Beta ends; 2.400 goes retail

March 31, 2009
Mr. La Forge, why don't we have warp speed?

Mr. La Forge, why don't we have warp speed?

It’s ironic Relic chose to release 2.400 to retail on the eve of April Fool’s Day. After such a long wait, many of you may be asking yourselves, “is this for real?” Indeed, GR.org pushed home this very point with its April 1 shenanigan, which features everyone’s favorite bald Starfleet officer. Let it be known that reporters are never fooled by April Fool’s Day jokes, of course.

In fact, I’m taking this occasion to declare that Rifles Ready! has and always will be a shining beacon of light and truth — and as such I will never attempt to con you with some scandalous, obviously untrue, screamingly fake falsehood.

In unrelated news, I just landed a date with this chick. She called and said “Corkscrew, I love your blog. I read your last Battle Report and I just about had an orgasm when I read the part about the Strafing Run and the P47 flying over the ground like an avenging angel. You are sooo poetic for a COH player. I wanna have your babies.” Seriously, she said that. I’ve got the number she called me from on my cell phone.

Speaking of Battle Reports and the sexy A-list babes who love them, the release of 2.400 means you probably won’t wanna watch the replay of my upcoming Battle Report — it’s for a 2.301 match. Still, I plan to finishing writing it up and I’ll post it by Saturday. I already spent hours taking screen captures and editing them, so I’m not about to waste all that effort. I get the feeling most folks rarely watch the replay in full, anyway. In the future I’m considering doing a podcast-style audio that can stream on WordPress to accompany the text-and-screenshot Battle Reports. They say I have a good speaking voice, so I’ll work on this project in my spare time.

Remember to read my reaction to key 2.400 changes in this post.

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Tax time

March 30, 2009
The U.S. government sucked in 2008. I want my money back.

The U.S. government sucked in 2008. I want my money back.

It’s that time of year again, folks — time to pay Uncle Sam what you owe for one dreadful year of governance. Taxes become infinitely more complex for a year in which you’ve bought a house with help from your parents.

That’s basically my problem. So this week and weekend, taxes are my mission. That said, you can expect more great things to come at Rifles Ready! Specifically, there’s another Battle Report brewing, this time featuring one of the most unique matches I have ever seen, between Zerocrack and Kodachrome (playing as SweetLorraine).

It’s a battle in which both players lay down tons of barbed wire, sandbags and other defenses while shelling each other to death from afar with artillery, sieging each other’s bases with tanks and Flak 88s, and lotsa craziness.

Also, everyone’s favorite COH guru, Surprise, has continued writing his series about the WCG tournament and how it’s shaped his gaming style and discipline. We’ll continue releasing it in a series of posts, probably with two or three more segments to come.

So stay tuned and patient, sports fans! Good things come to those who wait!


Sepha’s blog bites the dust

March 27, 2009

sephaFriends, fellow Romans and countrymen — ’tis with great regret that I bring you sad tidings. Sepha’s blog, called “Sepha on Gaming,” is no more. This probably happened during my own all-too-lengthy hiatus at Rifles Ready!, but that’s neither the here nor there. Sepha continues to be active on GR.org, but it’s a great pity he won’t be sharing his own sage insights online. I am hereby extending to Sepha an opportunity to contribute to Rifles Ready! on all things COH-related (or even broader, given my own propensity to post irrelevant material, like trips to the White House). If he responds in the affirmative, you can be assured there will be much cheering, feasting and slaughtering of fatted calfs. If he regretfully declines, there is likely to be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I have of course removed Sepha on Gaming from our blog roll, sadly.


Thoughts on patch 2.400 and beyond

March 26, 2009

reliclogoWell sports fans, it’s finally here. The complete changelog for patch 2.400, the final patch for COH: Opposing Fronts that will mark the end of the incredibly long balance beta and the reign of patch 2.301 for the retail game. It’s taken Relic nearly a year to get here, and let me tell you — 2.301 is tapped out. Being an American fanboy, I’m sick in particular of always fighting the Panzer Elite with one hand tied behind my back. This is a long-awaited moment for us all.

I’ve read through all the 2.400 changes and I’ll offer my opinion in the full post, but here’s an amusing sampling of the comments that burst forth on GR.org as soon as the changelog was posted:

  • “They nerfed OF factions by a great deal and buffed vCoH factions… Bull.”
  • “You’re right, the former should have been patched out completely. Thanks Relic for finally fixing the terrible piece of shit you dumped on us a year ago.”
  • “Yey. Time to play PE with a clear conscience!”
  • “def med bunker spam is going to be the standard for wehr now.”
  • “spam bitches! watch my 20 medics recover for me my ARMY of the DEAD muahaha.”

The retail game will get 2.400 very soon, presumably timed to coincide with the April 8 release of COH: Tales of Valor. I hope you all have preordered; I know I have. It smells like a pretty weak expansion, but the new multiplayer game modes should offer some less stressful cooperative play (2v2s and up can get really stressful given how competitive and nasty people get about ranked games).

Patch 2.400 has a huge list of changes, far too long for me to comment on each one. Instead I’ve taken the complete list and pared it down to the ones I think are most significant (more after the break). You can read the full changelog and less (or more) intelligent commentary by going to GR.org.

Read the rest of this entry »


DirectX 10 vs. DirectX 9

March 24, 2009

With the completion of my beast-tacular new gaming rig, I thought I’d flip COH over to DirectX 10 and try out some of these crazy new graphics enhancements. You’ll all remember of course, that COH was among the first games to have DX10 support, which was added via patch update in late May 2007. Now, while I certainly enjoy having the latest and greatest PC hardware just the same as the next tech-geek, I have to admit I barely noticed a difference in the actual game.

The first thing I did notice was the presence of little rocks and flowers — all over the place. I loaded up a replay on Angoville to find the American base looking like a rock garden had been emptied into it. You can see for yourself what I mean. Relic’s official patch changelog describes the addition of “thousands of additional litter objects.” When they said thousands, they weren’t kidding.

The first thing you notice with DirectX 10 activated.

The first thing you notice with DirectX 10 activated.

Now, you guys may like all these Mars rocks scattered everywhere. I think it looks absolutely retarded. I can see a few rocks — maybe 10% or 20% of the rocks and flora that currently appear in DX 10. But it’s way too much, kinda like the two-year-old who discovers crayons for the first time. Next thing you know, crayon art is over every smooth-textured object you own. It’s just immature art direction on the part of Relic.

Here’s a comparison shot of the strategic point by the southern base, first in DirectX 9 and then in DirectX 10. Click the images to enlarge them.

DirectX 9, graphics settings at maximum.

DirectX 9, graphics settings at maximum.

Rockville McFlowerland, graphics settings at maximum

Rockville McFlowerland, graphics settings at maximum

I looked carefully at other aspects of COH’s graphics with DX 10 on, but I really can’t make out much, if any, differences. Not even improvements — I mean I literally find it impossible to tell them apart if I ignore the rocks, pebbles and dandelions.

There are supposed to be numerous lighting and shadow improvements, but I can’t notice them. Here’s the full list of claims:

  • Edges of particles are softened where intersecting 3D objects
  • Thousands of additional ‘litter’ objects in the world
  • Improved user control over anti aliasing settings
  • Alpha to coverage anti aliasing to improve quality of alpha test objects such as shrubs
  • Lighting quality has improved by moving all calculations per pixel
  • More precise point light calculations
  • Point lights can now cast shadows
  • 3D short grass on the terrain
  • Vertical refresh synchronization is enabled by default to improve visual quality
  • Hardware PCF for improved shadow quality
  • If someone can defend these based on my screenshots (or the ones in the Legit Reviews article), feel free to comment. Anybody else with a DX-10-capable graphics card care to weigh in?


    Battle Report: Riflemaster2000 (USA) vs. TheNoobSchoolBus (PE)

    March 23, 2009

    REPLAYRiflemaster2000 (Airborne) vs. TheNoobSchoolBus (Tank Hunters) RETAIL 2.301

    [Click link above to download the actual replay]

    Packing heat.

    Packing heat.

    At long last, back by popular demand, it’s our critically-acclaimed Battle Reports! There have been a tremendous number of really cool matches in the last eight weeks, when Rifles Ready! went into hiatus. Every time you think all strategies possible in the retail game have been tried, somebody comes up with some new shit. This Battle Report and the next one (to debut next week hopefully) will showcase some fearless ingenuity. This game is between Riflemaster2000 and  TheNoobSchoolBus, two excellent players. I’m not familiar with either; they could be smurf account names for better-known players or they could be new and rising talent. If anyone does know, feel free to append this information to the comments for this post. Note I will refer to TheNoobSchoolBus as “Noob” for short — this assuredly is not intended as a comment on his skill level.

    This match happens on the familiar proving ground of Angoville, where the resources are high — just like the stakes. Three things make this game noteworthy: one is a fantastic early (pre-panzershreck) base rush by Noob; the second is a remarkably illustrative series of opening skirmishes and the final is some terrific cat-and-mouse games highlighting the power of the Recoilless Rifle.

    relic000021The game starts off with Noob (who spawns in the north position) aggressively pushing south in two directions, going both for Riflemaster’s left strategic point (SP) and his crucial top SP by the house. Riflemaster’s first Rifle sees the Panzer Grenadiers coming and hops immediately into the house. Given how annoying it is to have your opponent garrison this key civilian house, it’s always wise to send your first squad near the house, so that if you see the enemy coming for it, you can parry the attack by hopping in yourself. Next up, Riflemaster builds a Jeep, which is typically not recommended against PE opponents.

    relic00004A Jeep serves precisely two functions against the PE: first, it kills Kettenrads (largely thanks to the pathfinding bug that affects Kettens whenever Jeeps get nearby) and second, it pushes PGs out of cover. Riflemaster finds Noob’s Ketten very quickly and eliminates it in short order. The disadvantage of building a Jeep? It leaves you significantly outgunned against your PE opponent, particularly if he chooses to mass his PGs together. In this game, you’ll see Riflemaster get an awful lot of utility out of his Jeep.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Cool Stuff: Covering the White House

    March 21, 2009

    This weekend, I’ll be doing a Battle Report on some worthy replay (and there have been many of these). I haven’t decided which one yet. In the meantime, here’s a few more snippets of what I’ve been doing in my hiatus away from Rifles Ready!

    You can read a pretty thorough accounting of my assignment to cover the White House here and then here, but in this post I’m putting up some of the pictures I snagged.

    In the future we’re supposed to get a professional DSLR camera so I won’t look like such a tourist when covering D.C. politics.

    Click any of these images to enlarge and read the full caption.

    Press briefing room.

    Press briefing room

    Front door.

    Front door.

    Stage left.

    Stage left.

    Preparation.

    Preparation.

    Departure.

    Departure.

    The president.

    The president.

    The view.

    The view.

    The driveway.

    The driveway.

    Looking out.

    Looking out.