Thursday, January 3, 2013

XCOM:enemy unknown

  I have always been a fan of the x-com series, it all started when I watched a good friend of mine play "X-COM:Terror from the deep" over a decade ago, since then I've played all X-COM games.

  The game remains true to the original saga, a squad based strategy game where you must save the planet from a extra terrestrial force by upgrading your base while capturing and researching alien technology.

  Unfortunately I see many problems with this game. For starters and probably the single most annoying thing is the cover system, being constantly hit regardless of the type of cover becomes increasingly bothersome over time specially at higher difficulties and the fact that aliens use Plasma weapons doesn't help either.

  All aliens use plasma based weapons which apparently in this game render most cover useless. Plasma is highly accurate, does a good amount of damage and more importantly, it also destroys walls and sets vehicles on fire which explode on the next turn, making them into stationary bombs.

  Technology wise the progression is linear, meaning you don't have much of a choice(if any) of which path you want to take. Laser weapons become rather pointless since you can access plasma weapons fairly soon by using the stun-gun(thus not destroying their weapon).

  The mission system lacks a "auto-play" mode thus forcing you to manually play all missions. After you reach a few hours into the game and have a decent amount of tech "abduction site" type missions are nothing but an inconvenience, yet ignoring them will make the countries leave the council which is bad for your monthly income.

 The characters have a RPG element which allows them to level-up by gaining ranks. Every time a characters gains a rank it which allows you to choose between two abilities, this allows you to specialize them a bit further which is good, but since the choices aren't always that enticing you will end up choosing the same ones for each particular class. For example in the Support class you'll always pick the ability to use a medic kit 3 times over the extra smoke grenade.

  Overall the game is "OK", some good decision where made(like reducing the squad size to 6) but I think it's missing a few features which gave flavor to the game like the soldier inventory system which fans loved.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Planetside 2: Night Vision

  Everyone who likes playing FPS games is or was at some point a military enthusiast so the concept of Night-Vision isn't something new, but for those that do not understand its concept here is a simple explanation.

  Humans can only see a small spectrum of light that we call "visible light", so basically NV compensates the lack of visible light by allowing us to see other light frequencies such as Infrared and ultraviolet.

   Some interesting facts about Night Vision:
  • Most NV images/films are shown as green images because the human eye can differentiate more shades of green than any other color, giving us a clearer image.
  • Infrared light goes through some types of clothing making them semi-translucent.

In the game

  Night vision in the game tries to mimic Real night vision by changing illumination values according to its distance, meaning the closer you are to your target the brighter it will become to the point where it will become plain white/green.

  There are three types of NV in the game: Basic(vehicles only), Infra-red (infantry only) and Thermal(vehicles only). Both vehicle NV types have much bigger range than the infantry IR-NV.

Basic and Thermal Night Vision test video:

  As you can see from the video, the only difference between the basic Night-Vision  and the Thermal is that the basic one tints your screen with a green color and has a slightly bigger viewing range, the Thermal on the other hand makes targets a bit more visible but costs much more to unlock, making the basic NV the most used optics enhancement.

Problems with the Night-vision

   I have two complains about infantry Night Vision in Planetside 2. One thing is that as you can see in the image bellow the cross-air color is black, considering that everything beyond the range of the NV is black as well you can see how that may pose as a problem, many have complained about this since beta and nothing seems to be done about this.

  Another problem with the infantry NV is that since the game tweaks the illumination over the textures to create the Night Vision, it makes it unusable in the Esamir continent because it's a glacier type map thus everything is already white, this makes near impossible to distinguish white silhouette of players from the white background as shown in the image bellow.

Thanks for reading, good luck and have fun!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Planetside 2: pilot suicide

  It has been little over 10 days since the game was released and we have started to see some trends going on, one in particular annoys me a lot. I'm talking about players jumping off the aircraft when they are about to die.
Just before the missile hit him...
  I think the part that makes me furious is that to who ever does this there is no benefit what so ever. If your aircraft is going down you will either die from the explosion or due to the fall, unless you have the "Ejection System" which is the worst of all available certifications for the utility slot so no one uses it. This means that players only do it to spite their enemy robing them of over 60% of the xp they should have earned.

  A one man fighter gives 75xp for the vehicle kill and 100xp for the pilot kill, netting a minimum of 175xp assuming you don't get any other bonus which also only apply to killing the player such as:
  •     Vengeance bonus
  •     Domination bonus
  •     Kill Streak bonus
  •     Group Kill bonus. (in larger aircraft with multiple occupants)
  As you can see commiting suicide in a one man fighter aircraft is priving your oponent off at least 57% of the XP he should be earning.
...and again
  Sure this is a game design flaw which the developers did not foresee and I'm sure they will fix in time, but meanwhile players are exploiting this flaw to annoy the guy who shot them down.

  This also a unfortunate side effect on the meta game. Since Anti-Air weapons are very much horrible at killing anything but aircraft, this also of makes the important role of Anti-Air to be less desired by players thus hurting the game balance.

  How about you, have you seen this happening? Do you also do it? Why?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Planetside 2: Increase your FPS

  Several of us gamers who still use older PCs struggle to get decent FPS(frames per second) in newer games, in my case I just don't have the finance to get a new CPU since it would also require me to buy a motherboard and because of that I'm stuck with my old dual core.

  Don't get me wrong I have no problems what so ever playing most games, as long as they are not  CPU intensive, the problem is that MMOs tend to require more CPU than GPU since its the CPU who deals with the number of players on the screen and what they are doing... unfortunately MMOs is most of what I play now a days so I had to find something that would improve my Planetside 2 frame rate without impacting my financial situation.

  Open your UserOptions.ini located in the game folder and change these values:
(for steam users: ...\Steam\steamapps\common\PlanetSide 2\)
  This will give you the lowest settings possible(even lower then the one you can choose in-game), with the exception of the "graphicsquality=2" which is needed to be able to see stealthed infiltrators, otherwise they would just be completely invisible.

  The "RenderDistance" is -1 by default which means the game will select an appropriate range depending on its performance, if you change this value(I've read people talking about setting it to 10000) its should also increase your performance, the problem is that if you set it too low you may end up being shot from players who are not showing on your screen(mainly snipers and vehicles).

  Windows has the habit of parking some CPU cores and not always unparking them very effectively, this may(or may not) influence performance while gaming, this feature however can be disabled allowing your CPU to be ready for maximum performance all the time with the following program:

 instructions and download link

  Unparking your CPU cores may(or may not) increase its heat generation, while not a problem for desktop PCs(unless you are having heat problem to begin with), notebooks/laptops usually suffer from airflow problems by design making them very susceptible to heat problems which may lead to reduced life expectancy of the overheated parts, so use it at your own risk.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Planetside 2: Aircraft vs Anti-Air balance

  The balance between aircraft and anti-air has always been a problem during the beta. It has gone back and forward from aircraft being utterly useless because they were easily shot down by the anti-air to being completely overpowered with each major patch.

  In the latest pre-launch patch it felt it was close to the right soft spot, however there is a small oversight which most do not seem to realize. The balance was made based on the state of the game at that point:
  • the developers gave a couple of thousands certificates due to rollbacks or other problems on 2-3 occasions.
  • when we could still use auraxium(which was giving every 5 min based on the territory your faction controlled) to unlock stuff it was fairly easy to stay afk, come back from college and have enough to unlock a weapon.
  • it was much easier to get certificates before the xp/cert ratio was severely reduced to 500:1. 
...meaning everyone had a huge number of unlocks and upgrades, and it was very common to see heavy assaults with AA lock-on missiles, MAXs with dual AA flacks, lighting-tanks with skyguard and other aircraft with AA guns and/or missiles.

  Now imagine how it will be on launch, the only AA you have by default is a MAX with a single flack or another aircraft, small-arms fire does so little dmg its not worth the ammo and it can even be further reduced by defense upgrades.

  You can say that "the ESFs(Empire Specific Fighters) wont have the air-2-ground rockets yet so it will be fine", sure but that only means you will be safer inside a tank even so the default main gunner weapon on the Liberator airship was buffed and it will shred through infantry and tanks alike.

  My advice to you is that you spend your first certificates on AA because the skies will be a major concern until there is enough AA to reach a balance, I for one plan to be up there on a Scythe or a Liberator wrecking havoc.

  What are your predictions about it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Planetside 2: beta keys

The last few weeks I've been playing Planetside 2 which is a large scale FPS game that's going to be released on the 20th of this month. Last weekend they added a large patch with lots of changes and content, so I received a few keys in the mail which want to share with the readers:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

One small step for gamers... one giant leap for me

Welcome to my blog, I'm a enthusiastic gamer who hops from game to game and who's experience taught that when people are hyped its hard to see the problems beyond the all the shininess, but once the hype is gone the game becomes black and white and we start to see things clearly.

After every game I play I begun looking back to the dozens of hours(possibly more) spent researching a game even before it launched now feels like a waste of time, which I'm sure every seasoned gamer has felt more than once.

No game is perfect nor do I expect them to be, however I like to talk about the flaws I find in games, from specific gameplay issues or bugs to design flaws. I may also do some tutorials/tips and some PROS and CONS of some in-game stuff that depending on the game can include things like skills, professions, weapons, etc.

Hope you enjoy reading my future posts.