On the ArcheAge server in which I play, the East faction is significantly outnumbered by those in the West. I play in the East, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy being the underdog. There is no greater challenge than to play at a great disadvantage and still win. Our guild punches far above its weight, particularly as we recently changed things up. Ten days ago we put into action a plan that had been brewing for a while. Our guild had over 80 members, but the vast majority logged on and played the game without any interaction with their fellow guildies. This was unacceptable for two reasons – AA is a sandboxy game, and the more we cooperate as a guild, the better we do. And any player in the guild is a potential security threat. Who are these people logging on every day and positively ignoring the rest of the guild while they monitor our chat channels? Espionage is not unknown in this game.

So we pulled out the active player core and formed a new guild – Letter of Marque. The name represents how we intend to impact the game world. We are a privateering guild with a focus on trade. We aim to own the ocean in the evening Australian time. That means any red faction trade runs or fishing expeditions will have some problems. They’re already having problems now. Our raiding results are quite good, but when you take into account that we’re doing it with about a dozen players then you can stick an ‘indeed’ on the end of it. New players to our guild have to follow some basic and unyielding rules. You have to be on teamspeak when you’re playing as voice chat is where we organise our events. It doesn’t mean you have to blab away, but you do have to be in the loop. You have to be loyal and you cannot attack our own faction. We are not pirates, we are privateers. However, we do attack known elements of our faction who we know collaborate with the reds. This is unacceptable as is killing your own faction for personal benefit or griefing. There are a few green guilds firmly in our sights, (as in they’re kill on sight if we encounter them). There’s nothing worse than a traitor and our faction is full of them. Why?

Because we’re outnumbered and they’re weaklings who would rather roll over and suck up to the enemy instead of fighting it out. But like I said, I enjoy being the underdog as it makes victory all the more sweeter. And it’s why when the perennial argument concerning pay-to-win raises its head I really don’t understand what the fuss is all about. So some players want to spend wads of real life cash in order to get items that they’re too lazy or inept to get any other way. So what? They might have the ultra delph bow of crushing but inevitably they’ll suck at playing their toon. (I particularly like disarming players who rely on an uber-weapon for their greatness and watch them flail around for 10 seconds as they frantically face-mash the keyboard in an attempt to understand why they can’t use their big tough sword). And they’ll have to keep paying the monies to get the next weapon up as inflation starts to eat at the game.

No, make me the underdog any day. It’s where the real fun is. The type of fun that lasts for a long time.

I was traveling down a dusty road in ArcheAge when I happened across two trade packs lying in my path. A strange occurrence. Presumably someone had de-spawned their cart leading to the loss of their packs. They had been created in Silent Forest and I was in Falcorth, a tidy distance. I could have shouldered one of the packs and walked for a few minutes to hand it in for some tidy gold, but then I pondered the possibilities of transporting it across the ocean for many gilder starry stars, and I shouldered one of the packs and hauled it across to some land I own near the City of Towers.

In short, I got greedy. The pack lay there for days until finally I got around to it. I trucked it down to the coast, launched my clipper ship, and sailed across to the enemy continent. My destination was Cinderstone Moor, a hotbed of PvP bedlam. Just the other day I had been witness to two green tradeships belting into its harbor, pursued by a gigantic pirate ship and what seemed like 50 red players, (just to clarify, a green is an ally, and a red is an enemy). I got caught up in a massive PvP battle as every man and his battle-kitty fought over the trade-packs on offer.

Back to my adventure. I made it unscathed across the seas. Then I ran my clipper up the beach just south of the harbor. My plan was to stealth and sneak in the back-door, so to speak. Creep up the beach and around the back of some buildings and then I could pop the gilda merchant without fear of being discovered. I had already done this many times before. But this time, over-confident in my success rate, I got lazy. Creeping past the airship platform I noticed that my stealth had only 8 seconds remaining. The prudent thing would have been to wait in a corner, reboot the stealth, and then make the creep across the open area to the safety of the buildings. But like I said, I got lazy. My stealth dropped halfway across, I restealthed, and just at that moment a red rode by on his mount. He couldn’t see me, but he had seen me restealth and he had seen I had a trade-pack on my back. I made for the airship platform, my heart pounding in my headphones as he jumped around looking for me.

And then he caught me. It’s pretty hard to effectively fight as a kiting class when weighed down with a load that drops your movement rate by 70%. I died, and then I watched him shoulder that pack and hand it in himself for the reward. It was the first trade-pack I had lost in the game thus far, but I know it won’t be the last.

The trade-pack game mechanism is a stroke of genius on the developer’s part because it allows for and encourages meaningful open-world PvP. Players muster their resources to craft the materials to make the packs. Then they have a choice; play it safe and get an average reward, or roll the dice and try for a run through territory flagged in conflict? If you really want to get lucky you could load 20 packs onto a trade-ship and hope that you make it across without being attacked, boarded, plundered, and generally wiped on the ocean floor.

There is always something to do in ArcheAge, but more importantly, there is the constant opportunity to generate meaningful game content that results in genuine events. I’ll remember that little trade-pack adventure for some time, as will the lucky bastard who ultimately profited from me finding a pack that fell off the back of a cart.

It’s Xmas morning and I’m waiting for my wife to wake up so we can open the presents. Waiting a long time. Sure we had a late night at a little social do, but this is Xmas morning to open the presents for Chrissakes and doesn’t she know that I’m waiting patiently??

To hell with it, I’ll log onto ArcheAge. Yesterday I got my clipper ship. I only got it because I was chatting with guildies on TeamSpeak and someone mentioned that spending 50 gildas on getting a clipper was a serious waste of gildas when I could pick up the plan off the auction house for a cool 60 gold. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Sure enough the plans were there and I got myself a harpoon clipper. I had all the mats already to build both the dock and the ship, so I slung down my dock in the middle of Lutesong harbor and about 20 minutes later I had my very own clipper ship.

Time to sail the seven seas. I’m at level cap after hitting 50 a couple of weeks ago. When I hit 50 I asked in guild chat what I needed to do now and I got a most divisive reply:

“It’s a sandbox, you knobhead.”

Indeed it is. The clipper ship has been added to my large scarecrow farm and a couple of underwater aqua farms. I’m levelling a bunch of crafting streams as well as engaging in as much PvP as I can handle. The new gaming rig lets me have all the video settings at ultra-high and this game is the best looking thing I’ve ever seen, (wife excluded, obviously). The Duke of O joined me this morning from null signifier and I took him for a cruise on my new clipper, his first ocean adventure in the game. Then I handed him the wheel and he almost managed to steer us straight into a PvP fight between a trade ship and a bunch of red nasties. However, cool as the other side of your pillow, he managed to steer us back to safety after much heart beating from us both. I asked him why he hadn’t been spending much time in game and he admitted that apart from being distracted by WoW he’d heard so many bad things about the game from other bloggers that he’d stayed away.

I put him to rights. Trion might have fucked up the game for the whales and the players that were first in line, but the ultimate effect has been to create a level playing field for new players who missed the initial land rush. Land is cheap and plentiful and many guilds are steadily rebuilding after the Auroria debacle. The Trion stuff-ups have not effected me in the slightest. The game is brilliant, the player-base is healthy, the moron factor is low, and the amount of options available to pursue is so extreme that it just isn’t possible to do everything.

One of the other major hurdles to new players is that they are put off by the fact that this game mixes up subscription with free-to-play content. Let me get one thing straight for all those thinking this:

ArcheAge is not a subscription game. You may pay a fee for Patron status, but that is merely another aspect of the cash shop. Get it out of your head that this is a subscription game. It is a cash shop across the board. What aspect of the cash shop that you choose to partake in is up to you. I myself have patron status and I have so far purchased one apex for $10 which I sold in game for a cool 235 gold. That little gold hit has enabled me to position myself to make some very good gold. You have to have money to make money. In total I’ve spent $40 on this game so far. When you consider that TESO was a $85 box purchase and then the monthly $15 on top of it, ArcheAge is incredible value.

So a lot of bloggers reckon the game is crap. So what? I say it’s great. I also say it’s currently the best MMO going, and I’ve played a few. Don’t believe them and don’t believe me either. Get in and make up your own mind.

Now I have to go as the good wife has stirred. Merry Xmas everyone!

Happy Christmas to me.

It’s been almost four years since I purchased my 17 inch screen Samsung RF711 laptop. With it’s I7 processor and 4 gig of ram, back in the day this was a hefty beast. But earlier this year the hard drive crashed and was replaced on warranty, and lately it’s been making strange clicking noises and turning itself off at inopportune times, symptoms which suggest the imminent demise of the motherboard. Not a good thing in laptops.

I suppose I could have struggled on while donating money to starving children, or refugees, or some poor lost 18 year old who desperately wants to go into hock for a valuable arts degree which the world needs so very badly. But then I discovered a little site called mwave which has a tasty range of gaming rigs for us Aussie folks. And I decided to forgo all laptops and treat myself to a Vox Eminor Overclocked Gaming PC. Yeah baby!

What has it got? Well, it has some of the good stuffs.

Firstly the video card is an MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4GB Video Card. Tasty.

Then we have 16GB of Corsair Vengeance Ram to get things moving, as well as a nice little Intel Core i7 4790K Quad Core LGA 1150 4.0GHz Unlocked CPU Processor. Throw in your normal hard drive monster with a solid state for good measure and things are looking mighty nice. With an MSI Z97-MPOWER Intel LGA 1150 ATX Motherboard and over 700 watts of power supply, I sure hope the Corsair Hydro Series H105 Liquid CPU Cooler and top of the range twin fans can keep it all running cool, (hot tip – they are).

I needed a new monitor so I got a nice LG flicker-free 27 inch, plus a Razor keyboard and some nice speakers and a new headset. I kept my old mouse, which I have a strong attachment too, (the wife is jealous).

And now I sit here while I wait for the bloody thing to download all of my games.

Oh, the case is nice too, as it is all cool looking and has a clear window on the side so I can see shiny lights and cables and things.

Tomorrow I need to go shopping for a present for the wife. She asked me what I wanted and I said, “I’m sorted, baby!”

ps, if you can’t brag on your own fucking gaming blog about your new sweet-ass gaming rig then where the hell can you brag about it.

Target Australia, under pressure from activist groups, banned the sale of GTA V to very little moaning from the broader internet gaming community. It seems that if the government wants to censor games then that is bad, but if a private company bows to censorship then that is fine and it’s just capitalism, man. Cause you know, freedom of choice and everything. At least you think that way if you have a brain about the size of a fucking peanut. Good on you once again, Damion Schubert. Really, since discovering his blog it’s been a endless parade of fail-hit after fail-hit. One to keep the juices of any bastard flowing.

But the part of his post that best sums up people’s miserable understanding of how the world actually works is in the comments section. Halfeatenmoon says:

“… I went to a Target (Australia) shop the other day. Within a few minutes’ walk there were two other shops I could buy GTA V from, if I wanted to. I’m not all that worried about my freedom …”

Their mistake is assuming that the activists involved will be satisfied with hitting Target. Rule number numero uno with activists and do-gooders in general – they are never satisfied, they are only emboldened.

But this is the great apathy trait that covers most of society in a globulous hardened mold. “As long as I’m not being specifically bothered, then I don’t really give a shit.” Which is the way it’s always gone throughout history. The most famous quote in this aspect is the one by Martin Niemöller:

“… In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up …”

And this apathetic worldview is the reason why the vast majority of gamers and gaming bloggers don’t care about Gamergate. But it’s also the reason why the movement is so important. The Hard Left have always counted on society’s apathy to take over institutions, but this is the first time that there has been a committed push back. Sure GamerGate is about corruption in journalism, but at its underlying core it is about drawing a line in the sand and not bowing to the activists or their methods of attack.

If they ban it from one store, then you don’t care cause there’s another down the road.
And if they ban it from that store, then there’s one around the corner.
And if they ban it from all the stores then you’ll just download it from the internet.
And if they ban it from the internet well … you’re now a criminal for playing a game.
And laws are enforced by people carrying guns.

I’m still in ArcheAge and enjoying it, but goddam this game has been having some problems lately. With exploits galore, bots rampant, gold sellers going nuts, (and by the way, it now seems that mail sent by gold sellers in game can’t be deleted for some reason – the only option is just to send it back. Which is fucking bizarre), and players deserting the game and going back to WoW.

I have no intention of going back to WoW as I have seen the sandbox light. If ArcheAge goes under I still have some tasty sandbox morsels on the horizon such as Camelot Unchained. But the thing that really makes me scratch my head with puzzlement over the ArcheAge debacle is what is going on at Trion.

Let me explain a little something to you. In my working experience which has covered a wide variety of fields all over the world I can confidently put anyone I have worked with into two broad categories. Those who take pride in their work, no matter what it is, and those that do not. The ones who take pride in whatever it is they’re doing tend to be vastly outnumbered. And taking pride isn’t just trying to do the best you can. It’s also about not taking advantage of people or situations for the wrong reasons. It means you possess ethics.

If I were working at Trion in some management position of importance to this game, I wouldn’t be able to take any pride in my work at the moment. There are just too many stuff-ups, and too much belated response. Which leads me to believe that nobody who matters at Trion actually gives a shit about ArcheAge which means they don’t take pride in their work. And if this is true then the game really is doomed. They might be able to plaster over some holes but fundamentally it will stay the same. You can’t fake taking pride anymore than you can fake sincerity. After all, they are one and the same thing.

In the meantime I’ll keep playing away, watching the price of land fall further and further, (you can pick up an 8X8 pretty easily for 50 gold right now), and getting myself to the level cap. And I’ll keep hoping that someone at Trion will step up and start taking some fucking pride in their work.

I love games. I have played them in some form or another all my life. I count myself fortunate to have seen my hobby expand and develop in new and exciting directions. And I value it enough to want to defend it when its very existence is threatened. In Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’, the character of Ellsworth Toohey is the main villain of the piece. It’s startling how prescient Rand was. Toohey’s tactics of infiltrating and tearing down of an institution by the gradual erosion of its standards is the tactic du jour for the left and their long march through our cultural institutions. They have contaminated and torn down universities and schools, social groups and networks, (such as the CWA in Australia), the media, journalism, art, film and books. Their destruction of the science fiction genre is an illustrative case in point. The Nebula and Hugo awards today mean nothing, a heady fall from grace in a mere 25 years which began in 1988. I was seventeen that year and I have watched the dissolution of a genre I loved with helpless despair.

And now they want our games. And they are using the same tactics as before. A concession here, a seemingly small change there. A gradual building up done with infinite patience over a long period of time. But the key to their assault has always been patience, and that is where they fell down with GamerGate. The ease with which they have won in so many fields of battle made them overconfident and weak. And they played their hand too quickly. And they reacted far too quickly when the general gaming population stirred.

“Depression Quest” was not a game. That was the point. Their tactic has always been to create poor hollow parodies of the art they hate and cannot replicate for lack of talent. The trick has been to get their versions accepted as the norm. Death by a thousand cuts. Controlling the media is the key to winning this in the gaming industry. Controlling the Nebula and Hugo awards was key to overcoming the science fiction genre, amongst other things.

GamerGate is about the gaming media, of course, but one must not confuse the issue and equate that the gaming media is GamerGate, because it is not. Gamergate is a reaction to the attempted subversion of the gaming industry to the left’s long march through all of our cultural institutions. It is the ultimate defense to their attack and it is vitally important to anyone who values games. To put it simply, if enough people do not stand and recognise this then we will not have a gaming hobby in the years to come. We will only have the games that they tell us we can have.

On the one hand I rejoice in the fact that Gamergate has come about. On the other hand I lament the deafening silence from the general gaming blogging community. They cannot or will not see the danger at the door. The wolf lying in their bed in grandmother’s clothing. Anita Sarkeesian is one of these wolves. She is the Ellsworth Toohey of the gaming industry, but without the smarts or the cruel ability. And she has just been publicly eviscerated. Will it wake up my fellow bloggers and gamers? Probably not, but one would be a start.

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