With the end of the semester right around the corner (finals are next week for me), I’ve been looking all over to find games that help me just chill out. This past week has been Borderlands (the first one) and Civilization V (with a couple of honorable showings from a few other games that I’ll mention).
Aside from the initial PhysX issues Borderlands was having, it’s been running pretty flawlessly. I’ve made my way through the first zone of quests and I’m in the Dahl Headlands (I think that’s what it’s called). I’m having fun, but comparatively speaking to Borderlands 2, the game feels way emptier than I expected. I think this is a side effect of Borderlands 2 having fully voice acted quests. I wish I was kidding, but Borderlands is a much quieter game as a result of less chatter resulting from quests.
I never thought I’d admit it, but I miss Claptrap and his wub wub dubstep.
Anyway, Civilization V! I beat a game as Venice the other day through pure tourism. It was a marathon style game, I was on Settler difficulty (hey, I’m here to have fun, not get smeared against the wall), and it took me until around 2004 to beat the game. I’m looking forward to trying other civs (I’ve got several different multiplayer games with friends going on so I can do that) but right now my favorite game changers are Venice and the Shoshone. I have yet to get to the end of the tech tree these days, but I’m hoping to push through with a game as the Babylonians.
Now, the other games I’ve dabbled in.
Awesomenauts. They just introduced the new character Penny Fox. Normally (for deeply personal reasons) I despise foxes, but this one’s perfectly fine with me (maybe I’m moving on). Penny is extremely fun to play and is remarkably potent on the battlefield. I think she may supplant Ayla as my favorite, but it’s hard to say at this point since I’ve only played her on Practice mode with two bars of AI difficulty (it goes from 0 to 5). Yesterday I played through the entire list of characters, reinforcing my perspectives on several of them and surprising myself with how easy some of them are to play (Leon is definitely fun to play, Froggy G not so much, Voltar and Genji are equally irritating to me but I can win, Ted McPain is so cool). Further, the addition of the new announcer SUSI (Specialized Universal Secretary Interface) adds another level of humor to the game that I really enjoy. When swapping announcers, I noticed that there’s four, but three of them appear to sound the same. I wonder what’s up with that.
Redshirt. I tried this out for a few hours last night. Apparently developed by a single person, Redshirt is a Star Trek parody displayed through a Facebook parody called “Spacebook”. You manipulate social media and events to move through the careers available on the station, ultimately culminating in becoming the Commander’s personal assistant (or something). There’s two modes, Story and Endless, where Story seems to end after about 155 days or so. It’s not a bad game and it’s charming in its deceptively simple approach. I especially enjoy the away missions where people get murdered (often my entire team but me because I sacrificed someone on the other team) and as a result a lot of job openings pop up. One thing that happened last night was I accidentally got someone to ask for a relationship with me, but because I was seeking a relationship with another character (one of the little bonus things you can do) I turned him down. Ever since I turned him down, I worked to get him to like me again and then he asked me for a relationship again. Well, rather than deal with that, an away mission popped up and I had to choose someone to die instead of me. I chose him and didn’t feel an ounce of remorse. UNWANTED AFFECTION DEALT WITH IN A PROFESSIONAL MANNER!
Also, side thing: I JUST figured out what was causing the power issues on my computer. Turns out there’s this thing called “Desktop Mode” on my battery icon and I have it on. It takes about 2 weeks to kick in and then it causes the system to ignore the charger while it depletes down to 50% and then it automatically charges back up. This is how it extends the life of the battery. Tragically, as a guy who does a lot of gaming, this can be perceived as an actual issue (two video cards suck up a lot of juice and the computer goes into some sort of panic mode). Whenever I reset the power, it treated it as resetting the Desktop Mode, so every two weeks it would kick in again and ignore the power supply. I have a choice now: cut off the desktop mode and just accept that my battery won’t last that long, or leave it in and just understand this will happen every now and again. I’ll figure it out.
Until next time!
P.S. Enjoy this video showcasing Penny Fox from Awesomenauts!
This week I’m heading off to PAX East in Boston.
There’s a lot less I’m interested in this year than last year. Last year, XCOM was new and turn-based strategy games were the major topic of conversation in several panels. This year, not so much.
As of right now, I’m hoping to sit in on a few panels:
– Noon: Rooster Teeth
– 4:30: Future of PC Gaming
– Either the 10:30 PA Make-a-Strip panel or the 11:30 Firaxis Games Mega Panel and I’m leaning towards the latter
– 1:00: ExtraCredits
– 10:30 Inside Gearbox Software
– 1:30 Live D&D Game
And that’s about it. I’m hoping to spend a bunch of time on the expo floor checking out booths and just generally relaxing and enjoying the convention overall. I don’t expect to be going back next year since it’s so expensive and the sign-up for passes this year sold out so quickly.
I’m hoping to see some Star Citizen at the convention and I know that Chris Roberts is sitting on the Future of PC Gaming panel. I think Awesomenauts will be there again and I’m hoping to swing by to see Lord of the Rings Online and a few other games.
I’m quite excited for the trip, but I’m concerned I won’t be interested enough in the convention this year. In future years I’m looking to go to local conventions instead as a cost cutting measure.
Anyway, I’ve got a lot of Diablo 3 to get to before the convention. I’m hunting for great loot!
Until next time!
P.S. “I’m on the hunt.” – Montross, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
Last week I discussed gaming inside of my comfort zone and now, well, let’s step outside for a bit.
I started with single-player games and therefore, by definition I suppose, multi-player games are somewhat outside of my comfort zone. That said, the local multi-player games, such as arcade cabinets or LANs or shared/split-screen situations, are some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Much like dining, local gaming is very much a social occasion that I enjoy thoroughly. Inspired by this (and voice chat), in recent months I’ve endeavored to talk more to people I don’t know in online games. It paid off most recently while playing Lord of the Rings Online last week. I’ve discovered that it’s always nice to have someone to talk to while wandering the dark paths of Mirkwood or even the well-lit, but wolf-infested trails of Enedwaith.
Outside of socialization, there are some types of games that just always fall outside of my comfort zone. Some I eventually do play, like hidden object games that I used to feel were such a waste of time, but now see the virtue in a decent hidden object game (hint: it has a story that’s fun and appeals to me). In this case, I can recommend The Clockwork Man and its sequel The Clockwork Man: The Hidden World. Both are on Steam and are short diversions with some replay value if you like that sort of thing (which I apparently do).
Some games start in my comfort zone and then just fall out of it, waiting for me to come to some decision. For example, I used to play a lot of real-time strategy games. They were all the rage for a few years and the market has shifted to more action-y, MMO-style games. As a result, I played StarCraft, WarCraft 2 and 3, Star Wars: Empire at War, Age of Empires, Empire Earth and so on. The latest RTS I can think of is StarCraft 2 and I have zero desire to play it. I’m not entirely sure of the reason since I truly love the story and the setting, but I’m just not feeling it. I’m quite literally not comfortable playing RTS games any more.
Occasionally a game pops into my comfort zone without dragging any others along for the ride (like RTS games did). These days there are some very popular games classified as MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena). Spawning from edited maps for older RTS games, today they’re marked by the extremely well-known League of Legends (a game I have zero interest in aside from the impact it has on the gaming community and marketplace as a powerhouse of popularity) and similar games (Dota 2 springs to mind and, before you ask, I also have zero interest). These games never appealed to me to begin with mainly because I’m not extremely fond of player versus player combat. I’ve always had anxiety issues with such confrontations (even in local gaming situations for example, Street Fighter) and in the MMO setting I’m not fond of how I was treated in past head-to-head situations by some people in Star Wars Galaxies. So you can imagine my surprise when I started playing Awesomenauts. It’s a 2D MOBA done with bright colors, humorous dialogue, unique characters, a plethora of potential strategies, and a practice mode so I don’t have to go head-to-head (or team-to-team). The thing that attracted me to it was even more surprising: the fact that it’s designed in the vein of a Saturday morning cartoon. The theme song slays me every time. That said, I maintain my zero interest in other MOBAs.
That player versus player thing is always something I’m uncomfortable with. Duels in games, even to just test our mutual capabilities (like the exercises I would run with my friends in Star Trek Online), they stress me out and make me extremely anxious. Clammy, shaky hands accompany every PvP situation I take part in.
Another situation I’m not extremely fond of making myself do (but will if compelled/convinced) is raid gaming. You know, find 12 or so people and pray you’re all able to go do this big boss fight thingy. Yeah, in my experience, it’s an exercise in futility and I’d rather spend my time doing easier things and enjoying the ride than throwing myself up against a wall. That also stresses me out a bit, but not as badly as PvP. Also, if I’m comfortable with the people that are going on the ride, this is much more fun for me. Small events like the small fellowship missions in LOTRO or the flashpoints in Star Wars: The Old Republic (not the crazy ones) are built for me and my close friends to hurdle, and those are often pleasant experiences. I still don’t seek them out very often.
It’s worth pointing out that if a game starts feeling tedious or like work, it immediately falls out of favor, but not necessarily my comfort zone. For example, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an amazing game and the thing that pulled me in was the cyberpunk style setting with the potential for playing without killing anyone (or at least, without killing MOST everyone). After a fashion though, I just felt it was too tedious. I still like the game and have every intention of going back to it (when that will happen is anyone’s guess) and it holds up as an example of an FPS that doesn’t make me motion sick.
I suppose you could say that in all these situations, I need something to entice me to leave my comfort zone. In the case of online games, it was my desire to associate with my fellow gamer. I wouldn’t have played The Clockwork Man if it wasn’t for its promise of an eventual steampunk connection with its story. With Awesomenauts, you have a game that doesn’t take itself seriously by design and it’s quite enjoyable in its occasional aggravation (I’m not exactly that good at it which is part of why I confine myself to the practice mode). With big group missions (or at least small group missions) I need to see the reward that’s being offered and I need to feel assured that the group is capable of getting there.
In the end, gaming outside of the comfort zone is, to me, all about expanding the comfort zone to include new things. It requires a draw of some sort. Just… I won’t play sports games. I’m sorry, but they do absolutely nothing for me. There’s nothing to pull me in at all. I’ll watch friends play Madden every now and again, but I don’t watch any sports for real and I’ve no desire to pretend to play them when I could be slaying goblins with magic swords (too generic?) or being a beautiful siren who sings people to their deaths (I’m planning on playing this in a tabletop RPG sometime soon and it’s WAY outside my usual character type).
Until next time!
P.S. “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (because, really, that’s what it’s all about)
This past week or so I’ve been frustrated by a single issue that keeps popping up time and again in places where I kind of expect a little problem, but not to this extent.
I’m speaking of rubber banding.
To clarify, I’m not talking of snapping your wrist with a rubber band or anything like that. I’m speaking of what happens when there’s a brief disconnect between your computer/client software and the server. Essentially, your computer keeps going and the server goes, “Wait, hang on…” and when there’s a reconnection, the server bounces (or snaps) your character or ship or whatever back to where it last had you on your computer. This is rubber banding (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… it’s a network issue, not hardware or whatever).
So, knowing this isn’t a hardware issue (I can tell because my frame rate is perfectly fine), I looked into potential connection issues. On the one hand, I’m on a wireless network. On the other, after several routing tests, there’s no problem between my computer and the router (regardless of the number of devices handling it). So, where’s the problem? If it’s not local, what’s keeping me from playing Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Diablo III without incident?
I’m honestly not sure. I think it exists outside my home and has to do with my ISP’s agreements with other local port providers closer to the server locations.
As a result, I stopped playing Star Trek Online this week shortly after getting back into it. I stopped playing Neverwinter after a day or two of play. Last night, I rubber banded so frequently and badly (it resulted in a slowdown in loot dropping from a Treasure Pigmy and then it disconnected me as soon as the loot dropped) in Diablo III that I refuse to play that for a bit too.
I’m looking around and wondering how many of my games require internet connections to play (not just DRM net connections, I’m talking forces you to be constantly in contact with a server for playing) and I’m really disappointed in myself. A majority of the games on my computer require that constant connection. I played some Awesomenauts, some Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, some XCOM Enemy Unknown.
Today, I feel fairly restless. I want to do what I want to do and I feel like I can’t without becoming inconvenienced. Ugh.
Here’s hoping my ISP sorts things out soon.
Until next time!
UPDATE: Here’s a thread on the STO forums that explains kind of what’s going on.
There are days where I just want to hit stuff with a stick. Seeing as that’s not entirely socially acceptable, I poke through my catalog of games to find the experience that fulfills that desire best. Sometimes I come up with a winner, sometimes I don’t. Here’s a short list of games that I find give me that great “hitting someone” satisfaction in order of most to least satisfaction.
Mass Effect 3 multiplayer – Seeing as I’ve finished the single player game, the multiplayer component provides replayability and a pile of stuff that I still need to improve upon. Oh, and my favorite weapon, the M-37 Falcon, is a micro-grenade launcher. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Lord of the Rings Online – My captain has a variety of abilities that just FEEL good. He screams and does damage, he swings his halberd and you hear the slicing, cracking, crunching of contact. Yeah, it gets tedious, but by then, my thirst for whacking things with a stick has been sated for at least a couple of hours.
Diablo III – On my Wizard, it’s just satisfying to voip people. Yes, that’s the sound things make when you just erase them from existence. That said, it’s more satisfying to do this during the earlier difficulties as Inferno has a habit of pissing me off repeatedly in a 30-minute period.
Awesomenauts – It’s starting to get up there, but there’s something eminently satisfying about playing Leon and popping out of stealth to land a killing blow on some unsuspecting ‘naut. I mostly enjoy playing Raelynn though. Sniping has never been this fun for me. It’s a bit of work and sometimes I cry out in frustration.
XCOM Enemy Unknown – The satisfaction of crushing an alien squad is quite palpable. Delicious even. That said, XCOM games are pretty cerebral and I always feel a little removed from the “satisfaction zone”, so these games (new and old) are fun, but less viscerally satisfying. Strategy games on the whole share that same removal sense, so that’s nothing new.
Star Trek Online – I don’t know what’s wrong with me these days, but I just have no drive to play this right now. I don’t know if it’s the high end grinding that’s in the game or anything, but I just haven’t been in the mood to command the Iowa lately. Thus, the satisfaction of playing has dropped. There is something to be said for lots of torpedoes, but that’s a bit of a gimmicky approach and isn’t practical in the long run (says the guy who has a character with a Caitian carrier that has nothing but torpedoes up front and turrets in the back; verdict: hilariously fun, but gimmicky as all hell).
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Right now it’s not super satisfying to play, but I’m building up a good craving and waiting until it turns into an out-and-out need to play the game. I’m thinking I’ll play a Knight soon because I love hitting things with Lightsabers, but also because the day I got the game I made a Knight and turned to my Mom and went, “Mom, I’m a Jedi Knight!” So, yeah. It’s not satisfying NOW, but it will be.
This list is forever in flux and I’ve left a few games off to help keep it short. Games will go up and down the list as my whims dictate. This is just a snapshot of my current thoughts.
Right now though, it’s the deciding which stick to whack on what target that’s the tough part.
Until next time!
P.S. “Enough is as good as a feast.” – Joshua Sylvester
It’s been a while since I’ve done an impression piece, so bear with me.
Awesomenauts is a relatively recent addition to my Steam library. It’s one of those “new-fangled” multiplayer online battle arena games (like League of Legends and so forth). I’ve never been particularly drawn to MOBAs but this one caught my eye with its over the top Saturday-morning cartoon style intro that seemed to be pulled straight from my childhood. Also, thanks to the Winter Sale, I was able to pick this game up for cheap and I do not regret it in the slightest.
Each character has a basic attack (ranged or melee, or in the case of one guy a ranged heal), a jump of sorts (some can fly, some can double jump, and others just have a really high basic jump), and two other abilities that are entirely dependent on the character. For example, Gnaw, my favorite right now, has a bite that leaves lingering damage, he can spit acid, and he can leave behind “weedlings” that shoot at things. Each character is completely unique and each character, while easy to pick up, requires a bit of play to truly get the hang of.
Thankfully, they added a practice mode that I’m slowly increasing the difficulty on. I’ve done a couple of quick battles online and I didn’t do so well. I’ll get better one day.
So far there’s three maps (I hear they’re adding a fourth one soon) and twelve unique characters. I’ve tried each of them and they’re all brilliantly designed and require different play styles. For example, the way I play Leon requires a hit-and-fade approach while the way I play Gnaw requires doggedly chasing people down to ensure they’re taking a lot of damage-over-time. A note on Gnaw: I think he’s the only character that puts DoTs on people and thus far I’ve experienced killing people while they’re “safe and secure” in their own base because the bots apparently don’t know how to heal themselves that well. Alas, this might not hold up in multiplayer, but hey, I’ll figure that out when I get there.
The game is a lot of fun and I’m teaching myself a lot of the ins-and-outs of each character so I have an idea of how to play them and how other people might use them against me. Every character is downright deadly in the right hands and I’m a bit squeamish in PvP situations.
Anyway! I highly recommend Awesomenauts for some humorous and enjoyable gameplay. From what I’ve read, this is essentially the gateway drug of MOBA-style games, but I wouldn’t know about that. I’m still not motivated to try League of Legends or any of its siblings. Maybe it’s the whimsy of Awesomenauts that brought me in, but I don’t particularly care… it’s just plain good fun.
Until next time!
P.S. “Clearing schedule for random acts of violence.” – Derpl Zork’s SUSI (Specialized Universal Secretary Interface) in Awesomenauts.