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Spot the n00b, over there mashing the keyboard - Tactical Ninja

Dec. 8th, 2011

10:01 am - Spot the n00b, over there mashing the keyboard

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I think I must be the slowest progressor of Bioshock ever. I didn't play at all over the weekend, and since I have this analysis work on I am only really playing for half an hour in the mornings. Thus, I haven't even got to the first boss yet. I'm getting fairly close but at this rate the game will last me at least until next year. It's.. economical to play like this but not very satisfying for the part of me that likes to make actual progress.

I'm doing that 'explore every nook' thing as well, since this game seems to be full of little bits and bobs hidden in corners and behind things. I may get annoyed with this at some point but right now I'm all "Hey, $2 and a packet of chips! Awesome!" And Hacking All The Things! Because I can't hack for shit in real life so in a game where I get to be SuperHacker2000 just by solving puzzles? I'm in.


I got sent a beta key for this game based on my occasional rantings here about various games from a feminist perspective. It took a while for me to get to playing it, but eventually I did.

I'll say up front that I've never played games in beta before and I'm not sure what to expect in terms of service/instruction/tutorial. Maybe it was my noobness that caused it, but I found being dropped into a gameworld with no intro, no explanation and no tutorial disconcerting to say the least. You start on a beach and the first thing that happens is you get attacked by Things. You bash them with your fists and then steal their stick and bash more of them with that. You wander around bashing and stealing and picking up stuff until you find your way somewhere else, rinse repeat.

I struggled to engage with this game. I didn't know why I was where I was or really where I was supposed to be going. There were some goals, but the work it took to get to them made them seem far enough beyond my reach as to be not really worth pursuing. I will say that there were others in chat (it's an online multiplayer RPG) that were much further ahead in the game than me and that they seemed to have a much better handle on what they were doing and why they were doing it - there seemed to be rivalry and discussion of how to tackle various bosses and find rare items and whatnot. But I couldn't work out how to join chat so couldn't participate.

And herein lies the rub. I'm a noob to this game, but not a noob to gaming*. And I'm a bit confused here as to whether I should be blaming myself or the game for this. I rolled a ranged character (Witch) so I had spells that I could use to shoot various types of nastiness at the mobs - but I couldn't work out how to use them. There was no tutorial to demo the various key combos for shooting (I could bash no worries but witches are squishy so melee fighting leads mostly to death), and it wasn't intuitive. I did eventually figure it out through keyboard mashing but really, that put me off the game quite a bit. Dying constantly because you can't use your good weapons is not fun. Feeling like an idiot because you can't use your good weapons is also not fun. Knowing that these other people have all figured it out but not even being able to out yourself as a noob and risk derision by asking because you can't figure out how to use the chat function? Also not fun.

The thing is, all of this information may have been available somewhere on the site. There may have been a page to show noobs how to play, but I couldn't find that either. Now, I'm not stupid. Nor am I new to gaming or to RPGs. Ranged is usually my first choice to play so it's not as if I'm unfamiliar with the various options for ranged fighting. But I could not get a handle on how to play this game. And this is where I wonder if it's because it was in beta - if the things I take for granted when I start a new game for the first time** are not there because it's a beta version and they haven't been added yet. Maybe folks who play beta all the time are used to figuring this stuff out for themselves, and there's some kind of arcane technique that experienced beta players use to figure this stuff out - or maybe there's a standard set of keys that I'm not familiar with for these things.

Anyway, I will go back and give it another go because I can't let it beat me.

In terms of gameplay, it's a godview RPG with a similar feel to Baldur's Gate, only if you crossed it with Mad Max and set it in what looks like a post-apocalyptic world. I did not get to the group-forming stage but this is possible, only unlike Baldur's Gate you're teaming with real people. You have a reasonably wide selection of character types to choose from, all of which are customisable in terms of attributes (not looks though). There are some cool features, like your backpack is a sort of puzzle where you can fit more in if you Tetris the shapes of the items together well. The fighting balance-for-level is challenging but achievable, so seems about right. I found it difficult to see some of it and had to adjust the brightness to make it playable, and I found the fixed aspect annoying in this game (possibly because I'm much more accustomed to free looking). I didn't have any feminist hackle-raising while I played it, although I did eyeroll a bit at the way the 2 (out of five possible) female character types are sterotypically the witch and the ranger (ranged squishies), whereas the strong melee fighters are all male. I may have more to say about the feminist perspective after I've played it a bit more.

Anyway, if you enjoy games like WoW and Baldur's Gate it might be worth giving this game a go. It's free, it's NZ made, and it's absorbing enough to have developed some dedicated followers during development, as evidenced by the busy forums on the site. I still don't know whether it's for me, but it certainly doesn't suck. Take a look, judge for yourself.

* I have spent enough time PC gaming that when I watch a crappy YouTube video and the subject goes out of shot, I find myself trying to use WASD and the mouse to bring it back. *cough*

** Bioshock pops up hints whenever you encounter something new, and reminds you which key to use for specialist functions that you don't do very often. You're also given something of a rundown when the game starts. Most games I've played have a version of this.


And in Get A Life news, probably the silliest flamewar I've ever seen happened on Twitter last night. Apparently a group of childfree people objected to the use of the hashtag #childfree by some Australian parents who were talking about what they were going to do in their time without kids over the holidays. Apparently being temporarily free of their children does not make them childfree enough to be allowed to use the tag. The parents did not like being told they could not use words of their choosing, and it devlolved into one of those "I'm better than you because bullshit reason #HASHTAG!!" highly intellectual debates. What is it about having children or not having them that makes people so rabid about what other people do/say?

Tonight I'm going to a book launch for this book, which was edited by the guy I'm doing the BZP analysis work for. Apparently there will be drinks afterwards, at which I will meet boffins. I believe this may well be my first academic schmoozing thing. Yikes!

Comments:

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From:downwardlashes
Date:December 7th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
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I get REALLY MAD at people who mock families with children, or if they just mock children. I don't get REALLY MAD about a lot of stuff. I think it's because raising kids is such a huge part of my life that it practically IS my life, and then when people disparage it, it's like "Your life is worthless." And each side can't really see the other side's point - well, I suppose the parents can see the childfree viewpoint, even if they don't agree. But people with no children have probably never felt the truth behind all the old cliches, like parenting being the hardest and most fulfilling job, and all that. So they just think we're being cliche and stupid. And I also hate being thought of as stupid. A lot.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 7th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
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So it's about objection to the assumptions made about you based on your choices, by people who have no idea what it's like to be you?

Just trying to get my head around this. I have a child, most of my friends are childfree (but definitely not all of them). The issue of either choice being one worthy of judgement or assumption about the person involved has never really come up.

Certainly I'd be annoyed if someone told me I was stupid because I have a child.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:December 8th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC)
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I think a lot of tension between the two groups is a result of the "childfree" giving up the option of having children, because of sustainability reasons, and then other people thoughtlessly breeding and using up the savings of that sacrifice. Kind of like a global tragedy of the commons.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:December 8th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
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(Which certainly isn't to say anyone with children is thoughtless, but more that some people follow the expected path of life without questioning it)
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From:tatjna
Date:December 8th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
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I suspect the reasons for being childfree are as myriad as those for having children.

The sad part is when people look at their reasons as being somehow more valid than the reasons of others for whatever choice they make, and use that false validation to look down on the others and treat them badly. And from what I'm observing on Twitter, both sides seem to be guilty of that.
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From:wildilocks
Date:December 8th, 2011 10:30 am (UTC)
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Yes. This.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 9th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
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Seems to be laying the blame for the tension squarely at the feet of one group - which I find hard to believe. I can buy it as a reason why a childfree person might take a dim view of large families, but I don't think it explains the whole situation by any stretch of the imagination.
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From:Will Marshall
Date:December 7th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
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Carl is in charge of game balance for POE. Amusing facts!
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From:Will Marshall
Date:December 7th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
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(The controls would likely be obvious if you'd been a D2 or Torchlight player, as it's squarely in-genre)
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From:tatjna
Date:December 7th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
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I knew he was involved but didn't know in what aspect. ;-)
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From:morbid_curious
Date:December 8th, 2011 02:52 am (UTC)
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Oh hey, you guys know Carl. I should have guessed :-)
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From:clashfan
Date:December 8th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
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I bet ten chocolate fish that there will be white wine at tonight's boffin-meeting.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 8th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
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Is that a Thing with boffins?
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From:clashfan
Date:December 8th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
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It well and truly is. White wine at events with more than ten people. Fewer than ten might see Scotch instead/in addition.

Also, mid-range cheese on high-end water biscuits. You've been warned.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 8th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
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Cheese makes everything better.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:December 8th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
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If we ever have a fight, I'm going to buy you cheese instead of flowers. ;-p
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From:tatjna
Date:December 8th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
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If you wanted to really make an impact, you could put it on sticks and arrange it like a bouquet.

(that would totally work on me)

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From:ferrouswheel
Date:December 8th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
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Beta games are often missing tutorials and intro videos I've found. That stuff is the simple polish that people can add once the rest of the content and gameplay is solidified (since if the beta changes the dynamics and makes the tutorial wrong, then it'd mean a bunch of extra work). But they certainly should try to make the online resources more easily available.

Enjoy your boffin activities!
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From:tatjna
Date:December 8th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
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That's good to know, and makes sense. Perhaps I should send some feedback saying "Hey a 'this is how you shoot, this is how you use chat' type FAQ for noobs might be useful."
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:December 8th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
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You could make a fan site! And then you'd totally be like known amongst the players in the world.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 8th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Known as the one who couldn't figure out how to use chat!

Actually it could be worse.. ;-)
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