Damn you, Bioware

When my boyfriend blew through my copies of Mass Effect, I was curious about what he found compelling about the series. I owned both ME1 and ME2 for the PC but had given up on the games after finding the FPS elements unnerving.

As ME3 rolled around, I decided to give Mass Effect a chance and found myself sucked into a sci-fi world I hadn’t imagined I’d love.

What drew me in the most was the writing. With each iteration, Mass Effect’s writing got stronger, the characterisation deeper, the human element more compelling.

The following video clip (WARNING SPOILERS) is of a scene that had me crying my eyes out for a whole half-hour. I have never felt this much emotional investment in a game and now that I’ve finished playing ME3, I miss it so much I’d be playing it again right this instant…if it wasn’t for the colossal letdown of the final 10 minutes of the game.

But honestly this one scene, made all three games of the series worth it. Now I hope Bioware fixes the damn ending even if it requires me throwing more money at them for a do-over.

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BootCamp, baby! – gaming on the Mac

During my long, unplanned break of sorts I am spending a lot of time gaming.

Ironic, since the primary reason I avoided getting a Mac at first was it curtailing my gaming experience.

Thankfully I have BootCamp to help me get my gaming fix on though it came at the hefty price of needing a hard disk upgrade.

You see, to get BootCamp properly working you have to download a ton of drivers that take up a lot of disk space. Very annoying, I can tell you. So I now have two 250GB partitions on my new hard disk and both are already half-full.

So far my 13.3 inch MacBook Pro is handling games like Dragon Age, Team Fortress 2 smoothly. But my touchpad isn’t up to par when I try playing Company of Heroes. A friend who tried playing COH on the computer says the small monitor rather hampers his gaming experience.

Makes me wonder if I should get a monitor to optimise my gaming experience. Have even resorted to checking monitors online and doing stuff like Googling ‘samsung 2333hd review‘.

But I like gaming sans monitor. There’s nothing quite like gaming in bed, snuggled within the cocoon of blankets and pillows.

With Dragon Age 2 coming up, will likely have to upgrade my RAM and cross fingers the GPU can support the game. With the amount of gaming and games I have right now (Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal, Plain Sight, Dragon Age, Borderlands, Company of Heroes, The Sims, Lord of the Rings Online) will likely need a new hard disk soon too.

Until DA 2 comes out, will skip buying anymore games and hope I don’t run out of hard disk space.

Returning to Azeroth

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Guess who’s back playing WOW?

I just needed my gaming fix and an MMO proved the best way.

WOW is far more casual friendly these days, and I can come in, do a few dailies or quests and not necessarily need to spend more than 1-2 hours a day. I know if I started on Fallout 3, GTA or anything else, I’d likely be glued to the PC for hours without moving. Like in my early WOW days, heh.

I have an Alliance Druid to level – she’s 32 right now but to experience the brand spanking new Northrend content of Wrath of the Lich King, I have my level 70 Blood Elf paladin. She’s in the picture and look, there’s an orca!

After having tried plenty of other MMOs, I have to say WOW is still the game to beat. A lot has changed since I visited Azeroth. New areas, new abilities, a whole new way of playing your class.

I still have Warcraft 3 sitting in my drawer begging for a replay. Dawn of War II and Empire: Total War beckon to me. And people keep telling me about the awesome sauce that is supposed to be Left 4 Dead.

No, I don’t have the time. WOW will be my one, my only gaming fix for now.

Until Starcraft II and Diablo III come out. Oh, and Sims 3 this year.

And for the record, I did play Spore. Played, tinkered, screamed at constant crashes, got bored. Will also schedule some quality Team Fortress II time with Calvin once he’s not being eaten up by work.

Why game at all when there are so many other things I want to do/be doing? I’ve been PC gaming since I was a wee tot, all right? And I grew up on Space Invaders and King’s Quest. Of course, teh hardcore l33tz will be making fun of me for not playing FPS games. Pardon me if I like games with, oh, plot?

Besides, even Vint Cerf plays WOW. If it’s good enough for the ‘Father of the Internet’, it’s good enough for me.

Games, baby, games

World of Warcraft: Burning Steppes

Image by Evan Sims via Flickr

I love videogames. Ever since my father plonked me in front of an IBM PC and I discovered the weird, pixelated world of King’s Quest, I’ve loved games.

But the problem with games is that I love them a little too much. Once I get immersed, a game can consume my life. I gained nearly 10kg playing World of Warcraft, I was that hooked. Years before that, when I played Warcraft III I was so absorbed with it, I didn’t notice that my laptop was burning the skin on my thighs. It wasn’t until I had to send the laptop in for repairs and noticed that the funny scars on my legs disappeared, that I realised that Houston, we have a problem.

Last year was quite the bumper crop for games. And it all passed me by. GTA, Fallout 3…well, I did buy Spore. My brother is mad about it. I’m somewhat nonplussed. This is what we were all waiting for? Gimme Sims 3 instead. But hold it; I can’t really play a lot of new titles because I need more RAM (think 2GB more) as well as a new graphics card. My current display card keeps threatening suicide on me, which is not fun.

Right now, I have Warcraft III, Sims 2 (with a varied pix-and-mix of expansions), Team Fortress II, Beyond Good and Evil and WOW installed.

I’m toying with going back to World of Warcraft but, I don’t think I really have the time for it. There are too many things to be doing, and too little time. Some people prioritise – I have to keep reprioritising, because too many things keep distracting me.

To WOW or not to WOW? That is the question.

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No, it’s not OK to steal

Remember A? Yes, we ended up having a heated disagreement on MSN about…game piracy. We both have strong views on many subjects, often on the extreme opposite views. Let’s not go into the verbal fisticuffs we had when debating war and pacifism. He’s all “Bush was right to send his soldiers to pre-empt terrorist threats”. I said, “Like hell he is!” You get the point. Fortunately we always end up just agreeing not to talk anymore about a subject when it gets too heated.

My stance is simple. Piracy is stealing.

But A’s stance is that he “has a right” to buy games for cheap and that pirated copies are just “liberated” for the use of all rights-loving people everywhere.

And when I told him that some game studios close shop because more people pirate games than buy them, or that huge teams of designers, programmers and their like work hard to create software, his answer:

”Well, that won’t matter to the man on the street.”

When I point out that games are pretty much non-essentials or luxuries even, he says that no one should stand between his ‘right’ to play games for an affordable price.

That’s like saying because I can’t afford eggs, it’s fine to steal them from my neighbour. Or buy them cheap from another neighbour who stole those eggs.

That’s one reason innovation fails to thrive in Malaysia – we want everything good and cheap. But people won’t bother giving good service if they know they won’t be fairly compensated.

What disappoints me most is that A is a writer. If someone plagiarised his work or paid him less than his going rate for mercenary work, he’d likely never shut up about it. Then, why shouldn’t gaming companies ensure their rice bowls are taken care off.

I can pay a plumber RM35 to fix my leaky toilet. A plumber in the UK would charge me twice that, in pounds.

To get my wisdom tooth extracted with some minor surgery involved, I pay less than RM200 at the nearby dentist.

In the U.S,, I’d be lucky if I don’t have to pay more than a grand in a private clinic.

I am a PC gamer; have been since I was seven. Kingdom’s Quest on an old IBM – ah, those were the days of simple pixilated graphics.

Now, I get full 3D experiences, realistic sound, online collaboration or whole worlds where I can interact with players from continents far removed.

And all that costs money. I don’t mind paying for it. If by chance, I buy a dud game then it’s my loss. I take it and remember the damn studio who came up with the piece of crap. At least, unlike gambling, the risks involved don’t mean I risk bankruptcy, my spouse leaving me or loan sharks trailing in my wake.

So if you love gaming, then love the ones who sweat and toil to bring them to you. Game programmers aren’t rich people by any means, neither are game designers. And game music composers? There’s a special spot in heaven reserved for their martyrdom.

Unsure whether to get a title? Wait for the reviews. Try the demos. Then if it’s worth it, save a little dosh and play it. If the game looks anywhere near dodgy, give it a miss until the full consensus comes out.

If you buy pirated games, then that’s your choice. Just don’t make it out like you’re entitled to cheapening others’ hard labour. Piracy is stealing – at least respect the game companies enough not to pretend it isn’t.

WOW vs WAR

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I shamelessly stole the image from The RL Update.
Am torn – do I get the new Sims 2 expansion or do I plonk down serious cash for Warhammer Online?

Retired from WOW (you will always be my one true MMO love) because the 6k ping was too much to handle. But Warhammer will have servers based physically in Oz! So they’ll be closer and not be quite as laggy as playing on a US-based server.

But I’m not all that invested in the Warhammer Universe the way I am in Warcraft’s. 
Perhaps I’ll get The Sims 2 Apartment this month, and wait to see what the general consensus is about the Warhammer Universe next month. 
Nigel thinks I should go back to WOW. eBola would agree but then he’s too busy to play too. Remember super tight-fisted A? He thinks COD is better than any MMO. Smartass.
MFM and David Lian would be bad choices to ask. Both of them still play Baldur’s Gate 2. Suan would say “I only play DOTA”. And the Sunflower would insist I join her in SL instead. 
My NaNoWriMo muse would just say…”OI YOU HAVE A NANOWRIMO KICKOFF MEETUP TO ORGANISE NOT OBSESS OVER SOME PRICEY GAME!” 
My NaNo muse might just win this round.