The_A_Drain's forum posts

#1 Posted by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

Quite honestly I'd been on a bit of a break from games, so I bought a ton of stuff in the Christmas steam sale and then the next time I even looked at the steam store was to buy a bunch more stuff in the summer sale, and since that ended I've not even launched the steam client until launch day for Wasteland 2, which I promptly downloaded but didn't play until last weekend.

So, I didn't even know the curator stuff existed until somebody mentioned the changes that were coming to it. The social side of Steam has never been something I've used or wanted other than a handful of instances where people talk to me over the messenger app instead of facebook. That's me anecdotal experience with it.

#2 Posted by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

Ah it's amazing that you expanded upon the brief thoughts that came up in Bombin' in the AM because I was slightly disappointed that conversation didn't go further because I think it's a really interesting topic, how creative intent can be interactive in a purely interactive medium and how that can bring about new ways to present somebody elses work, for example there's the mod/hack aspect of changing the game to better suit your preferences, such as this but there's also other ways of presenting somebody elses work that are outside the original intent of the creator, such as speedrunning or depending who you ask, professional competition level play, as a lot of what's involved in that was often never dreamed of by the creator. And then that conversation itself can tie back into the whole "who owns the rights to x" discussion that's being had over things like Let's Plays and Speedruns at the moment, as those change the content in a way the creators never intended.

I was talking about this with someone last night actually and they had some really interesting things to say about it from the perspective of a fine artist, and I'd not had such a passionate conversation about games (that was positive) in quite a long time.

These are the kinds of exciting discussions people should be having these days, particularly if people really do want the medium to be taken seriously as a form of art.

#3 Posted by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

I've still (partly purposefully, partly life getting in the way) not seen ANYTHING from this game beyond the original trailer.

But based on the whispers on the wind I have heard, it's not changed too dramatically from that original showing, at least in terms of what I liked about it. So sure, I definitely want to play it, but it all kinda depends on time and whether or not I remember. I'm kind of tied up, my backlog is like thousands of games, and even if you only count the blockbusters from the past 2 years I've still got more games than I could finish in like, the next 6 months+. So I dunno, god... damn I hate working 9 hour days with a 4 hour commute on-top.

#4 Posted by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

None of the above. Even if it wasn't for the lack of time thanks to work, I'm not personally interested in any of those (apart from GTA V, but I did that last year) so if I do find time to game on the 18th, it'll probably be an hour of whatever I have on my PSP while I'm commuting or on lunch.

#5 Edited by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

I really like where this article was going, and it seems fair given all the awful shit that's happened the past week or two that needed to be talked about, but it seemed like you had more to say on the subject and it's a really interesting topic to me that I'd love to get more thoughts from you on.

For me this topic ties closely to something that seems sacred in a lot of modern game design philosophy which is that letting the player fail is 'bad design' and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that in my opinion, it's a philosophy that has its heart in the right place. But there's a lot wrong with the general approach to dealing with that, in my eyes, most developers choose to just make their games easier (or as an act of defiance, harder, is it just me or are bullshit one-hit-kills becoming more of a thing again these days? They were certainly far too prominent in The Last of Us) but very few are beginning to step into the realms of re-defining what death actually is in a video-game, something that hasn't really been done since developers were freed of the need to gobble quarters to keep the money rolling in. And in the case of games like the Souls series or Shadows of Mordor actually re-defining what failure is in a game, in those games failure doesn't mean death and death doesn't mean failure, while the distinction there might seem arbitrary I think it's important because there are other ways than death to fail at something and developers nowadays are quick to polish those rough edges away, when perhaps we should be embracing failure-states more as learning opportunities for the player? Or opportunities to provide more or varied content or contexts for actions within the game worlds. It's an exciting prospect to me and one I hope very much will be explored beyond "Hey, dumbass! Press the A button now or die!", QTE's remain a favorite for providing simple, near unfailable interaction into an otherwise complex scene. Perhaps if failure is embraced more and approached creatively we can see a new era of complex and exciting boss battles, for example. Who knows.

I think this is a huge topic that could go on for entire theses, so I was just a little disappointed you hadn't touched on the subject a little deeper. I'd love to see a follow-up article.

#6 Edited by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

My attitude toward portable games is actually being challenged at the moment and I'm finding myself re-evaluating my stance on them.

Before my situation changed, my stance on portable gaming was pretty hardline against. I mean, not that I had anything against portable gaming specifically, just that I was often pissed off because there were good games to be had there that were, in essence, wasted in my opinion. I generally never got on very well with the hardware, I find most portable machines to be either too small (NDS) or too bulky and awkward (3DS XL), or to have really uncomfortable controls (PSP analogue... nipple... thing) and just generally found myself begging to be able to play those same games in front of a nice sized television with a regular controller, especially paired with the fact my eyes aren't too great.

So I'd have killed for some of the better PSP and DS games to have been released in a console format, I don't care about graphical upgrades or etc, for me it was literally a comfort thing, I found playing portables to be a pain in the ass especially considered 95% of the time I was just sat at home on my couch while playing them anyway.

Now though? Well, now I'm out of the house 13.5 hours a day, I get up at 6, leave at 6:30 and don't see my flat again until 7 or 8 in the evening thanks to a pretty shitty commute.

Suddenly portable gaming is a lot more appealing to me, and suddenly I'm willing to put up with some of the shortfalls because it means I can actually get an hours worth of gaming out of sitting in the back of a car (fortunately I carpool but don't drive, so I actually get to use that time). It does mean I'm having to harden myself to motion sickness, I used to get very bad motion sickness but I started by reading on my commute and managed to adjust to that over time so now I'm adjusting to playing portable games without feeling like I'm gonna hurl. I actually never intended to, I've been reading a lot more recently because of this, but now winter is baring down on us, it's too dark to read for most of my commute.

So yeah, suddenly the idea that I'd rather be playing, say, Grandia on PS1 as I am at the moment, on a big screen with a nice solid PS2 controller in my hands has gone out the window, because the choice is play it on PSP or don't play it at all. Suddenly the deficiencies I've long seen in portable gaming don't seem so bad.

I tend to avoid iPhone games as the nerve in my index finger is busted from too much laptop trackpad usage, but there's some stuff on that's really worth my time, too, stuff I specifically waited to come out on PC so I could play, like Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP. That I'm now finding I don't have time to play at home and instead have to play on the iPhone/iPad haha. I really would like to play more Republique as well, but unfortunately I missed my activation code from the kickstarter and now have to buy it, the devs kinda got screwed when Apple's promised plans for letting dev's roll out promo codes never materialized. They offered to refund me cash to buy the season pass, but I said "nah, keep it I'm not giving apple 30% of the cash I already donated to you" and was waiting for the PC version instead. Maybe I'll drop for that season pass now though...

Also, I'm still waiting on Shin Megami Tensei 4... what the actual fuck, I thought we were done with this region-locked/delayed-european-release bullshit in 2014.

#7 Posted by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

Not strictly on-topic but I just wanted to give a shout-out to local scenes. I've been solidly into FG's for a long-ass time but recently made the decision to leave the community behind because it was encroaching on the other hobbies I wanted to pursue and my motivation had been waning already for about a year now as well as some more personal reasons I won't go into. So as the local community here began to slowly break apart or focus its energies solely on Ultra SF4 (a game I don't play, I'm a Third Strike, ST and Vampire Savior player, I would've played KOF 13 if it had had an offline community here, though, that game is incredible) it seemed like a good time to duck out and open up my (rapidly diminishing, these days) free time to all the Kickstarter games I backed in 2012 that are just starting to leak out, like Wasteland 2, and just videogames in general, it's been a good solid couple of years since I devoted any real time to them.

But I can say this about the fighting game community, no matter what its reputation is online. Offline, it's one of the friendliest, most welcoming, and most energetic communities I've ever been a part of and it's given me a lot of lifelong friends and some of the best memories of my early/mid 20's.

Rambling aside, I'm saying do what you can to nurture that small offline community you have, even if it's only 2-3 people meeting up twice a month or something. If you do, it'll grow and before you know it you'll have large local tournaments like we've enjoyed here for the last 2 years, and have more people from surrounding scenes travelling out. You won't regret it, honestly, I'll cherish some of the memories the FGC has given me until my dying days, I've never found any other community to be so welcoming and so accepting offline, particularly when paired with it's generally boisterous and over-the-top attitude, it's a very strange combination.

Don't make the mistake of withdrawing from offline play because online is more convenient (not that I'm saying you are, just saying don't fall into that trap down the line)

#8 Posted by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

At the moment I'm lucky if I can find a couple hours a week, and even when I do I can barely stomach them most of the time. I've been on a real everything-but-videogames kick for the last 6 months or so. I've slowly started to work games back into my routine but it's tough as I'm out of the house 13.5 hours a day so I only really have weekends, but the big three-oh's been sneaking up on me so I've dedicated what time I can to socializing.

I played like 4 hours of Wasteland 2 (a game I donated $1000 to, to give you an indication of how much time I wish I had to put into it right now) last weekend and that was the most videogames I'd done in months.

But yeah when I was like 22 I'd game every day for multiple hours.

#9 Posted by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

While I in no way feel Valve acted too harshly, I still can't help but sympathize, at least with the developers frustrations if not his (in my opinion rash) actions. Developers are people too, and many of them have their fair share of issues, just like the rest of us, and sometimes they snap, just like the rest of us. I've been there, sometimes it all just gets too much, I don't blame the guy for walking away, hopefully he can find something less stressful. I say that with not a single hint of sarcasm, really, making indie games is one of the most stressful jobs you can imagine right now and it's no wonder we're seeing developers pop one after the other like this.

#10 Edited by The_A_Drain (3932 posts) -

I use them as an indicator to help determine whether or not there's something about the game I couldn't get from looking at a few minutes of footage, I've been playing games so long that there's very little that surprises me these days and very often I have a innate sense for whether or not I'll like a game that's pretty accurate almost immediately. And I have so much less free time than I have choice. So there's never a shortage of games I think I'll enjoy to play.

There's a couple of main things I take away from reviews, which is why I almost always skip to the summary unless I'm not interested in a game, in which case I'll read the whole review to see if there's anything that could change my mind. If I am already interested in the game then the summary serves up a good reference for any points I find contentious and I can then read the rest of the review back to get the writers opinion.

Usually those things are:

  • Whether the reviewer liked the game - This sounds like a massive no-brainer, but I've been following certain reviewers for so long I know very well how their tastes line up with mine, so I'm able to determine reasonably accurately whether them liking or not liking it will line up with myself. For a specific example, unless it's sports or survival horror, let's say Jeff likes it, I'm almost guaranteed to like it. It gets more complex than that, but once you know how someones tastes align with yours you can get useful information from a review regardless what they thought of the game (for example, on numerous occasions somebody has complained about a particular feature in a game, I recognized the feature in question as something I'd like and wouldn't be a negative for me)
  • As a brief expansion on the above point. Usually the first (and often only) thing I look for, particularly I like to do this with user reviews, is look for what people are complaining about the loudest. If that thing happens to be a non-issue for me, for example if somebody is complaining about lack of voice acting in a lengthy, text-focused RPG, then I'll use that as an indicator that there's probably not going to be any huge negative surprises for me.
  • A general idea for whether or not the game is extremely long or extremely short. Usually I do not consider length a good indicator of value, or of quality, however I do want to know if, for example, the story feels like it's been cut a couple chapters too short, or whatever. I want to hear those opinions.
  • Technical issues - I want to know about these, particularly for PC or online games. They won't stop me from buying a game unless they are severe, but I would like to consider myself informed before dropping the cash. I want to know if it crashes on certain video cards, or if particular levels or bugs impede progress, etc. I do not care about 30 vs 60 or etc. Also in this category I want to know about odd quirks that might impact my enjoyment such as Evil Within's extreme letterboxing.
  • Unique mechanics or interesting scenes that cannot be easily spotted from gameplay videos. In particular things like the unexpectedly impactful story in Spec Ops: The Line, or the Nemesis system in Shadows of Mordor (which is actually the sole reason I want to play that game, not that I think it looks bad, it's just not something I'd jump to play without that interesting mechanic to look at)

Overall, though, I've quite often made my own mind up before even looking at reviews and I've done it by looking at a combination of trailers and gameplay footage. If no solid gameplay footage is available that's usually a bad sign but each game is a case-by-case basis. It's impossible to say until I see some of it, and reviews serve as a last-minute check for any glaring things I might have missed. I've never actually been convinced to buy/not buy a game based on whether someones review of it was positive/negative, however. I consider that a really strange way to make your purchasing decisions (oh man, this game got a 7 and not an 8, totally not buying it! That just seems to... bizarre to me)