NBI: Whoops…

… I missed my goal to write every 1-3 days on the very last day of the Newbie Blogger Initiative.

But you know what?

It served its purpose anyway. All throughout the third day, there was this little alarm bell nagging in my head reminding me that I’m overdue, and I was like, “Yes, yes, but real life, and then need time for current games and sleep. Blog juuust a bit later.”

Goals are guidelines. It’s not the end of the world if you miss ’em, but don’t disregard ’em either and use them as a “I missed it, so I might as well not bother” procrastination excuse.

So here’s your stopgap post at 6.50am on Day 4 to stop the nagging in my head.

joker

This fellow’s the reason I missed blogging for a while.

Yep, Batman: Arkham Origins finally went on 75% sale the other day, and according to my “buy a lot of games” greed principle, that was the time to pick it up.

I remember there were a lot of complaints about it being buggy and glitchy and not very innovative when it first came out, but it seems that time seems to have given the developers a little more opportunity to resolve major issues.

I did still encounter two spots where something a little wonky occurred (a suspect got knocked into a wall and then the right click to interrogate option didn’t come up, a fight with a boss stalled when he appeared too soon and the little minions became invulnerable punching bags,) but revisiting the area later or simply  reloading the encounter solved the problem so it wasn’t game-breaking.

All in all, I was able to ignore the glitches in favor of the storyline, which is utterly riveting to me.

It’s a prologue for the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games, so you get to see all the classic hero and villains of Batman at a younger stage of their lives.

You play a Batman that is considerably more reckless and ruthless a vigilante – I was surprised to have the option to beat up cops instead of criminals at first, but later realized that the cops of Gotham were crooked at this point of time, so this younger Batman considered them fair game. James Gordon is still an up and coming influence and again, surprisingly at odds with this younger Batman, a rather pleasant narrative contrast to juxtapose to their later alliance and friendship.

I was thrilled to get a glimpse of Barbara Gordon in her teenage years as well, another nice juxtaposition to her later “eye-in-the-sky” Oracle role for Batman.

And of course, the game’s story tells an origin tale of that classic Batman relationship, him and the Joker. I can’t say more without revealing the plot, but it’s definitely a good ‘un.

batman

I’m still in the last few levels of the storyline, and there’s gliding around the map hitting side quests, solving puzzles and playing a few challenge maps, so expect me back a few days from now.

Dota 2 is still sorta/kinda going strong. Getting an average of a game in every day or so, give or take. Proudly managed to finish the tutorial, at least. More on that when I figure out how to blog about it too.

NBI Writing Prompt: If you’re reading this and a little nagging voice in your head is saying that you really haven’t posted in a while and really should, go ahead and give yourself permission to write a stopgap post.

Post an update paragraph of what you’ve been doing, or take a screenshot of one game and caption it with something. Done.

Advertisements

NBI: Talkback Challenge #2 and #3

It wasn’t until Cleeyah posted her response on being a gamer that I realized that I was late for Talkback Challenge #2. Oops.

So you all get a combination post instead!

Talkback Challenge #2 – Early Access and Kickstarter – Do you support unfinished games?

Maaaaybe, but mostly leaning towards no.

I don’t have any massive issues with either scheme, and I really like the idea behind Kickstarter.

My main problem is that games tend to be very hard to scope properly and it’s also very hard to evaluate if a game team is capable of doing what it -says- it wants to do. There’s just a lot of in-betweens that can cause what is put down on paper to not resemble the final product at all.

I don’t like throwing money into the ether. I believe that Kickstarter is a great platform for crowdfunding what interests you, but if you ask me to give some money to you, personally, I need reassurance that I’m going to see a concrete product back in return, within a reasonable timeframe.

The way I evaluate this is simple. Is this an established company that is used to working together and has processes in place?

(No, a brand spanking new company just formed from a whole bunch of ‘pioneers’ does not count. I’ll give you some time to get your hierarchy hashed out and ego/political games in place to see if you can produce something functional despite the natural dysfunction of any company.)

How difficult do I feel the finished product will be for you to create, based on what you tell me in the Kickstarter?

If you give me vague promises, a design document that reads like marketing copy, and no prior track record, you’ll find it really hard to move me into giving you money up front. Even if you really can put out.

Pillars of Eternity was one of those that I just couldn’t bring myself to fund, despite liking Baldur’s Gate a ton. I needed to see a final product and reviews saying that it is good, before I consider putting down money for it.

But let’s say they ask for money again, to produce a sequel or some additional DLC content. Given this track record that they’ve produced one game in this vein before, I’ll find it much more reasonable to assume they can do something similar again.

Conversely, I found it much easier to contribute to the Defence Grid 2 Kickstarter (they already made Defence Grid 1 and they had a plan for additional funding if KS didn’t work out), and to a company like Reaper Miniatures that wanted a cash infusion to buy a machine for their special plastic/resin molding or whatever (all the creative work is either already done or the processes are in place, they have already produced Bones plastic minis via a Chinese company, the only major risk is shipping/transit issues.)

I might also find it easier to fund a solo person creating a tabletop RPG pdf (not yet though), since that is mostly desktop publishing. The scope of the work is not that colossal, one is only essentially paying to support the author for the time spent on the creative work. But again, said author must have a track record of having written prior PDFs that contain content I find worth paying for.

As for Early Access, meh, I just can’t fit my head around the concept of -paying- for the privilege to alpha or beta test your game.

(I might do it for free, there’s mutual benefit in that. I get a sneak peek, and you get me poking around attempting to break things with my presence.)

If it works for others, go nuts. I’m happy that these guys are helping to increase the chances that this game will see the light of day and become a finished product that I can pay for. But don’t ask -me- for money to test your game for you. Just… don’t.

Talkback Challenge #3 – What made you a gamer?

I can’t remember a time when I -wasn’t.-

Before I was old enough to hold a joystick, my mum was playing a vast variety of Parker Brothers board games with me.

We’d inherited her Cluedo and Monopoly set, painstakingly saved up for when her whole family was not that well to do, and I took a special delight in these two boxes of history, since they were editions that were no longer being sold in stores and reflected a different time and age. (He’ll always be Reverend Green to me,  not Mr Green! And Dr Black died, not Mr Boddy!)

Now that the family was a little better off, it seemed we were doing our best to sample every board game that caught our eye on the Toys R Us shelves, from A-Z.

My dad was a big enabler when it came to computers and a tech early adopter.

There was an Amiga in the house very early on, and it naturally came with little game disks that I would happily browse and pop into the computer based on the name alone.

Most were arcade games of some kind, spaceships shooting multiple bullets or little soldiers shooting guns, since that was the type of game he liked, but occasionally, and more so once he started bringing Amiga games magazines home now and then, I would find or beg for different games – Secret of Monkey Island, Dungeon Master, Zak McKraken, the works.

When the Game Boy console launched, my dad had to have one. Naturally, it was taken over by yours truly fairly early on in the process. Turns out my dad just couldn’t really stick to games, or train up his reaction time to do as well as he liked, thus getting frustrated and losing interest quite quickly. That was ok by me. Next step, finagle a Final Fantasy RPG cartridge via a birthday present or getting good grades for that semester.

My mum passed me more of a stubborn, obsessive streak, perfect for that video games addiction. (To this day, she’s not much of a computers person, but boy, can she pwn that Solitaire game. Or any other simple casual game I put on her phone or laptop.)

By the time I graduated to my dad’s PC (ie. seemed old and tech savvy enough that I wouldn’t break anything via learning DOS), I was very much a gamer.

First step after mastering DOS commands? Locate whatever games he had on that system. Which wasn’t much, he was moving out of his game phase, alas, but I did find Alley Cat, Ninja, and a couple of others.

I’d scavenge around in his greatly messy study for any more lost and forgotten game boxes – Rocky’s Boots was one of the treasures I did find (I was learning about AND, OR, NOT gates at a mindblowingly young age and I hadn’t a clue this was happening, because to me, this was a fun game to play.)

Before long, I was spending much of my pocket money on saving up for games. My dad, the great enabler, would bring the tech into the house. e.g. a Sega Genesis console, with an odd game or two. And then I’d end up drooling over more interesting looking games in the games store and bringing those back home. He picked up the arcade games, I went for RPGs or adventure games or top reviewed classics and that seemed to cover enough (especially given how long it took to beat RPGs in those days.)

Any time he upgraded his PC system, I got his cast offs. (That was probably a strategy devised to ensure I wasn’t hogging his computer all the time.)

My friends and I were playing PC games all throughout the Age of Shareware.

At some point, 3D shooters became the in-thing. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Heretic and Hexen (the latter two firm favorites, given our fantasy propensities.)

Somewhen during that era, we transitioned from merely talking on the phone while simultaneously playing games separately and began our first steps into multiplayer when again, our respective dads brought in modems.

Modems naturally meant visiting BBSes, and BBSes meant door games. Good ol’ Legend of the Red Dragon and Tradewars 2002.

I learned fairly quickly on that my friends weren’t any match for me. I blew one friend up in Hexen repeatedly, and that was the end of deathmatching for me, we had to play co-op after that.

Another classmate professed to love some version of Command and Conquer, and I was pretty gleeful to find another potential player. I guess it was a mistake to say that I hadn’t ever played the game before, but somehow managed to luck into unleashing a whole bunch of nukes onto said classmate. That was the end of that too. (I really hadn’t played C&C before either! I did play all the versions of Warcraft out at the time though! Who knew RTS principles held that true?)

The internet couldn’t come soon enough.

Alongside frequenting various first-person shooter game servers (Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Classic, etc. where I actually found people better than me to blow me up and thus learn from,) I’d discovered that fascinating phenomenon: MUDs. Online chatroom, text adventure game and RPG all mixed into one.

I was hooked.

And it’s been all up and down hill from there.

NBI Writing Prompt: Prompt? There is no prompt. Go answer one of the Talkback Challenges instead!

NBI/GW2: Screenshot Safari #2 (#NBI2015Safari)

So here’s a freshly taken screenshot for Murf’s NBI screenshot challenge.

I was originally going to rummage through my old City of Heroes screenies for the theme Heroes and Villains, since ol’ Murf has a fondness for that game last I checked, but eh, that seemed a bit too straightforward when folks are busy playing around with puns and such. (Maybe I’ll find a cleverer theme to match to a CoH screenie within the next two weeks.)

It so happened that I was practising dungeon soloing again today, this time managing a CM story solo, which took a slow and steady but relatively safe 40 minutes (taking it leisurely since it was a first time try, there are Youtube vids of much faster solo speedrun times).

Since I was by myself, I watched the cutscenes and was reminded of the whole human Ministry schism again where both factions think they’re on the side of right when it comes to dealing with the charr – except one wants to make peace with them and the other one would prefer to slaughter them all.

I finished the dungeon and found I had extra time on my hands so… you know, why not practice AC story again?

It was at the end of that dungeon when I really started -looking- at the scenery and realizing that:

a) One almost never looks UP in a dungeon. The Ascalonian Catacombs was surprisingly cavernous in places and made for some nice screenshots.

and b) Hey… what’s this small blue glowy thing here? Hang on… is that…

…the sword that caused the Foefire?! And have I been running past it a million times in groups when running Kholer in explorable dungeons? (Not sure if they removed it there though.)

But certainly I’ve been blind-spotting past it when running AC story mode, even when alone. (Cos the red name mobs are over that way and hitting the ‘skip’ button for cutscenes is an automatic reaction by now.)

So since I was happily alone with no one waiting for me, I decided to take the time and grab a screenshot that did it some justice.

Rytlock, Sohothin and Magdaer

Rytlock, Sohothin and Magdaer

As for the theme, well, you gotta be a bit of a GW2 lore nerd.

Magdaer was the sword that King Adelbern used to cast the Foefire, wiping out his enemies, the invading Flame Legion charr about to take over Ascalon City, but also damning all of his people in one fell swoop, turning them into ghosts trapped in undeath.

Rytlock’s decidedly charr take on the Foefire

Martyr hero or mad villain?

That theme pretty much encapsulates the entire charr – human relationship for the past couple hundred years. Depending on your perspective, one or the other are villainous and the other side are the good guys.

And even now, when there are folks on both sides looking past those old hatreds, you still have the recalcitrants on either end – Separatists and Renegades alike – who are now seen as the troublemaking villains… except if you’re on their side, then they’re the freedom fightin’ heroes.

Heroes and villains, all.

Edit: Sheesh, I forgot the prompt thingy. Which NPC in your MMO could be seen to be heroic or villainous, depending on how one frames their story?