Tag Archive for games

To play, perchance to game!

Perchance To GameThe voting went well. I’m playing Bastion now, and if you are friends with me on Steam you’ve probably seen and will continue to see me sharing screenshots. I’ve also begun writing about the game, making sure I jot down my feelings as I go rather than try to do it all at the end. Most importantly, though, I’m playing.

I hadn’t realized how much I missed gaming. Going through these Humble Bundle games is going to be great fun. But in additional to that, I’ve still got a bunch of Xbox games and other non-Bundle games to play. I need to start kicking more TV shows to the curb and playing more games!

Anyway, this post also serves to just say that voting is still open, so you can still help me set my next game, and the game after that, and the game after that, and so on… And there will be more polls in the future, because I would be insane to have installed an plug-in for WordPress to just use once.

Choose My Adventure

Supercomputer-CYOAI am addicted to the Humble Bundles. I have bought them all and played none of them. I always intend to play them, but now I am faced with a giant list of games and no way to decide for myself which one to start with. So, dear readers, I turn to you.

Please take a moment, check out this list and vote for as many as 5 games. The game with the most votes will be the one that I play first, then the one with the next most, and so on, until I run out of games or feel the need to post another poll. As incentive, I promise to review each game that I play, thus giving you more things to read at this blog.

Which game should I play next?

  • Torchlight (13%, 6 Votes)
  • Psychonauts (9%, 4 Votes)
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Braid (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Dungeons of Dredmor (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Space Pirates and Zombies (4%, 2 Votes)
  • VVVVVV (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Legend of Grimrock (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Super Meat Boy (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Cortex Command (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Gratuitous Space Battles (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Darwinia (4%, 2 Votes)
  • TRAUMA (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Jamestown (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Osmos (2%, 1 Votes)
  • LIMBO (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Frozen Synapse (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Dungeon Defenders (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Trine (2%, 1 Votes)
  • SpaceChem (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Cave Story+ (2%, 1 Votes)
  • BIT.TRIP RUNNER (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Samorost 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shatter (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shank (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Shadowgrounds (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Machinarium (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Snapshot (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Uplink (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Vessel (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Wizorb (0%, 0 Votes)
  • World of Goo (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Gish (0%, 0 Votes)
  • And Yet It Moves (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Atom Zombie Smasher (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Basement Collection (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Closure (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Cogs (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe (0%, 0 Votes)
  • DEFCON (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Dustforce (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Rochard (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Hammerfight (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lone Survivor (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Lugaru HD (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Aquaria (0%, 0 Votes)
  • NightSky (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Offspring Fling (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Penumbra: Overture (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Revenge of the Titans (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 19

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I’ll be playing these games on Steam, so if you are also on Steam, feel free to add me as a friend. I go by Jhaer over there.

Thank you for your time.

Removing Grouping – Part I

Before anyone freaks out, no, I’m not advocating solo play, nor am I actually suggesting that the grouping mechanic be removed from games.  This is simply a thought exercise.  This and the posts that follow in this series will take a look at aspects of what grouping bringstechnologically and if we can retain it while removing the mechanic of forming a formal group unit.

Note: Please keep in mind that all discussion that follows is from my own experience, so if I mention that some game did something first, don’t yell at me because some game I never played actually did it first.  Who did what first is actually irrelevant to the discussion.

The first element that comes to mind for me is communications.  Joining a group in most games provides you with a group only chat channel.  At one time this was necessary because it grew out of the design.  Some games originally only had two forms of communication: local and whisper.  Local would be just saying things and the people in range (in the room or on the screen) would see it.  Whisper was something you said directly to another player and only that person could see it.  Occasionally, games would have yelling or shouting, allowing people in adjacent rooms to see; and global, usually used by GMs to inform the entire game/server of something.  But onceEverQuest came out, and local became distance limited and shout covered only the single zone, and the game had a formal group object, they needed a way for group members to talk to each other across zones without using masses of whispers and relaying information.  Since then, most games now have the ability for players to create their own chat channels for any reason at all.  With that, rigid group chat isn’t strictly needed anymore.  Sure, its nice to have a channel you automatically join when you join a group, but since part of this is to eliminate group joining, we’ve established that the communications, if needed/desired, can be handled without the formal group.

In fact, to some degree, players don’t seem to care about group chat anymore.  When it comes to raiding or even guild chat, many people (though certainly not the casual majority) have moved over to 3rd party voice chat like Ventrilo.  This contributes to games becoming more “silent”, in my opinion, as members of your group may be happily chatting with their friends while they button push their group role with you.  I’d say this, on some level, is borne out by the recent LFG tool implement in World of Warcraft.  In that tool you can easily, almost instantly, get a group and go run a dungeon.  However, those players may be from different servers, so social interaction becomes less important beyond the dungeon and the combat happening “right now” since you are not likely to play with them again.  That is, unless they love playing with you so much, or you with them, that one of you decides to pay to move their character to a new server.  Given this, WoWcould remove group chat today and replace it with a Wizard 101 style of menu selectable phrases (“Thanks!”, “Help!”, “Kill this [insert target monster]!”, etc) and most people wouldn’t be adversely affected by the change.  They might even welcome it since the silence of a group could simply mean that everyone knows what to do and how to play, and not that people are being anti-social.

Designed to Grow

As an offshoot to the discussion over at Psychochild’s blog concerning Dread and Hope in Lord of the Rings Online, I wanted to expand on something I touched on in my comments there.

Originally, dread and hope in LotRO was a flavor.  It danced around the edges of your play.  You would run into a little dread and have to find a way to combat it, either through adding hope or just by more cautious play, going slow instead of rushing in due to your reduced stats making your character less effective.  However, as the game has expanded and they’ve raised level caps and added new content, they fell into the same trap that has caught every other game.  Dread and hope aren’t just flavor anymore, they are now a core mechanic.  There is content you cannot participate in without enough hope, so people are forced to wear the radiant gear that provides it, limiting choices.  In the future, I expect as people complain about not having choices, more hope gear will become available so that it opens up more choices to the players, which in turn will trivialize hope and it will become like the other stats on items: mostly ignored as long as you keep enough of it around.

The failing here, at least in my opinion, is that they designed something that was pretty awesome as a flavor to the game, that added a narrative and story element to the game that also was based in the mechanics of play, but didn’t, in their core initial design, plan for expansion.  Because they didn’t leave room for the core to grow, they’ve had to co-opt the flavor and make it core in order to give players somewhere to advance that wasn’t just more of the same.  Personally, I liked dread and hope the way they were, and feel they’ve lost something with it becoming “just another stat” that characters min/max.

Of course, I’m also a proponent of games with less “advancement” (usually found in the form of grinding levels and stats, mathematical increases) and more “story” (more places to go, more things to do).  For me, gear in games is just the tool that allows me to pass the artificial barriers the designers placed in game to wall off content.  I’d prefer they didn’t wall off the content and just let me experience it as I came to it.  But then, MMOs make their money off time invested under the subscription model, and if they allowed me to play the whole game at the speed I wanted, they’d get less of my time, but more of my support, which, ironically gets them more of my money as I’m more likely to remain subscribed to a game with lots to see and great story over one that is just a gear grind-fest.

Anyway, back to my original point… most games seem to run into this as they mudflate, as each expansion raises the level cap and they go looking for new ways for people to need to grind out more gear.  They co-opt every element of design and turn them all into points on a scale and suck all the fun and flavor out of them.  I dread games that grow like this, and hope games in the future can avoid it.

Blog Banter: The Box versus the Digital Download

Always looking for sources of things to talk about, I’ve joined up with a group of other bloggers to do a monthly blog banter topic where we all post on the same subject.

Welcome, welcome to the 6th installment of Blog Banter, the monthly blogging extravaganza headed by bs angel! Blog Banter involves our cozy community of enthusiastic gaming bloggers, a common topic, and a week to post articles pertaining to said topic. The results are quite entertaining and can range from deep insight to ROFLMAO. Any questions about Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

Topic: Digital distribution of games vs. buying physical boxes and discs, which do you prefer and why?

If you had asked me this question years ago, my answer would have been physical boxes with no hesitation, as my closet full of game boxes will attest.  But then again, years ago, digital downloading could be iffy. Downloading a game once from some random website wouldn’t guarantee that you could get the game again later if you needed to.

That’s the main reason I always went for the physical box.  Once I have the box, as long as I don’t lose it, I can install and play that game whenever I want.  Every once in a while, I’ll pull out one of those boxes even now and throw down with an hour or two of Myst or Evil Genius or some other game you may not be able to find in stores anymore.

Of course, many of those games I own boxes for are available on GameTap now, so I don’t need my box, I just need to keep my $59.95 a year subscription active and I can play any of their 1000+ games whenever I want, on any machine I install the GameTap client on.  I’m a proud user of Steam, where I get my occasional fix of Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 (games I don’t own boxes for) among others.  And with my Xbox360, well, I don’t fear Microsoft going out of business anytime soon, so I buy downloadable content through them, which I can always redownload.

But back to that main reason… being able to install and play any time I want.  If EA has their way, that’ll be a thing of the past.  SecuROM is actually going to make me not purchase Spore, a game I have been dying to play, because its some of the most idiotic copy protection I have ever heard about.  Similar problems crept up when Bioshock was released, the copy protection invalidating the game, which could be avoided by either getting the console version or by going through Steam.

I guess in the end, what I am saying it… assuming the source for the digital distribution will stick around, or that I can burn my own copy of the download for safe keeping, I don’t mind not getting a physical box anymore.

Check out these other Blog Banter articles! Living Epic, Silvercublogger, Mahogany Finish, Video Game Sandwich, thoughts and rants, XboxOZ360, Zath!, Delayed Responsibility, Gamer Unit, Hawty McBloggy, Triage Effect.

Crafting and Mini-games

I could swear I’ve posted about using mini-games for tradeskills before, but damned if I can’t find it. Not here, not on blogs I frequent, not on message boards I visit.

In any event, what I’ve posted before is that I don’t agree with either extreme. World of Warcraft’s click and create method is just so lifeless, no skill required at all. Then there are games like EQ2 which required you to “battle” your crafting every single time (no idea if this has changed, but that’s how it was when I last played).

What I think I would love to see is a system where a mini-game is used to set a “quality” bar, or several to set several bars, and then click and create to actually craft the items. Expertise in the mini-game would equate to better crafting, but once set you wouldn’t have to play over and over just to make items if you are happy with the items you are making.

Anyway, not going in to much depth here, just a broad stroke idea… thoughts?

The Music of My Youth

Okay, so this is going in the Gaming category, but only because it didn’t really fit into Random Thoughts, and it does actually have something to do with games. I’m not normally one to post about crap I see on the internet, but this I just had to put up.

Nintendo Choir.

Its only not safe for work if your PC is loud, but even then most people under 40 should laugh when they hear this. Its a choir singing songs from popular Nintendo (and other) games… Mario, Zelda, Mortal Combat. And they do a pretty good job of it too…