Thursday, January 27, 2011

Site to avoid: Lets101

Lets101 is a free "dating" site which requires you to list your cell phone number as "verification" (read, so they can sell it to advertisers, as there is no Do-not-Call laws regarding cell phones yet).

Use some sense people, if it asks for financial information, or contact information beyond an email address, it's a scam.

Quick Thought: How offensive is that?

Just a thought; why can't Activision or EA (or any other the highly incompetent publishers) realize that PC gamers want a fun FPS game? Not a dumbed down, garbage console thing, like Modern Warfare 2, with it's broom-closet sized maps, absence of actual online multiplayer, no modding, no maps, and all the other issues that continue to plague that title.

I had far more fun, and continue to have far more fun, with the last real first person shooter Activision released; Call of Duty and it's expansion, United Offensive. Before I knew it, half my day today was gone, dissolved in an orgy of blood, bashing, and laughter as I got together with people I've played semi-regularly with for over 5 years now off and on. The maps range from the tiny CoD4/MW2 console style crap to massive sprawling city-scapes, war torn and battered.

Yes, the graphics are outdated to the extreme (the title came out in 2003 IIRC). Yes, it's a World War II shooter, which is a genre that has been beaten to death and beyond. It still stands head and shoulders above any PC shooter released in the last 5 years, and the following Call of Duty titles aren't even good enough to lick it's mud-covered boots.

It's why I wish I could win the lottery. I'd love to put a few million into showing Activision how it's done. CoD:UO with modern graphics and no DRM viruses like Securom or Starforce. Full mod support, dedicated servers, maps that are large enough to let slow firing rifles be useful, and all wrapped up in modern graphics packaging. I'd not have a problem giving console-only gamers a shot of a real FPS, if Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony will allow a real FPS onto their closed systems.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quick Thought: Magika (Action, PC)

Magika is a new top down shooter/action game with light humor and fantasy elements from publisher Paradox. It promises up to 4 player co-op (with amusing friendly fire) and a colorful environment wrapped in a simple gameplay premise. However, it has two major flaws, and one massive flaw. System performance, controls, and online play.

Magika is pretty well drawn, with attractive art throughout. However, it is at the expense of performance; the game struggles to run at even a staggered pace, making it an exercise in frustration to play. Even on a reasonably high end machine, it struggles to hit even an acceptable frame rate. When even Dwarf Fortress can hit 60fps with 100 dwarves on a system, Magika has no excuses.

On the surface, controls were fairly well thought out. Some choices are completely out of touch with the others, such as some spells requiring space bar to be cast on the PC, while others require the third mouse button/Mouse wheel to be pressed. Requiring the mouse wheel alone is a questionable choice. It's worst effort is the spotty recognition of a key being hit; making actually casting spells beyond the basic elements another exercise in frustration.

Online play is not even working at present, which is totally inexcusable for a game which is primarily sold based on it's multiplayer aspects.

All in all, this one is a promising game which turned into a total flop. Wait at least six months before trying, maybe online play will be working, and the performance won't be so shoddy.

Some online dating tips:

1: If it claims it's free, and requires a credit card in order to use basic expected functions of the site (such as send messages to other users), it's a scam site. Flee quickly, and report it to the Federal Trade Commission ASAP. You may want to scan your computer for malware and viruses that these sites tend to install without your permission.

2: Never, ever post any information you are not comfortable with having online. Especially noted items are income levels, cell phone or land line phone numbers, addresses (even P.O. Boxes), real names, email addresses, and any means to identify or locate you in the real world.

Any site that requires any of these items is a scam site. Flee quickly, and report it to the Federal Trade Commission ASAP. You may want to scan your computer for malware and viruses that these sites tend to install without your permission.

3: Look at the last log in time of a person you're thinking of emailing FIRST. If they haven't been in 3 months, then maybe they'll respond. If they haven't been there in 6+ months, don't bother. The account was either abandoned, or a shill account in order to lure in victims.

4: If a person has a long laundry list of things they want, ignore them. They're stuck up on their version of perfection, and want the high-income doctor-victim whose too dumb to see it coming.

5: Short, generic profiles, poor grammar and spelling, and one blurry pic or alternately, a few obviously professional pics, are tell-tale signs of a fake profile. Modern webcams and cell cameras take very clear shots, and most people should have a mix of self shots, and family shots that they can edit for use.

6: If you want the most responses and even some attractive women messaging you; list a high income. six figures will have them running.

Lack of response, or something else? (Or "I summon thee! Unholy Daemon of Cynicism!)

I have, until recently, been on the two most popular "dating" sites Plenty of Fish and OKCupid. My experiences on both have been identical.

First off, Plenty of Fish is fishy enough, requiring the dubious requirement of a user posting their income level. There is no logical reason for this, other than unethical (if not illegal) data mining. For this reason, do NOT sign up for Plenty of Fish. Some things are completely unnecessary for a website to have, such as your home address, cell phone number, and income. It's on par with them requiring a Social Security Number (in the United States; other countries substitute your country's equivalent).

On to the meat of this post.

I have had exactly two profiles each on both sites. Two of which were no income listed (on OKCupid)/Low income (required for selling to third parties by PoF); two of which I posted an obscenely high income level.

Now, normally, I would never post an income level, on any site. It's simply none of your damn business. Especially on a dating site, which I'll come to in a moment. However, I have felt that being as straightforward and honest in my assessment of myself would be better for any long term relationship potential in meeting on such sites; liars generally aren't looked on highly (just look at members of Congress). And, again in my opinion, starting out a relationship on a dishonest note is not the best start to that relationship.

As such, I'm quick to point out my quirks; I'm a nerd, a gear head, and a musician of sorts. I'm teaching my self computer programming in order to write a game, play cRPGs, collect and use historic and reproduction weaponry (firearms and swords), and take a bit to warm up to a person. I typically expound on these things for 3-5 paragraphs, pointing out some of my long term goals as well as interests.

This is constant among all four profiles. All of them read similarly.

Now, on to the show:

OKCupid:No Income: Out of over 100 messages sent, 0 replies.
OKCupid:Obscene Income: Out of 10 messages, 7 replies.

Granted, this is not remotely scientific in scope. I wanted to just see if a high income profile got a higher response rate than a no listed income on. It did. Another issue was that technically, the OKC profile was the same, just with the income changed, and I immediately got higher responses, and even some first contacts, by changing my income to a "suitable level".

I quit OKC in disgust after this.

PoF:Low Income: 6 messages, 0 replies.
PoF:High Income: 6 messages, 4 replies.

Similar stats, though I don't consider PoF to be a legitimate website due to requiring sensitive personal information in order to be used. Messages were similar in content, though on the earlier, no income OKC profile I used to write messages built off of something I read in the profile. After so many "fuck off, you don't make enough money to pay my whore-fee" lack of responses, I just started using a generic message.

What does this prove? Nothing. This is far to limited in scope, and number of tests to work out as anything. However, it does disturb me to an extent. It matches well my ex-wife, who left after I failed to buy her a $60,000 SUV, instead preferring a compact car that averaged 35mpg and had a better ride.

It also matches forum complaints on OKC, which persist at such a rate that they're considered daily annoyances by regular, jaded forum users who mock those complainers.

In short, it appears that one of two things is going on on these "dating" websites.

1 - Women are not serious about forming a relationship there, and are trolling for attention as a means to waste time, much like normal people do with Solitaire card games or Rogue-likes on the computer.

2 - Women on these sites are much more interested in finding a desperate, reasonably wealthy male who they can quickly scam into marrying, divorce after they cheat on their man, and live happily ever after with a large alimony payment in a house they don't pay for, driving cars they don't pay for, and all because the court system is biased towards women.

In the first case, you're a waste of effort; get off the site so that real people can use them for what they are meant for. The second case, you aspire to be merely a waste of effort, go back to your street corner.

I'll admit my dating situation is quasi-desperate. I refuse to go to bars, as I despise drunks, so my dating pool is practically non-existent. Work is pretty much all men or very old women, so that's out. Church is even older women. Coupled with a natural shyness and a growing amount of cynicism, I'm pretty much stuck with the gold diggers and fakes that populate the free sites. Forget the scam sites, that are nothing but fake profiles and bots trying to entice you to give them your credit card number.

It's not fully desperate, because I refuse to accept a drunken gold digger; I'll stay single. And it's looking more and more like that's the best option for a man to choose. Stay single, let the women fight over an increasingly small pool of willing victims.