Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Change in Focus

These past few months have been a lot of fun.

I've really enjoyed doing more consistent and elaborate posts for the blog and getting back into working with video and streaming as it's been a few years since I've had the chance to do that sort of thing.

As fun as all that's been, I have to face up to a simple reality, which is that this blog doesn't generate enough traffic versus the amount of effort I've been putting into it. Viewership has been on a steady decline over the past month and is rapidly approaching the trickle it was before the explosion that prompted me to expand the blog's content back in June.

To some extent, this was a predictable thing. After all, we have officially crossed over into holiday game release season and the vast majority of gamers are too busy playing the slew of new titles being released each week to read about or watch someone else play and talk about them.

This is of course a good thing for the gaming community but it also means that it makes less and less sense for me to spend the limited free time I have updating a blog that relatively few people are interested in reading right now.

I've been following the video game industry for many years and I've learned a lot about the ebb and flow of it as a result. It's for this reason that I've decided to back off on updating the blog for a while.

If this were a site about "reviewing" games, that would be crazy talk as this is prime time for such outlets but as I've been saying for a while now, this blog is about sharing my personal experiences with games and featuring games that in my opinion haven't gotten their due.

There's an ideal time for the sort of content I create and this is not it. Consequently, I will focus my attention on other projects until I feel it makes sense to return to this one.

That doesn't mean that I won't be posting anything new here over the next few months but posts will be less frequent and predictable as was the case before the whole "DayZ" phenomenon started.

I'm also going to stop streaming on for similar reasons. I have some ideas about how that platform could be used to make some truly amazing content but the amount of work involved would simply be too much for me to attempt it right now.

Sorry if this is all coming across as a bit grim. I guess it is. If I had my way, I would spend a lot more time creating free content for you all and I would constantly work to improve the quality of that content but the simple truth is that I can't make that work financially with viewership this low.

Thanks to everyone who's been visiting the blog– especially those of you who were here before "DayZ." You folks are a big part of the reason why I do this sort of thing when I can.

As always, if you want to keep up on what I'm doing, Twitter is the place for that. If I do a blog post or a livestream or a YouTube video or anything else of note, it will always be announced there.

For those of you who are totally bummed out right now, there almost certainly will be a blog post next week as I already had something planned before I made this decision, so look forward to that. :)

Until next time, have a good one folks!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The DayZ Update - 09/24/2012

I'm starting to think that a weekly update on this mod just doesn't make sense anymore.

Sure, there are little tidbits of information that have come to light since last week, such as Rocket's attempt to consolidate data about private hives to ensure that future updates to the mod will work with them but that's not exactly earth-shattering news and it's certainly nothing those interested couldn't get straight from the horse's mouth so-to-speak.

I am however excited to report that the next "Hunger GameZ" event, which has been re-titled as "Survivor GameZ" will be happening on October 20th and will be the first event to use a custom build of "DayZ" specifically crafted by the "DayZ" development team for such purposes.

As before, the event is being organized by "QuickNap Gaming" and will be streamed on There's even an official "Survivor GameZ" web site with all the info and links this time, so go check it out and support what these guys are doing because it's pretty cool.

Beyond that, I really don't have anything else to talk about this week. The lack of updates to "DayZ" of late have made it pretty tough to come up with interesting content to post. As such, I think I'm going to hold off on future "DayZ" posts until something worth writing about happens.

As I've said before, I really don't want this blog to become boring and predictable. If I post about a game, it's because I believe it's a game worth your time and attention and in its current state, I don't feel that "DayZ" meets that criteria.

It's clear to me that "DayZ" is going to be an awesome game once the issues with it are resolved but I feel like I've given it more than enough attention over the past few months and believe it would be better to simply stop talking about it until it evolves into a full-blown product.

As I said last week, I may change my thinking on this if version 1.7.3 of the mod hits and addresses the security and polish issues to a noteworthy extent but I've become conscious of the fact that continuing to cover the game each week as it stands is likely to do more harm than good.

So, this could well be the last "DayZ Update" for a while but rest assured that I will resume coverage of it when and for however long that makes sense in the future.

In the meantime, stick around for weekly updates on other great games that I'm playing and be sure to tune in for each week's "Monday Night Madness" live stream on the blog's Twitch channel, which could feature just about any game that streams well, including "DayZ." Keep in mind that following me on Twitter will ensure that you know as soon as I do anything you might be interested in seeing.

Until next time. Have a good one folks! - DayZ -

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Initial Impressions: Borderlands 2

I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. If you're not playing "Borderlands 2," you probably should be.

With most games, it's pretty easy for me to find the "fatal flaw–" the thing that ensures that some people just won't like them regardless of whatever else they might do well but "Borderlands 2" from the four hours I've seen of it so far is a game that should appeal to just about anyone.

Unlike the first game, which was very good despite having some fairly obvious shortcomings, "Borderlands 2" sports a level of polish and refinement that is downright amazing when you stop and think about just how much is happening in the game at any given moment.

One of the most important things I look for in a gaming experience is a sense of adventure. I want to visit new places, fight new enemies, learn new things and be entertained while doing it. Beyond that, I want to be able to share that experience with others. "Borderlands 2" does all those things and more and does them with a style and technical competence that's hard to deny.

I of course have not played enough of the game to judge it as a whole but I would be extremely surprised if its quality fell off noticeably as I progress through it. There's a real sense of passion and craftsmanship to "Borderlands 2" that make it feel like it was created more for the love of games than the love of money and I don't see any sign of that fading as I get deeper into it.

If there is one potential criticism I could see being leveled against "Borderlands 2," it could be that the game is much more difficult when playing solo than it is when playing co-operatively with others; however, I personally see that as more of a "feature" as I typically want a greater challenge from a game when I'm playing it alone. The way the difficulty is balanced just makes sense as it provides a real motivation for bringing friends along beyond simply having a shared experience.

The bottom line is that "Borderlands 2" is a game worth playing based on what I've seen of it. In particular, if you have friends you like to play games with, I will go a bit out on a limb and say it's a "must-play" title.

Borderlands 2 - (via Steam)

Monday, September 17, 2012

The DayZ Update - 09/17/2012

Sadly, it's much the same story we've had the past few weeks with regard to "DayZ." Hacking is still a huge problem in the game despite several "ARMA II" beta patches, which has forced me to play it very casually– sticking to the southern coast and trying to have a little fun before some script kiddie shows up to ruin the experience.

Fortunately, there are tons of other great games to play that don't suffer from such issues but I definitely feel for those who are seriously invested in "DayZ" and don't want to play anything else. In a weird way, I even feel for the hackers. How bored and dissatisfied do you have to be to actually take pleasure in ruining other people's fun? I guess it's all they have, which is sad. :(

For those of you feeling adventurous despite the ever-present hacker threat, "DayZ Commander" has added support for a couple of the most-popular "DayZ" mods. That's right, there are mods for the mod.

While I'm not a big fan of it personally, "Lingor Island" is now easily playable through the launcher, as is "DayZ Takistan," which uses another official "ARMA II" map in place of "Chernarus." Obviously, neither of these mods is official and you'll end up on private hives with different characters if you play them but if you're looking for something different from your "DayZ" experience, "DayZ Takistan" in particular is worth a look in my opinion. I appreciate the spirit of what the "Lingor Island" folks are doing but the layout of the map just feels a little too haphazard for my taste.

In other news, I doubt that I'll be doing much more streaming of "DayZ" until the standalone game is released. We'll see. If 1.7.3 adds enough new stuff when it drops and gets the hacking at least somewhat under control, I may change my stance on that but I don't feel like the game makes for interesting livestreaming content in its current state– especially with so many other, more-established streamers already covering it.

You might see a little "DayZ" on tonight's stream depending on what the group is feeling but it could just as easily end up being more "Terraria" or "Guild Wars 2" or something else. Not sure at this point but I will definitely tweet it. As always, the stream will be on the blog's channel.

Until next time, have a good week folks! - DayZ -

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Thoughts on Battlefield 3: Armored Kill

There was a time when in my mind the "Battlefield" series of games could do no wrong. I was a huge fan of "Battlefield 2," I really liked "Battlefield 2142" and I loves me some "Battlefield: Bad Company 2." I'm sure you can see where this is headed, or can you?

To be blunt, "Battlefield 3" was a bit of a disappointment to me. In some respects, namely in terms of presentation, it is clearly the best game in the series; however, there are several aspects of it that I found painfully frustrating. Without going into too much detail, there were technical and design issues that I felt prevented it from reaching its potential and made it feel like a game that had been rushed to market, which it almost certainly was due to a little thing called "Modern Warfare 3." :)

Many of the issues I had with the game are admittedly of the subjective, nit-picky variety; however, there was one major problem that eventually led to me effectively giving up on it– that being the near-constant cheating taking place on just about every server I played on for about a month or two leading up to the release of "Battlefield Premium" and the "Close Quarters" expansion.

Wall hacks, aim bots and other shady business became so common and flagrant that I finally threw up my hands and said "enough is enough."

I played a bit of the "Close Quarters" expansion when it was released and found it fairly entertaining. It also seemed to me that there was less cheating or at least less tolerance for it on the part of server admins (especially those running "premium" servers) than had previously been the case but I also wasn't enthralled with the "Close Quarters" gameplay. Everything about that expansion felt very competent and well crafted but it simply didn't hook me as it didn't really provide the sort of experience that plays to "Battlefield's" strengths.

There's something about the way "Battlefield" games are tuned that really lends itself to medium and large scale maps. Something about the movement speed of the players, the speed at which weapon switching occurs and the way a myriad of other subtle factors are tweaked just works better in those contexts than it does in extremely close quarters. At least, that's how I feel about it.

The good news for those who agree with me is that the latest "Battlefield" expansion, "Armored Kill" features four of the biggest maps in the series' history that offer four aesthetically and functionally different takes on the wide-open battlefield premise.

Each map has something special about it in terms of visual design and structure that make it feel unique and fresh versus the existing maps already available in the game. With the possible exception of "Armored Shield," which feels a little too reminiscent of "Caspian Border" for my taste in places, I think each of them brings something new and vital to the overall package that make it feel more complete and true to the spirit of the series.

To be sure, there are other refinements to be found in "Armored Kill" such as new vehicles and unlocks but in my estimation the new maps are the stars of the show and do not disappoint in terms of providing fun and functional new playgrounds that really let the best aspects of the game shine.

I'm actually surprised that I'm enjoying "Armored Kill" as much as I am because I figured it would be the least appealing of the expansions when it was first described to me but there's something about the way its content meshes into "Battlefield 3" that just works and I find myself compelled to seriously play  the game for the first time in months as a result.

For more on "Armored Kill" and the "Death Valley" map in particular, check out this video!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The DayZ Update - 09/10/2012

Not much to report this week.

A hotfix ( and a few "ARMA II" beta updates seem to have the graphical glitches and hacking at least somewhat under control but it's still too soon to know the full extent to which they've been effective.

I've seen some very minor artifacting in a couple spots but things are definitely much improved with the new versions installed. I've yet to be hacked to the best of my knowledge since updating but I also haven't been playing very much so I might have just been lucky.

I'm planning to livestream a "DayZ" session tonight at 9 PM EST on the blog's channel. I'll send out a tweet as soon as it starts. Not sure how long it will last. Depends on how everything goes.

That's about it. Things have been pretty quiet on the "DayZ" front lately so there's not a lot to cover and it seems like that will be the case until 1.7.3 is released– at which point we can all start becoming way too attached to AI dog companions such that we weep like small children when they're inevitably killed by bandits or zombies or the like. Thanks Rocket! :)

Until next time, have a good week folks! - DayZ -

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Work in Progress - Orion: Dino Beatdown

There's no such thing as a perfect game. While there have been many great ones over the years– games that defined or defied genres to such an extent that they've become legendary, not one of them is "perfect."

There's a whole separate post just waiting to happen about how games by their very nature can never achieve perfection but further discussion of that topic isn't really appropriate in this context.

I mention it here because the pursuit of perfection despite its practical impossibility is something worthy of note.

"Orion: Dino Beatdown" (ODB) :)  is a game that's far from perfect. It started its public life earlier this year with an initial shipping version that contained a slew of game-crippiling bugs that plagued almost every system in it from multiplayer server browsing to audio to AI to the fact that the game wouldn't even run on computers using 32-bit versions of "Windows."

In short, it was a mess and the reviews and reactions of media outlets and consumers alike reflected that. For a lot of games, the story would end there but then something happened. Representatives from the development team (Spiral Game Studios) including its president took to the game's "Steam" forum and tried to make things right.

Of course, the internet being the internet, this was met with all-too-typical levels of skepticism and angst but after a patch and a few hotfixes that addressed some of the issues, things settled down as everyone still interested in the game waited for the remaining bugs to be squashed.

During this time, I was actually able to play the game quite extensively with several friends and frankly had a blast with it. It was buggy and not particularly deep from a gameplay perspective, but running around killing dinosaurs while using jetpacks and automatic weapons was (and still is) fun.

Weeks turned into months as the developer kept setting and breaking release dates for additional patches and over those months the game's "Steam" forum turned into a bit of a cat fight between those holding out hope that the developer would eventually deliver what they were promising (bug fixes and new free content) and those convinced that the devs were in fact dark minions sent straight from the bowels of Hades to take their money and leave them crying in their beer (or more-likely cereal given the level of discourse I observed from many of the participants).

The latest round of drama climaxed earlier this week when the "Title Update 001" patch for ODB finally hit "Steam" and basically delivered on most of what the developers had been promising.

Is it perfect? No. Did it revolutionize the game and make it orders of magnitude better than it was? Not really. Did it add some new content? Yes. Did it address the key problems that were preventing some folks from even playing the game? Apparently, yes. Having never had much trouble getting ODB running myself, I can only comment based on feedback I've seen in the forums, which would seem to indicate that it is now working for those with 32-bit "Windows."

So, what we now have is a decent game that basically works for anyone who's interested in playing it and is closer to living up to the potential of its premise than ever before but we're not quite done yet.

You see, as you might have asserted from the name of the recently-released patch, more patching and content updates are planned for ODB and the developers are insistent that said updates will come much faster than "Title Update 001" did.

So, the questions you might be asking yourself could well be: Is this game worth buying if I don't already own it? Or, if I do already own it, is it worthy of another look based on the most-recent patch? Fortunately for you, I made a video commentary on it that will hopefully give you some idea of whether or not ODB is right for you.

To sum things up. ODB is not a perfect game. It's not even close to being perfect; however, in my opinion it is a fun game that is only getting better with age due to some pretty serious post-release support. Who knows? After another patch or two, it might even be worthy of a "Shout Out." :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

The DayZ Update - 09/03/2012

Sadly, with the "PAX Prime" video game convention this past weekend, another week has passed without a significant update to "DayZ."

An "ARMA II" beta build was released over the weekend but it hasn't done much if anything to resolve the graphical glitches and hacking loopholes that have been plaguing the version of the mod for weeks now.

In an effort to try to keep things interesting, I've decided to start livestreaming at least part of the Monday-nigt "DayZ" sessions that I've generally been using to produce the YouTube videos I've been associating with these updates for the past several weeks.

As this was our first attempt at livestreaming the group, I didn't announce it in advance but since it went fairly well (until the hacker/stream-sniper showed up :) ) I will be announcing future livestreams on Twitter both before and just as they start.

In the meantime, you can check out some of our antics on the first two servers we visited. Obviously, we'll have to be more careful in the future about not revealing the server we're using unless we're prepared to face the internet's wrath; however, I do think it would be fun to play with viewers and readers of the blog at some point if we can find a way to make that entertaining for everyone.

Finally, if you'd like to check out the official TwitchTV channel for this blog, head over to This will be the URL for all future livestreams and you can check out replays of the streams you've missed there as well.

Until next time, have a good week folks! - DayZ -