I have no preamble today; the links start now! A solution to unwanted gifts? Over at Dubious Quality, Bill Harris has highlighted an absolutely awesome patent: A new patent from Amazon gives potential gift recipients the ability to set gifts from certain people to auto-screen or auto-return. That way, when Grandma sends you the latest sweater — it never ships — saving you and Amazon much grief. Video games are not reality Human stupidity is infinite, but this is still something special: A 23-year-old Clemson, South Carolina man darted into traffic on Highway 123 at approximately 9 p.m. on Monday [... read the rest ...]

Of connectivity, mysteries, and a ruined Christmas

Ah, Christmas Eve…. I can still remember how utterly excited I was as a child, barely able to sleep with the knowledge that Santa’s arrival was imminent.  My parents had to booby trap the family room to try to prevent me and my siblings from getting into our presents early, but we still found a way to bypass the bell bedecked doors in the dead of night and catch a glimpse of the unwrapped goodies that Santa had left us, before scampering back upstairs to tear open our stockings. Speaking of unwrapped goodies, here’s a few links (and a terrible [... read the rest ...]

The closest thing to WoW raiding

Back when I played World of Warcraft I was a casually hardcore raider.  I helped run a progression raiding guild through The Burning Crusade era, and then was a regular raider in Wrath of the Lich King until I soured out on the game and quit for good.  To be honest I’ve missed the raids, although not the time commitments and mindless farming necessary to engage in them. Last January I picked up a copy of Demon’s Souls for my PS3 and had a good time with it for a few sessions up until Final Fantasy XIII was released (and [... read the rest ...]

Avatar Creations, developer of the upcoming sci-fi MMO Perpetuum, sent me and a boatload of other bloggers a lucky few MMO bloggers a “press pass” for their new game: Hi, Andrew! We at Avatar Creations have found our way over to Systemic Babble. In recognition of your readership, we would like to invite you to check out our recently launched science fiction sandbox MMO, Perpetuum. We’re letting a few select members of the MMO community have free early access memberships, and we would like to offer you the chance to come and check out the game with the first of [... read the rest ...]

I’ve had a bad case of the MMO doldrums for about a year now.  After quitting World of Warcraft last May, I spent a few furtive months searching for a new digital playground. Along the way I made stops in EVE Online, Draconia Online, Ryzom, Chronicles of Spellborn, Free Realms, Fallen Earth, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Runes of Magic.  I spent various lengths of time with all of the games, but none lasted more than a couple of months. After three and a half years of gaming dominated by World of Warcraft, I rediscovered my love for single players [... read the rest ...]

FF XIV toys with my heart

Ever since the first details about Final Fantasy XIV started emerging I have been interested in the title.  I say “interested” instead of “exuberantly excited” because as far as I know Square-Enix hasn’t backed off their brain dead plan to make the title a subscription-based service.  Still, I hold out hope that the PlayStation 3 version will be free from mandatory shackles given the recent high profile successes by some microtransaction-based games.  If it is, then FF XIV could very well be the first MMO that I have played in over a year. An article on Game by Night this [... read the rest ...]

Waiting on Otherland

One of my favorite series of novels is Tad Williams‘ four part science fiction masterpiece, Otherland.  The books are set in the near future with the advent of fully immersive virtual reality has been achieved, and the tech has become cheap enough that even the middle class can get online and experience virtual worlds as if they were a physical reality. This technological innovation has changed how everything from commerce to video gaming are consumed, however, as the protagonists in the novel discover, there is a darker side to The Net.  It’s a gripping series, and well worth reading if [... read the rest ...]

Blizzard’s new RealID forum policy has been dominating gaming blogs for the past few days and a number of people have asked me for my thoughts on the issue.  I’ll keep it brief. Given that: Blizzard is within their rights to demand people use their real names on any of their web sites or in any of their games. There are real non-trivial privacy concerns associated with Blizzard’s RealID policy. MMO players threaten to quit games at the drop of the hat (i.e. you nerfed my uberskill); Blizzard is used to this, and doesn’t take gamer threats seriously. It follows [... read the rest ...]

Wolfshead has an article up today explaining why he believes that game developers’ recent emphasis on “fun” is destroying the MMO genre.  Instead, he recommends a return to the good old days when multiplayer online roleplaying games focused on “adventure”.  “Mature adults”, Wolfshead asserts, want their entertainment to be adventure-based, not fun-based.   (Quoted terms are all his; your mileage may vary based on how you interpret “fun”, “adventure”, and “mature adult”.) While I agree in principle that modern MMOs are too focused on instant gratification and are heavily skewed towards fun (and thus away from adventure), I believe that the [... read the rest ...]

Players can learn

Eric Heimburg, one of the premier MMO game design commentators and a blogger that I have a great deal of respect for, misses the mark by a wide margin in his latest effort. In Deathtrap Design and the Invisible Gorilla Eric discusses the human ability to tune out irrelevant information when performing observational tasks, no matter how blatant that information might be.  This was famously demonstrated in the “Invisible Gorilla” experiment; humans have evolved exquisite environmental filters that allow us to focus on important details without necessarily being cognizant of the entirety of our surroundings – it’s how we stay [... read the rest ...]

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