Don’t Be That Guy – Blackout Etiquette

Yes. Before you question one of my earlier articles on whether there is a ‘right way’ to play Blackout – I do realize that this might seem hypocritical. I promise you – it isn’t.

I stand by my belief that there is no right or wrong way to play Solo battle royale – do your thing, by all means. Camp your heart out or run through the world like Rambo – the world is yours Mr. Montana.

However, one thing needs to be covered right now and it will help make you a better teammate on all other modes of Blackout that aren’t Solo. First and foremost, you need to remember you are part of a team. Here are some tips for any of you that are either new to Blackout or want to have a better overall experience. This is especially important for those of you that join random teams in Quads or Duos.

Be Nice When You Jump Into The Game

There isn’t anything more annoying to a team than having one teammate come in talking smack or being rude. Blackout Quads and Duos is a great way to make new gaming friends and you should look at every match as an opportunity for this to happen. When you load up and arrive in the deployment screen give your team a friendly shoutout and ask where they’d like to drop. Something as simple as “Hey guys, how’s it going?” is one hell of a nice ice breaker. Keep in mind, you will depend on these teammates to pick you up if you get injured during the match – so, be cool to start and they will be more willing to run into the fight for you.

Keep Your Background Noise Down

We get it, you love your trap music and your children. Sometimes we can tell that they are in the same room and they are both cranked up to 11. Do everyone a favor and turn off your mic – it is just too difficult to mute individuals in Blackout and hearing your music or daily banter is the last thing any of your teammates want or need in their ears.

Death Stash Goes To The Guy With The Kill

The ultimate disrespect to your teammates is raiding the death stash of the opponent they killed without their go-ahead. While I think most of us have committed this cardinal sin – it is something I feel needs to be talked about. This is especially true if a teammate comes to your aid and takes out an opponent that has you pinned down. If you manage to run away from the fight and your teammate pulls off the clutch kill for you make sure you ask if they want something in particular out of the bag – especially level three armor.

You will find that more often than not your teammate will tell you to go ahead and take a look. However, if this happens at the beginning of a match it is better for you to let them have first dibs. They are just as thin on ammo, weapons, and equipment as you – maybe even worse off than you. So, do everyone a favor and just ask before you go and raid a bag from the kill of a teammate. There is nothing more dickish than running away from a fight and letting your team do all the work only for you to run back after the fray to vulture all the goods. So, if you want it broken down to be that simple – don’t be a dick. Oh, and also – if you do that to someone that finds it to be insulting – don’t be shocked if they team kill you for the sake of righteousness.

Don’t Hoard Trauma Kits, Sensor Darts, Barricades, Attachments

One thing a lot of noobs don’t realize is that one player can only deploy one Sensor Dart or Barricade at a time. So, having three of each in your inventory won’t help your team as much as each person having one of each towards the end of a game. If you can strategically distribute and use these pieces of equipment your team will be in great position to win.

In the same breath, please don’t take all the Trauma Kits and hold them while your teammates are looking for health throughout the map. A team with 200 HP across the board is far better off than 150 or less for three teammates and you with 200 and four Trauma Kits. Seriously, offer these to your teammates – they will return the favor in the future.

Go ahead and pick up all the attachments you need for your weapons. However, if you have a few pieces in your inventory that you have no use for give them to a teammate or drop them. You are literally wasting space if you hold onto attachments you don’t plan on using. Let those things go and grab all the grenades and throwables – that’s where the winning happens.

Tell Your Team Where You’re Going

If you haven’t found any loot to start a match and you go away from your team to explore another building, etc. Do the decent thing and just tell them ‘Hey, I need to check this place out. I have no health and no gun.’. Also, if someone else is in this situation, make it a point to go with them if they are empty handed – be a good teammate, ya know?

Call Out Locations of Enemies

Keep in mind that the number locator is great for pointing out an enemy if you are right next to your team. The flipside is that it might not be the same if you are separated from your team. Use the North, South, East and West function as well as calling out the place you see enemies.

“They are over here!” is no way to get anyone to help you out.

“They are on my right side, up the hill, behind the rock.” is a much better callout.

As you play Blackout more often you will learn the sounds and firing rates of certain weapons. If you can figure that out it will help your team even more. Don’t be afraid of calling out an enemy if you hear them as well – that is a life saver for your team in close quarters.

Madden NFL Is The Perfect Simulation of NFL Officiating

After watching the lowlights of Championship Weekend in the NFL just a few days ago I realized that we have been neglecting proper credit for the programming of the officials in Madden NFL. One thing can be said when you take a look at the penalty sliders in Madden – they are right on the money.

As someone that hasn’t booted up and played through a full game of our only NFL football option on console or PC in over a month I felt almost nostalgic for it when that helmet to helmet epic pass interference penalty wasn’t called or reviewed. It was like playing a big game in Madden (as big as those can feel, I guess) and having your own player get throttled in the same way. If you really want to see broken pass interference you should look at it on the offensive side of the ball – oh boy, that is some good simulation football right there.

Madden has been trying desperately to push their marketing through Twitter with all sorts of shout-outs and retweets of all things Madden. This includes NFL WR, Torrey Smith scoring 100+ points on his kid. Sure, we have probably all scored over 100 in Madden at some point on rookie. Sure, this is all in good fun and I don’t begrudge someone for playing the game however the hell they want to. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Madden is not improving or playing in the way it would be if it had competition – yes, it always comes back to that.

The officials in the NFL have been exceptionally bad this year. So bad in fact, that I think many fans have decided to stop watching NFL football in general. This was actually the first year in some time that I didn’t sit down and watch most of the playoff games. I don’t know how interested I will be in the Super Bowl as it is once again another appearance by Tom Brady playing against a team that seemingly was in the plans for the Super Bowl before the NFC Championship took place.

I’m not saying the NFL is fixed. I am saying the NFL IS FIXED. The same can almost be said for Madden in that MADDEN NEEDS FIXED.

Flag on the play! Too many complaints on the webpage.

Well, I guess I saw that coming.

She Got Game – Where The Hell Are The Female Pro Gamers?

Raise your hand if you have heard of Lisa Lane.

For those of you that raised your hand thinking that I meant to type Lois Lane – you can put your hand down and rest assured that I meant Lisa.

Lisa Lane is now 80 years old and she is better than you at chess.

Lisa Lane was also a mystery to me up until yesterday when I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated while I was at my local gym trying to fight off the symptoms of my mid-30’s. Ms. Lane was among the top chess players in the world back in the 1960’s. Not only was she among the best in the world, she was the first chess player to make the cover of SI – yes, before Bobby Fischer. While still at the top of her game she quit playing chess competitively in the late 1960’s. Among the reasons she stopped playing and left public life was the fact that women were in a similar position that they are still in today – being paid less for equal work. Read the article on Ms. Lane, here.

The subject of equal opportunity and equal pay for women is still a major issue almost 60 years later. The evidence is damning and it should piss you off when you see it. Another article came out on January 3 talking about the pay for Washington Wizards Assistant Coach, Kristi Toliver who is also a player in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics (WNBA players make next to nothing when compared to NBA players).  Keep in mind that NBA Assistant Coaches make $100k+ annually as you continue reading.

Coach Toliver in action

Ms. Toliver makes $10,000 a year as an assistant with the Wizards. That isn’t a typo either. For more on this situation, check out the article here.

The ugly reality of women being mistreated and cheated out of jobs and equal pay as well as their rightful place among their peers is glaring and this is possibly most true in the gaming community. I am among the many that would fail if challenged to name one non-male professional gamer for any video game or platform. Go one more step if you will and find one that doesn’t use sex appeal to further their brand. That list you were making from a google search just went back down to zero.

Most gamers out there can name a few of the big names (Shroud, Ninja, Fatal1ty, etc.). It has struck me on many levels how dire the situation is when it comes to non-males in every other avenue of career. Take the US military stance on women in combat and ask yourself if you really think it’s a good idea to tell over half of the population that they aren’t qualified to protect their nation in a combat role if needed because of their genitals or assumed ‘lack of strength’. Yes, it is as stupid as I make it sound. The situation itself is infuriating if you actually think about it with a critical mind.

So, the question persists in other realms that don’t require such ‘macho’ tasks as lifting heavy things or throwing a ball far through the air (yes, I am rolling my eyes as I type this). Maybe one answer to why we don’t see non-males in professional gaming can be found by simply logging in and playing in an open lobby of Call of Duty. By the time a woman starts talking on her microphone you can almost guarantee that you will hear some jackass come out of the digital woodwork and say something disgusting or rude to her. Nine times out of ten, the verbal abuse will be unprovoked – it gets downright nasty and will reach a point that the woman simply leaves the game if she hasn’t muted the entire lobby itself. It’s no wonder non-males aren’t more prevalent in pro gaming (let alone casual gaming) when you see the nature of many of the bro-tastic gamers out there – if I were a woman, I’d be hard pressed to use my microphone in a public lobby and just kick some ass anonymously.

What makes this worse? There are some badass gamers out there that happen to be non-male. Why aren’t they more popular or marketed on pro teams or streams? The article about Lisa Lane isn’t just a story from the past – it is a reference point for the exact same issue that is happening with women in gaming (and everywhere else) in the present (just ask Kristi Toliver).

So, how do we fix this? With most other aspects of life and changing the societal structure to be fair for all people we need the efforts to happen from the top down. This doesn’t simply mean making a token change to a minor role – it means making for a level playing field in all aspects of sports, gaming, and workplaces altogether. It is my hope that I can be a voice of reason and start making the change that I’d like to see in the world.

So, if you are non-male and want to kick some ass on a Call of Duty squad (or almost any other game) and you see Outspoknpoet in your lobby send me an invite because when it comes to kicking some digital ass on my PS4 I don’t care who is on my team as long as they kick some ass too!

The One Thing Your Console Is Missing – Extended Storage

It seems like every year around the holidays most of us come into a little bit of money to spend on ourselves. This year I found myself thinking about the different games I wanted for my PS4 and was coming up short – which isn’t really a bad feeling to have when you start thinking that you have all the games you need (in my case, more than I need). The problem I faced was not having all of them accessible at any given moment.

This was perhaps one of the most short-sighted flubs of this generation of consoles. The thought that 500 GB wouldn’t be enough space for all of your games back during the 360 and PS3 would have been preposterous. However, with the installation and patches required on the PS4 and XBox One – it turns out that 500GB is basically the equivalent of the stock 20 GB HDD on the XBox 360 – maybe even worse.

If you are fortunate to have bought Red Dead Redemption 2 you might notice that it alone takes up over 100 GB. One game… 100+ GB. Couple that with the fact that I have been playing a lot of Black Ops 4 and wanted to keep Grand Theft Auto V on my console – there was no space for any other game.

I took the plunge and bought the 2 TB Extended Storage on Amazon (Western Digital). Not only was it a simple plug-in of the USB (no need for an outlet to power the drive!) it just needed a simple format (the instructions were super easy to follow) and it took all of 10 seconds. Suddenly, I was granted this new gift of space and started downloading and installing all of my games. I managed to put over 20 games on my extended storage and still have room for more.

If there is one thing you can add to your console gaming situation it would be a 2 TB extended storage. The only question you will ask is why you didn’t do this sooner.

Accessibility – The Game Changer We Should All Want

I was playing Blackout Duos with one of my friends the other day.  We were having a good time going through the map (even without finding any armor WHATSOEVER!!!! ARRRRRGH!!!).  As we were advancing towards the border of the first circle I said I could hear an enemy vehicle coming from the left side of our advance.  I expected him to say that he heard it as well.  Only, he didn’t hear it at all.

I learned at that moment that one of my gaming friends was deaf in his left ear and it didn’t make me think any less of him – but it did change our tactics for the rest of the match and from that point forward.  I didn’t really make a big deal about it, but I did suggest that I could take the left side of our tiny formation at that point.  He agreed that it would be a good idea and we moved on – it was that simple.

I haven’t been able to shake that experience over the last few days.  As a former teacher I had to take into account all sorts of learning disabilities and different general learning styles.  One of the biggest aspects of allowing all students the same opportunities to learn in a classroom is access above all other things (this also goes hand-in-hand with what those in education call full-inclusion).  If you went to public school during the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s you might remember a lot of classmates being pulled from class in order to get assistance with their schoolwork in any number of subjects.  They might have had dyslexia or some other issue that simply meant they needed extra help to stay with the class or at least accomplish the same requirements of others.  I never liked the idea of removing students from the classroom when I was a student and I certainly didn’t like it as a teacher.  While there are some aspects that might require occasional departures from the class, most students with disabilities want to be with their classmates.  This is the same case with gaming… except, there isn’t an opportunity for those with disabilities to seek access to games where they aren’t at what we could consider a competitive disadvantage.

That’s where our assumptions still get us in trouble.  The idea that someone needs special treatment in order to succeed in gaming is the complete opposite of what needs to happen.  How you treat your fellow gamer has nothing to do with their mental or physical capabilities.  You treat them like any other friend or family member.  The one aspect you might start demanding is for developers (both hardware and software) to consider making changes and modifications to controllers, sound mixing, and other aspects that move everyone closer to full-inclusion.

Microsoft has a great commercial that focuses on access being something that allows ALL gamers to play the same games and support each other.  

This video pulled at my heartstrings.  Pretty sure that was the idea.

The other reason every gamer should be demanding changes and modifications to games, hardware, and peripherals (controllers, etc.) is because it will not only open the games we love to play to those with disabilities, but it will continue to drive further innovation in ways we might not even consider.  We continue to see so many amazing changes in technology at a pace that is difficult to grasp – it’s only a matter of time before we will be able to play games with our friends that can’t grasp a controller in the first place.  Actually, nevermind… there are already people that are finding a way to wreck on Blackout without actually being able to hold the controller.

Don’t forget the value of opening your mind a little bit.  You might actually like what happens when you come to better understand the needs of others.  

Here are a couple websites for you to check out if you want to dive a bit deeper into helping fellow gamers.

Able Gamers –
People with disabilities wants the same thing that all gamers want, to have fun with their friends, and family. There are so many challenges that come with living with a disability, social isolation, is one of them. Video games are unique in that we ALL use them to excape our days, and join our friends, and total strangers in a quest to win. That is where AbleGamers comes in.https://ablegamers.org/

StackUp –
Founded in 2015, Stack Up brings both veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming through our primary programs: The StacksSupply CratesAir Assaults and the Stack Up Overwatch Program [StOP].https://stackup.org/

All I Want For Madden Christmas Is A Smarter CPU… And A Better Franchise Mode

I try my best to enjoy playing Madden every year.  As much as I gripe about the game every year in one way or another I truly go into each iteration with high hopes only to have them dashed by the time I get into my Franchise Mode.

I tried to play with the Bills on All-Madden after winning the Super Bowl with the Browns on All-Pro in the first season.  It was the same old story – All-Madden is artificially difficult while All-Pro wants to be challenging, it is still hamstrung with the same problems.  The CPU doesn’t adjust to certain plays being called on succession (HB Toss plays from a Twin WR set will almost always get you 7+ Yards if the CPU is in Man Coverage, for instance.).  Money plays are alive and well – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The other issue that plagues this game is the idiotic Free Agency process and logic of the CPU.  After the latest update you will see that LeVeon Bell becomes a free agent (which is nice), but then I see him get signed by the Cardinals… the same Cardinals that already have David Johnson.  I rolled my eyes when I saw the signing during this latest run with the Browns (I used the Cloud Franchise to start my season in Week 12 or so).  It doesn’t stop there, unfortunately.

By the time the draft comes around and after I see Bell get signed by the Cardinals the idiocy continues in the draft.  I am convinced that the CPU is programmed to look at your Draft Board and make picks that will push you to take certain players earlier than you should if you want them.  While I enjoy the idea of this at face value I am also annoyed by the relative troll mentality.

Furthermore, Franchise Mode continues to gut the experience and immersion that should be the primary focus of the mode itself.  There is no living breathing league for you to enjoy – its as stale as the cereal at your grandparents’ house.  The ‘News’ section is hidden in the depths of the CFM menu and it’s basically a bunch of crappy tweets from Captain Obvious with a few half-assed tips about the draft class.  I don’t understand how this mode continues to be included in the game if they obviously don’t care about it from the revenue perspective.  The effort all goes into Ultimate Team and the cash cow that it has become.

Madden continues to be the distant second place in sports games for me as MLB The Show maintains a clear advantage in consistent efforts to improve.  Both games are going towards the Ultimate Team/Diamond Dynasty slippery slope, but I still have hope that Franchise Mode will become what I have dreamed for over the years.  I doubt I will get this for Christmas… but I can always hope.

Madden Needs A Coaching Carousel

The biggest aspect that seems to be missing from Madden that was one of the most enjoyable aspects in NCAA Football for years is a coaching carousel.  Throughout the year without fail all sorts of coaches meet their doom.  Whether it is on Black Monday after the final week of the regular season, or just after the halfway point of the season as we saw with Hue Jackson this week (THANK YOU, FOOTBALL GOD!).

carousel

Madden NFL needs to add two aspects to their Franchise Mode if they hope to continue building it up.  They need to bring in offensive and defensive coordinators as well as position coaches (some of these can even be fictionalized).  Once you bring this aspect into the game it can more easily flow into opening up a coaching carousel like that in the NCAA Football games of yore.

Imagine opening your career as an offensive or defensive coordinator and building your resume after a year or two.  Maybe you can take the Bills or 49ers defense from the depths of terribad and build them into a beast with your amazing skills.  The unfortunate aspect is that your team is doing poorly and the head coach gets fired in week 12.  Suddenly, the ownership wants to bring you up a notch to coach the team and make the big decision on both sides of the ball and determine the depth chart in full.  As you make a splash to finish the season with a few wins you might not want to stick with the team you’ve been struggling with.  The end of the season comes and the Jaguars have finished a lackluster campaign and you are now their number one target.  What do they have to offer you outside of a great defense and some weapons on offense (that aren’t named Bortles… *shudders*).  That would be pretty awesome.  What would make it better?

I think the next step in making it an experience to build multiple seasons and truly view it as a career mode would be making the role of General Manager something you have to earn.  Instead of being the owner, GM, and coach from the get-go, you should be given different offers from different teams as you play through your career.  One of those options should be GM/Coach offers (much like what Belichick does and some other coaches have done in some cases).  You would pay so much more attention to the draft if you weren’t put in charge of the scouting as just a head coach that had to take the players you got… or deal with players being traded.

Until that day comes, we will have to continue to create and maintain house rules to make our career mode more interesting.

Do you have other ideas for franchise mode?  Hit up the comment button to share!