Archive | April 2015

Tribes Ascend is painful. The Coffee Break: 29 April 2015.

Woke up this morning and had an argument with my own mind. You know those days where you wake up, you have the alarm set just like any other day, and normally you would wake up and get on with your day. Instead today I found myself paralyzed as my mind kept falling back asleep – like I was in a cryo-stasis format. Nevertheless, afterwards I resumed my work on Tribes Ascend where I had to verify the game files (the thing wouldn’t spin up the previous evening, and since it was near sleep time I decided to resume work the next morning).

Tribes Ascend 1

Well what can I say about Tribes; there’s still a community albeit a heck of a lot smaller than it was before, and I have lost all ability to do any damage in the game. Suffice it to say there was quite a learning curve, and I found myself in a situation where it was more deaths than kills (which isn’t saying much as I make no statements about being the world’s best FPS player), it was embarrassing! Then again, perhaps this game is not for me anymore – the dog-fight style combat really is not what I like, and sure I appreciate mobility in an FPS title as opposed to the lead foot combat of Gears of War and so on (making an example: I actually enjoy Gears), but the game is just too fast for my liking. Everyone is flying all over the place thereby making it impossible to land a hit, and there is no real feedback as to your actions. Then again, Tribes was never meant to be this pseudo-realistic combat FPS – it was meant to be completely wild and fast-paced.

 

Perhaps I am finally narrowing down the genre of games I like to play; perhaps I am finally finding out what works and what does not. Like racing games and bejeweled games, Tribes might soon enter that category where it just is not for me, period. The game is gorgeous, and the art work is great, but I cannot knock out the feeling that this title is something I cannot get into, at least not quickly. Perhaps more time is needed for me to achieve playable status – a status where I can actually hurt something, rather than just loose off a few rounds, and get killed every single time. Anyways folks that’s all I have for today – have a good rest of the day, and I shall see you all next time.

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When the Skyfa- I mean Skyrim Mods! The Coffee Break: 28 April 2015.

Hello folks,

 

Valve has removed the Paid mods feature for Skyrim. Now I won’t bore you with the details (but I will link the IGN video to you), but this was coming – everyone saw it. When the community went up in arms over the system, and when Valve’s creator Gabe Newell went on Reddit to address concerns over the system it was nearly the end of the project so to speak.

steam-canada

Perhaps now that they have tried a particular method and it failed, maybe they will add in a donation feature instead; one that splits the income fifty-fifty so that the creator gets a fair share, while Valve can take twenty five percent, and give the other twenty five percent to Bethesda. They probably will not do it, but here’s hoping they might.

Moving along, Vietnam DLC – I know I said it before but good god is it awesome! Now last night I tried to play vanilla Bad Company, but after enjoying the flamethrower to death, I just could not get back into the swing of things. Perhaps the 870 shotgun might be of some help as I have now earned slugs with the weapon, but even then it just does not feel the same. What can I say, flamethrowers are awesome – they are unique, much like playing Zero in Borderlands 2 in a pseudo-melee assault style akin to Krieg. Getting up close and personal with the enemy, and then turning them into charred remains is a lot more entertaining than simply dropping them with a few shots to the chest.

Borderlands-2-Zero

Anyways folks I just wanted to throw this quick one out there before I return to Nam and kick some ass (blasted: “Tusken Raiders” ruining the fun with their insanely long range shots). Take care out there, and I shall see you next time.

 

From Nam to Pandora. The Coffee Break: 27 April 2015.

Hello folks;

 

Well I have reinstalled Borderlands 2 after nearly four months of rest time from that game. Suffice it to say the online community is still alive and well; plenty of games to join in both normal mode and true vault hunter mode. Indeed I am still fighting in Vietnam (BFBC 2 Vietnam), but every once in a while this grunt needs some time to himself – whether or not bandit-hunting is considered time off is up to the reader in question.

BC 2 Vietnam 2 flamer

Lately the servers for Vietnam have been empty on some days, with other days having player counts ranging from 4 v 4, up to the full 32 player count (16 v 16). While technically not dead, the amount of people playing daily is not as high as vanilla Bad Company – it’s in the stage of certain game nights are Vietnam nights. Should you folks ever purchase Bad Company 2 on Steam or Origin (if you don’t own the game on PC already), I highly recommend the Vietnam DLC – the content is different enough to feel as though it is a separate game, but without the steep sixty-dollar price tag. Thanks to that game, I have been reading up on the Vietnam War (in particular the US involvement), and drinking in the tunes from that era – the ones that I can picture US soldiers listening to anyways while deployed over there. Songs like: “It’s Soul time” by Anders Lewen are quite entertaining, and help immerse the player into the time period when the NVA fought the US Army.

 

Moving along, Pandora hasn’t changed much – still the good old Borderlands 2 gameplay with the same old humor that we have become used to these days. Now I am tempted to get the Pre-sequel, but after reading through the forums on whether or not people still play Borderlands 2, suddenly I’m not so keen on rushing to take out my wallet. According to several steam threads, the Pre-sequel wasn’t as popular – and still isn’t as popular – as Borderlands 2 with all of its DLC released and available for a single price (lower if on sale too) is much more enticing. How interesting, but then again it works to my advantage as I own Borderlands 2 and still have a desire to play the game alongside classics like Team Fortress 2, Bad Company 2, and so on (I call them “classics” based on the number of hours played – presently it’s in the hundreds).

borderlands 2 Zero

 

Yes indeed folks it is a slow day for news – but then again you didn’t come here JUST for the news, right (viewer count dropping)? Humor aside, apart from Valve doing the whole paid mods scheme, and the Battlefront trailer, there is not a whole lot for me to go on about. Anyways I best be off before this drags on forever, so here is where I leave you. Take care out there folks, and I shall see you next time.

Skyrim mods, 5.99 please. The Rhetoric: 26 April 2015.

Steam did what now? Paid mods – okay yeah sounds interesting.

“Steam gets 75% of the profits.”

Okay buddy that’s it, I say no!

Welcome to another Rhetoric article for the 26th of April 2015; so there has been quite a controversy surrounding Steam’s recent announcement of paid mods on their Steam Workshop. Now initially I was worried that all modders would jump ship and begin putting all their content behind the pay wall, but the backlash has had me somewhat relaxed since the community (and by extension the market) has largely been against having something gated off completely.

Steam logo large

Now I do agree that modders deserve monetary compensation for their work – hell I have my own Patreon page for that very reason. Indeed while I enjoy writing, I do wish to make some sort of money off of this craft, rather than simply doing it and that’s it. Much like serving ones country, you do expect to be paid to be in the military, rather than simply have a pat on the back and some individual saying: “thank you for your service,” before booting you to the nearest employment centre. Now the realities of life dictate that money is how we survive, and indeed if we are to pay our bills, we require income – steady income at that.

 

Now does this all mean that I fully support Steam’s tactics? Absolutely not, I do not support simply taking what was once free and slamming it behind the Berlin Wall. Hell EA Origin isn’t even this insane, and they’re EA! When they say something is free, it’s freaking free! Heck this is how I got Battlefield 3, not that I really dive into it anymore but still – free is free. However I am not opposed to a Patreon-style payment option where the end user can contribute to the Patreon Page should they find the modder’s work quite enjoyable and wish to support them for future updates. This is essentially the main reason behind things like mods getting abandoned, or blogs going silent for months on end – people are tired from work, they have fitness routines, they have personal lives, and so forth. Should an audience want more from the artist in question, then the artist will need a stable income from either a firm, a company, or heck even their Patreon page if possible. Otherwise, like money, their time will be allocated elsewhere – such is reality, unfortunately.

Indeed sometimes money is the answer to an artist’s dilemma. Should the craft become something they can make a comfortable living off of (but not get rich), then they can quit their crappy day job at the coffee shop and fully commit themselves to their passions – in the end that is what we all want, is it not? Free from the corporate ladder, and able to express our artistic desires in a way that if the audience enjoys our work, then there is a hope that it will turn into a career path, one that we can look back on years from now and be thankful to all those who supported us along the way.

 

Now before I depart and leave you fine folks to ponder on the subject matter, I have recently published a book on Amazon Kindle – I’m hoping to make this particular story into a series, but lately I have not found the time to work on the second book. The links to the book (Amazon US, UK, and Canada, though it is available in all regions) will be in the description below, so go check them out! Also, unlike Steam, the writer gets the 70%, and not Amazon (if you were curious). Anyways folks, thanks for reading, and I shall see you next time.

The Knight, the Bishop, and the Pawn

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S0BQTYM

Amazon CA:
http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00S0BQTYM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Amazon UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00S0BQTYM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Friday musings. The Coffee Break 24 April 2015.

Hello folks;

 

Star Wars Battlefront was revealed earlier this week, and why there was no gameplay in the trailer is beyond comprehension. Indeed the trailer was meant to build up hype for the title, and to gather interest for the upcoming game. Yet to a lot of gamers out there (myself included) it was a slap in the face; a sort of: “here you go kids” sort of approach. The community feels a bit in the middle, having experienced what the Battlefield franchise has done they are skeptical as to whether or not the Battlefront series (reboot) will do the same.

Star Wars Battlefront 2015 logo

Now to give you a rundown of my experience with Battlefront, when the first title came out on the original Xbox I played it. When Battlefront 2 came out on the Xbox and PC, I played both. Finally the PSP versions – Battlefront Renegade Squadron, and Battlefront Elite Squadron – I have dived into and own one of the two titles. Star Wars Battlefront was amazing, and still is to this day. Certainly the trailer was a show piece, and indeed it is amazing to see graphics develop on that level today, but I want a sample of the main course, not the appetizer.

 

Hopefully when E3 rolls around we will see some real action, and not another giant cutscene with flash and filler. Now I am off to reinstall Borderlands 2 and return to the frontier for some bandit hunting – Jakobs guns only. Take care out there folks, and I will catch you next time.

Borderlands_2_PC

Flamethrowers in the jungle. The Coffee Break 16 April 2015.

Far Cry 3; the thought of reinstalling the game never really crossed my mind until I discovered that there was a flamethrower available in the game. Afterwards it has been a steady progression of developing equipment needed to hold more flamethrower fuel, along with setting half the countryside on fire. Suffice it to say I am very thankful that the bush fires in-game do not burn beyond 50 meters from the center of where the fire started – I tend to use the weapon a lot more often than necessary.

Far Cry 3 flamethrower

Well it has been a rather odd first quarter of 2015. Regarding the games industry, titles like Evolve and Battlefield: Hardline have been met with mixed to negative reviews. Observing Youtubers like AngryJoe it has become clear that the first half of 2015 has not been as good for gaming as years past. Games like The Order: 1886 has such promise to them and high hopes – such raw potential. Yet when it came time to deliver the end product, the fuel in the flamethrower tank was near empty – the fire only lasted for about a few bursts before it was time to change tanks so to speak. Now it is abundantly clear that the developers of The Order: 1886 wanted a more cinematic experience, and yet I find myself questioning their motive despite enjoying the game cutscene movies available on Youtube. Like Hardline, the fresh ideas were executed in a mediocre fashion; these games seem to not want to embrace new ideas and stick to traditional films, or – in the case of Hardline – a pre-existing formula.

 

Maybe Visceral Games was scared that they would lose support if their title went downhill and thus opted to remain along the traditional Battlefield path. Multiplayer – as stated in a previous post – is the same old Battlefield multiplayer, except without tanks and helicopter gunships. Instead you have civilian equipment with some military hardware latched on, and out-of-place wargear given to both sides to give the feeling that it is a Battlefield game. Yes I still enjoyed the story, and no this does not mean I will overlook the multiplayer.

battlefield-hardline-3

What brings me back to Bad Company 2 over and over is not the singleplayer story (hell I have not touched the singleplayer story for a few months now), it is the multiplayer gameplay. Watching destruction created by human players rather than scripted AI, and playing with a team of living, breathing people has a certain appeal over fighting bots and AI-controlled characters. Indeed this is another reason why I have opted to go PC gaming instead of console – paying for the privilege of using a key feature to a game series like Battlefield is about as ridiculous as paying to use a toilet.

BC 2 Vietnam 2 flamer

Finally we come to Evolve; interesting skeleton, but needs more meat. Yes there are a few characters I like, and yes I would be interested in the game for its multiplayer component. Yet here are the problem(s) that come up according to reviewers like AngryJoe: No campaign (evacuation mode is passable at best), and the price point (they could have done a thirty-dollar game and left it at that). A title that focuses on multiplayer ought to keep the price point down as there was no money put in to make a campaign. Sure the man-hours is how things are calculated when it comes to cost of production, but if you want to justify to the consumer that a game is worth the money, actually make it worth the money – real effort pays off. When it came to Evolve, the only bit I found enjoyable was the intro cutscene with the unit preparing to land on Shear and engage the monsters. The interaction and bits of character was interesting, and it left me wanting more.

Evolve image for blog 2

Speaking of wanting more, why did the developers not flush out a backstory? The Mutagen Wars seems like an interesting topic; people splicing their DNA with creatures to make themselves different from baseline humans, and then declaring independence from the core worlds. The classic: “child wants independence so they move out and never phone home again” scenario is appealing to an audience member such as myself, and I want to actually witness the war itself, rather than hear about it through banter and dialogue. There is nothing in-game that gives us lore, nothing. What a crying shame it is that games are given this appetizer of a story arc, and the rest of the meal is just some plain bread with butter – I want my prime ribs, I want my roast duck, not plain bread and butter.

 

Hopefully the next three quarters of 2015 will be better; I really hope it is because there are some decent titles coming our way. Though titles like Halo 5 Guardians are not new titles unlike The Order: 1886, if the game is good, then it is good – one can only go so far with originality. Eventually there comes a time when re-inventing something is less productive than upgrading or heavily modifying the product – take what works and augment it, not throw it out for the sake of creativity. With that I will conclude this coffee break; I’ll see you next time.

Battlefield Hardline Angry Review:

Evolve Angry Review:

The Order: 1886 Angry Review:

It’s Nam baby! The Coffee Break 13 April 2015.

Yes yes I know dear readers, I have disappeared for a bit and have now returned. Apologies by the way for neglecting this blog, but the world of work demands much from all of us – shame we cannot pursue our passions and make a living off of them as well. Now onto today’s discussion: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. That expansion is still alive and well after nearly five years have passed since its release date. Suffice it to say I took a gamble when I grew tired of vanilla Bad Company, so I purchased the Vietnam expansion for fifteen dollars and logged on. Since then I have been playing that expansion non-stop, and combined with Team Fortress 2 my spare time has been spent torching the countryside – hell I even have Starcraft 2 Firebat quotes memorized now.

Initially I was a bit nervous when I looked at the Vietnam DLC; looking all over the forums yielded little info as to whether or not the servers were alive and well. Finally I went to Google and searched server information. Much to my surprise there were servers active, and indeed people played on them regularly. The purchase was made, and Bad Company 2 suddenly got a fresh coat of paint and a retrofit. Sometimes I wonder if my interest in the Vietnam DLC has caused me to neglect my other games and friends, but to hell with them, onto Operation Hastings (humor intended)!

BC 2 Vietnam 1

Jokes aside, the Vietnam DLC is packed full of character – something that helps set it apart from the vanilla game. Now I know: “but writer, it’s Vietnam; it already is unique!” Well reader, I wasn’t talking about the maps, rather the guns themselves. The bits of rust here and there, the worn wooden stocks on rifles like the M14 and the M1, and strips of linen wrapped around some of the weapons to hold them together gives off the impression that both the US soldiers and the NVA regulars have been in the jungle far too long and have waged a guerrilla war against one another (imagine guerrilla campaign against guerrilla campaign). Gameplay-wise it’s the same good old Bad Company; fluid, smooth, and fun (emphasis on the fun). The weapon I particularly enjoy using is the Flamethrower. Sure there is the M16 and the AK 47 in the game – we are talking about Vietnam after all – yet those two rifles get plenty of face time in other military shooters on the market: I wanted something different. Suffice it to say I’m still learning how to effectively use the weapon, but I think I’ve got the technique nailed down for the most part. Plus these skills transfer over to Team Fortress 2 nicely; what can I say, I like fire.

BC 2 Vietnam 2 flamer

Going through my backlog of games that I still need to play has given me plenty of time to appreciate just how far we have come, but also to appreciate what we already have on the market. While the game is five years old, Bad Company 2 is certainly still going strong; a classic like that should be alive and well for many years to come should any of you wish to play Bad Company 2 and the Vietnam expansion on PC – total cost for the base game and expansion will run you thirty dollars. The suggestion, therefore, would be to wait for the base game to go on sale, and then snag both that and the DLC at the same time – trust me you will not be disappointed (unless you are running Windows 2000 on some 15 year-old rig that has 512 mb of RAM and a CPU slower than grandma before bedtime). Humor aside, however, the game runs great on modern systems – you will not have trouble playing this game. Anyways folks, I am going to return to Nam and do more ass-kicking – I’ll catch you all next time.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on Steam.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/47880/