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One year of Reflex (42 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 18:41 GMT, 4 November 2015 - iMsg
I've always been open minded and on the look out for good gameplay. When I first started Quake way back I was a NetQuaker (NQ). Even today if you go into CRMOD which is the major competitive mod for NQ and type in qwsucks in the console it responds back to you with various things such as, "Are you listening id?". In short the NQ community was very close minded and anti-QW. I believed them for a long time. QW was the devil.

Yet as is my nature I eventually over came the NQ's community attempt at brain washing the players and discovered QW is great. I even played Q2 CTF a lot and enjoyed it thoroughly. Q3 not so much. By that time I had gone back to QW TDM and Doom 2 CTF and those remained my staple FPS for a long time. I'm just covering some of my personal FPS history here to prove I'm not some gameplay ideologue. I always strive to look for good gameplay.

Reflex has been on Steam for one year as of today. It is in many ways the best hope to recapture the games I love in a modern form. Yet it is hard not to be worried about Reflex one year in. Engine and technology wise I feel Reflex is doing quite well and have almost nothing to complain about. I even get a solid 120+ FPS on my Geforce 560 ti. The graphics have taken a while to find their footing but even those now are quite excellent. So then what is the issue? Gameplay and content.

A good example of how Reflex is lacking goes to the core of project. Reflex heavily depends on their community for content; mainly maps but UI scripting is mostly a community affair too. In many ways this is a catch 22. It is great the developers have given the community such leeway in the project but it also feels like the developers have grown entirely dependent on the community as well.

I was very hyped for the recent CTF mode in Reflex. I thought this would be what opened the flood gates for a larger player base. Yet there was a big problem. CTF only came out with one map, CTF-Monolith. Love or hate it releasing a new mode with one map is a horrible idea. One only need look to Toxikk to see what one map releases can do to a game. Maybe in six months or a year Reflex will have a good variety of CTF maps (and no I'm not interested in fucking remakes!). Having such hype squashed and having to wait such a long time for a decent variety of maps is a horrible predicament for Reflex.

I think the gameplay problems go deeper however. Playing CTF I quickly became frustrated with the map which I thought was overly complex and anti-pub fun. When you have a super passionate highly skilled user base designing all your maps they don't always tend to be great fun in a pub game. Say what you will about id's maps but they usually were relatively simple and designed for the average user. By comparison Monolith and Sabflags (the two CTF maps in release now) are a pain to move around on and designed too heavily to counter swooping. A bit of swooping actually isn't bad for pub play.

Playing CTF brought more gameplay issues to the fore again. I'm still shocked one year in Reflex has no real ammo system. At this point I'm not even sure they mean to change it. This is quite worrying because there are many different ways to go with some type of ammo system and it adds a load of depth to the game. Serious TDM will never happen without a good ammo system.

Another annoyance which reared up quickly in CTF was how many weapons are needed on maps since there is no ammo system. On Monolith there are 3 bolt rifles (aka rail), 4 shotguns, 4 RLs, 2 ion cannons (aka LG), 2 GLs and 2 PGs. With such a massive amount of hitscan the map is then topped off with carnage power up (aka quad). Ugh.

It also was frustrating having to wait a long time for CTF maps to reload upon map end. I had thought loading times had been 'fixed' but again it appears to be an issue. Related is the fact servers can only hold 16 players and many CTF servers are smaller than that. I miss the days when I could sit on a large QW server and hang out with the community playing countless pick up games. In Reflex this isn't possible when servers are all 16 or lower client limit.

Reflex can't break from the CPM past it shares. While it has differentiated itself somewhat nothing I'd qualify as major changes have happened. There is the controversial duel timer and some other changes like a stronger SG or the triple jump but nothing which breaks or significantly alters the game from CPM. Many would argue this is not a bad thing and I would actually agree. The problem is if you are going to do what essentially is a remake every other part of the game needs to be superb. Languishing for CTF maps and seeing people porting over remakes is a sad situation to be in.

What do I expect out of Reflex in another year? I'm not sure to be honest. With Overwatch looming and many other great games to play I'm beginning to lose hope in Reflex. Things are just taking too long and the gameplay is not advancing. Even players who I've played dozens of hours with in Reflex seem to share my sentiment. If I go to the Reflex Steam store page the top two positive reviews I see are people I have friended on Steam. I've bought copies of Reflex for friends and spent ~200 hours playing it. When I ran a Reflex TDM league I got to know various players and from time to time, often in the early morning, people will PM me on Steam and we'll chat. Most remain hopeful but it is hard not to see reality and wonder if Reflex isn't the savior we thought it was.
11974 Hits
Partners in Crime - NA 2v2 TDM League (28 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 17:40 GMT, 18 February 2015 - iMsg
Sign ups are now open for the new Reflex NA TDM 2v2 league - Partners in Crime. Sign ups will be open from now until February 27th. Play starts March 2nd.

There wil be groups stages followed by single elimination playoffs. Matches are BO3 with maps of AFRODM1, DP4, THCDM6, THCDM13, and XFDM2. Maps are chosen via pick-pick-drop-drop. The full league is expected to last around a month. Full rules are available.

Head over the the Reflex forums for more information and to sign up now!
Edited by xou at 21:49 GMT, 19 February 2015 - 16841 Hits
NAQW TDM Draft demos (No comments)
Posted by peterg @ 00:16 BST, 14 October 2014 - iMsg
https://mega.co.nz/#!3p5lXQQR!R85YQZ1LOi9gGoM...U5E33cqN3M

Demos from the draft league a few years back. Some great matches in there. Shame it only lasted two seasons.
3853 Hits
Loadout (18 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 18:27 GMT, 1 February 2014 - iMsg
Just went public F2P on Steam. Initial impressions are good. It's fast and twitchy and when I was running rockets + beam it definitely has a Quake vibe. Game modes seem like variations on TDM or CTF based on what I've seen. Haven't made up my mind on it yet but seems quite fun. It is mostly 3rd person but that doesn't overly bother me. Anyone else playing or played it before when it was in early access? Thoughts?
4298 Hits
Multiple crosshairs (5 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 17:53 GMT, 21 December 2012 - iMsg
This idea I'm shameless stealing from MWO. Basically it works like thus, in MWO you have torso weapons mounted on your chest and arm weapons. Arms move faster and can be aimed easier. Torso weapons are a bit slower to adjust (they follow the arm crosshair but aren't instant) and more limited in where they can aim (more limits up/down). You can also aim each independently of one another which means you can shoot left and right at the same time with different weapons.

How would this apply to Reborn? No fucking idea but while it sounds like a stupid thing to have to worry about aiming two crosshairs instead of just one, in practice it's pretty cool. I also feel it adds quite a bit of aiming depth to MWO. You have to lineup shots and can't rely on twitch skills to react to everything on torso mounted weapons. Perhaps the railgun would be torso mounted in Reborn making it harder to aim with but other weapons would be arm mounted and extremely easy to aim with. You could even go a step further and have head mounted, torso mounted and arm mounted weapons putting in three crosshairs, Craziness.
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Weird gameplay decisions in Hawken (1 comment)
Posted by peterg @ 17:40 GMT, 21 December 2012 - iMsg
I feel like the developer of Hawken feels they are a lot smarter than they actually are. I believe they've made some terrible gameplay calls and I'm going to list a few of them -

-Mechs can boost/dodge forward and sideways only to encourage combat

One of the issues with this is it tries to artificially force engagements. Yet all it will do is teach players to be that much more conservative and to learn to use horizontal escape avenues instead of going backwards. You can still go sideways very fast. It won't change gameplay for veterans of Hawken who understand how to play but it will make it that much harder for newer players to translate their own FPS skills into Hawken.

-Clunky mech movement

This ties into the one above. Mechs are a bit slow to accelerate up to speed which makes dodging fairly quick and strong. Mechs can't strafe turn too quickly or tightly without losing speed. Again mechs are encouraged to move forward mainly to be forced into attacking. Once players figure out moving horizontally to avoid attacking this decision to try and force combat appears foolish.

-Caps on mouse movement

A capped mouse rate kicks in if you move your mouse too fast. It's supposedly to simulate a mech. Yet what happens in practice is your mouse moves inconsistently. It starts out fast then the rate limit kicks in changing your mouse speed. This leads to inconsistent mouse movement. If you are like me and have many years of FPS experience it's a terrible mouse feeling. Why break what's been working for decades to be a "unique" FPS? Mouse control limits are not a good thing.

-Unlimited ammo and repair

I think some modes of play there can be an argument for such things like Clan Arena where it's not a serious competitive mode of play. However Hawken has these unlimited gameplay mechanics in every mode of play. This will lead to more defensive and passive gameplay as time goes on. You can spam as much as you want (as long as it's not constant to manage your heat) and running away to repair is encouraged. Unlimited ammo and repair are not good gameplay. However Hawken does have heat to force you to stop firing but in general all that means is two players almost always beat one player (being of equal skill).

-Ability to fly

This one is cool in theory until you learn the maps don't want you to fly around much. There are artificial limits on flying height and the maps are full of blue creativity walls to stop you from going where you want.

-Stun lock on explosions

Explosions don't knock you a direction they just stun you in place. So if you are running -> that way and an explosion hits you in the back you stop moving. In Quake getting hit in the back will usually push you further forward. What's worse is that in Hawken some guns fire explosions fast enough to completely stun lock a mech into not moving at all.

I'm sure there are more that I've missed (I've stopped playing for now) but overall it seems like the developer wants to artificially limit players because they think they are smarter and can force players into a specific play style. What's more surprising is that Hawken seems to have aspirations to be an E-Sport even with all these skill limiting decisions. Then again we all know E-Sports is generally pure marketing with nothing to do with how good a game is competitively.

The game does have it's supporters however due to the funding and development model. Since it's a F2P game that had closed beta access to payers only it has developed a rabid if very small fan base. The official Hawken forums are full of posters telling people "good riddance" if criticism, disagreement or even discussion is voiced about many of the gameplay decisions I listed above. The developer seems to want to force players into constant forward combat with limited movement while being the equivalent of a slow turret in aim. I even had my own thread removed entirely by a moderator without reason given. It'll be interesting to see the outcome of Hawken. Will it stay as it is or change? Will the average player enjoy the more limited play in Hawken or miss out on what's been available to them in other FPS games for years?
Edited by peterg at 17:44 GMT, 21 December 2012 - 2828 Hits
Hawken Open Beta (15 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 21:13 GMT, 14 December 2012 - iMsg
I did not play any until a day ago so these are virgin first impressions. Overall I don't like it much but I'm going to play a bit more and see if that changes. I think over time they could improve it and fix things up but ultimately I fear they just have made decisions they'll stand by which I disagree with.

I like the maps and graphics, they are quite detailed and performance is OK. The UI is packed full of info but sort of confusing to navigate. There also seems to be a lack of numbers and instead a use of bars which makes it hard to decide about various equipment. Thankfully the wikis have hard numbers. I love FFA deathmatch and Hawken has that mode, so that's a big plus. That's where I've probably spent 60% of my Quake playing time. It also has a few other varied team modes which is good. It's also F2P but the grind is so horrible I feel like it's P2W. Even with both 2x boosters (which cost a minimum of $20 a month!) for Hawken Points (the in game F2P money) and XP (to upgrade mechs) I think it'd feel like an epic grind. Without them it's even worse. However since I love FFA so much I can see myself playing it some. Overall the prices are insanely expensive. I have not seen one item I'd consider fair value to buy. So even if I do keep playing it I'll likely never spend money as it's currently set up which is not a good sign.

Now the bad parts. I attribute some of this stuff to being a new open beta but it still needs to get fixed up. I typically ping 40-60ms to North American East servers but in Hawken I get 150ms! Lovely! The netcode is passable but not the greatest yet few games are great at 150ms. I notice explosive shots disappearing or not firing and it's hard to get feedback other than watching enemy HP bars go down. Perhaps with lower ping it'll be better but since the lowest ping I've gotten is around 100ms I can't say. This seems to be improving but I've tried to play about 40 matches and maybe only gotten into 10. They all seem to fail for weird reasons and I've had one crash so far. I've also been put into a giant map with just me and another person (who I killed twice then he quit) and no else came for about 5 minutes so I disconnected. The match maker has issues to say the least. It'll put high level players in with day zero newbies and while it's hard to dominate due to the relative balance it's still not a good thing.

Speaking about balance I don't like how the game works overall. It doesn't have a duel mode but given the relative slowness of movement and the large maps most fights are duels in FFA. After you win a fight you should move into a corner and repair (which is unlimited!). So if you can win most 1v1 engagements you will dominate, assuming you can hide and repair after. I'm not a big fan of that. I much prefer in Quake where you can move faster and disengage or take on multiple targets and win. In Hawken this is possible but it seems very hard indeed given how the game is designed and balanced. For the most part any two mechs beat any one mech. Even winning back to back duels without repair is very tough. The maps in Hawken are also very open and the game has radar as well so hiding after a kill to repair can be hard. Movement across the map takes a much longer time than in Quake and the movement system is somewhat clunky (to simulate a mech I assume).

The one thing I absolutely hate is how the mouse movement works. Again to simulate a mech it's got some kind of limit on how you can move your mouse. It feels like negative acceleration but I don't think that's what it is. I'd describe it as dragging the mouse through clay littered with big rocks. It's clunky and inconsistent. The non-smooth feeling is a major negative for me. If you don't move your mouse much you won't notice it but any faster or sweeping movement seem discouraged and penalized. So while Hawken seems like a twitch shooter it actually isn't. there also seems to be fairly low limits on how high/low you can aim. Until you try it yourself it's hard to get across the bad feeling this has in comparison to many other smooth FPS mouse inputs out there.

The maps are decent but a bit weird. They are overly complex and seem made out of boxes. You can fly in Hawken but often you'll reach an artificial limit on how high you can go which is annoying. You can sprint or dodge (like UT) which takes up fuel (also used for flying). It auto-regenerates. Lots of clutter and graphical noise is in the maps. I think they went a bit too far on detail as I'd prefer larger and more consistent textures. Reminds a bit of the clutter in Deus Ex Human Revolution where there was garbage strewn everywhere and the game had to implement a highlight system so you could actually find gameplay items. Hawken maps just have a lot of visual distraction going on and mechs are relatively hard to see. There is also a blue creativity wall on most maps so it'll often look like you can go somewhere but you actually can't. They should have done a better job putting up natural barriers than relying on a blue shield wall to stop players.

Given it's fairly expensive to customize your mech look using real money I don't see why anyone would do so as it'd make you an even easier target to see. Buying a pink checker pattern is about $20 and the most expensive cosmetic I saw. All the cosmetics seem wildly over priced but Hawken in general is expensive. It is F2P in that you can grind out everything you need without paying (except cosmetics) but the grind seems especially steep (and likely to get worse as the current starter mech is bugged with 200% XP bonus which is supposed to be 20% only!). For me there is a point when the grind is so bad that a game becomes P2W. Sure you can get it all for free but who wants to spend hundreds or thousands of hours to do so? The grind is also non-linear on XP so it gets slower the higher up you go on a mech level. This is not a good thing. Hawken Points, the in game F2P currency, are fairly slow to obtain as well and it'll likely take people 40-100? matches to be able to buy a new mech or gun. I think the sheer slowness of the grind will turn off most players.

Overall it has potential to be fun but I'm not sure it has a good future in it's current state. I'll keep playing it for a while because I like FFA and can play that alone. I can't see myself getting into the team modes as I can't take Hawken seriously as it is. There is also no spectating or demos so competitive play doesn't interest me either. Anyone else playing? Thoughts?

TLDR - Weird mouse movement, low skill ceiling, iffy map design, various issues and F2P/P2W bullshit likely will limit Hawken from being more than a niche game.
3761 Hits
Mechwarrior Online (7 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 22:02 GMT, 1 December 2012 - iMsg
I'm actually having a real blast with this game. I didn't expect it to be so much fun. I shouldn't be totally surprised however as the core gameplay is TDM more or less. My Quake roots are so TDM heavy I'm finding it a fun crossover. I've always been a MW fan starting with MW2: Mercs many years back so I have as much history with the series as I do Quake.

While F2P the grind isn't bad if you join up with some groups on voice (I recommend CREDDITMWO) solo play is very brutal and you'll be lucky to win more than 30% of the time. Grouping up you'll win much more so you advance much faster in the game. It's almost as if you get free premium time by grouping (instead of paying for it). The game also greatly rewards basic teamplay quite a bit as focus fire is a strong tactic. In any 1v1 fight both mechs will likely take large amounts of damage while a 2v1 ends fairly quick.

Competent mech builds are a large part of success and often you have to invest many hours of CBills into a costly mech build to excel. Upgrades like Double Heatsinks (DHS), Endo Steel, upgraded engines (or even XL engines) along with different weapons are practically required to squeeze the most of any mech as the default load outs are not great. As a new play you start out in trial mechs which are basically canon versions of various mechs which are terrible death traps generally. After paying or grinding for a few hours you can get a real mech and start being much more successful.

Not much of a twitch shooter overall but aim does play a large role at times. Hitting specific areas on mechs rewards good aim and you can often de-leg mechs before killing them (which slows them significantly). There are also various mechs and builds which are greatly different. From the CPLT-K2 Gaussapult sniper, to light mechs who need fast twitch aim or the plodding Atlas there is a large variety to experience and master. The huge amount of weapons, armors, engines, mechs and setups leads to a complexity not typical in most shooters.

The game has lots of bugs and netcode problems still but I'm finding it refreshingly fun and a different take on the standard FPS shooter. I'm expecting great things from it in the future as it slowly develops with each new patch (usually weekly). The only real fear I have is they might be spending too much money too fast as Russ Bullock (President of PGI) has stated they are approaching 10 million spent. That is a lot when you consider there are only 11 mechs, 4 maps (with 2 variants) and one mode of play in the game currently. They have raised in excess of 5 million dollars alone through the Founder's Packages during closed beta but I still have my doubts about their development burn rate exceeding future revenues. I'm hoping most of their costs were front loaded with IP costs, engine costs, etc.

Is anyone else playing? What are your thoughts? I know it isn't Quake but I haven't played a FPS this much in a long time. I'm definitely hooked for the time being. I also did spend some money on it which is something Tribes Ascend or QuakeLive could never get me to do.
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2506 Hits
QW Thunderdome: Season 2 (EU and NA) (18 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 01:50 BST, 18 September 2012 - iMsg
We're happy to announce Season 2 of Thunderdome, which is scheduled to start October 1st!

Let's take a look in the rear view mirror at Season 1, where we had 125 players signed up from 25 different countries, spread across 5 divisions... it was a great ride!


Now let's put the past behind and look at what's ahead of us. Soon, after a long and barren summer break - it will be time for another walk through claustrophobic dark zones and blood runs through bad places. There's no shocking news to rules, maps or format - but there are few things worth mentioning:


We welcome each and every one of you to yet another season of Thunderdome Quakeworld duel action!

Links: QW.NU post, Euro Signup, NA Signup // mIRC #Thunderdome
Edited by wn at 03:16 BST, 18 September 2012 - 6681 Hits
2GD discussing Reborn on TheGDStudio #13 (90 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 09:34 BST, 25 July 2012 - iMsg
Additional details about United Kingdom 2GD's Reborn revealed during Episode #13 of the GD studio. Watch the video here.
Edited by Memento_Mori at 11:50 BST, 26 July 2012 - 14279 Hits
Tribes Ascend Drama (73 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 19:48 BST, 1 July 2012 - iMsg
I thought the Quake community was fucked up but Tribes Ascend is even more so. Yesterday HiRez (developer of T:A) declared demos were not longer going to be added to T:A after leading everyone on about them for months. As a player to me this broke any faith or long term interest in T:A. Demos have been in id games going back to Doom 1 (1993) and it's a feature I consider essential to any serious multiplayer FPS with any competitive scene. I have no interest playing in an online FPS league without demos since it makes cheating very easy and frankly I enjoy watching demos of myself/my team and my opponents as I do playing.

http://www.pastebin.com/u4NYwfjk

In the above log you can see HiRezBart being banned/shit talked from a channel full of competitive players. I haven't seen anyone from HiRez in the main T:A channel (irc.tribalwar.com #ascend) for days now (they probably aren't welcome and would get banned). Pretty crazy situation where the competitive community hates the developers. Way to go HiRez! I don't blame the players however, HiRez is a totally incompetent and lying company. They marketed T:A as the "Original E-Sport returning", blah blah and they just hacked in a shitty first person POV spectator mode and gave up on demos as being too hard. Then once you toss in all the other problems, mainly balance, it's hard not to hate HiRez if you play at a decent skill level. They had also teased ranked play for a long time but now that option is removed from the menus. Global Agenda HiRez's first game supposedly suffered from the same and was abandoned once T:A came out. Now that HiRez has Smite as their new baby, T:A looks like it's on the back burner not a game that will be developed for the long haul. It is a shame since T:A could have been a great long lasting competitive game in the arcade genre which is seriously lacking any good FPS right now.
14808 Hits
More Tribes Ascend (12 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 19:28 GMT, 10 March 2012 - iMsg
I have to admit this game is growing on me quite a lot. The first 10 hours or so I played it was back and forth with a lot of hate and frustration but now I'm quite a bit more competent. Having a few classes unlocked really helps as some classes really excel on certain maps and suck on others. I mostly play TDM since CTF has a bigger learning curve and I still really just need to improve my basics like moving and aiming. Specialization is very strong in this game and you need to learn to play to your strengths. In general the weapons are a lot less deadly and limited than any Quake but the movement on the faster classes is impressive.

I feel quite positive about this game right now almost like how I felt about QL when it went open beta. They announced 400,000 players were playing it which again sounds a lot like QL. I'm fearful they will fuck it up just like id however. First off they lack a lot of basic shit still like demos, first person POV, custom/private servers and the balance seems to be in a constant state of flux. Hopefully demos end server side MVD, not client side. They can't even seem to quite decide what they are balancing for (CTF? 7v7? 8v8? TDM? Arena? Pubs? PUGS? E-Sports? Everything?). Hopefully they don't split rulesets for pubs and competition. Right now there is a small community of competitive players who are "whitelisted" but it's impossible to join this "whitelist" to play with them. There aren't many maps despite it being a 4gb install. Servers experience lag rendering the game unplayable at times and the netcode is a little weird especially for hitscan weapons (no antilag?). The release date is April 12 but I see the game lacking a lot of stuff still at that point which should be standard for any competitive FPS.

The competitive scene in NA seems absolutely tiny and very underground. There are maybe ~10 teams right now made up mostly of veterans of previous tribes. Hopefully it grows quite a bit or it'll be a pretty boring scene. Also the lack of central servers and some teams being primarily east or west doesn't bode well for matches. It does seem to have NASL support and they are doing some good VODs but due to large team sizes (7s or 8s) I can't see it being a successful lan game ever since travel costs will severely limit any lan tournaments.

I remain cautiously optimistic but the next few months should show if it'll be a success or not. HiRez has a lot of work to do and there seems to be mixed predictions on if they can pull it off or not. Right now it has numbers going for it but if development lags or support is lacking for what is needed it could easily falter and lose momentum.

http://firetruce.com/ is the best NA site so far I've found
Edited by peterg at 19:31 GMT, 10 March 2012 - 4110 Hits
Tribes Ascend (18 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 17:42 GMT, 29 February 2012 - iMsg
So I'm trying this out lately as it went open beta, only level 4 so maybe 2 hours played tops. I never played any other Tribes except briefly Tribes 1 in like maybe 2007? for a little bit. My initial impression back then was these guys are way too good and it's too different from Quake to bother to learn now. Also it wasn't that busy so why leave one dead game for another.

Ascend however is different everyone, to put it mildly, fucking sucks. I feel lost and clueless yet I'm often top of the scoreboard with my mighty 10 kills. I think it has to do with the weapons, everything is slow as fuck and all the combat is long distance for the most part. It'd be like if they changed the RL speed in Quake to 200 and got rid of every hitscan weapon. That makes movement dominant. Often in TDM one guy will grab the flag (when your team holds it you get double points?) and manage to keep holding it for the whole match as no one can hit him if he's some fast class with lots of jump jets. That's the thing I don't get how are you supposed to hit these guys when half the time they are in the air?

Maybe I need to unlock better weapons or classes, I don't know. Any tips would be appreciated. I did notice you need a lot of XP to unlock anything and if you actually buy gold it's rather expensive. To unlock everything with gold you'd need to spend $133 of real money.

http://distractobot.com/tribes-ascend-prices-...uary-2012/

I'll keep playing and see if it grows on me. I want to at least try every class before I quit for good, haha. I also hope while it is still beta they don't go overboard and keep changing everything. That was one of the main reasons I quit Warsow and don't like MMORPGS or RTS. The balance seems to change arbitrarily every patch. Quake remains static and the players adjust their gameplay to counter and re-counter any new tactic or strat.
6520 Hits
Why draft leagues? Are clans obsolete? (43 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 19:44 GMT, 22 February 2012 - iMsg
Quake and deathmatch in general has a problem, we lack players and often our communities are small and/or dwindling. In communities such as these with hundreds of players, or even less, it is hard to have enough clans form for proper competition. Clans work best when you have hundreds of them competing. Quake in the past had the numbers for a healthy clan scene but that time is long gone. When there are only 8 or 20 or even 30 clans there are usually big gaps in skill. Clans have served us well in the past but in the future clans are no longer going to be the best way to organize competitions and form teams, draft leagues are. Clans lack any regulation and are prone to massively stacked teams and anti-competitive behavior such as hoarding players to deny them to your competition. North America I feel suffers more from stacked clans as we lack the natural barriers present in Europe such as different languages and culture. As time goes on however you see more and more multinational super clans in Europe as well.

A simple function of a draft goes such a long way to balance out teams for more competitive and engaging leagues. Blow out games are bad for our communities and stop people from playing. Yes, these games are hardcore, and people need to suck it up, but at a certain point we need to realize stacked clans are rigging the outcome. In pro sports money and rules attempt to stop all-star teams from forming. Yet in Quake all-star teams can form without penalty; indeed all-star teams are rewarded with dominating their competition. The only penalty is an indirect one which is hard to quantify, hurting our communities by making people lose interest and stop playing from being unable to ever compete. It takes no great Quake skills to decide to put all the best players on one team. It takes great skills to win with a draft team that is not ideal and has problems to overcome to win. A draft league is closer to real sports in that you have a team of mixed skill players who need to work their best to win, not a top team of all-stars without weaknesses. I greatly enjoy watching two top teams battle it out in Quake but there is also a magic in watching closely matched draft teams compete, even if not everyone on each team is a top player. In a draft league you need to overcome your weaknesses as a team much more so than the best Quake clans have ever had to do. It is possible to make many more draft teams that can compete vs one another than top Quake clans filled to the brim with talent.

Other than more fair competition draft leagues have other benefits over clans. Draft leagues mix players of all skill levels together so everyone can learn from one another. Inclusiveness is almost inherent since every team can have their top player, average players and newbies yet still hang with all the other draft teams who feature similarly mixed skill lineups. In a clan environment it is wise to exclude average players and newbies from your team as they bring down your competitive edge. Clans can still have a farm team they are training but these players will often not get play time in a real match. Clans also at times over recruit to deny talent to the competition. Every great player you can bench on your own clan furthers the zero sum game of limited talent to favor your own team. In the past there have been clans with lineups 2-3 rosters deep which could still dominate the second best team. This is no error but a deliberate strategy to win by metagaming politics and ensuring the competition has no chance before the game is even played. Is this fun? Is this Quake? I do not see this as a positive in any way but it has happened time and time again in various Quake communities. Draft leagues are closer to pure competition often with small set limits on teams which go much further to promote more activity and less bench riding (though it still occurs). There is no purpose to allowing a draft team to have 20 players as you need only 4 to play TDM.

The players who most often resist draft leagues are the ones at the top. Guys who are in the best clans do not like having to play fair and break up their clans. I can understand this especially since by the old unspoken rules clans and politics to form the best team was how competition worked. Yet there is a better way and it's past time we realized this. A community such as EU QW is currently struggling because they cannot seem to grasp they need to move beyond clans. There is a lot to be said for having clans that have been together for many years, some more than a decade, but at the same time this can be a strong negative as a top team never goes away and usually just gets better with time. A draft league changes season to season and if one season you have a bad team you get a chance at a fresh start next season. Clans are much more set, and even with all the clan hopping that occurs, typically clans remain with the same players for months or years at a time greatly limiting dynamic interaction between different players. Clans and clan competitions need not disappear but I think our communities should focus on draft leagues as time goes on. It took the NA QW community being dead for roughly 6 years for us to realize this. Now we are almost back to activity levels not seen since 2005 and the reason for this is the great success of the TDM draft league. It is almost unheard of for an old game such as QW to experience such a comeback yet it is happening. I believe TDM and team modes are the core of any community, duel lacks a strong social element. We should go out of our way to support a draft league which can capture the interest and involve players of all skills in teamplay.

Draft leagues are not without problems either but I have found them to be much fairer and more engaging overall. There will always be winners and losers in any competition. A draft league is not going to magically make all teams have a .500 record and every match be within 1 frag. If the draft is captain based, captains are the critical element and need to make wise draft choices or risk tanking their team. Leadership of draft teams can be hard when you have to deal with players of all skill levels and some of whom are not as dedicated as others are. Teams almost always need extra players such as a TDM 4v4 competition requiring 5-7 players per draft team. This can still result in the weaker players being benched but I've seen time and time again captains reaching a gentleman's agreement and playing their weaker players on both teams. By numbers alone the weaker players have a much better chance to play in a draft league and be involved as typically scheduling makes it impossible to always ensure your top lineup is around. Quake is what we do for fun, very few of us do this as a living and we should recognize it is best when everyone can be involved at all skill levels in team competitions. I can get frustrated when playing with draft team mates who lack my skills but I realize on the whole it is a positive thing and I can help them learn how to play properly. I also know each team is dealing with this same issue. Even if I end up on a bad draft team there is always next season and a fresh start awaiting me. Draft leagues remain competitive at their core yet each draft team has weaknesses typically not seen in a top clan. In many cases teamplay is required to work around these weaknesses and each team has to approach this and seek out exploiting the other teams weakness as well. Draft leagues are not worse than top clan competitions but different and on the whole offer much more player involvement and possibilities for many more competitive teams to form.

It is hard to break with tradition and clans are a huge part of what has made community such a strong element of our game. Yet as time goes on and I've been in various clans (even a few dominating top clans) I've come to realize they are not the best mechanism for team competition, especially in small communities we face today. In the past a division system of skill has done well by placing teams somewhat closely to other skilled teams but a draft league goes further still by breaking up skill on an individual level to distribute across teams. I still join and play with clans from time to time (just quit one actually!) but I support and look forward to draft leagues much more. It is no surprise that leading the way with draft leagues are the smallest most hardcore communities in North America, Doom 2 and QuakeWorld. These games were in dire need of a fix and they have found it in draft leagues. IDL is a ZDaemon (Doom 2) CTF draft league which currently in its 11th season. QW Central TDM draft is now in its second season with more to come. Drop by #idl or #qwcentral on irc.quakenet.org if you want to get involved. I hope to see more draft leagues popping soon, they are the future.
Edited by peterg at 16:11 GMT, 14 March 2012 - 15059 Hits
Resurgence of NA QW - TDM LIVES (10 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 18:46 GMT, 9 February 2012 - iMsg
It's rather amazing how quickly QW has bounced back after being rather dead for years. I really only play 4v4 TDM but we have had two 4v4s happen simultaneously every night this week and I usually get to play in 4-6 4v4s a night now. I think one of the draft teams last night practiced 7 back to back 4v4s in a row. Rather nuts compared to just a few months back. While that might not seem like a lot of players (and it really isn't) almost all of them are decently skill so the scene is great right now. The combination of TDM and mumble for every pickup makes it loads of fun. We always are looking for new faces or old faces so drop by #na-quakeworld on irc.quakenet.org

$$$
3925 Hits
Pondering STA QW TDM Draft North America (26 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 02:00 GMT, 1 February 2012 - iMsg
Last night QW Central Season 2 draft took place without a hitch. There was a bit of drama the night before as B1aze tried to use Russian voodoo mathematics on us to trick us into securing stronger draft order for him but it was resisted. The draft went quickly once all the captains congregated on mumble and picks were announced live in #sta on Quakenet. It was a low key event for its importance on the upcoming season and some players even were playing a QW 4v4 pickup game during the draft. Overall the teams drafted look solid without any overly weaker teams. The upcoming season will be a blast and probably be even more competitive than last season, which featured the league champion Vegeta Hoes only having a 54.94% frag efficiency with a 15-6 map record. Vegeta Hoes squeaked out the closest of victories in the best of 5 finals winning the final 5th map by only 6 frags. I expect most matches within 50 frags like last season, so tight matches incoming!

This season features some repeating captains and some new faces as captains for 7 captains/teams in total. Vegeta returns to defend his championship along with runner up Dustin. Serp, Karnage and GND all captain again with both Serp and KRN looking to make much stronger showings than in season 1. KRN has even gone so far as to build an entirely new computer for this season. GND is looking to repeat his success on making playoffs in season 1 and finishing even better this season. New captains Blood_DoG and B1aze enter the mix but both were strong players last season. Blood_DoG was on trip to South America but still played impressively with 200ms (YAY QW antilag) and was a core player on the 2nd place team. B1aze was the star player of Dustin's 2nd place finisher, GQ Models and team mate of Blood_DoG.

Rules were tightened up for season 2 with emphasis put fairness and closing loopholes. No longer will late additions be made solely by the decision of one admin. Arguably Vegeta Hoes in season 1 was helped to their league championships by late add, whitey, who played very well. This upcoming season captains will hold a vote on any late additions so not to overly change team balance after the draft. Server selection has also been tweaked so that average teams pings should be closer but in truth there were not any major problems in season 1 with fair servers. Controversially, to some, team overlay has been enabled as a setting which lets you see where on the map your team mates are at all times. Given the heavy usage of mumble and team binds I do not see it as a major change but a slight help for teams with less experienced players. Unfortunately this season we are missing a few players such as Blakbeard, Squeeze, Sane, Top, Razor, Deathbomb, etc but I hope they sign up for season 3.


Dustin's team this season is named fancypants and consists of Fiend, wonko, cled, Quark, and cream. I was somewhat surprised to see Fiend go first pick overall, not because he can't be great but because he hasn't been playing much except for the last few days. Wonko had a strong last season and continues to improve so he's a solid pick. Cled is very old school from Point Blank which was a famous ancient QW clan. Cled needs to play more to regain form. Quark and cream are both also season 1 veterans who did not play many matches but I hope can get some good more TDM experience in the upcoming season. I suspect this team will favor DM3 as Fiend is a monster there and Dustin has loads of QW CA experience where they mainly play DM3. If Fiend can carry them somewhat on E1M2 they will not have a weak map.

Serp's team this season is TBD and consists of thump4, jackal, up2, higgs, and shaftadelic. Serp's team last season went 0-5 so this team would not need to do much to improve Serp's last season as captain. However, I suspect this team will be quite strong as Thump4 (Jeff) is a great competitor. Serp is no slouch himself and it'll be interesting to see who ends up running most of the quads or if Jeff and Serp switch off. Jackal plays from Turkey with over 100ms but has loads of TDM experience to make up for any ping weaknesses. Up2 hails from the west coast and also can face ping issues but is constantly getting better and might even one day be as great in TDM as he is in QW TF. Higgs refers to himself as the "Quake Calculator", or such, and is an expert at timing items, perhaps even too good at it. He needs more QW TDM play time to learn the game but he's a potential monster for the upcoming season. Shaft played with Serp last season so they know each other well but Shaft will probably take on more of a backup role this season. This team should be quite good on all maps and I think E1M2 might be there strongest as Serp, Jeff and Higgs have all had some very good games there.

BLooD_DoG's team this season is named Immolation and consists of whitey, Cyanide, STEEK, Flash, and th0rax. Blood_DoG is (BD) one of the most famous QW CTFers to have ever played but these days he plays DM, and quite well I might add. Last season he was plagued by ping issues so this season he can prove himself as a fresh captain. Whitey is a very strong player but sometimes he lapses into pickup mode where his teamplay can suffer. Whitey needs to concentrate on teamplay and he'll be a great anchor of the team along with BD. Cyanide and STEEK are always solid and play smartly with no hesitation to make sacrifice plays or save items for a team mate. Flash and th0rax will continue to learn TDM as they get more experience. I know both are capable players but in certain situations. I see this team favoring DM2, as all their players do well there, but their DM3 game should be strong as well. If they can find the right rhythm E1M2 could sync as well but I foresee them needing more practice on that map in particular.

GND's team this season is named Sweep The Leg and consists of doum, Nitro, pinion, troyonfire, thrill, and zalu. GND did as he promised and picked Doum, repeating playing with him last season. GND and Doum are a great combo and will build off their prior play time together last season to continue upping their teamplay. Nitro might have a breakout season playing alongside Doum and GND who will push his TDM skills to the next level. Pinion is another old school player who knows DM3 very well but still has some learning to do on DM2 and E1M2, with more practice he'll be very solid. Troyonfire and thrill both have Q1 experience but need more play time to get back into the swing of things. Both could be potentially big value picks this season who go on to pay huge profits. Zalu is extremely new to QW and is just getting his feet wet in TDM but he's on a good team which should propel his TDM game forward quite a bit. Another DM3 team due to GND, Doum, Nitro and pinion all being quite good there. E1M2 might be their bane this season.

Karnage's team this season is named Ecstasy and consists of Rusty`, toxic, mihawk, ivan, killjoy, and crono. KRN had a problematic first season with his team being broken up due to inactivity. I'm not sure exactly how he drafted the wrong mix of people but his second attempt looks much better already. KRN used to be one of the top players and with more practice many predict he will be again. Rusty had an excellent season prior and will be a strong core player on this team. Toxic has been very inactive lately but in years past he was a very good all around player. It remains to be seen how he will perform this season. Mihawk plays from Brazil and has bad ping but is incredible despite his handicap. Ivan, killjoy and crono all have little TDM experience and it will be interesting to see which of them ends up playing the most this season. Ivan has been playing lots of TDM pickup games lately so he seems to have a head start over his team mates. I can't predict what maps this team will favor, it really depends what players end up being active for them.

B1aze's team, this season is TBD and consists rline, furbison, Genie, davis, and aardappel. B1aze had great play last season and really stepped up his game in the playoffs propelling his team to 2nd place finish. This season as a captain he is looking to win it all and has the competitive drive to do so. When not streaming matches rline is a strong player who managed a good showing last season despite his team's losing record on Big Ballers. He'll definitely not be the star of the team this season, B1aze will be, but he will be along with furbison a core player. Furbison isn't flashy when playing but still manages to consistently play solid TDM. B1aze will probably force him to play even better. Genie speaks Russian and should get on well with B1aze who does as well. If he can be more active Genie could possibly have a breakout season. Davis has great technical skills, timing and teamplay but severly lacks QW experience. If he can put in the hours he could be one of the strongest players in the later part of the draft this season. Aardappel is well known for various maps, Cube Engine, and being hilarious on mumble when he will grace us with his voice. He's going to be a reliable player and will get better as the season goes on. I was surprised to see him get picked so late in the draft. B1aze is arguably the strongest E1M2 player in QW NA and if his team will play as he instructs they should be a great E1M2 team. DM3 might be their weakest map this season.

Vegeta's team this season is Vegeta Hoes (again) and consists of Fastidious (the author of this column), kwong, rook, mikefails(my brother), and QuakePhil (of ESR fame). Vegeta captained the season 1 champions but not without a favorable event happening. By getting a late add in whitey his team was strengthed considerably. This season however people are talking about his team being the strongest despite going last every round in the draft. Somehow Vegeta ended up picking the same exact people I would have and I managed to trick him into drafting my brother mikefails (of IDL fame). Vegeta was arguably the most dominant player last season. I (Fastidious) had a good season last time and think I can do even better this time as I get in more practice and refine my teamplay. Slipping under the radar of other captains both kwong and rook are potentially 1st round picks in skill if they can put in the necessary practice to get into shape. I even keep hearing that kwong is supposedly a CPM legend, is this true? Mikefails is fairly reliable but needs more play time. QuakePhil played a lot of matches last season and if we can convince him to stay up past his bed time (10pm EST) he might play quite a few matches this season as well. I think E1M2 might be our strongest map due to pure aim skills but I cannot see us being much weaker on DM2 or DM3.

One thing I've learned over the years with leagues I've observed and played in is a team's strength on paper almost never matches up to their real world results. It can happen but usually teams are better or worse than you expect. With so many unknowns in this season any team can win. It all depends what teams can manage to pull off and what individual players end up doing. One maxim will remain true, if you don't show up to matches your team will do worse, activity counts for a lot in this league. As a draft league most players have never played with each other on a regular basis. Teams need practice to solidify and learn each other's styles. So, good luck and have fun, may the best team win but playing some tight QW TDM matches is enough to satisfy me.
Edited by peterg at 16:12 GMT, 14 March 2012 - 8591 Hits
Two underground NA communities (10 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 02:34 GMT, 18 January 2012 - iMsg
I play in the IDL ZDaemon CTF League and STA QW Draft TDM League which have small communities where everyone knows everyone else. You rarely see aliases on servers and we generally play organized pickup mix games to practice. Both leagues are doing fairly well, with the IDL lasting 11 seasons thus far, perhaps the longest id based game league in NA ever(?) and the STA propelling QW 4v4 TDM back to activity not seen in many years. I think it was 2005 or 2006 since I've seen two 4v4 TDM matches going on at once in North America servers. Yet I've seen two 4v4 TDM matches going on at once multiple times within the past few months due to the huge success of STA. If you want to play in a draft league in North America check these two leagues out. Also if you just ever wanted to try or get back to playing ZDaemon (Doom 2) or QW now is a great time.

#sta quakenet
www.na-quakeworld.com
www.quakeworld.nu

#idl quakenet
www.intldoomleague.org
www.zdaemon.org
2772 Hits
Longest running DM/CTF leagues (14 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 21:55 GMT, 17 December 2011 - iMsg
Just curious about this. Mainly interested in TDM or CTF. Here is the list I can think of -

QW:

NQR - 11 seasons with lots of side events, TDM
EQL - 14 seasons, TDM
Smackdown - Various, 1-6 seasons in EU with other multiple season events on other continents, TDM

ZDaemon(Doom 2) :

IDL - 11 seasons, CTF

Can anyone help fill in Q2/Q3/QL or other games such as Tribes, Unreal, etc. Thanks.
3043 Hits
Dual Interview of Higgs & DevastatioN (22 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 02:03 GMT, 9 November 2011 - iMsg
Quakelive and Doom 2 players (ZDaemon), Canada Higgs and Canada DevastatioN give their insight into both games. They offer contrasting views on various elements of gameplay and the communities. They also give their opinions on topics relevant to the IDL, a 3v3 CTF ZDaemon league.

Check out the full interview on the next page!
Article Page: 1 || next page >>
Edited by Demiurge at 21:02 GMT, 9 December 2011 - 22284 Hits
IDL Winter 2012 Signups Open (14 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 05:49 GMT, 8 November 2011 - iMsg
International Doom League is a ZDaemon (Doom 2) 3v3 CTF draft league primarily made up of North American Doom players. Tonight the sign-ups opened and will last until November 21st.


Links: Sign up - mIRC #idl
Edited by xou at 13:19 GMT, 8 November 2011 - 4182 Hits
Last Call for IDL Signups (15 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 20:30 GMT, 24 November 2010 - iMsg
First, what is the IDL? The IDL stands for the International Doom League which uses ZDaemon for competitive Doom 2 CTF. The league uses a draft format modeled somewhat after the NFL. It is primarily an American based league but does have a few people from Europe playing who have managed to make a good showing. The IDL is entering it's 9th season and hoping to expand from 8 teams to 12 teams. Signups end Nov. 26th and you can sign up on the internet. If you want to hang out with us drop by #idl on irc.quakenet.org. The IDL community plays private CTF and we'll be sure to invite you too! If you want to see what the IDL is all about check out this envenomated video featuring Mikehail one of the league's hottest flag runners.

Edited by xou at 07:05 GMT, 25 November 2010 - 6269 Hits
ZDaemon ridiculousness (35 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 04:22 BST, 12 September 2010 - iMsg
ZDaemon is a weird community. You have a schizophrenic developer, Kilgore, moderating forums as people constantly disagree with him instead of developing ZDaemon as supposedly he is doing. ZDaemon official forums now have the irony that discussing the most successful, largest, and longest ZDaemon league in the history of ZDaemon, the IDL, is a ban worthy offense. Other games or topics are fine to talk about just don't mention or talk about the IDL since Kilgore hates people playing ZDaemon. Apparently the IDL is stealing ZDaemon players by making them play ZDaemon and thus "sticking it to ZDaemon' . It is so ridiculous it is hard to believe. The rest of the ZDaemon team seems to have no problems with this and are probably afraid of Kilgore themselves lest they get on the crazy man's enemy list. He holds grudges for years.

The only reason people put up with the insanity of the ZDaemon team is the lack of alternatives avaliable. In the Quake series you have a variety of good clients which are open source to choose from and use. ZDaemon is closed source and the developers are paranoid to share their source code, and with good reason if they did someone would likely establish a sane community not led by power mad people who don't care for the game. All in all it is a sad state of affairs for ZDaemon and it seems unlikely to change anytime soon.

IDL
ZDaemon
9636 Hits
QL community in North America? (26 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 20:32 BST, 1 September 2010 - iMsg
I have visited some IRC channels on Gamesurge but honestly I couldn't find any which seemed too active or large in size. I'm hoping there is some secret place players hang out and play on private servers. Based on my searching however it doesn't seem to exist. Where is the QL community for team modes in NA?

Is QL dead already? I'm the type of guy id should be able to gain interest from but the only QL action I vaguely follow is pros dueling. I admit you can always find a game in QL but I am not interested in pub play anymore. When I used to play QW I was always playing among the community of TDM/CTFers as I would call it. Just seems as if it doesn't exist in QL for NA?
5135 Hits
Random QL thoughts/observations (15 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 20:31 GMT, 22 November 2009 - iMsg
Let's exam some statistics from the awards section:

~920k accounts - AWESOME, almost one million people have made QL accounts!

~680k played one complete online match - About 1/4 were lost before even trying QL seriously however. I blame the stupid training, it is annoying and pointless.

~380k have won an online match - Again this shows most people just tried it but were not serious or did not have their interest held. Winning one match online isn't too tough especially with many team modes yet only 4/10 even got this far.

~106k played 10 hours - Now we see there is still a large number who have seriously played QL, about 1/10.

~115k have won 10 matches - Roughly matches the 10 hours played.

~58k played 24 hours - This is probably a good representation of serious players who like the game and will keep playing it. Given how long QL has been out now reaching 24 hours isn't a huge milestone. I have over two days played and I haven't touched QL in months. I just follow the scene and watch demos now.

~28k have won 100 matches - Good representation of the core player base I think. Took me about ~38 hours to hit 100 wins, I'm good but not exceptional.

id seems fairly secretive about QL thus far(mainly I think because it is not nearly as successful as they hoped), but there is still hope. Personally I've stopped playing for a few reasons:

1. I always gravitate towards private servers/competitive scene after a while. I never found that in QL, does it even exist? I found QuakeNight.com which looks quite interesting but I never see people practicing or scrimming or even high quality pub mixes.

2. I mainly play team modes and FFA. FFA is fine regardless of how good people are in it since it is always chaos. The majority of team games end up lopsided however and not very fun. Either my team is destroying the other team, or we are getting raped. If my team is getting raped I used to try my best to keep my team going, but eventually I got fed up with it. More often than not people intentionally stack teams and you'll see good players join the stronger team. Even worse is when some decent clan is taking on a public server, fun for them but sucks for everyone else. Of course if I could find a group of like minded competitive players to hang with this wouldn't be an issue.
4466 Hits
ZDaemon Overview (184 comments)
Posted by peterg @ 22:35 BST, 7 May 2007 - iMsg
Few gamers probably know about ZDaemon, and probably even less have tried it. Here's a look at a game flying under the radar.

ZDaemon is client/server based on Doom 2 which is most similar to the Quake series than any other game. It shares many weapons(SG, SSG, RL, plasma, chaingun, etc), and even some engine tricks on movement(wall running, strafe tricks). ZDaemon has very low system requirements, and decent unlagged netcode(56kers/sub 200 pingers are fairly competitive). It comes with a custom server browser which has built in chat, buddy system, server favorites, and a nice autodownloader to find all the files you need to play on servers. ZDaemon doesn't require extensive config editing nor is it as aim based as most modern DM games.

Edited by Nicky at 21:14 GMT, 12 March 2008 - 166526 Hits
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