Monday, January 31, 2011

I am not a coward, but I know who is

I got into an argument with Pogue the other night about what a coward is. He kept calling the guys on the other team cowards because they hid inside doorways and kept picking him off when he ran through. He got fed up and "pulled a Pogue". Which means me quit the match and expected this team mates to back out and pick him up again.

We've done that several times for various friends but when your team backs out to pick you up again don't sit there and say you need five minutes because you went off and decided to do something else for awhile. I'm not going to sit there and wait for you every again.

Which got me thinking. Who's the real coward here? The guys on the other team didn't run from the fight with their tail between their legs because it wasn't going like they wanted to. If the other team is camping out a room here's a tip: THROW GRENADES IN THERE. Make the team run around trying to stay alive before you run in there and expect to wipe them all out with just your killer smile. Throw gas, smoke, flash or grenades and see if they're still sitting in the same spot when you go it. Or better yet. DON'T KEEP GOING IN THE ROOM!

Yes, I hate campers too, but the only one I saw being a coward was Pogue. He was the one who quit the match. He was the one who ran from the fight. He was the one who couldn't take it like a man. I can. I usually stay around when I'm getting slaughtered. I'm use to it. I guess that makes me more of a man than Pogue.

I will admit to "pulling a Pogue" two or three times over the entire release of Black Ops. Pogue, on the other hand, will do it two or three times a night. When I do it's more what's going on with me personally than with what's going on in the game. I could have had a terrible day, my eyes could be tired and getting killed over and over again it just too much for me to take.

If I get slaughtered I shrug it off as part of the game. We've had good nights where we've creamed the opposing sides in all matches and nights where we can't get anything going. I don't expect to be king of the world every night....or every match either. I take what comes and roll with it. Unfortunately there are some players who have to be the top scorer in a match, get the most kills, have a positive kill/death ratio, or be on the winning team every time or they won't finish the match. Who cares! It's just a game.

I remember when my friends didn't take those statistics seriously. Partly because I think in some games those numbers where known. Now that kill/death ratios, win/loss rations, number of kills and the number of assists are recorded and available for anyone in the match to see they seem to think those numbers are more important than playing a good game with friends and having fun like the old days. I miss those days.

I don't mind backing out of a room when things keep going bad and trying to find a new one. But I don't want to have to do that after every match. And I don't want to have to wait around while cowards in my party decide to go redecorate their living rooms, clean their bathrooms, or just flip over to watch something on TV while they make us wait on them. After all, they were the cowardly ones that left the match in the first place. They should wait to get back in until the rest of us decide we want to back out. If I'm hosting the room they will. Be warned: I am not a coward, but I know who is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grinding away

There is one key to success in RPG type games. I know. I play a lot of them. It's grinding. If you play RPG games you'll agree with me.

Grinding is where you run around in one area just to start battles and gain experience points, items, or leveling up your characters abilities. The stronger the character the easier the battles. At some point in the story you'll sometimes find yourself in an area where the enemies are much stronger than you so grinding becomes required to get through some areas of games.

The experienced RPG player knows this so they start grinding early. There's nothing like battling low level opponents early on in the game to get your character levels higher than where they should be right off the bat. If you go to a new area with level 10 enemies are you've already gotten your characters up to a level 15 it makes things so much easier.

Unfortunately the downside to grinding is that battles can get very tedious and monotonous. It becomes the same things over and over again. And pretty soon those few experience points you get out of every battle aren't going to do much to get your character to the next level.

The RPG that I've been playing recently is Blue Dragon. I love this game . . . or at least as far as I previously got in the game. But I didn't love it at first. I found the battles tough and costly for the first couple of areas. That was because I wasn't grinding. Once I decided to grind away a couple of level increases the battles got much easier and that was when I started to get into the story . . . and when my stuff got robbed.

I've been looking for something to play by myself since a lot of my friends have gone missing on Xbox Live (or at least sporadically missing). I've tried Mass Effect but my system seems to have problems with that game by freezing up and doing weird things. So I pulled out Blue Dragon again (only because of an alphabetical order of my games).

Because I know how the game plays and what I need to do I've been able to level up almost twice as high as where I was at before. I've learned several more Dragon skills than I knew before and the large amount of gold I've collected from those battles has let me equip my characters to the max for what is available this early in the game. I've played for about 5 and 1/2 hours and I bet 2 1/2 to 3 hours of that has been grinding. And it's starting to wear on me.

I love the game but there's just so many times you can battle cute little butterflies and jumping crickets before you say "enough is enough". I want to move on with the story. I want to know what happens next. When grinding gets too tedious and I get bored that seems to be when I put the game aside and play something else. But if I want to progress the story why do I put the game aside?

Because I'm usually grinding in a place that's as far away from where I need to go as I can possible get. In order to progress the story I've got to traverse a lot of ground which means getting into a lot of battles; which means boredom. I got so fed up with trying to get back to the story line in Lost Odyssey that I picked "flee" from the command options every time, even if I knew I could beat the enemy rather easily. It just wasn't worth the effort for me.

You can't grind in shooters, racers or platform games. RPGs seem to have an exclusive market on that particular gaming ritual. RPGs are also my first love of video games (platformers a close second, followed by hack-n-slash type games, but more on that in another post). Because I love RPGs I do send a lot of time grinding. Now Blue Dragon is a 3-disk game so I don't think it will be a game I finish this year (considering my gaming habits), but I hope to get farther a long in the game than where I was before. And for right now that means I still have a ways to go in the game to get there. Maybe things will go easier now that I've been grinding more at the beginning. Or maybe I'll pull out another game and start playing.

Sometimes you grind for fun. Sometimes the grinding grinds you down to nothing. Only time (and more grinding) will tell.