Category Archives: gaming

The Death of TF2 community servers

I’ve been away from TF2 for about a year. Now I’ve come back and everything has changed. I knew WDG would have difficulties keeping itself going but I didn’t expect the disappearance of communities which I’d thought would be around for a long time yet. Communities which had seemed vibrant with servers full every evening.

On Saturday  The Grumpy Old Gits said goodbye when they held their final hurrah before taking their server down.

The Hampshire Heavies, always a go to community server, seems to be empty most of the time now. UKCS have almost halved their number of servers, I remember when theirs were almost always full even when others were empty. From their forum, they seem to be having trouble even filling these. The reddit server staggers on.

The decline of the Community Server really began with the introduction of modified Quickplay and the Valve server default setting steering players to approved servers. This solved the problem of the spam commercial server chains with their premium pay2cheat servers soaking up new players; there were so many of them that by their sheer quantity people would stumble onto them. Unfortunately putting the Quickplay server default to Valve servers only, meant that community servers found themselves deprived of Quickplay players too. This was later tweaked to be more accommodating but by that time, for many community servers, the damage had been done.

Other games have come along of course, League of Legends and Dota2 in particular, to draw players away. That’s natural. But we still haven’t seen a decent community game supporting dedicated servers that can be run by a gaming community/clan emerge, a game that communities can move on to, to keep themselves going. I also think new players don’t think in terms of joining gaming communities anymore. They’re not a thing in most games that are out, they’ve never been a thing in console gaming. TF2 is still a popular game but most players are happy with just casually jumping onto a Valve server and having a runaround.

Anyhow, I’ve half a mind to get the WDG server up and running on Fridays, always the most popular evening. I’ve mentioned it to a few of people who’d be up to dropping by.  I like the idea. I’ll be keeping it to Fridays unless someone else helps out so it’s not all me. I think there’s not a lot to beat an evening of fun and fragging on a server full of regulars and chilled people who’ve just dropped by (…and only the chilled because it’s our server so trolls and cheats are kicked so there!)


The State of the Nation or what’s happening on Berath’s Brain Burps

It’s been a while, again, since I last wrote anything here, mainly for reasons I’ve already mentioned here, so I reckoned with the start of a new year, Spring and all that, it was time for a relaunch. So, first, what’s been happening:

League of Legends

I’ve more or less stopped playing League. They keep patching it and shaking up the meta. Every time I think about going to get back into it, Riot change stuff so I decide to wait a bit until it’s all sorted out and settled. And then they patch it again. So I’ve decided it’s simpler not to start at all. Less to think about. Instead I’m still watching my LoL streams, letting other people do the work. I’m also watching LCS, another way of keeping up with League without putting any effort in myself.


Stream of Cyanide: you can see me in chat, I have a green sword, I'm a twitch chat moderator so I can ban people

Stream of streamer Cyanide. You can see me in twitch chat, I have a green sword, I’m a moderator so I can ban people. Twitch chat is notorious for being foul. Giving a Guardian reader a banhammer.


In LCS, Origen remain my team of choice. They reached the semi-finals in Worlds, partly by managing to avoid the Korean teams and benefiting from the Chinese League teams imploding, but put up a pretty good performance all the same. They were expected to stomp this Season since, among all the newly formed teams, they had had only had one roster change; xPeke moving to a substitute position replaced by UOL’s Power of Evil. However they’ve looked  somewhat messy and unco-ordinated so far and have dropped games. There were problems with internet access and practice at the start which didn’t help. I also wonder if sometimes it’s easier being a new team at the start, what with Riot’s constant meta changes. A new team can come in fresh, a team like Origen has to unlearn what they had down so well previously and almost automatically as a team (with xPeke here) before the relearning starts up again and they can readjust.


Origen. All six of them

Origen. All six of them

Who Dares Grins

Whilst I’ve been away, my little multi-gaming community I was one of the Clan Leaders of, has sort of died a death. The Sunday evening Llama gaming Nights stopped (well I was the organiser) and the TF2 sessions on Tuesday and Friday evening halted. The Mumble server is still used, posts are made on the forum and some people have formed a Steam group and have pub-stomping sessions but that’s about it. I’ll probably join the group and see what’s up. I’ve been thinking about trying to get the servers populated again, but it is a lot of work that’s largely down to me; the days of community-run servers running games sustaining gaming communities seem to be almost over. WDG are one of the last of these communities to go dark with many, most,  having gone down way before.


Lord of the Rings Online

Still dropping in, now and again. Feels a bit like coming home, it’s so familiar. The kinship is still about. I’m still an Officer. I could resign but it’s not really worth any potential bother as everyone’s currently dozing away as things are.


Team Fortress 2

I miss playing TF2. Played it a little recently. Going to play it more.


Bomb cart will not push self

Bomb cart will not push self

Fallout 4 and modding

I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout 4. I’ve also been exploring the modding scene. There’s comparatively little out there at the moment since Bethesda haven’t released their modding tool yet. So far a lot of the mods that are available don’t really cater for me; I’ve no urge to populate my post-nuclear wilderness with topless women possessing Barbie doll-like proportions. I took a look at Skyrim which has a more advanced modding scene and it was similar; a vast over-supply of mods for hetero males wanting something fruity in their games and scantily-dressed and probably cold lady followers. Well I could either hope that more modders widened their briefs or have a go and try to make the mods myself that I wanted to see. I decided to do that and also see if I could get involved in some modding groups setting up to develop additional game content and give input (trying to keep my Cthulhu obsession reigned in). I’m not sure how it’ll go but at the moment I’m trying to get to grips with the Skyrim modding tool which is very likely to be similar to the Fallout 4 one when it’s released.

There aren't so many like this

There aren’t so many like this in Skyrim

So that’s about it really. There are other things going on and other things will be going on but I’ll see. Whatever, I hope to be blogging more now about the above and more. Always good to write a bit of nonsense now and again!

Rescued from Daytime Television; watching streams

I haven’t been writing much lately and for once it’s not because I just haven’t got round to it.

Back in February I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I went into hospital for surgery at the end of March, was in for about a week and then discharged with not a lot of use in my left arm whilst my various bits and bobs healed up. This meant gaming wasn’t really an option for a few weeks.

Further tests were required to make sure all the cancer had been removed; MRI scans, bone scans that sort of thing, which were all a bit scary and, which in turn, didn’t put me in a mood conducive to gaming or writing whilst I was waiting for results.

During this time, I had films and videos to watch and books to read of course. However a lot of the time I just wanted something to watch mindlessly to pass away the time. I had daytime television of course but I didn’t want to completely melt my mind and turn my brain to pulp watching an endless progression of  ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show USA’; ‘Saints and Scroungers’; ‘Helicopter Heroes Down Under’ and the like.

I found watching Twitch streams; watching gamers online play video games, satisfied my requirements. They were undemanding, I’ve always enjoyed watching people play games anyway, it was just what I needed. I could watch the games and listen to the players talk and nothing more was asked of me.


(by the way all the results are back now and I’m in the clear, so it’s on with the treatment plan to stop it coming back now, most likely chemotherapy plus other stuff)

Destination Gamer: our new BFFs

Running a gaming community is not the easiest of things these days. Neither is keeping a gaming forum going with all the many alternatives such as Facebook, blogs, twitter etc, not to mention things like reddit.

So, it seems reasonable that a fair solution is to for smaller gaming communities in particular to band together and share resources.

Destination Gamer contacted me a while ago to suggest just such an affiliation. They’re another small gaming community, UK based, but unlike WDG which is pc-focussed, DG comprises mainly console gamers. However, they do have some pc gamers who are currently under-served, just as WDG have some console gamers who we don’t really cater for. All very complementary. The fact that we both have such similar initials also begged for a working partnership.

We’re now doing some cross-promoting of events. I don’t think it’s something that will explode into life straight-off, but it allows both communities to offer a little extra and often this sort of thing only bears fruit further down the line.

League of Legends; learning more, building and support

So far most of my games have been against bots.

Now it was time to try real players. I decided to carry on playing Dominion mode since it seemed easier so far. In my first game, I used my trusty Goin’ Around tactic with Alistar and went around, and around and around, back a bit, across a couple of times, then back to going around. And it worked a treat. We won.

Then a clanmate decided to haul me into a couple of games on Summoner’s Rift, I’d only played this twice against real people, with one victory. To my surprise we won both games. I played Alistar, mostly bumbling around in the bottom lane.

I learnt a bit more, when I played another couple of games, this time against Intermediate bots, with more Clan. By this time I’d finally worked out how to build one item from another. I’d been too generally bewildered before to think about it. So, if, say, you bought a ruby crystal giving you 180 health for 475 gold (your starting amount), you could later upgrade it to a Heart of Gold; 250 health plus an extra 5 gold every 10 seconds. However, the cost of the ruby crystal counts towards the cost of the Heart of Gold.  When you buy it, your crystal disappears from your inventory. Overall, this means you can build up to more expensive and powerful items, but still benefit from less powerful ones in the meantime.

I’d been using Doran’s ring and Doran’s shield and hadn’t understood why people on forums seemed to be sniffy about them, they’d seemed good items. Well, I was told, it was because you can’t build from them. You can only sell them outright, and at a loss.

I played Alistar as a support, so I learnt about that. As a support, he protected his carry allowing them to farm by last-hitting minions (the player that delivers the killing blow gets extra gold) and getting the kills on champs. Carries need the gold to buy items that allow them to give maximum damage (they are the squishier dps deliverers). Once Alistar had Heart of Gold, I found he could buy what he needed anyway. My final score was 0/4/17 (kills/deaths/assists), alright or not; no idea! I really wasn’t sure if I was doing anything useful.

I also found out about Dragon and Baron which I’d seen mentioned. I’d hoped that they magically appeared at random from the sky but they don’t. They’re just a couple of the neutral mobs on the map that are harder to kill but give extra gold. And I learnt about using wards which reveal hidden enemies; useful against ganking.

But while all this learning and serious business was going on, of course Berath’s Brain Burps had to bring a certain amount of confusion and foolishness to the table. Spells and skills are mapped to various keys on the keyboard. There is a spell Recall, that automatically transports you back to the start of the map after a time delay, seen on a progress bar. This is mapped to ‘b’, as I discovered. The team communicated using Mumble. My push-to-talk key is was ‘b’. Everytime I tried to say something I started to teleport back to the base. As a result I. could. only. talk. in. very. short. bursts. At first the others though it was lag or my mic cutting out and were concerned. Eventually they understood.

NBI: How to get lots and lots of hits on your blog

Now, so far in the New Blogger Initiative, the focus of many advisory posts, including mine, has been on not blogging for numbers, instead looking at good writing and slowly building up dedicated audiences. However, there may be many new gaming bloggers who just want hits. Not  fame, not longevity, just hits, a ‘forget the quality; feel the width’ approach to blogging. This is fair enough and Berath’s Brain Burps is happy to help them too.

So, I have analysed the top search terms and listed the ones that have most frequently brought people to Berath’s Brain Burps, over the past year.

Right, the most popular topic searched for and the most popular search term is:

League of Legends.

Yes, searches for this term and the variants of, have brought many people here. How long they’ve stayed, how disappointed they were when they arrived, whether or not any came back; all irrelevant. It’s the numbers that count.

The next most popular search term was:

tf2 pyro

The Pyro in Team Fortress 2 was the subject and the classs of maximum interest for searchees (the soldier a distant second). Unfortunately, the majority of my class posts are about the Demoman and the Engineer. I’ve obviously missed a trick here.

Then we have

tf2 (a.n. other class i.e.not pyro)

Team fortress 2 is generally popular. I noticed an immediate increase in hits after my first TF2 post, initially I focussed on Lord of the Rings Online.

After that

poems about laptops/poem about laptop/laptop poem/ode to laptop and other variants

feature prominently amongst search terms; I once wrote an ode to my laptop when it was very new and very shiny and I was very excited. As a search subject, this was a surprise and perhaps something the hits maximiser can use. Poems about computers seem to be very popular and much sought after.

And finally among the more significantly popular terms we have

dice boot

I’m very pleased by this, and actually not surprised here. Dice boots are among the unsung heroes of tabletop gaming. Mine  is a marvel (it’s so handy).

So, the conclusion. The hits maximiser could write a post combining all the above, and they will get hits. Perhaps a poem about their laptop upon which they play League of Legends, whilst taking a break from playing Team Fortress 2 as a Pyro, all the while gazing upon the dice boot they have on the table beside them. Excellent. Quality unimportant.

There will, of course, be other search terms that would bring in even more hits, but I’ll leave the hits maximiser to find those out for themselves and work them in to their gaming blogs!

Oh yes and finally get hits. These have been the most popular.

Coming up as image searches for excited funny animals and Snow White (associated posts included).

So, hits maximisers, just stick something similar, at random, towards the end of your post. Like this.

New Blogger Initiative: Sage words from Berath’s Brain Burps

As part of the New Blogger Initiative, each sponsor blog has been asked to write at least one post giving advice to new bloggers.  Unfortunately I’m led to understand this also includes Berath’s Brain Burps. A flaw in the Initiative I think.

But anyway, here goes. I suppose, one of the first things for anyone to consider, is why blog at all. Well for starters, don’t blog for:

  • fame
  • fortune
  • favours

‘cos it ain’t going to happen in 99% of cases; though there may be that 1% where a lucky gaming blogger has stumbled upon a sponsorship with Mr Kiplings cakes or Millies Cookies. Pause, think on that, then dismiss it.

I blog for entertainment. I enjoy writing. I enjoy gaming. When I was younger I kept a diary. Never expected anyone else to read that, I don’t expect that people to read this. Knowing that people do and that they enjoy Berath’s Brain Burps is nice and adds to things, but it’s not my main drive.

It’s noticeable that this blog seems to be one of the only blogs in the Initiative that doesn’t mainly focus on MMOs, I’m likin’ the shooters and lovin’ TF2, though there are a handful of new blogs which look at other gaming genres, one looking at League of Legends (Scattered Thoughts) and another at Starcraft II (Adamant Nomad) and I’ve found a TF2 blog just starting out (TFScribbles). Certainly, considering how many people play shooters, there don’t seem to many who blog about them, at least on a more personal level, especially compared to MMOs.

I’m not sure why there’s this lack. Is it because people  who focus on MMOs tend to be more reflective and articulate whilst fps players just care about shooting the mans and can barely string two words together that don’t comprise an insult?  There was a thread on the Super Monday Night Combat forum where someone concluded that shooter communities were generally dim-witted and loud, TF2 was specifically mentioned. They also spoke about MOBA communities saying they were generally fairly smart (but also extremely volatile), though I ‘d like to add here that Super Monday Night Combat, which I’m playing as well, has been classed as a cross between a MOBA game and an fps. Conclude what you like there.

But anyway, what am I trying to say? Well, even though the genre does not seem to be that popular amongst the personal gaming blogs in my community, since first person shooter-type games are the games that at the moment I love playing most, they’re the games I write about. And it’s that, that keeps me going. So, new bloggers, find your game/genre/platform of choice, find your raison d’etre that must be yours and based on no-one else, because it needs to keep you writing when your hit rates are barely a couple a week  and not even search engines seem to be able to find you. Because if you don’t love what you’re writing, you won’t.

(There, I think that was alright. I’ll just get my MMO-playing friend to check,  she looks over every post, capitalising the ‘i’s, she says, putting in the full stops and commas and removing the profanities; they just slip in….she’ll do right by it)

L2Blog noob – The Newbie Blogger Initiative Welcomes You All!!!!

Berath’s Brain Burps is giddy even giddier than usual at the moment.  It’s with excitement. A while back Berath’s Brain Burps was approached by one of the esteemed Readership with a proposition.

Syp of Bio Break and Massively had decided that it would be a really good idea to start a month of events to encourage new bloggers to enter the world of blogging. As part of this he was contacting a whole collection of gaming blogs, including Berath’s Brain Burps, to ask them to participate and share blogging tips, thoughts and experiences.

So, during the month of May, across the Internet, the Readership will find itself encountering countless gaming blogs all busy sharing and Berath’s Brain Burps will be one of them! It’ll be great. Syp has said over 70 blogs are involved and I’ll be posting a master list of participating blogs as soon as it becomes available (now available: see end of post)

A forum has also been set up here where new bloggers can register, ask questions and hopefully get answers from the sponsor blogs. There will also be articles and discussions. As part of the initiative, each participating sponsoring blog has agreed to write at least one post about blogging. At the end of the month all these will be collected together and the links published and of course everything will be going up on the forum, straight off.

Anyway, if any of the Readership has ever considered blogging or even just wanted to know more about it, now is good times. Should I focus on one game, how often should I publish, do I have to be up-to- date/highly erudite/incisive (take a look at Berath’s Brain Burps and guess), will I get rich and be able live the rest of my days on walnut cake….you don’t know? Well then, go, register, ask away, discuss and write!

Little bit extra: Many of the blogs, old and new, focus on mmos. This is just how it is. No reason. Gaming blogs can be about any sort of gaming, on any platform. After all this blog has moved from a gaming/mainly LoTRO blog to a gaming/lots of Team Fortress 2 blog with a bit of MOBA gaming thrown in (still love my LoTRO though).

NBI Sponsor Blogs: Games and Geekery, The Wild Boar Inn, MMO Fallout, Tastes Like Battle Chicken, Grimnir’s Grudge, Roll One Hundred, Dragonchasers, Ardwulf’s Lair, Inventory Full, Jaded Alt, Ark’s Ark, Tremayne’s Law, Blog de la Burro, Just One MMOre, DocHoliday’s MMO Saloon, High Latency Life, MMO Gamer Chick, Skycandy,, Hunter’s Insight, Life is a Mind Bending Puzzle, Berath’s Brain Burps, Epic Slant, Bullet Points, Professor Beej, Journeys with Jaye, Screaming Monkeys, Welcome to Spinksville, Vicarious Existence, Casual is as Casual Does, Star Shadow, I Have Touched The Sky, The Ancient Gaming Noob, Just One More Unlock, A Ding World, Yeebo Fernbottom’s MMO Love In, Stropp’s World, Kill Ten Rats, The Jedi Gambit, Beau Hindman, Blue Kae, Gankalicious, Live Like a Nerd, Casual Stroll to Mordor, Tish Tosh Tesh, Casting a Shaddoe, A Green Mushroom, ALT:ernative, Parallel Context, ETCmmo, Avatars of Steel, Tales of the Aggronaut, West Karana, Contains Moderate Peril, The Stories of O, Levelcapped, LOTRO Fashion, Mr. Meh’s Supplication, Malchome’s Mind/Restokin, Nerdy Bookahs, T.R. Red Skies,

Post-squash: Lazytown and a game of Hide and Seek

After our game against Pielander (see below), a bit of rest and relaxation was required. So a group of us set off for Lazytown, basically to kill as many of the mans as we could. And we did this and it felt good.

Then we decided to play Prop Hunt. Very basically, Prop Hunt is TF2 Hide and Seek, a TF2 mod. From the TF2 Wiki, players on the RED team, disguised as “props”, are given a 30 second set up time to run and hide on a map, and afterwards players on the BLUteam attempt to find and kill them in the allotted time period. At the end of each round the teams are swapped; the “Hunters” (BLU) become the “Hunted” (RED) and vice versa. Respawns are not permitted until the end of each round. Firing a weapon or swinging a melee weapon will cause the Hunters to slightly damage themselves. This prevents Hunters from going around simply shooting at everything, though health and ammo packs are available. Most people play Pyros which is the default class.

At various times I was a haystack, a green hard hat and a large square of concrete….very difficult to hide as this one.

It was highly entertaining.

To give the Readership an idea of the joy of Prop Hunt, a video follows.

Grandma Berath packin’ the heat in Saints Row 3

In between shooting the Mans on-line, I’ve been playing Saints Row 3; shooting the Mans off-line. Saints Row 3 is an open world game, set in the crime-ridden, violent city of Steelport. You’re the leader of a gang, The 3rd Street Saints; your goal, to defeat your rival gangs and to build your fortune and reputation.

I’m playing Grandma Berath, the meanest, most badass, pistol packing, late-middle aged mamma in town (the character creation screen is perhaps one of the most flexible outside the Sims). So far she’s flung herself out of planes, helicopters and cars, taking out gang hideouts and gunning down rivals. She now has her homies and her crib; bizarrely with a scattering of rather plump scantily clad, apparent ‘ladies of the night’. There are rather a lot of scantily clad ladies in Steelport, generally, but I also spotted a male gimp. Steelport ain’t a town of angels.

And as Grandma Berath strutts her stuff through her hood the passers-by mutter


‘What does she think she looks like’ and, with a judgemental sneer to their tone

‘I suppose some men go for women looking like that’  (short grey hair and purple polo-neck jumpers; well maybe they do but is that really so wrong?)

A bit odd really. Maybe it just goes to show what a morally topsy-turvey mishmash of a town Steelport is.

But whatever, the game has gone smoothly so far. I’ve played one mission where you need to clear a hideout, but I kept failing it because I left the area too soon, the game didn’t seem to indicate clearly when you did. But so far that’s been the only serious annoyance, and then not really, much.

The missions are supposed to get more surreal and stranger as the game goes on, in the meantime there is a lot for Grandma Berath to do in her takeover bid. There are lots of side-missions, she has a smart phone to keep track (this works well) . Steelport is her oyster.