Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NBC says No, Jay Leno Says: we'll do it anyways

Several months ago I wrote about how Top Gear USA, scheduled to appear on the NBC network, was doomed to failure. The rampant liberal democrat ideology that backs the majority of televised broadcast media simply can't accept a show like Top Gear. Well, recently, one of NBC's big stars, Jay Leno, showed up on the UK Top Gear. Shortly afterwards it was announced that Jay Leno would be hosting a segment to place Celebrities in a Green Car.

It doesn't take much effort to realize that Jay Leno, once asked to head up the USA themed version of Top Gear, probably had ulterior motives for showing up on Top Gear UK... Such as figuring out how to get the popular Star In a Reasonably Priced Car to work under the green dogma of the Liberal Democrats. Now, realistically, most people know that Green Cars aren't really that environmentally friendly. Once you get over the horrible environmental impact of just the battery production for a Prius, which admittedly does take a lot of effort, there's the fact that they just aren't that fuel efficient.

Case in point for me. A while back a friend and I headed up to Atlanta to go catch an Imax movie showing. We took his Prius, and our daily fuel average was... 14 miles to the gallon. Now, I know your thinking, how is that possible? Toyota says it gets 31mpg+!!! Well, for starters, the Prius, and many other hybrid cars, only really work in stop and go traffic. Many depend on Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems that generate electricity when the car is stopping. Others depend on fancy logic switching to work back and forth between the electric, and the gas engine. If you're laying on the gas through for a 100, 150, 200, or 250 mile stretch? The electric engine never even comes into play... and the gasoline engine in that Prius had just awful fuel economy at highway speeds. Quite simply, if Toyota really wanted to make a fuel efficient hybrid, they should have used a diesel engine.

Jeremy Clarkson once reported he got 73 miles to the gallon from a VW Golf Diesel. Well, one of my former coworkers from Sitel has a Golf diesel and made a trip from Atlanta Georgia, to Columbia South Carolina, to Orlando Florida. His Golf Diesel... managed 68mpg.

You don't see stories about these sorts of diesel fuel mileages on NBC, or ABC, or CBS, or MicrosoftNBC, or CNN, and as much as I dislike saying it, even Fox ignores just how efficient diesel engines can be. Of course, part of the lack of attention is due to car manufacturers. Car companies just don't seem to be interested in talking about how well their diesel engines perform, and the only time the comparison really comes up, is when car companies talk about HCCI.

Of course, some car companies are already looking for ways out of the fossil fuel and synthetic fossil fuel problems. For starters, many car companies know that Bio-Fuels are a dead-end technology from the start. Even back in the 1980's Georgia Power knew that corn supplies would never be enough to sustain the US's fuel consumption, much less sustain both fuel consumption and food consumption. GM, despite being run straight into the ground by Liberal Democrats, then rescued by more Liberal Democrats, had a Hydrogen powered Concept Car, the Hy-Wire. Honda also has an interest in Hydrogen, they actually opened the first filling station in the US. As the most plentiful fuel in the universe, Hydrogen powered cars are a viable alternative, if not the only realistic alternative, to keeping the vehicle system as much of the world knows it... working.

So, while Jay Leno deserves credit for getting Star in a Reasonably Priced Car to the US airwaves... it just serves as a beacon on just how un-interested broadcast media is in actually talking about, or doing something about, fuel efficient cars.

NCSoft Fusion Tour?

Anybody whose read this blog, even a micro-bit, knows I'm a fan of City of Heroes. I like the game. I like the way the development is going. What I don't like is that is that all of the game's special community events... only occur on the west coast. So unless I've got the money together to go out and hit Comic-Con or Hero Con, I can just forget about the special goodies at the special events. So far, as best as I can research, under Cryptic / NCSoft, and now just NCSoft, City of Heroes hasn't even shown up at established east-coast cons, like Dragon-Con.

In the past, the lack of any east-coast, or midlands, events was a bit confusing, as NCSoft was primarily based in Texas. Granted, the CoH developers were I think based in Los Gatos, California, and have remained in Northern California since being rescued from Cryptic. As a Publisher, NCSoft's lack of nation-wide promotional events was a bit confusing. As a developer, there were and are some financial issues with setting up an east-coast or midlands event, not to mention managing developers flying away for a weekend or so for the event... rather than working on the game.

While bouncing points back and forth on BattleClinic, I had an idea that might work. It's based on Nintendo's Fusion Tour.

Basically, NCSoft hooks up with a couple of bands for a tour concert. On Battleclinic I suggested a couple of band, SuperChick, Pillar, and Thousand Foot Krutch. Now, I specified these bands for a couple of reasons. For starters, their music is something most parents don't mind their kids listening to, after all, Nintendo found success with bands like Evanescence and Relient K. Second, some of their music crosses over well with the superhero theme of City of Heroes.

Then, hook up with a hardware manufacturer sponsor like Sapphire, Asus, or AMD and show off the games running on whatever the latest generation hardware. Case in point for AMD, they just launched the RadeonHD 5x00. Showing off CoH being playable on 6-different computer monitors in that really high resolution would do a lot for both the game, and for AMD's hardware sales.

A close-up concert tour / game demo would probably be more effective at not only selling the game to new players, but also bringing in potential customers from outside the gaming realm. Nintendo used that to great effect on the Fusion Tour stops.

Paragon Studios could also take the concept further for a Concert based Hero-Con. Plan a couple of events ahead of time, like allowing people to sign up for Task Force's held on the Test server. Lets say two teams go after Master of Statesman's Task Force on the test Server. The team that succeeds meets the bands behind the scenes. On top of that, people there for the concet get to see high level players going at it, which again, might help more people get interested in the game.

It'd be a bonus if developers were actually able to attend, so here's another suggestion. Video Conference. During an interlude or break for the participating bands, set-up a video screen and let the audience ask questions back to the game developers. Sure, it's not the same as Mr. Miller actually showing up in person... but it's a solution to getting the developers involved.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Net Neutrality: a stumbling block for conservative opinion?

By now it's fairly obvious to anyone with half a brain that anything the Obama administration does needs to be examined in the context of coming from a group of people that honestly believe Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin had it completely 100% right. Any plan of action suggested by the Obama administration needs to be closely examined and rejected just on the basics of common sense and grade-school learning.

So, when a site reports that Republicans as attacking Net Neutrality, and that an Obama backed FCC is for net neutrality, things need to be looked at with a closer view, because this just doesn't add up. Okay, yes, that site is Daily Tech, and lets be honest here, Daily Tech isn't exactly known for being accurate. The basic problem is, anybody with a lick of sense knows that anything Obama puts forward or backs can't be good for anybody but a dyed in the wool socialist. So, if Obama backing Net Neutrality, there's got to be something catastrophically wrong with the proposal.

Thing is, looking at what ArsTechnica (a site that also has problems with historical accuracy, although engineering accuracy is pretty good) had to say on the recent FCC speech about Net Neutrality, it's hard to figure out exactly what it is Obama wants or is backing that is so bad. I have a feeling that the liberal democrats are using my vocabulary... but not my dictionary. So, lets get a couple of hard-definitions on what exactly the fuss is about.

What is Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality guarantees that users paying for Internet Access get Internet Access, for whatever they want to access. There are no limitations based on the type of data being transferred. There are only limitations on the amount of information being transferred.

Thing is, by basing Internet Access Price on amount of information, there's a steady, and reliable metric for calculating how much a paying customer owes. Somebody who downloaded 50 gigabytes of information should indeed be paying more than somebody who only downloaded 5gigs of information. Many ISP's don't like the pay by total amount system though... and for good reasons. As Internet Access becomes more ubiquitous across Game Consoles, home computer systems, servers, phones, mobile computing devices, and so on, the amount of over-all information being transferred is going up. Other applications, such as bittorrent, can clog up available bandwith, and just a single computer running a bit-torrent application on a standard internal gigabit network can introduce unbelievable amounts of lag to other applications.

Many ISP's want to separate what users are doing with the amount of data, and control that data. Comcast, for example, has been caught deliberately slowing down the connections of users using peer-to-peer file-sharing applications. Many ISP's also feel that companies like Google should pay the ISP for the high amount of traffic Google generates, not just from people visting Google's Page, but also from the web-crawlers Google uses to index web-pages. The business plan of many of these ISP's is to charge users a higher price to access sites like Google, or to use applications like Bittorrent, changing the price dynamically on what a user does.

This of course sets privacy advocates on fire, and I agree. I don't think an ISP needs to know what I do with my internet connection. It's not that I'm doing anything illegal or wrong, but I other than improving network performance, I don't think an ISP has any business tracking how many times I visit in a day.

The business plan also sets off business's like Google and Amazon that depend on ubiquitous and universal access to their web-services. Why should an ISP care whether or not a user is accessing or Unless there is something catastrophically wrong with an ISP's network, such as AT&T's, where money that should have been spent on making the network better... has been spent on securing exclusive portable hardware contracts, ISP's shouldn't really notice any difference between 5gbs of information from one user or another.

I also need to stress that this business plan isn't a flight of fancy. Comcast has already tried metered internet access, and has had customers just walk away in droves. Most of the major ISP's in the US have figured out that users don't want to pay by what they do. Most of the major ISP's also know that unless every-single one of them steps forward at once, and they all do metered internet access, all it's going to take is one start-up offering genuine unfiltered, un-metered, universal access to the internet backbone... and the major ISP's are going to go broke.

Now, I'd like a clear explanation from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on where she stands on Net Neutrality. Does she, like me, feel that ISP's have no business tracking user information, much less forcing users to pay for what they do. I'd also like to know what she sees in the Obama backed plan that absolutely horrible...

Other than the whole aspect of having to have the FCC introduce more regulations that really shouldn't be needed to begin with.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In God We Trust: the Story Microsoft-NBC will probably never run

The picture pretty much explains it all. Microsoft NBC decided to run a poll on their site asking whether or not In God We Trust should be removed from US Currency. The crushing NO is hard to ignore. What's even harder to ignore is the listed 16,983,97 respondents. Almost 17 million people had responded to the poll, and 89% of them said no. What's even harder to ignore after that is that this is Microsoft NBC, a liberal democrat bastion. The vast majority of people who visit the Microsoft NBC website are not conservatives. They are not republicans. They are not moderates. They are died in the wool left-wing Socialists. To see this kind of result, with Microsoft NBC's demographic, isn't just staggering. It's full on mind blowing.

The big problem is, Microsoft NBC can't run this story. They are a company run by Liberal Democrats, for Liberal Democrats. Reporting that the vast majority of site visitors said no to one of the Liberal Democrats main objectives... isn't going to sit well with Microsoft NBC advertisers. It's not going to sit well with the Obama administration. It's not going to sit well with the Liberal Democrat controlled congress. So, Microsoft NBC won't have any other choice but to push this story to the side, and never comment on it.

You might have also noticed that I'm deliberately stressing the Microsoft NBC partnership here, rather than using the MSNBC shorthand Microsoft would much rather have consumers using. Many consumers still haven't put together 2 and 2, and still don't quite get Microsoft's close relationship with the Liberal Democrats and the Democrat party. I can't spell it out any more than I already have, but if you're buying a copy of Windows 7... you are contributing to the campaign funds for the likes of Obama and Pelosi.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bike Game for Wii Online

Quick idea from brain-storming at AC. (it's raining, and we haven't opened yet) Several years ago there was a cool stationary bike game at an event called Big Toys for Big Boys at the Augusta Civic Center. In the bike game players pedaled a stationary bike around an island. As players approached a hill, the resistance on the bike wheel increased, and as the players went down a hill, the resistance deceased. So as the player explored the island, the bike's resistance changed depending on the geometry. Apparently Fort Discovery also has a version of this kind of bike game.

So, here's the pitch: Nintendo's made a bundle off of Wii-Fit and it's balance board. Why not continue the fitness integration of the Wii platform? Get together with a couple of stationary bike manufacturers and partner to link the stationary bike against the Wii. Release a Wii-Game that allows players to pilot a bike through Wii Sports Resort Island that modifies resistance depending on the geometry of the island. Go up a hill, more resistance. Go down a hill, less resistance. There might even be a market for fitness companies to back-port this to existing stationary bikes.

For a more competitive setting, add in the ability to play online or via ad-hock wireless connections. This could be a big promotional boost for fitness places like Omni or Golds gym where multiple people could be on their bikes at once. I imagine it would also be useful for the home market, where a neighbor-hood fitness team could still schedule a bike-ride (and make sure everyone's actually there), even during rainy weather.

... Only... Nintendo doesn't take game suggestions... and I don't know any developers that would go after such a project (other than Konami).


Okay, I can see some FAQ arising from this:

Why the Wii and not the Xbox 360 or PS3?

For starters, the Wii is widely recognized as being tied to fitness with Wii-Fit. Neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 have reputations when it comes to physical fitness.

Second, the Wii's motion control is here, now. It's not some tech demo with a launch date sometime in the future. Nintendo's equipment is also cheap-enough that it could probably be integrated into existing stationary bikes without dramatically raising the cost.

Third, the Wii is cheap. Okay, there is a version of the Xbox 360 that is cheaper, but again, this comes back to what the Wii has now. The Wii has motion control and accelerometer feedback. The cheapest 360 doesn't, and you can probably bet that when Project Natal hits, it's cost will be significantly higher than the total cost of the Wii and Wii-Motion Plus.


Why single out Wii Sports Resort as a location?

As this idea was being cooked up, somebody commented that it should be presented to Nintendo. Only Nintendo doesn't take game idea suggestions (they haven't for years). Which means that somebody outside of Nintendo needs to take an interest in the idea and find a publisher or development team that might be interested. Also, for the idea to work, the publisher or developer needs a buyer off the bat. A chain of Health Centers picking up and sponsoring the development would do wonders in this skittish investor market. A major manufacturer of excerise equipment backing the idea as well would ease the minds of investors (and developers).


Wait, why not patent the idea and wait for somebody to actually do it?

First, I'm not sure the idea is actually patentable. The implementation of a bike that ties into a video game and sets resists on in-game geometry isn't exactly new. It's well over a decade old. The only new bits here are porting the concept to the Wii platform and managing game-connections in an online enviroment.

Second, as far as I can research, nobody has presented this kind of idea before.


Who would you like to see pick this up?

I think the best publisher shot actually is going to be Konami. Considering that Dance Dance Revolution got it's start in a gym and that Komani is still running Konami Sports Club, they'd be the logical choice to bring the idea to market.

Also, with a 3rd party developer behind the project, there's a chance that later on, the concept could be ported to other platforms, such as the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Evercool LD6025B-EC2

One of my favorite, if expensive, case designs from the past couple of years has been Thermaltake's Bach series. One of the design points of the case is two 60mm fans placed to exhaust air from the central processing unit. One of my problems with the retail Bach's is that factory included fans really aren't that good. Of the 3 units I have personally, and the 4 that I've built for clients, the original fans in all but one failed over within 6 to 8 months. Well, finally the fans in the last unit left started having problems so I went looking for a new set of fans.

I settled on Evercool's LD6025B-EC2 60mm fan, which was about $5 from Newegg. The tech specs of the fan were right in line with what I was looking for. It's claimed 2300±10% RPM speed, 31.62 CFM air flow, and 26 dBA noise sounded too good to be true. It was.

Yes, the Evercool LD6025B-EC2 can actually move 31.62 cubic feet per minute. It does not do it at 26 dBA. Two of these in my Bach case sounded like dueling Banshee's each having a crisis. My 6600 GT's from XFX made less noise than the Evercool fan.

Rather, I found something interesting on the package that was actually delivered. While Evercool's site, and Newegg, claim that the fan moves at 2300±10% RPM...

The packing claims that the fan runs at 4500rpm... which sounded a lot more like what the fan was doing.

In order to tone the noise down, I wound up putting the fans on some Zalman Fan Mate 2 controllers. My plan is to pick up a rear-slot fan speed controller and a 3pin wire splitter later so that I can control the fan speed without having to open my case up, and with using one in-expensive controller.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Movies - GI Joe

Saw GI Joe over the weekend, and it was rather... interesting. I got the feeling during the movie that one of the design goals had been to take pot-shots at the old animated cartoon when-ever possible. While I amassed a large number of GI Joe toys in the 1980's and early 1990's, I never really got into the comic books, or the overly cheesy cartoon series. Much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the GI Joe cartoon had a reputation for violence and misbehavior... that it didn't actually contain.

In the 1980's GI Joe cartoon, nobody ever actually got shot. Whenever GI Joe and their enemies, Cobra, met in combat, the cartoon took great pains to show everybody successfully jumping out of vehicles that were then destroyed by some of the slowest energy / optical based and concussive weaponry ever deployed. I know how fast a tank shell arrives, and at 100 yards, nobody is going to have time to unbuckle a seatbelt, jump out of a moving vehicle, and run to safety before the munition from an M1 Abram's arrives. Yet, in the GI Joe cartoon... both Cobra and Joe's had super-human level get out of the about to explode vehicle reflexes. The only time that I recall somebody actually dying in the cartoon was during the feature length animated movie.

So, with the new movie, the production team went out of their way to show off the carnage that actually occurs when GI Joe and Cobra meet head on. The result is a rather visually impressive demolition derby through downtown Paris, that culminates in the Eiffel Tower getting taken apart. While the French government seems to understand that the Joes did the best they could under the circumstances, that doesn't stop them from demanding that the Joe Team never return to France... ever... or from the primary army's recalling their soldiers... presumably to conduct a court martial.

In the same way that the movie focus's on showing that people actually do die, and do get hurt, when soldiers get involved with urban combat, the movie also took some shots at the old cartoon's ending tagline. Since GI Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were airing in a time in which there was pressure for cartoons to be educational, they often had show segments were a main character would go over some basic geography or life lessons. For GI Joe, this meant that every show ended with a The More You Know / Knowing is Half the Battle segment. Far from being educational, the segments were often so over the top, you could almost hear the voice actors gagging on the verbal pap. So, for anybody who saw the old cartoons, the use of Well you said knowing was half the battle in the new movie will cause a fair bit of laughter.

What will probably grate on most movie goers nerves though is one of the catostrophically bad use of movie physics as the movie concludes... and it's something PluggedIn picked up on. Ice doesn't sink. Yet, as GI Joe winds up, the Cobra detonate a polar ice cap to crush an underwater base. What's worse is that the movie had plenty of opportunities to come up with an in-movie plausible explination about what would happen if the cover over the Cobra base was breached.

As the Joe Team moves into the base, the use of the Ice Cover itself to contain tunnels, elevators, and other support equipment for the base is commented on. The base take-down would have been much more plausible if somebody had said something to the effect of: Uh oh... they're gonna blow the ice cap. That's gonna be a couple hundred tons of equipment... landing... GUYS! GET OUT OF THERE! THE BASE IS GOING TO BE CRUSHED!

Or better yet, stick to the crazy science theme. Something along the lines of: Hey guys... you wanna know how they got the ice to hold an elevator and a launching pad? It's not exactly... ice any more. It's been treated with some kind of chemical compound. It seems the base down there is actually holding this entire structure up.

For a movie that managed to handle physics presentations better than other action movies, it just feel apart at the end.

Still, if you want a movie that's not really cerberal... that is a bunch of things going boom... GI Joe's probably the best one this year.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Best Buy gives a glimps of how much Microsoft fears Desktop Linux

This summer has contained several interesting glimpses into the mind of Microsoft. Internal marketing slides leaked from Microsoft confirmed they believe what I've been saying for years: that the desktop linux market is larger than Apple's. While Microsoft's numbers are often about as trustworthy as a liberal democrat named Obama, the fact that they think that Linux has a larger user percentage on the desktop than Apple OSX is something they don't want any independent software vendors thinking about. Producing content for Apple OSX can be profitable for many companies, and if a company can figure out how to crack the desktop Linux market... that's Microsoft's nightmare scenario.

In fact, it's such a nightmare, that the training written by Microsoft for Best Buy contains more mud than the Australian Outback could if it suddenly had the entire pacific ocean dropped on top. One of Microsoft's hammer points is the lack of familiar applications that run atop Linux. Really? FireFox, Google Chrome, and Opera all run atop Linux. OpenOffice runs atop Linux. Pidgin runs atop Linux. A lot of Windows only software, like Photoshop, runs atop Linux using WINE type technologies. Popular MMO's like City of Heroes and World of Warcraft... run atop Linux through WINE or Cedega. Popular MMO WarHammer Online is coming to Linux... atop Cedega. Adobe Flash received a 64bit client... for Linux... which 64bit Windows still doesn't have.

As hard-core game developers like Raven, IDSoftware, and Epic found out, ignoring the Linux market can actually financially hurt. Unreal Tournament 3 was a legitimate flop out of the gate, and sales didn't take off until the game was playable under Linux, albeit it through system emulation. The reboot / return of Wolfenstein also flopped in retail sales, and from various emails that I've gotten through mepisguides at gmail dot com, I'm not the only person that canceled a pre-order or didn't pick up the game because of it's lack of a Linux client.

What's worse is that many consumers are starting to question how much Microsoft Windows products are actually worth. Microsoft's half-price pre-sale set off a red-light above many a consumers heads. Since Microsoft is the vendor that sets the value of it's Operating System, why suddenly double the price after a specific point in time? Also, why price the Operating System at such a high price-point compared to the only other mass-visible boxed retail OS, Apple Snow Leapord, when the amount of application content for Windows 7 is far less... developed?

The Best Buy training documents do illuminate just how far Microsoft is gone though. So many of the training points are so easily refutable, it's no surprise that average consumers can make the Geek Squad turn tomato red and beat a retreat behind a manager. What's worrying though is whether or not Microsoft actually believes the unadulterated marketing pap that drips from it's training for Best Buy employees. If Microsoft actually does believe what they say, it's possible that company might need to be ordered to take a sanity test.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CoH: How I would "fix" Dark Armor and Fire Aura

This is more or less based on a half rant I posted in the CoH forums. After having tested my own electrical armor tank, and talked with other elec armor scrappers and tanks, I became rather incensed over the addition of the power to the Hero Archtypes. The reason for my anger is that in actual play, the Electric Armor was as good as the mixed defense / resist armors. A couple of Elec Armor tanks that had leveled to 50 stated that they were able to survive on the Cimeroran Wall (a location in Cimerora with multiple mobs of 50+ enemy critters) without having to utilize either the Tough or Weave pool powers. As I compared the new electrical armor powers to the existing dark armor and fire aura power sets, my own anger grew, culminating in a rant that Fire was censored when compared to electric. After having a few days to settle down and ponder the matter, I think I know exactly what ticks me off about the addition of electrical armor, and I think I know why it's clearly heads and shoulders above the other resist sets available for tanks. When Floyd Grubb talked about the addition of electrical armor, this is what he said:
The original plan was just to proliferate Electric Armor and to use this opportunity to make some survivability adjustments to the set at the same time
Survivability. That's what set Electric Armor apart from Fire or Dark.

So, with the idea of survivability in mind... exactly what would I do to fix the errors that I see in the Fire Aura and Dark Armor sets?

Well, lets first of all define what those errors are.
For Dark, my issues with the set are the inclusion of Cloak of Darkness and Cloak of Fear. Cloak of Darkness includes a +stealth component coupled with a minor defense. However, it doesn't do a thing to drop a Tank's threat level, which when coupled with the inherent gauntlet, leaves it one of the most pointless stealth powers in the game. Even worse, Cloak of Darkness often interferes with aggro control, and it's not uncommon for other players to be able to strip aggro away from my dark tanks.

Cloak of Fear contains a minor fear and it's supposed to leave enemies standing helpless. Only... it doesn't actually work. In my own actual play, Cloak of Fear worked fine on stuff that conned at a higher level. When fighting equal levels, enemies were more likely to take off running than stand still and cower. The larger problem is that Cloak of Fear's method of operation allows feared enemies to attack if attacked... and as a dark tank, it's a safe bet that the aoe damage Death Shroud is running at all times to help maintain aggro. Thematically then, the dark powers, when ported from the scrapper set with no changes, resulted in one of the worst aggro holding sets in the game. I've made the direct comment that whoever ported the power over gave no actual thought to making Dark a tanking power set.
For Fire Aura, the problems are a bit older in nature.
Before Issue 5 and Enhancement Diversification hit, Fire Aura was considered to be one of the best tanking sets available. In addition to having massive damage output on it's own, Fire Auras could get really high resists to a wider range of powers by maximum slotting their resist powers. When Enhancement Diversification hit though, the Fire Aura resists were never rebalanced against the new power caps. The result was a tanking set that had no native defenses and primary damage resist levels on par with Invuln armor Scrappers. As I see it, in over 10 issues, none of the development staff appear to have taken an in-depth look at the Fire Aura power set... even when porting the Aura to scrappers. It really seems that somebody keeps declining to actually look at what the power set accomplished... or didn't accomplish.

The specific problems with Fire Aura pretty much are as follows:.

The Burn power had a +fear attached, one of the highest fear causing powers in the game. To put this in perspective, my Illusion controller's Spectral Terror pet has a terrorize of magnitude 3. The Cloak of Fear on my dark tanks has a terrorize magnitude of 2. My Mastermind with Dark Miasma has Fearsome Stare which generates a terrorize of magnitude 3. On both my Fire Aura Tank, and Fire Aura Scrapper, burn carries a terrorize magnitude of 50. When the change was made, the addition of such a massive amount of fear to the power was intended to force Fire Aura Tanks to play with controllers who could keep enemies from running away. In practical play though, burn rapidly turned into a power that just about every fire tank said skip. As a power, burn interfered with aggro control, and even if you had a controller that could keep bosses locked down, such did little good against Giant Monster or AV class opponents.

Burn isn't the only issue Fire Aura has. There's also the temperature protection power, which boosts resistance to fire and cold damage. As I showed over on Gamenikki, the power brings almost nothing to a properly slotted fire tank or fire scrapper.

The final issue with Fire Aura isn't actually an issue. I love fiery embrace... but unless the player also takes fire melee, it's almost pointless. Fiery Embrace can basically be described as a build up that lacks the to-hit buff, uses more endurance, takes longer to recharge, and can't be slotted with any IO's. When making my Spines / Fire scrapper I just couldn't justify fitting Fiery Embrace into the build. When I did my archery / fire blaster though, I had no problems justifying both Aim and Build Up.

Okay, if you've been reading me for any length of time, you've probably heard most of this before, and what you really want to know is... what exactly would I do to fix what I see as problems? Well, everytime I've brought up the subject before, I've danced around the topic suggesting that certain powers need to be junked and replaced entirely. I'm not so sure that's an answer though. I think I can suggest fixes to the issues with Dark Armor and Fire Aura while staying true to the themes of each.

To fix Dark Tanks, this is what I would do.
I would drop the +stealth on Cloak of Darkness, boost the base defense rating to 10%, and add a defense debuff resistance of about 20% with the power text something along the lines of this: you wrap yourself in the shadows of darkness, leaving enemies puzzled as to where you are. When slotting the new Cloak of Darkness into ED this would give Dark Armor around 15% to 17% native defense, about on par with what a badly slotted invuln scrapper can manage in a mob.

I would drop the +fearon Cloak of Fear and boost the To Hit debuff to around 15% base, changing the power text to something along the lines of: Shadow Upon Shadow, Distraction upon Distraction. This Power causes enemies to wonder where they are aiming. Thematically, the new power, Cloak of Shadows, stays in the realm of Dark Armor. In realistic gameplay, a stronger defense coupled with a stronger to-hit should enable dark armors to spend more time in a fight. In addition, the status effects that serve the scrapper archtype well, but interfere with the job of a tank, are done away with.

One of the changes I'm not suggesting is raising the resist values. The problems with Dark armor are generally caused by status effects that interupt their ability to contain a mob. With a mob contained, even at level 20, my own darks were able to heal for 1000+ hit points off as little as 4 different enemies. I've had the pleasure of watching level 50 dark tanks top off heals for 3k+. The Dark Armor's propensity for taking more damage with lower resists is also mitigated with a higher native defense and a higher native to-hit debuff.
To fixFire Tanks, this is what I would do.
Dropthe fear on burn. Just get rid of it entirely. Rather, standardize burn with other fire abilities such as bonfire. Add in a minor stacking knockback effect. The idea is to baseline the knockback against a con-white minion as it approaches 50% health.

Now since I'm not in possession of a temp power to check enemy base specs, I'm having to do this off the cuff. My fire tank;s Greater Fire Sword can remove about half the health of a con-white scientist in PI with damage values of -131 / -91. The -131 / -91 50% health values seemed to be fairly consistent across minions from Malta, Nemesis, and Carnival of Shadow. So, I can extrapolate that the average minion health is somewhere around 450 hp. (131+91 = 222 * 2 = 444).

At level 50, burn does 51 ticks of 3.34 damage for 10 seconds, for an average n-boosted total damage of around 166 points. With the damage approaching ED that would be about 320 points of damage (166*2 = 332 :: 95% ~ 320).With rough estimation, this means that a con-white minion would be approaching 50% damage around the 37th tick or so of damage. (320 / 51 ~ 6 :: 225 / 6 ~ 37.5) The idea is that as the damage approaches the 220 damage mark, the knockback amount builds up and flings the minion away. As NPC's continue to remain in Burn, the knockback amount continues to build up, till lieutenants, then bosses, get kicked away.

This modification fits into the themes of the other fire powers on other archtypes. Also, as the mez effect is a knockback, gauntlet and aggro aren't actively interfered with. Fire Tanks can once again bring the burn power toaffect against larger mobs while gaining a bit of useful mitigation.

The second change I would make is to Temperature Protection. I'd boost the speed resist values to be on par with the Electrical Armor Resists, and boost the Cold resist, while dropping the Fire Resist Values. I'm thinking 15% Fire Resist, 15% Cold Resist, 40% speed resists.

This is followed up by a change to power that actually works alright as is, Healing Flames. One of the advantages Electrical Armor carries is that it's new Energize Power contains a regeneration boost that can put it's regen rate in the territory of the Willpower and Stone sets.

What I would do is halve the amount of Regeneration afforded to Fire Aura, and halve the amount of Endurance discount, and disable stacking. This would give Fire Tanks a 50% Regeneration rate boost and a 20% endurance iscount everytime Healing Flame's ticks off. As is now on my Fire Tank, I'm often put between the choice of staying alive, or taunting, and that's after over a billion in influence spent on IO sets.

The thematic idea is that coupled with the extra resistance to slows, Fire Tanks are in a better position to get their attacks off on a regular basis. Electric Armor still retains it's destinctive advantage of a power set with better endurance management, a higher possible in-fight regeneration value, and native speedups. The final change I would make is to bring Fire Armor resists up to part with Electrical Resists at 35% base resistance. There's no real thematic idea here other than that the base resists should have been raised when Fire Aura was ported to scrappers.
Fire Scrappers (and Brutes) a bit harder to... fix.
To use the dark armor set as a comparison, one of the problems is that thematically many of the status effects for Dark Scrappers work on scrappers since they buy time to do damage, then get out of the way. With Fire Scrappers, I'm not exactly sure if the massive magnitude of fear on burn is actually that bad of an idea. Thematically, most of the scrapper armors have an I'm in Trouble Tier 9 power. The Tier 9 Fire Aura scrapper power is Rise of The Phoenix which is more of a "I got over my head again" power.

While converting the fear on burn to a stacking knockback would fit thematically with the rest of the fire power-sets, would it really fit the scrapper theme? I think I would go ahead with the change anyways. However, I'd do an inverse of what normally is done when comparing Scrapper / Brute armors to Tank armors.

Traditionally, each Scrapper / Brute effect is down 30% compared to a tank equivelent. For the Scrapper / Brute burn I'd raise the knockback stacking rate. Again, basing this against the level 50 numbers from earlier, I determined that the knockback stacking should overcome a con-white minion around the 37th damage tick. For Scrappers, I'd take about 30% off that number, so that minions would fly off around the 24th damage tick.

The second change I would make is to increase the base resists from 22.5% to 27.5%. Like the change on Fire Aura for tanks, this is a boost of 5% and brings the resistances up in line with other resistance armor types.

The third change I would make is to modify Healing Flames again. For scrappers, I would give them values 30% under that of the Fire Tank variant. So where a Tank would have a 50% Regen Increase and a 20% endurance discount, a scrapper would have a 33% regen boost and a 13% endurance discount. As brutes have a higher HP cap, there would be a slight difference here as I'd give them a 25% Regen boost and a 10% Endurance discount.

The final change would once again be to Temperature Protection, bringing the fire and cold resists to 10% each, and boosting the resists to 30%.
Thematically, I think each of the suggest changes better fits the avatar's purpose. At the same time, while the sets are buffed, they aren't buffed to the point of clearly being better than another particular set. The fire Aura set retains it's ability to deal out more damage than other armor sets, but on tanks, it's no longer a distant second cousin with scrapper resist values. For Tanks, Dark armor becomes a set that can hold aggro, while still acting as a status effect AOE platform.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Nintendo prepping Displayport Wii for 2010?

File this one under the rumors that would be nice column. Recently site Kotaku reported that Nintendo was bringing the black Wii-mote, Nun-Chuck, and Wii-Motion Plus to the US in a new bundle. Strangely though, Nintendo did not announce that the Black Wii console was on it's way. Granted, the North American and European territories are used to getting the short end of the stick on Nintendo's colorful console releases. Just drop by someplace like Play-Asia, and you'll find a wealth of colorful DS units the US and Europe have never seen... and Gamecube systems... and Gameboy systems...

So it's of no big surprise that Nintendo wouldn't be bringing the black Wii to the US...

Or is something else going on? As most gamers know, Sony and Microsoft are gearing up their own motion control systems for 2010 releases, each hoping to claw back territory that Nintendo just gobbled up. As such, many gamers are looking to Nintendo to swing back with a High Resolution Wii... neverminding the development issues that would cause in trying to optimize for each platform.

Still, perhaps a hardware revision is in the works. Physically speaking, the Wii can't get much smaller and still retain compatibility with the Gamecube ports. ... That said... an updated Wii could contain an 802.11n wireless chipset, a gigabit ethernet adapter, and possibly... support for Displayport.

The Displayport is the interesting bit. For starters, it's pretty much backwards compatible. A displayport connector should be able to pass along the ypbpr encoding scheme currently carried by component cables.

Second, for Nintendo's purposes, it's royalty free. One of the many reasons cited by Nintendo for not including DVD playback in the Wii, despite having a DVD capable drive, is that they would have to pay a fee since DVD playback isn't free. HDMI, a competing technology to Displayport, also carries a royalty charge.

Third, Nintendo is quite close to AMD, who is invested in Displayport. Getting Displayport onto the Wii would be considered quite a feather in the cap for the standard and it's backers.

At this point though, it's just a rumor. It would be nice if Nintendo did surprise the US market with an updated Wii model and more display output options. Sadly, that's all it would be... a nice thought.