I was absolutely addicted to The Diablo Series until probably 2005 or so. This may not have been the first fantasy video game, nor was it the first multiplayer game, but it was certainly the first game to successfully combine very dark subject matter with a very urgent plot and what I believe to this day was probably some of the best mood-setting music ever put to use in a video game. The randomization of the maps, combined with a max character level of 99, a bunch of different classes, and infinite item stats made the game playable for well .. I got about 7 good years out of the series.

It wasn’t even a lack of replayability that killed Diablo II either, what it came down to was screen resolution. The first game had a max resolution of 640×480, the second one -only several years after release and the release of the expansion- finally maxed out at 800×600. That was pretty good for the year 2000, but by 2005 very few monitors were running resolution that small, and certainly no gamers were using them. That, at least in my mind, is what killed the game. It pushed me off to try Guild Wars at any rate, and it seems the majority of the Diablo II community also sought different games to fill the void.

Then, as all Diablo II players know, while we were eagerly awaiting the release of Diablo III, there was a highly publicized resignation party at Blizzard North that basically amounted to everyone who had ever worked on the Diablo franchise was gone. Some of them went on to form Flagship Studios, which I was counting on to carry the torch of the Diablo franchise, but the group fucked up in a big way in my opinion. How did they fuck up? Hellgate:London.

I want to be clear that I don’t think the game Hellgate:London was a fuckup, instead I think everything surrounding the games publicity and release absolutely doomed it to fail. I had been following the group at Flagship since they left Blizzard and I was eager to see what new titles they were going to put out. They were talented without a doubt, and I am sure that the entire Diablo community would have been eager to see what they released. The problem with Hellgate was that no one, not even the fansite community, was quite sure what to make of it. It looked like a futuristic, sci-fi, first person shooter, but was trying to incorporate the fantasy elements from a dungeons and dragons type world. Rather than bringing together fans of the FPS and fantasy it seemed to alienate them both. That is how I perceive it at any rate. But that wasn’t even the real problem. The real problem was that they rushed the game to release by Halloween 2007 despite the fact that the interface was clunky as hell and there were tons of bugs. And with, as near as I can tell, zero advertising. Why they rushed it to release at that point probably comes down to money; not having a product for a few years can scare off your investors, but unfortunately pushing out a shoddy product will scare off your clients.

Flagship had also been working on a game called Mythos at the time which never made it to release before the company folded. This is why I think Hellgate:London was such a bad idea. These guys were legends for the characters, bestiary and lore of the Diablo series, but rather than embrace that and play into it by trying to release a game that was similar to it, they tried to play away from it. Perhaps they just wanted to show that they weren’t a one-trick pony, but, as I’m sure they discovered, fantasy nerds are fiercely loyal to the genre.

I continued to check back on the Mythos website over the next couple of years as I toiled away playing World of Warcraft, always hoping to see it nearing release. Instead the site just started throwing a not found error a couple years back and I more or less gave up on it. Gave up until yesterday when I happened to type Mythos in my address bar and was taken to a site where a Mythos game is going to be release by Red Bana -a name I remember for infecting some of my old pc’s with malware. This, I was sure, wasn’t the work of the Flagship crew, so I started looking around to see what became of them. I finally found them at Runic Games, having just released a game called Torchlight, which I immediately downloaded.

This is the game they should have released in 2007. The game is much like the first Diablo, being set in a single town with a dungeon beneath that you must quest and fight to the bottom of. The gameplay is quite similar to Diablo, and the skill and attribute point system is also quite similar. There are three playable classes to the game currently, which as I’m sure you could guess are a strong man archetype, a nimble, ranged attack archetype, and a pure casting archetype. There are four different difficulty levels -though only three are really playable since the easiest could probably be completed by a developmentally challenged two year old. There is even a Hardcore setting (death is forever) although since the game is strictly played offline it hardly matters since you could just restore a saved game from before he died and he would live on. At any rate, this game has kept my attention for the past couple of days, and with a sticker price of only $19.95 and a download size of only 411mb (10 minutes on high speed) I suggest that you Go buy it if you haven’t done so already. There is also a two hour free trial if you aren’t sold by the following screenshots (click through to see them in much higher resolution):

Achieving goals

I have been playing Guild Wars a lot since Factions was released. One of the things that the new expansion game offers is titles. There are many different titles that can be achieved; explorer titles, PvP titles, skill hunter titles, and many others. After reading about the titles, I saw one called survivor and thought that it would probably be the most difficult to achieve, therefore I decided that I simply had to do it.

All you have to do to earn the title of Survivor is make it to level 20 (the highest character level in the game) without ever dying. Having played hardcore characters back in the Diablo II days, I figured I would be able to do this without much of a problem, but(that needs to be a bigger but) BUT there are a few key differences between Guild Wars and Diablo II that I didn’t take into consideration before I began to try.

In Diablo II if you wander outside to quest without any other human players in your party the game is set to players level 1, where if you walk out with a full group it is set to players level 8; In Guild Wars there is no such option, it is exactly as difficult with one player as it is with eight. You can take henchmen with you, but the computer controlled players, while helpful, are not capable of thought. Thus they do not have the ability to anticipate or prepare for a battle in any way before you actually get into it. The henchmen also like to try to resurrect people in mid battle, which would be good if they didn’t have to actually stand right in the middle of the combat to do it. Despite their drawbacks, I knew that I was going to have to achieve the survivor title with the henchmen; that was the only way I could maintain absolute control.

Another difference between Diablo II and Guild Wars, and this is a huge one, is town portals. In Diablo II you could throw up a town portal before battle and if the battle got too intense you could step into the portal to be instantly zapped back to town. Guild Wars doesn’t have anything like that. If you are in a battle you are in it until its completion, whether that means your victory or your death. It is possible to run away from battle, but with the henchmen in tow they will continue to battle while you try to run, always keeping the foes within range to hit you with spells and projectiles, making sure that you are losing health just a bit faster than you can heal. There are times when that I have successfully defeated a group, or ran completely out of range, only to die because I was not able to remove a hex or condition. This would be another obstacle I had to overcome.

In Diablo II you could fill your inventory up with full rejuvenation potions that would instantly restore all your life and health. In Guild Wars there are no potions of any kind; all healing and energy regeneration must be done by spells or signets, and nothing casts instantly. Every character class has a couple of spells that have cast times of a quarter of a second or so, but the only one that has the capability to cast a heal spell that quickly is the Monk, and even then the Monk only has one or two spells that cast that quickly, and you don’t get them until much later in the game. The majority of the quick casting spells are for condition removal or interrupting the enemy, which are both quite useful but not as usefully as a rejuvenation potion would be.

Then there is the AI. Unlike Diablo II, Guild Wars actually has intelligence in their AI. The foes will pick one character in the group and spike him (everyone hits him/her with their most powerful skill all at the same time), and if you don’t have some sort of protection spell on you when hit, you will die. Even at level 20 the most health any character can have is 590, and that would be with a rune of superior vigor (which is extremely expensive) and with a Hale (+30 health) staff of Fortitude (+30 health). 480 is the base max health, and most have about 450 instead so that they can use runes to increase their skills’ effectiveness. Some of the monsters, although not many, can hit for 230 or so in a single hit, so without some sort of protection you are dead before you can even cast a heal.

All that being said, Guild Wars is set up so that you can learn your skills as you progress through the game. The first ten levels or so could be completed without dying even if you had never played the game and never used a healing spell. In fact the first fifteen levels are probably gimmes. But, and much like Diablo II, the levels require more experience to achieve the higher you get. I am not exactly sure on the level progression, but I think it takes more experience to get from level 14 to level 15 than it takes to get from level 1 to level 10. Level 20 is achieved at 140,600 experience and if you are killing monsters that are about the same level as you are you get about 20 experience per kill (though the majority of the experience comes in chunks of 1,000 or more from doing quests and missions).

Well, I did achieve my goal. I had a few brushes with death along the way, there was one time that I was down to 33 health and still degenerating before I was finally able to get the condition removed and start healing. That was pretty damn close. It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be, although it did require a hell of a lot of patience. I had to go at about one-quarter the pace that I would normally play to make sure that I could pull the smallest groups possible. I also upgraded my armor at every opportunity, while I would normally only do about two sets of armor for the entire game. But I made it, and that is all that matters; I achieved my goal.

Then I set my sites on the next goal: Level 2 survivor. Level 2 is achieved at something like 550,000 exp. Well, level 2 survivor didn’t go nearly as well as level 1 survivor did.

I wandered out the door and got into exactly one battle before this happened. I was on the receiving end of a spike that included a mesmer boss (mass degen). I fell like a sack of hammers. I didn’t even have time to just close the game it was so fast. So now I will just have to use my experience gained, 145,341, as my new goal when I try to make a survivor.

There is one way that the survivor character in Guild Wars is better than the Hardcore character in Diablo II though; I can still play the Guild Wars character, had this been in Diablo II I would have to start all over.

Thoughts on Factions

The game was released a couple of weeks ago, and of course I was on board and playing it the day it came out, well the day before it came out since it was pre-ordered. I have been holding off on making any comments about it because I wanted to take the time to play some parts of it through a couple of times. Now that I have done that, I will start with the random observations about the game.

First, the beginning of the game is entirely too easy. I can understand the need for a beginners section, as this is a standalone game there will be a lot of gamers playing it that have never played the original. The problem with the ease of the beginning is the difficulty of the rest of the game. It is entirely possible to plug along and do all the quests and missions on the little island (the beginner’s zone) without ever dying, or even coming close to it. The second you step outside the city on the mainland it is possible to die without ever getting a spell or attack off.

My first time through I was trying to save cash by waiting to upgrade armor. I died so many times in the initial quests on the mainland that I was seriously considering just giving up on the game. It is not that I don’t like a challenge, I just didn’t understand my own skills, as well as those of the hired mercenaries, to be able to take on the monsters there. There is just a gap in monster levels between the island and the mainland. The last things you fight on the island are about level 12 while the first things you fight on the mainland are level 20. In a game where level 20 is max, 8 levels makes a hell of a difference.

There really should be either additional zones on the island that let you face some higher level monsters, or zones on the mainland that let you face lower level ones. There is simply no way to test out the effectiveness of your skills on higher level enemies until you are actually fighting in the city. Which wouldn’t be so bad except for the greatly improved AI in the game. The first enemies you face when you reach the mainland will target a single party member hit him all at the same time, and since it is a computer controlling them by “same time” I mean within thousandths of a second of each other, making it impossible to heal before the inevitable death.

The second character that I took to the mainland didn’t have nearly the problems that the first one did. This was mostly due to knowing what attacks the enemies were going to use, who they were going to attack first, and what character classes would work well together against the particular groups I was fighting. So it wasn’t nearly as impossible as I thought, but it really does need a place where you can practice against monsters that are above level 12 and below level 20.

The other thing that really stands out about Factions is the availability of high-end weapons. The rare (relatively) “green” weapons seem to be a lot more common in Factions, not that it really matters since they really aren’t that great in comparison to the other available weapons. The weapons that you can get from collectors now is, in many cases, vastly superior to the best of the “green” weapons. And those are the weapons that anyone can get with a minimum of effort.

The economy of the game, being directly related to available items, is changing dramatically because of the ease of acquiring such powerful items. A shield that used to sell for 50,000gold has exactly the same stats as one that you can get from a collector if you just pick up a few mossy webs during battles. Clearly no one is going to buy the one for 50,000gold any more. Which is great for the player, not so great for the bots.

Speaking of the bots. If you have ever done an ebay search for Guild Wars, just about all you see is money for sale. It seems that in order to slow the sale of Guild Wars stuff on eBay, they just made it easier to get all of it. Since it is no longer necessary to have a sword that costs 100k, what when you can get one with better stats off of a collector, you can really have a really well equipped character by the time you are level 20 with nothing but the gold that you are rewarded for completing quests. Of course there will always be people that don’t want to do the work and are willing to pay someone to do it for them, so the bots will live on, at least their prevalence will die off a little bit.

Where does the time go?

It has been a while since I slapped anything up over here, so I am just here to let you know that I am still alive.

Lately my time has been consumed by playing far too much Guild Wars. Then, when my wife got into an argument with our Guild Leader, I had a new project to work on. It is called Jade’s Misfits, a website for her guild ( a guild which was started long before aforementioned argument, but I didn’t feel compelled to build a website until she severed ties with her old guild). Being far too cheap to actually pay for hosting on another site, I just put a folder on this site to host it then bought then registered and redirected the domain. I’m cheap like that.

The website is far from complete, but it is now at least functional enough to look at. I got the forums up and running and designed some flashy buttons, banners, etc. About the forum: if you have never had to deal with the chmods on files and folders, stay away from hosting your own, it was really tough to get that all working properly.

Anyway, I am off to play some guild wars.

Probably a mistake

In case you didn’t notice, I took a couple of weeks off on the blogging. I didn’t have anything to write so when I tried to put something together it was obviously forced. You know it must be some bottom of the barrel crap if I think it is too bad to post, I mean look at what I do post.

I have also been playing a lot of Guild Wars lately. That game simply kicks ass. It is also an enormous timesink. You can’t really just pop into it for a ten minute goodie run, well you could but not looking for anything actually good. Once your ass hits the seat you are in it for at least an hour, probably a lot longer. The reason for that is the cooperative missions. There are missions that can’t possibly be done solo, some that require precise party formations to be completed at all. Finding a party for any particular quest is often difficult, unless you are a healing monk, in which case the party will find you. That was the reason that I had stopped playing it some time ago, I was just tired of wasting my time looking for a group to do a mission.

My wife plays the game a lot more than me. As a result she has characters that are far superior to mine, and never much of a problem finding a group. She also developed a list of friends that she frequently played the game with, and ultimately left my guild to join one that didn’t suck (which left only myself and a friend in Washington in the guild). She downloaded a program called Gamecomm, which allows her to communicate with her party members via a headset instead of the keyboard. After seeing how this technology made missions which seemed impossible turn easy I decided it was time to start playing the game again.

My wife got her guild leader to invite me into their guild, which required me leaving my own guild (thus leaving the friend in Washington as its only member), and it has been nothing but fun ever since. I also use the gamecomm program, but I usually just listen to what she and her friends are saying, which is often hilarious, as I muddle along on lower level quests to try to reach the areas of the game where the good shit is. The members of the guild I belong to are fabulously helpful, they have taken time out of their high level item quests to help me through some low level dreck, and having them tell me what I need to do during the mission (via a headset) makes it so that I look like slightly less of a noob. I’m still a noob though.

The worst part of it is that my highest level character, the character that they invited into the guild, is name “Probably a Mistake”. Yes I named my character “Probably a Mistake”. So when they are talking on gamecomm or in chat they refer to me as “probably”, even if I am playing a different character I have to tell them that I am “probably” so they know who I am. I really thought that character was a mistake when I made it, and it is. Smiting monk isn’t as good as I thought it was going to be once you get to higher levels. While it is easy to change the skill set to become a healer, the name can never be changed. I will henceforth ever be known as “Probably a Mistake” or “Probably”, thankfully they have yet to call me “Mistake”, at least not when I am in game anyway. I just wish I would have used my standard alias when I formed that character, it would be so much nicer to be referred to as shadow, or twin, or ST than “probably.” At the very least I could have gone with the joking moniker I used when I set up my first internet dial-up account: Big Dick McGee, though I guess that would have been a mistake, probably…

Pimping Guild Wars

I have played a lot of video games in my time, probably more than I would care to admit. I have even paid monthly subscription charges to play one (Everquest). I have found, over time, that the majority of the game producers just don’t give a shit about the end user once they pony up the cash for the game. Diablo II still offers the online multiplayer for free, but Blizzard doesn’t really seem to give a shit about the community in general. Why should they? The game is like five years old.

Guild Wars, on the other hand, is actively doing all they can to keep the game both fresh and fun for all of the players, regardless of the fact that you don’t have to pay a fee to play it.

See, they took a normal monster from the game, rebuilt it out of candy corn and put it back in. Just for Halloween. They made a lot of changes to other things as well, cauldrons and the such appearing in the middle of towns, skeletons and candles all over the place. I thought it was extremely cool. Everquest never did anything like that in all the time I was playing it, and I was paying for that service!

I should also note that these candy corn monsters were not merely a background, they were the actual fighting minions that my wife was using as she headed out into battle. That is my wife in the middle of the photo, looking a bit petite (as always) next to the lumbering hulks beside her. Much like real life come to think of it.

I can tell you, from first hand experience, that candy corn doesn’t have to mutate in any way to become deadly. Have you ever eaten any of that shit? You kind of hope it is laced with cyanide about the time you taste it. Definitely better to be bludgeoned to death with it than to have to actually taste it.

Still, Kudos to Guild Wars for throwing in some creative and festive artwork. They didn’t have to do it, but they did. I think little things like that are going to make Guild Wars into on of the longest running games ever. The fact that they do minor updates almost daily doesn’t hurt either.

Guild Wars again

I haven’t actually played Guild Wars very much since I purchased it, there is no particular reason for that. There were no pressing time/schedule issues that would have kept me from playing it, no ultimatims from the significant other, I just hadn’t been playing it much. I am pretty sure that the reason I hadn’t been playing it much is that it is one of those games where it takes me a good half an hour to remember my skill keys (for each character) and even longer to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing the last time I quit playing. Guild Wars solved that all, damn it.

Guild Wars now has a slick new mission interface that tells you every quest that you have started in any town, listed immediately under a big old town heading. Hard to say you don’t know where you need to go when it tells you which town to go to, then goes further to tell you exactly what you have to do once you leave that town. Still, it doesn’t tell you exactly how to use your spells/skills, but they are easy enough to figure out during the first few minutes of play each time. Not that you really have to learn how to use them, more that you assign different skills to different hot keys based on your character; It would suck to cast a fireball spell when you meant to cast a heal party spell, if you know what I mean.

My wife has gotten into the game far more than I have. Not to the point that she is getting into some sort of weird cosplay fetish (though that might be cool, come to think of it), but she does love to beat those baddies up. We actually tried to start brand new characters ( a couple of months ago) that would play exclusively together, but that idea all went to shit when neither of us was happy with starting at the bottom when we both had characters that could kill everything on the screen without a thought (her characters more so than mine). Today, however, we finally managed to get the game going.

The game starts out with little quests; Wander just south of the city to find my lost ‘x’ and bring it back for reward ‘y’. There are hundreds of those little quests as you wander through the towns. You don’t have to do them but you will end up with better weapons and armor if you do. The game also has ‘missions’. The mission is something that is supposed to move you from one zone to the next. You do the missions to open up new quests basically. You really have to do the missions though, cause at some point you will no longer get any experience doing the quests in the previous area. The missions are a good thing.

The missions can also be done solo at lower levels, though they will require a damn good group of people at higher levels. You could do the missions solo at higher levels, but that would require the A.I. of your helpers to be unbelievably high, I.Q. of 32 or so. That might sound low but if you were the programmer, and you tried to think of every stupid move someone might try to make, and then someone tried to make all of those moves -I’ll call him Jimmy-, you then have to try to account for the best and worst possible move in any situation. The A.I. can only be so smart. The A.I. in Guild Wars is pretty damn good, but sometimes you end up with your mercenary stuck in a corner beating up the air that he breathes.

I ended up playing a bit of Guild Wars with my wife tonight. My wife’s character was 12 levels higher than me, and I had already done the stupid mission in the first place, but it was pretty damn fun to have her playing there with me. Guild Wars is bringing husband and wife together.

Go Guild Wars!

Video game time sink

Since I got the new Guild Wars game I have been noticing that I have the same ‘missing time’ issues that I used to have when I originally started playing Diablo 2. I am relatively sure that the time is not actually “missing”, it is, rather, horribly spent. Sure the aliens might be abducting me on a nightly basis, the government could be looking into my thoughts with their new satellite technology, but my best guess is that I just get a tad too involved in games, and continue to waste my time on them.

The games don’t really even have to be that good for me to get so involved, at least not as far as graphics, since I still waste a hell of a lot of time on BMX Ghost, regardless of the fact that the graphics are twenty years old and the gameplay is damn near impossible. Though I am pretty sure that the fact that it takes less than thirty seconds per game might play into the scenario. Honestly, if you play a game for thirty seconds you have wasted thirty seconds. If you play the same game fifteen or twenty times you have gone to the 4-6 minute range (all of that not counting the loading and multiple clicking required to play again, of course). Now you are near ten minutes into it. Then, if you happen to have the “I will play until I better my score” syndrome, you will never see the light of day again.

My current time sink is related to Guild Wars though. It actually has the graphics to keep you playing. I can only compare the game to Everquest, as I have never played any other MMORPG’s, and Guild Wars beats it in every aspect. The gameplay is more fluid, the quests are achievable and you don’t have to have a friend (who has already beaten the game) carry you through it. The battles take a lot longer than in Diablo (which is expected since they are in 3-D), but the are way more believable than the fights in Everquest (where two monsters that looked identical could have such different stats that you had to look at them before attacking, else you would die and start all over again, unless you could hire a Ranger to find your body, or a Necromancer to resurrect you).

My current time sink might not be very easy to shake. I like this game as much or more than I used to like DiabloII. It is online only, it is free (less the cost of the game) and it is really sweet with the graphics. It is possible that I will tire of the game over time, which will mean that Diablo II LOD is the current CD in the drive, I dunno, check back in six to eight weeks to find my current time sink.

Guild Wars!

Have you ever played it? I never had, until just yesterday. Imagine Diablo II, in 3d, without the annoyances of Everquest. I really enjoy this game.

The online play is free, of course, and the graphics are simply amazing. The quests are possible, at least so far, solo or as a group, and the rewards keep the game moving along.

There is not a requirement that you get 6-8 guys, all from the same guild, to do a quest, it is possible even if you have no affiliation. There are a bunch of weird quests that you have to do to improve your armor and the such, but that is all optional (not really if you want to live). This game melds the sprite based Diablo II type game so seamlessly with the EverQuest type game that Iwas amazed at how fluid it was.

The biggest and most persistent complaint about MMORPG’s is that they have a level treadmill, meaning that you can only go up in level if the planets all line up just right: You have to be in the right group when the right monster spawns. I know that is true, since I did play everquest. Guild Wars, however has totally shattered that belief.

Each time you leave town the monsters spawn. I am not sure if party size matters, but even if it does, and there is only one of whatever you are trying to find, you could simply go back to town and respawn the zone. If you leave town alone you can still complete the majority of the quests, provided you do them in the correct order.

The good attributes of the ‘maphack’ that people use on Diablo II are embraced rather than scorned. You can see, at a glance, whether the hunk of crap you are picking up might be usefull, whether it is magical, whether it is a quest item.

The map is displayed on the screen, with unexplored areas blurred out, but, it is displayed, and it shows monsters! Blizzard seems to frown at the thought of showing the monsters prior to them entering the screen, my question is do they assume that a human (with normal vision) can see only in say 1024×768 ressolution, and only in two dimensions? If that is their assumption I have a load of “Star Trek” to watch before I believe that they have a cybergenic leg to stand on.

In summation, Guild Wars good.

Meta blogging; Abu Ghraib

I spent a bit of time on Wednesday, and an hour and a half today, getting finished with the March 2004 archive page . That, of course, required reading through my posts from the month of March which, while time-consuming, was a lot less depressing than I thought it might be. It turns out that it really is better to let what you have written sit there for at least a month before you try to read it and do a short description, as it seems that you are looking at it with fresh eyes. There were a couple of essay type things that I wrote during the month of March that I think were really quite good. There may be some point later when I pick a couple of them out and post a section of ‘stuff I wrote that doesn’t totally suck’ on here, but that would make people quit reading my daily update, which usually does suck, and then just go to the link for the stuff that doesn’t suck. The inherent problem is that I do not know if what I am writing sucks until I read it a lot later than when I write it. In my mind everything I write sucks, only time can clear my mind enough to look at what I have written with a clear perspective and that does not lend itself to making sure that every word I put down is worth the paper keyboard it is written on.

The other thing that I noticed as I was reading through the old posts is that I seem to be getting progressively better at getting my idea down as time goes on. It seems that with each new post I get just a bit better at keeping all of the ideas in my head long enough to put each one down and move on, while in the earliest posts I was trying to type all of them at once and often lost most of them in the process. The result of that was that each paragraph that I had written would look like it was four paragraphs that I had taken a sentence or two from and tried to make into a single, flowing concept. It was shit, honestly. Though I am always my worst critic, I am sure that anyone reading this would really have to agree that my writing in this form has gotten better from when I started. That being said, I still have a long way to go to make entire posts that will hold a reader’s attention and not make me look like the ass that I am. But isn’t that what I signed up for when I started this whole page in the first place?

• I haven’t posted any news here for a while, not for lack of trying. I was hoping to get a bit or two up here today, but it seems that all there is to talk about anymore is the damn Abu Ghraib garbage. Don’t get me wrong, I think that what our people did to those prisoners was inhumane. From the pictures that I have seen, though, it did not seem as there was any physical abuse to the men. It was sick and wrong for anyone to even stage the events for such photos, but it happened, and we (the U.S.) did it to prisoners of war (well I guess there is a loophole so they aren’t actually POW’s, still it was inhumane). If we (the U.S.) can’t understand that the entire world has a microscope on the way we are handling ourselves in the so-called ‘War on Terror’ this is going to get infinitely worse for our brave men and women who are there actually fighting it.

Whether those photos were staged by the U.S. troops who posed in them as ‘trophies’ to take home with them, or if that is the way we treat prisoners on a daily basis seems to be a dead discussion in every nation except ours. Less than half of our country is behind the war in Iraq at this point and I don’t think we have any allies left that would actually send more troops over to help us if it came to that. That whole war has gone completely to hell. I am pretty sure that Dubya doesn’t mind, since it has driven oil prices over forty dollars a barrel, and that is extra profit for him, but now it appears that he is ready to bail out. Just makes me wonder what his reason for bailing out is, the fact that he has a financial windfall with oil prices skyrocketting, or the fact that an american civilian got his head cut off.

That is exactly why I don’t like to talk politics. I have some pretty strong views, and Dubya is such an easy target. I sure wish I hadn’t voted for him, but I did. So, please, to help clear my conscience, do not vote for him next election. We have seen the FUBAR that the country can become when being backed only by ‘big oil’, and that somehow drives the prices up. I am so sickened by the situation that I am honestly thinking about putting down ‘Reagan’ on my vote, as a write-in.

Guild Wars

Today is the last day of the E3 trial of the aforementioned game. I played it a bit each day that it was online and it seemed pretty cool. The one thing that I question is whether the local PC crashes that I experienced were based on it downloading ever more data, or if my system just can not run the game. I am leaning towards the game downloading as you play, I have all of the minimums beat by a lot but still get weird freezes when trying to play it. I hope that they get that all worked out when they go to Beta testing, which I am sure they will, and the game could be really cool. Also, having the game already installed on your machine, as opposed to having to download each zone that you enter, would likely make it much easier to play. I am not going to throw out an opinion based on my experience as it would be quite negative, if they do have a beta test for it, though, I am going to jump all over that. It would be extremely cool to see such a game in its infancy working towards a world-wide release. I do suppose they would likely be looking for players who had cable or dsl connections though, yet, at the same time they must be trying to sell it to normal people like me who have neither., My hope is not dead yet…