August 1, 2014

New site

Hello to you few passer-bys of this site. I am going to do very little, if any, updating from here on out. I decided a a Battlefield site with a weak name was just a bit too...specific. I have put together a site that is more consistent with my YouTube channel branding, but is also not devoted to just one game series. On this new site, I will be posting both my videos, and others I really enjoy, as well as news and my thoughts and opinions on a variety of games, including board games in addition to video games. I generally focus on PC gaming, but consoles are not out of the question, though I do not currently have anything newer than a Wii.

So, please come join me at the Heplinger Gaming blog, or check out my YouTube channel!

July 24, 2014

COD Advanced Warfare fan site

I have talked about it before: I gave up on Call of Duty some time ago. I felt as though the series was running in place, and found that I enjoyed the gameplay of the Battlefield series much more. That is not to say that a person can play both, and I certainly would if I had felt inclined to play COD.

That may just happen for me this year. I have a renewed interest in Call of Duty, thanks to what I have seen of Advanced Warfare and the past work of the guys at Sledgehammer Games. Sledgehammer is really putting forth some effort to research the possibilities of future technology to make the game believable, interesting, and hopefully they also make it fun to play.

Because I am watching this closely and it offers such great promise, I have teamed up as co-editor for AdWarCentral.com, a COD Advanced Warfare fan site. As fans of FPS games and gaming in general, we are looking to share our interest and our curiosity about this new COD by sharing news, rumors, and even opinions on the game.

I am really hopeful Advanced Warfare can bring the Call of Duty series to a new level and make me want to play again, so please come join us as we eagerly anticipate Sledgehammer's effort to invigorate the franchise!

-- Heplinger, co-editor of AdWarCentral, a COD: Advanced Warfare fan site.

Battlefield Hardline Fan Site

I have really enjoyed writing for BF4Blog.com, so the editor and I got together and created HardlineCentral.com, a Battlefield Hardline fan site. As fans of the Battlefield series, we are excited for the potential Battlefield Hardline has, and we are keeping a close eye on it. On this site, we share news about the game, opinions about what the game should include, change, etc., and other topics. We are even looking for other Battlefield Hardline fans to join us on the blog as writers.

As two guys with families and day jobs, we may not be the first to break the news, but we will share it ASAP, as we did with the news of the delay. As a Battlefield Hardline fan site, we also hope to bring our own personal spin on the news and such information by either throwing in a little opinion, or writing up a separate article later to analyze the information.

So, please come join us as we eagerly await the next installment in our favorite FPS series, hoping for a title that brings the series to a new level of quality and fun!

-- Heplinger, co-editor of HardlineCentral, a Battlefield Hardline fan site.

First Impressions from the Battlefield Hardline beta.

I got the chance to play the Battlefield Hardline beta and enjoyed it a bit. Overall, the game is fun, but still feels enough like BF4 that it doesn't seem to stand out on its own just yet. I guess that is part of why Visceral Games decided to delay the release of Battlefield Hardline until 2015: to really make it stand out as a cops vs. criminals game and not just feel like a reskinned Battlefield 4.

I managed to record some of my gameplay and put together a commentary discussing both my positive and negative thoughts on Battlefield Hardline as it was in the beta.


June 9, 2014

Battlefield Hardline and E3

E3 is upon us once again, and it is time to check out all the gaming goodness coming our way!  I will certainly be keeping my eye on all it has to offer. For info on where and when to watch the press conferences, check out the listing on Forbes.

Battlefield holds a special place in my geek gamer heart, although BF4 was not what my expectations had hyped it up to be. Regardless of that, I do still manage to have fun. I will be keeping a close watch on Battlefield Hardline from Visceral Games. The cops and crimals theme has me intrigued, and the involvement of a new developer will hopefully put a renewed level of thought and polish on the game. This one really has potential, but I worry it will fall flat. The good thing is that many have lowered expectations right now from the Battlefield franchise, so hopefully we will not get overhyped, which is a recipe for failure. If you wish to keep up-to-date on news, rumors, and analysis of it all regarding Battlefield Hardline, check out Hardline Central.

I have not played Call of Duty since Black Ops, and even that one received little attention, so I guess Modern Warfare 2 would be my last extensively-played title. I am a bit curious about COD: Advanced Warfare, though, as a new developer (Sledgehammer), and a new sci-fi-ish setting might refresh the title a bit. I do not yet know the extent to which the engine has been modified; that may be a bit factor for me, as the engine has become so old and tired. Maybe I am a bit spoiled by the environmental interaction Battlefield has offered. It feels strange to play a game without such significant destruction and the ability to get on objects. Nonetheless, I will be watching this one as well. Find more about COD: Advanced Warfare at AdWarCentral.

Another specific title on my radar is Civilization: Beyond Earth. I really love the Civilization series, and have even started a Let's Play with Civ V. Beyond Earth promises to provide a new setting for a familiar game (seems a common theme this year), introducing changes in the game play that sound as though they fit well with the new sci-fi setting and them, as well as refreshing the replay value of the series. This one will be an almost definite purchase for me. The other two may wait until they prove themselves. As always, I will not be pre-ordering anything, as I have learned my lesson on that front.

March 31, 2014

Battlefield 4 Gadget Guides

Have you ever found yourself wanting a little extra information about the gadgets in Battlefield 4? Perhaps you are at a loss on how to effectively utilize that nifty gadget, or you are just bored and want to read a little about it to see if there is anything you missed? Be sure to check out the gadget guides over on bf4blog.com for all the information you need. If you have any feedback or want to make content requests, just let me know.

March 11, 2014

Battlefield 4 Adventures - How to Fail in the OP MAA

Making videos for YouTube has been a fun experience. I received a few requests to upload some funny material, so I am trying my hand at some humor. What is the best way to be funny? Why, poke fun at yourself, of course! Let me tell you, I provide myself plenty of material for that, there is not doubt!

Recently, I played a round of Conquest on Dragon Pass, from the China Rising DLC. During this round, I decided to load up in the MAA, but I am not a fan of just sitting in deployment to improve my terrible K/D ratio. Instead, I chose to attempt to defend the B flag while utilizing the open space around B to protect the skies. Of course, I failed at all of the above in a rather funny way.

 I hope you enjoy! Until next time, have fun and keep gaming!


February 21, 2014

Titanfall Beta - A Few Quick Thoughts

Sorry to anyone who checks this blog; I have been so incredibly busy in real life that writing has been very much on the back burner. I have also decreased my focus on Battlefield a bit while things are (hopefully) improved.

I've been trying to get in some play time on a few different titles lately, including Loadout, War Thunder, Insurgency, and the Titanfall beta.

I had some fun playing the Titanfall beta, but it just couldn't hook me. I was afraid the fun would end, as it started to feel repetitive within just a couple hours. The quality of the beta was great, though. I would expect some polish, though, because it was running on a highly used and thoroughly tested (older) engine. I am curious to see what kinds of evolutions this triggers in the FPS genre.  Here's a video I put together discussing it a bit more:


February 5, 2014

Where Did I Go Wrong - DO NOT ENGAGE

I have thrown together a new installment of Where Did I Go Wrong. This time, I am discussing some examples of situations in which it is best to not engage the enemy by showing what happens when you do engage. Results are unfortunate (though maybe comedic?).


January 29, 2014

EA/YouTube Battlefield 4 Controversy


NOTE: This is a cross-post of my article from bf4blog.com:

If you are a fan of the Battlefield series (and you likely are if you are reading this blog), you are probably aware that Battlefield 4 is thoroughly embroiled in some controversy right now.

The controversies have arisen for a number of reasons, all of which seem to be compounding upon one another. I am going to do my best to share my perspective on it all.

First, there is the launch debacle. I wrote some time ago about BF4 having a rocky launch. In retrospect, that was a bit of an understatement, as the impact of the launch difficulties was deeper and their persistence longer than I initially realized. Three months after launch, players are still experiencing excessive lag spikes, connectivity issues, crashes, and other issues that prevent them from simply playing the game in a reliable manner.  Once a player successfully gets into the game, they are faced with poor hit detection, one-hit kills, significant balancing issues that make the game feel “off” on good days and are downright frustrating on others. DICE has slowly fixed issues over the past three months, but they seem to introduce new issues at the same time.

Is BF4 broken? I guess that depends on your definition, as well as your experience with the game, as the extent of problems seem to be different for everyone. Personally, I cannot say it is, as broken to me means something is currently unusable or not worth using. I can play the game, and I can still have fun doing so. That’s not to say the game is not flawed, however, and my time playing is not without frustrations. In fact, I recently created a video as a way to vent about some issues that occurred on a particularly difficult night.

The next issue is the recent news that EA paid prominent YouTube personalities to create “Battlefield 4 Launch” videos. The most difficult part about this controversy is that there are various versions of it, and it can be difficult to keep the facts straight because so much out there is simply speculation.

Ronku BF4 Launch
What we do know is that EA offered a $10 CPM (cost per 1,000 views) to these individuals through its Ronku program. These individuals simply had to create videos about the game with “Battlefield 4 Launch” in the title and include a link to the BF4 site. EA asked that they not focus on glitches in the game, and encouraged a focus on Levolution. Each individual was limited to three videos under the program, and all qualifying videos were limited to a global view cap for the bonus CPM. Videos were made, and people were paid.
Frankly, EA did an exceptional job of hyping Battlefield 4, and a large portion of the community, including myself, got swept up in the excitement of a new installment in a franchise we love and the vast potential it entailed. The problem with such powerful and effective marketing as EA exhibited is that you have that much farther to fall if your product has flaws as significant as BF4 had at launch. It is exacerbated by the fact that so many of those flaws persist three months later. Such a situation results in many angry customers looking for an outlet for their frustrations and someone to blame. Unfortunately, the rage is so great for some that they blindly latch on to every potential target in their sites, even if friendly. With that level of frustration, rational thought often jumps out the window.
The fact remains that EA and DICE made and published a game that did not meet expectations. However, DICE is working madly to remedy that, and I am sure issues will be fixed in time. For those like me that still find the potential of the underlying game fun and engaging, I recommend patience, as fun can be had again once the most significant issues are shored up. Provide constructive feedback to DICE to encourage and help in the repair process. For those who find the game irreparably broken, civilly demand a refund. It is unlikely at this point, but at the least you are making your voice heard. For all, reconsider preorders and launch purchases. Find out if the game bugs are something you can live with before you buy. Anymore, most games do not work properly at launch anyway. Game publishers and developers will not learn from their mistakes if we don’t.


The controversy comes to a head because many feel this was a deceptive practice on the part of EA and the YouTubers. This is where the issues crash together, because in all honesty, if the launch had been smoother and not angered such a large portion of the fan base, no one would care that a few people got paid a little extra for their videos showcasing elements of the new game; videos they likely would have made anyway.

Another Battlefield 4 blog has suggested that what the YouTubers and EA have broken FTC regulations and face a risk of fines. I am not a lawyer, so I will not speculate on that as they have. It does seem possible that rules were broken if they failed to disclose that they were being paid by EA. Personally, I would have made sure it was at least in the description that the video was made per an agreement with EA. However, we must remember these are people who are turning a hobby into a business and figuring it out as they go. I can easily see how one could simply think, “if I use this footage to make a video of something I’m already excited about, EA will pay me extra for the views” and not think about the implications of it as a paid endorsement. If this was the case, EA did them a bit of a disservice to not provide guidance. If naive ignorance of FTC rules is the worst these YouTubers did, they certainly do not deserve to burn for it. But, if one cannot forgive, simply unsub and avoid their videos. Defamation seems a bit of an overreaction.

bf4-second-assault-wallpaper4

In my opinion, these YouTube personalities are definitely not the ones to blame. They did not make the game what it is, and it is very unlikely they had enough access to the game to know the flaws we would encounter. While these videos did not focus on bugs, as requested by EA (which is a normal and reasonable request, mind you), many of these individuals made videos outside the Ronku program that did discuss game issues.

Boom

Writing and editing this has taken me some time and thought. After writing a significant portion of this piece, a video was released by ScannerBarkly discussing the EA/YouTube topic, going into greater detail on it than I do here. He was not involved in the Ronku program and provides an exceptional and objective take on the topic. I will embed it below. I strongly encourage everyone reading this to take a moment to watch, or at least listen to, his commentary, and even consider subscribing to his channel if you are a fan of YouTube videos. [Warning: videos contain strong language and brutal honesty]


January 16, 2014

BF4 Gadget Guide - EOD Bots

I have posted a new gadget guide to the EOD Bots on YouTube. This one was really fun to make.  I had not taken much time to use the EOD bot in Battlefield 4, as I had all but given up on them in BF3 from being so hard to drive.  They are much more stable in BF4 (though still rather wonky), so it is easier to make effective use of them.  I had a really fun round in which I spent 5-10 minutes maintaining a friendly IFV in enemy territory and then flanked some enemies to take out a few with the repair torch once he was safe. I think I am going to have to make use of this thing a little more.  I also got some great footage of how messed up the physics on it can be...definitely a few WTF moments.


January 7, 2014

BF4 Mortar Guide

I posted a new video on using the mortar in BF4, as well as a new post at bf4blog.com soon to go live on the same topic.  I turned the volume up on this video some so the audio is a little better.  The problem with that is you can year a lot of background noise (loud computer fans, breathing, etc.).  I have ordered a Blue Snowball that will hopefully be in before I start the next video later this week.  That should really help the audio. Anyway, that's it for a quick update; I hope to have a more in-depth and thought-provoking discussion soon, but time is short lately.


January 2, 2014

Metro Glitch Revisited

If you have not seen the channel before, I suggest you check out IND Gamers on YouTube. They post videos that primarily focus on sharing significant bugs and glitches in the Battlefield series with DICE in a very unique and entertaining style.

Their latest video shows how the outside the map glitch from Operation Metro in BF3 has returned in Operation Metro 2014, currently available in the Second Assault DLC on Xbox One.  I highly recommend this video because it offers a very serious and frank discussion that DICE needs to hear regarding the quality of Battlefield 4. If you have seen other IND videos, you will know that this video is very out of character for them, as they approach these issues in a very entertaining and light-hearted manner.

The serious concern arises because this particular glitch existed in Battlefield 3 and was fixed. However, in the reissue of Metro in Battlefield 4, which has been (by all accounts...as I am on PC and don't have it) extensively redesigned and improved, the exact same issue exists again.  This means either they copied and pasted the base of Metro from the uncorrected version from BF3, or redesigned the map without recollection of this issue.  What is even more troubling is the fact their testing team did not start by checking that this rather well-known issue did not exist in the new map.

I love this game, but I am saddened by the trouble it is having.  Hopefully I can write up my more in-depth thoughts on the issue sometime soon, so be on the lookout for that here or at BF4blog.com.