Tag Archives: Spencer Nozell

#525 Questions raised by Valve’s new Paid Mods

The PC gaming side of the internet had an explosion yesterday with the with Valve’s announcement of their launching of the paid player generated mods for Skyrim, with the Fallout and future games in mind. The internet is not happy about this business move from Valve and Steam, and rightfully so.

Mods has been a staple to one of the best arguments for choosing PC gaming over console gaming, on top of the over all better hardware and software systems that PCs has over the consoles; the backwards compatibility to play any game from your childhood to the most recent AAA title that launched last weeks, the community mods scene were always the third corner to the trifecta of PC gaming, breathing countless additional hours of game play back into those year old games. Skyrim and Fallout are almost synonymous with their mods, from their graphical improvements to the novelty mods, people like myself will buy the game for the mods instead of the main game.

steam paid mod

But Valve’s asking the community to start pumping out paid content, by installing a forcing a new market into the Steam Workshop seems….greedy at best and evil at worst.

This one move might cause serious repercussions within the greater gaming world. We might see mods artists who do this for free, or because it is a passion project, be pressured to monetized by Steam and by the market to get recognized. Also we now open up a can of worms within the modding scene about money, because money always complicates everything,and questions that are now raised that were never asked until yesterday.

First there was the reveal that Valve/Steam takes a 75% cut of all paid mod’s profits and there is a $100 payout limit so only time that a paid modder can cash out all their earnings is when they make $100, or to put it the other way, when their mod programs grossed $400 or more in the market place.

steam 75

Why is Valve taking 75% off the transaction? Valve mentioned that it is going to be split between Valve, for hosting the program on their servers and the game company of the vanilla game but what is the spit between companies? Why is the cut so high?

With the fact that Steam now has a premium mods that are behind a paywall, will we now start to see Steam start to phase out or DRM lock games to only use steam approved/bought mods? The biggest competition to valve right now is NexusMods which has thousands and thousands of mods available for free, and the easiest way to stop that competition, to gain maximum profits, would be to ban those third party mods from the games the Valve hosts.

How will steam make sure that these mods actually work with the main game? This is now a product sold by steam and now there is some responsibility of product assurance because unlike proper DLC, which is made and QA’d by the same team that made the game, mods are community made and they might be coding something that breaks something deep within the game’s engine. How will Steam handle the complaints from the paying community when a published mod does not work, or worst when a the game patches with an update and waves and waves becomes obsolete?

The funny thing is that I, and we the gaming community, would not be demanding these questions if Valve did not make this one move to build a paywall but these questions. but these type of questions needs answers in order to build trust for this new market. I guess, in hindsight, we saw the prototype to paid mods back with community made hats and cosmetic items sold in the marketplace in TF2 and Dota 2 respectfully, but this entire paid mod program looks like crowd sourced microtransactions for single player games, which is something I would see from EA.

oh yes, I just went there

oh yes, I just went there


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#523 Here’s to the Mature Games

Grand Theft Auto V’s PC edition and Mortal Kombat X has both launched and for the both of them I wish their launches  the best of luck and I will hopefully pick up GTA V PC later, when it is featured in one of steam’s famous seasonal sale sessions and once I build a better computer that can handle Rockstar Game’s newest game at 1080p resolution at 60 frames per seconds.

Since their first editions of GTA and Mortal Kombat both game series has received their fair share controversies over the years. From claims from promoting and encouraging violent activity and negatively impacting how the player view and interact with reality to being too gruesome for the players.

In the past few months and recent years we have seen a push to try to make the videogame world more grown – up and artistic, tackling social and economical issues of the real world and society and a noticeable push back against the violent games and games with sex appeal. The news stories that came out around the time of MKX, GTA V, Hotline Miami II and Bayonetta comes to mind.

Despite the fact that several scientific studies have found that playing violent or high sex appeal videogames does NOT make the players more aggressive or sexists, we still come back to this conversation with every new mature game.

At this time I just want to take this time to congratulate and applaud all these mature games, From first person games taking place in setting that mimics the conflicts that are taking place in other corners of the world, to fantasy games with questionable story lines or themes, and games with an unnecessary blood and depiction of violence.

Thank you to Rockstar for making a sandbox game where you can commit felonies in detail, thank you to Platinum Star for creating a female character who is confident enough and has achieved Self-Actualization to fight demons from the deepest corners of hell while confidently showing off the assets she has, and thank you to the people behind Hotline Miami 2 for having just the right amount of too much violence and blood.

Thank you to the game developers for making all these hyper violent and hyper sexualized games for us to enjoy and more importantly making the decision to make their games even within this gaming political environment. I respect the self confidence in a game that realize their main selling points might not be for everyone, or might get blowback from some people, and then going ahead and advertising it anyways.

Being mature means doing what you want, choosing to be violent as you want but realizing that there will are challenges that you will have to face, taking responsibility, and deciding if it worth it to go ahead and do what you want anyways. Not every mature, or any game needs to face important contemporary issues (or have them in there in the first place) and these games knows what sometime people just want a videogame to have fun by performing ridiculous over the top acts of violence that either, like the case of Mortal Kombat, physically could not perform or, like in GTA V, could not commit and still carry on with their normal non-felony life.


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#520 The Pickings from Wave 4 Amiibos

The newest wave of Amiibos are just around the corner, May 29th to be precise, and with that I have to evaluate which Amiibos are worth picking up.

I have done this with every Amiibos waves, from the first wave I was able to secure my Smash main plus a handful of others, I chose Princess Zelda from all of Wave 2, and I went on a bit of an adventures in the search for Mega Man and and the Golden Mario amiibo from Wave 3. Now with a month away I get to do the same thing this this batch,  this wave we have Wario, Charizard, Pac-man, Ness, Robin, and Lucina.

 I have to evaluate all the waves so I don't go out and buy all of them (there were so many times I picked up Sheik and Sonic for no other reasons besides just to have more amiibos)

I have to evaluate all the waves so I don’t go out and buy all of them (there were so many times I picked up Sheik and Sonic for no other reasons besides just to have more amiibos)

This time next month I am going to try my hardest to secure a Pac-man Amiibo for a variety of reasons: He is a video game veteran, I like his play style in Smash and he might be the first Amiibo after Star Fox that I will be leveling up to 50 in Smash. Before I watched the April Nintendo Direct the biggest purchasing point would have been that Pac-man, like Mega Man, would NEVER have any non-smash support from Nintendo. That was my plan until Nintendo casually mentioned  that both of these two 3rd party Smash champs will be getting their own Mii racing costumes with the next patch to Mario Kart 8.

I'm still not letting Mega Man out of his box until we get a Amiibo Supported Wii U or 3DS Mega Man game

I’m still not letting Mega Man out of his box until we get a Amiibo Supported Wii U or 3DS Mega Man game

Maybe my initial outlook on third party, and the less popular amiibos, being left out in the cold while Mario and his gang gets constant support for every future game might have been wrong. It could be quite possible that Nintendo does have a plan to bring non-smash support to every one of their amiibos, so far we have Fire Emblem support in Codename S.T.E.A.M and amiibo support for the other third party game, One Piece: Super Grand Battle X.

So there is some hope out there out there for constant across the board first and third party support for every amiibo on the market.

I don't count games like "Amiibo Touch & Play : Nintendo Classics Highlights" as a proper amiibo supported game, because just like the 'Masterpiece' feature in Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, it is only there to promote and sell other eshop games.

I don’t count games like “Amiibo Touch & Play : Nintendo Classics Highlights” as a proper amiibo supported game, because just like the ‘Masterpiece’ feature in Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, it is only there to promote and sell other eshop games.


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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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#508 Do not play Pokemon Shuffle

I talked about Pokemon Shuffle on last Friday’s blog post,but I am returning back to writing about this game after spending an entire weekend playing Pokemon Shuffle and then waiting to play Pokemon Shuffle over and over again. The 3DS exclusive Pokemon Shuffle game is one of the few Free to Play games on the handheld’s market and it is nothing short than an evil game packaged inside of a Skinner’s Box.

The game makes the unholy F2P gameplay gating mechanic, limiting your play sessions to five turns before having to wait a half hour to earn back on more attempt. You take that and then you add the Random Number Generator factor when you want to catch the pokemon of the stage, to add to your collection and you get the worst example B. F. Skinner’s experiment.

I suspect that the game devs behind this game purposely skewed some of the catch percentages on the Pokemon needed to progress in the harder levels.

I suspect that the game devs behind this game purposely skewed some of the catch percentages on the Pokemon needed to progress in the harder levels. which is nothing less than evil

The game is filled with freemium upselling suggestions and microtransaction reminders. The game suckers you in with rewards, in the form of Freemium currency and in-game coins in the style of “the first one’s free” and for opting-in the program that sends your play session data to Nintendo, in what I assume to be for future data mining purposes.

But all that being said…

Pokemon Shuffle is  a great game. It is fun collecting and building your Pokemon collection and using your Pokemon’s type advantage to wipe the floor against the latest challenge.

The game also gets major points for having fun and interesting mechanics in a potentially simple match three game, some Pokemon stages limiting the number of Pokemon you can bring in while other stages freezes a handful of your block every few turns. Pokemon Shuffle also adds the Mega Evolution twist with bringing a Pokemon into a stage, and once you matched enough of that one Pokemon it unlocks it’s almost overpowered abilities of clearing an entire column or row.

The game also has a truly difficult expert mode, that made me sweat and focus more on the game than any other point while playing the story campaign. On top of that Pokemon Shuffle has free post-launch support in the form of special promotional legendary Pokemon stages. I would gladly grind through those stages over and over again, if it was not for the fact that I am limited to five attempts per play session.

I can not recommend this game to anyone in fear that they get as hooked on the game as I am, which would send the wrong type of data to both Nintendo and Pokemon company on how to build a good Free to Play game. Instead of a Pokemon Shuffle going free to play I would rather have the game include an in store item that unlocked the entire game with no Free to Play gimmicks. More importantly I can not wait for Puzzle and Dragons Z to be released soon, because from what I have seen Puzzle and Dragons Z is all of Pokemon Shuffle, move type advantage and all, with none of the constant upselling.


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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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#504 Gone PAXin’

If you are reading this, it means that I am currently in Boston enjoying my first day at PAX East.

If you are interested in following me and my adventures navigating through the expo hall and my thoughts on all the panels, people and parties IN REAL TIME you can follow me on my Twitter page @Snozell. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be tweeting about anything and everything in between.

Street passes and proper Boston style pizza, here I COME

Street passes and proper Boston style pizza, here I COME

 And be sure to check back here this Monday for my thoughts on the new games I saw and the event on a whole


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#503 The Mega Man White Whale

This past weekend I did an unprecedented thing, I woke up early on a Saturday morning when I had a no third party obligation to do so. I woke up early to travel to the next city over’s Best Buy to finally capture my current white whale, an Amiibo of the Blue Bomber for my very own.

As I wrote during the last time I talked about Nintendo’s newest wave collectible figurines, I wanted the Mega Man Amiibo only to buy him Ironically. As it is established, Mega Man is a part of the Smash Bros character roster who is a third party Intellectual Properties. From how we have seen Nintendo’s rocky-at-best relationship with other gaming companies and how CAPCOM handle Mega Man’s future games I can almost guarantee that Mega Man will have no Amiibo support for any non-smash game during the Wii U life cycle.

In fact I bought him because of that, same reason when Duck Hunt comes out. because someone has to buy their are so few officially licensed products.

In fact I bought him because of that, same reason when Duck Hunt comes out. because someone has to buy their are so few officially licensed products.

 

With Mega Man in my possession, I can now stop activly hunting Amiibos and constantly thinking about Amiibos at least for a while.

No more weekend Amiibo hunting trips with my younger brother going up and down every toy store in town, no more casual drive by to stores before and after work. No more searching and constantly refreshing the pages of Twitter, Reddit, and Amazon hoping to find an online store that had Mega Man in stock. I  was so close to caving in and buying from a Amazon scalper at twice the price.

Most importantly of all I can stop worrying out the terrible thought of missing my window of opportunity of securing the Amiibo I want before Nintendo stops producing him and the demand, and cost goes through the roof.  I can put all that fret and worry behind me because I have him now. Currently displayed on my makeshift Amiibo shelf, only to be taken out of his box when a New 3DS or Wii U game is released that specially support him.

He has to earn his freedom

He has to earn his freedom



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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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#500 Thank You PAX East #Thankacreator

Boogie2988 recently created the #Thankacreator hashtag, and in his video he explained that the purpose of the Hashtag was to use the Internet to spread a little bit of positivity around the net by personally thanking your favorite entertainer and content creator. This will be my fifth year attending PAX East, and every time it has been able to one up itself in terms of content and entertainment. For my 500th blog post I would like to dedicate this post to the wonderful people who planned and execute the PAX East Expo each year.

pax east black

Thank you people behind PAX for organizing and supplying enough content and entertainment to last for a three day weekend.

For years the PAX Staff has constantly reached out to Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, the other major videogame companies, and gaming personalities to fill up the expo hall to the brim and still have enough panels constantly running in every theater from open to close. I have participated my fair share of event planning for my small college and I can only imagine the nightmare of negotiating with these Triple A game companies and major videogame celebrities living and working in different time zones around the world to make sure everyone shows up and are happy with the PAX East accommodations.

It does not go unnoticed

It does not go unnoticed

Thank you PAX East for making such a welcoming place.

I attended my first PAX East when I was well into college and at that time I overcame my insecurities about being a geek, by the time I first walked through the front door of the BECE. But I can see the importance of an event that is all about a celebrating and embracing everything it means to being a gamer, a nerd, or a geek to a middle or high school student who might might still get picked on or bullied in class for still playing Pokemon or Magic the Gathering

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And despite what the news might claim, PAX East has always been a safe environment for any and everyone, with enforcers stationed everywhere, offering help if needed and checking and evaluating every prop weapon to making sure that they could not harm anyone. I have seen harassers that have attended panels be dealt quickly and responsibly, even this past year, with the aftermath of the Boston Bombing, PAX had upped security but as an attendee, I never felt restricted while I was there.

But most importantly, I would like to thank Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins for giving East Coasters something, anything videogame related.

America’s East coast kinda gets shafted when it comes to videogame conventions, with all the major events; E3, Comic Con, GDC, BLIZZCON, and even the recently announced TwitchCon choosing to stay in California. So thank you Penny Arcade for all that you have done in regards to launching and continuously supporting an event that people from New England to Florida can look forward during the spring of every year. While I do not speak for them, I assume many Southerners and Australians gamers share the same sentiment.

I don't see the appeal in California. East coast has the best Pizza and Sea food.

I don’t see the appeal in California. East coast has the best Pizza and Seafood.


I’m also on Twitter

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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