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honestgamer It's not all an elaborate ruse, some misguided attempt to establish for myself an online persona of dubious quality. I really am dull. If you don't find that unbearable, though, this is my blog that examines just how truly boring I can be.

Title: HGWars Wiped - Fresh Start for All!
Posted: March 14, 2009 (04:40 AM)
Over the past few days, I've done a lot more work on HGWars than I had planned. It's a lot closer to a working game than I had expected it to be by now, but there have been numerous changes and I need to see how they play out.

Therefore, I've wiped the characters and everyone will need to start fresh. This has a few benefits and will allow me to more easily examine potential balance issues now that everyone will be starting fresh with all current safeguards in place. I'm interested to see what different strategies people will try now that everyone will have to gain stats the same way, and without ridiculous real estate schemes giving some people more gold than they really even needed.

There certainly are more features coming, but I'm not sure how soon anything major will happen so this was a natural time to start fresh. Over the next few days, any work I do will be geared toward slightly tweaking what's already there to make sure that we have a firm foundation before I consider new features. I won't have as much time to make adjustments, anyway, so this will likely be a good opportunity to play for awhile without worrying about another wipe a day or two down the road.

Thanks for all of your help so far in testing everything and making this project even more fun than I had expected. I hope that you'll all continue to enjoy and play the game as we move closer to a 'beta' version in the weeks to come.

For those who are just now hearing about this, the URL is:

http://www.honestgamers.com/hgwars

I'll hope to see you on the battlefield soon, impending victims!

Title: HG Wars - Progress Update
Posted: March 13, 2009 (05:35 AM)
Well, it's almost 5AM and I've stayed up the whole freaking night tweaking the battle system and a few other things. Here's a rundown of the updates:

* Attack damage now fluxuates, meaning a level 35 mage with 50 WIS won't always hit for 73 damage if he keeps attacking. Sometimes it might be more like 67 or 75 or whatever. Just random numbers, but you get the idea.

* Critical hits are now possible, both from the offensive and defensive sides of a fight. You have a better chance of getting critical hits if your luck rating is high, though you stand a chance of getting them even when that's not the case (your odds are just lower). Critical hits still shouldn't be terribly common, but you should start seeing them often enough that they should be factored into any strategy.

* Attacks can now be dodged. This is affected by your agility compared to that of the individual you are fighting. Anyone has the capacity to dodge attacks, but high agility greatly increases your odds. Even so, dodges should be relatively rare, showing up only on occasion... just often enough that you can't ignore the possibility.

* Battle messages have been changed so that everything should be in the past tense. Messages are now formatted more cleanly and you should be seeing more of the messages that I coded in behind the scenes. Some of them hadn't been shownig up properly.

* Battles now yield experience points. You'll gain more points if you defeat characters at higher levels, particularly those who have built levels quickly by focusing on energy and ignoring other stats. This should prevent people from adopting that strategy as frequently in the future, though it still may be a viable strategy in some instances... which is okay. I'm interested to see what different strategies people use.

* You also gain experience if someone attacks you. Whoever wins the fight gets the experience. It's looking like skill points and automatic attributes are automatically appearing where they should, which took several hours all by itself.

* Battles can only be started with people who have 10% or more of their HP in place, rather than the old 5HP minimum. Entering the URL of a favorite target to try and sneak in an attack will no longer work if the individual's HP is below that mark.

Those are the main changes relating to the combat system. I made one other change, as well, which you're all bound to notice almost immediately: level progression has been updated. It now takes longer to advance between levels.

Because of the many, many changes I made tonight, there may be a character wipe soon so that we can start fresh and see how the updated systems affect early level progression and strategy. Progression should at this point be much different than it was even a few days ago. I'm not sure when the wipe will occur. Probably soon.

I have a lot more tweaks I'm looking forward to adding, including some that will affect the battle system. This is most likely the last big update for another 2 weeks or so, though. Keep comments coming, as well as specific bug reports so that I can fix any issues you encounter... though my timeliness may not be exemplary now with other projects competing for my time.

Thanks, and enjoy the pre-beta version of HG Wars. Your participation is making it better already!

Title: Facebook, Mafia Wars and you!
Posted: March 11, 2009 (06:19 PM)
This post is me recruiting. If you use Facebook, you definitely should be playing the new browser-based game, Mafia Wars. It's a lot of fun. I'm fairly addicted and I could really use some friends in-game to make my mafia more powerful. If you want to join, you'll first need to add me as a friend on Facebook. You can find my profile here.

Once you've added me, then I will confirm the addition sometime shortly thereafter. You should next click to play Mafia Wars. There's are links from my profile page. There, you can invite me to join your mafia, or I will invite you.

In-game, more mafia members is beneficial in a whole host of different ways, so I'm really hoping that several of you see fit to join and play.

This is as good a place as any to announce that I'm working on my own browser-based game, after years of thinking about doing it again. I had done so once before and it was pretty cool, but this is a more sustained effort. I am working on a guide for IGN now, but when that is concluded I'll resume work on the game. It's already coming along nicely and I am hopeful that it'll turn into something really cool, as I've discussed on the forums. If you want to play an extremely early version and just mess around, you'll find it at:

http://www.honestgamers.com/hgwars

That's about it for my update. Now to get back to work on about 50 different things... Ugh!

Title: Why all the energy devoted to referring people?
Posted: March 04, 2009 (02:21 AM)
Last night and then again tonight, I spent several hours coding a feature into the site that will allow people to easily refer others to the site. The reason behind such a feature is obvious: I want more people to start referring people.

Why is that the case, though? Well, it's pretty simple: we're having trouble growing beyond our current level. While it's true that our current level isn't shabby, it's not as big as we all deserve. Every time a user submits a review, there are 20 or 30 people that seem to read it within a day or two. Beyond that? It really depends on any number of factors... including how well the review ranks on Google (something that will change for the better if more people start spreading the word about the site, by the way).

I'd like to see us with a much more robust community. Ideally, I'd like to see us with 5 or 10 times the current traffic. What would that mean? It would mean:

* More eyes on every user review, staff review, FAQ, screenshot gallery, video, news story, forum post, blog entry and so forth.

* More people spreading the word about our excellent content... and contributing content of their own to ensure that we have exciting new content in the future. Imagine how much more exciting user contests and RotW topics could become!

* Larger numbers to boast about when contacting potential advertisers, which would result in more revenue and--as a result--more contests and prizes for all of you. It could even mean that freelance and staff contributors would get payment in addition to the games that they already receive.

* More exclusives for the site. We could more easily score excellent interviews with people you care about, copies of more of the latest games (though we're actually doing really good in that department already, as of late) and so forth.

I believe that the site is a high-quality destination for gamers, but that not enough people know about it. A lot of us work hard every day to improve the site, and it's really paying off... but it could do even better. Growing our community is the way to improve several things and I'm committed to doing that without compromising the quality of our content. Now I've made it easy for you to take part and I've provided every incentive I reasonably can. In the weeks ahead, I'll be continuing to try to expand the community and I welcome your input and participation--especially that second thing--along the way.

Thanks for your support through the years that got us to this point. Let's make 2009 the site's breakthrough year!
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Title: When seagulls attack
Posted: March 02, 2009 (05:37 PM)
Today, my wife and I decided to take a walk on the beach. We tend to do so on the Nye Beach stretch, which is located near the post office. There's a parking area and gazebo up top, then you can follow a steep trail down to the sand below.

On the beach today, there was a massive pile of seaweed, plus there were places were large blobs of jelly had washed ashore. As we approached, a seagull who was strutting around on the beach took a crap and then flew away. My wife and I must've been a scary sight.

As we walked back up the trail, we saw a couple heading down it with a bag and two loaves of bread. When we reached the top and started back toward the car, birds suddenly started flying in from all directions. I've never seen seagulls move so fast. One cruised overhead, then shot down in a flat-out dive that looked like a World War II bomber diving into the water after taking a hit. The number of birds and their speed was incredible.

We looked over the concrete railing at the beach below and the two folks were there with their bread, tossing it to the birds as more goals zoomed in for a landing. It seemed to me like it only took seconds for every seagull in the area to rush them. You'd think the birds had nothing to eat!
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Title: My manhood is never questioned
Posted: March 02, 2009 (12:02 PM)
I wish that I could find and smack the person who let my HonestGamers contact e-mail address leak to the spam bots. It's not an address I shared with just everyone, so there are a limited number of suspects. Someone did it, though, and now I daily receive all kinds of spam.

It's almost always the same 2 or 3 messages, particularly a picture of about four different types of male enhancement drug. I also get a lot of HitBooster spam. I already know that none of the stuff works and I've never responded to any of the messages or asked for removal (that just encourages spammers to send more), but already it's getting ridiculous.

Today, for example, I received a message from a "Sheryl Fraser" with the title "My manhood is never questioned" attached. It's pretty clear that whoever is sending these things doesn't even bother to make things credible. Someone named Sheryl is always going to have her manhood questioned. It just goes with the territory.

A common tactic of spammers--and one that applies here--is to 'spoof' e-mail addresses. Even though they don't have access to your account, these people make it look like they do and will send a message from any account they like. It's easy enough to do with a simple web form (I could send you a message that appears to come from anyone I'd like and you wouldn't know for sure that it was a fake unless you checked headers), but a lot of spammers are so lazy or incompetent that they don't even enter the bogus address. So I get a bunch of messages from 'myself' every day telling me about the wonders of Viagra.

It's depressing. I wish that the government would hurry up and catch up with the 21st century--no, make that the 20th century, since this has been going on for years--when it comes to legislation. Maybe with Obama in office, we'll start passing laws that prosecute these absurdly annoying spammers and their shady policies. Well, after we fix the economy and the wars overseas and stuff. And healthcare. And education. Spam should definitely be next on the list after that!
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Title: Leona Lewis is cool
Posted: March 01, 2009 (12:03 AM)
This won't win me any friends around here, but I really like "Spirit" by Leona Lewis. It's hardly a new album, having hit the US sometime last year, but I only just recently got around to listening to the whole thing. Up to that point, I'd listened to just two singles, "Bleeding Love" (which is awesome) and "Better in Time" (which also is awesome).

However, the rest of the album is not without its charms. I wouldn't say that there's anything as immediately amazing as "Bleeding Love" or as infectious as "Better in Time" after regular listens, but I still like the bulk of what's on there.

Usually, I prefer male vocalists, but this is a really strong album and definitely a good listen for people who don't mind a mainstream sound.
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Title: Street Fighter IV
Posted: February 27, 2009 (03:56 PM)
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was the first game that ever prompted me to swear at the television screen. I don't know how many hundreds of times M. Bison kicked my butt back in the day, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the number lies somewhere in the thousands. When my parents and sister were out of earshot, I called him nearly every nasty word I knew. Those uncharacteristic bursts of profanity didn't help me to beat him but they sure did make me feel better when I lost!

Years later, I would remember Street Fighter II and the first thing that came to mind wasn't the way that Bison mopped the floor with me. It was Ryu vomiting gold after a fierce punch to the gut, Chun-Li's flip kick (made better by the 'pause' button), elephants in a temple, graffiti in a bath house, a statue lying on her side in Thailand and factory workers in Russia. These things and many more lingered in my mind, larger than life and demanding that I revisit them. Unfortunately, my attempts to relive those glory days often left me disappointed. The graphics weren't as good as I thought. The fights were cheap and shallow.

Eventually, I cam to a realization: the real problem lay in the fact that while games have evolved, Street Fighter II never really did. There were updates to the series, certainly, but they never really felt like a proper extension of everything I loved about those early games. Street Fighter Alpha 2 and its sequel were great games, for instance, but somehow they didn't feel quite right. The crossover games don't work for me, either, and Street Fighter III felt so different that aside from the inclusion of Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li, it might as well have been an entirely new franchise. It began to look like I would never be able to enjoy Street Fighter II again.

Street Fighter IV had the potential to change that. Instead of evolving from the point where things were left with Street Fighter III, it stepped backward and used Super Street Fighter II as its template. It was a risky move that alienated some people who demand a new lineup and combat system with each numerical upgrade to the series, but for me the revival offered hope that I could once again experience the magic of Street Fighter II as I remembered it.

My review is coming soon.
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Title: Heath Ledger won...
Posted: February 22, 2009 (08:17 PM)
Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight, which is pretty fantastic and in a lot of ways related in my mind to the site. I remember when true posted that the role had gone to Heath Ledger, and I remember thinking "Wow, what an odd choice." I remember when pup posted that he had been found dead in his apartment and remember being stunned. We were born something like three days apart, Heath Ledger and I, on opposite sides of the world.

So Heath Leger won an Oscar, and the only thing I can think of, besides the fact that it's a shame he's gone when he had so much promise, is how crazy I would've said you were if just a short time ago you told me that he'd be winning that particular Oscar.

An Oscar for a super hero movie? An Oscar for the role of villain, when Jack Nicholson came before? An Oscar for that but not for his other powerful performances? An Oscar after his death? An Oscar for a role in one of the most commercially successful films in many years? It just seems so unreal... yet it happened.

I'm surprised and pleased. It's great to see talent recognized, even if it came too late. It's inspiring too.

Title: I'm a little bit more online now...
Posted: February 21, 2009 (06:37 PM)
Well, today I got a wireless router that actually works (the wireless functionality on the D-Link one stopped functioning some time ago, alas). The unit I got is a Belkin and setup was a breeze. I also got a wireless card for my wife's PC so that she can be online again, which hadn't been possible for a bit after we rearranged the apartment.

Now that I have wireless again, I got the Wii running online and also my PS3. I decided to break in the PS3 with some games of Street Fighter IV and those went pretty well. I wound up playing a streak of 18 games against someone named Harknesss and wound up with a pretty hefty lead in wins that got frittered away as I tried playing as fighters I'd never played before. When we stopped, we were running even at 9 wins each. Then I played some ranked matches, but so far I've won only one of those. Competition is more fierce when points are on the line!

If you'd like to play against me online and I happen to be available, my username on PSN is honestgamer. I don't play the PS3 online much because it's difficult to drag the wire out there and--oh, wait. That was the old me! Anyway, I probably still won't be online much because I just don't tend to go that route when I play games, but I'd be happy to meet up for some SF4 action with some of you if you happen to have the PS3 version and want a contest.
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