Fashionably Late

Blog Therapy – Drafts Purge – Part 6

This series is when I get a bunch of draft posts left in the background and I feel compelled to clean them out. And by clean them out, I mean talk about what my point was when I was thinking of writing it, whether or not it’s worth continuing the thought (or not) and why, and the delete it, complete it, or leave it on the back-burner for a future date. So far in the series I have only parked one post to redo in the future and I actually want to adopt it as a pet project. But that is a post for another day.

 My other posts in this series are Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4  ,  Part 5 

Mad Money (12-9-2016)

I have a love / hate fascination with WoW tokens and this post was the beginnings of exploring that. Here is the snippet, which is kind of funny:

I continue to have an odd fascination with the WoW token. I understand true markets and how market forces work but continued to be confused and curious with The WoW token itself. I can’t understand what is driving the price changes. I even have a Token price tracker on my phone. Here is the history of the WoW Token by all time price.

You can see a slow climb from 20,000 gold to near highs of 60,000 currently. The dips are also particularly fascinating – prices rose steadily until Legion launch and then dropped to a new low

The funny part is the WoW token is currently at 130,000 gold(ish) down from a high of 241,000 earlier in the year.  The reason why I struggle with the token in general is that because it is not regulated, there is no impetus on Blizzard to bow to true market demand / forces. They can unilaterally set the price at whatever they want, and can just create supply from thin air as need be – so I am extremely sceptical of the validity of the price and how player choice and decision can impact that. Due to the fact they have monetary value, am I incorrect? Do they have to stick to a standards as set out by the Stock market in the USA? Is there a resource on this so I can take off my tin hat and see there is some legitimacy to it? Of course, due to the date and the prices I was talking about I am going to let this post plunge like the DOW and NASDAQ will do in 2019.

Stop Me if You Think (9-6-2017)

I had to add this one, for the irony of the post title. That was it. I think I was going to do a play on a Morrissey song, but there was no finish to the sentence, no text placeholders, nothing. And just reading that is probably a good test for me. Just stop me if you think. Period. Which means I should stop, right? Melancholy-ing destroying this post as I ponder my place in the Blogosphere 

Warframe – 20 Hour Impressions (10-17-2017)

I used to put a lot more text and base thoughts into my drafts to save for later and all I had included in this one was:

Codex is hidden behind scanning, of which I can’t figure out how to use on my PC – even when googling and checking out

I loved the idea of the Codex in the game but was having a really hard time sorting through  how to scan properly. Until I found the right article, and I ended up getting a gadget that I could load up 200 scans into it and it would Auto scan as I fought. The only downside to this was that sometimes I would kill things too fast before it could scan, and sometimes it would run out of scan-ability that I would have to reload at the end of the mission.  Warframe was a game I put a LOT of time into and loved a lot of things about it. Will be curious if Anthem can take it’s place for me. The learning curve was (is) steep and in pauses between other games I have played I did try to foray back – and hit a few roadblocks. Sad part is that I almost have completely forgot everything about what to do and where to go, and since that mountain is so hard to climb it is extremely challenging to even think about getting back into it. They just launched another expansion which makes me feel even further behind (I didn’t even GET to the last expansion planet). I still cheer for this title due to the happy balance of micro-transactions it has – its the darling of the industry for that right now. Killed, like my desire to reboot this game

Ostrich Burgers : Destiny 2 (10-25-2017)

Continuing my poor draft post design this was another little title that I think I know the idea behind the title, albeit completely misguided. And little text to support it.

The Destiny 2 PC Launch happened and the internet is breaking. Not because of how awesome the game is, but because apparently many people are getting banned, permanently, for “no apparent reason”.

This post was subsequently solved to the tune of not admitting what was doing it but I always wish that companies would call out the people who do lie on these. There have been some cases in the past where devs have done just that, and showing who is banned and why is a great step to be transparent with the community and to also build a support network around the company for when they do ban. Everyone likes bans, except the person being banned. And, I am one of those people what would err on the side of the ban being more likely to give a false positive (with a system to correct and identify quickly) than to have a system that is too lax and lets cheaters through the gates. Recently in a Battlefield 5 game there was a guy clearly using a wallhack glitch as he was 76-0 before people found out that he was shooting through walls in a very safe place. Destiny 2 is still the only game I want to play that I can’t due to how terrible the premise/story is that it is on principal now. Banning this post, and telling the world.

(no title) (10-28-2017)

I was still playing Warframe, and this was the text I had written:

Hattip to the Warframe Reddit:

Not sure if I need to say much else.

I still don’t. Meta-critic is broken as a place for people to review bomb. It’s too bad we don’t have a place to decide on whether or not to take a chance on a game… it’s the opposite of Flixster in many ways – which seems to work – as fun and blockbustery movies often get panned by the critics but fawned over by the public – and I always trust the user rating on those ones. For some reason gamers are unable to divorce a game from the social issues they may or may not feel is represented / not represented (blah blah blah). Judge a game by the game, enough already. I think I did a post about this already, so giving this post a 0/10 for it’s SJW stance.

Show and Tell : Limbo (12-05-2017)

One of the really fun things about Warframe is that your main character can control so many different kinds of Warframes that it is a very “alt-friendly” game. Since I was really enjoying the game I started doing a Show and Tell series about my favourite frames. Here is what I wrote about Limbo.

Limbo is the gentleman Warframe. It has to be true, because, well, a top hat! From my understanding he is also the only Warframe that has interchangeable hats as an option. You do need to look good while you kill, right? Limbo is a quest frame – you get him by completing a quest chain (but still need to build).  I had a very strange run with Limbo leveling him – I went from complete confusion, to mild frustration, to a degree of joy in sorting through his playstyle and abilities. He is definitely  Warframe that proves Digital Extremes is not afraid to try new and interesting things with their mechanics. Those mechanics, however, make gameplay a very intriguing option with overall frustration for non-grouped players – or players unfamiliar with the mechanics.

Here is his reveal video, to high level the concept before I go into greater depth.

The Rift mechanic is fun. Hitting a single key can remove myself from danger – but I am still visible. This means that when I am in the rift enemies see me, and try to attack me, but they can’t hurt me.  Limbo’s abilities push and pull friends and enemies into the rift (against their will) and that is where frustrating play can happen. Oh, you just unleashed your super damaging ability on the big bad boss? Sorry – I just banished them to the Rift so that damage is wasted. But here, let me put YOU into the rift with me and we can now 2v1 him since we can ignore all other enemies.

I didn’t finish the post, or the series, but I still really loved playing his interesting Rift mechanic when I was a player. I’ll let this one rest as is as well.

That cleans out any and all drafts I had from prior to 2018 – and as with my other posts on the subjects, it feels great to have it all cleaned up and can face 2019 with only 2018 drafts to fix. Which will come at a later date. Isn’t there some saying… cleanliness is next to bloginess? Something like that?

The Last Of Us : Left Behind

My gaming laptop died. I stopped having a gaming computer many years ago and instead bought a few high powered ASUS gaming rigs. This worked well for my gaming while I traveled for work a lot and lonely nights in the hotel was filled with suspect internet connections and MMOs. My current rig just won’t turn on and I hope it is something as simple as a power pack. Regardless it has been a few weeks and ALL of my gaming has been done on my PS4 or my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – the latter of which plays my early access titles just fine (but not much else). I need to get my gaming laptop fixed as I am itching for a few MMO experiences that I can’t have on my systems. My only curiosity is how MMOs will play out on the PS4  and I am looking forward to finally trying TESO in this format and I may also try DCUO. This is relevant to this post because I may not have finished this title so fast were it not for my void in computing power.

Hot off the heels of my completion of The Last of Us (after picking on it a bit for it’s slow start) I started chipping away at the Ellie only game play in the DLC pack Left Behind. My version came with the add-on as I got the remastered version of The Last of Us bundled with my PS4 purchase.

Warning here – some spoilers ahead if you haven’t played through it.

The short version here is that the story elements and the way they were presented in this add-on to the game is making up for the exact shortfall and game play issues I identified in the main title. It really feels like the story is the central part of the game play instead of a secondary tack on (or worse, complete garbage) Because of this I much more enjoyed the game – even more than the main game.

I am really curious if I would have cared as much about it if Ellie wasn’t as well fleshed out in the main game. I am pretty certain if this part introduced Ellie, and there was another two hour intro better introducing Joel that the game would have been completely more engaging from the get-go. I do appreciate though that not all gamers would have appreciated that sort of ramp up time. I love story – this is a big part of why I game, to enjoy and experience stories. Others have different motivations and enjoy more direct action, so this is a very personal observation.

I also am very curious how TLOU would have looked if the entire game was in more of this narrative format. Not only could we have learned more about Tess, and the in between parts of the sickness and fall out but also the fleshing out all major friendly characters – AND maybe even the bad guys (really would like to learn more about that cannibalistic tribe). There are a lot more story elements to explore in this world that were sadly absent from the main experience. This game did end up feeling long because of oft tedious game play elements (until your inventory ramped up) which could have been much better served with story elements. Still, I bet that Naughty Dog and the acclaim they received from this DLC has a good idea on how to build out their next game.

The only thing that was weird to me (and I wonder if it was a bug?) Is that my game ended at the exact moment Ellie picked option two. We know what happens (her friend dies, she lives on) but I expected to see that play out for dramatic purposes. It felt like a bit of a let down, the timing of it all. I also felt that the kiss between Ellie and her friend took away from their companionship and in no way added it the story. Felt really tacked on for the male audience playing the game. They didn’t need to add in a romance angle to youthful best friends but I get their idea to show additional layers of complexity to an already messed up world for character building purposes. Still, I felt it wasn’t needed.

I wonder if the story breaks in TLOU: Left Behind annoyed the more action oriented gamers or if it was accepted as well as I did. I know the main game would have played out significantly better for me if it was in the same format as the DLC. Still, I am really glad I didn’t get Left Behind on this one.

Dumb Ways to Die

This is a game I am definitely “fashionably late” to as they already have a second version out. Still, let’s talk about the first.

My son asked to download this app on his iPad and I knew nothing about the game but was there to supervise so allowed it. It downloads, he fires it up, and he presses start. This is the first thing that pops up:

With a timer bar at the top, decreasing slowly. He looks at me and asks me what to do.

“Press it, clearly”.

He does, and a nuclear bomb goes off in some part of the world.

The whole game is based around a series of mini games and if you do not complete them correctly or in time, your little guy dies. The deaths are done in a playful, non-mortal or gory sort of way. The “people” you are trying to protect through the mini games kind of look like less shapely Barbapapas. The mini games are varied including (but not limited to): swatting wasps, plugging bullet holes with fingers, connecting same colored wires, swatting piranhas, running from fire, ducking while poking a bear, putting mustard on a hot dog before feeding it to a snake, removing toast from a toaster with a fork, etc. etc. Things that we face in our everyday lives. They occur in randomized order throughout the experience.

As far as phone/tablet games go, it is fun. The challenges repeat in random order and get faster and faster (and fasterer, and fasteresterer) so it gets harder and more frantic on an escalating scale. A long game will last 5 minutes so it is perfect for the in and out kind of enjoyment in small and short bursts.

An interesting part for me is that that damn red button pops up randomly as well and every time the natural instinct is to press the damn thing (causing the damn explosion) but I don’t do it! Damn I want to though. What is it with human nature and big red buttons?

If you are looking for a time waster, go download it – it’s good space on your phone/tablet.

Pointless fun, but sometimes that is the best kind.

The Wolf Among Us

In my not so classic installments of not so game reviews on not so new titles (entitled Fashionably Late) I finished my TWAU play through. I think I over praise story based games because they have stories – without as much focus on how well they are written (sometimes). This is because of the story drought I keep getting in my games. With that in mind, I must say I loved it. I loved the setting, I loved the Fable universe (it was my first introduction to it) and I thought it was a very clever and interesting use of fairy tale characters. A few improvements I’d like to see:

Warning: a couple mild spoilers below

  • Consistency on outcome based on choice (Mass effect was good at this). It only happened a couple of times to me but I did a wrong action based on the text and usually it was my mis-interpretation. An example of this is when you are having a drink with the Woodsman and he is sharing what his true intentions were for Red Riding Hood – one of the responses was “Glass him”. I thought that meant “cheers him” and I picked that, looking to make amends with my centuries old nemesis. So, when I smashed him across the face with my glass I realized my mess up. In Mass Effect each choice had clarity around Paragon, Renegade, or neutral which helped clarify some of the text when it was fuzzy. So yes, I want an underlying system to protect me from myself (in Mass eEffect, you could turn off the indicators if you wished). A simple system such as aggressive (red), charming (blue), neutral (white) to further clarify what the choice will lead to can’t hurt.
  • I have a PC X-Box controller and I found the game better in that control scheme. With the advent of tablets, etc. I’d love to see a touchscreen version. I game most of my non-cpu/gpu intensive gaming on my Surface Pro (Civ 5, X-Com, Telltale games) and I couldn’t play it without a mouse or joystick attached (I went for the latter). Would be nice to see in future editions!
  • Sometimes on certain choices you would just stand there and I believe there was supposed to be a facial expression or some sort of emote to show the response (or response to response) and that wasn’t always clear. They could do a better job of that.
  • A longer introduction of things at the beginning would have been helpful – without having any knowledge of the Fables universe I had to tread carefully. I had no clue if I was allowed to be rough (or supposed to be rough) or “one of the good guys”. I felt they did a good job introducing my “past” in that regard but without a nice introduction laying things out a bit more, I was left a little more to my devices than I would have liked to have been (upon further reflection) since it was my first exposure.
  • I am still torn if the Quicktime events actually add or detract from the game. Sometimes they felt cumbersome and crammed in to break up long conversation parts and rarely was it a welcome break from the focus of the game for me. I’d like to see that perhaps be a toggle as well. The frustrating part of it was on many of the events it told you to press a button and no matter how hard I would mash it I couldn’t get it full – so hard that I know it was impossible to do (I was a master at Track and Field!) so why give me that option anyway if you are forcing a fail state? It didn’t create tension, just frustration.

Most of these are quality of life things that I believe would improve the title a bit – but honestly they are pretty personal in preference. I am surprised this came out after The Walking Dead series as it felt like it was less polished, but that could have been the art style or how I was playing it on my Surface instead of gaming computer. Something about it felt less smooth or realistic (which sounds silly on a comic-y style game, I get it.) The epic battle with Bloody Mary when you finally show your true, full form was jaw dropping. The pacing worked well.

It is a pure story game, and is fun to play that way. I still think there is more room for story in our action games (and MMOs) but at least we have a nice departure here from the lobby grind fests that make up a lot of my playtime these days. Looking forward to the next Wolf Among Us season, and they really should drop the season part – the game plays much better all at once. I am fairly surprised that Telltale is the only company making these games – clearly there is a good market for them and I wonder why no one has risen to be a challenger.

The Walking Dead Season Two

Better late than never, my segments of reviewing games long out of the minds of the hip kids who grab them on launch day is now called “Fashionably Late”. I have a laundry list of games to play that are outdated in the  world of instant news and updates – but I’ll play them, and I’ll share things that stick out about them. Rest assured Fashionably Late posts have nothing to do with fashion – a glimpse of my wardrobe would prove that.

I was a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Season One and I watched and waited closely for the second season. I purposely didn’t buy it when it came out because I fundamentally don’t agree with the episode system. It’s a neat novelty and I get why they do it for production value, but really, it is just one game that is released over time. I enjoy playing games on my own time and am fine waiting longer to get my hands on it. Netflix is great for this too where I can fire off back to back to back episodes of all sorts of shows that are a season behind.  I purposely didn’t wait this long but it fell of my radar (somehow) until Izlain mentioned it in a post. Of course it was on sale on Steam (isn’t everything?) so I had to buy.

I crushed the game over the weekend in a few play sessions. It didn’t disappoint. Warning, below this picture are some possible (but mild) spoilers. Read on at your own risk if you haven’t played!

This image captures a lot of the spirit

I love the above picture of Clementine. It captures her growth from the first season through the second in a blood-splattering sort of way. I have a nine year old son so for me I tried to play the game as much as I could as if it was through his eyes – how would he cope? What decisions would he make? This made the experience even more personal for me. I was engaged, I cared for what was happening to the people involved, and the reintroduction of certain old characters was also nice to see.

The Good:

  • Believable Walking Dead world. I am a fan of the tv show, the comics, and season one and this game captures the “world” of the Walking Dead really well.
  • Solid story. Not too twisty and gimmicky while being relatable.
  • Introduction of new and mostly interesting characters.
  • Diversity of characters – different races, backgrounds, accents and style. Reflective of the real world.

Needs Improvement:

  • Too many characters left not enough personal investment in them.
  • If I had a weeks rations for every non-believable interaction from adult to child Clem could survive the apocalypse. (A woman telling Clem that the baby she is pregnant with isn’t her husbands? Sending an 11 year old into a room by herself to “scout” for walkers, while two adults scout the other room? Reaching to Clem to make decisions for the group as the deciding vote? Basically anytime someone starts their story chain with “I can’t believe I am telling a kid this” or ending it with “Clem is right”) There are a lot of examples of reaching decisions that were difficult to believe. Often.
  • False sense of “choice matters”. The characters that are going to die are going to die no matter what you do. (Except one).
  • Most of the exploration that occurs is just filler and pushing time out. There really isn’t much of a game here.

The part I struggle with this game is whether it is a game at all. The QuickTime events aren’t challenging and repeat until you are successful, and always only have one outcome. The walk around and click hotspots that are pre-identified don’t add a lot to the experience and just feel like a time filler. The only choices you make, the verbal responses, don’t impact the end result at all – but it does impact how people treat you (and how, in turn, you feel about them). This is just an observation. The experience is still really solid. I am just torn if the QuickTime really adds to it all in the end, or if there was more focus on expanding the conversations and storylines and skip out on the detracting items if it could be an even more rewarding and enriching experience. Either way, it is a very solid game from start to finish and maybe I will be less Fashionably Late for season three.

I haven’t played The Wolf Among Us yet but am queuing that up. Soon as it goes on sale on steam.

Late to the Party – League of Legends

I have really been enjoying myself in League of Legends. It’s a pretty good PVP game, and one area in particular I think scales well in general (and a good lesson for other games) – the learning curve.

I did the tutorial(s), and jumped into Co-Op vs AI pretty quick for a bunch of levels. Here is where I learned the basics of the game, and familiarized myself with a few different champs (both playing, and against). Took me a while to get comfortable with the constant running away, but hey, it’s a feature!

Level 10 jumped into PVP and they were pretty basic matches – stay in your lane, push towers, clear your lane of towers, push base, win.

I am now only level 16, and sitting at a 36W-26L record. Not spectacular, I know – but it’s all part of the learning. As I progress, the game around me changes naturally as more advanced players are introduced and more advanced tactics. I’m sure somewhere around 20 random teams will start worrying about comps and junglers, but right now the game is advancing in difficulty (generally) as I am advancing in skill (generally). I don’t actually play to win as much as I play to learn. Seems the more I focus on the latter the more the former happens.

This pace, if the average player pays attention and is willing to adapt, is providing a good learning curve. I suspect as I push 30 the games will continue to change to more of what the lvl 30 ranked games look like – I have a long way to go, but looking forward to learning and getting there. While not a MMO, I am actually enjoying the journey.

I even bought some Riot Points (LoL is FTP) and all that really does is helps me to get to 30 faster, if I feel my skills are outpacing my advancement (which it did) and I find I enjoy challenging games more than RoFL stomps anyway.

I’m playing Morgana, who is classified as support – but feels more like ranged damage. I also already own Soraka (support), Taric (support), Amumu (tank) and Pantheon (Melee/Damage). Morgana is who I play the best (and most) but I’m told that it’s good to get good with a various amount of champions in case your team requires a role (at 16, no one seems to care about team comps – everyone just picks their favorite). So I’m twisting in different champs to get familiar and comfortable.

It’s free and worth picking up, just get to level 10 before you decide the gameplay sucks. First few games I really didn’t enjoy myself – but that is because I didn’t take the time to learn the expectations (didn’t watch a video, nada) – the team and strategy aspects really shines through once you get comfortable and a full grasp of what the point is.

Always seem to be late to the good parties. Fashionably late, of course.