Monday, March 24, 2008

Chapter 11: Network Error

(Note: This play through was recorded pre-1.2 patch)

Yawn. Fun time, fun time. I love fun time. Too bad it doesn't happen when I play Hellgate. So let's start off with more crap then, shall we? I mean, it's not like I try to pick at small, meaningless things. These things just pop out and say, "Hey, look at me! I'm unfinished/illogical content!" Take the bruisers, for instance. I mean, what a great concept for an enemy. They can be ranged attackers and they can be melee attackers as well. Why exactly they couldn't do this with other enemies is unbeknownst to me. After all, they seem to be very keen on putting half of their game into niches is pretty cliche. Of course, my favorite part is how the bruiser's long-ranged attack has an AOE explosion. Which is completely fine--I make every attempt to get the hell out of the way. However, what I don't find "completely fine" is the gigantic hit box that accompanies the projectiles.

I'm glad to know a projectile 15 feet away from me can magically damage me.

I dunno, maybe it's a compromise because it's so easy to dodge the 20MPH projectiles? But, ah, you've always got to love compromise in this game. Why make the game work when you can break it in the process? Why take your time to make something logical when you can just rush the content and hope people will just say, "Oh, it's not big thing." After all, that mentality is how we let them get away with all those "little things," which, combined together, become a huge, big thing.

Anyways, moving along and having fun in Act 4. You know, only one act left before I get to complete the game. I quick look at /played tells me I've only played 18 hours. I suppose half of that time I have to credit to doing all those worthless side quests as well. Either way, it's a little disheartening to know that I'm only one act away from having this game to leave a lasting impression on me or to finally get better. Either way, I wouldn't let the game get off that easily either by saying, "Oh, it gets good by Act 5." I wanted a finished game, not a half-assed one. You got that one, Roper? While you're out there screaming bloody murder to every news media outlet you can and telling people that the game "failed" because people expected "too much," I'm telling you that you're wrong for labeling my playing expectancy out of your game. After all, maybe if you guys actually bothered to discuss this on your official forums instead of hiding then you might know that.

Things did look to start brightly. Finally, a new tileset. Friggin' finally. Seriously. I was getting VERY tired of the recycled street/sewers combo, not to mention I didn't bother to slip through an Oblivion gate--I mean, a Hellgate, because there is only one tileset for the dreary platform universe. Of course, having to wait until Act 4 for feel like I had actually progressed somewhere from the beginning wasn't exactly my idea of believing there was some effort going on here.

Finally, a different area. Too bad it looks too much like the Catacombs of Diablo II Act I. Oh well. Maybe the people who haven't played Diablo II will be none the wiser.

Of course, it's great that the place is lit up like a Christmas tree. Everything seems to be so well-lit for an area that only seems to have tiny candles as light sources but seem to radiate a light radius of halogen light bulbs. Anyways, Act 4 also happens to be the first Act in which you get to experience random Templar romping around some areas. These guys not only look like they might've been undecaplets, but they also seem to have Forrest Gump's IQ level as well, which might be the reason why we're even losing the war in the first place.

Aim, then shoot. Aim, THEN shoot.

I mean, Flagship needs to get an award for quite possibly the WORST friendly AI that has graced the gaming industry in quite some time. Half the time these guys stand around shooting in the wrong direction; the other half they are hitting the enemy for 1 to 2 damage. It's the greatest looking fluff I've seen in a game, I must say.

Why are these sandbags even here? They're not protecting anyone, they're poorly placed, and any attempt to make a fortification is destroyed because it isn't closed. Couple that with four bumbling idiots, then you're more likely to have a single rocket bot do more protection then this "fortification."

Let's make a quick direction change here. Let's talk about the storyline. You know, the one with a cliche arrogant high-and-mighty leader who doesn't actually know what they're doing? Yeah, anyways. So I'm off saving some Templar butt. Now let me paint you a picture. When I'm given a quest to save an important Templar lieutenant, I expect it to be an epic battle. I don't, however, expect it to be a little gauge marching across the screen to "heal" them.

How original.

Speaking of "new" things, I happened to chance upon a new enemy as well. It was an interesting creature alright. It looked like a flying scarecrow dressed like a Harajuku kid. He also seemed to have a Boo Complex because he kept running away from me. I stood there for a while wondering if he was going to do anything except float there, but he didn't. So either he's giving peace a chance or this was just one of those "unfinished content" times (I seem to come across a lot of those moments).

"Doom Husk." I'm shaking in my boots.

On to the streets of more useless and nonsensical "new" things. It's great to see that turret from shooting down the Exospector make its way to the middle of the street. I mean, sure, why it's even there or why it's even intact when the place is demon ravaged is a bag a logic we don't want to open because it involves thought, but I decided to play along and man the turret. Of course, I continued to do this every time I saw one after my first experience with a turret, because about 95% of the time it seems the line of sight for the turret is blocked. So unless the enemy has flying enemies, the turret becomes a nice little thing to look at and admire and nothing more.

It's great to know I can use this turret to kill nothing at all.

Of course, my current favorite feature is my invisible rifle. Oh, I just love my invisible rifle. I shoot it and the sound bite for the firing of a round doesn't play, but the impact of the bullet upon the surface does. I see my weapon muzzle flash and I see my weapon mods on the weapon, but my rifle? Invisible! How spooky! But, more importantly, how extremely half-assed and insulting to see something that should have ONLY been found in alpha find its way to the "finished" content.

Look ma', no rifle!

I always love the equally half-assed responses as well. "Oh, don't switch your weapons when you summon your bots/drone." Yeah, that makes it all better. I, the consumer, should go the extra mile for the developer, the provider, that borked the function in the first place. Silly me to voice my opinion--an opinion I have more than a right to voice. Of course, while the invisible rifle is a fun feature that has been currently irking me quite profusely, I must say I did let out a laugh when a familiar screen everyone from alpha/beta remembers popped up on my screen when I tried to zone to another area. I guess some things never change.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chapter 10: Who left the content out from the content jar?

(Note: This play through was recorded pre-1.2 patch)

I think I'll start things off by showing you guys a pretty picture. It's serene and keeps you at ease; something you'd probably find hanging on a masseuse's wall.

I think the game had a darker atmosphere when it DIDN'T have sky boxes.

Of course, the only problem is that the screen shot comes from a game where you're supposed to find yourself on post-apocalyptic world ravaged by the things of biblical nightmares. And despite the fact that the moon is hiding behind sparsely-dark clouds, the area seems to light up like a Christmas tree. I think this might also be a key moment in time to mention that, at this point in the game, I hadn't died a single time. Not once was I rushing away from battle and using a potion or anything at all. As a matter of fact, if I could I'd probably put out a nice bed out on the street and call it home because disaster is more likely to strike in a station between two children acting like adults.

But enough about trying to make sense out of the atmosphere. Let's move onto some other great game mechanics, eh? So after figuring out that I wasn't going to need two categories of the items I was getting from breaking down non-Hunter stuff, I decided to sell it off (considering trying to sell it on a chat channel would've been tedious and would've yielded little to no results). So I head on over to Wilde (who I'm sure is in no way an attempt to make an attempted pun to a famous Oscar) to sell the garbage. Of course, before I did, I took a close look and found something a little curious.

Math is hard. At least for London survivors it is.

As you can clearly see in this picture, you'll notice how the normal relic shards (the ones on the bottom) equate a multiple value of 5 per shard. So 110 normal shards brings us out to 550 palladium. Now, are you following along? Good. Of course, now logic would dictate that rare shards would yield out a higher selling price. I mean, they are rare, right? Wrong. As we can also see, the rare relic shards also equate a multiple value of 5 per shard as well, so my 75 rare relic shards only bring in 375 palladium.

So I retract my previous statement. I could probably make more money spamming a chat channel and then rising the core price of rare shards by twice their shop value. At least, that would also seem logic at least. So my 75 rare relic shards should actually bring in 750 palladium. My biggest question, however, is how this was even an oversight in development. So basically the protip here is that you're better off selling off rare shards then you are selling them at the shop because you can make more money that way.

Now, while I did complain about how the stations were packed earlier, I had reality hit me like a wet salmon when I stepped into Monument Station one fine day.

This town ain't big enough for the two of us.

Now I can only come to three conclusions concerning this matter. Either the difference from lowbies to highbies is as big as the Bomber Gap, the majority of players are off playing in instances, or the majority of lowbies get a taste of what Hellgate is and quickly drop the game. Of course, considering peak play times would usually yield about 8,000 players at launch and now they only yield about 3,000 players (and dropping), I wonder which one is the likeliest (and I wonder how many of the "lowbies" are just alts).

Either way, I was just glad I had finally finished Act 3. I was hopeful when playing through it. You know, still hopeful and all that garbage and what not. Hoping that maybe this will make a quick turn around. Hoping I'll see something that seems like it wasn't alpha content picked up off the floor and duct-taped to the "finished" product. Hopeful that the finishing of Act 3 would be interesting. Of course, which came to no surprise, all my "hoping" did nothing at all. Let's recap on the recrap, shall we?

You're in the Army now! You're not behind the plough! You'll never get rich, you sonofabitch, you're in the Army now!

Yeah. That was fun. Shoot at some boils, shoot at some orbiles/worms. Rinse, lather, repeat. Times ten. To the power of seven. Honestly, this was one of those parts when you're playing the game and you're trying not to fall asleep--literally. Do I need to even say it any more? Moving on to an even heavier subject; the act 3 boss. I mean, if you can call it a boss.

Like shootin' a giant vagina in a barrel.

Now, I'm told from melee classes (read: Templar) that Oculis is actually a challenge. However, for my Engineer, standing there and shooting at every eye and popping those zits before they could sputter around and do anything, it was more like amateur voyeurism. At one point in time I even stopped shooting to see if the eyes were even supposed to do anything, but all they did was float around, to which my rocket bot made short work of. Talk about a worthless boss. Oh well. Hooray for Act 3, I guess. I know it's the end as well because a magical portal opened up and I met some obscure person/thing talk about some nonsense followed by a cut scene of a book for the third time. Hold on a sec, folks.

*stands up*

*applauds Flagship Studios for a job well done in the effort-making department*

*sits back down*

Now that we have that out of the way, I'd just like to finish up on some other fun stuff I observed in this play session of mine. You know, just some cooky stuff we find in Hellgate that makes a boat load of sense. Let's start, shall we? Exhibit A is a nice screen shot that proves that optics is just a bunch of hooey.

Schizophrenia or piss-poor developer effort? You decide!

Next we have Exhibit B, which teaches us that in Hellgate you can never be too redundant.

Holy crap, you solved the mystery Colombo!

Next we have Exhibit C, which proves to us that obtaining a nanoshard is about as random as a Chinese fire drill.

Don't waste your time breaking down rare, legendary, and unique items in the desperate attempt in thinking you have a better chance at earning a nanoshard, just break down a pair of normal boots and you might be surprised by the results!

And last, but definitely not least, we have my favorite, Exhibit D, where, due to budget cuts in the art department, led to the infamous manufacturing of invisible rifles.

How to obtain the invisible rifle.
Step 1: Zone in.
Step 2: summon a bot/drone.
Step 3: Switch your weapon in the process of the summon.
You now have an invisible rifle.

But enough fun and games. The real highlight of tonight? Why, it has to be my oath to not abandon or shirk a quest of any size or sort, just to get the "real feel" of what any other player would go through. Which brings me to that damn Hunter in Monument Station in which you have to do a slew of quests just so he can get into some other Hunter's quartermaster pants. Despite the fact that the whole line of all side quests I have performed so far are fed exes, I still didn't bite my lip. I didn't even bite my lip when the first four quests I came across I needed to zone over again to spawn the last needed item. I didn't even bite my lip when the last "inconspicuous workstation" was clipping through a tunnel and took me about a half hour of searching to find and only see that I couldn't select it. However, I nearly chewed off my damn lip when I rezoned and found three giant legendary skeletor mobs, two rare skeleton mobs, and two rare bull-thingies that happened to all be camping out right at the entrance to the zone. Needless to say, I was gang banged.

Hey, hey! if you want to pillage my corpse please take a number and wait your turn!

Well that was certainly fun. My first death was attributed to a spawn rape of seven mega mobs. So now things are starting to become much clearer now. Hellgate does not have a middle ground. It's like Marxist theory, really. You've got your bourgeoisie and your proletariat; your insanely hard and insanely easy. Hell, why come to a middle ground when you can just continue on to frustrate your players? Why do anything right when you can continue to do it wrong and make the outlines in stone deeper at how much you can't do anything at all? More so, I would like to know why you remain silent about this issue. Is it because you're afraid of losing subscriptions and having numerous founders rally for a refund? Is this why you're desperately scrounging to other markets and advertising it as, "From the makers of Diablo!"? Because right now it looks like you're just trying to sucker in as many people before they start to take a hint that this game happens to be one of the most horribly buggy, horribly over-played-in-themes, horribly reused ideas that has graced the gaming market in a decade and has made a significant impact in sales on launch. It's like the Great Train Robbery, Ocean's 11, and Entrapment rolled up into one game. So, are they incredibly smart or are they incredibly stupid? Eh, I guess it depends if you're either a consumer or an economist.

You know when I said I wouldn't drop any quests? I lied.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chapter 9: Sense and Sensibility

There I was. Standing on the edge of a building that had the floors above ripped off. A small little fellow by the name of "Rob Someone" stood next to the turret. He was a surely fellow who didn't talk at all or explain why he was there. Such mystery! Such drama! Such plot depth! I looked to the skies and saw the creeping behemoth. The Exospector was making an attempt to escape. It was scared. Scared of what could happen to it if I caught up with it. We had the demons on the run. I immediately manned the turret and took aim to the sky. I was about to give London a firework show it had never seen before.

Of course, it sounds much more interesting when I try to make it as such. However, I just pretty much shook my head through the whole ordeal. I mean, what, with some inconspicuous 4-foot-tall man by the name of "Rob Someone" standing next to the turret with no apparent explanation as to what the hell he is or why he's even there or why he still has his alpha placeholder name, followed by an Exospector in the sky that doesn't move at all. Oh, and hey, how about that. There's a turret conveniently placed on an already-rickety structure. So I put a blanket over my head and had some fun.

Well, this was certainly fun. Shooting non-stop for five minutes at this big thing in the sky certainly screamed excitement in every bone in my body.

I keep telling myself: "This has to get better. Please, for the sake of my humanity, this has to get better." I mean, I'm willing for Hellgate to prove me wrong. I'm wanting! So why not prove me wrong? Why lower the bar so low that you end up tripping over it? The game plays like a F2P game, considering how one-sided it is in its game play, and every now and then it tries to change up the mix with this sort of garbage. I mean, it wouldn't be garbage if there was some effort put to it. Why didn't they have a high-time action sequence where you're riding on the back of a truck manning this turret as the truck tries to keep up with the fleeing Exospector down the ravaged streets of London? Now that would be FUN. As a matter of fact, that would indeed scream effort. So would many other sorts of sound effects, or, quite possibly, the ground shaking and buildings crumbling when the Exospector hits the ground. Or maybe bring it up a notch and have Rob Someone driving the truck, spouting out drivel and nonsense as he piles through demons trying to block his way. Then you bring in one of those catchy boss tunes that blare out of your speakers at the wrong time in game play and you have a recipe of effort and win.

Of course, what I just described would take time and effort, two things Flagship Studios has rectified over and over again that those are things they are not interested in. No no! Why do something brilliant and new when you can just press ctrl + v? I mean, I'm only in Act 2. Why the hell does it look identical to Act 1? Yes, yes, I know; it's a city. It's not like it could drastically change. However, having more than five "random" city areas would certainly take away the feeling of piling through a level I've played before.

Then again, time and effort. Alas, poor Hellgate! I knew him, Horatio!

Perhaps what gets me riled up the most is that all these side quests that I am still doing are still not scaling one bit to my character at all. I mean, honestly. I understand that the first quest in a line of quests given by an NPC isn't going to be all that rewarding, but for God's sakes it doesn't give me an incentive to go out and perform it either. I'm sick and tired of being given 30 palladium and 1,000 XP as the first quest reward. I would actually earn more in both departments just by trudging through the areas to collect the damn items needed to complete the quest, only to be offered ONE item type for my class, which usually ends up being worthless junk anyways.

Very slick you cheap bastard. I mean, I DEFINITELY want an 18/17 armor over my 112 armor. Oh, and hey, why don't you give it to me unidentified as well?

I suppose the driving incentive to do these quests is that, eventually, you are offered blue and orange quest rewards. Of course, I've yet to get a blue/orange item from an NPC that I've decided to keep, but they are quite ripe in the department of breaking down items. Apparently this whole new system of nano forging items was too "easy," so Flagship Studios upped the anty by requiring extremely rare items called nanoshards in order to upgrade the items. The catch? Nanoshards can only be obtained by breaking down items and crossing our fingers and hoping that you'll get a shard. Of course, the process is completely random. You "supposedly" have higher chances if the item is blue or orange, but ten to one I usually find myself breaking down orange items and only getting components out of it, which usually leaves me with something like this:

I'd love to be able to keep my volt rifle and take it to me to higher-leveled areas and be just as effective, but without nanoshards I'm up the paddle without a creek.

I don't really understand it at all. This isn't challenging, it's just plain stupid. Why is there only ONE way to obtain nanoshards (short of trading for them)? Why can't we bring in components from all four categories and have, let's say, 50 pieces from normal components and 25 pieces from rare components from each category and have that forge as one nanoshard? Then again, as I am not a subscriber, there probably is a system set up like that for those that have Horadric--whoops, I mean "transmogrifying" cubes. Of course, I thought the idea for subscribing was to have added content, not have an incentive to stop playing with a broken system.

Moving right along. As I spoke earlier of "random" level design, I happened to finally chance across the fabled "new" level design for the streets. It was quite interesting really. I mean, here I was shooting down a continuous pattern of alleyways leading to nowhere, and when I mean continuous, I mean they probably designed about 5% of the level and then copy and pasted it about 20 times. So instead of trying to create something large and complex, they created something tedious and repetitive. I'm sure they fooled some people out there in thinking it was "new."

After about half way through this level, and figuring out it wasn't going to change in looks, I just decided it for the best to run past it all. After all, it's not hard to get to the next area when the level you're in is completely linear.

Of course, along my way I just had to stop for a second and finally talk about the destructibles in the game. You know, all the propane tanks and explosive barrels just sitting around in the middle of the street completely untouched in a demon-ravaged world. Same goes for all those boxes as well. I mean, makes perfect sense, especially when you walk up to a couple of barrels and shoot them, having them explode in your face without a single point of damage, but yet, miraculously damaging your enemies.

Got any questions about propane? Or propane accessories? Or why exactly they don't hurt you?

However, I finally came to an end to the old content I didn't get a chance to test in alpha/beta and found myself needing to delve deep into an Exospector and obtain his heart. I was actually excited for once, expecting to find new content, and such questions as, "I wonder what does it look like inside?" filled my head. Of course, I had a bad feeling about it when I finally came to the scene where the downed Exospector was.

Hmm, a magical portal appearing out of thin air for no logical reason at all. Does that come standard with all Exospectors?

Of course, I'm still trying to be positive here. After all, I still hope that the game can improve. However, my hopes seem to be falling on deaf ears and might just start becoming wishful thinking. Of course, this was more so spurned when I stepped through the portal and thought I had glitched myself to a very familiar place.

Wow, the inside of an Exospector and the mind of Techsmith 314 seem very alike! Gasp! Maybe they are ONE IN THE SAME? BURN THE WITCH!

Honestly, how stupid do they think we are? I was nearly expecting Bill Roper to pop from the side of my screen and say, "Toasty!" It's things like this that bring out a strong consumer reaction in people, and I certainly say they have a right when the developers are insulting their intelligence. If I wanted to treated like an idiot, I'd become a caveman. Of course, until then, I'm sure we'll keep coming across senseless antics of broken systems and repetitive content. Oh well. Here's to looking forward to Act 3.

Analyzer: 25 palladium
Realizing identifying the majority of the items will cost you 5 palladium when you end up selling it because it only jumped up in 20 palladium selling price: Stupid

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chapter 8: Someone's poisoned the water hole!

Ooh boy, have I had fun or what? I mean, seriously. For once I'm not joking about this! I've actually found humor in finding so many faults with the game that it has become like a sort of fun little hobby. The name of the game? "How many faults can you spot within an hour?" Let's start, shall we?

While my night did start off slow in the department of trying to find the last damn flesh sample from a foul seraphim in Upper Ground, I did find myself making my way, for the second time, running through the same zone just to get to that blasted zone. Of course, along my way, I enjoy a good skip and hop. I mean, there is debris all over the place on the empty river bed. What sort of fun could I conjure up by hopping onto a still-intact boat? Of course, nothing can be as frustrating as pressing the jump key and just having your character just sit there idly.

As I was waiting for the next area to respawn with monsters, I drilled my character to understand that when I press the jump button I do, in fact, expect him to jump.

Yes yes, not such a lively topic I understand, but there are just some of the smallest things that do crawl under my skin. For instance, like not being able to key bind the control and shift keys because they are predisposed to act as permanent in-game buttons for on-the-fly hotkeys. As a lefty my keyboard setting in FPS games has always had me bind the right control key as jump. Of course, I found that impossible as the control keys (both of them) are reserved for on-the-fly boosters (such as fire retardant potions or adrenaline pills). Of course, why there isn't an option to turn off such a stupid feature (No, I do not want to use a fire retardant in the middle of a fight with spectral enemies. Sorry.) especially when you rarely carry any such items is beyond me as well. So, right now, the jump key, for the very first time in a game that offers me to jump, is set to num 0. I guess the upside is that my pinky is now finally getting a workout.

After spending some fun time jumping in place for a few minutes, I decided to walk on through to Upper Ground. Remember, I'm still trying to keep on the line of completing EVERY single quest, no matter how menial or repetitive it may seem. In case you have forgotten why, it's more due to the fact that I 'm trying to see if Flagship Studios tries to vary it up a bit or not in the department of side quests. So, I go along my merry way in Upper Ground killing seraphim left and right, just like I did the last time. Amazingly enough, I clear out the area of seraphim again and not a single one drops the required (and last) item for the quest. Not a SINGLE one. And I know, because I spent the next ten minutes going through the area from top to bottom three times just to make sure the item didn't elude me.

While I didn't find the last flesh sample in my third stint in searching the area, I did find one elusive seraphim that some how got himself stuck inside a building with no roof. Oh, and no, just for kicks, he didn't drop a flesh sample either.

Oh well. Maybe I'll just have three times the fun by restarting the instances once again. At least I'm getting plenty of opportunities to build up my experience and collect loot, right? I mean, considering how crazy I must be to continue this quest and do it over a third time I need to focus on the very little positivity I can find out here. After all, I did find a piece of armor that made me want to chuck my dye kit down the fiery inferno (I'm getting really sick and tired at looking at my 98% black 2% yellow armored guy). And hey, there's always Tetris as well!

Doo doo dee doo doo dee doo doo dee doo doo dee doo dee doo dee doo doo doo...

Eh, who the hell am I kidding. I think at this point in time I was looking for something very sharp to stab myself in the foot with. Perhaps if I was in physical agony it would take away my anguish from having to go through the area a third time. But hey, I'm a trooper. I have a right to bitch. I did pay $60 for this product after all. Don't like it? Don't read it. Pretty simple. But let's move on to a lighter subject, shall we? How about some sight-seeing?

You know you're a smash in the art department when you cook up an in-game advertisement for a store selling clothing for tall people and you have to jump on a dumpster and pan the third person camera up to see what the store is about.

So I decided maybe I'd press my luck and just go to the next area after Upper Ground. You know, just to see what I'd come across. Maybe get some good loot or get some more experience. That way instead of just restarting the instance all over again I'd spend ten or fifteen minutes exploring Barge House while the seraphim respawned in Upper Ground. Of course, it didn't take very long for me to find a lovely graphical glitch. Of course, while people are of the opinion that unless you're not a programmer or a game developer yourself that you can't actually point out something as a glitch because you have no "credentials" to do so, I'm still of the opinion that us low-brow folks can spot trouble here and there. I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

Now you see it...

Now you don't!

Yeah, you could imagine my surprise when I turned a bit and found that the whole area but the ground texture had disappeared. Good times. The fun didn't end there in Barge House as well.

I'm no expert here, but this appears to be a glitch.

So after spending another 10 or 15 minutes trying to look for some more of these glitches (DISCLAIMER: I am not a programmer so my opinion obviously does not matter) in Barge House, I gave up on just two big glaring ones and decided to go back to Upper Ground. Lo and behold the place had respawned quite nicely, which gave me the opportunity to clean out the whole area once more of foul seraphim (which were in plenty in supply). So here I am, once again, clearing out the place. I'm heading down the very end of the last alley way looking and hoping that there is still one last seraphim that would be happy enough to drop a damn flesh sample. So I round the corner, found out that I had missed one that was stuck also in another building with no roof and coaxed him to come on out and play. And would you know it, the bastard dropped a flesh sample. Well, at least I've proven you can get your way in Hellgate--as long as you try about fifteen times over and over again.

Repeativity never tasted so sweet.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Chapter 7: Thanks for Standing Still

Sorry for the lack of updates, folks. Considering my progress through the game has been tedious and menial so far, I decided that not bothering it for a few weeks means I wouldn't have missed much. Besides, I hear they're too busy working with the Asian market to get them patched up first instead of the people they released a half-finished game to first. But hey, I'm no economic expert. Anyways.

Today I'll divulge a bit on enemy tactics, or the lack thereof. More specifically, why exactly do some of the enemies turn so suddenly retarded and would rather stand there looking at you in the face while you pump led full of them then would they want to try and go around the obstacle blocking their path? Ah, well, that may be the problem there. You know all this great coding in this game doesn't make me surprised why some of the enemies just decide to chill every now and then and let themselves take a beating. It turns an easy game into "shooting fish in a barrel" easy.

This Bruiser did start to go up the stairs once I tossed a grenade at his buddies, but it seems like he might have got his foot caught because he decided to chill right here for me to kill him.

Moving right along, going through the same process of dodge, shoot, loot, and continuing my progress, I didn't think much in doing something that mirrored a tedious day job. That is, until I magically fell through the map. Yep. That was definitely a fun experience. I was fighting some Gremlins in a subway when, all of the sudden, I side-stepped, fell through the map, and was magically teleported back to the beginning. At first I thought it was just a glitch. I mean, hey, it definitely wouldn't be the first. But then I found out, after dodging the Gremlins again, that it was very repeatable indeed.

In the general vicinity of the spot I'm shooting at is where I would magically "fall" and be teleported back to the beginning of the level.

Back to enemy tactics. I can remember quite clearly back in alpha/beta bringing up the issue of how demon troopers' sword reach was too far. And I don't mean I was complaining about how much reach it had, I was complaining about how a demon trooper can and would swing its sword nearly five or six feet away from me but magically land a hit. Perhaps if I show you what I mean we can be on the same page here.

Swing batta batta...SWING AND A MI--Oh.

Yep. I'm just so glad to see that's still here. I mean, yes, let's go ahead and make a compromise. Let's make a world that makes little sense as it is now, considering its design, and then let's try and "balance" things out so the melee attackers aren't a complete lack of a threat to ranged players. Yes, rather then have these enemies have alternate ranged weapons to be just as equally effective, we should only give them one set of preset weapons and just do what every other game has been doing for nearly the past 20 years in FPS shooters. Then again, I'm sure something like that would've been way too complicated to do, so I guess I'm just asking for too much here.

Well, I decided to go back to fiddling around with the main quest. More specifically, I decided to take my time on a quest that I happened to enjoy the most, considering it was completely dark and you had to rely on a headpiece flashlight to shine your way. Yes, I'm talking about The Infection, or better known as, "What more than half the game's environments should be like." I always found that quite interesting, really. Every single area you ever go to the entire place is well-lit. Ducts, subways, streets, etc. For some reason the lights are still on. Never mind the fact that the world is clearly ravaged and war torn. No no, stop with the logic questions. Those aren't allowed here you intelligent person. Dumb it down a few notches and you'll do just fine.

This was full of win--probably more the reason why we see this environment only once.

I mean, I remember the first trailer quite well. The labeling of the game as a horror genre looking to earn more then its fair share as a M-rated title. The two Templar only being in the general vicinity of two poorly-lit power-generated lights and then walking out of the station and onto the pitch-black streets, where flares and the ambient light of hell peaking out from below lit their way. I was expecting a dark and dreary landscape that gave the impression that it wasn't safe to go out alone. Instead our characters are one-men armies traveling down the Home Depot light fixtures aisle. But I digress.

Speaking further on the environment, I would like to bring up the talking point of how random items you find on the street are, well, random. And I mean they're not even bothered to be conveniently placed or logically explained. No, why the hell would you question something in which there was a severe lack of developer effort in? You bad, bad consumer! Asking all those naughty questions.

Inconspicuous. Adj. "Not readily noticeable."

And furthering the point of the environment, or the lack thereof, I think it would also be a good time to bring up what exactly are the requirements to play this game. Before I moved over to my new system, I was running with an AMD 4200+, an X1600XT and 2GB of RAM. Nothing fancy or special, but you know what? It ran Oblivion, and it ran Oblivion quite well. But, hell, fire up Hellgate here and it stutters (this had to do more so with the fact that they didn't have dual core support for the longest time). So besides being piss-poor implemented, it took a toll on my system for what reason exactly? Here, let me break it down to you now. I'm now running a system with an Intel Core Duo E6550, an 8800GT, and 4GB of RAM. The system runs Crysis flawlessly at 1280x1024, 4xAA, and all high graphic settings at DX9, yet when I fired up Hellgate back in December to see the difference in performance I was still getting stutter performance issues.

Perhaps for the uneducated out there I can break it down for you, but even though now that they have patched what ever reason as to why the game stuttered on people's rigs that blew the system requirements out of the South China Sea is beyond me as to why it was even a problem in the first place. While I am now running Hellgate in 1280x1024, 4xAA, and all high graphic settings in DX9 as well, it looks like I'm parading around Deus Ex textures in this game.

Wow, that is a great ground texture there. I mean, look at it. Completely flat and all, but offering 3D perspective. Well, maybe if we just throw in a few poorly-textured rocks around it and a pillar going straight down into the rubble without anything bumping up against it it won't look like we spent about 15 minutes in Windows Paint doing our textures.

I mean, what the hell happened here folks? Halo for the PC looks better than this, and Halo for the PC came out in 2001. What ever happened to the promises of this, this, this, this, this, this, or this? I mean, the graphics look so dated that it's a wonder why they didn't bother to just revamp the whole game and make everything all fluffy and happy, because everything is already well-lit with happy colors. I don't ever feel like I'm in a ravaged city that has been well been taken over by demons. As a matter of fact, I don't ever get the feeling of "being alone" because all I ever have to do is run back to a station and find 20 or 30 people there, or, in some instances, I would find a group of 15 or 20 Templar romping around. I mean, I thought the human survivors were supposed to be few. What ever sort of immersion they try to establish is immediately destroyed when the support under it is pulled by the very people that were supposed to make it sturdy enough to hold the weight of what they were saying they were delivering. Perhaps next time we shall have deeds and not words.


"Yes, yes, I know my men and I are just standing around not shooting back at the enemy. Why do you think we are losing this war in the first place?"