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Team Fortress 2: The TENTH CLASS REVEALED--or not.

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Every so often on the TF2 forums, someone suggests that a class will be added to the game--the so-called "Tenth Class." Sometimes this is some sort of Robot, Pirate, Zombie, or Evil Scientist, or even a Priate Zombie Scientist who is also a robot.

Often the tenth class is Gordon Freeman, the hero of the Half Life Franchise. This really doesn't work in my opinon, since HL and HL2 are such grim games, and TF2 really can't be taken seriously. You have to make TF2 a litle more grim and HL2 a little sillier to force it to work. I started out making a video that attempted to do this, with the G-man pulling Freeman into the TF2 universe as the tenth class. In the process, I came up with a better idea. :D

This is my first Machinima posted to YouTube. Hope you like it!  - The Black Knight

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Confessions of an Idler

One of these days, you may hop on the 24/7 Freelancer Universe server, to find the Battleship Rook floating outside Freeport 10. You might think the captain is taking a nap in the ready room, while the rest of the bridge crew relaxed in the bar, because it won’t answer when you call.

Or you might see me on Steam ([bass]-TheBlackKnight). For some reason you can’t join me while I play Team Fortress 2; nor am I answering your chat requests.

Don’t worry dear reader. I’m not ignoring you. Odds are I’m simply not there.

The reason is simple: I am an Idler.

Yes, I’m one of THOSE people.

I will start a game, and walk away.

Right now most people are wondeirng what the big deal is about this, while the rest are screaming something to the effect that my parents were never married. To the former, let me explain the situation.

On many multiplayer games you need to play a certain amount to keep your characters. Obviously game servers can’t keep the information of people who have played the game once and walked away, or have given up the game altoghether. This is true of Freelancer. On the 24/7 FLU server, you have to put 15 minutes on each character roughly every three weeks.

That doesn’t sound like much, and really it isn’t for the average player. However, I’m a clan leader, and I’m predisposed to having a large fleet of ships. Including clan shared accounts, I usually run about 10 accounts for about 50 ships. That’s 12.5 hours of game time every three weeks, which is more than I can usually put together. (Yes, in theory the other clan members can help with this, but when things get slow, losing ships doesn’t help matters.)

To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you look at things) I’m really busy in real life right now with shutamultimedia.com, baseandsystemservices.com, darntootinitaintgluten.com, talesoftheblackknight.com, writing the Tales of the Black Knight, and posting video to at least 5 youtube channels (Check out this and the other channels listed)not to metion actual work for clients.

Twelve and a half hours starts to look like a lot. Actually I haven’t even idled on FLU in the last couple months, though I really miss the game and want to at LEAST make sure my ships are up to date.

Then there’s TF2. This is where a lot of the rage comes in. On TF2, they’ve set it up so that every so often while you’re playing the game, you get a random item drop. It could be a weapon, a hat, or a crate (that you need to buy a key for) up to a maximum of 6-12 per week. (The crates don’t count against the cap I’m told.

And, if you get multiples of the same weapon, you can craft them into metal, which when you get enough metal, you can make different weapons or hats.

As a side note, up until recently, the hats were strictly decorations. Now they’ve created “sets” like they used to have in games like Diablo II, where if you have all the pieces including the hat, you get bounses like extra health or invulnerablity to headshots. Of course to create one of these hats you need over 70 weapon drops. Considering the weapon drop averages about 1 and hour, and is capped at usually 6 per week, and you can see that this takes some time.

Before they instituted the drop cap, people would just run TF2 all the time, in “idle servers” which wouldn’t kick you for standing around, or that would hurt you constantly so that you wouldn’t register as being inactive. Some people came up with a program that faked the system out so that it merely “looked” like you were playing to steam.

Eventually, everyone who used this lost their items, and the ones who didn’t use it got a nifty hat called the “Cheater’s Lament.” It’s a halo which actually makes you a much better target for snipers, and which has been re-skinned on some servers to cuss words. Few people use the Cheater’s Lament, though I wear it on my Spy character in honor of Roger Moore’s TV Character “The Saint.”

Yes, I’m an idler with a Cheater’s Lament.

How to idle on TF2 now? They’ve added an offline practice mode. If you start up offline practice, and go into spectator mode, you still get the drops. Problem solved as far as servers full of idlers go, but people still rage about it. Many people say that these are moslty kids whose parents won’t let them run the computer overnight, but many are simply hardcore gamers who think everything should be earned during actual gameplay. If you’re not actually dedicated to playing the game for several hours a week, you shouldn’t earn the bonuses.

The obvious response is, “Wait, did you say dedicated to playing?”

There are a lot of things which inspire dedication; Religion, Family, The Defense of the Nation, even one’s chosen profession. But dedication to gaming strikes me as, well, missing the point of the game.

The idea is to have fun. If leaving my computer on while I work, sleep or run errands allows me to keep my characters or gain items to help me play the game, I’ll do that for certain.

More to the point, any game that says I must NOT idle, and that I must PLAY a minimum amount per month, is trying to dictate my schedule for me. And those games will find themselves quickly abandoned. I have to prioritize things. Really, idling is a compromize in and of itself. “Look, I can’t play this month, but I really like my ships. Can I just leave ‘em sit for a while outside of a planet or moon, so that they’ll be there when I get back?” Or “It’s a busy month, but I’m saving up for that Fez for the spy.” These are compromises. I’d rather not idle, but I want to be able to play when I am actually able to play.

So folks, don’t feel bad if I don’t answer you, or rage about the practice of idling. I’m pushing forty. Even though I love the games, sometimes I’ve got stuff to do. In [bass] we always said that RL (Real Life) must always trump FL (Freelancer) when it came to organized events. Perahps we should update that saying to “RL must always trump GL—Game Life.”

- The Black Knight, December 3, 2010

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Welcome to the Blog of the Black Knight

Greetings! Here it is! The first edition of The Blog of the Black Knight, posted on 10/10/10 just because it’s kind of cool to see that date come up.

This Blog is going to be primarily about video games; it’s a broader topic than what it would have been if I had started writing it a few months ago, let me tell you.

As is well documented elsewhere on this site, [bass] started out as a Microsoft Freelancer clan founded by a bass player, who walked away from it. After a while, later leadership (including yours truly) came up with the name Base and System Services name to fill in the acronym. (I’m pretty sure that was one of my suggestions, but I’ll give Fleggy his due. We did hash it back and forth a lot. If he hadn’t committed either virtual or literal suicide, we’d be able to talk about it. For now we’ll go with my guesses on that, because that’s all we’ve got.)

As a video game clan it is and will always be considered a success. It has been in existence since 2004, and there are still people wearing the tags. We owned a large chunk of the GetOnIt Server map when it shut down. As a wing of the Sentinels on the 24/7 Freelancer Universe, we were the most active players in the clan, and have recently re-emerged from [Sent] to be a clan again.

Plus the tag is worn in more than one game, and has recently become a Steam Group. (Contact me using the contact form on your right to join. It’s not an open group—[bass] has always been selective about who it allows to wear the tag, and I plan to keep it that way.)

As they say though, “The times they are a changing.” Right now there are only two members who I would say are actively playing Freelancer—myself and Mr. Bonkers. As the TF2 heavy would say, “Not big surprise.” The game itself is seven years old, and the members of this clan have been playing it heavily for years. At the time when the game was most popular, we had one to three hour system battles every weekend—eight fighters on eight fighters, best of three. The fact that we didn’t burn out sooner is a testament to the game.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is still great, and I still play it. I still intend to try to maintain “Clan Status” with it. One truth, however, is to maintain a clan for a long time, you need constant recruitment. If you look at the list of names on the bass forums, you’ll see a lot of people have come through this clan.

And that’s all well and good, but at this point, I’d like something more. I’ve befriended a lot of those people over the years, and as FL becomes less important, we now only have a history of game play to tie us together as friends. I think we can do better than that.

We all do still have one thing in common. We are gamers. We like video games, and are interested in just about all of them on one level or another.

Thus I am presently working on updating and revamping the [bass] website, as well as the status of [bass]. The site will reflect our status as the [bass]Gaming Community.

Members can wear the tag in whatever game they choose, and the [bass] website and forum will be a way for us to stay connected. I’m also going to add Facebook and Twitter pages, and I already have a [bass]-TheBlackKnight YouTube Channel. It would be interesting if we could get a [bass] network on YouTube going of members with YouTube accounts.

I’ve got my work cut out for me as far as updating everything. As you can see, there is a screening room for (mostly) video game related YouTube Videos. I’ve already loaded classics like the GMod Idiot Box series and the “Meet the Team” TF2 Videos, as well as videos produced by GOI veterans such as Phill Cassidy, Tommy, Viper, and Tidus97. Links to their YouTube accounts will be available when I update the site theme. The largest part of this will be a massive GMod effort; I don’t want to reveal too much about the new header pic, except to say it will span many different games.

Then there is this blog, which will generally focus on video games, but just like the screening room, I’m going to limit myself only by what I think you will find interesting, using video games as the primary focus. (I don’t plan to stray often, if ever, but I’m leaving the door cracked, if not wide open for other topics.)

After all is said and done, I hope I will have found a way to keep [bass] relevant to its members, and to the gaming community at large.

That is the goal.

- The Black Knight October 10, 2010

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