Friday, April 18, 2008

Hockey Fight!

Fighting in hockey has been a controversial subject for a long time. However, it is an integral part of the game whether people like it or not. In hockey, players are often in dangerous positions where serious injury can occur from a cheap shot. Take Patrice Bergeron from the Bruins for instance. A cowardly cheap shot from behind effectively ended his season and came near to killing him. In order to deter this sort of thing, it takes more than a two minute penalty for roughing or a double minor. It takes the fear of getting the piss pounded out of you if you do that kind of shit. Enforcers have always been around in hockey. As great as Wayne Gretzky was, he would arguably not had as great a career if he didn't have guys like Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley watching his back. If all teams had to worry about was a two minute penalty, they would have cheap-shotted him all over the ice. I am not here to argue about whether fighting in hockey should be allowed or not. Suffice it to say that it is and always will be a part of the game. If that isn't your cup of tea, go watch another sport.

On to the point of the post. How do you simulate something like fighting in a hockey video game? Honestly, I have turned off fighting in pretty much every hockey video game I have played. The form it takes in video games is just gratuitous and does not model real life in its effect on the players or the game. First of all, it has never been fun to me. The game mechanic has always been very simple and unsatisfying. It also never has the effect on the players that it does in real life. Games can be turned around by a good fight. It gives the other players on the team a boost and builds morale. If you are sitting on the bench and your star players are getting pounded by cheap shots and questionable treatment, it gives you a lift to see one of your guys go out and beat the hell out of the player who is taking liberties.

I would like to see fighting in video game hockey have the same effect. There would be a reason to keep a few enforcers on your team this way. If they happen to also be able to play like Terry O'Reilly and Cam Neeley then that is a bonus. I would propose having an option to take the fighting out of the player's hands and let the computer simulate it. You as coach could send out your enforcer to do his job at strategic times and his ability would determine the outcome and change the morale of your team for better or worse. Not having control of the fight would make the outcome less certain. Let's fact it, the way hockey fighting is simulated now you would have to really suck to not win most fights. Fighting is a big part of hockey strategy and has been poorly implemented in hockey video games.

What do you think? How would you like to see fights implemented in hockey video games?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

They looked into my soul...

... and came out with this. Seriously though, has anyone ever bought a collectors edition just for the shit inside while not being terribly interested in the game itself? I have no idea if the game is going to be good or not. I like that they are focusing on making combat more interesting, but I have no way of knowing if they will be successful. And yet, I want to buy the collector's edition. If they have some sort of open beta, I will report back on the game.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Age of Conan is readying for launch.

Age of Conan gets ready for launch
- Pre-order programs now available in all Western territories - Get three day head-start in Hyboria -

Durham, USA – April 16, 2008 – Funcom and Eidos announce that Age of Conan pre-order programs are now fully available in all major territories, including USA, Germany, France, Spain, UK, Oceania and the Nordic countries. Conan fans and MMO gamers are already raving about the incredible pre-order items, including the War Mammoth and Killer Rhino, and today Funcom ups the ante and confirms that everyone who pre-orders may access Hyboria several days prior to the retail launch.*

Ever since Funcom and Eidos started the first pre-orders in early 2008, the program has received great feedback. The exceptional Age of Conan Collector's Edition has topped the charts in numerous online retail chains for weeks, including being #1 on several all-format lists. The most eager fans are therefore urged to order their copy of the Collector's Edition immediately as it only comes in one print-run.

Funcom now also confirms an early access program which will give customers a chance of a head-start in Age of Conan. Funcom reveals that American, European and Oceanic players may enter Age of Conan as early as the 17th of May. Mere weeks away, early adopters can now live, fight and explore in Hyboria, as well as getting an essential head-start before the hordes invade.

"We are very pleased with the reception Age of Conan has had in retail and we naturally hope that the early interest and our early access programs will materialize in an eventual success," said Morten Larssen, VP Sales and Marketing of Funcom. "The positive indications are naturally an honor, but they also bring a great responsibility. As we prepare the roll-out, we know our servers will be put to the test. We therefore hope potential players will aid us by signaling their interest as soon as possible so we can scale our servers and services accordingly."

Age of Conan launches on the 20th of May and is consistently mentioned as one of the most anticipated PC games in development. It has received more than twenty-five magazine covers and more than fifteen major awards, including numerous "Best MMO of E3" awards and the "Best Online Game of Show" award at GC 2007. Age of Conan is a key title in Microsoft's Games for Windows line-up, as well as a showcase title for nVidia.

Visit to join the thriving community or to sign up for the Beta

For a list of participating retailers or to get more information about the game, please visit

* The early access program is only available with certain retailers. A participant list can be found on the official Age of Conan websites. The early access is entirely voluntary, and opens up on the 17th of May for Oceanic and North American gamers, and on the 20th of May for European gamers. Pre-loading of the client will commence in advance. You need to pay a nominal 5 USD / EUR fee to take advantage of the offer, which includes client download and 10 days of subscription. When the early access offer expires you must enter the physical retail box gamekey to continue playing.

Why buy new?

I don't think PC game makers want me to buy their games new. The system requirements in order to play new games in high detail with every setting maxed are always prohibitive. There may be a short window of opportunity when you first upgrade your PC (assuming you shell out at least 2k for it) when you can run the newest games with all settings maxed. What other industry is like this? Imagine buying a movie and having certain special effects missing or diminished in some way because your DVD player can't handle it. I doubt you would be inclined to buy those DVDs at full price. You would probably wait until you could play them without the quality being gimped. It's that way with PC games. It really always has been for the most part. The thing is, I refuse to do it anymore. If I can't run a game at full detail then I will not buy it until I have that capability. It might not be for a few years and in that time the price of the game will have dropped greatly. Take Oblivion for example. When it first came out, I bought it for both the PC and Xbox 360 because I am sick that way. I played it through on the 360 and I have over 140 hours invested in that version because it ran the way it was meant to run. On the PC, I couldn't run the game at any where near the same quality as on the 360. I have just now started to play it on PC having just upgraded. You can buy Oblivion for the PC now for 30 bucks. It runs perfectly smooth on my system now with all details maxed. All I really did was give Bethesda 20 extra dollars for the privilege to have the box sit on my desk for a couple years. One of the drawing points of the PC version is the fact that user created mods can give you a whole new experience and extend your play time with the game. That content takes a while to develop and sort out. By waiting until now to play the game, I have access to a matured mod database and I can run the game the way it was meant to run. For these and many other reasons, I won't be buying PC games unless I can run them they way they were meant to be run.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Settlers of Catan

I have talked about Settlers of Catan before. In fact, I started out this blog with a post about it. The game's appeal seems to be pretty much universal. I usually play the game with a group of friends who are very good at it and we have played for several years now. I decided to buy a copy so I would own it for myself. I had the game for a long time with out even opening it. Last Sunday, I decided I wanted to try and see if I could teach my Fiance and our Exchange Student (who is from Vietnam) how to play. They both are not gamers like me. However, they do enjoy an occasional board game or card game. We set up the board and I taught them how to play in a pretty short amount of time. As it turns out I won, but the game was very competitive. They were able to grasp the nuances of the game rather quickly which is a testament to the game's designer. Actually the only reason I won was because the two other players were battling over having the Longest Road card. If it hadn't been for that I probably would have lost. They are both enthusiastic about the game and I now have two more people to play with. I guess the moral of the story is that if a board game is really well designed, it shouldn't be too hard to introduce new people to it. You then can never complain about a lack of people to play the game with.