Friday, 30 December 2011

I am independent enough to make my own choices

 

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fish[2]Recently Hex has been expressing his enthusiasm over indie games. Many of the indie games he loves, I also own (I like Hex also brought Minecraft whilst it was still in alpha).  Now indie games are great, a handful of people (sometimes just one) taking risks and believing in their games is very admirable.

However I have recently realised that I as, well inspiring, as indie developers are concerned, I don’t really care. Is a game interesting and enjoyable? If the answer is yes, it will get my attention. Not that doesn’t matter if the game is something like Saints Row the Third, where I can run around a city hitting people with a giant dildo, or Gemini Rue which is a very old school adventure sci-fi noir game. Both oeslsj1310253203have elements that I find enticing, so I buy both. The former made by a well established developer Volition (who certainly have had their ups and downs) and the later by Wadjeteye Games, who are a husband and wife team.

I am indiscriminate enough to try any kind of game, without much consideration as who made it or the struggles they went through to get it out. Take the Project Zomboid people for instance, they have had an atrocious run of bad luck, but I PZ_MidBlackShadowhave yet to pick the game up as I am not convinced I will like it.

I guess I have always been the same. Back when other kids has posters of pop stars on there walls, I wasn’t interested. For me the music they made was unrelated to what they look like. Maybe this is why i struggle with small talk, I don’t care if some actor is cheating on his wife or some footballer got into a fight. These things are totally unrelated to whether they can act or play football.

So some indie developer can go through hell to put out his game, but if it is a bland platform game with no new ideas, then I ain’t interested.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

R means restricted not restrained

 

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FleataThinking about one of my ideal jobs would be to work in a store like Game that are more inviting to the less game/tech savvy and be there to advise ignorant parents, just exactly the game their little darlings are pressing them to buy.


Sounds pretentious I know, but I would love to be the one to “preach” the ESRB rating to parents/grandparents that just don’t know what they are buying. Would you buy The Human Centepide for your 11 year old? No, so why buy that same child GTA IV or COD MW2 or Red Dead Redemption, all of which have 18 rated certificates, for a damn good reason. the mature 500x_ratingsthemes, sexual content and extreme violence.


Reading a Kotaku commenter today, I have noticed this stance its felt most strongly with other gamers both young and mature adults, who see that some parents either don’t know or don’t care about what it is they are exactly buying for their children.


Hangman and I discussed maybe doing a blog on its own to do with common sense reviews that centre not on the game but its content and ESRB ratings. But, we came to the conclusion the parents we are trying to reach probably wont even bother to go online to research the game their child wants, let alone view any YouTube videos or QuestHard.com to find anything out about thegaming-parents games they are going to buy blissfully unaware of the sex, violence and language contain within.


So my question is; How do we get the message across to parents? Looking at House of the Dead: Overkill it clearly has 18 in its usual red circle on both front and back along with why this rating has been applied. So why aren't these messages getting through, why are the big 18 symbols not deterring parents from buying them for underage children.


Video games makers, publisher and advertisers are constantly bombarded with scorn and hate by the general public and media for the content their game portrays, but no child should ever see these games in action (well maybe the adverts, but these are heavily censored) and should never be bought these games to play, so do many 11 years old hold COD MW2 or RDR or their like as their favourite. Both are 18 year old games, they should never have gotten their hands on in the first place.


mature-video-gameNow I’m not a parent, and will never likely be, I’d be a horrible mother, my kids would hate me. I consider myself IMHO educated, with common sense and an informed adult. I’d never buy games that are age inappropriate, nor films, nor would they get any technology before they are aware of the consequence of using them. Call me old fashioned, heck I know it. But, I grew up never having watched a 15 movie till I was 15. my first console was a NES where the most violence you saw where Double Dragon beat em ups and that was at 14 years old. I know, I know I’m a girl, well, woman :D  And most games are not “geared” to appeal to me, but still; I’m a massive gamer. I spend 80% of my free time playing games, the rest sleeping or exercising, and trying to not eat chocolate. My kids would really really hate me.


It does make me think about other parents and just how little they know about Outrageousthe world around them. Just how quickly its changing around them, can they keep up? I’m 32 and feel I can keep up, but my life is gaming and pc’s, and knowing about the technology that’s up and coming and current.


But even just a little knowledge of games and their content isn’t a lot to ask is it?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

AMA Jedi!

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hex I am Lairdan, Jedi Consular specialising in the arts of shadow force, I play on the ‘Shaltin Tunnels’ EU Roleplay server and you should come join me.

Unfortunately that's all i can say about my class and character at the moment as I am still only a very modest level 10. As always when I play an MMO with any level of serious interest I will not be levelling fast, I will be exploring the worlds and reading every piece of Lore i can lay my hands on.

Much like many single player role play games The Old Republic does not make you want to level, you instead want to progress the story and levelling is a side effect not the focus.

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I will update more regarding the evolution of my little Jedi as he progresses.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

ToR, Quite popular?

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hex I brought ToR the other day, I had no intention of getting it, then I actually saw a box on a shelf, the next thing I know I was at the counter paying for it. I have to be honest the mental process that went into its purchase is a mystery even to me.

I played it literally all last night and I am impressed. The game is as expected more highly polished than Vader's Sunday best and has more atmosphere than Dagobah (Okay, I’ll stop now).

The game in many ways really is just a Star Wars skinned World of Warcraft but at the same time it is a more modern gaming experience offering everything you would expect from an MMO with surprisingly little irritation.

Usually when I load an MMO for the fist time my jaded blogger brain instantly starts listing things I don’t like about it but in this case the only sound from my scumbag Blogger mind was ‘Star Wars! Squuueeeeeeeee’ it is however fair to say that I have more than a passing interest in the source material so I am already predisposed to love it with all my Lucas branded R2D2 shaped heart, so, you can not trust my opinion on this one.

Today the servers have been down at this point 55 Minutes longer than predicted as part of the scheduled maintenance. I took my web browser and went to the official website to see if i should eat or wait and was greeted with the below screenshot.

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So, there are so many people playing ToR (or trying to) at the moment that even the website has queues. I’m a little shocked at this but at the same time a little impressed by the interest levels.

When the servers do come back online I’ll be on an English (EU) RP server.  I’ll tell you which one when the qame’s back online and i can check Smile

TL DR: ToR is good!

Bad indie games

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hex In my opinion (something that once decreed by me is considered globally to be a ‘fact’) there is a strange trend with indie games. If this trend where converted to pure information by some kind of mathematical wizard (or a spread sheet/chat) you would see a reverse correlation (lol, I don't know what that means) between the quality of graphics in an indie game and the actual pleasure that can be gained by playing it.

Let me explain this using human things, things like sentences, ones that make sense.

When I play an indie game (and that’s, pretty much all the time recently) I can tell instantly if its going to be good or not by the first few seconds of gameplay, if it looks retro, stylised or unique then its probably a great indie game. however, the reverse is true, if it looks like ‘mainstream’ then its going to be bad.

Let me give you some examples of this trend. Minecraft is pretty much accepted to be a great game but during development for whatever reason the decision was made to make it look a very specific way.

Bit Trip runnier is another game that I enjoy a great deal but it looks retro intentionally.

Then there is the superb Gemini Rue, a game that looks retro but manages to tell a very contemporary story.

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An example of the reverse of this would be Dino-D-Day. A game that looks traditional (and alot like Day of Defeat) also happens to be a bad game.

Sanctum is also not a ‘great’ game but looks visually quite traditional and inline with current mainstream games.

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Now I am not saying that an indie game has to be visually unique to be good but there does appear to be a correlation that I can’t help to notice. There are many examples of this trend and at the moment at least I think there are very few exceptions.

Oddly, in the mainstream gaming world its the opposite way around, Battlefield 3 for instance is a great game that's very traditional looking (as real as they can make it at the moment) where as games that are graphically inferior or overly stylised are often weaker titles

This is something I have noticed as being a trend and thought i would point it out. Its important to make a choice visually.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

All praise the Street Fighter

 

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fish[2]As a predominantly PC gamer, I feel I should make a slightly odd statement. All PC gamers should be grateful to Capcom. For those of you don’t know Capcom are a big Japanese publisher behind the likes of the Street Fighter and Resident Evil series. A couple of years ago Capcom make the active decision to support the PC market, and did so with good conversions of both Street Fighter 4 and Resident Evil 5 (which I adore).

capcom_logo_color_01_17835.nphdNow they kept this up releasing Dead Rising 2, a sequel to a game that never came to the PC. Now I have always know that there was a decent size market for PC games, but now it seems that publishers and developers are also realising this. You only have to look at the recent/upcoming releases to know that. For instance the Darkness 2 is coming to the PC despite the first never being released on the format, and the new Metal Gear game is also coming to the PC.

So we have a platform that gets all the consoles games, though some occasionally late Like L.A. Noire or the excellent Double Fine game Stacking, and a huge number of indie titles, like those pointed out in the manydarkness2_610 indie bundles or on Desura, that would never find a home on any other platform

I just wanted to thank the brave publishers like Capcom who took the chance on what must have seemed, at least a couple of years ago, a market that might not have been worth the effort. PC gaming has never been close to dying, However I don’t think anyone would argue if I said it have a very health glow at the moment. The future? Well it looks pretty god damn awesome.

Gaming Hipster or connoisseur of quality?

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hex Its happened, this evening when describing the Blackwell Trilogy as a “Retro adventure masterwork with deadpan voiceover and an intentionally 90’s artistic skew” that I am in all honesty a Gaming Hipster.

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Desura is becoming  my gaming platform of choice slowly chipping away at my love of Steam. This is partly because of all the fantastic indie bundles that I have been buying up with genuine glee and partly because of the variety and quality available form the Indie developers.

My Indie quest began the day that I first played Minecraft a little over 18 months ago if memory serves. I was simple in awe of its freedom and lack of structure, all the things that makes Minecraft an addictive title for all of us. For me however it was more than the standard fascination it was a love affair that is still going on. Minecraft showed me two irreverent truths that up until that point has eluded me

1) Indie games can be good: Minecraft was the first title I played that I recognised as being different to everything and still, even though in some ways it’s barely even a game as such. Its wonderful and engaging without characters or plot it was something that I was unable to define in words, but Minecraft was the first indie game that I played and knew was genuinely good.

2) Indie Games don’t care what you think: For this same reason I stopped following what you would call ‘mainstream’ journalism a while back, this goes for ‘news’ as well as the more specific ‘video game’ related items. I trust the opinions of smaller bloggers and personalities far more than the BBC or ‘Fox’ simple because they say what they feel and don’t care what you think. Indie games are like this, they don’t care what the scores are, they don’t care what other games do, or what sells well. An indie developer makes a game because they have an idea or story its as simple as that, yeah, some times that makes them money, that’s great!

myepeenis9128508625848906250With this in mind I began to find myself gravitating towards the smaller titles. I still play the triple ‘A’ release from EA and Valve and so many more and they are GREAT. Battlefield 3 for instance is an astounding example of both immersion and technology and will no doubt be recoded by the gaming historians and an important title but for me the real excitement lies with the indie releases because they are making the classic adventure games, the point and click role playing games, and and those strange genre defying titles (like Minecraft or Bit.Trip) but they are also bringing personality and depth to these titles.

When I buy a triple ‘A’ title I may pay £40 for it, I may get fantastic amounts of enjoyment from it (Kill Zone 3) but inherently when I buy a game like this I know exactly what I am going to get (and when you spend £40 on a title, its important to know what your getting is good) however when I shop for an Indie title I may just see a nice write up or a bundle pack and for a relatively small amount of cash buy it having no idea what I am getting for my money.

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In the case of Gemini Rue I got a deep game with a strong story that is masterfully told but just as easily I can get a game like Dungeons of Dredmor that is a daft and challenging but addictive and unique.

As gaming moves to more platforms (the rise of the super phone) many of these smaller titles are set to become the AAA titles of the phone and tablet world, where the likes of EA are stuck playing catch up with unfriendly interfaces and a void of ideas.

Games as a form of entertainment is growing up at the moment, there are many gamers of all sorts of ages that all want to play something a little different from each other, for me its about diversity and simplicity for many console centric gamers its about MW3 and Gamerscore, we are all gamers and thankfully these Indie games are getting more momentum and becoming easier to find in the sea of predictable AAA titles.

tumblr_ksvoxjVwSV1qzxyl1o1_500Not all indie games are good though (even thought that in its self is subjective) as I had reiterated to me just this evening in the form of Dino-D-Day but at least when an indie game is bad there is a great chance that it was bad for a low price, when an AAA titles is bad its cost you a fortune.

We all love action movies but some times we want to watch a lifestyle movie, same thing with games.

If all this makes me a hipster then I’ll sit here in my Shemagh drinking my filter coffee playing some great games that you've probably never heard of.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Want to make video files work on your console?

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hex Quest Hard is a place where you can get PC-centric gaming thoughts and over-zealous opinions. However as you our beloved audience know, we are weak and in the end just want to play games, so both myself and Mr Fish have Playstation 3’s and Wii’s to accompany and complement our beloved PC’s.

I also like to watch television and movies, some times I also like to watch digital video files that are of cause totally legitimate Disappointed smile. With this in mind I thought I would share a link with you.

PS3 Media Server is a great little application that makes sharing video as easy as install>point to media>play media on TV

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The reason I felt that this should be shared it because its hard for us gamers make those Matroska Multimedia Container mark five files (MKV) to work on our televisions. With PS3 media server this is easy. – There you go, saved you some googling.

It works better than windows own media sharing as it transcodes media that the Playstation will not play natively. just make sure your video codecs are up to date.

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Consider yourself educated.

Too tired to blog? Never

 

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fish[2]As I write this, I am shattered. I have been doing Christmas shopping in my local (ish) city and I have pretty much collapsed on the train station platform waiting for the train home. Games really do fail on every level as far as reproducing the feeling I have right now. In fact the pretty much fail at imitating all of the basic human weaknesses that we have to go through.

Be it injury, exhaustion, illnesses or in my case, being a bit knackered, the vast majority of games fail to even give a go at replicating the problems people face. Many mmo's have diseases, but most are banished with a potion or a quick spell. Not that it is just mmo's that fail, most shooters would have you believe that ducking behind a wall for a few seconds or using a first aid kit will cure you of being shot repeatedly. Much like Modern Warfare would have you believe that a trained soldier is incapable of sprinting for more than ten seconds without gasping for air.

Of course ether are some games that take a stab at these things. Fallout New tumblr_llh7v3Hg9j1qk5ay5o1_400Vegas had a difficulty mode that meant you had to drink and sleep on a regular basis, and getting shot in Arma is pretty much a guarantee that you will end up six feet under. But do we wanted games that challenge us in this way?

I think some of us do, but for most people playing a game should be like watching am interactive movie. And in a movie the narrative doesn't stop so that the protagonist has to have lunch and a quick nap. Games are escapism, were we become heroes and gods, and they don't stop being awesome for a quick lie down. An excellent example of this is Uncharted 3  (SPOILERS), where Drake is stuck in a desert which you play out until he is exhausted and thirsty as hell, then you stumble across an abandoned settlement, which is full of bad guys. Next thing I know Drake is jumping around like a 12 year old again. Realistic? No. believable? Not in the slightest. The most enjoyable option? You bet.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Cheap games frenzy!

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hex Okay its not a frenzy but two of the best indie sale websites have new deals available both at low prices with the ability to pay more to help charity (and unlock extra stuffs) 

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Humble Bundle: The Humble bundle number 4 is now available and at this time the average purchase it $4.61, for that you get the basic platter (Jamestown, Bit.Trip, Super Meat Boy, shank and Nightsky) but beat it by even a few of your human monies and get Cave Story+ and Gratuitous space battles for your trouble.

For me it was was worth the purchase for Cave Story+ alone, a game I was going to buy next time I had a free afternoon anyway.

All the Humble Bundle games are available via direct download and Steam (Joy)

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Indie Royale: The Xmas Bundle is currently going for a minimum purchase of £2.46 and includes The Blackwell Trilogy (looks like some GREAT games there alone) Eets (not a good game) Dino-D Day (hummm) and The Oil Blue (looking forward to that one)

Most games are Steam and Desura or Direct download however The Oil Blue is Desura or Download, not Steam

If these bundles are ‘worth it’ to you or not is something your wallet and your mouse must wrestle with, for me it was a no brainer. I get some karma from the universe for supporting charity and indies as well as a stack of great games to play (and Eets)

Monday, 12 December 2011

MMMO’s are far from the perfect vehicle

 

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fish[2]Following on from Hex’s little, well lets call it a disillusionment, about mmo’s, I came up with a little simile for them, which might be contrite, but works. Mmo’s are like cars (seriously, I am going somewhere with this). There are all different types of cars, big ones, fast ones, off road ones and ones that only the super rich can afford. And as with mmo’s, most people fall in love with their first car, and even after a while, they are happy to ignore the rust spots and constant breakdowns, but eventually they have to get another car.

And this is where it hits them. A car it simple a device to get them from level 1 to 80, erm I mean A to B. And it doesn’t matter what the car is really, as long as it has 4 wheels, an engine and runs well enough, anything else is merely an extra. So there new car is fine, it does the job, but they don’t love it, because it isn’t the first one. Same goes for mmo’s, the first love (WoW for me and i believe Guild Wars 300px-Hall-of-heroes-poster-pagefor Hex) is always the fondest remembered.  And yes your new mmo might have a 10 cd changer and sports exhaust, but it is still just a car like any other.

I know it is a bit of a laboured metaphor but I thought it works quite nicely. I have been banging on about how mmo’s haven’t significantly changed since the first 3D interfaces, what ten, fifteen years ago? I think that this is a large source of Hex’s mmo malaise.

Ah I know what you are thinking, there are all sorts of car enthusiats that buy car magazines, know all about the newest cars and watch Top Gear faithfully week in week out. This is indeed true, and it wouldn’t take much more than a glance at the internet to discover dozens of sites dedicating to mmo news and discussions. Unfortunately there will always be people who get obssessed over things (before you say it, I am general gaming obsessive with no particular allegience to any genre or game type). It is in our 71095_50219167003_6033386_nnature to try and love something to the point of ignoring flaws, or indeed not seeing them. I have had conversations with people about football being dull, they deny it, but then struggle to name an exciting match they have watched.

I am happy to see that Hex is coming out of his mmo obsession, heh he has passed denial and is onto acceptance. He will be happier this way.

Probably.

Make cool stuff, forget politics.

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hex There was a point in my life where I played games without complaining, no really, I know, its hard to believe. Before I began writing about video games and pretentiously forming opinions about things that didn’t matter I did just play games and have one of two possible opinions, ‘Like’ or ‘Not like’ in the event I liked a game I would play more, if I didn’t like it I would stop playing.

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Now, as I play a new game for the first time I have a ‘default’ opinion of suspicion and a little bit of resentment, that’s normal for a blogger though, no, really it is.

I do however think that my thoughts about games have been influenced by the zeitgeist of the internet because even none bloggers are filling up with rage about games. 5 minutes on Reddits /r/gaming section tells you that the masses are disenfranchised

In my humble and irrelevant opinion this is the fault of the gaming masses themselves, we allow company's like EA to dominate our social feeds by complaining about Origin on any site that will let us, we moan about DLC wherever we can and we then at the end of every outburst come back to the basic phrase that every person will inevitably utter ‘…but I do like the game’ and there in lies the power of the monolith’s that churn out this crap.

I to am guilty of this, god knows I do loathe Origin but that hate is balanced with the love I have for BF3.

This brings me to the challenge I have set myself with the next none indie title buy, a challenge made harder because I don’t know what the next game I will buy will be, (MW3, ToR? who knows) I will blog about it without talking about technical engineering, plot narrative or developers methods, I will talk about the game as it should be discussed, as a thing, a game that is there to be played not pondered.

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Can I do this for every game? no, I like overthinking games, I really do but I want to see if I still have the ability to just enjoy a game for the sake of fun regardless of my feelings on a service or the politics of the publisher’s DLC pricing and release schedule.

can I do it? who knows lets find out (going to town to buy a game, will update in a few days)