Tuesday, December 13, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Jetpack Tango

The Rocketeer vs Ground Troop

By Erebus-of-Dark
Edited by Guardian_Bob

Jetpacks have an advantage over troops. Why shouldn't they? They paid the Rift for the advantage. Players can only obtain a jetpack through buying, not through dropped items. That being said, there are some ways for a single troop to survive against the jetpack.

  1. Be aware!
    • Jetpacks are always shown on the maps when flying, whether they are shooting or not. This gives a ground troop a good opportunity to spot incoming jetpacks from across the map. More importantly when you're not getting hit, and you see a red dot on the mini-map that is moving fast, it is almost surely a jetpack. If it is coming straight at you, they are probably moving in for the melee or shotgun kill.
  2. Evade!
    • If you see that red dot coming straight at you and your back is turned, don't look at it like some gawking teenager. Let then get in close. only when they are pretty close should you start strafing and turning. If they came in for that melee you need to wait till they commit and you can follow up with your own melee. If this fails they'll be much closer to the ground and you can follow up with the shotgun. The key is letting them think they are getting an easy kill unnoticed.
  3. Stay at range
    • If a jetpack attacks you from a distance, you can use your sprint to evade their fire. Doing so makes you just as hard of a target to hit as they are. Zig-zag and move away. When you become harder to hit, the jetpack usually becomes easier to hit back as they tend to stay still as they aim. This puts you on even ground as they can't move up and down as much, just like you. Most jetpackers will close in, rather than try to aim and lose maneuverability. If instead they move in close you need to keep sprinting away without taking fire which should give you lots more time to find cover. As they keep closing they will get faster, so keep strafing.
  4. Find cover
    • When you get a jetpack on your tail, find cover quick. This gives you a spot to recover, keeping you in the fight longer. Also it will narrow the field of fire making the jetpack come at you at only certain angles which reduces the benefit of his mobility. If you can only both shoot each other face to face, the playing field is level.
  5. Threaten
    • So far this has been a lot of running around and hiding, how about we fight back? First step is to threaten. That may mean making the fight long distance and firing with your rifle (if they are shooting you with one, remember they are now a lot easier to target). Or it might mean blasting a few random shotgun blasts when the jetpack gets close. It might even mean dumb-firing an RPG in jetpack's direction if you don't have time for a lock to at least let him know you got an RPG. The trick is, don't concentrate on getting the kill, instead concentrate on staying alive. Dodge first, fire second. This is a battle of attrition, the longer you last, the more you will hinder your target. Many jetpacks will try to hit unsuspecting troops en-route as an easy kill, so your goal is to prove that you're not an easy kill. The jetpack will likely move along to their original objective.
  6. Survive
    • Doesn't sound very impressive, but this is the key to winning against jetpacks. They have limited fuel for all that flying around. If you can stay alive long enough at some point you will see the Jetpacker do one of two obvious things:
      1. Go to ground (with some obvious sputtering of engines, showing his fuel is actually gone).
      2. Fly straight as a shot to a higher ground.
  7. Return Fire
    • If he landed on your ground without fuel, they are now a troop just like you. Time to show him the folly of their ways, as they are weak to all the same troop to troop attacks. If they tried to fly away and you have the RPG this is likely your only shot at getting a kill so use it. You can also use the Rifle here as players tend to seek high ground in a straight line.
  8. Move on
    • If they escape you to higher ground, congratulations. You've survived against a superior force in one on one combat. Now it is time to go back to your objective. Unless you are defending, a jetpack will not hunt you down specifically again. They will continue their own mission in frustration that they lost a supposedly easy kill.

Did you know

  • Did you know that mines will jump from your hawk to a turret? You can take one out without missing a beat if you're careful.
  • Did you know you can hawk stomp an auto turret? Not sure if you're supposed to, but you can.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Newbie Help

A quick note here from now until the 21st I'll be moving, so StarHawk Corner posts may not happen as quickly as they were last week.

Just Starting in StarHawk?

This post is dedicated to you and trying to bring you into what's going on with this beta. So let's start out, this beta isn't like a normal beta. Most betas these days are glorified demos. They are meant to help find some bugs, but generally not much more than that.

StarHawk is different in this respect. The developers are looking for much more. They are tweaking everything from weapon balance to actual game mechanics. What that means is you, new recruit, can't sit on your butt and not participate.


So the first stop on this tour will be about crashes. They will happen, your PS3 will freeze. So back up your saved games now. When the game freezes or crashes, you may have to hold the power button on your PS3 to reset it. When your PS3 comes back up, it will ask if you'd like to send a crash report to Sony. Say yes.

Let me repeat that, if asked to send a crash report to Sony say YES.

The crash reports are used by developers to identify what's wrong and why the crash happened. They are vital to developers.


You'll be expected to participate in the forums. Please do so, here's a link: http://community.us.playstation.com/community/games/shooter/starhawk/starhawk_beta

Don't worry, that link only works for PSNs that are actually in the beta. Now before you go shooting your mouth off, there's a couple of things you need to do. First look to the right of the posts, there are subspaces. Are you in the right one for what you want to talk about? If you're talking about weapons, that probably doesn't belong in the general discussion. If instead you're talking about something that cuts across multiple sections or general game play, yes the top level forum is probably good for that.

Second, look to see if someone has posted something similar. It happens a lot, and there are already a lot of posts. If so, don't start a new topic, add to the existing one first. If you do need to start a new topic make your title descriptive.

Finally, this is a place to share opinions and ideas, but doing so without justification is generally frowned upon. If you don't like something, say why. If you can't say why, at least try to give the devs an idea of what's really the problem. Here's an example:

Shotgun Sucks (BAD)
The shotgun is over powered (BETTER)
The power of the shotgun when at a medium range is too much. It can go further than the rifle and cause more damage. (BEST)

Note, the last one tells what is wrong and why. The first one does nothing to help.


If you're playing, you might stumble upon a bug. I know, heaven forbid, but it might just happen. You can go to the forums and complain or you can file a bug report and have it fixed. There is a special subspace for bugs and a sticky post on how to post a bug. Do start a new topic for new bugs or if it is already existing and you feel you have extra detail to add, add it. "Me too" isn't any extra detail. Take pictures and video if you can, and attempt to repeat the bug before posting. (If you can't repeat it, do post anyways.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Being Sneaky

Sneaky Uses for Things

There are some tricks people should try out. These come from the space map. The first is a set of platforms under the map. Grab a jetpack and go for them. You can sneak across the map into the enemy base without drawing a lot of attention.

Three hops and you should be grabbing their flag.

Just know you can't use the same way out.
Additionally, in Space you can land on the asteroids. Why might you want to become a sitting duck?

To plant some mines of course. Throw them all around, and then get out of there.

These tips come from Seventy_X_Seven and LeatherHeart respectively. Also MadProffeser points out you can land your hawk in a couple of places under space, so you can use your repair tool.

1.0.5 Update

Yesterday saw another new release from LBI. Those guys can churn out builds. The major changes were to limit the range of the shotgun while increasing the range of the rifle. Accuracy and spread of the rifle were not affected. This leads some players to complain the wrong portion was changed; however, it would be best to wait for hard numbers to confirm or deny the effects of this change.

Did you know

  • Did you know that on the Acid Sea bridges, there are two levels? Not sure what it is useful for yet, except avoid jeeps/detection
  • Did you know you can't jump out of a flying hawk, even in mech mode? You'll get a can't dismount prompt
  • Did you know the first bullet of a rifle burst is always dead center? Just wait long enough between bursts to have it trigger
  • Did you know the rifle does more damage against the head? Pop off a few rounds, and check it out.
  • Did you know the rifle is fairly effective against the auto turret? Make sure you wait between bursts, and aim for that red light.
  • Did you know the jetpack has limited fuel? Watch it and don't run out!
  • Did you know you can't auto scrub missles in the warning phase? Even changing into a mech won't scrub them. The only way to get rid of them is to dump a flare or have them hit something else.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Holy Updates Batman


Yesterday brought the first patch to StarHawk based on direct feedback from the Warhawk group. It also brought 5000 new players from Warhawk in. Full details on the patch are here but the main thing people seem to like is the hawks fly faster. Other things to note the grenades have been beefed up, so use them, and give your feedback.

Did You Know?

  • Did you know swarm missiles lock on to more than other hawks? They'll lock on to air mines, and even troops with jet packs.
  • Did you know you can dismantle an auto turret? Get close and hit R3.
  • Did you know hitting the red light on an auto turret does more damage? You can even use a rifle, just be careful to burst your fire.
  • Did you know there are 4 speeds in a hawk? Normal speed, slow speed, fast speed (light press R2) and boost (fully press R2).

What do I do?

This is a new section dedicated to helping out various scenarios. Today's case was presented by OverlordSpike.

Given the other team has made it into your base, has 3 auto turrets up and 2 pod beacons, how do you handle this?

The first target is the auto turrets. Land on them (use the map zoom if need be) and hit R3 to disable them before they lock on to you. Next throw all 3 grenades at the pod beacon. If they hit, this will weaken the tower substantially. Wash, rinse and repeat, you'll have all 3 turrets gone and both pod beacons in 3 spawns or less. Given to spawn all of that requires 14 rift pips and they can no longer spawn in your base, expect them to start spawning near barrels. On the plus side, all those buildings you destroyed gave you rift, you should be able to spawn a bunker by now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Being a SeaHawk

Acid Sea

So today we'll finish up the map series for now. Let's get right to it:


This map has the same legend as the last one, red H for health, yellow H for homing missile, purple S for swarm missiles and green M for mines. Not shown is the second group of homing missiles, but the map is symmetrical.

Did you know?

  • Did you know you can zoom in on the spawn map. Press up on the right stick to zoom in, down to zoom out.
  • Did you know that a beam turret links to the walls? Works great for filling in those gaps.
  • Did you know you can't use a jet pack if you have the flag? Drop a garage or you might be walking back home.
  • Did you know the walls have ladders, but upgraded walls don't? Be careful in placement, otherwise they are useless against troops. The side towards you during placement always has the ladder.
  • Did you know that walls have a place for auto turrets but upgraded walls do not? Use care in upgrading.

RSS Feed and Yahoo Alerts

I've been informed that Yahoo alerts won't work on the main site's RSS feed. As such, the URL you should use for all the latest FFG StarHawk News is: http://fullfrontalgaming.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/Starhawk?alt=rss

Monday, November 28, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Hawks in Space

Flying in Space

Since I started with Acid Sea for the ground, I'll start with space for the air. As such I present the Space Air Map.


The red H is health, yellow H is homing missile, purple S is swarm missiles and green M is mines.

Did you know?

Today's did you know comes from LeatherHeart.
  • Did you know you can use a jetpack to knife a mech driver? Sweetest kill in the game.
  • Did you know you have a suicide option? Hit start and select respawn.
  • Did you know that the bunker has 3 spots for auto turrets? Place them on the roof to keep people from getting the drop on you.
  • Did you know that you're safe in the bunker? Shots go out, they don't go in. Watch that top entry though.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Armed to the Wings

Weapon Pickups

So far we've focused on the ground game, and while this post will include a screen shot or two from the ground combat, today we'll be focusing on the hawk.

So let's talk about flight, or more appropriately hawks. The hawk is a mech that can transform into a plane and it can be devastating. It comes with a load of swarm missiles and a gun with unlimited ammo. In mech form you can jump, stomp, walk and shoot your gun and missiles. It appears to be basically impervious to rifle fire and the driver appears to be mostly protected when in mech form. (I've tried shooting the driver specifically, either it isn't possible to get a clean shot while they're moving or they were protected.)

The rocket launcher will lock on to it when in plane mode, but not in mech mode. Grenades do reasonable damage against it, but using rocket launchers is really key. It can transform quickly and boost away when in trouble.

So as for health, there is no bar or anything showing your health, however the screen appears to be cracked the more damage you take and if you're flying you can sometimes see your own wings on fire.

The movement in mech form is slow; however, you can grab the flag and then board a hawk. Trying to run the flag back in mech mode is kind of like running the flag in a tank in Warhawk. It is big, it is slow, and you feel like a sitting duck.

Just a side note, like the hawk, you cannot fly a jet pack with the flag. Keep that in mind when you grab it.

As for weapons there are air mines, swarm missiles, homing missiles and the gun as mentioned above. While you can attempt to collect barrels while flying, transforming into the mech does help a lot.

The transformation from plane to mech conserves your momentum so take that into account, or you'll over shoot and end up in the drink. Also hitting things while boosting is bad. Your hawk will go boom. Gone are the days of collision damage, best I can tell. If you hit something hard enough to damage your hawk it'll just blow up.

On acid sea, you can land on the pipes and in space you can land on the asteroids. What's truly frighting about landing on the pipes in acid sea (other than missing) is you can build some structures on those pipes, provide they are small enough.

The energy shield appears to only prevent incoming shots, hawks can fly/walk right through it.

The air mines come in packs of 4, but launch in packs of 4. They don't appear to be as powerful as they were in Warhawk; however, just like Warhawk you can keep pooping them out. They are also much smaller and harder (as there's now 4 of them) for ground troops to clear. DeadSpider points out they are magnetic now but can be removed by using the automatic scrub.

Power Ups

So how do you get these fantastic weapons? Simply fly through the appropriate floating hologram. Here's what they look like:

Swarm Missiles

Homing Missiles

Air Mines


Did you know?

Today we have a couple of did you know tips, the first from @MonkeyJoe315 and the second from Seventy_X_Seven
  • Did you know until there are at least 6 players no one gets rift energy from the pod beacons or home base? If you're trying to play around in pre-game, hit up those barrels.
  • Did you know the proximity mines will jump from where ever you place them and attach to the enemy vehicles? Place them on the Razorback and drive by a hawk to watch it go boom. Note the mines have a 3 second delay on them so you can get away.
  • Did you know during the pre-game you can't capture the flag? You can't even drop it, so don't even bother picking it up.

One final note, for those who are still wondering what the mine pickup looks like, here's a picture for you:


changed a few details based on updates from DeadSpider

Friday, November 25, 2011

StarHawk Corner - Spacing Out


So this is the second in the series of maps for ground combat. While Acid Sea has a few places to harvest rift, right now space has the mother lode.


So here's the map:

So here I've shown:
  1. The repair tool
  2. Rifle ammo
  3. More rifle ammo
  4. Still more rifle ammo (bottom level and top level)
  5. Mines (top level only)
  6. 2 barrels
  7. 2 barrels
  8. 3 barrels (top level)
  9. 2 barrels (top level)
  10. 2 barrels (top level)
  11. 3 barrels (top level)
  12. 3 barrels


Spawn at point A and hit those two barrels. You'll be up to 4 pips of rift energy if you get both of them. Run to point B and climb up the ladder. Try to drop a pod beacon (aka outpost) at point C grabbing the mines.

If you fail to take C use points 6, 7, 10, 11, 12 to get rift energy and drop a pod beacon on point D. Use the aim on the rifle for points 11 and 12, and slow down your fire. Attempt to take point C as it a key to victory here. Once you have C hit up points 8, 9, 10, 11 for a total of 5 pips of rift each time. They respawn fast enough you won't have to wait long to fill your bar up. Place a bunker, etc at point C.

If/when you die at point C (with the pod beacon still up, attempt to land at point E. Place a pod beacon between the two towers for protection. This will allow you to basically spawn on the enemies flag. Because the map is symmetrical, this works for both teams.

Did you know

Today's did you know comes from @DeadSpider.
  • Did you know that the sniper rifle has two levels of zoom? Hit L1 to use the scope and R3 to zoom in further

Thursday, November 24, 2011

StarHawk Corner - No Swimming


Today in the US this is Thanksgiving, or as the rest of the world knows it, Thursday. In the US it is customary to have a huge meal with friends and family followed by some kind of entertainment, American football for example. Increasingly Thanksgiving has also been a day of video games, as everyone has the day off.

So in the spirit of the holiday, I'm going to fill you up with a huge article. And stay tuned for dessert, you don't want to miss it.

Acid Sea

That's right folks, I'm doing a map analysis, at least from the ground. That means weapon locations and my own strategy.

So let's start with the map:

The Map

So let's start off with weapons. I'm not claiming this is all of them, and this is just for the ground game, but here's where you find:
  1. The repair tool
  2. Rifle ammo
  3. Mines
  4. 2 barrels
  5. 3 barrels
  6. 3 more barrels

Note, the map is basically symmetrical, with the exception of the mines so only 1 side is shown.


So what I like to do on this map, is to spawn as close as possible to point A. In fact as the drop pod is coming down I'll steer it as close to A as possible. Next, I'll grab the repair tool and drop a garage at point A. Jump in the jeep and get moving, time is of the essence.

As you go past point 4, take out the two barrels, as you'll be down to 1 pip of rift energy. Keep driving up to point B and shoot all of the six barrels between point 5 and point 6. Now that you have 3 pips of rift energy, drop an outpost, aka spawn beacon. This gives you rift energy as you continue to blast away at the barrels. Now you'll be spent on rift energy, but your outpost will start feeding you some.

Wait for the barrels to respawn and shoot all 6 again. Place 3 walls at the mouth of point B and upgrade one to be a gate wall. You're now somewhat protected. Keep hitting those barrels and in no time you'll have your launch pad up, second garage, bunker, beam turret, auto turret or two and energy shield. Take care when placing these items that they do not obstruct your line of fire for the barrels or driving though this place. I usually wait till the end to put down the launching pad or garage. From here you have a great striking point to attack the enemy.

During this time having a team mate or two stay at home and build up walls around your flag is a very good idea.


So, here's a set of did you know tips.
  • Did you know you can change positions in the Razorback 4x4? Simply hold X and select the position just like you would have done in Warhawk. Why the change? Well, in Warhawk the game had to delay a dismount to see if you were pressing the button or holding it to change seats. By moving the change seats button, you can dismount as fast as you can mount.
  • Did you know you can start driving or firing while still changing seats? While the animation is going you can simply start doing things instantly.
  • Did you know the passenger in the Razorback can also fire? They can throw grenades and shoot, so riding shotgun isn't so bad any more.
  • Did you know the pulse rifle has a scope on it? Hit L1 and it'll zoom in a little. This makes the gun a whole lot more accurate, just don't practice spray and pray.
  • Did you know you can control the beam turret? Try it out, feels bad ass!
  • Did you know you the auto turret has a weak spot? Look for the center of the auto turret and hit it with a sniper rifle for a 1 shot kill, or aim carefully with your rifle to take it down quickly
  • Did you know you can mount a turret on a wall? Makes the wall into an offensive weapon.
  • Did you know you can spawn a building while in flight in the hawk? Takes practice but if you fly low enough you can drop an auto turret in the middle of the enemy's base.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stats Explained

The Rifle and Other Weapons

As noted the rifle appears to have way more kills than pickups. This is due to the rifle being a weapon when spawning. In addition the player gets a set of grenades. And indeed the hawk mech comes with swarm missles.

While I can normailze the graph (approximately) for these spawned weapons, I cannot do the same for the hawk weapons. The resulting graph is:

So there's a couple of things to note. First, as I said above the swarm stat is biased and should not be trusted. Second, the rifle drops in effectivness when compared to the previous graphs. This is because you spawn with it, so I've counted every kill as a pickup. The same with the grenade which is now in the sub 1% range.

What I don't have is how effective each weapon has been in total. For example, I often use up my grenades on structures instead of people. Also combination attacks are not taken into account (for example attacking with a rocket launcher to finish the player off with a rifle). As a result these stats should be taken with a nice helping of salt.

The source for these numbers comes from the Lighbox Interactive StarHawk Beta News page

Announcing StarHawk Corner

What is StarHawk Corner?

So starting today I'll be posting tricks, tips and general information about StarHawk, based on my own game play in the private beta.

Tip of the Day

Hit square as a troop to reload. As any fan of Warhawk knows, reloading in the middle of a fire fight is a good way to die. Find some cover, hit square to make sure your pulse rifle has a full clip.

Rift in a Barrel

As many players have already figured out, rift energy is important. You get some from your base, killing people or from a spawn beacon. But did you know it is just lying around the map as well? Look for those glowing barrels and shoot them to get half a pip worth of rift energy each.

After destroying the barrels they will respawn after some time. Here's what it looks like while you're waiting for them to respawn.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More StarHawk Stats

New Numbers

Last night Lightbox Interactive updated their kill and pickup numbers. They now include everything from 11/15/11 to 11/21/11. I've updated my chart to show these new stats:

The first thing that jumps out, swarm missles have bested rifles. While it is not clear if troops or other hawks are being destroyed, it is clear that people are having a blast.

The new numbers show a total of 3029 kills using just the weapons above and 17514 pickups. That translates into a pickup to kill average of approximately 17.2% which is down from the last set of stats.

Mines jump out a clear winner as well as the shotgun, where as homing missles, grenades, rocket launchers and sniper rifles have a below average pickup to kill rate. As Warhawk players flood the private beta today it will be interesting to see how these numbers change.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet Starhawk Stats

StarHawk Stats

In a sheer stroke of dumb luck, I stumbled across some of the first data from StarHawk's private beta. As a result I've compiled this graph for you.

Now I know you're asking what does it all mean. Good question. First let's start with the source data (which I'm not linking to, it should be out to everyone soon.) This is based on play data from November 15th to November 18th of 2011. In that time there were 5286 weapon pickups (excluding repair tool pickups) and 950 deaths (excluding 4x4, knife, etc). That means for every pickup the players had an ~18% chance of killing another player with it.

From there it is broken down further, every time a rifle was picked up there was a staggering 45% chance of a kill. Compare that to homing missiles at about 5% and you can see that StarHawk has a thriving ground game. Absent from the data was any pistol kills, which may mean the player doesn't get one, or it is so weak that no one uses it. Also the grenade numbers may be skewed as the player may spawn with a couple of grenades like in Warhawk (similarly with the swarm missiles).

Just based on this data, grab your rifle, shotgun or mines early, they are well worth it. The rocket launcher just doesn't kill as often, which may indicate that breaking locks is easy in StarHawk or they simply are hard to handle against your fellow troops.

There appears to be a few other secrets in the stats, I'll keep mining away.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Duke It Out

This game is rated MA. As such I will pull no punches while making jokes here. You don't want to read it? Tough, I know you will anyways.

Hail to the King

With 7 days till the international release and 11 days till the US release Duke is playable as a demo for people who've pre-ordered the game. And it is the same demo as described at various conferences, starting with the urinal scene.

Now if you do have access to the demo, make sure to check out the pictures of the cheer leaders when you first start, their uniforms appear to be painted on.


Same run and gun as always, duck and cover to recover health or in this case ego. The weapon selection appears to be fun, I played with a pistol, shotgun, rail gun, shrink ray and something called the devastator. Driving the truck and running down baddies was great, and I was impressed about how the AI would rush in groups.

Using the RPG was a little wonky, especially since the controls aren't really explained well, but that's OK. The NPC near the whiteboard was annoying, telling me how my Snoopy plan was "Just crazy enough to work." (Thank you Stephen Colbert.)

Oh and I have to say, one beer and Duke was weaving all over the place. I call BS on this. It should have been a bottle of whiskey, no way a single beer could do that to the King.


Everyone made a big deal about how the graphics were sub par. I think the graphics are perfect for this kind of game, you don't want photo realistic graphics this kind of thing (except for the photos in the game, which seem to be just fine.)


Getting drunk, running down people, pissing and shooting sound great for the next 11 days while I wait for the game to be released. Hell I might even play the demo again. Just to hold the multiple vaporware lifetime achievement award winner in my hands will make it worth every penny. Yes some times even vaporware does come true.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

DLC's Future - A Tale of Woe for Gamers

Image from @legacycrono

Game History

It used to be that expansion packs actually added something new and exciting to a game. These expansion packs were like getting a new game at a discounted price. Life was grand for gamers.

Un-Original Sim

Then along came the Sims. The expansion packs, while a little cheaper didn't add a lot. This model was soon adopted, due to the success in the market place. While some gamers rejoiced, others were concerned about the path that was being followed. In essence the innovation and features were dropped in favor of the much cheaper content development model.


We live in a world with half finished expensive games that require another $20-$80 to get a complete game. Not only is this easier for studios (they don't need to hire/pay a content team) it gives them more money on less investment. A better ROI if you will. Just at the expense of their fans.

The Future

As companies look to increase their profits eventually someone is going to look at old school arcade games. Those games were great at monetizing users, by making you have to pay not only for content but per life. I can see a point soon where gamers will have to pay per life. It is already happening in these freemium games. All it needs is a little more time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Game Two Controllers


Beating Portal 2 Co-Op Mode By Myself

So I'm by no means the first to do this. I beat Portal 2 by myself.

And due to a clipping bug, there was only one really hard part.

First, for reference I'll go through the test course names:
  1. Calibration
  2. Team Building
  3. Mass and Velocity
  4. Hard-Light Surfaces
  5. Excursion Funnels
  6. Mobility Gels
So the first part that is tricky but not hard is in Team Building. You have to hit 2 buttons with each player and the timer is set such that you must do both at the same time.

This is actually quite simple. Set your portals, use your action button, run forward. In terms of actually making sure two people are playing this test is a little lame.

The real challenge comes in from Mobility Gels, test chamber 7. I had asked my wife to help me complete this as it was difficult, but she couldn't quite understand what she had to do. After about 30 minutes of blowing herself up we called it quits.

Here's the thing, player A has to use the speed gel and two walls to get up to speed. Player B has to then hit a button to lift a platform up. While the platform is coming up, player B has to run towards player A and use a portal to launch them onto the platform. Player A must then run to end of the platform on the right hand side. While player A is running down the platform, player B must go back to a different switch. Once player A is in place B has to hit that second switch to drop a box. Player A must catch that box and run back before the platform drops.

Quite literally it took both hands and foot for me to complete this. I had to make player A run forward using a toe, while I controlled player B. It took skill, luck and timing but I passed this chamber into the last one.

Now test chamber 8 is where people say there's another difficult part. I would have too except there's a clipping bug that makes this much easier. In the second part of test chamber 8, you have to slide a box down an incline. This blocks laser beams raising platforms that then lower. It is expected that both players run over the platforms and hit a button at the same time.

Well if you take the box with player A and walk down the ramp you can block the lasers leaving the platform up for some time. If you take player B and use the now stable platforms you can get all the way to the switch. Go to the left switch with player B, and stand in the corner. Face the switch and then have player A unblock the last laser. If done correctly, player B will still be standing facing the switch when the platform retracts.

This then makes it a simple to drop the box, and while it slides run along the platforms with player A. Hit the switch at the same time, and you're all golden.

Then simply take care of some turrets make a big jump and do a little dance cause you're done.

Down to 10 trophies till platinum on the PS3.

Now would it have been possible to make a test chamber actually require 2 people? Sure, but if you did then it may not actually be solvable by most teams playing. That said, a set of running forward and hitting switches and placing portals type of test would have probably kept me from completing it by myself.

But in the end, I saved science.

Oh and the credits are insane. I couldn't catch all of it.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Week In Review - PSN Predictions + SingStar

What a Week

PSN intrusion to SingStar, I've tried to cover it all. Here's some highlights:

From PSN Still Out. Why? (My Best Guess):
Monday, April 25, 2011 @ 6:15 AM PDT
So Sony had an intrusion. Why isn't this a non-event and we go on with our lives? Simple, PSN accounts have associated names, addresses, and credit card information.
I'm guessing that the real work has just started today. I'd expect some real progress in the next 24-48 hours, but don't be surprised if PSN is off into the weekend.

Sony Response, Update on PlayStation Network and Qriocity:
Tuesday, April 26, 2011 @ ~12:50 PM PDT
Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, [sic] PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained. While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained.
We have a clear path to have PlayStation Network and Qriocity systems back online, and expect to restore some services within a week.
From PSA on PSN Data Breach:
Tuesday, April 26, 2011 @ 4:15 PM PDT
The problem is Sony relied on their leaf node security to protect users. In other words, they thought the PS3/other services were not hackable so no need to secure the inner data. ... now we find out they didn't encrypt the user data?
Sony Response, Q&A #1 for PlayStation Network and Qriocity Services:
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 @ ~5:15 PM PDT
Q: Was my personal data encrypted?
A: All of the data was protected, and access was restricted both physically and through the perimeter and security of the network. The entire credit card table was encrypted and we have no evidence that credit card data was taken. The personal data table, which is a separate data set, was not encrypted, but was, of course, behind a very sophisticated security system that was breached in a malicious attack.
From PSN Security - Transparency and Trophies:
Thursday, April 28, 2011 @ 6:05 AM PDT
The thing about trophies is, they are kept on your local system and synced to the server. Even if somehow Sony screwed up and didn't have this data backed up, your PS3 does. Your trophies will be fine people.

But what's more important is this is still described as a data breach not vandalism. That means the person(s) in question just copied data and didn't trash the database. They likely had read only access through a partially privileged account, meaning they couldn't trash the database.

I full [sic] expect all profiles to be fine.
Sony Response, Q&A #2 for PlayStation Network and Qriocity Services:
Thursday, April 28, 2011 @ ~8:50 PM PDT
Q: Will our download history/friends list/settings be affected by the PSN downtime?
A: No, they will not.

Q: Will trophies that were earned in single-player offline games during the outage be intact when the service resumes?
A: These trophies are intact and will be re-synched [sic] when the network is once again operational.

Q: Will my PS+ cloud saves be retrievable?
A: Yes, once PSN is restored.
Finally, there's the SingStar Dance review. As a gamer, who can't sing in general I was actually surprised by the game. Well worth checking out.

Friday, April 29, 2011

SingStar Dance - Review

While PSN is still out, I thought I'd do a good old fashion game review.

A Singing Game? Really?!?

So why am I reviewing a singing game? Well, as anyone who's played with me while drunk knows I like to sing. Unfortunately for those poor souls, my voice (as my wife puts it) brings blood to the ears (and then all over the carpet). To be honest, I have a lot of post processing going on in my head so not only do I sound good to myself, most people do. That said, here's a game that can actually help you improve.

Starting at the Beginning

So about a month ago my wife went out drinking, dancing and singing with a friend. When she got home, she was still raving about how much fun it was to go out singing. Later that week we were at a Fry's Electronics and saw SingStar dance for $40, with two microphones. I checked the price against online pricing, it seemed decent and the game looked interesting so we grabbed it. We were going to a friend's birthday party and thought it would be fun to drink, laugh at ourselves and play this.

At the same time we picked up the 80's pack of music for the PS2 @ $5. I figured for $5, how wrong could things go.

Once we got home I hooked everything up. I hadn't bought my PS Move stuff yet, when I did I had to rearrange my setup as the PSEye didn't like my USB hub.
For the record I have plugged into my PS3 now:
  • PSEye (Move)
  • Keyboard
  • SingStar Mic Adapter
  • IR Receiver
While I have 4 USB ports, one is broken so I have to use a hub.
We started playing within minutes. Here's where the game blew me away.

Helping You Hit Those Notes

So, I should note before this I had never played a SingStar game. I had no knowledge of it going in other than I could see that it had been around for a while and seemed to have a lot of support. SingStar analyzes your pitch and scores you based on that. You can move up or down an octave and it deals with that just fine. There is varying levels of difficulty which allow better singers (like my wife or her friends) to work at hitting the note exactly while having me just get close to start with.

It amazed me how many songs I didn't actually know the words to. That day we bought about 20 songs off of the SingStar store and we were having a blast. We almost didn't make it to the party we were having so much fun. We then took this to the party, and it was a huge hit. Guys vs girls, and of course the girls kicked our collective asses.

In the next couple of weeks I purchased about 3 other PS2 game discs, as the game read the old discs perfectly. We downloaded a bunch of songs, I even put together a database so we could keep track of which songs we had. Full disclosure, I do have a backwards compatible PS3, I haven't tried any other model, but it should work.

We are now up to 153 songs split between downloads and 4 discs. I've gotten microphone stands and we've had people over just for this. As you sing the game records you and you can listen to it afterwords which is really cool.

Oh, and here's a great feature, if you have a PSP, you can use remote play to select the next song, player or players, mode, difficulty, etc. You can create a queue just like a high end karaoke machine, and it is all wireless. The interface is a little slow on the PSP, but manageable.

I've also had a chance to play with the dancing piece. It is a pain since sometimes they give you directions while your back is to the TV. In addition the lead time on moves seems to be too small for me, making it hard to score well. That said, with the PSEye attached there were videos/pictures to go with performances, a nice little bonus.

Over the past few weeks, my singing has improved dramatically. My wife says I no longer make her ears bleed. That makes this worth it.

Not Perfect, Yet

So while this is a blast to play, there's a couple of areas I'd like to see improved. The first being tracking other discs in game. The game only shows songs for the current disc and what's been downloaded. This makes getting a full list hard. I don't mind switching discs (even though it is annoying) but show me all my songs. What would be better is if the other discs could be downloaded to my PS3. Songs on the store cost ~$1.49 so buying old discs is economically the better choice in a lot of cases.

This brings me to my second issue, some songs are limited by region. I sort of understand this if the languages are different, but why does the UK have a different selection than the US? WTF is up with that?

Also, while the store is big, and has lots of different songs, there's a few artists who are missing. For example, there's no Tom Petty anywhere that I've found. This is one of my biggest frustrations, but is likely not the fault of London Studio who produces the game.

Finally, some songs such as Baby Got Back are classified as rap scoring. Rap scoring isn't explained in the user's manual (which is in game) and neither myself or my wife can figure out what makes the score good or bad.

The Good

  • Fun
  • Lots of songs
  • Inexpensive
  • Can actually improve your voice

The Bad

  • Song selection (No Tom Petty? Really?)
  • Specialty songs per region (Why does the UK get Love Shack and we in the US don't?)
  • Rap Scoring (Makes no sense)
  • Store songs are expensive


I love it but there's rough edges. I give this a rating of 8/10.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

PSN Security - Transparency and Trophies

Doing the right things

If you read the FAQ yesterday you most likely saw:
Q: What steps is Sony taking to protect my personal data in the future?
A: We’ve taken several immediate steps to add protections for your personal data. First, we temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services and, second, we are enhancing security and strengthening our network infrastructure. Moving forward, we are initiating several measures that will significantly enhance all aspects of PlayStation Network’s security and your personal data, including moving our network infrastructure and data center to a new, more secure location, which is already underway. We will provide additional information on these measures shortly.
This is actually unprecedented news. No one tells you how they are protecting your data. Not Microsoft, not Steam. The only thing this can be described as, is goodness.

A Note About Trophies

The thing about trophies is, they are kept on your local system and synced to the server. Even if somehow Sony screwed up and didn't have this data backed up, your PS3 does. Your trophies will be fine people.

But what's more important is this is still described as a data breach not vandalism. That means the person(s) in question just copied data and didn't trash the database. They likely had read only access through a partially privileged account, meaning they couldn't trash the database.

I full expect all profiles to be fine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PSA on PSN Data Breach

Your Info, For the World to See

So Sony admits that data has been taken from the PSN breach, including:
  • Real Name
  • User Name
  • Password
  • Address
  • Phone Number
Other Possible Data Includes:
  • E-mail
  • Security Questions
  • Credit Card info (but not your CCV)
This is a major breach of trust. And from the sounds of things it could affect all 75 million users.

It Never Should Have Happened

The problem is Sony relied on their leaf node security to protect users. In other words, they thought the PS3/other services were not hackable so no need to secure the inner data. This is huge. The PS3 hacks only worked because they failed to use proper security on the console, and now we find out they didn't encrypt the user data?

It is called AES-256. Same encryption the military uses. Can it be hacked? Sure; however, given all the computing power on the planet (which hackers don't have access to) and reasonably long salts, the sun will explode first.

What To Do

Unfortunately not much. Change your security questions, passwords, etc. Be wary of phishing. While the hackers did grab the data, be glad they did it in such a public way. Imagine if you will, instead of mucking up the works the hackers only took 1 or 2 accounts. They could have done this for months or years unnoticed.

On The Brighter Side

Look for PS3s at a deep discount on CraigsList this weekend. Sony will hopefully learn from this.

Microsoft should take note as well. Since consumers aren't told how their data is secured, Xbox Live could have the same thing happen. Be safe out there.

Oh and I should note, they finally have a plan to get the network up, but only expect part of it to be up within the next week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

PSN Still Out. Why? (My Best Guess)

Rebuilding a Network from Scratch

First, let me say this post is based on my own experiences in IT and computer programming. I have no knowledge of what Sony is actually doing, but this is my best guess.

So Sony had an intrusion. Why isn't this a non-event and we go on with our lives? Simple, PSN accounts have associated names, addresses, and credit card information.

Now according to Sony they have people working around the clock trying to rebuild the network. As much as anyone would like to believe them, I'm calling BS.

Here's the thing, a major rebuild requires an architect. One guy who, in essence sees the big picture. This is true for both small software as well as products like office. It is especially true in IT, where interactions can cause major problems.

Now think about it, if you have one guy you're depending on to give orders to everyone, it simply isn't possible to have them up for 5 days straight and have a coherent strategy. Hop that person up with as much Ritalin and coffee as you want, by about 24 hours they'll start to make mistakes.

So we have the outage on Wednesday and 48 hours to investigate/formulate a plan of attack. That brings us up to Good Friday, a holiday for a lot of people.

Assuming the mitigation plan on Friday/Saturday was to rebuild the network as evidenced by blog posts, I suspect that this nameless person would have taken Easter off. I mean really, work is one thing but family, they are paramount. So at best I give this foreman of the network 24 hours in the last 5 days to put a set of orders together. (Assuming 12 hours on Friday and 12 on Saturday.)

Now 24 hours seems like a lot of time, but you have to realize 90% of that time would have been working with other engineers to get a grasp on the changes needed and to start to formulate a new networking strategy.

I'm guessing that the real work has just started today. I'd expect some real progress in the next 24-48 hours, but don't be surprised if PSN is off into the weekend.

Incentives for Getting the Lights Back On

So even through people point out PSN is free, it really isn't. PSN pays for its self via online purchases and such. Ever wonder why a game that costs $5 in the store still costs $30 on PSN? It is because Sony controls the pricing and can get people to pay the higher rate to have the game right now.

Every second PSN is down, they are losing money. Lots of money. So while I've painted a picture of doom and gloom above, I could be wrong. Money talks and depending on who's overseeing the network overhaul, the architect could be listening.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sony May Have to Pay For Removal of OtherOS (At Least in Finland)

Normally I don't publish news like this; however, I thought a little run down would be useful:

I ran across this article.

For those who just want he summary, basically the Finnish Consumer Board was looking at the OtherOS removal mess. Sony claimed because the user agreed to the new EULA, they could do anything they wanted. The board said, that EULAs can't remove rights given by law.

Right now this is only a recommendation, but he board wants Sony to pay consumers 100 euros to everyone who had this feature. The PS3 sold for 265 euros to give a perspective of how much this is. Over 1/3rd the original purchase price.

This ruling is not legally binding, but it will be considered by the actual court case. I gotta say, I agree with the Finnish Board here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Portal 2 - Spoiler Free Review

It has been a long time.

I've finished up the single player on Portal 2. For those who haven't played it yet, here's a spoiler free review.

Which Version To Buy:

If you have a PS3 but like PC gaming, still go with the PS3 version. It gives you the PC/Mac version for free. The reverse isn't true, nor is it true on the XBox360.


  • Retains the old Portal style, more dark comedy
  • Smoother play (only got stuck on 1 or 2 puzzles)
  • Gives some back story
  • Developer commentary (This is just plain awesome!)
  • Easy to skip back to sections


  • Song for credits is a bit weaker
  • Still feels too short, at ~10 hours to beat the single player
  • Low replay value
So if you played the first game and liked it, there's more to like here. If you haven't played the first game, it is well worth the money on Steam.

This is definitely not for everyone, but it will have a great fan base.

Now time for multi-player.

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