Logitech G11 Keyboard, tested using Age of Conan (AoC)

Really pleased to present my new toy – the G11, and it doesn’t get much better than this. The G11 is not the cheapest keyboard around, but then again it is a luxury item, designed for real gaming needs.

Quality: Primarily its a high quality computer keyboard,and, unlike its competition the  Zboard, it can be used completely for normal computing needs, like programming, blogging, etc.  The quality of the keys are above average, light and don’t need hammering, and the rubber underneath seems of a fair quality. Don’t get me wrong either, its not by any means the best keyboard quality I have experienced, but it does hold its ground.

Functionality: You might have read about the g11 having keys you can program, or assign macros to, this is really useful for playing games, especially games that are keyboard combination heavy, for example – AoC.  I was sceptical about this until I had tested the G11, it all sounded too good to be true. The manual says you can program the keys right from within the game, I have to confirm, its highly possible, so you can ensure exact and precise timings of your macros. The creation process took about 10 minutes max, and I wasn’t exactly rushing. I was amazed the first time I pressed a working combo using just 1 button and it actually worked. So I decided to give it a real test in the wild fighting some level 38 mobs (while my character is only level 35). I can’t say it made me a much better player instantly, but thats not really the point, it is way more comfortable, and really brings a whole new level of enjoyment to Age of Conan. I tested it continually for about 4 hours and I have to tell you the reliability is awesome, it re-enacts macros with pristine accuracy.

There is a little bit of skill in setting up the macros, remember certain combos require timing, but thankfully the g11 software makes it really easy to do. All you have to do is push the buttons exactly as you would while executing the combos.

Extendibility:

You get 18 keys that can be programmed in 3 differant banks (54 in total). AoC is the most demanding game keyboard wise I have played, far more demanding that WoW or Anarchy Online, I can assure you with the G11, I don’t think you’ll run out of keys. I don’t think any AoC character can even train 18 combos, even at level 80 with all feat points spent, its going to be impossible to outgrow the G11.

 Do I want a Zboard?

No, not at all, Nothing against the makers of Zboard, but I wanted something useable for real gaming, not just some concept toy like the Zboard.  I did a lot of research before buying the G11, a lot of people complained about the quality of the Zboard. The space bar has a gap in it which really is a lot to ask a seasoned gamer to get used to. The Zboard is not practical at all price wise, I cannot imagine buying a keyboard mod, for each game I own, and never mind the hassle of storing and switching those modifications around, (a) expensive (b) a royal pain in the ass. In my opinion you get way better value from the the G11.

Other functions:

The keys of the G11 amazingly glow in the dark, this might seem stupid, but its an extremely useful feature, gamers do also tend to play at night, and at times are forced to play in low lit settings. With the G11, you’ll never have to guess what button to press. You can also turn the lighting off if you want, so it doesn’t look too porno in the day time.

The usual multimedia keys are all there, volume, play, forward, rewind, mute and all that stuff.

Why I recommend it:

Age of Conan is a real hack and slash type of game, the makers of AoC have gone overboard to ensure that combat is as interactive as possible, due to the MMORPG genre becoming stagnant. Funcom refer to this combat style, as Real Combat. AoC requires a lot of manual effort, and at times, sorry to say, its a huge amount of effort to kill just one simple mob.  This “real combat” might be fun for an hour or 2, eventually you get to the point where you just want to take the keyboard gymnastics out of the grind. The G11 makes the hacking and slashing routings much more bearable, and reduces your keystrokes and need to concerntrate dramatically. After using it for a while, I found it also opens up the combat a bit, because instead of concerntrating so hard on combo execution, you’re now able (or mentally free) to move around and strafe your enemies. This means that you can begin a combo on one enemy, and should he/she die, you can move the same remainder of the same combo to the next enemy effortlessly. This is all possible with a traditional keyboard, but it would take way too much mental effort to keep this advanced co-ordination up on a regular basis.

Will Funcom ban use of the G11 keyboard?

Don’t believe this rumour for a minute, Funcom have marketed AoC to be a hardcore game (the fact that it isn’t is besides the point). Funcom imo would be flattered that their new release, Age of Conan, is the number one reason why G11 sales are looking that good. Any claim that Funcom are against G11’s or Zboards is complete garbage.

Does the G11 give you an edge in PVP?

Most of my experience I’ve mentioned here is PVE (Player vs Environment) , while its true PVE involves a considerable amount of “griding”, for pure combat, I guess the next question is how does the G11 assist you in PVP. The answer is just as you would expect. Forget battle nerves, the G11 won’t accidently get the keystrokes in the wrong order. Its best to assign a combo to each key, and not a whole long string of combos to 1 key, this way your blows won’t be predictable and avoidable. But remember you’re not the only player with a G11, lots of others have picked up on this great keyboard, and are using it everyday. Being made by Logitech means its the most readidly and popular gaming keyboard in the world.

What else can it be used for?

Its a recordable keyboard, and I am sure it can be used for other things besides games. Here are a few ideas.

  • Programming in a login and password combination seperated by a TAB (move to next input box) – could be used for Windows Passwords or WebSite passwords
  • For programming, lots of ways you can use it for programming in IDEs that have intellisense, select last word for example then . to bring up the options.
  • Binding it to programs and general computer tasks
  • Skype and MSN typing for commonly used phrases – lol, afaik, etc
  • Excellent choice for chat call centre operators who can assign frequently used replies and statements without the need for additional software
  • Used to store words for specialised jobs that require a lot of typing – for example legal secretaries or librarians.
  • Could be used to program in frequently used web site activity, like ebay shopping.
  • Used to store the names of frequently used contacts in a distributed environment (ok its a bit far fetched, but its possible)
  • If you’re a server admin you could program each key to correspond to an RDC connection – pre log you in 🙂
  • If you forget telephone numbers and need them a lot around the PC – store the numbers in the keyboard
  • etc

Sure you will agree its a great product.

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My Favorite ZX-Spectrum Games

This article is for those of you old enough to remember our good old friend the “Specky”. I thought I would compile a top games list in no particular order.

1. Saboteur 2 (without any doubt) one of the best (if not the best) games to be released on the Spectrum. Here is a vid of the famous motor bike getaway.

2. Jet Set Willy, this game was exceptionally hard, but was one of the largest games available at the times, very few people have ever finished this game.

3. Super Hang on, it was well worth waiting the 15 minutes it took to load this game. Everytime you thought maybe you would finish it, but I think it was impossible to finish

Continue reading

Far Cry 2 screams action (5/5)

Far cry 2 is a game worth picking up, I would give it a 5/5 rating.

The game runs on an engine called Dunia, meaning “world,earth,living” it was developed specifically for Far Cry 2. This engine has a real future, it performs great on modest hardware, and is really good for uses like mobile gaming, the graphics look great, and I believe the fire in Far Cry 2, was the most realistic fire ever seen in a computer game.

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This game is an action adventure, with some basic RPG elements to it (You have the ability to purchase weapons and upgrades). It is a bit like playing GTA in the jungle, but unlike GTA, you’ll find yourself playing mainly in 1st person view.

In the game you can get around on foot or by utilizing the vehicles you’ll find all over the place. There is a small selection of land vehicles, as you would expect being an African based adventure, you’ll be able to drive around Jeeps till your heart is content, there also seems to be a car that I would say closely resembles an old Datsun Pulser. Water based vehicles are a little less varied, and a bit more awkward to operate. There is also a hand glider, but I battled to locate any, and I think its more of a novelty item than a solid means of transport.

One thing I found interesting is that the “bad guys” speak Afrikaans, a language used in the Republic of South Africa. Whats also interesting is that in the game you get Black as well as White Enemies. But it seems that the accents don’t always match the color of enemy that you are shooting. You’ll get this black guy come up to you speaking Afrikaans like he was a white farmer. If you’re from South Africa this could be amusing for you.

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What I really admire about this game is its performance, even in high resolutions, and with effects turned on, this game performs great, when you compare it to the likes of Crysis. It seems like great care was taking during the modeling of  this game. The game seldom stutters, and the landscape looks amazing. The world does seem alive, not dead like in some games, for example Fallout 3, which I’ll compare because it came out around the same time as Far Cry 2.

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Now onto the things that are not so good about Far Cry 2

The check points guards always respawn
This means that traveling to and from a location means always having a fire fight in, and out of the destination. This gets really annoying, and possibly the reason why so many gamers just want to finish the game as quickly as possible, then uninstall it. Even a quick travel down the road, through a check point means every time you’ll need to open up a can of whip ass.

The weapons you can carry conflict
You can carry certain types of weapons, but weapons can only be carried in certain free slots. Primary and Secondary are the main slots for equipping weapons. This makes it impossible to equip a sniper rifle and an automatic machine gun. Instead you’re forced to equip a rather heavy weight Gatling, if you want to keep using that sniper rifle, this means the rocket launcher goes unused mostly. It would have been better if they had given you the choice of which weapons you would like to equip, I mean realistically speaking if you could carry 2 guns, surely the deciding factors should be size and weight, not class of weapon.

The malaria
Its really annoying, and just a generally bad idea, its also hard to predict exactly how long you can last without getting medication. So usually it means, as soon as that last pill runs out, stop what you’re doing and start the malaria pill quest.

Loads of repetition
You’ll end up fighting a lot of the same enemies. They’re not exactly easy either, and every encounter can be lethal, so you need your wits about you.

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Ratings

Graphics: 5/5 (Excellent)
Playability: 4/5 (Very Good)
Character Controls: 5/5 (Very Good)
Quests and Story line: 3/5 (Average)

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Fallout 3 (4/5)

Fallout 3 is a game of expectations, some people consider it exceptionally good, others see it as exceptionally bad.

I really did enjoy it, and it certainly is a memorable game. I think the game was rushed to market, and thats possibly why, the plot is not as polished as what it should be.

The Good things about Fallout 3

The Difficulty
Perhaps its just my playing style, but I really didn’t have a problem with the difficulty of the game. Enemies were not too easy, and its the type of game where you can lure enemies into traps easily.

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The playability
The game is fun to play, and its the type of game you can easily spend a few hours playing, but then want a rest from it, this is a good thing too, some games are so good they’ll keep you playing all day long.

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You don’t get stuck in the landscape
This might seem like a simple matter, but I’ve played some online games where you can get stuck in the landscape, and then need an administrator to get you out of there. I never once got stuck in the landscape, and it is a complex wasteland out there.

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Plenty of places to explore
The landscape was hand crafted, and this is possibly the reason for this games success, When you’re walking around, and you see something interesting in the distance, you genuinely want to go over there and explore it. Because there are so many side quests, the possibilities are good you’ll run into something interesting.

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You can save your game anywhere
You don’t need to walk back to save points, like in some single player games.

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The Quick travel system
Its great that you can quick travel from just anywhere, as long as you are outdoors. Games like MorrowWind also have quick travel systems, but not to every destination you visit, and you’re still required to walk to a quick travel station. In Fallout 3, all you need to do is hit tab, and select your destination on the map, this is possibly why the game takes quicker to finish than other RPGs out there, but its great someone came up with this great idea.

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The Bad things about Fallout 3

The Hacking and Lock Picking Routings
They’re way to tedious, and because each successful hack or pick gives you experience you’ll want to complete as many of these as possible, there are some tricks to know about hacking the terminals, but it can take a while to get used to it.

First Skill Allocations can be guesswork
The game starts off with you as a baby (yes I know this kind of sucks), you’ll be expected to crawl around the room and listen to a long boring dialogue with your father who calls you “Darling”.  This is the first time you’ll get asked to distribute character points. So you better know what the fuck each skill gets you from reading up about it on the Internet, because the baby book you’re given doesn’t explain jack shit.

Initial Skill Allocation

The psychology behind the G.O.A.T demonstrates lack of serious game planning.
The game clearly states that its not targeted at children or young teenagers. As an adult player the idea of taking this test called the G.O.A.T did not seem like a miserable prospect in the slightest, I wanted to get it over with to move onto the real tasks ahead, but I noticed the game forces you into choosing dialogs where your character tries to get out of taking the test. Actually you can’t even get to the test room, unless you try to fake sick. Your father asks you “So are you ready for the test”, and you answer – “Yes sure lets do this thing” – This is the wrong answer. The right answer to proceed is “No I am sick”.  I didn’t find this amusing, but then since the game is aimed at adults, the whole being a baby, then a teenager was a shit idea in the first place.

Landscape

Butch does not become an alter ego.
Butch terrorizes your girlfriend as a teenager, and beats you up on your 11th birthday, yet you never see him again once you leave the vault.

Dad

You never see your vault girlfriend again
She starts off being very important in the main story line, first as a kid, then as a teenager, but once you leave the vault, you never see her again.

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Vault 101 never opens again
Vault 101 where you come from lets you out without any fuss, but you’ll never get back in there once you leave. Its just locked locked locked.

Action Shot

You would be fucking stupid to blow up Megaton
Its an option in the game, but you would really limit yourself if you blew up this town. You would not have access to your apartment and traders if you blew it up.

The Capital Wasteland

Max level is 20
The max level is 20, but then again by the time you reach level 20 , you should have completed most of the cool stuff in the game anyways, its not like a traditional open ended RPG, fallout 3 does end, and soon.

Dog meat is too precious to utilize
Dog meat is a friendly dog, you can get to join your party, he can search for ammo and food, but the way I see it, he is too valuable to loose, so I tended to leave him at vault 101 for better days, unfortunately the game was sadly over before I could find a use for Dog meat.

An Enclave Eye Bot

The game is over before you know it
You get better and better, getting your skills in order, and just as soon as you are “ready to fight” the game ends.

The game is so short, some perks are never realised
I choose the perk, that gives you a guardian angel during VATS, well he only appeared once before I finished the game.

The interface is really clumpsy
Nothing is categorised, and its very old school, you need to pay attention to the shit you pickup

On the main quest

You get schematics for certain weapons, but the custom weapons you can build are below average, and don’t stack up to the standard dropped weapons.
Its a pain in the ass searching the wastelands for components, some of which are rare, only to produce a weapon thats fragile, and doesn’t produce as much damage as shit you can find on the ground like a combat shotgun.

All the guns look old and 2nd hand
With the exception of the plasma rifle, all the rest of the guns (even the laser rifle) all look like they were crapped out of Wall-e’s ass.

PC version is full of crashes
Yup it crashes, a lot

Bad 3d rendering
I found it stuttered a lot and you can’t blame my hardware its capable of some other mean titles without skipping a beat.

Rivet city market unprovoked attacks!
Its amazing but sometimes you’ll get unprovoked attacks while shopping, this means you’ll need to load up a saved game to get rid of the agg.

The underground

MMORPG’s – Do you really have the time to blow?

MMORPG’s – An online computer game played by 1000s of people at the same time, you play a character who has to gain experience, items and credits (gold) in a huge virtual world, full of adventure, quests, places to see and secrets.

My Experience with Anarchy Online – one of the most successful science fiction RPG’s is as follows:

The game started off really exciting, I remember landing on Newbie Island trying to figure out how to target and shoot mobs (enemies/monsters), even on Newbie Island you are able to gain credits, kill mobs, get experience and start some basic quest lines, to some degree you can even upgrade your weapons and Armour.

Once off Newbie Island you enter into the “real” gaming world, a huge planet that might take you over a year to fully explore, however don’t let the size of the planet fool you, about 90% of the planet is boring wilderness with nothing of interest in it what so ever. There is very little motivation to actually go off exploring most of it. Take for example, Fallout 3, which has unique locations in every direction, Anarchy Online or WoW do not really come close in this regard. I would say exploring constitutes 5% of the gaming experience, with sites like www.ao-universe.com – that tells you the locations of everything of interest, there is no reason to go and figure any of this out for yourself. There are vast chunks of the game content you can completely miss out on simply because nothing good can be found there, or better items are found elsewhere.

So how about activities? – the actual activities you can perform in this game falls into a pretty narrow stream all considering, In this write up I am talking about the full blown gaming experience with all expansions, not simply a froob (free player) or sloob (player with only the Shadow lands expansion). I am also talking from the perspective of the future potential I would like to see in games, mind blowing experiences, way more realistic and way less grindy, so bear this in mind when you read this.

I would say your activities are limited to:

(a) Hours/Days/Months/Years of grinding – Killing the same mob type over and over again for experience (e.g: RK Missions, Pen Inf Missions, Hecklers, LE Missions, Pocket Boss Farming, Hunting for pearls or items, Dyna Farming) Any of you reading this with AO experience will realize this high level overview is pretty accurate.

(b) Raiding / City Raids – this is very similar to grinding – except you grind away for exp/axp and also raid points – your final objective is getting items from the grinding, axp/exp is a secondary bonus. In the case of City Raids you’ll mainly do this to get some rare item, and because the item is so rare, you’ll need to do the same raid… same mobs on a different day, over and over again. Bottom line – you’re grinding.

(c) Twinking – Equipping your character with better armour, better weapons, better implants/symbiants, better rings, better social attire etc. Twinking is in the top 3 rewarding aspects of the game. You might grind for months to be able to fit an item, usually the higher your character the more rare items become, and the more rewarding it is finally to equip. But never forget the bottom line – you’re better twinked to be better prepared to grind.

(d) Selling items – in a sense this could also be classified as a type of grind… since you are spending time repeating an activity for a common goal, in this case raise credits, but the activity does not change, you post items for sale, and players buy your items, mostly just a quick “ty” and they’re off.

(e) Helping lower players with quests – To me this is the most rewarding part of the game, you actually get to be of some use to others… but there are a few things worth mentioning on this point for starters… Don’t expect any real appreciation from anyone, leave the game and you’re soon forgotten, likewise help someone to the best of your abilities and it could that in a few weeks that player leaves AO without even saying goodbye. In a way this is also a grind, except you yourself get only the satisfaction of actually helping someone else out.

(f) Getting from A to B. This is worth mentioning, due to the size of the planet a lot of the time even at level 220 you’re in transit.

(g) Building Organizational structure – In this game you get what they call Orgs, problem is about 99.9% of high level players all belong to an org and are loyal down to their last breath, so you’ll end up recruiting low level players, who might mature into good high level players and most don’t, most leave the game due to account issues or boredom.  Your high level org community will eventually shrink. I’ve been in guilds in 3 other games, and never seen such low populations in guilds like in AO. I guess when the population was higher this wasn’t the case, but things have changed since then. So I would rank organization as perhaps the least engaging aspect of the game, which shouldn’t be the case at all.

(h) Questing for items / credits / exp – this usually involves a lot of walking/running around and killing or tagging bosses. Most quests cannot be soloed so you have the added stress of coordinating the quest. Point H and Point E go hand in hand.

My main grievances have been listed but I have a few more.

You might start at level 1, work day and night to get to level 220, and what reward do you get, any special benefits? Well close to nothing, this I think is where players get addicted to the game, trying to get those last super buffing items that once they get will have no real effect on their lives.

Another thing – during your gaming experience you will encounter rude players, this might seem like a laugh, but trust me it can get to you when players are rude and try ruin your day. In AO there is no way to get even, you can block the player from talking to you – that’s about it. Idiots can rule the day in this world. I think WoW has a way of letting players blow off steam, the wilderness truly is PVP and anything goes.

Sometimes I can’t help wonder if Zero Punctuation was right, and MMO’s just blow your time.

 

Anarchy Online – best MMORPG – if you have the time to blow

I have finally found a game to play. Yup you guessed it, Anarchy Online, its free for now, and its highly playable.

After having tried a few other titles, I have found this game to be better than the rest of the titles (Fiesta, 2nd Life, etc). If you are looking for a good and free MMORPG type game, this one is the one to go for.

There are lots of options in this futuristic science fiction world. Loads of missions, loads of character improvements, and a lot of players to mingle with, trade with and party with.

If you find yourself in Athens, then I recommend you head straight for the subway in teams, if you do this you will level up a lot quicker than by playing missions (which require a lot of walking time). Once you reach level 25 – you can leave the subway and start taking on some real missions.

Good luck and post a comment if you liked the game.

Fiesta

This game is surprisingly playable, and requires no real money to play, unlike some of the other MMORPG cons out there.

The game client is around 700MB, and the game play on a 2Mbps ADSL connection was excellent. The game actually performed with very little bugs, but I did manage to lock some items in my inventory and get some windows onscreen that are not easy to get rid of, actually I still have not managed to free myself of these newly created windows.

The interface is clumsy and not intuitive at all, right clicking or left clicking in different places has strange effects, and there is an unmentioned double click in other places to further confuse the user.

The enemies are not challenging – and fights are carried out in Diablo fashion left click till you get RSI (sore fingers). The enemies are actually the worst part of the game, and you cannot attack real players – so there is no real urgency to form groups or clans.

The main reason why I have lost interest in this game was it seems that the game is full of masses of players who are all just out for selfish gains, and no real purpose other than to get new and better weapons, the game has very little depth, and the areas feel more like arenas.

Its difficult to get someone’s attention in the game, and I am sure you could play this game without actually chatting to anyone for months.

The quests that are presented are weak, boring and provide little rewards.

Having said that its at least a real game that you could play for a few hours at least till you get bored. It does have at least one hook, which might be that the game play could improve if you put in more time, but I am doubtful about that, so I gave up early on rather than wasting more time.

2nd Life seems a bit of a joke to me

Having watched a BBC documentary on virtual worlds online and technology improvements, I decided to download and try 2nd Life.

I played it twice, each time for about 30 minutes, then I decided to uninstall it and move on to try something else. These are my findings.

2nd Life’s 3D environment is pretty outdated, and comparable to 2001 type games. I mean with UNREAL 3 / Crysis 2 engines available for developers, 2nd Life looks like it was designed using gamestudio A7 – Bad bad bad!!!

The game is also full of bugs, my character got stuck moving around quite often – and as crazy as this sounds, I even managed to append a go-cart to my left leg and walk around with it for a while – looking absolutely ridiculous with some torch item attached to my right elbow and a party hat on – all of this was unintentional. Not the greatest look to try and socialize with the other 2nd life citizens.

You fall through the floor too I noticed, which is simply a result of crummy game design.

Through out the game there is constant pressure to spend real money to improve your appearance or to purchase land – don’t think its cheap either!

So once you are fully sorted – I guess there is very little to do other than have cartoon cyber sex, and just stand around and chat with other avatars.

I found this whole experience too boring personally – so I give this title a skip. But at least it seems a little less intrusive into your personal life and real details than Entropia.

Entropia Warning – stay far away from this cash trap

I have decided that I would tryout a few MMORPG’s in hope to find a fun and exciting online gaming experience. For those of you who don’t know the genre Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games theoretically are supposed to provide a fun an unique gaming experience, You are online playing with real people, who you can team up with in your quests, or fight against. You can fully review the genre at Wikipedia if you like.

Entropia was a game I decided to rather put down, even before my access details were fully processed. I created an account using fake details, which was rejected, the game company really wants your real details, those I was not willing to provide, but I provided a 2nd fake set that resembled a real enough address.

Well this registration can take up to 24 hours, I decided to read up on a few reviews on this game, and was so horrified, I decided its best not to get involved in this game, if you can even call it a game.

The whole game is designed to make you spend REAL money, by purchasing items that will help you in your quests, I could already smell a rat. I then read some reviews from ex-players who have mostly had bad experiences with the game, and confirm – its just a cash cow designed to extract money from players.

The actual game experience was reported as tedious, boring and amateur.

So I gave this one a skip, I suggest you do the same….