So it’s been a little while since my last post. I do apologize, but work suddenly decided to throw hours at me. Good for my paycheck, bad for my video game playing time. I don’t know about you guys, but when I haven’t played games for a while I get really, really antsy. Not that there aren’t lovely non-game forms of entertainment out there (books, movies, TV shows etc.), but… but… GAMES!
On days when I am too busy to sit down and play games I have resorted to things like playing Angry Birds whilst on the toilet. (Speaking of which, Angry Birds is horribly underrated by “serious gamers”. Bigger post on this later, maybe.)
What do YOU do when you’re too busy for games? Do you tough it out? Do you MAKE TIME?
In this post I am actually going to live up to the blog namesake a bit and talk about an Android game. You have probably played it, and if you haven’t played it, you have probably heard of it.
I am, of course, talking about Flappy Bird.
It is the dumbest game ever. It involves tapping the screen to guide a bird through some obstacles. You get one point for every obstacle you successfully negotiate and you go until you lose. That’s it.
So why can’t I stop playing it? No, really?
Have any of you fallen prey to this game? What other really stupid games can you not stop playing?
Hey everyone, Pike here! Yes, yes, I know. I’m scared too. Anyways, let’s get down to business, shall we? By which I mean VIDEO GAMES! Always video games.
I’ve played quite a few games over the past couple of months and at the moment I’m trying to get into Dark Souls. Trying, but I don’t know if I’ll succeed. See, I’ve put a few hours into it and after spending the bulk of those hours trying to figure out the controls (which seem rather unintuitive to me), I have come to the conclusion that this is, in fact, not an action game. Rather, it is a puzzle game that happens to be dressed as an action game. It’s a puzzle game that requires an intense amount of trial and error and repetition to learn patterns and muscle memory and that sort of thing.
It’s a neat idea and I wholeheartedly support anyone who’s into it! But I’m not sure if I am. There’s only so much trial and error that I can take before I get bored. This is the reason why I’ve yet to beat some really neat (and mostly indie, oddly enough) games like Super Meat Boy and Braid which I think are brilliant but which bore me when I get stuck at a certain level. I can only do repetition in small doses.
Does this make me a “casual” or too willing to give up? Maybe. That’s cool, though. My backlog is getting bigger by the day so rather than banging my head against a game that I can’t get into, I think it’s better to move along. I might continue to pick at it every now and again and see what happens.
Still, I can see the appeal if you really like testing yourself like that, so if it sounds like your sort of game and you like dying, then go check it out. Mister Adequate has a lovely and optimistic post about it so go check that out too!
It’s that time of year, when the dearth of summertime videogames leaves us behind and we begin to be swamped by an increasingly heavy deluge of videogame releases over the months running up to Christmas. Mists of Pandaria, TL2, and Resi 6 just came out, soon arriving is XCOM, then there’s AssCreed III, Dishonored, Farming Simulator 2013, Halo 4, Hitman: Absolution, ZombiU, Company of Heroes 2, and a bunch of other games besides on the way. In short, it’s a busy time for folks like us – please tell us in the comments what you’re looking forward to in the coming weeks and months, and any cunning plans you have to avoid other obligations in favor of the important things, i.e. playing videogames!
But despite this deluge of delectable distractions I’m not altogether happy. No sir. Let’s take one of the games in the above list, XCOM. Now obviously anyone will be well aware that Pike and myself are tremendous fans of the series, and from what we’ve seen the new tactical game actually has a chance of being a true successor of that series, especially with things like the difficulty modifiers for NG+ runs (In fact a couple of those, such as depleting Elerium stocks, are even more hardcore than the original!) So hooray, I can’t wait until Friday so I can play!
Wait, Friday? Well yes, because as you may recall I live not in the glorious United Syndicates of America but in the Union of Britain. And whilst Americans typically see things released on a Tuesday, Brits instead have Fridays. This makes some sense of course; you can grab your new videogame and run home to spend all weekend playing it. In times past it was of little consequence, but the ever-increasing ubiquity of the Internet means that this sort of thing is utterly ridiculous in this day and age.
X-COM is a digitally distributed game. I’m sure there are physical copies, but who buys those for PC games anymore? No, we’ll mostly be getting the Steam version, no doubt – and yet Steam will distribute this game to people in the UK days after those in North America. If you folks can begin to see sense in that, I’d love to hear it, because I sure as hell can’t. The really weird thing is that many companies are learning you can’t get away with that anymore, because the same distribution channels opened to them by the Internet open less savory methods up as well. I want to play X-COM, I really really do, so why am I being made to wait an arbitrary few extra days? Because it seems to me that I’ll be able to get it elsewhere without needing to wait for no reason. I hadn’t intended on turning this into a treatise on piracy, but one of the lessons learned over the years is that perhaps the single biggest thing you can do to prevent piracy is to make your product as absolutely convenient as possible for people to get. The lack of paying money is only one appeal of piracy – getting what you want how and when you want it is also a huge incentive.
So, because of the no reason whatever, British fans of X-COM (A British series, I’d point out) have to wait longer to play it. If all this seems like I’m getting mad about videogames, well – I am!
Whilst visiting Pike her brother generously donated a guest pass for Diablo III, letting me play until the Skeleton King in Act I. Back in England I gave it a try yesterday, and found it a fairly enjoyable game that seemed to lack something that D2 had which was so compelling, though I hadn’t yet identified what that was.
But this post is not about that. No, this post is about what just happened. I figured “I’ll play it for a couple of hours, see how it goes; the Cathedral was definitely better than the outdoors, maybe it continues improving.” so I fired it up. Logged in. Got this.
I was trying to play single player. Indeed, I was not yet at the point where you decide whether you’re playing solo or multi; this is just what you get. Yeahhh… no. We’re not having any of that. I’ve not spent one penny here and I am outraged at this. How people who spend LODS OF EMONE on the thing have failed to riot and burn down Blizz/Activision HQ is beyond me, but they are clearly exercising the saintly virtues that Diablo and his brothers seek to extinguish.
There is no reasonable basis for this. If you are going to make people connect to play in single-player, then you best have a reliable freaking service. Taking the servers down for regular maint does not constitute reliable. It’s fine with an MMO; heck it’s fine with any game in fact, but you best believe people should be allowed to play their single-player game in single-player mode when they want to, not when you permit them to.
In short I just uninstalled D3, I will not be buying it at any point in the foreseeable future (Blizz did me a favor actually because I have no money), and I’d urge anyone on the fence whether they want to support insane policies like this one with their patronage.
Yesterday I realized it had been released and so purchased Trials Evolution for the 360. I’d played Trials HD at my friend’s house a bit, and had enjoyed it thoroughly but never got around to actually picking it up for myself. With the sequel freshly out of the gate I decided to get on board right away, and it has so far proven to be a wise and judicious purchase.
This video is both very loud and very sweary, and it encapsulates the Trials Evolution experience perfectly:
In Trials, your task is, well, time trials. You’re riding a bike and you’ve got to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Sounds easy enough right? And at first it is. But Trials is an incredibly cunning game that soon ramps up the difficulty to an absolutely insane degree; later tracks are some of the most sadistic things you will ever experience in videogaming. Let me elaborate.
The B button puts you back at the last checkpoint to try again. For a fair portion of the game you’ll only be using this occasionally, the first time through a track to learn it before you go for a decent time. By the end of the game you will be pressing that button several dozens, or hundreds, of times, in order to get through the excruciatingly difficult levels.
Because of one immensely insidious feature. The game unsurprisingly has global leaderboards, all well and good, but it provides ghosts of your XBL friends and their best times on any given level. And you have absolutely no freaking IDEA how much this impels you to play again, to try that level once more, to get the hang of that jump, because that bastard Barry Manilow has a better time than you and THIS WILL NOT STAND. So you play. And you play again. And again. And again. And again. Until you beat the fucker and you make sure he knows his place. You have never felt so much envious hatred for your friends when they are doing nothing at all and aren’t even around at the time.
You ever have that irresistible urge to play something you’ve not played in forever? I’m not even talking about a personal favorite or anything. For example, it’s no surprise that every now and then I sit down and play through Suikoden II, because it’s my favorite game ever and I personally rate it somewhere between ascending to Godhood and living in a world populated only by uncontrollably horny clones of Christina Hendricks. Similarly there are games like WoW which have a habit of sucking one back in every now and then, even when you know you should know better.
Sometimes though the game you feel compelled to play is something you acclaim quite a bit less, or something that while you like it, you’ve not touched it for many years and there is no reason whatsoever for it to pop into your head as something that needs to be played right now. I’ve recently been feeling the need to play Front Mission 3, and I remember once absolutely having to play Vagrant Story – a game I don’t even like very much! – a feeling that didn’t go away until I bought a copy of the thing and played it.
Do you guys ever have weird compulsions to play games, perhaps ones you’ve not touched in years or weren’t terribly impressed by?
Being a bit slow (due to playing a stupid amount of Paradox games) to get around to it, I just played the Mass Effect 3 demo. You may recall I recently said I was determined to see this through even if I wasn’t tremendously hopeful about it, but I’ve just cancelled my preorder on the ‘strength’ of the demo. I’ll get around to it sometime, I’m sure, but I’ve got no desire to pay a bunch of cashmoney for something so strikingly mediocre and unenjoyable.
Oh don’t get me wrong, seeing old faces like Wrex, Garrus, and Anderson was great. The Reapers attacking Earth looked pretty cool too (Though there was no sense of impact or weight to it; more on that in a moment), and I approved of… well actually no, those two things was about all I approved of. Everything else was standard and run-of-the-mill at best.
The controls are floaty and don’t respond as I wanted them to. Maybe I’m just getting too old for this, but I distinctly don’t remember having similar problems with 1 and 2. Here though I kept trying to do one thing, and another thing happened, such as diving out of cover into the open. Cue death of Shep. The graphics seemed weirdly low-res, maybe it was just to save space for the demo download but it wasn’t impressive. The weapons and combat is some of the most lacking in impact and weight since I played BioShock, a game that managed to make crushing skulls with a huge wrench feel uninspiring. And that was really the heart of it; everything else I could tolerate or forgive, but the combat was just so completely meritless, so downright unenjoyable, left me feeling so detached and removed from the action, that I just don’t think I can bring myself to play this anytime soon.
It does not, in short, make my mass erect.
Last night I went and gave it another try, and I’m going to have to admit my judgment was a little premature. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still seeing quite a few problems, but the gameplay itself was definitely quite a bit more enjoyable now that I’ve played around with a couple of classes. In previous ME games I could grab any class and have a great time; that seems not to be the case here.
Well, I guess it was bound to happen. Not only have I literally grown up playing video games (and/or using the computer), but carpal tunnel syndrome runs in my family, and it looks like my own luck with staving it off may have run out: this past week or so I’ve had growing discomfort and numbness in my right wrist/thumb, particularly when using the computer. It’s probably something I’ll have to get looked at– in the meantime I’ve given myself a wrist brace, which seems to be helping some, even if it makes typing and such slightly awkward.
I’m still adjusting to the brace (I just got it about a half hour ago), but I figure I should probably do the right thing and give my poor wrist a break and minimize my computer usage for a little while. Well, crap. I was in the middle of colonizing Canada as Portugal in my latest EU3 game, too.
Oh, who are we kidding? I’ll probably keep playing anyway, albeit a little less. And on the plus side I still seem to be able to comfortably hold a 360 controller with no issues, which means maybe I can actually finish Skyrim (and poke around with Mirror’s Edge which I’ve recently acquired.)
Has anyone else had this problem? What are your tips for dealing with it– especially as a gamer?
As you’re no doubt aware by now, many sites around the Internet today are engaged in a protest against the SOPA and PIPA bills currently within the labyrinthine depths of the US Congress. Though we can do no more than add our voice to this overwhelming, global cry of outrage, that is what we are now doing.
Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act would fall desperately short of their stated objectives – the darker side of the Internet is notoriously resilient and difficult to control, after all – but it would give corporations enormous powers to target any and everything they see as a threat to their profit margins. As writers Pike and myself are obviously sympathetic to the notion of being able to protect and control what one produces – but we also wouldn’t start suing preteens for sharing our books. This bill, like so many other efforts to control something as vast, free, and amazing as the Internet, is not going to help stop piracy – what it will do is create an unprecedented tool for the violation of the rights to free speech, to privacy, to free congregation, and threatens to erase one of the Internet’s most central and precious functions, which is the lack of borders and ability to talk to anyone else on Earth regardless of all considerations except their literal, physical access to the Internet.
This very blog could easily be at risk. That is how insane these bills are. We are writing about what are copyrighted materials, nevermind when we use a picture from MLP:FIM or embed a YouTube video which contains a few seconds of a copyrighted song. Though we both love writing this blog there are far more severe ramifications – still, the fact that a fairly dinky little blog that mostly talks about strategy videogames and posts fanart of My Little Pony could be endangered shows just how obscenely far-reaching and wide-ranging these two bills are. So if you love the Internet, whether it’s watching cats being silly, reading about how I most recently got foiled by Pike, using Google or Wikipedia, or anything else you can imagine, please consider taking the time to write to your representative asking them to oppose these dangerous, unconstitutional pieces of legislation.
And remember, America is not the first or only country considering laws like this, and the US as the motherland of the Internet makes many foreign sites entirely vulnerable to these laws anyway. If you are not American, like me, it’s still something to be worried about. And the beauty of the Internet is that we can all contribute to the debate and help raise awareness even if we can’t take formal action like voting in an American election.