Monthly Archives: February 2014

#345 The questions raised with pulling online support of last generation

The latest buzz around the internet was the announcement that Nintendo will be pulling their online play support for the Wii and DS and this bit of news was just followed by Sony’s decision to stop supplying Gran Turismo 5 dlc after the end of April.

With the start of the newest gaming generation, players and the console companies need to start talking about what we are going to do with all of the ownership of digital content from the last generation and with Microsoft’s and Sony’s eventual dropping the support of the Xbox 360 and PS3.

On one hand companies should be able to pull support from their older systems, it’s one part because of the cost to continue supplying the support over the years and because it is obsolete.

It's reason why we don't have Pikmin 1,2 & 3 on the n64.

It’s reason why we don’t have Pikmin 1,2 & 3 on the n64.

 

But on the other, and arguably more important hand, this gaming generation is completely different from previous generations with the introduction  and heavy emphases of DLC and games bought and delivered digitally by way of the Wii’s Virtual console, the Xbox Live Market, and the PlayStation Store. and what will  happen to all the digital games and content that we bought and downloaded in the next few years?

Do we have the right to demand these companies to keep a cost prohibited system open for use to buy and redownload these old games if we bought a new PS3/Xbox360/Wii at a gamestop or thrift shop to replace our broken down devices?

Looking back on the console companies made the major mistake of advertising as actually buying these digital games instead of leasing these titles, that is if they want to continue their constant DRM policy. I imagine they should have advertised as the Netflix of gaming, with account tied streaming television shows and only borrowing the movies disk for a limited  rather than being the DRM-free music store like iTunes and Amazon.

I know iTunes's movies and TVs are still in DRM lock down but you own those drm free music albums you bought though the site.

I know iTunes’s movies and TVs are still in DRM lock down but you do own any drm free music albums you bought through the site. 

 

I have a feeling that video games, being the one industry to have a relatively quick and sudden turnaround in devices  will have to be the first to answer the question about owning digital content for the rest of the world.

But I want to know what’s your opinion on the matter of games bought on the previous generation and the eventual ending of support? If you don’t like that idea what solution do you propose that is reasonable to both the paying consumer and the company that are trying to make a profit at the end of the day?

I am asking you these question not to get your opinions but because I am at a lost for answers myself. 

 


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#344 Writer’s Block: Revenge of the Sith

I hate to do this for a second time this month but I’m pulling the last of my Star Wars themed Writer’s Block themed filler posts for today. But what can you say? Sith happens.

People used to ask me why post anything at all if you don't have a proper post planned My response has been that if I ever fault in my Monday Wednesday, Friday schedule it might lead to me skipping more days and that might lead me to stop updating this site all together. Slippery Slope thinking I know but it's motivates me to make these posts

Someone once asked why publish these filler posts at all if you don’t have a proper post planned. My response has been that if I ever fault in my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule it might lead to me skipping more days and that might lead me to stop updating Be MOP all together. Slippery Slope thinking I know, but that fear of a dead blog motivates me to continue to make MWF posts even on these bad days.

 

I need to find a new filler post series, before I had the gallery of photos from Screenshots of Pandaria back when I played World of Warcraft but I ended that series shortly after I stopped playing WoW (for lack of interesting screenshots from other games) and now I ran out of Star Wars movie titles. I think the next step is to where no man has gone before, that’s right I am talking about ‘the Final Frontier‘.


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#343 Taking Indie Games on the go

If you have been living under a rock for the past few days, let me be the first to tell you that the eleventh Humble Indie Bundle is now live. I have talked plenty about this website and service before so I am not going to waste any more words on WHY it is awesome all you need to know is that you should buy it.

It's all these games plus more on its way

It’s all these games plus more on its way do yourself a favor and just buy it now

With all the previous bundles that I have bought over the years I have always gone with the Steam Keys option for retrieving the games I bought but after very recently rediscovering my old flash drive. Since I am no longer using it to store drafts of college papers I thought to use the DRM-free feature of the Indie games I bought to fill it up with the essential games that I have would want to have on me at all time. Imagine this as the list of games I would want if I ever get deserted on an island with a desktop with little to no internet connection.

I mentioned before that both Binding of Isaac and Neocolonialism have already earned their place on this flash drive but after cleaning up the contents I figured out a bit more games that could be added to the drive.

For the first game on this list is the amazing title, The Bastion, one of the first indie game that provoked an emotional response out of me and it was the game that made me excited to explore the interesting world of indie games.

For the laid back game I also added a copy of Poker Night at the Inventory and even though I won all the TF2 items in this game I constantly go back to the first game rather than the squeal because the original characters are just more appealing to me.

Dear Strongbad how can you play Poker with Boxer Gloves? Still waiting for your reply Snozell, NH.

Dear Strong bad, how can you play Poker with Boxer Gloves? Still waiting for your reply Snozell, NH.

And to round out the list the last game is Edmund Mcmillen’s first blockbuster success, Super Meat Boy just a perfect pair to have it along with the other tough as nails platformer game VVVVVV.

I would like to thank past me for inspiring current me when I had the same thought of carrying my three published WoW insider posts with me at all times.

I would like to thank past me for inspiring current me when I had the same thought of carrying my three published WoW insider posts with me at all times.

But I want to throw this question back to you. Do you carry any copies of games on your person? and If not which games would you want to have with you at all time regardless of memory size?


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#342 Blizzard and Microtransactions (part II)

Oh it is this something special, I get to talk about Blizzard and World of Warcraft again, call it a callback to Be MOP’s earlier days (which was about six months ago before I decided not the renew my Warcraft subscription). Blizzard made headlines because they recently announced that their newest virtual shop item, any one of your characters to be instantly boosted to lv 90, will be sold at $60.

Image from WoW Insider

This is not the first time I talked about the latest addition to the Battle.net store, funny enough the last time I threw my two cents in about the Blizzard Store was 99 posts ago (Be MOP #243) Image from WoW Insider

Ignoring the fact that WoW is still subscription based and you still need to buy expansion packs this is quite a bit of money to spend for a in-game purchase.

This one item is Battle.net shop equals to one of the latest current-gen AAA game or four months of WoW play time just for the ability to skip the leveling process in a MMO. We could call it a E-shop purchase but this is a microtransaction and one that is a bit too big to be called ‘micro’ any more.

Initially the idea of micro-transaction is supposed to offer the player cosmetic goods that does not unbalance the game, like Blizzard’s mounts and Valve’s hats in TF2  or bypass the tedious parts of the free to play game, like the ability to either buy the newest champion with your money or grind up in-game victory points in League of Legends by yourself.

From the business point of view micro-transactions are meant to be small enough to justify the  impulse buy when the prompt comes up. Very similar to the dollar menu at a drive through or the candy shelf at the checkout aisle at the grocery store. It a microtransaction should not be enough to wait for your next paycheck to come in before heading over to checkout.

Between this and the Batman DLC fiasco (read Be MOP #280 & #338) it seems that the gaming industry is forgetting what microtransactions and downloadable content actually means.

It’s not just Blizzard, other companies have been incorporating in costly microtransactions, trying to push the edge of what is acceptable to pay for these services.

Case in point. Image from Reddit.com

But I want to know what you think: What is your opinion about the $60 price for a level 90 character? Are you planning on buying it?

And do you think there should be a limit on how much a company should charge for the items and services in their in-games shops? If what should it be?

Leave a comment down below I would love to hear what you think on the matter.

 


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Be MOP focuses on the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

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#341 Grinding my way to a Completed Pokedex

I mentioned last time I talked about Pokemon XY I said how I wanted to try my hand at completing the this game’s regional Pokedex as a part of the game’s post game activities after beating the traditional elite four.

I have only completed one other game’s  regional Pokedex, it was back in Pokemon Emerald and I did it get one of the Hoenn starters as a not so secret Easter Egg for completing it. I decided to do this now as a one part challenge but also trying to relive that part of my childhood.

gold-and-silver-starters

Before you asked I picked Chikorita, Grass starters all the way & FTW.

 

As I was making my way through this self-appointed challenge I noticed that hunting in the tall grass, running back and forth from the Pokemon Daycare, and spending hours grinding levels with the Exp.  Share struck the perfect balance between mindless time sink and endorphin triggering rewards from the activities that encouraged me continue on this (some might say pointless) quest.

I mentioned before with other games but this is another great example of Skinner Box being implemented into the game,  with constant grinding but the random reward of finding that one Pokemon you have been looking for the past half hour.

It's almost as if Pokemon and Nintendo has spent years developing the perfect balance of work/reward to get people to continue to play their games.

It’s almost as if Pokemon and Nintendo has spent years developing the perfect balance of work/reward to get people to continue to play their games.

 

Ever since I stopped playing World of Warcraft I have been missing a game that I can just sink hours into for just mindless grinding gameplay. While the randomly generated dungeon crawler, Binding of Isaac, was there to help scratch hat itch as  great substitute for the WoW reputation grind I started to feel the burn out from Bind of Isaac set in too. Because lets be frank here, there is only so many times you can defeat the Blue Baby before the thrill of the accomplishment goes away. Thank goodness for Pokemon for filing in that empty space.

What is great is that because Pokemon is on it is on its own separate screen I have been able to catch up on movies, my television shows, and even my favorite gaming streams while still catching them all.

Currently I am little more than a third done with my Kalos  Pokedex and I am interested to see how far the reward from finding that one rare will go once I need to start breeding and grinding the other hundred or so Pokemons.

***

Also I want to take this time to shake my walking stick at how easy kids has it today. With these recent Pokemon games being able to connect to the internet to find and trade the Pokemon they want for their set. Back in my day we did not have any fancy schmancy Wi Fi enabled handheld devices.

If we needed a Pokemon to complete our Pokedex we had to actually talk to people and bargain with them face to face. Once that was done and we found an acceptable trade we had to trade pokemons by way of link cables….AND WE LIKED IT.

Although I do like the Fennekin that I was only able to get after using my smart phone to send out a tweet, asking if anyone had an extra that they could trade me through the Friend Code trading system.

Although I do like the Fennekin that I was only able to get after using my smart phone to send out a tweet, asking if anyone had an extra that they could trade me through the Friend Code trading system.


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#340 The Double Edge Sword of Crowdsourcing

Last week two major crowd sourcing projects were launched and made the headlines on the major gaming websites, TwitchPlaysPokemon and Valve’s Steam Tags system.

The first project is a real-time ROM hack of Pokemon Blue that allows the chat-room to dictate what button to press (including everything from the directional buttons to start and select). The project is still going strong but it going as well as you expected.

Reminds me of that old question, "can an infinite amount of monkeys are sitting in a room with an infinite amount of typewriters could they type up the complete works of Shakespeare?"

Reminds me of that old question, “can an infinite amount of monkeys typing on an infinite amount of typewriters could they type up the complete works of Shakespeare?” I guess we’ll find out.

 

The other is Steam’s Tags, the new project that allows the players to set, search, and organized their favorite games into personalized tags. As you might have heard or guessed the tagging system was hijacked and trashed in less than 24 hours with people creating tags like “Casual” to describe the Call of Duty series, creating a “horrible” and “rip off” tag for a few specific games and tagging Dota 2 as “causal” and “League of Legends”. I don’t know what the people at  Valve were expecting to happen.

My personal favorite is the tags for the Secret of the Magic Crystals game

My personal favorite is the tags for the Secret of the Magic Crystals game

 

Both shows the double edge sword of crowd-sourcing and crowdfundingCrowd sourcing has been a big trend in gaming with the inventions of game specific wikis, the success of Kickstarter and support of the community mods and multiple other projects but as good this golden goose looks those examples only showed the best of the highlights of the players. 

What people do not regularly except that there are always going to be jerks out there trying to ruin a perfectly good thing just to get a rise out of the fans. For a great example is the Internet poll, ‘Worst Company In America History’ was rigged by a dedicated few to ensure that Entertainment Arts was guaranteed to win the Golden Poo award for two years in a row.

I remember some miffed that  "too big to fail" Bank of America lost to a video game company

I remember some miffed that “too big to fail” Bank of America lost to a video game company

 

Imagine how Kickstarter projects would turn out if on top of donating money you could also take cash away from the cause, like a real life money pit? Almost nothing would get funded.

I am not discrediting crowdsourcing projects but these two examples shows that, a bit like capitalism, there needs to be some regulation or supervision to weed out the terrible few that threaten to jeopardize the experience for the rest of us.

But going back to Valve,  it looks like the tagging filter system is getting things straighten out, they must have know that it would create a few hiccups….unless they knew that and went ahead with it and used it to generate press from people, each retelling their favorite exploit of the system.


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#339 An Ode to the Handheld

For today’s post I just want to say thank you to the 3DS for being there for me when I needed it the most.

For reference, I wrote this blog post at an office computer after staying the night on the mountain where I work because the nor’easter that just recently slammed the east coast left me stranded here and this was the device that kept me entertained throughout the night.

Before I thought my gaming dedicated laptop was portable compared to the bulky consoles and the desktops with their power cords and monitors setup. And my laptop was a part of my core packing list when ever I was on a weekend college trip but my laptop has nothing to offer over my 3DS in ease and portability when it came to deciding which entertainment device to bring with in the possible event that I was snowed in today, and for all future trips.

It is also a lot more inexpensive than my laptop which means less tears shed if it broke "out on the field

It is also a lot more inexpensive than my laptop which means less tears shed if it broke when I was out and about.

I also want to thank the 3DS, and all handhelds in this case, for not having a mandatory online feature to play games where just having an offline mode just being out of the range of a connectable Wi Fi hotspot. In a world where everything is almost expected to be connected to the internet 24/7 it is nice to have a device that can fully function without constantly checking the game’s servers for verification or multiplayer matches.

Take this game for instance, the online features are nice but it's not needed to get the full experience of the game and it's not the major selling point for the game.

Take this game for instance, the online features are nice, and does improve the game, but it’s not needed to get the full experience of the game and it’s not the major selling point for the game.

Last, but certainly not least I want to thank the 3DS for having backwards compatibility, giving me the option to play from the previous generation’s library while I am still in the process of building a solid library from this gaming generation. It is nice to know that I fall back on the must-haves of the past to keep me entertained until I can justify getting my next 3DS game. I know my little brother won’t see it but thank for unknowingly letting me borrowing your copy of Final Fantasy III and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.

I promise to not write over your save files.

I promise to not write over your save files.

I only played my 3DS at home, usually in the living room, TV room, or away from the my computer desk in my bedroom but when I am forced to find entertainment away from the comfort of my home, it is only then when the features of a dedicated gaming handheld shines through.

While my go to collection of smartphone games like Color Sheep, Beat Hazard, and Super Hexagon are reliable for a quick gaming fix on the go it just can not hold a candle to the equally portable games that have characters, more in dept game-play, and a full story arc from start to finish.


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