Monthly Archives: May 2014

#384 Filler Post: The Voyage Home

Another blatant filler post, so soon? Well it looks like it the spirit of Writer’s Block rolled a natural 20 when it was time for me to sit down and type up anything related to videogames. As a last resort I have use one of my Star Trek themed filler posts just to make sure I do not break my two-year Monday, Wednesday, Friday blogging streak.

Getting back to get back on the USS Enterprise, if I had access to time travel I would go back in time and give my past self some inspiration and enough spare time to write a proper blog post for today.

A petty use for a time machine I know but too many Science Fiction shows the butterfly effect has scared me too much to try to go anywhen else in history

A petty use for a time machine I know but too many Science Fiction that features the butterfly effect has scared me too much to try to go anywhen else in history

 

Be sure to check in next Monday for a proper Be MOP blog post. With the weekend coming up it should enough time to find and stock up on future posts, especially since this year’s E3 is just around the corner.

 


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#383 When Can We Move Away from the Last Gen?

This past few weeks we have seen some impressive modern game releases in the gaming world. Ubisoft’s Watch_Dogs went live and the newest games from the Far Cry  and Lego Batman series were just announced. As expected all of these games are for the current Xbox One and PlayStation 4, generation, but these newest games will also receive a port for the last generation consoles as well. Watch_Dogs was suppose to be a system seller for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, how can Ubisoft do that if people can still buy it on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360?

I believe I have said everything I needed to say about Watch_Dogs. The Lego game now there is a series that has the potential for many more blog posts in the future

I believe I have said everything I needed to say about Watch_Dogs. The Lego game now there is a series that has the potential for many more blog posts in the future

 

I understand that gaming companies do this to get the non-converted players too but It would help the industry more of they ignored the old system and perfected the games on the newer, current systems. Right now we are still in that awkward transitioning phrase where the console gaming community, and by extent the gaming industry, are moving from gaming or making games on one set of systems to another system. As a PC gamer I do not want to bring up the mantra that consoles are hold back the gaming industry but it looks like consoles are holding back themselves. Despite what you personally think of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One’s hardware components we can all agree that the hardware are miles a head than the computer parts used to make the consoles that came out almost ten years ago.

How much content had to be cut to make Watch_Dogs fit on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360? or another way to ask the question is, ‘how much more of the game could have been added if Ubisoft made the game only for the current generation?’ The same question could be asked with the most recent installments of Call of Duty, BattleField or the Lego games. E3 is coming up in less than two weeks and with all events and companies who have waited months to finally announce their latest games, how many of those new titles that will be slated for 2014 and 2015 release date will also be on the last generation? More importantly will the next Skyrim and Fallout, two Bethesda game that are known for their open world exploration, be forced to cut down potential content just so it could be sold to the people who still  have not  upgraded in the next few years? If this trend continues when will we have our first real wave of next-gen games?

At PAX East I heard how the developers pushed the Xbox 360 and PS3 to the limit to make this huge open ended game work on the consoles. Could they do that again on the same systems while trying to raise the bar above Skyrim?

At PAX East I heard how the developers pushed the Xbox 360 and PS3 to the limit to make this huge open-ended game work on the consoles. Could they do that again on the same systems while trying outdo themselves for the next Elder Scrolls game?

 

You would think that, as a PC gamer it should not bother me that much about what the people on the console side of gaming is doing base on the fact I can upgrade my system when ever I want. But because the console market is so influential in the gaming industry, I am anxious for every company to hop on board with the newest version of technology so we can see the next jump in gaming that we have all been promised for a while.

 


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#382 Enough with all the Batmans

This week I will celebrate my one month milestone of consistently streaming four times a week on Twitch. If you have been tuning in on my regular broadcasting times you know that I have been playing the open beta of Turbine’s Action Real Time Strategy (or as other people call them, MOBAs) game for DC Comics, Infinite Crisis.

As a beta tester I feel like it is my duty to voice any comments or concerns I have with the game. I have mentioned numerous times that I am not a professional player by any stretch of the imagination and I do not crunch the numbers so I have no idea what champion’s move sets needs to be buffed or nerfed. For my lack of professional videogame skills I can make it up by being a huge comic book fan. As an avid fan of both DC and Marvel comics I can confidently say to Turbine and DC, Enough with all the Batmans!

Listen I understand, In the 1989/early 90’s we saw the shift in popularity from Superman to Batman, almost overtaking the last son of Krypton as the face of DC comics. Who can blame us? During that time we had quality Batman movies and Television shows aired that introduced a new wave of children and young adults into comic books. DC Comics saw this and used Batman in every way to keep us hooked by diverting a heavy focus on the Caped Crusader. But that Batman popularity force shows in Infinite Crisis and it has a bit of a negative impact on the game, as of writing right now 2/3 of the games maps takes place in Gotham City.

I understand Gotham Divided's map decision, showing the meeting point of two worlds but there was no reason to make Gotham's Height's map to take place in Gotham. That dominion map would have worked in a Metropolis or Central City setting

I understand Gotham Divided’s map decision, showing the meeting point of two worlds that have merged together but there was no reason to have Gotham’s Height’s map  take place in Gotham. That circular map would have worked in a Metropolis or Central City setting

 

But the Bat-force does not just stop there, in the character selection screen we currently have 11 characters from the Batman series, with Green Lantern being the runner-up with 5 characters from his comic books and Superman follows up next with only 4 representatives.

To only prove my point even more in the Robin profile Turbine made sure to mention that this Robin was Tim Drake (the third Robin) leaving themselves open for a Nightwing, Red Hood, and another Robin. Not to mention the Atomic Age Joker that has been used in the advertising of the game.

To only prove my point even more in the Robin profile Turbine made sure to mention that this Robin was Tim Drake (the third Robin) leaving themselves open for a Nightwing, Red Hood, and another Robin. Not to mention the Atomic Age Joker that has been used in the advertising of the game.

 

Turbine has the licence to use all of the DC creations in their game plue the 2-3 new universes they created for this game. I want to see them use the most of it. I want them to introduce new non-Batman characters, like Lex Luthor, Kyle Rayner, Saint Walker, Darkseid, The Trickster, Metallo, and Black Manta. Or utilize their already introduced champions with the Gaslight and Nightmare worlds that they have already made. This is not just me belly aching, expanding your roster from beyond the usual suspect will benefit you and DC comics.

I will let all in on a little secret, the Batman Animated Series did not get me into comic books, it only got me to tune in for the next episode or movie . It was the Justice League Unlimited with the introduction of all the extras that finally got me interested in following comics, if only  to figure out the back story of The Question, Huntress, Doctor Fate, and Orion.

Not to leave Marvel out but their Civil War event was the first comicbook trade I ever bought and that did the same thing, it showed me a world of other characters that had their own back stories and experiences that you had to go read for yourself.

Not to leave Marvel out but their Civil War event was the first comic book trade I ever bought and that did the same thing, it showed me a world of other characters that had their own back stories and experiences that you had to go out read/research for yourself.

 

If Turbine add these B and C list heroes and get the players interested in those characters enough to go on to the Wiki pages and eventually pick up some actual comic books you will have an invested user base that will help support the game, the parent company (DC Comics), and any new caped videogames that comes out during Infinite Crisis’s run.

So Turbine please, cool it with the Batmans for a while.

 


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#381 Applauding Poker Night’s Policy on Unlockables

This past week I have been playing my fair share of Poker Night 2 for the sake of getting through my backlog for the month of May (Be MOP #372). I have played and completed the first Poker Night at the Inventory and I bought the second Poker Night a long while ago and I played a bit of it but I did not get through everything, which is why I am returning to the series for this month. Since I returned to Poker Night 2 and comparing it the other games the entire Poker Night series is amazing if you think about it.

I was talking to my friend about this the other night, and we had a little bit of an argument about whether or not TellTale’s games fell under the indie category like he believes  because they publish their own games or , as I argue, because of how big they are, TellTale has transcended to ‘small gaming company’ status. No matter how you slice it was amazing that even with their first Poker Night game they were able to recruit the star power for the various NPCs you played poker with. The first game had  Max, from Sam and Max, Gabe of Penny Arcade, TF2’s Heavy Weapons guy, and Strong Bad. And they were able to get more recognizable and higher profile characters for the sequel.

 I am sure that TellTale had the voice actors of Sam, MAX, and Strong Bad on speed dial from the point and click adventure games but is was still impressive that they  got them to come back and agreed to use their licence.

I am sure that TellTale had the voice actors of Sam, MAX, and Strong Bad on speed dial from the past point and click adventure games but is was still impressive that they got them to come back and agreed to use their licence and everyone’s image

 

Which is also impressive that the small gaming company was able to persuade Valve and Gearbox to include multiple cosmetic hats which was one of the major selling point for everyone else who did not want to hear the voice and banter of Strong Bad for one last time. More importantly what I appreciate about the game is TellTale’s policy when it comes to the Team Fortress 2 and Borderlands 2 item unlockables, both Poker Night games makes you earn your fancy cosmetic rewards by playing the game and going through challenges.

In the first game, the ability to unlock Gabe’s Spy Watch or my beloved Soviet era Heavy gun (Be MOP #254) was purely luck based, at the start of every poker match there was a chance the game would trigger an event for one of the NPCs to forget the bring any money, resulting them in using their specific item as collateral to enter the game. In order to win the item you had to bust out that NPC from the tournament to unlock for your TF2 account. Which meant you could (and I did) just reset the poker tournament until the you got the item you wanted and just play aggressively towards that one NPC until you busted him out.

The second game fixed this little reset exploit and made the rewards be a result of more skill than luck, with three randomly chosen objectives and once you complete all of them the item event would happen in the next match and you had to win the tournament to win the item.  I do like this process more, even though it can result in more RNG madness

this was the last three objectives to go through for the last Poker Night 2 these, these just so happen to be the toughest challenges in the game

these are the last three objectives to go through for the last Poker Night 2 these, these just so happen to be the toughest challenges in the game

 

Still I wish that more games on Steam would follow this practice, giving you the cosmetic hat or piece of flair only for after beating the game or completing a certain achievement rather than just placing a preorder on the game. I think this opinion comes from my years of playing WoW and only getting that special mount after earning a meta achievement for a raid or killing the end game boss on Hard mode. On top of TellTale’s commitment to hold cross games items behind achievements and because Telltale can not ruin something as simple as the Poker system in a game, this is one of the few game series that I would buy the sequel to on Day One if (when) Tell Tales release a third Poker Night at the Inventory game.

 

I still won't pace a preorder because even through I play a lot of online I still wont gamble on a promise of a game....even if the bet is a lock

I still won’t pace a preorder because even though I play a lot of online I still won’t gamble on a promise of a game….even if the bet is a lock

 


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#380 Finally buying a 3DS game through Nintendo’s eShop

Well it finally happened ladies and gentlemen, after months of owning my 3DS got around to buying a completely digital game through Nintendo’s eShop store. Those of you might remember that I wrote a post about my concerns about the 3DS store before (Be MOP #335) so what changed? The short answer is -as always- Pokemon. During my annual spring cleaning I found my old copies of Pokemon White, Emerald, and Fire Red and with the recent announcement of the long-awaited Hoenn remake I thought that now would be the perfect time to cave in and commit to buying a Season Pass for the Pokebank, Nintendo’s latest service for transferring Pokemon on the DS titles to the newer and fancier 3DS titles and any new titles in the future.

 

Pokemon might be the only driving force to convince Nintendo fans to upgrade to the newest model or device. Now Nintendo just needs to release or hint at a New Pokemon IP for the Wii U

Pokemon might be the only driving force to convince Nintendo fans to upgrade to the newest model or device. Now Nintendo just needs to release or hint at a New Pokemon IP for the Wii U

Sidenote: No screenshots in this post. because as I ranted before the 3DS does not support the ability to take screenshots of the store or any other software and I did not want to take pictures of my 3DS screen through my phone.

I soon found out that I could not just buy the Pokebank directly from the store, in a truly evil move my Nintendo and some other video game companies, if  you want to buy the item from the store you have to purchase credits of increments of 10, 20, 35, 50 dollars before entering the shop’s checkout line. The PokeBank cost was $4.99 as a result I was forced to buy the ten dollar credit. After confirming my purchase for the yearly pass I was left with $5.01 on the account and I wanting a new game for my 3DS I decided to pick up the Virtual Console version Super Mario Bros 3. A classic videogame that I have not played yet, but I blame that on the fact that it came out a year before I was born and that by the time I started playing videogames Super Mario Bros. 3 was two gaming generations away.

The PROPER sequel to the first Super Mario Bros

The PROPER sequel to the first Super Mario Bros

 

Now I am left with two pennies trapped on my eShop account that I will never use again, a common result in games with heavy micro transactions or in-game shop where game forces you to trade in common and perfectly normal currency for their specific brand of credits. I would go on ranting about this videogame sin but compared to all the other practices the video game industry I am tempted to let this problem slide under the radar for now and that is saying something.

So where does that put us now, with one season pass and one completely digital game purchase later? Well I am a bit open to the idea of buying cheap and indie games on the 3DS through the eShop, but only as an additional or consolation prize when I want to buy a digital exclusive game (like the newest Pokemon Battle Trozei game) but when it comes to the full priced, proper 3DS game I am sticking to process of going to my local game shop and buy physical copies of the game. Because if my 3DS gets stolen or damaged beyond repair or recovery I can be assured that my most expensive games are on currently resting on my shelf in my room. On top of that the 3DS games on the cartridges are DRM free, which is not only important to me when it comes to handing down games to my little brothers, but a concept that I believe in and I should find every excuse to support that idea whether it comes to preaching about the topic at the last paragraph of a blog post or by voting for it with my wallet.

 


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#379 Boston FIG 2014

Consider this Monday blog post a PSA to the East Coast gamers that are interested in attending and supporting another growing videogame event in Boston. This past week tickets for Boston Festival of Indie Games just went on sales and now I using that bit of news as an excuse to talk about this event.  Come this September The Boston Festival of Indie Games, or Boston FIG for short, will mark the third year of showcasing new and still in progress video and board games of up and coming independent game developers.

 because there is no way of isolating your entire readership than by limiting the blog post to a geographical location

because there is no way of isolating your entire readership than by limiting the blog post to one specific geographical location

 

Last year I decided to attend Boston FIG on a whim not expecting much from it but an impromptu field trip turned into an amazing day in Boston. While I was at the event  I sat in on some interesting panels and talks for East Coast game developers, the convention was the first place I discovered the Extra Life charity drive, and in videogame expo hall I got to meet the creator of one of my favorite indie games that came out that year, Neocolonialism, and to wrap things up the whole festival was followed by a small -but still rocking- videogame concert by the Dubstep artist DJ Cutman and  musician behind The Bastion’s soundtrack, Darren Korb  at a local club.

it was an odd paring to have "Mother I'm Here (Zulfs Theme) follow a dubstep performance but it worked out through the magic of videogames

it was an odd pairing to have “Mother I’m Here (Zulf’s Theme) follow a dubstep performance but it worked out through the magic of videogames

 

I would not be doing my own self appointed duty as a New England blogger if I did not try to promote every start-up East Coast /Boston videogame event that I stumble upon. As I mentioned before this year’s tickets are currently on sale at ten dollars per person or $7.50 if you buy two or more tickets. My brother and I have already bought our tickets and have already started the countdown and I hope that you attend as well.

If you are interested be warned from my experience last year is that this is a gaming convention with a very niche demographic, so if you are not an aspiring video game developers that wants to rub elbows and network with fellow game developers in the area or if you not are a videogame player that loves indie games and what to see the newest indie games that are currently in the works, you might not have as much to gain from attending this conventions as say…someone who have already wrote dozens and dozens of blog posts professing his love of the indie gaming scene.

Even after all of that if you are still interested I hope you can find time and a way over to Boston for this event because the East Coast desperately needs more of a presence in the videogame industry. One of the best way to do that is by attending these events, boasting the numbers of attendees, and showing the videogame companies on the West Coast and around the States that it is financially viable to host more videogame events in Boston.

 


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#378 I Spy a growing problem with GameSpy shutting down.

Another news story broke earlier this week with EA officially pulling server support for dozens and dozens of their titles by June 30th 2014, following the announcement that the online matchmaking service, GameSpy, will be closing down at the end of May on top of Nintendo will be moving forward in their plans to phase out Wii and Nintendo DS’s Nintendo Wi-Fi connection by May 20th.

A handy chart of all the Pokemon related content and services going away in the next few days

A handy chart of all the Pokemon related content and services going away in the next few days

 

This is not a new issue and with the next-gen consoles becoming this-gen, one of  gaming company’s current elephants in the meeting room is the question, ‘how long can or should these companies supply support to these old online games after creating a gaming generation with an emphasis on online play?”

On the business side, these video game companies -despite what some people think- do have limited amount of money and they cannot expect to run these servers in-house forever, especially when some of these games are pushing ten years old. but I do believe these companies have some sort of duty to continue providing service to the paying consumers who bought a game with such a heavy focus on online play.

We now have games that sell themselves on the focus on online multiplayer. I do not remember anyone buying Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, or TitanFall for the single player story they were bought because they were used a portal to a new world of online play. This trend is partly because of the advancement of internet speed and access but also because of the console company’s choice to focus more on the online play which is not a bad thing, but it does come with the responsibility to care for the product after the game is no longer topping the charts? This is not just  a problem for EA and Activision but for all AAA gaming companies with at least some bit of online support whether it be; online multiplayer,  any exclusive DLC content or digital patches will have to face with the upcoming shift from Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

More importantly, what will happen in the gaming community when people who bought a game for the excuse to play online can longer have that ability to connect to the servers, like in the eventual phasing out of the Xbox Live and PlayStation network. What will the reaction when the from all the Halo 4 fans, and the Call of Duty Ghost players when no longer log on to their servers because the network that both games use for online play have gone offline? Not to mention the reaction from the players who will no longer have access to and retrieve or redownload all the indie, digital only games and DLC packs that they have already bought through XBL and PSN

Call me a history fanatic for my love of preservation the past and my concern with this the now obsolete games, but this issue will only be brought up again with more and more gaming services going offline and no longer playable. I wish I had an easy solution to fix this problem, the first go to answer would be to have every gaming company go the way of Valve and let the community have the ability to host servers of their favorite map. The problem is then to execute a major content patch for all consoles that changes exactly how these consoles connects to the internet and which 3rd party servers it connects to, a thought that Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony will not seriously entertain for long.

 


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