Quick Question / Thought Experiment

You wake up to the smell of smoke, your house is on fire and very soon your only escape route downstairs will be compeltely blocked off by the flames, you're no aware of this but you know you don't have much time. You've been sleeping naked, you live in a downtown area, it's always very busy outside and your front door goes right out onto the highstreet. Your clothes are all away in drawers.


Are you so self concious that you need to get dressed before running out of your house? 

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RTS, love the idea of them, terrible at playing them

I've been playing RTS games for a long time, from Cannon Fodder and Megalomania on the megadrive, Warcraft 1 & 2 on the playstation to Starcraft, Company of Heroes and Dawn of War 1 & 2 on the PC and I've consistently enjoyed playing them but for some reason this is the only genre of game that no matter how much I play I never seem to get any good at.

I always felt that the best way to get good at games is to jump straight into the online rather than get into bad habits by playing AI, especially if you're playing on an easier setting. The problem I have is that I get intimidated playing anything online if I feel that my gameplay is not average at best and this creates a bit of a catch 22 for me.

The biggest problem I find with the RTS genre online is that you're either in a small team or 1v1, this either gives or one or two players who are counting on you to pull your own weight or putting you in a head to head situation which, again, is very intimidating when you have no online experience.

I've probably already  dug myself into a pit of bad habits, turtling, not learning effective counters or build orders, knowing when fights are lost when to retreat or how to control large groups of units other than selecting all and telling them to attack 1 target.

Other genres, FPS for example, are much easier to get into, you can blend in with a large group of other players where your failings can go largely unnoticed while you learn the ropes, or take Turn based games such as Civilisation, there you have time to plan out strategies, levelling the playing field somewhat.

Maybe it's just not meant to be, I've always been a one track mind person, in an FPS I only have to worry about what I can see, not what my 50 units who are scattered across the map can see. I can put my twitch reactions to better use in an FPS and have a lot less to worry about at any one time.

I have a huge amount of respect to anyone that can play RTS games at a high level of skill, you have so much to think about and very little time to react to situations. For now I'll resign my self to playing medium skill AI alone or with some friends and leave the online to others.

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Magiblog

Quicklook is up and now seems the right time to talk about this game.

Never before have I had so much patience for a game than for Magicka, my friends and I have been attempting to play some 4-player coop since launch, we've played the first chapter probably about 15+ times trying to get through it without one or more of us crashing to desktop, lagging out, getting stuck under the map or some other game breaking bug and yet we still have a massive amount of fun for the 20 minutes at a time we can get all 4 of us together.

Then we learnt the mechanics. This game is a prime example of a game that loses a lot of its fun once you learn how to play properly, you know all the combinations and fights devolve into 'combine beams and destroy everything in seconds because there's no point in using anything else.'

Don't get me wrong, the references are great, the humour is fantastic, the voicework is hilarious and the innovation this game makes with the spells is a refreshing change from the same old games and their sequels that have been released recently.

The first 5 or so hours of gameplay are some of the most fun I've had in a long time, dropping a meteor shower for the first time, laying landmines and blowing a teammate right off the map, combining opposing beams and gibbing yourself and everyone around you for massive damage, dropping a shield around your team and causing their beam to bounce back and kill you all, all these things are great fun the first few times.

It may sound weird but we were having more fun when the game was broken, we didn't care about finishing the levels because we knew that we wouldn't make it to the end so we just sat around experimenting with spells for a while and moving on to the next area every 5 - 10 minutes. Now that the game is fairly stable and we can reach the end reliably enough it just feels like we're wasting time if we're not making it through as efficiently as possible. It starts getting frustrating when a teammate blows you up because they should know what spell they have stored and how to use it safely, you realise that you can finish any situation with haste and beam spells, using anything else is simply slower and more dangerous.

Perhaps it's just me, when playing with friends I much prefer a game when it's new, when we're all learning the mechanics together and having a blast while doing it, the second the game gives me an objective I get serious and do my best to do it as quickly and as efficiently as possible and that just doesn't translate well to this game.

I won't get too much into the challenge mode, I haven't played a lot of it online but it seems to be very similar to the Last Stand mode from Dawn of War 2, perhaps that would be much more suited to my playstyle, I can play to the best of my ability and be rewarded by achieving the highest score I possibly can.


All in all, this game is great, the whole concept of having almost every spell available from the start is amazing if a little flawed in that there are very few combinations actually worth using. The game is solid when playing singleplayer but  the multiplayer is where it really shines broken or not. With no join-in-progress option the crashes can be frustrating but i'm confident that the online will be fixed soon enough. The references, while fun at times sometimes feel very forced, as if random encounters were just squeezed inbetween actual story parts just to fit a reference that they wanted to add.


That felt like a poor end to this post so I added this sentence.

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JRPG Difficulty Curve

I've been watching the Persona 4 Endurance run (again) and something the guys mention during Yukiko's shadow really got me thinking. Basically, Vinny talks about how he's read that this boss is the hardest in the game and he thinks that this could be because of your lack of options at that point in the game, this got me thinking.

Now I'm a big fan of JRPG's, I've played a lot from a variety of different franchises and not all of them suffer from this but I've found that as the game goes on they generally get easier rather than harder, take Persona 4 for example. throughout the game there are enemies which will take your party down to low health very quickly, early on, supposedly the easier part of the game, you have very few options, you can cast Dia on everyone for ~50 hp a piece but  later in the game that is no problem, you cast a Mediarahan and everyone is instantly topped off, doesn't this seem backward? Why in the 'easier'  half of the game are you finding it harder to stay alive than at the end?

Of course as the game goes on you level up, get higher S.Links and aquire more powerful personas though you'd think the enemies would scale that much quicker than you to compensate but they generally don't, instead you get more options with buffs, status effects, personas and items than you'd ever have early on.

I find that an early boss is usually the hardest in the game for exactly this reason, ever play Suikoden 1? That zombie dragon you meet right before you get your castle is one of the toughest early bosses I can think of and lack of options is exactly the reason, you get 2 new party members which you're forced to use that are fairly useless and you're too early in the game to have access to any significant rune powers to help you out.

Maybe it's just me, maybe this genre just doens't need to follow the standard difficulty curve to be enjoyable, for me personally I play JRPG's for the story and fighting can sometimes just get in the way of that so making it easier as I go can be a blessing. Maybe people really enjoy just feeling how powerful their characters are by the end and simply expect to roll through enemies.

Maybe a controversial idea but what would you think about a game that started you off with the most powerful spells and equipment and as you went you slowly got weakened as the enemies did to keep strategy a priority instead of relying on your Knights of the Round x4 to win every fight for you?


Like I glazed over earlier, this doesn't apply to all games, and it certainly doesn't diminish any enjoyment I get out of these games, just a thought I was having.



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Objectives need to become the new K/D

So I'm a big fan of FPS games, competitive FPS to be precise and recently a few friends and I have really gotten into Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and a few things have become apparent:

K/D matters to the majority of players here just as much as it did in CoD.

The Objective has become secondary to players.


First I'd like to clarify that I've had over 700 hours of CoD experience, 500 on MW2, 150 on Black ops and about 100 on the console versions. I feel that gives me adequate experience to confirm the importance on K/D for the majority, I also feel that people saying that Bad Company is completely different are simply wrong, it's true that the ratio of objective players to K/D players is certainly higher in Bad Company but it's definitely still a problem.

Second, my friends have come from CoD just as I did though they have 500 - 1000 hours each on Battlefield 2 that I never had. We've put roughly 100 - 150 hours each into Bad Company now and since soon after we started we have consistently been topping scoreboards even with half the kills of the guys below us simply because the objective is primary. This post is not supposed to be a brag, we were as surprised as anyone until we realised just how much people will sit in the corners of buildings, aiming down their sights, staring at a door while sitting on an ammo pack 10 buildings from the MCOM when they should be attacking, what is this ever going to achieve?

Black ops had a good idea that was, unfortunately, poorly executed and that was showing the objective in the scoreboard. I.E Flag captures, Defends, Bomb Defuses, Bomb Plants and so on. What they didn't do, which I think they show have, was remove the K/D stat completely from the scoreboard, while a controversial plan I believe it would get people out of their corners and actually push them to go for the flags / bombs / intel, whatever the objective may be which would be fantastic. Showing K/D in team deathmatch / Free for all, absolutely fine, killing people is the objective and should be rewarded as such.

There is one major flaw in the plan to remove K/D that I can think of off the top of my head and that's the defenders, the guys who tasked themself to defend their own flags and leaving the capturing to others, sohlud they be punished for their choice? Of course not, adding a new stat for killing enemies near your own objectives could be added, Battlefield already has this and should hopefully become standard for all.

 

This rant has gone on a while so I'll wrap it up, it's not supposed to spark a CoD vs Battlefield debate, they're both fantastic franchises that have brought me many hours of enjoyment there are just things that irritate me about these games and these are a couple of them. I also realise that I'm late to this party, the games have been out a long time and people are probably sick to death of these arguements already but what the hell, it's my blog and I felt like venting.


TL;DR read the damn thing, lazy!


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