! ! ! G LA Volume 1 > Issue 1 > Spring 2012
Thanks for picking up this copy of XP Boost. It has been produced by the blood, sweat, and tears of its staff over a long semester of completing mission after mission only to find another that must be done. The rewards for completing each mission weren’t very valuable, but being able to finish the epic game of Ezine is a reward in and of itself. Are we overdoing the game references? Probably. But we’re a gaming magazine, so give us a little slack. XP Boost is a magazine written by gamers, for gamers, and we hope that the pages that follow interest you as much as they interested us. You’ll learn about that dreaded opponent of all games – lag – as well as Richard Garriot, the “awesome developer person”; fanboy wars; and the first popular Star Wars MMO. A wide variety of topics, for sure, but all related to the thing we all care about – video games. You have a new mission: Read XP Boost. Accept?
Table of Contents Staff Bios Montages and Video Games Why to Watch Starcraft 2 Lag
Why Lag Happens And Armor For All Gaming With Garriot Fanboys and the Gaming Community Violence Top 5 Design Companies Star Wars: The Old Rebuplic 40 Years of Gaming: A Timeline
5 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 28
Staff Bios >>>> Bobbie S. Bobbie is the only girl on the staff, and acts like it. She wishes she could spend her time reading but instead tries to keep the boys (one in particular) on task and actually creating a magazine instead of playing on their computers all day. Her favorite type of games are RPGs and she loves slaughtering droves of monsters.
Walter O. Walter is a paranoid weirdo. He is also the group member with coding XP. He refuses to allow his picture to be taken. He plays almost every variety of game, except for DDR-type games and cooking sims. He almost always wears a winter coat.
Diego G. Diego and attend sthe Liberal Arts and Science Academy,where I am a freshman (like everyone else in the mag). Out of every one in the XPB00ST staff he is the one that plays the most FPSs. Among his favorite are Halo, Battlefield, and the COD franchise (he plays COD mostly because of the Zzmbies). But he also plays RTSs (Starcraft 2) and other MMOs.
Samuel M. Samuel is an awesome person. He likes PokĂŠmon, and is currently attempting a Nuzlocke run of Diamond. He also enjoys YouTube, particularly TotalHalibit. He is a slightly lazy procastinator, which is why he didnâ€™t finish writing this bio.
How They’re Created By Diego G.
inematic’s come into play as an explosion and then the composition of 3D graphics spell out “AZZT3X”, Stating the creator. Darkness, and then upon the viewer there is a scenery of a cold and destroyed city. Then out of the bloom a bright light shines out of a ACOG scope as it zooms in on its target and as a constant beet plays in the background. One shot one kill, this marks the start of a series of chips of Men in gillysuits running across fields, as some getting killed. This is a montage of the famous franchise Call of Duty. The process or technique of selecting, editing, and piecing together separate sections of film to form a continuous whole is becoming a symbols of gaming. Montages have been the growing entertainment and hobby of many gamers because of their visually appealing graphics. Now these videos are not just for entertainment, they may also serve as tutorials or motivation for gamers. But how are they exactly made? Even thought a lot of them are constantly being created and posted not all know what it takes to create them. Some may say it takes skill to do such a thing, but does it really? Why
don’t we ask one creator named Jason A.K.A. “AZZT3X”. Montages seem to be a hazel that require a lot of time and patients, which according AZZT3X may take form “ 3-5 hour depending on the length of the video, which may range form 1-5 minutes”. AZZT3X, who stated making montages since the second semester of 8th grade, has been able to create numerous videos of the Call of Duty franchise. Making montages may not be the easiest thing to do
“The choice of music, an adequate computer that can run high quality graphics, and the software that enables graphics to be inserted into the gameplay” because there are so many factors to take into consideration. Among the most difficult are; But this does not suggest that making a worthy of watching montage is impossible, some of the tips are to have “good sinking, cinematics, color correction, and maybe some 3D graphics just to make the montage more appealing”.
“This ‘new age of gaming’ or expansion of the franchises like Call of Dut and battlefield which have achieved to have stunning graphics and awesome gameplay have given great popularity to montages”. Plus having people
“Montages provide a foundation for getting sponsored by Machinima, and not to mention a chance to win one of the many competitions”
desire”. And in other to know you’re good you must get an unbiased opinion, one which can be obtained places such as YouTube. But that may also prove to be frustrating because of some scenarios such as “getting bad feedback on my YouTube channel and the people don’t even tell you why, or what I should improve on.” At the rate of popularity which montages are having it would not be a surprise to see them become and art of the gaming industry.
around the world playing video games 24/7 “gives a creator more variety because of the constant posts of gameplay which makes it a lot easier”. Video games are a 40 year old industry which keeps expanding more and more, and every year having breath taking new things, but do they hurt or help these montage creators. “This is the time when they were actually becoming eye catching or interesting. Today they are easier to create due to the fact of the software has been upgrading itself year after year with new tools”. Instead of being affected by the high quality graphics of most of today’s games, they have served as a booster towards the increasing trend of montage creation. Doing something like creating montages seems to some like a waste of time or something of no use, but that is not entirely right. Montages could provide an individual with an opportunity to work in this next generation entertainment network of video games named Machinima, of course that is if you are good enough, which just this year has had around 11 billion views. In order to be good at something one must be motivated, such as AZZT3X is for being “able to manipulate music to my
Why to be watching StarCraft 2 By Samuel M., from the lair.
ne of the best aspects of gaming is following competitive professional StarCraft 2 players and the exciting team rivalries. Many people are surprised to learn that such things exist but there are thousands of professional players competing at dozens of international events every year. There truly are that many players who make all or part of their income from professional gaming. As in most other professional gaming arenas, Korean players seem to dominate possibly because it is so well supported there. Korea was the first nation to televise StarCraft 2 events and it is wildly popular most age groups. There are also incredible players and teams from outside Korea that are making their marks in international play. Two of the most exciting are Team Liquid and Team Evil Geniuses. Both the teams and individual players from the two teams have long-standing rivalries that make watching their clashes truly epic. Team Liquid is a progaming team based in the US, but with a number of EU gamers as the most prolific team members. The team is one of the most elite StarCraft 2 teams outside of South Korea. They run the premier SC2 and
progaming website “www.teamliquid. net,” providing excellent forums, poles, event coverage, and live streaming of a variety of games. Another one of their websites is “www.liquipedia.com,” a wiki for SC2 pros in and out of Korea. The Evil Geniuses/Team Liquid rivalry started during an early competition when StarCraft 2 was still in beta. The Evil Geniuses won the team match 3:2. Despite it’s early power and a stable of excellent players, Team Evil Geniuses has failed to win as many matches as they would seem to be capable, and has not beaten Team Liquid in a major event in any convincing manner since the beta testing
Team Evil Geniuses began promoting an “Unlikely Alliance”
Photo used from Team EG, with permition.
phase of StarCraft 2. Commentators and fans have speculated that the team may just not perform well under pressure. Despite this, the team continues to practice daily at the house where the team lives together. They often do live stream of their practice, as well as commentary on other events that they host. The competition got personal when HuK, then star of Team Liquid, crushed IdrA, the power player of The Evil Geniuses, with fake units (a tricky but legally allowed maneuver) causing IdrA to rage and forfeit the game. This rivalry has manifested many times, including almost every major gaming event, with more insults than capital letters in gaming usernames. These were flung via post-game interviews, in-game chat, and face-to-face taunting. HuK, over more than a year and near countless wins proved that he was the superior player. After HuK’s contract with Team Liquid expired last fall, Team Evil Geniuses began promoting an “Unlikely Alliance” eventually revealing that HuK was joining team Evil Geniuses, seduced by the offer of a better contract. Money had won out over team loyalty, which was hard for many fans to accept but for players like HuK StarCarft 2 is a job as well as his passion. IdrA was report-
edly not thrilled at sharing his team with his former rival. In fact forums on TeamLiquid.net claimed that even IdrA’s cat, Hobbes, dislikes HuK. The battle over HuK has divided fans and accented all points in the EG vs. TL rivalry. For fans and supporters of any team the heated matches at international events are only one part of the attraction. Almost daily there are new YouTube videos of practice games, live streams of coaching sessions, commentary on past matches, impassioned debate on forums, and always a chance to get involved and invested with a favorite player or team. Watching gameplay and strategy at the professional level can help less experienced players learn to play more dynamically and with higher levels skill. In fact, when a new strategy shows up in professional team play it is generally
Some Korean team include:
quickly adopted by ordinary online players and counter-strategies spring up just as fast. Occasionally it flows the other way and a counter maneuver developed by an amateur gamer find it’s way into the playbook of a professional team. This connection between recreational and professional play makes the game truly exciting for everyone and keeps the whole scene compelling for even the most casual follower. The latest news from Team Liquid is that they have recruited and a new superstar player to replace Huk, TaeJa, and the currently highest ranked professional player. He has changed his username to Liquid’TaeJa and with his strength Team Liquid is continuing to be superior to Team Evil Geniuses in almost every way. In this fan’s opinion Team Evil Geniuses has only one remaining advantage. They are better at losing.
• Slayers Clan • Old Generations • Startail • Prime • MVP • FXO • Team SCV Life • Fnatic
“GOGO Liquid’ Fighting!!” -TL.net /Haveaniceday
Photo used from Team’Liquid, with permition.
By Walter O.
young man crouches behind a large concrete barrier. He is dressed in camouflage and holds an M16 close to his body. There is gunfire all around. He can hear his comrades shoutFinally, ing, and the whistle People Get It of shrapnel from fragmentation grenades. He looks down, checks his ammo, turns the safety off on his gun, takes a deep breath, and vaults over the barrier. He sees the muzzle flash of gunfire, and gives the area a quick spray from his rifle. A scream of pain, then more shots, from a different direction. He dives behind a wall, looks back, and sees someone trying to sneak up behind him, he tries to turn and shoot the man, but suddenly he can’t move. His vision is choppy as he is knifed in the back and is powerless to stop it. Damn, there goes that amazing kill streak. Stupid slow internet connection. It’s one of the greatest banes on gamers everywhere, screwing with potential high scores and messing up amazing KDRs. If you don’t understand, let me put it another way. Imagine you’re playing basketball, the score is two to three, and the other team is winning. You get the ball, and you run for the basket, but just as you are about to shoot, you become paralyzed. You can’t move or see, and when your senses return, the other
“It’s one of the greatest banes on gamers everywhere” team has stolen the ball and scored to win the game. Well lag is more of a connection thing, so I guess that analogy isn’t the best, but you get the picture. I hope.
Of course you get it, you’re all smart people. This is a problem that everyone deals with, and there’s not a whole lot you can do, aside from shelling out a ton of cash for a super computer, but take solace that you are not alone, because this affects every single game more complicated than Adventure. Take Minecraft, it’s not a game you would normally associate with too much lag, as long as you have a half way decent computer, and don’t go overboard on the TNT. Or, you go multiplayer, which is how Master Blake K. plays. He gives me an example of how, while on a multiplayer server “I was building my house, and a creeper came up behind me, and I didn’t know it, and it killed me.” If you’ve played the game, you’d know this actually isn’t that incredible, as the only noise creepers make is a soft hissing one and a half seconds the things that frustrate him tend to be connection issues, sometimes a game will lose connection and quit while he’s playing, so that me have something to do with his lag issues. Blake’s pretty sure about the reason, “it’s the Wi-Fi hub, and distance from it makes the connection weaker.” But maybe it’s his laptop, in my experience laptops just to run as well as a good desktop, and maybe his just can’t handle the Minecrafti-ness. Maybe someone with a similar problem will provide insight. Let’s move on to Horst E., another denizen of the Minecraft world. Horst’s experi-
ence is almost exactly the same, the difference being instead of a creeper, he got killed by “skellies,” those undead archers of infinite ammo. Horst is adamant about how his lag is caused, and when I asked him about it, he thought hard for a good millisecond before answering “my crappy computer.” Pretty he sure he knew what I was going to ask before I did, the man’s psychic. The last example is Justin Z., his multiplayer games are Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends. Giving a more general sense of his dealings with lag, he says that “the worst is when the lag isn’t bad enough to make you want to stop playing, cause you feel cheated out of kills, but sometimes ... the game becomes unplayable.” Another thought of his is that maybe the amount of time the computer has been running effects how badly it lags. “My computer is decent, but not the best, and if I’ve been running it for a long time, the frame rate starts to drop.” Master Justin also gave percentages for his reasoning, about 40% frame rate dropping and 60% bad connection. So there are some people, and what they say causes lag, but how can you reduce it? Well the easiest way would be get a brand new desktop Alien™ computer, and jack it directly into the internet, but that costs a lot of money, and, personally, I would rather not spend that much. So what else can be done? Well, if your using a laptop, you can try taking an internet cable and plugging it in to the correct port, but you can also try clearing out any trash files and spyware clogging up the RAM, or maybe if you have an old computer, you could install a new OS like Linux, there are plenty of tutorials online on how. Speaking of tutorials, if none of that helps, there are hundreds of videos on youtube about how to maximize the speed of your computer without breaking the bank. I hope you got something of use out of this.
Why So Slow? Your Computer outputs images on the screen, which you react to by giving in-put via the mouse and keyboard. Your computer interprets these in-puts as electronic signals. It sends these signals to the server managing the game you are playing. The server uses the signals from your computer and all the other computers interacting with it to build a virtual world, it then uses this to know where you are pointing your gun when you fire. The server sends the position, direction, and any special effects or graphics of the bullet you fired
By Walter O.
How Multiplayer Games (Should) Work
5 If someone happens to be standing in the path of that bullet, their computer registers the hit, calculates the damage and sends any other in-put from the player to the server, which then sends this information to your computer. Then the cycle repeats, millions of times each second. 12
What Really Happens Your Computer outputs images on the screen, which you react to by giving in-put via the mouse and keyboard.
Your computer sends these signals to the server, but due to your cruddy internet connection, you hacking, or an overly full server, the signals take forever to get processed The server uses the signals from your computer and all the other computers interacting with it to build a virtual world, it then uses this to know where you are pointing your gun when you fire.
The server sends the position, direction, and any special effects or graphics of the bullet you fired
5 Since you fired a bullet, the other players have had plenty of time to dodge, figure out where you were, make their way to you, and then knife you in the back. Damn lag.
And Armor For All Video games sure make women look bad, but some of them are getting better.
or years, women have been portrayed inappropriately in video games. I remember playing World of Warcraft (WoW) when I was in elementary school and being amazed at the “armor” of the female night elf. It was barely enough to cover her, let alone actually be protection in battle. That hasn’t gotten much better over the intervening years. The current and official poster image of a WoW night elf has her wearing what looks like a quilted bikini... Except with less fabric. But for other games, it’s (very) slowly getting better. One of the greatest controversies surrounding the video game industry has been the treatment of women. Games such as Grand Theft Auto have been condemned for displaying violence against women. Fantasy RPGs (roleplaying games) like WoW depict female warriors in scanty armor that would never be effective in a real battle. In earlier video games, women NPCs (non-playable characters) were purely there for the attraction of the male players. The list goes on. However, the outcry against this portrayal of women has been large and widespread. Female gamers and equal-gender rights advocates have been the loudest complainers. Not all game developers have
listened to them, but some have. And the effects are becoming visible. Skyrim, the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series, shows female characters (both PCs and NPCs) with reasonable proportions and armor. In Portal, the most memorable character is female – but also an insane artificial intelligence that tries to kill you. In fact, girls have become important NPCs, integral to plot, in many games. The excuse often used for unrealistic portrayals of women in video games is that they appeal to the target audience of most games – that is, boys and men. Boys wouldn’t like Lara Croft (a PC who is a popular sex symbol in gaming) half as much if she didn’t have such large breasts. I mean, really? UK’s Guardian reported that the Internet Advertising Bureau found that 49% of gamers in the UK are female. And with games like Cooking Mama and Wii Fit out, it’s hard to argue that video games are just for boys anymore. So why on earth do such negative stereotypes persist? That’s not to say that negative stereotypes are everywhere. Those who do say that all female characters in video games are poorly clad and unrealistically proportioned, and that all games advocate misogyny (hatred of women) are (excuse me) stupid. What about the video
by Bobbie S.
games that don’t even have female characters? Some FPSs like Battlefield are guy-only. Minecraft, which is insanely popular, is so pixelated that
“As graphics have gotten better in games, so has the depiction of women.” it’s impossible to tell the gender of a person, let alone get a rise out of their appearance. If a player wants to download skins, then that’s their decision, not Mojang’s (the company that produces Minecraft). Condemning all games because of the sins of a few is ridiculous. GLaDOS, the aforementioned crazy artificial intelligence from Portal, is nothing more than a robotic voice for most of the game. And yet when Portal first came out in 2007, she won several awards, including GameSpy’s “Best Character.” As graphics have gotten better in games, so has the depiction of women; my fellow staff members and I unanimously agree that Skyrim’s graphics are absolutely amazing, but when it comes to the graphic depictions of the female characters, there’s nothing nearly as – well– astounding. My character, a Redguard by the name of Anayla,
c. ainm ent, I n ntert
genders. So why can’t all games do that? Alas, I am but a lowly magazine writer and so my words probably do not hold much sway with the big game developers. But if the portrayal of women in video games gets on my nerves, then it probably annoys a whole bunch of other girl gamers. I should know; I’ve spoken to some of them! One LASA gamer (who prefers to remain anonymous) told me that she hates how “none of the main characters are girls.” Developers are losing a huge possible market of females with these antics. Sure, some games have much better, more gender-equal displays… but the majority doesn’t. And there are definitely not enough to make girls feel less like gaming is for both genders equally. Maybe it is getting better, but it needs to get better a lot faster.
© Bli zzard E
wears perfectly normal armor that makes it difficult to find a significant curve on her chest. In fact, as far as I can tell, all the physical aspects of the Skyrim world are perfectly normal. But there are definitely exceptions, even in the best games! WoW is, of course, one the most widely known MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online) RPGs, but has some of the most provocative and unbelievable artistic renditions of female characters. Ryan Consell, a professional armorer, noted that most female fantasy armor is pointless but that it is perfectly possible to create realistic armor for women, even in video games. He even points out that it is possible to make armored women sexy, without giving them useless armor. Mass Effect’s armor offers the same amount of coverage for both boys and girls, and looks pretty much the same for both
© Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Game Girls Through the Ages
© Nintendo Co., Ltd.
1981 — Midway produces Ms. Pacman, making it the first video game with a female protagonist. 1985 — Princess Peach (left) appears for the first time in Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. as an NPC whom Mario must rescue from a castle. 1986 — Samus Aran (middle of page, in armor) first appears in the game Metroid by Nintendo as a PC. Her gender was deliberately obscured (with help from her bulky armor), but if the player finished the game fast enough, she would take off her armor and reveal herself to be a woman. 1996 — The first Tomb Raider game, published by Eidos Interactive (now Square Enix Europe), comes out. The protagonist is PC Lara Croft, an Indiana Jones-like adventurer. 2004 — Blizzard Entertainment releases the MMO World of Warcraft with Night Elves (top of page) as a playable race. (Strangely, the armor available to players is nothing close to the armor in the picture.)
Richard Garriott showing Samuel M. around the Portalarium offices.
ichard Garriott loves Plants vs. Zombies. In fact, he plays Plants vs. Zombies so much that he has (almost) all of the achievements and whipped his iPhone out in the middle of a conversation about the current state of game development to show me his stats screen. Garriott is a games developer based in Austin and has been developing games since the Apple II was introduced. In fact, his first game Akalabeth: World of Doom was released in 1979 while he was still in high school. Garriott has been in the center of game development for the entire history of the computer gaming industry. He has seen it all, even the Earth from space. (He was one of the first commercial astronauts, as of 2008) At heart, though, Richard Garriott is a game player and what he likes and dislikes in game-play has had a greater impact in the games he designs than his world travels.
One thing many gamers like to question is why setting is important in games? Garriott would argue that it is not. While many gamers have a strong preference for one genre of game over another, Garriott said that he plays games in almost every setting. “... I’m a big believer that if you think of the biggest properties in fantasy and the biggest property in sci fi…the biggest in fantasy is probably Lord of the Rings and the biggest in science fiction is arguably Star Wars, but if you look at those two properties, I actually think the story that’s in Star Wars could just as easily be in a historical setting. And I think that the reverse is true, too. I think you could write a Lord of the Rings story that instead of being in Mordor with orcs could be in space with space marines and it would still be just as powerful a story.” His early Ultima games, for example, combined elements of both fantasy and sci-fi, but top-down perspective games are more suited to purely fantasy settings. “...The game became top-down wandering around on a map [and] that feels more medieval than science fiction so the game became more medieval. If the technology I was enjoying...if was enjoying zooming around then I would have made a game that
was more sci fi.” Mr. Garriott said he draws his inspiration from the state of our world.. “I usually veil social commentary in the story of the games, So my ideas come from the big social issues of the day.” He even finds that he can tell you what was happening in the world when he designed different games, but he tries to make it more of a vague message that is more applicable. “When there are a lot of politicians being caught in scandalous behavior I’ll often do a story where the leadership in the game is somehow acting inappropriately and worthy of being overthrown.” On the other hand, games that are propaganda-based often do not do well in the current sales market, so most comments on society are kept veiled behind fiction. This is compounded by the fact that if a game lacks a good story, is it really worth playing, however pretty it is? One thing Mr. Garriott mentioned was the concept of a “virtual
feast” versus true game interaction with story. “In my mind there are some games that are so little game that they’ve failed to be entertaining. But if you think about it movies can be very good...I did love the visual feast of MYST. So I think it is possible to do a visual feast that is interesting to explore...” Many recent games have tried similar effects, but only a few were successful. In the near future, Mr. Garriott plans to release a game called “Ultimate Collector.” “It is a game where you as a player start with an avatar and a home,” He said. “You travel around to garage sales, and flea markets, and other places to look for unusual, rare items....You can then bring them back to your home and study them or repair them or arrange them into collections.” In terms of current trends in the gaming industry, Mr. Garriott had some comments about how he is not necessarily the best judge of trends.
Richard Garriott’s favorite game is Plants Vs. Zombies, pictured at right.
Continued on page 29 Spring 2012 XP Boost 17
Fanboys The monsters of the gaming community By Diego G.
or the past decades they have been the entertainment for thousands of millions around the world. Video games have become an icon in todayâ€™s world, and a symbol for some cultures. Not to mention the creation of a multi-million dollar industry that seems to have no limit on its growth. As a result there is a worldwide gaming community, in which million interact by playing the wide variety of games. But, video games have also created a monster that terrorizes its community. What is this monster? The answer is the fanboy. For those who donâ€™t know what a fanboy is the basic definition is, an individual who is biased towards one game or gaming console; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, and PC. Fanboys have been around in the gaming community from the start, although they might have been known as hardware loyalist. One example is the Nintendo fanboy who invests so much both financially and emotionally for most of his or her life. Now with this new age of gaming more and more fanboys are being created much like an epidemic which poses a threat to the gaming community. The problem is how fanboys corrupt the gaming community.
Corruption is one of the things which we can all agree, severely affect a group of people. This is what is happening to those who are affiliated to the gaming community due to fanboys. The way fanboys corrupt the gamming community is manifested in one major way, the creation of fanboys which is interconnected to the demand to one certain type of game. Over the past years, more and more fanboys have been created mainly because of brainwash. Since fanboys are known
persuasive arguments. Another factor for the making of a fanboy according to knol.google.com is peer pressure. Now they do bring up some persuasive arguments. One of those arguments is that fanboys are beneficial for the gaming industry, but in reality they help one certain part of the gaming industry not the whole. This is the reason some gaming companies have flourished while others have fallen. Another argument is having chosen a game or gaming console for its legacy,
for being engaged in heated and short arguments of why they support is the best, they often come across individuals who would be influenced by their
that being having chosen something because the thing before it was good. This does bring up a good point, but what about a scenario in were the
game is just awful and you still have fanboys supporting it. Lastly Fanboys make the lives of those who work in the video gaming industry a nightmare. Take the blog written by a reviewer in blogcritics. org, who is defending the rating and comments for the legend of Zelda from a fellow reviewer. He describes how Fanboys of this franchise of games had bashed out, and complained about how they could have given the game that rating. This sort of scenario is why Fanboys are such a big problem in today gaming, they just make the lifeâ€™s of those that work in the video game industry and the video game community that much harder. If Fanboys really cared about their game then they should take the advice that is given to
them into consideration, and by doing just that their game will progress. Something has to be done for fanboys to leave the gaming community. They cannot go unchecked, and the only way to stop them now is only by stopping their growth in the community. If this is not done now then soon there will be all out fanboy wars that will destroy the community of gamers.
Video Games Cause Violence? BY WALTER O.
iolence. It’s in TV, video games, books, and real life – but are all these instances linked? Can the violence experienced in a video game translate to real murder and crime? Many parents and politicians seem to think so. There are several movements to limit and even ban the sale of violent video games, but will it really keep violence down? No. Or at least that’s the way I see it. Video games have been around for twenty, maybe thirty years. Can anyone tell me how long children, and the human race in general, have been violent? Millennia even before we were fricken sentient. We hunted, and maimed, but that was for survival. We were gathering food, protecting our territory, and defending our young from predators . But the Christians wouldn’t have starved if they hadn’t gone on the Crusades. Germany was not going to die if they didn’t try to take over the world in WWI. Nobody was going to start eating Roman children if they didn’t conquer Britannia. Violence is part of human nature. Everybody’s got it, just below the surface. It’s ingrained in our very DNA. Part of the reason that cells started to develope is that a string of genetic code started to form ways to kill other strings of genetic code, and the strings of genetic code that got inside the little bubbles of phospholipids floating around the primordial soup had a better chance of surviving. But this is all just me rambling. Not that it isn’t true, but if you
“the FBI has reported a decline in violent adolescet behavior” don’t want to take my word for it, there are plenty of more credible people who don’t see the evidence of violent video games causing real life violence. I’ll start with, hmm, maybe some of the most powerful people in America: the FBI. According to USNEWS.com, the FBI has reported a decline in violent adolescent behavior, and an increase in
the popularity of violent video games. The one problem I have with this is that, with a few notable exceptions, correlation is not causation. But this is still a good starting point. There have been several studies into the effects of violent images on the brains of adolescents. MSNBC has covered a study comparing the effects on the brain of playing Need For Speed (a racing game) for a week versus playing Medal
“If the researchers wanted a good comparison they should have replaced Speed with Portal or Minecraft.” of Honor: Frontline (an FPS). The study showed decreased brain activity in both groups. However, there was a greater decrease in activity in the group that played Medal of Honor: Frontline, plus an apparent increase in the part of the brain responsible for emotional arousal. According to the research, the only difference between the two games was the amount of violence. Excuse me while I laugh. This is like comparing the aerodynamics of an arrow and a boulder and then saying the only difference between the two objects is that the boulder doesn’t have a pointy tip. If the researchers wanted a good comparison they should have replaced Speed with Portal or Minecraft. Granted, both those games have a little violence in them, but they are far cries from realistic FPS games like Medal of Honor or Call of Duty. Something else that really tests my temper is (going a bit off topic, but bear with me) groups of people saying video games are “evil.” If you could make the point that if video games do cause increased aggression, then you could maybe justify this label, but what about all the other things that encourage violence? Is football evil? Is Futball? Maybe we should ban rugby while we are getting rid of aggression sparks. Heck, even in baseball batters sometimes charge the mound to beat up the pitcher.
IMAGES COURTESY OF CHINESE-LETTER.COM AND OLEG MELNYCHUK’S BLOG ON OPERA.COM
We need to protect those poor, sweet and innocent children from the horrible sight of one man running full speed at another man, in the off chance that: (A) The pitcher lacks the good sense to get the heck out of there, (B) The umpire, catcher, and any other nearby people on the field fail to restrain the batter, (C) the batter draws a few drops of *gasp* blood, Or (D) both teams go into a brutal melee. I would like to apologize for going so far off topic, but that is still slightly related. I’m just trying to say that there is no solid evidence that violence in video games can cause violence in real life. Students have been dealing with paranoia against violence in schools that, often, fails to prevent the violence. I have only heard of a few reports of guns being brought into a public education establishment. Only one of these ended without casualty and that one was because another student brought the criminal down. It seems the world is so terrified of death and violence that we have forgotten that it’s not going to go away. The only real way to avoid major problems is to teach people about other outlets for this violence, like, you know, video games.
Top Five Design By Samuel M.
Led by Mr. Richard Garriott, this Mobile/Social game company is quickly brantching out, but still remains close to home, with both “Casual” games ant the highly secreitive “Ultamate RPG”.... Be excited for what happens next.
A small indipendent studio that developed the “cult classic” Magicka, and has continued to build Downloadable Content and develop a better system of Player vs. Player combat. Their new game is a online multiplayer, action-movie-fightscene based 2d-shooter, with LOTS of trope-based characters, called “The Showdown Effect”. I can’t wait.
5. Blizzard WoW. SC2. Diablo3. Nothing further.
It seems that Valve can do anything... except finish a trilogy. The “Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiave” is arriving soon, and DOTA 2 has been in beta for a while, but that’s how Valve works. Slow and steady. Very slow and steady.
SWTOR. Mass Effect. Dragon Age. ‘Nuff said.
>9000. EA NO. Just NO.
by Bobbie S. Jedi Knight sprints towards a group of savage Flesh Raiders – pasty-fleshed monsters with bulging eyes – pulling out her lightsaber as she runs. With a few well-practiced strikes she fells her opponent and moves on to the next one. After only a few seconds, her enemies lay dead, and she kneels briefly to search the bodies. This may sound like a scene straight out of a classic Star Wars movie – but in fact, it’s what gamers all over the world are doing in BioWare’s first MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Until 2008, BioWare, while having released many RPGs, has never tried its hand at an MMO. But now the success of its initial effort can be seen in The Old Republic (or SWTOR), which had over one million registered players in the first 24 hours after its launch on December 20, 2011. How was SWTOR created, and what makes it so unique that it got over a million players in the first day after launch, as well as more than 100 awards? Like any story,
A Jedi Shadow, one of the player classes in SWTOR.
© 2011 Lucasfilm Ltd.
the best place to start is the beginning. “There were rumors that there was a Star Wars MMO being developed for a long time,” said Omar Gallaga, the tech columnist at the Austin-American Statesman, in an interview with XP Boost. “But I don’t think it was until a year and half, two years ago that they actually came out publicly and said ‘We’re doing this.’” The BioWare studio in Austin headed the SWTOR project, which let Gallaga do some in-depth research on the game. He wrote several articles and even went on a tour of the studio. “The main difference between it and a normal office is that there’s a lot of Star Wars memorabilia,” he said. “When you first walk in there’s a big statue of a Sith Lord in the lobby. They’re just surrounded by Star Wars stuff.” The studio’s had plenty of time to acquire these Star Wars artifacts. The SWTOR project was first started in 2006, which means that BioWare has been working on the game for six whole years.
Lots of money has gone into SWTOR as well as time: It took about $200 million to develop, compared to $40-50 million for most other MMOs. In fact, SWTOR is the most expensive video game ever developed. “There’s just a handful of [other MMOS], probably five or six, that are anywhere close to that size and that much of a money and time investment,” said Gallaga. And it appears that BioWare’s investment is paying off. Six weeks after SWTOR’s launch, it had sold over two million copies of the game and had 1.7 million active subscribers
— while SWTOR costs money to play, many gamers seem to find it worth the cost. In one of its press releases, BioWare claims that SWTOR is “the fastestgrowing subscription MMO in history.” It’s difficult to find facts that back up this claim, but SWTOR does have an element to attract players that other MMOs lack, says Gallaga. “It’s one of the first MMOs to really do the story right. I’m not a huge Star Wars geek anymore, but the stories themselves are interesting enough to keep me wanting to play.” In other MMOs, Gallaga adds, the
missions feel like a list to be checked off, whereas in SWTOR he genuinely cares about finishing them. SWTOR is set in a similar time to BioWare’s previous Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic, 300 years before the war that is the setting of the Star Wars movies. Before SWTOR, Sony Entertainment Online attempted to launch Star Wars Galaxies, another Star Wars MMORPG. However, SWG was set at the time of the Galactic War, shortly after the destruction of the Death Star. In Gallaga’s opinion, the difference in setting is what sets
Players battle an Annihilation Droid in the “Eternity Vault” Flashpoint, a mission for up to 4 people. 26
© Lucasfilms Ltd.
© 2011 Lucasfilm Ltd.
Rebuplic-siding players fight to take out ‘Hover-Tanks’ in the “Explosive Conflict” Operation, a mission for larger groups. SWTOR apart from SWG. “BioWare was really smart to sidestep [setting the game during the movies] and set SWTOR during the Old Republic era,” he explains. “They can get away with a lot more and had a lot more leeway where they could tell their own stories.” Ironically, SWG’s servers shut down just five days before SWTOR launched. While KOR was a single-player RPG, SWTOR keeps many of BioWare’s previous game’s original aspects, such as voice-acting for characters and the abovementioned focus on story. In fact, according to several reviews, SWTOR is very similar to previous BioWare single-
player RPGs. “[SWTOR is] unique for an MMO in that you can play a lot of it as single-player. That single-player story has to be strong enough to keep you interested, and they’ve done a really good job with that,” says Gallaga. Other gamers don’t feel quite the same way, however. Criticisms abound on the Internet denouncing SWTOR for too much focus on the single-player storyline and not enough on large group missions. And although it’s true that all of BioWare’s other games have been single-player RPGs, SWTOR is not completely without multiplayer aspects. BioWare calls the game’s smaller
group missions “Flashpoints,” and describes them as “action-packed, story-driven adventures that test a group of players to their limits, putting them up against difficult foes in volatile situations.” Even in these missions, a great focus is put on the plot. “The stories in [Flashpoints] are even better” than those in the rest of the game, Gallaga says. But he acknowledges that there aren’t a lot of large-scale group missions. “I think that as the game continues, [BioWare will] add bigger missions and stuff for bigger groups. They’ll have to keep adding challenges to keep the veteran players interested.”
continued on page 30 Spring 2012 XP Boost 27
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Gaming With Garriot, cont. from pg 16 “...When the IBM PC came out I was already a game developer and when I looked at those two machines and I said that the Apple is clearly better,” He said. “Surely all the other consumers in the world are as smart as I am and they will all buy Apples. And so I kept developing on the Apple because it was better. But that does not mean, I learned the hard way, that what I think is not what everybody else thinks.” Garriott is hesitant to make too many predictions about the future of the industry except that it will be something no one predicts. He pointed out that twenty years ago everyone thought we were a few years away from virtual reality. The movie industry, he mentioned, took a good thirty years to standardize their production. “That’s a little more complicated - here’s an analogy you might find interesting. I don’t know how much you know about the movie industry. The movie industry was started about a hundred years ago and the games industry was only started twenty or thirty years ago. But if you look at the movie industry, for the first twenty or thirty years well movies were on a piece of film that would advance one screen at a time and light would project through it to flicker on a screen – but at the very beginning how big that piece of film was not standardized, one company used one size and another a different size. Also how fast the flicker rate went, which ended up being about 60 hertz or with animation about 30 hertz, that was not standardized. How long a movie was - is a movie supposed to be an hour and a half or ten minutes or five hours long.” Although this took awhile to even out in movies, it will likely take longer in gaming. “There are so many new engines coming out - in the movie industry you can buy a camera, hire a director, sit down and make a movie – in the game industry it is still experimental there’s a lot more experimentation still going on - and so if you ask what engines I think are best, it’s a very complicated question to answer because each game brings new…if you asked me this question two years ago I wasn’t as big a mobile gamer as I am now so I would have given you an answer biased by looking at social media sites and flash or something.” However, he recognizes the rise of mobile gaming. After all, all zombies must die, and iOS is where Garriott (and his plants) do their part. /haveaniceday
Garriot displaying Ultma art (above) and Akalabeth (below)
Samuel M. interviewing Richard Garriott
Thank you Mr. Garriott!
Star Wars: The Old Republic cont. from pg 26 BioWare has added three larger-scale group missions called “Operations” to SWTOR since Gallaga last played the game, including one called “Explosive Conflict” that was released with the April 12 update (Update 1.2). They are designed for eight or sixteen players, versus Flashpoints’ two to four. Still, as Gallaga remarks with a laugh, that’s nowhere near World of Warcraft’s fifteen hundred-strong group quests. “But we’re not resting!” said Greg Zeschuk, Co-Founder of BioWare, in a press release. “We’re actively listening to our community for ongoing feedback to help us ensure the game continues to improve.” True to their word, BioWare has released two major game updates in less than six months after SWTOR’s launch. These updates have fixed several issues that players have complained about, such as the flexibility (or lack thereof) of the User Interface, which garnered comments on both the MMORPG.com and the IGN.com review, and which BioWare commented was one of the “most sought-after game enhancements.”
Even before the updates, SWTOR received over 100 awards and positive reviews from critics around the world. In 2011 it received nine awards for “Best MMO,” including one from GameSpy. “I think what they have going for it is BioWare’s track record, their ability to tell good stories, and the continuing interest in Star Wars,” Gallaga says. “It’s a game worth checking out and it really represents the state of where MMOs are right now.” When he interviewed BioWare developers, Gallaga learned that they have a definite plan for SWTOR for the next several years. “They have a pretty good, solid idea of what they want to do for the next year or two,” he says. Like millions of other gamers, Gallaga eagerly awaits the next installment continuing saga of Star Wars: The Old Republic, hoping that BioWare’s game will live up to its early expectations. “And then five years out, I’m sure they anticipate that they’ll still be working on it and still adding to it.”
Mission Complete Thanks for reading XP Boost! Spring 2012
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