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Thursday, July 28, 2011

WOT Operation Husky Event


                          World of Tanks is celebrating another battle from WWII today with a special offer commemorating Operation Husky which was the allied invasion of Sicily. Several tanks including the T-28, T-34, M10 Wolverive, M4 Sherman and some others are on sale for half the required credits. Also these same vehicles will generate twice as much credits when used today. Also included was the ability to purchase barracks slots for half off, so if your barracks are getting  a little cramped now would be the time to give your tankers some elbow room.  See the original post here for a complete list and the announcement.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Box Vs Digital

Preorder announcements are truly exciting times as they are usually call outs for the upcoming release of a game. Except for maybe Battlefield 3, no other game announced this year has intrigued my suppressed eagerness like SWTOR has. There are so many things that are pointing to this being a really good game that it’s a given that I will be making this purchase. With BioWare announcing the availability of Preorders for this game it’s just a matter of time before I am exploring the fabled galaxy far, far away.  

If we exclude the recently announced Collectors Edition for $150 (a little bit too much for me) which is limited to 500,000 purchases, we have multiple options for which to buy this game including both digital and retail. Several digital packages are available each offering a variety of in game goodies to wet your appetite and are probably the easiest way to jump right into things. We also have the traditional method of walking into a store and purchasing a boxed copy complete with real, tangible disks.

Now call me old fashioned, but I just love buying an actual copy of the game and having it to keep. Not that there is anything wrong with a digital copy, but I guess I just like to own an actual physical item for my money. I do understand that the discs and packaging are worthless without the digital software on it, but I truly do enjoy opening and installing a brand new purchase instead of just downloading it. If the option is open to me I have always purchased a physical copy versus a download and I doubt I will change for this game or BF3.

What about you guys? What is your chosen method of obtaining your favorite games? Does it ultimately matter to you or are you just looking for the quickest way in?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Defining Cheating in A Game - Part 2

In my previous post I attempted to look at cheating in online gaming and focused mainly on the PVP aspect. In this post I want to address whether or not cheating can be classified when dealing with PVE content.

Most MMORPG’s maintain a large portion of game play referred to as PVE content (Player-vs.-Environment).  This can include solo or group play and focuses on players interacting with game controlled opponents. Raids, Dungeons, Rifts, and solo quests are all good examples of PVE content in gaming and for the most part ones own activities while performing these functions are of no concern to others. So why is it then that the use of add-ons and other aids while performing these gaming events can create controversy and discord among a games player base? Does anyone truly care if a player cheats when playing against game controlled opponents?

 Surprisingly many players do care if another player cheats while playing PVE content in a MMORPG game and the simple reason is the social labels created in the game. Words like “server first” and “achievement” are valued labels to many players and its when another player uses add-ons (cheats) that they don’t find appropriate for use, that  tension starts. However with a game like World of Warcraft add-ons are often considered necessary to beat the highest level of a game. So much so that no one completes the game without additions, but these are not included in the core game, instead Blizzard is content to allow other developers to make and distribute these additional tools.

However Blizzard from time to time will ban an add-on they believe aids players too much. So in the context of WoW is Blizzard the ultimate judge of what is to be considered cheating and not? In one aspect yes as it is their intellectual property, but we are discussing cheating in general in relation to gaming and they are not the authority on the overall definition. So the question remains is using aids in a PVE environment cheating?

Per the definitions used in the previous article, I would say PVE changing add-ons are Acceptable Cheating where as the general gaming community has accepted this level of cheating as ok, but one thing I have learned is that all things are subject to change when applied to the world of gaming and what’s is acceptable today may not be tomorrow. The only way to insure that you are not actually cheating is to not augment the original game in any way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Defining Cheating in Gaming

Classifying Cheating in Gaming

            Video games have always had cheat codes, add-ons and Third party Tools to make the games easier to play and beat. Using such tools in most cases has usually been accepted when being applied to single player games. Modern games have changed that equation because today most games we play center around online play with others and using special add-ons to help us beat games can cause some controversy among a games player base. Even in cases were a game has little to no player-vs.-player interaction, cheating tools can still enrage other gamers if they think someone has an unfair advantage.
 Before we delve too deeply into this lets take a look at a couple of definitions of the word “cheating” according to some online sources classifies cheating as:


violating accepted standards or rules; "a dirty fighter"; "used foul means to gain power"; "a nasty unsporting serve"; "fined for unsportsmanlike behavior"

Or Noun

A deception for profit to yourself

Or from Miriam-Webster who describes it as such:

Act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, esp. in a game or examination: "she cheats at cards".

            These definitions basically state that cheating is using an unfair advantage to win. When playing on-line games, the word cheating is usually associated with some form of PVP play, whether the game is designed strictly as a PVP format (I.E. FPS like Battlefield.) or as a component of a bigger game (I.E. Arenas and Battlegrounds in WOW). Normally this is associated with an add-on (Program not originally included with the game and generally made by third party programmers.) that provides the player with a tool or advantage that they normally would not have. Some examples may include an AIM-Bot (that helps the player target opponents) or a wall hack (which allows them to hide from opponents) which are generally considered cheating and will cause a player to be banned from a game or server.

            However there are even more game modifiers that are either widely accepted by the player base or by the developers themselves and this brings us to the question at hand. If these other modifiers are tools that aid a player and improve their odds at winning, then shouldn’t they also be considered cheating tools? Is it because the players and developers consider them acceptable that removes this unsavory label? What if the Developers consider them taboo, but the players don’t is this still cheating? That is the question I hope to get to the bottom of and for that purpose I have established my own definitions when cheating relates to gaming.

Cheating – The act of altering an original game via third party additions that improves or enhances a player’s chances of winning by giving them an unusual or unfair advantage while playing and is not widely accepted by the gaming community and/or developers of the game.

Although this definition covers the subject pretty good for me, things are not this cut and dry and require a second slightly different definition.

Acceptable Cheating - The act of altering an original game via third party additions that improves or enhances a player’s chances of winning by giving them an unusual or unfair advantage while playing and is widely accepted as an important or necessary tool to play the game effectively by the gaming community and/or developers of the game.

             What ultimately brought this subject to mind was a recent discussion in World of Tanks on whether Skins were cheating or not. Basically a Skin in WOT is a file that changes the appearance of either your own tank or your opponents to something other than the original design. This new skin covers the tank model in whatever the designer wants it to look like, but it only affects the local environment of the game. In other words only you see the difference and no one else does. The argument in question was related to a particular skin that repaints opponents tank to include bull’s-eyes where the best locations were to hit them with your shots. To many this is an unfair advantage and since it is not a part of the original game should be considered cheating. Others contest that since it does not change the overall playing of the game and doesn’t inhibit the other players in any way that it is not cheating and other players can also get the same skin. Wargamming has yet to ban this or any other skin or mod that may aid a player to include mods that alter the UI and make the game easier to interact with.   

            When speaking of modifications to a game and the impact they have, one needs only to look at World of Warcraft to see widely accepted alterations to a game environment. In fact it is so accepted in this game that having some standard types of add-ons is often required by certain groups of players, I.E. Guilds or PVP teams. Cheating can be brought into the discussion when you look at PVP content in WoW. Add-ons can improve a player’s chance at victory in several ways to include cool down timers, UI look alterations, stat counters and enhancements to the UI and Map interface. Also a player can create Macros (short program statements) that combine several actions together to allow the player to complete tasks faster or complete a series of connected moves.

            In some other PVP focused games this type of augmentation is often frowned upon or may get you banned as cheating or being labeled a hack, but in WoW they are so widely accepted by both players and Developers that they are considered a part of the game. This type of game changing is definitely cheating as it allows you an unfair advantage over those who may not have the same tools. It is also unrealistic to expect others to have these same tools since they were not included in the original game and requires them to visit a third party website. However because of their wide acceptance in the games community they fall into the category of acceptable cheating.
            When focused on a PVP environment, it is definitely cheating to have add-ons that give you an advantage over other players. E-Sports or arena type matches that have prizes are a perfect example of when add-ons can be cheating for a potential profit and when compared to other organized sporting events, would disqualify a player or team. Having a corked bat in baseball or sticky gloves in football are two examples of what an add-on or game modifier would look like in a RL sport. Players using these tools are often suspended and crucified in the media, but in video games were add-ons are widely accepted (I.E. World of Warcraft) a player will usually not feel any repercussions. Is it still cheating? Yes. Is it acceptable within the context of gaming? Yes again.

                     Therefore we can surmise that cheating in online gaming is often accepted as appropriate and in some cases necessary, while other times it is frowned upon or down right considered vile. Game developers play a major role in determining which type of cheating is allowed by their own stance on the subject and rightly so in many cases as it is their game after all. This post focused mainly on the PVP angle, but what about other forms of gaming like PVE, can the same rules for cheating apply? This is a question I think I’ll save for another post.  


World of......

Who doesn't like the idea of jumping in an Iron Horse cruising through the county side of some far off place that you most likely will never visit in person, destroying grass and tree in the hopes of finding some poor unsuspecting sap looking the other way and blowing him back to kingdom come while attempting to capture his home?
I can't think of anyone either....
Now just imagine yourself dropping on from 10,000 feet froma bank of clouds on a strafing run to kill said tank...
Thats just what im hoping will be just part of the fun in a new MMO game from Gaijin Entertainment Corp. you can check out the games web site
This game is proposing to allow a pilot the ability to take the fight from air to both land and sea and will definately get my full preview.
Here are a few screen shots that I thought looks enticing.
As I know more, I will update.
Not to be outdone, World of Tanks publisher has also announced a spin off of the award winning world of tanks game in their release of War Planes. If wargamming makes this up coming flight sim anything like their explosive popular world of tanks, its an automatic winner.
I am looking forward to both titles.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wargamming TV announces Camo Tanks in Fall

I must admit I was excited about this piece of information. Tank camouflage paint jobs are making their way to a tank near you this fall. It is a minor game changer on the grand scale of things, but definitely one of historical and game play importance. You can see the original blog post HERE or check it out below. Also previewed was the recent Ural Steel Tournament held in Russia this year.

PS... the video is in Russian with English subtitles, but honestly one look at the narrator and I honestly couldn't care less, she is stunning. The original post stated that future episodes are going to have English voices, I can only hope that means they are teaching her English, because I would hate to see her go.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Everyone Loves a Sale


          In recognition of a pivotal WWII battle called the Battle of Prokhorovka, World of Tanks has placed several tanks on sale for 50 Percent off. To see the original article and to get the complete list click HERE. Also included in this deal which lasts for about a day these same tanks will also grant the owner double the amount of credits per battle. Personnaly I have purchased the M3 Lee and SU-76 as I might a well advance my tech tree for less expense. Oh and I will be playing my Tiger A LOT over the next day as its credits are also doubled. At least I'll have one full day of this thing not costing me credits to play it.

Popularity is Relative to Expense

So starting today in World of Tanks the Lowes price hike is in effect and I am going to make a bold prediction in relation to this event. The KV-5 will become the new Lowe. What That means is I am fairly certain we will now see large amounts of KV-5s rolling around the higher tiers of combat.

Not that the KV-5 is as good as the Lowe or that it even has the same value for money spent as the Lowe used to have when it was the same price. Instead the KV-5 will fulfill the same use as the Lowe had, just not as good but good enough. That goal will be to generate Currency for aspiring tank drivers which will facilitate their ability to purchase and upgrade their actual tanks of choice. The problem is that while there was three different options in purchasing a Tier 8 gold tanks (Lowe, KV-5, M6A2E1) for the same price, there is now 1 expensive one and two that have remained the same. Most new gold tank buyers will now go with the new best option, the KV-5 at that price range and I suspect very few will pay the extra gold needed for the Lowe.

This very well may be the actual intent of the designers as it allows for a larger variety of gold tanks on the field. Raising the price for the Lowe might actually have been designed to draw customers to its lesser sought brethren in the tier 8 gold group. If this is true then it looks like it will probably generate a lot more sales for the KV-5 and M6A2E1 and will fulfill the developers goal. What I am wondering is will it do it too well. Will the day soon come that we will see battles that are heavily populated by KV-5s instead of Lowes? I think that day is already upon us.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

True Value of a Virtual Tank

            Today Overlord via his World of Tanks blog informed us that the popular German Lowe tank will become more expensive come July 12th. The increase will be from its present amount of 7,500 Gold to a whopping 12,500 Gold. This is apparently due to the fact that the Lowe is much more powerful than its Russian Counterpart the KV-5.

            So let's put this into perspective, The Lowe which is OP by the game makers standard needs to be altered in a way to make it more in line with the KV-5. However they can't justify nerfing the tank for fear of upseting present Lowe owners and for an unstated reason they won't bring the KV-5 up to the Lowes levels. Instead they justify the move by increasing it's cost and have given all players 1 week to make their purchase before the price increase. Here is the tricky part to this thing, the options to purchase gold from are as follows -

25000 Gold for $99.95

12000 Gold for $49.95

6500 Gold for $14.95

1250 Gold for $ 6.95

            What this tells us is that after July 12th, if you wish to purchase this tank you will need to spend more than 50 bucks to get it because the available payment system doesn't allow for enough to pay for the thing with anything less than the 100 dollar option which gives you 25000 gold. You can pay almost 60 bucks to get enough with a 12000 and 1250 Gold purchase but the 50 dollar option for 12000 gold will leave you short. Sounds a bit like raking of the coals to me. Now I have always been for game makers receiving money for their creation, but this one seems a tad bit fishy. 7500 to 12500 is quite a jump in price and conveniently high enough to facilitate extra spending. Needless to say the comments section has been less than positive from players.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Return to Middle Earth

Continuing my goal of trying out new games I have once again entered the realm of Lord of the Rings Online. I have been here once before when the game was a new release as I gave the game a try over two weeks on a trial account. While I enjoyed the game at the time, I didn't stick with it because of other games that had my attention. This time around I plan on giving it a good try and look forward to exploring what is my favorite Fantasy setting.

I have taken on the roll of a Human Champion this time and have Begun the introduction quests in Archet. The game is much as I remembered it and I am quickly making my way around the opening quests in the town. Being a veteran of other fantasy MMO's I am having an easy time of picking up the commands and progressing my character. I am looking forward to once again brave the lands of Middle Earth and will report back as often as I can to detail my journeys.

Friday, July 1, 2011

WoT’s Freemium Model

             Never in the history of gaming has a consumer had so many choices in choosing how to pay for their gaming. You have Subscription methods, Free-2-play models, Micro Transactions, pay as you go and Now Freemium. The basic premise behind the Freemium structure is you get the stock game for free and if you want certain added details, like more storage space, faster level pace and special vehicles or weapons, you can choose to buy them, but it is not required.

World of Tanks uses a Freemium system where anyone can play the game and progress fully without ever spending a dime (Free) and a system that allows you to purchase certain features and bonuses that can enhance the game or speed up your leveling (Premium). The purchased currency in the game is aptly called “Gold” currency and with it you can buy special tanks, additional storage space and accelerated experience and money advancement.

I have purchased and played all types of games under every single model and although I don’t despise any one system, I am starting to really enjoy this Freemium system. The biggest advantage is the freedom to decide when and how I spend my money. Take as an example a standard subscription MMORPG game, that you pay for the game and then pay a monthly fee to continue playing it. This system has very limited choices in payment options where you have to pay for each day consecutively. Sure you could stop your subscription and restart it when you want to if you need to take a break, but ultimately this is not practical as the hassle of turning an account on and off daily or weekly is to great.

           World of Tanks allows you to purchase game time in several different increments from single day to 30 days. This allows me to pick and choose which days I want to pay for and I don’t have to pay for days that I am unable to play. Even if I don’t pay for that day I can still play the game, just not at a premium level. Some people may not like this system, but for me the advantages out weigh the disadvantages and are great for a person with limited play time. Many may complain about gold tanks filling up the ranks of each battle, but honestly I could care less how the other player achieved their tier 8 tank. As long as I am enjoying the game it ultimately doesn’t matter.