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Entries from August 2008

Jonathan Coulton Rickrolls Thousands, Cheered

August 30th, 2008 Comments Off

Film at 11.

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Levine Keynote

August 29th, 2008 Comments Off

Ken Levine’s talk to open PAX didn’t stray terribly far from last year’s Keynote. He walked us through his childhood, his budding nerdery, and how he ultimately found his way into design. Along the way, he brushed against some nerd culture ephemera (Logan’s run, the Atari, etc.), and the underlying message was a constant, “it’s ok to be a nerd.”

This is just our second time at PAX, and two keynotes does not a pattern make, but it’s not terribly surprising that a community event is about making the community feel good about itself. It’s just that a big part of being a gamer is the basement-dwelling socially inept stereotype, and shame is really the low-hanging fruit. Nevertheless, it seems like a tired trope to trot out—if there’s no reason to be ashamed, then why do we dwell on it so much?

Regardless, he gives a smart and funny talk, so go looking for it on YouTube. We’ll try to post a grainy mp3 when we return.

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PAXelsocks

August 27th, 2008 3 Comments

Pixelsocks.com is going to PAX! Stay tuned as we:
•Deliver “on the ground” gaming news
•Pester developers with questions
•Stare dourly at new games
•Stalk the PAX 10
•Don’t sleep

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see you there!

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Gold Farming estimated at 400k workers, $500m

August 25th, 2008 Comments Off

The BBC is reporting a recent study from Manchester University that estimates that there are 400,000 workers farming gold and being paid $500,000,000 for their trouble. If you do the math, it comes out to about $100 each month for each worker. Of course, that number drops as different geographical regions are willing to work for less to generate more work.

Take a long look at that epic mount you just bought using farmed gold. Does it make you happy?

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Moore Advocates Undermining Pirates, Not Suing

August 22nd, 2008 Comments Off

Peter Moore, EA Executive and former Microsoft veep has publicly warned against suing your consumers, even if they are pirates. Turning the other cheek, Moore points out that the tactic didn’t work so well for the RIAA, and it won’t work now. It’s like beating up a kid for his lunch money after he threw a spitball at you. You may hurt him in the short term, but overall you only increase his lust for slimy revenge.

Moore’s solution to the problem is, “build game experiences that make it more difficult for there to be any value in pirating games.” Of course, that’s easy for him to say. He currently heads up the EA Sports division, a gaming genre that is definitively multiplayer. Since online multiplayer is tracked by remote servers, the only pirates it doesn’t foil are the ones who can steal or spoof other user accounts. It’s like online activation DRM, but your consumer base wants to use it. Pity single-player gaming developers don’t have something like that.

Or do they? Games are moving online, even single-player games. From achievements to leaderboards to simple chat interfaces, developers can shoehorn an online component into just about anything. If they standardize that component, it’ll hardly take any development resources at all. Humans are social animals–we (usually) like others to know what we’re doing and to share our experiences. Maybe Moore is right, and gaming can leverage that fact to cut down on piracy.

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Team Fortress 2 Unleashes Sandvich

August 20th, 2008 Comments Off

In what may be the first tactical deployment of sandwich technology outside an RPG, Valve’s Team Fortress 2 has added an unlockable for the Heavy class characters: The Sandvich. Valve advises that it be used to encourage Heavies to defend vital positions, but its full potential is realized in the introductory video.

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Energy Tanks Now Publicly Available, Mega Man Steps Down as National Hero

August 18th, 2008 1 Comment

Siliconera has reported that, to market Mega Man 9, Capcom has released a new energy tank drink. Gussied up in a familiar blue, this beverage will doubtless return you from the brink of death during those interminable boss battles (though medical application after trauma has not yet been tested by the FDA, so battle bosses responsibly). All this for about $1.25; Mega Man should be so lucky.

This isn’t the first time an energy drink has been used to market a game, but it’s probably the most trouble a company has taken to hype their downloadable content. Careful, GameStop, the downloadable content fairy is coming to take all your profits.

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MMORPG Battle Requires 18+ Hours

August 15th, 2008 Comments Off

1up is reporting a guild’s effort to defeat FFXI boss Pandora Warden. After 18 hours and 20 changes in the AI, the guild decided to call it off to avoid becoming another statistic.

The most obvious problem here is the developers’ total lack of respect for their players. Contrary to their reputation for consuming addiction and leaving dead gamers in internet cafes, MMORPGS are remarkably casual friendly. Persistent progress means that you can nickel and dime your way to victory in a way that other gaming genres don’t provide. However, despite saved progress in instances, enduring backpack contents, and persistent quest progress, combat has never been a durable achievement. If you are overcome in battle, you can’t nip right back to finish your foe off a la Bioshock, and even if you could, enemies respawn every ten minutes or so. If this guild ever returns to Pandora Warden, they have the same 20 hours waiting that they did before, which is tantamount to the developer saying, “Yeah, we’re not really gonna let you win this one without debasing yourself.”

More subtly, this boss raises the point that FFXI has been balanced in such a way that it’s possible to achieve equilibrium. When was the last time you fought a boss battle in World of Warcraft and decided to call it a draw? Most MMORPG combat follows an attrition model; the side with the most ample resources or the slowest loss of those resources tends to win. An eighteen hour boss marathon means that the healers aren’t just keeping the rest of the party healthy, they’re recovering their mana faster than the boss can deplete it. Since the boss has a nearly insurmountable number of hit points, neither side is going to lose.

Finally, it may be that Pandora Warden can’t be killed using conventional attrition tactics. Unkillable bosses are a fine RPG tradition that has stretched across the years. It encourages puzzle solving instead of workaday combat and livens games up. It’s a mechanic that hasn’t been particularly emphasized in MMORPGs, and it may be due. If that’s the case, however, the communication of those expectations to the players was clearly inadequate.

In any case, it’s very disappointing.

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Welcome to PixelSocks.com!

August 13th, 2008 2 Comments

If you’re new hereabouts, then please let me welcome you to our humble site. If you’re here from the old livejournal blog, please rest assured that whatever premonitions of doom you may have heard were greatly exaggerated.

Either way, welcome to the site. The mission here is to deliver video game news and reviews that walk the fine line between accessibility and worthwhile content. If you have any comments regarding posts you see here, please create an account (over on the right) and chat to your heart’s content. The site is still fresh and new and we think it works, but please let us know if it misbehaves.

Thanks again for visiting, we hope to see you again soon.

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Blizzard Further Incentivizes Warcraft Evangilism

August 8th, 2008 2 Comments

Coming hot on the heels of an update that reduced the levelling time between levels 30-60, warcraft has made a play to further compress the grind. By signing up a friend, you can reap 90 days of: tripled experience gain, an hourly ability to summon your friend to you, a free level for every two levels your friend gains, and a shiny new Zhevra mount. All that comes on top of the free month you used to get for doing Blizzard’s marketing for them. While this will no doubt engender fanboy rage at being cheated out of a portion of their lives, it should help ease the pain of helping a new friend to the level cap.

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