Beau Hindman of Massively.com and other Internet fame(he really gets around) held his latest Gamer Hangout video-podcast via Google Hangouts. Yet again he gave me the pleasure of appearing on the podcast to interrupt, look awkward and generally make editing nye impossible.
In this, the latest episode of the bi-weekly show, we discuss PC hardware. If anyone's been curious what specifications my PC has, this is the episode to tune in to. GameGeex' writer Aimee Jarboe and Split Infinity Radio's Christina Carkner also join us to talk about what games we've been playing. And Beau shows us his pirate stickers.
Any management game is a tad tricky in conjunction with a Free-To-Play model, but management games aren't new, by a long shot.
There have always been management games through the yearswhere the time-to-build wasn't universally desired to be "skipped", because it was, perhaps, more integral to that genre; at least in a single-player world.
It can also get a bit fuzzy, I think, as to what is perceived to be skippable time-sinks vs. what someone doesn't mind waiting for.
Almost always, if I see a game with a straight-forward, passive pay-not-to-wait mechanic, I wait.
Games entering the Turn-based, multiplayer arena
I'm torn on this front. On one hand, the idea of one of my favorite genres taking on an esports mantle is neat and I'd like to try it. On the other hand, I'm really not a fan of some aspects of what eSports has become, or is quickly turning into.
The idea of a turn-based MOBA is neat, but the Jury is still out for me. In the end, I think I'll try to drop any snobbish perceptions and just try the games. Below are three turn-based arena games that I've either played or am waiting to try.
Dogs of War Online
The Gaming Goddess herself, Allahweh was kind enough to let me shoe-horn my way into a guest-spot on a recent livestream where she finished playing through a bonus dungeon in the Zelda Fan-game Zelda: Mystery of Solarus. Solarus is set to be viewed as a direct sequel to A Link From the Past, released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Although a fan-game, Zelda:MoS is like a flagship game built on the Solarus game engine. It's a very well-made game.
Apart from her website where she shares gaming reviews, videos and many anecdotes about games and culture, you can also find her on YouTube and Twitch.TV. She also writes on Nerdy But Flirty and Button Smashers.
She's an expert at Guild Wars 2, loves Mega Man and retro-games, but covers a wide variety of gaming.
I really enjoy being a guest on her podcasts and livestreams. Hopefully you'll see more collaboration between us throughout 2014.
Everquest Next Landmark has struck gold(too much?) with MMO players in general. There's a lot of Ven-Diagram overlap involving those who have and have not played Minecraft, WURM Online and other, similar games. I've played my fair share of WURM Online, am currently obsessed with Minecraft and generally love any horizontal, sandbox gameplay; Always have, always will. Therefore, I'm not entirely surprised to hear whispers of the past from new MMO inductees and veterans who've never left the confines of the MMO-sphere. Whispers of player-punishments, annoyances and griefing.
Everyday we see new gamers enter the realm and it's highly likely we'll see spikes in recurring debates each time. I've been hanging out in a corner of the Landmark community, where the non-MMO player and the non-Minecraft player gather, and listening to some concerns over annoyances or punishing behavior, along with discussion on just what Landmark is, that would allow a player's work to get destroyed by mobs or griefed by other players.
This is interesting from multiple viewpoints. I'm a much older player who's also observed(not always correctly) many fads, topics and arguments come and go in the MMO space. I've also seen many games from the inside out that fill different roles and have already tackled concerns I'm hearing from Landmark players.
What Landmark is
Every year it gets harder to claim something as never-before-seen in gaming, and unless you've been hiding in a bunker with Sony Online Entertainment as your only source of news, then you've likely heard about Minecraft. And, in a sense, Landmark is a sophisticated Minecraft.
There's a lot of strong, healthy data and support for building games based off productive ways we live our lives, and vice-versa, playing games in a way that reflect lives of healthy growth and mentality. It's healthy to constantly improve, to strive to do better. In fact, I think that's the best thing for ourselves. We should never stop learning, always do our best and grow in our work, relations and life. It's not surprising to me to see this reflected in gaming. But I play games to slow down, reflect, be creative or a mind-numbing mix of near-imperceptible reasons to just have fun that all seem to add up to inefficiency.
There are a lot of gamers that I'm sure recognize this and adhere to efficiency when playing any game, whether single-player or online.
I have a friend who's pretty much a genius. He has an Eidetic Memory, has been as efficient as the cumulative conclusions the Japanese culture come to on the proper and most efficient ways to do everything, from how-to tie your shoes the best way to how-to do be more social and better in the work-place. He's extremely driven and it shows in his high level of success as a well-respected Doctor who is not only younger than me, but has scored in the top brackets of almost anything he's ever done and makes more money than 3 of me combined will ever make.
He was quicker and more efficient than World of Warcraft's giant QuestHelper addon that streamlined doing everything in the game. "We'll go to point A, then pass by resoures X, Y and Z on our way to Point B, where we'll sell to the vendor on the East side, placing us right next to starting point C" It drove me nuts! He could compartmentalize, micro-manage and adapt in a nano-second, all in his head, while we played.
I've never been a raider, although I liked to dabble in what MMOs had to offer. I love crafting. I can gather materials for hours, some nights. I tried speed-running a dungeon with a guildmate once, and couldn't get past my sixth run. At that point, my mind was conjuring up nails on a chalkboard and I had to quit. This isn't a speech about grinding ad-naseum or weighing the merits of speed-running versus not speed-running a dungeon. It's not even a message chastising efficient gameplay. It's about my inefficiency when I play.
I'm working on a weekly livestreaming schedule and became curious as to what the absolute best days and times may be for specific games. I'm asking for your help in commenting, suggesting, tips and any information that you think could help me.
I'm either going to get my Playstation 2 hooked up to my PC to or find a PS2 controller to play some old-school JRPGs and RPGs as well. Tentatively, these are some games I'm thinking about playing weekly for the time being.
Blackguards: Old-school, Turn-Based combat.
Minecraft: It's Minecraft!
Soul Nomad and the World Eaters: Retro, Turn-Based, Squad-Based combat.
My history with PC gaming is non-existent. I've touched a few, here and there, over the years, but by-and-large, I didn't have any relationships with them. I do remember hearing about different key games as some friends got their hands on them; Diablo, Masters of Orion and Baldur's Gate to name a few. I even tried them, but never developed that relationship with each game. I was strictly a console player over the years.
I started playing Avernum 4 by Spiderweb Software. Wow is it fun. Mind you, I don't have any of the burn-out factor to make me feel like the genre grew old and stale. I don't have any references, not really, or comparisons. I've talked about and added a number of older RPG games to my Steam Wishlist over the months, in anticipation of trying great RPG titles from the history of PC gaming, but have yet to get to any of them.
Really, I'm only, in part, guessing based on graphics and features that Avernum 4 is a throwback RPG. Not one to throw anywhere. I love it. But it must harken back to the glory-days of RPGs
Let's rewind. A4 is not ye-olden-time RPG. It was released on Windows in 2006, which depending on when you were born is either ancient times before men came out of caves or just feels like yesterday. What I mean, and from my understanding, is it followed in the footsteps of notable games from further back in the genre. A4 is also an indie game.
I played Left 4 Dead 2 for the first time ever, recently. I was immediately tickled by the way it handles players going AFK and leaving the party. It was near seamless, near-zero interrupted fun whether a player left or just took a break.
Beau Hindman invited me to an online co-op room, which is typical procedure in most online co-op games. Someone creates a room, and then invites friends or makes it public for anyone to join. In L4D2, up to 4 people can play together, with an NPC taking the place of any real player not present.
My first experience with this was half-way through a level. Beau said he'd be right back. After a short spell, his character had the word (idle) appear next to it. It did take quite a few minutes of just sitting there, but suddenly the AI kicked on and it was as if I was the only one playing the game with 3 NPCs. I could then go about playing the game as if I was just playing in single-player. Beau, however, did return and immediately was able to resume control of his character; I imagine by simply moving his mouse or pressing a button.
I would love to see the same mechanic in a party-based, Isometric RPG. I could imagine playing Avernum 4 and having a friend contact me on Skype or by phone, ask him if he wants to jump in and regardless of what I'm doing or where I'm at, he could take control of one of the four party members instantly.
Betas, and Alphas seem to be great launch-pads for making money. Which is cool, but often, especially with Eastern Imports being released via a skeletal Western office, the business quickly takes precedence over many glaringly obvious quality of life issues in MMOs. I dare say, every imported MMO I've ever played quickly stopped fixing things. Horrific text translation mistakes, no sounds or audio in places, Incorrect stat-calculations and more. It's like an old, rusty, leaky submarine where, through the business pipeline, development teams need to hurry around to just slow down leaks and make sure the engines don't blow up everyday. And that's only concerning basic functionality to still ensure payments get through.
But will the new partnerships between the Eastern companies and big-budget U.S. companies, like Sony Online Entertainment have more money and more man-power to create a more complete, prettier and more approachable game? I'm on the fence. Dragon's Prophet, created by the Runes of Magic developers has been published and out for quite some time now in the West through Sony Online Entertainment, and while things like quests and dungeon issues get fixed and double as quality of life issues being fixed, the game is largely still in the state it was when it launched.
All of this begs that question: what are we playing for? In a single-player game, having the complete and well produced cut-scenes are important. We don't want complete scenes devoid of all audio and only containing sketchy translations, so why do we not care about that in an MMO?
1. Reams of analytical and research papers are out for companies to get hands-on, how-to business pipelines for starting businesses. I've run across a handful in the last few years. The ones I've seen sold on the open market for thousands of dollars each. This affords companies an instant *Blue Print*
2. Betas(even alphas) could allow for massive one-time money-dumps to earn substantial funds.