After lacking features and being heavily dated, I take a look at riots new client for the online game League of Legends and decide, does it actually change anything?
I recently read about a games company who banned a player for the champion he selected. I wanted to discuss if its right or wrong for a company to decide how you get to play the game you purchase / play.
I fixed this a while ago and thought I would post here. This for AMD card users that are experience random "stalls" or "blue screens" that are seemingly random sometimes on desktop, sometimes mid game and often accompanied by a buzzing noise..
I was receiving the error x0000 and couldn't figure it out for a while. Its took me a long time to even figure out what causes the crashes, I changed all my RAM, GPU and Power supply to eventually download a program called "blue screen view" this tells me the reason for the crash. Every crash has a file called "atikmdag.sys" address in stack "atikmdag.sys, so that must have been the root cause.
Yesterday I did a full clean of my Drivers, removing all the root folders as to the best of my ability through manual doing it using this guide - and using the program Driver Sweeper or you can find something similar.
This meant that the GPU was completely uninstalled, the reason I did this was because "atikmdag.sys" is a GPU driver Error and it has nothing to do with anything else, but people liked to tell me my power supply was too small as my card was large (3GB) or temps were too high, they weren't.
I then went an did the BIOS update, it was super easy. I had a P8Z77-V-LX, I simply 'googled' it and downloaded the latest BIOS version that they said had "stability fixes" and installed it using a pen drive, now I highly doubt it will fix my problem because it just seems like a common AMD driver one but I did go from version 1200 to 2400 and everything seems to be working.
The I got one "system_thread_exception_not_handled (atikmdag.sys)" and looked around some more to solve it fully.
The steps I did to fix the issue or atleast it hasn't happened for months now was to do this.
1) Cleaned pc fully in safe mode removed all root folders manually of old drivers + via software.
2) then installed the latest driver for my GPU, selecting advanced mode and only installing the video and Audio driver, NO CCC program form AMD, it's practically bloatware.
3) After a full fresh install of GPU driver I updated BIOS as explained above.
Finally the most important thing and what I believe fixed this stupid issue was flash player.
I began to notice that it would happen more frequently with Chrome then Mozilla running so I did some digging and it seems AMD cards simply don't like flash player. To stop the crash I loaded a YouTube video, right click the video and disabled Hardware Acceleration for Chrome and Mozilla. This solved the issue for me. I think it gets confused with when to use your GPU as mine underclocks when not in use etc. So disable it and your crashes should go.
I listed the other steps just to help others as those are all the steps I took to fix it so its best to follow all the steps.
So I felt like this needed to be cleared up and explained. I just purchased my first ever capture card for my PC called the AVERMEDIA C985.
Now If your interested in the packaging, I'll quickly some it up. Nice red and Black metallic box, everything neatly packaged with all cables you need even for older monitors like mine with no direct HDMI. No problems here.
However I need to tell you the facts and in what instance should you go out and purchase a device for £130 as other reviews are unclear and in my personal testing will conclude a few points for you. Just to clear things up, the device comes with software for recording and doing basic streaming, the program allows you go from "Basic" to "Pro" in short giving you more options to record / capture. The software is fine, however for streaming it shouldn't be used. It is ok for capturing pure gameplay, but you cannot add overlays, text or do much other then display your own gameplay. The device is PCI meaning it has no delay when recording as it doesn't have to travel through a USB port when compared to its portable brother. This is of course a bonus.
Now this of course varies, but if you have a modern processor, something of similar power to an Intel i5 or it's AMD equivalent then your system will likely see no benefit using this card to stream, at best, slightly better / poorer performance, at worst. Definitely not a £130 improvement. So I'll explain why this is the case and why some people are getting confused.
Now if you take a look at my crudely drawn paint image, this is the setup you end with when using ONE computer. The image on the left was how I used to use my HD PVR ( Console capture card ) and I presumed this would work the same way when buying my new card. Except instead of my having the physical capture card on my floor, going to my PC that it would be neatly hidden away in my PC.
However until I got the device I never actually realised what I had really orderd.
Capture cards in single PC set-ups ( Like the image above) are pretty much completely useless.
What I mean by single PC setup is this, you are playing your PC game on the same machine you intend to produce the stream from.
The only exception is unless you intend to do the encoding with the hardware encoder on the card, but the quality on anything under 200 bucks is going to be completely horrible. OBS ( My chosen streaming program) can't use most the hardware encoders so all encoding ( Producing the video) is still going to be done by your CPU and as a result you will still feel that "streamy, It's not quite right feel".
Now and correct me if I am wrong, Xsplit the program that it gives you 3 months access for does use its encoding but the program is far more intensive then OBS, so the gains you get from using its encoder are lost because the encoder basically is crap for streaming and the program uses more resources, so any gains from the two are lost when compared to OBS. That's from personal testing, again someone may find it "ok".
You also have to remember that Xsplit costs money, meaning that every 4 months you spend $24.95, so in a year that's another $100 on top and considering you might only stream randomly for fun, you might only use it 20 times or you might buy 4 months and on the 5th month want to stream and you find you need to pay for another 4 months and considering you might only stream a few times or just fancied it as a "one off" it gets pretty expensive for a spur of the moment thing.
The built in capture methods in OBS ( A program the streams without the need of a capture card) are already absolutely as efficient as possible, so the only way to lower streaming impact without losing quality is to build a second, dedicated streaming PC and use the capture card to grab the image from your gaming rig.
Now me being new to all of this thought that is what I WAS doing by buying the card, the Avermedia C985 would "add" its power to my current CPU or for better wording, lighten the load as it would encode as my PC plays, but of course, I still have to encode. To make it simpler I'll say it like this.
Whilst playing on my Console,for the example that would be my "First PC", the capture card then gets that image, encodes it, and my PC (Second PC) would encode that again into a stream.
That is why when I used to use my second PC I wouldn't feel laggy but it still felt slower as it was encoding a video not playing a game and encoding.
Now imagine that but instead of two pc's what you have is, me and you playing the game on PC, My Graphics card plugs into my Avermedia Capture card and now I stream the video coming from the output.
Well..... that means as it doesn't use the inbuilt encoder that its effectively looping. PC plays games, goes into capture card, capture gets the video, does nothing and sends it back to program to be streamed. It is effectively doing nothing and as I suspected when I hit stream, be it 1080p 30fps ( It can't do 60, the box lies) and 720p 60fps that it felt just as laggy, if not worse when forcing it to encode on the Avermedia card. I was shit, bluntly.
The only other reason to have a capture card is, obviously, capturing consoles as you play on your console, the video goes to the capture card, and your pc streams it. This means effectively you are doing a two PC setup and as a result your console doesn't lag does it? Me being new I never really understood what it meant to be a "capture card" but ONLY buy this card if you have a Two PC set up to record games or want to use it to use with your console ( It will be great with a console and your High end PC)
I just found it a bit misleading for the streaming aspect. Now don't get me wrong this is a CAPTURE CARD and it is designed for recording locally and that is great, even with a One PC setup the inbuilt encoder takes the stress of your PC and you can have great recordings, I wouldn't knock that. I just feel they should drop the whole streaming aspect of it, make it cheaper and sell it cheaper as a PCI console recorder / PC local recorder.
Again, you can make the stream be amazing with two PC's. You could have your gaming PC passing to the card in your second PC and then streaming the picture the card is encoding
( Or buy the portable then you don't need to put in the Second PC but there will be a slight delay when syncing your voice to game-play if you are live-streaming as it travels through USB, although unfairness that can be fixed with some audio delay settings in most streaming applications)
But here is the thing for me, having two PC's for a CASUAL streaming session takes the fun out of it for me, the electricity bill goes up and the setup is a pain. Instead of buying two PC's to stream you are far better taking that money you saved on the PC/Bill and buying a real top end I7 with hyper threading or a real tank 6 core I7.
I like the card, it's button is convenient for recording but for streaming its a no goer from me, save your money, and buy a real top end processor, in the meantime lower your resolution / FPS of your current stream and enjoy streaming casually untill you can afford to splash the cash on one of the most intensive things a PC can do,
Thanks for reading and hopefully you understand a little bit more as I now do after trying lots of options and scouring the web / streaming myself.
If you have ANY questions comment below as I will respond, tweet the link or message me on twitter
- https://twitter.com/VideoFletcheror on Youtube
- Samuel Fletcher.
If you want the technical approach here is a response from the Open Broadcast forum by their moderators.
The gaming industry is rife with Micro-transactions and in my eyes there is nothing wrong with the concept of them. However their implementation in certain games has to be called into question. Lets take a look at the popular Xbox One Exclusive title Forza 5. In which some shocking things are being revealed.
To quickly educate the masses, a Micro Transaction is an add on that is purchasable for a game with real world currency, be it cosmetic, upgrades to make you stronger, faster, have more inventory slots etc. These again, fall under two categories, Cosmetic and the highly frowned upon pay to win.
Typically these 'pay to win' games are single player as Multi-player communities very rarely take to a game that is pay to win, why? Well it's simple, nobody minds that someone has bought a cool looking outfit for their character for £5 or unlocked a new single player mission for yourself, its a good way to make money for those games that are free and is a fun way to show your appreciation to the company and the character.
However certain games are Pay to win, mobile games for example will enable you to buy the level that you are stuck on in order to move on, or buy a stronger gun. Clearly these are a big no no for any game attempting to be skilled based Multi-player as they are "paying to win."
So what is the big deal with Forza 5? Well I'll keep it short so you can form your own opinion but it goes like this.
The game is not free, so before you even install the game and play you have paid £55+ at this moment in time. Now for me I don't ever want to see Micro-Transactions in paid games. In my eyes fun additions like skins, costumes, camos are all fine to be paid for in a free game. However in a paid AAA Title I expect everything to be unlockable through pure playtime.
Well Forza 5 does that I hear you say, yes you are correct almost every single car bar one or two that are DLC are unlockable though playing the game and earning credits. So whats the deal? Some users don't find these intrusive but for me and many other customers we really dislike seeing 2 options in a paid retail game game to unlock content. When I go to buy a car in Forza it prompts me to buy with credits or cash. I feel pressured buying even with credits, I always have this feeling in the back of my mind that the developer or publisher has an active goal to get people to buy with money.
This theory goes hand in hand with what users of the Xbox One Game are saying. Many reports be it from friends or forum users claim the game has a lot of content missing from the get go and an emphasis is put on those real money transactions. Many are saying that there is what we call a "grind" to unlock cars. This has and always will be the case though, since the begging of games they have made a way to extend your experience and keep you playing over and over again to earn enough points, credits or stars to move onto the next level. However the experience in Forza is that the extended the grind to much, you would have to put hundreds and hundreds of hours to unlock all the cars.
I honestly believe that companies like this think we are stupid, it is obvious that the pure man hours to unlock the same content as in Forza 4 (its predecessor) has risen. They clearly have a mission to sell those cars and sell lots. Again, I have zero problem with a games company being a business they HAVE to make money, just don't do it in a game that isn't free and where I have already spent $60 on your game, with day 1 DLC being announced and Season passes to rake in more money with content that should have been included on the disc.
Here I have taken some posts from forums and summed them up to show you customers distaste for the new sequel.
"Turn 10 says their vision for the new Forza
hey have left out many tracks most surprisingly not included, the Nurburgring . There are just 14 tracks available when its released, with the possibility that more will be added later through paid downloads. They've also pared down the 500 car selection to just 200 cars.
NeoGAF users Izayoi states
" - Half the on-disc cars as compared to Forza 4.
- Half the on-disc tracks of Forza 4 (The Ring is paid DLC!)
- New season pass gives you 60 cars at 83 cents each, old season pass gave you 60 cars at 50 cents each.
- Shamelessly takes the car token system to a new level."
Finally in some shocking revelations their payment is actually flawed and designed to trick users to paying more money. I will admit these have now been corrected as being a "mistake after a patch" but its begs the question would these have been changed by the developer if keen eyed forum users hadn't raised the issue, how many more consumers would be spending more on less.
You could buy 100 Credits for basically €1 or 575 Credits for €10 ( Their recommended package) This means you could buy 10 lots of the €1 Package and get 1,000 credits for the price of 575 Credits. Again, this has been corrected but it makes consumers very worried about the fact certain publishers and companies are simply becoming more greedy then ever before.
To put it bluntly it begs the question why the hell are we paying more then ever for Retail games at launch, with less content, less ambition, less love put into the game. Its turning into a money game rather than a passion project.
- Samuel Fletcher.
I felt compelled to start posting on my blog again after I have seen some quite outrages posts, tweets and videos about the new craze to be sweeping the Internet, Live Streaming. Usually I wouldn't post about this but when these channels reach huge audiences with very easily persuaded minds watching them I felt like someone should at least be honest about the new system.
Now before I explain why these posts are moronic let me bore you with a few stats. The live streaming site Twitch is getting more than 44+ million unique viewers per month, with each unique averaging 100 minutes of video per day and with 600,000 unique broadcasts aired each month you can definitely see why people want to stream and want to get a piece of that viewership pie.
However, people seem to be getting so unbelievably confused with what streaming exactly is and why the
"PlayStation 4 stream quality sucks."
I'll keep it brief and simple. Streaming is taking a source be it gaming etc, encoding it on the fly and sending it to a website that allows you to broadcast it to viewers. This is INCREDIBLY resource intensive, it is one of, if not the most intensive thing you can make your system do and this comes from a gamer, video editor, and casual music maker. I'll briefly explain how it works so you understand why the Next Generation console complaints seem daft.
You play a game with your CPU/GPU running at maxed, you then as well as a playing a AAA title fully maxed or whatever settings your system can achieve go and ask it to, encode a copy of exactly what your are doing and not encode it into a video format and have it be on your hard drive, but have it encode and be streamed to the internet. It is like playing a game twice! and in addition to that you can be doing other things such as webcams running, music playing, overlays to make the stream look nicer AND be encoding at more than 30 frames per second to get that smooth look. This again amazingly intensive. It is so daft that people moan about their quality not being HD when they are quite literally asking their PlayStation 4 to play the game in 1080p and stream in 1080p, if it could do anything near that level of intensity the games would be twice as good looking and we would never hear of articles coming out that say that
"The Next Generation of consoles have issues maintaining 1080p 60 fps"
To put into perspective I run an i5 3570K at 4.3 ghz (Overclocked) and a 3GB 7970 DDR5. This is a pretty high end machine and yet if I try to stream at 720p 60 I can "feel" that I am streaming, my game doesn't feel smooth, it is less responsive and ultimately I can't perform at the same level when I am not streaming as it hinders how I play. Now If I crank it up the stream to 1080p 30-60 fps the game is basically unplayable, sure I still hit high in game FPS with 50-100, but it feels awful. This is why you see sponsored professional gamers with top, top end systems dropping their graphics quality to push a better quality of stream. You need a CPU that has hyper threading ( i7 Range) or CPU more than 4 cores to be blunt, 4 cores to run the game and the others can do the encoding and even then its a struggle!
An example would be Starcraft 2, there aren't many people that when streaming use full graphic settings and this game is only optimized for 2 cores, meaning 2 are left to stream which makes it better on lower end systems in my experience.
So how does this relate to the Playstation 4 or Xbox One?
You are asking a console to perform a task that a PC cannot do. It is a ridiculous statement to make. The next generation console don't have the power of my current PC and that struggles, what you are asking to do is for the console to play your games in 1080p 60FPS AND stream. It isn't going to happen without some drawbacks.
You cannot lower graphic settings currently of current generation games on console, so what you see is what you get. It would be nice if the console said, "I am going to lower the graphic settings of Killzone so you can stream in 720p", but the reality is, they just wont. So they have to lower the resolution to 540p so the system can maintain a playable user end experience.
The console also streams at 60fps, which is far more intensive than 30 fps, whether the system can provide an update that allows users to chose their frame rate which will unlock new quality options is yet to be seen, personally I wouldn't wait on it though. For all I know their architecture may only allow people to stream at the frame rate they play, to be honest its a miracle the systems can even stream without any noticeable "it feels jittery and laggy" side effects.
It really annoys me when people post daft YouTube comments like .....
"Man Sony should just update their twitch app"
What does that even mean? Update it so it can? What? Somehow have a better encoder then a dedicated chip like the ELgatoHD. Yes somebody actually moaned that their dedicated streaming device looked better than the PS4.
Streaming on consoles is a fun aside, a nice way to show your friends your gameplay, but it isn't to be taken seriously. If you want to stream and want HD you need a separate capture card device and a PC to stream that video that the capture card is taking.
To my knowledge the way the console streaming works is it limits the video resolution to 540P which is less than HD and does look bad, but if you a good upload speed (3-5MB+) you can at least get a sharp clear image. If you have good upload be sure to chose the "best" quality, if your upload speed is lower than 2mb, you won't get a good image quality as their isn't enough bandwidth to create create an unpixelated stream.
The fact is consoles are limited by nature, you cant overclock them as you have a standard cooler, games don't have changeable graphic settings to make encoding easier so you have to compromise somewhere to get the streaming feature to work, PlayStation chose resolution while maintaining a high smooth FPS, Xbox one on the other hand might opt for a better resolution but lower frame rate. But you must see the similarities, both companies have to make compromises as the systems simply aren't powerful enough to stream and play at native 1080p 60FPS.
Whether the team over at PlayStation learn to program on their system to better utilize thier power and enable you to push HD is for another day but I think its quite ridiculous that uniformed people expect a £350 console to do a job of a £1000 computer.
- Systems have to make comprises to play and stream simultaneously.
- Sony Lowered their max resolution output to 540p to achieve this otherwise games would lag when being played.
- A lower upload speed results in a lower quality stream.
- Console games have no changeable graphic options so they can't play at lower settings in order to stream at higher resolutions .
- In the future they may get more out of their system.
- A dedicated media encoder such as the HDPVR or ELGato WILL be better then on-board encoding. FACT.
If you enjoy this or wanted to share the knowledge then be sure to tweet the post around or post to your nearest and dearest.
MY CHANNEL - http://www.youtube.com/VideoFletcher
MY TWITTER - https://twitter.com/VideoFletcher
MY STREAM - http://www.twitch.tv/ggzii
Click to Download MP3 Podcast here
Gears Of War... The Third person shooter franchise that quite honestly revolutionised the console genre for a large period of time and yet someone appears to be falling of the face of gaming. How is it possible that a game that in the early 2006-2008 period had been constantly and comfortably competing with the top 3 spot somehow has become a game that can take onwards of 15 minutes to find a single player v player match up.
In my final video, my final analysis, I will cast my nearly 7 years of playtime, community interaction and thought upon the game, where is succeeded, where it sored high above the competition and how its spiral of downwards popularity was inevitable but ultimately controllable. I may sound rather clinical in my words but just trust me when I say, Gears of War up until a point was by far the most fun and enjoyment I have ever had.
Just to show I have put some thought into this there will be many statistics that can be found upon reading major nelson blog and finding past archives, talks etc. For those that read my previous long article then this video or article however you are finding it will try to build upon it as many claimed my article was mere speculation and that no one could possibly know how judgment would shake up their franchise, for good or worse.
So here I am, a little after 4 weeks into the launch of Epic Games new iteration of the GoW Franchise, Judgment. So here I am, ready and waiting to judge it. So Thanks for taking the time to read. Who knows who will read or listen but if you do stick around, thanks and also thanks for supporting my small silly channel since Nigh on 2007 onwards.
If you think I am wrong on some sections then that's just fine, just move onto a new section and read the next section with open eyes. One thing you should note in all of this is that perception is reality; now think about that, perception is reality. If you for example stream, or make content and 99% of the viewer’s / fan base believe you are wrong then simply you ARE wrong you may not like that, but it’s how the world works. If you killed a man and you are on death row, you are a murderer; regardless of innocence, perception IS reality.
I'm going not this time going to try be brief, I am in fact going to mention every single thing that I have ever thought about the game, Good or bad.
I have played GoW since 2006. Seven years later I am running a channel, still actively playing, all be in a lot less and well simply making patch videos and balance videos to keep the community in the loop, Tutorials for players and fun videos to try spice up an every bland and sombre community... and rage ones there always pretty good.
Over this year I have read literally over 100,000 and received 1 Million views in relation to this game, (not lots) but considering I aim my videos to the adults in the community and I refuse to cater to the children that YouTube is ran by then that for me and is certainly enough to give an opinion on. So here an overview of what we feel needs changing and importantly, what is currently good and previously good.
I have had hundreds of hours of discussions with players, people in game chat, competitive players, casuals, friends that don’t own the game plus those comments etc on my channel that aims to grow and improve the franchise and point out its flaws so that it can indeed grow. I am not here to moan, I am passed that, only to HELP. I will try to break it down into sections that I see fit and trust me; I'm bound to miss out all the little things.
It’s actually quite hard to put this into any sort of order because the forums and social aspect of the game effect the player base, the player base is effected by that social element, the maps effect population, so does the marketing, the skill cap, the DLC etc. So I’ll just let topics flow and hope you know that they all directly and indirectly affect each other.
This is an important topic, but one that I am going to glance over for the sake of you and me. Now let me point out some of the points are hard not to dive into early or overlap but here is my take and generalisation.
Marketing and driving players to your game is obviously the first challenge, here is my take on what happened, again greatly summed up. I personally found Gears Of War through their Television Campaign, you know that corpser advert with the mad world song, you all know it. I can’t imagine how many other people bought the game after that dark, gripping and graphically awesome scene. I know personally the internet wasn’t quite as large then, YouTube marketing campaigns wouldn’t have worked, same with twitter, but I really do feel the future games of the franchise really missed that television marketing and importantly correct marketing. You have to know your audience, and know it well. There is no point trying to sell a student a Ferrari when he can’t even afford coffee, you get the point. I know the internet is this massive thing and if your games are slowly getting less and less players then its tempting to cut marketing, but I would say marketing is the one area you shouldn’t cut the budget on.
Maybe the future games ala, Gears of War 2/3/Judgment really did have a good TV campaign, and I just missed it because I watch more internet TV then regular, but then again maybe that’s the idea, more people are watching the internet so we will skip the TV altogether but then again, I managed to see blacktops multiplayer trailer on the TV and I barely watch TV anymore and plus they really don’t need the marketing but they still do it. Obviously they have a bigger budget but even so, the marketing GoWJ was almost embarrassing to the point that my small channel gained 5k views on a “No locust in Multiplayer” and another 35k on “GoWJ Changes”
People in GoW3 lobbies thought I was trolling when I told them the changes because literally nobody knew. I wonder how many people bought the game thinking it would be more of the same and then were shocked at the Multiplayer.
There just was NO marketing and even the small bits on YouTube from epic were so amazingly uninspiring that no wonder no newcomers picked up the game here and if they are new and did buy the game then damn must their views on GoW be different to the veteran players view. It used to be this dark, gritty, gory 18+ games that was fast and intense, now the marketing is the jokey Baird for kilo squad introducing you to Team death match! It is uninspiring and it lost its gears feel. Damn, there isn’t even locust in multiplayer anyway. I mean the only promotion it had were a demo, of one bland map of a mode that is actually really good but they demo’d it on the worst map no doubt putting even more people off.
When it comes to marketing they should have gone to its roots. Have a dark, gritty landscape, introduce the new main “Bad guy” then Boom, ramp up the speed, fast pace Multiplayer clips, scrap the tactical element and show them that this game is gritty, bloody and fast. Don’t tell them to “Listen up soldier this is Team Death Match” The people that like Call of duty, play call of duty. Appeal to the own audience you worked so hard on getting in 2006. The game and importantly the hype wasn’t big enough to not be marketed to solely the forum dwellers and internet, especially to the internet, because damn, they were already pretty cynical about this franchise as a whole and well they really were off put by the limited news, even the updates on the forums from the developers podcast didn’t really stem the flow of backlash. They wanted to be reassured, not have the info hidden or jumbled in a new more complex order.
There is a lot more I could say, but that will suffice, quite frankly, they aimed their game at a market that only reads negative things. The internet you have to be careful with it goes one way or the other, there aren’t that many neutrals on here, and it’s the nature of anonymity.
What is player base, player base is quite simply the population that is playing that game. Now I am not going to sit here and tell you I know the player base of Gears Of War, but I will simply state some fairly logical and obvious points.
Games are now a business and we must treat them as that, they must be viable in order to sustain their current “mass” so to speak or grow, games simply aren’t allowed to shrink and receive the same support financially, they are a business. However I honestly don’t believe any console franchise has really grasped the concept of how to implement a sustainable cash flow into their business or game without honestly, pissing of the vast of their consumer base. Also, I don’t really want to discuss competitive as to me personally, some games are competitive, and others are merely popular so get on the “circuit” but being popular I guess is half the battle as it is a spectator sport so to speak. So let’s look and get back on track to the whole player base concept for Gears Of War.
In layman’s terms, here is how I see games.
You have X Number of players that have your game or own your games.
For consoles, you have X Number of players that will rent your game before purchasing, or look at footage / demos / reviews and base their purchase without even playing the game, I know I have done that on many occasions.
Out of the pool of number of people a percentage of people will go on to do a few things.
Some play single player offline, others head straight into multiplayer, some play both and stay and become a so called regular player. That’s a massive generalisation, but you get the point.
Now of those players you will again have a percentage that with spend on your DLC, skins or your micro transactions, A percentage that will introduce players to your game and even a percentage of people that will watch and pay to go and watch tournaments. Now that is a lot of percentages.
So with so many damn niches how the hell do you keep everyone entertained and happy. It’s a massive jobs, to make a successful game you have to at least smash one of these things out the park.
You have to say, make your campaign so brilliant that people just multiplayer as a bonus as the single player experience was enough. Bioshock 2 springs to mind, the multiplayer was laggy, it had issues but the single players just about pulled through but trust me, even then some people were saying “focus on the Single player” “forget multiplayer”, it almost backfired. Similarly, Call of Duty has such a damn terrible single player, but who cares, there are millions online, you never have to wait for matches, you can unlock camo’s, and hell if the game annoys you can play it a massive party and have a blast for the most part. Regular DLC keeps it fresh, lots of updates, feedback, it’s a beast that can’t be stopped. Do I like the game? No, have I played every single one? Yes, then why?
Games are better with friends, and Call of duty is massive so it’s just a game you pick up because everyone in the damn world will have it and screw it, if it sucks it becomes something just to chill out on, rank up, and unlock some guns and play and hell you might like next years. Importantly though, the formula never ever changes, hate or love it, its Call of Duty. So if you love it, great, you can play it every year, if you hate it? You’re no doubt buying it because your friends love it.
This is where Gears Of War Lost the plot, big time. For any business consistency is key, you find something successful and repeat, repeat, repeat and feed it to the consumer until you have become a part of their lives and they can’t live without it. Then maybe you can make some big changes because they trust you.
So in my eyes, here is how the game intended to play out. I knew I had heard this somewhere and I can’t find the exact quote, but it goes something a little like this.
“It’s not well-known that the first title in the series wasn’t even supposed to have multiplayer, it was just thrown in at the last-minute of development and nobody knew how it would be received. I picked it up because of the single player campaign. I actually bought an Xbox 360 for the campaign mode alone, not much was known about the multiplayer at that time but the fact that it fired straight to the top of the Xbox Live multiplayer charts said a lot.”
So now we have established that Multiplayer was a Clear, Clear after thought. What happened, how did it play out? Now when I talk about all this, please note I am bearing this quote in mind and I will tell you what bad parts the game also had.
“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”
Right, now that it’s clear I am not viewing the past with rose tinted glasses, here we go.
People playing only single player would and I speak from experience, would be utterly shocked heading into multiplayer.
The game honestly told you how to play, remember the section where the locust burst through the door and it tells you, stand and spin your grenade at the door. The game was a very rigid shooter, it needed to be, It had cover and it was a glorious moment when you felt like you could interact with the environment, take cover, swap, pop and shoot, it was glorious. I don’t need to talk up the game anymore, I love it, always will. But this is Multiplayer and single player, so how did the Single Player change the Multiplayer experience.
Well what was amazing about this experience and no doubt why I became so invested in the game is quite literally, nobody new how to play it. This was a brand new franchise, not even just a shooter; this was a damn cover shooter, watching and participating in an always evolving game was honestly amazing. This where I feel epic didn’t run with the concept that years, literally years of play time turned the game into.
So how people used to play was as you expect, no movement, lots of running, some people didn’t even know you could hold A to run as A was the evade button and the cover switch button. So for months people wouldn’t control the map, they would trot around, stumble on a power weapon and trade out whatever was in their hand, lancer and shoot in cover, just do very, very basic things, cover was new, the possibilities were fairly set it seemed, sit and shoot or walk and shoot.
Then after many months, the game ramped up in pace, really ramped up. I remember being a complete fanboy of these two players, Mr Mayday and Prankzy. They had the game figured out for a while. It was mansion and by now the ‘meta’ was set that you push boom, get boom and win, similar metas had developed on other maps that for example on Canals, One guy grabs snipe, snipe out commences on Bridge or High Side, then check torque where a couple would be looking to grab the bow and the other would roam high or push low to nades hell he might even get headshot picking up nades, because predictable play / animations allow skill to be developed . Anyway I got side tracked as personally I just like the idea of the map shaping the meta, So usually you sit and lancer and maybe one good player would use the movement of strafing ( art of side to side movement in a way to make yourself unpredictable and make them miss ) and you would get boom and then nobody could dodge it ( pre patch)
But then this one guy literally dominated, he killed everyone. I was full fanboy and from that point my aim was to get as good as him or better. He pushed boom full sprint and would melee and shoot ( 2 piece ) everyone, know this may sound 'nooby' but when you have everyone trotting around and this guy is just going in, straight in, and he will push the boom and kill him and he carried. Then people slowly adapted to this learning to back off, shoot, stun him and then 2 pieces or body him yourself. The game kept evolving, getting faster, and the development of the weapon slide so you couldn’t take damage while picking up the gun, the wallbounce then eventually the strafe to counter the bounce. This happened fairly quickly and soon the game was all about movement and predictability.
The animations and consistency made it a top game, all top games have elements of predictability.
Just as a side note, some people really loved the fast paced side, others couldn’t adapt or merely didn’t put the massive amount of time needed in to get out of the rigid ‘campaign mode’ and quicken their play and most importantly understand the game. If you have snipe shot, bait or predict a roll or animation and bam you have a headshot. Otheres would still try to walk up and chainsaw, getting the odd kill, not weapon sliding or crying about how it was a glitch and honestly being bad players that didn’t learn or importantly and had just come from campaign not expecting such a fast paced beating, they would sit and lancer and get sniped and no doubt either moan or adapt like many people and go “If I sit with my head out I will get sniped” the list goes on.
So the game evolved, so what? The point is, that the game because VASTLY different in multiplayer then was ever expected, cover was a merely a tool to make battles quicker, more intense, more skilled. It wasn’t rigid at all, they wanted a tactical third person game instead the players flipped the game on its head and it became a fast past movement and prediction game to a large extent. So how did the game modes influence this? Did they help or hinder this new style.
Here where the game modes luckily and I say luck because this wasn’t planned, came into play.
So if I am correct in saying none of the modes were planned and were thrown at the last minute then why did players grow so attached to it? Simple, it worked, in logic and in execution. I remember many an interview with cliffy B where he stated that ‘The modes followed the Counter Strike model, elimination, last man standing so to speak, this no doubt bound to cause amazing moments when you are the only player alive on your team, with communication to your team, it was all on you. Return victorious and be greeted with an explosive reaction to your win. There has been no greater rush in a game, then pulling out the 1v4 for the win and being lauded by your team. This was the what we know have come to know as “the gears twist” every mode has had it, be it TDM, Execution or assassination, they were a gamemode that was new or a tried and tested method but had a twist to make it unique, be it talking to the enemy team when dead, killing the leader ends the round etc etc
So now I will try to break down all the modes available, why they worked, didn’t work and any other points I feel necessary. Firstly let’s look at the first Iteration in what has now become a Trilogy + 1
Gears Of War One November 7, 2006
In this game no servers existed, it was P2P aka, player hosted. Important to note that players were not region locked or put under regions, players hosted and there was a ping bar ( all be in not the most accurate and could have been improved to update as more people joined that lobby but it meant that you could chose to play on a slightly ‘laggier’ American connection at night if all the Europeans were sleeping. This allowed more people to meet and play at their own time. Also super quick note, DLC didn’t effect players as if you didn’t have it, you simply didn’t join games where people were hosting those maps and if you tried to join it would say “You do not have the same content as the host” not having the DLC did not in any way effect your ability to play the game, even if you were in a map cycle that had DLC maps in it, you could join and play until a DLC map came up and it would kick you but remember you were allowed to play every other map and importantly join.
Ranked - A brief summary of this mode.
Ranked was Epic Games take on a competitive setting. Ranked would be hosted by a player, the play would be able to customise certain settings to a certain degree but not so much that players wouldn’t know what to expect, remember consistency is key.
The values that were allowed to be changed were the Map, bleed out duration aka the time it takes for you bleed out or the time it takes for you to get up on your own, number of rounds and round duration. Now that may sound kind of standard, but this is literally the only game to this day on console that I have been able to customise my online experience without it being a private match.
These were online matches that other players could join. So what did this mean?
Well simply, the players played what they wanted to play, there were no updates, no patching to a certain extent, players played what they felt and wanted to do on that day. I will fully explain the implications of these below but for now I will go on to explain the modes as I feel its important so players that may never have played the game understand.
So now why have established ranked was a somewhat customisable system, what else was there?
Player Matches / The importance of the social aspect.
Player matches were again, player hosted except these included more features so as well as being able to change the Map, bleed, number of rounds, round duration you could also add a map cycle, this meant you could select the 6 MLG maps to rotate or play the relatively unplayed ranked maps to spice it up a bit and you could change the weapon swaps but most importantly of all, the ability to kick players that join. Self-moderation was a massive part of the appeal of player matches.
These sessions we PUBLIC and the community could join yours, so those that maybe didn’t fancy playing the rigid ranked mode they could hop into a lobby that suited them. For example Mausoleum and lets say garden were relatively underplayed maps, someone could host a cycle and switch the weapons, people may join and go, “God this map sucks” and joing a canals lobby or you may find a group of players that also love those maps and boom they could add you and you formed a little group and you could play those maps all day as you now have a group of likeminded players joined because they all like the same settings.
Similarly the swaps had effects on all kinds of players, some would host the one map and just have it loop and loop and have snipers everywhere. These were how sniper matches were born, headshots only, don’t kill with anything other than a sniper headshot or get kicked from the lobby. I can’t point out more just how important custom games were, I player literally thousands of them. StarCraft 2 is currently struggling to due its lack of Custom games or ability to find them.
Some newer players may have just joined canals and killed with a shotgun and got kicked and then they would either find a new lobby, ask why they were kicked and the re-join, play by the hosts tiles and then also be brought into the sniper culture, if they liked the sound of that. Still even if you didn’t like the sniper culture you could always host your own lobby and kick the sniper kids if you just want shotguns or kick the laggy 2 piecers, each host had a personality and it’s what kept the game fresh, not the modes or weapons, the players. You may find a host that lets anything go, 2 piece, boomshot, active down, you may do anything and not get kicked, so you might really like that and stay in that lobby until it closes or you may go and find a new lobby.
This is a perfect example of why didn’t they run with it. What they could and should have done is kept player matches and given people the ability to name their own lobbies. So players searching canals for example might see
“MLG Cycle Come Play”
“Sniper Match 24/7”
Now that player can now pick does he want, a regular mode, a mode with try hard players or a sniper match. This for me would have been hands down the best feature to ever arrive in GoW. Naming your lobby and having the public join would be HUGE.
Similar in ranked y ou may like a really long match first 19, or just fancy a quick first to 3, you could find a game for you also the round duration was pretty big for making your lobby popular, don’t set It too long and people may run around to annoy you, set it to short and you will have stalemates. A very popular match was first to 19 raven down, 1 minute duration, 5 second bleed out. People would pile in every round and then go super try hard for the in at the end, you could play whatever length you wanted. Something future games began to lack, but that’s another point along the way so I’ll just gloss over that.
Anyway let me just now that these systems weren’t perfect by any means, you may get kicked for being too good or they may just want to make space for a friend so you get kicked but that was all down to the host and if you came across a host like that, you would find a new lobby or just go and play ranked as anything goes there, no holds bar, just try to win the match.
It’s important to note that Gears Of War One did not feature ranks and your statistics were not publicly available, this is a massive thing. Think about it, the game is still played today 8 years later, did we need ranked? If you wanted to know where you were in the world or earn achievements for getting say 100 sniper kills, then you had to played ranked, this naturally brought people into the mode and also gave people a reason to try new guns and tactics. You would quite often think to yourself, this guy has only used grenades to tag my body, he must be going for the achievement. It was pretty fun, hell for a period there were even first to one rooftops matches where you could boost and take turns to get headshots or hammer of dawn kills for the achievement, may I add, those were REALLY fun to ruin.
So in short the people that wanted to know how many kills / deaths they had, how many matches they had won or lost had to play ranked and at the end of it all, only you or people on your friends list would know your stats if they looked at their leaderboards. This is something people I feel overlook, the reason in some ranked matches people would happily run in and die 8 times trying to get one hammer of dawn kill or didn’t mind doing badly was because there was no pressure, this stupid pressure that has been invented by publicly showing your stats, this wasn’t the case. People could play ranked, slowly earn their achievements or personal goals, for example, I tried to get as many headshots and curb stomps as possible, I also to do this in Warzone because people would know I didn’t active down players and headshot them on the way back up for the headshot, it would have to be one shot one kill. I ended up getting 8,000 headshots online (no mean feat I may add ) and getting to the top 100 for a long period eventually stabilising in the top 1k for warzone, but nobody knew that, nobody knew my rank, my K/D my number of headshots.
What happened were people played exactly how they wanted and lots didn’t care if they went negative because the in game scoreboard did not show your deaths, only kills. This meant if you lost, you couldn’t look up someone’s K/D in that game and tell them they were bad, you literally had to say “I am going to get even more kills next game” and hopefully my team is a little better, but you had no idea who had the most deaths and importantly the stats on your team. This meant you couldn’t say “Wow a level 90 with a 0.5 K/D” your shit etc, your whole job was to prove yourself in game, that was what was so good about the game. I could be in the top 100 but if I got no kills and had a shocker then my teammates would think he sucks or alternatively you may have a terrible K/D but one really good match and nobody would know if you got lucky etc.
This directly changed how the game was played, nobody cared about K/D so the game was very fast as no one was afraid to die, if you wanted to work out your K/D and win loss you had to do the division and maths yourself for god sake. So this meant everyone searched on their own or with a friend at most.
Another Enormous point that many, many, people forget is how there was no party systems and most importantly a massively overlooked point is there was no party chat! Only private chat, so only 2 people could talk privately. So in ranked or player so if you wanted to get in the same ranked match you had to tell your friend, there is a lobby, its Mansion, First to 6, 4 minute duration, 6 people in the lobby, there may be 2 of the same lobby and you may join the wrong one and just say, “fuck it, Ill play the next one” or you may get in the lobby but be on opposite teams, but of course, that didn’t matter because you would go into game chat for the atmosphere and so not to cheat and tell each other where players were, you couldn’t see anyway as there was no ghost cam / rotating cameras, the camera was locked in ranked another massive point, this stopped calling out the enemies and allowed ‘clutches’ to happen.
A massive flaw was host advantage but people in ranked had an unspoken code, host goes on cog and the worse players may want to play on the host team, and others may play against the host to make it a tougher match, I think this is why we all love the locust. The only time it could get a little annoying is when a very good player would host and sit and abuse host all day for easy kills but you soon learnt those players names or their typical settings and found new lobbies, typically we let the guys with the good connections host or the new people host. What was cool about ranked for me is at the end more often than not the host would say “Right I am hosting the same again but on Fuel Depot” so everyone in that lobby would look for again, First to 6, 4 round duration, fuel depot, hell sometimes he may even ask you what map people want. So you would immediately form this group and play again, meaning lobbies filled up faster and you may even say “Ill go on your team this time” again, it was a great way to meet players, talk to them as everyone was in game chat and it was a lot of fun, and that’s why we play games, for fun.
These two gametypes had perfect synergy, those that wanted a 4v4 every time with standard swaps, no kicking anything goes and the ability to climb the leader board would play ranked. Those that wanted to invite their friends and play in partys of more than two would play player matches and those that wanted weapon swaps would also play player matches. Of course you got the odd 3-4 man team in ranked but it was very very rare and the game was much more solo in nature with no win ratios etc so it was more run and gun with friends then abuse the fact you are a full team, also one way to deal with a team was to simply kill one of them, because you couldn’t talk when you were dead and party chat didn’t exist then there would only be three talking, kill another and all of a sudden is two people and not two people but with 4 pairs of eyes calling out. It was more manageable. I feel the two game modes worked and well for one it definitely showed what the community liked.
I am not going to go into game modes but the popular modes by far Execution and warzone in ranked, for those that like to get up on their own or warzone for those that could kill someone across the map when downed or they needed a team mate to pick them up.
Annex wasn’t an objective game mode at all, people just used it as a way to play a never ending match, this was never played in ranked as for one the kills didn’t count to any achievements and two, people just played in player matches as explained before to just not capture the ring and have 2 hour long shotgun matches, all killing each other in the middle trust me, it happened. Assassination never took off in either mode really.
Here is why I chose the title, why didn’t they run with it. They had all this customisation, sure there were bugs, glitches, shotgun sponging, lag, more glitches but by now it was evident that players loved, loved, the game chat aspect, the no talking, no spectating around the map when dead, the speed of the game, the predictable animations for sniping, the strafe, the long shotgun matches, the map cycles, the no stats etc and yes it was an enormous shotgun fest in publics with the odd sniper and boomshot thrown in However in competitive play it was a very different ball game.
Also note that GoW2/3/J introduced ranks
GoW2 had a skill rank, interesting and made people want to improve, it was flawed but I liked it and I wish they ran with that and improved it. Instead they brought in 1-100 with one or two character unlocks to keep you interested, needless to say it didn't. GoW surely proves that we didnt need ranks to have fun.
GoW3 had 1-100 again, with the same numbers however after you reached video you could "re up" and do 1-100 again gaining 1 skin per re up. Not fun, I would have preferred they didnt sell their weapon skins and progressively added them so you could keep unlocking stuff whilst ranking rather than having level 1 unlock the skin, then nothing for 99 ranks. They added colours, red, blue and green. I have no idea why they chose those colours at all. Plus you needed to buy their DLC to re up. The ranking system was very boring.
GoWJ did 1-50 and allowed you to re up 11 times each time gaining a start. Hardly addictive. Their ranking systems merely promoted XP whoring in bots etc. It didnt make it more fun and didn't add skill. Quin who recently left Epic Games added 1-50 skill ranks to Halo 4. Take notes!
The call of duty system only works as you lose everything and have to re unlock it. GoW you always have your guns, so its pointless.
I said I didn’t want to go into competitive as personally I feel this issue lie in matchmaking and other areas because a game can be successful without a competitive scene if it is fun! But as the competitive scene most definitely did effect the future of GoW Games let me very quickly touch upon the subject and of course I’m summarising it very roughly. Please not the bleed out was slightly longer at 15 instead of the usual 5 to allow you to get to the down before he got up also.
Most maps had a sniper on it, plus Lancers were the go to weapon, the snipers job was to open up the play, you would have either two things happen, there would be a standoff, lots of lancering / pistoling, trying to get him on his last down and then lancer him out trying to pressure people in to bad positions / away from areas etc, force a roll etc. Lancering off host was hard as you had to lead the shot, same with all guns, so you would have to think where is he going, and lancer there instead of just putting it on him, this is why movement and juking with the strafe was so key also team work was key in coordinating shots. So anyway, Then the sniper could push up or headshot someone or down them. Getting a down was a massive thing, it wasn’t nooby as seen online because players were much better and knew the places you could get downed from and just didn’t go there. So if you Snipe them and you have numbers, you can push and try to take the 4v3 or use the numbers to secure another power weapon, eventually whittle them down to one player where he has to try a clutch or stalemate it, people obviously didn’t want let him stalemate it so even being 1v4 you still had to kill him to secure the round, the other guy would put himself in the clutch spot and try to shotgun them all, it was intense.
Or on the flip side it would be a massive 4 man push, they may know that the other team sends 2 top, 1 low, 1 sniper so they would 4 man push the top and win the 4v2 and then clear up the round, pushes still happened even with players knowing and being effective with rifles. Lancers / pistols were used a hell of a lot in GB, Scrims and LANS. However as many just played online, all they got was the shotgun. Now I never heard anyway ever calling the shotgun OP, sure some peoples did more damage due to connection, but no one ever said the term “shotgun noob” and nobody complained about the lack of rifles, after all, we decided how the game should be played, lancers to support ( when in super try hard mode ) and shotguns as the main damage. However according to the GoW 2 launch there was a vocal minority that said they hated the fact the game was all shotguns and rifles sucked even though they didn’t ever see or play in competitive, they just sucked at shotgun fights so assumed it was overpowered and couldn’t rifle everyone for every kill like other modern games. So instead of putting in the time to learn how to lancer properly, quite frankly they just cried on the forums. Now the developers should know that at the highest levels of play that the lancers were used and not useless so these people should have been ignored, after all a game should be balanced for the highest level of play, not the lowest level. Here is my example, if I am a footballer or “soccer player” and I am a goal keeper at the age of 10 and I chose have to defend full size goals and everyone keeps scoring then does that mean the goals are broken or peoples shots are to good? Neither it means I am not ready for those nets and I should either ignore it and keep practicing saving the shots or try smaller nets, It doesn’t mean that I complain to FIFA and ask all goals to be made smaller or ask the ball to be made bigger to catch, because that would mean all the high level games with professionals would change because world class keepers are better at saving shots in smaller nets etc.
The same goes for games, just because I am bad at lancering doesn’t mean I should moan and tell everyone that it needs to change because again that would affect the top level of player and either make it a lot easier to lancer people and that would directly affect play styles if a top player got their hand on a new buffed weapon.
So now we can see how clearly the balance so finely laid out in Gears Of War 1, any slight tweaks would most definitely effect the push heavy play styles, this is one of the reasons warzone was never picked up, being able to killed from afar with a good team that would coordinate their shots when you go down basically meant you were dead, there were effectively no downs so it wasn’t fun. Warzone was however popular online due to the fact it meant you didn’t have to get close to people so in shotgun battles you could always kill those on the floor on kill the guy you sniped down without it being stolen.
Again don’t get me wrong, Gears Of War One had flaws, people could glitch out of all the maps, host advantage was MASSIVE, but players in online games used it to challenge them and in competitive added this whole thing of “Yes we took 4 maps on their host, almost a Gears twist in of itself “
You would get stuck to cover, you would sniper people in the head and they wouldn’t die, people would sponge shots, there were lots of flaws, like any game will have in its first debut, but they now had clear evidence that this new fast paced close quarters gameplay is what people loved where lancers or rifles played a support role to aid the shotgunners. Evidence is clear as it held its own with arguably the best games of our time in Halo 3, and Call of Duty 4, it was consistently in the top 1- 5 most played even when competing with the giants of the console market.
(Facts taken from Major Nelson Blog archives from 2006-2008/9)
I think that’s enough of what made the game so popular, so will refer you to my title
“Why didn’t you run with it. “
Quick Note on DLC / Updates ( IMPORTANT )
Everything that was on the disc was immediately available to them bar a few character unlocks that you need to do the campaign for. As far as I know there was no maps hidden and locked on the disc.
During the 2 years of the game we received a few pieces of DLC, One was a free Sponsored DLC by discovery if my memory serves me correctly, which featured raven down, a small action packed map which became one of the most played maps ever and Hidden Fronts: Bullet Marsh · Garden · Process · Subway. All these maps were well received maybe bar garden but even that was used on Game Battles.
Also please note, with the game being Player Hosted, it would be very, very easy to make a note of which maps were being played the most, jotted down the common themes of the map and why players liked them so much. I remember watching a Counter Strike Interview and they looked at the most played servers were then brought back into the next game, de_dust etc. There was a wealth of information for developers to find out what swaps were used, eg Boomshot for hammer on fuel depot etc
I’ll talk about maps when I get to the Gears of War Judgment part but for now, will many a fans waited 3 years for Gears Of War 2, with all its customisation being so popular, what did the fans get?
Don’t worry these sections will get shorter as you yourself will be able to make judgment calls on if they were the right move or not based up my personal thought on Gears Of War One.
Gears Of War Two
November 7, 2008, exactly two years to the day of GoW1 release.
I feel it’s only appropriate to start with a few quotes from Epic Games.
“The ending to Gears of War heavily suggested a sequel, and at the 2007 Game Developers Conference, Bleszinkski confirmed that Epic Games did "intend to do a sequel" to Gears of War. The game's sequel, Gears of War 2 was officially confirmed on February 20, 2008, and was released at midnight on November 7, 2008.
Despite being published by Microsoft, the Gears of War IP is wholly owned by Epic Games. In an interview, Epic CEO Mike Capps stated his desire to eventually bring Gears of War to other platforms, such as the PlayStation 3. However, he further stated "Time and time again, when it came down to figure out what we do next with Gears, we sat down with Microsoft and they've given us really good, compelling reasons to work with them again."
And here is an end game quote
““Straight out of the box, Gears of War 2's multiplayer in regards to matchmaking was very very clunky and very very seldom worked. That's something we take very very seriously and feel very very bad about.”
Well that was a bloody good way to some up that, NEXT! But in all seriousness why exactly did this game, flop so hard and I say this so bluntly because if the company themselves feel bad about it something must have gone wrong. Hey it isn’t all bad new though I actually do have some good things to say about GoW2.
Now this game was announced 1 year before it came out, I remember hating them announcing it so early because I had to wait almost a year to play it, so this game had a massive hype train. What was really odd coming to think of it is that the game really didn’t have anything said about it. I saw a few trailers on the dashboard, the meatshield concept, waves of locust, Marcus spriniting, I thought, damn this is going to be sweet, classic Gears and Cliff even told us that host advantage had gone, so it was going to be classic GoW, New campaign, new map, glitches fixed, sweet! So with nothing else advertised I thought, sweet that’s that. I’ll just wait to buy, like most people I didn’t spend my time reading forums, reading articles, speculation reading threads and giving ideas, I didn’t even know the forums existed. Why would I ever need to go on the forums or get help from the company? I had no issues with GoW really and I really liked the game.
So what I think happened and maybe the longer serving forum members can tell me is that during that year, all the people that still were losing shotgun battles, missing full clips of lancers, out strafing and then pop shot sniping people went onto the forums. For me a forum is an issue place, I didn’t need to go on there and say “Wow Epic amazing job on GoW, I hope GoW2 is great” because that’s a waste of time, however I may if I had known forums existed then I may have said the glitches are annoying please fix them but surely that’s obvious? Remember Facebook wasn’t this massive thing in 2006 where company’s posted balance updates, developer blog updates, nothing was social, they just got on and did there thing. So to me based upon that reasoning the only people that go on forums are people who bitch about stuff and illogically at that.
So during this year, all the whiners must have said do this, do that, tweak X and for some reason EPIC didn’t discuss their planned changes with the people that were still playing GoW1 over Caof and Halo, because I am sure all of the people that loved GoW and like me felt no reason to visit a forum would have told them that these people were low calibre players that are playing the game wrong and they should listen to those that don’t understand how to team fire correctly etc for balance ideas. That didn’t happen though did it? We just got dished up GoW2 and let’s are honest; we were all a little stunned when we first played it.
The Great Divide!
I was one of them, I wanted to believe, and I couldn’t honestly believe the franchise had gone this bad! I played the game for 2 months, where people left after the first damn week and never returned. Trust me, I have had Multiple Xbox accounts full of 100 people and guess what, maybe 10 of them continue to play GoW2 after the launch, the rest stuck with GoW1! Now multiply that by the other thousands of friend’s lists. Taking stats from Major Nelsons blog GoW2 didn’t fair anything like its predecessor, whereas GoW1 lasted in the top 3 and even top 5 until the next game was released GOW2 dropped out of the top 10 within 6 months. Needless to say, GoW rapidly picked up again and even got ahead of GoW2 for a few months. So a massive portion of the community went back to GOW1, who cares? This sentence aggravates me to know end. That phrase, “Go back to GoW1” was the death of the franchise, there will be people sat here raging at that point. I know I was. So if you aren’t on the same page as many of us, let me explain.
The beginning of many an update
I knew I was right, after some digging here is what I came across. The point is that GoW2 issues came in abundance and one of them were the amount of updates that left fans not knowing what to xpect when they signed in. A large balance update needs time to grow, develop, look at Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm, massive changes but they announced no updates for at least 3 months because they want people to learn to deal with it rather than instantly buff or nerf. Anyway, I was thinking how smooth GoW1 Updates were and how they were only 2 to my knowledge game updates; the boom shot patch and a glitch patch for the old weapon slide. Anyway here it is.
Epic Games began working on new content for Gears of War in August 2006. The updates would remain free according to Epic Games president Mike Capps. The first of these updates was released over Xbox Live on January 9, 2007, with two new maps released the following day on January 10, 2007. The two maps reflected background scenes from the game's storyline, known as Raven Down and Old Bones, which depict Gears fighting Locust amidst the crash site of a King Raven chopper and a museum. Another update was released for Gears of War on January 22, 2007, which, according to Epic Games' Marc Rein, is said to fix some compatibility issues with the release of Gears of War in Japan, and that no game play or functionality features were changed.
On April 9, 2007, Epic Games released their third update, containing a new game mode titled Annex, which requires teams to capture and hold certain areas of each map, as well as additional gameplay tweaks and fixing up some glitches, bugs and exploits. The update was free of charge.
Epic Games initially said that four new maps would be released in conjunction with the third patch. However, due to disagreements between Microsoft and Epic Games, Epic decided instead to "put these maps on sale at a reasonable price then make them free a few months later," according to Mark Rein of Epic Games. The map pack, titled "Hidden Fronts", was released on Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points on May 3, 2007, and included the maps Bullet Marsh, Garden, Process, and Subway. Free downloads of these maps were made available on September 3, 2007, four months after their initial release.
A fourth update on June 14, 2007 added 250 additional Achievement points (bringing the total possible achievement points to 1250), in eight Achievements related to Annex mode and the maps from Hidden Fronts. Additionally, the update includes improvement of roadie run to keep the player from sticking to cover areas, and a patch to prevent the Annex clock from counting during connection errors. Other "housekeeping" issues were also addressed.
So really everything was eventually free and never even effected Multiplayer due to the whole P2P thing I explained before. So really everything was smooth, but something maybe you could note that maybe Microsoft Stifled their creativity and willingness to just give things time because they wanted sales.
Despite being published by Microsoft, the Gears of War IP is wholly owned by Epic Games. In an interview, Epic CEO Mike Capps stated his desire to eventually bring Gears of War to other platforms, such as the PlayStation 3. However, he further stated "Time and time again, when it came down to figure out what we do next with Gears, we sat down with Microsoft and they've given us really good, compelling reasons to work with them again."
Right, I am getting on with it.
I could ramble and talk for a lot longer but I am narrowing down my points for time sake.
Let’s get down to it, why did people suddenly drop the game and never play it. We have established that so many people loved the way the game had become fast paced lone wolf skilled shotgun game but also many appreciated the fact pistols and lancers were good weapons if you work together.
GoW2 flipped it on its head.
Now GoW2 wasn’t all that bad, it actually did either improve or stay on the same level for a fair amount of things but their remained a large chunk of flawed mechanics and issues that ultimately hurt the game far more than we thought possible.
Playlists and Party Matchmaking!
This is something even I was excited for, mistakenly exited for. What I thought would happen
is that you and your friend would party up and find the same game. So we didn’t need to private chat one another and tell them the rounds etc and try to all get in the same game. We would just get in the same lobby, so that would be nice.
What actually happened was that it would put you into a game, a random game, with random maps that people had to vote for and importantly we had no idea of the ping, many, many, many games had the worse lag I had ever played. One important factor for lag, the thing that really sucked about GoW2 was that it was 5v5, meaning that because the game was still player hosted people now had to support 10 players and not 8. This wasn’t an issue for some however for people like me with a 1mb connection is sucked. Although there was never any final word on it, it appeared that the person that hosted the party would be up in the running so to speak to be the host. So the two party leaders would be compared and then one would be given host. Meaning I for almost every game in my GoW2 history was given host. So whereas before I would struggle to host a 2v2, I was hosting 5v5’s. Now from my own experience the bigger the party you had the better the chance of host. Even though we were told host advantage had gone it was actually worse than ever because the net coding was so bad that host would almost be a free win unless you were really bad. Host advantage was so strong that people even were “forcing host” through their settings meaning they would always get host. A 4 man team on host in GoW1 was expected to win every time yet now they had 5 players and even laggier games meant host was even better.
This party system and VERY IMPORTANTLY party chat had been brought in meaning you could have 5 people in the same chat channel changed the way the game was played forever. Plus this system had multiple other implications that we didn’t expect.
Now because 5 people could be guaranteed to be in the same game and they all could now be in party chat there was literally no need to be in game chat. Previously this was the only way you could talk to your team. This is something that slowly sapped the fun out of the game. Why you ask?
Well for one, less and less people were searching on their own, making more games Stacked vs Stacked which just isn’t fun or Stacked vs Non stacked = walkover. So there was really no incentive to play on your own, more and more people stacked teams and it wasn’t like in GoW1 where you could man handle a relatively decent team if you were a lot better, you simply couldn’t. We had the introduction of few gameplay mechanics to thank for that, but I’ll talk about that further down.
So not only wasn’t it near impossible to win by searching alone, being in party chat was effectively cheating. People still disagree with me, but I stand by my point. So whereas before in a 1v4 or something you may have a chance to kill them one by one, removing communication to each other as they die as they were in game chat and you may be able to sneak up, grab a boom, a sniper or something and try to clutch it. Now you had no chance because communication was always on and they could help each other. Well couldn’t they have done that in party chat in GoW1? I hear you ask. …
Well yes they could, but it wouldn’t have got them very far because in GoW1 your camera was locked to their screen, meaning you could only see what they could see, not very helpful and even if someone was alive and you spotted them by looking at another players screen then no doubt if he was in game chat instead of private chat he would have heard the guy call him out anyway. There was no point.
However in GoW2 you had a ghost camera meaning you can see anywhere, so say it got down to 4v1 the guy that was dead would go “let me just find him” “oh yeh he is trying to grab boomshot” and they would go and kill him, clutch denied, fun over. That really sucked the fun out of the game.
Not to mention that this not only negatively fun factor and excitement because clutches rarely happened but the lone searchers wouldn’t be having fun because no one was in game chat to talk to or call out to, so that sucked and playing and losing game after game knowing you were the better player but lost because they were a all calling out and team shotting you wasn’t fun. The game didn’t even try to match up single parties with single parties; it just put you in any old game.
So with ranked becoming less fun what other mode was there, that’s right, at least we had player matches where I might find people that don’t abuse the lancers or 3 shot boom shots that was for some reason randomly buffed. Oh wait, that’s right, player matches were gone. Did I also forget to mention that ranked was first to 5? And you couldn’t pick bleedout or anything, meaning execution was pointless because you were downed for so long that they just ran over and killed you before you could get up and even if they couldn’t get to you they could shoot you in the head and kill you form distance? It just wasn’t execution at all. Also Execution and warzone were put together, meaning you may want to play Execution on River, but what you actually got was warzone on ruins. They didn’t even grasp the concept that warzone players are completely different to execution. So you would end up 5 Warzone players’ vs. 4 execution players and a random. So they won the vote every damn time, you couldn’t play the game mode you wanted. Yes after several, several months this got fixed, but who cares? The community had all left and search times were getting ridiculous. Plus I couldn’t choose to play with the US on a laggy host just for fun at night when most of my EU friends were offline, I had to sit and wait for the party system to find me a random match.
No more choices, no more playing what you enjoy, no more community, no more like minded people, nothing. Just grinding out ranked vs stacked teams, the game died pretty damn fast because the community wasn’t able to keep things fresh with self-moderated lobbies, we had nothing. I mean for god sake, there wasn’t even a tie map option and still isn’t to this day, meaning you get 10 people not liking any map choice available so they try to even up the scores, but with no one in game chat, it goes wrong and 10 people are playing on a map they hate. What good is that?
However there were good things such as the maps, there really were some brilliant ones they really felt like a Gears map, some may have been spoiled by the weapon swaps on there were, but we could have just played them on player matches, changed the swaps and that would have been fine, but we couldn’t. That’s sucked so much. Will no ability to meet players in game, no way to talk to each the other team when dead because apparently there was too much shit talking. Don’t take stuff away from us, add stuff. Lots of people used that dead zone as a way to party up, talk and joke and if someone was shit talking and you couldn’t handle it. Then damn, just mute them. They took away every bit of fun we had.
AND I HAVEN’T EVEN DISCUSSED THE GAMEPLAY CHANGES.
Personally I am saving the gameplay issues till last, why?
Well honestly for all bitching at gameplay over the 4 games I honestly gameplay is a small factor in the success and decline of the game. Sure gameplay obviously helps and I will get onto that, but if the modes, maps, even mechanics and matchmaking in some games are flawed right from the get go, then nobody is going to stick and learn the game when running around playing on shitty maps, with shitty party systems. I haven’t even got to the bit where I talk about that dreaded word.
“Title Update” and my lord, were there a lot of updates along the way.
But wait! Player matches did come back in GoW2, except this time they were called “Social Matches”
So here is their description.
“Epic Games has added, among other things, a new way to jump into online games. Social Matches (also called player matches) allow you to join and quit at any time without a penalty, although quitting early will rob you of any experience you've earned in that game. Social Matches also allow your party to join a match in progress or to make a match if one isn't available. In this mode, matches will continue to the next map without having to once again go through the matchmaking process. Teams will be rebalanced after each game, though parties won't be split up in this process. It's a nice batch of changes for people who are looking for a more casual playing experience.”
Except the weren’t public, aka, it was a server that you randomly go put into and you had no idea what map you were on, no idea of ping, set bleed out and first time, exactly the same as ranked was. They didn’t even give it a quicker bleed out to make it more fast paced and fun.
So the mode “Social” mode is EXACTLY the same as rank, except it cycles after the end of the game, meaning you have no search time, you earn just as much XP as ranked and if you rage quit or don’t like the map, you won’t lose XP. This is an OK mode, but the fact remains that people only played it because it was extremely good for XP as 90% of lobbies had bots in. Why bots gave XP I have no idea but again, I will explain how I would fix the matchmaking further down. So this was effectively ranked with map cycles, good. But you never had full teams, bad and no customisation, bad.
In short all this achieved in doing was splitting the community even more.
As of that moment you had these playlists.
Ranked, Execution, Warzone, Guardian etc etc
then you had DLC playlists.
Oh god could I rant about forcing customers to buy DLC just to participate in matchmaking is a terrible scummy thing to do, but you should know that. Obviously there idea was, those who have the DLC will play in the DLC list and those that don’t, wont.
However it went like this. I have the DLC on day 1, time to play DLC, great, played a load of games then as the weeks went on, less and less people started playing because the wanted to play with friends, or play regular etc. Surely their idea was friends play the DLC, tell their friends to buy it so they can play together and then everyone ends up with the DLC. Remember with GoW1 being player hosted, DLC didn’t matter as you could find maps that you owned. However being a playlist it screwed things up. Big time.
Those that never bought the DLC, played regular and those that did buy the DLC ended up in regular as there were no people in DLC playlists for the above mentioned reasons. So how do you play DLC???
Social matches, you have got to be kidding me. Now people that wanted to play DLC were in social, not having fun vs bots, so then the people that used to be in regular all moved to Social. The player base was even smaller for ranked. So what it felt like was this.
Ranked, no map choices etc, took ages to search, stacked teams, bad maps, no people, punished for quitting.
DLC, no map choices , took ages to search, no people, punished for quitting.
Social – The same as above no customisation etc except this you had laggy bot lobbies and some of your friends couldn’t play but you had no search times. Not fun.
So even though there was a decent pool of people playing they were so spread out across different modes that people didn’t even have fun in anymore due to all the reasons explained like stacked teams, ghost camera, lagging, bad maps etc. The game felt deader than it was and it wasn’t fun.
Ultimately this mixed with broken gameplay again something I will talk about soon.
Gears of War 3 / Judgment
So I will fast forward to the matchmaking of these two games. So will Gears of War system being VASTLY superior in almost every single way and GoW2 flopping harder than a flop in a flopping contest. What did these two games give its fan base that was getting smaller and smaller and more and more frustrated?
Again I haven’t talked about Submission or Guardian because the new game modes were the last of our worries and they worked well for the most part, guardian was a very much loved game mode.
So by now the sections are getting shorter and shorter because for one I believe by now your attention spam will have no doubt gone completely and two it reflects the feeling of the community.
By now you should have a great idea what worked and want didn’t and again this isn’t even including balance yet. However yet again Epic let us down with the next two instalments.
So why was it so bad? It wasn’t absolutely awful, again It had its good parts like all gears games and that theme will no doubt forever continue. The amount of times I have heard “If they just fix these few things and then tweak that, it would be perfect” However it never ever happens and if they do fix one thing, they create another problem.
So what was GoW3’s problem?
Quite frankly the BETA, yes BETA, was the best GoW Game I have ever played, minus a few things.
We finally got a BETA, after the disappointment of GoW2 they clearly wanted to make up for it. They did. The game had dedicated servers; there was no lag and no host, Brilliant.
However once again there were FAR too many playlists, that and if you didn’t own their paid DLC, you could not play on servers, so new players played laggy matches with no people because most people owned the DLC, so basically new players didn’t get servers, great job there guys.
They even but certain gamemodes on the DLC playlists meaning you couldn’t play modes that were brought back because you needed the DLC, so the population died as there was never any new people trying out these game modes because you needed the DLC.
GoW3 did do a few good things though, they had a system where they could do on the fly updates to weapon balance so you didn’t need to wait months for a patch. That was cool, but why didn’t they run with it? They could have had ranked with separate weapon balance and encouraged people to play it, there was just no customisation. Again I could rant about destroying the player base within 2 months forcing DLC, still having host migration when we are on servers, bots in ranked matches going 0-20 and losing games and displaying playlist numbers meaning the one with the most players will only get bigger and the others die off even faster. BUT I won’t.
The 4 beta maps were sick, really well balanced minus trenches which they fixed but it was pretty damn good. There was zero shotgun sponging and the snipe registered. However they messed it up yet again. They introduced two new weapons and not just two new weapons, two new starting weapons. Meaning that even if they were broken or stupid you couldn’t stop people from picking them up, because they spawned with it.
Without mentioning balance, GoW2 was clearly slower with slower movement, easier to rifle, even some guns had Aim down sights and there was stopping power to slow you down, meaning pushes didn’t happen due to the stacked teams all abusing it.
So GoW3 not only continued this trend, keeping stopping power, but added two guns that DIRECTLY counter the two most fun parts of the game. The sawed of shotgun was a double barrel shotgun that had a larger range then the Gnasher and had a enormous spread and GIB power, meaning it never sponged, ever. Meaning you could sprint in, shoot from afar even miss them by a good two foot and get the kill. That isn’t even an exaggeration, that’s the sad part, oh and if you weren’t in range of the gib, it would down you. What a joke, the most frustrating part is it took all the skill out of the shotgun battles. A quote that will always stick in my mind is by a friend of mine that we helped learn GoW1.
“Every day I used to play GoW1 with you, you and your mates used to destroy me every single time but then after months and months I learned the movement, the strafe, the timings and I could get the odd kill on you and even kill tonnes of people online, now in GoW3 you get this kid that just runs up, misses and gets the kill and even if by some miracle he missed he would just run away, reload and try again, I feel like I have wasted an entire year learning how to play”
That is depressing as hell. That’s only for a guy that played one Year, Imagine the annoyance and frustration for the so called veterans. I am all for allowing a new player to get kills, it what makes it fun. I spoke to Lee Perry the GoW1 developer and I remember him saying and I paraphrase.
“It’s like a fighting game, If you were a good player and your bad brother played you, you would say win 50 games and he would win two, its important that he can get those two wins as it encourages the player, for example may button mash and pull of a lucky combo and kill you but overall you would win.”
I understand that and that is why I never get to mad at a new player killing me, as long as it’s a one off sort of thing or I still win overall. However that’s the person getting lucky with a skilled combo, GoW3 was very different. Not only did the sawed require no skill, you didn’t even need to aim it. That mixed with the fact everyone can use it meant that you would again get stacked teams using it or very good players abusing it. I have said this time and time again, I don’t care about you giving a new player a strong gun to get the sensation of winning but it has to be only for the new players. Meaning I still have no idea why It wasn’t level locked. Say after level 20 you couldn’t use it or even after you have got 100 kills with it then it gets locked. I mean they had the stats and means to do that, they just didn’t and that is why a lot more people left because the only fun thing was shotgun battles and they had been ruined.
So a lot later down the road, the sawed off got patched and it was a little better, but still a joke weapon that wasn’t fun or skilled at all. However lets ignore this fact for now because even if that gun wasn’t in the game we had the new gun to deal with.
The retro lancer
The reason I am talking about these two guns and touching on balance before the playlist issues is because, playlist issues only really become a massive issue when the game is dying off and the player base is shrinking and these two guns did just that.
This was a gun that yes was fixed in beta to have more recoil but was still broken as shit frankly. I had 50k views on my nerf to Retro. So you can tell it was an issue. What this did was again, kill shotgun battles, the immense amount of stopping power it had and the sheer DPS was stupid. 4 bullets and you were downed. Plus this was an automatic gun, meaning you could miss a few bullets, adjust you aim all while still forcing him away or hitting him. Basically what happened was this, you would push with a shotgun, and yours would sponge 50% of the time, whereas the sawed off wouldn’t. So sure the sawed off burnt 50% of his ammo to kill you, who cares, your dead and he will pick up ammo. Limiting the ammo isn’t a good idea of balance, yes that is a low blow at judgment which will move onto.
Anyway the point is even if you outplay and kill the sawed off player, this guy would just stand still and retro you down every time, it was a wall of stopping power and an instant down. Not fun to use or play against. Many people again left the franchise for good as shotgun battles were gone and it was all about team rifle use. I personally enjoyed the lancer fights for a while and then it got real boring as you simply couldn’t push. The game got really stale, there was no pushing, it wasn’t fast, the game had no people, it died and it was stale, and a stale game is never fun.
Gears Of War Judgment
GoW3 still had all the playlist issues, still had grenade tagging to walls that everyone hated, more annoying weapons and more broken glitches like the sniper aiming at the wall etc. It did have far less updates and the game was far more stable than GoW2’s 7 Title updates and broken shotgun that went from shooting the floor for 3 months, to not working at all, to quite literally shooting across the length of fuel depot forcing people to camp right hand or doing the lefty flip, which for what it’s worth, I think is a terrible addition to the game, it came into GoW2 and has been here ever since. Being able to negate right hand advantage is stupid, the skill was in managing to keep right hand.
You can see how the sections are getting shorter, GoW2 had no customisation and was broken, GoW3 was good, no lag but the weapons and no customisations ruined it.
Now I will say this being their new flagship mode it really was pretty good, this pits to teams of 5 locust and 5 cog vs each other and they aim to destroy objectives unlocking more of the map. I think this is one of the best modes to ever be brought into GoW however it suffers from the playlist issues. Without going into too much detail about how classes work there is a fair amount of tactics that go into it, I have a few videos. I also like the pacing of it and it's often very close. The fact it features locust obviously pleases the fans. It really is quite good to pass the time, you can play it for a few hours, then play standard multiplayer and it breaks it up nicely. I had a really nice experience where everyone was in game chat wishing each other luck and talking about GoW. Thats the first time thats happened, maybe all the guys that liked to chat and be in game chat decided to play a proper team game. I wish there was more talking and forced game chat, also quick matches ruin it. If I want to play overrun everyone should be searching with me. I dont want 3 people in quick and 7 in ranked meaning we will never find a match. I think for such a team game they should scrap quick and ranked and just have overrun with game-chat forced and 5v5 only. No bots. Then after the end, the teams can vote for a rematch,so it has the speed of quick but everyone is under one player base. I like this mode, it felt like GoW, it had that "gears" twist.
THE NITTY GRITTY / SOLVING IT.
There were some really scummy things done in GoW3 that led to the demise of this franchise.
Here is what I think they were apart from the above mentioned issues.
So with no real player matches in GoW2 and DLC splitting the community, how did GoW3 fair?
GoW3 changed social matches into quick matches and basically they were the exact same thing. No customisation, bot farming for XP, empty lobbies due to the party system aka, 2 people on a 4 people search, none of them fit so they go into a new lobby. With the old system, 3 of them would get in and a full game would happen, their friend would miss out, but so be it.
Here is how I see the best way to manage the quite ridiculous playlist. Right now will quick being faster in every way and still earning XP and no customisation means there is no point in ranked play.
So you either have one mode so everyone is together, or…..you have three modes. This is what I propose.
I feel it would be great if ranked only had certain maps / Cycles . More people would search if they knew they were getting a customised experience. Rather than ranked TDM on Escalation / Gondola for example. They would get the best maps for Execution and then if they searched ranked KOTH they would get the best maps for that mode, more map & mode specific so to speak. That or you can only play with set loud-outs eg Gnasher + Lancer or Markz + Lancer that you cannot change once selected this will mean you must get good at picking the right class.
Which reminds that GoWJ has now introduced Class system however they didn’t use create better picks or more strategy, they just removed having two primarys, and gave you a grenade to spawn with which means unlike previously where you would see “Ink has been picked up or Nade has been picked up” then you could site back, wait to evade it, you can’t now. Everyone has grenades that are thrown off hand so you can’t tell what grenade they have and how to react. I even tried learning like this, “Ok Baird has frags, sofia has inks etc” however you can change after every death so its impossible and adds random luck elements to the game, never fun.
Onto the main of it, in a perfect world I feel there should be no quick match or ranked. Even calling it quick, gives the notation of a faster better searching system then ranked. I believe they should do it like League Of Legends and GoW1 used to do it.
Introduce a Proper Bot Lobby
GoW is clearly trying to introduce new players to their franchise, and that’s fine, however gimping other modes and mechanics to do so is not. They need a proper learner’s tool. League of Legends has a system where you search either alone or with friends and you get matched against a full team of bots, on hardcore difficulty. The XP is a lot lower for those that are a higher rank then it is for those that are lower ranks. However once you are max rank, you earn almost nothing, so if you prestige or stay at 50 then only reason for you to be playing bots its if you just fancy chilling out on bots or if you want to play with a new friend and help him learn. This creates a good environment where the new players can bots and not worry about being crushed by real players. This is a great system for LoL and it should be copied.
So with the really new players now taken care of where do the casual / medium level fun try hards go, being that ranked isn’t their thing?
This is where you play 5v5 against human players, when someone leaves a bot replaces them.
XP is the same as it is in ranked except there isn’t a bonus for winning meaning lower xp overall and a map rotation occurs. Players are allowed to search in up to 5 man stacked teams. Stats such as K/D are kept track of in game, but not applied to the persons profile and aren’t publicly available. The game modes here are a rumble pit and rotate each time. This removes the need for 50 playlists and creates a fun mode of all gametypes.
This is where you play 5v5 against human players, when someone leaves however a bot does replaces them as bots with 99% of the time feed the other team lives and kills and it is usally impossible to win a match like that, however 4v5 with all humans, is possible. The removal of bots from ranked is key.
XP is the same as players would playing for ideally a skill rank (Halo now has one that quin left and went to work for 343) or leader boards. This is the only game mode that tracks stats and makes them public. Players are NOT, repeat not allowed to search in 5 man stacked teams. They are allowed to search in a maximum of 2 people. This reduces completely stacked teams and makes searching quicker as it can pair up teams. Weapon load outs are selected one by One and publicly shown to, so player one picks Gnasher, player one on the other team picks markza etc once both teams are locked they cannot be changed. Now they can’t all switch at the last second and If you see a team slowly massing sawed off etc you can counter pick them with your picks
Now the maps with be different, only the best maps are used for ranked and there is a ranked option available for each mode. Unlike normal where it is rumble pit. That why, if people play rumble but really fancy Domination or TDM, they have to go into ranked for it. Also custom settings for ranked such as bleed out etc would be nice.
That way normal match will naturally become the sort of player matches we crave and the lobbies it will naturally be of either teams or lone wolfs, but less try hard cross lancers even though they are stacked because there is nothing to play for stats wise and people will be having more fun. This is for the people that don’t care about stats.
So I say this will be naturally more fun and ranked is where people go for the win and bonus XP etc. Currently I feel there is no even differentiation between the two modes to merit the longer waiting times and much tougher matches. This change should have occurred.
You see having quick and ranked effectively doubles the playlist and halves the population. In the UK for example currently we have 500 people in TDM Quick and 20 in ranked. All of those people want to play TDM, but there isn’t a mode for them as they are split all over the place, my idea aims to solve that.
Currently the mentality of players of players and again this is based of my feedback. Quick matches are EXACTLY the same as ranked but there are less stacked teams, which people like. I feel the reason this happens is people see the word quick and ranked, they don't see them as different modes but different mindsets. I am in ranked, I need the best team and I must try hard. Quick match, ah well its only "quick" and they hit search alone.
If there is only one mode, or a more streamlined mode, then those single parties afraid of ranked won’t be, they will be searching alone, so will others, there will be thousands of more single party's and thus no stacked teams as the max you can play with is two.
So there we have three playlist instead of 20 and it’s much better. They could add one more. Party Mode in there for the new things they try but then again, that could be thrown into rumble pit and if it became really popular it could branch out, but you ideally want to keep all the players together.
Gears Judgment in fairness did try to do this, it only has 4 modes, however there are just as many playlists as before so its even worse, less modes but more playlists. One thing I hate is splitting player bases, you see GoW2/3 did this with their DLC and Judgment did not learn. In fact it messed up even more. Instead of making the free DLC mandatory and putting it in TDM, they made a DLC playlist, which makes no sense as the DLC is free and should just be in the rotation. Not only had this but they added VIP. Which means those that bought it, play in their own playlist earning bonus XP, I have actually had this spoil my fun as a non-VIP Owner. You see I wanted to play TDM and so did my friends, however they didn’t want to play on 1xp instead of 6xp as they have bought multiple xp boosts that stack. So they left me to play in their modes as they didn’t want to waste their day boost.
This again splits the player base even more. If you want to play TDM, you have these choices.
4 choices for one game mode. Crazy. What they should have done is had the double XP tie to that persons account not playlists, but then you wouldn’t have friends telling each other to buy VIP so they can play with each other. Imagine in League Of Legends if you bought a day IP boost and to play with your mates, they all had to buy one. Stupid, In League Of Legends your boost is tied to your account so everyone plays like normal. However Epics was clearly a force people away from each other until they all buy VIP. However history has shown us that never happens, all that happens is players leave your franchise.
So I think after listening to all these points and not even mentioning gameplay, people now understand how stupid they sound when they say “TITLE 6 IS COMING OUT AND ITS GOING TO FIX THE LANCERS!” It’s the matchmaking and entire design that is flawed, not the balance because believe it or not most people don’t care about balance and just want fun with their mates.
If you are interested in hearing about the utterly baffling Game mode and Gameplay balance decisions over the history of the franchise, listen / read below.
Let’s begin with game modes
I’ll make this a little shorter, but seeing as this is my last ever talk of GoW I wanted to be thorough so I never have to answer questions again. Remember that all these modes suffer from the plays list / bots issues.
Execution / Forums
Cliffy B said he loved this skilled counterstrike model of last man out and thus Exection was made. Needless to say copying a skilled franchise paid off big time. This mode was used in every tournament ever and played every day up until GoWJ removed it, then re added it due to popular demand.
But why would they even remove it? People love this mode, however numbers in fairness had dropped to zero for the past 6 months of GoW3, so maybe they believed people had gotten bored of the game type. However this wasn’t the case and asking anyone in the game why they don’t play, anyone with half a brain cell would be able to tell you why. That’s right epic, don’t listen to the Epic Game forums, they just bitch and cry and moan and have no idea about feedback and listening to them killed of your franchise. Your forums wasn’t full of the community, it was just the moaning bad players that wanted skins / new dlc and the rare good people on the forum got banned, blocked, threads deleted because we were offending your game. Well fuck you, people would put hours of work into some threads just for white knight forum kids to say “go play gow1” they pissed everyone off. Please ask the community that don’t visit the forum or those that got banned how they feel. The forum became a sort of propaganda place, anyone new would only see good things and not feedback. I mean for god sake, if you did listen to any feedback etc then you listened to the worng voices, why not just ask in your game calendar “should we remove locust and execution” please vote.
We didn’t get that though, we got banned for saying “remove XP from quick” and the only threads ever left up were “Trading green skin for red skin” “AM I BANNED” “AM I BANNED” “AM I BANNED” and “MY RANK REST PLEASE HELP” “RANK DELETED 400 HOURS LOST”
Anyone that’s that rant over with.
So Execution wasn’t been played nearly as much as GoW1/2 for a few reasons. It isn't at the top of the list, sounds silly but new players will see TDM and search and never feel the need to try a one life Game mode. TDM may as well be further down the list as players will recognise it anyway and may then try new modes. People respond better to familiar names, so renaming execution to “Last Man Standing” or putting it to the top would have helped.
Other MAJOR reasons why people don't play anymore is When the game launched for GoW3 it had MAN UP rule, this effectively killed everyone's desire to play. For those that don’t know it meant that if it was a 2v1 instead of it being a stalemate and the two players having to push and kill the last man to win what actually happened was the team with the most players left would win. This meant everyone camped and now it was the job of the 1 player to take out the two rather than the other way round, so he would get double teamed and it wasn’t fun. That mixed with all the party chat and ghost cam issues explained before made it unwinnable.
It took 5 months to remove and by this time many players simply left GoW3 forever or went to TDM where at least the MAN UP rule made sense as you don’t want a 30 minute round to be stalemated. It also was only first to 3. Half of my GoW1 was spent on 19 Rounds Raven down. Execution players like lots of rounds, making it only three meant many people left and even now with long waiting times first to 5 is very quick, increasing the rounds may make people play faster as they know that have many rounds to "play with". I feel there should have been first to 10 or allow players to host their own lobbies for personal taste. You see if the game is first to 19, that’s potential like 40 rounds. You really think people are going to camp it out when it is 4-3.
No, because everyone would pile in, so it would be fast paced for for 30 minutes then 10 minutes of slower rounds. However being first to 3 and then 5 meant people camped from the off and it really was not fun. That and cheap tactics like grenade tagging walls meant nobody enjoyed the camping and nobody played it. Grenade tags have now been removed in GoWJ but we had them for 3 years and it put even more people off the franchise. People liked the game mode, just not the new mechanics that had been applied so everyone left a big shame.
Remember they added Execution back In GoWJ however you only spawned with a lancer or shotgun ( will 8 bullets ) and being as the they added the ability to jump off ledges and the maps were designed for TDM it meant adding execution that wasn’t planned meant was a lot of running and not much action, no grenade tags is certainly nice, but we had that in GoW1, this game mode has slowly gotten worse not improved. It feels slow and stale, not a GoW Game.
This game mode in GoW3 was actually fine, often campy due to the easy to spawn trap maps/ height advantage but the actual mode was fine at LAUNCH, hence why it never died. TDM maps are new to GoW so I expected issues, thats no worries. Maybe les corridors, but we are happy with TDM. In GoWJ they added the ability to jump off ledges and the maps were designed for TDM, which means now there is less spawn trapping but like in all modes now, there is a lot of corner camping and running just to find people, it doesn’t feel strategic at all because the maps are basically cod maps, lots of corners, things to jump off, it doesn’t feel like a GoW Game to me. Sure there is no trapping and the maps are bigger but you just don’t see enough people and when they do they either grenade you, stim you, or two piece. Yes the two piece is back in full force, why oh why oh why.
A great mode for GoW3 hindered by one thing, it isn’t KOTH, it’s an annex hybrid. Epic I believe wanted to lose the ANNEX name so new players would understand it, that’s perfectly fine, but now everyone knows what it is surely could it be made so you have to stand in the circle to earn the hill points, faster points, less set ups, easier to break. Again it fell into the trap that you could capture the hill then set up around it so they can’t push into the hill at all lancers thanks to retro and lancer stopping power. Creating it so you don’t have to be in the hill meant it went from one fast paced pile in and shotgun to, capture and lancer, this was meant to be the true fast paced mode that GoW needed. It failed and although well-loved in the community the issues with bots filling lobbies, camping etc meant it was removed for GoWJ, again, not the game modes fault or the players, just the way the game was designed, you can’t blame players for setting up and lancering as the game mode encourages that.
I like the fact this replaces KOTH, as it has more hills set-ups are very hard to harder. The maps however are so large it ends up being a close game not because of the players but the maps. By the time you have captured A, either C or B has been taken, so then you run to C and A has been take, this game mode is a lot of running and I haven’t heard to many positive things about this mode.
Making a game is hard because if you have good maps but the game is flawed nobody will like it, look at GoW2, awesome maps but other things ruined it and GoWJ, some good ideas for modes, but some of the worst GoW Maps I have ever , ever played on.
Capture the Flag / Bomb Diffuse
You’re probably thinking what! Well I have a few sources that tell me there is going to be to be a bomb diffuse mode in GoWJ. This may work nicely as it creates a proper objective, not some pointless rings. I originally wanted a capture the flag mode as it would be really fast paced and fun, something the game needs, maybe the bomb mode can do just that but I just fear that things like this needed to be added at launch and not DLC. No doubt it will make another 4 playlists and some people won’t buy it. Personally I won’t be buying it as I am done with their attempts of making me feel like big things are on the horizon when they really aren’t. If this was at laugh we all may be loving it but your hardly going to tell your friend to Buy GoWJ because this DLC may be good. It just doesn’t work that way. They have lost the trust of their fans and things like this needed to be here at launch.
Special Event playlist
This is something I said in my last article, in GoW3 they named the playlist something random and nobody ever knew what it was. I said simply call it the special event playlist so people understand what it is and have the description tell the user what it currently is. One Shot One kill for example doesn't tell a new user that it is only oneshots. Let them know It is a onetime special thing and they should play it!
They have now done this and it works a lot better. There is also no ranked, so they player base is always together which is nice.
For the multiplayer they should use my idea or something else that tidies the playlists and has proper thought behind it, like the duo queue system and only bot lobbies. They need something that makes less modes, more people in the same searching pot, looks cleaner and thus has quicker search times.
Also note that 4 months into GoW3 I made an article where I had lots of feedback on making the menu / in-game lobby look better. That never happened and we have the same ribbons, menus, stats etc. It looks tired rushed and bland.
This was a very good idea, loved it at the start! Patch news, messages, updates, savings and DLC news. However that's all it became for 9 months straight, just advertising DLC. I would love to see this return but be improved or more frequently updated. Polls on the calander so players can vote for events / patch ideas. Tell us up and coming playlists or discuss for example, what maps do you want to be in ranked this week. In the end it felt more like an advertising board than an event calendar. It was still telling me to buy the DLC when I owned it all!
This is what I mean by “Why didn’t they run with it” the event calendar was a great way to tell people what’s happening, they could have got ideas for what maps are wanted in ranked, do you want first to 5 or 10 this week etc. Instead they just scrapped it. What a shame.
Lots of people wanted me to write about this. Now I'm not sure if you have every played StarCraft, well it’s an RTS and amazingly balanced, in Brood-war (SC1) the game would never be balanced weapon wise until they were sure it wasn't the maps causing the issues. I would love if GoW had this approach. A great example is maybe instead of buffing incendiary so they are an instant kill maybe make smaller maps, so they can be used to form choke points and effect the map rather than being tossed into a wide open map and ignored by players and thus giving them the idea that they "suck" when in fact it’s the map, more than often it’s the maps that make a game amazing.
E.G We all like to lancer, we used in GoW1 scrims etc but GoW3 maps made it too easy, we all feel as a community that the best maps that have been produced in GoW were by FAR in Gears Of War 2 and Gears Of War 1.
The GoW3 didn’t seem to work but that’s not to say all the maps were bad. We like a handful of them. Just too many corridors for lancers, too much height advantage and dead space ( no reason to go to that area ) which is fine if there is another main focus in the map but often the maps felt too big, too spread out and not, not the gears "in your grill" feeling.
In GoW Judgment they have gone to far with the jump of ledges idea, they are ledges that you can climb and drop for no reason other than to show you can do it, there is too much running and they even have brought back bloodrive, the most campy map in history, things like bring back escalation and Blood Drive to me show they have no idea what we like and that’s worrying. Even if they were to bring back old maps that we love, I don’t feel it would work given the new mechanics of the diggers, mantle kick, nades, and jump all designed to get you off cover.
Sure we would love some of our old maps back if they worked but really we want new maps. New good maps that we can all marvel over. We don’t want flashback maps that we have to pay for, we like them in GoW2 because they game free with your copy of the game.
I'm not going to pretend I understand map design but as a player of 7 years then I will post some of our favourite maps and maybe someone can figure out why we all like them so much.
Canals (No Boomshot) – However being able to jump of the bridges would be stupid and only having a shotgun and no lancer would also mean you couldn’t cover Tbow and then shotgun, the new mechanics just flaw old maps and that’s why I hate the new style, because to get the new style to work, you have to remove elements that mad Gears, gears. Anyway,
Clocktower ( GoW1 more cover )
In comparison here are some of our hated maps.
I know thousands of people would bite your hand off to play these maps in judgement with the old mechanics, but with the new mechanics, I fear the worst, plus we would have to pay for them.
Please not they have changed the way weapons respawn back to GoW1, meaning you can’t hold 1 ammo and camp with it, another one will spawn, this is a great addition. Also not having to pick up ammo of the floor is a big help and stops that annoying situation where you wanted ammo but picked up a lancer.
Bearing in mind I can’t comment to much as I explained before a lot of the issues were based on the maps but even when playing on fantastic maps like checkout there were some glaring issues for me and my subscribers / viewers.
Let me get it clear. We like rifles, I don't want all GoW1 gameplay, it got repetitive at times and wasn't very diverse in normal because the players were bad and you could just shotgun everyone, however in scrims, the weapons really shone. I like the tactical map control, lancers etc but there must be a balance. I'm going to briefly summarise a few of the weapons and only its issues, there are plenty of good things about GoW3/J but I am only here today to discuss its small flaws in order to make the game even better.
- I’ll start with this gun so my intentions are clear that I am not an 'idiot gnasher fan boy'
Currently in GoW3 it was too strong. The range of the was getting close to the TU6 Gnasher of Gow2. It was basically who hits the first shot wins as you only need to hit two to down then and when you land your first shot the player is so red that you simply back off and down him. It’s not for the gansher fans and the gnasher haters.
Sponging is also ridiculous at times, I understand this isn't PC and prefect hit box registry and movement is near impossible but when using my xboxes on LAN and both being host we have still taken 4 shots at point, the shotgun seems way better from distance then close.
In GoWJ actives being removed has helped tremendously and the range has been reduced, its probably the best shotgun we have had. The only slight niggle is that the spread is wider than the reticule meaning that you can have the aimer on the player and yet pellets will miss causing players to not die. However fair play to epic, the shotgun is really good now. However you only start with 8 bullets, that is far too little.
Add a realistic fire rate cap and the gun will be balanced. We all hate being killed by an auto no recoil rifle, not to mention people that spray it point blank with their mod. It’s purely a fire rate cap issue, nothing more now that you can’t aim down sites. The recoil has been increased and it isn’t nearly as bad as it was in GoW3, again, this gun has improved.
This gun gets me and others angry, I'm sorry it does. I know Epic you have said tap firing requires learning but it really doesn't The gun is SO Dominant at close to mid-range in such a way that a Gnasher really cannot kill it, you can full auto anyone down within half the map.
Which I also find absurd because the Gnasher was the only QCB gun that allowed you to beat your opponent with the years of movement and skill you have learnt. That's now gone. This gun should have been left out of GoWJ.
Good things are the tap firing issue is better, not too strong and the failed retro charge doesn’t do any damage which is brilliant, again better than GoW3 by far. You get the idea, all the guns are better than GoWJ for the most part its other things that are letting the game down now.
Amazingly I don't mind this gun, many others hate it but I think it’s as balanced as a gun that is designed to blow someone up can be. There is no massive reticule now, the gun doesn’t down you and sure it removes shotgun battles and I hate that fact but the gun itself I have to say is ok.
The all-around rifle, ok close range, solid medium, good for long range pressure. I feel that got lost somewhat in GOW3. It is flat out the best gun in Gears Of War 3. I could play every game with a lancer, hip firing down shotgun users, rifle from afar and win. Trust me, I have. There is no reason to use a shotgun with this gun. In GoWJ it is a little better but it is designed to be able to be picked as a solo gun, so it must still be viable, I have still played many a game where you lancers everyone and you can still hip fire even though the buffed the recoil. This is no longer a support weapon that is used in scrims, it is a primary gun and it’s still strong. I wouldn’t say overpowered, but its close to being overpowered based on the fact it has no real competitor.
The clip although it has the same amount of bullets as GoW1 seems to last forever, maybe the ammo count is too high as people can stay camped forever or maybe the clip is to large in judgement that certainly hasn't changed.
I think the issue is something like this for many players that play GoW to have an intense close shotgun experience, something unique that no game offers.
The Lancer downs in 1 second, the Gnasher kills you in that time also. Except it doesnt matter if you miss a few bullets as it's automatic. So unless you gib them or are in very, very close range you will most likely lose to a lancer as he doesn’t need to be that accurate. This just ruins the game for a lot, a lot of players.
This gun began its GoW2 lifespan with 3 shells of ammo, we then realised it was too much and it was patched back to two. This needs to happen again. Or have a longer reload time, like the boomers in beast mode, so you can push in between shots. Being that there can now be multiple boomshots out at once, this surely must change.
There used to be an annoying glitch where if you aim near a wall then you aim at the floor, this makes the gun near useless at times. It didn’t feel like a power weapon, but Finally "pop shotting" returned and no scopes work and it’s a lot better, really good fun now to use. However this is the first time the sniper has been good since GoW2 so again, you can tell why people lost their patience.
I'm not going to talk about other weapons as they are for the most part fine and I hate talking about balance as by now hopefully I have shown you the main flaws.
This is the only section where my viewers and subscribers were a little mad at a few of the decisions and the knock on effect it had on us as players.
We understand EPIC are a business and must create DLC and revenue, be it through skins, which I may add are awesome to some people and maps etc but the issue was how it basically destroyed the player base. The player’s bases were fairly small, some people in ranked, some in quick match, some in horde, some in execution, others in TDM.
But then the DLC Came and all of a sudden all of my casual friends, those that played on odd days suddenly couldn't play on servers, they hated the lag and after not really giving GoW a really try, they went back to their games. Then those that stuck with the lag couldn't play with me, as I, like others refused to play off servers. So they also left. I just don't like DLC that cuts the community.
As a test in GoW3 I deleted the DLC as a test to see how many are playing, there were hundreds!They were all playing with their friends that had re-upped, meaning DLC players we replaying with no dlc players off servers, OUT OF CHOICE, so clearly people prefer a social experience over DLC.
Game Modes like guardian that require the DLC are stupid. New players that don’t play GoW aren't ever going to play it or buy DLC in the hope that its good. I also again hate no player open lobbies. I am all for DLC, I bought it all. People just didn't like being cut from the community so quickly though.
I have no doubt missed more things out as then I would have liked but there you have it, all my thoughts on GoW. I haven’t even touched up things like, the game becomes solved as we all so good at it that it becomes hard to innovate with no new features and it becomes tired feeling. I have many a podcast and talking video on that anyway.
A final point is Epic always try something new, aka, class system and then bring back the old system later on as if to appease the fans, but all that happens is they either muck it up, like todays announcement of classic GoWJ Playlist with lancer gnasher starts, but you still spawn with grenades, it makes no sense. They seem to portray that they are fearless and break boundries when with the slightest outcry the change everything back to the way it was. They try something new, it fails, bring back old maps and modes that still have the same flaws and then suddenly we are expected to feel happy! Its so frustrating here people say “But there is a classic mode available now, goes and play it!” They sort of piss you off and then try to treat you nicely.
Did I even mention how the game lost its entire dark feeling, every map has been bright and lovely and its lost its fans that loved the gore. I remember Cliffy B said "Players don't like spend long times on dark maps such as mansion" I disagree.
So I thank you everyone for creating, playing and being a part of gears of war. Long may it continue? I am just trying to help, this is probably the most indepth thing I have written so far on Gears of War.
So I honestly, truly hope things have been read and heard and even taken on bored. Man If I could sit and help balances the game all day I would. I really want to help and I hope it didn’t come across, rude, bitchy or clueless. I don’t know about the processes of developing and making games but based off my minimal knowledge I tried to create a list of things that I feel can be changed even this far into the cycle. I hope GoWJ gets many more months of support than Gears Of War 3 did as after 6 months the game became very stale and we felt we weren’t being heard. Thanks for your time!
Thanks for reading, thanks for watching and support and also a huge thanks if you stuck right to the end. If you did stay right to the end then please drop a comment on my YouTube channel and start the comment with ZII – and then whatever you want to say, then I know who the awesome people are.
MY CHANNEL - http://www.youtube.com/VideoFletcher
MY TWITTER - https://twitter.com/VideoFletcher
Here are a few quotes from videos I have made to end the video on.
"The skill is gone. I don't understand why games these days try to become more like Call of Duty. Another example of game gone down this root is Halo. Halo series up until Halo ODST and Reach were amazing. Epic have turned their game into a game that has the main goal of making as much money as possible, getting as many people to play it as possible and forgetting about the gameplay that made Gears of War what it is."
“Please note, we want GORE. GOW2 BLOOD AND GORE! Currently the game lacks gore and locust.”
“The gnasher is not OP, it is just what makes gears, Gears. No one plays GoW to camp and lancer, they want that in your face, shotty v. shotty action. The only people who say the gnasher is OP are the people that don't play gears for what it is and are trying to get epic to change it into some type of generic, washed-up TPS””
“No DBNO, no meatshield, no executions, no picking up player to get smoke & pistol ammo, no second primary weapon, too many power weapons, too quick to pick up power weapons, no active reload, no locust v COG (confusing!), no nade-tagging, inconsistent/weak shotty for good example - he should have been bodied), giltchy/buggy wall-bouncing, noob melee-shotty combo, super-sponging, rubbish asymmetrical maps - it's Gears in name only to me. I have gone back to MP on Gears 3.”
“Yeah right stopping power was in Gears of War 2 , It pissed me off when they fuck with the gnasher , using assault rifles is no fucking fun , this is not call of duty , Gnashers & wall bouncing give gears of war its unique gameplay .. Fuck off to all you bitches using Lancers.”
Just a regular 23 year old man. Struggling to know what paths to choose but just doing what makes him happy at time. I hate the generic modern culture of drinking and that everyone tries to grow up to quick.