So I'm diving into my first Computer D&D game...

I just bought Neverwinter Nights 2 on the Steam sale. It will be my first real foray into a true D&D rules RPG and to be perfectly honest I am terrified. Not so much because I am worried that the mechanics are horrible, but rather worried that I will start freaking out about character composition and end up restarting over and over again. In order to combat this I am going to play on Normal so I hopefully won't die all the time. Also I am going to document my progress on this blog in the hopes that it will keep me moving forward.

The closest thing to this style of RPG that I have played would be Dragon Age: Origins which I greatly enjoyed. I hear that that was loosely based on a D&D system but from what I have read, a true D&D system is much more complex.

Well the game is just about downloaded so here goes nothing. My next post will hopefully be about the creation of my first character who I am planning on making a Cleric. I haven't decided on a name yet but I will try to come up with something appropriately stupid.

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Issue of Value in Videogames

These are some bits and pieces of a blog about value in games that I am working on. Its mostly crap but i really think there is a point here to be made. Hopefully no one will read it until it is done but I wanted to put it here anyways.

Recently I have been thinking about how we perceive value in the games we buy and play. Considering that most new boxed games cost $60 and that clearly all games do not contribute the same value to the customer, there are games that have a higher value in relation to their cost.

I will make the argument that there are quality experiences that both cost $60 that wildly differ on the cost to value scale and that this difference is contributing to the growth of post release DLC and the emergence of free to play games.

I want to define what I mean by value. Value in this case refers mostly to the amount of replay value and breadth of feature set in a game. Generally speaking, two games that are equally as fun to play and are of the same rough production quality, but have differing feature sets will have different values. For the sake of this argument I am not going to compare bad games with good feature sets with great games with very limited feature sets. Instead I want to focus on the difference in value among games that are generally considered quality experiences.

The three games that I have recently experienced that brought about this discussion are Uncharted 2/Uncharted 3 Beta, Shadows of the Damned, and League of Legends. Upfront I want to say that I consider all of these games quality experiences that I would recommend to just about anyone. The issue is in the cost related to each of these experiences. At the base level, Shadows of the Damned costs $60, League of Legends costs nothing to play, and, assuming it sticks to the current pricing standards, Uncharted 3 will cost $60.

Uncharted 3 and Shadows of the Damned are both quality experiences. Both cost $60 at release. Yet, Uncharted 3 is a much greater value than Shadows of the Damned. Something has to give because studios are starting to realize that their games are worth much more than the commonly accepted price. The interesting thing is that this is leading to some strange money making tactics. Shooters like CoD and Halo:Reach released several DLC map packs that cost either 1/4th or 1/6th of the cost of the initial game. If you consider the amount of work that went in to the creation of maps in relation to the creation of an entire complete game, the value of these map packs when compared to the value of the initial cost of the game is very low. I think it is better to consider these packs an extension of the initial price of the game. If three $10 packs for Halo:Reach are released then the price of the entire Reach experience is $90. This cost to value ratio puts it more in line with a $60 for Shadows of the Damned. The same can be said for CoD:Black Ops. If there are three packs released then the complete price becomes $105 which again creates a more normalized price to value ratio.

Another way that studios/publishers are addressing this is by releasing free to play games. By free to play I am not including the silly facebook games or defunct mmo's. Instead I am talking about games that either used to cost money like TF2 or are complete balanced experiences like League of Legends. These games offer complete, balanced experiences for no initial cost and it is completely viable to never spend any money on them. This raises the question as to why a publisher would give up that initial return on their game. I think that the answer is that they realize that they can get far more than the base $60 that it would normally cost to purchase a complete experience from enough people to make that decision viable. For example, In league of legends if you decided to buy every champion it would cost about $200 and that doesn't include cosmetic skins and boosters for experience and points. It is very possible that a single person could spend four times the money that it would cost to buy the game if it stuck to the traditional pricing model. Now, I don't think that 25% of LOL players are spending that much so clearly they aren't making that $60 per player but you have to take into consideration that they do not have any cost for distribution or publishing so they are seeing a greater return on money spent on their game.

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I can hardly stop playing the MK 9 demo!

I downloaded the demo off of the PSN on a whim a few days ago.  I had never really gotten into an MK game before. I was more of a SF and MvC guy, but damn this game is fun! Playing with the DualShock 3 feels totally natural and the combos and special move timing seems much easier to execute than SF4 and even MvC3. I've really taken to Sub-Zero and have figured out a few good 35-38% combos. Only playing against the computer will probably adversely effect me if I ever start playing online but I'm sure I will learn to block more eventually. Overall, the demo has really got me interested in picking this game up. With Portal 2 on the horizon, it probably won't be a day one purchase for me, but I will definitely get it sometime this summer.

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