I was kind of lazy…the entire year of 2018. I didn’t afford myself many chances to enjoy things. It has been a tough year personally, and even professionally. I never really allowed time to escape into leisure activities, and instead would sort of…crumple into myself. While I did this, good games came out, there were things to be done, and I let it pass me by. 2019 needs to be better for me, on a few fronts, but honestly enjoying myself is one of the big ones. I need to learn how to relax more, my jaw hurts all the time from stress, I need to learn how to take a break. To that end, I am setting some gaming resolutions that you know…I will hopefully follow. We’ll see. Continue Reading
With the holiday season now in the rear-view mirror, and New Year’s quickly approaching, it is time to look forward to the games of 2019. Granted, I have a backlog so big that if I were to put all of these games in a single PS4 game-case, the pile would be dozens of feet tall; and would fall over on top of me, killing me with the sheer weight of my wasted dollars. However, the march of time is inexorable, and games will continue to come out despite my backlog. Worse even, there will be some games I want to play, and will have to inevitably spend money on, making sure some of those backlog games will stay in the backlog.
So in the style of so many other articles about upcoming games for a year, I have taken a look a lists of 2019 in video games. I have chosen the ten games that appeal to me the most, and have ranked them based on my level of anticipation. Note some of these games don’t have set release dates, and some of them are not even guaranteed for 2019, I just believe they will come out then. Even if they don’t it doesn’t much matter, I didn’t write this article under penalty of perjury or anything. Let’s get on with it. Continue Reading
Nintendo has completed its abandonment of the Wii U. I got my Switch in the mail on Friday, launch day. I had the chance now to tinker around with everything, kick the Joy-Con tires. I have to say, coming out of the gate, the Switch is pretty much the exact system I was hoping Nintendo would make. It may not be the most robust thing at the moment, and it is lacking in some areas, and apparently busted in others, but for what I am looking for? It’s damn near perfect. Let’s go into why it is really a Ray system.
First of all, it’s powerful, but not too powerful. The Legend of Zelda on the Switch looks amazing, on both the TV and handheld. This has so little to do with the horsepower of the Switch, which I am sure is really just handling the draw distance; of which I actually find quite impressive. Nintendo has always gotten around the lack of power in their systems since the Wii with their fantastic art direction. The Wii wasn’t even an HD system, but I would offer up the graphics of Super Mario Galaxy in a direct comparison contest with almost anything from the 360/PS3 era, maybe excluding The Last of Us, and in almost every case, the mustachioed hero would triple jump his way past anything. Nintendo has some of the best art direction hands down. To me it is basically them and Blizzard.
Sure, the Switch is not as powerful as the PS4 or Xbox One, and is further left in the dust as the revisions two those systems make their way into the market. But Nintendo has always proven capable with a less is more mentality, at least with their own IP. While they should not think it is okay to squeak by on their own steam anymore; because it isn’t, the power level is certainly at a fine point. Should it be able to run the newest Call of Duty, or Mass Effect? No. There are already 3 options (PS4, XONE and PC) for those games. Nintendo is still insisting on being on its own track, and that is fine.
Independent games are going to feel so at home on the Switch it is silly. While Mass Effect won’t be coming to the Switch, Stardew Valley is. I would say I spent just as much time in Stardew as I did in ME2 or ME3. Maybe more. I am not one of those people who think Indies are the end all, be all of gaming, but Shovel Knight is a game that evokes that Mega Man level of fun that has not been seen in a long time, and it runs just fine on a Switch. Plus it is good on the TV or handheld. That is a unique plus for those games, a definite edge over the XONE, and the PS4, assuming the game isn’t cross-buy with the Vita. But the Switch is one system, the Sony solution is two.
Lastly, I am someone who can passively multitask usually. I have found myself playing games on my PC, or handhelds lately at home, while my TV is playing something on Netflix. While I will pause the TV for the real moments during a handheld game, I can usually keep up both with no trouble. I love my Vita, and have a ton of games for it, but the initial promise of console-quality games on the go went largely unfulfilled. Instead the system was populated with more niche games that I loved and still love. However, the Switch seems to be the harbinger to that initial promise. Breath of the Wild, as little as I have played seems to be what the Vita’s attempts at Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed so wanted to be, console magic held in your hands.
And sure, while some compromises had to be made in things like battery life, and the sheer size, the Switch delivers. The software will come, and while it definitely isn’t good enough for everyone yet, it is exactly what I wanted to see from Nintendo.
The last time I posted anything to this website, it was late 2015. I was in a much different mental state then. Probably more frantic, more insistent on pushing myself in a direction. However that flamed out spectacularly in my own head as my own want to get stuff done for this, make something for myself resulted me in basically becoming paralyzed with fear about it. I wanted to make a go of maybe making something like this into a paying gig eventually, something I know that is incredibly hard to do, and dominated not by writing anymore. I figured if I was able to push enough I could do it, but as it turned out, I wasn’t able to push enough at all to even make this a regular thing.
So I have been away from this for a while, concentrating instead on my schoolwork to become a teacher, which is actually almost done. On top of that I am just more content with where I am and who I am, I still get stressed and become a ball of anxiety sometimes, but it is definitely a lot better than it used to be. I could still benefit from stuff like exercise and eating better, but the little battles are what need to be won first against yourself, the inner battles. I can work on the outer stuff, the more visible stuff as time goes on.
So what does that mean for this blog? It means I want to start writing again. Not as something I want to eventually turn into a paying situation, but something I want to do as a true hobby. It means I have missed video games by and large. I still play them, but not with the regularity I did in the past, which is a shame. I find myself too often now just sort of vegging out and watching TV when presented with free time. I want to do things like streaming and videos for fun, I want to present content in a way that is me. I have had a little practice now with my coworker in making video content, and I think I am decent enough at it to make a go for myself.
Nothing I do though is going to be fancy in any way, or seem professional really. Someone like my coworker wants to turn games journalism and content creation into a job, and he has the drive and talent to do it. Also he has the benefit of age. What I plan on doing is literally just in a hobbyist sense. I won’t be keeping a regular schedule, stuff will go up as it goes up. It may be a lot in a short period of time, there may be droughts as I get busy with school stuff. I am not going to run streams to get huge numbers of people, you won’t see me becoming some pro MOBA player. Instead you may see me streaming something that probably is too slow and menu-heavy to stream, like Lost Odyssey. More than anything, I actually do miss putting my voice out there, as small as it is. Howling into the void and seeing what comes up. Lastly I figure why not do this. After watching the controversies of famous personalities like Pewdiepie unfold, I figure I am at least able to not put antisemitic crap on anything I do, which in a way puts me ahead of the game.
Yesterday I talked about some of the things that I think should stay the same in the upcoming remake of Final Fantasy VII. While the game was groundbreaking in 1997, quickly earning a status that is sustained to this day by fans, there are some aspects of the game that have not aged very well at all. On top of that there have been changes to the fiction surrounding Final Fantasy VII, thanks to the ancillary things, like the other games and movie. So simply slapping a new coat of paint on the game and calling it a day is clearly not the answer. What should be hacked out or changed?
First thing that needs to be changed is the writing. The script for Final Fantasy VII was a damn mess. Not that translations for any games were amazing at that time, however, FFVII‘s issues are all the more glaring, probably due to the sheer size of the game. Using the original script as maybe a bad first draft, more passes are needed on the game’s writing, it needs to be improved in a few ways. Everything needs to flow better, errors need to be fixed, and one very uncomfortable character needs to be completely reworked. Continue Reading
So here I am, putzing around the internet, reading various news and gaming sites, and I go to Game Informer’s website. I see an article that interests me; Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is now out on the Wii U Virtual Console. The Wii U only. Not the 3DS Virtual Console, despite the fact it was a game originally for the Gameboy Advance, a handheld system. Also weird, considering I actually own Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones on my 3DS, because I was one of the idiots who bought a 3DS at launch, when there were no games for the system. Nintendo did make nice-nice with the early adopters by giving us 10 NES games and 10 GBA games for free. However, sadly this is the only instance GBA games have been offered on the handheld. At no time since has anyone else gotten the chance to pick up some great games, like Metroid Fusion; at least not on the 3DS.
The Wii U is a great system, and the gamepad controller is a perfect medium by which to play the multitude of GBA games offered by the Virtual Console service. However, not many people own a Wii U, especially compared to the 3DS. Checking some figures on Wikipedia, it seems the 3DS has sold over 50 million units, compared to the Wii U’s 9.5 million. Even if one assumes the average 3DS user buys 2 of the units in the life of the system, that’s still a 3DS install base of 25 million, easily eclipsing the Wii U install base. So why does Nintendo still persist in only offering legacy handheld software on its second place system? I seriously have no idea, and would love it if someone had an answer for this. Especially considering Nintendo clearly has no problem putting the games on the 3DS from a technical standpoint. My Ambassador Pass games are proof of that.
Nintendo, start putting your GBA games out on 3DS Virtual Console. People would buy them, I promise. Also, you should really put SNES games on the system too, would be a great bonus.
Have you ever purchased a game from Steam, and found out quickly it wasn’t what you thought it was, or just wasn’t very good? Maybe it was a game all your friends were playing, or maybe it was the new hyped up big release. Maybe you realized you actually needed the money for something else more important, but that money was now gone, thrown into the burning pit that is Valve’s gaping digital-distribution hole. Well whatever your reasons are or were for wishing you had that money back, fret no more. Steam announced the other day that you can now get a refund for a game purchased, for any reason. Don’t like it, can’t play it due to an underpowered computer, developer said something you don’t like on Twitter, it doesn’t matter!
There are a few, common sense restrictions associated with the service. You cannot have owned the title for more than 14 days, and you must have less than 2 hours of playtime on the game. So if you’re iffy on a game, don’t accidentally leave it on idly while you’re cooking dinner, as you’re just eating up precious refund time at that point. One last restriction that matters, if you’re banned from a game due to VAC violations, you cannot refund the game. Also Steam said they’re gonna be on the lookout for people abusing the system, which take that for what it is, as Steam is pretty much crap on the service front.
While this new system is great on its face, and is definitely a good step in the pro-consumer direction, it is not perfect. Some game developers, such as Nina Freeman are worried about games that take less than 2 hours to have a full playthrough. This essentially makes the game free as someone could play it, then get a refund, leaving the developer with nothing. While this sort of experience is probably in the minority of gaming, it should be addressed by Valve. Gaming is not as much a one-size fits all pastime anymore, and Valve should work with the developers of these bite-sized titles to fix this issue that could become a bigger problem. Maybe flagging a certain part of the game, made clear to the player as the point of no refund. I have no clue, I am not a developer, nor do I really tend to return games I buy. But something should be done on that front.
But that edge-case problem aside, this is definitely a positive development for the service. With such a large catalogue of games, there is definitely bad stuff in there that people should avoid, and may not realize that fact right away. Empowering a buyer with more options tends to be a better choice most of the time. While it isn’t perfect, it is a great first step, and should be revised and perfected with time. So for now, good on you Steam. If you have any further questions about the new system, head to the link above that answers some questions.
Remember when you were able to buy mods for Skyrim through Steam? That was an odd two days. I am sure anyone who cares about this topic already knows at least somewhat what went down, so I don’t think I am going to get into the particulars here. Instead I want to just kind of share what I think about the mods, someone from the outside. I don’t make mods, nor am I a huge PC player who uses mods. I tend to just play the base game and be done with it.
Personally, I think mod developers have every right to make money for the work they put in. The people who do these mods put in countless hours, and do so out of the goodness of their hearts and love for whatever game they’re busy modding away on. If their skill has reached a certain level, and the product is of a certain quality, asking for money to me is a no-brainer. However, the way Steam handled that whole process can be taught as a class of what not to do in your digital distribution service. When you’re introducing a system where people can pay for user-created content in your game, don’t do it in a title that already has something like 25,000 mods that are up for free. It’s going to do nothing but anger the user-base, a base that probably feels pretty entitled to begin with.
Also, have a system that provides oversight. Despite some people touting the free-market fixes all, it doesn’t. They’re wrong. Especially when you have asses out there who have no problem charging 20 dollars for a digital sword, or even worse, someone who steals the work of another, selling it off as their own. If paid mods are going to be a thing going forward for Steam, there needs to be both Steam-side and publisher-side oversight. It sounds redundant, but people will rebel against a system they feel is unfair, and as we see on the internet, try their best, while maybe succeeding to tear it down.
Lastly, being able to collect money and make more mods for work is something that will create better modders, and with that, better game developers. Working a full-time job on top of making mods is not the best way to train the next crop of full-time game developers. If even a fraction of the more talented people out there can lower some of their day job hours to devote more time to working on their mods, we as a video game playing community will benefit from it in the long run.
While people may not like paying for things, especially things they were getting for free for so long, it cannot stay the case forever. As the complexity of tools goes up in the game-making space, so too will the complexity of making mods. Putting so much time into a project should come with the chance of some form of recompense, if the designer so chooses. However, there needs to be a cutoff for this, a starting point. Going back to 2011’s game of the year to do that was not the best move. However, expect Elder Scrolls 6 to have paid mods in it right from the start. As long as systems are in place to protect both the creator and consumer, there is really nothing to be done, or should be done to stop the idea of paid mods. As a consumer who bought a game, I am not entitled to anything, except what is on the disc, and sometimes, not even then. It’s the world we live in, time to accept that these people deserve a piece of that pie.