Well, I’ve fallen off the wagon again. I’ve been posting sporadically on the Duels Blog but I’m not even keeping up with that particularly well. I’ve been pretty underwater working on Duels. I really need to post about my Mac/Windows experiences. I’ll try to get around to that soon. This really isn’t a particularly interesting post, but at least it confirms that I’m alive. 😉
Sigh. I wish stuff would just mostly work. Is that too much to ask?
So in an ironic twist, which I’ll devote a post to later, I’m trying to activate my WWAN card in my new Dell XPS M1330 on the AT&T network. The short version of the ironic twist is that Apple forced me onto the AT&T network – against my wishes. I had previously sworn off given these asshats another dime. But alas, the iphone forced me back. I rationalized it by saying I was paying Apple, not AT&T. And Apple did a reasonable job making AT&T not suck.
Dell, however, failed at making AT&T note suck. So after activating on Dell’s site – well at least I thought I did – my WWAN card didn’t work. So I ended up at some new activation screen. Which told me to enter exactly the same stuff as my other AT&T account…. after it refused to accept my AT&T login / password. Great. The whole point of getting AT&T was to not have yet another stupid account floating around. But no, they can’t even make it easy for an existing customer.
And they charged me a $40 activation fee. WHAT THE FUCK. They are supposed to be given me a fucking rebate for crying out load. But I’m to tired to argue. Maybe I’ll take it out of them in a screaming customer service call later, god knows they deserve it and it might make me feel good although it is unlikely to accomplish anything.
So now my stupid WWAN card is polling the network telling me 2 days until activation. What fucking planet do these guys live on? I have an activate (never late, never missed a payment) AT&T account. They know the IMEI and other crap for my card. Why the hell can’t an automated system just turn it on?
Well wow. I feel a little better venting on this. AT&T sucks and the second I can get the gadgets I want on any other network I’ll be gone. They’ve consistently delivered the most unbelievably stupid activations and a horrible consumer experience. It’s a good thing they are monopoly and can bribe Apple or I’d never use them. Ever. I kind of regret not setting up a seperate data plan with Verizon or ANYONE else. Woops. Don’t worry AT&T, it won’t happen again.
A company your size and scale has no excuse for craptacular service like this. It’s sad and disappointing. I’m so lucking forward to using your network in 1 day and 22 hours. Those are some fast computers you got there.
Finally, you can get your gmail with IMAP. This makes using gmail so much easier with an iphone. Well maybe not easier, but a lot better. Now if I could just get a 3G iphone this might be great.
So I haven’t played much Xbox 360 in a long time. As evidenced in my previous post, I wasn’t a huge fan of Halo 3. I decided to try Call of Duty 4 – which was a tough choice. I hated COD 3, but I liked COD 2.
Call of Duty 4 has amazing graphics and visuals. It’s probably the most photorealistic game I’ve ever played. It definitely makes impressive use of HD. I’ve actually had a lot of fun playing it – I think they fixed a lot of the COD3 issues, took some good concepts from the Battlefield series, and made a fun, visually compelling game.
If you like military games or FPSs, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s the only console game I’ve played for more than an hour or two in a long, long time.
I can’t write a review of Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 because I haven’t played it enough. They got my money so I contributed to the $300 million craziness. But I haven’t played for more than an hour.
The short answer might be that I’m getting too old for these types of games – which is depressing. So I’m going to explore a different path.
So backing up in history a little bit. Let me tell you about my Xbox 360 experiences:
- Call of Duty 2 – I loved this game. I played it a lot. It was fun. I played it with friends.
- Call of Duty 3 – I hated this game. It was hard to play (see more). It wasn’t particularly fun. It was hard to find games (maybe because it was new). Oh, but it was visually stunning.
- Gears of War – I have mixed feelings about this game. It was visually stunning. It was fun to look at while I played. The game control was a little weird. I played with friends a few times.
- Halo 3 – This game seemed like Halo 2 with better environmental graphics and effects. It also might possibly have an interesting story, although I didn’t get that far, and improved multi-player. I found it cumbersome to play.
So, Call of Duty 3, Gears of War, and Halo 3, were all beautiful games. They looked amazing. Wow! But I really didn’t like playing any of them. I’ll call it the 2×2 rule:
2×2 Rule: If an important action takes more than 2 joysticks and 2 buttons to accomplish, it’s probably too complicated.
Now, I’m sure the Fatal1ty and some of these other pro-gaming guys out there are spectacularly good at playing 2×2 games. In fact I’d wager that part of the reason they are pro gamers is that they can take 2×2 actions in a non-2×2 game.
I’m glad that there is now an evolutionary track that enables this kind of manual dexterity and near-super human hand-eye coordination. I have been playing games a long time, am pretty good at them, am generally pretty coordinated and dexterous, and I lack this skill set.
Making games more complex to play does not make them better. Frankly I think COD3 would have been a better game if it had just kept the game mechanics as COD2 and made newer, prettier environments. But then I guess that wouldn’t have made the cut.
I hope we don’t see all new games that require constant weapon switching, monkey jumping, and head pivoting, grenade aiming, super tosses, as part of the game. Because to me (and hey maybe I’m not the sweet spot of the market) that just isn’t that much fun.
So I guess my Xbox 360 will be collecting more dust because Halo 3 is not for me.
Back to Wacraft 3 and Duels.
Speaking of WoW (as in World of Warcraft), I’ve quit playing. I’m having more fun playing (and working on Duels) and I just haven’t had time for WoW. I was getting tired of it even before Duels fully consumed me.
Here are my issues:
- Takes too long to do anything. 2-6 hours to do any dungeon? And for anything good, it was closer to the high end.
- To get any good gear takes 10 people and that’s Karazhan. Got everything from there. Which leads to:
- Nothing to do. I’m in a top guild, but I’m a social member. So I don’t get to raid much. I don’t want to join another guild or raid every night, so there is pretty much nothing left to do. Except:
- PVP… I’m a hunter. No one likes hunters in Arena. It’s hard to find a good team as a hunter. And I’m sure not starting over.
Many of the reasons I started Duels are encapsulated in that list. I love Duels because:
- I can jump in and out.
- Play when I want across whatever time increment I want.
- I can keep it open in the background while I’m working (which in my case is on Duels, but still – there is a lot of work to do.)
Duels is still growing like crazy. In two weeks we’ve already crossed 13,000 registered users. Today we’re bringing up some new database hardware – should kill the last of our performance issues – and making some cool changes:
- New Set – Duels Core Set II. We’ve gone through 250,000 packs in the last two weeks so we’re putting the next set up today. We will also be introducing a new expansion set soon as well.
- New UI improvements:
- An inventory management page which will make it easier for you to buy/sell items and manage the items you have.
- A new challenge management page that should make it easier for you to keep track of manage your duels and skirmishes.
- A myriad of smaller tweaks.
This should be a nice step forward on serveral fronts.
I should probably be posting more. But I’ve been so busy posting on our message boards. So if you want to know more about what’s going on check that out.
In our first week we’re already over 8,500 registered users and we’re averaging over 2 duels a second. It’s crazy.
Oh and we are in the Wall Street Journal: A popular new site allows coffee-break dueling
– This resulted in a ton of traffic. It brought the servers to their knees.
Second, the article shows up on Digg: Duels.com – New Free Online WOW-like Game and Social Network Launches
– It became popular on Digg, eventually making the homepage. It currently has 500 diggs. This finished the servers off.
We doubled our server capacity.
– There was still tons of traffic coming in. We had to tune MySQL.
Meanwhile it also made the home page of del.icio.us (on the hotlist) and got picked up on a myriad of other blogs.
Next I’ll post some graphs.
You can read the article: Ready To Kill Some Time (And Some Enemies)? Try Duels.com
This has resulted in a huge influx of traffic that has caused some server hiccups for us. I think we’ve managed to tweak things enough that they running smoothly (although more slowly than we would like). I’m hopeful we can get some additional servers up today, but that is not entirely within our control.