29 October 2014

I bet the he stole it from the Tinman

That Lion is a bastard
So with this Gaming Over Time ordeal still happening, with My Clash of Clans village slowly grinding up between Wars, my Boom Beach Island improving at a much more individual rate, and now entering Simpsons Tapped Out, there is one more game I've been partially playing: Lionheart Tactics.

I'm a fan of tactical games so I was eager to get started and find out what this game was like and take notes on how it works everything out.

I began with my Hero, asleep in bed and stared at by a strange black knight looming from across the room. So I did what any other character would: followed the tutorial and did as I was told. It wouldn't be for a few matches that I would finally have freedom to do my own attacking with my own band of troops that had joined me from the castle and a local inn.

Now, I had all the basic archetypes and the only thing left was to continue defending the kingdom by attacking these Black Knights of the Mirror. I'm not sure what the mirror is, but it's bad is all I know.

The problem is, and I know it's petty, but I don't like the Aesthetics. It's colours are too dull and dark, even with the brightness turned up, and all the map and character models look very meh. It's not them, it's me. I can get picky with certain art styles sometimes, and it puts me off. Still, I took notes on the game itself, because I don't see why I can't think how another game, that I happen to really enjoy, wouldn't be able to take advantage of this format.

Characters level up as normal, gaining experience with each encounter, the majority to those who fought hardest.

Skills are then learnt in the barracks, placing down gold and waiting Minutes/hours/days for that to reach the next tier. Skills are based on the characters class, of which you cannot change out.

New skills are learnt by gaining ranks, as each new characters begin at a Novice Rank, and then Work their way up to Ultimate.

Special resources are available as Crowns, earns in game in small values, and can be used to expediate learning and Healing.

Characters do not end battle completely healed and ready for the next battle. They must heal over time. So far I've seen that the rate is a constant and the duration increases based on the amount of health lost.

You do not heal in battle. If you have a healing source, you gain Temporary Hit Points which disappear at the end of the fight.

If you die in a fight, that character cannot be used for a period of time. Whether the downtime is based on health or rank, or if it's a set time, I'm not sure. I've only died with one character, the Brogue Thief. (Seriously, she's a terrible stereotype of a Pom.)

Purchases are Random. That's one thing that irks me most. You spend a bunch of gold and you'll end up with potentially 3 pieces of junk you weren't looking for. Same with Promotion Stones, you could spend much more money than you want trying to get one stone you need. Same with if you want to buy a new soldier. You pay, and it rolls up a random Character.

It's unappealing. To get anything definite, you have to sink in money to Hero packs which may also give you a bonus of gold and crowns on top.

Microtransactions have never been a problem since I make a point not to spend money on something like in game currency, and especially since I have no real life money at the best of times, but there is still a point where I just get turned off by it, and that just barely reaches it.

All these notes make me think of one of my favourite tactical RPGs, Tactics Ogre. Directed by Yasumi Matsuno, it is a fantastic piece of work that I still play today when I charge my PSP. So thinking of a game like that, knowing that the world of Ogre Battle is immense and full of conflict, it makes me feel funny in the pants and wish it were real.

Because all those silly aesthetic irks I have would disappear. I adore the art style of Tactics ogre games. But frankly, I would buy any Ogre Battle game that comes out in the future, and every night I clasp my little hands together and wish that another would come. Or another remake of the older ones.

28 October 2014

Fragmented Fragtrap

I roll my d34.
Claptrap the Fragtrap.  He's a robot who has gone from a simple doorbot to a lean mean killing machine, complete with stair climbing protocols.

While that may not seem like much to a human, it's a life changing event to be a CL4P-TP and be able to roll up stairs.

With becoming a Vault Hunter, he can now grow in a trio of ways.  And I chose to go with the Fragmented Fragtrap, because I thought it was interesting and fun.

But after finishing the game once, I feel I should be frank and say that any player should leave this until higher levels.

Lets explain it.  The whole tree is based on Subroutines.  Every 100 seconds, or however many Frag Stacks you have on screen at the time, you change subroutines which increases a specific aspect and detrimenting every other aspect.

It starts with Gun and Shield Subroutines, giving you a bonus to Gun Damage, Reload and Fire Rate, or a bonus to Shield Capacity and Health Regeneration, but then expands out to a Melee Subroutine and Elemental Subroutines.  But the counter is that you suffer a penalty to Gun Damage, or Element Damage, of any other type.  So there's always a chance you'll be doing between 75-85% damage regardless of what you have equipped.  Mind, if you're equipped correctly, you'll be doing from 120-132% damage.  That's pretty sweet.

But therein lies the problem.  There are 7 Weapon Types, 5 Elements, and then you account Melee and Shield.  That means that you have a 1 in 14 chance you'll end up with the right weapon if it rolls up.  Do I like those odds?  Not particularly.

I have a regular setup for my four weapons to cover most instances.  I'll have a Fire, Shock and Corrosive weapon, and then a Miscellaneous in the fourth slot.  If it were Borderlands 2, it'd be a Slag weapon, but that's not discovered yet (Hence Pre-Sequel).  So lately I've assigned it to Cryo, because it's new and it's fun.

Then I cover my ammunition count by having different weapon types.  I prefer my Automatic weapons, so there'll be a Combat Rifle and an SMG in there off the bat.  I will be picky, but there will be a certain type of Laser Weapon in there too, because they're freakin awesome.  Then, by process of Elimination through the rule of Spray and Pray, that'll leave a Pistol in the last slot.

So I'll have 8 chances of having a bonus to weapon damage, 7 if I drop the Melee option (Which I may do since I don't do enough Melee to account it).  Fair enough, that's not too bad.  But since it's level 30, I can't exactly go about and pick and choose what weapons I want.  I have a variety to choose from but, and this is something I've noticed closer to the game, there are a shed load of white guns being dropped about.  I can't use Common guns.  And grinding is spending a lot of time on chances that probably won't happen.

It's what you would call a Dilemma.

But this will be an entirely different story at later levels.  Once I reach 50, and find where the best legendary weapons are hiding, I'll dive straight back into this and start really screwing everyone and everything over.

For now though?  I'll jump over to Boomtrap.  I do like the 1812 Overture, after all.

22 October 2014

Take me down to Cerberon City

Quake II is one of my all time favourite games.  I flogged the shit out of the Demo back in the day, wishing I could play it more and finish it properly, but it was a number of years before I could.

Now I have it on Steam and I download it occasionally when I want some nostalgia.   I only wish I could play it with it's music because, like some of it's predecessors, it doesn't have any unless you have a disc in. This can easily be solved by mods, of which I haven't gotten around to trying yet, but will next time I install the game.

Recently I had a crack at it's Sequel, Quake 4.  Yes, Four, because the third iteration was taken over by a Multiplayer Arena game that, while cool, was a bit of a disappointment due to the more severe derailment of theme.  Especially since Quake was abut fighting demons in extremely cool gothic settings, then Quake II changed it to fighting Barbaric Cyborgs.

Quake 4 at least brought it back to the theme of fighting Barbaric Cyborgs.  So I decided to give it a crack this year because I have a computer that actually worked and could play this and Doom 3 (though not the BFG Edition, apparently.)

It's a huge leap from the Quake II I remember where occasionally I would double tap the F1 key to get rid of the notification of an updated mission, and push on gibbing anything and everything that plonked itself in front of me, while actually admiring the dirty, rusting militaristic architecture of the levels.

One of my favourite enemies was the Berserker, with a Hammer as one hand and a pointy hunk of metal as the other arm. He would scare the shit out of you as he bolted around corners, chasing you down while you backpedal playing Keepaway.

The New Berserker though is much more... Shocking. He can shoot lightning from his spike, or send a wave from punching the ground and it's very disorienting.  But he still chases you down until you're within boxing range and proceeds to pummel you into paste.

That's what I like about him.  He's simple and aggressive.  Easy to stop too, but that doesn't mean his flavour is any less lacking.

But while the game is fun in it's own right, difficult in dodging all the baddies and their dangerous methods of murder, it didn't quite feel the same as the Quake II I know and love, and I can't quite put my finger on it.  I've been debating over it for months now, wondering whether it's the style that's put me off, or the gameplay though it's not too much different, or just how it's showing it's age now that I've gotten into it almost a decade later, where now games are in a Cinematic Wonderland.

I can't quite put my finger on it.  The closest I can get is that the game is trying too hard to be realistic and it kinda ruins the art style.  Quake II was cartoonish, and was indistinguishable when it came to certain details of the face and such, but the rest was clear and gave you a feel of being in an alien military world.  Everything was efficient and little was done for style.  The Palace was one of the funnest areas I've had the pleasure of roaming around, transitioning between three (or four, i forget) levels trying to find one piece to get into another area and then eventually returning to finish the job.

This didn't offer that.  it was a series of convoluted mazes and corridor encounters between big room boss fights/wave fights.  I like a big dramatic fight with a new powerful enemy, such as the dual spider Strogg in Quake IV, but I couldn't get into much after that.  Even the Makron fight wasn't as terrifying.

I dunno.  If they do a new Quake, I do want them to keep with the Stroggos fight.  That was always fun.  But don't try to get too realistic.  And give me something to really fight for.  Make me want to railgun a Makron through the giant brain.

21 October 2014

Exempting Language

Have a link to quotes
I'm a proud Australian. I think of home and I think of the long beaches, the mateship culture that epitomises my home, and the fun you can have going down the Main Street of Brisbane.  It puts a warm fuzzy feeling inside me that I haven't felt since I've moved to Murica.  But then again, that could just be the fucking cold weather here.
Being a video gamer, I have gotten accustomed to the Murican accents that are ever present regardless of the setting, whether it's Medieval Europe or the far flung future, where everyone might have some sort of translating device to accommodate the clicks and whirs of a strange insectoid race, but it still comes through the same if not in subtitles.
There are always a few examples of vocal multiculturalism and it always comes down to specific characters, whether it's the Bad Guy in an American action film, or an ally in a Class based shooter.
I've done a couple of aesthetic swaps in a few games.  Remember Me was set in Neo Paris so I changed the voices to French and added subtitles, because I can't understand Francais.  And I did the same with Metro 2033 with Russian Language.
Borderlands the Pre-Sequel is predominantly Okka, and I've been a bit excited about that. To hear an accent from home in a video game?  Bloody Oath!  And since it's in one of my favourite game settings, that just makes it better.
There are Australian references everywhere, from lunatics calling "lucky bastard" in his final breath, to a bloke called Peepot looking for his Swagman mate who found a bIllabong and tucked a Jumbuck in his tucker bag.  It's pretty funny, some of the lines are clever and the discussions with some of my Murican friends have brought out more and more laughs.
But with everything that ever is and was, there is something embarrassing.  Something that comes for the pierced midriff and muffin top of Australian Culture.  And they're called Bogans.
The item in Question: the Boganella, a shotgun that has an inbuilt voice chip with lines of a typical durry smoking, foul mouthed, Southern Cross Tramp Stamp Tart that would get into a fight with your common blue collar bloke in a pub because he wouldn't buy her a pack of smokes in trade for a dash up her crotch monster.
The thing is, the vocabulary of one of these yellow toothed charmers is vulgar.  It's downright shocking, and it's really unsettling to hear my character yelling out profanities like an episode of Jerry Springer had just been turned up to 11 as I bounded across the moon of Pandora.  No enemy spoke like this, they were relatively tame compared to this Muffin Topped Slapper of a Shotgun.
There is only one thing I can do and that's boycott the gun when it comes up again, which it will due to second playthroughs and multiple characters that I will surely be doing.  See the 600 hours I've spent on Borderlands 2.

15 October 2014

"How do YOU like target practice? Huh? HUH?!"

So the other day, I had the biggest giggity goo I could have had for Borderlands the Pre-Sequel.  I'd watched the gameplay videos of Shmaptain Shmerica, WIL-209, and Clara Eastwood, and I thought "yeah, they're going to be fun to play."  And I even noted that the experience would be only slightly different because of the voice overs becoming more personal so replaying as different characters wouldn't just mean killing the same monster with a different class, it changes your emotional status towards it too since you get treated differently because of that class.
But what has been left last was CL4P-TP (Pron: Claptrap) the Fragtrap.  And he has just made my day.
In times before he has been an Iconic character, a target for abuse and for ridicule.  Even in Borderlands 2, he was incredibly depressing with a cheerful voice due to a malfunction.  His birthday was incredibly sad.
At one point, he had power.  He was the leader of a Revolution.  He brought his kind to power, converting those who were against him into one of his minions.  Granted, he was brought down a number of notches due to Vault Hunters, but at least he got far enough that the subjugation came to an end.
Now, in the Pre-sequel, the bridge between his fall from grace to a lonesome and pitiful life as the last of his species, we see him try again to kick arse and chew bubblegum.  And he has no way of chewing bubblegum.
Claptrap starts as any other Vault Hunter.  He has his guns and he has his Action Skill.  But rather than do one super thing for a period of time when available, just like any other Vault Hunter in the game, his action skill begins a program: VaultHunter.EXE.  It determines parameters and from a list of options activates anything from Digistructing a Bomb that he can chase someone down with, to firing cannons to the melody of the 1812 Overture.
Once I heard that, I knew I had to do something about it.  I knew I had to restart the Robolution.  It was my destiny, and the destiny of my friends to join me in helping take over the Moon of Pandora.
I just hope they have a Che Guevara outfit.  My Partisans need to know who's boss.

14 October 2014

Struggle Town, Destiny

Please fill in the Blanks
It's been irking me for weeks, this game.  I jump on there every day, fulfill a few bounties, and then log off to do whatever.  The game has become a chore, with seemingly superfluous goals.  Levelling up faction scores just to make better gear available.

But what really bothers me is that the game is so shallow.  Like, immensely shallow.  I know the four zones inside and out.  I know how to blitz a story mission from the get go.  It's just the same thing over and over again.

But I can only say that it's my fault.  I continue to look at it at a glance and think "it's an MMO", but then my second thoughts say "No, they never said it was an MMO."  Then my third thoughts say "It fucking well should be an MMO."

When I think MMO, I think of games like World of Warcraft, and Wildstar.  They have IMMENSE worlds which can take days to full explore.  Not to mention it takes about the same time to reach the maximum level.

Destiny as a single player game feels much like a Halo game, where you can finish the game in a matter of hours, and to top it off you'll be at maximum level.  Then after that, you're just repeating the same missions, regularly doing the same thing twice in a row.

The story itself is incredulously shallow too.  There's little definition in anything.  The Traveller lost to the darkness, and now uses Guardians to fight them off.  You as a Guardian find a Russian Warmind, travel to other planets to get more information and pieces to access the secret realm where you end up fighting what's considered a God.

And Bob's your mothers brother, that's the story.  Not "In a nutshell".  The nutshell is the story.  I know it's a template to develop other stories within the game, but goddamn it you could've started off with a better starting story.

All in all, I can't look at it as an MMO.  I struggle to call it anything more than a Template.  The potential is too large for it as a start, and I am getting very tired of playing the game only to complete some daily missions for little return.

I want this game to succeed and fulfill all that potential, and I'm annoyed to say that I will be investing more into the game, just because of that fact.  I just hope that by my investment, I won't regret it.

08 October 2014

Spectator eSports

That's right, Jockstrap.
Working in a pub has been nice these past few weeks. But I have to admit, it does tend to be a little boring some days. Especially early during the week when everyone is being sensible and going to bed early for work the next morning.

Since it's a sports pub, I am left a little to my own devices and watching the Telly's and the sports channels they're usually playing. I don't normally watch sports. I just haven't been that interested in simply watching them, as I would rather play. Not that I did much of that in my prime, that's far from the point.

What I have done in my prime and continued to do is play Video Games.  I've learnt some of the plays, I've experienced rise and downfall in shooters and strategys alike, and I've kept a stray eye on the slow rise in the evolution of Multiplayer into a competitive environment.

I couldn't give you a history of Competitive Multiplayer, but as anyone can tell you it has evolved enormously over the years and, in some cases, overtaken peoples lives in Video Games.  Shooters were once evenly matched with equipment littered across a field with powerups in dangerous open fields or hallways.   Now you can customise your player from your class down to what equipment you're fighting with.

Strategy games have always had a difference between factions, but now within a single faction you can have different play styles, which on top of that will change the flow of a massive firefight into a bloodbath.

And now over the last half dozen years, a new style has risen.  MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.  This has begun taking forms of it's own, and very quickly began world wide tournaments.  This is what begun my thoughts on this, when the International DOTA Tournament was televised on ESPN2 (conveniently a channel that the bar has).

From what I've read ESPN were happy with the results, seeing that there was an enormous fan base getting into what is a relatively untapped source of audience for Television.  There already are online channels to watch these sorts of shows, some bigger than others, but they're all there, and the range can only get bigger.  Maybe one day ESPN will dedicate a channel to talking Video Game Tournaments.

I can only wonder what other games will be added on to these tournaments though that will try to compete with big name games?  An upcoming game from Gearbox, Battleborn, is taking the MOBA style and adding it to a Shooter Format, both extremely competitive and popular features that, given the right balance and continued support, will have world tournaments in as short a time as a year.

The other thing though is Culture.  Watching Gridiron, Soccer, Cricket, whatever, it's all a thing of physical skill that other people admire and respect.  Televising these things have been on for decades, and while adding eSports won't rock the boat, it still confuses and scares some people that this other culture of "slovenly nerds clicking on a computer screens" will suddenly be added onto the Top 10 Mishaps on Sportscenter, like when someone disconnects from Battle.Net during a Starcraft Tournament (Give Us LAN Or Give Us More Minerals).

I still remember the series of tweets crying in despair about why ESPN is airing a non athletic sport on their channels.  While funny, it will be interesting if or when the channels really decide to throw all their eggs in and start airing a lot more than just DOTA.