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Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:05

Meet Team Fortress 2

Opening the Valve on a legitimate free-to-play game

To my left and right, I see hats. Hats everywhere. The gentlemen standing by my side are supposedly ready to make war, but it's terribly hard to tell that from the various shades of bags, alien monsters, goggles and baseball caps adoring their noggins. In all honesty, this is what draws me to 'Team Fortress 2.' This lighter take on warfare, set sometime in the 50s, is still boasting a huge following despite releasing as a part of the Orange Box almost five years ago. Why's that, you ask? Last June, Valve released it to the public as a free-to-play game.

For the vast majority of hardcore gamers, free-to-play is seen as an incredibly dirty term. Any game that either adopts the model from the start or uses it later on in its lifespan is immediately considered a failure and is generally avoided like the plague. Most of this is based on the stigma that most free-to-play games generally have a pay-to-win philosophy: player doesn't do as well as other players, player buys an uber gun for a fair price, and said player ends up topping the scoreboards with the blood money-bought gun. Another issue that can crop up is charging an exorbitant amount for new content, constricting the non-paying players to a few basic maps or character classes. Either way, free-to-play has left a bad taste in the mouths of gamers that truly want to earn their success. To them, paying for better weapons is trading skill gained over the course of committing yourself to a game for money. You're purchasing hard-fought victories instead of dedicating the time and energy necessary to attain them normally.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:45

The Dark Door

A record of discovering Minecraft hell

Jan. 12, 2012: It's impressive, and that's about all we know at this point. About 10 feet tall, five feet wide, and completely immobile. It's like a brand-new Stonehenge, except in this desolate location, it doesn't seem like this was used as a worship location. Maybe a guru-esque retreat? Don't know at this point, but this is definitely going to be our home until we do figure it out.

Feb. 15, 2012: Ate our last steak today. Looks like apples are on the menu for the long-foreseeable future. I'd strangle an Enderman for a decent porkchop. Still no noticeable progress on the 'portal,' as we've taken to calling it. It's just a hollow doorway to nowhere. Part of me is wishing I was still punching trees at my dad's business back home, but no, sir, I had to be adventurous. Some adventure. I'll go down in history as the man that led an expedition to stare at a door.Feb. 18, 2012: Sometimes luck is a funny mistress. After all of my other expenses, I only had enough to hire a couple of second-rate assistants. First one I found was Cary, a bright young fella, but has tendency to run off on his own, claiming to have an incredible ideas to support his wanderlust. Just the other day, we had to save him after he wandered into a desert. Found him clutching a cactus like a baby, saying it was 'the beginning of a beautiful deathtrap.'And then there's Weeks.I found Weeks in the streets of Spawncity, holding a sign saying 'lost pie, will work for cake.' Being incredibly low on cash, I asked him how he felt about going on an adventure. He jumped up, threw his arms around me, and whispered very sweetly in my ear that I was his favorite 'broomhilda.' Strong as a bloody ox, though. I think it's the Creator's way of evening things out.

Published in Tekk
Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:08

Needs Food Badly

Classic dungeon-romping gets an overhaul

The light slowly seeped into my cell, my eyes adjusting to its intrusion upon my unconsciousness. With the light came the intricate details of my surroundings: stone walls, stone ceilings, torch, barred door.

Well, fancy that. I was prison. In prison, with no knowledge of my previous crimes, and with a minotaur, an insectoid, and a lizardman, no less. After making our introductions (minotaurs are surprisingly pleasant, contrary to popular belief), we set about inspecting our new home. We gave every side of the cell a long look, running our fingers over the cracks, hoping for a secret passageway or a draft. As the minutes turned to hours, we became more desperate, to the point of even throwing ourselves against weak-looking section of the walls. Poor Riff broke part of his exoskeleton against a such unyielding segment, certain that the mortar was weaker in that section. Just as we were beginning to lose hope, a glint of lettering caught my eye right next to the door. I squinted against the heat from the torch nearby to read the charcoal-written message.

'Choose your fate: perish in this cell or pick up the torch,' declared the scrawled lettering. I raised an eyebrow. We weren't given much of a choice, if you ask me. The others read the warning with keen interest. We glanced at each other, then to the torch.

Published in Tekk

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