22 October 2014

Take me down to Cerberon City

#Quake
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.

07 October 2014

Fraternising with the Locals

"You refuse to play Crucible?  I don't date cowards."
- Lord Aaron D
So part of destiny is that it is a Social Game.  You'll always see other players roaming about, farming materials, shooting enemies of the Traveller, or just dancing on Venus to the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack.
Occasionally, you'll join a fireteam, whether through matchmaking or just someone randomly inviting you at the tower, and, just as meeting them in the bar, they'll always be a character.
One time during a Strike mission, I was matched up with these two guys and we took down a Fallen Devil Walker, a massive spider tank that I'm a bit of a fan of.
Then I got a message in Xbox live.
"Asshole".
Well fuck you too buddy, I first thought.  Nobody should just be called an asshole from nowhere.  I've had strangers in cars drive by and call me a racist cunt before, and I just let them drive on and wish them a fiery and gruesome car crash for wasting two seconds of my time.
But this cropped out of nowhere.  I didn't do anything against him, we were all in this together.  We were fighting the good fight.  Brothers in arms.  So I just sent him the most complicated question in the world. "Why?"
"He needed to kill that Walker."
Fair cop.  I thought kills of this nature were shared between the team,  it apparently is not.  That is the surprise of Destiny.  I apologised and said that he can find the same Walker in Patrol missions, but that just wasn't enough apparently.  But we finished the mission, and parted ways, but it stuck with me.
Like a guy I met the other day.  We began talking, I told him my history and he was like "Yeah... We have a lot of blacks."
My face scrunched up, much to his obliviousness, and said the only thing I could scrounge up. "Okaaaaayyyyy..."
"Yeah, there's a few good ones, like they're smart and stuff, but... They're mostly pretty dumb."
"... Right."
I just couldn't believe this topic just cropped up, literally out of nothing. I did my best and turned it back to killing shit in Destiny, but it continued to niggle in my mind that this random guy just immediately began ragging on the local African American Community for no apparent reason.  It just threw me off the bus and made me walk the rest of the way to school.
I haven't spoken to him since, but he'll still be in the back of my mind when I get a fireteam request, because there's always a chance someone will just be weirdly offensive.

01 October 2014

WWID: Tablet Sci Fi Strategy Game

For the last few months, I've been searching for a particular game for my tablet/phone to suit a particular taste but have yet to actually find anything to satiate it.

I've mentioned before that I've been playing a pair of strategy games on my tablet device, Boom Beach and Clash of Clans. I've improved and empowered everything slowly but steadily over the months to where I am now, somewhere rather respectable but still room for improvement. I've learnt the strategies, I've joined clans, I've continued to fight back against NPC's and players constantly.

But the thing is, I want to round off the themes. Clash of Clans is Medieval Fantasy; Boom Beach is Modern; So where's the Future? Where are the Gauss rifles on my standard infantry? where are my Walker Combat Machines? Where is my Planetary Defence Solution?

I've looked at game after game and each time after another they leave me terribly cold, simply because there is so little actual strategy to them.

Like "Galaxy on Fire: Alliances". The theme is there, with different playable races changing certain passive effects. But... what is there to play? All i did was check in for upgrades and purchasing non-descript soldiers, or buy Aerial combat vehicles that have a Rock/Paper/Scissors effect between them.

Then you assign them to your Carrier ships, which you can build and upgrade to your hearts content, and then send them off to do whatever, occasionally having to catering their loadout to suit what combat they will be entering.

It was all so terribly cold, and I didn't like that. Not to mention you couldn't actually understand what your limitations were. It was all guessing.

Galaxy Legend was a step in the right direction, where combat was much more of a visual effect, but I really didn't have to do anything other than place my characters in formation and let them do their thing. Everything was much more graphic, I could see the building's upgrades and they all had a role, but it wasn't my home to really defend. It was a city that I was involved with.

The most fun I had was a game called Plundernauts. You were a Pirate in search of an incredible treasure. You had a ship and you outfitted it as you levelled up and improved it. The actual play of it was fun, you line out your ships directions and tap on who you want to shoot at with whatever guns are in range. You had to do strafing runs, trigger healing and shield tech to help you, while you navigated around walls and obstacles.

What turned me off was that to get better equipment, you had to do a random roll. You sacrificed 3 items, most of the time they were superfluous, like Toxic Ooze, Meteorite Diamonds, and a Cybernetics Array, and you would randomly generated a piece of equipment. The gun would go either really well, or really piss poor. And if you had three piss poor items, you could just sacrifice them back into the Armoury, and they'd randomly roll into one other item, which again could go either way. You always had to watch out what you were tossing into the Cauldron, because there would always be a ridiculous chance that you would come out with Junk.

While the game itself was really fun, that just turned me off. Mainly because I just kept getting flogged with more and more junk, and repeating the cycle again and again, spending more and more dosh into it until I just got fed up.

I'm still going to continue my search for a Futuristic Strategy Game that suits, but why not put down a wishlist of what I really want?

Home base. There's a couple of ways about this. The most common way I've ever seen in these strategy games is a large field where you place your buildings and defend them from there. Enemy troops simply appear from nowhere where appropriate and start their attack onwards. Mind, those have all been Medieval theme games. That doesn't seem like something a Future game would let happen, teleporting Warriors from nowhere.

No, I like what Boom Beach does, where you have a Landing Craft and the squad of soldiers assigned to that craft would begin their assault, which could always change depending on what beach they landed apon.

That's what I imagine a Future game to do. Dropships flying in and dropping off their cargo and bolting back to safety to their Carrier. Enemy bases would have their different methods of entry to their territories, but players can have the most basic option of having one wide side of entry or having multiple entries whereby they can spread their defences. Heck, maybe they could just keep the layout and change the theme. It'd be nice to see a change from certain environments once in a while.

Structures would be typical. Headquarters, Barracks, Armoury, Special Ops Facility. Then buildings that provide currency and building materials to further everything until they reach parity. In which case, I don't know what one would do with those materials once there's no use for them...

Soldiers are something I would like to see customisable. Samurai Siege had a feature where you didn't just level up the Warriors, you also leveled up and changed their equipment. So you could have Warriors that did large amounts of damage in single strokes, or trade in their swords to deal less damage, but in an AOE. Same with Commanders, they could either tell Warriors to target defensive structures, or just make them move and attack faster.

So why not have that for future soldiers? Change their equipment so they take on different enemies in different ways, like a choice between Kinetic or Electric damage? Changing the way they take on different opponents.

On top of that, Heroes. Deeply customisable characters that can again change the way the player attacks or defends, based on what abilities and equipment have been chosen. Supporting their fellow soldiers as they're sent into the field, or helping structures at home base in economy or defence. They would have something like a skill tree, or a general layout of bonuses that would get picked and chosen, but not fully filled out as to create a players personal play style.

Occasionally there would be specialised tactical events. Place your heroes on a grid layout and have them assault a story mission. No backup, just the Heroes delving into a ruin or an enemy structure over a turn based layout, to gain themselves a special bonus for the day/week/month.

Races. All players should have their choice of races which change the three main aspects of the game: Offence, Defence, and Economy. Each in their own ways, of course. It's either that, or just change their skins to match a basic layout, but that just loses the entire point of having different races.

Factions.  Much like Clans, you sign up to an alliance with friends, or strangers, and have wars between attacking NPC's or other random players that litter your local galactic regions.  Boom Beach has tribesmen offering you gold, with certain bases designed for specific resources.  So similarly clear out an NPC Enemy base and your farm your currency from there, and again certain defensible bases for building resources.

Then, once you get yourself to maximum level, where there's nothing left for you to actually purchase or upgrade, buy some aesthetic things.  Change the design of your soldiers, whether it's colour patterns or their actual design.  That, or you can start again with another base and a different faction.  Control several bases that perform different functions.  Something like that.

If I were able to code and do that art thing, this'd be a good project to work on.  But then, I have lots of projects of this kind I could work on.