Re: Your First (Videogame) Love

Response to aander14’s blog post here.

For me, I had bunch of small moments that fell in the right place. For me when I started playing video game, I wasn’t much of an enthusiast. My parents were fairly strict and (Dare I say) somewhat backwards when it comes to new technology. Here’s the list of firsts that got me into playing video games.

The first time I ever met the digital world was probably in school when I was a kid. That’s when schools started to teach kids about graphic design and how to draw stuff on computers. The first computer I remember using was a Macintosh, I’m talking the years before the iMac went on the market and every school in my district pretty much had something from the late 80’s. Most distinctive piece of software was the paint program for it where you use dynamite to “blow up” your creations. Later as each classroom got it’s own computer, the district went forward with getting PC’s. Before the Apple computers were phased out of the computer lab, I remember playing Battle Chess or a variant of it. Until my parents finally got an SNES, this so happens to be the first exposure to video games in my entire life.

Then I got the SNES, or Super Nintendo for those who are a tad young and asking “what’s a SNES?” Remember how my parents were so strict on me playing video games? They were probably the epitome of tiger parents before the term even came around as “tiger parenting”. So essentially when they got me the SNES, they thought I was too young to have it and too young to do anything besides go to school and get good grades. My sibling on the other hand turned the argument around and got us the SNES. First game we got was Super Mario All Stars and at the time even with my parents putting money to this game console, the would hardly let us play it until we were done our homework or we had nothing else to do. After awhile, our library to include Super Mario World and Gladius II which was given to use by relatives. Later on in grade school, I met other people who owned the Playstation and the N64. At the time, the PS had GTA but I never touched it until a buddy of mine at the time got it and told me to try it. I mostly stayed on their N64 and my SNES. First exposure with platformers aside, I got into cinematic cutscenes and gun play of Perfect Dark. I got deep into the singleplayer and enjoyed the split screen, big head cheat fun of of PD.

The same buddy that got Perfect Dark got Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and they let me play it. That was when everything just click. I liked sandbox, violence and open world games. Even to this day, these are the tenets of video games I like especially when it’s not overly exaggerated and just allows some escape from reality. As I got older, my parents seemed to relax a little and got me the Game Boy Advance and some games for it. For the most part, I stuck to Mario Kart for the GBA and Pokemon Red. By this time I was coming up to my teen years and I was fairly entertained through cartoon violence. So Mario and friends later got boring to me, lacking the things I want in games. I laid fairly dormant with my GBA until I was around 13 when I finally got my first PC.

Growing up in lower middle class, my parents couldn’t afford what I wanted in a PC so I got something a bit low brow. More attuned to a workstation than a gaming rig, I got this 512 MB with 40 GB computer running the last Intel Pentium ever created. This was my gateway to the world. To top it off my parents let the world wide web into the house with DSL and that’s when everything starting to ramp up for myself when I played the many games I soon to find to be everywhere. Firs it started with browser games that are precursors to Facebook games. Then I got a collection of pirated games from my sibling when they moved away for university; but mostly I remember Mechwarrior 3. By this time, my life starting to go downhill. In my child-like mind, the world didn’t seem as beautiful and carefree. As I entered high school, I already accumulated a lot of time into my first MMO, Kal Online which was a Korean MMO taken place in Korean lore. I got as far as I could in the game but in the end at level 25-ish, I gave up after feeling the grind of the game. Of course I moved on; Silkroad Online, WarRock, and Cabal comes to mind. Perhaps there a dozens I’ve played and forgotten. After my first PC finally gave, I got a new PC and continued playing. First on the roster if memory serves was NavyField which was a Korean MMO naval arena. Of course the game has been updated many times over the years; when I remembered it, the game only had 4 nations (US, GB, Germany and Japan). This second PC lasted me a good while and I even tried to go off gaming to pursue increasing my grades. With all my efforts and looking back on it, it was indeed a futile effort and regardless of any scientific study; it didn’t change my grades, I was still the below average student since grade school. Fondest memory was the closest time I went into Major League Gaming; yes that’s right, I was close to MLG material at the ripe age of 15/16. At the time, I was playing America’s Army with a clan I was in trying to get a team together into MLG. In short, the power went out and I lost my shot at a small pot of cash at a small growing gaming tournament league. I believe the cash prize was about $14-18 grand USD per person. In it’s finality of it continuing to this day, my parents view of video games is damning. Video games is a form of entertainment and not a business you can get into, so they say. Yet I could’ve been the coolest kid in high school since I won $14 000.

By now, it was about 8 years ago where I finally found a job and made some money to get myself a custom gaming PC. This is where everything went to hell in a hand basket and yet opened me to the world of video games on an addictive level. When I got my current rig, I went to town on my bank account and bought games. I spent it as wisely as I could starting with putting it into games I can play on Steam. I bought the Orange Box which as Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2 series and Portal for a cheap price. I went back to my roots somewhat and got GTA IV, I even stuck around cyberspace to explore the free games it has to offer. Before my 8800 GT GPU died and my hard drive in need a refurbishment, I think I played about the same amount of games I had played in the past over a span of 4-5 years. Which brings us to the last 3 years and now.

Now, I’m stuck to sharing games with others. I like aspects of co-op games and sandboxes. I’m stuck to my old ways where I play games I like. If my play time in Star Trek Online isn’t proof of my past, I don’t know what would prove where I was in the past 3 years. Moving forward, I want to break away from my parents opinions on video games. I want to making a small inkling in playing video games. If I can’t, at least I want to do is share my love for video games to the world at large.


Trek to Trek–Serious RPG fun time!

This week is starting to intensify in activity with new tasks I have set up for myself. Most importantly setting up the new content no matter how big or small it is. Most so far revolves around games. Given yes, it’s close to free to play launch. Though I wanted to leave a little something for anyone who subscribed or stumbled upon this blog to fins some use or information out of here, with or without my own opinions. Though now seeing my compendium of net terms may be a continual work in progress, I’m going to shift focus back to some Star Trek Online prep work I’ve been saving up the the last week. The the aid of Memory Alpha and the Star Trek Online Wiki, I’ve broken down to the few necessities I wish to start this seriously.

Though I have engaged into role playing in the past, I think this time I should really buckle down and think hard about this one. The fundamental execution of how everything will play out. First off small is the research of what I can or cannot do from the start of the game. Thanks to the features matrix on Cryptic’s website and comparatively the specifics provided by the wiki, a few things to point out from my previous post about Star Trek Online. One thing, I won’t have a spare character for free play. Looks like it’s all going to be straight up one Federation character. Never liked the Klingons; not being a racist, just don’t like the art direction since it’s too aggressive for my taste. So my roleplay character seems to be more or less “on duty” and “off duty”. Fine with me, until I can trade dilithium for points. Because of this, I was planning on a separate blog which would suit as a “Captain’s Personal Log” for all the roleplay stuff. From just gameplay and after action reports for battles and missions. I doubt I would cover ever mission but I would place in hints and clues of where I’m act in the log. However out of character stuff would be removed from the blog so it doesn’t seem too out of place. Which does raise one more question on how I will keep track of how I will go about playing this. Fortunately, I do have a tablet that will have me log down information and use those notes to form a post (thanks Evernote!)

Next on the agenda, ship set up. My inspiration will be quite limited since I wanted at the start a tank at the start. I’m always the guy as the tank. This time, new approach; the healer. In all likelihood, it would involve science and the science line of ships. People may disagree, but I’m sticking to this and going to use it to the best of my abilities. Speaking of which, I’m doing my best to ignore skill trees. If you were in the 25th century, I highly doubt anyone would just build a human in terms of skills and abilities. So like in life, I blindly go forth in this endeavour. Of course, I will mark my way with breadcrumbs on my new blog when the time comes. Now the name, what will be my name? For now, I am uncertain. Since I’m assuming all ship and RP names are unique, the best way to really go about it is a random name generator for now for some good solutions.

Ships is another philosophy, however. I wanted something to reflect on an elegant yet scientific perspective. I was and still is much of a Voyager series acolyte. All things considered, I may have already decided on ships and uniform design. Names on the other hand, may get tricky for ships. Like character names, I have no clue what is taken or not. Just some blind faith and some avoidance of names of ship classes and current canon ships; of course, anything other players may have taken as well. One thing I was really hoping for was the Delta class shuttle, aka the Delta Flyer from Voyager. Unfortunately, they turned that thing into a cash shop item. Looks like the one most awesome thing I wanted in game will have to be farmed for unless serendipity steps in and sends me off with this gift (hmmmm Serendipity, adding that to the list.) I have going to plan out two ships, one for a small shuttle and a large starship so I don’t have to be oh so bored about everything. Some challenges I would accept as a ship captain.

So to this blog I spoke about. Well obviously, going to handle over another blog. It will run parallel to my personal blog here. I’m not abandoning you guys, just giving you more stuff to read rather the same old stuff. The name however, I wanted to be suited to the name of my captain. Since he is unknown at the moment, it will be down the line before I start up the blog. Most likely when I’m making my character is when around the same time that blog will be online. Of course as time progresses I will add some nifty little things to the blog and maybe renovate it to give it a more techy look and feel. Once again, I’m not closing this blog down; just adding one more for more literary pleasure. Hope you like sci-fi, because I have plans; some good, some just random like this blog. Character meets creator. For now, I’m experimenting and looking around for some designs I might enjoy and would want to have for the blog. Maybe set up a WordPress STO roleplay network (or join one). Maybe start a fleet and have a large network of roleplay blogs among them (hint: you’re invited!) How would the roleplay be involved? Well not necessarily in game since most would just play because it’s free. Most of the role play will come from the blog of course and solo play missions; though if co-op permits, I may give in names of certain players in game.

Boiling it down, the blog would be from my character’s view of his world like this is a view of mine.

New Summer Project And Enjoying The Frustrating Thrill Of Macro/Script Programming

So with my last post, I did talk about scripting and macros for Runes Of Magic. After that little blog post, I began learning how to make simple tweaks and commands to make a few simple things the game has yet to really own up to from it’s vanilla UI (vanilla is lingo for original/regular especially about modding and UI stands for “user interface”). So I think it’s up to me to learn a bit about how the game works. So I’m starting a new project for the summer to learn about programming for the UI and maybe produce something simple at first. Then maybe expand on making something complex. I’ll try and stick to chat commands since I find it handy to know a few to see what’s going on and such. From there, I hope to achieve making frames (the UI windows). The end goal if I fully choose to go with is a full suite of new things in-game I could do.

Along the way, I think I’ll publish them to people reading my blog (that’s you!). Probably incremental versions with little or no tweaks. I doubt I would really release one big one for people to explore.

You must be asking “Can’t you take someone else’s program?” or “Can I contribute?”. First off I would like to say, I rather learn about it thank just taking people’s work and working closer to my own. Though there are many add on’s in this game that likely they’re all clones anyways. This is more strictly to learn about programming in LUA and just experiencing a portion of what it’s like to be a developer. And to that, people can contribute by offering to test it out and provide feedback on my work. Though it’s not my first time handling code, it’s definitely a new programming language that could be similar to Turing or HTML (hopefully what I’ve learned in high school can help me).

Of course it’s going to be awhile until I have the first addition. So keep checking back. For now I leave you with a few questions if you guys wouldn’t mind helping me out. Leave me comments on the following:

-What should I name my add-on?

-Would you like testing it in Runes Of Magic? (Of course everyone will have the opportunity, I just want to know)

-Have you ever downloaded an add-on to an MMORPG? If so, why did you do it?

For now, I leave you with a screenshot of what’s going to be an adventure of the frustrated mind of an add-on developer.

...okay, now what?

Runes Of Magic: Macros And You

Ever since I started playing with Runes Of Magic, I always though it would be pretty bulky in terms of casting and item usage. Of course, I vowed not to ever alter the behaviour and aesthetics of the game so people who start playing can see what I’m really doing. However, you can’t help but to do something the game will allow you to do. So today, I begin updating my macros for the game and maybe share my insight on macros.

Before we begin, lets talk about what is a macro (those who already know, skip ahead…it’s just me helping people). Etymologically, it originated from macroscopic. Since the digital, a macro is set of instructions performed under a single command. Lets take something simple like shortcuts on your desktop. Say you want to open My Computer, you can just click it and you have it. Now lets get crazy like accessing Skype while opening My Computer. Traditionally you would have to click on both to start or have them highlight and hit your Enter key. Either case, that’s about 2-4 keystrokes (a press of a button if for those who are technologically illiterate). Now you can however work around this by having software installed to allow you to hit that button and it would do both at the same time. So you can assign your F10 as the “Open Skype and My Computer” key and with that single keystroke, will allow you to perform the action of 2-4 keystroke. Of course this idea really catches on in the gaming world were ever action needs to be set as quickly as possible.

Currently I’m a level 44/46 Priest/Knight and as part of the Priest class, I have to heal and buff and all that jazz. It gets difficult when I have to cast many spells all in a span over multiple keystrokes. So around level 25 or so I began to the long road into learning keybindings and macros which still follows me to this present day. It started with learning basic channel commands, those little slash commands that would switch channels much easily. That was rudimentary as in Runes Of Magic, there a just a few:

/s For local. Only people nearby can see.

/world For Server Channel. Everyone will see this.

/r For replying to whispers or tells

/t For whispering to someone. /r is also acceptable.

/z For Zone. The region you are standing in can hear you.

/[number from 1-9] Private channels you’ve join. They can be named, but the commands are for each sequential channel  you join.

/p For party, with players just killing stuff or raiding and watchnot.

/g Guild channel, let your guildies know what’re your thinking and such.

Fairly straight forward as you can tell. As I moved on from that, I start to learn some more secretive commands that worked in chat. These of which I’ve used up to this day is my form of casting magic, setting wait times and using items. These were the introduction to the real awesome stuff.

/cast [Skill] Used for casting skills available to your character. the [Skill] portion is case sensitive.

/use [Item] Just like /cast but for items in your backpack/inventory.

/wait [number] Pretty much a simple command to pause the macro for an amount of time in the [number] variable in seconds. Whole numbers only.

That’s worked pretty well so far. I haven’t ran into trouble. Though some are really annoying since you have to account for cast time and cooldown using the /wait and the /use is very specific on the item when you really need mana or health. So I’m kind of suffering from a mid-level crisis; it’s like mid-life but I won’t buy a motorcycle or dye my hair and stuff like that. I’m beginning to understand these macros that I’m confident enough to begin adding more and more into them to make them pretty fun and complex.

Rather than completely destroying my macros I can easily edit, I created a text macro to program in the Macro tab in-game. You can go there by hitting ESC and clicking on the Macros button. From there, pick an empty space and hit that “new” button.

Macro Screen

From this little window, you can change the icon and name which will appear when you hover over it. Here’s an example of my basic macro for casting Group Heal:

Example: Group Heal

So those are pretty easy; just casts Group Heal which heals everyone in the party. The wait command is given so that the /s command will be sent at the moment the Group Heal is completed it’s cast. Now lets go to our new macro, Lets learn some simple that I caught on real quick; the /run command (come people use /script, but /run is easier). All it does is executes certain functions from the game files that are limited to buttons, events and certain windows. It goes something like this:

/run [Function] [Parameters]

/run is used to tell the game to run a script within it’s files. The function is the specific function you wish to run and the parameters are sets of conditions to add on to the function. So now we got that down lets do “DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME”. I only know one command that goes along with this which is called “AddMessage”. What this two things are is to indicate the function will be in the main chat window and it will be an internal event message (this is used mostly as a chat logger for event in the game like an event dungeon, a celebratory greeting or festival). In this case, we’re going to make it say something. Noticed I added the parentheses there which will contain our conditions.

First Function

Now that we got that, lets add in what we want to say in the message. As part of the example, I’m just going to put down “Hello World!”, but put down whatever you wish. This condition is a string so you have to put it in quotation to indicate to the game that it is a string (a string in terms of macros is just a bit of information that’s not in relation to the function but for the use of the function to use as part of it’s action). Be sure to save it, it will close the window and now you can assign it just like a skill. I’ve placed mine in the 4th action bar which I’ve allocated to the right side of the screen.

Test Drive

Now lets try it, by now you should know how to activate skills and assign skills through the NPC-led tutorial so go ahead and hit the hotkey or activate it by clicking it.

It Worked! That and I was gathering herbs.

Cool! Your first macro. This really does nothing but displays a message which can come in handy in terms of knowing which skills have been casted and where in the sequence you casted it from. Now lets try making it change colour. To do this, after your condition you can set the RGB percentage. The percentages should range in a decimal from 0.0 to 1.0 where 1.0 is 100%. Be sure to separate the message with commas to indicate you want to change the RGB scheme. In this example, I’ve make it white by setting red to 100, green to 100 and blue to 100 percent. To set it to black, it’s the opposite (0.0, 0.0 and 0.0).


Sweet! We have colouration. By now, you must this “worst macro ever”. Totally wrong consider we’ve only scratched the surface. Here’s some screenshots of some other tests I’ve tried.

In-game Time: What do the numbers mean?

Tried to tinker with if statements. Failed...good thing no one was around to hear me...

UnitTitle...really? Guess that's good.

A few things to note; the max characters is 255, you cannot link one macro to another and you only have 49 macros.

Next up on my way of learning macros is creating my own slash commands and building a library of stuff I can add to. Dare I say my own shoddy chat commands?

Have fun playing around and get back to me on making your own macros. What you found and what you’ve learned. Share so maybe I can learn a bit too!

APB: Reloaded – May sound pretty good…maybe?

I’ve been looking through my list of games I’ve been following around. Games that I think I would be interested in or would want to check it out . A lot is changing in the games in terms of free to play options. Better graphics and optimizations are allowing browser games to be a bit more competitive.

One such game in development is Star Trek Infinite Space. Currently still in development, it appears it’s going to be a free-to-play MMO with a bit of social networking and adventure (I’m just taking that from the Game Info page). What I’m hoping into it would be something along the lines of Star Trek Online but less resembling Champions Online. Probably not a knock off but more fitted to explore and play with friends than against a newbie unfriendly atmosphere in terms of PvP. Some other info about it; it’s going to use the Unity 3D engine. So cross your fingers for this one and hope they don’t screw it up like Stargate Worlds (P.S. Still want a Stargate game, I’ll be waiting…).

On the subject of Unity 3D, Interstellar Marines has began development of a multiplayer platform for their FPS browser. It’s kind of reminiscent of the Halo franchise in that you are a futuristic soldier in a full body suit of armour fighting a fictious race of creatures (Saw it in the trailer, bipedal great white sharks).So far, they have made incremental releases showing their efforts into immersing players into the game starting with a simple museum-esque piece displaying some of their objects. Then you have a firing range and training facility, pretty much displaying their use of triggers and AI pathfinding. From what it looks like, it’s not going to be free for the final product, but we’ll leave it on the shelf until release.

What’s coming off that shelf is Global Agenda with their release of Global Agenda: Free Agent. Now you can play for free with many limitations to really screw with you. Besides the fact you can’t use the auction house or make agencies/guilds, you can however be like everyone else and have a nice PvP/PvE experience involving futuristic weapons in your choice of classes and weapons. Skills are fairly customizable and you can always reset. Though downside to all this is that in PvP you are really outgunned in terms of your level, being low level also means your skills will not be as fully upgraded as everyone else at maximum, so be prepared to die senselessly to have fun. Quests are pretty short changed in that they’re all stuff to get you accustomed to the game mechanics. After that, they throw you into the wolves and tell you to have fun. Besides the newbie limits of the game, crafting is only limited to certain salvaged items you get as loot as well as weapons you buy in the shop; unless you bought the game, then you can get weapons from missions. So far, server population is pretty good and community looks fairly diverse.

And hurray, APB is back. After being bought by GamersFirst (formerly K2 Networks), APB: Reloaded promises to re-release with certain changes such as skill matchmaking provides a good curious look. As a fan of the GTA series by Rockstar, this mash-up of GTA and massive online gaming (not really an MMO, servers max out at 50 per side), it might be something to keep watch for. Open beta will in June/July, hopefully with a hack-free and entertaining environment. In all likelihood if it’s from GamersFirst, expect one of those or none. From some of my contacts in closed beta, Punkbuster is enabled for servers but seems to have many players bypassing or able to dodge the client. For those who like a urban PvE, forget it. Either you’re breaking windows or stealing cars as a Criminal or impounding car or beating down people for stealing, that’s about it so be ready to kill time to die repeatedly to level up and get your items. As a bias, I would not recommend it since it’s from GamersFirst and they never do anything great with the hacking. However if you’re into the graphics, cars, and customization features for cars, songs, and clothes; I would like those artists to go ahead and take a peak. PvP-ers, you do the same and check it out. As a free to play game, I can’t find anything wrong with the item shop as of yet from those buddies. Who knows? Maybe GamersFirst might pick themselves up and actually do something to fix itself from such a bad rep from me. Be advise, it’s a large download.

That’s for now on the game front for me. I’ve been doing some Call of Duty walkthroughs but I’ve been slacking on the final uploads since I have stuff to do in real life. Until next week folks, keep fragging!

Oh no, I have a Wurm again!

I don’t know why I love this game. The graphics aren’t top quality, the sound is fairly generic and the community is marginal by comparison. Wurm Online is just quirky in my opinion. No end game, no actual quest systems; it’s all about discovery, community and a 512 square kilometre stretch of land dotted by settlements and and lakes to make this one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen so far to watch the sunrise.

The game comprises on crafting and construction as well a a team compnonent to reduce the time factor to all build projects. Of course for the action base, there is combat too, I haven’t experience any though if it is anything like the crafting system, it would be painful with it’s own rewards.

I like it considering it’s very light on my computer, doesn’t take much to render and run in Java. ONe of those things you can do to kill time when you have time to kill. So you can start building a boat, leave it and come back when you have the spare time to continue. As a city slicker, I rarely see the countryside and this does provides some sort of relief to just stand there and watch your virtual world spin around you.

Community on the server I’m in seems to be very friendly though some lack communition skill. There’s in game help support from both developer and what appears to be a group of senior players who know their stuff.

If I could sum it in 2 words, I’d say try it if you’re into slow game progression and heavy focus on crafting. Otherwise, try it with an open mind.