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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Preorder Content Needs to Die

This is in no way my first or even my last post about preorder content or just preorders in general. To give you a quick run down: I'm not really all that for it or against it though I like the idea of rewarding people opting into basically prebuying a game. That being said, preorder content needs to die... as per my title of this article.
I've gotten some money recently, enough to continue filling my Steam library with titles I'll probably never touch again. Whatever. Its my money and I want to hit over 800 games. A while ago, like a long while ago, I wanted to get the newest Naruto game which at the time was Ultimate... blah blah 4. I can't be asked to look it up. However at the time I was unable to opt into Steam's full price preorder. Unfortunately because of that I missed out on some content that I could have gotten for free. Oh well. Now that I have money I remember seeing it on my wishlist and decided to pick it up. Of course I'm the kind of guy who wants to have it all immediately so I go to purchase the Season pass. I read on to see what I'll be getting then notice: "One of the secret techniques can't be used unless obtaining preorder content."
Now this is where I have a problem with preorder stuff. When a game specifically cuts out a part of itself and makes players unable to purchase it at a later date is awful. Its even worse when anyone who wants to buy it now has to see some message like that basically saying, "By the way, screw you for not having the future sight to see you'd want to buy this game before hand as well as not having enough money to purchase it when it was first released." Speaking as a person who goes from paycheck to paycheck paying bills yet still wanting a fulfilling gaming experience, this is the worst. The idea that a section of content is completely locked out from me is forcing me to decide whether or not I'm going to buy a game or not.
In short, I'm not. I've got money and a few other games I want to buy. If Bandai Namco feels that this particular set of content was so important to them to not release for a small fee afterwards then they don't need my 50 bucks. Instead I'll put that towards another company. Though I can say I'm grateful to the company seeing as I can now look at other games and be fully sure I didn't want to buy their product. Thanks!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Let's Fix It: No Man's Sky

So ya, No Man's Sky has been a bust. Players are trying to return it, Steam's overall review of it is mixed at best and everyone seems to be on the witch hunt for Hello Games. I posted something before on how all of this was a possibility when the game was released but from all the stuff I've been seeing I actually want to try something different. The game is... unfinished to say the least. What I'm going to do is talk about how the game can get as close as possible to what we were promised. This is less of what we can do as players rather an idea of how Hello Games can get the game closer to what we were promised as most of us cannot code and even if we could we wouldn't have access to the build of the game in the sense we could easily manipulate the assets within a sensible period of time.

1: The World
Alright, so a lot of people have been talking about how the planets they've seen are actually not as detailed or up to snuff with what was promised. One video I saw talked about how there's no real variety from the desert planets. I don't believe people have that much problem with the other planets but the easiest way would be for us to create entirely new planets and plop them in random places. Of course we'd have to make sure they wouldn't clash with other planets but the universe is apparently so large that would be a very unusual occurrence. Unfortunately the majority of these planets would have be templates, like if we started with just a ball and then added some basic stuff to it. From there we could make it so the game would give these new planets some variety but ultimately they really won't be that much closer to what everyone wanted.

2: The Creatures
Now this is where it gets tricky and will have to be one of the biggest changes and probably the second most time consuming project. There's not much variation between creatures and they all seem kind of broken or buggy to say the least. What I suggest is using a model similar to Spore in which the player base creates a few creatures and they're sent off into the world. The studio would also have to create some themselves in order to deviate from the obvious amount of phallic and sexually designed creatures or just simply add in their own twists. The studio would be in charge of making some of the more interesting creatures like the giant sand worm we say before but seems to be absent.

3: The Ships
One thing that was mentioned was these large scale space battles and the ability to choose a side between the warring factions. This is probably where we draw the line in terms of making this feature available within the few months to come. The Old Republic is doing a similar thing where they've released a new expansion but they're doing it in little bits and pieces. So these new space battles will be heavily scripted at first but eventually the code could be implemented to where the game just randomly generates some battles here and there. I've also heard that ship designs are very basic and offer little to no customization. Again, a Spore element should be implemented making it so that player creations/discoveries are a viable thing.

4: The Multiplayer
Alright you knew this was coming and I saved it for last. This would literally be the biggest thing for the game in the sense of time consumption. I'm not entirely sure the code for the game supported multiplayer in the first place but being optimistic we're going to say that it did and work from there. It would have to be limited but not extremely restrictive. Players should have the ability to opt out of this at will and be able to play offline. For those who want to I would suggest a model similar to Warframe. In Warframe you can invite other players to a match or what have you on the fly. You add them to a group and they can vote on what mission to undertake. The limit I've seen for me is about 4 which isn't a terrible number to be honest. Warframe also allows your game to automatically connect to any party currently working on a mission and you can jump right in. In this case I would say that you can jump into a person via a planet or, at most, a galaxy wide thing. Anything more and you'd put a significant strain on connectivity. Unfortunately there would have to be some kind of invisible wall where if you stray too far from the other player you'll be notified to turn back or the group will be kicked.
On the worse end if we use the basis that the game never had any multiplayer features from the beginning and we'd have to start from scratch I would say scrap it entirely because that would take an insane amount of time to code and implement to a stable degree. Since the game has failed there's probably not any plan for DLC and the upkeep is going to be minimal at best fixing the bugs to make the game playable, though as we've seen players aren't happy so this game is on a ticking clock to make its consumers take interest in the game at all. It would be like if there was no audience for the PS3 port of Skyrim (which was one of the most broken ports of all time) so Bethesda simply scrapped working on it and the game stayed broken forever.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How Metal Gear: Survive Can Work (But Probably Won't)

God that name is terrible... I mean, what is that supposed to mean? I'm not a Metal Gear aficionado, hell I've only played two of the games, but every single title actually meant something. Peace Walker was about... peace, I guess. Revengance was... stupid. Alright, so the names don't make much sense either but that name sounds so awful.
So if you didn't know, Metal Gear: Survive is Konami's attempt to use the franchise they tore from Hideo Kojima after he finished making a critically acclaimed and successful game with Phantom Pain. Ya, it doesn't make any sense to me either. But wait! There's zombies! Well I mean pseudo zombies. Except... Phantom Pain also had pseudo zombies... And these aren't those zombies from Phantom Pain soooo... Apparently this game is set in an alternate time line starting from Ground Zeroes, because Metal Gear wasn't confusing enough already. From what little we know and have seen, you will take the role of one of the soldiers from The Boss' team when the base was destroyed except they were sucked into a wormhole. Also zombies in there, somehow. I'm a firm believer in taking a game by its own merits than a trailer but at a certain point you really can't help but say, "Ya no, burn it in a garbage fire."
But... let it be known I am actually trying to make an attempt to give this game some credit. At least it isn't a stupid mobile game or pachinko machine (probably spelled that wrong but I honestly don't care enough to spend the time researching the proper spelling as I'm taking Konami's approach of phoning it in). Alright so not that much of an attempt. The game seems to be using the same engine as the last two games which makes me think this game has been in the works for a bit of time. Like they were messing around with the engine while Kojima tried to put art into video game form and got pissed because he wasn't producing any results.
As a non Metal Gear fan, in the sense my experience with the series has been only last year purchasing Metal Gear 2 and Snake Eater for my growing game collection and I only got as far as, "Wait, there's a Tony Hawk minigame in this?!" and nothing in the main game as well as only playing Revengance and Phantom Pain, I'm looking at this from non rose tinted glasses. While Phantom Pain, for all its annoyances and my criticisms, was a genuinely good game I still have no great feelings about the series.
I personally felt that the mechanics of Phantom Pain were the highlights. The crafting of guns, gaining new and better soldiers in the field, the companions you could take on missions as well as the idea of true 'Stealth is an option' gameplay as opposed to the half baked shit most games pretend to have when they use that line. Honestly the game was amazing. Not only from the standpoint I could run it on my outdated computer despite it being a recent release because the team very intelligently decided to split up the map so it could run better but the story was halfway decent and made me actually feel for the characters. Not to mention the subtle humor here and there making the game's more heavier moments not only hold more weight and gravitas but also give you a bit of a break every now and again. If Survive has these features, I'd be hard pressed not to say it could also be a great game as well.
... But its probably not going to be. Despite what everyone may say, zombie games are kind of terrible in one way or another. The best so far has to be Dying Light and even that was pretty bland in itself where only the gameplay was its best feature. Also the whole debacle of it just straight up not working on Steam after a patch that essentially broke the game making it unable for any PC player unable to play the game without having to jump through some hoops instead of the developer fixing it EASILY cuts the entire score I would have given it in half. So Dying Light gets a 4/10. Fuck you, Techland. Ya I'm still pissed I wasted 60 bucks and I can't get that back.
There's somewhat a big difficulty in explaining why zombie games really just don't work. The Left 4 Dead series is probably the best if only for the fact that the games are fun while lacking in any brevity or weight. They're just fun games and not much more. Survive has to be able to get the fun aspect down which is also a difficult concept to master. While I do like Phantom Pain it was fun for a few moments but what really kept me going was the gameplay. Basically Survive is taking the worst parts of Phantom Pain, being the Skulls missions, and making them the main portion of the game. Ya, Skulls were terrible. Fight me. They completely ruin the pacing of the game forcing you to change your tactics drastically unless you really like dying to cheap enemies. Except that sniper mission. That was pretty cool.
Basically what I'm saying is I'll need to see more of what the game has to offer other than generic zombie-esque things and also a big zombie thing that's probably a zombified Metal Gear oh shit did I ruin that awesome reveal and DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT I'M BEING SARCASTIC

Saturday, August 13, 2016

No Man's Sky - "It Was a Possibility"

Full disclosure, I haven't played or even touched the game at all. My PC is barely struggling to play ten year old games so its on its last legs at this point and I don't own a PS4... also I'm broke but that's pretty much par for the course when it comes to me. This post is addressing the backlash people have had since the game was released, but just mostly the multiplayer aspect.
So I want to say first off that this is a pretty common occurrence, however it wouldn't have happened with a triple A developer. What I mean to say is that games get changed all the time during production. Less frequent is when a game is changed when certain features have already been announced and even less frequently do these changes go unannounced when the game releases. Though usually these aren't the core mechanic features of the game. It'd be like they promised all these worlds but in reality they only programmed in about five hundred and kept updating the game with more planets as the game went along and disguised them as patches.
While I will admit the idea that the MMO aspect of the game was eventually scrapped the idea that a small indie team could make a game of this scope was in itself a large leap. I know there are some talented programmers out there, some venturing on god like levels, but ultimately a game of this size and scope would have been done in about four or five years with a larger developer and probably an extra year to iron out the multiplayer bugs for release, if they weren't scummy. Ultimately what was received is a pretty significant leap considering what small teams can do with a game.
That's not to say I'm fully condoning what they did rather giving context as to why it happened. What you're really getting is a balancing act. Either some aspects of the game would be scrapped in order to fit in the time they promised to release the game or the game would have been put on the shelf for this one and, if I'm being completely honest, unnecessary feature. Though that's not to say that the idea of meeting my friends in some vast cosmos out there wouldn't be cool. Basically if you want that same feeling you might as well just download the free Star Trek MMO. You'd probably get the same experience.
I sort of treat every game I come across like I'm a member of the CDC handling some hazardous material. I've been burned on games before and bought into games that ended up being complete garbage way too often. Most of my time in any game store is just me looking at something that's interesting, checking on my phone about it and eventually moving on. I'm a person with pretty niche tastes so a lot of games really fail to grab my attention and when they do I eventually end up being disappointed. I really love space and space games are great but the goals and ideas that No Man's Sky put forward really sounded too good to be true, and in some ways it seems I was right.
Personally I'd say not to give the company too much flak. Like I said the scope was extreme and even a larger team would have come across many problems that would have postponed the game perhaps even indefinitely. Also I'm not saying don't give them a free pass. Understand this happens and move on with your life.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Let the Nerds Go at It: How Media is Changing for the Better

The general rule of thumb for any new thing is that corporations and people who generally have no idea how to handle this new thing will pick it up and take it for a test drive. Fairly often this ends up being a bad thing. Either the product fails and now the market believes there isn't any interest in this thing anymore and drops it completely or it succeeds and they end up running it into the ground trying to replicate the formula they've found which then results in the previous point. Think of it kind of like the Michael Bay Transformer movies. While they are stupid and genuinely hated by a majority for very valid reasons they still make massive amounts of money when they're released so obviously there is a market for them.
My point being is that profitable isn't always good but its unfortunately what drives the market forward. Imagine a world where Star Wars tanked at the box office. We'd be left without Carrie Fischer, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford as brand name actors with their legendary status. It wouldn't have spawned a franchise of movies, games, books, comics, toys and etc to the point where there's still demand for an entire new trilogy of movies and even more of everything else. Star Wars is one of those few moments where a nerd, George Lucas, was successful.
The reason I bring this up is kind of about my last post about my feeling on the lackluster DC movies as well as a few other things. A lot has changed since the first video game ever and the industry is showing it in both good and bad ways. But the one thing I like most of all is how the nerds, or rather people who are extremely passionate about a particular subject to the point of fanaticism, are now being put in direct charge of products. This isn't something new but its become more of a thing in these past few years. If I had to categorize the 2010's in a market term it would be a burst of nerd culture actually run by the nerds. Time long ago nerd was actually kind of a bad term. It generally meant a person who wasn't physically capable or someone who was a loner. Now its the passionate director, designer, fan and pretty much everything else positive in society.
What I mean is the the higher ups are finally listening to the fans or their consumers. And I mean really listening. While money is certainly a deciding factor now its more about how it will be received. I think that's the power of hindsight. A lot of classic movies were bombs at the box office but found a devoted following later on. The opposite can also be inferred. From a gaming perspective, hindsight has allowed us to find a market for retro gaming and things like it. Remastered versions of cult classic titles now available on a massive scale. I think a good example of this is the cult classic Psychonauts. When I was a kid I heard about this really cool and inventive game... and never saw it on store shelves. I saw magazine ads and even a few trailers in those free game demo disks... but could never find it. Funny thing about that is the game didn't do great either from a money perspective. For whatever reason there wasn't any copies really anywhere for the consumer to pick up. And while it was considered a success from the stand point of a well made game it failed financially. While people can say that it was part of the still budding internet age it still was sort of an anomaly.
I'm not saying that I as a self proclaimed Star Wars fan should direct the movies or as a gamer I should make a game, rather that the market is open for someone like me to show how much I appreciate these things, either in money for fan creations. Let the nerds take over for a while. Its been working so far, why not see how far we can run with it?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What's Wrong with DC's Movies

Hey guys. I've been thinking since my video game reviews and other content is a bit sparse that I might branch out, just a bit, into some other media. I won't really address anything I can't comment on so, while requests are a nice thing, I personally will just talk about what I want to talk about as it comes to me.
Batman v. Superman was released a while ago but its effects are still going on even now. I hear people defending the movie for very small points but ultimately I feel it is the absolute worst of all DC's movies, and I say that knowing that there are probably some direct to video titles that DC has done their best to shove under the rug. Honestly I don't think, and really hope, it doesn't get much worse than this. I personally consider myself to be a Marvel person though that's more of a wish than an actuality. Not only are the majority of the comics I own from DC but I often find myself being drawn back to DC in one way or another. Marvel is sort of a daunting company, almost monolithic. Even more so now that they've been acquired by Disney. The ultimate problem I have with Marvel is the fact its far too difficult to get into any of their content without a guide. While this can be true for DC as well the difference is that DC has its own one off stories which make up the bulk of my limited amount of comics. If I don't want to discover an entire universe I can just pick up one of their Elseworlds stories and get my fix without having to do prior research if the comic was handled correctly. Apart from something like Days of Future Past there's not really that much that Marvel doesn't cross over or blend with their other series. While this is great for long time fans, any newcomers will be confused to say the least. But we're not talking about Marvel here.
The reason I consider it to be the worst comic book movie is a simple case of not handling the characters sensibly. I watched snippets of the movie with a break in between every so often of walking somewhere else to let off some steam by their ridiculous decisions. I want to say first off that Batman and Superman both kill people, though they don't revel in it or go into a fight with the intent to kill. Its more of like an after effect like Batman punching someone so hard they go into cardiac arrest or asphyxiate but since Batman is kind of an asshole and doesn't call the paramedics they just end up dying. And Superman could just forget how strong he is as well as doing what I previously mentioned about Batman as well. The furthest I think they should ever take Batman straight up killing someone in the media is basically what happened in Batman Begins where he just refuses to save someone from certain death. I don't really understand why most people had a problem with how Zod was killed by Superman in Man of Steel. While a boring movie, the scene was actually my personal favorite, being very conflicting for him. He ended up having to kill not only one of the few members of his dying race but also simply to protect innocent people. However the idea of Batman willingly killing people in BvS and actually taking further measures to do so knowing full well they would die from it spits in the face of the character.
Prior to writing this I got caught up with the first season of Gotham. The interaction between Bruce and Alfred is a really clear example of how their relationship would immediately crumble should Alfred know as he has had a troubled past. Father figure or not, torturing people and brutally killing them isn't something Alfred has been okay with in the comics. The only instance I can ever remember him being 'okay' with this is in the really god awful All Star Batman and Robin series. And even then they had a moment where Batman realizes he's done something awful to someone as he sees the Green Lantern almost die in front of him and saving him is a turning point where he vows not to kill any more criminals.
Zach Snyder has gone on record stating he has no idea what to do or what he's doing. The very flimsy reasoning behind Batman killing people comes from The Dark Knight Returns from which he based the character off of. To which I have to say if he really wanted to make the Dark Knight Returns why not just make it? As it is now cannon, Batman brutally kills people. I would say this would put him in stark contrast to Superman as he would never tolerate his behavior without a stern warning, non-Elseworld or alternate universe Superman anyways. But given that this version really just doesn't seem to care at all just completely screws up the dynamic of what the characters have been for the past X amount of decades. In contrast, Civil War came out a while ago too and stayed true to the main characters. Granted I have no idea why Tony Stark would be in bed with the government on the decision of registering superheroes but it actually makes sense given the albeit terrible comic the story was lifted from. Even the part about Spiderman being the posterboy for the registration, though that was more fan service and cameo stuff than from the original story line. Point is the characters weren't compromised for their movie appearances and were portrayed as competently as possible.

Thanks for reading this. I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to keep up with non video game articles but if it allows me to write more in lieu of lacking video games then I think this will work out.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Keep the VR Exclusives to a Minimum: What We Forgot About the 70's

I'm going to say it right now, I don't want virtual reality games. I don't want to buy them, the system and I really don't want to play them. This is less of a 'this is a gimmick that will fall out eventually' and more of a I have had serious medical problems my entire life and putting one of these things on legitimately terrifies me. Back to my previous point, I don't think this is a gimmick. This seems like the next step in technology in general. Like the precursor to those god awful sci-fi movie technology things that we've been seeing in just about every future movie/game. While I will not be a participant in this decade I still believe that this is a step into the future and therefore in the right direction. As I'm writing this I have an eye splitting headache and putting on a headset whirring with power and flashing lights into my eyes sounds like a nightmare.
My dream for video games is that eventually we'll hit a wall and we can go no further from a technical stand point. Not from the sense that games will never evolve in a technical department sense, rather we will have a baseline for all consoles and PCs that will last until the end of time. If I looked to my right I currently have seven gaming devices which isn't counting the 3DS right in back of me. If I counted how much all of these things would cost it would probably be in the thousands, and that's just having two consoles from this generation not counting the Vita or aforementioned 3DS. Whenever I hear a new console is being released that isn't a special edition I get really depressed. How much will it cost and how long will it take for me to raise up the money to get this? I still haven't been able to get my hands on a PS4 and I'm still sort of down about it. To put it bluntly this is one of the most expensive hobbies in the world to stay up to date on. I also have a love hate relationship with PC as whatever I have there will always be something better and when I get my hands on that I will still be under the curve. "Its good but will it run Crysis?" is a pretty good example of this.
In order to keep myself being somewhat up to date without becoming destitute I must forego certain additions ie. Kinect, PlayStation Eye et cetera. I generally look at exclusives to these things as a necessary evil. You should get the most play/work out of an item and an exclusive for this item is a good way for a company to recoup costs. Only by good graces have the majority of these exclusives been lack luster to say the least. VR is one of these additions but about six hundred percent more expensive but that isn't without good or sensible reasoning. The system is expensive and the price is indicative of that. I've been seeing a few games on Steam designed for VR and have heard talks of VR exclusive games. While I'm not going to hope that these games fail and, by extension, the equipment fails I would like to remind you of a time when no one knew how to market, produce, distribute and price games fairly...
While I was not alive in the 70's its ripples are still felt today. A rocky road of a time that shaped gaming into what it is today. Back then most games were a far cry of what they are today, no pun intended. Most times they were ridiculous little time wasters and would just barely classify as a game. My mom bought me an Atari emulator type console for Christmas a while back. My first jump into these games was nothing short of a culture shock. I had no idea what was going on, what I was going to do or how to do it. Diverting from this, during this time everything gaming related was insanely expensive. Taking these prices into inflation by today's standards some of these, mind you, basic consoles would cost around a thousand dollars today. And that was normal. Expected. One of these consoles was the Neo Geo. A console so expensive just having one back in the day made you a legend that kids would pass around during Recess. By today's standards that console would be around a thousand dollars. There were also exclusive games for this console and since no one was able to afford it these possible franchises died out simply because there was no market for them. Apart from that the games were also overpriced and were extremely difficult to find.
My main point is that not everyone will be able to afford a VR system. Others may not want to buy one in the first place. While I'm not going to stop anyone there needs to be a steady increase in this technology. Don't force people to buy it to enjoy what is happening rather allow them to steadily digest what is being released to pique interest so that eventually every person will have this standard without having to tear into their wallets. VR is the future but we can wait a bit longer.
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