Archive for December, 2009
There was a time when I felt that the process of matchmaking would completely supersede server browsers, but recently – and especially since the release of Modern Warfare 2 – I feel that there is still a place for them.
The process of searching for a dedicated server with a good number of players on it might seem antiquated, but with adequate search features it becomes far more robust at finding the kind of game you want. All that’s required is a filter for X number of slots available, giving the ability to ensure space for any friends joining in. Xbox live did have this great feature known as parties, but it seems party chat is a tool of the devil, so even those are far less useful now.
So often I find myself comparing my Modern Warfare 2 experience with that of Battlefield 2. It makes me yearn for a time when I could find a well administered server with a population of players who were not just out for themselves. Even Battlefield 2 had a “Quick Play” button, which was enough to get you into a populated server and start playing. That satisfied the “I don’t care, just let me play now” contingent, but having the fully featured server browser there with a bevy of search options meant I could find the exact map I wanted to play on and see beforehand whether I would be jumping into a game full of hardcore clan members looking to lay waste to my plans of enjoyment.
Matchmaking in Modern Warfare 2 has been honed to a point where it can get you into a game very fast and with little effort on the part of the player, but I often find that if I pick anything other than Mercenary Team Deathmatch, I rarely have a good game. This is because that is the only mode that will ensure you’re not put on a team opposite a bunch of clan members working together, while your team team is made up of players hoping to just hop in and have some fun. It makes me feel like the choices in multiplayer on Modern Warfare 2 are extremely limited, else I am not given a greater guarantee of a game I will have fun with. At the very least with server browsers I could leave and find a different game if the people there were being unsporting/annoying/jerks, but any time you try that in Modern Warfare 2, you’re right back in the same game.
I suppose with the additional limitations imposed on the Xbox 360 version of Modern Warfare 2, I start to feel like there’s too much dictation of what the experience will be on the part of Infinity Ward. Rather than making a game for people to play and have fun in, it has become self-serious as though the hardcore minority – though vocal they are – have been able to influence what that mode should be. Those are definitely not the people you should be listening to if you want to make your game fun for the most people possible.
I don’t think I would feel so bad about matchmaking and multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 if it were just a lot more flexible. Seeing a kind of regression back to few game types and few rule-sets in multiplayer games is quite saddening. Have your easy playlist style games, but also allow people to make games with custom rules that can be searched using a kind of advanced matchmaking. No one would end up in them who didn’t want to, and you’d be able to have a Mercenaries Domination on the smallest map available; now how much fun would that be?
Bare in mind that besides Battlefield 2, a lot of my multiplayer online gaming time was spent with games like Unreal Tournament 2004, so take that as you will.
Intro movies in games are fine as long as you can skip them. Though I’m a busy man, and even having to hit the Go button several times wears a little thin over time. However, when faced with unskippable intro movies in any game, I can’t help but let it get to me. Where PC games are concerned, it does at least mean I can search around for something like “Disable intro movies in game X” and that usually does the trick.
I was fortunate enough to buy Batman: Arkham Asylum in the Steam sales, which I’m pretty glad about, because I’ve wanted to play that game for a while now on the back of all the praise it had been receiving, but had been buying so many games that it just happened to be the one-too-many. I’m enjoying it so far and really seeing what all the fuss was about, but as you might have guessed by now, the game features an endless stream of unskippable intro movies! The unfortunate thing here is that no one seems to have written about how to disable them for this particular game. That said, this is an Unreal Engine game, making the process of removing them somewhat standard, but I thought I’d document it here anyway.
- Go to your user documents folder. In Windows XP, this is usually Documents and Settings\<User>\My Documents. In Vista/7 this is Users\<User>\Documents.
- Open the Eidos\Batman Arkham Asylum\BmGame\Config folder and edit the file BmEngine.ini. If you have the GOTY edition, the publisher is Square Enix, so the folder would be Square Enix\Batman Arkham Asylum GOTY\BmGame\Config. Thanks, Matt Sach, for the updated info!
- Look for the following lines:
[FullScreenMovie] SkippableMovies=Attract StartupMovies=baa_logo_run_v5_h264 StartupMovies=UTlogo StartupMovies=Legal StartupMovies=Install
- Add a semicolon (;) to comment out the startup movies:
[FullScreenMovie] SkippableMovies=Attract ;StartupMovies=baa_logo_run_v5_h264 ;StartupMovies=UTlogo ;StartupMovies=Legal ;StartupMovies=Install
- Save and play without intro movies!
The only issue now is that Windows Live may not have signed in before you hit play. Maybe it didn’t save all that much time after all…
I’m sure all the Wave puns have already been made, and I’m not about to further muddy that particular pool. Google Wave is at least deserving of some attention, having just played around with the preview for a couple days now. It at least meets the original idea of being a good evolution of e-mail, with everything being conversation based as opposed to discrete individual messages that steadily grow in size as reply text is copied each time. Like some kind of out-of-control text-sponge being passed around, e-mails often reached the point where they rarely, if ever, related to the original message and became a form of delayed IM system. That’s an oxymoron, I know, but the advantage e-mails always had over IM was that they were not tied to one particular system or application.
Google Wave addresses the e-mail issue while introducing the very same IM issues. It is currently a closed system, and while the help topics do say the development team hope to implement traditional e-mail support in the future, I wonder how well that can work with the dynamic functions of Google Wave. Either Wave sends out periodic updates to “e-mail subscribers” of a particular Wave, or the Wave itself is limited due to the presence of e-mail participants. I’m sure the developers have thought about all this, though I’d still like to see what they come up with.
Besides the lack of backwards-compatibility with any existing system, the features of Google Wave do seem pretty exciting, as long as all your friends also have an account.