May 4, 2015

Guessing you have seen this already as its being linked all over the place, but just in case, this video of GTA using real people and a drone as the camera is A+ work.

GW doesn’t want my money after all

April 23, 2015

Great, a Total War game without mod support, yay!

I was actually going to write today about how I fear for my wallet with TW: Warhammer, because if there was ever an IP to milk DLC, it’s freaking Warhammer. $10-$15 army DLC, $5-$10 magic item packs, $20 campaigns, etc. And what would have really sucked is I bet most of it would have been a good buy. I mean if you are telling me that having access to, say, Skaven is going to cost me $10, I’m giving you $10.

But in classic Games Workshop fashion, they have already screwed up another Warhammer game with this idiotic decision. Pro-tip: If you assume your future customers can’t be trusted, you won’t have a lot of future customers. And relax with ‘protecting the IP’. While Warhammer is an awesome IP, it’s not some sacred treasure that must be defended at all times. If the LotR IP can be bastardized as heavily as it is thanks to Turbine and LotRO, I think some mods for what should be a popular game won’t really cause irreparable damage.

Moving this from pre-order to “wait for the $20 ‘all DLC included’ Steam sale. Nice work GW.

Fine fine, take my money

April 22, 2015

So it’s not Mount and Blade: Warhammer, and certainly not “tabletop on your PC” Warhammer, but sure, I’ll give you money for Total War: Warhammer, I guess…

Dungeon of the Endless review

April 22, 2015

I picked up Dungeon of the Endless a few days ago, ironically right AFTER it was available for a free weekend on Steam. It’s a rogue-like game somewhat similar to Faster Than Light (FTL), set in the Endless universe (Endless Space, Dungeon, and Endless Legend). I’m good for about one rogue-like every few months, and Dungeon is a solid entry.

The basics of the game is that your ship crashed into a planet, somehow 15 floors deep in a dungeon, and using a crew of up to four, you must move up and eventually out while transporting a crystal. The crystal is a power source, and power is a critical gameplay element here. The game itself is a hybrid of a few genres. You can place resource generating units in cleared and powered rooms, you can place turrets and other defenses on nodes in powered rooms, and your crew levels up, gains equipment, and has special abilities. The elements all work together to create a fun game.

The basic gameplay is also an interesting twist. Each ‘turn’ starts when you open a door. If monsters spawn, either in that room or in previously discovered but not powered rooms, you go into the combat phase, where your turrets and crew fight off monsters as they try to kill you, your defenses, or the crystal. You can pause the game at any time, so while combat has a bit of a frantic/panic pace, it’s never really twitchy, which I appreciate.

Once all the monsters are dead, the combat phase is over and you go into freeform mode. This is an unlimited time period (until you open another door to start the next turn) where you can move around, build stuff, spend resources, and manage/upgrade your crew. Again I like the relaxed pace with no time limit here, as it puts a greater focus on thinking and strategy, rather than the usual rogue-like go-go-go style.

There are more details, but those are the basics. The key takeaway for me is that Dungeon feels like a rogue-like where you have significantly more control over how things play out, rather than the game coming down heavily on how the dice rolled and hoping for a favorable outcome. And perhaps I’m just terrible at these games, but even on the easiest setting I still can’t beat it (which unlocks more ships ala FTL), though each game I do progress a bit further and refine my strategies, which ultimately is the ‘good stuff’ of a game like this.

If you remotely enjoy rogue-like games, and especially if you liked FTL, Dungeon of the Endless is a good way to kill some time.

GTA V: A monster of quality content

April 21, 2015

Quick plugs first: The CoC clan has one spot currently open. Anyone with a non-rushed TH7+ that will be active please apply to “Supreme Cream!” and mention the blog. Also the Boom Beach group “Hardcore Casual” has spots open as well. More relaxed in that game so no reqs to join.

Moving on.

GTA V is an example of a massive budget used well. For example, the amount of top-notch voice work you will miss or have in the background easily outnumbers the total amount of voice work in most ‘AAA’ games total. Or how some of the side activities are better ‘games’ than other products that do just that one thing. Or just the sheer size and detail of the world, right down to traffic patterns. It really is mind-blowing when you stop and think about all of the work put into the game, and how somehow, amazingly it all comes together to form such a great game. From a project management aspect the game is a huge accomplishment.

It has been said in the past that WoW is impossible to replicate because it has so much content, but WoW over time has been replacing stuff rather than just adding more and more on (unlike, say, EVE). It’s why you can launch FFXIV and not have it feel like a much smaller version of WoW, despite WoW having nearly a decade head start. GTA V isn’t that. Sure, it builds off of what worked in previous GTA games, but GTA V itself is a massive package of content that few if any games can even come close to matching (Skyrim is really the only title that comes to mind).

It also brings me back to when I played Saint’s Row 3 (a solid game itself), and why that game is smart to push what it does well (over the top action and comedy) and not just try to straight-up be a GTA clone. If it did that, it would get slaughtered, because it would be nearly impossible to stack up in terms of quality AND quantity, and the corners cut would be noticeable.

Going oldschool with AoW3

April 17, 2015

The Age of Wonders 3 play-by-email feature is, surprisingly, a godsend. The core problem with AoW3 multiplayer is that one player’s turn can take a long, long time if you fight multiple battles, while other turns might be very, very short, resulting in a lot of waiting and sometimes not much playing. Then factor in that one game takes hours to complete, and the whole thing can be a bit problematic.

You can somewhat get around this by using auto-battle against all NPC encounters, and only play a battle out against other players. While this does speed the game up, I feel it removes a lot of the fun from the game, as building up an army is a big part of the game, and auto-battle loses you units too often and too randomly.

PBM is great because it allows everyone to take as long as they need vs the computer, but interestingly enough battles between players are done in auto-battle. I actually don’t mind this as much, as the focus is still about building up and fighting the computer well, and removes the player vs player battle decisions. I still like that aspect mind you, but it is also nice to have an option where it is removed.

If you have AoW3 and want to get a PBM game going, ping me on Steam (Syncaine) and we can give it a go. I’ve got both expansions, so if I host it will use those (though you won’t be able to select the new class or races, but will see the new game systems and map additions).

GTA V: The corpse of the Skyrim UI designer got reanimated I guess?

April 14, 2015

Making a UI for a game can’t be hard. Now I don’t have personal experience making one, but seeing how often a mod for a game is a UI edit or complete overhaul, I’d bet good money it’s not THAT hard to make something decent.

I bring this up because the UI in GTA V for the PC is a console-port abortion. If I have to click more than twice to close the damn game, your UI sucks. Also if during the tutorial you leave in using the left arrow key on the keyboard as something you expect players to normally do, your UI sucks. And again, this stuff isn’t that hard, and there are plenty of examples to refer to on how to make a basic, acceptable UI for the PC. Pro-tip; using the mouse shouldn’t be an afterthought!

This reminds me of Skyrim all over again, only this UI isn’t AS BAD as Skyrim was, but its perhaps more frustrating because the PC version of GTA V is coming out YEARS after the console versions, so clearly the devs have had plenty of time and budget to make changes, but they didn’t so instead they could focus on a built-in movie editor? Really?

And much like Skyrim, the fact that the UI sucks isn’t enough to ruin the game. GTA V on the PC is glorious. The big change is of course the graphics, and yes, GTA V looks phenomenal maxed out. First person view is also very nice, especially since you can switch between it quickly, so shooting-heavy parts I go first person, but for most other situations I use the standard view. But man would the whole thing be much better if the UI didn’t get in the way as often as it does. Bring on the mods I guess.


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