Monday, July 20, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes I'm a L4D2 "boycotter".

The main issue I see is that Valve keeps vowing up and down that L4D2 is a true sequel but the problem is that it is simply not true. They can say it over and over or scream it from a mountain-top or tell the press it really really is a sequel but that does not make it so no matter how many times they say it.

Quake 2 was a sequel. Half-Life 2 was a sequel. L4D2 will seem so much like L4D that you almost won't be able to tell the difference - they are very very similar in feel, look, playstyle, setting, weapons, and characters. Several tweaks to a few textures and models and then swearing it's a true sequel ("really it is! You'll see you'll see!! Just wait, then you'll see!!) is insane. Well, insane not to realize that all of us can see right through all Valve's positive spin.

Sure it'll probably be a great game because L4D is a great game and they are the same thing with a few tweaks and additions that should have been released for L4D to keep the franchise rolling instead of stopping it DEAD in its tracks like they are now. It's sad really and a shame to see Valve fail to understand some basic principles about gaming in general and sequels specifically. They should know better by now.
DDO just went FreeToPlay. Very good news imo especially because I never in a hundred years would have played this game - now, I will. What could be easier to understand? I'm positive that the same will be true for thousands of other players too. This pricing model just WORKS for gamers and developers alike.

We're right now on the edge of a huge shift in the industry and starting to see more indications trickling into the mainstream. What we'll end up with once the transition has completed in a few years time, is more gaming choices for the player to try out without having to resort to piracy. There are very few reasons NOT to at least try a F2P game, and once you are trying it then it becomes the developers job to get you to stick around and play for a while.

The pricing model of the future mainstream will certainly be Free to Play in my opinion, it is highly successful already in dozens and dozens of games right now under the radar, and we'll continue to see more and more companies dipping their toe into the waters to see if it's hot enough. If done right, it IS.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cel Shaded faves

I love Cel Shaded games, and have ever since around the time of XIII's original PC release and then a year or so later the Dreamcast's Jet Set series back in the day. XIII PC was really the first truly cel shading in a retail game although I recall there being a Quake2 mod that rendered everything in that same unique way. I guess this must be a major reason for my love for Team Fortress 2, Drift City, S4 League (all cel shaded games) but does not include the "cartoony-looking but not really cel shaded" World of Warcraft and Free Realms for example. Of course even though I do like the cel shaded games I mentioned, if the gameplay itself were not so deep and rewarding I'd drop them in a heartbeat. Usually the cartoony games I like in spite of their look, but in the case of true cel shading it seems I just can't get enough of a good thing even though this particular style has dropped out of favor quite a bit over the years.

A new game which I just got done spending about 3 hours with is a new addition to the Free to Play/Item shop genre is also Cel Shaded: GhostX. It's one of those smaller games that slipped in under the radar, yet it seems to really be off to a fanastic start with tons of players just logging in for the first time and exploring the massive online world while questing and grouping up with newly made friends while they're not duelling each other in the pvp-mode. GhostX has a few fairly original but familiar gameplay techniques and the fighting style is that of Double Dragon and Streets of Rage and Battletoads etc etc. Really stylishly-cool 3d brawler in a 2d style - yet scrolls in all 3 dimensions. Lots of combos and abilities are unlocked as you level up and a skill tree for yourself and your nanobot with which you form a symbiotic attachment. Fun stuff that's worth a download for sure.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Game sounds

I noticed this post on Massively and I just had to comment. I believe sound is extremely important, and Runes of Magic is sorely lacking in that department - the inspiration for the OP's topic.

I'm always surprised to see those people who say that they play with the sound turned down or that play their own music during the game. Look. You've got all day to listen to your own music - you can listen to your own music a n y t i m e. In fact we are innundated by commercial mainstream music practically non-stop. And you mean to tell me that you like it so much that you simply must have it playing while you game too? Instead of the music designed for the game?

Music (and the incidental sounds) are a large part OF the game imo. If you are eliminating a part of the game that can have such an emotional impact as the music, then you are not really playing the game. Just a part of it.

Now I've played WoW for 14 hours straight before and yes I have turned off the game music, and I always do during raids as well. But those who just always play games without the sound are not "true" gamers in my book, and even more importantly are depriving themselves of the full game experience. Computer games are made up of two things: what you see and what you hear. That's it.

What you can see in the game.
What you can hear in the game.

Thats it! There is no tasting there is no smelling there is no touching. Just sight and sound. Eliminate the sound (and replace it with your own sound) and you're only getting half the game.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hammered Home

I gotta say Free Realms is really quite fun, and there is a lot of free content. As someone who is not planning on ever paying any real money at all (instead I'll stay a truly no cost player) I realize that I'll be missing out on roughly 1/3rd of the game - which is fine by me - there seems to be so much free content at least initially. One irritant however is the almost incessant need to hammer home the point that I'll be missing out on some good stuff at every opportunity. Quest chains end quite suddenly after having diligently completed the first sevens steps with the fact that to go any further in the chain, membership is required. I realize that this is part of the (brilliant) marketing strat, but it is jarring and really serves to ruin whatever immersion one can get from such a game as FR.

I notice a few more popup messages than there were in beta, pitching the CCG for example, even though I have been playing the CCG for an hour or so already, just minor annoyances and to be expected certainly in this game model. I have noticed several shops where the items you can purchase require Jobs which are membership-only thereby preventing me from purchasing said items from that shop and therefore putting me at a distinct disadvantage. I'm thinking that there will be more things like that which are not immediately evident at first but after having played for a while will be uncovered as putting a bit too much emphasis on a subscription purchase.

It will remain to be seen whether the tradeoff between disadvantages to the free player is outweighed by the brilliance and pure fun-factor of the game world. So far it is. And SOE knows that while there will be many paying subscribers (or at least they hope so) that there will be many many more who never pay a dime. That is just the nature of the F2P genre and they know it. Here's hoping they eventually stop rubbing my face so hard in the mud of being a non-subscriber!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Free(dom of movement) Realms

The "Free" in Free Realms does not mean "free as in costs no money" but rather "free as in freedom". FR give players an almost unsettling degree of freedom to do whatever you want and go wherever you want and become whatever you want almost instantly as soon as you enter the game. In FR there is none of the usual MMO hinderance to journying to distant cities just because you have not yet killed a few dozen wolves or delivered a few handfuls of mushrooms to attain level X yet. You want to see the next town? Just go there. It kind of feels like the equivilent of going from Goldshire straight to Shatt (well, maybe not quite that far). The point is that the freedom of movement alone without level restrictions is very fresh and natural-feeling to the player.

Coupled with the freedom to be all classes simultaneously if desired, plus the huge number of quest and minigame choices presented from the first minute of the game, the feeling of expansive freedom is overwhelming and cannot be overstated. The fact that the game mostly costs no money to play should not be overlooked of course, but that is not the reason for the game's title.

Off the beaten path

It's a game totally off the radar, but in my daily check of moddb I somehow came across it. It'a a game that I somehow kept installed on one of my backup drives - Quake 4. There is a great graphical update-type mod that I tried out and man, does it work magic to Q4! So I've been replaying the game a little bit between my "normal" games. Basically it makes Q4 look as if it were using the Unreal 3 engine. It's that good.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A new beginning

I'm ready to get this thing rolling, but not quite in the mood to get into "ancient" history so let's focus on the present. My big gaming interest at this time, generally speaking, is the Free-To-Play online genre. This is a huge market that is only just in its infancy here in North America but it is where the future of gaming lies, and actually has quite a successful past in Asian markets. I'll deal with mini-reviews of individual faves of mine but for now... just a quick list.

Primary Games:

(Pay to Play):

Team Fortress 2 - I play this daily and have forever. My favorite game, period.

Unreal Tournament 3 - Another favorite, great for something a bit different from TF2.

(Free to Play):

Runes of Magic - I built up quite a following due to being the first to put together "Addon Packs" while the game was in beta. The game is basically a WoW copy - but a good one. I'm a level-capped Mage/Scout.

Battlefield Heroes - I've been in the CB for quite a while and have multiple 12+ level characters. Fun game that is much better than it first appears.

Free Realms - Got in the GB from day1 and have fooled around with it a but, but not that much really. Level 16 Card Duelist/10 Brawler. Very fun game but a bit below my age group.

Ace Online - played for quite a bit but stopped pretty much, although I do check in daily to grab my loot on both accounts. Unfortunately small community on my server.

Drift City - Just got back into this since the latest update to the graphics engine added some nicer eye-candy and cleared up some corruption issues I was having. I love this game!

S4 League - I'm not playing this much anymore mostly because I get my daily action-fix from TF2

Secondary Games:

Atlantica Online - of course. Need I say more?
Battleforge - Probably not going to work out, but not bad.
Sword of the New World, Perfect World, 2Moons, Requiem, Cabal, Rappelz, Shaiya, Project of Planets.

...actually there is a bit more than just those, but I'll stick with that list for now as being my promary and secondary games right now.


For now, this is just a place to collect thoughts on gaming and current activities in specific games. Probably won't go much further than that, but we'll see.