Monthly Archives: October 2013

#293 I Scream, You Scream, We all scream for Scream Fortress 2013

Yesterday Valve released their long-awaited Scream Fortress 2013 Team Fortress 2 update. This year’s spooky shooter season launched with their latest comicbook addition followed by updating the actual game.

For those who read this month's comicbook:  The tales of the brothers mirrors a famous legal case my philosophy teacher gave in his Life and Death ethics class

For those who read this month’s comicbook: The tale of the two brothers mirrors a famous legal example my philosophy teacher gave in his Life and Death ethics class about when and how exactly to determine the time of death of a person.

With this recent patch brings back the Halloween gift boxes that randomly spawns around maps the contains a slew of player created costumes and hats that are only wearable during the Halloween season and the full moon.

 And even I am starting to fall victim to the siren call of cosmetic items. Just look at that clown outfit for the spy!

Even I am starting to fall victim to the siren call of cosmetic items. Just look at that clown outfit for the spy!

This year also has the addition of a reskinned map of the payload area, Hightower, but the twist is the map is filled to the brim with pages of spell books that lets you cast spells to summon bats, perform high jumps, and the ability to plant a cluster of pumpkin bombs anywhere on the map.

I forgot the mention it in my other TF2 Halloween post but these maps make me think that they are modded, its filled with unconventional entertainment.

I forgot the mention it in my other TF2 Halloween post but these maps could have fooled me to believe that they are modded by the community because it’s filled with unconventional entertainment.

I have been looking forward to this update for quite a while, ever since I stumbled upon the seasonal King of the Hill maps last week I have been patiently waiting for the update that brings an influx of more players to these specific maps. Not only is it more the merrier true here but I am also enjoying the capture the loot minigame I play against everyone else on the map when the game announces that another Halloween box just spawned.

To think, I was planning to write post about how I should take a break from Valve’s cartoony shooter and spend some time with Valve’s more realistic FPS, Counter Strike.

But Calvin and Hobbes reference made me decide to push that post off for a few more weeks

But then a Calvin and Hobbes reference forced me to push that particular post off for a few more weeks


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#292 A look back on the Steam Trading Cards

As an unexpected result of working through my Steam backlog I have been receiving constant notifications that I now own another batch of cards for the Steam Trading Card system. With a cluttered inventory and a few months between us and the launch of Valve’s latest program I thought it would be the perfect time to look back and talk about the experiences we had with it.

I think it's safe to say that it was suppose to be like a new TF2 market for the entire gaming library

I think it’s safe to say that it was suppose to be like a new TF2 market for the entire gaming library

 

When the trading cards was first launched I was excited to say the least. Because of the addition of trading cards I was now playing games that I have not touched in ages and during the sales I bought games that advertised the cards that I could collect. I even traveled to the forums and chat channels aggressively trying to finish my Super Meat Boy and Summer Getaway badges.

But since the 2013 Steam summer event ended I lost quite a bit of interest in the new Trading Card program. Which is a shame because it has everything I would want; collectibles, profile customization, coupons, badges, and bragging rights.

I lost interest in it because the badges are just too difficult to collect and the major problem (for me) is the amount of cards you can get from the game is too limited. Most games will only give you half of the total number of cards in the pack, meaning that you are forced to trade with other players. After getting rid of the card collections I had no interest in building I had to entertain the idea of cutting into my other side collection to complete the badge I was currently working on.

There are just so many badges from good games that I want to build, but not enough cards from games I don't like to make complete them

There are just so many badges from good games that I want to build, but not enough cards from games I don’t like to trade away to complete them

 

I mentioned at the beginning how I think Valve want this to take off like Team Fortress 2’s market but I think the reason that the hat/weapon economy works is because there is a constant, universal resource provided by the game. If you play the game an average amount of time you will get a small trickle of dropped goodies, whether it be a new gun or a cosmetic item. While you can trade it to other interested people, if you have extra items or unwanted items you can break them down into scrap or tokens and craft them into other -more desirable- items to trade.

But Steam’s Trading Cards do not give you an option to perform a mulligan. Their is the chance to receive a booster pack that contains three more cards, that only drops after you use up all your single card drops you get from buying the game, but packs just do not drop enough to encourage me to go through the effort of trading to craft the badges.

It’s funny, when the Steam Trading Cards first came out I argued that the limited card drops were a good thing because it forced me to go out and communicate with other players but with the ever-growing list of games and cards in the program it is getting more difficult to scan the forums and chat channels to find that one person that has that I want and is willing to trade for a specific card in my inventory.

Now I am currently eating my words because now I want nothing more than to play my own single player games and slowly work my way to craft the game badges by myself.

But I want to know what you think

Have you tried your hand at the Steam Trading Card program? and Do you activity hunt and collect game badges?

Now that it has been a while for everyone I would love to hear about your thoughts and opinions of Steam’s Trading Card program in the comments below.

P.S: I still refuse to pay for the cards I need on the A.H. This is a free service provided my Valve and I plan to keep it that way.


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#291 Scratching that itch for playing a Halloween game

The color of the leaves are changing, the nights are becoming more chiller and they are arriving earlier and earlier each day. With the fall season comes my favorite holiday, Halloween.

Time to boot up the Nightmare before Christmas and prepare the various apple and pumpkin flavored drinks

Time to boot up the Nightmare before Christmas DVD and prepare the various apple and pumpkin flavored drinks and snacks

With previous years I spent my time in World of Warcraft celebrating by participating in Blizzard’s Halloween themed world events; trick or treating around the world, putting out fires in the local low-level towns, and gathering a party of players to go head to head against the Headless Horseman in my yearly attempt to get the elusive flying horse mount.

There is only so much you can get for watching the HH rhymes on YouTube Pictures via WoWWiki

There is only so much you can get for watching the HH rhymes on YouTube
Pictures via WoWWiki

But this is the first Halloween that I am not subscribed to WoW and I was a bit worried that I would miss out in participating any special gaming events with other gamers.

That is why I want to thank Valve’s famous war-themed hat simulator, Team Fortress 2, for filling that seasonal void. In preparation for Valve’s upcoming Halloween event I was decided to abandon my go to Tf2 maps and join the odd seasonal maps.

set course to Ghost Fort

Set course to Ghost Fort

Ghost Fort is one of the few re-skinned Tf2 maps of their lakeside King of the Hill stage but with the added twist that a random effect that is applied to every member on the two teams.

the random events goes from big (or tiny) heads to giving everyone major crits

the random events goes from big (or tiny) heads from giving everyone major crits to teleporting everyone onto the capture point and make them all dance

The over the top spooky atmosphere and map twist was fun enough to not only lose a few more hours of gameplay into the never-ending game but it scratched my itch for a proper seasonal multiplayer game.

This is all before Valve patched in the 2013 Halloween update with the spawning of the Haunted Halloween gifts, a slew of new Tf2 costumes, and the chance to summon the NPC Boss, Merasmus.

With getting caught up in the Halloween I might even temporarily lift my ban on equipping silly Tf2 hats and items…

Although lets not get to ahead of ourselves.

Although lets not get too ahead of ourselves.


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Be MOP focuses on the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

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#290 Who’s going to PAX East? -2014 Edition-

Today the people at Penny Arcade started selling tickets to their 2014 PAX East event and I was able to secure my day pass for the fourth year running.

 

pax east black

The best part of maintaining a blog for over a year is that I can shamelessly reuse topical post titles from this time last year.

 

For those who do not know, PAX East is a three-day extravaganza in Boston that is focused on every and all things about videogames, an expo hall filled of booths of the most popular gaming companies (while still having a hall dedicated to the indie games), gaming celebrities and developers, and a range of insightful panels from designing the levels in your own videogames to discussions about the politics and history of the gaming world.

Not only was there a room full of achient arcade games but there was also a seminar about the those machines

Not only was there a room full of ancient arcade games but there was also a seminar about the history of those machines

 

On top of all of the official events during the day there are also it is also an amazing opportunity to socialize with other videogame players and bloggers that you might not have been able to meet any other time of the year (outside of Boston FIG)

Words can not describe how wonderful my past experiences have been with this expo and if you are in the greater Boston area on the second week of April I urge you to try to grab one of the day passes. While $40 a day pass my seem a bit steep,  the free giveaways and the whole experience is well worth the price.

 

It leads me back to my main question, who else is going to PAX East?

 


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#289 Historical Treasures found at the Thrift Store

As a history and political geek and a geek about history I love going to the local second-hand stores to search up and down the aisles for parts of obscure history that others might have overlooked.

In the past I was able to get a paperback trade of DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and get the Battle chest of Warcraft III for both under ten dollars…and I was able to find a WWII newspaper that reported the announcement that the US just dropped the atomic bomb on Japan

Over the weekend it seems like the thrift gods smiled on me because I found my second, slightly battered, Blizzard battle-chest.

between Steam and Goodwill it is making it easy commit to my promise to never buy a game a full price.

between Steam and Goodwill it is easy to stay true to my promise to never buy a game a full price.

 

This was an amazing find not only because it has the original game disk, expansion pack, posters, and official strategy guide, but because the entire thing doubled as a time capsule of the past.

The Battle chest is filled with AT&T WorldNet pamphlets, promise of free internet setup from a partnership from Blizzard, Sprint and Earthlink, and even Blizzard’s advertisement for their next game slated to come out at time of release, Diablo II.

This thing is so intact that it even has the product registration post card that you are suppose to mail in for a chance to win "free software and other cool stuff".... which I am planning to mail in.

This thing is so intact that it even has the product registration postcard that you are supposed to mail in for a chance to win “free software and other cool stuff”…. which I am planning to mail in.

 

This was another game that I missed out when growing up in a Nintendo house and while I did play StarCraft II a few years ago when it was first release I have full intent to install and play through this game and the expansion pack

I want to see how far the second game progressed and to pick up on the back story that I might have missed from the first go of StarCraft II.

 


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#288 An ARTS by any other name

Good news everyone! In preparation for next  month’s BlizzCON 2013, Blizzard has officially -and finally- announced their own Action Real Time Strategy game to compete with the likes of League of Legends, DOTA 2, Heroes of Newerth, and DC Comics’ Infinite Crisis.

It's about time, even when factoring in Blizzard-time

It’s about time the company acknowledged this game, even when factoring in Blizzard-time

 

This game has been on my radar for quite a years ever since Blizzard first announced three years ago in the 2010 BlizzCon, up to when they causally mentioned it in the Activision-Blizzard’s Q1 Financial Report (Be MOP #219). Since then the project when through a bit of an identity crisis, initially the game was called Blizzard Dota then last year it was renamed as Blizzard All-Stars and now finally settling on the title “Heroes of the Storm” and the official announced it with a humorous little self-referencing video titled “The Game Formerly Known as ‘Blizzard All-Stars'”

Curse them for using that Prince joke, I was going to use that for this post. I guess they know their audience.

Curse them for using that Prince joke, I was going to use that for this post. I guess they know their audience.

 

As the title of this post suggest the name of the game is not what we should focus on but instead on the game play and the uniqueness it brings to the table. For this game to be successful it needs to have something built into the game that makes it stand out from the other A.R.T.S like League of Legends and Dota 2.

As of right now there is no video of the game play of the Storms of the Heroes, either from back 2010 or from the current build, but I would not be surprise if Blizzard releases a ton of content, including the starting champion pool, the maps designs and that one thing that makes them stand out from the other games on the market.

To any Blizzard employees that might be reading this, I would gladly volunteer to be a beta tester.

To any Blizzard employees that might be reading this: First, hey how’s it going? Secondly, I would gladly volunteer to be a beta tester if you are looking for players.

 

But I want to know what you think, what do you think of Blizzard’s ARTS game? and more importantly what do you think of the ARTS/MOBA genre?

I ask the second question because to me, it looks like the ARTS genre is on route to be the defining go-to genre for 201X  for the PC similar to how the MMO was big thing for the PC gaming world back in the 200Xs.

 


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#287 My Adventures and Disappointment with Bat-DLC

Last night I am happy to report that I can cross off one of the games from my October Steam Backlog list. In the dead of the night I powered through the last bit of the story campaign of Batman: Arkham City. I could spend hours talking (or writing) about how Rocksteady perfectly captured the atmosphere of Gotham,  handling the game’s plot, or the various nods to the lessor known Batman characters. It is one of the new games where I found no major faults with the entire experience, that is until I had to enable the DLC packs.

I just finished rewatching Batman:  Mask of the Phantasm to prepare myself to play as the Batman that talks and dresses like the early 90's cartoon

I even rewatched Batman: Mask of the Phantasm to properly prepare myself to play as the Dark Knight that talks and dresses like the early 90’s Saturday morning cartoon

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, the reason a game, I already played, is on my backlog was to get through the multiple downloadable content which I did not get to the first time around.

Those who played the Arkham games knows that the franchise is currently linked to Games for Window’s Live, Microsoft’s answer to the rise in popularity of online videogame stores which Windows has decided to stop supporting two months ago and being put to rest in May 2014. 

I know a lot of people who give the GFWL service a bad rap but I never had an opinion on it because it never stopped me from enjoying the two Arkham games. That was until last night when I tried to activate the long-awaited DLC keys that I bought on Steam that needs to be enabled through the Microsoft service. 

I could not access the map challenges DLC in my first play though because I ignored the Windows live log in prompt at the start of the game meaning the completed game was not recognized my Windows Live which looking back is as much my fault as anyone else.

So learning my lesson this time I used the Windows Live account I used for first Arkham game to beat the game again and when it came to enter the handful of codes to play as Batman’s currently living boy wonders I received this error message:

just like this

just like this

After a bit of searching on the forums I learned that I need to make an official Microsoft account on their website to open the content which is a bit of a round about process since I needed to be logged in to my Steam account to download and play the main game but I was making some headway.

It seems like lady luck was not on my side because after logging into my official Microsoft gamer account I tried to enter the Arkham City bundle keys I received this new error:

for all three codes. Which can't be right because only I have access to the keys..

after a bit of tinkering I was then greeted with….

this error code for for all thecodes

this error code for all the codes

 

If it was not enough that I could not access the content I paid for, it appears that logging onto a new account also mean I can not copy over my other, completed, game file from the first Windows Live account

*taken last night

leaving me with four new blank files

At this point I decided to throw in the towel and give up on my quest to play any of the DLC. There is no guarantee that replaying through the game for the third time, on this account would give me access to the Harley Quinn DLC story that teases a bit of closure to her character after the game.

And it is a shame because the game’s one flaw is about something outside of the game. Because someone decided to place an entry barrier the PC DLC on one gaming profile account, regardless on where the player might have bought it from, with unclear instructions and execution left me confused and annoyed walking away from the game.

which does not bode well after just talking about Arkham Origin's season pass

which does not bode well for my opinion on DLC after just talking about Arkham Origin’s season pass


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