Site Update: Moved in, at long last!

November 27, 2008

No Japanese or Russians...

No Japanese or Russians...

Dear readers, friends, fellow Romans — you have my deep apologies for this week-long hiatus on Rifles Ready!, rest assured it isn’t permanent. As I’m sure many of you have noticed, official news on COH: Tales of Valor and official art have leaked out, chiefly through a solid preview at IGN. It’s chock full of accurate, independently verified and reliable details, so if you haven’t read it, I suggest you do so on the double, as they say in the Army. It would seem I vastly underestimated the amount of time and effort required when you move into your first house. Aside from having to pack, unpack, move heavy furniture, arrange stuff, I also had to get three renters signed up so I won’t have to face the mortgage payments alone. Then you have what I like to call the “random shit factor” — doors that won’t fit in doorframes and must be trimmed with the tools at hand, replacing sink aerators, lightbulbs and so forth.

Anyways, my crack team of fellow contributors were supposed to pick up the slack, but instead they slacked off, so we’ve left you all out in the cold. Sorry!

This weekend Rifles Ready! will return to form, with an all-new Battle Report on a ridiculous replay between Calneon and some top-ranked Panzer Elite player (with a wub factor in the triple digits!).

You can also expect me to resume editing and releasing Surprise‘s budding classic, Fear and Loathing and Kane’s Wrath in Los Angeles.

I’ll post some pix of the house when I get a chance. Stay tuned and to quote the Rev. Jesse Jackson: “Keep hope alive! And keep hope alive!


We are…or rather…I am…still alive

November 25, 2008
It's not all doom and gloom

It's not all doom and gloom

Hello furry friends from the far outposts of the world, it’s been a few long weeks. Just in case anyone is wondering what is up with the website (over a week and no new content *shock gasp horror*) I can vouch that everyone is busy with life in some ways or another.

Me? As regular readers would know I had experienced some overheating problems with my computer, resulting in a military units non grata kerfuffle that rendered my computer unusable. A quick trip to the PC service bloke revealed a mandatory hardware upgrade that was not only long overdue, but also a big slap to my wallet.

Almost a month later and weeks behind in blog posts schedule – Rifles Ready! amongst them – I return with a rather bleak view of the cost of hardware. Ok I kid, but still it hurts to fork out that much when the worldwide economy experiences a downward spiral, second only to the pittance of the miscreant that is the Australian dollar.

As a further insult, I struggled with the re-installation of COH and OF and her relevant patches (1.77GB patch anyone?). And when I finally got around to playing (some seven hours later) I looked like a kid with an ice cream cone in his hand, as I got beat down silly by a scout car spamming PE player.

Rustiness, anyone?


Relic: Patch process plagued by staff shakeups

November 16, 2008

Relic upgrades to honesty 2.0.

Relic upgrades to honesty 2.0.

Staff departures and personnel issues are responsible for COH’s lengthy beta patch process and the company’s overall lack of responsiveness for the last three months, according to a Relic official. In a remarkably honest, matter-of-fact audio interview with GR.org, “Thunder” — Relic’s community manager — reveals that the departure of key COH programmers slowed the patching process and admitted that his myriad responsibilities have limited Relic’s overall responsiveness to its fanbase. Thunder also revealed numerous tidbits about COH: Tales of Valor which I’ll sum up below.

GR.org shoutcasters Yoink and Bawx gingerly but persistently eased the explanations out of Thunder, who sounds like an honest, simple guy answering questions with a minimum of PR spin. Why has the beta taken so long? Well, key COH staffers left Relic while others were reassigned to other projects — specifically Dawn of War II and COH: ToV. When key staffers leave, their replacements need time to get backup to speed. “There was definitely some attrition on our end,” Thunder admits,.

What apparently doesn’t help is the massive workload Relic’s lone community manager must handle. By his own admission, Thunder is responsible for:

– Reviewing and responding to all drophacking allegations for COH
– Reading the forums at RelicNews, GR.org and PlanetCOH daily to answer questions and take notes on the state of the community
– Respond to general user feedback and emails
– Rinse and repeat for ALL OTHER RELIC GAMES

The last item probably is responsible for tripling the guy’s responsibilities. I still don’t think that fully justifies the lack of communication (just say you’re busy, that’s better than nothing), but Thunder deserves some slack for the fact that he’s relatively new.

Other intriguing facts about how Relic works and its future plans for COH:

– Thunder sits in the same room as the staffers responsible for balancing COH, and communicates usually by yelling in their general direction (i.e. not via emails)
– Thunder is a “middle man” who communicates player feedback to the programmers without injecting his own opinions
– Relic has no special plans to push for COH’s entre into professional gaming organizations like World Cyber Games (WCG)
– Relic is aware of the state of the community and is looking to start wrapping things up
– Beta patch 2.506 will be the final patch that will ship to retail

And now, the promised tidbits on COH: ToV:

Direct fire mode is a mode allowing you to manually control a vehicle, specifically when it fires, what it fires at and how it moves
– Direct fire mode will NOT EVER be useable against another player (i.e. solo only)
– Confirmed: the Tiger Ace Campaign is ToV-only material
– Confirmed: there will be new multiplayer modes (see previous coverage), though Thunder can’t explain exactly what they are


Basic Tip: Bombing Run splash radius

November 12, 2008

The accuracy of the American Bombing Run seems to vary widely, with some runs doing very little damage even though visually the explosions appear right on target. By the same token, some runs don’t their targets head-on at all, yet kill armored targets like Tigers via splash damage. What’s really annoying is that the splash radius is just about invisible, for all intents and purposes.

You’ll want to be aware of this when you’re aiming your runs. There will be an Advanced Tip down the road where I’ll diagram a few bombing run screenshots in an attempt to isolate the specific splash radius. But for now — a fun video for you to watch.

In this extended video, you will see TWO separate bombing runs. The first occurs immediately, with one explosion striking a Tiger I dead-on but inflicting maybe 10% damage. The second bombing run occurs near the end of this clip (I dropped the second run) and is FAR more effective, though you wouldn’t think so based on where the explosions land.

The second run destroys the Tiger (it had about 20% health remaining) AND a full-health Stuka halftrack. The explosions don’t appear to hit either vehicle, it’s the splash damage that counts. Be patient, the fatal bombing run appears at the end of the exchange, before it happens the Tiger duels a Sherman, destroys it but takes heavy damage from an AT gun. Only THEN does my P-47 finish the job. This was from a 2v2 game I played with a partner, who was also Airborne.


Site Update: Moving house

November 11, 2008

Home sweet home.

Home sweet home.

I’ll be spending this weekend — and indeed much of this week — closing on my first house, fixing it up, moving in and showing it off to renters. All these things will be done by the end of this weekend, so as you can imagine, I will be extremely busy. I’ll still be posting, and you can expect the next installment of Surprise’s popular WCG series by the weekend. Beyond that there are some more tip posts and a new Battle Report in the pipeline.

Fortunately I will have considerable time off for Thanksgiving (an entire week), so you can expect content on Rifles Ready! to continue flowing.


Unofficial: Tales of Valor previewed

November 10, 2008

Details, details...

Details, details...

The eagle eyes of our reporters here at Rifles Ready! spotted a brief post over at PlanetCOH that purports to be a translation of a German gaming magazine’s preview of COH: Tales of Valor. Can you say all that five times fast? While I fully agree this information has traveled a remarkable distance (German-language magazine to translation by someone at the RelicNews forum to PlanetCOH to Rifles Ready!), it does seem totally genuine.

Here’s my summary of the translated information from the German magazine, PC Games.

  • There will be a new multiplayer mode where you — and possibly a teammate or two — must defend a civilian town against AI opponents.
  • There will be at least one new campaign, the Tiger Ace campaign, in which you will control ONE Tiger tank and possibly some support troops. Could this be the “direct-fire” mode? 
  • This campaign will play out in a special mode; the Tiger will be controlled by four soldiers, each with unique skills that can be improved with accumulated experience. There’s a maximum “level” cap of four. Increased levels allow the soldiers to provide the Tiger with new abilities. For instance, your gunner will gain the ability to fire high-explosive rounds when he’s leveled up. Other abilities will allow you to improve the Tiger’s maneuverability attributes. Experience gained and abilities upgraded will be preserved between missions.
  • The other new campaigns will take place in Normandy, but no word on whether they’ll be like the Tiger Ace campaign or be more conventional.
  • This is vague, but the German preview mentions Relic discussing “a system which lets the AI only see what a real tank could see.” I have no idea what this means, but maybe it means the Tiger can only see directly in front of it, with the fog of war obscuring everything outside that narrow area? Your guess is as good as mine.
  • There is no word on any new factions, but designers did mention an introductory cinematic that takes place in… *drumroll please* … LENINGRAD! Also PlanetCOH quotes the magazine as saying “the lead designer didn’t want to talk about things like ‘Russia’ (yet…).”
  • The Essence engine which powers COH will NOT be upgraded in ToV.
  • Please remember, as far as Rifles Ready! is concerned, these details are all very open to debate. The information here is like fifth-hand and filtered through a translation. It most definitely doesn’t meet our ideal journalistic standard, which would call for us to independently confirm the translation. Alas, I speak no German.

    So: take it all with a grain of salt and wait for Relic to do an English-language interview. The fact they gave an exclusive to a German magazine must say a lot about COH’s fanbase, no?


    Battle Report: CorkscrewBlow (USA) vs KZ4kot (PE)

    November 8, 2008

    REPLAYJianshu (Airborne) vs. KZ4Kot (Tank Busters) RETAIL 2.301

    Eagles, on me!

    Eagles, on me!

    Out fighting on the sunny fields of Angoville for this battle report is our blog founder, Corkscrewblow taking on top-ranked Panzer Elite player KZ4kot in a relatively short yet instructive fight. I’ll be doing the reviewing this game as part of my return to the blog and giving a few pointers to Cork on the nuances of American vs PE play. Cork uses a bold upgraded Rifle/Airborne strategy while KZ4kot uses an old PE standby, the Armored Car (AC) rush. Can Cork’s Americans take the heat?

    Read the rest of this entry »