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Do RPG/MMO's intentionally waste our time?

Spent the better part of the past year playing various MMO's RPG's, and open world games and I think as games get larger the ability for people to fill them with meaningful content starts to fall away. I know it has to be difficult to fill every inch of a open world with enough content to make it feel lived in but I think developers have gone the other way with this. While it's nice to have a good story between each town you have to visit in an open world game, I'd rather have more meaningful gameplay elements there instead of poorly thought out and poorly plotted scenes?

I picked up FF14 on the recent Humble bundle and the game looks and plays great. The job system is amazing and even though I get frustrated in the dungeons due to my own limitations as a gamer, I still find those moments interesting. What I don't like is all the padding. You are revealed early on as the next savior of the world and then spend about 75% of the game running errands for people. Like go get me some cheese, I'm scared tell me a story, and set this table for a banquet. I'm guessing the idea is to teach your hero humility but there's a backdrop of the end of the world coming. This happened in mass Effect 3 also. This idea that there's no time and yet every NPC you run into acts like it's business as usual and then sets out to waste your time. From a mechanics standpoint I understand why you have to have 15 quests in between plot points J and K, but do they have to be so insulting?

In FF14 there's a quest chain that is a good example of bad storytelling. You go back to your base at step 1 and are told that the enemy is going to do something extremely bad and the only ones that know how to stop it are elsewhere and you need to track them down and find out how to stop it. Steps 2 and 3 involve you wasting time with some nobody who is lying about who he is and after you do that you get sent to the actual person. That person won't help you until you go run several errands for him which are steps 4-14 and then at the end they reveal it was all a challenge to see if you were ready for the fight ahead. This is after you already bested one of these major monsters and collected over half of the maguffins you need to save the world. One of your helper NPC's even points out how demeaning this all is to you twice and how there's really no time for all these fetch quests as the end of the world is coming!

Now I'm not against multi part quests. Story aside you get a lot of XP along this chain and you run a dungeon that's helpful for the reason that it helps you group more. This just wasn't the way to go about it. During this whole quest chain everyone basically shits on your character. They tell you it's hopeless and fuck with you and in the end tell you they were doing that to see if you were worth it. I can see something like that working in boot camp, but at this point in the game you've well proven yourself, and they stress several times that there's just no time for such nonsense. It's bad writing masking needed padding. Had you heard rumors at step 1 and then spent steps 2 - 14 doing a bit of detective work to find out there was an imminent danger and then going and fighting the danger in step 15 that would have felt like your time wasn't wasted.

I see this a lot in all games. Stuff that's put into a game to pad it's length. Written poorly because whoever was in charge of that section knew it was a throw away section and didn't care. A game in recent memory that did a better job of this sort of thing was Saints Row 3. Rarely did I feel like any of it was padding to waste my time even though the majority of that game is just padding to give you something to do. The writing was good enough that if it ever felt like a waste of time there was some kind of dialog there that made fun of it or at least made the thing feel dumb enough that you wanted to. In WoW the padding quests are either fast and forgettable or funny enough to work as a longer tale, or part of the overall narrative and given the appropriate importance. Other games of recent memory like Witcher 3, FF14, Guild Wars 2, The second "chapter" of MGSV and so on, the quests that are there for padding feel like padding. They feel like they are only there to waste your time, and as gamers we can sense it. It's annoying. It strikes of poor planning and bad writing, and with so many other games out there to play we have other things that aren't so blatant about wasting our time.

If your game needs padding, that's fine. Just do a good job with it. I'd much rather the padding be that I need to help track down a monster and defeat it and not help sally pick out a party dress for an upcoming dance. Especially when (in these games) the end of the world hangs in the balance.

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Showdown u vs i

So a few weeks ago I was debating buying a Wii-U. At first I hadn't really given it much thought but wanted something. I like my 360 but with Microsoft crapping that system up with charging you to even access online content that you also have to pay another company to watch, and smearing the dashboard with as many advertisements as they can get away with, I was getting a bit frustrated with it. Add into this that my 360 is on it's last legs and that means I'd have to buy a replacement and I wasn't really wanting to. With a lot of the stuff I do online being on the Wii-U (Netflix & HULU), I was curious. However, after Giantbombs all day coverage of the system I was less curious. There are, however, some decent and fun looking games on the system so I was still torn.

I hemmed and hawed about it all week, last week, and came to the conclusion that if I could find one at a local store on pay-day I'd buy it. I started to call around and see if anyone was even going to have one and it was looking more and more like no one would so I started to wonder if I should even bother. Then a funny thing happened. What I want from gaming has changed over the years. I find myself playing more and more small games and XBLA games and Steam Indie Games than I do AAA titles. I was seriously disappointed by a lot of games this year and maybe it was time to switch. That being said the idea started bubbling up that maybe what I needed was an i-pad. I still want the Wii-U but right now there's not many games and I'm not really interested in wagging a stick to make my character sort of not do anything I want it to so older Wii games are mostly out.

So in the end the decision was made to pick up an i-pad instead and wait a month or 6 on the Wii-U until there's actually more content out for it. So far I'm liking my decision. Other than a 3rd gen original i-pod this is the only other apple product I've ever owned. I don't really like Apple PC's but thanks to the market confusion that Android wished upon themselves that platform's kind of a mess in terms of apps. If you want to play current tablet games i-pads just have more of them. A lot of games eventually do get ported in some manner but several of the ones I was interested in never will be.

I picked up a White i-pad 3 32gig model. I was originally after a 4 with 16 gigs but the couple places near where I live didn't have any, and I really didn't want to go to the Apple store. I'm hoping that the mumbling I hear about the heat is overstated. I've already picked up a few games for it, and a lot of them are board games that I'll be doing reviews of as I play through them.

I'm still hopeful for the Wii-U. I want that thing to do well and I hope these first few games are just rough launch titles and not indicative of what we should expect from the future of the thing. For now though, looks like i won out over u.


Stuck in Magic

Been playing a LOT of magic the gathering lately, the actual card game not the 360 game. I'd be in total love with the 360 game if it had a deck editor. I'd also love the online game more if it weren't such a money sink. There's several other versions of mtg online that some random people have made that work with different levels of success. There's no games I really WANT right now on the 360. Oh well.


No, this isn't a post about how throwing is cheap. I'm not really happy about being thrown as much as the rest of yas, but my complaint is somewhat different.

Why the hell did they have to change the buttons you use to throw in this game? I am so used to the throwing system from games past where it's just close towards and a button. this two button horsecrap throws me off every time because no matter how long I've had SF4 for I'll never get used to this new button scheme. Can anyone explain to me the benefit to this new system? It just seemed arbitrary that they changed it in teh 1st place.

Used to be if someone was being a throw monkey I coudl just hit them back with their same tactics but I never seem to get this new crap to go off properly.


Games games, glorious games

There are so many damn games for the 360 that I have yet to play and I sometimes make some bad picks when I am staring at the gamefly queue. I think my overall desire when it comes to this stuff, like everyone, is to pick the good ones. So like most people I look to review sites and other opinions to get a sense for what exactly is good. Well, you can't always rely on others, and sometimes if you do you might miss a gem you would have loved.

Phantasy Star Universe is a game that when I first played it on the PS2 over a year ago I loved the hell out of it. Then as I played it I got a little irritated, then loved it, then irritated, then ditched it entirely. Now I love the online game they have made. It's a psudeo MMO that plays a bit like Guild Wars. However I didn't really like the monthly fee for it. Now with a better setup (I have a 360 now as opposed to a PS2) I find myself wanting to go back to it. The only problem is the games not up to snuff anymore. Hell, Sega didn't even bother to allow the game to use the chat pad and that's kind of stupid. Also now with a Gamefly account and  a gold live account can I really justify a monthly game fee?

So I am left at a crossroads, to play or or not to. Right now I'm itching bad for a MMO but my PC can't play any of them, plus the ones I was interested in I already played to death. On the horizon is the Champions MMO and I really hope that sees the light of day on the 360. You hear how it's coming, but they never really say when or if the only version coming anytime soon is the PC version.

I'll just play in Paradise City till then.


Rumble Roses XX is a bad, bad game. Bad as in Terrible

So I rented Rumble Roses XX from gamefly as I was oddly curious how the game played. The PS2 game was not totally terrible, but this was complete crap. Now I know this is probably an obvious choice for crap, but let me explain. The biggest problem with this game isn't that it's a giant excuse to see virtual boobies or that the games wrestling engine isn't really all that hot. No, the biggest problem here is that the unlocakables and achievements are completely nonsense.

The game has no story, or direction to speak of and also nothing to give you any sort of direction. No, in order to unlock all of the various characters, costumes, and other nonsense, you have to just randomly play the game and get things without knowing how you did it, or go to gamefaqs and read the unlock faq. Now when you look over the faq you notice most of hte unlocks involve beating a certain character a number of times, or beating a character when they have the title. The matching is random. So if you want to beat Dixie 10 times you have to just keep playing over, and over, and over, and wait till she shows up.

Needless to say, this takes FOREVER!

Anyhow, the game sucks so stay away from it. The boobs aren't even all that great to look at so I'll save you that trouble.


Street Fighter 4 is AWESOME!

So, Picked this up yesterday and I have to say, other than a few annoyances with some character tweaks they did the games fan-freeking-tastic! The controls on the 360 aren't as bad as I was dreading, but then a few months with HD Remix helped that out. The matching service isn't terrible but it coudl use a bit of help from time to time. Having to pick quick match about 10 times before you get one is irritating but you can also just set hte game to allow players to join you while you play arcade mode. The game also let's you prioritise weither or not you want it to look for the most stable connection for those jump in matches, which helps.

Now the gripes, Blanka looks and sounds terrible. Youc an get over the sound by setting him to Lapanese, he sounds slightly better there. His look is like how he looked in SFEX, whihc is bad. His attacks aren't as fast as they used to be, but they did add a few tweaks to him that sort of make up for it. Still it's hard to look at him as it looks more like someone in a blanka costume you'd see at an anime con, blech.

In the end, great job Capcom, now get some more freeking sticks and pads out there for sale!


Super Street Fighter II HDR's Matching service sucks!

So I really love the new Street Fighter that was released last month, however their matching service is pretty crappy. I know it's better than the stuff that was offered in the past but it still needs major work, especially in this era of online games. It usually takes on average 5-8 attempts to get into a match with someone that has a ping under 100.

For those of you not familiar with how the service works, first you select that you want a multiplayer match, then you select ranked, then you wait while it populates a list of several matches you can choose from. Then you select down to get the match you want, and then you either get into the match or your told that the match is no longer available. If the match is no longer available the system takes you back to the menu in which you choose a ranked match or not. So you have to go through the list populating and go downa nd select another then maybe you get in or not. The system is seriously frustrating.

Ther eis a quick match option, but there's no parameters on it. You can't tell the system to give you a quick match with a ping under a certain amount or with a paticular ruleset turned on. If your in a match with a ping over 100 the game starts to become borderline unplayable. The further away from 100 the ping is the worse it is as the game's constantly laggy and rewinding on itself which really throws off the flow of the game.

I really hope Capcom learns from these issues when SF4 comes out next month and gives us a better matching service. Also while the thought of people being able to jump into your game like in the arcade sounds great, I hope there's again some kind of limiter so that it only allows people with a good ping or else that feature could quickly become useless unless it comes with a friends only filter.


Ground Zero

Well, here's the bomb. Glad to see the place up and running. I was a fan of this groups previous work and was really bummed over what happened in the past. Anyhow here's to looking at the future and hoping I will in fact get a PS3 this year. Till then, I will have to have my new release fix on my PSP, in several months, when Sony actually starts releasing product for it, maybe.