Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

I know this wont be of interest to most of my followers, but I know SOME of you are into video games and gaming.  Heather and I have finally started putting more work into our other blog, Very Busy Gamers, and have set up a Youtube channel as well.  We plan to do some “Let’s Play” style videos and will likely be posting other game-related content too.

If you’re interested, head over to our page and check out what we have so far.  It’s a work in progress but we’re going to be updating it pretty often now.  So far we only have videos up for Bioshock and Alan Wake, but we’ve already got enough content saved up for another week worth of videos and we’re making more every day.

If you’re NOT interested, or the sound of our voices drives you insane, that’s fine too.  No hard feelings.  🙂

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Over on my other blog I’ve been talking about a new video game I’ve been playing.  Since the gameplay is relevant for this blog, I decided that I would share it here as well.  The game is still over a year away from being complete but already I’m hooked.  I’ve been playing it just about every day after work . . . chores be damned!

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The scenery in this game is also pretty incredible. I play on very low settings to make it smoother but on high-res settings the game is BEAUTIFUL.  

So far, there aren’t a lot of guns in the game, but there are a few to play with like the Mosin, M4, and the SKS.  They seem to react in a real-enough way to simulate what it might be like to use one in real life.  Bullet drop as well as a delay for long distance shots is realistic and poses quite a challenge sometimes.  Ammo is also pretty scarce so you have to choose carefully whether or not to pull the trigger.

Surviving is hard and you’re required to stay healthy, well fed, and well hydrated, all while trying to live among zombies and other players.  The game demands that you prioritize medicine, food, and water, with firearms and other gear coming as you find it.  This part of it is a bit limited at this time.  Things are going to be added at some point like hunting/fishing so that should definitely add another element of survival to the game.  Currently you can only get food and water by venturing into towns and cities.  In servers that have a lot of people, this can be very dangerous and can keep even the most prepared players on edge.  Even without other players there are zombies to worry about too (although at this point they’re very buggy and not very much of a threat).

This is Phil.  He was friendly and we traveled together for a bit before going our separate ways.

This is Phil. He was friendly and we traveled together for a bit before going our separate ways.

What I like most about this game is that it sheds a light on what civilization might be like in a post-apocalypse type scenario.  Every human encounter I’ve had in the game has been very tense.  Sometimes that heavily armed guy running down the road waving in your direction might be bringing some supplies to weary travelers, but he might also be looking to put a bullet in your head for sport.  You never know what will happen; anyone can turn feral when survival is on the line.

If you like video games, and preparing for disasters, this is a fantastic game to try.  Its currently available on Steam for just $30.  As I said above, the game is still under development so there are a lot of bugs and glitches that occur, but you get all updates and patches for free.  When the game is complete and released it will likely sell for around $60.  Buying now is a great way to help the developers and just might save you some money in the long run!

The game has been out less than a week and I have to say it has absorbed quite a bit of my free time.  One of my co-workers has been playing with me a lot online and together we’re pretty hard to beat.  On more than one occasion my fiance has had to work extra hard to pry me away from the PS3.

My Thoughts

I have to say I was a little skeptical about this game.  I was always a huge fan of the Infinity Ward games (particularly Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2) but the new team at Infinity Ward hasn’t impressed me that much.  That said, this game removed all doubt.  The online multiplayer has been revamped and is better than ever.  While I still miss certain features from the Modern Warfare series, I welcome the new changes.

I haven’t played the campaign at all, so I can’t comment on that although I’ve heard its really cool.  I’ve focused strictly on the multiplayer at this point.  Typically my fiance plays the single player portions long before I do.  In my opinion, the campaign is just a bonus feature in these games.  Most of them last less than 5 hours and while they’re usually fun and impressive, I prefer spending my time climbing through the ranks online.

Online, I focus on playing as a sniper.  I have gotten very good over the years and my friends hate to play against me.  This game is very sniper-friendly, so I enjoy it a lot.  There are open lanes on just about every map, unlike previous games where certain maps just didn’t fare well for long range shooting.  I can play well using just about any type of weapon, but my slow and steady play style is better suited to using a weapon that often requires patience to master.

Becoming the Ghillie Monster

On Nov 7th, just before midnight,  just two days after the game released, I unlocked the ghillie suit for my characters.  My performance as a sniper in the game has increased exponentially.  The graphics in the game are extremely good and the ghille suit makes it very easy to blend into the environment.  I’ve had many people run right past me or struggle to see me, simply because I was wearing the suit.  What I’m saying is that it is well worth the effort to get it, and I’m not looking forward to the future when every sniper has it.

In past games, the ghillie suit was typically given to players after they completed certain challenges (several hundred “one-shot kills” I believe), so long as they equipped a sniper rifle as their primary weapon.  This game allows you to equip it to any character, but its a bit more difficult to acquire.

To get the ghillie suit, you need to have the “chrome barrel” attachment on your sniper rifle and complete the 3 chrome barrel challenges.  The first is 100 kills, the second is 250, and the third is 500.  So the total you have to get is 850 kills using the chrome barrel.  Not an easy feat by itself.

However, this game is also unique in that you don’t have access to every challenge at once.  In previous games you unlocked more challenges as you leveled up.  In this one, you’re given a certain amount in each category and they only change if you spend points you’ve earned or wait the 2 weeks between sets.  So in order to get the ghillie suit, you also have to make sure you have the chrome barrel challenges open in the Operations menu.

My suggestion for unlocking the ghillie suit, if you choose to do so, is get rid of all other loadouts that don’t contain a sniper rifle with a chrome barrel.  Doing this will force you to play as a sniper (which is possible on every map) and you’ll develop the play style you have to have instead of flipping back and forth and trying to maintain different skills.

By default you start with 3 loadouts available.  I used one with an ACOG scope and the other two with Variable Zoom scopes.  Variable zoom lets you play well on most of the maps and the ACOG gives you the flexibility you need on smaller or more urban maps.  Set the perks and equipment up for how you like to play (I like perks that hide me and equipment that protects me from behind) and you should be good to go.

Likes

There are a lot of things I like about this game so I’ll just focus on the things I like the most.  Since I haven’t played the campaign yet, this will focus only on the online multiplayer portion.

I really like that they’ve added game types.  I particularly like the addition of Infected.  I remember playing something like that in Halo once at a friends house.  Its a  lot of fun if you play with a group of friends.  Cranked is also pretty neat.  I’ve only played a few times but its different and I like that they tried to add something instead of relying on only what worked in the past.

The maps are really cool.  It takes a while to memorize the maps and until then its just a lot of running around like you’re lost.  Once you figure it out though they all have a lot of unique features.  My favorites by far are Warhawk and Octane since they have something to offer everyone from snipers to those guys with SMGs.

I think they balanced the weapons more.  From the time I’ve spent with the game it seems the weapons have been a little more balanced this time and I like that.  Other people may disagree but I still have nightmares from the first Black Ops where nobody used anything but sub machine guns because they were so powerful.

Dislikes

There are only a few things I don’t like about this game and they’re easy to get past.  During the first few hours I had a tough time with creating a class.  The addition of so many perks and the fact that depending on what specialty you give your character changes which perks you receive early made it a bit confusing.  It was quite a change from previous versions.  After a few hours though it got easier to figure out and now I have no problem at all (though I still prefer the older create a class systems).

While playing a match, the statistics screen (brought up with the select button on the PS3) has been moved.  Instead of being in the center of the screen, its now smaller and at the top right.  The benefit is that it can be left up while you play, but the downside is that its smaller and harder to read.

Muting players online.  This used to be easy from the statistic screen.  You simply highlighted a player and pushed the mute button.  Now you have to open the pause menu and select mute players.  At that point its pretty much the same, highlight a player and push mute.  Unfortunately it takes longer to do while playing and took a while to discover.  That meant I had to sit there listening to chipmunks and 13 year olds cuss back and forth the whole time.

They changed the challenges.  I always thought the challenge system they had was really good.  I don’t feel like the changes they made to that part of the game improved the experience at all.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of the online portion of past Call of Duty games, Ghosts will not disappoint.  My complaints about the game are minor and not worth worrying about (I’m just one of those people who hate change).  The game is well worth the $60 price tag.  If you don’t like that they release a slightly different version every year just to make money, then don’t buy it.  Its not significantly better than past games, and I definitely wont be trading my old ones in.  But I can say with absolute certainty that when I play a COD game during the next year it will be Ghosts.

I’m subscribed to Gun Nuts and I have even linked to a story or two they’ve written in the past I think.  I even like the author, Gabby.  She has written some good articles on both Gun Nuts and her own blog, Armed Candy. Unfortunately I have to disagree with her on today’s post. Here’s the opening paragraph:

“I will begin by saying that I have never found any excitement or enjoyment in video games. Therefore, it would not change my life, in the slightest, if every game were to suddenly self-destruct. But since some people seem to appreciate playing these games, I will attempt to avoid offending those delicate sensibilities.”

First of all, having never enjoyed a video game, I feel that Gabby may be a little biased; I can forgive that part.  But the logic that video games cause violence because some people can’t tell the difference between a game and reality feels misguided. That’s like saying someone who doesn’t understand coffee is served hot is a victim when it burns them. We no longer blame the individual if there’s an organization or industry we can pin it on instead.  It seems that everyone is always looking for an excuse.

Sometimes mental health issues are not caused by corporations, objects we own, or actions around us. Blaming video games is easy, but why not look at the individuals? We all have the capacity to understand right and wrong. Sometimes people are just evil or severely impaired.  If 99% of all gamers are good people, can we blame the video games?  Condoms are 99% effective as well, but sometimes that 1% somehow manages to get the spotlight.  Should we regulate condoms as well?

I don’t like that gun violence occurs at all. I hate it. I lock my guns up and follow strict safety precautions every time I handle a firearm. I don’t want anyone to die from a mistake on my end, especially myself. However, I don’t expect the government to regulate my firearms for me. Just like I don’t want them regulating my video games. I’m a responsible person. If they begin to control one, they’ll come for the others. Restrict video game makers’ 1st amendment rights and they’ll follow suit with ours. Maybe gun-blogging will be regulated next?

Or, maybe they’ll just go straight for the 2nd amendment. Oh wait . . . They’re already doing that. We’re fighting a daily struggle to keep our right to bear arms in this country. As a gun owner and blogger I understand the 2nd amendment fight. I don’t see why any group of people should have to fight to keep the rights they’ve already been given. Rights that our forefathers fought and died for.

This used to be the land of the free but now its only free if you jump through all the hoops. Its only free if your actions offend absolutely nobody. At what point do we drop the word “free” from that phrase? Its time to end the invasive, regulatory government that we’ve allowed to come into existence. We need fewer new laws and more enforcement of existing laws. Enforce the video game rating system better if need be, but don’t restrict what can go into a video game. Don’t restrict our creativity and inventiveness.

Maybe I seem irrational or “bitter” as I’ve been called in the past. That’s fine. I have an opinion and I’m fighting for it just like my fellow gun-bloggers, Gabby included, do every day. If, however, you agree with me, let me know in the comments. Of course you’re allowed to disagree as well. Ill listen to your thoughts and opinions. Everyone has the right to express them and I won’t stop you. I’m interested to read what everyone has to say.

**  Gabby, if you’ve somehow managed to find your way to my side of the blogosphere and read my post, please don’t take my comments personally.  I enjoy what you do, have great respect for you, and consider us on the same side (as far as guns are concerned).  I just have a strong affection for video games and will fight for them as long as I can.  **

I know the name of my blog is “Backyard Shooter” and I normally write about things related to gun rights and shooting in general.  Lately though, just as our Second Amendment rights have come under fire, the rights of those of us who play video games have also taken a hit.  It seems there are those in the pro-gun crowd that would start taking away rights that gamers have while calling those after their rights “gun grabbers” and “socialists”.

Senator Lamar Alexander, you can’t attack another group of people just because your own group is looking bad.  Video games are protected under the First Amendment as freedom of speech.  Just as pro-gun activists slam the anti-gun crowd for trying to destroy the Constitution, I have to call them out for doing the exact same thing.  What’s good for one is good for the other.

If you care about your rights as a gamer, or your rights as a citizen of The United States of America, please click here to help the Video Game Voters Network spread the word to lawmakers that we, as gamers and U.S. citizens, refuse to let our rights be infringed.

This is the message they want to be seen by our lawmakers:

I am writing today to respectfully encourage you not to allow video games to become a scapegoat in the ongoing national debate over violence in the United States. As a voter, constituent, and avid video game player, I am concerned with the efforts of some to paint my choice of entertainment as the cause of recent tragic events.

I would like to share some key facts about video games and those who play them. The average video game player is 30 years old and the average game purchaser is 35 years old. In addition, women 18 and older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (30 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent), and 29 percent of game players are over the age of 50.

I believe that parents, not politicians, are in the best position to determine entertainment choices for their families and, according to the Federal Trade Commission, parents are involved in the purchase and rental of their children’s games over 89 percent of the time. Also, according to the Entertainment Software Association, 91 percent of parents monitor the content of the games their children play. It is very important to help parents and caregivers ensure that the computer and video games children play are appropriate and parent approved. However, the video game rating system is already doing a great job by providing parents with detailed video game content descriptors and parental controls available on all video game consoles.

In addition, through partnerships with retailers across the nation, the video game industry has the highest level of retail enforcement of any entertainment form. Instead of blaming video games – which numerous studies have shown do not incite violence, but instead help to advance technology and society – we should be discussing new solutions that strike at the heart of the real problems we face. I completely stand with the American people who are rightfully demanding action in response to recent tragedies. What these events require is serious debate and serious solutions, and blaming video games and gamers is neither.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

We are more than just consumers.  We are members of a worldwide group.  Just as gun owners feel a camaraderie with other gun owners, we feel the same sense of belonging with members of the gaming community.   Stand up for your rights because this is starting to look ugly for the entire country and I’m afraid every part of the Constitution is going to come under attack.  It is unacceptable to persecute a group of people in order to prevent your own from suffering.

We are a nation of once-free people.  Now we’re a country of people who can’t responsibly make decisions for themselves.  Our founding fathers are writhing in their graves right now as they watch what a mess we’ve made of this great country.  It’s time we stop looking for blame and start trying really hard to find a solution.

I am an avid gamer and firearms enthusiast.  I will defend the rights of all people in this great country to the best of my ability.  Will you do the same?

Just to keep things light, here’s a humorous image

The NRA is one of the best defenders of our second amendment rights.  They donate a lot of money to support pro-gun candidates and spend lots of time lobbying congress to consider their actions carefully when dealing with firearms.

But they don’t seem to do well with publicity.

Just one month after the Newtown shooting, a video game (well its really just an app, not much of a game at all) is released titled “NRA: Practice Range”.  And to add insult to injury, it’s reported that the game says it’s for children ages 4 and up.

In addition, if you remember correctly, the NRA blamed video games for helping cause the violent nature of our society last month.  So then to release a video game that involves shooting guns, branded as being appropriate for children, just one month after the Newtown shooting seems very irrational to me.

I understand that the game is to promote the safe use of firearms, but it makes the NRA look like a bunch of hypocrites.  I support them and what they do for gun rights but they seriously need to take into account how their actions are going to viewed by the public.  Now, not only will anti-gun groups target the NRA, they’ll make anyone who supports them look like a hypocrite as well.

A gun safety app is one thing.  A video game for kids that involves shooting guns is another.  6 months ago this would not have been an issue at all.  But this is a crazy time for america.  Everyone’s actions are being judged very harshly and I’m just afraid this will be one more negative strike against the NRA in the eyes of the public who are still feeling the pain from last month’s shooting.

Let me know what you think below.

Click here to view the article on CNN

Looks like the NRA decided to pass the blame just like everyone else seems to do now days. While I don’t think the NRA or guns or the 2nd amendment or anything like that are what caused the Connecticut school shooting, it certainly wasn’t “violent” video games and media.

I’ve been a gun owner for 2 years and a gamer for about 19.  Of those 19 years I would say that all 19 were filled with games containing “violence”.  But all the cartoons I watched were also violent.  Just look at Tom and Jerry . . . Tom experienced bone crushing injuries on a regular basis, almost all of which would’ve killed a human had we tried them.  Should we ban cartoons too?  No there’s certainly another issue underneath all of this.

Why does everyone in america have to pass the blame and point fingers?  Why can’t people just defend their position on issues and support ideas they believe in?  What’s so hard about that?  Maybe we should work on teaching our children to be responsible human beings who know the difference between killing a guy on a tv screen and killing a living breathing human being.

You could easily argue that we shouldn’t have to kill anyone anywhere, real or not.  But then you have to define what “violent” really means.  Is it as vague as any physical violence?  Or do people just have a problem with the killing?  If they start with one aspect of controlling or censoring video games and media, much like our gun rights, the other parts collapse quickly behind it.  Take away a 30 round mag and next they come after the 20 round mags.  Stop allowing human death in video games and then you wont be able to show human death in movies.  A lot of classic movies would never have been made if that were the case.

Millions and millions of people play games in the Call of Duty series every day.  Millions.  This is a game that literally pits one human against another to see who can use a firearm to kill more people than the other.  It’s a bit more complicated (and fun) than that but you know what I mean.  With all of these millions of people playing such horrific games every day, why aren’t there MORE shootings like the one in Connecticut?  If games are the cause of our violent way of life in america, shouldn’t that be the case?

C’mon people.  The tragedy that happened in Newtown is a horrible horrible thing.  Everybody wants to find out who is to blame and make them suffer.  But we can’t because Adam Lanza shot and killed himself.  Stop blaming my guns and my games.  Support mental health research and funding.  We need to get these people help.

If you want to do something good, support and defend what you believe in and don’t point fingers.

Chad Kennedy
Gamer: 19 years
Gun Owner: 2 years
Law Abiding Citizen: 22 years