War Inc Battlezone

  Couple of days ago i saw an advertisement for a game called War Inc, at first i dismissed it simply because i have little faith in free games... however after i saw some gameplay footage in youtube i thought i should give it a go, in the end i am glad i did as it is indeed a interesting game.

  Registration is straight forward and very quick after which you are prompted to create a character and spend your first stat point, this is one of the key aspect that i find interesting in the game as you have several unique stats that help you enhance your gameplay according to how you like to play. There is a great number of ways to customize your character from several pieces of armor to a large array of weapons and a few slots used for skills and utility items such as mines and grenades.

  The concept of the game is fairly simple and similar to the Battlefield game but without the vehicles, you start the map on your teams default spawn location and proceed to capture several objectives by simply standing near the capturing flag, once it is claimed it will slowly give the points needed to achieve victory.

   Players have very little health and there is no HP bar other then a visual effect so a well placed grenade or mine will instantly kill you, this adds to the realism effect making your actions and awareness extremely important but you regenerate in seconds, anyway you should avoid open areas and move from cover to cover.

  One interesting thing worthy of note is that unlike most shooter games reloading a half used magazine in War Inc will throw away the remaining bullets, this makes ammunition important but you can always pick up a weapon from the floor.

  Overall the game makes player skill really matter as most fights are decided in a instant but since the respawn timer is short you are constantly getting into the action.
Its fun and its free there is no reason not to try it unless you don't like shooters.

The Life-cycle of online games

 Some players seem to forget that the gaming industry is a business run by game companies funded by money investors who do not give a damn about the players, so it is always about the money and therefore is run as a business.

Online games are a two part product, one being the actual game box called the "traffic generator" because it is what leads people into spending money and the second part which is the the "margin generator", in this case we are talking about the in-game shop or the monthly subscription.

In most cases the "traffic generator" is made cheaper in order to attract clients thus having a lower contribution margin, the perfect example of this are the free-to-play game which cost nothing for you to start playing thus attracting the masses that can't or don't want to spend money even though most of them eventually do, the subscription model however slightly exploits this as we are going to see in the product stages.

So what are these stages? In business management all products go through several stages called the "product life-cycle" but i won't bore you with the details, instead i will talk about the game changes in each stage from a players perceptive.
Hyped players at a midnight launch

1. Market introduction stage
2. Growth stage
3. Maturity stage
4. Saturation and decline stage

On the first point when the game is still in development they start to increase the hype of their product for several reasons, the most basic one is to get the more players interested in the game, the second one because players do a leap of faith fueled by their own expectations multiplied by the hype and this is where most subscription based companies exploit the price a bit, since they know most players will buy the game anyway they increase the cost of the game to match the standard industry price for games in general, the difference is that most games with that cost do not have subscriptions so the game-box money is their only revenue source however subscription games get money from both models.

The Growth stage is after the game is launched, they will keep adding new fun stuff and making the game truly better by putting an effort,lots of quick patches, free extra content, cool new event, etc...

Maturity stage is achieved after the game is around for a while, most players are reaching the limits of what can be done in the game and the developers excitement starts to waver, they no longer listen to players and start to do things in a formulaic method by reusing content, making older content easier to motivate you to play with another character thus expecting players to stay around a bit longer.

The final stage of saturation and decline is when the players start to see the mind numbing content for what it really is and begin to leave, the companies see their player-base getting reduced so they announce the new expansion with the "never before seen features" thus starting the hype and setting the cycle back to stage one.

Any player with enough experience under his belt has been a part of this at one point or another.
Share your thoughts and experiences on the comment section bellow!

why most new games fail while Counter-Strike is still so popular

  The first time i played Counter-Strike i was in high-school and the game was still a unofficial Half-Life modification, at that time it was closer to a quake-like game with modern weapons then what it is now, but i will leave that for another topic.
  For those that don't know what Counter-Strike is, it's a First Person Shooter developed by a fellow player made from a game called Half-life that is why it was a "modification",  i use the past tense because once Valve saw the amount of people playing it, they bought the rights to the game and thus it became an official mod soon after and it became a stand-alone game later on.

The popularity
  The game popularity and success can be resumed into 1 word, "community" it's a bit vague yes but i will explain it in further detail later on , first we need to understand that this game was developed by a player meaning he knew what he wanted to play, i think its something most game developers have lost now-a-days they just build games around a franchise with 1 concept "making money", this reason is why most Indie(small companies) games are so entertaining to play, because it's not million dollar company with people who don't know a thing about gaming breathing down your neck.

ESL tournament at GamesCom
  Anyway Counter-Strike was made with an aspect in mind "for everyone", even back then you didn't need a top of the line PC to play it so most kids with a computer and a copy of Half-Life could play it, and keep in mind that back then internet was still the noisy old 54k modems and it was not that common, so most of us used to spend a lot of time playing in game store with about 20 PC linked over LAN, honestly the most fun way to play any game is to physically be with your team just like in most LAN tournaments which if you are a true gamer you have already gone to some, if not i recommend that you go if you have the chance you will love it.

  The rules of the game are very straight forward, team A vs team B fight inside a small closed map, just imagine an arena with streets and tunnels, many games have this even MMORPGs so why is the game still one of the most popular FPS games for over a decade?

  Well this is where the community comes in, as the number of players grown they started to make teams in which to compete with each other for bragging rights and so player-made competitive PvP was created and started to spread, since making a server was free players would make their own server so they could train with their team adding tactics into the game, eventually some companies started to provide high quality server for rent and now-a-days its fairly common to see game-server rentals for many types of games.

So what is missing in games today?
  This is more of a formula rather then just one thing, first games need to be able to be played by a large audience so they need to keep the game optimised for low-end computers rather then just focus on how awesome it can get with a top of the line one which seems to be what most games do, some people might upgrade the computer if they are really into it but most can't afford to do it.

MLG tournament
  Second is taking advantage of tournaments, people are competitive by nature even caveman would compete for the largest prey to show who was the best hunter, we are not that different as even the PvE players like to kick another players ass every now and then. So just like a great deal of people like to sit in front of the TV looking at whatever competitive sport they like(football, basketball, baseball...), we players also like to see competitions online as it is a sport of its own plus its probably the best publicity one can get specially at large events such as E3, GamesCom, etc...

  The third one is mainly for MMORPGs but some shooters still fail at it, is to allow players to fight guild vs guild(clan vs clan) for bragging rights, and im not talking about just Arena type gameplay like WoW has but for all types of objective based PvP.
  In the begining of this year a shooter named Global Agenda was released and it did not have a way for players to effectively do this and the results was the game losing most of its player-base within the first 2 months.

  A game that follows these simple rules will most likely last for years assuming there isn't something deeply wrong with it to start with, which is one of the reason i am looking forward to Guild Wars 2.

What are your thoughts on the subject?
Do you know any game that failed due to this?

Leave your comments or experiences bellow!

Guild Wars 2: Ranger pets receiving some love!

  Every Guild Wars fan or at least one that likes to watch videos, knows how the Ranger class has been among the weakest in the game, this is due to its special mechanic is the "pet system" because quite honestly its just bad from the AI to its utility, so bad in fact its probably the least played profession and the hardest to find videos of and its common for most rangers to just ignore/forget they even have a pet.

  The truth is the pet being the Class mechanic means it has a major role in the overall output of the profession and AreaNet knows this so they started to give it the love they have been promising for a while.

Pet Controls
  I don't know why the game did not had this from the start, but at least now pets have 2 modes, active and passive, being the first allowing your pet to automatically attack your target and in the second it will do nothing until you tell him to.

Pet Evolution
  Before Rangers had to tame and level up his pet, even though its fun the first time considering that you have multiple pets to choose from it gets annoying if you need to do it from scratch, this has been changed, Pet will now always have the Rangers level and their stats will be determined by its species.

Pet Species and Families
  All animal companions now belongs to a species and each species belongs to a family, for example a polar and a brown bear are different species withing the Bear family. The species will determine the stats of the pet and a Unique skill that needs to be manually used by the ranger while the Families will determine the 3 basic pet skills that determine the pets role and are automatically used by the pet.

   Ranger will no longer need to tame pet they already had before in order to play with it, by taming a pet from a specie it will unlock it for you so you from then on you can equip that species into any pet slot as long as you are out of combat, this means that a single ranger can tame all species and have a huge collection of pets to choose from.

In-Combat Pet Switching
  Yeah that's right, Ranger now have the ability to switch between 2 pet slots on the fly even while in combat, if pet is dead it will still switch however it will increase the switching ability cooldown but the pet will be alive and with full health next time you call for him.

Extra pet slot
  As of now Ranger have an additional slot from the previous 3 making a total of 4 slots, 2 terrestrial and 2 aquatic with amphibious pets will of-course be able to take any of the types, this will allow the Ranger to have more variety adding to its already versatile gameplay.

  I for one am happy so see this as Ranger is probably going to be the first character i will play with, however i would still prefer if we had a choice between a having a pet or something else like a quiver that allows the ranger to switch arrow types thus adding effects/conditions to the arrows or a trap bag that would allow the ranger to have several more active traps.

But its still a happy day for us Rangers...

How to increase your wireless signal!

After waiting 27 long suffering days without internet at home, they finally managed to come and install the damn fiber optics with some good/bad news, the first is that they called asking if they could come 8 days a head of schedule... yay!
Second bit is both good news is that even though i have contacted 30mb download and 5mb upload speed, i can get up to 2x the download and 4x upload if i am connected via Ethernet unfortunately there is a bit of bad news there as well, the router is in the kitchen and the PC is in the bedroom so i have to use wireless which only gaves me about 1/3 download and 2x upload.

Which leads me to the main topic, my project for the coming days will be trying to enhance my wireless connection to see if i can boost my download speed, which will involve some configuration tweaking and making a low tech parabolic reflector made with some tinfoil like the image below.

Unfortunately my router(Thomson TG784) has no external antenna, otherwise there are some better schematics around the web but we do what we can with what we have.

In theory it should reflect part of the waves in the direction of my PC thus increasing the strength of the signal i receive and there fore allow the wireless to work at a slight higher speed therefore increasing my download speed.

One thing that i already done was manually test all 13 channels on my router, by default selects what ever he thinks its best(and fails) and there is no "1 channel to rule them all" and since channels may get interferences from different sources, from electronics to other nearby wireless using the same channel, its best for you to check it out your self... be sure to find the most stable one and not the one with highest signal strength.

I my case it came down to channel 4 or 5, the 4th was the one with the highest strength but the 5th had the most consistency even though a bit less signal, the result was a stable connection that in fact gave me higher download speed, after this was done it boosted my both download and upload by about 5-7mb.
"Pringles cantenna"
Another thing i may try is to boost my usb adapter maybe  with a "pringles can", it works with the same principle as the parabolic reflector by increasing the amount of waves going in the right direction and focusing more incoming waves into the receiver.

Hopefully now will be able to post more often now that i can actually play something, i will keep you guys posted on my search for a better wireless...

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