Odds and Ends: July 25th 2014

There's just not a whole lot of new and interesting media to play or watch now, is there? I say that as I am thumbing through my ginourmous backlog of purchased, undownloaded, and unplayed Steam games. I think the only new titles releasing anytime soon that I am looking forward to playing would be The Sims 4 (even though I know that it is a complete money trap) and Destiny.

Hearthstone
As just about everyone on the internet is aware, Curse of Naxxramas went live this past Tuesday and as such, I picked up Hearthstone again. I am having fun with my paladin taunt deck and hunter zoo deck though unfortunately, since I never played all that much in the first place, I still have quite a few cards to unlock before I can build the decks that I really want. I am pretty dead set on not spending any real life money purchasing card packs so, a lot of play time ahead.

Ingress
It’s like a multi-player faction vs faction version of Nintendo 3DS StreetPass. Mechanically, there’s not a whole lot to it other than opening the app and clicking on a Portal of there happens to be one nearby. The only actual element of skill involved, if you can even call it skill, is the amount of time that you have spent tapping on your phone and happening to live or work close to a portal. But that said, it’s actually a lot of fun and apparently absolutely everyone I know plays. I really like how Ingress encourages community play and the visitation of places that they may not have considered visiting if it wasn’t for the game. Just about every mural, statue, and public art display has a portal so at some point in the near future, I will probably go walking around, looking at art, and tapping on my phone. Oh: This game eats battery life.

Clash of Clans
I am currently TH5 and at the point where upgrading things takes at least a day if not multiple days so play time for this particular title has slowed down drastically as I don't really want to upgrade to TH6 without upgrading everything to as close as max as possible.

Operation Black Shield 2014 [Airsoft Video]

  • Posted on: July 22, 2014
  • By: Keiya
  • Category:

From Operation Black Shield at SC Village on Saturday July 19th, 2014. My gun is on 3 round burst, not full auto. For most of the first game (in the video), the weather was overcast and cool, which was great, especially since I was expecting it to be at least in the high 90s. Unfortunately, it was fairly humid making the weather ideal for goggle fogging. Until the sun came out or unless I was facing a breeze, I couldn't really see a whole lot. I guess it's time to buy some anti-fog wipes.

The game itself was a blast. We had originally signed up on the US side (tan), but were moved over to the other team as equalizers. Despite being grossly outnumbered we effectively, shut them out (for the first 3 games iirc).

The Early Access Game Problem

Early access game programs are tricky because there’s no definitive line as to when they are and are not appropriate; They fall into a gray area. An early access program can make perfect sense for certain titles whereas for others, no so much. Minecraft I suppose, would be the natural example of an early release title that has succeeded to almost an extreme extent, I would say mostly in part to it being on a continuous development cycle. Though it had a hard release date separating the full release of Minecraft from the alpha and beta, it’s just one of those games that receives regular updates that adds game content beyond the standard bug fix patch.

So, for games like Minecraft, games that have developers who are transparent about the state of their game, what is planned for it, when updates will be released, and so forth, early access programs are great and make a lot of sense. However, for every jewel, there has to be at least a dozen games with frustratingly slow updates or worse yet, games that seem to completely stall out once they receive their initial influx of cash. It is within those types of titles that the problem lies. Overall, using an unfinished game as a business strategy concerns me and I feel that it sets a bad precedent as it can and well, to be honest has, created the opportunity to use early access programs as a means for lazy funding. At worse, it can be abused as a blatant cash grab ala The War Z scandal.

I feel that retailers who have early access programs, need to be more apparent the a game is in pre-release and that the consumer is purchasing a title that is not yet complete. For example, DLC releases on Steam have a purple colored tag on the upper left corner of the game portrait. This tag is visible when viewing games on the front page and makes it fairly easy to see that a particular title is downloadable content and not a standalone game. It would be nice if early access games had something similar.

I do not think that a game developer or publisher should treat or advertise and early release title as if it were complete; That’s just...deception. I also feel that at the very least, a rough timeline if planned releases and what not should be added for the consumer’s benefit. It would also be nice to have some way of filtering out all early release games from the store. It just feels kind of shitty, in my personal opinion, when most of the games on the front page of Steam are early access titles; Lastly, a title that has been posted for early release should be fair game for reviews. Lastly, a title that has been posted for early release should be fair game for reviews. If you feel that your game is presentable and playable enough to the point where you are willing to charge the general public to download and play it, then you should be ready to accept any criticism, whether the actual game is finished or not.

There really isn’t anything wrong with offering a game for early release per se, so long as the developer/publisher is transparent about the state at which the game is being released in as well as with overall development progress. Ultimately, consumers do have the power to choose what they do and do not want to buy, early access release games included. Don’t want to play a game that’s not 100% finished? Well, there’s really nothing forcing you to. And to that extent, as long as it isn’t outright deception, I really have a difficult time feeling too bad for anyone who gets burned buying into a flopped early release. As a general rule of thumb, take a look at the status of the game that you are thinking of purchasing. If you would not be satisfied should development on the title suddenly halt, then you may want to reconsider your purchase.

There is certainly a risk that a sub-par game will be released or that the game project will be abandoned altogether; There have already been several cases in which this has happened. But that sort of risk is in the nature of buying a product before it has been finished. If you don’t like it, don’t support it or at the very least, do your homework on the studio and the progress of the game before dishing out cash. Also remember: You still do have the option of waiting for a more complete and polished product to be released. It boils down to patience I suppose.

Throwback Thursday 7/17/2014

  • Posted on: July 17, 2014
  • By: Keiya
  • Category:
    WoW

 

I was digging through old screenshots and I found one of the earlier screenshots of my husband and I before we started dating. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any of the Zul'Aman screenshots from before we guilded him; That would have been closer to when we first met. WoW isn't a perfect game and we had our share of in-game drama but we sure did have some good times.

Sword Art Online Final Thoughts [Spoilers]

Since completing OITNB season 2 and GoT there really hasn't been much of anything to watch so we have been binging on anime on Crunchyroll. Here are some thoughts on Sword Art Online. Spoiler warning for anyone who had not yet watched or finished watching the entire series.

I liked the first half of Sword Art Online; The second half not so much because the pacing, among other things falls flat after the completion of Aincrad. Without the threat of actual death and the looming idea that their bodies are deteriorating in the real world, the story isn't nearly as compelling. The floor progression, which was used a baseline for the first arc's pacing was replaced by a deadline that relied upon the romantic relationship between Asuna and Kirito; Not nearly as engaging of a plot device as say, people dying. All of this is also ignoring the fact that the ending to both arcs as well as many other conflicts were resolved by straight up Deus Ex Machina.

Additionally, the second arc and the end of the first arc felt just rushed in general. The plot twist was okay, but ALfheim did not feel nearly as fleshed out of a world as Aincrad. I liked a lot of the supporting characters from Aincrad, but they seemed to be underused in the first arc and almost completely absent from the second arc. I feel as if the new setting and new set of characters would have been better suited for Sword Art Online II.

During the second arc, Asuna transforms from a competent and at the very east tolerable female warrior to a helpless caged damsel, effectively halting her character progression. It was disappointing seeing such an awesome character being used as nothing more than a trophy upon a pedestal. Also, what’s with the creepy rapey fanservice? And the love triangle? That was just dumb.

Don’t get me wrong though, Sword Art Online is a fun show to watch and I did enjoy watching it quite a bit. It is a decent show but I would be hard pressed to rate it any higher than that. On a side note: The ending did wrap the series up rather nicely, in that there was close that didn’t involve everyone getting f’d over and dying, which is pretty rare for anime in my opinion, or at least the shows that I usually watch.