State of Decay: The survival aspect survives for longer than 30 minutes!

September 2, 2014

I’ve been playing a lot of State of Decay lately (Steam sale, what else), and I think it’s the best zombie survival game I’ve played so far, primarily because the threat/survival part lasts longer than 30 minutes or until you find the first gun and things go from ‘survival game’ to zombie mass murder funtime (Looking at you, Dead Island).

I won’t do a full review, but will just quickly say that everything is on point other than the UI, which is clearly held back due to the game being a console port. It’s not game-ruining horrible, but it does get in the way more often than I would like.

I first played through the standard “story mode” of the game, which took about 10 hours. Even though you have story-specific missions at times, it still feels very open-world, which is nice. I was also surprised by the voice acting, as 90% of it is solid to great. The story itself isn’t going to blow you away, but at the same time its good-enough to keep you entertained.

Once that was finished, I started playing the Breakdown DLC, which removes all of the story missions from the game and replaces them with just one objective; find an RV, fix it, and escape. Well, not escape exactly, but move on and repeat at a higher difficulty. The RV breaks down in a different spot of the map, and you plus the 6 companions you selected basically start again, though you keep your skills/inventory.

What I like most about Breakdown is that the escalating difficulty is somewhat gradual, with each step up increasing the zombie population a bit, cars become harder to find, resources shrink, etc. There are ten degrees of difficulty, and even at level 4 right now I can already feel the difference. What’s really great about this is that all of the tools you had but didn’t need in the main game now become more vital. Basically, unlike most zombie survival games where things get easier, in Breakdown the actual survival gets harder and harder.

For instance, I’ve lost more than a few people while searching a house because I made too much noise and got swarmed, while I also escaped similar situations because I brought along a distraction item or two. In the ‘main game’, I never really needed to do this because while the zombies were dangerous, things rarely got do-or-die difficult.

Another example; cars become harder to find as you move up, which means I can’t just plow through zombies at will. The car gets too damaged, and finding a replacement isn’t always easy. Having the ability for your home base to repair cars also becomes more and more important, which again is a feature that wasn’t that needed in the main game.

In a way, State of Decay has a bit of my ‘Sandbox PvE MMO’ design to it; in that it’s you vs the world, and the world is constantly fighting back. If the game had multiplayer, where each person could play a character and run around, with the world scaling to really crazy difficulties, it would be a total blast. I also thing with better technology or more resources, if the map had more randomization to it (ideally a totally random map each time), the game again would be all that much better.

Future dreaming aside, as is State of Decay is well-worth checking out, and is another good example of game difficulty nudging you to play better/smarter, and really pay attention to details you might have missed/skipped when things were easy.


DF:UW – Being right isn’t always fun

August 28, 2014

One of the better inside jokes around here is the concept of a ‘Jesus patch’, because all too often the fools tossing that term around are talking about an MMO that has either shut down or is a shell of itself. One of the best/worst example of this is/was Darkfall 1. To this day you will find forumfallers who will tell you patch X was a ‘jesus patch’ for that game and caused a ‘surge’ in population. It’s comical, and also a bit sad.

So how is DF:UW doing post ‘jesus patch’ (released 6/10/14)? Woops. I believe the term ‘off a cliff’ would be accurate?

And to make things about a million times worst, that pre-patch population spike was due to the stacking of a Steam sale, the introduction of a buddy key system, a ‘welcome back’ weekend, a PLEX-like system addition, and a bit later multiple “breaking the economy long-term for short-term gain” massive loot buff weekends, plus AV was on its best behavior in terms of communication (overrated) and patching speed (pretty important).

In other words, AV basically fired every bullet in the gun all at once, got a good number of people into the game for the first time in a long time, that crowd saw what the ‘jesus patch’ was really about, and basically everyone and then some left. Even Forumfall moves along at a crawl now, to the point that keeping up with it can be done in 30 minutes or less per week.

To save the game (if that’s even possible at this point), AV needs to pull what CCP did with Incarna, basically roll back the giant mistake that was the removal of classes, forget that ever happened, and return to what, despite being implemented half-assed, was giving them a slowly growing population; getting the economy under control and focusing on producing sustainable content that fit the theme of the virtual world they originally set out to create. They won’t do it unfortunately. At this point they are too far down the rabbit hole that is the current, oversized arena PvP-for-the-sake-of-PvP disaster that the game has become.

Again, its sad, even from the outside glancing back in.


Need one player for Fantasy Football

August 26, 2014

As the title states, the Fantasy Football (American, not flopper soccer) league I run needs one more coach. First person to email me will get sent an invite. Everyone else will forever regret not emailing sooner.


Knowing what day it is is highly overrated

August 25, 2014

First I can confirm that lack of sleep over prolonged periods of time most certainly causes your IQ to drop a few points. Dumb zombie mode is, thankfully, coming to an end ‘soon’. That said a little lack of sleep is our main worry, with everything else being great, so really we can’t complain. Blogging here should resume shortly.


FFXIV: Removing the alt hurdle

August 19, 2014

One thing that annoys me about a lot of MMOs is “add it for the bullet” features. Basically stuff like crafting, PvP, ‘exploration’, etc tacked on when they don’t fit just so the back of the box (or in modern terms, the Steam page) can include that aspect of the game in a bullet list.

Most of the time the addition is little more than a distraction and a waste of dev time, but occasionally it ends up crippling the main point of your MMO (PvP gear being better for raiding, throwaway PvE deciding PvP balance, etc). I always point out that EVE is the best-designed MMO out, and it’s primarily for this reason; everything is important, and everything works together. That’s very difficult to do, but is critically important if you are actually attempting to achieve a virtual world (most modern-day MMOs don’t aim for that of course).

FFXIV is by no means a virtual world. It’s as themepark as MMOs come, but it also features a crafting/gathering game that is, well, an actual game rather than a throwaway feature. I can’t talk yet about how it integrates with everything at the level cap, but even halfway in there is a lot to like about it.

The main thing I like is that FFXIV lets you play one character you identify with, but due to how job switching works, you don’t constantly progress in power in everything and have to ‘downlevel’ should you go back to something. This means that when I switch from my main class down to something new, I feel like I’m playing at level 1 rather than being a max-level character with reduced stats simulating level 1 (usually poorly). This also means my main level job stays put, so playing side stuff doesn’t put me ahead, which pretty key for enjoying the game as a duo. It’s not a totally new concept in the genre, but it’s by far the cleanest implementation I’ve seen in an MMO.

Crafting and gathering greatly benefit here because each profession is its own job rather than skill, meaning you actually level up your miner or blacksmith job, so a level 1-10 zone that you finished as your primary class becomes relevant and challenging again when you enter it as your level 4 miner, and again it’s not ‘fake’ challenge with the game down-leveling you (FFXIV also does that should you enter an area above level, and it feels as wonky as in other MMOs).

The same applies for different combat classes. I finished the 1-20 quests in one area for my main job, but rather than down-level to experience the other two starting area questing zones, if I switch to a new combat job everything feels appropriate, while I still retain the name and look of my character. It sounds like a minor thing, but feels very smooth and makes enjoying all aspects of the game much easier without the ‘roll an alt’ hurdle.

I’ve got more but RL just happened and it’s off to the hospital right now (blogger dedication!), clan is expanding.


Candyman, candyman, candyman

August 18, 2014

Trollbold is back it seems, and in classic style.

Let me just cut that post down completely with one question before moving into the details: What day-one F2P MMO has been more successful than recently launched sub MMOs?

Because if the sub model is dead, surely some new F2P mega-hit must have replaced it, right? That’s what everyone must be playing now? The new F2P hotness called… what was its name again? You know, that F2P from day one MMO that is doing so well. Never can remember its name, or all those other really successful F2P MMOs before it…

I do find it hilarious that Tobold is linking to Superdata as well. Just trolls linking trolls and dancing around in a fantasyland circle together.

But let’s put aside fairyland numbers and look at something solid shall we? That recent NCSoft financial report for instance, that showed WildStar bringing in more money than GW2. Now GW2 isn’t F2P, but it’s also not good enough to be a sub MMO either, and NCSoft’s numbers back that up. An MMO made for the “1%” pulled in more than the MMO who’s manifesto told us was changing everything for everyone; funny how that works. And yes, WildStar will drop because its box sales drive the numbers up, but isn’t it cute that the “1%” consists of about 450k people initially? One would think you could sustain an MMO off such a population if you did it right, huh?

Of course the most glaring omission from the two troll sources is FFXIV, but it’s hard to call something dead when a 2m+ account behemoth is standing right in front of you, more than a year after launch. And while you’re at it, you should probably also ignore its previous iteration, FFXI, because that also isn’t helping your case.

The problem here is the same one we have had since day one; in order to remain a subscription-based game, an MMO has to be good-enough for its core audience to keep them. There are some MMOs at that level, and then there is a near-endless landfill of F2P titles below them trying to sell you a hotbar or the One Ring, because if you aren’t a quality game, you might as well try to dupe suckers out of a few bucks before they catch on. But just like with FFXIV, whenever someone has something they know is better than average, they go with the business model that best supports good games, and unless the genre just up and decides to stop making worthwhile games, the sub model will remain.


CoC: All we do is win win win no matter what

August 17, 2014

Just a friendly reminder that if you aren’t playing Clash of Clans with us, you’re missing out big-time. Great group of blog readers just helping each other out in a great game and having a great time all around. Great.

Oh and since I took over leadership of “Supreme Cream!” and did a little house cleaning, we haven’t lost a clan war. Coincidence? I think not.

We accept anyone willing to learn and who will be active during wars, don’t worry about being low-level, we’ll train you up quick. Clan space maxes out at 50, we are at 34 right now. Don’t wait and then live with unbearable regret forever.


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