Welcome to the revival of CHUD.com’s video game presence, Master
Control Program
. Since it’s an exciting [and expensive] time to be a video
game aficionado, what better time to bring back the column that almost was, a
look at all things console and handheld? That is what they call in the business
a rhetorical question.

Today’s Roundtable: Online Gaming

Alex Riviello
(Wii ‘3609 2823 5748 1076’
): I’m still
finding it really hard to get on the online bandwagon. Given a choice of
playing a great single player game or one online with the unwashed masses, I’ll
play with myself any day.

It’s not like I’m a stranger to online gaming. Before Xbox
Live even came out I was one of their beta testers, and I used to play Re-Volt
and NFL Fever (Well, not so much that one) all the time. It was fun, it was new
to me, and I had a blast the year I played online. But as more and more people
got on the service the more annoying it got to me.

See, I hate people.

I love shit talking, but I hate the annoying bastards that
are all over the world. The pissy teenagers, the racist scumbags, the people
that won’t give you the time of day unless you know every spawn site and weapon

Friends at work are always trying to get me to break down
and buy a 360 with Live, but fact is that I think it’d be more of an annoyance
than anything- and I already spend enough time playing games as is. No matter
how much enjoyment you can get online, it’s still a helluva lot more fun to
play with friends who’re sitting on the couch next to you. That way at least
you can slug them if they give you lip. What do you guys think?

Brian Condry
(XBOX "Medium Dave"; Wii "7547 7303 2381 1883"):
I hate people, too.
I hate the racist, homophobic fucks who spout ignorant shit to impress
their racist, homophobic fuck friends. I
hate cheating assholes that ruin the game by being cheating assholes and then
saying, "Well, if you haven’t figured out how to do it, you deserve to
have it done to you." I hate
elitist douche bags who play the one game, all the time, and give you shit
because you didn’t know that jumping right here on the upswing of a melee
attack while pressing "B" and being 12 points behind causes the
rockets to fly out of your ass, you stupid noob. I hate the 13 year old kids up at 1 am on a
school night with their balls-haven’t-dropped voices and their ADD
attitudes. I. Hate.

Companies and developers don’t seem to realize these people
are out there. Microsoft commercials
show the joy of online gaming. One of
their main selling points of the 360 was how awesome it was going to be, being
in constant contact with these great gamers.
A fucking video camera on the 360?
Thanks, but I don’t really feel the need to see some guy’s cock running
at me in Halo.

However…playing Gears of War co-op with a buddy? Great.
Screaming at Tim to "GET THE GODDAMN FLAG!!" in a heating Halo
2 match? Fun. Getting three friends linked up to play Dawn
of War on the PC? A blast. Online play would be great, if not for the

And Alex, you’re right.
Back when Halo was big, every other Friday night after work, eight or so
of us would get together, order pizza, drink beer, and LAN up two Xboxes and
play Halo for a couple of hours. Yelling
back and forth between rooms, coming up with strategies beat that sniping
bastard KC, hanging out afterwards, that was fun shit. Playing online with my buddy across the
state, while fun, just isn’t the same as being in the same room. Hell, at least when I’m losing then, I can
just unplug their controller…

Jon Cassady
(Wii: 2746 5742 8835 9278; XBOX LIVE: Jlcquest ):
For me, the idea of online play is utopic. “Play against the
best in the world and prove you are the best.” Being able to play games that
were made for multiplayer, whenever I want to, is what I’ve always wanted. Its
what I’ve hoped for ever since I realized that there was a modem port on the
back of my NES.

What I got, however, is a warped version of that dream. The
first game I ever played online was Goldeneye: Rogue Agent for PS2. I knew it
was the Moonraker of the Bond video game series, but I just wanted to play a
Bond FPS online. Within two minutes I think I was called ever slur I had ever
known, including a couple of made up ones. Just brutal.

The next time I decided to give online play a try was Mario
Kart DS. For every 10 online cups or circuits I started, about I finished about
4. To add more frustration, in those that did I actually complete, I rarely
won. Why? Because every time I built an insurmountable or even a commanding
lead, the other players would disconnect. The reason, because people wanted to
protect their precious online rankings.

I guess now I just dream of playing a shooter against my old
roommates in DC. Like Brian, I’ve spent many Friday nights with my roommates
binge drinking, taunting the shit out of each other,(pop, pop, bitch!”) and
figuring out new ways to desecrate a video game body.

As I embark with my new 360, I’ll try Live out against
random people, but I wonder how long will it be before I’m only playing only
friends and fellow Chewers online?

Nick Nunziata
‘7629 0050 6369 6322’; XBOX
: Well that’s the thing. I don’t care
about the people I don’t know on XBOX Live or Sony’s thing or Nintendo’s thing.
I care only about the people I do know. It’s why my handle is “CHUDcom” or my
name (as it is on Sony’s network). If you’re a CHUD reader I’ll give you the
benefit of the doubt and allow you to blow my shit apart. Otherwise, I go
online to be with people who I want to be with. Everyone else I assume, is an
idiot. The language and lack of courtesy I see there makes me a very grumpy

Online is great, though. It’s expanded the future of
videogames. Right now, I just really wish they made it easier to just play with
who you want to play with. Hey, I’m all for racism but enough is enough.

Kurt Miller
(Chud boards ‘Egg’) (XBOX Live ‘Barnaby Fist’):
I’ve really been dragging my feet with online games. After
about a year or so of Xbox Live, I’ve played maybe a few rounds of Gears of
War, and the experience hasn’t left me hungry for more. It wasn’t terrible. It
just isn’t much fun when your proficiency at the offline game isn’t worth a
windy fart in the online game. No big deal, though. I got hooked up primarily
for Arcade and the free demos. And the extra game content could be cool if it
wasn’t usually shit like “Brown Shoe for Dead Rising” or “Elven Coffee Table
for Oblivion”. Oh, and it costs four bucks. Great.

Alex Riviello
(Wii ‘3609 2823 5748 1076’):
can see myself only playing with friends on the 360. I don’t need to play Uno
with people taking pictures of their penis or wearing KKK hoods on their head
though, as a few of my friends have seen. I sorta like Nintendo’s policy of
“you don’t have to talk to them to have fun.” If they could only get their shit
together with it.

Don’t even get me started on MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer
Online Role Playing Games, for those of you who don’t hang out around video
game forums.) I sink enough time of my life into playing games, so to get into
one of those things would be the death of me.

I think EA is becoming a huge crock of shit with their
pricing of items, too. I don’t see why you should pay more to get stuff for a
game, unless it’s an expansion pack with new levels and weapons.

Brian Condry: Micro transitions are evil.
Pure and simple. Some are sorta
good ideas, like more quests for RPGS, more levels for action games. I like to think that having more of those in
the future is cool. And then the idea of
paying for them pops up. Fuck. That.
I played PC games for years where TONS of new weapons, levels, races,
plug ins, quests, teams and whatever was free.
Hell, I remember in the halcyon days where Epic would release 10 level
megapacks for Unreal Tournament, levels designed by the makers of the game, for
free. Now, we get Oblivion horse armor
for a $1.99 and the “ability” to pay to unlock shit you’d normally earn in
games from EA. Bullshit. Bull.
Shit. I’ll admit that I’m cheap,
but I don’t think I should pay for shit that should’ve been in the game in the
first place, on top of wonderful “next gen” prices.

Online, however, is the future of video games. It’s playing co-op with your buddies and
getting the high score online and huge RPGs where every character is someone
real. And, as Nick was saying, is fun,
provided you know the people you’re playing with. But most of my friends don’t play video games
so finding non douche bags is getting harder and harder…

Jon Cassady: Brian, you
are dead on. Microcommerce is the devil. Unfortunately, it’s also the future. I
just wish that if a company was going to sell a brown shoe, alternate uniform
or Ryu’s jazz theme, they would at least make it possible to unlock them by
performing certain tasks in the game. Give the player the option of either
forking over 2 bucks or collecting 50 Globes of Burning Light. While it may
still be a waste of time to spend hours collecting, at least the player has
received something of “value” out of it.

Of course that steps in the netherworld of MMORPGs and
virtual property. You what to know where the dark future of gaming is? Its
right in the middle of an online auction for the Sword of 1000 Truths. From
Korean gold farms to professional level-uppers to some Chinese broad being a
virtual property millionaire, there is some fucked-up shit out there on the

But to come back to the pack, I agree with Nick, it should
be easier to play with your friends online. Who wants to remember a 16 digit
code? However, as Brian said, playing with friends is great and all, but what
about us whose friends don’t have the love of gaming that we may have? We’re
stuck putting our faith in the masses.

Kurt Miller: Playing with the random masses doesn’t put me off. If it’s
something where everyone can shut up and play, then it doesn’t matter who I’m
up against. As long as I can mute them and still play the game, then I could be
matched up with Charles Manson for all I care. Unfortunately, the most popular
online console games are team-based shooters, and good luck winning a round (a)
with a bunch of strangers (b) not communicating and (c) putting up with
Charlie’s shit. So, yeah, you need a long list of friends on the Live account
if you want to play these games without the grief you get from the general
population. As it is, I’ll probably be seeking out games like
where I can enjoy the element of human competition without actually having to
listen to or converse with the random element. Which is strontium, I’m told.

Brian Condry: Other people (and
EA) suck. That is all. Sorry, I’m spent.

Dude, you get to play with Manson? That’s not fair. I only ever get to play with Zodiac and he is
so demanding.

Alex Riviello: He make you put the zodiac symbol as your gamer picture?

When I get a 360 I’m just gonna have to add everyone that I
know in real life, and from that CHUD thread. Cause I just don’t see it being
fun otherwise.

But still, you know what? I played Warioware with a bunch of
friends and family the other weekend. 12 player Warioware. It was a fucking
madhouse. People running to grab the controller, laughing at the player doing
their silly moves, and everyone having a blast. You just don’t get the same
enjoyment online.

Nick Nunziata: I think there’s a disconnect of sorts between the Asian gamers, who look for and pay for stuff we might not. They approach the medium with a much more devout and serious bent. Of course, they also tend to like shit that baffles me right out of my adult diapers. For every great one like Katamari Damacy there’s a bunch of things that make pray for another Godzilla attack. The fact they don’t support stuff that is made all the more lovely by online play (read: Xbox) adds to my bafflement. It’s hard to get the online experience perfected when you have cases where fat Everquest gamers (yeah, I’m generalizing) are willing to buy stuff piecemeal to make the experience better. It’s also hard when people only use the experience in tiny doses. To download an XBOX Live Arcade demo or for a quick round of Halo 2. Or because Microsoft bent them over in order to get them in the Halo 3 Beta.

Nintendo doesn’t really get it either. The Wii’s online component is as intuitive as the Lament Configuration. There’s no real client and service releationship. Where’s the "tell us how we’re doing" section of all these online services? It’s still very clunky, though Microsoft has the bull by the most horns.

I think this stuff will iron out, but there needs to be a less "wild west" bent to it. People should be forced to act as they do in society (not the film, though I’d be first in line for a Shunting MMORPG). Latency should be safeguarded. The cost of using the service shouldn’t be outrageous. It should evolve organically and with the feedback of the users. It should be as any business should; safe, civil, and for the good of both the business and its clients. Until then, it’s still a big pile of cocks with occasional warm feelings.