Last week Gunslinger Emeritus and all around great guy Tim Simons sat down with The Indoor Kids podcast on the Nerdist Network to discuss his role as POTUS lackey Jonah on the Emmy award winning show VEEP, and more importantly to those reading this blog, his gaming habits.
It is an interesting listen throughout, and Tim mentions his time with the Gunslingers at 21:00 and then again at 28:00. I was lucky enough to get a shout out at 29.05, and now the world knows that I find much humor in a good beat-off joke. So beware, some of the talk is a bit NSFW.
Keep up the good work, Tim. And remember, if you ever get a hankering for some Call of Duty, you know where to find us.
I’ve been enjoying Halo 4 since its release last week. The multiplayer feels especially snappy, and I credit 343i for a job well done.
When I say it feels snappy, I mean that the movement in the game seems quick and not sluggish. The perceived movement speed is tinkered with for each Halo game, and certain games employ faster mechanics than others.
I had assumed the major components in the perception of a Halo game’s speed are:
We are Sunburned Goose, TTL Cozmo, TTL Cute, and TTL Faithkeeper, and this is our story.
The night begins with a Stary Sobor loot run. Cute, Cozmo and I were turning over loot in the tents for about half an hour until Faithkeeper, who was relatively new to the game, joined us. He casually noticed that there was a ‘new’ red car among the destroyed vehicles that we had been passing by all this time. We stopped looting the tents and started looking for parts to get the car back into driveable shape. It needed 2 or 3 wheels, a fuel tank and engine parts. That’s me in the passenger window lookin’ creepy.
We had been searching across the area looking for industrials to loot for parts. Cozmo went to Novy and Gorka while Cute, Faithkeeper, and I kept turning over Stary. Suddenly, we heard a distinct sound growing lounder, ‘wup wup wup wup…’
Feeling the heat from the chopper crew, we get the car running and get out of the Stary hotspot. We travel north to the Factory to finish fixing the car and add some spares into the trunk. We turned over the factory for the better of an hour and then decided to move on to Berezino to see if there is any action over there. Knowing that there were other players on the server, we broke up to two squads, with myself and Cute scouting out Berezino for engine parts and players, and Cozmo and Faithkeeper remaining behind to keep turning over loot. On the way out to Berezino, Cute found an ATV and brought it back to the Factory. This was turning out to be a great night for finding vehicles. Now, we began the long walk to Berezino again.
Just as Cute and I make it into Berezino, Cozmo calls out the heli again. Unlike last time, the heli crew began to circle around and hover over the factory. The bright red car parked out in the open may have been too much to pass up. Cute and I jump right to our maps to set waypoints. They were 3k’s away from the Factory. There’s no time to run around Berezino safely. We would have to just run straight through, as the crow flies. We agro’ed zeds left and right, building up quite a train. Once through the city, we lost our zeds in the bushes, and sprinted across an open field all the while hoping the chopper crew wouldn’t see us out in the open.
Cozmo and Faithkeeper gave a stream of information just like that scene in Taken before the daughter is kidnapped. We knew that there were two on the ground with the chopper hovering over. We heard the first firefight where Cozmo was killed. His Bizon wasn’t a match for an AKM. Faithkeeper came back from AFK to find out they were in a firefight, and he took down one of the players who killed Cozmo. Ultimately, Faithkeeper was shot dead by the second player to approach the Factory.
By now, Cute and I were just approaching the hills overlooking the Factory. There were two peaks to setup overwatch, one directly before the gates with a great view looking into the Factory, and a second off to the left which had a view of the side and behind the Factory. We split up with Cute taking the hill looking directly into the Factory since he has a ghille and a M24, and I took the far hill as I only had Camo and a Barrett M107. Once in position, we watch.
The Heli has landed in a field to the west, and Cute calls out the player that shot Faithkeeper as he is looting our vehicles. Once he stopped near our car, Cute takes the shot and puts a round into his chin. ”FernandoM was killed.”
This spooks the heli and it lifts off immediately and begins to circle around. Cute and I hide under conifers waiting to see if they’d land to try and reclaim their fallen friends weapons and gear, or avenge their deaths. For 10 minutes, they circle the factory, often in short loops, but sometimes they go wide hoping that we would come out of cover sensing they may have left the area. We sit tight and the heli would come back looking for us. It is intimidating to know that above you is a M240 pointed down towards you. Ultimately, they put the bird down in the field on the backside factory. As the players had hoped, Cute couldn’t see the heli land as the Factory obstructed his view, but I had an angle from my hill and called out two players on foot. One went west to a tree lined ridge, and the other stayed behind near the heli under cover.
Cute and I waited another five minutes watching for them, discussing our strategy. I suggested running around the backside and snatching their Heli from under their noses, but it is decided to sit tight, and take them out first.
While scanning the likely routes, I saw movement along the ridge. I zeroed in my sight, took a breath, and pulled the trigger. My shot kicks up dirt just before the sniper! Damn it! I raised my gun up, quickly pulling a shot off just as the sniper gets up, and the round connected . The M107 is a one shot gun and “Vanilla Lightning was killed”.
I turned my sights back to the heli and saw that it was spinning up. The second player trying to make a quick getaway with the chopper instead of sticking around. Taking Cozmo’s earlier advice, I started pouring round after round of .50 Caliber Anti-Material into the heli, trying to bring it down. Cozmo says, “Just shoot the pilot out of the window!” I aimed my gun true, pulled the trigger, and out fell from the floating heli Chocolate Thunder, lifeless, and our new chopper landed a couple meters away.
Confident that the assaulting team was taken out, Cute and I took it slow and easy, checking out the area as we moved forward. The dead were looted, along with the heli, and I came away with a silenced M9 pistol, a ghille, night vision goggles, and an range finder. Cozmo ran back from the coast and reclaimed his loot.
Faithkeeper’s body is in the background, and his victim, Milky, is in front.
FernandoM, who caught a M24 round to the chin, and a glitched ghillied body in the back.
Vanilla Lightning, the sniper in the woods. Not pictured, is Chocolate Thunder, the pilot.
After a quick check of its airworthiness after passing 8 rounds of .50 cal. through it, Cozmo, Cute, and I fixed up TTL’s new chopper, filled its gas tank, and took it for a spin. The heli takes 1000 liters of fuel, or 50 jerry cans, or an hour of your life to top it off from empty.
I was very proud of our team of Gunslingers that night. We worked together, fought our attackers, and won the night in spite of the attackers advantage. Even though some of our team fell under gunfire, we left the evening with much more than we started, and that is the best you can expect from DayZ.
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This is one of the most interesting stories going on in gaming. A Mod of a relatively unknown Military simulator, DayZ takes the tools provided by Bohemia Interactive Studios and creates a gigantic Soviet landscaped torn apart by a infectious zombie outbreak. Arma II was meant to depict realistic combat scenarios between large groups of players, but with some creative changes the maker known as “Rocket” created a sandbox where there is no ultimate objective and the players decide how to play the game. Similar to Minecraft you simply wash up on shore in a strange world with no directions and are left to fend for yourself. You have 1 pack with a bandage, a flashlight, and some painkillers.
I said there is no ultimate objective but there is an immediate challenge… survive. The towns are full of zombie hordes that will rip you to pieces. You can avoid the towns but eventually you will need food and water and must risk the threat of the living dead to scavenge for supplies. The real danger is not zombies or hunger/thirst it’s the other players. Everywhere there are other survivors around you competing for the scarce supplies. Do you try to work with them to help fight off the zombies? You could form a rewarding friendship, or you could end up with a bullet in the back of your head when they decide they want that nice backpack you found. You never know who you can trust and who will slit your throat for a can of beans. You would think it would be in everyone’s best interest to work together, but in the back of your mind you know that if you put your trust in this stranger they could kill you when your guard is down. The entire game really fits the theory of the Prisoner’s Dilemma quite well.
I could write an entire book describing the world of DayZ, but it really is something you have to experience for yourself. The player interactions that it has created are very unique and I have not witnessed anything quite like it in other games. When your character dies you start over at the coast and all of your hard earned gear stays on your corpse free to be looted by your killer or anyone else that wonders by. Because of this you develop a healthy fear of death and everything becomes a calculation of risk/reward. You may need to go to the hospital to get medical supplies, but there are only a few hospitals meaning many other players will also be there. I started this game playing mostly alone, but found it very difficult and began urging people to get the game and back me up. The game itself is fun just trying to stay alive out on your own crawling in the pitch black of night terrified of the sounds of zombies all around you. As with most games though, once you get a squad of your buddies together is when this game really starts to shine. Tied The Leader has never had a big PC following but this game was really unique so a few of us tried it out and then immediately started sharing our stories and encouraging others to give it a shot.
It gets really dark at night. Luckily we found these nice glow sticks.
We started out just trying to survive and gather gear, but soon we had ourselves a respectable arsenal and began to get bored of killing the zombies inland and avoiding the coast where the majority of the other players were. We found a truck fully loaded with tons of gear and thought we would take it north and hide it in the woods. On the way there we hit a bump and the truck exploded killing all of us. It was a tragedy but still had us all laughing. Now that we had lost all of our gear we felt more free to interact with other players in the major cities and this is where the adventures got even more crazy.
Even in a post apocalyptic zombie world you are likely to die in a common car accident.
The shear chaos that transpires during the game is astounding. The only thing you can control about the way your player looks is their face, unless you find some other clothes in the game which is very rare. This creates tension as it’s hard to keep track of who is friendly. Because of this I watched a guy walk through the woods right at me thinking it was another Gunslinger and he promptly shot me in the head. He was instantly killed by TTL Cute, but I had a long 8 km run to get back to where they were to pick up my stuff. Friendly fire doesn’t just occur when you are confused about who is who. It’s often easy to accidentally shoot a friend when trying to pick off the zombies chasing him. TTL Pony found this out when he tried to help out Sunburned Goose, promptly killing him with a poorly placed Lee Enfield shot.
RIP Sunburned Goose
The 3 major cities are where the real action is. As I said earlier they hold the only hospitals as well as a ton of other supplies. We found ourselves in Elecktro and TTL Pony and I were heading to the fire station. For some reason military loot like guns and ammo spawn there so it’s a hot spot and very dangerous. TTL Cute sets up an overwatch position up on the hill in the woods with his sniper and we go inside the fire station. I am going up in the tower when I hear Cute say “There is someone on the roof!”. This immediately elevates my heartbeat and I freeze. He takes two shots and then I see blood pouring down from the roof and he confirms the kill.
Pony looting the body of a player Cute just sniped from 500 meters.
Pony goes up to loot the body and I move down the street to a church. I find a few dead bodies laying around and then Pony spots another guy going into the fire station while he is stuck on the roof. I move silently back down that way and post up looking at the back door. Pony hears him digging around inside and finally he runs out the back door and I open fire with my M16A2. He runs back and forward a few times having no idea where the shots are coming from and darts back inside. He then runs out the other door and Pony takes some shots and he falls over dead. At this point Pony spots another player running in from the other direction and starts shooting at him. At this point Cute and I hear an engine approaching and a lot of honking. I have no idea what is going on and am trying to worry about the other player as well as the mystery machine behind me. Cute spots a tractor driving into the city which runs straight into a wall and explodes.
I hope he was wearing his seat belt.
At this point Pony has shot and killed the last player approaching us and I have moved further into the city. I am up in a residential apartment when a player runs up the stairs right at me. I instinctively fire but he yells friendly and does not have a weapon. I tell him to hold still and bandage him up and give him a blood bag which basically allows you to bring another player to full health. I decide he does not seem like a threat and tell him to follow me and I will show him where he can get a lot of tools and supplies off some guys we had killed. As we are leaving I spot the tractor wreckage and we go over to check the body. My new comrade tells me he is still alive. I am shocked because the crash happened about 15 minutes ago, but I bandage him up and then drag his unconscious body all the way back to the fire station where Pony is.
Don’t you die on me!
After I got him back to the fire station it took another 10 minutes for him to finally wake up. “Thank you, you are my savior!” was the first thing he said through direct chat when he came to. I showed him and the other guy where the gear was and they decided to stick together and our groups went our separate ways. As you can see all player interactions are not violent. Sometimes you can help people if you choose. All the guys we killed were armed with machine guns so it would have been very risky to not take them out before they had a chance to do the same. Even the guy I healed had a rifle so I kept a close eye on him. Just because you save someone does not mean they won’t kill you as soon as giving an opportunity. I have a video of us all sniping a guy that had moved into a military camp up north we had just finished looting. He saw our chemlights on the ground but ignored them and went in anyway. a mistake that cost him his life.
He had the biggest backpack as well as an AS50 the rarest sniper rifle in the game. Sometimes you feel bad for killing other players, but up north at places like Stary Sober in the video it’s kill or be killed. On the coast you can sometimes find new players and help them out, but if someone is looting military bases or airfields inland than they won’t hesitate to kill you.
If anyone is interested in trying this out and wants to play with us you are welcome. You need a pretty decent computer with a good video card to run it. We can help you tweak your settings for the best performance. The mod is free but you will have to buy Arma II as well as Arma II Operation Arrowhead to run the mod. There is a package deal on steam called Combined Operations. If you do get the game let us know and we will help you out. There is a pretty steep learning curve and if you start out on your own you will die a lot until you get the hang of it. We can provide food, we can provide shelter, we can provide security.
Halo 4 is just over four months away, and of course people are clamoring for any and all details about 343i’s return to the original Halo storyline. This weekend down in Austin, Texas Halo 4 is being showcased at the Rooster Teeth Expo. One thing the developer showed off to the audience was the new Forge. They were quick to emphasize that this was not a final build of Forge and that many things had been and would continue to be updated and improved. But the build they showed was quite functional and polished, and showed some very promising aspects.
I was thrilled to discover that Certain Affinity was integral in the development of the Forge for Halo 4. Not only do they of course have deep ties to the Halo franchise itself, but they have been making great multiplayer environments for both the Halo (H3, Reach, H:CEA) and CoD (World at War, Black Ops) franchises for most of the last decade. These guys know how to build maps that are not only balanced and competitive, but also have great atmosphere and detail.
News that will obviously be met with some enthusiasm. As amazing as Forge World was, there were limitations in terms of map visuals. I would suspect we will get a variety of geography and climate when all is finally revealed. There was no word on whether or not each environment would have it’s own specific objects or object sets, or whether it was possible to alter the appearance of the forge pieces to make them more suitable to each environment.
A number of fixes to infuriating Forge problems of the past, including the ability to “lock” or “magnetize” objects as well as more detail with the reticule that allows you to tell which Forge piece you are currently highlighting.
No more spending an hour trying to nudge one block up against another just right, or spending a night building bridge supports to hold up that sky bridge. Less time doing tedious grunt work means more time for Forgemasters to be creative. Sounds good to me. It will also be nice to know that I will be less likely to pull the keystone out of my wall while trying to pick up a Mongoose this time around.
Dynamic lighting, as well as an emphasis on Forge object details
These may seem more artistic than functional and they are, but they are what separates a good map from a great map. No more ultra-bright metal surfaces in the middle of a dark cave. No more vampire objects that don’t cast a shadow. An emphasis on detail for the objects is no surprise, given that Halo 4 figures to be by far the most graphically impressive of the series.
Player Trait Zones
You can introduce different player traits into specific zones within your map, much the way you would set up a spawn zone in previous Forges. This allows you to alter such things as gravity, player speed, jump height, damage resistance, etc. Such modifications would allow Forgemasters to construct a map like the outstanding “Anchor 9″ in Reach for example, where a portion of the map is zero gravity. This is a tool that could really push the boundaries of map creation into some very interesting places. Warthogs In Space?
This is just the beginning, both for Forge and for Halo 4. We will no doubt be buried under a mountain of information between now and November 6th. I’ll go ahead and put the over/under on Lockout remakes at 1,038,222. And take the over. Place your bets?
I’m sure you’ve all seen the Halo 4 “First Look” trailer that 343 Industries released in the Halo 4 media explosion from early last week. If not, take a few moments and watch it now.
In case you’re wondering, yes I did go through that video frame by frame looking to piece together every hidden clue and subtle hint in that trailer.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to make an analysis video like I did two years ago for Halo: Reach. Plus, it wouldn’t be the same. I made those two videos just 24 hours after the trailers were released by Bungie and this new Halo 4 video has already been dissected pretty thoroughly by the community.
I just wanted to discuss one main theme that caught my eye:
Player customization seems to be the future of Halo.
Since the Title Update for Halo: Reach’s multiplayer went live in the fall, there have been many discussions on the changes it implemented. The Title Update most notably impacted the mechanics of the DMR and the Needle Rifle, specifically their “bloom.” The question is, does 85% bloom encourage or discourage “trigger spamming” compared to default Reach settings?
Anyone who has played Halo: Reach has experienced weapon bloom. Bloom describes the change in a weapon’s ability to fire accurately as the player adjusts the rate of fire. Firing many shots in quick succession will cause the aiming reticule to expand, indicating more randomness in the accuracy of each shot. To guarantee maximum accuracy, a player should wait until the reticule shrinks back to normal size before firing the next shot. This mechanic was designed by Bungie as a trade-off of pace and accuracy in an effort to balance the DMR in the overall sandbox.
While many Halo fans have recently taken a trip down memory lane thanks to Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, those who are simply looking to augment their Reach experience with some old friends rather than partake in the single-player campaign have another option. The Halo: Reach Anniversary Map Pack.