Mechwarrior Online Clan invasion finally arrives

Since December of 2013 MechWarrior online has been trying to entice players back into the game by offering packages for the Clan mechs. This June those that purchased those packs finally can More »

Hearthstone – the free card game from Blizzard

First off I’m not into those card games.  I never got into Magic the Gathering or anything similar so when my friends asked me to try out Hearthstone I was reluctant.  Turns More »

Is a Dual Band router worth it?

After increasing my Internet bandwidth I figured it was time to upgrade the router.  I did a little research on what was the best router out there and what were the best More »

Vapor store owner responds to controversy

It seems that the there are stories  in the news lately about towns wanted to ban e-cigarettes with the same level that traditional cigarettes are banned.  Others are worried that the new More »

Netflix increases rates by $1 for new customers

Netflix had warned last month that they were planning on raising their rates. Some current subscribers were worried that this would affect them as well but recently Netflix sent out emails explain More »

Wing Commander fans rejoice

It was the early 90′s that I first got a chance to see Wing Commander which came out on various platforms such as the PC, SNES, Amiga and others. I tried them More »

Call of Duty Player calls SWAT on opponent

  The Long Beach Police Department was involved in a two hour standoff.  Photo credit: Victor Alcorn, AP   A Call of Duty player got so upset that  Rafael Castillo was able to beat More »

 

FTC: Tmobile made millions in crammed charges

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WASHINGTON (AP) – T-Mobile USA knowingly made hundreds of millions of dollars off its customers in potentially bogus charges, a federal regulator alleged Tuesday in a complaint likely to mar the reputation of a household name in wireless communications.

In its complaint filed in a federal court in Seattle, the Federal Trade Commission claimed that T-Mobile billed consumers for subscriptions to premium text services such as $10-per-month horoscopes that were never authorized by the account holder. The FTC alleges that T-Mobile collected as much as 40 percent of the charges, even after being alerted by other customers that the subscriptions were scams.

“It’s wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent,” said FTC Chair Edith Ramirez in a statement. “The FTC’s goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.”

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a separate inquiry into T-Mobile’s billing practices, which could result in fines if it finds any wrongdoing.

The practice is often referred to as “cramming”: businesses stuff a customer’s bill with bogus charges associated with a third party. In this case, the FTC says T-Mobile should have realized that many of these premium text services were scams because of the high rate of customer complaints. In some cases, the FTC says, as many as 40 percent of customers demanded refunds in a single month on certain services.

The FTC said one way for consumers to try to prevent fraudulent charges is to ask their providers to block all third-party businesses from providing services on their phones.

T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile US, Inc., is a publicly traded company. According to its website, Deutsche Telekom AG maintains a 67 percent ownership in the company’s common stock.

Sprint Corp., the third-largest cellphone carrier, is in talks to buy T-Mobile US Inc., according to published reports. Analysts believe such a link-up would face stiff opposition from the same regulators who blocked AT&T from buying T-Mobile in 2011.

T-Mobile’s stock fell 10 cents to $33.52 in afternoon trading.

 

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Mechwarrior Online Clan invasion finally arrives

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Since December of 2013 MechWarrior online has been trying to entice players back into the game by offering packages for the Clan mechs. This June those that purchased those packs finally can finally play those mechs. At first I wasn’t sure how well this sell would go since the packages started at $30 dollars and to get all 8 mechs you had to spend $240. They even had a golden mech that you could buy for $500 and claimed that the most loyal players would purchase those. It upset the player base pretty much which told the developer PGI that this was a blatant cash grab.

I waited to do this article for a few weeks after the clan mechs had come out for a few reasons.  First reason was since they were just released there would obviously be a few slip ups or issues which MechWarrior Online had when their servers could not handle the injection of the mechs into the players accounts when they first logged in.  In order to remedy this they turned on the public test servers to offload some of the players and later added a free mechbay and a day of premium time for those that played during a certain time period.  I think they handled that slip up rather well and think perhaps in the future they should load the mechs into the players accounts ahead of time during maintenance for the big push and then allow injections for microtrans afterwards.  It’s what they did for us in the beginning but they wanted to try out their new tool and it got them.

I also didn’t expect to see that many clan mechs at first and figured after many of the inner sphere pilots would face enough clan mechs then they would cry foul, claim the clan mechs were over powered and claim that PGI turned the game into pay to win. Which of course many did and I’ve noticed over the weeks that the amount of clan mechs on the field have increased.  This is good for a few reasons.  First it’s good for the game that means there is a cash injection the game probably really needs as some of the original backers were upset due to the lack of community warfare that we have been waiting on and claimed they would not spend any money until we get it.  Two I doubt we will see community warfare until there is a healthy balance of clan and inner sphere mechs so the more folks that are fielding clan mechs the sooner I believe the developers will start perhaps faction drops.  Players can do their own faction drops though now by utilizing the private match maker.

The real question though is the clan mechs that much better than the Inner Sphere mechs?  Well according to battletech lore they should be and in fact clans would bid against each other for the glory of combat and which ever group bid the least amount of forces to take the objective had the chance to prove it in combat.  Often times the Inner Sphere mechs outnumbered the clan mechs in combat yet would still loose the battle due to superior pilots, better mechs and weapons.  The clanners had an honor code though that they had to follow in combat and the Inner Sphere pilots eventually learned how to use that against them.

The developers of MechWarrior said it would be too difficult to enforce the honor code which is probably true but they also refused to balance clan verses inner sphere by numbers.  Instead to balance the clan mechs they actually nerfed many of their weapons and limited some of the mech customizations.   The clan ER PPC is supposed to do 15 points of damage vs the Inner Sphere version at 10 points.  To balance this the weapon will do 10 to the initial spot and 2 more to the sides and if there is no location to side the damage is a miss.  The clan ER Lasers have a really long range but have a longer burn time in order to do the full damage.  This means the clan mechs must be facing their target longer to do the full damage which exposes them to damage.

I mentioned they limited the customization of the mechs which were known in lore to be more customizable than the Inner Sphere mechs.  Currently the clans can not switch out the engines, change the armor type or internal structure type while an Inner Sphere mech can.  Clan mechs can however swap out which hard points are in the arms and torsos,  by swapping them with other variants of the same chassis. This gives them more flexibility in their firepower which is really what the clan mechs superiority is really about.  Most of the small clan mechs deal out as much damage as mechs much larger than them allowing them to take down heavier mechs than themselves.  As the developers have said in videos the clan mechs take more skill to pilot but in the hands of a good pilot they will be deadly.

When the clan mechs first launched I had no problems bringing down the superior mechs however each time I targeted one and saw the weapons loadout some of them were carrying my jaw would just drop.  I sure didn’t want to brawl one and many of them had ranged weapons that equaled or were better than mine.  I learned that clan mechs required hit and run tatics against them or hope that they didn’t return fire against you.  Some of their mechs were limited in turns such as their 100 ton Diashi/Dire Wolf and if you circled him and stayed to his side you could keep his deadly firepower off of you while you chipped away the weapons in his arms.  I piloted a 65 ton Jaggermech with 3 Autocannon 5′s which of course do 5 points of damage each pop plus 2 medium lasers which also do 5 points of damage and managed to take out the Dire wolfs and the timber wolfs which are many clan favorite mechs.  These timberwolf is a fast heavy mech with a lot of firepower and I was chased by a few but if you can get them distracted and catch them off guard you can take them out.

I’ve noticed this week though the clan pilots are getting better and there is many more clan mechs.  I’m actually starting to die earlier in the match so I can watch some of my team mates play in a clan mech and their cockpits have been done very nice, their weapons sound intimidating and do some serious damage.  I won’t buy a clan mech package myself since I prefer to play as an Inner Sphere pilot and like the challenge of facing a superior opponent.  I’m just hoping that soon the developers put in faction drops so we can do some Inner Sphere versus Clan matches.  Until then I’ll have to avoid the urge of firing upon my teammate with his Timberwolf.

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Hearthstone – the free card game from Blizzard

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First off I’m not into those card games.  I never got into Magic the Gathering or anything similar so when my friends asked me to try out Hearthstone I was reluctant.  Turns out the game had a tutor system that teaches you how to play and I was already familiar with the characters from my days of playing World of Warcraft so I figured I would try it.

The tutor system tells a short story as you play as your first character.  They show you how you later earn more cards as your character levels up.  You start off with only one character but after the story line is done you can challenge a computer controlled character or a random player.  Each time you beat a new character you unlock it as a playable character for yourself.

There are also quests in the game that varies each day.  If you complete the quests you earn 40 coins.  Each win you earn another 10 coins.  If you earn 100 coins you can buy a new deck of cards and win random cards.  If you want a good deck fast you can spend real money in the game to purchase cards or pick up a prepaid card at your local store and convert it.  In game you can buy 2 packs for $2.99, 7 packs for $9.99 or 15 for $19.99.

You can even craft cards in the game.  You do this by disenchanting special cards and using the dust you earn from disenchanting cards you don’t want to make new cards.  It obviously takes several cards to make one and some cards cost more to make.  There are many minion cards that work across multiple characters but all characters have cards specifically for their deck including some of the rare and legendary cards.

Each deck you play with has 30 cards and cards are randomly drawn.  If you play a minion card you can normally attack with it the next round unless it’s a special card with charge then it can attack the round it’s placed.  Each hero (character) has special abilities as well and there are some secret cards as well that are triggered into effect when certain events happen.  Each hero has 30 health points and the object of the game is to destroy your opponent hero.  There are many direct attacks that heroes can do against other heroes or some area affect spells that destroy many of the minions.

The game can be played currently on PC, Mac or the Ipad.  Like I said the game is free to play and parents can lock out purchases using parental controls.  I learned that after my son wanted me to unlock his account so he could buy some cards.  For the Ipad you need to lock purchases on the device itself.  To sign up you just need a battlenet account.

I’ve got a sample video down below showing some game time between a friend and myself.  She pulls out a legendary card on the second game and it’s a deadly little card.

 

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Apple Settles E-Book Antitrust Case with States

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June 17 (Reuters) – Apple Inc reached an out-of-court settlement with U.S. states and other complainants in an e-book price-fixing class action lawsuit on Monday, effectively avoiding a trial in which the iPad maker faced more than $800 million in claims.

U.S. District Judge in Manhattan Denise Cote ordered the parties to submit a filing to seek approval of their settlement within 30 days.

The terms of the settlement, which still needs court approval, have not been revealed.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers in April 2012, accusing them of working together illegally to increase e-book prices.

Since then, 33 states and U.S. territories have separately sued Apple on behalf of their consumers, while individual consumers in other states and territories filed a class action lawsuit.

The complainants are seeking up to $840 million in damages for e-book customers. The exact amount of damages was to be litigated at a trial scheduled for July 14.

The publishers – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster Inc, previously agreed to pay more than $166 million to settle related antitrust charges.

Last July, a federal court found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers after a separate non-jury trial in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Judge Cote found that Apple took part in a price-fixing conspiracy to fight online retailer Amazon.com Inc’s dominance in the e-book market.

Apple is appealing that decision and Monday’s settlement is contingent on the outcome of that appeal.

“As set forth in the memorandum of understanding, any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal,” Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, wrote in a letter to the judge.

Berman declined to comment on the settlement until the final papers are filed. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, also declined to comment on the settlement.

The cases are in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, case no: 11-md-2293 and 12-cv-03394. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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Is a Dual Band router worth it?

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After increasing my Internet bandwidth I figured it was time to upgrade the router.  I did a little research on what was the best router out there and what were the best routers for the price.   After all there are many dual band routers out there they proclaim that you get extra bandwidth since you are running on two separate channels.

I ended up purchasing the  NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band WiFi Gigabit Router (R7000).
It boasts a 1 ghz dual core processor and Wifi speeds up to 600 + 1300 Mbps.  It says it could support 12 devices and some make think that is a little much but when you now consider how many devices in your house hold use Wi-fi it adds up fast. My thought was also that I was purchasing a bit for the future.  I had purchased an older Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Router many years ago and was very happy with it and in fact later upgraded to a new one but burned it out within a few months.  That kept me away from new routers until just recently.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the cable company said that for Netflix you needed 5-6 megs down stream and I have a son who also likes to watch a lot of videos via YouTube and watch streams on Twitch which also take up bandwidth.   So I figured I should get a router that could work well today and several years into the future.

I got the new router hooked up and it was actually fairly easy with their installation wizard which also updated the firmware for me.  It prompted me through some of the configuration and had me set up two different SSID’s for the 2.4ghs and the 5 ghz connections. It’s beautiful router and a little bigger than some I’m used too but the Amazon review already explained that so I was ready.  I also liked that it had 3 different antennas which uses their Beamforming+ which is supposed to help amplify connections and find out which channel works best with your device according to their documentation.

After everything was setup I started connecting devices to the new wireless connections.  My printer ended up using the 2.4 connection as well as my PS3.  I expected my wife’s new laptop to connect at the higher frequency only to find out it connected at the 2.4.  In fact most of my devices ended up using the 2.4 range.  So why did I buy a dual band router?  Well turns out the phones connected to the 5 ghz connection as well as the tablet.   So even though the company is bragging how fast the new connection is if 80% of your devices are sharing the same frequency then you won’t really see a big speed boost improvement.  The router is still a solid little router and the signal is boosting through out the house where we had issues previously with the last router.  I could purchase a 5 ghz wireless card for the laptops but 5 ghz has a shorter range than 2.4 anyway.

Overall I’m happy with the router as my wife’s laptop can pick up signal anywhere in the house and it’s a strong fast signal compared to the router the cable company had provided.  I’m also saving money by not renting a sub-par router for $9 a month.  The features the router has for parental controls appears to be quite extensive and plan on doing another write-up later on how to set those up.   The setup was quite simple and I now know that the different devices in the house are now running on different frequencies.  Perhaps the devices I was hoping would connect at the higher frequency didn’t but then again for streaming I should be using tablets or other devices designed for streaming instead of equipment that adapted to it.  In fact the router has a built-in Quality of Service (QoS) to give priority to gaming and video streaming so overall I should see an improvement.

 

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Vapor store owner responds to controversy

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It seems that the there are stories  in the news lately about towns wanted to ban e-cigarettes with the same level that traditional cigarettes are banned.  Others are worried that the new flavored vapor flavors are meant to entice teens into smoking.  I figured I should just go the source and talk to a store owner of one of these local vapor shops who is also a mother and find out what she thinks.

I told May Leach, owner of Crush Vapor Electronic Cigarettes that when I first had heard about Electronic Cigarettes I thought the point of them was to help people quit smoking and thought originally that was good and inquired if they still help do that.   She responded that when she first heard of them she thought they were weird and stated the first one she tried looked just like a cigarette but was a bit heavier and the flavor was gross. She admitted she tried it to help her quit smoking but the first one she tried didn’t appear to help.

I inquired about the different types of electronic cigarettes out there.  Leach responded “Yes there are many different kinds. After trying the one from the gas station with no luck I tried a friend’s e-cig. It was a long battery with a tank on top that you could fill up with your own e-juice. Then there are really big e-cigs that require you to use a larger battery that you can actually remove, recharge and rebuild. There are still the ones out there that look like a cigarette and they come with flavored cartridges that already have the e-juice in them.

I inquired about the flavors and when they started coming out.  Leach answered “The flavors started coming out when vapors wanted something other than tobacco flavored e- juice. Just like cigarettes only come in really two flavors tobacco and menthol. That is because years ago the FDA regulated cigarettes and flavored cigarettes were no longer able to be sold in the US. I just wonder why alcohol is sold on shelves like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and many other retail shops where children’s eyes are in plain view of the alcohol they come in many flavors, colors, bottle designs all of which are attractive. They are to me when I see the pretty bottles and I do not drink.  

Since we are talking about flavors I decided to ask the question regarding flavors and how many people are saying they are marketed to children.  She rebutted with “It is a lack of education. It is an excuse that BIG tobacco and BIG PHARM used as leverage to force the FDA and others to take action and caused untrue and outrageous non-scientific evidence to be released to the public to scare them. I just wonder why alcohol is sold on shelves like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and many other retail shops where children’s eyes are in plain view of the alcohol and alcohol comes in many flavors, colors, bottle designs all of which are attractive. They are to me when I see the pretty bottles and I do not drink. As a shop owner I do not sell to people under 18. Children didn’t learn about smoking from gas stations and stores that sold cigarettes. They learn it from family, friends and the media about smoking. Most children that have tried a cigarette got their first one from mom, dad, uncle aunt, and friends. Not from a store.

I asked May if a teenager walked into her store would she sell to them.  She told me that if a teenager was under 18 she would ask that they return with their parents.  She also added that she would rather see a teen vape than smoke.

When I posed the question regarding the regulation of selling cigarettes online she was not against it.  Leach felt it’s our right to purchase things online.

While doing some research I found out that some electronic Cigarettes juices don’t even have nicotine in them and wondered the purpose behind them.  Leach responded with “The flavors taste good. It helps some people with appetite and cravings. Vape a flavor like chocolate cake and chances are you wont go eat that piece of cake for real. Some people also want to lower their nicotine levels for their own personal reasons.

Nicotine appears to enhance concentration[15] and memory due to the increase of acetylcholine. It also appears to enhance alertness due to the increases of acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Arousal is increased by the increase of norepinephrine. Pain is reduced by the increases of acetylcholine and beta-endorphin. Anxiety is reduced by the increase of beta-endorphin. Nicotine also extends the duration of positive effects of dopamine[16] and increases sensitivity in brain reward systems.”

Okay so what about all of these harmful chemicals I keep hearing about such as formaldehyde, Nitrosamines or even lead? “I have heard of this before however, there has been no evidence proven so far that these things are true. I only use a few ingredients to make my e-juice.

Propylene Glycol (food grade)  

  • Vegetable Glycerin (food grade)
  • Candy flavoring
  • And or Nicotine

All of these are approved by the FDA and all are GRAS (generally regarded as safe) there are over 4000 know chemicals and carcinogen’s in tobacco cigarettes Leach answered.

Wait.  What?  You make your own juice? Yes I make my own e-juice. I have a room in my store in the back that is kept supper clean and I have all the proper equipment that I use in order to have great accuracy. So I know what is in the products I make and I know it will not hurt you. I order all of the ingredients like PG VG flavors and nicotine. I come up with flavors that people will love and will help them quit tobacco. Most of my customers do not even want tobacco flavors they want fruit flavors and sweet flavors. “, she replied.

Okay I have to admit that’s cool but seriously should I worry about where I get my juice from?  I’m hearing that some stuff comes from China and is bad.  Remember when kids toys came back with lead paint?

Leach answered “Yes I have heard of things coming out of China that may or may not contain ingredients that may be extremely harmful if inhaled. I do not buy any liquid products from China. I know their track record is not that great when it comes to products they make or foods they produce. Look at it this way how often has Chinas products showed harmful or deadly additives as compared to the US having addicted millions if not billions of people to DRUGS regulated by the FDA? Not only that our food is GMO our health care is funded by BIG PHARM and BIG TOBACCO. As to the lead paint well the chemicals US water bottle companies use and soda and any type of plastic products that if given the right amount of time and heat will leech chemicals into your product your about to drink or eat will do to you. The bottom line is that the people who want to regulate e-cigs are the same people who made cigarettes and the same people who have kept them on the market for so long. They knew cigarettes killed people but did nothing. Now they want to take the only safer alternative away from us?? They had their chance! Mostly horror stories.”

Okay so back to regulations that folks are proposing.  There are already smoking bans in some cities and some want to ban the electronic cigarettes as well stating that there is harmful second hand smoke.  According to Leach this is just a bunch of bull.  She states that there is no second hand vapor, and that it will not affect anyone else.  According to her there is no foul odor, no second hand smoke and best of all no more bad smell.  It is after all just vapor.

I asked her to describe what she sells in her store. To which she replied, “I sell all sorts of products. Like batteries, e-juice, tanks, accessories and pretty much anything you need to stop smoking and start vaping. This is a healthier alternative to smoking. There are no carcinogens in e-juice. Smoking kills millions of people. Vaping will not cause COPD, emphysema, stroke, heart attack, or any other smoking related problems. It’s water vapor!”

May Leach is the owner of Crush Vapor Electronic Cigarettes.  The website to her store is  www.crushyourbutt.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Netflix increases rates by $1 for new customers

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Netflix had warned last month that they were planning on raising their rates. Some current subscribers were worried that this would affect them as well but recently Netflix sent out emails explain that current customers would have a two year grace period.

 

I got my email Friday which read the following:

Hi Kevin,

In order to continue adding more movies and TV shows, we are increasing our price from $7.99 to $8.99 for new members. As a thank you for being a member of Netflix already, we guarantee that your plan and price will not change for two years.

You can review your membership details at any time by visiting Your Account. As always, if you have questions, we are happy to answer them. Please call us at any time at 1-888-357-1516.

–The Netflix Team

 

I wonder how much they planned for those two years.  There are already reports that some Internet Service Providers will be charging companies like Netflix a premium to not slow down their service.

I was at the local internet company yesterday trading in the modem for a new one and overheard the service rep telling a prospective customer that he needed more than that standard ten meg connection.  He stated if both the customer and their spouse wanted to both watch Netflix it requires about 6 megs of bandwidth per user and that the 10 meg connection wouldn’t cut it and that they should use the 15 meg connection. Turns out according to Netflix for HD connections you only need 5 megs.  It’s interesting to note that if you want 4K quality streaming you will need a 25 megabit connection.

I had recently upgraded to the new speed myself which is why I was trading in the modem for a faster one plus purchased a new wireless router to handle the number of devices in the house hold.  I’ve done some speed tests since then and I am now getting the full 15 meg download speed which I wasn’t with the rented equipment from the provider.

So what happens if the Internet Providers do in turn start charging Netflix to set their product as a premium product and not throttle the service.  Wouldn’t Netflix need to pass those charges on or will they somehow eat those costs or will Netflix have to break their promise that they just emailed to me?  I guess we will have to wait and see.

 

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Wing Commander fans rejoice

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It was the early 90′s that I first got a chance to see Wing Commander which came out on various platforms such as the PC, SNES, Amiga and others. I tried them out on both the PC and the SNES and was griped by the combat and story lines. It was also fascinating to see how if you failed certain missions the game would start down a loosing path where your carrier and squadron would end up retreating or loosing the war. I sadly let that happen once and started all over to remedy the situation. There were other games that came out later such as wc3Wing Commander 3 and 4 which had Mark Hamilton from Star Wars playing as your character and you actually got to make choices for him which would affect the game and storyline.

These games were developed by Chris Roberts who also developed other space games such as Privateer which had more of a space trader feel instead of a military pilot perspective. You could play as a bounty hunter, go run drugs and slave or become a pirate yourself and harvest other cargo ships.

Chris Roberts later went on to direct the Wing Commander Movie as well which a lot of fans didn’t like and it didn’t do well overall. Chris took some time off later from game development and even movie development.

He’s has now come back with an announcement of a new space simulator and the game is being developed by investments made by the community. As of this writing the game has raised $43 million which far exceeded what Chris had expected. Since so much of the game is actually already funded and yet they continue to raise more money more features are being planed for the game and counted as already funded.

sc1picAt first there will be a mission based game called Squadron 42 which will be similar to the previous Wing Commander games since you will be playing as a military pilot. After you finished those missions you will be granted access to what is called a persistent universe in which you can play many different roles. In the PU you can pilot many different spaceships of various sizes. Some will be single person fighters up to multi-crew corvettes and frigates. You can play as someone who wants to deliver cargo to distant worlds and space stations or go bounty hunting after pirates. You can become a pirate yourself and get a ship that will cut a hole through the hull of a damaged ship, board it and shoot the crew to salvage the ship. You can also take on an exploration role to find new systems or find ancient alien technology.

The new game Star Citizen will be running on Cryengine which currently MechWarrior Online uses but Star Citizen is employing so many more developers, with several having lots of experience, it will be interesting to see what is actually developed.

For awhile backers of the game who made pledges to purchase ships have had the ability to crawl around their ship in a module known as the hanger module. Towards the end of May it appears we will get what is known as the dogfighting module. It will be a simulator based game that will later be used as a training module when the game goes live.

All I know is that I played the original games when I was young and it’s fascinating that I now can share a newer fresher version of that game with my son.  I hope you enjoys it as much as I did in the past and in fact I hope I enjoy it as well.  Considering who is behind it and how many fans are already supporting this game you can help but feel the game is already a success.  Even though my pilot has only sat in the seat of his ship and not actually left the hanger yet I’m looking forward to the day that he can.  I’m hoping to make a lot of new friends and of course some rival groups as well.  See you in the verse.

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Mechwarrior Online Review

Long Range Missiles (LRMS) allow you to target mechs far away

 

 

 

 

 

For those that aren’t aware of this game or it’s franchise MechWarrior Online is often called the thinking man’s first person shooter.  The game is played by piloting a mechanized war machine also known as a mech that ranged from 20 tons in 100 tons in weight.  Each weight class has it’s roles from being a scout, a striker, a flanker, a support mech and full blown assault which is often used as a brawler.   You play as a pilot inside one of these hulking beasts and your job is to take out the enemy mechs.  Unlike most other first player shooters where you can kill your enemy with 1-2 shots mechs are armored machines that take multiple hits just to knock off the armor so you can get to the exposed engine for a kill.

 

Limbs are blown off in nice explosions

Limbs are blown off in nice explosions

There is 4 different weight classes which are Light, Medium, Heavy and Assault.  Each weight class has multiple chassis to choose from and each chassis will have multiple variants which will have different options in weapons, jump capabilities, speed and other factors.

There are 3 major type of weapons groups which are Energy Weapons, Missiles and Ballistics.  Each weapon group has different weapons of different ranges, damage and characteristics.  For instance in Energy you have a standard laser at 3 different ranges which does damage over time while you hold the laser beam on your opponent and melt away some of his armor.   These are actually the easiest to use for new players as it helps you adjust your aim better.  The other laser type is pulse which fires a burst of energy which has a shorter range but isn’t a damage of time type weapon.  The final Energy weapon is the PPC which sort of fires a projection of energy over a long distance and hits rather hard like a ballistic weapon.  It also has the ability to counter a mechs Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) system making it easier to target.   I won’t go into all the details of the other weapons type and suggest you take a look at what they have to offer.

Long Range Missiles (LRMS) allow you to target mechs far away

Long Range Missiles (LRMS) allow you to target mechs far away

The question is often asked which mech is the best and really no one can answer that question for you.  You must first figure out what your play style is.  Do you want to scout and find the enemy team for your teammates?  Do you wish to unload long range missiles on the enemy to soften them up while your teammates have the enemy targeted? Do you wish you stand toe to toe with the enemy and trade rounds of short range missiles, pulse lasers and auto-cannons and basically have a brawl with the enemy?  Do you wish to sneak up on one of the huge hulky beasts and hit it from the rear where the armor is weaker?  Do you wish to stand at long range and use a zoom module to snip at your opponents dealing damage when they can’t even see you?  There are multiple mechs for each of those roles.  For instance missile mechs can be slow moving stalkers with multiple missile launchers and rely on teammates to get missile locks for them and protect them.  While there are smaller mechs like the trebuchet that are quick and can get to the front lines, find the enemy fire a few rounds and retreat to higher ground before being found by the heavier mechs.   Again your play style will determine which mech is best for you and it’s really going to be trial and error.  I myself have changed my “favorite” mech quite a few times based upon the game changes in balance, mechanics and range of new mechs.

There are currently 3 different game modes in MechWarrior Online.  There is Assualt mode in which both teams have a base.  You can either wipe out the enemy team or capture their base.  In order to capture their base you stand upon the objective point and you slowly start capturing their base.  The more of your teammates that are there the faster you capture the point.  Most people that play this mode though still prefer to take down the majority of the enemy.  There was one point where teams would be formed of fast moving mechs that would sneaky behind the enemy and still their base before the enemies slow moving mechs could return.  The developers have currently added base defense in the forms of turrets that fire missles and lasers and enemy mechs.  These turrets can of course be taken out and it’s suggested to do so before attempting to capture the base.  The second mode is skirmish which is modeled after Assault with the exception that there is no base and the only way to win is to either destroy all of the enemy or kill off more enemy players than you have lost before the 15 minute time expires.  This mode gets a little frustrating as players can disconnect on purpose or accident and sometimes a match must go on for 6 or more minutes while the team hunts down that last disconnect or player actually hiding and shut down. The final mode is conquest whose main objective is to capture objectives similar to bases in assault mode except that there are no defenses.  For each base you have captured you start to collect resource points and the first team to reach 750 resource points win.  If you happen to eliminate the enemy team you automatically win as well and games are often won both ways.  The heavier mechs tend to fight one another while the fast moving mechs focus on capturing points.

As you win matches your earn in game currency known as C-bills and experience points(XP).  You earn XP for the mech you were piloting for that match.  You can then take the earned XP and apply it to skills for that mech that allows your pilot to handle the mech better such as reducing how much heat is generated while firing weapons or increasing the turn speed of the mech.  There are 3 sets of tiers of skills for each mech.  Basic, Elite and Master.  After you max out the basic skills on your mech you can still accumulate XP for that mech but can not spend anymore until you have maxed out basic on two other variants of the same chassis.  This is where the game grind actually comes in.  There is ways to transfer XP from one mech to another by the use of real world current known as Mech Credits or you can use your General XP that you have earned from matches and achievements.  You can also just grind out the 2 other chassis if you choose not to spend any real world cash.  You can buy the mechs with in game currency from your wins, modify them and grind them out.  Once all three variants have been maxed out you then unlock your elite skills and once you max out your elite skills you get a bonus of having your basic skills abilities doubled in efficiency making your pilot that much better in that mech.

There currently is not any territory capture metagame or endgame and players have been asking for the developers to hurry up and develop the community warfare modules but it appears that the developers aren’t even in the development phase yet of this feature.  During closed beta community warfare was told to the players that we would see this feature shortly after release and even though the community in closed beta begged them to hold off until community warfare was complete the game was officially released.  Later the players was told by the developers that the community warfare was being held up due to their User Interface (UI) and that once version 2.0 was rolled out they could release more content.  So far since UI 2.0 has rolled out we haven’t seen really much new content but have notices the developers can modify their special deal of the day without apply patches to do so.  They have finally released Direct X 11 support as well but some features of Direct X 11 are still lacking.

The developers are getting ready to release the clan invasion pack in June which will release another 8 chassis with 24 variants.  The clan pack will feature the Timberwolf/Madcat mech that has been iconic to the MechWarrior video game series since MechWarrior 2 which focus on Clan Wolf or Clan Jade Falcon.  Which could increase sales and perhaps bring in new players that have been waiting for those mechs to be released.

There have been some issues or changes regarding the clan mechs with one being that clan mechs were always superior than their Inner Sphere counterparts according to battletech lore and other MechWarrior titles.  In the table top versions of the game there was balancing done based upon number of mechs or battle value placed upon the mechs.  This often meant the clan forces were outnumbered in order to give the Inner Sphere pilots a chance.  In fact in the Battletech Lore clans would often bid against other clan factions to engage in a fight and the clan that pledged the least amount of forces would have the honor of doing the battle.  The developers have said they cannot implement this feature and instead would balance out the weapon systems of the clan mechs which are normally better weapon systems and reduce some of the customization of the clan mechs.  Customization features is normally the top thing players look for and in battletech and MechWarrior lore the clan mechs were in fact more easily customized than their Inner Sphere counter parts yet in MechWarrior Online we may actually come out with the opposite.  I’m an Inner Sphere pilot myself and like going against the superior force since winning would mean something.  I feel bad for the Clan mech pilots that have been waiting for two years to see their mechs only to have them already nerfed before released.

The other issue players are having with the introduction of clan mechs is the game still does not recognize faction and in fact you cannot currently mark yourself as a clan faction.  You can currently mark yourself as a Inner Sphere faction , Lone Wolf or a Mercenary but you cannot identify yourself to a unit, clan, guild or whatever other unit designator you want to use.  Currently the game will have enemy factions fighting along side each other often pitted against members of their own factions and sometimes friends.  Players would hoping we would at least have faction warfare by now where the game play would be faction verses faction.  Instead what it appears will have is that in June clan mechs will be fighting along Inner Sphere mechs which is not really an invasion.  A true invasion would of been Inner Sphere pilots vs. Clan Mechs but since we can’t even hold Inner Sphere vs Inner Sphere matches it’s unlikely we will see any true faction warfare for quite some time down the road.

I’m hearing that players will soon be able to hold private matches which will allow the players to simulate those faction wars which the community has done in the past with previous games that didn’t have the built in community warfare.  The problem is many of the original players feel so misled that some have already dumped the game and either moved on to other games or just stopped playing all together.  When the private matches arrive it will be interesting to see if it will bring back the team play and if the community will band back together try to bring the game alive.  It’s also possible that since we don’t even have true faction warfare yet and that clans will be playing along side Inner Sphere pilots which shouldn’t be happening in our current time line or the fact that a pilot can identify himself as a clan faction that the developer has shot themselves in the foot.  For the betterment of the game I hope the gamble paid off as I still hope that some day when I pilot my mech I’m actually defending the planet that my unit is assigned to defend.

You can try out MechWarrior Online for free at www.mwomercs.com

 

I currently play in game as a member of House Steiner and you can find me in game on my main account Stunner.  I’m a member of the 6th Lyran Guards which is member of the House Steiner Hub.  I have a twitch TV account  that I have just started along with a Youtube channel.

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Call of Duty Player calls SWAT on opponent

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The Long Beach Police Department was involved in a two hour standoff.  Photo credit: Victor Alcorn, AP

 

A Call of Duty player got so upset that  Rafael Castillo was able to beat him that he decided to call in the SWAT on him.  The loosing player was able to somehow track the ip address of Rafel and learn of his home address according to the New York Post.  He then placed a fake call to authorites claiming to be the young boy and that he had just killed his mother and threatened to kill others.  The 17 year old was busy playing video games and his mother was downstairs making coffee when SWAT showed up on her door step and urged her to leave the house.

The mother told the police that her son was still inside playing video games and police attempted to call him on his cell phone.  He didn’t bother to answer until his older brother called him and was able to get him to leave the house.  The emergency reponders then searched the house to make sure things were all clear.

According to Newsday the cost of law enforcement repsonding is estimated at $100,000 and they are looking for the prankster that called the Long Beach Police department directly using Skype instead of the traceable 911 services.

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