Wednesday, 29 February 2012

New Month, New Games!





It looks like we’ll have to wait a bit longer for spring to come! As the weatherman just announced we might have some snow again next week here in Belgium, we’d better plan plenty of fun indoors activities this month. I don’t think we’ll be bored though, because March will be a great gaming month. Here’s what I look forward to:


Vessel releases on March 1st


Vessel is a puzzle platformer, made by an indie studio that I have never heard off: Strange Loop Games. As from March 1st, you can buy the game on Steam for 15$. The game is all about fluid mechanics: by manipulating different types of liquids, you have to solve puzzles. The concept makes me think about portal and its different types of gels.

According to the devs, the game’s Vessel engine allows the liquid creatures – called Fluro - to demonstrate physics not seen in other video games. Looking at the preview videos, the graphics are gorgeous, and the gameplay seems really fun. If you prefer to play platform games on console, Strange Loops is also planning to release the game on XBLA and PSN soon.


Everquest is going Free-to-Play on Its 13th Birthday
13 years after its release, the original Everquest is still going strong, which is already an amazing achievement. Last year, SOE made Everquest 2 F2P and it was so successful that they’ve decided to do the same thing with EQ2’s big sister. On the 16th of March, we’ll be able to play Everquest completely free of charge. SOE is implementing a similar model to EQ2, with a bronze (free-to-play), a silver (one time fee) and gold (subscription) option. 


Personally, I’m really looking forward to this, as I’ve never played the first Everquest but couldn’t justify the monthly cost to myself (as I’m already paying for a subscription for Everquest 2), but now I’ll get to try it out for free! I’m a lore junkie, so the part I’m looking forward to the most is seeing the EQ version of Norrath and getting to know the original lore.


And another Free-to-Play conversion… Aion!

OK, I’m really cheating on this one, because Aion went F2P today, and technical we’re still February. But if this hadn’t been a leap year, we’d be March already. So… let’s count the Aion Free-to-Play conversion as a March event.
Again, this is a game I’ve always been vaguely interested in, but I never could justify paying the sub for it. I have a deal with myself: I only pay for one sub each month. I don’t keep that deal though, at the moment I’m subbed to SWTOR and EQ2.

I’ll definitely try Aion, although I’m not sure if I’ll play it for a very long time. I keep hearing that it is extremely grindy. I’ll keep you updated on how I feel about it! Aion will work with a ‘truly’ (that’s how they call it themselves) F2P system, where’s there’s no subscriptions, just a cash shop. The game is also getting plenty of new content with its 3.0 update, so that should be fun.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

LA Noire, game or story book?



I understand that LA Noire has been out for an age and a half now but I am only now playing it. I picked is up at a well known store for very few of my English pounds for my PS3 (I was going to pick it up on the PC as is proper but it was so very cheap that I couldn't resist). It's probably worth saying that I have none of the DLC and have no intention of getting any at this time. 

The game rather irritatingly starts off in a dark alleyway, where regrettably I spent more time than was needed looking for, well, anything. The game did not give me any real idea what to do. Until I slowly figured out the early clues it was like being in a remake of the original 'Alone in the Dark' game.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Well played Sony, well played.


final_killzone--article_image
fish[2]It is no big secret the we here at Quest Hard are fond of the PS3 shooter Killzone 3. However Killzone 3 has now been out 12 months to this very day (24/02/2011 release date), and dispite DLC maps, the game has in all probablity run its course. I know that I personally haven't touched it, despite owning all the DLC, for months. So, bearing in mind my last blog about the drop of in sales, Sony have decided to do something quite interesting.

They are giving away the entire multiplayer component, including the DLC psnmaps for free. You can download it off the PSN and jump in without paying a penny. Killzone, much like every shooter these days, has a levelling system. And the free version has a reasonably low level cap , beyond which you would need the pay to unlock it. You also need to unlock the ability to get Trohpies (if you are interested in them). However Killzone 3 is a fairly well balanced game and not having masses of unlocks doesn't really put you at a disadvantage. So you can play for free, and pay $15 to get the full version if you like it.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Game rich and Time poor


collection
fish[2]The costs of games is always a contentious issue, however the fact of the matter is that games if anything are now cheaper than they were 10 years ago. If you are happy to bide you time and looks for deals, you can pick up titles at half the launch rrp within a couple of months. Throw in things like Steam sale and the various indie bundles, and you get to the point where you have massive number of games that you simple don't have time to play.

Alan_Wake_Wallpaper_2_by_igotgame1075I currently have a good dozen or so games I  have purchased that i haven't even loaded, ranging from small title to the recent Alan Wake PC relaunch. So when an enticing new game pops up brand new, like The Darkness 2, I remind myself that I already have a couple of hundred plus hours game time just waiting to be played, and the finger moves off the buy button. And this coming from a man who probably puts in more game time a month than most out there.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Dear Esther


 Good morrow gamers, I bring a very interesting and poignant video game (or shall we call it, an interactive story book) to the table for discussion today. 

Dear Esther, originally released in 2008 by indie-dev thechineseroom, has been remade utilising the graphical advancements within the Portal 2 edition of the Source engine.  

Buy it : Here!

Shooting aliens in a revolutionary way?–Vita!

sony-playstation-vita

hex Recently, I have played through Resistance 3 and  Killzone 2 on my PS3. Both of these games are high profile Playstation exclusives (granted KZ2 is one from over a year ago). While I played them a thought began to form in my mind (it takes a while). These games have no benefit or advantage from being exclusive to a PS3. Granted there a few moments in Killzone where you have to wiggle your pad in the air to plant bombs but it was pointless and the games could have been quite playable on a PC with little modification from the development team.

That’s where my thought started, then I considered the advantages of a PC for gaming and other than mouse heavy games like Real Time Strategy and some puzzlers there is no real advantage to PC gaming. – Yes, there is the fact that a mouse and keyboard is the greatest control system ever developed but I'm talking about playability not the Pad vs. Mouse conundrum.

mousevscontroller22

Now a PS3 has that alluring Playstation Move setup that you can get (not tried it but I will get to it, I assure you). The Xbox has that kinneckt, Connect, Kinextz, Kinect nonsense and the Wii as we all know started this terrible waggle generation with their Wii Remotes.

It comes to my mind that there is no advantage or benefit from any gaming platform, The whole argument balances out by personal preference, it’s like this now and it will be like this in a years time and it will be like this well into the next generation of gaming. 

This is where my thought erupted into an actual opinion, I can in fact see where the Sony Vita market is. It is in the realm of console gaming that the only true ‘differences’ can be found in gaming.

dsc_6098

The 3DS has its 3D technology that you may love or hate but it is something that only that one device has. The Vita will have cutting edge graphics (apparently)  and a ‘back-touch’ interface (I am told) as well as its pretty interesting if not financially viable 3G connectivity.

The PC as yet has no real ‘handheld’ solution (I know Razer are working of a sort of super portable thingy but its not really a handheld). As for  smartphones as much as the games are cheap as Mars bars and seriously abundant in number there are as yet no titles available that make you rally want to class your phone as a gaming machine (if you feel the need to say ‘Angry Birds’ while reading this then please go and kill yourself now *not actual advice*).

So if the world needs a handheld gaming market then it is in my opinion a more interesting realm than the ‘home’ gaming one. However, I am a firm believer that the world does not need these devices and in all honestly I was done with it when I had my Sega Game Gear.

game_gear0

PC’s win at gaming here’s why – You need one for life (internet, porn, work, banking, family pictures, Torrents and a myriad of other tasks) so if you spend very little extra you can get a gaming PC, there are more games available for the PC than there is on every console ever made together and multiplied by how many hot dinners you have had (even if your really fat)

  RoastDinner_468x332

Monday, 20 February 2012

Notch - MoJamming?

humble-bundle-mojam

hex Recently the Humble Bundle website have run a promotion allowing its patrons to take part in a strange scheme. It worked like this – you pay whatever you want (as usual) but instead of getting some indie games you got to watch Notch and Friends (totally a TV show I would pitch by the way) code a game in a weekend, from scratch (and you get the source code) there where also two teams of Mojang ‘buddies’ (other indie developers) making games.

Humble-Bundle-6Mojam

As both a supporter of Indie games and a financial Hobo I donated the lowly amount of $5 to the project and watched with great glee as the team coded and chatted (and threw stuff at each other). Eventually I downloaded a rather ropey Alpha build of a game where lots of identical ‘brown things’ run about the screen and one ‘brown thing’ could shoot the other ‘Brown things’

mojam0

I was confused by the Alpha and a little worried that the team that brought me Minecraft was about to let me down. I was unable to watch the code warriors do battle for most of Sunday as my real life got in the way of my desire to watch the Indie equivalent of Big Brother.

mojam 2

This morning, the moment I got chance I downloaded the most recent build (final build?) simply called ‘Mojam.exe’ – I was amazed. In a weekend the team had created something that sits firmly in the middle of Gauntlet and Dungeons of Dredmor.  Is it a game I will sink hours into? No, but it is fun and exciting and an example of just how talented these people are. It is also the foundation for a much bigger game if the team decided to go further with it.

mojam1

The way that Mojang conduct business is just inspiring – the twitter feed alone would be the board meetings of other companies. This Mojam stunt has raised money for charity, promoted Mojang as a company and reminded us all that Mojang are very talented people who are showing the industry a better way to make games.

There is another game (a unity based title) ready to play as part of the Mojam promotion (not tried that one yet) as well as another promised very soon.

If i was asked on Thursday who the most important man in gaming was then I would have said Mr Gabe ‘Valve’ Newell was the man to point at but after this weekends stunt I think Notch maybe the bearded master of the industry.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

My so called (gaming) life

 

Kids_playing_video_games

fish[2]This month I turned 36, and it gave me cause to reflect. Not on getting old or stuff like that, because I don't give crap, I mean about games. Of my 36 years, how much of it has been spent gaming? I recently read that the average American kid has gamed about the 10,000 hours by the time they are 18. So I have got to have that beat right?

$(KGrHqUOKiEE5dCn,Kj(BOb)RM6m!!~~60_35Well my gaming life started as a kid, around ten I would guess (I can clearly remember the. system and the game but have no idea how old I was). So thats 26 ish years of gaming at varying intensity. At this point in time I would think I spend probably about 25 hours a week gaming (3 to 4 hours of an evening and at least 10 over a weekend). So how much gaming have I done in total then? Well that totals up to 1300 hours a year, though that doesn’t take time off into consideration, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it is closer to 1500 a year. So if we are working on ballpark figures I would guess I have gamed somewhere in the region of 30,000 hours, or to put it another way nearly 3 and a half years.

Wow when I put it like that it sounds like a shit load and I am wasting my life away. Hmm, what else would I do, watch shitty tv shows? Take up golf? No I am perfectly fine about the fact that play a ton  of games. I am forced to wonder if anybody other than gamers have an interactive activity that they are so happy and enthusiastic about that they can spend that much time on.

Humm what does seem a shame is all that time and effort put in, and I haven’t really gained any skills that are transferable. Sure I believe that my hand eye coordination is probably better than most, and I genuinely believe that gaming helps keep the brain healthy, active and developing. But nothing I can take into my working life for instance.

Ah well here is to another 30,000 hours.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

When good games get difficult.

killzone2

hex As a long time player of pretty much every genre of games it is rare that I get to a point that a game becomes too difficult for me to continue. In fact other than games designed to be like this (mega man springs to mind as well as IWTBTG) I can’t really think of anything I have stopped playing because its too difficult.

Last night this almost changed though. Killzone 2 is difficult, not consistently so but there are moments as I played through that I just had to question my own skills. Difficulty spikes like none I have seen. The last mission in fact being so difficult that I actually considered giving up.

After I would say 4 hours of repeating a ‘killbox’ sequence and each time getting a littler closer to victory (memorising movements of the bad guys) I eventually got to check point that meant to didn’t have to fight three hordes of Helghast again.

Eventually I was shoving a shotgun into the mouth of their mighty general and then watching a rather nice ending video.

The thing is that the difficulty of the ending did not add to my enjoyment of the game. it frustrated me. An ending to a game should feel epic but not be so hard that half the players will give up. An ending should be a reward for the journey not a punishment for getting this far.

Capture

If anything an ending should be your characters moment, the moment when he/she shines and simply walks through a sea of enemies without a scratch, the moments when your excellence shows. At the end of Killzone 2 I felt lucky to have gotten through alive, no doubt the feeling that the developers where going for but still not a reward for all the players that would have given up.

It is possible that I suck as games. Smile

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Lifetime sub’s. A sign of doom?

tor-collectors-edition

hex The collectors edition of The Old Republic retailed for over a hundred pounds and people where more than willing to pay this. In fact personally I actually regret not buying it when I had the chance. On top of this people who had just brought this massive box where expected and happy to pay a monthly subscription like the rest of us. Taking away the production costs of a collectors edition Bioware/EA still secured a massive amount of revenue for the game with very little effort.

Because of this if TOR was to have offered a lifetime sub at launch it would have had to have been an offer for people who brought the collectors edition of the game (just on principle) and would most likely have been around  £200, so the cost of the game at launch could have been up to £350. This is unreasonable and hence a good reason not to offer it.

f2p

Every game I can think of that has offered a lifetime sub has now faded into obscurity (with the exception of LotRO and that one is open for debate) Champions online, Star Trek online, DCUO all now considered less than successful.

Babylon_fallingI wonder if offering a Lifetime sub is a decision that is made when the publishers of a product are unsure as to its quality and playability a way to ensure at the very least a good starting capital or sudden influx of real life gold when you think your game is not going to be around long enough to earn this money organically through subscription payments.

Is a lifetime sub the sign of a doomed game in the public mind or is it literally a sign of a struggling business?

468_free_realms_logo

In the case of the only lifetime sub that I own, FreeRealms. I think its a great move as its player base is the younger gamers who would probably loose interest in it within three months anyway so a lifetime sub means allot of revenue for Sony that they are well aware they would not usually get, even the parents who buy these are aware of this but for the relatively small cost its a fair trade off.

If a game you played suddenly offered lifetime subscriptions would you think it was time to look at a new MMO or would you snap it up as a good investment?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Pay Monthly, Play once.

Portal_-_The_Cake_is_a_LIE_Wallpaper_eqreb_large

hex Have you played Killzone 2? it’s very good. It’s not as good as Killzone 3 and it’s much harder.

Have you seen Attack the Block? it’s a great movie with an exciting plot and adorable fuzzy black dog things.

Have you read the Hunger Games? it’s being released as a movie soon so its finally easy to find in retail stores, you should pick it up!

attack-the-block-poster-feat

The above are just three of the things that prevent me from sinking time into The Old Republic. When I add work, parenting, family commitments and Netflix to this combination there is even less time to play TOR.

Thankfully though, the wonderful thing about MMO’s is that they will keep taking my money regardless of how often I actually log in. This is becoming something of an irritation to me.

The conundrum is this: I hate the so called ‘Free To Play’ pricing model but I am resentful of a subscription that I sometimes go a month without using.

In the end though, the subscription is preferable to the crap that the F2P players have to put up with. Armour in item shops, Advertisements on loading screens and whatever other piles of crap they are wading though.

lotro_generic_teleport_screen_07-1

It’s strange how about 2 years ago I was a vocal supporter of the F2P model. I saw it as freedom for frugal gamers, allowing us to play whatever we wanted and sink our pennies into the ‘current’ game we likes as apposed to signing up for a whole month just to play once with our buddies. When LotRO went free to play I began to notice that even though I was a subscriber there where things I needed to spend my money on, not necessities granted but little trinkets and scraps of fun that I wanted and I began paying them my sub AND throwing about £15 a month at the store.

Eventually the advertisements and ‘pay now to unlock this option’ won out and I cancelled my sub. Now I rarely load up LotRO, I wonder if it was still a sub only game would i still play? or at least drop for a month every now and again?

The F2P model attracts many new players to a game that’s true however I wonder about the games of those games, it seams to me that most F2P games have a younger audience. – Resulting in a more irritating one.

freewow

I think MMO’s should go with the ‘unlimited trial’ model where you can play the game for free but are locked and can not level beyond a set point. this allows for gamers to try it properly and for companies to showcase it in a fair way, if the product if good then people will subscribe even if only for a short time, but thanks to the unlimited trial can pop back occasionally to see if the alterations that the developers have hopefully made are enough to bring them back for another month or so.

All that said, TF2 is still awesome!

Or, I’m an elitist dick.

Not sure I am happy on erm Tera ferma

 


fish[2]I recently got to play Tera on there sneak peak weekend, so having played it for a couple of hours I thought I would share my impressions. I suppose that I should put in  a disclaimer that the game is not finished and is subject to change.

Right first to things first,  bloody hell is it bloody gorgeous. It really is a beautifully stunning game, that uses the unreal engine at its best, hell it is not even that obvious it is the unreal engine. The environments seem to be varied and enough to prompt a gasp at some of the vistas. Special mention must go to the enemies, it seems to have some the most creative and unsual Dogboymonstrosities I have ever seen. There seems to be a good choice of character and races to pick from,  and if you have a fondness of exposed character flesh you are well catered for.  Personally I made a little pipe smoking dog man thing,  because it made me smile.

The combat was pretty good,  you have the traditional skill bar, however you predominantly attack with right and left mouse clicks, in my characters cases left for Lance attack and right for shield block.  and you hit what you are facing, to the point that if you are ranged you have to shoot at where the target will be.

TERA 2012-02-08 15-15-51-79That's a good chunk of praise isn't is, oh well. There is a reason that I only played for a couple of hours, I got bored. The games quests are dull unmotivating kill/collect quests and the interesting combat could only hold me for a little bit. If it had a strong narrative then this could have been the game for me, and there is still time I guess. However i think this game could fall by the wayside. It reminded me of a prettier Aion, with better combat game-play, if TERA 2012-02-08 15-23-45-40that sounds like a compliment to you then Tera could be the game for you.

I find it interesting that Tera decided to fix mmo game-play but keep the dull questing, and The Old Republic decided to fix the questing and keep the dull combat. Is it too much that we can have both in the same game (keeping my fingers crossed for Guild Wars 2).

Success can be a little disappointing

 

52988-YOUARESODONE

fish[2]I love games, however if there  is one thing that they fail at, it is failing. Even if we don't succeed in a game, it never really feels like we have lost anything. We never get anxious or nervous at the prospect of failing in  a game, because the next chance at success is only a quick load or the next match away. There is nothing really riding on the game, so there is no fear of failure.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzThere are only a handful of exceptions to this, competitive Starcraft games spring to mind, but generally it is just a case of saying "oh well" and trying again. A few years ago, before micro transactions became king, a few games had an interesting idea. Basically you gambled on your own success, paying a few pence upfront in the hopes of winning a few pounds if you "pwn" in the game. This is not exactly something that I want to see more of, however it is an interesting way of incentivising playing, and in turn encouraging the player to put the extra effort in.

I know games are meant to be fun, and I like feeling cool and powerful as much as the next guy. However as good a beating a boss first time feels, perhaps if you had spent hours attempting and failing at it, then finally beating Super-Meat-Boy-Meatboy_postit would feel a 1000 times more satisfying. I am guessing that this is partly why games like super meat boy and dark souls have become really popular. Yes they are bastard hard, but bloody hell even small victories feel more climactic than finishing some games.

I know that this isn't for everyone, but sometimes when we play a game we wish for a little more challenge. One of the things that actually surprised me about Skyrim is how willing it is to just kill you if you aren't careful. Everytime a bear pops up and mauls me to death, I can't help but smile.