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Bloodborne PS4 Steampunk Game PDF Print
(2 votes)

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Horrific, fantastic, superb architecture, visually amazing, utterly involving, depressing, don't watch this if you are young, easily upset by scenes of horror. Appallingly negative storyline with a visualisation that sucks you in regardless. The man whounderpinned the creation of this game is a genius. Watch at your peril. Children, do NOT watch, do not take part. LEaVe noW.   

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 June 2015 )
 
WILD The Eve of the War PDF Print
(4 votes)

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A combination of very attractive girls, long hair, short costumes, War of the Worlds, Jeff Wayne's music, steampunk and superb performances, what is there not to like? I often post a musical interlude here just for the sake of it and in this case I could not resist.

 
Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 June 2015 )
 
Eye of the Storm by Lovett PDF Print
(7 votes)

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The following video has been around for some time but it is rather good so it is worth putting here. Very moody but visually enchanting the imagery works well with the music, in fact the two would be far less without each other. I do hope you find this musically appealing.

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 June 2015 )
 
New widgets for Christmas PDF Print
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Hopefully soon I'll have some new/updated widgets for you. My old Yahoo CPU/GPU Thermometer Widget is being updated..

Some new graphics and new functionality including working graph and new use for the gauges. Updating and improving the Yahoo widget now and then will start to convert it to an Xwidget.



This was the second widget that I created and it was little rushed in parts and as a result I probably didn't think it through enough. It was still a lovely functioning widget though which has sat on my desktop doing its job well. The current version shows up to four sensors and displays a running graph of two of them. When I have the new version rewritten and updated I will have the thing in my head and I'll be confident to translate it to the Xwidget engine.

Whilst I am working on the CPU/GPU Thermometer Widget for Yahoo/Xwidget engines occasionally an idea comes to mind and if it is worth pursuing then a dalliance is allowed. In this frame of mind I have opened an old icon PSD file that I had earlier created and have organised it so that it can be made into a widget. The idea is that each drawer on the filing cabinet can be hovered over or clicked upon and the drawer will open and inform you which folder each drawer refers to. A double click will open the respective folder. Think of it as a replacement for Explorer, a steampunk version of a file explorer.
 
 

The gauge may display CPU as an aside and the bulbs on the top will glow according to the network adapters that are present in the system, glowing in strength according to the signal each adapter receives. Ethernet adapters being permanently connected will glow brightly whilst wireless adapters may glow dimly. That's it, just a germ of an idea at the moment but I have knocked up the initial widget and it sits on my desktop as I write this.

For the Christmas season I have revamped my Christmas Bauble widgets. The first version was a set of 10 individual widgets, each of which showed a different Christmas image. That was it, nothing special.

The next revamped version acts more like an old-style advent calendar. The advent season encompasses the time from the first four Sundays before Christmas up to Christmas Day. Those old-style Advent calendars allow you to open a little door that shows a different Christmas scene every day. My new baubles will allow that too.

christmas_bauble_widgets.jpg

Instead of multiple widgets each showing a different bauble there will be just one widget showing multiple baubles that can still be moved around individually on the desktop. Each bauble has a door that can be opened when clicked upon but only when the appropriate date is reached. Each door has a musical surprise contained within. It is really rather Christmassy and very pleasant to use. Each bauble can be individually resized too.

So what do I have to do to complete it? Add ten existing bauble images, find thirteen more appropriate bauble images, create twenty-three glass doors in open and closed states. Find twenty-five musical elements and convert them for use in the widget. Add the resizing code, test and tidy up. Package and distribute. A fair bit!

Need to do it before 30th November which is the first day of Advent.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 June 2015 )
 
World of Tanks - Is The Matchmaker Rigged? PDF Print
(75 votes)

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So to answer that question, World of Tanks - is the matchmaker rigged? Well, I can't actually answer that question as I have no access to Wargaming.net's code that defines what the MatchMaker does and how it does it. There is no published and impartial definition of what the MatchMaker is actually doing. Wargaming has given out ideas and hints as to how it operates (RNG, random) but if you've played the game for several thousand games (and if you are an observant person) it should start to become clear as to how the matchmaker really achieves its aims...

join-the-tank-corps-128.png

I maintain that the Matchmaker is consistent. It consistently controls your win rate by the simple expedient of dropping you into games with more noobs (noob = new player), placing your tank in a non-preferential side of the map or alternatively by placing your tank in a game with more highly skilled opponents. This is all conjecture until you use one or more of the statistical analysis sites that have sprung up with World of Tanks that have access to WoT's historical data. These sites allow you to view graphs based upon various performance metrics and it will soon become apparent that your win rate is controlled.

Who am I to propose this analysis of World of Tanks? I am neither a noob or a unicum (expert player). I have played 14,000 or so battles in exclusively low tier (sub tier 6) light and heavy tanks. Unlike most WoT players I play one type of tank consistently, I don't jump from nation to nation, tank to tank and I do not play the best, most highly successful tanks. My overall win rate is 55.5% and climbing (over time) consistently but slowly. My win rate fluctuates from 65-70% to 45%.  I play WoT on an 8 year old laptop with a 2.5ghz core2duo cpu and a 256mb Nvida 8400m GPU. It maintains a frame rate of a mere 19-25fps so it should be clear that I have limitations imposed upon me by playing on hardware that is far from being optimised. I am not a dedicated gamer but I enjoy playing WoT.

My analysis must be taken in this context.

-oOo-

Win Rate:

The first time you will start to ask yourself questions as to whether the MM is rigged or not is when you find yourself playing losing battles for extended periods of time - ask yourself these additional questions:

o  Why do you  lose consistently (for tens or hundreds of games) at a rate that is the ALWAYS the inverse of your previous winning rate (eg. 40%  vs 60%)
o  Why does this occur when you reach a win rate of 50%, 55% or some other arbitrary limit?
o  Why does win rate suppression stop suddenly and subsequently improve meteorically at 60% WR for an equal period?
o  Why are so many players experiencing this?
o  Why does this up/down oscillation in win rate occur against a measurable background using other metrics that improve gradually over time?
o  Why does Wargaming have a patent that describes exactly these sort of methods for "putting down" players that reach a pre-determined level of win rate?

If these questions seem familiar to your experience of playing the game then this articles serves the purpose of stating for the record what many have experienced.

I'll give you a typical short term example: Playing in the Crusader with four skilled 2,500 game crew, I can play consistently with a WN8 of 2,700 (unicum) and an 80% win rate - this can go on for 60 games for a few days. Then suddenly after a log-out and re-login to WoT the next day, the win rate drops to 38% as my team (and myself) are all killed within 2 and half mins in every game for the next 60-70 games. Logging into another account on another server and my win rate is restored!  

A chart from wotstats that shows win rate being suppressed

Fig1. If your WN8 and kill/death ratio are rising continuously and you see a win ratio like the above then perhaps you are being nerfed !

 

-oOo-

My analysis:

One of the covenantor tanks that I used in the analysis

For my analysis I used the website noobmeter.com to view the data provided by Wargaming.net. I played the British Cruiser MKIII and MkIV tanks consistently for approx 1,000 games at a time (I believe that playing lots of tanks of different types/nationalities as most people do, obscures the cycling effect from showing on a personal win rate graph). I switched between the two tanks almost consistently for 8,000 games. When it seemed that my win rate was being suppressed I then abandoned one tank and switched to another to see if it would occur there too. I did this analysis specifically to see if these cycles of win/loss were consistent and were caused by something within or without of my control. When the downturn occurred I tried beating it with all the tricks at my disposal, using premium rounds and doing all I could to optimise my game play. On occasion I deviated from these two tanks to alleviate the boredom but still the cycling persisted. The tanks I used in their stead were also low tier British Cruisers... Covenantor and Crusader.

Note: this is not a statistical analysis, this is an observational analysis based upon gameplay and experience and observing the statistics as provided by noobmeter, wotstats and wotlabs.

I chose low tier as I should be able to make a much bigger influence on the outcome given that my three skill crews in a couple of brawler tanks should be able to consistently cause more wins. It isn't what I found.

Regardless of any improvement in my own play (or changing between these two tanks)  I found I was bouncing between two win rate thresholds, the upper limit that I battled to break was 55.10%. I would be playing consistently at a current 65% WR for several hundred games and then as soon as the upper threshold was reached the suppression of my win rate would start. The drop in my win rate could not be stopped, better gameplay on my part would simply slow or extend the drop for hundreds of games until the lower threshold was reached. During the period of downturn it seemed as if the majority of the teams I was inserted into were consistently losing teams. On the upward swing the opposite, all winning teams seemed to be on my side providing a consistent WR of 65%.

I could not account for this behaviour in my own mood swings, skill levels &c as my Win8/7 ratings all climbed consistently during the periods of continual loss. It was only the win rate that swung wildly.
 

Result: My analysis of playing WoT in version 0.8.5 - 0.8.11 seemed to confirm that the MM has an arbitrary win 'limit' set in % that seems to be defined by tier or type of tank.  My win rate turned out to be 55.10%. When I reached that limit all subsequent teams were  losses until a lower threshold was reached. This caused a cycling effect of wins followed by losses. The aim seems to be to keep a player within a narrow win-ratio band.

Now imagine that my chosen tank(s) will  have lost consistently for eight hundred games in a row achieving a win rate of only 45% - As I am only one player in a team of fifteen I assumed that I personally cannot have had that much effect on the overall win rate of my teams, if I had been playing consistently badly I could have contributed to the loss of one or two games perhaps but not consistently for hundreds of games, my ego isn't that big - I am not that important in the scheme of things. To lose so consistently I have to assume it must be an external influence on the teams I have participated in (especially so if all other metrics are improving).

Graph showing the cycling effect on win rate

Fig 2. The graph above showing the cycling effect on win rate (created from two graphs).

See the massive troughs of thousands of games losing/winning, losing at 40% and then winning at 60%. Statistically it does not make sense that I could lose consistently like that as my gameplay and style simply does not change.

Note:- In the graph above (Fig 2.) the peaks and troughs were originally much sharper and more defined. WoT has a habit of modifying the historical data that is provided to 3rd party sites such as Noobmeter.com, in particular removing the peaks and troughs and smoothing out the graphs. If you analyse the same data from WoT in noobmeter today (Fig 3.) the peak and trough that occurred at 4,400 games has been completely removed from the data... which makes no sense. It is as if the historical data has been deliberately massaged to remove the absolute peaks. Look at the graphs in the two examples above and below, see the dramatic fall at approximately 4,400 battles, in the later version below, that whole cycle of 500 games has simply been removed. The peak did occur and the only way to know it has occurred is for you (or myself in this case) to retain your own data or the graph for later analysis. I have maintained my own copies of the graph since I noticed this medium-term smoothing of the data.

Since the final flattening out of the data (from 8,100 games onward) the changes have been:

1. I have focussed on playing tier III/IV mid-tier cruiser tanks.
2. WoT 0.9 has been released.

In the above graph you will note a change in the periodicity of the cycles at the point at which the 0.9.0 patch was released. The graph peaks have smoothed out considerably but the drop was still inexorably downhill. Either of the above two changes could have had the effect of removing the pronounced 'cycling' previously experienced in 0.8.nn. What seems to be the case is that since 0.9 the upper and lower thresholds seemed closer together higher but just as in 0.8.nn as soon as the upper threshold was reached gameplay became distinctly harder and losing teams were more regularly encountered - same as in the 0.8 series.

(Note for all the forum trolls: These graphs weren't made up, just taken straight from noobmeter as explained. If you want to disbelieve them, that's fine, simply do your own analysis before commenting.)

Other Metrics

The analysis of win rate does not take into account other metrics that also indicate performance independently. WoT has a performance rating that is calculated according to an algorithm owned by Wargaming.net. Two independent metrics are also maintained that supposedly give a more accurate estimate of your performance, they are WN7 and WN8, the latter being the most up to date. 

My supposition is that if my win rate is controlled solely by my ability to play well within the game, then my other performance metrics (average damage, no of kills, experience &c) should all fluctuate in synchronisation with the cycling win rate. However, this does not occur, indicating the cycling is clearly artificial. My performance as measured by all metrics including WIN7/8 are consistently climbing despite all the win rate peaks and troughs. In fact prior to the nerf starting my win rate consistently rose and rose until it reached 55.1% at approx 2,000 games then it simply stopped climbing and stayed just below 55.1% WR and then cycling up and down. That isn't statistically possible if the MM is even-handed. It can only be achieved by the match maker putting me against tougher opponents or simply put, dropping me into loser teams or manipulating the outcome of the battle in some other way.

 Graph showing other performance metrics and win rate

Fig 3. The other performance metrics showing a steady climb - (graph extracted from noobmeter, no modifications to the data other than adding my text and an average win rate over time)

On average the win rate graph does show an average climb (the blue line that I have drawn myself onto the win rate graph). That climb equates well to the other metrics showing that overall my win rate is improving consistently and inline with expectations. The trouble is the massive cycles up and down just should NOT be present unless they are artificially induced by the matchmaker. Remember, some of those troughs are six or seven hundred games long, that is far too long to play consistently losing matches. Conversely, in the upward climbs it seems as if I am playing like a 'god' with a 65-70% win rate, both are unbelievable.

This cycling only seems to show its head when you play one or two tanks consistently. With all statistical cycles if you have multiple sources it tends to flatten out to a curve when all the cycles are combined - as they occur at a different frequency. IF you want to replicate this analysis, simply play two tanks of the same type consistently for thousands of games, the cycling effect will then show. On the forums it seems to be known as the saw tooth effect. I like to call it cycling.

Wargaming's Intellectual Property.

Just as a reminder to all who see this thread, here's Wargaming's patent on the MatchMaker and how it operates, supporting observed behaviour:

matchmaker.png
"According to another aspect, the matchmaking server may store a win/loss percentage for each user (or vehicle) at a given battle level. As the player's win/loss ratio decreases, the player becomes more likely to be placed in battles having battle levels at the lower end of the allowable range, whereas as the player's win/loss ration increases, the player becomes more likely to be placed in battles having battle levels at the upper end of the allowable range. Thus, when a player has been repeatedly put into too many difficult battles, the balancing is done in favor of easier battle sessions, thereby encouraging the player by providing an easier game environment. Similarly, when the player has been repeatedly put into too many easy battles, the balancing is done in favor of harder battle sessions, thereby keeping the player challenged instead of letting the player become bored with easy games."

Link here:
http://www.goog
le.co...ved=0CDQQ6AEwAA

Note: You only patent your most precious intellectual resources. The work to patent something is not inconsiderable. Why does the patent match real-life observation? Well, I would suggest that it's in use - otherwise why bother to patent it?

If you mention any of this on the World of Tank's forums you will receive a lot of counter feedback, some of it rude and some of it very persistent. It seems that there are some that appear on every discussion of the matchmaker putting down any possibility that the matchmaker is 'rigged' in any sort of way. They appear to want to suppress discussion on the matter. Other posters on the forum have suggested that they are 'shills ' whose role it is to provide disinformation and to rubbish other's suggestions as to the extent of the rigging of the Matchmaker. I won't comment except to say that it does seem strange that they appear on every such thread where the Matchmaker is mentioned. I do wish they wouldn't as it reduces the effect of their contribution and often turns any discussion to a mud-slinging argument.

The Match Maker conversations on the forum could be generally more appreciative of the other's opposing opinions and less dismissive or insulting. I find the US forum is quite a trollish place and not the most receptive place for discussion. If you do post there do not expect much more than invective and trollish one-liners as a return, especially from those that we all know are shills.

What I cannot believe is how many are prepared to continually argue the point.  From normal gameplay I witness and experience the peaks and troughs occurring on a continuous basis. How some other players do not see it occurring is beyond me. It is part and parcel of playing WoT on a daily basis. For those few to not see the patterns - that tells me they are seriously blinkered, playing another game with the suppression somehow magically switched off or could it be they are paid by Wargaming.net not to see it?

CONFIRMATION:

Confirmation that this cycling is artificially induced and is not attributable to your own state of mind, poor mental health or environmental factors (!) can be found by taking the following actions:

220px-british_army_cyclists_recruiting_poster_wwi.jpg

o Leaving a particular server unplayed for a period of at least two months
o Logging onto an alternative server, EU, SEA &c (a re-roll).

If you leave a game server entirely and stop playing for two/three months, when you return you will find that the MM has forgotten about you, the suppression of your win rate has been curtailed and that your win rate will be back to the levels that is was pre-suppression. This indicates that the MM looks at your win rate values over a period of time to determine whether to suppress you or leave you alone. If your current win rates are low (or you haven't had any for a while) then matchmaking is switched back to normal or 'preferential'. When your win rate rises consistently and surpasses the threshold for a period of time then it switches the suppression back on.

When you log into another server (EU, SEA) you may find that your win rates are similar to what they were prior to the suppression. Give this course of action a go and see if it helps your win rate and report back here please. 

Note: Some recent testing shows that Wargaming appears to suppress win rate not only by account ID but also by IP address to prevent people from doing a re-roll - so I suggest changing your ip address regularly.

The current observation on using a re-roll account on the EU server is that this solution definitely works, at least in the short term. My current Win Rate is 65-70% over the last 200 games and averages 56% over the total 500 games played in each tank used (limited to two). I need to do more analysis on this proposition over a longer period of time (4,000 games or so) to state that this latter course of action definitely works in the long term. 

CONCLUSION WITH REGARD TO CYCLING:

Looking at the extreme cycles that could be found in 0.8.nn. It seems obvious that the MM can only achieve this perceived threshold win rate throttling by placing artificial limitations upon a player. IF you agree that this is being done then you must ask yourself why do they do it? Well, one answer might be that Wargaming.net is a commercial organisation and it can make money by giving you the incentive to play using a premium, paid account or by using enhanced resources bought using real cash (in-game gold). I believe this win rate threshold limit is designed to encourage you to do exactly that.

It has been stated on the forums that this cycling is the result of Wargaming.net averaging out your win rate "in the long run". I am quite prepared to accept that statement yet I am not quite sure what it means. Due the continuous nerfing my win rate has been steadily climbing throughout all the cycling but it has been slow and the result is yet another example of the long and painful grind that is World of Tanks.

The fact that win rates do climb progressively is not actually in dispute, it is the method by which Wargaming achieves moderation of the win rate over time that is.

0.9.n SERIES

There appears to be a difference in the way the cycling operates between the 0.8 series and the later 0.9 series. During the 0.8 series the upper and lower thresholds were farther apart meaning that the wild swings in win rate were highly pronounced, lasting for hundreds of games. The controlling mechanism appears to have been changed in 0.9. The upper threshold seems slightly higher (still arbitrary?) but the lower threshold is much closer to the upper. This means that losing/winning cycles appear much shorter, you may now have losing streaks for only 50-80 games or so. The length of these cycles depends upon how well you play and how long you take to be suppressed down to the lower threshold.

certificate.png

It appears that individual tanks are being suppressed rather than the whole account as before. For example, if you have been playing at 65% win rate (current) for an extended period of time in one particular tank then that tank will start to experience a 40% win rate for a period, whilst another very similar tank just one tier up, may still receive a good win rate. Even your favourite tank, one that you play well, may be affected. (Note: This is unconfirmed and still under analysis).

The observation of 0.9.n is limited as the number of games/cycles I have experienced in 0.9 is simply far less than in 0.8. The win/loss cycling effect is still present but perhaps slightly less pronounced? I am still performing limited tests on different servers to see how the suppression is being implemented and will update this article as more information is discerned.

Matchmaker changes are never announced to the general public in Wargaming's brief release notes. Changes to the MatchMaker are expected in any one of the near future releases as it has been suggested that even Wargaming.net's devs realise that the MatchMaker is broken in some way (not admitted officially) and it has been mooted that changes are underway. To many, the MatchMaker does seem broken in many respects, uneven teams and broken platoons (failtoons) are oft quoted as being examples of failure. I doubt that any potential changes will remove the cycling but we can assume that the process will be modified somewhat without informing the community.

NERF CUT-OFF POINTS:

Not only are you 'nerfed' according to your win rate but there also exist some arbitrary nerf points at which games will start to get tougher. Serb has already admitted that new players receive preferential treatment for the first 80-100 games. So, we know the first nerf point is approximately 80 games, you can test this by playing the medium MkI on a new account. You should be able obtain a win rate of 67% until the 80 game cut-off point then you'll see the win rate drop.

The second nerf point is at 1,000 games. Up to this point it should be possible to attain a 67% win rate on a re-roll account playing by a reasonably good player on a few good tanks. From 1,000 games onward things will toughen and the games will harden.

ACCURACY NERF:

It has been related that the MM 'nerf' also comes hand in hand with an accuracy/penetration/damage 'nerf'. I cannot state that I have encountered this nor have I tested for it in my analysis. Personally, I do not think it is required as the MatchMaker is able to control your win rates more effectively by simply putting you into teams with slightly more low experience players. An accuracy nerf would seem be too obvious and too easy to discern. I am not saying it doesn't happen, for the purposes of this analysis I am simply not taking it into account (if it exists) nor have I been looking for it.

A WORKAROUND:

I believe it may be possible to defeat the cycling. Switching to your very best tank appears to be a potentially successful tactic but only in the short term. Choosing one of the very best of the OP (over-powered) tanks that suits your own personal style seems to be one tactic. Some of the best Russian tanks (KV1 &c) seem to be good places to retreat to when the 'nerf' starts.

So, not only do you need to beat your enemies but you also need to beat the MatchMaker. Another way of achieving this is simply to  abandon a server for two months or so, it seems to be a good and workable tactic. You simply have to be able to recognise when a nerf has started... that is the sign to stop playing. For example, recently, I played 373 games at an average of 58% win rate running just three lower tier (II-V) British Cruiser tank. After a series of 65%-100% evenings consistently able to carry the game I began to experience a severe downturn, playing 30 games but winning only 10... with one continuous losing streak of 15 games in a row. This was the start of the downturn.

cyclist04.png

You can tell when the MM has decided to put you down in that it selects losing teams for you consistently. You'll find that even at tier 2/3 it will be very hard to win, that your enemies will consist of teams of 'sealclubbers', seasoned players in platoons and groups that will wipe the floor with your team. You will be placed consistently into higher tier games where your newly adopted light tank status emasculates your ability to influence the game. You will find your chosen tank playing in consistently higher tier games where it is simply unable to contribute as effectively. You may do well personally but you still won't be able to win the game. You'll be doing more damage than everyone else but you will still be losing.

You'll be just as stunned by your opponent's steamroller capabilities as you were when your own teams consistently played like 'gods'.

If you continue to play you may find that downturn lasting for tens if not hundreds of games. At this point the only thing to do is to abandon the game and stop playing that particular account for approximately 8 weeks. I suggest that instead you simply open an account on another server, reset your ip address so that Wargaming does not know it is still you, and play there instead. Use a different username and if possible an unrelated email address. It may take some time to train another crew to 100% experience but when you do, sit back and watch your win rate magically restore!

Don't think you can simply open an account on the same server - that does not seem to work. Initially, you may get the positive preferential treatment that the MM gives to new players (50-80 games or so) but as soon as you start to do well (high win rate overall) you may be nerfed once again.

If you do open a re-roll on the same server, it will take about 50 -80 games playing at high average and current win rates before the nerf starts. I have tried this option and it does not seem to be of great benefit unless you change your IP address at the same time. To achieve this simple reboot your router - pull the plug!

AN EXAMPLE OF A RE-ROLL ACCOUNT:

To show you how the re-roll works an example would seem to be best:

I have two accounts that I have available for testing. Account 1 is an old account that has seen some hard wear from one of my older children, 2,200 games @ 51% win rate. This account was one that I deliberately set up to be 'nerfed' so that for the period of this test it is currently under suppression from the MatchMaker. To deliberately achieve this suppression I played 100 low-tier cruiser games at a 65% current win rate until it reached an overall 51% win rate for the account. At that point the Matchmaker noticed the high win rate and the 'nerf' was imposed. For 100 games all subsequent matches for this account hardened and I was unable to achieve a win rate above 38% no matter what I did.

cycle-poster01.png

To prove that my tanking skills were not in question, I had previously opened a second re-roll account (account 2) and obtained the same low level British cruisers to fight and use there. I had trained two crews up to 100% standard with one perk and had left that account 'fallow' for some months so that it was invisible to the Matchmaker. I played this account instead, participating in 85 games. As expected, the games encountered were standard games with normally-skilled opponents, normal gameplay, no ROFLstomps by the enemy, no collapsing paper-bag teams, just normal games. On this account, (miracle of miracles) I was able to restore my win rate and obtain a consistently high 75% win rate throughout - seal-clubbing as expected.

Finally, just to confirm the 'nerf' was still in place on account 1 - I returned to account 1 to play another 50 games and sure enough the suppression continued at the very low 38% win rate. Conclusion: One account was nerfed, the other was not. For me, simple gameplay with results like these are proof enough.

Note there is nothing different between the two accounts, my skills are the same. Average damage, no. of kills, WN8 &c over the period are pretty much all the same on both accounts, the only difference is the win rate. If I had been tired, playing badly or if some other environmental factor had been influencing me then the issue should have affected both accounts. As I was able to play well on one account but not on the other then this implied an obvious manipulation of my win rates by the MatchMaker.

The above example is not made up. I have just completed this mini-analysis and it still stuns me how easy it is is to defeat the Matchmaker simply by opening and playing another account on another server. I wish someone had told me this 10,000 games ago. This I believe, is the reason why Wargaming prohibits users having multiple accounts on the same server. If you do create multiple accounts, whatever you do, don't admit to it.

WHY IS ALL THIS IMPORTANT?

It is important because it is a game that is designed to draw players in, it entices you to pay money to perform  better, ie Wargaming.net's profits are tied to your ability/inability to win. The more you lose the more you will want to tip the balance in your favour by paying money for premium shells and accounts in the hope that you may find your win rate improves. That is the idea. It affects you as it extracts real cash from the wallet of many an unsuspecting player in the most devious manner - by statistical manipulation.

What it has told me is that the only way to win at WoT is to follow the grind to the upper tanks. You can't build up your skill level at tiers 1-6 and expect to win more and more as you improve and become more efficient. At some point you may simply stop winning and find yourself on massive artificial losing streaks due to crumbling teams. 

Once you know this is in place, you may be able to relax and enjoy the game, play to have fun - but whatever you do don't follow win ratios unless you want a serious battle with the matchmaker. For me, the realisation of rigging leads to some disenchantment, I know that other seasoned players are also disillusioned and look around hoping to find some reason to continue playing WoT but not finding any.

WHY DID I WRITE THIS ARTICLE?

tenshillings-150.pngWell, I am hoping that it will open your eyes to what seems to be Wargaming's sharp business practices and stop you from wasting your time and your hard-earned cash when you are bashing your head on WoT's losing brick wall. The fact remains that the MM appears to be  fixed, rigged, manipulated, managed, whatever you call it. Wargaming.net appear content to take your money but at the same time possibly fool you into thinking you can play well and still win. In actual fact, in the long run you probably can expect a slow increase in win rates but do not expect those short-term high percentage winning streaks to be reflected in the longer term. It just won't happen.

It would be preferable if these sharp practices could be curtailed and WoT be transformed into a more open and less manipulative game.

CONCLUSION:

Ultimately you must decide whether the MatchMaker is rigged or not. It may well be rigged for you or it may not. It is up to you to determine how the game is treating you personally. I clearly believe it is rigged for the accounts I use and my analysis seems to support that belief. However, rather than believe or disbelieve anything I have written here I suggest you do your own analysis and then make your own determination.

 Now that I have realised the game is rigged I no longer spend any money on it. To quote from the forum: "People pay while under the spell, then stop when they see it's a sham."

Occasionally I still play WoT but as the experience of winning then losing continuously is so down-heartening I now play very seldomly. As soon as the losing streak returns (which it always does) I abandon the game and do something more fulfilling. I wish Wargaming understood that the poor and rigged Matchmaker is the main reason why many of stop playing altogether. If the Matchmaker was done away with I would play this game all the time and I'd be willing to invest in it.

WHAT AM I DOING NOW INSTEAD?

There are few alternatives, one was War Thunder another was Project Tank. This latter alternative was so similar to WoT that it was quashed by Wargaming.net for being an intellectual copyright theft of World of Tanks. War Thunder shows promise but is not a direct alternative as the mechanics are far more realistic. It also uses more GPU resources and is unplayable on the lower performance laptops that can run WoT.

Project Tank evolved and became Ground War Tanks but there is a good chance that it may be feeling Wargaming's claws next - we shall see. Armored Warfare is coming but supposedly it will solely cater for Modern tanks and I imagine it will be built for the higher spec machine generally used for gaming in the US - Modern tanks are not really my interest but they may interest you.

Games like these are cheaper to play and while WoT has this awful Matchmaker I cannot justify playing as much as I used to. I certainly cannot justify spending any money there. 

  -oOo-

World of Tanks does have some good alternatives if the genre tickles your fancy. Most of these are single person PC games, some have multiplayer options. The following videos might whet your appetite for what the competition has to offer!

Video 1: Steel Armor - Blaze of War - You can buy this one on ebay - dirt cheap. Runs on your PC locally. Complex, not an arcade game. A very good looking simulator with high graphics, good sounds and ultra realism. Requires a good quad core machine of 2.6 ghz or more and a decent graphics card. Not a game for a standard core2duo, i3 or i5 laptop. There is NO similarity whatsoever with WoT. The controls and gameplay are alien to any WoT-er, you'd have to spend a lot of time mastering the controls and the result is utterly different to WoT. Change your expectations and you'll have a interesting time but don't pick this game up and expect to be able to play it in an hour. It will take a few hours just to get familar with the controls and the method of operation. It is almost not a game.

 

Video 2a: Iron Front Liberation 1944 - You can obtain this game on steam or ebay. Runs on your PC locally. Multiplayer is available. More complex than WoT, a cross between a simulator and an arcade game. Allows you to access and use any weapon not just tanks. If this appeals to you then you might well have fun.

Video 2b: Iron Front Liberation 1944 - Another one showing this fine game.

Video 3: Ground War Tanks - This is the one that Wargaming does not like, online and accessible now. Basically you can leave WoT and play GwT and use such skills and familiarity that you have with this new game - It is almost a clone of woT. It has lower graphics, fewer enemies/allies per team, smaller maps, tech trees for only a limited amount of nations, identical controls, very similar interface. Easy to play and available to download and play within 3 mins. It will never be a real competitor to WoT as is it is a bit rubbish. Lagging and late-starts to the game mean that you always seem to be one step behind your enemy. A different spotting mechanism seems to make tanks appear from nowhere, regular crashes will soon disenchant you. Think of it only as a WoT-Lite for kiddies and you won't be disappointed.

 

Video 4: War Thunder- an amazing online tank game. A realistic competitor to WoT. Needs a powerful GPU and multicore machine to run smoothly. Don't expect to do well at War Thunder just because you are a unicum in WoT. A shot that penetrates armour will do serious simulated damage and not just reduce your pool of HP. Expect to be one-shotted. The spotting and camouflage system is completely different. Foliage is extensive and actually blocks your LoS (Line of Sight) to the enemy meaning all tanks are invisitanks here.

  Video 5: Panzer Elite

 

Panzer Elite PP2-X is a reskinning of Panzer Elite SE and it provides gameplay that is not so far from what is offered by WoT. The controls though are keyboard-based and vastly, and I mean vastly different from WoT.  A dyed-in-the-wool WoT-er will have severe control transfer problems. You simply have to forget the arcade style of WoT and start with a completely new game and method of control. The PE maps are huge, the graphics generally inferior but they do the job. Realism is better but it is hard to play. A good diversion though. Any PC will be able to cope with the graphics. Panzer Elite runs on your PC, you'll need to buy a copy on ebay, the game needs the 1.2 patch and then the PP2X mod to be downloaded in order for the game to be playable. End result is quite good though.

Video 6: Panzer Elite Dunes of War - a completely different game to the original Panzer Elite as shown in video 5.  This version is definitely an arcade game with gameplay similar to WoT. It will feel at home to WoT-ers but the aiming is arbitrary and the one-shotting of enemies happens too often. Your tank is pretty much indestructible. too much of an arcade game to keep your interest but a diversion nonetheless. It has a good multiplayer mode. Runs virtually on any half decent PC. Found on ebay aplenty. Requires Windows XP to run well.

 

 

Video 7: T-34 vs Tiger

I've not been able to try T-34 vs. Tiger as it is not readily on sale anywhere except occasionally on fleabay. the company that created it went bust shortly after it was released. Expect to pay full prices for this game. With regard to graphics it looks to be the dog's testicles, and even more attractive. Certainly more of a simulator and I expect it will need a decent PC to get the best from it. Looks easier to play than Steel Armor Blaze of War but possibly the same level of complexity as Panzer Elite SE. Notice the GUI similarities to WoT, the minimap and the rotating tank in the same positions as WoT. Looks as if the layout has fast become the norm.

 

 

Video 8: Steel Beasts Pro

Wargaming has to realise there will always be a tank game out there to compete with it in one way or another. There is a current simulator, Steel Beasts Pro, that has been going for a few years now, that provides an advanced simulation of modern tanks. Used by some military types to evaluate the effectiveness of certain tactics it conveys the idea of real tank to tank warfare. Not an arcade game in any sense, does not compete with WoT in any manner whatsoever. Some Steel Beast players might play WoT as light relief. 

The GUI has no comparison with WoT, the controls are unique and the audience has no commonality. Nothing for Wargaming to worry about there. This simulator is expensive too at over $100 for a single dongle-protected licence. In the past this would be considered very expensive for a game but the way that WoT sucks in players into the whole tanking experience makes $100 quite cheap nowadays. The average premium WoT-er probably spends this much on the game yearly. In this context Steel Beasts Pro is quite a bargain.

I can't imagine this simulator taking any of WoT's cash so there should be little for Wargaming's lawyers to worry about nor much for them to sink their teeth into. Very little commonality other than the tanks themselves and they are too modern for WoT to compare. So what would Wargaming.net's lawyers have to work with? GUI infringements - nope, gameplay, nope as most games use the mouse point and shoot method for control. The tier and purchasing infrastructure - nope as it is part of the GUI and a reflection of reality and history, the game-tiering and matchmaking (possibly due to the patents they have in place with regard to the matchmaker - but which they say they don't actually use), which leaves the in-game 2D and 3D resources such as images, sounds &c. Not much to go the courts with I should imagine.

  -oOo-

I'm not sure what effect this article will have on you, some will disbelieve it saying I have fabricated parts - I haven't. Some will talk about it for days but there is no need. Rather than go on and on discussing it on Matchmaker threads simply do your own analysis.

steamtank-650.jpg

Play on, play up and play the game! (or not as maybe).

 

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 June 2015 )
 
Under the Iron Sky PDF Print
(4 votes)

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If you are even slightly into the genre known as Steampunk then Iron Sky is definitely a film for you. This video has almost everything you need, steampunk, almost gothic technology, airships in space, Nazis in full uniform being very very nasty, hauntingly beautiful music. What's not to like?

Well, up to two minutes the song from the original Iron Sky film teaser is both haunting and beautiful, hinting at more deep and meaningful music yet to come. However, I was deeply disappointed in the unoriginality of the remaining three and a half minutes, merely a repetition of the main theme and discordant notes to deliberately alienate and disturb the listener. I had hoped for new music, a more lyrical theme with perhaps an occasional repetition of the first two minutes as some sort of chorus. An exploration of the original theme perhaps but what we finally received was a sort of padding-out to fill a five minute track. I really still do like the first two minutes but the rest... not really worth listening to. Disappointing.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 June 2015 )
 
The Thunderchild prior to battle. PDF Print
(6 votes)

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Some more War of the worlds imagery, a render that was not shown here before: The Thunderchild prior to battle. Complete with music. Officionados of Jeff Wayne's War of the worlds music will appreciate this.

I don't think I ever managed to post this version here before, a reinterpretation of HG Wells/Jeff Wayne's thunderchild. Just a render of a scene with some animation tools used to make the scene come to life. No real animation yet of the Tripods nor the ship but some nicely performed music added to give the scene some depth and emotional appeal.

An image will do as a taster:

thunderchild-600.jpg

The video was a germ of an idea, a low res short period-shot movie based on 2D and 3D models. Note the low quality period-film effect is deliberate, there are a few errors, long range smoke visibility and the prow of the steam packet but please ignore these.

 

We were originally thinking about a kickstarter to get it off the ground. A very short film sequence, a couple of minutes long, Pathe-news style, sound effects, moody music, somewhat similar to the more moody bits in this Jeff Wayne reinterpretation. What do you think?

Whether or not it will develop is all down to time (and money) It is quite difficult to make progress on a project unofficially unless it is all done by one man and that simply takes a lot of time. If it was real project with defined goals, cash to spend &c it could be done relatively much quicker.

The idea was that it would start on a sailor's desktop with orders requiring his immediate return to ship for sailing, the scene would then zoom into the photo on the desktop and then it would come alive and open to the scene of the Thunderchild in action against the Martians.



The date was to be 1921-25, the time of the second Martian invasion where they come equipped with the same technology (realising the overwhelming superiority of their machinery) but fitted with bacteriological filters allowing them to survive in Earth's germ-laden atmosphere. This time they come in fewer numbers having almost exhausted their resources in the first invasion and of course, this time the human defences are better-prepared. In this timeline we get to see Thunderchild II in action. Anyhow, that was the vague idea.

We also had an idea of an old stamp album showing this stamp with the following description:

steampunk_martian_stamp_ico.png"This is a stamp created by Eric Gill in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition with the emergency overprint "under martian rule" for a set of stamps which were produced in that portion of the British Isles still allowed to function - whilst operating under the yoke of the Martian Empire subsequent to the second Martian invasion in 1925.

Not many items survive from this period and this is reflected in the condition of the stamp. The bottom right hand corner is severely burnt as the stamp was recovered from the remains of Plymouth Post Office destroyed during the battle for the Tamar Bridge at Saltash. Approximate value £26 guineas."


Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 June 2015 )
 
Joomla 1.0 should be re-released as Joomla Lite PDF Print
(5 votes)

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I have been watching the progression of Joomla for years now and I am of the firm opinion that there is room for a CMS that Joomla used to be. I mean, of course, Joomla 1.0. A pretty, good-looking, easy to use, straightforward CMS with no frills, none of the later features that grown-up Joomla has today. Most of the core hacks have been discovered and locked-down. There are still a lot of extensions available that need no re-engineering to function.

It could suit the purpose well. It would have no overlap with the core mainstream Joomla, so no disturbance or friction would be caused between the two. JoomlaLite might require minimal development and simply just maintenance. It could become the feeder project to its bigger brother. As people require more functionality then they simply migrate upward.

Mambo and Joomla 1.0 were both good CMS and as simple website-building tools they are still unmatched. I recently visited a few of my old websites (totally secure and hosted under PHP 5.3) and was amazed at the speed and functionality of the things. The back end flies in comparison to the current Joomla offerings, the front end is practically instant, with no cacheing. All the tools work beautifully.

Big grown up Joomla is not a tool I would use now for small sites nor for bigger ecommerce sites. I would use a blogging tool or any smaller lightweight alternative for a simple site. For an ecommerce site the combination of VM and Joomla 3.0 is too risky due to potential unscalability and the slow running of Joomla. My experience of the new Joomla back end has been unsatisfactory (slow and weird-looking). For ecommerce Magento or OScommerce would be my target of choice.

Do you remember those days when you had a fairly simple shopping cart in a fairly simple CMS? It all ran quick and was easy to knock them out? I want something like that.

Resurrect Joomla 1.0, give it to a smaller team with a mandate to maintain, only develop within strict defined boundaries to avoid duplication of effort and competition (tools only) and call it JoomlaLite.

I know that others have tried and failed/succeeded in making a Joomal 1.0 clone (Joostina and Elxis) but that was due to them taking the wrong path (Russian language CMS rather than an International CMS) but the work they did on the improved tools proved that it can be done and their best work is available to port back. They also didn't have the Joomla name, a guarantee to success for a 'lite' version of Joomla.
 
The new Steampunk Orrery MkII PDF Print
(6 votes)

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At last I've managed to get the steampunk orrery into a reasonable shape, good enough to release in any case. The memo taker which worked in the old version does not work in this one, it is still waiting for me to finish re-skinning that part of it. However, the animation and the general 'prettiness' of the thing have been enhanced somewhat to match the functionality that you will see  in this video :

 

This is the orrery plasmoid - The functionality isn't quite the same but it pretty much brings it up to scratch and it is now on par with the plasmoid. I will post a new video soon, same music but showing the enhance functionality in the yahoo/konfabulator version of this widget.

You need to have all three widgets installed:

1. The Steampunk Orrery Widget
2. The Steampunk Moon Phase III Widget
3. The Steampunk Underwidget

If you install all three of these they will work together and will allow you to look at the moon phases in an animated fashion, good grief the thing is actually useful! The Moon widget will automatically position itself on top of the orrery widget when it is called into operation. The Underwidget needs to be layered underneath the Orrery and then the Orrery's glass panel needs to be made translucent using the opacity slider.  You'll then be able to see the underwidget showing through the glass.

Please try them out and test them and if you have any problems do let me know. If you like them all working together do also let me know as this stuff has taken a long while to do. I've taught myself a lot in the process and I do love designing these steampunk thingummybobs.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 June 2015 )
 
New idea for a widget in place and ready to go PDF Print
(5 votes)

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My collaborator, Harry Whitfield is like a Victorian steam-powered brass coding engine, you only have to feed him a good idea and a method of doing it then all of a sudden he's done it. The result is compact, perfectly ordered and logical code, beautifully done, no spaghetti, all created with years of experience and wisdom.

I had a simple magnifier widget that did nothing at all. I was disappointed with it as I could find no function for it other than to run a command to initiate a utility of some sort, a simple launcher, a big icon as it were. When I created the magnifying glass image I had intended to add code that would allow the widget to identify what was beneath it and give an enlarged version just as a real magnifying glass would do. However the widget engine does not give the widget the power to identify what is beneath it, it does not interact with the windows desktop in any way so that idea was gone. We cannot magnify the Windows desktop.

Another thought was to magnify the other widgets in the Konfabulator engine, However, the widget engine does not give the widget the power to identify any other widget above or below it so it cannot interact with or magnify any other widget in a graphical sense. There is some inter-widget communication allowed but it would not be fast enough to allow real-time magnification of another widget, it would also be horrendously complicated, so, that idea was gone too.

I sat on the idea and deliberated with Harry and he confirmed all the above, in fact he confirmed it several times but the idea would not leave my head. The magnifying glass sat there on my desk saying "use me, use me! but only for magnification purposes..." and I absorbed what it was saying but unable to do anything about it. It also said "Twiddle the basset pipes" - but I ignored that as it was rubbish.

So, the day before yesterday, a germ of a thought grew into an actual idea as to how to overcome this problem and then I had it. It could be done. Simply put, if the magnifying glass and the image it needs to magnify, sit within the same widget, they can find information about themselves, size, position &c and the therefore the magnification can be achieved. All that needs to be done is to drop an image into a window and then the magnifier can interact with it as they are all within the same widget.

This was the idea, I put it to Harry and a day later the widget was designed and coded and released for testing. Crikey he's fast. Using the graphics from my widget and the code from one of his previous image display widgets he banged in his new code and hey presto! we have a lightbox into which we can drag/drop any image. The magnifying glass is slidable and moves around the image by dragging the handle. The glass lens magnifies the image underneath! It is done, it works.

desktop-magnified-650.jpg


Testing it now. Adding some steampunk controls and completing the functionality. We have a new widget.

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 June 2015 )
 
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Steampunk Yahoo Widget

How about something special for the weekend sir?

Steampunk Yahoo clock/calendar widget downloadSteampunk Stamp Widget

Lightquick have a nice little Yahoo widget for you to download. Click on the image above.

Do you need a stamp with that madam?

     

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Yahoo widgets download

The Konfabulator engineYou will need Yahoo widgets if you are going to run the Steampunk clock/ calendar. Download it here now!

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