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.


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.


So Two World II is not good

July 24, 2014

As the seemingly endless summer of “wtf do I play now” continues, I fired up Two Worlds 2 to give that a shot. Things aren’t going well on that front.

The single biggest annoyance is the voice acting, especially for the main character (you); it’s beyond terrible. It’s so jarringly bad it pulls you completely out of the game, and has me dreading talking to someone in the game, which is not exactly a good thing for an RPG.

In addition to the voice acting, the animations during conversations and cut scenes are atrocious as well. Random, misplaced gestures, uncanny-valley filled movements, and really no rhyme or reason to any of it that would help build characters.

The crap trifecta is completed with poor writing and more nonsensical dialog. The character you are playing is trying to be a badass in every dialog, whether he is actually doing something heroic like saving someone, or something simple like learning how to craft. Within the first hour I’d had enough.

The shame in all of the above is the rest of the game seems pretty decent. The graphics overall are really good, the music fits, and while the controls aren’t perfect they get the job done. For me however that’s not enough; if I’m playing an RPG, the core RPG aspects can’t be a mess.

(Divinity: Original Sin is a title I have my eye on, but Steam conditioning is in effect and I’m waiting for a sale that includes the DLC. Plus for a ‘one and done’ title, I’d rather play a fully patched-up version as well. All of that said titles like Two Worlds make waiting a hell of a lot harder.)


Tales from Steam: 90% off

July 14, 2014

So many questions about this.

Like what is the end-game here? Because at 50 cents a copy, no amount of sales is going to amount to anything here, so what’s the point?

90% off is a bit much. This kinda goes into the newish phenom of Steam sales, where 33% off is a pass, 50% is ‘normal’, and 75-80% is ‘a good deal’. For me 90% is too much. It’s kinda like how guys like when girls are a little aggressive, but TOO aggressive and its a turn off? 90% is that girl who you are embarrassed for in her desperation.

Bonus: How about the first review quote for this game huh? Gametunnel (who?) gave it a 73%, lets lead off with that!

Edit: Should have scrolled a little lower; this game is 90% off and now 29 cents.

PS: Considering buying it since it has Steam cards.

PPS: Not really but sorta. Only thing actually holding me back is that if I did, it would be officially admitting I have a problem, and I’m not at rock bottom yet.

 

 

 


The humble bundle that keeps on giving

July 14, 2014

League of Legends has been randomly lag-spiking for us recently, to the point where ranked play is now more frustrating than normal (a game mode that was already borderline more frustrating than it was worth).

The real problem is that when a 51% win rate moves you up, and a 49% win rate moves you down, losing even one in ten games to a bad spike or playing slightly worse due to lag makes all the difference, and losing due to technical reasons is a killer for me. ARAMs don’t matter, so the issue isn’t as big a deal there, but ARAMs I can only really do one or two before having enough.

Moving on, I finished Risen 1, and can now fully say it was a really excellent game start to finish. Final boss was odd and a bit underwhelming, but beyond that an excellent RPG. I started Risen 2, but the controls are so bad I don’t think I can stick with it. The game taking such a major step back from the first title to the second is disappointing (new engine, but still), and hopefully Risen 3 doesn’t have this issue. Also, voice acting with constant swearing gets very old, very fast for me, and at least in the first hour or so, Risen 2 had a LOT of it.

Finally, I loaded up Saints Row 3, and must say I’m really enjoying it. It’s been a while since I’ve played a Grand Theft Auto game (PS2 days I think…), and SR is like an 80s action movie version of that. Just crazy over the top most of the time but not pushing things so far that it’s too silly (a fine line that might be in a different spot for everyone). I have all of the DLC for SR3, although most of THAT is too silly so I just ignore it.

I own SR3+DLC for the same reason I own Risen 1+2; a Humble Bundle that also included Dead Island and DI:Riptide (the reason for the bundle purchase). The last games and ones I might not load up unless someone tells me they are worthwhile are Sacred 2 and Sacred: Citadel. Even if those go unplayed, that bundle was the best $10 spent in a long, long time.

 


Re-confirmed: I’m kind of a big deal

July 9, 2014

Knowing how many ‘real people’ readers a blog has, much less how much influence a writer has on his readers, is almost impossible to tell. WordPress provides view/visitor statistics of course, but based on personal experience those numbers aren’t 100% accurate (or even close, really). Not only that, but at this point I’m not even sure if they are inaccurately inflated or under-reported for this blog, as a few recent events have hinted at.

Let’s take a step back; as anyone who reads this blog has noticed, post volume is down, mostly because the MMO genre is in the toilet right now and this being an MMO blog, that has an impact. And it goes deeper than just the current crop of MMOs being meh-to-terrible; they also bring nothing new to the table, which further makes it difficult to break things down and write a blog post. For all its failings, at least Warhammer Online brought new ideas, and had a dev team behind it giving us plenty of fodder. It ultimately didn’t work out for Mythic, but it was blogging gold.

In addition to needing a good MMO to play, I’d also like another WAR in terms of blog fodder please.

From a pure “looking at my numbers” perspective, the shutting down of Google reader was noticeable, and my WordPress stats page reflects this. To a lesser extent, VirginWorlds no longer picking up my blog (along with no longer really working overall) hurt. Jester not blogging has an impact as well. But again, while the raw numbers are down, how many ‘real people’ readers have stopped coming here is tough to tell. I’d like to think that if you are a real person, and you enjoy reading this blog, the shutting down of a reader, or another blog no longer updating, isn’t going to instantly stop you from figuring out how to keep reading this blog, right?

Number of comments is another indicator, but again it gets tricky. I mean, I’m pretty sure I could write a comment-bait post tomorrow (spoiler-alert) and get north of 30 comments. If the comment-bait is really good, and gets picked up by some larger sites, 50+ comments would happen. Get a good comment-section flame-war going, and 100+ is ‘achieved’. But what does 30, 50, or even 100 comments mean, especially when they were somewhat baited or 80% of them are off-topic flames? Does a post getting one person to comment mean that post sucked and this blog is dead/dying, or did thousands of people read it, enjoy it, and just have nothing to add so they didn’t comment? These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night (not really).

Let’s return to those recent events I mentioned in the first paragraph. The first is my Clash of Clans… clan. Those posts didn’t get a lot of comments, and traffic was normal, so it would be easy to assume not many found them all that interesting or were ‘influenced’ by them. Yet today, I think I’ve had 10+ people join the clan (“Supreme Cream!”, still time to join and we are building something pretty solid), many of them new players to the game who picked it up due to this blog. How many others at least tried the game due to those posts and just didn’t enjoy it? How many are playing, just slowly, so they haven’t joined the clan yet (or joined someone else because they are jerks like that)?

The second example is Risen, another post with very few comments, and Steam. On Steam my friends list has grown tremendously due to mentioning my screen name (Syncaine) on this blog and asking people for Steam cards (feel free to send some), which has resulted in getting a better feel for what “the people” are doing on Steam thanks to the “Activity” section.

As mentioned Risen was on sale recently due to the pre-order coming up for Risen 3, and thanks to the “Activity” tab I noticed a bunch of people picked the Risen 1+2 bundle up. Now I don’t know how many of those buys are due to this blog and how many of them would have happened anyway, but I’d bet at least SOME are blog-based, which is pretty cool and says something about influence.

Lastly, and the example with by far the most data, was my time blogging about Darkfall 1 and including the Community Publishing Program link/mention in every post. The CPP was basically a referral system that paid me 20% (I think?) of the initial purchase made using my link, so when AV was running a promo for the game+6months for $100, I got $20 per person who bought that bundle. I wish I had gotten 20% of all future sub fees, if only to track how long people stuck with the game, but sadly it didn’t work that way.

Through the CPP I got credited with hundreds of purchases (and I know for a fact I didn’t get credit with all purchases made due to technical issues sometimes), and AV would later confirm that I was by far the most successful CPP user. This blog, literally, made AV thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars, and unlike Clash of Clans that rakes in millions daily, for AV my contribution was actually very noticeable to the company overall. More importantly to me however was seeing confirmation that this blog was influencing people to the point of spending real money on something they would have otherwise passed on.

Examples like the above making writing the blog easier, because it confirms ‘real people’ are reading and not every view is some spam-bot finding its way here thanks to Google. This blog’s main purpose is to entertain #1 (me), but that can’t happen without all of the little people (you) showing up, so thank you dear reader, and keep dancing on those strings (and sending Steam cards).


Risen related: Well that’s good timing

July 7, 2014

Not only is Risen 1 and 2 on Steam sale today, but Risen 3 is coming out in August. Didn’t know any of that when I wrote my post below.


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