Play Your Game

The Best Gear Outside of Normal Raids

For all of you unable to run a normal raid and unsure what to spend Warforged Seals on, here’s a list of what your top priorities should be. Take a look at your gear and see what pieces need replacing.

-Head – Tier helmet is dropped off of Thok the Bloodthirsty, in The Underhold. Run The Underhold on LFR until you are ready to run it on flex.

-Necklace – Look into flex drops or use a Burden of Eternity from the Timeless Isle until you get a flex drop.

-Shoulders – Tier shoulders are dropped off of Paragons of the Klaxxi, in Downfall. Run Downfall on LFR to get the shoulders and then run it on flex when you have the gear and party to do so.

-Chest – The Tier chest-piece is the most accessible to you since it drops off of the Sha of Pride, in the Vale of Eternal Sorrow, therefore, you should probably shoot for the flex version of this piece first, and try for the LFR version as a fall-back.

-Bracers – Look into flex drops or use a Burden of Eternity from the Timeless Isle until you get a flex drop.

-Gloves – Tier gloves are dropped off of the Celestials on the Timeless Isle.

-Belt – The best belts, outside of Ordos, can be made by either a Blacksmith, Leatherworker, or Tailor. So, try to negotiate a price with someone who has these professions or check the Auction House if you don’t know any.

-Pants – Tier pants are dropped off of the Celestials on the Timeless Isle.

-Boots – Look into flex drops or use a Burden of Eternity from the Timeless Isle.

-Rings – Look into flex drops or use a Burden of Eternity from the Timeless Isle.

-Trinkets – Flex drops are optimal, but if you find yourself in need of a decent trinket, you can buy one for 50,000 Timeless Coins on the Timeless Isle.

-Weapon(s) – Flex weapons are the premier weapons you can get outside of normal raids. However, LFR weapons can be nice temporary substitutes and if you’re really desperate, you can buy a weapon off the Timeless Isle for Timeless Coins. They cost 10,000 coins for a one-hander and 20,000 for a two-hander.

-Shields – Like weapons, the priority is flex, then LFR, and, finally, there is one available for 10,000 Timeless Coins.

This list does not include Ordos drops, so if you have the legendary cloak, you can find better pieces for your helmet, necklace, shoulder, chest, bracers, and belt. There are also good pants that drop off of Ordos, but I would still recommend the Celestials pant instead.


Need For Speed – Rivals

We are here talking about a franchise that has been around for more than 2 decades; and within these 2 decades, it has witnessed development at a light year’s speed. Back in 1994, Need for Speed surprised computer users with one of the first racing arcade. Since then, the game has seen rapid developments and improvements, enabling its latest edition, Need for Speed Rivals, to be nothing less of a surprise.

Supported by two leading developers – Ghost Games and Criterion, the NFS franchise took many elements from its previous titles, mixed in a few new features and thereby produced a Gen X styled game play.

Not for the first time, the game offers dual career modes – one as a racer, and the other as a cop, each creating a distinct gaming experience. With swapping career modes having become as simple as triggering a button from the safe house, players can progress through the dual career modes, unlocking one level at a time.

What differs in this edition is the method of earning an income. While racers earn Speed-Points by jumping, drifting, near misses, etc., cops pocket the Speed-Points which were accumulated by the racers by busting them. The game play is intense and hence, it is suggested to complete the tutorial from both sides before giving your skills a try.

Completing objectives provide new cars. For completing an objective, a player must complete a set of challenges, known as the “Speed-List”, allowing them to purchase cars and goodies which are unlocked. With the government funding Cop Equipment, cop cars are available for usage as they are unlocked, however the racers, as usual, have to earn additional Speed-Points to be able to purchase the unlocked cars.

Earlier editions of the NFS franchise could be classified as Racing Arcades; however, the NFS Rivals breaks all previous records. Realistic designs and near to life detailing makes it safe to classify this one as a simulation as well. Developed to imitate the real life rules of physics and other sciences, all cars; be it a Bugatti, an Aston Martin, or even the now-returned Ferrari, give the players a life-like driving experience.

However it must be noticed that though in real life, the chances of a BMW M3 STS out running a Buggati Veyron cruiser are dependent on the driver’s luck and experience, in the game, they are dependent on the type of “Pursuit-Tech” equipped by the speed monsters. A variety of these “Techs” are available to the players, ranging from EMPs to Shock Rams to Spike Strips to even calling out a helicopter to help take down a racer.

These “Weapons” however, are not free of cost. They must be purchased prior to equipping by spending the Speed-Points which one has accumulated. The “Speed-Points” are harder for racers to accumulate as in the event of them getting wrecked or busted, all these points will be taken back by the Red Wood County Police.


Introduction to Gaming Computers

Do you know what a gaming computer is? It is a personal computer that has been created in order to process high amounts of data which are requested when playing multiplayer online games (role-playing) or online shooter games.

Since lots of computer games have become more and more complex, the graphics that are included here need more memory in order to be processed faster. All computers have a card with high-end graphics and with a fast central processing unit that is available commercially. When the processing unit and graphics card are fast, the time between the input of the gamer and the time of action that is put upon the weapon or the character is reduced. As you probably know, even a second can make the difference between losing or winning a game of this type.

Usually, gaming computers include a bigger RAM than what one might need for simple home apps. If a computer has a big RAM, then the CPU can access the information which is held in storage more frequently. This is a vital element for those who want to have a great gaming experience. This sort of computer is equipped with lots of USB ports, where the user can attach peripheral elements (steering wheels, aircraft yokes, game controllers, joysticks, etc.). The ports are placed on the front part of the computer in order to allow the peripheral elements to have faster access.

Clear audio and video are extremely important when it comes to gaming, and the computers built for this are normally excellent in terms of sound cards or graphics. Lately, technology has evolved impressively, and gaming graphics have started to look more alive than ever. Not to mention that the imaging system needs to have state-of-the art cards that can offer the graphics that one might need in this competitive world. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about stationary units or portable laptops. A computer that is utilized for gaming must have a better quality of the monitor screen and excellent stereo speakers.

The peripheral devices are highly specialized and they include input devices which are taken for granted most of the times. An example in this case is the keyboard. Lots of gamers would rather play their games in rooms that are low lighted or even without any light at all. This fact lead to the development of the back-lit gaming keyboard.

This is a keyboard that is projected especially for gaming and which has a certain type of keys that are meant to consolidate the commands that normally go into keystrokes. The keyboard emits a sort of blue light that is meant to highlight the keys when it’s dark. This was created for those who want to experience an effective gaming process and develop better reflexes.


Being a Hard-Core Gamer – The Social Benefits of Video Gaming

This would perhaps be a debate forever – the talk supporting the ill effect and that advocating the positive impact of digital games on a person’s psychology and social behavior. But, as much as the dark side of video gaming has come into the limelight, we cannot keep away from noticing the benefits of such addictions, as well.

Such attempts strengthen a person’s cognitive skills.

Modern-day technology has enabled developers to come up with high-end games carrying better resolutions and smoother user interfaces, most of which are also devoted to preaching violent content. However, contrary to the expected detrimental backlash, improvements in the cognitive capabilities of players have surprisingly been noticed. A hard-core gamer can imagine an object in a three-dimensional spatial arrangement more vividly than a non-gamer. Further, the former has a better hand-eye co-ordination, sharper memory, perception and reasoning capacity than the latter. It is interesting to note how a huge chunk of people who excel in the fields of science, engineering, technology and mathematics, are also big fanatics of video gaming.

The enthusiasm seems to have only doubled.

The conventional notions that have remained intact all these years suggest how such endeavors make a person lazy – both physically and intellectually. He almost becomes an alleged antisocial element, less supportive of the general ways of society. But, differing from this statement, scientific research and studies stand to prove how gamers are better problem solvers, strategy builders and role players than most other people. This is a potential plus point for their professional lives. Also, talking about creativity, it only gets better, more enhanced, with every such attempt.

And, most importantly, speaking of the anti-social behavior of gamers, it is only a myth now. A recent study suggests how youngsters, who suffer from attention-deficit disorders have been permanently cured with a daily dose of such fun activities. Also, with social networking becoming a mania, people are using the virtual world more to connect with fellow-gamers. Such mass participation is proof enough that no gamer goes into social isolation today. In fact, he or she advocates a better civic engagement, is only double enthusiastic about the entire connecting idea and does it with all heart and soul.

Gamers are more stress free and relaxed than others.

Such an attempt is a great way to free oneself of stress and strain. It is a superb mood and anxiety controller. It also keeps one away from evil, harmful thoughts and is the harbinger of emotional stability. It is one way of learning how failures are the pillars of success. Thus, the earlier notions that suggested how such attempts lead to depression and development of antagonistic, hostile natures, can very well be ignored.

Despite carrying a bad reputation, video gaming is a healthy, fun activity which can also behave as an educative medium when followed correctly. Such an attempt is a good confidence booster and helps players learn how to tackle challenges in their lives. In fact, it is an activity which resembles any other day-to-day activities happening in people’s lives. Yes, it is as simple as eating a pizza. Only, having a balanced perspective is important to see it as an advantage. But, of course, too many pizzas can end up upsetting the tummy.


What Is a Game?

We probably all have a pretty good intuitive notion of what a game is. The general term “game” encompasses board games like chess and Monopoly, card games like poker and blackjack, casino games like roulette and slot machines, military war games, computer games, various kinds of play among children, and the list goes on. In academia we sometimes speak of game theory, in which multiple agents select strategies and tactics in order to maximize their gains within the framework of a well-defined set of game rules. When used in the context of console or computer-based entertainment, the word “game” usually conjures images of a three-dimensional virtual world featuring a humanoid, animal or vehicle as the main character under player control. (Or for the old geezers among us, perhaps it brings to mind images of two-dimensional classics like Pong, Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong.) In his excellent book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Raph Koster defines a game to be an interactive experience that provides the player with an increasingly challenging sequence of patterns which he or she learns and eventually masters. Koster’s asser-tion is that the activities of learning and mastering are at the heart of what we call “fun,” just as a joke becomes funny at the moment we “get it” by recognizing the pattern.

Video Games as Soft Real-Time Simulations

Most two- and three-dimensional video games are examples of what computer scientists would call soft real-time interactive agent-based computer simulations. Let’s break this phrase down in order to better understand what it means. In most video games, some subset of the real world -or an imaginary world- is modeled mathematically so that it can be manipulated by a computer. The model is an approximation to and a simplification of reality (even if it’s an imaginary reality), because it is clearly impractical to include every detail down to the level of atoms or quarks. Hence, the mathematical model is a simulation of the real or imagined game world. Approximation and simplification are two of the game developer’s most powerful tools. When used skillfully, even a greatly simplified model can sometimes be almost indistinguishable from reality and a lot more fun.

An agent-based simulation is one in which a number of distinct entities known as “agents” interact. This fits the description of most three-dimensional computer games very well, where the agents are vehicles, characters, fireballs, power dots and so on. Given the agent-based nature of most games, it should come as no surprise that most games nowadays are implemented in an object-oriented, or at least loosely object-based, programming language.

All interactive video games are temporal simulations, meaning that the vir- tual game world model is dynamic-the state of the game world changes over time as the game’s events and story unfold. A video game must also respond to unpredictable inputs from its human player(s)-thus interactive temporal simulations. Finally, most video games present their stories and respond to player input in real time, making them interactive real-time simulations.

One notable exception is in the category of turn-based games like computerized chess or non-real-time strategy games. But even these types of games usually provide the user with some form of real-time graphical user interface.

What Is a Game Engine?

The term “game engine” arose in the mid-1990s in reference to first-person shooter (FPS) games like the insanely popular Doom by id Software. Doom was architected with a reasonably well-defined separation between its core software components (such as the three-dimensional graphics rendering system, the collision detection system or the audio system) and the art assets, game worlds and rules of play that comprised the player’s gaming experience. The value of this separation became evident as developers began licensing games and retooling them into new products by creating new art, world layouts, weapons, characters, vehicles and game rules with only minimal changes to the “engine” software. This marked the birth of the “mod community”-a group of individual gamers and small independent studios that built new games by modifying existing games, using free toolkits pro- vided by the original developers. Towards the end of the 1990s, some games like Quake III Arena and Unreal were designed with reuse and “modding” in mind. Engines were made highly customizable via scripting languages like id’s Quake C, and engine licensing began to be a viable secondary revenue stream for the developers who created them. Today, game developers can license a game engine and reuse significant portions of its key software components in order to build games. While this practice still involves considerable investment in custom software engineering, it can be much more economical than developing all of the core engine components in-house. The line between a game and its engine is often blurry.

Some engines make a reasonably clear distinction, while others make almost no attempt to separate the two. In one game, the rendering code might “know” specifi-cally how to draw an orc. In another game, the rendering engine might provide general-purpose material and shading facilities, and “orc-ness” might be defined entirely in data. No studio makes a perfectly clear separation between the game and the engine, which is understandable considering that the definitions of these two components often shift as the game’s design solidifies.

Arguably a data-driven architecture is what differentiates a game engine from a piece of software that is a game but not an engine. When a game contains hard-coded logic or game rules, or employs special-case code to render specific types of game objects, it becomes difficult or impossible to reuse that software to make a different game. We should probably reserve the term “game engine” for software that is extensible and can be used as the foundation for many different games without major modification.

Clearly this is not a black-and-white distinction. We can think of a gamut of reusability onto which every engine falls. One would think that a game engine could be something akin to Apple QuickTime or Microsoft Windows Media Player-a general-purpose piece of software capable of playing virtually any game content imaginable. However, this ideal has not yet been achieved (and may never be). Most game engines are carefully crafted and fine-tuned to run a particular game on a particular hardware platform. And even the most general-purpose multiplatform engines are really only suitable for building games in one particular genre, such as first-person shooters or racing games. It’s safe to say that the more general-purpose a game engine or middleware component is, the less optimal it is for running a particular game on a particular platform.

This phenomenon occurs because designing any efficient piece of software invariably entails making trade-offs, and those trade-offs are based on assumptions about how the software will be used and/or about the target hardware on which it will run. For example, a rendering engine that was designed to handle intimate indoor environments probably won’t be very good at rendering vast outdoor environments. The indoor engine might use a binary space partitioning (BSP) tree or portal system to ensure that no geometry is drawn that is being occluded by walls or objects that are closer to the camera. The outdoor engine, on the other hand, might use a less-exact occlusion mechanism, or none at all, but it probably makes aggressive use of level-of-detail (LOD) techniques to ensure that distant objects are rendered with a minimum number of triangles, while using high-resolution triangle meshes for geome-try that is close to the camera.

The advent of ever-faster computer hardware and specialized graphics cards, along with ever-more-efficient rendering algorithms and data structures, is beginning to soften the differences between the graphics engines of different genres. It is now possible to use a first-person shooter engine to build a real-time strategy game, for example. However, the trade-off between generality and optimality still exists. A game can always be made more impressive by fine-tuning the engine to the specific requirements and constraints of a particular game and/or hardware platform.

Engine Differences Across Genres

Game engines are typically somewhat genre specific. An engine designed for a two-person fighting game in a boxing ring will be very different from a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) engine or a first-person shooter (FPS) engine or a real-time strategy (RTS) engine. However, there is also a great deal of overlap-all 3D games, regardless of genre, require some form of low-level user input from the joypad, keyboard and/or mouse, some form of 3D mesh rendering, some form of heads-up display (HUD) including text rendering in a variety of fonts, a powerful audio system, and the list goes on. So while the Unreal Engine, for example, was designed for first-person shooter games, it has been used successfully to construct games in a number of other genres as well, including simulator games, like Farming Simulator 15 ( FS 15 mods ) and the wildly popular third-person shooter franchise Gears of War by Epic Games and the smash hits Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City by Rocksteady Studios.


Gaming Computers!

A gaming computer, gaming rig or gaming PC is specifically designed for playing demanding and complex video games. They are quite similar to regularly conventional personal computers; specific differences include the inclusion of components that are performance-oriented towards playing games, and video cards. The term ‘enthusiast computing’ is often used in association with gaming computers as there is overlap of interest and the genres described.

However, for a layman to understand differences between gaming and enthusiast PCs, it is important to know that gaming PCs are put together to achieve specific performance outlays in actual video game play while an enthusiast PC is simply built to maximize and optimize performance using gaming as a benchmark to achieve it. The cost of the two systems also amplifies the differences between the two; while gaming PCs can be extended over a wide range from low, mid and high range segments, enthusiast PCs are always high-end in definition and are quite expensive.

There is the popular myth or misconception that computer gaming is intertwined with expensive enthusiast computing; however, it is interesting to note that gaming video card manufacturers earn maximum revenues through their low and medium range PC offerings.

Gaming computers are widely different because of the complex variety of parts that go into assembling them; they are invariably custom assembled than pre-manufactured. Most gaming or hardware enthusiasts put together the computers; some companies that specialize in manufacturing gaming machines also do this. They create an interest among computer enthusiasts by producing ’boutique’ models that allow the enthusiasts themselves to complete the design by aesthetic choice in conjunction with the hardware in the machine.

Although gaming computers are distinctly different from conventional PCs, the evolution for better output began with improving graphics, color fidelity, display systems etc. in producing them for the mass market. Another particular move that has since been integrated into motherboards is the adoption of the sound card which is an all-visible component in today’s PCs.

Gaming movements began aggressively in the 1980s with several non-IBM PCs gaining popularity due to advanced sound and graphic capabilities. At that time, game developers, in particular, video game manufacturers and developers started out on these platforms before porting the usage to more common PCs and other platforms such as Apple.

Custom-built gaming computers became increasingly popular in 2012 allowing more flexibility in budgets, controls and upgrading advantages. Several basic components that are required when assembling a gaming computer like motherboard, memory cards, video cards, solid-state drives, CPUs etc. are maximized for performance outputs by gaming enthusiasts by turning to independent benchmarks during hardware selection. Such benchmarks include ratings for PC components to ensure protection of equipment and safety from in-built hazards like heat output etc.


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