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Caffeinated Saturday, Episode 01

March 17, 2012

Okay, so after making fairly regular blog posts on my day off (usually a Saturday, since 2008 or so), I figure I might as well make these rambling entries into “episodes”. I tried segregating my posts by topic, but I almost always end up rambling about at least one game… Not that anyone REALLY reads these except me. 😉

Broken MMO is broken. In particular: Blacklight Retribution. A friend acquaintance of mine works for Zombie Studios, and he’s urged me a few times in the past to play some of the games he’s worked on (such as the America’s Army game)… but, I never got around to it, if nothing else but due to lack of time and interest in games that tend to fair poorly on Metacritic. Plus he only ever talked to me in the past whenever he had chick problems, otherwise he never seemed interested in talking; which is strange since we share at least one major interest: games. <shrug> So, I downloaded the massive, zipped installer on my exceptionally limited bandwidth… let the thing install, and it just simply doesn’t work. Apparently a LOT of other people are having the same issue. As with some of the frustrated gamers that posted in that thread, I really don’t have the patience to download random-ass .EXEs or do command-line edits to get a mediocre game to work – so, it’s uninstalled and the installer is deleted. The fact that the installer was made by Cryptic, yet the game is developed by Zombie, and pushed by yet another company kind of smells of too many cooks ruining the stew. Whatever… broken MMO is broken.

I just found out today that Kingdoms of Aalur: Reckoning was in no small part directed by my personal, favorite comic artist, author and graduate from my alma mater: Todd McFarlane. Moreover, according to this great interview with Todd, KOA:R is just a launch platform for an MMO that will be announced (if not released) later this year. Fucking awesome! I held off on buying KOA:R, because I loathe buying games new anymore, and because this is one of those games that will eventually be available with ALL DLC for $20 or something… But, I can’t hold out from buying the game anymore. I’m almost done with Fallout New Vegas, and I really want something else to move on to that’s not an MMO – so KOA:R has my attention. I’m installing it now…

AirMech is the first and best argument for browser-based games that I have played. I consider this a must-play for any “mecha” fan, especially anyone that remembers the RTS hybrid classic Herzog II. I play the solo mode mostly, due to the lack of hot-join or available games. I really hope that the developer (Carbon Games) succeeds with this project, and sees commercial success.

On a similar note, I’ve grown fairly fond of Realm of the Mad God – a mix of 8-bit RPGs and gamplay that can best be described as Gauntlet mixed with … old-school Ultima Online? You are simply plopped into a realm and you are automatically grouped with the nearest players – and you share all experience.

The game isn’t perfect, but it’s free and you can play it from a browser. This game definitely gets my creative juices flowing – something that I can’t really say any game other than WoW has done for a very long time. It kind of makes me wish I had stuck with computer programming – so that I could put together a very simple multiplayer game with the features and gameplay that I’ve been looking for. <shrug> I have to learn programming for work – but it’s not game programming. Who knows, I may do some very simple 8-bit stuff as time allows.

– Rift: I thought I had talked about my recent foray back into Rift – but it appears not. Short version: it’s still just a weak WoW clone, it’s greatest asset being my favorite class system in any MMO so far. At first I tried rolling a new toon – since a friend of mine apparently has it installed (although he NEVER seems interested in playing anything other than Space Marine or TF2). It’s just as I remember it – bland, WoWish quests that only require you to go monster to monster, objective to objective and press 1-2-3-4 over and over to win. More recently Rift had a “free, welcome back” week – and I hopped on my level 50 rogue to try out the Instant Adventure feature they touted with a recent patch. Well, it’s not as good as I thought it’d be. It’s not challenging in the least, it requires no coordination or cooperation between players, and it’s somewhat faceless and bland. Granted, it’s better than sitting on ass while waiting for a queue to pop, but it didn’t float my boat at all.

Fallout New Vegas – I’ll probably end up copy-pasting my Steam reviews of the game and its expansions once I’ve finished the last of the DLC, but for now I’ll just write a quick summary. FONV is easily as fun as FO3, if a bit less memorable and buggier. As with most games (including FO3), the DLC varies in quality quite a bit – overall the FONV expansion content being much less enjoyable than the four that I played in FO3*. I’m looking forward to wrapping up FONV.

* I played Operation Anchorage, Mothership Zeta, Point Lookout, and Broken Steel. I feel that if you complete Fallout 3, then playing through Broken Steel is obligatory – it’s a fine conclusion and provides some good moments. Point Lookout was enjoyable and unique. Mothership Zeta was a bit forgettable, but not a waste of time. Finally, Operation Anchorage, which gets a bum rap, if you ask me. Granted, it’s a simple, linear shooter – but it acts as an exposition on an important part of Fallout history and has a very Golden Eye feel to it. My biggest issue with Operation Anchorage was one of the rewards for completing it: the Chinese Stealth Suit. It absolutely breaks Fallout 3 – it’s like a game cheat – with high enough Stealth skill the player is absolutely undetectable. I literally walked up to enemies and pushed them out of my way without alerting them. It removed all challenge from the rest of Fallout 3 – eventually I stopped using it because it was sucking the joy out of the game.

Mass Effect 3… Oh, BioWare, you so crazy. I had a feeling when ME3 was announced that I wouldn’t be pre-ordering it. I’m not sure if it was the stench of EA, or if it was the direction I percieved BioWare moving* – but I just didn’t feel like I should be an early adopter. Now with the From the Ashes day 0 DLC debacle (must watch!) fully underway, I feel I was right in waiting. I’ll eventually be able to pick up the full game and all DLC for $20 or less – after it’s all been patched and fixed up to perfection. I’ll sit back and wait on this one.

* What in particular I’m referring to is the gut-instinct I got after watching one of the early Dragon Age 2 trailers – which seemed chock-full of wire-fu and other Anime / Waponese nonsense. Baldur’s Gate I & II were the reasons I claimed to enjoy “Western RPGs” – and then the developer had gone full-retard-Waponese on us. What a shame.

SUNDAY POST (or, what I originally wanted to call the Sunday Vestigial Appendage)

Caffeinated once more, I’ve got a few more things to say about gaming n’such. I finished Lonesome Road (the last of the New Vegas DLC) last night. I will say this much, if you played (and liked) Fallout 3, then you owe it to yourself to grab New Vegas – especially when it’s on one of the frequent Steam sales.

After finishing the game, I decided to take a look at the Achievements list on Steam – and I noticed some interesting trends.

– First of all, of all the people that played (or just purchased?) New Vegas, 93% completed the basic, 10-minute tutorial – yet only59% completed the next base story watermark. That is to say, of the people that play the game, only 59% make any real progress at all in the game. I wonder how often that happens in games, especially sand-box games like New Vegas – where 1/3rd of the players that finish the tutorial never make any real headway on the main campaign.

– Second, the number of players that actually complete the game is probably around 20% and 25% (hard to tell exactly, I’m basing that on the number of players that have beaten the assassination missions – since the end of the campaign is a mere hours after that). So, a minority of people that tried the game actually ended it. I don’t know why that’s surprising to me – there are plenty of games I’ve started and never finished. I see New Vegas as a good/great game, so that’s probably why I’m surprised, that other people didn’t see the story compelling enough to want to finish.

– Lastly, VERY few of the players actually tried to get some of the more useless, esoteric achievements. I’m tempted to get them myself, but why? Who cares if I have that achievement? Unlike a player’s XBL Gamerscore (which is arguably as trivial and inane), there’s really nothing to the achievments. it’s a 1 instead of a 0 on some server. <shrug>

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