Videos, Links and Flaming Unlocks

Based on a suggestion from Openedge, I got rid of Fraps last night and reinstalled Xfire, and began playing around with its video capture functionality, which not only doesn’t share the 30-second limitation of the free Fraps utility, it saves videos in a more compressed format as well. It seems to work pretty well on top on Vanguard – the framerate hit while it’s running is noticeable but I can play through it pretty easily. Bizarrely, I also tried recording a few sessions of Audiosurf and the degradation in the game’s performance is just gigantic – it’s totally unplayable with video capture on, even at stupidly minimal settings and screen resolution. Aside from that, I’d never really looked seriously at Xfire before but between the client and the web tools it’s actually extremely nifty. It’s got text and voice chat, can capture screenshots or videos, maintains a friends list and you can (I think) launch your games from it. I’d signed up when I bought Supreme Commander but I never used it and eventually uninstalled it. I’m glad I took another look.

Anyway, bottom line is, I’m looking to put together some kind of nifty video for Vanguard. I don’t have a real plan beyond that yet, but I’ll be writing about any progress I make. I have this vision of a Vanguard music video set to something by Blue Oyster Cult…

Voyages of Vanguard posted a blockbuster interview with developer Silius this week. I haven’t even finished listening to it yet – it’s over two hours long and contains loads of great information judging by the 30 or so minutes I’ve digested thus far. As always, VoV is a cornerstone of the Vanguard community, and anyone even vaguely interested in Vanguard should be listening to the show. I’ve also been listening to Massively Speaking, a new podcast from Massively hosted by world-renowned game journalist Michael Zenke, which digs into the top couple of MMO news stories each week and is also well worth listening to. For that matter, in the unlikely event that anyone reading here hasn’t already become a daily visitor to VirginWorlds, I highly recommend checking that site out – it’s loaded with MMO news and in the hub of MMO podcasting on the internet.

Last night was supposed to be a Vanguard night but since I spent much more time Tuesday night in Telon, I blew my game time on Team Fortress 2 instead. Heartless had a little bit of a rant earlier this week about the achievements and unlockable weapons in the game; apparently there are ‘achievement servers’ where people – sissies – go to farm achievements (cheat, basically, to get the unlocks.) I agree with his reasoning, but I’m not convinced it’s actually much of a problem in this case, since while there are certainly achievements that are very difficult to get, unlocking all the new stuff doesn’t require you to get absolutely every one, and lots of them are rather easy to get. I managed to get all three Pyro unlocks by playing for about seven hours after coming in very, very cold. And I’m not very good, so I imagine a skilled Pyro player could have gotten them all in considerably less time.

I think that people cheating the achievement system, while lame, isn’t really a game-breaker in this case simply because the TF2 unlocks are so easy to get even when not cheating. So I just don’t see that it’s a real issue.

UPDATE: Heartless himself has pointed out to me that the Medic unlocks, when originally released, were much harder to get, and that with the release of the Pyro pack the number of achievements needed for each unlock was lowered substantially. This makes his issue with this process much more legitimate. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s fixed, but it should at least be less of a problem moving forward. I do agree with him that a server rating system of some kind would be very valuable.

I should also note that I’m going to go for the Medic unlocks as well, so I may change my mind after I’ve seen how long that takes. Maybe I’m a better player on the Pyro than I think; I know I’m terrible at the Medic.

4 responses to “Videos, Links and Flaming Unlocks

  1. Awesome…and go ahead and add me to your Xfire list…

    We can always see what games we are playing.

    It can be an oddity, but I like a few items for XFire…like I plan to start using the “Screenshot” system, which instantly uploads the pics to your profile.
    Also, the system will track how much time you are playing your games.
    Good way to see if you are getting your moneys worth.

    As to my time in Vanguard, since I had the wonderful 4870, I wanted to try my old character and see if I could make some progress, but the game freaked out yesterday. I kept getting kicked off the server, the graphics got all flaky, then everything started disappearing. I will blame the 4870 but also the game. I can play quite a few other games with no issues and even better (I still find it hard to believe EQ2 actually runs better)
    Ah well. Maybe down the road ATI may get a fix out.

    Cheers to ya!

  2. Heh, Xfire is a notorious problem causer for a lot of games though. I just got sick of it crashing games and deleted it forever. FRAPS is awesome and money well spent, I’ve had an old version for the longest time and never have had an issue with it.

  3. @Heartless
    Yet, I have had zero issues with it…
    Maybe it is your PC?

    It just allows me to track time, get screens and video, and if I wish I can chat with several of my friends who are not playing the same game.

    Different experiences for different folks.

  4. I haven’t had any trouble except with Audiosurf, but I’ve only been using it for a day. It did fine with Vanguard, which is… ah, not exactly lightweight software. It does definitely seem a little more resource-hungry than Fraps. I’m curious to try it out with some other stuff, though, including TF2 and EQ2.