Editorial – August 2018: Gameplay the geek way.

Hello everyone

For the past month, I’ve been fitting in some time playing the ‘Fortnite’ game, so you’re going to be short an article from me this month. As I suspect many of you are going to prefer lazing in the sun to heavy thinking I hope I did the right thing.

It also didn’t feel right playing the winter-based ‘Batman: Arkham Origins’ in the middle of the summer and it was getting a pain in the back trying to beat Bane. I was also curious to see how a competitor on-line with no bots game played like. All of the below is based on using the PC version, I have no idea how much this is like the other platforms that are out there.

I did set myself some criteria. I would learn purely by playing and not look up instructions or potential ‘cheats’ to get ahead, even if it did take a while to find how to customise the control settings. It quickly became obvious that it made sense to have the fire and run controls on the mouse. It took a while to learn how to keep full sprint without pressing the button. How people communicate using microphones with no hands hasn’t really bothered me although if I can spot the other team members in the landing area, I tend to give a quick courtesy, no bowing control here, than an emote dance as far as I can see, although it looks like some have found the control.

Likewise, I would not buy anything and rely purely on merit. I’ve got a few worthless things now but much of what you need can be got on landing. I quickly learnt to land on top of buildings, smash my way in and gather wood points on the way down to the weapons. Oddly, I’ve gone far without them from time to time providing I keep out of town areas. If you want to go up through the tiers quickly, ‘Fortnite’ is less about shooting opponents and more about surviving. Level 23, as I write this, with only 8 dead and clocked some 67 hours, tends to prove that as I’m top or near top of the leaderboards I’m doing something right. Oddly, if the list is to be believed, less than 20 have any significant scores.

For much of it, I’ve played in squad format and, providing you link up with the other 3 players on the dive down, it can be beneficial, especially if you need help regenerating after being shot if they are close enough without being shot yourself. I still haven’t quite got the hang of building things but getting there but standing guard while the rest of the team do does make sense. As who you get as team members varies, you really have no idea of their experience until you’re on the ground. You get in with an experienced team then your longevity is assured in the 20 minutes it takes to play, providing you live that long and keep in the eye of the storm. Those who don’t pay attention to the incoming storm have to be left although I’m not sure if other members of the team get extra points if I live longer or not. In the space of a month, I’ve been in teams that have come up second place and one in at the end even if I die at that point. In that respect, the game does teach co-operation.

Being shot by other teams tends to depend on luck. For the life of me, I haven’t always spotted how they can be so accurate at a distance unless they’ve upped their screen resolution really high. I’m only tried that today because my laptop have an independent videocard, against speed. It gives more shades but I’m not sure if that helps the game play. I do think there needs to be some adjustment to the targeting area as, being in third person, does work against targeting as I tend to aim with the gun more than with the sights which are much higher. I think, given the choice, I’d rather have a first person shooter or at least have the option here to be that way.

Even though the map has had an update this month, I’m carrying much of it in my head now and a lot of the time it’s only the change in teams that is making much difference. In that respect, I’m finding it remarkable that people can play hour after hour when I’m struggling after an hour to keep going and that’s only to raise my score for this editorial. If you are looking that way, target the quiet parts of the day. Oddly, pre-lunch and Friday afternoons seems to be the quietest. With fewer players, your chance of a higher score is better. If your team only reaches 3 members than there are even few playing so there’s less chance of being killed do get reduced. The game isn’t all about continual playing but choosing the right times. Being continually shot doesn’t raise your scores very quickly.

The odd thing is, though, is that I’m shown that I’m top of the leaderboard, in the top 6 and even in the top 3 for so few ‘deaths’. Either the scoreboards are fixed or there’s very few people reaching the final top 10 on a regular basis or killing doesn’t score very much or they get killed early. It is survival that is important.

It would be interesting to see if different teams would join up than attack which works against the game mantra but would you trust anyone to be that honest? If there is going to be any other development then the possibility of a lone or last player joining a team short of members should be a consideration than just being killed.

An odd thing this Friday night and today, there’s an announcement that there is a glitch and so there aen’t so many players so a great time to make up some extra points.

OK, this isn’t actually suppose to be a review of ‘Fortnite’, just laying down my credentials to say I’ve been playing the game and getting a grip of it. You’ve also got some insight into my thinking when playing blind. Now I’m not an addictive or an obsessive player. I can live within my own rules and, if I have to, stop and can do so. However, that does give me an edge of looking at other players and their desire to win. In fact, it’s very hard to tell the difference when you look at aviators unless their distinctive uniforms is the giveaway that they’ve been paying their way. Everyone appears to die the same way. Paying for other options doesn’t change that. They even say that in the store option.

I do tend to see obsessional play has more a need to belong to the herd and being part of the latest thing but unless you’re got a ‘friends’ orientated team, every play has been with other loners who are gone by the next game. Ultimately, it doesn’t make much difference who you play with as any team can be shot down.

However, tactics don’t just apply within the game but knowing when it’s the best time to play. If that applies to this game, then why wouldn’t it be true of other on-line computer games?

Then again, obsessional behaviour is called that for a reason and I suppose if it wasn’t ‘Fortnite’ then there would be something else to fill the void. I suppose the same even applied in the pre-computer age only there was less information about it back then. If anything, we see more common behaviour in the Internet age than we ever used to. Oddly, I’m finding there are less people like me or we don’t seem to bump into each other here. Are geeky loners really that rare now?

Any sort of computer game is out there for a little relaxation, not to play continually. I do think there is a need for a properly recognised pause button and even to get out of the game quickly. I think there is a way to do that, too, but haven’t spotted that command yet.

I do think all on-line computer games should have a pause after so many hours to allow players to rest. At least that would force the obsessional players to get a few hours sleep. It isn’t as though such things can’t be programmed in. There has to be some form of responsibility for all players. After all, it’s only a game and there’s a lot more that can be done on-line.


Thank you, take care, good night and co-operation shouldn’t be under-estimated.


Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

PS: I don’t know whether it was my switching up the graphics mode, but I then got error messages that would allow me to access the game. If that happens to you, go in through the Epic Games Launcher, select the cog next to the ‘Launch’ button and select ‘Verify’. It’ll take a few minutes to go from something like 97% to 100% but it will sort things out without having to resort to an uninstall and reinstall although you’ll still have to re-enter your email address and password. I down-graded the graphics level to be on the safe side. It works all right from Launcher or Fortnite direct.

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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