Games

Developer Appreciation Week Part 2

The Blaugust weekly structured format post is “Developer Appreciation Week” and I already made a post about that topic and mentioned an upcoming rant.
A big problem in the game industry is working too much and not being paid enough (and gamers being idiots), so I’ve decided very early on that I don’t want to work in games. I wish the industry was better for the people working there and I’m not upset if a game comes a year late, I’d prefer that to the poor souls working 80h weeks. But sure, I could do more – and maybe buy more games full price at launch, but if you scroll past my posts over the last few years you will notice I’m not really playing many games. I’d go as far as to say that I’m not the target demographic. I play a few games heavily, I even did that before MMOs were a thing. I’m also happy to pay a monthly subscription – but that’s a bit winner-takes-it-all, I’m then not buying other games for a while.
So I’d really appreciate if if game companies of a certain size would pay their developers enough money and most importantly stop the soul crushing crunch time.
This customer who buys your games (sample size: 1) usually doesn’t mind if anything gets delayed, as long as you keep the status quo of the game running. And if it’s not coming out yet.. maybe you shouldn’t have announced it a year early? How about announcing it and then capturing the hype from announcement until launch a few months later. Why would I care how I felt about your game last year? For indies it’s a bit different. If they’re a single person or duo or three people who do kind of bootstrap a startup as equals (and not abuse their employees)… sure that’s hard, but they chose this. They have all my support to do what they love, they just don’t get to whine about the world being a tough place. Feel free to see me as not eligible to comment if I may bot buy your game – but if I like it, I may buy it, but I’m not a games hoarder, I don’t even buy all the games I’m instantly excited about.
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my twenty-first post.

Developer Appreciation Week Part 1

The Blaugust weekly structured format post is “Developer Appreciation Week” and I do remember when Belghast first posted on that topic, years ago. And I applaud him for bringing that topic up.
That said, I drafted up a mega-rant on that topic yesterday, but I need to refine it, so here’s a list of things I really appreciate:

  • configurable key binding – I grew up with WASD and it just works[tm]
  • fullscreen windowed mode – I have Discord and IRC and whatever open. I like your game, but I’m really sorry, but I cannot use it exclusively, I must alt-tab.
  • for MMOs, an API like Blizzard’s battle.net API/Armory. I wanted to launch something with a lot of features like the well-known WoW sites for SWTOR back at launch, had a domain and everything – but they never let me access my characters’ data 🙁 Ragnarok Online’s euRO server also did this, it was glorious.
  • fix bugs instead of creating new content. I might be in the minority here, but I know how hard some bugs are to find, reproduce, and fix. You won’t hear me complaining about lack of new stuff in patch notes, but you’ll definitely hear me cheering if a bug I hit was fixed

Then again, these things are kinda the norm, so am I just ranting when they’re missing because I’m expecting them? OK, the first two are kinda standard but the third one is so rare I’d be really grateful!
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my sixteenth post.

MMOs and focus

Every time I read about people who can play (and enjoy) multiple MMOs at the same time (I’m mostly thinking of Syp, but there are others) I’m astonished. Whenever I tried to pay for 2 subs at the same time (and yes, that small amount of money is still a real argument for me, in the sense of “I’m paying this monthly sub, I better be playing that game”) I might hold up for a week of alternating, but at some point I’ll highly gravitate towards one of the games and use up 99% of my gaming time in that week or month or that game – I just can’t seem to focus on more than one. The only exception might be EVE Online, where it’s feasible to pay for offline training and only actively play a few hours per month, but I’m more thinking of traditional MMOs here. I’m mostly ok with that, but if I knew it would work for me, I’d be joining WoW’s BfA expansion now, because I’m kinda nosy. But I’m having a blast in SW:TOR and I still have Dead Cells and Quake Champions here, and I’m already neglecting those 2.
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my fourteenth post.

On character boosts

When I started digging through the backlog of some of the Blaugust participants’ blogs there was one topic I found pretty interesting: character boosts.
(I wrote down one specific post, it was this one, but I’m pretty sure I saw more).
I wouldn’t say I have a strong opinion, so why am I talking about them? I guess what you often see is this “Back in my day we had to walk uphill.. both ways” attitude, but if I ever held it, I regret it. Sure, if you’re playing a game where some stuff is gated behind a terrible grind… maybe the easy route shouldn’t be available. Same as “Buy this boost for money!” – although I usually prefer level playing fields, something in the range of a monthly subscription price (or 2 months) can be acceptable for everyone who wants to take part in endgame and skip the time sink.
The thing is… I usually don’t do it. In any game where I get a free max-level (or old-expansion-max-level) boost.. I just keep on stalling and not using it. I am actively playing SWTOR right now (I also wrote a lot about it) and I have one “Level 65 boost” sitting there, unused – I’m still not even sure for which character I want to use it. I think I’ll pick one of the missing pure DPS classes where I am not too fond of the mirror class, or where the fun part is missing, like the Gunslinger, where I liked the Scoundrel because of stealth, but didn’t love the combat.
In WildStar I did use a Level 50 boost (I have no clue where I got it from) for a class I hadn’t leveled much yet (Engineer) but it was a very forgettable experience – but I guess I didn’t play much after using the boost, so I never got to know my character very well.
In WoW, I remember using one boost to Level 60 – but I’m pretty sure it was refer-a-friend in TBC or WotLK, and I didn’t enjoy playing Mage in Vanilla at all. After he was 60, I leveled him in a normal way and by that time also had a ton of fun at times. I’m not sure we ever got another free boost, but a quick google search tells me you got a Level 100 boost for Legion. Thinking hard I might have used that one for my Alliance Paladin. I might have leveled her to 60 (via demon invasions? were they called that?) and then boosted to 100, because I had already leveled a Horde Paladin to 100. And apparently there will be 110 boost available if I purchase Battle for Azeroth. Doesn’t make much sense for a 91 Monk that I don’t enjoy playing anyway, but on the Alliance side I’m completely missing Warlock, Druid, and Monk, I have no Horde Demon Hunter, and the Alliance Mage is only 20 (but I wanted to level one to 60 the normal way anyway) and then there’s a 60 Hunter and a 7x Priest and an 80 Shaman. Oh, also no Alliance DK on my main account, but not a fan either. We’ll see, maybe it will stay unused just like in the other games.
Guild Wars 2 is an exception, because just by playing you get so many Tomes of Knowledge (click to advance a level) that you can level 3-4 characters to max level just by playing a handful to max level, nearly 2 for the price of 1, so to say. And you also get a complete boost, but I haven’t used that one either. Or do you even get 2? I don’t remember, but I had no shame using my Tomes on some characters to fill up some levels, e.g. personal story from 10-13, then 7 Tomes, personal story from 20-22, then 8 Tomes, and so on.
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my thirteenth post.
Ninja edit: Hehe, of course Wilhelm also wrote about it, but I had this draft since late July, I swear 🙂

Topic Brainstorming Week: How do you buy games?

Yay, I did find something for Blaugust Reborn’s “Topic Brainstorming Week” because it’s something I’d love to know if people are willing to talk about it.
How do you choose which games to get? Are you grabbing anything that comes out and looks interesting? At launch or at the first sale? Do you preorder? Do you buy Humble Bundles and then never play them? Do you gravitate towards or away from F2P titles? Or do you not care and decide case by case for these?
I think I’m not part of the majority of people who spend a decent chunk of their time playing games: I have just shy of 100 games on Steam, and as you can see in my yearly gaming expense reports I don’t buy many games, and when I buy one and only play it for a few hours I’m kinda let down. That’s why I’m usually debating with myself for months whether to get a game or not. Impulse buys aren’t really my thing.
Friends have told me I’m kinda tightfisted, but in reality I’d much rather gift a game for a few bucks to someone when I know they will play it than buy a cheaper one on sale for myself if I’m not sure I’ll play it. Or even worse, if I love the art style or something but know I will stop after a few hours. And no, I also don’t usually buy and try to evaluate it in 2 hours to return it…
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my fourth post.

Game Developers / Dead Cells

Some days ago I saw this article about Motion Twin on Gamasutra and wanted to talk about it.
Money quote(no pun intended:)

Dead Cells developer Motion Twin has been talking up its studio structure, which sees every single employee take home the same wage, irrespective of their position.

I’ve heard so many stories of bad pay and horrible hours about game studios which boils down to “exploit mostly young people who really want to work on games”. So even though I’m a software developer by trade I dodged this bullet once of starting at a games company (but it would’ve been a part-time job during university anyway) and I’m not keen on joining that industry now.
So while I don’t know and can only hope they don’t have to do 80 hour work weeks, I liked this and told myself to keep an eye on that studio. I wasn’t originally interested in Dead Cells, as I absolutely suck at Metroidvanias and am also not really good at platformers in general. Anyway, I watched the Dead Cells trailer and was kinda intrigued. Then I watched it again, because of the art style. Then I watched it again, because of the music. That was yesterday.
Today I bought Dead Cells and after a little cursing made it to the first boss once. I like this game.

Dead Cells

PS: Blaugust has started and this is my first post

Picross, Nonograms, puzzles

I might have mentioned it in the past, but Mario’s Picross was one of my favorite games on the Game Boy Classic (although I got my own copy only in early 2003 and played it on a GBA) and I’ve solved these nonograms on paper in puzzle magazines, and played through quite a few games. It never seems to get old.
Currently I’m playing “Picross Fairytale – nonogram: Red Riding Hood secret” and it’s one of the hardest ones I’ve ever played. (The music is nice, too, but the “story” is a bit thin and gladly skippable”. It seems to be free to play still, so go get it.
There’s also InfiniPicross (played for 27h, got 22/22 achievements) and Picross Touch (played for 99 hours, 17/18 achievements, including one for 1000 puzzles done, yikes). Also both very good.
On Android I played Picross Luna and am playing Picross Luna II right now (but I don’t like their near-endless engame with like 100 puzzles that form a complete picture) and Two Eyes. All of them are pretty cool.

2017 in review

The year is nearing its end and so it’s time for a new round of “what happened?”.
What I played a lot:

  • WoW: Legion
  • SW:TOR
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Marvel Heroes
  • Ragnarok Restart
  • InfiniPicross, Picross Touch & Picross Luna

Completed:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Fallout Shelter (146h, 34/35 achievements)
  • InfiniPicross (it’s infinite, but 27h and 100% achievements have to count)
  • Picross Touch (“completed”, 60h, 13/18 achievements, 550+ games played)

Played a bit:

  • Party Hard
  • Project Highrise
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer
  • Rise to Ruins
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • WildStar
  • EVE Online
  • TESO (The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited)

Gaming expenses in 2017:

  • SW:TOR: 3x 11 EUR
  • WoW: 4x 13 EUR
  • Diablo 3: 15 EUR for Rise of the Necromancer
  • WildStar: no idea, website says zero
  • Xbox 360: 0 EUR
  • GameBoy Advance: bought some used cartrdiges at a retro fair, 20 EUR iirc
  • Games on Steam: ~36 EUR – Templar Battleforce, InfiniPicross, Party Hard, Submerged, Cities: Skylines, TESO, Rise to Ruins
  • Games on GOG: ~14 EUR – Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Project Highrise, Pinata(Deadlight, meh)
  • Games on Bundlestars/Fanatical: 1 EUR
  • Hardware: 17 EUR for a SteamLink + Game bundle
  • Marvel Heroes: 30 EUR for ingame currency, via Steam
  • Guild Wars 2: 80 EUR for the expansion

This means: 298 EUR in 2017, at ~25 EUR per month. (I actually needed to doublecheck this, it seemed awfully low before I added GW2).

  • Amount of MMO subscription months paid for: 7
  • Bought stuff in the shop: Marvel Heroes
  • Full price games: 1 (GW2: Path of Fire) (and a D3 expansion, which was not full price…)

AC4: Black Flag – First impressions

After 7h I’m done 10% (so it says) with Black Flag and it’s really good.
Assassin's Creed® IV Black Flag™2017-3-26-22-4-50
I had first played AC2 in late 2014, and instantly bought Brotherhood, Revelations and III – but after just having completed 2, didn’t start the next one – so typical. When I did start Brotherhood the controls were clunkier than in 2 and overall I still liked the gameplay but some oddities annoyed me. After a while I came back but never finished it. Maybe I was also a little sick of Ezio and his fake Italian accent.
In comes Edward and some things are really a lot nicer in Black Flag. The cities are smaller, you’re not called out by a guard instantly when you get on a rooftop (and this is one of the most fun things, anyway). Maybe it’s also easier, but I don’t have to run ALL the time and sometimes can fight and win. Oh, and I don’t have to remove wanted posters to be unknown again, just wait or do something else – a lot more fun. Also chasing shanties and fragments is nice.
That’s not much, but so far I’m really enjoying it, playing 1-2h per day. Only downside so far is the lackluster save method. You can’t just stop. I do get it that they don’t want you to quicksave/reload “cheat” your way through a level, but oh my, why I can’t I pause for an hour to cook dinner or something, do I really have to keep the game open or finish my objective first?
ac4_ship

Mass Effect 3 – Completed

Finally made it! (Only a few days before Andromeda is released and which I have not preordered, but still)
After 29-30h of playtime I finished Mass Effect 3 (Digital Deluxe Edition) as an Infiltrator FemShep (with pink armor, which looked totally rad). TLDR: I liked it a lot. Maybe not as good as ME2, maybe roughly as good. Scanning was worse and I had to set down the difficulty from Normal to Casual in the last damn fight. Everything else worked fine with a few deaths here and there (not as many as in ME1 by far).
The DLCs I have are: Reckoning, Retaliation, Earth, Extended Cut, Rebellion, Resurgence, From Ashes, Digital Books, Collector’s Edition Materials and the Soundtrack. Didn’t touch Multiplayer, so I guess half of that was useless. It was recommended I get the Citadel DLC, but so far I haven’t.
Apparently I have either 35 or 36 of 50 Achievements, Origin shows both numbers. /slowclap
This time I managed to do all side quests (besides the one that stays in your mission log if you fail to do it 100% on the planet) and I mostly enjoyed them. The Citadel ones were kinda meh, as it involved mostly scanning the exact planet – which would have been fun without the Reaper alertness mechanic which made any straight-on approach infeasible and killed my enjoyment. Get quest, look up exact location in wiki, scan, done, hand in. Meh. Everything else was ok, good, or really good. I think I got stuck not finding the way on one mission and had to look up the way to go. I did most missions with Liara and James. Liara died all the time, but when I tried Javik or Tali, they also died all the time. I was not very happy with the loadout screen before the missions. More than once I misclicked and started the mission early because the buttons are not clearly labelled. But that didn’t really matter, just a small nitpick.
So that’s 3 BioWare RPGs down (and I liked all of them), now I’m unsure if I will start Dragon Age: Origins (which I own, think I got it for free from Origin) or if I will buy Mass Effect: Andromeda. I’m kind of not in the mood for fantasy stuff right now, but maybe playing something else than an RPG *now* would also be a good idea.