Monthly Archives: April 2013

Actual Adventuring

I’m not going to lie.  A majority of the time when I’m playing Guild Wars 2 these days I’m on the Trading Post.  But with some free time this weekend, I decided to actually PLAY the game.  So I took off to resume my adventuring where I left off.  Remember ages ago when I posted some screen shots from exploring Lornar’s Pass?  Well, guess who’s still there.  It’s a testament to what I believe is both an insane amount of content packed into the game, and the fact that my play is highly sporadic.

Here’s an example of an in-game event (above).  I don’t remember this guy’s name.  “El Satano” or something.  I get around pretty good solo in the game, so I figured, what the heck, I’ll try to take him out.  If I do, I get some bonus rewards for completing an event and the world in that area usually changes in some way that effects everyone.  But when my first couple hits didn’t make a dent, and then he wholluped me for half my health in one swipe… I RAN!  I’ll have to come back here when I have an actual group.

I play a Charr Mesmer, which means one of my special abilities is to create clones of myself.  Basically shadows of my player with minds of their own.  The damage they deal is low to moderate, and their health is low, so they don’t last long.  But while I’m out on my own, I’ve found them invaluable for creating distractions, especially when I find that I have bitten off more than I can chew.  If I time it right and using my elite skill, I can call up to 6 temporary allies to my side.

Choosing your weapons has a huge impact on how you play the game.  I play with a Greatsword in my first weapon set.  A huge two-handed sword that you don’t actually swing at anyone.  Instead it fires bolts of energy at long range along with some other skills to summon illusions.  My second weapon set is a sword in my primary hand, with a pistol in my off hand.

I really love this setup.  I’m able to initiate a confrontation from a distance and start dealing damage as the enemy moves to engage me.  When the foe gets into close range, I’ll use a shockwave to stun and blast him back, then fire away again and summon some illusions.  When the foe gets back up and again starts to close in on me, I’ll switch to my sword.  One sword skill allows me to perform several rapid attacks while invulnerable to attack.  Once this skill wears off I’ll stun the enemy with my pistol.  This gives me time to heal, or wait a second or two for my other skills to re-charge.  With this arrangement I really feel like I can control the mobs.  The backup from my clones helps provide additional attack power and soak up some of the hits as well.

Look at that ridiculous sword!  It’s twice as long as my character is tall.  He is possibly compensating for something.

Here is a sweet pirate lair.  Amazing structures like this are all over the place in this game.  When I came upon this there was a Quaggan in charge.  A race that is known for anything but being cut-throat and devious.  Apparently at one point, he told one of the other players in the game that he had always wanted to be a pirate Captain.  So that player along with anyone else in the area at the time fought and took control of this outpost and made the Quaggan Captain.  As time passes the broken pirate crew becomes restless and plans to retake the outpost.  That’s what happened when I was there.  And I’m proud to say that I was absolutely no help and the outpost was lost to the pirates.

I don’t remember what this place was.  But it looked cool, so I took a picture!

So I finally decided that it was time to advance in my personal story.  I went off to my next quest.  And this SUCKED.  My computer companion on this trip said, “Watch the flags and torches to know when the wind is blowing… you don’t want to get blown off this wall.” I probably got blown off that wall 20 times, easily.  That or I just plain fell off.  Guild Wars 2 is not a great platforming game, but they sure like to throw plenty of platforming at you with quests like this and jumping puzzles everywhere you look.

But at long last, I finally passed it.  With much relief.  Glad that’s behind me.  Oh, look!  I have some Trading Post cash to go claim!

Trading is Going Well

I don’t get to play Guild Wars 2 properly most of the week.  But I do take a little time to login, comb the trading post for stuff that looks profitable and flip it.  So far I’ve made most of my gold that way.  Started with just 3 gold, and now I’m up to 15 gold.  That has taken a couple weeks though.

That said, it has a bit of a snowball effect.  The more I make, the more I’m able to pour back into aquiring more items to flip.  So each day I make a little more.

Not too exciting, but it’s fun to set it all up, go off to work, then see what it has done through the day.

But for now, I’ve got some free time, so I’m actually going to go PLAY!

Biebs Bytes: Episode 4

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately.  I don’t really have any legitimate excuses.  Just haven’t felt too inspired lately.

Joined in another Biebs Bytes last night.  The topic was “TV vs The Internet”.  Hope you enjoy.

How much traditional TV do you watch, compared to Internet Streaming?

Truthful Quote of the Day

If this  were made today you would earn experience points, level up and then get some kind of cheat after a couple tries to help you through the level… because everyone is entitled to win!  Well, not back then.  These games made you cry.

The above is a quote from Mark Bussler’s “Classic Game Room” in his review for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II for GameBoy.

Games have come a long way.  20 years ago we were mesmerized by a few dozen textureless polygons in barren and featureless worlds.  We could have epic 2D adventures unfold on a canvas only 256 pixels wide.  Just like your grandparents lived without now expected amenities like air conditioning or cruise control, we played on without quick saves or wiki’s.  We didn’t long for them, because we didn’t know any better.

Technology has enabled games to be some of the most amazing pieces of entertainment production available.  Massive open worlds to explore, epic and cinematic story presentations, new ways of interfacing with that world and controlling your character that wouldn’t have been possible in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s. But strip away the technology, and what you expect out of a gameplay experience is fundamentally different than it was 20 years ago.

Game Over Little Mac

Let’s consider  metagaming.  Metagaming, in this context being what players in general expect from a video game, along with what developers produce to meet those expectations and sell games.  You couldn’t release a game such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II above on any current generation hardware and expect it to be even mildly well received.  It’s clunky, it’s slow, it’s repetitive, and it has a steep difficulty curve.  Consumers expect polished and expansive games with tons of content.  Many games don’t even include instruction manuals anymore.  No big deal, because the first 2 hours of gameplay are tutorials.  The game IS the instruction manual.  Without any research whatsoever, I feel pretty confident generalizing that the average gamer today has a shorter attention span than they used to.  Maybe that’s just something old farts like me say.  But I’ll even include myself in that generalization.  There are so many more mediums of entertainment and information now battling for our attention, that I don’t think it’s a far fetched claim to make.

Please don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m not saying “New School” is wrong, “Old School” is the only right way.  I just think that as the “meta” morphs the game experience slowly and over time, that eventually you reach a moment where you suddenly become aware and have to say to yourself, “How the hell did we get here?”  Where your computer controlled side kicks can kill every enemy in a level, where you can sit idle and let your health re-gen, where you can insta-save at any moment so there’s no fear of dying, or perhaps most egregious, purchase in game “power” with real world money to make a game easier.

then and now

As a developer, your job is to create games that will sell.  When games first became a profitable venture, it was the job of the developer to come up with a fun and compelling hook, then beat the ever loving shit out of you in short order.  In the arcades, this kept people pumping quarters into the machines.  Games that were intensely fun to get you playing, but quickly became incredibly hard to get you off the machine.  The first home consoles basically fulfilled gamers’ desires to bring that arcade experience into their home.  So again, developers gave gamers what they wanted.  As home consoles became more prevalent,  the market started to open up for games that were a more lengthy experience.  You could easily sit on your couch for 30 minutes or an hour and enjoy a video game now.  And again, with an installed hardware base already in place and the technological means to deliver those longer games; people first started to demand them, and soon expected them.

Over time, along with the technology, gamer’s expectations also evolve.  What is first innovative, soon becomes standard.  And once it is standard you become comfortable, even rely on it.  Jump back in the evolution chain and it can be difficult to adapt to a game that doesn’t have some of the expected features of a more modern title.  I experienced this with Final Fantasy III on the SNES.  I was trying to figure out how to use Sabin’s “Blitz” command, and was completely lost.  I didn’t have the instruction manual and there was no in-game tutorial.  I was completely adrift for a while.  I guess part of me just expected the game to hold my hand through that part, instead it opted to mercilessly kick my ass.

For me, some of the best games I’ve ever played are the ones that frustrated the ever loving crap out of me.  Because you keep tyring, and when you FINALLY beat it, you feel like you have really accomplished something.  I remember the first time I beat Ganon, got past Bald Bull, de-fused all the underwater bombs in time, and passed Stop N Go Station.  All some of the hardest and most rewarding experiences at the time.

battletoads

This isn’t a rant about how games aren’t hard any more.  There are still hard games.  This is about lowering the bar until the player can step over, rather than expect the player test their mettle. Regardless of a game’s difficulty there’s something I respect about a game that is unwavering in its challenge.  I feel there’s some degree of measurable respect to be given to players who meet those challenges.

Games now aren’t worse for their crutches.  Just a different kind of adventure.  One that is perhaps a little more scripted and forgiving.  But if you get a chance, pick up an old game.  Grab your old Super C cart and see just how far you can get your first time through.  It can be a humbling experience.  And in the “say anything” age of the internet, it is my observation that we could all use all the humbling we can get. Myself included.

Biebs Bytes – Hangout 3

Much more focused conversation this time, on a topic I could discuss for hours!  Retro Gaming!  Hope you enjoy this episode!  And thanks to Josh at JoshBieber.com, check out his site for lots of cool Tech tips and such!

Portable Gaming

Keeping it Portable

Spring at Last!

Well the weather the past couple days has been cold and dreary, but this past weekend was absolutely beautiful!  I for once didn’t have many commitments to worry about, so we spent a lot of time outside.  It’s like the beginning of Bambi where all the animals start crawling out of their holes for spring.  One by one, all the neighbors on our street started coming outside to do yard work, or just enjoy the day.  Wasn’t long before we were standing in the middle of the street yakking.  Gotta love the small town life.

Getting outdoors is great for Luke.  He has so much energy now, that it’s good to get him out of the house and burn off some steam.  He loves exploring the yard and especially playing with the sand from the street.  I know it’s only a matter of time though before he’s ready to start exploring past the confines of the yard.  Gotta watch that kid every second!

Here’s some pictures we took of Luke’s weekend adventures!


Read the rest of this entry