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Sep. 1st, 2012 @ 07:27 am CS:GO and stuff
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Spiketail Hatchling
Between work, work, and all this living stuff, I finally found a video game worth mentioning... but first, a story.

Yesterday was the Friday before a holiday weekend. We were officially dismissed at 2PM. At 1:30, one of the account managers comes to me and says, "Publisher X is having problems with ad Y on his app." No details but the URL that keeps popping up when it shouldn't. So, I scour the database fruitlessly for about an hour, and then I begin writing a script to poke our adserver fleet and download the ads themselves... 128,900 of them. Downloading these files would've taken about two hours. I was prepared. But then, the Grand Prix is happening this weekend and staying past 3:00 at the office would probably be suicide. I stopped the script after only 3,000 or so files were downloaded and took the computer home... leaving the power cord at the office. I set up at home, curse myself for the forgotten power cord and begin my trek. The wifi at my place of residence is slower than my wired connection at work and I'm stuck behind a VPN. 2 hours becomes 5. When it was over, I copied the files to my phone... which takes a lot of battery power on the computer's end to push out that data. I'd *just* got it done with 5% battery. I felt like a spy swapping out files while the clock's counting down... Quite heroic. I concluded after a 20-minute grep session that it wasn't our ad to begin with that was causing the problem.

So, what happened in that five-ish hours of computer chugging besides work? Well, a certain cool dude jumped on-line in the interim. He'd mentioned CounterStrike: Global Offensive on my facebook a while ago, and was actually playing yesterday evening. I decided to hop on for a couple hours. It's a very solid game. It's got the familiar elements of CounterStrike (terrorists vs. counter-terrorists knocking about killing each other while trying to complete an objective) with a lot of familiar maps and a few new ones. The loading screen's got a top-down view of the level, so you can make a strategy while the game's still loading, even if you're unfamiliar with the map.

They've changed around the player models to make them more realistic. With every game that does this, it makes it difficult to decide in the heat of combat whether some guy's a friend or a foe. About half the servers have friendly-fire enabled, and Clete and I both had some trouble with this.

The UI's also taken a turn for the worse. Some folks were complaining in-game about the spectator screen being bulky and information-laden. I agree, but would also say that the weapons-purchasing screen is also clunky. It's presently laid out radially so weapons are chosen from what looks like a pie-chart. I've complained about UIs with UT3, which felt more console-ish than PC... this kinda suffers from that.

Worse than the GUI with weapons purchasing, though: weapons aren't specific to what team you're on. Playing a terrorist, now you've got access to the M4A1, and as a CT, you've got the dualies. It fixes any issues people had with balance, but it also makes the game lose some of its character. And on that thread of thought, weapons have lost their alternate fire, so M4A1 doesn't have a silencer ( :-( ) and your glock can't go to bust-fire mode.

Now that I'm done crying about that, I wanna say that I really enjoy this game. The old mod for CS/CSS called GunGame is now an official mode of CS:GO. You start with a weapon and knocking off enemies gets you a better (actually worse, in most cases) gun. Since it's built into the game, it feels a lot more natural than CS with GG stapled on top. Also, teams are balanced with bots. I'm still against bots playing on multiplayer, but this time they're done properly: when a player dies, they can control a bot. This is win-win since the dead guy doesn't have to wait 'til the next round to get back into the fight (a chance at redemption) and the remaining players don't have to deal with a computer-controlled suckmeister. It's smartly made so you can only control bots on your own team.

Ultimately, the changes are a little annoying. (DE_DUST now has an additional passage in it.) But they're worth it. (CS_OFFICE now has an official achievement for breaking 12 windows.) Definitely worth the $15, anyway.

Hope to see you online!

Since this post was largely about gaming, I strongly recommend reading No Time to Play, a great blog about the challenges of game design by some retro-computing fans.