices and found themselves to be gamers too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Screen Share: Adventure Awaits

Skyrim - Adventure Awaits
Adventure Awaits

Joining the Newbie Blogger Initiative has been tremendously rewarding. I’m in a constant state of learning and I am enjoying myself.

Today, I want to share a screenshot of Skyrim (heavily modded, of course). My character and his adventuring companion look out to the horizon.

Adventure Awaits!

Edit: Adding this screenshot to the #NBI2015Safari as Landscape.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NBI Challenge: Early Access and Kickstarter

For the second Newbie Blogger Initiative challenge, it’s asked of us what our opinions are on crowdfunding, specifically Kickstarter and Early Access games. Here are my thoughts.

Early Access and Kickstarters, for those not sure what they are, are games either not yet started or finished, but are asking for money. Although both are within the same ballpark of each other, they are different in how they work and I’d like to tackle them separately.


Kickstarters work by asking you to donate a lump sum to the creator and they promise you a reward for your donation depending on the amount of money you give. This goes towards giving the creator a lower risk chance at creating what they want. Some people see this as an investment, which may look like one on the outside, but on the inside the mechanics are completely different. It’s a donation, plain and simple, anything beyond that goes outside what Kickstarter is promoting and is a misunderstanding by the donor or creator.

I fully support what Kickstarter is doing here. I don’t donate more than I’m willing to lose, because it’s a gamble on a promise. I love how it opens up for indie’s, small business or inventors the chance to ask the crowds to fund their dreams, and not depend on publishers or large investors. It lowers risk for those who can’t, or won’t, go towards higher risks, and lastly it helped save Massively from sunsetting.

Early Access

Early Access works by releasing the game in an early state, before it’s ready for full release, and asking for people to pay for it either with an upfront fee or in-game store transactions (or both). These funds are assumed to go towards completing the game or helping to recoup money for investors before the game is finished. The difference between this and Kickstarter is that early access games are at least in a state you can start testing or playing around with, while Kickstarters tend to be mostly promise and ideas.

I like the idea of early access games as well, but only for the small budget indie games. Large games that use this to try and bring in money they don’t need are hurting early access with their greed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mechanic Blueprint - Physics Engines

Space Engineers - Piston powered lift
Finally made a piston lift for a ship.

Physics Engines are really fun to play with. The more you can move around and interact with, the better. They have their faults though, and when those faults show up, they become really noticeable.

Space Engineers - Flailing arms
I'm pretty sure arms don't go in you like that.

Only a few games try to have a physics engine; Space Engineers, Elite: Dangerous, and Skyrim to name a few that do. However physics engines don’t really exist, they are more of an illusion than anything. The reason they don’t is because physics is hard, like really hard. Not for people to program the equation, but for the processor to work out the math on the scale the game needs.

What they do have are smoke and mirror physics, or just plain fake physics. As my brother told me, everything the game does is usually a good trick to make you think what you do is real. For instance, have you went up to a bush and noticed it was flat when you got there? It’s not a 3-D bush, but a flat 2-D raster image told to rotate towards your character at all times to give the illusion of 3-D.

EverQuest 2 - plant life
Oh, what a pretty purple plant... wait a minute, it's FAKE!

An example of how game physics work would be a flight path for a trajectory out of a gun. With some games, when you shoot, the bullet or grenade path is calculated at the time of the shot and it then just follows the path, vs giving it a velocity and direction and apply gravity to it. The latter would take processing power that could be used elsewhere, this is usually more prevalent with mobile platforms. A more basic example would be collision. A game would almost never have collision down to the precise groove of the muscles of your character (mesh collision), they instead put in place a box that is close, or a sphere around your head. It’s a trick to save processing power

I love me some physics, even the illusion of it. Perhaps some day computers will have enough processing power to have full physics in a game and have great graphics too. By then, I’ll probably be a head in a jar plugged into the matrix filling out a bug report and sending it telepathically to the devs asking why the sky didn’t load in properly. It’s probably because I got the Madcats head plugin instead of the official Microsoft one for $5 more.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Welcome Newbie Blogger Initiates!

The Newbie Blogger Initiative (NBI) has been great so far. All you that have joined me, thank you. I appreciate your company and look forward to hearing what you have to say and offer my thoughts as well. Perhaps sparring some, and doing some cooperative work together, but in the end, I hope to find myself in a great community.

I’ve already created an introductory post back when I made the blog. Now with the NBI, I wanted to revisit it and give another introduction to my new list of possible readers, peers, as well as vets who are helping us all out.

I’m Tyrannodorkus, you can refer to me as such, or as Mr Tyranny (thought it sounded cool), or just plain Roger. I’m a gamer, as many of you are, and I cut my teeth on Mario on the Nintendo. I’ve had a long time fling with video games, one that isn’t going away anytime soon. My current favorite genre is MMO, which I’ve been a part of for 15 years now, I believe, and I plan to use it as my focus for blogging. The subject I plan to spotlight will be game mechanics, because to me, they are the most important part of the game.

A bit about myself, I’ve mentioned on the NBI forum, I’m the awkward guy who has a tough time talking to others. The past few years, I’ve been a daily reader of Massively, and because of those wonderful people and the community, I’ve been feeling more comfortable interacting in an online text format. I still have issues with voice chat. Some of you may know what I mean, but I get small panic like attacks at just the thought of joining a mumble server, or even having to call the car dealership to setup an appointment. Shame really, but my brother has always been there to help me. It’s time I try and conquer this, or at least learn to control it.

Tyrannodorkus is something I created with my brother a while back, but had just started using. I plan to post mostly about MMOs and game mechanics, but I left myself open to talk about other games if necessary. I don’t plan to stray from this for now, so I can stay focused.

I also have a Youtube account, mostly to get my voice out there, partly inspired for my love of let’s plays, and lastly because it’s something I would never have done a year ago. If you check it out, please let me know what you think. I’d like to get more feedback, but a polite gesture or a ‘nice job’ is appreciated just as much. You can find it here.

Finally, from all I’ve learned over the years, I want to help build and be a part of a great community. I want to hear from you and want to know what you think. I’ve always been the silent supporter, so I know it’s hard to let people know you care. There’s more than just talking to let someone know you are there to help. Hitting a like, or favorite, or whatever the system provides is a great way to show support. So please let me know what you think, and let others know you support them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NBI Challenge: GamerGate

I debated whether to join this challenge or not (you'll see why due to my answer below), but that's not the spirit of joining an initiative to just sit out of the first challenge despite my opinion of the subject. So without further adieu, I give you my first challenge write up.

GamerGate, to me, became tainted. It lost focus and really hurt the gaming culture in the end. To be honest, I stayed away from it. Any thing that was tagged as GamerGate, I avoided.

If you were to ask three people what GamerGate was, you’d might get three different answers. It was about sex for favors, wait, it was about sexism in videogames, or was it about game journalism was corrupt. I’m confused now. That is why I believe it’s tainted and I just left it alone. It was dangerous to get swept up in it because GamerGate had become a rage machine to stir people up.

In the end, I chose not to participate.