Posted in Gaming with tags on July 5, 2008 by James Prestridge

Just had to say this real quick before going to bed. There’s a mission in GTA4 where you rob a bank. It may be the single greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in a single player video game. I don’t know that I’ve ever had that much fun, or cared that much about what happened to the characters in a video game.

Just saying. GTA4 is full of win.


Schoolwork Dump

Posted in Gaming, Schoolwork with tags , on July 3, 2008 by James Prestridge

I recently started attending college to attain my Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems. As I want to eventually work in the video game industry, I am trying to relate as much of my work to video games as possible.

Posted here are the first few assignments I have completed that I was able to relate to video games, for anyone that might be interested in reading them.

The Economy of The World of Warcraft – A brief document outlining part of the economy within WoW, specifically focusing on hyperinflation.

Video Game Addiction: Is It Real? – My review of an article (article present in PDF).

Online Gaming Is As Addictive As Heroin – Another review of an article (article present in PDF).

That’s all so far. I received an A on the WoW Econ piece, and am expecting an A on both article reviews. Will post more as they are completed.

I Hate Teenagers

Posted in Ramblings on June 26, 2008 by James Prestridge

Seriously, they’re effing whiny, selfish, stupid, inconsiderate pricks.

Don’t believe me? Check out this story.

Some stupid teenager drove his car off of Pike’s Peak in front of a crowd of tourists, reportedly after being dumped by his girlfriend. Amazingly, the fucktard lived and the people who risk their lives to save someone else’s for a living, risked their lives to save his.

So, he gets his poor teenage heart broken and decides there is nothing left to live for. Teenagers are stupid.

He decided to take his own life in dramatic fashion, and in front of a crowd of tourists. Who wants to bet that crowd of tourists contained small children? Good job, asshat. You’ve just contributed to screwing up the psyche of the next generation. Teenagers are selfish and inconsiderate.

He decided to do this after being dumped by his girlfriend. Poor effing you. Nevermind the fact that you’re a teenager, and teenagers (as a whole) go through more relationships than they do packs of socks during the same period of time. He figures that he found the one that he couldn’t live without, when we all know he would have a better chance of finding a pot of gold at the end of an effing rainbow. But that doesn’t just make him whiny and stupid, and I’ll tell you why. Offing yourself because another person doesn’t want to date you is a whole lot to put on someone, I know from experience. The girl who dumped him will never be the same, with one idiotic act he has changed her life completely. Teenagers are whiny, selfish, stupid, inconsiderate pricks.

But wait, there’s more.

He failed to take his own life. Teenagers are stupid.

Rescuers had to climb down a 900 foot summit using a fire hose to try and save this jackass, because society cares (and is also stupid). Now granted, while he couldn’t have known that he was going to live, other people still risked their lives to save his. Teenagers are selfish and inconsiderate.


Well, that was short lived.

Posted in Gaming with tags , , , on June 16, 2008 by James Prestridge

I think Karl may have been right. I can’t do the 1 Character, 1 Game, 1 Year thing even to spite him, though probably not for the reasons that he was thinking. It’s not my usual Game/Character ADD acting up, I don’t have a burning desire to try out a different game or class. I just don’t have the desire to play an MMO anymore.

Normally when I play an MMO, I turn into a complete fanboy for the MMO. Lately all I seem to find myself doing is reminiscing about how good MMO’s used to be. For a number of reasons, I think I’m done chasing that ‘first high’ I got from playing Ultima Online (UO) with every new MMO or content update that comes out.

I got to thinking about UO last week, and tried to pinpoint what made it was that made the game great. Through all of the gameplay / technological advances that new games have went through, I think they’re missing the two core elements that made UO great to me: Freedom and Interaction.

In UO’s prime, players had a level of freedom that has not been matched by any other game (that I am aware of) to date. It allowed you to play the game as you wanted it. The freedom in UO allowed players to create intricate, functioning player-run cities, host events with no limits on what would take place or rewards would be given. Events like scavenger hunts, tournaments of champions, foot/horse races, dungeon crawls, guild / city / faction wars, free for all royal rumbles, and various other tests of skill could take place on any given day if the player base was interested. Your fun was only limited by the creativity of you and the players around you, there was never a limit to the number of things you could do, never was a player at a point where they had seen everything the game had to offer.

The flip side of this freedom is the reason it was taken away – sometimes one players fun was directly in contrast to the fun of other players, the game administrators, or the good of the game. From the Beta when one of the game creator’s in-game avatar Lord British was killed by a player while giving a speech at an event, to players exploiting bugs to insta-kill other players for their loot, item/gold duplication, GM assassinations, dragon slaying while practically invulnerable, to who knows what sort of exploits I have missed in my long absence from the game or forgot to mention here. Because the fun of some impeded the fun of others, or made the designers look bad, player freedom was reduced patch by patch in UO and even more drastically in future MMO’s. If you think you have freedom in your current MMO, try attacking one of the central characters. Try teaching your warrior to cast a spell, or your mage to wield a sword with competence. Try hosting an event that hasn’t been implemented by the game developers in some way. Try to think outside the sandbox of the game that you play, and figure out what else you would like to do with your character. I think you will be sad to find that in the majority of MMO’s out now, you simply can’t do the things you think of.

Along with all of that freedom, there was a very much forced interaction between players. Positive or negative, players were constantly interacting with each other. You couldn’t play UO as a single player game as you can in current MMO’s. In current games you can advance your character to the maximum point without ever so much as speaking to another player. While in UO if you wanted to play the game as a mute, you could, but player interaction was going to happen whether you liked it or not. There were no armor repairing NPC’s, no instanced dungeons, no auction houses, no monster ‘tagging’. A lot of people who read this would think that is a negative statement toward UO, but I maintain that it is one of the things that made UO great. If you wanted to advance your character, you had to interact with other people. Other people changed the game for you, other people opened up parts of the game that you never would have thought of, other people kept the game from feeling like a chore. In all the years that I played UO, I never got into work-like routine that comes with current MMO’s. I never ran out of things to see, I never had the same experience in a dungeon twice, and I miss that in current day games.

But again, the flip side of that interaction is that not all interaction is positive. Player vs. Player (PvP) combat, thievery, cons/scams and other forms of player interaction were rampant in UO. Personally, I never saw a problem with any of these things, so long as they were done within the mechanics of the game. If I’ve got my prized longsword in my backpack and the best thief in the world wants it, I feel he should have the chance to take it. If I’ve got a pack full of gold/items from a long dungeon run and a group of murderers think they deserve a piece or all of it, I feel they should have the chance to say so. If a Blacksmith decides that he just can’t part with the piece of armor the he repaired for me, I honestly feel that he should have that option. All of the interactions listed above would be considered negative interactions, but they were part of the game and they had consequences attached to them. Want to steal from my backpack? You had better not get caught, by me or the town guards. Death would be swift. Want to try and take from me what I’ve just acquired? To the victor goes the spoils, but murder comes with in-game penalties as well as repercussions from myself and friends after getting away from you. Want to go against your word for a single piece of armor? Hope it was worth it, I may decide that getting the item back would be worth risking attacking you, or just sully your name with any future prospective customers.

But, for the sake of being convenient and user friendly, player interaction is no longer forced and player freedom has been practically removed. You can take your character from beginning to end without having to interact with another soul. The game you play and what it will take to get you there was laid out long before your character was ever created. Sure, you might choose to get there by killing 25 foozles instead of 25 slimes, you might complete quests with the Dark Brotherhood and not the Alliance of Light, you might do any number of things differently than the next player, making your experience different and unique… but really, it’s all the same.

And that makes me sad.

It Begins

Posted in Gaming with tags on June 7, 2008 by James Prestridge

Installed and patched EQ2 with no problems earlier this week. Created a character, played through a couple of the intro quests and honestly, really enjoyed it.


Enter Keeras. Half-Elf Troubador, named after one of my favorite EQ1 toons.

The character creation process was great, loads of customization options. I really enjoy that you get to pick the class you want to play at level 1 instead of level 20, but at the same time I always throught the character maturing from a basic Scout into a Bard and finally into a Troubador was a very neat way to get people attached to their characters. Which way is better? Depends on how you define better. I would guess that SOE had a reason for changing the character specialization process, and that the change has been justified by their subscription numbers since making the change as it’s still in place.

As a Half-Elf, my toon started his life in Faydwer, the continent that most of my EQ1 toons started off (and spent much of their time) in. But instead of appearing on a random rise in the city of Kelethin as would have been the case in EQ1, I was placed in a small Fey village (safely on the ground, might I add. How many people were introduced to their first death in EQ1 before ever finding the main lift in Kelethin?) in need of some assistance with Grobins (Goblins) and shrillers (worms).

The few quests involving Grobins and shrillers got me up to level 4 in fairly short order, and that’s where I left off.

More to come as I have more time to play. I believe Karl has started a toon to monitor my progress, which is fine by me. Maybe he’ll actually play and I’ll be able to tell of more adventures than my own. We’ll see.

Challenge Accepted

Posted in Gaming with tags on June 3, 2008 by James Prestridge

I’ve yet again become pretty bored with my game of choice (WoW). While looking around at different options yesterday, I came across an interesting idea.

Make a commitment to play 1 character in 1 MMO for 1 year, and blog about it. Knowing me, that will be a very difficult thing to do. I have a hard enough time just playing 1 game, let alone playing 1 character. And blogging on top of that, everyone who has this link knows how lazy I am about blogging.

But, I really like the idea. As I want to break into the gaming industry with my career, I had better start contributing to the community somehow.

As for picking the game, I thought that would be very, very difficult. I’ve played practically every MMO released, so picking a game that’s new to me doesn’t really work. This weekend I had dinner with a couple friends who are very active Everquest 2 players. Talking with people about an MMO is an easy way to get me interested in it, if only for a moment.

Yesterday, I was going through a list of MMO’s I would be interested in playing again. Everquest 2 is the game I am most interested in right now, that will run decently on my system. On top of that, the new living legacy promotion that they have going on seals the deal.

So, I’m going to start playing Everquest 2 again. I’ve never leveled a character into the 20’s in Everquest 2, so it’s practically new to me. I’m going to start blogging about my game experience on a weekly basis, for at least a year. I’ll make another post about my character and whatnot after logging in, but that may be a couple days away (stupid school). For the time being, that’s what this site is going to be used for.

That’s all I got. I’m excited about it.

Separation of Church and State

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , on May 5, 2008 by James Prestridge

May. 3, 2008 01:10 PM
Associated Press
ZION, Ill. – Steve Kreuscher wants a judge to allow him to legally change his name. He wants to be known as “In God We Trust.”

Kreuscher (CROY’-shir) says the new name would symbolize the help God gave him through tough times.

The 57-year-old man also told the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald he’s worried that atheists may succeed in removing the phrase “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.  

He recalls that the phrase “God Reigns” was removed from the Zion city seal in 1992 after courts deemed it unconstitutional. Zion was founded as a theocracy – by a sect that believed the Earth was flat.

The school bus driver and amateur artist in the northern Chicago suburb says he has filed a petition to change his name in Lake County Circuit Court.

I’m not sure I need to comment on this one, but this wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t.

So, some crackpot wants to change his name to ‘In God We Trust’… Great, let him do it. In fact, I fully endorse and support the psychos out there labeling themself in such a clear way. It would make selective screening at airports a whole lot easier.

Passenger 1: In God We Trust
Passenger 2: Leeroy Jenkins
Passenger 3: I love Satan

It really has much longer reaching possibilities as well. If you were a hiring Manager, who would you call back for an interview? The dating game, who would you pick? Hell – if you were a telemarketer, you could drastically increase your odds of making a sell by just altering your talk off accordingly.

I guess the more I think about how crazy this fucker is – the less upset I am over him worrying that the “atheists” may succeed in removing In God We Trust from our national currency.

It’s not the atheists that want to remove that phrase from all of our money – it’s every person who supports the Separation of Church and State. Some key supporters of the idea include Thomas Jefferson and the U.S. Supreme Court. Atheists? I don’t think so.

I am not an atheist, I consider myself happily ignorant when it comes to whether or not a God exists. However I fully support the Separation of Church and State, no matter how far from it we may be. When the people in charge of running our country end speeches with phrases like ‘God bless’, when you can get a quick boost in the latest polls by attending the right church, when you have laws influenced by a religious moral code, you do not have a Separation of Church and State.

How do we get there? I don’t have all the answers, but my first idea is to put a new spin on an old (and bad) practice – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. If you’re in a political position, any professional display of religious affiliation will be met with a swift reprimand. And, we would be able to keep the nutjob who inspired this post from ever running for office. Woot!

It’s not perfect, but I’m not responsible for coming up with a solution for getting our country back on track with the ideas expressed in the constitution it was founded on.