Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Face of Gaming

Note to game developers: how a character looks matters. Next year’s Wildstar is already having its own mini-crisis on the ‘sexualization’ of some of the races in the MMO by Carbine studios. Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward made headlines earlier in the year by announcing that it would allow female avatars in the multiplayer section of its game for the first time. Mass Effect 3 had a firestorm of controversy for allowing fans to pick the face of ‘FemShep’. Accusations flew that BioWare was rewriting history and sexualizing the female version of Commander Shepherd. And the list goes on, gamers have a great deal of emotion in the way the characters they play are portrayed and made to appear.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The End of an Era

Everquest Next
2014 may see the last great year of the Post-World of Warcraft era for the MMO genre. Ever since the success of WoW the MMO market has undergone a massive upheaval. In a genre that was once satisfied with 300,000 subscribers just a decade ago, the industry now looks to the million subscription minimum, as a watermark for success. It was never sustainable and it is impressive that it lasted as long as it did. Certainly while the subscription landscape may go back to near Pre-WoW levels, the F2P market appears ready to thrive. It’s a market that will never be very stable, its very existence is predicated on highs and lows, but with more realistic expectations game developers should be able to weather the storms ahead.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Drink in the Desert

The drought is coming. Because of game delays, system launches, and bad planning there is going to be about a three month window where nary a game will be launched. The PS3 has GT 5 and a few JRPG's in the pipeline and the Nintendo 3DS has Bravely Default, but by and large its going to be until the end of February until we see some high quality games again.

So what do you do to pass the time but also keep some money in your wallet? Sony and Microsoft both have free games programs to go along with their subscription services on their consoles and handhelds respectively. And while Sony will not have its Gaikai service up before the drought ends for the PS4 (It is tentatively scheduled to launch Fall 2014), their flagship PS3 console is the most fruitful Sony system is terms of old, new and digital-only titles.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Waking the Nightmare I

The Secret World is a frightening place. I say that with a smile on my lips, but its true. There isn’t a single MMO I’ve ever played that gives off the sense of danger as well as Funcoms' third MMO does. You are never safe, and that feeling of danger permeates every facet of the game. From word ‘Go’ you are going to get killed in The Secret World. Maybe you aggroed too many monsters, or a big named monster snuck up behind you, maybe you just got a little cocky after grabbing that shiny new piece of gear; the moment you think you’re safe, that’s when you’re not.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Seven Ways to Insure a Game Launches DOA

1. Don’t talk about the game for years. (Blade & Soul)
2. Over hype, under deliver. (Assassin’s Creed 3)
3. Make it like a movie. (Beyond Two Souls, Xenosaga)
4. Have unrealistic sales expectations (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Tomb Raider)
5. Completely change the economy of the game right before launch. (ArcheAge).
6. Focus on Lore before Graphics, Graphics before Gameplay, Gameplay before Story. (FFXIII, but I love you anyways)
7. Try to make everyone happy. (FFXIII-2)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Embrace the Digital

Right about now we’re coming to the homestretch. Depending on what speaks to you, most gamers are about to/or have already collected their PS4, Xbox One, Wii U or brand new spanking PC. When that happens we tend to look over the newest, shiniest games figuring on what is going to get our money. It’s OK; it’s nearly Christmas and we’re all likely to pick up a game or two that in retrospect probably isn’t going to be any good. It’s that time of the year again. Because all three consoles will have launched in the last year the quality of the games are going to be… less than we gamers might have hoped. And if you tag on handheld systems as well, things can start looking bleak. Have no fear the dreaded game drought because although neither the Xbox One nor the PS4 gaming consoles have backwards compatibility the realm to look at is Digital.

More than any previous generation digital titles will be the bread and butter of a console. Though they may prove not to be sales Titans, digital sales will drive the consumer base to spend money in-between the big AAA releases. At the very least small digital-only titles will certainly be able to tide you over until the Big Boys start producing quality games again. Banner Saga, Blackguards, and a new expansion of XCOM provide just a few examples of good solid bite sized digital gaming for the PC. The PS4 has Day One digital titles to go along with Warframe, DCUO, and Resogun. Crimson Dragon and Killer Instinct are sure to impress on the Xbox One. This is a new generation. It is a generation that will be marked by what goes on in the digital sphere as much if not more than anything that happens in the traditional brick and mortar store. Embrace the digital.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Endgame Fugue State

I’ve been on hiatus for about a week from FFXIV. I'm nearing the end of the main story and all I have left is two back to back raids. As much as I love the game, I’ve been musing on the future I have with it. Playing MMO’s is always a bit of a love/hate relationship for a gamer. There are parts of MMO’s that everyone dislikes. Somepeople hate to grind or the inclusion of PVP, and others hate quest-hubs or tab-targeting. For me I’ve always disliked endgame.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Eorzea Journeys VIII

You know how sometimes nothing seems to go well, you remember those days always. But what about the days when things go well in spite of all the reasons why they should fail. I had a good couple weeks in Eorzea. I smashed through Stone Vigil with a party that refused to quit even as things went sideways a bit. I also finished up Dzemael Darkhold for my Maelstrom rank up quest. It was nice to finally check that off the bucket list. From there it was the Garuda Primal Fight. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Family United

The Family is a dark comedy mob film by Luc Besson. The celebrated French writer/director, known for both his action movies and his more comedic work is in top form here. I have to say off the bat that I usually can’t stand mob movies. They’re predictable, and yet watching The Family with Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones is an experience not to be missed. The Blake family is a family living in a small town in the French countryside, secretly in the Witness Protection program. Giovanni Manzoni is a retired mobster (who isn’t quite retired) hiding from his former colleagues who want him dead for testifying against their Don. Each family member played by DeNiro, Pfeiffer, Dianna Argon and John D’Leo is excellent. The family is tight-nit by nature, viewing everyone around them suspiciously and yet for all their shenanigans and criminal malfeasance, there is a heartfelt quality to the Blake’s that belies their violent natures. At one point or another each family member clearly is wrestling with the lives they lead, De Niro spends a moment in reflection while writing his memoirs clearly shaken by the question of whether or not his past has harmed his children as clearly as his abusive father harmed him. Quickly his daughter comforts him and tells him he was a good father. Since this is a Luc Besson film, you can be assured of a barrage of bullets and explosions, but the movie is much more a quietly good take on the mob film. Forget the cannoli; The Family is a classic mob film for the 21st century.

I Hate Mass Effect 3

There I said it. Mass Effect 3 was the best game I had ever played. The story was epic; the characters were fleshed out and realized. I saved the universe and Shepard was remembered for who she was; the best thing to ever happen to that damn galaxy. And I hated that game with a passion

Like drinking orange juice after brushing my teeth, no other game could compare. It ruined every other game I played. Even Bioware’s own Old Republic fell short; like a wine too young. No other story was good enough. No other combat was clean enough, fun enough and yet tightly controlled and perfectly paced enough. It was like the perfect storm; that moment in time when everything comes together in a once in a decade event. I remember back when I first played Halo. Picture this; the big screen and surround sound and a good friend who knew the ropes, guiding me against the Covenant. The screams as a perfectly placed plasma grenade clings to a grunt as he runs screaming toward an elite; with a story that was old, and yet new. We gamers don’t get many of those memories, but Mass Effect 3 was one of mine.

I suppose I should be grateful, but I’m not. Mass Effect 3 stole my favorite hobby and left me with nothing but feelings of warmth and good cheer. And I will never be the same. I hate you Mass Effect 3… but I love you more.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eorzea Journeys VII

Titan is defeated! Yes, this week in Eorzea was a memorable one. I took Ataitai into the Titan Primal fight as a Paladin and my Dungeon-Finder group took it down. While I won’t say he went down easily, it was fairly clear that most of the party was doing the Titan fight for the first time. As a Tank, I can’t say it’s a particularly hard fight; rather it takes a lot of concentration. Most of Titan’s moves will pretty much One-hit you to death, either by pushing you off a cliff or by trapping you. I would not want to take on this fight as a healer. Because of a variety of issues, not the least of which is lag, the amount of damage a party takes can vary wildly. Often times in fights such as these the healer only really has to focus on the Tank and can leave the other parties members to their own devices, if they die it’s mostly their fault. But the Titan fight is as much a healer check as it is a defensive and dodge check.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Video Games & The Almighty Dollar has a fantastic Op-Ed piece about the business side of gaming. Frankly I think it's akin to slamming their head against a brick wall, but kudos to Massively for trying.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Eorzea Journeys VI

It was a short week in Eorzea. I’ve been sick on and off the past few weeks and its finally catching up to me. Needless to say, unfortunately I didn’t get to the Titan Primal fight. Rather Ataitai finally took a job to level 50, the Paladin! I love Tanks, there’s nothing like going toe to toe with a five-story monster and being all that stands between your party and certain destruction. It took some time but I managed to run with a FATE party in Northern Thanalan. Shout out to Mei Sui, a Japanese player on Masamune I seem to run into quite often when I do FATE parties.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Eorzea Journeys V

It was a good week in Eorzea. First of all I managed to take my Paladin into the 40’s. Slogging through the main story, I went to and conquered Brayflox's Longstop, which should be nicknamed ‘The Light’ (Kudos if you get the Toy Story reference). I don’t understand why so many dungeons are so dark and dank. How come you don’t get any dungeons in the clouds or on rainbows? Brayflox was a welcome change to the previous dungeons. Not only was it fairly easy to get through, it was more importantly fun. I went through dungeon finder, to get my group but as a tank that was rather easily. My healer was top-notch and my DPS was mostly spot on. Why DPS characters insist on grabbing mobs accidentally on purpose I have yet to understand but I ignore it mostly. I like the main story but so often it seems as if the writers have nothing better to do than add filler. When it gets to the nitty gritty its good but if I have to another ridiculously long chain of fetch quests I’m going to blow my lid. Less is more people, less is more.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Red Cross and Video Games

The Red Cross asked an interesting question, should video games pay attention to the Geneva Convention? This is what they said:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Eorzea Journeys IV

I managed to pick up my Paladin soul in Eorzea this week. The second Job class after the Monk, the Paladin has been a lot of fun so far. Picking up the Paladin was more in response to the trials and tribulations of PUG’s. I had been steadily running through the main story content but Hakkue Manor, is the first dungeon where a good tank is mandatory. And while I am not yet a good tank in FFXIV terms, I’m experienced at tanking and I know enough to correct my mistakes. Tanking is all about the workhorse mentality. It’s not trying to run the fastest, its showing up day in and day out. Oftentimes a party will wipe through no fault of your tank. There’s no point in putting one or two great efforts if the party wipes anyways. But a good tank is reliable and stalwart. Or at least that’s my take on tanking.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Where's My Team?

It has occurred to me of late, especially when watching television, that video games don’t do ‘the team’ very well. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that when a team is featured in a video game the game will suck; Binary Domain, Fuse, etc. and the list goes on. Go ahead, prove me wrong, with very few exceptions every single time a team was featured in a video game it was a pretty awful game.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Eorzea Journeys III

A little late this week with my Eorzea update, life has a way of wrecking your plans but it was a good week in Eorzea. I started unlocking my gathering classes as I picked up both mining and botanist. Gathering in Eorzea is almost Zen-like. After you get into the groove of things you can quite literally read a book or watch television at the same time. I spent three hours mining and reading a book at one time, multitasking in an MMO is so much fun. I leveled up a few classes this week but mostly I fixed on the Gladiator class pushing it up to level 31.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Almost Sandpark

Eliot Lefebvre has a great article over on Massively on why he likes FFXIV. Check it out: